The Poker Game
Harry Potter and the others do not belong to me. If they did, I wouldn't be writing this, and I wouldn't be short on cash.
In this story, I'm making some assumptions on the value of the Galleon. Seeing as we are generally rather uninformed about prices in the wizarding world, I'm basing my assumptions on the end of book four. Harry gave Fred and George 1000 Galleons to open the joke shop. Assuming that the twins had some money of they own, and the money was enough to cover rent for at least a few months, as well as getting stock, inventory, and doing testing of various items, I'm assuming that 5000 Galleons is enough to buy a small house in the country, and 10,000 would get you a reasonably sized house.
The Poker Game – an HP shortfic by Enterprise1701d and Joshua The Evil Guy
Harry awoke earlier than usual, the excitement for the new magic waiting for him bringing him to the land of the living earlier than usual. As he woke, he was dimly aware of being on his side, rather than his back, and that his head was resting on top of something incredibly soft. Way too soft to be a pillow. He slowly cracked an eye open.
Yup. Way too soft.
In fact, he was now, firmly, entrenched upon Luna's chest, her soft bosom more than pillow enough for any red-blooded male. He swallowed. How was he going to talk himself out of this? He became aware of someone pressed deep against his back.
She, too, was on her side, pressed so close against him that he could feel every curve her beautiful body had. Too close for him to be able to turn on his back.
Slowly, he lifted his head, as to not disturb Luna, and managed to get his head back on a real pillow, at least. He really should get up... do something with the magic... in fact, he had to get up and do something else, as to try and get any suspicion his subconscious may have caused him out of the way.
But, not yet.
He was still feeling nice and warm and comfortable in the arms of his girls, and he wanted the feeling to last just a little longer. Softly, he smiled at the cute faces the girls made while asleep, even if the only light came from the dim stars up on the enchanted sky of the Meadow View. He had decided against charming a moon up there... after all, full moons gave plenty of light, and he didn't want it to keep them up all night.
So, no moon, but rather, a very romantic, if he said so himself, starry expanse.
It took him nearly half an hour before he finally worked up the courage to get out of bed without disturbing anyone, which was quite a feat considering that Ginny was, once again, sleeping on top of most of them.
When he got out into the living room, he threw a look at an enchanted time piece on the mantle of the fireplace, and noted that it was barely half past five in the morning. Grunting to himself, he knew that he would be feeling the lack of sleep tonight. Even if it had been very comfortable, and he wasn't sure he had ever slept better.
He opened the briefcase, and slipped out a couple of books, and skimmed the titles. The titles didn't really appeal to him, so he floated them over to the three-quarters empty bookcase at the rear of the living room. He picked out a few more, and floated those over to the bookcase as well.
Suddenly, a grin spread on his features. Past Lives and their influence on Karma sounded like something that would quench his thirst. Maybe now he could find out what he'd done in his past life, to be blessed with enough good Karma to cause it to quite literally shove a family down his throat.
He stopped after opening the cover, and glanced at the door to the bedroom. He really liked those girls, if only for the nagging feeling he still had somewhere that they were being forced... either by society, by contract, or by their own making, and the resulting contracts.
He sighed, shook his head, and started to read. Mechanically, he flipped a page. And another. And another.
Half an hour later, Hermione, her usually early-riser self, sleepily made her way out of the bedroom, only to be shocked right awake at the sight of Harry Potter, sitting in a cleared-out section of the living room, with three books open at various pages in front of him, a containment circle she didn't really want to contemplate around him.
His eyes were open, but focused so intently on the books that she was sure he hadn't noticed her. Quietly, she observed as he read the pages in front of him, then close his eyes, and incant in a language that vaguely resembled Sanskrit.
The next moment, he gasped, his eyes opening on their own accord, glowing a kaleidoscope of different colors, energy swirling around him.
The gasp drew on, long seconds ticking away before Hermione's shocked eyes as the spell finally died down, and Harry's gasp ended with a sharp expelling of breath. Breathing deeply, he stood up, and broke the circle. "Hello Hermione. Sleep well?" he asked.
"I did, actually," Hermione muttered. "But you apparently didn't..."
He grinned at her. "Actually, I slept well, too. Just got up about... half an hour ago, decided to read a little. These books are awesome. I modified this one spell to show me my past lives, I wanted to know why I had such good Karma." He smirked at her. "I did a lot of nasty shit in the name of Good. Seems like Karma cares about intentions more then what the government says you can and can't do. Oh, and resurrecting Myrtle? SO a good thing!"
Hermione repeated his last words. So a good thing? "Harry?" she asked, wondering where that particular phrase came from.
"Oh, sorry. Past life, turns out my soul actually wandered through California in the 60's." He shrugged. "Hence the modification, I didn't just want to know what I did during my past life,I wanted to know what I knew during my last life. Turns out I miscalculated just a bit and I now have the combined knowledge of all of my past lives." He grinned, and looked down at the books. A single wave of his hand floated them into the bookcase. A second wave sent the rest of the books coming out of the magical briefcase. It appeared indeed that there were as many books as there were in the Hogwarts Library, as Harry hurriedly added a similar expansion charm on his bookcase as had been on the briefcase.
"Anyway," Harry went on, as if he didn't just copy a set of incredibly complex spells with a single wave of his hand... during the execution of a mass-floating charm that was organizing his books. "I have this incredibly neat idea on modifying the Illusion Chamber!"
"Really?" Hermione asked, ignoring the lesser secrets for the larger ones.
Harry was practically bouncing. Whatever he had learned in his past lives must have done something with his personality, as well, because there was no way that Harry would be this cheerful this early in the day! "Yep, yep!" he agreed with her. "Really neat. Anyway, I'm going to have some fun! See ya!"
See ya? Hermione thought in distaste. Gee, that American accent is horrible. "Harry!"
"Yeah, Herms?" he asked, stopping right in front of the door, wand out, looking over his shoulder with a stupid smirk on his face.
"Don't call me Herms!" she protested.
He shrugged. "You're more of a Herms than a Mione," he declared flatly, still grinning. "See ya!"
She bit off a sharp reply, and plastered a plastic smile on her face. "Can I watch?"
He stopped again, the grin gone, and a calculating look on his face. "If you're quiet, stay in the corner, and don't move. We don't want a repeat of what happened with Myrtle, do we?"
She shrugged, then nodded. He smiled. "In that case, welcome aboard the Harry Express of Unruly Magic," he declared, offering her his arm. For just a moment, she didn't know whether to laugh, blush, or berate him. Finally settling on the first two, she laughed, flushed bright red, and grabbed his arm as he opened the door to the Illusion Chamber, and showed her to a corner. "Stay," he muttered with a smile.
"Woof," she replied candidly.
"If you're nice, you'll get a nice new collar," he answered without missing a beat, making her color bright red as he closed his eyes, and brandished his wand. Immediately, the magic started to rise around him, and Hermione kept quiet, feeling a tremor shoot through her very Magical Core, as if she were a tiny magnet feeling the effects of a huge magnetic field approaching. The tremor increased in strength, and Hermione pressed herself into the corner as Harry's lips started to move.
As the power built and waned, only to build higher, then wane again, Harry kept his eyes closed and his mind firmly on his goal. The Soul Magics of the Indian nation had done their job, unlocking the very power that rested within his past lives, the bountiful knowledge and limitless power his Soul possessed as it had traveled through the ages, making sacrifices in the name of good, only to have it all rewarded here and now.
No longer did he curse Karma. He had seen and done too much for him to do so. In its stead was a healthy dose of respect, as well a bone-deep weariness of what the crazy force had up its proverbial sleeve.
He ignored the door opening and closing. A distant fragment of his consciousness thought that Hermione must have left, but still he did not break his attention. It had happened once. Never again.
The power continued to cycle, and Harry drew a deep breath before expelling it all in a single gasp, a guttural word of power laced through the breath as his magic reached out and touched the Illusion Chamber, forever changing it.
Feeling the power drain from his very core, he gasped for breath as the spell continued to build, a dull tremor going through the surrounding area. His mind ignored the byplay of tectonic forces, and grasped at the last vestiges of power remaining within his core.
As the spell continued, and the changes crept forward through the fabric of the Illusion Chamber, he just knew he wasn't going to make it.
He needed more power.
Unseeing eyes snapped open, desperately looking beyond, struggling, trying, grasping, to find power. Somewhere.
Another tremor went through the underground, and Harry let loose a growl as his vision wavered; his power was waning, fast, and his very magic knew it. Struggling against his own magic, trying to cut the spell loose in a desperate bid to save himself, Harry grasped for the one thing he was not expecting to find.
Grasping the power offered freely by the very Ley Lines that powered Hogwarts' Wards, Harry dumped pure, raw, unchanneled power straight into the spell.
