"Harry! Back so soon? What can I do for you?"
"I hope I'm not disturbing you, Headmaster."
"Nonsense, Harry. You're always welcome. Isn't that right, Fawkes?"
The Phoenix trilled a note that filled Harry with warm feelings. Harry returned to the same chair in Dumbledore's office that he had sat in less than two hours before.
"You've been thinking about our conversation?"
"And you need... clarification?"
"Well, no – not exactly. You say that I am the last living descendant of Godric Griffyndor. And Prophecy says that a descendant of Griffyndor will destroy Voldemort, once and for all, so Voldemort targeted me and my father to prevent that from coming to pass, is that correct?"
"Quite so, Harry. You and your father were the last Heirs of Gryffindor and with your father's death, only you remain to fulfill the Prophecy. That, above all reasons, is why Voldemort still wants you dead," said Dumbledore regretting how stark his words sounded.
"I see," said Harry, absently. Dumbledore could tell that this was just a prelude to the real reason Harry had returned to the office.
"But I'm sure you understood this when you were here earlier, Harry. I gather something else is on your mind?"
Dumbledore raised an eyebrow expectantly.
"Masturbation," Harry said. Fawkes emitted a surprised squawk that augmented the flash of shock that appeared, ever so briefly, in the Headmaster's eyes.
"I'm getting quite good at it," Harry added.
Dumbledore seemed a bit choked up, making little coughing noises until he had recovered enough to speak: "I'm not sure I understand, Harry."
"Muggles have something called 'sperm banks.' "
"Ah, and you want to preserve your seed, so that if you die, Griffyndor may still have a descendant who can fulfill the prophecy and destroy Voldemort. A very impressive plan for one of your years. Yes, most impressive."
"There's more to it," Harry said, hoping he could get it out before Dumbledore cottoned on and blurted out the whole plan before Harry could. Dumbledore had an infuriating way of making everything you said seem redundant. The 'masturbation' crack was the only thing that Harry had ever surprised him with – it was a memory to treasure.
"We don't wait for me to be killed. There are sperm banks and fertility clinics all over the world. We could infiltrate them with Wizards. Women willing to be impregnated by a dark-haired, white Caucasian would be impregnated – by my sperm," said Harry. His face felt warm and he realized he was probably blushing. He sucked in a breath, relieved that he had gotten it said.
"I could easily imagine dozens of new Heirs by the time I graduate – if I live to graduate."
"Yes, yes - but does that seem an ethical thing to do, Harry?"
"I'm choosing not to worry about the ethics at this point."
Dumbledore responded with silence.
"It is a War, is it not?" Harry added.
Dumbledore was grim: "To knowingly give unsuspecting Muggles children that will probably be magical? Infants who would be targeted by Voldemort, much as you yourself were? You could live with this, Harry?"
"Safety in numbers, Professor. We could produce so many heirs that Voldemort would have to realize he could never be sure he had eliminated them all – perhaps he'd give up on the idea of eliminating the last Heir."
"I don't think he would ever stop targeting you, Harry. You're more than just the last Heir. You're a symbol of resistance to his power."
"Yes, I realize that. But he still wouldn't target me with the same intensity. I will be safer, the people I care about – Ron, Hermione – would be in less danger as well. Right now he'll do anything to get to me, including going after my friends. If there are many other potential Heirs, then going after me would just be – a self-indulgent vendetta."
Dumbledore didn't feel a need to state the obvious: that Voldemort could easily indulge himself in such a vendetta. Instead he responded: "And when you marry, and start a family? How will your own children feel, knowing they have dozens of half-siblings?"
"Well, that's another one of those things that I've chosen not to think about. And it still comes back to safety in numbers. Voldemort may want to attack my personal family because of his hatred for me, but for purposes of the Prophecy, my own children will not be any more significant than the children from a fertility clinic. They'll be safer if there are other Heirs of Gryffindor in the world."
"Nevertheless, It is a grave thing you propose, for any family you hope to have."
"Family is the most important thing there is," Harry said with conviction. "And families are what I want to protect. Voldemort must be destroyed. Until he is, no family is safe."
