Title: Death's Pride
Chapter22 – Timekeeping
Ship: H/Hr/L, Nev/Sus B/Han A, Draco/Pansy, Ron/Lav
Warnings: Suggestive Language, Nudity, Adult Situations, Adult Language
Key: "Speech", 'Thoughts', "Speech laden with magic", §Parseltongue§
[Author's Note:] - Butterfly Effect– It has been said something as small as the flutter of a butterfly's wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world. – Chaos Theory
Does anyone else ever think Hermione/Emma from the first movie reminds them of Lady from "Lady and the Tramp"? Her hair in that reminds me of Lady's ears. o.O
I continuously get flak for long chapters and, while this chapter is quite a bit longer than what I'm currently posting, I'll post this comfortable 10K words because I'm wanting to do enough of Draco Malfoy's political actions in the Wizengamot before I actually post them (over the course of about four or six chapters which I'm nearing completion) to ensure I don't screw it up and have to correct chapters. I have a few very specific things I want to get done with him. But, what I am posting is the foundation of everything that comes. Please forgive the long absences. I am focusing on real life duties and a lot of things are sort of snowballing.
At a request, I'll try date-stamping various scenes that the date matters with while, some, will not be stamped since they don't matter so much. Things like Babbling's scene later in this chapter – The date doesn't matter, but between the acknowledged dates.
Recommended Story of the Chapter: "Lost Marbles" by Super-Saiyan-3-Vegeta (Harry/Hermione/Luna – Crack Comedy or over the top comedy, depending on your view)
xXx Previously xXx
The Triad learns they will have to host a ball; Dumbledore speaks with his brother for the first time in over a century, the Triad's betrothals are signed along with Neville discovering he now has one with Susan Bones and Hannah Abbot; Draco begins making plans to be a nuisance and training to become the next Dark Lord.
xXx STORY xXx
Peter quaked in a clay jug where he was hiding from his most recent brush with death, ignoring the yellow puddle his fear had generated. While out and trying to get some food, he discovered that the owls were patrolling the grounds with those cat things on their backs and it was only the fact that owls weren't meant to carry passengers that allowed him to escape since they weren't quite nimble enough to catch him with added weight on their backs rather than in their claws.
The little rat had discovered the wards on the castle had changed. Digging a path in an attempt to have a quick escape route proved futile since there was apparently an active barrier the wards put up to stop unauthorized access, which was anything other than the secret tunnels and the gate onto the castle grounds, and anyone with ill intent to pass them, regardless of the direction. And attempts to dig into the tunnels proved a failure as well, since there were apparently barriers around those as well, which hadn't been the case when he was a student. In fact, that hadn't even been the case the previous year. Someone, as far as Peter could tell, had upgraded the wards around and within the school. He could dig a hole, but no more than a foot down. Then it was like gnawing or digging through cold iron with his human fingers.
What was worse, the secret tunnels didn't seem to open for hardly anyone any longer. Thus far, the Weasleys twins were the only ones he was aware of that could open them, though the traitorous rat also believed Harry Potter could do so, and possibly anyone aligned with him. The school seemed to bend to Potter's will these days, almost with a sense of mischief he somewhat remembered from his own school days. The stairs even moved to accommodate him and his friends and seemed to delight in making those who were vocal against Harry end up barely making it to classes on time. A new favorite trick seemed to involve getting just close enough to the next floor of the traveler's destination before going back the other way as if taunting them.
The last few months for Peter had been filled with futile attempts at creating escape routes, and future infiltration points, to discover that the wards were too strong and what he believed to be a few dozen new additions in place to stop such attempts had been added, though in truth, they were ones that laid dormant due to a lack of ability to control and activate them. In summation, he knew he was screwed if he couldn't find a way out.
So, while the rat was too scared to enter the castle from the large number of Thundercats roaming the halls, he decided that he wouldn't leave the comfort of his little nest under Hagrid's hut any more than necessary, and that meant his food would either come from the half-giant's own kitchen, which he discovered most was inedible even to his rat form, or he could raid the man's garden, which is what led to his current situation.
'I just wanted some of the rhubarb,' he whined to himself as he gnawed as quickly as he could at the pottery he was ensconced in so he could run through the bush and into the wooden hut without being seen.
Above, Twinkle sighed as he saw the owl and Thundercat that had been close to nabbing their prey rage in the sky. Not at each other, as both species were smart enough to know there was no fault to be had, but at the situation. "This won't work as well as we had hoped," he mumbled to Hedwig from the side of the owlry.
"Not without some additional training," Hedwig agreed. "We are fierce hunters, but lose much speed and our agility in flight with added weight atop of us. It's harder to arrest our fall or make quick turns compared to what we are used to."
"Practicing on non-moving targets isn't going to be enough," Twinkle agreed. "We need the practice of live prey. Unfortunately, your talons are sharp enough that nothing intelligent enough to make a decision is willing to play the part of the target since there's too much of a chance to accidental death."
"We will not allow our talons to be blunted or covered," Hedwig hissed, images of baby booties and bonnets that some cats had been forced to wear thanks to some horrific firsties flickered in her mind's eye.
"Master is attempting to make rechargeable wands," Twinkle suggested, thinking quickly. "Perhaps he could craft something similar for us such as nets."
"We have been training for some time," Hedwig stated after a moment, looking as regal as an owl was able. Quite surprising how well she pulled it off, too. "Perhaps we should allow a few days' rest to both sides while you talk it over with my Human. Maybe send a few of your people down to the hut and flush the traitorous, fat, juicy morsel out of hiding," she suggested, somehow managing to lick her beak.
