Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to Harry Potter. If I did I would be a far richer man. And I'd be a woman. I also don't own Bathsheda Babbling. However with what Shiva has morphed into I probably own her.
Reviews are of course appreciated but certainly not required.
AN: This is the second half of the allies and enemies chapter. It picks up pretty much immediately after the ending of the previous one. Most of the pieces are ready with just a few loose ends to tie up prior to starting the final fight.
AN: I have it mentioned here that Daphne is 16; this is intentional. Both Daphne and Hermione are a bit older than Harry in keeping with the long ago joke about him having a preference for older women. Daphne is younger than Hermione though.
AN: There is a mature scene in this chapter. It will be properly marked off if you wish to skip it. It's about as detailed as the Shiva/Lily scene from a few chapters back.
Chapter 45: Avengers Assemble! Masters of Evil Unite! Part 2
Fresh off his success with the werewolves Harry left Remus at the manor and groaned internally as he saw the time. "Damn. This is getting to be a long day."
"Long, but rewarding from what Remus was saying, 'arry," Fleur said sliding in behind him and snaking her arms around to hug his back into her chest. "You secured ze werewolves?"
"As much as we can I think," Harry said nodding and leaning back into her. "You coming to this next one, ma rose blanche?"
"Ma rose blanche?" Fleur asked, the smile visible in her tone.
Harry shrugged and nodded. "I, uh, asked Gabi how to translate it best. You're the only one in the group without a nickname and your hair is silvery and…it seemed nice."
"It is beautiful, 'arry," Fleur said kissing his cheek. She sighed and pulled back. "Oui, I am going wiz you. We should really be on our way, mon amour. Amelia will meet us at ze office and I have ze portkey."
Harry nodded and turned around smiling. "Right. Last meeting for today." Fleur held out her hand with a silver gauntlet clutched in it. Harry raised his eyebrows at her choice of portkey.
"It seemed appropriate," she said shrugging.
Harry laughed and touched the piece of armor. Fleur tapped it and Harry felt the familiar tug around his waist. As they roared through the space between origin and destination Harry scowled at his continued inability to figure out why magical travel hated him and how he was going to fix portkeys to make sure he had at least one method where he didn't land on his arse.
All too soon, the portkey ride ended and Harry fell forward onto his knees. Grumbling out his frustrations he let Fleur help him to his feet as she chuckled. "Yeah, yeah, we'll see who's laughing when I come up with a runic stargate."
"I look forward to zat day, 'arry," Fleur said grinning.
"As do I, Mr. Potter," an amused baritone rang out from behind them. "Having to schedule an international portkey just to see my daughter will get old quickly I am sure."
"Papa!" Fleur shouted quickly moving to embrace Sébastien with a glowing smile. "Has Minister Bones arrived yet?"
"I have," Amelia said nodding hello to the others as she stepped into the receiving room. "And, M. Delacour, depending on how well these talks go I imagine it wouldn't be much of an issue to have a permanent two-way portkey set up between Potter Manor and yours."
Sébastien laughed and shook his head. "Somehow I don't see that being an issue no matter what the results of this conversation. Considering my future son-in-law is 'arry Potter. When this young man can't get away with ignoring the rules he simply forces new ones that suit him!"
Harry winced. "You're making me sound like a Malfoy…"
"No, that fool bribes his way to what he wants. You have a silver tongue and allies, young man. The difference is subtle, but extremely important. Now, shall we move into the Minister's office and start zis talk?"
Amelia nodded and bowed her head. "Lead the way, Monsieur." Harry and Fleur followed along behind the two through the reception area of the French Minister for Magic. Harry took a deep breath seeing the foreign Minister smiling at them all and everyone took their seats.
"Minister Bones, it is a pleasure to meet you in person; the same to you, Mr. Potter and Mlle. Delacour. I am M. Louis Durant, Minister for Magic in France," the man said. "Now, shall we begin?"
"Certainly," Amelia said. "The British Ministry formally requests the assistance of France in quelling our…problem with Tom Riddle, aka Lord Voldemort."
Durant nodded and leaned forward clasping his hands on the desk. "I admit to being surprised when I received notice of this meeting. Your predecessor was rather hostile to my country. As are many of your own citizens."
Amelia sighed and nodded. "Fudge was an idiot through and through. Worse, he was a corrupt idiot in the pocket of a terrorist. I have many issues that I'm trying to sort through from his era. The British people may be annoyed that I am bringing in outside help, but I will do what I have to in order to protect them. If they don't like it they can feel free to kick me out when the elections roll around again."
Durant started laughing and shaking his head. "Oh I like you. Would you be willing to send Aurors to assist us in rooting out remaining bands of WSS soldiers after Voldemort has been eliminated?"
"Certainly. I can't guarantee a specific number as we are currently undermanned as it is and I will need to rebuild our forces somewhat, but I see no issue with repaying your assistance with our own," Amelia replied.
"Excellent." Durant turned to regard Harry and Fleur for a moment before he continued. "And, Mr. Potter, I understand that you are beginning to manufacture items termed, Armor Robes through Potter Runes in conjunction with a…" he paused while searching for a paper. "Ah! Here it is, in conjunction with Weasley Wizarding Wheezes. Are you willing to supply the French Ministry with a contract for these items in addition to the British contract already in existence?"
"Of course, Monsieur. I have no issues at all with that. I'm not attempting to ensure my friends have the best items, I'm mostly just trying to ensure that my more dangerous inventions don't fall into the wrong hands," Harry said. "I actually have a set of order forms with me. These include all of the rune stones that I feel comfortable distributing." Harry handed a set of forms to the Minister who took a moment to look them over nodding agreeably.
"This Tracekey is the modified portkey capable of tracking others, correct?" An answering nod set the Minister's grin firmly back in place. "I would agree to this alliance solely for access to that honestly. The patents are in place, Minister Bones?"
