Harry's birthday. Make a wish! (Apologies to Rorschach's Blot. Again.)
move around the plot. There will be two more segments to the summer,
hopefully written before the next Ice Age, but management cannot
July 31st dawned warm and clear throughout the greater London area.
The Doctors Granger left for their practice at eight o'clock,
trusting Hermione to be mature enough to keep anything untoward from
occurring. Harry and Hermione woke at nine, and the latter wished
the former a happy 12th birthday and (inexpertly) prepared breakfast
for the two of them. (As they munched their toast, Hermione said
that "Harry, you shouldn't have to do anything you don't want to on
your birthday." Harry didn't have the heart to tell her that eating
her crunchy scrambled eggs counted in that category.)
Harry gave Hermione her own fencing lesson, with results similar to
Megan's. Hermione asked him if he would teach everyone about
swordplay, but Harry said that he didn't know enough to be useful.
They would have to learn from someone else.
"Maybe this Gilderoy Lockhart fellow would be good," suggested
"Who's Gilderoy Lockhart?" Harry inquired.
"You know, the guy who wrote all these books we're supposed to buy
this year. Someone in the faculty must really love him," Hermione
"Which books would these be?"
"Year With the Yeti, Gadding with Ghouls… wait a minute. You haven't
received your list of books and supplies?"
"No. In fact, I haven't gotten any mail since… leaving for
Millicent's house, and that was more to her than to me. I've been
starting to worry. Did the owls lose track of where I am?" Harry
had generally enjoyed his summer, certainly more than any other
summer in his life, and he hated the idea that his wives would lose
touch with him because of it.
"If they could find you after everything your… aunt and uncle did to
prevent you from coming to Hogwarts at all, then they should have
been able to find you. That's very strange, and I don't know right
off why that would be," Hermione mused. "No matter. I've talked
with Susan and the Patils, and we're all going to go to Diagon Alley
to get our books weekend after next."
"Why then?" Harry asked.
"Because this Lockhart fellow is going to sign books then at Flourish
and Blotts, and apparently he's very popular. It'd be a good place
for all of us to meet again."
As the day wore on and Hermione and Harry caught up with each other's
summers (Hermione's had been fairly quiet other than talking with her
parents, who had hinted that they might visit the Continent next
year), Harry got more and more worried. He was hoping that his wives
would send him presents and cards for his birthday. Then he was
worried that he was thinking of himself instead of them; he hadn't
written them regularly. Then he wondered if that was why they hadn't
done anything to remember his birthday by. By early afternoon, after
Hermione had made sandwiches for both of them, he was worried enough
to talk to her about the problem. Hermione really didn't have any
answers but assured him that they wouldn't just abandon him. "We've
got a lot of time and effort invested in making you a good husband;
we're not going to let it go to waste," she told him half-jokingly.
At about four o'clock, Harry was walking around the upper story of
the Grangers' home, when suddenly a house elf popped into view in
front of him.
"Harry Potter! Dobby is so glad to see you!" the House elf,
presumably Dobby, announced.
Dobby wasn't a house elf that Harry knew from Hogwarts, and looked
like no house elf Harry had ever seen. He was several inches taller
than most elves, had a long nose that appeared to have been broken
several times, and had arms that also spoke of injuries that never
completely healed. Over his torso, instead of the uniform worn by
Hogwarts elves, he wore a silk pillowcase that had seen many better
"Dobby, um, why are you here? What can we do for you?" Harry asked,
then sliently berated himself for not being polite. To be fair,
though, Dobby seemed to regard this as high praise, judging by his
"Harry Potter is too kind to Dobby! Harry Potter asks Dobby what
Harry Potter can do for him, not just ask Dobby to do things for
Harry Potter! Dobby has heard of the greatness of Harry Potter, but
not of the goodness of Harry Potter!" Dobby wailed.
Harry Potter, who was getting a bit weary of hearing both of his
names so often, waited for Dobby's latest fit to subside. Before he
thought of another question to ask, Dobby proceeded.
"Dobby is here to warn Harry Potter. Dobby is telling Harry Potter…"
"You can just call me Harry, you know, Dobby," Harry said.
Immediately, Harry knew he'd made a mistake, because Dobby cried out
in a new fit. By this time, the noise had attracted Hermione from
"Harry, what… Who is he?" Hermione queried.
"This is Dobby the house elf. He apparently likes me and was going
to tell me something," Harry responded.
"Whose house elf is Dobby?" Hermione asked.
"I don't know," Harry said. By that time, Dobby had settled down
"Harry Potter must not go back to Hogwarts this year! Harry Potter
will be in great danger because of things that will happen to him
there!" Dobby announced.
"What is going to happen, Dobby?" Hermione asked.
"Who will do these things?" Harry inquired.
