Title: Wizard’s Retribution
Author: Keira Marcos
Betas: Chris King & Ladyholder
Series: Harry Potter & the Soulmate Bond
Fandom: Harry Potter
Word Count: 9,972
Warnings: Off-screen child abuse, discussion of child abuse and violence against a child
Author’s Note: You know I hate Ron and Ginny Weasley, right? See Series page for further author notes, warnings, and ratings.
* * * *
Everyone in the room shifted nervously as he got seated. Sirius wasn’t surprised by their nervousness. Not a single person in the room knew why they’d been called together. It didn’t help that securing Harry’s agreement to remain at Hogwarts during the process had required that Sirius accept the Glain Neidr’s protection. A member of the conclave had been within an arm’s reach of him for the last three days. He could only thank Magic he was sleeping with one of them or he’d have probably had a stranger sleeping in his bedroom and in the shower next to him every morning since Harry had found out that someone in the Ministry had allowed Alecto Callow to be alone with Hermione McGonagall before her ICW testimony.
Hiro Ito entered at that point, Tobias Savage was… trussed up and floating in his wake. He deposited the man in the chair that had been left open at the table and the ropes that bound Savage whipped around the chair. Ito put the man’s wand down in front of Sirius and stepped back to stand with Castius.
Sirius noted that Savage was currently silenced so he looked at Ito.
The man frowned at him. “He whined like a child. As you know I’m intolerant of whining children.” He lifted the silencing charm with a wave of his hand and made a face when Savage huffed. “I will rip out your tongue if you speak without permission.” Savage frowned at him and wiggled in the ropes that bound him. “And no, I’m not removing the ropes. You acted like an animal—so I’ll treat you like one.”
Sirius cleared his throat and relaxed back in his chair. He tapped the table with one finger and everyone turned to focus on him. “I considered a number of ways to handle this mess. More than once, I’ve thought about tossing several of you alone in a room with my son. If he even knew half of what some of you are guilty of—it would be a blood bath.” He watched that information settle on them and he focused on Amelia Bones. “Who was responsible for guarding Hermione McGonagall before her testimony in front of the ICW?”
Amelia paused and frowned. “I… I don’t know, Minister.” She turned to Shacklebolt. “Kingsley?”
“I argued against isolating her in a cell as the security committee for the ICW wanted. I knew… frankly I figured I’d lose my job if I allowed the future Countess of Gryffindor to be thrown in a jail cell for doing nothing wrong. Not to mention, I’ve never been particularly interested in picking a fight with a dragon. I got them to agree that it would be extremely bad form since she wasn’t under arrest and couldn’t be placed under arrest as she’d committed no crime. They wanted her secluded, however, and separated entirely from Lord Potter. I’d won the cell argument but I could tell from the beginning I wasn’t going to win that argument. Even Dumbledore lost that one and he warned us all that if she came to harm in our care that there would be… literal hell to pay.” He cleared his throat. “So, I suggested a private office with no windows or floo. There was one door to the room and I ordered two Senior Aurors to guard it. Rufus Scrimgeour and Scott Williamson. When the ICW was ready for her, I had Frank Longbottom retrieve her from the room.”
Sirius focused on Frank. “When you went to retrieve Miss McGonagall did she seem out of sorts or disoriented?”
Frank frowned. “No, in fact if anything she seemed startled that I was retrieving her so quickly. She said she’d expected to wait an hour or more. She shrank the book she had with her, tucked it into a pocket, and coaxed that little dragon-snake of hers into her cloak. I think it argued with her but it went eventually. Why?”
“We’ll get to that,” Sirius assured. He focused on Scott Williamson. “You were ordered to stand guard with Rufus Scrimgeour at that door. Tell me why, not three minutes after she was put in that room, were seen in the lobby of the Ministry building?”
Williamson flushed. “I… Rufus and I decided to have some coffee. I went to retrieve it. There was a line but I was only gone about fifteen minutes total. But we put a stringent security ward using the privacy door seal already in place on the door, sir, so no one would be able to enter the room without our notice… what happened? Was she hurt? Sir, I swear to you that I would’ve never…” He looked at Scrimgeour. “What did you do, Rufus?”
Rufus frowned at him. “Nothing. The girl went in and she came out through the security ward. She was secure the entire time.” He turned to Sirius. “And if she says otherwise then she’s lying. I never put a hand on her.”
“You should be careful,” Sirius informed him. “Calling the mother of my future grandchildren a liar is the kind of thing that could see us both on a dueling platform.” He pulled out a thin case, opened it, and pulled out a herbal cigarillo. It lit in his hand in a rare display of his own magical power. He took a long drag on the thin black cigar and blew out smoke. “And no she’s not accused you of anything personally. Actually, she barely remembers seeing either one of you—she was quite upset that morning and being separated from both her mother and Harry only added to that upset. What you did do, Scrimgeour, is allow another person to enter that room.”
“I did not,” Rufus denied.
Sirius flicked a piece of parchment across the table to Amelia Bones. “Read that.”
She opened the scroll up and read it, the blood drained out of her face. “Rufus… you lousy son of a bitch. How dare you!”
Kingsley took it from her without permission and read it over quickly. “Alecto Carrow.” He glared at Rufus across the table. “You let a Death Eater in a room alone with Minerva McGonagall’s daughter? Do you have a bleeding death wish?”
“I don’t know…”
“Shut up!” Amelia snapped. “The security seals in this building have a reporting mechanism. Every single time one is launched—a report is generated in the Department of Mysteries—detailing where, when, how, and finally who is behind the seal. The magical signatures of every single person allowed in the room is recorded automatically, you ignorant git.”
“She was alone with her for ten minutes,” Shacklebolt said. He turned to Sirius. “What was done to her and can it be reversed?”
