A Harry Potter fanfic by Andrew yclept Aelfwine
The characters and situations of the Harry Potter series are copyright J.K. Rowling. They may not be used or reproduced commercially without permission. The use of these characters and situations is not to be construed as challenge to said copyright. They are merely borrowed for this work of non-commercial fanfiction, from which the author derives no financial benefit.
First Year AU. Harry/Hermione/Fleur/Luna. No sexual activity yet, as they're too young, but heaps of romance.
This started out as an omake for Rorschach's Blot's fic Pet Compartment, but swiftly spiralled out of control.
Many thanks to Rorschach's Blot for the inspiration.
Hermione Granger had been idly rambling along the strand, enjoying the sea air and the bright early morning. She'd noticed an odd bit of metal lying out on the sand, and knelt down to pick it up. Perhaps it's a Roman coin, she'd thought, washed out from where it lay by the rain last night. A souvenir of the summer holidays would be a lovely thing to have at her new school, something to tuck in with the box of pipestems and potsherds and flints and fossils she'd been keeping since she was first able to walk about and stick things in her pockets. Perhaps it's even magical!
But, alas, the instant her fingers had closed on the little scrap of bronze she'd been pulled away somewhere else. It was as if some invisible hand had seized her below her navel and took her away. Confused thoughts of Star Trek transporters and the Tardis mingled in her mind with the old legends of faeries and the Wild Hunt and folk being swept that she'd read obsessively since first she could read and always secretly thought her Nan should have told her about.
And now here she was, in a grimy back room with cracked plaster walls, and a disreputable looking middle aged man was staring at her. He was bald on top, with thick off-brown whiskers that didn't quite compensate, and dressed in clothes that her grandfather would've called quaint and her great-grandfather would've called out of fashion. "So," he said, "a selkie. Hmm... bit scrawny, but I reckon she'll fetch a good price."
"Excuse me, sir," she said, "but I'm a human, not a selkie. And how did I get here?" Why did he think she was a seal person? Was he mad?
His eyes went wide. "So, you speak English. Hmm, that could add a few sickles to the price." So, he was a Wizard. In the back of her mind, she began to wonder. Could he be right? Was she part selkie? She'd always loved the sea, and always been a bit different. She forced herself to stop thinking about it.
"To what price?" she said. "I don't know what you intend, sir, but I am a subject of the United Kingdom. Even now, I'm sure, my parents will be looking for me. And if they don't find me, well, my dad's got friends at Scotland Yard. If you'll just take me to the nearest constable, I'll tell him it's only a misunderstanding. I'm sure you'll not get into any trouble."
"Misunderstanding? Girl, you picked up my selkie trap. That means you're a selkie."
"I'm sure there's some mistake. I'm a Muggleborn, and I only got my Hogwarts letter this year. I'm sorry if there's something I've not yet learnt. But none of my books said anything about not picking up a selkie trap. I'm very sorry if I've caused you any trouble, sir. I'm sure I can pay you back for anything that's damaged."
He laughed. "Silly little thing! You'd not have even seen that trap if you weren't a selkie, of at least three-quarters blood. Haman Harkness wasn't born yesterday, selkie girl. Stop trying to fool me. Now come along. I'm sure some nice gentleman will buy you in a day or two. Even if you are a bit young to be all that much... fun just yet."
If only she'd had her wand. Not that she knew what she'd do with it, but at least she might could do something. The man seized her by the wrist and pulled her along. She wished she'd at least been wearing something more than swimming costume and tshirt. Don't be silly, she told herself, at least you didn't take off all your clothes, as you were thinking about doing. Somehow she doubted this unpleasant man would give her anything to cover up with. Don't think about that. Think about how Professor McGonagall is going to show up and rescue you as soon as she hears there's one of her first year students in a pet shop. And how you'll explain it to your parents so they'll still let you go to Hogwarts School rather than taking you straightaway to Aunt Mildred in Australia and not letting you come back home til you're twenty-five and have your doctorate.
