Disclaimer: Not mine. Anything that's recognizable belongs to JKR and those she has blessed with millions of Dollars, Pounds, Euros, Rupees, Rubles, Lira, Marks, Pesos, Yen (well, you get the idea) from her efforts.
A/N: I was starting to read a perfectly good harem fic when this rabid little bunny came jumping in and wouldn't leave well enough alone. What was really frustrating is that the idea had absolutely nothing in common with what I was reading (think apples and freight trains). Thanks must be given to Herman Tumbleweed for all his help in making this readable and canoncansodoff for ideas to help develop it further.
A/N 2: Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to read and review. I apologise for the time it's been since the last update. Real Life has been, uhm, inconvenient at best and my muse has taken to popping off to the pub (one in Tahiti, think) every chance she gets. Lucky bitch. I have found it rather gratifying that so many people have contacted me to bitch, uh, er, encourage me to update.
"Ah, yes, my favourite day of the school year," thought Albus Dumbledore as he relaxed in his golden chair while watching the students file into the Great Hall for the Welcoming Feast. "All these young minds to mould into proper young wizards and witches." His eyes scanned the large room, occasionally stopping and twinkling as he spotted the various students he had plans for.
When the flow of bodies into the room slowed, he rose to his feet and waited for the last few students to find their seats. As he began to give his customary welcome to the staff and students, he noticed amongst the stragglers, a handsome, raven-haired young man arm-in-arm with a beautiful, bushy-haired brunette as they seated themselves at the far end of the Gryffindor table. A white owl flew from his shoulder to perch in the rafters, nearly clipping the old man's head as it flew by.
A look of rage crossed his face for a brief moment before he composed himself and addressed the crowd. "Welcome to another year at Hogwarts," he announced. "Professor McGonagall, would you be so kind as to bring in the First Years and begin the Sorting?" As his Deputy Headmistress complied, Dumbledore reclaimed his seat, seething, with only one thought on his mind as the Sorting progressed.
"How the hell did he get out of that damned house?"
"... now, off to your dorms as the new term starts early."
With a groan, Harry sat back from the feast and leaned against Hermione, whispering, "After that meal, I don't think Ciarán would be able to get off the ground."
Giggling softly, his mate replied in a sultry voice, "Oh, I don't know; I'm sure Rati and Hed could give him some incentive." Gesturing up the table with a nod of her head, she continued, "Good thing that Ron doesn't have that problem. He's still going strong."
Looking in the direction indicated, Harry saw the red-head in question still shovelling food in his face as the students began to head to their various houses. "How the hell..." Harry's musing was interrupted by the approach of his Magical Guardian.
"Harry, the Headmaster would like to see you in his office," Minerva blandly stated with a grimace.
Sighing, the young wizard commented, "Well, that didn't take long, did it? Did he say what he wanted?"
"No, lad, he didn't. Would you like me to join you?"
Harry thought for a moment. "If you did, we'd pretty much have to tell him who my guardian is. Are we ready to do that, yet?"
Hermione countered, "You may have to, anyway. There's no telling what he may try." Her eyes unfocussed as she thought for a moment. "You know, I think that Rati just might fancy a flight to help burn off some of this feast," she said as a nasty grin began to spread across her face. "And if she happens to be near the Headmaster's window... well, she'd probably be able to at least go for help, if necessary."
Harry and Minerva exchanged grins of their own. "Well, guess I should get this over with," Harry grumbled.
The Dark Lord Voldemort sat in the throne room that had been set up for him in the dungeons of Malfoy Manor drumming his long fingers against the arm of his grand chair, lost in thought. Suddenly, his glowing red eyes fixed on one of his minor Death Eaters. Swiftly drawing his wand, he pointed it at the black-cloaked and hooded wizard and incanted, "Crucio." He held the torture curse for nearly a full minute before releasing his minion from its effects. He repeated this with two more of his followers before relaxing.
"Lucius," the snake-faced wizard hissed, "why do I seem to be surrounded with incompetents? I set very simple tasks for my followers and anything that is more complicated than 'rape, pillage, and plunder' seems to meet with failure." He glared at the tall, blonde aristocrat. "I'm not certain why I even bothered to liberate any of you from Azkaban."
"M-my Lord," the frightened senior Death Eater stuttered, "I-I swear..."
