13. Providing Shelter
A week had passed, and he'd managed the Fidelius, but only over the entrance to the top and the homestead right on top of it. Eh, it was still something to be proud of at least. Apparently, the underground tower was too large to contemplate charming with the Fidelius Charm. While he was a rather obscenely powerful wizard for his age, the Arithmancy told him it still wasn't nearly enough.
Neville and Sally-Anne had come through on the security protocol and were hard at work creating some sort of half-way station where refugees were going to be processed. Processing included a security contract signing, a ritual that disabled all external magics and a strip search where every item was checked for tracking magic and more. There would also be a mandatory mail-redirection ward via Gringotts.
Harry had approved and the first refugee was supposed to come in the following week. Five bedrooms had been prepared to that end already and a kitchen and sitting room were almost ready. That much was going to plan.
He'd made a slight miscalculation however when he'd asked for more elves. It took two days for six more elves to arrive, all of them recently freed because their owners were killed. Killings that never made it into the Prophet somehow. That little titbit told him enough; it was only the start of the arrivals. As expected, the rest of the week netted him twelve more elves, which made a total of twenty. Winky told him to expect a new one each month and that was without counting elves from families that were killed wholesale by Death Eaters.
While he'd already expected the war to pick up and the news to be suppressed, the speed and magnitude had caught him by surprise.
He'd given up the rest of his time in order to make large, detailed blueprints covering all his earlier plans and more, the elves were bored, and he clearly didn't have enough room to set them all at work.
His first step had been to go to Gringotts, where he'd bought another large plot of land he'd passed the last time he went shopping for land, a rather desolate stretch of barren land. The second step was hiring Gringotts to put wards up and to connect the two plots of land via a portal like the one at the train station. It cost a pretty penny, but he figured he'd earn it back sometime. There was talk of another portal to and from the bank, but that was still just talk.
The plot wasn't ready yet, but he was already planning how to use it. Mostly lodgings and a huge underground farm for now. Neville had already agreed to help him plan it out.
For now, he was expanding from the tower in seven directions, tunnelling outward and creating smaller towers at the edge of the outer wards. They would each have their own purposes, such as a hospital, library, potions labs, sciences labs, storage rooms, casting practice halls and an entertainment tower. The elves loved him for all the work.
His biggest problem at this stage was the carving. Elves could do a lot, but they couldn't carve Runes. At this point though, there wasn't any hurry, but that could change.
Then Luna came back from her trip with her father, with signed emancipation papers in hand. "I'm moving in! Until I have to return to school, at least." Was the first thing she had said, and that was just fine with him. She easily slotted in as his work partner and was helping him greatly in the carving and planning of more runic carvings.
"What's the plan today, Harry?" Luna asked him at breakfast the day the first refugee was slated to arrive.
Swallowing his bite of egg on toast, Harry pointed at the calendar. "It's opening day. We're getting our first refugees today. I'm thinking it'll be a meet and greet followed by a tour and a lot of talking. You can join me or not at your own discretion of course, but I'd like it if you were there for the first bit at least."
Luna nodded. "I'll be there, definitely. We'll need to explain the rules and ask them what they'll be wanting to do for the Homestead at least. How's it going with the map, made any progress?"
Harry nodded, "I'm only missing one part before I can start." He'd been trying to find a way to make his own map of the Homestead, a name that was already sticking in his mind after casting the Fidelius charm. Luna had also gotten to calling their Underground base the Homestead, so it was pretty much official now. He'd found his dad's journal, or rather, Dobby had, in the Potter vault. Looking through the Black vault had been a bust, Sirius wasn't one for writing a journal it seemed. From his dad's journal, he'd found the basics, but it missed one rather important part. How to add rooms to the map. It was done via a potion, but what kind and how to brew it wasn't written down.
Looking through the Black and Potter libraries, both had been transported by a bunch of eager elves from the vaults and homes into storage here, was too much work really.
"I only need a way to add rooms to the map, but how it was done never got written down." Harry shrugged. "I'll need to do research on mapping magic, I guess. Smart as they were, it's unlikely they made it up themselves."
"Have you asked them yet?" Luna asked with a smile. "They did imprint something, didn't they?"
Shocked, Harry shook his head. He pulled the map and started asking. "Prongs Junior asks how the Marauders added rooms to the map, it is the only thing Prongs never wrote down in his journal."
Prongs Junior? Did Prongs finally catch a willing doe? The writing appeared. Harry explained himself, because whatever was imprinted, it never remembered their talks.
Ah, Padfoot must shamefully admit ignorance, but is sure Moony did that bit.
Messer Moony admits it was a charm from an adventuring book but doesn't recall which.
Proud Prongs recalls it was a book about spelunking, which is a stupid sounding word.
Wormtail praises his friends' eclectic reading habits but was only involved in the actual mapping part.
"That does make it easier." Luna said, as she read over Harry's shoulder. "We should ask the elves to find books about spelunking then."
"They'd be happy to help," Harry agreed.
"Dippy, Tippy and Kipper." The elves in question popped in, already looking much better than when they first got there. "Can all of you read?"
"Kipper can read and write well. Dippy and Tippy can recognise words." Was the consensus. "Alright then, can you look through the books to find books about caves, spelunking and mapping?"
"Kipper will check what is found by Dippy and Tippy. Where should Kipper put the books?" The eldest elf answered for all three.
"Put them in Room B1 when you have them, Kipper, thank you all very much." Harry said happily. The elves nodded and popped away.
"Any idea who is coming?" Luna asked, Harry shook his head. "No clue."
She nodded. "Let's work on some rune clusters for fixtures then. We have the lights, the windows, the loo's, the showers, the hot boxes and the cold boxes ready. Shall we work on the sun-lamps now or on the sprinklers?"
"Let's do the sun-lamps next." Harry decided. They'd made a huge list of rune clusters that needed to be worked and were working on how to do them, and explanations for dummies. Since there were so many of them to replicate, they'd need to make an assembly line of sorts, or at least a DIY manual for Homestead improvement.
Scotland didn't have that many hours of direct sunlight and even then, it wasn't there enough to really grow a lot. Neville had agreed and explained that magicals made up the difference sometimes with magical lights. Harry had just taken that idea to the next extreme and pointed out that not needing to rely on the sun at all would make for a much better and more reliable production.
Turns out that most producers of magical plants - normal plants were imported - only made what they needed themselves and then kept that knowledge in the family. Harry decided that was madness and that he could do better. He already couldn't figure out why most spells were almost free - they were in books after all - but runic sequences were mostly private and personal. Of course, lots of spells were kept secret in family libraries, but still.
If only there was a free public library. If only there was a book of one thousand nifty runic sequences that make your life a hundred times easier! But there wasn't, not yet at least.
Harry wanted one, and Luna agreed. They were one hundred percent sure Hermione would agree as well. The incoming refugees, well, they wouldn't really have a choice in the matter. It was in their contract.
At a little after twelve, Harry felt the wards and heard them chime. They went topside to let them in. Luna stood next to him as he finally recognised them and squeezed his hand in support.
The first two refugees were here, and they were surprising! For one, both were pure bloods, for another, both were Slytherins. Astoria Greengrass and Pansy Parkinson of all people! Astoria's eyes were bloodshot so her presence couldn't be for good reasons. She was all but hanging off Pansy's arm for support.
Neville waved. "Code Hufflepuff, they're all clean and under contract. I'm heading back, see you tomorrow with another one."
Harry nodded and waved him away. "Hi there, I don't know what brought you here yet, but you don't need to worry at all from now on." Harry greeted them, forcefully holding his prejudice in check. "You're safe here." Luna added.
"And where is here, exactly? It's not much, is it?" Pansy spoke up, also clearly holding back her snarky attitude.
Harry shook himself as he understood, they couldn't see anything but the barn for now. "Ah, it's a bit invisible for now, let's get you inside before I explain, yeah?"
"Inside the barn, Potter? Did I make a mistake, coming here? It sure seems like it." Pansy snapped, prompting a short laugh from Luna, who clearly saw the humour in the situation.
"The entrance to the Homestead is right behind me." Harry shared the secret.
"A small house then... I'm still missing something, aren't I?" Pansy gave them the benefit of the doubt. "Since you said entrance." Or she'd just caught his words.
Luna nodded. "Yes, it's just the entrance. The real Homestead is below it. Lead on, Harry."
The first floor down the rabbit hole changed her tune. "Underground, huh. How many levels of this?"
"Five, but we're also building offshoots to smaller towers for now and we have plans for another, larger plot." Harry told her.
"You're kidding?! Not just a small house, indeed!" She sounded impressed, even Astoria looked a bit better. "It seems you have been planning! What are you expecting from us? Longbottom spoke of doing some work to earn our keep."
Harry pointed at the wall.
Common Rules and Courtesies in the Potter Homestead:
1: Treat people how you'd like to be treated. (all races included)
2: Try to be useful at least four hours each day. (learn or produce something useful)
3: Clean up after yourself.
4: Respect others' privacy. (knock on closed doors stuff, mostly)
5: Don't complain about something you can fix yourself.
6: Try to see solutions instead of problems.
7: No means No, boundaries are there for a reason.
When he was sure they were reading, he tried to explain. "At the moment, I expect nothing much. You're clearly escaping something, so just get yourself settled in for now. I assume going to Hogwarts is out of the question since that would end your escape? Yes, so I suggest you educate yourself in the meantime. There's plenty of books, but we're still working on a library to put them in." Harry tried to set them at ease, and he could see it working by the set of their shoulders.
"We'll be giving you a short tour in a bit, but first a hearty lunch since I'm assuming you're hungry. As this sanctuary is still very much under construction, you'd be very welcome to help with that. But more on that later. If you'll follow me, I'll take you to the dining room."
It was a simple large room, with a long wooden table and a long wooden bench, just like Hogwarts in that way. On a whiteboard in the room were the names of two elves who were working in the kitchen today, Rudy and Bebby, and the menu right next to it.
Luna showed them how it worked by calling for a Caesar salad with cold water, which immediately appeared in front of her. "Thank you, Rudy, and Bebby." The rest emulated her, and a conversation started.
"How many House elves do you have here, Potter?"
Harry grimaced. "If you're staying here, you'll be seeing me daily. Call me Harry please, I feel like Snape is talking to me when I hear someone say Potter." Pansy nodded and he continued. "There's twenty at the moment, but I'm told more are coming."
"And how did you manage that, Harry?" Astoria spoke up, trying out his name.
He grinned. "I asked." Pansy rolled her eyes but said nothing. "Seriously though, the elves are a tight knit community, when I asked, some answered the call. It appears the Dark Lord is killing families and leaving behind elves, mostly pure bloods at the moment, which caught me by surprise somewhat."
Astoria cried. "Is Tibby here? Tibby?" POP, "little mistress called?" The elf was immediately assaulted by the crying girl. It wasn't an elf Harry recognised yet, but then, that didn't say much. He hadn't yet learned all twenty names and faces yet.