“Carrow was sent by Lissette Chang. It might interest you to know that she’s yet to bury her husband.” He paused when one more than one person shuddered. “She’s keeping him a stasis vault in a wizard owed bank in Bulgaria. He’s been there since the DMLE released the body to her. Alecto Carrow was here to see if they could force Hermione McGonagall to resurrect Xian Chang. After they failed to break through the parselmagic protections my future daughter-in-law has in place to protect her from mental intrusions—she was memory charmed and left essentially unharmed. Granted, she’s absolutely furious right now and I had to threaten to throw Minerva in jail to keep her from being here today. Her familiar was also stunned—as you all must know, the Ryūda are a protected species. Alecto Carrow could see herself thrown in a cell for life in Japan for casting offensive magic on one.” He turned to Frank. “The reason she was surprised that you were there to retrieve her so soon was that she assumed she’d only been in the room about five minutes.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t notice,” Frank said in a subdued tone. “I’d have… I’d have told you if I’d noticed anything off about her behavior.”
“Alecto Carrow is a very talented witch in that respect—she worked as a mind healer for the DOM before she was revealed to be a Death Eater,” Jonah McGregor said. “They eventually let her off because they couldn’t pin anything on her or her brother.” He rubbed a hand over his face. “What else? Because if this was it—we wouldn’t all be here.” He glanced towards Savage, whom he’d replaced as the Director of the Department of Mysteries. He’d refused to work under the code name and a hood much to shock of everyone.
Sirius stood, retrieved a large box from a side table and dumped the contents of it on the table. “This is everything in this building with my son’s name on it. Welfare reports, the no-longer secret warrants that gave the DMLE and the Unspeakables astonishing powers in the gathering of information about him, me, and our activities since he was five years old. Fudge hired private contractors fifteen different times to kidnap him—using Ministry funds.” He picked up a series of scrolls with red ribbons tied around them. “These are the plans drafted by the DOM to subjugate and control his magic.” He tossed them towards McGregor who gathered them with a frown.
He picked up a wood box and flicked it open to reveal a row of memory vials. “These are surveillance memories harvested from an Auror over the last five years—all of my son and some of them are frankly so personal that I went to skin the person alive who was doing the spying.” He turned and focused on Emmeline Vance. “Tell me, Auror Vance, did you enjoy watching my son have sex?”
She flushed bright red and tears sprung in her eyes. “I was doing my job, Minister. It was an assignment… I… Minister Fudge insisted that I…”
“Shut up,” Sirius snapped. “Not only did you manage to watch a ritual opening but you shared that memory with half a dozen people. You violated his privacy and hers. I’ve already reported the matter to the Delacour family. I had no choice—you foolish chit—that young woman is a Veela and their opening ceremonies are sacred to them. You broke international law and intruded on the matters of a private, familial coven. Unfortunately, you did it while in the employ of the British Ministry of Magic. I’ve already signed off on a private wergild—a hundred thousand galleons for the young woman in question. My son has declined financial compensation because he holds you personally responsible.”
Black paused when she paled dramatically. “Harry isn’t like many of his peers. He’s held himself aloof—rarely allowed even what I would consider intimate friendships before he came to Britain. He told me once that he didn’t want to risk falling in love before he met his soulmate. He wanted her to be his first and only love. I tell you this only because I want you to understand how violated he feels by your actions. Leading up to that opening ceremony—he met every single person who would be present at the ritual. It remains the only sex ritual he’s done in a coven or conclave. Your presence was invasive and terrible. Your sharing the memory of others is absolutely profane. My son was fifteen and a minor by the way when that ceremony took place. As far as I’m concerned sharing the memory with others was no different than the distribution of child porn.” He closed the wood box, picked it up, and turned to Castius who took it with a dark look in Vance’s direction.
“What…” Emmeline cleared her throat. “What…” She closed her eyes. “What does he want from me?”
“He wants you to submit to memory removal,” Sirius said bluntly. “He’s asked Master Ito to handle the procedure. You will lose the entire hour of the ritual, but will remember it happening. You’ll remember having the memory but not the memory itself. You’ll remember sharing it. You’ll remember why you no longer have it.”
“If I refuse?” Vance asked.
“First, you’ll be fired. Second, you’ll be in the unique position of having deeply offended the Patron of the dverger Horde—the first to be accepted in five hundred years.”
“But if I accept the procedure?”
“You’ll keep your job—Director Bones will handle your internal review and discipline. You acted outside the law, Auror Vance, and there will be official sanctions. Fudge went around Director Bones and the Wizengamot to give you your assignment because it was illegal and unethical. You were the fourth person he approached and the only one to say yes. I trust that Amelia will see you put in an ethics class before everything is said and done.”
“I was just curious about him,” Vance burst out. “I didn’t know I’d have to provide memories until it was too late. Minister Fudge didn’t give me a choice… Croaker… I gave them memories to avoid them being taken from me. I gave them everything so they wouldn’t rifle through my head.”
“You could have told me,” Bones snapped.
Vance glared at her. “The last Auror to complain to you about something Fudge did ended up dead.”
“Preston was killed in the line of duty,” Kingsley said.
“Sure she was,” Vance said, her tone dry and eyes hard. Her gaze flicked towards Rufus. “That’s what Scrimgeour reported, right?”
Bones drew her wand and threw an incarcerous spell at Scrimgeour without saying a word. Then she gagged him when he opened his mouth to complain. She put her wand on the table in front of her and focused on Sirius. “Continue, please, Lord Black.” She eyed the pile. “I have a feeling we’re going to be here a while.”
“This is a list of men and women in this building who have received bribes to overlook criminal activities—everything from tax fraud to outright murder. Auror Scrimgeour is at the top of that this list. Lissette Chang paid him ten thousand galleons to get access to Hermione McGonagall.” He tossed the list her way and she caught the rolled parchment easily. “Still a fine Chaser, Amelia.”
“You were better.” She unrolled it, spread it out in front of her and took a deep breath. “Right.”