The room felt oppressive as he struggled to breathe through the thick murk that was the magic-tainted air in the Illusion Chamber, yet Harry ignored the physical difficulties as he struggled for cohesion in his thoughts and mind, forcing his focus on the end result.
It needs to be interactive.
It needs to be adaptive.
It needs to interact physically with the world.
It needs to think.
It needs to learn.
Harry closed his eyes, and channeled, properly, for the first time, the sheer raw force that was the Magic of the Universe, as provided by the Ley Lines.
Power built up, higher and higher, not cycling up and down, but building continuously as the final stage of the spell came to fruition. A final thunderclap later had Harry gasp, the spell discontinuing.
Slowly, the oppressive magic in the air started to die out. "Chamber," Harry muttered.
A gold-glowing faintly-humanoid-looking form built itself up in front of Harry, seemingly consisting out of golden light, a ghostly form of light, as if existing without physical form.
"My Lord?" the form inquired, the voice resounding through the Illusion Chamber, male and female, young and old at the same time, encompassing each and every quality of human speech.
"Who are you?"
The form was silent, before it vibrated slightly, as if trying to figure out the best answer to that question. Slowly, the golden-light-shape started to shift, feet touching the floor for the first time, before coagulating into a more pronounced human form.
It grew smaller, stockier, a definite change from the long, drawn-out, and downright inhumanly skinny form it had held before. Slowly, the form solidified, becoming a definite human female form. Inexorably, it continued to form, the defining features the last to materialize.
Finally, it looked human. Dressed in a white toga-like garment, a golden clasp holding the fabric closed over each shoulder, the form was perfect. Too perfect. Equally perfect was its face, bright green eyes, like Harry's, peering out at a world they had not beheld before. A perfect set of lips with an inhumanly perfect nose built up the rest of her face, as a set of bright red curls framed her head, hiding the figure's ears.
"My name is Claudia, My Lord," the figure finally stated, at last answering Harry question.
"You have chosen this form and this name, then?" he asked.
The figure bowed her head. "Yes, My Lord."
Harry nodded. "Why are you?"
Claudia cocked her head. "I think, therefore I am," she replied, as if by rote. "This I know... but this I do not understand," she added with a small, delicate frown. "Why am I, My Lord?"
"You are because I just made you," he muttered, sounding somewhat unhappy suddenly.
Claudia nodded. "Why did you make me, My Lord?"
"Because I needed a way to interact with Magic, myself, this room, and the world at large," Harry replied truthfully. "But I did not expect... you."
Claudia was silent. "How so, My Lord?" she asked after a terse five-second silence.
"You... you are more alive than I thought you would be. The spell needed more magic than I thought. Something... something happened, and I am not sure what. Already, you're questioning your existence. Like us humans."
Claudia nodded, closed her eyes, and seemed to focus. The room blurred, the walls vanishing as the Illusion took hold. Grids of energy built up around them, equations flashing in and out of existence. "The spell you used was massive, My Lord. It tremors still, across the magical realms. The Ley Lines are shaking with its force. Every magical creature within a hundred kilometer radius has fled." She reopened her eyes, and looked at Harry. "What was your focus, My Lord?"
"I wanted a representative of the magic of this room, an avatar if you will," Harry said. "Built from Magic, to help me understand it, to help me interact with the spells built into this room. I wanted that avatar to be interactive, to be able to interact with the world, even if it was within the confines of this room, and I wanted it to be able to think and learn."
Claudia nodded. "I think, and I learn," she explained. "And I interact, both with you and the world. Within this room, or without, I can reach to the furthest corners of this world, carried on the wings of the Ley Lines. Your focus built me, My Lord."
"And it's made you alive," Harry muttered.
Claudia nodded. "And so it did. I came into being, an existence built for a very clear purpose." She swept her arms. "I am your avatar, your key to magic. Ask, and I shall do my best to provide."
Harry sighed, wishing he could sink to the ground. Suddenly, he found himself seated upon the most comfortable chair he had ever sat upon. As he gazed questioningly at her, the redhead smiled slightly. "You looked tired."
He nodded. "Thanks, Claudia."
"You are welcome, My Lord."
"Are you really alive?" he finally asked.
"What is life, My Lord? I can feel... emotions." she frowned. "I think. It is confusing. I do know I do not like confusion, so I am pretty sure I can feel emotions." Her face cleared. "That's one paradox resolved. I feel confusion, therefore I feel, therefore I do not need to feel confusion. So, if you base your definition of life upon emotions, then yes, I am alive. I can interact, with you, the world, and magic. However, I do not believe I am capable of pain... nor of death. I was not born, but made, by my creator. If you base your definition on biology, then no, My Lord, I am not alive. And I am feeling confused again. I must ponder this subject. It is fascinating, but confusing."
Harry nodded, ignoring the statement about being built by a creator. The last thing he wanted was to be labeled 'God'. He opened his mouth for another question.
Harry shuddered, and finally looked at the now-no-longer-visible corner where Hermione had been. And still was. Along with all the others. He swallowed. He had ignored the door opening and closing multiple times. How was he to know that everyone had come in, rather than Hermione walking out. In fact, all of them looked shocked, apart from Luna, who was smiling slightly, and Hermione, who looked halfway between 'pissed off' and 'shocked out of her mind'.
"What did you do this time, Harry James Potter!?" she screamed.
"I built an avatar," Harry muttered, motioning for Claudia. "Claudia, meet the girls. Girls, meet Claudia."
Claudia turned toward them entire group, and curtsied low. "My Ladies," she declared.
"You can't just build life, Harry!"
Claudia turned to him, confused. "My Lord? Do I not exist?"
Harry nodded at her. "You exist, Claudia."
Claudia turned to Hermione. "I exist, My Lady," Claudia declared to Hermione. "Therefore, My Lord Created me." She cocked her head. "I chose my own image, so I can not declare he created me in his image. Although my decision was influenced by it."
Hermione was struck silent as Claudia turned back to Harry. "How did I know that?" she asked. "I believe it came from a non-magical book."
"It's a book called the Bible," Harry said, nodding. "And you're supposed to learn, Claudia. I gave you everything I know."
Claudia nodded once more. "I understand, My Lord. And I did not know because your transfer happened before you became aware of it."
He sighed, and nodded. "Anyway, time for one last test, then I think I'm going for breakfast. I'm starving. And exhausted." He frowned. "I don't know which urge to satisfy first, the urge to eat, or the urge to sleep."
"The need for food is more pressing, I believe, My Lord," Claudia replied.
"Please, call me Harry," Harry muttered. "That 'Lord' crap is getting on my nerves."
"My apologies, Harry. You are my creator, I merely wished to be polite." She blinked. "I somehow knew you would react worse to 'Master'."
He shuddered. "Got that right," he declared in a distinctly American drawl. He shook his head, and resumed in a British accent. "Claudia, can you scan me, find any defects, and try to heal them."
"Harry!" Hermione screeched, finally finding her voice once more.
"Hermione!" Harry screamed back, finding it a good tactic to use when the girls screamed at him. She blinked, before resuming in a calmer tone.
"What have you done, Harry? You can't... as in, you shouldn't,... just create life. And... and... what did you mean with your order?"
"It was an accident, Herms," Harry muttered. "And Claudia can scan, using magic, on a level that is far deeper than any scan has ever reached before. As she's tied in to the three Ley Lines running beneath Hogwarts, she has unlimited power at her disposal. And as she is able to learn, and deduce, things, she can also heal just about any injury."
Claudia dipped her head. "My Lord gives me too much credit."
Harry frowned at her. Claudia smiled slightly. "Sorry."
"Cheeky wench," he muttered.
"I am what you made me," the Magical Intelligence replied.
"Pointing out your creator's faults, so not a good thing," Harry said with a smirk.
"Then unmake me," she challenged with a grin.
"Too much hassle," he shot back, then frowned. "Is killing your own creation considered murder?"
"Depends," Claudia shot back, ignoring the gasp coming from Hermione and the others girls, who watched the verbal spar as if it were a tennis match, too shocked to enter a word. "If I am alive, then yes, it might be considered murder. Although I do not think my status as alive had been proven... worst case scenario, I believe you would be fined for willful destruction of property."
Harry shook his head. "I so didn't want to hear that," he muttered, standing up, walking over to the redhead, and startling the living daylights out of her by drawing her into a hug. "You're a member of the family now. Never think any less of yourself."
A shudder went through the being, and she slowly brought her arms up, hugging him back. "Thank you, Harry."
As the separated, he winked at her. "You're welcome, Claudia. Now, about that scan?"
