Right, so this chapter ended up being more set up than I anticipated. A lot more was supposed to happen in it, but things got stretched out. On the bright side, that does mean that I have less thinking to do when planning the next one.
Many thanks are given to Joe Lawyer for pointing out stuff I missed or could improve.
April 3rd, 2018. Spellhaven.
Adrastia discarded the length of rope in the convenient bin labeled 'used portkeys' and looked around.
It was a pleasant enough room, she supposed. Tastefully furnished, comfortable and pleasantly lit by softly glowing magelights. The only fly in the ointment was the lack of windows and the runic array hidden under the carpet that thrummed with potential against her senses.
A remote activated runic stun trap under the figurative doormat? How paranoid. Adrastia smiled to herself in amusement and wondered what other surprises this room held that she couldn't sense.
"Please enter your name into the Book of Arrivals." A cool female voice directed. "If you are expected, the portal to Spellhaven proper will open for you. Be advised that all those present must sign their names or the portal will remain closed. Touch the communication mirror if you are unexpected or if you experience any difficulty."
Adrastia's amused smile widened as she signed her name. For one less perceptive than her, this would all seem entirely above board, the dagger hidden behind politeness and procedure.
The ink sank into the pages and a spell activated off to the side. "The portal is now open, you may proceed."
The stretch of wall that the portal magic was bound to was clearly marked, even if the magic itself would be undetectable to most people. Adrastia sensed it easily of course and walked through confidently, not even breaking stride as she found herself in a longish corridor.
As she walked, she took note of the metal studs decorating the walls, floor and ceiling. They looked like mere decorations designed to break up the monotomy of this otherwise barren corridor, but she could feel a buzz of magic from them. An electrical trap this time, to send bolts of lightning arcing from one stud to another? Interesting choice, if slightly unpredictable.
The corridor terminated in a pair of thick oaken doors, reinforced with criss-crossing, enchanted bands of wrought iron. Admittedly, effort had been taken to make it look artistic and the doors were currently open, but it was fairly clear that they were meant to withstand a beating.
Adrastia nearly started grinning when she saw a thick slab of granite sitting just outside of the door. It was carved with runes that her cursory examination told her were for extreme durability and spell resistance and had small 'decorative' openings carved through it. Once again, care had been taken to make it look nice, but it still bore an unmistakable resemblance to a castle's battlements, further reinforced by the fact that it sat about two meters or so above the door, forcing potential attackers to climb a small stairway if they wished to move forward.
Harry had fortified the front entrance as if he expected a horde of bloodthirsty berserkers to come through one day. It made her wonder what defenses he had placed elsewhere.
She supposed that the final defense must be the easily destructible wooden stairway that led to the reception area. One blasting curse would force invaders to waste time climbing up, becoming easy targets for the defenders.
Up those stairs was the reception area at long last, though it was really more of a mix between an office and a recreation room. There were several work desks on one side and things like a pool and ping pong table on the other. A curious design, mixing business with pleasure, although she supposed the people working here didn't have too much to do during the course of an average day, so it made some kind of sense.
And speaking of people working here, there were currently only three of them. One older, grizzled-looking man that had the contained wildness of a werewolf about him and two younger men that were currently engaged in a furious game of ping pong.
One of the two younger ones had his back to her, which won him the game as the other forgot about it when he caught sight of her.
He was a passably handsome youth in his early twenties with skin as dark as hers. Adrastia favored him with a sultry look and smiled when he visibly flushed.
"Adrastia Zabini?" The werewolf questioned, eyes briefly dipping towards her cleavage.
Adrastia didn't mind. It was what why she always wore clothes that displayed her beautiful body, to be gazed at and desired and longed for.
"That is my name." She purred, sending tendrils of magic out to caress the auras of all three men.
A familiar thrill went through her as the werewolf's eyes darkened and possessive jealousy started poisoning the air in the room.
"Harry will be expecting me." She continued in the same sultry purr.
Jealousy turned to sullen defeat in the two younger men and resigned acceptance in the werewolf at her words. How amusing, they thought that she was here to pay a visit to Harry's bed and had immediately abandoned all hope of wooing her for themselves. This trick usually made people resent the one she mentioned, but it would seem that Harry made them feel so inadequate that they took losing to him as a given.
"I can escort you to him." The dark-skinned young man suddenly offered, his words coming out in a rush. He had an American accent, she noticed.
Ah, perhaps there is still a flicker of hope in him...
"Please." She said with a smouldering look, pretending not to see his surprise or hear the other youth cursing softly to himself, no doubt at being beaten to the punch.
They walked in silence for a while, the young man, still just a boy really, visibly too nervous to speak first and Adrastia finding her thoughts drifting. The quiet and the complexion of her escort reminded her of her own sullen offspring, Blaise. He would be finished with his Hogwarts education in a mere few months and be deemed fully qualified wizard, or at least what passed for it these days.
Hopefully he would have the wits to make his own way in the world rather than attempting to reconnect with her. He should know better after being left with caretakers for more or less his entire life, but you could never tell with teenagers.
They passed silently through another reinforced door and into the open. Adrastia took a deep breath of the cool ocean breeze, shaking off thoughts of her unwanted progeny. Being subtropical and oceanic, she knew that the climate here would always be very mild with little to nothing in the way of extremes. Although she generally preferred warmer climes, there was no denying that it was a very pleasant spring day.
"So, do I get to know the name of my companion." She asked her boyish companion with a teasing lilt.
His started at the sudden address and his already dark skin darkened further as the blood rushed to his cheeks. "It's Kevin." He squeaked.
"And how did a handsome wizard like you end up in a place like this?" She purred, deliberately using the worn out pick-up line.
He gaped at her in shock for a moment and then a silly smile stretched across his face. These young ones were so easy. "I just saw heard that there were job openings here and I gave it a try. It can be hard to find work back home sometimes, you know?"
Adrastia hummed in acknowledgement, taking note of the ravens sitting on the rocks and sparse trees dotting this area. Of course there would be ravens in a place where Harry lived, they likely reported to him. "And how have you liked it so far?"
"Can't complain." He shrugged. "I didn't see myself working what was basically a reception desk, but it's an easy job and I get extra hazard pay with the promise of a combat multiplier if anyone actually attacks. Personally I think that Potter's just being paranoid, but I suppose I can't blame him with that British Dark Lord of his coming back from the dead."
That was easy. Adrastia thought to herself in amusement. Granted, it wasn't any kind of terrible deep secret, but the information was just spilling out of this one.
"Paranoid you say? Does that mean that even people who live here have to go through what I went through every time they leave the island for whatever reason?" She asked.
"Not exactly. They have another arrival point closer to the village, but they have to sign the Book of Departures before they leave and get issued a specially made two-way portkey. There's another Book of Arrivals there that's keyed only to the Book of Departures and they get detained if something doesn't match." He explained.
"Would it not simply be a matter of signing a false name then?"
Kevin shook his head. "No. I don't know how, but the Book of Arrivals can tell if someone signs a name that isn't theirs. There's also another arrival area that's for cargo only, but I don't know much about that."
"Hmm, interesting. Harry certainly is being cautious." Although Adrastia could already see a flaw in his security measures. If his enemies came here ahead of time under the guise of immigration – or otherwise subverted some of the residents – then all these precautions could be bypassed. She wondered if he had something else in place to take care of that.
Meanwhile, in Ravenhead...
In the middle of a room suspiciously similar to the audience chamber of Orthanc was a dais that was suspiciously similar to the one on which Saruman's Palantír sat. As it happened, there was a black orb bearing a suspicious similarity to a Palantír sitting on this dais as well.
All of this suspicious similarity was largely the result of Harry thinking that Orthanc's design was cool and Saruman being his favorite Lord of the Rings character, but it did have some practical purpose as well.
