Draco Malfoy cowered in his bed.
Today had gone poorly. At last it was mostly over.
Again he glanced at the sealed container in his trunk, containing the book his father had tasked him with delivering.
After the rough year and failures he had suffered through, he had spent time convincing himself all those strange feelings felt from Potter had to have been a trick, some sort of low level spell or just high stress or something.
When his father had asked HIM of all people to handle an important task, it had seemed like everything was going Malfoy's way! All he had to do was get the thing to that weasel blood traitor girl, and he could wipe his hands of the whole issue. He had originally planned to use a third party and an anonymous love note to send it to her... but hearing Potter's voice had enraged him on the train.
All his plans had seemed so simple, the idea of danger so abstract, until a boy in his year doubled in height and dripped angry power. It had taken hours for his hands to stop shaking... and the girl he was supposed to target was RIGHT THERE! Not even in the school for ten minutes and she was already within his sphere of influence!
Worse, those skeletal hands that had gripped his throat had NOT vanished. Even now he felt the light touch of bones against his skin, tightening each time he tried to threaten the first years, to establish command over his year.
Not so much a warning, but a promise.
The twelve year old sniffled, but focused most of his emotions toward anger. His father had dismissed his cautions, had ignored any idea that another child could threaten his plans... and now HE was stuck with getting rid of something so dangerous that it had to be held in (literally) cursed cloth to be handled.
His mind froze, following that thought. Yes, getting this item into the hands of Potter's minions may be possible, but every part of his being screamed that the retribution would be swift and unyielding.
So... if he couldn't (easily) achieve his main goal, could he fail in a way to avoid punishment? Or better yet, to gain praise somehow?
Ensuring his bed curtains were closed, he incanted a small light orb near his hidden storage. Most Slytherins had spaces like this, the ones who wished for social advancement at least. He quickly reviewed his coded notes, listing what he could gather and spy of the social structure for the dungeon. These notes held relationships, blackmail, plans... and hopefully a solution.
Both Greengrass girls were out, as was Davis. If getting the item to female weasel was out, getting it into Potter's inner circle was laughable. However Graham Montague, current Chaser on the Slytherin Quidditch team, had been one of the ones to most loudly protest Draco's bid to become Seeker on the team. The boy was also the one he had gained the least amount of... leverage.
Since his original plan to gain membership had revolved a substantial bribe of brand new brooms, a plan nixed by his father due to heavy unexpected financial losses this year, this could work in Malfoy's favor instead.
It took an hour before he had the full plan laid out, but soon he gingerly lifted the cursed cloth and quietly moved in the shadows, working his way into the other boy's room.
As he quietly left to report someone having 'stolen' an 'unknown' package someone had sent him, he had to prevent any chuckling. The boy would be blamed for theft, the item unfortunately taken by Snape no doubt, but then it wouldn't be HIS problem. 'Oh father, when he stole it from me I had to prevent it from getting away from our influence!' That should work.
Unfortunately as he left to set off his schemes, Draco failed to notice those bony fingers vanishing from his spine when the cloth wrapped object was exposed.
Wrath ignored the nearby Slytherin sleeping as he gently unwrapped the book, his large skeletal frame looming in the tiny room, gloved hands caressing the horrified diary. Green embers smiled at the despair in his hands. "How... unexpected. Hello, Mr. Riddle."
Even as the being shifted to his Master's bedroom, a dark chuckle tore at the darkness.
Harry yawned at breakfast, already having received a meeting request with Professor McGonagall soon.
Last night had been a bit of a mess.
First he had to answer the same questions several times, let the various teachers check the provided food for safety, and try his best to avoid talking about the sinful woman clutching his body protectively.
He only had moderate success.
When he got to his room he had been met by a distraught house elf, Doreen. She had been sure that somehow the elves had failed him, that he would refuse their offerings for another. It had taken some serious explanation and providing her samples to convince her that he meant no offense... and that process was slowed down as she seemed overwhelmed by each kindness he displayed. Offer her a sample? Massive argument.
Eventually he had told her of his appointment with the Deputy Headmistress and assured her that he would make sure they could provide equal if not greater quality food in the future.
Then Wrath had shown up. Did he even BOTHER with using the illusion stones? Seriously, Harry had worked hard to design those. At least he brought a snack, a book steeped in power and rage. A bottle of memories and a soul-less book later, and Hedwig had shown up in a dashing cape to deliver both to the DMLE, Amelia Bones to be exact.
Even if he could now easily eat normal food, evil souls and magic still had that zing that made his lips tingle and his tongue numb. Wisdom had dumped the rest of the info into the Tree for harvesting, Harry relaxed with a drop or two of tea and fell deeply into sleep.
Barely awake at the table, he sipped one of Daphne's favorite drinks from the island. This one was mostly mango and oranges... or something. Went well with the pancakes anyway.
He cursed how early it was and how TIRED he felt. His body was technically fine, but he just wasn't used to this hour.
Standing from the near empty table he waved his dishes away. Island dishes tended to be made from the many bones harvested, since the rapid production had lots of leftovers not normally used. The furs and feathers were popular at least.
Dragging his feet slightly, he checked the morning briefs. Most Islanders were not magical of course, as the most oppressed were non-magical werewolves, squibs, and new-bloods. Their families tended to be non-magical as well, since they were pushed away from most magical societies, and thus the Runic Team had been focusing on trying to push different opportunities for these new residents.
So he had a shop that provided more and more 'Profession Packs'. Each one contained a set of tools designed or improved from the non-magical world, and could either be purchased straight away or 'loaned', in which case a percentage of all future creations were taken to fund the purchase until paid off.
