A Boon for Bill
a HP fanfic by canoncansodoff

A/N: Manic-mode writing and a runaway plot turned a two-part chapter into three parts (and counting). Might not have been that way had the response to the Snape-bashing (and dunking) not been so favorable. So it continues in this chapter, and almost overshadows the boon granting and present unwrapping that is nominally the climax of the story. Thanks to alix33 for some feedback on plot elements in the split-off back end that will become Chapter 16.

Disclaimer: Not my characters, no money being made, etc. , etc.

oo00OO00oo

Chapter 15: Joyeux anniversaire (Part 2)

12:40 GMT (1:40pm CET)
Ministry of Magic
Department of Magical Surveillance and Security

The Big Board monitors were still laughing about the reports of spell casting in Titty Hill and Shitterton when the Ministry's magical surveillance network identified the latest place where magic was being used in a primarily Muggle area. The flashing point on the wall-sized map of the British Isles was sitting somewhere in East London, but the map's scale was too large to pinpoint a more exact location. That level of detail was provided within the piece of parchment that flew out of a slot at the bottom of the monitoring device.

"Hey Rookie, it's your turn!" one of the monitors noted.

The newest member of the team levitated the piece of parchment onto his desk and chuckled.

"It's a detect magic spell in Mymum Squim," he stated with a straight face.

One of the others asked, "Why would anyone want to look for magic in Mymum Squim?"

"Why indeed?" the rookie monitor asked….just before he broke out in laughter. This laughter kept the new employee from noticing that the auto-correcting parchment in his hands had flashed white, indicating that an update had been made.

His shift supervisor noticed, however, and was not amused by the lack of attention.

"Davis!" she barked. "Take another look at that report!"

The rookie monitor looked down at the parchment, then looked back over his shoulder towards his supervisor and winced.

"Sorry, Mum,"" he replied. "It's more of the same, in a place called Beckton."

"Beckton?" the supervisor asked.

"East London, Mum."

"I know where Beckton is, Mr. Davis," the shift leader spat. "Just read off the full list of spells cast."

"Yes, Mum," Davis replied. "The initial report was for a Confundus, a detection charm, and an Apparition jump. The update just added three Scourgify spells, two laundering charms, a breath freshening charm, an Accio, and a second Apparition jump."

The shift supervisor snorted, and shook her head.

"And so ends another shitty treasure hunt," she declared. "Put it in the 'No Action' pile and move on."

"Yes, Mum."

"Oh, and Davis? You can count on spending the rest of your probationary period working the graveyard shift."

"Yes, Mum. Sorry again, Mum."

The slightly confused but highly discouraged monitor turned back towards his desk top and filed the parchment in the appropriate out box.

The wizard manning the adjacent desk leaned over and said, "Hey Rook, you sure picked a fine time to forget your place."

"Don't I know it," the younger wizard sighed. "So what's the story with the No Action? Seems like a lot of magic being done a fair distance from any magical area."

"We've seen it a few times before," the older wizard replied. "Beckton is where the Muggles dump their chamber pots."

"So when she said shitty treasure hunt she was being literal?" the rookie asked.

Anomalous magic lit up Metropolitan Manchester on the Big Board, limiting the older wizard's reply to a nod of the head as he levitated the new report into his hands.

"Oh, Christ…bit early, isn't it?" he muttered.

His supervisor glanced at the Big Board, noted the flashing dot's location, and asked, "Rochdale?"

"Yes, Mum, 133 Tweedale Street," the monitor reported. "Sounds like a party… three lubrication charms this time."

"Just file it and move on."

"Yes, Mum," the monitor said. "So how much longer before the Big Board realizes that there's a magic wand at that Muggle street address?"

"Not soon enough, in my opinion."

"Yes, Mum."

The shift supervisor shook her head in disgust. She had dispatched a response team to that Muggle address three weeks previous. That response team had caught a prominent member of the Wizengamot in bed with the Muggle homeowner, taking ten inches of Muggle up his arse. That led to her to taking it up the bum (figuratively, but no less painfully) when that Wizengamot member had complained to her boss.

The Board lit up a new location in the Orkney Islands, and a third monitor grabbed the latest piece of parchment and scanned its contents. The supervisor looked down from her desk and asked, "Anything, Michaelson?"

"It's Twatt, Mum," he replied.

"Michaelson!" the supervisor bellowed. "Do we need to have another little chat about appropriate language in the workplace?"

"No, Mum," the wizard said defensively. "Somebody really is checking out Twatt."

"Let me see that!"

"Yes, Mum," the monitor replied. He nervously walked up to the supervisor's station and gave her the parchment. The supervisor read what was written, then let out a deep breath.

"Listen up, everybody," she said. "You might think that these reports are all just another prank, courtesy of the Weasley Twins."

"Exactly what I think," muttered the monitor who was standing next to her.

"But we can't afford to assume the obvious after that bridge collapse, or the giant attack," the supervisor declared. "Multiple uses the same detection spell, all being cast within the span of an hour at different locations with naughty-sounding names….could easily be diversions. Or maybe a way of getting us to shut down the Big Board to check for malfunctions just before a massive Death Eater attack takes place."

"I could see that," one of the monitors whispered.

"So we aren't going to fall for their tricks!" the supervisor declared. "Quit acting like seven-year old boys tittering over a lad rag! Ignore the locations, and focus in on the spells that are being cast! There's something big afoot, and we're going to spot it!"

"Yes, Mum!" the monitors all replied.

The supervisor's words were fresh in the youngest monitor's mind when it was his turn to catch a report a few minutes later.

"Bloody Hell!" he hissed

"What?" his colleague asked.

"It's an apparition, some transfigurations, and a couple of Point Me's."

"Just those spells?"

"Yeah."

"Fit's the pattern, and nothing too lethal…so what's the problem?"

The rookie sighed. "The problem is that Boss Lady told us to ignore the locations."

"So?"

"So the location is Heathrow Airport."

"Ah," the older wizard said. He stood up from his desk and held out his hand. "Right, then…give it here."

After the new monitor complied with the request, his colleague walked up to the shift supervisor's desk and placed the parchment on her desk. The "open office" privacy charm surrounding the supervisor's work area kept the newbie from hearing the short conversation that followed.

"Nice catch," the Board monitor said, once he returned to his desk. "She's got a close-up of Heathrow locked in on her desk monitor, and has put the backup response teams on alert."

"Good," the rookie replied.

"You're out of her krup house, as well," his colleague added.

"Even better…does that mean I won't have to do graveyard shift for the next six months?"

The older wizard shrugged. "Probably…as long as you avoid giggling the next time that a report comes in from Fanny Squirt or Todgertown."

"Are those real places?"

The older wizard shrugged a second time. "After what we've seen the past hour? Wouldn't be surprised if they were."

oo00OO00oo

Terminal 3, Heathrow Airport

A scowl formed on Albus Dumbledore's face when his Confundus spell couldn't convince the Qantas gate agent that he needed to board the Sydney-bound 747 that had just pushed back from the gate. He decided that the authoritative Muggle was unique, and possessed some innate resistance to his magic-enhanced suggestions. Little did he realize that being able to completely resist this kind of desperate passenger plea was a job requirement for each and every Muggle gate agent working within the terminal.

The agent's suspicions were raised when Dumbledore wasn't able to immediately produce a credible ticket and passport for rebooking purposes. The thought of casting an Imperio curse crossed the Headmaster's mind, before he decided that there were simpler and far less noticeable ways to stop Harry Potter (or at least stop one of his pubic hairs) from traveling to Australia.

Smart enough and observant enough to know there would be trouble if he tried to magically unlock one of the ramp access doors or vanish the glass window that looked out onto the tarmac, Dumbledore slipped into the nearest men's room, locked himself within a stall, cast the ever-handy Notice-me-not charm, and apparated directly onto the ramp.

The red-tailed jumbo jet had turned the corner and was disappearing from view by the time that Dumbledore reappeared outside. He quickly drew out his wand, took aim, and cast a long-distance piercing hex towards the nearest landing gear tire. Not having a firm idea of the rubber tire's puncture resistance, Dumbledore overpowered the spell just enough to ensure the job was done. This was enough power for the magical projectile to travel not only through the targeted tire, but through the tire directly next to it, as well as through both of the rear tires on the bogie on the other side of the fuselage.

The pilot's reaction was almost as fast as his airplane's alarm system. It was all-but impossible for four tires to go flat all at the same time…especially when the tires immediately in front of them retained nominal air pressure. The easiest explanation was that somebody positioned perpendicular to the airplane had just shot a bullet through the tires.

This was also the scariest explanation, and it took a bit of doing for the pilot to calmly relay what had happened to the control tower.

Dumbledore was pleased to see the jumbo jet come to a full stop. He was less enthusiastic about the wailing alarm horns, or the Muggle Auror vehicles that were speeding towards the area. And he didn't at all care to hear the distinct cracks of more than twenty different Apparitions, all linked to the arrival of Auror teams that had been dispatched by the Ministry's Department of Magical Surveillance and Security.

Discretion was the better part of valor, even when you were the most powerful wizard in the world (at least in your own mind). Dumbledore activated an emergency portkey that quickly and safely carried him away from the scene.

He landed on his feet, in his Hogwarts office, directly in front of the tracking map that he had modelled after the Ministry's Big Board. There were less spots on that map, after Order members had (presumably) retrieved and destroyed individual hairs at some of the assigned locations. But plenty more remained, and at least three additional spots were bouncing off the edge of the map.

