After the Ball

Hermione swore to herself that tomorrow, it would all make perfect sense.


Disclaimer: If I owned Harry Potter, then I would be fired. Like, Siriusly. I’d never make the deadline for the next book. People would be burning my books, not out of some stupid religious reason, but because they’re all pissed at me. I mean, to make such a groundbreaking, popular series… and never finish? World War III, easily. Riots in the street. Presidents and Dictators threatening nuclear arms because they have nothing better to do or read. An entire generation of children whose only form of imagination lies within virgin slaves and children killing other children, hence the WWIII problem. An apocalyptic calamity of death, just waiting to happen.

So yeah, I don’t own Harry Potter.

It’d be pretty cool if I did though, right?
No?
Oh.
Damn.

The joke is, I wrote this all today. I’m still trying to figure out how it’s a joke, but it’s here.


Prologue

The Great Hall was at its most beautiful, everyone could see. It took both the magic and creativity of Headmaster Dumbledore and Professors Flitwick and McGonagall to add a bit more grandeur to the large space, and still gave them room to add a few more Christmas trees without looking tacky.

Dumbledore wanted dancing trees to line the walls; he was taken out of the project immediately. So, acting to all of the world like a child with a Dunce Cap on his head, he watched as the professors put one non-anthropomorphized tree in each corner. Very bland, if you asked him.

But as Dumbledore and his staff looked out onto the floor, he smiled. It was the students that truly brought the room to life. Their nervousness could be turned into happiness, but that was expected.

His eyes, for the first time that night, flitted to Harry and his date.

Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

This would not do.


Harry and Hermione, not exactly party animals, had decided to sit when the Weird Sisters began performing. Eventually, it got too loud to even hear themselves think. They left the ballroom, and decided to look for Katie.

They couldn’t find her. In fact, Hermione began to remember, they didn’t really see much of anyone that they had met in the ‘harem’. Or the ‘Bodyguards’. Whatever. At this point, she was convinced that even they didn’t know what they were anymore.

She had been looking for an angle for months at this point – of why they were doing this, for what purpose, the end game. Sure, he was Harry Potter – and that was a loaded answer as any – but they were actually willing to put themselves in harm’s way for not only him, but her.

She saw the sincerity in Katie’s eyes. She saw Hannah’s genuine smile. She didn’t know Daphne well, but from the small talks they had, she seemed friendly, and serious in what she did, enough.

And Marissa…

She was unsure about her friend. She didn’t seem as invested as the rest of the girls were. They conversed frequently at nights, and the ebony-haired girl seemed… disingenuous, as far as she could tell. Having spent three and a half years in the same dorm, she was one of the few female friends Hermione had – Something Marisa didn’t hesitate to point out, which chalked in another tally on the ‘Pros’ side of an ever growing list of the Bodyguard situation. Of course, whatever her answer could be, she was assured that her friend would continue to be just that, unwaveringly.

And really, she was a great friend. Harry had only met her recently, but she kept her company on otherwise lonely nights in the library – well, until the tournament, and everything that came with it.

Hermione decided that on the next study session – when it wasn’t disguised as anything more than that – she would invite her friend along, and see how she and Harry would interact.

That didn’t sound the way she meant it to. Of course, Harry was in desperate need for more friends, and as they demonstrated before, their minds worked in mysterious, perverse ways when it came to her, but she wasn’t thinking that they would be interacting in that way!

Though one night, as her friend privately conveyed to her, she may not be interested in that way at all, having a certain fondness for the other gender instead.

She had almost forgotten about that conversation last year – she was more than a little distracted, around the time of the whole Firebolt incident.

In hindsight, it didn’t make much sense why she would keep that secret; the same seemed to be true for practically every other girl in the school.

She sighed, against Harry’s shoulder, and he rubbed her arm as they walked along the lit path outside. The candles burst into life as they walked along, and she was sure if she looked back, they burned back out just as quickly.

