Harry's mind was racing. To get rid of the marriage contracts was simple: the Goblins. They feared and respected Nyarlathotep enough to basically tear them up, as they kept the various marriage contracts and wills of Magical Britain on file.
But here he was, having Daphne Greengrass offer herself to him. The words may not have quite been there, but it seemed to be in her tone. That was more than a little disturbing, to say the least. There were a few good reasons why. One, he barely knew her. Two, he already had Hermione as a girlfriend. Three, although she was apparently genuine in her request, Harry's experience with Malfoy's inner circle, not to mention Snape and the Death Eaters, made him understandably wary of any Slytherin.
It was then that Hermione's voice came through. Harry, you can trust her. I've had lessons with Daphne. She is a friend. Remember when I set up SPEW last year? I had been frustrated when I heard about Daphne and her sister possibly being sold into marriage by her father, and I transferred it to the House Elves.
But you're okay with this? Harry asked, disturbed.
Not wholly, but…one, it's really part of what you are now. Two…she's a friend. Your mother may want to set you up with a harem…
Curses! Lily laughed. My evil plan has been revealed!
…But I want us to have a strong relationship, so…
I understand, Hermione, Harry said. I want to have a harem as much as you want me to, I'm sure.
Thanks, Hermione said, her smile evident even through the mental link. But…Daphne, I'm willing to share with, if only to help her.
So, how are we going to do this? Harry asked. What role should she have?
Hermione hummed, before she mused, Well, as I'm High Priestess, maybe she can be my verger?
Great idea! Lily cheered. Only with more sex than most ecclesiastical organisations! You'd better recruit Daphne now, though. She's wondering why you're being so silent.
Harry looked at the blonde, and did notice that her expression seemed to contain a mixture of apprehension and irritation. So, using his disguised voice, he said, "Rise."
Daphne got to her feet, and then looked at Harry. "Tell me," Harry continued, "does your father know about this?"
After a moment's hesitation, she nodded. "He tried to dissuade me. But he is also as eager to go through with allowing this marriage contract to go through as I am. Not that that meant much, as the Dark Lord appeared before us, and made it very clear that we would be wed to the children of his peons. 'You have either that future, or no future at all', he had said. In truth, he desires control of our fortune and our connections in the Wizengamot, to strengthen his position before he makes himself publicly known."
"And if I were to annul your contracts, and take you into hiding, what would your father do?"
"As long as Tori and I are safe, he wouldn't care, even if he were killed by the Dark Lord."
Harry chuckled, even as he admired the resolve of Daphne's father, a man willing to sacrifice his life to thwart Voldemort as long as his daughters were safe. "The Dark Lord. He calls himself Lord Voldemort, styles himself as the purest of Purebloods…but did you know he was actually sired by a Muggle father?"
Judging by her widening eyes, she didn't. Indeed, she was now doing a very creditable impression of the Innsmouth Look…if it was possible to still look beautiful with a wide mouth and bulging eyes. "What?!"
"Oh yes. His true name is Tom Marvolo Riddle Junior. In fact, he derived his current name from an anagram. Tom Marvolo Riddle, when rearranged, spells 'I am Lord Voldemort'," Harry said.
He could see the gears turning in her head, despite her expression of shock. She seemed about to ask how he knew, before apparently deciding that asking an Outer God this might be silly. Or be construed as insolent. And one thing she didn't want to do was piss off an entity that could flay her mind.
"So, instead of being sold like cattle into the service of Voldemort, you wish to sell yourself into my service?" he asked. He found the whole concept disturbing. Okay, he pranked Hermione with it, but she had been willing to when she realised who he was. Daphne, however, was a virtual stranger, and she was willing to sell herself, effectively, to the service of an ancient entity.
"Yes, and don't think I don't understand the irony of the situation," Daphne muttered, before wincing, realising that she had been rude to an emissary of Nyarlathotep.
Harry merely chuckled. "Oh, it's going to be even more ironic, Daphne Greengrass. Very well. I accept your proposal. You shall be verger to my High Priestess."
Daphne seemed startled and bemused. "Excuse me?"
"You're excused. Bring your sister with you. She will be safer with us. Relatively speaking. Bring whatever you need as well."
Daphne blinked, before she scurried out of the door. Harry only had to wait a few minutes before she came back in, holding the hand of her younger sister, and some bags and a shrunken trunk. He would later learn she had prepared for this for a long time. She took his hand with some trepidation, but little hesitation. "Let's go."
Once they were back home, Daphne and a sleepy Astoria looked around, confused. They were expecting something significantly less mundane than a living room with MC Escher architecture. "Huh," she said, a little flatly. "This is…strange. Not what I was expecting."