The aging wizard thought about the spot that still hovered over Heathrow. He wondered how long it would take for the airplane linked to that spot to get off the ground and start towards its destination. Dumbledore's eyes then shifted beyond the frame to the office wall upon which that frame hung. And he wondered whether there would be enough wall space to accommodate an enlarged tracking map, drawn at the same scale, that would be big enough to extend Down Under.

oo00OO00oo

Chateau Delacour

Fleur found her mother out on the grounds of family's seaside estate, sharing a cool drink with Hermione's mum as they watched Hermione's father hit golf balls out into the sea. Apolline Delacour smiled when she spotted her older daughter, and called for her to join them. Roger's attention shifted from the flight path of his latest drive over towards the three women. He smiled, tipped the brim of his visor towards Fleur, then turned his attention towards the face of his golf club, and to the house elf caddy standing next to his golf bag.

Fleur's gaze shifted from Hermione's dad to her mother's leg-baring cleavage-showing sundress. She shook her head in slight disbelief at the amount of exposed skin on display, then said, "Emily, I am impressed by your husband's strength of focus in the face of Maman's…distractions."

The Muggle woman acknowledged the observation with a thin grin.

"We just had to find a stronger distraction," she replied. "Golf is my husband's mistress."

Fleur frowned. "But I thought that Monty Python was his greatest love?"

Apolline arched an eyebrow, and asked, "Your husband has a male lover? How interesting."

Emily's explanation about Monty Python not actually being a real person caused Apolline to break out into laughter that was loud enough to mess up Roger's backswing.

He waved off the French witch's apology, then addressed the charmed golf ball that had magically reappeared on his golf tee.

Mrs. Delacour reached across the patio table and covered Emily's hand.

"It is the same with politics for my Paul," the other wife noted. "He would spend less time away from home if he had a real mistress."

"Probably spend less money on her as well," Emily agreed.

"We are very much alike, I think," Apolline noted. "Perhaps we should not be surprised that our daughters have become such good friends?"

"I think you are right."

With this agreement in hand, the French witch turned towards her daughter and asked, "So where have you been, my little flower? We were beginning to worry about you and your beau."

"Everything is fine, Maman," Fleur insisted. "Papa's valet is helping Bill dress for the meeting.

"Dare I ask who is helping dress Harry?" asked Hermione's mother.

Fleur laughed. "He is also with Papa's valet, Mrs. Granger," she insisted. "And Papa's valet is not shy about limiting…distractions…while he goes about his work."

"Bernie kicked you out of the dressing room as well, ma Cherie?" Apolline teased.

"But of course," Fleur said matter-of-factly.

"So I have him to thank for finally allowing me a bit of time with my daughter," her mother said with smile. "Where are Hermione and Gabrielle, then?"

"In the little terror's bedroom," Fleur replied. "Gabby wanted her Alpha's help dressing for the beach."

Emma chuckled. "I guess it's only fair, we found Gabrielle helping Hermione nap just after lunch."

"Really?" Fleur asked. She yawned, and said, "A nap sounds nice…perhaps I will take one on the beach, while Bill and Harry are at their meeting."

"You wouldn't rather wait until Bill could help you nap?" her mother teased.

Fleur shook her head. "If the meeting goes as planned, my fiancé and I will have better things to do than to nap."

"Even more sex?" Apolline asked with a tinge of surprise. "My lord, Fleur, it is going to fall off if you keeping riding him at this rate!"

"Maman!" Fleur said in faux shock. "You know that we practice safe sex…there is no danger of Bill's penis falling off."

"So what is the danger of his penis being rubbed raw from overuse?" Apolline countered.

Fleur shrugged. "There are magical salves for that, no?"

Mother and daughter shared some giggles, before the older witch turned towards Emily and said, "I must apologize…you must think our conversation scandalous!"

The Muggle dentist thought about some of the explicit discussions that she had shared with her daughter earlier that Summer, and shook her head.

"Please, there is no need to apologize…I think that it is wonderful that your daughter is able to speak of these things with you."

"But, still…"

Emily reached out and covered her hostess's hand. "I can only hope that Hermione will continue to feel the same way towards me now that her relationship with her boyfriend has…matured."

Hermione's mum then looked up at Fleur and added, "And I must thank you for being so supportive of my daughter these past weeks, when I couldn't be there for her."

"It was my pleasure, Emily," Fleur said brightly. "I love Hermione like the sister that I never had."

"Fleur!" her mother chided. "You never had a sister?"

"Not one who is close enough in age for us to talk freely about boys and their broomsticks," Fleur countered. "No matter what little Gabrielle thinks!"

A triumphant shout interrupted the conversation. The women turned towards the source and watched in amusement as Roger Granger dropped to one knee and hugged his house elf caddy.

"Finally, Emily…a three-hundred yard drive!" he joyfully called out. "I LOVE MAGIC!"

Hermione's mum couldn't help but shake her head.

"Said the same thing this morning in the shower," she noted. "But if it keeps him happily distracted…"

Fleur nodded in agreement as she cast a Tempus charm. "Harry and Bill must soon leave for the Ministry," she noted. "Shall we go see them off?"

"You go two go on," said Apolline. "I will stay and make sure that Emily's husband does not over exert himself within the arms of his mistress."

Hermione's mum shook her head as she rose from her chair. "Are you sure? He has twelve more clubs in that golf bag…you might be here a while."

Apolline smiled. "Let him tire himself…then maybe it will be easier for the golf clubs to magically disappear once you and your husband join your daughter up in the mountains."

Fleur chuckled. "A man without his mistress…what would he do with all of the extra time?"

Emily responded by coyly asking about the efficacy of magical salves on Muggle penises.

oo00OO00oo

Ministère des Affaires gobelin
Ministère Français De La Magie, Paris

The lengthy meeting agenda and the desire of everyone involved to get through that agenda made for short introductions once Bill and Harry arrived at the French ministry and entered the treaty room. There was a French arbitrator on hand to make sure that the two sides didn't come to blows or draw wands. This required all of the meeting participants to check their wands and weapons into separate lockers that were built into one wall. Harry only had his wand to store, which gave him lots of time to stare slack-jawed at his account manager's secretary as she pulled one hand weapon after another out from underneath her dress.

Once the arbiter was satisfied that the room was safe and secured, he invited the two parties to take seats at the treaty table. Chokebar and his secretary Malice moved to one side of the table while Harry sat down on the opposite side. Bill Weasley hesitated for a moment before deciding to join his Gringotts co-workers on their side of the table. This generated a few raised eyebrows, but no questions; Harry and Bill had talked about this action in advance of the meeting, and the goblins were focused on actions more than symbolic gestures.

With little fanfare and even less instruction, Chokebar pushed a small jewelry box across the table. Harry opened the box and removed an oversized gold ring.

"So what do I have to do with this?" he asked.

"Third finger of his right hand," Chokebar replied tersely.

"No statement to make, or anything like that?"

The account manager chuckled. "Oh, no worries, Mr. Potter. If the ring determines you lacking as Head of House, it will definitely make a statement."

Harry turned towards Bill, who gave him a reassuring nod of the head. The younger wizard took a deep breath, and slipped the Potter Head of House ring onto the indicated finger. That the ring fit perfectly, without need for any magical type of resizing, was probably just another example of goblin planning and information gathering. That the ring seemed to accept him as Head of House was reassuring. That there was no blinding light or rush of knowledge or power surge within Harry's body was almost anticlimactic, given all of the trouble that both sides of the treaty table had gone to reach that point.

The head of house Potter looked across the table towards Bill and asked, "So that's it, then?"

Chokebar his account manager let out a short breath. "That was all that was required to claim your lordship, Lord Potter. It certainly wasn't the last item on our agreed-upon meeting agenda."

"Right," said Harry. He looked down at the agenda in front of him and asked "So now it's time for me to conduct some family business?"

The French arbitrator shrugged. Chokebar nodded. Malice, his secretary, just sat there like the quiet, subservient secretary that she was supposed to be (at least in public). Bill said, "Sounds good to me," and rose from his chair.

When Harry stood and turned towards the red-haired wizard, Bill dropped to one knee.

"What business bring you before the House of Potter?" the new lord asked.

Bill bowed his head, held his clamped hands out, and replied, "I wish to swear fealty, milord."

Harry nodded as he covered Bill's hands with his own, making certain that his Head of House ring was in contact with Bill's skin. Then he winced, realizing that he'd forgotten his next line from the script that they'd drawn up for the occasion. Hoping for the best, Harry released a breath and said, "Erm…well…go on, then."

Bill couldn't stop himself from looking up at Harry and cracking a smile. The smile stayed on his face as he declared his oath.

"I, William of the House of Weasley, do become your liege man of life and limb. My wand, my trust and my truth I will bear unto you to live among and die against all manner of beast and beings."

The younger wizard standing in front of Bill nodded, and replied, "I, Harry, Head of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter, do accept William of the House of Weasley into service as my liege man. By the grace of God, Her Majesty the Queen, and all that is magical, within this world and the next. So Mote it Be."

An even wider grin formed on Bill's face as he rose to pull Harry into a manly hug. The younger wizard pushed him off and said, "Let's get to the good part, liege man."

Bill lowered his gaze and subserviently groveled, "Yes, milord."

Harry shook his head and sighed. "William of House Weasley, bring you business before your liege lord?"

"Please, milord, I ask that you grant me a boon."

"A boon, you say?" Harry asked (intentionally going off-script). "Not one minute into my service, and already you're asking for favors?"

Bill cleared his throat and said, "Erm…yes, milord."

"Right then, a boon Bill shall have," Harry quipped. "For loyal service, I grant you….a shrubbery."

Bill's head jerked up and asked. "What?"

Harry chuckled, "Nah, just messing with you. Do you have something specific in mind?"