It had really started something of a culture boom, as the construction crews could expand now that they had tools with enhanced abilities. Saws that used vanishing runes instead of blades, safe to flesh and leaving no dust behind. Clamps that could stay stationary in mid air for ease of use. Tools that reduced weight, that expanded tight spaces temporary to work in, that allowed steady light where required. Even witches and wizards preferred the tools, as they pulled magic from the island first before trying to pull power from he user. While only magicals could use the tools off island, anyone could create if they were local.
He chuckled as he skipped past the ongoing complaints about the time runes. The first issues had been submitted by the cheese groups, but the wine and vinegar teams quickly followed. Basically, food changes over time... but not always for the better. Too much age can make different wines or vinegars taste WORSE, in fact. And the time needed was different based on things like temperature, the type of product involved, the mass of the product, etc. Cheese in fact had two aging processes, which he hadn't known before: The culture of the cheese converting lactose to lactic acid, which controlled the sharpness and textures of the cheese, and the 'proteolysis' process that breaks down cheese proteins to make it more gooey.
Long story short, accelerating time makes production fast but didn't make super cheese. Not without a lot of work and (apparently) competition. There were over twenty separate cheese groups actively competing now, only a few selling their results to the Kingdom for production while the rest took loans to produce in house.
Most of the rest of his brief was not really vital, so he made a few quick modifications and comments and sent it off to Glen as he reached Professor McGonagall's office.
He blinked as he opened the door. There were more people than he had expected, especially this early on a school day. Snape thankfully wasn't here, but both Professor Flitwick and Professor Sprout seemed far too awake for this time of day.
As he sat in front of the desk, Professor McGonagall looked up at him. And up. "Before we begin, may I ask why you went from an adorable 11 year old student into a professional body builder?"
He shrugged. "Everyone has to grow up sometime." He flexed a massive arm with a grin and a raised eyebrow, making her roll her eyes.
She held up a newspaper. "'Harry Potter Crowned King'. It goes on to claim you are gathering dark armies, feasting on the flesh of the poor, and taking children from their beds."
He coughed. "In my defense, that was a fairly recent development. The kingdom thing, not the rest of that rubbish."
Her hand barely shifted, exposing more articles. "'Dark Lord Potter Reveals Secret Evil Kingdom'. And apparently all of the citizens are female and in your harem. You blackmailed and threatened dozens of people to make it happen."
Harry shrugged. "Glen notified me about that stuff this morning after she got the early releases from the Daily Prophet. The legal team is already working on it, the stories should be retracted by this afternoon, or Tuesday at the latest."
She sighed. "Ah yes, Glen. The papers suggest she is your... personal secretary? Something more perhaps. Why?"
He nodded. "Paperwork."
Her eyes narrowed. "And she is a Veela."
Flitwick was starting to chuckle at the situation.
Professor McGonagall sighed into her hand. "Why are you here Mr. Potter? You do things by accident with magic now that are more complicated and require more concentration than anything we can teach you."
He gave a weak grin. "My friends are here. My people's children may be attending at some point, especially as some of my friends may move their families to Drake Island. I am technically doing a bit of spying, gathering information about the school to assist in determining what changes need to be made soon. It should help me know who to bribe and by how much to get things done."
His grin expanded. "Besides, I need the break. Building a kingdom is surprisingly stressful."
Professor Flitwick was grinning like mad. "Do you have more information about your island?"
The boy passed over a few informational brochures. Within hours of the confidentiality contract expiring last night these had been released for sale and became quite popular in Luna's Quibbler shop. A side project of the paper, they were filled with glossy moving images showing all the best sides of the Island, and were updated on a weekly basis.
The report this morning suggested that (as he had technically spoiled the secret moments after entering the castle) already thousands were being mailed and shipped from the island to friends and family. Glen had sent several stacks by Bangle Post with this morning briefing, along with a few to his friends... not that he had time to check it since he had gotten up so early.
Professor Sprout looked over the section for Island Second, mesmerized by the massive bands of forest guarded by the majestic tree that rose above it all. All three teachers were amazed at the extensive images produced by the Island Cooks crew showing their many dishes, some of which they had 'taste tested' from Harry's dishes last night.
Professor Flitwick was intrigued by the details concerning the disposable 'Dragon Bangles', and the work done on the pamphlet itself. Seeing the many runes, he made a mental note to show them to Professor Babbling who would likely be overjoyed seeing her subject used so well.
Professor McGonagall just stared at hers, slowly turning each page. "You built the world's first Vampire Apartment-Coven. And Mermaid Express Routes." She closed her eyes, and groaned. "Mr. Potter... Harry. How exactly am I supposed to give you a project to keep you busy here, if the things you do for fun are a thousand times more difficult and complicated?"
He frowned. "Oh trust me, Drake Island keeps me busy. Every morning I get dozens of documents to review and respond to, and that is practically nothing compared to how much paperwork I USED to get. As it stands I will mostly be auditing each class, helping out if needed. I may end up needing to leave for meetings or visitors, possibly for emergencies. I will try to handle those issues discreetly."
She raised an eyebrow. "As discreetly as you handled that young lady who appeared wearing such clothing last night? With her two sisters?"
Harry sighed. "First of all, there are no sisters. Her name is Windy. She is part of my soul, and can duplicate herself without limit." A wave of his hand and Watcher, Wisdom, Windy, and Wrath showed up.
And Jim, who was QUITE angry at being bothered during his personal project.
For the next few minutes everyone (Harry's aspects included) watched a baby vampire duck waddle in fury, quacking obscenities. Probably. Based on Harry's expressions anyway.
Wrath gave the poor boy a bone teacup and saucer, hot steam rising gently. Watcher nodded at the group in general, remaining silent. Wisdom was still writing in one of her project journals, more floating around her. Windy... well, she had sat in his lap nearly spilling his tea, her very tight schoolgirl outfit shifting a little too much as she wrapped him up in a hug, snuggling into his chest.
Jim wasn't even half done with his rant. He had been BUSY dang it!
