A/N: I don’t own Harry Potter and wouldn’t particularly care to. I would like a rental agreement with option to buy for Hermione Granger. A short term contract with Nymphadora Tonks wouldn’t be turned down. A Long-term agreement with Luna Lovegood would probably be a whole lot of fun. Any time Padma Patil wants to open negotiations, call me and oh for a weekend with Fleur. Oddly Lavender and Padma’s sister (despite being her twin) Parvati do nothing for me…
The pounding on the door increased, I watched in horror as the ward stones I had so carefully implanted around the door frame started to glow with a deep violet hue.
This is not good. Less than five minutes into the assault on my protections and the stones are already shedding energy into the visible spectrum. That should have taken hours, not five bloody minutes.
They’ve gotten stronger, so much stronger.
I considered dropping my defenses and trying to make my escape… but no. They would be expecting that. I’d actually done that the year before, and gotten away with it, but they would be expecting it if I were to try it again. Even if I did manage to get away, they would only track me down.
They had last time after all.
I picked my wand up from the side table and tried to push some more magic into the ward stones. As soon as the connection was made, I felt a horrible, almost unstoppable draw on my magic.
I cursed fate, karma and serendipity as I broke the connection while I still could. They were ahead of me at every turn. They were undermining my every countermeasure while slowly breaking down my protections.
I was doomed.
I watched as the ward stone began to glow green.
The morning of September first started badly and progressively got worse. Over night the women all seemed to have shifted symptoms. Now it was Susan who was violently sick at random intervals and moody as hell, Romilda with the swollen breasts and cramping, Millicent had a killer migraine, and Marietta was a weepy mess.
And me, well I woke up with the feeling that I had been stupid. Just like every other morning since our bonding. There was something about sleeping that seemed to be reorganizing the way I thought. So many patterns in my life were becoming obvious. I wondered why I had never noticed them before.
I managed to get my wives up and dressed, with almost no incidents. I say almost because when I woke her up for breakfast, Susan nearly took my head off at the shoulder with an insanely over powered cutting curse. I’d never seen such a thing before, not even from the Death Eaters. Her Aunt Amelia must have been hell on wheels. It was only luck and my Dursley trained reflexes that kept her from killing me seeing how it carved a three inch wide nine foot long two inch deep gouge in the wall of her bedroom, and then she was in my arms blubbering her apologies.
Then she was sick all over me. Like I said, it got worse.
After we got cleaned up and into fresh clothing, I managed to get them all downstairs for Winky’s breakfast service while Dobby finished our packing. I watched the four women who were now bound to my life for better or worse pick at their breakfasts when it occurred to me that I had absolutely no idea how we would be living once we got back to Hogwarts. Presumably Dumbledore had made the proper arrangements for whatever tradition called for in the case of married students… but I didn’t know if he actually had. The Headmaster had a miserable track record when it came to achieving his stated goals where I was concerned.
There was nothing to do for it, but carry on. Though I must admit that for the first time I wasn’t looking forward to the ride on the Hogwarts Express. I knew, simply knew, that there would be all too much attention paid to the change in our statuses, and by all the wrong people. Malfoy was going to open his inbred mouth and I was going to hurt him.
Breakfast done, Winky produced four goblets of a steaming brew, one in front of each of my wives.
“Is potion First Mistress used when feeling poorly.” The little elf explained. “She teach it to Winky when she started to being too sick to brew herselves.”
The four women all looked to me.
“I have no idea,” I admitted. “I’ve never even heard of potions for what you’re going through.”
“Some families are rumored to have ‘family brews’ for their monthlies and other things.” Marietta said quietly. “Mine doesn’t, but maybe the family Winky worked for did.”
“They’re only supposed to take the edge off,” Susan agreed. “I really don’t see how it could be worse.” Then she lifted the goblet to her lips.
Millicent and Marietta shared a look, shrugged, and drank their own doses. Romilda followed suit as soon as the cramps she was suffering through abated. One by one the goblets were emptied and the four women sat back in their chairs.
“I… I don’t think that did anything at all.” Millicent said.
“No, I’m not feeling quite so sick.” Susan whispered. “I think…”
“First Mistress say that Brew good for pains and sick, but not for moods.” Winky said helpfully.
The four women all looked to me. It appeared that all this was obviously my fault.
For the first time since first year, I managed to make it to platform 9 ¾ before 10:30. This was mostly due to Susan and her general theory of ‘If you’re not early, you’re late.’ I found myself wondering if Amelia Bones and the way she indoctrinated Susan was going to end up ruling my entire life. This was also the first time I arrived at the station as a wizard. It seemed that there is a bank of public floo access not unlike those in the Ministry of Magic right on the platform.
I spent a few moments wondering why the Weasley’s never used it, though its presence did explain why I had never seen an obvious Witch or Wizard on the far side of the barrier.
We arrived already dressed in our school uniforms, not bothering with our trunks because Dobby was delivering them directly to the school for us. This simple idea seemed rather alien to me, but I was far too busy dealing with the public’s non-reaction to our marriage to dwell on that question just then.
It seemed despite our weekly visits to Diagon Alley, word of our marriage had yet to leak out. I have no idea what the people we interacted with thought I was doing with four women I had never been in public with before, but evidently the idea of our entering into a group marriage never occurred to anyone. This was driven home when we boarded the train and Marietta was approached by Cho.
“Mari?” The Ravenclaw beauty asked. “Where have you been? Why are you with Potter?”
“Hello Cho.” Mari said sadly as she opened the door to the compartment we were to be using. “I think we need to talk.” She gestured for the rest of us to enter the compartment. “Is it ok if I go speak with Cho Harry? I’ll be back in a bit.”
I had been half expecting this. After all, I’d already told all of my friends. Both of them. “I understand Mari. Come back when you’re ready.” It wasn’t until much later I realized she had just asked my permission.
Mari offered a weak smile and closed the door, then along with Cho, headed toward the front of the train. After a few seconds a shriek of “MARRIED?” rang out.
“Well, she took it rather better than I expected.” Millicent laughed.
“You’re feeling better then?” I asked.
“Some,” she admitted as she looked up and spotted Tracey Davis in the window with a look of incredulity on her face. “It looks like I’ve got some explaining to do as well. May I?”
“You might as well all go. I know you’ve all got friends you need to speak to about this.”
Romilda and Millicent both rose from the benches they were sitting on and left the compartment, but Susan remained where she was. This struck me as very odd, given that Sue was a Hufflepuff and from what I understood about the ‘Puffs…
“I’ve got no one I want to talk to Harry. When I was turned out into the streets I found out what the friendships I thought I had were worth. The only one who would help me was you. The Headmaster tricked you into helping me, but I believe you would have done what ever you could for me regardless. I’m staying with my husband, and I’ll be trying to make it up to him for how I’ve been acting the last couple of days.”
“It hasn’t been that bad,” I lied. “Out of curiosity, how much longer do your periods last?”
“Only another two or three days.”
Oh hell. That was when I started imagining all the ways I could end up with detentions that would give me a reasonable explanation for not being around.
