Title: Tom’s Legacy
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: 9,566
Warnings: Off-screen child abuse, discussion of child abuse, discussion of sexually abusive situations, explicit language, and ritual magic. Tom Riddle is a nasty mother fucker.
Author’s Note: You know I hate Ron and Ginny Weasley, right? See Series page for further author notes, warnings, and ratings.
Harry shoved Ron into a chair in the unused classroom as Draco Malfoy secured the door. Weasley was pale, silent, and wide-eyed.
Harry sat down in a chair and crossed his legs at the knee. He stared at Ron for a long moment before clearing his throat. “Part of me wants to beat you senseless. In fact, it’s a very large part of me. I’d feel great about it, to be honest. Of course, you’d spend the next month, if not more, in the infirmary because the fascinating thing about parselmagic is that it can be used to heal but it can also be used to prevent magical healing. The real problem with people like you is that you don’t understand physical pain because magic provides you almost instant relief.
Harry watched Weasley fidget in the chair. “I understand the full measure of physical pain—how it impacts you emotionally and mentally. Pain can drive you crazy. Did you know?”
Ron swallowed. “I’m sorry.”
“You don’t owe me an apology,” Harry said mildly. “Despite my formal courtship of Hermione McGonagall, I don’t have the legal right to demand such from you and won’t with revealing the true nature of our relationship. If I told the world she was my soulmate, no law would keep you safe from me but I can’t do that. I’ve been forced to leave punishing you to her mother. You’re a boy. A judgmental, small-minded, foul tempered boy. I can’t even call you out like a proper wizard because you’re underage and I’m legally an adult.” Harry straightened one of his cuffs. “But here we are and though it hardly needs to be said, I’m furious with you. I could beat you half to death and pay your father a wergild for the privilege and don’t you think for a single second I’m not tempted.”
Draco snorted from his place leaning on the door.
Ron opened his mouth.
“Don’t bother,” Harry said. “There is literally nothing that could come out of your mouth that can save you from me. And let’s be clear—you are now and forever shall be an enemy of the House of Potter.”
“Oh come on!” Ron exclaimed in disbelief. “I slapped her. So what? Merlin, if you were half the wizard you pretend to be she wouldn’t be so bloody full of herself.”
“It’s like he has death wish,” Neville commented dryly and left his place by the window. “Be lucky he hasn’t banned you from his property like he did Goyle.”
“What stuns me about this whole situation is that he was actually raised by Arthur Weasley,” Draco admitted. “I think Mr. Weasley would cut off on his own hand before he’d even think about slapping his wife to discipline her.”
“I guess we really can’t fault him—he did manage to raise several very good wizards. Four out of six isn’t bad,” Harry said. He focused on Ron. “You talk about me a lot—to everyone around you. You tell them how dark you think I am. You think I’m heartless.” He raised a hand when Weasley started to respond. “Seriously, I’ll render you mute for a year if you interrupt me.” He cleared his throat when Draco laughed. “Now, if you honestly think I’m a dark, heartless bastard then I’m left to think that you’re genuinely stupid. Nothing else makes sense you see, because only someone that dumb would abuse my witch.”
“You already said you can’t really do anything to me,” Ron protested. “I won’t let my dad decline another wergild if you hurt me!”
Harry shared a look with Draco. “Neville, are you sure you want to stay for this?”
“You’ll hurt my feelings, Harry,” Neville said dryly and tossed himself into a chair. He pulled a bag of candy out of his robe. “I’ve been looking forward to this for two whole days.” He tossed Draco a chocolate frog. “Stop smiling at me like that, Harry, I’m starting to question how intense our bromance is.”
Harry laughed but the amusement dropped from his face as he turned to face Ron. “I’ve tried seeing your point of view you know, but you’re so self-involved that it was difficult. You care about absolutely no one but yourself.”
“That’s not true,” Ron protested. “I love my family.”
“Do you?” Draco asked. “I find that hard to believe considering the way you’ve shamed your parents with your dishonorable behavior. You’re risking your father’s new job by constantly being at odds with Potter. You’re damaging the reputation of your family with your academic laziness. That’s not to even say how your actions will impact your own ability to work after Hogwarts. The twins work for Lord Black as well, don’t they?”
Ron huffed and averted his gaze.
“Right.” Harry stood and his blackwood wand slid into his hand. “I’m going to give you a lesson in pain, Weasley.”
“You can’t!” Ron shouted. “I’ll file charges! You won’t get away with hurting me even if your dad is Minister.”
“Bill.” Harry turned his head and Bill Weasley ended a disillusionment charm. The oldest Weasley son pushed off the wall he was leaning on with a nod. “Right then. Here is your lesson, Ronald. You’ll never know another moment in your life where you are free to hurt others without consequences. Every intentional, unjust injury you cause another living person or creature shall be doubled upon you. Morsus tuus sentire actiones.” The curse hit Ron in the chest with a bolt of bright yellow light and he gasped in shock.
“What? Bill! How could you let me him curse me! Make him lift it! What’s wrong with you?”
Bill stared at his brother in silence then cleared his throat before lifting his own wand. “You will never tell anyone that you were cursed by Lord Potter. You will not seek to have the curse broken or lifted. You will accept this as your punishment for your dishonorable thoughts, behavior, beliefs, and actions. You will act as if the events in this room never happened but you will remember and never forget the consequences of your actions. I seal these orders upon you with family magic.” A whirlwind of blue magic swept out of Bill’s wand and briefly encased Ron who stared at his brother in horror.
“How could you… I don’t understand… you’re my family!”
“You have shamed our father for the last time without suffering for it,” Bill said tightly. He stowed his wand and left the room without another word.
