Professor Stone was an imposing man and his place in the center of the dueling stage settled Harry. The minister and his reporter were on the front row of the audience and he really didn’t want to be involved with the man after it was over. He hoped that Higgs managed to injure him enough to get him taken to the infirmary after the duel.
“Silence!” Stone shouted. He pointed to the glowing marks on the stage and Harry put his right foot on the mark. Higgs took his place with a well practiced sneer. The audience shifted in their chairs. “Wands out.” Stone ordered. Harry loved the feel of the wand sliding up over his wrist and into his hand—no matter how fast it actually was—the sensation was slick and sexy. Stone stepped off the stage and Higgs shifted forward on his feet. “Begin!”
Higgs sent a stinging hex that slashed across his chest but Harry didn’t blink. The hide of his vest absorbed most of it. He pushed the small flash of pain aside without making a sound and then threw one back at Higgs that made the older boy scream and then lunge forward with a furious shout.
Harry blinked in surprise as the snake poured out of the older boy’s wand—aware that he’d actually said the spell incorrectly—he hadn’t conjured a snake. He had summoned one. The cobra rose up on the stage and hissed at Harry as he cast a stunner that Higgs dodged.
“Accio cobra!” Harry shouted and the snake flew to him. He caught it without hesitation and it coiled around his left wrist and struck out at Higgs with a vicious hiss. “Avis!” Three ravens flew out of Harry’s wand, causing Higgs to duck and turn his back briefly on him. Harry rolled his eyes and threw a strong, malicious stinging hex at the boy for being an idiot.
Higgs fell briefly to his knees, but rolled quickly and threw a cutting hex that hit his cheek—causing a shallow but painful slash. Harry casually tossed the snake at Draco. Malfoy caught it without hesitation and the cobra curled around his arm without trying to bite. Harry wiped at his cheek as he cast a shielding charm.
“First blood to you then, Higgs.”
Higgs smirked and bowed before casting again. “Sectumsempra!”
The hex hit Harry’s shield and it burned away but it was strong enough to keep the curse from actually hit him. He knew that curse because Sirius had taught it to him—it was nasty and vicious. He threw three stunning hexes at the older boy that had him dodging around the stage like a badly coordinated dancer. The boy turned and shouted, “Aperio animus!”
Harry let the spell flow over him and the urge to shift was there—but Higgs was nowhere near as powerful as Minerva and he threw it off within a few seconds. He caught Terence in the side with a stinging hex, putting enough power in it that he screamed and then suddenly Harry was done. It just wasn’t in him to torture another human being.
He caught Terrence with a sticking charm on his feet. The older boy turned but before he could cast, Harry threw up a shield with his left hand and shouted, “Reducto!” The curse hit Higg’s wand arm and the sound of the bones crushing in his lower arm was audible in the near silent room. “Expelliarmus!”
Higgs fell to his knees on the stage, moaning softly in pain, his eyes dark with pain and fury as Harry caught his wand.
Stone stepped onto the stage between them. “I call this duel settled. Lord Potter is the undisputed victor.” He held out his hand and Harry handed him Higgs’s wand without hesitating. “My Lord, do you consider this matter settled?”
“I do. Nothing further ever be said or done.” Harry bowed formally and let his wand slide back into his sleeve.
The ward around the room lifted as Harry stepped down off the stage and Draco stood, the snake was coiling gently around his friend’s wrist in a way that was beguiling and affectionate.
Harry reached out and stroked the cobra’s head. In Parseltongue, he spoke, “I apologize that you were jerked from your home and made to be here today against your will.”
The snaked shifted up and his head flared. People around them backed off and dimly Harry could hear Delores Umbridge demanding that someone banish the snake. “We can’t banish a living creature without cause,” Harry snapped and stared hard at the woman. “In case you missed it, Professor, Mr. Higgs didn’t conjure a snake, he summoned one. Considering the species isn’t native to England I would say he stole someone’s pet or he was taken from a potions lab within a hundred miles of the school.”
Umbridge flushed with fury because people all around were nodding their agreement. “You threw a real snake at a fellow student? Headmaster Dumbledore, he attempted to kill Lord Malfoy right in front of you!”
“I did no such thing,” Harry returned dryly. “Draco is one of the few people in the room that I knew could handle the snake and it would have been a gross act of cruelty to kill or banish the snake. The only other person I could have given him to in the room was Professor Snape and he was busy.”
The cobra stirred and then left Draco’s arm to curl around Harry’s wrist next to Mehen. It hissed at Harry, “We are kindred.”
Harry inclined his head and responded, “Yes.” People around him shuddered slightly as he hissed at the snake. He glanced at the stage, not surprised to find that Higgs had already been taken from the room. He turned to Dumbledore, “Headmaster, with your permission, I will take the snake to the potions lab and we’ll create a living space for him until we can find his owner.”