"They are," Amelia said.
"Excellent. One final piece of business then before we sign anything." Everyone leaned in to see what else Durant was looking for. His grin spread from ear to ear as he wiggled his eyebrows at the two youngest members of the meeting. "Will the Consort Bonding Ceremony be in France and if not can I expect an invitation anyway?"
Harry's face blazed red while Fleur and her father started laughing hysterically. Amelia just shook her head rolling her eyes. "You'll get an invite, Sir," Harry finally managed to mumble. "Details on location won't be available for a while. At least two years."
While Amelia immediately left for her return to Britain Harry was persuaded to take a walk around the Delacour manor before returning home. Once they apparated in Harry was nearly bowled over by a silvery-blonde missile leaping into his chest. " 'Arry! You visited!"
Harry gaped down at the girl in his arms momentarily at a loss for words. Fleur laughing behind him and Sébastien's chuckle jolted him out of his shock slightly. "Uh, hi Gabi. You, uh, wow, you got a lot um…taller."
"Oui! I finally hit ze…ze…Fleur what is ze word in English?"
"Change," Fleur said.
Gabi nodded and pulled back from Harry doing a small twirl. Gone was the cute 9 year old child; in front of Harry was a teenager nearly as tall as he was with hair cascading down her back and breasts almost rivaling Fleur's. "Ze Change! Veela puberty iz um…it iz um…darn it I should know zis word!"
"Weird, odd, unusual, strange, annoying?" Fleur said shrugged. "All are appropriate. You can visit wiz him later, Gabi. For now I want to show my partner ze Manor."
"You mean you want to show him your room," Gabrielle retorted with a quirk to her lips. Harry blushed as Fleur nodded emphatically.
"Oui. My man was quite attractive a few minutes ago and I wish to show him I approve." Fleur moved forward and grabbed him arm pulling him gently into step with her. "Besides, I still need to show him my gratitude for ze foresight he showed with obtaining a gift for you."
Gabrielle bounced from foot to foot. "Gift for me? What? When? Where is it? Can I see?! Iz it a secret?"
"Uh," Harry mumbled trying to placate his likely future sister-in-law's curiosity despite Fleur picking up her pace and dragging him away faster. "It's just a suit of armor. I'll have Dobby send someone to collect your measurements since you seem to have finished puberty already! Bye, Gabi!"
MATURE SCENE BELOW
"Zat girl has far too much energy for a fourteen year old," Fleur said, shaking her head in amusement. Harry fought to hold back his laughter at that. "I need to find her a man before she sets her sights on you. Zere are already more zan enough and I don't want to have to fight my sister off wiz a stick."
Harry lost his inner battle and shook his head at Fleur. "Somehow I feel like that would devolve into fireballs incinerating clothing and singing hair rather quickly."
"Our fights were worthy of ze legends," she agreed nodding sagely. "Zis is ze West Wing by ze way. My room is on ze zird floor."
"Er, Fleur, are we going to slow down a bit so that I can actually see the house?" Harry asked raising an eyebrow.
Fleur looked at him with a dubious tilt of her head before continuing her forward movement. "Do you want to see ze house or do you want to snog me?"
Harry tried to come up with an answer that would be considered appropriate and, failing utterly, resolved to simply shake his head. "Lead on then, fair lady."
"Good answer," Fleur said.
"Oh good, I was worried it wasn't enthusiastic enough," Harry said chuckling softly.
Fleur laughed as she crested the landing and opened the door to her room. "You are nervous, no?"
Harry grimaced and nodded slightly as he stepped past her. "A bit. I know it's stupid. It's not like we haven't slept together before."
Fleur pushed her door closed, cast several locking and silencing charms at it as well as a quick contraceptive one on herself – the potion was supposed to be foolproof, but they all agreed it was better to be safe than sorry. With her spells cast, Fleur left her wand on the table and walked forward to stand in front of Harry. She draped her arms over his shoulders and pushed forward gently until he was back against the wall. She leaned down to lightly peck his lips before pulling back and smiling. "Relax, 'arry. Just because zis is ze first time I am alone wiz you does not mean zat I will act differently or zat you need to be worried."
Harry shrugged and stretched his neck up enough so he could deepen the kiss she had teased. After they were both panting slightly he smiled at her. "I'm more worried about not being enough for you on my own, ma rose blanche."
Fleur's answer was simply an enchanting laugh as she moved her head to the side of his neck. "Somehow, I doubt zat will be an issue, mon amour." She took his ear in between her teeth and nibbled on the lobe gently eliciting a low murmur of approval from her partner. " 'arry, if you want me to stop at any time, tell me, oui? You know I can be…a tad aggressive at times."
Harry could barely form the words of acknowledgement as Fleur kissed his neck and popped the buttons on his shirt. "Will do."
Fleur purred in satisfaction, her arms reaching up over her head to force the shirt completely down his arms. Harry shifted enough to let it drop to the floor. He tried to grab Fleur's chin, to bring her back up to kiss her again but she had already dropped further down his body. The Veela was trailing light kisses across his stomach as her hands wandered lower and started to tug on his belt. It didn't take long, soon she had gotten the offending item off of him and was quickly pulling open his trousers.
Harry blushed slightly as Fleur, wasting no time, took his rapidly hardening member into her mouth, though the light groan that soon escaped his lips was more than enough encouragement for her to continue. Threading his fingers through her hair Fleur started to hum some tune she liked to use when they were together like this. It was enough to bring his lower body to attention in moments and Fleur bobbed her head rapidly for a few more strokes, even taking him into her throat just once, before she pulled back. Harry fell out of her mouth with a light pop, and Fleur paused looking up at him with a smile on her lips and a coy look flitting across her features, before giving him a wink.
