Title: Birth of the Serpent King
Author: Keira Marcos
Fandom: Harry Potter
Genre: Romance, Alternate Universe
Rating: R (sexual situations and violence)
Word Count: 105,062
Betas: Chris King & Ladyholder (all remaining mistakes are the author’s fault)
Warnings: Written by an American author who attempted to use every cliché she could think of, habitual abuse of canon characterizations and events AND under aged consensual sexual contact.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Entertainment purposes only. No infringement intended. If I owned Harry Potter—I’d live in a castle in Scotland with several beautiful younger men to cater to my every wish.
Author’s Note: My thanks to the HP Fandom for entertaining me thoroughly while I was broken and laid up wishing death and mayhem on my neighbors.
Summary: What if Lucius Malfoy had interfered and saved Harry Potter’s life during the third task? The Harry that returns to Hogwarts after the resurrection of Voldemort has been tempered by fire, the Potter Family legacy, and a relationship he couldn’t have ever expected. In the wake of his father’s redemption—Draco Malfoy finds everything he could have ever wanted in the man that was once his enemy.
* * * *
Harry didn’t know what kind of mother Lily Potter would’ve been. He wanted to believe that she would have been nothing like Petunia except that Petunia had obviously loved her own son beyond reason. His own mother had sacrificed herself in love—a love some might say was beyond reason. He didn’t think she wouldn’t have been much like Molly Weasley, though Sirius and Remus both claimed she had quite a temper. Still for all of Molly’s smothering and well-meaning temper tantrums, she was as much a mother as he’d ever known.
Mehen portkeyed them to the edge of the wards, the Burrow jutted up in front of them in an improbable way—only magic seemed to keep it together but Harry thought that it was part of the charm of the place.
He thread his fingers with Draco’s, tucked Ollie close to his chest as they passed through the wards. They tingled over his skin in a way he’d never noticed before and he wondered if it was because of his Family magic or if the wards danced over his skin because of his contact with Draco. He doubted that the Weasley’s had added Draco to their wards which meant that Molly had been notified of their arrival.
The front door of the Burrow opened and she came out to look for them just as he opened the front gate. “Harry.” She smiled warmly and he barely had time to pass Ollie to Draco before he was dragged into a tight hug.
Her smile towards Draco was more reserved but Harry thought it was probably genuine. He didn’t think that she necessarily approved of his friendship with Malfoy but like everyone else in his life, with the exception of Ginny, she hadn’t said anything aloud.
“Draco, I’m glad you could come for tea.” She looked curiously at the elf as Harry took him again. “Where did the two of you come across a baby house elf?”
“It’s a long story,” Harry admitted and sighed when Ollie started to cry against his robes. “Does he need another bottle? It’s only been a few hours.”
Draco shrugged. “I have no clue.”
“Here, dear, let me have him.” Molly snatched the infant away and disappeared into the house.
Harry laughed and followed. “Do you think that maternal instinct transcends species?”
“Appears so,” Draco admitted. “But then—how would you explain your aunt? Maybe just some women are more motherly than others.”
“Right.” Harry scrunched up his nose as they settled into the kitchen where Molly already had tea set up.
By the time he’d finished his tea, Ollie had been returned to him fed and cleaned. He envied her ability to take care of a couple hundred things at once and make it seem like she wasn’t even trying hard. It went beyond magic and went into a different arena all together.
“I wanted to speak to you about Ginerva.” Molly sat down at the table and took a deep breath. “She is young and high strung as you know. I can’t apologize for her for her behavior or what she said to that reporter with the Prophet because it would mean so little. I regret what she’s done and would apologize for myself and any encouragement I might have given her over the years regarding her affection for you.”
“You don’t owe me an apology, Mrs. Weasley.” Harry pushed aside his cup and patted Ollie’s back gently as he considered what to say. “I realize, perhaps better than most, what it is like to be slapped in the face with a truth you don’t want to see. She had expectations and they’ve been… altered against her will.”
Molly nodded. “I wanted you to know—to hear it from me that we never considered your being part of us anything like charity. You, since the day you became Ron’s friend, have been a part of our family. When you were twelve… Arthur and I even tried to petition the Ministry for custody of you. Albus wouldn’t support us—he said it wasn’t safe for you to live separately from our aunt. I can’t begin to tell you how sorry I am that let him change our minds.” She blinked back tears. “I should have fought for you because it was obvious, even then, that no one else was prepared to.”
“It’s not your fault. It isn’t like I said it to anyone. I never gave anyone the chance to help me.”
“Except for Dumbledore,” Draco murmured and frowned intensely at Harry when he started to protest. “He had every opportunity to help you, Harry. He chose not to. He chose to avoid the obvious—in a hundred different instances. That’s not even taking into consideration the ways you’ve been threatened, mistreated, and endangered while you were at Hogwarts.”
Harry wanted to shrug off the concern and anger in Draco’s voice but he found he couldn’t. “We all make mistakes… choices that aren’t perfect. I don’t think that Dumbledore ever meant me harm. His actions haven’t always been to my benefit, that’s true. But he isn’t a cruel man. He isn’t someone who would… I just don’t think he would have had me live the life I did if he were really aware of it. The fact that he never made any decisions to make himself aware of it is an entirely different matter.”
“I wish things could’ve been different,” Molly whispered. “Perhaps in more ways than I have a right to.”
Harry flushed slightly and sighed. “It would have never been Ginny, Mrs. Weasley. I always thought of her like a sister—the idea of being involved with her romantically never once entered my mind. I can’t see how it would have in the future either. She’s my best mate’s little sister and nothing… I can’t imagine anything altering that for me. It’s not anyone’s fault. It’s not Draco’s fault.”
Malfoy tensed beside him and Molly’s eyes went wide. She laughed suddenly. “No, I don’t suppose, as pretty as he is, that he made you gay.”
Malfoy blushed and then laughed. “Mrs. Weasley.”
“Well, you are very pretty. Take after your beautiful mother in that respect. At Hogwarts, Narcissa rarely if ever wanted for attention. I suppose most of the girls in school were relieved when she accepted the betrothal contract with Lucius. They made a striking pair—both so fierce and beautiful. It was such a shocking thing when we heard that Lucius joined Voldemort. Everyone knew his father was a Death Eater, of course, but Lucius loved Narcissa so much. It just seemed improbable that he would risk her in such a way.” Molly sighed again as she left the table and retrieved another plate of biscuits. “Eat more, you both look like you haven’t eaten in weeks. I’ll be owling your mother, Draco, and telling her how thin you are! See if I don’t. Lord of the manor or not—you have no call to not take care of yourself.”
Draco hastily took a biscuit, shoved half in his mouth, and Harry burst out laughing but then grabbed one himself when Molly glared at him.
* * * *
Minerva McGonagall was waiting on them at the front gates when they returned for the day. “Lord Potter—we have a situation.” She paused and glanced at the baby. “Why do these things happen to you?”
Harry laughed weakly at her baffled and exasperated tone. “Never say yes when a dverger asks for a favor without giving you details.”
“Quite so.” She nodded and motioned them to follow her. “They started arriving two hours ago—all of them asking to wait here for you. So far there are twenty-three.”
“Twenty-three what, Professor?” Harry asked as she ushered them into the castle and towards the main hall.
“House elves. Female house elves.” She glanced at the baby and lifted an eyebrow. “You do realize that elves have collective magic, Mr. Potter? The gift you received at Gringotts was felt by them all—it was reported to the Headmaster by our own Head Elf shortly after it happened. It is quite a boon, my lord.”
“I don’t quite understand that, to be honest. House elves are classified as creatures…”
“They have pure magic, Harry. Their connection with wild magic is so profound that is defies imagination,” Draco murmured. “Wizards as a whole might look down on house elves but they are by far some of the most magical beings on this planet and you were given the magic of one.”
Harry’s fingers curled into Ollie’s tea towel as they reached the end of the hall near the Headmaster’s table where all the female elves had gathered with Dumbledore.
“Ah, Harry,” Albus smiled. “These lovely young ladies have come to see if one of them might join you as the little one’s adopted mother.” He moved forward and hesitated as he reached out to touch the baby. “The most interesting things happen to you, young man.”
Harry laughed. “It seems so, sir.” He glanced at the elves. “How do I…”
“Ollie will choose, Harry,” Draco guided him to a chair that had been placed in front of the table. “Each of them will approach and touch him—if he accepts their magic, you can ask her to accept a bond with you and she will become part of your estate.”
Harry nodded. “Dobby.” His vassal immediately appeared and several of the female elves tittered a little. He grinned when his friend averted his gaze and blushed. He didn’t even know house elves could blush. “Okay, let’s get started.”
One by one, they each stepped forward to touch Ollie. Harry noticed that while they didn’t hesitate at the interaction each of them looked at the baby and at him with so much reverence that he was starting to get uncomfortable. Ollie didn’t cry at the touches but he didn’t respond either. The last of them stepped back with a small disappointed sound.
“I want to thank you all for coming and trying to bond with Ollie. Your eagerness to help me and serve as his mother is honorable and I’m pleased to have met each of you.” He turned then, a whisper of movement having caught his attention. Winky was hovering in the back of the room. “Winky, would you like to come try?”
Winky disappeared from her spot in the shadows and immediately reappeared in front of him. Her hands twisting in her battered and worn little dress. “Oh, no, Harry Potter. Winky is a bad elf. I was given clothes.” The last word was said softly and so shamefully that Harry winced. “Bad elf.”
Harry frowned and reached out carefully to touch her—elves all over the room tensed, some he thought were probably horrified by his concern. “Winky, Mr. Crouch was a horrible man and he did bad things to hide his son who was a Death Eater. He made you do something bad and then to hide his own shame—he tried to shame you. I don’t believe you’re a bad elf. Not at all.”
He knew she’d lived for quite a while without a bond and that the Headmaster couldn’t bond her to Hogwarts because the school charter only allowed for one hundred bonded elves. Winky was probably living only because of her close proximity to Hogwarts magic itself. Dobby feared she would die within the year and Harry was ashamed to realize it had never crossed his mind to offer her a place on his estate and bond with her until now. His magic shifted in him and started to expand in the oddest way—he’d never experienced anything like it—not even when Dobby had become his vassal. He thought briefly that it must be part of what Libby had given him.
He offered Winky his ring. “Winky, I offer you the bond of service to the House of Potter.”
Her mouth trembled and fat tears rolled down her face as she touched his ring. Magic flowed between them, lighting up the entire hall with it. Briefly, he heard several exclamations of surprise but her intense relief and devotion to him was so overwhelming that he thought for a moment he might pass out. Her fingers lifted away from his ring and when the light around them faded she was dressed in a smart little smock made of a fine black pillow case—the Potter crest on her pocket like a badge.
“Now, would you like to see if Ollie would accept you as his mother?”
Winky nodded and everyone in the room leaned forward a little as she reached out and touched the baby without hesitating. The snap of magic and the bonding connection was audible. The other female elves in the room bowed carefully and disappeared in a series of pops. Harry relaxed, relieved when he felt Ollie’s magic settle. He’d known for most of the day that he wouldn’t be able to keep the baby alive on his own. He also hadn’t been surprised that no one had been willing to tell him that little fact. Winky accepted the tiny elf baby with a little cooing sound that made Harry laugh.
The Head Elf for the Potter Estate appeared immediately and bowed. “My Lord Potter.”
“This is Winky—Ollie has accepted her as his mother. She will be returning to Potter Manor with you. I trust you will see them both settled into appropriate lodgings as soon as possible and make sure the kitchen can handle all of their needs.” He turned to look at once more Ollie before focusing on the new little mother in his life. “I will see you both at Christmas, Winky.”
* * * *
“You’re very upset, dear.”
Ginny shrugged and looked away from Delores Umbridge. She didn’t much like the woman but she was getting the silent treatment from everyone in the school because of what had happened the day before. Even Hermione had looked at her like she was the most disappointing person she’d ever met. Not to mention the letter her mother had owled her with. She cringed just thinking about it. “No one understands.”
“I do.” Delores smiled. “You know that Malfoy boy is dark. You know he’ll only hurt your Harry.”
Ginny nodded, miserable and she took a deep breath. “He’s going to turn on Harry and kill him. I can’t make anyone see that.”
“I can help.” Delores placed a small potion vial on the desk between them. “This would reveal his true loyalties, child. Of course, I can’t administer it. It’s illegal and I’m bound by laws that don’t pertain to you because you’re a child.”
Ginny frowned at the white potion. “What does it do?”
“Did you know that Narcissa Malfoy has Veela blood in her family? Her son is ¼ Veela. While male Veela aren’t capable of transformation they do seek to mate. This potion would only cause young Draco to come into his inheritance. His Veela inheritance. He’d turn from your Harry to seek out his true mate and then everyone would know he was just using poor, young Potter for his own gain.”
Ginny frowned but then slowly nodded. “How…”
“It’s a vapor,” Delores explained. “He only has to inhale it.” She casually waved her wand and whispered Obliviate. It was easy, much too easy, to alter the girl’s memory—to make sure she would never remember where the potion came from. Then to insure the success—she cast a rather unforgiveable curse and instructed the youngest Weasley to dose Malfoy at the first opportunity.
* * * *
Harry let Dobby take his broom and wasn’t surprised when the elf held out a hand for Draco’s. They’d been flying all over the pitch hunting a practice snitch for an hour. Draco had finally caught it—but only because he’d grabbed Harry shortly before and kissed him senseless. Malfoy wasn’t even pretending to be upset by Harry’s accusations of having cheated.
They’d showered in the locker room—peeking at each other but keeping their distance more out of the desire to tease than any other reason. Harry knew that Draco enjoyed their little game as much as he did and he figured he should probably read up on exactly how two wizards could pleasure each other before long. Still, they had plenty of time to explore and seduce each other.
Ron and Hermione were coming down the stairs, hand in hand when Harry caught sight of them. He offered them a smirk that made Hermione blush and Ron look away but their fingers tightened as if they were both afraid the other would let go. It was kind of adorable. He held back a sigh as Ginny appeared on the landing and came down the final set of stairs.
She hadn’t apologized even after Harry had spoken with Mrs. Weasley the day before. He knew Molly had owled Ginny. She’d apologized to Harry with tears in her eyes. Her hurt had infuriated him because her daughter had caused it. It made him want to shake Ginny until she cried.
Ginny marched them toward them, smiled brightly and threw something at Draco. The small potion vial broke against his chest and they were both enveloped in a white vapor. It made Harry cough but Draco’s eyes rolled as he suddenly started to gasp for air and it was all Harry could do to catch him.
“What did you do?” Ron shouted as he grabbed his sister. “Are you mad?” He shoved her towards Hermione as the doors to the main hall were swung open under McGonagall’s hands.
“Draco,” Harry whispered fiercely as they stumbled together under his weight and he slid to his knees. “No, Draco. Don’t… don’t do this…” Malfoy’s body jerked in his hands and Harry’s magic unleashed in a wash of shock and grief when he realized what he was feeling. Draco’s magic was leaving. Windows rattled, the ground beneath them rumbled. Draco took a ragged breath and reached out for Harry.
“Harry,” he whispered, his voice hoarse with shock and pain. Their hands clasped together and Draco’s gaze fluttered shut.
“Dragon… no… don’t… please… I can’t… Merlin, don’t leave me,” he begged softly and choked back a sob. “Snape!” Harry shouted. “God damnit! Dobby! Elbe! Someone help us!”
Dobby appeared immediately, followed closely by Elbe, and Snape came from the hall at a run. Harry felt a tug on his magic and a cold swept over him—like death itself was reaching out for him. He shuddered under the weight of it and more magic poured from him as he screamed. White light burst from him and Dobby threw up a shield to contain the magic flowing from his Master in horrible, grief stricken waves. Elbe threw up another shield around Dobby’s and the castle shook. The magical stairs stilled and Fawkes appeared with a flash of fire. He flew directly through both shields towards Harry and phoenix song could be heard all the way to Hogsmeade.
* * * *
“How did a child get hold of hereditas potion?” Narcissa Malfoy demanded fiercely and then took a calming breath. She held up a hand when Dumbledore would have responded. “We’ll leave that for later. My son has very little Veela blood—as you might remember my husband was a powerful wizard and his magic overwhelmed most of the hereditary gifts I might have had to offer, including the recessive Veela traits I have.” She looked across the room to where Harry Potter and her son were housed—in separate beds that had been pushed together. “This should have killed him.”
“It almost did,” Snape murmured. “But, Potter is anything if ordinary and while we aren’t sure what he did. He did manage to force your son to live with sheer magical power as the traits surfaced. The castle’s foundation cracked under the brunt of it. The repairs were arduous, to say the least.”
Narcissa’s gaze widened briefly and she nodded. “I see.” She bit down on her lip. “I would like to visit with them, Headmaster, and then I will join you in your office. This girl—she has done a terrible thing here today. I’d like to know her motivations and what we can do to make this right for everyone involved.”
She walked away before they could respond. Dobby and Elbe were asleep on the ends of their lords’ beds and both elves bolted awake as she breached their wards. She paused while they oriented themselves and then touched Elbe gently before sitting down on the edge of Draco’s bed.
She touched his face with reverent fingers—seeing the changes in him that never should have surfaced. He’d been beautiful before—an intoxicating combination of his father and herself but now he was something so ethereal as to appear almost angelic. She brushed his hair from his forehead and sighed. “My sweet boy.”
After a few minutes she stood and walked around so she could sit on Harry’s bed as well. Harry shifted and his eyes opened. He tried to move but she stilled him with one hand. “Our Family owes you a life debt, Lord Potter. You have saved the life of my only child and our Lord.”
Harry turned and looked at Draco. “He’s alright?”
“He’ll live but things will be different. He was dosed with a potion that woke his Veela heritage. He has so little Veela in him that it almost destroyed his magical core and killed him outright. Severus tells me that you kept him alive with raw power. It is a stunning thing you’ve done.”
“I couldn’t…” Harry blushed and looked away. “I couldn’t let him die. I just couldn’t.”
“Sleep,” Narcissa leaned forward and kissed his forehead with sincere affection. “You have saved my child but clearly exhausted yourself. Rest now as I’m sure there will be many questions for you to answer.”
* * * *
“She was under the Imperius Curse—they are treating her at St. Mungo’s,” Albus raised a hand at Molly’s obvious relief. “It was a very mild suggestion she was given, Molly and there is evidence of a memory wipe. She doesn’t know who gave her the potion but she wanted to use it on Draco to make him leave Harry alone.”
Molly’s mouth dropped open. “Albus.”
“She was questioned without Veritaserum,” Albus murmured. “As far as we can tell her instructions were to dose Lord Malfoy with the potion and even now that the curse has been lifted she’s not remotely sorry she did it. In fact, she told Auror Tonks that she wished she’d killed him.”
Molly paled. “But why…”
“The child is obviously mentally ill,” Narcissa began and sighed when Molly protested. “Molly, I’ve interacted with your family over the summer and met most of your children. There is something wrong with Ginerva. I can’t think that she was raised to place so little value on the life another human being. Draco wrote to me and told me what she said to Harry. She was cruel and vicious. As hot tempered as you and your children are—cruelty on that level towards someone that everyone knows is practically an adopted Weasley just doesn’t make any sense.”
“She’s right,” Arthur murmured. “She’s not been the same… not since the incident with the diary and the Chamber of Secrets.”
“Molly, love, it’s true. She’s always refused to talk about it and what happened—and we both know her crush on Harry was even more intense after that incident and not in a healthy way.”
“Her husband gave her the diary!” Molly pointed at Narcissa.
Narcissa nodded. “Yes, he was forced to. Even when the Dark Lord was without a body, Molly, he lingered in our lives. His connection with my husband was both painful and often times such a burden that I wondered how Lucius stayed sane enough to appear somewhat normal in public. Shortly before his rising, Lucius slept as little as an hour a night as the Dark Lord struggled to return to a body. It’s no excuse for what he exposed your child to, but we had hoped she would turn it over to you and your husband. When we realized she’d kept it—there was little we could do. The Chamber of Secrets had already been opened and the Headmaster had allowed most of the school to shun Harry as the Heir of Slytherin.”
