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The next morning, the tables in the Great Hall were abuzz with the information that Draco Malfoy was in the Hospital Wing.   Rumours flew as to what had put him there, especially since Crabbe and Goyle were also there, although they had never lost consciousness.   Some said that Draco had brought it on himself, while some of the Gryffindors were saying that Harry had hunted him down and beaten him nearly to death.   The Weasley contingent at the table was resolutely silent, since there was a well known hatred running from their family to the Malfoys and back, but to gloat over what had happened would mean that they would then be supporting Harry.   This was right out, as far as they were concerned.   There also appeared to be some quiet conversation among the upperclassmen.

At their usual table, six people sat, talking over the previous night's occurrences.   "Wait," Neville said, "you simply grabbed Pansy and Apparated to the Hospital Wing?   How did … after all, as I'm sure Hermione will point out -"

She grinned and said, "According to Hogwarts, A History, you can't Apparate on Hogwarts grounds."

"Well, maybe Dobby appeared and carried us there without me knowing,   Maybe Hogwarts herself loves me," Harry pondered facetiously.   "No matter how I did it, I'm just glad I got her there in time."   He shook his head.   "What Draco did tore her apart inside, and if not for us getting there so fast, she might have had permanent damage.   I'm just thankful that whatever got me to the Hospital Wing was there to do it."

Pansy thought for a moment.   "I wish I knew why the little shit screamed when he started to violate me," Pansy said, brows knit in confusion.   "It was nothing that I did to him."

"It could be the Oath that he swore," Hermione said.   "The most likely outcome from breaking an Oath such as the one that he swore would be to visit pain on the one causing it."

Luna chimed in.   "He'd better hope the Muggle magicians aren't right," she said in a sing-song voice.

"Explain, please," Harry said.

"They have a rule; a law, really.   They call it the Three-fold Law.   I think it goes something like, 'What you wish for me and mine, returns three times to thee and thine.'   I'm not sure how they enforce it, though."

"I’ve heard of that," Hermione said.   "I was studying various religious practices of the Muggles for an extra credit essay in Muggle Studies, and came across that Law.   My studies seem to indicate that it’s not a literal law, but a belief of a group that calls themselves Wiccas or Wiccans (either is correct, apparently).   They believe that it’s is a spiritual or religious law on par with physical laws such as gravity or electromagnetic forces."   She stopped and looked at the others, who were looking between Harry and her in amusement.   "Sorry, I get pedantic at times, and …"

"You’ve got a dangerous weapon there, Hermione.   I think he likes it when you get like that."

Harry blushed profusely and tried to hide the physical evidence that he rather liked it when she did ‘get like that’.


It was fairly late in the month when Albus Dumbledore called the five of them to his office.   "I have the unpleasant duty to inform you that willful ignorance and corruption still run rampant at the Ministry.   It was decided that there was simply not enough evidence against Draco Malfoy to make a viable court case."   He paused.   "It is possible that some good may still come of it, however.   Amelia Bones has decided that it is time to do a full audit of the Minister's finances, and she has convinced the management of Gringotts to help her."   He shook his head as if to clear the extraneous thought.   "However, this means that Draco will not pay criminally for his assaults on either of you."

Harry shook his head.   "Makes sense, mind you.   This is my last year, so it's back to being treated like shit by the wizarding world, pardon my language."   He frowned as the others looked puzzled.   "It's a pattern that got thrown off by Voldemort returning.   First and third years I was lauded as wonderful and something worth protecting.   Second year I was the Heir of Slytherin, and fourth I was that evil boy trying to take the glory from Cedric.   With Moldy coming back, and me making the mistake of actually saying it, that carried the crap into the next year as well; I became an attention seeking idiot with mental problems.   Until, of course, the Minister was forced to admit that Voldemort was back when he showed up at the fricking Ministry!   Then I was lauded as the brave hero, silently accepting the slings and arrows of an unforgiving public while the Ministry did everything it could to prove me right.   If you believe what the Ministry was feeding to the papers, anyway.   So since the pattern was disrupted, this is my year for being the recipient of all the world's crap."