" 'arry, now zat you are suitably...focused, would you like to try somezing a bit new?" she asked in a sultry tone her hand still working him despite her mouth's absence.
"New?" Harry asked a bit dazedly, trying his best to swallow the urge to simply grab her, throw her onto the bed, and have his way with her like some sort of caveman.
"Would you please take me against ze wall zis time?" Fleur asked innocently trailing a finger along his length and tracing a circle around his lower head, a pouting expression gracing her lips. "I have not mentioned it before as it tends to leave ze ozers out, but I hear it can be quite...pleasurable."
Harry shuddered in anticipation as Fleur stood slowly, luxuriously, and stepped in, pressing her body flush against him and trapping his penis between them. She rubbed up and down slowly while he struggled to concentrate on her question from a moment ago. "Wall it is," he rasped between suddenly dry lips.
"Excellent," Fleur purred briefly toying with his sack before letting go. She grabbed his arms and with one smooth motion switched their positions. Fleur was now the one being pushed back into her bedroom wall, while Harry was draped against her.
She smiled slyly at him before she leaned in and captured his lips again while proceeding to rub against him harder, obviously enjoying the sensation produced in her nipples as they roughly rubbed against his chest through the fabric. Harry groaned into her throat and quickly shimmied his hips back enough that he could carefully reach down under Fleur's skirt to grasp her panties. He smirked in satisfaction finding them already dripping, Harry shoved the fabric partway down. Fleur, tried in vain to kick it entirely loose but failed to free one of her legs before succumbing to lust and pushing back against the wall pulling him back flush against her. "No more teasing, 'arry," she mumbled thickly into his mouth.
"You really need to play with Daph more. She teases a little first," Harry said smiling.
Fleur laughed and shook her head at him. "So naïve. Daphne does not tease, 'arry. Daphne controls. Zere is a difference. Now stop talking and get busy!"
Harry needed no further encouragement. Grabbing Fleur's hips he lifted her up and leaned forward gently sandwiching her between him and the wall. Fleur pushed against his shoulders, and rolled her hips just enough that when he thrust his own hips forward he slipped right into her without issue. "Never understood how you know just the right angle," he moaned into her neck fighting to stay standing at the sensations rippling through his body. It was like being gripped in a warm, wet, velvet vice.
"I am just zat good," she breathed into his ear, as he stretched her pleasantly. A shudder of pleasure ran through her and Harry felt her legs wrap around his waist and a clatter sounded as her shoes fell to the floor behind him. A moment later, her bare heels dug into his backside pulling him into her even further, his tip brushing her cervix. "Hard, 'arry. Make me feel it," she moaned piteously.
Harry bit down on her collarbone as Fleur loosened the hold her legs had on him enough for him to pull back and thrust forward. A groan of pleasure sounded from both of them as Fleur was pushed up the wall with a small amount of force. Harry pulled back again letting her slip back down and rammed forward before she had a chance to drop too much, a dull wet slap heralding their joining. She gasped and tightened her arms around his neck, fingers digging into his shoulders painfully. He was sure there'd be a mark there come morning. "Yes!" she hissed between her teeth. "I…told you zis was…an excellent position!"
Harry lifted his head enough to grind his lips against hers in answer. She responded eagerly, her tongue threading into his mouth. Harry quickly found a rhythm to his thrusts that worked perfectly for them both, and he felt a bit of her dampness running in small rivulets down his length. Fleur soon started to pant into his mouth, occasionally nipping at his lower lip, and Harry felt her limbs start tightening their hold around him. He pulled back from her mouth and tried to focus on the bouncing of her breasts against his chest to keep his own excitement from boiling over. In retrospect that didn't help much, and it was rapidly becoming a losing battle.
Harry could feel the tingling building inside his groin and he squeezed Fleur's arse harder in his hands. "Fleur, I can't hold out much longer," he growled.
"Zen don't, 'arry," she panted. "You can finish inside moi; just don't stop!" she encouraged as they continued to meet with damp slapping sounds which were slowly driving her wild.
He grunted his acknowledgement and kept up the energetic pace. Fleur's fingers now clutched his hair and he felt her legs start to shiver against his back. With a muffled cry Harry thrust forward one final time burying himself inside her as deep as possible feeling her button press against his groin and his tip bump against her cervix once again. His release hit at nearly the same time as Fleur's. The feeling of him flooding her body with warmth seemed to be enough to send her over the edge. A shudder ran through her body as her legs pulled back hard pushing him against her even tighter than before. Fleur's moan joined Harry's own and one hand left his hair to gently caress his cheek in desperation, her walls spasming around his shaft repeatedly.
It took a full minute for her to finish her first orgasm of the night. They remained that way with him still sheathed inside her, silently pressing her against the wall as she came down from her peak. Finally parting, he let her down onto her feet and they shared a rueful glance at each other as she paused to catch her breath. She smiled at him as he once again turned his eyes on her. Fleur smiled wickedly, kicking aside the undergarments which had until then still clung on stubbornly to her leg. The panties hadn't even hit the floor before she was reaching down and pulling her dress over her head to stand gloriously bare before him. Shifting close, Fleur draped herself over her momentarily stunned partner so that her mouth was against his ear and Harry could feel the soft breath escaping her lips. "Round one."
MATURE SCENE ENDS
Harry looked up at the bones of the basilisk in his entrance hall and sighed. "As much as I love having you up and moving it's probably best to stay asleep for this next thing. I'll animate you again when they leave." He tapped the stone on the crown of the skull that stilled the charms and runes on the skeleton and the gentle undulations ceased. Harry turned to see Shiva smiling at him.
"Probably for the best kid. We don't really need to intimidate the Australians."
He shrugged and answered with a small grin of his own. "Probably wouldn't work anyway. Their continent is supposed to be so deadly even the grass can kill you."
