I can't draw, and I'm not British.
Hey everybody. While it is being posted on the last day of the month, this story won the small story poll. I wanted to have a lot of this in the last chapter, but time constraints and a few scenes taking longer pushed it back. Still, I think it is a good final segue chapter before heading into the Egypt arc.
Thanks go to Nad Destroyer for looking this over for me. Between him and my own use of Grammarly, I think we were able to catch most of my mistakes.
Edit 1/5/21: Morde24 has also looked this over for me now, removing several inconsistencies and cut off sentences I had previously missed.
Chapter 22: Of Parties and Wives
As he prepared to teleport them through, Harry paused, feeling out the Undertaking, seeing the connections between Danan and Earth. With his mind connected into the Undertaking, Harry made certain that the time scale from Danan to Earth was set one to one. It honestly felt like he was simply mentally changing a clock almost while holding onto a rope that was, in some fashion, connected to the clock.
Coming out at the other side, at the Hill of Tara, Harry explained the process to Rias shaking his head as they walked on, a minor illusion spell falling away from them as they moved to join a group of tourists. "It's so strange, but that kind of time difference is literally built into the Undertaking. It's the fairies greatest addition, I think, and probably their most significant."
"Still amazing though," Rias answered, biting back a second evil cackle while contemplating what a giant, world-sized Time-turner could mean for them. The armor Kala's creating, the runic work that she, Akeno, and Tsubaki are working on, the new projects Sona and I have been contemplating, integrating the dwarves into…
Rias came back to herself as Harry's mouth covered hers in a kiss, only realizing as he did so that she had indeed been cackling again. "Keep your evil Overlord tendencies to yourself, love," he murmured, pulling back slightly to wink at her.
Nodding, Rias nuzzled into his side as the two of them walked on, ignoring the snickering and looks from the tourists. The moment they could break away from the crowd, another illusion charm covered them, and Rias teleported them back to their hotel room. From there, they headed down to the car. However, instead of driving, Harry created an illusion once more of their car leaving, before shrinking the car again. The two would then travel back to London via a portkey to the Black mansion.
After getting untangled from where they had fallen in the foyer from the portkey, Rias dusted herself down and looked at Harry. "So, beyond returning the car, we need to go shopping again in London."
Harry looked at Rias askance as he got to his feet again. "Shopping, really?"
"Really," Rias nodded firmly. "First, I'll need to buy enough food to serve as a show of good faith as part of our side of the agreement with the dwarves. While the leprechauns may be willing to take our word for it, those short-stacked skinflint's won't put hammer to anvil without some kind of remuneration first. That party we had before we left to explore Danan only whet their appetites and ate through most of the supplies I already bought. Shopping for the fairies and leprechauns are easy enough, just buy enough different types of clothing. Eventually, I'll work through the Underworld for more food, but we'll need some more to start with."
With a smile, she held out a list. "I'd also like you to go shopping in the magical world as well. There are a few items and a lot of books I want copies of. On top of the expanded trunk I already bought."
Harry nodded thoughtfully, putting that together with an idea of his own as the two walked out of the mansion. "Split the foodstuffs in two. You can buy more seeds, plants and so forth. I'll buy the actual food. We'll need to wait for you to work with the Underworld for the food animals, though. Even if I went to the goblins, that wouldn't be a fast process."
As Rias obligingly split her list, Harry took out the car from his pocket, enlarged it, and then began to remove the various spells from it since they couldn't leave the enchantments they'd placed on the car as it was. Harry did not want to create another monster like the Weasley's Ford Anglia.
Harry and Loup had talked about it and decided that, while the SUV had worked, they needed a more purposed off-road vehicle for their permanent ride in Danan and elsewhere. Indeed, Loup felt they might need two cars: one for moving around Japan, and one for Danan. Something Harry was still thinking about.
That process only took about thirty minutes, and after that, Harry went shopping for the things on Rias's list, using an illusion to hide his eyes and scar. Harry didn't want to deal with the hero-worship, the fear or the Ministry wondering why he had yet to leave the country. And on top of the things Rias had wanted, Harry nearly cleaned out Fortescue of gallon-sized containers. After all, one could never have enough ice cream, and Harry figured it would be a treat for the Fae.
With that done, Harry went to Gringotts, and tamping down his now chilly anger towards the goblins, visited the Black and Potter Family Vaults before setting out on his own little mission. Doing so, he used a portkey back to the Hill of Tara, covered in his Invisibility Cloak. There he teleported straight to one of the receiving stones in Tir Na Nog instead of the one Harry had moved down to the island. This was the one nearest to the destroyed capital city of the Summer Fae, and soon, Harry's presence was noticed by the Fairies, who were slowly moving back into their ruined city.
Luna came out to him then, looking a little frazzled. "Oh, it's you. Do you know how annoying it is to sit in on meetings with immortal fairies and fairly mortal dwarves and leprechauns who have looong memories and want to argue about things that are so far in the future they don't matter or so far in the past they don't matter!? And Aibell is no help at all. All she cares about are claiming her rivers, which causes more problems! 'No water mills', bah! And that's to say nothing of the returning groups that were able to leave thanks to the Swan Maidens and their ability to fly for days on end. No one here even knew about most of those, and many of the fairies who couldn't leave are resentful of both those who did and the Swan Maidens for not helping everyone equally. It's all so annoying!"
"You just repeated yourself," Harry replied mildly, wondering what Aibell had against water mills but deciding not to inquire.
"It bore repeating!" Luna growled a sight that was not for the faint of heart. It was like a bunny rabbit suddenly deciding it was a carnivore. It should be funny but…
"I am sorry for that, Luna, but you did declare yourself their last Queen's heir. However, I think I have something that can put the dwarves and leprechauns in a good mood. If you could direct me to them, please?"
Luna scowled but nodded, giving him directions to the area the two groups were concentrated in before running away as a group of blue, glowing spirits came towards her, their voices high-pitched and almost squeaky. Soon enough, Harry stood in front of a group of leprechaun clan chiefs and King Stonebreaker, who, it appeared, had made himself a crown since Harry had left Tir Na Nog. "Gentlemen, I have a few projects for your people. I want them done by this evening. I am willing to pay for that speed as well as provide materials…"
Once Harry returned to Earth via a sending stone in England this time, returning the car to the rental place was next. With all of his own jobs done, Harry spent some time at a café using the Internet to look for cars that could better match their needs. The ex-military Humvee seemed to be a good bet, but there was a car in Canada that looked even better in terms of off-road potential and existing defense. It was only in development right now, but it looked like a winner. So Harry decided to put off buying a new vehicle for the family, for now anyway.
Heading back to the Black Mansion, Harry did make a note to buy a series of larger flying carpets while in Egypt. Despite being technically part of Wizarding Britain, and therefore part of the ban on flying carpets that pertained throughout Europe, America and Russia, Egypt was still known for having a black market of the things, ostensibly sold elsewhere in the world. But Harry felt he could probably find one or two for sale, even for a known British wizard, like himself. And if they kept exploring Danan, the larger flying carpets would be a major help if they ran into any landmasses of any size.
An hour or so later, Harry smiled as Rias appeared in the foyer via the Gremory teleportation. "All done then?"
"Yes. I took all the magical trunks I bought last time and then filled them up completely with seeds, plants and as many examples of fruits as I could find. I tried not to completely wipe out grocery stores, but it was pretty darn close. Beyond that, the clothing was easier. Dozens of denim jeans, a few silk shirts, that kind of thing. Oh, and fashion magazines, lots of those."
Chuckling, Harry nodded and took her hand. She teleported them back to the obscure town the two of them, and the Pendragons had used to come through the first time, which overlooked a river.
At Harry's gesture, the water began to solidify, and Rias used a bounded field to hide them for a moment. Soon they were on the ship, and Harry's water teleportation was flowing up and around them. At the same time, Rias pulled out her phone, loading up the GPS on it so they would be able to find the way to Japan.
"This is going to be very quick," Harry warned. "Before we were exploring, now we have a destination in mind. I don't know how that's going to impact us here in the inner bubble."
Rias laughed and flopped out on one of the lounge chairs while the solid water of the transportation spell grew up and around the boat, engulfing it from every side. "Probably not as much as you fear if we keep the bubble fully enclosed. So full speed ahead, captain-husband," Rias teased.
They were still snickering at that as the water transportation went into effect and propelled them like a rocket through the water of the River Lee. At first, they were only moving as fast as a speedboat, the water transportation limited due to the twists and turns of the river. But soon they were out into the open water of the Celtic Sea, bursting out of Ireland by the port of Cork. Staring out through the solid water bubble, Rias gasped, seeing flickers of silver that could only be fish. They were now zooming through the water, invisible and unplottable to the outside world, just like Aibell had been in her bower or when traveling the waters of her river.
Elsewhere, all this back and forth had unexpected consequences.
This is getting annoying, Ophis thought, crossing her arms as the feeling of the new God on the planet disappeared once more before returning quickly, staring out away from the entrance to the Khaos Brigade's hidden fortress, waving away Vali and Cao-Cao's latest argument. She couldn't localize it; somewhere in Europe was the best idea she had, and even that was guesswork, really. But the feeling of the new deity seemed to ebb in and out, then disappear for a time, which was just weird even to her. But, perhaps it also means an opportunity. A God from another dimension perhaps, able to cross into this one from his own pocket dimension? He would, therefore, need to have the ability to cross the Dimensional Gap. And with that knowledge, half of my task will be accomplished.
The Great Red had kicked Ophis out of the dimensional gap, and Ophis didn't know how to get back in. Indeed, that lack of knowledge was easily the most annoying grating thing Ophis had to deal with. By this point, Ophis thought she had enough powerful people to help her to defeat the Great Red. But getting into the dimensional gap was a problem that she had yet to solve.
Ophis scowled as once more the feeling of the new God disappeared to wherever it went, shaking her head. Is it mocking me?
This was not a thought that Ophis alone was thinking, gods and similarly powerful beings mostly being possessed of overweening egos. Indeed, nearly every other God extant on Earth was thinking the same thing. Bouncing back and forth like that, flooding their senses with his presence only to up and disappear, was just plain rude. Odin, the most powerful of the few surviving Asgardians and the only one to travel freely between Earth and the Underworld where they now resided in the fourth circle, was becoming annoyed by it. And deep in his own pocket dimension of the same name, Hades was becoming concerned, wondering what it meant for those plans even as he prepared for a pair of visitors.
Only Shiva and his wife, the beautiful Parvati, goddess of Beauty, Love and Devotion, had any idea what could possibly be going on. Others such as Indra thought it was possibly a random God popping in and out of his pocket dimension.
Regardless of their opinion of where or what this new God was doing, all of them were getting a headache because of it, much like neighbors would if the house next door started playing heavy metal round the clock. A bit of information that would've caused Harry no end of annoyed was Ophis that she never even noticed the wizard Jason Maagh watching her and the others from the shadows nearby, a smirk on his face.
With Harry's powers going at full tilt, they crossed the intervening distance between Ireland and Japan, a route that even flying should've taken them a minimum of fifteen hours in about two and a half. Even better, once they arrived in Japan, there were rivers leading to Kuoh and Kyoto. Not directly, though. The one to Kyoto began as the Yodo River before becoming the Katsura and then breaking off into the Kamo River. And the minor tributary in Kuoh was part of the larger, and very troublesome, Tama River. Regardless, the way to Kuoh was easy for Harry, even though, at times, the tributary should never have been large enough for them to pass through. It seemed as if the water transportation spell shrank its users as needed while not lessening their overall speed.
"I'll meet you in Kyoto," Harry said as he hopped off the ship. The two of them had decided that it made more sense for Harry to gather the rest of their clan while Rias went to meet with Yasaka first. Her aspect of the ritual they would need to do to help Yasaka overcome her travel issues would take longer to set up, creating Gremory specialized Ankhsera runes within the runes of Ogham – which Harry had inscribed on a piece of paper -and talismans needed to contain the power of the ritual.
As Harry spoke, he felt the weight of the wards all around them, welcoming them home like a comfortable blanket draped around their shoulders, causing a faint smile to cross his face. Although, after what he had done to the island, there was a question of which place was his real home. Kuoh called out to his human side and represented a lot of what they had already accomplished. The clan's new home in Danan represented what Harry had ahead of him, what adventures awaited his family in Danan, along with his godly side.
Harry idly wondered which was stronger before shaking his head. All that matters is which place our family is inhabiting one day to the next. That's what makes it home.
Rias nodded, and between one second and the next, a circle of Ankhsera runes formed around her, and she disappeared, reappearing in the Occult Research Club's room. It was currently around midmorning in Japan, and no one was around in the clubroom at present. Kiba would rarely be on campus without actual scholastic things to take care of. Gasper had long been moved into the boy's dorm with Kiba, Issei lived with his family, and Akeno had decided to take most of her work home with her during spring break.
Rias was a little sad by that, having wanted to touch base with Akeno, Kiba, Gasper and Issei, but knew that she would see the rest of her dear family soon enough. Reaching her hands forward, Rias began to open the teleportation tunnel between Kyoto and Kuoh and stepped through.
In Kyoto, the redhead was almost instantly met by Yasaka's majordomo. There was always someone on the Youkai side available to provide transportation or help when one of the Kuoh natives came through. Although the sight of Rias did make the man blink in surprise. "Forgive me, Mistress Gremory, but I was under the impression that you were with Master Potter. In Ireland," he added hesitantly. "Um, might I ask…"
"You'll find out eventually. Right now, could you keep it a secret I'm here until I find Yasaka? I want to see her face when I show up unannounced."
The majordomo was another kitsune, an elderly man, who, although at first hesitant about his mistress's new friends and allies, had come around eventually, after seeing the good it had done for the monster association. Now he nodded, allowing Rias her joke, and gestured towards where Rias knew Yasaka and her daughter's private quarters were.
Arriving there, she knocked on the door, and hearing Yasaka answer, entered, finding Yasaka helping Kunou with a bit of her homework. At their feet, Okuri-Inu, Kunou's familiar, was already turning toward the door as Rias pushed it open while neither kitsune had looked away from Kunou's work.
"Hey, you two. Turns out the return trip wasn't nearly as long as we feared," the redhead announced blandly, causing both of them to twitch upright and scramble to their feet to stare at her before Rias spread her arms wide. "Surprise!"
That was as far as she got before Yasaka crashed into her, thumping her head solidly into Rias's breasts, the older woman so short she didn't even have to stoop to do it. Rias smiled happily and then lifted the shorter woman off the ground, twirling her around for a second before pulling her into a kiss.
Kunou laughed at this, clapping her hands and smiling at seeing Rias again after half a week. "Does this mean you all are coming home sooner than you thought?" She asked, hopefully. Despite that short a time, Kunou had not liked being separated from Harry, who she now saw as her father just like Lily did, to say nothing of missing Lily herself. Since she had moved into Kuoh to go to school, the two had never spent more than half a day away from one another, and kitsune were extremely familial-oriented.
The two women were too into their kiss to take notice of Kunou's words for a time, but eventually, Rias pulled back, smirking down at the now flushed face of Yasaka, who hadn't been expecting that amount of passion from the other woman. "Sorry. But we did mention that it's been a while since we've seen you from our perspective. Three and a half weeks, in point of fact. I just wanted to make up for lost time."
"That long?!" Yasaka gasped, then frowned. "But it hasn't…" Her frown deepened now as she worked through it, her eyes slowly lighting up with positively foxlike delight. "…If used appropriately, it could be a tremendous power multiplier."
Rias nodded in agreement. "However, right now, I believe that Harry and myself have discovered the means with which to solve your transportation issues…"
Yasaka's eyes widened, and her tail and ears both stood upright, as Kunou looked at Rias in confusion. "That can be fixed!? You mean I could have both Momma and Da, er, Harry around all the time!?" The little girl exclaimed before her mother could reply.