Sirius put a parchment down in front of McGregor. “Lord McGregor, this is a list of people in your department still reporting to Lord Savage.” He put down another list. “This is a list of people who used to work for you but were fired by Savage for refusing to engage in criminal activities.”
* * * *
“My father thinks I’m at Hogwarts,” Harry said mildly as he leaned against the stone wall in the ritual room under the bank. “In fact, most everyone thinks I’m at Hogwarts.”
“Just get it over with,” Humphries snapped. “I know you’re going to throw me out of my own conclave. I don’t care what you say—this conclave was founded by my Uncle and it should be mine.”
“The original Glain Neidr protocol is six hundred years old,” Harry said mildly. “And it was founded by Ian Potter in a field in Wales within a ritual circle brimming with my family magic. That field later became the courtyard of Potter Keep. The protocol for the Glain Neidr was claimed by your Uncle in the 1960s due to his tertiary claim to the House of Potter. My grandfather presented him with the ancestral adder stone the Glain Neidr uses to this day.” He left his place on the wall and walked around the glowing adder stone in the center of the room. “Our foundation as magical practitioners is built on this stone—Wilhelm. It is deeply and intimately connected to the wild magic of our world. Your formal induction into the conclave gave you power and knowledge.”
“My uncle’s power…”
“No,” Harry said. “Even then it was me. Since I’ve joined the Glain Neidr, every single member of our brotherhood has had increase in power—sometimes by a factor of ten. Your uncle was no exception to that. Your uncle was also very lax in his selections. He allowed many to enter our conclave that I would have never approved of. You among them—you’re weak, Wilhelm. You lack discipline. You speak out of turn and hold nothing sacred, not even your own magic. Armand followed his example, unfortunately, and allowed his desire for increased magical power to overlook the very nature of the men he was recruiting into my ritual conclave. I do believe we are better served with powerful and knowledgeable members but I would have that power and knowledge tempered with a strong heart.”
“What does it matter if I want her? You can’t think there aren’t others in this very room who would take her given an opportunity! She’s a coatl, for fuck’s sake,” Wilhelm exclaimed.
“She’s a witch,” Harry corrected sharply. “An extremely powerful witch with the ability to assume the form of a coatl. But you are right about one thing—there are others who assume they have the ability to control my Lady. They believe she could be subjugated and used for their own purposes. They are fools. She is my soulmate.”
“So what!” Wilhelm snapped. “Soulmate bonds fail. They get broken. Surely you don’t think you’ll use that to keep one of the most coveted witches on this planet as far as our kind are concerned. You’re not strong enough to keep her, boy.”
“You don’t get it,” Harry said coolly. “She is my mirror—she’s just as smart as me, just as unforgiving, just as powerful and her temper is frankly the stuff of nightmares. Do you think you could control me? Think about that—remember what it was like when I went through my maturation? I nearly killed a good portion of the men in this room by accident. How’d you like the dungeon in Potter’s Keep, Humphries? It might interest you to know that it was my Lady who ordered you captured and put there.” The man gaped at Harry. “That’s right. She finds you extremely offensive. You’d still be there, actually, because she’s yet to tell the house elves she assigned to the duty to release you. I did that. I was tempted to leave you there until she said otherwise. I wonder how long that would’ve been? As for keeping her? That implies that I’m imposing my will on her—she’s with me because she wants to be. She stuck her hand through the Veil of Death and retrieved my magical soul, Humphries. Do you honestly think you could hold such a woman hostage? You don’t have half her power and she’s still maturing.”
The older man just glared at him.
Harry trailed his fingers along the glistening facets of the adder stone and magic shifted in the room. “I made an alliance with the Horde to protect the Countess of Gryffindor as her safety is and will remain the primary concern of the House of Potter as long as I draw a breath. I will not make magic with men whom I cannot trust at my back and with my Lady. Wilhelm Humphries, I cast you from the Glain Neidr. You are now and forever shall you be an enemy of the House of Potter. Thaddeus, do with him what you will but do not kill him outside of the bank. In the bank, we are not subject to British law, as you know.”
“I do know,” Thaddeus said. “I will find out all there is to know concerning his activities over the last few months and dispose of him properly, my Lord.” He stunned Humphries when the man tried to draw his wand. “Do you need me for what comes next?”
“No, your vassal oath covers this matter fully,” Harry said and gave the man a nod when Thaddeus inclined his head and flicked his wand towards Humphries prone form.
Harry said nothing while Banner removed the body of their former member and focused on Armand Dearing. “Let’s begin, shall we?”
“Your will be done, High Warlock.”
“If you would remain a part of the Glain Neidr, you will vow on your magic that you will never under any circumstances seek Hermione Isobel McGonagall of the House of Ross for any intimate or magical purpose without my explicit consent,” Harry said. He watched that information settle on the men in the room. “If you cannot make that vow then you will be dismissed from my conclave and you’ll be free to leave the bank. But know that I will not hesitate to defend my soulmate and to pursue her is a death sentence.”
Armand Dearing stepped forward, placed his wand hand on the adder stone. “I, Armand Louis Dearing, do solemnly swear on my life and magic that I will never under any circumstances seek Hermione Isobel McGonagall of the House of Ross for any intimate or magical purpose without the explicit consent of Harry James Potter, the Earl of Gryffindor. So mote it be.” The stone pulsed as the oath settled and the elderly wizard stepped back.
The rest of the inner circle followed suit. Harry watched the oaths settle one by one. Draco Malfoy stepped forward when there were only about fifteen left and put his hand on the stone. “I consider her a friend—even when she punched me in the face so how will that impact the oath you’re asking of me?”
“As long as you don’t cross the line from friend, there will be no impact on the vow. Your magic will warn you if you come close to violating my terms but honestly probably not before her betrothal ring knocks you on your arse.”