"Meow that is a good idea," Crookshanks suggested from behind the duo, pouting lightly when neither of the two jumped in surprise. 'So much for the ninja kneazle idea,' he sighed mentally. 'It's ridiculous that a kneazle is a fan of Jackie Chan.'
"What do you want?" Hedwig asked imperiously. "You know I do not like you in my domain." 'It's like dealing with the Cheshire cat from that cartoon my Human saw in his elder mate's mind. All that's missing is the grin.'
"Oh, come meow," Crookshanks sauntered up beside Twinkle and sat his fuzzy bottom on the stone floor, grimacing a little at how cold it was. "We're practically already family! Our Humans have proclaimed their desire to take each other as mates and I don't know about yours, but mine has no intentions of leaving him."
"No human is as loyal as mine," Hedwig barked in indignation. "How often does yours provide you with delicacies?"
"You mean 'treats'?" Crookshanks asked confusedly, letting out a purr before he could stop himself and feigning a hairball.
"Treats?" Hedwig asked curiously, tilting her head slightly. "My Human provides me with Owl Delicacies. They even come in a variety of flavors such as mouse, fish, squirrel and cat," she hissed the last, hoping he would understand her threat. "And bacon," she stated with authority, looking out over the grounds and puffing up her chest. "There is always room for bacon."
Crookshanks' tail dipped and his ears sagged to the sides of his head. 'I hope birdbrain here doesn't ever read the box,' he thought to himself. In truth, the treats were generally small portions or the tiny forms of the actual animals. Magicals didn't care to make artificial food for an animal when they could just put it under stasis and sell as-is. After all, why would a magical want to work for the comfort of an animal, or lesser being, when they could just magic up the critter to be devoured and then use magic to package it? However, Crookshanks didn't know that since Hermione always got his own treats from the muggle world since it was so much easier, cost less and she was more comfortable with it in her desire to do something normal for the pet she was so happy to have. She also preferred to know exactly what her pet was eating, even if some of it was artificial with a name that most adults couldn't pronounce. 'And there's something to be said for catnip,' the squash-faced furball mused with a feline grin that Sirius would have been proud of.
"Do you believe the other cats would be willing to hunt for the rat?" Twinkle asked Crookshanks.
"They will if they know what's good for them," Crookshanks rowred. Until that moment, the Thundercats weren't aware cats could do that. "It is all of our Humans who are at risk with him running around." The fluffy orange menace looked at his smaller counterpart appraisingly. "Perhaps it's time your lot were taught how to use your claws."
"Our what?" Twinkle asked. The little fur person knew cats had them, and they were cat-like, but they just had slightly paw-like hands.
Rolling his eyes, Crookshanks batted the Thundercat leader's hand up and pressed on his paw, causing sharp instruments of doom to pop out, much to Twinkle's shock as his nails extended, thickened and sharpened instantly.
"Where did those come from!"
Friday – February 18, 05:00 AM
"Do you know why you are here?" Gripaxe asked of the female that had been brought to his office in the bowels of Gringotts. Gripaxe was Griphook's liaison to the goblin curse breaker teams as they were from the same clan, their mothers being sisters, and Griphook's instant rise in power and authority had trickled down amongst some of their members where they could better help their very wealthy and powerful client, which is why they went out of their way to find this particular woman. Specifically since she looked so much like his mother, just in case the rumors of the human staring at her image in pictures were true, despite his not growing up in pureblood circles to learn some of their more awkward preferences. It was hoped the woman would make Lord Potter feel more at ease and trusting, if nothing else, though more was certainly hoped for as a seduced male was a pliable male. Griphook was standing beside his uncle to ensure everything went smoothly and to answer questions as needed while trying to judge how well she matched the memories he had viewed of Lily Potter. In appearance, it was almost uncanny, despite being a smaller woman in all respects save for a larger bust. In personality, however, Griphook felt she would be more comfortable seducing clients at Belinda's.
"I do not," Cordelia Ward stated immediately. She was a slip of a girl at only five feet and four inches tall, skinnier than even Luna and red hair that hung to the small of her back with a fullness of form that women in general would kill for. She had wide hips, powerful legs and larger C-cup breasts that usually kept people from noticing her jade-green eyes until she called them on their staring, though she rarely bothered. It was her belief that she was more apt to get what she wanted if they were enthralled with her appearance. And it had taken quite a bit of gold to a Transfiguration Mistress to permanently change her hair and eye color to what they were now.
"You are needed for a very specific and delicate job," Gripaxe began. "Your talents and experience are near ideal for this situation in regards to Lord Potter."
"What talents are those?" Cordelia asked curiously. She was usually the 'eye-candy' that was sent in when men in positions to help or hinder the goblins were waffling on a decision and bribery wasn't enough. Her job was to flirt and entice, making the men want to please her, which pleased her bosses. She was an adequate ward master, which meant she was better than average for human standards and pathetically below by goblin standards for their humans, but not up to snuff for legitimate and dangerous field work. There was too much risk at killing the entire team, particularly since her power levels were about on par with the average fifth year. It was a degrading job, and one that occasionally meant she would take her job a little too far if the man was appealing enough so she could have some fun. Plus, those men generally provided additional income and expensive gifts, which amused the goblins.
