The other members of the Order leaped to their feet at Bill Weasley’s sudden apparition right into Sirius’ kitchen. They hadn’t been aware that he’d been added to the wards in that way and Sirius just shrugged when they all turned to stare at him.
“He’s Harry’s bodyguard until September 1st. I couldn’t very well impede his ability to do his job.” Sirius turned to Bill. “You are missing a few people, young man. Where is our Harry?”
Bill pulled off his gloves with exaggerated care and focused on Dumbledore. “I’m stunned you thought I wouldn’t notice. I was troubled by Harry’s appointment with the Healer earlier in the week and I’ve been making a few discreet inquiries into the reason for his spell damage. At first, I really couldn’t believe you hadn’t bothered to even treat him for the Cruciatus Curse damage that still lingered in him from Voldemort’s rising. I was stunned when I heard about it.” He growled when people around the room winced. “But after tonight, I begin to see why you let it linger. Not only did it impede Harry’s magic but it weakened him to such a point that the kid’s link with Voldemort increased two-fold in matter of weeks.”
“I don’t…” Molly trailed off. “What are you saying, Bill?”
“Did you suppose you’d be able to use Harry’s connection with Voldemort to gather intel?” Bill questioned softly and watched Dumbledore’s eyes go wide. “Don’t go innocent on me, old man. You might fool other people in this room with your twinkling eyes and your doddering old wizard act but I do know exactly how sharp your mind is and how powerful you are.”
“I did assume his connection to the Dark Lord might increase, yes. The lingering effects of the Cruciatus Curse wasn’t damaging his magical core, so there was no harm.”
“Except for the bloody nightmares!” Sirius shouted. “He’s been having them for months.”
“He’s having visions, too.” Bill’s hand tightened into a fist. “Vicious painful visions that leave him sick with rage that isn’t even his own. He admitted it just over an hour ago. Of course, by that point—both his Healer and a Goblin War Mage were ensconced in a heavily warded underground room at Malfoy Manor doing their level best to heal him. They found what I suspected they would find.”
“What?” Remus asked. “What did they find, Bill?”
“That the Boy Who Lived is a bloody living Horcrux for Voldemort!” Bill shouted and then took a deep breath as horror rolled through their audience. Dumbledore looked singularly gutted and he paused. “You’re telling me you didn’t know?”
“Not for sure, I was afraid to probe too deeply into the spell damage when he was infant and it was contained by his own magic. When he came to Hogwarts he seemed basically unaffected by the curse scar and I didn’t dare risk touching the damage to find out what it was. I’ve come close to the mania that made Tom Riddle what he is today and as you said—I’m powerful. I also couldn’t risk discussing what I believed with others for fear that they would think the child tainted beyond redemption. How would the Wizarding world react if they knew the Boy Who Lived carried part of the Dark Lord’s soul in him?”
“I’ve sworn everyone, including the elves, in the Malfoy house to secrecy and the pact was sealed with Goblin Magic. At this point, I’m going to ask everyone in this room to take a Wizard’s Oath that they will not discuss this information with anyone outside of Harry himself now or in the future.” Bill looked around the room. “If you can’t make the oath or you’d rather forget you ever knew this—I can and will Obliviate you.”
– – – –
“What’s a Goblin War Mage?” Harry questioned softly and Hermione looked up from the book she was reading.
“They were, at one time, used to direct large armies of Goblins during the wars. They have powerful magic. Ragnok, for instance, is a War Mage. They are the most powerful magical creatures alive. Magically they are gifted in the mind arts—when I say they directed large armies, that’s what I meant. They entered the minds of thousands of goblins soldiers and moved them around like chess pieces.”
“An apt description, Miss Granger.” Healer Daniels appeared at her side with a collection of potions. “You were smart to suggest Professor Snape. He was able to bring most of what I requested and is currently in the lab with Lord Malfoy brewing the final potion we’ll need before Lenmore is ready to begin.”
Harry nodded and glanced towards the female Goblin. “This won’t hurt her, right?”
“You worry for me, young Lord?” Lenmore questioned from her place across the room.
“Voldemort is a nasty, evil thing, Madame. I would not wish to see you hurt by him or whatever he’s left in me.”
“I won’t be,” Lenmore assured.
– – – –
“No, I’m sorry. Malfoy doesn’t want any of you on his property right now. To say he is furious would be an understatement. Only Sirius and Remus are invited. Ron and Hermione won’t be allowed to stay with Harry once the spell work begins either.”
“Why the hell should Draco Malfoy have a say?” Charlie demanded.
Bill took a deep breath. “You’ll have to ask Harry at a later time, Charlie. I can’t tell you—my own Oath prevents it. Needless to say there is no one on this planet I trust more with Harry Potter than Draco Malfoy.”
“On that fact, I have no choice but to agree,” Sirius said and stood. “I trust you can take Remus and I through their wards, Bill?”
“Yes, but it would save me energy if we apparate to their front gates. Draco will be waiting on us.”
“I insist…” Dumbledore stood. “Bill, I want to be there.”
“The War Mage said specifically that you could not,” Bill murmured without a hint of apology. “You are too powerful and she fears the fragment of Voldemort’s soul might latch onto you instead before she can completely destroy it. She says you border on Dark already and assumes that only the presence of your phoenix keeps you in the Light.”
Albus sat down abruptly and nodded. “I see.”
“Good.” Bill paused and then stared at Albus. “He didn’t know he made Harry a Horcrux—he would have never set out to kill him if he’d known.”
“I know of several others—including the diary that Harry destroyed his second year at Hogwarts. I’m searching for the others,” Dumbledore admitted.
“I’m not a member of the Order,” Bill said. “And at this point the only way I will join is if you swear on your magic you will stop keeping your secrets. We could have destroyed the Horcruxes before he was ever able to rise again, especially since you’ve known about them for so long. If you can’t trust us how are we supposed to trust you?”
– – – –
“It’s going to hurt,” Harry murmured.
Lenmore inclined her head. “Very much so, but physical pain is something you are very adept at handling.”
“I had to learn the hard way,” Harry admitted and looked away from Ron and Hermione who were staring at him in horror. “The scar has been hurting off and on for a while now. Voldemort hurts me through it—I’m not sure if he knows about our connection. I think if he did, he would be trying to kill me through it.”
“I agree,” Lenmore said and walked away from the bed. “Your Vassal and Liegeman will remain during the ritual. I will need Professor Snape for potions—everyone else must stay outside the wards of the room.” She held up a hand when Ron started to protest. “I understand your desire to be with Lord Potter but your mind will be a tempting refuge for the soul fragment. You are young and innocent, Mr. Weasley. It’s best that you remain that way for now.”
Harry lifted his head as Sirius entered the room and held out a hand. “Did Draco give you the lecture?”