Shiva laughed. "Likely a bit of an overestimation there, Harry." A knock sounded at their door and she moved to open it. "Welcome, come on it."
Harry shook the hands of the two men who entered and led the way to the sitting room. Both were dressed in nice business suits with one of the wizards having a faint runic design embedded in his tie. Harry chuckled as he noticed a scheme on a bit of stone that would allow him to keep the tie straight and ever-knotted. "Interesting way to put the tie on, Sir."
The man with the tie shook his head and shrugged with an easy grin. "My wife complained that I could never tie it correctly so I got creative and switched one of the designs from decorative to functional. Most people don't notice."
"Most people don't send their corrective notes to you either, Kevin," the other man said winking at Harry. "Now, I believe introductions are in order. I am Douglas Greer and this is Kevin Lyght. I'm the official Australian wizarding ambassador to Magical Britain. Mr. Potter, I believe you already know the CEO of Outback Training Alternative."
Harry had to suppress his eye roll. "We haven't met personally, but yes, I believe I've sent you a few letters, Mr. Lyght."
"Yes, indeed," Kevin agreed. "They caused quite a stir among my staff. Are we waiting for anyone else or can I ask the most important question right now?"
Shiva shook her head. "Minister Bones was supposed to attend, but she was called away at the last moment over a developing issue with the giants. I've been authorized to act as her official representative for the duration of this meeting."
"Well then, in that case, Kevin, go ahead!" Douglas said slapping the other man on the back.
Grimacing Kevin nodded. "Mr. Potter, Ms. Babbling, do I need to worry about being forced to dissolve my company under whatever terms we are about to discuss? I know we have had some product issues in the past that you've helped to point out and correct, but I want you to know we've taken quite a round turn on the safety aspects of everything produced through Outback Training Alternative."
Harry stared at the man in surprise. "Wow, I must really be doing good if you think that Potter Runes can buy you out already…"
"Actually my marketing section says you hold nearly 30 percent of the contracts for the European nations, the United States and Canada along with 80 percent of the United Kingdom. Australia is lagging only slightly behind Europe with nearly 25 percent of our prior customer base flocking to your equipment instead," Kevin said shifting uncomfortably with his face blushing red a bit. "I'm not sure whether to congratulate you or curse you."
Shiva whistled. "Goddess, kid. You didn't tell me you were doing so well."
Harry blushed crimson and leaned back into his seat blinking rapidly. "Honestly I didn't know. I've let Fred and George deal with the majority of the order forms since they're also the ones doing the actual manufacturing of the rune stones…They sent me a few receipts and statements, but we've been so busy with Voldemort and the Soul Cage that I just…never really got around to checking the details beyond the bottom line…"
Douglas laughed and slapped his knee. "Well I for one shudder to think how your sales will improve when you can devote your full attention to it!"
Harry just nodded. "Yeah…Anyway, no, Mr. Lyght, you don't have to worry about a hostile takeover. I'm not really interested in muscling in on your primary market yet. Instead I intended to offer a formal partnership actually. We'd share some profits in several areas with R&D on new designs being floated between both personnel. I'm also offering to double check your rune schemes to ensure that no potential safety concerns were overlooked as I would like some of your personnel to do with a few of mine. Between Ms. Babbling and myself we tend to catch most things, but I know there are some mistakes I've made in the past that an outside eye would've seen."
Kevin smiled and shook his head up and down rather emphatically. "Excellent! We are certainly open to such an arrangement. I'll have my law department draft a…oh you already have one."
"My betrothed is rather good at these things. Two of them actually," Harry said smirking as he handed over another copy of a form that Daphne and Hermione had drafted. "Feel free to have your personnel check it over. I just ask that you get back to us as soon as possible. We're trying to be ready for an offensive against Voldemort's fanatics in May and your additional manufacturing capabilities would certainly help us achieve that goal."
Douglas frowned at that. "May I ask why so late? That is five months from now after all…"
"Part of it is the preparation issue," Shiva said sighing. "We're trying to create enough of the protection runic equipment for a good deal of Ministry personnel in addition to some for Hogwarts faculty and the students." Harry repressed an amused snort that Snape had actually managed to pass along concrete information about Voldemort's intended target for once.
She grimaced before continuing at a much slower pace. "We're…also still attempting to vet all of the Ministry personnel. There were some breaches in internal security and we need to ascertain that anyone who will be participating in a defensive action or assault on Voldemort will be on our side."
Douglas nodded. "That makes sense. Thankfully, we haven't had terrorist issues for quite some time so we haven't really had to deal with such a problem. Is your government seeking simple verbal support from the Australian Ministry or are you hoping for personnel to assist in the operation as well?"
"We'd really prefer personnel if you can spare them," Shiva said. "Fudge gutted the entire law enforcement branch and attempting to build it back up in short order has created almost as many issues as it's solved. In addition to the partnership with Potter Runes, Britain as a whole is prepared to offer tax incentives and support personnel of our own for a future issue should you require it."
"Not a bad deal for us all as long as our people come home," Douglas said slowly. "I would request that we also relax immigration restrictions – both for Australians attempting to emigrate to Britain and British citizens seeking to make Australia their home."
Shiva nodded. "Minister Bones mentioned that that might come up. We're prepared to accept those stipulations."
"Excellent," Douglas said smiling. "Then I believe we have the makings of a deal. I'll speak with my Minister tonight and ensure that he signs the agreement with yours first thing tomorrow."
"Thank you. We look forward to increasing the bonds between our two countries," Shiva said shaking his hand.
Harry stood with the others and nodded to each. "I'm also looking forward to increasing the economic business between our countries," Harry said winking to Kevin. All four chuckled at the lame attempt at humor. Walking the visitors to the door Harry pushed it closed and leaned his back against it sighing heavily. "Yup, this is Daphne's job as soon the Voldemort thing ends."