Voldemort tiredly raised a pale hand, stopping the justifications that were about to spew from the other wizard's mouth. "I really don't expect an intelligent answer. What I expect is success."
The wizard formerly known as Tom Riddle sighed deeply, and continued in a cold, sibilant whisper that was, nonetheless, heard throughout the vast room, "I find myself... disappointed in the members of my ancestor's House. If the great Salazar Slytherin only knew..." He raised his voice so as to be assured that all of the assembled could hear his every word, "But, no matter. I trust there will be success in all of our future endeavours." He rose from the chair and drew himself up to his full height. "You are all Purebloods! The best of the best! All of your failures simply demonstrate that you are the inbred idiots that the Mudbloods and Blood Traitors claim!"
Ignoring the shock and murmurs from the assembled, the enraged dark wizard concluded with disdain in his voice, "If necessary, I will kill you all and wait a generation or two and start again. I have already conquered Death, and if I must wait a bit longer to achieve my goals, so be it. I would, however, prefer to get the Wizarding World back on track before then – before it is contaminated any more than it already is."
Voldemort drew a calming breath and slowly re-took his seat. After taking a few moments to keep himself from simply killing all his Death Eaters, he looked down at the owner of the manor he resided in, who was grovelling at his feet. "Now, Lucius, have my instructions been passed on to the children of my loyal followers?"
"Y-yes, my Lord."
"And what of your own son, Lucius; has it been impressed upon him that my displeasure will be... extreme... should he decide to take matters into his own hands and disturb things... again?"
"Y-yes, my Lord."
"Very well, see to it that he comports himself as a proper Slytherin." The Dark Lord looked out at the assembled mass of cloaked and masked Death Eaters. "Wormtail, stay. The rest of you; be gone. Carry out your assignments and no more failures! Oh, and Lucius..?"
"Yes, my Lord?"
Releasing Lucius from the pain curse after a few moments, Voldemort closed his eyes as the room rapidly cleared. "Fools," he thought. "I'm beginning to think I should have started a Mudblood revolt; or a Half-blood one anyway. Perhaps these Purebloods actually are too inbred to be of any use to me. Ah well, this is their last chance. If they fuck up again, they're gone. I'll just wait a few decades, and then try to find some competent followers. I don't give a shit about the politics, anyway. It's all about the power."
Satisfied with his decision, he addressed the portly wizard who was still prostrating himself before his master, "Rise, Wormtail."
As the Rat Animagus hastily complied, an uncharacteristic chuckle slipped from the Dark Lord. "It amazes me, Wormtail, that you seem to be the most capable of my people."
"Th-th-thank-you, m-master," Pettigrew fawned, while trying to hide his pride in his Master's compliment.
"Don't get so excited. It doesn't really say very much," admonished the Dark Lord mildly, though he was slightly amused. "Now, Wormtail, I may need your... extra skills very soon. I'm finding myself... concerned... about the behaviour of the current class of Slytherins; especially young Draco. It may be necessary for you to infiltrate Hogwarts and check on them for me from time to time."
Voldemort paused for a moment at an errant thought. "I'm curious. What do you think of the young Snakes? Compare them to the Slytherins from your time at Hogwarts." Seeing the nervousness of his pasty-faced minion, Riddle reassured the cowardly man before him, "I want an honest evaluation, Wormtail. The only wrong answer would be if you lied to me."
"I-I didn't know v-very many, Master. I'd say that Severus was p-pretty typical, though." Pettigrew frowned as he thought for a moment, "I'm afraid, from what I've seen, that Draco, though h-he's much more a-arrogant than most... well, he's pretty typical as far as his attitude and abilities go."
Voldemort steepled his fingers as he carefully considered Peter's words. "Thank you, Wormtail. You've given me much to consider and have earned a reward. You may take one of the younger female captives for yourself for the night. Now go."
Shocked beyond belief at the evil wizard's actions and generosity, he stammered his gratitude and left his Master's presence as fast as his stubby legs would take him, remembering a particularly fetching redhead he'd seen Nott bring in that morning.
"Yes, indeed, Wormtail. You have given me much to consider..."
Dumbledore smiled widely as Harry and Minerva entered his office. "Thank you for coming, Harry," the old man commented before turning to his deputy. "And thank you, Minerva, for bringing him. That will be all." His dismissal was plain.
