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Getting Married in the Morning
Posted as it was betad by Kokopelli and Luan Mao (Many years ago). All remaining mistakes mine.
Thaddeus Nott strode toward the cavernous ballroom with slow and deliberate steps. He had so much to be happy about that he had to use Occlumency to hide his excitement.
With Lucius in Azkaban, he had the chance to become his Lord’s right-hand man, usurping the elder Malfoy. It was not a chance he would not spurn.
“My Lord,” Thaddeus called as he entered the cavernous ballroom of Malfoy Manor. Lord Voldemort was reclined upon a golden throne which was itself on a raised dais at the far end.
Nott walked past the rows of pews and paused where the Italian marble met the luxurious red carpet.
“Thaddeus,” Voldemort hissed. “You may approach.”
Thaddeus moved forward four steps and then genuflected deeply.
“My Lord,” Thaddeus began, successfully keeping his excitement down, “we have devised a way to strip the enemy of all of their assets, and completely destroy them. And we would be doing so legally.”
“Yes, My Lord. It would require a large sacrifice from your loyal servants, a sacrifice your servants are willing to make.”
“Explain, before I get bored,” Voldemort interrupted.
“Yes, My Lord. In short, Fudge has agreed with the research I presented that proves that the total number of wizards and witches have dropped significantly in the last hundred years. As such, a law would be signed that would enforce the marriage between a Pure-blood and one that doesn’t deserve the right of magic. We called it the Magical Protection Law.”
“I see,” Voldemort murmured. “Continue.”
“This marriage would, of course, enable the Pure-blood, with the superior heritage, family, and bloodline, to assume complete control over every aspect of the one with dirty blood. To the extent where the keeping of secrets would not be possible. Why, a Pure-blood could even command the Mud-blood to stop breathing. The Pure-blood would, of course, keep their family name even if they are female.
“This law is being sold to the moderates as a way of bringing the unworthy up to our level. Some of them even believe it would be a good thing.”
Voldemort’s forehead moved in what might have been a frown. “And this would be enforced how? I would expect all those affected to simply leave the country.”
“This is the best part, My Lord,” Thaddeus said eagerly. “We have devised a two-step plan. The first is an idea of yours that we have humbly adjusted.”
“Oh?” Voldemort asked dangerously.
Thaddeus continued hurriedly. “We use the same idea of the taboo that you placed on your name. However, instead of locating the person, we use magic against them if they perform certain acts – such as acting against their partners or refusing an order.”
“Such magic will require a large amount of power,” Voldemort pointed out, too evenly. “I hope you’re not suggesting that I use up most of my reserves powering this?”
“No, My Lord, we would never be so presumptuous. We have persuaded Fudge of the need to tie this into the Ley Lines under the Ministry, ensuring that the whole country is covered.”
“I see. And the second step?”
“As this will be an official law, I have discussed this with the filth at Gringotts. They will confiscate the entirety of the wealth of any who attempt to flee the country. They will do this for a thirty percent share.”
“What?” Voldemort demanded.
“Which I was happy to offer them because as soon as we’re done with the blood traitors, we will eradicate them.”
Voldemort paused and then nodded. “I see. Thaddeus, I find myself impressed by the depth of thinking behind this plan. Continue.”
“To ensure that certain people cannot marry the wrong sort, those unworthies who have family seats will be auctioned off in advance. That money will, of course, be funnelled directly to your efforts.”
“Potter?” Voldemort asked.
Thaddeus nodded hard. “Indeed. The Greengrass family are willing to sacrifice their younger daughter to the cause. She will hand over all the Potter assets to her family, and then bring him to you.”
Voldemort went silent for what seemed like an eternity. “There is no enforcement of consummation? I cannot see any Pure-blood wanting to sully themselves, or their children, so.”
Thaddeus shook his head. “There will be nothing enshrined in the law.”
“A simple majority is all that is needed. We will call the meeting the next time Dumbledore is on ICW duty. We will strike hard and be extremely persuasive to those that might protest. Of course, with the law so in favour of the Pure-bloods, not many will vote against it.”
“You have surprised me, Thaddeus,” Voldemort purred. “You may proceed.” He paused. “You have served me well.”
Thaddeus genuflected once more, before turning and heading out. As the doors shut behind him, he grinned and looked at the other senior Death Eaters. “Our Lord approves!”
There were a lot of pleased looks, as they retreated to the second ballroom and started to plan the final steps.
“There are far more unworthy than there are Pure-bloods,” Thaddeus raised as the first issue.
“Concubines,” Granville Parkinson grunted.
“Excellent,” Thaddeus agreed.
“This will make us unpopular when the proletariat read the new law.”
“Does it matter?” Malcolm Greengrass asked curiously. “They exist only to serve us. If they forget their place, they can be removed and their daughters married off.”
Thaddeus allowed a smirk to appear on his face. “Then we wait until Dumbledore is away, call an emergency meeting and push the vote through. The next ICW meeting is in ten days, so we have nine days to ensure that enough of the Wizengamot know just what a bad move it would be not to support this wonderful bill that will ensure the preservation of our glorious society.”
11 days later
Harry ran his fingers through his hair, hoping that his action would do something to hide the fact he’d hardly slept last night.
As he arrived at the Entrance Hall, he could hear sounds of horror from the Great Hall. He hurried forward, wondering what had gone wrong now. Dumbledore and Snape interrupted his entrance, almost bowling him over as they sped past and out the main doors to Hogsmeade.
Snape didn’t even slow his steps as he yelled, “Ten points from Gryffindor for blocking the doorway.”
Harry sighed, aware that it was going to be ‘one of those days’ already, and it was still early. He regained his balance and peered at the occupants of the Hall. To his left and straight ahead, the Gryffindors, Ravenclaws, and Hufflepuffs were – almost to a person – looking horrified and outraged.
To his right, the senior Slytherins were laughing, a vicious shallow laughter, full of triumph and with hateful undertones.
“The Headmaster will take care of this. He has to,” Hermione was insisting, loudly enough to be heard over the din. “He’ll make the Wizengamot overturn it. He has to.”
“Don’t worry, Granger, I’ll look after you,” Draco Malfoy jeered loudly. Hermione pulled out her wand and then dropped it. She waved her hand as if she’d just received an electric shock.
Malfoy and his lackeys roared in laughter.
The laugh, Hermione’s reaction, the look of helpless frustration on the face of the Professors, and Harry’s own lack of sleep meant that his reaction was not one he would have normally responded with. As normal when something bad was going on, Malfoy was in the thick of it, and he was clearly trying to goad people into reacting.
“Diffindo,” Harry spat irritably as he walked from the doorway to the Gryffindor table.
He'd been up most of the night doing pointless Defence homework for Snape and had no patience for the idiocy that was going on this morning.
His cutting curse burst from his wand, lanced through the Slytherin table, and appeared to catch Malfoy exactly where he had aimed – in the groin. There was a high-pitched squeal before the boy fainted.
The whole school went silent. A stunned silence, as people were not sure how to react. The feeling of imminent violence was in the air as if the whole school was just seconds away from a riot.
“Hey,” Ron said, “they can’t act against their spouses, but can against others.”
“What?” Harry asked.
There was a swift drawing of wands, starting with the non-Slytherin girls and spreading across the rest of the Great Hall.
“Students, stop this immediately!” McGonagall ordered. No one paid her any attention.
“Hold on a second,” Harry called. “Yoink,” he muttered as he stole Hermione’s copy of the Prophet. He quickly scanned through the front page. “I don’t think that your conclusion is quite right, Ron” he continued. “Let me read this again.”
His words caused a strange stillness to ripple out from him, starting with his friends and ending with the staff at the Head Table. Everyone in the Great Hall began watching his every movement with great intensity.
Harry finished reading the paper a second time. He folded it carefully and placed it next to Hermione’s plate. He reached out and grabbed a piece of toast before precisely spreading some jam over it. He took a bite that seemed overly loud in the tense silence.
“Wands down, eh?” he said after swallowing. The toast was exemplary, still warm, and the raspberry jam was his favourite. He continued to eat, now aware that he was the centre of attention, or if not him, then the wand resting two inches from his plate was. The Slytherins seemed too scared to move, lest they attract his attention and become his next target. The rest of the room, even at the Head Table, was watching him silently, waiting for him to continue.
“Harry?” Hermione asked softly.
Harry finished the toast and looked at her. “I’m deeply sorry, Hermione,” he apologised. “I appear to have gelded your future husband. As I was not stopped in doing so, I can only come to the conclusion that he was attempting to stop me in assisting in enforcing this wonderful law.”
Hermione raised both her eyebrows as she stared at him. “You have read the paper?” she checked.
“Yes, Hermione,” he replied dryly. “Including the law, the commentary on the law, and how my name features so prominently.”
“And you’re okay with this?”
He allowed a small smile to play over his features. “Of course, Hermione. The Ministry is good. The Ministry is fair. We all love the Ministry. I even love the implication, clear when I read between the lines, that my wife will be selected by auction.”
Ron giggled softly, and not at all in a way calculated to reassure anyone who feared an outbreak of murder and mayhem. “Yes,” he agreed. “We love the Ministry.”
“And we wouldn’t want to get in the way of the all-encompassing magic enforcing obedience,” Harry added. “Just look at what it did when you attempted to curse your future husband.”
“It was bad,” Hermione agreed. There was a light in her brown eyes that was slowly returning to normal as she looked at him.
Lavender Brown was watching them closely. “Just to be clear, you’re not going to fight this?”
Harry turned and gave her a full smile. “Of course not,” he agreed. “This is the law, Lav. I’d never break the law. I will do everything I can to ensure that the law is fulfilled to the very letter.”
“Of course,” she agreed and started to smile.
Harry stood abruptly, grabbed his wand, and headed over to the Ravenclaw table. It meant walking around the Seventh-year Gryffindors and in front of the silent Professors. “Luna, darling, how would you like to get married?”
“You can’t do that,” Daphne Greengrass broke the silence. “My family won--” She broke off when Harry absently waved his wand at her. She flew out of her seat and crashed into the wall before dropping down to the hard stone floor, clearly unconscious.
There was another intake of breath as everyone froze once more.
“You’re not really my type, Harry,” Luna replied. “You’re more the type I have a torrid affair with. I think that your morals would get in the way in the long run. I intend to be a complete freak in the sack.”
“That’s a great ambition,” Harry agreed, trying to stop himself from blushing.
“I know,” Luna agreed cheerfully.
“This idea of a torrid affair is even more of an incentive for me to get you hitched to your beloved yet-to-be-known partner.”
“I wasn’t really planning on getting married for a while.”
“I’ll pay for a full team to join you in Sweden, helping you find Crumple-Horned Snorkacks. And I’ll be one of them.”
“Yay!” Luna cheered. “Okay!”
“Excellent,” Harry beamed. “Let’s get you hitched.”
“Do I get to know the name of my husband?”
Harry looked at her curiously. He tilted his head. “Does it matter?”
Luna blinked back at him. “No,” she said after a few moments’ thought. “It doesn’t. How silly of me.” She looked down and checked her cork bracelet. “Strange, it normally protects me from wrackspurts.”
“The Ministry office opens at nine,” he said. “Let’s head out. I think you deserve to be at the front of the queue.”
“Just to be clear,” Luna said, “this isn’t a trick to marry me yourself?”
“Sadly, no,” Harry sighed. “I’ve read the law. From what the unconscious bitch was saying, I appear to be getting married to a member of the Greengrass family I’ve never met or heard of. I’m sure we’ll be utterly delighted to be together. After all, I’ve got dirty blood.”
“That’s very careless of you,” Luna pointed out with a smile. “You should try to clean it.”
“I know. But, as you’re an unmarried Pure-blood, it behoves me to ensure you are escorted to your new husband’s side, unmolested.”
“That is the law,” Luna agreed cheerfully.
“It’s such a pity that Malfoy and that Greengrass were trying to stop me from helping the law. Accio Firebolt,” Harry called. “We’ll fly down to the village and take the Floo.”
“Okay. I’ve wanted to ride your broomstick for ages.”
Harry grinned. “Just not on a permanent basis?”
“Oh, wait!” Harry said as he caught the broom. “I’ve forgotten about dear Draco!”
“He is bleeding a lot,” Luna pointed out.
“Yes, I should fix that!” He turned and casually split the Slytherin table in twain. Both parts separated, revealing the still unconscious boy. “Incendio,” he whispered. The bloom of flame and then the smell of burning flesh made Draco’s compatriots recoil in horror. “I’ve cauterised the wound and stopped the bleeding; he’ll definitely live now so he can still marry Hermione.”
“Did you know that cauterising wounds is never used as a treatment?” Luna asked. “It makes it impossible to reattach missing things.”
“Oh,” Harry said. “Sorry, Draco. You can blame my dirty blood for not knowing that such a Muggle technique isn’t used.”
“I don’t think he can hear you.”
“Nonsense, I’ve always been told that people in comas can hear what is going on.”
“He’s unconscious due to pain, not in a coma.”
“Oh. Live and learn.”
“Never mind,” Luna said brightly. “I can see that you don’t have any wrackspurts, so it was clearly an honest mistake.”
Harry nodded then grabbed his broom out of the air as it arrived and climbed on. “If this Greengrass is in the school – and not unconscious - I’ll be back in plenty of time for me to listen and obey your desires for your wedding.”
