Birth of the Serpent King – Chapter Three

Chapter Three

“Mr. Potter has claimed his title.” Dumbledore sat back in his chair and watched the members of the Order adjust to this news. “And he has refused to return to his Aunt’s house citing previously unreported abuse and neglect.”

“You said you’d make sure he couldn’t claim his title,” Moody groused. “It’s not safe for him to be asserting his independence.”

“I would have, as his magical guardian, been able to seal his title until his seventeenth birthday, unfortunately the law required that I wait forty-eight hours after his fifteenth birthday to do so. He met with his a solicitor and claimed his title this morning before I could intervene. It is done.” Dumbledore shrugged. “His Family magic is already beginning to settle on him.” He pulled off his glasses to clean them and regarded the rest of the room. “Sirius, were you aware of his plans?”

“No.” Sirius was focused on the table in front of him. “I can’t say I would have told you if he had seen fit to confide in me. I did receive a letter from him through his house elf. He is very unhappy living with the Muggles. I can’t say I blame him. Petunia has never been particularly tolerant and she hated James. I can’t imagine she ever treated Harry the way a decent person would have. Lily would roll over in her grave if she knew you’d placed her precious boy with her sister.”

“It wasn’t like I had a choice,” Dumbledore reminded. “You were the only other legal option and you were in prison.”

“Yes, where I sat for ten years without a trial,” Sirius snapped.

“Sirius,” Remus murmured and put his hand on his friend’s arm. “Right now we should concentrate on how to earn Harry’s trust.”

“Earn it?” Arthur questioned. “I’m certain the boy trusts me.”

“Did he tell you what he planned to do?”

“No.” Arthur shook his head. “But he did allow Molly to remain with him today after he dismissed the Headmaster and that has to mean something about his level of trust for in my family. As he has claimed his title, he is an adult and can’t be ordered around as if he were not.”

“He’s a child,” Dumbledore argued.

“Perhaps you should have considered that before you forced him to participate in the Tri-Wizard Tournament,” Remus murmured and frowned deeply before continuing. “You cannot continue to force Harry into situations with adult dangers and responsibilities while also treating him like a child. It’s irresponsible and frankly abusive—everyone knew that Harry didn’t put his own name in the goblet. If anyone could have gotten past the age line it would have been the Weasley twins and even they weren’t successful. Yet, he was still forced to participate as if he had actually volunteered. As if he were, in fact, old enough to participate.”

“We had no choice.”

“Oh, there were plenty of different choices that could have been made,” Remus argued. “They weren’t made and Moody wasn’t the only one to pay the price for it. I’ve spent the last three weeks lingering on the edge of the wards of Privet Drive—unable to actually enter the yard because of my furry problem, listening to Harry scream himself awake every night. I told you Albus, more than once that he wasn’t receiving the help he needed from his relatives and you ignored me.”

– – – –

Healer Daniels offered Harry a potion. “This will give you the energy required to get home, young man, but I believe you will find yourself sleeping ten to twelve hours daily for the next several weeks. Your body will recover quite rapidly now and you will go through a growth spurt. The last of the spell work we did today will fade by the time you return to school and you’ll be on a normal growth schedule for your age group.” Daniels shared a glance with Mrs. Weasley. “I’ll write down some instructions and then I believe you’ll be ready to go home for some rest.”

Harry finished the potion with a grimace and set aside the empty vial. “Thank you, Healer Daniels. If you will make a copy of what you’ve done for my medical records at Hogwarts, that would be appreciated.”

Daniels nodded. “I will deliver it to Poppy personally. Additionally, I will make sure she understands as your Healer that I am on call for you if you are injured or become ill at school. I would prefer to handle all of your medical issues from this point forward unless it is unavoidable due to the amount of spell work I’ve done to repair your bone and organ health and the spell damage I have been unable to repair.”

“I have no problems with that. If she protests, please let me know.” Harry fastened his robes with slightly shaking hands. “I’m exhausted.”

“It’s to be expected dear,” Molly murmured as she gathered the instructions and helped him straighten himself out. “Will Dobby know how to find you?”

