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   What is more terrifying – the silence borne of an unnatural, foreign touch... or the one created with a loving familiarity? Induced under the guise of a gift, one that cannot be returned without shame... or hunger...

   It is good to be invisible, while the world panics around me.

   The hallway outside of the Wizengamot chamber is cold – unnaturally so. There are no Dementors here, like in the wars; the chill extends from something deeper. It’s cold and clammy, a stark contrast to the rancid humidity just inside the door. While I cannot feel the heat, I can smell it. A few hundred men and women, all expecting the worst – and not one of them has a plan. After all, when the world moves beneath your feet by forces beyond your ken, what else is there to feel, besides fear?

   My lips curl into a smile and I lean against the stone wall. It’s cold enough to be felt through my robes, but I don’t care. Sometimes, the chill is the only thing that keeps you sane, knowing that you can still feel it, can still think...

   The chill lets me know I’m not in Hell yet – and according to some, it’s only a matter of time.

   They scream my name – both sides do. In one hand is an establishment. The cracks have been exposed, and the mortar is breaking beneath it, yet it still stands. But the cracks have reached the cornerstones, and the time is coming.

   In the other hand is a motley crowd. None of them are inside the chamber a few feet away from me – they don’t have legitimacy, a fact they love to ignore. They claim righteous hatred, that the establishment behind the doors has failed them time and time again, and a reckoning is due.

   They shout my name as their saviour, their paragon, but even I cannot ignore the obvious holes in their arguments, and the grim truth that would come with their utopia. They love to ignore it – claiming it better than the alternative is a fine way to stir the disenfranchised – those who need something to believe in and won’t look past the cover.

   Both are speeding on a highway to hell, and where does Harry Potter stand?

   “Right in the damn middle,” I whisper, my fingers tracing the grain of the Elder Wand with disinterest as a particularly heated voice rose in the Wizengamot chamber, “for what does it mean to me?”

  I don’t take any perverse pleasure in this dichotomy – if anything, it irritates me that they continue to draw me towards a position of power, towards a spotlight I don’t care for in the slightest. It’s not like I would have a problem assuming the power they desire to give me, but in the manner it is presented, and in the manner I would have to accept it.

   I hadn’t lied when I told Ron and Hermione eighteen months ago that I had had enough of that sort of adventure.

   The doors of the Wizengamot chamber open, and it is easy for me to sidestep the rush of anxious politicians, scurrying off to plan their next move in the comfort of a posh club in the best parts of Diagon Alley. Or maybe they plan to head home to spend a few fleeting moments with their families – after all, it is the holidays, the time when people go home to their families. Or the time when people looking to forget their families go to the bar and drink themselves into a stupor.

   Given my priorities, it should be no surprise to anyone rational where I plan to be.

   Finally, after the last clerks trudge out, the few disgruntled members of the ‘press’ emerge. A term far too dignified for the motley group of liars and pandering idiots that write for our various papers – except for one.

   I slide out of the shadows and slip next to the girl walking at the rear of the pack. Unlike most of the reporters, she doesn’t look particularly professional or dazzling. Nobody gives her second glance – to everyone else, she is little more than a deluded dreamer, too bizarre to befriend, too plain to seduce, and too honest to trust.

   “Hello, Luna.”

   She looks up at me and gives me a warm smile, pushing a tangled lock of blonde hair away from her eyes. “Hi Harry.”

   “Anything interesting?”

   “Nothing you’d be interested in,” Luna says wistfully, gesturing at her notepad. Covered in doodled wildflowers and pictures, it looked more like a child’s drawing than a reporter’s careful notes, but we both know better than that. “Hermione’s movement is really making a lot of people quite unhappy, you know.”

   I grimace. I know the movement – it is designed to deify me. “And the Ministry is taking it seriously?”

   “As seriously as anything.” Luna said with a bit of a shrug. “Still, I’ll make sure The Quibbler puts out the important things – like Kingsley Shacklebolt’s cover-up of the Centaurian Nymphs.”

   I smirk slightly. “Centaurian Nymphs?”

   “Oh yes,” Luna says with an avid nod. “Recently discovered in Wales, they’re a magnificent cross between nymph and horse – and strangely, they exhibit traits of the most prominent genders in the cross. Nymph on top, horse on bottom... you know, we should try that some time.”

   I can’t help but give a slight chuckle at that. She remembers everything – and as much as I want to steal away those memories and protect her, I realize that taking them away would take away something from the world that could never be reclaimed.

   She remembers everything – unlike all the rest.

   All the rest... except one, of course.

   “So, should we try it tonight?” Luna asked brightly.

    I ran my hand through her tousled hair and gently bent to kiss her. She relaxes immediately in my grasp, and for a few brief seconds, I realize I could step away with her, and enjoy that little experiment.

   But then I break the kiss, and look into her round, innocent eyes, and I know the truth. She doesn’t belong in this sordid world, of which I am a master. She doesn’t belong in the world of cheap drinks and paltry sex, of half-earned conquests and ruined lives.

   Nobody should belong in that world... and yet here I am.

   “Not tonight, Luna. Tonight, I’m going to the Sphinx’ Paw.”

   Luna nods. “So who then?”

   I pause slightly at the name. She could very well come looking for me tonight – and it wouldn’t be difficult for me to check that, peeking into her mind like one peruses a book’s spine on a shelf.

   But in a way, that would be too easy – it would take away all of the surprise.

   “I’m not sure, but for the moment, I’m going alone,” I reply, keeping my tone light.