Draco grinned and nodded. He made the vow and stepped back to stand with Armand Dearing. The young wizard always gravitated towards Armand when Thaddeus wasn’t in the room and Harry figured that was because Armand had been Thaddeus’ mentor for nearly ten years. There were two remaining in the end, unmoving the entire time and Harry understood that they were refusing to make the vow. Both men, in their 30s, were known for their yearly trips to South America. One had been sanctioned twice by the government of Mexico in his zeal to capture a coatl.
“With apologies, Lord Potter, I cannot make the vow you ask of me,” the younger of the two men said. “As Wilhelm said, bonds break or they can become corrupted.”
“And you’d leave our conclave based on the hope that I would do such damage to a soulbond?” Harry asked, his tone subdued. “Really, Connolly?”
“Should you die and she survive—she would likely, after a period of mourning, seek another parselmouth,” the man explained. “Even you must admit that your widow would be quite a temptation even if she weren’t so unique magically.”
Harry pushed down a knot of fury and inclined his head. “David Connolly I cast you from the Glain Neidr. You are now and forever shall you be an enemy of the House of Potter.”
Connolly sputtered. “You… you son of a bitch!”
“Good luck getting my future widow to give you the time of the day with that stain on your magic,” Harry said and focused on the man that remained. “Quintin Deadmarsh.”
Deadmarsh quirked an eyebrow at him. “I’m trying to decide, lad, whether or not to be insulted by your demand.”
“I don’t care if you’re insulted,” Harry said. “Life is full of offensive shite and if you’ve reached your age without figuring that out all on your own then… I’m quite envious of your life of privilege.”
Deadmarsh snorted and glanced at Connolly who was seething. “I don’t want your woman because you’re right—she’s not a coatl. She’s a witch that can turn into one and we’ve yet to determine what that means for her magical circumstances. Moreover, she’s already demonstrated a level of emotional and magical attachment to you that makes seducing her unlikely. Your soulbond was so robust that she dragged you back from death. I hold no hope that she would survive your actual death.”
“Then why do you hesitate?” Harry asked.
“She can commune with the dead and my family has long been known for our practice of necromancy. In making this vow, it will be impossible for me to approach her or the Rowan Circle in the future for such rituals without your permission.”
“There is not a single circumstance where I would expect or want my witch to perform necromancy,” Harry said evenly. “Vow or not, Deadmarsh, if you ever approach Hermione McGonagall with such a request—I will cut off your fucking head. Are we clear?”
“You’ve always been biased against it and yet your soulmate is the most uniquely suited witch on this entire planet for the craft of necromancy. It would be amusing if it weren’t so bloody tragic. There is power to be had in such rituals.”
“Yes, Tom Riddle thought so, too,” Harry said. “It is a grey path, Deadmarsh. A grey path that leads straight into the darkest part of us all.”
“I’m not a Death Eater,” the man protested.
“No, but your father was,” Harry returned. “Your sister was. Riddle was especially fond of her as a matter of a fact. I have some rather horrific memories of the time he spent with her. He chose her to birth his Heir—you can imagine his disappointment when he discovered that he’d corrupted himself so much he was no longer fertile as a wizard. He blamed her, of course, so he wouldn’t lose face among his followers.”
“And murdered my sister,” Deadmarsh snapped. “I am not a Death Eater. I’m also not a dark wizard.”
“That’s debatable,” Harry said. “It greatly depends on who I compare you to, actually. Compared to Armand—you’re somewhere in the middle of that grey path. Compared to Draco—you’re as dark as any wizard who took Riddle’s Mark. Perspective is everything. At one time, I believed when I took my place as Chief Warlock of this conclave that I would dismiss you from my circle.”
“But you didn’t.”
Harry stared at him as he moved around the adder stone again, letting his fingers trail over the glowing facets. Magic stirred and arced in his wake. “You bring balance to our circle and the Glain Neidr would be poorer in your absence, Quin. So, are you to stay and be insulted or leave and be insulted?”
Deadmarsh stepped forward and placed his wand hand on the adder stone. He paused. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that while I have no personal interest in your witch—she’s got a fine arse.”
Harry huffed. “I’m going to punch you in your whole face.”
Quin smirked and shrugged. “I, Quintin Norman Deadmarsh, do solemnly swear on my life and magic that I will never under any circumstances seek Hermione Isobel McGonagall of the House of Ross for any intimate or magical purpose without the explicit consent of Harry James Potter, the Earl of Gryffindor. So mote it be.”
Harry focused on Connolly. “Do you remember the night I ripped apart Tom Riddle’s soul and cast the pieces through the Veil?”
Connolly paled. “Yes, Lord Potter, I do.”
“I did all of it for her. Come near my witch at your own peril.” He turned his back on the man. “Leave and do not ever return.” The men around him said nothing as Connolly left the chamber in shocked silence. “I told Armand two nights ago that I’m not a Light wizard and never will be again. Part of me regrets that but I don’t let that regret rule me. I don’t let that regret shape my magical purpose. I won’t let it shape our magical purpose. If my aversion to necromancy is a problem, tell me now.”
“Your aversion to death magic was well-known to us before we accepted you as our Chief Warlock,” Armand said. “It was discussed at length by those who come from families who traditionally explore such magics and it was agreed that as a conclave we were better served in accepting you and your bias. Moreover, Lord Potter, we cannot overlook the vow you took before the Horde. Necromancy is grey but it can go dark in the blink of an eye. It is not a risk we can take with your magic.”
Harry relaxed and the adder stone thrummed gently, green magic flowed out of it as he circled it continuously. “Draco this is your first time in the presence of our founding stone. Do you have any questions or concerns?”
“Concerns, no.” Draco stared at the adder stone. “Will we move it to the Gryffindor Circle?”