Sirius chuckled. “Yes, I am to be on my best behavior in his home or he will chain me to the wall in the dungeon where upon I will remember Azkaban fondly until he feels I’ve suffered enough for my rudeness.”
“He’s such a Slytherin,” Harry complained and waved a hand towards Snape who was leaning against the wall. “He’s been pouring potions down my throat for the past two hours. I’ve never been so bloody wasted in my life.” He smirked then. “It’s pretty great.”
Sirius glanced briefly at Snape but contented himself to brushing hair from Harry’s forehead. “I think I should probably lecture you for getting wasted. I’m sure your mother would have wanted me to.”
Harry grinned. “Would she have been the kind to say my whole name?”
“Yes,” Snape and Sirius answered at the same time. The two men shared a surprised look and then a smirk.
Sirius laughed. “In fact, she often used your father’s full name in school and after school when he got on her last nerve. While she was giving birth to you—she cursed him and six generations of Potters for her suffering. The Birthing Charms weren’t working on her and your mother was convinced it was because the Healer was a Dark Lord sympathizer out to make her suffer as much as possible and James laughed at her.”
“That prat,” Harry slurred. “How dare he laugh at my mother.”
“Exactly so,” Sirius murmured. “She got him with a stinging hex. The only spell she could do wandless.”
“I want to learn wandless… Dobby says I can.” Harry shuddered.
“It’s time for the next potion,” Severus murmured. He moved forward and prodded Sirius aside.
“Let me,” Sirius murmured reaching for the vial.
“No, you are here to comfort him. He doesn’t expect anything but grief from me.” Severus slid his hand under Harry’s head and tipped his gently. “Open your mouth, Potter. This is the last of them.”
“Nasty,” Harry muttered before he complied. He gagged on the potion but Snape tilted his head further until he had no choice but to swallow. “You bastard.”
“I’m going to take a hundred points from you, Mr. Potter, at the first opportunity.”
Harry coughed and waved a hand negligently at Snape. “I’ll still kick Draco’s ass at quidditch because I’m awesome.”
Draco laughed from the doorway. “I heard that Potter.”
“You know I’m awesome,” Harry muttered and sighed. He turned to his godfather. “He’s really pretty, you know. Kind of like a girl but better.”
Sirius chuckled and leaned forward. He kissed Harry’s forehead with a smile. “You’re going to seriously regret this if you remember it.”
“Well thank fuck I won’t remember,” Harry replied. “The goblin lady said I won’t.” He gripped Sirius shirt then. “It’s going to hurt worse than anything ever, Sirius and she promised I wouldn’t remember it.”
“You won’t, young wizard,” Lenmore murmured. “Lord Black, you will have to retreat to the outer room so we can begin.”
– – – –
Draco pressed a strap of leather into Harry’s mouth as Snape rendered him immobile. He ran his fingers through Potter’s thick hair almost mindlessly and took a deep breath. “I’m right here, Harry, and I won’t leave you. I’ll be here the whole time.” He continued petting him. “It can’t hurt me because of my Oath to you. Oddly enough Snape’s Dark Mark will probably protect him. Everything will be fine.” He huffed. “And I’m not pretty like a girl.”
“You kind of are,” Ron offered through the invisible wards. They were all crowded against the doorway—even though they could no longer enter the space. “I mean, I used to not get what people saw in you. Maybe it’s that shirt but you’re kind of pretty all of a sudden.”
“I think it’s the hair,” Hermione said thoughtfully. “I just to want to play with it.”
Sirius snorted. “It’s his Family magic. The Malfoys are powerful and with that kind of power comes attraction.”
Draco tried to smile, aware they were trying to distract him from what was to come. Harry’s eye lids were fluttering under the powerful potions Snape had dosed him with. He knew it wouldn’t be enough once the Goblin started casting. He glanced towards Healer Daniels. “Why did I put a strap in his mouth?”
“To keep him from breaking his jaw or biting his tongue in half,” Daniels murmured. “I’ll probably have to work on him for days after this but the any injuries we can prevent we should try to prevent.”
“Right.” Draco took the cloth that Dobby offered him and washed Harry’s face carefully. “He’s broken a sweat.”
“Then it is time.”
Lenmore moved to the end of the narrow cot Harry had been strapped to and cast loose her magical power with such force that Snape staggered briefly before he sank to his knees next to Draco. Harry bowed up off the bed and then he screamed—it was the most horrific sound Draco had ever heard in his life.
The sound was inhuman but also unlike any animal he’d ever been exposed to. Beside him, Dobby started to cry and scramble to sooth his human Master. Harry’s curse scar started to bleed within minutes and then a black mist started to rise out of his body. It was in a word, horrific. There was nothing for it. Harry clenched his teeth and started to sob uncontrollably. Tears and blood mixed on his face despite Dobby’s efforts to clean the blood away.
The mist flowed around the room—first trying to find a haven in Draco but it was immediately repelled by a dark green light. Snape hissed in pain when it tried to approach him and then the mist flowed into a tight mass where it writhed and a piercing sound burst from it.
Harry started to scream again and his body snapped upward as he tried to free himself from the ropes. Lenmore’s eyes rolled into the back of her head and just as Draco thought she was going to fail the mist evaporated and Harry slumped in a dead faint. Dobby, Snape, and then Lenmore followed.
Draco took a deep breath and looked towards the doorway. The pale faces and the silence said all there was to say.
– – – –
Sirius stumbled up the stairs and into a small bathroom as Narcissa and Remus appeared from the doorway of the library. It had been decided that they would both remain above during the ritual. Narcissa for appearances sake in case they had visitors and Remus because he was a Dark creature and they weren’t sure how the ritual would go if he was near.
He lost his dinner and collapsed on the tile. “Merlin.”
“It’s done?” Remus questioned.
Sirius nodded. “Yes, the Healer is getting him ready to bring up stairs. He’s… he struggled so much that he broke his wrist and dislocated his shoulder.” He accepted the wet cloth he was offered and rubbed at this face roughly. “There is… nothing we can do to make up for what he’s suffered. I have dishonored my role as a godfather in such a way that I don’t even understand how I still have my magic.”
“Nothing that has happened to Harry is your fault,” Narcissa snapped.
“If I hadn’t lost my temper and gone after Peter… I could have taken Harry away, protected him from Dumbledore’s plans and those vicious Muggles. I made stupid, immature mistakes and Harry paid for them! I never should have suggested Peter be the Secret Keeper. I should have accepted my responsibility to James and Lily.” Sirius closed his eyes and let his head fall back against the wall.
“It was a good choice at the time, no one would have ever expected Peter to be the Secret Keeper.” Remus slid to his knees beside him and ran his fingers through Sirius’ hair. “He betrayed us all, Siri, and nothing could have prepared us for that.”
