Birth of the Serpent King – Chapter Eight

Chapter Eight

King’s Cross was packed with more people that Harry could ever remember seeing and it was obvious why as the first person caught sight of him. Dobby appeared in front of him in seconds and a shield spread out around him. The crowd was pushed back as the shield expanded and Harry was so relieved he didn’t even chastise Dobby for it. It wasn’t in his nature to be standoffish with people but he didn’t want any of them touching him.

Draco passed through the shield Dobby was projecting and grasped Harry’s elbow. “Ron and Hermione are already on the train. Mrs. Weasley is about to cut a path through these people for you. Just let them look.”

Harry nodded. He was a symbol to them—not a even a person, really. Even a month ago many of them would have avoided looking at him because of Fudge’s lies and now they wanted to look at the Boy Who Lived. The Chosen One who would save them. He wanted to ask why they didn’t have it in them to save themselves. Why were they waiting for a fifteen year old boy to do it for them?

Five minutes later, Molly had them both on the train and Dobby tucked them into an empty compartment.

“Where is Elbe?”

“I sent him ahead to Hogwarts to make sure both of our chambers were up to par. I know Dobby set yours up but I didn’t know if he’d had a chance to make sure Hedwig was settled and I didn’t want Scorpious on the train so he took him as well.”

“Master Draco made Elbe a vassal like me,” Dobby whispered loudly.

Harry grinned. He knew that. Draco had snottily informed him that Elbe had been jealous of Dobby’s little wardrobe and especially his ability to legally perform charms and spells that he couldn’t so he’d had no bloody choice but to make the mean little elf his vassal. Harry thought it was kind of adorable but he wasn’t going to tell either one of them that.

Dobby took his and Draco’s robes and tucked them away in the expanded bag he’d brought with them and handed out their school robes quickly. They were dressed and presentable by the time the door to the small compartment slid open and Pansy Parkinson let herself in. She glared openly at Harry and then offered Draco a hesitant smile.

“What?” Draco demanded.

“We… you weren’t in our compartment. Blaise was worried so I said I’d come find you. I didn’t know you were babysitting Potter.” She shot Harry a snotty look and then sat down on the bench beside Draco. “Come sit with us—we’re talking about some of the things that happened over the summer and making plans.”

“You didn’t attend my father’s funeral, Pansy.” Draco looked out the window.

“You know we couldn’t risk…” She glanced at Harry. “Draco, please just come to our compartment and talk to us. I can’t say what I want to say in front of Scar Head.”

“Do not ever refer to him that way again,” Draco hissed. He grabbed her arm as he stood and hauled her to the door where he threw it open and pushed her abruptly into the hall. “Stay away from me, Parkinson. We have nothing to discuss. You can tell everyone else that skipped my father’s funeral and didn’t even bother to write to me that they aren’t welcome to speak to me either.” He shut the door in her face and threw himself back on the bench.

He glanced over at Harry and laughed abruptly when he saw that Dobby had scooted as close to Potter as he could. “I don’t bite, Dobby.”

Dobby snorted. “You do so! I remember!”

Draco flushed. “I was two!”

“Master Draco was bad baby!” Dobby waved his finger at him and Harry laughed.

“I just bet he was,” Harry said with a little sigh. He looked up and the door slid open again—this time to admit Dean, Seamus, and Neville.

All three were already in their school robes. Draco stood and moved to sit by him in a gracious maneuver that shocked all three of them into silence. They sat and stared until Dobby frowned at them then Neville grinned.

“Great robes, Dobby, and that was a neat shield you put up.”

“Is Dobby’s place,” Dobby muttered. “Makes sure Master Harry Potter has space.”

The door slid open abruptly and what looked like a first year scrambled inside. He pulled the door shut with a little hitch in his breath and then turned to face them. His mouth trembled and big tears slid down his face.

“Hey,” Harry frowned and reached out for him. “It’s okay. Come here.” The boy let Harry pull him forward and Dobby scooted so that he could put the kid up on the bench with him. “What’s going on?”

The boy’s breath hitched and he scrubbed at his face with both hands. “Nothing.”

“Doesn’t look like nothing to me,” Draco murmured and rummaged through his robes. He pulled out a chocolate frog and offered it to the kid. “I’m Draco and this is Harry, Dean, Seamus and Neville.”

The boy took the frog hesitantly and opened the package. “Thank you, Lord Malfoy.”

Draco inclined his head. “What’s your name?”

“Kevin Wesley.”

“So, what’s going on, Mr. Wesley?” Harry questioned.

“I told Timmy that I hoped I was… sorted into Slytherin.” His breath hitched. “And he told me I was gonna be a Death Eater if I did that. That I didn’t have a choice!”

Harry winced as the kid started to cry again. “Well, that wasn’t very kind of him.”

“That’s actually a quality of my house.” Draco grinned when the kid laughed. “So maybe he’ll get sorted to Slytherin.”

Kevin snorted and sneered. “He’s such a Hufflepuff.”

Harry laughed and ruffled the kid’s hair. “That’s a pretty good sneer kid, I imagine you’ll look great in green and silver.”

“It won’t make me evil,” Kevin muttered.

“No,” Harry agreed. “It won’t make you evil because evil isn’t simple at all, you know.”

Kevin nodded and looked Harry out of the corner of his eye. “Will you stop him?”

Harry blinked in surprise and carefully straightened Kevin’s collar and tie while he considered what to say. “One day, there will come a time when I will have the power and the training and the knowledge to stand up to Voldemort.” He paused when the kid flinched. “And when that day comes—I will stop him or I will die trying.”

“Is that destiny?” Kevin questioned softly, wide-eyed.

“No,” Draco responded and looked out the window. “That is conviction and courage. He’s a Gryffindor, Kevin, he can’t even help himself.”

– – – –

The Sorting was shorter than Harry ever remembered it being—only thirty-six new students. He wondered how many parents had sent their children abroad in an effort to keep them safe from Voldemort. He’d been a little disappointed on Kevin’s behalf when he’d been sorted into Gryffindor but the boy had smiled and tucked in against Harry’s side when he’d motioned him over. Kevin had leaned against him briefly and then straightened up to watch his frienemy Timmy sorted into Hufflepuff.

After the last first year was sorted, Dumbledore stood.

“Welcome everyone. I have a few announcements. As always, the Forbidden Forest is forbidden. Failure to adhere to the magical boundary placed around the forest could lead to your unfortunate demise and I would be very distressed to write such a letter to your parents.” The old wizard paused and looked around the room. “It has been many years since we’ve had Nobles here as students. Lord Draco Malfoy if you would stand.” He paused while Draco did so. “Lord Malfoy assumed his father’s title and all of the responsibilities therein over the summer. Lord Harry Potter.” Albus turned as Harry stood reluctantly. “Lord Potter assumed his father’s title and the weight of fifteen generations of ancestral magic as he is the last of his line. Both of these young men have assumed the responsibilities as Peers of the Realm and have already sat for one session of the Wizengamot over the summer.  I trust that we will all make every effort to afford both of these young men time to settle into the roles they’ve taken for their Families.”

