Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe belongs to the proverbial Duchess of Magic, JK Rowling, Scholastic, Bloomsbury, Warner Bros and some other high falutin' companies. No matter how much I whine about not owning anything related to the HP universe, other than a few fanfic plots, I do not profess to own - and would never dream of making any money off - JKR's wonderful world... Damn it!
A/N: This is going to be it for a while until I can sort out the last little hiccup and finish this. Sorry. :(
Chapter Eighty Four - Slapping Weasleys and Starting NEWTs
Right on the stroke of 7.00pm the fireplace at Pottermore gave its expected 'whoomph' of green flames a moment before Arthur stepped out. Molly was right behind him and Bill was right behind her.
At the time, the only one in the room waiting for them was Daphne. With the flat expression of occlumency shields up she was dressed in very upmarket business casual with the Potter Crest on her robes. She was on her feet off to one side with her wand already drawn in readiness... just in case.
As soon as Bill straightened up, she flicked her wand at the fireplace. It wasn't actually a charm she cast, it was a signal to Willy to lock the floo down again with its password.
She looked at Arthur and, instead of given the customary greeting and offer of hospitality, she said, "Mister Weasley, Missus Weasley, Heir Weasley; please, follow me. My Lord and Lady await us in his office."
Then, without even waiting for any of the three visitors to say a word, simply spun about and walked from the room.
Molly gave a huff, but that was all she did before following Daphne. Daphne thought either Arthur or Bill had to have silenced her, as she knew the woman would otherwise not hesitate to voice her displeasure.
As she continued to walked from the room, she had a small smirk on her face she knew the Weasleys could not see.
Of course, the office of the Head of House was not that far away, so it was only a few seconds before Daphne stood before a door and knocked.
From within, she heard Harry firmly bark, "Enter!"
She opened the door, stepped within and formally said, "My Lord Potter; Mister Weasley, Missus Weasley and Heir Weasley are here for their appointed meeting." Then she stepped to the side to usher the Weasleys within.
Throughout the day Harry had received quite a number of 'urgent' letters from Lords of other Houses, who were aware of what had happened at the handfasting and demanded he act. On his behalf Hermione was writing responses, which he would then read, make a slight alteration or two and hand back to her to be rewritten. Then he'd sign them, with his ring impress a wax seal on the envelop flap and set it aside to be sent off.
There were so many he had to resort to using Hermione's owl, then Sirius's, then Dobby.
People of importance were upset and wanted it fixed. And, apparently, due to his being One of the Seven; one of the heads of the major alliance, the Grand Alliance; and known to have a long-term relationship with the Weasley family he was 'elected' to be the one to do the 'fixing'.
Plus, during the lead up to the time of the Weasley 'appointment', Daphne had given Harry a quick reminder of what needed to be done and said before she calmly said, "Be at ease, Harry. This has been a long time coming and is past due happening. Just remember: You are One of the Seven and what you say, tonight, must be obeyed."
With a sigh, he sat back for a moment before he nodded back.
As Daphne walked out closing the door behind her, from her own chair off to his side and also facing forward, Hermione said, "Also remember: We love you, Harry. You cannot do anything tonight that would lead us to loving you any less."
He again nodded, but added a quiet, "Thank you."
Then he sat forward and ensured, once again, his desk and everything else in the room was just as it needed to be. On the blotter before him was a 'crib' sheet with the important points he needed to focus upon during this meeting. Next to his left hand was the stack of 'complaint' letters he received from the other Lords.
Setting the office up to focus on the office chair as a 'seat of power', was something pretty much already in place before Daphne moved through it, slightly rearranging things.
For a start, she had the elves remove the discussion table at the other end of the office. Then had the chairs that surrounded it replaced with three comfortable but 'less classy' than Harry's, Hermione's and hers - the last of which sat on the outside of Hermione's - and had them set before and facing the desk, about seven feet back and about eighteen inches apart.
The centre seat was supposed to be for Arthur, while the one on his left was for Molly and the one on his right was for Bill.
When Daphne knocked on the door, entered and gave her short announcement of the Weasleys, Harry was firming up and ready.
Before entering the office, Arthur had already figured out he was going to have to do a lot of grovelling. He entered and, after a quick scan of the room with his eyes, walked forward to stand behind the chairs.
As he was leading, he did not see the expression on his wife's face. If he had, he might have handled the situation differently, right then and there. However, he probably still couldn't have stopped what was about to happen.
"Harry, dear," said Molly. "What is the meaning of all this?"
As both Arthur and Bill winced, Harry allowed his eyes to flicker a very cold expression upon Molly for a bare moment before he flicked that same cold gaze back to Arthur.
"Mister Weasley," he almost growled. "Your wife does not seem to know her place. Control her, before I'm forced to take offence."
As Molly's expression switched from a fake pleasantness, to shock, before then switching to outrage, Bill had stepped to the side towards her, stepped up behind her and jabbed her in the back with the tip of his index finger. Her expression immediately switched back to shock.
He needed her to think it was a wand tip, not his finger, and immediately shut up. He hissed into her ear, "Mother! For the love of Merlin; shut up!"
She did, but it was clear she was very unhappy. Whether it was because Bill was jabbing her in the back with what she thought was a wand tip, from his barely heard command, or from the way Harry was looking at her with clear anger didn't matter.