This did answer why she was here for the most part, but Harry still wanted to know. "Astoria, why did he kill your family, do you know, can you tell me?"
She took a moment to dry her eyes and get herself together. "My father is a, - was a sympathiser, but didn't come through on some sort of deal. They killed him, my mom and my sister in response. I was at a friend's house when it happened. My friends' parents didn't want me to stay when they heard what had happened and tossed me out. My godparents, the Browns, took me in for a bit, and they sent me to Neville when he sent word via a letter."
Harry nodded. "Neville said he'd take care of it, and actually used his house elves to find people in your situation. The elves heard and decided to help, which is part of the reason why they know to come here." With a frown, he asked both. "Is Tibby not bound to you, Astoria?"
"No, my father didn't trust Tibby, so he bound him solely to himself instead of binding him to the family."
"Alright. That makes sense. Tibby, would you like to bond with Astoria, or with me? If you bond with Astoria, you should know she's bound by contract to keep Homesteads secrets, which means you will be too."
Tibby looked up at him and nodded. "Tibby has heard about the Great Harry Potter sir, but Tibby wants to bond to the Little Miss Tori and will keep both your secrets."
"That's decided then." He looked to Pansy. "Do you want to talk about it, or would you rather not?"
Pansy snorted. "I'm sure it's not a surprise to you that my family is riddled with Death Eaters and sympathisers. First, I was betrothed to Draco Malfoy, and I was pressured into being the best girlfriend and wife-to-be to him as I could. I complied, because otherwise my parents would sell me to the highest bidder. I don't know if you're aware, but those are mostly rich and disgusting lords that use and abuse women only to throw them away when they're bored. My particular misfortune was supposed to be Augustus Rookwood, who was broken out of Azkaban last year and needed a new heir. Trouble was, my dad had told stories about that guy, and I would rather kill myself than submit to that monster. Then Neville heard about my predicament at a party, and he offered a way out. So, here I am, can't be worse than what was in store for me."
"Well, that sure sucks." He had to admit. "For what it's worth, I'm sorry for what happened, and I hope you'll feel at home here soon enough."
Luna broke the awkward silence, "let's do the tour, show you the expansion plans and talk about things you could help with! Does either of you two like to paint? Or some indoor decorating? It doesn't have to be good either, right now the Homestead is so painfully boring! So… Boringly Normal!"
Astoria giggled and Pansy smirked. "Ah, if that's what's needed, I'm sure we can help."
Half an hour later, Luna dismissed Harry with a smile, "I've got this, Harry, you can go play."
14. Decorations and Dilemma's
The next day, Hermione arrived with her ideas for the library, and dragged him off immediately after lunch. Luna and Astoria went to welcome the newcomers and Pansy started on interior design, starting with more comfortable seating.
Harry approved of her designs and told her what he'd learned of elves. It was a though discussion, but she couldn't deny the facts as he'd laid them out. With testimony in the form of three elves who confirmed his words followed by a complaint for more work, Hermione was reluctantly won over.
In the end, those three elves were hard at work under Hermione's precision direction and he left her to it. Harry had another conundrum on his hands.
Was transfiguration permanent? No, McGonagall said. Why? Because the magic that makes up the difference dissipates sometimes and that takes it back to its base state. That's what the books say. Make up the difference, what does that mean? Harry knew something about molecules from the basic science books he'd read from Dudley over the years, and he figured that had to be it. But what if the energy that transfigured something was only using the existing molecules. Wasn't that what transmutation was? Equivalent exchange, Alchemy?
At any rate, building with transfigured materials was stupid because they'd eventually revert. At least he thought so, McGonagall never really explained that correctly.
So now, Harry was going to experiment. He took five grains of sand and transfigured them into a cube of one inch by one inch, two inches by two inches, four by four and eight by eight inches. He did that using as little power as necessary, just what felt right basically. The last grain of sand he transfigured into eight-by-eight inches, but he put as much power and intent behind it as he could with the intention to make it permanent. Then he dropped some coins on all of them and sat to read on that very same topic.
An hour later, he read something interesting and wrote it down when the first transfiguration failed. It was the eight-by-eight inches minimum powered one. A Tempus told him it had been sixty-three minutes. When it was almost time for dinner, he was pretty sure he knew what was going on. If he was right, it would be another three hours before the next one would expire, exactly eight times as long as the first one had lasted.
His findings agreed with the book's theory, which is that the greater the size difference, the shorter it lasts. Since most people's control sucks, they use standard amounts of magic per spell and per transfiguration. Especially in people with lots of power, this is considered a rule. Harry certainly fell in that category. This meant that the cubic measurements held up. Twice as long, twice as thick and twice as high meant a total of eight times more magic needed. In truth, it almost didn't matter what was transfigured, since he was in reality conjuring 99,999% of it when going from a single grain.
Permanent transfiguration was a thing, but it required lots and lots of power and was in actuality the same as permanent conjuration but with a different source of matter.
The book theorised that transfiguration needed a lot of magic to find a stable state and thus make it permanent, but that it would be easier with a better source, since it required less change. Which, frankly, was a given.
It was the same reason why keeping a well-built house upright, demanded less power than the Burrow for example.
Intent was the other half of the equation. Harry believed that it was possible when using equivalent exchange, using magic to mould matter instead of outright substituting it or holding it upright. So long as the caster wants to use the source matter and only the source matter, transfiguration should be so very much simpler and permanent when done right. At least, that was Harry's current hypothesis.
Reading Dudley's book taught him the scientific method, so he already knew what he'd do.
His earlier tries were timed and measured, so he should be able to predict exactly when they'd revert. Harry took five minutes to calculate them and write them down before going to dinner. He'd try to test the rest of his hypothesis later.
Perhaps he'd even get a Transfiguration Mastery out of it if he succeeded, but in the short term, it meant transfigurations that would last at least a few years and perhaps forever. Furnishing an ever-growing base wouldn't be such a money sink that way.
"Hi all." Harry greeted everyone at the table before stopping cold.
The Creevey boys! Shite. It was good that he hadn't said it out loud, because they had clearly been crying. "Err, how've you settled in boys, think you could live here?"
All that went through his mind when they started chattering sadly and much less animatedly than before - due to their trauma. 'Oh hell, at least they've improved.' Did thinking that make him a bad person? Perhaps, but that didn't make it any less true.
"So, to sum it up, in two weeks' time, we've got Pansy Parkinson, Astoria Greengrass, Collin and Dennis Creevey, Su Li, Susan Bones, Nigel Wolpert, Stella Travers, Iris Wolpert, Elm Rowle, Corrie Grace, Paula Pots, Dawn Dots, Angela Mallard and Simeon Cross. Another six elves, not counting Astoria's elf, at least eleven owls and six other pets. Is that about it?" Harry asked Pansy, who had somehow become his secretary.
Susan and Su Li hadn't even been in real danger yet, but their parents had heard of the offer and decided to take it immediately. Better to stay underground for a few years than die in a pointless war. The rest had good reasons for wanting to escape, often being the last of their family unit.
She nodded. "That's eleven girls and three boys, not counting you, of which six are pure bloods, two are half-bloods and six are muggle born. We've plenty of bedrooms for now, since some are bunking together, but expansion is needed in the future. I've asked the elves, and food production needs to go up fast too, but you already knew that."
He did know that which is why he'd put a rush order on the portal that he was surely going to need. His account manager had also given him the cup that was said to help heal. He was drinking from it daily, but it didn't seem to do much. Perhaps the actual process was lost to the ages, but even so, Harry quite liked using it to drink water every morning and evening. It held a prominent spot on his drawer.
"The goblins have finished warding the plot, so we could start there, but I'd rather wait until the portal is ready. If they see us digging into the ground, they'll figure out what we're doing quickly, I'm sure." Harry summed up. "What about amenities, has everyone got a working light, toilet, shower, faucet, you name it?"
"You mean do the runes work and does production have to be stepped up yet? Yes and no, we're doing fine on that front. Though people are missing some entertainment, I've pointed them at rules 5 and 6 and left them to it."
Harry nodded with a satisfied smirk. "That's basic amenities down at least. I know Hermione has a basic outline for the library up already and is now just sprucing it up with tons of handy runes and nice furniture. I'd say things are looking good!"
"Yes. Now you have the time, you need to mingle more, you are the lord of the Homestead, you know. People need to see their ruler." Pansy needled him.
Oh, she was dead serious, Harry knew that, but he didn't see it the same way at all. Astoria Greengrass had shed her pure-blooded youth like a cloak, happily painting the walls with Luna, sometimes with her bare hands. Pansy on the other hand, had gleefully assumed the mantle of lady of the manor she had been trained for all her life, or something like that. More like a personal assistant really, but with an incredible attitude to match. Harry really didn't know what to think of it, if only she wasn't so incredibly useful.
Deciding to be immature about it, he stuck out his tongue at her. "Any news from the outside?"
"Yes, actually." Pansy ignored his childishness with ease. "Dumbledore hasn't been seen in public since school ended, and according to Longbottom, has resigned from his post of Headmaster in favour of McGonagall because of his failing health. He expects to die soon."
"Hmm, and about the war?" If he were honest, Harry didn't care one bit about Dumbledore.
"Same as ever, the Prophet's reports only mention pureblood and half-blood deaths, while muggleborns and muggles are ignored totally. I should hand it to you though, from what I'm hearing, many parents of muggleborns are fleeing the country with their children. Half-bloods usually stay, I'm told. Mostly because of your letter."
"Hogwarts will be rather empty then. Last time I checked, about a third of the school were muggleborns." He didn't actually know, but it seemed a good estimate.
"More like a quarter," Pansy corrected. "And a lot of them will stay anyway, stubborn fools."
"Perhaps, they haven't had the experience after all." Harry shook his head. "About studying, is everyone still learning?"
"Yes! In fact, they've banded together in groups that rush through the curriculum. Hogwarts teaches just as many facts and histories than it does spells. We don't really need that now, so we disregard it entirely."
"Ah, I can see that. All they need and can do are the wand courses, Runes, Arithmancy and very limited potions." He agreed. "I assume they've dropped History, Astronomy, Herbology, CoMC, Divination and Muggle Studies entirely then?"
"No, actually. You're mostly right, but the muggleborns are teaching a greatly expanded Muggle Studies program to the rest, those who are interested at least. They got some elves to get them muggle coursebooks and are planning to get at least their GCSEs, whatever those are."
Harry's eyebrows raised, "not a bad idea that." He had a thought. "Perhaps we can build a company that deals with the muggle world, producing stuff and selling it. Having workers that can go muggle would definitely help. Ah, something for the future perhaps."
"Planning for the future is all good and well, but we need to start with the towers. The elves have done a marvellous job so far building the shells but we need to outfit the rest." Pansy pointed out.
She had a point, but there was still little to no use making potion labs without ingredients. "I have the plans, but we still need to fix a whole lot of holes in them. Like how to ward the walls, floors, roofs and doors in the casting ranges, how to charm and rune the potion stations and more." He had an idea. "How about we split those tasks up in certain groups with people who have an interest in those towers. That way, the ones who'll be using it, will be responsible for it."