Narcissa leaned in the doorway and watched them for several minutes before she cleared her throat. “I’ve managed to send a message to Wormtail. He thinks he’s coming here to talk to my son about joining the Dark Lord.” She smirked when both men turned to stare at her shocked. “Once I have him in custody—I thought I’d torture him for a few days and then take him to the Goblin Court where upon he will be forced to reveal his misdeeds to the world.”
“You are beautiful,” Sirius said without a single hesitation. “And kind of evil, but I like it.”
She smirked and shrugged. “I’ll go prepare a room for Harry’s recovery and then it’s probably a good idea for one of you to retrieve Mrs. Weasley. She will want to see her children and Harry.”
– – – –
Shouting woke Harry and it wasn’t much of a surprise—shouting often woke Harry from a dead sleep during the school hear. Seamus and Dean were always fighting first thing in the morning. He sat up abruptly and rubbed his face. One glance around the elegantly appointed room told him he was still at Malfoy Manor.
He pulled on a robe but didn’t bother belting it as he left the room and followed the source of the extreme amount of noise and found Sirius and Snape shouting at each other – both of them with their wands drawn.
Draco was lounging in a chair, watching them and looking quite bored with it. He waved at Harry when he saw him and Harry just sort of lost it.
“What the hell is going on in here?” Harry shouted, his voice hoarse. Snape and Sirius both turned to look at him, shocked. “No, you know what? I don’t give a damn what’s going on in here. The two of you are going to drive me completely insane. Since you’ve barely seen each other in over fourteen years—you can only be arguing about stuff that happened when you were in school. Which makes you both look and sound ridiculous and petty. In case you missed it, you bloody wankers, I feel like I got run over by a Dementor. My head hurts, my arm hurts, my back hurts, and all I want to do is sleep.” He turned to glare at Draco. “And shame on you for letting them carry on like this. Kick them both out so I can sleep.”
Draco stood up abruptly and sighed. “Alright then, Severus—Hogwarts and Sirius—back to Headquarters with you, and perhaps you two can work out your differences before you make the young and gorgeous Lord Potter lose his ever loving mind.”
Snape glared at his godson. “You’d take his side?”
“I took Potter’s side weeks ago and I will remain on his side until he draws his last breath. I have apologized to every Weasley within reach for my behavior and sent letters to other students at Hogwarts apologizing for my poor treatment of them. That took a week, I’ll have you both know. I sent formal apologies to three different House Elves because if Harry knew how I treated them he would be furious with me. Now if I can do that—the least the two of you can do is have your little unresolved sexual tension induced fights out of his hearing, no matter how much it might amuse me to watch.”
Draco sighed and left the room, disappointed at the loss of his entertainment and little irritated with himself for letting it go on so close to Harry. He should have realized he would wake up but it had been a full day since the ritual and Lenmore said he might sleep as much as a week. He found Harry sitting at a small table in the room he’d been given with a meal set out in front of him. Dobby was fussing quietly with several potions.
Draco took a chair across from him and shook his head when Dobby offered him food. “I’m sorry, Harry.”
“It’s…” Harry waved his fork and chewed moodily on a piece of bacon. “It’s insane the way they fight. I don’t know what happened between them as kids but there has to be a time and a place where that stuff gets set aside.”
“You look exhausted,” Draco murmured as Harry pushed away the half-eaten plate of food. “Take your nutrient potion and we’ll tuck you back into bed.”
– – – –
“It is all good and well we took the fragment from him when we did,” Lenmore murmured her gaze drifting around Dumbledore’s office. “He would have never survived the procedure as a child. His Family magic is very strong. The room was thick with it after I was able to extract the dark piece from him.”
“Did it damage him?” Moody questioned. “Can we trust him to be… on the side of the Light?” His magical eye whirled gently when several people protested his question. “It needs to be asked!”
“Lily Potter died for the love of her child. She sacrificed her life to protect him. That is ancient blood magic—there are very few things more powerful in this world than a mother’s love,” Lenmore began. “Lord Potter has been wrapped in that love his entire life—even after her murder. It protected him from the cruel people he lived with, healed him, kept him alive when he was physically and emotionally abused. If he was going to be Dark—he would have turned long ago. Darkness does not brew in the mind of a wizard overnight. It takes years to develop, to nurture, and to grow into the thing we see when we look at Tom Riddle.” Lenmore looked at Dumbledore then. “Sometimes, the Darkness lingers in a soul that was once close to turning but then chose a different path due to trauma.” She looked at Snape. “Harry Potter is strong, his mind is agile, and he comes from a family line built on pure and wild magic. The love of fifteen generations dwells in him.”
“He is safe then,” Albus murmured. “That’s what you’re saying.”
“I’m saying, Albus, that Harry Potter’s magic is Pure and Light in ways we have not seen in a wizard in more than a thousand years. Harry Potter is capable of powerful things and now that he is no longer hindered by the soul fragment of that foul creature—he will prove himself worthy of the prophecies that surround him.” She paused and laughed at his startled expression. “You can’t think that your witch Seer was the only one to foresee the destruction of the Dark Lord at the hands of Harry Potter?”
“There is more than one?” Moody questioned.
Lenmore inclined her head. “Of course, such is the way of great men and those that chose the path of righteousness. He’s fierce of heart, strong of spirit, and the virtual embodiment of justice in this world. He is capable of wielding the Light and the Dark Arts with equal ease but his intent will always be Light—even when he is forced to kill to defend himself. I would advise all in this room to remember that he is not one that can be managed and controlled.”
– – – –
“How are things at Potter Manor?” Harry questioned.
“Theys ready for you, Master Harry, I tells Willaby that you were ill but you are better now.”
Harry nodded and looked around his office. “Can you ask Bill if he’s available for travel today? I’d like to see Potter Manor at least once before I return to school.”
Dobby blinked away as Hedwig flew through the window and perched on the small pedestal by the desk. Harry retrieved the letter she had tied to her leg and gave her a treat.
Your Muggle relatives are demanding to see you. I have a branch of my office in Muggle London and your Uncle has shown up twice demanding that we produce you or he will tell the Muggle authorities that you’ve been kidnapped.
Riser, Mills & Coats
Harry sighed and then looked up as Bill entered the room. “My Uncle Vernon is threatening to report me kidnapped if he doesn’t see me immediately.”
Bill grimaced. “I can take you to the house?”
“That works,” Harry pulled picked up his wand and slid it into the narrow holster built into his jeans and ran his hands through his hair. “I thought they were still on their vacation and I told them I never wanted to see them again.”
Bill offered him his hand with a sigh and they apparated.