There was a soft whimper of dismay from further down the Slytherin table. Harry didn’t bother to look at her; she didn’t matter.
Harry rose into the air so that he could look at the Gryffindors. “I think that there’s safety in numbers today, eh?” He winked at Ron and Hermione. “Perhaps stay in the Great Hall for the day. Maybe make sure that no known Death Eaters or Death Eater sympathisers can interfere in Luna’s upcoming marriage? Make sure you keep in mind that you’re supporting the law, no matter what you do, and you’ll be safe from the enforcement magic.”
As one, every member of the Defence Association stood and pointed their wands at the Slytherins. They were quickly followed by the rest of the Gryffindors, and then the majority of the Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws. The Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs both had wands trained on some of their own as well.
“And don’t forget the Professors, although I’m sure that the ones in the room will not want anyone to stop Luna getting hitched.”
There was a small cough. “Quite right,” Flitwick agreed. His wand seemed to appear in his hand. “I’ve been a loyal citizen all my life, and I will continue to do my civic duty.”
There was a small movement, and Harry reacted. A disarming spell followed by a stunning spell exploded from his wand. Theodore Nott was the next to be thrown back against the wall, his breakfast bursting out and coating his Housemates.
“In my opinion, they don’t need wands for this supervised study of civic responsibilities,” Harry said to Flitwick and the students. “Wands might tempt them to break the law.”
“Expelliarmus!” some of the students who were pointing their wands at the suspected sympathisers yelled. Every person under wand guard was rendered wandless in seconds.
“Accio wands,” Flitwick yelled, causing all unattended wands to fly to him.
“Luna,” Hermione called.
“Congratulations on your marriage.”
“Thank you!” Luna chirped. “I’m so excited.” She looked down at herself. “I always imagined myself getting married in purple,” she said with a sad little pout.
Hermione looked at her watch. “We’ve got a few minutes, don’t we, Harry?”
Harry frowned. It would be cutting it a little closer than he wanted, but he nodded anyway. “Be quick.”
Luna squealed happily, as Hermione, Lavender and some girls from the three non-Slytherin Houses created a changing area in the corner. “Remember that we’ll need to go on a broom,” Harry called.
“Nutty,” Ron commented after a few seconds.
“Ron, as a guy, you’re supposed to think those thoughts, not say them. A wedding is a girl’s special day.”
“Pity the Ministry is ruining it,” Ron said with a sigh.
“Nonsense. I’m going to make sure Luna has a wedding that will go down in history. And we can thank the Ministry for this opportunity.”
“I will. I’m sure that you’ll make sure that they’ll remember today for as long as they live.”
“That’s the plan.” Harry climbed off his broom, borrowed a quill and took the time to fill in the necessary paperwork as he waited. It was fortunate that the Prophet had seen fit to print absolutely everything required.
The changing area rippled and then vanished. Hermione and Lavender were in the front. “Presenting Miss Luna Lovegood, on the day of her wedding,” Hermione announced with a smile.
Harry blinked a few times in surprise before he put his thumbs up. “Your husband’s going to be incredibly lucky.”
Luna blushed and looked down shyly. “I’m wearing Cho’s blue bra,” she announced. “So I have the something borrowed and blue in one. I’m wearing some old knickers, and this amazing dress is new.”
“You’re everything a bride should be,” Harry praised. “And your hair looks fantastic.”
“A unicorn tail,” Luna agreed, as she shook her head, causing the tail to sway neatly. She bounced over to him, the short hem of the purple dress flicking up as she did. The dress had a white bodice, with the word Snorkack embroidered in red text across it. Her arms and shoulders were bare, as were her legs under the short skirt. She finished the outfit with white trainers and ankle socks.
Harry offered Luna the front of his broom, only for Luna to straddle the broom as she faced him, clasped her arms and legs around him, and settled on his lap. “Ready,” she announced cheerfully.
Harry found himself distracted by the pretty witch in his lap before he shook himself and started to fly out. A couple of First-years had already opened the door for him. He accelerated, ignoring the happily squealing girl pressed tightly to him, and flew straight to Hogsmeade.
They entered the Three Broomsticks and ignored Madam Rosmerta as they headed straight to the Fireplace. Harry hovered with his broom as the fire turned green, and a second later they were on the way to the Ministry’s Floo entrance.
It took less than a second for Harry to gain control of the flight. It was the least unpleasant Floo ride he’d ever enjoyed, and he thought he should experiment to find out whether it was the broom or the short-skirted distraction which made it so.
They burst out of the Floo and Harry applied the brakes, keeping a firm hold on Luna. The Ministry flunky didn’t even look up. “Wand.”
“Stupefy,” Harry replied as he flew past, shaking his head as another person tried to stop him from helping to enforce the Ministerial law.
As they entered the elevator, Harry leaned back and lifted Luna’s chin so he could look into her pale eyes. “Luna, I know a marriage can be very exciting, do you mind if I cast a calming spell on you?”
“I trust you,” Luna replied with a disarming simplicity. “You won’t let me get hurt badly.”
“I promise.” He raised his wand and lightly tapped her on the forehead as he cast a calming charm.
Luna giggled. “Tickles.”
He pulled her back against him as they arrived at the fifth floor and entered the designated room. The room already had a series of old-looking wizards in a queue. They were stood behind a white line on the floor in front of a wooden roller shutter that was covering a polished wood desk. A flattering photo of Cornelius Fudge decorated the wall to the right.
Harry landed. Luna unclasped herself, looking regretful as she did so.
“Make way,” Harry ordered, as he headed to the front of the queue.
“You can’t marry her, Potter,” one man yelled. “You’re already engaged to my second daughter.”
From the commentary on the law this morning, it appeared this was the Greengrass who had been involved in the concubine addendum. “Diffindo, Stupefy,” Harry said absently. “How dare you accuse me of trying to subvert the law! That’s illegal! Miss Lovegood is a Pure-blood female and deserves to be at the front of the queue!” He paused. “Oh, yes, the bleeding. Incendio!”
The wizards all staggered back in shock, allowing for Harry to guide Luna to the front. As they arrived, the closed roller shutter shot open, revealing the pleased and overly-smug-looking face of Madam Umbridge.
“Luna Lovegood, Pure-blood, here to obtain her dirty-blooded husband, who is not me,” Harry said brightly.
Umbridge blinked. “You’re here escorting her?”
“As someone who believes in the Ministry, of course,” Harry agreed.
Harry handed it over. Umbridge looked through it and reluctantly nodded. “This is all in order.”
“Goody,” Luna cheered. “I’m married?”
Umbridge double-checked a large book carefully. She nodded. “Not a Pure-blood,” she agreed. She filled in some paperwork then stamped it a few times. Each stamp sent a rumble through the building.
“Congratulations, Mrs Lovegood, on your marriage to Tom Marvolo Riddle.”
Luna jumped up and down happily.
“Luna, you should call your darling husband so he can share the pleasure, before the next lucky couple start.”
“Yay. I have a name for him now. Tommy, I order you here!”
There was a localised noise as if a balloon were being stretched to the breaking point, before snapping back into place. The building seemed to strain in effort, a feeling of deep magic that came from the very depths of the Ministry building.
And suddenly it vanished. Tom Marvolo Riddle appeared next to Luna. Umbridge shrieked; the Pure-blood men started to panic as Voldemort raised his wand.
“He’s not very good looking,” Luna remarked. “But I suppose the lack of nose is kinda cute.”
“Who dares summon me?” Voldemort demanded. “Potter.” He pointed his wand at Harry. “Die.”
“I’m Luna Lovegood,” Luna said cheerfully. “I’m your new wife. And don’t point your wand at my friend, you bad Tom Lovegood.”
“What?” Voldemort demanded as his hand dropped down.
“You got married, Tom,” Harry said. “Congratulations. And between you and me, your bride is fricking hot!”
Luna giggled merrily.
“I’m sure Tom will want to express his happiness at getting married,” Harry suggested. “And will want all these Pure-bloods here to be as happy as he is.”
“Oh, yes,” Luna agreed. She wandered closer to Voldemort and took his hand. “Ooh, cold and scaly!” she cheered. “Why not have a quick celebration, Dear?” she suggested.
“Crucio,” Voldemort snarled. The curse hit the first Pure-blood and quickly spread to all of them, including Umbridge. They screamed as one, the noise deafening.
“I’m not sure they’re happy yet!” Harry shouted to Luna.
“More enthusiasm, Hubby,” Luna ordered.
The spell from Voldemort seemed to double in intensity. The Pure-bloods started to foam at the mouth.
“There we go,” Luna announced. “As you are my husband, I expect you to protect my feelings. Last year, she hurt them!” Luna pointed at the shaking Umbridge.
“Avada Kedavra!” Voldemort intoned.
Umbridge dropped dead. The room was silent.
“Diffindo,” Harry murmured. The official stamp that Umbridge had used split into two with a growl of magic.
“Luna, dear,” Harry said, “would you mind postponing your honeymoon for a few hours?”
“Well, not really, he does smell a bit, so he’s going to have to bathe before touching me any further.”
“Your suffering will be endless,” Voldemort hissed at Harry.
“Bad Hubby!” Luna retorted. “No threatening my friends! Now, apologise to Harry!”
Voldemort’s face went red, and he started to shake. The feeling of magic in the room grew and grew. Harry noticed Luna going pale and put his hand on her shoulder, enveloping her in his magic.
She relaxed under his touch, shooting him a look he couldn’t quite identify.
From a distance, there was a ping of magic, one that felt strangely familiar to Harry.
“I’m sorry,” Voldemort ground out through gritted teeth. He was panting and had a look of intense fear on his face. The words still seemed drawn out of him with the deepest reluctance.
“That’s better,” Luna said happily. “Now, you were saying, Harry?”
“The Wizengamot’s in session. I’m sure Tom wants to share the news of his marriage with the people that made it happen.”
Luna frowned. “That is boring, though.”
“We’ll get you some pudding?”
“Let’s go!” Luna cheered and pulled the unresisting Voldemort out of the office.
Harry paused by the door. He raised his wand and pointed it at the ministry office. “Incendio,” he murmured. For the first time, he allowed his anger at what had happened today to flow. The flames jumped out of his wand and flew through the open window and hit a cabinet.
Harry looked down at the moaning Pure-bloods on the floor. “Better get out of here before the fire consumes you,” he advised them in a conspiratorial tone of voice.
With his warning given and his conscience clear, he followed Luna to the elevator, and then down to the Wizengamot chambers.
As they moved, Ministry officials took one look at Voldemort and either fainted or ran away screaming.
“This is fun, isn’t it, Dear?” Luna said.
“Yes,” Voldemort hissed.
“Oh, phooey, it’s locked,” Luna said as she looked at the large entrance doors.
“Confringo,” Voldemort snarled. The doors exploded.
Harry moved in front of Luna so he could enter first. Dumbledore appeared to be in the middle of a rousing speech. He was looking incredibly annoyed and frustrated. Harry created some smoke behind him, blocking Luna and Voldemort from sight.
“What is the meaning of this?” Fudge yelled. “Aurors!”
Harry put his wand to his throat. “Sonorus. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Wizengamot. Presenting the first couple married under the new law. Lady Luna Lovegood, and her unworthy Husband, Tom Marvolo Lovegood, neé Riddle.”
Dumbledore’s eyes suddenly started to twinkle. The elderly wizard stepped back and took a seat. Harry met his eyes, to find him looking proud and extremely satisfied.
“That doesn’t excuse you entering a closed session,” Fudge blustered.
“That man is being rude to me,” Luna’s voice said sternly. “Tell him off!”
“Crucio,” Voldemort’s voice intoned. Fudge dropped to the floor as the couple entered the room, screaming himself hoarse.
There were screams of terror from the Wizengamot. In the front row was Thaddeus Nott, reported in the Prophet as the champion of the Marriage Law. He was frozen in place, his face a rictus of absolute horror.
“Oh, get up, it’s only a little Cruciatus,” Harry said to Fudge. “I had worse when I was fourteen.” He turned and blocked the entrance up with rubble, and then looked at Dumbledore. “My apologies for the interruption,” he said cheerfully. “Would you mind re-sealing the doors so that we can celebrate in private? Luna’s not the public sort.”
“I might be,” Luna interrupted. “Let’s not rule it out yet. Do you have a camera?”
“Of course, Mr Potter,” Dumbledore agreed, ignoring the young witch’s interruption with the ease of a long-term educator. His wand flashed out, and the rubble Voldemort had created glowed a solid gold colour as the door re-formed better than new.
“Dobby,” Harry called. The House-elf popped in, looked at Voldemort in surprise, and then shrugged. “Can you fetch Luna an extra-special banana split? One with three cherries and some blackberry sauce?”
“Of course, Mr Great Harry Potter,” Dobby agreed.
“My favourite!” Luna squealed happily. “You need to pay as much attention to my likes as Harry does,” she added to Tom, elbowing him firmly in the stomach.
“Can I borrow some of your husband’s property?” Harry asked Luna.
“Of course. Tom, Harry’s allowed to borrow any of your toys. And Tom, Harry doesn’t like to be interrupted. We’ve learned that at Hogwarts. Please take the opportunity to teach anyone who interrupts in the Wizengamot that lesson.”