Dumbledore inclined his head and Harry gratefully sat down. Hermione patted his hand gently and he realized he was shaking.

“It is my duty to announce that Professor Trelawney has left us due to a unique opportunity abroad,” he paused and half-frowned at the whispered discussion that followed. “And we will have Professor Delores Umbridge teaching Divination this year. As you know, we were unable to retain Professor Lupin for Defense Against the Dark Arts due to a few foolish new regulations passed by the Ministry. However, Professor Lupin was able to help me find a very good replacement for him over the summer. Professor Wilhelm Stone is a member of the International Federation of Warlocks and is the most accomplished dueler of his generation. I believe in times such as these, we will find Professor Stone a welcome addition to Hogwarts.”

Harry figured he was right and he eyed the new professor with interest. The man inclined his head in Harry’s direction when he caught sight of the staring and Harry glanced over at Draco who was staring at the man, too. Professor Stone sounded like a dream come true and just the kind of person that Harry needed in his life.

– – – –

Harry had inspected his suite thoroughly, making sure that Dobby had made himself a comfortable bedroom first. He’d been prepared to berate the elf if he hadn’t done as instructed on that front but Dobby’s little room was furnished and neat and his bed looked just as nice as Harry’s only smaller. The owl perch in his common room was large—enough for two birds so he wasn’t surprised to find Draco’s Eagle Owl perched there with Hedwig when he came out of his bath. The bigger surprise was Draco himself, lounging on his couch.

“How did you…”

“I have a painting in my personal common room that opens into a narrow elf passageway that comes all the way up here,” Draco admitted. “After a few twists and turns. Elbe showed me.” He pointed towards a painting. “That’s the entrance.”

“Cool.” Harry nodded as he dried his hair. “I have a meeting with Neville in a few minutes so I need to get dressed.”

Draco nodded and stood and walked over to him. “You look good fresh out of a shower, Potter.”

Harry smirked. “If I were a Slytherin, this is where I’d tell you that I look good all the time.”

“You’d be right,” Draco acknowledged. He leaned in and brushed a hesitant kiss over Harry’s mouth. “Is this okay, here?”

“Yeah, it’s perfect,” Harry said as he moved closer. “I don’t have the time or the energy to run around this school pretending to hate you, Draco.”  He settled one hand on Malfoy’s hip and nipped gently at his bottom lip before sealing their mouths together with a firm, knowing kiss.

The hesitant knock on his door made him step away with a sigh. “That’ll probably be Neville. He’s a little nervous, I think. He paled a little when I requested a private conversation with him after dinner.”

Draco smiled. “You are his lord, Potter, and that changes the power in your relationship magically. You realize you could assume legal custody of him if you found his home life wasn’t what you wanted it to be?”

“I’d never do that. Surely he knows I wouldn’t take him from his grandmother. He loves her a lot.” Harry sighed when the knock came again, this time even more hesitant. “Go. I don’t think he can handle you and me half-naked at the same time.”

Draco kissed him again and then disappeared behind the painting in just a few seconds. Harry went to his door and opened it. “Hey, sorry, I was in the shower. Get comfortable, Nev, while I get dressed.”

“No problem,” Neville said as he twisted his hands into his robes and settled on the couch.

Harry quickly pulled on a pair of jeans and t-shirt he’d picked up in Paris shortly after Sirius had been officially exonerated by the Ministry. The news had rocked the Wizarding world and hadn’t cast too fine of a light on the British Ministry. Fudge had rode out the storm with a few speeches about being honored to ‘right a wrong’ and how he felt sorry for young Lord Potter, seeing as how he was an ‘war orphan’. It made Harry furious for half a second and then they’d gone off to Paris and partied until they had all made themselves sick.

He pulled on some socks and walked out into the common room just as Dobby finished arranging a tea tray. “Thanks for coming up. Did you get settled?”

Neville flushed. “Dobby took care of my things. I told him he didn’t have to.”

“I think actually he probably does,” Harry admitted as he sat down. “I really don’t know much about his duties as a vassal but I’ve got a book to read on the subject. I think my official Heir falls under his purview.”

“Right.” Neville flushed. “I was… surprised by the trust fund.”

“It’s one of my duties, Neville. I realize your grandmother was paying your way but as my Heir that is actually one of my responsibilities.”

Neville nodded. “Right. Thank you. I bought a new wand… one that picked me. My magic comes much easier now.”

“Good.” Harry picked up his tea as Dobby bowed silently and went to his room. “Did you want to talk about anything in particular?”

“My Gran says that you’ll copies of all of my academic reports,” Neville flushed and looked away. “Harry, this is so odd!”

Harry laughed suddenly. “Yes, it really rather is. I understand how difficult this is but these are our circumstances. I need your support, Neville, as both my Heir and my friend. Do I have that?”

“Of course,” Neville exclaimed with a flush. He set aside his cup. “That prophecy—my Gran said it could have easily been me. The Dark Lord chose you Harry, but it could have been me just as easily.”

“He chose me instead of you because of my Muggle-born mother,” Harry murmured. “I know and it’s okay, Neville. I don’t blame you for what he did or whatever else you might be thinking. It’s okay.”

“Right.” Neville took a deep breath and picked up his tea again. “Can I use Hedwig for my correspondence? I like to write Gran once a week.”

“Yeah, of course, she’ll love to get out more often. I’ll probably do weekly letters to Sirius and Mr. Riser, my solicitor but you can use her whenever she is here.” He glanced over at the owl stand. “But do avoid Ramses if you can. He’s a bit of a foul tempered thing and rarely tolerates anyone but Draco.”

Neville nodded. “People are talking about him and how he sat with us on the train.”

“Good or bad?”

“A mixture honestly. Some of the more…” Neville sighed. “This is going to sound rude, Harry, but there are those who were raised to be polite about the death of others and those who were not. He’s clearly in mourning and many in our house will accept that. Some won’t.”

“Muggle-borns, you mean. People who don’t understand mourning rituals for the Wizarding world.”

“Yes,” Neville nodded.

“Then perhaps it’s time we teach them,” Harry said. “It’s not fair to condemn them for their lack of knowledge. I know next to nothing about the Wizarding world and if Hogwarts won’t teach us—it’s time that the Houses took up that mantle.”

– – – –

Harry pulled out a second text on Wizarding customs and history to add to the stack that Dobby was holding for him. “I think that should do it, Dobby. We’ll make a lesson plan and start next week.”

“Yes, Master Harry.”

“Mr. Potter, it is a violation of the school’s charter for students to have personal house elves with them.”

Harry glanced at Delores Umbridge and sighed. “Dobby, please go make the copies of the sections we need for from those books and return to the suite.”