"Amen, to that, kid," Shiva breathed out. She ruffled his hair and joined him against the door. "Only one major group left before school starts back up."
"Thank god for that."
Cornelius Fudge scowled as he finished throwing his clothes into the open bag. "Running away like a common thug. I can't believe this is happening to me! It was just a few pieces of gold here and there! Why do these idiots care so much about it?"
Fudge hefted the bag and dragged it into the drawing room grabbing a few of his priceless paintings and shoving them inside. "Bunch of foolhardy fearmongers the lot of them. It's not like He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is actually back! At worst it's some trumped up Dark Wizard stealing his name to play against our fears." A gleam entered Fudge's eyes and he started laughing – the manic edge to the laugh would have been readily apparent to anyone nearby. "It's probably that Pettigrew fellow! Yes, yes that makes perfect sense! He stole You-Know-Who's name and is gathering allies to find Dumbledore and throw me out! That must be it. It's the only thing that makes sense. This was all designed to kick me to the curb and steal my power. Well I won't let them win! I'll be back and I'll show them why I should be the Minister for Magic!"
Fudge nodded at his brilliance hard enough that his bowler hat flopped to the floor. Quickly scooping it up, he grabbed the bag and trumped across the hall to the office. "Now to get my nest egg and – " The bag clattered to his feet as Fudge pushed open the door and caught sight of the figure sitting at his desk. A jet black robe ensured the pale white skin and red eyes stood out even more than they normally would. The noseless visage staring back at him caused Fudge to relieve himself right where he was standing and his mouth fell open in a silent shriek of terror.
"Ah, former Minister Cornelius Fudge," He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named said calmly. The demon tapped the desk idly and frowned. "Such a shame you were removed from office. You were doing such an excellent job of assisting me and my personnel."
Lucius Malfoy pushed Fudge to the side as he strode into the room, nose crinkling at the smell. "My lord, there is nothing in the bedroom. I know he kept at least six thousand galleons here…it must be in this room."
"Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" Fudge finally managed to regain his voice as he saw his longtime friend bowing to the Dark Lord.
"Six thousand should be enough for some of the more impressive mercenary bands; especially when we add in the priceless artifacts on display here," You-Know-Who said nodding. His eyes narrowed and his voice took on a slight hissing quality. "I am glad you were not the only one lining his pockets, Lucius. Such frivolous waste of resources would have greatly displeased me."
Lucius gulped and hurriedly replied, "Yes, my lord. Should I search the room?"
"Let's just ask him first shall we?" The red eyes turned and bored into him. "Cornelius…where is your gold?"
Fudge could only squeak as a wand raised to point between his eyes.
Harry shifted his weight and pulled at his collar with a frown. "Why do I have to wear this again, Viktor?"
The Bulgarian Seeker chortled and slapped Harry on the back. "Ah, my young friend, you meet our Minister! You must look good for this!"
"But why my Seeker uniform?" Harry asked. Behind him Sirius chuckled and snapped a picture. "And will you stop that! I can pose for photos with Viktor after we win this war!"
"Yeah, but those will look staged," Sirius said grinning from ear to ear. "These on the other hand…these are totally going into the scrapbook."
Harry ground his teeth and mumbled unintelligibly about singed dog while Viktor just laughed harder. "To answer question, we wear Seeker uniform to present united front. It shows you are strong and determined and successful. Sleeves rolled up to show off your tattoos further reinforcing image." He paused and shrugged. "Also, Minister is huge fan of Quidditch."
Harry groaned as his two friends smirked at him. A few moments later the doors to the office opened and the trio was beckoned inside. After shaking hands and sitting down the man behind the desk started the meeting off. "Mr. Krum, Lord Potter, Lord Black, velcome to Bulgaria. I am Minister Anton Oblansk. I do hope the portkey wasn't too bad. The international ones can be so very nauseating at times."
Harry nodded. "Thank god I'm not alone. One day I hope to fix that issue."
"I had heard you were vorking on that. You vill certainly have me lined up at the store should something come of it!" Anton said smiling. "Though that is neither here nor there. Lord Black, you are Minister Bones' representative, yes?"
"That's correct," Sirius said leaning forward. Harry was pleased to note that most of the joking nature present in his face and posture just a few moments ago had fled leaving Sirius' expression hard and piercing. "Minister Oblansk, I am sure you're already aware, but we've been gathering allies for the battle against Voldemort. We were hoping we might be able to reach some agreement with your government."
Anton leaned back with his hands clasped. "I am certainly open to speaking vith you. Now that Fudge is gone at least. Vhat has happened to the little schemer by the vay?"
The grin that crossed Sirius' face was all teeth and helped to remind the people in the room that he had been incarcerated in Azkaban for quite some time previously. "From what I hear Fudge had…run into some unhappy constituents."
Anton raised his eyebrows and smirked. "That is vhat you get for pitting teenagers against manticores, chimeras and hydras. Good riddance. Bulgaria is prepared to offer three Auror squadrons in assistance."
"Wow, just like that?" Sirius asked leaning back and blinking quickly. "What's the catch?"
"Ve'd like access to Lord Potter's exclusive rune stone stock, vith similar arrangements that the French received. Ve vould also request that Britain assist us should a similar issue arise in our country."
Harry and Sirius both nodded quickly. "Certainly," Harry said. "Both conditions are easy to meet. I brought some order forms along if you wanted to take them to your Magical Law Enforcement department after the meeting. We might be a bit behind in filling any orders not going to the war effort though so please don't expect everything immediately."
