Joe Lawyer gets all the beta credits, for he is an excellent beta.
September 18th, 2018. Spellhaven.
Adrastia was still dressed as if she had never even heard of casual clothes, much less worn them, but her demeanor was not that of the teasing seductress she often affected.
"I've been asked to play delivery girl." She said briskly, handing him a binder done in somewhat fancy black leather.
"Just like that?" He asked instead of opening it immediately. "No smalltalk or innuendo? No hoops to jump through? No favors to be returned?"
The clear question was, of course, 'what's the catch?'. And there was definitely going to be a catch, because only Bjomolf was likely to employ Adrastia as a delivery girl. Harry doubted that the ancient bloodsucker trimmed his beard without an agenda.
"Take a look at that first and we'll see." Her tone seemed casual, but a hint of tension leaked through.
He gave her another searching look before cracking open the binder, his girls crowding around him curiously.
Harry's eyebrows climbed higher and higher as he flipped through the contents.
It was an extremely detailed personnel report on many of the currently active Death Eaters and various Voldemort supporters. Names, pictures, dates of birth, places of residence, school and work records, criminal records, employment records, business dealings, notable achievements, political leanings, rumors, relationships, friends, families, known associates, partial or complete psychological profiles.
There were chunks missing from many of the files, where he figured they must not have been able to ferret things out, but it was still a gold mine of information that must have taken decades to compile. It was exactly what he needed to take Voldemort's aspirations apart and leave the Dark Lord standing alone. It was...obviously not originally collected for his sake. Most of these files were started long before the people they were about had ever come into contact with Voldemort, some of them before his first rise even. No, this wealth of information looked like it had been gathered simply for the sake of having it if the sheer scope of the gathered details were any indication.
And there was more than just information in there, many of the files had materials appended to their files in carefully labeled plastic baggies. Locks of hair, fingernails, teeth, scraps of cloth stained with either blood or sperm or sometimes vials of the same...
Harry had been elbow-deep in too much disgusting stuff to be revolted by the 'samples', but he was greatly disturbed by the implications. Their connection to the original owners would wane in time, but never fully disappear and a skilled magic user could put them to good use. Few were paranoid enough to regularly perform the brief ritual that severed those connections and the vampires seemed happy to take advantage of the laziness.
Harry himself had lowered the frequency with which he performed that ritual to once every two weeks, and neglected to do it quite a few times. This innocuous-looking black leather binder had just sent such a creeping chill down his spine that he was going to go back to performing it every other day, if not every single day. He'd make the girls do it too.
"What the hell is this?" Dora voiced in disbelief, giving Adrastia a hard stare.
"Now that is a good question." The Black Widow nodded regally. "This is most unlike Bjomolf. If he wants to help or hinder someone, he usually takes great pains to keep his hand unseen, but he is being almost transparent when it comes to you. Or at least seeming to be. Why is that, Harry? What does he hope to gain by helping you with your Dark Lord problem and so blatantly making sure you know about it?"
Harry would like to know that himself.
"In fact, his behavior towards you has been out of character from the start." Adrastia continued thoughtfully. "They observed me from afar for nearly a full decade before I was approached openly, yet you were invited for a private meeting mere months after I mentioned what an interesting wizard you are."
"What's your personal theory?" Harry asked.
"Hmm, I don't know if I feel like sharing it." She replied complacently, inspecting her perfectly manicured nails to complete the image of a snobbish woman in a snit.
Harry rolled his eyes. Of course she was going to be difficult.
"Alright, fine. Thanks for delivering this. Would you like someone to see you out?" He asked politely.
Adrastia paused her nail inspection and looked at him darkly.
"The last time we spoke, you offended me grievously by asking me to surrender my freedom to you." She said evenly.
"Weren't you thinking of surrendering your freedom to the vampires anyway?" Harry countered. "I may not know much about the power dynamics between them, but I'm pretty sure that your sire would have a significant degree of control over you."
"In exchange for immortality, it is worth consideration. And I would eventually be free again."
"I wouldn't offer something of lesser value."
Adrastia leaned back into her seat slowly, staring at him intently.
"Something of equal or greater value to immortality via vampirism." She summarised shrewdly, to which he nodded. "And you still won't even hint at what it is in advance."
"Can't do that, either you take a leap of faith or walk away."
Adrastia's body language didn't betray much, but her aura screamed of both hesitation and curiosity. This was a pivotal crossroads in her life and she knew it.
The silence stretched out for several long minutes and Harry was content to let it go on for as long as necessary, even though Fleur and Dora were starting to shift uncomfortably.
It was very much a case of the devil you knew versus the one you didn't for the Black Widow.
Vampirism was the known path towards the immortality that she coveted, but the mere fact that she hadn't taken it up yet meant that she was likely not eager to make the necessary sacrifices.
On the other hand, he represented an unknown path with unkown rewards, but also demanded a significant sacrifice before he would reveal it.
"I am not in the habit of taking risks..." She finally said.
Harry raised an eyebrow at her, wordlessly questioning what she thought the past few years of her playing games with him were supposed to be in that case. If she had misjudged him or pushed him too far, he could have killed her or worse at any time.
"But...?" He prompted when she didn't continue.
"But I have to admit that I am terribly curious."
Harry nodded and wordlessly took a small knife and a glass vial from his pockets and laid them on the table between them.
Adrastia stared at the items with clear distaste and didn't move to reach for them. Another lengthy silence stretched on as the dark-skinned witch considered her options once again.
"Will I regret doing this?" She asked after nearly a full ten minutes.
"It's always possible, but I personally doubt it." Harry replied with a shrug.
At long last, she came to a decision and reached for the knife and vial. A small cut on her palm and a trickle of blood filled the glass container.
"We'll continue this in the morning." Harry said as he pocketed the knife and the blood.
"I will be staying the night." Adrastia declared imperiously, but her hands were clenched tightly to keep them from shaking.
"Of course." Harry said. "Luna, could you show Adrastia to her room?" He asked.
"Okay." Luna chirped brightly.
"Damn, I thought for sure that she wouldn't go for it." Dora said with a noisy exhale.
"She didn't even ask what the terms would be." Fleur spoke up, confused.
"Because it wouldn't matter what I said." Harry shook his head. "Not when I'll be holding her life in my hands."
A geas rooted in willingly given blood was as powerful as an Unbreakale Vow and completely under the caster's control. Slavery, basically. Nasty, but Adrastia couldn't really be trusted while she was free.
Tonks gave Fleur a look that meant 'I want to talk to him alone'.
Fleur lifted her chin challengingly as if to say 'you're not having sex without me'.
An exasperated eyeroll told the perpetually horny veela in no uncertain terms that it had nothing to do with sex.
Fleur pouted with exaggerated disappointment, gave Harry a quick kiss and sashayed off in a manner designed to call attention to her hips and arse. It worked too, damn her.
The things a metamorphmagus put up with for love.
Harry looked at her with a warm smile, the kind that he only gave to three people in this world, and Tonks felt a happy glow in her chest.
She let herself be pulled into a cuddle, nose buried into the crook of his neck and her scalp massaged by his deft fingers. His powerful magic seemed to wrap arond her like a cocoon that shut out the world. A cold, hard shell of spikes and jagged edges, but it was comforting because that was just the outside. On the inside...well it wasn't a warm marshmallowy goo, but it was home. A place of unquestioning love and support backed with the promise of violence against anything that would threaten it.
It was wonderfully soothing and had a tendency of making even the worst problems feel insignificant.
As the smell of him wafted into her nostrils, her memory drifted to a recent conversation.
Harry was brooding again, the way he did when he'd just realised something that he felt he should have figured out a long time ago. He wasn't sporting the thoughtful frown that he had when it was merely something interesting though, but the displeased scowl of having overlooked something important that had tangible consequences.
Was it weird that she could read him like this?
"Alright, what has you in such a tizzy this time?" She prompted.
Harry responded with a seeming non-sequitur, as he so often did.
"Have you ever been up on a broom, before you could fly without one, and had a fleeting wonder about what it would be like to throw yourself off? Or someone else for that matter? Been walking down the street and just known that you could kick someone in front of a bus, or jumped in front of one yourself? Had a thought about the surprised look on a sparring partnert's face if you mixed a lethal curse in with your spells? Held a baby and considered how easy it would be to crush its skull? These things would be less than an impulse or even a fully formed thought, just a split second acknowledgement that you could."
Morbid, but Tonks had heard worse from him.
"Yeah..." She admitted, curious more than concerned. It wasn't like she'd ever act on it, so it wasn't that big of a deal. "Doesn't everyone, though?"
"Has it been getting stronger over the past few years?"
This time she had to think about her answer. Uneasily, she realised that it had been getting stronger, significantly so. These kinds of thoughts once breezed by so fast that she barely had time to register them, now they lingered. The change had been so slow and gradual that she hadn't really noticed it until it was pointed out.
"The mundane world has a name for it, 'The Death Drive' or 'The Call of the Void'. They have no idea how appropriate it is."
"Starting to get a little worried." Tonks said in a sing-song voice that belied her nervousness. Nothing good ever came of Harry talking about the Void.
"The world is loud." Harry continued softly. "Its many voices drown out the crushing silence of the Void, but small whispers make it through the noise when the circumstances are just right. People without magic are almost completely deaf to it, but we aren't, especially those of us that are killers. The more familiar we are with death, the clearer we hear the call. I thought that Dumbledore was just a stupid pacifist, but now I see why he's really so afraid of killing. The Elder Wand must also frighten him terribly."
"What are you saying?" Tonks asked neutrally.
Harry stepped forward and gave her a hug. "The Void is a part of me and I've learned to live with the constant thoughts of causing death just for the sake of causing death popping up in my head. It's become so normal for me that I forgot what it was like to live without it. I'm sorry, Dora. I didn't consider what killing would do to you."
Tonks wasn't sure what she should be feeling. Angry? Scared? Harry had led her down a much darker path in life than she would have chosen for herself and she scarcely resembled the idealistic young Auror she had been when they first met...but it all just seemed so unimportant when he held her like this.