“Yes, Master Harry.” Dobby frowned at Umbridge and then walked away.

“Professor Umbridge, Dobby is not a simple bonded house elf but a vassal. Which means he acts as my bonded servant and my personal protection. No magical organization, not even Hogwarts, can separate a titled Noble from his vassal.” He moved around her to walk away. “Have a good evening.”

“That doesn’t mean he can do your school work, Lord Potter.”

Harry laughed. “That wasn’t school work, Professor, just a little personal research. Nothing for you to worry about.”

– – – –

Harry had been surprised when Ron had volunteered to talk about the mourning period in a Wizarding family and even more surprised by how many people who weren’t Muggle-born pressed themselves into the classroom they’d gotten authorization to use. A few words with the prefects of other houses and insured that every Muggle-born, fifth year and down, were heavily encouraged to come but even the sixth and seventh years had come.

“Family or Ancestral magic is blood magic—it connects members of a Wizarding Family together with a pool of magic. While each of us has our own magic we also have ancestral magic that settles on us in the year of our majority—for most that is seventeen and is separate from our own magical maturation. This is the time when we gain the power to apparate and when those who are capable of being an Animagus start to transform effortlessly.” Ron glanced briefly at Harry and then continued. “When the patriarch of a Family dies, the ancestral magic shifts within the entire family—absorbing his magic and the grief of the members of the family is distributed so that they can mourn without it being crippling mentally or magically.”

“Mourning can cripple someone’s magic?” Kevin Wesley was staring at him in horror.

Harry had found out earlier in the day that Kevin was actually an orphan and he’d been raised in a Wizarding orphanage. His schooling was paid for by charitable donations. Harry had contacted his solicitor about donating to the orphanage to make sure none of the children went without a magical education.

“Emotional distress can dampen and at times permanently damage a person’s magic,” Hermione explained. “Which is why some crimes in the Wizarding world are so heinous as to require the Dementor’s Kiss. You’ll learn about protecting your magic during moments of emotional stress in both Charms and Transfiguration. There are also potions that can help shore up and protect your magical core.”

“Right.” Ron rubbed his hands on his robes and pressed on. “When a wizard or witch is in mourning they are uniquely vulnerable to outside stress and require our consideration and our patience. The loss of the Family Patriarch can take a year or more to recover from due to the often unexpected shift in the Family magic.”

Harry was glad that Draco had bowed out of the first class but had been pleased when the Slytherin had offered to teach a few classes on Wizarding political structure and law.

– – – –

Harry had not had a real conversation with Ginny Weasley since before the third task. It wasn’t that he hadn’t thought about her—it was just that he really didn’t know what to say to her. There was some stupid, immature part of him that resented the fact that he didn’t like her the way she wanted him to. He thought perhaps life would’ve been easier if he’d married her and made babies with her.

It was the third week of school and he’d mostly managed to avoid Umbridge, hadn’t been unduly harassed in Potions and DADA was a dream come true class. It wasn’t as fun as class with Remus had been but they were all learning a lot—even when Umbridge stopped by to observe. Professor Stone was exceedingly proper and so far she had found no reason to interfere but Harry thought she was just waiting for a chance.

Ginny was sitting on the couch beside Harry in the common room and most everyone else had wandered away from them. He figured that was on purpose but he didn’t begrudge her the little games she felt she needed to play. He’d wondered how he could do this without hurting her—if addressing her affection for him would be less or more cruel than ignoring it.

“Harry.”

He closed the book he was reading and focused on her. He watched the blush steal across her face and her eyes brighten. Regret pooled in his gut because he suddenly realized that nothing he could say would make her okay with the rejection that was coming.

“Ginny. How are you?”

“Good. We have a Hogsmeade weekend coming up and I was thinking that… we could go together.”

Harry sighed and played with the binding of his book. “I actually have to go to Diagon Ally on Saturday. I have several meetings at Gringotts and with my solicitor and Sunday I have plans with Draco.”

She flushed brightly with what he knew was temper. Harry had been around enough Weasleys in his life time to see that coming a mile away. “Malfoy.”

“Lord Malfoy, yes. We have plans.”

“Whatever business the two of you have could be done later or earlier. Surely he doesn’t expect you to forgo a personal life,” Ginny protested.

Harry frowned. “Draco is my personal life, Ginny.”

“No.” Her mouth dropped open in shock. “Harry, you’re not… like that. Surely you’re not disgusting like that. You were raised by Muggles!”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Harry questioned fiercely.

“Muggles don’t approve of being gay, surely your Muggle relatives taught you it’s wrong!”

“It isn’t wrong,” Harry murmured. “And lower your voice. Who I chose to have a romantic relationship with is none of anyone’s business.” He stood up abruptly. “Excuse me.”

Ginny glared at him. “Just what the world needed—another poof.”

The few people who were in the common room turned to stare in her in horror and Harry sighed. “Ginny, grow up. You sound like a child and I would think with everything that is going on in the world that you would realize that no one, least of all me, has time for your silly little games.”

He was half way up the stairs when Ron started up after him. Neither said anything until they were in his private common room. He threw his book on his desk and rounded on his best mate with a glare. “Did you follow me up to say I’m disgusting, too?”

Ron winced. “No, Harry, of course not. I saw the thing with Malfoy coming. You two have always had an intense thing going on and now that it isn’t hostile—it stands to reason all of that energy and passion had to go somewhere.”

Harry stared for a moment and then he smirked. “Hermione coached you.”

He blushed furiously and shrugged. “Yeah, so? It’s true and I see it. Look, whatever Ginny said down there—that’s not how my family thinks okay. Bill is bisexual in case you missed it and Charlie has had a male lover for years. She’s young and she had her heart set on you. Even after Mum told her she needed to let it go after you claimed your title…”

“What does that mean?” Harry demanded. “I wouldn’t… I don’t care about anyone’s social position.”

“No, but mum didn’t want Ginny getting her hopes up and she used that as an excuse. It was pretty obvious at the birthday party that if any Weasley was on your mind for the future it wasn’t my little sister. My mum warned Bill to mind his manners around you.”

Harry grinned. “I would have chased his arse around all of Diagon Ally if I hadn’t already started something interesting with Draco.”

Ron blushed furiously. “Shut up. I don’t even want to know.” He waved a hand. “I’ll talk to Ginny but I think we can both be prepared for her to be something of a problem for a while. Girls are mad.”

– – – –

Mad and vindictive. Three days after the incident in the common room, the social section of the Daily Prophet dedicated a half a page to his rejection of Ginny Weasley and six other girls in school were quoted to having expressed interest in the new young Lord Potter only to be rebuffed. Then they recounted all of the marriage proposals that he’d turned down. He had to hand it to them—there wasn’t a damn thing in the article that he could call them on and it irked the fuck out of him.

