Sitting at breakfast Monday morning, Tracey gently nudged Harry and nodded toward the doorway when he turned toward her. Looking over, Harry stood and flagged Luna Lovegood down as she drifted past. "Luna, could you or another Quibbler reporter talk with us sometime soon? With all of the crazy speculation going on about why I married these two gorgeous witches, I want the chance to get my side of the story out there."
Luna seated herself at the Gryffindor table. "Certainly, Harry. Who would you want to interview you?"
"Doesn't really matter to me so long as they're honest."
"All of Daddy's reporters are honest, Harry."
Ron took a seat next to Luna and across from Tracey. "Hey, Harry," he said distractedly, his focus clearly on Daphne.
"Hey, could I ask a favor?" His attention never flickered.
"What's that?" Harry asked, getting annoyed.
"Could I . . . um, borrow this one?"
Harry's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Why?" he asked in a low tone.
Ron finally looked up from staring at Daphne's chest. "The same thing you've been using her for," Ron replied with a smirk.
Harry silently looked at him long enough for Daphne to fidget nervously. "Have you always been such an arse, or is this just since I rescued these two?"
Ron sat up and took on an affronted expression. "Hey! No need to be rude. I was just asking, one mate to another."
"Does Hermione know you're asking me permission to use Daphne as a sex toy?"
Ron glowered but did not respond.
"In case you haven't figured it out: the answer, Ron, is no. You may not now, nor in the future, borrow either of my wives to satisfy your sexual curiosity."
Ron rolled his eyes. "Is that it? Fine, then. May I rent her?"
Luna sighed loudly, causing Ron to look at her in surprise. "You didn't listen to the important part of what Harry said," she told the red head.
"What? I -"
"Shut up, Ron," Harry ordered flatly. "Even asking that question is a horrible insult, not only to Daphne but also to me. Just shut up and leave us alone."
Ron, going back and forth between confused and angry, stood and moved down the Gryffindor table before sitting down to breakfast.
Harry rested his head in his hands. "I'm sorry you had to suffer through that, Daphne," he said, words muffled by his head-hanging posture.
She placed one hand upon his near shoulder. "Thank you, My Lord," she whispered into his ear.
He nodded and let out a long breath. He looked up again and focused on Luna. The blonde's eyes were studying Daphne. "And I'm sorry you had to witness that, Luna."
She shrugged carelessly. "Ronald's tone and words made me uncomfortable, but it wasn't directed at me."
Harry took another breath, visibly relaxing as he exhaled. "Back to our conversation, could you recommend a reporter for us to talk with?"
Luna shrugged again, idly propping her chin on her raised arm. "Several. It may be easiest if I interviewed you, though. I'm already here."
"True. And you're already a friend, so -"
Harry stiffened in his seat as Malfoy's voice spoke from just behind him. Tensely, and somewhat surprised he had not already been cursed, Harry turned to look at the calm scion of the Malfoy name. "Is there something I can do for you, Malfoy?"
"I figured out what you meant," he announced.
Harry blinked once in confusion. Turning to Tracey, he raised an eyebrow in query. She just shrugged. He turned back to the patiently waiting student. "Could you refresh my memory?" Harry asked cautiously.
"When you said I wasn't offering the right kind of coin," Malfoy said, just a hint of impatience creeping into his voice.
"Ah," Harry said as he slowly relaxed. "And what did you think I meant?"
"You don't want money." Harry nodded agreement, but Malfoy was already continuing, "Instead, you want a favor from the Malfoy family." Harry's jaw dropped. Malfoy, oblivious, went on in a magnanimous tone, "Name your terms, Lord Potter, and I shall decide if either or both of your chattel are worth it."
"Are you naturally a deluded berk, or did you have to strive for this level of idiocy?" Neville cheerfully asked as he seated himself next to Luna.
Malfoy barely glanced over. "I was not speaking to you, Longbottom." His eyes went back to Harry. "Name your price, Potter."
Harry shut his mouth with a click and shook his head at the other young man's cluelessness. "Malfoy, you just don't get it. These two aren't for sale, rent, or borrowing. No matter how much money or favors you offer," he finished with a frown of distaste.
Malfoy's calm expression melted, and he looked at Harry with a combination of annoyance and incomprehension. "Everything has a price, Potter."
"That highlights my morals against yours, I guess," Harry said. "Now, as I believe our conversation is finished, I would like to get back to my breakfast."
Malfoy, frowning in confusion, just turned and walked over to the Slytherin table.
As Harry turned back around to his plate, Daphne loudly whispered, "You are so getting lucky tonight."
Neville learned that in drinking coffee near Daphne can be a dangerous task.
Chuckling, Dean whacked him on the back a few times.
Luna smiled distractedly. "I told you chorflumps were dangerous." She turned her gaze back to Harry. "When I find my reporting quill, I'll go to your apartments for that interview, shall I?"
Early that evening, Harry was studying in the small front room in the apartments he and his girls had been given.
A knock interrupted his transfiguration revision. He looked up as Tracey opened the door to admit a fuming Hermione.
"That unmitigated arsehole!" she snarled as she pitched her book bag to the floor.
"Good evening, Hermione," Harry said sardonically.
"What did he think he was doing, asking you that?"
"Welcome to my Master's home," Tracey said dryly as she shut the door and moved back toward her abandoned potions text.
"That bastard!" Hermione finished, dropping into a chair. She folded her arms and glowered at the small fire.