He led her out into a big room full of cages. There were rats and cats and owls and jackdaws and creatures she couldn't quite name. And one particularly large cage; in it was a blonde girl, slender and almost birdlike, dressed in a perfectly ordinary loose white skirt and blue blouse. She was a few years older than Hermione, perhaps thirteen or fourteen, and stunningly beautiful. Good heavens, Hermione thought, is slavery commonplace here in the Wizarding World? For the first time, she wondered about her decision to attend Hogwarts. Could this actually be legal? Would Professor McGonagall walk in, pet her through the bars, and say "Nice selkie. What a very clever wee creature you were, making me think you were a Witch." Would someone buy her for a pet? And what did people do with pet selkies?
Hermione thought of something, and pinched herself. Unfortunately, she didn't wake up in her own bed, sweating and resolving never to eat those funny sweets she'd got from the Wizarding shop before bedtime ever again.
The man opened the blonde girl's cage and shoved Hermione through. "All right, you two," he said, "don't fight, there's good pets. This is the only cage I've got that's big enough, so I'll have to leave you both in here for a while. Don't mess each other up, or you'll both regret it, you hear me?"
The girl responded with a burst of French, only a quarter of which Hermione could understand. What she could follow expanded her knowledge of French obscenity by at least an order of magnitude. The man laughed, locked the door of the cage, and walked out.
The girl glared, and Hermione felt her knees weaken. What if she thinks our being sold as pets is perfectly normal? What if she just doesn't like me, because... because she's beautiful and sexy and French and I'm not? For some reason the thought was heartbreaking in a way that made the thought of being sold as a pet to some creepy Wizard--or Witch--seem like almost nothing.
"Bonjour," Hermione said, holding out her hand. "Je suis Hermione Granger. Et... je pense que vous êtes vraiment belle." She couldn't believe she'd just said that. Her French was failing her. Or perhaps she was simply going mad.
The girl ignored her outstretched hand, embraced her and held her tight. "Ah, chère petite 'Ermione," she said, "il faut me tutoyer, chérie. It's so good to have a friend here at last. And one who speaks some French! I will teach you much more, my little one. I am Fleur, Fleur Delacour. And I promise you that when my Papa comes to rescue me we will not leave you here. I'll take you to France and you'll go to Beauxbatons with me. And no English pig will ever put either of us in a cage again. Did that barbarian kidnap you, as he did me?"
"Um, Fleur..." Hermione said, resisting the urge to snuggle closer to the French girl. She'd read some stories about girls in gaol doing naughty things with each other, after all. She wasn't quite sure she wanted to do naughty things with anyone, but she'd been pretty sure she'd rather do them with boys if and when she did do them. Of course, that was before she'd met Fleur, but it was important to try to hold on to one's principles. Or at least she'd always thought so. "I'm so very pleased to meet you. Do... do you mean this isn't legal?"
"Of course it is not legal, darling," Fleur said, stroking her hair. "Even in England, even with that pig Fudge and that sow Umbridge. We will get free, never fear. Just let Fleur take care of you..." They huddled in the corner on a pile of straw and fell asleep.
Hermione woke to the sound of footsteps, a heavy tread that shook the cage. She heard two voices, a boy's and a man's; the man had a West Country accent and laughed often as he talked about owls and jackdaws and hares and rats. She opened her eyes, realising that, one, the business with the coin and the cage and the beautiful French girl hadn't been a dream, and, two, there was a giant in the room. She hoped he wasn't shopping for his dinner.
But no, the huge man in the moleskin overcoat looked and sounded as honest and kind as a friendly countryman in a Famous Five novel. And the boy with him, although badly dressed, looked... very likeable, at least as boys went. He was about her age, with unruly black hair and green eyes behind thick glasses. And he had an odd scar on his forehead. There had been something about a boy and a scar, in one of her new books.
Fleur was still holding her. She liked that. "Mmm, ma petite 'Ermione," the girl murmured, her breath fluttering Hermione's hair. She supposed on some level she should be embarassed to have a boy staring at her while she lay there with another girl hugging her, but at this point she almost didn't care. At least there was comfort--but wait! What if he buys one of us? And only one?
