Birth of the Serpent King – Chapter Five

Chapter Five

“The look on Fudge’s face…” Bill wiped tears off his face and sighed. “Sirius, you would have died laughing had you been there. I had to bite my own tongue to keep from bursting.”

Sirius smirked into his tea. “His father was always blunt like that.” He looked toward Dumbledore. “Is that a problem?”

“A problem?” Albus shook his head. “No, I believe Minister Fudge doesn’t know what to do with himself really when it comes to our young Lord Potter.” He looked down into his tea. “Frankly, I’m not certain what to do with Lord Potter. He’s not much like the boy I left at Privet Drive at the end of the school year.”

“This last experience combined with the settling of his Family magic has changed him,” Sirius said. “You remember how it was with James… his father died, his Family magic settled on him entirely, and then there was Harry. Merlin, he was overwhelmed when the Healer put Harry in his arms.”

“We all were,” Remus admitted. “I didn’t even want to hold him. He looked so fragile and perfect.”

– – – –

Draco,

Minister Fudge is an arse. The man actually tried to order me to publically recant what happened the night the third task ended because it’s hurting his popularity. You’re right. I should sue him.

With Trust,

Lord Hary Potter

The House of Potter

– – – –

Harry didn’t like diagnostics—they made him itch all over. Bill Weasley was regarding him with some amusement as Harry squirmed under the Healer’s wand. “Laugh it up, you know this is horrible.”

Bill grinned. “Most wizards are used to it by the time they reach your age. My mother has been casting similar charms on me since I was days old.”

Healer Daniels chuckled. “Yes, it’s unusual for me to deal with a Muggle raised wizard.”

“Why?”

Daniels paused and then shrugged. “I’m rather expensive due to my experience and training. Additionally, most who are Muggle-born or raised would probably go to St. Mungo’s with any of their problems. Seeing a private Healer is an option for the wealthy, Lord Potter.”

“I see.” Harry sighed as he was released from the charm. “How are things going?”

“Your kidney function has returned to normal but I’m not at all pleased with the progress concerning your stomach and heart. Are you drinking all the potions as prescribed?”

“Dobby makes sure,” Harry answered dryly. “What’s wrong with my heart?”

“It’s working twice as hard as it should have to, actually. I checked your birth records at St. Mungo’s after your first appointment and there were no recorded anomalies concerning your heart at birth.”

“Do you think it’s part of the spell damage?”

“Yes.” Daniels rubbed his mouth. “I’ve been in contact with the Goblins about a specialist as you requested and I believe we’ll be able to meet with that specialist over the Christmas holidays as you suggested. The Killing Curse is designed to burst the heart—I believe the increase in your heart rate is one of the side effects of the curse rebound. What that means, exactly, is unclear.”

“Madame Pomfrey never noticed it before,” Harry murmured. “Could it be that the spell damage I carry is responding to the fact that Voldemort is alive again?”

“Merlin,” Bill muttered.

“It’s possible,” Daniels confirmed. “The spell damage you have is intruding on your magical core and it needs to be removed as quickly as possible. Why you weren’t healed properly as an infant is beyond me.” He made several notes. “I will talk with Poppy and we’ll discuss your heart rate before and after that night to see if there is a difference in her records. Your heart is so far undamaged but it is under stress.”

“But it could take damage if we can’t slow it down to normal,” Harry murmured.

“Yes.”

“And it might even burst,” Harry continued. “Perhaps as if I didn’t so much as stop the curse when I was a baby but simply slowed it down.”

Daniels paled and sat down abruptly. “That would be… I see. I will speak with the Goblins again today about the specialist I requested and perhaps we could arrange another appointment within the week if I can get someone here.”

“Good idea,” Bill said quietly. “I’ll reach out myself and do some discreet inquiries.”

They exited the Healer’s offices a few minutes later, Harry was shaken and a little oblivious to his surroundings as Bill lead him down the street towards Gringotts. Then he felt it—a frigid touch trailing down his spine and the screams drifted over his mind—his mother’s screams. Dementors in Diagon Ally.

“Dementors!” His warning had Bill moving decisively, his arm gripped in one hand while the older wizard held his wand in the other.

It was unreal – ten of them were suddenly rushing down the street towards him while others were reaching out to witches and wizards who had fallen under the brunt of their presence. Momentarily, Harry was rather relieved to realize he wasn’t the only one that fainted around the nasty things.

Bill pushed him against a building and shouted out, “Expecto Patronum!”

Harry gripped his own wand and repeated the spell—sending his stag out into the street in a burst of magic so strong that the building he was pressed against trembled. The Dementors scattered—screeching down the street but not completely retreating.

Expecto Patronum!”

The dragon Patronus was such a surprise that Harry launched briefly forward only to have Bill Weasley shove him back against the building. Draco Malfoy was standing on the steps of the Gringotts, his Patronus snapping and charging at the Dementors in a furious attack. Harry cast his again and the stag burst from his wand towards the last of the Dementors as Aurors started to arrive.

“Draco,” Harry whispered hoarsely. “Bill, get Draco. Don’t let him do something stupid.”

Bill glanced at him surprised but shouted out for Malfoy who rushed down the stairs towards them. He caught the young man’s arm and pulled him behind him with a sharp tug—not so gently planting him beside Harry against the building.

“Are you alright?” Draco demanded, his hand curling into Harry’s.

“Yes,” Harry whispered.

Draco snorted and rummaged through his robes for a few seconds before coming up with a bar of chocolate. “Here. Eat the whole thing. Merlin, Potter, why do those things affect you like this?”

“I hear my parents dying whenever they get close to me,” Harry admitted and then averted his gaze at the looks of horror he received from several people that had huddled around and behind Bill. “My father yelling, my mother screaming, and Voldemort killing them both—over and over again.”

Kingsley Shacklebolt pushed through the crowd and tried to peek at Harry but Bill and Draco had him completely sheltered now. “Is he alright?”

“He’s fine,” Bill snapped. “What in Merlin’s name were Dementors doing on the streets?”

Harry closed his eyes and relaxed against the wall as he swallowed the last of the chocolate. “I want… I need to get out of here.”

Draco moved in close and wrapped his hand around Harry’s wrist—covering Mehen. “Bill, I have him.”

Bill looked between them and nodded. “Don’t go where I can’t get to you, Harry.”

Harry hissed out the word ‘Padfoot’ and they disappeared.

– – – –

Draco barely caught him as they stumbled into the parlor of Number 12, Grimmauld Place. Sirius burst into the room with his wand drawn and Harry fainted.

Draco sighed as he held his friend close and regarded his relative with a grim expression. “Hello cousin, do us a favor and come help me with the Boy Who Lived To Get In Trouble?”

Sirius frowned but holstered his wand. “What happened?”