"Of course, Harry," she said, as the wall behind her was replaced with a total obscuring darkness, which suddenly displayed what appeared to be a wire-frame model of Harry's body, two circles running up and down, filling in the details of the wireframe model.
"You appear to be in excellent health, Harry", Claudia remarked five seconds later. "Although your magical core is exhausted, your body is showing minor signs of starvation... both now and in the past... and there is an anomaly on in your forehead." She frowned. "Curious. I can't determine what the anomaly is."
"So I should eat, sleep, and let you figure out what wrong with my head?" Harry asked.
The wall behind Claudia shifted, showing an in-detail representation of Harry's head. An area started blinking, coinciding with a certain lightning-bolt-shaped scar. "It is linked to your scar. I am having problems penetrating an obscuring field surrounding it, and my knowledge is limited. I need to know more."
"There's a whole library next door, and the library of Hogwarts upstairs," Harry suggested. "And if those don't work, I'm sure you can find references to other libraries you can read."
Claudia nodded. "You should go and have breakfast, Harry. Then go to class, and get some rest. I'll figure out the rest."
"Go to class and have some rest?" Hermione demanded, hands on her hips.
"Of course," Claudia answered, completely disregarding Hermione's anger. "Classes are not taxing, magically, so it's an ideal period for Harry to recuperate. If he hung around here, he'd be squeezing yet more magic from his core."
Harry muttered something under his breath.
"Now that's not a nice thing to say," Luna admonished. "Claudia is trying to help you."
"And besides, only family has the right to interfere in your life and boss you around," Claudia replied, smiling slightly and winking at Luna. The blond smiled slightly in the MI's direction.
As they walked out, ready to go to breakfast, Harry tuned out the girl's excited chattering around him. He felt dead-tired, as if his head had been stuffed full of Egyptian Linen, and he wanted nothing more than to pig out, then sleep for the next fortnight. As they entered the living room, Darryn was waiting for them, an imperial look on the owl's features, a golden scroll in front of him.
Harry swallowed, and grabbed the scroll. He sighed, then opened it, and started reading.
"Magister Maximus Harry James Potter. Today at six-forty Ante Meridiem, we have detected that you performed a class-zero act of Pure Necromancy, and have created a fully sentient above-golem-class construct out of pure magic. This act, the highest act possible in the Arts of Necromancy, has classified you for the title, Magister Maximus, within the ranks of Necromancy. As the last remaining Necromancer, you have now attained its ultimate rank. Should any new Necromancers arise, you are allowed to call yourself their leader, and they must, in turn, swear allegiance to you."
"Necromantic Protocol will remain in effect, its strict policies enforced to the full extent of the laws of the Ministry of Magic of Great Britain, and indeed, the other Magical Governments of the world."
"Mathilda Bagshot, Strange and Unusual Magic Office."
"Magister Maximus, huh?" Ginny said with a smirk in Harry's direction. The boy grunted.
"As if I needed yet more titles," he muttered.
"Come on, Harry! Can you honestly say that you don't enjoy the fact that you hold some mystical titles, have access to more ancient magic than a single person has had access to since Merlin, and that you wield influence in both the economic, the magical, and the political arenas?" Daphne asked, grinning widely. "Imagine the punishments you can exact on Lucius Malfoy now."
Harry shrugged, then nodded once. "You're right," he said, a slow smirk rising on his lips.
Suddenly, the Slytherin witch was around his neck, and kissed him. "I'm always right," she said with a cheeky grin. "And have I told you how impressed I was when you built Claudia?"
"Hey! Share!" Pansy suddenly yelled, jumping in, kissing Harry as well. Suddenly, Harry found himself on the floor as all the girls stole a kiss, laughing and squealing as they told him how proud they were of him, how impressed they were, and so on.
Despite himself and his exhaustion, Harry smiled and laughed with them.
Not ten minutes later, he was seated at the breakfast table, the girls all around him, still chattering excitedly about the morning's events. Harry ignored them, preferring to focus his thoughts on the food in front of him. In fact, Ginny and Luna, seated next to him, actually had to work in tandem, filling plates as Harry emptied them. For once, even Ron stared as Harry played human garbage disposal.
His magic, what little he had left of it, immediately tore into the nutrients the moment the food hit his stomach, and Harry literally felt himself getting better as energy hit his system.
"Bloody Hell," Ron cursed silently at the sight.
"Eventful morning," Harry muttered with a mouth full of bacon, eggs, kippers, and half, a glass worth of orange juice.
"Ew! Swallow, then talk!" Hermione shouted.
Harry shrugged, swallowed the mess in a single gulp, turned to her, and spoke with a completely empty mouth. "And here I was, all proud of myself for being able to sound perfectly understandable with all of that in my mouth."
"It's disgusting, that's what it is!" Hermione declared.
Harry shrugged again, then hoovered up the rest of the food on his fourth plate, and pushed it away. "Desert?" Luna asked, holding out some apple slices.
Harry seemed to think it over, before grinning, and taking the offered fruit. Two apples (from Luna) and three bananas (from Ginny) later, Harry patted his stomach, finally sated.
"Bloody Hell," Ron repeated. "Must've been one eventful morning, mate."
"You have no idea," Hermione declared flatly, glaring at Harry. "Harry broke the rules of magic. Again. And he's not even sorry!"
Harry shrugged. "Sorry?" he offered.
"You don't even mean it, Harry James Potter," Hermione said, crossing her arms, and continuing to glare at him.
"What'd you do, mate? I haven't seen her that put out since you rose Myrtle from the dead," Ron asked.
Harry turned to him, wondering what to say, when Ron caught his eyes, and seemed to pale. "You didn't raise another girl from the dead, did you Harry?" he grunted, covered his face with his hand, and asked, "Who's it this time? The Grey Lady? Granted, she doesn't look half-bad..."
"No, I didn't raise the dead!" Harry declared.
Myrtle smiled, reached over the table, and squeezed Harry's cheek. "That's one's mine," she stated.
"Then... what?" Ron asked.
Harry muttered something under his breath. "What was that, mate? I didn't hear you," his best friend asked.
"I... kinda... you know... UsedMagicToCreateLife."
"Huh?" Ron asked, still confused. "You did what?"
"Harry built a fully sentient life form out of magic," Luna translated.
Ron drew pale, stared from the unusual blond to Harry, back to Luna, back to Harry, and finally settled on Hermione. "Hermione... don't tell me..."
"Yup," the brunette muttered, looking as if she wanted to bang her head against the table. "Harry here played God. And actually succeeded."
"Bloody Hell!" Ron cursed. Loudly.
"Mister Weasley!" Professor McGonagall shouted from half a Great Hall away. "Perhaps you would care to enlighten us why you are cursing up a storm?"
"Eh... I... eh..." Ron turned as red as his hair, but even he knew he shouldn't be telling what he had just heard. Somehow, nobody else had heard Luna's declaration, and he knew he should keep it that way. "I stubbed my toe. Hurts like blo... hurts, that does," he muttered.
"Perhaps next time you will see Madam Pomfrey rather than curse out loud," the Professor stated, although her voice was no longer as cold as it had been.
"Yes, Professor," Ron whispered, his face still as red as his hair. As the attention of the other students drifted away, he turned to look back at Harry. "You know I have to say it, right mate?"
Harry nodded resignedly, and waved his hand. "Get it over with, then, mate," he said, although a small smile appeared on his lips.
"Not just happy with living girls... or resurrected ones... now you have to build new ones, too?"
Harry grinned. "Well, not my fault she chose 'human female' as her form. She could have chosen anything she wanted," he said, still grinning, thinking it a pretty good defense. Ron just shook his head, not able to believe his own ears.
"You'll need to introduce me, mate."
"Of course," Harry said. "After class."
Ron nodded his acceptance. "Come on, mate," Harry said. "Let's get to class. Wouldn't want to piss off Snape by being late."
"Like he needs a reason to be pissed off at us," his friend muttered, shooting a cold glare at the Head Table, where said Professor had finished his own breakfast. As the girls dispersed, only the sixth-year Gryffindors and Slytherins staying with them, the group made their way to class.
Right before they got there, Snape cornered them.
"So, Magister Maximus Potter, not just happy with a single Necromantic title, are we? May I ask what laws of nature and magic you perverted this time in order to gain some extra notoriety?"
Harry shrugged. "If you have to know, perfesser, I just screwed with life, that's all," he replied with the most basal American drawl he could get on short notice and without bursting out laughing.
Snape's right eye ticked at the American accent. "Speak like normal people, Potter. That American hogwash is making you sound even more like an attention seeking git than you normally are."
"Actually," Harry said, switching instantly to some high-class Oxford accent, "I wonder what the Ministry for Magic would say, should your debasing comments come to their ears. After all, they were quite clear and respectful to me this morning, when they sent me notification of my promotion."