The older wizard sighed. "I humbly beseech milord to convey to me as a boon any and all claims, favors, and life-debts that he may hold over Fleur Delacour."

"Hmmm," said Harry, as he scratched his chin. "Have to think about this…oh, alright then." As he grinned from ear-to-ear, Harry placed a hand on Bill's shoulder and said, "I grant the boon that you have requested. So Mote it Be."

The teen-aged wizard pulled his hand free from Bill's shoulder and asked, "So now what?"

Bill rose from the floor and said, "Now I pull you into a manly hug and say thank you, over and over again."

Harry reached out and hugged Bill first. "One thank you and one hug is enough, Mate…so long as you promise to help me convince Gabby that she's not boon-eligible too."

"Fair enough," said Bill. He slapped Harry on the back, and then turned towards the goblins sitting on the other side of the table.

"Senior Account Manager Chokebar, in light of my service to the House of Potter, I must regretfully inform you that I can no longer continue my employment with Gringott's under the previously agreed upon terms and conditions."

The goblin shook his head and rolled his eyes. "Duly noted, Weasley. So take a seat next your new liege lord, and if there's time at the end of the meeting maybe we can start negotiating a new employment contract."

"Thanks for understanding," Bill replied, as he sat down opposite the two goblins.

That Bill could still provide Gringott's with some valuable service as Harry's liege man was then proven over the next ten minutes, as he guided the new head of House Potter through the signing of a legal will and the new financial services agreement that continued to offer the goblins a massive profit incentive as they managed his accounts.

oo00OO00oo

Inner Circle Road, Regent's Park
London

The most annoying thing about Severus Snape's second assigned location within the Order of the Phoenix's Wild Hair Chase was the number of potential street addresses along the road that bordered Regent's Park in Central London. Almost as annoying was the cab driver's initial refusal to allow Snape into his vehicle, due to the residual stench that had resisted his Scourgify spells and laundering charms. It took a well-crafted Confundus to convince this second cabbie that he was the source of the dung bomb equivalent, and to be so apologetic about the spell that he offered Snape a free ride to his destination.

Two laps around Regent's Park along Inner Circle Road were needed to nail down the target location to a spot within the very same zoo where Harry Potter had liberated a snake several years previous. Snape needed to cast an overpowered Notice-me-not charm to avoid getting caught as he jumped over the admissions gate and entered the zoo's grounds. The spell's effect wasn't strong enough to neutralize the stink, however, which led to a series of encounters that even a dour potions master couldn't help but find amusing…arguments broke out, dirty looks were exchanged and vehement denials were made as he passed by tourists who were less interested in the exhibits than in arguing over who within the crowd had just released a most outrageous fart.

Detection charms brought Snape into Tiger Territory, and zeroed in on one specific Sumatran tiger within the recently refurbished exhibit. The potions master considered magical cross-breeding within the tiger's ancestry, but realized that he wasn't close enough to cast the complex diagnostic spell that would identify the beast as a magical potions ingredient.

Snape's stunning spell left other visitors wondering why the tiger had suddenly decided to plop down for a nap. A short line-of-sight apparition brought the noisome wizard alongside the tiger. He cast the spell that identified the two-meter long male cat as 100% non-magical. This got him excited, and this excitement grew when point-blank detection spells isolated something magical within the tiger's gut.

Visions of Potter being mauled, dismembered and digested danced within the delighted wizard's head as he considered the possibility of his nemesis' demise. A quick notice-me-not charm applied to the stunned tiger allowed Snape to transfigure it into a finger-sized plastic toy without raising the suspicions of the zoo visitors on the other side of the fencing. He then placed the toy into his bag, and grabbed hold of his wand with the intention of apparating back to Hogsmeade.

Focusing in on the three D's, he didn't notice the stealthy approach of the transfigured tiger's mate. While she couldn't "notice" Snape due to the notice-me-not charm, her well-developed sense of smell made her even more irritated by the residual sewage stink than the human zoo patrons. And she expressed that irritation by a very load roar that disrupted the intruder's concentration.

Snape flinched.

Snape splinched.

oo00OO00oo

Ministère des Affaires gobelin
Ministère Français De La Magie, Paris

With the signed will and financial services agreements safely tucked away into his briefcase, Chokebar pushed a thick ledger across the Treaty Table towards Harry.

"Here is the latest accounting for House Potter."

The young lord looked at the ledger and arched an eyebrow. "That's a lot thicker than the statement I reviewed last month."

His Account Manager nodded. "Until now, we were unable to provide a complete accounting of your house's financial and legal status. You now have full access to the records of all of the various vaults, real estate holdings, titles, outstanding contracts and philanthropic responsibilities held by House Potter"

"All of my vaults and holdings?" Harry asked. "Or just the accounts that Gringott's is managing?"

Chokebar tried not to wince. "We are the exclusive estate managers for all of your land holdings, including those in North America. But as for other vaults….well, Gorechunk's would rather shed our blood than share their account ledgers with us."

"Fair to say that the same attitude applies in reverse," Bill noted.

Chokebar shrugged. "We could send one of our corporate raiding parties over there to try to obtain that financial information, but that would entail spilt blood and some hefty account fees. From your perspective, Lord Potter, it would be far cheaper and simpler for you to request an accounting in person. And to that end…."

The goblin account manager gave a nod to his secretary, who reached under her skirt and pulled out a foot-long knee-hockey stick. Bill wondered why the stick hadn't been considered a potential weapon. Harry wondered where the female goblin had been hiding the stick. Chokebar's comment answered neither question.

"That's an authorized reusable portkey good for round-trip travel between Magical France and your island in Canada," he stated. "Until they rebuild the Ottawa branch, the closest Gorechunk's office to your island is in Montreal."

Bill noticed the gleam in the goblin's eye when he mentioned the Ottawa branch. He asked if Chokebar had ever made a friendly or not-so-friendly visit to that Gorechunk's location back in his army days. The account manager grinned, and said that was a story for another day. He then asked Harry if there were any changes that he wanted to make to his portfolio now that he had unfettered command of his accounts. The teen-aged wizard chuckled as he pulled a piece of parchment from his robe pocket and pushed it across the table.

"These instructions are just based on the summary statement," Harry noted. "We'll likely want to modify that list once we've reviewed the complete ledger. But with that said…do you have any immediate comments on that list…things that we might want to act on today, rather than next week?"

Chokebar quickly scanned the list.

"None of these appear to require immediate actions," Chokebar concluded. "But if you would allow me to reserve a final answer until we do a more detailed review?"

"Sure," said Harry. "Just don't take too long…we don't know how much time I'll have before Dumbledore tries to nullify my emancipation and Lordship at the Wizengamot."

"You'll have our analysis by tomorrow morning, at the latest," the goblin promised. "And as for retaining your newly-claimed control…Dumbledore can only challenge your rights as a British citizen under British law."

Harry arched his eyebrow. "Are you talking about my Canadian citizenship?"

Chokebar nodded. "It would be your associated rights as a magical citizen of the North American Confederation, but yes."

Bill frowned. "I thought that the Confederation didn't recognize British noble titles?"

"They don't," Chokebar replied. He pointed to the list and added, "But these are financial instructions, not royal proclamations. As the age of majority within the NAC is sixteen, instead of seventeen, the loss of noble title wouldn't trigger the loss of standing as an adult wizard."

Harry nodded in understanding. "So now that I've got a liegeman and granted a boon…is there anything else that Lord Potter should attend to before that title is challenged?"

Chokebar snorted and nodded his head. "There is an unbonded house elf that has been quite persistent in his attempts to attach himself to House Potter. And while any adult with the means can bind a house elf to their own individual family, only Lord Potter is capable of binding a house elf into serving the House as a whole."

"Let me guess…his name is Dobby?" Harry asked.

His account manager nodded. "Quite an energetic little fellow, and someone who provided no small amount of support last evening in the dispersing of your tracking charms."

Harry chewed on his lower lip for a moment, then shook his head.

"Let me check with the Missus on that one, and I'll get back to you."

The teen-aged wizard thought that his response might get a laugh out of his account manager. What he got instead was agreement.

"That would seem the most prudent course of action," Chokebar noted. "Especially given her social causes."

Harry wondered just how much Gringott's knew about Hermione, then recalled just how detailed their surveillance effort was at the Burrow and decided that they might know more about her than he did.

"Shall we move on to the next item of business?" Chokebar suggested.

Harry looked down at his copy of the agenda, and saw that the next item involved House Black. He asked if Chokebar and Bill would once again provide reassurance that he wouldn't drop dead or (worse) be forced into marry Pansy Parkinson if he slipped the Black Head of House ring onto his finger. The Potter account manager told the teen-aged wizard that he had been authorized by the Board of Auditors to offer a rare lineage test that would identify all of his House associations. When Harry agreed to the test, Chokebar asked the French arbitrator to complete the necessary ritual, using the goblin-forged dagger that the account manager had surrendered at the start of the meeting. The arbiter agreed, and (after checking the dagger for poisons and curses) used the dagger point to cut Harry's finger. The drawn blood dripped onto special goblin-charmed parchment, forming a red puddle that eventually spread out to form Gobbledygook words and sentences.

As a trust-building exercise, Chokebar asked Harry's liegeman to provide the translation into English. The account manager wasn't at all surprised to hear that Harry was eligible to claim leadership of House Black. He had also correctly predicted that his client had rights as Head of House Peverell, and had the rings and ledgers on hand for those houses. But it was the final affiliation that left the goblin gobsmacked…almost as gobsmacked as his client.

"Shite!" Harry hissed. "So I really was the Heir of Slytherin all along?"

Bill didn't know what to say. Neither did Chokebar.

"How could that be?" Harry whined.

