DISCLAIMER: That part of this world and those characters you've seen before belong to their Creator: JKR. The rest is mine - although I cannot quit my day job as I make no $$$
A/N: This finishes "Not Normal." "A New Normal" will be the sequel and it's opening chapters will be posted within ten days. That sequel should take us through Fourth Year but, then again, this was supposed to get through to the summer after third year...
CHAPTER SIXTY-FOUR: WRITTEN IN A BOOK
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 14th 1993
"So it won't happen all it one day?" Harry asked Madam Pomfrey talking about consummating the bonds.
"As I said, given your youth and the probable nature of your bonds, it will not happen between you and one of your ladies unless and until you are both ready magically, physically and sexually and she is at the peak of her fertility cycle. I can't say if that is the case for all five of the bonds I now detect, although the evidence supports that conclusion. You see, the girls' cycles have all shifted so that they are all at different times. Each girl's cycle is consistent at twenty-nine days start to finish which is about average really. But they occur at different times. If Miss Granger's, for example, begins on day one, then Miss Lovegood's now begins on day seven, Miss Greengrass day twelve, Miss Abbott day eighteen and finally Miss Weasley on day twenty-three with it starting over again on day twenty-nine. That means that even if they are all ready at the same time, the consummation would take place five to six days apart over a three to four week timeframe. This will most likely take place in real time, not your Estate time so you would add any of those days into the gap."
"Are there any changes you'd recommend?" Hermione asked.
"In our living situation … our … um … intimacy rules."
"You will need to explain those," Madam Pomfrey said.
Hermione did, slowly. She was clearly embarrassed as were the others, but she managed to explain their life together in some detail. Madam Pomfrey appeared thoughtful.
"I would recommend you make no distinctions between each other from now until the first bonding which means Miss Weasley should enjoy the same degree of intimacy with Mr. Potter that the rest of you do. I would agree that she not move beyond that degree until she's gone through her mentorship although it would appear that aside from her intimacy with the rest of you young ladies, there will be no real change has Mr. Potter's needs are subject to the bond. I can't say when the bonds can be finalized but it is possible all of you ladies will be ready aside from your point in the cycle at the same time. This means whoever is ready in all respects first bonds first and that means has sexual intercourse first and if that's Miss Weasley so be it.
"You will continue to share the same bed together as you have been and all of you should share time next to Harry as you have been striving to do. Mr. Potter?"
"I made a similar recommendation to Mr. Longbottom. You will need to be comfortable in front of your ladies so I would recommend when you enjoy a day together that the degree of undress not be gender specific. That means, Mr. Potter, if your family decides to forgo wearing anything, you will undress appropriately."
Harry blushed furiously.
"I add one suggestion," Madam Pomfrey continued. "When the first bond occurs, Harry may be intimate with you all as his ability to be that way will be restored. My suggestion is that he not be denied such intimacy simply because you have not yet bonded with him. I would recommend, however, that you refrain from sexual intercourse until the bonding. I will be giving a book to you ladies before you leave for the Holiday and you may share it with Mr. Potter after you all have read it. It will explain why this might be important. Having intercourse once Harry is able will not affect your bond nor will it delay it. My recommendation is simply because it will make the bonding that much more … meaningful for both of you."
They nodded although not necessarily in agreement since none of them truly had a frame of reference. It seemed like a good idea even if they did not fully understand why.
"What will happen to us after we've bonded?" Harry asked.
"I can only say it will be interesting, Mr. Potter," Madam Pomfrey said. "As I've told you, the authorities are silent as to a multiple bond such as the one you and your ladies will share. Aside from House Longbottom, I am not aware of another similar situation. I have only a general idea of what a singular pair bond entails as the specifics can vary as markedly as the people in the bonds. You will, for certain, have an increase in your magical potential meaning you will each be stronger magically than you would have been otherwise. In all cases, you will be able to draw on your bondmates magic in times of need giving you more stamina for certain. Absent your penchant for keeping me company here, Mr. Potter, and your strange attraction from Dark Lords, you and your bondmates will enjoy a longer life expectancy that would otherwise have been the case. The good news is once you're bonded, you can wind up here for an extended stay separated from your bondmates without risk to them or yourself. One other thing that seems common to all bonds is you will sense what pleases your bondmate so the sex will never be dull.
"There are other things that you may experience, but whether and to what extent seems to depend on the partners to the bond. You may feel each others emotions. You may have the ability to find each other even if you have no idea where the other is and to go to them even if you are miles and miles apart. Some bondmates have been able to pass through wards under such circumstances. You may also come to hear each other's thoughts and to know what the other knows thus it would then be necessary for only one of you to attend a class and practice for both of you to learn. I am not saying these things will happen, but they may. Moreover, this is not a complete list of possible benefits of the bond."
"What if one of us were to die young?" Harry asked.
"Thinking of dying on us, Potter?" Daphne growled.
"No! But with Voldemort having an … unnatural interest in my life – or rather it's sudden end, I think it's a question I should ask even if I have no intention of obliging him that way."