Once it appeared she wasn't going to say anything, Harry indicated the chairs and said, "You may sit." However, it was said more as an order, rather than an invitation.
When Molly looked like she was going to sit in the middle seat, Bill quickly hooked a hand under her nearest armpit and near-bodily forced her back to her feet. "Yours is the seat on the left, mother. The 'shield-maiden's' place, remember?"
Again, anger flicked over her expression before she sidestepped to her left and sat in the seat to the left of the centre chair from Arthur; to Harry, on his right.
After she sat, Bill sat on the one on Arthur's right and Arthur finally sat in the centre chair.
Harry then gave a firm nod to Arthur and said, "Last night, the actions of your wife caused a great deal of embarrassment to the Noble and Most Ancient Houses of Clearwater, Potter and Black. Her behaviour also offended the Noble and Most Ancient Houses of Flack, Longbottom and Muldoon. It probably also offended the Noble and Most Ancient House of Rowle, but I really couldn't care any less about Rowle than I do now.
"Furthermore, she also offended the Noble and Ancient Houses of Abbott, Bones, Davis, Diggory, Greengrass, Hilliard, MacMillan, Marchbanks, Ogden and Spinnet. And that's just those Noble and Ancient Houses I care about, let alone those I don't care about and any of lesser rank."
Tapping the stack next to his left hand he said, "I have here a great many complaints from almost all those demanding I take action against you and yours.
"Last night your wife took your House... both Houses if I also include the fact you're also Regent of the Elder House of Prewett into consideration... to the point where you were one wrong word... one thoughtless act... from being declared anathema to each of those Houses. Just in case your father was negligent in your non-Hogwarts education, let alone your mother Cedrella Weasley née Black, that would mean you would be a single step away from being in a House-wide blood feud with many multiple Houses."
When Harry saw all three give starts of shock and suddenly pale, he thought he might have finally gotten through to them.
"I see you know what that, at least, means," he glared. "But, just in case you don't know how bad it would get for you, it would automatically have the entire Grand Alliance standing together in that blood feud against you... and, yes, that would also mean the Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter would be included... plus a great many more Houses. From that, I'm sure you can already tell the Houses of Weasley and Prewett would very likely be extinct within a few days at the most."
He gave that a few moments to settle into their minds before he raised the next point.
"Up to and including the letter I received from you last night, Mister Weasley, your wife has... even when constantly reminded otherwise... consistently and deliberately ignored the fact Heiress Daphne Greengrass of the Noble and Ancient House of Greengrass and Heiress Fleur Delacour of the Venerable House of Delacour of France and of the Veela Nation are in contractual relationships with me. Your wife's invitations for me and Hermione, but not Daphne or Fleur, to visit were... by her deliberately not doing so... offensive.
"I have chosen to ignore those repeated offences, because I know your wife does not... like... certain aspects of the etiquette and traditions of our world. However, neither can she be that stupid or ignorant to not know that, when she deliberately ignores required etiquette, she offends others. And that reflects on you.
"That I don't bring you to heel for her behaviour against me, reflects on my House, the Seven and the Grand Alliance. As such, I have been forced into the position where I... as I have warned you in past I would have to do... must act.
"You are the Head of House, Mister Weasley; not your wife. If you are incapable of bringing her to heel, if you continue to prove yourself to be an ineffective Head, then Heir William Weasley will be forced to depose you from the position as Head of House and take your place. Then of him will it be demanded he bring your wife to heel... by any means necessary. If you fight that, or he doesn't bring your wife to heel, then it will be blood feud.
"Do you understand what I have told you?"
Arthur slowly nodded.
"I will have your verbal acknowledgement, Mister Weasley," he growled. "Again, do you understand what I have told you?"
"Y-yes," Arthur, almost too softly to be heard, said.
"Yes... WHAT?" he snapped.
"Yes... m-my Lord."
Harry then nodded back and asked, "Now. Make sure your wife does not send any further insulting letters to me or mine. I believe it would be best if she was forbidden to send me any more letters; and, if your wife finds need to send me a letter, it come from your hand and with your approval."
He again gave that a moment to sink in.
Turning to Bill, he said, "I am already aware my second bonded, Miss Delacour, felt pressured by you in the workplace concerning information regarding me you claimed you needed. That will cease, forthwith. I will be very unhappy if I learn that this action I've been forced to take by my peers brings negativity upon Miss Fleur Delacour while she remains under your tutelage in her position within Gringotts. Understood?"
"Yes, my Lord," Bill replied more firmly than his father.
"Thank you," he more softly said.
Turning back to Arthur he said, "I remain exceedingly grateful your family took me in for a few short weeks during the summer between my first and second year, second and third year, and third and fourth year; though I know a lot of that had to do with you meeting a request by Dumbledore you do so.
"Even then, you were under no such... obligation... to also take Hermione, now the Lady Presumptive of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter and ward of the Lord of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, into your home during those same times. At least, I do not believe so.
"And, for that, I will always remain grateful," he said, before he firmed up again. "However, recent behaviour by your wife, as if she was using... playing upon... that original hospitality, have utterly negated any of that. And that greatly saddens me."
He gave that a long moment before he quietly said, "Thank you for coming. You all may leave now."