His Palantíri were not quite the same in function as the ones in Middle Earth, even if they looked identical.
It had taken him months to get the spellwork just right. In fact, the project had consumed so much of his attention that the girls had needed to drag him off to bed more than once. Even Narcissa and Penny had needed to constantly remind him to not neglect his other obligations in favor of 'whatever else he was doing'.
Eventually, Harry became so fed up with the lack of hours in a day that he had decided to get himself a belated Christmas present back in late January by stealing a Time Turner from the Department of Mysteries. The security measures were still pathetic, so it was easy to do.
Fleur and Dora had not been amused by the fact that he was willing to risk a temporal paradox just to get more time to play with his projects, but eventually succumbed to the temptation of using it themselves. Luna was happy to point out their hypocrisy, much to Harry's amusement.
The last of the kinks had just been worked out a little over a week ago and Harry was feeling pretty damn proud of his achievement.
The one here in Ravenhead was the master stone and was in essence a psychic amplifier that allowed him to project his mind some distance away – essentially a form of brute force scrying. It put quite a bit of strain on the user to do it, but Harry was slowly getting used to it. However, even with a will and focus as strong as his, he could only reach out twenty or so kilometers. Impressive if he did say so himself, but not especially useful.
That was where the slave stones came in. They acted as relay beacons, creating secondary loci from which he could project his mind without ever leaving Ravenhead. The Protean Charm remained one of the more useful things he had ever learned.
For now, there were only two Palantirí in exitence, one master and one slave. The slave stone sat above the mantel of the fireplace in their château, disguised as nothing more than a decorative obsidian sphere. In truth, without the master stone, that was pretty much what the slave stones were. There would be no Sauron-esque fuck ups with his stuff!
Harry eventually planned to distribute more slave stones to areas of interest around the world, all the better to spy on things directly rather than having to rely on agents, either human or animal.
Of course, his new toys were difficult to create and he was still testing what he could do with them, but he had high hopes.
So far he had already learned to do quite a few useful things with it. Possessing animals through them was easy. Legilimency was much harder since he was so far away and lacking the close link that eye contact provided – he could only get glimpses of surface thoughts, but that was still very useful. Invading dreams was slightly easier, but he had to be careful if he wanted to avoid detection.
A rather horrible violation of privacy all told, but it wasn't as if he was doing this for giggles. Infiltrators were by far the most dangerous threat and he needed to at least try to counter it.
Besides, he relied quite heavily on the other two methods of spying to even know whose privacy to violate.
The second method was an island-sized version of the Marauder's Map that took up an entire wall of this very room and the third was a Taboo that would turn a person's indicator on the Map a bright, blinking red should they speak certain words.
Actually figuring which words to place under Taboo had been surprisingly hard. The incantations for the Unforgivables, especially the Imperius, were obvious choices, but what else? Things like 'Voldemort', 'Dark Lord' and 'treason' would be far too general and likely only serve to swamp him with false alarms, nor was he under any illusion that Voldemort's people were the only spies he needed to worry about and that wasn't even mentioning that many people here didn't speak English as their first language.
In the end, he had to content himself with putting the phrases of 'kill Potter' and 'spy on Potter' under Taboo. Far from perfect, especially as a smart spy or assassin didn't speak their mission out loud, but there was little else he could do about it. So far, there had been two false alarms and no real ones.
He was currently using the Palantír for the purposes of remote possessing one of the numerous ravens that called Spellhaven home and spying on the newly arrived Adrastia through it. She appeared to be well on the way to wrapping the horny young idiot with her around her little finger. Better get there before the clueless bastard decides that he wants to leave with her.
He might have to reconsider having that one work there if Adrastia was finding it so easy to wrap him around her little finger even with all the uninhibited horny veela present on the island.
"How do you know Potter, if you don't mind me asking?"
"Oh, we go back quite a ways. I dated his godfather briefly and attempted to seduce him. It still burns my pride that I failed."
"You mean he turned you down?" Kevin asked incredulously and then flushed in embarassment.
Adrastia laughed the rich laugh that she knew men found irresitible, the sound resonating with the lust this boy felt for her. "Indeed he did. I've never met a fourteen-year-old with so much self-control before."
By the look on his face, she knew that Kevin had just recalled that Harry was actually a number of years younger than him and not even legal by American reckoning.
"Isn't that a bit young?" He asked hesitantly, clearly not wanting to offend.
"I like them young." She purred and reached over to give his butt a pinch, just to make it clear that she wasn't necessarily talking about Harry anymore.
He did an amusing little yelp and jump and then grinned at her like smitten teenager, any silly concerns about paedophilia forgotten.
"So, um, would you maybe like to get something to eat later?" Kevin asked with his best attempt at suave confidence. "I could show you around."
Normally she wouldn't bother with someone like this, but he was a good source of general information for now.
"Perhaps." She replied lightly and then her attention was caught by the sight of someone approaching at speed on a flying carpet. "Ah, I do believe that Harry is coming."
Kevin said nothing, but Adrastia could almost taste the disappointment coming from him. Such a little boy, upset at having her attention stolen away.
Harry arrived moments after, looking rather impressive as slowed to a halt in front of them, hands clasped at his back and the wind briefly buffeting his hair. It made her wonder if he'd been coached on how to project the image of an all-powerful lord or uncrowned king surveying his lands or if it came to him naturally. Either way, Adrastia was personally more impressed by his ability to direct the flying carpet while standing on it. Usually it required one to sit at the front of the carpet and use the tassels in a manner similar to an airplane yoke. Being able to guide it with focused will alone was an advanced usage that normally required many years of familiarity. And speaking of the carpet, it was of excellent quality. She was no expert on them, but she knew a masterwork when she saw one.
"Adrastia." He greeted with a tight, almost unfriendly, smile.
"Hello, Harry." She purred, devouring his form with her eyes. He was dressed in casual but clearly quality mundane clothes that showed a delicious physique, although the new scars on his face marred his good looks somewhat. He was also stronger and harder than the last time they'd met. "New toy?"
"Relatively new." He answered and gave her a head-to-toe examination as if he was seeing through her. Her nipples hardened under his regard. She wanted to sit on his face while he gave her that look. "New look?"
She was wearing a leather bustier and pants combination that clung to her like a second skin and emphasised her assets wonderfully. A pair of dragon hide boots with a low heel and a soft velvet cloak of very dark blue pinned to the shoulder straps of the bustier completed the look.
"Relatively new." She echoed with a smirk.
"It looks familiar."
"It should, I had it custom made back at your store back in Britain." She sniffed and then smiled at him, running her hands over her body invitingly. "You like?"
"Hmph, I thought I recognised Bryanna's design. Get on the carpet."
Adrastia took that as a yes.
"Goodbye, Kevin. It was fun knowing you." She said airily as she stepped on the carpet.
"Bye..." He replied, even adding a forlorn little wave to go along with his look. Silly boy.
The flying carpet rose into the sky, sending her cloak flapping. Harry was apparently one of those people that preferred to keep the built in charms to block the wind deactivated. She personally felt that it was a bit cold for that, but she wasn't going to say anything.
"Been playing games with my people, Adrastia?" Harry asked once they reached a good altitude, sitting side by side.
"Just a little." She chuckled. "Which reminds me, Kevin promised me a tour of the island and that likely isn't in the cards anymore. Would you be so kind as to do it in his place?"
"Kevin promised you a tour of the island because all he could think of was having your lips wrapped around his cock." Harry stated flatly.
"Be that as it may, a promise is a promise and I really would like a tour."
"We don't always get what we want, not even pretty little tarts like you."
"Pleeeease?" She asked teasingly, fluttering her eyelashes. "We're already in the air, so you just need to point things out to me."
"Why are you here, Adrastia?"
"I will be glad to tell you...after the tour."
