A/N: I don't own Harry Potter and wouldn't particularly care to. I would like a rental agreement with option to buy for Hermione Granger. A short term contract with Nymphadora Tonks wouldn't be turned down. A Long-term agreement with Luna Lovegood would probably be a whole lot of fun. Any time Padma Patil wants to open negotiations, call me and oh for a weekend with Fleur. Oddly Lavender and Padma's sister (despite being her twin) Parvati do nothing for me…
I slowly woke from a night of fitful sleep.
My name is Harry Potter, and I'm doomed.
That's a horrible realization to have before you've had your first cup of tea in the morning.
I cracked an eye, squinting so that I didn't need to find my glasses. There it was. My calendar of Doom, with each day carefully crossed off, until the box for today. That box I circled twice in red and annotated the day with 'Doom'. I quickly checked my warding scheme. Still up. Still active.
The wards hadn't worked last time, but I had spent every waking second in preparation for this day since then. I had stolen ideas for my new warding scheme from the Dynastic Egyptians, the old Norse, the Chinese Power Mages, and the Aztec high priests. Surely that combination might offer at least temporary protection from the horrors outside my room. Right? God, please let me be right this one time.
I pulled the duvet tighter around my body trying not to remember the laughter of the North American Technomage I had told of the horrors I faced. He laughed and told me what every other learned wizard I had approached had already said. I'm doomed. His only useful suggestion was to start drinking heavily.
I lay in my bed remembering that laughing ass from Boston when it started. The banging on my door. They were coming for me.
As with most of the bad things that have happened to me in my life, this was all Dumbledore's fault.
"I've come up with a plan that will allow you to leave your relative's home Harry." The bearded wonder said rubbing his hands together. "If we are successful, you will never again need to darken their door."
I looked up from the first meal I had received in a week, having just been rescued from #4 Privet drive only minutes before… hadn't I?
It seemed odd that there was a warming charm on the plate given that every meal I had ever had at Hogwarts had been delivered piping hot without the use of a charm. But maybe that was just because it was summer; perhaps the kitchens were unmanned (unelfed?) over the summer. It was also odd that I wasn't hungry. I remembered waking up that morning ravenous, a constant dull ache in my belly, what had happened since then?
Shaking off the odd feeling of déjà vu, I realized I had missed something important. A chance to leave the Dursleys forever? See what can happen when you're not paying attention? How could I possibly pass up an opportunity like that? So, like an idiot, I signed all the paperwork Dumbledore put in front of me without bothering to read it.
"Oh well done Harry!" the old man with the goat fetish that he had somehow blamed on his brother exclaimed as he took the signed parchments from my hand, and cause them to go where ever signed documents go when he tapped them with his wand. "Not only will you be protected from Voldemort and his people, but you are single handedly going to unite the four houses of Hogwarts!"
He was really into whatever his plan was. It was only then that I noticed that he hadn't actually told me what I had just agreed to, but that feeling of déjà vu continued. "Whaa?" I asked intelligently.
"Harry…" Dumbledore said in that 'I'm so disappointed in you for not recognizing what a brilliant plan I've formulated and to prevent further disappointment you should immediately accept what is happening without question' way of his, "now that you're sixteen, certain… opportunities present themselves. Unfortunately it is recognized that young wizards, such as yourself, tend to be dreadfully stupid, unable to pour urine from a boot with directions written on the heel as it were, until at least their early thirties. As such, they are rarely allowed to interact with others in any meaningful way.
"But young witches," He continued, "Young witches mature much younger than their male counterparts. A young wizard can overcome his shortcomings with an ambitious young witch behind him guiding his decisions. Your blood protections are easily transferred from your aunt's home to the place of your marriage bed. This is why you've married."
There was silence for a full three count as I processed what Dumbledore just said. The feeling of déjà vu vanished. "Married?" I croaked unable to believe what I had heard. "I've got to get married?"
Dumbledore blinked. "My dear boy, you've just GOTTEN married. Didn't you read what you were signing?"
I was MARRIED? What the hell? "Who am I married to?" I asked when I found my voice. "Ginny?"
"Oh, no my boy, Miss Weasley is completely unsuited to the type of marriage you require. As soon as I determined that you held the possibility of uniting the Hogwarts houses, what we needed to do became so very clear."
"Who am I married to?" I repeated, perhaps a bit more forcefully. I found myself wondering what he meant by the 'type of marriage' I required. There are types of marriage?
"A member of each house." Dumbledore said with a wave of his hand as if the name of the actual girl involved was of no consequence.
His actual response confused me as much as his manner while making it. Who was a member of each house? There was no alternative; I once again had to respond with my normal level of insight and understanding. "Whaa?"
"I have arranged for the formation of a group marriage for you, with one member of each of the four houses," the old bastard said as if that answered all my possible questions.
It took a few seconds for me to wrap my mind around that concept. I mean sure, I was a sixteen year old guy who was being told that he was going to have sex with four different women. But I was also told that I was married to these women and I STILL didn't know who they were. "Who? Who are they?"
I only have one thing to say about apparition. Don't. As a mode of transportation, it's a great purgative. The compression/expansion cycle of the experience is to be avoided.
So of course, this was the manner of transportation that Dumbledore used to take me to my new 'brides'. While in the process of this idiot form of self torture I thought I was going to die.
It wasn't until I arrived at our destination and I met my new wives that I found myself wishing that I actually had.
"Mr. Potter, may I present your wives." The old bastard actually had the balls to smile and wink at me.
There they were, rising from chairs set in a semi circle around the point that we appeared in. Millicent Bulstrode, Marietta Edgecombe, Romilda Vane, and Susan Bones. What the hell? The only one of them I've ever exchanged a civil word with was Sue. How could this possibly be happening to me?
"Ladies, your husband." Dumbledore continued.
"We know who he is Headmaster," Millicent said almost managing to sound respectful. "What we don't know is who the First Wife is."
"Ah, the refreshing directness of Slytherin House." The old man smiled at the assembled women. "The simplest answer is that it will be which ever of you who bears the first Potter heir."