“Of course, Harry.” Albus waved him away, cheerfully ignoring Delores.
Ron, Hermione, Draco, Theo, and Neville followed him out of the hall. They were all silent as they went down into the dungeon. Hermione and Draco worked together to create a large glass enclosure for the snake on a side work table while Neville, Ron, and Theo worked out a suitable sand to line the box with.
Harry stroked the snake gently. “Are you hungry?”
“Will you tell me where you came from?”
“Not good place, I will stay here with the magical children.”
Harry laughed and let the snake go into the glass enclosure. “He wishes to stay with the magical children and he’s hungry.” They settled a heavy-duty screen over the cage. “Well, he’s a gorgeous beast—quite fitting I believe for this part of the castle.” He withdrew his wand and cast several heating charms on the glass tank to give the snake the proper environment. “We should let the first years name him.”
“He doesn’t already have a name?” Hermione questioned—leaning in to look at the snake now that it was safe.
“No, not like we do. Their world is just very different from ours.” Harry’s thumb drifted over Mehen on his wrist. “Snakes are…honest and not particularly interested in humans for the most part. They’re very single minded, more selfish than you’d even expect, but cunning and they have a dry humor.” He grinned. “Kind of like Draco.”
“Fuck you, Potter.” Draco didn’t even glance at him as he held a wiggling mouse over the cage. “Why should the first years get to name him? You threw him at me… I think should get to name him.”
Harry shrugged and then smiled indulgently. “Okay, you name him.”
“Obviously we should call him Salazar.” He grinned when Harry laughed.
Hermione transfigured a gold plate with the name Salazar on it and they affixed it to the cage before the snake snatched the mouse from Draco’s fingers and Hermione screamed in horror as it swallowed it whole and alive.
“Gross.” Hermione shuddered and turned away. “I’m glad I already ate lunch.”
“Lord Potter!” Healer Daniels appeared in the doorway, clearly flustered.
“Adam.” Harry smiled and waved. “Didn’t you go to Hogwarts?”
“Yes, my Lord.” Adam glanced around the potions room. “I was a Slytherin myself, you know.”
“I have long suspected—when you lecture you sound specifically like Professor Snape sometimes.” He grinned when the Healer blushed. “Especially that tone he gets when he’s really irritated and says my name like it has extra syllables.”
Adam inclined his head, glared briefly, and motioned Harry to follow. “Come, you’ll need to be examined in private.”
“You can use my rooms. I have an entrance in the hall outside of the Slytherin rooms.” Draco motioned them to follow. A portrait swung open for him without him saying a word and he ushered them into an elegantly appointed suite.
Harry allowed Adam to prod him into Draco’s bedroom and the door was shut. “I’m fine, you know.”
“You extended a great deal of magical energy.” Adam withdrew his wand and motioned Harry to take a seat. “Some of it wandless. I didn’t know you could do that.”
“It comes and goes,” Harry admitted. “I don’t always… some of it is just instinct. Shields, cushioning charms, levitation, and summoning objects across the room.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Shield charms are a lot more work with the wand than without.”
Adam nodded and continued to cast charms. “I want you to take an extra nutrient potion but you seem to be in good shape.” He cleaned and healed the cut on Harry’s face with quick flick of his wand. “How are you sleeping now that the curse damage has been cleared up?”
“I’m good,” Harry murmured. “Better than I have been in the last few years actually. I don’t think I realized how little sleep I got until it was over. Though I admit I sleep better when I can talk Draco into snuggling with me.” He blushed when Adam laughed. “Which admittedly doesn’t happen often—he’s such a Slytherin.”
“Well, if anyone would know to snuggle with a snake it would be you.” Adam cast another charm and sighed at the results. “Let’s talk about some exercise again and flying around on a broom isn’t going to cut it. You need to build up some muscle mass—you’re doing well for the time we’ve had to work on this but I’d like to see you lifting weights and running.”
Harry sighed. “Right. I’ll work on it. I’m sure Dobby will have the way of it. I suppose they make magical weight benches or something?”
Adam agreed. “Dobby will take care of it—we’ll use a few potions as well. Nothing that will build artificial muscle but something that will encourage muscle growth safely and I’d like you to increase your caloric intake for awhile to get some weight on you. Swimming would be good.”
“I have a pool at the manor but nothing…” He frowned. “I wonder if the Room of Requirement could provide a pool?”
“I don’t see why not, the Room is nothing less than a magical miracle,” Adam said ruefully.
– – – –
Fudge was waiting with the reporter from the Daily Prophet when they came back upstairs. The dueling stage had been removed and the tables were back in place for dinner. Harry was pleased to see she didn’t have a one of those automated quills like Rita had favored. He hated those things and was glad to see that the changes they’d enforced on the staff of the paper were going in the right direction.