Snape blinked. "As if the Ministry would side with one such as-"
"If not the Ministry, Heer Professor, perhaps the press would be very interested in hearing what I have to say about a certain Death Eater spy in our midst. And I am not talking about that dwaze malloot, Draco Malfoy. I already dealt with him. I am sure Tom Riddle reads the Daily Prophet, just like everybody else."
Snape grew pale. "Are you daft? Saying that out loud..."
Once again, Harry cut the man off, switching accents again. "If you haven't learned by now, Professor, I am not a little boy anymore. I fight dirty. I fight to win. Win for now, and win forever. If Tom comes after you, I'm sure that would be the last time I ever lay eyes on you, which would be a good way to rid myself of a greasy blight on the fabric of existence that has been grating on my nerves since first year. Of course, should said stain get its act together, teach, not show any bias, and stay the hell out of my fucking way, then perhaps neither the press nor Tom would ever find out said grease stain's dirty little secret."
Snape was struck silent, before looking around fearfully, relaxing slightly when he was nobody but Harry, Ron, Hermione, Pansy, Daphne, and Tracey. "I should kill you where you stand, Potter."
"And I should report you, Professor," Harry replied, calmly, as if his life just hadn't been threatened.
Snape actually growled, spun around, and strode to his classroom.
"We should go, too. He's likely to call us late if we arrive after he does," Harry said, starting to walk.
Ron burst out laughing, the witches soon following suit. "Oh, man, that was brilliant, Harry! Bloody brilliant! Where did you learn to speak in so many different accents? I swear, he was going to have a coronary just from hearing you switch from one to the other, never knowing which one would be next!"
Harry grinned. "I'll tell you later. When I introduce you," he said with a teasing smirk.
They arrived for class with a whole ten minutes to spare, but still found the door practically slammed shut in their faces, the greasy Potions Professor actually having the gall to deduct ten points. Each. The Slytherins, not happy with how Snape took ten points for being on time from them, stared angrily at the man as the lesson progressed.
Snape was quite used to glares.
On the other hand, he was not at all accustomed to cheerful smirks on his student's faces, and that was exactly what Harry had plastered on his face. It was the most ruthless, devilish, I-can-hardly-wait-to-see-you-fry kind of smirk Harry had ever produced, and judging from Snape's shiver whenever he looked in his direction, it was doing its job.
Adding a downright scary twinkle to his eyes was the icing on the cake. Snape forgot what he was saying three times in a row... in the middle of the same sentence. He stumbled over his own feet, and nearly fell. He mixed up three potions ingredients, having the students brew the most dangerous poison known to man, instead of something to clear the gutter.
In short, Snape was acting like Quirrell used to, and the effect would have been comical, if only the other students weren't still scared to kingdom come of the man.
Harry couldn't care less, and continued to stare into the Potions Master's eyes whenever he could achieve eye contact. In fact, he never even blinked. The result was unnerving to the extreme. For Snape.
Halfway through the lesson, a giggle escape Daphne. Snape twirled at her, and opened his mouth.
Family, Harry coughed not-so-subtly.
Snape lost his train of thought before his tirade even got off the ground, and focused on Harry.
Big mistake, the boy was still sneering at him.
Snape shuddered, turned, and continued his lesson... repeating the last ten minutes of his lecture.
Daphne bit her bottom lip not to burst out laughing. Pansy's eyes were running with tears, and Tracey was biting hard in her quill's end, actually destroying the swan-feather she used as writing implement. Hermione had a smile on her face, her eyes were narrow slits of repressed mirth, but the girl had one advantage over the Slytherins... She had been Harry's friend for years, and had some experience in keeping her cool. Ron, also Harry's friend for years, was not so lucky, and was chortling silently, trying to keep himself under control.
Just as Snape was finally going to get to a new part, the class was interrupted once more.
Claudia appeared in the middle of the classroom in a twinkling of lights, twirled around to looked at everything and everybody, before stopping, facing Harry. Two strides had her in front of him, and it was only then that he realized that she was incorporeal, a projection using magic. Her physical form, as he had thought, would be unable to leave the Chamber of Secrets, her very substance dissipating once she crossed his wards.
"I bring grave news, Harry," she stated, ignoring the spluttering Potions Master and the gaping students. "I have finished my study. The reference was found in a seal book of Dark Soul Magic in the Magical Library of Congress."
"Oh?" Harry asked, actually sounding interested, the first time he had sounded so since the class started. "Pray tell, Claudia, what is it?"
"A Horcrux," the redhead stated.
"A horcrux," Harry repeated.
"Yes, a horcrux," Claudia confirmed.
"A horcrux?" Harry asked, a genuine smile appearing on his lips.
Claudia nodded, a merry twinkle appearing in her eyes as well. "A horcrux."
"Oh, alright already!" Hermione screamed. "What's a horcrux, and will you two cut that out!"
"It is a piece of a soul, split through cold-blooded murder and a dark ritual, infused within a physical object. The theory is, should the main body die, then the soul-fragment would enable whoever cast the spell to return," Claudia summarized. "It is dark and evil magic, banned in all civilized countries. Of course, that did not stop Voldemort."
Shudders and squeaked exclamations permeated the room. "Can you remove it?" Harry asked.
"Of course," Claudia stated with absolute conviction. "I hold now the combined knowledge of the... library in our quarters, the Hogwarts Library, the Magical Library of Alexandria, and the Magical Library of Congress. For good measure, I read the non-magical sections of the Library of Congress and the Library of Alexandria as well. Non-magicals are fascinating in their inventiveness."
Harry nodded. "That they are," he said, standing up. "Come on, Claudia. You've got an operation to do."
"Mister Potter!" Snape snarled.
Claudia stepped around him, graceful and forceful, flowing in her stride in a manner that was decidedly inhuman. "Magister – Maximus," she stated, coldly. "Father's name should not be tarnished by the likes of you, vile creature. You shall address him by his proper title, Magister Maximus, as granted to him when reaching the ultimate level of Necromancy, the creation of a fully sentient intelligence. Me."
Snape stood there, gaping for a few seconds, before turned a vile, puce-like purple color Harry remembered seeing on the face of his uncle Vernon. It looked decidedly unhealthy, and he wondered whether Claudia would be able to kill the Potions Master due to inducing cardiac arrest.
"And just what might you be, then?" he snarled back.
Claudia pulled back her shoulders, her spine ramrod straight as she jammed her nose into the air. "I am the Magical Intelligence known as Claudia."
"Probably as useless as Potter-"
In retrospect, Snape knew he should have listened the first time she told him to use Harry's title.
Claudia's right hand made a single, jerking, angry-looking motion, and the very room they were in quivered as the magic responded.
The Snape-sized hole in the wall looked decidedly comical, as if it had run out of a muggle cartoon. The pained groan was a lot less funny, as the Potions Master sounded as if he were in the most excruciating pain.
"Claudia," Harry muttered.
"You shouldn't hit a man to cause him pain. You should hit the git so he will stay away from us. Hurting him causes resentment... you should cause him fear instead."
"I have a lot left to learn, Harry," Claudia muttered with a small smile on her lips. "Are you angry with me?" she then asked, actually looking as if she were pouting.
Harry shook his head. "Not angry. Merely explaining a lesson. Besides, it isn't as if Snape didn't deserve it." He then walked to the Snape-sized hole, and peered through it. "It looks as if you broke about half his bones, and he's bleeding quite heavily." He waved his hand. "I stopped the lethal bleeding. Wouldn't want him dying," he said, withdrawing his head, and grinning at Claudia. "Come on, you've got a horcrux to remove from my forehead."
Claudia dipped her head, and smiled widely. As they were about to leave, Harry looked at the stunned class, most of them unable to believe Harry's good luck. "Aren't you coming?" he asked his girls, shooting a small glance at Ron as well, showing him he was welcome too.
"It's not like we're going to be missing class," he said, grinning widely, the first to actually up on his feet and sprinting to the front. The others were slightly calmer, although Tracey wasn't far behind Ron, and Hermione and Pansy were walking leisurely.
"Anyway," Harry said as they strode to the bathroom that housed the entrance to his private residence. "Claudia, meet Ron. Ron, Claudia."
"Pleased to meet you," Claudia stated in a friendly tone.
"Eh... likewise," Ron muttered, blushing faintly as the too-perfect-to-be-human girl smiled at him. He turned to look at Harry. "Mate? What's a Magical Intelligence?"
Harry smirked. "Claudia."
Ron rolled his eyes, and looked at Claudia. "I don't suppose you'd give me a straight answer?" he asked.