Harry leaned back from his books. "Are you finished?"
"No. What in the name of God was he thinking?"
Tracey looked up again. "Your God has nothing to do with it," she said simply. "You're both muggle-raised." She held up a hand at Hermione's frown. "That wasn't an insult. Just a fact, explaining what I'm about to tell you.
"He's making an assumption based on the pure-blood traditions. From his point of view, it's perfectly reasonable to ask his good friend for the use of one of his chattel. Would you get upset if he asked to borrow Harry's charms textbook?"
Hermione frowned deeply. "Of course not, but -"
"The book is not human," Tracey interrupted. "I understand your point, but what you're not seeing is that from his point of view; neither am I. And legally, he's right. I'm no more important, legally, than a book or a chocolate frog card."
"That's inhumane!" Hermione objected, sitting up.
Tracey shrugged, unperturbed. "Chattel-wives," she answered succinctly.
Harry, having had more time to adjust to this new way of thinking, asked, "What about the fact that he is dating Hermione?" He ignored Hermione derisive snort of disgust. "I mean, it's clear he wanted to have sex with Daphne. Wouldn't the fact that he's dating someone matter?"
"Remember, the wizarding world doesn't bat an eye at mistresses and concubines," Tracey answered.
"That's disgusting," Hermione said.
"To a muggle-raised, maybe," Tracey answered. "To us, it's just the way it is."
"So I was supposed to not even care if he drags you off and shags you?" Hermione asked incredulously.
Tracey shrugged wordlessly.
Hermione gave a small shout of frustration before burying her face in her hands. Harry could see the sobs begin immediately. Hesitantly, he moved over to her and knelt next to her chair. Laying a hand on her arm, he started, "Hermione -"
She flung her arms around his neck and started crying onto his shoulder.
Harry, not knowing what else to do, awkwardly held her, making small noises of sympathy into her ear. He looked at Tracey helplessly, but the other girl did not offer any help. Instead, she just gave him a small smile and a nod. Deciding that this meant he was doing the right thing, he continued rubbing her back
Presently, Hermione's uncharacteristic crying jag ended. Giving one final sniff, she pulled away but kept her hands laced behind Harry's neck. She gave his concerned expression a tremulous smile. "Sorry, made your shirt all wet."
Harry ignored the irrelevancy. "Are you okay?" he immediately shook his head. "No, wrong question. Are you better?"
She gave a watery chuckle. Turning to Tracey, she said, "You've been training him."
Tracey looked up and grinned. "You should know how long a process that is with this lug."
"Hey, I'm right here," Harry mildly objected.
"Why yes, you are," Tracey agreed. "I'm proud of you, Harry. Your powers of observation are improving."
Harry turned to the giggling, red-eyed Hermione. "See the abuse I have to put up with?"
She patted his cheek. "Aw, poor baby. Is Tracey teasing the big, bad, Gryffindor hero?"
Harry tried to keep an affronted look on his face, but he soon lost it to chuckling. When the three calmed back down, he asked, "Do you want to talk about it?"
She sighed and leaned her head forward to rest on his chest. "No, I don't think I do. At the moment, I'd rather do some revision here where it's quiet."
Harry waved his hand, indicating the other half of his table.
The three settled into a comfortable silence. For perhaps fifteen minutes the only sounds in the room were the turning of pages and scratching of quills.
The bedroom door opened and Daphne walked in, nude body glistening with moisture. Her eyebrows came up in surprise at Hermione's presence, but she just shrugged and turned to Harry. "It's getting late, Master. We really should be getting to bed."
Head still down, Harry said, "Yeah, keep your knickers on." He looked up and laughed. "Well, you know what I meant. Soon," he promised.
She nodded. "I'll wait for you there. Good night, Hermione." She turned and headed to the bedroom.
Hermione, eyes blazing, slammed her book closed and roughly stuffed all of her books into her bag. Standing, she slammed out the door without a word.
Harry stared at the door in bewilderment. "What was that about?"
Tracey sighed. "I think I'd better talk with her." Without waiting for an answer, she hurried after the retreating Head Girl.
Two hallways later, she called out, "Hermione, wait up."
The bushy-haired Gryffindor came to an abrupt halt and spun in place, eyes flashing in anger. "What?"
"Do you want to know the truth, or is Harry already condemned?"
"What's that supposed to mean?" Hermione asked coldly.
Tracey waved a Privacy Sphere into existence. "Get over yourself," Tracey flatly suggested. "You're mad at Harry for what you think is going on. You've formed that opinion without all the facts. Now, are you going to actually listen or not?"
"What the hell else do I need to know?" Hermione demanded hotly. "She's going to bed stark naked and reminded him to join her. Do I need to draw you a picture? After all, you're shagging him, too," she finished bitingly.
Tracey's hand flashed up as if she was going to bring it down on the other girl in an open-handed slap. She stopped herself at the last moment, instead closing her eyes and breathing deeply for several seconds. After calming herself minutely, she opened her eyes and said in a cold voice, "By any definition you care to use, I'm a virgin. To the best of my knowledge, so is Harry. Since sharing a room with her, I do not believe Daphne has done more than kiss anyone.
"Yes, Daphne was running around the room naked. She's been trying to seduce Harry since before our wedding night. He's resisted the temptation, though Merlin knows how he's made it this far. We've all had separate beds after the second night, which I'm sure helps. Now, I think, he finds her prancing about starkers more amusing than anything.