"Yes, we think it can. If you're willing to give us a shot," Rias added, looking at Yasaka.
Yasaka nodded firmly. "To be able to cut travel to and from here and Kuoh alone would be a tremendous boon, to be able to travel anywhere else? That would be crazy."
"In that case, let's get to work on the parts the two of us can do now. I know we have a lot to talk about, but this takes priority," Rias said brusquely before grinning. "Because if it works, oh boy, do we have a surprise in store for the two of you."
After watching Rias disappear, Harry smiled. Now, let's make a production out of this. With that, though, he transfigured his clothing to that of a tuxedo, complete with cravat and studs. Once he had finished shrinking the boat again, Harry hopped out from the small river he and Rias had followed into Kuoh and headed to a nearby flower shop. And then, ignoring the looks he was getting from the passerby, Harry walked to the former Gremory house, now the girl's dormitory. There he rang the doorbell before his face froze in consternation. Damn, should have used a Point Me spell to make sure that one of them was home! Too late now.
A moment later, he breathed a sigh of relief as he heard footsteps. Soon the door opened, and Kala stood there, staring at him in surprise. Harry smirked at her and went into a prepared spiel. "Hey sexy lady, you free to…"
That was as far as he got before Kala pulled him into a fierce hug, which Harry met with a kiss that took Kala's breath away for a moment, his tongue moving into her mouth quickly to twine with her own. But after a moment, Kala pulled back, flicking her tongue against the underside of his before pulling away, holding Harry at arms-length for a moment.
When she recovered, Kala pointed an admonitory finger at Harry. "Enough of that. We can go back to sexy-type fun when we are done talking. Don't tell me you thought the little blurb you gave us over the phone about fighting against the Winter Fae was enough! I'm a veteran too, and I can sense understatement and prevarication when I hear it. How close was it Harry?"
Harry paused a moment, thinking, giving the question the care it deserved. "There were a few close calls for all of us individually, but I don't think as a group we were in danger of defeat at any one point. The Fae were too slow to realize they had to fight us head-on rather than trick us, and even slower to realize the danger my connection to Manannán Mac Lir made me in terms of my forging a connection to the background magic of their world."
He smiled and held up a hand as Kala made to speak, her face going stern. "And before you ask, no, Asia did not run into any real danger. They did eventually cotton onto the idea of targeting our healer, but by that point, we'd already begun to create defenses around her. None of the Winter Fae ever hurt Asia or Lily, believe me."
"I do trust you, but by Father's name, I was worried. I wasn't part of the legions that attacked the Tuatha De Danan, but I heard stories about how devious they could be from those who Fell after that time. And the Fae are worse."
"'Were' worse. I think we kind of wiped out the Winter Fae. Regardless, I…" Harry corrected her gently before smiling slightly as his nose, still more sensitive than a normal man's even in his human body, smelled a distinct perfume coming up behind him. "Hello, Akeno."
Before Harry could turn around, Akeno's arms wound round his waist from behind, and two extremely soft objects pressed into the small of his back. "My my," Akeno murmured throatily as two grocery bags fell to their sides behind her, Akeno, having gone out to do some grocery shopping for her, Kala and Kiba's dinner. It was an even split of the duties she felt. Kala cooked, Akeno got the ingredients. "And who is this I have found all dressed up on my doorstep, mmm, Harry?"
Chuckling Harry turned, and put his arms around her in turn, kissing Akeno just as soundly as he did with Kala earlier. Akeno, too, was shocked at the amount of passion that Harry somehow managed to convey in that kiss. When he pulled back, Akeno looked up at him, flushed and happy, but also puzzled. "Sorry, but to me, It's been almost a month since I've seen you last," Harry admitted. "That much time apart builds up a certain amount of need."
Harry practically growled the last word, and Akeno gasped as she felt his arousal stirring against her. Normally she would have been all-too-happy to tease Harry at that, but what he said caused Akeno to pull back from their hug, shaking her head in shock at the very idea of not seeing Rias and Harry, let alone any of the others, for that long a time. "I, I can see that. You mentioned that before, but it hadn't really registered."
"Understandable," Harry sighed. "I'll fill you both in on it more than Rias and I did over the phone if you want. But while the tuxedo was for the two of you, I am here for another reason too. I want to gather all of us together to show you our clan's new secondary home."
Kala's eyebrows rose. "This I've got to hear."
"No, Kala," Harry laughed, taking her hand in his as he entered the building, passing through and out into the backyard. "This you will have to see to believe."
Teddy looked up from where he was playing a video game as Harry entered, his eyes widening. "Uncle Harry?"
'Hey, kiddo. Don't worry, your mum's fine, there's nothing wrong going on. But we are all going on a bit of a trip, so why don't you run upstairs and grab your swim trunks? I'll explain more on the way." Harry looked over at the two ladies with him, reluctantly letting his arms fall from their shoulders. "That goes for you two as well. And something you all would be happy to wear to explore a forest in or dance in as well."
All three looked intrigued at that, but Harry refused to explain more, instead asking after the other clan members.
Finding Kiba proved to be somewhat annoying since it was a training day for him and the Shinsengumi living in Kuoh, and they had gone out for an endurance run in the same park , where Harry had taken Koneko, Rias and Lily at one point. This was normally followed by a series of sparring and large-scale combat training. Kiba routinely faced several dozen Shinsengumi or worked with a team to achieve an objective by breaking through an area prepared by the other Shinsengumi with their Onmyodo-style magic. Today, Harry's return called a halt to that.
Gasper, too was somewhat difficult. Not to find, that was easy. Rather it was getting him to agree to leave the boy's dorm that was hard. He was still very much a shut-in, and without Koneko there, Harry was only able to convince him to come to the party with difficulty. But he was persistent. Harry had a feeling that the sense of joy and goodness on the island they had decided to settle would help Gasper get over his issues with being outside. However, Harry did lose the argument when it came to the box, which Gasper put over his head before leaving the house.
In contrast, getting Issei away from his parents was surprisingly easy. Apparently, Akeno had taken over tutoring him, Rias wanting to get his grades up to an acceptable level for someone that was part of her peerage. So when Akeno called and asked if he was free to study with Kiba, herself and a few other students, they were more than eager to see him off. Seeing Harry made Issei's eyes widen, and he cried mockingly. "Oh, God! It's him, the harem King is returned! There go my happy days!"
"I wouldn't call it a harem. I would call it an alternative relationship dynamic." The rest of the clan who had remained in Kuoh looked at Harry, and he shrugged. "What? It makes sense to me."
Akeno laughed, shaking her head. "I suppose it does at that," she said, kissing him fondly on the cheek, humming in pleasure as Harry put his arm around her shoulders. Either she or Kala had not been out of his arms since he had shown up at their doorstep. Both of them sensed that he needed that tactile touch after nearly a month of not seeing them. Of course, neither of them felt anything like that urgent need themselves, but they were more than willing to go along with the cuddling.
Eventually, the extended clan was together, and they made their way to the ORC clubroom to use the teleportation tunnel. Here, they found Sona waiting for them along with Tsubaki. "Potter-san. I thought I sensed your return through the wards. Might I ask if Rias is with you? I thought I sensed her as well."
Harry's shrugged nonchalantly, not answering any of the questions visible in Sona's cool look or tone. "She was here for a moment but we're not technically back just yet. I just returned to gather the rest of our clan. After that, we'll all be leaving again for a bit."
Narrowing her eyes at this bland statement, Sona asked slowly, "And where exactly are you going?"
Deciding to tease the all-too curious but controlled girl, Harry replied as banally as he could. "Well, first, we're going to go to Kyoto. There, Rias and I are going to solve Yasaka's transportation issues. After that, we are going to be crossing dimensions, and not to the Underworld either. Oh, and speaking of…"
Turning away, Harry pulled out a stone from his pocket, enlarging it so that it was about as wide across his chest, which had numerous rows of runic script on it. Setting it down on the clubroom floor, Harry then began to use a spell on the ground underneath it, causing the wooden floor to flow around the stone like water, growing up to almost grasp the stone, fixing it in that position. "That will do for now. When I return, I'll move it over to the clan compound. For now, the stone being here is more convenient. Then we can pop through from Kyoto and leave from here right away."
Sona looked at it, going so far as to kneel down in front of it, giving Issei, who was behind Harry, a look up her skirt. Ignoring the sight of Kiba lightly smacking the other boy upside the head, Sona examining the runes for a few seconds then had to bite back a groan of annoyance. Once more, the runes were in a language that she didn't know.
Standing up straight, Sona adopted a polite manner, looking at Harry thoughtfully. "Can I ask what language that is, Potter-sensei?"
"We're not in school, you know, you don't have to be so formal." Harry shook his head. "As for that language, it is Celtic, the language of the Tuatha De Danan."
"Celtic. An entirely different runic language, one thought long extinct," Sona enunciated slowly and deliberately. What is it with Potter and his people finding ancient or unknown magics!? "I see."
Akeno chuckled behind one hand, her inner sadist mildly fed by what was going on in front of her and especially enjoying the twitching of Sona's fingers, which was the equivalent of a scream of frustration for others. "You realize you are doing the equivalent of teasing her mercilessly, sensei?"
"Not you too," Harry drawled, shaking his head and looking over at Akeno.
As he did, Sona saw his expression shift and seeing the look of love, amusement, and desire there caused Sona to blush. What must it be like to be the object of such affection? She thought before shaking the idea out of her head. There was no place in her life right now for such as that, nor would there be for some time. Sona's ambitions lay in a very different direction than Harry or Rias's, where family was paramount.
"On the other hand, I know you're doing it to tease rather than out of any kind of habit or respect for authority," Harry continued to Akeno, unaware of the thoughts going through Sona's head.
"Mah, that is a base slander. But if true, how would you go about punishing me, se~n~sei~?" Akeno responded, giving Harry a sultry look.
An equally wicked smirk crossed Harry's face, pointing at Teddy and Gasper without turning away from Akeno. "Cover your ears, you two."
However, Kiba clapped his hand over at shaking his head. "No, thank you. Let us just move on. You and Akeno can continue playing later."
"Spoilsport," Akeno muttered, a pout on her lips.
"Akeno-sempai no ecchi," Gasper whispered to himself, nearly hiding behind the shorter but somewhat better built Teddy, who could only nod his head, looking away from Akeno with a blush.
Harry, too, looked a little annoyed but nodded his head to the Knight. After all, I have more serious matters to continue with. "Sorry everyone, You're right." He turned to look at Sona, an apologetic look crossing his face, but he still was wanted to tease her a bit more. "If you want to learn the language, Sona, Yubelluna or I can teach you. Until then, I'm afraid you're going to have to settle for knowing that your curiosity will eventually be fulfilled. But we're all going to be gone the rest of today and tonight."
"That's enough for now, I suppose," Sona grumbled, shaking her head then becoming wary once more. "But you said you were all heading out to Kyoto. But you wouldn't have to tell me you all would be away for the night if that was the case. What are you up to?"
"We're going to go see our second home," Harry said, very blandly. Then he grinned at Sona. "It's in a little place, on a planet called Danan."
Sona was very quick and highly intelligent and had a certain background in legends and so forth. The name of Danan still didn't mean anything to her until Harry went on. "It's quite nice, considering the next large group of neighbors are several thousand leagues away. On a little island called Tir Na Nog."
That caused Sona's eyes to widen, and with perfect timing, Harry smirked at her, stepped into the dimensional tunnel, with the rest of the Potter-Gremory clan following quickly. Some might even say they were running away. Behind him, Sona stared at the now empty room in front of her. "Did Potter-san just imply what I think he implied?"
Tsubaki slowly nodded her head, having also understood the implications. "I believe he did, yes, my King."
Looking at the floor that she and Rias had marked out for the ritual, Yasaka could only shake her head in wonder. The two of them had inscribed two circles, one smaller than the other, connected through a series of looping runes of several different languages into the stone of the floor. In one, Harry was supposed to stand, funneling his power through a smaller series of circles of Celtic runes within the larger figure-eight, which Rias had written out in the stone using a series of notes that she and Harry had made before this.
In the other, a position was prepared for Yasaka, the two points further marked out by Ankhsera runes, where Rias would be creating a teleportation tunnel, which would then be moved By Harry's divine powers. In turn, Yasaka had, with Dutugamunu's help, recreated the needed points of the original ritual that made Yasaka the Kyuubi no Kitsune and leader of the Youkai association, with which this time she would cut that connection. Yet staring at what the two of them had done in barely an hour, Yasaka knew this made that original Ritual pale in terms of complexity.
Yasaka could understand why this kind of thing it never occurred to anyone before. The mix of a blessing, a ritual, and not one but four different runic languages, was just beyond anything anyone outside of Kuoh could dream of. Indeed, until Harry and Rias started to mix magics, among other things, the very idea of so many different types of magic being used towards a single goal would've been impossible to contemplate. The nearest Yasaka knew of was the Youkai and Onmyodo government working together to hide themselves during World War 2. Or the massive Notice-Me-Not arrays that protected the Wizarding World, which had goblin, wizard, leprechaun and centaur magic involved along with other, seedier magics. But that was next to nothing in comparison that this.
"To freely travel…" Yasaka whispered, straightening up from where she had been putting the final touch to the bit of Onmyodo-style talismans on the ground. "To come and go just to Kuoh alone would've been amazing. But this is a gift beyond price!"
Suddenly losing all sense of decorum and ignoring the Elephant youkai and his disciples, Yasaka grabbed a surprised Rias, kissing the other woman hard, pulling her into a hug that threatened to literally merge their bodies it was so tight . When it was Rias, despite her Devil nature, who had to pull back to breathe, Yasaka chittered in amusement. "I see that even despite your devil heritage and growing experience with Harry, there are still some tricks you need to practice more."
Rias pouted at her, and then both women laughed. "Again, thank you for this," Yasaka said once more after they got their laughter under control. "You have no idea what this means to me."
"I might," Rias chuckled, "And I know what it means for Harry, and me, to be able to be able to spend more time with you."
"Well, yes," Yasaka flushed a little, which had only a bit to deal with Rias's hands moving to her rear and quite a bit more to do with the look in Rias's eyes as she looked down at the shorter woman. "Well, yes, although my duties to the Youkai Association won't exactly disappear even with the ability to travel anywhere I wish. Travel anywhere I wish," Yasaka murmured again before laughing wildly. "You know, when I allowed myself to be connected to the Dragon Nest as part of the ritual to become the Youkai Association's leader, I never expected to be able to travel again. The ability you and Harry's spell teleportation styles had been able to give me was a godsend. But this dammit, if I didn't already love the two of you, this would make me fall for you."
She kissed Rias again, gleefully giggling into the taller woman's lips.
This was the scene that Harry and the others arrived at. While Teddy and Gasper blushed rosily, and Akeno and Kala shared an "Ara, ara," Harry looked at the two of them and chuckled before moving forward, hugging Yasaka from behind before she had a chance to break off the kiss with Rias, pinning the short, buxom kitsune between his tall frame and Rias's own taller but still buxom form.
He started to nibble at Yasaka's neck, which he knew was one of her best erogenous zones, as he whispered, "And hello to you to my foxy lady. This was quite the view to arrive to…"
She laughed as she finally pulled away from Rias, hugging them both and whispering 'thank you' into Harry's ears.
Kala and the others all looked on in amusement at this, willing to let the trio have their moment. Dutugamunu ignored it, taking copious notes on the work going on. He was shaking his massive, tusked head in consternation. Once more, Harry, who the Elephant Youkai still thought of an amateur rather than a true Rune Master, had come up with something entirely new. Not only did Harry suddenly have access to a runic language Dutugamunu didn't know, but a way to use that language he could barely figure out, to do something that Dutugamunu would have said was impossible.
