At The End of All Things – Chapter 23 – Unexpected Consequences
My sincerest apologies that events conspired to delay me and that it has taken so much time to complete this chapter.
The darkness brightened to a golden ethereal fog. The pleasantness of the vision only dimmed by the pain in his throat and the ache in his bones. Through the fog, a hand reached out with a goblet while another cupped the back of his head and raised it up while the goblet touched his lips.
"Drink," a musical voice softly spoke to him.
The barest hint of melons and honey flavoured the nectar that trickled into his mouth. As it gently washed down his throat, the raw pain disappeared and was replaced with a soothing coolness. He felt the coolness as it meandered down to his stomach and further as it calmed the aches and the unsettled feelings throughout his being.
He tried to open his eyelids further, but the potion-induced calm transformed his lashes into lead and his eyes closed.
"Sleep, Sirius," the angelic voice instructed and so he slept.
"It will take some time for the potions regimen to reverse the damage the dementors and malnutrition caused. I don't understand the reasons he isn't worse off. Normally someone who has spent a decade or more in Azkaban is utterly broken and would require significant mind, body, and magical healing, but from what I can tell, he is mostly unaffected mentally," the mind healer explained.
"How long," Lucius asked, "until Lord Black is well enough to stand trial?"
"I would estimate he will be physically rehabilitated within a month but he should rest another month beyond that to ensure there are no hidden difficulties," the healer said, looking at the mind healer who nodded absently.
Narcissa had just finished giving Sirius another combination nutrient and sedative potion. The brief look of affection that had crossed her face had not been lost on Lucius. Although his own father had died early, family truly was the most important thing to him. Something he had realised all too late with his now-defunct vow to the dark lord.
Narcissa stood and joined her husband and the healers in their discussion. Lucius took her hand and turned back to the healers.
"There is a group of hit wizards and aurors who will be guarding the corridor outside of this suite assigned to Lord Black around the clock however only the two of you, Healers Wilkinsons, Jennyson, and Tambria are to be allowed into the suite. The Lady Malfoy or myself shall remain in attendance with Lord Black at all times. Should Lord Black awaken while we are asleep, we are to be awakened immediately," Lucius ordered.
"As I said earlier, the staff and elves are aware of these instructions, Lord Malfoy. The elves will have the room furnished appropriately within the next hour. If there is anything else you require, Hippy has been assigned to you from St Mungo's," the healer explained.
At the mention of her name Hippy popped into the room. The elf, unlike the Malfoy elves who dressed in tea cozies, was dressed in a white, linen, ankle-length robe. "Hippy will be helping Lord and Lady Malfoy take care of Lord Black," the elf said in nearly-flawless English.
"Dobby," Lucius said. A rather hyperactive elf popped in.
"Master Lucius called Dobby?" the elf asked and immediately cowered.
While Lucius had previously taken great pleasure in punishing his elves, he was now revolted by the open display of fear. He gently placed his hand on Dobby's shoulder, causing the elf to flinch.
"Dobby, I did not call you to punish you, nor are you to punish yourself for any perceived misdeed or failure to perform on your part. Do you understand?" Lucius asked in a gentle voice.
Dobby looked up at Lucius in utter shock, as if the man had been replaced by a simulcrum.
Narcissa, too, was significantly surprised at the change in her husband's treatment of Dobby, as she had watched over the years as his abuse had grown worse, thanking her luck that she had not been his target.
Lucius went down on one knee and absently brushed back Dobby's ears and winced at the scars there he knew he had caused. "Dobby, you and I shall talk later about your past treatment, but I called you here to introduce you to Hippy," Lucius explained and indicated the St. Mungo's elf with his other hand. As Lucius stood, Dobby followed the gesture and the two elves introduced themselves in the way of house elves.
"Dobby," Narcissa calmly explained after watching the two elves interact for several minutes, "Hippy and you are to watch over Lord Black, our dear cousin. Hippy is aware of what is required and the two of you can discuss it to ensure he receives the proper care."
"Dobby will work with Hippy to get The Great Master Harry Potter's dog father better," Dobby said excitedly.
Both Malfoy's could not miss the obvious slip from the elf, if it was, in fact, unintentional. House elf vernacular usually indicated some hierarchy of responsibility or power. They both knew Dobby usually referred to Draco as "Young Master Draco" and Narcissa as "Master Lucius's Cissy" or "Mistress Narcissa", depending upon the situation. Lucius was always referred to as "Master Lucius" by all the Malfoy elves.
That he was calling someone else, not of House Malfoy, as "The Great Master" indicated to both adults that something more entangling was afoot between House Potter and likely all of the former Death Eater families.
"May Hippy and Dobby be going to be ready to care for Lord Black?" Hippy asked nervously with a sideways glance to Dobby.
Lucius and Narcissa nodded. Dobby and Hippy popped away.
"If there is nothing else, m'Lord, m'Lady?" the healer asked.
"Not at the time," Lucius answered in clipped tones. The healers left and, as the door closed, Lucius walked to the desk in the room and sat. Narcissa moved to the bedside chair and sat.
