– – – –
July 29, 1996
“As their mother, I believe I have a right to know what kind of ritual is going to be taking place, Arthur.”
Harry shared a pointed look with Draco and focused on his oatmeal. The last thing he wanted was to have that particular conversation with Mrs. Weasley. He’d been content to let her husband handle it, except the man was obviously suffering under the strain of the secrecy charms of the conclave. He’d broken out in a sweat already.
“Enough,” Draco snapped and Harry blinked in surprise. “Mrs. Weasley, is it your intention to give your husband a heart attack?” He demanded. He summoned a glass from the cabinet and filled it with water, which he pressed on the elder Weasley. “He is not allowed to discuss the business of our conclave with you or anyone else outside of it.”
Molly blinked in surprise. “But, I’m their mother and Ron is underage.”
“Your husband will be there and I believe we can all agree that he would not allow your children to participate in a ritual that would damage them emotionally or physically,” Draco returned evenly. “This ritual is very important and none of us need the additional stress you’re causing.” He refilled Arthur’s glass with a murmured charm. “It isn’t as if we’re going to sacrifice a unicorn and dance naked under a blood moon while we chant the Lord’s Prayer backward in Latin, for the love of Merlin.”
Harry frowned. “What would that… wait, isn’t that how you summon a demon?”
Draco grinned at him while Mrs. Weasley gasped in complete horror. “It sure is. My father told me that Voldemort tried to do it three different times in the previous war but couldn’t maintain the circle long enough to actually bring forth a demon. He didn’t have the magical power to accomplish it.”
Harry sighed and turned to look at Molly. “You’re intruding on a very private matter, Mrs. Weasley. I imagine that Hermione has been talking to you non-stop about the conclave and the ritual since she found out about it. The fact is that neither of you are entitled to know what we’ll be doing. As a long standing member of a very well-known coven yourself, I would assume you understand how intimate and personal rituals can be among members.”
“Of course, I understand and I did explain all of this to Hermione but I still believe that as the mother of the three of your conclave members that I have a right to know what is taking place. Especially since Ron is underage.”
“I disagree,” Harry responded evenly. “And since I lead the conclave that all three of your sons joined of their own free will the decision is mine. I apologize if that makes you unhappy but I agree with Draco—berating your husband into giving you some kind of hint is just wrong. His own magic is already punishing for him for even thinking about it.”
The kitchen door swung open and the rest of the household came through in a trickle of people leaving Molly to set up meals as was her preference. Ginny sat down as far from Harry as she could manage and only glared at him briefly before focusing on her own breakfast. She hadn’t actually spoken to him at all since the day they’d confronted her about the potions and Arthur had placed a magical seal on her. When Bill had returned earlier in the week, she’d played the victim for him for a few hours but that had gotten nipped in the bud when the elder Weasley son had demanded an explanation from his father upon Arthur’s return home from work. Harry had heard that Bill had nearly turned Ginny over his knee for lying to him. When Charlie had arrived—Bill hadn’t given her a chance to lie to him.
Draco finished his breakfast and left the table—cleaning up his dishes without fuss and left the kitchen with a brief touch of Harry’s shoulder. Hermione took his place and set about filling her plate with a few pieces of bacon and some eggs before turning to Harry.
“I was reading one of the journals Sirius pulled from the family archive for me last night and found a whole chapter on Merlin and his archmagus partner but the author didn’t even guess as to who it might have been. Do you have any ideas about who it might have been?”
Harry paused and scrunched up his nose in thought. “Well, the most important male in his life was Arthur Pendragon. Despite what Muggle legends might lead us to believe, they were born within a few months of each other. We know that Arthur was magical because his great-granddaughter married Castieus Gryffindor who in turn fathered Godric. After reviewing my own family tree, I can confirm that Gryffindor line remained pure until Godric’s daughter Heather married Oscar Potter. Oscar Potter’s mother had been a Muggle while his father was magical. Logic would dictate knowing all of that and knowing that squibs didn’t become a problem for magical families until sometime in the last five hundred years…that Arthur Pendragon was indeed magical.”
“Oh.” Hermione stared at him in silence. “You’re a descendant of King Arthur?”
“Arthur claimed twelve children,” Harry said. “And they all married and reproduced. Most of the ancient and noble families in Britain can claim a familial relationship with the House of Pendragon. Except the Malfoys, of course; anyone bothering to look at their family tree would know they descend almost directly from Merlin himself as Merlin only had one child that anyone is aware of. He was raised in court with Arthur’s children. Neither man ever married, which is another indication that they were probably archmagus partners. There are no recorded marriages outside of the partnership for any archmagus pairings in recorded history.” Harry shrugged at Hermione’s wide-eyed response. “But after two thousand years, none of that really matters, Hermione. The Malfoys aren’t the only ones that can count themselves back to Merlin. The Headmaster can do it as well.”
“I often feel cheated,” Hermione admitted reluctantly. “I have no history like this to speak of…nothing to pass on to my children.”
“French researchers theorize that magical children born to Muggles are magic’s way of making sure our species survives. The magical population has decreased dramatically over the last several hundred years,” Harry said. He picked up his tea and frowned at the cool contents before warming it up with a swish of his finger. “Without Muggle-borns bringing in new blood and new magic—our world will fail and magic will leave. If Muggle-borns stopped being born even within the next twenty years—we’d be extinct as a species within two hundred years.”
“Oh.” Molly was staring at him wide-eyed. “Are you… where did you hear this?”
“It’s been all over the papers of every other country on the planet except for Britain for the last ten years,” Bill said dryly. “The Ministry ignores the research and from what I’ve heard from the goblins, they have repeatedly prevented the information from being published.”
“The war—could be literally be the death of our species in Great Britain, perhaps even the world if it spreads like it could. Some say that it might be better for the rest of the magical world because the British are stagnant and old-fashioned, but I’d like to think that our rich history and the potential we have deserves saving.”
“Stagnant,” Molly repeated with a frown. “We are growing and changing every day!”
“It’s about perspective I suppose,” Harry admitted, not willing to argue such a sensitive topic with someone so volatile. “The British Ministry of Magic was the last to approve the wizarding wireless for distribution—it had already been in use for nearly forty years in other countries. The entire European Union has already approved and started the mass production of a device a great deal like a Muggle television that will allow their people to pick up and view Muggle entertainment. Their wizarding wireless can pick up Muggle radio stations while units sold in Britain are only legal if they are restricted to wizarding channels. We are isolationists and maybe that makes some people feel safe and comfortable.”
“But,” Remus prodded.
“I think it makes it easier for idiots like Voldemort to get a foothold. Our Ministry tries to keep us ignorant, pushes Pure-blood policies into place no matter how much they discriminate against seventy-percent of the population.”
“Seventy-percent?” Molly questioned. “Who do you mean?”
“Muggle-borns and half-bloods make up seventy percent of the population in Great Britain,” Hermione said and offered Harry a small smile of solidarity. “That’s the kind of thing that Voldemort wouldn’t want well-known. If he won his so-called blood war and killed off the all the “undesirables”, there wouldn’t be a big enough population to sustain us as a society and as Harry said—witches and wizards might die out here. Though in honesty, most would flee to other countries—our history and traditions would all be lost as a result.”
– – – –
Harry watched Draco move around the dueling room, gracefully interacting with a series of magical target drones that Amelia Bones had shown up with the day before—a gift from the Head of the Unspeakables. After thoroughly checking them over for monitoring charms and other undesirable hexes, curses, charms, and spells—they’d accepted them.
“His aim is wicked,” Ron said from his place on the bench beside Harry. “He’s still upset about what happened at the Ministry?”
“Furious,” Harry admitted. “We’re vulnerable with an incomplete bond—in some ways we were better off power wise before we achieved this partial bond. Portkeys disorient us and both times someone has used one against our will, we have ended up stunned and abused. He thinks we’ll have issues apparating over long distances because it would cause instability in our magical well. Thanks to them using a time turner on him – we know that being apart for more than an hour causes severe strain now when it didn’t when we were in school. Which is an indication that our bond is getting needier. I didn’t feel it because I still had him but his core started to strain due to the separation. They had him in a part of the Ministry that is shielded against outside magic otherwise I want to think I would have noticed that there were two of him in the building.”
Ron nodded. “I overheard Amelia Bones tell my mom that you can transfigure just your tongue.”
Harry laughed and when he flicked out his tongue until it curled briefly around his the tip of his chin—it was slim, black, and forked. “Yesss.”
Ron’s eyes widened briefly and then he smirked. “I bet witches would really like a tongue like that.”
“Wizards like it, too,” Draco offered blithely as dropped down on his back on the mat in front of them. “Your turn, Potter. Moody will be here in just thirty minutes.”
– – – –
“The Headmaster wanted me to cover combat ethics,” Moody began and paused at the pointed look Draco sent him. “Right, well, we’re going to go through some scenarios and have a discussion. That’s why I’ve invited Hermione and Ron to participate as well. We’ll get some different perspectives due to the various upbringings of everyone in the room.” He glanced towards Molly who was at the stove. “You can only speak if I acknowledge that you may do so. Understood?”
Harry nodded and closed his grimoire in order to pay attention. He put away his self-inking quill and shrank both items to go back in his pocket.
“Not all Death Eaters are created equal—some are what I would call heavily trained combat assets. Their dueling skills are excellent, they are fast and vicious, and will kill you given a chance. Lucius Malfoy was one of these assets.” He paused to judge Draco’s reaction to that before continuing. “The Lestrange brothers are also extremely dangerous while Bellatrix is insane. She was insane before she was ever locked up in Azkaban. It’s one of the reasons why the Kiss was never considered a punishment for her during her trial and why she almost was sent to the secure wing of St. Mungo’s. If she hadn’t tortured the Longbottoms to insanity, she probably have would’ve been. But many in the Wizengamot protested her being secured in the same facility as Frank and Alice Longbottom.”
Moody cleared his throat noisily and stirred his tea. “Now, there are others—conscripts and barely trained wizards who probably don’t have two OWLS to rub together who will be in the Death Eater ranks. Potter, you are facing a highly trained Death Eater and one who is not. What do you do?”
“Kill the untrained wizard as fast as I can and work to subdue and capture the other,” Harry said without pause and merely raised an eyebrow at the horrified looks he earned from Molly and Hermione.
“Justify your actions to me,” Moody said coolly.
“The untrained wizard is just as dangerous if not more so than the trained one. There is no predicting the actions of a wizard who hasn’t been trained to duel. He’s a distraction at worst and a severe threat at most in this situation because any idiot can cast the Killing Curse. I capture the highly trained Death Eater because he is more likely to have information about Voldemort we can use. Inner circle members are worth their weight in gold at this point in the war.”
Moody nodded. “Very well reasoned. Malfoy, you are facing two untrained wizards who have accidently stumbled upon you. They aren’t a significant threat but you are doing business for the Order and for our war effort that is sensitive. They’ve seen you do something we do not want the Dark Lord to find out. What do you do?”
“Erect wards to prevent apparition or portkeying, subdue them, confiscate their wands and any portkeys they might have for research purposes. Obliviate them and send them to the DMLE,” Draco said. “If they are untrained then they are not privy to any real information about Voldemort. While they can be considered a threat, if they are easy to subdue then it should be done. If they present too much of a fight or if I feel one or more of them might escape—I kill them both.”
“You’ve both demonstrated strong protective instincts for each other,” Moody said. “Granger, you are present when Malfoy is kidnapped in a battle situation. You have a choice between helping Potter get to the point where he can rescue his partner and subduing him for his own protection.”
“I.” Hermione took a deep breath. “I believe it would be best if an entire team were to attempt a rescue of Draco. I would attempt to subdue Harry.” She blushed when Harry glared at her.
“Weasley, what would you do?”
Ron frowned and said nothing for a few seconds. “I would ascertain if Harry is at all injured and if it possible I would help him formulate a plan to take Malfoy back. If time is short, I would insist on going with him on whatever harebrained rescue mission he wants.”
“Why?” Moody demanded. “Why not subdue Potter and bring him back to headquarters?”
“Because the longer that they are apart the more likely it is that Malfoy will be killed. While it’s true that magic will punish someone with the loss of their magic for interfering in a soul bond—there will be those who don’t believe that Draco and Harry are fated and some who won’t give a damn if it means their side wins. Even if killing him wasn’t on the agenda, I have no doubts that Death Eaters would line up for a chance to torture a blood traitor to insanity. I don’t know what that would do their partnership—but if Malfoy went insane Harry would be alone the rest of his life. Better they die together than live like that.”
Molly was staring at her son in horror but Moody ignored her.
“Potter, you have a choice between saving the life of an innocent and saving the life of Malfoy. One of them will die if you don’t intervene and you can’t save both. What do you do?”
“Instinct would make me choose Draco,” Harry admitted. “While I would bear the guilt of not saving the other person my whole life—there really is no choice to be made. Draco comes first—above anything and anyone else.”
“Anyone?” Hermione questioned. “Even a defenseless child?”
“Even my own mother if she lived,” Harry said shortly. “You don’t understand the magic that flows between me and Draco, Hermione. The survival of our bond is primal. Though to be honest, I doubt I’d survive his death by anything more than seconds. If we were just fated… I could in theory live weeks as my magic slowly faded but we are archmagus partners—we share magic and without him alive to temper my connection to wild magic… frankly I don’t even know what would happen. If you see Draco go down and you know he’s dead—get the hell away from me as fast as you can.”
“The last archmagus pair born in France died within a minute of each other in August of 1687,” Moody began. “It is believed that the elemental died first. The other was a wild mage like Potter. The crater he left behind was forty kilometers wide and their bodies were incinerated in the magical backlash.”
“Are all archmagus pairings wild and elemental together?” Ron asked.
“We have no way of knowing for certain,” Harry admitted. “But it makes sense as my ability to feed Draco wild magic increases his abilities to manipulate and control the elements.”
The fireplace flared and Remus Lupin stepped out. “We have a serious problem.”
“What now?” Moody demanded.
Remus dropped a copy of the less popular wizarding newspaper, the London Wizarding Times on the table. “They missed someone at the Ministry.”
LORD DRACO MALFOY IS POTTER’S ARCHMAGUS PARTNER!
PAIR IN SECRET MEETING WITH THE MINISTER FOR MAGIC.
“Fuck me,” Harry hissed in Parseltongue and snagged the paper. He read the article quickly, a small frown settling into place on his face as he did so. “Nothing on the DOM mess or my animagus form. The only person who saw Draco before that would’ve been Percy Weasley but he was obliviated as well just to be safe. Shacklebolt took care of it personally.” He read the last paragraph. “Except it has information on us both receiving training materials and devices from the DMLE. That doesn’t make any sense.”
Ron reached out and took the paper when Harry set it down. He read the article with a small frown. “Well, there is nothing about the content of the meeting you guys had either so it wasn’t someone getting information from Fudge or someone in his office because they would have included that stuff about the contract you guys offered to sign and the donations you made.”
“But,” Malfoy prodded. “I can see you thinking, Weasley.”
“It’s just… this is information that could’ve easily come out of this house,” Ron admitted and the tips of his ears went red. “Not an Order member—again because there isn’t enough information passed along and they’ve all taken vows to keep you guys secret. Not a member of your conclave because we can’t talk about it due to the secrecy vow on the invitation and most of them don’t know that you two met with the Minister.”
“That only leaves Hermione and Ginny,” Harry said with a frown. “Everyone else is either in my conclave or in the Order.”
Hermione took a deep breath. “I didn’t say a word to anyone, Harry. I would never do something so foolish—I’ll swear a vow if you wish.”
Harry shook his head and looked at Molly who looked torn between outrage and resignation. “Mrs. Weasley?”
“She’s been very upset with you both,” Molly murmured. “I can see her… I have faith that it wasn’t Hermione. Ginny didn’t have the information about the donation the two of you made to the DMLE or the contract you offered to sign. She did know that the two of you visited the Minister and she knows that something happened that made you both angry—but no one has told her the specifics. If I had a choice, Ron wouldn’t know either.” She sent her youngest son a look when he started to protest. “She also knows you’ve been training in the basement with devices supplied by the DMLE.”
“Why would she…” Harry trailed off. “Doesn’t she realize that we’ll both die if she gets Draco killed?”
“She told me last night she thinks that Draco is using some kind of spell to control you and make you say the things you say about him,” Hermione admitted with a sigh. “I told her she was crazy and that the Headmaster would’ve certainly intervened if that was the case. I don’t believe for a minute that Harry hasn’t been tested for curses or potions by more than one adult in this house. And he’s been under the care of Madame Pomfrey several times since the Department of Mysteries—she would’ve found it if there was anything to find.”
“Very logical argument, Granger,” Draco said, obviously more amused than offended. “It’s an unfortunate headline but we are protected here. We just won’t be able to leave the house until it’s time to go to Hogwarts. There will be a formal announcement of our fated pair bond before school starts anyway. Such announcements are produced by the Department of Mysteries within twenty-four hours of the bond being sealed.”
Molly huffed. “You are too young to seal your bond, young man! Does your mother know…” She trailed off under Draco’s icy glare.
“Madam, I’ve done my very best to treat you with respect as you are my cousin’s guest but you go too far. Harry might be willing to explain himself to you but I am not. You are intruding on matters that are simply none of your concern.” Draco stood from the table and spared the newspaper one final glance. “Do let your youngest know that she’d like to see me dead she should at least be Gryffindor enough to do the deed herself.”