   Luna understands. She’s one of the few who does understand. She understands that I might frequent the beds of a dozen women. She understands that I might give them all exquisite pleasure, leaving them thirsting for more with every breath. She understands that all of these women won’t remember a thing the next morning – a move to protect them and me from malcontents seeking to steal my power.

   But she will always remember – because she knows I’ll come back to her. She knows I care for her. And she knows that the moments of blissful sex I have with her are unlike nothing I will experience with any other.

   Some might ask why I don’t settle down with Luna, then – instead of what some might consider my hurting of her by seeking others. Those who believe that don’t know me, or Luna. Those people treat the sexual act as a highly exclusive commodity, to only be shared with one – or claimed by one. Those people believe that my behaviour is grossly amoral, that it objectifies others, objectifies Luna as just one more toy in my playground. The same people who crave my influence, my power, or are plotting to steal or exploit it. The same people who approach me and seek a night of wild passion in a hope of claiming me.

   They are deluded.

   I will not be claimed. I will not be exploited. I refuse to acknowledge their hypocrisy – for every woman I fuck is willing, and I will only give her that sweet release if she asks for it. I am not a rapist, or a dispassionate monster, or a crass misogynist. I do not take what isn’t given, and I do not hate or disrespect the givers.

   I simply accept, and appreciate the gift. And then I give in return.

   Luna has always understood this. She understands that when I leave her for another, I’m simply giving another gift.

   That I might have to tempt another into accepting said gift is a different matter entirely.

*          *          *

  The Sphinx’s Paw is new, and one of the biggest projects completed by the Ministry of Magic in the restoration and ‘modernization’ of the wizarding world.

  It is unsurprising that the place already looks, sounds, and smells like a dive.

  Outside, it is only an hour before midnight and the crowd has formed. A few hundred witches and wizards are standing in line, shivering against the bracing wind and casting Warming Charms every few seconds to create some heat. Most are young – some are even in their late teens – and all of them are eager to get inside, complete their escape from their families and cares to spend the night in revelry.

   There are more than a few nervous conversations in the line, though. Some are talking about the coming of the New Year, and what it might mean. In the Muggle world, people are panicking at the rise of something called ‘Why Tu’Kay’, and the fear of that unknown is leaking into the wizarding world.

   The person approaching the front doors of the bar is not afraid, though. Ignoring the line and the angry shouts and whistles, the person approaches the bar doors and waits for a few seconds.

   The bouncers nod, and without a single word, she is inside.

  It is crowded, and hot. People are dancing recklessly to the latest wizarding tune. Sparks are dancing in the air from wands in outstretched hands, as the dancers take glee in scrawling their mark in the ceiling. Alcohol is free-flowing, and the thick hazy stench of smoked Knotgrass fills the air, as well as a few other illicit scents that have the chemical odor of their Muggle origin. She ignores all of this, sidling through the crowd, attracting more than a few stares as she moves towards a staircase on the far side of the bar.

   She does not care for the stares. She knows they are drawn to her like moths to the flame. Drawn by a tastefully short strapless navy dress that fits her like a glove, or by her creamy white shoulders and graceful neck, or even drawn by her face, seemingly closed to anyone, but the pert nature of her lips and slight crack in her mirror-like eyes implying so much more.

   But even the one slightly sodden man who dared come close to boldly ask for her name backed away at a single stare. It wasn’t lust that he had seen in her eyes, but rage and wrathful hunger. She wasn’t a woman scorned – she was a black widow, preying on a former mate.

   A mate just as dangerous, if not more so, than her.

   She reached the stairs, and despite her three-inch heels and tight skirt, she ascended them gracefully. Although nobody would notice in the loud clamour of the club, her shoes did not make a sound on the hastily built stairs.

  Upstairs was a very different atmosphere than that of the bar below – this was an area for those with an element of class and dignity. Most of the crowd was a bit older, although there were a few pretenders that were easy to spot. It was also much quieter than the raucous area below – something that maintained by a number of extremely powerful Silencing Spells cast around the floor. She pauses slightly, and for anyone catching a glimpse of her arrival, they might have noticed the strangely aroused expression on her face, as if somebody had just ran his fingers along a particularly sensitive part of her body...

   But then the expression is gone, and she sidles through the crowd without a word, approaching the far end of the bar, her eyes only on one man, who she spotted the moment of her arrival.

   He is standing by the bar, having just received a drink that she knows is filled with antidotes for love potions. His posture is relaxed, and a hint of a smile was on his face, as if he was just simply content to be where he was at that moment, that the entire world might move, but he would remain still, the center.

   It is the smile of a predator, and not for the first time that night, she feels a tremor of abject terror. Did he know? Had he somehow discovered her secret? Was he simply playing her for a fool, trapping her in the web she had primed for him?

   She doesn’t dare approach him, not yet. He isn’t vulnerable by any stretch of the mind, she knows this. But at the right moment, he would be vulnerable – and she would move, take back what is hers... while keeping the priceless gift she had received.

   She doesn’t dare lose that. She can’t, it is the dearest thing she has, a power that she would fight tooth and nail to the last shreds of her being to protect...

   Her gaze snaps back to the man. Out of nowhere, he is embracing a woman, and laughing lightly as he guides her to the open bar. A barely-perceptible nod to the bartender has a shimmering drink sitting on the bar instantly, but the woman does not even move to pick up the glass.

   Her eyes narrow. The woman is familiar, that much of which she is certain. But there is something very different about her.

