Altogether Like Your Family
August 6, 2009
"Good morning, Mrs Nott. We're ready for you. If you'll come this way, you can disrobe and the doctor – that is, healer – will be with you directly."
Astoria followed the white-robed mediwitch – that is, nurse – with some measure of embarrassment and a considerable measure of distaste … and an overwhelming measure of desperate hope. She was twenty-seven years old, in her eighth year of marriage, and childless.
The Little Squirts Fertility Clinic served a niche market. Certainly, they served the broader market as well, but their staff was all aware of magic and the clinic's specialty was assisting witches to achieve the blessing of motherhood, and they accepted galleons just as readily as muggle money.
It had been noticed a few years before that the pureblood birth rate had fallen off a cliff. Families which had continued in an unbroken line for centuries were in danger of dying out. Fertility charms and the specialty treatments available at St Mungos were no more successful than the traditional method of creating children.
Before panic could fully take hold, rumors began to circulate of a new group of healers who used new techniques – muggle techniques, the whispers said – to achieve success. Of course, no proper pureblood woman would be seen within a mile of such an establishment.
So, when they went, they wore concealing hats and made sure no one was looking. None would openly admit even to having heard of the clinic, but directions were whispered from witches with swelling bellies to witches with flat bellies.
Pureblood husbands, urgently in need of an heir, disguised themselves and followed their wives, then followed the humiliating instructions of the white-robed healers.
Parents were so happy to finally have children after years of trying that they didn't notice, or pretended not to notice, that the little girls always looked like dark-haired versions of their mothers. The fathers shrugged off their daughters' appearance, assuming that of course a little girl would resemble her mother more than her father.
It took at least two years from the birth of the first child before it was obvious that the new generation was entirely female.
August 6, 1993
"Boy! You get back here!"
Harry kept walking. He'd kill "Aunt" Marge if he had to deal with her for even one more minute.
"How dare you walk away from me? Ripper, go get him!"
Harry ran as fast as he could, considering his hunger, but he'd barely gotten started when the cur had latched onto his oversize trouser leg.
Before Harry could do more than shake his leg a time or two, a giant black dog burst out of nowhere. It clamped on Ripper's neck and ripped him away from Harry's leg before bounding away.
"Ripper! My baby! You, Boy! You get my Ripper back!" Marge was heading up the street at her full drunken sprint, two or three miles per hour.
Harry ran after the black dog. He didn't care what Marge wanted. He wasn't rushing to get Ripper back. He was rushing to make sure Ripper was dead. He'd see if he could bring back the head as a present for Marge. "This is all I was able to find. I'm so sorry for your loss."
Harry caught up to the two dogs in a neighborhood park.
The black dog was waiting for him. He shook his head sharply, then dropped Ripper's body at Harry's feet.
"Good boy. Uh, I don't have any treats for you, but you can eat Ripper if you leave me the head."
Much to Harry's surprise, the dog blurred and then a shabby man stood before him. "No, thanks. I'd rather go vegetarian."
The conversation that followed was both enlightening and infuriating.
February 7, 1998
Amelia Bones's death announcement in the Daily Prophet shocked magical Britain. The Minister for Magic had been murdered. She had been murdered in her home, through bodyguards and ancient wards. Worse yet, her death had been "nasty".
On top of the other deaths in the past six months, this was very upsetting to the law-abiding majority of the wizarding populace. On top of the deaths of other important people, it pushed the leadership of magical Britain fully into panic.
May 5, 1994
"Harry, do you have time to help me with long division tonight? I'm just not getting it."
"Sure, but it'll have to be after 7:30. History of Magic study group is from right after supper until 7 and then real history study group until 7:30. Can you ask around and see if any of the others are having trouble?"
About half of the Muggleborn students had taken Harry up on his offer to buy textbooks for regular school classes. Without instructors, the students did the best they could in learning the material and helping each other.
As usual, today Harry was sitting with his group of Muggleborn students at lunch. One of his groups of Muggleborn; not all of the students got along with each other, but Harry made certain to get along with them all. Their potential contributions toward his goals were more important than little things like personality conflicts. This was just one bit of the Black family wisdom that his godfather had shared with Harry in the few weeks before school started.