She knew Lucius' thoughts would be on Dobby's designation of Lord Potter and what it meant for those with the last name Malfoy.
The noise of his quill scratching on parchment lulled her into a fugue state as she watched a man she thought she had once loved; but that love had transformed over the years into hatred. Only now she realised she was suddenly in the presence of the man she had loved and had actually missed him a great deal. She stifled an audible gasp at the realisation that Lucius the Death Eater possibly had been killed and Lucius the suave, devoted Slytherin had been reborn.
Hermione awoke to a pool of warmth curled around her and an arm across her stomach. She turned her head and saw Luna was spooned into her side. She rolled over slowly just to quietly watch the girl sleep. "She looks so beautiful. So peaceful," Hermione thought as the younger girl continued to slumber. The blonde witch's mouth had a slight pout, almost as if her lips were pursed for a kiss.
"I wonder what it would be like to kiss her," Hermione mused. She pursed her own lips and moved slightly closer and closed her eyes as she imagined the sensations of pressing a kiss to the angel asleep beside her. She stopped. "What am I doing? She's an innocent little first year..." she reflected but stopped when a pair of soft lips met hers. Her eyes opened wide in surprise then closed the again.
Luna had awoken without a sound and felt Hermione's breath on her cheeks. She opened her eyes, closed the distance, and kissed the brunette witch. When Hermione opened her mouth to gasp and pull back, Luna deepened the kiss and used the arm wrapped around the older witch to keep their mouths locked together. She felt Hermione stop her retreat and begin to melt into the kiss.
Luna relaxed her arm and used her free hand to brush a lock of Hermione's hair that had escaped over her ear. She ended the kiss with a happy little sigh. "My, aren't we precocious," Luna purred with a shy smile and half-lidded eyes.
Hermione, too, had let a small sigh escape. Warmth, and an enticing tingling sensation, had spread throughout her body as the kiss had progressed. Now that the kiss had ended, the tingling sensation faded, but the warmth remained.
"Did you like it?" Luna asked self-consciously.
Hermione nodded, a bit of a stunned expression on her face, her eyes still closed.
Luna gave her a quick peck on the lips. "I did, too," she said with a smile, "and I'd like to do it again but we should probably get ready for the day."
This seemed to sober the older witch. "My parents are not going to be happy you're in my room," Hermione whispered. She pulled back the duvet and only then realised the pyjamas she had worn to bed were missing. So, too, were Luna's.
"Luna, where did our bed clothes go?"
"I was cold so I asked the elves to clean them so I could get warm from cuddling you directly. You're quite pretty, you know," the young witch commented as her eyes moved up and down Hermione.
Just then, the door opened and Hermione's mother looked in. "Hermione, do you know where Luna is?" Emma took a good look at the two unclothed girls. "I see. Why don't you two get dressed and we'll have a chat before breakfast, shall we?"
"Certainly, Mrs. Granger," Luna chimed and unabashedly got out of bed. Had it been dark, it would have been possible to read by the light of Hermione's blush.
Emma closed the door behind her and continued on down the corridor to the next bedrooms to awaken the other girls, only to find that Padma, Parvati, and Lavender were asleep in the one large bed dressed in similar attire as Luna and Hermione a few moments ago. She woke them to announce breakfast, noticing none of the three girls showed any embarrassment at all.
She hoped the remainder of what she had begun thinking of as "Harry's entourage" were all asleep in their own beds.
While he had awoken earlier to a nightmare of epic proportion and asked one of the elves to change his bedding and pyjamas as he had perspired to the point of them being soaked, Harry had awoken from a much more pleasant dream which had repercussions in the waking world. He entered the en-suite facilities, stripped off his pyjamas, entered the shower, and took the problem in hand, as it were, rather than take a cold shower.
He was having very pleasant thoughts about the girls and decided performing the action once wasn't going to be sufficient as his imagination and his body weren't satisfied after just one time. Even after the second time, his pubescent body still recovered faster than he had remembered experiencing previously. A third time through left him spent and satisfied that he could now control the physical manifestation of his desire through simple mental exercises.
As he dressed himself and prepared for breakfast, he had no idea about the impact his actions had on others.
Luna had insisted on sharing the shower with Hermione. The older witch hadn't intended on showering together. She had walked into the rather decadent facility and allowed the warm rain of water to wash over her nubile young body and was lost in thought before she discovered she had company.
It wasn't until the younger girl's soap-covered hands began caressing her back that she realised Luna had joined her. She was going to argue with Luna but the combination wash-up and back massage was incredibly relaxing; so relaxing, in fact, that she was practically purring.
She was quite surprised when a warm tingling began in her centre as both of her budding breasts were being gently massaged. What surprised her most was she could still feel both of Luna's hands working on her back until they stilled and the younger witch let out a soft, pleasured moan. The same sort of moan that suddenly escaped her own lips as she felt a third invisible hand gently rub circles in the depilatoried smoothness around her centre.
Something had taken hold of her but, for reasons her logical mind could not fathom, she wasn't in a panic. She was not, however in control of herself; she knew this for a fact when Luna took hold of her shoulder, gently turned her around, stood up on her toes, and captured her lips in a kiss that started innocently but quickly became more.