"It's fine." She mumbled, snuggling deeper into the hug. "It's not like you forced me to do anything and it really hasn't been that hard to ignore."
"I wouldn't advise ignoring it." Harry cautioned. "It's like a persistent itch and will only fester if you try to push it into some dark corner of your mind. Trust me, I know. To quote Yoda, 'once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny'."
Tonks snorted, remembering how he used to steal quotes from the little green toad of Star Wars and put on airs while teaching. Her amusement was short-lived though, because what he said scared her. "What should I do then?"
"The first thing is to not be afraid."
"I'm not afraid." Tonks muttered sulkily.
Harry ignored the obvious lie and continued as if she hadn't spoken. "Despite my referencing, the Void is not like the Dark Side. It won't echo your feelings back to you and magnifiy them, nor does it have a corrupting influence or the power to subvert your will. The Void merely is, it has always been and always will be. Familiarity with death has brought you closer to it, but it has not and will not change you. Accept that you are not diminished in any way for being closer to death. I still love you just as much even if I sometimes think of how easy it would be to break your neck or strangle you while we're having sex."
"So that's what that weird intense look you give me sometimes is." Tonks joked.
"Yes." Harry replied dryly. "And this brings us to the last bit. Life-affirming actions such as humor, positive social contact, having fun and so on will disperse the dread living things naturally associate with death and the Void...as long as you don't try to separate the two. I think Dumbledore tries to fight his fears by being overly compassionate, but that's exactly the problem – he's trying to fight what can't be fought. Riddle is even worse, all he does is try to run from something that's always closing in from all sides."
Tonks nodded in acceptance. Her first instinct was still to try shoving it all into a corner and pretending it didn't exist, but she trusted Harry. He loved her and would always be there for her and that instantly made everything much less scary.
She inhaled deeply as the memory played out in her mind, taking in the scent of his neck. His soft, vulnerable neck. If she morphed her teeth into something sharp and pointy, she could tear out his throat before he could react.
Not long ago, that thought would have made her leave the embrace or start talking in an effort to put it behind her, but now she deliberately stayed where she was and nibbled gently on his skin.
"If you're hungry I've got a sausage in my pants." Harry spoke up dryly.
"Hmm..." Tonks pretended to consider it. "I think I'll pass."
"Then don't go waking it up, woman." He grumbled.
"You'll be sticking it into Zabini soon anyway."
Tonks hoped that she didn't sound too disapproving or bitter. It wasn't even that she resented him sleeping around – there had been plenty of time to get used to the idea of being free to fuck whoever they wanted, especially since they kept the true intimacy between the four of them.
Her real problem was that she just didn't like Adrastia Zabini. The smug woman and her had gotten off to a bad start and things had stayed bad. That she was also an unrepentant serial killer had somehow become a good bit less important over the years.
"That's true." Harry acknowledged, pointedly ignoring her tone.
Tonks decided to change the subject. "I guess you won't be telling her to stop being the Black Widow?"
"That's what makes her useful."
"Innocent people will die."
"Nobody we know."
Tonks huffed at the predictable reply. He could be so frustrating to deal with.
"Can't you at least tell her to target the more unpleasant sorts?"
"I guess." Harry shrugged.
Tonks knew that was the best she was going to get. It said a lot about how much she'd changed that she was willing to take it. She wasn't an idealistic young Auror anymore, even though she still strived to do the right thing. The 'right thing' had so often been bloody and vicious in recent years that moral outrage was getting harder and harder to muster, especially since she had castrated a few dozen Death Eaters herself our of pure vindictiveness.
Having such a strong support group that never judged her was also rather dangerously addictive. How was she supposed to feel sorry for anything when they accepted her so completely? How was she supposed to be upset with them when the light of their souls drowned out all external concerns?
In truth, Tonks was mostly just being the voice of righteousness in the group out of habit and because she felt that someone should be.
Adrastia lay on the bed, staring up at the ceiling. The balcony doors were wide open and allowed a pleasantly cool breeze to blow across her naked body while she reflected on recent events.
She had sold her freedom to a teenager. How absurd it sounded when put like that. Years ago, she wouldn't have even considered it, but time weighed heavily on her thoughts now.
Adrastia knew that she didn't have the kind of intelligence required to become a witch that could destroy her enemies with devastating spells or create great works of enchantment. In fact, her mediocre academic prowess had been a contributing factor to the much hated first marriage her father had forced her into. She'd always been more interested in hanging out with her friends than studying and the old bastard had written her off as useless and started thinking of her as a commodity to be traded because of it.
Arithmancy had never made much sense to her, the visualisation required for Transfiguration was a struggle, her potions were nothing to get excited about and her other spellwork was barely above average. Despite all this, she was very far from stupid – it was just that her talents were elsewhere. Social dynamics, emotional manipulation and seduction came as easy as breathing, and so did the subtle magics associated with them once she learned how to use them.
Using those skills to kill her husband, father and then running both of their vaunted legacies into the ground by frittering away their gold on frivolities that she knew they would have hated remained one of her fondest memories to this day. Revenge had been sweet. Her unwanted son was all that remained from that dark period of her life, having been unable to bring herself to dispose of him as well, but it didn't matter. He had never been told anything of his father and would inherit nothing.
The years since gaining her freedom had been good, living a life of luxury with money that she didn't have to work for, meeting interesting new people, adding another notch to her reputation as a Black Widow if they were interesting enough, other times just bewitching them and leaving them alive in case she needed them in the future, wrecking a marriage for fun here and there and perfecting the skills that allowed those pursuits the whole time.
But all good things had to come to an end, or so people claimed. The problem was that Adrastia did not want the good times to end anytime soon. At thirty-four years old, she was keenly aware that her great beauty would soon begin to spoil like overripe fruit and that was simply unacceptable. In many ways, the slow decay of old age and its myriad of associated unpleasantries would be a fate worse than death for her. Finding a way to avoid that had become an increasingly urgent issue over the past few years. Some women got baby rabies, Adrastia preferred to stay young.
Vampirism had presented one possibility, but a far from ideal one. Being subordinate to her sire and having to hide in the darkness forevermore, forsaking many of the pleasures she now enjoyed, was not a terribly appealing prospect. Worse still, she did not much like the vampire that had offered to turn her. Not that she exactly disliked him either, but he just showed so little personality and Adrasta was deeply uncomfortable not knowing how people might react, especially people that may be in a position to control her life in any way.
On the other hand, there was Harry Potter. Tempting, powerful, handsome, dangerous Harry. Oh, how she longed to feel him bucking beneath her in captive rapture, his member pulsing as it spurted its seed inside her, giving himself up to her in tiny pieces.
Despite her original intention of keeping him as nothing more than a cautious ally and associate, Adrastia couldn't help herself from playing and teasing and probing for a weakness. He was just so interesting and unforgivably masculine. It pushed all of her buttons and she wanted to make him hers.
"How our fortunes turn." She chuckled to herself with a disappointed little sigh, more amused than bitter. Every game had a winner and a loser after all. It was unfortunate that she was the loser of course, but it made no sense to be angry at Harry for being able to tempt her into selling her freedom, not when she'd been trying to do the same thing to him.
Luckily, Harry lacked the same malice that she had. He was not a nice man, but he was not a cruel one either. The little Legilimency spar she'd lost against him months ago had rattled her to be sure, but that was merely a reflexive reaction. Upon further thought, she had concluded that Harry was unlikely to abuse any power he had over her the way that she would have. Certain indignities would have to be endured no doubt, but nothing too terrible. Probably.
It was, admittedly, a calculated gamble at best and a foolish risk at worst. She might have misread him and there was no guarantee that Harry's unknown prize would be her heart's desire. Maybe it was just wishful thinking on her part, but what else would be of equal or greater value to immortality via vampirism if not another form of immortality? What else would he hide so jealously? In any case, time was running out and she was out of easy choices. Getting old was unacceptable and vampirism only slightly better, so she had decided to bet on Harry's honor.
After he bound her, he would come to assert his dominance in a more physical fashion and she would submit willingly. If his offered prize was not immortality, then she would subtly nudge him towards that goal. With his skills, it should be well within the realms of possibility and if it came to that then it would hopefully not take more than a few years. Topping from the bottom was nothing new to her, it was in fact how her conquests often started. Men were often so busy feeling in control that they failed to realise that they weren't until they found themselves licking her boots and wondering how they got there. Of course, this time her submission would be real and absolute, but she would not be completely powerless.
Her wandering thoughts stilled and her body tensed in preparation as she felt a powerful spell begin to take shape, originating from within her own blood and magic. A sensation like countless tiny hooks digging into her flesh passed through her as the geas took effect.
She shuddered as the horrible feeling faded into the background, but remained at the very edges of her perception. That was that then, her freedom was gone. No power on this world would break that geas unless she could find and destroy whatever vessel her blood had been infused into, and she couldn't do that herself as that would mean going against the geas.
The door opened about ten minutes later, admitting the primary subject of her thoughts. He had a freshly-showered look to him and wore only a loosely tied dark silk robe.
"Come to have your way with me, my master?" Adrastia asked with mocking obsequiousness, making no effort to cover herself. Shame and modesty had been discarded a long time ago.
"There's no need to be snide." Harry replied amusedly as he approached and sat down next to her, tossing the robe off on the way.
From a purely physical perspective, she certainly had no complaints. 6'3'', with silky night-black hair falling just below his shoulders, a handsome face despite the scarring and those intensely bright green eyes that she had always thought were far too pretty to belong to a man.
The rest of him was just as delicious. A visibly muscled abdomen, although it still retained enough softness to tell her that he didn't exercise it excessively. That was still far more than most wizards did. His chest had much more prominent musculature that betrayed significant and regular upper body exertion. The rune scars spread over it and peeking from under the hair also gave it a certain exoticism. His scarred arms were also very well developed and again betrayed some kind of regular heavy physical exertion.