The Express jerked as the driver applied power and the train began to slowly move out of the station. The door to the compartment slid open and I looked up to find Draco Malfoy smirking at me.
“Pathetic Scarhead. It isn’t enough that you’re going to die when the Dark Lord comes for you; you have to take four women with you? I guess losing that Gryffindor stalker slut, the brainy frump from Ravenclaw, or even the Slytherin Troll won’t be all that much of a loss to the Wizarding world, but the loss of those magnificent tits will strike a blow from which we may never recover.” The blond git leered at Sue whose face darkened into a mask of fury.
I stood from the bench. “You’re talking about my wives, you inbred, mouth breathing moron.”
“And what are you going to do about it Potty?” Malfoy scoffed. “It looks to me like you’re out numbered three to one.”
I glanced to Goyle and Crabbe standing outside the compartment, looking threatening. The compartment’s door slammed shut. Malfoy flinched at the sound and on the outside of the door, Crabbe and Goyle struggled to get it to reopen. I mentally thanked Susan for the help and smiled at Malfoy’s discomfort.
“It looks to me like the odds just got even Draco.” The prat’s face paled. This had the possibility of being fun. Oh, there would be a cost later, but definitely fun now. He stepped back against the door that his bookends were busily beating on, a look of panic starting to spread across his face. “You’ve been asking for this Malfoy,” I said, wanting nothing more than to smack him across his mouth.”
Malfoy was flung bodily across the compartment as if I had summoned him. I was so shocked at this it was all I could do to throw myself to the floor to avoid his hurtling body. With a shrill scream Draco flew through the window before sliding to stop on the platform in a bloody heap as the train slowly moved out of the station.
Shocked I looked to Sue, who was looking at me like I had gone insane.
“Harry, why did you do that?”
“Well, I don’t think I did anything… at least I don’t think I did,” I said wondering if I was losing my grip on reality. “I thought you did it. Did you use your wand?”
“No. No I didn’t, I thought that you…no. I never drew my wand… Oh Merlin’s purple cock!” Sue had quite the dirty mouth when she got excited. I think it came from hanging out with so many Aurors while growing up. Truth be told, her colorful vocabulary was one of the things I had come to love about her. “The power increase from the Harem Effect! Mari and I thought it would take years to show up, but… Merlin. I think I had a bout of accidental magic.”
I drew my wand from my sleeve and cast Reparo on the window. It didn’t work, which wasn’t surprising since the pieces were needed to reassemble the window using that charm, and they were most of a quarter mile behind us. Susan seemed to concentrate for a moment, and then she drew her own wand and cast another Reparo. We both stared in amazement as the window reassembled itself.
“I think you may be right,” I said feeling more than a little bit inadequate, like a first year comparing his skills against a seventh year.
Susan slumped back onto the bench, staring at the floor of the compartment. “I wanted to keep the big Slytherins out of the compartment and the door slammed shut. I wanted Draco out of here for what he was saying about us and he was flying through the window. I don’t have any control”
“Sue…” I knelt in front of her and pulled her into a hug. “You’ve got lots of control… I’m still breathing aren’t I?”
She nuzzled my neck. “Thank you.”
Susan sat on the bench across from me with her feet in my lap so that I could massage them. We had been alone for most of twenty minutes before there was a knock at the door. Looking up, we found Susan’s friend Hannah Abbott looking at us through the glass.
The door was evidently still locked. I tried to open it, and of course, I couldn’t. I’m sure fate was giggling her vindictive arse off at me. Susan rose from her seat and as soon as her fingers touched the door frame I heard the lock click open.
“Hello Harry.” Hannah said hesitantly
“Hannah,” I answered noncommittally as I returned to my seat leaving the two girls standing. She had hurt Susan, but was it really my place to interfere?
The blonde girl glanced between Susan and me. “Sue? Could we talk?”
I took that as a cue. “I think I’ll go for a walk, stretch my legs a bit.”
“Harry, please stay.” Susan said quietly taking her own seat. “What did you want Hannah?”
Hannah looked more than a little embarrassed. “I just wanted to say that I’m sorry about what happened.”
“What is it in particular that you are sorry happened Hannah? That my Aunt was murdered, or that everyone I thought was my friend had no time for me after I lost everyone and everything that mattered to me?”
“Sue?” Hannah whispered.
“We have known each other since before we could talk.” Susan said quietly. “We’ve shared every secret, told each other of our every heartbreak and every success. Then my Auntie was killed. Suddenly your family didn’t have time for me. Suddenly no one would take my calls… Not even you Hannah. I was stripped of everything. Even my friends… or at least the people I thought were my friends.”
“Sue!” Hannah had started to cry. “There were threats made. Everyone was told that if anyone took you in, the Death Eaters would come and kill everyone in the family.”
“Then it’s good that I married a Gryffindor isn’t it? I had never known that bravery had become a concept foreign to my fellow Hufflepuffs.”
Hannah seemed honestly surprised. I quite frankly thought that the gossip network worked better than that.
Hannah again rapidly looked between Susan and me. “You married Harry Potter? Are you mad?”
“Am I mad? Do you know what I was doing when I received the proposal that joined Harry and me Hannah? I hadn’t eaten in two days, and I was wondering how hungry I would get before I ended up bartering the only thing of value I had left. Have you ever been that hungry Hannah? Harry saved me from that and asked nothing in return.”
“My name is Mrs. Potter now Hannah. My given name is reserved for my friends.”
Hannah fled the compartment in tears. I turned back to find Susan staring up at me. “Well,” she said toeing her shoes off. “What are you waiting for Harry? My feet won’t rub themselves.”
I took her left foot and restarted my massage to the sole. “Are you sure you want to cut your self off from Hannah and all the rest of your friends Sue?”
“They cut themselves off from me Harry… Oooh, that’s nice.” She purred. “You know, we’re both likely to catch hell for what I did to Malfoy.”
“What did you do Sue? I never saw you draw your wand, I certainly didn’t draw mine. What I don’t understand is why Draco dived through the window like that. He’s always been a bit high strung; perhaps he just couldn’t deal with the pressure of being an idiot any longer.” I smiled and pushed my thumb into a particularly sensitive spot on the sole of her left foot. “Remind me to never make you angry at me.”
“As long as you keep my feet happy, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Oooh…” she gasped, shuddering and hugging herself. “I’ve got… I’ve got to tell the other girls what else you can do with those hands.”
For most of the ride to Hogsmeade Station Susan and I kept each other company. There were short visits by several people, most to see Sue. She was as cold to these newcomers as she had been to Hannah. I was only starting to digest just how bad it had gotten for my lovely Hufflepuff, and I resolved to do what I could to convince her that she never had to worry about anything like that again.
I did have one visitor; Ron stuck his head in grinning like an idiot.
“Hey Ron,” I said, glancing toward Susan. She didn’t seem to be angry at Ron like she had been toward her own friends. “How are you doing?”
“Me? I’m doing great Harry. But you, you stirred up some shite there, let me tell you.” He grinned even wider. “What did you do to Malfoy?”