But that didn't explain what she could do to help with the Potter account. Not unless the youngest lord in a two and a half centuries was already playing vice to strong prey and weak warriors, as the goblins liked to say, or fast women and slow horses, in their more common tongue.
"Lord Potter wishes to learn ward creation and breaking and is willing to pay for it. However, he has been made aware of the limitations a lack of education would bring him," Gripaxe began. "This is where you come in."
Cordelia got a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. 'Babysitting duty! Damn the goblins hit hard! How did the buggers find out I made that last target satisfy a camel and memory-charmed him?' It was really the man's own fault. There was no way she would join his harem to be one girl for each day of the month. Not when he weighed as much as her refrigerator and was shorter than her and probably bathed about as often as the Chudley Cannons won a match.
"Your job is to find out why he wanted to learn this skill, attempt to influence him into contracting Gringotts for it instead if at all possible, and be a direct liaison between Lord Potter and the bank for all of his business needs, which is a not-so-subtle way of saying we want you to observe him as much as possible to let us better know what is happening with him and how we may profit from it," Griphook explained. Goblins weren't the sort to just sugarcoat something. Time was money and being blunt meant less chance of misunderstanding. Plus, if the young lord died, that was a drastic drop in income from his accounts as they were all currently set to be transferred to Hermione Granger, along with all properties and holdings. There was no telling what that girl would do with it, but she was far too comfortable in the muggle world to risk that kind of gold.
"Doesn't he have you, Accounts Manager Griphook, for this?" Cordelia asked.
"As you know, Lord Potter is substantially wealthy in every way that matters: gold, land, political clout and even raw magical power that our last scan shows to be at frightening levels. Our reasons for your new role aren't so you can do my job, but so that you can see that which I do not and that which our informants can not. You are also, again, meant to do what you can to gain additional contracts through Lord Potter and learn what you can of him and his needs, including teaching and augmenting his lessons for his original request in ward crafting and breaking, of which the Potters were once quite famous for, as an honest cover at the same time. Do this, and you shall learn more of our reasons for why we selected you," Griphook explained. He wasn't about to say more without an agreement, even if she was an employee under very strict oath and allegiance clauses.
Cordelia was silent a moment as she looked at her superior and the goblin that was in charge of her potential target's vaults. "You realize my 'talents' tend to focus on sex and manipulation? Are you really asking me to pull that out on a thirteen-year old whose balls may not have even dropped yet? I admit I rarely actually have sex with a target, but my entire duty is sexual exploitation."
"No," Griphook explained. "If he is agreeable and you have no qualms, we have no issue with your coupling. But I do not believe it to be likely he will take a second look at you. He is quite endeared to his current two interests without interest in another that we can tell and our focus is in gaining additional contracts and assisting with what you will learn soon. Risking the client's continued patronage is not our aims."
'Challenge accepted. The little Lord Potter will be led around by his little head like a bloody pet by the time I'm done with him,' Cordelia mused in her mind. No one was beyond her thrall. Cordelia had never once failed to ensnare a mark and prided herself in capturing their hearts precisely when she desired to. She may bide her time and only bother if she really found herself interested, but screw the goblins and, eventually, screw Harry freaking Potter! "Okay, I accept. So what am I doing, exactly?"
"As stated, the Potters were once the premier ward-crafting family around until a few generations ago. They still have wards that greatly surpass ours around their family manor that have never been provided elsewhere. While still susceptible to a concentrated attack, these wards are invisible to the normal methods of observation, meaning they cannot be examined or taken down without forcing your way through them. And their absorption properties are completely foreign to us. If you can somehow get those without theft, there will be a massive bonus for you. Do not push for this. It is to be treated like the usual gifts your targets give you," Gripaxe explained. Only the fact that the previous dark lord had the numbers needed to take down those wards kept the Potter family from staying in their ancestral manor instead of Godric's Hollow. And the knowledge that Voldemort would have been nigh on unstoppable with the resources in that home, though not many were aware those resources were there. The library at Hogwarts was world-renowned for a reason and contributed to why the dark lord wanted to teach there. The Potter library, like many older pureblood homes like the Longbottoms, Blacks and Rookwood families, was much the same, but in specific fields rather than over such a broad spectrum and without the numerous copies of so many books like at a school where the library was in place for hundreds of students.
"Steal them, and we will allow Lord Potter to determine your fate," Griphook growled. "We will brand your backside like a common beast and gift you to him as a collared slave if it would appease him. Be warned!"
"Other than that," Gripaxe stated with a nod as his cousin ensured the female knew the risks of betraying the client, and Gringotts, "your goal is to teach him what you can of warding with the knowledge he has, or to bring him up to speed if he wishes it. But most importantly, you are to find out what he wishes to learn the craft for. Determine if he discovered his family legacy and wishes to take on the mantle, or if he has a job or jobs that we can contract from him. If Lord Potter intends to take up ward crafting, we will find a drastic drop in that side of our business and will either need to acquire him for ourselves, or do our best to come to an agreeable compromise for us all. If he has a job he wants done, then we want the gold."
Hogwarts sighed as she cupped her chin, sitting on the toilet and finding herself bored out of her mind. Well, within her mind, really, but it was the boredom that truly mattered. She had been practicing her twirling, finding the sensation of dizziness to be quite exhilarating, when she felt the need to tinkle. After getting lost a few times in her attempt to make it the ten feet to the toilet, as she had become good at twirling and the room spun around crazily, and remembering to pull down her pants and panties this time, she found herself sitting without actually going.