“No, this adder stone is sunk deep into the ground—what you see is but the tip of it. It taps into a ley line that spreads out over the world over and I can reach it no matter where I am on Earth because of that fact. Its magic allows me to draw our conclave together in times of need. Magic is everywhere and the Glain Neidr protocols connect us to this stone and to each other in a very ancient way. We have another stone being harvested for the Gryffindor Circle. It will be planted in the center of our circle after it is fully cleansed. The two stones will reach out for each other once properly seated and mate. This mating of magic will strengthen our conclave and create a deeper, more meaningful connection with our Lady Magic.” The door opened and Thaddeus entered. He pulled the door shut behind him and gave Harry a small nod.
“You’ve been coming to Britain since you were a little kid,” Draco said. “At least since you joined the Glain Neidr.”
Harry grinned at him. “You think you’re in Britain, right now, Malfoy?”
Draco started to speak then took a deep breath. “I thought we were in London under Gringotts. Where… where are we?”
Harry stopped moving and magic gathered in his hand and he threw it high into the air. The dark space above them lit and the door disappeared—the walls faded. The magic swept around them and the shadows that had shrouded the space fled completely revealing a large intricately carved stone ritual circle under their feet and a star littered sky above them. A dverger city spread out around them with a swoosh of magic and Draco’s mouth dropped open.
“Lord Malfoy, welcome to Agharti.”
Draco took a deep breath. “There is a door in the London branch of Gringotts that leads to the dverger realm?”
Harry grinned. “Oh, Draco, there is such a door in every branch of the bank. They are all connected through ancient dverger magic that is beyond us all. Lady Magic protects Agharti and shelters those who are true in their craft. This is the true power of the Glain Neidr.”
“What about… the men who have been dismissed? It’s dangerous for them to know how to get here. They could corrupt the protocols or the stone itself.”
“Upon their dismissal from service the secret of this place was taken from them,” Thaddeus said. “As Lord Potter said, Lady Magic herself protects Agharti. We were not given access to this realm until the Earl of Gryffindor became our High Warlock and only he can dismiss the magic that shrouds the space to reveal the true nature of our ritual circle within the bank.”
Draco moved around the circle and paused at the edge of the stone. “Can we leave the space?”
“I can leave the space but no one else in the conclave can. You won’t be hurt if you attempt it—you’ll just be pushed back. Agharti is where the dverger make their homes—shelter their wives and children. I cannot ask them to open their realm to our entire conclave under such circumstances. It’s not a matter of trust in your character but in your education.”
Draco frowned. “I don’t understand.”
“Any single one of us could deeply offend the Horde without even trying,” Armand said. “Their social protocols are intricate, entirely unknown to most of us, and that ignorance would not be an excuse as far as Ragnok is concerned. Lord Potter has had a special relationship with the Horde since he was five years old. They indulge him and as a whole, adore him. His magic runs through Agharti from this adder stone and has since he joined our conclave. It was only after he joined us that the dverger created this ritual space for us and allowed us to permanently place the stone. Every act of ritual magic he participates eventually filters into the magic of the dverger realm and the Horde itself.”
Draco huffed. “I don’t even know what to do with that information.”
Armand laughed. “You’d not be alone in that, Lord Malfoy.”
Draco trailed his foot along the edge of the stone circle. “It’s so tempting and so strange.” His gaze traveled over the dverger city that spread out around them. “Do they have just the one city?”
“One city and many villages—there are several million dverger,” Harry explained.
“Why? Why are you so connected to them?”
“I used their magic to defeat Tom Riddle. It was the power he knew not—the power of beings he considered lowly creatures—below his notice and thus unworthy of magic. Most magicals have no real clue to the depth of power held within the dverger Horde and that is as it should be. There are those in our realm who would… covet the power and the relationship that the Horde enjoys with our Lady Magic. To covet a thing is to eventually destroy a thing.” Harry tilted his head. “But you understand that very well, Draco.”
“Yes,” Draco agreed. “It was my father’s way. He coveted power, wealth and even fear. His desire for both political and magical power was gluttonous. I don’t know if that was because of his father or because of Riddle. Perhaps both. My mother… my mother said he killed four of my siblings in the womb because he refused to share his family magic with more than one child. There were two other pregnancies before me—females. He killed them, too. He disowned three uncles and sixteen cousins. Had I known the depths of his depravity, I’d have killed him before I ever started Hogwarts. I dreamt of doing it often even before she left and more so afterward. After my third year, when he spent most of that summer drowning in a bottle of firewhiskey I came close—half a dozen times. I… pushed him down the stairs once but he survived it. He thought he fell because he was drunk. The most difficult thing to accept is that I have no regrets for the attempt.”
“He was a bastard,” Thaddeus said. “He desecrated his marriage, abused his wife, and murdered his children. He does not deserve your regret.”
Star appeared in a little pop of magic. “Lord Potter, your father has finished his meetings. You wanted to be back at Hogwarts before he calls you on his mirror. He should return home within the half hour.”
“Yes,” Harry agreed. “Thank you. If you’ll wait in Razel’s office?” The elf popped away and Harry drew a bundle of red silk from his bracelet. “The Lady Potter has gifted us with something very special.” He placed the bundle on the adder stone and it shifted to accommodate him. It rose to table height and flattened out. He opened the silk, folding it out gently and revealed a pile of shimmering gold scales.
“Yes, the most interesting part is that once shed from her animagus form they lost all connection with her core and magical signature. I’ve tested them thoroughly—these scales are no different than a natural coatl’s scales. Highly magical, of course, but in no way part of her. A true magical focus.” He drew his black wand to display it. “I’ve already pulled several scales into my wand. The ones remaining are for the rest of you. Thaddeus, you’ll show Draco how to draw them into his wand? There should be enough for at least three each.”
“This is why you asked for that vow tonight,” Armand said. “I’d assumed you’d wait longer before demanding it.”
Harry inclined his head in agreement without speaking and stepped back. “I have to go. Armand, you’ll close the space for us?”