“So,” Neville began, “Seamus and me played a game of exploding snap.” He put away his candy. “The thing is that Draco has the legal status of an adult as well so he’s in no position to properly act in Harry’s place on this matter without having to offer your family some sort of compensation. Me? I’m just the Heir of a Noble and Ancient House and you’re four months older than me.” He backhanded Ron across the face so hard that the boy fell from the chair. “Hermione is my very good friend, Ron. I don’t like your petty arsed behavior. Keep it up and I’m going to resign my Prefect position so I can greet each new day by punching you in the face.”
“You’re very attractive right now, Neville,” Draco said thoughtfully.
Neville sighed. “I don’t have time for another bromance, Malfoy.”
“But I’m hotter than Harry,” Draco protested.
“You are not,” Harry disagreed.
Neville rolled his eyes. “Shut up, I’m hotter than you both.”
* * * *
“As such a pure-blood male cannot be charged with rape in magical Britain. Foreign nationals can be charged with sexual assault or rape against a British citizen but this process is often so painful or drawn out that families settle the matter privately.”
Harry exhaled sharply as every witch in the room went a rather dramatic shade of white. Professor Gainer continued to walk around the classroom as he let that fact settle on them.
“Lord Potter, what are the ramifications of this law in Britain?”
Harry cleared his throat. “It greatly depends on the social, economic, and political power of the victim’s family. A powerful family is capable of exerting a great deal of pressure on the offending wizard’s family leading to the disbursement of a wergild or the handing down of familial punishment.”
“Disownment is the most popular option,” Harry answered. “It’s a public shaming of sorts but honestly depending on the wizard’s family it’s not much of a punishment. While it could be potentially be devastating if the wizard has access to a rich familial magical legacy or the potential to gain a title, it most often happens in families where the wizard merely loses his father’s name. In such cases, he takes his mother’s maiden name and goes about his life basically unchanged. Of course, that is only the case if the witch is unattached. Should she be married, engaged, or betrothed in any form through formal or informal circumstances—the offender is likely to face a situation where he has to answer for the defilement of another wizard’s…property.” He shrugged when Hermione turned on him with a glare. “I didn’t write the law, Mi. I told you that we’re are living in the Dark Ages here.”
Gainer snorted. “Magical law when it comes to the rights of witches is quite outdated. But it does allow for a more poetic form of justice, don’t you think, Lord Potter?”
Harry nodded thoughtfully. “True, in France a wizard has little recourse if his witch is abused. He is forced to leave the matter to the legal authorities or face criminal charges himself. In Britain, I could ritually murder an offender in the middle of Hogsmeade and the most I’d get cited for would be causing a public disturbance.” Harry glanced slightly to his left and watched Cormac McLaggen pale. Since there were so few seventh years in Gryffindor and Slytherin, only twenty in the whole school, they’d been slotted into the sixth year Social Ethics classes.
“So, I’d be dependent on a wizard to defend me?” Hermione demanded. “I couldn’t punish him myself?”
Gainer snorted. “Oh, Miss McGonagall, I have to think there isn’t a wizard stupid enough alive to take any sort of liberty with you. I don’t know who I’d fear more—your mother or your wizard. As to the generality of your question, a witch has every single right to defend herself with as much force as necessary. You could strike a pure-blood wizard dead if one were to physically assault you.”
“No matter a witch’s blood status,” Hermione clarified.
“I hate to say it but a Muggle-born or half-blood would probably be more heavily investigated by certain elements of the DMLE while a pure-blood witch would be believed out of hand. It has happened that young women have served time for assaulting a wizard if they couldn’t prove their own claims of assault.”
“In that case,” Hermione said thoughtfully. “A Muggle-born or half-blood witch might as well kill her attacker. If there is a chance she’ll go to jail, then she might as well earn it.”
Gainer’s mouth dropped open as every single witch in the room nodded her agreement. “I…”
“In fact,” Hermione continued, “pureblood witches should do it, too. I think it would be considered a public service, really, to just put such inferior and foul wizards down like you might a very sick creature.” She turned to Harry. “I decided what I want for Christmas.”
Harry smirked at her. “A sword?”
She grinned. “I wouldn’t say no but I was thinking you really could buy me the Daily Prophet. I really need a bigger venue to express myself in properly.”
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure I can swing that,” Harry agreed with a laugh. “You go ahead and start a list of all the people you want fired.”
* * * *
“You shouldn’t encourage her,” Ron Weasley said without preamble.
“Encourage who to do what?” Harry asked as he closed his ledger and focused on the red headed menace. He was starting to regret the way Bill had sealed the secret of Ron being cursed with family magic. It left the idiot far to many opportunities to be a arsehole in public.
Ron scowled at him. “Hermione. You shouldn’t encourage her to mouth off the way she does. What if she does it front of someone with real power?”
“What would you consider real power?” Harry asked with no small amount of curiosity. “I suppose you don’t mean money, fame, social, or political power… because I have all of those. You certainly can’t mean magical power as I have far more than most. So, tell me Weasley, who exactly should I live in fear of my witch insulting with her opinions?”
Ron frowned at him. “You don’t honestly think you could protect her if she actually killed someone do you?”
“I think it would depend entirely on the circumstances,” Harry said. “To be frank, Hermione doesn’t need to worry about some wizard putting his hands on her. She’s not worried about herself. She’s worried about other witches—witches who don’t enjoy her level of protection.”
“You can’t be with her all the time,” Ron said. “You should’ve never allowed her to demonstrate that little trick of hers in the inquiry. Some wizard is liable to take it as a challenge.”
“In a way,” Harry began, “I’m with her every minute of every day, Weasley. I put a discretion ward on her before I dueled Krum. A parselmagic ward designed to keep wizards from touching her sexually, without permission. That’s what threw Krum away from her.”
“That wasn’t accidental magic?” Ron asked horrified.
“No, it was a personal ward that can’t be removed by an ordinary wizard or even, really, another parselmouth without a full conclave of very powerful wizards. The ward would’ve killed Krum if he’d gotten up and went for her again. It’s a variation of a dverger war ward, you see.”
“You put a war ward on Hermione,” Ron said, shocked. “Does she know?”
