"Thank you for seeing me, sir," said Hermione politely, keeping her eyes on the venerable Headmaster of Hogwarts. It was her first time in Dumbledore's office, and she found it hard not to gawk at all the fascinating knick-knacks around her.
"It is no trouble, Miss Granger. What can I help you with today?"
"It is about Harry, sir." She fidgeted with her hands a little. "What he did back there... I've never heard of a spell capable of creating a 'pocket dimension', as he called it. Not to mention, he didn't even use his wand! Then there's all the other weird things he did over the past two years, things that shouldn't have been possible..." the girl trailed off, looking rather unsettled by Harry's apparent disregard for the laws of magic.
"I wouldn't be opposed to sharing my theories with you, Miss Granger, but surely Mr. Potter himself would be the best person to direct your questions to? I have looked in on him myself this very morning, and while Madam Pomfrey intends to keep him in bed for a while longer, he is certainly well enough to have visitors."
"I tried!" Hermione huffed in frustration. "I couldn't understand half of the things Harry was saying, and when I asked him to explain, he just called me a pleb and told me to get on his level."
"I... see. In that case, please make yourself comfortable, my dear, for this might take quite some time. First of all, what do you know about the systems of magic?"
"The Roman-Latin school of magic is currently predominant in the world," Hermione answered immediately. "There still are practitioners of other kinds of sorcery in the more remote places on Earth, but they are slowly abandoning the old ways. Our wand magic is more powerful and convenient, and the spells are easier to learn. It is simply better."
Dumbledore chuckled good-naturedly. "Knowledgeable as always, Miss Granger. Yet what you've said about other magics being weaker than ours wasn't always true. The Ancient Egyptians are said to have commanded powers beyond our imagination using spells that are now lost to us. Closer to home, the Druidic lore of the Celts was powerful enough to resist the Roman invaders for many years. And yet, anyone attempting to perform their ancient rites today would find that they simply don't work, or else, their effects are but a pale shadow of what they used to be millennia ago."
Hermione frowned. "What if they were always that way? Legends often tend to exaggerate things."
"Indeed, that is the the view of many of our contemporaries. However, I personally subscribe to a certain theory created by a group of researchers about a century ago. These daring men and women claimed that the power of magic hinged on belief. For you see, at some point in history, both Roman and Egyptian schools of magic were equally powerful. Yet as the followers of the former grew in number, its spells became stronger, and the Egyptians began converting. Their own sorcery became weaker over the generations, until it finally died out. Some of their spells were incorporated into the Roman system, but no one these days is able to fully replicate their magical ceremonies.
"It is my opinion that this pattern repeated itself many times over history. Babylon and Persia, ancient Indian and Chinese cultures, Aztecs and Inca... A school of magic, closely tied to the peoples' culture and religion, would be born, flourish for a time, and eventually get absorbed into a stronger one, or disappear altogether. Of course, the innate magic of wizards and witches stayed the same – only the methods of accessing it changed."
Dumbledore paused for a moment and leaned back in his chair. "My guess should be obvious to you by now, Miss Granger: Harry has inadvertently created his very own system of magic. I can't even begin to guess as to how he accomplished a feat like that, but the results are apparent."
"I find that hard to believe," Hermione blurted out. "Sorry, sir, I didn't mean to contradict you. It's just that, you've said that the strength of a magical system depends on the number of its followers, and..."
"And Harry is the only one to demonstrate powers like that," Dumbledore finished, a twinkle in his eye. "Your skepticism is completely understandable, Miss Granger; you don't have to apologize for that. As it happens, I have come up with an explanation for this phenomenon. The answer lies with Muggles and their fascinating culture. Millions of people read, enjoy, and talk about the stories that inspired Harry so. It appears one does not need to have magic themselves in order to support its existence and facilitate its use by those who do."
Hermione gaped at Dumbledore for a few moments, the groaned and hid her face in her hands.
"Are you unwell, Miss Granger?"
"Of course I'm unwell!" Hermione exploded. "You've just told me that all magic depends on belief rather than a set of inherent and unchanging laws!"