"Did Bjomolf send you to spy on me?"
"If you really don't want to give me a tour, then I would be willing to take a romp with you as a substitute. I've never done it on a flying carpet, believe it or not. It has a certain scandalous appeal."
"No chance. I already ruined one flying carpet that way. Turns out that magic rich fluids screw up the enchantments if they soak into the fabric."
Adrastia burst into delighted laughter. She hadn't known that. "My dear Harry, it truly is a shame that you got away from me. We could have had such fun together."
"Would that be before or after I 'accidentally' drank sulfuric acid or something?"
"Before, naturally. Why, I might have even decided that you were worth keeping." She teased.
"Hmph, I wonder if maybe I should push you off this carpet right now, or maybe keep you locked up as my personal fuckpet. It has a certain scandalous appeal." He mocked.
"Oh, Harry." She panted breathily, leaning over to nibble on his ear and using her aura to push impressions of flesh-on-flesh/teeth-biting-into-skin/man-sliding-into-woman. "If you keep saying such wicked things, my underwear is going to experience a bit of a crisis."
Adrastia knew that Harry was being at least partially serious. He truly had seriously considered the merits of carrying out those threats. That was what made it fun to play these games with him. She'd never really had someone so much like her to play with. Most people at this level of power were as old as dirt and about as fun.
Harry shook his head to get his ear away from her teeth and looked at her with dark emerald eyes.
Adrastia could see the calculation in those eyes, the deliberation. He was considering if he could actually get away with doing it, if his women would object, if it could really be called rape when she was clearly provoking him and otherwise willing to sleep with him, if he even cared about where the blurry line between consensual and forced was in this case.
Her pulse quickened with a mix of genuine fear and exhiliration as the silence stretched on.
Then he turned his head away with a snort. "You're going to try playing with the wrong person one day. It might even be me."
Adrastia exhaled quietly in relief and kept herself from shaking with a force of will. Despite her words, actions and damp underwear, she did not actually want something like that to happen. She valued her freedom and her control too much to ever enjoy having it taken away. She had been helpless once and never wanted to be again.
To make it even more interesting, Harry was most assuredly capable of perceiving at least some of this in her aura, though to what extent she didn't know.
But she still couldn't resist playing games. He was a terribly attractive and dangerous man. She wanted him to look up at her in adoration while she rode him to climax and reached deep into his unguarded soul, but knew that it was extremely unlikely that she would ever get that wish. Playing risky games with his emotions was a different sort of power trip, but still an exciting one.
That was why she turned Harry's head towards her and leaned in.
"Perhaps..." She breathed against his lips. "but at least I won't be bored." Then she took the opportunity to give him a quick peck and backed away with a smirk.
"You're a strange woman, Adrastia." Harry said with a minute scowl on his face. "You backed off from trying to kill Sirius because you didn't want to cross me, yet here you are, baiting me because you're bored?"
Adrastia was well aware of the contradiction. She had spent years carefully not angering anyone that might actually attack her directly, but now she was doing exactly that. Perhaps it was because Harry wasn't cruel by nature, perhaps it was because he was such an interesting blend of ruthless and restrained, perhaps she wanted to see how far he could be pushed.
Perhaps she really was a bit bored with the lack of challenge that her usual playthings gave her.
"Ah, but you are so much more fun than Sirius." She chuckled, letting herself fall back until she was propped up on her elbows and giving Harry a lazy stare. "Now, I am sure that you have already guessed that I came here with information that you will want to know, so unless you are willing to imprison and do naughty things to me until I divulge it to you, you will have to either open your soul to me or give me a tour of your lovely island."
There it was again, that flash of calculation passing through his eyes, wondering if maybe he should do it just to prove a point, to keep himself from being outmaneuvered. The temptation to humiliate her and put an end to these games, to break her and force her into servitude, all of that and more backed by the lust she could feel he had for her.
Adrastia's pulse quickened and muscles tensed again as the seconds ticked by with painful slowness, wondering if she'd gone too far. She was reasonably sure that this level of provocation wouldn't exhaust his patience, but there was always the chance that she had misjudged him. That was what made the game such a rush.
But the fellow monster in human form turned away with a scoff that was probably meant to be derisive, yet sounded merely frustrated to her ears.
"Fine, I'll give you a tour then." He grunted and flew the carpet higher into the air to give them a better overview.
"Wonderful." Adrastia said, referring both to the decision and the excited flush that spread through her body at winning the subtle, dangerous game of dominance. "Please show me your home, Harry."
"Pick a spot and I'll tell you about it." He said grouchily.
Adrastia decided not to try her luck by provoking him any further today. "Hmm, very well."
Sitting up again, she peered down and considered what to ask about first.
The island had an irregular shape, kind of like a circle that had been stretched out in places, with the extinct, moss-covered volcano that had formed it sitting in the rough center. Most of it was overrun by a thick forest that blocked all sight of the ground. Although hard to tell from the air, it looked to be old growth, but she knew that couldn't be true because from what she'd heard before, the island had been fairly sparse on vegetation when people had started settling. Perhaps the work of this dryad that she'd also heard about?
She couldn't see much in the way of animals. Except for the ravens of course, those hung around the town in droves and no doubt did the same in the forest as well. Harry's great host of spies and eavesdroppers. There was also the occasional bird that was more common to the sea, but not many. Most likely too wary of the black-feathered legion to venture near.
The coastline was for the most part rocky, but there was a large lagoon near the village that was fine white sand. It stuck out so much that it had obviously been made with magic, but Adrastia liked it. The pale sand and deep blue ocean gave it the feel of a tropical paradise and she wondered if there were any spells layered over the beach to make it warmer to further reinforce that impression for anyone going there. It was still pretty early in the day, so there weren't many people on the beach, but judging by the fact that some of them were skinny dipping or sunbathing in the nude, it was probably warmer than nature would allow.
The island's only settlement was clearly demarked by a low stone wall, most likely to keep the forest from intruding on it, or perhaps the other way around. Adrastia estimated that there were at least three or so square kilometers reserved for human habitation, though much of it remained unused for now.
It was also immediately visible that this was no mundane settlement. There were no roads or pavement, with only transfigured rock providing hard ground if necessary. That was to be expected when there were no cars and the main means of transportation were either flying carpets or an internal floo network. While this meant that Spellhaven lacked the ordered look of a modern town or city, that wasn't to say that there was no organisation visible. The settlement was clearly divided into districts of a sort.
The residential district was the furthest inward and looked the most disorganised by far. While the land itself did appear to be separated into property lots, it seemed as if people could pick them out at will, giving the whole thing a somewhat haphazard appearance, not to mention that a few of the houses were in clear violation of the laws of physics.
But perhaps the most surprising thing were the two taller buildings that were clearly apartment complexes. Wizards generaly didn't go for those.
What Adrastia assumed were the shopping, work and entertainment districts looked a lot more orderly, as well as a lot smaller due to the buildings being clustered closer together.
"I see the visitor's arrival area over there..." She said musingly, looking at the lone building standing on a barren cliff a short-ish distance away from the village. "...and I assume that château is where you live?"
The question was mostly rhetorical. The château stood on a slight elevation overlooking the rest of the village and was clearly the residence of those in charge. Adrastia suspected the hand of Narcissa Black in the positioning and imagery.
"Yes." Harry replied tersely.
"What about that walled off area?" She asked, pointing at a cluster of rather aesthetically pleasing buildings encircled by a low wall that didn't seem to be quite part of the rest of the residential area yet also not really separate from it.
"That's where the veela live."
"Why the wall though?" She asked curiously. It wasn't tall enough to really keep anyone out.
"Mostly so that nobody can say they wandered in there by accident."
"Ah yes, I did hear that you allow the veela quite a bit of leeway with their behavior." Adrastia said with an amused smile. "There is great deal of talk about that in certain circles of the ICW."
