Title: Magic’s Burden
Author: Keira Marcos
Betas: Ladyholder & Chris King
Series: Harry Potter & the Soulmate Bond
Fandom: Harry Potter
Relationship: Harry/Hermione, Draco Malfoy/Daphne Greengrass
Word Count: 14,742
Warnings: Off-screen child abuse, discussion of child abuse, discussion of sexually abusive situations, explicit language, and ritual magic. EXPLICIT SEX.
Author’s Note: You know I hate Ron and Ginny Weasley, right? See Series page for further author notes, warnings, and ratings.
“Would you…” He trailed off and blushed which was so startling that Hermione paused.
“Would I what?” she asked as she slid astride his hips and braced herself on his chest. “Did you want me to blow you?”
“The answer to that question is always yes,” Harry said with a breathless little laugh. He stroked her thighs, then sat up. He wrapped his arms around her and nuzzled her neck. “I really liked it when you used your fingers.”
Hermione ran her fingers through his short hair. She missed his long hair. “Did you? Is that what you want?”
“Yes, I…” He laughed. “I can’t believe I’m so uncomfortable asking for this.”
“Me, either,” Hermione admitted. She pressed a kiss against his temple and sat back so she could see his face. He was still blushing. “I was pretty sure you were shameless.” She brushed her mouth against his as he ran his hands down her back and cupped her arse. “Didn’t you tell me to own my pleasure?”
“Yeah, I did.” He cupped her breasts and rubbed her nipples with his thumbs. “You’re so beautiful. I love being with you like this. I’m honored by the trust you give me.”
“You’ve earned my trust,” Hermione whispered. “Don’t ever doubt it. I trust you with everything.”
“You know I feel the same, right?”
“Your Lady,” Hermione murmured.
“My Lady,” Harry agreed and kissed her jaw. “The future of my magical house and the mother of my children.”
Hermione smiled, her eyes shining with more emotion than he knew she was ready to express. She slid off his lap and raised an eyebrow. “Turn over on your stomach.”
Harry’s eyes widened in shock but he did as instructed with barely any hesitation. He did trust her so he settled on the bed and shivered when her hands drifted over his back.
“You have a cute bum, Lord Potter.”
He laughed. “So do you.”
She palmed his arse cheeks and he took a deep breath.
“You just let me know if you get uncomfortable.”
“I’m totally on board with this,” Harry admitted in a husky whisper.
She laughed and placed a soft kiss against his shoulder blade. “I haven’t even started, yet.”
Harry relaxed and closed his eyes as her fingers slipped between his cheeks and brushed over his hole. He couldn’t believe he’d asked for this but he wanted it. He’d wanted it again as soon as she’d done it the first time. It was a little dirty and illicit which made it absolutely delicious. She pressed another kiss against the small of his back and he shuddered.
“You can ask me for anything,” she whispered. “I’d even strap a dick on and fuck you with it if you wanted.”
“Merlin, Mi,” Harry said with a laugh. He wasn’t sure if he was ready for that sort of thing but he couldn’t ignore the way his prick had twitched a little at the idea. He rubbed against the sheets a little and groaned when she pushed both hands to part his cheeks. “What… oh, fuck.”
She blew air over his hole and licked him. “Okay?”
Hermione hummed her agreement and swirled around her tongue around the edge of his arsehole. It was frankly the filthiest thing he’d ever had done to him and it was taking every bit of his self-control not to come all over the sheets. She licked him over and over again, dipping her sweet little tongue into his entrance briefly with each pass until he was shaking and clenching his fists in a pillow above his head.
Finally, when he thought he might genuinely lose it, she lifted her mouth off of him and rubbed his hole with the tips of her fingers.
“Turn over, I want to watch you come.”
Harry turned over immediately, palming his cock as he did to and jerking it a few times. He spread his legs and watched her with half closed eyes as she knelt between his thighs. “Like this?”
“Yeah,” Hermione agreed. “Tell me what you like best.”
She slicked up her fingers with the lubrication charm and pressed one finger into him. He stilled briefly, shuddered and nodded. Hermione pressed her finger in deep and watched him lift his hips just once before he relaxed on the bed.
“There?” She questioned.
“Fuck, that’s perfect.” He flushed, realizing he’d lapsed into parseltongue. “Yes, there is so good.”
She worked her finger against his prostate, sliding it in and out of him in the process. “Another?”
“Yeah, two would be good,” Harry bit down on his bottom lip and groaned when she added another finger and started to finger fuck him in earnest. “That’s… bloody hell.”
“Are you going to come for me?” Hermione asked as she ran her free hand down his inner thigh and cupped his balls. “You’re gorgeous like this.”
“I’m close,” he admitted as he jerked himself off. He rubbed his thumb over the head of his cock and his stomach tightened in anticipation. “Harder, please. Just… hell yes, Mi. That’s… fuck.” He came all over his fingers in a rush and shuddered as she pressed her fingers into him one final time.
Hermione leaned down and licked the cum from his fingers, her gaze locked with his as she did so. “Did you like it? When I rimmed you?”
“I loved it.” Harry took a deep shuddery breath. “Who knew you’d be such a little freak?”
Hermione laughed and pulled her fingers from her boyfriend’s clenching arse. “Oh, you knew.” She slid astride his hips and rubbed her cunt against his half hard prick. “I’m you the other half of your soul—your mirror. That means I’m just as dirty as you.” She ran her still slick fingers down the center of his chest and smirked when his eyes darkened and started to glow violet. “Better keep that dragon buried deep, Lord Potter. There isn’t enough room for him and me both in this bed.”
“I want to fuck you until you’re mute,” Harry said bluntly. “I’m going to own you—your mouth, your sweet pussy, and that hot little arse of yours, too.” He watched her cheeks darken and her eyes grow bright. “Maybe I’ll conjure my twin and we’ll both fuck you at the same time. You won’t even know which one of us is where. He could be sliding his prick into your arse right now. What would you do?”
“Let him,” Hermione admitted with a full bodied shiver as Harry’s cock hardened against the heated skin of her sex. “Maybe he could bugger you instead.”
Harry’s cock twitched against her. “You’re so filthy, Mi.” His eyes darkened and he hissed low and hard.
Hermione shivered as the bed shifted and a warm familiar body slid up behind her. Hands she knew so well drifted over her hips and cupped her breasts as the conjured version of Harry pressed his cock against between the cheeks of her arse. He didn’t try to push inside—just flexed his hips and rubbed against her.
Hermione relaxed in the twin’s arms. “How much of this is you and how much of him is… your animagus spirit?”
Harry grinned. “I told Master Ito that you were far too smart for your own good. What would you say if I told you he was almost entirely my animagus spirit? That he is a dragon wearing my body, thinking my thoughts, wanting my witch.” He grinned when she got progressively wetter against him. “Call him Pendragon.”
“Oh, Harry, you’re…”
“Can I fuck her,” Pendragon asked as he pinched her nipples.
“Absolutely not,” Harry said with a laugh. “At least, not before I do.”
Pendragon smirked and rubbed his mouth against Hermione’s neck. “I’ll be there for that anyway.” He nuzzled Hermione’s ear and whispered, “did you know that, little one? I’m always with him—when he eats you, I taste you, too. You’re delicious. I love when he eats you.”
“One of you could be eating me right now,” Hermione said breathlessly. “Instead of teasing me with cock I’m not going to get.”
“Oh, you’ll get it eventually,” Harry promised.
She only pouted a little as they maneuvered her on the bed until she was flat on her back. Pendragon slid down between her legs without another word and worked his tongue into her hole.
“Oh.” Hermione’s eyes fluttered shut and she buried her hand in his hair.
“Merlin, look at you,” Harry said as he rubbed her tummy with one hand. “You’re gorgeous like this.”
“I want to suck you,” Hermione said as she rocked into his twin’s mouth. “Just… fuck, Harry. Fuck. I think he transfigured his tongue.”
Harry laughed and glanced down to watch his twin lick up between her labia with a very familiar forked tongue. He watched Pendragon slide his tongue in and he shivered.
“You have no idea,” Hermione said breathlessly. “Come here, fuck my mouth.”
“I think if I come he’s going to disappear,” Harry said. “I do have to maintain some mental focus on him to keep him here.”
She pulled on him and he gamely slid astride her. He rubbed his prick up between her breasts a few times before grabbing the headboard and slowly feeding her his dick. Hermione sucked him in eagerly, her hands clenching his hips as she did so. Harry let her set the pace and was grateful because she was far rougher on herself than he would’ve been. It was delicious and thrilling. He groaned each time the head of his prick hit the back of her throat and she swallowed.
“Fuck, love.” He trailed his fingers through her hair. “I’m going to come.”
Her fingers tightened on his hips and she sucked him in hard. Harry came with a shiver, his stomach clenching with pleasure. He pulled from her mouth and slid down her body as his doppelgänger disappeared in a flash of magic. The memory of what his twin had done pushed into his mind and magic at the same time. He groaned against her stomach, hitched her legs over his shoulders and worked his mouth on her pussy rough and fast until she was coming with a cry.
“We… probably don’t need to deny ourselves like this,” Harry said hoarsely against her thigh. He kissed her there, soft and slow. “Our bond is needy and not having any form of sex for five days makes it obviously worse.”
She laughed weakly. “You think that was out of hand?”