"Were it an ordinary pair bond, the death of one leads to the death of the other in short order, usually within days," Madam Pomfrey said. "If there's a young child of that bonding, the other will live for a time, but will die not long after the child reaches an age where they could magically consummate. But I can't say how that would work in your case. To be honest, I don't know if you are five separate pair bonds or one bond. It might be that you would survive such a death. It might be that if Mr. Potter suffers an untimely demise, you all will follow in short order. It might also be that if any of you ladies were to so perish, you would take Mr. Potter with you and he would then take the others with him. It's all a guess, really, and I'd rather not know which if any of those ideas might be correct."
"Well, that takes some of the fun out of it," Ginny said sadly.
"I have no intention of dying anytime soon," Harry said. "So don't you go making similar plans. I have every intention of being 'round to see all or our grandchildren finish school at the very least and then maybe the next generation after that."
"Ah, another point!" Madam Pomfrey said. "Again, I don't know if your bonds will be different than the others, but you can expect two things. First, your children will be magically powerful."
"Source magic!" Hermione said. "Sirius said his ancestors found that the children of a bonded couple were a new source magic!"
The others nodded.
"You young ladies will find little difficulty in getting pregnant or having a child," Madam Pomfrey continued. "Bonded couples tend towards larger families. The ones that I'm aware of with only one or two children are not finished having children. Four or more is typical and even if there's a history of problems having children in the young woman's maternal line, the bond means you will not need worry about that. So, expect to have large families and expect the first to arrive sooner rather than later. You can delay it, but I think once you're not much older you might not want to delay it. I would not be at all surprised if your children start arriving the year after you decide to finish or leave school."
"That's twenty or more!" Harry exclaimed.
"Voldemort wanted to conquer the world by force," Luna smiled. "Our Harry will simply remake it in his own image by having loads and loads of children."
"If one day they say Harry Potter was the father of his country," Hermione giggled, "they may well mean it literally."
"So, you're okay with this then?" Harry asked.
"You are a silly boy, Harry Potter," Ginny said. "We're still here so of course we're okay with it."
"Besides," Daphne said, "it's not like it's going to get all weird like that today. It's still a few years off in Outside time and longer altogether so by then … it won't seem as scary a deal as it might seem now. I've told you I'm in and it appears I'm more in than I could've dared hoped. You're not losing me."
"You already knew I need a fair few little ones," Hannah added. "Can't think of a better Daddy for them so you're it!"
"Just so long as it's not a bunch of boys," Ginny said.
"You're my friend, Harry Potter," Luna added. "I want you to have a family by me and to me that means children as in more than one."
"And you, Hermione?"
"For all intents and purposes, I was an only child," Hermione said. "It never seemed right to me in a way. I don't know why. Maybe my magic saw this coming. Who knows? But having a few children with you seems like the right thing to do. Not right away, mind you. But I don't think I'll wait 'til I'm twenty something either. Can't say when, but I will want more than one or two so you're stuck with a bunch of little ones one day."
"Harry?" Luna said. "We've been through a lot together already, haven't we? We'll manage with whatever this bond has in store. Given the other things we're facing, the fact you may have a lot of little Potters and Abbotts seems a small thing really. And remember, it will be some time before that happens from our point of view."
"But Madam Pomfrey said the bonding might…," Harry began.
"Might, Harry," Daphne interrupted. "Might is not will. It might happen. One of us might become pregnant. If that happens, then it happens and you can add that to your list of things that set you apart from all the pedestrian wizards out there. We're not going to try for that to happen. It would be … inconvenient at our ages. But if it happens, we will deal with it. We're all in this together."
"Too right!" Ginny added.
"Hey Ron," Neville said. Ron was seated at a table in the "Common" Room of the Gryffindor married stutdents' quarters. It was smaller than the Gryffindor Common Room, although it was similar in décor. Ron was seated at a study table contemplating studying for his potions exam. He was not actually studying for it, but he was not totally ignoring it, which was a vast improvement from the year before. "Studying?" Neville asked.
"Thinking about it but nah," Ron said. "Waitin' 'til Katie gets back from class. Odd when you think about it?"
"What? You're being here with a school book?"
Ron chuckled. "Suppose that is or would've been. No, I meant this room. For a common room it's a very quiet place."
"Well, 'bout the only time we're here is if there's a free period and we're not somewhere else," Neville nodded. "Same's true with Harry and his lot. And Dawkins and his wife …"
"Don't like us too much," Ron agreed.
"We are a lot younger than they are," Neville said.
"There's that," Ron agreed. "Katie and I living in sin is another reason. That's what Veronica Powell called it."
"Mrs. Dawkins," Neville chuckled. "She was right put out when she insisted on that and we came back and told her that in that case we're Lord this and Lady that. Probably wasn't the best way to handle her, but she really walks around here thinking this place is overrun with the wrong sort."
"Yeah. Where're the others?"
"Let's see," Neville thought. "Tracy and Susan are in Muggle Studies. Sally-Anne's off somewhere I suppose. Padma's in the library most likely. Astoria's in class. And Parvati's probably up in the girl's dorm with Lavender."