On the other hand, his disciples were less introverted and were staring at the three-way hug with undisguised awe and rising blushes . Of the others, Issei was looking on in awe and jealousy, biting at his shirt to keep from saying something that would get him hurt. Thankfully for Issei, Gasper's 'Eep!' and Teddy's shout of, "Uncle Harry jeez!" ended things for the moment.
Rias was the first to pull away, letting Yasaka and Harry hug as she rushed to her peerage. "Kiba, Gasper, Akeno! It's so good to see you!" she pulled them each into a hug, smiling at Gasper in delight and ignoring the fact he was still wearing a box on his head, despite the fact she knew Harry had given him a necklace with several spells that would hide his face and features from anyone who looked at him. "And Gasper, you're out and about. I'm so proud of you!"
Rias had a few minutes to chatter to her three peerage members, all of whom had spent enough time with Harry to get used to the idea that to Rias it had been nearly a month since they had seen one another, instead of under a week like it was for them. Meanwhile, Harry's moment with Yasaka was interrupted by Dutugamunu asking him questions about the work they were doing here. The Celtic aspect, based on the power of Harry's deific magic, was entirely new to him, and he was fascinated by the idea of learning one more runic language, just like he had been learning Ankhsera runes since the alliance with Kuoh had been created.
Then Sona arrived, her glasses gleaming dangerously as she strode out of the teleportation tunnel, marching up to and wagging a finger in Harry's face. "What do you mean Tir Na Nog!? You cannot just teleport out without giving an explanation of that one!" the normally self-controlled, coolly calculating Sona said, magic appearing all around her, as a fist of water appeared to her side. "Talk!"
Rias took one look at her friend and burst out laughing, while Akeno giggled, shaking her head as she raised a hand to hide her mouth as she did so. Behind Sona, Tsubaki and her two bishops, Momo and Reya, also appeared through the teleportation tunnel, the silver-haired girl looking around in interest but not seeing Loup anywhere.
"Calm down," Harry held up his hands in a warding gesture. "It was just a joke."
"With you, Mister Potter, I've learned that your ability to both find trouble and then make marvels is not to be denied." Sona ground out, slowly coming down. "Now, what did you mean when you dropped the name of Tir Na Nog? Surely that's a, a made-up myth of the Neo-Celtic movement."
"Well, it isn't really Tir Na Nog. Tir Na Nog's only a single island. I have access to the planet of Danan," Harry answered in a whisper, watching Dutugamunu and his disciples. While the elephant man would undoubtedly keep what he heard to himself, not being the type to gossip, his disciples would spread that secret if allowed to learn it. Something he didn't want to e common knowledge just yet.
Sona stared at him, waiting for more, and when Harry simply smirked at her, looked over at Rias for an explanation. "Please tell me he's joking. Or at the very least, tell me the story behind it!" she hissed, her own voice low in response to Harry's whispers.
That story took a while to explain, even in shorthand, and Rias took over the task of doing so as Harry turned back to the Ritual, checking on every aspect of it. Making a mistake with something like this would be disastrous and horrifying. But eventually, Sona had enough to understand. "Can I have a copy of your report to your brother? I assume that will be a full report and not redacted?"
"I'll submit two forms, one redacted for him to share if anyone asks, and the other with the full story. For now, as far as anyone else is concerned, we cleared up the issue in Ireland, and Harry got a very immense power up from it, and that's all. Anything else is our business."
"And will eventually become my business as well, if you are going to be linking Danan to the academy we are currently planning in Kuoh."
"Now, where did you get that idea?" Harry asked as he rejoined them, cocking a sardonic eyebrow at her.
Sona scowled. "While my ability to roll with the punches isn't as good as yours or Rias's, please do not attempt to insults my native intelligence."
"I promise I won't," Harry nodded, which was as much of an apology as he was going to give for his teasing of her. "After all, the first Headmistress of the Advanced Magidemia School has to have a high level of intelligence to even be considered for the job."
"You don't want to be headmaster?" Sona asked in confusion, her lips quirking at the name. Hmm, a start, I suppose, but we have time to work on that. "That was the plan, wasn't it?"
Harry shook his head inside. "With everything else I have on my plate. I really doubt that's going to be in the cards. As much as I could've wanted to just be the school headmaster, I might not have time for it. That means someone who everyone respects and has been involved in the process of creating this school from the beginning needs to step in. I'll be one of the founding fathers, but I won't be involved in the day to day running of the school."
"Hmmm… I won't say yes or no to that just yet, but on that topic, you should know that we have nearly bought out all the businesses in the area where will be putting the official edifice of the school," Sona smiled, flushing slightly, willing to talk about this project with which she was so enthused and also quite proud of the fact that Harry truly thought her intelligent enough to become headmaster. "After that, it will only be a matter of a month at worst to knock them all down and start to work on building the main school building."
That was about as far as the serious talk got before little Kunou appeared. She had been asked to wait in their room while the ritual work was going on but had come out now and raced towards Harry in glee.
Harry laughed as he picked her up, hugging her tightly. "Hey little one, I take it you missed me?"
"Yep! And I know you missed me more because it's been longer for you, right?" Kunou asked, and Harry laughed again.
"Oh, yes. I've missed you and everyone else. The better part of a month it's been since we saw one another, and that is far too long," Harry said, almost mocking himself, yet also being very clear that he did had indeed missed Kunou.
Kunou smiled happily and hugged her father around the neck as Harry turned to the others looking at Sona questioningly. "Are you and your peerage going to join us for the party?"
Thinking for a moment, Sona shook her head. "No. This should just be for you and your family. You all earned it. None of my peerage was part of this latest adventure of yours and it would feel wrong to butt in."
Harry nodded but let his eyes drift to Kiba, talking quietly to Issei, Gasper and Yasaka. "Perhaps, but I would wager that at least two of our clan would like a few of your ladies to join us…"
"True…" Sona frowned, then sighed, looking over at Kiba and then back to Tsubaki and Momo. "Very well, I will allow Tsubaki and anyone else that wishes to go to join you but I will not. Even if I had thought we had earned a party, one King must remain in Kuoh to deal with the Devil side of things occurring here."
Nodding happily, Harry watched as Tsubaki moved over to join Kiba, and Momo left to head back to Kuoh quickly. Seeing Kiba, however, drove any interest in what the silver-haired girl was up to out of Harry's mind. "By the way, Kiba, you might be interested to know we met a young man who you might find of some interest. His name is Arthur, Arthur Pendragon. And he is a quite formidable swordsman. One of the best I've ever seen."
Kiba looked at him in interest, one eyebrow rising. "Truly? That sounds interesting. I would, of course, have to validate your words."
"You might have your chance if all goes well. But set such martial thoughts to the side for now, yeah? Today's a day for magic and for a party." Harry answered before becoming serious. "After that, Rias and I were hoping you would like to join me, Loup and a few others when we head to Egypt. Something is going on there we need to look into."
Once more, Kiba replied with a raised eyebrow, accompanying it with a nod, while back with the two Kings of Kuoh, Sona sidled up to Rias, a question on her lips. "I don't suppose…"
"I'll share what we find out. Harry and my summary of what we were doing only really scratched the surface of what Danan could mean going forward. I'm going to tell you one aspect right now, and then you are going to almost certainly pass out from the impact it could have on the tactical level."
Although she wasn't quite certain that was what she was going to ask, Sona nodded in thanks to Rias's willingness to share what they had learned, but also looked at her quizzically until Rias went on with a grin. "The Undertaking, the spellwork that connects Earth with Danan, was partially created by the Fae. And the Fae do not see time like even we immortals do. Harry can control the time difference between one world and the other."
Sona's jaw fell open as her brain went into overdrive at what that could mean, but Rias pouted, seeing that she wasn't fainting. "Darn, and here I was hoping for an anime-style collapse from you. You disappoint me, Sona-chan."
Sona flipped her the bird, and the two friends began to giggle while inside, Sona was still reeling at the idea of what this could mean. But before their conversation could go on, Harry called Rias over, setting down Kunou and sending her to stand by the side of the room Yasaka had chosen for this. It was time to start the ritual.
At Harry's gesture, Yasaka, dressed in a loose-fitting Miko outfit, moved to stand in the larger circle, as he stood in this other one, breathing in deeply and bringing out his magical aura. A second later, he concentrated it into one hand as he held it out towards her, the hand directly above a series of runes where one circle connected to the other. Yasaka did the same, their energies flowing around one another but not yet merging.
As this was going on, Rias concentrated, creating two ends of a teleportation tunnel, one end buried in the runes around Yasaka, the other one around Harry. Despite appearing there, the runes stopped them from fully forming or embedding themselves where they currently were. There were just two dimensional doorways, connected together but not yet attached to the natural world, waiting. "Ready," she whispered out.
Harry looked at Yasaka, and she closed her eyes, pulling on the power of the connection to the Dragon Nest within her magical aura. As she did, Harry allowed his power to flow into hers via the runes below them, their powers joining for a moment. In this manner, Harry slowly followed the power roaring through Yasaka from the Dragon Nest, the multiple ley lines which all came together in a snarl under Kyoto. With his experience following the web of power in Danan, Harry pushed his mind along the connection until he found the Dragon Nest itself. When that was done, he held out his hand toward Rias. "Rias…"
Nodding, Rias raised the tunnel underneath him off the ground, shrinking it and moving so that it hovered over his outstretched hand. Harry took it, his own aura reaching out, covering the swirling eddies of the Gremory teleportation spell, and then, as the others watched, that portion of the teleportation tunnel disappeared, flashing from Harry's free hand. Essentially, the tunnel's magic was held in a bubble in Harry's power, which then flowed down into the dragon's nest.
There, Harry, grimacing with the effort, let the bubble go, and nodded convulsively in Rias's direction once more. Rias, who was keeping the tunnel open, instantly completed that portion of the tunnel, embedding it into the world. The dimensional tunnel's image found itself in the magical edifice that was the Dragon nest, becoming part of it, merging and blending together.
Sweat was pouring down Harry's face as he pushed his magical powers to the limits, but they weren't done yet. At Harry's next gesture, the teleportation spell underneath Yasaka rose, while His other hand was busy, transferring another segment of the runes beneath Yasaka into her. Celtic, or rather Ogham, runes appeared flowing up Yasaka's legs to her chest, creating a line of runes between her breasts before spreading like the boughs of a tree along either side of Yasaka's collarbone. They glowed through her white dress, so bright that everyone could see every single line of the Ogham runes, each of them in turn made to look like a different tree. Then under Harry's direction, they started to fade, joining with her body on a purely magical level that no longer needed the runes to guide them.
This was not a painless process. Indeed, it was quite painful, and Yasaka ground her teeth against the pain, staying still and holding onto Harry's arms, even as her grip tightened to the point of causing Harry pain in turn. Now it was nearly finished, and she was almost willing Harry to let go of her.
But Harry wouldn't. This had to be done right or not at all. He looked over at Rias, nodding his head to, and she nodded in turn, once more handing over control of the shrunken dimensional tunnel which disappeared into Harry's magic as his eyes blazed golden. A second later, Harry whispered, "Now, Yasaka!"
Grimacing, Yasaka slowly closed her powers, cutting off the connection between herself and the Dragon nest. She worked her way through the ceremony, which cut her off from them, which was simply reversing the ritual which had allowed her to become the Kyuubi no Kitsune in the first place. Again this was not a painless process, and tears of pain wound down from Yasaka's eyes.
And as Yasaka cut herself off from the Dragon Nest in one way, Harry could sense the dimensional tunnel within Yasaka and within the Dragon Nest taking over from her old connection. Simultaneously Yasaka gasped, her eyes opening in shock. "I can feel it!" she shouted, "I'm still connected! It's worked!"
Harry breathed out a sigh of relief and slowly pulled his own power out from within Yasaka's body, stepping back unsteadily before shaking his head and getting control of himself. That was tough, he reflected. Like writing an essay with one hand while lifting a hundred kilo weight with the other. Glancing at the clock, Harry was astonished to see that only about fifteen minutes had passed. It felt like a hell of a lot longer to him.
Yasaka, too was swaying drunkenly unused to concentrating her power inward like that. Underneath them, the runes across the floor had all whited out, each segment of the ritual burning itself out as the ritual went on. The segments to fade were the talismans around the edge, keeping the power of the ritual within their barrier.
The moment they did, Rias was across them, taking Yasaka into her arms, holding the shorter woman against herself. For a moment, all three of them were frozen, as the two in the center of the ritual got their breath back, everyone else looking on in concern and worry, until Yasaka slowly nodded her head, indicating she had recovered, and Rias smiled. "Do you want to try it out?"
"Well, the aspect of replacing the pre-existing connection certainly worked. So yes, I think it's time to test out whether or not the rest of this will work as intended," Yasaka said, moving slightly away from Rias and smiling at her daughter.
Kunou raced forward, but Harry plucked her up before she could reach her mother. Moving to join Rias and Yasaka, he put his other arm around Yasaka's waist, nodding to Rias, who quickly opened the dimensional door to Kuoh, through which everyone present passed through, heading back to the academy.
Once there, everyone, even Issei, who only had a vague understanding of the magic, looked at Yasaka with worry. They were all silent as they did, watching and waiting, until the young pervert shouted out, "Well, are you feeling any pain!? Don't leave us in suspense!"
Before anyone could take the younger man to task for his lack of tact, Yasaka chittered loudly, pulled Harry down into a kiss that curled his toes and then did the same to Rias, before grabbing up her daughter and dancing around the group, shouting out "It worked, it worked!"
While everyone else cheered or laughed in relief (or stared in the case of Issei at the sheer hotness of what he'd just seen), Harry said with a laugh, as he moved over to the sending stone. Sending his mind into the Undertaking was easy now, and he did so quickly. Soon enough, the white fog appeared, circling in the air of the ORC's clubroom. "In that case, we have a party to get to."
He looked over at Sona while Rias started to lead the others of their clan through. The Sitri heiress had been joined by Momo, Suzaku Himejima, who was talking quietly to Akeno, Tomoe and Tsubasa. Ruruko, Issei's ex-girlfriend, was noticeably absent.
"Are you sure you don't want to join us?"
"Positive," Sona smiled wryly, shaking her head. "It's not like my peerage won't be represented, after all."
Harry chuckled at that, while Issei breathed a sigh of relief for many different reasons. Then as Harry shouted at him to get moving, he followed the rest of his friends through the portal, eager to see this new world.
At the same time that Harry and the others were returning to Danan for the party, Sirzechs and his wife were in Greece with the rest of his peerage waiting to be called in. Grayfia cocked her head thoughtfully as they stood, well out of the way of normal humans yet still with a small bounded field around them, to hide the duo from the prying eyes of normal people. "I sense something here, true, although it is very faint, almost too faint for me to want to rely upon. Are you getting anything more?"
Sirzechs frowned thoughtfully. "No, just a vague sense of deific power somewhere nearby. It feels almost like… like light shining around a corridor or under a closed door. A hint of something, but what is up to debate."
The two of them were on the island of Milos at the moment. As part of her initial report about dealing with the goblins, Rias had passed over quite a bit of the information that Harry had been given about what was going on in Greece to connect it to Hades being alive. The Wizarding World was extremely good at covering up its own issues, hiding magic from the non-magicals, keeping to themselves and so forth. To the point that even as a Maou with all the world-wide contacts that entailed, Sirzechs only had second-hand information and agents within their world. However, coupling Rias's information with a few missed sightings here and there of magical combat, as well as the disappearance of the local Devil House's members – not a Pillar House but still a significant House – had brought them to this island.
Grayfia frowned, looking over at her husband. "Can we triangulate the point, perhaps?"