Voldemort looked very eager to punish the people who got him into this predicament.
Harry waved his wand. “Right, Tom’s toys, with me. We’re going to serenade the happy couple. Follow the music, sing the words that appear on the wall. And do try to keep it in tune.
“This one’s for you, Luna! And a one, and a one, and a one, two, three!”
Harry waited for the right beat and made the words appear.
“I come home in the morning light. My mother says when you gonna live your life right.”
From the Wizengamot, thirty voices joined in, sounding awful. As they got to the chorus, Harry called, “Just Nott!”
Nott’s voice sounded like he was being strangled, as he sang, “ That’s all they really want. Some fun. When the working day is done, oh girls, they wanna have fun. ”
Harry let the music drop as the song finished.
“Oh, Harry,” Luna said, from where she had tears running down her face. “That was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard,” she sobbed. She elbowed Voldemort firmly in the stomach once more.
Voldemort’s face was a mask of pure anger. He said nothing. Luna nudged him again. There was another magical pinging sensation, only this time it was incredibly close. Harry felt the magic all the way from his feet to his head, and he dropped to his knees and gasped as he felt the skin on his forehead split. He suddenly felt a lot lighter. He ran his hand over his forehead and looked at the black blood with disgust. He conjured a handkerchief and stood and didn’t relax until the blood turned red shortly before he stopped bleeding.
“It was wonderful!” Voldemort exclaimed suddenly, the look of fear back on his face.
“Right,” Harry said, as he shook himself. He cleaned the blood from his forehead and smiled. Dobby popped in and handed Luna a large plate. “Tom,” Harry hissed. “A chair for your wife.”
Voldemort created a large throne for Luna immediately.
“Thank you, Dear,” Luna said as she sat down and started to eat her banana split with gusto.
“Now,” Harry said. “Presents for the bride and groom next.”
“Yay!” Luna cheered.
“Thaddeus, you can be first,” Harry said enthusiastically. “Front and centre, old boy.”
Thaddeus’ face was mottled with fury and fear. He kept twitching, but his wand-arm wouldn’t move. “Now. Luna’s a Pure-blood witch, with lots of friends, so she doesn’t need much.”
“Except a Snorkack,” Luna interrupted.
“True,” Harry agreed. He peered at Thaddeus, “Do you have a Snorkack?”
“Damn you, Potter,” Thaddeus spat.
“Nope? Then I’m sure you’ll be delighted to swear that ninety percent of your family’s wealth will be bequeathed to a charity controlled by me, on your magical death,” Harry said.
Thaddeus’ hands twitched again and again. The feeling of magic in the room started to grow and grow.
“Crucio,” Voldemort spat. Thaddeus screamed and screamed, as the curse seemed even more powerful than the earlier ones Harry had watched Voldemort use.
“That’s enough, Dear,” Luna said around a mouthful of banana.
Thaddeus was curled up on the floor, his robes drenched, and judging by the odour, it was not just sweat pooled under him.
“I promise,” Thaddeus croaked. “On my magic.”
“Excellent.” Harry stared at Thaddeus for a long moment. “Chief Warlock, was that enough for his new will to be recorded?”
“Absolutely. Most of Thaddeus’ estate will go to charity as controlled by you. I have some good causes in mind, if I may offer some assistance?”
“I couldn’t think of anyone better or more incorruptible to act as overseer,” Harry said cheerfully. “Now, Thaddeus, you clearly don’t need your magic anymore. Swear on your magic never to use magic again.”
“What?” Thaddeus demanded.
“He’s hard of hearing,” Luna mentioned. “Probably all the cursing he likes to do. Tommy, I like Harry’s idea, make it happen.”
Voldemort stepped forward and grabbed Thaddeus’ arm, revealing the tattoo. He pressed his fist against it, and Thaddeus once more started to scream.
Voldemort stepped away as Thaddeus fell to the ground. “He has no magic.” His tone was one of great satisfaction.
“Clap for me,” Luna snapped at Tom. “I’ve got my hands full with pudding.”
Voldemort clapped once.
“Happier than that.”
With a deep shudder, Voldemort clapped a few more times. The expression on his face was murderous.
“If I may,” a voice from the Wizengamot called.
“Crucio,” Voldemort snarled. The hatred in the curse could be felt around the chamber. The Wizengamot member started frothing at the mouth before he collapsed.
“Now then,” Harry said, as he conjured himself a comfier seat. “Granville Parkinson, you’re next.”
“No,” Granville whimpered. “Not this, you can’t, I’m a Lord.”
“All of Tom’s toys are going to celebrate the marriage of Luna and the inferior-blooded Tom,” Harry said. “You co-wrote the law, so you know this is entirely legal. Oh, and word of advice? I’ve seen what happens when someone tries to interfere with the marriage law. If you have a choice between that and Tommy’s Cruciatus, I suggest you take the Cruciatus.” He was careful not to say that his suggestion was not in Parkinson’s best interest. “Dobby, can I get a butterbeer? And maybe one for Dumbledore?”
Dobby popped in and handed Harry a bottle, then popped up to Dumbledore who had his feet up and a smile on his face.
Harry swung his feet up as well. “Actually, Dobby, could you get Luna and me a book? This is always the boring part of the wedding.”
Through two short but entertaining novels, Harry paid scant attention as each wizard or witch was summoned in turn, was tortured into swearing most of their fortune to charity, and then had his or her magic drained.
He took the opportunity to stun each person as soon as they were turned into a Squib, not even looking up from the current page. As they collapsed, he floated them into a new line and made sure they were bound, kneeling, with magical rope.
When the second-to-last was done, Harry looked up. “Tom, use the last to summon your remaining Death Eaters. Let’s get this over with.”
“Chop to it,” Luna called. “I’m getting bored.” She stretched. “I want a nap.” She headed over and sat on Harry’s lap, before snuggling into his chest. “Until further notice, you do Harry’s orders as if they came from me.”
Voldemort growled and roughly grabbed the last follower. Fifty more men and women appeared. Some of the men from the marriage office were amongst them, looking rather singed. Severus Snape and Lucius Malfoy – looking bewildered at his sudden freedom from Azkaban – were amongst them.
Harry looked up at Dumbledore, who didn’t look up from his paper.
“Keep them silent, Tom. You know the drill.” Harry called as he started to stroke Luna’s back. He felt her fall asleep a few moments later. “You can keep Bellatrix for last.”
It took another hour for the fifty people to be processed. Without the ability to speak, the remaining Death Eaters made pleading gestures that Harry ignored by reading his book. The look of abject terror on their faces was starting to get to him, but each time it did, he reminded them that they’d set his best friend to be raped, tortured and killed. And that same threat applied to every child in the land who wasn’t a Pure-blood. The scum who had made it happen deserved no mercy.
He didn’t notice when Snape was processed, nor anyone else.
As Bellatrix was the last, he paid attention again. He sat up, Luna moving herself to keep herself comfortable. Bellatrix had clearly been crying. He met her eyes and, with a degree of reluctance, she stood herself proud and nodded at him.
She pointed to her throat. Harry nodded at Tom.
“I, Bellatrix Lestrange, hereby swear on my magic never to use my magic again.”
There was a flash of light, and Bellatrix lowered her eyes.
“I hate you,” Harry said softly. “But I respect your courage. The only one of your cohort to do so. As such, you are technically still magical. Unlike the rest of the Squibs.” Harry pointed to row after row off now-kneeling ex-Death Eaters. They all had their heads bowed and were under a silencing spell.
Harry found the distinctive vulture hat of Madame Longbottom in the audience and briefly winked at her.
“Now then,” Harry said as Bellatrix moved to the side and sat down. “I’m sure Tom’s still feeling delighted at his wedding and is still willing to share the fun.”
“Indeed,” Voldemort muttered.
“Professor, could you call for a vote of no confidence in Fudge?”
“Hmm?” Dumbledore asked as he looked up from what Harry could now identify as the Guardian newspaper. “Oh, yes. Quick vote, majority decision,” he said absently. “Green for no confidence, red for Fudge keeping his job.” He raised his wand, and it glowed green.
Harry looked around and was pleased to see no one had a wand that was showing red.
“Fudge, you’re fired,” Dumbledore said cheerfully. “And you’re under arrest.”
Fudge started to shout protests from the seat he occupied, which belonged to the Minister of Magic.
Harry spun his wand up and cast Stupefy as hard as he could. Fudge flew out of his seat, bounced on the hard-wooded wall behind him and fell forward, over the railing and down onto the marble beneath it. The lack of blood suggested he survived. Maybe. Harry couldn’t be bothered to go and check and using magic to do so seemed like such a waste.
Harry rolled his shoulder, as Luna murmured, “Yes, take me you beast!”
Harry decided he didn’t want to know what she was dreaming about. Or maybe he did, but not right now.
“Three more things, and I can get back to school,” Harry announced. “I’ve got a Transfiguration lesson this afternoon I wouldn’t want to miss.”
“Indeed, the opportunity to learn from a true mistress of her field is not to be missed,” Dumbledore approved. “What is your first item?”
“Let’s have each of the Wizengamot members who voted for this amazing law, that’s allowed Luna to have her wonderful wedding, stand up and swear on their magic that they were forced into voting for it.”
“An excellent idea,” Dumbledore said. “I swear that I was not informed of the vote, and I would not have voted for it in a million years.” He smiled. “Right, you first,” he pointed to one.
“I have a name,” the man replied.
“Don’t care,” Dumbledore replied as he picked up the paper again and opened the travel section.
Twenty of the remaining Wizengamot members were unable to swear the oath. Or refused to. “Tom, mark them so that you can remove their magic.”
The protestations from the twenty were vociferous. And loud, though their protests quickly turned to screams. Voldemort’s wand was already flying, and they were immediately tortured into silence.
The process of giving the Dark Mark was horrific. Harry was glad that Luna wasn’t awake to watch it. To ensure she wouldn’t wake up suddenly and lose another slice of innocence, he carefully cast a sleeping charm on her.
The fact that so many people had voluntarily agreed to let themselves be treated to such an abysmal punishment was as incredible as it was terrifying.
There were only fifty-five people left in the Wizengamot when Tom had finished.
“Now,” Harry said. “Chief Warlock, perhaps a vote you were aiming for earlier?”
“All those for ending this utterly ridiculous Marriage Law?” Dumbledore asked without looking up from the sports section, as his wand turned green once more.
After only a few moments the outcome was obvious. “By the power invested in me, I announce that that Ministry Law on the Marriage of people of Mixed Blood to be no more.”
Voldemort’s wand whipped out, pointing directly at Harry. He yelled, “Avada Kedavra.”
There was another magical ping as Voldemort collapsed to his knees. Voldemort’s curse did not appear.
“It wasn’t retroactive, Tom,” Dumbledore pointed out. “I ended the law; I didn’t void it.”
“What is that feeling of magic?” Harry asked Voldemort.
Tom looked to be struggling not to answer until another magical sensation started to grow. With a defeated look, he said, “My Horcruxes being destroyed as the law tries to kill me.”
Harry wasn’t sure what a Horcrux was, but he could make the obvious link between them and Voldemort not being dead, a deduction confirmed by Dumbledore’s quickly-controlled reaction to the word. “How many do you have left?”
“None. I don’t suppose you’d let me live happily with my darling wife?”
“Your blood isn’t worthy, Tom,” Harry said. “I read the law.”
Voldemort stood at his full height. He nodded to Harry. He looked at his ex-followers. “Crucio,” he spat. The curse that came out was a red so dark it appeared black, and it hit each of the new Squibs individually.
Their faces twisted into grotesque masks of pain under the silencing charm.
“Stop that,” Harry said softly.
The magic grew one last time, before Tom’s form slowly seemed to fall apart. Shadows appeared from the floor; they seemed to catch Voldemort and dragged him down through the floor. When the shadows faded, all that they left behind were a hand, a bone, and a small puddle of blood that Harry vanished.
Harry gently eased Luna down onto the couch, as he stood and addressed the remaining members of the Wizengamot. He ignored the Squibs rolling out in agony behind him.
“The next time I am in here, I fully expect to see a Wizengamot that is representative of the people. And a Ministry that works and promotes on individual merit, not on something as useless as blood.” He took a deep breath. “Because if I have to come here again, I won’t be so nice.”
He made sure his Firebolt was shrunken in his pocket, then turned and picked Luna up in a fitting style for the day, her head lolling onto his shoulder as she snored cutely. “Professor Dumbledore?”
“Albus,” Dumbledore responded. “You will definitely call me that from now on. Thank you, Harry. You’ve done something truly incredible today.”
“I’ve also made a happy bride a widow,” Harry said with a sigh. “I need to get back to school so I can break the news to her gently.”
Albus tossed his paper at Harry. It landed on Luna’s lap, and Harry felt the expected hook behind his bellybutton as he was tugged through space. He landed unsteadily but managed to keep his balance and his hold on Luna.
As he touched down, a roar of noise physically pushed him backwards. He realised after a few seconds that it was the sound of cheering.
Then the chanting of his name reached deafening volume before Flitwick and McGonagall made a loud banging noise.
“Erm, what?” Harry asked.
“The Wizengamot hearing was being broadcast live,” Flitwick explained. “We all heard that the egregious law was repealed, and you defeated He Who Must Not Be Named and the Death Eaters.”
There was another roar of approval from the majority of the students.