   She leans in slightly, and with a twinge of her magic, she listens.

*          *          *

   Her name is Hannah Abbott.

   She was a Hufflepuff in my year at Hogwarts, that I knew for certain. She had been in the DA, and had done well, for the most part. She hadn’t been at the top of any classes, but she had worked hard, and spent plenty of quality time in the background. She had been a strange contrast to her former boyfriend, Ernie Macmillian, who had loved the grandiose and melodramatic. No, she had always been content to sit in the background, dealing with her own personal issues and problems on her own. It didn’t make life easy for her by any stretch – I remember distinctly watching her check out book after book frantically at the Library before our exams in fifth year – but I can respect her motive.

   I also knew that she had never officially completed her schooling. Her mother had been killed in the first few months of the Second War, and she had been withdrawn from school. And even though she had returned the following year, I suspect she struggled to keep up.

   It is curious, then, that she was in a highly exclusive area of the Ministry’s project – perhaps there are even more hidden depths that I have not noticed.

   “I must admit,” I begin slowly, “that I’m a little surprised to see you here, Hannah.”

   She blushes prettily, colour filling her cheeks. “Well, I’m working for the Ministry right now – I was actually one of the coordinators on this project. It took a lot of work to put everything together, but I think it turned out quite well.”

   I restrain myself from a wry remark about the freeform fucking that was taking place on the dance floor below us – that would simply be unprofessional. “You did a good job.”

   She smiled openly, her gratitude over her face. “Thanks Harry, that means a lot coming from you.”

   I surreptitiously slide a few inches away from her to get a better angle. Long, honey-brown hair, flowing free down her shoulders. Her eyes were open and filled with a refreshing simple happiness – almost childlike. Maturity showed in her strong chin and confident smile – she had been through difficult times, and had come out a better woman.

   Cocking my head slightly sideways, I notice with interest that she appears to have lost a fair amount of weight. While she had never been chubby, there had always been a generous amount of baby fat around her figure, even into her teenage years, where she had been one of the first to ‘develop.’ Now, fat has been replaced with lithe muscle, and while her breasts had shrunk a bit in size, they were still beautifully defined beneath her crisp, clean, well-pressed robes.

   Explains the confidence... but I suspect her innocence remains intact as well. Very interesting indeed...

   “You haven’t touched your drink,” I note. I let a little surprise into my voice – not incredulous, but enough to make her question.

   “Oh, I don’t drink,” Hannah replied brightly.

   An outright lie, or at least a partial concealment of the truth. “Why?”

   “Never really acquired for a taste for it, I guess,” Hannah replied cheerfully, nudging the wine glass the bartender had given her towards me. “You want this?”

   Too honest to lie, of that I was sure, but there are things she isn’t telling me. Very interesting indeed – too few women have interesting secrets these days.

  “I guess I can accept that,” I say with a growing grin, “if you’d indulge me in some polite conversation.”

   She thinks for a few seconds – a clear act, I already know she has made up her mind. “Well, I guess I can stay for a little while.”

   Her wording immediately makes me suspicious – it was too deliberate, as if she was intending to stay with me but was pretending that it was a choice. It sparked memories of hungry-eyed women searching for power they thought would come with me – but Hannah seemed as innocent as an open daisy. Either that or she’s a damned good actress – and either way, I have a challenge on my hands.

   “So why aren’t you with family for the holidays?” she begins, toying with a napkin.

   I give a snort. “I have no desire to spend any time with my aunt and uncle, thank you very much – wouldn’t want to ruin their Christmas.”

   “No, I’m talking about the Weasleys,” Hannah asked, confusion evident in her tone. “From the way I heard Ginny talking about it, it sounds like you two are going to be engaged soon, like Ron and Hermione.”

  I shake my head and sigh. “I think you might have been misinformed, Hannah. Ginny and I aren’t getting engaged.” I look up, and frown slightly. “As a matter of fact, I didn’t think that Ron and Hermione were getting engaged either – something about conflicts of interest.”

   Hannah rolled her eyes. “That’s an understatement, with Ron working for the Ministry and Hermione... well...”

   “Let’s avoid talking about her plans for now,” I say hastily. “So what about you? Why are you here?”

   She turns away, and looks down at the bar, and her smile fades. “I... I guess I don’t have anywhere else to go right now. You know my parents died during the war, and with Ernie out of the picture for a good year now, it’s been...”

   “Busy, I’m guessing?”

   She laughs a little at that. “Yeah, you could say that. I’ve thrown myself into work, getting into good shape, trying to pull my life back together – and it’s worked.” She looks at me and gives me a big, oh-so-innocent smile. “You could say I’m doing better than ever.”

   I give her an honest smile. “I’m happy for you,” I say truthfully, “and I understand why you don’t drink now too.”

   She cocks an eyebrow. “Oh?”

   “Well, you’re not using it as a crutch to get over issues or demons,” I reply, shifting a little closer to her. “And considering what you’ve been through, that takes some real moral fortitude. I’m impressed.”

   “Oh, you can quit it with the flattery,” Hannah says, blushing again as I raise my glass and salute her before downing my own drink. “So, are you using it as a crutch?”

   It’s easy for me to fake indignation, but my smile never wavers. “Oh, come on, you should know me better than that, Hannah.”

   “So why do you drink then?” she asked, leaning a little closer, a lock of long hair brushing against my hand.

   Without effort, my expression changes – to a private smile, like on given to a close friend to whom I just shared a secret. “Call it social lubricant, then.”