"I do have some small good news for you, Harry," Dumbledore said with a very small smile.   "While we may not have been able to imprison him for his deeds, there are two things that you need to know.   First off, because he broke his Oath, he apparently receives what he gives unto others.   If he attacks them, he receives the curses and blows.   If he does good unto them, he receives that in return.   Being who he is, he has not made that connection, and it seems that those who discovered it forgot to tell him.   The second thing you may be pleased to hear is that, while he will not face punishment in the criminal arena, he will in the academic.   Amelia Bones and I talked to the Board of Governors for the school, and we have a nearly unanimous decision to expel him from Hogwarts, the only nay vote coming from Lucius Malfoy, of course."

Harry brightened.   "A small ray of sunshine in an otherwise dark and dingy school year."   He paused.   "Present company excluded, of course," he said with a slight blush.   He received five smiles in return, not to mention the twinkle that accompanied the Headmaster's smile.

Professor Snape entered the office.   "I am sorry to bother you, sir, but I just received word that Narcissa and Draco are walking up from Hogsmeade to retrieve his belongings.   I thought you might wish to know."

"Thank you, Severus."   Albus frowned slightly.   "I can not stop you from doing so, but I would appreciate it if you would not find him and taunt his final exit of the school."

Harry nodded.   "I have no problems with that.   I would like to be there to watch him exit for the last time, but I promise not to start anything that would otherwise provoke him.   Other than being alive, that is."   His face formed a momentary grimace, something that looked like it was trying to be both a smile and frown at the same time.   "Ladies?" he asked as he turned to them.

They all nodded their agreement, and Pansy spoke up.   "Not to change the subject, but ever since - well, the thing that caused today's jubilant occasion, you've not called us girls since then.   Why is that?"

"You've proven that you are all ladies," Harry said simply, as if the very concept were obvious.   "Calling you girls assumes that you show a level of immaturity that just isn't there, and therefore insults you.   Also, I use it as a term of respect."

"Thank you," she replied, then kissed his cheek, making him blush yet again.

Albus stood.   "I am loath to end this pleasant conversation, but I feel that I must be there for Mrs. Malfoy and her son to complain to for a bit.   If you all will excuse me?   You may stay if you wish."   He stood and quickly exited the office.

Severus Snape turned as well, but Harry stopped him quickly.   "Sir?   I want to thank you again for your help this past month.   I think that without you as a sounding board, the ladies here would have had a much rougher month."

The Potions teacher snorted.   "You have managed this year to destroy a much-cherished notion, I'll have you know.   I was quite secure in the knowledge that you were an overbearing, spoiled brat who needed his head deflated on a regular basis, exactly as your father was at this age."   He smiled very slightly.   "How dare you change my perceptions."

"I'm sorry,. sir," Harry chuckled.   "I'll change back to your old image of me immediately."

"Don't you dare!" Severus replied with something that sounded suspiciously like his own laugh.   "Now, I must be there to protect the Headmaster from being sliced by Narcissa's sharp tongue."   He also left.

Susan's eyes twinkled.   "They'll be gone for a while.   Should we leave, or should I live out my fantasy of making love on the Headmaster's desk?"

Harry's eyes closed as he tried to banish the image that came to mind at that question.   He also knew that it was fairly obvious to them that he wasn't successful.   "I think we'd best exit as well," he strangled out.

"That's cruel, Susan," Hermione said quietly at the bottom of the stairwell.   Just entering the top, Harry still managed to hear the whispered conversation.

"I don't mean to be, Hermione," came the soft response.   "I love him so much, and I admit that he makes me so horny it hurts sometimes.   Should I cut back on the teasing?"

"I don't know.   I can come up with logical reasons both ways."

Once he was at the bottom of the stairs, Harry pulled Susan into a hug.   "Thank you, Susan.   I don't mean to frustrate you so much.   I'm so confused these days.   At one point I felt for you four exactly as I felt for Ginny, but it's different now.   I don't have a reference for it, so I can't describe it to you.   But you all mean the world to me, and I don't want you hurt."

He took a deep breath.   "Merlin knows that I'd like to be friends with benefits with all four of you."   He chuckled.   "I think I'm making that especially evident to you right now, Susan."   He went serious again.   "But I just … I don't … I don't want you thinking it means that I love you.   I don't know anymore what I feel for you, and making love to any to you   - well, it would be far too easy to convince ourselves that it's love, and you'd be hurt.   I'll be damned if I'll let any of you get hurt if I can do something to prevent it.   I know the rejection hurts, but it's got to be less painful than giving your heart completely to me."

He missed the look that passed amongst the women he shared his suite with.