And between his legs hung the part of him that she'd been the most curious about. Very nice, well above average length and thickness without straying into ridiculous territory. Nothing to complain about there either.
All in all, with his phsysical appearance and power combined, Adrastia easily classified Harry as the most attractive man she'd ever met, which was quite redundant now that she thought about it. It wasn't as if she would have ever settled for anything less than the best.
"But have you?" She asked, bending her legs and opening them invitingly to reveal her glistening sex.
"Do you want me to?" He asked back with a smirk, placing one hand on her knee and sliding it down her thigh.
Adrastia felt a renewed rush of confidence and triumph at the question, hearing the unspoken assurance in it that he wouldn't take her by force even though he could now do so with impunity. She had already assumed that would be the case, but it was good to have it confirmed.
"You know how I feel about you, Harry." She said in her most sultry tones.
"Do I really?" He asked, amused. "Why don't you tell me just to be sure?"
"I've wanted you since the first time I saw you." She said, staring at him lustfully. She meant to stop there, but the geas rose up within her, promising punishment for lying to its caster even by omission, so she continued. "I wanted you to fill my womb with your seed and leave parts of yourself behind every time. I wanted you to whisper your secrets and fears to me, so that I could forge them into a chain that bound you to me forever."
Even now the thought of it had her moistening in preparation. She looked at Harry challengingly, wondering at his reaction now that the full truth had been forced out of her.
He looked back down at her with so many questions in his eyes.
Adrastia propped herself up on her elbows and gave him an amused smile. "It isn't really something that a man can learn."
His response was to kiss her hard and push her back down on the bed. She returned it eagerly and moaned into his mouth when his hand slid down her stomach to stroke her sex.
When he let up, his eyes were still intent. "Explain to me how what you do differs from the regular Joining. Walk me through it."
"Very well." She acquiesced and he leaned back down, this time applying his lips to her neck. His fingers continued to stimulate her groin. "The Joining links people together, allowing emotions to bleed through and affecting personality with long term use, especially if one party is unaware of themselves or has significantly lesser strength of soul, yes?"
"Mhm." Harry hummed, busy nibbling on a nipple.
"Men and women have different instincts." Adrastia said, biting her lip. He really knew what he was doing.
"Hmm?" Harry hummed questioningly, moving to the other nipple.
"Women are in general...mmm... more inclined towards narcissism, selfishness, hedonism and...ah...are far more likely to value short-term comfort over long-term benefit than men. We are also prone to avoiding risks or getting men to take the risks for us if possible." She explained, starting to have some difficulty focusing.
Harry stopped and looked at her thoughtfully. "How do you figure that?"
"Natural selection." She said quickly, hoping that he was familiar with the theory and that he would go back to doing what he'd been doing earlier instead of asking her to elaborate. Most wizards wouldn't be, but he was not most wizards.
Fortunately her guess was spot on and he just nodded slowly. "I guess I can see that. Natural selection would favor women who played it safe and prioritised themselves and their children over everything else."
Harry went back to focusing on her body and she sighed in pleasure.
"Conversely, men needed to take risks. They have been the providers and protectors since the dawn of our species and have always had to compete with each other to sire children, so they are...mmm...on average far more assertive, proactive and have a much less conservative definition of 'acceptable suffering' when pursuing a goal. In short, they intrinsically value themselves less than women, because they are more expendable from an evolutionary standpoint and deep down, they know it."
Harry made a noise of agreement as he repositioned himself between her legs.
Adrastia let out an anticipatory breath and continued. "This is why men are the primary drivers of civilisation and why they are, on average, better suited to roles of leadership and other dangerous undertakings, physical advantages notwithstanding. It is also what gives the false impression that they do not value women when nothing could be further from the truth."
Harry stilled and looked up at her with a raised eyebrow, clearly asking for elaboration.
Adrastia squirmed, eager to feel his tongue on her lower lips, so she continued quicly. "Throughout the course of history men may have mocked women, dismissed our intelligence, played up our weakness and in general done everything possible to keep us from making our own decisions and despite appearance to the contrary, it was all done because we were valued. To allow women to act on our own volition was to allow us to take risks, and risking women is the same as risking the survival of the species, or the continuation of one's own bloodline if we think on a smaller scale. Always, if the women that men have considered 'theirs' are threatened, violence is the instinctive first response and violence is the riskiest of all actions. That is not how you respond over something that isn't valued."
"An interesting thought." Harry said thoughtfully and she wondered if he was thinking of what he would do in defense of his own women. "And the reproductive value of women can't be denied, but how does this tie in to your little hobby?" he asked and dived in to drag his tongue along her sex.
Adrastia inhaled sharply and closed her eyes in enjoyment. Harry was really good at this. Better than anyone she'd ever had down there by quite a wide margin.
"Well?" He prompted when she didn't speak for a few seconds.
"Look beyond the superficial trifles, comforts and social constructs of the modern age and...ah...you see that our species as a whole is still ruled by its instincts just as much as it has ever been. Lacking the physical power of men, women evolved in a...hn...different direction. We are natural manipulators, instinctively knowing how to use our beauty and unthreatening appearance to draw in...mmmm...the best possible mate by inciting competition among men for our favor and how to use validation, guilt, sex, shame and distress to get men to do what we want once we have them." She said, eyes still closed as she grabbed her breasts and began fondling them in time with his licking. "I just took it a few steps further."
Adrastia stopped again as she felt Harry working some sort of magic between her legs. She had no idea what it was, but it was safe to guess that it was sex related.
Soon, the spell was finished and he immediately began flicking her clitoris around with his tongue.
Adrastia bit her lip to choke down the cry of pleasure that nearly escaped her throat, but she couldn't stop her hips from bucking into him needily. He was cheating, using magic to magnify sensation.
"Keep talking, and don't skip the details." Harry ordered and continued the sweet torture.
So she did. She told him all about how she used her beauty, sensuality, confidence and the image of high status portrayed by obvious wealth to attract male attention, how she used their biological drive to chase women to trap them, how she twisted their instinct to protect women into a slavish devotion, how she exploited their inbuilt desire to please and curry favor with the potential mother of their children to alienate them from their friends and family, how she teased out their insecurities with feigned compassion and then used that knowledge to prey on their fears, how she chipped away at their confidence by subtly insinuating that she was unsatisfied with them, how she loaded them down with guilt by implying that it was their fault for not being good enough, how she eroded their wills by undermining their sense of self-worth, how she perverted their need for female validation until they were thankful for the abuse and humiliation she gave them and when they were nothing more than pale shadows of what they used to be, how she gave them one last smile as they died and drank in the pitiful relief that shone in their eyes at seeing it. She told him everything that she otherwise kept hidden beneath the playful, flirty, harmless persona of a wealthy woman that had no goals without a man at her side.
It took nearly a full hour to say everything because Harry spent the whole time between her legs and his spell kept her suspended on the edge of orgasm. Talking was understandably interspersed with a lot of gasping and pausing as she struggled to stay on topic, made worse because thinking about her past conquests only drove her arousal higher.
When she was finally done explaining, Harry pinched her clitoris between his lips and Adrastia couldn't stop herself from screaming in pleasure as the orgasm exploded out of her with a violent eruption of fluids.
He didn't stop even then, lapping up her discharge eagerly. The overstimulation bordered on painful and had definitely become unpleasant, but all she could do was mewl pitifully in protest while her limbs trembled uncontrollably.
Finally he pulled away and Adrastia breathed a sigh of relief, staring at the ceiling in a daze. She was short of breath, soaked in sweat and still feeling a bit loopy after experiencing the most powerful orgasm of her life by far.
It wasn't long before Harry returned, settling on top of her and wedging his hips between her still shaky legs. Feeling his hard shaft pressing against her raw sex, Adrastia belatedly realised that his needs hadn't been taken care of at all and that she wouldn't be getting any rest until they were.
She looked into his oh-so-green eyes and saw the intent gleam in them. His face and hair looked like it had recently been wet and wiped, more likely from her discharge than from sweat.
"The theory was definitely interesting, now give me the practical." He ordered.
Adrastia smiled at him alluringly, although she was aware that it probably came out more tired than she'd like. With some effort, she hooked her not-entirely-cooperative legs behind his knees and reached down to grab his member.
She gave it an exploratory stroke and lined it up with her opening. He plunged in without hesitation, hilting himself in her completely in the first thrust. Thankfully, she was wetter than she'd ever been or that would have been quite painful.
Adrastia sighed at the pleasure of being filled. Her nerves were still a bit raw from the orgasm, but this she could enjoy.
"Show me." Harry commanded again, punctuating the order by pulling out and thrusting back in.
That snapped her out of the near doze she'd fallen into without realising it.
"As you wish." Adrastia acquiesced and reached out with her magic to probe at him.
He was strong, so much stronger than anyone she'd ever had. And aware, she could sense him paying closer attention to the spiritual part of their union than the physical, staying still inside her instead of thrusting away like every other man. Had she still been trying to enthrall him, it would have been quite challenging to slip her meddling past him and likely taken years of regular sex to achieve.
Adrastia did not push her magic forward and mingle it with his in a standard Joining, she called to him with a siren song that reached past his aura, past his waking mind, past his emotions and the subconscious personality traits learned over the course of his life, deep into the very bedrock of his body and soul, to the pull of instinct, the primal need.
Her magic whispered promises of what a perfect mate she was, promises of the many strong children she would give him. All he had to do was pump away and fill her with his seed, again and again and again until she was pregnant and then protect and provide for her.
Since she was not actually trying to enthrall him, she didn't bother being subtle and tugged on his instincts brazenly and with all the power she could bring to bear. A forceful approach in a situation where force was counter-productive, so the geas didn't react.
Linked as closely as they were, Adrastia felt him smirk as much as she saw the expression form on his face, right before he began thrusting into her slow but powerful motions. Beneath the physical, he pushed his magic into her just as aggressively.
Adrastia gasped as his presence filled her, so much greater and more powerful than her own. More aggressive as well. He was pressing deep inside her, to the base female instinct to find the strongest possible mate to breed with, promising protection and strong children, all she had to do was submit to him completely.