“Not to mention,” Flitwick’s voice climbed over the roar, “instigated massive root and branch reform of the Wizengamot and the Ministry, as well as devastated the entrenched block of Pure-bloods that enabled the rise of Voldemort.”
“Also, Harry,” McGonagall called, “I’m of the opinion that you are allowed to miss today’s lesson.”
Harry chuckled softly. “I suspect that when I slow down, I’m going to realise what I’ve just done,” he admitted. “And I think I’ll need a bit of space to work through it. But before I do, I need to disappoint Luna. Can I have a chair for her?”
A large, comfy chair appeared in front of him, a conjuration masterpiece by McGonagall. Harry placed Luna down and knelt before her, then cancelled the sleeping spell on her. “Luna,” he called.
She stretched like a kitten and wiped her eyes. Harry had to struggle from lowering his eyes, although his peripheral vision did note that her ‘old’ knickers were bright orange in colour. “Tom?” she asked, as she straightened and her legs lowered themselves back onto the couch.
“I’m sorry, Luna,” Harry said. “I’ve ruined your wedding day. Tom decided he didn’t like living as a slave.”
“How strange,” Luna murmured. “He seemed so happy to be married to me.”
“Anyone would be incredibly lucky to marry a witch as incredible as you,” Harry said as he leant forward and kissed her forehead. “Your bravery was instrumental in defeating Voldemort and freeing us all from that law.”
“I got pudding,” Luna pointed out. “And a nice dress. And I looked as hot as a Heliopath.”
“You’re amazing, Luna. Don’t ever change.”
“If I changed, I wouldn’t be Luna.” She paused. “Does this mean I can’t cheat on Tom with you?”
He nodded. “Tom’s dead.”
Luna pouted massively before grabbing him and locking him into a kiss that possibly introduced the younger students to the benefits of puberty. “The bride is entitled to a kiss on her wedding day,” she whispered as she pulled back.” She studied him for a long moment, before smiling softly. “Go, get your balance back.”
“Thank you, Luna,” he whispered. He turned and enlarged his broom, mounted it in one movement and flew out. He headed outside of Hogwarts, and then up to the roof. He hopped off and sat on one of the tooth-shaped parapets and let his legs dangle.
Harry sighed and cast a warming charm. He looked out and over the Great Lake and slowly allowed himself to relax. And as he did, he started to shake and then he started to cry. First, he dealt with the horror and anger he had felt as he had read the ridiculous law that the Prophet had so slavishly reported on.
Then he dealt with the guilt over what he’d done to the instigators of the ridiculous law. He had a suspicion that the looks of horror on their faces would never truly fade from his memory.
“Good evening Harry. Room for one more?”
Harry looked up to see Dumbledore floating on an old Cleansweep broom. He shifted to the left. Dumbledore flew over his head and then sat next to him.
“Professor Snape?” Harry asked.
Dumbledore sighed softly. “He knew but didn’t warn me. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…” Albus’ voice trailed off. “To be honest, I kept him around because he was useful for the fight against Tom. He was a tiresome fellow at the best of times.”
Harry chuckled. “So, once the new Wizengamot is in place, just the Headmaster?”
“Yes, I think so. I need to concentrate on one thing from now on and make it great. Not spread my efforts across many and only be good.”
“The procedure to receive the Dark Mark was horrific.”
“Yes,” Dumbledore said sadly. “I had no idea it was so bad.” There was a pause. “I’m incredibly proud of you, you know. You managed to solve all the problems with great alacrity.”
“Umbridge was killed by Tom,” Harry stated. “And I destroyed the Ministry records for the marriages.”
“Yes, a useful bit of arson, that. By destroying the stamp, you also crippled the Ministry’s ability to power spells by tying them to the Ley Lines, at least until they rediscover how to make the stamp. As my last act before leaving the Ministry building today, I had a word with the chief Unspeakable and arranged for research into a replacement to be side-tracked.”
“Yes, I quite agree. I had no idea that was still possible. I would investigate and punish the Ministry members who concealed this capability from Wizengamot oversight, but everyone responsible seems to have become a squib in the past few hours.”
“After you had left, we passed a few more laws I’ve meant to pass for a while. The main one being that slander and libel are now illegal, and the fines most punishing.”
“You can be very vicious,” Dumbledore said without rancour.
“When I am protecting the people I love,” Harry agreed. “Hermione and I might have been a little distant this year, and with Ron sucking face with Lavender we barely talk, but they are still my best friends.”
“And Miss Lovegood?”
“I needed someone who would trust me,” Harry said softly. “And who was strong enough to go through today. Luna was remarkable.”
“She was,” Dumbledore agreed. “She has received two hundred points, a special award for School Services, and an Order of Merlin, First Class.”
“Good,” Harry agreed.
“She was most upset. Until I told her that you were getting two hundred and fifty points, the same award, and the Order of Merlin, First Class. Filius and Minerva told me about how you managed to stop a riot, with no casualties.”
“Except for Malfoy’s ability to procreate.”
“I think we can agree that nothing of value was lost,” Dumbledore chuckled. “A most vexing family.”
Harry chuckled as well.
“And how you managed to get all the decent people on your side with little difficulty. I peeked, with her permission, at Minerva’s memories of the event. You were a leader, Harry. Not to mention rather terrifying in a way that Tom never managed. One that spoke of problems for people who supported that ridiculous excuse of legal doctrine.”
Harry chuckled once more. “It was good toast and inspirational jam.” He paused. “The law was entirely based on intentions, not actions. I convinced myself that Malfoy’s taunting was stopping me from ensuring that Luna got married. It worked.”
Dumbledore laughed. “It did, extraordinarily well. And yet you are up here, watching the sunset.”
“I didn’t realise I’d been here quite that long,” Harry mumbled. “I’m trying to make sense of today.”
“Today, ninety-eight percent of the population needed you. A population that was already planning a full-blooded revolution because of that idiotic, poorly written fertiliser. You stood up and took that responsibility. You laid down the foundations of a new government. And you got yourself an amazing job.”
“Yes,” Harry chuckled. “I’m going to need a lot of help with that.”
“If we could start with orphanages, that would be a grand start. Tom was in one and was mistreated. He blamed himself, and me, for it.”
Albus sighed. “I’m not good at listening. And I don’t listen when something is said that I don’t want to hear.”
Dumbledore gave a brief laugh. “Yes,” he agreed. “You’ve obviously noticed.” He smiled. “That’s why I’m happy to help you this time. You do listen.”
“I try. I hope people were scared about the Dark Mark.”
“Good. Those that fancy revolution via terrorism should be aware of what they are getting into.”
“Yes. That alone would have set back the cause for numerous years. And the fact it left them vulnerable to having their magic stolen will scare everyone away.”
“I hope so.”
“Bellatrix Lestrange is now a Squib.”
“I didn’t think she’d last long.”
“Augusta cast a spell, Bellatrix tried to protect herself. Bellatrix was the one responsible for Neville’s parents, of which Frank was Augusta’s son.”
“I know,” Harry replied. “I left her for Madame Longbottom.”
Dumbledore seemed to pause. “Politically, that was an incredibly smart move. Not only did it make you look incredible to the press, but it also gave you an influential member of the Wizengamot who was almost fanatical about making sure your desires for the Wizengamot comes true.”
“I did it because Neville needed some closure.”
“And he has received it.”
They were silent for a while.
“What is happening to them?” Harry asked.
“The Squibs? We fed them some potions to help with the torture and then interrogated a few of them under Veritaserum. There will be trials for all of them, where the due process will be followed.”
“Never mind, eh?”
Dumbledore smiled. “Quite. Some of the answers we received were a bit scary, not to mention that some of the Goblins showed themselves to be untrustworthy. They were willing to confiscate vaults for a high percentage of the value seized. We summoned some of their senior personnel and presented them with the evidence we gathered. We have been promised a swift resolution.” The Headmaster shrugged. “The Goblins involved will be executed; it will save face and allow for us to push through a new treaty. They will be desperate to avoid competition or annoying you, so they will sign it, and things will improve.”
“Financially, you’re probably the most important person in the country right now. The amount you garnered today for the charity is mind-blowing.”
Harry took a deep breath. “We’ll need to organise a bunch of people, give them specific areas of interest to consider.”
“That is a good start.”
“Just a start, on a huge job in front of me.”
“The thing to think about, Harry, is that your future is now free. You’ve got the rest of your life in front of you and the ability and courage to do anything you want.”
Harry felt himself smile. “I guess I do,” he agreed. “I’ve felt better since the scar in my head vanished.”
“We were going to discuss that this year,” Dumbledore said. “I can’t tell you how happy I am that the problem is resolved.”
“Yeah,” Harry agreed. “I feel better now. I don’t think I’ll ever forget.”
“No one will.”
“But they started it. Those Death Eaters and their Pure-blood associates tried to send a bunch of my friends to hell. I returned the favour.”
“A good way of looking at it.”
“Am I going to face any legal repercussions?”
“One member of the Wizengamot did suggest it,” Dumbledore chuckled. “Your new friend spent five minutes berating him and then called for his expulsion. He left in disgrace a minute later.”
“I did castrate Malfoy and the elder Greengrass.”
“I’ve heard that Malfoy was an accident. And the elder Greengrass is a Squib. We voted, and you were pardoned for your little act of arson. And everything else you did was perfectly legal. Per the law they signed, Tom was responsible for everything, despite the fact he was acting under your or Miss Lovegood’s orders.”
“Yes, I noticed that when I read the law this morning.”
“I confess that this is the first time that I’ve been so delighted for their rashness, incompetence, short-sightedness, and arrogance. Now, what say we head for dinner? I do believe the House-elves are making chicken pie and mash.”
“What a remarkable coincidence.”
Harry laughed. “Come on then, old man.” He reached back and grabbed both brooms. He handed the Cleansweep to Dumbledore, and they both flew down to the entrance to Hogwarts.
“Ready for the rest of your life?”
“Nope,” Harry replied. “I’ll just take each day as it comes.”
“An outstanding idea. Now, do you want me to protect you from the people who are not happy?”
Harry laughed softly. “I think I’ll metaphorically ram the truth down their throats until they’re sick of it.”
They entered the school, and then the Great Hall. The noise level was high and excited. Harry smiled as a First-year girl was the first to notice them, then tensed as a second later she was hugging his waist. “Thank you!” she exclaimed quietly. “I’m a Muggle-born, I was on the list!”
Harry smiled down at the innocent face. “You are very welcome, my dear.”
She beamed up at him and hugged him again.
“Potter!” Pansy Parkinson’s voice screeched. It focused all the attention on him.
Harry looked at Dumbledore and winked. The Headmaster shook his head in amusement and headed off toward the staff table, clearly leaving the clueless student to her fate. The rest of the students seemed to settle in for some more entertainment.
“You bastard,” Pansy spat, as she stormed over toward him.
“Stupefy!” Six different people yelled the curse.
Harry raised a shield as Pansy went completely white. “I swear that the Sixth-year Slytherins were only Sorted into Slytherin because everywhere else was full. They are about as cunning as…” he paused as he tried to think of something that lacked any cunning at all, but not even the stupidest animal could sink to the standard set by the Slytherins he’d seen.
“An ostrich?” the First-year suggested. “Aren’t they the animals that like to bury their heads in the ground?”
“Sadly, that’s a myth,” Harry said. “What’s your name?”
“Nice to meetcha, Jenny,” he said to the Hufflepuff girl. She beamed up at him, showing slightly uneven teeth. “The problem I have is that even the stupidest animal quickly learns not to do something when it turns bad every single time.”
“Potter,” Parkinson hissed.
Jenny moved and punched her in the stomach. Parkinson coughed and looked stunned, she clutched her stomach and turned red, as she started to struggle for breath.
“Jenny, you can’t punch her like that,” Harry scolded.
Jenny pouted up at him. “But her father was one of the ones that voted, and according to the list, was trying to get me as a conca… concu… mistress! I’m only eleven!”
“No, come here.” Harry crouched down and took her hand. “You’ve got to tuck your thumb under your knuckles, or you might break your fingers. When you punch, you try and make a straight line between your wrist and your arm, so you don’t hurt your wrist. And when you hit, you swivel your body into it, so that you get more power.”
He held up his hand like a target. “Try again.”
Jenny stuck her tongue out of the corner of her mouth as she made the most adorable expression of concentration Harry had ever seen. She punched his hand, making a slapping sound that was quite loud.
“As you punch, twist your back foot and move into the punch.”
She nodded, bounced, and did it again. Harry shook his hand dramatically, miming more pain than he felt.
“Yay,” Jenny cheered, before turning and punching Pansy again, this time knocking her over.
“Now, violence isn’t normally the answer, but in similar circumstances, or your protecting yourself or your friends, it is allowed.”
Jenny nodded hard.
“Sit down, Sweetie, while I find out what she wanted.”
“Why bother? It will just be boring ranting as she avoids responsibility,” Jenny pointed out.
“I know, but maybe if we debate it in public, it will mean I only have to have this conversation once.”
“Oh!” She gave him another hug, and then hopped and skipped back to the Hufflepuff table.
Harry conjured himself a tall stool, put a foot on the first rung and swung himself up. He perched comfortably as he waited for Pansy to recover. He didn’t offer any help.
Pansy glared at him as she struggled to her feet.
