Title: Gryffindor’s Claim
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: 11,710
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.
Out of all the ways she thought she’d spend her Sunday, the last thing that Hermione would’ve ever guessed was that she’d be watching a snake dissection. Harry had joined the process that Hiro Ito was literally elbow deep in as soon as they’d arrived. The body was spread out over ten tables in a large open basement in the Hogsmeade townhouse. Draco Malfoy had left Hogwarts with them and was currently following the wizard she knew to be Thaddeus Banner. He held multiple masteries but was one of the few in the inner circle of the Glain Neidr who wasn’t a Healer. Banner was also a sworn vassal to the House of Potter.
The stunning part of the entire thing was that a woman appeared to be in charge of the entire process. Hermione hadn’t been introduced but assumed that would happen when they all broke for a meal. Daphne Greengrass as seated on a stool beside her, making every effort not to throw up. Hermione was really proud of how she well she was holding up. She hadn’t gagged once. Daphne, on the other hand, was slightly green and had cast several stomach calming charms on herself.
“Oh, this is fascinating,” the woman exclaimed. “Thaddeus, darling, pull my specimen vials from my kit.”
Piper Banner, Hermione thought. She’d helped Harry pick out a flower arrangement as an apology for the situation that had happened with Banner and the Unspeakables. She watched Master Banner bring a small wooden box of empty vials to his wife. Harry told her that Piper Banner had a Mastery in the Care of Magical Creatures and a Muggle degree in veterinary medicine. Hermione flinched when Piper started to deftly gather flesh and tissue samples. She whipped out her wand and hit Daphne with an anti-nausea charm that had the girl sitting up straighter with a grateful smile.
A gentle thunk against her foot had her looking down. She raised an eyebrow as Atlas rubbed his head over her ankle. “This could mentally damage you for life, Atlas.”
The snake flicked out his tongue against her jeans briefly before hissing in disappointment. He started to move up her leg but from across the room Harry cleared his throat.
“Absolutely not, lad, stay on the floor.”
“It’s fine,” Hermione said.
“I don’t think Daphne agrees with you,” Harry said dryly.
Hermione glanced towards her friend and found Daphne pale, fingers trembling slightly. Hermione slipped her hand into Daphne’s and the girl took a deep breath. “It’s fine, really. He’s nothing like the one that attacked Harry yesterday.”
“They look practically identical,” Daphne said.
“I imagine he thinks we do, too,” Hermione said with a grin. “But he’s fine because he belongs to Harry.” Hermione slipped off the stool and urged Daphne down with her. “Besides his magic is… he feels safe. Can’t you feel it?”
“No,” Daphne admitted.
“You’re just not paying attention,” Hermione said patiently as she settled them on the floor. “Snakes have parselmagic inside them just like… well, just like parselmouths. You know what that feels like.”
“Of course you do,” Piper interrupted with a laugh. “The sex changed a lot after Lord Malfoy’s gifts were woke, right?”
Daphne frowned at that.
“She means that really warm rush of magic you get from him when he…” Hermione started and flushed.
“Comes,” Piper cheerfully supplied and laughed when her husband nudged her.
“Oh, but I’ve always gotten that,” Daphne said and blushed at the choked sounds that elicited from the men working on the snake.
“It’s not a surprise,” Harry said as he glanced towards Malfoy who looked more amused than embarrassed. “His parselmagic was running pretty close to the surface for a latent. So close, in fact, that Godric found him quite interesting. Teach her how to recognize Atlas’ magic, Mi. It’ll be a good skill for her to have.”
“Let’s start with Rowena, actually,” Hermione said and pulled the disillusioned snake from her around her neck. The snake lit with dark red elemental fire. She offered the snake to Daphne.
“Are you sure…”
“It’s fine,” Harry said without looking up from his work. “All of my snakes at Hogwarts are rather fond of you, Daphne. I think Osiris wants to move into your dorm. Astoria handles Rowena a lot so she feels your connection to the Greengrass family magic.”
Daphne accepted the snake and the elemental fire danced over her fingers. “You know I thought she was going to kill Goyle that day in Potions. He totally had it coming, of course, but it was a bit horrifying when she burst out of thin air like that. Theo Nott apparently had nightmares for a week about it.” She squared her shoulders. “Okay, so… the warmth I’m feeling isn’t her fire, is it?”
“No, it’s her magic,” Hermione said. “Close your eyes and center yourself like when you’re going to meditate. What do you feel from her?”
“Affection,” Daphne said after a minute of silence. “She’s protective but content.” She opened her eyes. “She’s a bonded familiar, how much of that is genuinely hers?”
“Very astute question, Miss Greengrass,” Hiro Ito said as he pulled the skin gently from the body section he and Harry working with. “A familiar can often mirror the emotions of their bonded but there is a distinct difference between that influence and their own emotions. However, that mirroring of emotions diminishes as the bond matures fully into a partnership. While it doesn’t often happen, there are times when a familiar can develop drastically different feelings towards other people in her bonded’s life. My first familiar hated my third wife.”
“How many wives have you had?” Hermione asked.
“I stopped counting some time ago, dear,” Hiro said as he pulled his wand and to cast a preservation spell on the skin he’d harvested. “Females get so caught up in the number, you see. My last wife was always trying to throw all of my previous marriages in my face.” He offered her a mild grin when Hermione huffed. “Relax, Hermione, your mother already told me she wouldn’t put up with any serious romantic nonsense from me.”
“I don’t know whether I’m relieved or horrified about that,” Hermione said. “I think you’re implying my mother is using you for sex.”
“She’d hardly be the first woman to do so,” Harry said with a laugh.
“And we have a verdict,” Dyson announced from his spot further down the snake. “This big bastard is sterile.”
“Environmental or genetic?” Harry said as he approached the table where Dyson was working.
“The testes are deformed,” Piper observed as Dyson moved so she could view his discovery. “Not a surprise considering his origins. No animagus has ever successfully created true-to-species offspring with a magical creature.”
“Wait, you say that like this is common,” Hermione said, aghast.
Piper looked up at her and grinned. “Your innocence is charming. Considering how many animagus are mammals… well, this isn’t the first time I’ve had a creature in front of me that was essentially a magical hybrid. Riddle didn’t have any genuine snake DNA to offer this creature at its conception. Instead, the magic of his animagus form mimicked Nagini’s genetic make-up during the mating. That’s why offspring are usually non-viable in such situations. Most rarely survive to be birthed or hatched as the case may be.”
“Because they are essentially…clones,” Hermione said with a frown as Atlas slowly twined himself around her.
“Yes, that’s a very good comparison and such creatures rarely survive long term if they are a live birth. This makes the creature before us a very unique learning experience.” Piper pulled out several vials and started to enlarge them.
“But they have a blood connection to Riddle,” Daphne interjected. “If his animagus form mimicked Nagini then how did his… he did it in ritual then? He infused the eggs with his human genetic legacy after they were created. That’s how he created viable offspring. He reinforced them with his own magic and blood after she laid her eggs.”
