1. Due to issues with external spam filters, QQ is currently unable to send any mail to Microsoft E-mail addresses. This includes any account at live.com, hotmail.com or msn.com. Signing up to the forum with one of these addresses will result in your verification E-mail never arriving. For best results, please use a different E-mail provider for your QQ address.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. For prospective new members, a word of warning: don't use common names like Dennis, Simon, or Kenny if you decide to create an account. Spammers have used them all before you and gotten those names flagged in the anti-spam databases. Your account registration will be rejected because of it.
    Dismiss Notice
  3. Since it has happened MULTIPLE times now, I want to be very clear about this. You do not get to abandon an account and create a new one. You do not get to pass an account to someone else and create a new one. If you do so anyway, you will be banned for creating sockpuppets.
    Dismiss Notice
  4. If you wish to change your username, please ask via conversation to tehelgee instead of asking via my profile. I'd like to not clutter it up with such requests.
    Dismiss Notice
  5. Due to the actions of particularly persistent spammers and trolls, we will be banning disposable email addresses from today onward.
    Dismiss Notice
  6. We have added another rule, please check the Rules post for more information.
    Dismiss Notice
  7. Due to some issues with Freenode, the QQ IRC Channel is moving. See here for more information.
    Dismiss Notice

Enter the Dragon (Harry Potter/Shadowrun)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Dunkelzahn, Jul 10, 2018.

Loading...
  1. Gaming Geek

    Gaming Geek Tired of the random default stuff

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2014
    Messages:
    477
    Likes Received:
    1,743
    Given the medieval/Victorian mix of the social system, there already is a proper way to show his protection of them, AND IT SHOULD ALREADY BE IN USE.

    They're Wards of House Potter. And should already have the markings showing that, yes?
     
  2. SystemSearcher

    SystemSearcher "I fought the door and the door won"

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2017
    Messages:
    149
    Likes Received:
    600
    The issue is that this gets Hermione all but publically declared a prostitute, because according to Wizarding logic, a muggle has nothing else to offer to a wizard.
     
    Grimrr and Skjadir like this.
  3. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2018
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    10,306
    Abigail's got her own family, actually. The Abercrombies are a relatively minor House, but they are a House, and as a daughter of the House, she is under its protection.

    As for the ward relationship, that is a thing, indicated by either a cloth or leather marking torc (though I suppose those might be called choker necklaces, due to being non-rigid), and if House Potter were in a normal situation, one would have been given to Hermione and no one would have batted an eyelash.

    Unfortunately, House Potter is currently headed by Harry, who is both the only member of the House and around Hermione's age, so if he took her in like that, there would be assumptions made regardless.

    "Powerful young lord takes under his protection a girl of similar age but much lower social status. They then spend lots of unchaperoned time together."

    It reads like the start of a romance novel, and that is what everyone is going to believe, regardless of what explanation is given.The only control Harry has is what kind of story they think it is.

    Registration only (would traditionally have been an iron torc before the registry was a thing) would have them thinking Pretty Woman, while a ward relationship would evoke the old bodice-rippers because Harry is a young lord with no supervision and all the power in the relationship, so of course that's how it's going to go.

    On the other hand, a silver torc at least makes it sound like a classy romance novel with hints of a happy ending.
     
  4. The Unicorn

    The Unicorn Experienced.

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2015
    Messages:
    2,897
    Likes Received:
    9,420
    The Torque appears to be more of an Engagement ring then anything else, and using the standards of 17th-18th century engagements, i.e a public commitment that you are going to marry with social and financial consequences if you change your mind.

    It's explicitly stated in the story that there are no laws against it, but that it would be very unusual.

    The description is:
    So while it's quite unusual if Abigail and Hermione both agree there's nothing stopping Harry from marrying both of them...That's a pretty big IF.
     
    caspian1a, Skjadir and zup like this.
  5. Spartan3909

    Spartan3909 Know what you're doing yet?

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2018
    Messages:
    138
    Likes Received:
    945
    So I found this today, how much of a resemblance to Harry would you say this has?
     
    Emperor Lee likes this.
  6. Threadmarks: Section 4.10 - Deception
    Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2018
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    10,306
    4.10 Deception


    4.10.1 Defense in depth

    The sound of a gunfire echoed through a shooting range deep under Gringotts’ London Branch as Harry Potter, currently in his human form, demonstrated his hard-earned skills with each of his rifles under the evaluating eye of Sergeant-Major Hooktalon.

    It had been a few days since his conversation with Abigail, and Harry had come to Gringotts once again, this time seeking to arrange several things for his coming trip. In a rather unusual circumstance, this time his requests had sat right on the edge in terms of complexity, too involved to handle while he waited, yet simple enough to arrange in a few hours. As a result, Harry had taken advantage of the long wait to take the good Sergeant-Major up on his standing offer to evaluate Harry’s marksmanship.

    So far, the dragon had done well, though Hooktalon was not one to leave anything half-done.

    “Mr. Potter, the ammunition feed of your weapon has just jammed!” Hooktalon barked in his drill sergeant tenor, initiating the final part of his test. “Clear it!”

    Harry immediately stripped out the appropriate parts of his rifle, demonstrated that they had been cleared, reassembled the device, reloaded, and returned to shooting. As he emptied the remainder of the magazine, Hooktalon called a halt to the exercise.

    “Acceptable work, Mr. Potter,” the Sergeant-Major pronounced in his strident voice, the high praise eliciting a broad smile from the young dragon. “Keep at it, and in another decade or two you might improve enough to be called good! For now, remember to keep your breathing relaxed; your groupings at distance are still too loose!”

    Harry nodded seriously, committing the advice to memory.

    “Now, Mr. Potter,” the infantry-gob began, this time in a gruff, yet almost paternal tone, “You have proven yourself able to competently handle a rifle, and we would normally begin teaching you to use a pistol at this point, starting with a Browning or something similar from the armory. However, I think it’d be best for you to get something a little fancier. I understand you’re going on a trip to the Confederacy, and I know a fellow up in Michigan — human, but a decent sort all the same — who ought to be able to set you up, goes by the name of Ed…”

    “Why not just get started like normal?” Harry interrupted with a frown. “I mean, it just needs to shoot, right? Why would I need ‘fancy’?”

    “Well, you see, Mr. Potter, a gob’s first pistol is an important thing. Your rifle is never too far away, but your pistol is on you at all times, so you’re going to want to get something a little more…” he trailed off awkwardly as he searched for the appropriate word.

    The young dragon waited for him to continue with bright, eager eyes.

    “Look, lad, what I’m saying is that you’re the sort of young gentleman that rubs elbows with the likes of the Vice-Chairman,” Hooktalon explained, finally finding an acceptable way to get his point across. “A standard-issue Browning works just fine for one of my squaddies, but you’re going to need something a bit more impressive to fit in with all the swanky aristocratic-types…”

    The sound of a clearing throat issued conspicuously from the doorway.

    Whirling to face the new noise, the Sergeant-Major snapped to attention as soon as he identified the newcomer,

    “Mr. Vice-Chairman, sir!”

    “Hi there, Mr. Slackhammer!” Harry greeted his business partner with a cheerful wave.

    “At ease, Sergeant-Major,” the rotund goblin nodded to his subordinate, a faintly amused tone in his voice. “If I might have a moment to speak with your student, here, I am afraid we swanky aristocratic-types have some things to discuss.”

    Hooktalon turned an ever so slightly lighter shade of khaki, “Yes, sir, Mr. Vice-Chairman, sir!”

    And with that, the infantry-gob nodded to Harry and retreated post-haste to the other end of the range.

    “Congratulations on your accomplishment, Mr. Potter,” the dapper goblin congratulated.

    “Thanks!”

    “Your marksmanship is, however, not why I have sought you out,” he explained. “I am here to inform you of the results of your requests.”

    “Oh! Good,” the young dragon said brightly. “Did everything work out?”

    “Everything for your coming expedition, yes,” Slackhammer nodded. “As requested, I have arranged for you to hire a squad of infantry gobs to provide security for your Lair while you are away…”

    “Griphook’s squad?” Harry asked intently.

    “Yes, Mr. Potter,” the dapper goblin sighed. “It took a fair bit of shuffling, but I was able to assign the good Color Sergeant to your lair’s security detail once again.”

    “Good!” he gave a satisfied nod.

    “The emergency portkeys for your young ladies were easy enough to arrange,” the rotund goblin reached into a coat pocket and withdrew a brown envelope. Handing it to his young partner, he continued, “Two small pins. Say the activation word written on the note within, and they will trigger, attempting to transport the wearer to Gringotts’ portkey reception area. Please inform the wearers that due to their small size, the pins will not carry more than one charge, and that anyone arriving via such a portkey will be forcibly detained by Gringotts’ security forces until both their identity and mental state can be verified. It is company policy.”