   “Excuses,” Hannah scoffs lightly. “I’m sure the great Harry Potter doesn’t need alcohol to talk to people.”

   It is a complete truth that passes through her lips, but I don’t need for her to know that. “You know, I’m not as confident as I’m always made out to be, Hannah – people say things that just simply aren’t true about me.”

   She’s sceptical. “Oh really?”

   “Sure – take half of the stories Hermione’s people spout off about me – let me tell you, the ones that are even half-true are grossly exaggerated, and the others...” I chuckle to myself. “I’m not nearly as incredible as I’m often made out to be.”

   “So all those stories about you being a lady’s man and heartbreaker are complete lies?” she asks, leaning even closer and smirking. It’s clear from her expression that she thinks I’ve penned myself into an awkward corner, but I have an exit.

   “They’re probably just as true as you being a virgin lesbian,” I reply, raising my refilled glass in mock salute.

   Her expression changes unmistakably. Something in her eyes shifts – a tremor of fear, perhaps, or apprehension? Even though her posture remains confident, something I said touched something in her... something true.

   Even with armor of the brightest steel, I can find the crack.

   I place my hand on her shoulder and give a bit of a squeeze of reassurance. “It’s all right, Hannah, I don’t judge anyone.”

   “You judge some people.”

   The slyness of her delivery makes me smile – it meant she wasn’t broken, and that was good. “Well, the Malfoys are imbeciles – that’s less of a judgement and more of a fact, Miss Abbott.”

   She laughs at that. “You’re quite the character, Harry.”

   “I know,” I reply easily, “but regardless of that, let’s try a little experiment to test your character. As Hermione might say, we’ll do it ‘for science’.”

   “Harry Potter, you think there is something wrong with my character?” She gives me a scandalized look of indignation, but I know she’s intrigued.

   “I’m not saying there’s anything wrong – just saying we’re going to test it.”

   “And how are you going to do that?”

   I smile that secret smile again. “Magic.”

   She can’t help but give me a condescending smile. “Harry, I’m a witch – there’s no magic that can ‘analyze a person’s character’.”

   “Oh really?” I ask slyly. “So why don’t you buy me a drink, then?”

   She frowns. “Why would I do that? I already offered you my drink.”

   “Not technically yours – you rejected it, and I paid for it.” I shrug. “Technically, it’s mine.”

   “Why should I?”

   Her indignity is refreshing – it’s almost as if she wants me to lead her to the logical conclusion, to deliver that tantalizing temptation. “Well, I’ve provided you with good company this evening, witty and intelligent conversation, and I defeated Voldemort handily saving the wizarding world – don’t you think I’ve earned it?”

  She’s laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of my comments now. “I think you’ve amply been rewarded for all of that, I should say.”

   “Prove it to me then,” I reply confidently. “Firewhiskey, straight.”

   “Shouldn’t the man be buying drinks for the woman in situations like these?” Hannah shot back, but I can tell she’s beginning to waver.

   My eyes go almost comically wide, and I let an expression of shock grow on my face. “Why Hannah, in our magical society based on gender equality, you would descend to such outmoded and old-fashioned stereotypes to characterize this transaction?”

   “Oh come on –”

   “What is our society coming to, I thought we were past this point –”

   “Okay, okay, I get the point,” she says, tossing her hand into the air as she turned to the bartender. “One Firewhiskey straight, please.” She tosses a few Sickles on the bar. “Happy?”

   “I don’t have my drink yet, I can’t be sure,” I reply, an insufferable expression on my face that I know people consider downright infuriating. “But I think I proved my point.”

   “How?” Hannah asks, irritation creeping into her voice as she slides my drink to me.

   “Well, my magic worked.”

   Her eyes go wide. “You cast a spell on me?”

   I slide my arm around her shoulders, and I’m pleased to note she does not tense. “Not all magic is worked with a wand, Hannah.”

   The scepticism has returned to her expression, along with an expression of slight disbelief. “Really? You can give me another example?”

   I run my hand along the side of her face. “Sure.”

   And without warning, I lean in and kiss her. On the lips, lightly, just a taste before pulling away. Her lip gloss tastes strangely minty – a refreshingly light taste in a world where light tastes like that often go overlooked.

   She shivers slightly in my arms, and I know my hook has been planted.

   The game was about to get very interesting.

*          *          *

   She’s seen it all before. The little grin of triumph that appears on his face after he kisses her, the delicate touch of his hand across her hair, the cool glint in his satisfied eyes.

   It doesn’t surprise her when he continues to speak to the inferior girl, prodding and poking at her surprisingly tough defences, nibbling away at them piece by piece. His actions are almost like a well-practiced routine... but not quite. No, he is smarter than that – his motions are more organic, tailored to the situation.

   This girl... she is an innocent. A virgin likely, but not for the same reasons she had once been, before he had taken it away and replaced it with a different sort of power. No, this girl is a virgin due to a chosen shyness, a confidence hamstrung by an inability to approach, and a set of standards only set to falsely reassure. Standards designed to reassure her that her false confidence meant no men were good enough for her, when in reality she was simply cowering behind them. Her uncomfortable twitch the second he had mentioned virginity proved that.

   Her eyes narrow as she stares at the inferior girl. The Hufflepuff girl is weak, nothing compared to the woman glaring daggers at her across the bar, a woman who had insurmountable standards, standards only dropped to obtain an intoxicating power... a power she needed. A silence she craved, and would do anything to maintain...