Harry winced as Draco stalked from the room. Nothing on Earth set him off like someone speaking of or questioning him as if he were a child. Molly had done it often enough in the last few weeks to put them both on edge.
Harry looked at Molly startled. “Mrs. Weasley, I’m not discussing my sex life with you.”
Molly huffed. “I will be speaking to your godfather about this young man!”
Harry groaned and left the kitchen.
Remus cleared his throat. “Molly, mind your own business. I’m sure you mean well but leaving their bond unconsummated in very dangerous. They are already experiencing power fluctuations and issues with control as you very well know. You participated in the research that was done on their bond after all. They can’t even apparate over long distances at this point. Portkeys are disorienting them both to the point where it is extremely dangerous—something that Harry had no problem with in June but can’t do now without being ill afterward. Beyond that, it’s an extremely poor risk for Harry to remain innocent. He could be used in all manner of dark rites as a virgin. We can only be fortunate it didn’t cross Voldemort’s mind during fourth year when Harry was kidnapped after the third task.” He winced when Molly paled. “The Dark Arts are ripe with virgin sacrifice rituals, you know.”
Hermione promptly raised her hand and blushed when Moody and Remus both laughed. “Right, well, does that mean that a witch must have an intact hymen or does it require penetration by a wizard?”
Remus blushed furiously, Molly gaped in horror, and Moody grinned at her. “You’d need a wizard, lass. There are some rituals that call for a ‘witch who has never known a wizard intimately’ and are considered in the same class of acts as a virgin sacrifice.”
Hermione huffed and shot Ron a shrewd look. “What? Don’t look at me like that! There is no telling what a Death Eater might do with me—I don’t want to be a virgin sacrifice.”
“Who does?” Sirius asked blithely as he entered the kitchen. “Molly, leave Harry and Draco alone. You’ve upset them both so much they are down in the basement blowing stuff up.”
“You can’t be serious about allowing them to…”
Black smirked at her. “I’m always Sirius.” He pulled a jug of pumpkin juice out of the cool cabinet and poured himself a glass. “As to the other matter, as I’m sure you’re well aware—they are both emancipated adults and need permission from no one to conduct their relationship in any manner they see fit. Additionally, Remus must have explained how dangerous their pooling magic has become. They need the strength of a completed bond. War is no time to develop any sort of Puritan sensibilities. Those people sailed off to the colonies, you know, and good riddance I say.”
Hermione laughed abruptly and then covered her mouth when Molly openly glared at her.
– – – –
Molly tried to settle down as she slid a tea tray in place on the table near Albus. Ginny was sitting—silent and sullen at the end of the table. Arthur had called a family meeting before it was time to meet with Dumbledore and her daughter had confessed to slipping a note to both the Times and the Prophet about Malfoy. Only the Times had printed the information but it had spread like wild fire anyways. She knew that they were formulating a response to be published in the Prophet since Draco owned it.
“Ginerva,” Albus began. “Your father has related to me the confession he gained from you concerning your actions with identity of Lord Potter’s archmagus partner.” He paused when she openly scoffed. “Do you believe me feeble-minded, child?”
Ginny’s mouth dropped open and she blushed furiously. “No, of course not, sir.”
Albus stirred his tea carefully. “Do you believe that I accepted Lord Potter’s relationship with Lord Malfoy without thoroughly investigating the situation? Though it is hardly your business, child, I had them both thoroughly inspected for charm, hexes, spells, and curses. They’ve both been in Poppy’s care enough times in the past few weeks for me to have gathered all the information I need about them.”
“He can’t be his soul mate!” Ginny shouted and then winced when both her parents glared at her. “It’s just not possible—Malfoy is dark and horrible and a Death Eater.”
“Draco Malfoy is not his father,” Albus murmured. “What he is a highly magical young wizard who loves so fiercely and righteously that he nearly got himself killed defending his mother’s life. If Lucius Malfoy had understood the depth of his son’s abilities—he would have cast the Killing Curse on him the moment he could. It was his arrogance more than young Draco’s abilities that determined that fight as while his son did not, for a moment, attempt to use the Dark Arts during that fight—Lucius used little else.”
Bill Weasley exhaled sharply. Molly knew that both he and Charlie had seen the memories from the Department of Mysteries and the duel between Draco and his father. They’d immediately joined the Order after the viewing and Bill had returned to the bank to report what the Headmaster would allow to his superiors.
“No.” Albus inclined his head and poured a bit of milk in his tea. “Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy are a fated couple. Their pairing is protected by both Fate and Magic to such a level that I cannot comprehend it. That they were reborn in our era when we need the strength of an archmagus pair most—is a stunning and beautiful gift. It is a gift that I will guard zealously and with as much vigor as I can muster until I die.”
“They can’t be fated,” Ginny whispered. “It’s not… Harry saved me in the Chamber of Secrets—he came for me.”
“Because I asked him to,” Ron said shortly. “Because he saw you as family, Ginny. All he’s ever wanted from us is to be accepted as family. He’s never had that. Those Muggles hate him for even existing and the rest of the wizarding world treats him great one minute and like dirt the next. I’ve never been the kind of friend he deserves and every day I work hard to make that up to him. This war might be the death of him, you know. He told me once during his third year that he thought he’d been living on borrowed time since his parents were murdered.”
“I love him,” Ginny whispered.
“Which makes your actions all the more alarming,” Albus said carefully. “You’re selfish and destructive, Ginerva. I know what it is to love someone so completely that you’re blind to what anyone else wants. The business with the love potion… I let Sirius and Harry handle it the way they thought best because I believed it was a family matter.” He paused and took a deep breath. “But this is another matter altogether, as I explained to your father.”
“What do you mean?”
“You gave information to the enemy,” Charlie snapped and stood up from the table. “You painted a target on Draco Malfoy’s back and you didn’t even care if it got Harry killed!”
“It won’t get Harry killed!” Ginny protested violently.
“They are soul bound!” Molly shouted and everyone in the room, including Dumbledore, sat back a little. “They live and die together! It doesn’t matter if you want to believe it or not, it’s true.”
Albus sighed and removed his glasses. “Your parents and two older brothers are all members of the Order. Ron and the twins are members of Harry’s personal conclave. You’ve betrayed us all, Ginerva.” He paused and watched the blood drain from her face. He stood from the table and walked to the door. “Harry, if you would come in please?”
Harry entered the room and took the seat that the Headmaster offered as Bill placed the pensieve on the table. “Hey.”
Bill touched his shoulder. “Hey, yourself, kid. I’m looking forward to dueling with you tomorrow. Charlie and I both.”
Harry glanced briefly at Charlie. “Draco is looking forward to it as well.” He sighed and focused on Ginny. “Hello, Ginny.”
“Harry.” She averted her gaze and brushed tears from her face.
Harry focused on the Headmaster. “What did you wish for me to show them, sir?”
“The Chamber of Secrets,” Dumbledore said quietly. “And then as much of the resurrection of Voldemort as you are comfortable with.”
Harry’s gaze widened briefly and stared at the pensieve. “If I’m going to go inside with you all—I’d like Draco to be here, too.”
“Of course,” Dumbledore stood and went to retrieve him. “I’ll have Moody watch over us if that is okay?”
Harry hesitated. “Professor Snape as well.”
Dumbledore sent him a small smile and went to retrieve those Harry had requested. In just a few minutes, they were dipping their fingers into the pensieve.
“Oh, look how small we were Harry!” Ron said with a small, sad laugh. He winced then because they’d landed just in time to watch Lockhart try to obliviate them both.
All too soon, they were following the twelve year old version of himself into the Chamber of Secrets. He noticed that Dumbledore paid very close attention to the conversation between him and Riddle. Harry wondered why the man had never asked to see the memory before.
“Oh my fucking God,” Bill Weasley muttered as the basilisk slithered out of the opening. Molly was too shocked to even protest his language.
“Merlin, Harry.” Draco shook his head. “I don’t… I mean you said but I never expected it to be so big. I just thought you remembered it big because you were so small.”
Harry laughed weakly and they watched in near silence as the snake taunted him. Fawkes arrival was as much a relief now as it had been then. By the time the snake bit him, Molly Weasley was sobbing almost uncontrollably. Draco stalked across the room and stood over him as he stabbed the diary. He watched as the horcrux was destroyed and shared a knowing look with the grown up version of Harry.
They all sighed in relief when Fawkes cried in the wound and the memory ended abruptly with that. Bill Weasley pulled his finger from the pensieve and stared at Harry Potter in stunned silence while Charlie stumbled away from them all and threw up in a small trashcan near the door.
“What’s happened?” Moody demanded.
Albus looked at his old friend and then at Severus Snape who was eyeing the pensieve in curiosity. Sirius Black was leaning against the kitchen sink with a butterbeer. “Perhaps the three of you should view it yourselves.”
All three stepped forward without hesitating and stuck their fingers in the swirling memory.
Draco’s hand covered Harry’s as he watched the three men immerse themselves in the memory. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” Harry glanced at him and found his mate unspeakably pale. “What about you?”
“I… no… I’m not remotely okay,” Draco admitted. “I’m really sorry, Harry. I’m sorry I started those rumors about you being the Heir of Slytherin. I’m sorry I kept trying to get you expelled. I’m sorry I threw a snake at you in the stupid duel with Lockhart.”
Harry grinned. “Dragon, you already apologized for all of that stuff.” He’d never shown these memories to Malfoy in the future—they’d agreed to let their past go as much as possible.
“Well, I need to do it again,” Draco snapped. He glared briefly at Ginny and then focused on Molly Weasley who was crying quietly against her husband’s shoulder. “Ron, I think your mum could use a stiff drink.”
“Too right,” Ron said. He went to the cabinet and came back with a glass and a bottle of fire whiskey for his parents.
Snape snatched his hand back from the pensieve with a startled sound and glared at Potter. He rounded the table, snagged Harry’s arm, and jerked up the sleeve to see the round scar on his arm. “Merlin, Potter, I…” He released Harry abruptly and shared an unreadable look with Sirius who had snagged the bottle of fire whiskey from the table and drank deeply from it. “The press should call you The-Boy-Who-Doesn’t-Know-How-To-Die.”
Harry smirked. “Rather long, wouldn’t you say?”
Dumbledore collected the memory and stored it carefully in a vial. “May I?”
“Yes, it’s just a copy,” Harry murmured. He glanced at Ginny and found her pale, withdrawn. “Ginny?”
“I didn’t remember any of it,” she admitted hoarsely. “I didn’t even know what the snake looked like until now.”
Harry nodded and pulled his wand so he could copy the second memory that Dumbledore wanted the Weasleys to see. “I’ll start it just before Cedric and I grab the cup.”
Everyone but Snape and Harry stuck their finger in the pensieve. Harry watched the potion’s master with half-closed eyes. “Why?”
“I would prefer to view it in private,” Severus admitted. “Or just with the Headmaster. I don’t… it’s a nightmare, Potter.”
“In more ways than you would expect,” Harry admitted. He stuck his finger in and everything blurred away as Snape activated the memory for them.
He watched while Cedric and his younger self discussed who should take the cup before they decided to take together. He’d never regretted not being selfish more in his whole life. Cedric would’ve lived if he hadn’t been such a Gryffindor. He ignored the looks of pity he received from the twins and the two oldest Weasley sons as Cedric was murdered by Wormtail. By the time his parents came out of Voldemort’s wand, no one was capable of even looking at him. Draco was standing near the memory of his own father—glaring at the man as if the betrayal was fresh and new.
Sirius stumbled away from the table as soon as the pensieve kicked them out and stared at his godson in mute horror—his hands shaking with so much distress no one was willing to break the silence.
“Sirius.” Harry inclined his head and frowned at his godfather. “Are you okay?”
Black exhaled sharply. “I don’t even know… how I can ever make up for has been done to you, Harry. Between your Muggle relatives and that,” he spat and gestured wildly at the memory still swirling gently in the pensieve. “I should’ve worked harder to find Wormtail! I should’ve… killed that son of a bitch when I had the chance.”
“You’d have never been free of it,” Harry said quietly. “I don’t blame you for anything and neither do my parents. I know they don’t blame you, okay?”
“How?” Sirius asked, his tone soft and begging. “How can you know such a thing, Harry?”
“Because Snape spent the last five years telling me I’m exactly like my father and I don’t blame you,” Harry snapped. “And my mother was apparently a saint—so she doesn’t blame you either. When you die in bed with a witch or wizard half your age at the ripe old age of 200 you can ask them, okay?”
Sirius huffed. “Why not a witch and a wizard?”
Harry smiled briefly but it fell away when he saw Draco’s face. “Are you okay, Dragon?”
Draco shook his head. “I’ve never hated my father more than I do right now,” he admitted softly. “And that’s saying something since he regularly beat me unconsciousness most of my childhood.” He stood up from the table and stalked out of the room.
“Ginerva, do you understand why I asked Harry to show you these things?”
Ginny bit down on her bottom lip, her eyes wet with unshed tears. “No, not really.”
Dumbledore sighed. “You’ve said more than once that you believe that Harry saved you from the Chamber of Secrets because you are soul mates. He would’ve gone down into the Chamber for anyone who had been caught up in Voldemort’s plans because… it has been his fate to stand against the Dark Lord since he was nothing more than a babe. You were a tool for Voldemort your first year and I’m sorry that you suffered as you did but none of those events mean that Harry belongs to you.”
Harry turned from them all and walked to stand with Sirius. He didn’t like what was coming next but he hadn’t had enough conviction to argue against it when the Headmaster had told him what he planned to do. He still saw Ginny as a child—obviously a selfish child that couldn’t be trusted.
“Peter Pettigrew betrayed the Light, betrayed the Potters because he was selfish and weak and jealous,” Albus murmured. “He let darkness lead him all the way to Voldemort. He caused, through his betrayal, the murder of Harry’s parents and though many do not know this we’ve come to believe he was instrumental in the attack on the Longbottoms some days later. He was searching for Harry, you see and believed that I’d placed him with his godmother, Alice Longbottom. He wasn’t content with the damage he’d done… James and Lily dead, their child an orphan, and Sirius in jail for murder—he wanted to kill Harry, too.”
“I’m not dark!” Ginny protested.
“You betrayed the Light,” Dumbledore said gravely. “You betrayed those living in this house because you were spiteful and jealous and selfish beyond the measure of it. It can only be fortunate that you didn’t know something much more damaging. Were it not for the fact that the information about Lord Malfoy will be public knowledge by the end of the month—I would have little choice in asking that your entire family leave the house and not return.”
“We aren’t safe at home!” Ginny protested.
“Yet another thing that you didn’t bother to concern yourself with when you betrayed us,” Charlie snapped. “What did you think would happen, Ginerva? If you weren’t underage I would’ve already put forth the suggestion that you be disowned for what you’ve done. We’re at war for Merlin’s sake!”
“It’s just Malfoy!”
Bill blinked in surprise. “Are you spell damaged?” He asked in a shocked tone. “Are you… did… Dad, did either of you have her checked out after she was exposed to that diary all year?”
Harry moved forward, hauled Ginny out of the chair and had her pinned against the wall before anyone had time to protest. He invaded her mind swiftly, his face shifting, his animagus’ tongue flicking out in a horrifying display as he did so. Dumbledore kept her family at bay—Harry gave her no quarter, no privacy as he ripped through her flimsy mental shields and swept through her mind. He released her and swore viciously.
“Potter?” Snape demanded.
“He imprinted on her,” Harry ground out through clenched teeth. He looked at the Headmaster. “I didn’t destroy it soon enough.”
“Oh bloody hell,” Bill whispered.
“Harry.” Arthur began. “What… what is going on?”
Harry shared a look with the Headmaster and cleared his throat. “Voldemort made horcruxes. We believe he made seven and the diary was one—when I destroyed the diary the soul fragment was released but it had been using Ginny’s magic to try to give itself a body. It’s not a horcrux inside her—but some form of soul leach that has been feeding on her magic and corrupting her mind since the end of her first year. I don’t know that she’ll ever be the same.”
“I’m possessed?” Ginny asked horrified. “Tom’s inside me?”
“Yes,” Harry said shortly—understanding better than anyone else exactly what she meant. They’d both interacted with the teenage Dark Lord after all. “He is.”
“Can… we get it out?” Molly asked. “Bill?”
“You usually have to destroy a vessel to release a soul leech,” Bill said neutrally. “The goblins guard the secrets of their soul magic as if it was sacred. I’m not sure they’d help us, Mum.”
“They’ll help me,” Harry said shortly. “I’m stupidly wealthy and they respect power.”
“Harry,” Ginny whispered, her voice breaking with terror.
He sighed and looked away from her. “You are family to me, you foolish little girl. I’ll make them take it out of you, I promise. I’m sorry if I scared you.”
“I’ll never be normal,” Ginny whispered.
“Draco says that being normal is completely undesirable,” Harry murmured in response. Ginny laughed and choked on tears at the same time. “Maybe you’ll end up all mysterious and interesting like Luna.”
“We should isolate her,” Sirius said quietly. “We know that Voldemort has used his connection with Harry. If he learns that Ginerva is connected to him the consequences could be deadly.”
– – – –
Draco had responded to the news that Ginny was possessed by sending Dobby to the manor to pillage Lucius’ hidden library of everything remotely interesting. The elf had returned with a trunk full of books. Draco had split the load between himself, Remus Lupin, his own mother, and Hermione Granger—each member of the research team compiled reports after each book was reviewed and it was Harry’s job to analyze the reports.