"Rule 5 is turning out to be a good one." Pansy agreed with a smile. Alright, I'll make a note in the project chamber. We'll have a meeting an hour before dinner tonight, I'll spread the word."
"Sounds like a plan!"
15. Fighting Back
A lot of time had passed, and Hogwarts would start back up in a week. The latest big news was The End of a Legend: Dumbledore Dies in Sleep. Harry couldn't help but think that this would set off the war for real.
It was already starting to look like he was right. Amelia Bones had been voted in as Interim Minister when the previous Minister was found dead of a stab wound to the heart, clearly not a DE kill. She was starting to make waves wanting to get the restrictions on Auror responses lifted, meaning they could return fire with fire when attacked with deadly force.
That particular bit of news explained a lot. A short history lesson told the readers how after the previous war, restriction after restriction was piled on the DMLE, together with ever increasing budget cuts. The main proponents of these measures were the Imperius Defence Squad and Albus Dumbledore! That was quite the shock, wasn't it?
At Homestead, another five girls and one boy had arrived, one half-blood and the rest were muggleborns. Three of those girls had almost been raped and killed before they had been popped away by elves in the confusion. One of them had been raped multiple times, only to be taken half-starved from the home of a recently killed Death Eater, the elves were really impressing the hell out of everyone in the Homestead. They were doing most of the rescue work on their own initiative, and Harry could only praise their actions. It did mean that he now had another ten elves, totalling thirty-six? He didn't even know anymore.
With the increase in the workforce and the very recently completed portal, the goblins were no longer watching, and Harry had given the go-ahead for project Greenhouse. The new plot of land would house great underground greenhouses seven layers down the bedrock, totalling about 45000 square feet per level. That was plenty of space for what was needed.
Plans for mundane crops would take up half the space and magical crops would fill the rest. Neville was pretty sure he could efficiently make perfect produce if the sunlamps substituted the sun as fully as expected. Water sprayed manually by activating runic arrays would make maintaining the crops very easy. Air circulation was of course a must, so that was another priority, but that only needed a tweak from the original array. Testing the soil was easy, those spells were known to Neville, so maintaining soil quality would be the most labour-intensive portion aside from the planting and harvesting.
The magic needed for such an endeavour would quickly add up, so Harry used what he knew to channel as much magic as was necessary through the walls from the earth in order to power the demand. The individual arrays such as the sun lamp and the water distribution would be coming from the workers, be they wizard or elf.
Neville and the elves couldn't wait, but the carving of the runes was only just finished on one level so far, so they had to wait longer. Since the elves needed more work, Harry let them build an underground hotel, stealing the layout from a successful chain and only adapting it slightly for underground use.
Five people had a passion for Runes in the Homestead, but only four were really fit for assembly line jobs. Luna was more useful in the Research and Development section, which she had taken to leading. But as she was leaving for Hogwarts very soon, it was more a case of organising a structure instead of leading.
Harry had his own scientific research going on, and it had everything to do with transfiguration of the permanent kind. Basically, he was working on a method of reshaping matter, recycling it. While his test had run its course with the results within parameters, he still wasn't happy with his findings, as the maximum power transfiguration was still a magical construct. That wasn't what he was going for, even if it seemed to be pretty permanent so far.
With the right intent, he could for all intents and purposes, use transfiguration as a charm. It was helpful and a step in the right direction, but he suspected he was doing it the wrong way around. It was as near permanent as could be, since it used the same mass, but it still read as a construct. What he really needed was a charm that worked like a transfiguration, because that way, it wouldn't be a magical construct but matter in a constant state.
Or perhaps a spell that turned a magical construct into matter in a constant state. Basically, like a save button, or like firing up the kiln when your clay figurine was just right. That particular idea sounded very right.
A finite incantatem wouldn't end matter in a constant state like a reparifors or reparifarge would end a magical transfiguration on animate or inanimate matter.
Human transfiguration was considered permanent unless untransfigured, which meant it drained magic to sustain itself from the target. Same as putting a permanence rune on a transfigured or conjured item. Basically, both were using magical duct-tape to hold something together. Harry wanted a save button. He needed to craft a spell.
Crafting a spell required Arithmancy, so he first needed to understand exactly how transfigurations worked down at the magical mathematical level. Luckily, there were plenty of treatises on that, unluckily, it was because nobody had yet fully cracked it yet. Harry had a hunch though, because it made no sense for something to revert exactly to how it was before when the magic ran out. If the magic had truly run out, it wouldn't do anything anymore and the changed or conjured parts would fall apart entirely.
That made him think that the undiscovered piece of the transfiguration arithmancy was the exact reverse of the spell with a minimum energy level trigger so that transfiguration stayed safe.
To do away with that part entirely, would make the changed or conjured parts fall apart entirely, just as he'd speculated before, but would that be a good thing? The actual matter would be spread out and turn into a fine dust when reverted. Dust you didn't want to breathe in. Imagine breathing metal dust. No, just no.
The one permanent transfiguration was the aguamenti spell, which conjured drinkable water. People had been drinking that one for ages with no ill effects, so he would start there. If he could replicate that process for other matter, he could rework the simple transfigurations that just changed one kind of matter into that same kind of matter in a different shape. Even if that worked, it would only work for pure materials to start with.
Was that so, though? Humans don't do too well with drinking pure water, which meant Aguamenti wasn't pure at all. If that was true, he could learn how to conjure everything permanently, which was basically summoning the matter from the ether. That would be amazing, if probably very magic intensive, depending on what was conjured.
At any rate, Harry wasn't near ready for his Mastery, but he had found an unexpected passion in solving this puzzle. It was fun like creating runic arrays was, but on a greater level. He was cheating quite heavily with the almost constant use of Ravenclaw's Diadem, but who wouldn't?
Progress didn't wait for anybody, and Harry was going to use every resource at his disposal.
Hogwarts term started today, the train had just left the station and Homestead had thirty-three inhabitants. Recent additions were four adults, a pair of muggles and a pair of magicals. Nice people all. The other twenty-nine were kids, of which four were below Hogwarts age and none above. The sexual divide was heavily skewed in favour of girls for a few reasons, but Harry wouldn't have minded that if not for the Creevey's. He would trade them in for more girls in an instant. Out of eight boys, two just had to be hyperactive follower types. Sure, he was somewhat happy that they were adjusting so well, but did they have to bother him so?
Dennis had taken quite a liking to Runes, which made him rather easy to deal with, but Colin just didn't have a power-off-button. Harry had recently taken to sending him to Pansy so that she could relegate some work his way. For some inscrutable reason, both didn't seem to mind that arrangement. Some people he would never understand, but he'd gladly taken the win and stopped thinking about it. Gift horses and such.
Progress was going fantastic, even if Neville had left for Hogwarts. He had ordered the Longbottom elves to teach the Homestead elves how to garden efficiently, and that made all the difference. Apparently, they relished the new challenge. Harry was actually shoved out of the door when he came to ask if he could help them manage the plants the second time. That suited him just fine. The projections assured him that lack of food was a problem of the past. Start-up costs were rather high - who knew plants cost that much? - but Harry didn't mind that.
-Map? Check, both bases have maps on their B1 floors, showing everyone everywhere except the bedrooms out of privacy concerns.
-Portal? Up and running. Permanent linked mirrors show when the coast is clear for entry.
-Mini-towers? All seven structures are done, four out of seven are ready for use.
-Underground plantations? All seven structures are done, four out of seven are ready for use.
-Hotel? Super-structure is almost fully dug out, runes come later as needed. After that, it was a matter of furnishing and that could be done with Reparo'd second-hand stuff.
The elves now numbered more than enough, and the managing elves were getting great at their jobs. Harry was basically only bothered for any major decisions and otherwise left to his research or entertainment.
Honestly, he'd never had more free time than he had now, and Luna had bugged him from afar until he'd taken up painting lessons with Astoria Greengrass. Three days in and he was pretty much hooked! It helped that he got along great with Astoria, who was turning back into her old self, a generally happy person. Basically, Luna but more Vanilla.
Since entertainment was one of the biggest needs and draws in this place, that tower had been furnished in record time. It had turned into a meeting place for all, just like mealtimes. Both sets of parents had settled into their new roles as minders basically and got along with the other couple. Which was great because Harry would have been out of options otherwise.
Without any more visits from Hermione, Luna, Neville and Sally-Anne, he was going to need to socialise more. Astoria was great, no doubt about it, but Pansy was right. Paraphrasing a little, he was still the owner and he should get to know his tenants.
If he was being very honest, he liked only two of the guys and less than half of the girls, but that would do to start with. Perhaps it was an idea to visit the muggle study lessons and help out, or even to help teach some runes?
Of course, nothing good lasts long, Harry should have expected some bad news by now. A month after Hogwarts had started, the war took a turn. He was just glad Susan had some support to help her through the pain of losing a loved one. Her aunt had just been murdered, a mere week after she'd managed to lift the Auror restrictions. Amos Diggory, her political ally, and father of the late Cedric Diggory had also been found murdered. If Voldemort had done this just to discourage fighting back, he had failed, because for once the Prophet reported the news in an uplifting way.
Auror restrictions lifted, proponents for the Bill Killed. Death Eaters running scared?
Fighting back causes fear in Death Eater hearts, should the public fight back?
Tips for defending yourself vigorously against Death Eater attacks!
Ministry Proves Potter Wrong, We Can Fight Back!
Honestly, Harry hadn't expected this kind of reporting at all! But he was sure he liked it. It was high time people started defending themselves instead of relying on others.
Dobby had sent out an elf with an invitation to shelter in Homestead but Mrs. Diggory hadn't accepted. He didn't care either way, but Harry felt better for extending the offer anyway.
With that, casualty reports started back up immediately. On the plus side, many would-be victims fought back, often taking some of their attackers with them.
The elves even reported two cases where, instead of immediately taking the option of evacuation when under attack, the magicals had taken a few pot-shots before leaving with the elves. One of them had accepted a place at Homestead with his parents and little sister and was immediately declared a hero to Harry's great amusement. It helped that he had already graduated Hogwarts and had at least two girls with crushes following him around now.
Then Harry had been approached by the three newest adults and learned something great! Not only were the muggle parents both high school teachers, but since they didn't have enough money to send their daughter to Hogwarts, their wizard son had been planning on teaching his sister magic instead. In short, all three would gladly take over some of the educational needs around the place, which would really help out. They only asked for a dedicated space to teach, and Harry was only too glad to oblige. He tasked Dobby with organising an entire floor for just that purpose, with all the books and other necessities. Dobby was glad for the work and had it done in two days.
16. Community Works
Spells existed to improve plant growth, but they still needed the nutrients from the soil. Dobby, in his frustration with the work demanding elves, had quickly told them to start storing good earth so that they could switch the earth after every successful harvest. That helped for a bit, but still more and more elves were coming in.