“Yes.”

– – – –

Harry stumbled as they exited the fire place. He’d said nothing as Molly Weasley had taken him first to the Burrow and then to a place called Headquarters. The only reason he didn’t fall flat on his face as he exited the second fire place was due to being swept up into a strong embrace.

“Sirius.” He sighed and patted his godfather. “I’m so tired.”

Sirius frowned and tightened his grip on him. “Molly?”

Molly Weasley frowned but nodded. “He should be put to bed, Sirius. I will wait for you in the kitchen.”

Sirius managed to get Harry onto a bed with his shoes off before the kid was completely asleep. He covered him with a blanket and stood there for a few minutes staring at his thin face. The glasses were missing and he looked impossibly young in that moment. After a while, he forced himself to leave and return to the kitchen to get some answers.

Molly was seated at the table with a cup of tea in one hand and her husband’s hand gripped tight in the other. “Please sit, Sirius, it is a difficult thing what I have to say.”

He sat, shaken by the soft tone of her voice and the sadness written all over her expressive face. “Okay.”

“Harry did grant me permission to discuss his health with the four of you,” Molly took a deep breath. “I apologize for running the rest of the Order off, Albus.”

“Harry is our most pressing concern at the moment, Molly.” Dumbledore folded his hands on the table in front of him. “Where did you go?”

“To a Healer. A specialist who deals almost exclusively with spell damage. Dobby arranged for the appointment. Harry required that the man take a Wizard’s Oath to ensure his privacy. I monitored the oath and it was properly executed.” She turned the tea cup in front of her and nodded when Arthur put a sandwich on a plate beside her. “Harry has extensive bone and organ damage due to neglect and malnutrition. He admitted to Healer Daniels that he was rarely fed more than one meal a day unless he was in school—his Muggle school always fed him breakfast and lunch.”

“That bastard!” Sirius snapped. “Harry had a trust fund to take care of him. He should have wanted for nothing.”

Molly nodded. “Yes. There was evidence of broken and fractured bones starting when he was as small as three years old. One of his shoulders has been dislocated several times and Harry admitted he remembered his Uncle jerking him hard by the arm and dislocating the shoulder when he was five. His jaw and cheekbone have had multiple fractures over the years before he ever came to Hogwarts. All of these injuries were healed by his own magic and he’s never been vaccinated against Muggle diseases. Not that those vaccines would have been beneficial due to his magical blood. But it does indicate that he’s never been to see a Muggle healer and that the first time he received any kind of medical care was at Hogwarts.” Molly flushed when Remus began to curse. “Harry was very blunt in his delivery of the facts.”

“The weight of his Family magic will change him,” Sirius admitted. “When I accepted my title—the differences were subtle at first but as the days passed my goals changed. Harry will go through changes—it is the nature of accepting his title. You will all find him very different in the days, weeks, and months to come.”

“It is one of the many reasons why I didn’t want him to claim his title,” Dumbledore murmured.

Sirius frowned at him. He knew that the main reason that Albus didn’t want Harry to claim his title was because it altered the power in their relationship. He rubbed his thumb over his own ring—when the Ministry had thrown him in a cell they’d been unable to remove his ring. One of the bastards had even tried to cut off his finger only to have the ring throw him halfway across the room. It should have been a clue to them, even then.

He stood and cleared his throat. “Molly, perhaps we could arrange to have a dinner for Harry’s birthday tomorrow? He appeared to be quite exhausted.”

“Yes, of course. Ron would like… Ron has requested to join Harry here.”

“I think Harry would like that. He was quite upset to realize he couldn’t send letters to his friends this summer.” Sirius looked at Dumbledore. “I believe you would be welcome, Albus, but I must insist that you not antagonize Harry on the matter of his independence or title. It could lead to him leaving and we would have no recourse then. I don’t have to remind you that he has more money that most of the pure blood families put together, very few personal ties, and he’s angry.”

“I understand, Sirius. I believe I will send him a gift but let him have just his family for his birthday. The space would do us good.”