So, far the news hadn’t been great but Harry had suggested after the first day that they also start researching what his mother had done at Godric’s Hollow and if the ‘love magic’ she’d created could be duplicated with Ginny in mind. Molly Weasley was fierce and she loved with her whole soul—he figured if anyone could duplicate what his mother had done it would be her. That research hadn’t lead anywhere either.
Ginny had been isolated in what amounted to the “ladies quarters” of Black Manor on the third floor. She was warded so she couldn’t leave the set of rooms that included a bedroom, a small sitting room, and a bathroom. If they couldn’t fix the issue, at least short term, they weren’t going to allow her to return to Hogwarts. The risk was just too great. As it was, all of her incoming and outgoing mail was being monitored by Bill Weasley. Her mother had wanted to do it but Ginny had requested her oldest brother handle it and everyone had agreed to give her as much privacy as possible under the circumstances.
“It’s your birthday in two days,” Draco said as he sat down on the sofa beside Harry.
Harry sighed and set aside the parchment. In the other timeline, they had normally celebrated his birthday in Wales at their cottage. Harry cherished those long weekends full of food and sex and little to no worry. He wasn’t going to get enjoy anything like that for his second sixteenth birthday.
“I realize you probably don’t want a party but it would give everyone a chance to relax and think about something else.”
“I missed your birthday,” Harry murmured.
Draco grinned and said in Parseltongue, “We came back after my birthday, Harry.”
Harry’s widened and he nodded then answered in kind. “I wonder why we came back when we did. Neville seemed pretty confident in his calculations…” He trailed off and sighed.
A clearing throat made them both look up. Hermione Granger was staring at them in shock. “Draco, when did you become a Parselmouth?”
“We pool magic,” Harry said. “It’s how I can manipulate elements and how he can use the wild magic I give him. We also share several magical gifts… among them the Parseltongue.”
“Oh.” Hermione nodded, still pale and went back to her book. “It’s creepy, just so you know.”
“I spent years being ashamed of it, Hermione,” Harry said quietly. “It’s a magical gift that is actually quite respected outside of the UK. There are hundreds of Parselmouths all over the world—in some families not being a Parselmouth is considered a defect on par with being a squib. Native American magical communities prefer that their Healers and Shamans are Parselmouths due to the advanced healing magic we are capable of.”
“It’s just… well… snakes.” She shrugged and obviously tried to hold back the shudder that passed over her body. “I’ve never liked them much.” She paused and considered. “But it does give you a way of communicating that is basically secure if you aren’t around other Parselmouths. Are there different dialects?”
“We’re still studying it,” Draco said neutrally. “It’s not creepy – it’s no more dark or wrong that any other language. French, Mermish… whatever… it’s just a different way of communicating. Of all the creatures in nature, snakes are the most honest and cunning. Even the basilisk during our second year wasn’t dark, she was just misused and cursed by Riddle. It was a crime against magic that Harry was forced to kill her. She could’ve been a great alley to us in the coming war—a true protector of Hogwarts as Salazar intended.”
“I’d like to bring in another,” Harry murmured. “But the Ministry banned them—if they caught us with it they’d probably throw me in Azkaban after the war.”
“They might try,” Draco muttered. “I’d tear that prison down to the foundation and do an Irish jig on the dust.”
Harry grinned at him. “I know you would, Dragon.” He leaned and kissed his partner’s mouth—then completely ignored the sounds of pretend horror that it elicited from the rest of the occupants of the room.
– – – –
July 31, 1996
Harry tried to act like he was enjoying his birthday party through the meal and the cutting of the cake but it was just a cruel reminder of the life Wacko-Neville had stolen from him and Draco. Even coming back as they had and saving Sirius—knowing all of that, Harry still wouldn’t choose to do it if he’d been given a choice. The war and death that was looming on the horizon was mind-numbingly horrific.
When they adjourned into the small sitting room for the present part of the celebration Harry went along and tried to smile. His heart just wasn’t in it and he figured most of the people in the room knew it. The death tolls reported in the Prophet had been the stuff of nightmares.
Narcissa came forward first with a flat, square wooden box. “Draco, if you would come sit with Harry?”
Draco left his butterbeer on the mantle by the floo and joined Harry by sitting on the arm of the large chair. “When did you leave the house?”
Narcissa smiled. “Albus helped me to go Gringotts earlier in the week. It took me several hours to find this as I’d hidden it from your father in my personal vault shortly after we married. The goblins had to shift several thousand galleons off of it.” She sat the box in Harry’s lap. “This is a gift for you both—my blessings upon your bonding. I have another gift for Harry’s birthday but I believed today would be a good day to give you this.”
Harry shared a look with Draco because his partner’s magic was flaringly gently in surprise and shocked pleasure. Narcissa had never even come close to blessing their relationship in the other time line. He opened both latches on the box and opened it carefully.
“Oh.” Harry’s eyes widened. Carefully he plucked on shining snake from the velvet lined box and it slithered swiftly around his fingers. “Mrs. Malfoy…”
“Cissy, please,” Narcissa smiled. “Or perhaps Mother? I would be thrilled with either, Harry.” She touched the snake and it rubbed his head against her finger. “I hid these from Lucius because he would’ve destroyed them. They are full of Light magic as you must know.”
“What are they?” Sirius asked.
“They are Healer’s bracelets,” Draco murmured as Harry plucked up the other snake and offered it to him. The little snake swirled around his fingers before slithering down and wrapping around his wrist. “They are… very rare.”
“Very,” Narcissa admitted. She touched the one Draco was wearing. “This is Sethos and the one Harry is wearing is called Mehen. They were made in Egypt by an archmagus pair who served Sekhemkhet – they were Parselmouths as well. My mother’s family descended from the child they created together—their legacy child. My great grandmother passed them to me when I was just a young girl. She said… that I would know who they were for.”
“Mother…” Draco cleared his throat. “Thank you.”
“Yes, thank you.” Harry touched her hand hesitantly and then curled his fingers against her palm when she didn’t pull away. He’d never told Draco but her refusal of him in the future had hurt more than he could even say. To have her here, now accepting him—it was almost enough to make him stop hating Wacko-Neville.
Narcissa smiled brilliantly, kissed them both on the cheek and left the chair so that he could receive the rest of his gifts. He received books on quidditch, new seeker gloves, candy, a few books on dueling, six outfits and a cloak from Narcissa, and a wicked pair of dragon hide boots from Charlie that nearly made Draco’s eyes cross with envy.
Then Moody approached. The last few weeks the man had grown on them both and he had in turn doted on his vicious little archmagus like they were the apples of his good eye. No one was more amused by this than Draco, who had never had the opportunity to really know the old Auror before he died in the previous timeline.
“I’ve got a gift for you both as well,” Moody muttered as he pulled a flat wood box from his pocket. He expanded it with a flick of his wand and placed it on the floor.
Harry shot the old Auror a narrow look, which made him grin before he slid out of the chair and onto his knees. He opened the box and stared in shock. “Moody… this is too much.”
“I had these commissioned for my own boys—but they both died before they were even completed. I kept them in my vault for a long time—trained a lot of wizards and I’ve never had students who deserved them more.”
Harry shared a look with Draco and wasn’t surprised to find his partner slightly paler than normal. “They’ve never been used?”
“No, only the goblin that made them has ever touched them. Harry, the ones with the ebony handles are for you.”
Harry picked up the dueling blades carefully, his magic tingled against the protective charms. They were short swords—but easily twice the length of his wand. Mehen stirred on his wrist briefly but then grew still. The goblin wrought blade was gleaming, crackling with magic. “Merlin, Moody, this is…”
“You’ll fight a man’s war,” Moody said shortly. “You deserve a man’s weapon. Malfoy, the jade are for you—I had charms placed on them in deference to your elemental abilities. Filius handled the work and agreed to a memory charm after he did it. He won’t remember doing it until he learns that you are an elemental. If you need further charm work done—he’ll be the best to go to.”
Draco nodded and joined Harry on the floor. “Are you certain?”
“Never been more so,” Moody said gruffly and thumped away on his fake leg.
Harry resolved right then to get the notes on the limb regeneration potion out of the trunk ASAP so he could grow Moody a new leg.
Draco picked up the swords and hummed softly as they immediately began to attune themselves to his magic. “I’ve never had anything so fine that I didn’t… buy for myself, Moody. You honor us both with your choice. I hope we never give you cause to doubt us and these gifts.”
“That arsehole Croaker might have doubts about the legends of the archmagus but I don’t,” Moody muttered as he pulled out his flask.
Harry offered him a grin and then they stowed the weapons. He shrank the box and Draco slid it into an interior pocket of his robe. They’d work out how to carry and holster them later. Draco slid a box onto his lap as he got settled back in the chair. Harry raised an eyebrow as the stasis charms on the contents of the box brushed against his magic.
He pulled the Slytherin green ribbon off the pristine white box with a small smile and then opened it up. He pilfered through silver tissue paper and his mouth dropped open in complete surprise. “Oh.”
“A book?” Ron asked. “Not very romantic, I’d say.”
Draco sent him a look and just shook his head. “Open it, Harry.”
Harry opened the cover and his coughed. “Merlin, Draco this must have cost…”
“What is it?” Hermione questioned leaning forward.
“It’s a signed first edition of The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems by William Butler Yeats. It was published in 1889,” Harry said for those who might not know the works of Yeats. Draco smirked slightly when Granger’s mouth dropped open completely in shock and Remus Lupin’s eyebrow darted up in surprise.
“I don’t get it,” Ron whispered loudly to Hermione.
“It’s worth about five thousand galleons, Ron,” Sirius said dryly. “Especially in the pristine condition it is in. How did you find it?”
“I had a broker start looking for it shortly after we were released from school,” Draco admitted. “It put a rather epic dent in my trust fund; thank Merlin my father didn’t notice. Though he was in no condition to do anything about it but complain for quite a few weeks.”
Harry touched the book’s cover carefully and took a deep breath. It was one of the books he’d searched for in the future but he’d never found one that was in good enough condition to warrant the price most often demanded. He’d found a volume of poetry in his mother’s vault—a reprinting of Yeats that had obviously been read and re-read many times.
“Yeats was Lily’s favorite,” Remus said quietly.
Harry nodded. “Yes, mine as well. I’ve always found his work beautiful.” He blushed when Ron quirked an eyebrow at him. “Though I had no intention of letting Ron know because he’s horrible.” He sent a mock glare at Draco who only laughed.
“I’m not horrible!” Ron protested with a laugh.
“Who do you plan to tell first?” Harry asked dryly. “Dean or Seamus?”
“Are you kidding?” Ron demanded. “Harry, mate, I don’t know how to say this but you liking poetry doesn’t even rate on the scale of things I want to tell Seamus and Dean as soon as I’m allowed. I mean—seriously—don’t you think you being gay for Malfoy rates higher?”
Harry plucked up a piece of wrapping paper, wadded it up, and tossed it at his friend. “Wanker!” He grinned when Molly admonished him for his language and they all got a little tense as the floo activated.
Minerva McGonagall swept out with an elegant swish of her skirts, holding a Fire Bolt in one hand and a gift bag in the other. “Did I miss cake?”
“I saved you a piece,” Albus promised from his place near a window.
She offered Harry the broom first. “I did the servicing myself after we made sure that old toad hadn’t put any curses or hexes on it.”
Harry took the broom with a small smile relief. He knew that in the last timeline that Dolores hadn’t destroyed his broom but it was nice to hold it again. “Thank you, Professor.”
Minerva smiled and then offered Harry the gift bag she had in hand. “For you both.”
“Why give them presents together?” Ron questioned.
“Traditionally, archmagus pairs celebrate their birthdays together,” Narcissa explained. “As they grow older they’ll pick a date between their birthdays for public celebrations and celebrate their actual birthdays in private. Draco’s birthday is June 5th.”
“Harry didn’t get him a present,” Ron pointed out. “Did he?”
“Oh, he did,” Draco assured. “Watching my father wallow around in agony for nearly two weeks due to Potter’s curse is easily the best gift I’ve ever been given. Though my godfather certainly did his part by giving him watered down pain potions.” He offered Severus a grin and the potions master just quirked an eyebrow at him. “He really couldn’t give me a gift – if anyone had guessed where it came from it would have exposed us both.”
“It’ll be different this year,” Hermione said. “You won’t be able to hide. How are we supposed to protect you both?”
“I’ve made arrangements,” Dumbledore assured. “They will be housed together in private rooms—though they will remain a part of their respective houses. I’d considered resorting Lord Malfoy but I feel he might be able to turn some of his house mates from the Dark Lord’s cause…” He trailed off when Draco nodded his agreement.
“No way,” Ron said with a frown. “That’s too dangerous. They should at least have a dorm in Gryffindor—maybe all the way on top of the boy’s tower so they have to go through us all to get to them.”
“I couldn’t allow that,” Harry said quietly. “I agree with the Headmaster. We shouldn’t be housed around first or second years—they could be hurt in the cross fire. We’ll be safe as possible at Hogwarts, Ron. Our quarters will be as heavily warded as a professor’s.” He held up a hand when Ron started to protest. “Where does Professor McGonagall sleep?”
Ron frowned. “I don’t… shouldn’t I know? I mean I’m a prefect?”
Harry laughed. “You report matters to a portrait on her office door, right? I’ve seen Hermione do it. Our rooms will be hidden much like that—only those who are allowed to know will know.”
“Right, okay,” Ron agreed.
Harry shook his head. After the conclave vow was sealed, Ron had gotten weird on some things—security issues being one of them. He had gone batshit on Ginny over the leak of Malfoy’s status and apparently had been silenced twice during their family meeting.
He pulled out a box from the bag and opened it carefully. He could feel the protective magic pouring out of the box. He opened it and stared at it shock. “Professor…”
She sent him a dark look. “Don’t you dare, Harry Potter.”
Harry laughed and set the bag aside so he could settle the box in his lap. “Are they the same?”
“Yes,” she said shortly. “Though they will bond with your magic and tailor themselves to your unique magical signatures—in both of your forms which I expect to see after the party.”
The amulets were small, silver representations of the lion of Gryffindor and the Slytherin snake—intertwined in such a way that it was difficult to tell where one began and the other ended. The lion had sparklingly ruby eyes and the snake had emeralds. He picked up one and offered it to Draco who took it with a steady hand.
“What do they do?” Ron asked.
“They are animagus amulets,” Minerva said and pulled one from underneath her robes. The pendant sparkled, still shining brightly with protective magic. “I had them designed and the Headmaster helped me with the spells and charms. With these amulets on—no one alive will have the power to force them to change to or from their animagus form. It prevents a wizard or witch from using their gifts against them.” She flushed. “I had someone force me to change once when I was very young—the spell is crude and often when you shift back under it—you’re naked.”
“I hope you cursed that bastard into the next year,” Narcissa snapped.
“I did,” Minerva assured. “He limps to this day.” She shared a small smile with Narcissa and then grew serious. “Albus charmed my amulet for me the very next day. No one has successfully forced me into either form again—not even in a duel.”
Harry slipped the chain over his neck and it automatically resized so that it was snug but not uncomfortable against the hollow of his throat. “Thank you very much, Professor.”
“Yes,” Draco murmured as he stared at the pendant still cradled in his palm. “I…”
“You’re surprised I included the snake,” Minerva surmised. “Despite the rumors I’ve never held any animosity for your house, Lord Malfoy. I have to… play a role at Hogwarts much like Severus. It keeps him safe. It would never do for some to realize how much like a son he is to me.” She smiled when Snape flushed and averted his gaze. “But our Quidditch rivalry is real and I expect you both to take it seriously.” She pointed a finger at them. “And I expect none of that fighting this year—so you’ll just have to resolve your UST before the season starts.”
Both boys blushed furiously and Ron Weasley started laughing his ass off.
August 2, 1996
“It’s not a traditional possession,” the goblin sorceress muttered. “But then you know that already?”
“Yes,” Bill Weasley nodded as he watched the goblins examine his sister. “I’m prepared to offer whatever is required to see her healed, Madame Moonthorn.”
“You needn’t,” Ragnok said. “Lord Potter and I have discussed the child’s condition and how she came to be as she is. He’s given us the basilisk he defeated. We’ve already harvested the remains with Dumbledore’s help—it was more than enough compensation for the magic we will do today for your sister. In fact, we made so much money from the carcass that we placed ten thousand galleons in a trust fund for her. Lord Potter insisted that he wanted no part of the profit.”
Bill figured that must have made the goblins question Harry’s sanity. “He bears guilt for the destruction of the animal. He wishes he could’ve saved her but she’d been cursed by the Dark Lord.”
Ragnok nodded. “Yes, he explained this to me as well. You and your parents must understand that the damage done to your sister’s mind will not be healed immediately. She will need intensive mind healing—regularly. It is one reason why Lord Potter insisted on the trust fund. It will pay for her care and we’ve assigned an account manager to see that her monies are properly and safely invested.”
Bill barely kept his mouth from dropping open in shock. Ten thousand galleons was nothing to sneeze at it but the bank rarely assigned an account manager to any account smaller than a hundred thousand galleons. “Thank you, sir. My family is… in your debt.”
“Any debt you owe is to Lord Potter,” Ragnok said shortly. “He arranged for all of this—he bears guilt for more than just the death of an ancient magical creature, young wizard. You will have to leave the room – your parents have already been escorted to a small room to wait.”