“That’s a brilliant theory, Daphne, and makes a great deal of sense,” Piper said. “What we know of breeding between animagus and magical creature surely speaks to the extreme unlikelihood of even one viable child.” She glanced over the remains. “But he was more than viable—he was magically strong and physically very healthy. Riddle’s son thrived despite his origins.” She cleared her throat. “Okay, I want all of the organs harvested for study gentlemen.”
“He’s not too heavy, is he?” Harry asked and stared pointedly at Atlas who had managed to drape himself over both girls’ laps.
“No, he’s fine,” Hermione said with a grin.
“Atlas doesn’t feel the same as Rowena,” Daphne said suddenly.
“No, he’s a little wilder but more he’s not bound to Harry so he’s… different in that respect well.”
Daphne nodded. “Harry… why do you have a snake like Atlas? I mean… you know.”
“Because Voldemort had a magical viper?” Harry supplied. “I actually bought my first viper to study because of him. I wanted to understand his relationship with Nagini and I thought to create a familiar bond with the snake I bought to further my knowledge of Riddle but the experiment ultimately failed. I’m not… I’ve since learned that I’m not the sort of parselmouth a viper would wish to bond with. I was young, you see, and foolishly thought my magical power would be enough to draw such a creature into a bond.”
“But it wasn’t, obviously. Hedwig was your first familiar,” Hermione said.
“His nature is far too romantic to bond with such a creature,” Piper said. “Magical vipers prefer to create magical bonds with less sentimental minds.”
Hermione huffed and glared at Harry. “Did you ask her to marry you, too?”
Harry grinned. “No, but I did have a terribly obvious crush on her when I was nine. I’ve apparently always been extremely fond of bossy dark-headed witches.”
Daphne laughed even as Hermione felt her cheeks heat with a blush.
“But to answer your question, Daphne, I bought Atlas for stud. He’s made me quite a bit of money since he matured. Magical vipers are very popular in Asia and in South America for magical security. They can be taught to guard their owner’s property. Unlike dogs who are often negatively impacted by magical wards, vipers thrive in a controlled warded environment. They keep pests under control as well. However, I can’t say that all of the snakes that are purchased from Serpent’s Lair end up with such duties. Goblins consider them a delicacy and I sell quite a bit to the Horde.” He winced when both girls stared at him horrified. “Don’t look at me like that. It’s no different than chicken or beef that regularly appears on the tables at Hogwarts.”
“Except snakes are intelligent,” Hermione protested.
“Some are and some aren’t,” Harry corrected. “Atlas and the snakes I have at Hogwarts have been repeatedly exposed to me and my magic for a number of years. That creates a unique situation for them to grow and mature mentally. I don’t eat snake myself, but I can’t deny the goblins the right to eat something they’ve been eating for thousands of years because I find the practice barbaric. They also eat dragon meat, you know.” He raised an eyebrow at them both. “You’re both wearing dragon hide boots by the way and dragons are hell and gone more intelligent than even the smartest snake you’ll ever encounter.”
Hermione winced as she glanced at her feet. The black hide bore a striking resemblance to Harry’s hide when he was transformed. “Right. Should I apologize for the boots?”
Harry laughed. “No, I’m not sensitive to that sort of thing. My dragon form is a manifestation of my own magic but I don’t feel any sort of kinship with other dragons. I do find them interesting though, and the one that guards my vault in Gringotts is pretty entertaining to wrestle with.”
“You wrestled with a dragon?” Hermione demanded, aghast. “Harry James! Does your father know?”
“Of course he does,” Harry said. “He bet on the outcome. It was the week before I came to Hogwarts actually. How else was I supposed to truly test the strength of my form? Only another dragon is a really a match for me when I’m in my form.” He looked at the snake spread out before them. “I gained information that certainly came in handy yesterday—I knew my own weaknesses and kept this abomination from using them against me. Though, honestly, I did it for fun.”
“It could’ve maimed you for life,” Hermione said hotly. “I’m going to have words with your Dad.”
Harry laughed. “I’m a grown man.”
“I’m going to have words with you, too!” Hermione told him primly. “Strong words.”
“Your state of dress during this discussion will determine how seriously I take it,” Harry informed her as he looked up from his work and smirked at her. “Wanna see something cool?”
“Is it going to be disgusting, too?” Hermione asked as she untangled herself from Atlas and stood.
Hermione rounded the table to his side and let herself be maneuvered into place in front of him. He wrapped an arm around her waist and drew his blackwood wand. “I haven’t thrown up since I was six. If you make me throw up… you’re not getting…anything for weeks.”
He laughed against her neck. “Just watch.”
He swirled his wand gently and magic burst out of it in little waves. Once the first stream of magic hit the portion of the snake in front of him a fine red mist started to rise out of it. It took her all of four seconds to realize it was blood. His spell continued to pump rhythmically out of his wand and the blood swirled around in front of her until it was a sphere.
“Why do it this way?”
“It keeps the blood as pure as possible,” Harry murmured. “I’ll need it for the ritual tonight.”
Hermione nodded. She picked up the empty vial in front of her and held it steady as he manipulated the blood into a stream. She corked it with steady fingers and tilted the vial slightly so she could study the blood. “It’s not normal.”
“No, not at all but magical viper blood isn’t normal to begin with,” Harry said. He took the vial and flicked it into his bracelet. “Why don’t you two go upstairs and see what we can have for lunch. It’s about to get really disgusting in here.”
“I can handle it,” Daphne said with a frown. Atlas was rubbing his head against her wrist and hissing nonsense.
“We’re going to deflesh this snake wholesale with a spell used in slaughter houses for meat harvesting,” Harry explained.
Piper Banner pulled off her gloves decisively. “Which is as disgusting as anything really gets, ladies. Let’s go find a nice spot to have tea. I understand the gardens were completed last week.”
Harry watched them leave and said nothing until the door was closed. He lifted his wand and pointed it at the door. With a few slashes, he activated the protocols that would keep anyone from entering without his permission. It was a precaution he’d installed on the door after Amaryllis and Narcissa had moved into the townhouse.
“She held up better than you assumed,” Harry said and focused on Draco.
“She hesitates,” Draco said quietly. “I think I have a right to be concerned about her accepting this…” He threw a hand out to encompass their entire situation. “She also did not handle what happened yesterday well at all. It doesn’t look like she got any sleep last night.”
“You can’t compare her to Hermione or frankly any other woman you’ve met who skirts the edge of our conclave. Thaddeus was an open, practicing parselmouth when he met Piper. In fact, they met because of it. Jacob’s wife is a Healer like him and sees his parselmagic as more gift than deterrent. Your circumstances are new and that’s going to require adjustment for you both.”
Draco nodded. “Right. Fine, I get it.”
“You’re allowed to be concerned, lad,” Banner said as he stripped off his robe to prepare for what would come next. “You love her and having a life outside the duty of the conclave is very important. You want her to be the center of that life.”
“I do,” Draco admitted. He shrugged off his own robe. “I’m thinking that three or four minutes from now I’m going to really wish I’d been dismissed with the girls.”
Harry laughed. “I did not dismiss, Hermione. I suggested she go somewhere pleasant to avoid throwing up.”