"Is there now?" Harry asked, sounding interested.
"Oh yes." Adrastia nodded, still smiling. "While veela are theoretically afforded equal rights as wizards and witches by the more progressive magical governments in the world, in practice they are also expected to act human rather than veela and to not shake things up. Your decision to not restrict them is considered to be highly controversial."
"We have an agreement. As long as people are aware of the long term effects of veela exposure and they don't use the Allure to ensnare the weak-minded, they can do whatever they want." Harry said with a dismissive shrug.
"I can't imagine everyone being happy with that." Adrastia commented.
"They're not." Harry agreed. "More than one relationship or marriage has already been destroyed over it, but that's not really the fault of the veela."
"No?" Adrastia asked with a raised eyebrow.
"No." Harry insisted firmly. "They're definitely the catalyst a lot of the time, but not the root cause. Sometimes their control of the Allure slips when they're having fun or they proposition people that are already in relationships. Quite often they proposition couples or invite entire groups of people, I've even heard of one incident where they tried to sell orgies as a family activity, although I suppose for them it would be." He chuckled briefly and then frowned. "I get complaints about it all the damn time from jealous spouses, outraged parents or just annoying busybodies that don't know how to keep their noses out of other people's business. So far, every single complaint has been baseless and I refuse to pander to people's insecurity and inflexible relationship ideas just because the veela are bolder and more open with their sexuality than they're comfortable with."
"A strong stance, but it must have cost you the support of the less liberal-minded." Adrastia noted.
"Like I said, quite a few relationships and marriages have been destroyed over it." He shrugged uncaringly. "I tend to take the view that if they couldn't weather a blunt proposition then it wouldn't have worked out anyway. If they were happy with just each other then a simple 'no' would have sufficed."
Adrastia chuckled, having some inkling as to how frustrating it must be for some people to come to Harry with their complaints. They would come to him with outrage and he would demand emotionless reason.
"Out of curiousity, what is the male to female ratio of the population?" She asked.
"About 60-40, perhaps even 70-30." He admitted. "We already get more men coming to the island as it is and some women leave in a jealous huff, especially those from America. I expect that it'll be years before people stop whining about how different things are here."
"I think you might be a bit too optimistic." She said, amused. I wonder, would this make it easier to employ female spies or male ones? Males wold be less conspicuous, but they may be happy enough to have women to neglect looking at them too closely.
"Hmph." Harry grumbled. "What do you want to know about next?"
Adrastia hummed thoughtfully and looked at her choices. Might as well finish with the residential area since she'd started with the veela...
"I see that you don't allow anyone to build houses even nearly the size of your own." She noted teasingly. Indeed, while all the houses were of good quality, there was an obvious 'middle class' feeling to them. Harry's château was in contrast distinctly aristocratic. Of course, this was also partially due to the fact that the château stood apart and above on a smallish hill while the other houses occupied the meadow below it.
"Narcissa's idea, but I agree with it. The last thing I want is a bunch of pompous rich idiots posturing by building giant manor houses everywhere."
"Yes, that might give people the impression that your word is not absolute."
Harry gave her a look, but didn't disagree.
"And I see also that you've had quite a bit of room set aside for sports, even mundane ones." Adrastia continued. "I see quidditch, football, volleyball, basketball, tennis, quodpot and there was a volleyball court on the beach..."
"Yeah, that was all Dora's idea." Harry said with a frown. "The thought of sports didn't even cross my mind, but she pointed out that not everyone is, and I quote, 'a sports-hating nerd' like me. She went around asking people what they wanted and we built most of those that got enough votes. Not all of those fields get a lot of use, especially the ones meant for mundane sports, but it does give the sheep another thing to distract themselves with."
"Such contempt you show for your subjects, Harry." Adrastia mocked. "What ever would they say if they knew?"
Harry scowled and pursed his lips. "I just find it hard to understand, you know? They have so much power and potential, but they choose to be ordinary. How do you reconcile the power to bend reality to your whim with a day job?"
"Not everyone is meant for greatness and magic alone has never lifted anyone out of mediocrity." Adrastia said with a shrug and looked at him with a half-lidded gaze. "But you do surprise me, Harry. I wouldn't have taken you for someone that would care about what others do with their lives."
"And I don't, not really." He affirmed, still scowling. "I guess it just bothers me that I seem to be the only one that's really interested in actually figuring out magic rather than just using it."
"Well, there are a few wizards and witches here and there that delve into the deeper mysteries, but you are certainly the most...aggressive one that I know of." She teased lightly. "Personally, I blame the general laziness and lack of curiousity about magic our kind exhibits on the absence of adversity. You started young, with no knowledge that there was an already established magical world waiting for you. All you had to go on was your gift and a desire to know more. I don't think I ever told you how much I admire that you haven't lost that drive."
He gave her a suspicious look at the praise, to which she replied with an angelic smile. That only made him more suspicious of course. Smart man.
A long silence stretched out, making Adrastia wonder what that thoughtful look on Harry's face was about. Perhaps he was thinking of a way to introduce some more adversity into the world? That would be just delightful.
"Can we get to the point of your visit now?" He eventually asked.
"Harry, Harry, Harry." She tutted. "You should know that it takes more than that to satisfy me."
"Then ask your questions already." He groused.
"Very well, tell me about the sphinxes then." She could see the lion hybrids either prowling the outskirts or lazing about. Two of them even seemed to be watching a quidditch game that was currently underway.
"They're sphinxes, what's there to tell?" He shrugged.
"Come now, Harry." Adrastia chided. "Not everyone has sphinxes as guards and protectors. They may sometimes agree to guard a certain thing, but never in such numbers. How ever did you manage that?"
"With the friends you keep, I'm surprised you don't already know." He grumbled.
Adrastia briefly frowned in thought before his meaning became clear to her. "Did it have something to do with Bjomolf? He doesn't tell me everything, you know. In fact, I would wager that he considers me little more than a pawn in his deeper schemes."
Harry was visibly surprised by that. "Why do you keep associating with him then?"
"Because it benefits me." She shrugged. "And there is also the ever-present appeal of immortality."
"You want to become a vampire?" He asked, clearly thinking her a fool.
"I do not necessarily want to, but I consider getting old the greater evil."
The speculative look on Harry's face made her wonder if it had been wise to disclose that bit of information, but Adrastia shrugged it off. She could think of no way that he would be able to use it against her.
"I suppose the frailties of old age would be annoying." He conceded neutrally.
"Indeed, now will you tell me how you convinced so many sphinxes to follow you?"
"No, I don't think I will."
"Fine, then I will just assume that the rumors are true." She said flippantly.
"What rumors?" Harry asked suspiciously.
"That you engaged in a battle for dominance with the males and denied them mating rights unless they entered your service. That is also one of the more popular rumors on how you got your facial scars by the way. Oh, and there is also some amusing speculation as to whether you take advantage of your dominant position with the females."
Harry looked at her incredulously. "What the actual fuck? Have people even seen the size of the sphinxes? They're almost twice as big as a full grown tiger! Even if I was into that kind of thing, their twats would be way too big for either of us to get anything out of it."
"It's so nice to meet a man that cares about his lover's pleasure and not just his own." Adrastia sighed faux dreamily.
"Yes, that's exactly what I was getting at." Harry said sarcastically. "Are you just about done making me play tour guide?"
"No." She said primly. "Tell me about the living costs. Do you tax people for living on your land? Is there a set of written laws in effect? Do they have to pay rent or do you allow them to buy? Are there any restrictions on the creation and sale of goods? What is the population and is there some form of authority aside from you?"
"Why do you want to know all this?" He asked suspiciously.
"Maybe I'm thinking of settling down." She replied thoughtfully, looking at him demurely. "Find a nice, dependable husband. Settle down in a house with a white picket fence and raise some children."
