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Sometimes Bad is Good

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Prologue 

"Harry, I know this must be hard for you to accept, but you have to go back," said Remus, gazing somberly at Harry. Something in Remus' eye made Harry's stomach twitch, and he knew that Remus was laying on the guilt thick. He always did when talking Harry into doing something he didn't want to do.

Harry sighed deeply and rubbed at the stress knots in his temples, closing his eyes against the pain blooming ever-so steadily across his entire head. He was back in the small box room at the Dursley's that he'd been given when he was eleven, it used to be so small to him then but now that he was taller and bigger -though sadly not by much- it was tiny. It gave him nothing but time to work over the memories of his younger years; the many times he'd been in terrible danger, the many times he'd foolishly gotten caught out for things that hadn't been his fault and the many times he'd kept himself from dying.

"Remus, you don't understand, I can't go back!" Harry pleaded, gleaming emerald eyes widening in incredulity at the idea of even going back there. "You have no idea what it's like there! They hate me as much as Snape does - they'll throw me out as soon as I step foot in the house! You have to let me stay, Remus!"

Remus sighed wearily and closed his eyes. "Harry, you know that that's not true," he said reluctantly, opening his eyes and gazing at Harry with disappointment and something akin to regret. "I'd take you in straight away and you know that, but I can't just yet, you're needed at the Dursleys and I need to find us a place to stay. A place where my Lycanthropy will not taint us."

The bottom of Harry's stomach dropped at the mention of the Dursleys and he redoubled his efforts. "I'll stay here at Grimmauld with Siri', he won't have to be alone and he can keep a proper eye on me!" Harry suggested hurriedly. "He can take care of me the same as everybody else can! He's my Godfather, Mum and Dad would want me to stay with him."

Remus looked to be considering what he was saying, and after a brief moment, he spoke slowly, "I'm sorry, Harry, but with Sirius's history, it's likely that he'll only corrupt you with thoughts of pranking like he did with James. I'm sorry, but you have to go back to the Dursley's."

"I'm not needed there anymore, Moony, there's no reason for them to be attacked now that Voldemort's - " Harry began to say angrily.

"There are plenty of reasons for why they should be attacked, Harry," Remus interrupted him calmly, placating him with a gentle squeeze to his shoulder. "Death Eaters are still roaming the neighborhood, they know where you live and they won't hesitate to incapacitate them in a move to stress you or move your hand. You need to go back to renew the wards so that they are not in immediate danger, you know this, Harry. After all Dumbledore has done for you, I would have thought that you would understand the word sacrifice." 

Like Death Eater's would even do that, Harry thought bitterly, glaring up at the cobwebs lodged in the top corner of the room, they'd be too terrified to face me let alone threaten me now that I've killed their leader. But alas, as a result from Remus' reasoning and harsh guilt-tripping, he'd had no choice but to move back. In fact, he'd moved back to the Dursley's the very next day, unable to fight the disappointed look on Remus' face when he protested any longer. 

Harry had somewhat lost the urge to try and please his best friends, although they still expected him to bow down to their 'almighty logic' that he wasn't smart enough and they knew what was best.

It had been like that since the time harry had been pulled by Voldemort in the Department of Mysteries, though thankfully before Tom could do any real damage to him or his friends, he'd managed to distract him long enough for the Order to arrive. However, that didn't necessarily mean that his friends had forgotten all about it; it was quite hard to forget hearing your best friend screaming his lungs up and writhing in absolute pain, after all.

Over the time it took to defeat Voldemort, Harry never questioned the others when they didn't tell him anything, he just sat and did as he was told. He had pretended to be the 'Golden Boy' that everyone had expected him to be, only putting his ideas up for observation when they were specifically called for. Other than that, he wasn't much questioned. Harry knew that his friends were only trying to protect him, especially after that stint he'd pulled at the Ministry, but after some time of them not allowing him to do anything, he'd realized that they were trying to protect him from himself.

They hadn't allowed him to Floo anywhere without 'proper authorization', and hadn't allowed him to be alone even when sleeping. Ron had roomed with him and followed him wherever he went, including the bathroom. His reasoning was that Harry could have a sudden vision and could slip in the shower and break his neck.

However thoroughly planned his protection was, none of that stopped Harry from moving about under the cover of night, discovering secrets made by Voldemort and ultimately discovering the key to this 'Power the Dark Lord knows not'. He'd found nearly all of the Horcruxes needed by himself, without Dumbledore, without Hermione and Ron and without anyone. All it took was cautious digging around in Voldemort's mind for clues, or perhaps even hints about anything special the man may have kept close to his chest. It had been grueling, digging around the sharp defenses in the mind of the most accomplished Legilimens, and only Sirius had known about his night time adventures -however vague his knowledge of it was-, but he had done well without the support of Hermione, Ron, or even Dumbledore. He had destroyed every Horcrux there was, and then Voldemort himself.

After every eventful thing in his life, Sirius was the only one left who fully supported him. Even with the mistake he had made at the Ministry, Sirius still supported Harry. But whatever plans that they'd made to live together after the war was over, was up in flames before they could fully map them out. However sparingly they saw each other, Sirius had always managed to make him smile and laugh at every given chance. Even if something bad had happened. Sirius always managed to drive him out of his depression, out of the 'darkness' that he almost always found himself stuck in.

But now there's no chance of that.

Remus himself had forbidden Harry from so much as sending an owl to any of his friends and Sirius, and since Harry's not of age yet, he can't send a small Patronus, either. Not unless he wished to get himself arrested for underage magic, that is. He knew Remus wasn't trying to hurt him, but it just came out that way whenever he said anything about staying with the Dursley's. Harry had felt himself almost die when Remus told him not to owl them. Though Remus did promise that they'd visit him whenever they could, seeing as Mrs. Figg lived two streets away and the Dursley's finally had enough sense to change the fire place to a real fireplace, so Harry could Floo-call them whenever he liked.

However, that idea was shortly lived when he had realized that they hadn't given him any Floo powder once he'd arrived at Number four Privet Drive.

Unlike many of the other times he'd been here at the Dursley's, his wand and school supplies weren't stripped from him, he was allowed his things so long as he didn't use them. It was strange, but the Dursley's had somehow dragged up some semblance of respect for him, at least enough for them not to slander his parents and ruin his self esteem. Maybe it was the spell damage to his arm and leg, maybe it was the fact that he actually survived something no one else has. Or maybe it's because they finally found out just how close they'd come to being murdered in their house without him.

Harry scratched his smooth hairless chin with a small sigh and stretched his aching spine. Not only is he behind in the height and weight departments, but he's also as hairless as he was when he was ten. He reckoned that that should be okay, that he should be happy that he didn't have to suffer through cuts on his face, the stinging sensation of after shave and the thought of having a razor blade so close to his face. Harry had been reasoning with himself all Summer. But so far? It's just another thing that he's missing out on, something normal.

Even Ron had at least a small patch of hair growing on his chin, though somehow that's not the most unbelievable thing, what with Ron's height and weight. Ron was Normal, Hermione was Normal, the Weasley's were Normal. And him? He was abnormal, a freak. He couldn't even grow facial hair!

Harry swiped under his eyes, feeling the black bags and sleep still there in the corners. He hadn't been able to sleep as well as usual, though before he would've been lucky to sleep for at least six hours. Now? He could only sleep for three -maybe four- hours at a time, and it was showing bright and clear on his face just how little he was sleeping. Even his blind and uncaring Aunt, Uncle and cousin were showing some semblances of worry.

Harry wished he could owl Hermione so he could ask her why he hadn't been sleeping well. Voldemort's gone, so why can't he sleep normally without being plagued by the snake-faced twat? He'd put it down to separation anxiety the first week here, a most astute and logical observation, seeing as he'd had the man in his head since he was one, but as his stay here was drawing to a close and his birthday drew nearer, he began to worry that it was something else entirely. Sure there was the empty feeling in his mind where Voldemort had claimed as his own -that he wasn't upset for having-, but there was this other feeling of emptiness right in the middle of his chest. It ached every minute of the day and night, a constant reminder of something he hadn't yet worked out.

Harry certainly didn't feel anything for Voldemort other than anger and he definitely wasn't close with the bastard, so why the feeling of emptiness? Like there was a hole where his heart was? He could only speculate that it was due to his aching to be with his family and friends, to be with Sirius in some domestic house in the middle of no where, to be taking care of his Godson whenever Remus and Tonks wanted a night out. To just be with his friends and enjoy himself for once, without the threat of death hanging over them.

At that thought, Harry sat up and looked to the dark window beside his bed, watching the shadows at the edge of the wards shift and move. Sighing to himself about bloody Death Eater's, he settled himself on the seat in front of the window and made himself comfortable in the groove. Whenever he awoke from his pitiful sleep, he always found himself sitting in front of the window, reminding himself that there were still people out there looking for him. A reminder that he couldn't leave no matter what, though whether it was to run away or not, was unclear.

It was revealed to him -after the several celebrations and his recovery that is- that a few of Voldemort's inner circle members had escaped just a few minutes after Voldemort had been defeated. Very important members. The Lestranges, Dolohov, Yaxley, Rookwood, Macnair, Fenrir, and Pettigrew. He let out a feral hiss at the thought of Pettigrew. He couldn't wait to track down the pathetic rat and destroy him once and for all; the very reason Harry was without parents and Voldemort having risen at all.

After quite some time of him screaming his head off at the senior members of the Order -the ones he knows of at least-, he'd calmed down enough to ask just how they'd escaped. Their answer was not as he had expected of Voldemort's closest followers. He'd assumed that the Unforgivable's were used, or something equally as dark.

It turned out that they escaped by the skin of their teeth, managing to use the Confundus charm on a surprised Bill Weasley and a temporary blindness charm on a trigger happy Charlie Weasley, but before they could make their escape and Disapparate outside the wards, Kingsley had managed to shoot off a strong severing charm. It had hit Rookwood's arm, which they'd left behind in a last ditch effort to escape. Harry wasn't sad to hear about that.

"Harry?"

Harry turned in surprise at the unexpected visitor. "Aunt Petunia?" He asked dumbly. He hadn't realized just how unused his voice was until he'd spoken. He cleared his throat and glanced at the alarm clock. It was eight thirty. "What's going on?" He asked.

Surprise flickered across her face, before she frowned tersely at him as if he was making a lame joke that she found insulting. "There's a group of ..." She hesitated, her face scrunching up as if garbage was shoved under her nose. "There's a group of wizards outside the house, and no matter what we do they won't leave. They keep asking for you."

Harry glanced out the window again, this time actually taking in what was out there. Picture perfect gardens, carefully mowed lawns, sprinklers still spouting water and gleaming cars trapped under streetlights. He blinked when he noticed the motion sensor lights his uncle had installed a few weeks ago were on, and a small group of important looking wizards were stood conversing intensely with each other at the end of the drive. He squinted at one of the wizards chests and saw a glint of silver. They were Ministry workers.

"I don't know who they are, but they're wearing Ministry badges," muttered Harry, frowning to himself. He wondered if they'd come here to arrest him for his actions at the Ministry and his murdering of Voldemort's followers. And they probably had, considering how long it'd taken for them to take over the reigns for the Wizarding world and restore order to the chaos and mayhem, they were probably here to issue a late arrest warrant for him for killing and destroying most of the Ministry Atrium. The two battles waged there had probably destroyed just about everything.

"Is this about that - that war?" Asked Aunt Petunia timidly, knotting her bony arms across her chest. After all, Petunia Dursley was not one for fighting, for whatever reason it was, and she looked down upon the war with an upturned nose. She was all for backstabbing and digging up dirt to post about on her enemies, especially that Mrs. Number Five. She loved dragging a good name through the mud, if only to watch them struggle to recover from the stains.