“Of course she knows,” Harry said mildly. “She insisted on having it after I explained its purpose. She knows very well it will hurt, eventually maim, and outright kill violent offenders. I fully intend on offering some version of this ward to every witch at Hogwarts before the school year ends. My conclave is going to start offering it at St. Mungo’s after the Yule.”
“It would be negated by the marriage bond,” Ron assumed.
“No, it wouldn’t,” Harry said. “I’m not exempt when it comes to the ward I placed on Hermione either. I never will be exempt, no matter the state of our relationship. Today I have permission to kiss her—tomorrow if she changes her mind about that the ward will repel me.”
Ron’s mouth dropped open. “Why would you do something… so… stupid?”
“Insuring a witch has the right to say no is not stupid, you git,” Harry snapped. “No wizard has the right to force himself on a witch—no matter their relationship. If you honestly think otherwise, I genuinely pity the woman you end up with.”
“I’m not saying it’s right to rape a witch,” Ron exclaimed. “My parents taught me right from wrong, you know.”
“But you are saying what exactly? That you have a right to kiss or touch a woman without her consent? Where do you draw that line? Should you be allowed to grab a witch’s arse whenever you want?” Neville asked. “I’m serious, Ron. Where do you draw the line? What sort of behavior do you think you should allowed?”
“Well, sometimes a witch might… be… trying to get that kind of attention,” Ron said quietly but avoided looking at Harry as he spoke. “I’m not saying any thing about anyone in particular, you know, it’s just sometimes girls appear to want some kind of response from a wizard.”
“How?” Harry asked. “Short skirt, tight jumper? A few cosmetic charms? A new perfume?”
“Well, maybe,” Dean Thomas said with a frown. “It does seem like a witch who puts in an effort to look good is seeking a boy’s attention.”
“And wanting to be noticed is the same thing as wanting to be groped?” Harry asked dryly.
“No, of course not,” Dean said and shook his head. “Except, they obviously want some kind of attention or approval or something.” He shrugged helplessly. “Witches are confusing. I just wish they’d tell me exactly what they want and exactly how they want it. That’d be great.”
“I got news for you, lads,” Harry said dryly. “Ninety percent of what witches do concerning their appearance is not for us, it’s for other witches. I’m going to attend three or four balls over the next ten months or so with Hermione—as far as I’m concerned she could wear the same exact dress to every event. Nearly all men would agree with me. She won’t though—because other women are going to judge her for everything from the cut of the dress to the bloody buckles on her shoes. She’ll wear her hair different each time, too, not because I’ll care but because if she doesn’t there’ll be an article in Witch Weekly about it. The fact that there is an entire publication dedicated to witches talking about other witches should really be a clue for you all.”
“They talk about wizards in it, too,” Ron protested.
Harry snorted. “Dobby.” The elf appeared in front of him, mostly out of uniform and looking exhausted. “Whoa.”
“I have a horrible baby,” Dobby said bluntly. “All she do is cry and eat and sleep and cry some more.”
Harry grinned as the elf climbed up on a chair beside him and slumped there. “Now, really, it can’t be that bad.”
“I take it all back, Master Harry,” Dobby said tiredly. “I not be thrilled at all to be a Papa. Females make it seem like it will be all fun times but they lie. The fun times have come and gone.”
“Well, I think the fun times was when you were making the baby,” Harry said and grinned when Dobby scowled at him.
Dobby huffed. “You wait, Master Harry, I don’t think fun times be worth it!”
Harry raised an eyebrow. “If you honestly think that, then we need to have a real serious wizard to elf talk about fun times.”
Dobby snorted. “I had fun times long before you were even born.”
“Yes, but I’m worried that you’re doing it wrong,” Harry said with a laugh.
“What did Master Harry want?” Dobby asked with a put upon sigh.
“A copy of Witch Weekly,” Harry admitted. “Sorry, I forgot you were on maternity leave.”
“I not be on maternity leave!” Dobby protested.
“Paternity leave?” Harry corrected and smirked when Dobby groaned dramatically. “I was pretty sure I gave you the whole month off.”
“Master Harry,” Dobby began, “you love Dobby, right? I be a very loyal elf to you.”
“I’m not ending your paternity leave early,” Harry said. “Have you two settled into Hogsmeade?”
“Yes,” Dobby said with a frown. “I goes get your silly girl magazine.”
Neville burst out laughing when Dobby left abruptly. “Poor guy.”
“I really hope he’s doing fun times wrong,” Dean said.
“I’m sure he’s just exhausted,” Harry said. “Baby house elves only sleep four hours at a time and their parents feed them as much on magic as they do other nutrients. The first two weeks are really crucial to the development of the baby’s magic.”
“How do you know all of that?” Ron asked.
“I asked Star, my head elf, when I found out that Winky was pregnant. All of my female elves have blanket permission to procreate. There are twelve of them and they are all mated. Winky is the first to have a baby. I think… I think they were waiting until I fully matured magically before they started having babies.”
“Why?” Dean asked.
Harry started to respond but was stopped by the slight pop of another arrival. He blinked in surprise. “Hey, Winky, should be you be popping about so early? It’s only been four days since you had the baby.”
“I’m good Master Harry,” Winky said. “Dobby has strong magic to go along with his bad attitude.”
Harry grinned as she handed over a copy of Witch Weekly. “He’s just tired.”
“I know,” Winky said. She hopped up on the chair Dobby had abandoned. “He be a good mate even when he’s tired and bitchy.”
“I feel the need to reprimand you for your language and then I remember you’re like almost a couple hundred years older than me,” Harry admitted. “How is the baby? Dobby said she was a bad baby.”
Winky huffed. “She very awake baby. Dobby be giving her a bath. I sit here and rest a while.”
“Sure.” Harry agreed and opened up the magazine he’d been brought. “Okay lads, let’s take a look a magazine that every witch on this planet of a certain age has seen at least once.” He shared a little grin with Neville. “Page one—a list of the ten most attractive wizards over the age of seventeen. Page two—a list of the ten most attractive wizards under the age of seventeen. Hey, Neville—you’re number three.”