“Dementors in Diagon Ally,” Draco muttered as they moved Harry onto a couch. He loosened Harry’s collar with ease and then sat down on the edge of the sofa. “He ate a whole bar of chocolate but we should… Dobby!”

Dobby appeared in an instant and his eyes went wide. “Yous not supposed to be here! What’s wrong with my Master Harry Potter?”

“He had a run in with Dementors, Dobby. They didn’t get close but he needs a few potions. Visit his Healer and get what he needs,” Sirius explained as he knelt beside the sofa and brushed Harry’s hair from his forehead.

Draco rubbed his face briefly and took a deep breath. “Harry hears the murder of his parents when he gets near Dementors.” He flinched at the wounded sound Sirius made. “I kind of figured he was staying with you but Merlin, couldn’t you have picked one of the nicer Black residences?”

“The others are being watched by the Ministry. This is the only one that is unplottable. You know our ancestors were an arrogant lot.” Sirius took a deep breath. “He’s okay?”

“He cast his Patronus not once but twice,” Draco muttered. “I’ve never seen anything like it. It was extremely powerful and nearly solid both times. The air bent around him as he cast.”

“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t obliviate you and send you back to your mother,” Sirius murmured.

Draco reached out and took Harry’s hand—purposefully, he pressed his thumb against the signet ring and whispered, “Fortius quo fidelius.”

Sirius sat back on his heels as he watched a soft green glow form around the two of them. “That’s a Liege Oath.”

“Yes,” Draco murmured. “Freely given and sealed by Goblin magic.” He lifted his thumb from Harry’s ring and the glow faded. “It is the least of the things I will do to honor my father’s sacrifice in the years to come.”

Harry shifted and groaned then. “You’re holding my hand.”

“Yes.”

“In front of Sirius,” Harry snapped and tugged his hand free. “Just for that I’m going to flirt with you in front of your mother at the very first opportunity.”

Draco laughed and stood. “Let’s get the fussy young Lord Potter a pot of tea.”

– – – –

DEMENTORS ATTACK DIAGON ALLY. HAS THE MINISTRY LOST CONTROL?

Harry snorted at the headline and rubbed the back of his neck. Draco had gone home before anyone else could arrive so he’d been stuck being pampered within an inch of his life by Molly Weasley and Sirius for the last four days. Witch Weekly had done a report on his comments regarding what he heard when the Dementors came near him and the wards around Grimmauld Place had to be strengthened to keep the owls away.

All of his mail had diverted to the Headmaster’s office at Hogwarts instead and Dumbledore and come through the floo the third day with a big red bag full. Hermione and Harry had laughed so hard that Molly had threatened them both with a calming draught.

“Another marriage proposal,” Fred announced and then cleared his throat. “My Dear Lord Potter, I am writing to you to offer the hand of my youngest daughter, Parvati.” He glanced at Harry. “Didn’t you take her to the Yule Ball?”

“Merlin,” Harry muttered and reached over to snag the letter. He dropped it into a pile near him. “If I don’t respond—people will think me rude, but if I do respond she’ll probably glare daggers at me all year.”

“Here’s a letter from Narcissa Malfoy.” Ron offered it to Harry unopened. “Looks like something official.”

Harry nodded. Dobby played messenger for nearly all of his correspondence with the Malfoys due to his living arrangements. Very few owls managed to get through the wards and despite Sirius’ knowledge of his relationship with Draco—Harry wasn’t ready to tell the others.

“I heard Malfoy’s Patronus is a dragon,” George said. “That’s pretty cool.”

“Makes sense,” Harry murmured as he opened Narcissa’s letter. “His name means dragon and there is a dragon on his family crest. I wonder if it changed after his father’s passing?”

Lord Potter,

It is my honor to extend an invitation to the Annual Malfoy Yule Ball. I believe it would be an excellent opportunity to launch you into Wizarding society and introduce you to your peers.

Sincerely,

Narcissa Malfoy

The House of Malfoy

Harry tucked the letter into his box that he’d brought with him from the desk in the Malfoy slot and noted saw that Dobby had added a task in his notebook for him to respond to the letter.

“She invited me to a Christmas party,” Harry murmured.

“Not quite a Christmas party,” Remus said from his pile of letters. He was spread out over the sofa with his feet in Sirius lap as they did their part in reading. “The Malfoy Yule Ball is a fairly big deal in Wizarding society. I recommend you attend.”

Harry scrunched up his nose but nodded. “Yeah, okay.” He fully intended on attending just so he could glare at anyone who tried to dance with Draco which made no sense but he was fairly resolved in his duty on the matter.

“Oy! Another marriage proposal,” George snorted and tossed it into the pile. “It’s gotta be the money—he isn’t that pretty.”

“Right,” Fred agreed. “And he’s a nutter.”

Harry stared at them for a second and then shifted so fast into his Animagus form that Dobby screamed. He burst across the room and managed to wrap himself around both twins before they could properly defend themselves. Everyone burst into laughter as Fred and George flailed under the weight and strength of one very sneaky boa constrictor.

– – – –

Draco,

I testify in front of the Goblin Court in two days. I decided to do it before I returned to school because I can’t live with the lies that Fudge has told everyone. Everyone must be on guard, the ministry has to prepare for war and for Voldemort. I would very much like you to attend but I know hearing about it will be difficult for you. I won’t be angry if you feel you can’t.

Lord Harry Potter

The House of Potter

– – – –

Ragnok nodded at a goblin on his left and a deep resonating tone echoed through the hall from the large gong at the front of the room. “The Court calls Lord Harry James Potter to testify at his own request on the matter involving himself, Lucius Malfoy, Cedric Diggory, and the Dark Lord Voldemort on the final night of the Tri-Wizard tournament.” He banged his own fist on the surface of the large table in front of him when the audience erupted with noise. “Lord Potter present yourself to the Court!”

Harry stood and kept his gaze front and center as he walked up the wide aisle and took his place on a raised dais in front of the room. His testimony was a surprise but there were still quite a few wizards and witches in the room. He ignored the rush of sound at the back of the room and the swinging of the doors as people hurried into the room from the waiting rooms and lobby outside the Goblin Court Hall. He purposely pulled Mehen from his wrist and placed him on the table in front of him. Then he placed his wand beside the little metal snake.

Two goblins approached the dais, one with a tray of potions and the other with a staff clenched in one gnarled fist. Goblins rarely used wands but staves were common in their ritual magic. He was given the maximum dosage of Veritaserum after the goblin with the staff verified that he hadn’t been given the antidote and that his mind was unshielded.

“Lord Potter, give your oath,” Ragnok demanded harshly.