“It was something else,” Harry admitted. He slipped up the bed and laid down beside her. “A little more intense and also… absorbing all of that after my double disappeared was a very heady experience. I can’t even imagine how it would be to have memories of being… inside you in two different ways at the same time would be.”
She smirked. “But you can’t wait to find out.”
Harry exhaled sharply and dropped onto his back. “Yeah. I’m really glad you aren’t a prude. That would totally ruin my fun times.”
She laughed. “Agreed. Do you think you could cast the twin spell on me?”
“I…” He turned on his side and stared at her. “Hmmm, I’d have to ask Master Ito first and we’d have to practice on each other before I’d ever risk doing it to you. It’s a parselmagic spell. It would be handy in a fight.”
“Or elsewhere,” she said with a little laugh and grinned when his eyes flashed violet. “Pendragon.”
“The kids at Potter Redoubt named my form,” Harry admitted. “They insisted. They had this whole process with nominations and ballots. It was adorable.”
“Why keep it a secret?”
“It’s… a secret I share with them,” Harry admitted. “Eventually it will get out but for now it’s just something for me and them.” He tapped her nose. “And you.”
“Question,” Hermione said. “Why haven’t you used the twin spell to practice flying with a passenger. You wouldn’t hurt him if you dropped him. You could just absorb him back into your magic before he hit the ground. You’d also avoid getting lectured by mum for letting the Headmaster help you.”
“Merlin, every time he shouted ‘woohoo’, I got really tickled. It’s impossible to laugh in my dragon form, you know. As for my twin, he’d probably have to be the dragon and I would have to be the passenger,” Harry admitted. “I don’t know if I can shift into my animagus form when I’m casting that spell. The spirit of him fully inhabits that body when I cast it. It’s an intriguing thought. I wonder if he could transition without me?”
“You said he was a dragon with your thoughts, your body, your wants,” Hermione said. “Is the reverse true?” She trailed a finger down the center of his chest. “Do you have his instincts and drives? I think you certainly have his temper and his territoriality, which is probably why you blacked out in rage when you led your conclave to your ritual space. They’d debased your territory, your land.”
“Yes,” Harry murmured. “Even now, the taint left in the place pushes at me and makes me furious. I feel as if I should’ve claimed the land years ago but if I had we might not have been able to reach Luna in time. Have you met your form yet in meditation?”
“I’ve seen her,” Hermione said with a sly smile. “I want it to be a surprise but I’ll tell you if it’s going to bother you.”
“I adore surprises,” Harry promised. “I’ll wait until I can meet her.” He rubbed his thumb over Hermione’s bottom lip. “It’s Halloween next week.”
“Yeah, there’s always a feast,” Hermione murmured.
“I won’t be here for it,” Harry said. “I don’t want to bring everyone down with me but I can’t celebrate it. I’ve never been able to celebrate. Dad and I often can’t even spend it together, to be honest. He does so well to keep his grief at bay but on the anniversary of their deaths…” Harry cleared his throat. “They were a triad.”
“Oh.” Hermione’s eyes dampened. “Oh my god. How… oh, Harry.”
“I know,” Harry murmured. “He lost a lot that night—even lost his child temporarily. I was so broken that they would barely let him touch me the first two weeks at St. Mungo’s. Just six months in Azkaban had nearly ruined him and more than a year in the hands of my muggle relatives almost destroyed me. It’s all mixed in with the murder of James and Lily.”
“No one has ever said that he was…”
“Their consort,” Harry supplied. “No, only Remus Lupin even knew. They kept it a secret because of the war and he keeps it a secret now because it’s personal and private.”
“Which one of them is your biological father?” Hermione asked.
“James,” Harry said. “But they didn’t know until I was born. They didn’t care, really. Yes, James had to supply a blood heir for his title but he didn’t care when that child came along. When Regulus Black died—my Dad had a legal claim on the Black title but he didn’t want it. I don’t think he would’ve ever claimed it if he hadn’t needed it to exert political pressure on practically everyone to get access to me.”
“They had no right to keep you from him,” Hermione said fiercely. “Even then he had to have been your third magical parent.”
“Yes, he was,” Harry agreed. “But Dumbledore thought he was protecting me from the darker elements of the magical world and honestly he probably was. He was certainly protecting me from Fudge and Death Eaters. It just never crossed his mind that my Aunt would hate me so much for being magical.”
“I want to kill her,” Hermione whispered.
“She suffers more in her current state, trapped in a body she can’t use and knowing that magic could cure her. A cure the Headmaster has spent more than a decade denying her,” Harry said with a sigh. “He thinks I don’t know about that but I… I’ve had elves follow him to visit her. Frankly, I’ve considered moving her so he can’t find her.”
“Because it’s not just her he’s torturing,” Harry said. “It’s his… penance. His yearly reminder of his failure. His guilt makes him vicious to her and no one is fussed to interfere because she’s an evil cunt herself. I mean, he doesn’t torture her physically or anything beyond the fact that he continually denies her a magical cure to her condition. There has to be a day when we all let it go.”
“He… he tried to die for you.”
“Yes,” Harry nodded. “He certainly did. I’d have never asked that of him or anyone else for that matter. I’m certainly not ready to die but I’m not sure I could take it if another person died in my place.”
“You’re not ready for it but you’re not afraid of it either,” Hermione said. “Are you?”
“No, I’m not,” Harry murmured. “I know… I know that my parents are waiting on the other side.”
“How?” Hermione asked flummoxed. “How can you be so sure?”
“Because I’ve seen beyond the Veil,” Harry said and turned to look at her. “Have you ever heard of the Deathly Hallows?”
“The children’s fairytale,” Hermione murmured. “The Resurrection Stone, the Elder Wand, and the Cloak of Invisibility.”
“The Headmaster carries the Elder Wand,” Harry said carefully and watched her pale. “I have the Cloak of Invisibility.” He caught her hand when her mouth trembled. “And I banished the Resurrection Stone when I was ten.”
“Was it one of the objects that helped you destroy Voldemort’s spirit?”
“Yes, he was using the Resurrection Stone as a horcrux. Do you know what that is?”
“No, no clue,” Hermione murmured.
“This isn’t something you can ever speak of, Hermione, it is very dark magic. The blackest magic on Earth.”
“Okay,” Hermione said and took a deep breath.
“I won’t… can’t repeat the how of it,” Harry began. “We all swore we’d hold it secret and work for the rest of our lives to destroy any information that could lead to another person creating one. Both my conclave and Master Ito’s conclave have worked the world over to accomplish it. A horcrux is a soul anchor. It is created with a ritual murder.” He brushed a tear from her cheek. “It requires the caster break their soul and store a portion in the anchor. Tom Riddle made five—we banished six pieces of his soul. In fact, you helped me get rid of one.”
“The diary,” Hermione took a deep breath. “Good lord.”
“Yeah,” Harry said. “It was a missing piece of our puzzle—that diary. It solved a lot of questions and allowed us to finally complete the destruction of his soul during your third year.”
“The Resurrection Stone?”
“After I banished his soul fragment from it, I… my only excuse was that I was young and stupid and I wanted so much to see their faces for real.”
“Oh, Harry, the stories say to call a soul with the stone is to torture it.”
Harry averted his gaze. “I was young. It didn’t… it was just a few minutes. I let it go before it started to hurt them. I saw my whole family—parents, cousins, uncles, aunts, three sets of grandparents though only my parents talked to me. They all just gathered around me and they were all so… thrilled to see me. It was devastating. I came precariously close to damaging my parselmagic that night. The grief I felt was so overwhelming that I couldn’t even speak. I was destroyed.”
“And Pendragon surfaced.”
“Yes.” He glanced at her. “How did you know?”
“You said that all of your accidental transformations were extremely painful for you—emotionally or physically. I have to assume you did it once with those muggles. You did it again when you hurt your Dad. What you described… it just made sense.” She leaned in and kissed him. “What did you do with the stone?”
“Threw it through the Veil of Death in Rome.”
“There is more than one Veil?” Hermione asked flabbergasted.
“Yes, there are seven such gateways to the afterlife,” Harry murmured. “I don’t know if they were once all one piece or if there were always seven. I’ve never researched it.” He ran a hand down her body and slid it confidently between her legs. “I was a bit rough with you.”
“A little,” she admitted with a blush. “I really enjoyed it.”
“Sore?” Harry asked. “My transfigured tongue is certainly bigger than my human one.”
Hermione shivered. “That sounds so dirty.”
“Yeah, it does,” Harry murmured. “You know what that makes you?”
“A very lucky witch?”
“Certainly the first witch in thousands of years to get fucked with a dragon’s tongue,” Harry said with a little smirk. “The last recorded dragon animagus was at least twenty-five hundred years ago.”
“Oh,” Hermione said with a full body tremble as heat drifted off his hand. “What are you doing?”
“Just a little healing spell,” Harry murmured as he nuzzled her neck. “I have to take care of my pussy.”
“You were right about one thing,” she said as she stretched leisurely and spread her legs wider for him. “We definitely shouldn’t let our bond get needy like that. I could barely concentrate to write my essays.”
“That’s truly a shame,” Harry murmured. “I’d hate for your grades to slip. I’ll just have to add making you come to my daily planner.”
Minerva McGonagall was sitting at the Gryffindor table. It was a rare, practically unheard of happening. A large piece of parchment was spread out between her and Harry Potter, both had pushed their breakfast off to the side.