"Wait a minute." I protested. "This can't be legal. Romilda can't be more than fourteen, and Bulstrode and Edgecombe hate me."
"I'll be fifteen September second Harry." Romilda cooed in a manner I guess she thought was alluring. "My grandmother was married even younger than I."
"We're all Potters now Husband." Millicent growled in a manner that I took to be life threatening.
"Every marriage has certain obstacles that must be overcome Harry." Dumbledore said condescendingly. "Certainly Marietta Potter has certain reservations about your relationship."
"My father used me to cancel a debt to the Potter estate." The girl shook her head, setting her strawberry blond curls to move back and forth violently. "This was not my idea." From her expression and body language relayed a further unspoken thought 'and you're going to pay.'
"Susan Potter found herself in dire straits following the death of her aunt. The Ministry directed Death Duties depleted her vaults and her Aunt's home was sold to cover the family's debts. Susan found her self destitute, unable to even afford her sixth year tuition."
"I'm sorry Harry," the red head whispered. "I had no choice, I had no where else to go."
"And Millicent Potter has admitted to the possibility that she will secure her inheritance of your estate by bearing the Potter Heir, and then she will turn you over to Voldemort, but I believe that with love and understanding the two of you can work through that."
I stared at the old fool with my mouth open in amazement. "You've gone senile, haven't you? She intends to give me to Voldemort and you see that as something to 'work through'?"
"Harry, I know that's just your wedding night nerves speaking, so I'll forgive you for that, this time." The old man pulled a pocket watch from his robes. "Well, I'd best be off and allow you five the privacy you'll need to enjoy your evening."
Before I could protest, the old man vanished. Damn him. Now what? I returned my attention to the four witches in the room to discover that they were seemingly involved in a spontaneous Stone/Parchment/ Wand competition. It took six rounds to determine that Millicent was the winner.
The large woman approached me and took hold of my bicep in her huge right hand. "Let's go to bed Husband. It's my wedding night and I want it to be special."
As I was dragged from the room I tried not to scream, really I did.
I'm not going to describe my 'Wedding Night'. Let it suffice to say that Millicent told me that it was her first time, asked that I be gentle, and that two amazing hours later, I found myself lying in her sleeping embrace wondering what the hell just happened. That was unbelievable! Maybe this married thing wouldn't be so bad.
The next morning she tried to kill me in the very nicest way possible once again. I have to say that as assassination attempts go, this was a really nice one. Why didn't I like her again?
After a shower and a leisurely breakfast I attempted to contact the Headmaster, but he was seemingly ignoring me. Again. So I set about trying to contact my friends. This turned out to be the latest of my mistakes.
Ron managed to floo right over, as he knew where I was from Dumbledore. Odd that I still had no idea, but there you go. I had been worried that Ron would be jealous as per his normal reaction when odd things happen to me. He wasn't. It turned out that Ron thought my situation was funny.
"Only you Harry. Only you could end up in a situation like this," he laughed.
"It's not funny Ron," I protested in return.
"Of course it is." He laughed slumping on to the sofa in my suite in what I had been informed was the Potter Estate. "And the fact that you've done this without knowing that is hilarious. I mean, sure the power boost would be nice, but …"
Hermione arrived prevented Ron from explaining what he meant by 'power boost'. Upon seeing the expression on Hermione's face, Ron sobered, mouthed the word 'LATER' toward me and stealthily made his way to the hearth to make his escape.
I was a bit surprised to find that Ron was avoiding Hermione, but the young lady in question seemed to have built up a full head of steam. Perhaps he was worried that she was going to be working herself up to a full screaming fury over my 'marriage'. From his point of view it was probably a wise move to leave her alone with the object of her ire.
From my point of view the rat bastard abandoned me. Again.
"Harry, what have you gotten yourself into this time?" she asked in that low tone she reserved for when I had been spectacularly stupid.
"The Headmaster told me he had come up with a way for me to never have to return to Privet Drive, and shoved some documents in front of me to sign. None of this was my idea Hermione."
For some reason my admission seemed to infuriate her. "After that insanity with the Triwizard magical contracts, you signed contracts without reading them?"
"Well… yeah," I admitted. "When you put it like that it sounds real stupid, but I wasn't really…"
"When it's put anyway at all it sounds real stupid because it IS real stupid." She fumed.
I was suddenly very happy there weren't any elves attached to the estate… were there?
"On top of keeping you safe and trying to figure out what the Headmaster is up to, we need to concentrate on security for the poor women victimized in this situation." She continued before fixing me with one of her patented death glares. "You haven't had your way with any of them have you?"
"Had my way?" I asked incredulously. "Well… you know it was our wedding night. I was still trying to deal with what was happening, but Millicent…"
"Oh, Harry, what am I going to do with you?" She rose from her chair and began pacing. "What bothers me about this whole thing, besides your using these poor women and the way Dumbledore is just taking control of your life, is that this is the first group marriage I've ever heard of in Magical Britain."
"I'm not using anyone!" I protested.
"Shut up Harry, I'm thinking." She said dismissively. Then she stopped dead in her tracks and wheeled to face me, a dark fury seemingly born out of no where. "And don't be getting any of your sick ideas about me joining in on this perversion."
"Oh god, no!" I gasped taken by surprise at the suggestion
"And what is that supposed to mean?" Hermione huffed, her expression changing from anger to that of being offended in a fraction of a second.
"But I… I never…"
"So I'm not good enough for your harem?"
"I didn't say that," I tried to backpedal from my protest. "But you're… You're Hermione. I've never thought of you like that."
"See that you don't." She restarted her pacing. "Given that this situation is a prime example of a normal male adolescent fantasy, if a group marriage is legal under the Ministry's laws there must be a reason that they aren't more common among people like Lucius Malfoy."
"Maybe Malfoy's dad is really deeply in love with Malfoy's mum." I suggested.
"Maybe," she agreed somewhat doubtfully. "Until I can get some research done, we need to make sure that you're treating your new wives respectfully."