The little house on Privet Drive didn’t look any different to Harry but the dread he’d always experienced at the sight of the place was gone. The wards flexed slightly as they passed through them and Harry frowned. He’d never noticed them before so it was interesting to feel them now. He knocked briskly on the door and it was thrown open immediately by Dudley who glared at him.
“Dad’s been trying to find you for days, Freak.”
“You’ll mind your mouth,” Bill said evenly. “Or I’ll be forced to do a hell of a lot more to you than give you a pig’s tail.” He prodded Harry into the house and glared at Dudley some more.
“Are your parents here?”
“Her and Dad are in the kitchen. She’s been a nutter since your birthday. I don’t know what you did, but you’d better fix it.”
Harry frowned but followed Dudley into the kitchen area where he found his Aunt and Uncle sitting at the table. His Aunt was staring into her tea with a blank look on her face and Vernon was bitching at her.
Vernon spotted Harry and demanded, “What have you done to her, Freak?”
Bill pulled his wand.
“Relax,” Harry touched his arm. “They can’t help how stupid they are. Something is obviously wrong with her. Can you check her out?”
Bill glared briefly at Harry, pointed his wand at Petunia, and cast a medical diagnostic charm. He blinked briefly in surprise as he ended the charm and sighed. “Right. Okay.”
“What is it?”
“She never had enough magic to be trained as witch but she wasn’t exactly a squib either. However, how she allowed you to be treated in her home was such an affront to magic itself that when you claimed your title—she lost what little magic she had. Her body and mind are adjusting to the change but, she needs a Healer to completely heal.” Bill winced when Vernon exploded so he tossed a stupefying spell at him without hesitation. “We can obliviate him so he doesn’t lose his mind on her.”
“Can you help her?” Dudley demanded.
“She needs medical care, obviously,” Bill said snidely. “Else she might do herself in. The loss of one’s magic is very traumatic even if they are unaware that they have it at all.” He turned to Harry. “We’ll have to take her to a special Healer.”
“Right.” Harry grimaced. “We need to obliviate Uncle Vernon and convince him that Aunt Petunia is going through a depression and he’s sent her to a private clinic.” He turned to Dudley. “Do you need to be obliviated, too? Because if you’re going to abuse her for what she once was…”
“She’s my mum!” Dudley protested. “I just want her better and I don’t care what you do with Dad just as long as he doesn’t hurt her.”
“Right.” Harry frowned and turned to Bill. “You said a few weeks. Can we make sure he isn’t concerned about the bill or anything that might lead him questioning her absence?”
“Not a problem,” Bill said. “She’ll need to spend a few weeks at a clinic. Losing any amount of magic through bad acts is a difficult thing to overcome, but they’ll set her to rights.”
“Right, but not St. Mungo’s.” Harry frowned. “I don’t want her at the mercy of Fudge and his cronies. She might not understand what it means to be Family but I do.”
– – – –
The clinic was located in Scotland, only about a hundred miles from Hogwarts. Harry liked the look of it and his Aunt just looked around listlessly as they checked in. The Healer assigned to her case entered the room with an elegant sweep of his robes.
Petunia shivered and shifted away from him immediately. Harry thought to himself that he’d never seen his aunt so quiet and so completely cowed in his life. He hated it but found he couldn’t quite hate her.
“We keep those who have lost their magic in a group ward two floors down.”
Harry frowned, that would be underground. He looked around the sunlit private room they’d already been escorted into and shook his head. “My Aunt will stay here.” He turned to stare head on at the Healer when he made a negative sound. “My Aunt will stay here. She has lived as a Muggle her entire life and had very little magic to begin with. In fact, she had so little she was never invited to a magical school. She didn’t know she had magic and she’s afraid of it. You will not house her in a spell damage ward or in the basement of this facility.”
“Most who lose their magic are disowned by their family and they hardly care where they are housed during treatment,” the Healer returned stiffly.
“Are you aware of who I am?”
“One would have to be an idiot not to know who you are, young man.”
“Good. My Aunt will receive the best of care in this nice room I’m paying for. She will be treated with respect and dignity at all times. She will not be threatened with magic nor will you be her Healer. I don’t like you. Get out and send in someone in with some compassion or I will be spending my money with a different clinic.”
Bill snorted as the Healer hurried away. “The attitude is gorgeous, kid.”
Harry grinned and glanced towards the older Weasley. “You’re just lucky I’m trying to tame a dragon or I’d climb in your lap. Then what would your mum say about you corrupting the Boy Who Lived?”
Bill leaned against the wall and sighed. “Nothing good I imagine. I’d probably get howlers for years.” He grinned then and shrugged. “But I think it would be worth it. Though she’s always has had her heart on you marrying into the family. Ginny has a wicked crush on you.”
“She doesn’t really know me,” Harry murmured and then sighed just before another Healer came into the room.
“Lord Potter, I am Emily St. James. I took a NEWT in Muggle Studies as well as Charms and Transfiguration. I have a Masteries in both Healing and the Mind Arts. One of my children lives as a Muggle in London due to his squib status.” She folded her hands in front of her as she spoke. “I’m very adept at dealing with Muggles and I’ve been told your Aunt fears magic.”
“To an exaggerated degree,” Harry admitted. “Her husband is an abusive and vile man who would probably throw her in the streets if he’d ever thought she was remotely magical. I won’t have her mistreated by anyone here. She can’t really help the way she is now.”
“Your position is commendable under the circumstances,” Amelia murmured. “And I will undertake her care personally. I can also see her returned to her home in a few weeks time.”
“Her husband should not see you. He must not suspect she’s had magical treatment as he would likely throw her and their child in the street.”
Emily flushed with anger but nodded. “Very well. I will make sure he does not see me and that she receives the proper medical care.”
Harry nodded and then focused on Petunia. He knelt down on one knee in front of her and she looked at him—her eyes blurry and uncertain. “Aunt Petunia, you’re going to stay here with Emily and she’s going to set you to rights. Uncle Vernon won’t remember what happened today but if you ever need my help—you can contact my solicitor, okay? I’m going to make sure your bills for this clinic are taken care of and Mr. Riser will be checking on you. Did you want me to come back and check on you as well?”
Petunia shook her head. “You’re busy now. Better off without us, without me.”
Harry winced. “Aunt Petunia, you are the only connection I have with my mother and I respect that. I can’t say I was ever happy in your home but I do realize that Vernon was mostly to blame.”
“He scares me sometimes,” Petunia murmured. “It’s been better with you gone. He hates you so much, Harry. Hates you for your money and your power.”
“He hated me when I had neither,” Harry reminded dryly.
“Even when you were a small baby—the magic in you was obvious. Sometimes you just glowed with it and you were so beautiful.” Petunia sighed wistfully. “I should have left him then—when he made me ignore your crying. I’m a horrible person, Harry. You shouldn’t care what these people do to me.”