“This rune sequence here is…” Harry trailed off. “Can we get a consult from Professor Babbling?”
Minerva nodded. “Astoria, go ask Professor Babbling to join me if she has a moment?”
Astoria jumped from her place beside Harry and darted off to the Head table to get the teacher in question.
“My main concern,” Harry began as he plucked up a piece of parchment and a quill from the pile they were working with, “is keeping the integrity of the original spell work in the circle. This rune formation is different than the others and incorporates power elements that would be difficult to place with a both the conclave and the coven in place. Additionally, I’m not sure I should renew this sequence at all.”
Babbling threw a leg over the bench and sat down right beside Minerva. “What are you to up to? Everyone at the head table is betting on it.”
Minerva glanced at the table and found Flitwick writing away on a piece of parchment. “The Glain Neidr is going to help me cleanse the Rowan Circle this evening. We’re going over the final preparations for it. Harry has been studying the rune structure of the circle and has a few questions.”
Harry turned the parchment he was working on around so Babbling could review it. “Okay, my main concern are the oldest inscriptions. The ritual space is the oldest ritual circle in Britain but it wasn’t always in the hands of the House of Ross. You can see that the land changed hands a few times before it was finally ritually claimed by the Rowan Circle. These older runes are the root of magical power for the space and the ley lines running through the entire structure creates a nexus under the rune stone here.”
“Careful work there,” Babbling said. “Too much power would destroy it but I can’t see how you can avoid working with it if you want to truly clean the space. These older runes aren’t… ah, lad, I’m surprised at you.” She took his quill from his hand and made a correction. “Look again.”
Harry took the parchment and huffed. “Oh. That’s…” He pushed it aside and reviewed the larger map. He flicked his fingers to enlarge the part they were studying. “It’s been rubbed or eroded away by the weather.”
“Yes, you’ll need to renew the protections on the stone structure itself but it’s obvious the ritual space was originally built by a man. It certainly explains the unique power structure of the stones.” She pointed to the free standing stone columns. “Female here.” Then she touched the dais in the middle. “Male here.”
“Female here,” Harry said, running his finger around the edge of the circle. “But male in the middle. Yes, I see. It’s fascinating, isn’t it? How the magic of the space shifted and mutated to what it is today. The way the ley lines spread out under the space like a hive mind. There is a sentience here that is missing from most ritual spaces I’ve encountered and a year ago I stood in a four thousand year old ritual circle in Japan that wasn’t nearly as complicated and lovely as this one.”
“The strength in the middle and the heart on the outside,” Babbling suggested.
“No,” Harry murmured. “No, the heart is here.” He touched the dais. “And the strength of the circle is all female energy. Chaos in the heart and order where it is needed most.”
“But wouldn’t the wizard’s energy be protective?” Astoria asked as she leaned forward to look at the map. “To protect the witches?”
“A woman’s ability to love is her strength and the magic of a witch brims with that fierce devotion,” Harry explained. “In ritual magic, such emotion can be structured and channeled in such a way that it creates a huge swell of protective energy.” He enlarged a section so she could see it. “You see this? This sequence is about a sixty years old.”
“My mother added it,” Minerva murmured.
“Isobel McGonagall nee Ross,” Harry said. “The energy of the sequence speaks to sacrifice and motherhood. She added it to the Rowan Circle after she’d given birth. She sought to bless her family’s ritual space with the…” He paused briefly. “With the love she felt for her child. There is no love like that—nothing compares to the love a mother has for her child. It is selfless, timeless, and so uniquely powerful that it defies imagination. This is what makes the Rowan Circle so powerful.” He let the map return to the shrunken state and touched points all around the circle. “You can see it here and here and here… every generation of witch who has used this circle has used the love given to a child to add to the space.” He touched a relatively new column. “This is Hermione’s adoption.”
“Yes,” Minerva admitted and cleared her throat. “My son is here.” She pointed to another column. “My brothers are here and here.”
“What does it mean for the power of the circle?” Astoria asked.
“It means that the Rowan Circle is uniquely suited for fertility rites and for healing,” Harry said. “It is also a very good environment to create marital bonds and various other rituals that are you too young to hear about.”
“Like openings,” Astoria said wide-eyed.
Harry winced. “Yes. Don’t talk about that. You’re too young.”
Astoria laughed. “I got the little witch’s talk last summer, Lord Harry.”
He covered her mouth with one hand. “Too young.”
She laughed and shoved his hand off. “Seriously.”
He covered his own ears. “Too young.”
Astoria huffed and poked him before turning to Minerva. “Professor, when I’m old enough to be considered, could I apply to be an acolyte?”
“All witches sorted into Gryffindor are automatically considered for such status when the time is right,” Minerva said. “Moreover, Astoria, your mother is a member of my inner circle. Your place among the Rowan Circle is practically a given as long as you prove yourself worthy of our legacy and our teachings.”
“That’s brilliant,” Astoria declared. “Can I come watch tonight?”
“Absolutely not,” Harry said hurriedly before his Aunt Min could respond.
“I don’t see…” Minerva trailed off when Harry glared at her.
“Aunt Min, you realize I’m going to have to do this ritual naked, right?”
“Oh.” Lavender Brown leaned forward. “Can I come?”
Hermione, who had spent the entire conversation reading, looked up from her book and glared at her roommate. “Lavender, I will end you.”
“You’re so mean, Hermione.” Lavender laughed.
Minerva laughed. “There will be no guests, Harry. Only fully inducted members of the coven. I swear it.”
He huffed and nodded. “Right.”
Rowan Circle was beautiful. Hermione plucked up a piece of heather and worried the purple flower between her fingers. Minerva sat down beside her and watched her for a long moment.
“Harry is worried.”
Hermione’s gaze widened and she turned to look at her mother, startled. “About what?”
“About how you’ll perceive him,” Minerva said plainly. “About how you will come to view ritual magic and your place in this part of our world. Many Muggle-borns never really fully embrace the fullness of their magic. You often hesitate in the practical applications of your craft. It’s disconcerting to someone like Harry who embraced his magic very early on.”
Hermione frowned at her. “I can’t help that I was raised by Muggles.”
“No, of course not,” Minerva said with a sigh. “That’s not the concern.”
“Harry’s connection with magic is spiritual,” Hermione said. “Magic is alive for him.”
“Yes,” Minerva agreed. “I believe if you give yourself time that you will develop such a connection yourself because Magic is alive, Hermione. Magic is an intelligent presence in the soul of a magical person. She guides us, protects us, and even in some cases punishes us.”
Hermione nodded. “I’ve read the theory.”
“But you haven’t embraced the knowledge,” Minerva said.
“No, I can’t say that I have,” Hermione blushed. “And Harry’s worried about this?”
“It’s a visceral thing for him, I think. After all, the very foundation of your soulmate bond is built on the idea that Magic is alive.”
Hermione’s gut tightened in horror. “He doesn’t think I doubt him, does he? Because I don’t, Mum, I don’t… I mean… he’s just… there is no doubt in my mind that he is my soulmate. I feel it deep down inside every single time I see him. I think I felt it before I was told. The first time I saw him, it was like some dark empty part of me was just filled up in an instant.”
“I believe he fears exposing you to the depth of his craft,” Minerva said. “He’s not said as much to me but he does fear that your frustration with the knowledge you’ve yet to gain might lead to resentment.”
Hermione flushed. “I admit to being frustrated.” She waved a hand around. “There is this whole other part of the magical world that I know nothing about and I have to wonder if I’d have ever learned if you hadn’t adopted me.”
“Most Muggle-borns don’t bother with our more traditional forms of magic. They balk at the way covens and conclaves work. They find some rituals morally ambiguous to say the least. There is an old, rather inappropriate tradition that pretty much states that the best way to make a Muggle-born lose interest in joining your coven is to invite them to a sex ritual.”
Hermione burst out laughing. “Oh.”
Minerva grinned at her. “Old but true, I’d say. I’ve lost my share of acolytes to that particular circumstance over the years. There are often more than a few Muggle-borns in Gryffindor.”
“Was Lily Potter part of our coven?” Hermione asked.
“Yes,” Minerva said. She stood and held out a hand. “Come, I’ll show you something.”
Hermione gamely took her mother’s hand and let herself be lead across the circle to one of the granite columns. “You let Lily Potter bless a stone?”
“It’s…” Minerva took a deep breath. “I was grooming her to take my place, Hermione. It was my intention to have her accept the Ross legacy. We agreed she’d do it after she had at least two sons.” She touched the runes on the column. “So her first born was included in the blessings of our circle.”
“I don’t know what to say,” Hermione whispered. She reached out and traced the runes with trembling fingers. “I hope I’m half the witch she was.”
“You’re… everything I could’ve ever wanted in a daughter, don’t ever doubt that,” Minerva said.
Hermione glanced around the ritual space and took a deep breath. “Molly Weasley is part of your inner circle.”
“I…” Hermione looked at the ground. “I can’t welcome her daughter among us.”
“Molly has already been informed that Ginerva won’t be offered a place in the coven,” Minerva said. “She doesn’t hold it against you. Ginerva certainly will but it honestly has nothing to do with you or Harry.”
“Then what?” Hermione asked.