Professor McGonagall took a look at the boy being purred over and surrounded by powerful magical entities... before her gaze was dragged back down to the angry baby duck. A twelve year old King, trying to fit in with people half his size.
She groaned at the chaos this would cause. He was certainly Jame's child.
Professor Sprout had barely looked away from her pamphlet. Unlike the other teachers, she had been introduced to many of Harry's 'Aspects' last year, when Harry had visited the Hufflepuff homeroom on one of his visits to see Susan Bones and Hannah Abbott. "How are you getting all these fruits and vegetables? Some are very out of season. Did you build your own greenhouses?"
Harry shook his head. "No, Windy and I created our own Runic Language, and hired people to create farms that would take seeds and automatically plant, care for, and harvest their products. Then we added time acceleration and... well, after some glitches and accidents, our supply is good to say the least."
He shuddered. "Did you know peanuts flower above ground then send their produce back under the soil? Before our team caught it we had almost all the dirt in that farm replaced with rapidly aging peanut butter."
All three looked shocked at that... more likely due to manipulating time than having a near-peanut experience.
Professor McGonagall just felt awe. "How? Just modifying a single rune can take years!"
He shrugged. "Long story short, I am faking an entire civilization of powerful magical people all believing identical thoughts about my runes. Magic resonates with 'them', so the runes work as intended instantly rather than fifty years later."
Her thoughts ran like they mostly did these days to the financial possibilities. "We already have a contract with Potter's Potions, would it be possible to do something similar with your food reserves?" She blinked. "And to possibly teach your runic language?"
Harry scratched his chin, looking up. "As for the runic stuff, no. 'Ruin Runes' are reserved for my Kingdom, and those who wish to learn or use them will need to sign at least a citizen contract. Not that anyone can use my system without permission anyway. It may change later on, I've heard conversations about contracting outside businesses for a percentage of profit."
She went back to her first thought. "But you do have a surplus of food though?"
Harry snorted. "Surplus was a few weeks ago, even after several large scale orders and a few subscription services, we have silly amounts of reserve being increased hourly. None will age or go to waste, so yes, we have a lot."
She leaned forward in her chair. "One of the largest items still eating up the school's budget relates to our food supply. While Hogwarts has elves for delivery and food production, our sources come from one of the families that has pushed all competition out of their market. We are allowed to purchase food and drink from anywhere technically, but anyone who attempted were harassed until they forfeit their contract."
Minerva grimaced. "Worse, every time we tried to go with a competitor, our only supplier would permanently raise all prices, even higher than they did yearly anyway. Over a third of our budget is spent on food that we should be able to purchase for sickles on the galleon, but everyone knows not to sell to us or they will have burnt fields, missing employees, accidents, and even their other customers harassed."
Harry frowned. "May I see numbers?" She flicked her wand a few time and passed papers to him. "Wow... I am amazed you had everything still running under this kind of pressure. It also explains why we have so few teachers and are unable to replace Binns and Snape."
She sighed. "Professor Snape is a whole different set of issues, which I don't want to talk about right now. But yes, even his class would be improved if he was allowed to provide safety instructions and equipment, like we had back when he was a student. Professor Sprout had to pay for much of her greenhouse repair and maintenance out of her own pocket, and until you converted the old brooms I had been considering just ending the broom lesson courses... it was just getting too dangerous."
After finishing the last page, he gave a firm nod and tapped one of the many tattoos on his left wrist. The breathtaking woman smiled as her window popped up. "Yes, your Majesty?" Absently he sent her a copy of the paperwork. "Glen, look over that document and have Legal make a subscription based contract handling ingredient delivery for Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. Cover potion ingredients as well, I have no doubt those costs are stupid high as well."
He glanced at the enthralled audience. "As much as I would like to just donate the food, I am under some contracts with the Goblin Nation. To prevent global financial issues I can't just give things away for the same reason Flamel couldn't just pass gold around."
Professor McGonagall nodded. "What are the restrictions then?"
Harry stretched as he watched Glen passing paper around. "Goblins do research on each item for sale and determine a 'cost' value for someone without my advantages. Say the average cost for one of my high quality apples, for example. On my Island, I am allowed to sell that apple for 50% to government employees, 75% to citizens, 100% to visitors. Off island, it is 110% for those under contract, 120% for everyone else."
She blinked, her coworkers flipping back through the 'financial' section of the pamphlet. "Why so high?"
Harry grinned. "I have almost zero manufacturing cost, and all the various foods tend to help lower cost for each other, by providing food for my own animals or fertilizer for my plants, etc. As Transportation is dirt cheap as well, 120% still undersells many 'gourmet' sources while still being ultra-high quality. If I didn't over price my external sales, everyone else would go out of business."
He waved a hand. "I can give massive discounts to my employees as part of the compensation for the restrictive contracts they are under. Let's just say it is VERY unlikely anyone could betray me on purpose if they are under the government contracts. Oh they could quit of course, at which point we void their contracts, but spies and betrayal will be... very unlikely."
Leaning back in his chair he raised an eyebrow. "On a different note, since we will have to wait a bit for the paperwork to be ready anyway, can we talk about Hogwarts ward system? Last year we had a dark spirit possessing a teacher just wander in, and this year a cursed object wrapped in another dark object caused no issue or alarm." Seeing their alarm, he waved a hand. "It has already been handled and all evidence handed over to the DMLE, but I'm not happy with having to deal with it myself."
She blinked. "What?" A wand wave exposed a small row of strange gadgets. "But... none of the Headmaster's tools were alerted. At least, not according to my copies. Do you know where the cursed object was stored?"
He sipped from his bone cup. "Initially in a second year Slytherin's trunk, then in their dormitory. Entered by elf transport from the train station after the students arrived. I won't give anymore information, the item in question is part of a set, and if news gets out that the DMLE has one the others may be hidden."