“Harry didn’t do anything to Malfoy.” Susan said primly. “We have no idea why Draco decided to jump out the window.”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “No idea.”
“Yeah, right,” Ron laughed. “Pull the other one Harry, I been out doing too many stupid things with you to believe that. You should look out for Ginny though, she’s seriously angry with you.”
I felt my blood run cold. Was Ginny still nursing that crush from her first two years?
“And why would Ginny be angry with Harry?” Sue asked.
“She feels that our Harry here has been mistreating Romilda Vane,” Ron laughed. “Being stingy with your attentions and all.”
“Romilda’s name is Potter, and she’s fourteen.” I sniffed. “While it might be technically legal for us to be married, I would feel like a child molester if I tried anything with her. We’re going to wait.”
Ron nodded. “I thought it was something like that, but Gin, well, you know how she can be.”
“So she’s not upset that Harry married?” Sue asked.
“Nah,” Ron said succinctly. “Oh sure she had a crush on the Boy-Who-Lived thanks to the stories Mum told her, but then she got to know Harry and he just didn’t measure up to the myth.”
“Hey!” I exclaimed, feeling somewhat put upon for reasons I couldn’t quite identify.
“Harry, it’s not as bad as I made it sound. She loves you like a brother. Hell, she loves you more than most of her brothers, but even though you saved her life, she still got to know the real you, you know? She knows that Pumpkin Pasties give you horribly foul wind, and that you find that hilarious. She knows that you do a thousand things that annoy her and that you’re unlikely to ever change.” Ron laughed before continuing. “And probably most importantly, she knows that despite the fact that you’re a hero, but you aren’t now and never will be a knight in shining armor, like the fictional Boy Who Lived was in the stories.”
“I’m no hero,” I muttered.
“Sure you are Harry, and everyone knows it. But Gin got to know ‘Just Harry’ and has decided that she still wants to look for the knight.”
Ron saw the look on my face and laughed even harder. I suppose it was good that someone was amused. I’d always wanted to be ‘Just Harry’… And now, it seemed I was.
“So, how’s this prat treating you girls?” Ron asked Susan.
“Like princesses,” Sue smiled. “We all wanted to apologize for how we were acting the other day Ron.”
Ron waved off her apologies. “I’ve got a sister Sue, and she’s been worse than all four of you combined. Besides, I knew enough about the Harem Effect to know where it was coming from.”
That was when I noticed Hermione walking past the compartment without looking in. Rather pointedly not looking in. Had I truly lost my other best friend over this? Ron noticed her as well.
“There’s Hermione, I’m supposed to be patrolling with her, Prefect stuff, you know?” He turned to me. “We’ll talk later, Okay Harry?”
My wives returned to the compartment one at a time, each with varied degrees of happiness, and each with stories of the shocked disbelief of our classmates. Romilda giggled as she told us of the plans for my seduction that her friends had all come up with.
I smiled tolerantly at that idea. Like that would have worked on me.
It wouldn’t have, would it? I don’t think it would…
Mari explained that Cho had actually asked if it were possible that all of this might be nothing more than an attempt on my part to make her jealous. I wondered to myself just how self absorbed someone would have to be to come up with that explanation.
Millie told us all of the utter shock our marriage had caused among the Slytherins, even those she counted as friends. There was evidently much interest in Salazar’s house as to how the Harem Effect might have changed her, and how much longer she believed I might survive. Millie was quite amused that her news had overshadowed whatever it was that may or may not have happened to Malfoy among the Snakes.
That was when Marietta got quite angry at Sue.
“You threw Draco Malfoy from the train? He could have been killed.”
“He was moving on the platform,” I countered. “And it’s not like it was done on purpose.”
“Harry, you could be arrested for this. We are your responsibility now. If you get yourself locked up over this, what’s going to happen to us?” She gestured to herself and the other women. “We’re dependent on you.”
“Oh that’s great, I’m responsible for four insanely powerful witches with control issues,” I said shaking my head. The next time Ron laughed at me I was going to rearrange his teeth.
“It was hardly Harry’s fault.” Sue said rising to my defense.
“I’m sure that Malfoy provoked you, but that isn’t an excuse…”
“He called Millie a troll, Romilda a stalker, made comments about my breasts and called you a brainy frump.” Susan interrupted.
“A brainy frump?”
Marietta turned her attention back to me just as the announcement that we were arriving at Hogsmeade station came over the announcing system.
“Draco Malfoy called me a brainy frump, and all you did was let Susan throw him out the window?”
I believe that was precisely the moment I came to understand that no matter what I did from here on; I was going to be wrong. Oh god. I was likely going to be wrong four times in four different ways simultaneously. Was wrongness additive or did it progress geometrically? I wondered, was I going to be four times as wrong as a normal man? Or was I looking into the maw of a hypercube of wrongness?
Truthfully, the thought that my utter wrongness might actually extend into other dimensions caused me to smile a bit.
We disembarked the train as a family, off in the darkness I heard Hagrid calling for the first years, but I couldn’t see my oldest magical friend. Together the five of us made our way off the platform, heading for where the thestral drawn carriages would be waiting. This is where we found Professor McGonagall and Snape waiting for us.
“You’ve done it this time Potter,” the Potions Master spat. “There won’t be any point to your unpacking; you’ll be leaving here tonight.”
“The Headmaster will be dealing with this Professor Snape,” McGonagall said in a most disapproving tone. “Your attitude isn’t helpful.”
“No! Albus has been coddling this arrogant child far too long. He is out of here tonight!”
“Professors?” I asked the feuding pair in my most innocent voice. “Could I ask just what it is I’m to be expelled for?”
“Your unprovoked attack on Draco Malfoy, Potter,” Snape put his rather large nose directly into my face.
“And when was I supposed to have done this Professor?”
“You know very well Potter!” He bellowed, “As the train was leaving the station. You hexed him in the back and threw him out the window of his carriage.”
“I most certainly did not.” It figured that Malfoy would embellish what happened. Hex him in the back indeed.
Fifth year had been horrible, but my time with Umbitch had taught me at least one thing. Remaining calm in the face of raving maniacs was a most useful skill. The nightly reorganization of my thought processes helped in this as well. “You should calm down Professor,” I made a show of wiping a bit of spittle from my face. “I did not hex Draco Malfoy, nor did I throw him off the train. This is his word against mine, and given the number of times he has been clearly demonstrated to be a liar, well I believe we all know what Draco Malfoy’s word is worth. Professor McGonagall, I would like to file a complaint about this unprofessional treatment. Can I count on you as a witness?”
Snape grabbed hold of my robes and jerked me toward him. “There are witnesses to your assault Potter. Crabbe and Goyle saw everything.”
“I was there as well Professor,” Susan said quietly. “Harry never drew his wand when Draco entered our compartment and insulted all five of us. Harry never hexed Draco, nor did Harry lay hands on him. In fact the only time Harry used his wand was to repair the window that Draco broke. That should be easy enough to verify.”