Harry had returned to school in September on Sirius's advice. Perhaps they could have gotten away from Dumbledore's control. That wouldn't have accomplished anything. It wouldn't have made anything better. It wouldn't have gotten back at Dumbledore or the school bullies or anyone else who had wronged Harry, let alone those who had wronged Sirius.
Harry's goal hadn't changed. He was going to destroy magical society.
His plans had changed. The Blacks had centuries of experience in manipulating people and events, influencing from behind the scenes rather than setting themselves out in public.
Sirius had pointed out the flaw in the initial plan of killing everyone who had hurt him. "How many do you think you can kill, Harry? Three or four? Maybe a dozen? Or maybe none? The ruling families' houses have wards, and the Minister has bodyguards."
Harry was willing to die – what did he have to live for? – but not until he'd gotten his revenge.
Not a word had been said about Harry's goal being wrong. Sirius had his own grievance with magical Britain.
Now, eight months later, eight months in the magical world later, Harry hated the magical world as much as he ever had. More, now that he'd learned more and lost more. His hatred had been honed and refined, more dangerous than ever.
June 28, 2005
"You! Mudblood! Bring me another drink."
Harry, in disguise, watched as the muggleborn wizard serving as a waiter at the Fudge Family Summer Soiree let the insult and the contempt roll off his back. The young man's mission was more important than any momentary annoyance.
The calming potions for all staff before starting the job helped.
"Ben, have John mix the next one with double the whiskey," Harry instructed the waiter. "If the esteemed head of the Thomas family gets more alcohol in him, maybe you won't have to get him a drink every ten minutes."
"And if we're lucky he'll pass out and shut up."
Harry, the company owner, sometimes supervised an operation, if the event was important enough. In practice, if the party had a wizard on his special list, Harry would make sure he got plenty to eat and drink.
Special attention to important guests was one of the reasons that business was steadily increasing for PB Catering. The chance to see mudbloods acting like house-elves was another, and the excellent discounts sealed the deal. The pureblood elite jumped on the chance to show their superiority and sophistication for all their affairs.
Pureblood elites weren't the only ones jumping on PB Catering. Hogwarts graduates had limited legitimate careers open to them unless they had family or sponsors. That meant, of course, that most of the good opportunities went to purebloods and to halfbloods with connections. And there were only so many jobs as clerks in magical shops or as permanently low-level artisans.
The muggleborn weren't easily able to return to the muggle world, either. Seven years of Hogwarts did not leave a new adult ready to join the workforce except as a laborer, and not at all ready for university. The self-study lessons which Harry had organized, in English and maths and other useful subjects, helped, but not enough. Only a few students were able to both do their magical work and keep up with their non-magical peers.
Enter PB Catering. With cooks and buyers and caterers and administrators and office staff, Harry's company had become a leading employer of muggleborn wizards and witches in the magical world. The work was not steady, but it paid well enough to live on and it was better to be sneered at a few days per month than to be sneered at every day while taking care of customers in a shop.
No one outside of the group of revolutionaries knew that all of the most important positions were filled by Harry's sworn followers as they graduated from Hogwarts.
September 7, 1993
Harry reread the letter, irritation growing. He'd tried three times now to inform the Department of Magical Law Enforcement that he'd caught Peter Pettigrew on the evening of September 1 and would like them to come pick him up.
He'd gotten three responses from three different people, all saying that Peter Pettigrew had been dead for twelve years. The letter in his hand came from Amelia Bones, Director of the DMLE, telling him to stop bothering the DMLE or he'd be arrested and that it was only his fame that kept her from arresting him today.
This was very frustrating. The only way he and Sirius had thought of to clear Sirius's name was to turn the traitor over to law enforcement – in front of witnesses and cameras, of course – so they'd realize they'd convicted the wrong wizard.
The incompetence of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement killed that idea. This was a recurring theme.
June 19, 1999
"Well, guys, this is the last chance for us all to get together. In case I don't catch you tomorrow morning or on the train, just let me say that it's been an honor and a privilege. Your hard work, dedication, and willingness to sacrifice—"
"Cut the crap, Harry," Karen interrupted. "We aren't a band of heroes, we're a bunch of students with a grudge."
"Hmmph. If you don't treat your fearless leader with the respect I think I deserve, I predict you are doomed to a sad and lonely life."