He nodded, and with a gesture, a large gryphon appeared, popping out from the Gremory House where he was kept waiting for Sirzechs' command. "We require a ride, my old friend," he said, pulling himself up into the saddle the gryphon was wearing. Grayfia pulled herself up after him, hugging him from the back in a way that pressed her chest into his shoulders, causing him to burst out into lascivious giggles, only half of which was fake. He really was that much of a horn dog for his wife.
Grayfia, however, smacked him upside the head lightly. "Enough. Fun times after work times, my Lord Husband."
Even that little joke was beyond what Grayfia would allow herself normally and certainly around anyone else. But Sirzechs took it in good stride, urging his gryphon familiar into the air.
They flew all around the island, figuring out where they could feel magical power strongest and then narrowing it down slowly to one of the mountainous points. As they did, Sirzechs shook his head, thinking that even deities could learn a few things from the wizards regarding how to hide their power. Then again, hiding isn't something most deities would be willing to do. They are normally too prideful. Makes the fact that Odin was able to convince even a few of his fellow Asgardians to run and hide in Hell even more impressive.
At the memory of what they were here to find, Sirzechs gestured to one side. A Teleportation circle appeared there, and soon enough, Sirzechs' complete peerage was here. "Gentlemen, we know what we are here to find. Be careful, be on the lookout for traps and unusual magics, and watch each other's back. From here on, we are in enemy territory."
His peerage, veterans among veterans, all nodded as one, and the swordsman Souji Okita, who was the only Knight in the Underworld worth two Knight pieces, took the forward position alongside his Pawn, Beowulf, the descendant of the original hero of the same name. The others looked around warily as they moved up towards the cave entrance that Sirzechs had felt the power emanating from. Soon enough, with nothing happening, they all entered, one after another, disappearing for a time from the surface of the Earth.
Coming through the Undertaking's bright blue and white light onto the island caused Rias and Harry's smiles to widen, the simple aura of the goodness and love that existed here in this place was like a physical force, a heady tang to the air almost, felt by anyone with any magical power. To the newcomers, it was positively shocking.
Perhaps the most surprised was Kala, who began to smile, looking around with tears in her eyes. "I, I haven't felt something like this since…" she shook her head, her wings appearing, one of them folding over, where she reached up and stroked one of her steel-gray wings. Kala had recently noticed that her wings had been changing color slowly from the coal-black they had once been. Upon reflection, Kala had decided that this was a physical reaction to Kala turning her back on her Sin of Lust and finding something like a renewed faith in God's message thanks to Asia.
In this way, Kala and was no longer, very technically, Fallen. She wasn't an angel any longer either, but Kala figured she would take what she could get. "I haven't felt anything like this since I was in Heaven, and the holy father was around."
Harry trailed his fingers over Kala's wings as he passed her, setting Kunou down, at which point she instantly transformed into her full kitsune form, sniffing the air appreciatively as Teddy stared in delight beside her. Behind them, Yasaka did the same thing, all nine of her tales out and twitching in time with her nose, as she sniffed the air, a vulpine grin on her face. "Well, it might not be heaven, but it will certainly be our family's haven. Whatever happens in the future with the school and the rest of this planet, this island will be for the clan. Our own little slice of paradise."
"And me able to enter it as well, with no pain," Yasaka whispered out, rubbing her cheek against Harry's in a kitsune gesture of affection, while her tails twitched with excitement. "This, I thought that the ability to move freely away from Kyoto on Earth would have been enough to astound me, but this, that is nothing in comparison to this!"
Akeno, too, was staring around her in awe, struck dumb for a moment, staring at the trees in delight, while her aunt seemed to have closed her eyes, just concentrating on the feeling of the magic all around her. With the backdrop of the houses and the river flowing through it all, it was easily one of the most beautiful vistas Akeno had ever seen. Only Rias's hands on her elbow kept Akeno going forward, while Kiba, Issei, Gasper and the Sitri girls, with their not-as-advanced magical senses, were simply gazing around in amazement at the vista all around them. The sight of all those different types of houses among the trees lining either side of the river was an amazing sight, a perfect blend of civilization and nature almost.
Harry smiled at them, leaving his hand forward, his other arm going around Yasaka's waist. "Be it ever so humble, it's not quite home, but I think it can become so in time."
"With Kuoh and everything there as a gateway, I suppose," Kiba murmured, only now realizing what Sona had grasped within a second of fully understanding what Danan was, while Tsubaki was just staring, her own mind going a thousand miles a minute.
"Exactly. Kuoh will be our foothold on earth, but let's face it, the powers that be on earth are entrenched, the differences between them long-standing, and in many cases well-founded. Here though…" Harry gestured, not to the island, but out to sea. "Here, the Fae are only really present on one island, bar a few that were able to fly away long distances like the Swan Maidens and those they were close to. The rest of the planet is verdant and unconquered from what we've seen so far. We haven't explored everything, of course, but I don't think we'll find anything else out there."
"We are already getting pushback from the Magicians guilds with how much we Devils have been learning and working together with you wizards," Akeno came back to herself with a nod, with Tsubaki nodding agreement. "Dealing with that is going to be one of your first tasks when you are once more officially back in Kuoh, Rias-chan. It needs to be both you and Sitri-sama."
The Magicians Guilds were the organizations that handled policing and training of Magicians, a subset of magic users completely devoted to taking power and creating contracts with the Devils to use magic. Harry hadn't had much of anything to do with them yet. However, he had met Sirzechs' magician on occasion and found him to be a pleasant conversationalist. But they hadn't talked shop, so that was all Harry knew about them. Their entire magical system apparently was based more on the Devil's own and most magicians apparently lacked the internal magical core that wizards had, hence why they had to make such agreements in the first place.
Rias nodded, indicating without words that she would handle it but that now was not the time for that. She instead pulled Akeno forward, pulling out one of the many magical suitcases Harry had bought while in Diagon Alley, looking around for Loup and where he had set up his firepit. She spotted it on the other side of the river a bit higher than the position they had come out in.
A cry of "Kunou!" came from their right side, and it was only her kitsune reflexes that allowed Kunou to leap away as Lily barreled out of the trees, giggling wildly as she twisted, then hopped towards Kunou again. She grabbed the shorter girl in her arms as Kunou chittered gleefully, rolling around on the ground with her friend.
In turn, both of them were picked up by Yasaka with her tales, smiling at them. "Hello, mischief!"
"Is that going to be my new nickname?" Lily asked quizzically while grinning and holding onto one of her best friend's hands as both of them found themselves in the air held in the gentle grip of two of Yasaka's tails. "Only, Daddy called me that too, and so has Rias on occasion."
"After your adventure with the gryphons, I believe that mischief is your new nickname, yes," Harry said dryly, ruffling her hair, nodding to Koneko, who had just come out of the woods after the younger girl.
She nodded back but was moving for Gasper already. Her eyes narrowed as she saw that in the days since they had been around one another, he had reverted back to wearing a box on his head. Harry was going to watch that minor confrontation but then found himself nudged I the side. He looked down, idly noting that Teddy had been Accio'd by Tonks, the boy yelping as he found himself in midair and tugged over the river towards his Mum.
Unable to control himself, Issei sidled up to Harry, asking, "So… these Swan Maidens? Are they anything like the ones in the Youkai Association?"
"Er, yes, except for their color, but you won't find any around here," Harry said, rolling his eyes as Issei looked almost crushed by this news.
"Damn. Still, there's at least Tomoe and Tsubasa to flirt with," Issei grumped then thrust a finger up so hard into Harry's face it nearly went up to Harry's nose. "But that's only two out of the majority of girls here who aren't already claimed, most of them by you! Free them, free the oppai for all to share!"
"…You're taking being dumped hard, aren't you?" Harry asked, knowing that Issei, for all his perversions, wasn't one to espouse breaking up relationships.
Issei blanched, looking around, shaking his head. "Er, yeah, you might say that, but my point stands. In fact, it's worse. If I get anywhere beyond flirting and looking with the 'T' twosome, it'll cause trouble between them and Ruruko." Issei scowled then, gesturing around them. "I don't want to cause any trouble like that, but what am I supposed to do otherwise, hit on Tonks? She's a Mom, for goodness sake!"
"Oy, what's that supposed to mean!" Shouted Tonks from where she was squeezing Teddy like a giant plushy as the boy docilely hung there. From long practice, Teddy knew his Mum needed to get this out of her system.
Rolling his eyes, Harry shrugged at Issei's words. "Have fun that doesn't revolve around girls?"
"Ugh, and when was the last time you had fun at a party that didn't revolve around your kids or your ladies?" Issei scoffed.
Wincing as he realized the kid had a point, Harry shrugged and was about to say that have some good food, some swimming and that there was nothing wrong with looking when Tsubasa and Tomoe moved to either side of Issei, grabbing him up by his arms. "Leave this to us, Potter-sama," Tsubasa said. "We've been meaning to talk to Issei anyway. Not everyone in our peerage is so histrionic about the whole romance thing as Ruruko is."
Nodding, Harry pointed his hand at Issei, then gestured to one side, conjuring up a pair of swim trunks. "There you go, Issei, just in case. And if you ladies need to change, head to Tonks, and she will transfigure your clothing to be waterproof."
A rustle of feathers caused Harry to look around. He saw that Kala had taken to the air and flew up towards Asia, who she had taken in a gentle hug, her wings following suit enveloping the young girl. And nearby, Gasper was currently being teased gently by Koneko.
Elsewhere, Lily had been forced to answer a few questions as she was now being held upside down by Yasaka. "And what precisely would this adventure with the gryphons, be?"
Akeno, too, joined in the questioning, reaching up and poking Lily on the nose. "And what exactly kind of adventure did you have with gryphons? I know that you like your Titan, but surely you didn't go looking for more?"
"They're aren't as rare here on Danan as they are in the Familiar Forest, and I bet they will be spreading out further now. They weren't able to do so like the Swan Maidens because gryphons aren't built for long-distance flight. But with our help, I bet they can . As for Lily's adventure, she and Koneko can tell you about it later. Koneko went with her to keep her safe, of course," Rias said, smiling down at her Rook, leaning down to kiss the girl on the forehead while sending a wink to Gasper.
Just then, Rias spotted the giant dog, coming out in the woods, dragging what looked like a giant deer. Loup appeared then, leaping over the river at a narrow point before grabbing the deer from the dog, nodding at it and hefting it onto one shoulder. The two of them had seemingly been bonding. When they had been gone, Loup made his way over to an open area set to one side of the river. "Did you get the grills I asked for?"
"I did indeed. And those sauces you wanted," Rias said, turning back to opening the trunk she had pulled out a moment ago, setting it down. "Do you want this over there or…"
"Over there, please," Loup smiled, eagerness shining in his eyes before he spotted Momo and Suzaku. At that sight, he grinned wolfishly and held out his arms to them, hugging both to him with a deep, basso rumble of pleasure.
Pulling back from her own hug, Kala looked in his direction, while her arms and wings were still around Asia. "I'm sorry, I should've realized! Do we have a kitchen set up? I'll get to work on…"
A shout of "No!" came from several voices as Harry leaped over the river to join Loup at the cookout area, calling up to Kala at the same time. "Kala, for once, we're going to have a party without your cooking. We'll have simple fare, sure, but you don't have to cook for the entire clan every time, my dear. The rest of us are just as capable of cooking for large masses, even if we don't have the vast repertoire you have."
"Don't think you have to cook for us out of some strange sense of obligation. You're part of this family because of who you are, not because of the cooking skills you bring to it," Rias added, with Akeno nodding her head and flying up over the river with her friend.
Kala blinked, and then blinked again, before smiling shyly, and looked down at Asia as her wings flapping back upwards, but not disappearing into her back. "In that case, would you like to show me around? We can talk about what you've been up to. I understand from Harry that for all of you, it's been nearly a month since you left the Academy."
"Oh, yes. It's been an experience," Asia said sadly, shaking her head. "Quite a bit of it I'm not very happy about. There were revelations about the Holy Father and the Faith, and then there was the Fae war itself." She shook her head, gripping her rosary.
"Well then, we can talk as we walk," Kala declared firmly, releasing Asia from the hug but then putting a wing around her shoulders, leading the girl off.
By this point, Yasaka and the two little ones had also rushed off into the woods, leaving Kiba, Koneko, Gasper and Akeno with Rias. She gestured to her peerage, happy once more to be around all of them. "Come on, Kiba, Gasper, you can set up the sound system. Most of it will have to run on batteries for now. We don't have an electrical- power grid here just yet. Akeno and I will help Loup with dinner. And after that, I'll show you around the island too."
Kiba frowned, looking around. "Where's Yubelluna and Mittelt."
An explosion out to sea made them all turn in that direction, and Rias chuckled dryly. "I imagine that is them now. They call it fishing. I believe most of us would just call it rampant destruction of aquatic wildlife."
By the time the karaoke machine was set up, and Rias had shown her peerage the rest of the island, the party was ready, quickly kicking into full swing when Yubelluna returned from the ocean, dropping off several dozen new fish, only mildly charred by her and Mittelt's Bombardier-style fishing. Hopping out to one of the rocks poking up from the widest segment of the river, Yubelluna began dancing among the spray from the waterfalls as she played a 'Midsummer's Romance on Her violin.
Looking up from where he had been talking with Tsubaki about Ogham, Harry smiled as the refrain of the song wafted over the island, the sound magically enhanced via a spell that Yubelluna had gotten Luna to place on her violin back on Tir Na Nog.
Elsewhere on the island, people heard the music and slowly started to return to the area around the river, with Yasaka and the two children returning first. Lily instantly led Kunou into one of the buildings to change into a bathing suit. Mittelt, Asia and Kala were next. Then, the black dog, Koneko, Kiba, Tsubaki and Gasper, led by Rias coming down from the top of the mountain once more.
But if Harry had thought he was entranced just by the music of Heather Alexander's Faerie Queen, that was nothing to how he reacted when Akeno added her voice to the song. This was a song she had heard before from Yubelluna, and she knew the lyrics to it, even though she thought playing it on a violin was amusing since the song mentioned a fiddle.
"One wintry night, a wondrous sight I met while riding back, returning from a céilidh, with me fiddle in me pack. My horse, he stopped quite suddenly, his ears began to twitch. He bucked and threw me, pack and all, into a nearby ditch. I tried to rise, but then my eyes alighted on a scene of faerie creatures dancing by, cavorting 'round their Queen. She'd been out hunting, it was plain, delighted by her prize, and though he was in thrall to her, I knew his gentle eyes!"
While singing, Akeno had been dancing, but at that line, she stopped, staring straight back at Harry, even as she continued to sing, her voice rising to the heavens as Yubelluna played her violin. "I stood again and shouted when they drew abreast of me, 'I challenge you, for you have caught my husband-soon-to-be!' They stopped and she stared down at me, the Queen astride her steed, 'I see you have the courage, dear, but skill is what you need!'"
At that point, Yubelluna played on as Akeno began to dance again, hopping from one stone to the next midriver, her skirt flashing around her thighs. When her part came, she nailed it once more, singing the middle of the song and once more, she looked at Harry as she sang, as if the words were only for him alone. And when Yubelluna took up her part once more, the part of the mortal woman playing for her love, she too turned and locked gazes with Harry, her meaning clear in those eyes.
Looking at Harry's poleaxed expression as he stared between the singer and the violinist, Yasaka chittered in amusement, using one of her tails to push Harry's jaw back into place. "Word to the wise, my love, drooling is not attractive, no matter how entranced you might be."
The next part came, and once more, Akeno sang with her heart in her eyes as Yubelluna continued to play. "I raised my head, my arms like lead, my heart ablaze once more! The Faerie Queen looked down on me, shaken to the core. 'I've played for many centuries, yet by the stars above! You've taught me skill is not enough- it can't compare to love.' Be it carved from out the finest wood or strung with silver string, only mortal trust or faerie dust can make a fiddle sing!"