“Now you’re having your whores lie for you Potter?” The greasy git said with a smirk.
“Severus!” McGonagall gasped, and angry noises came from all four of the women behind me.
Looking to head off whatever the girls’ enhanced magic might do, I made a move for my wand; but I found that I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even blink as Snape’s grip on my robes was broken and he was thrust away from me throwing the Potions Master against the wall of the train station and held him there. I struggled against what ever it was that was holding me immobile. I needed to at very least make it seem like I was the one whose magic was flaring out of control. I could move again after a few seconds and I approached Snape in a manner that suggested that this had been my idea. I emulated his earlier action by approaching the man where he was held to the wall and grabbed him by the lapels of his robes. “Listen to me very closely old man. If you ever insult my wives again I will kill you.”
“Mr. Potter!” McGonagall shrieked.
“What Professor? Am I expected to allow this insignificant little man insult my wives like that? If that is the standard of behavior that I can expect from the staff of your school then you don’t need to expel me, my family and I will be leaving now.” I allowed Snape to fall to the ground.
“You’re gone Potter…” Snape gasped from the ground. “Attacking a teacher?”
“Shut up Snape. I simply showed an unimportant ass what happens when he stupidly lays hands on me and insults my wives. The fact that you did it in front of the Assistant Headmistress just points up your idiocy doesn’t it?” I laughed. “Go ahead, go cry to the Headmaster and insist that I be expelled. Then we can find out who he values more, you or me.”
I turned away from the man and returned to my worried wives, only to see Millie suddenly furrow her brow and I heard Snape scream as I was turning to see what she was looking at.
The man lay on the ground holding his right hand to his chest, in obvious pain, while what appeared to be the remains of his wand lay on the ground in front of him smoldering. I turned to face Professor McGonagall.
“Professor McGonagall, what is going on here? Why are you just standing here while Snape manhandles me, he insults my wives, and cowardly attempts to hex me in the back? Are you the Assistant Headmistress or not?” I gestured toward Snape, “Does this… thing work for you or not? Why was I forced to defend myself and my family when you were standing right here? Wasn’t the level of protection you provided the students of the school last year bad enough?”
I think my comparing this situation to those inspired and condoned by Umbridge shocked McGonagall into action. “Severus, get yourself to the Hospital wing. We will be having a long discussion about your professionalism.”
She waited while Snape picked himself up off the floor and made his way out of the station, still cradling his right hand. Once he was out of sight she turned back to the five of us. “Mr. Potter, ladies, I would like to apologize for the conduct of my colleague. It will not happen again.”
“If you say so Professor,” I said. It was petty of me, I know, but I couldn’t resist twisting the knife, just a little bit. “My complaints about him to both you and the Headmaster have never been taken seriously before, and the only real difference between his conduct toward me in the past and tonight is that tonight he laid hands on me and insulted those with me while you were in a position to witness it.”
That seemed to startle my Transfiguration teacher a bit more. I managed not to smile.
“I was sent to inform you of the living arrangements that have been made for you. If you please?” she gestured toward the exit.
“In a moment Professor,” I said, desperately attempting to keep up the illusion that I was the active player in all this. “I believe I need a few moments to speak with my wives.”
McGonagall obviously didn’t want the delay, but nodded. “Time is of the essence Mr. Potter, the sorting cannot be delayed.”
I turned my back on her and turned to my wives. Romilda nodded when McGonagall was far enough away. “Is everyone alright?”
“Yes.” Marietta whispered. “I’m sorry about the body bind. I didn’t want you getting in the way.”
“Wonderful,” I said. “I feel all manly and stuff. We’ve got to maintain the illusion that it was me. If word gets out how powerful you’ve all become it would paint large targets on your backs.”
“That makes sense,” Susan agreed. “Everyone knows you’re already powerful with being able to cast a Patronus and everything else you’ve done. No one will expect any of us becoming more powerful for quite a while.”
“Snape didn’t hurt you did he Harry?”
“I’m fine Romi.” I pulled her into a hug. “Thanks you all for protecting me. And you Millie, you’re going to have to work on your tell.”
Millie looked at me with a small smirk. “I guess I could slap you up against the wall for a while as practice…”
“No, we’re good,” I said backpedaling. “We can’t keep Professor McGonagall waiting…” I made a note to my self to never ever tease my Slytherin wife.
Outside we found one of the larger carriages waiting. I assisted the girls in climbing into the carriage, and offered my hand to Professor McGonagall, who hesitated, then accepted my help. I then climbed aboard to hear the details of the Headmaster’s plans.
We were seated at a new table on the opposite side of the Great Hall from the Staff table. Just the five of us, I was at the center setting, with Susan and Romilda to my left, and Marietta and Millie to my right. Our seating arrangement of course drew the attention of the entire student body, but no official mention was forthcoming from the Staff table. Perhaps it was paranoia but I found where the staff had chosen to place us somewhat… comforting. Our backs were up against the wall of the Great Hall, and from our places my family had unrestricted view of the entirety of the hall. At least here we couldn’t be blindsided.
The sorting went off as usual, though I have to admit to not paying the slightest bit of attention to the proceedings. I was too busy dwelling on what McGonagall had told us in the carriage.
I wasn’t a Gryffindor any longer.
Married students, the Assistant Headmistress had explained, are removed from their houses and formed a family grouping. This was, of course, usually a pair, but in our case all five of us were removed from our houses. We would no longer be eligible for Quidditch or the House Points system, but would still be responsible for any detentions assigned. Following the Welcoming Feast, we were to meet with Professor McGonagall and from there we would be conducted to our new quarters.
I still hadn’t decided how I felt about this when the sorting was finished and Dumbledore made his usual pre-feast inanities, and the serving platters on the table filled. It was time to start paying attention again. My wives were dealing with the loss of their houses in very different manners.
Mari was upset; it was obvious that losing the self identification as a Ravenclaw was hitting her hard. Millie took on a stoic expression. I suspect that she wasn’t happy either, but she wasn’t going to show weakness if she could help it. Romilda was picking at her meal; I believe Romi was more upset at losing her ready access to her dorm mates than anything else. Susan on the other hand seemed to have finally regained her appetite. She explained over her meal that her house had left her long before she knew that she would be leaving her house.
I think the fact that the one of us who should have been hit the hardest by the loss of house was in fact the one least affected was a bit disturbing.
I spent most of the meal trying to coax Marietta to eat more and consoling Millie and Romilda. Susan cast a few Auror level privacy charms that allowed us to make plans that took into account what we had learned so far today.
“I’m not sure it’s a good idea to call so much attention to yourself Harry,” Millie said reaching for her goblet.
“I agree Harry,” Susan interjected. “While the immediacy of our power increase is unusual, I don’t think that having it become known is really all that dangerous.”
“You’re probably right.” I nodded. I looked toward the Staff table and noticed that both Dumbledore and Snape were focusing an inordinate amount of attention in our direction. “But even if you are right, it won’t hurt anything for the attention to be concentrated on a known glory hog like me.”