Neville sighed. “Bite me, Harry. Who’s number one? You or Malfoy?”
“Malfoy but I was for months,” Harry said. “I think killing Krum lowered my level of hotness or something.”
“I can’t see how,” Dean Thomas admitted. “It should’ve done a lot to increase it actually. He was a dark bastard.”
Harry just shrugged. “Okay, so page three—Up-dos and don’ts.” He frowned and read a little more. “Oh, it’s an article about hair.” He sighed and flipped the page. “Page four—Choosing the Proper Support Charm. Page five—Hair Accessories and Enchanted Brushes. Page six—Maintaining Healthy Friendships with Other Witches. Page seven—What to Ask When Joining a Coven. Page eight—Witch’s Rights Bill added to the Wizengamot agenda by Minister Black. Page nine—Dating the Right Wizard. Page twelve—Choosing the Right Wizard for Your Opening. Page thirteen—How to Break Up with Your Opener.” Harry laughed. “Wait, I have to read this one.” He cleared his throat and began,
“Should you chose a ritual Opening, you will likely have little or no social contact with the wizard after the fact unless you chose to. A private Opening, however, normally happens with a close friend of yours or your family. It comes with a certain set of challenges as most wizards are under the mistaken impression that they should see or date you socially after the Opening. This is why choosing your Opener is so important (see page 12). If his goals or expectations are vastly different from your own, you run the risk of hurting or alienating him with your lack of interest in pursuing a romantic relationship.
If you find that your Opener has developed feelings for you that you do not reciprocate it is important to let him down as gently as possible. He has done you a great service already and as long as he took care of you properly during the Opening you do owe him your consideration. Consideration, however, does not equal affection. You are under no obligation to develop feelings for him, unless your parents are terribly old fashioned and have betrothed you to the man without your consent.
It is proper to entertain him socially for several weeks in order to determine if his romantic interest is genuine or merely a by-product of sexual intimacy or because he’d like to have sex with you again. You are under no obligation to have sex with him again. You can, however, have sex with him again if it strikes your fancy. (See Page 12 of the September third issue of this year for tips on ensuring your wizard is a good lover).
“Good lord,” Neville muttered. “I had no idea this thing was full of stuff like that.”
McLaggen was frowning. “Do you get the impression that our whole experience with witches is just them… placating us?”
“Yes,” Dean Thomas answered immediately.
Harry laughed and went back to his reading. “It’s important to acknowledge his feelings and his right to them while asserting your own lack of interest in the gentlest manner possible. It is best to do this in a public setting to avoid a scene. Make yourself clear, let him know that your parent or guardian has been informed of your choice, and depart immediately as there is no need to endure any sort of protests he might have.”
“Wow.” Seamus said. “I think that happened to me over the summer.”
Harry laughed. “Sorry.” He flipped the page. “The Heiress of the House of Ross: Her Thoughts on the Duel…” He trailed off with a frown and glanced across the room towards Hermione who was patiently braiding Fay Dunbar’s hair. He folded the corner down on the article and flipped through two pages to the next section. “You and Your Next Ball Gown.” He flipped again. “Building a Mature Relationship with your Mother.” He flipped through four pages. “Choosing the Appropriate Spell for Your Menstrual Cycle.” His eyes widened and he flipped quickly. “Some things are none of a wizard’s business.”
“You mean that magazine is full of stuff about… witches,” Ron said. “Not articles about…”
“What how to catch and keep a wizard?” Harry asked for a laugh. “Honestly, Weasley, do you think that they actually need a whole weekly distributed magazine on how to keep us interested? That’s insane.”
“Males always be assuming they are more important than they are,” Winky said pointedly and held out her hands and with a little pop a baby house elf appeared. “Is Master Harry ready to hold the baby?”
Harry hesitated. “Are you sure, Winky? You know she’ll probably bond with me the moment I touch her.”
“I trust you to be good to my baby just like you be to me,” Winky said. “You’d never sell her.”
“No, I wouldn’t,” Harry said in agreement.
He held out his hands and Winky very carefully laid her squirming daughter into them. Frankly, the infant fit in one hand. He spread his fingers out just a little to support her head and smiled. “She’s very pretty actually.”
“You be surprised?” Winky asked and laughed. “Dobby be ugly baby. I see pictures. I be worried the whole time I carry her that my baby would take after him.”
Harry grinned at her. “You’re horrible.”
But the baby was very pretty—with her small face and sparkling green eyes. All of her features were in proportion. Not something that was true of adult house elves. She had tiny little nose, and delicately pointed ears.
“Oh, my gosh, Lord Harry,” Astoria Greengrass breathlessly from across the table. “Where did you get a baby house elf? Can I see?”
“Winky brought her new baby to see me,” Harry said as he looked up and found the female half of Gryffindor crowding in close when they’d been content to stay on the other side of the room where Hermione was holding court before the arrival of the doll-like baby house elf.
He shifted the baby slightly and the infant reached out and latched onto the ring finger on his right hand, her tiny fingers glancing over his ring on instinct. Harry paused as a gentle glow drifted between him and infant. The baby cooed as his magic enveloped her. Her little legs kicked out in delight as she clung to his finger. The glow faded and he sat back in his chair, tucking the baby against his chest. “Oh.”
Winky snorted. “Emmie going to be real disappointed when she finds out she’s no longer your favorite.”
Harry grinned at her. “Winky, she’s so awesome. It’s like holding sunshine.”
“Then we name her Sunshine,” Winky said.
Harry nodded. “Sunshine it is. Did you get the amulet Dad had made for her?”
“Yes, it be hidden on her,” Winky admitted. “But now she be bonded with you… if someone took her from me you could call her back. She be safer now.”