Consulting with Harry had given him another two ideas. Digging around garbage heaps for broken furniture and stuff that could be magically fixed up and used to furnish the newest apartments. When that was going well, Dobby himself came up with another idea. He was having teams of elves scouring the garbage heaps for stuff to repair and store or sell. It was incredible how much stuff the homestead needed but didn't have and the elves were allowed to improve that on their own initiative.
With a deep sigh, Dobby mentally congratulated himself for thinking of this.
Master Harry sir then challenged him with the following question. What would the elves want to do if they were allowed some free time or to make their own homes to live in? He didn't fail to understand that the question wasn't rhetorical in the least. Having a good master could be such a pain sometimes! Then again, he wouldn't trade this life for his old one even if he could.
He called a meeting of the elves and stood proud. "Master Harry be very proud of us!" He waited calmly until the screams of happiness and a few fist stomping ruffians were done with their outburst.
"Master Harry be wanting us to look after ourselves better than we'se been doings! He says to build our own elf homes in elf towers with elf decorations!" His fellow elves were looking at each other with doubt in their eyes. Dobby noticed this. "You'se all seen the paintings the master be doing. He tells Dobby, that perhaps elves like to try painting each other and hanging the paintings all over the Home. Not just our nests, but all over the Home too!"
"You'se all seen the little witches and wizards be having fun in many ways, so that they's can be happy. Master Harry Potter sirs be wanting that for us elves too."
"Netty not be knowing how?" One female spoke up. "But Netty can be learning?" Dobby nodded and Netty smiled. "Netty wanting to be learning, it be looking like fun."
"Lippy not be wanting to paint, does Lippy have to?"
Dobby thought it over, before shaking his head. "No! Master says Lippy be doing what she be wanting to do for at least two hours each day. That can be painting, but not needing to be painting. What does Lippy be wanting to do?"
Lippy shrugged. "Lippy be thinking about it."
Dobby nodded. "Please all be thinking about it. Master Harry be wanting us happy and having fun!"
"Master Harry is the greatest master!" "The greatest!" "Master Harry!" The elves cheered happily, and Dobby sighed in relief. That couldn't have gone any better.
Harry had to laugh at Astoria's painting of himself. Both were making portraits of the other, purely to see how they would turn out. "That's amazing, Astoria, I really like the nose!" His nose had turned out really badly, a clear mistake on her part. She had started from the eyes to the nose and down to the mouth, foregoing the head shape for now.
She wrinkled her nose and pouted cutely. "I'd like to see you do any better!" She challenged him.
He had, of course, expected this. As such, when he turned her likeness around so that she could inspect it, she flipped! "What! I don't look like that!"
Astoria was a clearly human shaped blob with a slightly exaggerated wrinkle in her button nose and smudges of red on her cheeks. Under her annoyed face, were the words: Astoria, Annoyed.
Harry chortled loudly and nodded. "I know! I missed the pout! Sorry about that."
She held up her brush threateningly. "That's not what I meant, and you know it!
"What? Is the wrinkle too much?" He asked her innocently. "I'll have to work on that bit then next time I try this."
"Aargh!" She cried. "My forehead isn't that big! And I don't even have hair yet!"
Harry held up his hands in mock surrender. "And that's why the forehead looks so big. I just wanted to get the shape of the head right first. The eyes are generally in the exact middle of the head, you know. Right between the bottom of the chin and the top of the head."
That stopped her irritation cold. "Truly? How'd you know that?"
"Muggle schools have arts and crafts. I didn't do much of that, but it did teach me some stuff." Harry admitted. "There's all sorts of stuff you can practice to help you get better. It helps to measure everything the first few times. For example, you could use a centimetre to get the proportions right and then colour along the lines.
Astoria used her hands to check herself and then looked at Harry carefully. "Is that why my heads usually look strange?"
He shrugged. "Maybe? I don't know. You've never shown me your work on portraits before."
Looking at him carefully, she nodded. "Don't laugh when you see them, and I'll show you."
"I won't." He promised. She scurried to the closet and grabbed four paintings. "Look then."
He couldn't help his grimace. "Sorry. It looks like it. You start out with the features and then decide to form a head around them, don't you?"
She nodded with an annoyed expression. "Teach me?"
A bit surprised, Harry nodded. "I think we should order some muggle stuff on that first; it's not like I know it all. Perhaps start out with pencil drawings and work ourselves back up to painting later?"
Astoria blushed and wrinkled her nose, exactly like in his painting. The sight could only be called cute, and Harry felt himself heat up. "Every Monday and Thursday after dinner." She decided. "I'll be counting on you."
Feeling himself blush in response, he inclined his head. "Sure, Astoria. I'll be there. I'll get us some stuff to work on before next time then."
Her blush increased in intensity. "Great! See you at dinner." That said, she walked straight out of the room, forgetting all about her stuff.
He could only chuckle to himself when he realized what was happening here. She felt the same way he did, that awkward attraction that pushed all other thoughts out of his head. Amused at himself and at Astoria, he decided to just finish his painting, starting with repainting her wrinkled nose.
Luna was setting them up all the way from Hogwarts, trying to at least. Her letters always made a point to name Astoria and ask about her wellbeing, how they got along and everything. He wouldn't be surprised if she did the exact same with Astoria. He couldn't even be angry at his friend for it either, as he already really started to like Astoria. Then he recalled her words last year. Was this the girl she said he'd meet this year? The chance was rather good, since he was locked up in Homestead with her. There was that logic thing she said though, he didn't see how that would fit.
Blushing again, the thought made him feel happy. He should tell Luna, already able to imagine the letter. "Hi Luna! You were right, I really did need a friend and Astoria is proving to be great company. I find myself enjoying her company and seeking her out at meals. Yesterday, we painted each other's likeness, and I realised that I thought she was incredibly cute. Is this who you meant last year? If so, I don't know how losing logic to magic has anything to do with it. Nevertheless, I thank you for pushing me to join her in painting stuff. How's Hogwarts doing? Is Snape keeping the Carrows leashed?"
He chuckled sadly. "Hogwarts is going to the dogs with Crucio-ing teachers. I'm happy I'm not there, but sad that my friends are. And now I'm talking to myself, which is great, really."
"There, now her nose is just as pretty as in real life." He sighed and stood. "Might as well clean up. I need to send a few letters."
Out in the hallway, Astoria held her breath and backed away silently.
After she'd fled, she realised all her drawings were still out, and one was something she'd rather Harry didn't see. Heading back, she had hesitated just outside the door. That led to her hearing everything he had just said, and now she couldn't stop thinking he was right. Sure, she didn't understand everything, but he was right about their relationship. He liked her, that much was clear now, and she liked him back just the same.
It was no declaration of love on either end, but Astoria was curious to see where they could go. Painting a few times a week and sharing meals was an excellent way to see how they fit together. Not that she didn't already know; Harry wasn't a particularly difficult puzzle to crack. They'd fit just fine, and she knew it! Ugh, Pansy was going to be insufferable when she found out! Or not, if her fascination with the Creevey boy lasted. Then again, who could she tell? They were pretty sheltered here, in their new home.
Home. It was already fast becoming home, more than Hogwarts ever was and her old home was- No, not nearly ready to think about that. There, she only had her increasingly downtrodden mother and sister. Both were dead now. Here, she was actually learning to be happy again. Comparisons were for much, much later.
"Nope, and it's Telephones, not Tellyphones. You're taking two different things and putting them together. Telephones are for talking to each other over distances." Harry corrected. "The telly, or television, is a device that shows images and sound together. They show records of plays and current happenings alternatively."
"Why can't we do that with magic?" John Duffy asked, he was a recent graduate from Hogwarts that had yet to find a suitable job.
Shrugging, Harry answered. "Because nobody tried to make them yet, I suppose. I bet we could figure it out though, if you're willing to put in a lot of work. I imagine a pensieve could be made to work like a telly, but those are supposedly terribly difficult to enchant."
Lenta Farley nodded. "There's already stuff like that. Mirrors that connect and stuff."
"That's what we need to learn then. One just for sound and another for both at once." Harry decided, thinking of Sirius' mirror. "We can put one next to each map and call people on the mirror that's closest when we need them."
Dawn Dots smiled. "Any idea how to start our research?" She was like a miniature Hermione, two years younger and a Ravenclaw.
"Well, there's the Protean charm, which links two objects together, making changes on one end appear on the other. If we use that to transfer sound and image, we have our basic single connection." Harry grinned, thinking of Hermione's galleons. "We need a system that connects a lot but only makes the connection you want. You should focus your research there. There's a chance I have some notes on making the basic mirrors somewhere, so I have those to look for."
"Alright, Harry." She grinned. "You should come by more often; you clearly have a lot to share."
He looked around to see the group nodding earnestly. "I'll do that." He agreed.
17. Exodus and Lockdown
Harry had the elves gather the stuff on the marauders before, so it was a quick search for the mirrors. Not everything was exactly detailed, but the basics were certainly there, which gave the research group a great starting point!
Two weeks later, the Daily Prophet had reported the start of the Muggleborn Registration Act, where a census of all muggleborns, their addresses and relations were registered. Hermione had immediately sent a letter letting him know of the likelihood they'd be getting an influx of all the muggleborns at Hogwarts.
They had taken refuge in the Room of Requirement when the Aurors had come knocking and were now waiting for any opportunity to escape. Many abused half-bloods also resided there, mostly those who had lost contact with their muggle born parents. She had talked it over with Neville and they were willing to do the security checks on site, if transport could be arranged.
Transport was rather easy, elves could pop right through the wards, Harry knew. Dobby confirmed they had plenty of volunteers to get some new kids.
Harry had quickly found Pansy, his assistant. "Pansy, you were right! At least eleven muggleborns were stupid enough to keep attending Hogwarts and now it looks like they'll be in trouble soon. A few half-bloods are also wanting to come here. You're keeping track of resources; do you think we could handle the influx?"
Pansy looked smug, but she nodded. "Certainly, Harry. Your underground hotel is still almost totally unused. Food production has also greatly eclipsed our needs, so we're good there too. That's room and board done, right there. The main tower can also handle double the traffic, especially if we alternate in using the rooms. Only teachers are in short demand, but almost everything can be learned in study groups."
"So, how many should we be expecting?" She asked.
He shrugged and smiled in relief. "Anything from eleven to thirty, I think. I'll be getting more details when I send word that we have the space."
"Then do so." Pansy decided. "But I'll need an assistant from that batch if I want to keep things running smoothly."
"By all means!" Harry laughed. "Just out of curiosity, it's clear you're enjoying the leadership role you've taken on, are you practising for something?"
Pansy looked at him seriously. "I've always been raised to be the perfect pureblood wife, to act demurely in public and manage the household in private. This gives me the chance to practice for the latter and I rather like it! It feels like I'm managing a household and a business in one, and I can see where this is heading, Harry. What you're building here, is clearly a business. I want to keep my leadership position even after the war." She grinned. "Sure, I'll be wanting a good salary then, but that's the only thing that would change."