"Respectfully? Hermione, Millicent wants to turn me over to Voldemort, Marrietta hates me, Romilda is a little girl, and Sue is just here because she had nowhere else to go."
"Hmm," she said while regarding me with a gimlet eye. "I see I'm going to have to form a group to keep an eye on you."
That is how I ended up a founding member of S.A.P.P.S. (Society for the Advancement and Protection of Potter's Spouses). Hermione even made me shell out two sickles each for a badge for all five Potters.
I was really beginning to hate my life.
"No." I said. "Get out."
"But Husband," Romilda simpered, "We need to consummate our marriage."
"No," I repeated. "You are fourteen years old. I was tricked into this 'marriage' but I'll be damned if I'm going to let a fourth year into my bed. If I haven't found a way out of this so called marriage by the time you are sixteen and legal, then we'll talk about it. Until then, get out."
That's when she pulled out the big guns and started to cry.
I was somewhat amazed that her crying ploy didn't work, not in the slightest. After the reaming I had received from Hermione I had put quite a bit of thought into my situation. I could just see all this being nothing more than a setup between Dumbledore and the Ministry. This whole marriage thing was probably nothing more than a trap to throw me into Azkaban for child molesting.
Fudge would do it because he's an ass. Dumbledore would to it 'to keep me safe'.
Well the joke is on them, because there is literally no way in hell I was going to take a fourteen year old to my bed.
Romilda carried on for an hour before she finally got the hint and ran from my room, slamming the door behind her, leaving me in blissful solitude and silence for almost three minutes. My alone time was terminated by a hesitant knock on my door.
"Go away Romilda." I said to the door. I wasn't surprised in the least to see the door start to open.
I was surprised to see that the one opening the door was Susan Bones.
"Harry? Could we talk?" The redhead asked in a voice so low I could barely make it out.
"I'm not sure what kind of company I'll be Susan." I like Susan, I really do. From what I'd pieced together from what little conversation we've managed since I arrived here, that bastard Voldemort killed her Aunt Amelia three weeks before. Between Death Duties and the Family debts, all she had left was her family name… and I'd taken that from her. Dumbledore had literally plucked her from the Diagon Alley where she had spent her last five galleons on a fairly squalid room in the back of the Leaky Caldron, and hadn't eaten in two days.
"I wanted to thank you Harry."
"Thank me?" I couldn't imagine what she could possibly be thanking me for.
"That you would take this risk for us, given what is likely to happen." She said shyly.
"Risk? What risk?"
Her left hand flew to cover her mouth. "You don't know? Really?"
"Know what?" I asked, feeling a chill running up my spine. "What's going to happen?"
"A magical bonding like this links the women." She said with a blush.
Links the women? What did that mean? "That's good right?"
"For the women," she said, her blush deepening. "Depending on how magically powerful the Wizard is, the Witches will be healthier, stronger and, well, potentially smarter as well. A bonding of a group of Witches to a powerful Wizard will allow them to reach their potentials in all aspects of their lives."
"So…" I asked my mind racing. Did this mean? "So you'll be basically feeding off my magic? What happens when you exhaust me?"
"No, I… I'm explaining this badly. We don't drain you. The bonding sets up… what did Auntie call it? A feedback loop. The bond pushes your magic to us, and at the same time, the more Witches in the bond, the more powerful the Wizard becomes."
"Oh. Well that's all good isn't it?" I asked tempting fate. I should really know better than to do that.
"Well, as far as it goes," Susan hesitated. That wasn't a good sign. "Like I said, the magical bonding links the women. When it comes to you, we'll all feel the same way."
"The strongest emotion between the four of us will become the common emotion between us. I think it will become a contest between how much Marietta hates you and how much Romilda lusts for you."
"Oh." Suddenly the possibility of a power up didn't seem all that attractive.
"On the plus side, three of us don't want to give you to You-Know-Who… so Millicent should calm down on that idea. But that's not really the bad news."
There was that chill down my spine again. "What is it?"
"The bond will synchronize our cycles."
"That's not so bad. I remember hearing that happens to women who live in groups. I bet it happened between the girls in your dorm room." I said stupidly.
"It did." Susan admitted. "But that's not what I mean. The bond will drive our cycles to insane levels… When we're fertile…"
I felt my eyes widen when I understood what she was saying.
"We'll find you and… All of us," She added.
"And you know how some girls get a little… moody sometimes?"
Oh hell I thought. Surely not.
"We will become almost psychotic. Harems have been known to kill the men involved." She paused again blushing prettily, "or drive them crazy with the moodiness and tears."
I think that was when I realized just why despite being legal, group marriages were uncommon.
Susan spent the night with me.
I'm not really sure how it happened. It wasn't a seduction or anything, as if I was capable of that. One moment we were sitting on the sofa in my room talking, and then we were kissing. I don't think I started it, but I honestly don't know if she did either. We just seemed to instantly transition from quiet conversation to having each other's tongues in our mouths. At some point clothes started coming off, and then we were on my bed.
It turned out without Millie's guidance I was something of a fumble fingered oaf, but Susan seemed to enjoy herself. For my part I had confirmed my earlier theory that sex was a great way to spend an evening… or pretty much any time of day.
"Wow," The redhead said, nuzzling my neck. "That was nice. You really have no idea what you're doing do you?"
"Hey," I protested. "You said 'wow' and 'that was nice'. I must have been doing something right."
"It was very nice," she giggled. "It's just that your reputation lead me to believe you were a lot more… experienced than you turned out to be."
"I have a reputation?"
"Oh, yes. Since fourth year. At least a dozen girls claim to have been in your bed."
I propped myself up on an elbow, the better to see her face. Was this a joke? "Really? I wish I had been there. Who?"
Lavender, Megan, Pansy." She said counting off the list on her fingers.
"Wait. Pansy? Pansy Parkinson? She hates me, even more than Marietta," I protested. "Why would she ever claim such a thing?"
Susan's brow furrowed. "I don't know, she was very… convincing. Maybe she was just bragging, or maybe she was looking to get back at Draco after one of their fights."