“Now,” Harry said, “you were calling into doubt the circumstances of my well-publicised birth?”
Pansy looked bewildered.
“Definitive proof that she couldn’t be Ravenclaw,” Padma Patil called, sotto voce . There was some muted laughter.
Harry sighed. “You were calling me a bastard. I presume you had a follow-up point or were you just being particularly insulting and at the same time opening yourself up to a lawsuit that would eliminate what little money your family still has?”
Pansy stood tall. “You ruined my family.”
“No, your family was ruined by your father’s support for the Half-blood Tom Marvolo Riddle, and his helping push through the sort of law that was unprecedentedly horrific in world politics.” He paused and stared at her. “Every single thing I did was legal. Legal because of the law that your father helped to write. And the very fact that you can stand here, in front of hundreds of boys and girls who were going to be forced into marriages against their will – in front of the eleven-year-old who your father wanted as a slave – and protest as if you are the victim shows what a foul and loathsome wretch you are. Stupid, too, if you don’t think that any of the people around you won’t take offence and take it out on you.”
Pansy paled, looked around for support and, finding none, turned and sprinted out of the Great Hall.
Harry looked up at the other Slytherins he knew so well. Malfoy was missing, but the rest were there. None of them looked up at him. He shook his head and turned to face the rest of the school.
A Ravenclaw’s hand shot up immediately. He was probably a Second or a Third-year. Harry nodded at him. “My uncle was one of the ones that got done,” he said. “And I’m really happy about that, but he was paying my fees here, and I’m really concerned about next year. What’s going to happen to my sister and me?”
Harry paused. The phrase ‘unexpected consequences’ went through his mind. “The charity I am in control of will pay the fees for all affected students if the family cannot do so.”
That was clearly a popular decision, judging by the cheer Harry received. He raised his hand. “There will be a few conditions, that you work hard, and stay out of trouble. Is that acceptable?”
The boy smiled massively at him. “Yes, Sir.”
“Just Harry.” He looked around. “Any more questions?”
There was a movement from the middle of the Slytherin table. A dark-haired girl walked nervously to the front of the Hall. She paused, and then curtseyed deeply to him, and stayed down.
“Please, stand,” Harry said. He slipped off the stool.
“Mr Potter, may I please draw my wand so that I can swear to my truthfulness?”
“Harry,” Harry said automatically, and then nodded.
The girl pulled out her wand. “I swear, on the blood of those I hold dear, including my own, that I planned to use my marriage to you to escape from my horrific family, and that I would have never exercised the outrageous authority granted to me in a marriage I did not want nor am ready for.”
Her wand lit up briefly.
Harry smiled at her. “Miss Greengrass, I take it.”
She smiled shyly and nodded. “Astoria, my name is Astoria. Please, can I beg asylum with you? My father was merely one of many who believed their irrational dogma. I am not alone in this situation, and others would benefit from a safe, less aggressive, place to abide.”
“I will work with Professor Dumbledore to ensure that any student in a similar circumstance has a refuge. I quite like the idea of hiring some teachers and running a summer school while our current professors enjoy their well-earned break, concentrating on practical skills – Quidditch, cooking, music, acting, repair charms, et cetera – for anyone who wants it.”
There was a huge cheer of approval from the students, surprisingly not just from the Ravenclaws.
Astoria curtseyed deeply again. “Thank you,” she whispered. She turned and walked off.
“Astoria,” he called. She paused, turned, and looked at him inquiringly. “Courage, intelligence, and loyalty. And the subtlety to plan your own escape. You have shown that while you are Slytherin, you would have been a credit to any house.” He raised his hands and applauded. To his surprise, most of the students joined in, and Astoria blushed deeply again. She curtseyed once more and hurried back to the anonymity of her seat.
“Astoria,” he called again just before she could sit down. At her attentive look, he continued, “I’m not looking for a wife or a girlfriend, but I am always looking for new friends.”
Her smile was much brighter this time.
“Over the next few months,” he paused, “Professor Dumbledore –”
Dumbledore coughed loudly, causing a tennis-like effect on the students as their heads turned to look at the headmaster. “That’s the second time, Harry. I believe I made something clear earlier?”
Harry groaned. “It sounds weird in my head.” He took a deep breath as the students looked back to him. “Albus and I will be fleshing out the initial plan for the new charity. During this period, if you have any ideas, please take them to your prefects.” He paused for a second. “Any prefect,” he clarified, “not just the prefects of your individual houses.” The students looked at each other and whispering started.
“And I’m done. Let’s get on with dinner.” He headed to the side and managed seven steps before he had to turn and catch a flying blonde.
“I’ve had four boys ask me out,” Luna stated as he placed her on the floor.
He met her pale silver eyes and smiled at her. “That’s great, Luna,” he told her. He held her gaze for a long moment.
Luna was silent for a few seconds as she stared back at him. A flash of sadness flickered through her eyes before it cleared and her eyes shined brighter. “You’re going to threaten them to treat me right, right?”
“Of course,” he agreed.
“Yay!” she cheered. “Today’s a great day. I got married, I got pudding, I got my first kiss, I got widowed, and now I’ve got a big brother.”
“It’s not ended up bad,” Harry agreed with a soft laugh.
Luna reached up and kissed him on the cheek. “You’re awesome, Harry,” she whispered. “I kinda wish I hadn’t said that not-forever thing earlier, but you’ve got such a future in store for you.”
“A future that you will always be in,” Harry whispered back. He pulled her into a tight hug. “You were amazing, Luna, I will make sure no one ever forgets what you’ve done for this country.” He released her slowly.
Luna’s smile lit up the Great Hall. She turned and tripped theatrically, catching herself on her hands. She thrust her bum high into the air toward him and shook it a few times before she levered herself up. She shot him a cheeky grin over her shoulder and skipped merrily back to her seat. As she was still in the cheerleading outfit that doubled as her wedding dress, her bouncing got a lot of male attention.
Harry made his way up to the Gryffindor table, shaking his head to clear out the inappropriate thoughts. He took his seat, nodded at Hermione, nudged Ron and settled down for food. It felt good not to be the centre of attention, and he sent silent thanks to his new sister for her display. He noticed Ginny give him a smile he’d never quite seen from her before, and after a second’s thought, he met her smile with the same expression he’d given Luna.
Ginny paled and looked down at her plate.
He met Hermione’s eyes. She was studying him intently. “You’ve changed.”
“Well,” Ron said, “That’s hardly a surprise, considering what you pulled off today. The twins are going to make you their new god, and I’m pretty much with them. Some of the things the wireless was describing sounded horrific and Luna was telling us how you made sure she missed the worst parts of it.”
“I also had a part of Tom in my scar,” Harry said with a sigh. “And now it’s gone, I feel lighter. I have a future. A massive responsibility, sure, but freedom to do anything I want. I’m not going to be an Auror.”
“Pity,” Ron sniggered. “You’d just have to look at people, and they’d start confessing.”
Harry laughed with him. He paused as the food arrived, and he cut himself a Ron-sized portion of the pie, and a healthy helping of mashed potatoes, and finished it with plenty of vegetables.
“I’ve only eaten toast today,” he explained at Hermione’s disbelieving look.
She nodded and blushed slightly. And for a few moments, Harry was able to forget what had happened today, and just eat.
He sighed as he finished the food and looked around. The mood in the Great Hall seemed positively jubilant, with the exception of some of the Slytherins. As he surveyed the Hall, he was saddened to notice several holes where senior students had sat that morning. He looked up at Dumbledore who nodded solemnly and returned the sad look.
“I’ll see you guys later,” Harry said as he stood, stepped over the bench, and walked out.
“Harry, wait up!”
Harry paused and sighed. He wasn’t sure that he wanted to talk to Hermione right now. He turned and faced her.
“I’m sorry,” she said, as she looked down.
That was so far away from his expectations for her opening statement that he blinked a few times.
“Your new sister yelled at me earlier. Repeatedly. She called me a piece of sticky toffee pudding as I was so infested with wrackspurts.
“Using a book with notes in the margin is only an issue because I made it one. I was jealous. I was also extremely confused about Ron, and his relationship with Lavender, and picking a fight with you allowed me to focus on something else.
“I’m sorry you were forced into that, and I’m really, really, really grateful for what you did today, and I really don’t want to lose my closest friend.”
Harry took two steps forward and hugged her tightly. Her arms went around him as she hugged him back, just as tight.
And in the hug, his tension seemed to leave him.
Hermione kissed him on the cheek before she grabbed his hand. “Come on,” she said. To his surprise, she dragged him down to the kitchens, where they were soon ensconced before a large fire with mugs of hot chocolate with marshmallows, whipped cream and chocolate powder.
She grinned at him. “I’m okay to interrogate you now, right?”
He laughed and raised his cup in salute.
“You didn’t want to date Luna?”
“I don’t want to date anyone right now,” he confessed.
“Why? Because you don’t want to take advantage of how grateful practically every girl in the school is?”
He laughed. “Nope.”
“Good, because that would be ridiculous. So why?”
“Because I’m free, Hermione. For the first time in six years, I’m free. No Voldemort. No Dursleys. No expectations, nothing. The feeling is scary and incredible. Yes, I want a girlfriend, but not right now when I feel so, so…” He paused and shrugged.
“Yeah, I guess. Or, no, I don’t think so. It’s weird. I feel… exuberant. Like I can't trust any decision I make until I calm down. I feel like Dudley when he's off his rocker on Charlie, you know? I feel like that. It's weird, and I'm not used to it.”
“Yeah,” Hermione agreed with a smile. “You know that you’re never going to be just Harry, now?”
“I think that’s part of it. I arranged the money like I did because I didn’t trust anyone else to run it.”
“I wouldn’t, either,” Hermione said. She sat up straight, “Can I apply for a job?”
Harry laughed again. “Sure, as my assistant?” He ran his eyes over her and winked. “You’d look great in heels and a short skirt.”
“Git,” she responded with a roll of her eyes, although there was a flash of a pleased grin as well.
“Seriously, yes, of course. I was thinking of hiring some tutors to show me what to do.”
“Oooh,” Hermione rocked back and forth in her seat. “A great idea!”
“I have a feeling I’m going to need to be really careful.”
“Well, dumping a load of money into a small economy would lead to people buying more, and that would lead to people hiring more. But in the short-term demand would exceed supply, and that would create inflation, or would cause new people to get rich and hoard the money.” Harry paused. “I think? I read an article in Vernon’s paper about it last summer.”
Hermione blinked a few times. “We need to learn about economics,” she said with enthusiasm.
“Yeah,” Harry sighed. “I was thinking of finding out how much money these Pure-bloods spent and then trying to make sure that the same amount of money stayed in circulation, but I may be talking out of my rear.”
“No, the very fact that you’re thinking of this makes me so proud.” Hermione smiled at him. “Would you like me to start looking for tutors?”
“I presume you’re joining me?”
“Then consider your first job finding them,” Harry teased.
“Yes, Sir,” Hermione teased back.
“I guess I’m going to have to get organised,” he grumped. “I need to start planning for the summer school as well.”
“I plan on spending two weeks with my parents abroad, then attending,” Hermione stated casually.
“I was thinking that we could get some of the parents to come to the school,” Harry added with a shrug.
Hermione paused as she looked at him. “That’s your third great idea this evening.”
Harry laughed. “I’m on a roll. And it was my fourth great idea. Don’t forget I suggested putting you in a short skirt.” He sighed as something else Dumbledore had said popped into his head. “Want to know something scary?”
Hermione looked thoughtful. She shook her head negatively, before grinning.
Harry snorted in amusement. “Okay, the Goblins were involved in this mess. Dumbledore is getting a new treaty out of it, and seems to think that’s about as good as it's going to get.”
Hermione frowned. “And?”
“We’re going to have to come up with an alternative. I don’t think we can be happy when it appears that existing treaties can be bypassed so easily and that they’re holding all our money.” He sighed again. “Actually, we’re not. Going to have to fix it, I mean. We should leave that to other people. I mean, to even get knowledgeable enough to start, we’d have to spend years researching how this situation came about, why Goblins are unhappy – if they are and this wasn’t a rogue sect – and I just don’t care enough about them.”
Harry groaned. “You think he’s a Goblin plant?” Hermione shrugged, so Harry continued, “New idea. We hire some Ravenclaws to do all the research for us.”
“That’s a better idea.”
Harry looked at his empty chocolate. “Finished?”
“Come on, let’s get out of here.”
“We’re friends, again, right?”
“We never stopped.”
“Okay, can you please promise me something?”
“What?” he asked warily.
“You never give me that look you gave Ginny.”
Harry blinked a few times. “What about Luna? They were the same look.”
“No, no, they weren’t. You managed to tell Luna that you’d be there for her for the rest of your lives, and she’ll be on Cloud Nine for the rest of the year. You told Ginny you would never be anything more than friends, and not even that close friends, and she’ll be devastated for the rest of the week.”
“Oh,” Harry murmured. “Well, I don’t know her that well, and the look she gave me was wrong, as she is dating someone else.”
“I got your explanation, and I’m not complaining, I just, I can’t lose my best friend.”
Harry stood and pulled Hermione into another hug. “I will promise you that.”
She melted into his arm for a few seconds, before she moved back out of his hug.