The two artists took a bow then, to a rousing cheer, with none louder than Harry. After that song ended, Harry shook his head, kissed Yasaka on the lips, winked at her, and then leaped over onto the stone that Yubelluna had perched on, bowing to her floridly. "My lady, might I have the honor of this dance?"
At the look of awe and desire in Harry's face, the former Queen of Riser Phenex's peerage found herself blushing hotly, as behind her on another stone further up the river Akeno laughed wildly, hopping over to the karaoke machine, an old present Kiba had brought along, knowing it would be needed. An instant later, as a new song began, Yubelluna stammered an affirmative response. There amid the waterfalls, as the light began to flash rainbows through the mist, Harry twirled Yubelluna around in a dance.
A second later, Lily laughed and leaped out from the small hobbit house that she had claimed as her and Kunou's diving straight into the river. The two kids were soon joined by Issei, who seemed to be in a much happier mood after talking to Tsubasa and Tomoe. Leaving them behind, he grabbed Gasper around his neck and shouted, "Come on, Gasper, let's party!" and dragging the Dhampir with him, moved toward the river.
"Ah, w, wait, Issei-sempai, wait, wait, I'm not ready for this, Koneko-senpai, help!" the timid Dhampir shouted.
Smiling her slight smile, Koneko grabbed both boys by the shoulder. Gasper breathed out in relief, then yelped in shock as Koneko pushed both boys into the river. "Fight, Gasper-kun."
This party was what the party back in Tir Na Nog would have been if not the far too raucous and contradictory sounds from the fairies which had ruined it for the earthers. The background music wasn't as hauntingly melodic as the fairies had created, but it was an excellent backdrop all the same. The food was just as good, and there was plenty for those that wanted it.
Moreover, the companionship was fantastic, even to the four semi-outsider girls. There was something for everyone, and everything was sampled by everyone there. Rias danced with Yasaka and then leaped into the river to slide down the various natural slides that Harry had created, whooping in delight and then dunking Lily, before being dumped in turn by Lily, Issei Tsubasa and Kunou. Mittelt danced the night away, flying from one group to another, drinking and cackling and at one point perching on Loup's head, dancing a jig up there as the dog howled to one side in laughter while Tomoe howled in laughter nearby.
Harry was also enjoying the party, but he didn't just have fun with the kids for once. He did that until Rias began to swim with them, and then left off that aspect to dance with Kala and Asia, then Akeno, twirling her around for several dances, kissing her, showering each of the ladies with affection.
Eventually, Harry found himself dancing with Yasaka. Harry had just left Akeno gasping for air, and before she moved back up to the karaoke machine, taking over from the surprisingly good combination of Mittelt, Lily and Yubelluna. As a slow song began, Harry wound his arms around Yasaka, one hand on the small of her back the other rising to the back of her neck, smiling at her. He laid a gentle kiss on her lips before leaning in cheek to cheek as he whispered, "You know, it has been pointed out to me recently that of all of the ladies who share a portion of my heart, the only one I have actually shared vows with is Rias. And I was wondering if you wanted to…" he paused, some of his forward momentum leaving him. "Um, that is…"
Yasaka smiled, somewhat sadly at the memories this topic evoked. "I was married once, my Harry. We exchanged vows and loved one another very much. We had 10 good years before Kunou came along and three good years afterward. I've gone down that road once." Her smile changed then, as she kissed lightly before pulling back. "But if you are asking me to marry you, the quick answer is yes. I will marry you, joyfully."
The kitsune then wagged a finger at him. "However, I will also demand a full wedding. My first husband and I had one, and I found the whole process amazing."
While wondering idly about what kind of strange female madness could consider wedding planning fun, Harry nodded. Simultaneously the hand on the small of Yasaka's back pulled away from her body for a moment. A quick Accio brought an object flying into that hand from nearby, hidden from Yasaka behind her back, until Harry used both hands to place the item on her neck, clicking it into place.
The item in question was a choker, and Yasaka's hand moved up to it, touching it gingerly. "And what is this?"
"A choker," Harry sheepishly looked away. "Koneko said you might like one, that this way you could, um, show the word you had a mate again in all three forms."
Something deep within Yasaka sat up and begged at that, a feeling of need going straight from her neck down to her nether regions. Chokers were indeed very traditional for kitsune, and even a few other Youkai. In their society, being mated to one another was pretty much basically saying this person owns me and vice-versa. Love was part of that, obviously, but the ownership aspect was just a bit different.
Yasaka's late husband had done that at one point. Indeed, she still had that choker, sitting in pride of place in her jewelry drawer. And having Harry's on her now was turning her on something fierce. Pity that Kala and I decided tonight is for Akeno. Still, Rias and I haven't had time to play yet…
"Might I have a mirror, please?" Yasaka pushed those thoughts aside, and Harry nodded, transfiguring one from a nearby stone and pulling it into his hand quickly, holding it in front of her face and neck.
The choker in question was black. It almost looked like leather, but it felt like silk when Yasaka touched it. It hugged the curve of her neck perfectly yet felt amazing, and Yasaka asked softly, "a size-changing charm?"
"Yes, among others. There's a communication charm, a modified 'Find Me Charm, a charm to keep it ever soft and supple, and well, there were a few other charms the leprechauns could put on it, but I found most of them rather silly. Why would I want the stone to glow, after all? It would just take away from your face, which would be a horrible thing to do."
Yasaka chittered with laughter at that, still staring in the mirror, turning her head this way and that as she admired the choker on her. It wasn't a simple black band, however. In the center where the clicking noise she heard earlier was a diamond, set into a platinum filigree. "Why platinum? Why a diamond?" Yasaka whispered.
"Because you're worth platinum," Harry replied promptly. "As for a diamond, the same reason. I thought about giving you a pearl since there are so many legends about them and kitsune, but I also felt that it would be a little strange."
"Oh, that old tale. 'Kitsune keep our souls in pearls', bah! Only four of my people ever did that, and they took the secret with them to the grave thank goodness," Yasaka answered absentmindedly, still playing with the choker with one hand, and then reaching out with the other hand for Harry, pulling him into a deep kiss. "Thank you, Harry. For this and everything else you've done for me today." Darn my conscience! If not for that agreement with Kala that Akeno would have first dibs of him when he came back, I'd be dragging Harry into the woods and demanding he make me scream!
Yasaka was soon pulled into the fun with the kids, dragged away from the dance area, and a few moments later, Kala also received a present from Harry. As she danced, she was surprised when Harry's arms went around her from behind, pulling her body into his chest, as Harry kissed the curve of Kala's neck up to her ear, breathing into her hair. "Are you having fun, my dear?"
"Are you joking? I don't think that anything we do here couldn't be fun. Although I am still a little annoyed that Asia was so close to the action again. If I had known that all of you were going to be facing what amounted to a small war, I don't know if I would've been so sanguine about her going with you all," Kala replied, still dancing, rubbing her pert rear back into Harry even as she spoke seriously.
"I wouldn't expect you to be. I wasn't exactly enthused by taking Asia or Lily with me either," Harry scowled angrily.
Kala whirled in his arms, giving him a kiss and then whispering an apology into his ear. "I know you wouldn't have brought them along if you didn't have to. But Lily was kept out of most of the fighting. On the other hand, Asia wasn't and saw a lot of the aftermath of that last battle. You handled it as well as anyone could, but the necessity of it is annoying."
"I know," Harry said, shaking his head and kissing her again. "But that is the world we live in, imperfect. And I, for one, wouldn't have it any other way. Perfection is a goal, not a state of being."
"Philosophy now?" Kala chuckled, placing her head in the crook of Harry's neck and shoulder as the song changed into a slow song, shaking her head as she took pleasure simply and having his arms around her like this. She couldn't say that it was more pleasure than she had gotten on a few of her assignments as a fallen angel, but it was a more staying kind of pleasure, a deeper sort. More filling in a way, she thought, giggling slightly as she nuzzled into his neck.
Then she felt Harry's hand move from around her waist up to her hair, pausing momentarily, and then something was placed in her hair. "It's been, um, pointed out to me that Rias is the only one of my ladies who um, I have exchanged vows with. Good grief, you'd think this got easier with repetition," Harry mumbled, before going on a firmer tone. "I know we didn't have the best of beginnings, and it's been a rocky road, but I do love you, and I was hoping that this can stand as a promise to um, to exchange vows in the future. And you have liked to wear these out on dates, so…"
Kala gingerly pulled the object in her hair out, looking at it to find what looked like a hair comb, one of the very expensive Japanese variety. It was made of what looked like silver, offsetting her black hair to good effect, with a set of pearls glimmering in the handle. The sight of it caused Kala's lower lip to tremble for a moment. No one, not even the man for whom she had Fallen, had ever given her something so personal. Kalawarner had been showered with gifts, with gold and jewels, but this was the first time someone had tailored such a gift to her personality.
After asking for a mirror, which caused Harry to chuckle quietly, Kala started to use a spell to change her hairstyle on the fly, then slowly slid the comb back home in her new coif. A portion of her hair was now up in a lightly done bun, while the other half continued to fall down past her shoulders. Satisfied, Kala tossed the mirror into the bushes and then leaned up, giving Harry a toe-curling kiss. "I love you too, Harry. And yes, I am yours, yours forever. Vows or wedding ceremony, I don't care, just so long as we are together. The rest is just drivel!"
After a few more dances with Harry, Kala moved over to spend more time with Asia and Koneko around the cookfire, talking shop with Loup at the same time. Meanwhile, Rias joined Yasaka, the two of them leaning against one another, exchanging kisses before they started to play a game time with the kids, with Rias helping Lily describe the adventure they'd all been all in greater detail at the same time.
This left Yubelluna, Akeno, and Harry in the dance area. The others had all vacated the area previously.
After dancing with Yubelluna some more, Harry saw Akeno, near the edge of the party zone, half in and half out of the light of the fires and lights, smiling as she took in the scene. But her eyes were on Harry, the luminous purple of them practically grabbing his attention like a spell. In his arms, Yubelluna chuckled, and Harry's eyes returned to her. "Sorry, Yubelluna, I…"
"Don't," Yubelluna commanded. "I know I'm falling for you, Harry. But I knew before doing so that you would be involved with other women. And I only had to share you with Rias the past few weeks, regardless of our not having much time together. I may still ask for some serious dates in the future, but I think Akeno requires your attention tonight."
"I still have some misgivings about being able to give all of you the attention you deserve. I might be used to the idea of a harem, and indeed I think I've fully embraced it," Harry laughed, the tone full of self-mockery. "But I am only human, after all."
"You've done a magnificent job of that already, Harry. And if you are only human, I am only a monkey," Yubelluna shook her head. "Your self-deprecation does you no justice."
"Are you saying I should take it by the horns then?" Harry quipped.
Wondering why he had asked, the purple-haired woman nodded.
"Good because I have done," Harry laughed. "A choker for Yasaka, a hair comb for Kala. I have also commissioned a ring for Rias. And as for you…" Harry stood back, holding both of Yubelluna's hands in his bringing them both to his mouth and kissing them gently as he went on formally. "My lady, I would like to pledge my troth to you."
For a second, Yubelluna stared, then she started to chuckle, shaking her head. "Make the, the understanding between us formal, you mean?"
Harry nodded firmly, and Yubelluna stared up at him, a blush suffusing her features once more this night, but she thought through her answer for a time before shaking her head. "I, I do love you, Harry. I don't think I'm quite ready yet to jump into bed, but yes, I, I would like that," she stammered, acting almost like a teenager younger than Rias or Akeno for a moment.
With Riser, there had never been a hint of marriage or anything similar between them. Moreover, the instant she had joined his peerage, any hint of treating her as an equal faded quickly. The fact that Harry was still treating her like a lady and like his equal in this relationship despite being the center of a multi-relationship made Yubelluna care for him all the more.
She held out her hand tremendously, and Harry, with another gesture, pulled another piece of jewelry from the box he had retrieved from the dwarves, placing the ring on her finger. Staring into her eyes earnestly, Harry intoned, "With this, I promise a portion of my heart to you, bandrui Yubelluna, to never place you second in my heart to any other lady who owns a piece of it, and that you and I will wed formally in the future." He then grinned at her, leaning forward to kiss her nose before pulling back, winking. "The details you and Yasaka will have to work out. She wants a full official wedding too."
"We will!" Yubelluna intoned firmly, getting her rapidly beating heart under control with difficulty, blushing like a teenage girl all of a sudden. "We will work those details out, although it might be a little further down the line for me than for Yasaka. I still want some more actual dates. Just the two of us, I think, or the two of us and the kids."
Harry nodded in agreement, and the two of them fell silent, just holding one another until the next song came to an end. Then Yubelluna deliberately took a step back, looking around them, before moving around Harry towards where Koneko and Mittelt were talking with Gasper, who was no longer wearing his box, having lost it in the water thanks to Issei and Koneko. As she did, her hand lingered at Harry's side, squeezing his own briefly as she whispered, "Go get her, Harry."
Turning his head a bit, Harry watched her go, his eyes lingering on her swaying hips for a moment before he turned to look around for Akeno, only to discover that she had gone from where she had been standing. A second later, he spotted her was higher up the hill, standing on top of the last house on the other side of the river, looking down at the rest of the party going on. As Harry looked at Akeno, she looked back, and once more, Akeno's violet eyes grabbed his attention. She smiled coquettishly and remained there as Harry moved in her direction, before giggling and hopping away, down among the houses and off up the mountain.
Wondering if Akeno had talked to Yasaka recently, Harry moved in that direction, figuring he would be led a merry chase. Instead, he was ambushed by Akeno just as Harry moved from the housing area into the forest beyond.
She came out from behind a tree, smiling and arching her back up to kiss him. Harry put his arms around her, deepening the kiss instantly, his tongue out in question for hers, feeling her breasts pressing into him. But then Akeno was pulling away, taking his hand and leading Harry further up the mountain.
As they moved through the forest, Akeno would occasionally break away from Harry, moving a few feet away. There she posed, stretching her arms above her head or twisting this way and that, bringing attention to her body as she removed a bit of clothing. Of all the girls, Akeno hadn't changed into a bathing suit at any point, changing being necessary for bathing suits since it was difficult to transfigure a piece of normal clothing into something waterproof. First came her shoes, then her socks, then her blouse, and skirt. After each stop, she moved back into Harry's arms or was 'caught' in turn by Harry, as he pulled her into a hug and a kiss.
Each kiss took Akeno's breath away, causing her to gasp and whimper and yet she would still push him away after a few seconds. After the second time this happened, Harry realized that Akeno wanted to both be in control tonight and had a specific objective in mind for the two of them on their current meander through the woods. With that, he stopped trying to pull Akeno to a stop or direct her back to the living areas, only coming up behind her and kissing her neck and nibbling at her ear, his hands moving up and down her stomach and chest as Akeno revealed her body to him piece by piece. And in return, Akeno started to unbutton his shirt, pulling it out of his jeans as she did. Getting the idea, Harry too began to divest himself of his clothing.
Soon enough, Akeno was in her bra and panties, a sheer silk purple number that more hinted at the treasures within than actually hid them. Harry, too, was down to his own underwear, his erection now very visible. Yet still, Akeno led them up out of the woods higher up the mountain.
The trek was a long one interspersed with numerous stops to kiss, but they eventually reached the top of the dormant volcano, where Akeno led the way around the rim of the pool area. There Akeno knelt down, putting her hand into the pool of water. It was pleasantly cool to the touch, and she lifted her hand back out, dabbing at her neck and face.
Harry watched, almost mesmerized by this movement and the little rivulets of water down her perfect, porcelain neck.