Luna wrapped her arms around Hermione's neck and bodily pulled the older witch to her knees. Hermione absently wondered how Luna had managed to get a few towels down on the floor of the shower to cushion it as her knees squelched into the deliciously warm, wet towels. Luna held her tightly. She broke the kiss and moved to kiss along her jaw then slowly moved to kiss and nibble her neck and, all the while, phantom hands touched her in places that were unexpectedly fully awakened as tension built within her.
"Lavender, it's time to get ready for the day," Emma said as she gently wiggled the girl's foot.
Lavender awoke and saw Hermione's mum.
"Yes, Mrs. Granger," she groggily replied before she shoved on Parvati's shoulder to wake her up. "Parv, wake up. Breakfast."
Parvati, in turn, roused Padma.
Emma noted that none of the girls seemed at all disturbed or embarrassed by their lack of attire. Once she was certain the girls wouldn't merely fall back asleep again, she left the room with a feeling of concern and dread. "Just how complex is this relationship and are witches and wizards normally this precocious?" she wondered.
Once Emma had closed the door, Parvati grinned and rolled over on top of Lavender.
"Good morning, Beautiful," she said with a wide smile and kissed the blonde witch thoroughly.
Padma then kissed Lavender good morning as well.
The three were in the process of disentangling themselves to get out of bed when a wave of raw desire washed over them.
Lavender fell back onto the bed and felt one of the twins nuzzling against her neck just below her ear while at the same time the other twin was kissing her stomach. She opened her eyes wide and looked down when she felt a third pair of lips kissing the inside of her lower thigh. While she saw no one there, the sensation of the lips kissing her thigh began moving upwards at the same time both twins moaned loudly. Her consciousness exploded in a crescendo of pleasure as she felt the phantom lips reach the cleft of her thighs and kiss her centre. Her back arched convulsively as she rode out the wave of overwhelming sensation. She was so completely taken away by the feelings that she took no notice of the same thing happening to the twins.
The first instance of pleasure had only just ended when she was hit with a second, even more powerful, wave and the sensation of her body being filled both front and back. She experienced no pain but an incredible pulsating feeling of being filled and stretched from within shattered all conscious thought as wave after wave of pulsating pressure and pleasure washed over her.
Several minutes after she regained equilibrium, a third and final pulse of pleasure robbed her of coherent consciousness and she fell into a deep sleep, utterly pleasantly spent.
Two hours later she awoke to the sound of Hermione's voice and a gentle shaking of her shoulders. She knew she would need help getting to the shower as her thighs still trembled.
Hermione felt completely out of control as the tension built within her and she didn't know whether she wanted it to stop or to continue progressing, not that she had any choice. She wasn't certain if the pressure and tension grew gradually within her or if, like a wave slamming against the shore, it overwhelmed her suddenly as a massive pulse of magic and pleasure struck her and she cried out Luna's name as she captured Luna's lips and pushed the younger witch backwards against the wall of the shower.
Similarly, Luna cried out "Harry" at the same time and nearly collapsed as her pleasure centre overloaded and her body convulsed as it rode out the massive impulse of pleasure and magic. Twice more, both girls experienced pleasure and sensations far above and beyond anything they had ever experienced before.
The two girls collapsed against one another as Hermione broke the kiss and held Luna tightly against her.
In a slightly panicked and trembling voice Luna asked, "What was that?"
"I don't know, but it was amazing and scary all at the same time," Hermione whispered as her own voice quivered. The logic centres of her brain were coming back to the forefront, bringing the witch to the edge of panic.
They leaned against one another until their breathing returned to normal and they had both somewhat calmed.
Without entirely ignoring the level of intimate attraction she felt, Hermione gently kissed Luna before she helped her to sit up.
After a quarter of an hour, their legs were strong enough to return to relatively normal behaviour. Hermione washed Luna's hair and back, though she had never washed another girl's body quite as completely before; not even when she and Daphne had showered together..
She was only slightly embarrassed as she washed Luna's most sensitive areas a bit less clinically than she felt she should. This could have been somewhat influenced by Luna's hands guiding her head to a more advantageous place to touch, feel, see, smell, and taste that she was, in fact, clean.
It was fully an hour before the two girls entered the kitchen only to find they were neither the first nor the last to arrive. It also seemed to be apparent that whatever had happened to Hermione and Luna in the shower had not been an isolated incident, based on the expressions of embarrassment her parents had on their faces.
Pansy had been staring out through the window since before dawn; wondering how one boy could so dramatically change her life without even meaning to do so. Where she had always been able to hide, and even stifle, her emotions behind impenetrable mental barriers to the point that she rarely actually had feelings any longer, those same walls now seemed torn asunder, or at least no more sturdy than wet parchment.
She looked over at the sound of a soft knock and the door opening and saw Emma.
"Come in. Good morning, Mrs. Granger," Pansy said demurely, with her eyes downcast, as was expected of a pureblood girl towards the lady of the house.