"Albus, I think that..."
"I said, that will be all, Professor."
Catching a surreptitious nod from her ward out of the corner of her eye, the irritated Scotswoman glared at her superior before stalking off with a huff.
Sitting back with a satisfied look on his hairy face, the old manipulator addressed his student with a faint smirk. "Well, Harry, I can't tell you how relieved I am to see you here."
"Why is that, Headmaster?" Harry responded with a feigned look of innocent confusion on his face.
Remus fell onto his back in the scraggly grass of Black Manor's front garden, drained and frustrated. He'd been searching the property all day for the anchor that was keeping the entrapment spell active. "Gah, I give up for tonight," the werewolf thought resignedly. "I think dinner and a hot soak is in order." With this promising new thought in mind, he stretched out each of his limbs, one at a time, before tiredly rolling over. As he prepared to lever himself to his feet, he once again caught a whiff of blood. Creeping forward slowly on his stomach so as to not lose the scent, he soon came to the edge of the grass just a few inches outside the enchantment field. All thoughts of a hot bath disappeared as he carefully and systematically probed the edge of the grass directly across from the square.
Suddenly, he felt a small bump in the rough turf at the very edge of the street; the blood-smell somewhat obscured by the odour of old asphalt. Scrabbling at the dirt, Moony removed a small stone which was caked with a sticky, reddish-brown substance. "Well, well," he thought while dragging himself to a sitting position back inside the Anti-Muggle Charms, "what do we have here?" He waved his wand in an intricate pattern over the stone, analysing it thoroughly.
At one time, the lycan would have been shocked at the dark magic that had been used to create the anchor-stone, but the past few weeks had been very enlightening. He set down the cursed object, which had Egyptian runes inscribed on it, and laid back in the grass, considering what he'd found.
"My, my, Albus, you are getting desperate, aren't you?" he thought in amusement. "But what to do... what to do..."
"I had heard from several members of the Order that there was a problem with the enchantments around Headquarters. It seems that no one has been able to access the property for the last couple of weeks. We were afraid that you and Miss Granger were trapped inside."
"We had no problems at all, Headmaster, Harry replied with an open and honest expression on his face. We got our supplies in Diagon Alley, as usual, and had dinner in Muggle London a couple of times. We even went sight-seeing some nights." Harry sighed, "As far as the Order goes, well... I was tired of the way I was being treated in my own home."
"About that, Harry; I must insist you remove those restrictions and allow the Order to use it as their headquarters again."
"No, sir, I don't think I will."
Dumbledore's frustration grew as he snapped back in annoyance, "You will and you'll do it now, young man. I've had enough of your behaviour this summer and you will do as you are told. Not only that, you will explain, exactly, how you got out of that house."
After relaxing a bit, and collecting his thoughts, the former Defence Professor sat back up and stared again at the bit of darkness in front of him. "Well, I suppose I could just vanish it and let the charm dissipate on its own, but Harry -- not to mention James and Sirius -- would probably be disappointed with me. I think this requires a more Marauder-worthy approach."
Picking up the stone, he stood with an achy groan and went to the middle of the front garden, carefully setting it down in the grass. Drawing his wand, he executed an elaborate series of swishes and flicks while chanting an ancient Sumerian incantation Bill Weasley would be astonished to learn that the werewolf knew. As he completed the long incantation, Remus threw himself to the ground away from the stone which was radiating a sickly crimson glow. A loud explosion shook the House's enchantments as it became a pile of fine ash, which was swept away in the gentle, late evening breeze.
"Well, Headmaster, we just walked out the front door," Harry answered in a Slytherin manner. "As far as the Order goes, I really don't want them there and you don't have the authority to make me."
"On the contrary, Harry, as your Magical Guardian, I do," Dumbledore insisted, the twinkle having long left his eyes.
"But you're not my Guardian, sir."
"Harry, enough with this! I'm tired of your lies. There is no record of a new guardian being assigned to you, therefore I am still..." Dumbledore's angry rant abruptly stopped as a bright red glow surrounded him while his wrinkled face contorted in agony. All of a sudden, the glow was abruptly sucked into his body at the same time as a piercing cry escaped his lips. Rati flew in the open window, watching as the old wizard fell face first onto his desk, unconscious, before she flashed away.
