Chapter 38 – Tying up Loose Ends (Epilogue)
Odd as it may seem the majority of the wedding guests, the bride and groom and the mothers in law never knew the extent of the battle that raged outside, all they knew at the time was that there was a "spot of bother" that had been dealt with.
There was a great deal of speculative whispering when Commander Harry James Potter escorted a fellow Auror Corps Officer and a drop dead gorgeous redhead to their seats before taking his place with the other groomsmen. A fight broke out amongst the bridesmaids, and the mothers as both Gabrielle and Ginevra insisted that they were going to be escorted to the front by Harry. Harry offered to sit this one out but Arthur came to the rescue with a simple 'toss of the coin' solution. When Ginevra lost the coin toss she swore she wouldn't speak to her father for a month.
As the music began and the groomsmen escorted their charges to the front of the hall Gabrielle focused all her considerable veela charm on Harry. He simply whispered "you need to stop that, you're discombobulating all the men and pissing off the women."
"Not all the men it seems monsieur" she pouted. Harry didn't know then that the most desirable trait a veela could hope for in a prospective mate was immunity to her charms; it meant that she could be unguarded, be herself without reducing him to goo. She made up her mind then and there to be everything Harry Potter could possibly want in a mate. She would be patient, she had time, and he would be hers eventually.
When the High Priest presented Mr. and Mrs. Bill Weasley the party that followed was legend. All the Weasley family insisted that Harry and Hermione stand with them in the receiving line; Harry said that if he was accepted as a Weasley then his beloveds Belle and Marietta had to be as well. Not too many people in attendance missed the fact that Harry and his ladies very nearly outshone the bride and groom.
When it came time for the toast Molly Weasley handed Harry a goblet which fell and broke owing to Ginny 'accidentally' bumping his elbow. A very stricken looking Ginevra steeled herself and told her mother in a hissing whisper that she would not induce or charm or potion a man into falling in love with her, no matter how well it had worked out for Molly Prewitt. She was nonetheless heartbroken to see the man of her dreams enjoying the company of his beautiful ladies. When she went over to greet Harry she wished him every happiness; and was surprised to realize that she truly meant it. If Harry was happy, that was enough for her. She would be content to love him from afar, never letting him know how she ached for him.
What she didn't know was that Belle had overheard her conversation with her mother and that through the bond, Harry had heard as well. A long private discussion ensued via the bond.
Belle pulled Ginny to the side later and told her that she had known about "Molly's little helper" and had transfigured the contents of the goblet. Further, if she were amenable she would be invited to join the Potter family, as Marietta and Hermione had already agreed. A very dazed and confused Ginevra Weasley took her seat after the last round of toasts.
Harry's dance card was full that evening, he danced first with Marie, then Belle, then Hermione (who kept him on the dance floor until the band had to take a break). He danced with Gabrielle, who didn't try to dose him with Veela pheromones, but did plaster herself against him, memorizing his feel and scent so that she could fortify herself until the day when she would come for him again. He danced with Fleur who felt the need to warn him that someday her little sister would come for him, and that he should be ready. He danced with Ginny, who couldn't make up her mind right then if she could share or not. He assured her that the decision was entirely hers, that he would always love her whether as a friend or as something more.
"If the plural of mouse is mice, then isn't the plural of spouse spice?" she thought.
"Sounds right to me" Harry agreed, chuckling.
"Oh Gawd, did I say that out loud?" she asked, mortified. He just held her close, swaying to the music, and kissed the top of her head.
"Oh this is nice" she murmured.
Sometime near midnight the Potter family retired to their quarters, Hermione volunteered to carry baby Paul, who had taken a particular shine to her bushy brown hair. Seems he couldn't keep his fingers out of her soft cascading tresses.
Witnessed by Belle and Marie, Hermione pledged her heart to Harry that night, and everyone present agreed that it would be her night. She knew she loved Harry and she thought she knew from her researches and some personal experiences what to expect on her 'night of nights,' nothing could have prepared her for the reality of it. She'd engaged in some medium to heavy snogging with Ron fairly recently, and had enjoyed some passionate interludes with the Bulgarian Bon-bon (who introduced her to the joys of non-penetrative sex) back when she was fourteen, but our bushy haired know it all had never had full-on intercourse before. Harry relied heavily on his link with Belle to help him be perfect for her. Tender caresses, judicious use of Parseltongue and a highly localized numbing spell made her first time a pure pleasure, after getting used to his girth she became rather insistent, to the point where she was demanding faster, faster, harder, harder, oh fuck of fuck oh fuuuuuuck! Hermione's use of vulgarities shocked and aroused both of them (not to mention Belle, who was enjoying their enjoyment by way of the bond).