Harry took a deep breath and picked up his wand as the Veritaserum started to move in his body. He’d been told that the goblin made version of the truth potion was far more sophisticated than what was widely available to wizards. He didn’t feel like a zombie but he wasn’t in the mood to test how effective the potion would be at punishing him if he lied.

“I, Lord Harry James Potter, solemnly swear on my life and magic to answer all questions posed to me on this day by the members of the Goblin Court honestly without exception. So Mote It Be.” He put down his wand and flinched violently as several spells hit him—one after another from the Goblin staff. A compulsion charm, a truth charm, an honesty hex, and finally an extremely delicate integrity curse that would torture him viciously for each lie he told. He knew about them in advance but feeling them settle on his magic one after another was very unsettling.

“Lord Potter, we will begin with the minutes before you and Mr. Diggory activated the portkey in the maze at Hogwarts.” Ragnok paused and waited until the room was entirely silent. “Whose idea was it for you and Cedric Diggory to claim the Tri-Wizard trophy together?”

“Mine.” Harry’s hands clenched in front of him. “I told him to take it at first and he told me I should take it. I knew he deserved to win—he was the true Tri-Wizard Champion. I shouldn’t have been in the competition to begin with. Finally, we agreed to share it.”

“When did you realize the trophy was a portkey?”

“The moment we touched it—it snatched us away. I’d only felt that sensation twice before but I knew it was a portkey. I don’t know if Cedric understood what it was immediately or not—we never had the chance to discuss it.”

“You landed in a cemetery in Little Hangleton. The Daily Prophet has accused you of cursing Cedric Diggory because you didn’t want to share the trophy. Is that true?”

“No, it’s not. I never raised my wand against Cedric Diggory. Shortly after we landed in the cemetery, we agreed that were in trouble and we both pulled our wands. We heard a voice…” Harry took a deep breath.

“What did he voice say?” Ragnok questioned.

“Kill the spare.” Harry flinched as the audience stirred at those words. “I’d heard that voice before—I knew it was Voldemort.”

“When had you heard Voldemort’s voice?” Ragnok prodded.

“I remember the night he murdered my parents—his voice echoes in my mind but I spoke with him in my first year at Hogwarts when his spirit possessed one of my professors. I also spoke with his disembodied spirit in the Chamber of the Secrets during my second year after I killed the basilisk.” Harry focused on the table in front of him, uncomfortable with the way the amplifying charms around him were making his voice resonate through the now completely silent hall. “I pushed Cedric aside as Peter Pettigrew cast the Killing Curse at him. It blew up a headstone near us but we both managed to fire a few curses back at him.”

“How did you come to know Peter Pettigrew well enough to identify him that night? The Ministry of Magic has the man dead since the week after your own parents were  murdered.”

“I met Peter Pettigrew in my third year at Hogwarts when we discovered that he’d been living in rat form as a student’s pet. I learned that he was my parent’s Secret Keeper and that he framed my godfather, Sirius Black, with mass murder to cover up his own crimes and to throw off anyone who might have suspected that he was, in fact, a Marked Death Eater.” Harry paused when several people in the audience started talking at once and waited until each had been silenced by a near-death glare from Ragnok. “Pettigrew hit Cedric with several curses I’d never heard before and then he stunned me. Neither one us were prepared to duel with an adult wizard and didn’t last long in the fight.”

“What is the next thing you remember?”

“I woke up tied to a headstone and Pettigrew was preparing a large cauldron. He cut my arm and harvested my blood. Then he cut off his own hand, which he dropped into the cauldron along with a child sized body that I never clearly saw. Whatever it was—Voldemort was possessing it.” He ran one hand through his hair and cleared his throat. “I don’t know how much time passed before a body—the size of a grown man—rose up from the cauldron. It was Voldemort.”

“Are you certain?”

“As certain as I can be,” Harry admitted roughly. “It’s not every day you see evil incarnate resurrected with your own blood. I admit to being horrified and genuinely confused by the events. I’m not sure what happened while I was unconscious and at that point I didn’t know if Cedric was alive or not.”

“Then what happened?”

“Pettigrew put a robe on Voldemort and then Voldemort used the Dark Mark on Pettigrew’s arm to call Death Eaters. They begin to appear almost immediately—in a circle around him. Voldemort released me from the tomb stone and told me that we were going to duel. He wanted to prove to his Death Eaters that a child couldn’t have possibly beaten him.”

“He gave you your wand?”

“Yes.” Harry touched his wand with the tips of his fingers as if to steady himself and nodded. “I immediately looked around and tried to find Cedric. He was lying, unmoving several meters away from me. I tried to run to him but I was stunned by one of the Death Eaters. Then I was forced into the inside of their circle and made to stand before Voldemort as if he were really going to duel with me.” He spread his hands wide on the table and pressed down to steady himself. “He looked like a living, breathing nightmare. I see his face in my dreams every night and it never stops being a source of absolute horror for me.”

“Did you recognize any of the Death Eaters in the circle?”

“They were all wearing masks when they arrived but Voldemort unmasked several of them while I was still tied up—I can provide a pensive memory for anyone interested in seeing their faces. I would not be in a position to name any of them except for the names I heard spoken quite clearly: McNair and Goyle. Then he unmasked Lucius Malfoy.”

“Were you aware before this event that Lucius Malfoy was a Death Eater?”

“I had heard rumors that he was a Death Eater during the first conflict with Voldemort and that he later claimed to have been under the Imperius Curse. I do not know if that was true or not—but I have come to understand than anyone wearing the Dark Mark has little free will of their own when they are in the physical presence of Voldemort.” Harry took a deep breath. “The Dark Mark is ripe with compulsion hexes, loyalty charms, and also exists as a magic sink of sorts.”

“Sink?” Ragnok questioned with a frown. “I’m afraid I do not follow, Lord Potter.”

“It is a Muggle reference,” Harry explained. “In situations where Muggle equipment might become overheated—they create a heat sink to help absorb the heat to prevent the equipment from being damaged. In the case of the Dark Mark, the mark acts as a magic sink—pooling magic from Voldemort’s marked followers for the Dark Lord’s own use. He siphons the magic from his own people to enhance himself. It follows that the more wizards and witches that he can mark—the more powerful he will become.”

“Very well.” Ragnok made several notes on the parchment in front of him before focusing once more on Harry. “What happened when the Dark Lord unmasked Lord Malfoy?”

“Lord Lucius Malfoy made excuses for not attempting to help the Dark Lord return to power in the thirteen years since he was banished from his physical body. Voldemort seemed unimpressed with his efforts but chose to forgive him for reasons that are, to this day, unclear to me.” Harry glanced out into the audience and his gaze connected with Narcissa Malfoy’s. “Lucius moved around the circle until he was near me. Voldemort took this as a sign of loyalty, I think. I’m not certain about that either but he said nothing about the behavior.”