“Lord Potter,” Fudge said with a broad grin as if he was using Harry’s title to humor him. “This Matilda Finch with the Daily Prophet.”
“Madame,” Harry inclined his head and his gaze dropped to the pendant she wore—it was a stylized version of the company logo they’d designed for Serpent & Dragon, Inc. A silver dragon and a jade green snake twined together.
She touched her jewelry. “The Serpent of Truth and the Dragon of Retribution.”
He almost laughed. “I see. It’s nice to know that the Daily Prophet will be focusing on the truth in the future. The days ahead require level heads and honesty.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” Fudge said broadly and Harry fought the urge to roll his eyes. “I was telling Ms. Finch that you would be thrilled to give her an interview.”
“Actually, I wouldn’t,” Harry returned dryly. “I’ve had a full day and I’m quite exhausted. I hope that isn’t a problem, Ms. Finch.”
“No, of course not, Lord Potter. May I ask two questions?”
“Two questions,” Harry agreed.
“Why did you challenge Terence Higgs to a duel?”
“He endangered the life of my Heir, an underage wizard, with a foolish and ill-timed prank.” Harry lifted an eyebrow. “And your second question?”
“Are you involved with Draco Malfoy romantically?”
Harry blushed. It was certainly a very pointed and direct question. “My relationship with Lord Malfoy is complicated. We share a unique bond—we’ve both had a parent sacrifice themselves for the Light and die at the hands of Voldemort.”
“So you do have a relationship with Lord Malfoy?”
“That, Ms. Finch, is question number three.” He gave her a short bow and with a quick smile left her and the Minister in the entryway of the hall.
Harry didn’t figure he’d escaped the Minister that easy so he wasn’t surprised to see him in the dining hall for dinner but the reporter was gone. That meant whatever Fudge had planned next that he didn’t want the Finch woman around to write about it.
Several people in Gryffindor were looking at him like he was crazy but that wasn’t much of a surprise. The Parselmouth thing had been a stumbling block for him since second year and he really didn’t see it going away. It made him furious, in more than one way, because it made him ashamed of his Animagus form on some level. He hated that and part of him hated them for making him feel like a freak—more of a freak than the Dursley’s had ever been able to accomplish.
He focused on his food and tried to smile when Sirius scooted in next to him and made a few of the first years go pale. That probably wasn’t going to get old and from Sirius’ truly devious smile he figured his godfather agreed. He made sure to eat lots of protein and when Dobby appeared with a cup of liquid—Harry drank it without pausing. He held onto the cup and handed it back to Dobby when the elf returned. He didn’t want anyone at the table checking it out or accidently reusing it.
After dinner, he was herded back into Dumbledore’s office and Sirius had come along. He’d immediately picked out the most comfortable chair in the room where he pulled out a cigar he claimed came from Cuba and lit it with his wand. Fudge had glared at him briefly but had quickly averted his gaze when Sirius quirked an eyebrow at him and then slowly winked.
Harry had been able to keep from laughing but it had been a near thing. He settled in the same chair he’d sat in before the duel and crossed his legs. He wanted to run screaming from the room but that wasn’t very adult of him.
“Now, Harry, in a few weeks there will be several events that the Wizengamot members are expected to attend.”
“You mean fund raising events for your election campaign,” Harry translated. “I wasn’t aware that the members of the Wizengamot members were required to attend such events for the incumbent Minister of Magic. It doesn’t seem… fair to the other candidates if that is true.” Harry watched the man sputter. “I was invited to Godric’s Hollow recently but I declined the invitation through my solicitor. If you would like me to attend any political fundraisers, Minister, you’ll have to go through Mr. Riser’s law firm. He’s simply in a better position to determine what is in my best interest politically. Additionally, I’d want to speak with my account manager at Gringotts concerning my financial concerns.”
“I am expecting your full support, Lord Potter.”
“Are you?” Harry asked. “Perhaps if you’d proven yourself a good and honest man in the past you’d have the right to expect that. You ignored me in my third year when I told you that Peter Pettigrew was alive. If you hadn’t ignored me then—I have to wonder if Pettigrew would have still been at large and in a position to help Voldemort resurrect himself when I was kidnapped. I guess we’ll never know.” Harry raised an eyebrow when Fudge started to protest. “But perhaps I can overlook that—I mean I was a child, right? A lonely child with a bad home life who desperately wanted to reclaim some small bit of family? But what could possibly explain you going out of your way to tell everyone from here to Paris that I was a liar and mentally ill when I said that Voldemort had returned, when you knew I was being honest. After all, you had Aurors interrogate me like a criminal for hours over that very subject.”
Fudge flushed. “I was afraid and I didn’t want to believe you, Harry, surely you understand that.”