Harry didn't want to say anything, he wanted her to back out of his room and go back to making dinner downstairs, but he knew she wouldn't. Not unless he expressly told her to, and not even he wanted to wreck the shaky truce that they'd all made since he'd come back to them. "Most likely," he said, rather stiffly.

Aunt Petunia's blue eyes narrowed suspiciously at his vague answer, but she didn't call him on it. "Well, make them leave," she said tersely, before disappearing from his doorway in a swirl of pastel pink.

Harry got up slowly, ignoring the twinges in his leg and shoulder and ignored the need to cover up and instead grabbed his wand from the nightstand. He'd just have to go out there with a naked chest, he couldn't stand the thought of having to put on a shirt, especially as it took too long and was extremely painful. He carefully hobbled out of the room with a hand trailing along the wall until he came to the stairs, instead guiding himself down the stairs with the banister. His damaged leg wobbled ominously, threatening a fall.

Dudley met him at the bottom of the stairs, his chubby frame shaking lightly and his small watery blue eyes wide. "There's wizards outside," he said dumbly, extending his arm to give support. It had been a surprise to everyone when Dudley began helping Harry about the house, even attempting to do the hardest of chores for the pain riddled teen. Though that service had been cut short abruptly when Dudley found out just how hard those chores were. Dudley still helped, even if he left the hardest of chores for Harry to do.

Harry nodded jerkily and sucked in a breath when his damaged leg caved in at the knee. He gripped Dudley's slightly chubby arm tightly, ignoring the small squeak of pain that was emitted and hobbled past him to the door. He glanced at himself in the mirror beside the door and winced at the pale and slightly sickly look to his face, the purple bags were prominent against his pale pallor.

"You can't go out there looking like that!" Dudley protested, his large face wobbling as he shook his head frantically. "Mum'll kill you if the neighbors saw you!"

"I'll be back in a minute, no one will see anything," Harry said, before taking advantage of Dudley's dumbfounded silence to quickly slip out of the house. His wand was in his hand and pointing at their feet when he joined them in the light. He had to be careful, he didn't know if they were Death Eater's in disguise or not.

The small group of wizards at the edge of the property all stopped speaking at once and turned to face him in sync. There were four of them, all wearing strict Ministry official robes. One of them looked to be the youngest at forty and the eldest at eighty in the least. He inspected them, watching them as they scrutinized him. His wand hummed in his right hand, ready for if they were to attack him.

"Yes?" Harry asked cautiously, shuffling uncomfortably as his leg gave out a particularly nasty twinge. He had to focus, shut out the pain.

"Ah - yes, Mister Potter," The youngest wizard wheezed, smiling widely at him with crooked teeth. "I feel I must apologize for the intrusion upon your privacy, the Order surely didn't make finding you any easier than normal."

Harry's eyebrows shot up incredulously at the man. "I'm sorry?" He asked bemusedly. Well, it was a nice way for him to be arrested, he supposed. He pushed his glasses back up his nose with the back of his hand and squinted his eyes at them.

The youngest wizard of the four grinned cheerily and waved him off as if batting away a compliment. "No, no, it's alright, Mister Potter, we've found you anyhow," He said blithely. "I am Markus Delaine of the Department of Magical and Creature Inheritances, this is my colleague, Derrick Michael." He gestured to the slightly older wizard to his left with another sickly happy grin. Derrick inclined his balding grey head politely and respectfully, smiling slightly at the confused look on Harry's face.

"Erkle Higgon, Department of Familial Inheritances," said the eldest man brusquely in his deep voice, still eyeing him closely. He reminded Harry of Moody. Maybe it was the deep wrinkles in the mans pale skin, or the way he was looking so closely at him, it was like the man had two of those twirling eyes of Moody's.

The last man looked fatherly and warm, even with an apologetic smile on his face,and bowed lightly at the waist, revealing a small island of pale skin on the top of his grey head, his right fist coming up to rest on his left shoulder. "An absolute honor to meet you, Mister Potter," he said thickly, actually looking close to tears. "I am Erason Linn, also of the Department of Familial Inheritances. It is an enormous pleasure to meet you."

Harry stared at them all blankly, his mind barely putting the words together in his mind. Department of ... What

After what felt like an eternity, he realized what they'd said. Finally, it clicked. It was his birthday in just three hours, so they were here for him, but they weren't going to arrest him. "Harry Potter, it's a pleasure to meet you all," he said hurriedly, noticing the slightly hurt look on Erason's fatherly face. "I - sorry, I was being rude, I haven't been getting much sleep lately."

As if triggered, the eldest man fumbled for something in his inner robe pocket. He produced a small golden pocket watch and glanced quickly at its face for a brief moment, before dropping it back into place. "Yes, well, we must be on our way, we've already lost enough time as it is," Erkle said waspishly, turning to glare at Markus expectantly. "Markus," he snapped.

Aside from being snapped at, Markus stepped closer to the wards with a bounce in his step and beckoned Harry forward with a crooked finger.

Harry hobbled over as quickly as he could, especially after seeing the look on Erkle's face and stopped just before the wards ended. He almost collapsed at Markus' feet in a groaning mess when his knee crumpled in on itself painfully, but he kept his face blank despite the shocking pain. That didn't go unnoticed by the four Ministry officials, but they seemed too consumed with the thought of losing so much time, that they didn't comment.

Markus produced a large cream scroll wrapped in a royal blue ribbon, an unsettling grin perched across his thin lips that barely covered the crooked teeth behind them. "Mister Potter, you have been issued your full inheritance letters due to recent events allowing you to enter manhood earlier than usual, as the rules per person is required that for one to receive their inheritances, they must be of age. However, that rule is redundant considering the terms your inheritances have been issued upon. Now, usually an owl would deliver your inheritance letters, but seeing as the Order of the Phoenix has not authorized owls to deliver you any letters, we were required to deliver them by hand," he said, only pausing to take in a much needed breath that Harry marveled at. "When the clock strikes midnight tonight, you shall be able to read these scrolls fully. But do try not to read them until then, they tend to be a bit temperamental to those who try to take a peek outside of the allotted time," he warned merrily, pushing the scroll as far as it could go before his hand collided with the ward.

Harry took the scroll quietly and thanked him, watching as a jubilant Markus stepped back with a, "Cheerio, Mister Potter!" and disappeared with a quiet pop. Derrick was quick to quietly hand him his own scroll, that was wrapped in an emerald ribbon. Harry thanked him as well but was distracted from watching him disapparate by Erkle practically tossing him his own scroll, though this one was slightly thicker than the others and was wrapped in a crimson ribbon. He too disappeared, though he didn't hang around long enough for Harry to thank him. Not that he was going to.

Last was Erason, who hesitated to give his own scroll, but did so nonetheless. It was the thickest of all, and was wrapped in a purple ribbon. Erason smiled sadly. "What you're going to read tonight will shock you, Mr Potter, but not quite as much as what will happen. A great deal of transitioning and revealing will be happening tonight," he said vaguely, seeming so at odds with the man he'd been just before, gazing at him.

"What d'you mean?" Harry asked quietly, watching the elderly wizard before him carefully. He wasn't stupid, he knew what inheritance letters were, he just didn't know what they meant for him or what happened to one when one received them. Especially as he himself had received his early.

Erason frowned at him. "These are inheritance letters, Mister Potter, many things are about to change tonight come your birthday. Your appearance, your magic and your views on your family, among other things," he said resolutely before he looked away from Harry and focused on something down the street, his eyes casting a faraway look. "There might be an addition or two into your family as well," he said, a small smile crinkling up the corner of his lips. "But I wouldn't worry too much on that. Have a good day, Mister Potter, I look forward to meeting you again in the future. And happy birthday."

"Mister Linn - what -" Harry tried to say, but Erason Disapparated before he could even begin asking his questions. Why did he get his inheritance letters early? Why so many? Why and how would he change physically? Who was he talking about? What the hell was going on?

Harry looked down at the bundle of scrolls in his hands as if asking for reassurance that what had just happened had really just happened. A door opening down the way forced him into action and he quickly hobbled his way back inside the house before someone would see him, clutching the scrolls to his naked chest protectively. He made to go back upstairs, but was stopped by aunt Petunia's stern pale face and uncle Vernon's bulging red one. The vein on his forehead was bulging as largely as it did before the truce, but Vernon held his tongue. Thankfully.

"Have you no shame?!" Burst Aunt Petunia angrily. "What would the neighbors think if they saw you outside like that?" She snapped worriedly, her forehead creasing. She leaned around him to peer out of the glass window beside the door, checking to see if any neighbors were pressing their faces to the glass to try and glean some information.

Harry could hear her hiss and yell other things at him, but all he could think about or see were the scrolls. His inheritance scrolls. Some of them were bound to be from his parents, but which ones? He could hardly think that he'd inherit some creature feature from his mother or father. But even if they did have creature blood, why didn't Sirius or Remus tell him? Better yet, what about Dumbledore?

"What are they?" Asked Aunt Petunia calmly, over her rant. She ran her fingers through her hair carefully and pursed her lips distastefully. Uncle Vernon looked slightly better for wear, if the disappearance of his bulging vein and his skin paling to its natural color was any evidence.

"They're my inheritance scrolls," Harry said slowly, staring at the four thick tubes of parchment in his hands as if they were a puzzle he couldn't figure out. Would he inherit any properties left over from his paternal grandparents? Would he inherit the house in Godric's Hollow? Something cooled in his stomach at that thought. Even if he did, he wouldn't go there. Ever.

"Inheritance scrolls?" Asked Aunt Petunia warily, she herself beginning to look confused. "What on in God's green ..."

"Inheritance?" Asked Dudley suddenly. "As in money and properties and stuff?" He wondered, waddling out of the lounge room to peer curiously at the parchment in Harry's hands. Dudley either ignored the looks he was getting from his parents or he was honestly oblivious to them.

Harry shrugged, though he stopped short as it caused a ripple of teeth-cracking pain to blossom in his shoulder. "Mister Linn said that I'd be inheriting a lot of things, that apparently I'll be changing physically and magically, I suppose that also means inheriting some properties and family vaults too, but I'm not entirely sure. The Muggle world is a lot more different than the Wizarding world."

Aside from a little bit of spluttering at the Wizarding terms, Uncle Vernon didn't say a thing. He merely clamped his mouth shut and nodded as if to agree with whatever Harry was saying. Though he did redden a little bit around the neck.

"When are you inheriting these things?" Aunt Petunia asked reluctantly, her slight frame quivering lightly.

"At midnight," said Harry absently, his mind too focused on thinking about how he could get away from them without causing trouble. He didn't have much time to prepare for this, it was almost half past ten already. He was lucky that he'd already eaten, if he hadn't he wasn't going to after this little discovery.

"Midnight?" Snapped Aunt Petunia, her lips tightening into a stiff line. "What kind of stupid people are they to force someone to stay up at such an indecent hour? People need their rest!"

Harry shrugged his good shoulder at her, remembering at the last second just how bad it was to shrug with his injured shoulder. "I don't know, Aunt Petunia, but I think I might go upstairs and rest for a little while, I need to get ready," he murmured. He made his way past them, bracing himself on the banister and stepping carefully up the first few steps on the staircase, his spell damaged knee giving unhealthy twinges and clicks, the bones grinding slightly as he forced it to bend. Whatever color he'd gained in his face during the talk with the Ministry officials, was surely drained once more. 

"Will it hurt?" Asked Dudley, voice quivering with worry. Harry looked back at him in surprise. "I - I mean, will you keep us up late with any screaming?" The dusky blonde asked lamely, the tips of his ears a painful bright red.