He had learned and attempted to adapt what she'd showed him in an astonishingly short time, that she would admit freely, but this was still fundamentally flawed. The instinct to take care of one's mate was an instrinsic part of a man's nature, but women were not so burdened. The only instinct they had in that direction was to take care of themselves and their children.
Most likely he had been thinking of that submissive mistress of his that she'd seen once in his mind when he thought to try this. Not unexpected, but quite mistaken. Even a woman like that was only submissive to him for her own pleasure, not his.
To his credit, Harry seemed to realise that he was trying to influence something that simply wasn't there and abandoned the effort. With a final series of thrusts, Adrastia felt his warm seed spilling into her, accompanied by a decidedly male sense of victorious satisfaction.
Like planting a flag on a conquered fortress. She thought with amusement. She'd yet to encounter a single man that didn't experience that feeling on some level when they came in her, although it was particularly powerful in Harry's case. Of course, every other time it was a trap. This time I really have been conquered, or talked into surrendering at least.
Regardless, she still gave Harry the final part of her 'practical demonstration'. As his member pulsed inside her, she met his animal sense of satisfaction at fulfilling his biological purpose with her own. Even if she didn't want children, her body did and that was what she sent to him.
When it was over, they stilled and Adrastia could almost feel him mentally dissecting her technique.
"Satisfied?" She asked with a tired smile, arching an eyebrow up at him.
"It was...educational." He replied with a small grin. "This actually works?"
"Instinct is not absolute, but it is an inescapable part of our being. With the right knowledge, skill and subtlety, it can be used to twist people to your own ends, even without magic."
"Hmmm." He hummed noncommittally. "That's pretty scary, and completely skewed in favor of women."
"We each have our strengths and weaknesses." She shrugged, at least as much as she was able with him still on top of and inside her. Then she smirked up at him wickedly. "Men have won the evolutionary lottery on nearly everything, so it is only to be expected that women evolved to make you use all those strengths for us."
Harry replied by seizing her mouth in a kiss, although it was more accurately described as an assault on her mouth. Typical man, answering challenges with force. Still, she responded eagerly and let him do as he wished. He was just defeating himself after all.
The geas buzzed at her thoughts, but reacted no further than that since she wasn't actually doing anything.
Harry disengaged soon enough and looked down at her archly. "You're being awful smug, considering that you're basically saying that women are whores by nature."
"Prostitution is the world's oldest profession for a reason." She riposted mockingly. Sex had always been a woman's greatest weapon and there was no shame in using it. Besides, the difference between the pitiful creatures selling their bodies for peanuts on street corners and her was so vast that the comparison was almost meaningless.
"Point." He conceded with amusement, giving her another brief kiss and pulling away. "Thanks for the lesson, we'll have to schedule another some day."
"Anytime." Adrastia groaned out sexily, stretching luxuriously now that he wasn't pinning her down anymore and deliberately making a big show of it. She felt the heat of his gaze on her body even though her eyes were closed.
Men were very visual creatures and seeing that they'd done a good job did wonders for their self-esteem, especially when it concerned their biological imperative with women. Although entirely non-magical, it was actually one of her better tools of manipulation.
Indirectness was of paramount importance in any manipulation. Telling people something meant that they first had to trust you to believe it and respect you to value it, whereas giving subtle indications of it would float the notion into their subconscious from within. Truly convincing a person of anything at all was very difficult if not outright impossible, but guiding their thoughts so that they convinced themselves? That was another story.
That Harry actually had done a good job and she didn't have to fake satisfaction for a change was entirely irrelevant.
"Is that so?" He asked with smug amusement.
And there it was. The male self-pride at having thoroughly fucked a woman.
"Of course, my master." She purred, opening her eyes halfway to give him a seductive half-lidded look. "I am always at your disposal."
He would be suspicious if she suddenly became meek and obedient, so mockery was a good cover.
Adrastia had to stop herself from frowning as the geas buzzed warningly in the back of her head again. That was going to get old in a hurry.
"I'm sure." Harry replied dryly. "Breakfast is at seven in the morning if you want it."
"Too early." Adrastia stretched and groaned again, although the groan was a bit more grumpy this time. Then she turned on her side to regard him, propping her head up on her elbow and displaying her breasts.
Her attention was drawn to his returned erection, which was once again at full mast. That was certainly quick, and it explained how he kept three women satisfied. Well, that and his truly impressive skill at licking pussy. She was still tingling down below.
"Second breakfast is usually somewhere between nine and eleven." Harry smirked at her. No doubt he'd noticed her shameless staring at his cock. Yet another typical male weakness, this silly pride they had in their equipment.
Adrastia raised her eyes to his and looked at him strangely. "What are you, a hobbit?"
"Fleur and I rise with the Sun. Dora and Luna like to sleep in. Thus, second breakfast became a thing."
The door clicked shut behind Harry and Adrastia was left alone in the room once again.
With a sigh, she lay back down and closed her eyes again, feeling relieved that he hadn't wanted another go. Good as it had felt, that overpowered orgasm had taken a lot out of her.
Still, Adrastia smiled. Things were actually going a little better than expected. A slave she might be in truth, but she had read Harry correctly. As long as she was careful to not overstep herself and truly anger him, her freedom would be only minimally restricted.
And perhaps more importantly, the game was still on. Oh, she would never be able to bring Harry as low as she might have wished, but placing herself in his servitude meant that his great power would be used to shield her. That he would be expecting her to keep scheming after everything she'd told him just now was largely irrelevant and may actually serve to lower his guard since he was in a position of absolute power, but there was more than one kind of power.
She would make herself indispensible to him and benefit from his strength and resources, which was really no different than the historical relationship between a man and a woman. The only real difference was that the service she would be providing wouldn't be the use of her womb.
It was good that he had other women for that. Had he been single, Adrastia wasn't sure if she would have entered into this arrangement. The last thing she wanted was for him to get any ideas about impregnating her somewhere down the line.
Which reminded her...
She reached between her legs and dug her fingers into her vaginal canal, feeling Harry's thick sperm slowly oozing out of it. She brought her now stained fingers in front of her face and rubbed them together, squelching the viscous white goop between them.
"Oh, if only." Adrastia murmured to herself mournfully.
A relatively uncomplicated Sex Magic ritual and she could fill Harry's dreams with steamy visions of herself, cause him uncontrollable arousal at the sight of her, prevent him from finding release with any other woman or even through masturbation and punish him if he tried. That would be a special sort of hell for someone with a libido like his.
But it would have stayed nothing more than an idle daydream even without the geas that now bound her. There were simply too many risks. For one thing, he would immediately sense what she'd done just like she had sensed his geas taking hold of her. That was why she only used this on non-magical men who couldn't sense it.
Next were those three witches of his, all of them far more directly powerful than she was. Even if Harry was disabled, they would kill her on his behalf and free him.
Even if that hadn't been a factor, Harry himself might have been able to overcome such a geas through sheer willpower. Semen only governed a man's sexuality and reproductive functions after all, not their life like blood did. Then she would be faced with a very powerful, very angry and very horny wizard. A quick and clean death would be the best she could hope for in that case, but was unlikely to get it.
Adrastia wiped her fingers on the already thoroughly soiled sheets with a regretful sigh, giving up on the pleasant fantasy of having Harry beg for the privilege of touching her. A fantasy was all it would ever be.
Harry didn't go to the master bedroom immediately – even if theirs was an open relationship, coming back covered in another woman's dried sexual release was terribly crass. He took another shower instead and indulged in the time-honored tradition of shower introspection.
Finally fucking Adrastia had been incredibly satisfying. Not because she was a good lay – he hadn't actually gotten to test her skill...this time – but for the rush of power he got from dominating her.
He wasn't even going to try justifying his feelings, the visceral satisfaction having her pinned beneath him as he filled her up and knowing that he could now do it whenever he wanted, however he wanted and she couldn't really refuse or turn it around on him.
But making her submit to him in word and action wasn't what he was most interested in. What he really wanted was for her to submit in spirit and do it willingly.
It was not a nice thing to do by any stretch. Harry might not feel that it wasn't nice, but he knew it. He also didn't care.
If there had ever been an appropriate target for those urges, Adrastia was it. She was a creature of terrible impulses just like him. The arousal, lust and even pride in her voice as she described what she did to her victims was proof enough of that. It was also a bit of a turn on if he was being honest.
He was looking forward to seeing if he could turn such a proud monster into his happy little fuckpet without cheating via soul manipulation or breaking her will. Of course, trying to tame her gently would no doubt be a long, long game. That was good, a man needed hobbies if he was going to be immortal.
She would resist of course and that was also good. It wouldn't be any fun if it was too easy. Conniving spider that she was, there was no doubt that she had plans to exert some form of power even from her indisputably subordinate position. He had been listening while she was explaining her methods.
Perhaps she was intending to outlast him, counting on the power of her vagina to generate fondness for her over time? Not a bad plan, admittedly. It was pretty hard to fuck someone for an extended period of time and not become at least a little fond of them, excluding situations where genuine hate was involved.
Harry wondered if Adrastia was as happy to have someone to play with as he was.
Was it any wonder that the two of them had circled around each other like hungry tigers for the past few years? It would have been smart to back off and keep a distance between them, the way dangerous people usually quietly agreed to do when they weren't enemies, but they were both too interested in the dangerous game between them to leave well enough alone. She could have kept things impersonal and Harry could have told her to back off at any time, but neither of them did that.
Ah, but it wasn't all play. He had learned an intereting thing from Adrastia just now. The pull of instinct was hardly foreign to him, but he had never thought of it from the angle that she did.
He could see potential new avenues of research, study and experimentation now. All the good stuff.
Once he was done showering (and thinking), he made his way to the master bedroom.
The girls had been busy while he was otherwise engaged. Dora was currently on her back with her legs spread while Fleur and Luna each lay one one side of her, using hands and mouths to tease more than please. They seem to have been waiting for him.