"Think of it, Professor. Dozens of Heirs, with different names, mothers, locations, hidden identities – he'd have to give up. It'd be madness to try and track them all down."
"Yes, It would be a great undertaking to try to eliminate them all. A great strain on Voldemort's resources – an even greater strain on ours if we had to protect them."
"The Fidelius Charm," said Harry. "Dozens of secret-keepers for children Voldemort won't even know the names of – let alone what they look like."
"It's a complex charm, but not as difficult as guarding so many households with wards and Aurors," said Dumbledore. "But yes, it could be done. But secret-keepers can be unreliable – I don't have to tell you."
"If we keep our activities secret long enough and infiltrate the fertility clinics well enough, we won't even need the Fidelius Charm. These children can disappear from all records almost as soon as they are conceived."
"And do you know what it might mean for you, Harry – if there are other Heirs of Griffyndor?"
"You mean, that being the last Heir of Griffyndor is the only thing keeping me alive – if the prophecy is literally true."
"No, it's not the only thing keeping you alive, Harry, not by any means. But you are correct: if you chose to believe the prophecy is literally true, then the existence of further Heirs would leave fate open to allow you to die while Voldemort yet lives."
"Does Voldemort believe the Prophecy is literally true, Professor?"
"I suspect he does. I think with each failed attempt on your life he becomes even more convinced of it."
"But if he believes I am destined to destroy him, why does he keep coming after me instead of using all his resources to stay as far away from me as possible?"
"Dark Lords are proactive, Harry. It's in their nature. A function of their arrogance – and it's their greatest weakness."
Silence took over the room, as Harry said nothing and Dumbledore... he seemed to be mulling something over in his mind. He's going to do it, Harry thought. He decided to beg the question:
"So, how do we proceed?" Harry said, breaking the silence in the room.
Dumbledore looked at Harry, but the twinkle wasn't there. He seemed to still be thinking. Finally he spoke:
"Harry, I know that over the years it has often frustrated you, the secrets I have kept from you."
"Yes, but I have never doubted you, Headmaster. I've disagreed with your decisions at times, but never your intentions."
"I know you love me."
Dumbledore eyes widened at the frankness of the boy's expression. So trusting. How would he react to what he was about to tell him? Could he tell him?
"I do," Dumbledore said affirmatively. Fawkes trilled a note of agreement.
"And that you are always trying to act in my best interest."
"I hope so, Harry."
"Is there another secret you have been keeping from me?"
"Many, I'm afraid."
Harry knew he should be apprehensive, but all he felt was a little amused. He'd never seen Dumbledore like this, almost at a loss for words. He had something he really didn't want to say. Harry decided just to keep the conversation flowing:
Dumbledore hesitated, then said. "At last count, three-hundred and fifty-four."
"Three-hundred and fifty-four – ?"
"Three-hundred and fifty-four – offspring," Harry repeated, not really sure what it meant. His face showed his confusion.
"You see, Harry, the plan which you have just described has already been in effect since you began producing sperm in your second year."
Harry had a clenched feeling in his stomach. He felt pressure in his forehead. 'Fred and George,' he found himself thinking, 'It's a joke! He's making fun of me! No, he's testing my resolve!' Harry found his hands were on his face, which felt dry and hot.
"Since my s-second year?" Harry stammered.
"Yes, I'm afraid so. Quite without your consent."
"It's not a joke?"
"No. It's not a joke," said Dumbledore. "You have every right to feel that you've been grossly violated. But I was... "
"...doing what you thought was best," Harry finished for him, in a small voice.
Dumbledore eyed Harry sympathetically. The boy looked rather ill … The boy looked rather distressed –
"Fawkes!" Dumbledore cried. The phoenix had already leapt from his perch to reach the back of Harry's chair. But Harry had bolted out of that chair to reach a large bowl, sitting on a nearby shelf. He wrapped his arms around it and vomited, violently, into it. With a pop a house-elf appeared on the shelf. It quickly wiped Harry's face with a wet washcloth and threw a cold damp towel around the back of his neck, and with another pop was already gone before Harry heaved again, twice, into the bowl. Harry's vision was distorted. Odd thoughts invaded his head, like being glad the house-elf didn't try to hold his head; growing up no one had ever held his head while vomiting and he didn't understand the whole head-holding thing he had heard others joke about. Soon he started to regain his awareness of his surroundings – and what his arms were wrapped around.