"Being human has some really fun parts, but it also has some really ... not so fun ones, too," she grumbled, before suddenly, she was going! "Yes!" She yelled, pumping a fist into the air. At least she wasn't hopping up and down in triumph any more. It didn't take more than twice to learn that was a bad idea until she had finished going. "Yes! Success! If I can do this for a week without an accident, then it'll be time!" It had already been two days, including nights, without any incidents.
It was almost ridiculous to the castle-turned-girl how much effort being human was, but it was taking less and less effort to pay attention to all the small things to control her body. As much attention as she had to provide the castle such that she could listen in on any conversation in the castle almost, along with the school defenses and active protections, she had almost none to spare after becoming a little girl. And she had never paid attention to humans when they went about their biological needs, so it had always come across as something that just simply happened and seemed like something she had no interest or care in learning.
And now she knew that she was always right, even if that meant she had to learn things now. Even if that meant learning through trial and error.
Her daddy would be so proud when she told him how she learned in excruciating detail!
Bathsheba unfurled the scroll she got from one of her contacts in the Unspeakables department. Harry had, as promised, given her a copy of the book he referenced in their first few classes and as he had said, there were symbols in that book that had been hinted of in the past, or told as legend, but had been lost to the annals of history. At least if the descriptions and names of the runes were correct. But, there had been two dozen that she could not account for, but held far too much promise to ignore. Thus, in accordance with an agreement with Harry, she sent out the runes to her contacts, in natural ink of course, to ask if they could identify them with a focus to look at more rare and mythical relationships for them.
Like the seven other letters, this one came back with negatives on all accounts. But differently, it was the same on all save one.
I'm not sure what you got your hands on, but I can tell you this much. Whatever those Runes are, I am aware of only one of them. I know what it does, but I have no idea how, when it was invented, the name of it or even its origin or language. In fact, I've destroyed the copy you sent me, destroyed your letters to me, and will be obliviating the knowledge of this rune once I've sent this letter. Do not ask me about it again. Please note that this is not a request. If anyone learns of this inquiry, you need to run, far and fast. Do you understand me? I've also taken the liberty of visiting those you've told me you contacted previously about this and a few I suspected you may have sent it to or that they said they told of it. They will not have any letters from you, nor will they remember talking to you or this rune. Do not contact them again about this. I have taken measures to ensure they will tell me if you do and they will be killed.
The only reason I'm not destroying all knowledge of this with you, as well, is because you knowing will not be dangerous as long as you do not tell anyone.
Please, don't, Batty. You know I love you and you know I would go to the ends of the earth to protect you, but that is pretty much what it would take if you go public with it and the wrong people find out you know of it.
The next-to-last rune. If you notice, it's a flowing stylized 'Z' without any points, correct? And the curious symbol in the center of it? The figure eight that nearly connects the ends of the 'Z' and looks something like an hourglass? That is something I have seen in one location, which is a room in my department that no one has been able to open since the Ministry's creation. Those who have tried, die. I think. Their bodies burst into a glowing mist and get absorbed by that rune, which will glow such a deep red it almost appears black. With a pulse, it does ... something to the clusters around it and the entire series of protections on the door reset, more powerful than they were before. The clusters actually change with each victim into something newer and greater, more complex. It isn't that it absorbs their bodies, but their lives. It actually absorbs the soul. Or at least the same thing that the dementors devour, which we believe to be the soul, if nothing else.
All known research on this is not only forbidden, but under lock and key for what was originally done in the past, if not destroyed outright. I know, because the Head Unspeakable gave me hell for getting curious when I examined that room and began trying to figure it out. For an entire day, I suffered threats of my life, body and soul. The Head Unspeakable explained that whatever was behind that door was worth the lives of every person that would try to open the door. I don't mean valuable. I mean worth the lives taken and destroyed to keep it there.
Batty, whatever you're in to, stop it. I don't know what that rune does, nor do I want to know. I only know it's a part of a cluster that has taken more than a thousand lives, all said and done. And whatever it is, it seems to be the key to that room's defenses. The bloody rune clusters are amorphous. Each life changes the whole thing and it rewrites itself.
I can't tell you more than this without violating my own oaths. I'm sorry. Remember I love you and if you ever need my help, for anything except this, I'm here for you.
I'll woo you eventually,
Bathsheba shuddered. If what was written in that book of Potter's was correct, and she had little reason to doubt it now, then most of those runes weren't actually runes at all, but an ancient script and actual alphabet that was the precursor and origin of the Elven language. Not house elves, as they were, but Elves as they were in legend, which even the magical world doubted was true any longer. The Elves themselves built their language on it and it was also the basis for their magic, at least according to the book. A written expression of magic itself. Even wand-based magic was a derivative of this script. Well, as much of one as English was a derivative of telepathy, anyway. Related, but not nearly similar.
And it wasn't just the one rune, which wasn't supposed to actually kill anyone. It was actually a rune used for transcendence to another plane. One beyond the physical. It was, in theory, meant to bridge the gap between life and magic. Something the muggles called the Akashic field and clairvoyants sometimes were able to hear whispers from.
If the other runes followed the same suit, and did what they said, then they could be used for almost anything. The Potter boy was already using one of them to bridge the connection of the mind and one's will for the desired results on his wands.
"This is why students shouldn't be reading ahead," Bathsheba sighed, destroying her notes with a fire spell and making the smoke go outside until even the ash itself had burnt away. Then she banished the smolder on the floor out of the window and composed a quick letter to her troublesome student, burned the copy of the book she had, and began the long process of using her own occlumency to bury all the knowledge of the runes themselves away while leaving the warnings clear and vivid. She just couldn't bring herself to truly destroy the knowledge that those in her field of study would sell their souls for.