Malfoy and Parkinson fought? They always seemed to be joined at the hip. I found myself wondering what else I hadn't noticed in five years at the school. "Girls brag about that sort of thing?"
"Some do," she admitted. "What did Weasley and Granger have to say about all this?"
"Ron finds the whole thing hilarious. He mentioned something about the power up you spoke about, but then Hermione showed up and he ducked out."
"Hmph." Susan snorted. "It figures a low life like Ron Weasley would find the situation funny."
"Low life? Hey, Ron's not a bad guy," I protested.
"He doesn't look at you like you're a side of beef." Susan replied. "His eyes haven't risen above my chest since third year."
"Well, I can understand that…" I don't know why I was working so hard to defend Ron after he laughed at me. "I've snuck a few peeks as well."
"I know," she said, a blush spreading down her torso. I'd never known that a blush went that far down. "What did Hermione have to say?"
"The usual, I'm an idiot, and I better be treating all of you with respect while she researches why group marriages are rare enough to be almost unknown while still being legal. Of course you told me why this evening. Anyway, you'll be pleased to know that I've paid the membership fees that that all of you can join a society."
"No," I laughed. "Spew is yesterday's cause. Now it's S.A.P.P.S. That's the Society for the Advancement and Protection of Potter's Spouses."
"Oh, goodie, I like being advanced and protected."
"You're in luck then. The badges should be ready next week."
She smiled. Harry was surprised by how that lit up her face. "You hid in your room all day Harry. Tomorrow you need to come out and talk to us."
"Yeah, I know. We need to get everything figured out before school starts."
"Are you willing to pay for us to attend Hogwarts?" There was a sort of wistful hopefulness in her voice.
"If I can afford it, of course. Among the things I need to do is go to Gringotts to figure out our finances. Hopefully I can hire an Elf or two."
"Buy. You buy Elves." She said gently.
"No, hire. I would never take a slave. I'm pretty sure that Dobby will come to work for us. Probably Winky as well."
Sue seemed to examine me for the first time. "You are a very strange wizard Harry Potter."
"You have no idea."
I was feeling a little ashamed of myself, but I really didn't see that I had all that much of a choice. I woke as the sun came up as per usual, but found Susan wrapped around me in a very nice way. I certainly wasn't going to spoil that and she was snoring in the cutest way I have ever heard.
Ron, Seamus and Neville all snore, but none of them were cute when they did it. I spent several moments pondering that, and concluded that nice breasts made pretty much everything cute.
Putting that rather sexist (if highly accurate) thought aside, I pondered what I had learned the previous two days. My first realization was the blindingly obvious. I've been very, very stupid. The central basic truth of my life boiled down to the uncomfortable idea that Dumbledore was toying with me. He pulled the strings and I danced like an obedient little puppet was supposed to.
My parent's home in Godrick's Hollow was under the Fidelius charm. It's attacked on Halloween night and Dumbledore dispatches Hagrid to get me. That meant both Hagrid and Dumbledore knew the secret, which means they were told by the Secret Keeper… right? Of course it could have been via a note like how I learned of #12 Grimmauld Place.
Hagrid did something with me before I was dropped off on Aunt Petunia's doorstep for her to find on the 2nd of November. Petunia made very sure I grew up knowing the day I was inflicted on them. What happened in that missing day?
I resolved that as soon as I didn't have a very naked girl with spectacular breasts cuddling up to me, I was going to start making notes.
Dumbledore wanted me at the Dursleys, I went to the Dursleys. Dumbledore wanted me at school, and after Vernon said no, the letters kept coming. And coming. And coming. I found myself wondering if that happened with every Muggle born and Muggle raised who thought that the letter was a prank. Why hadn't this occurred to me before?
Professor McGonagall went to explain things to the Grangers. Hagrid appeared to threaten the Dursleys. Vernon plainly said no several times to my attending Hogwarts, yet I went. But when it came time for me to go to Hogsmeade because Vernon didn't sign a permission slip, I couldn't go. Why was his permission not needed to attend the school but was so that I could go to a small village?
Why was it possible for three first years to defeat the defenses offered by the staff of the school? Sure Hermione is a genius, but Ron's cluelessness and my general idiocy should have balanced that out. Yet we somehow succeeded. How?
Second year I was hearing the Basilisk in the pipes all year, but when I finally found the damned snake, it was far too large to fit in any pipe I've ever seen. It would have clogged most viaducts I've seen, and why was Hermione the only one capable of figuring out what the creature was? What the hell was wrong with the staff anyway?
Third year Remus Lupin was hired as DADA professor, Coincidentally Sirius escaped Azkaban, and no one feels the need to mention that a supposed escaped mass murderer was a Dog animagus.
The insanity of fourth year and Voldemort's absurdly convoluted plot to capture me speaks for itself, as does the madness of fifth year with its torture and mental attacks.
Now, out of the blue Dumbledore pulled me out of #4 Privet drive and tricks me into marriage with four women who I don't know. Sure the sex so far has been fantastic, but am I still dancing to his tune? Is this all part of his plan? Are the women parts of that plan?
Susan stirred in my arms. I closed my eyes and deepened my breathing. Many years of living with the Dursleys had taught me to fake sleep convincingly. The beautiful redhead cuddled into me for a few moments, then kissed me lightly on the cheek before easing herself out of my arms and my bed. Through cracked lids I watched her shimmy into her night shirt and panties, admiring the action as much as the act, and she made her way from my room. As soon as the door closed I was up, dashing quickly to the bath to void my bladder, I dressed quickly and threw on my invisibility cloak. It was time for me to figure out what was going on. I exited my room and made my way down stairs.
I caught up with Susan as she was entering the kitchen, sliding in behind her on the second opening of the swinging door. Sitting around the table waiting for her were my other three 'wives'.
"Well?" Marietta asked. "We expected you last night."
Susan poured herself a cup of tea, "I found something far more interesting than reporting to you Mari." She made her way to sit at the table. "He didn't know." The red head said taking a sip from her cup.