"Is this your pensieve?"
"Oh my God, Professor! I'm so sorry!"
"It's alright, Harry," Dumbledore sighed, "I didn't like those memories anyway."
Fawkes trilled a tardy, comforting note. Harry felt somewhat more at ease.
"Three hundred and fifty-four children. I have three hundred and fifty-four sons and daughters."
"I'm afraid so."
"Mr. and Mrs. Weasley will be jealous. I'm making them look like slackers."
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled a bit in relief. Perhaps it was going to be all right.
"Do you know anything about them?" Harry asked. "Am I allowed to know anything about them?"
"For security, only I have access to all the information that is available about them. But now that you know, much can be done. I can provide you with photographs that will be charmed so that only you and your friends will be able to see the images. And I can arrange for some of your offspring and their families to come visit you, if you like."
"To visit? You can do that?"
"Because not all of the mothers are Muggles. Some of them are witches – some married, some not. The witches, of course, know your story and were proud to bear your offspring, even though it was not without some risk."
"My fans are bearing my children!?" cried Harry, nearly jumping out of his chair. A horrible image invaded his mind: Colin Creevey in a sun dress, very pregnant and with an adoring expression on his face. Harry shook his head, trying to make it go away.
"No, No, I assure you. None of them are like Mr. Creevey," said Dumbledore, ignoring Harry's scowl. "They are stable, mature young women, most are former students here and a few you might even recall from your first and second years, when they were older students. I approached them and asked them if I could ask them a question."
"Asked them, if you could ask them – "
"A question that would be followed by a memory charm, if their answer was 'No.' If they declined my request, they would be charmed to forget I ever asked them."
"Those that agreed to bear your offspring did so not just because they wanted to help defeat Voldemort. Like so many in our world, they grieve with you for the loss of your parents, whose sacrifice made our world safe – they thought this would help right the wrong done to your bloodline, and help keep you safe as well."
Harry was touched. Usually all the attention he received, it just made him feel like a celebrity, a freak that people gawked at, but this felt different. It almost felt like love. Witches he didn't know – taking on this burden for him. Perhaps, he thought, he was more loved by the wizarding world than he had ever realized before. A love that he'd never really appreciated before. It was an odd feeling. Overwhelming. Harry rubbed the damp towel around his face, then pressed it into his eyes to squeeze the fullness out.
"Well, I guess I'll get to thank some of them," Harry said, after he had recovered, "But most of the mothers are Muggles?"
"Almost exactly as you had spelled out in your proposal. Muggle women who had visited fertility clinics in a number of places in the world were evaluated as much as possible for their suitability as parents of a magical child, then the sperm sample they would have been given was replaced with yours. Memory charms have been used extensively; Aurors that helped with the evaluations and switched the sperm samples no longer remember doing so. Only I could track down the children if I wanted to."
"But if the witches know about me, the secret is going to get out eventually."
"Well, those that do know, the witches, were charmed – similar to the Imperius curse and done with their consent. They are utterly incapable of communicating to anyone the identity of the child's father. But you are right, this information will get back to Voldemort eventually – we want it to."
"He has to know sometime – if it is going to deter him from targeting only me and my friends," said Harry, understanding. "But why so many? I thought the dozens I suggested was extreme. Three hundred is just..." Harry trailed off, realizing he couldn't complete the thought without using the words "mental," or "insane."
"I have my reasons, which I think I best keep to myself for a little while longer. I had actually expected Voldemort to discover our operation by now. I never thought I'd actually have to decide how many offspring would be sufficient before we leaked the information to him."
"So you just keep making more."
"You just keep making more, Harry. Poppy is quite impressed with your output."
"Oh God," Harry groaned. He suddenly realized his mind had been avoiding that whole aspect of this operation. How had they been doing this? Pomfrey!
"Do I want to know how this was done?"
Harry groaned. His stomach clenched again, emptily.
"It involves memory charms, mood enhancement charms, and devices used by the Muggle cattle industry – to collect bull semen."