In a fit of irritation worthy of any Slytherin, Harry slapped the social section down in front of Ginny with a small, insincere smile. “You’ll have to ask Professor McGonagall about updating the wards to prevent howlers from strangers, Ginerva. Just ask Hermione—she received twenty last year when the Prophet reported our ’rocky relationship’ and that was just on the first day.”

“I didn’t say any of this!” Ginny shouted.

“Everyone knows that the entire staff of the Daily Prophet had to swear on their magic to tell the truth in their reports,” Seamus said from across the table. “That’s why Rita was fired—she’s such a big liar she couldn’t even make the Oath.”

Ginny blushed furiously. “Well, this woman lied about me!”

“Right.” Harry glared at her. “Since I know one of the new owners for the Daily Prophet—it shouldn’t be too difficult for me to prove that. After all, the woman should be walking around like a squib if she knowingly reported a lie.”

Ginny huffed. “I don’t have to answer to you.”

“No, but you do have to answer to mum,” Ron said and as he appeared at Harry’s side. “This isn’t how you treat family, Ginny.”

“Harry isn’t our Family Ron! He was just a charity case. Mum felt sorry for him because he’s an orphan!” She flushed hotly. “And now he never will be one of us because he’d rather…” She trailed off when she caught sight of how pale Harry had gone and her eyes widened as he turned and stalked from the hall. “Wait, Harry, I didn’t mean it!”

“You stupid little girl,” Ron hissed. “George, Fred—come over here and do something with her.”

Ron was only a couple minutes behind Harry but the stairs were warded just past his dorm so he couldn’t get up to the new floor where Harry was housed. Dobby was seated at the top stair and he glared openly at Ron for the first time ever.

“Master Harry Potter upset! Very upset!” Dobby rocked. “He loves his Wheezy family but Ginny is bad Wheezy!”

Ron nodded and sat down on the stair just before the ward started. “Yeah, she’s a bad Wheezy.” He rubbed his face and then looked down to where Hermione was standing. He shook his head. “He has the door warded. We’re not getting in until he’s ready.”

She crossed her arms over her chest and sighed. “I sent Ginny to Madame Pomfrey for a calming draught. She’s really upset.”

“This wouldn’t have happened if she’d done what mum told her to do. We all told her over the summer that Harry didn’t like her the way she wanted him to.” Ron frowned and turned to Dobby. “He didn’t eat his breakfast, Dobby.”

“Dobby takes care of his Master Harry Potter,” Dobby snapped peevishly and popped away.

Hermione laughed softly. “I think Malfoy’s elf is a bad influence on Dobby.”

– – – –

Draco found Harry sprawled out on his full size bed. He leaned on one of the posts for a few minutes and then sighed. “That was pretty harsh even for her—I thought, well, I thought better of her.”

Harry nodded. “I shouldn’t have provoked her, I guess. I was just disgusted by what she said in the paper. I didn’t… I never once led her to believe that I was interested in her romantically. I treated her like a sister—or at least I treated her the same way her brothers treated her.” He frowned. “I just never encouraged anything more than that.”

Draco nodded. “But she always looked at you with stars in her eyes. Just like most of the other girls in this school. You’ll probably never by Harry to them. You’re the Boy Who Lived to people like her. That’s hero worship, mate, and not a damn thing more.”

“Right.” Harry frowned at the heavy cloth canopy of his bed with a sigh and then turned to look at Draco. “If you wanted to make me feel better—you could crawl into this bed with me and we could continue the negotiations of our cease fire.”

Draco laughed. “We have business today, Potter. I’m not letting you get me all mussed up.”

Harry frowned.

“Come on, Harry.” Draco sighed and tugged his friend from the bed. “We have a meeting at Gringotts in thirty minutes. One does not get anywhere in life by making goblins wait. Call Dobby so he can prepare your green robes—you look very shaggable in them.”

“I don’t want to look shaggable,” Harry groused. “Did you hear what she said?”

“Everyone heard what she shouted,” Draco answered gently. “I’m sure we’ll all hear her mother’s howler, too.” He shoved Harry towards the bathroom. “Come on—I wore that drab grey silk shirt you liked. We have a full day today with business things and walking about Diagon Ally looking beautiful.”

Harry shook his head and sighed. “Dobby.” The elf immediately appeared. “The green brocade please—and can you bring some eggs and some tea?”

“Elbe gets your breakfast.” Dobby pointed towards the desk.

Harry nodded at the sight of the tray and sat down at the desk. “I want the dragon skin boots.” He sat down and picked up a piece of bacon before looking at Draco. “You couldn’t look drab if you tried, Malfoy.”

Draco grinned and leaned against Harry’s desk. He picked a piece of bacon off the tray and chewed it thoughtfully. “You did get permission to leave the school grounds, right?”

Harry nodded. “Professor McGonagall signed them though I could tell she didn’t want to. It isn’t like they can refuse me. I’m an adult and I have adult business to take care of.”  He frowned and stood up from the desk after eating less than half of his food. “I hate the potions first thing in the morning. It always makes me feel full.”

“We’ll get you a snack after the Gringotts thing and before you visit Healer Daniels.” Draco checked his watched. “I’ll meet you downstairs in fifteen minutes.”

– – – –

“It’s amazing what money can do for a person. You almost look like you belong in our world.”

Harry rolled his eyes as he passed Parkinson and headed for the stairs. “Sure is. You’re a prime example of how a purchased attractive exterior can hide bone-deep ugly.”

She flushed furiously. “He’ll see through you, Potter. You won’t get his money.”

Harry laughed as he paused on the second landing and turned to stare at her. “I have twice as much money as he does, Parkinson.” He leaned on the railing, aware that Draco could hear him from his place below. “Four times as much money as your family and despite my Muggle-born mother, I can count back fifteen generations of Family magic. You’re the ninth official generation of the Parkinsons and let’s not even discuss how narrow and weirdly forked your mother’s family tree is.” He scrunched his nose. “But that does explain your face and big ears. Inbreeding is a nasty bit of business.”

“You…”

“Hey, don’t blame me. It’s not my fault your great-great-great grandparents were half-brother and sister.” He finished his way downstairs and offered Draco a sunny smile as Malfoy opened the doors. “Have a good day, Parkinson, and do yourself a favor—turn down that marriage proposal from your first cousin!”

Draco laughed a little breathless all the way across the courtyard and out onto the lawn so they could portkey. “You, Potter, are the light of my life.”

“Flattery will get you everywhere, Dragon.” He held out his wrist so Draco could touch Mehen. Then with a little flourish, hissed a soft greeting and then the word “Galleon” just to watch Draco’s eyes go dark with interest shortly before they were tugged away. Seconds later, Draco was holding both of his arms and keeping him on his feet.

“No need for you to fall on your pretty arse on the front steps of Gringotts,” Draco murmured and then released him as Elbe and Dobby appeared beside each of them. “You realize you started a trend? Half the titled men in Wizarding Europe have chosen a vassal among their house elves because you did.”