Harry paused, thinking hard about what Erason had said. He turned back to the stairs. "I'll try to bite my tongue when something particularly painful happens," he said dryly, continuing his retreat back upstairs, the stares of his relatives dulling with every crunching step to the tiny box room until they were gone completely. His half-full belly bubbled and clenched with nerves and anticipation, roiling dangerously in rebellion of his nerves, and as he laid himself out on the small lumpy bed, he couldn't help but feel incredibly sick. Bile surged into his throat, and gurgling on the acid, he forced himself to swallow it back down. 

He had to be strong.

 

-oOoOoOoOo-

It was eleven fifty-three and all Harry could do was sit patiently beside the pile of scrolls on his bed and watch the illuminated numbers on his alarm clock quietly flick by. It would have been boring for his best friends, to sit by and watch as their birthdays drew nearer and nearer, but to Harry, it was a tradition. Since he was a child, and after asking Aunt Petunia when his birthday was, he had always sat by a clock, or watched through the slit in his cupboard door as the clock hanging on the wall ticked closer to twelve. It was long ingrained in him to always sit by a clock now, but now wasn't really all to do with tradition.

He reckoned that he should brace himself for the coming pain, but then he thought about it, he's already in enough pain from the spell damage to his leg and shoulder, what could adding more pain hurt? Other than him, of course.

Aunt Petunia was buzzing around the kitchen downstairs, Harry could hear her washing the dishes she'd washed just a few hours before, and hear her stern voice muttering to herself, though he couldn't hear about what. Most likely about what errands she would run in the morning. Uncle Vernon was drinking his expensive alcohol in the sitting room, Harry could hear the clinking of the glass bottles against glass cups every five minutes, watching the nearly silent television and huffing every so often. Harry knew he only did that when a particularly stressful situation happened upon them, or he had a day off from work the next day. Harry knew it was the former, though, since it was Thursday tomorrow, and the man had work. He would have assured himself that Dudley was in his room asleep, lest his darling son see him drunk and less than respectable. No, that side was reserved only for Harry, because when he drank, he became violent, and when he became violent he didn't want to damage anything irreplaceable.

To Uncle Vernon, Harry could be replaced - not that he'd want to, anyway. If he damaged Harry a little too much, then that was that. 

Eleven fifty-seven PM.

Harry let out a resigned sigh. Three minutes 'til twelve, and then he could open his scrolls. His fingers felt a little numb, he realized, when he reached out to line them all up on the rumpled bedspread. It was like his fingers were stuck in that silly putty barrel Dudley had gotten for his birthday when he was nine. He clenched them into a lazy, sluggish fist - and not because he wasn't exerting enough strength. His breath caught in his throat, and he swallowed heavily, tongue feeling much too heavy to speak. Not that he was going to, anyway.

Two minutes to go and his inheritance would begin. His body felt like pins were poking him all over, almost like when he'd sat on his leg for a long period of time and it had fallen asleep. He forced himself swallow the saliva pooling in his mouth, though he couldn't help but feel it was akin to poison, and lethargically wiped his numb hands on his tingling thighs, his breathing becoming just a little shoddy and shuddering.

Pain suddenly struck in his chest, and he worked to breathe in and out. Gasping, he clumsily grabbed the frame of his glasses and yanked them from his face, throwing them somewhere in the direction of the window as his arm spasmed. He looked at the clock, alarmed. It was earlier than twelve. A broken whimper escaped him, followed by a rasped breath, and he cringed as the tearing pain in his chest cavity increased.

An army of twisted, barbed knives grew under his skin and burrowed into his flesh like a nuffler after gold, tearing and gripping at every nerve-ending in his body with teeth sharper and far more vicious than any other creature, and his mouth fell open in a silent scream as the tearing in his chest increased. It was worse than he'd ever imagined, worse than Voldemort's - or anyone's Cruciatus curse. His stomach rebelled and his lungs burned with the pain, he was breathing fire with every sharp and jagged exhale and inhale. The pain was so intense, so concentrated, that every cell in his body felt as if it were being torn and cut by those knives. Suddenly, invisible barbed chains hooked around his ankles and wrists, and yanked, the sharp spikes burrowing into his flesh and pulling. His spine arched off the bed when a wave of electricity shot through him, his eyes flying open in absolute terror. He could hear no more.

Down the hallway and opposite Harry's room, Dudley shot up from his bed as fast as his large body allowed, shocked, but unsurprised by his cousin's tortured scream, and he damn near yanked his door off its hinges to get it open. He almost tripped over his own feet in the effort to get to Harry's room, and he heard a plate shatter over the sound of another scream that sounded just that louder than before. He knew his mother had dropped it, but he was too worried and concerned for his cousin than his mother. He raced to Harry's door, and pried it open with shaking fingers, fearful of what he'd find inside his second bedroom.

His piggish eyes widened, his mouth dropped open, and a small cry escaped him as he stared in horror. Harry was panting wildly and twisting in odd ways on his bed, his face screwed up in a continuous silent scream, and his pale face devoid of all color and slick with sweat. Dudley paled at seeing blood dribbling from the corner of Harry's mouth, parting into small streams of sweat that slid down the side of Harry's cheek in pink rivers. Harry gurgled, and a small spray of blood flew from his open mouth, landing on his chin and chest.

“Mum!” Cried Dudley, rushing into the room to Harry's twisting side. “MUM!” He shrieked, frantically gripping his cousin's twisting pale hands fiercely, trying to give him an outlet for his pain. He regretted it when the blood flow was cut off from his hands and his bones felt like they were breaking, his knuckles grinding in their sockets and Harry's hands leaving bruises in their wake.

“What's happened –-? DEAR LORD!” Petunia screamed, scrambling to the doorway of her nephew's room. Her knees weakened and buckled at the sight of her nephew's writhing form, barely registering the fact that Dudley needed her help, but she kept upright by gripping at the door frame.

“Mum, help me!” Dudley cried, looking over his shoulder with pained eyes.

Petunia lurched into action immediately and grabbed a few old shirts and socks from the floor, perfect for what she needed. She rushed to Harry's side and pinned his right ankle to one of the bed posts and circled one of the socks around it, tying it tightly into a knot that she knew he wouldn't escape from without help. She did the same for his other ankle, noting how Harry was trying desperately to free his limbs, terrified out of his mind. A tear escaped her eye as she saw the recent sore, blackened and damaged knee tremble under her nephew's writhing. But it couldn't be helped - she had no potions to knock Harry out, and she wasn't about to knock his head against something when he already hardly trusted her. No, this was the next best thing.

“Pin his hand, Dudley!” She said, moving around the opposite side of the bed to grapple Harry's right hand to the headboard and tie it into place while he was distracted with his pinned feet. He struggled, screaming and writhing furiously on the impossibly tangled bedspread, but no matter how hard he tugged, he could not remove his feet or hand from the bed. He groaned loudly in pain at the fire roaring in his damaged leg, tears escaping his vibrant green eyes. 

Panicking, Dudley slammed Harry's furiously resisting left hand to the headboard and struggled to hold it there, wincing sympathetically as Harry let out a howl of pain that he couldn't hold back. That was his spell damaged arm, the one that he had almost lost to a decaying spell. Petunia wasn't nearly so sympathetic, for she immediately tied the last shirt around his arm and headboard like a spider spinning a web, securing it tightly into the same knot she used for his other limbs.

And no sooner had she done this, that a series of small, but painfully loud cracks and snaps sounded in the semi silent room, followed by howls of pain and horror that seemed to stretch on forever.

Simultaneously, Dudley and Petunia looked down at Harry's flailing body and watched as Harry's legs slowly extended and warped until his feet were planted firmly against the small bed posts, where before, there were several inches of space. The blankets bunched up under his heels, and elevated his legs and the damaged knee, which began to slowly lose its blackened color and match the health of the other knobbly knee. There was a small silence, where Harry's screams tapered off into panting.

“Did they just… grow?” Whispered Dudley, face flushing a harsh green.

Petunia flushed a dusky color at the sight of Harry's arms also inching outward until his elbows were lined with the edges of the small single bed, where before they rested in the middle. She looked up at Dudley, ignoring the dryness in her mouth. “Dudley, go back to your room,” she said, racing around the room to search for another shirt. She needed to keep Harry silent, not only would the neighbors report them, but she didn't want to hear Harry -let alone anyone- screaming so painfully. She couldn't bear it.

“But I wanna help him –!“ Dudley protested frantically, though his face turned a darker shade of green when another crack was heard. He was seriously doubting if he wanted to help at that minute.

Petunia glared at her son -the only time she'd ever done that- and put her hands on her hips. “I need to take care of him, Dudley, and I need to do that now. I don't want you getting sick from all this magic -!”

“But you -!” Dudley tried to interrupt angrily.

“I GREW UP WITH IT!” Petunia burst out, stressfully tangling her hands in her hair to try and keep herself from smacking her son upside the head. She sucked in a deep breath. They stared at each other for a moment, the both of them in shock. Before a loud moan of pain reached Petunia's ears and she broke out of the stupor.

She angrily led Dudley out of the room and into the hallway to give Harry privacy, where she saw a wary Vernon just ascending the stairs with wide, dazed eyes. She paid her drunk husband no mind and rounded on her teary-eyed son. “I'm sorry for yelling, Duddeykins, but I grew up with this, I don't want you getting hurt if Harry can't control his magic. I need my mind on him right now, and I can't have that if I'm worrying about you.”

“But you could get hurt too!” Dudley interrupted tearfully.

Petunia smiled at him, bringing her hand up to softly touch his cheek. “I'll be fine, Duddy, I went through this with my sister, I know what to expect.” Obviously it must be different for every witch or wizard, she thought to herself worriedly, but kept her face devoid of any emotion but tenderness for her son so that he would not freak out. Lily never broke her bones when she inherited our parents fortune. Something isn't right.

“You promise?” Asked Dudley in a small quivering voice, sounding childish with his request.

Petunia looked down at the center of her existence, the reason she got up every morning with a smile on her face, her baby boy. “Yes, Duddy,” she said softly, tenderly stroking his round cheek. “I promise.”

Her promise was founded on the fact that she was related to Harry by blood the most, therefore, her blood would act as a shield against any harmful accidental magic that would occur. Everything her sister taught her about magic, especially around the time of her inheritance, was still firmly ingrained in her mind.

A scream of utter pain, the loudest so far, broke through her thoughts, and she looked into the room to see Harry's back arching off of the bed, his naked upper body twitching and shuddering as further changes settled in.

“Go downstairs, Dudley,” she said to her son hurriedly. “I want you to fill up a large bowl with warm water and fetch me a wash cloth, give it to me and then go right to bed.”

Dudley nodded furiously and raced away from her, passing by his father like a two-legged bullet. He was a man on a mission. Petunia smiled fondly at her son's retreating back, before reality set in. Harry. She needed to help and silence Harry. 

Seeing her blink, Vernon opened his mouth to say something, his rotund body swaying unevenly on his feet, but quite quickly, she quelled him with a stern look. She had no time for any of his drunken nonsense, she had her nephew to care for. She ignored him and went back into the small room again, noting absent-mindedly how tiny it was, especially for a boy of his age, but that didn't matter right now. She rushed to the battered second-hand dresser she'd given Harry when he was younger, and pulled out the top drawer. She reached for the closest t-shirt there was and yanked it out hurriedly, hearing Harry's loud panting becoming louder and louder behind her. He was readying himself to scream, she could tell.

She ripped at the tattered old shirt and rushed to wrap it around Harry's open mouth. She hesitated when his eyes opened and focused on her, feeling as if she was doing the wrong thing by gagging him. But what else could she do? She couldn't make him pass out or purposefully hit him to make him unconscious. Gagging him was the best she could do on such short hand.

“I'm so sorry, Harry,” she whimpered, tilting his head forward by sliding her hand into the mess of sweaty hair on the back of his head, she quickly slid the strip of fabric over his open mouth, bunching a little so it filled his mouth, before tying the ends at the back of his head. She could feel that a handful or so of his hair had lodged themselves into the knot as well, and hoped Harry wouldn't mind having a patch of uneven hair at the back of his head.