“You fear Voldemort?” Harry questioned then nodded. “Many people in my life fear that monster but they don’t mistreat children and paint them in the press as psychotic. It makes me worry about you, Minister Fudge. If you would prey on a child and use a person like Delores Umbridge to spy on a school because of your fear—just what else would you do to pacify that fear? Would you stand in the face of Voldemort and tell him no not once but three times? Would you sacrifice your life for another? Do you love anyone but yourself, Minister Fudge? How much do you allow your fear to rule you?”
“I was never tempted by the Dark—not when he came the first time and I won’t be tempted now. You don’t understand what it was like the first time, however, you were just a baby.”
“Fear is debilitating, Minister Fudge. It makes you weak and ineffectual. So to answer your unspoken question, no, I will not endorse you politically. I will not support you publically. A war is coming and men like you aren’t strong enough to do what must be done to protect the public or really even themselves. You’d be better served retiring from public life and hoping that when Voldemort does reclaim his power base that an ex-Minister of Magic is the least of his concerns.” Harry stood and smoothed his hands down his robes. “I won’t endorse anyone in the incoming election, Minister Fudge. Let’s see how you do on your own merits. If you attempt to use my name or my reputation for your own gain—I will find someone to endorse so quickly your head will spin.”
Fudge glared at him. “Do you think I can’t compel your support?”
“I think you’d be an idiot to try but then you’ve already proven yourself quite foolish when it comes to me,” Harry replied evenly. “What you would do good to remember, Minister, is that I’m fifteen years old and I’ve stood in front of Voldemort not once but four times only to walk away from it relatively unharmed.” He stroked a finger over his curse scar. “Do you want to know how?”
“Everyone wants to know,” Fudge snapped and then flushed, furious.
“I don’t fear him. Tom Riddle has my pity and my hatred—but the last thing he’ll ever get is my fear. To quote a famous Muggle author, fear is a mind killer.”
– – – –
Draco had delivered a small note to him from Snape after he’d left the Headmaster’s office. They walked down to the dungeons together—walking as close as they ever allowed in public despite the rumors of their relationship.
“Fudge was a prat?”
Harry laughed. “Yes. He told me he expected my support for Minister and when I told him no—he grew quite upset. I told him I wouldn’t endorse anyone at all unless he does something stupid like use my name to further himself.”
He quickly found himself in the potions lab where they’d set up Salazar’s cage. Snape was at his own work station with a large cauldron burning on a low flame. He motioned them forward and eyed Draco briefly. “Potter, I need to ask you some questions about the potions that Daniels left. Are you comfortable answering those questions in front of Draco?”
Harry nodded. “Sure.”
“The nutrient potion he’s prescribing to you is extremely potent,” Snape began. “You’ve been on it for far longer than most Healers would allow. Is this related to the ceremony we participated in August?”
“No, though that ceremony did tax my body heavily as you know,” Harry admitted. He pulled his wand and flicked the doors shut in the room and put a heavy privacy charm on it. “Sir, if you would ward the room for privacy, I would appreciate it. Rita is an unregistered animagus—a beetle so please keep that in mind when you cast the ward.”
Snape withdrew his wand and did as instructed. “Done. I assume you have the ability to cast such wards.”
“This is your space and you are in a better position to understand what is required,” Harry murmured. He sat down on the stool that Draco provided and waited until Malfoy had settled beside him. “You might have noticed that I’ve gone through a growth spurt in the past few months. It was medically induced—Healer Daniels has been working to undo years of malnutrition and physical abuse at the hands of my Muggle relatives.”
Snape’s gaze narrowed. “Petunia allowed her husband to abuse you?”
“Yes, and she paid for it. She had a small amount of magic herself—nothing to speak of in the scheme of things but she was not quite a squib. When I claimed my title, her magic left her and I had to put her in a clinic to have her treated for the damage left behind as a result.” Harry shrugged. “Daniels wants to keep me on that nutrient potion for at least a year and then do quarterly boosters for another year after that. My bones, organs, and bones were damaged by the habitual starvation. Often, I was fortunate to get a small meal every day when I lived with my aunt.”
Snape’s lips pressed together. “Why didn’t you say?”
“I grew up with bullies, Professor. My uncle, my cousin, and my cousin’s friends—the first thing I learned is not to expose myself to someone with the power and the desire to make me miserable. I’m entirely certain you hated me on sight. I really didn’t think you’d believe me.”
“I don’t hate you, Potter,” Snape frowned at him. “I had made assumptions about you and you were a reminder of the friendships that I lost.” He checked his cauldron. “How is the nutrient potion working for you?”
“Adam seems pleased with the results. He has my permission to consult with you about the potion itself but he did make an unbreakable vow regarding the rest of my medical information.”
“His Healer’s Oath wasn’t enough for you?” Severus questioned coolly.