"I am sorry, but I don't really know," Chokebar admitted. "Perhaps there might be some clues within the Slytherin ledger?"

Harry shook his head. "But I wouldn't have access to that ledger unless I first claimed the title, right?"

"You might not have access, but I would," Chokebar replied. He pulled his watch out from his vest pocket and checked the time. "I could send my secretary back to London to retrieve that ledger, but she would not likely return until after the scheduled end of this meeting. I would be more than willing to extend the meeting length, if other parties agreed. The other option is to address the issue during a future meeting."

"Well I damn sure don't want this hanging over my head," Harry replied. He turned towards the French arbitrator, who replied with a Gaullic shrug.

"I am getting paid by the hour, and certainly have nothing as interesting as this to do the rest of the afternoon."

Malice was dispatched to the trans-Channel goblin tunnel sforthwith.

The arbitrator asked if the two parties wanted to take a brief recess for a breath of fresh air. Chokebar muttered a snarky comment about his preference for stale underground air, but was otherwise amenable to a break. Harry was all for the idea, but had no chance to take in any fresh air…at least not beyond the breath freshening charm that his liege man provided after he rushed to the loo and lost his lunch.

oo00OO00oo

24 Grosvenor Square, London

The U.S. Marines snapped to attention when Billy Bucktooth came through the secret tunnel that connected MacDonald House (on the east side of Grosvenor Square) to the United States Embassy (located on the west). The full-blooded Iroquois sighed, and gently reminded the two American guards that they were assuming his identify in advance of confirming that identify, and that they wouldn't normally accord that level of respect to a real mid-level embassy official…especially when that official was officially attached to the Canadian High Commission, rather than their own embassy.

The two Marines remained at ramrod straight attention. While they knew what Bucktooth had stated was true, they also had no doubt that the wizard standing before them was in charge of magical security operations for the all of the embassies, consulates, and missions in London that were staffed by the twenty-three Muggle governments whose jurisdictions lay within the North American Confederation. And if that wasn't enough reason to give their respect, they also knew him to be the wizard who had single-handedly de-activated the radioactive dirty bomb that had been planted by Muggle terrorists just outside of the U.S. Embassy, some five years previous.

Bucktooth had more pressing issues to attend to than the body language of his sentinels, so he drew his wand and offered it butt-end first to the nearest Marine. The soldier took the wand, placed it within a velvet-lined rune-covered box, and closed the box. The wand was returned to Bucktooth once that box magically confirmed that it was his. The NAC commander then provided the appropriate password (that password being a modified Fidelius-charmed secret, designed to mitigate the risk of polyjuice). Once that was accepted, he moved on to the third level of security…a retinal scanner that provided Muggle confirmation of his identity. This successful scan opened a doorway into the secret fifth underground level of the United States Embassy (located under the almost-as-secret fourth sublevel, where the Muggle spy operations were based).

The head of security operations walked into the NAC operations office and nodded to the receptionist as he approached her desk (that this was only a satellite office, and that he was stationed at Central NAC Operations beneath the Canadian Embassy, had far more to do with the central location of MacDonald House than anything else.)

"They've just completed the initial contact, Sir," the receptionist noted.

"Still in the interrogation room, then?"

"Yes, Sir."

The Iroquois wizard thanked the American witch, then weaved his way through the open-office desk arrangements to a door on the far side of the wall. That door opened into a much smaller room, where two of his agents with joint US/NAC citizenship were sorting out the personal effects of the wizard who had been caught trying to infiltrate the United States Embassy.

"What do we got, Donna?" he asked.

Donna White, who was the highest-ranking American native under Bucktooth's command, looked up from the piece of parchment that she was examining and said, "One smelly Death Eater. Beyond that, don't really know yet, Sir."

Bucktooth glanced towards the charmed one-way mirror and took a quick look at their prisoner. He focused more on the prisoner's manacles than on his face.

"Donna?"

"Yes, Sir?"

"Why did you string up your prisoner by his wrists?"

"Because he didn't want us to shackle him to the chair."

"And why was that?"

The junior officer standing next to Lead Agent White laughed.

"Maybe because he doesn't have an ass to sit down on, Sir?"

Bucktooth frowned, and walked over to the one-way mirror for a closer look. The prisoner was standing on the far side of the interrogation table, with his manacled hands stretched high above his head. The greasy-haired wizard was facing the mirror, which made it difficult to tell whether he was or was not in possession of an arse. But the prisoner had been stripped down to his non-magical shorts, which made it relatively easy for Bucktooth to spot the ugly black tattoo on the wizard's forearm.

"Severus Fucking Snape," the security commander hissed.

"You know him, Sir?" Donna asked. "He refused to give his name."

"Yeah…he's an allegedly reformed Death Eater."

His American subordinate winced.

"Should I have known him, then?" she asked.

Bucktooth glanced towards Donna and shook his head.

"He's much more of a Team Felix issue."

"Understood, Sir," the American stated, with both a slight edge and a tinge of relief in her voice.

Donna White was in charge of ward maintenance, ward monitoring, and the other day-to-day magical security operations within the U.S. Embassy compound. "Team Felix" was the informal name of the directorate that employed all of the NAC's spies and intelligence gatherers (i.e. the magical counterparts of the CIA and Canadian SIS). They were charged with keeping tabs on foreign magical governments, and any internal threats that these governments faced or external threats that they posed. Team Felix was rather territorial and stingy when it came to sharing information that folks in the other NAC departments considered relevant for their own assigned tasks.

Bucktooth asked, "Any explanation for why Snape is missing his arse?"

"Splinched, Sir…just took a call from the British Ministry, requesting access so their magical reversal people can reverse it."

"At least they were smart enough to call ahead," the second agent noted.

Bucktooth turned towards the American junior officer and snorted. "This time, at least. Did they have any insights over why the prisoner tried to apparate onto U.S. sovereign territory?"

"No, Sir…you know how compartmentalized they are over there…the de-splinchers just knew that somebody had messed up, not who in particular."

"What did you tell them?"

"That if they gave us the splinched bits that we would be more than happy to reunite them with their owner."

"Good," said Bucktooth. "So, did Mr. Snape provide any reasons for wanting to pay us a visit?"

"No, Sir," White replied. "All he would say was that he was working on behalf of Albus Dumbledore, and that we should contact him."

"And that's all you could get?"

"Yes, Sir," the junior agent noted. "I tried, but his occlumency barriers were too strong. Gave me a nasty headache."

"You would have known that in advance had you had access to his file, or if you had waited to talk with someone who did…someone like me."

"Yes, Sir."

The lead American agent handed her boss a slip of parchment. "The prisoner did have the embassy's address written down, along with two separate addresses on separate slips."

"Any places of interest?"

"One was the road that circles Regent's Park," White noted. "The other was a connecting road in East London that doesn't appear to have any associated street addresses."

"Right, then," Bucktooth decided. "I'll just have a quick chat with our friend, and then you can transfer him to your holding cell."

The lead American agent shook her head. "We'll have to move him somewhere else…our holding cell is occupied at the moment."

"Really?" Bucktooth asked. "I wasn't aware that you had another prisoner."

"He came in with Snape, Sir."

"I thought you just had one bounce…he didn't side-along, did he?"

"Actually, that sort of describes the situation, Sir…we think that the prisoner had a transfigured tiger in his pouch."

"A what?"

"A tiger, Sir…that's what we've got in our holding cell."

"A real tiger?"

"That's what it looks like, Sir, only it's been transfigured into a plastic toy tiger," White explained. "Threw it in the cell because we didn't want to take any chances on the transfiguration running out of gas."

"So let me get this straight…Snape was carrying a toy tiger in his pocket that was actually a real tiger, only transfigured?"

"Yes, Sir."

"And you've got this toy tiger that's a real tiger in your holding cell."

"Yes, Sir."

Bucktooth shook his head in disbelief.

"Okay, this I've got to see for myself," he said. "Donna, let your counterpart know that you've got the situation in hand, and that he doesn't need to get his Muggle security forces any more riled up than normal. Then get on the phone with Felix…tell them that I need Hector over here pronto."

"Yes, Sir," the lead agent replied.

Bucktooth then turned towards the junior officer (whose name escaped him at that moment) and said, "You're with me."

The junior officer nodded, and nervously fell in step behind the wizard who was five steps up his chain of command.

oo00OO00oo

Ministère des Affaires gobelin
Ministère Français De La Magie, Paris

Malice hadn't returned from London by the end of the agreed-upon break period, so Harry, Bill and Chokebar moved on to other items on the agenda. The new Lord Potter slipped the Black and Peverell rings onto his fingers and accepted the two Head of House positions with few comments and little fanfare. Harry asked why there was a new Black ledger to review when he had already received Sirius's bequest. He was told that there were entailed Black properties and holdings that Sirius couldn't have given away to anyone other than the next Head of House.

The Peverell ledger was relatively slim; the vaults had been in caretaker status for more than two hundred years (not that much could have been done to increase their holdings through aggressive management). Harry then thought to ask whether there were any more marriage proposals or contracts tied to these two houses. Chokebar had anticipated this question, and was going to show his goblin sense of humor with a joke. The joke was about Harry's father and Sirius drawing up a contract that would require a person who was both Lord Potter and Lord Black to "go fuck themselves." But given circumstances and his client's understandably dour attitude, Chokebar thought better of the idea, and instead advised his client that there were no additional contracts or proposals to deal with.

The senior account manager then pressed on to a different item on the meeting agenda, and offered Harry a rental agreement for "Cortex Gaztelua," the mountain estate that Bill had warded over the previous week. It was a month-to-month lease, with rent set at one galleon per month and another galleon required for the security deposit. Chokebar explained that they had to charge some sort of rent in order to key Harry into control of the wards that Bill had designed. After Bill confirmed this fact, Harry signed the rental agreement and was given the front door keys (which took the form of a portkey-charmed wine bottle cork). Bill offered to explain the symbology of the portkey material, but Harry suggested that there were other more pressing issues to focus on.