“It's okay, Harry,” she said, brushing back the hair from his sweaty forehead tenderly, ignoring the oddly shaped scar atop his left eyebrow. “It's going to be okay, you'll be fine. It'll all be over soon, I promise.” She felt odd comforting him like this, she'd never been so ... loving or caring towards him before. And that was her mistake. She knew it as soon as he'd arrived back at her house, how distant and jumpy he was around her family. Vernon especially so.

Petunia didn't know why, but her throat burned in the familiar way that it did whenever she was going to cry. She was ashamed of herself, she'd ostracized her sister's son merely because of two decades worth of jealousy. She was never going to do that again. She was never going to put Harry back in the cupboard under the stairs, she was never going to allow Vernon to hit him, she was never going to be short with him. No matter what. She owed it to him and to her sister.  

Harry whimpered as he stared fearfully up at Petunia with watery emerald eyes. Lily's emerald eyes. Petunia swallowed back the heartache she rarely let show, and continued to try and calm Harry down. This is Harry, not Lily, she reminded herself harshly, still staring into the large green orbs that her nephew had inherited from his mother. From Lily.

Harry clamped his teeth down on the bunched up fabric in his mouth with a muffled scream, trying his best to hold them back, but ultimately failing under the torture. But it was so hard. The pain he was feeling was far worse than the many times he'd been under the Cruciatus curse. The pain was so strong that it seeped into his bones, it was pure agony, there was nothing, absolutely nothing in the world that could be worse than this. There were millions of tiny, sharp, crooked and jagged knives tearing at him all from under his skin, hooking and pulling until all he felt was the blood in his veins filling up his body, as if he were nothing but a bag of blood.

Madame Pomfrey's Skelegrow would be a welcome relief at this moment, not to mention the Cruciatus curse. Oh but the pain, the pain! It burnt him, roasted him from the inside out, he was breathing fire. The pain was so thorough in his body, he felt it in his teeth, in his eyes and even in his ears and nose. It was everywhere. It was like bathing in a pool of molten lava.

The only welcome relief he had, was when he'd bitten his tongue. He'd felt, as much as tasted, the cool liquid flowing from the teeth marks, it was his blood, but when had it gotten to be so cool? However, that relief was gone as soon as his throat went fuzzy and the marks in his tongue faded. He'd tried to bite his tongue again, but he couldn't close his jaw enough to, and the gag got in the way.

His skin was crawling, as if there were tiny sharp footed creatures stomping around his body, both inside and out.

"Ssh, Harry," Petunia cooed upon feeling Harry's forehead bunch up, she ran her fingers along the smooth skin, avoiding the lightning bolt scar totally, remembering how he used to wake up screaming, clasping a hand against it. Those were the only times she'd ever gone to make sure that he was okay, or rather, to tell him to shut up. She winced at the memories, before returning to reality and brushing her hand across his face again. "Ssh, it'll all be over soon, it'll pass."

Petunia jumped back when something under her hand moved and Harry let out a muffled roar of agony. She could hardly believe her eyes. Harry's pale skin was rippling like water, shifting his entire bone structure in small waves. She blinked harshly, not believing that this was happening. Although Harry's lips were stretched over the fabric in his mouth, they seemed to become plumper and pinker, looking softer and softer as time went by. His teeth, she could see, were straightening and becoming whiter and ... pointier?

Petunia could not stand this, she couldn't be here to watch her nephew change like this, she just couldn't.

And so, like the coward she knew she was, Petunia Dursley abandoned her nephew in his hour of need. In his hour of utmost pain.

She just left.

Chapter Text

 1. The Inheritance Scrolls 

Harry woke in the early hours of the morning on the first of August with a frown already perched across his face. His arms, legs and back were so uncomfortably stiff from lying so still that he felt brittle, his bones ready to snap. His mouth felt like sandpaper, almost like he'd swallowed one of his uncle's dirty old socks. He opened his eyes to peer at the alarm clock beside him and groaned at the sight of the three illuminated numbers. 6:12 AM.

But he was soon distracted by something utterly peculiar.

He could see everything without his glasses! He could see the dust moats floating about in the sunlight, swirling with every breath or change of wind in the room and shining with multiple colors. He took in the odd individual brush strokes of the chipping white paint on the walls around him, the small flecks of rainbows gleaming from the cracks when the sun hit them, and the few tiny spiders that were housed there.

He'd never known there were so many colors in his plain old room, all he saw was white, white and white. This proved that his eyesight was far better than before, far better than Hermione or Ron's, in fact, and he knew that their eyesight was twenty-twenty. His eyes were sharper than they'd ever been, so concentrated on the little things he'd never known he'd missed - such as the many shades of white in his room. He was shocked. He could even see the small holes around the window that used to hold the bars his uncle had once put up, and he wasn't that close to the window, nor was the sunlight illuminating it yet.

He tried to swallow his nerves, but was stopped by something damp and frayed strung taut in his mouth. He blinked. There was a gag in his mouth. He went to move his stiff limbs to yank it out, but yet again, he was stopped by damp and frayed fabric. Both of his wrists' were tied to the headboard with what looked to be strips of his old shirts. He cursed inwardly and struggled to slide his wrists from the knots, but stopped with a wince when all he managed to achieve was an ache that told him he'd done this for long periods of time before, and succeeded with no more than he had then. 

He pondered why all of this would be happening while he kicked his feet to try and help lift himself up, but was yet again stopped by the same binds his wrists were in. He froze, quite suddenly and stiffly as something occurred to him. It was incredibly silent in the house, where there should have been snoring louder than a train emanating from the rooms further down the hall.

Were we ambushed and attacked? He thought wildly, realizing the implications of him being tied to his bed. What if the Death Eaters had managed to get past the wards? Did they get Aunt Petunia and Dudley? Are they still alive, or are they tied up like me?

He had to get free, he had to make sure his family were okay! He pushed his tongue forcefully against the bunched up fabric in his mouth and felt it pull away a little, the frayed edges splitting under the pressure. He needed to get it out and now before someone comes up to check on him, or worse.

He needed to get angry, he had to get worked up, to get his magic moving about. Pettigrew is in the house, Pettigrew is in the house, Pettigrew is in the house… He inwardly chanted, each time getting angrier and angrier until he tensed, his muscles bunching up like a snake coiling itself to spring. His jaw snapped shut around the fabric in his mouth one final time.

The fabric of his old t-shirt tore away from his mouth with a small dull snap of its own, falling limp on either side of his cheeks with saliva trailing after the ends. He could feel that some of his hair on the back of his head was snagged in the tight knot; whoever had gagged him had done it rather sloppily. But, if they had bound and gagged him up so much, why hadn't he woken up? Surely they didn't use any magic on him, the house would be crawling with Ministry workers by now if they had.

Instead of giving himself a headache, he paid that thought no mind and resumed his attempts at freeing himself from the knots around his wrists.

Pettigrew, he thought furiously, picturing the rat faced bastard whimpering and sucking up to one of the Death Eater's downstairs as they tortured Harry's aunt and uncle. He strained his wrists away from the headboard as harshly as he could, feeling the muscles in his shoulders and upper back tensing and rippling. He needed to save them!

He was almost flung across the room by the amount of force he'd used, when the t-shirts gave way around his wrists, dangling limply around the headboard with their knots still intact. Harry barely noticed that his shoulder no longer ached, and his headboard was now splintered on either side, as he immediately set to his task of ripping away at the binds around his ankles.

Once he was free from any and all binds -aside from the gag still snagged in his hair-, Harry snatched up his wand and quietly began to creep down the hall, and then gradually downstairs. He ducked his head into Dudley's room on the way, noting how the covers on the bed were tangled and thrown on the floor. A sign of struggle, possibly, though it was rather hard to tell when the blonde's room was always in that condition of a morning. 

Although Dudley was hardly one to get up at six in the morning on a Thursday.

Noise was coming from the kitchen, sounding almost as if Aunt Petunia was cooking breakfast as usual. But he knew that she wasn't, it was probably the Death Eaters ransacking the house, searching for some odd ends of importance. He'd just made it down the stairs and was creeping towards the kitchen door when he heard the Death Eaters speak.

... okay?” asked a man's muffled voice.

I'm not sure,” came Aunt Petunia's muffled voice from the other side of the glass kitchen door. Harry quietly pressed himself against the wall, keeping his wand pointed down in case he had to aim it either way. “I - I left him when he began.. changing.

Harry frowned at the last word. When who was changing? Did someone stop by Privet Drive and get changed? 

It's all right, Petunia,” said the same familiar voice calmly, soothing Harry even from the other side of the door, although there was the familiar sparks of anger still there from just being dumped at the Dursley's with no fucking communication at all. “I'm sure he's fine, this sort of thing happens to most young wizards all the time when they reach an early majority, it's natural. But if it eases your mind, I could go and wake him?

No! Uh, no, thank you,” said Aunt Petunia hurriedly. Harry watched her silhouette dart across the kitchen curiously, relaxing just a tad when she stopped in front of her seat. “He needs his rest, what with last night's.. events. I don't want to wake him for a little while longer, at least until lunch is ready for him and he has enough strength to get his things together."

What did happen last night, Petunia?” asked the familiar voice quietly. Harry could see their silhouette in the sunlight clearly from where he stood, flyaway hair that looked a muddy brown through the glass. He relaxed slightly against the wall, relieved that nothing bad had actually happened. Well, not to them apparently, it was now obvious who sat in the kitchen. "From what you say, Harry's changed beyond belief and recognition and is crippled with an immense pain that has kept him shut up in his room. Is what you say true? Should there be cause for alarm?"

I – he – I'm not quite sure what happened myself, actually,” answered Aunt Petunia shakily, alarming Harry, as her silhouette seemed to wipe at its cheeks furiously. “I've seen Lily go through her own inheritance, when she visited Mother and Father for her birthday when she turned seventeen, but she never broke any bones or was in as much pain as Harry was. It truly frightened me, Mr Lupin, seeing him screaming and writhing and – and –

Ah. Well, it's quite all right, Petunia, I assure you. Inheritances are mostly different for every person, and can be quite tricky to anticipate,” said Remus soothingly. Harry watched the Werewolf's arm reach out and touch Petunia's. She allowed the small touch for a moment, but eventually flinched back. If Remus was annoyed with her reaction or not, he didn't show it. “Harry is a very powerful young wizard, and as things go in the Wizarding world, the more powerful one is, the more drastic the change is. I'm sure he's absolutely fine. He merely needs his time to restore strength and energy, since it was all used during the change to keep his body from shutting down from magical overload. I wouldn't be surprised if he tumbled out of bed by dusk, if I'm to be honest.

But – inheritances are never that bad!” Aunt Petunia protested, her blonde head shaking side to side furiously. “Lily –!

Is not her son,” Remus cut in smoothly, sounding as calming and reassuring as he always did, if a little more firm. “Harry has, with no doubt in my mind, inherited a lot more than just a few properties and vaults from his family. He has both the Potter blood and Evans blood running through his veins, he's bound to inherit a lot more than that. Not to mention the other plentiful bloodlines of his ancestors, which are all powerful and prestigious in their own rights. No, I'm absolutely certain that all is right with him, Petunia. Magic does not punish those whom are innocent, and Harry is most undoubtedly the most innocent boy I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. He is strong, and if anything, Harry can weather a little bit of pain.

But what could he inherit that would cause him to react like that? I saw his skin rippling, Mr Lupin! Rippling as if it were water in a pond and someone had disturbed it!” said Aunt Petunia in a slightly hysterical tone, voice shrill. “It scared me - it scared me so much that I left that poor boy alone in his hour of need. He needed me there with him and I just – I just left him! Bones breaking, skin rippling - damn it, even his teeth changed! And I. Wasn't. There!” She cried.