“I do care,” Harry said and touched her hand carefully. “I care very much and Merlin help the person who mistreats you while you’re here.”
Harry stood and then left the room quickly to keep from saying more. He turned as St. James followed him out. “Her husband’s name is Vernon Dursley—I doubt seriously he’ll find her here. We have him convinced she’s seeking treatment for depression and that she’ll be home in a few weeks. I expect twice weekly reports on her progress and you’re authorized to perform any procedure on her that will see her healthy and mentally stable. If she asks for me, I expect to be notified immediately. If she asks for someone named Dudley—that’s her son. Tell her he’s returned to school and she’ll see him for Christmas holidays.”
“Of course, Lord Potter.”
Harry nodded and then paused. “And that other Healer? I don’t want him anywhere near my Aunt while she recovers. No exceptions.”
“He’ll be given a few weeks off to recover from his poor attitude,” Amelia promised.
– – – –
Harry took a deep breath as they reappeared in front of the house on Privet Drive. “You can tune the wards so I’ll be notified if he starts hitting her or Dudley?”
“Yeah,” Bill murmured and closed his eyes. “You’re too good a person, Harry. She let him abuse you for years and she let you starve.”
“People will do a lot of evil things to survive, Bill.” Harry frowned as Dudley came out the front door. “Where is your Dad?”
“He went to the store to stock up microwave food,” Dudley shoved his hands into his pockets and frowned at Bill. “What’s he doing?”
“He’s updating the protective wards around the house so I’ll be notified if your Dad hits you or your mother,” Harry said bluntly. “I won’t be coming back here unless I have no choice. The wards also prevent magical people who aren’t authorized from coming into the house. It protects you.”
Dudley nodded. “Right. Okay. Is my Mum, okay?”
“She’s ill but she’ll recover,” Harry looked up and down the street. He really hated the street and most of the people who lived there. The neighbors had always ignored him or treated him with disdain. His Uncle had made sure he had no refuge. “Just don’t make a mistake and let it slip to your Dad, Dudley. I don’t know how he would… he’d probably kill her before I could get here.”
“I can protect my own Mum,” Dudley snapped and then stalked back into the house.
– – – –
Harry pulled off his robe and hung it up on a hook on by the door before settling into his desk to frown. When he and Bill had returned Moody had tried to lecture him about leaving the house without notice. Harry hadn’t even had the energy to respond—he’d just walked out of the kitchen while Moody bitched and complained.
The thumps of Moody coming up the stairs irritated the hell out of him. He wasn’t surprised when Professor McGonagall glided gracefully into the room shortly before Moody. She’d been seated in the kitchen with Molly when they’d appeared. Mrs. Weasley was directly behind Moody as he entered.
“Are you trying to get yourself killed?” Moody bellowed.
Harry frowned at him. “I had family business to take care of and I’m not required to answer to anyone regarding my comings and goings from this house. If you don’t like it—I’ll spend the rest of the summer in one of my own residences, Moody. My godfather requested that I stay here and so far I’ve seen no reason not to indulge him. That can change if you refuse to treat me politely.”
Moody glared. “You might have the others around here cowed into thinking you’ll just disappear but I don’t buy it for a minute. I heard you screaming in your miserable little room on Privet Drive for weeks. You’re not going to give up the security of staying with your godfather and if you don’t start walking the line—I’ll take that Black bastard back in Azkaban myself. Do I make myself clear?”
“Alastor!” Minerva snapped. “How dare you threaten Harry that way.”
Harry stood. “Dobby!”
Dobby appeared immediately at his side. “Yes, Master Harry.”
“Go find my godfather immediately and take him to Potter Manor. He stays there until I arrive. I don’t care what he has to say on the matter.”
Dobby disappeared immediately and then Harry focused on Moody. “Here are some facts for you, Moody. I don’t trust you. Probably through no fault of your own—I might never trust you. Every time I look at you I think about the Tri-Wizard Tournament and what that event cost me. It probably isn’t fair but I blame you. I blame you for your weakness, for getting captured and used by an insane Death Eater. I blame you for the nightmares I had for months about being burned alive by a dragon. I blame you for the fact that if I get near a body of water bigger than a bloody bathtub I freeze up on the inside and that sometimes I still have nightmares about Ron drowning, and most of all I blame you for the nightmares you so callously threw in my face. I watched a living, breathing nightmare be reborn when I was forced to be an instrument in the resurrection of my own mortal enemy.”
“Harry,” Molly whispered softly, clearly horrified.
Harry glanced at her briefly before continuing. “And for you to stand here in Sirius’ home and threaten to take him back to Azkaban when you know he’s innocent makes me sick.”
Harry used his thumb to activate Mehen and the metal snake shifted on his wrist and hissed. He hissed out the word “Sanctuary” in response and disappeared.
– – – –
He stumbled and landed on his arse in the middle of the Malfoy’s foyer with a disgruntled curse. Draco’s personal house elf, Elbe, appeared at his side and looked him over, clearly amused. “Master Draco’s Serpent is not graceful.”
Harry frowned at the elf. “Master Draco’s house elf is quite rude.”
“That’s why I picked him,” Draco said with a small laugh from the landing in the middle of the large staircase. “Not that you don’t make a gorgeous sprawl on that Italian marble, Harry, but don’t think it’s time you mastered using a portkey?”
Harry sighed and stood up. “Mad Eye Moody threatened to throw Sirius in Azkaban if I didn’t start obeying his orders. So I had Dobby kidnap Sirius and take him to Potter Manor. It’s unplottable and I came here for a short stop before I call my Head House Elf and check out my main estate for the rest of the summer. I’ll have to get Dobby to do my school shopping for me.”
Draco inclined his head. “Can I come along?”
“Your mum won’t mind?”
Draco shook his head. “She’s not here. She’s in Paris taking a few lessons from my Father’s brother on capturing an Animagus.” He lifted an eyebrow. “You did, after all, set her on taking care of Wormtail. I assure you she’s quite taken with the idea of torturing the truth out of him.”
Harry laughed. “Okay. Yeah, send her a note though so she won’t worry.” He frowned. “So how I do I call my Head Elf? I’ve never met him.”
“You Muggle,” Draco accused with no small amount of affection. “Just say his name with intent like you would Dobby. He’s connected to you through Family magic.”
“Right.” Harry nodded. “Willaby!”
The elf that appeared in front of him looked quite youthful and was dressed in a little suit made of pillow cases much like the one Dobby had worn briefly before becoming Harry’s Vassal. His vest was made of a tea towel and he had the Potter crest on his pocket.
“Lord Potter,” Willaby bowed formally. “Your Vassal has delivered Lord Black to Potter Manor and he is quite upset.”