   She flexes her hand inside her navy opera glove. Heavily embroidered, it is truly a work of art – even to those who don’t recognize the enchanted stitches of unicorn tail hair dyed matte black, which trace across the glove – and connect to the wand hidden inside along her forearm.

   She could shake his hand – and set it on fire. She could caress his face – and slice it to ribbons. She could stroke his cock – and then tear it off in a shower of blood.

   A very different sort of power from that which was given to her for a price – this, she had created herself, in the bleak moments of rage when she knew that he had violated her, stolen her dignity, and turned her into a wreck of what she had once been.

   The mirrors had been cracked – and could never be repaired.

   She notices the last flash of gold cross the bar, and does not move as he rises with the inferior. His arm is around the girl, and she is slowly growing accustomed to its presence.

   Not for much longer.

   She knows exactly what he’s going to do. He’s going to offer to walk her home – and then casually mention that he only lives a block away, and why Apparate home without a nightcap? She will flush, and say he doesn’t have to do it, but he will gallantly insist.

   Such a gentleman.

   And she will kiss him on the cheek or lips, and he will stroke her neck before guiding her to the flat only a block away, up three flights of stairs, where he will offer to carry her if her feet ache even the slightest.

   Such a gentleman.

  No, she will not allow this to happen. She will be there, waiting. The other might be inferior, but even the weakest does not deserve his brand of bondage – that curse was hers alone, hers and only hers, and she will not have it taken...

   Such a gentleman.

   If they only knew.

*          *          *

   “I wouldn’t have any problem walking you home, Hannah –”

   “Oh, Harry, that’s sweet –”

   “But you know, I live practically a block away,” I finish with an easy smile. “What would you say to a nightcap before Apparating home?”

   She blushes. “Oh, I don’t Apparate – I never really got the hang of it back in the lessons. I got the license, sure, but still... Harry, I think I’d be better walking home. I don’t live that far either.”

   I frown slightly. Had I miscalculated? “It’s still not safe to be wandering by yourself at night – I really should walk you home.”

   “I don’t want to take you out of your way, though – I don’t live exactly close, either.” She gives a helpless shrug. “Guess this is where we part ways.”

   “Hold on a second,” I begin, carefully keeping the small feeling of edgy desperation out of my voice and safely concealed in my gut – I will not be rejected like this, played for a fool. I will remain in control. “You say you live a considerable distance, right?”


   “Well, I don’t, and I have a connection to the Floo Network,” I finish with a smile. “Probably save you half of the time, and it would keep me at ease knowing you’d be safe.”

   She considers this, completely unaware of the racing turmoil inside my gut. Strange I feel this – I guess when one gets used to hearing yes, he dreads the uncertainty. It’s heady, almost intoxicating... must be how ordinary men feel...

   She finally shrugs. “All right, can’t argue with that logic. Which way?”

   I try not to let the giddy rush of success show on my face, but I turn away slightly just in case. “Follow me, it’s not far.”

   She takes my hand, and we quickly cross the cobblestones to my flat. The door opens soundlessly, and after stamping the snow from our shoes, we quickly ascend the heated stairs.

   “That’s a pretty nifty charm,” Hannah notes with interest as she reaches the top of the first flight. “I can actually feel the warmth coming through my shoes, it’s cool – pardon the pun.”

   “Thank you,” I reply, continuing to climb.

   She cocks a well-manicured eyebrow. “You’re taking credit?”

  “I know a charm or two,” I reply enigmatically. “After all, I’m very good with my wand. Very precise – I know exactly where to use it.”

   Both her eyebrows are raised – but she is smiling. “And what does that mean?”

  I don’t answer, reaching my door and unlocking it with a tap of the Elder Wand. The locks click, and I let Hannah into my room.

   “Nice place,” she notes as I hang my cloak on a hook by the door.

   I chuckle slightly at this. Every woman says those words walking into my apartment for the first time. It is relatively austere, mostly decorated in dark greys, with spots of colour coming out in the old couch, the mismatched tables, and the heaps of books and papers scattered across most flat surfaces.

   “Admit it, you think it’s a pigsty.”

   “Not as bad as half of the rooms I’ve been in, believe me,” Hannah retorts with a snort. “You should see my place some time. I work so much, things just get unkempt over there.”

   “Interesting word, ‘unkempt’,” I muse, pulling two water glasses from one of my cupboards. “Implies a lack of care – yet  Hannah, from I’ve seen of you, I can’t imagine you not caring about anything connected to you, much less your home.”

   She blushes again – it is so easy to make her blush, and she turns towards my fireplace. “Where’s your Floo powder?”

   “Top right,” I reply easily, filling both glasses with water and surreptitiously adding a dash of Sterilization Potion to my glass, causing it to froth for a few seconds before going placid.

   Hannah tosses a dash of the Floo Powder into the fireplace, and the flames grow high and green. “Well, thanks for the walk, Harry – oh, Harry, I can’t stay –”

   “I already poured the water,” I reply, giving her a frank ‘are you kidding me’ look. “And Merlin only knows what time I’d be waking up in the middle of the night if I drank both of these. I was going to pour wine, but you don’t drink...”

   “You shouldn’t have poured anything,” she said with a huff, sitting down on my couch and setting her purse on the floor. “And now I wasted your Floo Powder –”

   “You’re just making excuses,” I interrupt, winking at her mock-offended expression as I sit down next to her and offer her a glass. “Cheers?”