Emma walked into the room and gently took hold of Pansy's chin gently. Pansy looked up into Emma's face. "Hermione will still be quite beautiful as she grows older," Pansy briefly thought.
"Pansy," she said as she removed her hand from the girl's face once Pansy's eyes met hers. "I do not expect my daughter's friends to be obsequious to Dan or I. I spoke with Hermione yesterday and I wanted to let you know that, should you have any questions of a feminine nature, or just simply need a supportive, unbiased, and, at times, blunt adult perspective, I am available to you and all of you girls."
It was only due to the years of training in schooling her features that prevented Pansy's jaw from dropping open. She knew this woman was a muggle but could feel the sincerity and compassion from Emma as it washed over her.
Emma looked at Pansy in concern as a lone tear slid down the girl's cheek. Before she consciously realised what she was doing, she sat down on the bed next to Pansy as the one tear was soon joined by a stream.
"I don't know why I'm crying," Pansy whispered as she held onto Emma as if the woman was a life preserver.
"It's okay to cry, Pansy. Sometimes we don't need a reason," Emma explained, "but sometimes we just need to let them flow."
After a few silent minutes, Pansy sat up straight and pulled out of the embrace. "That's just it, Mrs. Granger. I am a Pureblood. A Slytherin. We don't show our emotions. Ever. But since I met Harry as something more than a rival or an enemy, my emotions have come back to me and I cannot contain them any longer. I haven't felt a genuine emotion for nearly as long as I can remember. Now that I know what it is like to have someone care about me, I don't want anyone else to ever feel like that – to feel so isolated that having feelings be a weakness. I don't want my little sister or my littler brother to have to go through life being an emotionless wretch. It used to be the way I was, but now I hate it. I hate it so much!" Pansy began to cry and threw herself against Emma and let the sobs wrack her body.
After several minutes, Pansy's crying became less pronounced and, due to her lack of rest the previous week, Pansy fell asleep in Emma's embrace.
"It must be my week for pretty, young girls to emotionally melt down," Emma said softly with an ironic tone.
Emma was a maelstrom of emotions. She was angry at the wizarding world would force their children to become unfeeling zombies. She felt justified in her conviction of ensuring she was available for all of, in her mind, Harry's girls, and a bit chagrined that she now had a quietly sleeping girl practically in her lap.
Her musing on the matter were interrupted by a soft knock at the door.
"Mrs. Granger?" Tracey asked from the door.
"Yes, Dear?" Emma asked quietly.
"Would you like us to stay with Pansy while you do what you were planning to do?" Tracey asked with concern. She opened the door slightly wider to show that Daphne was with her as well and that both girls were up and dressed for the day.
Emma smiled at the thoughtfulness of the two girls.
"I would appreciate that with the caveat that, when she awakens, you let her know I want to talk with her more. I want you two, as well, to know I am here should you need to talk about anything. I will expect you to be honest and forthright, however, and not hold anything back," Emma explained.
Tracey and Daphne quietly walked into the room, took their shoes off, and scooted up to the head of the bed.
Dan had been watching from the corridor and he, too, entered the room to investigate. He smiled at the scene before him and, as Emma looked up at him with her own smile, his smile grew to rival the brightness of the sun.
Dan picked Pansy up gently and put her in the space between Tracey and Daphne on the bed which Daphne indicated by patting the sheet.
Emma pulled a blanket from the cedar chest at the end of the bed and covered the three girls with it.
"Breakfast will be in an hour or thereabouts, girls. Until then, let Pansy sleep as long as she is able. I will have Harry or Hermione come get you when breakfast is ready," Emma said quietly so as not to awaken the sleeping girl.
The girls both thanked Emma and the two adults left.
Less than a minute after the door closed, a strange feeling washed over them all.
Tracey watched and waited as the door to Pansy's suite closed before she turned and looked down at the peaceful, sleeping girl. She and Daphne shared a suite with her and Millicent Bulstrode at Hogwarts and had watched Pansy sleep on several occasions. Tracey had never seen Pansy's sleeping features looked so utterly serene and relaxed before. In fact, as she looked at the slumbering raven-haired witch, she was surprised at how much more beautiful she seemed. Daphne's voice startled her our of her reverie.
"An amazing transformation, wouldn't you say, Trace?" Daphne asked in a whisper.
Tracey looked up to find Daphne looking at Pansy before looking up and meeting her eyes intently. Tracey nodded mutely.
Daphne took Tracey's hand gently. An intimate tingling ran up Tracey's arm at the touch. She and Daphne had cuddled away many dark nights together at Hogwarts and before. They had been friends since they had become aware, while still in nappies. While Tracey knew Daphne found both boys and girls attractive, and they had had their first kiss together, she wasn't certain what these new feelings and attractions were except that they were confusing.
The feelings became more confusing when an insurmountable wave of affection washed over all three girls.