"Harry and his lot have a meeting with Madam Pomfrey," Ron said.
"We had ours last week," Neville nodded. "It was … a surprise."
"Found out I'm not just bonding with Sally-Anne and Padma, but somehow I'm bonding or will probably bond with all of them. Not bonding with Astoria yet but Madam Pomfrey says it looks like we will when she's a little older. Madam Pomfrey doesn't know the why or the how of it aside from thinking that Parvati being an identical twin somehow was part of it. Doesn't explain Susan or Tracy though. She said it's cause we spend so much time together and probably 'cause we all want to deep down."
Ron chuckled. "Yeah. Said Katie and I must have wanted to too since her condition and my helping her doesn't usually lead to a bond. I will admit I liked her before and, well seeing her that way was really scary. I didn't want her to be that way. I guess that was part of it. Been thinking 'bout all of this before you came in. Katie and I are getting married Saturday, you know?"
"Yeah. Got the invite for the dinner and stuff after. Nervous?"
Ron shrugged. "What was it like for you?"
Neville said down. "Let's see… I'd been having this strange sense that almost everything that happened had happened before. It was really annoying 'cause while I kind of knew it had I had no idea what was going to happen next, you know? It's been that way since my eleventh birthday. Thought I was either mental or a seer or something. I was gonna take Divination 'til I found out what was happening."
"That future stuff," Ron nodded. "Not sure if that counts as Divination."
"Pretty sure it doesn't," Neville said. "So as you remember a lot of us got to leave school early for the Summer and the evening I got home Gran had visitors. It was Mr. and Mrs. Tennyson whom Gran has known for years. We now know them as Peter Parker and Amanda Crosby," Neville said.
"The Flamels," Ron nodded. "'Cept she goes by Mary. Guess if you make up your name you can go by whatever you want."
"Sally-Anne thinks it's why he picked Peter Parker 'cause he wanted to go by Spidey."
"A guy with spider abilities? Sorry Mate. Never liked spiders. And after running into those huge ones in the forest I really don't like them."
"So, they then told us who they really were and that I was their several times removed great grandson on both sides of my family. Gran's one of their several times removed great granddaughters. They seemed to be related to everybody, you know? Then again they've had loads and loads of kids and stuff for over six hundred years. In my family, only Sally-Anne, Padma and Parvati aren't their descendants. We think Sally-Anne might have magical roots somewhere but are not certain and of course Padma and Parvati are from India or at least their parents are. So here we were with the legendary Flamels and we're related and then they tell us about the future stuff which explained what was happening to me.
"Gran then asked them 'bout me. Said she was certain I was a powerful wizard and stuff, but my spell casting was pathetic – although she didn't use that word. Hers was nicer. So Mr. Flamel gave me a wand and told me to cast something. I did, but it was hard. He then took the wand back and cut the handle in two and showed it to us. It was just a stick of wood. Didn't have a magical core, you know?"
"You cast a spell with a stick of wood?" Neville gasped.
"Apparently, it's what I've been doing from the off," Neville smiled. "I was using my Dad's wand, you know. Didn't work for me at all. Family wands can work, but they don't always work and they're never as good as a matched one."
"Bloody hell!" Ron exclaimed. "I was using my brother Charlie's my first two years. It sort of worked for me, though I didn't know that 'til I got my own Ollivander wand this past summer. It's why we use those mismatched wands for exhaustion drills at the Estates 'cause it's so much harder to cast anything and you were essentially doing that from the off and I sort of was."
"Bit of a surprise, if you ask me. Gran got me my matched wand the next day and talk about a difference…"
"Anyway, aside from that… Well, the Flamels didn't pop by to tell us my wand was all wrong. No. They told us 'bout things Gran had forgotten years ago. They told us 'bout my compatible magic. I was surprised, to say the least. I'd heard 'bout that and knew it was rare and was surprised Gran would've forgotten something huge like that. I know she's old, but she doesn't forget anything, you know? It was obvious someone had done something to her. Then they tell us that I used to play with Sally-Anne, Padma and Parvati when we were really little. Something happened and everyone forgot. We now know as you do what that something was. It explained to me why those girls liked me 'cause I really couldn't figure out why at all. Yeah, I helped them and others with Herbology – well, not Padma. She helped me with Transfiguration. Said it was 'cause I was helping her sister but… I thought there was more going on. Although, it doesn't explain all the other girls who were part of my study groups and certainly not the guys. But Sally-Anne and Parvati were the first so…
"Then we learned about the betrothals my parents made. I was betrothed to Sally-Anne and Padma 'cause of that compatible magic and Parvati as well. And Susan. That one's a Line Continuation as you know. Bit of a shock. Guess it's a good thing I liked those girls already and knew them from studying and stuff."
"That and they're cute."
"Yeah. That doesn't hurt."
"You can tell those two apart? I mean really? I can, but I think it's cause they wear different stuff. I swear the only one in my family who can always tell Fred and George apart is Ginny."