– – – –

Harry woke with a tray of breakfast being settled on the large bed next to him and a series of potions lined up beside his favorite foods. “Dobby.”

“Sir.” Dobby levitated the tray and settled it over Harry’s lap. “I tells Lord Black you would eat breakfast here.”

Harry frowned, aware that he would have preferred to eat with Sirius and Remus. “Why?”

Dobby glanced over the tray and focused on the potions. “Strangers here for breakfast. Full kitchen.”

Harry trailed his fingers over the single dosage vials that Dobby had prepared for him with a frown. “I see. Thank you Dobby for keeping my secrets.”

“Is Dobby’s place to keeps Master Harry’s secrets.” He pointed to the vials. “Takes them in order—left to right.”

Harry nodded and picked up the first vial. “I woke up a few times last night.”

Dobby nodded. “I know.”

“I wrote a letter for Draco. Would you please deliver it? It’s on the desk.” Harry sighed. “Also, if you would ask my godfather if he could identify a room in the house I can use for an office. I have a lot of business to handle in the next few weeks and I’ll probably need the space.”

“Takes potions before you eat,” Dobby instructed and then picked up Draco’s letter before blinking away.

– – – –

Draco,

I had a nightmare tonight. I put up a silencing charm just after my godfather left so fortunately no one heard anything. I know I should probably tell them, maybe especially Dumbledore, about the dreams but it has occurred to me that the confidences have been one-way for quite a while. I expose myself continuously and it’s all been used against me time and time again.

Ragnok said we might have a connection now because of the Liege Oath so I hope that my nightmare didn’t wake you. Do you have a book on Liege Oaths? I’d prefer that no one ask why I’m interested so I haven’t looked in the library of the house I’m currently visiting.

I want to force the Daily Prophet to be honest which makes me think I need to buy it. However, I don’t believe I should do it on my own because others might say I’m suppressing them. I believe it would serve us, you and I, to buy them under a shell company together.

Your thoughts?

With Trust,

Lord Harry James Potter

The House of Potter

Draco’s mouth quirked in a small smile before he pulled out a piece of parchment. He glanced at Dobby who was standing in front of his desk in his little formal robes. “How is he, Dobby? He seemed quite ill yesterday.”

“He visited a Healer,” Dobby admitted. “I say no more.”

Draco nodded. “I don’t expect you to. I do, however, expect you to take care of him and to take your duties as Vassal very seriously.” He inclined his head. “He wants a book on Liege Oaths and also I’d like you to pull the History of House Elves from the library and take that to him as well. He’ll need it to deal with Miss Granger when she finds out he’s taken you as a Vassal.”

“Miss Grangy has very Muggle ideas.” Dobby’s ears quivered. “She makes elves in Hogwarts uncomfortable.”

Draco chuckled. “It was good of you all to indulge her and run in fear of the clothing she kept hiding but I think it would be better if you were honest with her about her efforts and how they won’t work. If it was that easy to free a House Elf—laundry would be a real problem in the Wizarding world.”

Dobby’s eyes sparkled. “I lets Head Elf Gracy know but she’s amused by Miss Grangy.”

Draco nodded. “Can you return in two hours? I’ll have my response ready by then.”

“Yes, Lord Draco. I is getting the books for Master Harry now and let him know yous writing a reply.”

“Thanks,” Draco murmured distracted. He let his fingers trail over the wax of Harry’s Seal and smiled softly. He stood and went to search for his mother. He found her in her salon reading. He leaned in the doorframe and cleared his throat. She turned to look at him. “Harry wants to buy the Daily Prophet with me.”

Narcissa smirked. “I don’t think the Wizarding world is ready for Lord Harry Potter.”

Draco chuckled. “No, I don’t think we are but it is sure to be entertaining. I will contact my solicitor and let him know to expect a visit from Harry’s solicitor. We’re going to form a company together and buy the Prophet.”

“Whatever will you call it?”

Draco laughed. “I was thinking Serpent & Dragon, Inc.”

She smirked. “I’m sure he’ll be just as amused as you are.”