Tracey felt as if she were being cuddled by a million people at once, all striving to make her feel warm, cared for, and loved. She closed her eyes as she felt herself cocooned in an all-encompassing embrace which even included the soft, gentle peppering of kisses on her neck and the back of her head; just the way Daphne did when she was held by her. The feeling of being loved, wanted, desired, and an overwhelming sense of safety and security seemed to build and build and build as she slid down into the bed and wrapped her arms around Pansy in an effort to share this amazing, intense experience. Finally, the expansive sensation pulsed and she became one with the feeling. She knew then that this feeling came from Harry yet had a component that nearly caused her to deify Hermione.
She closed her eyes with a level of happiness and contentment she had never felt before. She felt disconnected from corporeal reality and therefore did not notice the seeming convulsions her body underwent three times. She kissed the corner of Pansy's mouth and fell into a restful sleep, dreaming of a life with Harry, Hermione, and the other girls.
Daphne, on the other hand, felt a slow building of sensuality as arms encircled her and lips began to kiss her and teeth gently nibbled all of the places she liked and wanted to be kissed and nibbled. A sheen of perspiration glistened on her upper lip and eyelids as she blushed at the intimacy of some of those kisses and nibbles. She had never actually been nibbled or kissed in some of those places before and the feelings were both intense and intoxicating. For reasons she could not fathom, she felt as if Harry and Hermione were the ones doing those things to her. She closed her eyes and let these new feelings take her to new heights of sensation. As the intensity grew, she slid under the covers. Without conscious volition, her hands slipped within her clothing to touch the sensitive places the phantom lips and teeth were attending. Three waves of pleasure drenched her and filled her with mind-shattering intensity. She felt desired, beautiful, and wanted yet at the same time, it was not simply a physical attraction. She could feel the affection and the emotion behind wanting to be held and pleasured. She fell asleep with the knowledge that, to them, it was more important she had been pleasured and made to feel safe than any physical release they might have experienced.
Pansy, now asleep contentedly, on a subconscious level felt the level of safety and security that surrounded her grow exponentially. Whatever the case, she knew when Harry was there, she would be safe, content, and happy but never complacent. She would always strive to improve herself and the lot of others because that was what Harry wanted. And he wanted this for all of the girls, not just herself. She felt soft lips kiss her and her feelings, something she had striven to keep bottled up until they atrophied and died, awoke and told her this was another who, like her, had felt the need to hide behind a caustic front, needed affection to shatter the shell. In her sleep, Pansy reached out and pulled this other person in tighter. Although asleep, Pansy still felt the draw of the power washing over her, but instead of being overwhelmed, her subconscious mind opened to receive the gift of support this power offered. She slept, dreaming of the black-haired wizard and the brunette witch cuddling into her and holding her affectionately, and in turn allowing her to hold them as well.
All three girls were still asleep when the soft knock came at the door two hours later.
Dan and Emma were walking down the corridor and Emma was just about to knock on Harry's door when a wave of raw sexual arousal and lust washed over them. Emma was embarrassed when she realised her knickers had become amazingly damp but her embarrassment was amplified when Dan practically growled, ignored her protests, grabbed her hand, and sprinted back to their suite on the opposite side of the house.
Nearly two hours later, Emma staggered happily on unsteady legs, still trying to count the numbers of times she had screamed, "Yes!" in their bedroom. She lurched hand-in-hand with Dan into the kitchen to discover they were not the last ones to arrive. She looked over at her husband of fourteen years and realised that removing the smile from Dan's face would quite likely require a thermonuclear explosion or an announcement that Hermione was pregnant. Emma hadn't expected either at breakfast. She had certainly not expected to enter the kitchen to find Harry sitting at the kitchen table with his head in his hands.
Harry had heard a door slam as he finished the first of his auto-erotic ablutions, washed up, finished his handiwork, completed his normal morning routine of the brushing of teeth, the failed attempt to train his hair, then completed the routine by dressing.
He exited his own suite and walked down to the ground floor. He was rather surprised he was the only one in the dining room. Deciding he wanted some conversation, he entered the kitchen. He watched, in some surprise, as two house elves, Fluffy and Lolly, worked in absolute silence though seemed to be in perfect harmony with one another as they prepared ingredients for each of the individualised meals for the human beings present.
This immediately made him think of Dobby and wondered, without the diary, how he was going to free the hyperactive elf.
"Dobby," he whispered, curious to know if calling the elf would work.
"Dobby is being so happy The Great Master Harry Potter calls his Dobby!" Dobby exclaimed in his excitement the moment he popped into the room.
Dobby's behaviour – in fact, even his presence or his mannerisms – were not a surprise to Harry. What was a surprise was the twin looks of shock and sadness on the faces of the elves who had been preparing breakfast. Both of them looked as if someone had rudely asked Her Majesty an inappropriate question regarding bodily excretions at a state function. Harry made a mental note to discuss this further with the elves at a later time.
Harry put an arm around Dobby's shoulders and escorted him out of the kitchen, down the corridor, and into the sitting room as he surreptitiously cast silencing spells on the walls, doors, windows, floor, and ceiling of the room.
"Dobby, are you free from the Malfoys now?" Harry asked.
Dobby looked at him quizzically. "Dobby now The Great Master Harry Potter's elf. All Malfoy elves now The Great Master Harry Potter's elves. All Bad Tom Riddle's families now The Great Master Harry Potter's families." Dobby explained.