“That’s me,” Harry said dryly and rolled his eyes. “A trend setter.” He looked around the alley and wasn’t surprised to spot two members of the Order of Phoenix already in place. He’d agreed to being watched over reluctantly and mostly to keep Sirius happy.

“It’s funny but nice as well,” Draco murmured. “Your respect for house elves has made the mistreatment of them quite improper practically overnight in some circles.”

“That’s good,” Harry murmured and glanced around them as they entered the bank. Goblins paused as they were both noticed and then a soft grunting murmur started to circulate around the room. “What is this?”

“Just relax,” Draco whispered. “And keep walking. You’re famous, remember?”

They were almost to the small office they’d been directed to in the letter when Ragnok himself appeared. “Lord Potter.”

Harry bowed. “Ragnok, greetings. I live in faith that your enemies are miserable and your vault is overflowing.”

Ragnok nodded solemnly. “So mote it be.” He inclined his head. “I have a matter that I believe you could help me with.”

“If I can, I will,” Harry murmured. He shared a glance with Draco who looked concerned and they followed Ragnok into the private part of the bank.

The scene in Ragnok’s office was not at all what Harry expected. He frowned as he glanced between the obviously beaten female house elf and a wizard. The man looked furious. He shot Ragnok a look of pure contempt before trying to smile at Harry.

“Lord Potter, it is a pleasure to meet you. I am Terrance Marcus the third.”

“Right.” Harry looked at him briefly and then walked to where the injured house elf lay. She’d obviously been beaten to near death. It was sickening. “Is she your bonded servant?”

“She is, yes.”

“Did you do this to her?” Harry questioned tightly and Dobby was suddenly there—pressing tight against him. “It’s alright, Dobby.”

“It’s not,” Dobby whispered. “Bad man. He’s a bad man, Master Harry.”

“She refused to hand over her child as is proper,” Marcus snapped. “Ragnok tells me you have a unique connection to wild magic and should be able to call the infant from where she has hidden it.”

“You’re out of your bloody mind if you think I’d expose a helpless child to you after what you’ve done to its mother!” He put a hand on Dobby’s shoulder to stop the elf from pulling at his ears. He turned to Ragnok and glared. “Is this what you would ask of me, Ragnok? To convince a dying elf to sacrifice her child to this vicious, disgusting man?”

Ragnok’s gaze widened briefly at the tone and then he inclined his head. “I trust, Lord Potter, that you will act with honor in all situations.” He glanced towards the female elf. “Her name is Libby and there is not much time. Her child will starve if left unattended for very long.”

Harry’s gaze darkened and he glared at the goblin with contempt for several seconds before collecting himself. “Fine. What do I do?”

“Ask her to bring the child forward,” Ragnok murmured, his tone was clipped and controlled. “Your magic is very strong and she is weak. She won’t be able to deny you, Lord Potter.”

“She’s denied her bonded Master,” Harry pointed out roughly.

“Their bond has been damaged beyond repair due to…” Ragnok glanced at the Marcus. “How she was treated. Her distrust and fear of him outweighs even in the importance of the bond.”

“Just get on with it, Potter, I don’t have all day,” Marcus snapped.

“That is Lord Potter,” Ragnok snapped. “You will be civil in my domain, wizard, or I will ban you from Gringotts.”

Marcus scoffed. “I have too much money in this bank.”

Harry decided that was going to change. He knelt on one knee and Dobby dropped to his knees beside him. It was only seconds before Draco joined him. He glanced briefly at his friend and then picked up Libby’s hand. She shifted slightly and turned her head. He could tell she could barely focus on him.

“Sir.”

“Hello, Libby.” Harry rubbed his thumb over the top of her hand. “Are you in a great deal of pain?”

“No more,” Libby whispered. “Gone now. Sleep soon. Not wake up.”

“Yes,” Harry agreed sadly. “I can feel your magic…”

“Leaving,” Libby responded. “Yes.” She shifted and her fingers tightened in his. “Give it to you.”

“Give what to me?” Harry questioned.

“My magics,” she whispered fiercely. A soft white glow developed between them and Harry heard a surprised grunt from Ragnok as it flowed into Harry like a river. Libby slumped then, diminished and dull eyed she spoke, “Ollie.”

Harry frowned as her hand went limp in his. With a sigh he reached forward and closed her eyes. “I’m sorry, Ragnok, she didn’t…”

“Harry,” Draco interrupted and helped him stand, his eyes wide with shock. “You just…I’ve never… I don’t think a wizard has been gifted with elf magic in a thousand years.”

Harry blinked in surprise and then cleared his throat. “Willaby.” The Head Elf immediately appeared in front of him.

“Yes, my Lord Potter?”

“This is Libby. She gave me… her magic.”

Willaby nodded and then nine elves appeared behind him—all dressed in black with the Potter crest displayed on their chest. Dobby moved to stand beside Willaby then and all eleven elves lit briefly with a brilliant white light.

“What…”

“They are honoring the sacrifice of Libby and acknowledging that you now carry in you… the pure magic of an elf,” Ragnok explained roughly. “Call the child, Lord Potter.”

“I don’t know…” He trailed off and then held out his hands. “Ollie.” The infant appeared instantly in his hands, squirming and dressed in a dirty pillow case. Horrified, he quickly divested the child of the pillow case and tossed it Marcus’ feet.

“That elf is mine, Lord Potter.” Marcus reached out for him and Harry shifted slightly away from him. “You have no right!”

“He has every right,” Ragnok said coolly. “I never told you, Mr. Marcus, that you would be allowed to keep the child—just that Lord Potter would be able to find it. The infant is unbonded and therefore can cannot be claimed by you.”

Harry almost smirked at the goblin as he inspected the tiny, naked, infant elf in his hands. He probably didn’t even weigh three pounds and was quite ugly if he was going to be at all honest about it. He glanced around at his elves, aware that all of them were male and brothers at that. Willaby had informed him that none of them had been able to perform pair bonds because they’d had no official master to accept females into the house hold. He’d been horrified by that.

Franky popped away and returned with a thick and expensive black tea towel which he handed to Harry. “For the baby, my Lord Potter.”

Harry haphazardly wrapped the wiggling infant in the towel and then held him against his heart as he considered his options. “Mr. Marcus, you can leave.”

“I insist you hand that thing over to me,” Marcus snapped. “It belongs to me!”

“Ollie is a sentient, magical being,” Harry murmured and patted the baby’s back as he started to mouth his very expensive robes. “I assure you—I would not give you this infant if Voldemort appeared in this room and demanded it.”

Marcus flinched and then growled. “Libby’s family has served mine for six generations—her off spring has inherited training that belongs to my family.”

Harry frowned at him and then looked at Ragnok. “Inherited training?”