“What do you mean take her from you?” Hermione asked as she moved around the table to stand near Harry and get a better look at the baby.
“Sometimes,” Winky started, “bad wizards use spell to find infant elves and force them to accept bond. I be taken from my mum that way. I not see my mother again until I bonded with Master Harry. The Crouch family not let me visit her. I be with them a hundred-twenty-two years. My mum not recognize me at first but when we touched magic she knew me again.”
“That is horrible,” Hermione whispered. “I’m so sorry, Winky.”
“It be how many elves are bonded to families in Britain especially. It be illegal to bond with a infant without the mother’s permission almost everywhere else in the magical world,” Winky explained. “The only time it can be done legally in most countries is if the mother dies during childbirth and the baby needs a bond to survive. Most wizards not be strong enough to keep a baby elf alive on their own but Master Harry could. That’s why I bring Sunshine here… so she be safe in case something happens to me or Dobby.”
“But she’s bonded to Harry, so no one could take her,” Hermione said. “Right?”
“Well.” Winky frowned and shared a look with Harry. He gave her an abrupt nod. “Some dark wizards could try to take her anyway. Baby elves be… prized for potions ingredients, Miss Hermione.”
“Oh my god,” Hermione exclaimed. “What kind of potion calls for that?”
“The kind they use in ritual sacrifices,” Harry said quietly. He patted Sunshine’s back as he considered what else he should say. “There is a reason why I have twice as many male elves as I do female, Mi.”
“I don’t…” Hermione frowned. “Are they hiding or being used by dark wizards?”
“Most believe the bond with a house elf can only be broken if the wizard purposefully gives an elf clothes,” Harry began, “that’s not true. If a witch or wizard violates the covenant between our two species, such as using an infant house elf for bloody potions ingredients, any bonds they have with a house elf would be obliterated in the magical backlash. However, it is perfectly okay for a wizard to sell the off spring of his house elves. There are… facilities where they breed house elves for that very purpose… to be sold for one reason or another. Female house elves fetch a stupidly high price on the open market—upwards of fifty thousand galleons. A third of the money that the Lily Potter Foundation makes every year is used to purchase and free house elves from these facilities. But for every five I free, another twenty are sold because they refuse to sell me more. It’s an ugly situation.”
“These facilities are in Britain,” Hermione said. “They have to be because it’s illegal in most other countries to mistreat them.”
“There are two in Britain, another in Bulgaria, and one more in the US,” Harry said. “I’ve tried to purchase the two in Britain three times but they know I’d just dismantle it so they refuse me.” He didn’t mention he had a plan in the works with the dverger to make the sale of a house elf in Britain practically impossible.
Hermione huffed. “I really, really need you to buy me the Daily Prophet. I have a lot to bloody say!”
“He can’t really buy the Prophet,” Ron said snidely.
“Actually,” Harry said and leaned forward. He opened the ledger he’d been working in when his table had been invaded and checked the status on the purchase. “The sale will be final in forty-eight hours.” He lifted an eyebrow when Ron’s mouth dropped open. “I did tell her she could have anything she wanted. I meant that. There is very little on this planet that is legal to buy that I can’t buy. I could also buy quite a few things that aren’t exactly legal but that is neither here nor there. Money is only useful when you actually spend it, you know. Letting it sit in a vault collecting dust is just… hoarding.”
A bottle popped onto the table in front of him and he glanced at Winky. He grinned when he saw that she’d curled up in the chair and gone to sleep. He gamely picked up the bottle and turned Sunshine gently on her back so he could offer the bottle. The baby latched onto it greedily.
Harry glanced up and found Hermione regarding him with her most serious expression. “Yes?”
“My ovaries are about to explode. Hand over the baby right now.” Then she made grabby hands at him like a little kid.
Harry laughed. “I’m not sure I should actually. What if it gives you ideas?”
“You did say she could have anything she wanted,” Neville said wryly as Hermione maneuvered her way into Harry’s lap and took the baby with careful hands. She let Harry keep the bottle. “Merlin, the two of you are disgusting. I can’t even imagine how sappy you’d be if Harry had been here as a first year.”
Hermione took a deep breath. “Her magic is…”
“Yeah,” Harry agreed. “It’s rather like holding a live wire.”
Astoria shifted into their space and leaned in. “She’s so pretty. Like a doll.” She hesitantly touched the baby’s foot and her eyes went wide. “Oh.” Her eyes went wide and grew damp with tears. “Oh, I have to go tell my Daddy.”
Harry blinked when she marched off. “Tell him what, Toria?”
“He’s gotta start working on saving baby elves!” Astoria announced. “We can’t just allow evil dark gits to kill babies for potions!”
Neville looked at Harry. “Do you ever wonder how much of Gerald Greengrass’ political platform is centered on keeping the women in his family happy?”
“If he’s smart, all of it,” Harry said dryly. “There’s simply no need to make war in your own home.”
* * * *
“How are things with your wife?” Harry asked as he focused on Thaddeus Banner. “Did she have any memory charms or the like?”
“Her mind is clear and unmodified, I had Master Ito evaluate her as I felt I couldn’t control my temper to do it,” Banner admitted roughly. “She’s absolutely furious, however, but the flowers you sent were well received.”
Harry laughed. “Dad said you should always send a witch flowers when you’re even slightly responsible for upsetting them. It’s just good manners.” He looked around the courtyard of Hogwarts as the other senior members of the conclave came through the entry and approached them. He sat down at the large stone table they’d used last time and they all gathered around it. “Thank you for coming to me.”
“We used to have to take an international portkey,” Armand said. “Trotting off to Scotland is much easier.”
Harry pulled his journal from his bracelet and a quill. “I have a few housekeeping matters regarding Gryffindor Circle but more importantly we have two major issues as far as I’m concerned.”
“Beyond Nagini?” Castius asked.
“Three then,” Harry said with a sigh. “At least two men impersonated Thaddeus during the time he was being held in the Ministry. One of them whom was a very talented parselmouth—talented enough to work with you all in our ritual circle and not be suspected.”