"Well, it's a rather unorthodox job interview, but you're hired!" He chuckled. "I have sometimes thought we could turn this into a business, it's true. Why don't you start thinking about how you imagine that working and we'll make it work together?"
With a careful nod, she agreed. "I appreciate that, Harry, and I have. You're already producing food and potion ingredients, but the way you made household and greenhouse fixtures work on runes is also marketable. You could sell ready-made potions if you get some brewers their masteries too. Your elves are the most impressive here though, they literally make money from nothing, gather resources from nowhere and do literal tons of work!"
He blinked. "You're saying we're already there, just lacking the sales department."
"Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying!" She agreed happily. "When the Homebase is completely furnished and operational, people will have plenty of time to research new products, produce and build up stock. You can literally build something from practically nothing here, due to your elves. I say we start thinking about job creation, payment scales and a business front. When the war is over, people here will have skill and need jobs. You're already equipped to give them room and board, it'll just be more hours of work and getting paid in return."
"Huh." He frowned. "Before we tell people this, I want us to have a plan. We need to be able to answer all their questions immediately, or at least most of them."
"Good point, we just take our time then." She agreed. "What were we talking about again?"
"Er… People are coming." He recalled drily. "I'll send word now that it's okay. Talk later!"
As Harry left, Pansy raised her eyebrows and frowned before nodding. "Yes, that's what I want. All I want." She herself noted the lie, after all, it was only half of what she was raised for… She wanted the other half too.
There's plenty of room unless you're planning to bring over thirty people maybe. Have N&SA do the security beforehand if possible, if not, transport can be arranged to his usual spot. D, who delivers this note, has friends who do transport. Call for D when ready. Let me know who and how many beforehand if possible.
Love, your brother.
Hermione arrived two days later, followed by Luna Lovegood and another twenty students. Neville was staying behind for another month at least, to lead the Hogwarts Resistance with Ginny Weasley.
Truthfully, Harry had little to do to help the new group settle in. The adults, Pansy, Astoria, Luna and Hermione took care of that with a few other residents. It helped that none came fresh from battle and death. Torture was another matter apparently, but they seemed to be able to handle that by now… It was more than a bit disturbing to the residents already situated.
Luna summed it up best. "The parents thought they knew better than Harry Potter, now most of them have been shipped off to the camps. Every week, we heard of the newly deceased and wondered when it was our turn. That's over now. Some of you still have parents out there, alive and well. If you think they'd accept living here, they could be invited. Now though, you live in Homestead! Here we are a community, one whole! Here, we are safe and can learn to live again. Harry Potter invited you into his home, don't disappoint him! Follow his rules and be welcome, that's all."
Harry had just raised an eyebrow when she was saluted as a commander in an army. He rather liked it that people didn't bother him, just accepting Luna's word as his. "Luna, did you change very much in the past few months?"
She smiled, and I knew she was still herself. "Not that much, Harry. We just had to go through a crucible to understand you. Every single one of them has been Crucio'd now, just like you. Every single one of them has been ridiculed, just like you. Every single one of them has been neglected by the faculty, just like you. It's just that they understand you better now. They understand how and why you decided that enough was enough."
"Err. That sounds rather like a cult to be honest." Harry grimaced. "Besides, you already understood me, Luna. You've had your own painful past; you certainly didn't need another. Why did you leave?"
"How's Astoria?" She deflected.
He wouldn't let her deflect that easily though. "Astoria is beautiful and getting happier by the day. Why did you leave? You're a really smart girl, you must've known what would happen."
"I'm glad to hear that, Harry." She nodded with a smirk. "I knew, but I needed to see it for myself. When the war is over, I'll publish the Quibbler again and travel the world just like my father."
That was quite the non-answer, but he knew that was Luna's final answer, nonetheless. "Alright then if that's what you want. I'm glad you're safe, Luna. You're a dear friend."
"I know, as you're my friend too. By the way, love is the greatest magic of all." She teased.
"What?" Harry asked. "I've heard Dumbledore say that before, but what do you mean with it?"
"Does Astoria make you feel stupid sometimes, just by being near?"
Luna groaned loudly. "I told you to follow the logic through to the end. You said magic made you stupid sometime. The strongest magic is love. That means, you'll be stupidest when you feel love. It's straightforward, isn't it?!"
He started to chuckle half-way through. "Sure, Luna. I should have known, it was obvious." If he was being honest, he felt stupid now too. "So, when will you meet your love?"
She pouted. "Not for a decade, but I will still get to do my dream job in the meanwhile, so I guess it's not too bad. I like this way better too; your basement is so much better than the other one. I'm not telling my father I'm here though; he needs to toe the line."
"Err… Okay then." He sighed; Luna would always be Luna. "Any idea where I can find Hermione? I need to ask her a few things."
"I don't know, but you'll probably find her in the library, won't you?" Luna grinned, patted his shoulder and left him.
He palmed his face and turned around. He could use a dose of Hermione logic right about now.
"You did what?" He demanded. "If you wanted them safe, why didn't you just send them over here? You knew I was building this place."
Hermione's face scrunched up and she flushed. "They didn't want to leave. This was just easier."
Harry was honestly disappointed. "They didn't agree with you, so you wiped their memories and sent them on their way." He sighed. "At least tell me it's reversible?"
"I'll reverse it as soon as Voldemort is gone for good." She nodded. "So, what's going on around here lately?"
He waved his hand vaguely. "Oh, you know how it is. We're up and running now, almost fully furnished and operational. Pansy is greatly enjoying running this place and wants to keep her position when I finally turn it into a business. Or businesses, rather. We're still thinking up a plan for that."
Hermione's eyes shone with determination. "I want in!" Harry raised his eyebrow in question, and she elaborated. "I was actually planning to go into the ministry and fix the laws regarding creatures but from what I've seen, that won't work! We first need to get influential enough to get anything done, and business is a good way to get there."
"Huh, and what position would you want here?" He asked. "Keep in mind my planning is at stage one now."
She tilted her head in thought. "Well, I want to create wizarding equivalents of muggle bestsellers." The corner of her mouth curved up. "Let's start with stationary. I've always lamented the fact that ballpens weren't allowed. McGonagall explained that those muggle inventions don't transfer the magic into the ink and that can be solved. We just substitute the plastic and steel for more magically conductive materials."
"Also, magicals have no way to calculate faster than by hand. I want to create a magical calculator of sorts. It shouldn't be-"
He held up his hand to stop her. "You're a researcher or a developer then. Fix up a blueprint that others can follow to produce items that can be sold. You'll get a percentage of the profits on the product you've designed and a regular wage to do the research in the first place. That's what Pansy was thinking at least. Does that sound about right?"
Her grin was wide. "Excellent! I especially like the percentage bit. You know how much I like my research."
"Talk to Pansy then, it sounds like you've got ideas for things that might be needed or interesting in the future. That's what we need most now. I've plenty of people looking for a project, you see."
"I'll do that, Harry." Hermione murmured, already lost in thought.
"Right then. Have fun with that. I'm off to draw stuff." Harry left.
Harry walked in on a one-sided argument between Astoria and Pansy. "Ah, I'll leave you to it then." He turned around immediately.
"Harry, wait!" Astoria cried. Pansy wasn't happy. "You want to ask him?!"
"Perhaps tell me what the problem is first?" Harry offered.
Astoria grinned. "I'm sure you noticed some tension between the elder Creevey and Pansy here? Pansy's past is keeping her from kissing the guy, but she clearly likes him."
Pansy twitched. "I'm just thinking about the future! Me dating a muggle born in a pure blood centric world would be social suicide! But perhaps it won't matter much if the war ends decisively? I just don't know, alright!"
"Ah." Harry stated smartly. "Well, if I may offer my insight?"
Both witches nodded, one more eager than the other. Pansy was honestly looking more desperate than hopeful.
"I rather doubt the pureblood regime will die out anytime soon, but your influence can only go down in this war. Why? Because as many people are killed, pure bloods suffer more as a group. There are less pure bloods already, and they don't reproduce enough to grow as a fraction of the population. Muggleborns and Half-bloods have more children on average, so your influence is waning fast already. Even if twice as many muggleborns are killed compared to pure bloods in this war, the balance will never recover in your favour."
He took a breath. "Now, here's a few questions from me, Pansy. What would it ruin for you exactly? Chances for another match with a pure blood, or your employment chances perhaps? Because those don't really matter here, do they? Say Colin takes your last name, would it really hurt that much? You'd be the one in charge, I'm sure. And the Parkinson family would grow with new blood strengthening your line."
Pansy was looking pole axed. "I. I don't know."
Astoria smiled at Harry, mouthing "thanks." She led Pansy from the room. "See you at dinner, Harry."
"Yeah." He smiled. "Oh hell, I'm wingman to Colin Creevey nowadays, aren't I?" He shook his head wryly. "Nothing to do about it now."
Grabbing his easel, he went back to work. Painting had started out as stress-relief, but he'd quickly grown to love it. Now, he was painting Dobby, who had almost vibrated from excitement when Harry had taken a photograph of the elf for a reference. It would be a nice picture for on the wall. He was hoping to kick start a revolution amongst his elves, wanting to get them used to having hobby's themselves. This painting would be the first picture at elf height, which meant mere inches above the ground. It would be a fun first for Homestead!
18. Dead Dark Lord
Six more months had passed, and exams were being held at Hogwarts any day now. In a few weeks, Harry would have lived the last full year here. He was rightly proud of everything that had been achieved.
Homestead was now fully furnished and operational, with over half of the hotel filled to capacity. Seventy-nine people lived at Homestead now, fourteen of them over twenty years old. The last large group from Hogwarts had given their parents the offer but only about a quarter had accepted. They had, however, sent back their gratitude for both the offer and the news about their children being safe.
Forty-one elves resided at the Homestead, thirty-seven attached to Harry himself. A few more ideas for work had been accepted gratefully, but a careful equilibrium had been established. It was quite funny, but Harry did in fact start that revolution. Every elf was now expected to spend at least two hours a day doing what they wanted for themselves. Harry didn't exactly keep track, but Dobby reported that his edict was followed and had quickly grown to be treasured. Every elf now had a portrait hanging somewhere, with their names attached to the frame. The quality was rather variable, but the elves loved the more caricatured versions of themselves the most it seemed. Harry thought it must have something to do with the shapes of their heads.
Smaller offshoots had been created from the main tower, with miniature apartments for the elves. They had lost themselves in the job and created space for a hundred of their kind, so there was plenty room for expansion. A few were already thinking of having kids, two of them with Dobby.
Harry found himself seated at breakfast with Astoria, something that had become a fixture at every meal. Last month, he had finally remembered to ask her to be his girlfriend. Yes, remembered. They had been in a relationship for the last four months, but somehow, he'd never asked her.
It started when he'd finished her portrait for real, and it had captured her beauty rather well. In it, she was blushing and scrunching her nose, which remained his favourite expression on her face. He had unveiled her likeness and showed it to her with a tender loving smile (though he didn't realise that) and a few honest words. "There, you're utterly perfect!"