“I…” Bill looked at his baby sister, still like death on the goblin altar and closed his eyes briefly. He pushed back his mage sight so he could see her face clearly and then opened them. “She is the youngest child in our family, Ragnok, I cannot tell you what she means to us. That I let her linger like this with that thing in her—makes me sick. I can’t believe I never noticed it.”
“Had you been trained in soul magic,” Ragnok began, “you would have noticed it the moment you saw her again after the possession happened. It is no fault of your own that you weren’t trained in such magic—it is not a field most wizards are talented enough in to warrant receiving additional instruction. You must leave now—the soul fragment may try to seek you as a host. It will find no quarter or safety in the magic or mind of a goblin.”
Bill nodded and let himself be led from the room. He remained lost in thought as he walked down the narrow, carved stone hallway and into the chamber where his parents were sequestered. “They’ll begin soon.”
“Bill.” Arthur sighed. “Whatever price you’ve agreed to pay them—I will bear that burden. I won’t have you have such a financial hardship at your age.”
Bill smiled briefly and then sat down with the tea his mother offered. “Lord Potter has donated the entire carcass of that basilisk to the cause. They established a trust fund for Ginny with the left over monies. She’ll be properly dowered if you chose to pursue a marriage contract for her. The goblins have even given her an account manager,” Bill murmured.
“The lad is… too generous by far,” Arthur murmured.
Molly sniffed and stared in her tea. “I wish…”
“We know what you wish, Mum,” Bill began gently. “It was pretty obvious what you wanted from the very beginning but Harry Potter was never going to marry Ginny—it just wasn’t ever in the cards. The man has a fated soul mate and nothing can change that. He would have never loved her the way a witch deserves to be loved. You know that, right?”
Molly nodded. “Yes, I just wish it were different is all. It’s obvious how much that they care for one another. I just wish it was someone in our family instead of Draco Malfoy. What did his family ever deserve to be gifted with such magic? His grandfather and his father both were unrepentant Death Eaters – to have a warrior of Light born of such a family is…”
“An amazing gift,” Bill interrupted. “The Malfoys are an ancient family and their familial magic is powerful. To have an archmagus born of their line could alter the destiny of their family for an eternity. The next Malfoy Heir will be light and powerful and all the things that Lucius wasn’t. We are fortunate to live in such times.”
“But Harry deserves a big family—a loving family.”
“Voldemort robbed him of that,” Arthur said. “There is nothing we can do to make that right, Molly, and you don’t have the right to mother the young man no matter how much you wish it were different. You never did. We should’ve fought harder for him in the beginning—I never agreed with Albus leaving James’ son with Muggles. It was an immense insult to the House of Potter and to all that they sacrificed so that we could live a life free from Voldemort for as long as we did. What their son suffered while we…prospered and lived so many good years without fear of that monster… It’s an obscenity. Albus will certainly be judged harshly for it in death. Magic will not be kind to him for such folly.”
– – – –
Bill sat down on the chair that the healer had left behind and stared at his sister. She looked half-dead—her face as white as the finest parchment gold could buy. Her eyes were dull, but focused. Her magical core was nearly depleted and it would be weeks before she’d have enough magic to even cast a cheering charm. Her condition was nothing less than he would expect from a ritual that had lasted nearly ten hours.
“How do you feel?”
“Weird. Tired.” Ginny averted her gaze. “The same… I feel the same about him as I did before. I love him.”
“But you understand now that it can’t be?” Bill questioned.
Tears welled in her eyes and she nodded. “I hate Malfoy. I hate him for having what is mine.”
Bill sighed. “What is Harry’s favorite color, Ginny?”
“What?” She frowned at him. “Red, I suppose?”
“Green actually,” Bill corrected. He’d asked the younger man a series of questions with this very conversation in mind. “What about his first pet?”
“No,” Bill murmured. “His first pet was a little green garden snake that that he rescued from his uncle on Privet Drive. His Aunt found it and killed it several weeks before he started Hogwarts.”
“I don’t understand why you are asking me these questions,” Ginny said with a frown.
“What about his favorite book?”
“He hates school work,” Ginny scoffed. “His favorite subject is DADA though.”
“He’s second in his year for Gryffindor after Hermione and only fourth in his year for the entire school. His favorite school subject is actually Ancient Runes. His favorite book is called Dune and it was written by a Muggle named Frank Herbert. It’s about a young man that goes to a new world and is forced through circumstances beyond his control to become their savior at the sacrifice of his father and many that he loved.” Bill had read the book a long time ago himself—stuck in a camp in Egypt while the goblins planned how to excavate a new tomb system they’d discovered.
“How do you know this?” Ginny demanded.
“I asked him,” Bill replied gently. “Did you know he’s not actually all that fond of Quidditch and the only reason he plays is because he loves to fly? You don’t know the man, Ginny, and what you think you know about him you learned in books when you were little. He’s not some fairy tale hero and he’s never killed a dragon. He’s an amazing young man, a strong wizard, and someone I hope to one day consider a friend—but he’s not some mythical prince charming who you were destined to marry.”
“Why are you saying this?” Ginny demanded, her mouth trembling as tears slid down her cheeks.
“Because the vow Father placed on you isn’t going to be lifted and I won’t have my sister stripped of her family name and magic because of coddling. Mum wants to shelter you and protect you from the truth until you ‘get better’. The fact is that you are never going to get better if you continue to hold onto these little girl fantasies.”
“Bill.” Ginny curled on her side. “Please don’t… just let me…”
“No. I need you to repeat after me, Ginny.” Bill took a deep breath. “Draco Malfoy is Harry Potter’s soul mate.”
“It’s not true,” Ginny whispered fiercely. “It can’t be true, Bill. Draco is dark and horrible and he’ll never love Harry the way I do.”
“You’re wrong and you’re right,” Bill conceded. “He’s not dark and he won’t betray Harry but he won’t ever love Harry the way you do.” He paused at his sister’s triumphant smirk. “Draco loves Harry unconditionally with a pure heart and he would sacrifice anything for Harry’s happiness. Draco Malfoy puts Harry’s welfare, his happiness, and his safety above his own. He dueled and killed the patriarch of his family—shouldered the brunt of a potentially vengeful family magical legacy to protect his mother and Harry. He did it to avoid taking the Dark Mark, to avoid tainting his fledgling bond with his soul mate. I won’t say you don’t have it in you to love that way but whatever love you have for Harry isn’t pure or unconditional. You put your own happiness and wants before his.”
Ginny glared at him, her face more pale than it had been when he sat down. “That’s not true.”
“You tried to dose him with a love potion,” Bill pointed out. “That’s incredibly selfish and destructive. It is easily the most disgusting and vile thing one person can do to another—to take away the choice and the right to love as they will. There is nothing harmless or remotely good about love potions.”
Ginny hissed through clenched teeth and turned on her side to escape her brother. “Why am I still so angry? I thought it would go away with Tom gone.”
“He’s been in you a long time,” Bill said softly. “You may carry his taint for the rest of your life. There are options…”
“What kind of options?” Ginny questioned.
“Memory charms for a start,” Bill said. “The goblins have offered us their most talented mind healer for this part. All of your memories associated with Harry will be stripped of their emotional content in an effort to get rid of the obsession that the Dark Lord’s soul fragment intensified in you. He’s been feeding your little harmless crush and his darkness turned it into something cruel and vicious.”
“What does Harry say?”
“That he loves you like a sister and while he regrets it—that the Healer is probably the best option considering how negative the impact has been on you.”
– – – –
August 8, 1996
Harry eyed the steaming red envelope with building ire. It was the fifth one of the day that had been sent to Draco—the first arriving before they’d even finished breakfast. Most of them had been from strangers—Pure-bloods who were infuriated that he was consorting with a Half-blood. Most of them didn’t even know he’d killed his own father, though Draco had moved the deadline up on that particular headline in the hopes that it would all die down before Hogwarts started.
Draco flicked his wand at it to open the howler and everyone in the room tensed.
DRACO LUCIUS MALFOY! YOU CANCELLED OUR BETROTHAL TO TAKE UP WITH THAT BASTARD HALF-BLOOD! HOW BLOODY DARE YOU, YOU WRETCHED, GOOD FOR NOTHING SON OF A BIT…
Narcissa hit the howler with a reducto curse and calmly put her wand away. “Well, I never liked that snotty little witch anyway. I was put out when Lucius signed that contract.” She turned to Molly. “She has a face like a little pug dog. Can you imagine how my grandchildren would’ve looked?” Both women shuddered.
Harry sighed as yet another owl came through the charmed window. It flew to him and landed on the arm of his chair before offering its leg imperiously. He frowned at the owl but quickly took the letter. He snagged a piece of bread off the tray in front of it and offered it as a treat. The bird took it and flew out the window just as quickly as it had come.
He opened the letter with a sigh; the slight perfume on the paper told him exactly whom it was from.
I hope this letter finds you well and that you are enjoying your summer holiday. I wish I had better news and I’m hesitant to write this letter. I know in the past you’ve been cut off from the wizarding world in the summer and may not be aware of what is being said in the newspapers as a result.
The Times has reported that not only are you an archmagus but that your partner is Draco Malfoy of all people. I know you wouldn’t wish to be associated with him in such a manner so I encourage you to write to the Times and let them know what a horrid mistake they’ve made.
I look forward to seeing you in September and I’m hoping that we can try again as a couple. I wasn’t ready for a new relationship before and… things didn’t turn out so well between us. Perhaps we can go to Hogsmeade together on the first weekend?
Harry sighed when Draco plucked the letter from his hand. “Dragon.”
Malfoy laughed softly. “You know… is it the fame? I mean, I think you’re beautiful but I know you’re rubbish with girls… hell, you were rubbish with me. I had to do all the work on that front.”
Harry grinned and tugged on Draco’s hair. “I remember. Yeah, it’s the fame and the stupid press and all of those ridiculous stories that were made up about me when I was younger.”
“And all of his foolish heroics that are true,” Hermione said from across the room. “What with fighting possessed teachers and slaying giant snakes and outflying dragons and winning the Triwizard Tournament.”
Draco grinned. “Cho thinks I’m horrid.”
“Cho thinks you’re the devil,” Harry corrected. She’d certainly never pulled her punches when they were older. Cho Chang had been an Auror and had lobbied to be Harry’s partner during training. When he’d chosen to train with Draco—she’d been furious. Certainly as furious as Ron had been though she had mellowed over the years.
Another owl came through and it was trembling with fear over the bright red envelope it was being forced to carry. Harry huffed. “You know, it should be illegal to make an owl carry a howler. It’s just cruel.” He snatched the letter from the bird and tossed it in the air and flicked it open with a wiggle of his fingers.
HARRY POTTER! HOW DARE YOU SHAME YOUR PARENTS BY CONSORTING WITH THAT VICIOUS DEATH EATER’S SON! I’LL BE SPEAKING TO DUMBLEDORE ABOUT THIS NONSENSE! YOUR FATHER IS ROLLING OVER IN HIS GRAVE! YOU ARE THE SAVIOR OF THE WIZARDING WORLD AND YOU HAVE AN OBLIGATION–
The howler exploded and Harry was on his feet, his aura flaring.
“Do stop by the bank while you’re out,” Draco murmured as he vanished the ashes of the howler.
Harry’s hands were shaking as he stalked from the sitting room where they’d all gathered for mid-afternoon tea. He went to the floo, grabbed more floo powder than he needed from the basket near the fireplace, stepped inside as he accio’d his cloak wandlessly, and shouted for the Leaky Cauldron as his godfather called out for him to stop.
He was half-way down Diagon Alley before Sirius and Dumbledore caught up with him. But he didn’t even look their way as he stalked toward the Ministry of Magic.
He huffed as Dumbledore and Sirius crowded into the phone booth with him. “Lord Harry James Potter,” He snapped when it asked for his name. “I’m here to give Rufus Scrimgeour a piece of my mind.” A badge popped out – Harry Potter, Living Howler. At any other time it would have made him laugh his ass off. Dumbledore and Sirius both got badges for ‘moral support’.
Finding Scrimgeour’s office was child’s play. Harry didn’t even pretend that he didn’t know exactly where he was going. He was completely fucking fed up. Amelia Bones met them as they exited the lifts and head towards the Auror section of the DMLE.
“Madame Bones,” Harry began through clenched teeth. “I respect you a great deal so I’m going to ask you politely not to get in my way.”
“Right.” Amelia shifted back as they walked so that she was beside Dumbledore. “What is going on?”
Albus winced as they started through a series of cubicles of the current Auror squad. “Rufus sent Harry a rather unfortunate howler.”
“Merlin, that arse has been out of the country for the last two months. I haven’t had a chance to brief him about…”
Potter blew in the door of Scrimgeour’s office, wandlessly, and stalked in. “My father is rolling over in his grave, is he?” He demanded of the older man. “Is that really what you fucking said to me?” He waved a hand when Rufus stood and started to speak. “I’m going to say this once and then it will never be discussed again. You don’t know a damned thing about what James Potter would or would not have tolerated. And you don’t have the right to determine whether or not I’ve shamed my parents with my choices. For the record, my father thought you were a fool and my mother thought you were a mindless Ministry tool with more ambition than sense. They both warned me to make sure that I told you nothing about my gifts until I was mature enough to protect myself for your disgusting and sick ambitions.”
“I trained your father!” Rufus shouted. “I know what kind of man he was! He trusted me!”
“He didn’t trust you tie your own damn shoes,” Harry hissed. “My parents knew what I was the day I was born! They did everything in their power to protect me from men just like you. And if you think either one of them would have expected or asked me to turn my back on my soul mate, then you are bigger fucking idiot than even my father thought.” He pointed a finger at him and his magic flared. “You keep your mouth shut about my parents and Draco Malfoy.”
“Or what, Boy?” Rufus questioned snidely. “You’ll whine about me to the press? You don’t think I believe that nonsense about you being an archmagus, do you?” The man laughed, bitter and low. “It’s just Fudge’s bullshit propaganda.”
Harry’s face shifted, his pupils dilated, and a sleek black forked tongue darted out between his rapidly paling lips. His magical aura flared and magic rolled off him with a low rumble. The windows behind Scrimgeour rattled alarmingly. “You mind your mannersss, Head Auror Ssscrimgeour and make a choice. You are either with me or you’re againssst me. I don’t plan to let any of my true enemiesss sssurvive the coming war.” His tongue flicked out again and the glass in the windows shattered with a gentle, tinkling sound—like tiny bells in a summer breeze.
Harry turned on his heel and stalked from the now silent office without another word.
Albus withdrew his wand and repaired the windows with a few flicks. “Well, that certainly could’ve gone better.”
“Word,” Amelia muttered under her breath.
– – – –
Once back in the alley, Harry went straight to the bank—his aura barely subdued, his anger more on a low simmer than fully cooled. His account manager was heading toward him before he even had the chance to ask someone for him.
“Lord Potter, I’d heard you were in the Alley today.”
Harry snorted. “Sharprock, I need to visit the Potter Family Vault and then, if at all possible, I’d like to speak with Director Ragnok.”
He said nothing else as he was lead down to the bottom of the bank and to the large vault that had been seeded by the dowry bestowed on the youngest daughter of Godric Gryffindor when she’d married a Potter. He touched the vault seal with his magic and then held his hand in place while it pricked the center of his palm to sample his blood. The wound healed itself as he lifted his hand away.
“I’ll just be a few minutes, Sharprock.”
“Director Ragnok is in a meeting but he will be available to you in thirty minutes if you are prepared to wait.”
Harry nodded. “I’m prepared to wait until he has the time for me.”
The vault was large—full of trunks, most of which held shrunken furniture. James Potter had sold most of the family’s ancestral property in Britain and stored the antiques and heirlooms in the vault. Potter Keep had been lost with the death of his grandparents. His father hadn’t been able return to his ancestral home because he’d gone into hiding before claiming the lordship ring of the Potter family.
James had died—having never worn the ring. Harry rubbed the ruby in the ring with his thumb and sighed. It gave him vague impressions of all the men that had worn it before him. It had been a hard moment in the future when he realized his father had never worn the ring.
He retrieved the small trunk first—it was almost glowing with secrecy and notice-me-not charms. He brushed his magic over it and the charms placed by his parents faded away. It wasn’t large on the exterior but it would hold as much as a standard Muggle filing cabinet. The index was carved on the underside of the lid and automatically updated when new items were added to it.
Harry went to a library chest and called forth a few books that he’d read in the future and four family journals. He placed them all in the paper archive trunk and then shrunk it before tucking it into a small pocket in his cloak.
When he returned from the vault, Dumbledore, his godfather and Tonks were waiting for him. He raised one eyebrow at her. “Why are you here?”
She flushed. “Madame Bones wanted me to act as your… protection until you return home.”
Harry raised an eyebrow. “Protection.”
“Appearances are important to Minister Fudge,” Tonks said by way of explanation.
Sharprock cleared his throat. “Lord Potter, Director Ragnok and the board will see you now.” He paused as he assessed the wizards and witch with Harry. “Your escorts may come as well but they are not given leave to speak to the director without permission.”
“I’m sure they understand,” Harry said smoothly.
They were led into a large room several floors beneath the surface. Ragnok was ensconced in a large chair at the head of the table with ten goblins flanking him—each presenting a clan within the Goblin Horde. Harry took the seat that had been left for him directly opposite Ragnok and watched Dumbledore, Sirius, and Tonks arrange themselves behind him along the wall.