Akeno looked up at him and then blushed rosily at the look in his eyes, licking her lips as desire flashed in her own violet gaze. Standing up once more, she reached out, taking Harry's hands in hers, left to right, kissing both sides of each hand, "Harry, I love you. You know that, right?"
"I do, and I love you too. In our case," Harry laughed, "semi-absence really did make the heart grow fonder, or at least more clear-sighted."
Akeno laughed too, taking the joke on the time they had spent romantically separated with aplomb. "I, I know," Akeno went on after a second. "But I think I would like I would like to…"
Harry reached out with his free hand to gently cup her chin, stroking the skin there gently. "Calm down."
Nodding, Akeno breathed in for a few seconds and then blurted out, "Would you like to make it formal? Pledge ourselves one another like you and Rias did?"
For a moment, Harry hesitated, cocking his head to one side thoughtfully. The two of them had just gotten together again, after all, not even two weeks ago in Akeno's time. And yet, staring into Akeno's purple eyes, Harry knew that she was resolute on this point. And really, the time apart hadn't so much been time spent honestly apart, just not doing romantic things with one another. They had still grown closer, still spent time together. "Are you sure of this, Akeno?" he asked, staring into her eyes, willing her to understand the seriousness of this, a part of him wondering how being here, in a place somehow sanctified by some ancient god or other, would impact the handfasting ceremony. But the majority of Harry wanted to be certain that Akeno understood how big a step this was and that he wasn't pressuring her into it or anything of that nature. Indeed, Harry had prepared a gift instead, another leprechaun-made gift like the choker he had given Yasaka.
Akeno paused too, staring into Harry's emerald eyes. But after a moment taken to show she understood how important this was, Akeno nodded, and without another word concentrated, still holding Harry's hands crossways in front of them, her left to his right. A band of magic appeared from around her arm, twirling forward to wrap around Harry's forearm. The band's color took Akeno by surprise, and she paused in whatever she was about to say, staring at it. "White? I would've thought black, or perhaps violet, like my eyes."
"Rias's was red, but that's her favorite color." Harry shrugged. "Is white yours? If so, that makes sense, right?"
At that, Akeno nodded shyly. She was a little embarrassed that someone like her, with her tastes and hobbies, would like such a simple color. Especially given how white was linked to purity in both Wizard and Devil culture.
Chuckling, Harry pulled one hand away from their handholding to touch her cheek gently. "You're adorable, do you know that?"
Akeno's earlier blush returned with a vengeance, and she coughed, looking away, then raising her own now freed hand to grasp Harry's again, bringing it down into the proper position once more. "Thank you, Harry, but please, take this seriously."
"I am very serious." With that, Harry leaned forward, giving Akeno a kiss, although he didn't deepen it. Leaning his forehead against hers, he intoned. "I am. I love you, Akeno, and it would do me the greatest honor if you would become my third wife."
Akeno smiled, knowing that Rias was first, and Yasaka was probably second, even if they had only pledged to marry formally sometime in the future and had not exchanged actual oaths just yet. She was fine with that. Akeno wasn't willing just yet to have children but she knew Yasaka was almost panting for them, and Rias wanted to have children the instant they graduated from high school. But Akeno could see herself having them later, for certain. Right now, she just wanted to stand by her man and make that relationship permanent.
Kissing Harry once more, Akeno breathed, "Yes, Harry. I love you, and I want to be one of your wives," She pulled back then, looking down at their joined hands, and concentrating once more. The band of magic had disappeared during their little moment, but now it reappeared, wrapping around Harry's forearm firmly, binding their joined hands together. "I, Akeno of the Himejima clan and the clan of Gremory, do pledge myself to Harry Potter, to have no man other than Harry in my life for as long as we both shall live."
Harry thought about it for a moment and then came up with an oath of a similar nature. A golden band appeared from his other hand, causing Harry to start this time. The last time it certainly hadn't been golden. Instead, it had been as black as his hair. But considering all the changes that Harry had gone through in this latest episode adventure, Harry supposed that he was probably more demigod than human at this point. Not a full God, he didn't have believers, but Harry was becoming aware that his newfound power might put him on the same level. I just have to get used to that idea, which he admitted ruefully was probably going to take a while.
Shaking his head at that thought, Harry concentrated, the band of magic reappearing once more and reaching out for from his left hand to Akeno's right, tying their forearms together in an 'X' shape. "I, Harry Potter, patriarch of the Potter-Gremory clan," he grinned at her, emerald eyes flashing in good humor, to which she giggled, "do pledge my heart to Akeno Himejima. I love thee and will love you as one of my wives so long as we both shall live."
This time it was Harry's turn to start, and from the hand that Akeno had already bound, another filament of magic appeared, wrapping around that forearm similarly. "I pledge to love every part of you, Akeno, to never look down on any aspect of your past or soul, to see the true woman underneath."
Akeno smiled happily at that, remembering their conversations about Akeno's Fallen side. And as Harry spoke, her wings fluttered into existence behind her in response to her thoughts, one Devil and one Fallen wing. Both of them had gone through quite a bit of change over the past few months since Kalawarner and Mittelt had joined them. The two of them had refused to let any of the Devils forget about the fact that they could fly, even though despite having wings, most of the Devils had not been as at home with aerial combat as the two experienced Fallen. Akeno had grabbed onto the concept the best of the rest, and her wings showed the extra exercise. They were still mismatched, but they looked healthy at least, and Harry smiled at the sight of them.
That smile meant the world to Akeno just then, reaffirming Harry's earlier statements on that and his oath just now: that he did not care at all about her past, her father, or the supposed Sin of her birth. "I pledge to stand beside you in every aspect of your life I can, to follow your orders, in times of crisis, to give advice when needed."
Two white bands and two golden bands now joined their hands, and it was once more Akeno's turn to go first, and as she did so, her wings faded out once more. "I pledge to always be there for our family, to be their staunch guardian, their teasing sister, their leader in times of need."
The third band of white was followed by Harry changing one of the oaths he had made with Rias a bit. "I promise to be your bulwark, your shield against the world when you need me, to let you fight your own fights and grow as you will, only aiding, never blocking. I pledge to be a father to our future children, but to not force you into a mold, learning from the mistakes of the past," Harry went on, adding a fifth band.
Akeno licked her lips, then whispered, "I pledge to become a mother in the future to our children, to try my best to be worthy of that calling when the time comes."
The fifth band of white joined the others, and Akeno thought for a moment, and then shook her head. There was really nothing more that needed to be said. Except for… "I Akeno, do pledge that all of these oaths will be fulfilled and that I love Harry Potter. So Do I swear, so mote it be."
Simultaneously Harry spoke, their words creating an odd duet despite being slightly different. "I Harry Potter, so pledge that these oaths will be fulfilled and that I love Akeno Himejima to the equal to my other wives. So do I swear, so mote it be."
As they finished speaking, there was a flash, as unlike the last time, the bands did not fade slowly. Instead, they seemed to join together and then merged into Harry, and Akeno's skin as the flash of magic blinded them. For a moment, both of them felt a little drained, the ceremony that they had created impromptu having taken a real impact on them. But then Akeno was in Harry's arms, pressing her chest his, kissing him ardently.
But before Harry could respond in kind, she pulled away, dropping to her knees in front of him. Harry blinked and was about to speak up, but Akeno shook her head, indicating without words that this was something she wanted to do before she pulled his pants down. Harry's erection, which had softened during the ceremony, had come back to full mast as Akeno had dragged herself down his body, her breasts pressing into him, and now Akeno licked her lips, staring at his turgid shaft, unhooking her bra with a whispered incantation. Akeno's chest fell free, bouncing slightly before sagging just a bit under their own weight, tipped with nipples of a pale pink color, her areolae large but not overly so, the nipples already hard as erasers.
"That is a spell that should never be taught to Issei, ever!" Harry quipped, before his hands down once more to pull Akeno up, still believing they should really start the night with something more romantic. But Akeno shook her head, and then, without any further preamble, brought her breasts up to either side of Harry's cock while licking at the tip. Akeno's breasts could fully envelop his cock, with a bit of room left over. But she deliberately kept that from happening right now, allowing just his head to peer out of the top of her cleavage, licking and nibbling at the head.
After a few moments, Akeno fell back a bit so that she could take more of his cock into her mouth, slowly shifting from giving him a titjob to giving Harry a blowjob, which proceeded with excruciating slowness. Harry grunted and growled, a sound that seemed to send a shiver through Akeno's body. But when Harry once more moved his hands towards her head, she shook her head, her own hands coming up to grasp his buttocks, her nails digging in slightly. She wanted to be in charge, at least for now.
Harry knew that this was part of the whole package with her; she wanted to experiment, to play a bit. That was more than fine with Harry, but he wasn't going to be an innocent bystander. Shifting slightly earned him a few scratches to his rear. But Harry ignored that, or rather he responded, moaning a bit in approval to let Akeno know the pain hadn't turned him off. But he kept doing what he was doing, shifting his foot underneath Akeno.
She looked up at him in confusion, pulling back from trying to take another inch of his cock into her mouth.
Harry wiggled his toes, smirking at her a little as his big toe pressed directly into the cleft of her vagina where it was already dampening her panties. "The thing about sheer panties," he whispered, his town so throaty and needy it sent a shiver through Akeno, "is it really doesn't help in terms of blocking out tactile sensation."
She pulled off his cock for a moment, licking the underside and letting it lay across her face for a second as she nibbled at his balls, whispering. "And tonight is all about sensation, isn't it?"
"You said it, my love, not me," Harry answered. The words my love seemed to trigger something in Akeno, who had a full-body shudder before she lifted herself back up and opened her mouth wide, taking Harry's cock into her mouth again, working that extra inch downwards that she had been trying to before in one go. Tears came to her eyes for a second, and Harry had to remind himself forcefully that Akeno liked mixing in pain with pleasure, the increasing wetness be underneath his foot doing a good job of reminding him.
Harry then gasped again as Akeno allowed her teeth to graze along the sides of his cock, dragging them slightly, then releasing them, not causing a lot of pain, and certainly not drawing blood, but adding a bit more to the experience. Harry's eyes narrowed, and he grimaced a little at the sensation, but he allowed Akeno her fun, as his toe hooked underneath one side of her on panty and pulled it to the side, allowing Harry's foot access to the treasure underneath. Akeno was well and truly wet at this point, so much, so his foot was becoming wet underneath her, and Harry worked his big toe up and down her slit, then moving from side to side while his hands started to play with her breasts and hair.
In response, Akeno choked down another inch of his Harry's staff, her tongue now doing twirls around it, occasionally causing a bit of a bulge to appear in her mouth as she did. Then she raised herself up and put Harry's cock between her breasts again, working her jaw occasionally, her breasts now heaving up and down as she pressed them in as hard as she could.
The sensation was insane. Akeno seemed to take a certain delight in being able to encompass Harry's entire dick in her breasts now and began to get into it, working her breasts feverishly up and down. And for all his powers, Harry was still, technically anyway, human. There was a limit to his endurance in terms of pleasure. This was like having his dick caught in two pillows, intensely soft, yet also constricting just enough. "Akeno, I'm going to…"
Instantly Akeno stopped, smirking up at him as she just held her breasts around his cock for a few seconds, unmoving. Instantly Harry's eyes narrowed but seeing the teasing glint in Akeno's gaze in the firelight, his hand moved to the back of her head and thrust it down towards his cock. Akeno gleefully opened her mouth and took the first four inches of his cock into her mouth again, then when Harry seemed to hesitate, looked up at him and pulled back, smirking coquettishly.
Harry understood then that Akeno's current play had changed from Dom to Sub. Now, if Harry wanted to get off, he would have to force Akeno to do it.
But Harry wasn't going to just give in. Where would the fun be in that? Instead, he stopped his big toe from working at her clit, pulling his foot out from underneath him her. "Two can play that game, Akeno."
Akeno gripped his rear harder, causing Harry to wince in pain, but she willingly dove down on his cock again, once twice, then pulling back, staring up at him.
It became a contest, which one of them would give out, give in to the other's demands, and eventually, Harry gave in, the need to cum, becoming too powerful to continue to play. He grabbed Akeno by the hair, looking at her, one eyebrow rising in silent question once more, making certain this was what she wanted.
She gleefully nodded with his cock still in her mouth, delight showing on her face as Harry gave in even as his foot went back to work on her vulva and clit. Somehow Harry caught her clit between two of his toes for a second before working his big toe back into her.
With a tight grin, Harry forced Akeno back onto his cock, almost using her mouth now as a toy, forcing his staff into her until she gagged. He backed off a little then, but Akeno didn't, thrusting her head forward now and getting Harry back to the point where he was on the verge of coming. When Harry growled that out, she pulled back, but not entirely, keeping the tip of his cock in her mouth and bringing her breasts back into play. The combination was enough, and Harry roared as he went over the edge, shooting his cum down Akeno's throat, so much so that she began to choke.
The sensation of pain that going down on Harry was causing her, the sensation of pleasure from below, heightened further by the pain, was enough to throw Akeno over the edge too, and as she pulled back reflexively off of his cock, she warbled her own cry of delight while several more shots of cum covered Akeno's face. Slumping forward against his legs, Akeno let her grip on Harry's rear go limp as she just gently held on, Akeno's body going series of aftershocks as she tried to gulp down the crazy amount of cum that Harry had let go into her mouth.
Harry knelt down slowly, not releasing himself from Akeno's grip, keeping her upright all the while with a hand on her head until he was kneeling with one arm around her, and the other pressed gently into Akeno's face. A modified Scourgify spell removed the remains of his cum from her mouth and face, causing Akeno to pout lightly in protest. Then Harry leaned forward, giving her a kiss.
Akeno kissed him back, coming back to herself after her recent orgasm.
"I take it you enjoyed that, Akeno?" he whispered against her lips between kisses.
"Oh my yes, that was intense!" Akeno muttered, pulling back and kissing down his chest for a moment, then back up to his neck, as Harry took one of her breasts in his hand, finding her teat delightfully overflowing his hand. He worked his fingers along her breast, then up to her nipple.
Akeno kissed him again, and this time the two of them just made out for several minutes, pulling back to breathe and kiss one another's necks, ears and faces. Then Harry began to play with Akeno's hair and down to her rear, pulling him against her harder.
At that point, she pulled away slightly and took a step backward. Then with both of her hands, Akeno wiggled her way out of her panties, kicking them out into the water of the called arrow to one side. They floated there for a few seconds, and Akeno then sat back down, beckoning Harry to her. "That's enough foreplay. Claim your new wife, Harry, please!"
Harry paused for a moment, quickly intoning the Blueballs Spell. Seeing that, Akeno whispered out a 'thank you', looking up at him lovingly. She was going to have Harry's children eventually. Akeno was extremely certain of that fact. But unlike Rias or Yasaka, she did not want that now, as her earlier oath to Harry made clear. His next spell, though, a Muffilatio, caused her to giggle.
His spellwork done, Harry smiled at Akeno and leaned forward, giving Akeno a kiss. "Akeno, darling, be very careful what you wish for…"
With that, he pressed her down, causing her a bit more pain, as her back hit the ground as he thrust her legs apart, kneeling between them. Then he began to fondle her breasts roughly, leaning down to lick at her nipples. Akeno jolted with a moan, enjoying the attention and the somewhat dominant style, which only got better as Harry began to leave tiny bite marks here and there.
After a few moments spent kissing, nibbling and exploring Akeno's body, Harry was unsurprised when Akeno grabbed his head firmly with both of her arms and pulled him up into a kiss. When she pulled away, their tongues were still dueling in midair for a few seconds, and Akeno made a point of sucking at his tongue as she had so recently on his nether regions. "Enough foreplay, it's time for the real thing," she ordered once more, then blushed, adding, "Please?" as some of her nerves failed her.
