A/N: I would like to apologize for the long gap in updates. I have been extra busy with a new baby that is trying to crawl and teeth. In addition to that I am traveling back and forth between my home and my parents across the country all the while trying to keep the peace in my home where my inlaws (mother, father, sister, and brother) have moved into our house along with their dogs. Love having them here just slightly overwhelming. Anyways here is the chapter!
So it was that time passed. Before the large family at the Potter family knew it there were Hogwarts letters flying in and interrupting their breakfast.
"Is this it, James?" Eva asked as she looked over the letter that had been addressed to Hermione. There was a smaller piece of parchment that had time slots written on it so that they could schedule an appointment to be properly introduced to the wizarding world.
"Yes, Eva it is. I am betting McGonagall sent you time slots right? You see they care so little about Muggleborns until they get the letter that they haven't even realized whom you all are. The Ministry has a copy of the betrothal but apparently nobody is paying attention there," James grimaced. Even after the hard work and time he had put in to fixing the government, the Ministry was still pretty much useless. Luckily, Madame Bones had taken the Auror department and put it through the wringer and they were now operating smoothly. But it had taken several years to even get to that point.
"Papa James? When will we be able to visit Diagon Alley?" Hermione asked excitedly to which James saw the rest of the young people nodding enthusiastically.
"Well, with your booklists being officially here I suppose a shopping trip could be planned. Sirius? Would you like to accompany us today?" James asked his fellow Marauder.
"Sure James! After all we must get Harry's harem outfitted mustn't we?" Sirius replied with a smirk. Several pieces of food flew at him from many directions but he just waved his hand stopped it in midair and with a stern voice barked out, "What have I told you lot about pranks?"
"If you are going to do it, don't get caught?" Hermione answered.
"Go big or go home?" Fleur added.
"Any prank is better than no prank?" Marina decided to throw her two cents in as well.
Sirius just sighed and shook his head. They were ready. Poor McGonagall wouldn't know what hit her when this group hit Hogwarts. Frankly the last few years since Hermione officially joined them had flown by.
Sirius had decided to poke his head into Hermione's classroom. Well, he mused, it wasn't JUST Hermione's classroom but as she was taking special lessons tailored to her Head Wife position nobody disturbed her and Madame Longbottom.
"How are you to handle your house?" Madame asked authoritatively.
"I am to run this house with a firm yet gentle hand. I am to know the desires and tasks of each wife so that I may ensure she is happy and serving this house to the best of her ability. I am to oversee the raising of all the Potter children as if they were my own. I am to give the Potter no less than three heirs to carry on the Potter, Gryffindor, and Peverell names. More if I am able. If any other wife finds herself in a compromising position I am to immediately dismiss her from my husbands bed, removing all children born through our husband from her custody, and…" here Hermione's voice faltered as she struggled with the harsh reality of her postion once again.
"If you would continue my Lady," Madame Longbottom asked not unkindly.
"And I am to caste her from the Potter family for all eternity to never see her children or heirs again," Hermione whispered while blinking rapidly at the far wall trying to control her tears.
"Do you know why we go over this everyday, my Lady?" Madame Longbottom asked the girl calmly, while ignoring the tears that managed to leak out of the young girls eyes.
"Yes Madame. These are the rules of my family, in which-" Hermione started to recite but was cut off by Madame.
"Yes my dear child but they are also for your protection. You are going into a very enviable position. When you get to Hogwarts and the Legacy becomes known many girls are going to try to assert themselves over you. While Harry would never allow that to happen from an outsider it can make you look weak to those already within the family. The positions in this… harem, for lack of better word, are fluid. The Head Wife has to be strong. Harry loves you and has chosen you of his own free will. This could and undoubtedly will cause problems with the other girls when they realize how much he favors you. You will ALWAYS share his bed unlike the others who must be invited. You are the queen and they are but your handmaidens. There for you and the king to do with as you please," Madame Longbottom explained to the young girl.
Sirius thought it was bit much for a child to understand and was about to voice these thoughts when Hermione straightened up and nodded to the Madame. She began reciting the laws of the family and the lesson got back on track. Sirius would remember that scene for the rest of his life. Hermione Granger was a witch to be reckoned with no matter what her background said to others.