Professor McGonagall frowned at a brown orb that should have been spinning. "That... that should have made several alerts activate."
Harry nodded. "If there are no objections, I have a warding team I want to call up here to view the castle's wardstone. I could do it myself, but Gringotts has requested me not work with any until they finish examining Drake Island." He still was annoyed at that. The general argument was 'Everything you touch freaks out', so they wanted everything previous documented and a whole bunch of witnesses before his next 'Grand Work'.
He was already a fully accredited Master Warder, licensed by the English branch of the bank, yet he felt like everyone was treating him like a bomb about to go off.
That was SO last summer.
After a bit of discussion with her friends and coworkers, Professor McGonagall sighed. "To be honest, only Albus knows where the entrance to the wardstone chamber is... probably. It's really hard to get information from him that is both understandable and on topic sometimes. Kept saying 'You'll find it if you need it really, really badly' and nothing else. Well, he did lead us randomly around the seventh floor while saying something about bathrooms..." She awkwardly let that sentence go hide somewhere.
Harry chuckled, his muscular arm pulling Windy closer. A quick glance showed Glen rapidly doing something with some paperwork before a quick snap of the fingers brought her attention to the still open application. "Glen, send some curse breakers to the school, have them scan everything. We need to at the very least find the entrance to the school's wardstone, which may or may not be somewhere on the seventh level of the building. Updates are to be sent to the Deputy Headmistress as well."
He frowned. "Something feels wrong in this place anyway, especially since feeling it in my new body. Now that I am not spilling magical power everywhere it feels very obvious, dark... in more than one place too. Besides, it has probably been several centuries since anyone's checked for dark artifacts and curses. Make sure some of the ISF comes along for the team's protection."
The woman snapped off a peppy salute, causing interesting movements as she grinned. "Yes sir, sire! And the requested contracts will be arriving by post any moment now."
Chuckling as the connection vanished, he pulled the documents (thick as they were) and added them to the teacher's desk. "I'll follow that up by having them contact you when the teams arrive. Could we summon the school to the great hall that day? Just to prevent issues, I mean."
Professor Sprout looked away from her pamphlet with a happy expression. "Oh! We could have a bit of a party perhaps? Music, some dancing..." She sighed. "We used to have several dances a year in our time, before the war changed so much."
He shrugged. "As long as no one is in the way, sounds great. One last thing..." His eyes narrowed. "Professor Snape will have to be kept under heel this year. He tried to kill me, but more importantly my son. Now my son is out of harms way, but the man's rage is out of control and I won't have him hurting children in an attempt to get at me."
Professor McGonagall sighed. "That is actually a substantial portion of his bad humor right now. He had to sign a very restrictive contract this year to avoid any further punishment than garnishing his wages, and he only got off THAT easily due to neither you nor your son pressing charges. He can't threaten anyone or give and take points anymore, at least not for the next five years. Any detentions he tries to assign have to be confirmed by a second teacher."
Harry frowned. "Well, just in case Watcher will be... observing his classes. Maybe that new guys one too, he looked a bit.. strange."
All three teachers winced. "Ah... 'Professor' Lockhart." Minerva gave him a serious look. "PLEASE let me know if you can find a reason to fire him. Somehow he convinced the Headmaster to sign his employment contract in exchange for lemon drops." She pulled open a drawer, surprising the boy by opening a Potter's Potion.
Her smile was much lighter after a sip. "Mmm. Your headache potions are a lifesaver, Mr. Potter. Non-addictive, no side-effects, and for once I can look forward to the taste." She narrowed her eyes. "Feel free to stop GIVING me these headaches though. Another major train modification? Really?"
He gave a sheepish grin. "I think I'll change a compartment every year. I heard last year's became fairly popular."
She groaned. "Don't remind me, none of us could undo the changes. We had to add that room as part of the train patrol... that one car is over thirty meters long!"
Harry shrugged. "The new one isn't, I have much better control now. It has a whole nature theme going on. Maybe I should do water next year? Something with waves."
Her co-head of houses snickered as she sighed, her lips quirking slightly. "Just go back to your friends Mr. Potter, and get ready for class today." She passed the signed documents over to the boy. "I must admit, this is one of the shortest and easiest to read contracts I've ever worked with. When can we expect the first shipment?"
Harry grinned, as he quickly posted the documents to Glen with a note. "Dobby should pop over in an hour or so to show the elves where everything is and how to access the product. By dinner tonight we should be golden." Even as he faded away Harry gave a grin that reminded her of a young man years ago, a father long since gone and missed.
She glanced back at the pamphlet left behind. At least he was focusing his energy on something worthwhile instead of never ending pranks.
Herbology was fairly straight forward, although the defense professor ('Golderoy Lockhart' apparently) had recovered from his funk from last night and was attempting to instruct Professor Sprout about the proper method of harvesting something or other.
Based on the woman's twitching eyebrows, the overly dressed man was close to becoming mulch. When the class had been bundled into the greenhouse with the noisy man outside, more than one sighed with relief. Hopefully. Actually, now that he was paying attention, Harry realized more than a few girls were sighing with disappointment. Weird.
Professor Sprout was handing out ear-muffs while gathering the group around a raised table covered in dirt with saplings poking up. "Today we will be working with potting these newly sprouted Mandrake Roots. Can anyone tell me about them?"
Hermione had an arm ready to go. "Mandrake is a powerful restorative, that can return people who have been cursed or transformed into their original state. To defend itself the root transforms into a childlike shape based on the creature that pulled it from the ground and uses sonic attacks to scare or kill its attacker."
The Professor smiled wildly. "Excellent indeed, Ms. Granger! Have twenty points. Most don't realize that Mandrakes will only work for the species that uproots them, as the same magic that makes the root look like our species will act as the restorative in the later potion. If a Centaur were to pull this plant, the root would look like a foal instead of a baby."