"They try to be different. Always have for some reason. Your brothers try to be identical. Guess that makes a difference. I can't tell your brothers apart. Padma and Parvati are easy to tell apart even though they are identical and it's not just their clothes and the way they do their hair. They have different personalities which is probably why they were sorted into different houses. Parvati is smart, but she hides it. Padma does not. They're both friendly, but Parvati likes being noticed and Padma does not, not in the same way. They're also very close and very protective of each other. Being in separate Houses was both a good thing and not. It was good because they do treasure their individuality and that allowed them to be Padma or Parvati and not the Patil twins. But it was not so good 'cause they couldn't spend as much time together and watch out for each other. They wondered what life was going to be like. They both wanted and feared getting married 'cause it would be that way too. They couldn't see themselves as marrying the same wizard. Truth was that was a possibility and they wanted nothing to do with it since such a wizard was clearly more interested in the twin side of it than the individuals."
"And so they get married to you," Ron said.
"Yeah. But I'm different they say. I don't see the twin side of things they say. I tend to overlook the fact they're actually related to each other like that and see them as individuals. They each later have told me that they are happy with this, that I might well be the only wizard in the world they could be happy sharing since I see them as who they are and stuff. Others would see them as … as toys or something." Neville was clearly upset at the thought. "None of my ladies are that! Fair few pureblood wizards seem to think women are for heirs or for play and that's it. Bunch of wankers, you ask me."
Ron nodded. "I admit some stuff Katie and I do are fun. But we do them together. She's … she's not for heirs or play. We're partners on and off the pitch and anyone who suggests otherwise will get hexed! Don't know if I could … well, one wonderful witch is more than enough for me, you know?"
Neville chuckled. "I dare say Harry and I would be of the same opinion, but life saw things differently. Guess we were lucky, though."
"You can't say any of our ladies aren't wonderful in their own right."
"Um … well, I can. But I'm biased and one's my sister and it's like a rule or something that a sister can't be wonderful that way, you know? But that stuff aside, you're right. All the wonderful ones live here now."
"I'm sure there a few left out there," Neville said. "But the dating pool in our year has been thinned, that's for certain."
Ron laughed. "Seamus is shameless! That's what Katie said and it's both funny and too true! You should've seen him trying to chat up Rivers and Moon before the last Hogsmeade visit. He practically ignored them for two years. We all did I suppose and they seemed to like it that way. They wouldn't give him the time of day before and they certainly didn't then. One of them told him the only reason he was suddenly nice was he was suddenly aware they were girls and all the others he might have noticed before – and who would talk to him before – were taken. Glad in a way I'm not in that mess. I might have been upset in a year or so. Not now, though."
"Roper and Moon would be a bad move," Neville said. "They keep to themselves. Parvati says that she and Lavender considered Hermione far more of a friend than those two even though Hermione was not about to talk about Teen Witch Weekly or boys or anything they talked about. Surprised he didn't go after Lavender."
"She was already going to the village with Dean," Ron said. "Guess Seamus didn't want to go … um … without a girl."
"It would certainly ruin his belief that he's the charming ladies' man," Neville laughed. "All last year he was on about that, remember? And here it is and it's Harry, you and me with the ladies on our arms."
"We had a little help," Ron nodded. "But I'm not complaining. I really think Katie is right for me, you know? Still…"
"Still? Is there a problem?"
"Weren't you … I don't know … scared when you found out about the bonds?"
"Well, a little. Found out there might be that when the Flamels visited. But we know that might be doesn't mean will be, you know. Still, they said it was important to find out. So we set up a visit with the Perks the next week. They're Muggles you know. Gran and I were not sure my parents would've told them much, but they had signed the betrothal. We went there and Sally-Anne was there and we had a nice tea before Gran showed them the betrothal. Mr. and Mrs. Perks remembered as soon as they saw it and told Sally-Anne. She looked … confused in a way. She wasn't upset really. I thought she would be but she later told me she already thought I was a wonderful person and a good friend before she was told about all that so it wasn't a bad thing. She said it would've been different for her if I was a complete stranger. She kissed me, you know? As soon as she was told we were betrothed and her parents supported the idea, she came over and snogged me good. Right there, in front of my Gran, her parents and the Flamels and it was not some quick peck either. We didn't see the light show…"
"Apparently, there's this bright glow when the bond begins, but the people bonding don't see it. The others did. Sally-Anne got really nervous afterwards when she was told that we were certainly bonding and that because of that she had to move in with me and sleep with me from then on. She was even more nervous when we were told to pack up all her things. Guess she didn't want a boy – not even her friend and bondmate – to see her under-things. It was embarrassing, but we got through it.
"So she moved in and a few days later we went to the Patils and told them about the bond and betrothals. Looking back, that was funny."
"Oh?" Ron asked. "How so?"
"Well, you know it's Padma whom I share compatible magic with right?"