Petunia, it's not your fault,” Remus assured her, once again reaching out to give aunt Petunia's arm another pat. “It's nobody's fault at all. I'm sure Harry will understand why you left him, he's a very forgiving and understanding boy. He probably already knows that you couldn't handle seeing him in such an awful state.

He shouldn't be,” Aunt Petunia sniffled, unconsciously sticking her nose up in the air and moving her arm away from Remus. “I deserted him in the face of something that was clearly frightening him half to death, and all because I didn't want to see it happening. I don't deserve his forgiveness.

Everybody deserves forgiveness, one way or another. You'll soon see that,” said Remus firmly, and allowed the conversation to rest a little, where in which they both sipped at their cups of tea as if to purge their mouths of the taste of their previously tense topic. Harry edged in a little closer as they began to tentatively talk again, curious to see if Remus would be persistent and start up their discussion about him again, but he was to be disappointed. They were moving onto less serious matters now that Aunt Petunia had been pacified, and Remus was likely to let the matter be laid to rest now that they'd had some sort of conversation about it.

Harry hung by the door for a few more minutes, listening intently to Remus and Aunt Petunia talk, unsure whether one or the other would swing the conversation back around again, but as it continued to drift from his evident 'Inheritance' to the ever rising pricing in supermarkets nowadays, he felt it was OK to leave them be. He gave the door, and the people behind it, one last wary glance, before leaving to silently creep back upstairs, unable to figure out the jumbled mess of thoughts in his head. 

Harry stumbled into his room, utterly bemused, lost, and a mite relieved that Death Eaters hadn't raided the house and trussed him up like a hog, ready to be killed. But then that led him to think about the 'what' of this situation; what they had meant by his 'Inheritance'. It was more than likely something to do with the mess he'd made of his bedspread, the old duvet knotted and torn in most places, and the ripped t-shirts he'd left attached to the bedposts. There wasn't any other possibility of that being something normal. The Dursleys had never tied him down to his bed before, though they'd locked him in small, cramped spaces with the bare minimum. It would've been something very strange to have made them tie him to his bed.

Multiple fingers ran across the top of his bum when he turned to inspect the large bowl of water by his bed, the pink tinged washcloth catching his eye, and he froze at the contact, lips pressing into a grim line and his eyes half shutting in a suspicious glare. 

There was someone in his room.

Slowly and cautiously turning, wand at the ready, he braced himself to cast any defensive spells he knew. But as he turned, half-expecting to see a Death Eater there after all, he saw... no one. There was no one but him. He looked around the room again - and jumped when he felt the same shy touch at the top of his bum again. He spun round on the spot, frowning fiercely as the fingers touched him again and froze. It felt like a reluctant fog was clearing away in his mind, which, upon doing so, seemed to unclog his senses. He finally noticed the very same softness slivered across his entire back.

Harry squeezed his eyes shut and slowly began to reach around his back with his empty left hand, his right hand gripping his wand tightly in the case of an attack, or a need to subdue. His wandering digits encountered something... soft and silky, the texture of the same cut as the fingers. He gave it a harsh tug, which had the unexpected result of his head jerking back and his scalp burning as if he'd - just pulled his hair.

"What the bloody hell?" He hissed, bemused. He released the grip he had enough to let his head fall upright once more, and brought his hand around under his arm to inspect what it was. His jaw dropped at the sight of the silky black strands in his -has his hand always been that long and thin?- hand. He blinked in confusion, sharp eyes seeing the tiny shining rainbows in the ebony hair reflecting in the sunlight as if tiny diamonds were nestled in the bundle, before finally connecting the word 'Inheritance' and him in the same sentence. He thought he finally understood. 

I went through an Inheritance, he thought slowly, blinking owlishly in the light. Something.. normal, by wizard standards, but not, at the same time.

Images of four dumpy men entered his mind; one of them grumpy, two of them silent and one of them disgustingly happy. Though it did take him a moment to remember who they were and where he'd seen them, it didn't take him long to remember why they'd been there.

The scrolls. The forms for his Inheritance.

Rounding the bed, he found all four of them on the floor, thankfully unharmed but otherwise strewn about in different places - as if they'd been kicked or tossed off the bed, which they most likely had been. He picked them up carefully and placed them on the crowded desk top by his bed while he disentangled and calmly fixed his bedspread, although it really wasn't worth it. The duvet and sheets were hardly considered salvageable, rather like reading shredded paper.

After yanking apart the shredded and knotted t-shirts from the bedposts, Harry cast them aside and sat down on the very edge of his bed to calm his tense and incredibly anxious body. Who knew that he couldn't very well do that if he kept thinking of the damage to his room. The damage he caused. Instead, he focused on the scrolls.

One of them is bound to be from my parents to me, a letter or something included to explain things, he thought anxiously, rolling his lower lip in between his teeth and chewing lightly. I can find out who I'm related to, if I have any living cousins or relatives other than Moony and Padfoot to go to. There could be some information on why I changed so much - why my poor eyesight's always been the same as Dad's was, and if he went through the same thing as me. There should be some record as to why he and I both changed, or if Mum and me changed because of our blood. Or why I changed and Dad and Mum didn't seem to. I can finally know some of my family history, why this happened.

Finally calm enough not to accidentally rip one of the heavy scrolls in his shaking hands, Harry reached out and plucked up one of the two thinner scrolls. He paused for a moment, wondering if he should go make an appearance downstairs, just in case he needed someone when opening them. But then, what have the two people seated in the kitchen really done for him? Aunt Petunia would sooner set fire to a cat than go through all things magical with him, and Remus would rather lie to him again than tell him the truth. No, for another time in his life, he needed to be alone, needed to work through this himself.

He inspected the scroll he'd picked up. Wrapped in a thin crimson ribbon, it looked quite innocent, although, most letters and scrolls from the Ministry were anything but innocent. He wondered, absently, if there was supposed to be some meaning behind the color of the ribbon. After a moment of deep silence, with which the scrolls seemed to scream at him, he slid the ribbon off the tube of parchment and slowly unraveled it. Two thick pieces of enchanted parchment were revealed, and Harry picked up the first, narrowing his eyes at the neat cursive writing adorning the parchment in black ink.


Mr H. J. Potter
The Second Smallest Bedroom
4 Privet Drive
Little Whinging
Surrey

 

Dear Mr Potter,

Due to the recent events concerning You-Know-Who -pertaining to rule #993, chapter nine-hundred and ninety-nine, section four of 'A Guide to Wizarding Life'- you are now considered of age, and as such, an adult wizard in the eyes of the Ministry of Magic.

This further states that any and all estates, vaults, accounts and titles the Evans line have gained through any means, have fallen to you as the only wizard descendant of their line.

A listing of all items you have acquired is further attached to this letter.

You are expected at Gringotts Wizarding Bank by no later than August fifteenth to receive the Evans ring, an heirloom of your Great-Great Grandmother Evans, and all personal information.

Hoping you are well and that your magic thrives,
Erkle Higgon,
Department of Familial Inheritances. 


Harry swallowed noisily, and put the first parchment sheet down so that he could read the list of properties he now owned on the second. There was a house in Hogsmeade, readily available for his use, he was happy to notice. One or two vaults in Gringott's that belonged to Grandmother and Grandfather Evans upon their arrival into the Wizarding world and -.. He paled significantly, feeling his heart shrivel up in his chest and his stomach turn to lead. The deed to the ruin of his old family home in Godric's Hollow was on the list.

He shook his head firmly. He wasn't going to touch that place, or go anywhere near it. He'll let it stay where it is and how it is. It would be too much like walking on cursed land for him if he were to even go there, not only because of his parents death there and his almost death, but for the fact that someone so vile and evil had used something as violent and dark as the killing curse there.

Sighing to himself, Harry put the two parchment sheets into a pile beside his pillow and rested the crimson ribbon on top, marking it as his Mother's pile. He smiled at that for a moment, before moving on.

The second scroll he plucked up was wrapped in an emerald ribbon that reminded Harry of the Slytherin House back at Hogwarts. He slid the ribbon off and unrolled it. His eyebrows furrowed when he noticed another two parchment sheets, but this time instead of just going for the first sheet straight away, Harry took a peek of the second, wanting to know what was on there first before reading the letter addressed to him.

There was but one word written in dark emerald ink; Fae

Harry raised an incredulous eyebrow and shook his head bemusedly, subconsciously smiling slightly at the feeling of his long hair falling about his back in playful tumbles. Yes, reading the first parchment would probably be best, he figured.


Mr H. J. Potter
The Second Smallest Bedroom
4 Privet Drive
Little Whinging
Surrey

Dear Mr Potter,

Due to the recent events concerning You-Know-Who -pertaining to rule #993, chapter nine-hundred and ninety-nine,  section four of 'A guide to Wizarding Life'- you are now considered of age, and as such, an adult wizard in the eyes of the Ministry of Magic.

As the Evans family is a purely Muggle dominated line, and therefore has very little history of creature blood, I am delighted to inform you that there is a slim to nil chance that you are  applicable to inheriting any creature blood herein the line -pertaining to rule #1013, chapter six-hundred and forty-three, section nine of  'A Wizard's Creature Inheritance'- as you are now of age.

This further states that should you inherit any creature blood, any rules or restrictions made by the Ministry of Magic governing any newly revealed creature inheritance, hereby apply to you.

As such, you are expected to record any changes to your person and magic and report it to the Department of Magical and Creature Inheritances  as soon as possible.

A list of the creature blood in the Evans line is included in the attached letter.

Hoping you are well and that your magic thrives,
Derrick Michael,
Department of Magical and Creature Inheritances.


Harry turned ashen-faced at the thought of having Fae blood in his veins, but shook his head and continued on with the scrolls before he could lose his nerve, placing the two new parchment sheets and ribbon next to the other pile. He had to act like it was a band-aid, the quickest way to get it over and done with is to rip it off. Though he knew that that method wasn't entirely logical when it came to certain aspects and situations in ones life.

Harry blew out a long breath of air and rolled his eyes at his chaotic thoughts. He was just prolonging the experience, dawdling, hesitating with getting it over and done with. And as if to prove it, his mind drifted to another thought; when he'd get to one of his Father's scrolls, and if there would be the same amount of creature blood on his Potter side as there was in the Evans side, or if there was more. He wondered what he could be.

And, contrary to popular belief, he wasn't afraid to admit it - that there were parts of him absolutely dreading the answer, because being a wizard was something he excelled at, if only because it was one of the limited number of things that connected him to his parents, and explained perfectly well why he was so different from other people, other Muggles. Though he was already considered a freak by others of his own kind, and if he were to be something else other than a wizard.. well, he was scared. He didn't want to be anything freakish, especially not a creature - even if Hagrid would be pleased to have him as one of the topic's for one of his lessons in Care of Magical Creatures.

Harry just wanted to be normal. He didn't even want to know if he was a creature or not, now that he thought about it. He would just ignore the other scrolls and leave it be, pretend they're not there and be normal again. He would pretend that he was still as much of a wizard as Ron, and there was nothing to say otherwise.

I'll just have to cut all this bloody hair off, or get Aunt Petunia to somehow do it before the other Order members see me, he mused, before suddenly shuddering at the thought of his hair being cut off, especially at the hands of his Aunt Petunia, who had next to no imagination with scissors. She'd most likely shear his whole head again, leaving only the fringe to cover his lightning bolt scar. He shuddered again, before shaking himself out of his nonsensical thoughts and reluctantly moving for another scroll. 

He had to stop distracting himself with whimsical thoughts, so he could just get everything over and done with. He only had two to go, anyhow.