Moments later, Minerva and Hermione came rushing into the office. "What happened, Harry?" Minerva asked, concern etched into her features.
A puzzled Harry answered thoughtfully, "I really don't know, Minerva. He was going on about my guardianship, then a light surrounded him and he screamed and collapsed." Cocking his head to one side, he added with a cheeky grin, "I guess our meeting's over, then."
Shaking her head and suppressing a chuckle, the Deputy Headmistress sent them off to Gryffindor Tower while she went to the Floo to call for Madam Pomfrey.
Harry and Hermione were walking hand-in-hand back to the tower when the dusky angel stopped and dragged Harry into an empty classroom. Transforming into Rati, she grabbed Harry and flashed them to the Owlery.
"We need to talk to Hed about this," Rati trilled softly. Understanding, Ciarán appeared just as Hedwig approached. Together, the three mates quickly flew towards the Forbidden Forest.
Finding a clearing well away from Hagrid's hut, they all landed near a small pond and transformed back to their human forms. After sharing some necessary mutual affection, the trio of Animagi cuddled together against a fallen log, ready to discuss the evening's events.
Hedwig and Rati had been out flying together as they monitored the situation in the Headmaster's office when, out of the blue, Rati had dived through the Headmaster's window, leaving Hedwig to worry about her mates' safety. Scant minutes later, the Snowy Owl had had a feeling that she needed to return to the Owlery, and had arrived just in time to see Harry transform into Ciarán. But now, her patience was wearing thin. "So, what the hell happened in there?"
"I'd like to know as well. I only caught the aftermath," Hermione added.
Holding his angels tightly against himself, Harry pondered a moment before he began. "I... I don't really know. He was whinging about being locked out of the house, and wanted to know how I'd gotten out, as we expected." A shamelessly evil smirk formed on his face. "Needless to say, he wasn't too happy about my answers." The girls also smirked as they each kissed a cheek and nibbled an ear.
"Anyway," he continued, more seriously this time," he started his usual 'I'm your Guardian so you'll bend over and take it without Vaseline' bullshite when he just... stopped. I really don't know why. There was this feeling of pressure in the room, and a dark red light kind of... flew into him. Then he screamed and passed out."
Hermione nodded darkly. "I felt a build-up of dark magic in there, and that's why I flew in." The memory caused the girl to shiver and she drew herself closer to her wizard, as she added softly, "It was horrible. That magic made me feel so – so dirty..."
A flash of fire signalled Fawkes' arrival. Trilling happily, he glided to the threesome as Hermione transformed. Nyta and Harry were treated to a relaxing phoenix concert as Fawkes obviously had much to tell Rati.
Hermione reappeared with the dreamy look on her face that usually followed an extended conversation with the red and gold phoenix, as the elder phoenix flashed away. Although curious, Harry and Nyta took the time to snog her back to coherent human thought.
Minerva watched as Poppy Pomfrey carefully levitated the headmaster out of his office and down to the Hospital Wing. The school's matron had said that Albus was suffering from some sort of magical overload, as if a spell had failed or had suddenly gone wrong. The elderly witch would have to ask Harry if it was anything that he had done. Shaking herself from her musings, she left the office in pursuit, activating Albus' locking charms behind her, not noticing that Fawkes had disappeared after Poppy's examination.
After Harry and Nyta had successfully distracted their lover from the after-effects of her conversation with Fawkes (which resulted in them being only partially clothed and quite mellow), the Gryffindor witch sat up suddenly and exclaimed in alarm, "Now! I gotta go now! It's the perfect time!"
Eyes locking together in confusion, the Owl Animagi grabbed their mate to stop her before they lost their chance for an explanation. "What are you talking about, love?" Harry asked gently.
Collecting herself, Hermione turned to the other two and explained in a rush, "Dumbledore's journal. You know; the one that Fawkes said that we needed. He's in the Hospital Wing from whatever happened and this is our best chance to get it. From what Fawkes said, Dumbles was writing in it just before Harry arrived and didn't get a chance to replace all of the protections on it. He told me exactly how to get it and copy it without the old fart knowing, but if I don't go now, who knows when we'll get another chance."