“I have had adults abuse my trust for as long as I could remember,” Harry said as he stroked his fingers along Mehen’s body. “My life hasn’t been my own—not when I lived with the Dursleys and certainly not for the first four years I attended school here. Fudge just spent half an hour trying to manipulate me into supporting him for re-election—like he didn’t spend the first two months of the summer telling everyone who would listen that I was crazy and a liar.”
Snape snorted and picked up his stirrer to work with the potion in front of him. “I will speak with Daniels regarding the potions he has prescribed. Does he have permission to discuss his goals regarding the different potions?”
“I will give it to him,” Harry murmured and then slipped off the stool. “Was there anything else?”
Snape’s mouth tightened again. “Does Dumbledore know about your relatives?”
“I told him this summer. It was all I could do to keep him from killing my Uncle.”
– – – –
Draco was sprawled elegantly on a large couch in the Slytherin common room when Higgs returned from the infirmary. The older boy glared openly at him and people around the room stilled.
“The difference between Potter and myself is that he wasn’t interested in maiming you…” Malfoy murmured. “He also wasn’t taught to fight at my father’s knee, Terence. Whatever you have on your mind—you should reflect on that first before you draw your wand.”
“You’re a blood traitor,” Higgs seethed. “Just like Longbottom and the Weasleys and any other pure blood that kisses Potter’s ass.”
Malfoy threw an arm over the back of the couch. “It could be argued, Higgs, that I’m not a pure blood. My father didn’t care about those things, you know, how could he? He was married to a woman with Veela blood and he knew before they ever married. Lucius enjoyed power and perhaps he was dramatic enough to enjoy being feared by people he found inferior.” He sneered as he inspected Terence. “And I assure you—he found your entire family inferior regardless of your dubious blood status. After all, you only claimed four generations of ancestral magic when you came of age.”
– – – –
“Wizards and witches who share blood create a pool of magic that endures even after members of the family die. Some people say that ancestral magic is sentient but the theories differ wildly on that subject.” Draco leaned against the desk in front of the class as he spoke. “Most of you will come into your magical inheritance in your seventeenth year. You shouldn’t think of it like a pool of energy that must be shared by a family—it isn’t diluted if a family is large but rather expands exponentially with families like the Weasleys—who have connections with most of the other pure blood families in magical Britain.”
Hermione raised her hand and then flushed when Draco laughed. He nodded and she leaned forward. “So, my magical blood connects me to other wizards and witches if we share an ancestor?”
“Yes,” Draco nodded. “For instance—I received my Malfoy ancestral magic when I claimed my father’s title. Ancestral or blood magic is the most powerful of all the magic that we as magical beings can wield. I am the Patriarch of my family which gives me ritual powers over my entire family—I can make blood oaths on behalf of every witch or wizard that shares my ancestral magic. This is why many entire families become heavily involved in the same causes. Making a blood oath on behalf of an entire family can be dangerous for the Patriarch which is why most Death Eaters have never made the mistake of trying to commit their entire family to Voldemort.”
“Because it would damage their magic?” Hermione questioned.
“Because if one member of their family attempted to violate such an oath—it could weaken the well of their ancestral magic in the backlash. While individuals within the family wouldn’t lose their magic—the oath breaker would lose theirs.”
“What is in this well?” A Hufflepuff Muggle-born that Draco had never spoken with questioned.
“Gifts—magical gifts such as being a Parselmouth, an Animagus, wild magic in older families, and the talents for such things as potion brewing, transfiguration, and charms. We carry this connection to ancestral magic in our bodies from birth—it’s in our blood,” Draco responded. “I think Muggles use something called DNA to analyze their blood heritage. We have charms and spells that we can use to define how ancestral magic influences us.”
Hermione hesitated to raise her hand again but smiled when Draco nodded. “What happens when a person is disowned?”
“Disowning someone is an extremely involved process and is ritualized to the point of being almost absurd,” Draco admitted. “It’s difficult because the decision to excise someone from an ancestral magic well requires a great deal of thought and shouldn’t be done in the heat of the moment. In fact, it’s impossible to perform the ritual if you’re angry. The magic requires a clear mind and a calm disposition.”
“I met your uncle and cousins—you all kind of look alike.”
Draco grinned. “Familiar traits such as hair color tend to be passed along. The Weasleys and the Malfoys are prime examples of this in pure blood families. Our own Lord Potter is another example, as he looks a great deal like his father. The surprising factor is, of course, that he has his mother’s eyes. Lily Evans Potter had to be an extremely powerful witch to pass on such a trait to her only child. The Potters have fifteen generations of ancestral magic and they are loosely connected to most of the pure blood families in Scotland and Great Britain. Potter and I share familial connections by marriage through the Black family and the Malfoy’s are connected through the Black’s to the Weasley family as well.”
Kevin Wesley leaned forward. “Lord Malfoy, what does that mean for us that don’t… have family?”