It was at this point that Malice returned to the table with a very thin ledger in hand. Chokebar took the leather-bound book, and asked for a few minutes to scan its contents. The account manager spent extra time reading one particular page. He showed the page to Malice, pointed towards one specific line, and whispered something into her ear. Bill was only able to pick up the Gobbledygook words "friends" and "flobberworms." It was a whole lot easier to understand Malice's caustic whispered retort…she wasn't to be blamed for not bring a linked ledger that Chokebar hadn't asked for. The account manager growled a bit before returning his attention to his client and client's liege man.

"As I have already mentioned," he began, "I am not at liberty to discuss the contents of this ledger unless you claim title as Head of House Slytherin. With that said…and speaking only in general terms…."

Chokebar looked at Harry and asked, "Are you aware of the differences between claims based on birthright and claims arising from conquest?"

Harry let out a deep breath as he turned towards Bill. "No, I'm not…but I have a feeling that I'm going to be looking into that difference in the very near future."

"Very good," said Chokebar. "And so long as you doing this research, it might benefit you to do a broader review of the charitable organizations that are recognized by the British Ministry of Magic. There is one specific group that Lord Slytherin has historically been associated with…at least over the past twenty or twenty-five years. It might be worth continuing that patronage should you decide to take on that title."

"Okay," said Harry. "Any hints on what group that is?"

Chokebar shook his head. "I'm sorry, Lord Potter, but again…there are confidences that must be maintained." The account manager then switched over from English to Gobbledygook as he turned towards his secretary and hissed, "And don't you dare say a word to our client about friends and flobberworms!"

The snort that escaped from the French arbitrator's nostrils suggested that he understood the goblin tongue just as well as Bill did.

oo00OO00oo

U.S. Embassy, Grosvenor Square, London

The differences between the transfigured tiger and his transfigured Biro were minor, and not at all noticeable until you held them up to your eye. And since Billy Bucktooth had no plans on letting the prisoner get that close to either transfiguration (at least not in toy form), that was good enough for him.

The security commander held the near-identical toys in each hand, and admired his handiwork.

"It is my Biro that I'm holding in my left hand, right?" he called out.

The junior officer who was on the outside of the locked holding cell looked through the reinforced steel bars and said, "Yes, Sir. You've got the real tiger in your right."

"Guess there's no great harm if we've mixed them up," Bucktooth said casually.

"Sir?" the junior agent asked nervously.

Bucktooth smiled as he tossed the transfigured toy held in his right hand onto the cell floor.

"On the door," he said clearly, more from routine than for need.

The junior officer stuck his wand tip into the lock and cast the spell that opened the cell door. He used a different spell to relock the cell door once his commander was outside.

"Let's see what we've got," said Bucktooth, as he drew his wand and hurled an overpowered Finite through the cell bars. The targeted finger-sized plastic toy quickly morphed into a very hacked-off four-hundred pound predator…a predator that made his opinion on his recent treatment known with a tremendous roar.

"Yup, that one was the real tiger," Bucktooth casually noted, as he pocketed the other transfigured toy. He glanced over his shoulder towards the junior officer who had reflexively backed away from the bars and asked, "You okay?"

"Yes, Sir," the younger wizard replied.

Bucktooth didn't know (or couldn't remember) much about the junior officer's background or skill set, and decided that this would be an excellent opportunity to learn.

"Right, then," he said. "Why don't you take the lead on figuring out why our trespasser had this tiger in his potions pouch?"

Deciding that "because he needed fresh potions ingredients" wasn't a good enough response (at least not before casting a few spells), the junior officer pointed his wand towards the pacing tiger and gathered the same basic information that Snape had gathered at the zoo…while the tiger wasn't magical, there was something magical inside the tiger.

"Well, fish it out, then!" Bucktooth replied, after the junior officer verbalized his assessment.

The younger wizard's gaze shifted from his superior officer to the Sumatran tiger.

"I'm not much of a hunter, Sir," he noted. "Don't really know any field dressing spells."

Bucktooth sighed. While he certainly knew a few spells that gutted big game animals without too much muss or fuss, he certainly wasn't going to put down a critically endangered species if there were less invasive alternatives.

"You don't need to gut something…or someone," he noted, "just because you suspect that your suspect might have something in their gut." Bucktooth then pointed his wand towards the tiger and cast a vomiting hex. He then quickly followed with a shield charm when the tiger turned towards the spell source.

The junior officer wasn't quick enough to avoid being splattered.

"Hold on!" Bucktooth admonished, as the younger wizard started to cast a laundering charm. "You've got to check if the magic source is in the vomit before you banish it."

The puked-on junior officer frowned as he looked down the front of his soiled robes.

"But a detection spell won't work…there will be too much background interference from my robe's temperature control charms."

"Then I suggest you scrape the vomit off by hand before you cast the spell," Bucktooth said with a grin.

"Yes, Sir."

Bucktooth turned towards the exit. "I'm heading back to the interrogation room," he said. "Let me know when you find something."

"Yes, Sir," said the dispirited agent. "What if the magic source wasn't in his stomach?"

Deciding to give the kid a bit of a break, Bucktooth cast another detection spell towards the tiger.

"Looks like it's still inside," he noted. "You can clean yourself up before the next step."

"Next step, Sir?"

Bucktooth laughed. "Checking further down the digestive tract," he explained. "You do know how to cast a bowel loosening hex, right, erm...?"

"It's Dillert, Sir. And yes, I know that hex."

"Carry on then, Dilbert," the senior officer stated, as he headed for the door.

"Yes, Sir," the junior agent replied glumly.

The young wizard knew when he accepted his posting that as the lowest-ranked agent on the totem pole he would be tasked with a lot of shit-work…he just never thought that would be the literal case.

oo00OO00oo

Chateau Delacour

Bill and Harry's return portkey set them down ten feet in front of the main door to the Delacours' ancestral home. They got no further; two Delacour house elves immediately popped up and blocked the entrance. When asked why they couldn't go inside, the apologetic house elves explained that the chateau was being redecorated for an evening event. They then volunteered to guide Bill and Harry to the estate's private beach, where Hermione and Fleur were waiting for them. When Bill expressed his surprise over the fact that the two witches weren't inside helping with the birthday party redecorating, the house elves insisted that the two witches were indeed helping by providing incentives for them to steer clear of the chateau.

Bill rather liked that answer.

"What say you, milord?" he asked. "Shall we attend to our ladies and their incentives?"

Harry pursed his lips. "Sounds nice, except…I can't stop thinking about the results of that inheritance test."

"You mean that last house that you are eligible to claim as its Head?"

"Yeah, and whatever Chokebar was talking about towards the end…did you understand what he was saying when he switched over to Gobbledygook?"

"Something about friends and flobberworms," Bill replied. "Didn't make much sense."

"Seemed important enough to him," Harry replied. "Makes it important enough to me to want to look into it straight away."

Bill nodded in understanding. "Unfortunately, it's likely that any relevant information is going to be back in Britain. We could ask Fleur's father for ideas, once he's returned home from work."

Harry looked at his watch. "Which with my luck won't be for a couple more hours."

"If that's the case, then Hermione and Fleur might have some ideas on what to do while we're waiting," Bill suggested with a smile. "I'm sure that they'd have sympathetic ears."

"Their ears are probably more sunburned than sympathetic," Harry quipped. But then he held up his hands in mock surrender, and suggested that they should just go with the flow, at least for the balance of the afternoon. When Bill voiced his approval, the two house elves grabbed Bill and Harry by the hand and disappeared from the Delacour's doorstep (making a noise not unlike the Pop! of a liberated champagne cork).

The freshly-minted Lord Potter/Black/Peverell fully expected to re-appear in front of two half-dressed witches. In fact, he half-expected Fleur and Hermione to be completely naked, sipping from wine glasses as they worked on their all-around tans. He even harbored the thought that one of those fully nude witches would greet him with hugs and kisses once they appeared on the beach. So he wasn't at all surprised when a mostly-naked witch jumped into his arms barely a second after his boots hit the sand.

It was the fact that this mostly-naked witch had platinum blond hair that was so unnerving.

"Oh thank you, milord!" Fleur squealed, alternating her kisses from one cheek to the other. "Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou….!"

The teen-aged wizard awkwardly (and lightly) patted the French witch on her back.

"Erm…you're welcome?"

Harry glanced over towards Hermione, who (like Fleur) was topless. Careful to maintain eye contact, he gave his amused girlfriend a facial expression that asked, "What am I supposed to do?"

She smiled, and shrugged.

Now knowing that his girlfriend wasn't instantly upset with him being ambushed, Harry risked letting his eyes drift downwards. Hermione's typically-wild hair was pulled back into a tight pony-tail, which only emphasized her bare shoulders…and bare collar bones…and bare breasts. There was, in fact, nothing that wasn't bare until Harry's gaze drifted below his girlfriend's hips and fell upon the skimpiest of thong bottoms…bits of white string attached to a patch of white fabric that looked barely bigger than a matchbook.

"I hope you like what you see, Harry," his girlfriend said coyly. "After all, you did pick it out of the catalog."

He did, and that was a big problem, because Fleur was still hugging him tightly, and peppering his cheeks with kisses. And while his dress robes hung loosely from his shoulders and had lots of fabric to them, Harry was still afraid that his reaction to seeing Hermione dressed that way would be seen, or felt, or misinterpreted.