James Potter was making his way down the hall to visit Lily's portrait to tell her how it was time to reenter the wizarding world now that the children had received their letters when he saw a door that was normally locked and sealed shut cracked open. Upon peeking inside he saw Harry and Hermione sitting on a couch having a very serious discussion.
"May I ask why you are not having this discussion in your wing?" James asked.
The children pivoted around to see him leaning easily against the door frame.
"Hello Papa Potter," Hermione grinned mischievously.
"Don't think that nickname is going to dissuade me from the truth Lady Potter," James returned with a grin of his own. The grin threatened to disappear when they glanced at each other and nodded.
"Milly would you join us please?" Harry called out.
Milly the house-elf popped into the room and saw that the time had come for the most revealing discussion to date in the Potter family. She nodded at the Master and retrieved tea things with a snap of her fingers. As she sat everyone down and Hermione served the tea, Milly wondered where to start. Luckily for her, Harry had given this much thought over the last couple of years and he knew just where to dive in.
"Father, have you ever wondered how I have come to accept the situation you put me in so easily?" Harry asked his dad quietly.
"I always assumed you overheard more than you should have and understood less than I would have liked," James relied honestly.
"Well you have the first part right and the second part is completely off. You see while my physical appearance hasn't been impacted a great deal by what Milly did that night so long ago, my mental abilities have. Hermione was always a smart child and as she grew it soon became clear that she was a genius. The amazing thing is that it seems the protection has been waiting for Hermione and has matched my intelligence to hers and then amplified both of ours. We cannot share our thoughts or anything like that but the olde magic the Milly invoked required us to be older mentally to fully utilize it to the fullest extent. So while we may be physically eleven and twelve, mentally we are much older in some ways. We are a product of the situation. The Magic literally needed us to be smarter and more mature, so we are," Harry explained as best he could.
"Why didn't you say anything?" James asked quietly while he tried to process what Harry was saying. It seemed like something out of a fairytale or sci-fi book.
"What should we have said?" Hermione asked, "My parents already knew that the muggle test had said I was a certified genius and they just assumed that Harry was as well. Our tutors really answered to us and taught us at whatever speed we could go and were instructed to teach us until we went to Hogwarts with no set curriculum in place."
"There was never a necessity for telling any one. We didn't want to set ourselves farther apart form the group and this would only do so. The other girls are being told to take one or two subjects and focus on them. Yes, they are well rounded at this moment and could probably pass an OWL in any subject offered at Hogwarts and a few that are not, but we aren't infallible. We need the other girls to help us. This is what you have been training me for, is it not?" Harry asked his father a touch irritated.
"Harry calm down," Milly ordered with a hand on his arm.
"I am not mad Harry and I understand if you are. Your mother and I discussed this before she died. How this would affect you when you were older. We knew there was a possibility that you would hate us but it was a risk we had to take. At least we know that you will always have somebody there for you, a family. We did this to protect you from not only physical harm but also political. We did not anticipate Milly's interference and how it would affect your magic. This was all so that you would be able to grow old and always have a family," and with that James Potter broke down and cried for the first time in years. He cried for his poor wife, dead before her time, he cried for his son being forced into this situation, and he cried for the years he wasted fixing this ass- backwards world instead of getting to really know his son.
"Oh dad," Harry sighed. This only seemed to increase James' tears as he realized he had become his father. No hugs or words of praise for anything. Lily would be so ashamed of James. She would be disgusted with how distant and task oriented James had become. He was so focused on the end goal that he was only there for the bare minimum and had noticed nothing about what his son was going through.
Harry looked over at his best friend and she nodded. They both got up and threw their arms around James as he sobbed. They knew that he was overwhelmed and that maybe they should have come forward sooner about the consequences of that night. As it was, there was nothing they could do about it now. All the children could hope for was that the future would be long enough for them to make this up to James. Only time would tell for this family.
The entire party was quite excited. For the first time Harry would be visiting Diagon Alley without a disguise. In addition, he would actually get to look around and enjoy the Alley. Any other time he had been in Diagon Alley it had simply been to get to the bank, Gringotts. Needless to say, kids were excited and the adults were worried.
For many years James and Sirius had managed to keep Dumbledore's nose away from Harry and the 'harem'. While they knew that everything would come out at the sorting it was still hard to let go. Things don't change over night and the drive to protect all of the kids was too ingrained.