"I'm sorry you just learned that your boyfriend thinks it's acceptable to screw around on you, I really am. But Harry doesn't deserve the shite you're about to pile on him.
"I'm telling you all of this for one reason and one reason only, Granger: I don't want my Master to lose his best friend through her ignorant and arrogant stupidity."
She turned and stomped back toward her rooms.
"What'd you do last night, mate?" Neville asked as he took a seat across from Harry at breakfast the next morning.
"What do you mean?"
"Ron and Hermione. After the rumors I heard about what Ron asked of you, I expected there to be a blazing row in the common room."
"There wasn't?" Harry asked in surprise.
"Nope. Oh, they broke up. Ron still doesn't understand what he did wrong, and he begged, pleaded, and whinged about it. No, what surprised me was that Hermione never got angry."
"Well, I did talk with her last night. Tracey explained a few things to her, and me for that matter, about how pure-bloods view this kind of thing."
Neville grimaced. "I figured that would've happened. The thing is, if that were all, she'd just break up with him, quietly but a little . . . frostily? You know what I mean. Anyway, that wasn't what happened."
"What did happen?"
Ginny slid into the seat next to Neville. "She was distracted all night. Oh, she had her homework out like usual but she never actually did any of it."
Harry looked over at Tracey. She continued eating her breakfast quietly, not looking up. "Do you know anything about this, Tracey?"
She swallowed the bite of eggs and said, "Yes, Master, I do. However, I respectfully suggest that it is something she would not want mentioned."
They were silent for several seconds before Neville muttered, "Now I'm really curious."
"You and me both," Harry agreed, looking at Tracey pensively.
"She . . . misunderstood something. I just explained the truth to her," Tracey said, clearly taking great care in picking her words.
"Oh." Harry paused as her words sunk in. His eyes widened and shot over to Daphne. "Oh."
Ginny grinned. "Now I'm really, really curious!" She and Neville laughed.
Tracey wore a smile that nearly slipped over into a smirk. Harry blushed mildly. Daphne kept her face down.
Composing herself, Ginny said, "On behalf of the rest of the Weasleys, I wanted to apologize for Ron's actions yesterday."
Harry waved it off. "Forget it."
Tracey put a hand on his arm as Neville said, "No, Harry, listen. I know you don't like or understand some of the pure-blood traditions, especially as they relate to . . . some subjects, but you have to start learning. From one pure-blood family to another, this is important."
Harry looked from Tracey's solemn nod to Ginny's anxious expression back to Neville. "Okay, explain it to me. I don't hold the rest of the Weasleys responsible for Ron being an arse."
"But you should," Neville bluntly stated. "Generally, there are so few of a given family that the actions of one reflect on the rest. Therefore, by pushing on his request, especially as he should have known how you would react to it, he insulted you. Now, another member of that family, Ginny here, is trying to apologize."
Harry frowned. Turning to Ginny, he said, "Okay, fine. Apology accepted."
"Dammit, Harry, listen to me," Neville growled lowly. "I know you don't understand all of this and think it's pretty silly, but this is our culture we're talking about! By not taking her apology seriously, you're insulting them back. Line wars have been started over shite like this."
Harry looked at his normally quiet friend in surprise.
"Listen to them, Harry," Tracey whispered.
Ginny cleared her throat in the uncomfortable silence that followed. "Generally, apologies like this would be much more public and formal, but our families have been friends for a very long time. Therefore, I hope that we can do this informally. Lord Potter, on behalf of the rest of the Weasleys, I apologize for Ron's behavior over the entire chattel-wife situation and especially his questions yesterday."
Harry took a breath. "Thank you, Miss Weasley. I accept your family's apology. I strongly suggest you convince your brother that this is a very tender subject for me and therefore such questions should not be brought up again."
Down the table, everyone could hear a series of thumps. Looking, they saw that Errol, the ancient Weasley owl, had landed on Ron's plate, scattering food everywhere, before sliding further along and knocking the jar of maple syrup into Lavender Brown's lap. Considering the owl's spectacular crash landing, nobody noticed the Howler it had been carrying until it went off.
"RONALD WEASLEY! WE WILL BE AT HOGWARTS THIS WEEKEND TO HAVE A DISCUSSION WITH YOU ABOUT PROPER BEHAVIOR, AS YOU CLEARLY DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU SHOULD. IN THE MEANTIME, YOU WILL LEAVE HARRY AND POOR HERMIONE COMPLETELY ALONE!"
Wide smirk in place, Ginny turned back to Harry. "I don't think it'll be a problem to keep him away from you for a while."
"Oh, that was just evil," Harry said with a chuckle.
Ginny shrugged. "Hey, I wasn't the one who told Mum.
"Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to talk to Hermione, too." Ginny stood and walked toward the doors, stopping the just entering Hermione from approaching Harry. She pulled the other girl to a seat at the Gryffindor table just as a fuming Lavender came stomping past.
"What was that about?" a confused Hermione asked Ginny, voice raised to be heard over the laughing and excited chatter still echoing in the room.
Grin still in place, Ginny said, "It all has to do with the apology I need to make to you. Have a seat, please. This'll take a while."
"As I told you before the break, silent casting is essential if you wish to survive a duel."
Harry, sharing a table with Tracey, Daphne, and Hermione, didn't even blink when Snape spun and stared at him.