“Did Lucius Malfoy interfere in the events that were taking place between you and the Dark Lord?”

“Not at first,” Harry admitted roughly. “Voldemort used the Cruciatus Curse on me several times and seemed surprised that I was able to stand up after he cast it the second time. I don’t supposed he’d ever encountered a fourteen year old with my pain threshold before. I can’t say it didn’t hurt worse than anything I’ve ever experienced—but I learned a long time ago to never let an enemy see how much it hurts.” He looked down at his hands and twisted his ring on his finger as he considered his next words. “He started to curse me again and I tried a disarming hex out of desperation and our wands connected. The spells joined and we were surrounded by this golden light.”

“Do you have any theory as to why your wands might have connected?”

“When I purchased my wand, I was told that it was the brother wand to Voldemort’s. We share the same core from the same phoenix but there appears to be more to the brother wand concept than a shared core. I didn’t question it at the time. It’s lead me to believe that I’ll never be able to successfully duel Voldemort with the wand I currently own. The spectral forms of people Voldemort killed started to pour out of his wand—including my mother and father. I can’t say if they were actually real or not but they told me to hold on until they could gather enough power to distract Voldemort. I tried but he was strong and I was weakened from the Cruciatus.” Harry cleared his throat. “Our wands disconnected abruptly and we were both thrown out of the circle of Death Eaters. I tried to get to Cedric’s body at that point—dead or not I was not going to leave him at the mercy of that monster.”

“But you didn’t succeed at that point?”

“No, someone hit me with a curse—it slashed open my back. The next thing knew I was being dragged back to my feet again so that Voldemort could pretend to duel with me again. He may look like a snake but he’s very much like a cat.”

Ragnok frowned. “Pardon me, Lord Potter? A cat?”

“Cat’s play with their prey before they kill them—they are the cruelest of killers in the natural world. Voldemort is like that—casually cruel. Anyone that would follow him must be completely insane.” Harry cleared his throat. “He threw several curses at me—cutting curses mostly but I was able to dodge most of them. Then I accidently disarmed him—he was furious, as you might could imagine. It certainly didn’t play well for his plan to show his Death Eaters how superior he was to me. I was stunned by one of the masked Death Eaters and when I was revived—Voldemort was leaning over me smiling.” Harry shuddered briefly. “I hurt all over and I couldn’t believe he was going to be the last thing I saw before I died.” He paused at the gasps that elicited from the crowd. “I wasn’t… I hated him so much in that moment. Hated him for what he’d done—how he’d murdered my parents and how he would kill so many now that he’d returned. He is a living obscenity.”

“How did you get away, Lord Potter?”

Harry flushed. “I slapped him across the face. He was momentarily so taken aback by the physical assault that he stepped away from me and proceeded to berate me for resorting to Muggle behavior. I rolled to my feet and then figuring I didn’t have much left to lose—threw myself at him and managed to punch him several times in the face before his Death Eaters pulled me off of him and threw me aside. I landed near Cedric.”

“And then?” Ragnok asked in a somewhat shocked tone.

“I started to crawl toward him and found both his wand and mine in the grass just before I reached him. I turned to try to find the cup—I could only hope and pray that the cup had been set up to return my dead body to Hogwarts as a final insult and a calling card for Voldemort.” Harry closed his eyes and steadied himself because he just wasn’t ready to talk about what happened next.

“Could you see it from your location?”

“No.” Harry shook his head. “But it didn’t matter because Voldemort had recovered and he was livid. He started throwing curse after curse at me—a bludgeoning hex, several crucios, and then I heard Lucius Malfoy shout Stupify! I waited for it to hit me but it didn’t—I was able to turn and watched Pettigrew fall on his face. Then Lucius aimed his wand at Voldemort and moved to stand between us—between Voldemort and me. Voldemort screamed—he was enraged. They started to duel. It was fast and vicious—they both moved so quickly and were using objects around the cemetery to block the more violent curses. Then Lucius banished the Tri-Wizard cup right at me. I grabbed a hold of Cedric and caught the cup. The last thing I saw was him fall under  reductos from several different directions.” He paused and cleared his throat. “I knew he wouldn’t survive an assault like that.”

“Do you have any inkling as to why Lord Lucius Malfoy would chose to defend your life that night?”

“At the time, no. I’d always believed he hated my guts and couldn’t figure out what could have motivated him to act against Voldemort like that.”

“Did you, at a later date, come to know why he might have defended you?”

“Shortly before I claimed my title the Potter family grimoire came into my possession. I learned that the Malfoy family owed my mother a Life Debt at the time of her death. That Life Debt transferred to me. I believe and accept without concession that Lord Lucius Malfoy fulfilled that Life Debt the night he was murdered by Voldemort and his followers as he defended the lives of myself and Cedric Diggory.”

– – – –

He hated the way the taste of Veritaserum taste lingered on his tongue long after it had worn off.

He’d placed one copy of his testimony in the Family vault and had taken another with him. The rest of the Wizarding world would see it un-edited in the Daily Prophet within twenty-four hours. He knew that they would have to print it because the Ragnok had forwarded it to every Wizarding paper and magazine in Europe. They’d also posted it on the front doors of Gringotts and then closed early for the day in the first time in over fifteen years.

Dumbledore had been outside the court waiting for him when he left and had done a lot to make sure they’d been able to get out of the bank and leave unmolested. The entire Wizarding world seemed to have gone silent and it was deafening.

He stared at his tea in silence—everyone in the kitchen was staring at him. Then someone turned on the wireless.

“The crowd gathered outside of Gringotts to read the certified testimony that Lord Harry James Potter provided to the Goblin Court has grown to over a thousand. Diagon Ally is packed as the fifth vocalized reading of the testimony has begun. Shops are closed and Aurors are everywhere trying to keep the peace. We once again live in a world with the Dark Lord. Minister Fudge has been unavailable since the testimony was placed on the doors this afternoon following Lord Potter’s departure from the bank.”

Harry pushed aside his tea cup and lowered his head to his arms. He tucked his face against his elbow and took a few deep breaths. The last thing he wanted was for people to panic and hurt themselves.

A large warm hand settled on his neck and patted his hair hesitantly. Sirius cleared his throat. “You did the right thing, Harry. The only responsible thing you could have done in the circumstances. We need to prepare for what is coming and the Malfoys deserved to have the truth of Lucius’ sacrifice told to the world. Fudge dishonored his Family, disrespected you, and lied to everyone to save face.”

Harry nodded and sighed. “I’d like to lie down for a while.” He stood up and turned to Sirius. “Can I speak to you privately upstairs?”

“Yeah, pup, right behind you.”