"Oh, like that'll happen," Anwen scoffed. "She's not even going to have a sad and lonely night. Considering that her parents won't let an almost-nineteen-year-old have alone time with their barely-sixteen daughter over the summer, tonight is you two's last chance to be together."
The two stared at the girl, not having realized that anyone knew about their non-group time together. It got worse. "Karen first spent a night in your bed three months ago. The first month she slept with you only one more time, but that gradually increased so that in the three weeks since her birthday she's slept with you ten times, including each of the past four nights. No way will she miss tonight. Oh, and that was a very nice private birthday present you gave her. It complemented the present you gave her at her birthday party." Anwen paused, smirking at Harry and Karen's dumbfounded expressions. "What did you expect? You put me in charge of gathering information two years ago. I'm graduating, so I've had to train replacements this year. I had them practice by spying on you. If they could watch a paranoid git like you and not get caught out, they'd be fine on the idiot inbreds."
"Um, right. Good job," Harry mumbled around a near-fatal blush. "Right, then, that's one of our plans for next year that's in good shape. How about you, Frank? Books and tutors and stuff lined up for next year? Money good? I don't think I'll be able to help because I need to pay Bill's scholarship, besides starting two companies. My investments did well, but not that well."
In-school study groups were still going strong. Harry had set up a couple of university scholarships for the most advanced students. He had firmed up his plans for destroying the magical world, and a couple of minions with degrees in the medical field were an essential part of them.
"We're fine, Harry. Our collection of textbooks and self-study lesson plans is in good shape. Costs next year should be low. And if the homework business continues as it has, we should be able to contribute to the scholarship fund."
"That's great! All praise the lazy, stupid purebloods."
"Let them be praised," the group responded in joking unison.
Doing homework for pureblood students and selling cheat sheets for tests did more than earn money for the muggleborn sworn to Harry's cause. It helped ensure that the purebloods learned less and were overall less capable in life after Hogwarts. All part of the plan.
"Last thing is recruitment next year. Are you still comfortable taking that, Karen?"
"Yes, I got it, no problem. I picked up all your techniques, working with you this year."
"Oh, is that what you were doing in his dorm, working under him and learning his techniques?" Tam teased, getting good-natured laughs and cat-calls.
"OK, you comedians, I think that's enough. Let's call this meeting to a close. I don't know about you but I haven't even started packing yet."
The group broke up with a round of hugs. Harry's joy at finally leaving leaving Hogwarts was mixed with sadness that he was leaving his friends, the first friends he'd ever had. Oh, sure, they were also his followers and they'd work together for years to come, but it wouldn't be the same.
Karen did indeed sneak into his bed for their last night together, returning his invisibility cloak after looking over both shoulders the whole way up. They had no idea how she'd been caught out, but it boded well for the blackmail material that would be gathered on purebloods next year. All part of the plan.
January 12, 1997
Harry hated himself. He didn't let it show, didn't let it affect what he was doing.
Four years ago Sirius had asked him two important questions. One had an easy answer. What do you want? I want to destroy the magical purebloods.
The answer to the other was easy to say but hard to mean. Much harder to follow through on. What are you willing to do to get it? I'll do anything.
To bring down the pureblood families, to destroy the pureblood government and everything else they controlled, Harry needed allies. He needed followers and money. He needed information. Different people joined his cause for different reasons, ideological or mercenary. Different people brought different value to Harry's group, skill or information or simple willingness to do as they were told.
Millicent Bulstrode was a half-blood, one of the few in Slytherin. She wasn't willing to swear fealty to Harry but she'd help him against the purebloods for her own reasons. Even without Malfoy egging them on to greater heights of prejudice – he'd died of a potion mix-up two years before, during the confusion surrounding that totally boring and pointless Triwizard Tournament mess – she was looked down on and ignored by her "family" here, and she resented the hell out of it.
Millicent's real family was worse. Her father had gotten drunk and gotten a muggle pregnant, then refused to disown the baby, then gotten himself killed before siring a proper heir. The half-blood child was destined to be a pawn in house politics, most likely to be married off to some old widower who'd be willing to overlook her heritage and looks for the sake of getting a young baby factory, and she resented the hell out of it.