Molly glared at Dumbledore and the old man had the grace to look abashed. “I remember.” She looked up as the office door opened and Harry entered with Snape. “Harry, you should be asleep. You’re exhausted.”
“He refused to listen to reason,” Severus muttered. “He spends too much time with that mutt godfather of his.”
“Git,” Harry muttered as Snape carefully lowered him into a chair and tossed a blanket over him.
“Five points from Gryffindor for being mouthy,” Severus muttered and then grabbed Harry’s chin and tilted his head so their eyes met. “And two hundred and fifty points to Gryffindor for an unimaginable and unspeakably brave act of magic on the behalf of another. I’ve never seen anything like that in my entire life and I dare say I never will again, Lord Potter.” He released his grip on Harry and walked away.
Harry blinked and took a deep breath. “Madame Pomfrey said that Draco would wake tomorrow.”
“Yes,” Albus acknowledged. “Thanks to you.”
“He looks different already. What did that potion do to him exactly?” Harry focused on Narcissa. “And please don’t treat me like a child, Mrs. Malfoy.”
She inclined her head. “I wouldn’t. As I said, Draco has a small amount of Veela blood in him. That potion activated his recessive Veela traits. While male Veela do not transform as females do—they are extremely beautiful, sexual, and when they mate—they mate for life. When Draco wakes—he’ll likely seek a mate, Harry.”
“And it won’t be me,” Harry murmured. “Is that what Ginny wanted? To make him leave me by activating his Veela traits?”
“It appears so—though she was quite pleased to have almost killed him,” Snape ground out through clenched teeth and glared at Molly when she started to protest. “I was there when she was questioned, Molly. We had to treat her here before she could be moved to St. Mungo’s.”
“Treat her?” Harry questioned. “For what?”
Albus sighed. “Your magic lashed out at her, Harry. I realize it wasn’t intentional but you showered the entire school with your emotions when Lord Malfoy… when you thought he was dying. People as far as Hogsmeade were knocked unconscious. Since Ginny was acting under an Imperius Curse—her mind was in a very weak state. She went into hysterics and had to be stunned quite violently in order to be subdued.” He leaned forward. “Can you tell us what happened, Harry?”
“I…” Harry closed his eyes. “I felt his magic leaving—like I felt yesterday with that poor little elf at Gringotts and then something snapped inside me—I think it was the Liege Bond. I didn’t want to let it go. So I grabbed it with my magic and then I just—I held on to it with everything I had and pushed everything else away so I could focus on him. Then the next thing I know I was in the infirmary.”
“You have Liege Bond with Draco Malfoy?” Arthur Weasley questioned softly and then paled. “I see.”
“It wasn’t something… it’s a private thing, Mr. Weasley. Not many people know about it,” Harry huddled in his blanket and glanced towards Snape.
“Does it change things? Familial or personal?” Molly questioned.
“Familial,” Narcissa murmured. “It might not be enough, Molly. It’s already crossed my mind. Their connection is very personal but the Liege Bond wasn’t. I witnessed it and I’m not sure it has the emotional connection to prevent Draco from seeking his mate if his Veela instincts point him in a direction other than Harry. Such bonds aren’t meant to be about love but about loyalty.”
Harry knew that. He’d read about the bond to make sure it wasn’t making him fall in love with Draco. He sighed. “Riddle hurt Ginny when she had the diary—emotionally and psychologically. He preyed on her romantic fantasies and insecurity that just comes from being eleven years old. His betrayal changed her and it made her harder than maybe she ever would have been.” He closed his eyes briefly to keep what he realized, with some horror, were tears at bay. “I never once encouraged her.”
“You didn’t have to, dear one.” Narcissa stood and walked over to him so she could sit in the chair next to him. She took his hand carefully and held it in both of hers. “I’m going to tell you something that will probably embarrass you horribly…” Harry laughed and Snape snorted. “Since your ancestral magic has settled—you’ve gone through some physical and magical changes that I’m sure you took in but didn’t really process. You’re beautiful if I may be quite frank.”
“Oh. That’s…” Harry blushed furiously. “I am not.”
“You are,” Snape said dryly. “It’s the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen. Your father never looked like that—not even when he accepted his title and received his inheritance. The magical power you have in you is stunning and a little irritating since you seemed to be completely unaware of it.”
Harry hitched his blanket up a little more and frowned darkly at the corner of Dumbledore’s desk. “Ten points from Slytherin for being inappropriately complimentary. You’re a blight on your house, Professor Snape.”
Narcissa laughed. “Oh, Harry.”
“I won’t make things more difficult for Draco than they already will be.” He took a deep breath. “I’d like to go back to the infirmary now.”
* * * *
Draco woke slowly and agony washed over him so fresh and vicious that it took his breath. Elbe was suddenly there, nervously trying to soothe him but failing miserably. He shivered against the pain and sighed when Madame Pomfrey lifted his head to give him a potion. Pain reliever he hoped. It took quickly, though the muscles in his body were still jerking the pain lessened immediately.
“Draco,” a voice murmured and cool fingers caressed his face. He opened his eyes and found his mother staring at him with tears in her eyes. “There you are, love. I know it must hurt.”
“What’s happening?” Draco questioned.
“You were exposed to hereditas vapor. It woke…” Narcissa hesitated. “It woke your latent Veela traits, darling.”
His eyes widened in horror. “No, Mother, no!”
“I’m so sorry, Draco,” Narcissa whispered. “I was assured that the traits would always remain dormant in any children I had because I don’t have much of the blood to pass. Your father was powerful and his inheritance was dominant in your magical blood. In fact, the exposure should have killed you.” She glanced over at Harry. “And you nearly did die—from what I’ve been told, your Harry refused to part with you and forced you to live through the physical change and the activation of your Veela traits with his magic.”
“It’s complete then?” Draco questioned. “It can’t be stopped?”
“It is done.” Narcissa brushed hair back from his forehead. “The changes are quite small over all but you have the allure, your hair is finer than it ever has been and it is more golden than the white blond you had before, your eyes are rather sparkly as well.”
“You look like a fallen star,” Harry murmured.
Draco turned and stared at his friend. “Except I’m not.”
“No.” Harry agreed, obviously tired. “But you look like one all the same.” He turned then, rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling. “Mrs. Malfoy, you should probably cast a silencing charm and explain the rest to him.”
“Not necessary,” Draco said with a glare. “Whatever it is—I’ll tell you anyway.”
Narcissa took a deep breath. “Your Veela magic has settled completely and that means within the next year you’ll have your first mating season, Draco. You’ll seek a mate. The Veela in you will act on instinct and no matter what you might feel in this moment you won’t have a choice if you come across your destined mate. You may never meet that person but there stands every chance you will.”
Draco felt the hurt settle in his gut—as if someone had taken a knife and just pushed it into him. “I see.” He closed his eyes and shivered. “That’s what she wanted, right? She wanted me to leave… wanted to separate us because she was jealous.”
“Yes, but that is the least of little Ginny’s problems.” Narcissa sighed. “She was under an Imperius Curse and the Healers at St. Mungo’s says that she’s quite mentally ill. She probably has been for some time.”
“Since… the diary,” Harry murmured. “Voldemort ruined her when she was a child and now it’s probably too late for her. She may never be right again.”
Draco took a breath to steady himself and closed his eyes. “Can you send for Uncle Leenus? I need to ask him a few questions and would you ask Severus to visit me? I want to his advice on something. Have you asked him about suppressing the traits? At least the mating drive?”
* * * *
When Harry woke the next time Draco was staring at him—his eyes hard and bright like diamonds. It was so insanely attractive that he could barely remember to breathe.
He wet his lip and watched Malfoy’s cheeks flush. “I want to wrap myself around you—take you, brand you on some level that will let me keep you forever. I feel like a selfish prat for it.”
Draco reached out and trailed his fingers down Harry’s arm. Their beds were still pushed together. “Why are we close like this?”
“Because I apparently held your hand for a few hours after we were brought to the infirmary. We had to come here on the same stretcher and when they tried to separate us by force—my magic threw Dumbledore and Snape across the room,” Harry blushed. “I didn’t let go until you’re heritage settled and stabilized. I guess when my magic understood that you wouldn’t die I let go.” He looked down and watched Draco’s fingers moving on his skin. “This is… really unfair. I want to explode and just let everyone know how much it’s going to hurt when you find your mate.”
“I already have found my mate,” Draco murmured. “My Uncle Leenus was here while you were sleeping. He was entirely inappropriate so I’m glad you slept through it. He drooled over you quite a bit. I don’t look forward to future family get events.” He curled his fingers against Harry’s hand aware that he’d upset him. “He theorizes that on some instinctual level that I recognized you as my mate immediately and when you rejected my friendship on the train—it really pissed off the Veela in me but those traits were recessive so all of that rejection was just sublimated and turned into my anger-fueled crush on you.”
Harry was still for a moment and then he rolled toward Draco, resettling himself entirely on his bed and burying his face against Malfoy’s neck. “I didn’t know how I was going to survive it.”
Draco buried his fingers in Harry’s hair and pulled him as close as he could. “Me neither—I didn’t understand how I could want you so much only to have my body turn against me and destroy it.” He rocked Harry gently. “My uncle told me that he’s never been in love—not ever. He respected his wife but he never loved her. He says that people with Veela traits rarely fall in love and when they do it’s always with the person that was meant to be their mate.”
They both stilled as the wards around them were breached. Elbe and Dobby appeared immediately. Harry was entirely certain one of them was growling. He sat up as one of the most attractive people he’d ever seen in his life walked around the partition.
Draco sat up and maneuvered himself between Harry and their visitor. “You’ll do well to keep your distance, cousin. I’m not exactly in a civilized mood.”
The young man smirked at him and inclined his head as his mirror image came around the partition to join him. “Look how pretty our Draco’s mate is, Casteus.”
“Lovely, he looks delicious.” He shivered a little. “His magic feels different, Polleus.”
“Very different,” Polleus agreed.
“It’s wild,” a voice said and another man came around the partition. “I doubt you’ll ever encounter another quite like him—his House is known for their ability to harness and use wild magic and he is currently the last of his magical line.” He inclined his head. “I am Leenus Malfoy.”
Harry smirked. “Did you really get caught with six Muggle hookers in Monte Carlo?”
Leenus grinned. “Yes, shortly after I came into my inheritance. As punishment, my father made me marry.” He inclined his head towards his sons. “They were the result—it’s a never ending punishment now that I think about it.” He paused and then laughed lowly. “But it was worth it.”
Harry just bet. The man looked like a walking sex act and he frowned intensely. Then he took a close look at Draco and frowned some more. It was fortunate really that he was practically a force of nature all of a sudden because he didn’t know how he was going to keep people off Draco.
“Stop frowning at me, Potter. I’m too gorgeous to be frowned at,” Draco muttered. “Elbe, bring us a tea tray. Potter needs some chocolate biscuits.”
“You’re the one that likes those chocolate biscuits,” Harry complained. “I like the vanilla ones but Elbe never brings those. It’s quite selfish.”
Leenus cleared his throat and one of his sons retrieved him a chair. Harry was instantly reminded of Lucius and his face fell. He turned from them and took a deep breath. “You look a great deal like your brother, Mr. Malfoy.”
“Call me Leenus and yes, Lucius and I both took after our father who surprisingly had no Veela blood at all but did manage to mate with one the second time he married, after he lost Lucius’ mother.” He paused briefly and then continued. “I’d like to ask you a few questions about what you did on Sunday, Harry.”
“Sure.” Harry inclined his head then and smiled. He was out of the bed before the outer door of the infirmary opened. He shrugged on his robe as Sirius came around the partition. “Sirius!”
“Pup.” Sirius grabbed him and pulled into a tight embrace. “I came as soon as I heard.” He carded his hands through Harry’s messy hair. “What… the hell happened?”
Harry hands clenched on his robes briefly. “When? Merlin, it’s been one thing after another for the last week or so.”
Sirius laughed. “That’s something you get from your mother, she had the most amazing brand of luck—neither particularly good or bad. Just…” He waved a hand as he prodded Harry back towards the bed. “Interesting things were always happening to her.”
“Right.” Harry sat down on the bed and took a deep breath. “Well, on Saturday I went to Gringotts to bully some people I don’t know and sell some stuff and make money.” Everyone nodded because that seemed like a reasonable place to do all of those things at the same time. “But I was roped into doing Ragnok a favor. There was this elf—her owner had tried to force her to give up her baby to him so he could compel a bond when he was an infant and he beat her. She died.”
“But not before she gave Potter here her magic,” Draco provided when Harry ended abruptly. “Then he holds out his hands and calls the baby. The ugly little precious bundle of joy popped right into his hands.”
Sirius mouth dropped open. “You.” He reached out and touched Harry’s shoulder. “She gave you her magic?”
“He, of course, had no idea how amazing that was,” Draco muttered as Snape came around the partition. “Then he was all snotty with the git who had killed the house elf when he tried to take the elf baby and paid him to go away. It’s really quite horrible the way Potter has gotten used to throwing his money around to get his way.”
Harry laughed and sighed. “Draco.”
“The man, who we’re going to absolutely ruin when we have time, first said no and the Boy Who Lived over here cheerfully told him if he didn’t take his money that he’d be happy to duel with him for insulting him.”
Harry huffed. “His breathing the same air I breathe is an insult to my House, my ancestors, and the next ten generations of Potters.” He glared when everyone laughed at him. “You’re all prats.”
“So on Sunday we did some flying and practiced with a snitch for a while. Then we came back into the castle…” Harry took a deep breath. “And Ginny threw this potion on him.”
“It was hereditas vapor,” Snape offered, his tone cool and precise. “The Weasley girl had been cursed and instructed to dose Draco with it the first chance she got. Due to the small amount of Veela blood in him—exposure to the potion should have killed him in less than a minute.”
“His magic was leaving,” Harry murmured. “And I grabbed on to it. I don’t know how I managed and I just held on to it. I heard Fawkes singing. He always comes when I need him most,” Harry murmured. Fawkes appeared in a flash of fire and landed on Harry’s bed in front of him. “And sometimes just when it suits him.”
He held out his arm and the bird jumped to curl his feet delicately around his wrist. Mehen stirred but settled quickly with a small disgruntled hiss. “Hello, there, I didn’t hurt you did I?” Fawkes twittered at him and then sang a few notes to the shock of several of the people in the room. “I know. I do try to keep it contained. At least Dobby and Elbe were able to stop most of it.” He stroked Fawkes feathers gently. “And you were very helpful as well, as always.” The phoenix responded again with a burst of song that was kind of shrill. Harry blushed. “I do believe it is your job to berate Albus Dumbledore and not me.” The bird walked up his arm, nipped his ear, and then disappeared in a flash of wind and fire.
Draco cleared his throat. “Harry, how long have you been able to understand Fawkes?”
“Since the Chamber of Secrets,” Harry admitted. “He cried for me and after that—I understood him. He is less than thrilled with my Animagus form by the way. He says it reminds him of the basilisk that was in the chamber.”
Leenus nodded thoughtfully. “Severus, could you tell us what you witnessed?”
“I heard Potter screaming—for me and their Vassals. When I reached the entrance of the castle I found them both on the floor. They were both enveloped in a bright white light and the elves…” He paused and looked at Dobby and Elbe who were arranging a tea tray on Draco’s bed. “Were shielding them—two layers. Dobby was in the center and Elbe had raised a shield around them all. Fawkes appeared and breached the shields with what seemed like no effort and then he started to sing and Potter stopped screaming.” He took a deep breath. “When it was over—half the students in the school were unconscious and seventeen residents of Hogsmeade were so over wrought they had to be sedated. Everyone within five kilometers of the school reported hearing Fawkes singing. The foundation of the castle cracked and every window in the castle shattered under the vibration.”
“How long did it last?” Sirius asked.
Snape’s face went blank. “Sixteen hours. When the elves dropped the shields we moved the two of them to the infirmary and three hours after that we were able to physically separate them.”
Harry’s eyes widen. “What? It didn’t… it seemed like minutes to me.”
“Trust me, Potter, sixteen hours. As I said it was an act of magic the likes of which I’ve never seen.” Snape frowned intensely at Sirius and then swept from the room with a sweep of his robes.
Harry sighed. “Would you go fix that? I’m really tired of being concerned about that git’s sex life!”
Sirius huffed dramatically and then leaned in to plant a kiss on Harry’s forehead. “Try to keep the acts of unspeakably powerful magic to a bare minimum until you recover.” He stalked away with that, shouting cheerfully after Snape. “Severus! Harry says we should resolve our UST!”
Harry laughed softly and fell back on his bed. “Merlin, I’ll never pass Potions now.”
* * * *
Draco paused as he entered the common room and paused as Blaise stood slowly. “Don’t do something stupid, Zabini.”
Blaise smirked. “You look quite fine, Draco.” His gaze travelled over his body, more pure inspection than insult. “Easy to see what pretty Potter sees in you these days.” His eyes darkened. “Still don’t know how either of you survived what happened on Sunday.”
“He might as well be dead,” Pansy muttered and glared at him. “For all of his allure, he’s a creature now, Blaise. He’s been ruined.”
Draco laughed softly. “You’re an idiot, Pansy. It isn’t like the vapor gave me Veela blood. It activated it. I was born with it and your parents always knew. I suppose they really didn’t care that they were going to give their daughter to a wizard with creature blood as long as they benefited from it.”
She flushed furiously and then huffed. “Well, I’m glad they ended that agreement.”
Draco grinned. “You’re kidding, right? Is that what they told you? I ended it, Pansy. I cancelled the contract the day after I buried my father and ignored all three of your father’s offers to renew it since then.” He started down the hall towards his suite. “Close your mouth before something nasty flies into it.”
In his suite, he warded the door and added a few new charms to the locks as Elbe put away some laundry. He took off his robes and folded them over the back of his chair. “I’m exhausted.”
He turned and sighed at finding Harry leaning in the portrait hole that lead up to the top of the tower. “Hmm, Potter, want to sleep with me?”
Harry grinned. “Yes, of course, but I can’t.” He moved into the room and walked to stand in front of Draco. “I promised Hermione I would study with her tonight and help her with some defense spells. The wand movements always come quickly to me but frustrate her.” He moved closer and let his hand rest on Draco’s hip as the Slytherin moved into his embrace. “It was selfishness,” Harry admitted.
“What?” Draco asked softly.
“It was selfish—what I did. I couldn’t let you go because I want… I want.” Harry buried his face against his throat and shuddered as they came together fully. “I want you so much and I couldn’t part with you. I keep waiting for someone to realize that I wasn’t going to ever let go—that I would have followed you into death.”
Draco shuddered and held Harry tight. “Shh, love, no one in our lives is going to make that leap of logic. They see you as heroic, the Boy Who Keeps On Living no matter what gets thrown at him,” he whispered fiercely. He ran his hands through Harry’s hair with a sigh. “I hate her for what she’s done—for what she woke in me. I could have lived my whole life a normal wizard.”
“You’re not abnormal,” Harry whispered fiercely.
“Many won’t agree with you. While some Wizarding families consider it an honor to have Veela in their bloodlines—others believe it to be a foul and disgusting situation. Pansy called me a creature.” Draco frowned when Harry stiffened. “Hey, don’t. She won’t be the last to do it. Veela are classified as creatures per the British Ministry. Thankfully, I don’t meet the standard to be classified as Veela. You have to be at least 1/2.”
“What would happen if you could be classified as a Veela?”
“My Uncle Leenus keeps his money in France because the British Ministry of Magic would tax him heavily and he would have to submit to questioning regularly to keep his wand. Both he and my cousins, in fact the rest of my family are French citizens and are therefore immune to those policies due to international treaties.”
“Right,” Harry frowned. “Could they take your seat on the Wizengamot?”
“No.” Draco shook his head. “The Wizengamot is a body of the Crown, Harry, not the Ministry of the Magic. The minister has a third tier seat in the court but that’s it.”
“Third tier?” Harry questioned softly.