The magical redhead shrugged. "If Father doesn't want to tell you, who am I to spoil his fun?" Giggles followed from Tracey and Daphne, while Pansy and Hermione just smiled at the look on Ron's face.
"Father?" he finally choked out in Harry's direction.
Harry chortled. "Yup. I kinda over-focused. I wanted to create a human-like interface to communicate better with the Illusion Chamber. Of course, I wanted it to be able to think and learn. Turns out, Magic had different ideas." Harry finally frowned, and glanced around. "It's strange. No-one's tried the 'saved my life' trick on me today." He glanced at the girls. "Maybe one of you should try and get the others together... I'm sure they'd like to be there when Claudia removes my... horcrux."
"Harry!" Hermione scolded. "You can't just pull everyone out of class! Some of them have OWLs and NEWTs to prepare for!"
Harry looked at his girls. "Do you think they'd mind?"
The trio of Slytherins shook their head. "Not in the least," Tracey muttered, glaring in Hermione's direction. "You're our family." The bushy Gryffindor shuddered at the look.
"In that case, would you mind trying to get them home?" he asked. "Meanwhile, I'll mess with Ron's mind some more. It's fun."
"Hey!" Ron protested good-naturedly.
As the trio of Slytherins rushed off, going to different classrooms in order to find the rest of the family, Harry put an arm around Ron's shoulders, and guided the Gryffindor further along the hall. "Anyway, magic had a different idea, and decided to build me... Claudia. Of course, she can act like the interface I wanted, but she's so much more. She's actually a being of magic, alive and sentient." he removed his arm, and shrugged. "So, I kinda played God."
Ron goggled. "K-Kinda?"
Harry nodded. "Magic helped."
"Harry, magic isn't sentient! It can't decide to help you! You cast the spell, you are responsible!" Hermione shouted.
"Sure, yell louder, Herms. Perhaps the Slytherin firsties up in the dungeons didn't hear you," Harry muttered as Hermione shut up, turned red as a tomato. Whether it was in anger over him calling her that nickname, or in embarrassment, not even she knew. Harry looked back at Ron. "If not magic, then certainly Karma. That crazy force is actually nuttier than I thought." He glanced at Claudia. "Not only is it giving me girls... now it's giving me children, too."
Claudia grinned wide, her form shifting to that of a six-year old. Before Harry could recover from his shock, she grabbed his hand, and started pulling him. Three paces later, Harry planted his feet. "Oh, hell, no. You're not going to be acting like a bratty six-year-old!"
Claudia burst out crying, screaming loudly. Harry turned beet-red, trying desperately to shush the girl, unsuccessfully, until he gathered his courage and picked her up. The incorporeal illusion weighed nothing, but still hitched a ride up as he straightened. Claudia stopped screaming immediately, before putting her head on his shoulder.
Harry groaned, while Hermione and Ron laughed loudly.
"The look on your face, mate!" Ron laughed. "Worth a million Galleons!"
Claudia shifted out of Harry's arms, resuming her adult look. "I'm learning fast, no?" she asked with a stupid grin on her face.
Harry shook his head. "You're incorrigible."
"If I am, it's because you made me like that," the retorted. Harry shrugged.
"Maybe I'll need to make sure I don't repeat that mistake when I am building Claudia, version two-point-oh."
"You'd replace me?" Claudia asked, suddenly looking like an adorably cute six-year-old again, and staring at him with huge puppy eyes. Harry groaned.
"Great. Another one. As if Luna's puppy-dog eyes aren't enough," he muttered.
"Do I have competition?" Luna asked, walking up with Ginny next to her, looking at the six-year-old Claudia. "Very good competition, I see," she added, before bending down in front of the girl. She touched the illusion's face. "Suck a little on your left cheek, it'll create an adorable dimple. Pout out your bottom lip a little... no, that's too much. Better. Now blink slowly, as if you're trying not to cry. Perfect! He won't be able to resist you."
In the background, more and more of the girls were walking up as Luna explained 'pouting' and 'the puppy-eye stare' at Claudia, staring with open mouth as the blond explained it as almost a science. Finally, she turned around, and stepped away. "Can you say no to that face, Harry?" she asked with a small smile on her airy face.
Harry glanced down, and almost felt his heart break. The look was so much more powerful on a six-year-old. He groaned, covered his face with his hand, and turned to walk into the bathroom. "Manipulative wenches," he muttered under his breath.
"And you love us for it," Luna said as she smiled slightly at the mature-one-more Claudia. The MI nodded respectfully at the strange and unusual blond.
As Harry moved to open the door to their home, Susan Bones and Hannah Abbott walked in, the last of the girls to assemble. Harry looked inquisitively at Hannah, then shrugged. Susan trusted the girl, that was good enough for him. The entire group walked down to the shelter, and found seating wherever they could. Couches and chairs were claimed, and Harry found himself perched on the armrest of one of the couches, if only because he couldn't be arsed to drag over another chair or couch.
"I've explained to Ron who and what Claudia is," Harry said. "Hannah, has Susan told you anything?"
"I wasn't about to let her come alone," the Hufflepuff answered. "Especially not after Pansy said it was some kind of family emergency. Susan explained underway."
"Good, that saves me the trouble of repeating myself," he said with a grin. "Anyway, Claudia found out that the strange thing in my forehead is a horcrux... think, split soul, then attach the part you just split off to a physical object. We think it was Voldemort's way of insuring immortality. Mucking around with a soul is dark enough, but the fact that you need cold-blooded murder to accomplish it just eats the cake. Claudia's found a way to get it out of me, and I thought you'd all like to be there for the big event."
"You make such a theater out of everything, Father," Claudia muttered. "It's thirty or so seconds of work, and you won't even feel it. Not until that thing is gone, anyway."
"Well, we're still glad that he's decided not to exclude us," Ginny declared. "There was a time he'd just clam shut and cut us out."
"You've trained me," Harry said with a small smile.
"Better than we could have trained any owl," Tonks declared, causing the assembled girls to chuckle.
"Drop the schoolgirl act, Tonkie. You're not fooling anyone anyway," Harry shot back, grinning slightly as the seventh-year Tonks shifted to her adult form.
"Oh! Oh!" Claudia said, grinning. "I can do that, too!" She shifted from about eighteen to mid-twenties, then back again.
Harry shook his head as Tonks grinned, and shot the MI a thumbs-up. "You like that shifting trick too much, Claudia."
"Don't be such a stick in the mud, Harry," Ginny said with a grin. "She's enjoying herself. And we're enjoying her enjoying herself."
"And the fact that she's focusing on me during said enjoyment has nothing to do with it, I suppose?" Harry asked levelly.
"Of course not," Cho said with an impish smile. "That's pure and sheer lucky coincidence."
Harry shook his head, and looked at Claudia. "Just go ahead with this, before I lose my nerve," he told her. He still felt tired, and didn't really feel up to bantering any longer. Fun as the banter was, the day was catching up to him, fast.
Clauda dipped her head, and flowed towards him, her regal gait too smooth to be called 'walking'. For a few moments, she stared into his eyes, before cupping his head in her hands to stabilize it. Her green eyes sparked with inner fire, and ancient words rolled off her lips as they barely moved in a harsh whisper.
Harry was eerily silent, unable to focus a single conscious thought as he stared into Claudia's glowing eyes. When the eye contact finally broke, he blinked rapidly, shaking his head for just a few moments, trying to clear his thoughts.
He blinked again, then a look of utter amazement appeared on his features. "It's like a headache is finally gone," he whispered in shock. "I never knew how much that thing weighed on me." Claudia smiled, and dipped her head.
Before she could say something, he was upon her, hugging her tightly. "Thank you. Thank you so much," he muttered. She patted his back affectionately as she hugged him.
"You're very welcome, Harry."
"Now you know how we feel, Harry," Luna said. "And now that you're free... are you finally going to ravish me?"
"Luna," Harry said with a playful smile.
"Harry," she replied on the same time, matching his inclination perfectly, causing a few of the present girls to chuckle.
"I think you know the answer to that," he replied, now it became apparent she would wait for an answer until the world ended.
"Oh, poo," the girl muttered, actually looking faintly angry as she crossed her arms. "You'll knock up magic with your bastard daughter, but refuse to touch a girl who throws herself at you."
"Excuse me?" Harry muttered, unable to believe his ears.
"Knock up," Luna repeated. "Magic. The proof's right there." She pointed off-handedly at Claudia.
Harry rubbed his forehead. "That's not a very nice thing to say," he said, unable to believe his gentle First would ever be so openly hostile toward him or Claudia. He glanced at Claudia, who was watching him with an amused look on her face. Alright, so she wasn't taking it as an insult. He rubbed his forehead harder.