Draco’s face softened slightly. “The fact is, Kevin, that even though you don’t have any immediate family that the Ministry could find for you to live with… magical children, especially children as magical as you just don’t appear out of thin air. Your parents were a witch and a wizard and you have ancestral magic inside you—in your blood waiting until you reach your majority so it can settle on you.”
“My mum’s or my dad’s?” Kevin questioned softly.
“Well, let’s look at two people in the room as an example.” Draco looked at Harry who nodded and pushed away from the wall.
Harry shrugged out of his robe and put it on the table Draco had been leaning against. Malfoy grinned.
“Okay, as many of you might have noticed, Harry has changed quite a bit since his ancestral magic settled. On his father’s side, he claimed fifteen generations of ancestral magic—as many of the older kids in the room had demonstrated for them—Harry is a Parselmouth. He’s always been one. These innate gifts are settled on an individual long before they come into their magical inheritance. Potters are a Light family so it’s always been quite scandalous that they are Parselmouths. He came into his ancestral magic early because he claimed his father’s title and the duties of his title required it and like you, Kevin, he has no immediate family. His Heir is several times removed.”
Harry didn’t blink when Draco pulled his wand. “What will you cast?”
“A really simple paternity charm,” Draco murmured. “Ostendo abbatis!”
Draco’s magic shifted over him and started to glow—and then gold writing started to appear in the air around him and he saw the Potter Family tree displayed. He reached out and touched his father’s name with trembling fingers and laughed softly. “Sometimes, magic breaks my heart you know.”
Draco blinked at him in surprise. “Harry…”
“No, it’s okay.” Harry smiled but his eyes were bright with unshed tears. His fingers drifted over the smokey gold ink of his mother’s name. “How can I see more about her? There is nothing in the family grimoire about her beyond the basic details.”
Draco frowned intensely. “No one has ever done this for you before?”
“No.” Harry shook his head.
“Ostendo genetrix!” Draco flicked his wand gently and the spell changed. “Your mother, my Lord Potter.”
Harry blinked in surprise as his gaze flicked up over the family tree and he choked on his surprise. He looked at Draco who was suspiciously more pale than he’d ever seen his friend and lover ever be. “Is that what I think it is?”
“Yes, it is.” Draco swallowed. “Merlin, Potter, if I wasn’t completely mad for you I’d be furious right now.”
Everyone in the classroom started laughing.
Harry bit down on his lip and then gently touched the names of Godric Gryffindor and then Salazar Slytherin with a reverent look on his face. “Perhaps this is why the Sorting Hat let me chose.” He winced at people all over the room gasped. “Oops.”
“What do you mean let you chose?” Ron demanded. “Harry! You never told us it let you chose your house.”
Harry shrugged. “Ron, can you lecture me later? Right now I’m still trying to get my head around the idea that one of my ancestors married a Slytherin and had babies!”
Ron laughed and Draco glared.
“So, what does this mean?”
“It means that you’re the Heir of Godric Gryffindor,” Draco muttered dryly. “And a descendent but not the Heir of Slytherin—as it must be passed down through the male line and you descend from his daughter not his son. You should do a formal inheritance ritual at Gringotts soon so you can claim the Gryffindor legacy. He wasn’t titled but it’s an extreme honor.” Draco used his wand to trace the path on the family tree. “Oh, sorry about spreading that vicious and obviously untrue rumor about you second year.”
Harry sighed. “You bastard.”
Draco grinned and then sobered. “The reason Harry’s family trees are gold is because he is currently the last of his blood line. His Heir is so distantly related to him to not show up with this basic charm. If Neville’s name did appear—it would be in bright silver because he’s living.” He glanced over and found Harry tracing his mother’s name. He took a few steps back so he could cast another charm. “Because I’ve also had my ancestral magic settled, I’m a good example of the difference.” He smiled apologetically to his friend before casting on himself.
The Malfoy tree was a mixture of silver and gold. Lucius Malfoy’s name was in red. Harry frowned and raised an eyebrow at Draco. “What does that mean?”
“It signifies that the my father was the Patriarch of the family when he was killed and that he died fulfilling a life debt on behalf of his Family,” Draco murmured. He touched his father’s name and murmured something so low no one could hear it. A streak of red light poured out of his tree and attached itself to Lily Potter’s name. “Your mother saved the life of my father’s heir and in doing so our Family owed her a life debt. That debt transferred to her son when she was killed.”
Harry nodded thoughtfully. “It speaks to your character that you were still an evil prat to me for years.”
Draco blushed furiously. “I didn’t know!” He waved his wand and cancelled both charms. “Questions?”
Neville Longbottom who was attending more out of house loyalty than need leaned forward a little. “My ancestral magic is settling, Draco. We think it’s because my Dad’s claim on the title has weakened because of Harry’s claim on me as his Heir. Will you cast that charm on me?”