Dobby didn't answer for a few seconds. Then he started
vibrating. "The Master and… the… BAD DOBBY! BAD DOBBY! Mustn't
insult the Master!" With that, Dobby backed up and rammed his head
into the hallway. Then he did so again. Not until the third time
did Harry grab Dobby's pillowcase to keep him from further injuring
A frightened Hermione asked Dobby, "It's all right! All right! Who
is the Master?"
"The Master is owning Dobby. He is hoping that if Harry is not
hearing from his wives, and they is not hearing from him, then Harry
will not want to go back to Hogwarts," Dobby moaned. With that,
Dobby snapped his fingers and a pile of boxes and letters appeared in
the bathroom behind the three of them. They had many different
styles of writing on them, and some of the boxes were wrapped with
ribbons and bows, obviously meant to be birthday presents.
"Dobby is agreeing with the Master," Dobby fervently pronounced,
snapping his fingers again to make all of the letters and boxes
disappear… except one. "Dobby and other house elves are proud of
Harry Potter because Harry Potter made V…V…"
"Voldemort?" Harry and Hermione suggested together.
"Yes! Harry Potter's bravery is greater than even Dobby imagined!"
Dobby exulted, Hermione Granger's bravery apparently not important
here. "Master wants to do… BAD DOBBY!" Dobby broke from Harry's
grip and rammed the wall again before Harry could catch him once more.
"Bad things will happen at Hogwarts this year, and Harry Potter
shouldn't be there to see them," Dobby concluded woefully. "Dobby
must go before he is missed!" With that, Dobby broke out of Harry's
grip again, and with a loud crack, Dobby was gone.
"Well, that wasn't the kind of birthday wish Harry Potter wanted to
hear… dammit, Dobby has me talking like him!" Harry fumed, pacing up
and down the hall. "Hermione, do you have any idea who the Master
"No, Harry. But surely someone has records of house elves. Maybe we
could ask Susan and her aunt for help," Hermione suggested.
"But Dobby said he's blocking messages to or from me. How will we
let her know?" Harry asked. He now had an answer for why he hadn't
heard from his wives, but didn't know what he could do about it.
"I don't think he blocks messages from me. If nothing else works,
maybe we could per them a visit this weekend," Hermione said, trying
to think of a way around this problem. "Maybe this note will tell us
"What no… oh, I see it now," Harry stopped short as he saw the
envelope. It was about the size used to send greeting cards in the
Muggle world. Within the envelope was an outwardly generic-looking
Happy Birthday card.
Opening the card, however, Harry and Hermione stood amazed, since
neither of them had ever seen anything like this. The left cover of
the card seemed to be playing a kind of movie.
The movie, as it were, showed a young woman in a long swimming pool,
steadily swimming away from the camera, or whatever was producing the
pictures. She was tanned and stroking swiftly through the water. As
the two watched, seemingly entranced, she reached the end of the pool
and climbed out.
She was tall and blonde, wearing a silver one-piece suit that fit her
like a second skin, emphasizing her wide shoulders, large bosom,
narrow waist, and smooth hips. She slowly walked toward the
pictures' vantage point, reaching behind her back and smiling. The
camera appeared to be about a foot off of the ground, below the level
of her knees, and since it didn't move or change angles, her head and
then upper body began to disappear from view. Just before she
reached the camera, with only her lower legs showing, something hit
the tiled floor… evidently her swimsuit.
The camera then turned around to show the woman walking away,
completely nude. Bit by bit, her back and the back of her head
became visible. Shortly after that, she turned her head, winked back
toward the camera, and stepped out of sight behind a tiled wall.
Nothing happened for the next couple of minutes, and the birthday boy
and his companion finally looked to the other side of the card, which
Happy Birthday! Think of me…
With no signature or other mark of identity.
Harry and Hermione had been so engrossed in the card that they hadn't
noticed several pictures falling out of the card. These pictures
showed what was evidently the same woman in various poses, but none
did more than smile and wave at the camera. None showed her pink
bits, but none missed by much.
"Well, this is very, um, strange," said Harry and Hermione together.
(This actually wasn't the first such card to be sent to Harry since
news of the harem had spread, but previously the professors at House
Harem had screened out such salacious fare. Of course, they couldn't
do so now.)
"I think I'd better hang onto these for safekeeping," Harry said a
bit too quickly.
"Wait, I think I need to get one of those," Hermione retorted even
more quickly. "It seems likely that this woman is connected to Dobby
and to the Master," she reasoned. "We need to know who she is. I'd
like to talk to Susan about her. I'll definitely ask the parents to
see her this weekend."
"Well, since you've already seen her," Harry conceded. "This is a
very strange birthday I'm having, isn't it?"
"Yes, it is. But don't worry, it'll get better."
The pictures were well hidden by the time the Doctors Granger came
home. While they suspected something from Hermione's overly quick
greeting, a brief study of the house showed nothing obviously broken,
missing, stained, or transmogrified, so they assumed that whatever it
was, she would tell them in good time.
The Grangers announced that they were taking Harry and Hermione out
to dinner for his birthday. Harry protested, only to have Mrs. Dr.