"Lucky bint!" Marie exclaimed with a smirk.
"That she is" agreed Belle.
"I meant you" corrected Marietta, "when do I get the benefits of the bond?"
"Are you still on the potion?"
"Not since graduation."
"How long before the effects wear off?"
"I dunno, maybe as much as a month, then two or three more months to get my progesterone levels stabilized."
"So it could be around the time Alexis is ready to greet the world?"
"If not sooner, Goddess let it be sooner" she said as Belle bonelessly settled back into the couch cushions, a look of pure bliss on her flushed, slightly sweat sheened face.
Somewhere around three in the morning a thoroughly satisfied (and slightly cross-eyed) Hermione Jane Granger Potter finally slept, a goofy grin plastered on her face.
The next day all hell broke loose when the wizard press reported that the Boy who Lived had grown into the Man who Triumphed. General Order Number Three had been rescinded in this case so the story could be told of Harry's meteoric rise through the ranks of the newly re-formed Auror Corps. His brilliant and unconventional battle strategies had won the day; resulting in the complete destruction of Tom Riddle's forces with very few casualties on the side of light. When Riddle had died all his marked followers died also, evidently the dark mark was not just a tattoo on the forearm. All the convicted death eaters in Azkaban were found in their cells with their brains literally burned out. Equally disturbing was the fact that every level of the wizarding infrastructure had been infiltrated by death eaters. Among the highly placed DEs: the Prophet's editor in chief, the head of the Ministry of Magical Transportation, three members at large of the Wizengamot, the Undersecretary for the Department for Control of Magical Creatures, and shockingly, some highly placed clergy - even the Arch-Druid of Amesbury was found with his skull smoldering, smelling of burning fat.
The magical population was asked the tough question "did the pervasive presence of Voldemort's pure blood fanatics create the problems within the Magical government, or was their presence at so many levels a symptom of problems that already existed?" Wizarding Britain needed some serious therapy.
The morning after the battle the faculty and staff at Hogwart's were treated to the sight of a joyous Sir Nicholas riding into the great hall on a magnificent ghostly stallion carrying his own head under his arm.
Apparently when the inferi that Sir Nicholas was possessing had been decapitated it was enough to remove the last bit of ethereal sinew and skin that had stubbornly held his ghostly head attached. His noble rank and the fact that he was a war hero made 'Newly Headless Nick' not only eligible for the headless hunt, but in fact made him the unimpeachable leader of same. His infectious grin would take centuries to fade.
"I must find Commander Potter and thank him and his lovely wife for inviting us to join them!"
Problem was; the Mrs. Potter that Sir Nicholas wanted to thank was gone, she had crossed over.
Harry explained that the magical implosion that ended the battle of Ottery St. Catchpole should have killed both himself and Tom.
"I hated it that I would not be with you anymore" he told his wives, "even so, there was no way I was going to let Tom get away again, I knew the amount of power we were using was crazy, suicidally crazy, but you would all live in a Voldemort-free world and that was more important to me than my own life, I love you that much."
Myrtle understood, the cosmic balance required that a soul move on to the next plane so she had gone on in her beloved's place, trading her Earthly existence for his so that her sister wives would have their husband and the babies, Paul and Alexis, would have their father.
Myrtle had retained her child-like demeanor throughout her afterlife and that infectious feeling of glee, that quality of innocence and wonder would be missed for years to come. Later that afternoon they found the graveyard that contained Myrtle's mortal remains. She had begged Harry to not weep for her as she was just going on ahead to prepare a place for all of them but he and his ladies wept unashamedly as he magically replaced her tiny grave marker with a beautiful six-foot marble pyramid onto which he engraved and gilded "In Loving Memory of Myrtle Frisbee Potter, beloved wife and mother, taking a well deserved rest 1931-1947-1997"
Harry was the wizarding world's golden boy again. News of his leadership during what came to be known as the battles of London, Hogwart's and Ottery St. Catchpole made many people re-think the requirement that a candidate had to be at least fifty years old to hold the office of Minister of Magic. Harry declined the offers for political office but did accept promotion to the rank of Brigadier and the commission to keep training current and unconventional in the Auror Corps. When he was summoned to the royal presence he accepted the mantle of Knight, Protector of the Realm, and Baron of Magic for the United Kingdom. Belle loved introducing him after that as Brigadier Baron Sir Harry James Potter and of course all the Potter spouses were Baronesses.