She waved a hand at the tufty little plants, rows of purplish green wiggling in the soil. "Thankfully these are still young, so their 'cries' won't kill yet. When they mature, their sonic attack becomes very deadly as they can no longer handle being uprooted as safely in later years. Now, earmuffs on!"
The class got strange from there. Each mandrake looked like an angry, dirty baby. Screaming some sort of magical attack, Harry was more than grateful for the earmuffs as the root squirmed in his hand as he shoved them into the new pot.
At the end of it all, the dirty and tired group ran back to their dorms for a change of clothing and a shower while Harry pulled the dirt away and back into the greenhouse, his cleansed body barely warmed up from the minor physical task.
Transfiguration was straight forward for Harry and his friends, as they had the unfair advantage of being modified by a soul mage (not that he knew it way back in first year) and thus was able to attempt transforming their beetles into buttons far more often without becoming tired.
Thankfully they only had Defense Against the Dark Arts this afternoon, and Harry had spent a few minutes reviewing the involved texts with Hermione. The two had been surprised at the lack of spell movements and instructions until Harry figured out that the series must be used as a story frame work to both guide the class lessons and make it easier to remember the material.
The two students were actually surprised at the level of forethought of their new teacher, and were thrilled that the unimpressive looking man was going to try something so unusual to make learning more interesting.
The Merp team had gathered in Goran's old stone hut, sitting morosely on conjured seats. Luna, Ginny, and Astoria were still in class, but his friends had all gathered in solidarity.
Harry stared into the distance. "He is a moron."
Hermione looked at the multiple books she had purchased with tears in her eyes. "He's a fraud. How could he lie!? With BOOKS no less!"
Susan shifted in her chair. "Aunt Amelia says at least some of the events happened... but she has no idea how a man like Lockhart survived them. She thinks he hired some people to do the work for him."
Tracey sunk into her chair. "That man is an insult to eye candy EVERYWHERE!"
Hermione was pouring over her books. "A third person? Or a group. I was so busy with the Island's Library that I only ready his books twice before school started, and the date conflicts make more sense if the man was a front for an organization that does the actual deeds."
Harry frowned. "That would be reasonable. Let a group of people attempt various acts, build up a public face with this guy using any successes, and use the funds to continue the process and make profit. It would also explain why the man is so incompetent magically."
Neville blinked. "Wait Harry, what do you mean incompetent? I mean, he got harassed by those pixies he released, but couldn't he just be a coward?"
He shook his head. "My vision has been improved since last year, and I can actually see souls in much more detail. The man has focused his life on only a few spells, though I can't tell which ones. Maybe three total. All other castings are literally below third year level at best."
Daphne had been reading while leaning against his side, but blinked. "More detail?"
Harry waved a hand, an illusion of her soul floating in the air. The black stone had grown much more detailed, symbols chiseled and glowing while the blue liquid sparkled. "This is what Daphne's soul looked like before I connected closer with the Deathly Hallow energy. Before I reached this new level of power."
A finger twist and the orb shifted, expanded. Several people gasped as the orb melted.
Gears within gears, pushing springs, pumps, tubes. A globe of microscopic levers and toggles and strange shapes twisting inside themselves. Each part colored black or blue, some solid stone and some liquid crystal. Unlike the simplified version before, now there were visible stone water levers and liquid black gears and everything else in between, with blue crystal running like thin plant roots between and through them all.
Harry gently turned the image in the silence that fell on the room. "There is a reason no one except a soul mage should attempt to modify the spirit. This isn't what I see exactly, but a representation, vastly simplified. Before my changes, I would subconsciously modify all of this simultaneously while spreading the magical threading evenly."
His hands shifted, the orb rapidly changing. "Anyone can cast soul magic really, but only soul mages could do so safely. It is why necromancers killed so many children, hoping to find one of us to ensure the dead were properly raised. Of course, that same evil is why necromancy tends to be banned. The killing curse smashes into this, tears into gears, destroys vials and tubing."
His finger tapped the image, showing a massive spike of power smashing into the infinitively fragile orb leaving a gaping wound. "I of course, was given a chance to recover from this, as slim a chance as it was. Without my mother's ritual and a soul shard from Riddle, my soul would have likely collapsed even as it tried to heal itself."
The illusions vanished as he leaned back. "Killing his soul shard and harvesting it destabilized my core again, an issue I have since fixed. But now I can see exactly what is going on, and some of the more bizarre side effects of my past actions."
Terry groaned. "I'm going to regret this, I'm sure. What side effects?"
Harry chuckled. "Well for around three hours or so, we were all married. I mentioned it to Daphne and Hermione, but I think they thought it was a joke."
Their expressions were priceless. Susan cleared her throat, her blush epic. "S... So how did it happen? And how did it end?"
Harry waved an illusion into the air again, his other hand opening one of his waters to take a gulp. "Anyone heard of a soul-bond?" Seeing a few shocked nods, he grinned. "Well, imagine a potential soul bond like this."
A golden thread glittered in the air, floating.
His hand tapped the thread and it twisted into a rope. "This would be a completed soul bond, instantly marking the connected as 'married' magically thanks to dozens of laws and past actions in the magical government. It is very difficult to sever safely, nearly impossible if one isn't a master at soul magic."
Harry chuckled watching the rope twist. "As for us, we didn't go with the rope route really."
And suddenly an illusion of a white room appeared, lined with wooden doors with each friends name on it. "We went much deeper." Moving the pencil thin rope next to a door, he grinned. "Yes, these connections are to scale, and yes, we are connected so much more deeply than a soul-bond that it didn't even register as marriage."
Neville blinked, and seemed distracted by something. "Then what changed?"