Harry and Nyta shared a puzzled look, trying to parse Hermione's rapid-fire explanation. The mixed expressions of determination and pleading on her face settled the matter, though, as they realized that they'd have to wait for a better explanation. Taking her into a quick, loving embrace, Nyta said, "Go, but be careful. We'll meet you in the Owlery."
After a quick kiss for each of her lovers, Rati appeared and immediately flashed away.
Chuckling together, Nyta stood and drew Harry to his feet and took him into a loose embrace. "You know," the fair angel purred, "Rati might be a while and there are lots of perches in the Owlery..." Harry gulped as she added quietly and lustily, "Let's go make some hens jealous."
Rati appeared in the Headmaster's office in the customary flash of fire. After a reassuring note from Fawkes, the young phoenix resumed her human form and looked around the cluttered, circular office. Spotting what she was looking for, the witch glanced at the immortal bird for confirmation before approaching the ornate cabinet that Dumbledore kept his Pensieve in.
As her nerves started getting the better of her, Hermione glanced back at the patiently observing avian and whispered, "Are you sure about this, Fawkes? I can only imagine what the old fart has done here."
Fawkes let out an amused trill. "Worry not, young one. Although the book has had many different hiding places over the years, Albus is nothing if not consistent. I have given you the knowledge... and you have the strength. Just trust yourself, and your instincts."
Taking a deep breath, Hermione drew her wand and waved it in a complex pattern across the front of the cabinet. A moment later, a narrow shelf popped out near the bottom, holding an old, well-worn, leather-bound book. Releasing the breath that she'd been unconsciously holding, the young witch carefully levitated the book to one of the larger of the many spindly-legged tables that adorned the grand office.
"Well done, fledgling," her avian mentor crooned. "Now, this is the important part. Be extremely careful so that you replicate all of the enchantments he's cast on it, as well."
Closing her chocolate brown eyes for a moment to focus herself, Hermione waved her left hand slowly back and forth over the old journal while murmuring a spell that had been unknown for millennia, but which Fawkes had passed his knowledge of to her. Slowly, an exact physical and magical duplicate phased into existence under her right hand which had been mirroring the movements of the left one. With a deft flick of her wand, Dumbledore's journal was securely back in its hiding place.
"Thank you, Fawkes," the relieved witch sighed tiredly while affectionately scratching the phoenix's neck. "I couldn't have done it without you."
"Nonsense, young one. I simply gave you the knowledge that you lacked," he reassured her. "Rejoin your mates and allow their love to rejuvenate you. You did very well tonight. We will all benefit from your efforts sooner rather than later."
Smiling, Hermione kissed the old bird on the top of his head while placing the copied journal in her pocket. She transformed and warbled her farewell before flashing away.
Trilling a laugh, Fawkes said to himself, "If I were only a few thousand years younger, I could overlook the fact that she's really a human. See what she thinks about age and experience..."
Winging their way into the Owlery together after a leisurely and playful flight back from the Forbidden Forest, Hedwig and Ciarán landed on the perch that Hedwig had claimed as her own six years ago. Nuzzling each other affectionately, Harry suddenly stopped, eyes growing wide in panic, as the large owl community became oddly silent. "W-why are they staring at me?"
"What, love?" Hedwig chuttered while still rubbing her head against her mate.
"The other owls; th-they're all staring at me," Ciarán replied nervously, hopping lightly from foot to foot.
Stopping her rubbing with an exasperated sigh, the white owl glared fiercely at the other birds in warning. Returning her attention to her mate, she explained, "It's like we said; the hens are jealous and the males are feeling threatened."
"A much better potential mate has entered their domain. The males want to re-establish their claims. The females, well... they want what I want..."
"Gkkk..." With that, Ciarán lost his Gryffindor courage and quickly glided to the floor and transformed. Nyta joined him moments later, laughing heartily. She drew her wand and cast a cleaning charm, followed by a cushioning charm on a corner of the room so they could relax until Rati joined them.
When she did a short time later, the reddish-brown and gold phoenix found her mates cuddled together, Harry hiding behind his white-blonde protector. Transforming, Hermione stared at the scene before her. One eyebrow raised in question, she joined her mates on the only clean section of floor. "Okay, ah, why..." Shaking her head in consternation, the titular Goddess of Lust ran a hand through her hair as she tried to ask again, "I expected you two to be busy on Hedwig's perch when I arrived, but instead, I find this rather less than arousing scene. Is there a particular reason that my reputation is being besmirched?" The last was said with a faux haughty air, reminiscent of a certain arse-kissing Weasley son.