"When we told them everything, Padma just sat there thinking about it I guess. Parvati, on the other hand… She laughed and squealed with delight and ran up and tried to snog me senseless. She later told me that deep down somewhere she had considered me as the … I don't know … the one? Certainly the one she and Padma could be with and be treated right or something. Padma came over after Parvati finally ran out of breath or something. Padma spoke first, saying she was surprised but pleasantly so. It's best to be with a good friend, she said then kissed me too and we bonded. They weren't as embarrassed about packing up and moving in as Sally-Anne had been. I guess they expected that or something. They said it might've been different if they were to be separated. Deep down, I think they were afraid that was going to happen. Now, it's not."
"When did this happen?"
"Bonded with Sally-Anne June 24th. Couldn't happen much sooner 'cause I only had just reached my bonding age. That was a Thursday. Bonded with Padma a week later, July 1st. We married at Gringotts the following week: Sally-Anne on July 6 and Padma and Parvati on July 8th."
"Were you nervous about that?"
"A little, yeah. I mean it is a big deal, you know, even if it was just the girls and their parents and Gran. We are married and that's like forever, you know. But we were bonded. Well, not Parvati but Padma and I were and Parvati was part of it so… Guess I'd've been more so if I didn't know them or something. I was more nervous about Tracy and Astoria 'cause I didn't know them at all really. You nervous?"
Ron nodded. "Mrs. Perks and Mum are doing this big dinner after. That and there'll be dancing and I'm expected to dance with Katie. I'm nervous 'bout that. Katie is too seeing… She thinks they're making way too big a deal about this seeing as our wedding won't be for a few years. I agree with her on that. But what really bothers me is the dancing bit seeing as Mum seems to have forgotten to teach us that bit. Don't want to look… Katie had some lessons, though, and said not to worry. But yeah, I'm a little nervous 'bout it."
"It's not like you'll be the only ones doing that," Neville said. "I'm sure each of my ladies will expect it from me and Harry's too."
"But it will be," Ron said in a panicked voice. "Some kind of tradition, you know? The first dance is the bride and groom by themselves! I just … I don't want to embarrass Katie, you know?"
"Something tells me as long as you really don't make a spectacle of yourself, she won't be embarrassed. Just let her lead you through it and you should be fine. Oh, and don't throw up on her."
"Does that happen?"
Neville shrugged. "My Uncle Algie did at my parent's wedding, according to Gran. But he had a lot to drink, she says."
"I'm sure Mum'll have a thing or two to say 'bout that," Ron said. "Won't put it past Fred or George to do something embarrassing, though."
"Ah, but one day it will be their turn," Neville smiled. "They would be well advised to behave or face retaliation."
Ron smiled. "They're having enough fun as it is. Mum's on them all the time 'bout Alicia and Angelina. Don't get me wrong. She likes them. It's Fred and George she's on about."
"So, is it the marriage you're nervous about or your brothers?"
"Um … both sort of. Not going to back out or something. A part of me really wants this but … well, we are young you know?"
"Yeah. I thought the same thing at the time. But we were bonding and it was the right thing to do seeing as we'd be together anyway. I was more nervous 'bout the others. We didn't visit them first for some reason. Gran said the contracts were such that it wasn't necessary once I married Sally-Anne and Padma … and Parvati. So we just showed up and got married. Susan wasn't too bad. She knew she needed a Line Continuation and we are friends. She was pleased that it was me. Tracy was … surprised for certain. She didn't say much of anything 'til we got back to the Manor. Then she was really happy. Didn't understand it myself. I mean we didn't know each other at all, did we? And she was a Slytherin and I was a Gryffindor and the Snakes were all on 'bout me being a Squib and such and she was almost ecstatic when we got back. Confused me. She later explained she was afraid she'd either be married off to a Snake or some vile old codger or she'd become … apparently it's not good being a witch in the pit without a betrothal or something. Compared to what she thought might happen, well I was a dream come true even if she had to share."
"She know in advance?" Ron asked.
"No. Didn't even know about the betrothal. Her parents were cautious about that 'cause it would have tipped their hand back then and remained so 'cause if Tracy was marketable that way, someone might try to buy out her betrothal, not that Gran was about to turn her back on her friends like that but the Davis's ran with the sort who would. Keeping it secret kept her safe, they thought. Actually, it had. But the safe was about to run out in the Pit and without the open betrothal she would have to be better than a wand than any of the boys if she didn't want to wind up with them, if you know what I mean."
Ron nodded. "She and Daphne have told me some of it. Can't say I feel sorry for some of them. But those two? And Astoria? That's just wrong, you know?"
"Yeah. So, I was afraid Tracy would hate me. She didn't. Turns out the only thing she was worried about after we got married was what would happen to Daphne, you know? We didn't know about her until about a month later. They were both thrilled the other wasn't going to be left alone down there. Astoria knew something, but there was that Fidelius Charm on it so even if she knew everything 'bout what happened to her sister, she couldn't say. She came in last, you know."