– – – –

Harry was finishing fastening his robes when Sirius entered. “I want to go see Draco. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him after the hearing and…”

“You don’t have to explain,” Sirius murmured. “Set a ward on your door and tell Dobby to pretend you’re here and want to eat dinner in private. Everyone should respect that considering what you’ve been through today.”
“Am I wrong to keep the… thing between me and Draco a secret?”

“There are members of the Order who will have a real problem with your relationship with the son of a Death Eater, no matter what his father did with the last minutes of his life. I think perhaps it’s best if you give them a little time to get used to it.”

Harry nodded and tucked his wand into his wrist holster. “It’s not just… it wasn’t just him you know. He bound his whole family in that Liege Oath—every single member of his family.”

“I know. A personal Liege Oath would have glowed blue—a green one tells the world that he has bonded the House of Malfoy and the House of Potter in a very ancient and permanent way. It was an excellent way to protect his Family magic from falling into Voldemort’s hands. As long as they are bound to you—they can’t be forced to take the Dark Mark.”

– – – –

He appeared in a marbled foyer and two House Elves immediately popped into place in front of him, frowning. Fortunately, Narcissa rescued him from their wrath in under a minute and guided him up a beautiful staircase.

“Sorry. I should have owled or sent Dobby in advance but I’m using him to hide the fact that I’m not where I’m supposed to be.”

Narcissa smiled gently. “Quite alright. Draco is in his wing, resting. It was a difficult day for us.”

“I’m sorry I asked him to come—it was selfish of me.”

“Nonsense. He had every right to bear witness to the event that would see his father’s honor returned to him. You could have given him no better gift in this life, Harry.” She paused outside a pair of double doors. “I don’t know how to repay you.”

“You could brow beat the Wizengamot into actually giving Sirius a trial,” Harry responded honestly. “He went to prison for something he didn’t do. He shouldn’t have to spend the rest of his life hiding because Dumbledore doesn’t want him to draw attention to himself.”

Her eyes lit up. “I think I could work with that. I guess I’ll have to set a trap for a rat.”

“Indeed,” Harry murmured and then smiled when she walked away with a truly wicked smile on her beautiful face. He almost felt sorry for Wormtail.

He found Draco in a large room that sort of resembled the common rooms at school. He was sitting in a bay window, a vivid jade green snake curling around his hand. The snake was hissing almost non-stop.

“He’s sorry you’re upset,” Harry murmured. “He wishes he could make it better for you.” He slid onto the bay window beside him. The snake slithered up Draco’s arm and turned in Harry’s direction to hiss some more. Harry grinned. “He’s asked me if I’m your Serpent.”

Draco flushed. “Perhaps.”

Harry stroked the snakes head and responded in Parseltongue, “I’m his Serpent and he’s my Dragon… he just doesn’t know it.”

“His name is Scorpious.” Draco lowered his hand and let the snake slither away from him. “What you did today was extremely brave and completely insane. Fudge may very well try to kill you.”

“Like he did when he let the Dementors lose in Diagon Ally?” Harry questioned and then raised an eyebrow when Malfoy’s mouth dropped open. He laughed then, just a little. “You’re even pretty with your mouth hanging open.”

Draco blushed furiously. “You’re not the same at all, Potter.”

“Well, having read my Family history I can tell you I come from a long line of men hell bent on doing things their own way. My paternal grandfather had one-hundred and thirty six lovers male and female before and after he briefly married my grandmother and managed to make himself an Heir. He died in bed with a witch and a wizard half his age.” Harry grinned when Draco laughed softly. “That’s not true in your family is it?”

“No, Malfoys tend to love for life,” Draco flushed and his gaze dropped briefly to Harry’s mouth. “You know I’ve had a crush on you since that first day when I saw you at Diagon Ally.”

“You’ve been so wretched to me,” Harry murmured.

“Yeah, well, Malfoys don’t take rejection well at all.” Draco looked out the window and sighed. “My mother cried through most of the testimony. I couldn’t even cast a silencing charm to give her privacy because of the Goblin wards in the bank.”

“I’m sorry about that.”

“Don’t be,” Draco shook his head. “As much as it hurt her—as much as it has always hurt her to know the way he died—you made sure our place in society was secure. No one will ever doubt my father’s redemption or his sacrifice for you. Not after the way you held up under that Goblin’s questions. I’d always heard that Goblin Courts were extreme but I’d never witnessed a session before. I think that wizards could learn a lot about justice from them.”

“It was pretty intense.”

“Agreed.” Draco smirked then. “I simple cannot believe you punched the Dark Lord in the face.”

Harry blushed. “He had it coming.” Then he yawned deeply and rubbed at the back of his head with a sigh. “The bastard.”

“You should be sleeping,” Draco admonished. “Why did you come here? Why are you so different?”

Harry reached out touch him and smiled when Draco moved into the touch. He leaned forward little and smiled when Draco did the same. “I do have fifteen generations of magic and mayhem pressing down on me all at once.”

Draco closed the distance between them, his grey eyes flashing. “Don’t mistake me for a girl, Potter. You don’t have to approach me like I’m a going to burst into tears if you touch me too soon.”

Harry pushed his hand into Draco’s hair and pulled him forward. Their mouths melded together in a furious rush, tongues sliding together with the kind of familiarity that should’ve been impossible. Harry’s hand fisted briefly in his hair as they kissed and then with a soft moan he eased back. “I wanted to do that last year—after the first task. You were sitting in the stands and I looked over at you.” He leaned in and kissed him again—a soft brushing of lips before he retreated again. “All I could think was that I wanted you. I wanted to keep you despite how horrible you were being.”

“Me, too. You looked so beautiful flying that day. You’re amazing on a broom, Harry. I’ve never seen anything like it. The first time when I stole Neville’s stupid remembrall, I was in awe of you.” He sighed. “Just amazing and it was so fucking irritating.”

Harry laughed. “Why did you take his remembrall?”

Draco blushed. “You smiled at him that morning at breakfast and you were nice to him. I hated him for it.”

“You’re not allowed to hate him anymore, he’s my Heir.” Harry leaned in and kissed him again. “Your mouth is perfect.”

Draco leaned in and ran his fingers through Harry’s thick dark hair. “I dream of you, Harry. Sweet, hot, desperate dreams—I wake up wet with my own release more often than not. You’re to blame for that.”

Harry smiled then. “How wonderful it would be if I could share those dreams with you.” He sighed. “I should go before anyone realizes that I’m gone.”

“Give me another kiss,” Draco murmured and tugged Harry close. Harry let himself get lost in the soft, exploring kiss until Draco pulled away with a little groan. “Your ancestors are rolling over in their graves at the thought of you taking up with a Malfoy.”

Harry grinned. “No way.” He stood up and shook out his robes. “You’re the easily the prettiest bloke in school and my ancestors were all about having the best of everything.”