Harry smiled. He was fortunate to have such wonderful lovers. They had almost certainly prevented him from becoming too much of a monster.
"How was she?" Fleur asked almost immediately, her voice full of humor.
"Interesting." Harry replied, his eyes drawn to Dora's wide open legs. "It's probably easier if I just show you."
Touching their basest instincs like that was certainly not going to dissuade them from their plans of having children once Voldemort was done for, but what can you do? Harry had already become somewhat desensitised to the trepidation that the prospect of fatherhood instilled because of little Arielle and figured that getting women pregnant was the same as everything else – it got easier with practice.
The following morning, the five of them were once again gathered together in the cháteau's private sitting room, Harry and the girls sitting together on a couch and Adrastia across from them in an armchair.
Harry placed a vial on the coffee table sitting between them. It was filled it a colorless liquid that somehow managed to be simultaneously clear and opaque, a contradiction that only magic could mash together.
"And what is this?" Adrastia asked curiously, holding the vial up to her eyes and turning it around as if that would reveal its secrets.
"Elixir of Life." Harry said simply.
Adrastia froze for a moment and then a smile bloomed on her face.
Harry and the girls were taken aback at how genuine the expression was. One could almost forget that this woman was a serial killer with a mile wide streak of emotional sadism when she smiled like that.
"More than six hundred years ago, Nicholas Flamel made the worst mistake of his life when he boasted about his success in creating the Philosopher's Stone." She said softly, turning to look at Harry with a more familiar amused expression. "I must admit that it is gratifying to see that you are wiser than that. For a prize like this, I will serve you gladly."
"A word of warning about the Elixir before you drink it..."
"Yes?" Adrastia asked uncertainly.
"It's incredibly addicting." He said simply. "The first dose will make you feel like you got hit by lightning, in a good way. The intensity fades within minutes, but you'll always know when your body is juiced up on the Elixir, and if you don't take it regularly you'll start experiencing withdrawal symptoms from hell."
Harry should know, having gone through it himself, in the name of science of course. He'd tested it on rats first, then on a captured Death Eater and finally on himself when he felt that he'd learned all he could from observation.
Fleur and Dora had not been amused to find out that he'd used himself as a guinea pig, but couldn't really protest too much to him beginning to take the Elixir since his body was in its prime right now. It would have been different it he was actually as old as his date of birth suggested, but with the accelerated maturation due to his runes and all the time he'd spent in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber recently, he was closer to twenty-one than to eighteen and his body's physical development was probably somewhere around twenty-five.
"I don't see the problem with that as long as you continue to supply me with it." Adrastia shrugged and quickly downed the Elixir.
She immediately went through a full body shudder and a downright lewd moan slipped from her throat.
"Oh my." She breathed, looking at him with eyes that sparkled with life. "You weren't kidding. How long will this dose last me?"
"I'd give it about a month and a half, give or take a week. It depends on how active you are."
"Can't I just take more, let's say enough to last me a few years?"
"Only if you want to spontaneously combust. Too much life force is bad for you." Harry explained wryly, smirking at Adrastia's surprised blink.
"Poor Horatio. He didn't deserve to die like that." Luna said somberly.
"They're called lab rats for a reason, the same reason that I told you not to name them, coincidentally." Harry rolled his eyes.
"How heartless!" Adrastia gasped theatrically, holding a hand to her breast and smirking. She was obviously in a grand mood.
"Yes, quite." He drolled in response. "But enough about the tragedy of Horatio. I'm sure you'd like to know why you were offered the Elixir in the first place?"
"You wanted to add some color to your harem?" She asked. Her tone was innocent and breathy like some kind of earnest young intern, but her eyes smouldered with carnal promises. "I will not disappoint you."
Harry very deliberately did not shift in place as his body responded. Adrastia made the veela's seduction game seem as subtle as a battering ram in comparison. Too much reliance on the Allure versus natural talent and learned skill no doubt. Although thinking of the veela did give him an idea...
"You should arrange for an appointment with Fleur's grandmother then, I'm sure she'll have you trained up to snuff as a proper concubine in no time." He said blithely, taking perverse enjoyment in the flash of indignation that passed through her eyes. "But no, that's not why you were offered this bargain."
"Do tell." She said, somewhat less playfully.
"Basically, we need a spymistress." Harry said bluntly. "Our intelligence gathering ability outside of Spellhaven is more limited than I'm comfortable with and you seem well connected. I want to know if the magical governments of the world are thinking of doing anything stupid and I'd especially like to know what the hell Bjomolf and his fellow bloodsuckers are playing at."
"That is a role I could certainly fulfill." Adrastia said thoughtfully. "Although I think you may be overestimating what I know of the vampires and their plots."
"We'll see." He said simply. "Let's start with where we left off yesterday. What is your personal theory for Bjomolf's sudden burst of helpfulness?"
"I would say that he is most likely trying to get your attention. As I said before, it is unlike him to be this obvious. Why he wants to get your attention and why he is doing it in this particular manner I could not guess at."
"Hmm." Harry nodded. "Who is Goran Gojkov?"
Adrastia was startled by that. "Now how did you come across that name?"
"Interrogating Death Eaters. Seems like some mysterious third party hired him to help with Voldemort's resurrection and then he stuck around to train the Death Eaters for a while after that."
"That is...unexpected." She said carefully. "Goran is one of the more competent, but lesser known, wizard mercenaries in the world. I have employed him once myself, as I believe I mentioned to you years ago, and I know that the vampires sometimes use him as well."
"So, why would Bjomolf help Voldemort get his feet under him again and then turn around and help me take him down?"
"Your guess is as good as mine." Adrastia shrugged. "The only insight I can give you is that Bjomolf does not really do anything short-term. Whatever plan this is supposed to further was likely conceived decades before we were born and might very well not come to fruition for decades more. The only clear certainty is that you play some part in it."
"Couldn't we simply ignore him?" Fleur asked.
"It isn't that straightforward." Adrastia shook her head. "Bjomolf is an extremely good judge of character, able to accurately discern people's personalities, motivations and likely actions with only brief interactions and even from second-hand accounts. The first time I met him, he already had me mostly figured out. He might know that you will eventually be forced to take the bait no matter what and is setting it out early to give himself an advantage when it does happen. He might be counting on you to refuse and is using it as a distraction or a means of guiding you to where he really wants you to go. It could even be both at the same time and you will end up playing into his hands no matter which option you choose."
Harry blew air out of his nose noisily. "What an irritating person to deal with."
Adrastia cracked a smile. "That he is."
"What would you do in my shoes then?"
"Most likely I would just confront him directly." She shrugged again. "However unusual his behavior towards you is, he is not in the habit of making dangerous enemies unless absolutely necessary. It is unlikely that you will be in any immediate danger. I could set up a meeting for you if you wish?"
"Let's hold off on that for now." Harry declined.
"Very well, is there anything else you wish of me?" Adrastia asked, smiling suggestively.
"A full report on your own sources of information and areas of influence. For now, just summarise it for me."
"How dull." Adrastia pouted playfully. "I have just over a hundred men with their libidos enthralled to me scattered all over the world, although most of them are concentrated in Europe and the Americas. I have mostly used them to collect rumors or to act as pawns and scapegoats. They are now at your disposal of course, but if I am to be your spymistress I will need to take some time to reorganise them. Not to mention do a little...recruiting."
"Is it wrong that I'm kind of impressed?" Fleur muttered.
Tonks clenched her jaw at the amused smirk on Adrastia's face. Damn but this woman irritated her.
"Yeah, about that..." She spoke up.
"Yes, Nymphadora?" Adrastia's amusement only seemed to increase.
Tonks wanted to snap at the woman to not call her that, but that somehow felt like handing her a victory.
"If you're going do to some 'recruiting', then focus on the arseholes first."
"You will have to be a little more specific, Nymphadora." Adrastia retorted playfully. "I'm afraid that all men are more or less the same to me. Except Harry of course. He is special."
"Easy there, she's just winding you up." Harry said, patting her hand. On her other side, Luna cuddled up to her and the irritation guttered out quickly.
"And you can stop being deliberately obtuse." Harry said pointedly to Adrastia. "You know damn well what she was saying."
"I suppose." Adrastia sighed in a put upon manner. "Very well, I will try to target the less genial men first. They are often more fun anyway."
"And stay away from the married ones." Tonks added.
"Now you are just being unreasonable." Adrastia scoffed. "Do you have any idea how few men are still single by the time they get anywhere useful in life?"
"Let her do things her way, Dora." Harry interjected. "Micromanaging her will just make her useless."
"But we can't just let her go around destroying marriages for our gain." Tonks protested with a frown.
"Not to worry, most marriages end up destroying the people trapped in them anyway." Adrastia reassured. "Giving the men in them something to pine for improves their lives more often than not."
There was much skepticism to be had in response to this narcissistic statement.
"Right..." Harry said, deciding to move forward. "In any case, I'll be waiting for that report and you can expect me to send you a list of places I'd like you to infiltrate once I've gone over it."
"I wonder if this is what having a pimp feels like?" Adrastia mused, smothering a smile when she saw the discomfort bloom in the body language of the metamorphmagus and the veela.
"Not until I start dressing like Dumbledore and taking up a ridiculous fake name like Riddle." Harry deadpanned after a moment's surprise that she would go there.
"I did not need that mental image." Tonks said with audible cringe.
"Me neither." Fleur agreed with a grimace of her own.
"I don't get it." Luna frowned in puzzlement.
"I am sure Harry will be able to explain the nuances of prostitution in recent times to you later." Adrastia chuckled.
Harry gave her a Look. Explaining the 'nuances of prostitution' to Luna would require him to actually research them first and that seemed like time that he was never going to get back, even if it only took thirty minutes or so.
"We're done here for the moment. I'll summon you if I need anything more." He said, essentially finishing the conversation.
"When and how will I get my next dose of the Elixir?" Adrastia asked as they all stood up.
Harry cast a quick summoning spell at a shelf, seding a carved wooden box flying into his hands.