Her eyes had grown round, and she had jumped him, kissing him silly. She hadn't been satisfied until his eyes had gone vacant and with a joyous giggle, had skipped away.
That was that, really. Harry had been fully hers from that moment on. Astoria had taken the lead in their relationship ever since then; Harry followed her gladly. They still slept in separate bedrooms but could often be found in the other's bed.
Some people found them sickeningly cute, but they were only grumbling because they had lost their bets. Luna had raked in the galleons with a particularly smug expression.
Another more surprising couple, had formed a week after that. Pansy had been struggling with her choice for a while then, but when she finally made it, she didn't let any grass grow over it. Colin was seated next to her at dinner and had ordered her favourites for her because she was feeling tired and lethargic. Her exact wish lay on that plate then; her preferences learned throughout Colin's careful worship from a distance. She cried and had forcefully grabbed Colin's face to give him the snog of a lifetime. First came an awed silence and then came applause. Neither of the two regretted their pairing and their genuine relationship had gone a long way towards Pansy's acceptance amongst the ex-students. Colin was very much the polar opposite of Draco after all.
Then the paper came in and breakfast came to a breaking halt. "What does it mean?"
Curious, Harry picked up a paper for himself and together with Astoria, began to read.
Dark Lord killed by an explosion caused by Death Eaters! Dark Lord Immortal? Poetic Justice? Or just a minor setback? The Prophet reported.
The Hog's Head was set ablaze in an attack on Hogsmeade yesterday afternoon. The Dark Lord had been killing students at that moment, when the aforementioned pub had exploded forcefully. It was reported by witnesses that a piece of wood the size of a man's forearm had been propelled right through the man's head, killing him right where he stood. The battle ended at that point, and the Death Eater's disappeared quickly, bearing their leader's corpse.
What does this mean? The man had survived death before, but can he do it again? This reporter was told by an anonymous Death Eater that it was unclear as of now. None of the surviving Death Eaters know how their leader cheated death last time, so there's no telling what will happen next.
Lucius Malfoy, a leader of our community had this to say. Yesterday, the Dark Lord attacked children at Hogsmeade, even though it has long been cleared of muggle born children. None of us can tell what the Dark Lord was thinking, but I implore all sides to stop fighting. Even Death Eaters need the working class, otherwise the shops will remain closed forever.
We of the Prophet applaud Mister Malfoy's words, and have great hope they will be heeded. Should the Dark Lord return again, we fervently hope he agrees.
"Bahahaha!" He laughed until he was gasping for breath. All eyes were on him when he finally calmed down again. "He's." Harry couldn't talk yet; his wide smile just couldn't be denied.
Astoria grabbed him from behind and squeezed his middle until he calmed down. "Alright, I'm calm now." Harry was still very much amused, however. "He's not fully gone, but he won't be returning like last time either." He told his people in a happy tone.
"What does that mean?" Paula Potts asked from across the table. "You clearly know more; can you tell us?"
Harry couldn't see why not. "Err… He basically split his soul a few times, anchoring him to earth. The first time he died, he didn't float to the afterlife but stayed here. With me so far?"
Nods all around, so Harry continued. "I found a few pieces of his soul and destroyed them. After he returned, I managed to destroy all but three pieces of eight. The one inside him, the one in his snake Nagini and one other in what I presume is the Locket of Slytherin. I don't know for sure and their location is still very much unknown."
He grinned. "Anyway, since most of his soul was destroyed, his soul was no longer anchored to earth when he lost his head yesterday. Only those two pieces in the snake and in the locket were left. Therefore, that piece of him has now passed on. Now, there's only two pieces left, and both are stuck where they are, until he tries to possess someone with them. Yes, he can do that, I've seen it."
He sighed. "When he does so, he will be back for a bit, yes, but only as a possessed human being. They generally don't last longer than a year I believe, even less when they're not willingly possessed. Quirrell only survived my first year as long as he did because he was drinking unicorn blood, which is known to stave off death for a bit in return for a vague curse."
"So, err… Is the war over soon then?" Dennis Creevey asked hopefully.
Harry shook his head. "I rather doubt it. The Death Eaters are still in charge, you see. So long as the Dark Lord isn't fully, one hundred percent vanquished, their Dark Mark stays. Knowing their Lord can still be resurrected somehow, I doubt they'll give up anytime soon."
He waved his hands at the paper. "There's good news too, of course! Lucius Malfoy does seem to want to stave off on the hostilities, that's a good thing, I guess. He will probably try to take charge over the Death Eater movement now, and he's pretty much the only one who can without having a rebellion on his hands."
"My best guess is that the war will be on a slow burn from now on. Less deaths for sure." He continued. "I'm also pretty certain we'll know when their Mark disappears for real. Lots of the less fanatic Death Eaters will probably turn themselves in for leniency at that point."
Silence reigned the room for a bit, as nobody knew how to react to the news.
Pansy shrugged. "It's good news people! Just not the best."
Grumbling greeted that statement but it was received well overall. "Thanks, Pansy." He chuckled. "You really put that in perspective for them."
She just smiled and turned to Colin.
I took her example and turned to Astoria, "what do you say to a day off? It's summer now, we could easily shield ourselves from the wind and sunbathe."
Astoria smiled seductively. "You want to see me naked then, Harry?" Her question had a certain edge to it.
"Err... I was thinking of a bikini actually, or at least a bathing suit!" He backtracked quickly.
She kissed his cheek softly, her blue eyes sparkling with amusement. "That sounds nice, Harry. Let's do that."
Harry's grin had stuck to his face the rest of the morning and afternoon, as he saw the glorious wonder that was Astoria in a bikini. Their privacy quickly got invaded by copycats, but that didn't deter their fun in the slightest.
After dinner, Astoria took his hand and took him to her room for some further celebration. "Harry, you've given all of us hope today, and I think we deserve a little fun, don't you?"
Oh. Yes, he did! "Shall I try using my tongue again today?"
She shook her head and grinned. "I got someone to teach me the potion. I'm on it now."
OOH! "Yes dear." Harry was cheering himself on mentally. This would be their first time to go all the way and while he greatly enjoyed all the lead up, he was more than ready!
Astoria had been very pleasantly surprised by his know-how the first time he pleasured her, and now he was impressing her with his tool as well. If it weren't for their promise never to speak of it again, he'd have to thank Luna for the lessons. Her instruction had been very in-depth, so to speak. She was also vocal in her (dis)approval and made for a great motivator.
"I'm getting tired, Harry. Can we stop for a bit?" Astoria did look very tired, but that was mostly because her heart had been racing non-stop the past two hours. She was sweaty all over and the room reeked of their activities.
Harry grinned. "Why don't you lie on your belly for a bit? I'll give you a nice back-massage."
She turned over and let him straddle her ass, his cock poking between her cheeks. She groaned as he sought out her regular opening and slowly slid in. "Hey, I thought we were taking a break?"
He moved very slightly, sliding in and out for about an inch. Then he started his back massage with his hands and teased. "I never said that! I said you could get a rest while I gave you a massage. You'll be getting your massage now, love."
His hands explored her back and kneaded her flesh from the vertebrae outwards. That was about the only thing he really knew about massages, but he made good use of that little nugget of information. The rest he would learn by doing. "How's that feel, dear?"
She didn't answer, so he made a few short thrusts. "That felt good, Harry! Don't stop!" He just chuckled appreciatively and started back up.
"Aaaaah." She sighed blissfully ten minutes later. "Take your time, Harry. I'll never say no to your massage again."
19. Continued Dark Regime
The Dark regime kept trying, but their efforts tapered off due to Malfoy's influence, who recognises they still need people to do the menial jobs. It was rather impressive to Harry that he managed it at all.
According to the news from outside, lots of mercenaries had started getting restless from the lack of momentum, realising their jobs were about to end. That inevitably led to infighting and a break in their contracts. The mercenaries were gone, and a further handful of Death Eaters were eating dirt as well. Neither loss was a great loss to the world.
Harry had to laugh again, as the paper reported Dolores Umbridge, Minister for Magic, with creepy red eyes and a locket around her neck. She or Voldemort, or a mixture of those two most likely, were trying to restart the momentum by declaring war on certain species, starting with their House Elves and followed by the goblins.
That move however, had a LOT of opposition in the ranks. Pure bloods did love their house elves, for the most part. They couldn't really live without them would have been more accurate, but they were about to find out.
The Homestead elves got a further boost in population from that because for the most part, the pure bloods were releasing them, instead of killing them. Probably hoping to have them back sometime in the future. Umbridge wanted to go by every house to ensure there were no further pests, a move that could not be blocked by Lucius Malfoy for now. He did manage to keep Umbridge from Hogwarts, rightly saying that the school depended on the pests.
Gringotts had not responded overtly, but they were aware of just what Madam Umbridge was wearing, courtesy of Harry's letter. Perhaps they were waiting out the storm, or perhaps they were preparing, it didn't really matter which. Gringotts was closed, however, and that turned out to be a great inconvenience indeed! People were rather quietly rebelling, but rebelling, nonetheless. No matter how pure your blood was, people couldn't live without money.
The Dark Government was still very much in place, but it now ran more or less normally, just with a lot more prejudice. Since the muggle born and squibs were gone, that left only the half-bloods to terrorize. Harry rather thought it was a good wake-up call for them, hopefully it would help them realise things needed to change.
Umbridge as Minister was the largest problem now, with only Malfoy keeping her in check. Harry had no illusions though; this situation couldn't last long. The ministry was running out of money to pay their workers with, and everybody knew who was to blame for that. It was rather like a pink elephant in that way, just a bit more amphibious in nature.
Back in Homestead, Pansy and her assistant had been hard at work. People were asked to do what they could for three hours a day and that turned out to be quite a lot. With eighty people, that added up fast! Hermione had made a few simple items that could be produced by most everyone after a little training, so a stock of every finished design was growing rapidly.
The quantity of food produced was quite a bit larger than necessary, by a factor of three in fact, which meant it had to be sold or put in stasis. Elves knew how to do all of that in reverse already, so they took care of that easily. This meant the real first income of Homestead was a fact, and based on the numbers, it was almost enough to recoup start-up costs fully in only three years. If they added the potion ingredients on there, the income quickly tripled.
All those living there were more than happy to work for three hours a day, for five days a week to repay their stay, but some did a lot more than that. Those people really needed to be repaid for that, so an agreement was made. One, everyone that wanted a job at Homestead after the war was welcome to it, and two, for every hour working on something that could be quantified, a base wage would be paid out when Gringotts opened again. Two residents that were good with numbers were taking care of the bookkeeping.
Right now, only a few job categories and payment scales were available:
Potion maker, to become potion masters. (needs potions, herbology and arithmancy?)