Harry’s tailor-made robes against her bare arms and shoulder felt soothing, and as much as her flared dress would allow, she wrapped an arm around his torso.

“I think I’m going to ask Marissa to dance with me.” She waited patiently for his reaction.

“Should I ask Neville the same?”

“If you want, I imagine. We did get his date arrested earlier today.”

“He has a date, a girl from Beauxbatons. I think Ginny turned him down expecting another date.”

There was a hard edge in his tone, and she understood why. “Feels like it was ages ago.”

“Doesn’t make it all hurt any less. I’m surprised the Howler hasn’t gotten here yet.”

“I’m betting Mister Weasley hasn’t told her yet. Susan said her aunt was being very discreet about the investigation.”

Harry snorted. “Is she looking for why they tried to do what they did? Not interested.”

“I’m curious. I want to know why they betrayed us. I don’t care what happens to them after that.”

“The ever curious Hermione Granger. Level-headed, even after today. I would have killed them.”

“You would have tried. I don’t think you would have had it in you, Harry.” It’s what she loved about him.

His eyes wandered to the ground in front of him. “Maybe,” he muttered derisively, holding her tighter. “But maybe you’d be surprised.”

She shivered in his embrace. “Maybe.”

“Would you forgive them?”

“Hm?”

“Ron and Ginny. Would you ever forgive them? If they ever apologized, of course; got on their knees, kissed your boots, beg to do anything to make everything right again? Would you?”

“No.”

Harry could hardly bring himself to be surprised. “Your forgiving nature; putting up with my incompetence all these years, always seeing the good in people; it was my favorite part of you.”

“Are you upset?”

“Of course not. I didn’t think you had it in you to try, and I was right. They don’t deserve to be forgiven. Just like they don’t deserve to be spared.”

She considered that heavy statement. “You’re right,” she eventually decided. It was an even heavier truth.

Something had changed that night, and he wasn’t completely sure if it was for the better or worse.

She knew of the dark days ahead of them; the war that was encroaching. Call it a hunch, call it intuition, or call it a friend, who spent every waking moment worrying about the life of the boy she loved. She just knew that the year ahead of them, and the years after that, wouldn’t be easy for them.

“We need all the help we can get,” Hermione finally admitted out loud. She stopped, and Harry waited patiently, pushing his glasses up his nose. That small moment of innocence made her smile, for a brief moment, but it was gone before he glanced at her. “We need help, Harry. Protection. Friends. We can’t do this alone.”

He gave a heavy sigh. “Probably not. But you’ve never let me give up before. I think we can do whatever we need to do. We… I don’t even have to stay at Hogwarts.”

“I can get an education anywhere. You have the reputation to go anywhere you want. But we both know that wherever we go, together, He, and His followers, won’t be far behind. You know what Dumbledore would tell us.”

“Dumbledore doesn’t seem very eager to tell me why He is following me. Voldemort wants me dead. I want him dead. That’s pretty much all there is to it. I need to get away, Hermione. Sod this Tournament, sod magic. I just need… I need – ”

“You need me,” she interrupted. “You need me to put some sense back into your thick skull. Dumbledore won’t tell you why, because we’re children. We need to stop acting like children. We need to stop being children. This is turning into a war. You’ve had your life threatened since you were eleven, Harry, and I’ve been there every step of the way. It’s time we take off the gloves. It’s time we formed an Army.” She wrapped her arms around his neck. “Tomorrow. Tomorrow, we grow up. We get rid of that naivety we pretend to have.”

He smiled sadly. “There you go again; putting up with me. I faced a dragon, and asking you to the ball terrified me. You’re right, of course. I think it’s time I grew up.”

“Stop acting like you’re the only one who needs to change. These exams obsessions; my planners. OWLS is next year, and that’s all I’ve ever been nagging you about, other than your life-threatening situations!

“In your defense, we can’t let Voldemort control our lives.”