When news of Harry's polygamy hit the papers the public's response was one of unprecedented support. He was the savior of the wizarding world and if he could get two or ten or fifty women to be his helpmates well then that was alright with them. Needless to say the Potters were deluged with owls offering betrothals. Sensing the direction of the political winds the Wizengamont voted unanimously to sanction polygamous marriages in magical Britain. This resulted in a flurry of multiple pairings including, but not limited to the Weasley and Patil twins forming a six way marriage with Katie Bell and Angelina Johnson. Neville Longbottom took Hanna Abbot and Susan Bones and Daphne Greengrass as his lawfully wedded wives.
"So that's why Neville's patronus is a bloody big stallion; good on you Neville!"
Neville and his fiancés visited the Potters one evening and formally asked for Harry to stand as best man and Belle as Matron of honor.
"I am honored," Belle told the assembled guests, "but wouldn't you rather have Hermione and Ginny stand with your brides?"
"No, as much as we love both Hermione and Ginny, we feel the need to heal the breech between the families Black and Longbottom; I'm hoping you'll stand with Hanna, Baroness, and that the Lady Malfoy and Mrs. Tonks will stand with Susan and Daphne respectively."
Belle understood, more than anyone present, that Neville had grown into the role of patriarch and was offering to ally the House of Longbottom with the Noble Houses of Potter and Black, and that ere long betrothals would be offered between the houses, cementing them further. She would never know that Neville had known all along that she had been, in fact, the Bellatrix Lestrange who had tortured his parents into insanity, but nothing of the old Bellatrix could be found in Belle Black Potter, and Harry loved her. That was good enough for Neville.
Many students at Hogwart's found themselves orphaned and broke when the plague of the dark mark decimated pure-blood wizarding Britain. Dozens of children were underage and had no family that could or would take them in. Some of these once proud and pampered pure-bloods were reduced to begging in Knockturn Alley, easy prey for the lowlifes that gravitated there. Pansy Parkinson saw a man she thought she recognized, a disreputable scrounger of indeterminate age who had never taken the dark mark, but had served the Dark Wanker nonetheless. Marty Bollinger was an opportunist, a type of human vulture who seemed to profit from the misfortunes of others, he also liked little girls. The old reprobate was dragging a sobbing, obviously broken hearted child by the arm. The girl wore a dress that was two sizes too small and had obviously seen better days. She couldn't have been more than eight years old. Pansy stood in front of the unlikely pair and asked the girl "what's the matter?"
"Mind yer own bint" Bollinger growled menacingly, "this one's commin' wit me!"
Pansy pulled her wand and pointed it between the old man's eyes "I was askin' the princess here, d'you mind?"
"My b-brother, h-he he sold me to this man!"
Pansy's eyes narrowed, "why?"
"He wanted some stuff, an no one was helping us, we begged and begged and everyone just ignored us and Will says he can't keep me no more and, and this man says I'm worth ten Galleons and, and, and . . ." at this point the howling child collapsed into a heap.
"Will, Will . . . Will Farthington" Pansy asked, "is your name Farthington?"
The little girl looked up and nodded "Alison, Alison Farthington" she said by way of introduction.
"She's commin wit me, I paid f'her!"
Pansy realized too late that she had allowed herself to get distracted by the distraught child and the man now had his wand on her, he smiled a crooked grin and said, "I know just the thing, Imperio!"
She felt herself go all calm and contented, what business was it of hers that some old perv was plying the trade in little girl flesh?
In spite of the compulsion Pansy began to tremble in fury, how dare he? This child was not chattel to be bought and sold and used and abused and Goddess knows what else!
The man saw her shaking off the effects of the Imperius curse and leveled his wand again, "oh no," he said, "can't have you goin' on about me business here, Avada -"
His wand went flying and a furious Millicent Bulstrode bore down on Pansy's assailant.
Little Alison stumbled to Pansy and clung to her as if she were drowning and the Slytherin girl was her life preserver.
"Let's see, you used one unforgivable and was about use another one on me girlfriend here, and you're draggin' this child away against her will. They're gonna' love your ass in Azkaban!"
"You got me all wrong, I was jus' gonna' take care of the little nipper is all!"
"Keep your wand on him, Millie" Pansy instructed as she pointed her own wand straight up, firing off red sparks, the universal signal of mages in distress. Fortunately there was an auror just one street over.