“She allowed herself to be seduced by a dark object,” Minerva said shortly. “Granted, she was just eleven years old but her magical aura is tainted with it and that sort of damage can’t be corrected easily. The Rowan Circle has no place for such darkness. Even if the taint could be cleansed, the weakness in her character bothers me a great deal.”
Hermione nodded. “Okay.”
“If she says anything to you about it, direct her my way,” Minerva said. “I made this decision years ago, Hermione and Molly is aware. I’m not sure what she’s told the girl because that’s not my problem at present.” She cleared her throat. “The Glain Neidr will be here shortly.”
“I’m not going to freak out,” Hermione protested with a scowl. “I read the book Master Ito told me to read and I took his answers to my questions very seriously.”
“Very well. Take your place and clear your mind. I will draw on your magic this evening as it is a good time to introduce the coven and our ritual space to your magic.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Hermione whispered. She touched Lily Potter’s runes one more time and quickly crossed the space until she reached her assigned dais. She knelt there and closed her eyes.
The magic of the circle shifted and she opened her eyes to discover that the Glain Neidr had arrived—every single one of them in utter silence. A dramatic difference to their noisy apparition the day of the duel. They were all dressed in green ritual robes and hooded. The only reason she knew which one was Harry was because he had his magical staff in hand. No other member of his conclave had one, so he stood out. The wizards quickly arranged themselves around the circle while Harry moved to the middle with her mother and two hooded wizards.
Her mother left them and knelt on a dais beside Hermione and Harry shed his robe. Hermione barely refrained from glaring at the members of her own coven as Harry passed his ritual robe to one of the men and they both left him alone in the center of the circle. Nearly every inch of him from his collar bones to his ankles was covered in delicately drawn black runes. His magic shimmered on his skin, and even flaccid his cock lay thick and long between his thighs. She was pretty damn certain that no one had any business seeing him naked but her. She was extremely glad that Ginny wasn’t an acolyte for the coven and never would be. She doubted this was the only time her entire coven would see Harry naked and literally on display. She’d honestly never seen him look more beautiful than he was in that very moment.
Hermione shifted on her knees and took a deep breath as her mother cast her circle and runes lit up all around the ritual space on the columns. Harry turned and looked right her in that moment and he gave her a brief nod before he let his head fall back and the runes on his body started to throw off light as they activated. His staff left his hand and hovered in front of him as he started to speak in parseltongue. The magic of the Rowan Circle shifted and expanded. It brushed over her skin and Hermione shivered as she caught a faint hint of Harry’s magic underneath it at all. She glanced towards her mother and found that Minerva McGonagall was deeply entrenched in maintaining her circle. She felt the pull of her own magic and she relaxed as her mother skimmed the surface of her magic and gathered what she had to offer to the ritual.
Harry’s breath caught audibly and he stopped speaking. He turned to look at her slightly shocked but resettled himself and continued. Magic built and swept through the circle in visible waves. A low rumbling sound grew and the ground trembled slightly before everything went completely silent. Then it began again, magic heaved and her magic shifted. Her core literally throbbed—thud, thud, thud—in time with the surges of magic from Harry. Her skin flushed and her sex went wet with arousal.
Hermione let her head fall back, grateful that she wasn’t standing like the members of the Glain Neidr. She took a calming breath then another but she knew from experience that absolutely nothing was going to stop what was coming. Orgasm hit her like a punch, she shuddered and moaned softly. Her eyes flew open and Harry was staring at her, eyes wide. Magic shifted around him and his magic receded. He closed his circle without a word and flicked his staff into his bracelet with a practiced wrist movement.
One of the men from his conclave came forward with his robe and Harry shrugged into with a casualness that spoke more of an utter lack of body shame than anything else. He fastened the buttons with steady hands as Hermione felt her mother’s magic retreat and the Rowan Circle was released with a gentle sweep of magic. Hermione stayed where she was.
“Did that just happen?” One of the men asked as he lowered his hood. One by one the Glain Neidr followed suit and most of them focused on her.
Harry’s gaze went hard in an instant and he turned to stare pointedly at the man who’d spoken. “Mind yourself, Wilhelm.”
The man glared pointedly at him. “I’m bloody tired of the secrets!”
“Then you can leave,” another man spoke and shifted around the circle until he was standing on Harry’s left.
“Oh, come on, Banner, you’re fed up with it, too! You expect us to continue following this little son of a bitch’s lead when he actively keeps secrets from us?” He made the mistake of drawing his wand.
Hermione was on her feet in an instant, she apparated across the ritual space, directly in front of Harry, drew her wand and leveled her wand at the older wizard even as wind stirred around her, blowing her hair and robe. Gryffindor’s Tear vibrated on her throat. The air around them started to heat up.
“You watch your mouth,” Hermione snapped, eyes darkening with temper.
The man glared at her. “You stay out of our business, chit. I already put up with one child ordering me around. I won’t tolerate another.”
Hermione tilted her head and transformed in a blink of an eye. Wilhelm barely had time to stumble a few steps before she whipped into the air, in a sweep magic and golden wings. She wrapped six feet of body around him, jerked him from the ground and threw him from the ritual space. He hit the ground with a meaty thud but managed to rise to his knees. She hovered in the air above her mother’s circle, shining with magic for nearly a minute before lowering herself to the ground and gaining her feet as a witch.
Wilhelm stared at her with a mixture of horror and awe. “Coatl.” His fingers tightened on his wand and her smirked. “Well, at least we know why Potter is so enamored with fucking you.”
Harry swept past her, stalked from the space, jerked Wilhelm to his feet by the front of his robes and apparated. The rest of the Glain Neidr followed suit without a word. Harry reappeared suddenly and stared at her pointedly. “You’re absolutely right, that was the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen a witch do in my entire life.” He offered her a salute and apparated away again.
Hermione huffed and holstered her wand.
Nymphadora Tonks, the youngest member of the coven outside of Hermione, snorted. “No, really, did that just happen?”
Hermione blushed. “It’s not the first time. He made me come when he placed the discretion ward on me.”
Amelia Bones burst out laughing.
“I didn’t think it would happen again!” Hermione exclaimed hotly.
“Honestly,” Septima Vector began dryly, “you could’ve warned us the lad was hung like centaur.”
Hermione huffed and crossed her arms. “None of you should’ve been looking at that!”
“It was pretty difficult to miss,” Minerva said and just shrugged when her daughter glared at her. “We were all too busy during the incident with Luna Lovegood to notice anything really.”
“Mum!” She bit down on her lip then sighed. “He’s gorgeous. I don’t know how I get a thing done on any given day.”
“Me either,” Andromeda Tonks admitted. “The lad must be a total warrior in bed.”
Hermione blushed and every woman in her coven started to laugh.
Castius stilled as Harry reentered the large conference room that the conclave was basically confined to in the bank. He knew the younger man was absolutely furious. He shifted slightly in his chair as Harry took his seat and stared pointedly at Wilhelm Humphries. Wilhelm was one of the youngest members of the conclave—except for Harry and Draco Malfoy. He noticed that Draco Malfoy shifted around the room until he was standing just to the left of Harry. Only the members of the inner circle were seated.
“This is not a fucking democracy,” Harry snapped. “And if you don’t like it, Humphries, you can leave.”
“You’re keeping a big secret from your inner circle!” Wilhelm shouted. “Your girlfriend is a bloody coatl for fuck’s sake!”
“What makes you think you’re entitled to know my secrets?” Harry asked icily. “The only reason you’re seated at this table is because your Uncle put you in his inner circle before his death. I accepted the inner circle of the conclave without discussion a year ago but you don’t honestly think you’ve earned my trust, do you?” Harry leaned forward. “Why the fuck should I trust you, Wilhelm? You waited fifteen years after your bloody majority to wake your parselmagic and your uncle practically had to beg you to do that.”
Wilhelm started to respond but the door opened and Sirius entered with Hiro Ito. “What? Can’t have a meeting without your daddy to watch over you?”
Harry’s gaze narrowed. “I’ve haven’t needed my father to fight my battles since I was twelve.”
Wilhelm huffed. “Right.”
“You woke your parselmagic and accepted training from your Uncle because you stupidly assumed he would groom you take his place as High Warlock of this conclave,” Harry said conversationally.
“It’s my birthright!”
“Bullshite,” Harry said. “This is not and never has been a conclave built on familial rights. Master Bardon had three choices to take his place and you weren’t on that list.”
“Then who was?” Wilhelm demanded.
“Me,” Castius began. “Master Armand and Lord Potter. The fact is that Armand, Philippe Bardon, and I spent the better part of a decade preparing Harry for placement as High Warlock of the Glain Neidr. We knew all along what he would become and began training him for it even before he officially joined the conclave. A Magus is a gift from Magic herself, Wilhelm, and it’s unfortunate that you’re so bloody self-absorbed that you don’t understand what it truly means to be a part of a conclave led by one. Did you not feel his magic tonight? How can you sit here in the presence of one of the most magically gifted wizards on this planet and assume you should take his place among us?”
“He’s a child!” Wilhelm shouted. “And a child who keeps secrets.”
“You don’t have secrets?” Armand questioned. “We could test that… dig into your feebly protected head and find all we want to know about you and your foolish ambitions.”
“What he means,” Harry began, “is that he doesn’t think I’m entitled to secrets.”
“You made your girlfriend have an orgasm in a ritual without laying a hand on her!” Wilhelm shouted. “Seriously?”