* * * *
Narcissa Malfoy was beautiful and so elegant that she made feel Hermione unprepared and graceless. She couldn’t imagine how difficult it was for Daphne. The older woman had joined them for tea in the garden. Piper Banner treated the former Lady Malfoy like an old friend, which said a lot about how Narcissa had spent her time in exile. Hermione had assumed that she’d been sequestered on Black Island the entire time.
Amaryllis joined them after a half hour and took over the entire conversation. She apparently had three million questions for Daphne and Narcissa had no intention of rescuing her potential daughter-in-law from her five-year-old daughter. Daphne took the situation in stride and did far better than Hermione might have done, especially when it came to the “girlfriend question”.
What she did notice was that Narcissa paid special attention to the answers Daphne gave and seemed genuinely interested in her. Hermione didn’t know how that played into the idea that Narcissa didn’t like Daphne.
“Amaryllis, Harry told me you collect dolls? Which is your favorite?” Hermione refreshed her tea as she hopefully steered the conversation away from Daphne and Draco’s relationship.
“Harry bought me a Geisha doll in Tokyo last year–she’s beautiful. Her parchment says that all her clothes are historically accurate,” Amaryllis explained as she took two more biscuits and put them on her plate. “I keep her in a special box so she stays perfect when I’m not playing with her.”
“I bet she’s beautiful,” Hermione said. “I had a doll from my grandmother that was very special to me but I lost her before I came to Hogwarts. She was my favorite because she had brown curly hair like me and her dress was blue.”
“Witch Weekly says your favorite color is blue,” Amaryllis said. “They said you’re really smart. I want to be smart like that. Does Harry like you because you’re smart or because you’re pretty? I bet he likes both. His last girlfriend was really smart and beautiful. Did you meet Janelle? She brought me candy when Harry introduced her to Mum.”
“No, I didn’t get to meet Janelle before she went to Salem,” Hermione said and shared a look with Daphne.
Narcissa was flushed and Piper’s eyes were lit with amusement.
“Janelle is getting her Mastery in Charms,” Amaryllis continued, oblivious to the undercurrent at the table. “What will you get your Mastery in? You’re going to get one, right? Harry thinks education is very important.”
“Yes, I’m considering Transfiguration for my first Mastery but I may pursue Charms as well. What are your tutors teaching you?”
“Oh, writing, reading, history, and maths,” the child said happily and started to reach for more biscuits.
“That’s quite enough,” Narcissa said and moved the plate. “You’ll ruin your dinner.”
Amaryllis frowned. “Mum, tea is boring. Can I go?”
“Yes, please,” Narcissa said with a laugh. “Stay out of the basement.”
“Harry put up the wards so I can’t watch,” Amaryllis complained before hopping down off her chair and darting down a garden path calling out, “Dai! Come out and play!”
“What are your career plans after Hogwarts, Daphne?” Narcissa asked.
Daphne flushed. “My father has made it clear I should focus on finding a husband actually.”
“My father was much the same and I regret allowing him to bully me into marriage before I was ready. I don’t regret my children, of course, but here I am widowed and dependent on my son for income. He’s generous and thoughtful—traits he hardly inherited from his own father but I do wish I’d taken the time when I was younger to educate myself so that I could make my own way in the world should I choose.”
“It’s not too late,” Daphne said. “If you wanted, that is. Draco said you wished you’d studied magical law after Hogwarts. You still could. You’re a very young woman, you know. Many women wait until their children are in Hogwarts before pursuing further educational opportunities. You have a support system in place to help take care of Amaryllis and the Malfoy Trust has the money to afford you whatever educational situations that might catch your interest.”
Narcissa started to shake her head but then sat back in her chair. “Honestly, I hadn’t considered it that way before. To be honest, I thought it would be many more years before I was able to return to society. Lucius was disgustingly healthy despite his service to the Dark Lord.”
“I offered to poison him for you,” Piper said. “Miranda offered to hire a Hit Wizard. We could’ve rid you of that problem years ago.”
Narcissa sighed. “You’re both dear friends.” She looked towards Hermione and Daphne. “Not that I condone murder.”
“Some wizards just need killing,” Daphne agreed solemnly and grinned when Narcissa burst out laughing.
* * * *
Dumbledore approached the podium and the conversations ground to a halt in the hall. “As many of you know, there was an altercation on the Quidditch pitch yesterday and Lord Potter was forced to kill a very large snake. Some of you who are more sensitive to wards might have also noticed a change in the warding of the school in the last two weeks. We strengthened the wards and allowed the goblins to add additional protections in an effort to prevent a dangerous creature from entering the grounds through the Forbidden Forest. It was only yesterday that we discovered that there is more than one such creature in the forest and that our situation as a result is much more… tenuous.
“Tonight Lord Potter’s conclave will conduct a ritual using the castle’s warding stone in order to tailor the protections of the school to ward off this threat. I’m discussing this with you for several reasons, the most important being that after curfew this evening the dorms will be sealed for several hours while the ritual takes place. This is for your protection and to protect the privacy of Lord Potter’s conclave. Rituals involving blood magic and warding are often very intimate in nature. Lord Potter will be opening his magic up to the ward stone and such an event must be met with seriousness and care. Any attempt on your part to leave your dorm after curfew will be met with severe discipline.”
* * * *
Hermione had tucked herself close to her mother during the meetings that took place before the ritual. Harry didn’t know if she was using her mother to ensure no one asked her to leave or to gain some comfort for herself in a situation when he was in no position to offer it. She did look worried and had since they’d returned to Hogwarts last night. In order to prepare for the ritual, he’d allowed Castius to put him in a deep, restorative sleep so he hadn’t had a chance to speak with Hermione about what happened when they’d been separated in Hogsmeade while the snake had been rendered. He wanted to believe that neither Piper nor Narcissa would’ve set out to upset her on purpose but clearly something had happened.
Harry refocused on goblin researcher who had been tasked with investigating the House of Gaunt and the House of Slytherin to insure that the bloodline was essentially extinct. They’d used the blood of the snake to confirm that it was Riddle’s offspring. The confirmation hadn’t been much of a comfort at all.
He shouldn’t have been surprised when the goblins had also confirmed that there were six more offspring to contend with. Seven eggs. Seven male magical vipers if the inheritance tests the goblins had done were to be believed. The family tree of the Gaunt line was corrupt and ugly without the addition of the snakes but they added a whole new layer of nasty and horrific to the mix. Merope Gaunt’s parents had been brother and sister. Her grandparents had been father and daughter. It was horrific. He’d never bothered to look actually, never wanted to know what fucked up situation Riddle had been begot from.
“Lad?” Sirius put his hand on Harry’s arm. “Are you all right?”
“Seven,” Harry said. “He made seven.”
“Ah,” Sirius said. “Perhaps he intended on transferring his anchors to them?”
“Or hiding the anchors inside them,” Harry said. “I don’t know that he was crazy enough to anchor his soul to a living creature but hiding the anchors he’d made in them would’ve been smart. Despite his genetic defaults and the corruption of his reproduction system—Riddle’s son was highly magical.” He took a deep breath and leaned forward. “Zeegzeel, you’re entirely positive that there are no other descendants from the Slytherin line?”