Harry just bet. “Right. I’m sure he is. Can you take me there and then return here in a half-hour to bring Lord Malfoy?”
“Of course,” Willaby said and offered his hand.
– – – –
“Dobby, you little bastard, you release me this very second!”
“Hey,” Harry exclaimed with a laughed and then flicked his wand over the ropes on Sirius. The bonds fell away. “Don’t attack him—he was just following orders.”
Sirius glared. “You…”
“Moody threatened to return you to Azkaban if I didn’t start following his instructions,” Harry snapped and then took a deep breath. “So I had Dobby kidnap you. Sorry.”
Sirius frowned. “That bastard.” He reached out and pulled Harry to him—aware that the younger man was shaking.
Harry buried his face against Sirius’ robes and fisted his hands against his back. “Don’t… you’re all the family I have, Sirius and I won’t let anyone take you from me. If the Ministry recaptured you, I’d probably tear Azkaban to the ground to get you back.”
Sirius ran his fingers through his hair. “It’s okay. I’m sorry for losing my temper, pup.” He glanced at Dobby who was standing off to the side of the room, ears quivering. “My apologies, Dobby. I know you were just doing your duty.”
– – – –
“Are you out of your bloody mind?” Remus demanded. “You threatened Sirius?”
Moody glared. “The kid barely knows the man. How was I to know he’d take it like that? You know I didn’t mean it.”
“Sirius Black is the only parent Harry has left,” Albus murmured. “I have worked day and night for over a year to keep him out of the hands of the Ministry for Harry. When we found out he was innocent of the charges—Harry came to me and begged me to keep him safe. I gave him a Wizard’s Oath that I would do everything within my power to see Sirius safe until we could safely prove him innocent of the charges.”
“Your gross misconduct has insured that Harry may never learn to trust the Order,” Minerva snapped and crossed her arms. “I expected better of you, Moody, but perhaps that was mistake.” She glared at him briefly and turned to stare pointedly at the fire.
“Do we know where the Potter Manor is?” Moody demanded, glaring at Remus.
Remus shook his head. “And even if I did know—I wouldn’t tell anyone in this room.” He blinked when a house elf appeared abruptly in front of him. The elf glanced around the room, glared at Moody, and then held out his hand for Remus. Lupin shrugged and took it.
Sirius was standing in front of him the next thing he knew and the elf had released his hand. “Are you okay?”
Remus inclined his head. “Albus is throwing quite the fit. Minerva looks like she wants to put Moody in detention for a decade.”
Sirius jerked his head towards the stairs. “Our young Lord Potter is upstairs getting a tour. The elves are very eager to have him here so I don’t expect we’ll get much rest.” He checked his watch and didn’t appear surprised when Willaby returned with Draco Malfoy and several trunks in tow. He looked over the trunks. “You certainly don’t travel light.”
Draco flushed. “Only two are mine. The third is Harry’s new wardrobe. It was delivered this morning.” Sirius grinned and Draco blushed further. “Stop looking at me like that, Black, it’s… kind of sexy and that’s weird since we’re cousins.”
“Distant cousins,” Sirius said with a bright smile.
“I’d hate to have to put you down, Padfoot,” Harry said from the top of the staircase. “I don’t think I’ll ever encounter another Animagus in my entire life with a more appropriate form.”
Sirius smirked. “Except maybe you. You’ve gotten slinky on us, pup.”
Harry inclined his head and then his gaze settled on Draco. “You wanna see?”
“How can you even ask me that question?” Draco demanded.
Harry closed his eyes.
Draco took a deep breath at the seamless and near instant transformation. Harry flowed down the staircase, taking one step as human before going snake on them. The boa constrictor was huge—sleek, black, and so entrancing that he didn’t even move as Harry slithered over his feet. “Sweet Merlin, Potter. There a wizards and witches in my family that would forfeit a limb for this form.”
Harry curled his tail briefly around Draco’s leg and then abruptly shifted human a mere inch from his friend. “It’s the most fun. You would not believe how sexy it feels sliding around like that.”
“I can take a guess,” Draco admitted a little breathless. “How about you give me a tour of your bedroom?”
Harry laughed. “Despite rumors to the contrary, Draco, Gryffindors are not easy.” He curled his hand into Malfoy’s. “I will, however, show you where you’ll be staying. Leave the trunks—the house elves will take care of them.”
“I’m easy,” Sirius corrected. “In fact, most Gryffindors I knew in school were easy.”
“Orgies were common,” Remus agreed and then grinned when both boys turned to look at them. “Mostly sixth and seventh years.”
Harry pointed at him and frowned. “My mother never participated in an orgy!”
Sirius grinned. “No, of course not. Lily and James actually got engaged sixth year.”
– – – –
Draco applied his Seal and sat back as he watched Mr. Riser and his own solicitor, Joseph Wilbanks, check the duplication on the contracts. The original would go to Gringotts to be sealed and the two copies would be filed with their lawyers for records purposes.
Cecil Riser cleared his throat. “Could I ask about the company name?”
Harry grinned and set aside the quill he’d be playing with. “He’s my Dragon.”
“And he’s my Serpent,” Draco murmured in returned.
The two solicitors exchanged glances and Riser cleared his throat. “In that case, should we be investigating current bond laws and heir management for same sex marriages?”
Harry grinned. “Well, I don’t suppose it would hurt for you to be prepared.”
“Agreed,” Draco said with a small shrug.
“Your merger would be one of the most powerful and profitable in recent times,” Wilbanks offered, trying to appear unexcited by the prospect but failing miserably. “Between the two of you’d have your fingers in every major endeavor in most of magical Europe.”
“Right now we’ll settle for buying the Daily Prophet. We’d like to own the majority of the shares by the end of business day tomorrow. Then you’ll want to hire an outside solicitor to act as the public face for the new company—someone not connected with me or Harry.”
“That person will lay down the law with the editorial staff of the paper—they can’t publish anything based on rumor or speculation. The Daily Prophet shouldn’t be a gossip rag, it should be legitimate news,” Harry murmured. “We’re going to need honest reporting once the war starts.”
“Right,” Draco agreed. “They should be free and clear of Ministry influence as soon as possible. We aren’t interested in curtailing what they report as long as it is done honestly and based on fact.”
“Even if it reflects poorly on one of you or your families?” Wilbanks questioned.
“Even so,” Draco raised an eyebrow when Wilbanks started to respond. “I realize that’s not how my father did things, Joseph, but I have a clean slate with the Wizarding world in no small part due to his final actions on this Earth. I’d like to honor my father’s sacrifice with an honest life. That means I’m not going to buy people off if Uncle Leenus gets drunk and sleeps with six Muggle hookers in Monte Carlo again.”