“We conducted no full rituals during that time,” Armand said. “We’re still cleaning up the general space and shoring up any uncorrupted rune work we find as we go along. Since such magic is individual, whoever it was certainly wouldn’t have had any opportunity to brush up against any of us magically.” Armand pulled a dark red journal from his cloak and opened it. “I’ve reviewed my memories of the times I was in the circle with the person I assumed to be Banner and his actions were within the norm. I also made note of everyone else involved in the circle at the same time as it stands to reason whoever was impersonating Thaddeus is one of us.”
Harry nodded. “David Mallory knew more about our conclave’s inner workings than I’m comfortable with. He knew about my conflict with Wilhelm Humphries and I’d like to know how seriously I should take his warning about that situation. Thoughts?”
“I investigated that matter personally,” Castius said. “Wilhelm is for lack of a better word, enthralled with Hermione McGonagall. Her magical power, her physical beauty and most certainly her animagus form make her extremely attractive to our kind as you well know, Harry.”
“Will he try to hurt her?”
“He’s certainly capable of it,” Castius said, his tone mild. “He’s also very aware of the fact that she has the discretion ward in place. He’d have no hope of circumventing it which means he has no options. In other more dangerous circumstances, he might have tried to bond her to him through sex magic.”
Harry’s magical aura surfaced briefly and he took a deep breath to calm himself down. “Right.”
“Philippe would never expect you to keep his nephew in your conclave if you can’t bring yourself to trust him,” Armand murmured.
“We have a duty to Master Bardon,” Harry said. “He gave us so much. He gave me so much. Do I just give up on his nephew—the last of Bardon line?”
“Bardon knew his nephew’s weaknesses very well,” Hiro Ito said from his place on the opposite end of the table from Harry. “That’s why he was never once in consideration to be the High Warlock of the Glain Neidr.” Ito relaxed back in the chair he’d conjured. “I had several long talks with Philippe Bardon before his death, Harry, and I came to understand that he considered you the future of his conclave. We both knew you’d grow and mature into the right kind of wizard and that such power would not corrupt you.”
“But it would corrupt Wilhelm.”
“It already has,” Hiro said. “And you well know it. Parselmagic is not meant for everyone, Harry, and some who are born latent should remain so. Bardon was blinded to his nephew’s faults—his illness and his desire to see his family magic continued made him put his nephew on a very dangerous and even deadly path.”
“Options?” Harry asked.
“I can take the gift from him,” Ito said. “It’s not something I’ve done often and certainly not the best solution in most cases but Humphries has yet to act on his obscene ambitions. The fact is that he has no hope of getting to Hermione McGonagall while you’re alive so the real threat he presents is to you.”
Harry put a hand on Castius’ arm when the man started to stand. “Relax.”
Castius frowned. “Relax? Your father needs to be…”
“This is conclave business,” Harry said pointedly and didn’t lift his hand until Castius slouched back on the bench. “I realize the lines are blurred more often than not on the subject of my father, but this is not a situation I want him involved in.”
“Why?” Ito asked curiously.
“He’s the Minister for Magic,” Harry said impatiently. “I’d rather him not be in the know when I set out to violate half a dozen international laws. He won’t be forced to lie if he’s kept out of it.”
“He’ll be furious, Harry.”
Harry inclined his head. “Yes, but this is my decision.” He watched Castius process that. “You can go if you wish and not involve yourself further in this matter. I won’t hold it against you. I’d not want to come between you this way.”
Castius huffed. “Your father understands the rules of the conclave, Harry. He knew very well there would come a time when I’d have to keep secrets from him—even where you are concerned.”
“David Mallory.” Harry focused on Thaddeus as he spoke.
“He worked as an Auror for ten years before joining the Unspeakables. His record isn’t spotless but he’s by no means a dark wizard as far as we know. At most, he’s a blind follower. The DOM and specifically the Unspeakables haven’t been answerable to anyone really since McGregor was replaced in the 1980s. Savage was firmly in Fudge’s pocket and had been since Fudge worked as the Chief Prosecutor for the Wizengamot. He put Savage in charge of the Department of Mysteries so he could circumvent the Crown’s authority. Traditionally, the department is considered part of the British Secret Service and through that organization, the Queen was able to monitor the magical government. Through the years, Fudge eroded that power within the DOM and the British Muggle government allowed it.”
Harry grinned at him. “Always a history teacher, Master Banner.”
Thaddeus sighed. “Don’t get shirty, lad, I’m the reason you had a perfect score on your International Magical History NEWT.”
“I might have had a little bit to do with it,” Harry said and grinned when his former tutor and vassal only raised one dark eyebrow at him. “Right, well, so if Mallory isn’t a dark wizard then…”
“He warned you of a situation he found genuinely concerning,” Banner said. “It also stands to reason that he knew about the problems you were having with Humphries because he was told or observed it.”
“Observed it,” Harry said. “Right, you think Wilhelm is the one who prepared him to replace you.” He turned to Armand. “Did he work in the ritual space with the person pretending to be Thaddeus?”
Armand reviewed his list. “No, but he’s nowhere near powerful or talented enough to pretend to be Banner.”
“At least not long term,” Harry agreed. “But he could’ve easily pulled off the tasks you were all doing at the circle that day.” He focused on Banner. “And you said that your wife hadn’t seen you the entire three days that the DOM had you in custody?”
“While I was receiving a note saying she was injured, she was reading a letter from me detailing an unexpected trip to Paris on your behalf. She was rather disappointed actually that I wasn’t in Paris as I always bring back a bottle of her favored perfume when I go and she’s nearly out.” Thaddeus tapped his fingers on the table with a frown. “If he has done this then he has betrayed us both—both in word and deed. He has committed a gross abuse against our brotherhood, Lord Potter.”