"It is merely a theory, my dear, and a fringe one at that," Dumbledore explained, looking slightly alarmed. "Our system of magic does follow certain..."
"Tell me it isn't true! Better yet, Obliviate me right now!"
When Harry woke up in the hospital wing at Hogwarts, he found out that he had been asleep for three days straight from sheer magical exhaustion. He then had to spend two more recovering under the tender care of Madam Pomfrey, who wouldn't let him leave his bed except for a short trip to the loo. It was frustrating, but Harry was feeling quite weak and not really up to facing everyone yet. Thankfully, the mediwitch kept the visitors to the minimum, only allowing Scrimgeour, Dumbledore, Sirius, and Harry's closest friends anywhere near him.
When Harry was finally allowed to leave the infirmary, he did so under the escort of Ron, Hermione, and Luna. The group following the boy hero steadily grew as he moved towards the Great Hall, and everyone erupted in applause when he crossed the double doors. Harry grinned, waved, and endured congratulatory slaps on his shoulders all the way to his seat. Several people asked him what he had done to make both himself and Voldemort disappear during his duel, and Harry just answered curtly with 'magic' without going into too many details. Oddly enough, that was enough to satisfy the curiosity of most wizards and witches. More than one person also commented on his hair, which had white streaks going through it now – a side effect of wielding Curoch. He didn't particularly mind, especially after Parvati remarked that it looked 'wicked cool'.
As it turned out, there had been a celebratory feast at Hogwarts after Dumbledore came back and announced that Lord Voldemort had fallen to Harry Potter. Each of the Houses (with the possible exception of Slytherin) then threw their own parties, which, predictably, were a lot more raucous and wild. Ron gleefully reassured Harry that there would be another one in their Common Room that night, supposedly in Harry's honor. He strongly suspected that it was just an excuse to get drunk and fool around, but that suited him just fine.
Outside the school, mass celebrations had started the next day after the eventful battle, when the newspapers announced Voldemort's defeat. According to the latest Daily Prophet, the Ministry Obliviators were still dealing with the aftermath, making Muggles believe they witnessed a bunch of people dressing up for a fantasy convention or some such. The papers also sung praises to Harry and speculated endlessly on what magic he had used to defeat Voldemort. Their descriptions of the duel and the subsequent battle were surprisingly accurate, but, of course, they didn't know anything about what had happened after he activated his Reality Marble. Harry intended to keep things that way, partially because he didn't yet understand his newfound abilities very well, and partially because he was afraid of ending up as an experimental subject for the knowledge-thirsty Unspeakables.
That night's dinner was another feast, and the tables were groaning with mouth-watering food. Dumbledore made a speech to welcome Harry back among their midst, cutting it short when he saw that the young wizard wouldn't stop glaring at him. (Harry had no intention of forgiving the Headmaster for the whole fiasco with Snape anytime soon.) Everyone toasted Voldemort's vanquisher – with the exception of a few Slytherins, whose parents were now behind bars – and Harry felt all warm and mushy inside as he saw a sea of adoring and reverent students looking up to him. Then again, the defeated looks on the faces of the Death Eater children were satisfying in their own way.
Speaking of Death Eaters, Malfoy was sitting a small distance away from his usual flunkies and staring at Harry intently. He gave the Slytherin a careful nod to reassure him that he hadn't forgotten his promise. He was going to release Draco from the vow... After the boy testified truthfully in any trials the DMLE required him to. Harry had already spoken to Scrimgeour, and the Minister said the Malfoy heir would probably get off scott-free if he did that. The press would then hail the boy as a hero for standing up to his Death Eater parents, which would ensure that any Dark Lord sympathizers still at large saw him as a traitor. This way Draco would never – could never – become a Death Eater again.
"So, Man-Who-Conquered, what are you planning to do next?" asked Ron, punching Harry on the shoulder playfully. "Still going to come back to take your NEWTs?"
"Of course he is," said Hermione. "Harry needs them for his career."