   She clinks glasses with me and hides her slightly incredulous expression behind the glass as takes a swig. My expression never wavers.

   “But why water of all things?” she asks as I take a drink of my own, unflinching at the slightly salty taste of the potion. “Don’t you have juice or something? Or tea – probably be nice on a cold night like tonight.”

   “No, I prefer water,” I reply confidently, quickly draining the rest of my glass with impressive alacrity and setting it down on the coffee table, refilling it wordlessly with a tap of my wand. “It’s good for me – promotes hydration.”

   Hannah sets her own glass down and gives me a slightly inquisitive half-smile. “And what does that mean?”

   Without warning, I sidle close to her. My left thigh touches her right. I set my wand down on the table slowly – very slowly – and place that hand in hers, while my other hand slips around her shoulders.

   I look into her eyes – her brown, oh-so-innocent eyes.

   “I think you know.”

   This time, she moves first. It is haltingly slow, but she closes her eyes and stretches her beautiful neck. A second later, her tongue meets mine, and I can taste the smooth minty taste of her breath. She hesitates, but my hands on her shoulders guide her down, letting her slide me beneath her so she can continue pressing down, continuing to kiss me...

  She stops, and breaks the kiss. She sits up slightly, and runs a trembling hand through her hair, only beginning to become slightly dishevelled.

  “I’m sorry, Harry. I... I don’t know why I did that.”

   “Did it feel bad?” I ask simply.

   “No, not at all,” she replies, shaking her head and attempting to straighten her dress. “It’s just... Harry, I’ve never done this before.”

   I nod. “I understand.”

   “And I... I want my first time to be special.”

   “I can understand that as well.”

   “And while I... Merlin, I want to do this, every inch of me is screaming to keep going, but I’ve got a little voice in my head that keeps saying that I’m making a mistake.”

   I sit up and fix her with my best penetrating stare – it was the moment of truth.

   “Hannah, look at me.”

   She looks.

   “Do you trust me?”

   She nods, without hesitation.

   “Do you believe that I would ever lead you to harm, that I would hurt you in any way, that I would ask you to do something that you were not prepared to do?”

   “No, of course not,” she hastily replies, “but I can’t help but feel... I don’t...”

   I slowly rise to my feet and move to the fireplace, picking up the Elder Wand from the table, plucking the pot of Floo Powder down from the mantle, and setting it on the coffee table.

   “I don’t want to do anything that would set you against your conscience,” I reply honestly, nudging the pot towards her. “So maybe you should go home – maybe this can happen some other time when you have the confidence.”

   She is about to accept the pot when she hears my final words, and she stops – and I know that my words have hit their mark.

   “I want this,” she whispers, to herself more than anyone else.

   “Hannah –”

   “No... no, I’m not going to back out this time. Fuck, I want this!”

   I keep my expression rock-steady, keeping my mild surprise at her curse out of my expression, as she rises to her feet and circles around the coffee table to face me.

   “I want this,” she whispers, her eyes not mirrors, but candles exploding into flame.

   And then we are kissing. Passionately. My hand slips to the zipper of her dress as she kicks off her shoes, nearly kicking them into the coals of the fireplace. I can’t help but laugh for a few seconds as she pulls at my robes, towards the open door of the darkened bedroom. I let her guide me, directing me towards the bed.

   The springs creak as we land on the bed. She is on top again, and she is kissing me fiercely, having finally pulled my robes free and beginning to tug at my shirt buttons.

   “I’ll take care of these,” I assure her, unbuttoning my shirt with practiced ease and setting it aside with a careless motion. My hands then move to her dress. The zipper easily moves at my touch, exposing her smooth, naked back.

   She gives a moan as my hands slide across her back to the straps of her dress. In contrast to her energy, I take my time, slowly pulling each strap down her arms, exposing her lacy white bra and beautifully defined breasts.

  She slides her dress past her hips and onto the floor, now wearing nothing but a bra and panties. I smile as I pull the Elder Wand free of my pants’ pocket – from a quick look, it appeared her panties were still dry.

   Time to fix that.

   “What are you doing?” Hannah asks, her breath hitching slightly as I slide my free hand around her waist. Her breasts brush against my chest, and I can feel her beginning to pant against me.

   “I told you, I can work magic,” I say with a smile, guiding her back towards the bed. She sits, I wordlessly set the Elder Wand to vibrate unnoticeably, and I slowly drag it across her naked back, snipping her bra strap almost as an afterthought.

   She closes her eyes and shivers, and her bra falls free, exposing her breasts. Large as they had always been, but now with the fat worked away, they are pert and shapely. With my wand still caressing her back, I bend slightly and lick the top of her right nipple. Just a taste, but enough to make her moan.

   “Harry... that... that’s amazing –”

   I don’t respond. I don’t need to. I move to her other breast, and she quakes beneath my touch, even as my wand slides into her panties, across her buttocks...


   She bucks at the spell racing through her body, and her eyes snap wide open as I pull my wand free. The wood is moist beneath my fingers.

   “What... oh my god, Harry, that was...”

   “I think it might have been too much, I’m afraid,” I muse to myself, moving to set the Elder Wand aside. “I don’t want to –”

   “Harry, that was incredible... I can still feel it... do it again?”

   “I don’t think I should –”

   “Harry, please. I’ll do –”

   I cut her words off with a kiss, deliberately caressing her breasts as she trembles and shakes beneath me. Her hand fumbles for my pants, but while I am already quite prepared for that stage of the night, it is not yet time. Too early.