“House elves give their offspring knowledge and training at the time of their birth by sharing their magic, Lord Potter,” Ragnok explained roughly. “Six generations of training makes the infant valuable.”

“I see.” Harry considered that and then focused on Marcus. “You insist, do you?”

“I do.”

“Alright then, I’ll pay you the bond price for the infant.”

“No.”

“Or I can challenge you to a duel and take everything you have for insulting my House and my title,” Harry continued cheerfully. He looked at Draco who had taken a seat to watch the show. “Would that be sufficient to entertain you, Draco?”

“I would find it slightly amusing,” Draco murmured. “Between the two of us—we could ruin him socially and financially in a matter of days.” He glared briefly at Marcus. “So, perhaps you’ll take Lord Potter’s offer and let him keep what he’s been given by the oldest and wildest of magics.”

Marcus glared and then smiled smugly. “I want twice the going rate for an unbonded infant.”

Ragnok glared. “That’s ten thousand galleons.”

“Yes.”

“Done,” Harry murmured. “Give him his money, Ragnok, and then get him out of my sight.” He glanced towards Libby’s body. “Where is Ollie’s father?”

Marcus paused as he headed towards the door and inclined his head. “I killed him first and burned the body. The filthy little thing still wouldn’t give up the off spring.”

Harry said nothing for several seconds after Ragnok closed the doors on the wizard and then he turned to stare at Draco. “It is wizards like that—that make me question whether or not this world deserves to be saved from Voldemort.” He glared at his elves when several of them squeaked. “No, you will not fear him and you will not fear his name. He is nothing but a half-blood wizard who was once a brilliant student but is now a mad thing. If you must feel anything for him—pity his vile and disgusting existence.”

Ollie started to cry in his arms and he sighed. “Now, which one of you has experience with babies?”

They all looked at him with barely disguised horror and Draco started laughing. “I might be able to find one among my staff.”

Dobby started twisting his ear. “Dobby no like babies, Master Harry. No likes. They messy and they bite.”

“You can’t paint every baby with the Draco Malfoy brush, Dobby,” Harry grinned when Draco glared at him. “Besides, Ollie is an elf baby. It can’t be the same thing.”

“It’s very different,” Ragnok acknowledged. “You need a female bonded elf to take care of the child, Lord Potter. One that can imprint on him and raise him in your service. The mother passed her magic to you to protect her child and he has likely already formed a partial bond with you. He can’t be raised by one of Lord Malfoy’s bonded elves.”

“Great.” Harry sighed and bounced a little to make Ollie stop crying. “This is… not what I came here for today, Ragnok.” He glanced towards Libby’s body and frowned. “Willaby, take her home to Potter Manor—give her a clean uniform to wear and bury her as you would one of your own. There is a place on the grounds for the elves, yes?”

“Yes, my Lord Potter,” Willaby acknowledged before popping away with the body and all of his brothers. Then only Dobby was left.

Dobby sighed and held out his hands. “I takes the baby…. temporarily but I can’t keep him. He needs his mama’s magics until he can imprint on another.”

Harry handed Ollie over and then did a quick clean up spell on his robes. “Just think about our options. How do I even go about getting female elves into the house?”

“Elves can go unbonded for several years at a time—and normally don’t bond until after their fifteenth year, Lord Potter. If you tell Willaby you are willing to accept the bond oath of female elves for your household—the word will spread and they will come to you if they need placement.” Ragnok sat down at his desk as he explained.

“Right.” Harry sighed and looked toward Draco who was laughing softly. “Are you allowed to laugh at me like that?”

“Yes,” Draco answered with a smirk.

“Ragnok, I must insist on a new liegeman, the one you gave me is cruel and vicious.”

Ragnok snorted. “You took him. No exchanges or refunds, Lord Potter.”

Ollie started to cry and Dobby held him out with quivering ears. “Ollie not like me.”

Harry sighed and took the baby.

Ten minutes later he was settled in for his first appointment with the estate’s financial manager and Mr. Riser. Draco was off to one side of the room with a tea service while Mr. Riser and Harry were seated at a table.

“Now, Lord Potter…” The man’s gaze dropped to Ollie who Harry had finally taken the time to wrap properly in the tea towel. “Is that an infant house elf, sir?”

“Yes,” Harry frowned at him. “You act like you’ve never seen one before.”

The man blushed. “Sir, forgive me, but I haven’t. I’ve only seen one child house elf in my sixty-two years. Female elves rarely allow their infants or children to be seen until they are old enough to bond of their own free will.”

“His parents were beaten to death. His mother gave Ollie to me as she died,” Harry said as he relaxed in his chair. “I wouldn’t have him with me, of course, but it happened just a few minutes ago. Now, you have a report for me, Mr. Brandt?”

The man nodded and glanced once more briefly at Ollie before rearranging the parchments in front of him. “Right, well, the matter is a complicated one but I’ll endeavor to explain myself fully. As I told Mr. Riser, we have learned recently that there are several discrepancies in the financial reports you receive from Skylar Enterprises. You are the majority stockholder but as you only recently came into your inheritance they’ve had many years where they were answerable to no one.”

“Fine. Have them audited. Start one year before the murder of my parents and move forward. I want every knut accounted for and prepare to notify the DMLE so that charges can be levied. I want you to hire a two-man team for each company I hold majority stock in. I want them all audited at the same time so that no can attempt to cover their tracks.”

“Lord Potter…” Brandt cleared his throat. “You have majority stock interest in twenty-six companies in Wizarding Europe.”

“Then I suggest you make a plan and get started. There are three things, Mr. Brandt, you will learn in working for me. I won’t be lied to, I won’t be stolen from, and everyone that works for me will earn a decent living. As you audit these companies—I want their payroll reviewed, their hiring practices scrutinized, and I expect a full report on the fiscal situation of each company. If these companies wish to remain a part of my financial future—they will hire and pay fairly. That means, Mr. Brandt, that if I find that I own stock in a single company that has a pure-blood only hiring policy you’ll lose your job. You have one year to make this happen.”

“Of course, my lord.” Brandt nodded and then cleared his throat. “Are there any areas you’d like to explore financially?”

“Yes, I want to own a broom company.” Harry patted Ollie’s back gently as he considered. “Cleansweep has appeal and I am especially fond of my Firebolt.”

“There has been some discussion that Comet Trading Company could be for sale,” Brandt admitted. “Their major stockholder has decided to move to the US.”

Harry frowned and then looked at Draco. “Comet?”

“They’d have to jump into the current century if they wanted to even think about putting your name on a broom. However, they have a talented production team. They’ve just been stymied and mismanaged by an old man. Can’t hurt to look at them.”

Harry frowned. “Right, okay, but I agree on the quality of brooms they’ve put out in recent years. Can you get us a profile on the company, Mr. Brandt? And if I’m interested, I’ll want to meet with their production team and the current owner before making a choice. Their design team should be prepared to seduce me out of my money, Mr. Brandt, and that’s going to require a very nice broom.”