"Right. And then maybe I'll join up with the Red Cross and go on a mission of mercy in Africa." Harry drolled sarcastically.
"It warms my heart to hear that you want to help my mother's homeland." She said sweetly, wiping away a fake tear.
"Your mother was from Africa?" He asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Where else do you think I got my lovely black skin?"
"I figured you were born white and then turned black when the color of your heart started leaking through."
There was no holding back the laugh this time. "Oh Harry, you say the sweetest things."
"Yeah, I'm all charm." He replied, turning moody so abruptly that Adrastia could only blink in surprise. What was that about?
An uneasy silence settled over them and she decided to simply push on instead of questining Harry's sudden downturn of mood. "So, call me curious, but what would you do in Africa if you hypothetically joined the Red Cross?"
A powerful wizard could do much, but that was a task that would require no small amount of creativity rather than direct benevolence if one actually cared to give meaningful help. Given Harry's temperament, he was bound to have some interesting ideas.
"I'd taint all the water supplies with a human specific contraceptive potion." He said and she could sense that he was being utterly serious.
"I can always count on you to have such wonderful ideas of problem resolution." Adrastia said a chuckle, highly amused. That potion's effects were permanent on the non-magical, unless they were flushed.
"I'll admit that I haven't spared much attention for this topic, but everything I've heard of Africa tells me that it's become something of a Gordian knot."
"And so you would do as Alexander and remove the lynchpin of the problem rather than attempting to untangle it?" She asked, still amused.
"Simple solutions are the best solutions."
"Yet this one is void of hope."
"Hope is the worst of all evils, for it prolongs the suffering of man." Harry said sagely.
"That sounds like Nietzsche." She noted.
Harry looked surprised. "I wouldn't have expected you to be familiar with a mundane philosopher."
"Magical literature is usually of woefully low quality and I bore easily, although I admit to being only passingly familiar with this particular one." She shrugged. "And how is it that you are familiar with a mundane philosopher?"
"Nietzsche was my kind of guy." Harry also shrugged and then frowned. "Except for that baffling hard-on he had for Poland."
Now it was Adrastia who frowned. "Was he not German?"
"That's what makes it baffling."
"Anyway, back to the topic at hand." He said, pinning her with an intense green stare that once again made her want to sit on his face. "Why do you want to know all those things about Spellhaven."
"I really am just curious." She assured him. "It isn't as if this information would be terribly hard to get elsewhere, but I would prefer to hear it from you."
Harry's distrustful stare did not abate and he was no doubt trying to deduce what her angle was, but he wouldn't find it. Adrastia had no doubt that he was now skilled enough to sense whether the words spoken to him were true or false – he would have to be in order to enchant the Book of Arrivals to be capable of detecting falsehoods. That was one of the reasons why she was careful to never lie to him, except in jest.
Finally, he started speaking. "Taxes are something of a sticky issue. Frankly, Spellhaven got way bigger than I expected it to. Obviously, I can't fund the entire infrastructre, plus public services like hospitals and such, out of my own pocket without eventually going bankrupt, but I can't have actual taxes either because that would imply government and invite ICW meddling."
"How do you resolve the situation then?" She asked curiously.
"There are a number of dispersed systems in place to drain small amounts of money back to me, a percentage-based-on-profit addition to the rent on places of business and another percentage-based fee for anyone just coming here to conduct business."
"Like taxes, but in smaller chunks?" Adrastia asked, very amused.
Harry glowered at her. "Breathe a word of this to anyone and you'll never see the light of day again."
"My lips are sealed." She promised, still amused even though the threat was completely serious. Although if you think this will be enough to keep the ICW off your back, then you are in for a rude awakening.
Harry continued, obviously ignoring her smile. "There is no formal legal code for the same reason that there are no formal taxes, but there is an informal understanding as to what constitutes 'acceptable behavior'. That probably won't work forever, but it has so far."
That was no doubt true. Lawlessness was by nature unsustainable.
"As long as it isn't blatantly harmful, then there are no restrictions on anything. No, people can't buy land, but the rent is fairly low since most of the money they spend here eventually goes right back into my coffers anyway."
"How would that work?" Adrastia jumped in. "Are people expected to pay for the construction of their own home and then pay rent for it as well?"
"They get three options. The first is to build their own home and pay a fairly negligible rent for the use of the land. The second is for me to pay for the services of professional architects and pay a considerably higher rent as a result. The middle ground is to move into an apartment building."
"How interesting." Adrastia murmured thoughtfully. It would be expensive to start with, but have good returns in the future. In theory. "Please continue."
"We haven't done a census to get an exact number, but we estimate that the population is currently somewhere around an even thousand give or take a few dozen. I expected a few hundred at the absolute most, but it is what it is. There are a few people others look to for informal leadership, but any real authority is restricted to my household."
"For an almost purely magical settlement, a thousand people is quite a high number." She said. "The largest concentraction of magi living together numbers at just over one and a half thousand and that is in North America."
"Like I said, Spellhaven has attracted more interest than I expected." Harry admitted, clearly not entirely happy with his runaway success.
"You have no idea how right you are."
"What do you mean?" He asked suspiciously.
"I think that you should perhaps invite me into your home and offer me some tea, or preferably wine, and then we can talk about that." Adrastia suggested whimsically.
"You are really beginning to try my patience." Harry said with an unamused scowl.
"I know that showing your guests proper courtesy is tedious, but please bear with it just a little longer." She said encouragingly.
Harry blinked and she could see the moment of realisation when it dawned on him that she hadn't asked for anything that a good host wouldn't have offered to a guest anyway. Of course, he had been viewing her as a untrusted ally at best and an enemy waiting for a chance to strike at worst, so it was only to be expected.
"Dora and Fleur did ask me to bring you over so that they could be part of this conversation, I suppose." He conceded grudgingly and turned the flying carpet towards the château.
"Exellent." She smiled.
Less than a minute later, they were passing through the doors of the château, which Adrastia noted were once again thick oak reinforced with iron, enchanted iron at that. The walls were also magically reinforced. It would take quite some battering to bring either down. Harry was taking his paranoia just a little bit too far now.
In sharp contrast to the doors and outer walls, the interior was decidedly lacking in a male touch. It was subtle, but anyone with a sense for interior design could tell the furniture and decorations had been picked out by female hands.
"Teeny." Harry called, interrupting her perusal of the foyer.
"Master Harry." The house elf squeaked as she appeared. "I is go call Mistress Luna."
"That was weird." Harry said with a blink and a frown. "She didn't even wait for me to give an order."
"She must have had previous orders already." Adrastia deduced.
The slight confusion was made more confusing when Luna skipped towards them. Stark naked and sweaty.
"Hello!" She greeted, giving Harry a hug and Adrastia a wave.
Adrastia was very amused. Harry certainly did pick up some wonderfully strange people.
"Luna, why are you naked?" He asked in a long-suffering voice.
The little blonde witch cocked her head sideways with a look of polite confusion.
"Why are you dressed?" She asked, completely serious.
"...because I can hardly go about my day starkers?" Harry ventured.
"That would be distracting." Luna agreed.
"What does that have to do with you being naked?"
"Well, I can hardly stay dressed in a sauna."
"You have a sauna?" Adrastia broke into the conversation.
"Mhm, some people came here from Scandinavia and they requested them." Luna explained enthusiastically. "We've never been in one and decided to try it, then we liked it so much that we just had to have one."
"It's been years since I was in a sauna." Adrastia said wistfully, remembering the experience. "That was how I met my third husband, and also how I lost him. He died of dehydration when the door got stuck."
"That's nice." Luna said, causing Adrastia some consternation when she couldn't figure out if the teenaged witch was being sarcastic or not. She didn't sound sarcastic, but surely it couldn't be a genuine sentiment?