Harry sighed. "I cut our connections to barely anything during my ascension, to prevent pain or death from your souls being connected to mine. I once thought these were just mind realms, but found that instead they were a combination of your mind and soul, which is why they have so many additional benefits than standard occlumency. I set up this white room connection after my transformation, which is why we are no longer hitched."
Hermione blinked. "I wondered what happened when I couldn't study in my mind. Since everything got easier to do after the issue, I just assumed I had crossed some sort of milestone while practicing."
Harry shrugged, taking another sip of his cool water. "In a way you did. The new connection is completely powered by me, automatically. After using some power to connect, you can now stay there forever without running out of juice, so to speak. I'm calling that area the soul hub for now."
Hannah sighed. "All this is interesting in a terrifying 'I was married and never noticed' sort of way, what are we going to do about Lockhart? Aside from his terrible teaching style, I felt uncomfortable about how he was looking at the older students."
The boy rolled his massive shoulders. "I took a few minutes to talk with Professor McGonagall, and Windy has volunteered as an assistant. Aside from keeping an eye on him, she apparently is enjoying messing with the man's mind. No, the real issue is our current and future education. I've seen the man's books, and using them as ACTUAL learning material rather than a memorization method is beyond useless."
Daphne felt her heart slow down from the whole 'A handsome hunk already married me' issue. "Magical publishing is slow and expensive, and there is no official text other than the various 'standard book of spells' series, which is very old at this point. It's been over two hundred years since those texts have been updated, much less corrected or expanded. Maybe we could make something?"
Susan frowned. "Well I've been to the ministry a few times, there is a department somewhere for students who wish to take their Ordinary Wizarding Levels or Nastily Exhausting Wizard Tests. After all, there are foreigners and home students who don't go to Hogwarts."
Harry nodded. "That sounds perfect, I can go 'rub some elbows' so to speak, get some past tests and build some texts from that." Seeing Hermione start to bounce in her chair he rolled his eyes. "I'll need to go alone, but yes Hermione you can take over the project as long as you follow basic ground rules."
She blinked. "Like what?"
He chuckled. "Heavily abbreviated coverage of each item, with external references if more information is desired. Images displaying correct wand usage. Sound per spell for correct pronunciation. Links between sections so that spells will be connected to their counters, links between similar spells. Magical searching and an index."
Hermione frowned, lightly biting her bottom lip. "That... that is doable. How abbreviated?"
Harry grinned. "About half as long as you think is too short. Almost a summary of a summary, that can be expanded to a full description, then to all information that may be relevant."
Daphne hummed. "We should probably do something for each class as well, per year. How can we get that information?"
He waved a hand, dozens of documents fading into and out of view. "Aside from dozens of minds I already scanned from two realities, I have made a complete copy of each teacher's mind this year. A trip to the ministry and we should be ready to build one book of 'essentials' needed to get an Outstanding per class, another for useful spells and so forth maybe."
They talked more before Luna, Ginny, and Astoria bounced in, talking about how their day had gone.
Harry had sat out of most of the conversation, mind whirling as Wisdom and Windy rapidly decoded each mind related to education, this world's teachers first. A quick message to Glen warning her that he would need an Island Publishing company set up soon and he began preparation for a quick trip to the Ministry.
It should be interesting.
Neville hesitantly passed the letter to his owl, addressed to his Grandmother.
They had tried every specialist over the years, but there was only one Harry Potter.
Surely Gran would allow him to try, and Harry would accept Neville was just sure of it.
He watched the owl fly into the distance, his heart beating fast as he held a wrapper in one hand.
Leaving a Windy illusioned as him behind the next day, he shifted to the Leaky Cauldron, the dingy place barely busy as most kids were at school and the adults at work. A few questions later and he was staring at a phone box.
Harry sighed as his hands tugged his new robes. Island made again, slightly adjusted for size using his power, and very fine quality, he was ready to enter this vile hub of sin and corruption.
Any minute now.
"I suppose this is a bad time, King Potter?"
With an high pitch squeak, his massive frame spun and his muscled hand was suddenly holding a porcelain womans throat, her ink black hair curling around her seductive face.
Her ruby red lips curled slowly, as if they were alone enjoying a moment. "Oh my, my Lord. So forward."
With a jerk, he realized he had lifted her two feet off the ground, his other hand glowing a rich green while her cool skin slid like silk from his fingers as he quickly put her down. "Sorry, very sorry. That was... beyond inappropriate."
Her leer exposed a white fang to go with her softly glowing red eyes. "Inappropriate? Perhaps by location, but a strong man willing to assert himself can be very appropriate on occasion."
Seeing the bone sculpted hair ornament in her black locks, he blinked. "Oh... weren't you the woman who helped me set up the Vamperic Apartments?"
She slid white hands with black nails down her rich green dress, one far too sinful for this time of day. "Of course, my Lord. And in the future, I am to guide your social calendar." Her body slid like oil closer as her black nails gently began straightening his clothing... perhaps a bit too much touching. "Glen mentioned that you unfortunately had prior engagements this year, and I did not wish to intrude too soon as you settled back into your life of education."
He gave a rough cough, his face feeling the heat as he gently moved her hands away from... wherever they were trying to roam. "Your name was Carmilla?"
She hesitated, red lips thinned, before giving a solid nod. "Names have power, young one... but for what you've done for me and my family, as well as our future relations, I suppose some trust is in order."
Her eyes seemed to boil red blood as her body gently curtsied. "Lord Harry James Potter, King Potter of Drake Island, I, Countess Mircalla Karnstein, pledge my loyalty and the power of my clan in return for your protection and guidance."
Harry's eyes widened as he felt magic tighten in the air. A small smile crossed his lips. "Some trust indeed. You do realize that strange things happen around me, correct? I haven't accepted a loyalty pledge since my transformation you know."
She challenged him with a devious grin, mirth sparkling in her eyes. "Young man, I've existed for many years. Did you think I would make such a pledge without conviction?"