“The Slytherin line never allowed the birth of a non-pureblood child,” the goblin said. “As such it was easy to trace the linage in an unfortunate and nearly straight path at the end. Outside of Merope Gaunt, no one in the line had married outside the family in three hundred years.”
“Because that’s not disgusting,” Sirius said sarcastically and half the people in the room laughed.
* * * *
The ritual room in the school was secluded by so many wards that it took Dumbledore nearly an hour to push everyone through them individually. Harry had gone in first and Hermione had come in right behind so she could help him with his cleansing—a task she had claimed when it had been brought up. He hadn’t denied her but he did wonder why she had been so abrupt and insistent.
“Want to tell me what happened when you had tea with Piper and Narcissa?” Harry asked as he put on the ritual robe she was holding for him. He turned to face her and found her sporting a pouty little frown that he found more adorable than he’d ever admit. “I can’t think that either one of them would’ve insulted you on purpose or by accident. They know very well that you’ll one day be the Lady Potter.” He touched her cheek with careful fingers when she averted her gaze. “Hey.”
“It’s dumb,” Hermione muttered. “I feel like a ninny.”
“Just say it.”
“Amaryllis is very fond of Janelle and I’m pretty sure she thinks I’m a poor substitute.”
Harry laughed. “Oh, love, Amaryllis hated Janelle. She would barely stay in the same room with her.”
“Why?” Hermione asked.
“She…” Harry flushed. “Had a bit of a crush on me, you see, and one day about a year ago told me quite seriously she was going to marry me. I could’ve let her have her harmless little fantasy, I guess, but I didn’t want her to be one of those little girls.”
“Caught up in the idea of marrying the Boy-Who-Lived?” Hermione asked.
“No, Amaryllis never saw me that way and in fact only recently learned that people in Britain call me that. However, being the Lady Potter is something like being a princess to many witches and that was something she was aware of. So I told her that I… I had someone special waiting for me that I’d one day meet and hopefully marry. Well, shortly after I introduced her to Janelle, she asked me if Janelle was my special person and I said no. Amaryllis was quite put out that I’d waste my time on dating a girl who wasn’t the one so she refused to have anything to do with Janelle.”
“Oh. Well, she had quite a lot to say about how beautiful and smart Janelle was,” Hermione admitted. “Then she questioned my own career goals like I was a gold digger.”
“She’s five,” Harry reminded. “At most she was curious about you because of all the attention you get in Witch Weekly which Narcissa reads parts of to her occasionally. I don’t think it’s anything more than that but I’ll chat with her if you’re concerned.”
“No, I told you it was dumb.” She bit down on her lip and reached out to tie the strings that held the robe together.
He took up her left hand and brought it to his mouth. Harry kissed her palm. “You needn’t bother. I’m going to have to take it off in a few minutes anyway.”
Hermione huffed. “You’re doing this naked? All of the Prefects are witnessing this tonight as a reward from the Headmaster.”
“I know, he asked me first,” Harry said with a laugh. “Not ashamed of me, are you?”
“No, I’m stingy and I don’t want those little bitches looking at you naked,” Hermione snapped. “Ginny is out there, you know! She’s the fifth year prefect for Gryffindor.”
“I’m aware,” Harry said. “Your prudish little ways are adorable, sweetheart, but I agree with the Headmaster on this issue. It’s a unique learning opportunity and the ritual itself won’t be impacted by the audience.” He pulled her close and kissed her mouth. “Wanna do it with me? Come into my circle while I cast?”
She flushed. “Harry, we’d… I mean it would be… you’d share your magic with me in public?”
“Of course I would,” Harry said. “You’re my Lady. But this wouldn’t be a direct sharing like what you’re thinking.”
“What would I have to do?”
“You would act as my focal point in the ritual. So, you would stand in the center of the circle and my magic would flow around you as I engage the ward stone. It will be intense. I was going to use Castius as it’s a role he’s served for me in the past.” He tugged her t-shirt over her head. “Emmie.” The elf appeared beside them. “Get Hermione’s ritual robe—the one that matches the one I’m wearing tonight.”
Hermione touched the robe he was wearing—the shimmering Acromantula silk lay heavy and warm on his skin in Gryffindor red. “I don’t have one like this.”
“You have one to match each of mine except for the dark green I wear with the Glain Neidr,” Harry said. “Ask Emmie and she’ll bring them all to you for you and your mum to inspect.” Emmie appeared with the robe and Harry took it. “Thank you, did you get patrols set up to prevent anyone from getting past the wards on the doors?”
“Yeah, and I be letting Atlas guard the entrance to the ritual room passage way.”
Harry laughed. “Do make sure he gets home safe and sound immediately after we’re done here. I’d rather not have to write letters of apology to half the student body if he scares the crap out of a bunch of people.”
Emmie nodded and popped away with a little grin. Harry put the robe down on the narrow table next to the wall as she shed the rest of her clothes and stepped into the shallow stone basin that was part of the ritual facilities at the school.
“Do all ritual circles have this sort of thing?” Hermione asked as the cleansing mist swirled around her. “The Rowan Circle has cleansing cisterns like the Gryffindor Circle.”
“I’ve never been in a space that didn’t have some sort of system in place for formal rituals.” Harry watched the mists recede, leaving her skin glistening with magic but dry. He picked up the robe and opened it for her. She stepped from basin and slid into the robe with a little shiver. “Feel good?”
“Yes.” She turned in his hands and said nothing while he tied her robe together. “I won’t be naked?”
“No, not this time. In fact, I’ll be the only one naked. I’d like to cast a chastity charm on you. It’ll fade after about an hour.”
“To prevent me from…” She blushed. “I never apologized for what happened at the Rowan Circle. I hope you weren’t embarrassed…”
“No, not at all. It was unexpected and kind of amusing. If anything, I was flattered by your response. It wasn’t a sex ritual so there was nothing inappropriate about your reaction to my magic. You had no control over it and it should’ve crossed my mind that it might be an issue especially after the way you reacted to my magic when I placed the ward.” He leaned in and kissed her gently. She relaxed against him. “I just don’t want… well, I’d rather no one in the audience see you come, to be frank. It’s something I’d have to share with my conclave if we practice ritual sex magic but this is different.”
“Would you practice sex magic in the Rowan Circle with me?” Hermione questioned.
“If that was your wish, absolutely. Your mother’s circle was very accepting of my magic and I would feel comfortable performing in that ritual space.” His blackwood wand slid into his hand from his bracelet. “I’ll teach you to cast this on yourself later or you can ask your mother if you’d prefer.”
“It’s fine,” she offered him a soft smile. “I trust you.”
He cast first on her then on himself. “Truth be known, I hate them but they are very handy. It’s probably the best piece of magic my father personally taught me.”
She laughed. “Better than the lubrication charm?”