"Really? I mean I know you're only betrothed but…"
"I wanted the marriages out of the way, you know? Figured I'd be … well, more comfortable with the whole thing. I figured … well, even if we went forward she'd stay with her parents for now. So we showed up for the meeting which was all it was really since she's too young for marriage and all. Didn't know about Daphne nor that their parents had planned for this. They wanted their daughters safely betrothed and protected from the low life's who most likely would've put pressure on them for the daughters and the sooner it was clear they were not in the market, the better it would be for the family, you know? Daphne was just married off to Harry. They wanted Astoria safely off with House Longbottom even though she had yet to start Hogwarts. Very old fashioned, you know? But Astoria knew coming in she might not be going back home except to visit. Her bags were already packed. She was … accepting, to say the least and very hopeful. Tracy was more resigned at first and Susan knew something like this was out there. Astoria seemed the least upset about things even though they all seemed pleased with how it turned out from the off. Needless to say, it all confused me."
"Yeah. Harry's said the same. He expected the girls to be upset with this and they weren't. Ginny was closest to being upset considering. But Harry made it clear from the beginning, right there in Gringotts both why he did that and that as far as he was concerned Ginny was no different than the others. My brothers and I would've been upset if it was. But it's not. That much is obvious and she's clearly happy about it. That was a surprise. She's … I don't know … very independent, you know? So's Hermione and yet they're happy not being the one and only, you know?"
"I said earlier we learned last week that I wasn't just bonding with Sally-Anne and Padma, but with the others as well. Harry and his girls are with Madam Pomfrey as we speak. My guess is it's happening to them as well. You're in a bond. Only one girl, but you know better than anyone else at school how that works. You can't help but like the situation. You can get annoyed at times and so can they. But…"
"Yeah," Ron agreed. "Hermione and Ginny could stay mad at me for a long time and I could stay mad at them. Katie and I can't stay mad, not that I'd want to. I'm nervous about the dancing and attention and the fuss my Mum is sure to make about this. I am not nervous about being with Katie. We're already together and I think I can say we wouldn't want it any other way."
"Not worried about whether you can take care of her?"
"I know at least how much I'm getting from that basilisk and I've been told it could be much more. Even if it's only half of what I think it is, I can easily take care of her for now. Since this has happened I've had some long talks with Dad about it. My family's struggled financially, but that was because Mum and Dad wanted a large family and wanted us all to attend Hogwarts and wanted to pay for as much of it as possible. That betrothal of Ginny's said we could go without paying any tuition. My parents still paid all they could 'cause it's the right thing to do. If we'd gone to the local, we'd've been better off financially. But Dad said the most important thing he could give his children was a good education so it was Hogwarts and hand-me-downs. Used to complain 'bout that. Percy still does. But I think I understand now. Katie and I are off to a better start than my parents were, but it doesn't mean I can be stupid with the money. Thinking of getting one of those trunks, you know? A nice farm, a steady income, something so that our kids won't be … well, they'll have new clothes every year. But none of that fancy, overpriced, acromantual silk rubbish. No child of mine's gonna wear spider gunk, no matter how fancy it is!"
Neville laughed. "Somehow, Ron, were you to have all the gold in Gringotts, I doubt you'd be the silk robes type. Not your style."
"Don't know what my style is, to be honest. But that's right out!"
Harry lay in bed that night at the Manor at the Estate. Ginny and Daphne lay cuddled into his side and the others snuggled into them. When they had returned from their meeting with Madam Pomfrey, Hermione had made a sleeping schedule. Before, because they thought only Hermione and Luna were bonding, on most nights those two used Harry as their pillow. But now that it was all of them, they all needed it in equal turns, or so Hermione reasoned. Not that any of the girls were complaining and especially not Ginny and Daphne this night. Hermione also revised their Rules of Intimacy. For now, there was no distinction between any of them and full on snogging had been added to the list at each girl's discretion. As none of them were reluctant, this meant it was on the list for all of them. Harry had been snogged breathless by each of them and had been spared only long enough to allow "adequate" time to prepare for his end of terms Potions exam the next day which only Ginny and Luna were avoiding but they had Transfiguration so their studies were not done either.
He was bonding with all of them. He had promised Daphne, Hannah and Ginny that he would do his best to see that they were no different than Hermione and Luna. Was that why they were now really no different? Was this another of the odd things in life that differentiated Harry Potter from the rest of the world? Well, he thought, that was no longer true, was it? After all, he was not unique when it came to his family. Neville also had five bondmates now and Neville also had a sixth who probably would become one when she was a little older. The more he thought about it, the more he realized he was not as unique as he once thought. There were a lot of similarities with Neville beyond the bed full of girls at night. They were also the last of their lines for now and Heads of their respective Houses when everyone else their own age was only worried about classes and such.
It seemed so right in a way. It seemed so easy at the time. Hermione had been his best friend practically from the beginning of school so being more than that was not much of a stretch. She was so smart it was scary, but she had a kind heart. She and Harry were alike in one way as neither had any friends before Hogwarts. Hermione was picked on because she was smart, because she was not girly in many ways and later because she had no friends. She was bossy, but she really didn't mean to be and Harry didn't mind it too much. He actually liked it most of the time. He liked everything about her, even stuff she didn't like about herself.