Brandt grinned suddenly. “Understood, sir.” He shifted through a few parchments. “You own stock in several Muggle companies—all of which are currently doing well. Have you had a chance to review them?”

“Yes,” Harry murmured. “I made a list of the companies I want you to get rid of, Mr. Brandt.” He nodded to Riser who passed the list forward. “I don’t want to be associated with any of those companies.”

Brandt paused as he read through the list. “Wricker’s Clothing is one of your biggest Muggle investments, my lord.”

“They are also infamous for employing Muggle children as young as seven years old to work in their factories in third-world countries. I won’t be a part of that. Sell that stock immediately and be prepared to lose money on the sale if necessary.” Ollie started to cry softly against his robes and Harry frowned at him. Big green eyes blinked up at him from a scrunched up face. “I don’t even have an idea how old this little guy is.”

“Days, old, Master Harry. Maybe a week.” Dobby peeked at the baby. “Maybe he’s hungry. I goes find a bottle.” He blinked away and Harry hoped fervently that Dobby found the kid a mother attached to the bottle.

“Right.” Harry sighed.

“What about Grunnings, Inc?” Brandt questioned. “You own them outright and the company has been very profitable.”

Harry’s mouth twisted in distaste as he thought about the company his Uncle worked for and he sighed again when Dobby popped back into the room and handed him a tiny bottle. Ollie accepted it without a fuss. “I have no rational explanation for it, Mr. Brandt. It makes me money and provides hundreds of honest working people with great jobs that pay well and have excellent benefits. My reasons are personal. Please sell it as soon as possible and do try to make sure it’s sold to someone who will take care of the workers.”

“Of course, my lord.” Brandt made a few more notes. “Now, your estate currently has six investment accounts that are run by the goblins. Your account manager for Gringotts is Traygor and he’ll join us now if you’re ready.”

Harry nodded absently and handed the empty bottle to Dobby who banished it with a flick of his wrist. “That’s fine. I have just a few questions regarding those matters and then we’ll be finished for the day.” He turned to Dobby. “Go ask Molly Weasley if I can visit with her today.”

“Yes, Master Harry.” Dobby blinked away.

By the time Traygor had settled into place at the table with his log book, Dobby had returned with an invitation to tea for Harry and Draco at The Burrow.

“The transaction between you and Mr. Marcus is complete, Lord Potter.” Traygor glanced briefly at Ollie. “It is a rare blessing to receive the magic of a dying elf, sir.”

Harry nodded. “Yes, I was told.” He paused and cleared his throat. “I’m sure you find my ignorance of such things insulting, Traygor, but please know that I am attempting to educate myself as quickly as possible regarding those matters.”

Traygor inclined his head. “Ragnok finds you interesting, Lord Potter. As such, you will be afforded latitude as you adjust to your role in our world. Your ancestral magic has fully settled and from all appearances it has brought you a level of maturity unexpected for someone your age. You made note in your missive that you wished to discuss the investments in your account.”

“Yes,” Harry began and glanced down at Ollie. “Draco, come take the baby so I can work on this.”

Draco sighed and stood. “If he doesn’t like Dobby, I doubt seriously he’s going to like me.” He accepted Ollie with careful hands and they all stilled to see how the tiny elf would react. He smiled then. “Alright then.” He went back to his chair with an amused and somewhat awed smile in place. Elbe pretended not to be interested.

Harry shook his head and then pulled out several documents from the bag Dobby carried over his shoulder. “Account P76G239, Traygor. It has a secondary owner who has withdrawn a considerable amount of money from it over the past five months. I’ve reviewed the records that I’ve received and I don’t have a listing of who the secondary holder of the account is.”

Traygor paused and flipped through several pages of the book before nodding. “Ah, your parents set up the account to fund the Order of the Phoenix, Lord Potter. It was reactivated after the Tri-Wizard Tournament was held and the Dark Lord returned to power. The activity was initiated by Albus Dumbledore.” He paused and folded his hands on top of the book. “Is this… a problem, Lord Potter? We were told you were aware of the situation with the Dark Lord and consented to the funding of the Order of the Phoenix.”

Harry considered his words carefully, aware that he really didn’t want to see Dumbledore sanctioned by the goblins for fraud. “It’s fine. I was just unsure of which account was handling the matter.” He checked his parchment. “The account currently has five hundred thousand galleons in it and you handle the investments to keep the balance healthy, correct?”

“Yes, my lord.”

“Good, turn the entire account over to the Order of the Phoenix. Let Albus Dumbledore know that the Order is now the sole signatory on the account. I want it separated from me entirely and I would prefer that the origin of the account be put under a magical seal. I’d rather it not be a matter of public record that I was a party to funding an unauthorized militia group.”

“Of course, sir. It will be taken care of immediately,” Traygor said and then made several notes. “It is a wise choice. How long do you want the seal to last?”

“Set the seal to expire one year after my death,” Harry murmured.

Mr. Brandt cleared his throat. “While that is a wise decision if the Dark Lord were to come to power—it doesn’t provide you with any benefit if the Light should win, my lord.”

Harry frowned at him. “Glory for the sake of vanity is for the weak minded, Mr. Brandt.” He paused and then glanced briefly at Draco. “Besides if Voldemort were to win the war that is coming—it would be because I’m already dead.” He focused on Traygor and found the goblin regarding him with a curious expression. “I’m satisfied with the investments and the returns on my other accounts. I would like to be more aggressive with the secondary accounts while leaving the primary account in safer, well-established options. I will leave you to make those decisions but I would like quarterly reports from you personally on how much money we are making together.”

Traygor smiled. “It is always an honor to make money with a man who respects the circumstances and responsibilities of destiny, Lord Potter.”

– – – –

Harry stripped out of his shirt and was glad that he’d made Draco, the two elves, and his guards from Dumbledore wait out in the lobby of the building. “You looked perturbed, sir.”

Healer Daniels sighed and began his diagnostic. “I want to see you put on some more muscle, Lord Potter. I will have to suggest a workout regimen. Fortunately, you are Muggle raised so you won’t be as horrified by it as some of the wizards I get in here. Running and some weight training would help you build up muscle.”

“Which I need?” Harry glanced over his chest. He’d grown a lot in the months since he’d started visiting the healer—putting on inches and weight but he was still quite thin by his own admission.

“Yes, you need to increase your physical strength and your body stamina. This is necessary for the amount of training you’ll be putting in next summer. Dueling, even magical dueling, is exhausting physically. You have the magic for it, my lord, but your body isn’t prepared for war.” Daniels frowned at him. “I’d really like you to come out of this war in one piece and alive.”

“Me, too,” Harry said with a small grin. He pulled on his t-shirt and then the dress shirt as well. “I’ll work on it. Just send me the instructions and Dobby will make sure.”