“Now, come on,” Harry ordered. He led them out of the kitchen and to the entrance to the Ravenclaw Common Room. He knocked on the eagle knocker. It morphed and came to life.
“I don’t think anyone’s ever actually done that before,” the knocker said in surprise. “Which is weird, because I am a door knocker.”
“What do people do?” Harry asked.
“Ask me for a riddle.”
“Normally, I’d ask you to summon Professor Flitwick, but it occurs to me that I’ve got brains that outshine my own next to me, so hit us, please.”
“What disappears when you say its name?”
“Silence,” Hermione replied with no discernible pause at the end of the question.
The door swung open. “I guess this is no different to someone overhearing the Gryffindor password,” Harry mused.
“I guess,” Hermione agreed. The two of them entered the quiet Common Room, to find most students sat around in small groups or reading on their own.
“Harry!” Luna’s voice attracted everyone’s attention. “Have you come to tell me a bedtime story?” She cartwheeled over to him before pouncing into a hug.
He caught her and ruffled her hair. “Nope. I’ve come to have a chat with Professor Flitwick, with the hope that he can recommend some Ravenclaws for a project or two I have upcoming. I do have a challenge for you, though.”
“I’ve got two ears,” Luna said earnestly.
“First, I want you to plan an itinerary for the Swedish expedition. Locations, how much time we spend at each one, which rituals would help, all that sort of thing.”
Luna gasped excitedly and nodded eagerly.
“Secondly, if you find them, then I want you at Hogwarts for a week doing a summer course on them. I want you to do a rough outline for that as well.”
“That’s loads of work!”
“Yeah, but you’re my cute little sister, you can do anything.”
“I can?” she asked doubtfully.
“You helped defeat Voldemort, you can do anything.”
Luna perked up. “I can.” She paused and suddenly managed to make her eyes even bigger. “A bedtime story would help!”
Harry laughed. “You can get someone else to help as well, anyone who helps is welcome to come with us.”
“Hello,” Cho stated, appearing in between them as if she’d teleported. “A holiday searching Sweden for a few weeks?”
Cho turned to Luna. “I’m here to help!”
Luna giggled and hugged Cho. “Sure,” she agreed.
“I’m only going to be able to accompany you for two weeks, Luna.”
“Oh,” Luna said in surprise. “I expected much less, as you keep adding important things to do. I was only going to make it four weeks anyway because I want to attend the Summer School.”
Harry reached forward and ruffled Luna’s hair again. “Join us for breakfast?”
“Sure!” Luna took Cho’s hand and pulled her away.
“Cho’s been much nicer since she got rid of Edgecombe,” Hermione said, her voice barely audible.
“My office is over here, Harry,” Professor Flitwick called. “And Luna, Cho?”
“A couple of weeks in Sweden sounds wonderful. Put me down for the same two weeks Harry is there.”
“Okay,” Luna agreed, a wide smile on her face. That appeared to be a cue for the two girls to be surrounded by eager volunteers.
Harry and Hermione entered the Professor’s office and took the proffered seats.
“Yes, Hermione, we will get you an office like this,” Harry stated before anyone could say anything. Three of the four walls were lined with floor-to-ceiling bookcases. Each bookcase was full of leather-bound books, all grouped in matching dark hues. The final wall had two arm green leather chairs angled toward a large fireplace. On the mantel above the fireplace were pictures showing Flitwick with various members of staff. Flitwick sat on a large chair behind the desk in the middle of the office, watching amusedly as the young witch continued to gawk.
Hermione gave a soft squeal of happiness when she took in what Harry had said. Flitwick just laughed.
Harry guided Hermione into the seat on the left, as he took the other. “Professor, as I’m sure you heard this morning, I’m having a really blunt day.”
“Hold one,” Flitwick said. He took a deep breath, before dramatically bracing himself by clutching the front of his desk. “Go on, hit me.”
“You’re a part-goblin; your actions over the years have pointed to you being more at home with your human side. My question is, in a theoretical conflict, where both sides are equally to blame, where would you side?”
Hermione gulped softly. Flitwick unbraced himself and settled back into his chair. He reached into his desk and pulled out a small wooden pipe. With a snap of his fingers, he lit it. He inhaled before blowing smoke straight up. The smoke travelled in a straight line along the ceiling and into a small vent.
“What have they done?” Flitwick eventually asked.
Harry blinked repeatedly. “Huh?” he asked. “Wasn’t that a non-sequitur?”
“When you’re not hiding, Harry, I often find myself disappointed that you’re not a Ravenclaw.” Flitwick blew some more smoke out. “You’ve already pretty much made your decision about me, and you want something from me to do with the goblins and my ancestry. So rather than go through the rigmarole, I decided to just find out what they’ve done so I can give you a real answer.”
“They were willing to steal from people trying to flee the country, for a cut of the money. There’s going to be a new treaty, and some of the people involved will be executed.”
“And the needle returns to the start of the song,” Flitwick finished.
“ And we all sing like before. And we’ll all be lonely tonight and lonely tomorrow, ” Hermione sang.
Flitwick chuckled. “As much as I’ve wanted Harry in my house, not having you, Miss Granger has really grated at times.”
“Hermione can fill me in on the pop culture reference later,” Harry said to give her some time to recover.
“What is it you want, Harry?” Flitwick asked.
“Your recommendations for some Ravenclaws I can employ to get me a decent interpretation of the history between the Goblins and us, with the goal being some sort of understanding of the history so I can make decisions in the future.”
Filius took a few silent puffs. “Why?”
“I’m not happy with the current situation, but without understanding the why, any decisions I make would be foolhardy.” He shrugged. “And I wouldn’t trust the Ministry to tell me the time of the day, and it’s not as if we are taught history in the monologues about uprisings that Binns gives us.”
“I have more than enough people I can recommend who would be suitably neutral,” Flitwick replied. “I’ll draw up a list for tomorrow. I will include both current students, who can begin tutoring you immediately, and alumni, who will be able to provide a more thorough treatment during your summer school.”
“Thank you, Professor.”
“No, thank you, Harry.” Another curl of smoke drifted up. “You’re both welcome in the Common Room anytime.”
“Thank you,” he said, with Hermione’s voice joining his. “Thank you for your time,” he added as he stood and escorted Hermione out.
They walked quietly through the Common Room, avoiding the area that was clearly being dedicated to the summer project, and exited with a quick wave to the happy-looking Luna.
“What’s the betting I end up taking most of the Ravenclaws to Sweden?”
“No bet,” Hermione replied. “Where to now?”
“I’m done for the day. So maybe bed.” Hermione took his arm and leant against him, causing Harry to look at her slantwise and say, “Alone,” and then laugh when she leapt away with a squeak. “Do we need to talk about you and Ron?” Harry asked.
“No,” Hermione said after a few seconds. “I think you’re right.”
“I am?” Harry asked doubtfully. “That’s unusual.”
Hermione elbowed him in the side gently. “About being free, about growing up, about this being a tiny school in the middle of Scotland, about everything. Everything’s changed, for the better. We have the world to change, a summer school to plan, a charity to set up, economics to learn, and our friendship to keep.”
“And partners to find, eventually.”
“In a world of six billion, there’s someone for everyone.” She shrugged. “I might get a boyfriend at school, I might not. There’s no hurry.”
“No hurry,” Harry echoed. “Exactly. We should probably try dating each other at some stage.”
“At some stage,” Hermione echoed back. She rested her head on his shoulder. “We’ve got time.”
They said the password as they approached the portrait and climbed through the hole. Hermione re-took her position.
“Wait, you two are together,” Ron called, as he approached them with a scowl on his face.
Harry looked at Hermione and laughed.
“Ron,” Hermione sighed. “Go back to Lavender.”
Harry looked at the confused face of their friend. He shook his head, before kissing Hermione on the forehead. “You can tell him why he doesn’t get to make comments like that; I’m heading to bed.”
“I will,” Hermione said eagerly.
“Night, Ron. Night, Hermione.”
Ron looked confused as Harry walked off.
He only made it a few steps before he was embraced in an enthusiastic hug. Only, this wasn’t from a cute little firstie, his best friend, or his new sister. Or even a girl at all. As such, he endured rather than enjoyed the hug.
“Thank you, so much!” Neville exclaimed. “Gran sent me an owl.”
“Ahh,” Harry said with a smile. “You’re welcome.”
“I didn’t understand why you left her with magic, but Gran explained the wink. Gran destroyed Bellatrix with a tickling charm!”
Harry smiled. “That’s awesome.”
Neville took a deep breath and nodded. “It was. A day that started so bad ended up great.”
“I’m heading to bed.”
“Sleep well,” Neville said as he moved away.
Harry took a step before a Phoenix Patronus flew over and hovered in front of him. Albus’ voice emanated from it, “Harry, could you pop down to the Slytherin Common Room, please?”
Harry groaned and turned around. Ron and Hermione had stopped arguing and were looking at him. “I’ll come,” they said together.
Harry looked at each of them. “Thanks, but if there’s going to be a confrontation, I should be on my own, with Dumbledore.”
“No,” Ron said.
Hermione elbowed Ron firmly. “Yes, I understand.”
“What?” Ron demanded.
“Harry’s clearly demonstrated the ability to think on his feet, when everyone else, me included, was panicking earlier. He’ll stand there, next to the Headmaster, and the Slytherins will try and protest, and he’ll ram facts down their throats until they choke on them.”
“Oh, OK,” Ron agreed after thinking it over for a moment. “And if that doesn't work, you can just choke them, right, mate? They deserve it, most of them.”
Harry laughed. “I’ve been a bad influence on you both.”
“Yes,” Hermione agreed. “You have been. The point is, this isn’t Harry against the world, it’s Harry against a bunch of inbred idiots who have lost their money, power and influence.”
“Pretty much exactly that,” Harry agreed. “Don’t wait up.”
“You don’t want to see what I sleep in?” Hermione asked innocently.
“I’ve been interested in that since you got boobs,” Harry replied, just as innocently.
“Git,” Hermione replied as she looked amused. “You were supposed to be flustered.”
“Not when there’s a chance,” Harry retorted.
“Go on, get going.”
Harry looked at Ron, who was managing to look irritated, annoyed, jealous, and concerned at the same time. Behind him, Lavender was looking on in displeasure. Harry was pretty sure that Ron’s night was going to suck.
Harry headed out of the Gryffindor portrait hole and headed down to the dungeons. As he approached, the door opened for him.
He entered the cavernous common room to find all members of the House crammed in a small area in the middle. Dumbledore was at the front, Slughorn to the right of the platform the Headmaster was on. “I was heading to bed,” Harry said in lieu of a more formal greeting.
“Alas, so was I,” Dumbledore agreed forlornly. “Unfortunately, your schoolmates from Slytherin don’t have the common decency to wait until the next day before launching into dull and predictable politicking.”
Harry sighed loudly. “Of course not. If they waited until tomorrow, they might have had a chance to reflect and come up with a decent strategy. So of course, they ignored that and leapt to it. Which is why they are under a silencing charm.” He moved next to Dumbledore and conjured two of his stools. Dumbledore adopted the same pose that Harry had earlier.
Harry hopped onto his and looked down at the students. Some of them – and they were all from younger years – were looking apologetic.
“Astoria?” he called. Dumbledore twiddled a finger.
“Yes, Harry?” Astoria asked, showing that Dumbledore had raised the silencing charm on her. Not for the first time, Harry was amazed at the effortless magical control that Dumbledore demonstrated.
“Do you mind affectionate shortening of your name?” Harry asked. “Astoria is a lovely name, but it’s a bit of a mouthful for regular use.”
The girl blushed lightly. “No one’s ever done so.”
“Hmm,” Harry mused. “Tori sounds a little cheap. Stori sounds better. What do you think, Albus?”
“I’d never call a student something so affectionate, my boy,” the Headmaster said with a straight face.
Harry snorted in amusement at the deliberately hypocritical statement. “So, Stori it is. If that’s acceptable?”
Astoria gave a small smile of acknowledgement and blushed.
“With the assurance that if anyone so much as frowns at you I will rain Biblical fury down upon them, can you give me the edited highlights of what is going on?”
Astoria’s laugh echoed around the Common Room. She hurried over and sat on the floor, cross-legged. She looked up at him happily.
“Hey,” Harry complained. He pulled out his wand, created a stool next to him, and levitated her onto it.
“But,” she said, “I was going –”
“Nope,” he interrupted.
Astoria huffed playfully. “I used to sit like that when I gave reports.” She paused. “And these stools are awesome, we’re really looking down on people.”
“A position of strength,” Harry agreed.
“I’ve always found it strange that the person with the most effective Slytherin traits has hidden behind a Gryffindor mask,” Dumbledore mused.
“Quiet, you,” Harry ordered Albus. “Now, Stori?”
“Okay. So, with Malfoy in the infirmary recovering from his attempt to interfere with the new Ministerial law, and with his family being practically ruined, there’s a power gap in Slytherin. All the Heirs in Slytherin want to be in power so they can abuse the others.”
Harry snorted. “Just like their parents.”
“Exactly. So, despite being beaten up by a Hufflepuff firstie, and having her parents practically ruined, Parkinson tried to take power first.
“Nott and Zabini both expressed their disbelief. Nott through magic, Zabini because his mother’s not been involved in the marriage law, so he’s still from a wealthy family. Zabini leapt at the opportunity and started to point out his wealth.
