Harry was woken at six o’clock by the vibration of his wand letting him know that someone was tampering with his extensive system of wards. The curtains around his bed were still firmly closed, and a quick check — as quick as someone who had been awoken from deep sleep could be — of his wand revealed that all was what it should be, at least in terms of the protections immediately around his bed. He cast a few more spells, cursing Dumbledore and Black for their emasculation of his power and for reducing him to silly wand waving when all that should have been needed, if he was at full power, was the extension of his ambient magic into the area around him. All of that could have been done from the comfort of his bed as he contemplated the day ahead of him rather than betraying the fact that he was now awake.
The information he received back via his wand was confused and told him little more than poking his head out of the curtains would have given him, and he cursed his tormentors again. True, this way he had no spellfire to avoid, but if he’d listened carefully, he probably could have determined that two people not normally to be found in his dorm were now leaving. Aside from that, there was no other movement.
He lay back down and tried to reach out with his magic. He knew that the full range of his abilities was denied to him, but he hoped that something would remain. After a few minutes of frustration, he gave up.
Those bastards! Trussed me up like a Christmas goose, they have. When I get out of here…
He let the thought fade, knowing that there were other, more pertinent issues to consider before the matter of revenge.
As he lay on the bed collecting his thoughts he realised that, for the first time in as long as he could remember, he hadn’t risen early and exercised. The only other exceptions to this pattern were when he was ill or injured or when Black and his little group of Gryffindors had been out and about on the trail of Tom, his minions or his Horcruxes.
Instead, he lay in his bed, listening to the sounds of those around him getting ready for the day ahead, trying to decide who would have been tampering with his wards and wondering what it would have been like if he had been at Hogwarts from the beginning. Would he have ended up in Gryffindor, or was the Sorting Hat’s decision based on his true nature rather than his stated desire? So many questions fluttered around his head, and for once he let these thoughts have their way, enjoying the confusion not least because it obscured the more pressing business that he had planned for the day.
He had decided that today would be the day that he finally confessed both his feelings for Ginevra and told her about the marriage contract. He had judged from their previous conversation that she was committed enough to their relationship to bear the news he was about to spring on her. More than that, he had come to a point where he could no longer conceal the truth from her.
He knew that she had a couple of free periods after lunch and therefore planned to invite her to a light luncheon on the grounds. There, away from prying eyes, he would explain what had brought him to Hogwarts and then explain why that didn’t detract from what he felt for her.
Are you going to tell her that you love her?
That was the question that was eating away at him. Did he love her, or was his reaction nothing more than the product of the marriage contract’s manipulations? Or was he no different from the other youths that cast lustful gazes in her direction?
He knew that he wanted her, and his need was greatest physically, but he had accepted that he needed her emotionally as well, because, quite simply, she was the only person that had ever conversed with him as an equal. Her speech contained no concessions to who he was, how he had been brought up, or what he had done.
It had occurred to him that her apparent comfort with him might be something that she didn’t actually have any control over. Was that truly the way she felt about him or was this the workings of the contract? He knew that the magic the contract contained would cause an overtly physical response to him, not least because that part of who she was had been denied to her for so long, but did she also spend time with him because she wanted to or because she was compelled to?
It was a question that he’d been asking himself for a number of days, and it was one to which he didn’t have an answer.
He knew that he could force her to marry him; she wouldn’t be able to deny him, and neither would she be able to deny him the physical satisfaction he craved. But unlike Greengrass, whose perversions had prompted him to dispose of her in such an extreme manner, Ginevra was a ripe, unplucked fruit, unblemished and untarnished by base desires, and as such, he would ensure that it was not the contract that compelled her to surrender her maidenhead to him but a desire to be one with him.
All very well and good, Harry, but what if it is the contract compelling her?
Such carnal thoughts caused his body to begin to respond and, as the room around him was now silent and presumably empty, he pulled back the curtains. intending to deal with his desire in the privacy of the shower.
He sensed rather than heard or saw the first spell, and, despite rolling out of its line of fire, he felt the second and third spells. Thankfully, neither of the two caused him any problems. He rolled back to the spot where the first spells had been aimed and, in the brief respite that it gave him, cast a Shield Charm that would last for the next thirty seconds. He feinted to the left and then rolled to the right, casting three spells in apparently random directions — at least he hoped his attackers would see it that way. Bursts of spellfire came from three different directions, all of which were absorbed by his shield, allowing him time to scramble to his feet and send out a series of defensive spells designed to confuse and Confund his opponents.
He caught movement out of the corner of his eye, and his shield first shimmered and then shattered as a barrage of spells tore into him. As he recast his shield, more spells hit him, this time making short work of his defences. As his shield left him exposed, his other defences kicked in. From three different points in the room, spells shot out at his attackers, and two wand-waving doppelgangers emerged from Harry’s body and started firing harmless but nonetheless very noisy spells at the now confirmed three attackers.
All through this, Harry had not stopped moving and continued to fire nasty but, so far, non-lethal spells at his foes. The doppelgangers copied the style, if not the content, of their originator’s arsenal and soon the enemy was confused enough to turn its fire on all three Harrys, giving him the opportunity to pick them off one by one. Before he could do so, a fourth entered the dormitory, and before he could respond, the room was filled with a series of flashes and bangs that reduced Harry’s vision to flashing lights and confused images. Blinded by his enemy’s ruse, he was easy prey to the next series of attacks.
His unshielded body took three mighty blows, and he collapsed unceremoniously to the floor.
Rather than the anticipated final attack, he heard the four sets of footsteps making their way slowly out of his dorm. He rolled onto his back with a groan and opened his eyes. There, hovering above him, was a slowly unfurling scroll. He adjusted his glasses and squinted to focus on the text that began to reveal itself.
Welcome to Slytherin House, Mr Potter, and congratulations on passing your first test. We look after our own in this house, and that includes those who may lack the discretion we demand of those who carry our colours. The grass is very rarely greener on the other side, and you would be best served returning to your side of the fence, especially when your little lamb is staked out in such a tempting manner.
Your Obedient Servant, Thomas de Ghent
Ginny’s mornings had settled into a now-familiar pattern, one which she was able to take advantage of more fully now that the weekend was upon her. She had awoken from her slumber still in the post-coital warmth engendered by her latest dream. It amazed her how each dream had become more vivid than the last as she learned more details about Harry.
At first they were no more erotic than a traditional teenage romance in which he wooed her and in which chaste kisses and the accidental brushing of hands were as physical as their interaction had got. As she had spent more time with him, however, her dreams had grown in complexity and in boldness. She knew where on his hands he had calluses, how smooth his chin was when he’d shaved and how rough it was when he hadn’t. The strength in his arms, his masculine smell, and the ever-present power of his magic all combined to create a world in which she would have been happy to stay forever. And then one final detail had been added which changed the nature of her nights and, more specifically, her mornings. Although he had attempted to hide it from her, she had felt his physical response to her. As they had touched, it had triggered an overwhelming wave of pleasure that had followed her into her dreams. A few surreptitious caresses disguised as accidental contact had confirmed to her that, should she ever be invited into Harry’s bed, their respective sizes would make for a very fulfilling experience. And whilst she had never seen him naked, her imagination overcame that small difficulty with ease whilst she dreamt.
And now, on a lazy Saturday morning, in a bath that was scented with bath