    “I’ll do that, Mr. Slackhammer,” the young dragon agreed with a satisfied nod, tucking the envelope into his own pocket for later. “And the rest?”

    “I have arranged for Gringotts to keep a weather eye out for your Miss Granger during your absence, which took the greatest amount of effort to coordinate as we do not normally provide such services,” he replied. “We will, of course, keep our distance per your requirements, but we will monitor the registries and the news. Should she show up in any sort of public trouble, magical or non, we will step in to defend her on your behalf legally... or physically, as the case may be.”

    “And the fees?” the young dragon asked.

    “As agreed, a retainer plus individual fees for services rendered,” the goblin stated. “On account of our excellent business relationship, I am waiving any surcharge for the short notice.”

    “Thanks, Mr. Slackhammer!” he said brightly, before continuing in a more apologetic tone. “I would have given you more notice, but I didn’t find out it’d be necessary until recently, myself. Sorry.”

    “These things happen, Mr. Potter,” the dapper goblin waved off the apology. “Had I thought you simply neglectful, I would not have waived the surcharge.”

    The young dragon nodded agreeable, that seemed reasonable. “Anyway, I guess that’s everything, then?”

    “There is one other thing before I allow you to return to your discussion with the good Sergeant-Major, Mr. Potter,” Slackhammer noted.

    “What is it?” Harry asked curiously.

    “I have had the opportunity to make preliminary inquiries regarding the business proposal you brought up during your last visit,” the rotund goblin explained. “The Board is cautiously interested, though their willingness to float a loan of that magnitude is heavily dependent on the details of the proposed purchase.”

    “Yeah, I kinda expected that,” Harry agreed with a nod. “The numbers are still borderline at the moment, even with the new locomotive design.”

    “They have suggested that you run a detailed survey of the assets in question,” he relayed. “They feel that the additional information is needed before a final decision can be made.”

    “I’ve got that in the works,” his young business partner agreed with a nod. “Thanks for checking, though!”

    “It was my pleasure as always, Mr. Potter,” the dapper goblin said with a toothy smile. “And, if I may, I wish you safe and productive travels.”

    He was answered with an equally toothy smile; then the young dragon went off to find Hooktalon and finish their earlier discussion.

    4.10.2 Headstrong

    White-knuckled and grinding her teeth, Abigail glared at the head of bushy brown hair as it disappeared around the corner, its owner walking off in a huff.

    That… that…

    Then Abigail huffed as well as she gave up on finding the appropriate term to encapsulate what she had just witnessed, too annoyed to think straight. She had known the girl could be stubborn, but there was stubborn and then there was pigheaded. Granger had bloody well jumped over the line into the second category in that conversation.

    Abigail had gone into this almost expecting her general explanations about the dangers involved to fall on deaf ears, which they had. After all, had Granger heeded those sorts of explanations before, the conversation would have been unnecessary. What Abigail had not expected was for the stubborn brat to summarily disregard her other story, a heartfelt tale of personal tragedy.

    In an effort to help the girl get a visceral feel for the gravity of the situation, Abigail had told her of the abduction of Alice, her childhood friend, and how the girl, barely eleven years old at the time, had been whisked off to an unknown but presumably horrible fate. The story was an emotional one for her, difficult to get through even after more than half a decade, but Abigail had forged on in hopes of helping her new friend avoid the same fate.

    It had not elicited the reaction she had hoped for.

    Instead, Granger had demanded to know whether Harry had ‘put her up to this’ and, when Abigail had been stunned silent by the non-sequitur, had immediately launched on an extensive rant about how thoughtless the boy had been for forcing Abigail to dredge up such a painful memory just to push his argument, about how he shouldn’t be using Abigail like that, about how going to see her parents was important, and about how she had told him before that she was not going to budge on that.

    The completely unexpected response had left Abigail shocked and more than a little angry with the girl: on her own behalf for how she had trampled on some rather tender emotions, on Harry’s behalf for the baseless accusations when the boy had nothing but good intentions, and on the behalf of poor Alice whose memory deserved more consideration than had been shown. So in response, Abigail had made some choice remarks of her own. One thing had led to another, and the resulting argument had escalated until Granger stormed off in a huff, her previous irritation at Harry now mostly pointed at Abigail.

    She had hoped she could get the girl to see reason, but if anything, Harry had understated the case when he had termed her ‘really stubborn sometimes’. It seemed that when Hermione got an idea well and truly into her head, that idea would not be shifted come hell or high water.

    Abigail sighed.

    Irritating or not, she could only hope that tendency would not come back to bite the younger girl in the future. Those sorts of practical lessons were usually painful. For that matter, all too often in the wizarding world, they could be lethal, and sometimes… sometimes, they could be so very much worse.

    She shook her head with a sympathetic wince. Dwelling on what might happen would serve no one, not when the girl in question categorically refused to do anything about it herself or, for that matter, allow anything to be done about it by anyone else. For now…

    For now, Abigail had unpleasant news to take to the library, where Harry would be waiting to hear how things had gone.

    4.10.3 Operational flexibility

    It had all been going so well, Su Li lamented, then she had made one little miscalculation, and now she was scrambling to recover. It hardly seemed fair, but there really was nothing to be done but to get on with it.

    For that recovery, she needed information, and like most of her bookish housemates, the second year Ravenclaw had come to the library to gather it. Unlike her housemates, she knew full well that the information she sought did not reside on the shelves. The book she was thumbing through was nothing more than a convenient excuse, chosen for its location rather than its content. Its subject matter was the farthest thing from her mind.

    Instead, Su Li was listening intently to the goings-on on the other side of the bookshelf before her. There sat one of the library’s reading tables, the one that normally hosted her target’s study sessions. Although currently empty, if he stuck to his usual schedule, it should soon be occupied by both Potter and his friend, Abigail Abercrombie.

    Abercrombie.

    It had been not even two weeks since Su Li had received her orders from the Clan, and already her campaign had hit its first major snag in the form of the older girl. Abercrombie was still mostly an unknown, and Su Li needed more information in order to determine how best to handle her. After how badly she had botched their initial meeting, that meant Su Li was now reduced to covert reconnaissance.

    Again.

    She thought she had gotten past that stage! Su Li lamented internally. At least she’d gotten the information on her target, even if the cost had been far higher than she’d anticipated. Now she knew her target had not yet hit puberty; his lack of a physical reaction had made that abundantly clear. He had certainly looked — had been blatantly obvious about it, in fact — however, looking had been his only response to her flirting. Of course in hindsight, the fact that he had shown no fear of getting caught staring was itself a good indicator that he didn’t understand what she had to offer or why he found it so interesting.

    That meant he was still in that awkward in-between state right on the edge of puberty. Mature enough to say, “I like that!” but not enough to know why. “What to do with it” was right out.

    The situation was not entirely unexpected given his age, but it was entirely unwelcome.

    Had he already hit puberty, Su Li would have had a predictable set of levers with which to control his behavior, levers that she was ready and able to use effectively having both the proper equipment and training. Trying to use them in Potter’s current state, however, would only confuse the boy and make him uncomfortable, and while confusion and discomfort were themselves useful levers in the right circumstances, the petite girl was not well positioned to capitalize on them at present. For now, it would be best to wait for her target’s body to catch up to where she needed it to be.

    Of course, none of that would have mattered a whit if not for her blunder handling Abercrombie. Su Li sighed.

    Her initial panicked reaction had been almost precisely the worst approach to take when Abercrombie appeared unexpectedly. She’d made a desperate grab for a quick victory when there was none to be had, and turned Abercrombie into a very dangerous enemy indeed.

    Worse yet, it had been entirely unnecessary. Her snap assessment had been accurate in that there had been no way to spin her actions as anything less than what they so obviously were, but in hindsight, apologizing would have been by far the better way to go. She couldn’t have portrayed her actions as innocent, but she could have played them off as the overzealous blunderings of a thirteen-year-old girl. A bit of acting and a convincing apology would have defused the situation easily enough.

    Now it was much too late, and Abercrombie was overtly hostile and a dangerous threat. The older girl was a highly trusted advisor to her target. One carefully chosen word from Abercrombie in her target’s ear, even a bald-faced lie, could destroy Su Li’s chances at this point. She had to find some way to regain control of the situation, or failing that, she had to find some way to convince Abercrombie not to destroy her chances outright. Unfortunately, the gap between knowing what she had to do and doing it was wide. By all appearances, the seventh year would as soon curse Su Li as look at her, which made the prospect of mending fences a daunting one.

    Now establishing some form of detente with Abercrombie was her absolute top priority, and she had no idea how to begin!

    Su Li scowled, careful not to raise her eyes from the book in her hands. That was the reason she was camped out in the library, desperately scrabbling for some valuable bit of insight by eavesdropping on her new rival.

    She heard the library door open and she settled in to listen intently. Soon her efforts were rewarded, as the low voice of Abercrombie wafting over to her from the new arrivals. She listened intently as the older girl drew closer.