“The problem is, it’s his mother’s wealth, not his, and his mother doesn’t believe in spoiling her child. So, they started to fight, with words at first and then with wands.”
“Which was when Professor Slughorn and I were notified by the wards,” Dumbledore added.
“Some of the others joined in, and that’s when the Headmaster arrived and stopped everyone.” She cocked her head to look at Dumbledore around Harry. “He was awesome.”
“Why thank you, Stori,” Dumbledore said.
Astoria blushed bright red.
“Hypocrite,” Harry coughed.
“You should get Madam Pomphrey to look at that cough.”
“To summarise, an attempted power play turned into a bunch of young adults doing the magical equivalent of waving their hands around and slapping each other like a couple of four-year-olds having a tantrum?”
Astoria giggled and nodded firmly. “With lots of shouting and screeching. And hair pulling.”
Harry sighed. “And your sister?”
Astoria stuck her nose high in the air. She adopted a screechy voice which sounded exactly nothing like her sister’s. “You will not be friends with that Gryffindor. And just wait until I tell Mother what you said.”
“Won’t your mother be more concerned about a massive loss of money, as well as what happened to her husband, coupled with the realisation that most of your house belongs to my charity?”
Astoria looked shocked before she started to giggle. “I never have to return to the mausoleum! I know I was lucky to grow up with a roof over my head, and food and warmth, and that I was really lucky not to be the Heir, as I was left alone. Still, I won't miss the house, and I can laugh to myself at the thought of my mother having to make do without a House-elf.
“Harry! You should get all the House-elves to help you run the charity – I’m sure you could do lots with loads of them.”
Harry blinked. “Dobby?”
Dobby popped in. “Great and awesome and amazing and great and brilliant Harry Potter Sir!” Dobby cheered. “And Headmaster Dumblesdore boss.”
“Dobby,” Harry said, “you’re aware of what happened today?” Dobby nodded eagerly. “My new friend Astoria has just pointed out that all the families in trouble probably won’t be able to keep their House-elves. How do you fancy rounding them up for me? I think they’d do wonders helping me with the charities.”
Dobby bounced a few times enthusiastically. “Dobby could be persuaded,” Dobby agreed. “But Dobby is loyal to his employer Dumblesdore boss.”
“Dobby, I’d like to headhunt you to work as my foreman for my new House-elf crew. As you’d be in charge, you’d have to accept five galleons a month, and 8 days off.”
“One galleon and no days off,” Dobby countered.
“Four and six.”
“No, no,” Dobby said. “Dobby will go as high as one galleon and seven sickles and one day off!”
“I’m not going any lower than two and a half galleons, no more than six days without a day off, one week holiday to be taken as a whole week, and you have to help my personal friends.”
“Harry Potter is a harsh and cruel negotiator,” Dobby said sadly. He turned. “Dobby is handing in resignations, Professor Boss Sir.”
“I’m sad to see you go, Master Dobby.”
Dobby turned to look at Harry.
“You’ve got the job, Foreman Dobby!”
“So off you go, let them all know we’ve got plenty of work for them to do.”
“Work right now?”
“Grimmauld Place needs a complete overhaul if nothing else.”
Dobby nodded eagerly. “Dobby is on the task, Great Harry Potter Boss Sir who is great and awesome!” He popped away.
Harry looked back at Astoria. “You were left alone?” he prompted.
She nodded. “My brother is the Heir. Daphne’s the spare. I’m the accident.” She shrugged. “I had a cool nanny, food, warmth and comfort.”
Harry perked up. “The nanny?”
Astoria wrinkled her nose. “Died last year. I’ve done my grieving, and she’d tell me off if I was still sad now.”
Harry nodded. “Sirius would come back as a ghost to kick my rear if I moped over him.” Astoria giggled. “So, really, the problem is the Sixth and Seventh-years?”
“And a few of the Fifth-years,” she added.
“Hmm. How about a bet?” he murmured. “We’ll have a duel. These idiots against me, at once. They win, I restore thirty percent of their family’s money. I win,” he paused. “I win, and they lose all rights and positions of influence in the school and are under close watch for the rest of this year. And the foundation won’t pay their tuition next year.”
Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled as he looked at Harry. Harry met his eyes evenly.
“Let me emphasise that you lose all rights if you lose. Are you still interested?” Dumbledore asked the students.
Pansy was the first to nod, not giving it even a moment's consideration. Almost all of the upper-year students followed her lead, with only a few being cunning, sensible, or cowardly, enough to step back.
“Harry,” Astoria said worriedly.
“Don’t worry, Stori,” Harry said to her as he hopped down. “I want this out of the way, and it appears that only physical power is left to beat them with. I’ve already won in politics, economics and public relations.”
“Daphne’s good, though!”
Harry winked at her. He moved forward and lifted her from her stool and carried her to the side, briefly reflecting that this was the second pretty girl today that he’d held in a bridal carry and that he wasn’t even dating either of them. Meanwhile, Dumbledore was levitating furniture and students around before creating large duelling pit in the centre of the Common Room.
“Good luck!” Astoria exclaimed.
Harry grinned at her. He backflipped into the pit, using Arresto Momentum to control his flight and land safely.
As he waited for his opponents to climb down, he ran through all the spells he knew. With the pressure he’d been under with his scar gone, he was finding it much easier than before. Spells were already on the tip of his tongue.
But it wasn’t enough just to beat them, he had to do it with style. Dumbledore always did things with style, and Harry was going to copy him.
“Last one standing wins,” Dumbledore called. “You cast an unforgivable, and you will be in Azkaban by morning.”
Harry grinned as he looked at the students in front of him. They were constantly shuffling around as a few overconfident fools moved to the front while all the rest tried to stand the furthest from him.
“In three, two, one, duel!” Dumbledore yelled.
Harry jumped, using his magic to enhance the height, somersaulted, and as he landed in a dramatic crouch, he forced out a stupefy in all directions.
The four students who hadn’t managed to create a shield in the short time dropped down. That left eleven students, who were looking at him in shock.
Harry took two steps forward and grabbed Crabbe. He twisted, allowing Crabbe to bear the impact of the first volley of spells from Harry’s opponents – the nastiest of which coming from Theodore Nott.
He ducked a punch from Goyle that finished wiping out Crabbe. As he did, he called, “Accio Blaise’s shoes!”
Blaise’s shoes flew toward him, Blaise himself dragged behind them. Harry stepped to the side and sniggered as Blaise crashed into the wall of the pit before collapsing into unconsciousness.
Without pausing to admire his handiwork, Harry moved behind the Seventh-year prefect, a guy he thought was named Pusey or Pucey or Pus, and banished him into the wall.
“Olé!” Harry called as he sidestepped and let off a useless but stylish red flash and allowed the corpulent Goyle to break his own nose against the wall. He spun away from two more spells and laughed happily. This was just what needed to get rid of the stress of the day, and it was great fun.
Recalling a move he’d seen in a movie, with a gun, not a wand, he threw his wand in the air toward the group of students. Their eyes followed the arcing wand, which allowed him to move in between them. “Stupefy,” he whispered as he touched one. The boy dropped down like a rag doll. Harry got two more of them in the same way. “Accio wand,” he called. His wand returned to his hand, and he used it to do another powered jump backwards.
Nott, Parkinson, Davis, Greengrass, Bulstrode and one Seventh Year were all that were left.
Harry bounced on his toes as he looked at them hungrily. They all had shields up and scared looks on their faces.
Bulstrode stepped to a side and knelt. She put her wand in front of her and knee-walked away from it. Harry nodded at her, accepting the surrender.
“And then there were five,” he said. “The pride of Slytherin. Pure-bloods. Come, prove your belief that you’re so far above me. Or else reinforce the demonstration that this Half-blood’s place is so far above you, you can’t even see me without magical assistance!”
Scowls of hatred appeared on their faces.
“You really can’t comprehend that you’re beaten, can you?” He shook his head in disbelief as he gathered his magic and braced himself. “Aguamenti!”
The water exploded from his wand in a visible torrent. It caught Davis and the Seventh Year directly in their shields. The kinetic energy threw them both back against the walls and into unconsciousness.
“And then there were three.” He paused and looked at Theodore Nott. “In a weird way, I can almost respect Parkinson – and note I did say almost – because at least she stands up for her imbecilic and repulsive beliefs. You cower at the back, hoping to get a lucky shot in, like the pathetic wastrel you are.”
Nott raised his wand, “Avada Ked-”
“Accio,” Dumbledore’s voice rang out. Nott flew out of the circle, where he was bound in thick brown rope that covered him from head to toe, leaving only his hair and his nose on view.
“And then there were two,” Harry added with a grin. “Fifteen to one down to two to one. And it only took me about a minute and a half. The rest of your house has already seen that your power is completely gone. The only chance of being able to hold your head up is to attack with everything you have, and hope.”
“You think this is a game?” Greengrass demanded.
“Yup! One caused by you. All you had to do was keep your heads down, and you would have got through school successfully. I’d already said that I’d cover your costs.”
“We are the leaders,” Greengrass spat.
“No one elected you,” Harry pointed out dryly. “People followed you because of fear, fear of your families rather than you. And now that’s gone, all you had left was intelligence, skill, and charisma, and you’ve squandered any power you had from that.” He paused. “What you are now is the pitiful remainder of what happens when people build mansions on sand.”
Parkinson and Greengrass both looked confused. “Our mansion is built on rock,” Parkinson pointed out.
Harry paused and stared in disbelief. He batted away a curse that Greengrass shot at him. “It was an analogy,” Harry replied. “But I’ve concluded that this lesson is going to take a long time to beat into you, so I’ll leave you both a memory of your futile efforts this evening and finish it off.”
He started to walk forward, conjuring a shield in front of him. The curses they fired at him bounced off, but he stayed alert just in case one got through. “Flipendo,” he cast at Parkinson, before sending a tripping jinx at Greengrass. As Pansy flew upside down, he called “Diffindo.”
His spell narrowly missed her head and sliced straight through her black hair. She fainted in shock. Harry let her down reasonably gently, before dashing to the side as Greengrass got up. A light tickling hex to the back of knees had her drop down. He roughly gathered her brown hair and held it up enough so that he could cut through it. He finished with the last stunning spell he would need for the evening.
With all his opponents down, Harry’s last act was to jump back out of the pit.
To his surprise, he was met with a round of applause and a series of cheers, closely followed by an excited hug from Astoria. “That was awesome!”
“Thank you, Stori.”
“Madam Pomfrey, if you would,” Dumbledore’s voice rose above the commotion. The noise quietened, and Harry watched as Dumbledore raised the floor of the pit, and Madam Pomfrey started to walk amongst the students, healing them.
Harry made his way over to Dumbledore, Astoria’s arms still wrapped around him.
“Nicely done, Harry,” Dumbledore said.
“And thank you for not over-powering the stunning spells,” the nurse called. “One broken nose. The worst is Crabbe, as he was hit with a variety of unpleasant spells from his colleagues. One broken leg that I’ve already healed and the rest are fine, just the odd case of a mild concussion that’s already dealt with.”
Dumbledore looked at the gathered students Harry had fought and shook his head in sadness. “Tomorrow morning you will be given a list of the privileges you have lost. For now, all you prefects have the status revoked.”
“Accio Prefect Badges,” Harry called. He caught the four badges. He turned and pinned one to Astoria’s robes and pocketed the other three.
Dumbledore smirked. “Thank you for volunteering to be all three Slytherin prefects, Harry.”
“Screw that,” Harry retorted instantly. He thought for a second, and then chucked one at Bulstrode. She caught it in surprise. “You showed a modicum of intelligence. Astoria is in charge, but she needs help.” He looked around and then threw the other two badges at the two Seventh Years who hadn’t tried to fight him.
He turned back to Dumbledore, who pouted at him.
“You have to be female and cute for that to work.”
“I can do cute, but not female,” Albus lamented.
“You keep believing that.”
“Let me make one thing clear,” Dumbledore said, and suddenly he was again the greatest wizard of their era. “You are all on probation. One single incident from any of you and you will have your wand snapped, and you will be expelled. I should not need to remind you that you will probably need to get jobs to support yourselves and having been expelled from Hogwarts would make you practically unemployable.
“And while I am aware that some of you may be planning on marrying into a life of luxury, ask yourselves if your notional husband or wife would want someone that would instantly attract great scrutiny from Harry and myself, as well as the press and the public.
“And to spell it out, because you have proven sorely lacking in anything resembling intelligence today: Bullying is against the rules. Fighting for anything other than self-defence is against the rules. Using pejoratives – and that means words that express contempt or disapproval – is against the rules. For the remainder of your careers at Hogwarts, you will watch your actions and your words.
“Those coming back on Harry’s generous scholarship scheme next year will need to agree to the same rules as all other students.
“Now, is there anything that I’ve said that is in any way unclear?”
None of the students said a word.
“I will be reiterating the rules at breakfast tomorrow,” Dumbledore added after a silence that seemed to drag on. “It is time that we put a stop to all the negative behaviour that has crept in while I’ve been concentrating on the same thing that Harry cleared up for me in a day. Now, I suggest you lot head to bed, immediately.”
The students turned as one and scarpered.
“I think,” Dumbledore mused with a smile, “I’ll summon their parents to a conference.”
“That sounds fun,” Harry said.