– – – –

Harry checked the titles that Dobby had handed him and chuckled. “Hermione will be excited. Hopefully she’ll be staying here the rest of the summer.”

Dobby nodded. “Lord Malfoy will calls me when his letter is ready.”

He watched the elf hurry away to do whatever else he might do around the House of Black. Harry knew that Dobby wasn’t thrilled with the condition of the house and if he could have gotten away with it—he would have brought in more elves to clean up Headquarters. He ran his fingers along the spine of one of the books and took a deep breath.

Thinking about Draco Malfoy made his blood rush—the idea of him was intoxicating and a small part of him was worried about it. Despite the worry, he was intrigued by the attraction that he felt for the Patriarch of the Malfoy Family. He was entirely certain that it was the last thing anyone would want for him. Sirius was probably the one person in his life he could count on to support him and that would just be automatic. His godfather was just as starved as Harry was himself for love and family. He figured if he wasn’t already practically grown up that Sirius would spoil him absolutely rotten. Harry figured he might let Sirius spoil him a little anyways. Maybe they both needed it.

There was a sharp knock on the door and he called out for his visitor to enter as he set aside the books. He relaxed when the door opened under Sirius’ hand and the older man leaned against the doorframe. “How do you feel?”

“Better.” Harry looked down at his half-finished meal. “Dobby keeps trying to stuff me like a little piglet.”

Sirius glanced at the plate and then sighed. “I want… will you talk to me about what happened with the Dursleys?”

Harry sighed. “It won’t change anything.”

“No, it won’t.”

He smirked suddenly. “They haven’t laid a hand on me since they found out about you. Your reputation was quite the deterrent.”

Sirius smiled briefly. “Then at least I was good for something.” His smile fell away. “I don’t… I can’t apologize enough for leaving you on your own the way I did. It wasn’t what I promised James and Lily when they made me your godfather. They both died thinking that I would take care of you—I failed them and you.”

“The circumstances were beyond your control, Sirius.”

“No, they weren’t. I let my temper rule me. I hunted down Peter instead of staying and protecting you. I chose revenge over you, Harry.” Sirius took a steadying breath and then shoved his hands into his pockets. “It’s easy to look back and see all the mistakes I made. It was my idea to make Peter the Secret Keeper.”

“It wasn’t a bad idea,” Harry responded. “It made the most sense and no one would have ever suspected that Peter was the one with the secret if he hadn’t told. It’s not your fault that he had no honor—that he chose his own life instead over doing what was right. I’d say he did what was easy but I don’t see anything easy about serving Voldemort.”

“No.” Sirius agreed. “I can’t see how it would be easy either. I do blame myself for Peter’s betrayal. Tell me about the Dursleys.”

“I don’t remember…” Harry paused and then huffed in frustration. “I don’t remember ever being hugged when I was little. My aunt ignored me as much as possible while managing to keep me alive. I remember being cold a lot at night—in the cupboard where they made me sleep. My clothes were always ragged or way too big for me.”

“Your parents left money…” Sirius growled under his breath and walked into the room. He dropped down onto the bay window and scowled out at the street. “I suppose they spent that money on that fat cousin of yours?”

Harry laughed softly. “Yeah, you name it—Dudley got it. Of course, I didn’t know about the money. They always told me how much of their money they had to waste on me. My uncle never missed an opportunity to tell me how unwanted I was and how much of a burden I was. He called me Freak. I knew it wasn’t my name but…” He trailed off when Sirius swore viciously. “I didn’t have anyone call me Harry until I started school.”

“And the abuse?”

“I remember breaking a vase when I was three and my uncle hit me until it hurt to breathe. He threw me into my cupboard and I stayed in there for days before my aunt decided to retrieve me. She said I was making her house stink. I don’t know why that memory is so vivid when everything else during that time is so indistinct.” Harry paused and then stood up. He walked to the bay window and dropped down on the opposite end across from Sirius. “He broke my arm but I don’t remember when exactly. My aunt tried to take me to the hospital when that happened but he wouldn’t let her.”