"Let us test to see how our very own . . . Chosen One," he growled out snidely, "does without shouting out incantations for all to hear. Potter, come up here." As Harry stood and moved across from Snape in the front of the room, Snape ordered, "I shall cast a hex at you. You will cast a silent Protego Shield." In a single smooth motion and without warning, Snape brought his wand out and flicked it at Harry. A bright yellow spear of energy formed and flew at him.
Harry's eyes widened. "Contego," he shouted. Instead of a standard Protego shield of energy, a solid, bronze shield appeared on Harry's arm. The spear hit the shield and deflected into the ceiling with a gong-like sound.
"That will be twenty points for failing to follow instructions, Potter," Snape said with an oily smirk.
Harry clamped his jaw shut, a murderous glare aimed at the Defense professor. The Slytherins in the class laughed.
Tracey was ready to shout out her anger, but Hermione laid a hand on her arm. Giving the other girl a shake of her head, Hermione kept her from making a noise.
The remainder of the class passed without any problems, though most of the Gryffindors shot angry looks at Harry. Once the bell rang and everyone was filing out, Ron grabbed Harry by the shoulder and spun him around. "Why the hell did you lose us twenty points, Potter?"
Harry was surprised at the use of his last name but answered, "A standard shield wouldn't have stopped a Power Spear, Ron. If I had put one up, it would have broken through the shield and sent me to the Hospital Wing. And he would have still taken the points because he'd claim the shield wasn't good enough. You know how he works."
Ron frowned but nodded. He and the rest of the class moved toward the Great Hall. Harry, his girls, and Hermione followed at a slower pace.
"That is fundamentally unfair!" Tracey objected. "I can't believe how biased he is against Harry. What'd you ever do to him?"
"My father and godfather tormented him in school. He's had it in for me from the first day."
"How juvenile. He's abusing a student because he can't grow up past the emotional age of fourteen?"
"That will be a detention for the sub-human slave formerly called Tracey Davis," Snape drawled from behind them. "My classroom at eight tonight."
All four students tensed up but refused to turn. "Yes, sir," Tracey tightly said.
Not another word was spoken until all four were sitting down for lunch.
"Welcome to Gryffindor House," Harry wryly said.
Harry and Daphne were sitting in their front room that evening when the door to their apartments slammed open and Tracey flew into the room and crashed into him, sobbing loudly.
Harry, barely having retained his seat after the unexpected collision, took only a few moments before he realized what he had in his arms. "Dobby!" he barked. When the house-elf popped in, visibly excited, Harry snarled, "Seal the room. If someone, anyone, tries to enter before we give you the all-clear, incapacitate them immediately."
Dobby's eyes were huge as he took in the sobbing girl and Harry's flaring anger. "Yes, Harry Potter sir!" A wave of his hand and all the walls glowed silver for a moment and the Dobby popped out.
Daphne, ignoring the elf's actions, had come across the room and knelt next to Tracey, eyes assessing her friend. Nothing was visibly wrong, despite her crying. "What happened, Tracey?"
Tracey's sobs slowed to disjointed hiccups as she calmed under Harry's hands rubbing up and down her back. After one final sniffle, she kept her head down and said, "Professor Snape. He . . ."
Harry, all sorts of horrible scenarios running through his mind, grit his teeth at her pause.
"What did he do?" Daphne softly asked.
"He . . . he tried to rape me," she mumbled, clutching Harry's robe tighter.
Harry's arms convulsed once before he force himself to calm. Much as he wanted to roar out his anger and charge out the door to hunt the man down, his wife needed him more. "He tried," Harry stressed. "He didn't succeed?"
Tracey shook her head, slackening her grip on his robes by degrees.
"Can you talk about it?"
Tracey tensed back up for a moment. "I must," she said in a fragile voice. "Dumbledore needs to know."
"Okay," Harry said softly. "Then we'll all go to Professor McGonagall."
"Why her?" Daphne asked.
"When a Gryffindor has a problem with another professor, we're supposed to go to the head of Gryffindor first. I'm sure she's going to take us to Dumbledore immediately, but we want to follow the forms if we want any kind of justice to be done."
Daphne grimaced but nodded her acceptance of that point.
Harry turned to the girl in his arms. "Can you walk?"
One final, shuddering breath and she straightened up and nodded. Standing, she held herself erect and headed toward the door without looking right or left. Harry and Daphne shared a concerned glance before following her.
Once outside the quarters, they found Dobby standing beside their doorway. "Thank you, Dobby, for your help once again," Harry told him solemnly but without slowing.
The house-elf trotted to keep up with them. "You is most welcome, Harry Potter sir. Will Tracey Potter ma'am be well?"
Harry grimaced, his eyes not leaving the form of the wife walking in front of him. "I hope so, Dobby. I hope so."
The three magicians rapidly made their way to Professor McGonagall's office. Knocking, Harry called out, "Professor? We need to speak with you immediately."
The head of Gryffindor opened her door and peered at the upset Harry and Daphne for a moment before her eyes stopped on Tracey. Taking in the overly-stiff posture, she gently asked, "Whatever is the matter, Bine Potter?"
"I wish to report an attempted rape," she stated flatly, eyes not moving from a spot on the doorframe.
Harry moved up and put an arm around her. Tracey tilted her head to his shoulder and suppressed a shudder.
McGonagall's nostrils flared and her eyes narrowed. "By whom?" she asked in a deadly voice.
"Severus Snape," Tracey said clearly.
McGonagall blinked rapidly, jaw dropping open. "Ah . . . that is quite an accusation."