    “…talked with Hermione,” Abercrombie’s voice became clear enough to understand, though still muffled slightly by both distance and the intervening bookshelf.

    “Any luck?” her target asked, their voices grew steadily clearer.

    “No, she refused to budge,” Abercrombie replied with a breathy sigh. “I’m afraid you’re going to have to go ahead, Harry.”

    What was this? The eavesdropping girl cocked her head curiously.

    Her target sighed. “Right, I’ll tell her next time I get the chance. Thanks for trying, Abigail.”

    “You’re welcome, Harry,” Abercrombie responded, sounding a little melancholy.

    “Do you think I’m going to have any trouble getting her to agree to the servant contract?” her target asked.

    A servant contract!

    That was enough of a surprise that Su Li barely managed to stifle an audible gasp. What could have prompted Potter to take Granger on as a retainer at their age? She knew it couldn’t be the usual reason — verifying that was what had put her in this mess in the first place — but what could it be?

    Su Li’s mind raced through possible options until Abercrombie voiced another critical piece of information.

    “No, I don’t think you’ll have any trouble, Harry,” the older girl replied with a morose sort of chuckle, “not with a silver torc in the offing.”

    A silver torc… oh! Su Li’s thought, her dark eyes wide with realization. That put an entirely different spin on things.

    “Oh, that’s good, then,” her target breathed a relieved sigh. “I didn’t want to have another conversation like the one about our trip.”

    Though it did beg the question: why was Abercrombie so blasé about losing out to Granger when she had been so hostile to her? There had to be something she was missing.

    “Don’t forget our agreement though, Harry,” Abercrombie spoke again, in a firm voice.

    There was a sudden rustling, probably from her target nodding in his usual overly enthusiastic way if his next words were anything to judge.

    “Right!” Potter said quickly, his words practically tumbling over each other in his haste to reassure Abercrombie of his intentions. “You don’t have to worry, Abigail. I just want to keep Hermione safe while I’m away, you know?”

    That… that was a valid concern, Su Li mused, as a picture of their motivations slowly began to resolve itself in her mind. She had been briefed about the local situation before she left Hong Kong, and it would have been a concern for her as well, had the Clan not taken steps... perhaps that could be the opportunity she needed!

    Her eyes narrowed speculatively. Abercrombie was obviously concerned for the girl, so perhaps she could offer to broker a similar arrangement for Granger?

    “I know,” Abercrombie allowed, her voice barely noticed in the background, “I just wanted to make absolutely sure.”

    Su Li turned her attention back to her eavesdropping just in time to catch her target’s reply.

    “Okay,” he said with a relieved sigh, pausing for a moment before continuing with some heat. “You know I meant what I said, right Abigail? You asked me to promise to talk over any romantic-type stuff with you before making any permanent commitments, and I promised, and I’m gonna keep that promise! Period!”

    An agreement to… Su Li’s eyes opened wide. That was Abercrombie’s game! The older girl had decided to go the longer and more subtle route, rather than using her superior influence to poison Potter against her rival immediately.

    That was good!

    That was very good. Su Li breathed a heavy sigh of relief, immediately dismissing her fledgling plans to help Granger as unnecessary. She could work with that.

    “Sorry, Harry,” Abercrombie apologized quickly, “I know you keep your promises, and I didn’t mean to imply anything to the contrary. It’s just… well, a girl likes a bit of a reminder about that sort of thing sometimes, you know? A bit of reassurance of where she fits into things.”

    Though it still begged the question: why had Abercrombie stayed her hand? She had the overwhelming advantage; one quick word to Potter against Su Li was all it would have taken. Why had she held off?

    Even if Abercrombie didn’t have anything concrete to accuse her of, she could easily have made something up! Make it unverifiable, and that would be Abercrombie’s word against Su Li’s, and Abercrombie had more history with Potter. Su Li would never have allowed such an opportunity to pass her by.

    “Okay,” her target’s voice had picked up a slight hint of a very, very intimidating growl, “but I’m no liar, and don’t like being called one.”

    Or, she supposed with a nod, perhaps she might have. If that last was any indication of Potter’s opinion on liars, then the older girl reluctance to risk getting caught in a lie was understandable. Su Li would have to keep that in mind for herself as well.

    “I guess it’s kinda like how I like it when you call me your friend, then?” he continued in a more speculative tone. “Even though I already know it, it’s nice to hear it again, anyway. Is that it?”

    Curiosity satisfied, Su Li tuned out the conversation. She had enough information, and now she had to assemble the scattered ideas bouncing about her head into a coherent plan, and that would take some doing.

    Abercrombie had made a masterful move in extracting that promise from Potter. The boy apparently took his promises very seriously indeed, so there would be no way for Su Li to steal a march in the older girl’s absence. Potter would not allow it, and he was strong-willed enough to make that stick. By inserting herself into his decision-making process, Abercrombie had removed most of the disadvantage she should have faced due to her coming absence.

    “That’s not a bad analogy, Harry. And speaking of knowing how we fit into things, I suppose I ought to speak to your new friend sometime. Get to know her a little.”

    It put them on roughly even footing by Su Li’s reckoning. Abercrombie would be away, but she had the advantage of a longer history with her target, and she had that promise. Su Li would be onsite, but she was working from scratch, and any decisive move she made would have to go through her rival for approval.

    Deadlock.

    “You mean Su Li?” There was the sound of sniffling from the other side of the shelf. “Hmm.”

    She would either need to gain that approval directly or find some alternative approach. Either one was a difficult prospect, but she did have one major advantage over her rival. Su Li smiled tightly at the realization.

    Abercrombie was angling for a husband; her victory condition was strict, marriage or bust. Su Li had much more latitude.

    “Hi there!”

    Su Li jumped, squeaking in surprise at the sudden interruption. Her hand snapped up to her chest, and the book she had been holding dropped to the floor with a fluttering of parchment and a thump. Looked up towards the source of the sudden voice, she found the concerned green eyes of her target peering into her own from less than two feet away.

    “Are you okay, Su?”

    She nodded slowly as she tried to calm her racing heart.

    “Whatcha reading?” he bent down to pick up her dropped book. “Oh, this one! What were you looking for? I never really got much out of this one; it’s not very well-written.”

    “It was…” she trailed off, trying to recall any topic that the book she had been using as a prop had covered... or for that matter, even its title, and coming up empty. Worse yet, she couldn’t even read the title to make a guess with the angle Potter was holding the thing at. After a moment, she decided to ignore the question and hope for the best.

    “Um… what are you doing here, Harry?”

    A black eyebrow disappeared into the mass of shaggy hair atop her target’s head as he gave her a brief skeptical look before he shrugged.

    “I was just talking with Abigail over at our usual table. Hey, you want to come join us? Abigail was just saying she had something she wanted to talk with you about.”

    Su Li went silent for a long moment as she considered the rough, tentative plan she had been hammering out in her head before her target’s stealthy approach had startled her half to death.

    Could she pull it off now, with so little preparation?

    Did she have a choice in the matter?

    After a long moment of consideration, she made her decision.

    A bright smile spread across the petite girl’s face as she gamely replied, “Sure, I’ve got the time, Harry.”

    4.10.4 Conversational warfare

    Abigail had known something was off when, upon mentioning that she wanted to talk with Su Li, her younger friend had gotten an odd look on his face and sniffed at the air. As he had walked over to the nearby bookshelf, sniffed again, and nodded, she had begun to suspect just what it was. That suspicion had deepened when he had walked around the bookshelf and had been confirmed when she had heard his voice from the other side.

    “Hi there!” There was a choked squeak and a thump. “Are you okay, Su?”

    The little homewrecker was right there! Had she been…?

    “Whatcha reading?” Parchment rustled as pages turned. “Oh, this one! What were you looking for? I never really got much out of this one; it’s not very well-written.”

    …reading a book? Abigail cocked a disbelieving eyebrow at that. It was a library, true, but what were the odds that she would have settled down to read right there?

    “It was… Um, what are you doing here, Harry?”

    Nope, Abigail thought flatly. The treacherous little tart had definitely been eavesdropping…

    “I was just talking with Abigail over at our usual table.”

    …and Harry hadn’t picked up on it at all. Abigail let out a resigned sigh; what was she going to do with that boy?

    “Hey, you want to come join us? Abigail was just saying she had something she wanted to talk with you about.”

    Surely, she wouldn’t be so brazen as to go straight from being caught eavesdropping to…

    “Sure, I’ve got the time, Harry.”

    Apparently, she would. Abigail blinked. Well, she certainly didn’t lack for courage.

    Abigail hadn’t wanted to have this conversation in front of Harry, but that was mostly because she saw no need to clue him in on the fact that Su Li was also interested in him. Abigail had been forced to struggle through that hellishly awkward conversation, and she was not about to spare the interloper the pain and embarrassment of doing the same. Let her do her own work and have the full experience.