The next scroll he picked up was wrapped in a deep purple ribbon, and he wasted no time in shucking that off straight away. He sucked in a deep, bolstering breath when he counted four parchment sheets, instead of the two. But instead of going for the other three, he went straight for the first parchment, having learnt his mistake with the previous scroll. No nasty surprises before an explanation.


Mr H. J. Potter
The Second smallest bedroom
4 Privet Drive
Little Whinging
Surrey

 Dear Mr Potter,

Due to the recent events concerning You-Know-Who -pertaining to rule #993, chapter nine-hundred and ninety-nine, section four of 'A Guide to Wizarding Life'- you are now considered of age, and as such, an adult wizard in the eyes of the Ministry of Magic.

This further states that any and all estates, vaults, accounts and titles the Potter line have gained, have fallen to you as the sole heir.

A listing of all items you have acquired is further attached to this letter.

You are expected at Gringott's Wizarding Bank by no later than August fifteenth to receive the Head of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Potter signet ring, and all  personal information regarding the details of future commitment.

Hoping you are well and that your magic thrives,
Erason Linn,
Department of Familial Inheritances.


Well, at least I can get all of the personal information I need in one day if I wanted to, Harry thought weakly, sifting through the other three pages and noting that many of the houses listed had either 'Manor' and 'Mansion' at the end of them, and he had more vaults than he had first imagined. He was almost weak with shock.

Absently, he thought about the Weasleys, how tough they had to live on a very limited budget with nine people to feed and clothe. He'd have to secretly give Mr and Mrs Weasley one of his vaults soon, especially as Ron would be seeing these soon and would most likely have steam rolling out of his ears, and Harry didn't want his best friend to be jealous of him, so what better way to soothe any hurt feelings than with sharing?

He knew Ron would love him forever, as would Mr and Mrs Weasley. Even if it would probably take quite a lot of time wearing them down to accept it. Fred and George buzzed around his mind, almost chiding him for forgetting their endeavor with Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. He'd definitely give the twins a vault of their own.

Harry put the four sheets of parchment and deep purple ribbon on the other side of his pillow, opposite his Mother's pile, before turning and swiftly picking up the last scroll before he lost his courage and nerve completely.

It was last scroll he had to read, the last nasty little surprise of the day.

He inhaled another deep bolstering breath, letting the air whistle between his teeth like a faint whistle. It was definitely his Father's creature scroll. He just knew it. 

The royal blue ribbon wrapping the scroll practically fell away in his haste to read the last of the four. He had to admit that he was surprised, the scroll had felt like the heaviest of the four when really, there were at two parchment sheets.

Harry swallowed lightly, feeling faintly dizzy, before beginning to read the looped, elegant scrawl flowing across the page in shimmering blue ink.


Mr H. J. Potter
The Second Smallest Bedroom
4 Privet Drive
Little Whinging
Surrey

Dear Mr Potter,

Due to the recent events concerning You-Know-Who -pertaining to rule #993, chapter nine-hundred and ninety-nine, section four of ' A guide to Wizarding Life'- you are now considered of age, and as such, an adult wizard in the eyes of the Ministry of Magic.

As the Potter line has an extensive history of creature blood, I am delighted to inform you that there is a larger than average chance that you are applicable to
inheriting any creature blood herein the line -pertaining to rule #1013, chapter six-hundred and forty-three, section nine of 'A Wizard's Creature Inheritance'-
as you are now of age.

This further states that should you inherit any creature blood, any rules or restrictions made by the Ministry of Magic governing any newly revealed creature inheritance, hereby apply to you.

As such, you are expected to record any changes to your person and magic and report it to the Department of Magical and Creature Inheritances as
soon as possible.

A list of the creature blood in the Potter line is included in the attached letter.

Hoping you are well and that your magic thrives,
Markus Delaine,
Department of Magical and Creature Inheritances.


And on the second parchment sheet, written in delicate writing far tinier than the previous letters, were the names of many different creatures that dwelled within the Potter line. Harry paled at the list, his mouth dropping further and further with every unique name. The ones Harry knew somewhat vaguely of, he blinked incredulously at, a small hysterical laugh bubbling past his lips; Elf, VeelaFae, Curupira. 

Were my ancestors sex-crazed addicts or something? Were they randy all the bloody time? Jesus - there's even a bloody - a bloody Siren in there! What could possess someone to mate with all these things? He thought desperately, scanning the list with an ever growing surge of horror.

While there were some names Harry knew somewhat of, there were many other names he didn't know. However, there was one name that he didn't know of but instantly knew what it was; Drakonas. Or in other words, a bloody Dragon. He felt like all the blood in his body rushed to his feet in that instance, and he swayed where he sat - incredibly dizzy. There was a chance that he was some - some humanoid Dragon-Fae mixture! It was far worse than he could ever imagine - he was certain of it. And he wasn't even about how pure someone's blood is!

Harry blinked at the swirled writing on the parchment, feeling as though the paper was sucking all of his energy out of his body in giant gulps. He was one, or all of these creatures, a mixture, a half-breed. Merlin, he was barely a wizard

And in a state of panic and hyperventilation, where he knew he was absolutely safe, wrapped behind bundles and handfuls of wards, and with Uncle Vernon no where to be seen, Harry did the one thing he'd never done since those times in Third Year.

His eyes rolled up into the back of his head, and he fell in a dead faint.  

Chapter Text

2. Surprise!  

When Harry awoke next, he didn't remember why he'd even fallen asleep. He didn't usually wake up in the afternoon - his sleeping arrangements wouldn't have that, what with the limited hours of sleep and all. So it was with a suspicious eye that he looked about himself for any signs of spells, or sickness. He couldn't remember a bloody thing - until he spotted the curled, crumpled piles of parchment and ribbons on either side of him.

Then, he remembered everything.

At first glance, one would believe that he was calm and collected, puzzled even. But on the inside, Harry was a chaotic mess of panic and fear. His insides were trying to escape outside, and his brain felt like it was a wild Bludger - not to mention the heart beating faster than his Firebolt broomstick could fly in his chest. He was almost hyperventilating, his wildly beating heart all but threatening to thump its way up his throat.

Out of sheer desperation, he'd ran his fingers through his long hair, pulling the thick tresses over his left shoulder to continue stroking it easily - so much that any knots that were accumulated during his sleep, were long gone and his hair was tangle and knot free. His thick mane of hair was tame, in comparison to the birds nest he'd gone to sleep with the night before - and wasn't that a dizzying thought to have? To go to sleep with short, springy, wild curls, and then to wake up to hair that reached his pelvis and was thicker than anything he'd felt that could be considered hair. 

It summed up his life, in that one moment. 

He had no idea how long he'd sat there for, but he stayed perched on the edge of his bed and puzzled through the conundrum he'd so suddenly found himself in. So far he was still stuck on the fact that he had creature blood, on either side of his family - Muggleborn and Pureblood. Though he couldn't say he really cared about that, his ancestors could love whomever they wanted -though it escaped him how they could bed some of the more dangerous creatures, like the Dragon!-, but he supposed it was the shock of having something so highly important about his family revealed -not quite so politely, as well- to him in the form of letters.

It was also the thoughts that clattered round in his brain that stopped him from breathing right.

Did this mean that he was still a wizard? Or was he something different now? Like some hybrid of sorts, a mixture of all the bloody creature blood in his family? Was he still allowed into Hogwarts? Or was he supposed to transfer to Beauxbatons in France and study there with all the other Veela and creatures?

Oh, Merlin, he was getting another migraine just thinking about it. He inhaled deeply, counting to ten in his head. After a very tense minute, he slowly began to relax - to a certain degree, of course.

The first thing he should do is go and see what changes were made, he couldn't very well let his Aunt or any other relative of his see him first. He already knew that his hair was long now, longer than Cho Chang's or Ginny Weasley's, but what else was different? Would he freak everyone out? He was almost past the point of freaking out, himself, and he hadn't even seen the rest of him.

Harry stopped running his fingers through his hair and brought his hands up to examine them closely, remembering vaguely that they looked different. Yes, his fingers were definitely a little longer and slimmer, paler, than before. They reminded him of Sirius or even Severus Snape's fingers; elegant, made for playing the ivory keys on a piano or wrapped around a flute of champagne, or better yet, some combination of delicacy that involved heavy concentration and dexterity.

Aside from the vice of panic still clenched tightly around his heart, he had to admit to being curious for what the rest of him looked like. What if no one recognized him? 

But then, he thought, that doesn't sound so bad. Would make being me so much easier without the whole 'Boy Who Lived' thing hanging over my head. I wouldn't embarrass Hermione or Ron in public when my blood threatened to blow my head off my shoulders, for one thing. I could do whatever I wanted.

And with those positive things in mind, Harry rose swiftly from his bed and strode out of the room, making his way quietly to the bathroom down the hall, being mindful of the company still in the kitchen downstairs - thin walls and all. He shut the door with a quiet snick behind him and slowly turned to examine himself in the mirror, bracing himself for a stranger, or a horror show. 

What he saw, was a mixture of the two. His jaw hung loose and he stiffened in shock at the person standing opposite him in the mirror. Large vibrant green eyes surrounded by long sooty lashes blinked owlishly back at him, his raised eyebrows more arched and graceful above them. The lightning bolt scar atop his forehead seemed to almost accentuate his features, instead of take away from them, if that were possible. His nose was straighter and positioned perfectly above pouty pale pink lips, which were still slack in shock. His previously round boyish features had matured and shifted; his cheekbones higher and more prominent, and his jawline was more masculine now, though not overly so, it merely accented and complimented his other androgynous features.

He eyed his face a moment longer, before shifting his gaze down the length of the mirror to peer approvingly at his torso. He was still slender and lithely muscled from all his years of playing Quidditch, fighting for his life, and working every chore at the Dursleys, but his body was far more defined in tone and refined, the skin soft bringing dimension to his usually flat, but fit body.

But there were also some far more noticeable changes. The scars from the dragon on his shoulder, Pettigrew and the circular scar from where the Basilisks' fang had punctured on his forearms, were all still there, only slightly darker and slightly more imposing, like they were warnings, for lack of a better word. But Harry hardly dwelled on those, he focused more on his waist, which had been pulled in under his rib cage a little, giving him a svelte waist that couldn't help but run his fingers over curiously. He shivered at the touch, bemused, but slowly accepting the more feminine changes to his body. 

As long as he didn't have any girl's bits, he was fine. But if his cock and balls were missing.. well, the world better watch out.

In a few ways, he looked a little feminine -aside from the scars, and the wickedly horrible ones he was far too scared to check out on his back, to see if they were darkened, or even gone-, but he could deal with that, he honestly didn't mind it if he had slightly feminine curves. It made him look androgynous and all that much more interesting and -dare he say it without seeming arrogant?- beautiful. At least he could feel more confident in his skin now. Although he didn't seem to have grown in height that much, just a couple of inches.

But, there was one thing he was curious about. Almost unbidden, his eyes roamed a little lower and he twisted to the side so the length of his body showed in the mirror. What was there.. He mouthed wordlessly at the sight of his bottom half. His bum was.. pert and rolled quite well into the curve of his spine, allowing the avalanche of his hair to follow the curve of his back as if it was water. He blinked fluidly.

There was no doubt about it, no question in his mind; he had gotten more than slightly feminine curves.

But again, he didn't really mind. It's not like there aren't any boys at Hogwarts that have more feminine qualities about them, so why should he be worried? However, he would be the only boy there that had hair longer than any girl. It only helped to magnify the feminimity he had, if only just a little. 

Harry let his hair swish back into place on his back, itching to see just how long it was, only remembering that it touches the top of his bum when he turned his head abruptly. He pulled his lower lip between his teeth and set to chewing it. His hair rested quite comfortably on the curve at the top of his bum, the longest of the hair curling out slightly at the end into a half formed ringlet that would have dared to dip a little bit awkwardly into his crack, had he not been wearing pants. And did he thank his lucky stars that he was, just looking at the thick, long hair on his back made him feel faint.

