Chapter 3. Celestial Justice.
"I, Harry James Potter, do seek Justice in the Heavens, and so I ask you to be my lawyer", Harry intoned the ceremonial phrase.
"In the name of Justice I, Teri of the Heavens, agree to be your lawyer, Harry James Potter", Teri replied in the same monotone.
Atyllie, who has just returned to her office with a heap of papers in her hands, sealed the deal with a less ceremonial, but nonetheless fitting phrase.
It took less than thirty minutes for Harry to understand that his decision to request a Celestial Lawyer was probably the best decision he has ever made in his life. As soon as Atyllie understood what had happened, she fled her office, mentioning something about need to see her boss. Teri only smiled like a cat that ate the canary.
"You see, Harry, mortals rarely receive Celestial Justice. Mostly my Department deals with conflicts between other Departments, it is a rare opportunity to work with a conflict between a Celestial Department and a mortal."
"But why me? It's not like I'm anyone important."
"Stop that line of thought this instant", Teri cut him sternly. "Your life is part of an A-class Fate's Pattern, suffice to say that makes you one of the most important mortals in the world, and perfectly entitled for Celestial Justice."
"So normal people can't hope to get it? Even if Heavens ruin their life by mistake?"
Teri sighed. "Harry, you must understand that for mortals, unless their fates are part of some Pattern, existence of Heavens changes nothing. Freedom of will creates too much unpredictability in any individual fate. Any mistakes made by Heavens, be they positive or negative, are simply lost in the background noise. Why, more often than not it's impossible to even determine if the mistake was positive or negative in the first place, much less evaluate it's scale. All too often some events, which most mortals would consider positive, become outright negatives in the slightly longer perspective. This is why the only mortals that my Department becomes involved with are those, whose fates are part of major Patterns, and only while said Patterns are active. Only when the mortal's fate is part of a Pattern, preferably a major one, it becomes possible to evaluate Celestial influence with any degree of certainty."
"And is my Pattern major enough?"
"As I said, the Pattern you are currently part of is A-class. This is as major as it gets. A-class means that should this Pattern fail, consequences for humanity as a whole will be extremely negative. I'm not speaking about extinction of humanity here, but humankind will receive a very hard blow in it's progress and development."
Needless to say, Harry was not inspired by this piece of news. "Right. No pressure."
"Oh, there's a lot of pressure on you, Harry. But please tell me - would you rather live your life without knowing the stakes? Or do you prefer to know the truth?"
"That's a loaded question", sighed Harry. "I do prefer the truth, I just... well, I would prefer this truth to be different."
"Who wouldn't?", shrugged the Goddess of Justice. "Everyone has to work with whatever he has, not with whatever he would like to have. Anyway, I still have not explained why you don't really want the compensation that the Department of Love was so eager to provide."
Harry raised his eyebrows and settled more comfortably in the chair, but he didn't say a word, looking at Teri expectantly. She walked around the desk and settled into Atyllie's chair, putting her elbows on the desk and propping her chin on the hands.
"So now that you understand the basics of Celestial Justice, you can probably see why accepting the offered settlement is a bit unwise. The only reason Department of Love offered you any settlement at all is not because they have failed you - but because they have failed the Fates. In other words, everything they have offered you is geared towards one thing only: making sure that you have the necessary resources to accomplish your role in the Pattern. They could care less about the price that you will have to pay in doing so. Whether you finish the Pattern as someone who is famous, respected, rich and loved - or someone who is broken, lonely, destitute and despised by everyone - for as long as you complete the Pattern successfully, they will be happy."
He nodded in understanding. Harry could easily expect a similar attitude from Fudge's ministry. Stands to reason bureacrats here in the Heavens are no better.
"Now let me explain their exact offer to you. The physical improvement looks fine at the surface, but do you really want to spend most of your life satisfying the physical needs your soul-mates? There's no doubt you'll be able to - but do you want physical sex to be the only thing preventing them from leaving you? Or perhaps you would wish to be something more, to be somebody whom the girls would love not only because he can give them a great shag."
The entire topic of conversation sent Harry into a heavy blush - he was not used to speaking about such subjects with women. Even if those women were goddesses.
"Then of course, there's the offer of soul-bonds. Now that's something I really hate. Full soul-bond that the Department of Love is so much fond of is like a sledgehammer. Reliable as one, and similarly subtle. Honestly, you have two people that you must bring together? Link them with a soul-bond, so now they have no choice but either accept each other completely, or tear each other's guts out." Seeing Harry's questioning gaze, she explained. "A full soul-bond is a condition where you share all your thoughts and feelings with your partner. You can feel what she feels, you can hear everything she thinks, you can even share her senses with the slightest effort - and vice versa. And of course there's absolutely no privacy to either of you. Can you imagine yourself in such a situation?"
Harry shivered at the thought. He could see himself agreeing to such a bond with a girl that he was fully in love with. That could probably cement the relationship instead of breaking it apart. But with a girl that he was still building a relationship? She would probably come to hate his guts in a day or so.
"And now imagine having ten such bonds at the same time?"
"Merlin save me", he blurted immediately. "I would go mad!"
"It's a possibility", nodded Teri, "though it's more likely that you will just have a nervous breakdown in a week or so, and then eventually get used to it. But you would be a changed person afterwards, and the girls as well."
"So if the offered settlement is useless, what can I do?"
"Why", she grinned widely, "We will determine a more suitable compensation, one that will not only help you with your role in the Pattern, but will also let you come out of it in as good a shape as possible. In fact, if everything goes well, we can establish you a better position than you would originally get."
"How is that possible? I got the impression that the Celestial Departments are not fond of doing more work than necessary."
"Normally they are. However they are in a pinch. Their attempt to settle this situation with you privately and throw everything under the rug has failed. You now got a lawyer, and can threaten them with a full-scale case. Such a case will inevitably take a lot of time - time that they do not have. Right now we are using the real time as your body is sleeping. However if our negitiations take more time than a few hours, Department of Love will have to request time compression. This means inderdepartmental requests and official channels, and this is exactly what they do not want, especially since it will cost them as well. Do you understand what this means?"
Harry smiled for the first time since his arrival, and his smile was positively evil, "This means we can blackmail them into giving more than they want - probably even more than we could get if we went through the official trial."
"Right on one, boy. Are you sure you are not a Slytherin?"
"The Hat did want to put me there. I didn't let it, though. So you could say I'm a very well camouflaged Slytherin."
He mulled over these revelations for a bit. So whatever settlement the Department of Love was offering was not for his benefit. But he did have the power to negotiate something more acceptable. What were his chances though? He was just a mortal - all right, pretty important mortal if Teri was right about his importance for Fates. Then another thought struck him. It was a daring idea, but if it worked... why, if it worked then the Department of Love would solve some of his problems and pay for this as well.
"Teri, I've got a question."
"Sure, go ahead."
"We are going to negotiate this settlement because this mistake by the Department of Love really messed my life, and I'm a pretty important due to my involvement in the A-class Pattern, right?"
"That's a pretty good summary."
"But what about the girls?"
Teri gave him an uncomprehending look. "And what about the girls?"
Harry gave her a thin smile. "As you and Atyllie have said, by becoming my soul-mates they also became part of the A-class Pattern. And their lives also became messed up due to Department of Love's mistake. What I'm saying", he closed his eyes for a moment and then plunged ahead, "Is that the girls should be invited here as well, to be able to negotiate their own compensations."