An elf appeared with a tea tray, Harry took his time preparing his cup—waiting for Ragnok to speak. It was one lesson he’d learned late in the previous timeline – speaking without permission in front of the being that was essentially the sovereign of every goblin on Earth was a stupid thing to do. It had caused a very different and disrespectful relationship between himself and the Horde.
“We apologize for your wait, Lord Potter.”
Harry stirred his tea casually and inclined his head. “There is no need, Director Ragnok, you are a busy individual and I had no appointment. I have several matters to discuss with you today but if you have other responsibilities—please do not hesitate to speak of them. I wouldn’t wish to interfere in the profits of the day.”
“We are at your disposal, Lord Potter.”
Harry nodded and plucked a biscuit from the tray. “I’m going to offer you something today, Director, that has not been formally offered to the Goblin Horde since the time of Godric Gryffindor.”
“Godric Gryffindor was a great wizard,” Ragnok allowed. “My ancestors spoke highly of him. He brokered the first accord with Chieftain Riptorn.”
“And here we sit, you and I,” Harry murmured. “Some generations removed—the grandsons of such good and great magical beings as Godric Gryffindor and Chieftain Riptorn son of Ragnorock. Some might say it is a matter of destiny.”
The restlessness in the room grew briefly but the goblins settled down with one sharp glance from Ragnok. “You are already a wizard with a rich destiny ahead of him.”
“So your seers must tell you,” Harry said by way of agreement. “I hesitate to even ask what they might say considering what one seer has already done to me. Fate is a cruel mistress, Director Ragnok. I wish you free of her whims your entire long life.” He sipped his tea and watched Ragnok prepare himself another cup. “Tom Riddle—the Dark Lord—has approached the Goblin Horde. I’m sure he promised you all matter of things.”
“He has made overtures,” Ragnok allowed. “He is a fool to think we’d fall for the lies of a blood purist. They are not known for their tolerance of magical creatures after all.”
“You needn’t worry that he’ll attack you directly,” Harry said as he sat back in his chair. “He doesn’t have the physical resources to accomplish such an attack and if today goes as I would prefer it—I’d raze the entire Alley before allowing him to set up dominion over the sovereign Goblin nation.”
“What do you offer us, Lord Potter?”
“It has been seven hundred years since Gringotts had a wizard Patron,” Harry said. “I would offer myself up for such a role—would vow to protect the interests of the Goblin Horde as long as they did not conflict with the interests of the Light.”
The silence was deafening. Dumbledore had exhaled sharply as he finished speaking but hadn’t dared outright speak.
“And in return for this boon you offer us?”
“I would prefer that the Goblin Horde side with the Light in the upcoming war but I will settle for your neutrality. Don’t help them. Don’t help us. When I’ve finished killing Tom Riddle and his followers—I will lobby on your people’s behalf on an international level.”
“Our neutrality is practically a given,” one of the clan leaders murmured. “You wish more.”
“I offer you my allegiance—it comes at no small price,” Harry agreed. “My archmagus partner will stand with me his whole life—I’m pledging his word as well.”
“What do you want?” Ragnok questioned shrewdly. “We are prepared to side with the Light if we can be assured consideration regarding the revoking of certain laws governing magical creatures.”
“I would certainly work my arse off to end bigotry both here in Britain and internationally,” Harry admitted. “I consider it a responsibility of an archmagus. In return for the Patronage of the House of Potter—I would request that you vow on behalf of your entire nation that you will never support a Dark Lord—not the current one, and not one born a hundred years or a thousand years from now. I’ll want this vow on your collective magic.”
“The House of Potter.” Ragnok’s gaze widened.
“Myself, my sons, my grandsons and all the men that come after them,” Harry confirmed. “The House of Potter will align itself with the Goblin Horde for as long as both exist. You needn’t be concerned that I will die without issue. My precognitive abilities are burgeoning but I dream of my sons—sometimes as often as three times a week. My partner and I will not suffer for heirs in the future. Our sons will be strong and fierce warriors for the Light.”
Ragnok set aside his tea. “I offer myself as the godfather of your first born.”
“I accept,” Harry said simply. “I offer myself as godfather to the last of your sons to be born. He will enter the world as the new year begins, I believe.”
“My last son,” Ragnok repeated with a frown.
Harry offered him a sly grin. “Yes, I’m afraid your third wife will gift you with only daughters for many years to come. You’ll forever be outnumbered in your own cave, Director.”
Ragnok laughed and saluted Harry with his tea. “I accept! May my son be as loyal and magical as the wizard who will stand as his godfather.”
The energy in the room changed dramatically at that. Harry drew both of his wands and placed them on them table in front of him. He stood and shed his cloak, then pulled dueling short swords out of thin air, which he placed on the table as well. Ragnok stood, shed a lethal dagger, a broadsword, and two dueling blades similar to Harry’s. He paused briefly, held out his hand a staff appeared in it. He placed it on the table in front of him.
“I have one more weapon at my disposal,” Harry admitted. “It may be a surprise to you.”
Ragnok inclined his head. “I think not, Lord Potter, you are after all his heir.”
Harry held out his hand and magical cracked like lightening along his fingertips before the sword of Godric Gryffindor slapped into his palm with a small sound reminiscent of apparition. Dark blue light crackled along the edge of the blade before it quieted—as if tamed by Harry himself. He placed the sword on the table without speaking—the stone table shook briefly as it struggled to nullify the magic of the weapon.
Ragnok stared at the sword and then met Harry’s gaze with a lift of one eyebrow. “I haven’t been this naked in public in years.”
Harry grinned. “You haven’t really been truly defenseless until a bunch of idiots throw you in arena with a nesting dragon and only allow you a single ridiculous wand.”
Ragnok snorted. “Indeed.” He paused. “What of your partner?”
“Lord Malfoy and I are in agreement. I would never act on behalf of us both and our children without his consent. I try not to make war within the confines of my own bonding bed, sir. It’s just not smart to provoke a dragon.”
Ragnok laughed and several goblins snorted right along with him. “You are a wise man for your young years, Lord Potter. A wise man indeed.” He sat down and motioned to the goblin closest to him on the left. “Cliffclimber will be our scribe.”
Harry said nothing as parchment and ink was brought to the table. He regained his seat only after Cliffclimber started to write out their accord.
“You said you had several matters,” Ragnok prodded. “I assume you spoke the most important first.”
“I hesitate to disagree with you,” Harry said softly. “But I must—while I believe the accord between my house and your nation will be invaluable to us both I have another far more grave matter before me that must be addressed.”
“Very well.” Ragnok sat back, clearly shocked.
“The night Tom Riddle murdered my parents—he made war on my House. He killed the Heir Regent of the House of Potter and left me orphaned, bereft of my entire immediate family outside of two Muggles and their own infant son.”
Ragnok nodded. “We are aware.”
“When he resurrected himself—he used my blood and as such committed a gross act of line theft upon my person. He besmirched the honor of my bloodline and his continued existence taints the well of my familial magic. I submit that Tom Riddle died October 31, 1981 when he attempted to murder me. As he was killed in the backlash of my magic—I conquered the last remaining Heir of Salazar Slytherin.”
“You want to claim…” Ragnok trailed off, clearly shocked. “What of the creature that now lives, is he not Tom Riddle?”
“He is Voldemort by his own declaration—his body is a corrupt magical construct and as he does not possess his entire soul—he can no longer place any sort of magical claim to the familial magic to Salazar Slytherin. It’s my understanding that the vault of Salazar Slytherin hasn’t been breached since the 1960s.”
“Tom Riddle visited the vault but he was… violently rejected by the familial magic of his ancestor. We were not given a reason.”
“He made a horcrux while he was still a student at Hogwarts,” Harry said shortly. “I destroyed that horcrux during my second year when one of his followers attempted to use it to bring back the Dark Lord.”
“If he’d already rendered his soul in half…” Ragnok nodded abruptly. “Yes, of course, that would’ve been enough to deny him any access to the familial magic of Salazar Slytherin. As dark as he was rumored to be—to create a horcrux is a singular path to madness. Redemption is impossible. There is no darker magic.”
“Through magical conquest, I further claim the vaults of all of his convicted followers.”
Ragnok smirked. “You realize the Ministry has tried for many years to gain control of those vaults.”
“The accord with the Goblin Horde does not recognize the right of a government to seize the funds of convicts if they have heirs who are not similarly jailed. It’s my understanding that many Death Eaters sent their children out of the country following the disappearance of their Dark Lord.” Harry allowed. “I will settle for the vaults of any convicted Death Eaters who entered prison without an heir.”
“The Lestranges.” Ragnok inclined his head. “What would you want with their vault?”
“I want the family vault and the dowry vault of Bellatrix. I also want the contents of any vault that has Tom Riddle’s name on it… all of the money is to be transferred into a new vault. I will send a team of people to go through the rest of the… artifacts before the year is out. I encourage you to confiscate any goblin made weapons you might find in these vaults as your fee for seeing to the consolidation.” He paused. “Any other goblin made items might be subject to purchase for a reasonable price to the maker or the descendent of the original maker of the item.”
Ragnok inclined his head. “Many would’ve given us the whole lot to insure our further cooperation.”
“If you desire a wizard to kiss your arse, Director Ragnok, I’m sure we can find one willing to do it for the right amount of gold,” Harry returned dryly and wandlessly banished the cold tea from his cup before reaching out for the pot to pour fresh tea into his cup. “You bribe two sorts of people—those who are weaker and can be controlled through material things and those who are stronger who can be controlled by their greed. If we are truly to accept each other as equals—bribery has no place in our dealings.”
“We are in agreement.”
“I have one more small matter,” Harry began. “It’s of little consequence in comparison so if you’d prefer I can save it for my next meeting with Sharprock.”
“We are all here,” Ragnok said dryly.
“There is a tomb in Egypt—undisturbed by magical kind and Muggle alike. I have had several visions of it. Since there was once a very powerful archmagus pair in Egypt—I believe that my magic is telling me that there is something in that tomb that belongs to my partner and I. We could easily hire a team of wizards to explore and excavate the tomb for us but I believe goblins are better suited for such endeavors.”
“A joint venture then?” Ragnok questioned.
“I will fund the expedition entirely if you will supply the people. All materials related to Parselmagic and archmagus matters are mine without discussion. The rest we will split evenly.”
“We will want all goblin made artifacts.”
“Weapons only,” Harry returned. “The rest we split evenly.”
“Done.” Ragnok offered him a grin. “Do you have a definite location?”
“I will explore my visions and research the matter with Lord Malfoy. He will forward you any and all information we can gather about the two men, where they died, and where they might be buried. His mother is a direct descendant and might have more information than she’s even aware of on the matter. I would request that this task be treated with the utmost secrecy – Voldemort is a Parselmouth himself. You’d not want to call attention to your expedition. He might seek the tomb himself or send Death Eaters after our people.”
Cliffclimber cleared his throat. “The accord is ready. I’ve used much of the wording of the original accord between our nation and Godric Gryffindor but with the stipulations you’ve both agreed to.”
Ragnok glanced at the document. “Do you wish to have anyone review the accord before you sign, Lord Potter?”
Harry grinned. “I think the Headmaster might like to see it.” That Dumbledore didn’t dart forward immediately wasn’t much of a surprise. The man had certainly lived long enough to develop some dignity.
“May I ask a question?” Dumbledore began as a chair was produced for him. He sat down and held the document he’d been given under one hand.
“Of course.” Ragnok waved a hand and a fresh tea tray appeared before Albus.
“What are the duties of the Patron of the Goblin Horde and why hasn’t there been one in seven hundred years?”
Ragnok paused and steepled his fingers together as he considered his answer. “The Patron of the Goblin Horde is both a fiduciary and ceremonial position that has been filled exactly four times since its inception. Godric Gryffindor was the first. His great grandson, John Potter was the second. The third Patron was also a Potter—five generations removed from Godric Gryffindor and his name was Hadrian Potter. The fourth Patron was a wizard by the name of Faulkner Gaunt. He held that role for ten years before he was found to be an oath breaker. To appease the Horde, Gaunt’s oldest son killed his father and brought his body to us in an effort to prevent us from taking out our displeasure on his entire family. The Gaunt family grew stagnant and soon began producing squibs. Faulkner’s betrayal eventually ended the magic in his line.”
Harry grimaced. “Tom Riddle is the son of Merope Gaunt and a Muggle she tricked into marriage with a love potion. The Gaunts were the last magical descendants of Salazar Slytherin until Merope died birthing a son in an orphanage.”
Ragnok nodded, accepting Harry’s words as truth before continuing. “After the betrayal of Faulkner Gaunt, the Horde refused to accept another Patron—even when another Potter stepped forward. This, of course, eventually led us to down a path of war again and again—without a Patron to guard our rights within the wizarding world…”
“And Lord Potter’s responsibilities?”
“To speak on behalf of the Goblin Horde when it is asked of him. To use his political and economic power to protect our rights to the best of his ability. To defend us magically in the event we are threatened by an outside, dark force. Should we act in bad faith, violate our oaths to him, or in this particular case, actively aid a dark lord in the subjugation of the wizarding world—we would lose our patron and our magic. We take our oaths very seriously.”
“You won’t ask him to hunt down debtors or kill for you?” Dumbledore questioned.
“Of course not, we hire hit wizards for that,” Ragnok scoffed. “It would be an insult to waste his time with such trivial things, Dumbledore. Additionally, we certainly wouldn’t want to taint his reputation with unsavory activities. It would lower his political worth.”
The horrible part was that Ragnok totally meant that. Harry looked at his godfather and found Sirius studying a sixteenth century framed map on the wall. It was magical and seemed to shift—Harry figured it was demonstrating territorial shifts during a war or something. “Sirius?”
Black turned and looked at him. “I have a few questions but they are best made in private at home.”
Had he figured it out? Harry couldn’t be sure but he wasn’t exactly worried. Sirius was by far the person he trusted most outside of Draco. He knew his godfather was on his side and if he found out the entire truth—he would be an even bigger ally in the future Harry wanted to build for himself and his family. “Okay.”
Harry turned and accepted the document as Dumbledore passed it to him. He glanced at his weapons, still spread out on the table in front of him. Stripping oneself of weapons and presenting yourself as defenseless before an alliance was old school magical politics. It’s the kind of thing a Pure-blood would be taught but someone like him wouldn’t know unless he sought the information out. He could claim easily that Draco had prepared him in advance for this meeting. They’d certainly discussed how to get the cup and how to ingratiate the Goblin Horde to him at length over the past few days.
“This is a blood quill, Lord Potter.” Cliffclimber placed the instrument on the table in front of him. “It uses your blood as ink. It is the way all magical contracts in the Horde are signed.”
“I’m familiar with it,” Harry said shortly his gaze dropping to his scarred hand at the same time Cliffclimber’s did.
The goblin hissed and reached out and grabbed his hand. “How did you come to have these scars?”
Harry was shocked. “Dolores Umbridge had several blood quills. She used them to discipline students at Hogwarts by forcing us to write lines with them. It’s my understanding she is facing child endangerment charges with the DMLE.”
Cliffclimber touched the scars with one finger and frowned. “Ragnok, have you seen this?”
“I was aware of the scarring but not how it was caused,” Ragnok said. “I will draft a complaint and address the matter with Fudge. How many children… were tortured by this woman Lord Potter?”
“At least twenty,” Harry admitted and glanced towards Dumbledore who was pale and hard-eyed. “Most if it took place after the Headmaster was driven from the school. She had free reign then and the power went to her head.” He pulled his hand gently from Cliffclimber’s grasp. “I’m surprised by your concern, to be honest.”
“The blood quill is an instrument of goblin magic,” Ragnok said shortly. “To have this woman use one to torture children is beyond the pale, Lord Potter, and it is a violation of the treaty with Goblin Horde to have one of our tools defaced and misused in such a fashion by a Ministry employee. We will have words concerning her punishment and her reparations to her victims. Her family vaults will be frozen and assessed for payment.”
Harry nodded. “I believe I am the only who was permanently scarred by the tool.” He picked up the blood quill and without hesitating scrawled his name at the bottom of the accord. Then he touched the document with his magic until blue light swept over it and was absorbed. He lifted his hand away. “You should wait a few minutes before touching the document with your own magic—to avoid backlash. I find that my magic is feral in the wake of my maturation.”
Ragnok summoned the document with a flick of his fingers and the quill sailed into his hand shortly thereafter. “You are a wild mage—the dominant in your archmagus pairing. The Horde is honored to extend to you and Lord Malfoy both an opportunity to study goblin battle magic.”
Harry stilled and out of the corner of his eye he watched Dumbledore’s mouth drop open dramatically in shock. “Wizards have not been taught goblin magic in over a thousand years.”
“You are our Patron, Lord Potter. It would be unseemly to allow you to go into battle without all the skills we can offer you. What we offer you; we must offer your partner – out of respect.” Ragnok paused. “We realize that your time is at a premium and that you will be offered training over a wide variety of subjects and magics. We have a training facility held within in a time rune. It is possible to send only five warriors into the facility each year. We would offer you and Lord Malfoy this opportunity on July 2nd of next year.”
“How much real time would we sacrifice?”
“Twenty-four hours for two years of training,” Ragnok explained. “One month for each hour in real time. The training will be intense and before you leave you will be required to take an oath to never reveal the lessons you were taught to anyone else.”