After several seconds of McGonagall gaping at them, Harry said, "May I suggest we go speak with the Headmaster? Considering who this is, may I also request Professors Flitwick and Sprout attend?"
"What? Oh, er, yes, I suppose that is a good idea," McGonagall said, clearly rattled by the situation.
Impatient with the lack of action, Harry sent Messenger Spells off to the two professors, politely requesting their presence in the Headmaster's office. He gently turned Tracey away from the doorway and headed up to the seventh floor, finally coming to a stop in front of the gargoyle guarding Dumbledore's office.
McGonagall, finally having regained control of herself, stiffly said, "Sugar Quills."
Harry and McGonagall led the girls up the revolving staircase and had Dumbledore's door open by the time the two girls made it up. Harry was unsurprised to find Snape already standing behind the seated Dumbledore, dark eyes boring into Harry and Tracey, a faint smirk lurking in the corner of his mouth.
"What can I do for you, Professor McGonagall?" Dumbledore asked easily.
"I believe we should wait for the other heads of house to arrive, Headmaster," Harry interrupted with an apologetic look toward McGonagall. "This is going to be a very trying conversation, and I don't want to stress Tracey unduly."
"How touching," Snape drawled. "Very kind of you to be so concerned about the feelings of your property."
"Professor Snape is deliberately trying to aggravate the situation," Harry stated, not directing his comment at anyone in particular as he helped Tracey into a small couch and sitting with her. Daphne stood quietly behind them.
McGonagall's frown became just a touch deeper as she glared at Snape.
They were all silent as they waited.
Sprout, the first of the remaining two to enter, raised her eyebrows at the crowd and took a seat near McGonagall.
Flitwick was the last one in and stopped cold as he entered the room. Taking in each face and the feeling of obvious tension, he chose a seat at the side of the room, away from Harry.
Dumbledore looked at Flitwick curiously for his seating choice but did not comment on it. Instead, he asked, "Minerva?"
"Bine Potter, Tracey, came to my quarters and told me that someone had just attempted to rape her."
"She's a slave. She has no rights," Snape promptly said.
"She is a student," Sprout pointed out with a deep frown. She turned and asked, "Who was it who tried to rape you, child?"
"Why does it matter?" Snape asked in a bored tone.
"Because she's a human being!" Sprout snapped at him. She turned back to Tracey.
"Prof — Mister," she stressed, "Snape."
The only one who looked surprised was Pomona Sprout.
"Already told you, did he?" Harry asked Dumbledore.
"Professor Snape told me that Bine Potter came into his classroom and made inappropriate advances to him," Dumbledore replied.
Harry made a rude noise of disgust.
"For being the supposed victim here, he's been trying very hard to anger her and belittle her position," Daphne observed, ignoring Harry's reaction.
"Yes," Minerva said, not taking her attention from Snape. "Makes you wonder, doesn't it?"
"What do you have to say for yourself, Severus?" Sprout asked sternly.
"The slave is lying," he said dismissively.
"Headmaster, it strikes me that we can solve this easily. May we borrow your Pensieve?" Harry asked politely.
"She'll give a false memory," Snape accused.
"As far as I know, there are only two Master Occlumens in the room, and she isn't one of them," Harry stated.
"Which means your Pensieve memories aren't to be trusted," McGonagall pointed out to Snape.
"And what's to stop Potter's slave here from giving a false memory? She could have learned Occlumency from any of a number of sources," Snape persisted.
Harry gave another disgusted snort. "As you made it abundantly clear that I'm abysmal at it, I certainly couldn't have taught her in the two weeks we've been together. I checked last year and I know there aren't any useful texts in Hogwarts's library nor in Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade. I, for one, don't know of any other easy sources for that information."
"Neither do I," Sprout said.
"So, Albus, if you would be so good as to get your Pensieve out?" McGonagall asked.
"The Hat," Flitwick spoke up.
Most of the room turned to look at him. "What was that?" Sprout asked.
"Put the Sorting Hat on her head. It'll know if she has Occlumency barriers and know the truth of the accusation as well," he explained simply.
Harry, McGonagall, and Daphne looked triumphant. Snape's scowl increased.
Dumbledore appeared to be very uneasy with the direction of the conversation, but he asked, "Sorting Hat, will you be willing to help us in this endeavor?"
The dirty, frayed, old sorcerer's hat atop one of the shelves shook itself a little and said, "Yes, Headmaster. I can help if the young lady agrees."
"She is chattel," Sprout pointed out tentatively. Giving Tracey and Harry an apologetic shrug, she continued, "Should you not ask her lord for permission?"
"No matter her legal status, she is still a thinking entity and deserves consideration," the Hat replied matter-of-factly. "A fact that you should remember, Snape."
The defense professor made a sour face at being told off by an animated hat.
"Thank you," Tracey said respectfully but with continuing tension. "I am willing to let you examine my memory, as that seems to be the quickest way to convince everyone. I only ask that you keep any other memories you may see in confidence."
The Hat chuckled. "Fear not, young lady. I have kept all secrets for these thousand years. I shall continue doing so for as long as I exist.
"Professor McGonagall," it continued, "if you would?"
The Deputy Headmistress took it gently off of the shelf and placed it upon Tracey's head. As she had grown since her sorting, it now fit her as a hat should instead of slipping low over her brow.
"Hmm," the Hat said. "First off, let me state that she lacks sufficient Occlumency barriers to stop me. Do not fret, Bine Potter. Remember that the specifics of what I see, I shall forevermore hold in confidence." It seemed to turn to address Dumbledore. "To that end, I submit that it would be best if she were to tell what she wishes you to know and I shall simply verify that she is telling the truth."