Ron chuckled. "Everyone loves Harry right now. He could probably get a job anywhere he wanted through his fame alone. Or, even better, live on the stipend from the Order of Merlin he's inevitably going to receive." The redhead smiled wistfully as he imagined not having to work for the rest of his life.
"As I recall, the stipend is rather symbolic. Besides, Harry might actually have aspirations, unlike some people here."
Ron's easy smile finally vanished at Hermione's sharp words, and Harry interrupted before another argument could start between his two friends. "I am returning to Hogwarts, of course. It would be stupid not to finish the school now that we've only got one year left. Besides, I want to experience a fun senior year with no Voldemort or Snape to worry about. Just pranking, partying, and picking up girls."
"Well... I suppose that's all right, as long as you don't let your grades suffer," Hermione said dubiously.
"I'm not doing it so I can get a well-paid job after Hogwarts, though," Harry continued. "Keep this under wraps for now, but there was a bounty on Voldemort's head, and, well... suffice to say, I'm all set on that front."
"How large was it?" wondered Ron.
"One million Galleons," Harry replied nonchalantly as he loaded his plate with roast beef.
"How many zeroes is that?" his best mate asked in an awed voice, too flabbergasted to act jealous.
"Six, Ron. Honestly, why doesn't Hogwarts teach basic math?" Hermione frowned at the clueless redhead. "Anyway, Harry, what are you going to do with all that money?"
"Charity," he replied proudly. "I am going to open a fund to help war victims as well as marginalized groups like werewolves."
The brainy witch seemed pleasantly surprised. "That's very admirable, Harry."
"I know, right? The public is going to worship me," he gloated. "Except for the Ministry farts. They are going to be so pissed-off when they see their money going to werewolves. I can't wait to see their faces!"
Hermione sighed. "And here I thought you were doing this out of the goodness of your heart."
"Six zeros..." murmured Ron, a faraway look in his eyes.
The party in the Gryffindor Common Room was one to remember. McGonagall had come over and warned them not to go too crazy, but a few seventh-years busted out the booze as soon as she left. Ron went over immediately to arrange a game of beer pong, no doubt eager to show off his skills. Weird Sisters were playing on the wireless, the lyrics sounding rather amusing to Harry's Muggle-raised ears, and magical fireworks were going off every few minutes without emitting any smoke or heat. The younger years were eating joke candy and drinking butterbeer under the watchful eye of the prefects, who intended to send them to bed before things got too wild. Several older students gathered around Cormac McLaggen, who was trying to convince the upper-year girls that a wet T-shirt contest was in order.
Harry grinned when he saw that particular scene, and went about conjuring a hot tub. With enthusiastic help from most of the male student body, the end result looked more like a swimming pool, taking up most of the circular room. Thanks to everyone present casting Aguamenti, it didn't take very long to fill it with water. Tired of getting splashed, the girls soon began discarding their wet robes; many ran up to their dorms to grab a swimsuit or conjure one out of thin air.
"Just as planned!" Harry cackled dramatically, his eyes following the shapely behind of a seventh-year female.
"Harry, what are you doing?" asked Lavender, leaning on the wall of the pool. "Get some swimming trunks and join us!"
A few hours later, the party finally started winding down. Harry was resting on a couch, pleasantly buzzed and more than a little tired. Everyone wanted to talk to him, to touch him, to feel like a part of his legend. Harry took it all in stride. He especially enjoyed the female attention, but as he tried to flirt with the Gryffindor girls, his thoughts kept coming back to a certain quirky Ravenclaw blonde. He resolved to speak with Luna before they left for the summer, and hopefully keep in touch with her during the holidays.
"Hey, Harry," someone called out softly, and Harry turned to see Ginny approach him from the side. The girl was wearing a bathrobe over her bikini, and carrying a bottle of something clearly alcoholic in her hand.
"What's up, Ginny?"
The girl walked to the couch a little unsteadily and sat down right next to Harry, making him squirm uncomfortably. "I've been wanting to talk to you all night," she said coyly, her eyes downcast.
"What about?" Harry drawled, attempting to play it cool. He tried not to think about how Ginny was sitting so close that he could feel the warmth of her body, or how the obscenely short bathrobe somehow made her look even hotter than the more revealing swimsuit did.