Friday – February 18, 06:15
"Harder," Luna purred, arching her back in delicious rapture as Hermione massaged her shoulders and neck. The blonde's front was pressing against the wall of the hot tub and the air bubbles while the brunette's front was against Luna's backside where she had collapsed when Harry's hands had begun massaging her own back, shoulders and neck. Hermione was groaning even more than the lithe blonde as she received far more sensory input.
"Yes," Hermione breathed out with a gasp as she agreed with her co-girlfriend. "Harder!"
"That's fifteen minutes," Harry grumbled through a yawn, pulling his hands away. His own back and shoulders hurt like hell, as did the rest of him, and he just couldn't exert more energy, despite how much he liked hearing the girls enjoy their massages. "Today's going to be a very long day, isn't it?" He asked rhetorically.
"Mm, yes," the girls agreed as one as they sidled up to his sides and cuddled tightly, half dozing on their accommodating boyfriend. "The days are getting really long in general," Hermione continued.
"What do you two think of repeating each day twice?" Harry asked, relishing in the complete lack of exertion just sitting there with his girls allowed in the gentle heat of the hot tub. "I don't know about the two of you, but getting up early, putting so many extra hours in each day, since we have a minimum of four, six for me since I repeat each two-hour 'quality session' twice with you girls, and adding in any extra time for our researching is becoming ridiculous in a single day."
"Actually, we give ourselves four hours a day for homework and research when you spin time for anything else when we don't turn time with you to stay on a relatively similar schedule," Luna murmured, rubbing her body against his in an attempt to become more comfortable which, to her, meant more physical contact and trying to fit together like puzzle pieces. Not to mention the delicious tingles that she was growing more fond of. Still, finding the right cuddle position was worth the effort. The water was warm, but her boyfriend was warmer. And cuddled back. She very much liked the cuddling back.
"And we aren't really giving ourselves any more time to sleep even though you suggested the Room of Requirement for it," Hermione sighed, stroking Harry's chest absently as variables of wants and needs computed rapidly in her mind. "I've actually been thinking about this recently, too, though I was just thinking of repeating a whole night to sleep for the extra time. Especially since we'll have dancing lessons, DA meetings, etiquette lessons with Daphne and all sorts of things as well considering our need for researching the missing horcruxes you told us about. Turning time for naps during the day just seems to be pushing it too far considering how much we use the turners as it is in various amounts. I think we're all averaging almost an extra six hours each day without the added workloads of other things just for the extra stuff we want to do and not that we need to do."
"We'll age two days to everyone else's one," Luna commented sleepily, finding just the right place on Harry's shoulder to rest her cheek. "I certainly look forward to more quality time and can't wait to have a heaving bosom that I can play with like in Harry's mind, to say nothing of the lovely knickers I can get, but do we want to really do so just for such mundane things as school, dancing and exercise?"
"It isn't as simple as that," Hermione said simply as she worried her bottom lip, doing her best to avoid the thoughts of lacy underthings and the dress-up games her and Luna played in Harry's mind with their older counterparts. She consoled herself with the knowledge it had been Luna's idea, despite her own enthusiasm. "School is important, but by doing our work as we are, we can work to learning things for the war Harry said is coming. The exercise is needed so we'll be in better shape and can fight better and hopefully survive and being tired all the time only makes the exercise work less efficiently and makes us tired and almost useless if we actually end up in a fight, to say nothing of not being able to study as thoroughly due to tired minds. The lessons with Daphne help with forming alliances and interacting with people who can help and not alienating those we otherwise would. The two-hour bonding sessions are all but needed for our soul bonds, though I admit that decision was made as much out of desire as the belief it was necessary. And we've been falling behind on our mental defense practice because we're so tired. The dancing is just because I'd like to do so, I'll admit."
"I'm not discounting that," Luna agreed gently, lifting a hand to stroke Hermione's cheek with her knuckles in a soft gesture of affection and trying to soothe the older girl without moving her cheek from its comfortable spot. "I just want to make sure it's been said. I don't really care, so long as our first time through each day is for school so we can do our homework on the second pass and to respond to anything we learn. I mean, we get a quarter to half a day right now, anyway."
"I agree with you both," Harry said slowly, smiling gently as he squeezed both girls to him. Despite the conversation, he still couldn't believe just how well the two girls got along with each other and loved seeing their brief moments of affection for each other since it made him believe everything was possible. That winning was possible. "I've gone round and round with those same considerations, but can't decide if it's worth it. I mean, I know we live longer than non-magicals, and it's not even a year total if you count the remaining four or so months of school and the same after turning time. But that extended life is an average of about forty years unless you're substantially more powerful than the norm. So one year in full doesn't seem so bad in comparison."
"But we may end up doing this for the next four years at Hogwarts, too," Hermione countered with a sigh. "Admittedly, not everything needs to continue to be doubled, and I think I'm going to take your advice and drop Divination like the other me did, so that'll help a little for me, and we could always try to just fit more into our normal hours."
"I would very much like to continue our private time," Luna rushed to let them know, making the older two chuckle and agree. "You know, if we did repeat each day, we could have much more private time where we could spend time like this. Research and planning, too, of course. But bath time is fun."