She glanced at Harry and saw that he was looking amused, no doubt enjoying her inability to read the girl. As if he could do any better.
"Were Fleur and Dora in the sauna with you?" He asked.
"Yes." Luna nodded. "Last I saw, Fleur was licking Nymphadora's vagina."
"Of course." Harry sighed and rolled his eyes. "Would they like to be part of this conversation or should we leave them to their cunnilingus?"
"We could also join them." Adrastia suggested before Luna reply.
"You'd like that, wouldn't you?" Harry groused.
"I would." She agreed. "Like I said; it has been years since the last time I was in a sauna."
"I think she wants to see your penis." Luna supplied helpfully.
"I have no doubt that it is a magnificent penis." Adrasita said, amused by Harry's obvious exasperation. "It would have to be for so many women to want a turn on it."
"Nymphadora can make one that is bigger and thicker and bumpier for us to play with, but I've always preferred Harry's." Luna confessed. "He just seems to have a better idea of what to do with it."
"...bumpier?" Adrastia had to ask.
"Yes, or knotted like a dog penis, or flared like a horse penis, or-"
"Enough about penises." Harry interrupted.
"Okay." Luna agreed easily. "Can we go back to the sauna now? I'm really not dressed properly for a conversation in the middle of the foyer."
This was true, the girl was shivering slightly.
Harry hesitated. Adrastia had never met a man so wary of getting naked with her.
"Don't worry, I don't bite." She assured, smirking when he gave her a dirty look.
"We're going to the drawing room." He said. "Luna, could you go ask Fleur and Dora if they want to join us?"
"No sauna then?" Adrastia asked poutily as the little blonde witch skipped away.
"No." Harry said simply and started walking, forcing her to follow. He was the most contrary sort of man.
There was already a bottle of wine waiting for them when they arrived in the drawing room and Adrastia wasted no time pouring herself a glass, still feeling a bit disappointed at missing out on a chance to see Harry naked.
She tried for some smalltalk, but her heart wasn't really in it and Harry only gave one word answers for the most part anyway.
A few minutes of this stilted atmosphere later and his women arrived. All of them were dressed in white silk bathrobes, but one of them stood out like a torch in the dark.
The snarky metamorphmagus was not looking like her usual self.
Her hair was a lustrous teal green, her eyes a shining silver, her skin a light violet and her form unusually tall and buxom, but by far the oddest thing were perhaps the excessively long and pointy ears. Adrastia had never seen the like of such a creature and had considerable doubts that it actually existed in the magical world – it was far too striking to go as unnoticed as it would have had to in order to escape her knowledge.
"Have you two been cosplaying without me?" Harry asked with mocking disapproval, although even a blind man would be able to tell that he liked what he saw.
Cosplaying. The term was unfamiliar to Adrastia, but she was reasonably sure that it came from the mundane world. Although she was more familiar with it than most magi even in the more progressive magical nations, her knowledge was still mostly restricted to higher level social pursuits. But she would research what this 'cosplaying' thing was and what it had to do this odd morph that Tonks was maintaining.
"You were busy." The veela waved off airily, settling herself on Harry's right side and kissing his cheek.
"But don't worry, we can play later." Tonks assured, also giving him a kiss on the cheek as she settled on his left side, although unlike the veela she left her own left side open enough for Luna to snuggle into as well.
"Alright, I've humored you long enough." Harry said once they were all settled in. "Why are you here, Adrastia?"
Adrastia took a slow sip of the rather good wine and noted with amusement that Delacour was already looking distinctly hot and bothered. Well, that would figure if she just got done licking Tonks and hadn't had a chance to get any herself. On the other side, Luna seemed wholly fascinated by the curve of Tonks' oversized, morphed ears rather than the conversation.
"Very well then, since you seem to have no appreciation for smalltalk, we will go with blunt honesty." She said. "I am here to pass on some choice information that I believe will interest you in the hope of being able to call upon your aid should I ever need it in the future."
"That much I figured," Harry stated neutrally. "but are you here for yourself alone or did Bjomolf send you?"
"I don't know." Adrastia answered honestly.
"What do you mean you don't know?" Tonks demanded irritably.
"I have long suspected that Bjomolf has ways of circulating information to make people do his bidding without exposing himself." Adrastia explained. "He knows me and knows how I am likely to act in most circumstances. Perhaps I came by this information through my own means and my own contacts or perhaps it was trickled to me by him. I simply do not know."
A lengthy silence descended and Adrastia would be willing to bet that they were wondering just how many unwitting spies there were in Spellhaven. Quite a few most likely.
"So, your information could be an attempt at manipulation." Harry finally said.
"It could." Adrastia conceded. "That does not make it false, however."
"And we're supposed to take your word for it?" Tonks asked coolly.
"Why not?" Adrastia countered. "My advice has helped you in the past and I have never done you any harm."
"You tried to kill Sirius." The metamorphmagus retorted, silver eyes narrowed.
"That was before I knew he was connected to someone important. I backed off as soon as I learned that Harry was a wizard to be wary of." Adrastia waved off. "Your dislike of me is likely just a remnant of your history in law enforcement rather than anything personal."
"You don't need to be an Auror to dislike serial killers."
"What about Harry then?" Adrasta asked, amused. "I would wager that his body count is considerably higher than mine now."
"That's different. You kill for amusement, he only kills out of necessity."
Adrastia could only give her a look of frank disbelief. True, Harry did not kill for amusement, but she strongly doubted that necessity was his only motivation. There was too little regret in it for that to be the case, no regret at all to be precise.
"Dora, enough." Harry said softly, pulling Tonks a bit closer. She huffed, but subsided all the same and he turned his attention back to Adrastia. "Tell us what you came here to share and I'll remember it in the future."
Adrastia favored him with her most beautiful smile. As she'd said, Bjomolf might be an ally right now, but he kept many things hidden from her. It would pay to cultivate a friendship with Harry should she ever find herself at odds with the ancient vampire. Pity that it likely wouldn't be a friendship with benefits, but you couldn't have everything.
"My first bit of information pertains to this lovely island of yours." She began. "Simply put, you've become a subject of interest for essentially the entirety of the magical world and – despite your attempts to avoid it – you can expect the ICW to summon you sooner or later."
Harry exhaled a huffy breath of exasperation. "Why? We aren't a nation. Spellhaven is essentially private property."
"True, but you may not be aware of the full scope of just what you've done here." Adrastia warned. "I have been hearing all sorts of whispers around Europe over the past few months. The goblins are gnashing their teeth and grumbling about you violating the spirit – if not the letter – of the treaty they have with the ICW and the various Ministries of Magic."
"Hypocritical little shits." Harry muttered.
Adrastia ignored him and kept on talking. "The Ministries of Magic, in turn, are grumbling because you are siphoning trade away from them-"
"What do you mean by that?" Fleur interrupted, seemingly startled enough to stop nibbling on Harry's ear. Briefly.
"Oh, you didn't know?" Adrastia was amused. "You have – possibly accidentally if that reaction is anything to go by – created something of a trade and tax haven here. The magical governments of the world usually have a good amount of trade going on between them, all of it regulated and taxed, the legal parts at any rate. Then you come along, with your completely neutral, unregulated, essentially lawless island that also happens to act as the only convenient midway point between the magical parts of the Old and New worlds. Why do you think you've managed to get such a large population in a mere few months? A thousand wizards and witches is no small number, more than some of the smaller magical nations in fact. And the influx of new people hasn't slowed down, has it?"
"No." Harry admitted.
"There is a reason for that." Adrastia said with a nod. "Many have realised or are starting to realise the opportunity you've presented and are flocking to take advantage. Spellhaven is poised to become the primary trading hub of the entire magical world simply for its convenient access to trading partners and the lack of regulation. That whatever cut of the profits you take is lower than the taxes they paid before is another factor. Lastly, you must keep in mind that ours is a very small world. Relatively speaking, Spellhaven is rapidly becoming roughly equivalent to a major city like London or New York and not everyone is happy about it."