"Oh God," Harry said again. He had been grossly violated, but he was too sick to be angry, and too empty to vomit any more. Why wasn't he screaming in outrage? Because you just volunteered to do this, he answered himself in his head. Dumbledore had anticipated his consent - years ago. The bastard did it again. Harry had thought he would be going into a medical office some of Fred and George's legendary pornography – that would have been embarrassing by itself, but this? How could he ever look Pomfrey in the face again? Maybe if he gave up Quidditch he'd never have to face her again.
"How... I mean, When...?"
"Well, you have been in the Hospital wing quite a lot, Harry. So it was a simple matter during those stays. But a few times you were retrieved from the Gryffindor Tower as you slept, and brought to the wing for the procedures."
How humiliating, Harry thought. Could it be any worse? Then he realized - it could.
"Was Snape involved?"
"Professor Snape did assist Poppy during your second year, because he had also provided a potion to increase your semen production, but as I said, your output has been quite impressive. By your third year it was not needed."
"Oh, that's good," said Harry, resigned to the horror. Increased his semen output during the second year. That explains – things, Harry thought. During second year he had thought he was going insane. He was hearing voices, talking to snakes, and masturbating rather compulsively. He had, uncharacteristically, burst into tears when Ron had pinned him down on his bed and refused to let him up until he told him why he was so miserable. Ron had told him that at least the last one was okay, that unlike his other two problems, it was normal. Then Ron had run out and come back with Fred and George – of all people – to reassure him. All the twins did was tease him mercilessly him with unfunny snake-penis jokes. "Have you tried talking to it, Harry? Tell it to calm down" "Yeah, Harry! What's parseltounge for 'go soft,' or 'stop looking at the sky?'" "No! You need 'Put your head down' – that works!"
The teasing had made him worry less, now that he thought about it. They had actually made him feel better. Harry made a mental note to ask Fred and George to help him take revenge on Snape.
Thinking of Snape again just made him feel worse. "Fawkes, if you'd don't mind?"
Fawkes trilled a heavenly song. It soothed Harry's mind, relaxed his breathing, warmed his soul. He had sons and daughters – family. His mother and father were grandparents to many children in the world, and he would be able to see some of them. It made him feel – almost good, actually. Part of something bigger than himself. The Dursleys were no longer the only family he had left. But was this a mockery of everything a family was supposed to be? So many children. Why so many? Harry couldn't get his mind around it.
"Feel better, Harry?"
Harry nodded. He started to get up. A little shakily.
"I'll have some pictures for you in a few days, and we'll make arrangements about meeting some of your children."
Harry nodded again.
"Are you sure you're okay, Harry? Perhaps we should have Poppy look – "
"No. I'll be fine, thank you. Goodbye, Headmaster."
"Goodbye, Harry. Come by any time."
* * * * * * * *
After the Four-Hundredth child was born Dumbledore had Snape leak information about the Potter offspring to Voldemort, who went insane with rage. His first impulse was to launch attacks on British fertility clinics; a number of innocent Muggles were killed before the Dark Lord realized he needed the clinics intact if he was going to track down all of the possible Heirs of Gryffindor.
Even Dumbledore had underestimated Voldemort's faith in the Prophecy. The Dark Lord ordered his Death Eaters to locate and kill all of Harry's offspring, no matter what the cost. It was a fool's errand; the only records still in the clinics were falsified. In their attempts to obtain records and follow other bogus leads hundreds of Death Eaters exposed themselves to easy identification and capture. Voldemort had thrown nearly every Death Eater into the effort and had failed to eliminate a single offspring. Captured Death Eaters gave up their secrets and Voldemort soon found himself isolated, in hiding, attended by only a few of his most-trusted followers, including Wormtail and Lucius Malfoy. Voldemort couldn't understand how his fortunes had changed so quickly – it seemed almost preordained.
The day came when Voldemort was awakened by Wormtail's terrified voice, telling him that powerful wards had gone up around their hiding place – an ancient stone dwelling – they were trapped, unable to disapparate. Voldemort cursed the cowards he had to rely on as he looked through a front window. What he saw there made the Dark Lord collapse to the floor, screaming in terror.