Daphne immediately rose from her seat and, as she walked past the three, she said to them, "This way, please. I will escort you out."
As the three Weasleys rose, clearly in a daze and in shock, they started to follow Daphne from the room. Arthur even 'forgot' to bow to Harry, as Head of House and as protocol and etiquette demanded, before he followed her out. None of them said a word as they left. From the expression on her face it seemed Harry had finally gotten through to Molly her behaviour had landed both her Houses and her husband in the deep 'doo-doo'.
As the door closed behind them, Harry slumped forward onto the desk and began to lightly sob.
He knew he'd just utterly destroyed his relationship with the Weasley family and he'd had no choice, but to do so.
Hermione came over, sat on his lap and cuddled him. She, too, was lightly crying.
Just before he flooed away and after first sending his wife through, Arthur turned to Daphne and softly but sadly said, "I'm sooo sorry. But, I will fix this."
She told him, "I hope you're able to, Mister Weasley. It would devastate my Lord Potter if he had to act because you didn't or were unable to."
After a sad nod back, he followed his son through the floo.
Once the green flames reverted to a small red 'pilot' flame again, she sighed and headed back to the office.
She knew Harry would need comforting and Hermione was the only one in there at the moment.
As she walked she called for Betsy.
When the elf popped in a little ahead of her, she said, "Betsy, would you please inform Fleur the Weasleys have left and Harry's in the office?"
"Yes, Mistress," the little elf replied before she popped away again.
Just before she reached the door to the office, Daphne heard Fleur hurrying down the stairs from upstairs and waited for her.
As Fleur hurriedly approached, she quietly asked, "'Ow did it go?"
"Harry was brilliant," replied Daphne. "However, it was also very clear to Hermione and me that it caused him great pain to do what he had to do."
Fleur sadly nodded and just as softly said, "Then we shall 'ave to lift his spirits, non?"
"Oui," Daphne sadly smiled.
Then she reached for the doorknob and let them both in.
Harry felt he'd had quite the emotional day and wanted to head to bed early. However, all three of his ladies took him to the informal dining room, where they enjoyed a cup of cocoa each.
"You're a bit too keyed up at the moment, Harry," said Hermione. "I think it would be best for all of us if we talk about something else for the rest of the night."
They did. They talked about their friends, discussed the differences between the hybrid wedding come handfasting and the traditional handfasting, wondered when they'd hear back about their choices for classes for their NEWT years, those sort of issues.
Finally, but still early, Harry headed for bed claiming mental exhaustion. Daphne joined him and they spent the first half hour cuddling before he gently dropped off to sleep.
Once he'd done so, she sighed and allowed herself to drift off.
The girls had already planned on a 'distracting' day for the next day.
The day dawned quite warm and cloudless, which told the manorhold it was going to be quite the hot day.
The girls had originally planned on taking Harry to an amusement park, just as they did for CeeCee's birthday. However, with the day shaping up to be a hot one, even before breakfast, the day at the amusement park idea was aborted - or, at least, deferred.
Instead, they dragged him out to the manor pool. They'd decided on another 'naked day' by the pool, working on their tans.
However, within fifteen minutes of them being outside, Hermione had a bottle of muggle suntan lotion and asked Harry to lather her up. He was very happy to do so. She flipped over onto her tummy so he could start with her back.
He started with her upper back, then lower back, then switched to the back of her legs, before finally massaging the lotion into her bare buns. Once finished there he softly said, "You'll need to flip over."
She did, without any hesitation. Then he lotioned-up her feet, her lower legs, her upper legs, slipped right past her lady-cauldron, lotioned her tummy, her chest - paying special attention to her very erect and firm nipples, which had her almost moaning - then moved to her arms before then dropping down to 'massage' the oil into her mons. She moaned when he did that too.
Once he was finished lathering her all up, Daphne asked, "My turn, now?" And he switched over to her.
As with Hermione, as he approached her she rolled onto her tummy. It did not slip his attention she appeared quite eager.
She then got the same treatment before Fleur, who'd been watching the whole thing, smirked at him, rolled onto her tummy and simply pointed over her shoulder at her back.
Once he was done - which, surprisingly, had not taken more than half an hour - he returned to his own lounger and lay on his front. He was barely on it for about two minutes before he felt hands starting to spread lotion on his back. Flipping his head to the side he could see it was Hermione; and she was lightly smiling back.
He was just starting to relax into it when he felt a second pair of hands, this time it was Daphne. And, as he watched, he saw Fleur walk over, obviously to give them a hand... maybe. Yes!
Daphne ended up doing his the right side of his torso and right arm, Hermione applied lotion to his left and left arm and Fleur took his legs.
When it felt like they were done, Hermione quietly said, "Roll over."
He was happy to do so and flipped himself over.
This time, because of the flip, Daphne worked on his left side while Hermione worked on his right, though they hadn't switched sides of the lounger. Fleur was still working on his legs.
And they covered everywhere, including his face.
As he was thinking they weren't going to be that bold as to 'handle' little Harry while they worked him over, he was surprised when that's exactly what he felt. It took him a moment to figure out from the grip that it was Hermione; about the same amount of time it took him to snap his head forward to rest his chin on his chest and see she had hold of him with her right hand and was gently stroking him. And none of the girls seemed to be offended or otherwise perturbed by what Hermione was doing.