“It’s hardly the first time,” Armand said dryly. “She had a similar reaction when he placed the discretion ward.”
“It was more intense and lasted nearly thirty seconds when I placed the ward,” Harry admitted and flushed when mouths dropped open around him. “Though I fail to see how my witch’s reaction to my magic is any concern of yours.”
“She’s a coatl animagus,” Wilhelm said. “Is that none of our business as well? Is she latent parselmouth as well?”
“She is not a latent parselmouth,” Harry said. “I checked. Her affinity for my snakes is not a secret after all. As to her animagus form, that is her business and absolutely none of your concern.”
“Of course it is!” Wilhelm shouted. “She is a valuable resource.”
Harry stood, drew his wand, and had Wilhelm out of his chair and pinned to the stone wall of the room without a single word being spoken. He rounded the table, his eyes darkening violet and glittering with temper. “Let me be clear to you all…” He glanced briefly at the silenced and horrified Wilhelm. “Hermione McGonagall is not resource. She is off limits to every single one of you. You don’t speak to her without my permission. You don’t speak of her at all, not with anyone outside this conclave and not amongst yourselves. The day I determine you’re a threat to her, is the day I kill you. I’d execute every single one of you in the defense of her. Remember that and do not doubt my resolve on this matter.” He waved a hand at Wilhelm and the man fell to floor. “Master Ito, there is an empty chair at my table. It would be my honor if you would join us.”
Hiro Ito inclined his head and took Wilhelm’s seat. “The No-buru Sune-ku is pleased to accept your offer of alliance, Lord Potter.”
Around the room the entire conclave shifted in shock. Harry regained his own seat and took a moment to calm himself down. He focused on Wilhelm who was pale and afraid for his life. “You’ve been given far too much, Wilhelm. It is high time you earn your place among us.”
The man swallowed nervously. “What do you want from me, Lord Potter?”
“It is not my wish to lead through fear,” Harry said tiredly. “Is that what I must do here? Is that my path within the Glain Neidr? If that is so, then I must question my place in this room, in this conclave.” He ignored the shocked noises most of the men in the room made. “What do I want from you, Wilhelm? I want your assurances that you aren’t a threat to me. I want to believe I can trust you to leave this room and not be a danger to the person I put above all others on this planet. Can I do that? Can I trust you with her? Can I trust you with the mother of my children? That’s what I ask of you. I want to trust you!”
“You ask for faith and yet you offer none in return,” Banner said. “Don’t mistake me, lad, I’m in this conclave because of you. If you weren’t here—I’d have no interest in the Glain Neidr. It is my honor to practice my craft with you.”
Harry stared at him. “I’m pretty sure that’s the most you’ve ever said to me at one time.”
Armand snorted. “He prides himself on his manly silences.”
“Fuck off, Armand,” Banner said crossly. “I meant it. I was just an acolyte when Potter was brought into the conclave. I joined because of him. Many of you weren’t apart of the conclave when he joined us. You don’t understand what his infusion of magic did to the Glain Neidr. Even when he wasn’t here among us—when he wasn’t actively practicing with us our ritual magic resonated with his presence. To many of you, this body has always felt this way and our magic has always been full and rich. It was not the case before him and if he leaves us—that power will fade quickly.”
“This isn’t his fault,” Sirius said and stepped forward. He put his hand on Harry’s shoulder. “I’ve hammered on him for eight years to guard this secret with everything he is. He learned Occlumency at eight to bear this secret. He waged a private war with the spirit of Voldemort to protect this secret. What you ask of him, is contrary to everything I’ve said to him for years.”
Harry reached up and put his hand on his father’s briefly then they separated. “You’re not wrong, Master Banner.”
“The lot of you are over thinking this,” Ito said suddenly.
“Of course, they are,” Draco Malfoy said dryly. He pulled his wand. “I, Lord Draco Lucius Malfoy of the House of Malfoy, do solemnly swear on my magic to keep the secrets of Lord Harry James Potter. So mote it be.” He holstered his wand and raised an eyebrow at his mentor.
Thaddeus Banner huffed. “Right.” He stood and drew his wand. “I, Thaddeus Christopher Banner, do solemnly swear on my magic to keep the secrets of Lord Harry James Potter. So mote it be.”
Harry watched in stunned silence as every single man in the room barring his father made the same vow. He sat back in his chair as the last of them spoke and closed his eyes briefly. It was entirely unexpected.
“Hermione Isobel McGonagall is my fated soulmate and my peer in magic.”
“Your peer in magic,” Banner repeated. “Honestly, the soulmate business doesn’t surprise me at all. At first, I thought it was the Veela girl you took up with over the summer but you let her go off to America without you so I dismissed her as a possibility. Though I doubt I’m the first to say it, lad, you should’ve waited until she left Hogwarts to approach her.”
“I wanted to be at Hogwarts my first year,” Harry said pointedly. “I waited as long as I could.”
“What do you mean you aren’t surprised by the soulmate business?” Wilhelm demanded.
Malfoy huffed. “Everyone and their brother knows his parents were fated and that he himself visited the Book of Souls when he was eight. It was bloody announced worldwide and Fudge tried to sue him for the information in front of the ICW.”
“And the ICW also announced that he had no soulmate,” Wilhelm said.
“They made that announcement because I refused to name her,” Harry said. “It was about Cornelius Fudge saving face and the ICW allowed it. I said nothing against their ruling because it served me and protected her.”
“Your peer in magic,” Banner repeated. “Are you certain of this?”
“She is a burgeoning elemental magus,” Harry said. He ran his fingers through his short hair and sighed. “I have no doubts whatsoever about this.”
“And her animagus is a spirit snake,” Armand snorted. “Right.”
Harry flushed. “I didn’t know until she transformed.”
Ito grinned at him.
“Honestly, sir, a little heads up would’ve been nice! I did believe she was a snake but I’d honestly figured she must be an elemental viper which would’ve explained her attachment to Rowena.”
Godric flowed off his neck at that point and pooled in front of him. He lifted his head and his hood flared open. “The Queen of Snakes.”
Harry stared for a moment then he stroked Godric’s head thoughtfully. “Ah, I see. That’s what you meant that night… isn’t it?”
“The basilisk is our King and the coatl is our Queen.”
“Is she a coatl in spirit or is it merely her form?”
“She is as much a coatl as you are a dragon,” Godric assured.
Harry huffed at that and sat back in his chair. “That little… she understands parseltongue, doesn’t she? When she’s a witch?” Godric closed his hood and curled into his coils without answering him. Harry poked him gently in rebuke and shook his head in mild ire.
“You are to never put yourself between two parselmouths again,” Minerva snapped as soon as she and Hermione were alone. “Do you have any bloody idea what one of them could do to you?”
Hermione blanched and took a step back. “I wasn’t… I couldn’t… I didn’t even apparate on purpose. I haven’t been taught.”
Minerva stopped and took a calming breath. “We’ll have to rectify that and get you a license. You were in the confines of my ritual space and fortunately the Ministry monitors wouldn’t have picked it up. The wards obscure my space from their view.” She rubbed a shaking hand over her face. “I’d never hit you, Hermione.”
“Then why have you backed all the way up to the bloody door?” Minerva asked pointedly.
Hermione blushed. “I’m sorry. I just wasn’t prepared for you to be angry with me.” She forced herself to walk across the sitting room and sit next to her mother on the sofa the older woman had dropped herself down on. “I don’t compare you to him.”
“And your birth mother?” Minerva asked. “Do you compare me to her?”
“Sometimes, but it never works out in her favor.” Hermione swallowed hard. “You… killed that man because of what he tried to do to me.”
“Hutchinson. Yes, I did.”
Hermione nodded. “Jane Granger wouldn’t have crossed the street to prevent my father from hitting me. She ignored it. She ignored me unless I’d done something her friends would be jealous of. My grades were her accomplishments. My performances were just opportunities for her to socialize with people that wouldn’t have given her the time of day otherwise. The only picture she had of me in her office was the picture of me when I played for the Queen’s birthday.”
Minerva sighed. “It was a beautiful performance. Emmie helped me dream of it.”
Hermione smiled. “That’s good. I was really proud of my music that night.” She touched Gryffindor’s Tear with trembling fingers. “I don’t know that I’d ever be able to stop myself from not responding to a threat where Harry is concerned.”
“We’ll have to file paperwork with the Ministry and register your form,” Minerva said. “It’s a lovely and powerful one. How long have you been able to do it?”
“After the adoption,” Hermione began, “I noticed that my reflexes were faster and my vision was sharper. I also have developed an extremely sensitive sense of taste and smell. Tonight was the first time I transformed. I didn’t do it on purpose either. I meditated that Sunday before we returned to school and I met her. I didn’t know what she was exactly until that Monday until Harry introduced me to Rowena and I heard him speak parseltongue for the first time.”
“You understand him.”
“Not in the traditional sense,” Hermione admitted. “Certainly not the way a parselmouth would. I don’t hear English. I still hear the hisses but… I understand those hisses as if I’m a snake even like I am right now.”
“Oh,” Minerva huffed. “I don’t even know what that means.”
“I don’t either,” Hermione admitted. “I think my animagus spirit is very close to the surface.” She blushed. “Harry doesn’t know I understand parseltongue.”
“Well, you were due a secret or two,” Minerva said dryly.