Bill came to Harry's rescue by stammering out, "Fleur…a little decorum, s'il vous plait?"

The French witch reacted in a flash, breaking off her kisses and the physical contact. She took two steps back, dropped her knees, and leaned forward in a supplicating bow. The fact that this allowed her breasts to swing freely did little to alleviate the need for blood-flow control.

Fleur purred, "Thank you, milord, for granting your liegeman a boon."

Harry arched an eyebrow. "You could tell?"

"Oh, yes, milord," Fleur replied. "May I now offer you my fealty as well?"

The messy-haired wizard reached up and gave the collar of his dress robes a nervous tug.

"Maybe later," Harry said. He gestured towards Bill, and said, "Why don't you celebrate the boon granting with your fiancé?"

Fleur looked up into Harry's eyes and smiled.

"As you wish, milord," she said, as she pounced on her fully-clothed boyfriend, and pulled into the crashing surf for another round of elemental water sex.

As Harry's gaze drifted towards the cavorting couple, Hermione reached out and pulled him into her own crushing hug. The snogging that ensued was a far more enjoyable experience for Harry…no need to worry about erection control…at least until a third witch ran up from behind Harry and hugged the back of his legs.

"Welcome back, milord," that younger witch said (in French).

Harry looked over his shoulder, then quickly pressed his face back against his girlfriend's neck.

"Hermione?" he hissed. "Why isn't Gabrielle wearing a swim costume?"

His girlfriend chuckled. She glanced over Harry's shoulder to ensure that Gabby hadn't made changes to her attire, then asked, "What do you mean? She's got a thong on, just like Fleur and me."

"But she's…she's….why is she wearing a thong, then?"

"Because Fleur and I told her that she couldn't be naked on the beach if we weren't?" she replied.

"But she's only eight…."

"Well, yes she is, but it is a private beach, and their attitudes are…."

"Is something wrong, my Alpha?" Gabrielle asked. "Would you like some help removing our Master's robes?"

Hermione choked on some spittle.

"No thank you, Gabby," she replied. "Harry and I need some private time right now."

"After we take off his clothes, right?"

Hermione rolled her eyes.

"No, Gabby, after you go back to searching for sea shells on your own."

"Oh, poo!" Gabrielle whined, as she let go of Harry's legs and reluctantly picked up her bucket of shells.

Harry couldn't help but laugh.

"That sounded like something that Luna might say, if only she spoke French," he said.

"Right in one," Hermione replied, as she watched Gabrielle head back down the beach. Spotting Fleur and Bill's surf-enhanced shagging out of the corner of her eye, she spun Harry around so that he was facing a blue and white-striped tent that was pitched above the high tide mark.

"Why don't you make your way to the cabana while I fetch your suit from my beach bag?" she asked.

Getting out of the (two-way) viewing range of the Delacour sisters sounded like a great idea to Harry, and the Summer sun was beginning to test the cooling charms on his dress robes, so he followed orders and headed towards the tent.

oo00OO00oo

U.S. Embassy, Grosvenor Square, London

A junior security officer wearing freshly-laundered robes dashed into the interrogation room area with an evidence pouch in hand. He nodded at the administrative assistant who had been tasked with temporarily minding Snape's personal effects, and offered to take over for her since he needed to wait there anyway. She thanked him for the offer, and returned to her desk.

The young wizard glanced through the one-way mirror, then quickly looked away. He knew better than to barge into the interrogation room while the highest-ranked London-based NAC security officer and highest-ranked London-based spy were "working" the prisoner for information. He knew better than to even acknowledge knowing that Hector Gutierrez ran Team Felix operations in Britain and Ireland…that kind of intel was definitely above his pay grade. So he patiently took up the admin person's station, and resisted the temptation to turn on the mirror's audio capture feature.

The door to the interrogation room proper opened ten minutes later. Billy Bucktooth and Hector Gutierrez walked out of the room with wide smiles on their faces and a sparkle in their eyes that made the junior officer wonder if the two men had enjoyed what they had just done.

"Nice to get out of that stink…oh, there you are, Dilbert!" Bucktooth said, when he spotted the junior officer.

"It's Dillert, Sir," the younger wizard gently corrected.

"Of course it is," Bucktooth replied. He gestured towards his companion and said, "Dillert? This is Hector. Hector? This is Dillert."

The Mexican/NAC joint national extended his hand and said, "Good to meet you, Dilbert."

The junior officer tried not to dwell on the fresh blood stains on the spy's robe sleeve as he shook the man's hand.

"So what do you have for us?" Bucktooth asked.

"I, erm…found the magic source in that tiger, Sir," the younger wizard replied.

Bucktooth squinted when the junior officer held out the transparent evidence pouch.

"And you placed that source in this bag?" he asked.

"Oh, yes, sir," Dillert replied. He held the transparent pouch up to his face, then pointed towards one corner.

"Right here, Sir. A single strand of hair hosting an active tracking charm."

Hector took the evidence pouch from the junior officer and held it up to the ceiling light.

"Did you run a diagnostic on the hair itself?" he asked.

"Yes, Sir," Dillert replied. "It's human, and given its coarseness and consistency, likely from the pubic region."

"You don't say," the NAC spook replied. He turned to Bucktooth and said, "Reminds me of the time that we caught that sick bastard who raped one of our case officers, and fed his bits to…"

Bucktooth cleared his throat nodded towards the junior officer.

"Oh, right," Hector said. He turned towards Dillert and said, "You didn't hear any of that, right Dilbert?"

"Hear what, Sir?"

"Good man."

"Did you find any more of the hair's owner in the tiger's scat?" Bucktooth asked.

The junior officer shook his head. "No other human remains," he stated. "Did have some partially-digested sirloin in the vomit."

"Ah, so that was what I spotted on your robe collar?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Okay, then here's what I want you to do," said Bucktooth. "Report your findings to Agent White, and tell her that I want her to start in on a complete Level 4 scan of the embassy compound."

"Yes, Sir…what should we be looking for?"

Bucktooth pointed towards one of the three pieces of parchment on the evidence table.

"The prisoner had the street address of the London Zoo written down on a piece of parchment. The London Zoo has tigers. The prisoner had a tiger that had a charmed pubic hair in its gut. He also had a similar piece of parchment with the embassy's address written down on it, and he tried to apparate here. So it's logical to assume that…"

"That we're looking for another tiger?" the junior officer asked.

"No, you dolt…you're looking for another tracking charmed pubic hair!" Bucktooth shouted.

"Yes, Sir," the younger wizard meekly replied.

"So how is our tiger doing?" Bucktooth asked (using a much calmer tone of voice).

"A little dehydrated, but still pretty angry, Sir."

"Time to get rid of him, then," the older wizard declared. "Get on the floo with the Ministry. Tell them that their Muggle zoo is probably missing a tiger, and that we'll trade that tiger for the prisoner's splinched ass."

"Hardly seems like a fair trade," Hector joked. "What else should we ask for?"

"That's your department's call…not mine," Bucktooth replied.

The junior officer waited a moment for his orders to be clarified. When they weren't he decided that he had just been dismissed and headed for the door. But he paused when he spotted something odd in the one-way mirror. He turned, and risked taking a closer look.

"Sir?" he asked. "Does the prisoner know that the tiger toy in there is really a transfigured Biro?"

Bucktooth glanced back towards the junior officer and smiled.

"What do you think, Dilbert?"

The younger wizard took another look through the mirror. The roughed-up prisoner had a look of terror in his eyes as he hung from his wrists. And those eyes were focused on the toy tiger which had been left on the table's edge, directly in front of him.

"Off you go, Dilbert," said Hector the spy.

The junior officer nodded and dashed out the door with a smirk on his face.

"So now what?" Bucktooth asked his colleague.

Hector shrugged. "Now you've got a hair to track down, and I've got to sort out the political angle," he stated. The head spy then walked towards the mirror and spat on the floor.

"It's not too late to cut the bastard down and feed him to the tiger," he noted.

Bucktooth shook his head. "No, we've already tortured that poor animal enough."

"That's too bad," said Hector. "And here we've already tenderized the meat for him!"

Bucktooth rolled his eyes. "Be a pal and remember this time to heal the bruises before you hand him over?"

"Hell, we don't even need to notify the Ministry that we have him in custody for another forty-eight hours," Hector noted. "Plenty of time for those bruises to heal on their own."

"So you aren't planning on taking another go at him?"

The NAC spy shook his head. "Snape supposedly works for Dumbledore as a spy in Voldie-short's camp. If he can keep his secrets from either or those two bastards, then there's not much hope that me beating on him some more will do the trick."

"So why did you take a go at him in the first place?"

"Because the hijo de perra deserved it," Hector replied. "You've read the file, right?"

"Yup," Bucktooth replied. "Planning on going to Dumbledore, then?"

"Not unless I get some direction from Tenochtitlan," Hector replied. "I might reach out to a different interested party, though."

"Who?"

"Harry Potter."

"Dumbledore's puppet?"

"Not as of late, if what we've been hearing is accurate," Hector noted.

"And you know how to reach him?"

"We already did," Hector said with a smile. "Just a few hours ago, in fact."

"Safe, sound, and out of Dumbledore's grasp?" Bucktooth asked.

The NAC spy nodded in agreement. "Safe, sound, and our Confederation's newest citizen."

Bucktooth chewed on that bit of new information for a few moments before asking, "So you're thinking he'll be looking to prove his loyalty?"

Hector shook his head. "I'm just looking for some advice on what we should do with his abusive Potions professor," he stated. "I'm sure that young Mr. Potter will have some…creative…suggestions."