Harry was shocked.
Of course, as a healthy young man late in his adolescence his 'Little Harry' didn't so much as wake up, look around, think about things, scratch himself and then, with a great deal of grumbling, decide to stand up. No; 'Little Harry' practically leapt to almost instant rigid attention and barked, "Little Harry reporting as ordered, Ma'am!"
Hermione gave a little giggle at how fast Little Harry changed from asleep to ready to go.
But, what surprised him even more, was when Daphne leaned over him and took him into her mouth.
"Oh! Gods!" he exclaimed, his back and heels arching his hips up.
"Daphne!" exclaimed a shocked Hermione. Fleur snickered in amusement.
Daphne pulled off a moment later and asked, "What?"
"I can't believe you did that!" gasped Hermione.
"Why not?" asked a still sniggering Fleur. "If I didn't think you'd get upset with me for doing it, I'd have done it too."
Meanwhile Daphne had pulled a face and was trying to get the taste out of her mouth. "The suntan lotion doesn't taste anywhere near as nice as it smells."
While still lightly holding him, Hermione looked between both Harry's concubines before she seemed to reach a decision. There was a slight hesitation before she then bent forward and took Harry into her mouth for a long moment herself.
"B-bloody Hell!" gasped Harry.
As Hermione slowly pulled off, Fleur moved forward to sit astraddle Harry's shins and the bottom of the lounge. Once Hermione pulled clear, she then immediately bent forward and took him in her mouth too.
"Arrgh!" Harry groaned, as Hermione pulled a face and lightly said, "Yuck!"
As Fleur pulled off, he gasped, "What the bloody hell is this!? A round robin?"
Daphne replied, "That's not a bad idea." Then, without a pause, bent forward again.
It didn't take long for what was going to happen, to happen.
As he came down off that rush, he felt Fleur shift forward up his legs. Then she impaled herself.
Harry was yet again surprised. Not by Fleur's actions - he knew her Veela heritage meant she couldn't care less about engaging in sex in front of others - but, by how Hermione and Daphne didn't get upset about it.
It was more than half an hour later, when Harry was quickly being reduced to a puddle of endorphic goo, that Hermione, after hopping off his lap, said, "I think we should take this inside. Harry, here, is beginning to burn." When she looked to Daphne, she said, "So are you, by the look of the skin on your breasts."
Daphne, surprised, looked over and asked, "How can you focus on something like that when you've just... you know..." And gestured to how she was the last to ride Harry while he was on the lounger. However, she also moved forward to pull Harry to his feet.
Together, the four headed inside and up to the master suite. Harry was still a little out of it, so the girls guided him the entire way.
As they walked, Fleur quietly asked Hermione, "I take it, you're not so against me being involved at the same time as you and Harry..."
"I'm getting used to you being there, Fleur," she replied. "However, I don't think I'll ever get to the point where I'll welcome your touch... sexually; do you understand?"
"Oui," said Fleur. "So long as I... as they say... know the boundaries, I am happy."
After a shower first to wash that lotion back off, Harry wasn't 'allowed' out of bed for the rest of the morning. And only then because of the call of mother nature and the need to eat.
However, the girls thought they'd accomplished what they wanted to accomplish and Harry was no longer moping about what he'd had to say to the Weasleys.
The next morning Harry received a letter from 'Mr Arthur S. Weasley, Head of the Elder House of Weasley' formally advising him that actions had been taken to ensure his wife, 'Mrs Margaret M. Weasley', would not in any way, shape or form initiate or cause to be initiated any contact with him, Harry, his wife, his betrothed, his bonded and any children that may come of his loins on pain of losing her magic and immediately finding herself disowned from House Weasley.
At work and from Bill Fleur found out Arthur had forced a magical vow on Molly, bonded by Bill, to that effect.
Harry thought it was a tad harsh, but could also see it was probably the only way to force Molly to stop her shenanigans.
Daphne quietly sent 'unofficial' notes to those others who'd been incensed about Molly's behaviour and contacted Harry about it, of what had happened.
By the Thursday, two days later, the heatwave had broken and Daphne and Hermione finally took him to one of the large amusement parks, where they spent the day just enjoying being teenagers. This one wasn't the one Harry and Hermione attended while staying with her parents, or the one they went to as part of CeeCee's thirteenth birthday. This one included an 'attached' water-based amusement park with long waterslides and rapids you rode inner tubes down.
Because of the heat, they spent the first part of the day in the actual amusement park with its many rides, stopped for lunch and then went into the water park area. When it cooled down a fair bit, they returned to the main park and spent the day and early evening there.
What made it even better for the three - Fleur had to work - they could travel to and fro between home and the parks by Knight Bus, so there were no long travel times.
However, the other Heirs found out about it and they had to promise the others to go again or to another the next week.
That time they went on the Sunday to the same park, the day after the Alliance meeting, so Fleur could join them. All the other Heirs, including Ernie - surprise, surprise - joined them. And again they spent part of the day in the water park area.
The only downside to the day was when three muggle 'toughs' tried to come on too strong with Fleur while she was wearing a bikini in the water park. Harry had to surreptitiously hit the three with compulsion charms to get them to back down. He wasn't mean about it though; just compelled them to hurriedly depart the park with visions Fleur's 'super-muscular bikie boyfriend' was hunting them down to beat the living hell out of them.