"Then what would you like me to say, Harry?" Luna asked with a left of her left eyebrow. "Impregnate? Inseminate? Fertilize? Fecundate? Or would you prefer the more basal terms? Bang up? Prang up? Pupped? Stuffed? Preggered? Hatched an egg in the dragon nest? Spread the Egyptian Flu? Joined the pudding club? Up the kite? Up the pole? Up the spout? Up the duff? Put a bun in the oven? Baking cookies? Caulked the pipes?"
"That's enough Luna!" Hermione finally shouted.
"I did not-" Harry stopped as his voice started to raise into a shout. "I did not... impregnate... Magic."
"You claimed Magic helped, mate," Ron said, grinning at the furious look his best friend shot him. "I'd say it helped more than you told us."
Harry remained silent, unable to get a comeback from that. "Anyway," Luna said, standing up. "Why won't you touch us? I'm not the only one who'd make each and every fantasy you have come true. And I'm sure we could make some fantasies you haven't gotten yet come true as well."
Harry's anger peaked. "Precisely because of that!" he said, forcefully. "I know what it's like to be a slave! To have no free will and no power to do the things you want to do! So, how can I be sure it's what you want? For all I know, these blasted contracts, or curses, or vows, oaths, and whatnots have been warping you into thinking it's what you want!"
Luna was silent, as were the rest of the girls, shocked speechless by Harry's outburst. "In that case," she finally said, "I want my release."
Harry's anger dropped immediately as a heavy weight seemed to drop into his stomach. "What?" he muttered, suddenly not feeling so good.
"You once promised to release us," Luna said. "I want my release."
"Luna, no!" Pansy shrieked.
"Don't do it, Luna!" Susan begged.
"No," Harry muttered to the girls as they all started to speak up. "If that's what Luna wants," he said, showing the anguish he was feeling on his face. It looked as if he was watching a loved one die. "I, Harry James Potter, hereby release Luna Lovegood."
Luna nodded. "I accept my release from you, Harry James Potter," she stated calmly as they both glowed faintly for just a few seconds. "I'm free now," she said.
Harry nodded, blinking. He wouldn't cry. Not while she was still here to see it. After she left... then he'd break down. She was just the first one... they would all leave him... his old fears would be realized.
"Are you in agreement I am in total control over my mind now?" Luna asked.
"Huh?" Harry stated lucidly as he startled out of his vicious down-spiral of dark thoughts. "Yes," he finally added, processing her question. "You're free."
Luna dipped her head, then drew her wand, dropped to one knee, and declared," I, Luna Lovegood, in total faculty over my own mind, hereby pledge myself to Harry James Potter, Mind, Body, Magic, and Soul, for him to hold for as long as he wants, to be his First for as long as he wants."
Harry just stood there in shock, unable to believe what was happening. "Luna," he finally muttered.
"Just say 'yes'," she asked quietly, suddenly sounding fragile.
"Yes," he whispered. As the magical glow encompassed the both of them, Luna was already on her feet, being dragged up by Harry as he wrapped his arms around her.
"Don't – ever – do – that – again," he ordered sadly, shaking in her embrace.
"I won't ever do it again," Luna whispered, holding him tight as he sobbed into her shoulder.
"I thought you'd go," he whispered sadly, "I really thought you'd go." He let his tears fall free.
"I had to make it convincing," she replied. "I'm sorry for hurting you like that... but you had to know, this is us, Harry. The contracts can't manipulate us. Not like that."
Harry just hugged her tighter.
The others stared at the tableau, most of them not even able to think of a response, just too shocked at what Luna had done. Most of them didn't even know what to feel, let alone think.
Except for one witch. "Is that all it takes?" she muttered in the silence, causing the girls nearest her to look strangely in her direction.
As she stood up, walked towards the still-hugging couple, she drew her wand, and dropped to one knee where Harry could see her.
"I, Hannah Abbot, swear myself to you, Harry James Potter, Mind, Body, Magic and Soul, to hold for as long as you want me."
"H-Hannah?" Susan asked.
"You don't know how long I've wanted this," the Hufflepuff said in her friend's direction before focusing on Harry, who seemed to have gone into shock.
"Hannah?" he finally asked.
"Please say yes," she begged.
"I... I..." he stuttered, before Luna grabbed him, and hugged him tighter.
"Say yes, Harry. She wants this, like I did," his First said, gently, sounding very much like his First again, airy, yet incredibly smart.
"Yes," Harry muttered. "I accept, on the condition that you never tell anyone outside of this room about this. Last thing I want is to have girls drop in front of me in the hallways, making magical vows and pleas."
"Deal!" Hannah squeaked, jumping up and throwing her arms around Harry and Luna.
As the entire family cheered, nobody noticed Hermione pulling Daphne to one side, urgently whispering a couple of questions to the Slytherin. The other girl thought for a few seconds, then grinned and nodded, gesticulating widely as she replied in a low voice. Hermione's grin grew bigger, then turned to where a massive group-hug seemed to be in progress, a group-hug that Daphne joined immediately upon finishing the whispered conversation with Hermione.
The bushy brunette crossed her arms, watching the proceedings with a smile on her face.
"Herms?" Harry asked, extracting himself from a bunch of ravenous girls, most of which were ready to pull a Luna, break whatever bond they had with Harry, and swear a totally new Oath. He managed to calm them down quite nicely, explaining that he no longer believed the contracts, or vows, or oaths, or myriad of other ways they had become members of his family, to be influencing their minds anymore.
"It seems you're in quite a pickle, Harry," the Gryffindor said with a smirk on her face, as she let her eyes trail over the assembled girls. "After all, this seems to be quite an easier way for new people to be joining your family now. Way better than the Life Debt thing that keeps going around the female population of Hogwarts. Never mind the fact that the Life Debt Servitude Act only works on Life Debts already recorded before the Act was created. But this... this Pledge will have quite a bit of young ladies trying to pledge themselves to you." She smiled slightly. "And a few young men, too, I'd wager."
Harry shuddered. "No offense, but that is even worse."
"I didn't think that was your cup of tea," Hermione said, still grinning. "But still... I think I have a solution. It'll even make sure nobody else joins your Family."
Harry grinned wider. "That's my Herms!" he crowed. "Please! Do tell! I can't wait to have this madness stop! I'll do anything!"
"All you have to do is say 'yes'," Hermione said.
Harry lifted an eyebrow. "Yes?" he asked, frown appearing on his face as he studied Hermione wearily. "To what?"
Hermione suddenly drew her wand. "I, Hermione Jean Granger, in full faculty of my mind and actions, pledge myself to Harry James Potter, Lord of Potters, the Blacks, and the Bones, the Baron of Greengrass, to cherish and to obey for as long as we both accept, on the sole condition that no further magically binding expansions happen to his family, with or without his consent, barred as they will be by this, a prior Vow."
Harry swallowed. "Hermione?" he whispered.
"You're supposed to vow back that no more magically binding expansions can take place," Hermione said. "Of course, that doesn't mean that you can't expand the family the old-fashioned way."
Harry looked at her, staring into her eyes for tense, long seconds. "Do you really want this?" he asked. "This is a long way from the girl who swore she would find a way to break the contracts between myself, Luna, Susan, Pansy, and Tracey."
Hermione nodded. "I've been a member of your family for these last few days. I've never felt more accepted. I've never felt better than I've felt with you. And if that means I have to play dress-up, crawl into your arms on certain evenings, and get a hug and a kiss along with the rest of the girls, then so be it." Her widening smile said that the 'sacrifice' was one she had no problems making, and, in fact, seemed to be looking forward to making it.
Harry smiled, and drew his wand. "I, Harry James Potter, Lord of the Potters, Blacks, and Bones', the Baron of Greengrass, accept Hermione Jean Granger on the conditions she specified. From here on, no magically binding expansion may happen to my family, as they will be canceled by this Prior Vow."
A flash of gold spread from both Harry and Hermione, weaving together, binding the Oath.
As the gold vanished, and Hermione found herself in Harry's arms, she sighed, and finally relaxed. Her head resting on his shoulder, he hugged her. "Welcome to the family, Herms."
"Please stop calling me that," she protested.
"Fat chance," he declared in flat American. "I like 'Herms'. Better than that 'Mione' crap you prefer."
"Bastard," she retorted.
"Yet you are the one who just vowed herself to me."
"Don't remind me," she protested, before disengaging the hug.
"Each and every day, Herms," Harry said with a wink, sinking into the nearest available couch, causing a small stampede as the various girls tried to get in next to Harry. This time, it was Padma who beat the rest to the left spot, and against all odds, Hermione who won the right-hand side.
Pansy, grinning mischievously, placed herself on his lap. Harry chuckled as the others grumbled as found seating arrangements elsewhere, while Claudia merely created her own Illusion-chair to sit in.