"Didn't know what?" Millicent asked. Her attitude suggested that she didn't like having to depend on others for information like this.
"Anything. Dumbledore lied to me. To us. Harry never requested us for this marriage, the first he heard of it was when Dumbledore handed him some documents to sign yesterday during his first meal in a week. He didn't know anything about the Harem effect before I told him, and quite frankly the idea of our synchronizing terrifies him."
"How can he not know about the Harem effect? The Potters are an old family. That doesn't make sense." Marietta asked.
"No, it does make sense." Millicent disagreed. "The Potters are an old family, but James married Lily Evans, a Mudblood. Potter was raised by his Muggle relatives. He came to Hogwarts completely ignorant. Malfoy said once that Potter didn't even know about magic until he got his acceptance letter to Hogwarts."
I swallowed a growl at her use of 'Mudblood' concerning my mother. I needed to find out what was going on, I could hurt people later.
"I would advise against calling his mother a 'Mudblood' Millie." Susan said. "Just because he doesn't know what he can do to us doesn't mean that he won't figure it out."
What I could do to them? What did that mean?
"Sorry." The large girl blushed, "Old habits. I thought it was odd that Potter would open negotiations with my Dad for me. So, Dumbledore is behind all this? Why?"
Susan shook her head. "I have no idea."
"Power." Marietta said simply. "The same reason Dumbledore does anything. If his goal was truly to be the headmaster of Hogwarts then that's what he would be. He wouldn't be expending his efforts toward the Wizengamot or the ICW or any of the other things he does. It's the power he's after."
"But why is Harry going along with it?" Romilda asked in a small voice. "If he doesn't love us, why are we here?"
"Romi, you need to grow up." Susan said quietly. "Harry doesn't love any of us; he doesn't even know any of us, not really. He knows Mari through his short flirtation with Cho, he knows Millie from the constant fighting between Gryffindor and Slytherin, he knows me from the DA, and he knows you from being two years behind him in Gryffindor. Has he ever even had a real conversation with you?"
"He helped me with my transfiguration homework last year once."
"And that is the basis of a life long relationship." Marietta said sarcastically before slipping into a more serious demeanor. "I think I know why we're here, and once again the answer is power. The Four of us are the most powerful witches currently at Hogwarts without a family willing or able to protect us from Dumbledore and whatever he has planned."
"What?" the other three witches chorused.
"Based on our index scores. I am the seventh most powerful of my year, the third most powerful witch. Sue and Millie are the Ninth and Twelfth most powerful in their year, and our little Romi is number one overall in her year."
"I thought that the index scores were supposed to be confidential." Millicent protested.
"Oh, please," Mariette scoffed. "I'm a Ravenclaw, if there's a test, we know how everyone scored. How else can you determine how well you did? We had the end of year test results before Dumbledore did."
"Alright," Susan nodded. "That explains knowing your score, how is it you know all of ours?"
"Eidetic memory," The Ravenclaw said tapping her left temple with her wand. "If I see it, I remember it. So, we're all powerful in relationship to our year mates. So, my father suddenly discovers a debt that must be paid to the Potter estate…"
Millicent nodded in understanding. "And my Granddad suddenly discovers that he can rid the family of the embarrassing half blood, and position himself to claim at least part of the Potter fortune when the Dark Lord kills our Husband…"
"And my parents out of the blue decide that I need to marry the Boy Who Lived…" Romilda added.
"And I no longer have any family at all." Susan concluded.
"The most obvious answer is usually the correct answer," Marietta continued. "Take a powerful wizard like Potter, whose index score is far and away the highest currently at Hogwarts, half again as high as Christopher Warrington in Slytherin who is second place over all, bond him to four witches with index scores very near the top of their years, and what do you get?"
"Over time the power boost will be insane." Millicent breathed.
"Assuming that we don't kill him. Without the link, I turn into a psycho once a month." Susan noted.
"And I breeze through my monthlies without the barest of a twinge," Marietta added. "Perhaps we'll average each other out."
"If that was possible, then surely somewhere in the histories of group marriages someone would have mentioned it," Romilda protested, and then she looked distraught. "Last night, I thought he was testing me when he sent me away claiming to have been tricked into this marriage. He really does see me as a little girl doesn't he? He doesn't love me at all."
"Harry doesn't really even know you Romi," Susan said kindly.
"Why is Dumbledore doing this to us?" Millicent asked.
"Because of a prophecy." I said shedding my cloak
It was almost amusing the looks on their faces. Sometimes I forget how few people have ever seen an invisibility cloak.
"Spying on us Husband?" Millicent asked, her tone almost approving.
"I needed to know if you were working for Dumbledore, or victims of this like me." I paused examining their faces for reaction. "From what I've heard, it's the five of us against the world."
I was amazed to find that we were free to leave the estate and travel to Diagon Alley, without as much as an escort. I hadn't been allowed out unescorted since third year (which was odd when you consider that Sirius was supposedly a mass murderer out for my blood, but there you go.)
Gringotts assured me that while I was far from rich, my vault held sufficient galleons to pay for all five of us to continue our educations and then some. The goblin teller showed me the balance sheet for my vault and explained that there would be enough for a comfortable start when I finished at Hogwarts, and that was without taking into account the two hundred acre estate we were now living at., and that upon turning seventeen I was due to receive an unspecified bequest from the Black estate.
Putting that problem behind us we did our back to school shopping. I'm also not going to detail that, as it was insanely unpleasant. Marietta made the unfortunate observation that I needed a complete wardrobe, and I was introduced to the hell that is women dressing you in a shop. The less said about that, the better. I am going to be forever scarred by the loud conversation the four of them had concerning the choice of boxers or briefs.
Upon returning to the estate, I called for Dobby and offered to hire him away from Hogwarts. All four of the women stared in open mouthed amazement as we negotiated his salary and working conditions. I started high, he started low, and we met… somewhere so very slightly higher than his starting point.
Where did the little bugger learn to negotiate like that? After we reached an agreement, Dobby went to get Winky who after much pleading agreed to join my staff at slightly less than half of what Dobby was making. The maniac pair then set to cleaning the house from top to bottom.