Draco sighed and looked pained. “Do pay attention when I teach the Muggle-borns about Wizarding law, love, you’re killing me. The Wizengamot has three levels—the third tier is made up of the Minister of the Magic, the head of the Magical Law Enforcement, head of the Wizarding Examinations Authority and various department heads on a rotational basis. The second tier is made up of minor lords, those families, like Blaise’s for example, that have less than five generations in the nobility. The first tier are nobles of Ancient houses—ten generations or more. My family joined the first tier of the court about a hundred years after yours did.” He trailed his hands along Harry’s rib cage. “Stop teasing, Harry. Kiss me.”
Harry brushed his mouth over Draco’s and soft moan passed between them. They pressed closer together—fell into an exploring kiss than left them both aching for more. He nipped at Draco’s bottom lip and sighed. He let his forehead rest on Malfoy’s for a few seconds. “Ah, Dragon, you have to know how much you mean to me.”
“I do know.” Draco’s fingers pressed firmly against Harry’s back as he pulled him closer. “I know. It’s so stupid, Harry, how did this happen to us?”
Harry laughed. “Hermione said there has always been a lot of energy and passion between us—once we stopped fighting it had to go somewhere.” He leaned in and kissed him again. “Apparently the line between love and hate is very thin.”
“Agreed, she’s quite brilliant.” He sighed. “Don’t you dare tell her I said that.”
Harry laughed. “I have to go.”
* * * *
He found Hermione in the common room at the table they normally sat at to study. He slid into place and dropped his three books on the table in front of him with a sigh. “You look…irritated.”
“I am beyond irritated,” Hermione snapped. “Terence Higgs hexed Neville in the hall on the way back to the tower. It was a nasty stinging hex and Neville fell down a few stairs and broke his arm. He’s in the infirmary.”
“What kind of punishment was he given?”
“None,” Hermione snapped. “There were no teachers around to witness it and when Snape tested his wand it was too late—he’d already performed a couple of other charms to cover his tracks. I took house points, of course, but that’s it. It’s certainly not enough for what he did.”
Harry took a deep breath. “Dobby.”
The elf appeared immediately. “Yes, Master Harry?”
“I need parchment and my quill.” Dobby disappeared and reappeared less than thirty seconds later.
Harry quickly penned missive and then pulled his wallet out of his pocket. Once he expanded it on the table, he signed his name, applied his seal, and then folded it neatly. Then sealed the whole thing with wax. “Take this to Mr. Higgs. Let him know that I expect a response within the hour or I will have no choice but to pursue legal charges against him.”
Hermione’s gaze widened as Dobby disappeared. “Harry, what did you do?”
“I challenged him to a duel for insulting my House and causing my Heir grievous injury. It’s perfectly legal. Higgs is seventeen and I have legal standing as the patriarch of my house. I won’t have my Heir bullied by an adult while the adults around us do nothing to stop it.”
* * * *
Draco had made a half way decent attempt at his Charms essay when there was an abrupt knock on his door and the shout of a “house meeting” from one of the prefects. He sighed and pulled on his robes but left them hanging open. The common room was packed when he arrived.
“What’s going on?”
“We’re waiting on Snape,” Pansy muttered and then moved away from him when the portrait hole opened and Snape glided through.
“Well, Mr. Zabini, what is the meaning of this?” Snape glared at him.
Zabini jerked his head towards Higgs who was pale and shaking. “Terence was challenged to a duel by Potter for what he did to Longbottom.”
Snape raised an eyebrow. “Is that so?” He smirked. “Well, Mr. Higgs, have you responded?”
“No.” Higgs frowned. “Professor… he can’t challenge me to a duel. He’s not of age.”
“He is the Lord of his House and is an adult with all of the responsibilities and privileges thereof,” Draco murmured. “I assure you, Higgs, he can challenge you to a duel. I was the Noble Witness to his title claiming. You could have killed his Heir with that stunt you pulled. You’ll be lucky to come out of this without being maimed.”
“Fine.” He glared at Draco. “You’re my second.”
Draco laughed, low and his eyes sparked with malice. “The last thing you want, Terence, is to have me at your back in a duel with Potter. You should pick Miles.”
“He’ll have to settle for me,” Snape responded evenly. “In such circumstances, he is required to pick the Head of his House to act as his second. The duel is legal, the challenge is legitimate, and considering the fact that Potter could level charges against Higgs in front of the Wizengamot for a crime of attempted line damage against his House… Terence is getting off extremely lightly. If Mr. Higgs were under age, there is little Potter could do to him personally but as it stands, Mr. Higgs is an adult and he attacked and grievously injured an underage wizard in front of a half a dozen witnesses.”
* * * *
“Harry you don’t have to…” Neville trailed off and looked away. “No one has ever stood up for me before—not even me.”
“Yes, well, I’ve been a crap friend and I don’t know how you’ve tolerated me as long as you have. I asked for your support the first day of term and you said you’d give it to me. It is way past time that I returned the favor and it’s… my duty, Neville. I feel quite compelled to see this matter through.”
He nodded. “It’s your ancestral magic at play, Harry, and I understand. It must be hard on you to realize how much you’ve changed in just a few weeks.” He frowned down at his arm. “I was lucky the stairs moved the way they did or I would have fallen all the way… well. I would have probably died, I guess. Higgs has always been a mean git but he’s gotten worse this year. He’s real bitter.”
“I noticed.” Harry shoved his hands into his pockets and frowned. “But I’ll teach him a lesson he won’t soon forget.” He took a deep breath. “I’m going to bring people to Potter Manor this summer to teach me. I’d like you to come, too. I realize you’ll want to spend time with your grandmother. She’s welcome to join us at the manor for the summer if she wishes.” He glanced at Neville who looked uncertain. “She isn’t in a position to tell me no, Neville and it’s time you harness your magic. I feel it in you, you know. You’ve a lot of magical power but you’re afraid of it and it’s time you master that fear.”
* * * *
“You can’t mean to let these two boys duel!” Minerva glared at Dumbledore and then turned to stare at Severus. “Potter is fifteen years old.”
“He challenged Terence Higgs and we have two choices—we can sanction what is a legal challenge and allow it to take place in a controlled environment where we can set limits and rules…” Snape trailed off meaningfully.
“Albus.” Minerva turned to him and stared.
“Severus is right,” Dumbledore murmured. “If we tell them it can’t take place on school grounds—they’ll arrange to meet in private in a situation where we can’t monitor them or provide aid in case things get out of hand. The duel is legal and Lord Potter is well within his rights to address the insult done to his House. Mr. Higgs parents have been notified and they are set to arrive to bear witness.”
“They aren’t protesting?” McGonagall demanded.
“Actually, I think they are quite looking forward to their son dueling with the Boy Who Lived. They asked if they could bring a reporter from the Prophet,” Dumbledore informed her blithely. “I agreed. Minister Fudge has requested to attend as well. I’m considering putting a coverage charge on the event and making a few galleons for the school scholarship fund.” His eyes twinkled brightly and she quit his office with a swish of skirts and a glare.
* * * *
Harry closed the spell book in his hand when the private passage portrait swung open and Draco slipped into the room. “Hey.”
Draco laughed softly. “Potter, you thrill me.” He dropped his robes on the floor in front of the small couch and crawled right into Harry’s lap. “Higgs is horrified and didn’t stop shaking for an hour.”
Harry grinned and tossed the book aside. “I heard that McGonagall is upset but she hasn’t been to see me, yet.” He picked up his wand and warded the door that lead to the rest of the Gryffindor tower before pulling Draco close, his fingers clenching in the material of the other boy’s slacks and shifting upward for a brief kiss. “I thought you were going to bed?”
“It lost its appeal after you kissed me and then abandoned me to study with that girl,” he murmured and moved until they were flush against one another. “Higgs is petrified of you.”
“Well, I do have the power to slay a Dark Lord,” Harry murmured and grinned when Draco’s mouth dropped open. “At least that’s what he’s thinking. You and I both know I doubt how accurate that nutter’s prophecy is.”
“She is a nutter,” Draco agreed but he frowned. “However, I think you are uniquely powerful in a way that Voldemort could never be and there will come a time when you face him and he will end because no matter how evil he is, Harry, you are four times as good and wonderful. That has to mean something.”
Harry blushed and relaxed back on the couch. “I’m not that good, Dragon.”
“I’m pretty sure good boys don’t think about how much better it would be if you were naked right now.” He grinned at the blush that ran across Draco’s face and then sighed at the sharp knock on his door. “And that would be my Head of House.”
“Get your robes and go hide in my bedroom,” Harry suggested and kissed him quickly before urging him off his lap.
Draco picked up his abandoned robes and hurried into the bedroom. Harry waited until he shut the door before unwarding his entrance and walking to answer it. He stepped aside to let McGonagall enter and closed it gently.
“You’re upset with me?”
She eyed him shrewdly. “Only if you do poorly.”
Harry grinned then and walked to the couch. “The thing is that I know I could knock him unconscious in under a minute but that really wouldn’t do much more than embarrass him briefly. Everyone knows he’s not a powerhouse magically.” He motioned her to sit in the chair. “Tea or perhaps cider? There is an orchard on my ancestral property and the elves put up a large amount of cider.”
“Cider would be lovely,” Minerva murmured. She didn’t appear surprised when Dobby appeared with two thick slices of spiced cake and hot apple cider. “Thank you, Dobby.”
“I teach Master Harry to be proper host,” Dobby boasted and then bowed before disappearing.
Harry laughed. “That’s true enough. He keeps me on track in a lot of ways.” He poured the cider for her in a delicate cup and then poured himself some as well. “I’d like to teach the entire a school a lesson next Saturday when I duel Higgs.”
“And what is that lesson, Harry?”
“Higgs bullied Neville because he viewed him as an easy target. First and foremost, I want every wizard and witch in this school to know that Neville’s place as my Heir is one I take seriously and respect wholeheartedly. Second, I’d like to see the other older students take a more active role in making sure that the bullying stops. Four of the witnesses were from our own house and they didn’t interfere. I have a real problem with that. They let Higgs hex Neville and didn’t help him until they realized he’d been seriously hurt. Third, I want to let Snape know if he can’t keep his snakes in line that I’ll be more than happy to do it for him. I think they’ll find I’m a far bigger snake than all of them combined.”
Minerva smiled and sipped her cider. “Those are worthy goals. Mr. Higgs has more experience than you—more education. He’s probably learned all matter of spells from his father.”
“Yes, and my godfather is Sirius Black.” He inclined his head. “Try the cake. Petey, the cook for the manor, makes excellent cake.”
She smiled and picked up the plate and took a fork. “Higgs’ parents are coming to watch.”
“Perhaps. His father is rumored to be a Death Eater. One of the rules of a duel is that the only four people in the room allowed to draw their wands are the participants and their designated seconds. Albus will place a heavy ward on the rest of the room preventing anyone else from participating. It’s a difficult spell and a taxing one. I trust you won’t make the Headmaster carry such a heavy ward for very long.”
“I’d hate for him to be too tired for Saturday afternoon tea,” Harry conceded.
“The cake is quite tasty,” Minerva murmured. “I should probably lecture you about Dobby. Delores fumes about him and Elbe in the staff meetings. She hates you quite a bit.”
“The feeling is mutual. She’s a bigot and I have no patience for someone like that,” Harry murmured. “She would do good to mind her own business.”
“She’s also complained about the classes you’ve been organizing for the Muggle born’s. She’s of the opinion that if they can’t educate themselves on our world—then they should be left in the dark.”
Harry would like to leave in her in a dark place for a while. “It’s people like her who foster the ideals that fuel Tom Riddle and his followers. I don’t understand the mindset really but then I didn’t grow up thinking I was superior to anyone.”
Draco was asleep on the bed when he finally managed to get into his bedroom. Harry changed into his pajamas and then called Elbe. How or why the elf chose to respond to Harry remained something of a mystery but Elbe appeared with an armful of silk. With a snap of his fingers—Draco was dressed in green silk pajamas and Elbe disappeared with his uniform.
Harry slid into the bed and pulled his dragon close. With a sigh, he dragged the covers over them both and buried his face against Draco’s neck. His magic shifted in him as he relaxed and he let it drift over his skin and envelope Draco. It was perfect then—the connection that had been missing since they’d been separated in the infirmary hummed sweetly between them.
He woke with the sun on his face and Draco rubbing his ass against his morning wood. Harry groaned and sighed as he settled on hand on Malfoy’s hip to still him. “Good morning.”
Draco stretched leisurely and relaxed against Harry. “You’ve ruined my fun, Potter.”
He laughed. “Did I?” He let his hand slide off Draco’s hip and dip right down between his legs. Draco groaned and spread his legs without hesitation as Harry cupped him.
“Oh, Harry.” Draco flexed his hips. “That’s good.”
“Your libido is going to increase because of the Veela traits, right?” Harry whispered softly as he shifted his hand. Finally, he slid his fingers under the waist band of the pajama bottoms and wrapped his hand around Draco’s cock for the first time. “I want to be everything you need, Dragon.”
“If you’re worried I’m going to find someone in my house to get off with…”
“No.” Harry started to stroke him carefully, gently. “I trust you and even without the mate bond you’re going to require in the next few years—I know you’re only for me.”
“Yes, only for you.” Draco arched against the steady pressure of his hand and groaned. “That’s perfect, Harry. So perfect.”
“Is it?” Harry questioned. “This is how I do myself… I like to take my time and draw it out as long as possible.” He stroked his thumb over the head of Draco’s cock. “I think about you when I do this. I think about how much I want to touch and kiss you.” He sucked the skin of Draco’s neck below the ear and pressed his own aching dick against the Malfoy’s ass. “I think about sliding into you—fucking you. Do you want that as much as I do?”
“Yes,” Draco admitted softly and pushed into Harry’s hand with a soft groan. “I want you so much.”
“Do you want to take me? Do you want to slide your pretty cock into my mouth? Do you want to fuck me?” Harry questioned. “Because I’ll let you, Dragon. I’ll let you do anything you want.”
“Harry.” Malfoy shuddered and came over Harry’s fingers with a harsh groan. He laughed weakly. “You’re so filthy, Potter.”
Harry pulled his hand from Draco’s pajamas as he turned in his arms and licked his fingers. “You taste good.”
Draco leaned in and kissed him firmly. He slid his hand down the front of Harry’s pajamas. They shifted and he prodded Harry onto his back with a soft sigh and then pulled his waistband away so he could get better access. Harry helpfully lifted his hips and sighed when Draco worked the material around his hard cock. “Don’t… don’t do anything you aren’t comfortable with.”
Draco grinned and nodded. “I just want to see you—watch you come.”
Harry shivered as Malfoy worked his pajama pants and boxers down over his hips and exposed his dick to the cool morning air. Lips glanced over the flesh of his belly and he thrust his fingers into Draco’s hair with shuddery exhale. “You’re… Merlin, Draco.”
* * * *
Harry and Draco found themselves in Dumbledore’s office during their free period. Arthur Weasley and Narcissa came through the floo shortly after they arrived. Harry said nothing as tea was arranged. Draco, however, lost patience with the silence.
Narcissa sent her son a cool look and he raised an eyebrow. She huffed. “Sometimes you look so much like your father—I want to smack you one.”
Arthur snorted into his tea and then set it aside with a sigh. “The Healer’s at St. Mungo’s have worked with Ginny and she’s quite ill…” He trailed off as the floo activated again.
A woman came through that Harry had never met before and but had seen at the Wizengamot. He remembered she was the head of the DMLE, Amelia Bones. She was quickly settled into the area around the fire.
“Amelia, I was telling Lord Malfoy and Harry about my daughter’s condition.”
Amelia nodded and focused on Draco. “While she is not at all remorseful—she was under an Imperious Curse so we can’t charge her with her actions. The spell work wasn’t great but the memory charm was very good. We can’t determine where the potion came from or who cursed her to begin with.”
“I understand,” Draco said as he sat back in his chair and crossed his legs casually. “I’d rather not see her punished—considering my father’s reputation and his own involvement in her mental state it is better if I’m seen taking the high road in such circumstances. Demanding that a fourteen year old child be sent to prison doesn’t make me exactly sympathetic.”
Arthur Weasley relaxed. “Thank you, Lord Malfoy.”
“Please, Mr. Weasley, call me Draco. Is there… a chance she can be cured of her mental issues?”
Arthur shook his head. “It’s not as if she has spell damage from her time in the Chamber of Secrets. The experience itself broke her mind and changed her—they’ve determined her to be quite insane.”
Harry paled and set aside his tea when his hand started to shake. “What will… what are the options for treating her?”
“We are considering what to do,” Arthur murmured. “Molly wanted to bring her home but we know that’s impossible. She can’t be trusted on her own and the doctors have recommended that we allow them to drain her magic to render her less dangerous.”
“I’ll establish a medical trust to take care of her,” Draco said and held up a hand when Arthur protested. “It is my father’s fault, Mr. Weasley, that she was exposed to the Dark Lord’s diary. My family is morally obligated to see to her care. Please choose the facility for long term care you are most comfortable with and my solicitor will be in contact with you to arrange the fees for the medical personnel.”
“She nearly killed you,” Arthur murmured. “I am surprised, frankly, that you’re willing to even discuss such things as moral obligations.”
“Had she not been exposed to Tom Riddle and then cursed with an Unforgiveable—her childish jealousy might have manifested itself in spreading rumors, screaming matches, and rather harmless hexes in the halls,” Draco continued and then put his hand on Harry’s arm aware that he was still trembling. “Mr. Weasley, I can’t pretend my father would have made this offer but I would consider it a personal favor if you would allow my family to do this for your family.”
Arthur took a deep breath and then nodded sadly. “Yes, and thank you.”
* * * *
Three hours later, Harry and Draco were in the courtyard with a mixture of friends that many in Hogwarts would have thought impossible even four months before. They’d transfigured a table and chairs out of rocks to enjoy the afternoon and handle a few assignments.
Harry and Draco both had set up on one end to handle ‘business issues’ which everyone quickly learned meant the two of them plotting to ruin one Terence Marcus the third. They made plans for over an hour—including Harry buying the competing magical book publisher and running Marcus out of business. Draco wanted to buy all the land around his ancestral home and develop it for potion ingredient farming which would lower the value of his estate and make it quite undesirable to even live there considering how dangerous potion farms could be.
Hermione cleared her throat. “Harry, don’t you think it’s unkind to ruin this man? What did he do to you?”
Harry put down his quill. “Winky bring Ollie.” Winky appeared beside him immediately with the baby, she offered him to Harry with a smile. “How is he doing?”
“He has four teeth!” Winky proclaimed proudly. “His magics are strong again. Ollie is good baby.”
Harry stroked Ollie’s head with careful fingers and the baby wiggled happily in his hands. “Winky, would it be okay if Hermione held your baby?”
Winky nodded shyly. “Yes.”
Harry offered Hermione the baby and he noticed the witch’s eyes were filling with tears even as she reached out. “You okay there?”
Hermione nodded as she settled the baby close to her chest and tears spilled down her cheeks. “You… do you know how rare it is to see an elf baby, Harry?” She let Ollie catch her finger in one hand. “What does the baby have to do with the man you and Draco are going to ruin?”
Harry took a deep breath. “Ollie’s birth mother was named Libby. She is buried at Potter Manor in the elf cemetery there. Terence Marcus was her bonded master and when Libby refused to give him her son for a forced servant bond—he beat her and her mate to death. As she lay dying, Libby gave me her magic and her son to take care of. I was fortunate to find a willing and compatible new mother in Winky, which is why she is now bonded to my House.”
Hermione frowned. “I thought… bonds can’t be forced. It’s what I read in the book about elves.”
“House elves are normally bonded in their fifteenth year,” Draco murmured. “That’s when they reach maturity and the full brunt of their magic settles. They have until they reach the age of fifty to achieve a bond with a Wizarding house hold without worrying about becoming ill. That bond can be forced on them shortly after their birth because infants are uniquely vulnerable to magic the first year of their life. Some Wizarding families force their female elves to breed and give over their off spring for bonding within days of birth because elf knowledge is inherited. Ollie was born with all of the skills and practical knowledge of both of his parents. He’s quite valuable.”
Hermione nodded and carefully handed Ollie back to Winky. “He is beautiful, Winky, you are a lucky elf to have him for a baby.”
“Ollie is special,” Winky responded. “Touched by Master Harry’s magic.” She turned to Harry with a questioning look. “Can we visit my mum at St. Mungo’s?”