"So, now what?" Harry asked as they settled. "I no longer have to worry about any more girls popping up, thanks to my brilliant Herms. I have no less than three complete libraries of magic books and information at my disposal. I have a half-daughter construct of magic that can do almost anything in the real world and everything in an Illusion Chamber I built out of my will. I'm living in the former Chamber of Secrets, transfigured into a palace the likes even royalty would go green-eyed over. And I'm still in school and not even 17 yet!"
"Yes, well, there's still Voldemort," Pansy reminded him.
"And exams and NEWTs," Hermione pointed out.
"And, eventually," Padma put in her two knuts, "you'll have to see about uniting all of the magical nations under your banner to bring about a new golden age."
"Ah. Right," he groaned.
"Don't worry, Harry," Hermione cooed, running her fingers through his hair, "We'll always be here for you. All of us. We love you. You love us. There's nothing in the world that all of us can't handle if we're together. For right now, you're safe and with your loved ones and nothing more needs to be done today. You can rest easy. We'll always take care of you."
Harry just sighed, allowing himself to finally, finally, finally relax after who knows how long. It made a big difference in his thinking.
"Thank you," he whispered to them.
Skipping class had never felt so good to Harry as he lounged about with his girls, him and Ron trading playful banter while he and his family got to know each other all over again.
After dinner, Ron bowed out, claiming a prior engagement with Lavender. Wishing his best friend all the luck, Harry and his family returned to the transmuted Chamber of Secrets.
"Girls, I've been very negligent of some of you," he said after they all found a place to sit. Snapping his fingers, he drew three boxes out of thin air. "Herms, you already got yours, but these three are for our new ladies," he said, holding three jewelery boxes in his hands.
"First, Parvati, Padma, these are for you," he said, holding out two of the boxes. The Indian twins jumped him, hugging and kissing him before they even thought about taking the boxes and opening them.
Gasps all around, as the two girls showed a matching set of jewels, at first sight, twins of each other, yet still different. The two necklaces were made up out of a choker containing silver linkages and beautiful gemstones, with black lotus flowers made out of silver containing the same gems attached to it. For Parvati, the Gryffindor, the gems were tiny red rubies, while Padma, forever Ravenclaw, had an identical necklace with blue sapphires.
Matching sterling earrings with matching gems, slightly larger than the teardrop attached to the necklace, completed the set.
Again, the girls squealed and jumped him. Harry, a big grin on his face, grabbed hold of each of them as they grabbed and kissed him. He laughed loudly and carefree, smiling widely when they finally disengaged their massive twin-hug.
His smile grew wider when Padma and Parvati immediately joined the other girls in wearing their necklaces. "I'm glad you like them," Harry said. "As I already explained to the others, those sets are yours to do with what you want. The rest of the Malfoy Family Jewels, I can never get tired of saying that, are in the bedroom, and they're for common use. If you want to wear something, it's first come, first served... so I'd appreciate it if you'd put everything back when you're done with it. I wouldn't want to have a fight on my hands because of some stupid gems."
He smiled at Hannah. "Hannah," he said. "Fair Hannah, who's so pretty when she's angry."
The blond Hufflepuff flushed bright red as he reminded her of something that happened almost a week ago. "These are for you," he said, handing her a box.
The girl beamed him a dazzling smile as she slowly worked the box open. She gasped as she lifted the necklace out of the box. A solid silver choker held a silver waterfall tipped with rose quartz crystals interwoven into it, playing beautifully against the blond's fair skin. "It's gorgeous," she whispered, tackling Harry, and not giving him a chance to say anything as she kissed him all over his face.
Finally, she disentangled herself, and Harry smiled at her. "Well, I'm glad you like it," he finished somewhat lamely. What was one supposed to say when a beautiful young woman gave you such an enthusiastic thank you?
Lifting the silver-and-quartz earrings out of the box, and holding them against her ears, she asked the room at large how she looked. As the girls all agreed that Hannah looked great, it inspired a somewhat mad-dash to the bedroom as the other girls all went to find their own earrings.
Padma, Parvati, and Hannah, already having their sets close at hand, merely put in the earrings, while looking at Hermione. Harry looked at her as well.
"You're not going to join us, Herms?" Padma asked.
"Don't call me that!" Hermione said in a huff.
"That's my prerogative," Harry said with a grin. "But the question's valid, Herms. You don't like the necklace? I can get you something else," he said, his voice trailing off.
Hermione shook her head. "It's beautiful, Harry! I already told you that... but I can't wear them like that... they're too pretty to just wear casually..."
Harry waved it off. "The others don't mind, so I don't see why not... and besides, the value of those gems are in making you happy. I don't care squat about money, and you know it."
Hermione sighed, nodded, and went against the flow of girls coming out of the bedroom as she walked in, in search of her own jewels. "Finally convinced her to wear them?" Pansy asked, plastering herself next to Harry, making Padma, Parvati, and Hannah scowl at not having taken the chance when they were alone in the room with him. By the time they were over their shock, Tracey had taken the seat on Harry's other side, and they were forced to find seating elsewhere.
"Yup," Harry confirmed. "But now I think, she has a new problem... namely, where did she put them?"
The girls were still laughing by the time Hermione left the bedroom, her bushy hair pulled back with a dazzling diadem made of silver, gold, and tiny diamonds, an obvious charm placed upon the object making Hermione's normally bushy hair appear as if it had been treated with liters of Slick-Easy potion.
Around her dainty neck was a tender choked of solid gold, with tiny diamond worked into it for the lighting effect rather than for the gems, as the light refracted into beautiful little rainbows on her unblemished skin. Each ear had a tiny diamond drop in it, once more there for effect rather than glamor. On the reserved Hermione, the effect was stunning and breathtaking.
"I'm glad to see you still found them, " Harry said with a chuckle. "And it makes me wonder just how many boys will be beating themselves up for never having noticed you before."
Hermione flushed prettily under the praise as she looked uncertain at the other girls. When she received enthusiastic confirmations of Harry's statements, she finally allowed herself to relax and brought out a wide smile that made her entire face light up.
Ronald Bilius Weasley's life had forever changed the day he went to Hogwarts. It was the day that he first met his two best friends, each of them to have unbelievable influence and change over his fate in the future. Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, a living legend and hero to wizards and witches of Great Britain everywhere, would become his closest friend and by helping and aiding Harry in his adventures, he would find it within himself to become a true Gryffindor. Hermione Granger, the Smartest Witch of Her Generation, a muggle-born witch with buck-teeth, bushy hair, and a bossy know-it-all demeanor, and was the only one that could actually make him focus on anything besides Quidditch or chess. It was only thanks to her that he was a Wizard of any caliber at all!
The Triwizard Tournament in his Fourth Year would also forever change Ron's life. It was the year his and Harry's friendship almost tore itself apart. It was the year he finally noticed Hermione as a growing woman. It was the year he finally started noticing girls period. And, it was the year Voldemort returned.
As he made his way down from Gryffindor Tower that Friday morning, over two weeks after the now infamous "Poker Game", the youngest Weasley son felt an uneasy sense of divination that his life would very soon be forever changed yet again. Nothing happened immediately, it was just a feeling he had.
Noticing that Harry and his Harem, or his 'Girls' as the phrase was being coined, had not yet ascended from their Chamber, he just shrugged and sat down for some quiet breakfast of his own. As usual, after he'd polished off his fifth 'seconds', the Owl Post arrived. What was so unusual about this was at least three different owls headed straight for Ron and dropped two scrolls, a parchment-wrapped package, and a sealed envelope right in front of him. The owls, unfortunately, did not hang around, which confused Ron as most often the creatures hung around to beg off a bit of bacon or two after delivery was complete.
Shrugging, Ron opened up the sealed letter first, and was literally shocked when a wave of magic exploded from it. He dropped it and briefly wondered if this was a prank from the Twins, until he recognized the seal that had been on the letter. It was the seal for the Ministry of Magic!
"Oh bugger, now what? Don't tell me I have to be Harry's manservant or some such nonsense like that?" Ron complained to himself as he slowly picked up the parchment letter and began to read it.
"Dear Sir Ronald Bilius Weasley,
We at the Ministry of Magic: Department of Noble Announcements & Proclamations would like to congratulate you and thank you for accepting you Inheritance as the heir of the Weasley Title of Her Majesty's Royal Court. Due to their outright refusal on the day each of them came of Age, your elder brothers have chosen to forgo this title. Thanks to your opening of this notification, as you read this it is being proclaimed of your ascendancy into the Nobility of Wizard Britain.