The boy with the scar was supposed to be famous, she muzzily remembered--the giant was presumably an old family retainer. There was only one thing to do, she realised: convince him to buy both of them. He probably had the money, even if his clothes were rubbish... you never could tell what clothes meant with Wizards, anyhow. Especially Muggle clothes. She'd seen an old man dressed in a paisley lavalava, a Jethro Tull tshirt, and blue sandals with pink socks just the other day, walking down the street with an owl on his shoulder. He'd tipped his pointy hat to her, and she'd known she was the only person in the street who could see him. Would have tipped his hat to her if he'd known she was only a selkie and not really a bright little Muggleborn Witch just before leaving for Hogwarts?
"Hagrid," the boy said, "look!"
"Hmm, I ent never seen critters quite like them twain afore," the giant said. "Right pretty... Yeh like 'em, 'Arry?"
"Yes," he said brightly. "But... there's two of them. And the letter said I could only have an owl or a cat or a toad..." His face fell.
"Don't yeh worry yer 'ead, lad. I'll get 'em both for yeh."
"But we're not pets," Hermione found herself saying. "I'm Hermione Granger, and this is Fleur Delacour. And--" Fleur covered her mouth, very gently
"Follow my lead, chérie," she whispered, sitting up. Louder, and exaggerating her accent, she said "Ah, most noble 'Arry, eet would be a pleasure for 'Ermione and me to be your pets. A--'ow you say?--very great pleasure indeed."
"Are you sure, Hagrid? They must be terribly expensive." Harry said quietly.
"Course I'm sure. They're a pair, 'Arry. Ent right ter separate a pair of--" he paused to read the sign on their cage, his lips moving slightly-- "well, a Veela an' a Selkie girl that likes each other. Besides... well, yeh'll unnerstan when yer a bit older, like." The big man reddened slightly. "It's a mort of yer birthdays I've missed. Don't 'ave much else ter spend money on, besides. An' yer Dad would want yeh ter have 'em, wouldn't he ever?"
"I'll call you Hedwig and... Aelgifu?" Harry said brightly.
"Fleur," Fleur said. "And 'Ermione."
"Are you sure?"
"You know anyt'ing about nous les Vélanes, we the Veelas, 'Arry? I do 'ave claws," Fleur said menacingly. She spoilt the effect by giggling. Hermione didn't quite understand that, but... I trust her. Besides... I don't think she really wants to frighten him. She was only teasing him. Why? Oh. He was only teasing us. Something inside her felt very funny, realising that. Boys had "teased" her by saying rude things about her books and her hair and horrible things about what they supposedly wanted to do to her or thought she did to her friends or to Miss Marple the English mistress. But Harry was teasing her and Fleur as if they were friends.
Harry laughed. "Okay. Fleur and Ermione it is."
"Hermione, please," Hermione said softly.
"All right. Hermione you are. It's nice to meet you, Hermione." Their eyes met, and for the second time in less than twenty four hours Hermione felt something warm in her belly, something that made her knees weak. It was if she were sinking into what was either the best dream or the worst nightmare she'd ever had in all her life, except for the fact that this was real. It had to be. After all, pinching herself hadn't worked.
"It's nice to meet you, Harry," she said. Then, surprising herself, she grinned and added "Or should I say 'Master'?"
He sputtered. "Umm, only if you want to." His voice dropped to a whisper. "I've always thought it was wrong to keep people as pets. I mean, I grew up as a Muggle and I never even really thought you could. But I suppose things must work that way, here in the Wizarding world. And if you're mine... well, I can make sure that you're safe and happy and nobody's ever mean to you. I promise I'll take good care of both of you. If there's ever anything you want, tell me. And if I ever do anything to hurt you, tell me. I'll make it better, I promise."