Hermione nodded. “Emmie.”
The elf appeared immediately and frowned deeply at Hermione. “Yous mum is right. Don’t be getting between two snake-mouths. They be dangerous!”
Hermione blushed. “Where is Harry?”
“Master Harry be at bank yelling at his conclave,” Emmie said plainly. “Then he be coming back to townhouse.”
“Can I go over there, mum?” Hermione asked and their floo flared. Hiro Ito stepped out.
Minerva regarded the wizard with a little smirk. “Yes, dear, do go tuck your wizard into bed. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Hermione’s mouth dropped open. “Oh. My. God.”
Emmie giggled and took her hand. “I takes you.”
Harry stripped of his ritual robe and stepped into the large shower stall tucked into the corner of his personal bathroom. He activated the runes for all four shower heads and leaned there against the wall. The wards in his suite shifted and he stayed still as she made her way towards him. She opened the door and slipped into the shower with him.
“You’re a very naughty witch,” Harry said as her hands drifted over his back.
“This is… is this a tattoo? Why haven’t I seen it before?”
“Not a traditional one,” Harry admitted. He turned to face her and pulled her close. “The runes were embedded under my skin years ago. They surface when I perform ritual magic. They’ll retreat in about an hour.”
“So when you put the Tear on me.” She touched the diamond.
“Yeah, they surfaced.”
“And that night with Luna?”
“They surfaced as soon as I opened my circle but all of my robes are designed to mask them,” Harry explained.
“You used a ritual to control the Fiendfyre after the duel,” Hermione said with a frown. “I didn’t see them on your skin in the infirmary before you were healed.”
“Castius disillusioned them. It’s a private matter and there were far too many people in the infirmary that I didn’t want to see them. Most who saw them tonight will never suspect that they’re permanent. Do they bother you?”
“Not at all,” Hermione traced one of the runes on his chest with the tip of her finger. “What are they for?”
“Promise you won’t freak out?”
She raised an eyebrow. “Sure, I won’t freak out.”
“They’re blood runes.”
Hermione’s mouth dropped open and the color drained from her face. “What… I don’t…”
“No freak out,” Harry reminded.
“No freak out,” Hermione said weakly. “Where did they come from?”
“My mother did them.”
“Blood runes are dark magic,” Hermione said quietly.
“No, love,” Harry disagreed as he stroked a hand down her back. “No single act of magic is simple and runic magic is infinite shades of grey. Blood magic isn’t always dark just like charms aren’t always light magic. You could use a piercing charm to kill someone.”
She hesitated but then nodded. “So, what are the runes?”
“My mother built the sacrificial ward that saved my life with the blood of all three of my parents and mine. It worked… differently than she intended. I’ve studied the ward she built and it shouldn’t been able to reflect a Killing Curse.”
“She put the ward in your body. Like you did with the discretion ward,” Hermione whispered and blinked back tears. “Oh.”
Harry kissed her forehead. “Shhh, don’t cry.”
She trembled against him and blinked back the tears he didn’t want her to shed. He leaned against the wall and held her. “Her magic.”
“Is in me, yes,” Harry admitted. “Hiro Ito believes that my rapid magical maturation and my magus status is a direct result of my mother’s sacrificial ward.”
“She gave you everything she had so you’d survive,” Hermione said. She turned her head and kissed the rune over his heart. “It’s humbling to see this and know what it means.”
“The first time it surfaced, my Dad didn’t take it well. He knew it was there. They all three planned the ward together and it was James’ intention of fueling the ward himself. We don’t know why my mother ended up sacrificing herself instead.”
“Why James?” Hermione asked.
Harry hesitated. “My mother was pregnant and I was James’ Heir. He believed it was his duty to protect us both the best that he could if it came down to it. He trusted that Sirius would take care of us.”
“A sister,” Harry said. “Maia Elizabeth would’ve been her name.”
“Lord Black’s daughter,” Hermione murmured.
“Yes,” Harry admitted.
“Her name is a star… like his so it made sense,” Hermione explained at Harry’s questioning look. “I hate Tom Riddle for what he took from you and your Dad.”
“From us,” Harry murmured. “They’ll never… hold their grandchildren. Never see our wedding day.” He trailed his hand down her back. “They won’t be around to take sides during our first fight.”
Hermione laughed. “Which do you think would take mine?”
“The Dads,” Harry said. “Especially if I make you cry.” He kissed her forehead. “Dad can’t stand to see a woman cry. I’d end up on the wrong end of his wand.”
“Or mine.” She ran his nails along his sides. “I’ve never showered with a boy before.”
“Well, I’ve never showered with a witch,” Harry said and laughed. “But I regularly shower with a bunch of blokes.”
She huffed. “Oh, Merlin, I didn’t tell you! My mum basically kicked me out of our house!”
“Why?” Harry asked, shocked.
“Master Ito came through the floo,” Hermione said with a scowl. “I think they’re sleeping together.”
“Don’t worry about it. He’s a superior lay,” Harry said with a grin and laughed when she poked him. “No, seriously, I’ve never seen him a sex ritual where he didn’t rock his partner’s planet.”
Hermione flushed. “Honestly.”
“Don’t be prude,” Harry chastised. “It’s very Muggle of you.”
She huffed as he reached for a sponge and poured some soap into it. “She’s sixty-seven years old!”
“That’s middle age for a witch,” Harry said with a wry grin. “And she’s a very pretty lady.”
“Yeah,” Hermione said with a frown. “Right.” She took the sponge from him and rubbed it over his chest with a huff. “Every witch in my coven saw you naked.”
“It wasn’t the first time,” Harry pointed out. “We all cleansed together the night of the situation with Luna Lovegood.”
“Everyone was so upset and things were so quickly done that I guess most didn’t get a good look at you. I had to put up with some very pointed comments.” She glared at him when he smirked. “Amused are you? You’d be happy to know that Professor Vector thinks you’re hung like a centaur.”
Harry blanched. “Oh, come on, Mi. I have classes with her!”
“It isn’t like you didn’t know she was part of my mother’s inner circle,” Hermione said. “Andromeda Tonks had a bit to say, too. She thinks you must be a warrior in bed. Isn’t she a cousin?”
Hermione frowned. “Are you tired?”
“A little, why?”
Hermione raised an eyebrow. “You’re sixteen and I’m naked and you’re not hard.”
“Oh.” He flushed. “My impotence charm won’t fade for another hour. I used a particularly strong one because the last thing I wanted to do was… well, you know.”
“Get an erection in front of my mother?” Hermione asked with a laugh.
“Yeah, exactly. Just imagine what they’d had to say about my dick then.”
Hermione snorted. “Merlin.”
“Harry, you in there lad?”
Harry whipped them around and to shield her just as the door opened. “Dad, I’m not alone.”
Sirius laughed and turned around immediately. “Sorry, I was just… goodnight.” He pulled the door shut immediately. “Sorry Hermione!”
“It’s okay, Lord Black!” Hermione shouted after him. “Goodnight!”
Harry lowered his head to her shoulder. “Well, we’re never living that down.”
“It could’ve been worse.”
“How?” Harry asked.
“I could’ve been blowing you.”
Harry sighed and nodded wistfully. “I hate myself for this charm I placed.”
Harry pulled on a t-shirt as he left his suite and went searching for his father. He found the Lord Black in the kitchen of the house with a cup of tea and a pile of parchments. Harry leaned in the doorway for a few minutes, staring at him.
“Sorry for the cock block, lad,” Sirius said and shot his son a glance out of the corner of his eye.
Harry laughed and moved completely into the kitchen. “You didn’t. My impotence charm was still active and she was exhausted. We went straight to sleep after the shower.” He sat down at the table and said nothing until Elroy appeared with juice and a plate of eggs with toast. “You okay?”
“Fine,” Sirius said.
“I don’t believe that,” Harry murmured. “You should’ve realized that she was in the house, Dad, and you obviously didn’t. So, what’s wrong?”
Sirius pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration. “You’re right. The wards are telling me she’s in the house and I didn’t notice. She’s not upset?”
“No, not at all. Anything I can help with?”
“I want to kill half the people that work at the Ministry,” Sirius said shortly. He waved a hand. “This is our file.”
“Our file,” Harry repeated with a frown. “I don’t understand.”
“This is document after document of reports on you, me, our various homes, ward reports, etc. They kept a record of every woman I’ve gone to bed with since I was removed from Azkaban. Their information on Casteus is very thin but then he’s spent decades hiding such from far more talented people than Umbridge and Fudge. They also knew when and with who your lost your virginity.”
Harry’s mouth dropped open. “But… wow. I don’t even know what to say.”
“There is also a list.” Sirius picked it up and offered it. “A list of potential soulmates for you that was done by a professional scryer.”
Harry took the list and spread out the scroll with a frown. Susan Bones. Luna Lovegood. Fay Dunbar. Draco Malfoy. Astoria Greengrass. Neville Longbottom. Cho Chang. Ginny Weasley. Daphne Greengrass. Elizabeth Wood. “I have a high level of magical compatibility with both Neville and Draco. Daphne Greengrass isn’t a bad choice, actually. Ginny Weasley and Cho Chang—they’d have had both of them visit the book and would’ve known that they weren’t the right ones. Susan Bones is a known lesbian.”