    Unfortunately, there was no avoiding it now, Abigail sighed, not with the invitation already issued. Though, if she was careful about how she worded things, perhaps she might manage anyway, she mused with a thoughtful frown. Harry could be pretty dense about some things.

    With that in mind, Abigail speared the younger girl with a gimlet stare as soon as she rounded the end of the bookshelves. Smiling a hard sort of not-really-a-smile, Abigail went on the offensive.

    “Miss Li! it’s good to meet you under better circumstances, you know, now that I’m not knackered after two weeks’ worth of NEWTs,” she greeted the younger girl in a bright tone that indicated it was anything but good to meet her. “I’m afraid your introduction at dinner couldn’t have come at a worse time, what with me exhausted and you appearing out of the blue like that to sit in my usual spot next to Harry.”

    “I understand where you are coming from on that, Miss Abercrombie,” the petite girl agreed with a grave nod. “Had I realized we shared such an important interest I would have arranged things differently.”

    “What would you have done differently, then Miss Li,” Abigail asked, one eyebrow raised skeptically, “waited until next term?”

    On the other side of the table, Harry’s brow furrowed in confusion as he mouthed, “Waited until next term?”

    “Perhaps,” Su Li admitted shamelessly. “Though knowing what I do now, I would probably have approached you beforehand.”

    “Knowing what you do now?” Abigail parroted, that skeptical eyebrow rising even higher over hard brown eyes. “What did you hear that makes you think I would be receptive to such an approach?”

    The Ravenclaw briefly flashed that same subtle, infuriatingly smug smile that had so angered Abigail during their first meeting, before it fell off her face as she turned to address Harry directly.

    “Harry,” she began, prompting the youngest Potter to abandon his fruitless attempts to make sense of his friends’ conversation in favor of listening intently. “When I was reading, I couldn’t help but overhear your mention of a promise made to Miss Abercrombie… something about discussing romantic options.”

    “Yeah, that’s right,” the young dragon acknowledged with a nod.

    Abigail’s eyes narrowed as she struggled to make out where the younger girl was going with this.

    “Well, to make that conversation easier, you might want to do a bit of research into the topic beforehand,” she suggested brightly, “just so you know the basics.”

    “Um, Su, Madam Pomfrey said I should probably wait on looking into that stuff until I’m older,” Harry objected... sensibly, in Abigail’s opinion. “She said I didn’t need it yet anyway, and it’d just be confusing if I did it too early.”

    “Of course, of course!” the petite girl waved off his objection. “I didn’t mean to imply that you should be looking into the mechanics of the acts themselves; you don’t need those right now. I was talking about generalities, different organizational structures and how they work on the public side of things. After all, you don’t need to know all the squishy details of what a man and a woman get up to in private in order to know the whether the woman is his wife, his concubine, or his mistress.”

    Concubine? Mistress? Abigail’s eyes widened in shock. Why the bloody hell would Li bring up that option? Abigail might have considered it, true, but only as a hedge against total defeat! Even then, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to stomach such an arrangement. Gracefully accepting the defeat and moving on might just be the better option.

    What was going through that girl’s head that she would trot out polygamy as an opening salvo?

    “I guess that makes sense,” Harry hummed as he considered that. “I do want to be able to discuss that stuff proper if I have to. Where do you think I should start looking?”

    “You might start with the definitions of those three terms: wife, concubine, and mistress. They mostly have to do with how the resulting children are considered for inheritance,” Su Li smiled like the cat who had gotten the canary. “You’ll also want to look into how things work in situations with one man and many women. Fair warning, Harry, that can get pretty complicated, but it’s something I’m pretty sure you’ll need to know, so it’s for the best that you get started early.”

    …I’m pretty sure you’ll need to know…

    Abigail’s eyes narrowed at the implication the younger girl had presented as a foregone conclusion.

    That conniving little bitch!

    “There is much more to those terms than just inheritance, Harry,” Abigail interjected urgently while shooting a sharp glare at the smaller girl who met it calmly, her smug smile unchanged. “There are some profound social repercussions to them as well, far beyond the disposition of children.”

    “Really?” Harry asked, his green eyes alight with curiosity.

    “Of course there are, Harry,” Su Li confirmed serenely, recapturing his attention. “That’s why you need to learn about it ahead of time, so you don’t make any serious mistakes.”

    “What does Harry need to learn about ahead of time?” a new voice entered the conversation as Hermione arrived at the library table. “Maybe I can help research it?”

    “The definitions of ‘wife’, ‘concubine’, and ‘mistress’,” Harry absently told his bushy-haired damsel. “And I’m supposed to look up how that stuff works with one man and many women.”

    There was an oddly strangled-sounding squeak, and then silence.

    After the silence stretched for a few seconds, Harry turned to his human damsel only to find her staring at him while blushing beet red.

    “Hermione?” his voice rose in concern. “Are you okay?”

    “Why?” she managed to squeak out.

    “Why am I asking if you’re okay?” he asked, cocking his head curiously. “Well, it’s ‘cause you’re all red and stuff, and I was worried that…”

    “No!” the bushy-haired girl burst out, finally finding her voice. “I meant, why are you looking up those things? What led to that as a necessary research topic?”

    “Harry, perhaps you could take Hermione aside to explain the situation to her?” Abigail suggested before Harry could answer. “I believe you have something to tell her, and I need to have a private conversation with Miss Li here.”

    Harry’s eyes narrowed in momentary confusion, then his expression cleared as he caught the reference.

    “Okay, Abigail!”

    And with that, he grabbed the bushy-haired girl by the hand and dragged her off into the stacks, leaving Abigail and Su Li behind.

    “What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing, Li?” Abigail hissed as soon as Harry was out of earshot, half-standing over the table to loom menacingly over the much smaller girl. “First you pull that possessive girlfriend act at dinner, and now you’re putting ideas of polygamy in Harry’s head? What the hell is your angle?”

    “I freely admit my actions at dinner were ill-considered,” the second-year girl said calmly as she leaned back slightly in her chair. “I had not realized that you were interested in Potter as more than a friend, and I regret to say that I panicked. Had I been thinking clearly, I would have done things differently.”

    “You also freely admitted that your first choice would have been to leave me in the dark until you could steal Harry away after I graduated,” Abigail snarled. “That is hardly a Merlin-be-damned apology!”

    “I fail to see how what I might have done is in any way relevant now,” Su Li continued airily, brushing off her senior’s irritation as inconsequential. “You’ve already found out, so that option is no longer on the table in any case.”

    “And what is on the table, then?” Abigail demanded. “There’s no way on this earth or any other that I’m going to step aside for the likes of you, and don’t think I’m going to be all eager to share either, not after what you tried to pull!”

    “I wouldn’t expect you to step aside, Abercrombie,” the petite girl acknowledged with a polite nod. “Had I expected such a thing, I’d not have raised the possibility in the first place. There would have been no need. Nonetheless, I hope to persuade you not to bear a grudge going forward as I work to make up for my early lapse in judgement.”

    “That’s a hell of a thing to make up for, Li,” Abigail growled.

    “It is, and therefore I will offer you a hell of an incentive,” she echoed Abigail’s delivery. “Rather than threaten your ambitions, I instead offer to aid you in them.”

    “What sort of ‘aid’ can you offer?” Abigail demanded suspiciously. “And for that matter, why would you offer it?”

    “I can be of assistance for the same reason that I can be a threat,” Su Li explained, her dark eyes meeting and holding Abigail’s own. “Starting next year and stretching until his graduation, you will be mostly absent from Potter’s life, while I will be mostly present. I propose to serve as your advocate in your absence, protecting your claim in your stead and keeping you abreast of new happenings which would benefit from your personal attention.”

    “An advocate, huh?” Abigail sat back down in her chair as she considered the idea, her suspicious glare never wavering.

    It was an attractive idea, or rather it would have been an attractive idea if she could have trusted the girl seated across from her... which she could not. Even so, such an agreement still might be better than nothing. The little weasel would have to be at least a little circumspect to maintain the appearance of compliance, if nothing else. That would be more of a guarantee than Abigail had now. Though one critical question remained.

    “And what would you stand to gain out of this?” Abigail demanded warily.

    Before she agreed to anything, Abigail needed to find out precisely what she might be putting on the table to buy a service of such dubious value.

    “Just one simple thing,” Su Li said, “a minor concession on your part.”

    “What would that be, Miss Li? Reciprocation?” Abigail raised a skeptical brow as she sat back in her chair and crossed her arms. “If you want me to sing your praises to Harry, I’ll warn you right now, that is not going to happen. I’ve never lied to Harry before, and I’m not about to start now, especially not for the likes of you.”

    “I need no assistance on that front, thank you very much,” Su Li protested, folding her hands primly in her lap and straightening to her full, unimpressive height. “After all, I will not be away from him for months on end, which leaves me with all the time in the world to press my suit. Rather, I simply ask that you not object too strenuously to my pursuit of Potter.”