They headed to the entrance hall to await Draco's final exit from the building.   Harry specifically pulled Susan against him self to hug her, her back against his chest.   "I rather like the teasing, Susan.   If it makes you happy, then keep it up."   He paused and chuckled.   "I can guarantee that I will if you do."

"Harry!" she said, in delighted shock.

"I've told you before what you do to me, and I'm the only male in this school who's been lucky enough to see the best ass in the school unclothed.   As long as you realise how I feel about you, tease me for as long as it makes you happy."   He paused.   "Besides, if I'm honest with myself, you doing that makes me start to believe that I just might be worth loving, even after this whole mess with the ferret."

She turned in his arms.   "You are worth loving, Harry."   She reached up and pulled his head down a little, and placed a gentle, passionate kiss on his lips before disengaging completely from him equally as gently.

There was a look of wonderment on his face as they broke, and it changed as he stood there.   It almost seemed as if he were coming to an epiphany when they heard noise from further in the building, and turned to face Dumbledore, Snape, and the two Malfoys walking toward them   Draco was levitating his belongings behind him.

"Well, if it isn't Potter and his whores," Draco said as they got close enough.   "Here to gloat over my removal?"

"No," Harry said.   "Just ensuring that your stench will never again corrode the stone of these hallways."   Narcissa inhaled deeply in shock and anger, and opened her mouth as if to respond.   "You're a Black by birth, cousin," he said before she could speak.   "That gives you some leeway in my eyes, since the family did produce two decent people."

"Thank you," she said through gritted teeth and with a grudging nod.

"I thought you'd appreciate being known for being a sister to Andromeda and a cousin to Sirius," he said with a cheeky grin.   "Until you declare yourself in opposition to Voldemort by divorcing Lucius and disavowing him, I'm afraid I have to consider you in the same boat as your other sister, the wanted fugitive."   He could see Severus's look of rage, but he had also learned something of the man's body language.   Severus Snape was fighting quite hard to avoid laughing uproariously.

"Insolent little half-blood," Narcissa snapped.   "Someday you will come to appreciate your betters."

"Oh, I do," Harry said sincerely.   "And I thank the gods every morning that these four were brought into my life."   He gave the two closest to him, Pansy and Susan, one-armed hugs.

Draco was seething at this point and proceeded to prove his level of intelligence to everyone present.   "You'll not get away with insulting my family, Potter!   Everbero!"   An ugly purple beam about six inches across belched from Draco's wand and sped toward Harry.   Given the short distance between the two, there was no chance for anyone to do anything to stop the beam from hitting Harry.   This led to them not being able to react with anything more than stupefied shock when it simply hit Harry and did nothing.   However, at the moment that it struck Harry's chest, Draco exploded across the hallway, smashing into the stone hard enough to shake dust loose from the ceiling.

They stared for a few moments before Narcissa turned to tear into Harry.   She stopped short at his own look of shock, and even horror, and was apparently surprised even further by his running to Draco and pulling his wand.   He murmured something and ran his wand over Draco, then shouted, "St. Mungo's emergency ward, now!" at Dumbledore.

Without a second's hesitation, the headmaster pulled out a scrap of paper and tapped his wand to it, murmuring "Portus."   He handed it to Narcissa and Severus and told them to place it on Draco and then activate it.   Moments later, the three were gone.

He turned to Harry and said, "I may not have the right, Harry, but I am quite proud of you right now.   You had a chance to legitimately let a long-standing foe die, and none would have thought worse of you.   Rather, you have likely saved his life."

"How could I do otherwise, sir?   If I let him die, you know that there would be stories about me killing him in the paper, and Fudge would be calling for my head.   Probably have me in Azkaban with a snapped wand before you could finish pronouncing the 'S' in 'Stop!'"

"I wish that I could argue with you," came Dumbledore's sad reply, "but his history has shown otherwise."


As November slid into December, Harry was unfortunately proven right once more.   Malfoy, now free of reprisals from Harry and friends, had apparently gotten to the Daily Prophet and put his own spin on the past few months.   There were now nearly daily articles about Draco's recovery from the curse that Harry had apparently so viciously cast upon him, and how this was actually the result of a lover's spat gone terribly wrong.   "The truth be damned," Harry had muttered at the time.   "Whatever sells the most papers.   God forbid they actually talk to me to find out my side."