As the group split up in Gringotts to collect money from various vaults, James led Harry and Hermione into a private office. The kids were nervous as this would be their first real life application of everything they had learned these past years. They both stood as the door behind the desk opened and a fairly tall goblin came walking out.
"Greetings Accountant," Harry said in Gobbledegook.
"Greetings, Lord Potter," the goblin answered, "How may we serve you today?"
"I wish to add my future head wife to our accounts and I also wish to take up the head of house as is my right under the charter of my family from Olde," Harry explained quietly but with authority.
"Do you know what this entails, milord? If you go through with this what your father has started will become permanent. Also your father will lose his position unless you name him proxy," the goblin said patronizingly while raising his very impressive bushy eyebrows.
"I am aware of my duties Goblin! That which I claim as mine come forth!" Harry shouted. When the command burst forth from his mouth the air behind him started to shimmer as many girls became solid. Susan Bones, Su Li, Daphne Greengrass, Fleur Delacour, Marina Callaghan, Padma Patil, Parvati Patil, Tracey Davis and Luna Lovegood all appeared behind Harry and Hermione and dropped into a deep curtsy to greet their lord and lady. Susan, the spokeswoman of the group (as previously arranged), stepped forward.
"My Lady Potter, how may we serve the lord?" Susan asked demurely, knowing their every move was being scrutinized. Always defer to the head wife was what Madame Longbottom had drilled in their heads.
"Our lord was simply showing this Goblin that we know what we are doing despite our young age. You ladies may stand in the back and wait for us. Quietly," Hermione ordered with a careless flick of her hand.
"I see I was mistaken to expect your age to be a problem my lord. I will have the papers filed immediately and I expect the previous Lord Potter can help you with the ring. I hope you will accept my apology. When will you be performing the legally binding rites with the ladies my lord?"
"The Lady Potter and I will be wed at Christmas and the other ladies as the year progresses. But we wish to get copies of the History from the family fault," Harry continued with his hand held up to stave off any interruptions, "and I understand there is a substantial charge for this so let's not haggle. Charge my account and be done with it. Also you may go along the proper channels to alert the Ministry of their impending change. I am sure that will satisfy Gringotts."
"Thank you my Lord Potter! That will indeed give cause for a happy feast amongst my people," the accountant replied with a feral grin.
"Very well. We will take our leave now. My last request is that you keep an eye out for an owl for my in-laws. They had a question regarding transactions in the Muggle world and need a goblins ear," Harry said as he left the office, not even needing to worry about whether the Goblin had agreed or not.
After the required shopping trip that consisted of purchasing much more than the young people really needed the group headed back to the Manor. Harry and Hermione had promised to sit down with Dan and Evangeline as soon as they returned for a much needed explanation. While the good doctors had been around they didn't understand much of the plan and why it had to be so secret. Since the word would be out now that they visited the Alley , Lord and Lady Potter had decided that they could fully disclose that which had been secret for these last years.
"So are we finally going to get some damn answers today?" Evangeline asked scathingly as they were escorted into Harry and Hermione's joint sitting room.
"Yes mother. I'm sorry it had to be this way but as Head Wife it was my decision to protect you in case it leaked too before we were ready. But now we can explain what we have been planning for the last year or so," Hermione said soothingly. Her mother very rarely cursed but the last year had been extremely stressful with all the secrets.
"For the last year Hermione and I have been researching what the consequences of what my parents and Milly did. You see my magic is fairly unstable. The connection with Hermione has stabilized most of it but because of the magic of the elves it's too much for her to handle alone. This is where the Potter Family Legacy actually helps. You see many wizarding families owe their fealty to the Potter family. My father was counting on that fealty to provide me with protection but because of the elf bonds it has done even more," Harry started.
"Let me explain it this way... Milly took Harry into her family. This was essentially telling 'magic' that he was her son or nephew. Magic decided to embed him with traits of a house-elf. At first they were worried this would be physical and affect Harry's future in regards to the Wizengamot and his ability to attend Hogwarts. But the truth, as we have learned is much worse in a way. You see when James first thought of this he thought there would be at most three girls for Harry. A Head Wife chosen for love and two contracted wives giving him a strong position on the Wizengamot and in controlling the various family members. Add in him possibly inheriting the Black family title and politically he would be untouchable. This was to keep any Death Eaters and Dumbledore from having any hold over him. However, with Milly's gift the circumstances changed," Hermione looked to Harry and nodded her head for him to continue the tale.