"Here." He said, handing it to her.
Adrastia opened the box eagerly and smiled gleefully at the half dozen vials contained within.
"Pay attention to your body. When a persistent lethargy sets in and your skin starts to feel achy, that means that the Elixir is wearing off and you should take another dose. You can take two doses at once with no issues, so there's no need to worry about taking them too close together, but I wouldn't advise taking three at once and absolutely do not take four."
Adrastia didn't take her eyes off the vials the whole time he was talking, apparently mesmerised. Harry was almost wondering if he was going to have to repeat himself when she finally looked up at him.
"Thank you." She said with more sincerity than he'd ever seen from her.
Harry didn't really know how to respond to that, so he elected to just push through. "The box is spelled to only open for you and I trust that I don't need to warn you not to share this with anyone?"
The deadpan look this got him somehow felt extremely funny.
Once Adrastia was gone, little box of immortality in hand, Fleur turned towards Harry with a questioning face.
"What are we going to do about this vampire problem?" She asked.
"For the moment, nothing." Harry replied with a frown. "We'll make use of the information of course, but I'd really rather not get tangled up in some convoluted plot with the noseless nuisance still at large."
"But Adrastia said we're already tangled up in it." Luna pointed out.
"We can start cutting strings later. First, there's hunting to be done."
The hunting didn't begin immediately. Harry wasn't willing to take Bjomolf's information at face value, so he had to verify it first. Even without that, preparations had to be made in order to maximize its use. That took about a week, after which the hunting began.
Voldemort didn't notice anything at first. Not only was he busy keeping a low profile and putting his chosen Death Eaters through hellish training, but he was also not approptiately paranoid even in the face of the setbacks and defeats he had suffered. Arrogance remained his worst blind spot.
Still, it was only a matter of time before he learned that many of his unmarked Death Eaters had vanished mysteriously. These had been all across Europe and their job had been to simply go about their lives and quietly talk like-minded individuals into joining up as well with promises of wealth and power.
Voldemort had been certain that, since they weren't really doing anything noteworthy, they were undetectable. Being unpleasantly surprised yet again did his temper no favors. He relocated those that hadn't been snatched in a hurry and seethed, plotting retribution against his enemy for daring to upset him again. He didn't think of it in those terms, but that was what it boiled down to. It wasn't really a war to seize political power anymore, having since mutated into a personal vendetta.
The problem remained the same as it had always been. How to strike back? Harry lived on a heavily fortified island and had long since moved any vulnerable associations and their families there.
Oh, there were a few places that he could strike at, such as the Potter Communications building in Diagon Alley and the much smaller clothing store he was known to endorse and partially own, but those were not enough to satisfy his need for revenge. There were other Potter Communications stores and offices all over magical enclaves all over the world, but destroying those wouldn't be enough either. It wouldn't be personal.
Inspiration struck him when one Death Eater, eager to to anything at all that would cool the Dark Lord's rage by even a single degree, related a rumor he'd heard that Ginny Weasley had rekindled her friendship and more with Harry Potter.
The rumor was a load of hippogriff shit, as rumors tended to be. After failing to convince her daughter to come back home, Molly Weasley had complained loudly and vocally about it to anyone that would listen, including her closest magical neighbours, the Diggorys.
Mrs. Diggory had listened to Molly with commiseration, nodding at all the right places, saying all the right things and agreeing that associating with a dangerous philanderer like Harry Potter wasn't something that a young lady like Ginny should be doing.
It should be noted at this point that the world's magical cultures in general and that of the British Isles in particular were not exactly homogenous.
Muggleborns weren't truly despised until recently, as a direct result of the modern values of equality for all that had been conceived in the mundane world over the past century or so and which the purebloods felt so threatened by. In all the previous eras, both magical and mundane people shared a belief in class distinction and were able to mostly get along even if they didn't always agree about who belonged in which social class.
With the social hierarchy being more or less stable until recently, Magical Britain's culture ran the gamut from early medieval to modern as new blood was introduced in a steady trickle and each new era saw new families establish themselves in the community. These families usually lost touch with the mundane world from which they'd come within a generation and suffered from the frozen-in-amber effect that the magical world was so good at producing.
The cultural stasis wasn't perfect of course. The human inclination to fit in came into play and everyone made an automatic subconscious effort prevent their society from looking completely fractured and there was some unavoidable bleed through, especially within the halls of Hogwarts, but by and large Magical Britain was a mish-mash of culture bubbles from various eras.
The Weasleys and Prewetts were a bit of an exception to the norm. Although both old families, they lacked the wealth to really be part of the social elite that their long lineage should have put them in, so they avoided the hidebound traditionalism that kept the attitudes of their fellow purebloods stagnant. Because of this, Molly most closely resembled a mid 20th century housewife, tempered by the fact that she was a more forceful personality and a more powerful witch than her husband.
Conversely, the Diggorys were not a terribly old family. Just old enough that almost nobody still living recalled them having any non-magical relatives and old enough that they'd had no contact with the mundane world in just over a hundred and fifty years.
Mrs. Diggory wouldn't have quite fit into Victorian era England, but it would be close. Because of this, she had certain...views on propriety and what happened when a young woman went to stay with a known womaniser all by herself. Her perceptions twisted Molly's tale of woe into something rather more scandalous when she eventually retold it.
Of course, the person she told it to added another twist or two and within weeks it was a juicy open secret in Magical Britain that Ginny Weasley was Harry Potter's latest harem girl. They had been friends once, didn't you know?
The gossip columnists at Teen Witch Weekly caught wind of it as well. 'Didn't you used to date Ron Weasley?' someone asked the newly-employed Lavender Brown, who confirmed it. In the eyes of gossipmongers, this was nearly as good as being in the bedroom while Ginny was being ravaged by the insatiable dark lusts of Harry Potter, as one particularly dramatic idiot put it, so she was assigned to write the article. Lavender was ecstatic because it would give her huge exposure and be a great springboard for her career, so she really gave it her all, putting enough speculation and sensationalism into it to impress even Rita Skeeter. As soon as it was published, the story gained legitimacy in the eyes of the sheep, which was why that one Death Eater felt it was worth risking the Dark Lord's wrath by relating it to him.
So, yeah. Hippogriff shit. Nonetheless, Voldemort seized upon it with utter glee.
October 6th, 2018.
When Kingsley Shacklebolt arrived on Spellhaven in his official capacity as an Auror, Harry immediately knew that it was going to be bad news. Police, military or government officials never came in person to deliver good news.
When he asked to talk to Ginny, the possibilities were narrowed down even further. Obviously, something had happened to the other Weasleys and that something probably called itself Voldemort. After that, it was fairly easy to guess at the approximate chain of events that led to Shacklebolt being present on Spellhaven.
This annoyed Harry quite a bit. He hadn't spared much thought for Ginny and honestly barely even saw her these days, which is why it hadn't occured to him that Voldemort might target her family. Some of that annoyance was aimed at Ginny for not considering the possibility herself.
When Ginny arrived, Shacklebolt proceeded to tell her pretty much exactly what Harry had already guessed at. Charlie Weasley had gone back to his job in Romania some time ago and Bill had been working late at Gringotts when the attack happened, so they were still safe, but the others were gone.
Arthur, Molly and Ron had been at the Burrow, which was now a burned out husk with the Dark Mark floating over it.
Percy had seemingly been snatched right on the doorstep of his modest home. There were no signs of a struggle except for some faded spell traces.
The twins had put up more of a fight, as their joke shop and upstairs appartment in Diagon Alley was a veritable warzone, but they had been taken nonetheless. Their long term girlfriends were out of the country on a quidditch tour with the Holyhead Harpies. Lucky them.
Cue the hysterics and shortly after that, Ginny turning to him with desperate eyes and asking him to save her family.
Harry pinched the bridge of his nose in irritation. Rescue missions. He hated rescue missions. He especially hated rescue missions that were obvious traps.
"Harry, please! You have to help!" Ginny wailed desperately when he didn't reply to her first entreaty.
No, he really didn't have to, in the strictest sense of the word. In fact, Ginny insisting that he simply had to made him want to not help simply to demonstrate that fact. Kind of petty, but...eh.
Unfortunately, Luna was also giving him a look that said she had absolute faith in him and Dora was right next to her with her own 'I-know-you-don't-want-to-but-do-it-for-me' look. Adrastia had been so right, women were manipulative by nature. Fleur was the only one that didn't seem to care one way or another.
"Fine, we'll help." He muttered. What a waste of a perfectly good Saturday, maybe even the whole weekend. Ginny's obvious relief was no compensation, but the proud smiles on Luna and Dora's faces did at least blunt his irritation.
"Both Madam Bones and Dumbledore have asked me to offer you whatever help you need." Shacklebolt added.
Harry responded to that with a non-descript grunt of acknowledgement, privately thinking of how ridiculous it was that a senior Auror thought it was normal to be taking orders from two leaders at the same time. Dumbledore was still making a mess of Britain's magical government simply by virtue of existing.
"So, now what?" Ginny asked shakily, wiping her eyes with a sleeve.
"Now we wait for the noseless wonder to throw out the bait."
"You think this is a trap of some kind?" Shacklebolt asked in surprise.
"Duh." Harry rolled his eyes. "You think it's concidental that the Weasleys were targeted so soon after Ginny showed up in Spellhaven?"
"That's a good point." Shacklebolt nodded, somehow both grimly and awkwardly. "I heard that Ms. Weasley had joined your...err...arrangement."
Ah, so that's what did it. Harry mused to himself while Ginny erupted into denials, Luna helpfully pointed out that he'd only just acquired his latest mistress a couple of weeks ago and wasn't looking for any more at present and the other two just looked on in amusement as the chaos unfolded.
None of them really followed the news back in Britain except perhaps Narcissa, but even that was sporadic. A dumb rumor like this might not have reached them for a long time, if ever. That meant that Voldemort either still had some sources there or one of his remaining minions kept up on the gossip.