“It healed on its own?”

“I guess my magic healed me,” Harry murmured. “I don’t remember it hurting the day after. It probably healed badly because I broke it during my second year during a quidditch match. That arse, Lockhart, vanished the bones in my arm and I had to regrow it.”

“So, he was good for something.” Sirius laughed briefly and returned his attention to the street outside. “Go on.”

“I don’t remember getting a lot to eat except for when I was in school. I always was able to eat breakfast and lunch at school. At first, my uncle tried to not give me money to eat at school but the third time he did it—the school sent home an application for me to eat free and my aunt was mortified that anyone might think they were poor. After that, I always had money to eat both breakfast and lunch. Though, during the school year I was never able to eat dinner at home. Vernon said I wasted enough of his money eating at school.”

“I could murder him,” Sirius murmured.

“Then you’d never be free.” Harry swallowed hard. “I know you don’t believe you’ll be free again, Sirius, but I have to believe you will be. I have to have faith that your name will be cleared and everyone will know that you’re innocent.”

“Why?” Sirius questioned.

“Because if I can’t believe that the innocent will have justice in this world—this world that pulls at me like a greedy child—I’m not sure I would have it in me to fight for them. All of known of the magical world is lies and deceit and pain. They demand so much from me and offer me nothing but pain and humiliation in return. If I can’t trust the magical world to give the innocent justice…” He trailed off and sighed.

“Did he ever do anything sexual?” Sirius questioned, his voice so soft that Harry almost missed it.

“No. Never.” Harry shuddered. “What a horrific thought. The only time Vernon ever got near me was to hit me and he did that often enough before Hogwarts. He didn’t do it much over the summers after I started Hogwarts unless he was really angry and lost control of himself. He was afraid that Dumbledore would send Hagrid to the house again.”

“Petunia never tried to help you?”

“Not often and never when he was around. I think she’s always known that if she did that he would turn on her. I was to blame for everything that went wrong in his life and he hardly needed to be reminded that she was the reason I was there to begin with.” Harry rubbed the seam of his slacks with his thumb. “Once I threw him across the room with accidental magic. At the time, I didn’t know what had happened but I when I look back on it—it’s obvious that my magic had enough and pushed him away.”

“Did you get punished for it?”

“I didn’t eat for a week,” Harry admitted. “My aunt let me out of the cupboard once a day to use the bathroom. When they finally let me out, Vernon punched me in the face. He said if he couldn’t beat the freak out of me—he’d work it out of me. After that, I had chores from the moment I got up until I went to bed unless there was school. I had to make sure to do as much of my homework as possible at school because I wouldn’t get time to do it at home.”

“Petunia should be ashamed of herself,” Sirius whispered, his voice broke near the end and he abruptly cleared his throat. “I don’t know how to make this up to you, Harry.”

“You weren’t the one who put me there. You weren’t the one that left me there,” Harry said and then laughed bitterly. “And you aren’t the one that wants to send me back there.”

“You won’t… I won’t let him…” Sirius growled. “Merlin, I hate being so bloody helpless!” He rubbed his face with both hands. “If Dumbledore tries to force you to do something you don’t want—I want you to run. Legally, he has no ground to stand on but you and I both know he’s too powerful to fight off. There are several Potter properties and the three that James left are all unplottable. Each property had a different Secret Keeper but they would have all transferred to the Head Elf when James died.”

Harry nodded. “I was told at Gringotts that my Head Elf would be able to give me access to the last of the properties.”

Sirius cleared his throat as he stood. “Okay, I’m going to head downstairs and see who Dumbledore has left in my house and then check on Buckbeak. If you need anything—just let Kreacher know.”

“I have Dobby,” Harry reminded. “I think he’d be mortally insulted if I asked Kreacher for anything.”

Sirius laughed but nodded his agreement. “Right.”

– – – –

Hermione sat back abruptly and stared at Dumbledore in what looked like pure horror. “You were going to… why would you disrespect Harry that way?”

Dumbledore sat back stunned by the incredulous tone. “Miss Granger, it was in an effort to protect Harry.”