"Can't you guess?" Ginny gave him a sultry smile, noticing the way his eyes wandered down to her bare legs. "I'll just say it straight out. I broke up with Dean last week, and, well... I've never gotten over you, Harry."
"Oh." He tore his eyes away from her expectant gaze and looked around the room, making sure none of the stragglers were paying him any attention. "This is... wow."
Ginny's confession put Harry in quite a quandary. On one hand, he had never really thought about her that way before. She was just Ron's younger sister, a little girl with a silly crush and a bad case of hero worship directed towards him. On the other, she had obviously become more mature this year, in ways both mental and physical. At the very least, there haven't been any 'elbow in a butter dish' accidents for quite a while.
"What is it, Harry?" Ginny whispered as she leaned over, her breath tickling his neck. "Don't you find me attractive?"
"N-no, I think you're pretty," he stammered awkwardly. It was mostly true, as well; Ginny wasn't a stunning beauty like Cho, but she was quite easy on the eyes now that she lost her baby fat. Why was he so hesitant? Here was a willing and attractive female, practically offering herself to him... Well, Ron might kick his ass after he finds out, but...
"I think we would be good together," Ginny spoke in a slightly slurred voice. "I know it."
Harry turned his head towards the younger girl and frowned. "How much did you have to drink?"
"I had a dream recently," the youngest Weasley continued to speak quietly, ignoring the question. "We were married happily and we had a son. We – hic – named him Albus in the memory of the greatest headmaster Hogwarts has ever known."
Harry shuddered in horror, the mental image sobering him up more effectively than the best Cleansing Potion ever could. What had he been thinking? Him and Ginny... The idea was laughable even before he had learned that the girl was, apparently, crazy.
"That's fucked up," said Harry dryly. "I'm flattered you think that highly of me, Ginny, but I'm not interested in you that way. Sorry."
"What? But I..."
"I'm going to get someone to help you to your dorms," Harry stated, getting up from the couch. "Goodnight, Ginny."
Harry was sipping a drink and lounging on the balcony overlooking the main floor of his establishment. He noted with satisfaction that the place was almost full, as it usually was at this time of the day. Despite the number of patrons present, all you could hear was soft, ubiquitous music, for each table was protected by privacy charms. The spectacular interior, created by the best Muggle and wizarding designers, was enhanced further by soft LED lighting and live fairies fluttering around the room.
Phantasmagoria was a restaurant and a nightclub, magically transforming every evening to suit the tastes of the different clientele. It was located at the top of one of the tallest skyscrapers in London, and sprawled across two stories. Harry had bought both floors shortly after he graduated, using the money from his bounty as well as an unexpectedly profitable Dogecoin investment he had placed during the summer before his seventh year. He then meticulously destroyed all records of the top two floors ever existing and hid them under Fidelius. That single charm was perfect for Harry's needs, concealing the place from Muggle eyes and cameras better than a complex warding scheme ever could.
Of course, pretty much everyone in the wizarding world knew about Phantasmagoria by now, seeing how adverts for it were plastered all over the magical shopping districts and settlements of Britain. Even some magic-aware Muggles, such as parents of Hogwarts students who visited the Diagon Alley and saw the posters, wandered in occasionally to enjoy the clearly magical atmosphere and the amazing view. Harry made sure they would be welcome; money was money, after all, and his establishment was accepting all kinds.
He put down his drink and stood up to greet his guests. "Fred, Hermione, George, Angelina. It's good to see you, guys." He shook hands with the twins and gave the girls a hug.
Hermione lingered in his arms for a moment and gave him a peck on the cheek. "Luna's not here?"
"She couldn't make it. They're running some sort of a test down in the Department of Mysteries, and she wanted to observe the results firsthand."
"Interesting," Hermione murmured. "I'll ask her tomorrow."
Despite her analytical mind and aptitude for research, Hermione had chosen to go into politics after Hogwarts, fighting for the rights of Muggles and non-human Beings in the wizarding world. She still maintained an interest in magical research, however, and pursued a few projects in her spare time. At least Fred was there to make sure she was eating and sleeping properly.