The house was surrounded by an army of Aurors, and at the head of that army there were over a hundred toddlers – no more than three or four-years-old, but they stood like soldiers, wands in their tiny hands, determination showing in piercing green eyes.
Voldemort couldn't comprehend how Dumbledore could have created these unearthly children, but clearly they had been born – no, bred – to fulfill the Prophecy and destroy him. Voldemort's horror was so great that he could scarcely rise to defend himself as the Aurors blasted away the front of the stone house and quickly killed his lieutenants. Malfoy and Wormtail died begging for their Master to rise up and protect them. The Aurors and the toddlers then concentrated their curses on Voldemort, who fell writhing and screaming until he was dead. Then with further curses, his body was consumed.
Voldemort's body was little more than ashes when Harry and Dumbledore stepped ahead of the troops to see what remained of the Dark Lord who had caused so much suffering to the wizarding world.
"He's really dead. I can feel it," Harry said, rubbing his forehead, a burden curiously no longer felt there.
"Yes, Harry, he is no more. The threat is over"
One of the toddlers yelled out, "Everybody hear that? Voldemort is dead!"
"Who fears his name?" another cried, "Voldemort is dead!"
Soon the Aurors and the toddlers were cheering and shouting, "Voldemort is dead! Voldemort is dead!" Soon after, many of the toddlers started bursting out of their small clothes as they transformed into fully-grown Aurors. Robes were thrown to the naked celebrants as the cheering and dancing continued.
"The Polyjuice Potion is wearing off," observed Harry.
"I must congratulate Severus, when I see him," replied Dumbledore, who was offering sweets to some of the remaining toddlers. "Where is he, by the way?"
"He's one of the offspring."
"Of course," said Dumbledore, with a chuckle. "I should have known."
"I'm right here," said a small girl with a head of blond curls.
"You chose to face Voldemort – as a girl?"
"I most certainly did not choose this; I had a suitable form in mind, but someone switched the cup I had reserved for myself."
"You suspect a prank? Who would do that on a day like this? Sirius had to stay away and the Weasley twins are not here. No student is here at all except for Harry."
"Exactly what I was thinking," growled the little blond girl. She wore the most furious expression that her small features could muster. It was adorable. Dumbledore offered her a candy, but she waved it away.
"Congratulations, Professor." Harry said innocently, "I doubt that any Potions Master has ever produced so much Polyjuice Potion before, and used it with such great effect."
"I'd consider that high praise if I didn't know you've slept through all your History classes," said the little girl, terse and not-to-be-appeased.
Harry found himself fighting an insane impulse to find out if the little girl was ticklish.
"Even so, Daddy is very proud," teased Harry, feeling rather bold with Dumbledore there to keep Snape in line. Dumbledore's eyes twinkled as he continued to offer sweets to the remaining toddlers; some of them were getting rather annoyed at the gesture.
The little girl sneered at Harry, and it was so cute that it took his breath away. "Yes, it is a great day," she said, in a voice dripping with contempt, "History will not fail to exaggerate the importance of your contribution, I'm sure."
The little girl was about to express some cruder thoughts about the potency and viscosity of Harry's contribution but instead she exploded out of her clothes and transformed into a full-sized Severus Snape – greasy, pale-skinned, and naked, except for a little girl's torn robes that clung to one ankle. He exposed himself quite obscenely as he kicked his foot out, trying to dislodge the robes. Fuming, he turned away from Dumbledore and Harry, heading for the cart with the spare robes. He kicked out again; the rear view was no better. Well, I'm scarred for life – again, thought Harry.
Then Harry recalled Snape's expression, 'your contribution.'
"Headmaster, the Prophecy said Voldemort would be destroyed by an Heir of Gryffindor. But none of these faux offspring are true Heirs of Gryffindor, and I didn't even get close enough to fling a curse at him," said Harry.
"Prophecies are like that," said Dumbledore.
* * * * * * * *
In time, Harry would meet many of his offspring and their families. Harry had demanded that the Ministry see to their well-being; he didn't want any of them to grow up in households where they were thought of as freaks. The Ministry agreed and set up a whole department to monitor the progress and safety of the Potter offspring. As the children of the Muggle mothers began to display magical abilities the Ministry would approach the families, tell them about the Potter offspring and the wizarding world, and more families would write to Harry.