Then I mouthed the words ‘Yeah, I heard that rumor too. I can believe that Snape spent his childhood on his knees blowing his father, but I can’t believe his mother violated him with her strap on at the same time.’
I then looked back to the Staff table to see that neither of my fans at that table seemed to have gotten anything from my silent speech.
“Harry…” Susan giggled.
I returned my attention to my wives to find three of them looking at me in concern. “Harry have you been silenced?” Romilda asked.
“No, he was testing to see if Dumbledore or Snape could read lips.” Susan laughed. When she saw the blank looks she was getting she continued. “That’s a method Muggles who can’t hear use to understand what people are saying. Relax Harry, I came across the concept in a book, and I asked my Auntie Amelia about it. She told me that since there were charms for enchanting quills and parchment to record conversations it never took off in the magical world.”
“But you can do it?”
“The idea intrigued me, so I got some books on the topic…At a distance I can pick up about every fourth word. It’s great for gathering gossip.” She giggled again. “You’re nasty.”
I felt my face heat up. I wasn’t sure that I would be comfortable always being off balance with these girls. And I was right. I managed to feed myself before the platters and dinner service all disappeared, and Professor McGonagall signaled for silence.
Dumbledore cleared his throat and waited a few seconds to ensure that the silence was absolute before continuing.
“Now, as everybody knows, Lord Voldemort and his followers are once more at large and gaining in strength.”
The silence seemed to grow as Dumbledore spoke. I glanced over to the Slytherin table, focusing on Malfoy. The ferret was covered head to toe in bandages. I fought the urge to smile. The clown was such a drama queen. As if Madam Pomfrey would allow him out of the Hospital Wing if he was seriously injured. I wondered, not for the first time, precisely why the other Slytherins put up with his act.
“I cannot emphasize strongly enough how dangerous the present situation is, and how much care each of us at Hogwarts must take to ensure that we all remain safe. The castle’s wards have been strengthened over the summer, we are protected in new and more powerful ways, but we must still guard scrupulously against carelessness on the part of any student or member of staff. I urge you, therefore, to abide by any security restrictions that you teachers might impose upon you, however irksome you might find them… in particular, the rule that you are not to be out of after hours. I implore you, should you notice anything strange or suspicious within or outside the castle, to report it to a member of staff immediately. I trust you to conduct yourselves, always, with the utmost regard for your own and others’ safety.”
Dumbledore’s gaze swept over the students before he smiled once more.
“I am sure that you have all noticed the new table now situated on the far side of the Great Hall. Five of our own have decided to join their lives together in what is quite likely the first group marriage in almost half a century. This new family has taken its members from all of our traditional houses. Unfortunately, the bylaws of our school require that they be withdrawn from the houses that they have all been credits to for the entirety of their time here at Hogwarts. None of the Potters will be part of the House Points system, nor will they be eligible for the interhouse competitions such as Quidditch.”
I rose from my seat. “Excuse me Headmaster?”
I seemed to have startled him with my interruption. “Yes Mr. Potter?”
“On behalf of my wives and myself I would like to thank you for this welcome.”
“Of course Mr. Potter…”
“However,” I interrupted him again. “Since boarding the train this morning, my wives have been insulted, once by a fellow student and once by a member of the staff,” I maintained eye contact with the Headmaster. “In both cases I demonstrated precisely why it is a bad idea to insult the wife of a Potter. I would like to state here and now that I have given all the warnings I intend to. The next person who insults any of my wives in any way will find out what happens when I’m not issuing warnings any longer.”
Dumbledore seemed stunned. Malfoy paled a bit, but Snape… His face clouded and he shot me a look that promised pain.
“Well… Yes. Thank you Mr. Potter,” he hesitated, then again addressed the students. “Now that we have dealt with all the announcements… your beds await, as warm and comfortable as you could possibly wish, and I know that your top priority is to be well-rested for your lessons tomorrow. Let us therefore say good night!”
“Have a seat Mr. Potter.”
“Thank you Headmaster.” I said politely and far more calmly than I felt. I was… disturbed by being away from the girls. It was hard to explain, a feeling of… dread. I knew I needed to get back to them.
The old man sighed, blocking out my inner monolog. “We are here to discuss that happened today, both on the train and at the station.” A snort from the chair in the rear of the Headmaster’s office unnecessarily reminded me of Snape’s presence.
“That is an excellent idea Headmaster,” I said as I drew my wand from the sleeve of my robes. “While you are testing my wand to show that I did not use it on Draco Malfoy, I can start the grievance procedure to notify the Board of Governor of my complaint against Professor Snape and still made it back to my rooms to wish my wives a good night.” The plan Millie and Sue came up with to marginalize Snape was simple, ignore him and push his buttons until he self destructed.
“Grievance Mr. Potter?” Dumbledore asked
“Why yes Headmaster. It is proper to file a grievance with the Board of Governors when a teacher attempts to assault a student and brings shame upon himself and his minor house isn’t it?” Snape was sitting bolt upright in his chair now.
Dumbledore gestured for Snape to restrain himself. “I’m afraid you need to clarify what you are talking about Mr. Potter.”
“Professor McGonagall was there to witness Professor Snape of a cadet line of the minor house of Prince lay hands on me, the head of the major house of Potter. She also witnessed Professor Snape refer to my wives as ‘Whores’. I of course punished him for his presumption, but I understand your position that the proprieties must be observed.”
“You arrogant little…” Snape was on his feet, a wand clutched in his left hand pointed at me, his rage evident in his face.”
“Professor, please,” I said leaning back in my chair, my hands folded in my lap. There was no way I could defend myself in the position I was in, so it seemed best to carry through with the bluff. “I shattered your hand when you attempted to attack me with my back to you. Do you want me to show you what I can do when I’m looking at you? Further I wonder if the DMLE would be interested in just how you came to have a replacement wand within hours of the destruction of your old one.”
“Severus,” Dumbledore barked. “Lower your wand and sit down.” He glared at the Potions Master until he obeyed, then the old man redirected his attention to me. “Why must you provoke him so Mr. Potter?”
“Headmaster, I am sixteen years old, while Professor Snape is a grown man. If he has so little self control that mere words will drive him to a rage, how precisely is that my fault?” Snape looked like he was going to leap across the room to strangle me with his bare hands. I should have tried this calm, reasonable stuff years before, I was actually starting to have fun. “About that Grievance Headmaster? I really need to be getting back to my wives.”
“Do you really think that you will be allowed to file a complaint against me boy?” Snape hissed.
I shrugged. “If we don’t resolve this, tonight, my family and I are leaving. There are other schools, schools that hold their staff to professional standards.”
That seemed to really get Dumbledore’s attention. “I’m sure we can work something out to prevent involving the board in this Mr. Potter. What could we do, short of an official complaint to the Board of Governors to satisfy you?”
“Professor Snape could retire. That would do it.”
Snape made the oddest sound, almost as if he were completely inarticulate with rage.
“As you well know Harry, Professor Snape has an important role to play here at Hogwarts, his continued presence is necessary to keep the Slytherin’s from joining Lord Voldemort.”