“I don’t disagree,” Harry said. “His disrespect infuriates me and his interest in my witch makes me homicidal. You all need to understand that she’s… everything and I’d have a very difficult time staying in the Light if she were to come to harm.”
“I believe we all know very well how this young woman impacts you magically,” Armand said. “The last time there was a significant threat against her—you lost your temper so completely that you forced your magical maturation.”
Harry flushed but didn’t deny it. He hardly could—most of the men at the table had been involved in ritually suppressing his magic in the week that followed to prevent him from rupturing his core. “As to Wilhelm Humphries, he is no longer a member of our brotherhood. I will travel to the bank and use their ritual space to excise him from the conclave within the next twenty-four hours. Master Ito, if you would assist Master Banner in investigating Humphries more thoroughly on a magical level I would appreciate it.”
“And if I consider him too much of a threat to be allowed to continue?” Ito asked.
“As always, sir, I bow to your superior knowledge of both our craft and our kind. If Wilhelm Humphries cannot be trusted with the noble magic of the serpents then it should be taken from him.” Harry glanced towards the front entrance of Hogwarts as the doors opened. Hermione and entire pack of witches came out. They all had brooms which Harry thought was particularly alarming considering what he’d heard about her skills on a broom.
He stood as she hesitated at the ward boundary he’d set for privacy and he motioned her forward with a small frown. The men behind him stood before she reached him.
“Love… that’s my Firebolt.”
She raised one eyebrow at him. “What’s yours is mine, right?”
“Well… in theory… yes but that’s my Firebolt.”
“It’s the only broom you have in your quarters,” Hermione said primly. “Daphne is going to give me a flying lesson.”
“Right.” Harry barely refrained from glaring at Daphne Greengrass who had stopped just a few meters from the ward. She waved at him cheerfully. The rest of their pack followed suit. He thought the Patil twins waved rather sarcastically, truth be known.
“Emmie.” The elf appeared immediately and she flushed when Harry simply stared at her.
“You not say anything about…” She trailed off when Harry huffed. “I goes get her a broom.”
“Yes, you do that,” Harry said. “Ask Mr. Boothby if he has one of the new Nimbus 2200s I ordered for Hogwarts ready. Make sure all the safety charms are in place.”
Hermione bit down on her lip and offered him the Firebolt.
He took it. “Don’t get pouty with me, Mi. You know very well you don’t have the skill to handle a racing broom.”
“I can fly without one, you know,” Hermione pointed out.
“So can I but I’d rather not test my ability to change into my form in the middle of a hundred meter fall.” He shrank the Firebolt and flicked it into his bracelet. “Your mother would skin me if she knew I’d let you dart about the pitch on a Firebolt.”
Emmie reappeared with a broom and offered it to Hermione. “This be for you, gift to the Lady Potter.”
Hermione blushed but accepted the broom. “Please remind me to send Mr. Boothby a thank you note.”
“Don’t feel too guilty about the gift, I’ve already spent fifty thousand galleons with his company having this broom designed and built,” Harry said. “For my own peace of mind, I’m going to ask you not to deactivate the safety charms.”
“I’m not the daredevil around here,” Hermione reminded. “I’d personally rather stay on the ground but I lost a bet so I have to learn to sit a broom like a proper witch.”
“You took a bet with a Slytherin?” Harry asked with a laugh.
“Bite me,” Hermione said cheerfully as she flounced away.
Harry turned to Emmie as Hermione passed through the ward and headed off towards the pitch. “Seriously?”
Emmie huffed. “I not be boss of her, you know. She grown witch.” She popped away with a little flick of two green ponytails.
“Well, while we’re on the subject let’s discuss the most difficult female in my life at present,” Harry said as he regained his seat. “Status on Nagini?”
“She’s still in the forest,” Armand said. “The wards are holding her easily on that front. We’ve moved the unicorns into a second protective warded area. They aren’t thrilled to be so constricted but they appreciate why. The centaur are patrolling the area around their own ward boundary and report no significant kills close to their village. We’ve seen physical evidence of her travels in the forest but magically we are still unable to track her.”
“That’s not really a surprise. I imagine Riddle did quite a bit to her magically to prevent her from being outright hunted. He was very emotionally attached to her. I have to think only timing prevented him from making her a horcrux.” He raised a hand when more than one man at the table started to protest. “Seriously, he slept with that snake and I mean that in the most base way possible. His animagus form was a viper, you see. He bred her personally more than once though I don’t think they ever had viable off-spring.”
“That is a memory we’d be happy to help you suppress,” Banner said crossly and shuddered.
“It’s honestly the least fucked up thing he ever did,” Harry said.
“That’s because your form isn’t a snake,” Jacob Dyson protested. “The rest of us don’t have luxury. I rarely even take my form in front of my snakes much less even think about fucking one.”
“Master Ito doesn’t seem all that disturbed,” Harry said amused.
“There is very little on this planet that is a mystery to me,” Hiro said with a little smirk that most of the wizards at the table do a double take.
“You freak,” Harry said fondly and sat back in his chair with a grin.
* * * * –
“You’re all under the impression that you’ve got a choice here,” Sirius started as he glanced around the Wizengamot, “and that actually couldn’t be further from the truth. I fucking warned you when you were all so intent on electing me to the office of Minister that I’d do things you wouldn’t approve of. The fact is that the Wizengamot is but one part of the Ministry and frankly this body has exercised more power than the governing charter allows for decades. I don’t know what is more offensive, honestly, the general belief that I’d let you continue to get away with it or the backroom planning you think you’ve kept from me.
“The Crown has set down a series of directives that we must meet else we run the risk of interference by the Muggle government. The ICW would step in before that happened, of course, and we’d be subjected to their decisions without discussion. Fudge ignored this situation for ten years and the end result of that is that we have roughly six months left before our government is dissolved and the ICW steps in to govern us. Now, frankly, that’s just embarrassing.