Herbologist, to become herbology masters. (needs herbology)
Researchers and Developers, to design products. (needs Arithmancy, Runes, Charms and appreciates Transfiguration and Muggle Studies)
Artificers, to produce products. (needs Runes, Charms and Transfiguration)
Clothier, (needs interest in clothing, Charms and Muggle Studies)
Management, directing a company (needs cleverness, pure blood upbringing can help)
Specialists, for anything really, you know this better than us.
Needless to say, everyone had their preferences, and they were highly encouraged to learn. Harry wouldn't be surprised if they were learning more than they would have at Hogwarts for those subjects that interested them.
The elves took care of the rest, really. Transport, cleaning, sales and acquisition, all done by the elves.
It could be said that everything was still a mess, mostly the wage scales, but the people appreciated the fact that the management cared, appreciated, and tried most of all.
"Tell me Pansy, how's everything?" Harry asked her casually.
Pansy frowned a bit as she concentrated. "Rather well, actually. We've tentatively set the rate for room and board at three hours per workday, like the rule indicated. Using only those hours, we could easily keep this place floating indefinitely and make a profit at the same time, if we were actually selling stuff. Without that, we break even, and our stocks are ever increasing."
Harry chuckled. "I meant to say. How are you doing? But if you want to talk business first, go ahead. What else?"
She smiled genuinely. "Nah, I'm doing fine, Harry. I think I love Colin you know. The guy worships the ground I walk on and I can't help but love him in return."
He grinned at that. "Yes, he really does worship you, that much is clear."
"Pfft." She pushed his shoulder. "Like you can say anything! You're much the same with Astoria, you know."
"Oh, I know." Harry responded easily. "How could I not love her?"
She sighed with fake regret. "I know right, there you are, minding your own business. And then bam! Love sneaks up on you! There goes the rest of your life. Gone, just like that."
"And happier for it." Harry agreed with a sigh. "The rest of your life, that sounds rather nice, doesn't it?"
She nodded honestly. "I've turned into such a sap. It's your fault, must be. Now, onto business! We've scouted out a few people for our shops when we get that far, and they've been pricing our products. If we sell every product we have in stock right now, we're so much in the green that you made everything you put into this venture back in one go. Just like that!"
That was a rather good surprise. "Nice! I think this deserves a little something, don't you?"
"Such as?" She asked curiously.
"Well, we should reward our employees slash residents for their hard work. I figure we take them shopping at an outlet, a full muggle outfit each." Harry grinned. "Do you think we can get some volunteers to set that up?"
Pansy grinned. "Definitely!"
Harry had sent a letter to Malfoy, thanking him for the good work, but imploring him to start controlling the dementors better. Destroying them with Fiendfyre would be better still. It was for the good of the Statute.
Greeting Lord Malfoy,
This is Harry Potter speaking. Now, I'm not going to go into our differences of opinion in this letter, as I know we'll never see eye to eye. Except for one thing that is; I really like how you're keeping Umbridge under control the past few weeks. Provoking the goblins is not a good idea, which should be clear to see for any sane person.
For that same reason I now send this letter. While the goblins are numerous and warlike. The same could be said of the muggles, only they are so much more so on both fronts. That's why I beg you to consider getting rid of or controlling the dementors better. The muggles can't help but notice people are dropping like flies, of no clear causes. This cannot continue, lest we risk the statute breaking down entirely! Please do something to combat the threat to us all. I believe Fiendfyre would work.
I'm just waiting out the war.
Dobby looked at him strangely for a full minute, but he did deliver the letter.
Not a week later, the paper explained his newest campaign to protect the statute. Harry had a satisfied grin on his face that day.
Luna and Hermione cornered Harry a day later and pulled him into an empty room. Hermione was blushing like crazy, which was intriguing. "What's up, guys?"
Luna spoke up with an expression that was both disapproving and amused. "Hermione invaded my room and saw my model of you. She touched it and it responded. She rather liked it, didn't you, Hermione?"
Hermione had a face like a hot iron skillet. All hard and soft at once, with a hot pink colour. "How did you manage that?!" She said and muttered. "And where do I get one?"
Oh, that way, was it? Harry grinned. "Did you like the size, or should it be bigger?"
Mortified, she couldn't answer. Luna chuckled. "She liked the size just fine, Harry. Don't be ridiculous."
He waggled his eyebrows. "So, since we are in fact speaking about this, I assume you have an idea, Luna?"
She nodded seriously. "Our project is better than anything she's ever seen, and she would like a copy at least, but more at best. I'm thinking this could be another business, geared entirely towards self-pleasure. Hermione here, might have mentioned she was interested to see what we could make of all sorts of muggle toys, such as a strap on?"
Shrugging, he looked at Hermione. "I didn't really get exposed to that part of muggle culture, is that what I think it is?"
Hermione nodded slowly. "Yes, but I was thinking we could perhaps switch the sensations. That way, women could experience what it would be like to have sex like a man."
"Wow!" Harry was shocked. "That would surely be entirely new! I can imagine that would be some experience! Just a thought, how would you go about the reverse?"
She frowned, her blush finally dying down now she had a puzzle to chew on. "Huh! If we do manage the former, the latter would work the same, I suppose. But that would be purely switching the sensations between real and fake. I don't see a way to complete the experience though, as there is no way to create a hole in a male body, it would have to remain outside the body."
Harry grimaced at the image that formed.
Luna then made it worse. "Perhaps there is another way, though that would mean the man would have to be willing to use their buttholes to house the fake vagina. You could at least try doggy-style that way. The way I hear it, even guys could get pleasure that way, and that's without connecting their butt to their penis!"
"We'd need a test subject though." Hermione reasonably pointed out. Both Luna and Hermione turned to him as one.
He swallowed thickly. "Err… You know I'm with Astoria now, right? I'm doing nothing without her blessing." He immediately recognised his mistake by not saying no immediately. "Besides, you first need to invent it!" Not helping, Harry!
Luna patted his cheek patronisingly. "Don't worry, Harry. I'm sure we can convince her to let you." Then she started giggling uncontrollably. "Hermione and I will do our best, don't worry!"
Hermione joined in as she saw my face pale considerably. "Hihihihi!"
Shit! "Whatever happens, we never talk about this. Alright?"
More laughter greeted his fearful question.
20. Malfoy kills Umbridge and is put on Trial
It was expected, but still. Umbridge went too far at last, and she did it with an audience. In the Ministry Atrium, she tried to rile up her people to attack the bank at once, to deliver us from the foul beasts! Harry highly suspected it was more Umbridge in control than Voldemort at that point. Not even Voldemort could reach that level of crazy, they didn't even have an army ready.
Anyway, Malfoy didn't much appreciate her stunt and opposed her verbally. She retaliated with an Avada Kedavra and missed. He did not miss. It was amazing! It was glorious! It was a clusterfuck of epic proportions.
The Homestead had been debating what would happen next, but they were all wrong. Instead of Malfoy being killed immediately, being elevated to Minister in her place, or anything else really. Malfoy was tried by his peers and tossed into low security Azkaban! The honourable wizards of the Wizengamot declared his usage of the unforgivable was well, unforgivable. It was highly ironic, considering they had all used it at some point too, but that was politics for you.
In other words, they still feared their master would come back and that he would take revenge on them if they didn't do this. All of them were aware that their Lord had been possessing the unctuous woman, the red eyes kind of gave him away. Killing him was too harsh though, because he had done something they had all wanted to do and they really didn't think Malfoy did anything wrong for killing the unholy amalgamation of Umbridge and the Dark Lord. Malfoy had been given an early retirement for his efforts, so to speak.
"This is the beginning of the end of the war, people!" Harry had declared with a grin. "Malfoy, as much an arsehole as he was, was still the best and smartest of that lot. The next to try for supremacy will probably be shot in the back by his own comrades."
"But will it be safe to leave Homestead?" One of the adults asked.
"Not for a while yet, but I imagine it won't last much longer now that Umbridge and Malfoy are gone." Harry said. "By the new year, some people should be able to start leaving, yes. Not the muggle born though, they need to wait for a new government to be installed before trusting in safety. Those rounded up by the MRA first need to be released as well. If there are any left I mean..."
It was a hard thing to say, considering some Homesteaders had families that had disappeared into those camps, but it was the truth, nonetheless.
"Makes sense," Dean Thomas agreed, he was one of the last to join Homestead from Hogwarts. "Just a few months shouldn't be a problem. Hell, this place is better than Hogwarts by far."
Without Umbridge's efforts, the muggle born registry died a silent death as there were no more of those to be found. The camps were bleeding dry too. Without Malfoy, the regime was adrift, and pockets of DE's did as they pleased, getting killed for it more often than not.
So many pure bloods and blood purists had died in their power struggle, the old regime was all but dead. Now even the fear was dropping since people finally stopped being killed.
After some quick thinking, Hermione and Luna had figured out the correct mix of Protean charms, sticking charms and switching charms that made the FemCock a reality. The ManCunt followed soon after. That done, they were ready for the next step.
Luna and Hermione did then in fact approach Astoria with their idea.
After Hermione hit her with her best and most passionate arguments. "You can watch! It's for the good of all witches! Don't you want to fuck Harry's cunt with your very own dick one day?"
Astoria had turned red as a lobster, but she also got incredibly wet as she imagined it. After some quick and dirty thought, it turned out that she agreed with all ofthose arguments. Astoria loaned Harry out in return for sample products, and she got to watch and participate!
And so, Harry was conscripted. Honest curiosity had him capitulate.
It turned out that magical people had been doing this anal stuff for ages, and magic makes a lot of normally unpalatable things much easier. Anal cleansing and lubing for example, there was even a stretching charm! It didn't even take ten minutes for Harry to get a vagina installed. Without all his hang-ups, it wouldn't take more than two minutes.
For Harry, it was in fact a Very Strange Feeling. His cock was slotted in a form fitting material that was connected to his anal vagina. Yes, that sentence made sense. He could not only feel what was happening on his dick, but also in his bowels, since the anal vagina did nothing to stop those sensations. Later, when he thought about that, he had to admit that he felt no reason to make it any more realistic, not when that would take away from the sensations.
Once he got over the embarrassment of the act itself, the sensations running through his body quickly got him enjoying himself. Astoria was the one to break him in, with their attentive audience of his two female friends. Harry's prostate was being massaged even as his penis was being stimulated, where the shaft was connected to the inside of the vagina and the head was connected to the anatomically correct clitoris. It was so stimulating, that Harry orgasmed first! After only a few short minutes even. That was a great argument in favour of using this setup again, in Harry's mind.
Astoria didn't even mind all that much when she learned she was actually fucking Luna's cunt with Harry's meat. Both Harry and Astoria, as the first test subjects, approved heartily of this experience. And so, the newest Homestead business was born.
When Astoria had finished her trial run, Luna and Hermione had both taken a turn. Needless to say, Harry was done for at the end! The three girls had bonded over that experience. Hermione had taught all of them they had just enacted a gangbang. It wasn't the last time Harry heard that word either.
But they never spoke of it! Or at least, that's what Harry chose to believe. Nobody believed anyone other than Harry had been the test subject either, but none of their theories were ever confirmed, and that was enough.