They were gone within moments, clearly rushing to get out as fast as they could.
It was a few days earlier and the day before the August meeting of the Alliance, when they arrived early for one of their weekends at the Grangers, that their letters from Hogwarts arrived late on the Friday, just after dinner. It contained both their acceptances into the classes they wanted to undertake together with a booklist for all of them. As expected it was signed by 'Deputy Headmistress Septima Vector' on behalf of 'Headmaster Ebenezer Goodstone'.
As they were due to stay for the week day week at Green Fields, they decided to hold off on the trip to Diagon until they could confirm if their other friends, plus Astoria, had received theirs.
They all had, so the trip was taken on the next Friday, one day shy of two weeks before their return to Hogwarts.
"Shouldn't we have waited until CeeCee was back?" asked Hermione while they'd been discussing it.
"No," replied Harry. "She will not be returning to magical Britain until about the twenty-seventh or twenty-eighth, more than a week from now. Besides, Cousin Narcissa wants to make it a 'witches' day'; just the two of them. If I've read things right I think she wants to take her more than just shopping for fourth year supplies, too. So, I think we should let them have the day, yes?"
After a three way glance between his three ladies, Hermione replied, "That sounds like a good idea."
The way his three all seemed to smirk had Harry immediately knowing that both Narcissa's Witches' Day with CeeCee and what they'd be doing on that day was something he really did not want to know about.
Which led them to Diagon Alley on the Friday, meeting with the others at Fortescue's at 10.00am.
Once the rest of the Heirs - now also including Ernie - had turned up, the group set off to begin their shopping. Harry had to go to Gringotts, as did a couple of the others, so that's where they headed first.
Then it was off to Madam Malkins so uniforms that needed to be replaced could be replaced. With nine of them, Fleur was at work and CeeCee wasn't in country yet, they were four boys - Harry, Neville, Justin and Ernie - and five girls - Hermione, Daphne, Susan, Hannah and Tracey. Which allowed them to more or less evenly split between the male and female sections of the store.
When Susan, Hannah and Tracey found out Harry had given Hermione and Daphne an 'open purse' to do shopping, all three turned to their 'wizardfolk' with pointed looks.
Neville, now used to it, immediately raised his hands and apologised, "Sorry. Unlike Harry, I'm still on a stipend. I'll talk to my father, though, and see what I can do."
That had both nod back with understanding expressions. And Tracey, though it was clear she too wanted access to an open purse, didn't even bother to ask.
Harry just rolled his eyes and said, "I tell you what, ladies. How about, just for today, I pay for whatever wardrobe replacements you want to make. This does not mean―" Which was as far as he got before an excited squealing Tracey launched herself at him and laid a massive hug on him.
When she pulled back, after kissing his cheek, he continued. "This does not mean I'm willing to do this sort of thing all the time. It just means I'm willing to do it this time. Alright?"
All three, after first 'checking' with their menfolk, turned back with matching happy grins and nodded back.
"Thank you, Harry," said Susan.
"Yes; thank you, Harry," said Hannah.
And Tracey nodded.
As all five ladies rushed into the female side of the store, Neville said, "You didn't need to do that, Harry."
"No, but I wanted to," he shrugged. "I had no chance to buy anything for friends as I was growing up with the Dursleys. And, now that I've finally got the chance to do that, I want to enjoy it."
Belatedly realising both other boys might have felt offended, he turned to both and said, "I know I should have asked you both first, but I sometimes can't help myself. I like making people happy. Sorry for stepping on your toes, there."
Neville just snorted in amusement while Justin gave him a wry grin back.
Justin said, "Just so long as you let us pay you back... away from the attention of the ladies, of course... at some time in the near future."
Neville nodded in agreement.
"I can easily accept that," said Harry.
The girls, while not going overboard in Harry's opinion, managed to acquire for themselves quite a few different outfits. However, none of the boys were allowed to see them until the ladies, themselves, deigned they could. Harry already knew this meant another fashion parade in his own near future.
While the girls were getting kitted - or, rekitted - out, the boys were undergoing likewise on their side of the store.
As Harry hadn't grown much over the course of the previous year much of what he owned did not require replacing. However, the girls made sure he bought three full sets of school uniforms, anyway.
"You are not a pauper, Harry," Daphne had firmly stated. "As such, you will buy a full uniform replacement set at the beginning of each year, even if you don't need to replace what you've already got. We ladies are doing the same; so that, by the way we dress, you are not seen as either a pauper or a knut-pinching bastard."
Harry just gave a shrug in pained acceptance and went along with it. While he knew a full replacement didn't even scratch the surface of his residuals from his investments, he also now recognised you have to be seen to be wealthy, not just be wealthy, if you wanted to be properly respected in the wizarding world; Lordships aside.
After the fittings, it did not take them long to go through the rest of the Alley and pick up everything else they needed: Books, replacement ingredients and another two cauldrons for those continuing with potions such as Daphne, a great deal more sheets of blank parchment, more quills, more ink and a couple of expensive advanced rune carving tool sets for Harry and Hermione.
Then it was a return to Malkins to pick up their clothing before returning to Fortescue's.