“I looked that up on my own long before he brought it up,” Harry admitted and flushed when she raised an eyebrow. “I matured faster than he anticipated on that front. I mean, I wasn’t… it was weird. I wasn’t interested in having sex with anyone but I started masturbating around eleven.”
Hermione’s went wide and she bit down on her lip. “That’s so naughty, Harry.”
He laughed. “You?”
“I…” She blushed. “I was thirteen or fourteen, I guess. I was taught that it was a sin, you know. My birth mother was pretty convinced I was a demon already and the last thing I wanted to do was get caught masturbating in their house.”
Harry leaned and pressed a kiss against her jaw then another over her lips. “Would you do it for me?”
“Masturbate?” Hermione asked.
He sucked on his bottom lip and nodded his gaze intent on her face.
“Yeah,” she whispered. “Would you want me to use a dildo?”
Harry sucked in a deep breath. “I take it back… that thing about you being a prude.” He kissed her again. “Let’s go make some magic, sweetheart.”
* * * *
His son’s magical life had changed and shaped itself in ways that Sirius couldn’t control. Letting go in that respect had taken more effort than he’d ever want Harry to know. He also knew that neither James nor Lily would’ve approved of the way Harry had embraced parselmagic. James had gone out of his way to ignore his own parsel abilities and Lily had never encouraged him to do otherwise.
Harry led Hermione McGonagall into the ritual circle, much to the shock of many seated around him. Sirius watched his son place his future daughter-in-law on the raised dais in the center of the room. The wardstone for the castle was under the dais and Sirius had thought that Castius would be placed there as he normally was in blood magic rituals. The High Warlock normally used a very trusted member of his conclave for a focal point when one was required. It was interesting choice but Sirius understood it more than anyone else in the room did. Her presence in the circle wouldn’t be detrimental to the magic that needed to be done and it allowed Harry to include her in way that would perhaps soothe some of the anxiety his son had over the divide the two of them had concerning their magical experiences.
Rowena and Godric flowed off Harry, lit with fire, and encircled the dais. Their elemental fire spread out from the center of the circle like water and the inner circle of the Glain Neidr knelt in that fire as Harry took his place. The audience was above the ritual space on a series of balconies that gave an excellent view of the ritual space and kept the ritual flames from spreading out of the circle. Harry shed his robe and Armand Dearing moved forward to take the garment.
* * * *
Hermione took a deep breath as Harry drew his staff and his blood runes surfaced on his skin—bleeding out over his skin in a rush of magic. He cut his eyes toward her just once. There was something so beguiling about him in that moment that she couldn’t help but smile at him. She squared her shoulders and gave him a firm nod. Harry’s magic surfaced in his skin and the blood runes lit with dark light as he lifted his staff. It spread out from him in dark blue waves. It flowed over her warm, strong, and she was relieved when the chastity charm held. She really hadn’t looked forward to the idea of becoming sexually aroused in front of the people in the audience. Mostly, she had to admit that it was Ginny and a few the other Prefects from other houses. Harry didn’t understand or perhaps didn’t care so much about the internal politics of Hogwarts. He had bigger, more worldly concerns. Additionally, many of their peers didn’t hold magic precious the way he did. It was just a tool or a novelty to them depending on their upbringing.
“May Magic bless our unified purpose,” Harry said and the magic shifted in the room, swirled around her and she felt it the very second that he focused on her with intent.
Instantly, and irrationally, she resented every single person who had ever acted as his focus for such rituals. She knew enough about blood rituals to know they were intimate and many times included sex. After they married, she would be his first choice for a focal point in such events but even then rituals without sex, she’d have no place in. His relationship with his conclave and especially the men of his inner circle were far more intimate than she’d previously thought. Moreover, she fully understood exactly what he’d meant so many weeks ago when he’d told her that he’d never want her to share her magic with another wizard. The very idea of another woman being in her place right now was infuriating—no matter the superficial nature of the magical sharing.
“I claim domain over the land of my ancestor and cast the House of Slytherin and all of his descendants from the Gryffindor Trust for now and all of eternity.” Banner stepped forward with the goblet of blood and passed it to Harry who walked through the elemental fire with no concerns. He pulled the Gryffindor athame from his bracelet as he knelt and placed the cup on the dais at Hermione’s feet.
He noted with some amusement that her toenails had gold glitter polish on them.
“The Ancient House of Gaunt, the last and direct descendants of the House of Slytherin, have acted in bad faith and against the common good of the Gryffindor Trust. They are now and forever more the enemy of the Earl of Gryffindor. Let the magic that shields and protects my ancestral seat offer the Ancient House of Gaunt no solace and no shelter.” He picked up the goblet as magic swirled out of the dais, around Hermione first then spreading out to touch him. “Know the blood and magic of our enemy.” The blood swirled out of the goblet and misted, much like it had when Harry had harvested it.
“This the will of the House of Potter.” He picked up the Gryffindor athame and cut his palm. Blood swept from his palm, misted but didn’t retreat into the dais, as it should. Harry paused and considered that. He took a deep breath and then another. His father was outside of the ritual space so the dais wasn’t waiting for his blood. Before he could say anything, Hermione knelt and offered her hand, palm up.
“This is the will of the House of Potter,” Hermione said.
He cut her hand gently and her blood swept up just as he had. It fell on them, sliding over his magic, which drenched them both and sank into the dais.
“So mote it be,” Harry said and stood.
He offered her his hand and she took it. Their blood slicked together and he shuddered. He let the athame slip into his bracelet and he called his staff. He healed them both with a rush of magic and took a step back from her as he released her hand. He felt the wards of the castle shudder and accept his decision. Harry returned to his place, held his staff in front of him with both hands. Turning in a full circle, Harry drew his magic in and the elemental fire from the snakes slowly faded into the stone floor of the ritual space. “The circle is open but unbroken and so shall it remain at the blessing of our beloved Lady Magic.”
Hermione raised an eyebrow briefly at the traditional and rarely used ritual closing but remained still as last of the fire faded. Rowena slithered across the space and onto the dais. At Harry’s nod, Hermione knelt and picked up the snake. He retrieved Godric personally as Rowena swept securely around Hermione’s neck. The inner circle of the Glain Neidr turned to her one by one at that point and bowed deeply before leaving the ritual space.
After they left the space, they separated more out of necessity than desire. Harry had further duties for the conclave and her mother was waiting in the hall. Hermione followed Minerva into the small room where her clothes were waiting and said nothing while she shed her robe. She pulled on a pair of knickers with calm hands, then her T-shirt.
“That wasn’t planned.”
“No,” Hermione agreed. “I think if he’d known the ritual would expect my blood he would’ve never offered to allow me to be his focus tonight.” She pulled on her jeans and focused on her mother. “Are you upset?”
“Not at all,” Minerva said and took a deep breath. “It says a great deal about how far gone your magical bond is with Potter that the ward stone considers you already to be a member of his magical House. Does it concern you?”
“No, I can’t… imagine how it would. He’s everything I could possibly want and then some. I never thought I’d have a wizard like him in my life—you know that. Part of me thinks Ginny is right—that I’m not worthy of the life he’s prepared to give me.”