Draco nodded. “Sure, Nev.”
Neville left his seat and presented himself without hesitation and then grinned. “You know, a year ago I wouldn’t have stood still for you to cast on me.”
Draco grinned. “Don’t think I’m not tempted to hex you out of nostalgia—I still would if I didn’t think Potter would challenge me to a duel and embarrass me on a level so primal that six generations of Malfoys would sit up in the family crypt and scream in horror.” He cast the charm for the paternal line and Neville too had a tree forming—it wasn’t complete as Draco’s and it was almost transparent after his great grandparents. “You’re right, Neville, your ancestral magic is settling. It’s probably a response to Harry. He’s powerful and being friends with him is dangerous.” Draco grinned when Harry glared at him. “I was only friends with him for a week before I found myself fighting Dementors in front of Gringotts.”
Kevin immediately raised his hand. Draco smirked at him and the kid blushed sweetly. “Yes, Kevin?”
“Is it true your Patronus is a dragon?”
“Yes,” Draco admitted. “Casting a Patronus takes a lot of magical power and a very happy memory. I have several that I’ve practiced with.” He pulled out his wand. “Expecto Patrunum!” The silver dragon poured out of the wand and was quite small compared to the one he’d cast on Diagon Ally. “He gets bigger or smaller depending on what memory I use. When I think of my Father—I think about the day he taught me to fly a broom and he gets just about as big as this room.”
“Harry, let’s see yours!” The kid focused on him intently.
Draco grinned let his Patronus fade with a flick of his wand. “Yes, Harry, do show us yours.” He wiggled an eyebrow that made Potter glare at him briefly.
Harry sighed and then pulled his wand. He pointed it towards the opposite of the room and cast, “Expecto Patronum!” His stag emerged at a gallop—its hooves snapping loudly against the stones as it burst forward and then turned to regard his wizard with what resembled a frown. Prongs snorted and pawed at the ground impatiently.
“I was just showing you off,” Harry admitted. “You’re very pretty.” Prongs inclined his head as if to agree and shimmered away.
“Is a Patronus supposed to be that solid?” Someone asked in a low tone from the back of the room.
“It takes a great deal of personal magical power to cast a Patronus—the more corporeal they are—the stronger the wizard is,” Draco explained. “You’ll notice the floor is scuffed where the Patronus was standing.”
Harry blushed and sighed. “At least mine wasn’t eating Dementors, Lord Malfoy.” He smirked when several mouths dropped open.
Draco stared at him. “I was uniquely motivated. Protecting one’s self-interest is the fundamental principal of my house.”
– – – –
A shiver slid down his back and he dropped his fork. A single word started resonating in his head. Violation. Violation. Over and over again in a fierce dark voice that sounded like a goblin and Harry stood up abruptly from the table. His skin chilled and he started moving towards the entryway doors of the large hall, completely oblivious to the people calling after him.
Draco caught up with him as he exited Hogwarts. “Harry!” He grabbed his arm.
“Something is very wrong,” Harry hissed and looked towards the front gates of the school. “I feel like a Dementor is sitting on my grave for Merlin’s sake!”
“Harry.” Dumbledore grabbed his other arm and forced him to face him. “Look at me. Does it feel like the wards on one of your homes as been violated? Concentrate to find the location.”
Harry blanched. “Privet Drive. We have to go to Privet Drive.”
Dumbledore and Draco released him and they all three hurried to the gates. The moment they passed through, Dumbledore pulled a piece of candy from his robes and said, “Portus.” He held out the candy. “I’ll apparate ahead of you. This will go off in fifteen seconds.”
Harry took it and Draco smashed their hands together so the candy was pressed between them as Dumbledore disappeared with a small pop. The tug at his naval was as horrific as always. He really hated portkeys. Draco caught him easily as they reappeared inside the house and found easily the most horrific scene Harry had ever seen in the house spread out before him.
His Aunt lay on the floor, deathly pale. His Uncle lay bleeding profusely from the head and his cousin was calmly and with some vigor for his size kicking his father repeatedly.
Harry brushed past Dumbledore who seemed stunned. “Dudley! What are you doing?”
Dudley stopped kicking his father and let the baseball bat that had hung in one hand rather limply fall to the floor. “Harry. Mum’s hurt bad.”
That jumpstarted Dumbledore who immediately rushed to Petunia’s side. “She’s alive but she needs immediate care, Harry.”
“Please take her to St. Mungo’s,” Harry whispered. “We’ll call for Muggle healers after you’re gone.”
Dumbledore disappeared in a pop with his Aunt. Harry rubbed his face with one hand, aware that Draco was standing beside him with his wand drawn. “Tell me what’s happened, Dudley.”