The MDLE officer listened to Pansy, Millicent and Allison before taking Marty away, "come along Alison" the auror gently ordered.
"Do you mind if I look after her?" Pansy asked the officer.
"I should take her to Family Services," he saw the pleading in Pansy's eyes, and more importantly, Alison's eyes as the young girl clung to the older one.
"Can you take care of her?" the auror asked.
Millicent looked sideways at Pansy but assured the officer that both she and Pansy had the wherewithal to care for the child.
When the auror left Millicent asked, "Well, do you have enough to care for her?"
"Yeah, my trust fund wasn't confiscated, if I'm careful, I can get by, and you know what they say, two can live as cheaply as one."
"Y'know, there's lots of kids like Alison here . . ."
"I know," she agreed, hugging the child close, "any ideas?"
"Well . . ."
Pansy Parkinson and Millicent Bulstrode combined what little money they had left in their trust funds to buy a small estate on the outskirts of Hogsmeade where they offered shelter and assistance to those without means who were orphaned by the war. In the beginning it was a hand-to-mouth existence; Pansy and Millicent were quickly depleting their inheritances just trying to keep three dozen children fed. Rita Skeeter, of all people, came to their rescue by printing a human interest story about the House of Hope, which caught Hermione's eye. She explained the situation to Harry, who decided to use his fame for once to lobby the wizard and muggle governments for assistance. The Potter family funded a scholarship in Myrtle's name that would allow impoverished students to stay in Hogwart's and placed them into apprenticeships or continuing education programs upon graduation. The Parkinson House of Hope, as it came to be known, would become the paradigm for foster care in the wizarding world and for many years scores of magical children would fondly remember the care and love they received from Mama Pansy.
Theodore Knott Junior went in a completely different direction. He blamed the Potters for his loss of status and fortune and started recruiting among the disenfranchised to oppose that "half-blood upstart" who was the ruin of the wizarding world. He recruited Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle, but Greg Goyle was dating Millicent Bulstrode who worked with Pansy Parkinson who was very much indebted to the Potters for their help and support building Parkinson House.
No one ever found out what happened to the upstart gang that Knott was trying to put together, but when it was mentioned around Pansy she could barely suppress her smug grin. Any threat to Harry was a threat to Parkinson House and her children. She was a mother defending her children and no one with half a brain would go up against a mother protecting her young. Apparently Knott hadn't been in possession of the prerequisite half-a-brain.
Millicent took in both Crabbe and Goyle, who were natural followers in any case, and were quite content to be bossed around by their substantial significant other. The one place where she was content to let her 'boys' take charge was in the bedroom, where she enjoyed proving that one bird could indeed make two blokes very, very happy – provided the blokes in question were willing to share. The boys offered their troths to Millicent and left the names of Crabbe and Goyle behind, choosing to become Vincent and Greg Bulstrode instead. To the children of Parkinson House they were simply "Uncle's Vince and Greg."
José Cruz did finally convince Tina Morris that they had a chance for a life together, and along with Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks-Lupin and the Potters, of course, they petitioned to get the laws changed regarding lycanthropes. At the end of a marathon session of the Wizengamot the laws describing werewolves as "dark creatures" were changed to reflect the true status of lycanthropy, that of a disease. True, there were evil werewolves, but that was because those individuals had already been dark before they had contracted the disease.
Severus Snape descended into deep depression using more and more of his potions skills to produce mood altering drugs, which had him spiraling down into deeper bouts of depression. He violated the first law of drug dealers, 'don't get high on your own supply,' he sold his designer drugs to maintain the house at Spinner's End and keep up his potions inventories. He was surprised by a visit one day from four members of his old house, Pansy, Millicent, Gregory, and Vincent.
Pansy got straight to the point. Stop manufacturing and selling drugs, or go the way of Ted Nott, Junior.
Snape again had the presence of mind to realize his life was on the line here.
"Anything else, Miss Parkinson?"
"Yeah, we could use some help at the manor, you have skills, what do you say?"
"Intriguing, are you offering me a job?"
"I'm offering you a chance, Mister Snape, a chance to be able to look at yourself at the end of the day and know you've made your corner of the world just a little bit better. That's what Parkinson House is going to be about, second chances. It's not a handout, it's a hand up."
Snape knew he could just run away, set up shop somewhere else, but this magical community was his home. He immediately agreed to stop producing his 'products' but declined the first offer to join Parkinson House. It took a three more visits to convince him, and a dozen more after that to satisfy all of Mama Pansy's requirements.