"Of course," Anton said nodding. He leaned forward and smiled flicking his eyes between Harry and Viktor. "Now, one more stipulation before anything is written down." A bead of sweat dripped down Harry's back. This was going to end up embarrassing him yet again. "I vant a personal assurance that, should you ever play a professional or exhibition Quidditch match, I vill receive an invite to vatch. And I vant both your autographs."
Harry leaned back into his seat with a hand over his eyes groaning. Sirius and Viktor just started laughing.
The day prior to returning to Hogwarts, Daphne strode through the main doors to Greengrass Manor. The reverberating gong signaling the master – well mistress now – of the grounds had arrived saw a large smile spreading over her face. Barely 16 and already Head of her family…going after Harry, Neville and Hermione that day so long ago had been the best decision of her life!
"Daph! You're home!" Astoria shouted as she ran up to hug her sister. "Did you sic the goblins of Father? Or was it Harry? Or did Mum do it? Tell me please!"
"Calm down, Tori. Breathe," Daphne said smirked and patting her sister on the head. "It was actually the goblins' idea. Harry and I certainly had no objections to it though, I'll admit."
Astoria nodded. "I see, I see. So you're the Lady Greengrass now?" At Daphne's confirmation Astoria quickly continued. "And you're still keeping the betrothal to Harry?"
"Darn," Astoria mumbled. She heaved a great sigh and shrugged. "Well, at least he'll make a cool big brother. Can I date whoever I want now?"
Daphne laughed and started to walk around her sister to head deeper into the house. "Tori, I don't care who you date. I just draw the line at sadistic murderers. Stay away from those types and you're free to do whatever you want."
Astoria snorted as she moved to keep pace with Daphne. "Please, I'm a Greengrass! They should be afraid of me!" The brunette looked up at Daphne and smirked. "Especially considering who my extended family is."
"So true, Tori, so true." Daphne stopped outside the doors to the family study and squared her shoulders. "Are you coming in as well or do you want me to give you the highlights later?"
Astoria frowned and narrowed her eyes at the door. "Father may have liked me better than you, but that really doesn't mean much…you're not going to kill him are you, Daph?"
"Not unless he tries to kill me," Daphne said shaking her head. "If I had thought he would attempt it, I would've brought backup."
Astoria sighed again. "Then I'll head up to my room. I'll see you in a bit, sis." She padded softly down the corridor and Daphne turned back to the doors. Taking a deep breath, Daphne stepped forward and pushed inside.
Marcus looked up as she entered and he chuckled raising his tumbler of firewhiskey to her. "All hail the conquering Lady!" Scowling, her father tossed the drink back and poured another glaring at the bottle as it ran dry with the glass only half filled. "Out of ruddy liquor. Perfect. Daphne, be a good Lady of the House of get me another bottle would you?"
Daphne raised her eyebrows at him. "I can honestly say I never expected to find you drunk, Father. Raging, certainly; murderous, possibly; utterly depressed, likely; but not drunk."
Marcus raised his head and glared at her for a moment before draining his glass and falling back into his chair. "Of course I'm drunk. I can't kill you…hell I bloody made you! More successful than I had ever dreamed I was there…stole my own house out from under me…bravo girl, bravo. I didn't think you had it in you."
Daphne stepped forward crossing her arms and narrowing her eyes. "As much as I hate to admit it, you taught me well, Father. You should have seen this coming."
He nodded and closed his eyes. "Yes I should have. Especially after you outmaneuvered me with that bloody betrothal. Made me look like a fool and I didn't even think that you had deeper plans…I deserve this. What do you plan to do with me and your mother now, Daphne? Are we to 'disappear'?"
Daphne laughed though there was little humor in the sound. "Why would I go against Mother? She has only ever helped and supported me. Unlike you."
Marcus scowled and leaned forward to glare at her again. The heavy swaying in his movement sapped a lot of the effect. "I was making you strong and worthy to lead!"
"You were making me into a glorified baby factory! At least have the decency to admit it!" she snarled.
"You would have had status." Marcus fell back into the seat and sighed. "Though I suppose if Potter wins this, you'll have that anyway. Are you going to kill me, Daphne?"
Daphne almost moved to say no however she held her tongue. Her father may have been defanged, but he could still be dangerous if his bitterness was allowed to fester. "That depends on you, Father. As much as I dislike you…you are correct that you made me into who I am. So if you wish to live I will require an Oath from you. You are to never harm me or mine; you are to always pass on information that could lead to harm against us; you are to remain out of the political arena henceforth. Do you think you can do all this, Father?"
Marcus nodded slowly. "Am I in exile as well, daughter?"
"To a degree," Daphne said. "You will live in one of the smaller houses in the countryside. I will ensure you have a reasonable stipend to live on though it will not be to the same standard you are used to. It won't even be close. Mother may accompany you or not as she wishes." Daphne sighed and stood up shaking her head. "You are not evil, Father. You are simply a bastard and a horrible parent. I don't want to hurt you, I just want you out of my life. Stay at the cottage and keep quiet and we can both move on with our lives as we each see fit. I'll have the necessary papers for the Oath sent over by tonight."
As she walked to the door, a shifting sound behind her saw Daphne pausing with a hand on the handle. "You are far stronger than I ever gave you credit for, Daphne. You are more worthy of the Greengrass Lordship than I ever was," Marcus murmured from his position near the fire. "Don't let anyone stamp that out like I tried to do."
Daphne nodded and closed her eyes. "I won't, Father. Goodbye."
After a thoroughly uneventful train ride on, Harry and his friends filed out of their chosen carriage and headed into the castle. Harry and Hermione immediately split off from the others and walked hand-in-hand to the kitchen entrance. Hermione's grip on him tightened and Harry paused and leaned over to feather his lips against her cheek. "I promise, Mione, we'll work on getting them more rights after this is all over. Think of how much easier it'll be if they actively participate."