“I will discuss the matter with Lord Malfoy and we will respond within the week concerning the opportunity. In the meantime, though I’m loathe to offer you instructions, you might consider discussing the impact of having two matured archmagus in your training chamber with your rune master. The protections may need reworking.” He raised an eyebrow when Ragnok started to scoff. “We both register over 1000 on the Myrddin scale, Director. We’d hate to break your rune master’s heart.”
Ragnok eyed him thoughtfully and signed the accord. The document glowed with his magic and then duplicated itself until everyone at the table, including Dumbledore, had a copy. “We will file another copy with the Ministry for their own records.”
“You confuse me, Lord Potter.”
“I’m going to confuse a lot of people before everything is said and done,” Harry predicted. “I dream, Ragnok, nearly every minute I’m asleep of unspeakable atrocities, death, torture, and the kind of war the world has never seen. One path we take separately—fighting amongst ourselves and none of us will survive it. The second path we take together—and we will prevail over the darkness that would seek to control and subjugate us all.”
“You mean to save us all from the Dark Lord then,” Ragnok said dryly—his gaze shrewd and accessing.
Harry stood and calmly began to rearm himself. He picked up Gryffindor’s sword last, his magic danced along the blade as it was freed from the restraint placed on it by the table. “I mean to save you all from yourselves.” He glanced over the sword and sighed. “Gryffindor must have been a giant to carry this thing around all the time.”
“I do believe he was quite tall,” Ragnok said diplomatically. “Perhaps we can assist you? Bareknuckle, supply Lord Potter with an appropriate scabbard for his sword.”
Harry turned towards the goblin that Ragnok had addressed. “Fight a lot as a kid, did you?”
“I won a lot as a child,” Bareknuckle responded with a toothy grin. “I still do.”
“I used this sword to kill a basilisk, Barenuckle. The venom and blood of the creature is imbued in the blade. The scabbard would have to be immune to both or it would fall to pieces in a matter of hours.”
“It would also be best if it had a dimensional space component as it is quite a bit longer than a man of your current stature should carry,” Barenuckle said diplomatically.
“I have found that the sword is as long or as short as I need it at any given moment,” Harry admitted. “But agree about the additional charm.”
– – – –
Harry all but strolled out of the ‘floo and started out of the kitchen towards the stairs. The stupefied silence of his entourage was starting to grate on his nerves.
“Hold it,” Sirius snatched his arm and prodded him into an empty chair at the nearly full kitchen table. “We… Albus?”
Dumbledore cleared his throat noisily. “Yes, obviously, we should have a meeting with you and Lord Malfoy about your plans and what else might be brewing considering what you’ve done today.”
Harry huffed. “Dobby!”
His house elf appeared immediately, bouncing with excitement to be called. “How can Dobby help his Master Harry Potter?”
“I want tea, my Dragon, the journal off my desk, and a pain potion. I have a terrible headache.”
Dobby popped away without a word. Four minutes later, Draco strolled into the kitchen with Harry’s grimoire and a pain potion. He stared at his bond his mate with a long, hard look. “I rate after tea, Lord Potter?”
“I conscripted the Goblin Horde into serving the Light, Lord Malfoy, I deserve some bloody tea.”
“So you do,” Draco said graciously. “I sent Dobby to France to get your favorite blend. He’ll return shortly with it. How much goblin tea did you have stomach?”
“I kept vanishing it wandlessly, I’m not sure if he bought it but he didn’t call me on it. You were right—it’s completely disgusting. It might as well be dishwater.” He pulled out a scroll and passed it to Draco. “Our copy of the accord. Also,” he began and then paused. “You were right – he offered to be the godfather of our first born son.”
“Expected,” Draco murmured as he sat down at the table and smoothed out the parchment. “We should name him immediately to avoid Ragnok’s suggestions regarding a name. In fact, we should name him now. He’ll be a Potter as you’re the senior line.”
“I was thinking Hadrian Orion Potter-Malfoy, it has symmetry as he’ll be the next Patron in the Potter line.” Harry ignored the looks they were receiving from half the Order and offered Dobby a relieved smile when the elf returned with a small brown bag. “You found it?”
“Dobby was a success!” Dobby proclaimed. “The lady tells me how to make it perfect.”
“Great.” Harry frowned as a sandwich was slapped down in front of him. He looked up and found Molly Weasley staring at him pointedly. “Mrs. Weasley.”
“You haven’t eaten all day, young man.” She slapped a similar plate down by Draco. “The two of you keep plotting away without stopping to eat. You’ll waste away to nothing and then how will anyone take you seriously?” She left the table and started pestering Dobby for instructions on the tea he’d bought in France.
Draco picked up half a sandwich without even looking up from his reading and hummed thoughtfully at one passage. He took a bite of his sandwich and then did a double take at it. Turning to Harry, he sighed then demanded, “How does she do that? It’s like the most amazing sandwich ever.”
“It’s Mum magic,” Ron said from across the table, a plate full of sandwiches in front of him. “There is no dissecting it, Draco.” He pulled his plate closer when Draco eyed it. “You have your own.”
“You have more,” Draco pointed out.
“She loves me.”
“He’s a glutton,” Harry said blithely. “You don’t need a whole plate of sandwiches.”
Draco huffed and then outright glared at Harry. “Are implying something about my weight, Harry?”
“No, Merlin, of course not—did you get castrated while I was gone?” Harry demanded and flushed when several women in the room glared at him. “Seriously? What bloke worries about his weight?”
Hermione glared at him. “You should—you look like a refugee from a third world country. You need to eat more.”
He wanted to tell her he was just a refugee from Privet Drive but that would upset the hell out of her and it wasn’t particularly fair. He hadn’t had to depend on his aunt for food in over a year. Besides he was far too old, mentally, to allow himself to actively resent his foolish aunt and her bully of a husband. He’d let go of that many years ago.
“This is good,” Draco murmured as he pulled out his own journal and jotted down a few notes with a Muggle ink pen. “You did offer to return the favor on the godfather front, right?”
“As you instructed,” Harry assured. “You were right about the introduction of my precognitive abilities—it was the right way to do it.”
“They are greedy bastards but they aren’t going to misuse their Patron the way they might another wizard seer they could put under their thumb. Goblin seers are very different from wizards and witches—they don’t see as clearly or even in the same way. They also rarely predict events that pertain to wizards. When they do—they are huge, history making events.” Draco wrote some more in his journal and then closed the book. “It’s not a secret you could’ve kept long term anyway—best to control how it was revealed to them rather than them find out later and feel that you kept a secret from them.”
“What exactly do you think you accomplished today?” Sirius questioned. “What does this title and position do for the war effort?”
“The next time a Death Eater attacks me—by intent or just attempts to lay siege to my location he will court war with the entire Goblin Horde,” Harry began. “I asked for their neutrality, formally even though both Director Ragnok and I know that neutrality will last as long as the first major battle. I’m their Patron. It puts me equal with Ragnok himself.”
“Ragnok is essentially a king,” Sirius said bluntly. “They’ll honor you on that level?”
“They offered Draco and I training in goblin battle magic,” Harry reminded.
Draco sprayed tea out in shock and choked. “What? What the fuck did you just say?”
“Language, young man!” Molly said and used her wand to clean up his mess. “Your mother raised you better.”
“Harry.” Draco stared at him in shock. “Goblin battle magic. Are you serious?”
“Two years in their time dilation rune chamber thing,” Harry explained.
“Merlin.” Draco sat back in his chair and then shivered a little. “I don’t think I’ve heard anything that fantastic and awesome… well since you stumbled your way through that utterly ridiculous speech about our mutual feelings.”
Harry grinned. “I don’t have feelings, Draco. We discussed this.”
“Right, you’re just inclined to spend your eternity with me. I remember,” Draco nodded sagely.
“Fortunately you’re so inclined as well,” Harry said amused and picked up the scroll. “But what we really did today, Sirius, was make sure that the goblins will not aid Voldemort. That is a boon in the war that is coming. The first time a Death Eater steps out of line in the bank—they’ll start freezing accounts of known associates and beheading anyone with the Dark Mark they come across.”
“Yeah, goblins don’t mess about when it comes to taking care of their mortal enemies.” Draco reached over and snatched a sandwich off Ron’s plate and shook his head sadly at the red head when he glared. “Sharing is caring, Ron. I’m sure your mother taught you that.”
Harry let his head drop into his hand. “Merlin, Draco.”
“Did you give Rufus a piece of your mind?” Draco asked after he daintily nibbled on the edge of his purloined sandwich and swallowed.
“I certainly made an effort.” Harry accepted the tea that Dobby planted in front of him with a small contented hum. “This smells amazing, Dobby. Thank you so much for getting it for me.”
“My Harry Potter thirsty from telling off stupid wizards,” Dobby said with a firm nod. “I makes more.”
Harry reached into his robe pocket and placed his badge from the Ministry down in front of Draco. They’d made a habit of collecting them in the future.
Draco snorted. “Living Howler? That’s fantastic.”
“Remind me later and I’ll pull out the other one I have—it says ‘rescue mission’ on it.”
“It should have said – Kicking the Dark Lord’s Arse,” Ron offered from across the table and flinched when his mother poked him with her wand. “Well, he did. He totally did!”
“Word,” Dumbledore said and just smiled sweetly when Draco turned to stare at him in shock.
August 9, 1996
Harry watched Sirius pace back and forth across the office space he’d been sharing with Draco. His godfather had been moody and silent since the bank visit the day before. When Black had finally broken and demanded to speak to Harry in private—he’d agreed without question.
Sirius turned and stared at him. “I… my magic tells me that you’re Harry. That you’re my godson.”
Harry raised an eyebrow. “But?”
“But you aren’t the same,” Sirius snapped. “I thought… well, I thought at first it was because you had gone through a maturation. It was too soon for your maturation but you’ve always done the unexpected. You walked and talked five months before any of the Healers said you should. Your Dad was so proud of you.”
Harry smiled at that but grew serious when his godfather threw himself into a chair and didn’t look towards him. “Just… say it, Sirius. I promise I won’t lie to you.”
“I never thought you’d outright lie to me if you had a choice,” Sirius murmured. “I hear the things you say to other people—things that don’t make sense to me because James told me everything, Harry. He kept nothing from me and never once did he mention that he thought you were an archmagus.”
Harry raised an eyebrow. “Okay.”
“Your magic… when I met you in your third year it was blooming inside you.” Sirius sighed. “It was always there – even when you were very young. I saw it.”
“My parents vowed between them—vowed on their own lives to never reveal what I was to anyone but me,” Harry said. He stood and went to the large chest he and Draco had appropriated for their work. He pulled out the small trunk he’d taken from the Potter vault. “There is a letter for you in this trunk from my Dad. I haven’t read it but I assume it will explain why they didn’t tell you.”
Sirius stared at the trunk, his jaw tightening. “How old are you, really, Harry?”
Harry blinked in surprise. “What?”
“You shouldn’t have been able to locate that trunk in your vault until after your bloody eighteenth birthday!”
Harry drew his wand quickly and cast a privacy ward on the door. Then another just for the hell of it. “Sirius, please, calm down.”
Black bolted out of his chair and stalked across the office. He grabbed Harry’s arm and dragged him to the desk where he shoved the trunk onto the surface. “Tell me! Tell me what was done to you! Did Malfoy do something?”
Harry gaped at him briefly and sighed when Sirius shook him a little. “Actually, Neville Bloody Longbottom did something to us both.”
“Neville?” Sirius frowned. “Did he curse you?”
“Yeah,” Harry said dryly. “Then he put us on an altar where he completed a time travel ritual by cutting his own throat which tore our souls out of our bodies and threw them back in time. I landed in my body just as we were entering the Department of Mysteries.”
“You’re fucking with me,” Sirius hissed.
“I would never fuck with you, Sirius,” Harry said seriously. “You’re like a father to me and that’s gross.”
Sirius grinned briefly and released his arms with a sigh. “Seriously?”
“So bloody serious,” Harry admitted. “It’s really bloody embarrassing. Who’d make up something like that? We had been Aurors for nearly ten years. Draco and I have been working our asses off since we came back to shift the balance of power—to save lives and change as much of the war as we can.”
“It was bad?” Sirius asked quietly.
“It was wretched,” Harry whispered. “Practically everyone in the Order died, including Dumbledore. Lucius forced Draco to take the Dark Mark but he didn’t know his son was already a spy for the Unspeakables. Near the end of what would’ve been my seventh year, Voldemort tried to take Hogwarts. The Death Eaters killed indiscriminately—many of the children fourth year and up were killed or maimed for life. The war had spread far beyond Europe by that point. Even killing Voldemort didn’t end the Pure-blood movement. It took another eighteen months before the fighting stopped on a large scale. But the damage was done. By the time I was thirty, nearly every civilized wizarding country had admitted that as a population we were dying out. Magic was no longer viable long term.”
“Merlin,” Sirius stumbled away and dropped down on a small sofa that was tucked between two bookcases. “I…”
“I’m going to need a vow from you, Sirius. No one else can know.”
Sirius nodded numbly. “I haven’t… I haven’t discussed my concerns with anyone. I couldn’t risk it not with the way the twins spy on everyone and Ginny and well, Remus and I have a long way to go before I can truly trust him again.” He pulled his wand and cleared his throat. “I, Lord Sirius Orion Black of the Noble and Ancient House of Black do solemnly swear on my life and magic to guard the secrets of Lord Harry James Potter and his archmagus partner sacred until which time he gives me leave to discuss them with other parties. So mote it be.”
Harry relaxed and opened the trunk. He pulled out the letter that had Sirius name on it and handed it over. “I’m sure that Dad explained everything in here about why he didn’t tell you.”
Sirius nodded and after a few seconds folded the letter and tucked it into his pocket. “Tell me… tell must just whatever you think I should know.”
“I originally matured ten months after the war ended. I was in my first month at the Auror Academy. Malfoy had gone on trial for war crimes and his spying for the Department of Mysteries was revealed. The Ministry eventually slotted him into the academy to save face and probably also to stick it to the DOM because they were pissed his spying was a secret from them.”
“Politicians,” Sirius muttered.
“Exactly. At any rate, about three weeks after I matured I was approached by the Head of the DMLE and told that I was one of two archmagus. The legends were iffy and sketchy at best but there was a bit of literature for me to read on the subject. I knew whoever it was—this person was going to be very complimentary to my magic.”
“And when you found out it was Malfoy?”
Harry sighed. “I wasn’t thrilled as you might imagine. I knew he was a war hero but he’d also been an utter prick to me through most of school. Still, the academy wanted to pair us up for training. I agreed and Ron, well, he was furious with me for it. Our friendship never really recovered. Eventually, when they all realized I was serious about my partnership with Malfoy and that I wasn’t going to marry Ginny—the whole family except for George and Arthur pretty much stopped speaking to me. Hermione left Britain to further her education in the US and frankly that friendship didn’t survive either. Malfoy and I were partners for a while before we became lovers.”
“And your soul mate bond?”
Harry flushed. “We pledged an eternal marriage bond to each other shortly before Neville completed the ritual. Neither of us had ever bothered to look in the Book of Souls in the previous time line so we don’t know if we were there before. When we arrived back here, our marriage bond was manifested as a fated soul bond.”
“That’s horrific,” Sirius admitted. He sighed. “This ritual isn’t going to work, is it? Neither of you are virgins.”
“We are physically,” Harry said. “Draco thinks physical purity will be enough for the ritual. If it’s not, we’ve already laid the ground work with Dumbledore so he shouldn’t get too suspicious.”
“Why not confide in him?”
“He’d probably try to memory charm us both for the greater good,” Harry said snidely. “And that would not go well for anyone involved.”
“Right.” Sirius slouched down on the couch. “This is crazy. What made Longbottom do it?”
“He was crazy,” Harry corrected. “In the original timeline he was exposed to those stupid brain things in the DOM the night Voldemort lured me there by pretending to hold you hostage. They corrupted him on a level that defies imagination. They sort of drove Ron crazy too now that I think about it.”
Sirius scowled at him. “Why did you go the DOM? You knew it was a trap!”
“Neville messed up the timing. You know that part in the memory where I stumbled?” Harry paused when Sirius nodded. “Right, that was adult me dropping in my fifteen year old body. I wanted to curse the shit out of Longbottom on the spot.”
Sirius snorted. “That would’ve certainly raised some questions.”
“I still want to curse the shit out of him,” Harry admitted. “The thing is that I’m a selfish prat, Sirius. I didn’t want to come back. I didn’t want to live it all over again. The war was… horrific. I have nightmares every night about it now. I liked the life I had. Draco and I had a great flat and we were doing well for ourselves in the Auror Department. Sometimes we had international assignments and we were talking about having a kid or two.”
Sirius grimaced. “Sorry, pup.”
“Well, one good thing about this is that I’ve managed to keep you from getting yourself killed!” Harry snapped. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “In the original time line you fell through the Veil. Bellatrix cursed you and you fell. It was a fucked up thing to do Sirius. I can’t ask you not to die because life is a one way trip to death’s door but I would beg of you not to get yourself killed being a idiot.”
“Bellatrix killed me?” Sirius frowned. “She’s batshit and I’m the Lord of her House—she can’t just kill me! She doesn’t have the right to challenge the Lord of the House of Black! It’s in our family oaths.”
“She stunned you,” Harry said and smirked when Sirius glared at him. “Yeah, and then you tumbled arse over tits through the Veil. It was really undignified. You probably shamed ten generations of your ancestors with that performance.”