“And Elizabeth Wood was sacrificed over the summer,” Sirius said. “There was a great deal of interest in Fay Dunbar because of her financial worth. Luna Lovegood is a pure-blood from a Light family but her father’s certifiable.”
Harry nodded. “Pure-blood bigotry did a lot to protect Hermione from discovery.” He put the list aside. “There is more.”
“Yes,” Sirius admitted. “I’m still working through it. The plot to control you is huge and far more reaching then just settling you into a marriage of their choice. Frankly, kid, killing Fudge was practically self-defense.”
Harry huffed. “We should’ve done it years ago.”
“Doing it now shielded us from suspicion in a way,” Sirius murmured. “Only Dawlish seriously thinks you were involved and even he admits that you didn’t do it physically. At the most, he thinks someone did it to please you. He took a hard look at the members of your conclave. Fortunately, not a single one of them has a runespoor registered with the Ministry.”
“Speaking of,” Harry said as he pushed his empty plate aside. “I pushed through all the paperwork on the snakes I have with me. They’re all registered at this point.”
“It came across my desk,” Sirius admitted. “I’d like to have Osiris in the Ministry with me.”
Harry inclined his head and considered that. “Purpose?”
“Honestly? Intimidation and a bit of spying.”
“Then he isn’t the best choice to be honest. Yes, he’s physically striking but…” Harry frowned as he considered it. “I think Inari would be a better bet.”
Sirius snorted. “Merlin, son, I don’t want to scare the magic out of people.”
Harry grinned. “Willaby.” The elf appeared immediately. “Hey, how are you?”
Willaby yawned. “Working hard. Baby season, you know. Eggs at the Lair.”
“Did Inari decide to lay eggs?” Harry asked.
Willaby shook his head. “She be stubborn and not interested in males you brought her from Japan.”
“A lady is entitled to be picky,” Harry said with a laugh. “Any problems with the skin shedding charms?”
“Everything work well. I able preserve much of the skin with the new process and snakes much more comfortable not have to work off skin themselves. Wheezy Twins help with milking last week—made snakes happy with their foolishness. Deidre keep three eggs this quarter, give me six for sale.”
Harry nodded. “Let her keep whatever she wants but monitor her after hatching. You know she ate two of her hatchlings last year in a temper.”
Willaby nodded. “She be impatient mother.”
Harry snorted. “That’s a word for it but magical pit vipers aren’t known to be… motherly. Bring Inari to me, please. Set up her heat box in the den here and stock up any food she might need for Elroy.”
Hermione entered the kitchen at that moment, dressed in a pair of Harry’s pajama pants and a Puddlemere United t-shirt. Her hair was a mess and she wandered over to the coffee machine and stared at it clearly befuddled before huffing. “Elroy?”
The elf appeared immediately. “Miss Hermione.”
She poked the machine. “Make it give me coffee. A big one. Latte. Vanilla. With like six shots of espresso.”
“Miss Hermione, sit, Elroy take care of it.”
Hermione nodded and sat down at the table on the opposite end from the two of them and lowered her head to the table with a yawn.
“Sorry about walking in on you two last night,” Sirius said to the top of her head.
She shrugged. “Not the first time you’ve seen me naked.” Hermione sat up and pushed her hair back with a scowl. “There is honestly too much naked in the magical world.” She pulled her wand and with a flick of her wrist, put her hair up in a messy bun. “Sex rituals and old witches staring at things they have no business staring at.” She sent Harry a look. “Every adult witch I know has seen your dick, Harry James.”
Harry burst out laughing. “I have nothing to be ashamed of.”
“That’s absolutely beside the point!” She pointed a finger at him then smiled brilliantly at Elroy when he placed her coffee in front of her.
“What Miss Hermione like for breakfast?”
“Hmmm, French toast? I’d love some French toast and sausage.” She glanced over the mess spread between the two of them. “What’s all that?”
Harry shared a look with his father and shrugged when the older man raised an eyebrow.
Sirius sighed. “Right. It’s basically the research the Ministry did on me and Harry while Fudge was in power.”
Hermione frowned at that. “Evidence… in their case to take custody of him?”
“Yes,” Sirius nodded.
Hermione huffed. “You should’ve hired a hit wizard to kill him years ago.”
Willaby appeared in that moment and offered up the small but fierce looking Inari. Harry took her with a smile. The glossy black Ryūda hissed excitedly and wrapped herself around his arm hand. She curled his claws against his skin and rubbed her head in his palm. Her gossamer red wings fluttered in excitement.
“What is that?” Hermione asked.
Harry glanced at her, not exactly surprised that she didn’t know. British magicals were pretty ego-centric and it extended to their knowledge of magical creatures. “It is a Ryūda. A Japanese dragon-snake. Ten inches nose to tail and weighs just a little over two kilograms. She’s eight years old and her name is Inari. She was my first attempt at gaining a familiar to be honest.”
“She clearly adores you,” Hermione murmured. “Why didn’t you bond with her?”
Harry shrugged. “I honestly have no idea. She’s loyal, highly magical, and very attached to me emotionally but we never had a bonding surge. I’ve never been able to use her in ritual magic. We’re just completely incompatible. I was very disappointed at first. I’d already had Isis and Hathor basically express no interest in bonding with me and as a parselmouth that was extremely disconcerting.”
“What does her name mean?”
“I named her after a Japanese Kami. A spirit that is worshipped in Shinto, Inari Ōkami. She is the patron of blacksmiths and warriors.” Harry glanced between Inari and his girlfriend then with a little humming sound stood. “Perhaps Osiris will join you in the Ministry after all, Dad.”
Hermione held out her hands before Harry even offered her the Ryūda. She took a deep breath as he settled the dragon-snake into her hands. “Oh, she’s so beautiful.” She made a soft hissing sound and Inari responded.
“Tell me something,” Harry said conversationally.
Hermione looked up at him. “Okay.”
“When you hear parseltongue… what do you hear?”
“Hissing.” Hermione flushed.
“And you understand it perfectly,” Harry surmised. “That’s… why you went all white-faced and horrified the first time you heard me speak it, right?”
“You realize,” Harry began quietly, “that was I pretty convinced that you were petrified of me for days after that.”
She winced. “Sorry.” Inari crawled up her arm and nuzzled her neck. Rowena became visible in a flash and hissed at Inari. Hermione plucked the elemental from her neck with a huff and hissed back at her.
“Merlin, that’s pretty hot,” Harry admitted and sat back down with his food. “Come here, Rowena.”
Hermione put the snake down and she shot across the expanse of table and wrapped around his wrist. “She’s angry.”
“She’s jealous,” Harry corrected. “And probably a little hurt that you reprimanded her but she knows better than to be that way.” He stroked Rowena’s head and the little snake flicked her tongue at him in a pout. “Shhh, sweetheart, you knew it would happen one day. You certainly knew it before I did at any rate.”
“Should I put Inari down?” Hermione asked.
Harry shook his head. “Elemental vipers are territorial but she’ll adjust. Besides, the last thing you want to do is put Inari down.”
Hermione blushed. “I could though… I mean, I don’t want to.”
“No, the bonding surge is so strong I can feel it,” Harry admitted. “Had I known she was for you—I’d have sent her to you your first year.”
Hermione laughed. “I’m not certain how I would’ve reacted.” She stroked Inari’s head with gentle fingers. “I was pretty excitable at twelve.” She looked at him, eyes shining. “I can keep her?”
“Of course,” Harry said. He offered Rowena his neck and she slithered off his wrist and wrapped around him and entwining herself with Godric. “That’s as big as she’ll ever get and she’s fully matured.”
“You said you couldn’t use her in ritual magic?” Hermione asked.
“No, but you probably could,” Harry murmured. “She can channel magic and even amplify it in certain circumstances. Honestly, she’s not an ideal familiar for parselmouth but I was utterly enamored with her the moment I set eyes on her. I carried her with me everywhere until I bonded with Hedwig.”
“She doesn’t like Hedwig?” Hermione asked.
“Inari likes everyone actually but Hedwig didn’t like her. Hedwig has no problems with my snakes but Inari isn’t quite a snake.”
“And not quite a dragon,” Hermione murmured. “Can she fly?”
“Yes, very well and she’s fast. She’s never been bred though I did purchase six males for Serpent’s Lair. She had no interest in any of them apparently.”
“What’s Serpent’s Lair?” Hermione asked. Harry paused and Hermione raised an eyebrow. “The last time you hesitated like that you told me to mind my own business.”
Harry laughed. “I’ve never used those words with you and you know it.” He shrugged. “Serpent’s Lair is basically my personal snake house. Members of my conclave often house their snakes with me or have them bred in the Lair. It is a personal business of a sorts. I breed and sell magical snakes and when possible humanely harvest the potion ingredients they produce. I don’t have snakes killed for the ingredients but when they’re life cycle is finished they are processed for them.”
Hermione nodded. “I see… that makes sense.” She looked down at Inari. “How long will she live?”
“One day, she may chose to bond with one of our great grandchildren,” Harry said. “Ryūda can live upwards of five hundred years.”
“How many snakes are at Serpent’s Lair?”
Harry pursed his lips. “Hmmm, I’d have to ask Elroy for an exact count as I haven’t gone over the inventory for the quarter and we have many nesting mothers. Last quarter, our final number was three thousand fifteen.”
Her mouth dropped open and she laughed. “Wow. Are they all magical?”