She looked down at the tea she’d accepted from Mrs. Weasley. “I don’t… Harry aches for family. He dreams of acceptance for what he is and you thought to deny him his father’s legacy for your own purposes. Just like last year when you forced him to be in the tournament. It never should’ve been allowed. He could’ve been killed, he was kidnapped and forced to participate in a Dark ritual.” Tears welled and fell down her cheeks. “No, I’m sorry but I won’t try to get Harry to change his mind and renounce his title. He’s finally claimed a part of himself in the Wizarding world and I won’t say he shouldn’t keep it.”

Ron patted her and then pushed a napkin into her hand. “I agree. Harry doesn’t ask for much, you know. He just wants acceptance and respect. I don’t think that’s too much to ask either.”

– – – –

Harry shoved his hands into pockets and leaned in the doorway of the kitchen. Sirius and Remus were at the table playing chess and there were two other people in the room. He figured they must be some of the strangers that Dobby had been leery of at breakfast. “Hi.”

Sirius stood immediately. “Harry, we were just discussing having some tea. You’ll join us?”

“Sure.” Harry let himself be pulled into the room.

“This is Kingsley Shacklebolt and my cousin Nymphadora Tonks—they are both Aurors and members of the Order.”

Kingsley immediately offered his hand. “Lord Potter, it’s a pleasure.”

“Auror Shacklebolt,” Harry said accepting his hand. “I apologize for not attending breakfast. Dobby is new in his role as Vassal and I guess I’m letting him boss me around a little.”

Kingsley laughed. “He didn’t let us touch your food, you know.”

Harry blushed as the Auror released his hand. “I hope you weren’t insulted.”

“No, not at all. It is a relief to know that someone is taking such serious notice of the most common kinds of threats. Moody was impressed.”

Harry flinched minutely at the mention of Moody. It was hard to reconcile what had happened at Hogwarts with the real man who had been held prisoner for months. “Has anyone figured out when Crouch replaced Moody at Hogwarts?”

“Moody’s memories were obliviated,” Sirius murmured. “We’ll never know.”

“Auror Tonks,” Harry held out his hand and the young woman took it with a broad smile.

“Lord Potter.”

“Harry is fine,” he said as he pulled his hand free and let Sirius push him into a chair. “Are you here to keep an eye on Sirius or me?” He laughed when they both looked uncomfortable. “Perhaps both then. Well, he’s the trouble maker around here.”

Sirius laughed. “Sure I am.”

Harry shrugged and sighed as he was presented with tea and a plate of biscuits. “Well, maybe we’re equal on that front.”

Dobby appeared abruptly at his side with an armful of parchments. “Dobby has retrieved your mail, Master Harry. Hedwig is mad!”

Harry laughed softly and pulled the mail out of Dobby’s arms. “Hedwig is not crazy.”

“She collects your mails on your old bed at Hogwarts,” Dobby exclaimed. “And chase me away many times.”

Harry grinned. “Why don’t you take her my letter to Mr. Riser and let her deliver it. He’ll send her back to me with a response and I’ll house her here.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Dobby, Ministry owls are charmed against spells and attacks, correct?”

“Yes, they have charmed amulets.” Dobby paused. “Yous have one in the Potter vault. Should I get it for Hedwig?”

“Yes, please.” He broke the seal on the first letter open and scrunched up his nose. “Minister Fudge is requesting a meeting with me.” He put it back on the table with a frown. “I should probably make an appointment with Mr. Riser, Dobby.”

“You shouldn’t meet with the Minister alone,” Sirius cautioned.

“No, I agree.” He opened another letter and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “I need to authorize a transfer of funds for the Diggory family. His father has agreed to let me help move Cedric to a private hospital. We’ll want to hire them private security as well. The Beautiful One found a clinic and a specialist.” He pulled out the second page of the official document and glanced over it . “I need ink and a quill, Dobby.”

“You’re going to pay for…” Shacklebolt began and then stopped. “That is generous. The Diggorys are a good family.”