There was really only one way to settle this little problem, other than keeping it and weathering out the gawking from both the Muggles and wizarding people, and that was to cut it all off.

Without really thinking about it, Harry went into the medicine cabinet beside the mirror and hesitantly pulled out a pair of scissors. He looked at them, staring blandly at his ashen reflection in the cool shining metal and forcefully flooding his brain with positive thoughts.

Harry sucked in a deep breath, swept all of the hair into one hand and leveled the blades at the base of his skull. He hesitated only slightly, before placing the hair in between the sharp blades and slowly squeezing. It was too late to stop now, even if he'd wanted to. Several trands of hair was falling limply into his clenched hand. He supposed it was nerves, but he couldn't help but think that if he did chicken out, he'd look highly odd with only half of his hair long and the rest short, like someone had swung a sword at his neck, and he'd ducked just barely in time to avoid it - and the sword had claimed half of his hair instead.

Don't be a coward, Harry hissed at himself. It's just hair!

Feeling drunk on borrowed determination, Harry clenched his hand around the scissors and shut his eyes, fortifying himself with a deep breath that he kept locked in his lungs, and in one loud snip that took the rest of his reluctant courage, the long hair fell limply into his hand - a long fall of hair that wobbled in his shaking hand. He had to tilt his head forward to stop himself from falling backwards from the sudden loss of weight, but he didn't mind. He rather liked the feeling of his scalp being bared to the air.

Though apparently, not as much as feeling his hair tumbling around on his back. Looking down at the handful of long hair drooped sadly in his fist, he felt a little odd.

Actually, his head felt too light and strange, like some odd pressure was forming in the front of his mind. He felt terribly vulnerable, like something with claws and large sharp teeth was about to pounce on his bared back at any minute.

A large drop of liquid landed on his outstretched wrist. He peered down at it blearily, more than willing to distract himself. But he couldn't help but freeze at the all too familiar sight.

It was blood.

Harry looked up into the mirror as the weird pressure in his head shifted, like a ball rolling along a board when it's tilted, and he began to feel fuzzy and dizzy round the temples, his head dipping uncontrollably and precariously like it was about to drop off his shoulders. Thankfully, his eyes focused enough to notice that his nose was dripping blood like a faucet, the ruby liquid welling up generously to fall from his upper lip. His throat reflexively gulped as the metallic tang of his blood invaded his mouth, and he hurried to tilt his head forward.

Hastily dropping the large bundle of hair into the waste basket beside the sink, Harry rushed forward to lean his hands against the porcelain sink, allowing the blood building on his upper lip to bead and fall in large droplets. The odd pressure in his head increased when he looked up from the steadily growing puddle in the sink that crawled down the drain to look at himself in the mirror. His now short hair hung limply around his face in odd clumps, framing its steadily paling pallor and giving Harry the feeling that he was steadily growing sicker. But how could that be? He looked and felt positively glowing just seconds before!

Harry gulped noisily around the slight itchiness forming in the back of his throat. Whatever the reason, he needed help and he needed it now. This was too much for him, too soon!

"H - help -" Harry sputtered, unable to form the words correctly because of the terrible itching in his throat. He coughed violently into the sink, feeling air bubbling up from his coiling, protesting stomach. He retched horribly into the sink and groaned, bringing up nothing but a disgusting yellow substance, his stomach bile, and a dribble of blood. He spat out blood tinged saliva. 

At least I didn't eat too much last night, he thought hazily. Another painful movement in his stomach nearly brought him to his knees, but he managed to keep himself up by sheer willpower. Though that didn't stop the retching that followed.

"Help me -!" Harry wheezed, coughing violently once more into the sink. And no sooner had he finally formed those words, that a tingling sensation erupted across his scalp. Liquid relief flowed through him at the feeling of his stomach calming and his head no longer pounding in that odd way. He even felt the blood stop its flow from his nose.

Harry looked up into the mirror and blinked in shock. His hair was back to the length it was before, long and beautiful, cascading down his back in thick and slightly waved tresses that looked too soft to touch. It was like he'd never cut it before. Harry wiped the blood off of his face with the back of his hand, and glanced into the waste basket beside the cabinet. It was empty of any and all hair.

"This is freaky," Harry said to himself, moving away from the sink to begin a small path in the bathroom to pace. "Oh this is very, very freaky."

What was he going to do? He couldn't cut his hair off, the reaction he just had had proved that. He didn't want to live in a bathroom for the rest of his life, constantly keeping his head over a sink and putting up with a headache so bad that it caused instant vomit! Yet he couldn't go out into the Wizarding world now that he wasn't a part of it, he'd be an outcast.

"Remus," Harry whispered to himself, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "He'll know what to do."

And he would, Remus was a werewolf and had to deal with being ostracized in public twenty-four seven, maybe he could give Harry some tips or advice on how to deal with all that. Though Harry did have to admit that he had to deal with a  lot of attention, but only half -maybe even less- of that were negative comments. Negative comments twenty-four seven? No thanks.

Mind made up, Harry stormed out of the bathroom and ran to his room, hurrying to pull on a fresh pair of pants and a shirt. It wouldn't do to walk into the kitchen in dirty pants, half naked and looking like a different person. He might scare the life out of his aunt.

"Harry? Are you awake?" called Aunt Petunia warily from downstairs, just as Harry had pulled on his pants.

Harry turned to the door as if Aunt Petunia were standing right there, before shaking his head and hurriedly throwing on one of Dudley's old sweatshirts. He didn't bother reaching for his wand, but instead grabbed the parchment on his bed. He cradled them protectively and carefully to his chest and made his way downstairs, hollering, "Yes, Aunt Petunia!" on the way. 

The smell of tea and sweets wafted generously to Harry's nose as he descended the stairs, and he knew instantly that Aunt Petunia had brought out the big guns for her reluctant guest. She would have had to have been far out of reach of her comfort zone to offer someone sweets in this house, especially as the sight of said sweets tempted Dudley to abandon his carefully constructed diet, and the time for offering any sweets was long over. 

What Aunt Petunia didn't know was that Harry had somewhat ruined the point of Dudley's diet by sharing some of his secret sweets from the Weasleys with him. It was just his luck that Dudley wasn't here with them now, or his cover would have been blown to bits by Dudley bumrushing the kitchen and loudly comparing the taste of his Mother's tarts, to Mrs Weasley's own homemade treacle tart.

"It actually might have been better if he were here," he mused softly. And wasn't that a thought? 

But, alas, Dudley wasn't in the house, and thus, the one person that may have kept Aunt Petunia essentially calm, was missing. And by the dull itchiness Harry felt between his shoulder blades, the kitchen was packed full of tension that needed an outlet.

It seemed that it had to be him.

Upon pushing through the invisible wall of tension and stepping into the room, Harry instantly knew something was off. And it wasn't him. Aunt Petunia was sat at the head of the table, where Uncle Vernon usually sat, smiling tensely at her guests and offering more tea than what any normal human could handle. She seemed riddled with nerves - which lessened when she caught sight of him standing in the kitchen doorway. She smiled tremulously at him.

That was something Harry pretended not to notice, as it would likely create even more tension in the connected dining room. Instead, he directly smiled at Remus, taking in the two people shadowing him at the same time. It didn't take him long to recognize the rebellious natured twosome, and he grinned at seeing Sirius and Nymphadora 'Tonks' Lupin sitting at the table he once served as a waiter to, though he was surprised. He took a moment to force away an annoying surge of blood in his cheeks when their eyes widened and seemed to gobble his visage up, but they still grinned happily in greeting all the while. They hadn't ran off in the opposite direction, screaming yet. 

He eyed them curiously, grinning slightly at their own separate, but whole appearances.

Tonks was clad in a pink tourist's t-shirt with the words 'I heart London' printed across the front in a tacky cursive, and a black duster coat that had large loose flaps covering the extra pockets Harry knew contained emergency potions. Her hair was a pleasant brown color today and was pulled back in a high pony tail nearing the top of her head, though when she turned her head abruptly to the side to whisper something to Sirius, Harry could see that the tips of her pony tail were bright red. Good old Tonks.

Sirius on the other hand, wore a familiar black duster coat that Harry recognized as Sirius' favorite. He looked stylish, with his wavy mane of hair pulled back in a small pony tail that rested at the base of his neck. He had recently shaved too, Harry noticed with faint amusement. Word must have reached Sirius of Harry's lack of facial hair, and complaints about it.

"Wotcher, Harry!" Tonks greeted him happily, standing abruptly from the table and coming around to hug him tightly, though she stumbled over her foot a little and almost dragged the table with her, rattling the glassware on the tabletop. They both expertly ignored Aunt Petunia's small noise of complaint and flinch at the movements, as Harry hugged Tonks back.

Harry was surprised to see that she was slightly shorter than him, though he was nonetheless happy about it.

"Happy sixteenth birthday!" She said, pulling away from the hug a small distance to observe him with keen blue eyes. "Already a man now, eh, Harry? Time sure flies by when you're a youngen like yourself."

“Thanks, Tonks,” said Harry, smiling down at her exuberance. “How've you been, anyhow? How's little Teddy doing without me, missing me?” He asked with a small grin, shifting uncomfortably under the suddenly heavy weight of her scrutiny.

Tonks blinked up at him with an indecipherable emotion on her face. “You've really changed there, Harry,” she breathed, eyes looking at him sharply. "I mean, you've always been a very handsome boy, but this is just.. wow. Your eyes are so much livelier than before, much less shadowed by everything you've seen and done, it's almost like they're glowing like emerald moons. And you're taller than me now! By Merlin, Harry," she said, a faint laugh escaping her faintly smiling lips. "You're beautiful."

Boiling blood flooded Harry's cheeks. "Well, thanks, Tonks," he sputtered, clearing his throat awkwardly and stepping away from her. "But you can blame all of this on the inheritance I got last night. Hell, I certainly do."

"Not that I'm not glad to finally see my favorite Godson in the world, but what has this got to do with this Inheritance?" Sirius questioned, eyes frowning, despite being at odds with the ecstatic grin perched on his lips at seeing Harry again. "Remus mentioned something about it when we arrived, but he didn't say what."

Harry turned to smile at him, but stopped short when something red flashed out of the corner of his eye, something in Sirius' direction. He paused. "Oh, everything," he said absently, turning his head in every direction to try and catch the strange blob of red again. Something blue flashed out of the corner of his eye this time, and he stopped on Tonks, who was watching him warily.

"Harry?" asked Sirius, concerned.

"Yes?" asked Harry, turning to Sirius hesitantly. He wanted to find those bloody colors, he wanted to know what they meant. Was his eyesight failing now?

Sirius was frowning at him, his dark eyes watching him warily. "I said, are you okay?" he said.

Harry gave a small hesitant smile, shoving the idea of the colors aside for the moment. "I'm fine, just a little confused, is all. One doesn't just go to sleep normal and wake up like this."

Sirius arched an eyebrow and opened his mouth to say something, but Remus interrupted him before Sirius could say something no doubt damaging. "What have you got there, Harry?" he asked warmly, gesturing towards the parchment gripped tightly in Harry's hands.

"It lists the places and things I inherited from my family, including their creature blood," said Harry, slowly making his way to the seat in between Sirius and Aunt Petunia. He sat down hesitantly and put the stack of enchanted parchment onto the table top.

"Your parents didn't have creature blood in them, Harry," Sirius told him gently, before frowning down at the neat scrawl on the top parchment. "At least, none that we knew of. May I see them?" he asked, holding his hand out to ask to see the parchment. At Harry's nod, he picked up the first letter and began to read through it, uncharacteristically silent and pensive.