That was when it occurred to me that I should probably speak with my wives. They all came from pure blood households, (Even if Millie was a half blood like me) and probably had certain… expectations of elves that I needed to deal with right away.
Winky had somehow, and don't ask me how, whipped up a four course dinner within twenty minutes of having been hired, and we were sitting at the table awaiting the first course. I was at the head of the table, (all four women were insistent that I take that place) with Marietta on my left with Millicent beside her, and Romilda on my right with Susan at her side. The chair at the far end of the table stayed empty. Susan explained that it was for the First wife, and she wouldn't be determined until the first heir was born.
The soup arrived and I broached the subject of the elves. "I thought we ought to discuss Dobby and Winky."
"We all know how to handle elves Husband." Millicent said.
"Actually, I don't think you do." I interrupted her. "The elves you've known have all been slaves. Dobby and Winky are my employees and friends. They aren't slaves and won't be treated as slaves."
There was silence around the table as the soup service vanished replaced by salads. I wish I knew how they did that.
"I think we understand that Harry." Marietta said. "It might take a bit for us to learn your ways; you are a rather unusual wizard."
I smiled and returned to my meal. Millicent broke the silence.
"So, are you going to explain this prophecy?"
"I don't believe in prophecy," Marietta said. "The only ones you hear about are those people go out of their way to make come true."
"Well, that sounds fairly accurate. Both Voldemort and Dumbledore have been very active in making sure the prophecy comes true." All four of the girls flinched at the mention of the Riddle's nom de guerre. "It predicts the coming of someone capable of vanquishing the Dark Lord 'as the seventh month dies', which matched up to my birthday on the 31st of July. Then the Dark Lord will mark him his equal," I pointed to his scar, "and I, evidently will have a power the Dark Lord knows not. No idea what that is, Dumbledore tells me he believes its 'love'."
Susan furrowed her brow. "Love? Is that why he manufactured this marriage?"
I shrugged. "I don't know, why not? That makes as much sense as any other reason I've come up with to explain this. Although 'just because he can' is still my leading theory. Anyway, either I kill Voldemort or he kills me. I'm doing my damnedest to make me the one who does the killing."
Silence reigned at the table for several moments. I sighed and asked the question I had been thinking about all day long. "So, is anyone else noticing anything different about themselves?"
The women shared looks. "What do you mean?" Romilda asked.
"All day long I've been noticing things. Like how stupid I've been on so many subjects. I've been seeing patterns that I never noticed before. Sue said that you all will be healthier, stronger and possibly smarter due to the marriage bond. I think that's working back my way as well. I think you've made me smarter."
"I've lost some weight," Millie said quietly. "I've been firming up all over. I thought I might be imagining things, but I noticed my clothes were looser than normal this morning."
"I've not noticed anything," Marietta said. I mean it's only been two days… It might be that you're just seeing in yourselves what you expect to see."
"Mari's right," Susan agreed. "It is awfully soon. The Harem effect is supposed to change us all, but surely not overnight."
I nodded, what they were saying made sense, but that didn't change how my outlook at so many things had changed since yesterday. When we finished with dinner, I noticed all four of the witches checking their reflection in the dining room mirror, looking for changes.
We spent the evening reading and in quiet conversation in the sitting room. Romilda, it turns out still hadn't finished her summer assignments, so Sue, Millie and I assisted her as best we could, while Mari played at the piano.
Let me state for the record that I have no appreciation for or understanding of music. Oh, the primary school I attended tried to wedge some music into my tin ear, but they weren't too successful. It was quickly noted that I was incapable of even keeping the beat on a tambourine. That personal failing aside, what Mari produced at the piano made even a philistine like me sit back and take notice. I didn't recognize a single tune she played, but it was amazingly beautiful. I tried to tell her so, but she seemed uncomfortable speaking with me.
Romilda was the first of us to tire, putting away her books and heading for her room at nine thirty, giving me a wistful look as she passed by my chair. Seeing her unhappy had me silently cursing Dumbledore yet again. What the hell was he playing at using a young girl in a situation like this? It couldn't possibly be healthy for her.
At ten I stood and excused myself to Mari, Sue and Millie. Despite my new found (or perhaps simply newly imagined) clarity of thought, I found myself wondering where we were going. All my life I had dreamed of having a family, and now it appeared that I had been granted my wish. Sort of anyway. Somehow I had always pictured that family being a wife, myself and what ever children we were graced with. I never really imagined the possibility of four wives, all of us young, one far too young.
Being associated with me made them all targets… Of course Susan was already a target, and Millie's life as a half blood in a family of rabid blood purists couldn't have been all that comfortable. I was a little ashamed that I knew nothing of Romilda's family and little of Marietta's beyond her mother worked at the Ministry and had been pressured into pressuring Marietta into betraying the DA to Umbitch last year.
Entering my suite I prepared for bed, grabbing a pair of my new boxers and a tee shirt for sleepwear. As painful as the shopping expedition had been, having clothing that fit was a feeling that I dearly wanted to become used to.
While performing my evening ablutions I pondered my wives. How did I truly feel about them? For Romilda, I sadly felt almost nothing, which was made sadder by the crush the girl felt for me. For Mariette… also nothing. She's brilliant, resourceful, an amazing pianist, and an entertaining person in a conversation, but I still had the feeling that she didn't like me in the slightest.
Then there was Millicent and Susan. I definitely felt something for them, but was it true affection or just lust? At the time I wished I knew how to tell the difference. It had only been two days at that point, and one of those I spent hiding from them all. It was probably lust. I had to be honest with myself. Most definitely lust. Probably.
I exited the bath pulling on my tee shirt to find Marietta sitting on my bed.
"Hello Husband," she said formally.
"Hello… What should I call you? Marietta? I heard Sue call you Mari all day, but…"
"Mari is fine," she said quietly, not meeting my eyes. "It's a family name, and we're, well, family."
"Why are you here Mari?" I asked.