Harry gaped in surprise. “Of course, Winky, any time your duties allow it.” Winky smiled brightly and disappeared. He sighed and rubbed his face. “Dobby.”
Dobby popped into place immediately. “Yes, Master Harry?”
“Do you have any family living?”
“My brother.” Dobby glanced towards Draco and smiled. “I sees him every day.”
Harry laughed. “Elbe is your brother. Right. I should have known. Please go tell Willaby that all of the elves in our family are welcome to visit their families and they may start searching for mates if that is their choice. I’ll be available to accept bonds from females if they chose to mate at this time.” He glanced towards Hermione who was scribbling furiously on a new piece of parchment as Dobby blinked away. “What are you doing?”
“Making a list of horrible things you and Draco can do that bastard Terence Marcus the third,” Hermione muttered as she glared at her parchment. “Horrible but legal things. You should hire a private investigator to follow him. It’s too bad the Prophet has that Serpent of Truth policy thing going on because we could cause a lot of havoc if Rita still worked there.” She chewed the end of her quill. “I should find out where she’s working now and feed her some information about him. She won’t care if it’s true or not.” She turned to Theo Nott. “Doesn’t your father own part of the Wizarding London Times?”
Theo nodded, clearly stunned. “You said bastard, Granger.”
She huffed. “Keep up, Theo, Harry and Draco need our help destroying this horrible elf murdering wizard!”
“Right.” Theo nodded and pulled out a fresh piece of parchment. “You’re pretty when you’re angry, Granger, I like it. I’ll just write my Dad. He likes elves because he hates manual labor. All of our elves are treated very well, you know. They even get vacation when we can talk them into taking it.”
Hermione eyed him thoughtfully and then turned to glare at Ron. “Well? Why aren’t you looking for the twins? Because if we’re going to get revenge on this jerk we’re going to need epic level pranks, Ron. Once Draco and Harry find out where he lives—we’ll make his life a living a hell.” She turned to Daphne. “Did I see some howler parchment in your stationary compartment? Can I borrow one?”
Daphne Greengrass smirked. “Sure, Granger, are you going to get Mrs. Weasley in on this? She sends the best Howlers ever.”
“I’ve been taking pointers from her,” Hermione admitted. “I’ve really refined my volume and vehemence over the summer. I think I can handle this.”
Draco nudged Harry who was staring at his friend in shock. “You’ve created a monster, Harry.”
“Nah, I just gave her a cause. She’s been upset for weeks about S.P.E.W. Now that she realizes that liberating the house elves would kill them, she’s been looking for a new thing to rally against. Everyone needs a hobby.”
Daphne turned to Harry suddenly. “Higgs is convinced you’re going to kill him.”
Harry frowned. “I wouldn’t kill him on school property, Daphne. It wouldn’t be a proper example for the first years.”
Draco watched the whole table go completely silent. Draco grinned and sighed. “Merlin, Potter, you warm my very soul.”
Harry smirked and opened the next letter in his pile. “I think we should hire a PI to gather information on that Marcus fellow—perhaps two. One to be sneaky about it and one to be very obvious about it.”
“Why obvious?” Theo questioned.
“So he’ll get paranoid and feel threatened,” Harry muttered as he unfolded the letter in his hand. “Trust me nothing feels quite like that. He’ll be miserable for months.”
As you may know I have announced my intention to seek the office of Minister of Magic. In three weeks time, I will have my first fund raiser and it would be an honor if you would attend.
I have followed you since you began your attendance at Hogwarts and have been able to watch you play several games. Admittedly, I was surprised to see you playing in your first year but you certainly proved to be an entertaining and talented Seeker.
I had the privilege of watching your father play in my seventh year at Hogwarts. He was in his third year and like you he had a flare and unique passion for flying.
A formal invitation will follow within the week.
Harry set aside the seemingly innocent letter aside with a shaking hand and sat back in his chair, so furious that his magic shifted in him. Draco’s hand clamped down on his arm suddenly and he looked at his friend in surprise. “What?”
“Are you aware that you’re making the table shake?” Draco questioned gently.
Harry blushed furiously and took a deep breath to calm himself. “My apologies.”
Draco frowned but lifted his head. “Did someone threaten you?”
Harry shook his head and handed him the letter. He watched boredom and then fury drift over Draco’s face and relaxed even further. At least his anger didn’t feel unreasonable anymore.
“What a wanker,” Draco muttered. He tossed the letter back on Harry’s read pile with a sigh.
“He didn’t owl you?”
Draco smirked. “Of course not, Harry, I’m a blood traitor and the Victor family is as pure as they come. Twenty generations of magic but untitled. He hardly needs to do a fundraiser but candidates for the Minister of Magic can only spend a certain amount of their own money on campaigning. The rest has to come from donations. What he really wants is your endorsement so he’s willing to slum with a half-blood because you’re so famous.”
“Not bloody likely,” Harry muttered. “Do I have to endorse someone?”
“No, but it’s good politics. Most of members of the Wizengamot will endorse a candidate out of nothing more than self-interest.” Draco shrugged.
Harry sighed and pulled out a parchment. He wrote out a quick note and then turned slightly in his chair to stare at the Gryffindor tower. He picked up his wand and murmured a charm before whistling. The whistle was gentle but it resonated throughout the courtyard and Hedwig soon appeared—launching herself gracefully from the window of the tower and flying down to land on Harry’s arm.
“Hello beautiful,” Harry murmured as he stroked her head. “I need you to take a letter to Mr. Riser and you need not wait for a response.” Hedwig rubbed her beak against his hair as Harry attached the letter to her leg.
Draco watched the exchange with a small frown and sighed when the owl took flight. “You know—your owl is very strange.”
“She is not!” Harry protested.
“She is, mate,” Theo offered as he looked up from his text book. “Most wizards have to put a lot of effort and magic into creating a bond with a magical creature. It seems like you had one with that owl since you set eyes on her. Maybe it’s the wild magic thing.”
Harry played with his quill for a few seconds. “Owls are sensitive to emotions—they hate to be berated and expect to be indulged with treats when they work for you. Not to be melodramatic but Hedwig was the first magical creature I ever had any real contact with and I was fascinated by her. The night before I went to King’s Cross—I talked to her most of the night telling her basically everything I could think of about myself.” Harry shrugged when they all stared at him. “She was magic to me. The first tangible evidence of magic I’d ever gotten to touch really and it was very exciting.”
“You didn’t grow up knowing about magic?” Nott questioned, horror dawning on his face. “You’re the bloody Boy Who Lived!”
Harry laughed. “No, I didn’t know anything about the magical world before I received my letter for Hogwarts. I knew nothing. I didn’t even know how to get to the train.” He glanced towards Hermione. “I followed Ron’s family to the platform and Mrs. Weasley told me how to get through. I think she thought I was a Muggle-born. My hair was a bigger mess than it is now. Maybe she did see my scar but I don’t think she did that first time.”
“You didn’t know you were famous,” Daphne said in awe.
“Well, by that time I did. Hagrid had taken me shopping for my school things the day before and Diagon Ally had been an educational experience.” He glanced towards Draco who had the grace to blush. He laughed. “You were such a prat.”
Draco sighed. “You did look like a street urchin.”
“I bet.” Harry nodded. “I was wearing Dudley’s old clothes. In fact, the first new clothes I ever remember getting where the ones I bought for myself that day.” He opened up another letter and frowned. “Do I have an opinion about the proper thickness for cauldron bottoms?”
Draco sighed. “You’d better, Potter, it’s a serious matter. Inferior cauldrons are a dangerous problem in the potion making business and a thin bottom can result in improper heat distribution.”
“Neville is that why you keep blowing up cauldrons in Potions?” Harry asked.
Neville blushed from his place at the other end of the table where he and Luna had been silently working on their homework. “I’m just pants at potions, Harry.” He grinned when Harry laughed. “But I’m willing to consider that poorly made cauldrons are the root of my problem. It’s certainly what I plan to tell Gran when I owl her tomorrow.”
“Right.” Harry set aside the letter. “I’m sure that’s the root of my problems, too.”
Ron returned to the table with a big grin. “Fred and George are working on some pranks that can be sent via owl and stuff we can send through a floo.”
“Excellent,” Hermione said and pulled out her list which had been titled ‘How To Destroy A Lousy Elf Murdering Wizard In Twenty Menacing Steps’.
Draco snorted and flipped through several unopened letters before finding one he was interested in opening. He read through it and frowned. He glanced towards Daphne and Harry wondered what was in the letter. He didn’t have to wonder for long because Draco handed him the letter.
It is my honor to offer the hand of my youngest daughter, Astoria, in marriage. The marriage would be beneficial to both of your families. Astoria is currently attending Beauxbatons Academy of Magic but if you are interested in getting to know her before marriage—she could be transferred to Hogwarts for the next school year.
Lord Malcolm Greengrass
The House of Greengrass
“Daphne, did you owl your parents about…” Draco trailed off.
“You’re new sparkly assets?” Daphne questioned and grinned when he blushed. “Not yet, I was going to but got distracted by my valiant efforts to spread a vicious rumor about Pansy.” She propped her chin on her hand. “Why? Have they offered my sister in sacrifice?”
“Yes,” Draco said with a sigh.
She laughed. “They tried to tell me they were going to offer you me but Astoria insisted that if anyone should be Lady Malfoy—it should be her because she is as beautiful as you are.” Daphne shrugged. “I couldn’t argue with that at the time but now I’d have to say she looks like a hag compared to you.”
Draco rubbed his face. “Fine, I’m going to send your father a note telling him that I’m flattered but not interested. I would appreciate if you would send them a letter first telling them about my Veela traits so they’ll be relieved when I reject her.”
“Not a problem,” Daphne said and rummaged through her book-bag and pulled out her ink. “I can handle that. Though Mother will not be relieved. She’s been talking about a Malfoy-Greengrass wedding since she found out you ended the betrothal with Pansy after the funeral.”
“Right.” Draco sprawled back in his chair in an elegant display that made Harry want to take a bite out of him. It must have showed on his face because Malfoy smirked at him and his eyes brightened noticeably. “Don’t look at me like that, Potter, I don’t think our friends have adjusted to our new friendship enough for us to start snogging in front of them.”
“Oh, I have,” Hermione assured. “And I’m sure Daphne agrees with me.”
“I’m not ready!” Neville announced. “I need lots of time to adjust.”
The whole table burst out laughing and Harry rolled his eyes before returning to his mail.
“Harry, you need to work on your Charms essay.”
“I’ve finished all of my homework,” Harry murmured as he sorted the last ten pieces he’d received from his solicitor. The package of mail hadn’t been a surprise—they’d arranged for a weekly delivery unless the matter was urgent. “I even completed the bonus essay in Transfiguration for extra credit.” He looked up and found her staring at him in shock. “What?”
“It’s just…” She blushed. “Normally, I have to berate you for hours about your homework.”
Harry nodded. “Things are different now.”
“It isn’t like you need the money of a good job,” Ron pointed out and glanced at Harry’s piles. “Looks like you kind of already have a job, actually.”
“A powerful man is feared,” Harry began and then shrugged. “A smart man is respected. I don’t want to be feared but I can’t help that. I do, however, want to be respected. I can’t have people thinking I’m gullible or stupid.”
“Some wizards enjoy being feared,” Daphne pointed out. “Don’t you find it kind of amusing that Higgs fears you?”
“I don’t find anything about the situation with Higgs amusing,” Harry returned evenly. “Outside of Draco’s amusement that is. Terence Higgs is a bully and an idiot—I find him intolerable and I’m going to teach him a lesson he’ll remember every time he sees me for the rest of his life. That’s not about causing him fear, either.”
“Then what is it?” Hermione questioned.
“Making sure he understands the consequences of his actions. It seems to me the most damning aspect of Wizarding life is that we can do horrible things to each other and never be held accountable. Among Muggles, if you attacked someone unprovoked—say for instance if you punched them in the face—you could be charged with assault and jailed for it. In the Wizarding world, the entire adult population walks around armed and they hex each other casually without being held responsible for it.” Harry tossed aside his quill and waved his hand around. “It’s as if the magical world has little to no respect for the sanctity of life. It’s no wonder that wizards like Tom Riddle can come into power and galvanize others into discriminating against entire groups of people.”
“Tom Riddle,” Theo frowned. “Who is Tom Riddle?”
“That’s Voldemort’s real name,” Harry said evenly. “He went to school here, Theo. His father was a Muggle and his mother a witch. For all of his grandstanding and his lofty goals about a pure blood society—he’s not even one himself.”
Nott choked on his pumpkin juice. “You know what, Potter? That’s why some people fear you. How can you just say his name like that?”
“How can you not?” Harry questioned evenly. “He’s just… well he’s not even a man at this point. He’s like a snake on two legs if I’m going to be entirely honest, which is an insult to nature itself. His real power isn’t about the magic he has or the magic he uses from his own followers—it’s the fear he elicits in the people who don’t follow him that gives him his real power.” Harry played his quill as he considered his next words. “He won’t ever get that from me. I won’t fear him—not for love or money or even the threat of death.”
Draco focused on the parchment in front of him for a long minute and then said, “Voldemort.”
“Right.” Theo leaned forward and cleared his throat. “Voldemort.” He shivered slightly but smiled for his effort.
Hermione’s fingers clenched briefly, she’d had five years to have it drilled into her not to say the Dark Lord’s name. “Voldemort.”
Ron was red in the face but he closed his eyes and said it, “Vol—Voldemort.” He huffed and relaxed after he’d said it. “That’s the most horrible thing to say, Harry.”
“Only because he’s made the magical world his bitch,” Harry returned evenly. “You’re not going to let that bigoted idiot do that to you, are you? Not after what he did to Ginny.”
Ron shook his head and said it again, “Voldemort.”
“This is the oddest conversation,” Daphne exclaimed and then she took a big dramatic breath. “Voldemort is a wanker.”
Neville choked a little and his hands started to tremble. “Voldemort is a bigot.”
“Voldemort is a coward,” Harry summed up. “And we don’t fear cowards.”
* * * *
The front page of the Daily Prophet was dedicated to the announcement of the duel. On the third page, Harry found an article about the ministry’s efforts to find and force unregistered Animagus to register or face heavy fines. He knew he had until the age of twenty-five to register so he read the article only half-interested until he came to the part where they were going to start testing students at Hogwarts, especially those who had animagus in their family. He passed the article to Ron who read it with a frown on his face.
Harry glanced towards the professor’s table and wasn’t surprised to find McGonagall furious and Delores Umbridge staring at him with undisguised interest. After reading his family history, he knew that there was at least one Animagus in every generation. The likelihood that he wouldn’t be one was nearly impossible. But he was just in his fifth year and testing was supposed to be restricted to those who were in their seventh year. He figured his adult status and the state of his family magic would make him an exception. He looked over at Draco and found him looking very disgruntled.
* * * *
“They’ve both had their family magic settle so therefore they should be included in the seventh year testing,” Delores said firmly. “The spirit of the new law must be obeyed, Minerva.”
“Neither Lord Malfoy or Lord Potter have been taught the theory behind this level of transfiguration,” Minerva began, her voice as hard as steel. “The entire sixth year of Transfiguration is designed to prepare students for that level of human transfiguration, Delores. I realize you didn’t even achieve an OWL in Transfiguration but even you must remember not only how difficult the spell is but how horribly it can go wrong if it is done improperly. I will not condone experimentation on two fifteen year old boys and if the Minister of Magic doesn’t like it—he can pass another law just for the two of them. Though I can’t imagine that will serve him in his bid for re-election.”
“I will be informing the Board of Governors if your inability to do your job,” Delores responded. “The Minister, of course, may choose to interfere in this circumstance. It is dangerous for unregistered Animagus to exist and Potter’s situation is even more tenuous. He is a child with more power than he needs or even deserves—his mother was Muggle-born, for Merlin’s sake.”
Minerva glared at her. “Get out of my office, Delores, and do find something more constructive to do with your time than to tell me how to do my job.”
She sputtered and left in a huff. Minerva dropped down in her chair. After a few minutes, she called out for Dobby just to see if the elf would respond. She smiled briefly when he did.
“Yes, Mistress?” Dobby questioned, his hands tucked behind his back. “Would yous like some more cider?”
She would, actually, but she refrained from admitting it. “I need to speak with Lord Potter, Dobby.”
Dobby nodded and disappeared.
Fifteen minutes later there was a knock on her office door and Harry entered at her call. He was wearing a pair of jeans and cashmere jumper. The changes in him went much deeper than the clothes but they did remind her that he wasn’t the boy that had fidgeted in her class the year before.
“I read the article in the Prophet.” Harry sat down at her gesture to do so and Dobby appeared with a tray and a pot of cider for her. He grinned when she flushed. “We figured you might like it.”
She nodded and they both let Dobby handle the pouring. “Delores was just in my office. I need you to be prepared for the possibility that the Ministry might force you to be tested as an Animagus because of your family history, no matter how beneficial it might be for you to keep that a secret in the coming war.” She accepted the cake from Dobby with a small smile. “Thank you Dobby.”
“I know there is a spell that can be used against an Animagus to force a transformation,” Harry stared into his tea briefly. “But how can they justify that when I haven’t been taught the theory and I’m only fifteen? The law requires registration by twenty-five and even if I don’t register—I can only be fined and registered. It isn’t like they can arrest me for it.”
“Your Family magic settled and you’re legally an adult—that’s how they’ll justify testing you.” Minerva stood and went to a bookshelf. She pulled a book off and brought it back to her desk. She placed it in front of him. “This book will outline the theory on the transfiguration. Additionally, it will teach you the spell that forces the transformation. You have a great deal of power, Harry. I doubt anyone could force you to change your form if you put your mind to preventing it.”
Harry nodded. “Dobby, ward the door and then stand outside to guard for listeners.” Dobby popped away with an abrupt nod. He set aside his tea and stood up. “I think you should see something.”
Harry closed his eyes and let go—the transformation seemed to be smoother and more fun each time he did it. To her credit, she didn’t squeak, but she set aside her cider and walked around her desk to view him. “Fascinating, Harry, just fascinating. Did Sirius instruct you?”
Harry shifted back into his human form easily and resumed his seat. “He was there when I tried the first time but I really had no problems doing it—I was afraid of it at first but it was very easy after I let go of the fear. I’m not sure I want anyone knowing about it—not after how people reacted to me being a Parselmouth.”
Minerva nodded and her wand appeared in her hand. “Perhaps, we should test your natural defenses against the revealing spell. I’ll be frank, I do not like casting this spell—it’s a disgusting thing to have someone’s inner nature revealed to the masses against their will. I had someone do it to me when I was younger and I never forgave them for it.”
“It’s okay,” Harry murmured and nodded his consent.
He watched her wand movements and felt the swish of magic drift over his body. He stiffened when she murmured the words aperio animus and while there was a small urge to shift—a gentle persistent desire to shift, but he pushed it away and opened his eyes after a few seconds. “I can feel it but it’s not overwhelming.”
Minerva put her wand away. “Much the same way you’ve proven to be immune to the Imperius Curse. It is fortunate news. Please take the book, however, and review the material closely. Also, share it with Lord Malfoy. I’m sure he’s studying on his own and but his Veela traits may have obliterated any chances he had of becoming an Animagus.”
Harry frowned. “Did Umbridge give Ginny that potion?”
“There is no way to know,” Minerva said, her tone completely level. “However, the potion is rare and expensive. She didn’t buy it on her own and she certainly didn’t get it from the potion’s storage. Severus would never keep something so dangerous on school grounds.”
“No, I can’t see how he would.” Harry frowned. “Umbridge has an agenda—far more than she’s been able to reveal.”
“She’s certainly irritated by her lack of access to you. She complained about your removal from her class but there is little she could do about it. I don’t know why Fudge put her in the school but it’s obviously her goal to expose or undermine you in some fashion. Especially after what happened over the summer. They never expected you to openly defy Minister Fudge and prove that the Dark Lord had returned.”
“I’m surprised she hasn’t tried to accuse me of being dark.”