Luna. How could he not like Luna? He had liked her from that moment she sat down beside him by the lake at school and started talking. She had an odd but amusing way of seeing things that somehow made Harry feel good for some reason. He knew that he and Luna were friends in that other time, but not this soon. How had that happened or not happened? She was so easy to talk to because she was easily the least judgmental person he had ever met. She was so forward that he could see why some people might be put off. But she was special. That others didn't see that was their loss – and his gain.
Ginny was a sparkplug. She was snarky, mischievous, funny but not one of those giggly girls Harry didn't like. The Ginny he came to know since he bound her to him was not the red faced girl who never could say a word to him. It was the real Ginny, not the one overwhelmed by a silly crush. Harry was certain the crush had gone away her First Year and whether it was the entirety of that horrible experience or merely the events in the Chamber was anyone's guess. This Ginny was more real and more enjoyable. She was also more vulnerable in a way because of what had happened and Harry wanted her to feel safe. In a way, she had blossomed at the Manor and Harry had loved watching it happen. Still, it was a good thing she was his betrothed. This real Ginny might well have given Fred and George Weasley a run for their money.
Daphne was smart and had a wicked sense of humor. She was also devious in her own way. That was one of the reasons why she had been the Manor Advocate. Hermione was as good thinking on her feet, but she lacked the same instincts. Daphne looked for what was being hidden almost as an instinct. She was a true Slytherin in that regard and could be scary that way as you rarely saw her coming, as it were. But she was also fiercely devoted to her friends and that now meant to Harry and the others. She was another facet, another piece of a puzzle, a part of House Potter that made it what it was and what it could be. Everyone in House Potter liked her. Objectively, she was probably the prettiest as well, although Harry thought they were all pretty in their own right. He couldn't see House Potter without Daphne in it just as he couldn't see House Potter without Hermione or Luna or Ginny.
Hannah was a sweet girl. Smart too. She was probably the least outspoken of the group. She preferred to work behind the scenes at least where House Potter was concerned. She and Harry had their status within Houses in common and in that she was a great help. She knew a lot about Houses and the customs and such. She was the one who thought of the Manor Court, after all. In hindsight, why wouldn't she? As a Regent, she had the right to convene one even if House Abbott was just her and her mother. In that, her relationship was a little different. He was her Consort/Husband and when it came to House Abbott he could advise and the converse was true as well. But aside from that legal stuff, she was as much a part of his new family as the others and she was the one person everyone could turn to if they needed to talk.
How did Harry get so lucky? Better yet, how did his parents get so lucky? They made most of these arrangements when Harry and his ladies were all babies or at most toddlers. There was no way they could see what wonderful young ladies they would become in time or how well they would fit together. Madam Pomfrey said they were all bonding now. Harry was certain that was a recent thing. He was certain it could never have happened if they did not fit so well together as a team, as a family, as friends. That's what allowed this bond to happen or for the bond he shared with Hermione and Luna to spread to the others. They were not complaining about this development. Neither was he. How could this not have happened in that other time?
As abnormal as Harry's life hand been up to his adventure in the Chamber of Secrets, if Dumbledore had told him that six months (outside time) later, he would be married and bonding to these smart and pretty witches – or any young woman to be honest – he would've considered the man totally mad. It was the Flamels who had dropped that shoe at his feet and when they did it was a little too late to avoid it since he had already just started bonding with Hermione and Luna. His parents had obligated him to marry Hannah and Daphne in that event. He did what he did to Ginny for her. No one deserved what Dumbledore had planned for her and he was not about to let anyone ever have that chance again. That she fit in to his unique family so easily was a pleasant surprise.
Dumbledore. Had someone suggested that the man was no good six months ago, Harry would've been the first to contradict them. It was his loyalty to Dumbledore that had brought Fawlkes to him in the Chamber of Secrets without whom he would surely have died two times over at least. Harry's loyalty may well have been blind. But it was true and it had been betrayed. At least that was what many believed. They had a point. The man had placed him with the Dursleys no doubt knowing it was not going to result in a pleasant childhood or any childhood at all really. His earliest memories were of chores and punishment. Play was almost nonexistent in Harry's life. What few toys he had were someone else's cast offs. Some he had found. Some were formerly Dudleys. All had been kept in a shoebox in a void behind where he had slept in that cupboard and they never left the cupboard. They probably were still there to this day. That was his childhood. He was only ever a child locked in that small space and that was hardly a proper childhood at all, was it? Naturally he didn't know from personal experience. His parents were proud of him. He wondered what would be different had Dumbledore done the right thing by him and sent him to a loving home. Would he have fared as well? Would he have handled things as well? Would he still be just a child, unable to cope with the stuff that had been thrown at him? He would never know. Did he have Dumbledore to thank for that; for his ability to persevere when most everyone his age would have probably given up or been left soiling themselves as the end came?