Other pureblood girls in similar positions might sleep through a series of beds, for fun or in protest or as part of playing the family alliance game.
Millicent didn't sleep through a series of beds. The shape of her face and the mass of her body blocked that means of fun or protest.
Thus, when Harry approached her for insights into any weaknesses of her house-mates and anything else she knew about pureblood families, she set a high price on her information and help. She didn't need money but she needed affection, or the semblance of affection.
Harry closed his eyes and continued making his weekly payment. He would do anything to destroy the purebloods.
August 1, 2004
Harry sighed, took off his glasses, and rubbed his eyes. He needed minions who were intelligent and motivated so they could take care of things without needing supervision every minute. The problem with intelligent, motivated minions was that they'd go and do something like this.
"Tam, Renee, what on Earth made you think I wanted you to attack the Dursleys?"
"They're terrible! They deserved it! I'd have done worse to them if I could have gotten away with it."
"And it was your birthday! We wanted to get you something special!"
Harry sighed again. "Yes, they were terrible people, but it wasn't all their fault. After I looked into it, I decided I wasn't going to do anything at all to them, and then in a few years I was going to show up in a fancy car with a happy wife and beautiful children, and look down at Dudley still living with his parents with his own fat, stupid wife and kids. It wasn't a very nice dream, but you've stomped on it."
"We're sorry we upset you, Harry."
"Go on. I'll have to think of how to punish you. Some crap job that needs to be done but no one wants, probably. We still have plenty of things to do if we're going to destroy all the purebloods."
"We're really sorry we did it. But I'm glad we're working for you, not Voldemort. I don't think I'd like being tortured every time I did something wrong."
"That, and he's dead. Can't work for a dead guy."
Harry snorted. "Go on. I'll talk to you later about your crap jobs."
September 9, 1993
Breakfast was interrupted by a small phalanx of adults marching up to the head table.
"Headmaster Dumbledore, I require the presence of Harry Potter for a murder investigation."
The monocled woman said that loudly enough that all conversation immediately stopped and all eyes turned toward Harry.
Alone in a room with six of the magical police, the second year student listened to the accusation that he'd murdered Pettigrew and sent his body to the ministry lobby.
"I don't even know where the ministry lobby is," Harry informed them, "and I haven't been allowed to leave the Hogwarts grounds since I got here. And Pettigrew has been dead for years. Everyone knows that, and I even have a letter from you, Madam Bones, telling me that you weren't interested in talking to a living Pettigrew because he's dead. So what are you accusing me of, killing a man who's been dead since I was a baby?"
"I will not tolerate anyone making a mockery of me or our justice system, Mr Potter. If you do not cooperate in this murder investigation, I won't have any choice but to confine you in a holding cell until you are ready to cooperate."
"I'm already in jail. I don't want to be here and they don't let me leave. Do your worst."
In retrospect, that was not the wisest thing to say.
Harry was in a holding cell within the hour. It was different than being at Hogwarts, but not actually any worse. No Snape, no McGonagall, none of his "family" in Gryffindor trying to inflict a bit of leftover bullying. He put the time to good use, mainly catching up on his sleep.
He also thought about the lesson he'd been taught: plan better. Plan for other people to do things you don't expect. Plan for things to go wrong.
And keep your stupid mouth shut.
When Harry had given the stunned rat to Sirius, they had expected someone from the DMLE to talk to Harry within a day. He hadn't expected whoever came to lead off with threats and to react so badly when he threw their own words in their face.
Harry took the lesson to heart. When he was taken from his cell and confronted by a good cop, bad cop pair, he was ready.
After an hour of meaningless threats ("Welcome to the real world, half-blood," the bad cop snarled. "We can keep you here forever if you don't tell us what we want to hear.") and worthless inducements ("Just tell us what you did to Pettigrew and maybe you'll be back at Hogwarts this afternoon," the good cop offered), and not a word out of Harry, he was put back in the cell.
The next day, Amelia Bones herself met Harry in the interrogation room. Harry was ready, with the ability to contact Sirius and the threat – pure bluff, actually – that if he wasn't back in Hogwarts soon, his friends would contact the newspapers.