Harry snorted in amusement before leaning down and kissing the blonde girl gently, getting a sigh of contentment as it ended. "I was wondering when you would take the hint," Luna grinned as she watched him turn his lips to Hermione. "In the end, I think repeating each day would be better than not."
"What about you?" Harry asked his First. "Do you agree with our cuddly little Luna?"
"It certainly has its merits," Hermione grinned, leaning forward and nibbling on his neck for a brief moment. "I think I do, though," she mumbled before slumping in exhaustion and going back to cuddling and trying not to fall asleep and simply kissing the exposed neck and shoulder where it didn't require much movement.
"What about you?" Luna asked, ignoring the neck nuzzling her co-girlfriend was doing. She was more interested in his hand stroking her hair and how it made her sleepier with each stroke. 'Cats definitely have the world view thing worked out properly,' the cuddly blonde mused, wishing she could purr.
"I've been trying to think of a reason against it, which is why I had thought it was probably a bad idea," Harry joked. "But it would help us get so much done that it just seems crazy not to do it. So I figured I was probably off base somehow."
"What's on the agenda for today?" Hermione asked, laying her head down on his shoulder and deciding to just let the hot water soothe the aches in her tired body. The spirit was willing, but the flesh was tired and achy. 'Thank God I'm not on my monthly anymore,' she thought to herself. 'I still feel guilty every time I look at Snarf. I shouldn't have threatened to stomp him flat for looking at Crooks' catnip toy. Maybe I should get him and the others one.' She tried not to think of a group of a hundred hyper Thundercats, but couldn't stop a tiny grin at the thought.
"Well, I've got the Wizengamot meeting starting at ten and want to hit the Forbidden Forest before I leave. Since it's not mandatory, Misses Bones and Longbottom are pretty sure the meeting will be over by one for a slightly late lunch. And Madam Bones said she wanted to talk about something or other, so I don't know what that's about. I'll also be speaking with a few of the professors here to get a better idea of the overhaul I want to do on a couple classes, Muggle Studies being the most important. I'd really like to know what the point of the class is and just exactly how out of date everything is since you've mentioned it's pretty bad, but I'd like Professor Burbage's point of view before I do much. Then I am hoping to meet the goblins while I'm out, too, about a project I think many would like. I've also got a meeting with Skeeter tonight at five to basically try and buy her off to control what she writes, so I'll either be late for the family dinner or have to turn time for an hour or two to make it. I'm just glad I canceled the DA meeting for today."
"Let's turn back to get extra time and go to bed early tonight at the Manor," Luna suggested, moving over her warm boyfriend, a fact she rather enjoyed, to sit in Hermione's lap and let her legs lay over Harry's own so that she could hug both of them to her chest in a joyful embrace. Or at least one that got a lot of contact that she rather enjoyed while mushing their faces into her burgeoning breasts because they turned funny shades of red. "If we go to sleep early, we get more cuddle time and then we get to sleep in late. Maybe we can even have brekkie in bed!" She bounced up and down happily as plots of pancakes in bed swam through her mind's eye. No syrup, though. Even with magic, that was a pain to get out of sheets. She would never try to store them away for winter again, that was for sure.
"That sounds really good, actually," Hermione agreed with a tired smile, wrapping her arms around Luna and kissing the younger girl's cheek, causing Luna to smile brilliantly. Hermione was fully willing to stroke Luna's hair or cheek, hug or cuddle, but rarely offered kisses that weren't during or immediately surrounding naughty time since she was still coming to terms with her own feelings and what was considered appropriate for their relationship and what should be considered a line she didn't want to cross. It didn't help that Luna was willing to do just as much with Hermione as she would with Harry without a second thought while believing kissing was something to enjoy rather than shy away from. Much like nudity, cuddling and playing with sensitive fleshy bits to show you cared.
"I'll speak with Professor Burbage, though, so I can just give you an overview later," Hermione offered. "That should save you a bit of breathing room and I'm rather curious to find out if she has actually been in the muggle world or not."
"I guess that settles it, yea?" Harry asked through a grin. He had been blocking the slight empathic ability he had because it was confusing and he couldn't tell if a feeling was his own or not, but he opened himself to that power now and tried to tell how the two girls felt. There was heavy weariness since they were all tired from so much extra time, even worse than he remembered Hermione being by this point in his past time line with so many extra hours and about the same amount of sleep, but both were feeling somewhat frisky and playful and were simply too tired to act on their impulses. The idea was appealing to both and they were excited by it and looked forward to the private studying and relaxation they could do. Or to breakfast. He wasn't really totally sure, but there was also hunger there and he was almost positive Luna was thinking about pancakes. "We start off our new schedule with a bit of flair and live through our tomorrow the first time at the Manor? Trying it out for a little while won't hurt and we can see if it's worth it. Today is today, then tomorrow is today the second time around, sound good?"
"Are we hiding it from everyone, still?" Hermione asked curiously, wondering if they should tell their families. "I mean, they know we leave the school, obviously, but they still don't know we turn time. Do we stay at the Manor, or our trunks, or do we just stay at one of the cottages? Or even one of your other homes?" Hermione looked up to Harry and stifled a yawn.
"I think we probably shouldn't," Harry said after a brief moment of thought. "Your parents are getting the Prophet, Sirius and Remus are a bit more aware of what's going on and may connect the dots. But the less people that know, the better," he said with a sigh. "If we tell them, then they could either disagree and cause problems, or just do nothing and still end up accomplices. That means we can't really go into the Manor, but one of the cottages would be fine so we still have access to the library. We would just need a way to avoid Sirius detecting us like blocking the light from the windows and letting him know we may randomly show up for a book or something so he doesn't get suspicious of it. At least until I can ease him into it since I doubt we can keep it hidden for long."