Having read the Potter and Snape files, Bucktooth couldn't help but agree with that prediction.

oo00OO00oo

Chateau Delacour

Harry found far more than a simple changing area when he opened the beach cabana's tent flaps and walked inside. The enlarged interior had dark hardwood floors and a massive king-sized bed. There were other pieces of furniture dressed in nautical-themed trim, and a closed door on the far wall that he guessed might lead to a shower room or lavatory. The tent looked far more like a bedroom than a cabana…and a well-used bedroom at that. The bed, for example, wasn't made…the sheets were crumpled, the pillows were tossed about, and the duvet was half-dragged onto the floor. The room also smelled like Arthur Weasley's tool shed…after the shed had been treated like a time-turning broom closet. There was a scent of hot, sweaty sex in the air that sparked Harry's pervy imagination.

Just how long had Fleur and Hermione waited for Bill and Harry on the beach, and what had they been up to while they were waiting?

The-Boy-Who-Headed-Three-Houses thought about that as he walked over to a wooden valet chair and hung his dress robes from the attached hanger. There was a tie rack for his tie, and a separate hanger for his white dress shirt. He threw his undershirt into a nearby clothes bin, then sat bare-chested on the valet chair so that he could pull off his boots. Harry was beginning to wonder where his girlfriend had gone off to when the tent flap was pulled back and daylight spilled into the dimly-lit room. He turned towards the tent flap and smiled.

"Sorry for the delay," Hermione said, "but I thought it best if I reconfirmed departure and arrival times with one of the house elves."

Harry pulled off one of his boots as he asked, "Are we going somewhere, then?"

Hermione shook her head as she dropped her bag onto a nearby side table. A smile formed on her lips when she spotted the messed-up bed linens, but she kept the conversation on-track by coyly replying, "Going somewhere? Not right away. Some when, on the other hand…"

"What?"

The Muggleborn witch giggled as she pulled her wand from her beach bag and cast a Tempus spell. "Okay, it's four in the afternoon. We will be departing the beach at five."

"So, we've got an hour to ourselves, so long as Gabby behaves?" Harry asked.

"More or less….or more," Hermione coyly replied.

Noting that Harry was having a bit of trouble slipping off his boot, she squatted in front of him and grabbed the heel with both hands. She had a passing thought that her lack of attire, subservient squat, and intended actions might be more appropriate for a concubine than a girlfriend. This thought was reinforced when her fingers grazed over the oversized rings on Harry's right hand.

"Three?" Hermione asked in a near-shout, leaning forward to get a better look at Harry's new jewelry. "So House Potter, House Black and House…"

"Peverell. Could've been worse, actually," he noted with a sigh.

"Sounds like you've got quite the story to tell," Hermione noted.

Harry nodded his head and let out a sigh. "A story, unfortunately, that'll probably take a full hour to tell and dissect."

"Then it's a good thing we've got more time than that," Hermione stated, as she shifted her grip back to his boot heel.

"Thought you said we're due back at the house in an hour's time?"

Hermione leaned back and pulled the boot free from Harry's foot. She then placed that sock-covered foot in her barely-covered lap and gave it a good squeeze.

"I said that we were due back at five," she noted. "I didn't say anything about that being an hour from now…at least not for us."

Harry's eyes widened as he reached up and grabbed the small hourglass that dangled from his silver necklace.

Hermione nodded in agreement as she pulled off Harry's socks, then leaned forward and reached for his belt.

"So," he asked, "We're going to be the ones that messed with the bed linens?"

His girlfriend waggled her eyebrows. "Unless you want to have opened your present somewhere else?"

Harry shook his head as rose from the valet chair and pulled Hermione back to her feet. He then grabbed the back of her head and pulled her into a fierce snog, which left his girlfriend's hands free to undo his belt and unfasten his trousers. Harry's boxer shorts hit the floor a few seconds after those trousers, giving Hermione full access to bare skin. She gave his growing erection a squeeze, then broke away from Harry's embrace.

"Just a second," Hermione said, as she retrieved her beach bag and pulled out the white man thong that she had picked from his mail-order catalog.

Turning towards Harry, she did some obvious ogling of his naked body, with most of her focus on his bits. Hermione shrugged, then tossed the man thong over her shoulder.

"Doubt it would fit right now," she explained, as she approached Harry and reestablished a firm grip on his erection.

Harry looked down and covered his girlfriend's hand with his own. He gave that hand a playful squeeze and cheekily asked, "So what exactly are you afraid might not fit?"

Hermione's laughter broke the sexy/sultry mood that she was trying to generate.

"Oh, this will fit, alright," she said. "Only question is how long."

"You mean you can't tell right now?" Harry joked.

"I meant how much time, boyfriend!" Hermione chided. "And don't you dare say anything less than nineteen minutes!"

Harry laughed. "So now you've got irrational confidence in my endurance?"

Hermione shook her head and pressed her lips to his. "No, silly," she said, once she pulled her lips back. "I have lots of rational confidence in your recovery rate."

Harry chuckled as he extended the silver chain long enough to fit over both of their heads. He then grabbed the hourglass and asked, "So how does two hours sound?"

Hermione smiled as she guided her boyfriend's other hand towards the front of her thong. She leaned into his fingers and purred, "Tack on the extra real-time hour and it'll do…for now."

"Happy birthday to me!" Harry said with a smile.

His girlfriend was going to say "Me too!" but then remembered something far more practical and shouted, "Jeepers, Mr. Peabody!" as they groped two hours backwards.

oo00OO00oo

The freshly-showered couple opened the bathroom door and walked hand-in-hand back into the tent's bedroom area a few seconds (and also a few hours) after they had disappeared from that very same space.

"And in the epic battle between virginity and time…virginity lost!" Harry quipped, raising their hands in victory. "Merlin, I love my time turner."

Hermione rolled her eyes as she pulled her hand back and called for one of the Delacour house elves. The house servant popped in, and took almost no time at all to clear the air, change the sheets and make the bed.

"Excellent," said Harry, as he plopped down onto the duvet. "Now we can mess them up all over again!"

"We will do no such thing," Hermione chided. "Just because the Delacours pay their house elves wages and treat them well doesn't give you the right to make extra work for them!"

"Okay, okay!" Harry said defensively. He swung his feet off the mattress, reached out, and tugged on Hermione's robe sash. "So it's back to the lav for some more shower sex?"

Hermione pushed Harry's hands away and whined, "I've unleashed an animal!"

"Is that a complaint?" Harry asked.

His girlfriend chewed on her lip for a moment, then shook her head.

"It's more like a request to let my insides rearrange themselves back to normal," she admitted.

Harry chuckled. "Fair enough…I know we have other things to do over the next hour."

"We do?" Hermione asked. "I thought we decided that we had covered what we could about the Lord Slytherin mess?"

"We did," said Harry, as he undid his sash knot and let his terrycloth robe slip to the ground.

Hermione eyed his bare bum suspiciously as he turned and walked towards the corner of the room.

"What exactly do you have in mind, then?" she asked.

Harry responded by reaching down and retrieving the man thong that Hermione had tossed over her shoulder before they had turned back time.

"I'm hoping that it doesn't take an hour to figure out how I'm supposed to wear this banana hammock," he replied.

"It shouldn't." Hermione said with a laugh. She walked over and began to help him with some manual adjustments that threatened to test his ability to fit inside the skimpy garment. He let her play for a few moments, then gently pulled her hands away from his crotch and placed a gentle kiss on her lips.

"Let's get yours on now, and head outside," he suggested. "I'd like to see first-hand how much difference there is between Weasley Beach and the real thing."

Hermione giggled as she pulled her thong bottom from her robe pocket. "That's easy…the real beach has two less weasles, one more Gabby-Cat, a lot less supervision, and a lot more skin."

"Sounds like a fair trade to me," Harry reasoned.

A few minutes later, Harry and Hermione were walking hand-in-hand along the surf line, as Gabby-Cat showed them all of the best places to find sea shells on her family's stretch of beach. It was a good opportunity for Harry to start to get accustomed to the local beach attire. And it was almost as much fun as opening presents.

oo00OO00oo

Harry wasscrubbing the beach sand off of Hermione's back and wondering what kind of attire would be appropriate for his not-quite-a-surprise party, when one of the Delacour house elves popped onto the cabana's shower room and settled the issue. Hermione squeaked in surprise and reflexively spun into Harry's chest.

He looked over Hermione's shoulder and asked, "Erm…can I help you?"

"There is someone up at the house who wishes to speak with Lord Potter," the house elf replied. "I've brought some appropriate clothing."

"Oh, well…thanks," said Harry. He then asked. "So the appropriate clothing is something different than what I was wearing earlier this afternoon?"

The house elf shook her head. "No, Lord Potter…Bernie thought that would be very appropriate and instructed me to make sure that those robes were cleaned and pressed."

Hermione glanced back over her shoulder, and (once she confirmed that the house elf was female) mustered up the courage to turn around and squat down to the servant's level.

"But you said that you brought appropriate clothing?" she asked.

"Yes, Mademoiselle Granger," the house elf replied. "I brought clothing that Bernie says is befitting of Lady Potter."

Hermione arched an eyebrow. "And why would it be appropriate for me to dress like Lady Potter when I'm not Lady Potter?" she asked.

The house elf smiled and said, "Bernie says Mademoiselle needs the practice."

The house elf popped away before Hermione could formulate a befitting response.

oo00OO00oo

The cooling charms on Hermione's regal-looking dress robes could do nothing to control the flush on her cheeks when they returned to the main house. Her mother and Apolline Delacour were waiting for them at the main entrance, with knowing looks in their eyes and wide smiles on their faces. Hermione would have tried to wipe that smile off her mum's face with a few choice words about privacy, age of consent, and being addressed as "Lady Potter," had Fleur's mum not immediately announced that their guest was waiting for them in the same parlor where Harry had gained Canadian and NAC passports earlier that morning. The appropriateness of that location bore out when she led them into the parlor and introduced them to the same NAC attaché who had provided those passports.