Get off the drugs, to this end Pansy performed a powerful purgative hex that completely (albeit painfully) flushed all the poisons from his body. She had to repeat the spell twice as the 'greasy git' kept backsliding.
Change his name to something less 'severe,' they settled on Allen for his first name and Prince, his mother's maiden name for his surname. He would simply be known as "Mr. Prince."
Change his wardrobe. The long black cloak would scare the younger children. They finally compromised on a charcoal grey tweed suit with a matching cloak to wear against the Scottish chill.
Wash and condition his hair every morning, no more 'greasy git.'
Mr. Prince became the male head of Parkinson House, soft spoken and gentle with his primary school aged children and fiercely protective of all those under his care. At some point Mama Parkinson and Mr. Prince moved into the master bedroom and Mr. Prince was forever known afterwards as Papa Prince. Before long they began to address each other as 'Mama' and 'Papa,' and both found that they enjoyed the little intimacies.
Those obviously weren't the only types of intimacies they shared; little Ethan Prince came into the world after about a year. He was perfect, he had neither the hawk's bill of a nose that Papa Prince sported, nor the pug nose of Mama Pansy, Ethan's little nose was the ideal compromise. Both parents were secretly relieved.
They were visited by a delegation from the Ministry of Magic, department of Children and Families. The surprise inspection found nothing amiss, what they did find was as close to a perfect example of foster care as could be found anywhere. They left with glowing reports that increased the endowment for Parkinson House and asked Pansy and Allen Prince to please make suggestions for other foster homes. The list was simple:
Love the children, especially those who seem unlovable, make every effort to catch each child in the act of being or doing good every day, let them know you appreciate them
Clearly define expectations, give each child responsibilities
Belts are for holding up trousers, not for discipline
Hug every child at least once a day, see rule one
Have a warm breakfast everyday
Help each child discover his or her dream, then pursue that dream
Tell every child that you love him / her everyday, again, see rule one
Make sure they have a place to call their own.
When Michael Eddington had his 11th birthday an owl arrived with his Hogwart's letter, he was at once excited, and then depressed. He knew he'd be one of the kids that the others would look down upon in his hand-me-down robes and second-hand books. His mood was lifted when a beautiful white owl delivered another envelope, which contained certificates for new robes, books and supplies including a customized Ollivander's wand; all paid for by the Myrtle Frisbee Potter endowment. He would be endowed on the anniversary of his birthday for the next seven years provided he did his best in class and didn't get into too much trouble. It was the best birthday ever!
Romilda Vane set her sights on Ron Weasley and managed to catch him without benefit of amortentia this time. She also made it clear that she would be woman enough for her man and she did not share.
Luna Lovegood was patient, she knew the relationship wouldn't last, and being a true seer, she was proven right in short order. She also saw her future self surrounded by three mischievous and adorably rambunctious strawberry blonde daddy's girls that called her 'mummy.'
Harry repeated his vows to Belle and Marietta and Hermione and Ginevra consented to be sister wives as well. When the High Priest declared them 'husband and wives' a pentacle formed to bond them heart and mind and soul. This allowed them to enjoy each others presence even when parted, whether or not there was a pregnancy bond. This made the healers even more insistent that he take the dampening draught, but Harry remained adamant, he would not even consider severing his cherished mate bond. He began to have second thoughts, however, when Alexis decided it was time to meet the world. In the end Harry floated with Belle and all the other wives in the birthing pool as Harry's first daughter was born. When the umbilicus was cut Harry despaired that he would not be able to 'hear' Belle anymore, but he needn't have worried, they were magically bonded for life, and beyond.
Marietta and Ginevra were next on the baby wagon, apparently impregnated in a rush of emotions and hormones following the birth of Alexis. Nine months later two very large Missus' Potter floated in the same birthing tank to welcome Lilly and James Edgecombe Potter and Albus and Sirius Weasley Potter. Hermione stayed on the potion so that she could attend university.
Hermione matriculated at Oxford's Exeter College of Medicine where she graduated, no surprise here, first in her class. Soon after graduation she began to work on merging the worlds of magical and muggle medicine while simultaneously increasing the size of the Potter brood. Both were a labor of love, one was just a hell of a lot more fun!
"Mummy Belle, Mummy Belle!" a very excited four year old Paul Potter shouted, "there's an angel at the door, come quick!"