"Isn't Sirius aware of what you've been doing?" Luna asked, her head resting on Hermione's shoulder with eyes closed, just resting her eyes. Hermione didn't generate as much body heat, but she was a little softer.
"Part of it," Harry confirmed. "But he doesn't know about the Azkaban hit, or about the Malfoys, Umbridge or what I did with Greyback and his pack mates. He only knows about Snape and the stuff associated with him. He has no idea about us turning time and the like. He may think it's the greatest prank to turn time and all, but I just want to make sure his mind is defensible enough to avoid having it read. He trusts Dumbledore and that's just too dangerous right now."
"Then we do it alone for now?" Luna asked, deciding she would remind them to turn time so they relived the current day a second time to start their new schedule that night. She would rather have the extra day to do any homework than not, and she was sure Hermione would too, if she thought about it. She'd already mentioned it, but knew it wouldn't hurt to remind them. Especially since tonight could be the night they slept there if they elected not to come back after dinner. 'All the better to get pancakes!'
"For now," Harry confirmed, pulling Hermione close to kiss her hard, only to move his attentions to Luna to kiss her just as thoroughly, but more gently. He then turned back to his First with Luna's giggles as a background 'Hermione wanted dominance. It'll take getting used to, but here's to doing my best!' He thought gleefully. 'There's still two hours before the Wizengamot meeting. It's definitely time to make the girls as happy as they make me.' With that in mind, he began switching his attentions between both girls and showering them with kisses and caresses that were less perverse and more comforting and loving in nature. Though, Hermione's kisses were taken rather than shared, which seemed to make her smile broaden noticeably. He even coaxed a squeal of delight when he found himself growling into her as he got into the role she read and fantasized about. He'd step by Madam Pomfrey to get a few doses of pepper-up potion for the day.
Friday – February 18, 06:50
Ginny Weasley slowly leaned her head to the left, hidden in the shadows of a small alcove behind a tapestry that hung on the wall. It appeared there had once been a passage there, since the stone was different than what surrounded it in color and apparent composition, but it was now large enough for five men to stand shoulder to shoulder with a rough half circle and the girl had decided to set it up as a nest of sorts to observe her prey. Silently, she continued her morning vigil and stood there, gazing intently at the blank wall down the hall about twenty feet away from her. In that spot, a door sometimes appeared, though never for her, it seemed.
He was in there. With them. Her Harry was in there, doing something that made Hermione and Luna smile every time they left that room. Or at least in the last six days that she had been watching now that she was caught up to the other second-years. They went in at five in the morning and left at seven, give or take, and were always both exhausted and smiling happily, their skin glowing radiantly from an inner light and glistening with sparkles that only a truly hot shower or bath could really provide.
'Unless it's something that caused them to perspire,' Ginny thought to herself curiously as her thoughts turned to the frighteningly satisfied expressions on both girls each morning.
The petite little redhead had once thought she would be furious with anyone who deigned to be with Harry. And originally, she had, being angry and rarely with a good thought about Hermione Granger's closeness with him that she read about in letters home from her brothers. But in truth, she now was thankful to the two older girls who were his constant companions. The littlest Weasley was glad for their love that Harry received while she, herself, had yet to be accepted by him. She was sure he would accept her, of course. There was no real way any other path could exist before them. They had been destined to be together. She may not have been the first, but she was sure to be his.
He just had to be made aware of that fact, as well. With whatever it took. He was a boy, and the woman that gave birth to her told her all about how they were incredibly dense. He saved her from a sixty-seven foot basilisk, braved an entire nest of acromantula, obliterated the mind of a mind-wiping professor who stole others' lives and even took measures to make sure she was looked after following her possession. If that didn't mean he loved her, then it could only mean he was dark, evil and wanted to finish destroying her as far as the girl was concerned. She actually wouldn't mind that, if it were the case. She would do anything to make him happy, even if he wanted to kill her slowly. She was his, and he'd figure it out sooner or later. She'd make sure of it.
Ginny tilted her head to the right this time, looking away from the door and instead now to the package she had received that morning from her mother. It had been delivered into her trunk by house elf delivery, or perhaps some sort of magic that Ginny honestly didn't care about. She knew you could summon items to you and send them to a recipient, but it was beyond her knowledge and she didn't care about the how, merely the what.
The Weasleys had always had food on the table and clothes on their backs. Magic had been a deciding factor in living at least comfortably by their third child, however, and was the answer to their every prayer in simply surviving after that. Their home was a patchwork amalgam built as needs required and was generally always a do-it-yourself job, which meant the home was actually less stable than it looked. Something few thought could be possible.
Harry Potter's friendship to Ron Weasley was actually a blessing in many ways for the Weasleys, much like Arthur and Molly's friendship and alliance with Albus Dumbledore. The latter allowed a rather silent agreement of some sort that Ginny never got the details to, but meant that scholarships to Hogwarts were heavily discounted. Albus paid a portion of their tuition for their assistance when needed, which was mostly part of the agreement for their joining his Order that helped with the children later on, which Albus hadn't expected to come along any more than the parents themselves.