He was still very much a man who loved women, just in unconventional ways sometimes. He wasn't the only one to be gangbanged either, Luna, Hermione and Astoria also got their turn.
21. Snake attack! Grey Mark
Luna Lovegood approached Harry after lunch, a wide smile on her face. "Harry, Voldemort is dead now. I'm going back to my father and help him publish the next Quibbler. I wanted to let you know before I left."
"He is?" He asked her in shock. She just nodded serenely. "Well, then I will just tell you to have fun and to tell your father I said hi." He said numbly. Could it really be over just like that? A lump formed in his throat at the thought of everyone leaving. "Just so you know, you will always have a room here."
She kissed his cheek and giggled. "I know that, Harry. Be seeing you. Hermione has dreamed up a few more goodies we'll be testing later."
That he could believe, rather easily in fact. Hermione had turned into a regular sex fiend. She had even consented to try out Luna's Crumple Horned Snorkack special mythical creature. It was a miniature elephant that was animated to fuck a witch with his trunk and crumpled horn. Really, that was so out of the range of possibilities as compared to the old Hermione, Harry had just stood there with his mouth open when he was told. But that was reality now, and they all quickly adjusted.
Harry, Astoria, and Luna were her faithful testing panel, and they greatly enjoyed the things her freaky mind came up with.
Harry just looked at her as Luna waved and disappeared up the stairs, shaking his head incredulously. Well… I believe her when she says he's dead, but I have no idea how to tell people. Ah, we'll just wait for the Prophet to report it. There's no rush as far as I can tell. I should tell Pansy and Astoria though, so they can prepare.
The last soul piece was in Nagini, who had felt increasingly disconnected as of late. It'd started looking for someone to possess, but of course none could understand him in the snake tongue. The Death Eater who unknowingly offered his body in his sleep died horribly when the possession failed, but Voldemort the shade wouldn't give up easily, killing the follower and itself in the process. Such was the ignoble final death of Tom Marvolo Riddle.
Nagini herself slipped away in a daze and was never seen again; she was no longer a horcrux. The mark finally turned totally grey and stopped itching when the screaming stopped.
In the Homestead, nothing about that happening got out until a full week had passed. Sceptical as she was about the news, Pansy had in fact started preparations already. Everyone that wanted to leave would get a nice daypack with food, water and a few basic necessities, including a small money pouch. Pansy would in fact, make a great mother sometime soon, even so, Colin was the stay-at-home dad in that relationship.
Then the Prophet brought that most wonderful news. Slowly, more and more changes for the good happen and Homestead was preparing to empty.
Dark Mark Disappears, Dark Lord Dead for Good!
Inquiry started. MRA Disbanded and Victims to be Retried!
Kingsley Shacklebolt newest Minister! Promises to repeal Dark Laws.
Census Performed. Pure Blood population gutted!
The ministry has always kept careful track of who lived and who died, with the end of the hostilities, it was time for an accounting. Before the war, roughly thirty thousand magical people lived in Britain, thirty percent of pure blood, forty percent half-bloods and another thirty percent muggle born. In this war, eleven thousand people died. Amongst those, sixty percent of the casualties were of pure blood, more than halving their representation in the populace. The other half was about equally divided between half blood and muggle born.
A new census will have to be done because thousands have fled the country, but it has already become clear who the real losers in this conflict have been, the purebloods themselves. Did they know what they were doing? We can't speculate, but it has made clear beyond a doubt that every single side of the conflict has lost. Let us hope our future generations will not make these mistakes all over again.
Not all Homesteaders were planning to leave permanently, the majority wanted to stay in some form or another. Especially those who want to work at Homestead. Of the eighty people, sixty thought of staying on or leaving for a short while only. Harry didn't mind hearing that in the least, proud of his accomplishments and the fact that most wanted to stay in the place he dreamt up.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" Harry murmurs in his girlfriend's ear. "Our kids are leaving the nest!"
She turned around and slapped his shoulder. "You prat! They're just checking to see if their houses are left standing! Besides, if we're having children, it'll be because I stop using the potion." She shifts in his arms. "Do you want me to?"
Feeling extremely content in the moment, he nips at her ear. "Of course I do! But shouldn't we finish our NEWT's first?"
"We could." She agreed softly. "But we've been doing self-study here, and I quite liked it. If we continue that, we can just nip over to the WEA and have a test. Doesn't matter whether I'm pregnant or not then, does it?"
A wide grin appeared on his face. "No. No it doesn't!" He kissed her lips shortly and asked her. "When does the potion run out again?"
Astoria wiggled her bottom in his lap. "Day after tomorrow, but we should practice first, shouldn't we?"
He chuckles. "It's going to be different, without our toys."
"Who says?" She answers cheekily. "We can both have some extra stimulation in the act, can't we?"
With a grunt, he lifts her up. "You're lucky I'm such a flexible guy, you know! I'm going to carry you straight to bed!"
She used her new position to start kissing his neck. "Oh, I do know how lucky a witch I am, mister Potter. But so are you! Not every witch would allow the stuff I do!"
They were indeed, both very lucky! And getting luckier still.
22. Preparing for the Future
After it was all said and done, all of Wizarding Britain had lived in oppression, whether it be by the pure blood Death Eater regime or their leader himself. Nobody, excepting a few nutjobs, wanted to go back to that. As a testament to that, they had quickly repealed all the bad laws preventing the populace from working to rebuild.
Harry's Homestead actually kept a rather large portion of the refugees as employees or as future employees (those who still needed their OWLs or NEWTs). That, together with the large stock they had created, made it possible for Harry and Pansy to quickly set up a rather large store. The Homestead department store was located at the end of the main street of Hogsmeade.
Everything they had produced was to be sold there, in different parts of the store.
Foodstuffs, potion ingredients, home fixtures, greenhouse fixtures, ready-made household potions, stationary, enchanted muggle clothes, sex-toys, etc.
As a helpful gesture, Harry had the foodstuffs be sold rather cheaply at first. It certainly helped people get back on their feet, but it also proved to be a major draw of customers. Customers who checked out the rest of the store and eventually turned into loyal customers.
Naturally, Harry had that building warded to the limit by the goblins, something that proved its worth rather quickly as two attacks were rebuffed soon after each other. CONSTANT VIGILANCE had paid off once again.
Astoria had quickly fallen prey to pregnancy, something neither parent-to-be was in any way unhappy about. It did put some pressure on them to get married, but that was something they both wanted already. She did have to come clean about one thing with Harry before she said yes to his question, however.
He had gone on one knee and had presented her with a beautiful ring. "Astoria, you are the love of my life and now you're going to be the mother of my child as well. I cannot think of anyone I'd rather spend the rest of my life with. I'm a bit backwards in this relationship, I know. I feel like we're married already, and now I'm just making it official, if belatedly. But would you please do me the honour of marrying me proper? Be mine forever just as I am yours?"
She wanted badly to say yes, but she didn't yet. Her eyes grew wet as she spoke. "Harry, I have to tell you this first. My family was cursed with a blood malediction and I suffer from that. It means I probably won't get to grow old with you." She confessed with uncertainty written all over her face.
He took that in and thought about it, reaching out a hand to her belly. "Can that hurt the little one while you carry?"
She shook her head. "No, that is very unlikely. The disease itself only makes me weaker to other diseases. It saps my strength, not that of the baby."
"Hmm." Harry mused, his thoughts on the little golden cup with a badger engraved on it, standing on his drawer. "Well, that doesn't make me love you any less, Astoria. I'll just have to find something that will help you deal with your illness, if not cure it outright. I'll love you in sickness and in health. So there! I'll ask you once again, Astoria Annette Greengrass, would you please do me the honour of marrying me?"
Tears streamed down her eyes as she nodded. "Yes, Harry! Of course I will!" She kissed him hard on the mouth. "About the healer thing though, my family has been trying to find a cure for centuries. They have a rather potent restorative that helps me cope, but it's no true cure. It might not even be possible to cure."
He smiled softly. "Can you brew that restorative yourself?"
Another nod from her widened his smile. "Then I may have a small something that will help give it a little extra healing power."
Her eyebrows rose speculatively. "What's that? There's very few items that have been attributed with such a power, like the cauldron of power or Hufflepuff's cup."
Harry just grinned harder. "That last one, darling. You remember that golden cup on my dresser? The one with the badger engraved?"
"Huh! You mean that's? I thought it was a bad replica!" She said in shock. "We've never really talked about your adventures, have we love?"
"I'll tell you whatever you like, darling." Harry's brows were wiggling about. "You know I'm not the smartest of the bunch, right?"
"Right?" She agreed.
"I've almost cracked permanent transfiguration with a little help from the Diadem of Ravenclaw!"
"Alright, Harry. Now you're just kidding me! If not, we definitely need to talk!"
23. Sappy unto Death
Astoria suffers from a blood malediction, but Harry has a golden cup with a badger on it! Drinking the restorative from the cup did what nothing could before. There was still no cure, but all the symptoms left within the day using this treatment. She could in fact, grow old with him now, something that they both cherished.
Harry and Astoria married in the spring, just two months before Daphne Lilian Potter was born. It was their first of five, three girls and two boys.
Pansy and her husband Colin ran the Homestead company with a firm hand, tripling the income in the first decade. With Hermione's help, the range of products expanded quickly, necessitating expansion after three short years.
The Homestead was still home to many, and that wasn't going to change anytime soon. The residents rather liked the fact that it was like a small community.
Neville and his wife Sally-Anne and Hermione with her muggle husband sometimes came to visit. It was a good life they were living.
In 2014, Luna married Rolf Scamander, both on the top of the magizoologist profession. She had once again been right in her prediction.
To think it all started with his murder of Draco Malfoy. The boy who was once betrothed to Harry's wife! Astoria told him that just now and Harry was astonished at his luck!
Harry decided that there were sometimes consequences after all. Second chances are just fine, but any more than that, and there should be consequences.
"Astoria, how did you like Draco?" He asked his sated wife. It wasn't really pillow talk material, but he'd told her he wouldn't keep any secrets from her.
Astoria rolled around so that she could look at me. "I once held a crush for him, but that died a silent death in his final years. When I saw how he acted at school as opposed to behind closed doors, I knew I could never love him. I thank the stars every day that he met his end before he could claim me. So that I could get to meet you, Harry."
Harry smiled softly. "I should probably tell you then, that I was the one who pushed him into that broken cabinet and sent him to the other half."
Her eyes grew comically round. "You?" She sputtered in mirth. "Oh! That's priceless!"
"You don't mind that I killed him then?" Harry wanted to know for sure.
She leaned in and gave him a slow and lasting kiss. "I was left thanking the stars, now I can change that to you, Harry. I'm ready for our second baby now, love."
Harry grinned. "As you command, my wife!"
Astoria chuckled as he flipped her and entered her quickly. "You sappy man! Is this what our children will have to look forward to? A father who obeys his wife's every whim?"
Not letting the talking stop him, he smiled and promised her. "Always."