Sirius huffed and glared briefly at Harry before grinning. “I don’t like any of my ancestors anyway!”
“Your family tree is positively full of asshats,” Harry acknowledged.
– – – –
August 22, 1996
Harry dipped the platinum tipped quill in the runic potion that Draco had prepared. “I’m actually rather pleased to have a go at this particular task.” Of the five rune sets that Draco had eventually had etched permanently into his skin, Harry had only placed two of them in the future timeline. Now he had the chance to do them all.
Draco rested his forehead on his folded arms and relaxed when Harry cast another strong warming charm. The cauldron bubbled pleasantly beside them, a stasis charm keeping it perfect for the magic they’d chosen to do leading up to the ritual at Hogwarts. They were two days away from their portkey trip to Hogwarts. They’d moved the date of the ritual due to security, politics and the availability of some of the members of the elder conclave. Harry was rather relieved.
“Just follow my plan exactly.”
“Of course,” Harry murmured. He ran his index finger down the curve of Draco’s spine to the small of his back. “Here for the first rune set?”
“Yes, just there,” Draco said thickly. “Use the same amount of magic you’d normally use to activate the rune…”
“Right.” Harry let the tip of the quill glide gently over Draco’s skin. The platinum quill was designed for placing runes under the skin—facilitating and directing the pull of his magic as he drew the runes that would make anal sex easier for them in the future. A little magic pumped into the rune from either one of them would gently relax Draco’s muscles and activate a self-lubrication charm they had embedded in the rune set. He’d had the rune in the future but it had been done by someone other than his partner and it had never worked just right for Harry. This rune, however, would work perfectly.
Harry lifted away slightly as the door to their bedroom swung open without even a knock and he glanced up as Snape and his godfather entered. “You might not agree but we are entitled to some privacy.”
Snape glared at him. “What are you doing? Did you brew that potion, Potter?”
“Draco brewed the potion and I would think it would be obvious what I’m doing.” He dipped the quill again, gathering potion to add the second of five runic sets that Draco had drawn out for him. He copied the drawing perfectly and it started to glow gently with his magic.
Snape snatched the parchment off the floor and glared at it. “I see you’re proving to be just as selfish as I assumed.”
Harry glared at him. “Draco picked out those runes, and drew them in the order in which he wanted to receive them.” He pulled the parchment out of Snape’s now limp fingers. “Lay off, Snape, if you’d bothered to ask you’d know I already have all of these runes. Draco did my sets first. We’ve been up here for an hour working on this project.” He carefully drew the complex health charm that would keep them both free of infections inherent to anal intercourse.
“What are the runes?” Sirius asked.
“Anal preparation, self-lubricating charm, healing, a complex health charm focused on preventing bacterial infections, and…” He trailed off and flushed.
Draco laughed. “And a sexual enhancement charm.”
Sirius grinned. “So a fun project then.” He tossed himself into the bay window and sprawled there like some naughty lord from a Play Witch magazine. “Stop looking so prudish, Severus, it’s not at all attractive.”
“Fuck off, Black,” Snape growled and watched Harry work through the runes as if he were going to grade Potter on the assignment.
August 24, 1996
The portkey deposited them in the Great Hall. They’d brought their school trunks so they wouldn’t have to carry them on the train. As Dumbledore left his seat at the head table and welcomed them back to the school, each of them set the trunks in a pile by the nearest wall. “Ah, boys, you’re here. I have some introductions. Rather than create a new conclave for this event—I’ve merely added the men you requested for your ritual to my personal conclave, at least the ones that weren’t already members. Thus, we seven will be with you in the ritual and the rest of my conclave will provide for our security and set up our warding so we may concentrate on the ritual itself.”
Harry nodded his agreement. He’d spoken with the Headmaster privately about it and hadn’t disagreed with the older man’s choices. It had been a little high handed of him to even request that Albus start another conclave for this one ritual. But Draco’s safety meant everything to him and he wouldn’t apologize for that.
“Now, some of you know each other and some of you don’t…” Albus said pleasantly. “So, we’ll just do introductions across the board shall we? Harry Potter and company, I would like you to meet starting on my left Nicolas Flamel, Filius Flitwick, Alastor Moody, Severus Snape, William Weasley, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Rubeus Hagrid, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Dedalus Diggle, Arthur Weasley, Aberforth Dumbledore, and Garrick Ollivander.” He paused and then began again. “Beginning immediately on Harry’s left we have Draco Malfoy, Ronald Weasley, Fred Weasley, George Weasley, Blaise Zabini, and Neville Longbottom.” He waved them forward. “Come, let’s eat and then Severus will be plying some of us with potions to prepare for the ritual.”
Harry shot Flamel a hard look. In the previous timeline he hadn’t known the wizard was alive until nearly four years after the war had ended. He’d shown up at St. Mungo’s one night and poured an entire vial of the Elixir of Life down Draco’s throat to save him. He’d made Harry drink one too—to even up their life spans, he’d said blithely before disappearing with a loud crack.
“Mr. Potter is giving me funny looks, Albus.”
Dumbledore had the grace to blush. “I’m afraid I inferred to the dear boy that you were dead and never told him otherwise, Nicolas. We did decide the best way to keep Voldemort from continuing his search for the stone was to spread the word that it had been destroyed.”
Harry sent him a dirty look. “It might interest you to know that I’ve felt really guilty for the last five years thinking that I killed him and his wife when I broke the Philosopher’s Stone.”
“I didn’t tell Albus I’d made another one,” Nicolas explained. “He thought I was dead for nearly two years.”
“It’s rather rude to let your friends think you are dead,” Neville whispered.
“Indeed it was,” Albus said cheerfully. “He bought me an entire case of lemon drops to make up for it.” Every single person at the table turned to glare at Nicolas who only shrugged and smiled serenely back at them.
“George, Fred – I think Mr. Flamel deserves to be added to your fall list,” Harry said casually as if he hadn’t just unleashed two of the most evil non-Death Eater wizards ever on a little old man. He picked up his pumpkin juice and sipped it thoughtfully. “I’ll even pay for your potion supplies.”
“Sometimes I think you blackmailed the Sorting Hat,” Albus muttered.
“No, I just told him my preference,” Harry admitted with a slight smile. “And I was indulged.”
– – – –
The warding stone for Hogwarts was located in the bottom of the school beneath the dungeons. The chamber had already been carefully prepared and practically glowed with magic. The stone itself was embedded in the floor, runes were carved on every inch of the surface. The members of the senior conclave slowly moved around the space and took their places, forming a circle around the younger conclave with the grace of years of practice.
Harry watched as Neville carefully arranged everyone to his liking and took his place at the head of low altar that had been set up next to the warding stone. Harry shared a look with Draco. They’d both certainly had their fill of ritual altars but this one had special appeal as long as he could manage to over look the twelve other people in the room. Draco didn’t have an ounce of shame and had adjusted to his younger body more quickly than Harry had his own so he casually shed his ritual robe and placed it near the end of the altar.
He strolled around to the head of the low platform and picked up the large goblet full of smoking potion. Harry watched his mate silently as he untied the series of laces that kept his own heavy ritual robe closed. He shed the garment, aware that many in the conclave were getting a look at the scars that hadn’t been healed as yet. He ignored the intakes of breath as he turned his back on the majority of the older wizards in the room, letting them see the lattice work of scars left by Vernon’s belt when he was just ten. Sirius had seen them. Raged over them. Promised retribution the likes of which was unknown in the world currently. Harry had abandoned the idea of revenge many years before but he wouldn’t act against Sirius’ intentions. Once the blood wards fell on Privet Drive—Petunia and Vernon Dursley were fair game and the two surviving Marauders had plans.
Draco slid up onto the altar and Harry joined him. They met in the middle of the low stone structure on their knees. Draco sat the goblet between them on the altar and held out his hands which Harry took without hesitation. Before they could begin, Dumbledore had to close the circle to protect both the ritual and the magic they would be doing within the confines of the conclave.
“We call upon Magic to guard and protect our circle as we share magic and purpose on this night,” Dumbledore began. “Let Magic herself, bless us in our mutual endeavor as we help these two young men join their souls and magic for eternity.”
Harry shivered as he felt Dumbledore’s magic settle over the room and he took a deep breath. After some intensive research, Draco had determined that having another bonding ceremony wouldn’t be dangerous. There were several versions to choose from so they’d decided to use a different one for their public ceremony. Magic considered them married because of their fated status but still they wanted to commit to each other in front of the members of their conclave at the very least.
A large wedding ceremony in front of family and friends was never going to be an option—too many opportunities for their enemies to take a crack at them.
“Let magic and all those present acknowledge that I give myself—magic, body, and soul to Harry James Potter for eternity. I vow to forsake all others, guard his honor as well as I guard my own, and stand at his side in all matters. His battles will be my battles. His joys will be my joys. His sorrows will my sorrows,” Draco said clearly and without hesitation. “I swear this on my magic.”
Harry took a deep breath. “Let magic and all those present acknowledge that I give myself—magic, body, and soul to Draco Lucius Malfoy for eternity. I vow to forsake all others, guard his honor as well as I guard my own, and stand at his side in all matters. His battles will be my battles. His joys will be my joys. His sorrows will my sorrows. I swear this on my magic.”
Draco released his hands after a firm squeeze and picked up the goblet. He offered it to Harry first, holding it as his bondmate drank his portion the potion carefully and Harry said, “I call upon Magic to accept the offering of my purity—both in body and heart.”
With a deep breath, Draco finished the potion and nodded. “I call upon Magic to accept the offering of my purity—both in body and heart.”
The senior conclave started to chant in Latin. Harry knew the words but they were meaningless to him as the ritual began and the potion started to burn in his body. Harry cupped Draco’s cheek and pulled him in for a kiss. He thanked Merlin for the cushioning charm on the altar as his mate shifted closer. They’d had intense discussions about the position—which in retrospect had been ridiculous. But he’d been very concerned about how Draco would be perceived by the members of their conclave.
He hadn’t wanted to enter this new stage of their lives by dominating his partner physically. Granted, they both got off on such activities but that was private and many wouldn’t understand it. He’d already had a frank conversation with Ron about using the ritual to mess with Draco. His friend had promised to treat it with the dignity it deserved.
Draco wrapped his arms around Harry’s neck and shivered as Harry lifted him off the altar. He groaned softly as Draco’s legs slid around his waist as Harry’s fingers drifted over the runes on the small of his back. Harry pushed his magic into the runes with practiced ease. Draco’s cock dragged against his stomach as he hitched himself up into position. Their magical auras were blending together, throwing off a bright golden glow that danced along their skin and stimulated their magical cores. Harry felt his own core surging and responding to the ritual and recognized that feeling. Draco had been right—the ritual was going to start their magical maturation. Thankfully, his regimen of nutritional potions meant he wouldn’t spend a month in bed recovering from this maturation.
He grasped his cock and positioned himself so that Draco could sink down on him. His lover’s hands tightened in his hair and Malfoy lowered himself very slowly onto Harry’s cock. “Fuck.”
Harry laughed softly against Draco’s mouth and it turned into a groan as his mate sank down fully on his cock. Merlin, he’d missed this. The pleasure, the intimate connection, and the knowledge that he was having something no one else could ever have. Draco was his and his alone—it was a heady and unbelievable feeling.
“So good,” Draco whispered against his cheek as he started to rock up and down. “You feel so amazing in me.”
Harry spread his legs a little and cupped Draco’s ass in order to provide his lover with better leverage. In the background, the chanting was increasing and the air around them was thick with magic. They’d performed sex rituals before in private but this was more and so intense that it was hard to concentrate.
The pleasure built upon itself until the burn was so intense that it almost hurt. Harry’s fingers dug into Draco’s hips as they moved together. Magic roiled around them—fierce and harsh in its beauty.
Draco tightened the muscles clenched on his cock and Harry shuddered as his orgasm punched through his body, vivid and so powerful that his vision darkened for a few seconds. Draco’s fingers dug into his shoulders in the same instant and his back arched as he came all over Harry’s stomach.
The magic swirled around them before rushing out from them in a visible wave. Harry caught Draco to him and held him close as the chanting slowed and the magic started to fade. They remained as they were, forehead to forehead as their labored breathing slowed. Harry listened as Dumbledore closed the circle and everyone left the room in silence.
Harry leaned forward and placed Draco on the altar. He sucked in a breath as he pulled his softening cock from Draco’s body and pressed a kiss against his lover’s pliant mouth. “You’re so beautiful.”
Draco stretched and sighed. “Is your core opening for your maturation?”
“Yes, I have an hour or maybe two before it hits. We should get comfortable before that happens. You?”
“Yes, I might have less time than you. I think my core has been slowly opening since I claimed my family ring. The Malfoy magic prefers a fully matured wizard in the role of patriarch.”
Harry nodded. The sentient nature of familial magic had shocked him at one point but that had been long ago, at least it had been mentally. He cast a wandless cleaning charm on them both. “Did your healing rune activate? I don’t want you to be sore later.”
Draco nodded. “Yeah, you did it perfectly.”
Harry left the altar and retrieved their robes. He slipped his on without tying it and held Draco’s out for him. Malfoy slipped off the altar and slid into the robe. “How do you feel?”
“Good,” Harry murmured. “I didn’t… realize how much I’d missed making love with you until now. Is that crazy?”
Draco laughed. “Well, it’s kind of ego deflating but I get what you mean. The sex has always been good between us but it wasn’t what we built our relationship on.” He moved in close and casually tied Harry’s robe shut. “We should try to eat before we sleep.”
Harry nodded his agreement. “Yes, we should.”
– – – –
Harry pushed aside his empty plate and glanced briefly at Draco. His partner had already retired to the large bed situated near the back of the room. They’d returned to Grimmauld Place shortly after the ritual so he hadn’t had to face most of the participants of the ritual. In fact, his conclave, including Ron and the twins, had already returned home by the time Harry and Draco had dressed and prepared to leave Hogwarts. They’d planned to meet on the train back to school in just a week. He was sure some of them would have questions and answering them in private was the best choice.
“How do you feel?” Sirius questioned as he gathered the dishes and put them on a tray. The tray popped away, having been recalled to the kitchen by one of the house elves.
“Tired but okay. My core is… it’s difficult to describe.”
Sirius nodded and cleared his throat. “There were some comments… well, among your personal conclave.” He laughed. “I have to say I’m surprised to find that only the twins are sexually active.”
“Blaise Zabini?” Harry questioned.
“He didn’t appear shocked by the content of the ritual but he was uncomfortable afterward. I figure we should’ve done more to prepare them for the ritual but Arthur assured me that he’d had the talk with Ron and the twins sometime ago. I took Neville aside myself because I figured Augusta hadn’t had to a thing to say about sexual relations with wizards or witches and I wasn’t wrong. Neville was, I think, shocked by the amount of magic you threw off as he was acting as a conduit. The twins were… amused and a little hyped up from the magical exchange.”
Sirius grimaced. “Well, shocked and jealous. I don’t know that he’d want to take Draco’s place or anything in your life but it is obvious he resents the hell out of how much you love Malfoy. He believes himself replaced in your life and Draco is that replacement. I heard Dumbledore and Shacklebolt talking about it after the ritual and I agree. I don’t think he’s a threat to your marriage or anything like that but Ron might never be the kind of friend you want him to be.”
“He wasn’t in the future,” Harry murmured. “He was, in fact, foul to Draco on a regular basis. I’d hoped inclusion into my conclave would change… that. I just hoped Ron could be different this time around.”
“I don’t anticipate him being openly hostile,” Sirius said. “And since he’s already sworn on his magic to never join the Death Eaters at least you don’t have a Peter Pettigrew situation on your hands. You can trust him but only because the rites of the conclave will insure it.”
Harry grimaced and looked away. “That’s not…well, it’s better than what I had before I guess. I hope he gets over it one day. I won’t tolerate him abusing Draco. The first time around we both ignored his behavior to keep the peace. Now… well, now I’ll just cut him out of my life completely if he gets out of line.” He stood and stretched. “Where is Snape?”
“Shortly after the ritual, he was called to Voldemort’s side. Riddle knows that Severus participated in a ritual for Dumbledore’s conclave but due the nature of conclaves he can’t discuss what happened with him. So that part is safe but there are many questions that the Dark Lord will ask that Severus may feel compelled to answer. I know that he’s already been ordered to make every attempt to bring Draco into the Death Eaters. He’s even prepared to vow not to hurt or kill Draco in return for his complete devotion to his cause.”
“The money must be hurting,” Harry said dryly. “There were dozens of people in the Ministry that Riddle controlled through bribes the first time around. He won’t have the finances to accomplish that unless he courts another Ancient and Noble House.”
“Of which there are only four left—Potter, Black, Malfoy, and Longbottom,” Sirius said. “Merlin knows that Augusta Longbottom would strike her whole family dead before she’d let a single one of them join the Death Eaters. Riddle can kiss my arse and he wants to kill you. There are a few noble houses about – Greengrass, Bones, Zabini among them but they aren’t ancient. They certainly don’t have the money available to fund his war chest. He can’t afford to let it ride much longer.”
Harry yawned. “It worries me… in the first timeline, the war wasn’t bloodless by any means but the violence escalated slowly. He bided his time infiltrating the ministry with Malfoy’s money—an option that he doesn’t have this time around. He’ll start striking harder, killing more now that he doesn’t have the option to buy his way into the Ministry and in turn Hogwarts.”