Barely a day passed that Harry didn't get at least one letter from one of the families, telling him how their child was doing and enclosing a photo, baby hand prints, or a drawing the child had done. He knew the Ministry had urged the families not to expect too much from him, but Harry still made sure he responded to every letter that came to him. They were family, after all. Hermione, Ginny, Neville, and even Ron would help with the responses when Harry was overwhelmed by school work and Quidditch.
Harry worried about the emotional well-being of the offspring, in spite of the Ministry's efforts. In a moment of inspiration he asked Hermione to create a children's book for them, one that would explain to them who they were. Hermione was overjoyed; no one had ever seen her so happy as she dived into the effort. She wrote about Harry, the death of his parents, his childhood with the Dursleys, his encounters with Voldemort and how the Potter children were conceived to defeat the dark wizard, and the role they played in his destruction. Neville Longbottom helped Dean Thomas with the artwork, and Ron made sure she didn't neglect the most important parts of Harry's story, such as the three-headed dogs, giant spiders, flying cars, and Quidditch. "I never thought I'd be grateful that my boyfriend was such an an immature git," Hermione teased. When the children's book was finished Hermione immediately started writing a more detailed series of books aimed at older children, for the offspring to read as they matured.
A Wizarding publisher heard of Hermione's work and wanted to market them to the public. Harry reluctantly gave his blessing and the books quickly became very popular; many young readers wished they were Potter offspring. Their parents were appropriately scandalized. Hermione became a celebrity in her own right. Fred and George's joke business thrived on a lot of free publicity, and they had a great success in the sale of Green-Eyed Monsters, a candy that turned your eyes green. Initially developed to be used by the faux Offspring in the final battle, the twins had intended to market it to customers who wanted to chide a jealous lover, only to find it was a great success in it original purpose – with children who wanted to 'look like Potter offspring.' Ron also found himself famous because of the books; his most rabid fans were young chess enthusiasts, who invited him to speak to their clubs about his adventure with the giant chess set. Even Neville received his share of fan mail – which he enjoyed almost as much as he enjoyed hearing about the Howlers that Snape regularly received.
One person who did not become famous because of the books was Ginny. Hermione had not written about Ginny's painful crush on Harry, nor identify her as the girl Harry rescued from the Chamber of Secrets. "Left out the best part," Ron joked. As Harry's girlfriend of several years, Ginny had been rather distraught when told that her boyfriend had fathered hundreds of children (Molly Weasley had had to spend a night in St. Mungo's after she was told). But after Harry calmly explained to her that this might keep their own children safe Ginny never voiced another complaint; she was too happy that Harry was thinking they would have their own family some day. They went to great lengths to keep their relationship out of the public eye. Intrusive reporters became a special project of Fred and George's, and they cultivated a reputation of dealing ruthlessly with them. One rumor, which the twins would never confirm or deny, stated that one obnoxious reporter was so thoroughly gotten rid of that no one, not even his employer or his family, could recall that he had ever existed.
One day late in the Hogwarts term, Harry was enjoying his breakfast at the Griffyndor table, half-listening to Hermione and Colin Creevey discuss layout and photographic illustrations for the next TWIGS, the newsletter for Potter Offspring families.
Suddenly there were shouts of alarm as a tremendous number of post owls burst into the Great Hall; before Voldemort's fall this had usually meant something terrible had happened.
The owls fell upon the Gryffindors' table, dropping more than two hundred parchments and envelopes as they upset cereal bowls, tracked through mounds of scrambled eggs, and without invitation began to reward themselves with the Gryffindors' food.
"These are for you, Harry!" cried Neville, as the pandemonium was dying down. He had several envelopes in his hand.
"It looks like they all are!" added Hermione, running her hand through piles of envelopes.
"What's it all about?" said Ron, in an exasperated voice, as swarming owls snatched the bacon from his plate – and from his fingers.
Harry opened the envelope closest to him. It contained a card – and a crayon drawing.
"It's Father's Day," he said, smiling.