Hermione sighed and leaned her head against his shoulder. "I know and I know they'll be a huge help if they agree but…well I just hate that we have conditioned them to slavery…"
"Mione, we've been over this, House Elves have very different values and outlooks. They're not human, you really can't treat them like they are. You've talked with Dobby and Winky enough to know that, Mione."
"Getting rid of a lifetime of beliefs doesn't exactly happen overnight you know," Hermione commented with a slight huff. "Just because I learned to deal with being in a multiple relationship does not mean I have learned to deal with an entire race that actually desires slavery. I'm working on it. Just let me be surly for a bit."
Harry nodded and patted her back. "Yes, Ma'am." Reaching out he tickled the pear and with a small squeak, the door to the kitchens opened allowing the two teens into the House Elf headquarters at Hogwarts. Short shouts rang out around them and a flood of elves rushed to offer food and assistance. Harry smiled politely at them and tried to ignore Hermione's brief grimace. "Hello, and thank you for the food, but we're actually waiting for dinner before eating. However, Miss Granger and I do need to speak with your primary representative for a few minutes."
Soft murmurs flowed out from the elves before most shifted back and one ancient looking elf stepped to the front of the group bowing low. "Master Harry Potter, Mistress Hermione Granger, I is Kilik. I is Head Elf for Hogwarts. How can Kilik be assisting you?"
Hermione took a deep breath and squared her shoulders. "Hello, Kilik, it's a pleasure to meet you. If at all possible, we'd prefer to be addressed as Harry and Hermione though it is of course up to you how you address us. As to what we want, we'd prefer to ask in private."
Kilik's face took on a thoughtful bent as he cocked his head to the side and scrunched up his mouth. After a few moments, the old elf shook his head and waved them towards a table just behind the group. "Master Potter and Mistress Granger may speak here. Elves have no secrets in the castle."
"Okay, we understand," Harry said taking the offered seat. "Kilik, I'm sure you're aware that Voldemort is gathering his forces and that things will likely come to a battle sometime before the end of the year."
"Kilik knows this, yes." The elf bobbed his head while many of the other nearby beings twisted their hands and frowned. "Does Master Harry expect the Dark One to attack Hogwarts?"
"I do." Harry grimaced and shook his head. "I hate to ask you this, Kilik, but we need to be sure that the school and the students will be safe. When the attack comes would any of the House Elves here be willing to assist in the defense efforts?"
Kilik stayed silent for a long time as did the rest of the elves. Harry couldn't help but notice that all of the background noise had ceased – all of the House Elves in the kitchen had drifted closer to listen in. Finally Kilik nodded his ancient head. "House Elves not supposed to harm wizards or witches. However…to House Elves, protection of their family and home is most sacred vow."
"Kilik," Hermione said softly. "You don't have to do anything that would make you uncomfortable. This is not an order or it would be the Headmistress coming down here asking you. We are asking for your help as people fighting against the darkness, not as superiors and not as Harry Potter Savior of Elves." Hermione steadfastly ignored Harry's brief glare. They had heard Dobby quietly referring to him as that to Winky the other day and he'd been adamant about no one ever repeating that title near other House Elves. "If you agree to help, please don't agree because of who we are. If you want to fight with us, fight for yourselves, fight because it is right, fight because you want to."
The old elf smiled at her and patted her hand. "Kilik and Hogwarts' elves consider students our family. We consider castle our home. Elves will protect family. Elves will protect Hogwarts. When the Dark One comes, Kilik will lead elves to war."
After dinner, Harry collected Luna and moved off to his final – theoretically at least – ally recruitment mission. He nodded to the others and took a second to collect himself as they reached the main doors. Luna just smiled at him as he paused and looped her arm through his, pulling him along behind her. "No need to worry, Harry. I'm sure they already know you're coming."
"Luna," Harry said rolling his eyes and picking up his pace to keep up with her. "You can't play the psychic card. We all already know that you aren't actually a Seer."
Luna looked at him with wide eyes and tilted her head just enough that she appeared so innocent even Santa would cry. "I didn't say anything about seeing them being ready, Harry." She tapped her chin with one finger before shrugging. "I did however neglect to mention that I saw Bane and Firenze near the Forest border waving to us as the carriages emptied."
Harry groaned and rubbed his forehead. "Luna, please warn me if you ever go into politics. I think any session you attend in the Wizengamot would leave me with nightmares."
"Not you, Harry, just our enemies," Luna said with a spreading smile that promised pain to anyone standing in her way.
Harry raised his eyebrows at the younger blonde. "Yup, nightmares." Luna's smile shifted to something radiating sweetness and contentment and she hugged Harry's arm. He reached over and patted her head suppressing a chuckle. They stopped at the edge of the Forbidden Forest behind Hagrid's hut and waited patiently for the centaurs to arrive.
They didn't have to wait long. Less than a minute after arriving, two of the magical beings melted out of the gloom and stepped forward to stand in front of the humans. All four bowed slightly to each other. Not enough to show any deference or fealty, but enough to prove mutual respect. The smaller of the centaurs pawed the ground and pointed hesitantly at Harry. "Harry Potter. The stars have said you would come bearing ill tidings. We have foreseen Change sweeping behind your path like a hurricane. Luna Lovegood speaks highly of you. I am Firenze. My companion is Bane."
Harry smiled politely at them. "It's an honor to meet you Firenze, Bane. Has Luna mentioned why we're here?"
Bane scowled and turned narrowed eyes on him. "She did not have to. Tom Riddle has recently invaded our territory and sought out the acromantulas. We do not know what exactly was discussed, but it is not hard to reach the correct conclusion even without consulting the heavens. The death of Aragog before the end of the meeting certainly left out all possible doubt."
Harry frowned at that. "Aragog?"