Oh, it seems that Ginny had already known about these rumors due to some teasing by the twins. That she hadn't considered the repercussions said quite a lot about her lack of foresight.
Harry started nibbling on Fleur's earlobe. It was a more interesting thing to do than discussing what kind of dumb shit the British magical population had invented about them this time.
"But we can't just wait for You-Know-Who to contact us!" Ginny's insistent voice cut through Fleur's purring. Apparently the conversation had swung back to the point while he hadn't been paying attention.
"You say that as if you're going to be part of the action." Harry noted after disengaging from the yummy earlobe, amused by her presumption.
"It's my family that was taken!" Ginny retorted angrily.
"What Harry means to say is that you aren't ready to fight the Death Eaters." Dora interjected diplomatically.
"I want to help!" The redhead insisted stubbornly.
"Then stay out of the way." Harry spoke up before Dora could pussyfoot around again. Being nice was fine and all, but it was best to crush any stupid notions as soon as possible.
"Just leave it to us, Ginny." Luna chimed in and rubbed her friend's back.
Ginny looked like she was ready to start crying again out of sheer frustration. Weak people problems.
A pale-faced Narcissa suddenly burst into the room, holding a communication mirror as if it would bite her.
"Harry." She said, holding the mirror out to him and swallowing fearfully. "It's V-Voldemort."
"That was strangely well-timed." Harry commented and took the mirror, looking at the pasty noseless face of his enemy. "Tom, I see you've been modernising. Would you mind filling out a customer satisfaction survey to give a Dark Lord's perspective on my merchandise?"
"Potter." Voldemort hissed, red eyes nearly glowing with fury and madness. "I'm sure you've heard by now that I have your little blood traitor slut's family."
"Are you still on about that pureblood nonsense?" Harry sighed. "Just give it up already, by this point pretty much everyone knows you don't really give a fuck about that."
"Insolent boy!" Voldemort spat. "Maybe this will teach you some respect. Crucio!"
A female scream of agony was heard through the mirror. Harry held back a wince. Molly Weasley was even more unpleasant to the ear when she was being tortured.
"MUM!" Ginny screamed and tried to dive for the mirror, as if that would somehow help. Luna and Dora grabbed her before she got far.
"How is that supposed to teach me anything?" Harry asked in a deadpan. "Have you been drinking snake oil again?"
Voldemort abruptly seemed to come down from his fiery enraged state and entered a more chilly enraged state. "Come to Glastonbury Tor, alone, if you ever want to see the blood traitors again." He hissed softly and cut the connection.
Harry put down the mirror and considered that brief conversation. Voldemort had seemed considerably more unhinged than normal. The light of madness in his eyes was stronger and there had also been a an odd sense of disconnect, as if the noseless one was only hearing him, but not really listening.
"Why Glastonbury Tor?" Dora asked with a frown.
"The same reason as always." Harry groused. "Because he's a fucking drama queen and some random patch of grass just wouldn't do."
"You are not going alone, obviously." Fleur stated rather than asked.
"Obviously." He agreed.
"But he said he'll kill them if you bring anyone with you." Ginny piped up frantically.
Harry barely refrained from giving her the contemptous look that statement deserved. "He's intending to kill them no matter what and walking to my death like a chump isn't going to change that."
"Not good." David shook his head grimly after they explained what was up. "In a normal hostage situation, the other guy always wants something. All Riddle wants is to hurt you and if he can't do it directly then he'll try to do it by proxy. There's not much chance of them getting out of this alive."
"Yeah, I figured." Harry sighed.
"There has to be something we can do." Dora said unhappily, Luna frowning at her elbow.
"Maybe if you convince him that you really don't care about what happens to them and that it isn't worth killing them, but don't get your hopes up. Nothing you've told me about this guy says that he's likely to let people live when he can kill them instead." David shook his head again, not looking any happier than them.
Glastonbury Tor was a cone-shaped hill with a tower built on top of it that had some connection to Arthurian legend, which was probably why Voldemort had picked this spot.
Harry approved of the tower, even if it was a bit underwhelming. Towers were cool and there weren't enough of them in the world.
This particular tower, underwhelmingly named St. Michael's Tower, currently had six redheads tied up in the middle of it.
Harry dismissed the raven that had informed him of this and started walking up the concrete path to the small hill's summit at a leisurely pace. In his mind, he was already picking out the best way to tell Ginny that most of her family was now dead. Should he be as blunt as a hammer or attempt feigning compassion?
It wasn't that he wouldn't try to save them, but like David said, the odds were not good. There were Anti-Apparition and Anti-Portkey wards in place over the hill and those were probably not the only spells that had been used to prevent an easy rescue. Magic could make things so very complicated if you had a little preparation.
Harry had been careful to prevent this situation from happening with good reason and was actually quite angry with Ginny for cooking it up for him anyway. Did nobody except him think about the consequences of their actions? If this ended in grief as he expected it to, then the little twit deserved it.
And yes, Harry was aware of how hypocritical it was of him to be scowling at people for not thinking of the consequences when his body was littered with the scars of thoughtless action.
It didn't take long to reach the small tower and he got his first look at the captured Weasleys. They were shackled to the floor with transfigured chains and forced into an obviously uncomfortable kneeling position, looking rather worse for the wear. Fred, or possibly Geroge, was even missing an arm. Their eyes lit up with hope at the sight of him, although they still seemed terrified.
"Good day." Harry said cordially, stopping just outside the tower.
"I'm af-f-raid it really h-h-hasn't been, H-Harry old chap." George, or possibly Fred, the one who still had both arms ar any rate, said with badly strained and obviously forced humor. His speech was interrupted by muscle spasms characteristic of prolonged Cruciatus exposure and his voice was hoarse.
"I can see that." Harry nodded. "But I can at least assure you with reasonable certainty that the worst is behind you."
"Oh, but I don't think it is, Harry Potter." A new voice interjected, hissing and malicious.
Voldemort let the Disillusionment Charm fade and stood behind the bound Weasleys, wand in hand and staring at Harry with intent malevolence.
"Why would you not think so?" Harry asked without missing a beat, feigning puzzlement. "They'll either die here or be free. Both option are better than being your 'guests'."
"Don't try to pretend you don't care what happens to them!" The Dark Lord seethed. "You were quick enough to move the families of your other sluts out of my reach,"
"You need to stop getting your information from rumors." Harry stated flatly. "I'm not fucking Ginny Weasley. Nothing about her interests me, not her looks and not her spirit."
"Then why are you here?" Voldemort asked smugly, as if he'd just scored some great victory.
"Because the women I do care about would be disappointed in me if I just shrugged and told you to kill them."
Harry noticed that Voldemort was getting more and more agitated beneath his relatively calm exterior. His aura, on previous ocasions a contained maelstrom of volatile emotions, was now far more chaotic. The fear was more prevalent, the hatred stronger and both were bleeding heavily into the river of calm that denoted pure reasoning. The Dark Lord had always been psychotic and prone to outbursts of sadism, but now he seemed truly insane. The impression that he wasn't really listening was also present again.
"And here you are, alone." Air hissed through Voldemort's nose slits as he gloated, his face stretched into a mad grin. "Come to die. Reveal yourselves, my Death Eaters."
The dozen or so Death Eaters that had been hiding under their own Disillusionment Charms shimmered into visibility, surrounding them.
Harry briefly closed his eyes, calling up the wolf spirit he had mastered what felt like a lifetime ago. He had received a renewed bout of interest in Skinwalking after the 'lesson' with Adrastia. The skill had never been terribly useful in battle for several reasons, chief among them being the unhealthy instinct to always close into melee range and attack with claws or fangs.
But after getting a feel for Adrastia's manipulation of instinct and some time spent experimenting in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, he had learned how to keep the wolf from supplanting the man.
He felt the change come. His teeth sharpened ever so slighty, his muscles rippled under his skin and his fingernails blackened so much that they looked rather embarrasingly goth at first glance in their dark sharpness, until one noticed that they were too thick to be fingernails. The most prominent change were his eyes, however, which now glowed a fierce yellow.
"Was that supposed to be a surprise?" Harry mocked, opening his eyes and baring his teeth aggressively. "Girls, come on out."
Fleur, Luna and Dora came out of their own invisibility, hovering in the air around them outside of Voldemort's sensing range, surrounding the encirclement of Death Eaters in turn.
Voldemort looked slightly taken aback by the change, but rallied quickly. He didn't ask what was going on, either not caring or knowing that he wouldn't get an answer. He focused on something else instead. "You were told to come alone!"
"And you thought I was going to listen?"
"You have just signed these blood traitors' death warrant!"
"Better them than me." Harry shrugged, ignoring the Weasleys' horrified looks.
Voldemort sneered, and Harry's now enhanced vision detected the subtle movements that indicated impending violence even as his Magesight picked up the rising power of a forming spell. A wolf might see a more narrow band of the visible light spectrum than a human, but it was highly optimised towards detecting motion, as befit a predator. A very useful thing in a fight, as was the superior reaction speed that resulted from it.
The Dark Lord threw out a vicious curse and Harry sidestepped it, but couldn't retaliate. Although he wouldn't be terribly broken up about the Weasleys dying even though he did like the twins, he also wasn't willing to carve through them to get at Voldemort.
By the sick glee on his face, Voldemort had been counting on just that, and he continued hurling curses with abandon, safe behind his human shield.
The girls were in a similar bind. Although they had the superior mobility and power, they couldn't fight back too vigorously for fear of harming him or causing too much damage to the hill itself and destabilising the tower.
And the Death Eaters were unusually competent this time around. Not significantly more powerful in any meaningful fashion, but they were working together in distinct units and the spells they were tossing out were no joke. Their auras were also a good deal more twisted than Harry recalled.
Bringing hostages into battle was a new tactic for Voldemort and his minions, but honestly not a surprising one. That being said, it was definitely a problematic one.