They only hung around to eat an icecream each before they all left for their respective homes. The Potters all returned to Pottermore, Justin elf-popped to Bedford Castle with Tracey; which surprised almost everyone. Neville, Susan and Hannah went to Abbott's Ford. And Ernie returned to his grandfather's place via floo.
During the last full week of the break Bill asked Harry, by way of Fleur through Gringotts, if he could visit as he had news he felt he needed to share with Harry.
That meeting occurred on the evening of Thursday, the twenty-fifth. That week, as it was the last full one before they returned to school, was at Pottermore for the Potters.
During that meeting, Bill felt he needed to explain a lot of what had been happening at the Burrow since 'that night', as he referred to it.
As they already knew, Molly had been placed under a magical vow not to contact Harry or his, unless Harry had initiated the contact. That was something Harry currently felt he'd never do again. However, according to Bill it also led to a frank and open family discussion where a whole lot of issues were discussed.
First, Bill had admitted to both his parents he didn't spend as much time out of magical Britain as he'd led them to believe. And then explained why; that it had to do with how he knew his mother would then constantly badger him to spend more time at the Burrow against his desire to be his own man and stand on his own two feet. Which then led to Charlie, who was home at the time because of what had happened, explaining he took the job in Bulgaria at the dragon reserve, after having already been offered a chance to play professional Quidditch for a professional Quidditch team in England; and that it was for the same reason why Bill kept secret how much time he actually spent in magical Britain himself.
After that shock the twins then showed they were a lot smarter than their school results indicated, explaining they knew their mother would try to force them to seek jobs within the Ministry when their dream, now being realised with the help of Sirius, was to own their own store selling prank items and games.
After hearing through his older children's claims and reasons behind them, Arthur was devastated while Molly had a near mental breakdown. Arthur then asked his boys to help him pay for a mind-healer for their mother, to try and get her past what he now knew was an unhealthy desire to keep 'her babies' close by and under her control. They all promised to chip in, including Percy. And the mind-healer that was helping Ginny, as soon as Ginny told her of what was going on, approached Arthur and suggested a colleague who had experience in dealing with mothers with control issues would best suit.
That mind-healer had already visited with Molly twice and stated a long process was going to be required to get her through it. Apparently, Molly feared losing her children to early deaths and trying to control them was her way of protecting them; and Ron's 'recent' death had exacerbated the problem. Her need to control had ratcheted up well beyond healthy levels.
Harry silently pledged to use the same ruse he used to pay for the mind-healer that visited with Ginny and Luna to contribute to paying for the help Molly clearly desperately needed.
He'd arranged that the next day, again via Ted. A short note back from Ted said he'd take care of it, as Harry knew he would.
After a weekend back at the Grangers', the Potters spent the last few days at the Black Townhouse (Narcissa had insisted on the name, due to the presence of CeeCee).
CeeCee had arrived on Saturday morning, spent that day and Sunday reacclimatising to the time-zone eight hours before her own and was right as rain by the next, Monday, morning; even if she did look like something the kneazle dragged in when she came down for breakfast.
However, as she'd claimed, she wasn't going to miss a Harry breakfast and Harry had promised to turn up early enough on Monday morning to cook said breakfast. He did.
When CeeCee staggered into the kitchen that morning Harry just smugly grinned. He knew the power of his skillet and pans might not be able to rouse the dead, but could sure as Hell rouse 'dead to the world' sleepers.
A lot less sleep fogged as she'd been awake for an hour already, Narcissa rolled her eyes at both the antics of CeeCee and Harry's smug grin.
She wasn't taking CeeCee out for her 'witch's day out' that day, that was the next day, but it helped the girl to be awake at that time to finalise her readjustment to Greenwich Mean Time. Besides, as she was heading later that morning to Bedford Castle to visit with Justin's family; so needed to be awake anyway.
As she started to get a decent feed into her, between mouthfuls the young girl started to tell Harry and his ladies about her summer back in Perth.
She'd also mentioned that her Dad had taken the entire family up the Darling Ranges escarpment to Lesmurdie to see the House that Harry had bought. And expressed her desire to immediately move in there instead of living in the house in Thornlie.
"Dad wouldn't go for it, though," she grouched. "He said it's your place and we really should only see the place, from then on, if it was an emergency. That is, of course, unless you're staying there. Then we can visit again."
"We just might stay there for a while after we've finished at Hogwarts," said Harry. "We've really not got any firm plans in that regard yet."
"What about your yacht?" she asked.
Harry had no idea she even knew of that.
After wanting to build one to his specifications. Ted had done his homework and strongly recommended he purchase one second-hand.
'After all,' he'd wrote, 'You might find living on the water not to be your cup of tea. A pre-built yacht of similar dimensions to what you want will allow you to explore the idea with nowhere near the financial outlay.'
Harry could see the wisdom of that and wrote back that such a yacht currently on the market would 'do'. However, it's electronics and the like would need to be hardened against magic. Therefore, whatever was purchased would need to be stripped down with the intention of setting up null magic areas around the electrical and electronic systems.
Ted was currently working on that. He'd already found an 'Enchanter' in America who claimed some level of skill in warding electrical equipment against magical energy interference. He had now been contacted and had already stated he needed full access to the electronics and electrical equipment and Harry used that stated need as an excuse to update the systems on whatever yacht was bought.