Danielle Granger announce that "No relative of mine is going to be
starved or subjected to my cooking on his birthday, and that's
final!" Harry relented at that point.
Dinner was a cheerful affair at an upscale restaurant in the City,
where the adult Grangers were apparently recognized. Hermione asked
if they could return to the area on Sunday, since the restaurant
was very close to the apartment building where Susan and Amelia Bones
lived. Emmitt and Danielle agreed.
The following Sunday, Danielle took dropped them off at the
restaurant, saying that she would be back to pick them up in three
hours. She then went to do some shopping at Harrod's; these
wonderful shoes seemed to be calling to her.
It only took a few minutes for Harry and Hermione to find the Bones'
apartment building, and a couple more for them to find the end of the
corridor where the Bones' apartment was. Neither quite knew how to
proceed. Harry tried touching the wall with his wand. When nothing
happened, Hermione touched it with hers and then both of them touched
the wall together.
"Alright! I'm coming!" they heard through the wall, and then it
opened up to reveal Susan Bones in her pajamas.
"Hi, Harry! Hello, Hermione! How was your birthday, Harry! Don't
keep touching the wall with your wands like that- it's like a
doorbell that keeps getting louder and louder. What brings you
here? I'm so glad to see you! We sent you a birthday cake, did you
get it?" Susan was talking in rapid fire.
"We've actually got some questions for your aunt, Susan. Before we
get any further, no, we didn't get the birthday cake, we're sorry
about the wands, and that's actually related to why we're here,"
Hermione responded, trying to keep up with Susan.
After Susan and Hermione had another few minutes of rapid-fire
conversation, they and Harry sat down in the living room.
"What we're about to show you cannot be shown to anyone but Amelia.
If she sees it, don't tell her where it came from. Alright?"
"It's not illegal, is it?" Growing up as the niece of Britain's top
magical cop meant that there were obvious limits to what Susan was
willing to discuss.
"Not that we know of," Hermione replied. With that, Harry showed
Susan the card, which played out the same way as it had on the 31st,
and mentioned that they received several others showing the same
"That's Narcissa Malfoy," Susan said confidently as soon as the woman
stepped out of the pool.
"Do you know her?" Harry asked.
"Not personally, although I've talked to her once or twice. But
she's Lucius Malfoy's husband, and Aunt Amelia's dragged me to so
many social functions over the last few years that I couldn't help
seeing her," Susan said. "Good-looking woman, isn't she?"
"Yes, and what does Lucius Malfoy do?" Harry said, trying to keep
his eyes off of the replaying pictures.
Susan replied, "All sorts of things. He's got a ton of money,
married even more-" she gestured at the card's figure, now walking
away- "has a Wizengamot seat, is Chairman of the Board of Governors
at Hogwarts, and owns or controls half a dozen businesses, and will
tell you all of this at the drop of a hat," Susan recited, having
evidently heard all of this before, undoubtedly from her
aunt. "Amelia doesn't like him much at all. He's a diehard
conservative and dislikes Muggle-borns, contributed hugely to Fudge's
political campaigns and Bagnold's before him, and does everything he
can to get in the way of Auntie's work, when he can get away with it."
"We've got a problem with one of his house elves, actually," said
Hermione. "What can we do about it?"
"Probably not much," Susan responded. "Their magic is too different
from ours for us to do much. Of course, the three of us can't do
anything now. I'm the only one who can do magic, and-"
"Wait! Since when can you do magic? You're not supposed to do magic
away from school- every professor told us so!" Hermione yelled.
"You wanna know a little secret?" Susan asked quietly, bending down
over the card, whose movie was now finished. When Harry and Hermione
nodded, she continued, "The charms that track underage magic work by
finding out how many spells are cast at any place at any time, and
comparing them to the number of adult magic users who live in that
place. That means that I can cast spells, as long as Aunt Amelia and
I don't cast them at the same time."
"How did you learn that?" Hermione asked.
"Aunt Amelia told me," Susan said simply. "I respect the law, but
there are times when you have to… work around it. The underage
restriction was passed in the 1800s, but it was only enforced during
the last war, apparently. That restriction is one of the laws Aunt
Amelia would like to repeal."
"Do you think there's anything she can do about a house-elf blocking
mail and messages?" Harry asked bluntly.
"I'll tell Amelia about it. Give us a few days, and we'll try to
resolve things before we meet at Flourish and Blotts. In the
Harry and Hermione waited with bated breath.
"…can I keep one of the pictures? As evidence," she asked, almost
shyly. Harry figured that was cheap enough for the help Susan had
The conversation and lunch (made from leftovers, as Susan was a
better cook than Hermione and about as good as Harry) took up most of
the time that Harry and Hermione had before they returned to see
Danielle Granger, loaded down with bags.
"Did your meeting go well, kids?" Danielle inquired. They assured
her that it did. Giving them a couple of bags to carry, Danielle led
them to her car and then home.