Draco stared at him in shock and then huffed. “Get out of my manor, Lord Potter.”

“As you wish, Lord Malfoy.” He touched Mehen and hissed ‘Padfoot’ to return to Grimmauld Place.

– – – –

“I can’t believe he survived this,” Hermione whispered as she set aside the copy of the testimony that Arthur Weasley had brought back from Gringotts. She brushed away tears. “I don’t think I ever understood evil until I found out about magic.”

“Dear?” Molly touched her hand carefully. “Whatever do you mean?”

“Muggles… they talk about good and evil and there are criminals of course. Sometimes there are people who kill because they like it but they rarely have large groups of people following them like they are right. People don’t have polite debates in public about how it’s bloody okay to kill someone because of what they are!” She blushed furiously as Molly sat back away from her abruptly. Tears rolled down on her cheeks. “How can this world be so beautiful and amazing and bloody magical when there are people so evil in it?”

Sirius reached out then and took her cold hand in his. “Easy there. Evil comes in many forms, Hermione, and Voldemort is just one of them. There is balance in this world—Dark and Light. Sometimes that balance is put in danger but it’s always made right again.”

“Everyone will expect Harry to make it right again,” Hermione whispered. “Like he did when he was just a baby. That doesn’t seem fair.”

“He’s powerful,” Sirius acknowledged. “And will become more so as his Family magic fully settles. He’ll change and grow pretty rapidly to you. The responsibilities of his title come with magical consequences. My title was conferred on me six months after Harry was born. It changed me. James ended up accepting his title when he was just eighteen. The differences in him were extreme after even a few months.”

“He’s different already,” Hermione acknowledged. “More focused—less interested in letting me boss him around like he did before.” She blushed when everyone laughed. “I’m serious. Six months ago I’m pretty sure I could have convinced him to free Dobby before anyone explained to me how horrible it would be. Now he just looks at me all indulgent and hands me a book on the House Elf Accord.” She frowned at Kreacher who was half-heartedly washing dishes and then focused on Sirius. “You need to give Kreacher a list of duties—daily tasks, weekly tasks, monthly tasks. He needs stuff to do before his magic just ruins him completely. You know Dobby says he’s fifty years older than Kreacher.”

Sirius groaned. “Hermione, he’s horrible.”

She frowned. “We need paper and ink and a quill. You have to take this seriously, Sirius!” She got up and dashed away.

Molly chuckled. “You’re a good man, Sirius Black.” She patted him and left him there, dejected and very much at the mercy of a fifteen year old girl on a mission.

– – – –

Dobby had arranged breakfast for Hermione, Ron and himself in the library due to the Order meeting that had convened early the next morning. He’d offered to bring Harry’s potions to him so he could take them in private but he figure he didn’t need to hide anything else from the two of them and he’d have to take them for a year.

Hermione and Ron were both staring at the potions when he arrived. “Good morning.”

“Good morning, Harry.” Hermione frowned. “What are the…” She frowned when Ron shushed her. “No, Ron, I want to know.”

“I had a rough time with my Muggle relatives. They pretty much starved me off and on most of my life. If I wasn’t magical—I never would have survived the abuse and neglect. As it stands, my kidneys were damaged and my bones are weak. I have a private Healer taking care of me.”

“I… why didn’t Madame Pomfrey ever notice?” Hermione demanded.

“She’s not a Healer, Hermione, she’s a mediwitch. That’s basically the difference between a nurse and a doctor with Muggles. She doesn’t use half the charms my Healer uses to check me out so of course she didn’t notice.” Harry patted her hand when she frowned. “My Healer and Madame Pomfrey have had several conversations so she knows what to look for with me while I’m on these medications this year.”

“Why didn’t you tell us?” Ron demanded. “That they were starving you?”

“They’ve actually treated me better than they ever did before after I started going to Hogwarts,” Harry admitted. “I was ashamed of it really and I blamed myself. I spent the first eleven years of my life being told I was a freak and that I didn’t even deserve to have a home or friends or family. It was hard getting past that.” He played with his silverware a bit and then picked up the first vial. “Dobby won’t bring our food until I drink them all.”

Ron and Hermione said nothing while he downed the six potions, one by one. They both grinned when the food immediately appeared on the table.

“Does Sirius know?”

“He’s aware and so is Dumbledore.”

“You’re not ever going back there!” Ron ordered and then blushed when Harry raised an eyebrow. “Harry, mate, you can’t go back and live with people who starve you.”

“I won’t, Ron. I promise.”

Two hours later, Harry was answering a letter from his solicitor when Kingsley Shacklebolt appeared in the doorway of the library with a frown on his face.

“Mr. Shacklebolt.” Harry motioned towards the chair. “How can I… has the Minister put out an order for my arrest or something?”

Kingsley laughed but it wasn’t a happy sound. “The man isn’t that big of a fool. The entire Wizarding world is ready to fall at your feet and beg your forgiveness. Every Wizarding paper in Europe has issued formal apologies to you, the Malfoy family, and Dumbledore. I actually wanted to talk to you about the Dementors if you have time.”

“Sure.” Harry set aside his quill and glanced towards Ron and Hermione. She’d bullied Ron into working on his summer assignment for potions. “It’s alright if they stay, right?”

Shacklebolt nodded. “Sure, I know you tell them just about everything.”

Harry grinned. “If I know what’s good for me.”

“Everyone I’ve talked to said you knew they were there before anyone saw them. That you shouted out that there were Dementors a full fifteen seconds before they appeared. Can you explain how you knew?”

“I think you’ll find if you go back and interview the people on the street that fainted—that they felt the air around them go cold before the Dementors actually appeared and you’ll find that they probably witnessed a pretty traumatic event that lead to the death of a loved one. Dementors thrive on those kinds of memories and that’s why people who have trauma in their past are more damaged by their presence than anyone else.”

“So, it’s true. You hear the Dark Lord killing your parents whenever you are around Dementors?”

“Yes,” Harry nodded.

Kingsley nodded. “The ten Dementors that survived didn’t return to Azkaban after the attack on the ally.”

“Then they’ve joined Voldemort,” Harry murmured. “He’ll hold them in reserve, I think. Can Dementors be destroyed?”

“A powerfully cast Patronus can kill a Dementor. Several died that day in Diagon Ally – you and Lord Malfoy both cast a powerful Patronus.”

Harry nodded. “I forced myself to practice over and over again until I could because the Dementors are the only thing… I fear and I can’t give into that kind of fear if I expect to survive.”

“No. I see that.” Shacklebolt took a deep breath. “Could you write up a report about the feelings and the sensations you noted before you saw the Dementors? I think they would benefit our people in the field.”

“Sure.” Harry nodded. “Not a problem at all.” He said nothing else as the older man stood and left the room. Then he turned to Hermione. “Hermione, I need your help writing an essay about Dementors, it seems.”