Belle went to greet their visitor and was astonished to see a platinum blonde goddess in a proper maroon business suit. She offered her card:
Investment Management International
"Gabrielle!" Belle enthused, "it's wonderful to see you, please come in!"
"My Lady Baroness, you are too kind."
The young professional French woman spoke English without a trace of an accent.
"Harry will be thrilled to see you!"
"As I will be to see him, but first I must speak with you and your co-wives."
Belle was pretty sure she understood the French Girl's predicament and called over the shared bond. Ginny arrived first, flooing in from the Burrow where Granmum Molly was lording it over her charges and managing to teach the basics of letters and numbers. Ginny was in the first weeks of her second trimester and was just beginning to show but she still stepped out of the fireplace with the poise and balance of the athlete she was.
Marie just had to come in from the back yard where she had been enjoying sun-bathing on her day off. She looked like a lingerie model in her barely there bikini.
Hermione apparated in from her research lab where she was perfecting the integration of inter-ocular implants into the wizarding world, she was in the white lab coat that she favored over her witches robe, the light overcoat was tented out as she was just entering the eighth month of her first pregnancy.
They all greeted Gabrielle warmly. Then seated themselves comfortably in the cozy sitting room.
Most people would be cowed in the presence of the four most powerful witches in Britain, but Gabrielle had prepared for this meeting for months, years, if the truth be told. 'This is it' she thought to herself, 'my one toss of the dice.'
"I have come to petition the wives of Lord Baron Harry Potter for permission to join their ranks as fifth wife. I have skills that will increase the Potter fortune and give out Lord Baron greater influence in our increasingly international wizarding world."
The silence that followed was deafening, and deceptive, as there was a flurry of 'traffic' over the bond.
After what seemed like an age, all four Missus' Potter nodded in agreement and looked solemnly at the extremely well composed Mademoiselle Delacour.
"Gabrielle" Belle said softly "there is no position of 'fifth wife' available."
The French girl nodded once and began to rise from her chair.
Hermione gestured for Gabrielle to stay seated "S'il vous plaît Mademoiselle Delacour d'attente."
Hermione continued "There is no 'fifth wife,' neither is there a fourth, third, second or first wife. We are all bound to Harry, as he is to us legally and magically. As a matter of fact, I suspect we'll be seeing him shortly as we have all excused ourselves from the bond that we share so that we could have this little tête à tête."
Marie asked "Gabrielle, why would you want to share your husband with four other women?"
A single tear traced a path down the French girl's perfect cheek. "Can you imagine what it's like, to know you can enthrall any man you meet, with a smile, with a gesture, with a burst of irresistible pheromones? No, I didn't think so. When Harry and I walked down the aisle at my sister's wedding I tried to enthrall him, do you know what happened?"
They all shook their heads.
"Nothing?" Ginny asked, incredulously.
"Nothing at all, it seems our Harry is immune to Veela power."
Marietta looked confused, "and that's good because . . ."
"Because I can be myself around him, I can release my power and know that the only thing he sees is me, not some . . . sexual deviant's plaything!"
She began to sob.
"I have had to defend myself from boys and men since the age of eleven, thanks to my 'gift' of precocious development. Do you know I graduated from Beaubatons two years early? I have had to hurt classmates who were my friends, co-workers and bosses who would never dream of doing to their wives or girlfriends the things they wanted to do to me, and when they touched me I could see what they were thinking, what they were scheming to do with me; to do to me! My only anchor, the only thing that has kept me sane these past five years is the memory of the man I fell in love with in the waters of that freezing lake at Hogwart's."
All four Ladies Potter smiled at this, as soon as they knew Gabrielle's love overshadowed her need they were in agreement.
"Please join us for dinner, Gabrielle," Belle insisted "tonight will be an occasion, we will all dress, Harry will have his favorite foods, a bit of excellent French wine and then we will let him back into our bond – I can feel him trying to worm his way into my consciousness even as we speak!"
"Mine too" the others agreed.
Belle smiled smugly and sent Harry a message 'be on time for dinner tonight, be sure to dress for company, until then leave us and the children alone!'
She then cut Harry from the familial link.
"Belle Black Potter" Ginny smirked, "that was truly evil!"
Hermione and Marietta were practically in tears holding each other and laughing.
Gabrielle looked confused, "what is going on?"
Ginny explained, "The last time we shut Harry out of our bond he had gone out with the boys and had a bit too much to drink. . ."
Belle interjected "much too much to drink!"
". . . yes, and he began to describe some of our more intimate moments with a bunch of slobbering Neanderthals who couldn't wait to spread 'orgy' stories around to the other knuckle draggers . . ."