“You should rest,” Sirius said quietly. “We have time to discuss this before the two of you go back to Hogwarts.” He paused and cleared his throat. “I think you need to bring Snape into your confidence about the time travel. Draco is as important to him as you are to me and the man has a right to know what is really going on. Lying to him long term is just going to make him utterly furious for years.”
“Not until… we’re almost finished with our research into the Dark Mark. In the future, we were pretty confident that if Riddle had been alive I could’ve removed Draco’s Mark. If I can remove the Mark from Snape—and he’s free of that obligation then we can speak to him about matters concerning the future and what we have planned. Until that time a carefully worded order could kill Snape. It’s only Voldemort’s arrogance that has allowed Severus to spy as long as he has. The asshole has never asked Severus where his loyalties truly lie. A marked follower can’t lie to him, you know, not without agony and refusing to answer a question would kill the follower outright. The game the Headmaster has Severus playing is horrific.”
“Why does Riddle have to be alive to remove it?” Sirius asked.
“After his death… his real death… we realized that the Dark Mark became a stain. It stained and tainted Draco’s magic to such a degree that even attempting to remove it would’ve killed him. It resisted glamours completely and it was a constant source of pain. It was like Riddle was punishing any of his followers that survived his death from beyond the grave.
“It was so painful for some of them that there was a rash of amputations six months following the war. Men and women would suddenly appear at St. Mungo’s missing the lower half of the wand arm. It was that epidemic that lead to a potions master creating a potion that when mixed with Skelo-Gro caused limb regeneration. The disgusting part? When the arm grew back the Dark Mark returned.”
“That potion for nervous system regeneration—for Crucio exposure?” Sirius questioned. “That’s from the future?”
“Yes, we have a bunch of potions and healing spells that we’ve documented from the future. Things that will make the war less traumatic for a lot of people, actually. We just have to be careful how we reveal it.”
“And that’s why Draco gave Dumbledore a list of Potions Masters to invite into the Magus Foundation?” Sirius laughed. “You cheeky little bastards.”
Harry flushed. “We felt sort of bad for robbing them blind, actually. It’s the least we can do and the war effort needs every advantage we can give it. It’s going to get so… it’s a nightmare in the making, Sirius. I can’t even fully explain it.”
Sirius reached out and touched his forehead with the back of his fingers. “You’re starting to run a fever. How does your core feel? You said in the future, that your maturation was difficult.”
“It was violent,” Harry corrected. “It nearly killed me but this doesn’t feel anything like that. My core is open and expanding even as I sit here. I’d assumed when I first returned that I wouldn’t have another maturation; not with my archmagus abilities fully developed. I was really surprised when Madame Pomfrey said she thought I’d go through maturation on top of it. I can’t imagine what my second maturation will do to me at this point,” Harry admitted dryly, though he figured he’d be in his late forties before he had to deal with that.
“Get some sleep, pup. I’ll keep an eye out for Severus and get him squared away when he returns if he needs healing.”
“Thank you for that,” Harry said quietly. “And I really don’t want to know why the two of you are getting on so well recently.”
Sirius smirked. “Still the best shag ever. I bloody swear.”
“You bastard,” Harry muttered darkly as he went to join Draco on the bed. “Have Dobby watch us for magical outbursts. Wouldn’t want to tear down this old, grim place.”
“Sure thing, he’ll let us know when the two of you wake as well.” Sirius shut the door behind him.
Harry dropped down on the bed and curled around Draco with a contented sigh. For the first time since returning to the past, he almost felt normal. It should’ve been the first clue that something was looming ahead of him. His eyelids grew heavy, magic heaved and roiled inside his core briefly and everything lit bright and vivid in his mind before he lost consciousness in a way that was really fucking familiar.
- – – –
Harry half expected to wake up on the altar in Longbottom’s shack so the very mystical version of King’s Cross almost made him lose his shit completely. He stumbled briefly as he caught sight of a rather plain looking woman dressed in a flowing clichéd white robe.
“Oh, fuck you,” Harry hissed in shock. “Absolutely not! Goddamn it, I refuse to…” He didn’t even know what he was refusing and that pissed him off even more. “Who the bloody hell are you?”
“Most from your realm would call me Fate but that is a role I share with my sisters as we are the triad by which destiny is molded. I am Nona.”
Harry’s gaze narrowed. “I’m rather fond of Sadistic-Cunt-Who-Hates-Me, actually.”
She smirked. “I don’t hate you, Harry Potter. In fact, out of all of my… War Mages, you are the most beloved. That’s why I’m here.”
Harry inclined his head. “War Mage. Oddly enough, that’s not a title I’ve ever had.”
Nona scoffed. “Don’t get me started on those ridiculous titles of yours—The-Boy-Who-Lived.” She glared briefly at him as if it were his fault he’d been saddled with such a ridiculous moniker when he was an infant. “The Chosen One. The Man Who Won. The Leader of the Light. Warrior for the Light.”
“Defeater of the Dark Lord,” Harry offered. “Don’t forget that one. I had that one put on a t-shirt. Draco burned it six months after we moved in together.”
“You are Fate’s War Mage,” Nona huffed. “That is what you’ve been since you were born and for that you can most assuredly blame your mother.”
“My mum?” Harry asked with a frown.
“She sought the protection of the Goddess of Pregnancy when she was four months gone with child. As that is me, her plight caught my attention. If she’d survived to birth a child without my intervention, that child would have been a perfectly normal but that was not to happen. Had I not intervened, she wouldn’t have lived another month. My sisters and I weaved changes into the very fabric of destiny to protect her and her unborn son and for that, a price had to be paid.”
Harry’s stomach tightened with loss and fury. “And I paid it?”
“Yes,” Nona agreed simply. “Your bravery and dedication was without peerage, Harry. We were content with the events as they unfolded even with the future that lay ahead for the magical world. It wasn’t a pleasant fate for Magic but she’d flourished on Earth for many thousands of years. She had accepted her destiny just as any other entity within our influence. Then Neville… well, that was not unexpected exactly. He’s always thrown a wrench in the works as it were. He was supposed to have died the night his parents were tortured. It was unexpected when he did not. Morta chose not to cut his thread, a choice she has made few times in the existence of time. In that moment, she offered no reason and neither Decima nor I could see the how or why of her decision.”
“Neville was my escape clause,” Harry said dully. “You let him go bloody fucking insane so he would sacrifice himself to send me back in time!”
“You would have never chosen to travel backwards in time on your own—even when you were an infant we knew that about you. You were a child who was content with what he had. Even in the face of saving your Godfather’s life, you admitted that you wouldn’t have wanted to return to an earlier time to correct your mistakes.”
“You’re meant to live one life,” Harry said quietly. “That is the lot of a mortal and I wasn’t thrilled with the outcome of the war but I accepted it. I moved on. I made a life for myself with someone I never expected and it was good.”
“You deserved a good life,” Nona said bluntly. “After the life you’d been forced to have as a child. We all agreed to that and we made sure of it. You and Draco would’ve lived a long and fulfilling life full of children and grandchildren and a peace that would have lasted until all of the magic faded from the Earth.”
“The loss of magic is a steep price to pay for peace,” Harry said, his voice soft with grief. “What of the magical creatures who could not survive without it? In the future, the centaurs and the house elves were already endangered. That was just twelve bloody years after the war. Fewer families had the familial legacy to support elves and the magical forests were slowly losing their power. The goblins birth rate dropped to practically nothing within five years of the war. Unicorns… dragons… the legacy of magic was not a worthy price for my happiness.” He paced rapidly around the goddess, furious at his own selfishness and the choices he’d made in the future.
“Harry it was never meant to cross your mind—time travel wasn’t your choice to make. It was for another.”
“For crazy Neville,” Harry snapped. “Is that why the date was off? Is that why we landed at the point that we did?”
Nona shook her head. “No, that was definitely the work of the Encephala. Their influence over Neville was more dramatic than we anticipated. They wanted another opportunity to connect with Neville and suspected that you wouldn’t bring him to the Department of Mysteries if you had a choice.”
“They weren’t wrong,” Harry admitted. “That entire night would’ve played out much differently if I’d had a chance to plan for it.” He walked around her and stared at her face. “Why am I here?”
“It was brought to our attention by… those who manage the flow of Time that we did not ask you what you wanted and as the child of Prophecy it is only proper to do so. If you wish to return to your proper timeline with the life you had before… we’re required to make it happen.”
Harry closed his eyes briefly as he considered that. Only a few weeks ago he wouldn’t have hesitated to return to the life he and Draco had. But the past had gifted them with Narcissa’s acceptance, Sirius’ life and the lack of a Dark Mark on Draco. Each was a priceless gift on its own but together…
“I can’t make such a decision by myself. It’s not fair to Draco.”
“Reach out for him with your magic and he will be brought here,” Nona said smoothly. “It was your choice to appear before me by yourself. You’d isolated yourself in your mind before you went to sleep.”
Harry reached out for Draco mentally and magically. Draco faded into existence right at his side. “What the fuck?”
Harry snorted. “Draco, meet Nona, one of the Fates.”
“Oh.” Draco took a deep breath. “Fuck you so much. Look what you’ve done to us!”
Nona shrugged delicately. “No life is untouched by the whims and desires of the Sisters of Fate, Draco Lucius Malfoy. Be content with the knowledge that though your paths in life have not been smooth, you have received the most valuable gift that can be given to a mortal soul by destiny—a soul mate.” She inclined her head. “A true soul mate. The two of you have traveled these paths many times and it has always been together. You are always reborn in times of great need and throughout time you’ve proven to be Magic’s champions time and time again. My beloved War Mages—shaped by the hands of fate since you began. This is why we gifted Lily Potter with such a special child and why the Malfoys had such a magical child.”
Draco’s hand slid into Harry’s and their fingers clenched together. “Why are we here?”
“She’s offering a chance to go back to our original timeline,” Harry admitted hoarsely. “I told her I couldn’t make that decision without you.”
Draco turned to face Harry and took up his other hand. “What we have ahead of us is horrible, Harry. The war, defeating Riddle again. There are so many ways it could go wrong and the future could end up worse.”
“Worse than the end of Magic and the extinction of entire magical races?” Harry questioned. “Yes, it was horrible and it will be horrible again but we’ve gained so much already. We have Sirius, we can save Severus, and your mother…” Harry flushed and averted his gaze. “She likes me this time, Draco. She’s not looking at us like we’re wrong for loving each other. That means so much.”
“It does,” Draco agreed. “The only way to save Severus is to remove the Dark Mark.”
“I think I can do it. But more importantly, you aren’t marked,” Harry said quietly. “Our magical connection is so perfect now—once I get rid of the soul fragment Voldemort left in me we’ll be so much better off than we were in the first timeline.”
“We can keep the war from spreading to other countries,” Draco said neutrally. “We’ve already allied with the goblins—something you didn’t the first time. We’ve decimated the Death Eaters financially.”
“We’ve destroyed two horcruxes already not counting the diary. We know where the other two are currently—the goblins are going to find the cup within weeks. I can retrieve the diadem when we return to Hogwarts.”
“That just leaves the snake and you,” Draco said quietly.
“We could have Severus poison her,” Harry murmured. “Before we remove the Mark—his last act as a spy for the Light if he agrees. There is so much left to be done but we’ll have crippled Riddle and he won’t even know it.”
“Once Bellatrix admits she left the cup in her vault… he might make another horcrux to protect himself,” Draco pointed out.
“He can’t,” Nona said bluntly. “And he knows it. If he attempts to split his soul again—it’ll kill him. He’s done the Arithmancy repeatedly. He was furious when he realized that Lucius had allowed the diary to be destroyed. That’s why he made Nagini a horcrux. She’s his last. The mortal soul can only take so much damage before it’s beyond repair. He knows he’s reached that point.”
“Does he know I’m a horcrux?” Harry asked and lifted an eyebrow when she hesitated.
“No, he doesn’t know why you’re connected. He doesn’t remember attempting to make another horcrux in Godric’s Hollow because we hid that from him. That is our gift to you, Harry. Had he known such a thing in either timeline, things would’ve played out very differently.”
“Does he have to let Riddle kill him again?” Draco demanded.
“No, that must not happen for any reason,” Nona exclaimed. “The goblins can help you remove the soul fragment. If Harry were to allow Riddle to kill him—it would kill you both. In such a circumstance, only Harry would be able to return but upon his return he would be… so severely damaged that he would not live more than a few hours before expiring again. Your bond is both a blessing and a curse, gentlemen. Please remember that.”
“I…” Harry took a deep breath and nodded. “Draco?”
“We have the chance to make so much more right,” Draco said finally. “It would be a crime for us to waste the chance that Neville sacrificed himself for. Even if the current version of Neville never has any reason to make a similar sacrifice… we owe it to our crazy friend to make things right as much as we can.”
Harry agreed and his heart ached for it. He nodded. “Very well, Nona, we’ll stay in the past and do as much damage control as we can. Is there anything we shouldn’t do? Is there anyone that should die as they did before?”
Nona smiled sadly. “My sister Morta will take all those that are due her in time, Harry. There is nothing you can do to stop that. Do as you will and save as many as you can… that is your purpose. Leave the matters of fate and destiny to those who are endowed with those responsibilities.”
– – – –
He woke with his magic thrumming gently inside him and he relaxed. Draco turned on his side and looked at his partner. Harry was as still in his sleep as he always was. The first time they’d ever shared a bed, Draco had actually been very tempted to check Potter’s pulse in the first few seconds upon waking until he saw the wizard breathing.
“I never should’ve let you read those ridiculous Muggle books,” Harry said dryly and opened his eyes. “You picked up poor habits…watching a bloke while he sleeps is creepy.”
Draco grinned. “It was worth reading just for the part about vampires sparkling and you know it. I’ve never laughed so hard in my entire life.”
“I remember,” Harry murmured. He reached out and brushed Draco’s hair from his forehead. “How do you feel?”
“Good. I was a little worried considering what happened before with your maturation.” Draco shifted forward and pressed his lips to Harry’s. “I’m going to start locking our door all the time so I can sit on your cock anytime I fucking feel like it.”
Harry flushed and laughed. He dropped back on the bed with a groan. “I don’t think I blushed this much the first time I was sixteen. It’s ridiculous.” He cleared his throat. “How did it feel? Was it good… I mean I don’t… well, I’m not exactly the same size I was as an adult.”
Draco smirked at him. “You were more than adequate to my needs, Potter. Though I can’t say I don’t look forward to that big cock you were carrying around the first time we went to bed together.”
Harry sighed. “You bastard.” He moved quickly and pinned Draco to the bed. Settling on top of him, he smiled when Draco opened his legs immediately. “You miss my big cock, do you?”
“Yeah, but I can make do with the cock you have to give me.” He wiggled briefly and sighed when Harry slid a hand under him and touched the runes to activate them. “Besides, with your first magical maturation out of the way – you’ll rapidly develop physically.”
“Well, thank you very much for your patience,” Harry murmured as he shifted and pressed the head of his morning erection against Draco’s hole. He grinned when Draco tilted his hips and improved the angle of his penetration. He slid right in and his lover moaned softly. “Feels perfect.”
“Yeah,” Draco admitted. “You do. You always have.” He flushed when Harry raised an eyebrow at him. “I mean it—that first time was so amazing and perfect that I didn’t even know how it could be like that.”
Harry rolled his hips. Draco groaned and thrust up against him. “Yeah, that’s how you like it.”
“Yeah,” Draco agreed breathlessly. “That’s exactly how I like it. Fuck me, Harry.”
Harry picked up his pace, thrusting harder when Draco surged up and hooked his legs high around his waist. There had been others before Draco in the future—but none of them had been as greedy for cock as his Dragon had turned out to be.
“I’m going to come,” Draco confessed breathless.
“There was a time when your stamina was truly impressive,” Harry said as he pinned Draco’s hips to the bed with his hands and fucked into him hard. “I could ride you for an hour and you’d stay hard for me as long as I wanted.”
“Harry,” Draco whined and tried to lift into the thrusts. “I’m sixteen—give me a fucking break.”
“Makes me feel like a very dirty old man when you say shit like that,” Harry admitted roughly. He wrapped one warm hand around Draco’s leaking cock and pulled on him twice before Malfoy was spilling all over Harry’s fingers and his own stomach.
“Come in me, Harry,” Draco demanded as he relaxed on the bed. “I love it when you come in me.”
Harry’s hips jerked forward involuntarily and he came with a harsh groan. “We should both be ashamed of our lack of stamina.”
“We’ll work on it,” Draco said smugly as Harry pulled free of him and dropped on the bed beside him. “Practice makes perfect after all.”
“Right.” Harry sighed. “Did you… we really did talk to Fate, right? I didn’t dream that?”
“Yeah, that happened,” Draco murmured. “I… whatever happens, Harry, no regrets.”
“Agreed.” Harry sighed and stared at the ceiling. “No regrets.”
Author’s Note: Yes, this is book one in a planned trilogy of three books. I consider this particular fic FINISHED. No really. I do. I have no expectations on when the next book will be ready so don’t ask. I’ve been working on this one for six months. As magical as I am, I can’t pull completed novels out of my ass so it will be a while. Don’t be whiny because I didn’t kill Voldemort in this book. It took JK Rowling 7 Books and 8 movies to kill him.
As always, your non-consensual beta is unwelcome.