Dumbledore had informed him that Pensieve memories would not be accepted if they attempted to fight it, because of the fact that Albus was a known supporter of Harry’s and an extremely skilled Legilimens.   This would make any Pensieve memories suspect.   Severus didn’t dare go public lest he be rather severely chastised by Voldemort.   "Cornelius was rather pleased to be telling me this," Albus told Harry in one of his rare angry moods.

The school's reaction was exactly what he knew it would be.   Even some of the Hufflepuff students began to question supporting him, which had Susan seething quietly.   Some of the Ravenclaw students began a petition to request that the Board of Governors find some method of censuring Harry for the conduct being reported in the Prophet.

It reached the point that Dumbledore was forced to put up wards to prevent Howlers from making it onto school grounds, done so because of a particularly heart-rending piece of fiction created by Draco.   Two hundred and forty-three Howlers were delivered the day the story printed, with nearly two hundred of them arriving at almost the same moment during breakfast.   The resulting explosion of sound blew out the windows in the Great Hall.

Unfortunately, the explosion of noise caused by meddlesome people who trusted only what they read in the paper gave just enough ammunition to those in the school trying to hurt him.   He was informed two weeks and three days before the winter break began that he was being suspended from school for the two weeks prior to the break, and the two weeks after, since he had obviously become a severe danger to other students.

"The Board feels that my absence during this time may permit tempers to cool and is sorry that they felt the necessity to do this," he growled to the Headmaster as the five of them sat in Dumbledore's office.   Harry looked up.   "So, I'll head to Grimmauld Place tonight, after classes are finished."

Luna looked thoughtful for a moment.   "I had always wondered what happened when someone spoke of a thing protected by Fidelius," she finally said.   "It's either that, or you have begun to speak Gibberish like a native."

Harry started and then chuckled at Luna's comment.   "Sir?   I own the building, and never thought about it.   Is it problematic to switch Secret Keepers?"

"Actually, no.   I suspected this might become necessary some day.   As long as the secret has not changed, the transference is easy."

Harry thought for a moment.   "No.   Leave it as it is.   I have no problems with the Order using the place as it has been and see no reason to change it.   We need a new one that states that my permanent residence is there.   Any other phrasing might make everyone forget I exist."

"Excellent idea, Harry.   We shall perform the Charm over the break, if you do not mind.   I shall need to gather one or two things to be able to properly perform it."

"That works for me, sir.   I suppose that I should return to my suite and get packed, since I'm leaving tonight."   He paused, and then reached up and removed his Head Boy badge.   "Better take this back, since I think that the Governors will soon realise that I'm also the Head Boy.   That won't do for them, I'm sure."   Another pause.   "Besides, you should give it to someone as an interim job for the two weeks on either side that I'm not here."

Albus looked as old as his actual age for just a moment.   "I fear you are correct," he finally said.   "Trust that I will not sit idly by and let them destroy your school career."

"I do, sir, but they have the court of public opinion behind them and will probably use that to bludgeon you with."   He stood.   "Well, time to go pack, I think."

Back in his quarters, he began to load everything he owned into his trunk's multiple compartments.   "Harry?" Pansy asked.   "Why are you taking everything?"

"Because I fully expect that the six weeks I will be gone from this school will conveniently end up with my utter removal from the school - for the safety of others, of course.   I'd prefer not to be in a situation where I must place myself at the mercy of the other students, since they have none.   If I'm wrong about my expulsion, then I will come back without a problem.   If I'm right, I've saved myself a trip."   His packing finished, save for the books he still needed, he turned to face four very unhappy women.   "Aw crap.   What did I do wrong this time?"

"Thinking it through so logically," Hermione answered.   "You're entirely right about your logical progression.   Draco will surely work to get you expelled and then himself reinstated."

"I'm out of here the day that happens," Susan replied.   "I don't care if I miss my N.E.W.T.s.   I will not stay in this school if that monster is given free reign, which is what the Governors will be doing if they return him to this school.   I follow Harry."

Pansy snerked.   "That's a lesson that my fellow Slytherins would do well to learn - 'Just and loyal does not mean pushover.'"   Susan smiled brightly at her.


Harry did not sit quietly at Number 12 Grimmauld Place.   He threw himself into studying, stopping only when Dobby and Winky came to him and reminded him to eat.   He wanted the holidays free of school worries, as far as homework was concerned, so he was trying to get that homework completed, up to and including the two weeks he'd miss after the break was over.

Remus was a regular visitor to the house, and Harry told him of his plans in regards to the second Fidelius Charm that they planned to cast.   "Good thinking.   What I'm really wondering is how you're handling this situation, though."