Minerva laughed briefly before schooling her feature into the serious face Harry remembered seeing the night he was sorted. “They dare not accuse you of anything, Harry. You’ve proven you’ll give certified testimony through the dverger if they try anything so foolish as that. However, that doesn’t mean she couldn’t find out something about you and twist it to her own fashion.”
“She could try,” Harry conceded. “But she might have a hard time getting a newspaper to print lies about me now that I’ve come into my lordship. I’m not above suing to protect my name from slanderous accusations—something my lawyer has made clear to every major paper in Europe. I sent them all letters pointing out the outright lies they’d told about me in the past and informed them if it continued I would make them pay for it.”
* * * *
The duel was one hour away and Harry was viewing his wardrobe somewhat critically. He’d told Higgs privately through a messenger that he wouldn’t be wearing his school uniform and the older boy had sent back a note agreeing that it wouldn’t be appropriate to do so. Sirius was sprawled on his bed behind him watching the process in amused silence.
“The green or the blue for my robes?”
“The green. You look smashing in the green,” Sirius surmised. “And it will make Higgs irritated to see you in his house colors.”
Harry laughed and out the dark green robe. It wasn’t meant to be closed and it would hang well on his shoulders. Draco always drooled a little when he wore it. He picked out plain black silk shirt, and a dragon hide vest to wear with the charcoal grey slacks he already had on and picked out a matching belt from the rack. “Do you think this is a mistake?”
“No, even if you lose, and I don’t think you will, people will think twice about hurting your Heir. It’s your duty and your responsibility to see to his welfare much like it’s mine to see after you.” Sirius grinned. “If this Higgs boy gets out of line with you—I’m going to look forward to calling his father out for the insult of it.”
“And that’s how family feuds start,” Harry surmised. He glanced up as he pulled on his robes and watched Draco stroll into his bedroom. “Crowded down there?”
Draco inclined his head and looked Harry over with a frown. “You look too good to duel, Potter.”
“I’m going to for richer, more powerful, and better looking than Higgs,” Harry informed him blithely.
“Mission accomplished,” Draco said with a small laugh. He leaned against the bedpost and frowned. “I don’t like not being your second.”
Harry glanced at him briefly as he slipped his wand into his sleeve. Mehen shifted and secured the wand with a curl of his tail. It was the most comfortable way to carry his wand and he’d been pleased when Mehen had suggested it. The small metal companion had trained with him until his wand would appear in his hand in under a second. He put his watch on his left wrist.
“Professor McGonagall won’t let anything happen to me, Dragon.”
Sirius hopped up and cleared his throat noisily. “I’m going to scare some first years and tease Severus for a bit before things get started.”
Harry said nothing as his Godfather strolled out of his bedroom and then he turned to Draco. “Everything will be fine.”
Draco shrugged and looked away. “I can’t foresee a circumstance where I’m going to be comfortable with you fighting without me right beside you. It’s stupid that we’ve been reduced to this—sometimes I miss arguing with you and plotting against you.”
Harry grinned. “I can say the same. School isn’t quite as interesting without an arch nemesis stalking me in the halls.” He reached out and hooked his hand around Draco’s neck. He pulled him close with a small pleased sound. “I love the way you feel against me—the way you smell, the way you taste.” He brushed his mouth over Draco’s and Malfoy slid his hands around Harry’s waist in surrender. “You really do it for me, Dragon.”
The kissed for a few minutes—helplessly drawn together and enthralled by the passion that burned between them. Draco pulled away with a small moan. “Don’t let that bastard hurt you, Harry. I’ll be pissed.”
Harry laughed. “So will Madame Pomfrey.”
“Your personal Healer arrived about twenty minutes ago with Mr. Riser,” Draco pointed out. “He’s not at all pleased with you doing this apparently.”
“I did get a note from him telling me I was foolish for risking magical exhaustion no matter the circumstances. I’m sure he’ll be a complete mother hen after the fact.” Harry ran his fingers through Draco’s unbound hair and leaned in for another kiss.
“Oy! My eyes!” They turned and found Ron standing in the doorway with his hands over his face. “You’ve blinded me!”
Harry laughed. “Knock it off, Ron.”
The red head grinned and dropped his hands. He shoved his hands into his pockets and blew out a breath. “McGonagall is downstairs. She wants to meet with you before the duel.”
“Right.” Harry stepped back from Draco and let his fingers slip out of Malfoy’s hair. “I believe Headmaster Dumbledore has set some rules for us to follow because we are on school property.”
* * * *
The Headmaster’s office was quite crowded when Harry and McGonagall entered. He took one of the chairs that had obviously been placed for him and his second. Higgs and Snape were sitting across from them in another pair of chairs. Sirius and Higgs, Sr. were standing at the back of the room near the closed floo.
Dumbledore cleared his throat. “We will use the rules of a Gentlemen’s Duel. Professor Stone will act as the judge and he may call the duel when the winner is assured. Professors Snape and McGonagall will be the only other wizards in the hall able to draw their wands during the course of the duel. They are there, gentlemen, to assure things do not get out of hand. Of course, the Unforgiveables are not allowed and casting one will result in a lifelong prison term.”
Harry watched Higgs absorb that information. He wasn’t really worried that the Slytherin would make a mistake like that in public. He crossed his legs and settle back in his chair—completely relaxed while Higgs seemed about to pop out of his skin. “I understand, Headmaster.”
Higgs nodded. “As do I.”
“Spells, hexes, or curses that will permanently disable your opponent are forbidden by the rules of the Gentlemen’s Duel. Both Professor Snape and Professor McGonagall have permission to respond to such actions with equal measure—be assured, gentlemen, if you sever a limb or blind your opponent permanently—it will be delivered on you without remorse.”
Higgs paled and Harry nodded. They both quietly claimed that they understood but Harry saw Higgs glanced towards his father more than once for assurances and direction.
“I would like to renew my protest that Potter is too young for this,” Terence said firmly. “He simply has no idea what he’s getting into.”
“Nonsense,” Sirius responded from his place leaning by the floo. He grinned, dangerous and as malicious as any Death Eater ever born. “Harry dueled with me every day for two weeks in August. We destroyed three rooms in his manor and went through a whole bottle of skele-grow between us.”
Harry didn’t laugh but he wanted to. It was true—Sirius had been instrumental in helping him gain control of the ancestral magic that settled on him in August. Healer Daniels had spent the last two weeks of August in a perpetual state of fury over the spell damage they heaped on each other.
Higgs swallowed hard and his father paled slightly.
Harry picked a piece of lint off his robe and flicked it away casually. “Relax, Mr. Higgs, I have no intention of killing your only son in front of the entire school. As I explained to someone else it would set a poor example for the first years and I’m entirely certain Headmaster Dumbledore’s eyes would stop twinkling for an hour or more. That event alone could set me off my stride for the rest of the year.”
Fawkes left his perch and glided across to room to land in Harry’s lap. “He’ll burn soon.” He stroked on the bright feathers in the bird’s chest. Fawkes sang to him and then lifted way leaving a feather behind. Harry blinked in surprise at the feather and picked it up carefully. “Thank you, Fawkes.”
The phoenix sang brightly at him and then buried his head against his wing and turned his back on the room.
Sirius came to him and presented a swathe of bright blue silk. Harry wrapped the feather carefully and looked at Dumbledore for direction.
“When a phoenix gives a feather, much like when a phoenix cries for a wizard, there is a purpose for it. The core of your wand is a phoenix, Fawkes’s feather as a matter of a fact.” Albus inclined his head. “Perhaps he is telling that you will need a new wand in the future or something else. Only time will tell.”
Harry nodded. “Dobby.”
His vassal appeared immediately and seemed to recognize in an instant that he situation called for a formality. “My Lord Potter.” He bowed at the waist.
Harry held out the feather to him, still wrapped in blue silk. “Put this in my personal vault at Gringotts, Dobby. Request Ragnok for the transaction. If he asks to see what you carry—you may show him but no one can touch it directly.”
“Dobby understands, my Lord.” Dobby took the folded silk and his hands trembled briefly before he blinked away without another word.
Professor Stone was an imposing man and his place in the center of the dueling stage settled Harry. The minister and his reporter were on the front row of the audience and he really didn’t want to be involved with the man after it was over. He hoped that Higgs managed to injure him enough to get him taken to the infirmary after the duel.
“Silence!” Stone shouted. He pointed to the glowing marks on the stage and Harry put his right foot on the mark. Higgs took his place with a well practiced sneer. The audience shifted in their chairs. “Wands out.” Stone ordered. Harry loved the feel of the wand sliding up over his wrist and into his hand—no matter how fast it actually was—the sensation was slick and sexy. Stone stepped off the stage and Higgs shifted forward on his feet. “Begin!”
Higgs sent a stinging hex that slashed across his chest but Harry didn’t blink. The hide of his vest absorbed most of it. He pushed the small flash of pain aside without making a sound and then threw one back at Higgs that made the older boy scream and then lunge forward with a furious shout.
Harry blinked in surprise as the snake poured out of the older boy’s wand—aware that he’d actually said the spell incorrectly—he hadn’t conjured a snake. He had summoned one. The cobra rose up on the stage and hissed at Harry as he cast a stunner that Higgs dodged.
“Accio cobra!” Harry shouted and the snake flew to him. He caught it without hesitation and it coiled around his left wrist and struck out at Higgs with a vicious hiss. “Avis!” Three ravens flew out of Harry’s wand, causing Higgs to duck and turn his back briefly on him. Harry rolled his eyes and threw a strong, malicious stinging hex at the boy for being an idiot.
Higgs fell briefly to his knees, but rolled quickly and threw a cutting hex that hit his cheek—causing a shallow but painful slash. Harry casually tossed the snake at Draco. Malfoy caught it without hesitation and the cobra curled around his arm without trying to bite. Harry wiped at his cheek as he cast a shielding charm.
“First blood to you then, Higgs.”
Higgs smirked and bowed before casting again. “Sectumsempra!”
The hex hit Harry’s shield and it burned away but it was strong enough to keep the curse from actually hit him. He knew that curse because Sirius had taught it to him—it was nasty and vicious. He threw three stunning hexes at the older boy that had him dodging around the stage like a badly coordinated dancer. The boy turned and shouted, “Aperio animus!”
Harry let the spell flow over him and the urge to shift was there—but Higgs was nowhere near as powerful as Minerva and he threw it off within a few seconds. He caught Terence in the side with a stinging hex, putting enough power in it that he screamed and then suddenly Harry was done. It just wasn’t in him to torture another human being.
He caught Terrence with a sticking charm on his feet. The older boy turned but before he could cast, Harry threw up a shield with his left hand and shouted, “Reducto!” The curse hit Higg’s wand arm and the sound of the bones crushing in his lower arm was audible in the near silent room. “Expelliarmus!”
Higgs fell to his knees on the stage, moaning softly in pain, his eyes dark with pain and fury as Harry caught his wand.
Stone stepped onto the stage between them. “I call this duel settled. Lord Potter is the undisputed victor.” He held out his hand and Harry handed him Higgs’s wand without hesitating. “My Lord, do you consider this matter settled?”
“I do. Nothing further ever be said or done.” Harry bowed formally and let his wand slide back into his sleeve.
The ward around the room lifted as Harry stepped down off the stage and Draco stood, the snake was coiling gently around his friend’s wrist in a way that was beguiling and affectionate.
Harry reached out and stroked the cobra’s head. In Parseltongue, he spoke, “I apologize that you were jerked from your home and made to be here today against your will.”
The snaked shifted up and his head flared. People around them backed off and dimly Harry could hear Delores Umbridge demanding that someone banish the snake. “We can’t banish a living creature without cause,” Harry snapped and stared hard at the woman. “In case you missed it, Professor, Mr. Higgs didn’t conjure a snake, he summoned one. Considering the species isn’t native to England I would say he stole someone’s pet or he was taken from a potions lab within a hundred miles of the school.”
Umbridge flushed with fury because people all around were nodding their agreement. “You threw a real snake at a fellow student? Headmaster Dumbledore, he attempted to kill Lord Malfoy right in front of you!”
“I did no such thing,” Harry returned dryly. “Draco is one of the few people in the room that I knew could handle the snake and it would have been a gross act of cruelty to kill or banish the snake. The only other person I could have given him to in the room was Professor Snape and he was busy.”
The cobra stirred and then left Draco’s arm to curl around Harry’s wrist next to Mehen. It hissed at Harry, “We are kindred.”
Harry inclined his head and responded, “Yes.” People around him shuddered slightly as he hissed at the snake. He glanced at the stage, not surprised to find that Higgs had already been taken from the room. He turned to Dumbledore, “Headmaster, with your permission, I will take the snake to the potions lab and we’ll create a living space for him until we can find his owner.”
“Of course, Harry.” Albus waved him away, cheerfully ignoring Delores.
Ron, Hermione, Draco, Theo, and Neville followed him out of the hall. They were all silent as they went down into the dungeon. Hermione and Draco worked together to create a large glass enclosure for the snake on a side work table while Neville, Ron, and Theo worked out a suitable sand to line the box with.
Harry stroked the snake gently. “Are you hungry?”
“Will you tell me where you came from?”
“Not good place, I will stay here with the magical children.”
Harry laughed and let the snake go into the glass enclosure. “He wishes to stay with the magical children and he’s hungry.” They settled a heavy-duty screen over the cage. “Well, he’s a gorgeous beast—quite fitting I believe for this part of the castle.” He withdrew his wand and cast several heating charms on the glass tank to give the snake the proper environment. “We should let the first years name him.”
“He doesn’t already have a name?” Hermione questioned—leaning in to look at the snake now that it was safe.
“No, not like we do. Their world is just very different from ours.” Harry’s thumb drifted over Mehen on his wrist. “Snakes are…honest and not particularly interested in humans for the most part. They’re very single minded, more selfish than you’d even expect, but cunning and they have a dry humor.” He grinned. “Kind of like Draco.”
“Fuck you, Potter.” Draco didn’t even glance at him as he held a wiggling mouse over the cage. “Why should the first years get to name him? You threw him at me… I think should get to name him.”
Harry shrugged and then smiled indulgently. “Okay, you name him.”
“Obviously we should call him Salazar.” He grinned when Harry laughed.
Hermione transfigured a gold plate with the name Salazar on it and they affixed it to the cage before the snake snatched the mouse from Draco’s fingers and Hermione screamed in horror as it swallowed it whole and alive.
“Gross.” Hermione shuddered and turned away. “I’m glad I already ate lunch.”
“Lord Potter!” Healer Daniels appeared in the doorway, clearly flustered.
“Adam.” Harry smiled and waved. “Didn’t you go to Hogwarts?”
“Yes, my Lord.” Adam glanced around the potions room. “I was a Slytherin myself, you know.”
“I have long suspected—when you lecture you sound specifically like Professor Snape sometimes.” He grinned when the Healer blushed. “Especially that tone he gets when he’s really irritated and says my name like it has extra syllables.”
Adam inclined his head, glared briefly, and motioned Harry to follow. “Come, you’ll need to be examined in private.”
“You can use my rooms. I have an entrance in the hall outside of the Slytherin rooms.” Draco motioned them to follow. A portrait swung open for him without him saying a word and he ushered them into an elegantly appointed suite.
Harry allowed Adam to prod him into Draco’s bedroom and the door was shut. “I’m fine, you know.”
“You extended a great deal of magical energy.” Adam withdrew his wand and motioned Harry to take a seat. “Some of it wandless. I didn’t know you could do that.”
“It comes and goes,” Harry admitted. “I don’t always… some of it is just instinct. Shields, cushioning charms, levitation, and summoning objects across the room.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Shield charms are a lot more work with the wand than without.”
Adam nodded and continued to cast charms. “I want you to take an extra nutrient potion but you seem to be in good shape.” He cleaned and healed the cut on Harry’s face with quick flick of his wand. “How are you sleeping now that the curse damage has been cleared up?”
“I’m good,” Harry murmured. “Better than I have been in the last few years actually. I don’t think I realized how little sleep I got until it was over. Though I admit I sleep better when I can talk Draco into snuggling with me.” He blushed when Adam laughed. “Which admittedly doesn’t happen often—he’s such a Slytherin.”
“Well, if anyone would know to snuggle with a snake it would be you.” Adam cast another charm and sighed at the results. “Let’s talk about some exercise again and flying around on a broom isn’t going to cut it. You need to build up some muscle mass—you’re doing well for the time we’ve had to work on this but I’d like to see you lifting weights and running.”
Harry sighed. “Right. I’ll work on it. I’m sure Dobby will have the way of it. I suppose they make magical weight benches or something?”
Adam agreed. “Dobby will take care of it—we’ll use a few potions as well. Nothing that will build artificial muscle but something that will encourage muscle growth safely and I’d like you to increase your caloric intake for awhile to get some weight on you. Swimming would be good.”
“I have a pool at the manor but nothing…” He frowned. “I wonder if the Room of Requirement could provide a pool?”
“I don’t see why not, the Room is nothing less than a magical miracle,” Adam said ruefully.
* * * *
Fudge was waiting with the reporter from the Daily Prophet when they came back upstairs. The dueling stage had been removed and the tables were back in place for dinner. Harry was pleased to see she didn’t have a one of those automated quills like Rita had favored. He hated those things and was glad to see that the changes they’d enforced on the staff of the paper were going in the right direction.
“Lord Potter,” Fudge said with a broad grin as if he was using Harry’s title to humor him. “This Matilda Finch with the Daily Prophet.”
“Madame,” Harry inclined his head and his gaze dropped to the pendant she wore—it was a stylized version of the company logo they’d designed for Serpent & Dragon, Inc. A silver dragon and a jade green snake twined together.
She touched her jewelry. “The Serpent of Truth and the Dragon of Retribution.”
He almost laughed. “I see. It’s nice to know that the Daily Prophet will be focusing on the truth in the future. The days ahead require level heads and honesty.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” Fudge said broadly and Harry fought the urge to roll his eyes. “I was telling Ms. Finch that you would be thrilled to give her an interview.”
“Actually, I wouldn’t,” Harry returned dryly. “I’ve had a full day and I’m quite exhausted. I hope that isn’t a problem, Ms. Finch.”
“No, of course not, Lord Potter. May I ask two questions?”
“Two questions,” Harry agreed.
“Why did you challenge Terence Higgs to a duel?”
“He endangered the life of my Heir, an underage wizard, with a foolish and ill-timed prank.” Harry lifted an eyebrow. “And your second question?”
“Are you involved with Draco Malfoy romantically?”
Harry blushed. It was certainly a very pointed and direct question. “My relationship with Lord Malfoy is complicated. We share a unique bond—we’ve both had a parent sacrifice themselves for the Light and die at the hands of Voldemort.”
“So you do have a relationship with Lord Malfoy?”
“That, Ms. Finch, is question number three.” He gave her a short bow and with a quick smile left her and the Minister in the entryway of the hall.
Harry didn’t figure he’d escaped the Minister that easy so he wasn’t surprised to see him in the dining hall for dinner but the reporter was gone. That meant whatever Fudge had planned next that he didn’t want the Finch woman around to write about it.
Several people in Gryffindor were looking at him like he was crazy but that wasn’t much of a surprise. The Parselmouth thing had been a stumbling block for him since second year and he really didn’t see it going away. It made him furious, in more than one way, because it made him ashamed of his Animagus form on some level. He hated that and part of him hated them for making him feel like a freak—more of a freak than the Dursley’s had ever been able to accomplish.
He focused on his food and tried to smile when Sirius scooted in next to him and made a few of the first years go pale. That probably wasn’t going to get old and from Sirius’ truly devious smile he figured his godfather agreed. He made sure to eat lots of protein and when Dobby appeared with a cup of liquid—Harry drank it without pausing. He held onto the cup and handed it back to Dobby when the elf returned. He didn’t want anyone at the table checking it out or accidently reusing it.
After dinner, he was herded back into Dumbledore’s office and Sirius had come along. He’d immediately picked out the most comfortable chair in the room where he pulled out a cigar he claimed came from Cuba and lit it with his wand. Fudge had glared at him briefly but had quickly averted his gaze when Sirius quirked an eyebrow at him and then slowly winked.
Harry had been able to keep from laughing but it had been a near thing. He settled in the same chair he’d sat in before the duel and crossed his legs. He wanted to run screaming from the room but that wasn’t very adult of him.