Hermione continued "one of the men there was taking notes for the sensational story he was going to publish in PlayWizard! We wouldn't have been able to show our faces in public again, so our Lady Belle had us dress in our best formal gowns and we all apparated into the midst of the "gentlemen's" club where Ginny hit him with a sobering spell.
Marietta picked up the story "the look on Harry's face was priceless, he realized what he had been doing and was completely mortified."
"You are cut off Baron Potter; you are not welcome in our rooms or in our bond until you fix the mess you have made here!" She then put a locking and silencing charm on the hall they were in; no one was leaving without her permission. "You can start by obliviating your 'friends' here, either that or kill them, at this point I really don't care!"
Ginny and Marietta guffawed at the memory, "it looked for the world like Bellatrix had returned from the grave, I don't know who was more panicked, Harry or the other men in the club."
"We apparated back home and set our occlumency shields at maximum, Harry was alone for the first time in years."
"He was so contrite; there wasn't anything he wouldn't do for us. He cooked, and cleaned and fetched and Merlin, Morganna and Maeve, enough flowers to open a florist warehouse and enough candy to put all of Hogwart's on a sugar high."
"And don't forget the kids . . ."
Belle chucked at the memory, "yes, he had little Paul and Alexis wearing T-shirts that read:
"I have to admit though; it was as hard on us as it was on him . . ."
". . . but the make-up sex was fabulous!"
Ginny patted her tummy maternally and said "oh yes!"
Gabrielle dared to hope, "does this mean . . ."
Belle smiled and said "by the time the Baron gets home he'll readily agree to anything we ask of him, sister wife."
The girl's knees went weak as she cried "oh merci Déesse, merci beaucoup!"
The flowers arrived before Harry did, each wife receiving two dozen of her favorites, along with a parchment good for a complete at home spa treatment whenever they wanted.
Harry apparated to the door in his impeccable dress uniform (more gold braid than a Spanish admiral, he always groused) and formally greeted his wives and their guest whose beauty, in Harry's eyes, was second only to that of his spouses.
Dinner was pleasant in spite of the fact that Harry was on needles and pins trying to figure out what he had done this time, he hadn't had more than a single glass of wine with dinner since the debacle at the club.
After dinner Gabrielle presented her credentials to the Baron and Baronesses Potter, then went to 'freshen up.' When she left the room Belle asked "what do you think, milord?"
"Um, yeah, I can see where Gabrielle would be a wonderful asset; we can surely offer her a position."
Four sets of snickers startled Harry into realizing there was a setup here, some kind of monumental prank.
"Would that be missionary, doggie, or my personal favorite the 'my knees on your shoulders' position?" Marietta smirked.
Belle smiled benignly, "let's let our Lord Husband in, shall we?"
They all dropped their barriers at the same time and the rush of information made Harry dizzy for a moment. That was quite a lot to take in at one time!
Any other man would have to ask "are you all right with this?" or "is this some kind of cruel joke?"
Not Harry, he could sense the sincerity of the loves of his life and knew they would support his decision no matter what.
He smiled then slammed his occlumency barriers into place. He could play that game too.
He sat alone in the parlor as Gabrielle returned from the bathroom, rising to his feet he asked her to have a seat on the couch with him.
"Gabrielle, my lady wives have told me of your proposal, and I think you will be a wonderful addition to our family, but I have to ask you, have you ever been out on a date?"
She shook her head 'no,' sadly "only in the company of others, never a date where two people could be intimate."
"Are your parents home this evening?"
"Yes, why do you ask?"
"I need to speak with them, what is the Floo address?"
He threw a pinch of floo powder into his fireplace and said "Chateau Delacours!"
The butler answered "Chateau Delacours, S'il vous plaît qui est ceci?"
"This is Baron Brigadier Sir Harry Potter; may I speak with Monsieur Delacour, please?"
"Of course Baron, one moment please."
Jean Paul Delacour's face appeared in the flames "Baron Potter, a pleasure, how may I help you?"
"May I come through, please?"
Ten seconds later Harry emerged from the fireplace in Jean Paul's den.
"Again, Baron Potter, how can I help?"
"You can start by calling me Harry, Monsieur Delacour."
"Only if you call me Jean Paul, Harry."
"Fair enough, Jean Paul, I would like to ask permission to court you daughter Gabrielle, I know she is of age, but I feel that she has been denied a social life owing to her Veela heritage, and I want to do this right."