"For this purpose, that should be sufficient," McGonagall said with a decisive nod.
"Well," Tracey said, licking her lips nervously, "after Prof — Mr. Snape manipulated Harry into losing the points in class today —"
"I did not manipulate him. He disobeyed my instructions," Snape interrupted.
"Give it up, Snape," the Hat said in disgust. "If he'd followed your orders, he'd have been in the hospital if not disemboweled and killed. Because he adequately protected himself from your cowardly, sneak attack, you took twenty points away from him. In fact, Potter, take fifty points for knowing the correct shield to withstand a Power Spear Hex. Continue, young lady."
Tracey ignored the apoplectic look on Snape's face in favor of speaking directly to Dumbledore. "After class, I asked Harry why Snape had always treated him so poorly. Harry said it had to do with his father and godfather and their time in school with Snape. I made what was a rude observation about Snape holding a grudge for so long." It did not escape anyone's notice that the other three Heads of House smirked at this. "He gave me detention for my comment. I showed up at the appointed time, but had no idea what to expect."
"What do you mean, dear?" Sprout asked.
"I've never seen him give a Slytherin detention before," Tracey answered with a shrug.
The other three professors turned glares upon Snape for a few moments. "Very well," Sprout said. "Please continue."
"As I said, I didn't know what to expect. I mean, I've heard the stories about students in the other houses: how the Puffs and Claws would prepare the normal ingredients or clean the classroom with magic and how Gryff's would scrub the cauldrons by hand or prepare the really revolting ingredients. I didn't know which category I would fall into."
"You reserve the worst punishments for my students?" McGonagall asked frostily of Snape.
"Oh, how very even-handed of you, Severus," Sprout said, sarcasm dripping off her words.
Snape, wisely, remained silent. Even Dumbledore looked at him disapprovingly.
"Well, I had come to the classroom, worried about what I would be forced to do. When I came in, he was grading papers. He looked up at me and apparently saw my nervousness. He said something like, 'No need to be nervous, little one. I'm not going to hurt you.' The fact that he called me 'little one' confused me, but I didn't think much of it. I asked him what I was going to do for the detention. He said I was going to 'work it off'. I asked what he meant. Instead of answering, he stood and walked up to me. I don't recall his exact words, but it was something like, 'Nothing more than what your Saint Lord Potter gets from you. You are, after all, a pretty little thing.'"
She took a breath, visibly squashing her emotions. "He then ran a finger down the side of my face. I backed up several steps. I was really nervous by this point, hoping I was reading the whole situation wrong. 'What do you mean?' I asked. 'Potter has already despoiled you,' he answered. 'I assure you that I can be a much more patient lover than an arrogant, bumbling schoolboy.'"
"Severus, how could you?" McGonagall's voice lashed out.
"That isn't all," Tracey said, eyes riveted on Dumbledore and voice turning fragile. "When I refused him, he grabbed my chin and pulled my face up. I kept my eyes away from his. When he couldn't catch my eye, he leaned in and whispered into my ear, 'Relax, and you may even enjoy it. Don't worry, you won't remember anything once I'm done.'"
All three professors shouted at Snape as one.
This was too much for Tracey and she turned, burying her face into Harry's robes and nearly crawling into his lap. His arms came around her as she clung to him and shuddered.
It took a few minutes of shouting, but Dumbledore finally restored order in his office. Snape was on one side, the other professors at the other and glaring at the Head of Slytherin.
"One thing I don't understand," Sprout said. "Why did she avoid Se- Snape's eyes?"
Tracey, dry-eyed but visibly distraught, looked up. "I was afraid of Legilimency. I was afraid he was going to rape me at that point. I didn't want to know what he would do to my mind if given the chance."
Harry gritted his teeth and glared at Snape harder.
Dumbledore spoke, "I have only one further question of you: How did you get away?"
Tracey made a noise of dark humor, and her face twisted into a slight grin. "I first thought about spiking his hand to the desk with his wand," she stated flatly. "He's reputed to be a good dueler, though, and I knew that trying to attack him that way would be a mistake. So instead, I kneed him in the . . . groin."
Harry, Flitwick, and Dumbledore winced. Flitwick crossed his legs. Harry would have done the same except for his lap full of witch.
Dumbledore cleared his throat. "Yes, well, I believe that is all we need to hear. Bine Potter, Daphne, could you take the other Bine Potter to Madam Pomfrey? I daresay a Calming Draught would not be amiss."
Harry's head shot up. "Sir!" he objected.
Dumbledore held up a hand. "I'm afraid, Mr. Potter, that you need to remain here for the remainder of the conversation."
Harry frowned deeply. "But I need to take care of -"
"How very touching," Snape interrupted in a drawl.
"Shut it!" Flitwick barked, startling everyone in the room. With everyone silent and staring at the diminutive professor in astonishment, he nodded decisively. "Harry, would you feel better if I were to go along with your ladies?"
Harry relaxed. He knew he could trust the Ravenclaw professor. He looked at Tracey. "Would that be okay with you?" he asked softly.
She hesitated for a few seconds and then nodded.
As she stood, Dumbledore said, "Filius, you need to remain here as well."
"No, I don't," Flitwick stated flatly. "I name Harry as my proxy for these discussions."