Firenze waved a hand to indicate the forest. "Aragog was the one rescued and raised by Hagrid. Aragog was the sole acromantula capable of keeping his spawn tame. Aragog was the reason the school has remained untouched. Aragog was the reason we have allowed the monsters to remain in our forest. Now Aragog is gone. Now the spawn will swarm at Tom Riddle's command."
Harry growled and ran a hand through his hair while Luna just sighed heavily. "One bloody thing after another," he muttered. Looking up at the centaurs Harry spoke louder, "Firenze, Bane, we have reason to believe that Voldemort, Tom Riddle, will attack Hogwarts in May. If I can assure you that the acromantulas will be exterminated afterwards – one way or another – will you agree to fight by our side during the battle?"
Firenze moved to speak, but Bane cut him off. "I wish to hear from Luna Lovegood first."
Luna nodded happily and smiled up at the two. "Certainly. Voldemort is going to try and destroy Hogwarts. He won't stop there though, he'll raze the forest just to make certain he kills you all. Voldemort won't do this because he cares about killing you. He'll do it because he needs to in order to maintain his power. Voldemort is every bit as much of a monster as the acromantulas you hate so much. Help us with our monster and we will ensure that our friends help you with your monster."
Bane nodded and Firenze looked up at the stars just starting to twinkle in the darkening sky. "Thank you for the candor, Luna Lovegood. Harry Potter, the stars say that you keep the promises you make. You promise to ensure our forest is cleansed of its infestation?"
"I do," Harry said.
Firenze and Bane both bowed their heads. "Harry Potter, Luna Lovegood," Firenze proclaimed, "you both are trustworthy and the stars have foretold that our fate would lie in your hands. Our bows will sing at your command."
About an hour before curfew Harry walked into his mother's room – after having thoroughly knocked and received the all-clear…several times just to be sure. He collapsed onto the couch with a muffled groan and ran his hands through his hair. "Done. They're in. I think we have everyone we're liable to get now."
Lily smiled and sat down next him patting her son on the leg. "Excellent. You do realize you've not only made alliances with three separate foreign nations, but you've also managed to gain the assistance of House Elves, centaurs and goblins? I may be Muggleborn, but I read more than Binns' lessons…those three races haven't fought together on a single side for four centuries. They haven't fought as our allies for nearly six."
Harry pulled one hand away from his face and cocked an eyebrow at his mother. "Way to make me feel more normal, mum."
Lily just laughed and went to get some tea. "Harry, I am the wrong mother to go to for normal. Physically I'm barely older than your future Lady Black. In no way are you and I normal!"
Harry grimaced. "Please don't remind me of how weird that is. On a scale of one to shadow panther I think we hit Giant Squid on that one."
Lily's hand hovered over the tea kettle as she turned her head to stare at Harry with wide eyes. A moment later she just shook her head and finished with the tea. "You are one strange child."
"Thanks," Harry said rolling his eyes. "So you're only physically older than Nym huh? How about mentally?" he teased.
Lily set the cup in front of him with raised eyebrows and a smirk. "Really? Half the time I'm amazed she's mature enough to tie her own shoes."
"She's not that bad," Harry laughed. "She's like, seventeen tops. Well…minimum? Anyway yes, mum, I realize that I have a veritable army ready to fight under my banner. I just hope it's enough."
Lily shrugged and snorted into her tea. "You obviously have developed a very poor sense of overkill."
Harry turned to her and gestured with arms wide. "My life is overkill. I blew up a troll's head as an eleven year old! My mind is guarded by the bloody Death Star and the Xenomorph Queen! I have Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel on my comm stone!"
Lily laughed and held up her hands in surrender. "I give, I give! I wasn't criticizing, Harry, I was making a comment. Besides…I like overkill. I married your father to keep him out of trouble after all," she said smiling.
Harry shook his head at her. "You did not marry Dad just to keep him away from pranking."
"Well it was part of the reason. He also had the most beautiful hair…" Lily commented reaching up to playfully ruffle Harry's own hair.
"Spoilsport," Lily said pulled her hand back and leaning back into the couch. "I was serious about the overkill though, Harry. I am a huge fan of it. If you're going to do something, might as well make sure you don't have to do it a second time. If you want to secure a home, make it a fortress. If you want to kill someone blow up their house and Fiendfyre the ashes. If your enemy is bringing an army, bring your own five times as large. I'd almost say we should try to ask the ICW for help, but they are rather useless for the most part unfortunately."
Harry chuckled at that. "Agreed. Plus I think we recruited pretty much everyone we could possibly get already."
"That you have, son. I'm proud of you, Harry," Lily said giving him a hug and a kiss on the head.
Harry leaned against her shoulder and nodded. "Thanks, mum. That…that means a lot."
Lily could only smile at that. Until a few moments later when a stray thought crossed her mind that she seemingly just had to voice. "What about dragons? Could we use them? It's not true overkill until there is fire raining down from the sky."
Harry was torn between laughing and facepalming. "Mum!"
AN: As usual, major thanks to RhysThornbery for the continued beta assistance. Also thanks to MidnightFenrir for his help with the French and a nickname for Fleur.
Recommendation for this chapter: "Death of a Hero" by Kinsfire. This is a longer oneshot where Harry hands over his wand just prior to 6th Year summer and gets attacked during the break. With their hero assumed dead, the Wizarding World basically goes berserk – as do most of the females of Hogwarts. Extreme vengeance and unfortunate Death Eaters abound. Very good and also rather funny.
Second rec: "Letters" by TheEndless7. This one is primarily Harry/Fleur though there is a bit of ship tease with Harry Daphne (and she gets an alternate epilogue which is sweet). This is a Fourth Year fic where Fleur is Harry's pen-pal prior to the start of the Tournament and they become involved during it. Daphne has a larger part starting about halfway through as well. This one is very good though there is a bit too much focus Quidditch at times.