The man had also both tried to take away his destiny and preserve it at the same time. That betrothal contract would have placed the House Potter votes firmly in Dumbledore's hands for so long as Harry lived. But it also was meant to guarantee an heir, wasn't it? It seemed desperate to ensure House Potter survived no matter what else happened. But then why abandon the other contracts? Didn't they also ensure survival of House Potter? Arguably more so since with more Potter wives there would be more Potter heirs. Then again, the other families were not under Dumbledore's control and some were either skeptical or borderline hostile. And why had he moved against House Longbottom? Harry wondered whether there was as yet secret betrothal for Neville out there. True, it could merely have been to prevent House Longbottom from claiming guardianship over Harry, but was anything the man did ever that simple?
Was Dumbledore finished with him? Harry thought not. First of all one did not get to be someone like Dumbledore by shrugging things off or letting things slide or walking away when things got difficult. Dumbledore obviously had some sort of plan that involved Harry, one which had to be done a certain way such that Harry couldn't do something else and one which probably would mean that Harry would not be destined for a long life, else why the brutal shag-fest of a betrothal with Ginny? What he had learned did not tell him what Dumbledore's scheme was, although he had a good idea. Dumbledore wanted Voldemort gone for good. That much was certain. To rid the world of that cretin forever, one first had to rid the world of his horcruxes. And Harry was one. And the only way to destroy it was for Harry to die, or so anyone without the future knowledge would certainly believe. The Killing Curse drives the soul from the body. There was no reason to believe it could be so precise as to drive the small soul fragment from the body without taking the primary soul with it. So, even to a man as learned as Dumbledore there could be but one conclusion: to destroy Voldemort Harry had to die.
But the Prophecy didn't say that. One must die at the hand of the other: one! Neither can live while the other survives! That reinforces that one had to die, but did not lead to the conclusion that both had to die. The future memory of the Flamels showed that both did not die for Harry had lived, although it also made clear that riding the world of Voldemort was not enough for far worse was in store should that be the goal rather than a step towards the goal. Harry knew from his own future memory how to rid himself of the hurcrux and live to tell the tale. He wasn't particularly pleased with the how of it. Taking a Killing Curse did not strike him as particularly bright even if it would work. But it had before so it would again. The trick was how to survive and get away with it and his memory had been kind of vague on that point probably 'cause there were too many possibilities still out there such that it was by no means certain the events would play out exactly the same way. After all, they had already changed, hadn't they?
Although Harry could not say for certain if the broader events had changed. True, Sirius was now exonerated which he knew had not happened in that other time. True, two more horcruxes were a thing of the past, which had not happened so soon and a third could be finished at any time – provided it had no unknown protections upon it. Harry was refusing to hunt it down right now in any event. Voldemort had to return to the realm of the physical to be destroyed with certainty. What little they had on those things suggested that the spirit could remain if its anchors were destroyed. Those references were not clear as to what such a spirit could do. It might be little more than a ghost and those were not capable of much other than being annoyingly talkative. They knew there was one other one out there right now but not where it was or precisely what it was other than some kind of ring. Still, what if it were destroyed before Voldemort gained physical form? Did Voldemort need a horcrux to regain his form? They didn't know. For now, Harry felt it best to let the thing be. He knew where it was and was pretty certain it wasn't going anywhere.
He was pretty certain Dumbledore suspected such things were out there. The question was did Dumbledore know what they were? Was he looking for them at all? Probably. Although the man was rather distracted recently. Had he been the last time? That too was a question. Dumbledore had certainly been busy this time what with the ICW mess and all. Indirectly, that had been Harry's fault. After all, if Harry had not captured Sirius, Sirius would not have gone to Gringotts that day by dedicated floo to look into his affairs and that Ministry bint wouldn't have tried to hex him and lose her vaults for her trouble and then complain to the Ministry and the Ministry would not have made such a scene that led to the Goblins demanding the ICW do something about the British magical government stomping on the Truce. It was amazing how little it took to change a history, Harry thought. But the question remained: had anything important changed?
There was no way to know for certain. He had talked about it with his girls and they had no answer and they were all so scary smart that if they had no answer he seriously doubted anyone else really had one either. After all, it's not like the future was written in some book.
The future was not set in stone. It couldn't be otherwise what was the point? Why try? It was not set. The world did not have to end. There was no destiny. But that meant the Prophecy was nothing more than a bunch of words, or did it? While this Prophecy needed to be fulfilled in the right way, how many ever were? Couldn't be many, Harry thought. If that were the case, no one would bother doing much of anything since it would all work out one way or another anyway. But people did try, so that meant there was nothing that was certain about any future. He knew of one future. It was one where he had never bonded with Hermione and Luna, where he had never married these girls, where his parents remained dead and Sirius never knew he had a daughter. It was bleak personally and for millions he would never know and who would probably never know of him. That was the future he hoped to avoid. By knowing it, he could work to avoid it. But could a handful of people stop the onrush of history? The Flamels thought so otherwise they would not have tried. The Harry in that other future thought so as did the other Hermione and Luna. Who was he to argue with them?
Whatever else, life had become interesting.