"I have no idea how long it's going to take to find the one I want to purchase, or for the enchanter to get in and ward the electricals once it's purchased," he replied to CeeCee. "However, I can see it being found, purchased and updated well before we sit out NEWTs. So, we'll probably be spending a lot of time on it almost straight after exams.
"However, that does not mean we'll be on it all the time. I fully intend for us Potters to pay a visit to Perth sometime within the year after our NEWTs. We'll just have to time it to be while you're also at home with your parents.
On the Thursday, first of September, the Potter four minus Fleur, together with CeeCee, portkeyed to the station at Kings Cross more than half an hour before the train departed. They were escorted by Narcissa and Sirius.
As soon as they arrived, Harry and Sirius looked for and found two vacant compartments side-by-side and immediately set-to with combining them into one large one.
However, instead of just putting a door through the adjoining wall, they removed the doorway, plus the wall above the 'middle' seat except for the luggage racks. That way it looked like one compartment and they could speak over the back-to-back seating in the middle if they wanted.
Once they'd done that, Narcissa stepped forward and transfigured the décor of the combined compartment into something quite a bit nicer. Once she'd finished Harry thought it looked like something you might find on a restored luxury train from some time about sixty years earlier. It looked great.
He gave a low whistle and said, "You do nice work, Cousin Cissy."
"Thank you," she replied, pleased. "Transfiguration was my forte subject at Hogwarts. I picked up an Outstanding plus in the subject."
"Don't forget to remind everyone not to use finites in the compartment during the trip, but to finite the entire thing once you arrive at Hogsmeade, Pup," warned his godfather.
Harry nodded and replied, "Will do."
He hadn't thought of that risk the previous year, but no one had cast a finite, anyway.
As people started arriving, Harry was pleased to see Justin was one of the first. So, he and Harry were the first to start carrying trunks onto the train. He hadn't even made a start on carrying onboard his own and his ladies, let alone CeeCee's, before the other boy arrived.
Accompanied by his parents, Neville arrived with his two only a couple minutes later and was quick to jump in and give a hand.
It was all done so quickly they had plenty of time before the train even looked like leaving the station. Hell, about a third of students had yet to even arrive; especially the snotty purebloods.
Harry used the opportunity to speak with the Earl of Bedford, Justin's father, and thank him for recognising the need to protect both Tracey and CeeCee and allowing Justin to fill that need.
"I may be what you call a muggle, Lord Potter," the man smiled. "However, I am not... as I've heard you are wont to say... a daft moron."
Harry gave a slight snort of amusement. "It has been clear to me since my first year at Hogwarts that muggles are far less likely to be daft morons as magicals. I think it just might have something to do with how there is something in magic that lowers one's ability to apply critical thinking and rational thought."
The earl grinned back and quietly said, "That has been my view for almost as long."
Harry gave a slight nod in agreement and said, "Nevertheless, thank you for allowing Justin to fill the need."
The earl gave his own nod before he said, "I am coming to understand that, once both ladies reach their own adulthoods, they will not be seeking to terminate the agreements. And neither will young Justin.
"Besides, we are quite taken with both ladies. And believe both love and cherish our boy, irrespective of the title of which he will one day attain. They are good for him."
Harry gave a quiet sigh and said, "I figured as much. However, the difficulty of such a... blended relationship in relation to the muggle world though..."
"Indeed," said the earl. "We'll figure something out, I'm sure. After all, there is two years before it will become an issue."
The train ride to the school was quite peaceful. And the eleven travelling teens, Ernie had joined them again, enjoyed the quiet.
They arrived at the school to see Professor Senkinhall calling for the first years to join him. He was even using Hagrid's old ten foot pole with its hanging lantern as a rallying point for all the little firsties. However, the lantern was glowing with a bright blue light. Harry quickly figured out the professor was using a bluebell flame charm, rather than a muggle oil lamp and wick, as the light only gave little flickers in the very light breeze. Thankfully, it was not also a rainy evening.
When they arrived at the school, Fleur was already there and waiting for them on the steps leading in through the main doors. As a work day she had to be at Gringotts until almost six. Then she'd flooed to the apartment, donned a cloak and walked down to wait for them as they arrived a little over an hour later.
"Good trip?" she asked, as soon as she saw them.
"Yes," they replied.
Harry added, "No one bothered us in the slightest. I now find the trip to be quite enjoyable, unlike my first three and a half years."
As they walked in, Harry was shocked almost immediately. Sitting at the Head Table was Remus. A moment later, Remus spotted him and smirked.
"What... the hell?" he quietly said.
Fleur, who was walking alongside him, said, "Remus is temporarily the new Professor of History. It is a surprise, no?"
"Yes," he muttered.
The Sorting started with Professor Vector dropping the Hat onto the head of a Melinda Bobbin, who headed for Ravenclaw, and ended with a Lancelot Ysabel, who headed for Slytherin.
After getting over the shock of seeing Remus sitting at the Head Table - with Fleur sitting at the same end, this year - while waiting for the new Headmaster to give his opening address, Harry looked to see if there were any other changes to staffing. Other than the leaving of Lady Marchbanks, her being replaced by Goodstone, he being replaced by Vector as Deputy and the addition of Remus, everyone looked to be the same as the previous year. That was confirmed when Goodstone began to give his opening announcements. Unlike Dumbledore and like Marchbanks, Goodstone used the eagle lectern to speak.