As such, you may now be addressed by all, save for those you count as closest of friends, as Sir Weasley, or My Lord in passing. Your Noble Title is truthfully the Baronet Weasley, as your family hold magical lands and Your Ancestor was once Knighted for Services rendered and chose to become a Knight of Magic, changing the title from a simple Lower Baron, to Baronet. In addition, you now have your own Vault at Gringotts, which has been bequeathed with the standard allowance of 500,995 Galleons, with the surcharges for establishing the account, tax fees and crediting charges making it an even 500,000 Galleon amount.
Your responsibilities as a Baronet of Wizard Britain is to defend against outside or Dark Magic Threats, maintain your holdings (or appoint someone to do it for you), accept a seat on the Wizengamot (or appoint someone to do it for you), and of course you are invited to join the ranks of the International Confederation of Wizards. Beyond that, your responsibilities are what you make them to be.
Sent alongside this notification are three items; the parchment wrapped package contains the Weasley Signet ring and a family heirloom that is rumored to have magical properties, but have not yet been identified. It also contains two Ancient Handfast Bands that you may do with as you desire. The Scrolls are Proclamations, should you choose to accept them, of Alliances that have been offered between other Noble Families to You.
Once again, Congratulations and Gratitude Sir Weasley.
Frederick B. Stark
Department of Noble Announcements & Proclamations
PS: By the time you've finished reading this notification, the deadline to challenge your Acceptance of this Inheritance has expired. Enjoy!"
Ron stared, dumbstruck at the letter in his hands for a full minute, before he finally made a response.
"Hey Ron!" a voice called out from behind him. "What's up?"
He slowly turned to see Harry standing there with all his Girls, looking more relaxed than Ron had seen him since before two weeks ago. Finally, his brain caught up, if only a little bit, as he realized what Harry had said, and he replied, "Huh? Oh! Uh, I'm not really sure. You know where Hermione is? I think I need her to take a look at something for me real quick."
Harry chuckled and then looked to his left at one of the Girls, who was giggling, causing interesting things to happen in her tight red china dress. Ron stared, uncomprehending for a second until his brain caught up a bit more. The girl was Hermione! And she was wearing one of those 'Harry Harem' Outfits!
"Hermione! Whu... wait a minute. You got caught too?" he blurted.
She smiled and took the letter from his limp hands. "Well, not so much caught, but to answer yours and everyone else's questions, yes, I'm one of Harry's Girls now. You might want to close your mouth and open the rest of your mail, Ronald. Before you let some hapless insect fly in."
Snapping his mouth shut, Ron gulped and, without really thinking, turned to the scrolls and opened them both at the same time. The wash of magic was barely enough to drown out Hermione's sudden shout of, "RON! NO!!"
Startled, both by the scrolls and Hermione's shout, Ron jumped back from the table and dropped both scrolls to the ground. Not that it mattered much as Hermione immediately picked them both up. "I tried to warn you, you silly boy! These," she picked up the opened scrolls and glanced them over, "As I suspected. These are Noble Contracts of Alliance. In any other country they might as well be considered Marriage Licenses! But thanks to the Wizarding World's warped view on things, guess what Ron? You now have yourself two concubines from two of the Lesser Noble Families of Wizard Britain!"
"Wait! What?!" Ron suddenly shouted, drawing several people's attention. Attention that was shifted when two more owls suddenly flew down and dropped a scroll each in front of two girls at different tables. "Wait a minute here, what is going on here? This kind of thing is supposed to happen to Harry, yeah? I don't even know what that letter is talking about!"
"Well, I'd think it would be fairly obvious, Ronald," Hermione scoffed, pulling Daphne out of the group and having her pour over the letter and scrolls with her.
Still very confused, but still hungry, Ron just huffed and then sat down and decided to open up the last of his mail. (Never let it be said that genius and common sense often ran together, as in Ron Weasley that is clearly not the case)
Opening the box, Ron saw exactly what the letter had said would be in there. A large, ornate ring with a stylized W imprinted onto it, which Ron immediately grabbed and put onto his left hand. (He didn't want the ring to get in the way of his wand or spell-casting) Then the other three items; two identical bracelets and a larger piece of jewelry that was gold with ornate red jewels embedded into it. Pulling that out and placing it on the counter, Ron was about to take a look at the bracelets, only to have Hermione practically scream into his ear from right behind him.
"RONALD BILIUS WEASLEY!"
He jumped, which unfortunately rattled the box he was holding and it was enough for both bracelets to escape, bounce off the table, land on the stone floor on their edges, and begin to roll away. "Bloody hell, now she's doing it to me," Ron complained to himself before turning around to face the witch.
"Do you have any comprehension of what you have just done?" she demanded.
"Uh... no, not really," he shrugged, a clueless expression on his face to support his statement.
"Oh, for the love of..." Hermione almost screamed, but was saved from making a scene as Lavender Brown walked up and sat down beside Ron.
"Hey Ronnie! What are you doing?" she grinned and spoke sultrily at him. "Ooo! What's this? Are you getting me presents already, Ronnie?" Then, before anybody could even think about stopping her, she picked up the piece of jewelry Ron had removed from the box, examined it for all of one second, before placing it around her neck, as she identified it as a jeweled choker. "Help me with fastening it, Ronnie?" she begged prettily.
"Uh..." Ron wasn't sure how to respond, but nevertheless found his hands moving without full conscious thought, and with a simple flick of a finger, he had locked the magical choker around the neck of his girlfriend. It wasn't until after they all noticed the spark of magic ignite that he began to wonder if that was a bad thing or not.
A couple tables over, two different young ladies looked down when they felt something solid strike their feet. Looking down, they both saw a smooth band-bracelet with intricate runic carvings all over it. Picking it up, they each tracked where they believed the bracelet to have come from, and saw Harry Potter standing there with his harem. Over the past week, common sense and free thought had been an increasingly rare sight at Hogwarts, doubly so when it came to Harry Potter and the rumors of him gathering a harem. Each, on their own, recalling that at least one of those girls had joined thanks to a piece of jewelry, and seeing how Harry had bequeathed all his Girls with the Malfoy Family Jewels, they squealed and did not hesitate to place the bracelets on their own slim wrists. Ten seconds later, the runes lit up on them and they shrunk from their normal size, to skintight and binding over their individual wrist.
Right around the same time this all was happening, the two girls that had gotten scrolls a minute ago, suddenly cried out and began to make a scene by almost crying and on the verge of becoming hysterical. In the midst of all this, everyone immediately turned to Harry, who was still standing next to the table with most of his Girls.
"I have a bad feeling about this," Harry muttered.
"It's about to get worse," Hermione warned everyone.
"Oh MASTER! Thank You!" Lavender suddenly burst out and hugged Ron around the neck.
Su Li and Megan Jones, from Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff tables, suddenly jumped up, each sporting a new silver bracelet on their wrists, and practically tackled Ron and Lavender to the ground, if it wasn't for Ron being made of sturdier stuff, so they wound up grabbing a leg each. "Oh Master! Thank You for having us as your slaves! We'll be good and proper witches and give you lots and lots of babies!"
Romilda Vane, a Fourth Year at Gryffindor table, stalked forward, holding a scroll in her hand and tears in her eyes. "How could you?! How could you!! I wanted Harry! Not his sidekick! HOW COULD YOU!!"
From the Ravenclaw table, again, Lisa Turpin slowly stood up and walked straight for Ron, ignoring Harry even as she walked right by him. She too held a scroll, but her face was rather subdued as she said to Ron, "I am here at my Lord's command. Do with me as you wish, my Lord."
"See? Told you," Hermione muttered to Harry.
"So... by circumventing this karmic curse that got me all of you, I basically just transferred it to Ron?" Harry asked.
"It would seem so," Luna answered.
Harry's only reply was to smirk at his friend's "good fortune" and would be glad of the opportunity for his best friend to finally learn some responsibility. Also, Ron wasn't exactly one to hold back on his desires, so Harry thought it a good idea that all of his "contracts" so far were those that "services rendered" would not constitute a dismissal. Also, it would be good to have someone to share miseries with once everything had settled down for his friend.
"Y'know, I think it's time we went to the Kitchens to set up that deal with the House Elves about bringing our meals directly to us. At least for the next couple of weeks, until Ron gets everything settled. What do you think, girls?"
They just cheered and almost dragged him to the Kitchens themselves.
"Harry?" Ron cried out, being held back by three young women as he was accosted by two others. "HELP!!"
"One thing I've leaned, Ron, is that you don't say 'no' to a bunch of ravenous girls, especially when they're out to get you," Harry said as he strode rapidly out of the Great Hall, his Family right behind him.
"I feel like I was just thrown to the wolves," Ron muttered, looking from one girl to the next, not knowing what to do next.
"No, just the girls," Harry replied from beyond the Great Hall.