   She kisses my neck as I guide her down onto the pillows, my own tongue returning to her breasts. She closes her eyes again – and I pick up the Elder Wand. Vibrating again at my touch, I shift backwards and let the wand tug at her panties, pulling them free, revealing her moist womanhood, quivering at the wand’s very touch...

   She takes a breath in anticipation of the spell, but I don’t cast it – that would be too easy. Instead, I raise my fingers to my lips, wetting it slightly. Then without warning, I begin to touch her, stroking the inside of her thighs, sliding towards her lower lips, touching inside her to her clit –

   She begins shaking, and I can feel warm fluid on my hand. With a satisfied smile, I shift on the bed, moving up next to her, my fingers still inside her as I slide the Elder Wand beneath her neck...


   She screams for a second now as the raw wave of magic surges through her. She’s panting rapidly now, and my fingers are slick and wet as I pull my hand free.

   A deft touch of the wand turns the fluid on my hand into simple water, and it is easy to dry it on the comforter as Hannah quakes in the throes of an orgasm. I even raise my hand to my lips and taste the dampness still on my fingers. A subtle tap of my wand turns the clear moisture minty.


   “Yes, Hannah?”

   “I... I want you... please... I want... please...”

   She’s begging now. In the back of my mind, I’m a little disappointed – I thought it would be a little more difficult to coax her to this next step.

   “Very well.”

   I carefully discard my pants and underwear, taking my time to fold them and set them on a chair next to the bed. I then return to my position – and Hannah is on top of me, sliding downwards towards my erect shaft.

   I put my hand between her breasts. “Stop.”


   I fix her with a firm stare. “It’s not time for that yet. You know what I want, don’t you?”

   She pauses, still trembling. The few hairs on her arms are standing up as she nervously moves down towards the end of the bed. It is clear she’s not ready for this, but it’s too late to back out now.

   She bends, and begins to lick. Slowly, beginning at the base of my shaft and moving upwards, caressing it with surprising dexterity. A minute later, she opens her mouth as wide as she can, and begins to suck, her tongue quivering in her mouth and wet against my shaft...

   I close my eyes, and enjoy the climax. Hannah’s eyes are closed, but it is almost as if she doesn’t notice that she has swallowed my seed – namely because of a tiny spell that transforms it into nothing but cool, shimmering milk.

   She stops, and looks up at me. Nothing has leaked down her chin – impressive. Her hair is now completely dishevelled, but her eyes are still bright.

   “Harry, I want you –”

   But I’m not listening. I rise to my feet and pull on my underwear and pants with a satisfied smile. “I’m sorry, Hannah, but I need to use the bathroom. Mind excusing me for a few seconds?”

   She’s flabbergasted, speechless, at my audacity – and in all due fairness, I’m a little surprised as well. But one’s natural functions don’t wait.

   She finally regains her voice as I put my hand on the doorknob. “Harry... you’re coming back, right?”

   She’s pleading, searching for some desperate consolation that she did not do something shameful. I had seen it before – and I knew what to say.

   “Trust me, Hannah, this will just take a minute. I hope you’re ready for me.”

   Her eyes light up. “I will be,” she breathily promises. “I will be, I promise.”

   It is only a few steps to the bathroom just outside of my bedroom. Opening the door, I turn on the light and close the door tightly behind me.

   And in one sinuous move, I strike, and seize a waiting Su Li by the throat.

*          *         *

   She can’t move. Even with his fingers digging into her neck, her mind is frozen instantly, locked in a cage of fused pleasure and pain, setting her nerves on fire and preventing them from carrying any cognisant response.

   Completely helpless.

   “You honestly thought I didn’t know,” he whispers, his eyes gleaming with disdain as his arm muscles flex. “You honestly thought I didn’t see you, that I didn’t know the date, that I didn’t know your silence is fading. Your drug, your one conceit, your pleasurable addiction.”

   She doesn’t answer. She can’t answer. Even her very thoughts are lost in the torrent of ecstasy and agony. All can she can hear is the voice – his voice.

   How the mighty have fallen, his voice booming in her head now. You still have your pride, or whatever shreds of it left, enough to drive you to create a weapon that might have even killed me – had not Hermione’s spies informed me that you were making it in the Department of Mysteries. Oh yes, even though I have no desire to follow her little scheme, I have no problem subsuming her resources when I see fit.

  She can hardly think now – she can hardly stand, barely comprehending whether his voice was inside or outside her mind...

   “Silence is still your drug, your conceit, and even though you wanted to kill me, you never could have committed the deed... you love it too much to throw it all away. Almost like me... an interesting blend you have there, Su. A loving hatred, a beautiful and horrible little thing all tied to the fact that you chose it all. And now you have everything...”

   He released her throat, and suddenly, the prison of paralyzing emotions broke in her head. She could see him, stripped to the waist down – his eyes the shade of a frozen evergreen needle.

   “Everything and nothing,” he finished, putting his arm around her and kissing her lightly on the neck – and despite everything, she cannot help but tremble slightly at his touch. “I gave you your power, Su – and you chose to take it. Just like I’m giving myself to Hannah, and giving her that choice.”

   She does not speak, only stares at him with an expression that said more than any single word. You don’t need to lie to me – I see right through you. I know exactly what you are.

   His eyes harden momentarily, but then they soften. “Su, I’d like you join me and Hannah – fill two cups with one pitcher, if you catch my metaphor.”

   She caught it, and rage filled her instead – but she dared not react. She couldn’t risk the chance that he would choose to deny her another chance, and lose the magic, her control, her power.