Snape, paling just a little further, objected, "You cannot. He is not mature enough to -"
"He's far more mature than some here I could name," Flitwick acidly answered, staring Snape down. After several tense seconds, he nodded again, having gotten his point across. "Fine, Minerva can speak for me, then." He turned and opened the door, waving his arm. "Ladies?"
Harry helped Tracey to her feet. "I'll see you in the hospital later." He turned to Daphne. "Take care of her." Daphne nodded, but Harry had already turned his head. "Thank you," he silently mouthed to the Charms professor.
Giving a short nod, he retrieved the forgotten Sorting Hat from Tracey's head, handed it to McGonagall, and then followed the two girls out of the room.
"For the record," the Hat said as it was being placed onto the shelf again, "every word the young lady said was the complete truth."
"So," Harry said in an overloud voice, "we've proven that your little pet Death Eater is biased against Gryffindors and for Slytherin, attempted to rape my wife, threatened a memory charm, and is a known abuser of Legilimency. My only question is how long his prison sentence is going to be."
"YOU INSOLENT -" Snape started in a bellow.
"ENOUGH!" roared Dumbledore.
Snape's jaw shut with an audible click. His glare rested on Harry from across the room.
"Harry," Dumbledore started calmly, "you're aware of why I must keep Severus here."
"I'm aware of why you think you need to keep him protected, yes. I'm not convinced he's on our side, but that's a conversation for another time."
Dumbledore knew better than to respond to that, so he ignored it. "On another topic, your charge of attempted rape isn't valid." He held up a hand to Harry's gathering eruption. "Recall their legal status, Harry. They're property. At most, you could try to bring charges of attempting to damage your property."
"The fact that they're students at your school doesn't matter?" Harry demanded incredulously. "You're going to let him get away with attempting to rape her?"
"Alas, my hands are tied, legally."
"We're completely ignoring the fact that you're completely justified in sacking him for about twenty different reasons," Harry spat. "Fine, I give up." He turned his head to the absolutely incensed McGonagall. "Deputy Headmistress, could you please contact Madam Maxime and inquire to the possibility of three transfer students?"
Dumbledore half-rose out of his seat in alarm. "Harry!"
Harry glared at the man. "It's blindingly obvious that you're not going to do anything about the monster hiding in your shadow. Short of a public smear campaign against you and him, I don't see what I can do. Therefore, I'm going to leave you to stew in the problem of your own making.
"I'm sure I'll miss some of my friends, assuming they don't follow me, but getting out of this school is more than worth it."
"He's right, you know," the Hat said. "Until I perused Bine Potter's memories of classes with Snape, I didn't realize how bad it was. On behalf of Hogwarts herself, I demand you remove Snape."
Dumbledore looked at the Hat in shock. Minerva looked smug. Without taking her eyes from Snape, she said, "Recall how many complaints I have brought against him, Headmaster. I've counseled for years that you replace him."
"I, too," Sprout spoke up. "Headmaster, when will you see that everyone believes he should be replaced? Even Hogwarts herself, through the Hat, is stating the same thing."
"He is one of the finest potions brewers in Europe," Dumbledore objected.
"Perhaps, but that has nothing to do with his ability to teach," the Hat stated.
Harry's mouth closed, the same sentiment, using less than polite words, unvoiced.
"But he must be kept here for his protection," Dumbledore protested.
Sprout threw up her hands in exasperation. "So put him in the dungeons and let him spend all his time brewing! Just keep him away from the students, Albus."
Dumbledore looked down at his desktop, considering. Finally he looked over at the silent Snape. "Would that be acceptable to you, Severus?"
Snape's mouth twitched a few times as he continued to glare at Harry. Finally, he gave one short nod. "Acceptable."
Dumbledore turned to Harry. "Harry?"
"No," Harry stated flatly, eyes locked with Snape's. "He deserves Azkaban for what he's done. You all know that."
Harry let out an angry breath and transferred his eyes to Dumbledore. "But that isn't going to happen due to Tracey's legal status. So this is as good as it's going to get, I guess. Just tell the students that he has been removed for an attempted rape of a student."
"Tomorrow I will state that he is being dismissed," Dumbledore offered.
Harry's look turned to a scowl. "If you don't call it what it is, Dumbledore, I will."
McGonagall decided not to correct Harry's form of address.
Having gotten his point across, Harry's eyes went back to Snape, and he smirked. "After all, that won't hurt his reputation with Voldemort."
"And it will help you," McGonagall added softly.
It took several seconds for her words to make sense. Once the rumors of who the victim was coupled with Harry storming up to the Headmaster's office, it would help prove his interest in the girls' welfare.
Just like a good little master.
Harry felt slightly disgusted with himself over that thought but nodded his agreement.
Fuming, Harry entered the Hogwarts Infirmary and stopped short. Daphne, Hermione, and Neville were sitting around Tracey's bed. Before he could approach them, though, Madam Pomfrey saw him.
"Lord Potter," she greeted him.
He gave her a sour look. "Lord only by necessity, Madam Pomfrey.
"How's Tracey?" he asked next.
"There is nothing physically wrong with her," she answered. "I gave her a Calming Draught. It's helping for the moment. She may need one tomorrow morning, but I hope that a little time will help." Her voice dropped. "Staying away from whoever scared her so badly will be critical. Do you know who it was?"
Harry raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Nobody told you what happened?"
The school nurse shook her head.
Harry glanced over at the corner where he could sense Professor Flitwick more than he could see the man. "You may as well come over, Professor, so I only have to explain this once."