Harry didn't realise he had vocalised his thought. "Shit," he whispered.
Harry remembered the explanation the Basajaunik had given him concerning the Rites of the Victor and the rights and responsibilities of the victor. He had not entirely been prepared to essentially own all of the people who had sworn themselves to Riddle but the repercussions of his actions seemed to keep his face in better company with his palm than other portions of his anatomy.
"Were the Malfoys bad to you, Dobby?" Harry wondered aloud, considering all of the other changes he had experienced.
"Master Lucius was bad to elves but Master Lucius was much better to Dobby yesterday, The Great Master Harry Potter," Dobby explained.
"While I would not do this unless you wanted to, Dobby," Harry began and the elf seemed to acquire a focus on Harry whose intensity was almost terrifying to Harry, "but would you want me to give you back to them? Do you want to be the Malfoys' elf?" he asked.
Dobby's ears folded back and his entire mannerisms looked as if Harry had ordered him to bring a cane to punish Dobby.
"Did Dobby do something wrong, Great Master Harry?" Dobby asked in a tiny, quivering voice.
Harry knew Dobby needed some reassurance so knelt down and hugged him.
"No, Dobby. I just wanted to ensure your happiness if I can. Would you prefer to be my personal elf?" Harry asked and was nearly flung across the room as Dobby jumped up in his exuberance.
"The Great Master Harry Potter wants Dobby to be The Great Master Harry Potter's personal elf?! The Great Master Harry Potter makes Dobby so happy!" Dobby exclaimed as he began to joyfully cry.
"I am glad you're happy, Dobby," Harry commented before Dobby practically flew into a hug with him, "but I need you to call me either Master Harry or, if you can manage it, Harry. While I won't normally do this so insistently, you need to consider this an order," as Harry pulled back to look at Dobby.
Dobby looked perturbed for a moment, his ears drawn back and scraped against the sides of his head in a slow circle before a small smile formed on his face. "Dobby can be doing this," Dobby said and paused for a moment and seemed to mouth something silently though his lips barely moved and then said, "Master Harry."
"Thank you, Dobby. I just want to ensure you're not being punished unnecessarily," Harry explained as he knew elves often judged their sense of self-worth by witches and wizards having the ability to know when the elves subconsciously felt they had not performed adequately. Harry suspected Dobby was still using the same honourific but was silently including the exuberant, superlative "The Great". As long as he didn't have to actually hear it, he was fine with it though still cringed inwardly at anyone calling anyone else something so obsequious and embarrassing.
"Dobby thanks...Master Harry but Dobby must be going. Dobby taking care of nice surprise for...Master Harry!" Dobby exclaimed before he exuberantly popped out.
Harry stood, straightened his clothes, and looked at the two elves diligently working away on the preparations for breakfast.
"Lolly? Fluffy?" he asked. Both elves turned to him, their hands continuing to wave in front of them as they worked.
"I wanted to talk to you about Dobby," he explained quietly.
As one, their hands stopped moving. Food that appeared to be plating itself hung motionless in the air before the entire preparation area glowed an ethereal silver. Both elves turned to face Harry and present him with their full attention.
Harry took note of this as well as the way their ears drooped and pulled back. He suddenly found himself sitting in a chair that had not been there moments ago; conjured up out of the air by one of the elves. It looked like it was going to be a long conversation. He didn't know it would also be the spark that would ignite a fiery rage within the witchling he loved more than life itself.
Hannah Abbott had known she wasn't normal since she had found herself attracted to Susan Bones almost two years before starting Hogwarts. She had been afraid to tell Susan how she felt about her. She was quite surprised and hopeful when she had gone over to Susan's one day and her friend insisted they try some of the things they had read in the latest copy of "Witches Weekly" which, amongst other things, had articles concerning kissing styles and types and various things wizards liked to do to witches and how witches could teach their wizards to do these things in ways which titillated witches even more.
Susan's aunt had been called away suddenly, so the two girls were left to their own devices in Susan's bedroom while aurors guarded them from the corridor, stood guard outside on the grounds, and generally tried to ignore whatever it was two pre-teen girls were getting up to.
One day had extended into two, and then into three, when Amelia finally returned to Bones Manor. The relief and joy had been etched on the Bones matriarch's face when she saw Susan was not only safely tucked in bed, but that Hannah had remained the entire time. Amelia then went to her own bed and collapsed into oblivion and slept for the next twenty hours.
Hannah's parents were happy their daughter was keeping a friend company and knew she would be well taken care of and quite safe surrounded by so many adults.
Hannah's older sisters were attending Hogwarts during the autumnal months and had no idea what their youngest sibling got up to whilst at home.
Hannah and Susan had not merely given their first real kisses to one another.
They had learned, albeit from a magazine geared towards witches who were blossoming into their womanhood all the way through to the post-Hogwarts years, how a wizard would pleasure a witch and each one pretended to be The Boy-Who-Lived so the other could experience kisses of a more intimate nature from the fabled boy their imagination created.