“Yes, yes it does,” Dumbledore agreed. He grinned. “I think, Harry, that you can head to bed now. I have to call the Aurors and hand Nott over.”
“Yay,” Harry cheered with a grin. “Although that’s bad for you – sorry.”
“You didn’t make him attempt to cast a killing curse, despite my very clear instructions.” The Headmaster shrugged. “It will only take a few moments, so I’ll be able to get to bed very quickly.”
The Headmaster paused as a Patronus falcon flew through the walls and paused in front of the Professor. “Headmaster,” Flitwick’s voice called. “Would it be possible to summon Mr Potter to the Ravenclaw Fifth-year girls’ dorm? Miss Lovegood has already had a bad nightmare and is terrified.”
“You need to teach me that spell,” Harry said to Dumbledore. “You head to bed; I’ll deal with this.”
“I’ll help,” Astoria added.
“It is late, Stori,” Dumbledore pointed out. “You should go to bed.”
“I’ll go with Harry,” Astoria protested. After a pause, her phrasing caught up to her, and she blushed before straightening her shoulders. “I’m a girl so I can go to Ravenclaw Tower and help if there’s anything girly happening to Luna, and friends help friends!”
“She’s in your care, Harry,” Dumbledore said. “Call an elf to get me if you need me.”
“I will,” Harry promised. “Come on.” He took Astoria’s hand and started to jog. Astoria matched him, a grin on her face, as they headed to the Ravenclaw dorm.
He knocked again, for the knocker to come to life. “A new helper?”
“Yup,” Harry grinned. “Hit her with the question.”
“Where do Vanished objects go?” the knocker asked.
“Everywhere,” Astoria replied with a shrug, after a few seconds’ worth of thought.
The door swung open, revealing Cho Chang heading toward them. “I was about to open it for you,” she explained. “The Professor has already disabled the charm to let you and Miss Greengrass up.”
Harry nodded and followed Cho up the stairs and into the Fifth-year girls’ bedchambers.
Luna was sat upright, her knees held tightly to her chest. She looked up to show devastated eyes and tear tracks running down her cheeks.
“I’m… I’m sorry,” she hiccupped. “The wrackspurts,” she mumbled. “They keep showing me what happened today, and what could have happened, and what didn’t happen!” He sat on the bed and pulled her into a hug.
“I realised that you, and all my friends, were being forced into bad things,” Luna continued. Her hands were in front of her chest, making it lumpy and uncomfortable to comfort her.
Harry looked at Professor Flitwick. “I’ve got this,” he promised.
“Call me if you need me,” Flitwick said as he nodded, turned, and headed out. Cho reluctantly following at Flitwick’s gesture.
“Fortunately, I happen to know the best defence against wrackspurts,” Harry announced.
“Really?” Luna asked doubtfully.
“There’s more than one defence,” Astoria stated. “Harry, take your shirt off, and then leave the room for a minute.”
Harry blinked and shrugged as he decided he trusted her enough for this. He released Luna and shrugged off his robes before undoing his shirt. He handed it over before pulling the robes back on. He went to stand in the stairway until he was summoned again.
As he re-entered, Astoria was now in bed next to Luna, most of her uniform on the foot of the bed, and Luna was now dressed in his shirt.
“The shirt smells like you,” she said with a small smile. “And no wrackspurts are going to dare attack my big brother.”
“And if they do, I’m here,” Astoria added. “I’m your brother’s friend,” she added. “And that makes you my friend as well.”
“Yes, it does.”
Luna smiled again. Harry finally looked around the room, to find Luna’s dorm mates were sat on the nearest bed, in nightclothes. “We’re here to help guard against the wrackspurts,” one of them, a blonde, announced.
Harry took a deep breath and then used his wand to create a semi-transparent sword. It glowed in the soft light of the candles in the room. “Astoria,” he said.
“This is the vorpal blade. It can defeat the Jabberwocky and is good against the Bandersnatch.” He handed the glowing sword to the dark-haired girl.
“The frumious Bandersnatch?” one of the girls, this one with brown hair, asked from the other bed.
“The very same,” Harry agreed. “And if it can defeat the Jabberwocky, under the tumtum tree, then it can definitely stop wrackspurts.”
“W-what’s a Jabberwocky?” Luna asked curiously. The look of fear in her eyes had receded.
“Why, Luna, you don’t know of the Jabberwocky?”
She shook her head, Astoria mimicking her movements.
“The Mad Hatter?” More shakes. “The Cheshire Cat?” Yet more shakes of the head from the two girls.
Dobby popped in. “Yes, great and awesome and brilliant and boss Harry Potter?”
“Could you pop to a library and fetch me a copy of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll?”
Dobby nodded and popped away.
“The time has come, my darling little sister, to talk of many things, of shoes – and ships – and sealing-wax – of cabbages – and kings. And of an adventure of a girl who is so very like a mixture of you and Astoria.”
“Really?” Luna asked excitedly.
Dobby popped back in and handed Harry the book.
Harry conjured himself a seat. “Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin with the bedtime story I should have agreed to earlier.”
“Wait,” Astoria said. She shifted upright, and her arms vanished from their sleeves. She contorted a few times, and then put her hands out again. She reached down her left sleeve with her right hand and pulled out her bra. She chucked it on top of her uniform. With an embarrassed shrug, she continued. “If I’m defending Luna all night, then I need to be comfortable.”
“Right,” Harry said, trying not to blush. “Now then, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland , which we’ll need to read before we can get to Through the Looking Glass . Chapter 1, Down the Rabbit-Hole!”
Harry had never actually read the book. All he had was the memories of listening to a cartoon from his cupboard. Dudley had liked it because of Queen of Hearts wanting to cut people’s head off.
He could see that Luna and Astoria were both entranced from the start, and a quick look to the side showed that the other girls were just as enthralled.
“I think,” Harry said softly, “that I’ll have to read more next time.” Luna and Astoria were both clearly forcing themselves to stay awake. “You’ve got Astoria and the vorpal sword to fight off the wrackspurts, Luna.”
“And my brother’s shirt,” Luna added sleepily.
Harry leant over and kissed Luna on the forehead, and then he kissed Astoria as well when she lifted her head toward him. He could hear the other girls get into their own beds behind him.
“We will,” Astoria said confidently.
“Good night,” the words echoed from all around the room. Harry slipped silently out of the door and downstairs.
To his surprise, the Ravenclaw Common Room was not empty. Professor Dumbledore, in a lime-green nightshirt, purple lounging slippers and a tastefully colour-coordinated plaid sleeping hat was sat on a couch. Professor Flitwick, in green striped pyjamas and brown leather slippers, was on a small reclining leather chair. Professors Sprout and McGonagall, both wearing dressing gowns and pink slippers, were sat opposite.
There was a spare seat with them and between the seats a table with five mugs of steaming hot chocolate.
Harry took the seat at Dumbledore’s gesture. He curled up on it and reached for his second hot chocolate of the night. He held it in his hands and enjoyed the warmth.
“I’m afraid that Filius was making sure you could handle things,” Albus said softly. “When he heard you summon the book, he sent me a message. And well, it didn’t seem fair that only the Fifth-year girls got a story. And we might have charmed your voice to go to every room that wanted it.”
“And all of Gryffindor did,” McGonagall added.
“All of Hufflepuff.”
“And the younger years of Slytherin,” Professor Dumbledore finished. “And what a truly marvellous story. I’ve heard of it, but never found the time to read it.”
“Yes,” Professor Sprout agreed. “It’s been many years since I’ve read it, and just hearing it out loud brought all the memories back.”
“Hmm,” Dumbledore said. “Would you mind getting the door, Harry? The rest of us are not exactly dressed for students.”
Harry chuckled and uncurled. He opened the Ravenclaw door, his mug still in hand. To his surprise, Lavender and Parvati were standing in front of the door. They were both in gold towelled dressing gowns and fluffy red slippers.
Both girls blushed, as they stared about eighteen inches beneath his eyes.
“We loved the story,” Parvati suddenly gushed. “And Lav had a great idea.”
Lavender thrust her hands forward. Harry took it and held the cloth up with his free hand. It fell into a sky-blue dress with a white apron.
Harry smiled, as Parvati added a black hair band, white tights and black shoes to the outfit.
“We transfigured this for Luna,” Lavender explained.
“This is awesome,” Harry said seriously. “Thank you. I will make sure you both get twenty points for this.”
“We didn’t do it for that!” Parvati blurted. “We just wanted to say thank you, to you and Luna, for being awesome today.”
Both girls beamed. They stepped forward and kissed his cheek, one each side. “Good night,” they called as they appeared to almost bounce away.
“Good night,” he echoed. He returned to the senior Professors and showed the outfit to them. “This is Alice’s traditional outfit.”
“Twenty points each to Lavender and Parvati in Gryffindor,” the Headmaster said.
“Thank you.” Harry draped the outfit over the back of his chair and sat back down again. He took a sip of his hot chocolate.
“Pomona has reminded me of something,” Albus said with a small smile on his face. “This year’s Head Boy was a Ravenclaw. Sadly, he was one of those who withdrew from school today.”
Harry sighed sadly and took another sip. His hand shot up as Dumbledore threw something at him. He looked at the item he caught. The gold badge with the words “Head Boy” sparkled in the candlelight.
“I’m a Sixth-year.”
“It just means you get to do it for a year and a half,” Flitwick said. “There was no way you weren’t going to get it next year.”
“Quite right,” Sprout agreed. “If your actions today didn’t clinch the position for you next year, your actions this evening certainly have.”
“Your parents would be as proud as I am,” McGonagall added.
“Thank you,” Harry said.
“Tomorrow, we’ll get you the Head Boy’s room, and Minerva can give you all the rights and responsibilities,” Dumbledore said.
Harry chuckled and put the badge in his pocket. “Thank you.” He took another sip of his chocolate. “Does this mean I can get to sleep after this?”
There was a round of chuckles. “I think so, yes,” Dumbledore agreed. “Mr Nott is in a holding cell. Mr Goyle is spending the night in the infirmary, but he’ll be fine for breakfast. Young Malfoy will be out for several weeks, and he and I will be having an unpleasant discussion before I decide whether he will be allowed to return after his convalescence.” His eyes suddenly sparkled. “Five galleons say that either Lucius or Narcissa inquire as to the feasibility of turning young Draco fully female.”
Harry blinked. “Why?”
“So that the House of Malfoy could continue.”
Harry shuddered. “Please tell me that’s not possible.”
No one reassured him.
“Just tell me that there’s nothing that could force any relationship between this hypothetical female Malfoy and me.”
“Of that, I can reassure you,” Albus said.
“Thank Merlin for that!”
There was another round of laughter.
“Anyone going to take me up on the bet?” the hopeful headmaster asked.
“They are arrogant Pure-bloods who believe in their own superiority first and care little for anyone but themselves,” Sprout said. “Therefore, it would be a sucker who took that belt.”
“I truly believe that any family who suggests such a thing does not deserve to be called a family,” Harry snorted.
“Agreed,” Flitwick and McGonagall chorused.
“And on that note,” Harry said dryly. “Professor McGonagall, could you put these clothes on Luna’s bed?”
“Of course. Sleep well, Head Boy.”
“That’ll take some getting used to,” Harry murmured after a deep yawn. “Night!” He headed out and plodded up to the Gryffindor tower. The adrenaline from the fight was nothing but a memory, and now he was nothing but exhausted.
He collapsed on the couch in front of the embers, as he tried to work up the energy to ascend the stairs to his bed.
In the end, he kicked his shoes off, removed his robe and conjured a blanket. He was asleep in seconds.
The Obligatory Marriage Law Fic
The Longest Day
Years ago, a comment on a forum along the lines of "this would have been good, years ago" was pretty spot on (Not saying this is good, but it would have fit better back in time). I wasn't even going to post it, but I had said I would, and clearly a Sunday almost a year into lockdoor was the obvious time to do it.
Songs mentioned: Girls Just Want To Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper. Nothing Ever Happens by Del Amitri.
I meant to have cut 2 scene from this to make it easier to read, but I managed to lose the file I did that in.
With a whimper (To steal a cliche)
Slowly but surely this site is turning into a read only thing that will be static (which is why reviewing or logging in isn't allowed any more). There are many reasons, I grew to hate posting stories and I still do - one negative sentiment could out weigh a million positive sentiments in my head, combined with imposter syndrome and my life going through changes around me and realising I'm responsible for my own life and happiness meant that Idecided to 'get out of the kitchen'..
The lack of care and attention to the site and the fact that I wasn't the only person to post meant that a recent post had a large amount of email bounces and complaints, which lead to AWS suspending the SES account this site used for emails. I started the site 16 years ago, and well, every time I look at the code I shudder. Who needs to comment code, your future self will remember what you thought, right? The fact that it survived a move to the latest Ubuntu server, MySQL and PHP was amazing, although having to do the conversion work and remembering that UTF was a problem 16 years ago and moving from ancient MySQL Server to new MySQL Server had some problems that meant I have hacks in place over the code to mitigiate some ligature issues,
I don't read or write Fanfiction anymore and haven't for years. This story was an attempt to get back into it when I started it a four years ago - it didn't work.
I still write, but I write original stuff (that has all my traditional flaws) and want to finish it before I post it anywhere (no idea where) and I still overuse parenthesis.