After a short negotiation, the politically ambitious Madame Bones got a wedge to bring down the Fudge administration. Sirius would turn himself in to the DMLE with Bones's personal guarantee that he would receive a fair trial. And Harry would be sent back to Hogwarts with no investigation into his role in Pettigrew's death.
September 21, 1993
Harry crumpled the letter in his hands.
Sirius was dead.
He'd died two days after being returned to Azkaban for the crime of escaping from Azkaban. Died of natural causes, according to the DMLE.
The same DMLE who'd promised that Sirius would be safe if he turned himself in.
The same DMLE who'd promised Sirius a fair trial for the non-murder of Peter Pettigrew… and which had followed that trial with another for escaping from Azkaban.
The same DMLE which had argued before the Wizengamot that Sirius Black was not owed any compensation for twelve years of imprisonment without a trial. The emergency decrees of the late 1970s did not place a time limit on pre-trial detention, so the DMLE had done nothing wrong.
The same DMLE which claimed that Sirius should have requested a writ of habeus corpus if he felt he was imprisoned unjustly. Never mind that that very same DMLE had kept him incommunicado for twelve years.
Amelia Bones was going to die.
Harry was the sole heir of the Black wealth. Even looted as it had been, it was enough. It was enough to buy an assassination. More than one.
The members of the Wizengamot were on his list, too. And the Azkaban guards, and everyone else. But Amelia Bones was first. Her personal guarantee was the only reason Sirius had turned himself in.
Harry would talk to some of his allies. Not all would help him to plan or carry out a murder, but a few were fanatical and imaginative and willing to do anything to bring down the pureblood aristocracy.
Amelia Bones was a dead woman walking.
July 30, 2019
"Good morning, Mr Potter. Thank you for agreeing to this interview for the twentieth anniversary of Neville Longbottom's victory over He Who Must Not Be Named."
"It's my pleasure. You're not allergic to cats, are you?"
"No, it's quite alright. That is a very lovely white Persian."
"I find it soothing to stroke her when telling what I've been doing, and I have quite a bit of information I think the public needs to know, in addition to the questions you have for me."
"We are not in the habit of letting others dictate our content, Mr Potter, but you may say your piece and we'll decide if it's newsworthy."
"That's quite alright. I have no doubt you'll find it newsworthy."
"Let's get to the reason for this interview. Mr Potter, you were once hailed as the Boy Who Lived, the vanquisher of You Know Who. When the fame moved to Neville Longbottom, the Man Who Won, did you feel left behind?"
"No, Neville being the one to defeat Voldemort doesn't bother me at all. Being called the Boy Who Lived did nothing good for me when I was young. I was glad to get rid of it. I do wonder at Dumbledore showing up at just the right time and living through the fight while Neville died, but it's too late to ask Dumbledore about it now."
"You shouldn't speak ill of Mr Dumbledore. He was a hero of the wizarding world for generations. But, moving on, what have you been doing since you dropped out of sight and in particular since Mr Longbottom's victory in death?"
"Several things. I've been working primarily with muggleborn witches and wizards, helping those who have trouble fitting in to the traditional magical society. Some I've helped get jobs. Are you familiar with PB Catering, the company which uses humans at parties and other affairs? Very popular with many of the rich pureblood families. They like having muggleborn in sight, serving them, to show how much better they are."
"We'll have to edit your commentary to suit our audience, but yes, I'm familiar with them. The caterers were very thoughtful in setting aside food and drink for journalists. Is that your company?"
"Yes, Potter-Black Catering, not Pureblood Catering, as some have thought. Inheriting from my godfather let me start the company. We make a decent profit, which helps us with our other goals.
"Another thing I've been doing is promoting advanced education for muggleborn. My foundation, MBR Leg Up, Muggleborn and -Raised Leg Up, encourages all muggleborn wizards and witches to catch up with their non-magical education, then pays for advanced studies for promising students. We're particularly interested in the medical fields. We've paid for one to become a doctor, specializing in reproductive issues, and several to become nurses and medical technicians. Those are something like a healer, several medi-witches, and senior potions brewers.
"I've started another company, a clinic, which employs all of the trained medical people, as well as various support staff, all muggleborn. The Little Squirts Fertility Clinic is growing every year and turns a nice profit, which of course funds more education."