“I came home from school because Mum hadn’t been writing me as often as she should have and when I called there was no answer. I came home and found her locked up in the cupboard.” Dudley waved a hand towards the cupboard that had been Harry’s home for eleven years. “I broke the lock to get her out and when Dad came home—he hit her really hard in the face and called her a freak. I think she must have told him where she was over the summer. I warned her not to—I told her that he wouldn’t remember what had happened because you’d taken care of it.”
Harry glared at his uncle and grimaced when the man moaned softly. Then he turned to Dudley—he was covered in bruises and his arm was hanging awkwardly at his side. “Is your arm broken?”
“Dad used a bat on me,” Dudley muttered. “But I took it from him and returned the favor.”
The front door of the house banged open and Moody thumped into the room with a glare for all three of them. He snorted at the sight of Vernon. “Which one of you finally gave that fat bastard what he deserved?”
“Dudley did it to defend himself and his mother,” Harry murmured. “Can you obliviate Vernon and make him think that Petunia left him? She obviously can’t come back here.”
Moody smirked and nodded. “I’ve been wanting to obliviate him for a very long time.” He looked at Dudley. “What about you?”
“Make him think that he hates me and wants nothing to do with me ever again,” Dudley responded evenly. “He hit my Mum and starved her—he’s lucky I’m letting him live.”
Harry refrained from pointing out that he’d suffered the same in the house. He knew from Dudley’s perspective that Vernon Dursley had crossed a line that should never be crossed. “Dobby.”
His Vassal appeared immediately and bowed. “My Lord Potter.”
Harry almost laughed at the pompous tone. Dobby had been taken lessons from his brother as to not embarrass his Lord in public and they showed in the most interesting ways. “I need Mr. Riser here. There are some legal matters.”
Dobby popped away immediately and then returned in under a minute. “Mr. Riser will come immediately, Lord Potter.”
There was a sharp knock on the open door and Cecil Riser stepped into the house. He shut the door behind him and crossed the small living room to the dining area where Vernon still lay bleeding and moaning. “Well, today is certainly one for small justices.”
Harry nodded. “Cecil, this is my cousin Dudley. My Aunt and Dudley are leaving this house. Can you handle Muggle legal matters?”
“You have a Muggle law firm on retainer to handle such matters that I cannot. They take their instructions from me.”
Harry nodded. “Very well, my Aunt is at St. Mungo’s being treated for injuries suffered at her husband’s hands. Ask her what she wants and help her over see any legal matters that will see her free of this man and take as much of his money as you possibly can. Dudley goes to Smeltings—check to make sure his tuition has been paid for the year and set up a trust for him that will cover the rest of his schooling and moderate expenses until he’s twenty-one unless he goes to university. We’ll discuss that in the future. Buy my aunt a nicer place than this and set her up with a reasonable allowance—taking into account how much money you manage to take from this fat fuck.” He prodded Vernon with his boot. “Moody is going to take care of things on this end.”
Cecil nodded and turned to Dudley who was pale and staring at Harry in shock. “Mr. Dursley…”
“Harry.” Dudley frowned at him. “Why would you do that for me after how mean I was to you?”
“I’m a better person,” Harry returned evenly. “And it would be an insult to my House and a stain on my magic to do anything else. Don’t abuse my generosity, Dudley, and I will be monitoring your grades. If you want to go to university and you can get admitted, we’ll work on that as well.” He glared at Vernon. “It’ll be your job to keep your mum from coming back here to this arse.” He sighed. “Mr. Riser, my cousin, despite his surprisingly stoic appearance is in a great deal of pain. The wards are humming with it—at the very least his arm is broken.”
“I’ll take care of everything and owl you with the details, Lord Potter.”
Harry nodded. “Don’t let anyone mistreat him or my aunt because they are Muggles. I’d be most disappointed if I had to sue them but I would do it without hesitation.”
“He’s no Muggle,” Moody muttered and leaned in a little to glare closely at Dudley. “Not enough magical power to be trained but not exactly a squib either. Bet he’s probably had a few incidents of accidental magic. His response must have triggered the wards.”
Harry glared. “My aunt’s conditions should have triggered the wards. I had Bill Weasley change them on purpose to alert me of any danger she might be in.”
Moody huffed and growled. “I was ordered to take those down by Dumbledore. He said you didn’t need to be taxed by unnecessary protections for your Muggle aunt. Since your cousin has a bit of magic in him—it was enough to set off the blood wards that are still active in the house.”
“I see.” Harry’s nostrils flared slightly and the house around him started to rattle. “I assure you, Moody, that the last thing anyone needs to worry about is taxing my magic with a few protective wards.”
“Right.” Moody nodded. “You in the mood for me to apologize for what I threatened with Black over the summer?”
Harry snorted. “Try again in a few months, right now I’m chewing on the fact that you let your blind faith in Dumbledore nearly get my Aunt murdered by her own husband.”