She didn't know what to say. Part of her wanted to beg him to take her out to the Muggle world and let her go back home to her parents. Part of her wanted to beg him to run away with her and Fleur and leave this mad place behind, to run away to France or somewhere else where they could learn magic and be friends and never think about cages again. And part of her, terrifyingly enough, wanted to curl up in Harry's lap like a cat and be the very best pet she could be. I'm sure he'd let me have books, and Fleur could teach us both French... "Okay," she said at last, hoping the two syllables could somehow stand for everything she wanted to say.
"T'ank you, 'Arry," Fleur said. "I t'ink we can be..."
"Friends?" he said.
"At the very least," Fleur said. Harry slipped his hand between the bars, and the three of them gripped hands for an instant. Then Hagrid was back, with that awful Haman Harkness and his big ring of keys. Hagrid laughed with Harkness as if they were friends, but, as Hermione couldn't help but notice, his laugh didn't sound the same as it had sounded when he was talking with Harry. It was a bit louder, a bit sharper. I don't think he actually likes him very much, she thought.
It felt unpleasant to have a collar put round her neck, complete with a leash and a little dangling tag that said "Please Return to Harry James Potter," but at least she was with Fleur. And Harry truly did seem very nice, despite being someone who'd just been given two girls as pets by an old family friend. He didn't tug at their leashes, for one thing. "I don't really like this," he said as they followed Hagrid towards the Leaky Cauldron, "but they said I had to. Said I couldn't just let my pets run loose and all that. If you'll promise not to run away, I'll let you off the leashes as soon as we're out in Muggle London again."
"Of course we'll not run away from our 'andsome Maître 'Arry," Fleur said, stroking his forearm.
"You can even have the collars off, if you like," Harry said, blushing. "Although... they do look sort of nice on you. On both of you."
Part of Hermione wanted to hit him. The other part wanted to kiss him. He thinks something looks nice on me! She'd never thought a boy would notice her before she went up to Oxford, and perhaps not even then.
At least the people in the street didn't gawk at them. Harry kept his head low and brushed his fringe down over his scar. Hermione didn't know if she should be grateful that they didn't stare, or disgusted that Wizards and Witches apparently thought it was perfectly normal for a boy to be walking along with two girls on leashes. Although perhaps it was simply that Wizards and Witches--these ones, at least--didn't attend to anything at all that didn't concern them. The number of people who were talking to either disembodied spirits or the empty air tended to favour the latter hypothesis.
One girl, perhaps a bit younger than herself, did attend. "Daddy, look! It's Harry Potter, and he's got two girls for pets! Quickly, please, sell me to him!" She bounced up and down, her waist-long blonde hair flying, her radish earrings jingling.
"Now, Luna, really," he said. He was a tall slender man with longish disordered grey hair, who looked as if he should be the girl's grandfather, not her father.
"But... your business is failing! You don't know how you'll feed me! I'll only cost a Sickle, and I'll be a very very good little pet."
"The Quibbler's running at a profit, Luna, and Mr. Weasley's Secrets of the Muggles books alone are enough to keep Llanfair Press in business. I promised your mother I'd never sell you into slavery."
"You'd not be selling me as a slave, Daddy. You'd be selling me as a pet. It's not the same thing at all."
"Oh, all right," he said, and walked over to them. "Excuse me, Mr. Potter?"
"Harry, please," Harry mumbled.
"My daughter wants me to sell her to you as a pet. Since you're already keeping two girls, I expect you'll not mind a third?"
"Umm, well... Fleur?"
"Of course, 'Arry. Buy ze pretty leetle English girl."
"Fleur?" Hermione squeaked.
"Trust me," Fleur mouthed. "But of course, 'Ermione," she said aloud. "Four sleep--'ow you say?--warmer zan t'ree, non?"
"Please?" said the blonde girl. "I'll be ever so good. To all of you. And especially you, Airmionee. I've always dreamt of making friends with a selkie."
"Hermione, please," Hermione said.
"Huzzah! Hermione says yes!" she said. "I'm Luna, and we're going to be friends! More than friends, we're going to be... pet-sisters!" Luna hugged her, hard. She was kind of cuddly. Almost as cuddly as Fleur.