She grinned and quirked an eyebrow at him as she went in search of another book.

– – – –

Harry,

How dare you come to my home, invade my private space, and kiss me silly? I can’t even think and it’s all your fault. I’m only half-way finished with my Transfiguration essay and I’ve started my Charms essay twice.

Mother has arranged for a tailor to come to our home to fit me with a new wardrobe for fall. Would you like to come as well? You can, of course, bring Bill Weasley. It was very smart to hire your own security and very few people on this planet are loyal to you like the Weasley family.

Ever Loyal,

Lord Draco Malfoy

The House of Malfoy

PS – You can bring Ron and Hermione as well if you want. I’d like to make amends with them both before the school year starts.

­– – – –

Hermione and Ron had taken the introduction of Mehen with an amazing amount of nonchalance that Harry wasn’t so sure was faked. It was like his two friends had just decided to “go with it” on the matter of one Lord Harry Potter and for that he was quite grateful. He’d sent Dobby ahead with a letter letting the Malfoys know that the four of them were set to arrive.

Hermione stumbled briefly but Bill caught her before she fell on her arse on the Italian marble floor that was the highlight of the Malfoy’s foyer. “Wow.”

“Yeah,” Ron said a little wide-eyed as he stood and then helped Harry up.

Draco appeared on the stairs wearing a pair of casual black slacks and a blue button down shirt. “Good afternoon, my mother has sequestered Mr. Arnold in the formal salon.” He offered Harry his hand as he cleared the stairs and blushed furiously when Harry brought him close for a hug. “He doesn’t know you’re here—just that we’ve asked for eight hours of his time today for selection and measurements.”
“Cool.” Harry released Draco reluctantly, aware that he really wanted to lay a kiss on him.

Draco grinned and offered his hand to Bill. “Mr. Weasley, it’s a pleasure to have you in my home. Thank you, again, for what you did in Diagon Ally with the Dementors. Your quick action saved a lot of lives.”

“Call me Bill, Lord Malfoy,” Bill murmured as he took Draco’s hand. “You did quite alright yourself… the Aurors think your dragon Patronus killed several of the Dementors outright.”

Draco smiled then, his eyes hardened. “He always goes big like that when I think of my Father during the casting. He’s not much bigger than me when I use other memories to cast the Patronus.”

“Huh.” Harry frowned. “I should try that. It just took me so long to find a truly happy memory to cast with that I didn’t experiment with others.”

“Your Patronus is already quite impressive, Potter.” Draco rolled his eyes when they all laughed. “Call me Draco, Bill. I’d heard you were in town and on leave from Gringotts. I actually contacted them earlier in the month regarding a part of the manor that my Father had warded heavily. I’m entirely certain it’s full of Dark things that I don’t want to remain in my house. I’m reluctant to request help from the Ministry, but the goblins have promised me help and your unique talents over the Christmas holidays.”

“I look forward to it,” Bill murmured. “If you don’t mind, Draco, I’d like to inspect your wards and add a few layers of protections. You do realize that you have some Dark layers in the wards?”

“Yes, but I was unsure of how to get rid of them.” Draco flushed. “My Father wasn’t exactly forth coming on that front when he was alive. If you can get rid of them and recast stronger ones—I would be thrilled and would of course compensate you for your time and effort. Casting such wards is a taxing endeavor, after all.”

“Not a problem,” Bill murmured and then walked towards the front door. “Stay out of trouble, Harry, and mind your manners, Ron.”

Ron sputtered and Draco grinned.

He held out his hand to Ron. “Ron, thank you for agreeing to come. I realize I’ve given you no reason whatsoever to feel comfortable in my home but I hope that we can manage to bury our hostility today.”

Ron shook his hand. “Sure, I think we can… try that. I’m a little shocked but I mean… we have something stupid and evil to fight in the next few years and I need all the help I can get keeping Harry alive.”

Draco’s mouth dropped open very briefly at the earnest words and the pure to the bone honesty pouring off the youngest male Weasley. “Then we are agreed.”

Ron grinned and let his hand go. “Still might argue with you though and call you prat on occasion.”

Draco nodded and then focused on Hermione who looked leery and hopeful at the same time. “Miss Granger,” he murmured as he offered his hand. She took it with trembling fingers and he moved into her space. “I could tell you an extremely sad story about the man that raised me, the bigotry he taught me, the ambition he had for me, and the choice he made the night he died. I could tell you that I had a role to play for my House, for my friends, for the man I thought my father was and for the man I thought he wanted me to be.”

He watched her eyes clear up and her shoulders relax and then he continued. “I could speak of my jealousy of your ambition or the friendship you reveled in when I had to watch my back 24/7 but none of that would excuse the things I’ve said to you and about you. I was a vicious child, cheered on by a sadistic group of friends who often use the Cruciatus Curse to torture small animals and at times each other.”

“You?” Hermione questioned. “Did they ever use it on you?”

“Snape is my godfather,” Draco murmured. “They knew better than to mess with me—even in our first year when they dubbed me the Ice Prince of Slytherin but if you’re asking if I’ve felt the bite of that curse the answer is yes.” He schooled his expression. “My father taught me to throw off an Imperius Curse before I was even eight years old and during the summer holidays after our first year—he used the Cruciatus Curse on me in a fit of anger. My mother broke most of the bones in his body when she tossed him across his study with a flick of her wand.”

Hermione swallowed hard. “That’s… I didn’t… everyone is calling him a hero and he did that to his own child.”

“He asked me last year before school began if there was anything he could do to earn my forgiveness for what he’d done,” Draco admitted. “I told him that I didn’t want to take the Dark Mark and that if he loved me—he’d make sure I didn’t have to.”

Her fingers tightened in his hand. “Have you forgiven him?”

“Yes.”

“Then I can forgive you because if you’re capable of forgiving your own father for that… then you aren’t the person I’ve always thought you were and I’d like to figure out how I got it so wrong.”

He smiled and then leaned in to kiss her cheek. “I do have one opinion about you that I’ve never said aloud.”

“Oh yeah?” Her gaze narrowed even as she blushed.

“You’re definitely the hottest girl in Gryffindor.”

“Agreed,” Harry said with a laugh when Hermione sputtered. “Let’s go make this bloke’s day by spending too much money.”

Three hours later, Harry decided that he kind of hated Draco Malfoy. There was nothing remotely kind about the boy and he was a complete diva. Hermione and Narcissa had bonded by the time they’d gone through the cloth samples for the robes and Ron was offering his advice from the sidelines as he munched on snacks that the Malfoy’s house elves kept plying him with. It had apparently been years since they’d had a person in the house who could eat like Ron.