The five friends made small talk as they enjoyed a luxurious dinner. After everyone was fed and watered, Harry brought up the reason he had called the meeting. Truth be told, Harry would have preferred to talk about this with the twins alone, but their girlfriends were bound to find out eventually.
He took a small orb out of his suit and placed it on the table. "I took a look yesterday, and this is bloody amazing. You've really outdone yourselves, guys."
Fred grinned proudly "Ah, our Daydream Charm. We thought you might like it. Our customers are quite interested in it, but we're having trouble coming up with good material. For now, we've tuned the magic so the user creates most of the story himself, much like in a dream, but the results have been mixed."
"Some of our customers returned it, complaining that their daydream degenerated into a nightmare," the other twin clarified at Harry's questioning glance.
"What if we used them like memory orbs? Would that work?"
The twins exchanged a glance. "We'd have to adjust it a little, remove the imagination trigger, but in general... I don't see why not. "
"This has potential like you wouldn't believe," Harry breathed. "Few could resist the temptation to fly as Krum in World Cup finals or to win a professional Duelling Competition. Hell, I bet even my memory of the Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets would sell like hotcakes! Not to mention, the time I've faced the dragon in the Triwizard Tournament, or even when I fought Voldemort..."
"We'd give you–"
"Fifty percent of the profits!"
Harry grinned at the twin-speak, a sure sign that the Weasleys were excited about something. "Make it sixty and we have a deal. Better yet, why don't we start a company which would focus on these things alone?"
"I'm sure it could be used for educational purposes as well," Hermione offered her input. "Whole lectures could be packaged up. It would be just like learning in a classroom, with the downside of not being able to ask the teacher any questions."
"I suppose we could do that, too," Harry said with distaste. "But I have an idea which would be a hundred times more profitable."
"Let's hear it, then."
Harry raised his index finger, pausing for dramatic effect. "Porn."
Hermione nearly choked on her dessert. "W-what?"
Harry grinned at his friend. Hermione had become more calm and collected over the years, and he secretly treasured the moments when he could still surprise her like that.
"It was actually the first thing on my mind when I found out about the Daydream Charm. I mean, what else would you use a realistic virtual experience for? We'll have to hire some magical actors or find out whether memories can be extracted from Muggles, but we can iron out the details later." Harry stood up and struck a pose, his eyes shining with greed. Framed by the lights behind him, he cut an imposing figure. "While the wizarding world has no adult entertainment to speak of, it is a multi-billion industry on the Muggle side. Just imagine what would happen if we offered this stuff to a completely untapped market. With Veela, Metamorphs, and the Polyjuice Potion available to us, the possibilities are endless... Mark my words, this is going to take the entire wizarding world by storm!"
Fred grinned. "Billions, huh? I like the sound of that."
"Me too, brother of mine. This will probably destroy the productivity of wizards across the globe, but we are beyond petty concerns like that," George added.
"Pornography degrades and objectifies women!" Hermione spoke up indignantly. "Angelina, you agree with me, don't you?"
"Can't say I do, Hermione. Me and Georgie, we sometimes like to watch a dirty movie together and..." the other woman at the table trailed off, ducking her head shyly and giving her significant other a glance.
"Damn, George, you're a lucky man. Looks like you're outnumbered, Hermione." Harry sat down again, smiling at his flabbergasted friend. It took a while for Hermione to regain her composure.
"You don't even need the money," she protested, finally coming up with another argument. "The latest Magiconomist said Phantasmagoria was more profitable than all your competitors in the Diagon Alley combined."
"There's no such thing as too much money, Hermione. Not when it comes to what I'm doing, anyway."
"And what is that, exactly?"
"The same thing I've been doing for the past few years: trying to take over the world!"
Hermione hung her head and buried her face in her hands. "We're doomed."
A/N: Thank you for reading! This story was a bit all over the place, but that's what happens when I write whatever I want. Please leave a review and tell me what you thought of it. For more in the same vein, check out my new story Weeb.