"Please, Harry?" said Luna's father. "I'm afraid she's going to be quite unbearable if we leave here and she's not become your pet. She's only five Knuts."
"Daddy! Surely I'm worth a Sickle?"
"Luna, my little radish, let's not be too greedy."
"Okay. I'm only five Knuts, Harry. Please buy me. Please? Hermione and Fleur said yes, after all." Hermione hadn't really said yes, actually, but somehow the thought of denying this funny blonde girl anything was almost unbearable.
"Right," Harry reached into his pocket and took out five Knuts. "There you are, Mr..."
"Lovegood, Harry. Xenophilus Lovegood. Your parents were good friends of my late wife's and mine. I'm sure they'd be delighted to know that you're keeping my daughter as a pet. A pleasure doing business with you, Harry."
"Thank you, Mr. Lovegood."
"Thank you, Harry. Goodbye, Luna."
"Goodbye, Daddy. Do you have a collar and leash for me, Harry?"
"Umm, no. Sorry."
"Oh, that's fine," Luna said. "I've got one right here," she fished in her pocket and brought out a brown leather collar and leash. "It's even got your name on it, as I've always known I'd be Harry Potter's pet someday." She buckled it round her neck.
"There's a strong strain of Seership in my family," Mr. Lovegood was saying to Hagrid.
"Right," Hagrid said. "Ent Madam Trelawny at 'Ogwarts one of your cousins, Xeno?"
"That she is," Mr. Lovegood said. "A terrible shame, what happened to our Sybill. She's never been the same since--"
But Hermione never got to find out what had happened to Mr. Lovegood's cousin, because she turned to Luna and saw that the girl was nuzzling Harry's face. Her eyes were closed and she looked completely content; his eyes were wide open and he looked as if he wasn't sure if he were delighted or terrified. That looks like fun--wait, is she actually licking his cheek? "Luna, stop that!" she said.
"Licking Harry's face out here in the street."
"I'm taking our master's scent, Hermione. It's important to do things like that, if we're to be good pets."
"Not in public, please?"
"We're pets, Hermione. Pets obey the rules of love and affection, not the silly conventional rules of social discourse." Hermione was simultaneously appalled and delighted. Somebody my age who knows words like "social discourse." I love her! Even if she is mad as a hatter.
"Pets like us do, Luna," Fleur said gently, hugging the girl. "It makes Maître 'Arry all nervous if we don't."
"Oh, all right, then," Luna said. "I'll be good. Even if 'being good' means being a bad pet and not licking my master's face. And I suppose, lovely pet-sister Fleur, you're telling me that, even though I'm a pet and shouldn't wear any, I mustn't take off my clothes?" Harry's eyes probably couldn't get any wider. It was cute, actually. Will I ever be able to make him look that way?
Luna sighed and nuzzled Fleur's shoulder. "Well, I've got two lovely pet-sisters and a wonderful master. That's worth breaking a few rules. And, speaking of rules, here's my leash, Master." She handed the end to Harry. "You mustn't allow a fierce wild creature like me to run loose. Especially when you've only barely had any time to tame me properly." She fluttered her eyelashes alarmingly.
Luna wasn't pleased when they left the Leaky Cauldron and Harry took off her leash. "I'm a wild ferocious Luna," she said. "You can't let me run about loose, Master."
"Call me Harry, please?"
"If I must, Master Harry," Luna said, and latched onto his arm. "Since you'll not leash me, the least you can do is hold my hand."
Hagrid guffawed. "Good luck there, 'Arry. I reckon yeh'll need it. Come along, now, I'd best send yeh home. Wouldn't want yer old nuncle and auntie to worry 'bout yeh, right?"
"I'm sure the only thing they're worrying about is whether they'll have to take me back," Harry said. Hagrid took no notice, and led their little party to the nearest Underground stop, where he promptly left them, saying something about needing another pint.