Bill had returned, looking tired but pleased with his work and Draco had taken him out of the room briefly. When they’d returned, Bill looked stunned and had settled in beside Ron to steal his food.

The upside was that he’d managed to settle on a full selection of clothes and he’d been assured that the clothes would be constructed so that Dobby could easily tailor them to fit him as he went through his expedited growth cycle over the next few months.

The beautiful thing about Wizarding clothing as it never completely went out of style, really. He arranged for all of his clothes to be delivered to the Malfoys and then he was done. It was much more fun to watch Draco wreck havoc with the tailor and dismiss things snottily when he didn’t agree.

After about an hour, Harry was sitting in a chair, legs crossed with a glass of pumpkin juice in hand. “I like the grey silk.”

“It’s drab,” Draco complained.

“Is not. It matches your eyes and it would look good under that blue velvet robe you went spare over earlier.”

Draco frowned and then glanced at the robe. “Perhaps if we put some silver embroidery on the cuffs and hem.” He blushed and then ignored Harry for fifteen minutes while everyone else laughed.

– – – –

Harry found Draco in his library pulling a few books off the shelf that he’d promised Hermione. Everyone else was at lunch—though he couldn’t figure out where Ron would put more food. Malfoy stilled as Harry moved in behind him.

“Lord Potter, are you up to something?”

Harry laughed softly and hooked his hands on the shelving above Draco’s head. “I solemnly swear that I’m up to no good.” He nuzzled against Draco’s neck where the blond had tied his hair back with a piece black ribbon. “You’re just gorgeous and I’m really glad I don’t have to pretend to hate you. All of that denial was wearing me out.”

Draco moved back and pressed against him. “I don’t even know what to make of you, Potter.”

“Thank you for what you said to Hermione. I don’t think even I understood how much that stuff hurt her. I probably should have kicked your ass.”

Draco nodded. “That certainly wouldn’t have helped me on the crush front. I find I sort of like the look of you when you’re furious.”

Harry dropped one hand to Draco’s hip and curled his fingers around it. “I really enjoyed kissing you the other day. Your mouth is lovely.”  He turned him carefully and sought his lips. Draco sighed as they separated. “Delicious.” Harry moved in and kissed him again. “I should probably leave you alone—it isn’t like we can—I mean you’ll have to marry to produce an Heir, right?”

Draco shook his head. “My father had four brothers and they each managed to produce children in a startling Weasley-like manner. Besides, I dumped my betrothed because the thought of marrying a woman makes me want to curse myself.”

Harry laughed. “I know the feeling.”

“But you should marry and provide a Potter Heir. Otherwise you’re the last of your line,” Draco murmured as Harry moved closer. “Probably even as soon as seventeen.”

“In case Voldemort kills me,” Harry murmured and sighed when Draco shuddered. “As my Liegeman, I must insist that you stop being intimidated by that monster’s name.”

“I’ll work on it.”

Harry chuckled. “I’m going to make Dobby pop in on you several times a day and say Voldemort really loud until you stop flinching.”

Draco laughed and moved closer to him. “That sounds abusive, Potter. I thought we’d gotten past all of that childish stuff.”

“We’ll consider it a training exercise,” Harry muttered and then kissed him again. It got hot fast—tongues brushing and exploring until they separated, breathless and hard. “Did you know that my Great-great grandfather bonded with a wizard and together they managed to produce four sons with wild magic.”

Draco’s eyes widened. “You’re kidding me.”

“No.” Harry laughed. “And now all of that wild delicious magic is in me. It’s in the Family grimoire.”

“That’s amazing,” Draco murmured. “You know how rare that is? How much love and devotion that takes?”

“I think we should just let nature takes its course,” Harry responded. “We have time and no matter what anyone thinks I’m not going to let that evil son of a bitch kill me like he did my parents. Letting him kill me would be… like slapping my mother in the face. She died for me and I won’t ever forget that.”

“I won’t forget it either,” Draco whispered and then shifted out of Harry’s arms and moved down the shelving to a new section as the door opened. Hermione and Ron came in and Harry focused on the books in front of him to hide his disappointment.

He frowned and pulled a book off the shelf. He flipped it open at a random place and his gaze fell on the words ‘creates a receptacle for the soul piece. In magical beings, this soul fragment can look like a shadow in their magic. Creating a Horcrux is dangerous and to do so is to parlay with insanity. “Can I borrow this book on Horcruxes?”

Draco turned and frowned. “I… that’s very Dark magic, Harry.”

“I know,” Harry turned and looked at him. “I’m not going to do anything weird with it. It’s just some research.”

Draco frowned and handed the three books he’d gathered to Hermione. “Research.” He moved closer. “You’ll have to tell us, Harry. Don’t leave us in the dark like Dumbledore has done to you for years. I believe that Hermione and Ron at least, have earned your honesty and trust.”

Harry swallowed at what Draco hadn’t said about the trust he owed him. “My Healer says I have a shadow in my magic and he believes it’s part of the Killing Curse that Voldemort used on me.”

Draco paled. “You… Merlin!” He snatched the book from Harry’s hand and flipped it open. “Is that why you dream about him?”

“I don’t know,” Harry said dryly. “I haven’t read the book.”

Draco frowned at him and then crossed the room. He brushed his fingers over a rune on the side of the book case and it swung open to reveal another room full of books. “We have to get that fucking thing out of you.”

The three of them followed Draco into the smaller room—another library.

“What are these books?” Hermione questioned.

“Dark magic isn’t inherently evil—it’s just used that way in modern times. There are Dark Arts practitioners in my family who wouldn’t touch the Dark Lord with someone else’s severed hand.” Draco started pulling books. “One of you get Bill in here. We’ll probably need a goblin who is a seriously experienced curse breaker to deal with this.”

“Draco calm down, I’ve had this in me for fourteen years.”

Draco closed his eyes briefly as Hermione rushed from the little room. “I will never by will nor by force, by hand nor by wand, by word nor by work, by willful ignorance or with knowledge do him harm.” He turned to Harry, his eyes blazing. “Do you not even understand what that means? I can’t let you linger with a piece of that monster’s soul in your head!”

“Merlin,” Ron whispered. “What did you do, Malfoy?”

“I did the only thing I could do to prove my loyalty,” Draco snapped.

“A Liege Oath?” Ron whispered. “You or your whole Family?”

“The whole Family,” Draco said shortly. “It keeps our ancestral magic safe from the Dark Lord and it gave Potter a virtual army of very smart, wealthy, wizards and witches. Potion Masters, Mages, and Seers… I have aunts and uncles who use elemental magic as if they were born to it and a pair of Veela cousins that are the very definition of devils when they’re crossed.”

Bill Weasley appeared in the entry way of the little room and frowned. “What’s going on?”

Chapter Six

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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