“That’s nonsense,” Minerva snapped. “Magic has gifted you, Hermione. She gave you a soulmate and saw that you were brought together. It’s beautiful, really, the way you two have come together in the short time you’ve known each other.”
“I feel blessed,” Hermione murmured. “Blessed by Magic and I never expected to feel that way. I don’t think I understand it fully but I’m beginning to feel connected to the magic inside and the magic in the world in a way I’d never considered before.”
“Just let it happen at your own pace,” Minerva advised. She picked up the ritual robe and sighed. “Do you know how many he has had made for you?”
“No, I don’t know and I didn’t know about that one until tonight. At the Gryffindor Circle he asked Emmie to retrieve the one you provided me.”
“It was my duty and magical right to provide your first ritual robe,” Minerva said. “Harry would’ve never been so crass as to interfere in that circumstance but it’s also not a surprise that he’s provided for you in such a way.”
“He said I should ask Emmie to bring them to the castle so we can look at them. Should I just have her bring them to you?”
“Yes, that will be fine. I’ll weave in the protections of our own House as well but this robe is… uniquely shielded magically. He holds your magic more precious than his own, I would say.”
Hermione blushed. “He said once that it didn’t bother him that he wasn’t my first lover but he would’ve been… upset if he’d found I shared my magic with a wizard before him.”
“It can be intimate,” Minerva allowed. “I haven’t shared magic on such a level with a wizard since before my first marriage. I don’t know that I ever will again, to be honest.”
“But it’s so…”
“Beautiful?” Minerva inserted. “Yes, it is but there are some things that once you’ve shared them with one man that sharing it with another seems beyond the pale.”
Hermione leaned against the table and frowned. “Your first husband was a Muggle.”
“You shared magic with a wizard before him?”
Minerva blushed. “Yes, well.” She exhaled sharply. “I had a lover at Hogwarts and we were intimately magically as well as sexually. But he was…”
“What?” Hermione questioned and slipped a hand into her mother’s. She was shocked to find Minerva’s fingers chilled and trembling slightly. “Mum? Did this man hurt you?”
“Not on purpose,” Minerva allowed. “I was infatuated and he was as well but I was a half-blood and his father a blood purist. After Yule our seventh year, Jonah returned to school and told me his father had signed a betrothal with a pureblood family. I was furious and hurt. I’ve never spoken to him again. In fact, I retreated into the Muggle world and married my first husband whom I did grow to love very much because I couldn’t bear to see… I couldn’t stand watch him marry her and father children that I felt should’ve been mine.”
“I see,” Hermione whispered. “And now? Where is this man now?”
“The father of four very accomplished children and a widower,” Minerva said. “He fought for the Light during the war and worked at the Ministry when I was an Auror but I never had anything to do with him. He was married and I worried that one or both of us would be too tempted if we associated. The day before he married he sent me a letter, begging me to come to him. He was prepared to give up everything—his title, his family’s money—for me but I couldn’t allow that. I couldn’t let him turn his back on his Family magic.”
“I hope I could be that strong,” Hermione admitted. “Though truth be known, in your shoes I might have made him a widower shortly after he married.” Hermione blushed when Minerva turned to her shock. “The very idea of Harry marrying anyone but me… well. It would be a short marriage.”
Minerva bit down on her lip but burst out laughing anyway.
“Well, if he’s widowed and you’re widowed,” Hermione began with a raised eyebrow, “what’s preventing you from taking a ride or two, now?”
“Hermione Isobel McGonagall!”
Hermione grinned. “I kind of adore when you say my whole name like that. I hardly think I’ll ever consider it a reprimand.”
Minerva smiled at her. “I’m too old to go chasing after a man.”
“Hmmm,” Hermione said. “Maybe he’ll be at the Ministry Yule Ball. We should get you new dress.”
“I have plenty.”
“No, something new,” Hermione insisted. “Of course, you’d have to stop using Master Ito for sex if you decided to seduce this Jonah man.”
“I’m not sure I’m prepared to do that,” Minerva said thoughtfully. “The man is a fantastic shag.”
Hermione burst out laughing.
* * * *
Hermione dropped her brush into her kit and was nearly finished wrapping her hair when Ginny Weasley came into the girls’ showers. Fay was a few sinks down using her wand to shape her eyebrows. Hermione was a little leery of the spell so she’d been having Emmie do it for her since she’d met the elf. She didn’t feel at all guilty about it and Emmie seemed to enjoy helping her with little tasks like that. She tucked the wrap carefully and activated the conditioning charms. It was a once a month sort of thing but it had done wonders for her hair and in the frizzy issues she’d had as long as she could remember.
After nearly a minute of Ginny’s creepy silent glare, Hermione turned to her and sighed. “Can’t think of anything clever or cruel to say?”
“It should be me.”
“Why? Because you’re pureblood? Because you come from an Ancient family?” Hermione asked. “You don’t even know him, Ginny and in case he hasn’t been clear, he has no interest in getting to know you.”
“You don’t deserve him!” Ginny snapped. “How could you? You’re not pretty enough! You’re not… you’re boring! Your parents were Muggles! I don’t care that you were adopted, Hermione. You have no right to be the next Lady Potter. It’s disgusting and obscene! You can’t even control your own magic without help for the love of Merlin.”
Her fingers went to the Tear and she took a deep breath. She didn’t owe Ginny any explanations concerning the state of her magic. “It doesn’t matter what you think or want, Ginny. You’re never going to be in his life in any way. I get it, you know. He’s beautiful and magical in ways that you’ve never seen before. He’s an amazing wizard, really. Harry is brilliant, thoughtful, and his grasp of magic is so alluring that it takes my breath away. But you know what? Of the two of us, you’re the one that doesn’t deserve him. You’re weak mentally and you allowed your magic to be corrupted by Voldemort. You spent nearly an entire school year consorting with Harry’s mortal enemy.” She poked the girl in the chest and Ginny took a step back even as she paled. “You can’t think for a single minute that he’ll ever forget that, right? Even if you were a decent person… even if you were pleasant to be around and for the record you’re neither… he’d never forget that. You’re a vicious bitch with a bitter personality and your magical aura is tainted with dark arts. But even if you weren’t—you’d still be weak and dumb.” She poked her again and Ginny squeaked as she hit the wall.
“For the record, I’m not weak and I’m not dumb. I’m the brightest witch of the bleeding age, you twisted little girl. Moreover, my parents might have been Muggles but I was adopted into an Ancient and very powerful house. The Ross legacy is coveted in the magical world and you damn well know it. Harry thinks I’m beautiful and it doesn’t matter to me at all, if you don’t agree. He doesn’t care that I can’t play Quidditch or I can barely fly a stupid broom. None of that shallow crap matters to him at all.” She poked Ginny again and the girl flinched. “You watched him tonight and instead of respecting the privilege of seeing him practice the fullness of his craft, you spent the entire ritual coveting him. It is disrespectful and disgusting. How dare you, really? How dare you reduce him to a piece of property and come in here and lecture me about how I don’t deserve him?” She grabbed a fist full of the girl’s jumper and shook her a little. “Just who the fuck do you think you are?”