"It seems," Nyta smirked, "that our brave Gryffindor, here, has developed a sudden case of ornithophobia."
"I have not," Harry petulantly insisted. "It's just... they're... they're staring at me."
Hermione chuckled at her lovers, knowing that there had to be a good story behind this one. "Okay, then," she commanded in full Goddess mode, "I'll flash us to the corridor outside the Room of Requirement. Oh, and Nyta... make sure there are lots of perches."
The ex-Ravenclaw smiled evilly.
As she was preparing for bed, Minerva heard the distinctive sound of the Floo in her office. Grabbing a dressing gown, the elderly Scot returned to her office to see Remus' head appear in the fire.
"Good evening, Minerva," the werewolf greeted. "Sorry to trouble you so late, but I need to get a message to Harry. I was hoping that you could pass it on for me."
Conjuring a straight-backed chair, the elderly teacher sat and faced her former student. "I hope it can wait until morning, Remus. I suspect that wherever they are, it isn't Gryffindor Tower. And to be quite honest, I really don't want to know where they are or what they are doing."
A salacious chuckle escaped the lycan's lips as he rolled his eyes. "Believe me, Minerva, after this past summer, I don't blame you one bit. Anyway, can you let your resident sex fiends know that I finally found the anchor that Albus placed on the property? I've taken care of both it and the Entrapment Charm." He paused momentarily with a grimace. "Minerva... he used an Egyptian Bloodstone."
"He didn't! He couldn't have... Remus, are you absolutely certain?"
Moony nodded his head slowly as he answered, "I'm very certain, especially as I had to use a Sumerian curse to break it. I suspect Albus was, erm, a bit inconvenienced by it." The Marauder's face broke into an evil smirk.
Understanding lit up Minerva's eyes as she exclaimed, "Inconvenienced? He's still unconscious in the Hospital Wing. Poppy's not even sure when he'll come out of it. Why don't you come through tomorrow after breakfast? I'm sure I'll run across the little perverts by then. They will, I'm certain, need to eat, if only to keep their strength up."
"Thanks, Minerva, I will. Good night."
"Good night, Remus."
The Deputy Headmistress sat in her place at the Head Table enjoying her tea and preparing to distribute the class schedules when she saw her ward and, well, one of his girlfriends take their seats at the Gryffindor House table across from Ronald Weasley. Wondering for a moment where young Miss Scandia was, Minerva set down her cup and rose to give her students their schedules.
As she approached Harry and Hermione, she said, "Mr Potter and Miss Granger, I need to see you both in my office before your first class." Lowering her voice to a bare whisper, she added, "You may wish to find your Familiar first."
As she continued down the table, she heard Weasley blurt out, "Damn, you two. In trouble before classes even start? How'd you manage that?"
Dumbledore woke slowly in a curtained-off part of the Hospital Wing with a pounding headache. "What happened? What am I doing here?" Sitting up and looking around, he called in a raspy voice, "Poppy?"
The curtain opened just enough to admit the bustling form of the Matron, Poppy Pomfrey. Seeing her patient trying to get out of bed, she commanded, "Lay back down, Albus. You're not going anywhere."
"But Poppy, I..."
"Don't you dare 'But Poppy' me, Albus Dumbledore! And don't even try to convince me that you're fine. I don't know what you were getting up to last night, but I do know that you nearly drained your magical core trying to deal with whatever spell you were trying to control. If I didn't know better, I'd suspect it was some dark Blood Rite gone wrong."
"No, Albus." She gave her wand a wave, and the Headmaster found himself bound to the bed. "Now, as I was saying, you're suffering from extreme magical depletion, and you'll be staying right here until I say so."
"No, Albus. I swear, you're as bad as Mr Potter." As the stern witch finished her examination, in spite of the Headmaster's sudden icy glare, she added before walking away, "Oh, and I have your wand locked in my office, so don't think you can try anything."
Dumbledore resigned himself to his fate, thinking, "Could things get any worse?"
Suddenly, there was a rumbling in his stomach that made him realize that Poppy hadn't left a bedpan. "Oh, shite!" he thought before bellowing, "Poppy!"