    “And what objections would be considered ‘too strenuous’?”

    “Make no demands that would necessarily exclude my inclusion, lay down no exclusive ultimatums, and I will be content.” The younger girl met her eyes with a pleading look. “All I wish is for a fair chance to win my own place in his heart, Miss Abercrombie.”

    Abigail held that gaze for a long moment, considering the offer carefully. It left a great deal to be desired, but then any realistic deal inevitably would. If Abigail had her druthers, the ever-so-smug little homewrecker would already be en route back to whatever dark corner she had crawled out of, shipped off never to be seen or heard from again.

    Preferably in a box.

    Angry fantasies aside, murder was a bit much for the situation, no matter how irritating, and aside from having to put up with the little tart and that damned smirk of hers, the proposed deal cost her little enough on balance. Li had asked for nothing that Abigail wouldn’t have already given.

    In the end, the restrictions were a nonissue. No matter how much she might have wanted to, Abigail could never have made those sorts of demands stick in any event, not with Harry. Not only that, but even trying would have been counterproductive, one of the quickest ways she could imagine to alienate him completely. Her dragon was not the sort to take that manner of high-handedness well.

    Abigail still didn’t trust the younger girl any further than she could throw Hogwarts Castle, but neither would she be around to counter any of said girl’s efforts against her. In that case, having Su Li as a nominal advocate was probably better than having her as an open detractor.

    Probably.

    Eventually, Abigail came to a grudging decision.

    She looked away and let out an explosive sigh, raising a hand to massage her temples.

    “Bloody hell, Li! Couldn’t you have led off with that rather than trying to go behind my back?” she groused. “It would have saved us both a whole lot of aggravation!”

    “I shall be certain to keep that in mind going forward, Miss Abercrombie,” she acknowledged with a diffident nod.

    “You do that, Li. Look, I’ll agree to your deal. No boxing me out, and I won’t box you out. You’ll get your fair chance to woo Harry, and as far as I’m concerned, he’ll be the final arbiter,” she said before flicking her wand to check the time. “For now, I’ve got an appointment in Hogsmeade, so I’m going to go check up on Harry, say goodbye, and then skip out. I’ll see you at dinner... and no hogging Harry this time or we are going to have problems, you and I!”

    “Of course.”

    As Abigail walked away from the table, she felt Su Li’s too calm eyes on her back. The feeling lasted until she turned the corner looking for Harry. Her concerns had been addressed, but an odd doubt niggled at the back of her mind, nonetheless.

    Had she missed something?

    Looking back on the conversation, she couldn’t quite place what it might have be, but Abigail couldn’t quite shake the feeling that she had just made a deal with the devil.

    4.10.5 Deceptive truths

    Su Li watched the older girl go, her neutral expression twisting itself into a triumphant smirk as Abercrombie disappeared around the corner.

    She was back in business!

    That conversation had gone so much better than she had dared hope, and the best part was that, despite what Abercrombie no doubt suspected, nothing Su Li had said had been an outright lie… well, aside from that claptrap about wanting only a fair chance. The chance that Su Li wanted was anything but fair, but that hardly counted as a lie any more than Abercrombie’s patently insincere ‘it’s good to meet you’ had counted as one.

    She had not lied about her willingness to share her target; Su Li truly had no qualms about the possibility. His first wife or his second, his cherished mistress or his knee-pad-wearing ‘personal secretary’, as long as she spent as much time bent over Potter’s desk as she did kneeling under it, it was all the same for her purposes.

    Neither had she lied about her terms. So long as Abercrombie refrained from ‘boxing her out’, Su Li would be more than content to honor their agreement... to the letter. She would do it all, even down to the task of serving as Abercrombie’s advocate in her absence, despite what the older girl no doubt expected. No, Su Li was going to play her agreed-upon role to the hilt... not that Abercrombie would thank her for it in the end.

    Potter was young and naïve, but soon enough, he would be young, naïve and pubescent, with all the sexually charged poor judgement that the term implied. Su Li had plans for that, all she needed was time and proximity, and that deal gave her both.

    At present, she was in a bad position. Abercrombie could destroy her chances with little more than a carefully chosen word. Given a few years to work, though, Su Li would be on much more even footing with her, and if she played her cards right, she could engineer a situation where Abercrombie would have no choice but to go along with sharing Potter. She already had a plan in mind, and her chief rival had just agreed to keep her mouth shut until it would be far too late for it to make a difference.

    In the end, whether the older girl gave in and agreed to share, decided to go down swinging and alienated Potter in the process, or backed down completely and quit the field, Su Li would still win.

    When she had come to the library, Su Li had been desperate, hovering a few choice words away from abject failure. Now her fortunes had completely reversed. Her greatest obstacle was neutralized, and the plan was back on track. The reversal was such a profound shift that the petite girl couldn’t stifle a soft but ever so slightly mad giggle as the heady mixture of relief and triumph bubbled up from within.

    She was still giddy five minutes later when her target returned.

    4.10.6 Proposals and demands

    “Harry, what is this all about?” Hermione demanded as the pair came to a stop at another library table, much deeper into the stacks than their usual one. “Why on earth were you talking about that?”

    “Um, well, I guess if I want it to make sense, I’ll have to start at the beginning,” her sometimes dragon-shaped friend said, scratching uncomfortably at the back of his neck.

    “That sounds like a good idea,” she agreed, taking the opportunity to sit down in one of the chairs.

    Harry leaned against the table and began, “Well, it all started back when we talked about the trip to the Confederacy, and you insisted you weren’t going to go.”

    “Back when you got really angry and stormed off?”

    “I wasn’t really angry, you know,” Harry objected. “I was just worried about you.”

    “You could have fooled me,” she muttered, before continuing in a more normal, yet still library-appropriate, voice. “As I recall, you mentioned that you knew of something we could do, but you needed to check on things. Did you check on things, then?”

    “Yeah, I did,” he nodded. “I looked around a lot, trying to find an alternative, but in the end, I couldn’t find one that would work. I even talked it over with Abigail, and she couldn’t find a way around it, either.”

    “Speaking of Abigail, did you put her up to trying to talk me out of staying with my parents, Harry?” she asked her friend with suspiciously narrowed eyes. “Because I don’t appreciate you using her like that!”

    “For your information, she volunteered because she thought you were being just as silly as I did!” Harry scowled, offended by the implication. “Abigail told me that she didn’t have any luck getting you to see sense either; that’s why we’re having this conversation now.”

    “Spending time with my parents is not silly, Harry,” Hermione huffed.

    “It is when you insist on doing it somewhere so dangerous!” her friend insisted. “It’s important for me to spend time with you, too, but you don’t see me insisting on doing it downrange at the shooting gallery!”

    Crawley is not dangerous!” Hermione rose and slapped her hands on the table, only just managing to keep quiet enough not to attract the ire of Madam Pince. “We live in a very nice neighborhood, and we’re not going to get attacked walking down the bloody street!”

    It is for you, Hermione!” Harry snapped. “I’m not worried about the people in Crawley; I’m worried about the wizards what know you live there! If you’d just let us bring your parents along for the trip, then…”

    “No, Harry,” Hermione ground out. “I told you before, I told Abigail, and now I’m telling you again for the last time: I am going home for the summer, and that’s final!”

    Harry held her eyes for one long moment, his green gaze looking harder than she had ever seen it, before nodding once in acknowledgement. “Okay, Hermione, I’ll agree to that, on one condition.”

    “What condition?” she asked, more than a little intimidated by that gaze.

    “If you’d told me about this back at Christmas, we could have gotten some wards put on your parents’ house to keep you safe enough,” he began, “but since you didn’t, there’s not enough time left for that, so there’s only one real option I could find to keep you safe, and Abigail agreed, too.”

    “And what is that?” she repeated.

    “We’re going to get you formally registered as my retainer,” he explained. “I didn’t want to rush into this, and Abigail really ain’t happy about it either, but I’m not willing to leave you on your own without at least that much to protect you. It ain’t the best, but if I can’t be there to protect you, personally, then at least this’ll let people know what they’re signing up for if they go after you.”

    “Formally registered?” she asked. Her brow furrowed as she tried to recall what that meant. “Didn’t you say that meant something bad for my reputation?”

    “Without a torc, yeah.” Harry hurried to clarify, “I’ll make you one of those as soon as I get back from the trip — I don’t think I have enough time to do a proper job of it before then — but we gotta get you registered before I leave, so it can be official and I can be a public deterrent as the Head of House Potter.”

    Hermione’s jaw dropped as the implication hit. Harry had offered her a torc!

    Shortly after Harry had carried her off, Professor McGonagall had taken her aside and explained a little about wizarding culture — at least the bits that might be immediately relevant for a barely-teenaged girl who had just been carried off by a similarly aged boy — and the concept of the marking torc had featured prominently in that discussion.