“Their son is a really great person,” Harry murmured. “What happened to him shouldn’t have happened and I want him to get the best of care. I don’t think that’s possible under the watchful eye of the Minister. He currently has a vested interest in making sure no one of good standing is able to agree with me in public.” Harry accepted the quill and ink from Dobby silently. Reviewing the document again, he signed off on the transfer of funds into the medical trust that Narcissa Malfoy had set up. He started to open his mouth only to have Dobby put the box holding his Seal on the table beside him.

Harry sighed and Dobby offered him a wide smile. “It occurs to me that I would be better served to send you to etiquette class instead of arranging my own tutor on the subject.” He used his wand to melt the end of wax stub in the Seal kit and applied his house Seal to the document. “Take this to Ragnok at Gringotts. He’s waiting on it and get Hedwig’s amulet while you’re there.”

Dobby disappeared in a blink and Harry grabbed a biscuit from the plate in front of him absently. “Is there a library here, Sirius?”

“Yes, on the second floor. I gave Dobby leave to create an office space for you in there actually.” Sirius leaned back in his chair and watched Harry sort the rest of his mail. “What are you planning?”

“Nothing until Cedric Diggory is safe,” Harry said absently. “I failed him once… I won’t do so again.” He opened an envelope and pulled out another letter. “But once he’s safe I figure I’ll make Fudge’s life a living hell.”

Tonks laughed. “Can I play?”

Harry quirked an eyebrow. “You’d probably get fired. I don’t plan to play nice. It occurred to me recently that’s it not quite fair that he gets to say whatever he wants in public and to the press about me and I don’t get to return the favor.”

Sirius leaned forward and put his chin on his hand. “You look like you’re father but suddenly you are your mother remade. It is a startling revelation.”

Harry smiled at that thought and then set aside another letter. “Should I meet with my official heir now or wait until we return to school? We actually share a room.”

“You shared a room last year,” Remus murmured. “You’ll be housed separately next year. Titled Nobles don’t share rooms with other students, Harry.”

Harry flushed. “Oh.” He frowned and then sighed. “Right. Well, I guess I’ll need the space for Dobby and I’ll have business matters…” Harry took a deep breath and shoved a whole biscuit in his mouth.

Sirius snorted. “You look pretty disgruntled, kid.”

“It’s… just Ron and I had a pretty hard time of it last year and now this thing with the title and the separate room.” Harry blushed. “He’s the first friend I’ve ever had, you know.”

“I…” Sirius frowned. “You didn’t have friends in your Muggle school?”

“No, my cousin Dudley bullied anyone who might have tried to be my friend and the one time I did make what I thought was a friend—I had an accident with my magic. I didn’t know what it was at the time but it freaked him out and it was obvious he thought I was mental. He complained to the teacher. I was moved to a different class room after that and the school… well it pretty obvious by that point that something was wrong with me from their point of view.” Harry ran his fingers through his hair. “I’d like to go back and hex most of the adults I encountered as a little kid. I can’t see how they missed the fact that I looked like a refugee from a third world country.”

Dobby popped back into the room with four more pieces of correspondence. “Master Harry, yous desk is ready in the library and Mr. Riser sends you research you requested.”

“Good, thank you.” Harry picked up another biscuit. “Did you eat this morning?”

“Yes, Master Harry, while you sleeps.”

Harry nodded as he opened one of the new envelopes. “Don’t ever skip your own meals, Dobby. I won’t like it.”

“Yes, Master Harry.”

“Hmm.” Harry frowned. “Seamus sends his congratulations on my title.”

“It would have been announced in every major paper,” Remus murmured. “When a Noble assumes a title… it’s a big deal.”

“Right.” Harry frowned. “Dobby, can you pick up my stationary order today? I’ll want to respond to anyone from a Noble House on the stationary, right?”

“Yes, Master Harry. I picks up the stationary whiles I was out this morning.” Dobby nodded. “I makes a list of Nobles Houses for you with names and heirs.”

“Thanks,” Harry murmured and opened up another letter and then flushed scarlet. “Merlin.”