“Let me go,” Ginny exclaimed and tried to jerk free.
“No, I’m tired of your dragonshite. You’re worse than your brother and that’s saying something. I don’t know what you’re playing at or what you think can accomplish but let me be clear, Ginerva. If you ever in your life presume to come between me and Harry, I’ll kill you.” Hermione let her go then and watched the girl stumble away.
Fay cleared her throat. “Hmmm, Hermione, you’ve got scales all down the sides of your neck.”
Hermione’s gaze widened and she looked in the mirror. Gold scales were visible on both sides of her neck. She touched them and took a deep breath to steady herself. She tried to get them to retreat but they wouldn’t. She took a deep breath. “Emmie!”
The elf appeared immediately and her eyes went wide. “Miss Hermione.”
“I have a little problem. Would you get my mum?”
* * * *
Her mother was frowning. “I’d rather not force you back,” she admitted. “It can be very painful and I don’t want you to associate pain with my magic. It would make training you in ritual work very difficult. We should consult Harry. He’s had more experience with partial transformations than anyone I know. I’ve personally never done it.”
Hermione blushed. “Mum, this is embarrassing!”
Minerva laughed. “Yes, I imagine it is but we have no real choice unless you want to go to St. Mungo’s. I don’t think Poppy has the experience with animagus to help with this but I could wake her if you insist.” She turned to Emmie when Hermione sighed and shook her head. “Where is Lord Potter?”
“He’s in his dueling room with Master Banner and Master Ito.”
* * * *
Harry was wearing a pair of jeans, a black dragon hide belt around his trim waist, and a pair of boots. That was about it, really. He was using two short swords that he’d told her were dueling blades against a similarly dressed and armed Thaddeus Banner. They were moving around the room like dancers. The safety charms on the blades were activating and throwing off sparks each time one of them made skin contact. Without the charms, she figured they’d both be a bloody mess. As it was, they both looked sexy as hell.
Harry saw them after a few minutes and stopped the session with a raised hand. He flicked his blades into his bracelet and raised an eyebrow at her. “Having a bit of a problem, love?”
Hermione blushed and glared at him at the same time. “I can’t make them go away.”
“At the risk of sounding like an arsehole by pointing out the obvious, have you tried completing the transformation?”
Harry nodded and walked over to her. “I can’t say it’s a bad look on you at all actually.” He grinned when she huffed. “So, how did this happen? Get yourself into a bit of a temper?”
“How did you…”
“It’s normally the only time this sort of thing happens to me by accident. I’ve learned over the last few weeks to bring parts of my animagus form to the surface.”
“Like what?” Minerva asked curiously.
Harry inclined his head, took a few steps back from them both, and with a little shudder his dragon wings emerged from his back with a rush of magic. “Like this.” He flicked them back like he often did in his dragon form and grinned at her. “Pretty cool, huh?”
Minerva nodded. “Actually, yes.”
He put the wings away with a little flash of magic and focused on Hermione. “So your temper?”
Hermione flushed. “Ginny.”
“Right, you know I wouldn’t bed that witch with someone else’s polyjuiced body, right?”
Minerva snorted and waved them off with a laugh as Hermione looked toward her in concern.
“She just irritates me, that’s all,” Hermione said primly. “Tell me how to fix this, Harry James. I can’t walk around until it decides to go away by itself.”
“You need to mediate with your form more,” Harry said plainly. “But in the meantime,” he began and reached out for her. He cupped the back of her head and brought her close. “Did you know that coatl, when they do mate, they mate for life?” She shivered against him as he hissed against her jaw. “I am yours. I swear it. I will never know a day when you’re not the very center of my world and the foundation on which I practice my craft.” She relaxed by degrees, her breathing evened out, and her magic, which had been thrumming just under the surface, slowly receded.
He released her and stepped back just as the scales slipped under her skin.
Minerva’s gaze drifted between the two of them. “What did you do?”
“He spoke to my form,” Hermione said and exhaled as she focused on Harry. “You’ve never done that before.”
“You really haven’t let her out to play,” Harry reminded her. “It could also be why your spirit resisted your attempts to reverse the partial change. Being animagus is more than a party trick, Mi. It’s a magical responsibility.” He touched her face gently to take some of the sting out of the reprimand. “Of course, at our power levels it is also quite a burden. Perhaps we can work on this together?”
She regarded him shrewdly. “Are you placating me?”
“No, would you like me to?” He grinned at her and raised one eyebrow.
She laughed. “No, go back to playing with your little swords. I have a whole chapter on blood magic to read before sleep.”
“Use my quarters to meditate for a half hour and assume your form for a few minutes at the very least. Keeping her caged isn’t good for either of you.”
Hermione nodded. “Okay.”
* * * *
Harry pulled his T-shirt over his head as he entered his quarters. Hermione was curled up on the rug in front of the fireplace, her wings spread over her coils like a blanket. He joined her on the rug after a moment of admiration and settled on his stomach. Wresting his chin on his hands, he hummed a little under his breath.
“You’re so lovely, you know. I’m sorry that revealing your form is so dangerous right now. There are international laws in place, of course, to protect you and even the coatl themselves but those that would be a threat to you aren’t often deterred by laws. Have you considered a name?”
She inclined her head and flicked her lower body around and over his shoulder until the fanned feathers on her tail were spread out over his bare back. “You pick.”
“Aurélie.”Harry reached out and trailed gentle fingers along her scales. “It means golden.”
“Aurélie. Yes, that works.” She shifted again and settled into her coils. “It’s nice by the fire. This is the longest I’ve held my form since my first transformation.”
“You can stay as long as you like. Has this given you any insights in regards to the animagus spirit and our connection to Magic?”
“Many. I took some things too literally, before when you spoke of Pendragon. It didn’t help matters that you use your animagus spirit in the twin spell. I’d come to almost believe you were two separate beings but it’s more than that and it’s certainly not that simple.”
“No, but it’s hard to explain to someone who’s never done it. It doesn’t help matters that your transformation was so abrupt and frankly unearned.” He grinned when she flicked her tongue at him. “Many spend years doing what you did in a matter of months, you know. I don’t begrudge you the accomplishment, darling, but I do wish I’d had such an easy time of it.”
She pulled her lower body over his shoulder and swept her tail feathers over his should so she could flick them at him. “Bite me.”
He laughed and stood. “I should shower. Enjoy the fire.”
Harry retrieved his discarded his shirt and went into the bedroom. He stripped off in front of the basket Dobby kept for his dirty clothes, threw on a bathrobe and grabbed his kit. There were quite a few people in the showers, Colin Creevy among them. The fifth year prefect looked at him briefly and flushed brightly. Neville, who was at the sinks merely shrugged.
“You okay, kid?”
Colin bit down on his bottom lip and shrugged. “I don’t suppose I’ve ever seen anything like that. They don’t teach us anything about rituals here.”
Harry nodded. “It must have been a little unnerving then? You’ve never read anything about ritual magic or conclaves?”