Harry grimaced.   "How do you think?   The wizarding world has caused me to invent a new word - sheeple.   They follow blindly, like sheep, after all.   They forget what happened just a month ago.   I mean, seriously Remus.   How can they go after Draco like a shark goes after blood, and then turn around and trust the word of the same person that they were savaging just days before?   They were cheering the expulsion of Malfoy from Hogwarts!"   He sighed and ran a hand through his hair in frustration.   "I tell you this, Remus:   when this is all done, and Voldemort lies dead at my feet, I'm leaving before they can decide to throw me in Azkaban for his murder.   I understand that the Americans have a decent wizarding population."

"You'll likely run into the same attitude," Remus replied.   "The 'Sheeple Effect', I guess you could call it, is a worldwide phenomenon and not limited to wizards and witches."   He smiled suddenly.   "I'm glad to hear one thing, though.   You spent last year unsure if you were going to survive the fight with Voldemort, and now you're talking about what you plan to do afterwards."

"I have four women who have given me a reason to live, Remus.   "

"So when's the wedding?" came Remus's laughing response to that.   He stopped suddenly when he saw that Harry was blushing.   "You didn't!"

"No, not yet.   Actually, I didn't really think about it until you actually asked it, and suddenly realised that I actually do want to spend the rest of my life with the four of them.   I think I understand what real love is now, Remus, and I can't wait to see them and tell them."   He stopped, wonderment etched deeply on his face.  "My God, Remus, I'm in love.   I'm in love!"

"Finally admitted it to yourself," said Remus, pulling Harry into a hug.   "I'm glad to hear it.   We've all been wondering when it would finally strike you how you felt toward those four."   He laughed again.   "If you had told me in even your fifth year that you'd be contemplating marrying Pansy Parkinson, I'd have been looking for signs of the Imperius.   Now I know her myself and can't think of a better choice."   He grinned.   "Except Hermione, and you're planning on marrying her too."

The two men sat and talked for a while about anything and everything with Remus getting a promise extracted (quite easily, if truth be told) to take Harry ring shopping.   He wanted an engagement ring for each one.


It was the last day of the first term, and Harry was waiting anxiously for them to get out of school and get to Grimmauld Place.   He’d killed some time with his regular rape counselling session, but even the therapist had noticed his inability to concentrate.   "Sorry," Harry had said, "but … damn.   I’m planning on asking them to marry me, and I’m nervous.   I love them, and thanks to all the sessions with you, Severus Snape, and the ladies, I’m really starting to believe that it’s not my fault.   That even the rapes I ‘agreed’ to were forced because it was the only way I knew to keep them safe."   The Healer had smiled and wished him luck.

He'd paced nervously, and even Dobby and Winky had not complained about his cleaning the house alongside them, after Harry explained simply that he was nervous.   "Dobby understands nervousness, Master Harry."   He looked conspiratorially at Harry.   "Dobby gets quite nervous around Winky these days, and for the same reason Master Harry is nervous, Dobby thinks."

"Well, if you do feel that way about her, then congratulations!" Harry replied with a smile.   "Tell her soon, Dobby.   It'll ease both your minds."   The cleaning continued, and four bedrooms were set aside nearest the master suite, although Harry confided that two of them probably would not be used.   Both elves' eyes sparkled with mirth at the implication.

It was approaching the evening when Dobby walked into the room, carrying a newspaper and scowling.   "Owls thinking above their stations.   Hedwig is not so rude," he muttered.

"What do you have there, Dobby?"

"Nasty owl delivered this newspaper.   Dobby found a note with it as well."   He handed the paper and the note to Harry.

The note simply read, "I thought you should see this," in a hand that Harry didn't recognise.   He opened the newspaper to see a headline that horrified him.

Students killed in freak accident at Hogwarts.

by Dilwyn Barton

Hogwarts was stunned today when a freak accident took the lives of four students.   At publication time the particulars of the incident were unknown, but this reporter has at least learned the identities of those students who lost their lives.   The four students in question were Muggleborn Hermione Granger; Pansy Parkinson, the daughter of Alonzo and Aldonza Parkinson; Luna Lovegood, daughter of fellow publisher Lawrence Lovegood; and Susan Bones, niece of the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement Amelia Bones.   Our hearts and our prayers go out to those families affected at this normally most joyous time of year.

Further information will be brought to you as it is learned.

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