Harry nodded, pulled back slightly, allowing his hardness to glide down from her stomach where it had been resting a moment ago until the head was nestled into her vulva. He paused there, looking up at her, staring at the expression on her face, half awed, half delight, mixed with eagerness and worry.
He slowly worked himself in, knowing that like Rias, Akeno had probably played with a few toys, but that was a far cry from the real thing. But thankfully, Akeno allowed Harry to set the tempo until Harry was fully nestled inside Akeno, their pelvises pressed against one another, his full length spearing so deeply that he felt as if he had tapped into something at the end there.
For a moment, as they lay there conjoined, Harry's hips stopped, and he kissed Akeno tenderly, forgoing his earlier rough play and getting an equally tender kiss in turn, even as her nails began to scratch at his back. Finally, after a few seconds, Akeno nodded at him, looking shy and far more of an innocent maiden than normal. And once more, Harry was reminded of the strange dichotomy within Akeno.
"I love you, Akeno," he said, whispering the words, but the sheer emotion of them caused Akeno to shudder, her eyes widening.
She then leaned up, kissing Harry ardently on the lips before whispering, "I love you back", then pulling him back down, Akeno began to move her hips up against his own, urging Harry to start moving. Harry obliged, thrusting down into her, pulling back almost until his cockhead popped out of her pussy, then thrusting down with his full length, groaning in delight.
The two of them began the oldest dance in the world, humping against one another in the classic missionary position until Akeno scratched at Harry's back and side for a moment indicating she wanted to change position with a twist of her hips and shoulders. Harry obliged, spending a few seconds pounding into Akeno as she lay on her side before allowing Akeno to flip them over, with Akeno now on top.
The new position allowed Akeno more power, and her nails raked down Harry's chest, now actually causing Harry to bleed a little. But he grunted and thrust up all the harder, the sensation of pain indeed adding to his pleasure, just as Akeno had hoped, and the wounds closing almost as soon as they were made. Then Harry lifted his hands from her hips, one working between their bodies to play with her breasts, while the other pulled Akeno down with a grip in her hair. He kissed Akeno just as hard as he was thrusting up into her, timing the thrust of his tongue into her mouth with that of his cock into her pussy for a bit.
He then pulled back, whispering, "Your wings love, I want to see your wings as you mount me."
Akeno's eyes widened, but she obliged without hesitation, a look of soft love again appearing on her face, now entirely frazzled and sweat-streaked. A second later, her wings appeared. As they did, Harry gasped, his eyes widening. The look of shock on his face caused Akeno to stop in her up-and-down motion, and she turned her head, wondering what in the world Harry was looking at. When she saw her wings, Akeno's eyes widened in shock.
Gone were the two mismatched pairs of wings that she had had before. In their place was a pair of gorgeous wings, but ones that were neither Devil nor Fallen. The outer bone and the way they folded into one another looked like a normal Devil's, complete with their shape and how they would fold back. But the feathers were that of an Angel, so white for most of their length they seemed to glow with the light of the moon, their tips ending in a deep purple color.
"How…" Akeno whispered. "How did this, what happened!?"
"I think that the minor mystery as to why we both felt so exhausted after our oath is now explained, dear heart," Harry said, some of his ardor cooling a bit as he sat up, one arm wrapped around her back to keep Akeno upright. His free hand reached out, then Harry hesitated, looking to Akeno for permission. She gave it, then whimpered as Harry ran his fingers up and down the inside of her wings. "Oh, that feels nice," she purred, shaking her head in delight. "Now, I know what Koneko feels every time we play with her ears."
Harry chuckled, but the feel of Akeno's breasts against his chest and the velvety tight passage currently gripping his cock reminded him of what they had been doing. He looked at her, letting his free hand fall from her wings to trail down her side, taking her nipple in two fingers, twisting a little. "I think we should take your wings as a sign of the truth behind our oaths," he said firmly, "Instead of looking for a deep mystery, let'sSS!"
He couldn't finish the sentence before Akeno was kissing him hungrily, pressing him backward hard, so hard that his head clunked against the floor of the viewing platform. She kissed him so hungrily, so ardently, that it was Harry's turn to be overwhelmed, as her hips went up-and-down on Harry's, taking his length all the way in, then pulling back up halfway only to ram down faster and faster. A second later, she began to clamp down too as the sensations began to overwhelm her.
Akeno screamed into Harry's mouth as her orgasm came upon her with the suddenness of a volcano, the analogy flickering across her pleasure-scrambled mind as Harry erupted inside her a second later, unable to contain himself. Akeno stiffened as she came, her wings unfurled to their fullest extent, and then she fell sideways, shaking her head woozily. "Oh my word, that was a good one!"
Chuckling, Harry put his arms around her and tapping Akeno's wings with his fingers. Akeno obligingly made them disappear once more, and an instant later found herself underneath Harry, as he loomed over her, moving down to her breasts, nibbling and suckling at them, causing Akeno to whimper, as his actions built on the aftershocks still going body. "If you think that only two times is my nightly limit, my dear Akeno, you have another think coming."
Oh yes! A fruit basket for Rias and Yasaka is just not going to cut it after this! Akeno thought to herself, gleefully returning Harry's smirk, her hands filling with a low-level lightning spell, causing Harry to arch his back as he growled. "Give it to me, everything you have, Harry, pound me, own me, my love!"
Harry was all too happy to see to his new wife's wishes.
The next morning, Rias woke up, cuddled up against Yasaka the bed of the main house, which she had claimed for herself, Harry and whichever of Harry's other lovers joined them each night. Yasaka was still asleep but seemed to stir as Rias got out of bed, naked as the day she was born and gloriously proud of the fact and the number of bitemarks she had in various places from the night before, though she had left a bit more on Yasaka, who turned out to have a bit of a sub streak to her.
After putting the kids to bed, the two of them had a night as well, and Rias knew she would treasure the memory right up there with the first time she and Harry had made love. "And this time, I even remembered to put up a Silencing Charm," she said aloud to a giggle from the bed.
Turning, Rias smiled, seeing Yasaka's one visible eye staring at her. "Are you going to get up today, Foxy?"
"Do I have to?" Yasaka moaned, twisting onto her stomach as she rubbed her head sensually into the pillow, lifting up her rear in an act that would probably have gotten Harry to stand at attention, and caused Rias to think about giving Yasaka's pert rear a smack before Rias shook her head quickly. "This bed is sinfully comfortable."
"Thank you, I picked it out myself. The rest of this, though, that's all Harry," Rias shook her head fondly as she thought of her husband. She patted the bed once and then looked around them at the room, a frisson of desire running through Rias at the idea of Harry spending a night here with her. "Here," she said aloud, although only partially aware of it as she made her declaration, a shiver of desire and delight going through her as her fingers stroked the bed's silk sheets. "When Harry and I conceive a child, when we are ready to take that step, it will be here."
"MMM….I can definitely agree with that," Yasaka moaned. The idea of her Harry mounting her, having a child with him, another little one to run around with Kunou; to put her and Lily in the big sister position, that was a heady thought.
"HAH! That is what I said when my husband brought me here! And I am proud to see that the tradition continues," an unknown female voice spoke, which caused both Rias and Yasaka to start, both of them turning to stare.
In the center of the room, a few feet from Rias, stood a ghost. She was a woman dressed in what looked like extremely good but archaic finery, her hair sea-green and falling down to the back of her ankles. Her eyes were almost the color of the ocean, shifting from blue to green to dark black from one second to another, in a beautiful face that radiated warmth like the sun.
It was those eyes and the feel of the woman that made Rias nod her head slowly and very respectfully even as she conjured up some clothing to put over herself. "Goddess. You are perhaps the most complete enneagram I have seen."
"Hmm, interesting term, an imprint of a soul? Yes, a good description. Even if I was accidentally created the first time, I was, shall we say, renewed numerous times," the woman replied before shaking her head. "And my original was brought here mortally wounded, in battle with the Fomorians. The original poured out her power into me, rather than simply imprinting her present-self upon me. Yet can you guess, crimson-haired one, who I am?"
Rias cocked her head thoughtfully to one side, while Yasaka hurriedly got dressed, also looking at the woman. Rias, though, was frowning, thinking about all she had learned and seen of the Tuatha De Danan. "If Manannán Mac Lir was the only god to travel, then you must be connected to him in some fashion. Given what you said, I would guess you are Your Manannán's wife. Aine or Fand were the names we found. It was unclear which. As was your portfolio, beyond fertility, which you share with Brigid, and a hint that you might have been a sun god."
"Indeed! Well done. I am Aine Fand, two names, although as I shared my first name with my eldest daughter, I will forgive the confusion. I was Manannán's wife in life. Now I am but a memory, a self-aware one perhaps, but still a memory. And power, quite a bit of that," The self-aware memory of Aine Fand said.
"You said that you had been renewed numerous times. You were accidentally created at first and then after that, added on to," Rias murmured, working it out, and her eyes widened. "It was said that Manannán had six daughters…"
"Yes, and every one of them was conceived here. All were then born here on this island that Manannán found in his travels across the world of Danan, where we all originated from. Of all of us, only my man had a wanderlust like that. Manannán showed this place to me while we were courting, and I fell in love with it. That and the love we shared here, the events that happened here, all of it left an impression. You can feel it in the air, can you not?"
"Yes," Rias whispered, a tender smile on her lips as Yasaka nodded fervently. "Yes, we all have. We've all fallen in love with it too. That's why Harry made the changes he did, that's why we're thinking of having a home here." Her tone was somewhat apologetic but also firm.
"More power to you!" Aine laughed, waving off Rias's apology. "Indeed, that is why I was able to appear at all. Your husband's words last night to you and the others, the romantic air you created. His handfasting with Akeno and their activities thereafter woke this memory. And finally, your own intense desire for children was enough to evoke me. Because that was what created me in the first place, the desire to love, to have a family, and the desire to conceive."
"That is what I am. My purpose. The hope which was embedded into me when the real Aine Fand pressed her power into my preexisting self was to pass on my powers to someone who would use it for a purpose. For the defense of family, and the future of that family."
The enneagram of the dead sun goddess seemed to stride forward until she was facing Rias with barely a foot between them, staring up at Rias. Rias was at least a good head taller than the woman, despite how well-formed the goddess had been in life. The ghostly image held out a hand towards her, which glowed sunrise gold. "Do you swear to always defend the hearth, to defend your children with your life? To be there through good times and bad, work to better your family, bringing them safety and wealth? To stand beside your man as Queen to his King?"
"I'm somewhat insulted you had to ask," Rias snorted before nodding her head formally and reaching out a hand. Whatever this was going to be, Rias decided she would grasp it with both hands. "I do. My family, our clan, my Harry, our future. Together."
The goddess gasped in surprise, though, when Yasaka moved her own hand into the pile, snorting at the look that Rias sent her. "You didn't think I was going to be left out of this, do you? I, too, swear it."
"Well, two is in many ways better than one. Then be blessed by the powers of Aine Fand and go forward arm in arm together." The ghost intoned with a fay chuckle. Instantly pulses of golden light flashed down her arms into their conjoined hands then along the two living women's arms into their bodies.
As the pulse hit her, Rias gasped in pain, almost searing agony gripping her. Some aspect of her own Devil magic was fighting back, trying to reject this magic. Perhaps because it was based on Deific energy even if it wasn't coming from the Holy Father. Whatever the case, it was painful, but Rias couldn't do anything but grit her teeth and bear it. Breaking a spell like this midstream would possibly be catastrophic not only for herself but also for Yasaka. And that is not acceptable.
Thankfully for her, the spell of the goddess seemed to break through whatever was fighting it, and the pain subsided, filling her with heat from head to toe. The spell faded soon after, and both Rias and Yasaka found themselves falling back to sit on the side of the bed.
In front of them, the image of the dead goddess smiled sadly at them, slowly fading out of existence. "May you find as much happiness with your man as I did with mine, and with one another. Be blessed with long life and many children, and always be prepared to defend your land and clan. Oh, and you might want to concentrate on finding a weapon rather than armor in the future. Just a word to the wise."
As the enneagram disappeared, the two women looked at one another in shock, then began to laugh as Yasaka quipped, "Well, that was something. I wonder, was that just a power-up for our magical cores, which would be nice, or something else?
"It certainly wasn't meant to be anything dangerous, even if it was to me, ouch!" Rias's eyes narrowed then as she looked closely at Yasaka's face. "Beyond that, I can tell you one thing; it's changed your eyes a bit. They have gold flecks in them now."
"So do yours!" Yasaka replied instantly, doing the same. They fell silent then, and then Yasaka shrugged. "Find Harry?"
Rias nodded firmly. "Find Harry."
When they found Harry and Akeno, Yasaka and Rias stopped, staring. Finding Harry and Akeno together was obviously something both of them had assumed. Yasaka had told Rias of the plan to let Akeno have Harry all to herself for the first night back and had agreed that this counted. Then too, Rias had wanted to spend the night with Yasaka anyway. That wasn't why they stared.
No, they stared because of Akeno's wings. In the light of day through the windows of the second hobbit house which the two of them had taken over - the more adult-sized one, in comparison to the child-sized one below the main house - Akeno's wings were unfurled, one of them covering Harry, the other flopping over the side of the bed. And those wings had changed tremendously since the last time Rias had seen them, which she conveyed to Yasaka in a whisper.
"Now," Rias murmured slightly louder as she moved into the room, causing Harry to open his eyes and blinked, one arm tightening around Akeno even as he came awake, staring at Rias. A tender smile appearing on his face at the sight of her, which Rias responded to even as she gestured at Akeno's wings. "Was this deliberate, or a response to something else?"
"A response to something else." Being a morning person like Rias, Harry was quick to wake up. But Akeno was still snoring lustily, her arms wrapped around him so tight Harry realized he'd have to Apparate out of her grip. The feel of her wings over him was fascinating, like the softest down cover Harry had ever felt. He gently touched them, causing Akeno to first shiver, then start to smile at the feeling of Harry's fingers gently stroking up and down her feathers.
Harry then frowned, and after a moment's wiggle, he sat up, staring at Rias then over at Yasaka. "I thought it was a trick of the light, but did you two know you have gold flecks in your eyes now? What happened?"
"A divine visitation of a sort, Rias said dryly as she moved to sit by the side of the bed beside her best friend, one hand gently stroking her hair. Yasaka promptly sat on the other side, leaning in for a long, deep kiss. Part of the kitsune was thinking of the benefits of closing the door, covering the windows and throwing up a Mufilatio, and then just stay in here all day.
But Yasaka knew they wouldn't. The party was over, and there were things to do. In particular, discovering what the gift of the goddess would do for herself and Rias. Planning on what Danan meant long term would be something they could do at their leisure.
Listening intently to Rias's story, Harry frowned once more in thought. "That's nothing at all like what happened with Akeno and me." He described the vows they had taken and then the sight of Akeno's wings before shaking his head. "But all that was my newly empowered divine side coming out to play. That, and her power too. Why the heck it affected her wings, I don't know."
"I thought I felt something, but since this one," Rias pointing at Yasaka, "was making me scream at the time, I couldn't concentrate on it." With that, Rias held out a hand over Akeno, concentrating, pulsing a command down the link that connected Akeno to her as Queen of Rias's peerage. After a moment, an image appeared in Rias's outstretched hand of a Queen piece from chess.
It was just an image. As king, Rias could call upon the connection between the various peerage pieces and pull them entirely out of an individual. But it was a very painful process, and Rias would rather die than cause any of her family that kind of pain. This was instead a representation of the piece within Akeno, and Rias gasped at the sight of it.
Instead of being a typical red chess piece, Akeno's Queen piece was red and black, with black veins through the red pulsing with energy. Not malignant energy, the peace wasn't broken or diseased. It was just overpowered. "You gave her one heck of a power-up Harry," She murmured, shaking her head. "A mutated pawn is worth two or three normal peerages in total. A mutated Queen piece? I've never even heard of that!"