"Fleur," Hermione said softly in her best French, "should we run now?"
"No, chérie," Fleur said. "Do you not feel it? Our 'Arry is a good man... well, boy, for the moment. There is a destiny on him."
"Okay," Hermione said. Harry was looking at them, and very politely not asking anything. "We were just talking about going home, Harry. Where do you live?"
"I live in Surrey," he said. "In Little Whinging. But... I don't want to take you back there. You're all so nice. I've never been allowed pets before. And Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia will probably make me let Dudley play with you. I can't..."
Hermione didn't know why, but the name "Dudley" seemed as dreadful as "Dracula" or "Thatcher" when Harry said it. She was tempted to ring her parents and take everyone home to Oxford. But would her parents let them stay? "Mummy, Daddy, they followed me home. Could I keep them, please?" is bad enough. "Mum, Dad, I was put in a cage with Fleur, and then Harry's parents' friend bought us as a present for him, and then he bought Luna for a few p in the street. Could they all stay with me, please?" is beyond the pale. They'd have me on Aunt Mildred's sheep station before I could blink. And probably alone, worse luck. She'd been alone more often than not in her life, and never minded it. But, somehow, life without Fleur, Harry, and Luna had already become a fate to be avoided at all costs.
"How much money 'ave you, 'Arry?" Fleur said.
"Ten quid, fifty p," he said. "And four galleons, five sickles, and one knut."
"Do you trust me?" Fleur said.
"Of course," he said. "You're my pet."
"The sad thing," she whispered in her own language, "is that you're right on all counts." Louder, she said "Give me the galleons, 'Arry, if you please. We're going to France. All of us."
"Could we go to the beach?" Luna asked.
"Not one of zat sort," Fleur said.
"When we are a little older, perhaps."
"Do you know what they're talking about?" Harry whispered to Hermione.
She blushed, and decided to lie. "No."
"We must find a bureau d'échange," Fleur said.
"We passed one on the way from the Cauldron," Hermione said.
"Merci. All right, my sweets, follow me." Perhaps Wizards and Witches weren't that much worse about paying no attention to their surroundings than Muggles, Hermione realised. One might think that their group would draw a second glance or two. She hoped it wasn't actually commonplace for a stunning blonde teenager, a barefoot brunette girl, a boy dressed in the cast-offs of somebody twice his size, and another blonde in something like a Hawaiian-print school uniform with a lavender blouse to walk through the streets of London. Particularly when the younger blonde was wearing a dog collar, wouldn't let go of the boy's hand, and kept pointing out the invisible creatures that apparently lived in bits of the architecture.
"Now that's an Urban Nargle," Luna said. "Their wild cousins live in mistletoe, but these are adapted to life in the light-up signs of chip shops. And over there, if we went looking, we could probably find a whole colony of Curry-coloured Chip Dabblers. They're the reason why you should never eat chips with curry sauce. If you eat one of them by accident, toads will hate you for the rest of the year."
"Oh," Harry said.
"And right there," Luna said, "is the bureau d'échange we're looking for. But I think that, if we continue on and turn down the next street, we'll find another who'll give us a much better rate for our galleons."
"Truly?" Fleur said.
"Yes. Don't you trust me, big pet-sister?"
It was a long moment before Fleur spoke. "Of course I do. But would you please not call me that in public, darling Luna?"
"Oh, all right."
Fleur did something as she walked through the door. Hermione didn't quite know what it was, but she felt it in her gut and... elsewhere. Harry shifted awkwardly beside her. Luna glowed, as if Fleur's light were reflecting off her. "Excusez-moi, Monsieur," she said, holding up a galleon coin, "but what rate would you geeve me for zis?"
The man's eyes were wide. "Izzat gold, love?"
"I suppose it must be, Monsieur. I am only a poor leetle lost French girl, you know."
The man pinched himself. "Let us have a look, love."
"But of course," she let her fingers brush his as she handed him the coin.