She saw their surprised looks and couldn't help but be amused. Only Harry could do something like this without meaning to. He might not have a direct hand in the trade itself, but the ever increasing amounts of money exchanging hands on Spellhaven was not something to be disregarded.
"On top of it all is your clear disdain towards government restrictions on the creation and trade of certain items that are banned everywhere else. Your reputation, power, wealth, political influence in Magical Britain and the deliberate legal ambiguity surrounding Spellhaven has had the ICW somewhat flummoxed and hesitant on what to do, but they will eventually stop squabbling amongst each other and come here in an attempt to bring you in line with their own interests. To summarise, your laissez-faire attitude is making you obscenely rich, but it is also making you enemies everywhere because you are changing the established economical landscape."
Harry stared at her for a long few seconds, then sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Definitely not what I had in mind. I just wanted my own space in this world away from the fucking bureaucrats."
"There is no more empty space in the world, any that you take for yourself will have been taken from others." Adrastia mocked and continued happily, knowing it would increase his exasperation. "Nobody is quite realising it yet, but as your prominence on the international stage grows, Spellhaven will also begin exerting social pressure on the rest of the magical world. Traditionalists or progressives, nobody is going to like that for the simple fact that it will lessen their own power."
"Wouldn't my aunt have known and warned us about this?" Tonks asked dubiously, directing her question more towards Harry than to her.
"Not necessarily." Adrastia replied anyway. "A skilled politician and socialite she may be, but Narcissa Black is still little more than the daughter of an insular noble house from an isolated society. She likely did not even think to consider the international impact of what you are doing."
"Right." Harry grunted unhappily. "You said that they'll summon me? I have to say that I'm not keen on being called like some kind of servant."
"Nor should you be, it is a transparent power play meant to place you in a subordinate position. Refuse them, politely, and suggest that they send a delegation to you instead."
"Any idea who they'll send?"
"No, but it is a fair bet that the delegation will be comprised of those most affected by your actions. Expect them to attempt overawing you into compliance with the implied threat of their combined political clout."
"Oh, that's not going to work." Luna said absently, most of her attention still on the oversized ears that Tonks was sporting.
"No, I don't think so either." She agreed, sending Harry an amused smile. "Which is why you should be prepared for something more substantial. We are past the age when war wizards would be sent against you with little to no provocation, but not past the one where a pacification force would be dispatched if it was deemed that you are in gross violation of ICW guidelines. Play them against each other if you can. The ICW constituents nominally work towards the greater good of the magical world as a whole, but in truth rarely have any common cause. Whatever show of unity they make at first, it will be brittle and hollow."
"I'll keep it in mind." Harry said thoughtfully, clearly already thinking of ways to handle it.
Adrastia dearly wished that she could be present for confrontation, it would doubtlessly be an interesting meeting. She would get the details from one of her sources eventually of course, but it wouldn't be the same as actually being there.
"Well, that was all I had for you on the civilised side of things." She said.
"Meaning you still have something on the uncivilised side of things?" Harry asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Yes. I was in Romania the other day, looking for something to amuse myself with, when I was approached by a young man that obviously thought himself quite dangerous. It only took three nights for him to let slip about all the powerful magic he was learning from a wizard by the name of Antonin Dolohov."
"You wouldn't happen to know where exactly we could find Dolohov, would you?" Harry asked, leaning forward intently and inadvertently forcing Tonks and Delacour to do the same.
"I thought that might catch your attention." Adrastia chuckled. "No, I do not know his exact location, but I doubt it will be terribly hard to find it. What you should be more worried about is their organisation."
"What do you mean?" He asked.
"From what I have been able to learn, Dolohov is acting in a semi-independent capacity, with only sporadic input from Voldemort himself. He is also apparently the only one that knows anyone outside of their small group."
Harry grasped the implications immediately. "He's dispersed his forces. Instead of having them clumped together in one place, they're divided into clandestine cells like a modern terrorist organisation. Not good, but Dolohov at least will still know something useful."
"You will have to be wary however." Adrastia commented idly, polishing off the last of her wine. "If you are seen to be operating in Romania – or indeed any country outside of Britain – it will cause you considerable diplomatic difficulties. More importantly, it will give the ICW something to hold over you."
Harry scowled. "I didn't think of that."
"Might I make a suggestion?"
Harry gestured for her to go ahead.
"Do nothing overt for now. Allow Voldemort to continue with whatever it is he is doing and use the threat he represents as leverage in your discussions with the ICW representatives. Force concessions out of them in exchange for your aid against him."
"That would leave innocent people to die, people we might have saved if we acted right away." Tonks said accusingly.
"It was just a suggestion." Adrastia shrugged and smiled at Harry invitingly. "Come, Harry. Look into my mind and let me share what I know with you."
"You'd let me use Legilimency on you?" He asked skeptically.
"I trust you not to peek elsewhere." She replied with a wink. It was the truth, not that it mattered since she was an extremely skilled Occlumancer.
Harry was still skeptical, but he nodded nonetheless.
His mental probe had an interesting flavor to it. Precise and controlled, he observed the memories she pushed forward with unwavering focus and his thoughts did not stray at all. Even when they came to the memories of her bedding the young fool, Harry remained coolly unruffled.
Once all the useful information had been passed on, Adrastia felt playful. She pushed forward the memory of her last coupling with the man and warped it, replacing the would-be Death Eater with Harry. Since this was her memory, he would experience it from her point of view, meaning that it would appear as if he was riding himself.
There was a distinct sense of irritation tinged with a little amusement present and Harry pushed forward a memory of his own. Having a mastery of Occlumency, Adrastia could blocked it, but she was curious.
The scene changed from her riding False-Harry in a comfortable bedroom into some kind of BDSM dungeon. There was a brief glimpse of a pale woman with black hair being bound belly down on a table before the memory was warped and her features were replaced with Adrastia's own.
It was an odd thing, experiencing sex from a male perspective and seeing herself getting fucked in such a submissive position, especially since she didn't do anal. There was a familiar thrill of dominance to the memory, but it wasn't quite the same as her own. Harry enjoyed the power, but not the ruination of his conquests and she knew in an instant that the pale woman with black hair that had lived this memory subjected herself to it completely willingly. How dull.
Deciding to show him something else, Adrastia pushed forward another of her own memories.
The mental landscape shifted from the dungeon into an opulent parlor decorated in shades of burgundy and lit only by a dim fire.
"Suck my toes, worm." Memory-Adrastia commanded, sitting imperiously on an oversized armchair.
The man in the memory, one of her earlier conquests from many years ago, had been nearly broken completely by this point, stripped of pride and dignity. Although clearly reluctant, he crawled forward on all fours and began to do as he'd been told.
Adrastia could still recall the rush of power and satisfaction she'd felt in this moment, the malicious glee at knowing that she had destroyed this once proud and powerful man and knew that Harry felt the echo of it as well.
With another twist, the man in the memory turned into Harry. Seeing his emerald eyes looking up at her, filled with the pathetic hope that she would be pleased by his obedience, made her loins burn with lust, even if she knew it wasn't really him.
Unlike the disgust and anger she knew most people would feel in his place, Adrastia could feel only a sort of wry exasperation from Harry and knew that he did not hold her appetites against her.
But it was clear that he would never allow himself to be put into such a position.
The scene shifted back to the dungeon from before and Adrastia beheld her false self kneeling on the floor, her wrists and neck bound closely to a low wooden post and her only garment an odd sort of chastity belt that she instinctively knew was equipped with a pair of dildoes designed to continually penetrate both vaginally and anally.