Pomfrey blinked in surprise as Flitwick faded back into view, stepping over to the two.
"Thank you for standing guard, Fil," Harry said with a smile.
Flitwick waved that off. "You and your ladies more than deserve it, Harry."
Harry gave the man another smile before it faded. Turning to Pomfrey, he exhaled noisily. "Snape tried to rape her," he stated bluntly. He ignored her sharp intake of breath. "Due to her status, I can't get him arrested, though," he added in disgust. Shaking his head, he led the two over toward the bed.
As they arrived, Hermione stood and nodded politely to the professor and the school nurse. "We'll be going," she said. She turned to Tracey. "I hope you feel better soon."
Harry objected, "You don't have to leave."
"We've said what we need to say to her," Neville said calmly. He, too, nodded politely to everyone and led Hermione from the room, holding the door for her.
"They didn't have to go," Harry said to nobody in particular. "It was nice of them to visit, though." He turned to Tracey and his voice became much more gentle. "Will you be okay?"
Tracey, face serene, merely nodded.
"Well, we did come to an agreement on what to do with Snape," Harry went on with a grimace. "Fortunately, Professors McGonagall and Sprout convinced Headmaster Dumbledore to replace him. He won't be teaching anymore. I wanted to do more than that, but . . ."
Daphne frowned but slowly nodded. "I understand."
"I don't like it, either," Harry said before turning back to Tracey. He took the hand of the girl lying in the bed.
"But it's the best you can do, considering our status," Tracey said simply.
Tracey frowned faintly, clearly still under the effects of a Calming Draught. "You're unhappy, Master."
"Yes I am. I wish that Snape was being punished more."
"I know what would have made you feel better," Tracey announced. When Harry and Daphne looked at her, she continued in a level voice, "I should have spiked his testicles to his desk instead."
The next morning, Dumbledore announced that Snape had been dismissed.
Most of the students promptly started cheering.
The Slytherins shouted out their objections, resulting in a fair amount of shouting going back at them.
The disturbance between the houses went on for only a few minutes before Dumbledore quieted everyone down again. Once the noise level dropped, Dumbledore, twinkle conspicuously absent, went on, stating that the dismissal was due to his attempted sexual misconduct with a student.
Harry, smirk hidden from his face, noted more than one face turned to him and his girls. The Hogwarts rumor mill moved as quickly as McGonagall had hinted.
After several long moments, Dumbledore further announced that until a replacement Defense professor had been hired, he, Flitwick, and McGonagall would be splitting the classes. Finished, Dumbledore sat down and calmly began his breakfast. Slowly, the students followed suit, though the sound level never rose above a low buzz, quite lower than usual.
Once he had finished eating, Dumbledore stood and made his way toward the doors.
"Headmaster?" Harry called.
He stopped. "Yes, Lord Potter?"
Harry ignored the form of address. "Did you notice the one similarity among everyone you've informed about Snape's actions?"
Dumbledore tilted his head in thought. "I am afraid that nothing comes immediately to mind."
"Two things, actually. None of them were shocked that he'd do such a thing, and none of them tried to defend him. What does that tell you about him?"
Dumbledore sighed. "I trust Severus," he answered, ignoring the question.
Harry nodded. "I know. And I hope it means something to you that you're the only one who does."
Life settled into an uncommon peace at Hogwarts.
With being taught by a Transfiguration Mistress, a former dueling champion, and the defeater of Grindelwald, Defense classes became much more instructive for the students, if somewhat jarring in that the topics kept shifting depending on who was teaching that particular class.
The pure-blood students left the Potters respectfully alone. The muggle-born, after seeing how well the girls were treated, watched them in curiosity but no antipathy.
Dumbledore, though he showed up for meals, kept to himself outside of the classroom.
Filius, during one of their regular dueling lessons, told Harry that Dumbledore had been spending a lot of time alone in his office.
Nobody had seen Snape since his dismissal. This pleased everyone except the Slytherins.
During a dueling lesson during the third week of the new year, Nymphadora Tonks showed up at the door.
Flitwick turned his attention from Daphne's practice of a new hex and smiled. "Ah, Nymphadora! Thank you for coming."
She gave him a wry grin. "Professor, you're one of the very few I let get away with that." Her usual happy expression flowed back over her face, and her hair turned purple. "Wotcher, Harry!" She came over and gave the young man a hug.
She jumped back when both Daphne and Tracey growled.
Harry laughed. "Easy girls," he said. "Tonks is a friend, and she's no threat to you." As the girls were calming down, he turned to the confused auror. "Tracey and Daphne are . . . protective of me."
"Good a word as any," a chuckling Flitwick agreed.
Harry graced the man with a grin.
"The hug?" Tonks asked.
Harry nodded. He turned to the two girls. "Don't worry about Tonks. She's dating Professor Lupin." He turned. "Or are you engaged yet?"
With a blinding smile, Tonks held up her left hand, showing off a ring.
The girls squealed and jumped at Tonks, turning from protective shrews into giggling teenaged girls in the blink of an eye. The three women moved to the corner of the room and started whispering, punctuated by the occasional giggle.
Harry turned mystified eyes to Flitwick.
"Auror Tonks will be working with your ladies while I continue to work with you," the professor explained.
Harry nodded. "Good idea, but I was more curious as to how girls can change emotional states like that."
Flitwick gave a small grin. "Harry, my boy, if I knew that I'd write a book and sell it to the male half of the planet."