Yasaka cocked her head thoughtfully. "Tell me, that spell you used, can you check your own power level?"
"No, but there are spells which can," Rias nodded. "Let's see, my power level was around…" Rias trailed off thoughtfully, concentrating and then tapping her own chest for a moment. A second later, Rias was staring once more in even greater shock.
In front of her was a red King piece, rotating over Rias's outstretched hand. And it shouldn't have been there.
While the leaders of a peerage were called Kings, and the peerage pieces tied to one such embedded within them, the King piece was actually the least powerful in terms of magical potential. This was obviously because if you were strong enough to become worthy of being given a peerage by Maou Beelzebub, you didn't need a powerup.
There was a rumor that Rias related that Ajuka had indeed created King pieces but that he and Sirzechs had decided they were too powerful for any Devil to command for overlong. Those who had been created were supposedly under Maou Beelzebub's personal guard at all times.
And yet, a King piece rotated in front of her, signifying Rias's power level. It wasn't mutated, as it would've been for her brother Rias having learned this spell from her brother. But it shouldn't have even been a King at all. "Well," Rias said musingly, a vicious grin of delight appearing on her face, "I think that you and Akeno are not the only ones who got power-ups recently, Harry. I wonder if that was all that the goddess passed on, though."
"That kind of question will only be answered through experimentation, which I think I can leave in your lovely hands," Harry laughed, looking down at the still-sleeping Akeno. "Now, help me shift her wings without waking her, would you? She's had a long night."
Rias grinned and nodded before pulling her phone out of her pocket, taking a picture of Akeno with her wings out, which will be going up in Rias's personal photo album. It wasn't a sexy thing or anything like that. It was just a photo album of her peerage being too cute. The sight of Akeno nibbling on the pillow, her wings idly fluttering, was perfect.
Leaving Akeno to sleep, the three went in search of Kalawarner and Yubelluna, learning that Yasaka and Rias had not been the only ones to have a divine visitation that day. Although in Kala's case, it didn't come up with any instant power-up.
In a nearby house, Kala woke up in another one of the houses with no one around her except Mittelt, who had collapsed by the bed rather than on it, a final stein rolling away from her. Well, Mittelt and the dog. For some reason, the dog had joined in the drinking competition last night. Mittelt had seemingly forgotten that Kala was the only one to ever outdrink her, and Kalawarner had decided her midget of a friend had to be put in her place again.
Staring at the dog, Kala felt a bit of admiration fill her. The giant dog, who apparently had no name yet, had proceeded to out drink everyone else but Kala herself.
Now Kala stretched luxuriously, staring up at the ceiling only to blink in surprise as a face appeared above her. A faced she hadn't seen before. The fact that Kala could almost see through said face as if the face was made of colored water to the above ceiling was odd as well. But before she could say or shout anything, the owner of that face spoke. "So, you are Kala, good to meet you in person, good to meet you in person, Smith."
"So, and I supposed to know you?" Kala asked, cocking her head to one side, pulling at her dark blue hair with one hair, her other hair under the covers for a moment.
"No, although Harry and the others who faced the Winter Fae do know me. Does that put you at ease?"
Nodding slightly, Kala released the light spear that she had been creating in one hand, crossing her arms as she looked up at the semi-ghost in front of her. She noticed out of the corner of her eye that the dog had woken up and was watching things intensely but wasn't moving from his spot on the bed.
"I am Brigid. I was once a tri-goddess. But one aspect of my being died, and another lost its personality to madness. I no longer even have the power that I would have as a god of smiths, though I do retain some spark of that sphere."
"Brigid… goddess of Inspiration, I think," Kala mused, her eyes narrowing. "You wouldn't have happened to send me a few dreams at some point, would you?"
Brigid laughed. "Excellent! I have noticed that one thing every woman in Harry's life has had in common is their high intelligence. It is good to see that that trend continues."
"Then I thank you," Kala said with a nod. "A lot of the work I've been doing on the golems and the armor for us all has been based on concepts I saw in those dreams."
Brigid smiled. "But you do know there is more work to be done, yes?"
Kala snorted, getting to her feet slowly, cracking her neck and shoulders. "Of course!"
"Good. I will then come out and say it. Would you and Akeno become students of mine? To work alongside the dwarves and learn what I can impart of magic and smithcraft?"
Realizing what this could mean, Kala, bowed from the waist formally. "I thank you for the opportunity." Which was when Harry and the others poked their heads into the house Kala had taken over.
After greeting the goddess, Harry and the others were told about her offer, while Akeno, woken up by Rias, moved around the small kitchen in the mean house, muttering 'coffee' under her breath. She was more of a tea person, but this kind of serious conversation needed more caffeine. When she was properly awake, though, she agreed to learn from Brigid just as readily as Kalawarner.
Eventually, the conversation became more about the nuts and bolts of everything. Beyond Harry and Yasaka hammering out details of what Danan as a whole meant for the Youkai and Devils (a lot in the future, not so much now), it was decided that Kiba and Issei would come along with and Loup as he followed Harry to Egypt. Gasper still wasn't to the point where he could control his powers well enough for Rias to want Gasper out and about in the non-magical world, and since the problem in Egypt straddled the line between the Wizarding World and the map non-magical world, that wasn't a good idea.
Tonks would also be going with them, while Rias would take Lily with her back to the academy, along with Asia, Koneko, Mittelt and their guests. Not only was Harry the only one able to travel between worlds, but Rias wanted to get in touch with her brother as soon as possible, or barring him, Ajuka. She wanted some tests done on herself and Yasaka, and she wanted to get some training in as well. Lily wasn't happy but understood and didn't argue for once. She had also missed Kunou and was looking forward to spending more time with her.
Koneko was also a little annoyed that she wasn't coming with Harry. Still, her transformation powers weren't good enough yet that she could keep it going for long. And unfortunately, her unusual looks would garner a lot of attention in either the non-magical or magical worlds of Egypt. And since they were going to be doing research and detective work, she didn't really bring much to the table he had that the others couldn't.
"Besides," Kiba said with a chuckle, and he was suddenly holding one of his swords, running a thumb down its edge. You've had your fun, let me have some of my own, would you?"
Koneko hissed at him, shaking her head. "Not fun."
"Not for you perhaps," the Knight rejoined.
Yasaka, too was of a mind to go with Harry, but she literally couldn't get away for more than a single day from her duties as the leader of the Youkai Association. The various constituent clans were just too fractious to leave alone for long.
"Oh," Harry said, clicking his fingers and pointing at the dog. "We should also bring him with us as well."
Kiba scrunched his eyebrows in confusion, looking at what he took to be a giant Grim. "Isn't it just a magic dog? I don't see how he would be much of a help."
The dog looked up from where he had been batting at Okuri-Inu, while dodging around Titan, seeming to be amused at the two smaller creatures. He woofed in amusement as he heard Kiba's look, then without any warning bounded forward, his teeth bared.
Kiba swiftly brought up his sword, thrusting hard towards the dog in almost an automatic reaction, not even thinking of what he was doing. However, the dog ducked underneath the blow before bounding up and slamming his head into Kiba's chest, hurling him backward.
Kiba rolled with the hit and came up holding two swords now, grimacing as he stared at the creature. "Okay, it's surprisingly skilled."
"And tough, and durable, whatever that dog is, whatever Curse resides in him, he is most decidedly not normal," Harry drawled, patting Kiba on the shoulder. "Believe me, it knocked me on my arse too."
Kiba slowly nodded again, staring at the dog in surprise. "We should spar sometime," he said pleasantly.
The dog woofed once more, crouching down, his teeth bared in a grin that screamed danger, and Kiba understood that he was saying 'how about right now', without the need for actual words. But Harry waved him off. "Not now. We'll probably see more than enough violence in Egypt."
Of the others, Akeno would stay here in Danan, along with Kala and Yubelluna, to learn from the locals. Yubelluna wanting to stay was a surprise, and Harry looked at her in question.
The Purple-haired woman shrugged her shoulders. "That giant tree that was used as the base of the Winter Court. Luna, Asia, and I attempted to cleanse the tree of their influence, but we couldn't cleanse all of it. Yet, I think I can take a few of the boughs of the tree and re-plant it, then use my bandrui powers to grow a new giant tree."
Harry nodded thoughtfully and then gestured to her to come towards him. "In that case, let's do a survey of the island and figure out where we want that to occur."
When they arrived in Tir Na Nog, Harry found Luna waiting for them, kicking her feet off the edge of the cliff face, where Harry and the others had decamped via water transportation. "Hello, and how are you doing this fine morning oh, High King of highest kings?"
That sounds as if you're telling me I'm drugged to the gills," Harry said dryly. "was that what you were going for, Luna?"
Ignoring Harry's question, Luna smiled at the sight of Kala and Akeno, curtsying to them both as well as Yasaka. "So you would be the other three that Harry is involved with."
"Quite," Yasaka chittered, amusement plain in her face as she touched the choker around her neck, her nine tails twitching behind her.
Kunou stared up at the short woman, interrupting any further introductions by saying brightly, "I love your eyes!"
Luna laughed, reaching down and impulsively hugging the little girl. Luna's eyes had gotten her a lot of negative attention at Hogwarts. Ravenclaw wasn't nearly as bad in terms of pureblood nonsense as Slytherin had become, thanks to Snape and Dumbledore's assumption of innocence. But it was still very much a house where, if you didn't conform to the normal view of what a Ravenclaw should be, you would be in a heck of a lot of trouble. Saying you liked Luna's eyes was the best way to get on her good side.
Nearby, several dozen fairies followed Rolf out of the woods, listening to him talk. A few of them were even taking notes on small parchments. Harry wondered what that was about before deciding that he had enough on his plate thank you very much. So long as it wasn't going to cause trouble for him, he would allow the two of them to do whatever they wished with Tir Na Nog.
At the same time, Luna worked her fingers into Kunou's hair and up and down her ears in such a way that the little girl nearly melted. "So... would you say that you're one foxy mama then?" she asked, looking over at Yasaka.
Yasaka began to laugh, and Harry realized that the three of them would get along just fine. Leaving the others behind to talk with Luna and Rolf – specifically Rias, who would hand over the seeds and other things she had bought - Harry led Kala and Akeno through the air towards where the dwarves had their mountain fastness.
When they arrived, Harry found work already going on above the surface, building tremendously on what he'd seen a bare day ago. Houses were going up in various places, walls near the bottom of the mountains and a few flat areas cleared for crops. Men and women of the dwarven race worked together, as the leprechauns from further down the slope moved among them, using their magical ropes and smaller hammers to good effect. The two races seemed to get along quite well, and Harry was happy to see it.
There was a tooting of a horn as the three of them came in for a landing, and they were soon met by Stonebreaker with a leprechaun lighting on his shoulder.
"Gentlemen," Harry clasped forearms with the dwarf in a warrior's grip and then gestured to the two ladies with him. "This is Kalawarner and Akeno. Akeno is one of the best intuitive Runewrights I have ever had the pleasure of working with, and Kala is attempting to become a Magi-smith and has forged quite a bit of interesting stuff. I am extremely interested in seeing what you all can learn together and from Brigid."
"And you want to trade craft secrets. Agreed, High King." Stonebreaker replied instantly.
"That easy?" Harry cocked an eyebrow in surprise.
"The foodstuffs you brought along the last time, and the materials you already gave us has won a lot of goodwill," the dwarven king chuckled as he reached up to clasp Kala and Akeno's hands. "Then, too, it's a brand new era. Time I think to set aside the desire to keep our secrets to ourselves so that we do not advance. We'll happily work with these two."
Harry nodded at that. "Well said."
At that point, the leprechaun spoke up. "Have you heard from our people on the other side?"
"No, not yet. I hopefully will soon, and I asked them to contact a friend of mine, who is far easier to find than I am." Harry said with a shrug. "I'll inform you the day I do, though."
The leprechaun shrugged and then hopped off the dwarf's shoulder. "Call me then when you lot be ready to work in cloth rather than steel."
Rolling his eyes, Stonebreaker looked at the two ladies. "Will you be staying with us?"
"We'll probably retreat to our island at night, but we will be here for a while, yes," Akeno said with a curtsy. She looked over at Harry, smiling at him and kissing his cheek tenderly. "Until next time, my husband," she whispered into his ear, delighting in the use of the term that for several months had been Rias's alone. Kala followed suit, and after a final group-hug, Harry left them there.
Harry was soon back with the others, going through to the sending stone Harry had left in Kuoh moments after, the discussion with Luna having come to a natural stopping point. As they came through, the dog, who had resisted all efforts of Lily and Kunou to name him, immediately began to whine pain. Suddenly it started to age in front of their eyes, its limbs withering, its body shrinking with age and ill health.
Everyone looked at it in shock, bar Harry, who was about to step forward and send it back, when Rias barked, "Don't!"
She stepped forward and was suddenly holding a Rook piece in one hand. She held it out, pushing her energy into it, and threw it into the dog as she intoned the ceremony. "Ye worthy, throw off thy mortal form and be reborn as my Knight. I command thee in my name, Rias Gremory!"
Slowly the Rook piece merged with the dog, and the aging halted. Halted, and then began to reverse itself, as Rias's magic went to work through the Rook piece to repair and heal the animal. At that point, Asia hopped forward, helping the process along, with Dawn Healing until the dog was back to its normal self.
It rumbled in confusion, biting at the air for a second before calming down. It looked at Asia and Rias, then very deliberately licked Asia's face, and as Asia spluttered and backed away, looked at Rias in question, its head cocked to one side.
Somehow understanding what it was asking, Rias ruffled the dog's fur. "You've seen how I treat my peerage already if you're wondering about that. As for what a peerage really is, we'll get into that at a later date. Right now, just know you're family."
The dog seems to think about it for a moment and then barked, wagged its tail once and nodded.
Harry breathed a sigh of relief, nodding over at Rias gratefully. For some reason, he wanted to defend this dog. It had been mucked about sometime in the past, and the mystery of what or who the dog was, was also starting to eat away at Harry's brain. And despite not knowing what the dog's story was, he knew that the dog was a major addition to their force already.
Turning away from the dog, whose mystery was really beginning to both amuse and frustrate him, Harry said his farewells to Lily, Kunou and the others, hugging the kids and telling them to be good. He exchanged kisses with Yasaka and Rias before a very firm hug and "a thank you again for watching Lily" with Koneko.
Koneko pulled back from the hug and suddenly was holding the Boosted Gear on her arm. She pulled the gauntlet off and formally handed it over to Harry. "You might need this for real rather than in training," she said firmly.
Harry nodded back, took the Sacred Gear, and merged it onto his arm, at which point it started to disappear. He looked at Asia, ruffling her hair, and saying, "Don't worry Asia, after we're done in Egypt, we should still have some time to do some sightseeing in Ireland. We might still have a day before we have to go back to the scholastic grind."
Smiling happily at that, Asia nodded her head and hugged him tightly before stepping back.
With Tonks, Loup, Kiba, the dog, and Issei around him, Harry took them through to Danan, and then to Ireland. Once more, he used the same sending stone that he and Rias had used before, the one overlooking the River Lee. They were soon all on the ship, lazing about as Harry's water transportation took them down to Cork and then out to the Celtic Sea once more.
As the sea came into view, Issei asked, "So, where to first? And will there be any oppai there?"
LOL. I wager a lot of people can see where I had wanted to end the last chapter. Still, this was just as good a cut-off point. FILfy will not be in the small story poll for December. It will come back in January in the small story poll Hope you all enjoyed this and the next step in Harry's various relationships. After this, it's on to Egypt, more world-building and a whole mess of violence.