    Interestingly enough, Professor Snape had pulled her aside for much the same reason, though in his case, he had simply gifted her with a book on wizarding heraldry and told her that she should read it cover to cover so that she might avoid “any more dunderheaded blundering than that which was absolutely unavoidable due to her unfortunately adolescent condition.”

    In any case, she knew what a torc meant… or at least she thought she knew. The exact meaning would depend on…

    “Harry, what were you planning to make that torc out of?” she asked, seeking to clarify.

    “Silver,” he answered immediately.

    The bushy-haired girl, who still considered herself to be rather homely, froze. That meant…

    “Harry,” she squeaked, “did you just propose to me?”

    “Um,” his he sat back slightly, and his hand awkwardly reaching up to scratch the back of his neck, “technically, I guess?”

    Hermione froze in shock, her mind racing, and her thoughts running the gamut of reactions. It was so sudden! They were both way too young! Did that mean he thought she was pretty? He had to, at least a little bit, right? She never thought anyone would think of her like that! How could he propose to her when she knew perfectly well that Abigail was interested in him, too? Even she had noticed that, so there was no way Harry could have missed it!

    There was even a traitorous little undercurrent of “Take that, Abigail!” that Hermione ruthlessly tried to stamp out as unacceptably meanspirited even for her internal dialogue... no matter how unfair Abigail’s appearance had been that one time when they were working out.

    As his bushy-haired damsel’s outwardly blank expression and prolonged silence stretched on to uncomfortable lengths, Harry rushed to qualify his statement, rather spectacularly misinterpreting her silence as disapproval.

    “Um, it’s more of a promise ring kind of thing, rather than an engagement, really,” he babbled, attempting to justify himself. “I mean, you can get out of it if you want to, ‘cause we can switch to a different torc without people talking too much when we get older, like after you get out of school, but for now we need to use a silver one or people will get the wrong idea… um…” he trailed off, his previously panicked demeanor coming full circle back to concern. Hermione still had not moved a muscle. “Um, Hermione, are you okay?”

    “Ah… yes, I’m okay, Harry,” she replied, snapping out of her shock as she processed his explanation.

    So, the silver torc was just for appearances; that made a lot more sense than Harry proposing out of the blue.

    She could deal with that.

    Hermione sighed. It was a bit unusual — and she would have to figure out exactly what appearances they were trying to maintain — but she trusted Harry, Abigail too, since he said she had signed off on it. If they thought this was important, then she could go along with it, especially if it made Harry shut up about her going home for the summer.

    “Okay, Harry,” she said aloud, “we can do it that way… if you want.”

    Now, if only she could stamp out that niggling thread of disappointment.

    4.10.7 Final preparations

    “Hold it there, Mr. Potter,” the goblin foreman called, his strident voice echoing through the freshly excavated artificial cavern which was destined to become Harry’s new metalworking annex. Turning to his crew, he bellowed, “Get those blocks in place, you lot! We’ve got plenty more to move before we’re done, and not much time left to do it in!”

    A little over a week had passed since his conversation with Hermione, and Harry had been quite busy with a variety of tasks in the intervening time, one of which he was just finishing up now. Currently in his native form, the young dragon easily held the freshly re-crated main body of his massive CNC lathe steady a few inches above the floor as the goblin crew swarmed about, stacking blocking underneath it both to compensate for the unevenness of the rough-hewn stone surface and to allow clearance for a forklift to help move the thing in the future. The next time it moved, they would not have a convenient dragon to do the heavy lifting.

    They had finished the main excavation of the facility just a few hours earlier, just in time for Harry’s upcoming trip. The goblins would be responsible for finishing the interior and mechanicals in his absence, but there were still a few tasks for the young dragon to handle personally, such as this last-minute heavy lifting. To that end, the young dragon worked diligently with the team to move all the heavy equipment down from the Lair so it could be installed in its new home while he was away. They were currently in the process of moving the CNC. Later would come the rest of the manual equipment, the crates of documentation, and then the twenty identical diesel generators, each large enough to rate its own flat wagon, which had been knocking about the railyards waiting to be unloaded and were now sitting just outside on the Hogsmeade spur line.

    Foundry work was quite the power-hungry endeavor, and as long as they were installing generators anyway, he’d wanted to cover his bases.

    It was a lot to get done, but Harry was game for the challenge. He just hoped he could get it done in time for the end of term feast tonight. It was Abigail’s last one, and he’d hate to miss it.

    At least he was sure to be sleeping well that night, and he was certain to be glad of that in the morning. Between saying his goodbye’s and his first plane ride, tomorrow promised to be a very long and eventful day.

    4.10.8 Bothersome logistics

    Four hundred miles to the southeast in a small room which had once been part of a barn before the owner had repurposed it as a storage facility, Severus Snape engaged in his final preparations for the coming trip across the pond. He had paid for the room to serve as a staging area, and it was chock full of boxes, bags, and various pieces of arcane-looking equipment.

    Ignoring the piercing shriek of jet engines that ripped through the afternoon calm every few minutes, the potions master walked up and down the rows of equipment and supplies, making notes and ticking off lists on a yellow legal pad that he carried with him as he checked and double-checked that they had everything they would need. The end of term feast would take place later in the evening, and the next morning would see the students depart from Hogwarts on the Express. The expedition would be departing that same afternoon, and that would be their final call for supplies. Reliable resupply would be exceedingly difficult if they forgot anything important.

    As he came to the end of the row one final time, the dark man reviewed his checklist, finding nothing missing.

    Good.

    He had arranged to charter an aircraft suitable for their group and its equipment which was no small task given the numbers involved and the composition of the group. Between the required range and the inclusion of Miss Suze on the passenger list, he had been forced to go with a rather sizeable craft. Fortunately, the goblins had been able to arrange a flight crew that was in-the-know. Severus had also arranged for a rental van, which he would use to carry the bulk of their equipment from this staging area to the tarmac. All that remained was to assemble the personnel.

    Unfortunately, that last had proven to be more than a bit difficult.

    Snape had hoped to get everyone moving as early in the day as possible, not for scheduling concerns precisely — at the rates he was paying the flight crew would be delighted to take off at any hour, day or night — but rather because the dragon in the group absolutely had to stay awake until they touched down in the New World.

    The blasted beast still had yet to learn to maintain a transfiguration in his sleep, and while that was normally a minor inconvenience, in this situation it would prove beyond deadly. If he dozed off in mid-flight, no one aboard would live to regret it. It was one of the primary reasons Severus had refused to even consider flying commercial. The wretched reptile absolutely had to stay awake for the entire nine-hour flight, and adding another two hours of boring wait in the airport terminal was asking for trouble.

    Severus had explained that risk to the blasted beast, laying everything out logically, and he had thought he had gotten his point across, only for the last Potter, in a fit of childish obstinacy, to refuse to cooperate at the last minute.

    Instead of taking the arranged portkey as soon as the Express departed from the station, the dratted dragon had insisted that he needed to ride the train down to King’s Cross in order to see his friends off properly. Then, he had decreed, he and Granger would go on to the Ministry to handle his final preparations for Miss Granger’s safety. Only after that, Potter had insisted, would he make his way to the airport.

    Snape readily acknowledged the necessity of seeing to the girl’s safety via the servant registration Potter had arranged, even to the point of agreeing to go along to assist them with the whole ordeal. It was about time, in his opinion; he had come close to saying as much to the girl’s father over a year previous; however the insistence on taking the train to do so rather than a portkey was simply incomprehensible.

    Miss Granger would be going on to the Ministry with the boy anyway, and Miss Abercrombie was due to take the floo right back to Hogsmeade! What possible purpose could there be in wasting half a day on the Express rather than saying his goodbyes at the castle gate and taking a portkey? Worse yet was the blasted beast’s stubborn insistence on accepting Granger’s offer to accompany him to the airport to see him off... again via the train.

    Taken together, it would have them taking off on their transatlantic flight in the early evening, after the boy had been awake and traveling all day, which would have them landing on the shores of Lake Erie sometime around midnight, local time, or well after dawn, by their group’s reckoning. It would be nearly a full day and night’s worth of traveling for the blasted beast, twenty-four hours, during the latter half of which they would all be a bit of a kip away from dying horribly.

    Of course, the wretched lizard would pick this of all times to remind them all that he was in fact still his father’s son! It could not have been when such a revelation would have been merely irritating; no, it had to be the time when his mulish folly might well send them all plummeting into the frigid waters of the north Atlantic.

    The boy had better stay awake.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2020
  7. Emperor Lee

    Emperor Lee Join the Empire! We have Lewds.

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2017
    Messages:
    5,592
    Likes Received:
    19,836
    Well, there it is. Hermione has a death grip on the idiot-ball so tight its spiraled into too stupid to live territory. May we point and laugh at whatever well deserved suffering she has earned herself through her pure, unmitigated, stupidity now?"
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
  8. Shance

    Shance Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2018
    Messages:
    255
    Likes Received:
    1,139
    Gods, this is grimdark. Were Harry not basically OP to the extreme I would prefer to run away from this.