“And a bang up job he’s doing too. I mean Draco Malfoy’s soul couldn’t be any more pure if it were strained through a vat of pickled beets,” I smiled when I saw that my simile hadn’t made the slightest bit of sense to either of the men.
“Professor Snape will not be retiring.” The old man said with finality.
“Alright. How about the Professor makes an Unbreakable Vow to treat each and every student in the school honorably and fairly?” The Unbreakable Vow was Millie’s idea. I didn’t believe for a second that Snape would ever go for it.
Dumbledore’s face lit up. “Is that all? Well, certainly, I’ll take his vow now and all this unpleasantness will be behind us.”
“An unbreakable vow made to me,” I continued. “I’m sorry Professor, but you ‘Trust Professor Snape implicitly’ as you’ve told me many times, I suspect that you would be fairly lenient in your application of the vow. I on the other hand do not trust Professor Snape in the slightest and I will hold him to the letter of his word. Intentionally misgrading a single assignment, taking points without cause, giving points without cause, any instance of unfairness to any student positive or negative of any or no house will result in the loss of his magic, or his life. I’ll leave the choice up to him.”
“Oh come on Headmaster, what could be fairer than a vow to be fair? Is Professor Snape incapable of the level of professionalism displayed by every other teacher at this school?”
“I will never swear any oath or vow to you boy,” Snape growled.
“Well, there you have it Headmaster. Even in your office Professor Snape cannot act like a professional and he isn’t willing to even entertain the possibility of being fair in his dealings with the students of this school.” I shook my head sadly, and then continued, “It’s sad really. I mean think about the real lesson he’s teaching his Slytherins… That they aren’t good enough to succeed without his coddling, that they are inferior to every other house in every way.” I stood up, “I think it’s pretty clear that we are wasting our time here Headmaster. I can file my grievance to the Board through Professor McGonagall tomorrow. Are you going to test my wand to confirm what happened on the train with Draco?”
The old man actually seemed to be getting angry. “Sit down Mr. Potter. You well know that Professor Snape acts the way he does for a reason.”
I sat. “Indeed I do Headmaster. Professor acts the way he does toward me because my father was mean to him when he was in school. Boo Hoo. The fact remains that I and every other student at this school pay good money for the privilege of attending this school, and we aren’t getting our money’s worth from Professor Snape. If as the Professor suggested, I will not be allowed to file my complaints with the Board, then I will need to take my business elsewhere.”
“I’m afraid that will not be allowed to happen Mr. Potter. Despite your recent marriage, you are still a minor, and as such cannot make those decisions until you reach your majority.”
“Quite true Headmaster. I am still underage. However my wife Marietta is of age and this summer I petitioned the Ministry to allow her control of the Potter estate. She holds full power of attorney for my entire family.” God that woman is brilliant. As smart as Hermione and willing to take the suggestions from Millie to fine tune her plans in ways my bushy haired friend would never dream of. When she suggested that we place her in control of the estate until I was of age, I never imagined how useful it would turn out to be. “If Professor Snape isn’t willing to make a vow to act like an adult, then one of us is going to have to leave the school.”
The old man was shocked, seemingly unable to speak.
“I guess it comes down to you Headmaster. Who do you want at the school more, Professor Snape, or me?”
The girls were waiting for me when I arrived in at the rooms assigned to us. Compared to what we had become used to at the Potter Estate, the rooms were minimalist, but from what we were used to in the school setting fairly normal. The girls had a room setup like a standard dorm. My room was smaller containing a standard four poster, a writing desk and storage for my clothing. The two rooms each had a private bath, and opened to a central common area that had the standard sofa/easy chair combinations well as a small table where we could study or take our meals if we chose.
I think we shocked Professor McGonagall when she was offering the available married quarters. She actually seemed to think that we would want the first set of rooms she showed us which had a single bedroom containing a huge bed that would easily sleep five.
After our reactions to that offering, she led us to the rooms we did take, explaining that the last group marriage at Hogwarts had used the single bed suite, and she had assumed that we would as well.
I’d never imagined that Professor McGonagall could blush.
“Is everything alright?” Mari asked as I entered the room.
“It is now,” I said as I removed my outer robes and sat next to Romilda who cuddled against me. I noticed that none of the girls looked… healthy. “Are you all alright?”
“I think the potion is wearing off,” Susan explained. “Either that or we’ve all got nerves and are getting the same symptoms we had this morning.”
“Have you called Winky for another dose?”
“We did,” Mari answered while wiping at her eyes with a handkerchief. “Evidently the potion can only be taken in the morning. How did you meeting go?”
“Well, everyone believes it’s me that threw Draco from the train, though I thought Snape’s eyes were going to pop out of his head when Dumbledore ran the Prior Incantato on my wand and the only spell shown to be cast in since June was a Reparo.”
“And no one suspects sweet little Sue from Hufflepuff,” Sue smiled. “Because she could never be so violent, being both a Hufflepuff and a girl.”
“Yeah, they don’t know you all that well I guess.” I laughed. “Anyway Dumbledore spent most of the meeting trying to get me not to file the Grievance against Snape. I got the feeling that he was really worried about that. I offered to let the grievance drop if he swore Millie’s Unbreakable Vow of fairness.”
“I do hope you kept my name out of it,” Millie said quietly. “I’m going to get enough of a reputation just hanging out with you.”
“Yeah, I have that affect on people. None of your names came up. Snape refused to make the vow, so I offered the Ultimatum. Dumbledore is supposed to let me know tomorrow one way or the other. It was kind of odd though.”
“What was?” Romilda asked.
“It seemed to shock the Headmaster that I would dare to stand up for myself, and he was honestly surprised that I would suggest leaving the school if Snape didn’t either actually reform or leave. Then as the conversation carried on and Snape got even angrier, Dumbledore seemed to be… I don’t know, sort of pleased with the way things were going.”
“Pleased?” Susan echoed.
“That doesn’t seem right…” Marietta agreed.
“Did we miss something?” Millie asked.
“I don’t think so,” I said. “The way the old man was talking it seemed like he was still trying to come up with a way to keep Snape and me both here, but he still seemed… pleased.” I stood up. “Anyway, it’s late and we’ve got class tomorrow. Dumbledore is supposed to let me know tomorrow if we need to be looking for another school.”
Susan came to my room that night, just to be held.
Unlike the nights she had stayed with me at the Estate, that night she came in bundled in a heavy dressing gown.
“Budge over,” Susan said quietly. “It’s cold and I need your body heat.”
How was a man supposed to resist a command like that? I moved to the center of the bed and held the blankets open for her. Removing her dressing gown the pretty redhead revealed the heavy flannel pajamas underneath. She kicked off her slippers and climbed into the bed, rubbing her feet, which appeared to be clad in a pair of heavy socks, against my bare legs.
“I hate this bloody castle.” She grumped. “It’s always so cold.”