"Too young, damnit," he mumbled; Hermione expected they weren't meant to hear. "I reckon it is, love," he said more loudly. "Of course, you understand I ent set up to 'andle this kind of thing normal-like, right?" Sweat trickled down his face, as it were a much hotter day than it was.
"I am only a poor leetle girl who badly needs money, Monsieur. Please, won't you 'elp me?"
"I can give you a 'unnert-fifty quid for it, love. I reckon that's fair."
"Eef you say so, kind Monsieur. I 'ave t'ree more just like eet."
He took the four coins and counted the six hundred-pound notes out into her hand. "A pleasure doing business with you, Maydemoysell. You ever need to 'change any coins like that again, you remember Sam Gruntleigh, right?"
"I certainly weel, Monsieur Gruntleigh. Merci beaucoup!" she said, turning gracefully on her heel. "Come along, my friends." They followed her out the door.
In Albus Dumbledore's office at Hogwarts, a number of small devices of metal and wood and crystal deviated from their calm oscillations and began gyrating in a most alarming manner. One other, which had been spinning sideways since the early morning, settled into a new and different pattern.
Unfortunately, the Headmaster himself had been far away since well before dawn, enjoying a day-long solitary picnic in the Lake District with his zither, a first edition of Wordsworth, a photograph of his dear old friend Gellert, and a bottle of single malt whisky.
Elsewhere in Hogwarts, Hagrid stepped from the Floo and brushed off his clothes. "Good afternoon, Minerva," he said cheerfully.
"Good afternoon, Hagrid," she said. "So, young Mister Potter is all settled?"
"I reckon so," he said. "I sent him off to his fam'ly with some new friends, and I reckon they seemed right happy."
"Oh?" Minerva stiffened slightly. Knowing Hagrid, it was always possible that he'd let Harry swear blood-brotherhood with a pair of young goblin warriors or marry a trio of werewolf sisters.
"Well," Hagrid said, "I hope yeh don' mind too much, Minerva, but that blackguard Haman Harkness 'ad these two lovely girls settin' there in a cage. A Veela an' a Selkie, they was. An... well, if I called the Aurors on him there'd just be ten kinds of bother, an' maybe they'd not even actually take Harkness in, an' maybe it'd be weeks afore them poor girls got free, knowin' how the Ministry feels about int'restin' folk... and 'Arry seemed to like 'em, an' they him. So I bought them for him, an' sent 'em all home together."
"Good God, Hagrid. Isn't that slavery, or the next thing to it?"
"Well, 'Arry's a good lad. 'E seemed ter unnerstan' it weren't right to treat 'em like they wasn't people or something. An'... well, t' boy seems ter need friends. The Veela girl seemed ter know what I was doing. I reckon she'll tell 'im what's what whilst they're ridin' the train back ter Surrey."
"And how will Harry's uncle and aunt react when he shows up with two girls?"
"Beggin' yer pardon, Minerva, but it's three. Xeno Lovegood an' 'is little girl showed up when we was walking back ter the Cauldron, an' yeh know how 'tis when a Lovegood gets somethin' in 'er mind."
Minerva nodded, remembering Selene Lovegood insisting that her fifth cousin Xenophilus Sprat had won her in a card game and as a result she had to sleep in his bed and, for some complicated reason that no one else understood, he had to take her surname. That had been their Third Year; eventually Ravenclaw's Head had given in and let them share one of the old married students' rooms.
"Well," Minerva said, "I doubt those Muggles will be any too pleased about that. But first, I'm afraid, we'd better deal with Harkness."
"I reckon you're right, Minerva," Hagrid said. "'Arry's family wasn't over-friendly ter me, but nobody that likes takin' their holidays out on a pretty little island could be all bad. An' how could anybody be mean ter a cute little Lovegood?"
Privately, Minerva wondered about that. But the girls would be safe enough with Harry; it wasn't as if his family were axe murderers, after all. At the moment, it was more important to make sure that Haman Harkness didn't kidnap any more innocent magical sentients. And perhaps, she thought vindictively, we'll have a chance to hang him higher than his namesake.
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