"Good evening, Mr. Potter…Miss Granger," the official said. "So sorry to have intruded on your birthday celebration again, but I assure you that it shouldn't take much of your time."

"Not a problem," said Harry, as he gestured towards a cluster of furniture.

A house elf popped up and took drink orders while the three sat down (Harry and Hermione next to each other on a couch, with the official on a chair opposite).

"So I've been asked by my colleagues in London to ask your opinion about a situation that came up earlier this afternoon," the attaché stated, as he removed a folder from his briefcase. "Someone that you know tried to apparate onto the grounds of the United States Embassy."

Hermione gasped. "Oh, what were they thinking?" she asked. "So was his first name Fred or George?"

"It was Severus, actually," the official replied.

Harry broke out into laughter…partly in relief that it wasn't the Twins who had gotten into trouble, and partly in disbelief over who had.

"Severus Snape?" he clarified.

"Yes, I'm told that he is a teacher of yours at Hogwarts?"

"Well he's a professor, at least," Harry quipped. "Can't say that the man actually teaches."

Hermione cleared her throat and gently prodded her boyfriend's side with her elbow.

"What…am I wrong?" Harry asked.

The official smiled. "Well, getting some background information about the man's character was one of the things that I was asked to do."

"Don't get me started," Harry cautioned.

Hermione shook her head. "If you don't mind me asking, Sir…was this some sort of group attack, or a solo attempt?"

"The latter, Miss Granger," the official replied. "The entire situation was rather bizarre…he was captured at the ward line, of course, and searched. Some of the items in his possession were highly…unusual."

"You might need to define unusual," Hermione noted, "Snape's a potions master, and some of his potion ingredients are rather…"

"I understand completely, Miss Granger," the official stated. He opened his Muggle notebook to a different section and asked, "Have you ever known him to use bits of endangered tiger as an ingredient?"

"Tiger?" Hermione asked. "What, like a Bengal tiger?"

"Sumatran, actually."

"Snape tried to apparate into a U.S. Embassy with bits of a Sumatran tiger in his pocket?"

"No, it was a whole Sumatran tiger, stolen from the London zoo and transfigured into a plastic toy replica."

"What the hell was he doing?" Harry wondered.

"Language!" Hermione chided.

"Yes, Milady," Harry quipped (earning him another elbow).

"Do you have any idea why Professor Snape was trying to gain access to the embassy?" Hermione asked.

The attaché chuckled and shook his head. "Well, to be honest, it might have been accidental. He had bits of parchment in his pocket with street address for the zoo and the embassy. We know that he was within the tiger exhibit when he attempted to apparate into the embassy…"

Hermione's eyes widened. "Are you saying that there is a way to magically determine the originating point of an apparition?"

The official smiled. "Not that I'm aware of. What I'm saying is that he splinched during the attempt and the parts he left behind…so to speak…were found by your Ministry people inside the tiger exhibit."

Hermione asked, "Inside the viewing area of the exhibit, or…?"

"In with the tigers, actually," the official replied.

Harry laughed out loud at the thought. "So…what did Snape leave behind for the tigers to chew on?"

"He left his behind, behind," the attaché quipped. "I understand that the tigers didn't mangle his buttocks too badly…apparently, the smell was too off-putting, even for them."

Harry laughed so much that his face was turned red.

"HA HA HA…that's so brilliant, so….and here you were, apologizing for intruding upon my birthday party," he told the attaché. "You, Sir, have given me…well, if not the best birthday present I've received today, then certainly the funniest!"

"That's heartening to hear, Mr. Potter," the official said with a smile.

While Hermione certainly thought the situation was humorous, it wasn't so mind-numbingly hilarious that it shut down that part of her mind which was analyzing all of the bits of information that the attaché had just provided. When combined with other information that the embassy probably wasn't aware of, a startling realization sprung forth.

"He was on the hunt, Harry," she concluded.

"Wha…?"

"It must have been why he was in the zoo, and tried to gain access to the embassy."

The laughter died in Harry's throat as his girlfriend's logic soaked in. He turned towards the attaché and asked, "This might sound like a really odd question, but…did anyone in that embassy happen to run across a strand of hair with a magical tracking charm attached to it?"

The embassy official's eyes widened. "Funny you should ask, Mr. Potter…they did locate such hair…it was inside of the transfigured tiger that Snape was carrying in his potions ingredient pouch."

Harry let out a deep breath. He turned towards his girlfriend and said, "You're right, Hermione…just like you always are."

His girlfriend shrugged, and patted his arm. He then asked her to fill the embassy official in on whose hair that was, and who had applied the tracking charms (and why), while he stepped out of the room for a few minutes.

He waited until he was back in the main entrance before calling for a Delacour house elf that helped track down Bill. Bill confirmed that he had written down "A foreign embassy" on the list of potential wild hair hiding spots, but had given that list and most of the hairs to Chokebar. He then reminded Harry that Chokebar had told them that Dobby the house-elf had helped in the distribution process. That led to a second conversation with a Delacour house elf, and with Apolline Delacour herself. She was quick to approve Harry's request. And that was why, twenty seconds after that approval, Hermione and the NAC official heard a very loud cry of anguish and regret.

They both turned towards the opened doorway, but couldn't see anything or anyone who could explain what had happened…until Harry rejoined them a few seconds later.

"My apologies for the disturbance," he said, as he sat back down next to Hermione. "I've got some answers, though."

"Who was that crying?" Hermione asked. "Almost sounded like Dobby."

"That's because it was Dobby," Harry explained. He then turned to the official and told him that a very excitable but very loyal house elf had placed one of his tracking-charmed pubic hairs within the Tiger Territory's supply of refrigerated raw beef. He was in the middle of theorizing that the transfigured tiger had swallowed that hair during his breakfast when the Stars and Stripes suddenly appeared over the attaché's head and dropped down on top of him.

"What the hell?" the embassy staffer asked, as he pulled the U.S. flag off of his head.

Dobby the house elf popped next to the attaché and said, "Dobby is very, very sorry for causing troubles for the embassery and the Great Mister Lord Harry Potter Blackie Peverell, Sir! Dobby be leaving now…"

"Dobby, Wait!" Harry shouted.

The house elf popped away from the embassy official and instantly popped in front of Harry.

"Yes, Great Mister Lord Harry Potter Blackie Peverelly, Sir?"

Harry gestured towards the flag and asked, "What is this?"

"Dobby be returning the Great Harry Potter, Sir's hair and the embassery's wavy flag."

"Are you saying that you hid the hair in the U.S. Embassy's flag?" Hermione asked.

"Yes, Mr. Harry Potter, Sir's Grangie," Dobby replied, nodding his head vigorously.

The attaché quickly followed-up. "And you are also saying that you just popped over to London, entered the embassy, and retrieved this flag?"

"Oh, no, Mr. Embassery man," Dobby insisted. "Wavy flag be flying from rooftoppy pole. Dobby not be needing to enter the embassery to fetch it just now."

The official winced at this response, and pressed his fingers against his temples.

"The security implications are….so was that the second time you were at…or above…the U.S. Embassy?"

"Yes, only second time, Mr. Embassery man."

"Did any one happen to notice you, or try to stop you?" he asked.

"Dobby not be thinking so, but Dobby can be popping back and asking if you want Dobby to."

"No, that's quite alright," the man said. "If it's possible, though…can you fold this flag up for me?"

Dobby snapped his fingers, and the flag flew off the wizard's lap and folded in mid-air into a neat triangle.

"That's better," the wizard said, as the folded flag drifted back onto his lap.

During this flag folding Harry finally spotted the single strand of hair that was now resting in front of him on the coffee table. It really felt off for him to pick it up and wave it around, so he pointed and asked, "This is the tracking charmed hair, then?"

"Yes, Mr. Harry Potter Blackie Peverelly, Sir," Dobby replied. "Would you be liking Dobby to be retrieving the other hairs from all of the Shittertons and Titty Hillies?"

Harry stared open-mouthed at the house elf, then slowly shook his head.

"No, you can leave them there for now," he said. He then looked down, reluctantly took hold of the hair in front of him, and carried it over to the parlor's fireplace. A quick incineration charm eliminated the possibility of that hair being traced back to Chateau Delacour's location.

The embassy official stood up as well, placed his folder into his briefcase, and tucked the folded flag under his arm.

Harry said, "You're more than welcome to stay for dinner, if you like."

"Thank you, but perhaps another time…I have a lot of work to do and phone calls to make back at the office," he noted.

"I imagine so," Hermione stated, as she too stood up.

As they headed for the door, the official asked, "And parting advice on what we should do with Snape, then?"

Harry shook his head. "He can hang, for all I care."

The embassy official chuckled at the choice of words.

oo00OO00oo

Back in London, an administrative assistant was called in to mind a still-splinched prisoner while a junior security officer joined the search for a missing flag.

She tried not to stare, but couldn't help herself from looking through the one-way mirror at the naked, stretched-out and manacled wizard. His shorts had slipped off because he no longer had an arse to hold them up. But he didn't seem to mind, or to even notice that he was now naked; all of his focus was on the toy tiger in front of him that was poised to pounce, just as soon as the transfiguration wore off.

Snape stared.

Snape scared.

oo00OO00oo

AN2: Billy Bucktooth's surname was borrowed from Drew and Brett Bucktooth, the lacrosse-playing brothers who helped the Iroquois Nationals place third in the 2014 World Lacrosse Championships in Denver.