With a sigh, he gave a rough smile back. "You've been warned, I suppose. Very well. Countess Mircalla Karnstein, known as Carmilla, I, Lord Harry James Potter, King Potter of Drake Island will protect your clan, guide their actions, and provide shelter and food. By your pledge, our words have been bound."
She only had a moment of wide eye startlement before everything went white.
In the empty light, she felt darkness swell within before pouring from her bones. Staining the endless expanse of blank, her body felt something tugging and pulling inside. Scars from years of battle slid from her skin, muscles rapidly repaired unseen wounds, and deep in her mind the constant hunger that had lived in pain began to scream, to drain from her eyes.
Even as she felt her arms shudder in pain, something darker was invading her soul.
No evil, no impulses... this was the black of the sky, the shadow under the tree by a river, the soft black silk sheets that shifted under twitching fingers. Pain, Rage, Humiliation... flowing like bloody rivers Carmilla felt them drain from her skin and soak the white soil below.
Her mind felt each scream being pulled away from her power, each anger lose grip and slide, her darkest nightmares forced to release their cursed grip on her existence.
Like rich black ice water, the cooling power of the beyond flowed under her skin, even as her burning flesh slowly relaxed.
Her eyes flickered open to see concerned green gems so close, thick powerful arms holding her tight, and a level of peace unknown.
His expression when she snuggled closer was priceless, even as she passed out.
Harry looked down at the sex symbol unconscious in his arms, smiling peacefully.
He looked up at the random people staring at what looked like a romance novel, apparently.
Crud. Not like he could just leave her here either. On the island? No, Glen would find out and the teasing would be endless. Same with the castle, even if a Vampire COULD get within those wards... which they just might, seeing how badly they failed at their task last year.
He glanced at the phone booth... and back at her. Crud.
His limbs flexed as he swing her up into a bridal carry, and began striding toward the booth. Absently he expanded the thing a bit to make it easier to carry her in, then followed the directions Susan had passed him. The nerves that had prevented him from doing this was nothing compared to the steady stream of embarrassment, arousal, and constant attempt to NOT accidentally contact Windy about this.
After accepting his nametag ('Potter, Awkward Situation Enabler') the small (now expanded) room dropped underground, opening up into an entry room, a security checkpoint obvious while floo entrances were on either side.
The wizard at what was likely the wand check station seemed stunned as he stared at his arm companion like a man in the desert without water.
His expression shifted quickly when Harry felt a growl rumble through his massive frame. "Er... Good Day Sir! Please hand over your wand to be registered, as well as your business today."
With a hand flick he pulled his wand from storage and passed it over. In the end he had been forced to summon the bloody thing, and it had nearly smashed into a wall before he had caught the thing from wherever it had been. "Lord Potter, to visit the DMLE."
The man nearly swallowed his own tongue, looking back at the slab of muscle in front of his desk. And up. And... yes, he had the scar, even if it looked to be some sort of near-black crystal. "Isn't he like... twelve?"
The being leaned further over the desk, shadow covering the guards shaking hands. "I had a bit of a growth spurt. Are we done here?"
Quickly passing the wand back, he calmly pointed to the elevators, ready to wish him a pleasant day. "Eeep."
Harry strode with confidence through the wide area, his arms holding the cool beauty into his chest like treasure. An unexpected benefit from this whole situation was that most people were going to be focused on his current passenger. Well, maybe they would remember a large person was in the picture, but Carmilla looked far too regal even as she quietly snuggled into his muscles.
The elevator was easy to work, though he decided to head to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement first. The offices he walked through were mostly empty, as the overworked department tended to be out 'on the beat' most of the day, but the few Aurors he passed stared at the massive man cradling a woman in confusion like a shark first seeing an inflatable giraffe.
It took three rooms worth of wandering before anyone even tried to question him. "Watcher mate, everything alright?"
Harry rotated his body to face the woman, her pink hair making a quick impression as she looked at his companion in concern. His smile came naturally. "Mostly, miss. My friend here is suffering from something close to magical overload due to taking a vassal oath, and I needed to meet with Madam Bones if she was available."
She blinked. "Oh, she's out right now, got something big apparently that needed to be followed up."
He chuckled, shifting Carmilla slightly so her head fell gently onto his shoulder. "Sounds like she got my package then. I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name miss."
The athletic woman blinked, then blushed. "Right, sorry bout that. I'm Tonks, sort of the office newbie at the moment."
He gave a wry grin. "Glad to meet you, Auror Tonks. This is my currently unconscious social secretary, Carmilla. And feel free to call me Harry, titles get old faster than you would think."
She chuckled. "Just Tonks is fine. Never been one for lots of formal social junk myself." Her hair flashed into a richer red than pink, catching him off guard. She blinked before giving a laugh. "Right, well if you can't meet up with the chief, can I help you with anything else?"
He gave her a grin that melted her inside. "Actually, yes. I'm looking for the Department of Magical Education, and I admit that it is much less easier to find than here."
The two ended up walking together back to the elevator, Harry enjoying the easy going atmosphere as they conversed. Tonks apparently had a first name but didn't want to talk about it, while Harry got to vent a little as he talked about the responsibilities he got stuck with as a leader of a large number of people.
He kept it a bit vague, not wanting to out Drake Island anymore than it was already. That said he did let her know if she ever wanted a change in position that he had a private security force (the ISF) if she wanted a change of career.
When he parted ways at the needed office, he shifted Carmilla closer as he watched Tonks walk away. "As nice as this has been, I will likely need my arms free for this next bit."
The musical chuckle in his arms ran a tingle down his spine. "When did you notice?"
He shrugged, gently helping her stand. "I noticed you waking up in the elevator, but I assumed that since you didn't move that you felt comfortable as things were. Although the snuggling was a bit of a give away."