"I am here to fulfill my obligations to my husband," she said pulling her blouse from the waistband of her skirt.
Wait," I said, taking her hands in mine. "Do you want to be here with me?"
She still wouldn't meet my eyes. "What I want has little to do with our situation Husband."
"I know the feeling Wife," I answered. "Neither of us chose this marriage, but if you don't want to share my bed, there is no requirement that you do so, not in this house."
"Why? What's wrong with me?" Mari asked, clearly distressed.
"Nothing is wrong with you." I smiled. "I'll admit that there was a time this last year when I wouldn't have poured water on you if you were on fire, but I realize that situation wasn't one of your making, and you really little choice in what happened. You were pressured into it by people who should have been looking to protect you. We will move on with our relationship at what ever speed you want. If you change your mind next week, next month, next year, never, it's all ok with me." I reached out to brush a bit of her curly red hair from her eyes. "Go to bed Mari. Come back when you want to be with me, if you're ever truly comfortable doing so."
Her eyes got very large, I found myself wondering why I had never noticed how pretty she was before this. Then she smiled. "Good night Harry."
I walked her to the door. "Good night Mari."
The door closed behind her and I turned back to my bed. The large empty bed. I was a bit depressed at the thought of not having someone in it with me. That was when I realized what I had been thinking.
I started laughing at myself. From famine to feast and back to famine. I had an excuse for this, I was sixteen. I was supposed to be a self centered egomaniac.
Still chuckling, I extinguished the lights and crawled between the sheets. It didn't take long for me to fall asleep.
I woke to the darkness feeling the mattress move as someone joined me in bed.
"I went to the kitchen for a glass of milk to help me sleep," Millie's voice whispered in my ear as she cuddled into my back. "I found Mari there doing the same. If she's skipping her turn, I'm takin' it."
"She ok?" I asked sleepily.
"Right as rain, though she's wondering if she made the right choice. I think you're right Husband. The bond is already having its way with us. I've lost more weight today, and I'm not thinking of turning you over to the Dark Lord anymore. I'm thinking I'll be keeping you for myself and the others."
"Of course, you're an evil Slytherin, so you would say that," I teased enjoying the feel of her against me. Feast again.
"Pleasant dreams," she said pulling me closer. "In the morning I find out if you learned anything from Sue."
My last conscious thought as sleep reclaimed me was that I could get used to this.
The month passed much in the manner of the first few days. Romilda was a bit miffed at my unwillingness to take her to bed, and Marietta seemed to actually like me on occasions, and we made an unescorted trip to Diagon or Hogsmeade once a week. Hermione and Ron both came over once, but not together. That struck me as odd, but given the crusade Hermione chose to pursue, it was probably a good thing.
Hermione's visit on the first Friday after the formation of my new family was memorable. She had researched the Harem Effect and decided that she needed to hold a meeting of my wives to discuss the protection of their virtues from me.
"Harry hasn't touched me," Romilda said impatiently after Hermione had finished. "No matter what I ask or offer, he says I'm too young."
"Well, thank goodness for that." Hermione sniffed, while I wondered how long it would take for her to forgive me if I kicked her out of the house.
"He has yet to be intimate with me as well," Mari said. "Though I'm not all that sure just why you feel the inner workings of our marriage is any of your business."
"I'm concerned about the fact that you seem to have been forced into this… perversion of a marriage by the headmaster," The tic above Hermione's left eye was starting to show itself. Never a good sign.
"Frankly, Granger," Millie drawled... What's with all the drawling from the Slytherins? Is there a class on the subject that was part of the house indoctrination? "I think I'd prefer it if our husband WAS the pervert you paint him to be. A girl needs variety, you know, but I still haven't gotten him to use the silk scarves on me."
I have to say that the colors that flashed across Hermione's face weren't flattering. It reminded me a little of Uncle Vernon in his 'incipient stroke' mode.
Hermione finally decided to settle on 'Lecture Mode'! "You're all blinded by outmoded cultural norms! It's almost the twenty first century, you aren't property, you should be able to say no to all this." Her voice becoming louder and louder. "You're all being changed by this marriage bond; the Harem Effect is controlling you. Well, I won't stand by and watch four intelligent women subjugated to the whims of any man, not even Harry. I'll do what I have to do to have this sham of a marriage over turned, and I'll do this alone if I have to!" She got about five paces into her dramatic storming exit from the room when she came up against Susan's glowing wand-tip. Hermione squeaked and fell backwards onto her backside, suddenly pale.
"Actually," Sue said thoughtfully, "I think we'd all like to know whose side you are on. It seems odd that a girl who is allegedly our husband's 'best friend' should be so quick to think the worst of him."
"Who are you to have our marriage 'over turned'?" Mari asked adding her wand to the question.
"And so what if our marriage is non-conventional?" Millie joined in, producing her wand as well.
"If you do anything to hurt our family, we'll make you wish you were never born." Romilda agreed, also drawing her wand.
That was when I escorted Hermione to the hearth so that she could make her getaway. "Hermione, you can't do around doing that."
"Why did they react like that?"
"They don't have the years of exposure to you that I do. They don't understand how excitable you are." I said knowing as I said it that it was the wrong thing to say."
"Excitable? Excitable?" Hermione was shouting again.
"Hermione, calm down. Yes, you're excitable, listen to yourself, shouting at everyone when things don't conform to your world view. You insulted them when you challenged their culture like that, how would you like it? In fact how did you like it when Malfoy did it to you and your parents?"
"I'm not like that." She protested.
"Not when you think things through, no you're not, but when things happen that upset you you've got a tendency to over react a bit. Like how you know that I'm molesting these girls. You haven't thought this through. You know me; you know I would never do any of the things you accuse me of."
"But you're sleeping with them."
"We're married Hermione. Yes, Millie and Susan have shared my bed, willingly. I've told Romilda she's too young, or she would be there too. Mari started this relationship hating me, but that is changing through the bond, as has my feelings for her, for all of them. I don't think any of us love the others yet, but we will. We're getting there."
"It's wrong Harry, all of this is just wrong."