“Now, Harry, in a few weeks there will be several events that the Wizengamot members are expected to attend.”
“You mean fund raising events for your election campaign,” Harry translated. “I wasn’t aware that the members of the Wizengamot members were required to attend such events for the incumbent Minister of Magic. It doesn’t seem… fair to the other candidates if that is true.” Harry watched the man sputter. “I was invited to Godric’s Hollow recently but I declined the invitation through my solicitor. If you would like me to attend any political fundraisers, Minister, you’ll have to go through Mr. Riser’s law firm. He’s simply in a better position to determine what is in my best interest politically. Additionally, I’d want to speak with my account manager at Gringotts concerning my financial concerns.”
“I am expecting your full support, Lord Potter.”
“Are you?” Harry asked. “Perhaps if you’d proven yourself a good and honest man in the past you’d have the right to expect that. You ignored me in my third year when I told you that Peter Pettigrew was alive. If you hadn’t ignored me then—I have to wonder if Pettigrew would have still been at large and in a position to help Voldemort resurrect himself when I was kidnapped. I guess we’ll never know.” Harry raised an eyebrow when Fudge started to protest. “But perhaps I can overlook that—I mean I was a child, right? A lonely child with a bad home life who desperately wanted to reclaim some small bit of family? But what could possibly explain you going out of your way to tell everyone from here to Paris that I was a liar and mentally ill when I said that Voldemort had returned, when you knew I was being honest. After all, you had Aurors interrogate me like a criminal for hours over that very subject.”
Fudge flushed. “I was afraid and I didn’t want to believe you, Harry, surely you understand that.”
“You fear Voldemort?” Harry questioned then nodded. “Many people in my life fear that monster but they don’t mistreat children and paint them in the press as psychotic. It makes me worry about you, Minister Fudge. If you would prey on a child and use a person like Delores Umbridge to spy on a school because of your fear—just what else would you do to pacify that fear? Would you stand in the face of Voldemort and tell him no not once but three times? Would you sacrifice your life for another? Do you love anyone but yourself, Minister Fudge? How much do you allow your fear to rule you?”
“I was never tempted by the Dark—not when he came the first time and I won’t be tempted now. You don’t understand what it was like the first time, however, you were just a baby.”
“Fear is debilitating, Minister Fudge. It makes you weak and ineffectual. So to answer your unspoken question, no, I will not endorse you politically. I will not support you publically. A war is coming and men like you aren’t strong enough to do what must be done to protect the public or really even themselves. You’d be better served retiring from public life and hoping that when Voldemort does reclaim his power base that an ex-Minister of Magic is the least of his concerns.” Harry stood and smoothed his hands down his robes. “I won’t endorse anyone in the incoming election, Minister Fudge. Let’s see how you do on your own merits. If you attempt to use my name or my reputation for your own gain—I will find someone to endorse so quickly your head will spin.”
Fudge glared at him. “Do you think I can’t compel your support?”
“I think you’d be an idiot to try but then you’ve already proven yourself quite foolish when it comes to me,” Harry replied evenly. “What you would do good to remember, Minister, is that I’m fifteen years old and I’ve stood in front of Voldemort not once but four times only to walk away from it relatively unharmed.” He stroked a finger over his curse scar. “Do you want to know how?”
“Everyone wants to know,” Fudge snapped and then flushed, furious.
“I don’t fear him. Tom Riddle has my pity and my hatred—but the last thing he’ll ever get is my fear. To quote a famous Muggle author, fear is a mind killer.”
* * * *
Draco had delivered a small note to him from Snape after he’d left the Headmaster’s office. They walked down to the dungeons together—walking as close as they ever allowed in public despite the rumors of their relationship.
“Fudge was a prat?”
Harry laughed. “Yes. He told me he expected my support for Minister and when I told him no—he grew quite upset. I told him I wouldn’t endorse anyone at all unless he does something stupid like use my name to further himself.”
He quickly found himself in the potions lab where they’d set up Salazar’s cage. Snape was at his own work station with a large cauldron burning on a low flame. He motioned them forward and eyed Draco briefly. “Potter, I need to ask you some questions about the potions that Daniels left. Are you comfortable answering those questions in front of Draco?”
Harry nodded. “Sure.”
“The nutrient potion he’s prescribing to you is extremely potent,” Snape began. “You’ve been on it for far longer than most Healers would allow. Is this related to the ceremony we participated in August?”
“No, though that ceremony did tax my body heavily as you know,” Harry admitted. He pulled his wand and flicked the doors shut in the room and put a heavy privacy charm on it. “Sir, if you would ward the room for privacy, I would appreciate it. Rita is an unregistered animagus—a beetle so please keep that in mind when you cast the ward.”
Snape withdrew his wand and did as instructed. “Done. I assume you have the ability to cast such wards.”
“This is your space and you are in a better position to understand what is required,” Harry murmured. He sat down on the stool that Draco provided and waited until Malfoy had settled beside him. “You might have noticed that I’ve gone through a growth spurt in the past few months. It was medically induced—Healer Daniels has been working to undo years of malnutrition and physical abuse at the hands of my Muggle relatives.”
Snape’s gaze narrowed. “Petunia allowed her husband to abuse you?”
“Yes, and she paid for it. She had a small amount of magic herself—nothing to speak of in the scheme of things but she was not quite a squib. When I claimed my title, her magic left her and I had to put her in a clinic to have her treated for the damage left behind as a result.” Harry shrugged. “Daniels wants to keep me on that nutrient potion for at least a year and then do quarterly boosters for another year after that. My bones, organs, and bones were damaged by the habitual starvation. Often, I was fortunate to get a small meal every day when I lived with my aunt.”
Snape’s lips pressed together. “Why didn’t you say?”
“I grew up with bullies, Professor. My uncle, my cousin, and my cousin’s friends—the first thing I learned is not to expose myself to someone with the power and the desire to make me miserable. I’m entirely certain you hated me on sight. I really didn’t think you’d believe me.”
“I don’t hate you, Potter,” Snape frowned at him. “I had made assumptions about you and you were a reminder of the friendships that I lost.” He checked his cauldron. “How is the nutrient potion working for you?”
“Adam seems pleased with the results. He has my permission to consult with you about the potion itself but he did make an unbreakable vow regarding the rest of my medical information.”
“His Healer’s Oath wasn’t enough for you?” Severus questioned coolly.
“I have had adults abuse my trust for as long as I could remember,” Harry said as he stroked his fingers along Mehen’s body. “My life hasn’t been my own—not when I lived with the Dursleys and certainly not for the first four years I attended school here. Fudge just spent half an hour trying to manipulate me into supporting him for re-election—like he didn’t spend the first two months of the summer telling everyone who would listen that I was crazy and a liar.”
Snape snorted and picked up his stirrer to work with the potion in front of him. “I will speak with Daniels regarding the potions he has prescribed. Does he have permission to discuss his goals regarding the different potions?”
“I will give it to him,” Harry murmured and then slipped off the stool. “Was there anything else?”
Snape’s mouth tightened again. “Does Dumbledore know about your relatives?”
“I told him this summer. It was all I could do to keep him from killing my Uncle.”
* * * *
Draco was sprawled elegantly on a large couch in the Slytherin common room when Higgs returned from the infirmary. The older boy glared openly at him and people around the room stilled.
“The difference between Potter and myself is that he wasn’t interested in maiming you…” Malfoy murmured. “He also wasn’t taught to fight at my father’s knee, Terence. Whatever you have on your mind—you should reflect on that first before you draw your wand.”
“You’re a blood traitor,” Higgs seethed. “Just like Longbottom and the Weasleys and any other pure blood that kisses Potter’s ass.”
Malfoy threw an arm over the back of the couch. “It could be argued, Higgs, that I’m not a pure blood. My father didn’t care about those things, you know, how could he? He was married to a woman with Veela blood and he knew before they ever married. Lucius enjoyed power and perhaps he was dramatic enough to enjoy being feared by people he found inferior.” He sneered as he inspected Terence. “And I assure you—he found your entire family inferior regardless of your dubious blood status. After all, you only claimed four generations of ancestral magic when you came of age.”
* * * *
“Wizards and witches who share blood create a pool of magic that endures even after members of the family die. Some people say that ancestral magic is sentient but the theories differ wildly on that subject.” Draco leaned against the desk in front of the class as he spoke. “Most of you will come into your magical inheritance in your seventeenth year. You shouldn’t think of it like a pool of energy that must be shared by a family—it isn’t diluted if a family is large but rather expands exponentially with families like the Weasleys—who have connections with most of the other pure blood families in magical Britain.”
Hermione raised her hand and then flushed when Draco laughed. He nodded and she leaned forward. “So, my magical blood connects me to other wizards and witches if we share an ancestor?”
“Yes,” Draco nodded. “For instance—I received my Malfoy ancestral magic when I claimed my father’s title. Ancestral or blood magic is the most powerful of all the magic that we as magical beings can wield. I am the Patriarch of my family which gives me ritual powers over my entire family—I can make blood oaths on behalf of every witch or wizard that shares my ancestral magic. This is why many entire families become heavily involved in the same causes. Making a blood oath on behalf of an entire family can be dangerous for the Patriarch which is why most Death Eaters have never made the mistake of trying to commit their entire family to Voldemort.”
“Because it would damage their magic?” Hermione questioned.
“Because if one member of their family attempted to violate such an oath—it could weaken the well of their ancestral magic in the backlash. While individuals within the family wouldn’t lose their magic—the oath breaker would lose theirs.”
“What is in this well?” A Hufflepuff Muggle-born that Draco had never spoken with questioned.
“Gifts—magical gifts such as being a Parselmouth, an Animagus, wild magic in older families, and the talents for such things as potion brewing, transfiguration, and charms. We carry this connection to ancestral magic in our bodies from birth—it’s in our blood,” Draco responded. “I think Muggles use something called DNA to analyze their blood heritage. We have charms and spells that we can use to define how ancestral magic influences us.”
Hermione hesitated to raise her hand again but smiled when Draco nodded. “What happens when a person is disowned?”
“Disowning someone is an extremely involved process and is ritualized to the point of being almost absurd,” Draco admitted. “It’s difficult because the decision to excise someone from an ancestral magic well requires a great deal of thought and shouldn’t be done in the heat of the moment. In fact, it’s impossible to perform the ritual if you’re angry. The magic requires a clear mind and a calm disposition.”
“I met your uncle and cousins—you all kind of look alike.”
Draco grinned. “Familiar traits such as hair color tend to be passed along. The Weasleys and the Malfoys are prime examples of this in pure blood families. Our own Lord Potter is another example, as he looks a great deal like his father. The surprising factor is, of course, that he has his mother’s eyes. Lily Evans Potter had to be an extremely powerful witch to pass on such a trait to her only child. The Potters have fifteen generations of ancestral magic and they are loosely connected to most of the pure blood families in Scotland and Great Britain. Potter and I share familial connections by marriage through the Black family and the Malfoy’s are connected through the Black’s to the Weasley family as well.”
Kevin Wesley leaned forward. “Lord Malfoy, what does that mean for us that don’t… have family?”
Draco’s face softened slightly. “The fact is, Kevin, that even though you don’t have any immediate family that the Ministry could find for you to live with… magical children, especially children as magical as you just don’t appear out of thin air. Your parents were a witch and a wizard and you have ancestral magic inside you—in your blood waiting until you reach your majority so it can settle on you.”
“My mum’s or my dad’s?” Kevin questioned softly.
“Well, let’s look at two people in the room as an example.” Draco looked at Harry who nodded and pushed away from the wall.
Harry shrugged out of his robe and put it on the table Draco had been leaning against. Malfoy grinned.
“Okay, as many of you might have noticed, Harry has changed quite a bit since his ancestral magic settled. On his father’s side, he claimed fifteen generations of ancestral magic—as many of the older kids in the room had demonstrated for them—Harry is a Parselmouth. He’s always been one. These innate gifts are settled on an individual long before they come into their magical inheritance. Potters are a Light family so it’s always been quite scandalous that they are Parselmouths. He came into his ancestral magic early because he claimed his father’s title and the duties of his title required it and like you, Kevin, he has no immediate family. His Heir is several times removed.”
Harry didn’t blink when Draco pulled his wand. “What will you cast?”
“A really simple paternity charm,” Draco murmured. “Ostendo abbatis!”
Draco’s magic shifted over him and started to glow—and then gold writing started to appear in the air around him and he saw the Potter Family tree displayed. He reached out and touched his father’s name with trembling fingers and laughed softly. “Sometimes, magic breaks my heart you know.”
Draco blinked at him in surprise. “Harry…”
“No, it’s okay.” Harry smiled but his eyes were bright with unshed tears. His fingers drifted over the smokey gold ink of his mother’s name. “How can I see more about her? There is nothing in the family grimoire about her beyond the basic details.”
Draco frowned intensely. “No one has ever done this for you before?”
“No.” Harry shook his head.
“Ostendo genetrix!” Draco flicked his wand gently and the spell changed. “Your mother, my Lord Potter.”
Harry blinked in surprise as his gaze flicked up over the family tree and he choked on his surprise. He looked at Draco who was suspiciously more pale than he’d ever seen his friend and lover ever be. “Is that what I think it is?”
“Yes, it is.” Draco swallowed. “Merlin, Potter, if I wasn’t completely mad for you I’d be furious right now.”
Everyone in the classroom started laughing.
Harry bit down on his lip and then gently touched the names of Godric Gryffindor and then Salazar Slytherin with a reverent look on his face. “Perhaps this is why the Sorting Hat let me chose.” He winced at people all over the room gasped. “Oops.”
“What do you mean let you chose?” Ron demanded. “Harry! You never told us it let you chose your house.”
Harry shrugged. “Ron, can you lecture me later? Right now I’m still trying to get my head around the idea that one of my ancestors married a Slytherin and had babies!”
Ron laughed and Draco glared.
“So, what does this mean?”
“It means that you’re the Heir of Godric Gryffindor,” Draco muttered dryly. “And a descendent but not the Heir of Slytherin—as it must be passed down through the male line and you descend from his daughter not his son. You should do a formal inheritance ritual at Gringotts soon so you can claim the Gryffindor legacy. He wasn’t titled but it’s an extreme honor.” Draco used his wand to trace the path on the family tree. “Oh, sorry about spreading that vicious and obviously untrue rumor about you second year.”
Harry sighed. “You bastard.”
Draco grinned and then sobered. “The reason Harry’s family trees are gold is because he is currently the last of his blood line. His Heir is so distantly related to him to not show up with this basic charm. If Neville’s name did appear—it would be in bright silver because he’s living.” He glanced over and found Harry tracing his mother’s name. He took a few steps back so he could cast another charm. “Because I’ve also had my ancestral magic settled, I’m a good example of the difference.” He smiled apologetically to his friend before casting on himself.
The Malfoy tree was a mixture of silver and gold. Lucius Malfoy’s name was in red. Harry frowned and raised an eyebrow at Draco. “What does that mean?”
“It signifies that the my father was the Patriarch of the family when he was killed and that he died fulfilling a life debt on behalf of his Family,” Draco murmured. He touched his father’s name and murmured something so low no one could hear it. A streak of red light poured out of his tree and attached itself to Lily Potter’s name. “Your mother saved the life of my father’s heir and in doing so our Family owed her a life debt. That debt transferred to her son when she was killed.”
Harry nodded thoughtfully. “It speaks to your character that you were still an evil prat to me for years.”
Draco blushed furiously. “I didn’t know!” He waved his wand and cancelled both charms. “Questions?”
Neville Longbottom who was attending more out of house loyalty than need leaned forward a little. “My ancestral magic is settling, Draco. We think it’s because my Dad’s claim on the title has weakened because of Harry’s claim on me as his Heir. Will you cast that charm on me?”
Draco nodded. “Sure, Nev.”
Neville left his seat and presented himself without hesitation and then grinned. “You know, a year ago I wouldn’t have stood still for you to cast on me.”
Draco grinned. “Don’t think I’m not tempted to hex you out of nostalgia—I still would if I didn’t think Potter would challenge me to a duel and embarrass me on a level so primal that six generations of Malfoys would sit up in the family crypt and scream in horror.” He cast the charm for the paternal line and Neville too had a tree forming—it wasn’t complete as Draco’s and it was almost transparent after his great grandparents. “You’re right, Neville, your ancestral magic is settling. It’s probably a response to Harry. He’s powerful and being friends with him is dangerous.” Draco grinned when Harry glared at him. “I was only friends with him for a week before I found myself fighting Dementors in front of Gringotts.”
Kevin immediately raised his hand. Draco smirked at him and the kid blushed sweetly. “Yes, Kevin?”
“Is it true your Patronus is a dragon?”
“Yes,” Draco admitted. “Casting a Patronus takes a lot of magical power and a very happy memory. I have several that I’ve practiced with.” He pulled out his wand. “Expecto Patrunum!” The silver dragon poured out of the wand and was quite small compared to the one he’d cast on Diagon Ally. “He gets bigger or smaller depending on what memory I use. When I think of my Father—I think about the day he taught me to fly a broom and he gets just about as big as this room.”
“Harry, let’s see yours!” The kid focused on him intently.
Draco grinned let his Patronus fade with a flick of his wand. “Yes, Harry, do show us yours.” He wiggled an eyebrow that made Potter glare at him briefly.
Harry sighed and then pulled his wand. He pointed it towards the opposite of the room and cast, “Expecto Patronum!” His stag emerged at a gallop—its hooves snapping loudly against the stones as it burst forward and then turned to regard his wizard with what resembled a frown. Prongs snorted and pawed at the ground impatiently.
“I was just showing you off,” Harry admitted. “You’re very pretty.” Prongs inclined his head as if to agree and shimmered away.
“Is a Patronus supposed to be that solid?” Someone asked in a low tone from the back of the room.
“It takes a great deal of personal magical power to cast a Patronus—the more corporeal they are—the stronger the wizard is,” Draco explained. “You’ll notice the floor is scuffed where the Patronus was standing.”
Harry blushed and sighed. “At least mine wasn’t eating Dementors, Lord Malfoy.” He smirked when several mouths dropped open.
Draco stared at him. “I was uniquely motivated. Protecting one’s self-interest is the fundamental principal of my house.”
* * * *
A shiver slid down his back and he dropped his fork. A single word started resonating in his head. Violation. Violation. Over and over again in a fierce dark voice that sounded like a dverger and Harry stood up abruptly from the table. His skin chilled and he started moving towards the entryway doors of the large hall, completely oblivious to the people calling after him.
Draco caught up with him as he exited Hogwarts. “Harry!” He grabbed his arm.
“Something is very wrong,” Harry hissed and looked towards the front gates of the school. “I feel like a Dementor is sitting on my grave for Merlin’s sake!”
“Harry.” Dumbledore grabbed his other arm and forced him to face him. “Look at me. Does it feel like the wards on one of your homes as been violated? Concentrate to find the location.”
Harry blanched. “Privet Drive. We have to go to Privet Drive.”
Dumbledore and Draco released him and they all three hurried to the gates. The moment they passed through, Dumbledore pulled a piece of candy from his robes and said, “Portus.” He held out the candy. “I’ll apparate ahead of you. This will go off in fifteen seconds.”
Harry took it and Draco smashed their hands together so the candy was pressed between them as Dumbledore disappeared with a small pop. The tug at his naval was as horrific as always. He really hated portkeys. Draco caught him easily as they reappeared inside the house and found easily the most horrific scene Harry had ever seen in the house spread out before him.
His Aunt lay on the floor, deathly pale. His Uncle lay bleeding profusely from the head and his cousin was calmly and with some vigor for his size kicking his father repeatedly.
Harry brushed past Dumbledore who seemed stunned. “Dudley! What are you doing?”
Dudley stopped kicking his father and let the baseball bat that had hung in one hand rather limply fall to the floor. “Harry. Mum’s hurt bad.”
That jumpstarted Dumbledore who immediately rushed to Petunia’s side. “She’s alive but she needs immediate care, Harry.”
“Please take her to St. Mungo’s,” Harry whispered. “We’ll call for Muggle healers after you’re gone.”