"When I first started researching this in secret I was unsure of what my findings truly meant for the women in my life. Milly was very secretive on some aspects of elf- life and I didn't think to ask. However, when I met Hermione I went to Milly and explained how I felt. Ever since then Milly has been instructing me. You see elves are a little different. They find the most opportunistic match according to magical power. But if a male elf is strong enough magically he would be required to impregnate many other females to ensure powerful progeny and to ensure he doesn't go into the loony bin. This has warped the Potter Family Legacy in ways we hadn't anticipated. If a family owes fealty to house Potter and they have a daughter as their eldest she in essence becomes mine. She will be a contracted wife and the powers of her family become mine upon our marriage. This is both good and bad for me. After all these girls are beautiful and my genetic makeup wouldn't allow for me to be satisfied with only a few children from Hermione. My magic wants me to reproduce as much as possible. Obviously Hermione is the wife of my heart and the only one who will be with me always-" Harry stopped abruptly when Evangeline cut him off.
"What do you mean by the only one to be with you always?" Evangeline asked.
"The stronger the magic of the individual the longer they live. My magic is very, very strong. My own magical power, whatever I absorbed the night my mother died and whatever Milly gave me. Hermione will be able to draw off of that for however long she needs to," Harry answered simply. He was unapologetic. This was their life and they were trying to deal with so much and they couldn't allow any of the parents to derail their focus. Harry and Hermione had discussed all of this with the current Harem members many times over the last year. The girls knew their position and many hadn't even flinched. This was a worthwhile sacrifice. Not to mention that while Hermione was his love many of the girls knew he loved them in his own way. Theirs would not be an unhappy life. They would have a large family and the children they would provide to carry on the family lines would only strengthen that.
"I guess I'm the odd duck out because I still have a little confusion," Dan said,"What exactly does this Legacy do to affect your vassal houses?"
"Originally? I should have had control over their Wizengamot seats until the women married and then they would still vote in my favor unless they wanted to break from my family or had explained their position to me beforehand. Now I will control those directly until such time as we pass them to our children," Harry explained.
"And the difference is?" Dan asked genuinely confused.
"Before the political power was there and yet still wasn't mine completely. The women and their eventual husbands could have voted in their own favor even if it was against my position. People didn't fear it like they will now. Plus there are a lot more women than anybody had anticipated. I mean thirteen? Nobody will believe it when the weddings start. The Wizengamot will be in an uproar for a while until they realize they exist because the Potters and the First Five allow them to do so. The only thing is I am Potter of Potter and control four of the Five. Today we allowed the Goblin nation the privilege of informing the Ministry of Magic and the Wizengamot of our return. That is the Potter, Longbottom, Bones, Callaghan, and the Greengrass families. Without the money and soldiers from these families the Ministry wouldn't have had the power of money to make themselves an authority," Harry finished with a grin.
Hermione looked at her parents and realized that they were still quite confused. It was quite obvious that Harry was devoted to Hermione and they didn't understand how he could be devoted and yet have twelve other wives. She was disappointed because she had hoped they would understand. Many people were going to judge Harry as it was and she didn't want her parents to be a part of that group. How could she explain to make them see reason?
"It's about power, mum. We are consolidating all the political and to an extent, magical, power of these families under the Potter banner. The only way to do that legally is through marriage. If you add in the fluctuating magic Harry needs these other women to keep his magic in check. When it's all said and done this is what Harry needs to win. The government is corrupt and as the head of state by original wizarding law Harry has an obligation to fix it. All this extra magic and the problems with it are only there to help him," Hermione hoped that this would be the end of it. They still needed to speak with the Harem members before the day was out.
"My last question is why the timeline for your wedding has been moved up? The clause I the contract we signed said that only you two could move the date up. So why have you decided to do so?" Dan asked.
"That would be mostly fear, sir. We discussed this in depth between ourselves, the other girls, and I brought it up to Sirius a month ago. I'm very worried that Dumbledore will use Hermione when we get to Hogwarts as she will be the only girl unprotected by a family name. After much consideration and discussion we decided to give her one officially. We will be engaged not just contracted when we enter Hogwarts and at Christmas we are going to finalize it and get get married," Harry explained.