I looked into her big brown eyes sadly, wondering if I was losing her as a friend. "What's wrong is your assumption that I am some kind of monster preying on them just because I'm male. You can't attack someone's culture like you've been doing. And you can't accuse me of horrible things because of what you assume is happening between the members of my family."
"So if I want to be your friend I have to shut up, is that it?" She asked, her anger building again.
"You will always be my friend Hermione," I said, hoping it was true. "What you can't do is come to our home and tell my wives that they and the culture they grew up in is wrong and you are going to save them, no matter what they think. I can't allow you to do that, because if I did, then I would be the monster you seem to believe me to be, allowing you to hurt them like that."
As I watched her anger faded, and tears formed in her eyes. Hermione whirled from me to face the fireplace, tossed in a handful of floo powder and murmured a destination before vanishing into the green flames.
Hermione didn't return to the house for the rest summer, and she didn't respond to the owls I sent.
On August 31st Ron came over and the two of us took our brooms out for a morning of flying and general purpose goofing off. We had a blast and wasted an entire morning. It was great. When we landed in front of the front entryway of the manor house, Ron and I trooped into the house laughing and shoving each other, looking to have a little lunch.
We found the women in the sitting room and were greeted by an icy silence. I looked to Ron and he looked to me. More silence. I think we both realized that there was no way that could possibly be good. Susan, Millie, and Romilda sat glaring at us. Mari was reclined on one of the sofas with what appeared to be a damp flannel over her eyes.
"Where have you been?" Millicent snapped.
Like an idiot I answered truthfully. "We were just out flying."
"Flying," Susan sniffed. "Just out flying. We leave for Hogwarts tomorrow; this house is no where near being ready to close up for three and a half months and you were out flying."
"But we talked about this last night; no one said anything about wanting to do anything special to the house." I looked about the room at four very obviously angry witches.
Ron on the other hand had evidently seen something like this before and wanted no part of it. "Uh, Harry… I've got to be going. Walk me to the floo?"
"Harry isn't going anywhere with you." Marietta said, lifting the flannel from her eyes and giving me a pained look.
"You're as bad as Granger." Romilda growled. "You're both trying to take Harry away from us."
"No, really I'm not," Ron stammered out, backing out of the room, leaving me to my fate. Again. Though in all honesty, I didn't blame him in the least.
"Mari, are you alright?" I asked, not understanding what was happening.
"Oh, now you care." Marietta answered from under the flannel. "I've got a migraine Harry, if that's alright with you."
Ok, that was something I could deal with. Aunt Petunia got migraines and became even more of a bitch than normal. "I've always heard that light can make migraines worse, wouldn't you be more comfortable in your room?
"Oh, so anytime I'm not one hundred percent, your first impulse is to get rid of me?" She asked, suddenly infuriated.
It was obvious that anything I said was going to turn out to be wrong, so I decided to give silence a try. Three of them stared at me and Mari pressed her flannel back over her eyes. This wasn't working, all I was doing was managing to feel guilty.
Sue began rocking in her chair, her hands moving to her stomach. "Hurts," she whimpered.
I looked to the others; Millie came to my rescue, jerking her head toward Sue. I knelt in front of her "Can I help?"
"Cramps," she whispered. "Hurts bad."
I was so far out of my depth it wasn't funny. The only thing I knew about cramps was that I sometimes got them when I didn't stretch before exercise, and I'd never got one in my stomach. "Would a hot bath help?"
"It never has before."
I ended up with Susan cuddled against me on my right side while I rubbed her stomach with my right hand and Romilda on my lap crying her eyes out. When Susan had said that their cycles would synchronize, I never imagined it would come to this.
It rapidly became a very long day. Each of the women reacted differently to the synchronization (and amplification?) of their menstrual cycles. Susan was in pain from cramps and her breasts became very sensitive. Romilda seemed to cry all the time. Mari had her migraine and Millie… she had mood swings more extreme than I ever imagined possible. At one point she became so angry at me she was screaming her lungs out, then suddenly clapped her hand over her mouth and rushed from the room.
Concerned I followed to finding her vomiting in the toilet. What could I do? I held her hair until she was finished throwing up what appeared to be everything she had eaten in the last two weeks, and then I tried to help her clean up and get the taste out of her mouth.
I said 'tried'. Evidently my simply being there infuriated her to no end. She chased me from the bathroom with threats of violence.
Despite the tears, pain, threats of violence and other discoveries of what I was doing to them, we somehow got through the day. I got Sue, Mari and Romilda to take a bit of soup before tucking each of the girls into their own beds. (Millie had her normal meal, enjoyed it, and then got sick again. I helped her clean up again, and she started crying, telling me over and over that she hated being 'weak'. I tried to tell her that her weakness was stronger than I ever thought about being, but that seemed to make her mad again. Still, I got her into bed and she didn't seem all that angry anymore.
Then I got into trouble with Winky because I cleaned the bathroom after Millie was sick. I'd never been yelled at by an elf before; it was a whole lot like being yelled at by Aunt Petunia, only with less hitting and a generalized higher level of respect. I am absolutely never going to understand women or elves, and that goes double for female elves.
When I got to my own room that night I was never more thankful for being male. From what Sue and Mari had told me I knew that some how my magic was amplifying the symptoms of their menstrual cycles, but everything I'd seen had to be there in the first place in order to be amplified. I couldn't imagine having my own body do that to me. Yep, good to be male.
I settled into bed to try and sleep, all the while wondering what the next day would bring. I was suddenly very aware I had no idea how long a woman's period lasted.
My door opened. "Harry?"
"Mari? What is it?" I asked.
"I'm hurting so bad." She said softly.
"Should I send for a healer? Do you need to go to St. Mungos?"
"No," the Ravenclaw said softly, "Could I spend the night with you?"
"Come on then," I said, pulling the sheets open for her.
We didn't speak again that night. Marietta lay next to me on her left side, I spooned behind her, softly rubbing her stomach until we both fell asleep. I spent that time wondering if they would be alright for the train ride back to school.