"The Little Squirts clinic? My wife and I have made use of it, twice. All reports are quite favorable and several families openly acknowledge that they would have ended without your assistance. The clinic is well worth the cost, high though it is."
"Yes, I'm very proud of my Little Squirts. We're doing several things at the same time. We're providing employment for several muggleborn witches and wizards who are discriminated against by the dying pureblood society–"
"Let me finish. You'll see where I'm going. Second, as I said, it's funding the education of more muggleborn.
"And third, and most important, the fertility clinic is changing pureblood society."
"What? How do you mean?"
"To take one obvious example, pureblood families are much more open to talking about fertility services. Ten years ago, purebloods would have died rather than openly admit to having used a fertility clinic, especially one which used muggle methods. Now, you just mentioned it with no sign of discomfort.
"The second area of change is that all of the children born from my clinic are girls."
"Yes, that was noticed years ago. At first we thought it was merely odd coincidence, then we concluded that it was a result of the medical methods used."
"That's almost true. Our technicians implanted only female embryos in the pureblood clients. That is, only fertilized eggs which would become girls were used, on my orders."
"Why would you do that? What did you hope to accomplish?"
"I told you, I'm changing pureblood society. Let me finish and it should become clear.
"The final change to pureblood society is the ending of pureblood society."
"Stay in your seat, Mr Johnson. If you get up from your chair, you'll be stunned. If you reach for your wand, you'll be dead before your hand is out of your pocket.
"To continue, magical pureblood society in Great Britain is effectively ended. Almost all male purebloods are sterile and cannot be healed. PB Catering had been dosing party-goers with a very nasty potion for almost twenty years. No effect on women, permanent sterility on men. I'm sure we've missed a few pureblood men, especially recluses who don't go to parties, but we've gotten every one of the men and boys from the families who run society.
"If I'd simply left all the men sterile, knowledge of the problem would have spread wide enough and fast enough that pureblood men would stop eating PB Catering's food. That's why we opened the fertility clinic at about the same time and started whispers about it among pureblood witches. It was embarrassing enough that no one would talk much about it, but effective enough that people would use it and spread the word.
"The husbands of the witches who used the clinic were unable to be a part of the fertilization. Recall that they are completely sterile. Instead, semen from volunteers was used in fertilizing the eggs. Rather, semen from a single volunteer was used.
"I am the father of almost every 'pureblood' child born in Britain in the past twelve years. A few witches married overseas and got pregnant before returning and I imagine a few had affairs with non-pureblood wizards, but the rest are mine.
"I have several messages for all of my daughters. I agreed to this interview because the oldest girls are almost of an age to begin thinking about marriage and children and it's time for them to learn a few things.
"First, no pureblood male in Britain can father a child. If you want children, you'll have to either leave the islands or find a non-pureblood father.
"Second, to help you make your decision, I'm offering G500 to any of my daughters who emigrate permanently. This should be enough to let you settle in, or to add nicely to your dowry. For the girls who stay in Britain, I'll give you G500 for your dowry if you marry a muggleborn wizard and G1000 if you marry a muggle. I wish I could make it more, but I have a lot of daughters, as well as responsibilities to my employees.
"Third, I strongly advise you to be very careful of whom your children marry. You've all been raised in the pureblood magical culture, so I'm sure you all know about family lines and the perils of inbreeding, but let me emphasize that each you have over a thousand half-sisters, and that it is a very bad idea for your child to have children with a half-cousin.
"Fourth and last, my daughters, I suspect that not all of your parents will be happy now that they've learned the truth. If you feel you are in any danger from the pureblood families who raised you, get away and put a personal ad in the London Times, addressed to HP and asking for help. Someone will come to you. It's not a perfect system, but the best I can do.
"That concludes the messages for my daughters. I wish to give two messages to pureblood magical society: My muggleborn employees have already dropped out of sight and I will do so directly, so there's no point in outraged purebloods trying to find us to attack us. And finally, I destroyed pureblood society because it attacked me and cost me everything I had. The muggleborn joined me in droves because of pureblood prejudice. There was nothing in pureblood culture worth saving. To hell with you all."
Author's Note: Harry did much the same here as in "The Obligatory Marriage Law Fic", making sure there would be no next generation of purebloods, but here he did it in a saner fashion. For a sufficiently inclusive definition of "saner".