"I'm sure it wasn't. And speaking of the unexpected…" Harry began, before flipping his hood off his head. "Surprise!"
Daphne and Astoria stared at Harry's features. Astoria blinked the sleep from her eyes, and then looked at a dumbfounded Daphne. "Daphne, are you sure you performed the ritual correctly?"
"…I don't know," Daphne said quietly. "I mean, I was absolutely certain that I did it properly, and yet…" She then looked up at Harry, her blue eyes now icy and hard. "Potter, how did you end up as the emissary to Nyarlathotep? Always assuming, of course, that this is not a delusion or some prank Granger or one of those vulgar Weasley twins set up."
"Oh, I ended up as the Crawling Chaos' emissary in much the same way as anyone gets anywhere in Magical Britain," Harry snarked. "Nepotism."
A peal of laughter heralded the arrival of his mother, walking through the door. "Oh, that's a good one, dear!" she cackled, before turning to the Greengrass sisters. "And it's doubly funny because it's true. Greetings! I am the Crawling Chaos, Nyarlathotep! Known most recently as Lily Evans, so…does that make me Lilylathotep? Yes, I know, I look good for being…strange aeons old. I moisturize."
Daphne and Astoria were staring at Lily, before the younger Greengrass sister muttered, "I'm going to sleep." She wandered over to a lounge and flopped onto it. "Wake me when this weird dream is over…" she murmured, before she began snoring softly.
"Yeah, she's going to wake up and find reality to be a cruel prank," Lily remarked with a careless shrug.
Daphne, to her credit, recovered quickly. Gathering her reserves of haughtiness, she said, "I do not believe you."
"Even though I'm well-known as a shapeshifter?" Lily suddenly changed into a tall, powerfully built dark-skinned man. "Would you prefer this?" she…well, he asked in a deep, sonorous voice. And then, Nyarlathotep changed into…something. A hideous conglomeration of tentacles, eyes, and mouths. "OR WouLD You pReFEr this?" it asked, in a voice that was not even remotely human.
Daphne's eyes widened. She immediately went down on her hands and knees. Nyarlathotep promptly shifted back to Lily. "Hey, hey, get off the floor, you'll get your robes dirty," Lily said. "As amusing as it is to see my followers genuflecting, you're here in my home. You made a deal with my son, and I'm not going to let Voldemort hurt you if I can help it."
Daphne stared at Lily as the redheaded eldritch abomination helped her to her feet. "So…Harry Potter is…"
"Yep. One of mine. Just keep in mind, you have Hermione to thank for allowing you to go through with this deal," Lily said.
"I see. I'm sorry we have not met before through Hermione," Daphne said, turning to face Harry. "But given the rather rabid anti-Slytherin sentiments of the Gryffindors, especially the Weasleys, I doubt we could have. Though You Know Who and the actions of Malfoy and his little court haven't helped, I'm sure."
"As long as you're not a Death Eater, or going to say crap about Muggleborns, I don't care," Harry said. "Would there be any others who I could be friends with?"
"The list is pretty short thanks to Malfoy," Daphne said. "I have a friend, Tracey Davis, and there's Blaise Zabini, and a few others, mostly from the lower years, including my sister. I'm surprised that you even considered the concept of a Slytherin friend."
"My mother is the Crawling Chaos, and Hermione's vouched for you. I've got to be a little more open-minded after all that. Besides, it's partly Malfoy's fault I didn't go into Slytherin in the first place, with the way he acted when I met him before the Sorting. The Sorting Hat actually suggested I'd do well in Slytherin."
"Given how Snape treats you, I doubt it," Daphne remarked. "And there are a lot of Death Eaters' children who'd push you around. And even those who aren't are generally children of old families, many of which have a lot of money, political connections, or both. They'd have either seen you as a threat or an asset to exploit, for the most part. Even I would have." She gave an amused scoff. "As you said, Magical Britain runs on nepotism, on family connections or favours…or on money, and Slytherin even more so. I'd imagine Salazar would be turning in his grave."
"I knew him, and I can honestly say he would be," Lily said cheerfully. "Actually, I can go dig up his cadaver and bring it back to life if you want to confirm it." A shovel appeared in her hands in a flurry of sparkles. "A little bit of graverobbing is good physical exercise, after all. Of course, so is filling graves, and I can foresee a lot of that in the near-future. Wizards and witches don't do enough of that, I feel."
"Graverobbing?" Harry asked.
"Well, yes, but I meant physical exercise," Lily said. "It's all spells and House Elves, and they have potions to prevent many effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Though to be fair, casting magic does consume calories. It just doesn't help with physical strength. Sooo…do either of you want me to dig up Salazar's corpse?"
"No," Harry and Daphne chorused, causing Lily to pout.