    This world is absolutely fucked.

    Also, Hermione simply has no examples of what actually can happen, being brainwashed to be a doll, a thing, a sex slave, a breeder an experimentl subject, parts for an experiment.

    Well, this kind of thing should be told to her, get the fear of everything into her. Can't help but want something, not alot, but something to happen to her.
     
  9. Emperor Lee

    Emperor Lee Join the Empire! We have Lewds.

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2017
    Messages:
    5,592
    Likes Received:
    19,836
    No you see, this is where our opinions differ, I want something truly awful to happen right now. I am completely and utterly disgusted by Hermione at this time, so long as her parents aren't caught in the crossfire I hope something horrible happens.

    You don't listen to someone pour their heart out about their friend being kidnapped by slavers and go 'this is fine' you stupid cunt!

    This level of sheer, mental incompetence is worthy of a fucking Darwin Award.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
  10. SoCar37

    SoCar37 Getting out there.

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2020
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    20

    But not too terribly OOC for Hermione Granger. Most of canon has her seem to be fairly single minded & stubborn on a great many things. Mayhap something like the Dogbertcarroll work "the Scourge of the North" would change her mind.
     
  11. Luciel Ars

    Luciel Ars Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
    May 26, 2019
    Messages:
    328
    Likes Received:
    2,760
    This started as a reasonable world building and has now made massive headway into stupid slice of life.
    It feels as if the author is trying to milk the idea for what it's worth for and I can't help but feel as if the arc conclusion is going to be a massive disappointment in respect to the hype that's being built around it.
    So I would like to request to get on with the plot.

    Edit: I really feel that this arc with Hermione and the north American node has been streched too much.
     
  12. SystemSearcher

    SystemSearcher "I fought the door and the door won"

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2017
    Messages:
    149
    Likes Received:
    600
    Eh, I think that the issue is just that there was a relatively long pause sometime in the middle of the ark. Otherwise, I think it's about as long as every other one.
     
    Acolyte, azqs, Skjadir and 1 other person like this.
  13. TheGrog

    TheGrog In the number mines

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2018
    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    906
    She just flat out doesn't believe that something like that could happen to her. It's a common mindset among those that have never actually been in danger, which is most of the West's civilian population at this point.

    It can't actually be that common, or else there wouldn't be any muggleborn at school at all (either by abduction or Dumbledore warning them off), but a child or two going missing in each Hogwarts year group would still make it the greatest threat to her life on a statistical basis.
     
  14. Rampaging crabs

    Rampaging crabs Getting sticky.

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    88
    I can easily imagine Su Li twirling a mustache every time we get one of her POV. Although I’m torn I kinda of want her to succeed but for the organization she works for to be destroyed.
     
  15. Syphi

    Syphi Know what you're doing yet?

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2016
    Messages:
    104
    Likes Received:
    758
    Funny thing about that, she still doesn't know that Harry is a dragon instead of a mortal wizard. I forsee things eventually going explosively within a few years.
     
  16. Rampaging crabs

    Rampaging crabs Getting sticky.

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    88
    I can imagine it being like she found the holy grail. It will only mean she works even harder. I’m looking forward to when that happens.
     
  17. Diver

    Diver Versed in the lewd.

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2018
    Messages:
    1,824
    Likes Received:
    19,146
    Yes, Hermione is being an uncaring, pigheaded fucking moron, but she agreed to take the torc as protection and understands that it’s for protection and not a proper proposal. Of course, this just means that when something happens to her, Harry is going to tear a swath through Britain’s magical underworld and no one can officially punish him for it. He’d have done it anyway, but now it’s legally okay-ish. Looking forward to seeing what happens to someone hit full on by even his Expeliarmus Laser Pillar when he’s actually miffed much less proper mad. Also, the more Su Li talks, the more I want her, her entire “family”, their business associates, and possibly magical China to be accidentallyed off the face of the map. I never thought I’d want a twelve year old dead as badly as I did Geoffrey Lannister, but she’s climbing the fucking list.
     
    Grimrr, loatroll, Shance and 4 others like this.
  18. Lordamnesia

    Lordamnesia Getting sticky.

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2015
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    569
    Yes, but here's the rub: Harry won't let anything happen to his offspring. The 'Family' that Su Li comes from is expecting the green eyes to breed true (quite possible to happen, it did from Lily to Harry), so that it would raise the value of the next generation. The problem is, Dragon. Dragon not going to let his offspring / descendants get sold. Suddenly, you have the next version of Vlad rampaging around.
     
  19. pjung

    pjung Getting sticky.

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2017
    Messages:
    59
    Likes Received:
    242
    yeah selling the children of a powerful wizard from the other side of the world is one thing
    selling the children of a Great Dragon is an entirely different matter. Especially in the current era when there only seems to be one being around that is Harry's peer, and Vlad is not going to defend slavers
     
  20. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2018
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    10,306
    There's a reason that way back when Snape told Hermione's father about the state of things that he strongly advised against seeking sanctuary elsewhere in the world. As bad as magical Britain is, the rest of the magical world is just as bad if not worse; though Su Li's family is a pretty ugly part of it.

    All this sort of grew out of trying to meld the two settings together, and the Shadowrun world is a nasty one if you look past the glare from all the neon. How you see the setting is all about which bits you pay attention to --- focus on the pink mohawks and motorcycles and you get one impression; focus on the everyday mechanics of the world behind them and you get an altogether different one.

    Most of the horrible setting pieces that have been mentioned so far are either lifted directly or slightly adapted from canon elements of Shadowrun. The Frank and Betty situation is a variant of the yakuza-style bunraku, just enforced with magic rather than cybernetic implants. The functionally enslaved workforce is common enough to have its own set of slang terms, though means of enforcement differ. Human experimentation, eugenics, and generally treating people like livestock? Su Li's clan is penny-ante compared to the likes of Tamanous, and they are far from alone. Concentration camps, attempted genocide, terrorism... it's all in there.

    That said, Su Li is a pain in the ass to write. At first, I had considered simply hinting at her motivations and leaving the reader in suspense as to why she was acting as she was, then I reconsidered and wrote the matriarch's scene. Now I'm never sure how much detail to give and how much to leave unsaid. I want her motivations to be understandable, which I felt needed some explanation, but I fully admit there has been a bit too much mustache-twirling going on with her. I'm beginning to think my first instinct was the better option.

    Like I said, pain in the ass.

    The way I'm characterizing this Hermione is as a smart girl who has been told that she is smart so many times that she's internalized it. That is, she's smart, and unfortunately, she knows she's smart. That means she tends to trust her own reasoning and judgment more than she really should, and as a result she will stubbornly cling to an idea long past when she should have given it up and reconsidered.

    That said, she is actually a smart kid, so most of the time it's not a problem --- it's hardly ever a problem to stubbornly cling to the truth, after all --- but every once in a while she gets something wrong, and then that stubbornness comes back to bite her.

    And as for why she refuses to listen to Abigail or the voice of reason, well, TheGrog put it well:
    She understands the idea intellectually, but she can't wrap her head around the idea that it could happen to her. It's a those-people-should-stop-doing-that thing to her, not a holy-shit-that-might-be-me one, and that disconnect colors her interpretation of everything else.

    Since she can't possibly actually be in danger, it follows that Harry must have another reason for his insistence. At first, Hermione figures he's just overreacting, but when he doesn't accede to her reasoning on that front, she concludes that it has to be something else --- after all, her reasoning couldn't be wrong, because she's smart, and Harry should have realized that, because he's smart. Thus, it's probably because he wants her to be with him on the trip, and he's using the danger argument as an excuse to get her to go. That, to Hermione's mind, is a childish reason that he should just learn to deal with, so when Abigail relates an obviously heartfelt and difficult story in support of Harry's argument, to Hermione's mind, Harry must have put her up to it. Rather than reassess her original argument, Hermione fits this new information into her picture of the situation and decides that Harry is in the wrong for making Abigail tell such an obviously painful story to support his childish argument and gets angry on Abigail's behalf. Abigail gets understandably irritated at being dismissed and tells her off for being a pigheaded twit. Hermione reacts poorly to that, and so on...

    Hermione makes one little wrong assumption and holds onto it like a pit-bull worrying a bone as that misunderstanding snowballs into a major problem for her and those around her. This actually isn't the first such error she's made, but it is the first one to come home to roost.

    It's Hermione's central flaw as I'm writing her.

    I tend to agree that the recent pacing has been shot all to hell, though it's less 'milking it' and more 'I want this to stop, but I don't know how to do it smoothly'. The pacing has been all over the place, and I've been at a loss for how to correct it without a major rewrite that I simply don't have the time or patience for at the moment, so instead I've been trying to push on through to get the plot where I need it for the next action heavy bit that's coming up.