The former, of course, meant that the Weasleys were very important with their association to Harry. For various reasons, Albus knew both that he couldn't leave Harry with the Dursleys an entire summer since the boy was far too likely to do a runner or get ideas he shouldn't have like looking for a different school or worse, as well as letting such a great opportunity to control Harry's growth pass him by, despite the attempts by Snape to the otherwise. It helped that the Weasleys played into his goals with Harry, though they weren't aware of them. Molly Weasley just rather enjoyed children, especially if she got to stuff them silly. The younger, the better, as far as she was concerned.
Still, they planned for every knut. The inclusion of another child was hard. To that end, Albus provided the stipend portions that were meant to always go to the Dursleys, or whoever his guardian would be, to them to help them out, though only while he was staying with them since the old man was taking the rest for his school tuition since his parents had never actually paid before their untimely demise and Harry not showing up just wouldn't do. In truth, that little bit of monthly stipend had been the only reason they managed to get all of the school supplies for Ginny's first year. Lockhart's books alone would have bankrupted them.
Ginny was aware of all of this in an abstract way. But it was all meaningless to her. Save for her current situation.
The package was back to its usual size on the ground in front of her, stuffed with new clothes, much to her delight. There were several skirts and blouses, ones that were shorter and more revealing than her mother would normally ever even consider, but still highly respectable. There were also a couple dresses and pajamas along with what she had always been told were knickers that only a scarlet woman would wear, which were still more conservative than the pretty things Ginny found in Hermione's underwear drawer. Still, Ginny felt what was in that drawer were 'woman' panties rather than 'little girl' panties. The sort of thing to look forward to, as far as Ginny was concerned.
Anything Mother Weasley was against was something to consider, as far as her only daughter was concerned. At least if it meant there was a better chance to snag Harry. Nothing was too much for her goals of getting him, save for anything that belonged to her future husband.
That was part of why she was thankful for the woman who gave birth to her. She had thought of everything to help out.
I know this comes from the out of the blue, but I thought I would make good my promise from over the last two summers. Enclosed are some of those pretty outfits we had been talking about and some new underthings to make you feel pretty without anyone needing to be aware.
I'm your mother, dear. I promised you I would do everything in my power to help you catch Harry's heart. Your father, of course, is against me helping you since he feels that all things will come in their own time. He's a good man, but rather simple. And he certainly believes the best in everyone. But he means well. Still, this means I can't be overt. But that isn't a bad thing. You certainly don't want to try too hard. You won't be the primary wife, it would seem, but you can still be his wife.
I've put a letter to Harry and his girls in here that you should find. Be a dear and give that to him if you would, please. The goal is to wear one of these new outfits and let him see what a lovely girl you are. Harry knows he can have multiple girls, obviously. Your job is just to make sure he knows you're available and that you're beginning to develop a bit more. Don't let anyone know, but I've enclosed a few vials of growth potions to give you a little burst of help in that regard, but it's only enough for a month. Try to spend time with him, some innocent comments and maybe very light flirting. You could possibly get better odds if you get Hermione or Luna to accept you, first. Luna's been your friend since you were toddlers. I know you haven't spent much time together in the last few years, but you could always revitalize that friendship.
Other than that, try to be helpful and you'll likely catch his eye. You're a beautiful girl and I'm sure it's only a matter of time. After all, he's the one who pushed so hard into paying for your mind healer. Despite what he said about there being a debt between the healer's family and his own, I'm sure he is paying for it out of his own pocket.
I love you, Ginny,
PS: Remember to eat your vegetables and don't forget to do your best with Healer Smythe! He's set up a meeting with your father and I to be at your treatment toward the end of the month at home. And remember to always wear clean underthings! If you get into an accident, you don't want to be caught out in a pair of dirty knickers!
The littlest redhead of the Weasley family was excited to have the package. When she opened it in that alcove, as she hadn't the time to look through it and follow the trio of lovers at the same time, she had immediately stripped off her pants and underwear to put on the best pair of 'womanly' knickers she could find in the box.
Her initial thought had been to change into an entirely new outfit and deliver the letter as soon as they left the disappearing room, but she didn't want them to know that she knew where they went or that she waited for them. That'd just be creepy if they knew. As long as they didn't, then there wasn't anything creepy about it.
The redhead's eyes shot upwards to watch and memorize as the door appeared on the wall and the Triad stepped out, once again looking satisfied, happy and glistening in what may or may not have been hot bath water. She watched silently as they seemed to use each other as crutches to walk to where Ginny knew they had a private room, though she wasn't firm on the details of exactly where the door was or how to get in, or even what was in the room. She always seemed to look away just before they disappeared, despite how much she focused.
Ginny felt a rare brief burst of emotion as she watched her master kissing his two lovers, for she was sure that they were since it didn't make sense to not give themselves fully to him in her eyes. It was a mix of jealousy, pride and longing. She wanted to be in their position on his arm and have him hold her. But, it wasn't to be. Not for now, anyway. The littlest Weasley contented herself with her fantasies as Harry stopped to look around.
'It's like he knows I'm here...,' Ginny thought with a grin. 'We're so connected, he can sense me. More proof we're meant to be together! You know I'm your future, Husband! All you need to do now is realize it and claim me as your future wife like them!'
"What is it?" Hermione asked, looking down the hall and seeing nothing out of the ordinary. She still readied her wand, though, while Luna tried to blow a strand of her wet hair out of her face. The blonde was much less worried.
"Just thought I felt something," Harry said, looking through narrowed eye. For an instant, there had been a glimmer of emotion, but now the hall felt empty once again, aside from him and his girls. 'I know I felt ... something...'