Dumbledore disappeared in a pop with his Aunt. Harry rubbed his face with one hand, aware that Draco was standing beside him with his wand drawn. “Tell me what’s happened, Dudley.”
“I came home from school because Mum hadn’t been writing me as often as she should have and when I called there was no answer. I came home and found her locked up in the cupboard.” Dudley waved a hand towards the cupboard that had been Harry’s home for eleven years. “I broke the lock to get her out and when Dad came home—he hit her really hard in the face and called her a freak. I think she must have told him where she was over the summer. I warned her not to—I told her that he wouldn’t remember what had happened because you’d taken care of it.”
Harry glared at his uncle and grimaced when the man moaned softly. Then he turned to Dudley—he was covered in bruises and his arm was hanging awkwardly at his side. “Is your arm broken?”
“Dad used a bat on me,” Dudley muttered. “But I took it from him and returned the favor.”
The front door of the house banged open and Moody thumped into the room with a glare for all three of them. He snorted at the sight of Vernon. “Which one of you finally gave that fat bastard what he deserved?”
“Dudley did it to defend himself and his mother,” Harry murmured. “Can you obliviate Vernon and make him think that Petunia left him? She obviously can’t come back here.”
Moody smirked and nodded. “I’ve been wanting to obliviate him for a very long time.” He looked at Dudley. “What about you?”
“Make him think that he hates me and wants nothing to do with me ever again,” Dudley responded evenly. “He hit my Mum and starved her—he’s lucky I’m letting him live.”
Harry refrained from pointing out that he’d suffered the same in the house. He knew from Dudley’s perspective that Vernon Dursley had crossed a line that should never be crossed. “Dobby.”
His Vassal appeared immediately and bowed. “My Lord Potter.”
Harry almost laughed at the pompous tone. Dobby had been taken lessons from his brother as to not embarrass his Lord in public and they showed in the most interesting ways. “I need Mr. Riser here. There are some legal matters.”
Dobby popped away immediately and then returned in under a minute. “Mr. Riser will come immediately, Lord Potter.”
There was a sharp knock on the open door and Cecil Riser stepped into the house. He shut the door behind him and crossed the small living room to the dining area where Vernon still lay bleeding and moaning. “Well, today is certainly one for small justices.”
Harry nodded. “Cecil, this is my cousin Dudley. My Aunt and Dudley are leaving this house. Can you handle Muggle legal matters?”
“You have a Muggle law firm on retainer to handle such matters that I cannot. They take their instructions from me.”
Harry nodded. “Very well, my Aunt is at St. Mungo’s being treated for injuries suffered at her husband’s hands. Ask her what she wants and help her over see any legal matters that will see her free of this man and take as much of his money as you possibly can. Dudley goes to Smeltings—check to make sure his tuition has been paid for the year and set up a trust for him that will cover the rest of his schooling and moderate expenses until he’s twenty-one unless he goes to university. We’ll discuss that in the future. Buy my aunt a nicer place than this and set her up with a reasonable allowance—taking into account how much money you manage to take from this fat fuck.” He prodded Vernon with his boot. “Moody is going to take care of things on this end.”
Cecil nodded and turned to Dudley who was pale and staring at Harry in shock. “Mr. Dursley…”
“Harry.” Dudley frowned at him. “Why would you do that for me after how mean I was to you?”
“I’m a better person,” Harry returned evenly. “And it would be an insult to my House and a stain on my magic to do anything else. Don’t abuse my generosity, Dudley, and I will be monitoring your grades. If you want to go to university and you can get admitted, we’ll work on that as well.” He glared at Vernon. “It’ll be your job to keep your mum from coming back here to this arse.” He sighed. “Mr. Riser, my cousin, despite his surprisingly stoic appearance is in a great deal of pain. The wards are humming with it—at the very least his arm is broken.”
“I’ll take care of everything and owl you with the details, Lord Potter.”
Harry nodded. “Don’t let anyone mistreat him or my aunt because they are Muggles. I’d be most disappointed if I had to sue them but I would do it without hesitation.”
“He’s no Muggle,” Moody muttered and leaned in a little to glare closely at Dudley. “Not enough magical power to be trained but not exactly a squib either. Bet he’s probably had a few incidents of accidental magic. His response must have triggered the wards.”
Harry glared. “My aunt’s conditions should have triggered the wards. I had Bill Weasley change them on purpose to alert me of any danger she might be in.”
Moody huffed and growled. “I was ordered to take those down by Dumbledore. He said you didn’t need to be taxed by unnecessary protections for your Muggle aunt. Since your cousin has a bit of magic in him—it was enough to set off the blood wards that are still active in the house.”
“I see.” Harry’s nostrils flared slightly and the house around him started to rattle. “I assure you, Moody, that the last thing anyone needs to worry about is taxing my magic with a few protective wards.”
“Right.” Moody nodded. “You in the mood for me to apologize for what I threatened with Black over the summer?”
Harry snorted. “Try again in a few months, right now I’m chewing on the fact that you let your blind faith in Dumbledore nearly get my Aunt murdered by her own husband.”
Harry was sitting in the chair Sirius favored whenever he was forced into sitting in the Headmaster’s office. The fury boiling in his gut was so overwhelming that he could hardly even think. Draco was sitting across from him—sprawled elegant and lazy like a predator.
Dumbledore swept through the floo with easy grace, not even pausing as he casually cast a cleaning spell on his robes and strode toward his desk. He turned as if he wasn’t expecting his office to be occupied and smiled at Harry. “Your aunt will make a full recovery.”
“That is good—it would reflect poorly on you if that was not the case. As it stands, I’m considering filing a complaint with the Ministry concerning your choice to order a member of your precious vigilante group to alter the wards around my aunts home in such a way that I was not notified of the abuse she was suffering at the hands of her husband. The wards didn’t trigger until he hurt Dudley, Moody thinks that’s because Dudley has a little more magic than the average squib.”
“Harry, those wards were heavy and it was my opinion that they were completely unnecessary.”
Harry chilled at the words. “Are you presuming to tell me what is necessary when it concerns the protection of my Aunt on the very day her husband nearly killed her?”
“I believed it was necessary to alter the wards at the time but it is clear that I made a mistake.”
He sat back in his chair and forced himself to calm down. He would not lose his temper. It wouldn’t serve him at all. “It was none of your business, Headmaster. You meddled in matters that do not concern you—just as you always have. This is the last time you make a personal decision for me. I assure you I have the funds to hire private tutors and sit my NEWTS with the Ministry.”
“I would apologize but it appears that you aren’t interested in hearing it,” Albus murmured.
“Your judgment when it comes to me as been questionable since my parents were murdered,” Harry began and then took a deep breath. “I realize that you have a different perspective about what must happen in the future between me and Voldemort, but from now on it would be in our best interest to have an honest and open dialogue. Had you asked me about the wards I would have told you why I had them upgraded and my Aunt would have been found long before today. My Uncle Vernon is a vicious, bigoted man—the kind of man who would embrace the ideals of Voldemort if he were magical.”
“Good.” Harry took a deep breath. “It occurred to me today that you could have had the wards around my aunt’s house altered so that you could monitor my health. Had you taken your role as my magical guardian seriously before I came to Hogwarts, perhaps I wouldn’t have spent my childhood being beaten and near starved to death.”
He turned and left before Dumbledore could respond—leaving Draco glaring at the Headmaster in shocked silence.
* * * *
Draco signed the last of his correspondence and dropped it into the stack. “Elbe, wrap these in a package and magically seal it for Ramses to deliver to Mr. Wilbanks.”
“Yes, my Lord.” Elbe accepted the stack of letters and popped away.
He sat back at his desk and rubbed his thumb over his father’s ring. The moment he’d slipped the Malfoy signet on—he’d been overwhelmed by the connection he’d felt with his deceased father. Draco wasn’t fool enough to ever think that his father had been a good man. Lucius had been the epitome of what it meant to be a Death Eater in Voldemort’s inner circle which made his sacrifice for Harry and Cedric all the more stunning.
A warm, large hand slid across his neck and he turned into Harry with a sigh. “I love your hands.”
Potter made a soft sound of contentment as Draco slid out of his chair and into his arms. “I’m very fond of touching you.” He pulled him closer and sighed when Draco slid his arms around him, under his robes. “Merlin, you feel amazing.”
Draco pressed a soft kiss against his throat and then another when Harry trembled in his arms. “Let’s go to bed.”
Harry clamped one hand on Draco’s hip as they shifted and pressed the blond against the edge of his desk. He sought out his mouth as he lifted Malfoy slightly and sat him on his desk. Draco laughed a little against his mouth and they separated.
“Are you laughing at me?” Harry demanded softly as he pressed in between Draco’s legs.
“No,” Draco murmured. He ran his hands along Harry’s rib cage. “I’m just amused how much I like being manhandled by you. It’s completely mad how it makes me feel.” He tilted his face just a little and pulled at Harry. “Kiss me, Potter.”
Harry leaned in and took his mouth in a hard kiss as Draco’s hands started to prod him out of his robes. They both shuddered as Harry stroked his tongue between Draco’s lips. His magic shifted, a warning that they were no longer alone and he jerked away to glare at the person standing in Draco’s doorway.
Higgs glared at him and then focused on Draco who was frowning. “We have a house meeting. Snape sent me along to get you. You should shut your door when you’re entertaining your half-blood.”
Draco sighed and slid off his desk. “You should have broken him a lot more, Harry. He obviously hasn’t learned his place.”
Harry laughed a little and picked up his robes with a sigh. “Some people are incapable of learning such things. I blame inbreeding—I mean, just look at Pansy.”
Draco grinned. It was common knowledge that Higgs and Pansy were dating. “It’s like they were made for each other.”
“Agreed. Barely forked family tree, common interests, thoughtless, and completely without regard to their continued good social standing.” Harry nodded as he slid on his robes. “Sounds like fate to me.”
Higgs flushed with anger. “You think you’re better than me, half-blood?”
“I think I’ve already proven to be twice the wizard you are, Higgs.” Harry glanced over at him. “The evidence that I’m a better man is obvious—you don’t see me abusing under-aged wizards for my own amusement.” He paused. “And you do realize that your so-called Dark Lord is a half-blood, right?” He laughed when Higgs paled. “His father was a Muggle, Higgs. Not even a Muggle-born wizard but a plain, average, everyday Muggle. How does it feel for your blood purity crusade to be led by a half-blood?”
“I don’t believe you,” Higgs hissed.
“Tom Riddle.” Harry inclined his head. “He was born Tom Malvo Riddle. He isn’t all powerful, and one day I’m going to kill him and you should know that I plan to kill everyone that stands in my way when that day comes. You and your father both will die beside that corrupt, half-blood monstrosity if you continue on the path you’re currently on.”
“How can you be so sure?” Higgs demanded. “How can you stand there and say you’re going to kill the most powerful wizard on the planet?”
“Because he isn’t the most powerful wizard on the planet. He isn’t even the most powerful wizard in Britain.” Harry settled his robes and shook them out so they fell the way they were tailored to fall. “He is undoubtedly very powerful but, it would do you to remember, Higgs, that I was marked as his equal when I was little more than a year old. He claimed me as equal before I matured and before my ancestral magic settled.”
Higgs made a shocked noise, turned and left the room without another word.
Draco grinned and sighed. “You’re going to keep doing that to people, Potter, and eventually I’m going to get so excited that I’m just going to fall on my knees and beg for your cock.”
Harry flushed. “You bastard. Walk me out—I’m sure he’s told everyone I’m in here. There is no need broadcasting the second entrance into your quarters.”
Draco took his hand and tugged on it gently as they left the room and walked down the wide hall that he shared with two prefects and into the common room. Harry offered the room in general a smirk and favored Snape with a nod as he was led to the portrait.
The ornate metal snake that twined around the carved stone entrance activated as soon as Harry got close to him. It hissed at him in greeting. ”Hello, wizard.”
Harry grinned and stroked his head with a careful finger. ”Hello, snake, did Salazar create you?”
”Yes.” The snake moved its head under Harry’s hand and slid around his wrist in greeting. “Your magic feels good.”
Draco cleared his throat. “What is it saying, Harry?”
Harry blushed. “He said hello and I asked him if Salazar created him and he said yes. Then he said my magic feels good to him.”
“So it is hitting on you,” Draco summed up dryly. “It figures, Potter.”
The snake hissed at Draco briefly and Harry laughed before responding in Parseltongue, “Be nice. He’s mine.”
The snake left Harry and pushed out completely from the doorframe towards Draco. Malfoy hesitated briefly before offering his hand. “Then I will watch over your dragon, wizard. Tell him to put me on his door.”
Harry nodded. “He says to take him to your door so he can guard the entrance.”
“Oh.” Draco blinked in surprise as the snake completely wound around his arm. “Seriously?”
“Seriously.” Harry pushed through the portrait with a small smile. “Goodnight, Dragon.”
Draco flushed as the portrait closed and he turned to face the rest of his house. The metal snake was resting its head on the top of his hand. “The strangest things happen around him.” He settled down in a chair and absently stroked the metal snake’s head.
Snape cleared his throat. “I’ve called this meeting to discuss certain activities that have taken place in the school and within our own house. It has been implied that I do not have control over my own house.”
Draco winced as his godfather’s voice went silky and hard. He’d never been in the presence of the Dark Lord but he did think there could be a comparison drawn. He listened with half an ear as Snape laid down the law and lowered the curfew by two hours for everyone in the house until after the Christmas holidays.
* * * *
Harry set aside another book in his quest for a reference he needed for his transfiguration essay and frowned at the pile he had remaining. A soft sob caught his ear followed by sniffles. He frowned and stood up to follow the noise. It took him a few minutes to find the source and frowned as he encountered Kevin Wesley tucked in the last row in the back of the library holding a blooded cloth to his hand.
“Kevin?” Harry squatted down in front of him. “Are you hurt?” He reached out to touch the boy. “Who did this to you?”
“Filch caught me out after curfew and got Professor Umbridge—she gave me detention.” Kevin hitched a breath. “This was the first night I had to serve.”
“What did she make you do?” Harry demanded. “Why are you bleeding?”
“I had to write lines but the quill… it used…” Kevin lifted the clothe off his hand and showed Harry his hand. The words ‘I’m worthless’ had been carved into the top. “I don’t know what it was but it used my blood for ink.”
Harry’s stomach tightened in horror. “Dobby.” The elf appeared immediately. “Take Kevin to Madame Pomfrey in the infirmary. I will join you there with the Headmaster. Make sure she documents his injury thoroughly.”
Fifteen minutes later, Harry found himself staring at Dumbledore in horrified silence. McGonagall was close to hyperventilating at his side but was holding her tongue.
“You expect me to ignore the fact that she tortured a first year in my house because you don’t want to antagonize Minister Fudge?” Harry demanded in a low tone. “How exactly did you manage to become the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot with such corrupt morals?”
“Lord Potter,” Minerva hissed. “There is no reason…”
“There is every reason!” Harry shouted. “She tortured an eleven year old child by making him carve the words ‘I’m worthless’ into his own hand!” He glared at her and took a deep breath. “My apologies, Professor, it’s unbecoming for me to take my shock and anger out on you.” He turned to look at Dumbledore and found him less sparkly than normal. “Kevin Wesley is an orphan so it isn’t like he has parents he can complain to. He told me what happened to him and I assure you, Headmaster, no matter what you might say—this issue will be addressed to the fullest measure. You will notify the DMLE and press charges against Umbridge for this or I will. If I levy charges against her—it will reflect poorly on you and your leadership of this school.”
“I’ll contact Amelia Bones,” Albus allowed. “And explain the situation to her. I can’t guarantee that charges will be filed.”
“I suggest you all work together to accomplish it or this situation will be on the front page of the Daily Prophet.”
“The Minister has demonstrated the ability to control what gets printed in the Prophet, Harry.” Dumbledore pointed out.
Harry smiled then. “I think you’ll find that situations change, Headmaster, and that Minister Fudge no longer has the ability to determine what does and does not get printed at the Daily Prophet.”
* * * *
“Look guys, I realize that Umbridge and Filch have some kind of punishment scheme going on.” Harry looked around the tower at the first years he’d gathered. “I’ve complained to the Headmaster and if something isn’t done about her—I will crucify her and everyone who stands in my way in the press until the Ministry has no choice but to remove her from the school. In the mean time, I think it’s high time she learned a lesson or two about picking on Gryffindors.” He turned and looked at the twins who’d been muttering amongst themselves since he’d filled them in. “So, if you’d like to help Fred and George make Delores Umbridge miserable—raise your hand.”
Fred and George grinned evilly as all the first years raised their hands. “Wonderful.”
“We have recruits,” Fred murmured with a nod. “We’ll make her regret…”
“Ever coming here,” George exclaimed gleefully. “Come firsties, we have planning to do!”
“Oh.” Harry pulled a folded piece of parchment from his robes. “You might need this for your mischief management.”
Fred took it. “We shall make good use of it and return it when we are finished.”
“You can pass it to the next generation—someone worthy. I have my father’s copy. It was at Potter Manor in his desk.”
“Even better,” George proclaimed. “Kevin, my young friend, come it is time for you to be introduced to the Marauders.”
Harry grinned. “Hey Fred.”
“Yeah?” Fred questioned with a grin.
“I think this means that Filch is fair game, too. After all he apparently likes capturing students for Umbridge’s little sadistic games.”
“Oh,” George sighed. “That is…”
“Righteous,” Fred agreed and the twins shared a smile so evil that it made Harry shiver in anticipation.
* * * *
I am pleased to inform you that both your Aunt Petunia and her son Dudley are healed, and through the Muggle law firm, we’ve began the process legal process to separate her from Vernon Dursley. I have arranged for her a nice flat in a good neighborhood in London and she whole heartedly approved.
I took the liberty of contacting Bill Weasley concerning wards for the new property to insure her safety from both unwanted Muggles and other unsavory types. We were able to file a restraining order against her soon to be former husband.
She did say with some hesitation that she’s willing to accept owls if you are interested in communicating with her though I believe she would understand if you chose not to.
She expressed several times that she could hardly believe that you were willing to do this for her and help her escape her situation and provide for her.
Mr. Cecil Riser
Harry set aside the letter with a frown and glanced around the common room. The last thing he wanted to do was actually become involved in Petunia Dursley’s life. He felt an obligation to her but that was in his blood and perhaps even his magic. He felt far more responsible for her now than he ever had before and he blamed his ancestral magic for that.
The men in his family were rather renowned for stupid heroics and protective streaks a few kilometers wide. He would provide for her and protect her within his ability to do so but he didn’t want her in his life. He was just at a point when he was carving out a life for himself.
“What’s going on?” Ron questioned. “You look upset.”
“My Aunt told my solicitor that she would like some contact with me,” Harry muttered and started to play with his quill. “It’s insane.”
“She apologized, right? And you accepted?” Hermione questioned.
Harry sighed. “I have OWLs to take this year, a corrupt Minister of Magic to undermine, several people that I want to treat poorly in public for the next decade, several businesses with hundreds of employees to bring out of the middle ages, people to threaten, a Dark Lord to kill, a Dark Lord’s minions that I may or may not have to kill, and a Slytherin to seduce. I’m swamped! I simply don’t time at this point to forgive my aunt for fourteen years of neglect and mental abuse.”
Ron sputtered and Hermione stared in silence for a full thirty seconds before she started to laugh. Ron cleared his throat and said, “Harry, you’re mental!”
* * * *
Harry dropped down into the seat next to Kevin Wesley and in amongst several other first years that Filch had captured for Umbridge’s detention session. There were fifteen kids from various houses. He raised an eyebrow as Draco entered the room and sat down next to a second year from Slytherin followed quickly by Susan Bones who sat down next to a little girl from Hufflepuff. Roger Davies strolled in just before the doors closed and got comfortable with his fellow Ravenclaws.
Umbridge entered from her office in the back and appeared very startled at the sight of all the upper classmen then she smirked. “Did Mr. Filch catch you doing something bad, Lord Potter?”
Harry smirked. “No. I’m not here for detention.” He leaned forward a little. “I’m actually here to supervise detention. I’ve heard some disturbing rumors. To promote house unity—I asked Draco, Susan, and Roger to join us.”