Harry choked on his tea. “He didn’t!”
“He did,” Draco said dryly. “He’s half-Veela, Potter, a product of my grandfather’s second marriage. I’m fortunate it was just six the last time. He has never found his mate… so after he did his duty by fathering two sons, he got divorced and has proceeded to fuck his way across the planet.” He waved a hand lazily. “A sex scandal might do the Family some good anyways. Might be nice if the Malfoy family was in the papers for something besides being chattel to a Dark Lord.”
Wilbanks snorted and then managed to school his expression. “As you wish, Lord Malfoy.”
– – – –
Harry shuddered as Draco’s mouth sealed against the side of his neck. He curled his fingers into the pale mane of hair that Malfoy had taken on since his father’s death. It fell thick, beautiful and silky down past his shoulders. He’d mumbled something about a growth charm when Harry had mentioned it.
They settled on the bed in a tangle of clothed limbs, content with kisses and a small bit of exploration. Draco lifted his head and brushed Harry’s hair from his forehead with a small frown. “The scar faded some, you know.”
Harry nodded. “Lenmore said I’d never get rid of it but it was would eventually fade to almost white now that the curse damage has been healed.” He bit down on his bottom lip briefly. “I know it’s ugly.”
Draco frowned and shifted to his side slightly. “You can’t possibly think that scar makes you ugly, Harry.”
Harry shrugged and looked away. “People find me attractive because of my magical power or my money or the fame. I don’t know.”
“I liked you the first time I saw you—when you were dressed in Muggle rags and I didn’t even know your name. Granted, I was eleven so it wasn’t like I was thinking of sex but when I wanted to be your friend… it wasn’t about any of that. I didn’t know you’d be powerful or rich or even that you were the Boy Who Lived.” He pressed a soft kiss against the corner of Harry’s mouth. “You’re changing pretty rapidly, you know. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but you’ve probably gained two or three inches in height in the past three weeks. You’re also filling out very nicely,” he whispered trailing his hand down the center of Harry’s chest.
Harry blushed furiously. “I noticed. Dobby has been hard pressed to keep up with me on the growth front. He’ll be pleased with the new wardrobe. He says he can put permanent charms on the clothes because they were tailored for me and not bought off the rack.”
“He’s right,” Draco murmured and propped his head on one hand. “It is true, however, that your Family magic is changing your magical aura and it has made you insanely attractive. But I wanted to crawl on top of you last year—when you were still scrawny and just pretty powerful on your own.” He frowned. “That you were the Boy Who Lived was a problem actually. I figured my father would never allow me to pursue you seriously as long as Voldemort was a threat.”
“Did he know that you wanted me?” Harry questioned.
Draco flushed. “I think he understood that my feelings toward you weren’t what he would have preferred.”
There was a knock on the door before Harry could reply and they reluctantly separated to slide off the bed. Draco sat down in a chair near the dormant fire place while Harry went to answer it.
Sirius offered him a folded piece of paper. “Dumbledore has managed to get a letter through the wards. I don’t think he knows where we are.”
“He used Fawkes to find me,” Harry guessed and Sirius nodded. “That’s not surprising; I have his tears in me.”
“What do you mean?” Draco asked. “Why would Fawkes cry for you?”
Harry glanced out into the hall and saw Remus frowning. “It happened first when I went down into the Chamber of Secrets after Ginny Weasley.”
“The basilisk bit you?” Sirius questioned softly, horror tingeing his voice.
Harry shrugged. “Yeah, I honestly didn’t even know I was dying until Fawkes landed on me and cried into the wound. Madame Pomfrey mentioned the bite in my medical report when she healed me after the problem but I’ve never really talked about it to anyone.”
He walked away from them and opened the letter from Dumbledore.
Words can cannot express how worried I am about you. I hope you are safe but as I’ve had no opportunity to inspect the wards around Potter Manor… I’m unsure. I trust that Sirius and Remus are with you at this point. It’s disappointing but understanding that you no longer trust the Order with your family.
Moody would like the opportunity to apologize but we are aware that you not in the frame of mind to listen to it. Trust me when I say that I’ve made him very aware of your position and your importance in the war against Voldemort.
I have secured a very experienced and respected teacher for DADA this year and I believe you will be pleased.
Also, please be aware that Minister Fudge has managed to put Delores Umbridge into Hogwarts as the Divination teacher. I have taken the liberty of removing you from her class – so if you feel that you need instruction on that subject, we can arrange a private tutor for next summer. If you have classes you’d prefer to take instead, please let Minerva know.
Headmaster Albus Dumbledore
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
The Order of Merlin
Harry sighed. “We’re getting a new DADA teacher and Umbridge has been planted into the school by Fudge to spy on me. Apparently replacing Trelawney in Divination. Dumbledore removed me from her class as a precaution.”
“Well, it isn’t like you were learning anything in Trelawney’s class anyway,” Draco drawled. “All she did every year was predict your death in a variety of vicious ways.”
“Three-hundred twenty-four ways and counting,” Harry muttered. He dropped down in a chair in front of Draco and frowned at the fire as Remus and Sirius settled in as well. “Riddle was using the snake to hurt students—and finally to guard Ginny’s body once he got her down there. I regretted having to kill him—he was ancient and really had done nothing more than follow his instincts. It’s just one more thing that pisses me off about Voldemort. He has no respect for the sanctity of life.”
“Do you have it in you to kill, Harry?” Draco questioned. “Because that’s the way this ends. It’s the only way it will end.”
“I’m not sure I can use an Unforgiveable but there are other curses and hexes that are just as dangerous that aren’t considered Dark. I’ll learn them all and I can only hope that it will be enough.” He paused and took a breath. “As for being able to kill, I already have. In my first year, I killed Professor Quirrel while he was possessed. It wasn’t… I didn’t mean to but I did it all the same.”
Draco frowned and looked away. “It hurts to cast an Unforgiveable—not physically. It’s not the kind of pain you can take a potion to get rid of. It’s an emotional bloodletting that just festers in you for weeks. I think people who do it regularly must go insane because of that pain.”
“When did you… what did you…” Harry took a deep breath. “Draco.”
“I had a crup as a child—he was intensely loyal to me and I loved him fiercely. They are hardy animals—not prone to illness and normally have no problems recovering from injury. One of my father’s friends tortured him with the Cruciatus Curse until he could barely move. When I was finally able to rescue him—he didn’t even recognize me. I took him and hid him in a room in my wing and kept him there for days before my Father found him and realized that he was quite insane.”
Sirius swore under his breath. “How old were you?”
“Eleven. It was shortly before I went for my first year at Hogwarts. My father said I had to take care of Mars because he was my responsibility. It was my duty to end his suffering.” Draco took a deep breath. “I agreed and I said I would owl Severus and get a potion to make him go to sleep and never wake up.”