"For our new students, welcome; for our returning students, welcome back," he began. "For those who do not know me... that would be our new First Years... I am Professor Ebenezer Goodstone, Headmaster of Hogwarts. I ascended to the post on the retirement of Headmistress Lady Marchbanks at the Leaving Feast last year.
"Taking on my old role of Deputy is Deputy Headmistress Professor Septima Vector, a long term resident professor of the school. And, at least for the time being, we have a new addition to staff, Professor Remus Lupin..."
Remus stood and bowed to the four tables as they applauded, as per tradition.
"For those of you who were students here in the 1993/94 school year, you would fondly remember Professor Lupin when he spent almost a year here as the Professor of Defence Against the Dark Arts. Temporarily at least, Professor Lupin, who holds a Mastery in History of Magic, will be our History Professor."
The Headmaster turned a wry smirk on Remus before he turned back and said, "I'm trying to convince Professor Lupin to consider remaining as a permanent member of staff. Perhaps you may be able to assist me with that."
The Headmaster then went over a few of the minor rules, including how magic was not to be cast anywhere outside the supervision of a professor. And how there was a detection charm over the entire school and grounds that would immediately alert the staff if anyone, against the rules, cast any form of magic. Then he relayed a set of exemptions, including household charms, cast in one's own dorm.
Finally, he called on the house elves to serve the feast.
There were no... 'The list of banned objects can be found tacked to Mister Filch's door', or 'The Forbidden Forest is out of bounds', or 'the third floor corridor on the left is out of bounds', or 'Dementors on Ministry business will be patrolling just outside the wards', or similar.
As soon as the food appeared on the table and the Headmaster began to return to his centre seat on the head table, Hermione immediately rounded on Harry and asked, "Did you know Remus was coming back here to teach?"
"No," he replied while loading his own plate. "It came as much of a shock to me as it obviously was to you."
While they'd been loading, CeeCee began snickering about something she held in her hands. It was clearly a once multi-folded note.
Seeing it herself, Hermione began, "CeeCee, what've you―" Then suddenly stopped, flicked a glance to Harry and turned back. "Sorry. If you don't mind me asking, what has you so amused?"
CeeCee simply refolded the note once and passed it to Hermione.
Glancing over as his betrothed opened it, Harry recognised Sirius's untidy scrawl.
Hermione's expression turned to a 'woe is me' expression before she passed it to Harry and looked to CeeCee. I certainly hope you're not going to allow your reprobate of a magical half-guardian to convince you to prank Professor Lupin."
CeeCee just looked back with an expression of pure innocence. It fooled no one.
With a sigh, Hermione said, "Just... don't hurt him, don't do anything to him that lands him in the hospital wing and don't get caught."
CeeCee grinned back.
Harry looked to the note:
~ # ~
If you kept your promise, by the time you read this note you've already found out your 'Uncle Remus' is now a professor at Hogwarts. Just so you know, it was all his idea you not be told before the Welcoming Feast.
I strongly recommend you prank his mangy bum for the trick. If you check in your trunk you'll find I slipped in some pranking material that may come in handy. Just be aware, he's likely expecting it.
~ # ~
With an amused chuckle, Harry folded the note back up and passed it back.
After the feast the Heirs all headed up to the Lords' Quarters with a couple of them, including Harry, shocked they'd completely forgotten that Warrington in apartment '1' and Gibberd and Whitehead of apartment '3' would not be attending this year. They'd all completed their NEWTs the previous year. However, they still had Marcus Belby in apartment '2' and David Urquhart and Pamela Alton in apartment '4'. And now Belby had been joined by a Diane Carter, Seventh Year Slytherin, under betrothal. Belby had apparently opted to remain in his single bedroom apartment, rather than move into one of the two bedroom apartments further along.
Tracey found out a few days later Carter wasn't given the option to move in or whether or not she wanted to share a single bedroom apartment with Belby. As per the betrothal contract, no escape clauses, Belby demanded it and her compliance. Bastard.
Hermione, once she heard, glared at Harry and said, "I want those contracts gone, Harry."
Harry sighed and replied, "As do I. However, people are already and still incensed about the Bloodline Protection statute promoted by the Tapestry Circle and shepherded by Sirius into law. You're going to need to give us time to let things cool down again, before I can then start doing something about those contracts. I need time, Hermione."
"He's right," said Daphne. "If he tries too soon, he'll fail. Then the chances of it passing at a later date will be reduced."
Hermione gave a pained sigh and said, "I know. But... just the fact they exist and witches are being trapped by them..."
"Understood," said Harry. Then he added, "I don't know when I'm going to be able to do something about them; however, they're definitely on my political agenda. I promised you I'd do something about them, but we have to patient until the right time comes along.
"However, it would be a bit too hypocritical of me to start promoting their removal, just yet, when we have made good use of the fact they exist to protect others."
"We've only used them to protect others because of the risk they could've been used against us in the first place," she argued back.
"There would have been no need to use them to protect others if they didn't exist in the first place," she grumped. "As such, your argument is somewhat specious."
He could see the wisdom of that, so just nodded.