"You're no fun. Okay, well, let's get on with institutionalising…I mean, instituting Daphne as a verger." Lily straightened up, becoming a little more serious. "I ordain thee, Daphne Ophelia Greengrass, as the verger of my son, Harry James Potter, yet to have an unpronounceable name. Still working on that. It's more than just picking out random syllables that sound like someone gargling gravel, no matter what Howard thought."
"…That ruined the moment," Daphne said flatly.
"She does that," Harry said.
"Hey, I'm the Crawling Chaos. My thought processes tend to be a little chaotic at times," Lily said. Her features softened, and she gently hugged Daphne. "I'll go to Gringotts before long, get the Goblins to deal with the contract. Welcome to the family," she said softly.
Harry saw how Daphne relaxed, her eyes glistening suspiciously. Tears not of fear or sorrow, but of hope and relief. The mask of the Ice Queen had already proved to be such, a mask, but he was glad to see behind it. Truth be told, he wished he had gotten to know her sooner.
Still, he hoped he could help her. He hoped he could help everyone he could, everyone who deserved it.
Voldemort rarely slept nowadays, so he was present when the copies he had of the marriage contracts between the Greengrass girls and his peons' sons flared with magical light, and then were consumed by flames. Even as his fury and anger threatened to overwhelm him, he knew better than to go charging into Gringotts, even though that was where the contracts would have been terminated from. He was still trying to stay under the radar for now, allow the Ministry to weaken itself through his agents before he made his move in earnest, and attacking the Goblins without enough men would be suicide anyway. Those subhuman creatures were still fierce warriors.
So, instead, he Apparated to Cyrus Greengrass' manor, alone, to find the man still awake in his study, nursing a tumbler of brandy. Lord Greengrass, rather insolently, remarked "I expected your arrival, but in future, Voldemort, kindly knock."
Voldemort sat down opposite Cyrus, allowing the blonde man to play his insipid little game. "I am the most powerful wizard in the world. I refuse to knock. Now, what did you do to the marriage contracts? After all, you just robbed your family of a future."
Cyrus had the temerity to laugh. "I did nothing. Though if what I suspect Daphne to have done is correct, I have just assured my family's future!"
As tempting as it was to cast a Cruciatus and be done with it, Voldemort wanted information. And as a master Legilimens, he could get it with ease. So he tore into Cyrus' mind, trying to find it, only to realise that the man was more canny than he thought, a brilliant Occlumens. It was aggravating more than admirable, but the admiration, reluctant though it was, was there. In the process, he was going to cause enough damage to Greengrass' mind to effectively cause a stroke. Out of spite for thwarting him. He would have preferred a round of a Cruciatus Curse, followed up by a Killing Curse, but he was pressed for time, and wanted to avoid leaving any evidence of his presence.
The only thing he got out of Greengrass' mind, though, was that his eldest had tried to summon an eldritch entity. You little imbecile, Voldemort sneered inwardly. You'll wish to have been married to Malfoy's spawn by the time it's done with you.
He tore Greengrass' mind apart from the inside out. He remembered a memory that he had gleaned from Quirrell's mind back when he was possessing him, of a movie called Alien, of a monster tearing out of a man who resembled a younger Ollivander's chest(1). It felt like he was doing that to Greengrass' mind.
And after he was done, Greengrass was slumped in his chair, a darkening patch at his groin showing that death had given him one last indignity. Voldemort then decided to loot the place, before torching the place. No Dark Mark, just an unfortunate accident where Greengrass had a stroke, and a log rolled out of the fireplace.
Still, a small part of him worried. Because if Greengrass' whelps had managed to gain the favour of an Outer God, unlikely though that was, it might be difficult. But he had that contract with Yig, a contract that, thanks to the Horcruxes, he wouldn't ever have to fulfil.
CHAPTER 8 ANNOTATIONS:
Oh dear. Well, we've got Daphne being brought into the fold, and Voldemort having a hissy fit.
Review-answering time! I didn't know the thing I quoted from Gregg Landsman's work was actually a paraphrase of a Warhammer 40K phrase. I'll be honest, my only familiarity with that franchise is with the Ciaphas Cain novels.
DZ2: Nah, Lily isn't quite that evil to inflict that on her son…yet. Seriously, as much as I love the song, I think it's been ridiculously overused.
Blackholelord: Another crossover with High School DxD by me is on the cards, but it's having a rather troubled genesis, and it won't have that plot.
DustBunnyQueen: That was the joke. It basically had Lilylathotep trolling the hell out of Disneyland…but doing something nice for the poor bastards stuck in the costumes.
1. Ollivander and the Xenomorphs' first victim (in terms of cinematic release) Kane are, of course, both played by the late, great John Hurt.