“But Lucius didn’t agree?” Remus questioned.
“No, he said a proper Death Eater doesn’t hide from killing and his son would be nothing less than proper. My mother begged him not to make me do it. She said I was too young for it. He was terrible to her for her interference. He yelled at her that he would no longer tolerate her coddling me. That the Dark Lord would return and that the Malfoy Family would be at his side. That meant his only son would not be a disappointment.” Draco took a deep breath. “So I did but the first time I tried it was… weak and it didn’t do much but hurt him. I got so angry then—furious with my father and his stupid friend for what he’d done. I cast it again and Mars… died. Just like that.” Draco rubbed his chest. “It was agonizing. The moment the words left my mouth I stopped being angry. My mother had to carry me from the room. I couldn’t even… I didn’t move for three days without help.”
“Merlin,” Sirius snapped.
“A week later I was in Diagon Ally buying school supplies and I saw someone that made me realize that I was never going to be what my father wanted.” Draco’s gaze shifted to Harry briefly and then he focused on the fire. “I didn’t have it in me to be a proper Death Eater.”
– – – –
I’ve inspected the wards at Potter Manor and provided several additional protections. It is unplottable and the Secret Keeper for the property has a mind like a dragon guarded vault. It is a nice property and it’s been properly maintained.
Harry is quite safe.
– – – –
As you’ve been removed from Divination, I’ve taken the opportunity to enroll you in Ancient Runes. I passed a list of books you would need for the course to your Dobby and he assured me that he would make sure you had what you need for the beginning of the school year.
The tower has been altered slightly and an additional floor has been added to house you separately from your classmates. I realize this may not be what you want but your station requires it of us due to the school charter. I’ve arranged a small second bedroom in the suite for Dobby. He has furnished the rooms and set it up with your school supplies. You’ll be on the very top of the Gryffindor tower.
I do hope my letter finds you well and that you aren’t unduly upset that I used Dobby to deliver this missive. I look forward to seeing you on September 1st.
Professor Minerva McGonnagall
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
The Order of Merlin
Harry frowned briefly and then set aside the letter. “Professor McGonnagall has the Order of Merlin?”
“Yes, she received it due to her actions during the first war with Voldemort,” Remus murmured. “She is a talented and fierce dueler—though to my knowledge she has never cast an Unforgiveable even when the Ministry gave temporary permission shortly before…”
Harry nodded. “Right.” He was silent for a few minutes and then nodded. “Obviously I need more training than Hogwarts can possibly give me. I need… military training but that doesn’t seem possible in the UK.”
“No, but there have been magical wars in other countries,” Remus said and leaned forward. “We could bring some people here for you to train with.”
“You could find them? Recruit them to help me as discreetly as possible?” Harry asked. “I think Dumbledore probably has plans for you already, though right?”
“His plans come secondary to you,” Remus assured. “I won’t ever trust him again where your welfare is concerned. He told me to leave—told me you’d be safe and I did. I left you and spent twelve years in Paris living in a room above my brother’s book store while you were starved and abused by your so-called family.”
“I don’t blame you,” Harry said. “I don’t blame either of you for what my Uncle Vernon did. I do blame the Headmaster for not checking on me—for not realizing how bad things were. It isn’t like it would have taken much to alter the wards so he would know when I was being hit. Bill did it for me in a few minutes. The first time my uncle lays into my aunt because I’m not around for him to hit—I’ll know.”
“Did he hit you a lot?” Draco asked.
“More often than not. It isn’t like he even needed an excuse. I was blamed for everything that went wrong, no matter what it was. When I was nine, he wrecked the car on the way home from work because he thought he saw a wizard walking down the road. He came home and hit me until I passed out. I was in bed for a week.”
Draco’s jaw tightened. “You realize Voldemort uses stories like that about Muggles to justify killing them?”
“Killing him has appeal,” Sirius admitted and then shrugged when Harry glared at him. “Don’t look at me like that, pup. He’s a vicious creature and sometimes vicious creatures have to be put down to protect the public.”
Harry sighed. “I know he’s horrible but I can’t imagine being so angry that I would put myself on his level. That’s not the kind of man my mother would have wanted me to be.” He played with the seam of his slacks for a few minutes and sighed. “Why does Snape hate my father so much?”
Draco sucked in a breath and Sirius groaned a little.
“Pup,” Remus started with a sigh. “Your father saved Snape’s life while we were in school and he ended the friendship Severus had with Lily. They’d been friends since before Hogwarts. He made her choose between them—Severus made her choose and her choice made him furious.”
“How did my Dad save Snape’s life?”
Sirius blushed furiously and rubbed his face with both hands. “I made a foolish, stupid, dangerous, and vicious mistake that I’ve lived with for a very long time. I used my best friend and a condition he can’t control to get back at a boy who… dumped me.”
Harry’s mouth dropped open. “Sirius, what did you do?”
“I talked Severus into meeting me outside during a full moon and set Remus loose on him because I was hurt and furious. If James hadn’t interfered, Severus would have been killed or at the very least been turned into a werewolf,” Sirius murmured. “There is no excuse for what I did and I tried many times in the years that passed to apologize to Severus but as you know we can’t even be in the same room without coming to near blows.”
“So, not exactly unresolved sexual tension,” Draco muttered and then offered a small smile at the gagging sound Harry made. Then he grew serious. “Severus is lonely and his position with Voldemort will only grow more dangerous as the days pass. I know he’s spying for Dumbledore.”
“How do you know that?” Remus demanded.
Draco didn’t roll his eyes but it was a near thing. “Because I know the man. He’s my godfather and one of the few people in my life who has ever been gentle with me. He’s no Death Eater – I know what a Death Eater looks and acts like after all. Besides he has very few of the taints of someone who regular uses the darker arts.”
“Taints?” Harry questioned.
“People who practice severely dark rituals… it taints their magical aura, Harry.” Draco frowned at him briefly. “Your educational situation has to be corrected if we’re going to be seen in public together as friends, Potter. Being pretty and extremely wealthy will only get you so far.”
Harry blushed furiously and averted his gaze when Remus and Sirius laughed. “I should send Mrs. Weasley an owl to let her know that I’m safe.” He stood up abruptly and went to his desk. “You wankers can go find somewhere else to chat.”
– – – –
“I’m proud of you for admitting what you did,” Remus murmured. “I know you didn’t want to.”
Sirius drew deeply on the cigar that he’d had one of the elves hunt down for him. “I can’t… I didn’t want to be diminished in his eyes, Remus. I have so much to make up for.”
“Harry values honesty,” Remus reminded. “It’s something that Dumbledore is going to have to get his head around if he wants the Boy Who Lived’s support in the years to come.”