  He smiled. Glad you agreed.

*          *          *

   Su removes her dress slowly in the bathroom, untying the back with deliberate silent grace. She takes off her shoes, and peels away her tights. She is not wearing a bra, but I raise my hand to stop her when she moves to take off her panties and gloves.

  “No, no,” I say calmly. “Those are for Hannah.”

   She throws me a look full of hatred, but I only reply with a simple smile.

   We leave the bathroom together, and return the bedroom. Unsurprisingly, Hannah’s hand is nestled between her legs.

   She looks up, and her eyes widen with surprise when she sees Su step into the room, her face completely expressionless, her eyes mirrors. “What...”

   “Hannah, this is Su,” I begin cheerfully, casually walking to the chair next to my bed. “She’s a friend of mine – and she wants exactly what you want tonight.”

   “But you promised...”

   “I did,” I cut her off in mid-sentence, “but that’s not to say Su can’t fulfill a very specific role herself.”

   “What do you mean?”

   “Well,” I say with a hint of a smile, “there’s a little charm that was cast on Su, that makes it impossible for her to pleasure herself – like you were doing – and since you’re a witch, I’d like you to break the charm.”

   “But –”

   “All you need to do,” I finish, my smile widening as I sit down and make myself comfortable, “is kiss her.”

   “But I’m not a lesbian, Harry,” she protests.

   “Good to know,” I reply, my hand slipping into my pants pocket and pulling out my holly wand. “I was a bit unsure there for a while – but it’s the only way, Hannah.”

   She still looked unsure. “But... I...”

   I rise to my feet, and before Hannah can say another word, I’m next to her on the bed. My wands are carefully tucked under the pillow, and I slowly kiss Hannah’s heck, sending a tremble down her spine. The hairs on her arms stand up again, and I can tell that she is already getting aroused.

  “It’s not difficult,” I whisper in her ear. “Come here, Su.”

   She moves with the same otherworldly grace she always has stepped with. Climbing onto the bed, she slides between Hannah’s open legs, her mirrored eyes reflecting Hannah’s arousal. I slide away, giving them both a bit of space.

   Hannah can’t look away– she’s drawn to the silent succubus entrancing her. Su is very close now. Their nipples are touching for an instant, and Su’s  gloved hand has already begun stroking Hannah’s womanhood with practiced ease. But unlike Hannah, Su makes not a sound.

   And then they kiss. It starts slow, and then Su presses down, her tongue slipping into Hannah’s mouth. Hannah looks as if she plans to raise a hand to resist – but then the hand goes down, and tears Su’s scant black panties free.

   It’s arousing to watch the two of them – such contrasts, hot and cold, normal and otherworldly, both distorted reflections of the other – but I suspect that Hannah’s reason will soon take control, and she will back away.

   Time to take over.

   I draw both wands, and while their eyes are closed, I touch their hips.


   The magic surges through them, and they kiss harder and harder. Hannah seems more gripped by the spell than Su – although it might have been that Su’s fingers had finally reached Hannah’s clit.

   But a few seconds later, it is over, and Su withdraws, sliding to the edge of the bed and off of it entirely, leaving Hannah shaking and trembling on the bed, alone and in ecstasy.

   I stand and remove my pants and underwear for a second time that night, slipping onto the bed with practiced ease. I stash my wands under the pillow again and use my free hand to begin caressing Hannah’s smooth neck.

  “Are you ready?”

   She cannot speak – she doesn’t need to. A moment later, she is on top of me, balancing herself carefully as she slides her womanhood down onto my erect shaft.

   It is magnificent.

   Her breasts touch my chest as she falls across me while I am still inside of her. I can feel her muscles within tensing and clenching, preparing for ultimate release –

   A release I will share –

   I can feel her tensing, ready to release -

   And then it happens

   Hannah lets loose a shriek as she climaxes. I relax as I do the same. My seed mixes with her fluids, and we both experience the clarion rush of ecstasy.

   The climax lasts sixty-nine seconds – surprisingly long for both of us – and then she collapses across me, panting heavily. My hands cradling her buttocks, her hands against my pillow.

   And then it hits me.

   Her hymen was already broken.

   Her hand is under my pillow now, gripping the Elder Wand, yanking it free as she rises up –


   The flash of green light blinds me, and the sound of rushing death is the only thing I can hear –

   And then it is over.

   Hannah’s naked body has fallen off of me, and I have no compunctions shoving it off of the bed, onto the floor. It lands with a sodden thump – there is no blood.

   I turn my head, and stare at Su, who is lowering her gloved arm, her face dispassionate.

   “That was close,” I say after several long seconds of silence as I work to slow my racing heart.

   She says nothing. She doesn’t need to say anything.

   “A very good actress indeed,” I continue, sitting up slightly and looking down at the body on my floor. “I wonder who sent her.”

   I turn to face Su, and smirk. “But you don’t care, do you? You couldn’t lose the magic, could you?”

   Su’s eyes are mirrors, but I can see the crack. I know her, and she knows me.

   “Then why don’t we make sure,” I whisper, rising to my feet and placing my arms around Su, “that our bargain is renewed?”

   She doesn’t need to be told twice. She pulls me into the kiss as her mirrored eyes break, revealing the hunger within. Some kind of hatred... or some kind of love.

   “One thing, first.”

   She breaks the kiss and meets my eyes.

   “Lose the glove.”

   The two of us... gifts that keep on giving.