Until the day, just a week before heading off to Hogwarts for the first time, that Hannah confessed to Susan that she had never imagined Harry Potter doing those things to her. She had always held Susan's face, lips, and wandering hands in her mind's eye as Susan snuffled, kissed, and teased her body like the taught instrument she felt like – being played the way a virtuoso gently and playfully played a prized violin.
She had been both horrified and terrified when Susan burst into tears, turned, and ran from the room. She was, in a word, devastated. At least she was until Susan came bursting back into the room moments later, her entire being gleaming, as she grabbed Hannah's hand and dragged her into her bedroom.
It was shortly thereafter that Hannah discovered Susan had been holding back her true feelings due to the two marriage arrangements which had been made by the late Edgar Bones, Susan's deceased father, for one Harry James Potter and Neville Franklin Longbottom.
And now the two of them were well on their way to being betrothed to Neville. They had explained their special relationship with one another to the boy and he seemed to be genuinely pleased that they cared for one another as well as him though he understood their relationship, at least until the completion of the trio's OWLs, would be a good deal more intimate than his relationship to either of them was a given. What he seemed to be thoroughly excited and happy about was that he would essentially have a practiced, skilled teacher in learning the physical and intimate likes and dislikes of each of the girls.
Hannah had also been pleased that, as the last Bones, Susan had been allowed to maintain her family name and Neville's vehement verbal and written agreement that she have sole control over the Bones legacy.
When they had returned to their dorm after some time with Neville, Susan had shown Hannah precisely how pleased she was with the betrothals and the resulting marriage contracts. Hannah doubted her legs were yet sturdy enough to walk after Susan's thoroughly intimate kisses had left her a gelatinous puddle of pleasured goo. She had recovered enough to think almost clearly and was gently running her fingers through Susan's hair as the beautiful Hufflepuff dozed with her head on Hannah's bare stomach.
"I want to wake up like this every morning," Hannah sighed softly.
"We will, Han," Susan rasped sleepily which somewhat surprised her lover.
Hannah sighed quietly. "You're certain you won't tire of me?" she asked nervously.
Susan lifted her head and looked into Hannah's eyes before closing the distance and giving her a Hannah-flavoured kiss.
"You are my first love and my greatest love. I will never give you up nor give up on you. This I swear," Susan said.
As the kiss ended, Hannah repeated the same words and made the same promise.
Both girls felt the vow as it settled into their magic.
Even their magic, now entwined, would help them to keep their love for one another reinforced.
"'Mione, have you ever heard of someone's magic being torn?" Harry asked the chocolate-eyed witch.
Hermione bit her lower lip and looked up and to the right. Harry noticed the other girls, except for Daphne, look quizzically at him. Daphne, however, seemed to cringe slightly before she quickly couched her features into a neutral mien.
"I think so. It was a book on curses in the restricted section," Hermione responded after a few moments. Harry watched as her eyes seemed to scan left to right rapidly, as if reading a book.
"It was written by a nearly illiterate who made gadzookery seem both formal and intelligible," she commented. "The essence of the piece is that, usually through some external manipulation of magic," she winced a moment, "a person's magic can be severely damaged. The particular entry was about a betrothed girl who was in love with a boy and had promised herself to him in such a way that, when her father signed the betrothal agreement with a rich merchant for her to marry him – a man fifty years her senior, as it turned out – her magic, as the author described it, tore," Hermione explained.
She looked up at Harry and took a deep breath. "She essentially went insane, Harry. From how the author described her, she had been quite a bright and lovely girl and changed dramatically overnight. One moment she was excitable and wanting to please everyone in sight and the next she was almost homicidal in her devotion to her new husband. She died after she took his mistress' life during an argument," Hermione finished.
Harry ran both hands over his face and took a deep breath before he released it in a great heaving sigh.
"Why do you ask, Harry?" Lavender asked. "Is that what is wrong with Ginny?"
Harry had drawn in another breath and released it explosively at Lavender's question. "Thank Merlin, no!" he said a bit emphatically and looked first at Hermione, then at his entourage of young beauties.
"A house elf I seem to have acquired from a former Death Eater is rather devoted to me. He had just been bonded to his master when his master swore his soul to another who took great pleasure in abusing the elf. Less than a year after all of this began, I vanquished his master for the first time. The result of the magical backlash essentially tore the elf's magic and made me the primary focus of the elf's life. With me rightfully claiming the victor's spoils, it would appear the elf's magic has been shattered."
In the cacaphony of noises of shock and sadness, Harry noted Daphne simply shook her head slightly with a hint of sadness.
"Daphne, would you like to share your thoughts?" Harry asked, which drew the attention of all the girls to her.
Daphne looked at Harry and sighed. "Something similar happened to one of my father's elves that night, likely due to similar reasons. Like the elf you speak of, she became fixated on you, constantly mentioning, for the month to follow, how you needed to be protected. Her work became less and less trustworthy as time went on. Father spoke to an expert on house elves and had her examined. Without even asking Father, the expert euthanised her when he examined her magic, saying she would have endangered the entire family."
"That's barbaric!" Hermione shouted indignantly at Daphne and stared accusingly at the older girl.