Jean Paul Delacour poured two glasses of brandy and handed one to Harry.
"Gabrielle told me what she wanted, I asked her if she would be willing to share you with four other wives and she said and I quote, 'I think there's enough Harry to go around' unquote."
"And your feelings on this Jean Paul?"
"Harry, you're in France, we look at romantic liaisons differently here, I told her if that would make her happy then she had my blessings, as do you, son. Welcome to the family!"
The next few months were like a second adolescence for Harry's wives and a long delayed first chance for him and for Gabrielle to be teenagers in love. They took outings to the beach, played volleyball, went to quidditch games, went to musical theater, went to movies, went to dances both formal and informal, ate at fast food restaurants and small bistros and had elegant dinners both out and in. All through this courtship Harry was a perfect gentleman, not pressuring Gabrielle for any more than she was willing to give.
Of course Gabrielle was willing to throw Harry down and mount him in the middle of High Street but Harry kept his hands and other bits limited to a lot of passionate kissing and a bit of heavy snogging where hands roamed freely but clothing stayed on.
Gabrielle was just about ready to explode.
"It's not fair!" she wailed to her mother, Aimee Delacour, "he can just go to his other wives and get release but I have to resort to these!" She raised her hand and wiggled her fingers.
"Mon Cherie, he wants you more than he can say, but he wants you to know that he is willing to wait for you."
"But I don't want him to wait!"
"Then this is what we will do . . ."
Harry arrived home that evening and was shedding his uniform when he spied a delectable looking form in the middle of the bed. A nicely curvy form that gave the covers a fascinating shape.
He padded over to the bed and pulled the covers back to reveal Gabrielle in a negligee that enhanced her already considerable charms.
"Are you sure Ma Cherie?"
"More than sure mon coeur!"
Harry broadcast a message to the rest of his bondmates and within moments they were all in the bedroom. He indicated that they should all kneel on the bed forming a circle, then he placed his left hand in the middle of the circle, Gabrielle placed her palm against his and the other ladies placed their hands atop hers.
"Belle Black Potter, Marie Edgecombe Potter, Hermione Granger Potter, Ginevra Weasley Potter, and Gabrielle Delacour, will you consent to take my name, share my future my fortune and my follies for as long as we all walk upon this Earth?"
Silken cords appeared and wrapped themselves around the six hands binding them together
Five happy voices intoned a solemn "I will" and the cords tied themselves into the familiar Celtic knots, which then turned emerald green.
Speaking as the husband and patriarch of the hand-fasted group, Harry formally stated "so mote it be" which caused the knots to phase into each of the six wrists leaving a green glowing tattoo on Gabrielle's wrist and renewing the tattoo on all the others.
Harry whooped and jumped up to embrace his ladies, his helpmates, his bonded partners, his wives. Caught up in the euphoria of the moment they all bounced up and down on the massive bed like misbehaving children.
Following congratulations all around the four veteran wives left the master bedroom so that Harry and his new bride could concentrate on one another. Of course, thanks to the mate-bonding all of the wives were able to enjoy their husband enjoying himself . . . several times that night.
The following month Harry and his wives repeated their vows before a high priest to introduce the world to Gabrielle Delacour Potter. As before a visible line of powerful magic connected each of the brides to the groom and to each other forming a six-pointed star, reinforcing the existing bond and creating a powerful new one as well. Gabrielle didn't think she could possibly be happier until Paul and Alexis, the oldest Potter children, without prompting from any of the other spouses, kissed her on either cheek and said "bienvenue à notre famille, Mère Gabrielle, nous vous aimons!" and the two sets of twins chimed in with "nous bous aimons beaucoup!"
I would love to say Harry and the assorted Missus' Potter lived happily ever after, but like all lives there were great times and not so great times, triumphs and tragedies – the children were often a source of great pride, but equally capable of disappointment (sometimes on the same day). These are tales best told another day.
Like all families, they had their issues, but at the end of the day, they always knew they had each other to love and to be loved; and that is the best and truest magic of them all.
Thus endeth the tale.
What a ride this has been. I looked at my original outline, which was going to be a very short story, perhaps two or three chapters, wherein Bellatrix rapes Harry, is infected with innocence and dies by her own hand at childbirth to keep from tainting the child. There was no training academy, no Marietta Edgecombe, no Myrtle.
What can I say; sometimes a story takes on a life of its own.
Many thanks to those of you who read the story and especially those of you who took the time to write reviews and comments along the way; you are my heroes.