“Of course, lad.” Armand said but his gaze was already focusing on the glittering pile of gold scales. “Do thank your witch… I’ve not had a chance to add something so fine to my wand in many, many years.” He lifted his head. “Do we need to save some for Arnou?”
“No, I’ve given him his already.” He focused on Deadmarsh. “You’ll inform the rest of your family on my stance concerning my future wife?”
“I have no interest in burying them so yes, I’ll let them know,” Quin said with a wry grin. “Have a good evening, Lord Potter.”
Harry frowned at him but his heart wasn’t in it. Despite the man’s ambition and his dalliances with necromancy—he trusted Quintin Deadmarsh. He waved a hand and magic rushed around them until they were once more enclosed in a stone chamber. He left them without a word, unbuttoning the collar of his ritual robe as he did. Ragnok fell into step beside him.
“The Madfury clan has challenged my family several times over the past few hundred years. The Horde’s relationship with you has them stirred up again. They lost half their number of abled bodied males in the attack which is a sound punishment as far as I’m concerned. I offered the widowed females sanctuary in my own clan and twenty accepted—bringing with them their children. In the years to come, they will mate and those children will be ritually adopted. It will be many, many generations before the Madfurys regain what they lost.
“Moreover, those that remain also know that you’re extremely displeased with them for the hurt caused to your witch. Had they known she was to be a part of the ceremony, they might not have planned what they did but they were too far into it to back out once she appeared. Do know that they were all given explicit instructions by their clan leader that she was to come to no harm. Had she not sheltered me as she did—she’d have not been hurt at all by anyone in that clan.”
Harry nodded. “Are there others that resent my closeness with your clan? How do we fix that?”
“You… knelt and accepted Patronage even after the attack, Harry. I know you consider it a boon to you but we’ve not had a wizarding patron in many hundreds of years. The Horde is grateful by your attention, your gift of magic, and your advocacy. The Madfury clan rebelled because they wanted to be closer to you—to be fully embraced by your magic.”
“I don’t understand that at all actually.”
“The night before the ceremony—you performed an act of magic so emotionally rich and powerful that all of Agharti was enveloped in a river of pure wild magic. I haven’t asked what you did as it appeared to be a very personal ritual.”
Harry flushed. “Merlin.”
Ragnok laughed. “What?”
“I…” He huffed as they entered Razel’s office. He shed the robe and walked to the pile of clothes he’d left in his account manager’s office. He pulled on his jeans and sat down before he refocused on the Chieftain. “I made love with my witch in a ritual circle during a simple magical communion.” He paused. “On a bed of elemental fire.”
Razel snorted. “Only you.”
Harry sighed as he pulled on his socks. “I don’t look forward to the day when I reveal to her the depth of my connection with the Horde. It didn’t feel like sex magic, right?”
“No, not at all,” Ragnok assured as Harry shoved his feet into boots and buckled them. “It felt… sweet, affectionate but even that was nearly over shadowed by how powerful the magical act was.”
“We nearly broke the wards on my ritual space at the house in Hogsmeade,” Harry admitted. “I’d like to have them fortified.” He flushed when both dverger grinned at him. “She enjoyed it so I can expect it won’t be an isolated event. I did promise my Dad I’d have a more robust set of wards placed before I invited her into my ritual space again.”
“I’ll take care of it,” Razel said with a laugh. “And it’s not a bad way to expose her to your ritual craft.”
“You may bring her to Agharti when the time is right. My grandchildren have bragged far and wide about meeting the Countess of Gryffindor,” Ragnok told him.
* * * *
He wasn’t at all surprised when Dumbledore appeared in the main entrance as he closed the double doors. “Sir.”
“Lord Malfoy hasn’t returned with you?” Albus questioned as he walked with Harry towards the stairs.
“I believe he has permission to spend the weekend with Master Banner,” Harry said as he took off his cloak.
“Ah, yes, he does. I’d forgotten.” The stairs shifted and provided them a direct path to Gryffindor.
“The perks of walking with the Headmaster,” Harry said dryly and laughed when Dumbledore grinned. “I’ve made life quite hectic around here, I’m afraid.”
“All to the good,” Dumbledore said. “The children are so isolated here that many of them forget there is a very dangerous world waiting on them to grow up. I deeply regret that you were not here from the start but I do not blame your father for his stance on the matter. I know, even now, you wouldn’t be here if he had a single thing to say about it.”
“Protecting me has been his primary concern for many years,” Harry admitted. “I chaffed under his militant protection when I was younger and now, honestly, I maneuver around him to do what I want. It keeps things peaceful between us. He would’ve never wanted me to accept the role of patron of the dverger horde and if we’d had a single choice in it when I was younger—he would’ve certainly chosen a different path.”
“The path I’d placed you on…” Dumbledore frowned. “It didn’t serve you, Harry, and for that I’m a deeply regretful. I was blind to the true nature of your magic and your fate—so blind it nearly caused you to be killed by that horrible man. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t remember what I saw that day—when the wards failed on Privet Drive. I had the closets in my house and my quarters replaced with standing wardrobes because every single time I opened a cupboard… I saw you lying on the floor, dying. I was so mentally and magically compromised in those years afterward that could barely hold a wand. The summer you turned six—I spied on you a bit.”
Harry turned to look at him in shock. “What?”
Albus laughed sadly. “I was… so worried about you, Harry and at that point your father hadn’t let a single picture of you to be published. Sirius allowed me to watch you playing in the garden at your Paris townhouse for two hours before he came out and told me I should go. After that, he sent me a letter once a year with a picture in it. He told me about what you were learning and how you were growing. I’d hoped that he would trust me with your welfare when you turned eleven but his letters made it clear he did not. Though he was right—you wouldn’t have been safe in Britain. Then the night you cast Riddle from this world… it was amazing, Harry. I’ve never seen anything like that and assume I never will again.”