“But moreover, it’s an utter shame that we’ve been reduced to this because of your petty, unreasonable, and ignorant blood politics. Magical Britain is stagnating and the Ministry is bleeding funds. We’re paying four times as much as any other country to export goods and the imports? You realize that we’ve been denied magical advances in practically every field because the rest of the world thinks Britain isn’t ready for them? Worse? We’re going to start losing our young people to other countries who have better jobs, more technology, better relationships with Muggle governments, and most importantly—equality. We are a society ripe for another blood war because the lot of you continue to be wrapped up in the idea that being a pureblood somehow makes you magically superior.”
“Are you saying it doesn’t?” Tobias Savage demanded. “You’re a pureblood yourself, Minister.”
“My son is a half-blood and he could make you beg for your mother,” Sirius snapped and smirked when Savage flinched. “But you already know that. His mother was Muggle-born and was without peerage in her generation. Magic is magic and our grasp of it is not and never has been a matter of blood. While we’re on the subject, let’s discuss my thoughts on the Marriage Protocol of 1875. Gentlemen, if you need a law in place to keep your wife married to you… then frankly you aren’t much of a man or a wizard.”
* * * *
Hermione was sprawled out on the grass of the Quidditch pitch with her friends the next time Harry saw her. He spun around in the air with a sweep of his wings and landed on his feet as a wizard just a few meters from them. “That broom lesson didn’t last long.”
“She’s hopeless!” Daphne exclaimed with a scowl. “How is that possible?”
“She doesn’t trust herself,” Harry said.
“I’m right here,” Hermione exclaimed and glared at Harry.
“You’re lucky you’re brilliant and gorgeous,” Harry said conversationally. “This broom thing could be a deal breaker otherwise.”
Hermione tried to frown at him but failed miserably. “How’d your meeting go?”
“Very well, I think. We spent most of it planning for a few rituals concerning the Gryffindor Circle.”
“Can I help?” Hermione asked.
“Nope, unless you’re ready to have a lengthy bout of ritual sex on an altar in front of my entire conclave.”
“Lengthy bout,” one of the girls from Slytherin repeated. “Just…”
“Tracy,” Hermione hissed. “You shut it.” She glared at the girl who just laughed in return before turning to Harry. “How long would that be?”
“The average is about forty-five minutes.” He grinned when all of their mouths dropped open in near unison. “But such events if planned for properly can take upwards of an hour.”
“Are you saying you could fuck for an hour?” Daphne demanded as she sat up.
“That’s a terribly rude question, Daphne,” Hermione snapped.
Harry laughed. “Potions and spells come into play for rituals, you know. With such things in place, most magicals can go for at least forty-five minutes or more depending on over all magical stamina.” He turned his head slightly and scales surged across his face and neck. “Get them out of here.”
Hermione stood up as Harry lunged forward in his dragon form toward the end of the pitch where the Forbidden Forest backed up against the stands. “In the air, right now!”
They scrambled into brooms and rose into the air high above the pitch at a large viper broke through the stands and onto the pitch. Harry landed with a thunderous boom practically on top of the reptile.
“Go back to castle and get help,” Hermione ordered breathlessly. Everyone but Daphne left as fast their brooms would carry them.
Pendragon hit the ground as the snake flung her lower body out and hit him broadside. Hermione took a deep breath as she watched Harry in his dragon form take the blow and stagger to his feet.
Harry flung the snake half the length of the pitch but she spun around rapidly and launched herself at him again. Hermione’s fingers tightened around her broom handle as the two of them tangled together in a writhing mass of magic. Tears blurred her vision but she used her free hand to clear them.
Then suddenly everything came to a halt, Harry shook loose the body of the snake and flicked his wings in what looked like a show of temper. He blew fire with a roar and reared on his hind legs as wizards started to apparate onto the pitch.
Hermione shared a glanced with Daphne and they lowered themselves to the ground. Harry regained his feet as a wizard, though his eyes remained a glowing purple as he did so. She gave her mother a quick nod as she and half the staff arrived on the pitch as well. Hermione wasn’t at all surprised when the Minister, a large group of Aurors, and a few dverger appeared before she even fully gained her feet.
“Are you all right?”
Harry rubbed the shoulder he’d injured in the duel with Viktor but nodded. “Fine.” He stared at the snake in silence his jaw working with fury, eyes bright. “Dad.”
“I’m here, lad.”
“We have a more serious problem than I thought in the forest. I’m not sure if we can keep the school open.”
“I don’t understand,” Sirius admitted. “How did this snake get through the wards?”
“I can’t say for certain but I have to think it’s because he or she carried the blood of the Heir of Slytherin.” He turned to Ito. “I think…no… I know I was wrong. I was completely wrong. He did have off spring with Nagini.”
“Fuck,” Hiro muttered. He pulled his wand and went to the snake. Ito cast a spell that enveloped this entire snake. “Looks like he hatched about three weeks after Riddle fell in 1981.”
Harry nodded. “Makes sense, he didn’t have memories of them.” He ran a shaking hand through his hair and hissed slightly. His hand fell to his left side.
“You’re hurt,” Hermione accused.
“It’s fine,” Harry said murmured. He turned to his Dad. “The average magical viper can lay anywhere from five to ten viable eggs. I killed this one so we can’t investigate his memory to determine how many nest mates he might have had.”
“And you’re certain this isn’t Nagini?” Sirius asked. He turned to Ito. “You’re positive about the age and gender?”
“Very,” Ito assured. “As to the school, the matter is a simple one, Harry. You need to end the Slytherin line’s claim on the school proper. This is your ancestral property and the magic of the ward stone will respond to you. Riddle was the last of the Slytherin family and his off spring, such as they are, have no claim on the family magic.”
“Wait.” Hermione held up a hand. “Are you saying that Tom Riddle bred his familiar? He had sex with her?”
Harry flushed. “Yeah, in his snake form.”
“That nasty bastard,” Hermione said wonderingly and absolutely no one could disagree with her.
Episode 23: Gryffindor’s Claim