Harry was standing before her false self and stroking his manhood directly in front of her face.
"Please!" False-Adrastia mewled pathetically, squirming in place and staring at the erection in front of her face like it was the last drink of water in a desert.
"Please what?" Memory-Harry demanded. Adrastia again felt the echo of his emotions in the memory, the lust and the sense of power, but the malice she was familiar with in herself was replaced with affection. Harry did not love whoever this woman was, but he cared for her nonetheless. She was a respected friend, although one wouldn't guess it given her current position.
"Please cum on my face." False-Adrastia begged and Memory- Harry did, spalttering his seed across her desperate features and into her open mouth.
Even knowing it was not really her, the unsightly spectacle of seeing herself so debased was discomforting and vaguely infuriating.
Adrastia broke off the mental link and smiled at Harry, burying her emotions and hiding any sign that he had gotten to her.
"That was fun, we should do it again some day." She said, getting up.
"Anytime, Adrastia. Anytime." Harry replied with a smirk. He knew that he'd won that exchange and was no doubt enjoying the revenge for the games she'd played with him earlier.
Adrastia hated losing, but wasn't so prideful as to keep fighting a hopeless battle. Harry believed himself too powerful for anyone to subjugate and had a corresponding lack fear of it, that was why he could brush off what she had showed him.
Unlike her, who had been under another's control once before and the fear of it happening again had never left her. The things that Harry had showed her struck a little too close to home, particularly since she had been provoking him to do it not so long ago.
The door had barely closed behind Adrastia before Harry found himself assaulted by a horny veela.
"Easy there, he needs to breathe." Dora said in amusement.
"This is all Luna's fault." A slightly breathless and flushed Fleur complained. "She interrupted us."
"I'm sorry." Luna said guilelessly. "I can lick your vagina while Harry and Nymphadora talk if you'd like."
Fleur looked at Harry, biting her lower lip and rubbing her thighs together. "Will you take long?"
"No, we'll be right along." Harry assured.
The two blondes scampered off towards the bedroom.
"I can't believe how bad she's gotten over one missed morning shag." Dora muttered in exasperation.
Both of them had started the day before dawn, which meant that Fleur had only Luna in bed with her when she woke and the youngest member of their foursome preferred sleep over morning sex.
"We've spoiled her." Harry agreed, amused.
They really had. Veela could usually keep a lid on their libido for weeks at a time if it was truly necessary, but Fleur hadn't needed to hold back in years, even less so since the creation of Spellhaven. Oh, she could probably still function if denied, but she'd be cranky and irritable.
"So..." Dora said casually.
Harry grabbed her by the waist and attacked her mouth with every bit of enthusiasm that Fleur had shown earlier.
"Harry!" Dora gasped and panted once she managed to pull away. "We really do need to talk."
Harry grinned back at her, hands creeping over to give her silk covered arse a firm squeeze. "Sorry, but you know what night elf booty does to me."
One of the first thoughts that passed through his head when Dumbledore had told him about Dora's Metamorph ability years ago had been the sexual applications of it. There was simply no avoiding the thought. Still, he had known that it if they were to ever have that kind of play, it would need to be her idea.
It had paid off in the end. At first, she had stayed in the form that she was the most comfortable in and only used her powers in the bedroom sparingly. Eventually she'd become comfortable enough to start playing around on her own. Finally, the last of her reluctance and insecurity had faded and she had asked Luna, Fleur and himself for ideas. The form of Tyrande Whisperwind was his latest suggestion. It was one of her favorites as well.
Dora rolled her silver eyes, but smirked at him all the same. "I know, but we can play later. Talk now."
"Right, talk." Harry murmured, leaning on to nibble on one of her elongated ears. He knew that they were very sensitive.
"Harry." She whined, somewhere between frustrated and aroused. "If you can't control yourself I'll...I'll morph into a murloc! See if you're still randy then."
Harry pulled back and gave her an appalled look. "How could you say something so horrible?"
"Brgubugbugrguburgle!" She warbled wetly with an impish smirk.
"Well, that's killed it." Harry said mournfully.
"Don't worry, I know a resurrection spell for that." Dora purred and then suddenly turned serious. "Just tell me that you aren't thinking of doing as Zabini suggested."
"I'm afraid that I am thinking about it." He admitted.
"Harry, we can't just let the Death Eaters do whatever they want until it becomes politically convenient to stop them." Dora insisted.
Unlike Harry, to whom the lives of strangers had no value, she still retained an Auror mentality.
"I know, but if we get caught taking such extreme action in foreign countries without permission we'll get bogged down by the resulting political shitstorm. In the long term, that would probably be worse than not doing anything right away." He argued back.
"You know, I think I liked you better before you started getting all politically savvy on me." Dora said petulantly.
Harry found her little scowl to be terribly cute.
"Not to worry." He said lightly, massaging her rear end sensually. "Maybe we can't go after them as directly as we'd like, but that doesn't mean we can't spy on them. I'll send Huginn and Muninn to keep watch, and I'll find a spot in Romania to plant another Palantir or two."
"Alright, but if they're abducting or killing people, we move in on them no matter what." Dora said firmly, slipping out of his grasp to stare at him with those entrancing silver eyes.
"Agreed, let's solidify this pact by with the ancient rite of mating." Harry reached over to grasp her breasts, but she skittered away.
"As if the High Priestess of Elune would sully herself with a lower life form." She said haughtily,mimicking the tone and mannerisms of Tyrande Whisperwind. The twitching of her lips gave her away though.
"I'll show you a lower life form." Harry growled playfully and began chasing after her.
Dora squealed with laughter and started running towards the bedroom, tossing her silk robe in his face as a distraction.
A mere few seconds after they were gone, Teeny popped in and carefully folded the robe with a smile on her face. She was always glad to see her family happy. Maybe they would make a little wizard this time? A house elf could hope.
April 6th. Ravenhead.
While Harry's body stood before the Master Palantir, his consciousness was far away, in Romania.
He had delivered a newly made Slave Palantir to the country and was now using it to spy on his quarry.
Using the seeing-stones took some getting used to. With no eyes to see and no ears to hear, he had to gather information with mind and soul instead. The innumerable Voices of the world sang in his mind, painting a picture that mere mortal senses could never hope to. The steady tones of inanimate objects that echoed the touch of man and animal, the simple souls of plants that cared only for earth and rain and sun, the instinctive ones of animals looking to eat-mate-sleep and the complex and many-layered souls of sapient creatures.
Those things touched by magic were by far the easiest to perceive, glowing with purpose as they did. Among the many strands of magic that Harry could perceive in Romania's magical shopping district, one in particular interested him. The possessive, malicious stain of the Dark Mark, clinging to the souls of those on whom it was branded like a parasite.
Upon researching the fully active Dark Mark, Harry had come to the unsettling realisation that the magical brand had the hidden feature of engendering a subtle sense of loyalty towards Voldemort. That discovery had given him cause to be more wary of Severus Snape, although he still didn't really think that the man was truly loyal to Voldemort. Probably best to eventually kill him just to be on the safe side.
But Snape was an issue for the future. Right now, Dolohov was on the menu. So far his – admittedly limited – observation had told him that the escaped convict was doing nothing more nefarious than sharing a drink with some people in a low class watering hole located in Romania's analogue of Knocturn Alley. Recruiting no doubt, even if they were currently talking about something entirely unrelated.
This form of observation wasn't much good for eavesdropping of course, but that was what Legilimency and animal possession was for. Even if he couldn't move on Dolohov just yet, he would keep an eye on him.
Soon enough, there would be a Slave Palantir near every magical gathering place in Europe. Voldemort and his Death Eaters may have had a few months of successful hiding from him, but all it had achieved was to spur him to make a better method. He would cover the world with Palantiri and nothing would be hidden from his sight if that was what it took.