“I felt so incredibly… guilty after that ritual.”
“You were righteous.”
“Everyone said so,” Harry agreed. “But I can’t ever overlook the fact that I sacrificed his magical soul. It was what had to be done… because of the vicious and dark path he took in life. But to end the magical existence of another magical being is the darkest thing I can think of.”
“He broke his soul in a bid to live forever,” Albus said. “There was no redemption possible and eventually his corruption would’ve tainted our Lady Magic and all those that are faithful to her. There are times,” the elderly wizard began as they came to a stop in front of the Fat Lady, “when an honorable wizard must make difficult and life altering decisions.”
“Like when you let Grindelwald live?” Harry questioned.
“Yes,” Albus agreed. “Perhaps it would’ve been easier on us both if I’d killed him but…”
“You seek to redeem him or at the very least save his soul,” Harry said. “I understand that far better than most.” He inclined his head. “He’s your soulmate, right?”
Albus closed his eyes briefly but nodded. “Our bond was broken… by the grief and anger I had at the death of my sister. I let myself hate him and our bond was destroyed. By the time I regained my senses, he was too far gone to be reasoned with and I had no choice but to stand against him—who else could’ve?” Dumbledore cleared his throat. “He was always… intolerant of Muggles and frankly I was no better because of the hurt that had been done to my sister and the rest of my family. I don’t know that he would’ve taken the path he had if I hadn’t let my temper and hate rule me. There is no agony quite like what I put on him by rejecting him and our bond.”
“His actions are not your fault but you know that,” Harry said and would’ve said more but the door opened and Hermione frowned at them both. “Hi.”
“Did you complete your Charms essay?”
He laughed. “Not yet, Professor Flitwick said I could have an extension since I was mostly dead when he assigned it.”
Her mouth dropped open. “That is… I adore that movie but you’re terrible.” She held out her hand and tugged him into the dorm when he took it before looking at the Headmaster. “You shouldn’t encourage him to gallivant around the castle after curfew.”
Albus grinned at her. “It’s times like this that make me glad you can’t take points from me.”
Her gaze narrowed. “I can steal your lemon drops.”
“There is no need to threaten me, young lady! You’re worse than Minerva.”
Harry laughed as Dumbledore stormed off in a huff. “You should be ashamed, picking on an old man. He’s probably gone off to ward his supply.” He let the portrait door shut and Hermione tugged him towards the table where she was working. “What are you doing anyways?”
“Well, I was abandoned cruelly on a Friday night so I decided to do homework.”
“Sorry,” Harry said with a grin. “Draco is settling into the conclave as well as can be expected but I do have a duty to him that I’ve been lax on. He has a mentor but I’m his High Warlock and that is a profound magical responsibility.”
“I was reading in Ritual Magic by Edmond Cully that the Glain Neidr has an ancient adder stone. He claimed it was pure speculation as the original protocols for your conclave were abandoned five hundred years ago.”
Harry drew his Blackwood wand and cast a privacy charm around her area as he got settled in the chair across from her. He pulled his Charms text, planner, and half-finished essay out of his bracelet then flicked a quill out last. “If you’re going to read about parselmagic and parselmagic conclaves I’d prefer you stay far from Cully’s work. He’s not reliable and corrupted his own parselmagic before I was born. I’ll have some books pulled from my personal library for you. You’ll get a better picture of how I view parselmagic and my place in the Glain Neidr reading the books I was given to learn with. As to his assumptions, he’s wrong and right.
“We do have an ancient adder stone. It’s older than Hogwarts and despite changing hands many times it remains pure and untainted by dark magic. That is extremely rare for an adder stone that old. I’m having one harvested for the Gryffindor Circle. The dverger have already spent three weeks trying to work it out of the ground where it was discovered. They have to be careful so they don’t damage the stone’s connection with wild magic. The Glain Neidr protocols lay dormant for hundreds of years until they were claimed and awakened in the 1960s. My grandfather gave Philippe Bardon the adder stone from the Gryffindor vault and permission to wake the Glain Neidr protocols on the provision that he’d never deny a wizard of the Gryffindor line a place in the conclave.”
“I’d like to read the books you read when you prepared to join them.” She bit down on her lip. “Was it super scary? I mean… you were very young.”
“I can’t say it wasn’t,” Harry admitted. “My Dad couldn’t do it with me and at the time I knew very little about the men in the conclave. I was very ill and my Dad was worried sick all the time. I did it for him despite how afraid I was.” He focused on his planner, picking at a string that had come loose in the corner of the binding. He pulled it too far and the journal self-repaired with a little flash of magic. “Sometimes, I’d wake up at night and he’d be asleep in a chair beside my bed. I don’t think he stopped doing that completely until I was eight. Even now, if we’re in the same house–he checks on me at night.”
“In the six months after I was returned to him I stopped breathing while I was asleep twice. Once at St. Joan’s and again about three weeks after he brought me home. I was very sick. He moved a Healer into our house. There were three before we met Castius through the dverger. The others couldn’t handle the stress of my condition and my Dad’s militant micromanagement of my care.” Harry grinned. “The first time he tried to tell Castius what to do, he found himself silenced and tied to a chair. Castius informed him that he’d been a Healer for several hundred years and didn’t need any sort of advice from him.”
Hermione laughed. “I can’t blame your father for being so worried though. I’d have probably been just as crazy in those circumstances.” She frowned. “Remind me to sleep in clothes the next time I’m at your house.”
“I don’t think he’d check on me while you’re with me but he does have a few health monitoring charms on me that I’ll probably have to carry as long as he lives. I’ve never minded his… little quirks on this issue. When his Dementor dreams came back after the incident at the cottage, I’d sneak into his room and cast charms on his pillows every single night that Castius wasn’t with him.” He started to more but his ward shifted. He turned to find Dobby standing outside the ward with a bundle in his arms.