    In hindsight, I think the Lockhart plot thread ran away with things. I'd originally intended him to be essentially a nonentity --- present motives, investigation, then disappears into the night after he gets scared off --- but it got away from me after I introduced Frank, and then I had to see it through.

    If I have the energy at some point, I probably ought to go back and rework things: break Lockhart's little misadventure out as a sidestory and rework some of the plot hooks so that they're introduced in passing and left to be fleshed out in more detail later --- flashbacks or references or something --- when they become more relevant to the rest of the story.

    That said, the relationship stuff that's going down now is centrally important to Harry's character development and the conflict I intend to drive it, and Abigail's graduation pins down the timing such that I have to address it at this point in the narrative.

    After all, as far as the wizarding world goes, Harry is a nigh-unstoppable monster, and character-developing conflict for him almost has to come in the form of things he can't solve by steamrolling them, and interpersonal relationships are most assuredly in that category. Annihilating Su Li's clan if they try something is easy, dealing with finding out that his trusted friend was actually planning to use him all along? Well, that's a bit more problematic, now isn't it?

    One more section, serving as transition and introducing one more plot hook, and then on to Chapter 5 and a much more straightforward section of the plot.
     
  21. EternitynChaos

    EternitynChaos Once there was a Maiden...

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2014
    Messages:
    26,712
    Likes Received:
    72,759
    Hermione is basically the classic High Int, Low Wisdom character, with all it's perks and flaws
     
  22. Sonic Dash

    Sonic Dash Making the rounds.

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    247
    Yeah... she definitely min maxed, with wis as her dump stat... well either wis or char, sometimes it's hard to tell.

    I've yet to find a HP story that wouldn't be better with less Granger in it, god she's annoying. I've always found it hilarious that most agreed with me right up until Watson hit puberty.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
  23. EternitynChaos

    EternitynChaos Once there was a Maiden...

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2014
    Messages:
    26,712
    Likes Received:
    72,759
    definitely Wis, force of personality isn't something she's lacking she's just not got the experience or the common sense to not open her mouth when she shouldn't

    of the original trio I'd personally say Harry was the one who dumped Charisma, though more from debuffs that clear over time then actual bad stats, while Rons dumped Int or Charisma depending on the time of day and if he's been feed and watered /laugh
     
  24. Mr. Cloak

    Mr. Cloak Possibly Outerwear, advocate for Blank rights.

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2018
    Messages:
    369
    Likes Received:
    2,511
    Eh- I like it. Besides the lack of good dragon-protagonist stories, the characters feel like they react in the same way people do, rather than NPC's.
     
  25. l---erddad---l

    l---erddad---l Wait, google can see this?

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2017
    Messages:
    526
    Likes Received:
    2,743
    I dunno, pre-puberty Watson is kinda kawaii, and I liked her (in a non-sexual way, for the record). I definitely think that people overuse Hermione, but that's because she's easier to characterize more faithfully than Ron and Neville, the other 'easy Gryffindors' to characterise because they're so simple (they're not, people just think they are).

    If I had to play Hermione in D&D using Standard Array, I would go Intelligence highest at 15 (she's smart), Constitution at 14 (she's a wizard, HP wizards have ungodly constitutions), Dexterity and Strength at 13 and 12 (again, HP wizards are superhuman), Charisma at 10 and Wisdom at 8. Then, I would not have any Charisma-based skills. Charisma is your force of will, but it's also your ability to communicate with others, so you would think she would have a low Charisma, but I would argue that this is a case of low Insight, a Wisdom-based skill, hamstringing her. She can't properly understand other people, so she thinks that correcting them when they're wrong is the way to get them to like her, because that's what she would want and, hey, golden rule. She can't understand that other people have other thought processes and priorities, so she approaches it poorly and, because of that, essentially goes into every Charisma roll with Disadvantage (roll twice, take the lower roll).

    Oh yeah, Ron is definitely an example of somebody who has a super high Intelligence but no proficiencies in Intelligence skills. He tossed all his proficiencies as stuff he's not as good at like Athletics, so the only time you notice that he's smart is with Chess, since he's got proficiency with it and Chess uses Int.

    I think he's the same as my Hermione build, but reverse Charisma and Wisdom (he's a bit better at paying attention to the world around him and generally being in the know than Hermione, but god can he be a spineless follower sometimes, which is only as noticable as it is because of how almost everyone in his family very clearly has high stats all across the board).
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
    Shance, Acolyte, Grimrr and 1 other person like this.
  26. Mashadarof402

    Mashadarof402 Experienced.

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2017
    Messages:
    2,705
    Likes Received:
    18,456
    Things must have been a lot lewder in that scene than I remember reading... :p
     
  27. Coily boi

    Coily boi Assume everything I write is half-dead

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2019
    Messages:
    429
    Likes Received:
    3,851
    Link? I couldn't find it with google.
     
    otakumick and Acolyte like this.
  28. AndrewWolfe

    AndrewWolfe Hot glue beard disaster.

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2019
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    45
    There's a knack to coping with and managing the real-life Hermiones, I've known a few in my time (although none actually called Hermione, and not all of them girls), it requires a sort of mental and emotional judo to redirect their entirely useful smarts and drive where you need them to go.
     
    Acolyte and azqs like this.
  29. ContemplativeWyrm

    ContemplativeWyrm Know what you're doing yet?

    Joined:
    May 23, 2018
    Messages:
    101
    Likes Received:
    189
    I don't know if I'm alone in this, but I am feeling less and less kindly inclined towards Su-Li, not for the Grimdarkness of her family, but because of the bad faith, manipulations and lies she is spinning around our protagonists. Now, if she's being set up as a villain, then great! Hateable villains are a sign of good writing but I have the impression that the story is heading in the direction of her somehow being a member the crew and, it's difficult to be invested in a character that you don't like, at least for me. Especially since her whole shtick is manipulation and lies, consequently tainting any interactions she has with the main cast, making intimate and happy moments feel slightly sour. Obviously, this is perhaps an overreaction, none of this has sappened yet, but I felt that I needed to vocalize the feelings this chapter left me with.
     
  30. Skjadir

    Skjadir Experienced.

    Joined:
    May 9, 2015
    Messages:
    2,764
    Likes Received:
    2,651
    I have to question how someone wouldn't get how fucked up Shadowrun is the moment they spend more than two minutes looking into the world.

    I mean Aztlan and Aztechnology are a thing (Great PR, but the amounts of atrocities they create even by Shadowrun standards ...) and that doesn't go into the million and one cults and the fucked up shit they get up to*.

    * take the worst cults you can find RL and then add magic, mind control and active spirits into the mix
    Why use the D&D stats when Shadowrun has its own stats/attributes
    Physical Stats:
    Body – Your physical constitution and how hardy your body is. Works into your Physical/Stun damage tracks (SR’s equivalent to HP) as well as resistances to poisons and the like.
    Agility – Hand/eye coordination, flexibility, nimbleness, etc. Affects athletic skills and some combat skills.
    Reaction – How quickly you react to things. Affects some defensive rolls, vehicle control skills, and some drone-related skills.
    Strength – Raw muscle. Affects your ability to lift/drag/carry as well as some physical skills and unarmed combat.
    Mental Stats:
    Willpower – Used in a lot of magical skill tests, pain/damage resistance, and certain types of defense against magic.
    Logic – Important for tech-focused characters, represents internal ability to rationalize and deduce. Used for some knowledge or deduction skills and for a lot of tech skills.
    Intuition – Gut feelings, flashes of insight, etc. Is involved in Initiative checks, perception tests, and some magic resistance.
    Charisma – Your winning smile, your imposing figure, or just being fabulous. Used for many social skills.
    Special Stats:
    Magic – Represents the amount of power a magic-user has to draw on. Used in magic-based tests like casting spells and summoning spirits.
    Resonance – Basically Magic but for technomancers who use it to hack with their brains with no special hardware.
    Edge – This is basically a Luck stat. You can spend Edge points to affect die rolls, outright buy successes on a die test, or permanently burn points off the skill to do things like cheat death if the GM allows it.
    Essence – Your “humanity” score. Having cyberware implanted removes points from your Essence, and losing Essence lowers your ability to have Magic. If you hit 0, you essentially have no soul left and are dead.

    https://discourse.bigdinosaur.org/t/shadowrun-6e-5e-comparison/1712
    uses this as it goes a bit into detail what the stats mean/effect

    Apart from that in DnD she would be pretty close to an 18+ in Intelligence and 10 wisdom, something to keep in mind that she absurdly smart even when still being a kid and that she doesn't miss read the world around her as much as a low wisdom score implies its just that humans are bad at getting risks, she grew up in a place where there was not danger to her, and she accepts the contract and torc after all.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
    Grimrr, caspian1a and l---erddad---l like this.
Loading...