I didn’t think it was all that cold. I was in my usual sleeping attire, a pair of boxers and a tee-shirt. I had been quite comfortable when I was preparing for bed. Even in the dead of winter, sleeping like that was comfortable… though once frost started forming on the walls, it made actually getting out of bed something of an adventure.
Still, if a cold castle got me a cuddly sleeping companion, who was I to complain?
“Harry? I wanted to thank you for the attention you paid Romilda tonight.”
“I just sat with her.” I pointed out.
“Yes, you did. And you let her cuddle with you. That means a lot to her. We all understand your reasoning for not sleeping with her. That’s understand, not agree. She has been feeling quite left out.”
“Tomorrow is her birthday,” I noted. “I got her a few things. I was hoping to make a bit of a fuss over her.”
“She’d like that,” Susan murmured.
The silence built between us in the darkness. I thought long and hard about just going to sleep, but I needed to talk to Susan about what she had said to Hannah on the train.
“Yeah?” she asked sleepily.
“I’ve been thinking about what you told Hannah on the train.”
“I’ve been thinking about what you told Hannah today on the train,” I repeated. “I want you to know that you will never have to worry about that again.”
Sue rolled over to face me. I could just barely see her eyes sparkling in the light of the dimmed wall sconce in the shower room. “What do you mean Harry?”
“I’m going to arrange for vaults in all of your names to be held in the Bolivian Gringotts branch. The Ministry won’t make paupers of you if anything happens to me.”
“You don’t need to do that Harry,” she wrapped her arms around my neck and pulled me to her, nibbling on my neck. “We don’t want your money, we want you.”
“Well, except for Marietta.” I laughed.
“Harry,” she giggled. “Mari wants you bad. Why else do you think she stayed with you last night?”
“She was hurting.” I said, stating what I thought to be obvious.
“Oh Harry. You are so clueless.”
Not for the first time in my life I found myself wondering just why it was I never seemed to know what was going on.
The girls were miserable the next morning, until Winky appeared with their potions. Then we had a few quiet moments together celebrating Romilda’s birthday before we headed to the Great Hall for breakfast and to find out if we were staying or not.
We arrived in the Great Hall to find that ‘our’ table was still in place, set with the table service for our meal, and so I conducted my ladies to the table and we sat down to break our fasts.
The Great Hall filled over the next twenty minutes with many of our fellow students shooting glances toward us. Malfoy was still clad in his bandages and making much show of being injured. Pansy was waiting on him hand and foot, going as far as actually hand feeding the prat.
That was when the Staff entered the Great Hall as a group, which was fairly unusual. Normally they came into the hall in small groups. It appeared that there might have been a meeting. Susan nudged me.
“Dunno,” I answered. Indeed the greasy git was not among the assembled staff.
Professor McGonagall signaled for silence in the Great Hall, and the Headmaster stood at his chair to address the students.
“Good morning all,” The old man looked about the Hall in that Grandfatherly way of his. “I’m sorry to interrupt your morning repast, but there is a staff change that I need to make you all aware of. Professor Snape has had to leave the staff in order to deal with a family issue. We will be starting a search for a replacement Professor of Potions as soon as possible, for now; I will be taking Professor Snape’s classes until a suitable replacement can be found.”
A flurry of conversations erupted in the Great Hall until Dumbledore spoke again.
“Yes Mr. Nott?” The Headmaster asked, having spotted the Slytherin Sixth Year signaling that he had a question.
“Yes sir, when will Professor Snape be returning?”
“Unfortunately it isn’t clear when or if Professor Snape’s personal business will allow him to return to Hogwarts and his Slytherins, which is why Professor Vector has agreed to assume the responsibilities of the Head of Slytherin House.”
The Headmaster took his seat and the heads of houses began distributing class schedules. We waited while Professor McGonagall worked her way through the Gryffindors before she could get to the five of us.
“Are you proud of yourself Mr. Potter?” the Assistant Headmistress asked when she reached our table.
I accepted my schedule from my former head of house. “Sometimes Professor. What in specific are you referring to?”
“Specifically your blackmailing of the Headmaster.” She sniffed.
“What would you have had me do Professor? I have taken five years of abuse from the man, including the physical assault that you witnessed last night. Then he insulted my wives, again in front of you. Neither you nor the Headmaster have ever done your job concerning the man and reined in his excesses. All that left me short of killing the bastard was the Grievance process allowed to students. The fact that the Headmaster would rather send Mr. Snape away than face the Board is hardly my fault.”
“Professor Snape.” She corrected me automatically.
“Mr. Snape is no longer a professor at this school, and I am unaware than he has been taken on anywhere else. Professor, I am not looking for a fight, all I want is the basic level of respect that the rest of the student body expect as a matter of course.”
The Professor huffed and left the table. My wives and I shared a look, and then rose from the table to begin our day.
Classes were… well, classes. The work was harder than it had ever been, but despite that I was beginning to see the method to the madness behind it all. My home work was checked by Marietta each night and she was rarely impressed.
On the first of October, Mari came to my bed and had her way with me. By this point Millie and Sue had been showing me what I was doing wrong for two months, and by all indications I was progressing fairly well in this particular field of study, so I was feeling pretty good about myself and the technique I’d learned.. Mari destroyed that illusion by telling me what she wanted, showing me what she expected me to do and drilling me repeatedly until I learned my lessons.
I can state without reservation that those particular lessons with Mari were my favorite lessons of my entire life.. When she was satisfied with the lesson she had conducted that evening and I was laid out on my back struggling to catch my breath, my sexy genius, using small words and speaking slowly, dissected my career at Hogwarts. Sitting naked in the middle of my bed she explained to me just how much I had neglected the basics of magical theory in every single class. Mari went on to explain how I was ham fistedly frittering away my potential.
Nag nag nag.
Of course, with the nightly reorganization of my mind, I could clearly see each and every one of her points. Why had I been so damned lazy anyway? How much of the previous five years had I wasted? Sure, I could cast with the best of them. Practical application of magic had always come easier for me than the theory.
So I buckled down. From that point on I concentrated on what I needed to do, Mari slowly but surely turned me into an actual student. Of course she also did the same thing to the other ladies of our family, but none of them seemed to have been quite as purposefully stupid as I had.
Halloween arrived and I found myself feeling somewhat… empty. A second round of my ladies monthlies had come and gone, and after a horrible first day (evidently, the potion wouldn’t work on the first day of their cycles) even that passed quietly, despite my having to be very careful with what I said.
But it was Halloween. Never a good day for me. Looking back over my life I couldn’t think of a single good thing that happened to me on Halloween.
I had been wandering the castle, looking for something, anything to distract me. Even a preview of what ever horror this particular Halloween held would be better than the emptiness in my gut. Unfortunately, nothing happened. I should have taken that as a sign all by itself.
The Halloween feast was as festive as usual, though as I said before celebrating tonight of all nights seemed to be in poor taste. At least my ladies seemed to be enjoying themselves. It was during the dessert course I decided to join in and quit feeling so sorry for myself.
Following dinner we returned to our apartments. I knew that if the girls followed their normal schedule, then Millie would be joining me that night. Maybe something special was in order.