Harry ended the privacy charm with a grin. “Hey.”
Dobby huffed and shoved his child at Harry. “You take her, Master Harry. Winky and I need grown up time.” He popped away without another word. A little bag dropped onto the table between them a few seconds later.
Harry looked down at Sunshine who was staring at him with sparkling blue eyes as she sucked industriously on a pacifier. “Maybe we should’ve named you Trouble.” She kicked her feet and made a happy sound around the pacifier. “We should go to my quarters. I don’t like her being out here so exposed.”
“Okay,” Hermione agreed and gathered up her stuff as Harry flicked his all back into his bracelet with his free hand. “Can I ask why he brought her to you?”
Harry picked up the bag and shouldered it as he followed her to his door. Niall offered them a little smirk and Harry just pointed his finger at his ancestor. “Not a single joke about playing house. I mean it.”
“Oh, lad,” Niall said with a sigh. “You just suck the fun right out of my afterlife.”
Harry just glared and the door swung open. He hummed a little to Sunshine as they walked into his office. He wasn’t at all surprised to find a tiny bassinet sitting on his desk. He walked over to it and put her down. It started to rock gently. “She’s bonded to me through wild magic as you know. At this age if she can’t have her parents she’s going to automatically prefer me. Since they’re staying in the house at Hogsmeade, she’s close enough to feel me. House elf babies are just as prone to accidental magic as any other child of magic. It’s best if she doesn’t have to search for companionship. She might pop herself to me which at her age would be dangerous.”
“Because she might not reach you,” Hermione said flatly. “And end up in some murderer’s hands instead.”
She huffed. “Don’t forget, I really do want that sword for Christmas.” She put her books down on the desk and it automatically shifted to give her a workspace. Harry retrieved a chair and brought it to her. “Thanks.”
“I have a confession,” Harry admitted as he got settled into his own chair.
“Okay.” She stared at him obviously a little amused. “Lay it on me.”
“I’ve had to confess to the ritual sex thing to most of my inner circle and Ragnok… and Razel.”
She laughed. “I had to confess to my Mum. We woke her up from a dead sleep due to the charms she had on me at the time. She’s replaced a few but not all since she’d rather not know how often we have sex.” Hermione sat back in her chair and pulled one of her books from the stack. “She told me early on that we shouldn’t rely on sex to build our bond. I mean that’s not exactly what she said but that’s what she meant.”
“I don’t disagree with her but I also don’t think we have built our bond on sex. What do you think?”
“I don’t need sex of any sort to feel close to you but at the same time I enjoy how intimate we are. It’s emotionally and physically very satisfying.”
“Good, then I think we’re on the same page.” He paused. “But, if you come to think otherwise I want to know. While I could read your mind, it’s not something I would ever do without your permission so if I’m fucking up–you’re going to have to tell me.”
“You’d tell me, right?”
“Oh, I can’t keep stuff like that to myself at all,” Harry admitted. “Despite nearly a decade of training on the subject—my emotions are written all over my face nearly ninety percent of the time.”
“What are you going to do about the Weasley family?” Hermione questioned.
“The Wizengamot is going to put Percy Weasley in jail,” Harry explained. “He’s guilty of murder, conspiracy, various extremely dark acts that are international crimes against magic, and he’s driven his sister basically insane. She never really stood a chance after the incident with the diary her first year. It corrupted her, destroyed more than half her magic, and left her mentally weak. Percy preyed on her and her obsession with me then incited her to murder you. She’ll never leave St. Mungo’s to be honest. They’ve bound her magic and she’ll be held there until she dies. Molly may or may not recover. Their Her other sons are in a state of shock.” He paused and sighed. “My mother asked two things of me when I was with her.”
“What were they?” Hermione asked.
“She asked me to save what I could of the Weasley family and suggested a method by which I could do it. And she asked me to heal her sister.”
Hermione sat up abruptly in her chair. “She asked you to heal Petunia Dursley?”
“Yes.” Harry looked away from her because the fury on her face rather difficult to look at. “I wasn’t the only one in that house that Vernon Dursley was beating, Hermione. He blamed my aunt for… me being there. I can’t say she suffered as much as I did but not all of the injuries she suffered that day were the result of Emmie’s attack. I haven’t told my dad or Dumbledore. I’m going to… heal her and send her out of the country so she can start over.”
“Your mother told you this?”
“She didn’t spare me the details,” Harry admitted. “She didn’t ask me to forgive my aunt but she did say that she thought both Petunia and Dumbledore had tortured each other enough for what was done to me and that I had the power to end that cycle.”
“I’ll help you,” Hermione said.
He looked at her then and smiled at the resolve that had replaced the anger on her face. “I’m not sure I can forgive her but I will do what my mother asked of me. I can’t say that my Dad is going to understand. Dumbledore will probably be quite irritated as well but I want to be the kind of man my mother can take pride in.”
“Oh, Harry,” Hermione said. “Your mother is so proud of you and even if your Dad doesn’t approve, I know he won’t be disappointed in you. He raised you to be a good person so he can’t hold your good acts against you.”
“Right, well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. I’m going to do it over Yule break. I have to figure out which members of my conclave can be trusted with the duty. Nearly all of my inner circle has seen the memories of what happened to me in the Dursley home. Often they are just as unreasonable about that situation as my Dad.”
“Did you give them the scales?”
She nodded. “Good… they helped me, shouldered a very large magical burden the night of the ritual so I wanted to give my thanks in a meaningful way.”
“Armand was so excited I thought he was going to bounce around like a kid. He sends his thanks. I had… I had to dismiss two wizards from my conclave.”
“Wilhelm was expected. The other?” Hermione questioned.
“A man named David Connolly. His interest in you is just as… ardent as Wilhelm’s but he’s pinning his hopes on a seduction or a corruption of our bond.”
She made a face and huffed. “I’ll need sword fighting lessons, too.”