“Yes. I have all kinds of snakes from all over the world.”
“Do you have a coatl?” Hermione asked.
Harry grinned at her. “Just you.”
“Hmmm, I’d love to meet one, you know. I know they’re very difficult to interact with. Do you think you could manage to find one?”
Harry considered that. “We could try over the summer? Take a few weeks and go to South America? I can’t promise anything but you personally might be more of an attraction that I would be. Several members of my conclave make semi-annual trips to the area in an attempt to find and entice a coatl into interacting with them and bonding. In fact, the three in particular who are very interested in the coatl have refused to accept familiar bonds of other snakes so they’ll be available if they ever find one.”
Inari settled down in Hermione’s lap as she picked up her fork. “Are they a threat to me? In my snake form, I could be used in ritual magic by a parselmouth.”
Harry’s gaze narrowed at the thought. “It’s been made clear to every single man in my conclave that you’re off limits to them.”
“My mother berated me for getting between the two of you,” Hermione admitted.
“I…” Harry frowned and shared a look with his father. “I can’t say I’m happy with it myself but I understand your instincts on the subject far better than you mother. I also would’ve preferred they not know your animagus form. It makes you stupidly attractive to my kind. The only way it could be worse is if you’d turned out to be a latent parselmouth.”
Hermione glanced at Harry’s father and found the man had barely touched his food. She figured it wasn’t her place to boss him around so she concentrated on her own food and stared intently at Inari who had crawled out of her lap to sprawl out on the table beside her plate. “What does she eat, Harry?”
Harry grinned at her. “Are you sure you want to know?”
“She’s fond of mice, spiders, and the like. She prefers her food cooked, however.”
Hermione immediately offered Inari a piece of sausage from her plate. The Ryūda blew fire on the offering before Harry could warn her and Hermione huffed in surprise. Inari’s fire danced over her skin and charred the meet before the dragon-snake nimbly snatched the piece of meat and started to gnaw on it. She looked up and found father and son staring at her in shock. “What?”
“Inari’s fire is not elemental, Hermione.” Harry glanced her unburned fingers and shook his head. “You’re very interesting.”
“I, for one, would like to see your form,” Sirius said decisively.
Hermione nodded and stood. She took a deep breath in a wisp of smoke and magic shifted into her animagus form. Harry stood, offered her hand and she slid her long golden body around his forearm. “Gorgeous.” She folded her wings downward and Harry stroked the joint where they melded into her body. “I thought her wings were entirely gold last night but they aren’t—she has red tips.”
Sirius shook his head. “Well if one must be a snake, one might as well be the prettiest one on the planet.”
“Can you disillusion yourself?” Harry asked. She answered by disappearing. “That’s… wow. I can’t see you at all. I’ve never encountered a snake who could hide from me like this.” Hermione reappeared and slithered off him without making a sound. She regained her form just as her mother, Hiro Ito, and Castius Arnou entered the room.
Harry shifted down the table so Castius could sit across from his father and he was closer to Hermione. Inari rolled over on her back and displayed her belly for a rub. Hermione absently put her hand on the Ryūda and rolled her gently back and forth.
“I didn’t know you’d brought Inari to Hogsmeade,” Minerva said as she took a seat.
“I didn’t until this morning,” Harry admitted. “It was my intention to let Dad take her to work with him for a while but as soon as Willaby brought her into the room with Hermione… I felt Inari’s magic shift.”
Minerva looked at her daughter and sighed. “Lass, really? A Ryūda? Do you know how many bloody forms I’ll have to fill out for a Ryūda? They’re a protected and very valuable magical species.”
Hermione blushed and frowned. She turned to Harry. “How valuable?”
“A breeding female her age?” Harry asked and cleared his throat. “You’ve already started to bond with her. Are you sure you want to know?”
“Oh my god, Harry.” She stared at him. “How much did she cost?”
“Fifty thousand galleons,” Harry admitted. “But I bought her for myself a long time ago. I’m allowed to buy myself extravagant and ultimately self-indulgent presents. But her real value is in breeding. She could in theory produce two eggs a year. So…”
“By bonding with her, I’ve cost you a hundred thousand galleons a year… forever.” Hermione said, eyes wide with horror.
Harry shrugged. “She’s been disinclined to mate since I bought her, Hermione. There are two other female Ryūda at Serpent’s Lair who regularly produce eggs. I’d never force Inari to breed against her will so you’ve yet to cost me a sickle on that particular front. Don’t worry about it. We’ll introduce her to males periodically over the next few years and maybe she’ll mate. If she doesn’t that won’t be any fault of yours. I’m sure she’ll let one of us know if she’s ever inclined to get laid.”
Hermione blushed and frowned at him. “My mother is sitting here.”
“I saw him naked,” Minerva said as she accepted a tea service from Elroy. “Him talking about one of his snakes having sex isn’t much of a issue compared.”
Hermione huffed and picked up Inari. “I’m honestly beginning to get that whole thing you said about scaring Muggle-borns off with sex rituals.”
Minerva laughed. “You’re not fooling me, you didn’t have a single problem with Luna Lovegood’s opening.”
“Mum! I had plenty of problems with that whole thing! What with the dead bodies and the sacrifices and the hearing and Radko Krum being blown to pieces as he certainly deserved.”
“She didn’t mention the sex,” Hiro said to Harry. “Perhaps she’s just got a problem with you putting yourself on display for her entire coven.”
Hermione scowled at Ito briefly then turned to Harry. “You realize we’re probably the only two people in this house who didn’t get laid last night, right?”
Harry grinned at her. “Your life is so hard, love.”
“It is,” Hermione agreed and picked up another piece of sausage. She hissed softly at Inari and the Ryūda immediately set about burning the meat Hermione held for her. “I think she should probably sleep in your rooms.” She looked up at her mother’s intake of breath. “What?”
“You were hissing,” Sirius said. “But it sounded nothing like parseltongue.”
“No,” Castius agreed. “She sounded like a snake—a real one.” He sipped his coffee and regarded her thoughtfully. “You’re very interesting.” His gaze dropped briefly to Inari and raised an eyebrow when Hermione laughed.
“It’s just that Harry said the same thing.”
“When she hears parseltongue,” Harry began, “she hears hissing and not English but she understands the sounds naturally like a snake would.”
“How long have you been able to do that?” Hiro asked.
“I don’t know,” Hermione admitted. “I didn’t understand the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets the first time but I did when I viewed Emmie’s memory and that is the last time I had any contact with a snake until Harry came to Hogwarts. I met my form in meditation the day after my adoption then I saw Harry that Monday and he introduced me to Rowena.” She frowned at that and glanced at Harry. “Who is currently upset with me.”
“Elemental vipers are territorial,” Ito said. “You’ve bonded with another magical creature. I imagine Rowena didn’t consider your cat much of a threat to her but Inari is different.”
Hermione nodded and focused on Harry. “You didn’t finish telling me about her.”
“Oh, well, she can fly and breathe fire,” he grinned when she raised an eyebrow at him. “Her bite is venomous but it wouldn’t kill a magical person. It would, however, kill a Muggle or a squib. They don’t like Veela, that’s a universal of their species actually as Veela in their bird form consider Ryūda quite tasty. She’ll shed her skin twice a year and it’s very valuable for potions. It’s too delicate for any other purpose.”
“What sort of potions?”
“Fertility and virility draughts mostly. While she’s not capable of disillusioning herself, she can wear the charm for very long periods of time with no problems and she doesn’t require heating charms. She likes to sleep in a heat box but that’s more of a preference than an actual requirement. She’s immune to fire of all sorts, including elemental so you needn’t worry about hurting her with your own fire. In fact, she’s rather fond of fire baths.”
“Fire baths?” Hermione questioned.
“Yes, like when I put Godric in the fire box for healing.”
“Oh.” Hormone nodded and picked Inari. She cupped the Ryūda in both hands and blue fire sprung up. Inari made a rumbling purring sound and curled into a ball in the fire.
Hiro Ito inclined his head and held out his hand. He brushed over the fire and hummed under his breath. “Fascinating. Do you think you could hold Fiendfyre?”
“Absolutely not,” Harry said sharply. “She’s not going to try.”
Hermione started to argue but something about Harry’s tone and the hard clench of his jaw put her on edge. She was reminded of the way Viktor Krum had been incinerated in a matter of seconds by Fiendfyre and let her gaze drop to Inari. “I think this is… making our bond stronger.”
“You’re using magic on her,” Minerva said. “It’s not a surprise. I imagine if you did this for a few minutes every day that your familiar bond would be complete within a couple of weeks.”
Hermione nodded. “Why don’t you have a familiar?”
Minerva’s mouth tightened briefly. “I did at one time. She was killed. I’ve never been inclined to bond again.”
Hermione bit down on her lip. “What was she?”
“An Eagle Owl,” Minerva said. “She was a gift from my husband when I was still at Hogwarts. I named her Athena. She took a curse for me in a fight in 1978. She was already quite old and her injury was too severe.”
Hermione extinguished the flame and Inari did a full body shiver and flicked her wings. She hopped from Hermione’s hands and prowled across the table to Minerva.
Minerva huffed and let the Ryūda crawl into her hand. “Well, you’re a pretty little thing at least.” She stroked her head and let her finger trail over one tiny delicately curved horn. “Even if you will cause me to spend several hours on forms.”