“Who are you to supervise me?” Delores demanded, shocked and furious.
“Lord Harry James Potter, last scion of the House of Potter and Heir to the House of Black.”
“And the Boy Who Lived,” Susan offered with a bright smile.
“And the Chosen One!” Roger said as he unpacked a text book.
“And the youngest Dark Lord slayer in history,” Draco murmured with a smug little grin and they all watched Umbridge pale with fury. “I’m Lord Draco Lucien Malfoy, The House of Malfoy, Heir Regent to the House of Lavoy, and fiftieth in line for the throne of the Veela Nation.”
“That’s pretty impressive,” Susan allowed. “I’m Susan Bones—Heir Regent to the House of Bones and ward of Madame Amelia Bones, the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.”
Roger flicked open his text book and set his wand purposefully on the table beside him. “I’m Heir Apparent to the House of Davies. I’ll be the first to claim the title of Lord in my family as I’m the tenth magical generation and the Queen has already granted our petition. I am to have my title conferred on my seventeenth birthday.”
“Which is in a few weeks, right?” Susan questioned. “Are you coming to the Malfoy Ball?”
“Of course, my mother is giddy,” Roger rolled his eyes and looked toward Umbridge with a raised eyebrow. “In case you’re wondering, Potter out ranks us all. That’s who he is, Professor.”
She sputtered and then glared at Harry. “Get out of my classroom immediately.”
“And if I say no?” Harry questioned. “You can’t possibly think I care about house points at this point in my life. Will you give me detention, too? Then we’ll be right back where we started.”
She drew her wand and pointed it at him. “Get out of my classroom.”
“Pointing a wand at a member of the Wizengamot without cause by a Ministry employee is a fireable offense,” Harry murmured and then smiled. “You can’t imagine how much I’m looking forward to what comes next.”
Her wand wavered and then she put it away with a scowl. “The Minister…”
“Is an elected employee of the Ministry. He is certainly not above the law and is subject to the rules and regulations set down by the Crown in the Magical Accord of 522. If he were to attempt to use his position to usurp the laws of the crown—the entire magical government could be dissolved and sovereignty over our people would return to the British crown.” Harry inclined his head. “I would think as an employee of the Ministry you, above most others, would be fully educated on such matters. It simply wouldn’t do for the ministry to be disbanded due to the foolishness of one witch.”
“It’s the inbreeding,” Draco drawled lazily. “I didn’t believe you at first, Potter, but I started researching a few things.” He turned half in his seat and adopted a truly innocent expression. “I can only thank Merlin that my father chose to honor a contract with the Black family—otherwise he might have married his first cousin on his mother’s side. Did you know that in the last three hundred years the Ministry of Magic has dropped the employment standards twenty-six times to insure that pure bloods could actually qualify for positions?”
“I’m not remotely surprised by that,” Harry admitted. “Even the ones that aren’t inbred to the point of genetic mutation are indoctrinated into bigoted ideals and pure blood nonsense so early in life that it’s a wonder they even have a thought of their own.”
“Shut up!” Delores hissed. “You don’t know what you’re talking about, you half-blood bastard. I don’t care how many titles you think you can claim. You shouldn’t even be allowed a wand—mudbloods like you should be stripped of what little magic you have and obliviated!”
Harry smirked and relaxed back in his chair. “It is widely established that Voldemort and Albus Dumbledore are the two most powerful wizards in the wizarding world. I have been proclaimed by prophecy to be Voldemort’s equal. He marked me as his equal when I was an infant. Then in a feat of magic that no one can explain, I banished him from his own body—without a wand, without training, and with an immature magical core.”
Draco chuckled softly as Umbridge paled and then fainted. “You’re so shiny, Potter. I want to do things to you that I can’t even say because of all the first years in the room.”
Roger Davies cleared his throat. “You aren’t… even sixteen, yet.”
“Right.” Harry nodded.
“Have you received all of your Family magic?”
“Yes, but I’ll still likely go through my magical inheritance at seventeen like everyone else. It’s a separate matter after all.”
“Right.” Roger sighed. “You really are shiny, Potter. Very shiny.”
Susan Bones chuckled. “I guess we should be lucky the sun hasn’t decided to shine out of his arse.” She sighed and picked up her wand. “You guys want to have a friendly duel to figure out who has to wake the toad up?”
“I vote we leave her there and send a note to Professor Dumbledore that she needs medical assistance,” Kevin offered. “In a few hours.”
“I don’t know who you didn’t end up in Slytherin,” Draco said with a sigh and then he frowned at the kid. “Did you talk the hat into putting you in Gryffindor?”
Kevin blushed furiously. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Sure, kid, sure.” Draco laughed and glanced at Harry briefly who just grinned back at him unrepentant. “It takes a special kind of person to manipulate an artifact as powerful as the Sorting Hat.”
“I just think it likes to mess with people’s heads,” Harry confided. “Like it gets some perverse pleasure out of messing with the house system on a fundamental level.” He inclined his head and then picked up his quill. “Detention was two hours, right?”
“Right.” Kevin confirmed.
“We’ll stay here two hours and if she’s still unconscious when we leave—we’ll let the Headmaster know she needs Poppy.” He holstered his wand and then sent a wandless stunner at her that made her body jerk minutely. Draco, the only one to notice, snorted and everyone else went back to their home work.
* * * *
“I want them all suspended!” Delores shouted.
“For what?” Minerva questioned. “They stayed for their detention and notified Poppy that you needed medical assistance.”
“Four hours later!” Delores shouted and started to struggle to sit up in her infirmary bed. “I want Potter expelled!”
“Whatever for?” Albus questioned wide eyed. “If anything, I’m tempted to reward the young man for his efforts in uniting the houses and for the loyalty he’s shown to the youngest, most vulnerable members of his house.” His eyes were twinkling so brightly that Minerva had to take several deep breaths to keep from laughing out loud at him.
“One of them stunned me!”
“We did check their wands after your initial accusation and I assure you that no one in that room stunned you,” Albus patted her shoulder and smiled at her so serenely that Poppy had to turn abruptly away to hide her own mirth. “Perhaps, dear, you need to monitor your health a little better. It’s not good for members of the staff to appear so fragile in front of the students.”
“Potter lied! He said he was as powerful as you!”
“Indeed,” Albus inclined his head. “It’s entirely possible—I haven’t personally tested him but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that he is extremely powerful. It has been the general consensus since his birth that he would achieve the power of level of a Magus by his twenty-fifth year. Considering his talents in Defense, Charms, and most recently in Transfiguration—I do believe the International Council of Warlocks & Witches will bestow on him the title of War Mage on or after his seventeenth birthday. This is all public record, Delores.”
“He’s a half-blood!”
Albus’ eyes stopped twinkling. “So am I, Delores and I assure you I have more magical power in one finger than you have in your entire body.”
Minerva bit down on her bottom lip and averted her gaze as Poppy snorted and rushed from the room. “Albus, perhaps we should let Delores rest.”
“Yes, perhaps we should.” Albus offered her his arm and she took it with a mild glare. “We wouldn’t want to be late for dinner.”
* * * *
“The Minister quashed my arrest warrant for Delores Umbridge citing her position has High Inquisitor,” Amelia winced at the cold fury that crossed Potter’s face. She didn’t know much about the kid but she had seen a pensive memory of the duel he’d had with the Higgs kid and she had cause to wonder more than once if the Boy Who Lived had any idea how much political power he had at his disposal.
“I see.” Harry’s gaze narrowed. “Dobby.” An elf immediately popped into place beside his chair.
“My Lord Potter.” Dobby bowed briefly and tucked his hands behind his back. “How may Dobby serve?”
“Take the package I have on my desk to Mr. Riser and inform him that I expect the first story to appear in the Prophet no later than Wednesday.” Harry relaxed back in his chair as the elf disappeared. “There. If Minister Fudge wants to play with torturing children—he needs to be taught a lesson on morality.”
Amelia nodded. “I take it that package is a duplicate of the one I received from the Headmaster?”
“Complete with magically sealed testimonials, copies of the pensive memories you received, medical reports concerning the reported injuries, and all the photographic evidence you were shown,” Harry confirmed in a neutral tone.
“You know that the Daily Prophet won’t print…”
“The Ministry of Magic doesn’t own a single share of the Daily Prophet, Madame Bones.” Harry brushed a piece of lint from his slack and crossed his legs casually. “And I’ve been told the staff of the newspaper has been instructed to magically seal their building and put it under a Fidelius if the Ministry attempts to interfere with the daily running of the paper.”
Her mouth dropped open briefly before she shut it with an audible click of teeth. “I see. I do believe Cornelius will be quite upset by tomorrow’s headline.”
“If he were a decent man, he would have nothing to worry about,” Harry replied evenly. “I find that can be said about a great many people in the magical world, Madame Bones.” He raised an eyebrow when she started to protest. “The lack of accountability in magical society is contemptible and might I say in most cases, unforgiveable. The vast majority of the people are content to let someone else do their thinking for them and many in power are so corrupted by fanatical ideals and easy gold that it’s laughable Voldemort bothered to use violence to get his way.”
“I don’t understand,” Amelia admitted.
“He could have bought magical Britain for a few million galleons and gotten everything he wanted without ever getting his hands dirty. Instead he used his follower’s money to wage a guerilla war while the Ministry twisted itself up in knots and whined like petulant children because things stopped being easy.” Harry ran his finger over his Potter signet ring thoughtfully. “Great Britain’s magical population are isolationists in every meaning of the word. They know little of international politics and ninety percent of them couldn’t even tell you who the current North American Minister of Magic is. They allow men like Fudge to keep them ignorant and lazy and then have the nerve to get upset when their perfect little world shatters under the weight of dishonesty and greed.”
“I don’t follow,” Albus admitted.
“Did you know after my sworn testimony was released that I received two hundred Howlers complaining that I allowed the Dark Lord to rise. They actually blame me for it! They, like many others in this country, are under the impression that I should go out and fight their battles for them. It only got worse after the ministry leaked the prophecy. After that I received letter after letter telling me that I should finish this ‘war business’ before it got out of hand so that decent people wouldn’t get caught up in my squabble with Riddle.”
Amelia’s face paled and her lips pressed together. “I… Lord Potter, while many people might choose to ignore the fact that you’re a fifteen year old child, I’m not one of them. I don’t expect you to fight this war for me or for anyone else.”
“I’m not child, Madame Bones. I never had a childhood to speak of,” Harry murmured. “I do recognize my responsibility to the memory of parents and in turn the magical world. I will do my part when the time comes and I have no doubts my actions that day will be vilified by most as extreme and perhaps even Dark.” He focused on his father’s ring and sighed. “Last year, shortly before the third task, I received a note from a woman who knew my parents. She told me if I my father hadn’t married a mudblood that the Dark Lord wouldn’t have murdered him. Then she told me I must be evil to have survived the Killing Curse and that I should have been put down the day I was found because I would be worse than Voldemort ever was. The fact that I’d done so well in the Tri-Wizard tournament at fourteen was enough for her to think that I couldn’t be natural.”
Minerva, who had been silent since the meeting had begun, took a furious breath. “Mr. Potter! You should have brought me that letter immediately!”
Harry bit down on his lip. “If I brought such things to your attention, Professor, that’s all you’d do with your day. Of course, now I a personal mail ward on my magical signature and anything from non-authorized senders is sent to a room in Potter Manor for processing. It stops the Howlers from everyone because I don’t intend to give anyone permission to abuse me. Mrs. Weasley tried to send me three over the summer before I sent her a note telling her to stop because my house elves were starting to hate her.”
“Do you receive death threats?” Amelia questioned.
“My solicitor keeps those,” Harry admitted. “I only read the ones that come from people I might actually know. You wouldn’t believe how many death threats I received last year during the tournament from students I had classes with every day.” He stood and stretched. Then he sighed. “By the way, I never told you…” He focused on the Headmaster. “You got it wrong.”
“What?” Albus questioned with a raised eyebrow.
“What I would miss most,” Harry admitted. “Ron’s my friend, of course, but at that time he didn’t even come close to being what I’d miss most. Then it would have been Hermione. She was, quite frankly, the only person I had on my side through most of last year and the only one I fully trusted.”
* * * *
Draco put down the letter his mother had sent him and pinched the bridge of his nose as guilt and anger pooled in his gut. “Elbe.”
The elf appeared at his side immediately. “Yes, Master Draco.”
“Return to Malfoy Manor and check on my mother as discreetly as possible. Ask the other elves if she is eating as she should and make sure if she isn’t that you come back to me immediately.”
She’d done so well to move on that Draco had allowed himself to ignore the depth of his mother’s grief. It could never be said that his father was a good man but he’d been his mother’s lover and friend for many years. It galled him that he’d forgotten what it must be like for her to be rattling around in their manor alone while he was at school romancing his way into Harry’s life and bed.
He pulled on his robe and fastened it with steady hands while he processed the content of his mother’s letter. He went to the portrait that lead to the passage that would take him under the castle and then up the tower into Harry’s chambers. He made the trip in silence, grief tumbled around inside him. It felt new and raw inside him all over again. A part of him wanted to be angry at his mother but he felt small and immature for the desire.
Harry was on the sofa with a book when Draco exited the passage. He stared at his friend and liege lord for several seconds before clearing his throat. “My father’s portrait woke up last week.”
Harry closed the book with a sharp snap and frowned. “And your mother didn’t send you a letter when it first happened?”
“No.” Draco slouched down on the sofa beside him and took a deep breath. “Thankfully, he doesn’t remember his own death.” He frowned. “Well, if he does—he’s chosen to tell my mother that he doesn’t remember it at all.” He shivered at the thought.
“I don’t… do all wizards have portraits?”
“No, normally it is very for the very wealthy and the titled.” Draco took a deep breath. “He… did you know that I found his remains? I couldn’t keep her from seeing him. Merlin knows, I tried.”
“Ron mentioned it.” Harry let his head fall back to rest on the back of the sofa and they both stared at the ceiling. “I can’t imagine what that must have been like for you.”
Draco blinked rapidly and cleared his throat. “At first, I wasn’t sure that they’d sent back all of his parts but I couldn’t…” He shuddered. “Every time I closed my eyes for weeks it was all I saw—his body strewn over the foyer. The elves spent hours cleaning up after we removed the body. The Ministry officials were fucking horrible.”
“The Aurors kept trying to peek around the manor and find anything dark they could confiscate and my mother could barely even speak.”
“I don’t…” Harry sighed. “I’m sorry.” He reached out and curled his hand into Draco’s. “I was wrapped up in my own problems over the summer.”
Draco’s fingers tightened against his. “You stood up in front of everyone and told the truth—risked your own life and magic to testify before the dverger court so that everyone would know that Voldemort had returned. So that everyone would know what my father did—how he redeemed himself.”
“Redemption,” Harry murmured. “It’s a harsh word—it implies so much. What does it take to receive the Dark Mark?”
“The murder of an innocent,” Draco whispered. “Normally a Muggle or a Muggle-born. My grandfather forced my father to participate in a ritual with the Dark Lord and during that ritual, he killed a young witch. He said she was fifteen. There is nothing but evil in Voldemort’s circle.”
“When did he tell you this?”
“After my first year when I told him about the rumors about what happened to you at the end of the year.”
Harry took a deep breath. “Is that when you asked him to make sure you wouldn’t have to take the mark?”
“Yes.” Draco shifted closer and wrapped both of his hands around Harry’s. “It was a pretty hard moment between us.”
“Are you worried about speaking to his portrait?” Harry questioned.
Draco sighed. “Yes and no. The shift of power in our relationship is really scary. He’s dead, Harry, and his portrait is just one of my fucking assets!”
Harry lifted his hand and dragged Draco’s along for the ride. He pressed a kiss the top his hand. “He’s your father—for all of his heroics and flaws. The mistakes he made in his life really can’t be balanced by the last moments of his life—you know that.”
“I do.” Draco admitted. “I don’t want to be anything like the man he was.”
“You won’t be,” Harry promised. He turned to face him. “I’m here, Draco, and I won’t let you go down that path. We… walk together. We’ll always walk together.”
Draco leaned forward and let his forehead rest on Harry’s with a soft sigh. “Together.”
“Always, Dragon,” Harry whispered and then leaned in to press a soft kiss against Draco’s mouth. “You and me.”
Draco moaned against his mouth and moved closer. “Let’s… go to bed.”
Harry smiled and used his free hand to brush his fingers over his face and down the side of his neck. “Are you sure that’s what you need?”
“You’re exactly what I need.”
“Alright then.” Harry stood and then offered Draco his hand. He smiled when Malfoy took his hand without hesitation.
They walked into the bed chamber of the suite in silence and Harry closed the door carefully. He secured and then murmured a simple locking charm that would do nothing much against an accomplished wizard but would indicate the amount of privacy he was requesting.
They shed their clothes efficiently and with very little unease. Harry was no stranger to the naked form of his liegeman but seeing Draco slip onto the cool cotton sheets of his bed and spread himself out made his mouth go dry.
“You’re so beautiful,” Harry murmured as he put one knee on the bed. He crawled up slowly, stopping to press his mouth against the inside of Draco’s knee and then trailed his lips up his inner thigh. “I want to kiss you everywhere.”
Malfoy sucked in a breath as Harry’s lips drifted over the length of his dick and he gasped in shock as his mouth as he leaned in and brushed his mouth over the head of Draco’s leaking cock and smiled softly at the soft moan he was rewarded with. He sucked him in gently and flicked his tongue over the head to gather the precum. He wrapped his free hand around the length of Draco’s cock and stroked him gently as he sucked firmly on the head.
“Not quite,” Harry murmured as he released his cock and flicked his tongue into his belly button and then moved upward. “I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while.”
“Yeah?” Draco exhaled sharply when Harry glided his tongue over his nipple. “Have you been practicing with someone? Because I’m not above cold blooded murder, Potter.”
Harry grinned. “Of course not, Dragon, practically everyone is afraid of you.” He settled on top of Draco and sighed against his mouth as their cocks brushed together. “Hermione brought me a book or two.”
Draco laughed and ran his fingers through Harry’s hair with a sigh. “You don’t say.”
“Illustrated—those little moving pictures did a lot of really dirty, explicit things to each other,” Harry murmured as he pressed kisses along his lover’s jaw. “She’s a very naughty kind of witch.”
“The best witches are,” Draco declared as he spread his legs and lifted his knees so he could cradle Harry with his body.
They fell into a kiss, bodies shifting and rubbing together until they were both gasping for air and groaning. It became impossible to go slow—to savor the pleasure that burned between them.
“Merlin, Draco,” Harry whispered against Malfoy’s cheek before taking his mouth again in a kiss. “You feel so good against me like this.”
“Yes,” Draco’s agreed as his fingers clenched on Harry’s lower back. “Come on me, Harry. Let me feel it.”
Harry shuddered and buried his face against the side of Malfoy’s neck as the other boy shifted and thrust up against him. He came and groaned loudly as Draco thrust hard up against him and came, too. “Dragon.”
Draco chuckled. “You’re my favorite snake on the whole planet, you know that right?”
“I do,” Harry agreed. He slipped off his friend with a small sigh and reached out for his wand. He cleaned them both with a flick of his wand and a muttered scourgify. He settled down on the bed beside him and pulled a sheet over their bodies. “That was… really good.”
“Better than what we’ve done before?” Draco questioned.
Harry shook his head. “Just different—more intimate. Any time I’m with you is amazing, you know.”
“Right.” Draco turned on his side and snuggled back against Harry. “If you tell a soul that I spoon with you on a regular basis, Potter, I’ll make you suffer horribly.”
Harry laughed and pressed a kiss into his hair. “All of your secrets are safe with me, Dragon.”
“You won’t… you won’t let him take you from me, will you?”
Harry closed his eyes at the softly spoken question. “No, I won’t. I promise. We’re going to live stupidly long lives, Draco, full of spoiled rotten children and grandchildren and friends. We’ll be doddering old codgers like Dumbledore before I even think about letting death get the best of me.”
Draco snorted, unwillingly amused. “Just as long as you don’t start making your eyes twinkle, love.”
“I think it’d be a great look for me,” Harry protested.
“Go to sleep, Potter.”
“As you wish, Dragon.”