"Well I can't be angry over more protection for my daughter and you as well Harry. We have gotten to know all of you kids over the last few years and I for one would never want any harm to come to any of you. But it's just hard to think of you two being married so young and then this harem bit... Quite honestly it seems very far fetched. I think the only thing keeping us here and not running in the other direction is Hermione's happiness," Evangeline conceded, "I also know the other girls are waiting for you in the 'war room' as you all call it."
"We will see you tomorrow mum, dad. Please just remember I love you and so does Harry and the others. That won't change," Hermione promised with a quick hug and kiss to each her parents.
With that the couple left Hermione's parents and headed to debrief the harem over the day's events.
"What took you two so long?" Marina quipped as soon as the doors were shut.
"My parents ask as many and as thorough questions as I do. What do you think took us so long?" Hermione snapped at her.
"Cool it Hermione. We don't need the 'Head Wife' act here. Here we can be ourselves. The girls who got roped into Harry's magic," Daphne said with a sneer in Harry's direction.
"Look, we need to discuss what happened today and the plans we have so far for the beginning of term. Luna what has become of you and Tracey's research about the sorting hat? Have you two determined which house would accept the group the best?" Harry asked with authority, effectively ending the fight that would have no doubt erupted.
"Well we seem to be fluctuating between all three still. It goes without saying Gryffindor is out. Dumbledore has too much influence there not to mention we would have to have direct contact year mate wise with Weasleys. In my opinion, Slytherin and Ravenclaw seem to be the least under Dumbledore's thumb. Madame Sprout simply put, is a good head of house but not strong enough to take on Dumbledore. Flitwick and Snape both have the ability and the gumption to do it. Obviously, this is where Tracey and I disagree. I say that Snape won't be able to leave his hatred of all things Potter behind even with the apology and she thinks the advantage of being in his house outweighs his possible hatred. In the end we will all be sorted after you since you are titled and therefore you can decide however you wish and we will follow your lead," the soft tones of Luna's voice replied.
"Very well. I think that Ravenclaw will be better for some and Slytherin for others. Obviously, Hermione wouldn't be welcomed in Slytherin at this point," Harry said with an apologetic glance at his girl, "I have to do what's best for the Family. I will let you know before the actual sorting but be ready for Ravenclaw. Now where are we in regards to our curriculum plans?"
Here Hermione took the lead, "We have divided up the subjects with the proviso of more girls as the subjects get more difficult. We assigned multiple researchers for the core subjects of charms, transfiguration, potions, and defense. Obviously, we have been tutored to about the fifth year level for these classes thanks to Papa James. Now that our magic is stabilizing for Hogwarts we will be able to do the actual fifth year spells with more finesse. In regards to the research on the family magic and elf magic... It is slow going. We have to research much more than spells. It has a lot to do with history and intent as well. The good thing is by going through the Potter Family scrolls we are unearthing a lot of information on Ignotus and his branch of the family. While he wasn't in a situation as dire as ours he did fulfill the requirements for multiple wives. So far nothing has been especially helpful. But we will continue our research and see if anything pops up."
"Very well. Finally, I just wanted to say well done. I know for many of you this afternoon at Gringotts was not at all fun. We all have our roles to play outside of our home. I hope that we can one day move past these on the outside as well but until then stay strong. You are all strong, intelligent and frankly quite terrifying. But if we want to enact change fast we have to do so using these archaic laws. I guess, in a way, I'm saying thank you," Harry admitted sheepishly.
"Don't worry about it Harry. Our parents have explained it to us enough. Even Hermione has sat us down and asked each of us what we thought. Especially after her first lesson with Madame Longbottom. We are your vassals and frankly the decline of the Purebloods because of their inbreeding would have caused many of us more problems than we will experience with you. At least Hermione is inclined to be kind to us. Most other wives would not be," Susan, once again acting as the spokeswoman, answered on behalf of her sisters. These girls knew that they would have had to continues their family lines in a much less preferred way if it wasn't for James Potter. To have the embarrassment of contracting a male simply to procreate and never marry... At least there was a chance for happiness here. The other way guaranteed only heart ache.