“What?” Sirius asked, amused by the expression on his godson’s face.

“Marriage proposal,” Harry muttered. He tossed it towards Sirius who picked it up with a little grin.

Sirius read it over quickly. “At least she’s willing to wait until you leave Hogwarts.”

“Right.”

“And it’s nice that she’s willing to overlook your associations with commoners and your Muggle-born mother.” Sirius nodded thoughtfully, amusement practically dancing in his eyes.

Harry rolled his eyes and turned to Dobby. “Put that on my desk and remind me to write a snotty but polite rejection later on this evening.”

“Of course, Master Harry, yous should mention her cheap perfume.” Dobby rubbed his nose. “Makes me sneeze.”

Harry grinned. “Thanks, Dobby, that’ll be all for now. Mrs. Weasley wants to have a birthday dinner tonight for me. I expect you to be back in time to help me celebrate if at all possible.”

“Of course, Master Harry.” Dobby bowed and popped out of the room.

“How is he getting past the wards?” Tonks asked with a small frown.

“He’s my bonded Vassal and Sirius is my godfather by magic.” Harry gathered up all of this opened email as well as the two pieces he hadn’t opened. “I have some reading to do and I want to write a few letters.”

“We’ll come get you for lunch,” Remus reminded.

Harry offered him a smile and left the room.

Sirius relaxed back in his chair and prodded one of his pieces on the chess board when it started fussing at him. “I… Dumbledore is right. His Family magic is settling fast.”

“Very fast,” Shacklebolt murmured. “I don’t think Fudge even knows what he’s going to get the next time he crosses Potter.”

Remus laughed. “He’s clearly up to something.”

“Fudge or Potter?”

“Both.” Sirius frowned. “I wonder who the Beautiful One is?”

Remus shrugged. “A girlfriend at school?”

“No, I don’t think so.  Why would he be talking to a girl his age about funds for Cedric Diggory?” Sirius frowned. “Should we tell Dumbledore?”

“Wouldn’t do much good without information on who he was referring to and besides… the kid deserves to have some privacy in his life.” Tonks cleaned off the table with a flick of her wand.

– – – –

Harry,

I would adore owning the Daily Prophet. I’ll contact my solicitor and he’ll contact yours about creating a company we can use to hide the ownership. We can seal the corporation through Gringotts and keep it from being publically known.

I propose we call our company Serpent & Dragon, Inc.

I wanted to let you know that I’ve ended my betrothal to Pansy Parkinson. It was a union arranged at her birth but her father is a Death Eater and I’ve decided to make a clean break from such relationships. I don’t know why I feel compelled to tell you this, exactly, truthfully many of my so-called friends will not understand and many in my House will refuse to support me on this matter and many other matters in the future.

It’s not to say that everyone in Slytherin is a Death Eater in the making, in fact I would say that most aren’t, but my circle of friends has always been narrow. I suppose I will simply have to make new friends. I’ve already started to reach out to others in my house—feathering my nest with like minds if you get my meaning.

It occurs to me that I did not remark on your birthday yesterday. So please accept my congratulations on managing to survive for fifteen years no matter how hard you try to accomplish the exact opposite. Dobby tells me you will have a birthday party this afternoon so I will send your gift with him. My name won’t be on it as I imagine you haven’t figured out how to tell your friends and foster family how to explain our new epic friendship.

Ever Loyal,

Lord Draco Malfoy

The House of Malfoy

Harry blushed and slid Draco’s letter into the letter box Dobby had charmed for him to open and reveal its contents only to him. It had all of his correspondence from his lawyer and Draco in it. There were different slots and it was magically expanded on the inside.

He opened up the box of stationary and ran his fingers over the raised monogram. Harry really hadn’t known what to ask for and had suggested that Dobby asked Draco’s advice. The result was a both pleasing and distinctive set of stationary.

He quickly wrote several letters—one to his lawyer, one to a very annoying French woman, and then one to Draco. He wished he could invite the other boy to his birthday party but he just didn’t want to deal with the drama it would cause. His stomach tightened at the thought.

Chapter Four

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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