“Voldemort. Voldemort. Voldemort. Voldemort. I’m a muggleborn, for Merl – oh, God’s sake! Why was I ever afraid of his name!?” She huffed. “We’re taking control of our lives. Dumbledore doesn’t matter. Snape, McGonagall, Moody, they don’t matter. This is our war. And if the Headmaster doesn’t train you, and get you ready for whatever inevitability is coming…”

“Then it’s you and me. And our new friends, I reckon?”

“If they’re brave enough to stand by our side, then we need anyone we can trust. If today was any indication, they’ll put up their resources for you. They’re loyal to you.”

“They answer to you. And they know it. They’ve admitted as much themselves.”

“At this point, I don’t care. We’re all in danger, now. We all need to look out for each other. In the past two months alone, we’ve forged a little family with what used to be your stalkers. What we did today may have been child’s play, Ron and Ginny have never been a threat, but tomorrow… tomorrow, we make the steps to ensure we have a force. Tomorrow, the recruitment begins.”

Harry leaned down and kissed his girlfriend, and she squeaked in surprise, before melting into the kiss. “Tomorrow, and the day after that, and so on, you know I chose you to be my date.”

She smiled a dreamy smile. “Thank you for bringing it back around. I’m asking Marissa to dance with me. And I want you to come with me.”

He eyed her carefully. “What are you planning?”

“It could be my imagination, but I think she’s interested in, well, me. And if all of this – everything’s going to work, I want it to be the best friend who didn’t betray me to have the first shot.”

“The first shot?” Harry was one to assume a lot of things, but he needed to hear it from her own lips.

“I’m curious. Not fascinated. Not too intrigued. Not… hungry. Just curious. And I want her to sate that curiosity. And I can’t think of a better person to sate it with. We do study together, after all.”

“You’re being intentionally vague about this one.”

“It’s not every day when you’re trying to tell your boyfriend you’re considering a harem for him, by testing out the waters on her best friend. I love you, Harry, but I read too bloody much. Sometimes, I stray from my orientation in the trashy novel section. When you were still trying to figure things out, I’ve considered the safer option… the non-Harry Potter option.”

“And that includes girls?”

“Like I said; the safer and smarter option. They’ve run a secret organization for over half a decade in this school, with no one having a clue. Because they’re girls.”

“Sound logic.”

“Are you complaining?”

“I remember referring to this as ‘I’m bloody scared.’ So, maybe a little bit of a complaint, yeah. But – if you’re curious – color me intrigued.”

So the two walked off towards Gryffindor Tower in pursuit for Hermione’s friend, to make a proposition she had a feeling the girl couldn’t refuse.

And maybe part of it was for the bigger picture – a future where Harry could have half the women at Hogwarts under his command, ready and willing, and an eager alpha who could enjoy the fruits of such an arrangement – but maybe, part of it was for rewarding a friend for her loyalty and – perhaps it was a little silly, in hindsight and foresight – not trying to make her fall in love with her by any means necessary.

If there was anything Ron or Ginny was capable of teaching, without even knowing it, it was to at least be able to talk about unresolved feelings with each other. And that was exactly what she was going to do. But first, a dance.

Trying to arrange a threesome for the greater good. Tomorrow, it would all make perfect sense. She hoped.


Author’s Note: Playing this chapter straight with almost no jokes, was probably the joke within itself. Happy Fool’s day.

There are bounds to be more laughs in what follows, but of course, this was the setup. The sequel, thanks to Patr/e/on, a word that I have to cut up because of blacklisting, will come out soon.

Please, tell me your level of interest. Because I can always move on to the next story, rather than go into a sequel for an eight-year-old story. I think ‘The List’ fills the void quite nicely for Harem stories, but it’s up to the audience. Vote through reviews, and I’ll put up a poll on the profile page on the 20th, and leave it there for a good while. And no, giving you guys a spark of hope is not part of the holiday celebrations. Happy April Fool’s Day, by the way. I feel the need to stress that for some unknown reason.

Patr/e/on is the only reason this exists. So imagine what other crazy shenanigans might happen if there were more supporters? (link on profile)