“No, not really. I’ve my OWLs and I haven’t had time to really study anything outside of class.” Colin fidgeted with the small bag he had on the counter and pulled out a hairbrush. “I just… dude, why were you naked and what was up those drawings on your body?”
Harry laughed. “Ritual magic has its foundation in runic magic. The drawings on my skin were runes called forth by my magic when I began the ritual. As to why I was naked, one of the first steps in preparing yourself for ritual is to clear your mind and cleanse your physical body. There are private rooms around the ritual space in the castle that have cleansing facilities in them. Once that is accomplished, the wizard participating in the ritual puts on a special robe that is specifically designed for rituals. It has magical protections woven into the cloth but it also can interfere with some cleansing forms of magic which is why it must be removed for the casting part of some rituals.”
“Right.” Colin frowned. “But you were naked in front of a whole bunch of people.”
“I don’t have anything to be ashamed of kid,” Harry said as he entered the stall he always used. He latched the door. “Is that the only part that messed you up? Seeing my dick?” The unrestrained laughter from everyone else in the bathroom made Harry grin.
“Well, the blood… I mean, you cut Hermione. I guess I didn’t think you’d ever hurt her that way.”
“Blood rituals call for that sort of cutting,” Harry said as he activated the runes for water. “But I didn’t hurt her. The athame I used is spelled to not cause pain because you’re right I’d never wish to hurt her.”
“Right,” Colin said and sighed. “Right. I mean. Yeah, of course.”
“I can let you borrow a few books,” Neville said. “Leave the man to his shower, Colin.”
Harry grinned and was grateful when his friend cleared the other guys out of the bathroom at that point. Wondering if Hermione would still be in his quarters when he finished. He hadn’t asked her to stay because he figured it was better to leave that up her. It seemed the right call and he hoped she realized she was always welcome stay with him at night. He did figure she often chose to sleep in her own bed to set an example to other girls in the dorm. They were officially courting and he had private quarters, so it was within the school rules for her to stay with him whenever she wanted. He figured if she weren’t a prefect that she’d stay with him all the time.
He deactivated the runes, cast a drying charm on himself, and pulled on his bathrobe. The bathroom was blessedly empty so he lingered at the counter, took the time to shave manually, and dry his hair. He stared at the short mess with a frown and wondered if he could take a week during the Yule break to grow it out with a potion. The thought wasn’t pleasant at all because the potion didn’t just grow hair on the head. He wasn’t very fond of body hair to begin and spelled most of it off on a regular basis. It made cleansing for ritual magic much easier in the end.
Pulling a small vial from his kit, he poured a small amount of potion into his palm, rubbed his hands together, and conditioned his hair with it. He put the vial away with a little sigh and Star popped into place on the counter.
She laughed. “You pout like baby.”
“How are things?” Harry asked, deciding to ignore that she was right about his pouting.
“We’re good.” She pulled out the scroll. “I finished it.”
He took the scroll and nodded. “Every single one then?”
“Yes, as much as we can know. Goblins be helping with blood tests. If you be ready I have found six that be free to bond.” Star took a deep breath. “Then, we will be short three.”
“Just three?” Harry asked in wonder.
“Three more you be bonded to one elf in every elf family in Britain,” Star said. “We will all be connected to you through family lines.”
“That’s fantastic,” Harry said and took a deep breath to calm himself down. “And status on the three remaining family lines?”
“We be lucky,” Star admitted. “JoJo at Nott estate is old and ready to retire. She be given clothes any day. She be over hearing it while she work.”
“And she’s willing to bond with me?” Harry asked. “You haven’t been selling this too hard have you?”
“She be very willing,” Star stared at him, hard. “I be having delicate way about me.”
“Like a dragon,” Harry agreed and grinned when she glared at him. He waved the scroll. “This is awesome though. We’ve come so far so fast, Star.”
“Just like we planned,” Star agreed. “We be making those bad wizards pay.”
“Yes.” He reached out and tugged gently on one of her braids. “I promised you, didn’t I? I keep my promises.”
“You bring great honor to our House,” Star said. “I go now, your witch be waiting for you. All you two do is fun times.”
Harry flushed. “Star.”
She popped away with a laugh.
Harry flicked the scroll into his bracelet and closed up his kit. The trip down the narrow hall was a quick one so he soon entered his bedroom. Hermione was sprawled across his bed naked. She turned her head and offered him a sly smile.
“You took long enough,” Hermione complained. She turned on her side and ran her hand along her stomach. “Come to bed, my Lord.”
Harry exhaled and tossed his kit on the dresser near the door. “I really hope my intelligence isn’t something you value because you’re making me stupid.”
She grinned at him.
Harry shrugged off the robe and let it fall to the floor just before he reached the bed. He slid onto the cool cotton sheets beside her and pulled her into his arms with a low hum. “Did you enjoy the ritual?”
“It was lovely,” Hermione murmured. “You were amazing and powerful but you know that.”
Harry ran a hand over her hip as she curled into him. “I enjoyed having you in the space to focus on. It was intense.” He pressed his mouth to hers.
She ran her fingers through his hair as they kissed and moved as close as she could rubbing her breasts against his chest as she did so. “Did you want me to do that thing you asked for?”
“Not at this very moment,” Harry murmured. “I don’t think I have the patience to watch you pleasure yourself when I’d much rather be making love with you.”
“Yeah, that sounds perfect.” She rolled him onto his back and slid on top of him. “I wonder how many of those witches are tucked into their beds tonight fantasizing about being where I am right now.” She wrapped her hand around his cock and shifted so she rub her pussy along the length of his erection.
“It would be vain of me to guess,” Harry admitted as he rocked up against her. “This is… you look so good like this.” He sucked on his bottom lip as she slowly rocked against him. “Do you want to come like this? Rubbing your clit on my cock?”
“Is it enough to get you off?” Hermione asked softly.
He hummed under his breath. “Just watching you do this could make me come to be honest.” Harry ran his hands over her thighs and cupped her hips. He shuddered as the head of his cock slid between her hand and hot, wet flesh of her cunt. “I want inside you in the worst way.”
“I want it, too,” Hermione whispered as she started to rock faster. “I’d love to be full of your cock right now. You’d make it so good for me, I know that.”
“I would, I will,” Harry promised and clutched at her hips as he thrust up against her. “Faster, Mi, that’s… brilliant.” He shuddered and his stomach muscles clenched in his effort to keep from coming too soon.
“I love watching you come,” Hermione admitted breathlessly. “You get me so worked up—it’s delicious.”
“You’re so wet,” Harry murmured. “I could slide into you so easy right now—stretch out your tight little cunt with my cock.”
She shivered and arched her back with a low moan that turned into a hiss. A slim black, forked tongue flicked out between her rapidly paling lips as she came. Harry thrust up against her one final time and let go, coming all over her fingers.
He sat up and wrapped arms around her as she shook through her orgasm. “Easy, Mi.” He ran his hands over her bare, sweat dampened back and pressed kisses along her collarbone.
She wrapped her arms around his neck with a little sigh.
“I love you,” she whispered against his hair and closed her eyes when his hands tightened on her. “I’ve never loved anyone the way I’ll always love you.”