“Harry?” she asked as she entered my room.
“Hello Millie,” I said from where I stood behind the door as I slipped a blind fold over her eyes.
“Harry, what the hell are you doing?”
“I seem to recall you mentioning that you had certain interests when you were telling off Hermione…” I said as I guided her to the bed while unbuttoning her night dress and allowing it to fall to the floor.
“Harry?” Millie gasped as I laid her on the bed.
I waved my wand and the silk scarves I had prepared for the evening looped over her wrists and ankles causing her to be spread eagle. In preparation for this I'd done a bit of reading in the library on this subject. Who knew the books that Madam Pince kept in the reserved section could possibly be so... interesting?
I picked up the peacock feather. “The safe word is ‘Nargle’.”
I woke to pain. A lot of pain. Pain like someone had worked me over with a beater bat until he got tired, then he turned the bat over to his larger very angry brother to finish the job.
“Ow!” I said, suddenly aware of how weird my voice sounded, and now much it hurt to say ‘ow’.
I considered trying to open my eyes to find out where I was, but just laying there hurt badly enough, I couldn’t see any reason to chance that opening my eyes wouldn’t hurt more.
“Harry? Harry are you awake?”
A girl’s voice. Sounded familiar. Familiar and concerned. Ow!. Thinking hurt.
“Alright Mrs. Potters…” a woman’s voice this time. Very familiar. “All of you Mrs. Potters are going to have to leave my patient alone or you will have to leave the ward.”
What had happened? Still not moving, I tried to recall what had happened… I had been in bed with Millie for about an hour, and she seemed to be having a real good time, though I personally couldn’t see the attraction of being tickled and teased. She had thrashed around a bit, straining against her restraints; she had never been so wet before. She had arched her back and then… nothing.
What had I done? Had I hurt her? The pounding in my head increased, and now there was a ringing in my ears. Oh god, if I had hurt her… I forced my eyes open.
Bloody hell that hurt. Several very blurry faces swam in the tears that flooded my eyes from the pain”
“Mr. Potter, I see you’ve returned to us.” The woman’s voice said. Madam Pomfrey? Oh hell, I was in the Hospital wing again. “Tell me, how are you feeling?”
“Hurts.” I croaked out. My mouth was painfully dry.
My glasses were placed on my face and the faces came into focus. Madam Pomfrey and my wives. The ladies all seemed to be ok… Good, I hadn’t hurt anyone.
“I’m afraid I need you to be a bit more specific than that Mr. Potter,” Madam Pomfrey continued as she held a cup of delicious water to my lips. Water had never tasted so good. “What hurts?”
“Everything. Everything hurts.”
My Healer nodded. “I suspected as much. Mr. Potter, pain is nature’s way of telling you to stop doing things.” She poured a pain relief potion into my mouth. After I got past the taste, the pain started fading almost immediately. “Perhaps you should remember that the next time you are tempted to try some power ritual you’ve read about, especially one that didn’t seem to do much. I took the liberty of checking your index scores, you only received a tenth of a percent increase from whatever it is you did to yourself.”
She bustled away before I could ask what the hell she was talking about. Power ritual? What the hell is a power ritual?
Millie was holding my hand and trying not to cry. “What did I do?” I asked. “Did I hurt you Millie?”
Millie just started sobbing and pulled me into a hug that threatened my ability to breath. All the girls started speaking at once and I couldn’t understand what any of them were saying.
Susan frowned and immediately began casting some of her Auror privacy charms. “Let him go Millie. He’s turning purple.” She slid an arm around Millicent’s shoulder. “As best we can tell, you had Millie so excited that when she came, she let loose with a burst of accidental magic.”
“Evidently that burst of magic threw you across the room and slapped you against the wall hard enough to break a goodly number of your bones and do a horrific amount of damage to your internal organs” Marietta continued. “On top of that, the silencing charms on your room kept us from hearing Millie calling for help until Romilda came to see why the two of you weren’t ready for breakfast.”
“It figures that the first time I get to see my husband naked he’s too injured for me to do anything about it.” Romilda giggled.
“Romi called us and we all rushed into your room,” Sue concluded.
“I’m sorry Harry. I’m so sorry.” Millie sobbed.
“Millie, you didn’t do anything… I was just stupid not to take precautions.” I said while taking her hand again.
“You almost died!”
“But I didn’t. It’s ok, really.” I don’t know why, but I couldn’t resist being a smartarse. “Besides, if I had died, imagine the reaction of everyone if it got out that you killed a man through sex.”
The four women were shocked into silence for a moment, and then Sue started to giggle. “That would certainly command a certain level of respect.”
“I know I’d want details on that technique.” Romi agreed.
Millie’s expression shifted between horrified and amused. “I guess that might do something for my popularity…” a small grin crossed her lips. “But we all know that Marietta would only let me use my powers for good.”
“Well… yes. Very funny,” Mari sniffed as the other girls giggled; I suspect more from the relief of the situation than finding my stupid joke very funny. “More importantly, we found you badly injured. We needed something to tell the Headmaster and Madam Pomfrey, so in keeping with our plan of hiding our power increases, we suggested that you might have been experimenting with rituals to increase your own powers.”
“That makes sense. So Madam Pomfrey fixed me up as usual?”
“Yes,” Romi nodded. “She fussed over you like a mother hen, but she said that she wouldn’t be able to do anything about your pain until you woke up.”
“So why aren’t you lot in class? Using me as an excuse to skive off?”
“Harry,” Sue said gently. “It’s Sunday, you’ve been out for almost three days”
I blinked. Bloody hell.
The door opened and a visibly distraught Hermione Granger entered the ward. Susan quietly dropped her privacy charms and my wives regarded my friend coolly.
“Harry? I’m so glad you’re awake.”
“Hey Hermione. You know me; I’m not really at school if I don’t make it to the Hospital wing once or twice.”
“Harry this isn’t funny.” I could see that she had been crying. “Have you been using Power Rituals?”
I was obviously missing something; I could hear the capitalization in her words. I decided to try and tell something less than the truth, but not the lie that was evidently circulating. “No, I was just training and a spell went wrong.”
The relief was visible on her face. “I knew it, I knew that the Prophet was lying again. I knew that there was no way you would be doing something so dark…” She pulled me into one of her hugs and I was reminded most pointedly reminded that several of my ribs had only recently been healed. My vision grayed a bit from the pain, and then I noticed the looks my wives were giving both my bushy haired friend and me.
“Hermione,” I gasped. She released me and I took a few cleansing breaths before continuing, “What are you on about?”
“Oh Harry, haven’t they told you?” from a pocket of her robes she pulled a newspaper. She held it open for me and I saw that it was the Sunday edition of the Daily Prophet. The banner headline read: DARK LORD POTTER?
“Oh bloody hell,” I said as I continued to read. ‘Potter abandons the light with Dark Rituals to increase his power’.
I really have no idea why I was surprised by this. After all, it was an even number year. It was time for the Wizarding world to believe me to be dark again.