He ignored her chuckles as he opened the door, entering an office filled with various cabinets overly stuffed with paper. An older man, wearing traditional pureblood robes and bent heavily over his work, barely looked up. "What is it?"
Harry felt his eyes narrow as he moved with purpose into the room. A quick glance confirmed several things about this... persons... spirit. The soul wound on his left arm made it clear this man was at one point a Death Eater.
With a mental sigh he loomed in the room, eyes going dark. "Mind your tongue. Men of pure standing such as we should show dignity and decorum at all times, no matter the filth that burdens our world."
The crooked man straighted as much as his age would allow, a dark gleam in his eyes sparkling. "A man of culture then?"
Harry's smile would have killed lesser men. "Of course." It took only a moment to rearrange his flesh, creating from Riddle's memories a Dark Mark on his own arm, displaying it. "There is no finer culture than one of breeding, am I right?"
Black eyes widened over the display, before his battered visage broke into a grin. "But of course, my lord. How may I be of assistance?"
Harry straightened his clothing, letting the blood and coloring fade from his 'tattoo' and pulling on a cloak of arrogance. "I have found more and more of our upstanding children gaining substandard grades due to their money being wasted on the teaching of filth. I require a copy of any and all materials related to OWL's and NEWT's testing, along with any... suggested additional reading."
The slimy man was already moving, wand pulling and duplicating documents even as copies were rapidly being collected. "I assume you want the lower quality items reserved for the muds as well?"
The massive boy nodded. "I'll need it to ensure no one catches on to my future plans. If all goes as planned, our precious future Lords and Ladies will stand tall over their filthy classmates." Seeing the pile growth slow, Harry slid a hand subtly from his pocket, hiding that he had drawn a pouch from his inventory. "Of course, such hard work needs rewarding. Even more so as no one came today and no one asked for anything."
Even as the last documents landed on the desk, the corrupt man's crooked grin widened as he quickly took the 'donation', verifying the massive size. With only slight hesitance, he opened another drawer. "My Lord, you may also wish to have a copy of these... bonus items. Anyone can of course gain extra credit for an exam by showing proficiency in these additional spells, even if legally testers are not allowed to suggest such a thing."
Twisted grin grew wider as Harry added another pouch, the additional documents quickly added to the large folder. "It is unfortunate that the mud never heard of these extra questions."
Harry returned a vicious smile. "Indeed, but is it not their fault for not having better parents?"
He left the office to the sound of the rotten jerk laughing, his expression falling into firm determination as Carmilla followed a step behind and to his right. "Carmilla, did I have anything else planned today?"
She checked her black metal Dragon Bangle, applications flashing open and closed. "Four meetings, according to Glen, plus an afternoon with your Son followed by dinner plans."
Harry sighed. "Get a meeting with Nagnok near the top, and make sure Glen knows we are going to get this fixed. We can't let some person with that level of corruption exist so high in Magical Education. Find or manufacture evidence and pass it to Madam Bones for follow up... and if it isn't handled in a week or so, we may need to set up an alternative on Drake Island for higher education."
Carmilla sauntered closer. "Your acting was magnificent, my Lord. Very impressive."
He shivered as he felt her lean on his shoulder as they took the elevator back to the entrance. He had been tagging everywhere they walked with his power for future travel, but appearances had to be kept. "I ripped the minds apart belonging to a couple of men whom acted like that. It was back when I partially dismantled a criminal organization. Times were simpler then."
Harry felt her arm wrap around his as she chuckled. "Far too young for that, my Lord. Now, what exactly happened back at the entrance? It didn't feel bad, but very odd."
He tried to ignore her soft and cool skin on his muscular arm as he guided her from the building past the various checkpoints. "Becoming a vassal of mine makes you a vassal of Drake Island, which is still converting into a part of my soul. The Vamperic curse couldn't be completely removed of course due to how you were reconstructed after death, but as a Soul Mage I have far better control over such things than the original curse designer."
Grinning at her stunned expression, he continued. "So I took the chance and rewrote the curse for you and your clans... which from the feel of it included all vampires on the island and more than a few elsewhere. The mental attacks were destroyed, so new fledglings will no longer be violent. Blood will still be needed for any previously turned, but for anyone in the future it will be an optional power boosting method rather than a major requirement."
He stretched a bit as he gently guided her stunned body towards the exit. "So less rage, less hunger, and a much less painful conversion process. As for you personally, as the head of your family our connection was a bit... deeper. Wrath decided to replace the source of your power from the original curse binding the souls of the consumed into something stronger and with less drawbacks."
Her grip suddenly increased to the point where his bone creaked. "I... I no longer have to hear the screams?"
Harry's smile was smaller, but there was understanding in his green eyes. "Wrath freed them, as he was never that happy with that curse to begin with. Souls belong to his realm, or mine I suppose."
She blinked. "Wait, who is Wrath?"
He chuckled. "An aspect of my soul... an aspect of creation. I suppose you could say Death has always been a good friend of mine."
Carmilla felt her thoughts grind to a halt, her muscles locking tight. "And... I bound myself to..."
Harry pulled her forward as they moved away from the phone booth where she had been locked in shock for several minutes. "I'm not sure why everyone freaks out about that, Death is a part of life and the last friend you'll have. He makes good tea too."
He frowned looking at the street. "Now I just need to find a place to put you where wards won't burn you alive and I won't get teased all the time by Windy." Wait... oh crap.
"So THIS is where you've been... oh. Oh my."
Carmilla looked at the exotic woman dripping in glistening sexuality eying her Vamperic curves, her overly tight skirt and too small shirt barely covering her black skin as blue runes sinfully traced her skin.
Windy gently ran a finger from Carmilla's shoulder, feeling that smooth cool feeling of a hot bed with ice cool pillows under her delicate finger tip, the Vampire too stunned to move.
She turned back to Harry, who looked to be suffering from a massive headache right now.