Daphne's expression immediately turned cold and defensive and heated words would likely have followed were it not for Luna's intervention.
"Hermione," Luna began, "don't muggles kill diseased pets when they are a danger to people?"
Hermione's accusing look was now redirected to Luna but she nodded.
"And people who are a danger to themselves and others, such as violent criminals. Aren't they sometimes killed to protect others?"
"No! They're..." Hermione began angrily, but Luna cut her off.
"Never, Hermione? Honestly? Why do the muggle aurors – soldiers, I believe they're called - carry flame appendages, like our wands, and kill other muggles with them? Those who are causing problems in the northern parts of Ireland? And some islands far away?"
"Well, yes, but..." Hermione was once again cut off by Luna.
"And Daphne said the elf expert didn't even ask her father before killing the elf but you seem to be blaming Daphne for it. Why is that?" Luna asked in genuine curiosity.
Hermione looked up at Daphne and saw the hurt and anger there for a moment. A tear welled up in her eye at the realisation of the mistake she had made.
"And Daphne certainly wouldn't have had any say in it. She was two, possibly three years old," Luna explained.
Hermione's righteous indignation fled and, in its place, an overwhelming sense of loss at the blooming relationship she was sure she had now destroyed. Her voice simply would not work and she couldn't see for the falling tears.
While Harry could feel her guilt, remorse, and pain, and he moved to embrace her, it was Daphne who enfolded her in a warm cocoon of a hug.
The older girl cooed at her and spoke gentle words of comfort. Luna joined the hug and made it three. Each of the girls, somewhat feeling Hermione's mixed and wildly-gyrating emotions, joined in a group hug to comfort and heal one of their own.
Amazingly, without conscious thought, they all moved to allow Harry to hold her and Daphne.
Hermione looked up at him, her eyes glistening with tears. "We're going to argue. We're going to have differences of opinion. None of these should ever outweigh the love we have for one another," Harry whispered loud enough for all the girls to hear as he thought to himself, "This could have been so much worse! I can't imagine what her reaction would have been if I told her I bound Dobby directly to me."
Throughout the afternoon and evening, they entered singly or as pairs but never more than two at a time.
In one of the upstairs rooms of The Slaughtered Unicorn, a disreputable pub in Knockturn Alley, a rather seedy group of men met to discuss what had happened to their patrons. In every case, not one of the men had ever been the recipient of a particular Proteon-based tattoo placed on their left arm, though each of their patrons had been proud recipients of that foreboding, dark mark.
The man who'd called them together, though some present would argue his humanity if they dared have the nerve to speak their thoughts aloud, had their undivided attention. He was a powerfully built man with a deep, rich, baritone voice; slightly pointed yellowing teeth; long, thick, grey hair; and foul, carrion-and-blood scented breath.
"All right, lads, listen up," Fenrir Greyback began. "I'll give you my honest opinion," he said as he looked over the room to ensure all present listened to him. Rare was someone brave enough, or more likely stupid enough, to not listen to the werewolf when he spoke. "All of our marked brethren are either dead or been turned and subverted to follow Potter."
Startled shouts of dismay and denial washed through the room.
He allowed them to carry on for a few minutes before he slammed his hand down on the table which, once again, brought the room to silence.
"It's true. I've seen what became of Lord Voldemort's mark placed upon the arms of his inner circle," Greyback said as he untied the cord holding a burlap sack shut on the table in front of him. From the bag he withdrew a detached arm with the House Potter coat of arms darkly tattooed. The arm appeared to have been torn or bitten off at the shoulder.
Greyback reached into the bag again and held up a detached head by its hair. To those who knew them, it was Amycus Carrow's head.
"This traitorous filth planned to turn us all in to the aurors or the goblins for a few galleons. He offered to give me his sister for his life. As you can see, I hold little value for traitors and oath breakers," he said in a deceptively quiet voice that still managed to carry to the walls of the room and be heard by all present.
"I don't believe a Potter would allow us our fun," the werewolf said jovially, the dozen members of his pack present laughed roughly at the comment.
"But," he said and the laughter died quickly, "I don't think the only Potter left has enough power to stop even one of us, much less all of us," he said as he casually tossed the head across the room for it to be caught and a bite taken out of it by the lycan who caught it.
"But he killed Voldemort, Lestrange, and Bellatrix! We have to run or hide or..." one of the men in the room shouted but was cut off as another of the weres tore the naysayer's throat out and tossed the soon-to-be-dead man down to exsanguinate on the soon-to-be crimson, filthy floor.
"Cowards! Is anyone else going to show their craven nature? Does anyone else wish to argue what we need to do?" Greyback asked rhetorically.
"No?" he asked after a few moments of silence. "Good. As I see it, the boy's real weakness is those sweet, delectable, little girls he has surrounded himself with. Even if he is powerful enough to take down one of us, maiming, killing, or in any way harming one of those delicious little creatures will destroy him. We just have to wait and find a time when we can get one or more of them when they're away from Hogwarts," Greyback explained.
The meeting went on for more than an hour as they discussed how best to separate the boy from his charges and the fun they would have once that was done.