"Where are we at with the acquisitions?" Harry asked Susan. With a nod Susan turned to her left and signaled for Su to begin her report.
"Well thanks to many of the family contracts being activated you own a substantial amount of real estate. However, the actual businesses themselves are proving difficult. Many Wizarding establishments are family owned. That being said I'm having to trace family lines all the way down to find out if you have any claim to the tier one priorities. So far I haven't been very successful. I found a possible toehold for the apothecary in Knockturn Alley but so far Diagon has borne no fruit. I propose we put this research on hold. We have a newspaper in the form of the Quibbler and I know that we wanted to add to the Potter fortune especially with amount of heirs to be but I feel that would best be served after we have changed the laws," Su reported quietly and succinctly.
"Hermione?" Harry queried.
"I think that's a good idea. For now at least. I was hoping to find investments that would begin to pay dividends by the time the first heir arrived in five years time. But I also see how it will be difficult to break into the current market with the Purebloods still in charge. Yes. I think Su should join me in my research for now. It's a difficult task but she is a good researcher... Err... Not to say the rest of you aren't-" Luna quickly cut Hermione off.
"It's okay milady. It is refreshing to see you make mistakes. It keeps you humble. Yes, we are all very mature for our age but we have much to learn still. It helps this work for now. The future is yet to be seen," Luna smiled her wide eyed smile and floated from the room, starting the exodus of young ladies.
Hermione smiled and shook her head at her not so secret favorite sister. The reason being that Luna was quick to diffuse a possible conflict or argument. Especially with the elder Grangers. For the adults it was hard to understand. All they saw was one man and several women. They didn't realize that despite the young adult's intellect and maturity they were still children.
"I think we need to spend more time together with the group. We have been so busy that we have been neglecting them. I think sometimes we get so caught up in our own stuff we forget about them," Harry said as he led Hermione to her room.
"I agree. We will see about a schedule tomorrow. I will ask Daphne to see to it," she replied.
With a quick kiss on Hermione's cheek, Harry continued on to his room. After calling for tea he prepared a cup for himself and Milly. With a faint pop the elf in question appeared with a plate of Harry's favorites.
"Good evening, Milly. Those wouldn't by chance be ginger snaps would they?" Harry asked with a roguish grin.
"Of course they are child. Just as they always are. Now tell me what has been done today," Milly answered in her customary way.
"Well we managed to get to Gringotts and took care of that mess. Shopped for supplies and all that so all in all a good day. Didn't run into any of his lackeys and I wasn't swamped with people either. Thank goodness that Da has managed to keep that 'Boy-Who-Lived' madness under wraps for the most part. But I should tell you that Hermione is being tenacious in her research of the predicament we have found ourselves in. I think she is getting closer to the truth. She already knows that our magic is incredibly compatible. But soon she may question why I am not currently exhibiting any outward attraction towards the other girls as I should be. Of course when my puberty hits around Christmas hols that will change despite my inclinations but for now it is perplexing to her. Although she doesn't wish for me to know this. But how do you explain that you are cursed to possess multiple bloodlines to correct the horrible imbalance across your hidden world?" Harry asked morosely swishing his lukewarm tea around the cup.
"Harry I wish I could give you a better outlook, truly I do. But what happened that night happened for a reason. Are you cursed? In a way I suppose you could see it like that. But I prefer to look at the fact that you are alive. Is it difficult to admit that in six months or so time you will have precious little control over your body? Yes, of course it is. I am very sorry for what I have done. I try to atone for it every day. But I am not sorry you are alive. Don't ever ask me to be sorry for that," Milly answered strongly. She knew now that it had been a bad road to take but it still saved his life. Better a difficult life than no life at all.
"Yes well... At least this way the girls won't have the dishonor of never taking a husband. They have their heir and without the embarrassment of contracting a donor. The laws are so archaic. A woman cannot give a man her last name even to save her family line and yet here I am about to undertake something that hasn't been done in thousands of years. All to satisfy my magics burning hunger for outlets," Harry complained.
"What do you think you are working towards?! What do you think you are going to change? Maybe this is why Magic interpreted my plea as it did. We can only adapt and overcome," Milly answered.
"I know Milly. It's just hard to wrap my head around it all. Is this really happening?" Harry asked rhetorically while running his fingers through his hair in frustration.