Harry was also noticing that Voldemort wasn't using any spells that could be 'bounced' off a shield or parried with his staff. All of his curses had to be either countered, avoided or absorbed, giving him nothing that he could use to redirect at the Death Eaters. And he couldn't take a moment to cast his own spells at the Death Eaters either, as Voldemort was too dangerous an opponent to be ignored for even a moment.
The situation was untenable, so Harry leapt backwards and flew out of effective combat range, the girls following his example soon after. The exchange of spells had lasted less than ten seconds. The four of them now hovered some distance away while the Death Eaters and their master stayed near the tower and their hostages.
"'Lord' Voldemort certainly has fallen low, hiding behind weaklings." Harry mocked, hoping to goad him into doing something dumb to defend his pride.
"And why not? You hide behind your women!" Voldemort glared back. A jumbled mass of emotions radiated from his red eyes, fear, hate and triumph most prominent among them.
Harry narrowed stared back unblinkingly and grasped for a tactic that would remove the captive Weasleys from the battlefield.
The Raven Host and the Aurors were nearby, but bringing more force to bear on the situation wasn't going to help this time.
He had personally found Voldemort's speed advantage to be a little less pronounced this time, but once again, not helpful with the noseless wonder using meat shields.
Realistically the only way to save the Weasleys would be to provoke Voldemort into abandoning his advantage, but that didn't seem to be working.
More ruthless solutions included collapsing the tower and writing the Weasleys off as collateral damage, or simply retreating and abandoning them to their fate. Of the two, burying them under rubble was the less cruel option.
Fucking hell, they couldn't even trap Voldemort and the Death Eaters here. The area was too open to hide a bunch of people putting up a second set of blocking wards over the first and they no doubt had portkeys attuned to their own wards to take them away if things got dicey.
In the privacy of his own mind, Harry once again cursed at Ginny Weasley for not predicting this situation.
"What are we going to do?" Dora asked quietly, no doubt coming to a similar set of conclusions.
"It seems that the great Harry Potter is not interested in saving you." Voldemort's mocking voice sounded before Harry could answer. Although he was ostensibly talking to the Weasleys, the words were obviously not meant for them. "Crucio!"
Harry couldn't tell which one of them was screaming this time, just that it was one of the men.
"Blind them!" He ordered quickly, not wanting any precipitous action on Dora's part.
The girls used their staves to suck in the surrounding sunlight, causing a strange distortion effect around the solar focusing crystals even as they started to glow.
Once they were done, they released the gathered power in a wide beam, not unlike a very powerful searchlight.
The Death Eaters cried out in shock and were forced to close their eyes or have their retinas burned out. The started casting shield charms blindly, expecting further attack.
Voldemort was the only one spared the attack, busy as he was torturing the Weasleys inside St. Michael's Tower, but Harry had a plan for him too. Instead of going after the Death Eaters, he cast a powerful disintegration curse at the tower itself, causing it to rapidly turn to dust.
The Dark Lord responded quickly, casting a transparet shield that blocked out the glare of redirected sunlight.
"Mudslides!" Harry commanded next.
He and Fleur cast a spell to churn up the ground, while Dora and Luna made a high-rise fly-by and conjured a torrent of water over the heads of the enemy.
The tactic would have made every bit of ground except the stone foundations of the tower unsteady and perhaps even carried off some Death Eaters on a ride downhill, had it worked.
Unfortunately the spell to churn up the ground was very easy to block and didn't achieve as much as they might have hoped. The conjured water didn't even achieve that much, as Voldemort used a wide area counterspell to cancel out the conjuration before it could hit the earth.
Harry bared his teeth down at the hill in frustration as Luna and Dora returned. The four of them were mostly safe from return fire at this distance unless they started daydreaming, but the situation still hadn't markedly improved. The Death Eaters were sitting ducks, that was true, but actually shooting them would mean potentially killing the Weasleys as well even without the danger of the tower collapsing on them.
"Stop! One more spell and a blood traitor dies!" Voldemort shouted, pointing his wand at Arthur Weasley's head.
And then there was that, of course.
"And then what, Tom?" Harry asked back. "What is the actual fucking point of this confrontation anyway? We're not going to let ourselves get killed and I'm not going to trade you back any of your captured minions in return for that bunch of gingers, so what the fuck are we even doing here?"
"The point is for you to SUFFER!" Voldemort roared out in a fury. The crazy in his eyes shone bright.
"Yeah, nice going. You ruined my weekend. The pain is real." Harry retorted in a sarcastic deadpan.
Arthur Weasley's head exploded in a shower of gore as Voldemort's silent, rage-powered curse obliterated it.
There was a moment of shock as everyone processed what had just happened. Harry thought that even Voldemort looked a bit surprised at what he'd done. Then things spiralled out of control.
"ARTHUR!" The newly widowed Molly Weasley wailed in grief.
The twins were too stunned to react, but the other two Weasley boys had always been more mouth than brain.
"Potter, you evil bastard!" Ron shouted, pulling on his restraints.
Had he more time, Harry would have perhaps taken the effort to lecture the idiot on the finer points of placing blame where it belongs and the power dynamics of a hostage situation. Or perhaps not, the youngest Weasley boy had always been as thick as a sack of hammers by all accounts. It was unlikely that he'd listen on a good day, which this was not.
Percy was shouting threats of Ministry retribution. Grief had clrealy driven him to delusion.
Meanwhile, Fleur and Dora gathered sunlight into their staves again, this time unleashing it on the Death Eaters in tightly focused beams that did more than just blind.
The black-robed wizards scattered like mice and mostly managed to avoid the deadly attack, but one lost a leg and another was cut into two burning halves.
Luna cast a transfiguration to enclose the surviving Weasleys in a stone dome, but Voldemort wasn't having it. He rose into the air and fired a powerful blasting curse directly at them.
Harry took the opportunity to nail the Dark Lord with a bolt of lightning.
Voldemort screamed in pain as his smoking body was sent flying out of the air, but he disappeared in a portkey transportation before he hit the ground. The Death Eaters went with him. Well, most of them at any rate. The two that Fleur and Dora had hit left some pieces behind.
Despite this being his first solid hit on the mad fucker, none of them were feeling in a celebratory mood with Weasley chunks scattered over half the damn hill.
What a mess. Harry thought sourly as the Aurors closed in, already demanding explanations.
The worst part for him was that this entire incident had been completely and utterly pointless. Voldemort had abducted and now killed the Weasleys out of pure spite more than any hope that it would actually achieve anything. Negotiation had been impossible from the start, leaving only convincing him that he didn't care what happened to them one way or the other as an option for saving them.
And now he got to tell an over-emotional girl that six of her family members were dead. Joy.
Narcissa had let Bill and Charlie join their sister on Spellhaven while the battle was going on so that Ginny would have her older brothers to rely on for support.
Informing the three of what had happened didn't go well, as expected. While Bill and Charlie were hit hard by the news, they had nothing on Ginny's reaction.
The redhead sobbed and wailed hysterically, then she started angrily blaming Harry for failing to save them, then she went back to crying in Bill's arms.
Harry managed to restrain the urge to snap at her.
Bill and Charlie eventually led her away, quietly telling Harry and the girls that they didn't blame them for failing to save their parents and siblings.
Harry was just glad that he wouldn't have a hysterical girl in anywhere near his life. Sensitivity was not his strong suit, especially when there was no sex involved.
The aftermath of the latest battle against Voldemort was significantly easier to deal with than the ones before. Glastonbury Tor has been cleaned of blood and battle damage easily enough, but the tower was a lost cause, much to the baffked horror of England's historians and culture preservation people.
Ownership of the twins' joke shop had defaulted to him instead of the surviving Weasleys due to the weird ways that corporate laws were structured in Magical Britain. No doubt another mechanic to keep wealth in the hands of the wealthy. In any case, Harry didn't need any prodding to make an offer to Bill Weasley about selling the business and giving him all the profits, seeing as he had no interest in actually running a joke shop. It had been quite successful with Fred and George at the helm, but entirely useless for someone with little interest in pranking and he didn't need the extra money anyway, so being generous came easy for a change.
That was really all the aftermath there was and things settled back down in less than a week.
Harry continued to scour Europe for Death Eaters. He employed the Palantíri, his ravens, local news sources and Adrastia's own forming network. There wasn't terribly much luck, but he did manage to pick up a few.
The most annoying bit was when another mysterious hint made its way into his hands, this time through a completely harmless letter written in a combination of regular and vanishing ink. Most of the words disappeared while Penny was reading it, leaving behind only a location.
Harry didn't appreciate the unsubtle reminder of vampire interest. He still didn't really want to deal with Bjomolf and decided to once again put off doing so.
Voldemort's aftermath was substantially more painful, both for him and his minions.
The lighting bolt he'd been hit with had hurt and left him with lichtenberg scars all over his left flank, but done no permanent damage. He was back in top form within three days and more pissed off than ever. He'd not only failed to do any harm to his enemy, but he'd also been marked.
And he couldn't even get rid of the scarring! He was a very good potioneer, but healing potions never came out right for him. It had never been an issue since that was what he had Snape for, but Snape was gone now.
The following weeks, his temper soured further as several more of his supposedly undercover Death Eaters vanished. His plans of revenge got increasingly more extreme as his anger grew and restraint evaporated.
Still, Voldemort had learned something from that fight nonetheless and his eyes often gleamed with ancitipatory malice while he was torturing/teaching his most competent minions for the new plan he had concocted.
December 31st, 2018.
"He's doing WHAT?" Harry roared at the mirror in disbelief.
The barely restrained panic on Amelia Bones' face had nothing to do with his shouting. "He's attacking muggle London with giants and inferi. We need you there NOW!"
The connection cut off and Harry just stood there for a long, utterly baffled moment. What the shit was Voldemort thinking?! Mounting what sounded like a full scale assault on the non-magical parts of London? On New Years Eve of all days? Seriously, what the actual fuck?
I was originally intending to include the battle as well, but this chapter is already quite a bit bigger than originally intended, so my original intentions have been put on the backburner. Again. This does create a bit of a cliffhanger, but I'm sure you guys don't mind.