“I’m sure he will,” Daniels said with a smile. He handed Harry a new list of potions. “We’re going to increase your nutrients a little, tone down the organ management potion as you are back in the norm for your age group. You’ll have one more growth spurt on the height front so expect at least three more inches in the next two years. Your bone health is really good but I want to keep you on the bone supplement for a full year and then we’ll do quarterly potions for a year after that. You can’t make up for years of malnutrition overnight but if we take care of this now you won’t be a crippled old man at sixty either.”

“I plan on being a very spry sixty,” Harry exclaimed and then sighed as he reviewed the list. “The potion master that I will ask to brew this at school might question you about it. He doesn’t have permission to know why I need the potions but you can confirm that you prescribed them and that they are necessary.”

“Not a problem, Lord Potter.”

– – – –

They’d taken a private dining room at The Leaky Cauldron for the lunch appointment on Draco’s calendar. Bill Weasley had made an appearance as they had entered the tavern and made himself comfortable in the back of the room under a notice-me-not charm. Draco wondered if the wizard had joined the Order officially since he’d gone back to school but didn’t feel like he was in a good position to ask. As far as many assumed, he didn’t even know the Order of the Phoenix existed again. His business with Charles Mortimer had the potential to be unpleasant but he was determined to set everything in his life to rights and that meant getting rid of Mortimer.

Harry had settled into a nice leather chair in the back corner of the room a few feet from Bill with a small snack provided by Dobby. The baby elf was still clinging to Harry’s magic. Draco was loathed to tell his friend that if they didn’t find a female elf for the infant to bond with that he would probably die.  They couldn’t be sure that Libby had given Harry enough magic to help her child survive until he could thrive on his own. Harry was quite taken with the ugly little baby already.

He relaxed in his chair and offered Mortimer a shrewd, insincere smile. He hated the fat, twisted bastard. “Mortimer.”

“Lord Malfoy.” The man grinned. “I was disappointed not to get an invitation to the manor. I do enjoy a meal with your lovely mother.”

Draco’s gaze darkened. “Yes, well, you aren’t the kind of man my father would want his widow socializing with, Mr. Mortimer. It would be unwise for you to make plans to attend my table in the future. As the Patriarch of my family, it is my responsibility to introduce the available women in my family to the right kind of people.”

“Too good for my money, are ya?” Mortimer snorted and glanced at Harry who hadn’t bothered to even acknowledge him.

“It isn’t like I need your money, Mr. Mortimer.” Draco crossed his legs and continued his artful sprawl. “Elbe.” The elf passed him a small leather packet.

Draco tossed it across the table. “That represents your interest in Lair Potions, Inc. This is a one time offer.”

“If I don’t accept?”

“I’ll sell my share of the company to the first Muggle-born I can find and for one galleon. Since I own sixty-five percent of the company, I believe you might find such an environment restraining.”

“You wouldn’t!”

“I would,” Draco promised. “Hey, Potter, do you think Hermione would enjoy owning a potions lab? She’d have at least a hundred people to boss around to her heart’s content.”

“I’m sure she’d be thrilled.” Harry looked up from Ollie, Mehen was uncurled and gently hissing at them both. He turned to the snake and said in Parseltongue, “Don’t move too fast, you’ll scare the baby.”

Mortimer blinked in surprise. “You’re really a Parselmouth? I thought that was just… propaganda.”

Harry glanced at him briefly. “Draco, your associate doesn’t have leave to speak to me. Let him know if he doesn’t stop I’m going to tell my psychotic, mass murdering, completely innocent of all charges because the Minister of Magic says so, Godfather that he’s bothering me.”

Draco barely swallowed the laugh as Mortimer paled and stood. “File the parchment at Gringotts and sign over your portion of Lair Potions, Mortimer or our next meeting won’t be civilized.” His gaze narrowed when the man started to protest. “I am every inch my father’s son, Mortimer.”

He took the packet and left the private dining room with a huff and a glare.

“Two more,” Draco admitted and looked up as Tom entered with a tray. “Oh, chocolate biscuits.”

Tom laughed. “I also brought a hard biscuit for the baby to gum on. Baby elves cut their teeth early—usually in the first month.” He offered the treat to Harry after he set down the tray. “It’s already spread all over the ally that a dying elf gave you her magic and her son.”

Harry nodded and frowned. “I have no idea what to do with him, to be honest.  Dobby says I have to keep him close until we can find him another elf to bond with. So far he hasn’t had any interest in the ones I have in my house.”

“Poor little mite,” Tom said as he set up a small table near Harry with a snack for him before setting up Draco’s on the table. “I’ll send in your next appointment, Lord Malfoy.”

“Thanks, Tom, you’re a life saver. With school in session it’s hard to take care of this stuff like we should.”

“Not a problem,” Tom assured.

Draco fussed with setting up his tea to calm down and hoped he’d managed to look as uninterested as his father had in the past when his second appointment arrived.

Stefan Moruse sat down at the chair. “I must say, Draco, your father’s legacy looks very good  on you.” He smirked when Draco blushed and Harry glared. “Relax, I wouldn’t even dream of coming between the two of you. It’s making most of the wizards I know have fits—and that kind of entertainment is rare in today’s world.”

“I take it you saw Mortimer on the way out?”

Stefan laughed. “I’ll spare you the language and his temper. He’s a foul man, my lord; you are well served to be finished with the likes of him.”

“Hmmm.” Draco shrugged and pulled out a parchment. He slid it across the table. “I forced him out of Lair Potions. I’m offering you a choice. I sell my shares of Sweetlake, Inc to you, giving you the lion’s share of the business or I sell them to Philipe Redston. I don’t like Redston. I think he’s an ill-mannered git with extremely poor taste and questionable hygiene. I do, however, like you and figure you’ll enjoy lording your majority share over him.”

Moruse frowned. “He won’t like it but I sure as hell I don’t want a third unknown partner and I don’t want Redston to be the majority share holder either. Why the sell? Sweetlake makes you a great deal of money.”

“You were at my father’s funeral,” Draco said shortly. “In order to fulfill the promise I made him I’ve had to make concessions and changes in my life. That means that projects like Sweetlake, no matter how profitable, no longer fit with the image I need in order to be an effective member of the Light.”

Moruse glanced at Harry and nodded. “Alright then. I’ll buy your shares and leave you the option to return if you get bored with being good. It’s really over rated.”

“Here, here,” Harry muttered and grinned when Moruse looked him over. “Do be careful, sir, dragons are notoriously short tempered.”

Moruse straightened in his chair and blushed. “Yes, well, the two of you make quite a picture and power has always interested me in ways that are best left unsaid in the company of such young wizards.”

Chapter Nine

Keira Marcos

In my spare time I write fan fiction and lead a cult of cock worshippers on Facebook. It’s not the usual kind of hobby for a “domestic engineer” in her 30’s but we live in a modern world and I like fucking with people’s expectations.

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