"Are you alright, Harry?" asked Remus softly into the silence, holding his wife's hand and watching Harry in concern. "I know that this all must be terribly confusing -"

"You have no idea," said Harry darkly, gloomily staring down at one of the tea cups in front of him. "One moment I'm in my room having another bloody nightmare, the next I'm told by a couple of Ministry workers that I'm about to receive an inheritance that'll change absolutely everything I believe in, and the next second I'm in absolute pain and agony, and then the next bloody second I WAKE UP LOOKING LIKE THIS!" He boomed, bringing his hands down on the table so harshly, he thought he heard a splintering sound. 

He was sorry to have done that the second he saw his aunt flinch back and the others cringe. He didn't want to frighten them from him. It all just happened so fast, it was all too much for one day. Just last night he was sitting in his room awaiting his birthday and the moment where he could return to Grimmauld, and then he's told that he's about to go through an inheritance that would change him physically, magically and mentally?

No, it was definitely too much for one day, even for his strange life.

It was silent for a while, Remus looking like he didn't know what to say or do, Tonks and aunt Petunia watching Harry sadly and Sirius still reading the letters like nothing had happened.

At last, Remus spoke, "I'm sorry that this had to happen to you, Harry," he said softly. "But I'm certain that this has happened for a reason."

"A reason," said Harry flatly. Aunt Petunia flinched slightly at the tone, surprised that her nephew could actually sound like that. "I suppose that there's also a reason why I can't even cut my hair, too," continued Harry bitterly, chest heaving in anger. "I've had enough of bloody reasons, Remus, I'm sick and tired of asking questions only to have the bloody answers dance in circles around me!" he growled.

Remus watched him with pitiful eyes, while Tonks was watching him in amazement, noting the subtle changes to his skin that the others didn't notice, but any Auror would. The skin around his eyes darkened slightly, as if someone had contoured his eye sockets in a slightly darker shade of make-up, and the skin that she could see on his hands had lightened, as if he'd dipped his hands in something translucent. She'd have to watch him when he became angry in the future. She cleared her throat in an effort to gain Harry's attention, and smiled comfortingly at his slightly bemused expression.

"You can't cut your hair?" she prompted him softly. She eyed the long flowing tresses in interest and fascination, her movements beginning to take on an Auror style. She itched to take out her notepad and Quick Quotes Quill. 

Harry shook his head with a small exasperated sigh. "My nose started to bleed and I vomited almost as soon as I cut the last strand," he said bitterly. Just the remembered feeling of the odd pressure in his head was enough to make him wince.

"This says nothing on what you could be," declared Sirius loudly and exasperatedly, oblivious to the slowly mounting tension around him, smacking the last parchment sheet down on the table firmly. He turned to Harry with a nasty gleam in his eye and a wolfish grin that only Padfoot could master on his face. "I promise I'll take you to that pesky little Goblin Director soon, Harry, and I'll get those bastards to talk, never you worry! They won't stop yapping after I'm done with them!"

"Padfoot!" warned Remus, staring at him pointedly. Sirius opened his mouth to argue, but abruptly closed it and sat back in his seat looking cowed, muttering something about 'blasted professors'.

Remus turned to Harry then and looked at him with a rare, fierce look on his scarred face. "Harry, I promise you that we'll all help you, regardless of what we need to do and what you are. There is nothing you can become that will frighten or push us away, I swear it on my magic," promised Remus, staring so warmly at Harry that Harry swore he could feel the sun on his face.

Harry smiled softly and fondly at the shabby looking ex-professor and quietly sighed in relief. He had no doubts in his mind that they accepted him now.

"So," said Tonks happily. "Now that we're off the heavy stuff, can we get onto the lighter stuff?" She gave Remus a pointed look, one that he began to look sheepish at.

Sirius enjoyed that, and gave Tonks a secret thumbs up, to which she smiled at. Harry could see Aunt Petunia silently shift about in her seat from the corner of his eye, and wished that she'd just leave and spare them the awkward atmosphere.

Harry rolled his eyes at the couple as they exchanged looks, but stopped abruptly as just then, the colors made a return appearance, darting in and out of his sight. The red to his right and the blue right in front of him. In front of Tonks.. it seemed.

Something in the way Tonks and Remus looked at each other gave Harry an odd feeling. It danced in an out of reach when he tried to think about it, but he found that the more he looked at Tonks, the more clearer it got. However, not wanting to look like a creep was his first thought, so he changed from looking at Tonks to Remus every twelve seconds.

On the fifth look at Tonks, something changed and he peered closer at her, ignoring how silent the room went when they all noticed him staring at her. Tonks had begun to.. well, there was no other word for it, other than glow. She was blue, a blue of every shade, and as he looked -he could actually see through the table!- the shades of blue began lightening and lightening around her stomach, where a small and very, very light green color was nestled at the bottom of her stomach. It seemed to throb slightly, as if it was slowly growing and expanding.

Harry blinked and held his breath, seeing everything in the room go black aside from the four other people around him. If he concentrated hard enough, he could forget that he was in the Dursley's kitchen and was instead in a black void. The only sources of color were the people in the room. Tonks was mainly a royal blue, Remus was a slightly yellow sand color, Sirius was a Gryffindor red -the red that had escaped him before, he realized- and aunt Petunia who was pale lavender. Each of them had varying shades of their individual color, though they matched in the way that all of their colors lightened until they were almost white in their stomachs.

"What? What is it?" asked Sirius hurriedly from his side, watching as his godson paled and looked at each of them intently in turn. "Are you in pain? Are you hurting? Is it the inheritance, is it still changing you?"

Harry shook his head and blinked harshly at Tonks. He wondered if what he was seeing was their aura's, he also wondered, if the room always became black when he saw them. He blinked furiously as the Dursley's kitchen suddenly came back into focus and their 'aura's' faded until it was almost gone.

"You're -" he swallowed noisily, hunching forward slightly as if to get closer to Tonks and see that vivid blue and light green again. "You're pregnant again, aren't you?" he asked, eyeing her stomach intently.

The look of astonishment on Tonks' face answered his question, and he slumped back in his chair, aware of the stares he was getting from his aunt, Sirius, Remus and Tonks.

"How did you know?" She asked, leaning forward slightly -and against the hand Remus had laid protectively against her abdomen- and leaning on her elbows comfortably, still staring at Harry in astonishment. No one had uttered a word about her new-found pregnancy, and no one had been in contact with Harry. Could it be something to do with his creature inheritance? She pondered, watching as Harry paled further and slumped forward in his seat with a pained expression. Sirius began to look panicked and began nattering at Harry, asking furiously what was wrong, over and over.

It was like an iron cast had clamped around his heart and squeezed. Hearry sucked in deep breaths and exhaled slowly, like he had done when he was mentally attacked by Voldemort. The room darkened again, however, instead of becoming the pitch black from before, it was now morphing into a scenic view of a beach, a family of four were standing on a grassy knoll all holding hands. He spotted Remus easily, seeing his kind smile even from this distance, and Tonks, with her long bubble-gum pink hair. There were two children standing by their sides, Harry saw Teddy standing by his mothers side, his hair a raven black color and his eyes green. He absolutely loved Harry and looked up to him as one of his heroes, he was intelligent and kind, modest to a point. He took on his mothers clumsiness. 

Harry gasped suddenly at seeing the little girl by Remus' side, her little hand held gently in his own giant one. She was absolutely adorable with brilliant amber eyes and long sandy blond hair, she was also a Metamorphmagi like her mother and brother, but she favored her father in such a way that she would not change for anything and would always hold his hand over Tonks'. She was smart and sweet, but incredibly sneaky. Harry saw the family of four living in comfort, in a lavish home with what looked to be a large family crest, but it seemed to be too far away or blurry to make it out properly.

Harry jumped when a hand squeezed his shoulder and looked over his shoulder to see Aunt Petunia standing beside him, a concerned frown pursing her thin lips. "Are you alright Harry?" She asked, pressing a thin cold hand against his forehead now that she knew he wouldn't reject her.

Harry swallowed heavily and nodded at her, before turning back to Tonks, Remus and Sirius and smiling reassuringly. "I'm absolutely fine, just a little bit shocked is all," he said, reaching out to prepare himself a cup of tea. His heart -no longer being squeezed to death- leapt at the vision of Tonks and Remus' future and he so desperately wanted it for the young couple.

"How did you know that I'm pregnant?" asked Tonks, not unkindly, muttering a small thank you when Harry began to prepare her tea as well.

"I saw the baby," said Harry, wincing at how odd and crazy it sounded to his own ears. He almost regretted telling them, but he was grateful for their silence. 

"Is it because of the inheritance?" asked alAunt Petunia, staring down into her plate with an air of shame. She was finally going to get what she deserved, and she knew it. That was why she'd all but ordered her son and husband out of the house, because she didn't want them to see her on her knees grovelling to her nephew. 

"I don't blame you, Aunt Petunia," said Harry instead, frowning lightly into his tea cup and swirling the dark liquid around with a small sigh. "I think that you were well within your rights to leave, and I don't blame you for it. It took me some time to remember what happened, but I can remember seeing your face clearly; you looked so deathly afraid, you were shocked, scared and horrified by what was happening. But I don't blame you, because I was, too." 

He knew what she was doing, he knew she was trying to get him to be mad at her, to 'right the wrongdoings' of their past as aunt and nephew and slice her back to ribbons. Well he wouldn't do it, she didn't deserve it. 

"I left you alone," said Aunt Petunia sharply, allowing tears to fill her eyes. "I left you in such a - in such a state! No mother, related or not, would ever leave someone like that. Lily knew what she was doing when she - when she threw herself at that creep, she knew what would happen and she didn't care because she was a fantastic mother." Tears were now falling freely from Aunt Petunia's eyes as she stared at Harry, who was steadily gaining color in his cheeks. "All these years that you've been fighting for your life, you've been fighting just as hard to survive here. And I'm the one that did that, I made you feel like a freak when I knew that you were the most natural thing in the world," she sobbed. 

"I was just so - so jealous!" she cried, shaking her head at herself and looking down to glare at the table. "Lily had the perfect house, the perfect husband, the perfect son and magic all to herself! And I had nothing," she said through gritted teeth, face flushing a dull red. "The last time I ever saw her, was in the hospital when you were born," she sniffled. "And all I did when I saw her, with you in her arms and James' arms around her, was scoff and call you all f - FREAKS!" she cried woefully, breaking out into a fresh round of tears.

Tonks silently handed her a plain white handkerchief, and tightened her lips when aunt Petunia almost snatched it from her hand. Tonks' hair turned an angry red at that, but she let it go and sat back in her seat, allowing Remus' hand to go back to rubbing her abdomen steadily through her shirt, which seemed to calm her. 

Harry was dumbstruck at what his aunt was saying, and wondered quite briefly, if someone had managed to sneak his aunt Veritaserum, as unlikely as that might be. He didn't know what to say to her, he didn't know if he should forgive her for his parents or not, so he just sat there, staring at his aunt as she cried. He was definitely not someone a woman should go to if they were crying or looking for reassurance. Harry almost sighed in relief when his aunt began to sniffle, signaling what was sure to be the end of her waterworks.

But it seemed that his aunt wasn't finished quite yet, because she sat the now spotted handkerchief down on the table and began crying again. "I'm so sorry, Harry! I know I don't deserve forgiveness, but I beg of you, please don't do anything to my darling Vernon and baby angel! Please don't blow them up into balloons like Aunt Marge!" begged Aunt Petunia.

Harry's face was now bright red in embarrassment. "I - I wouldn't hurt them, or you!" he sputtered. 

Aunt Petunia wailed again, shoving her face into the handkerchief and blowing her nose loudly. Hesitantly, Tonks took in a deep breath and reached over to awkwardly pat aunt Petunia's arm. She was shocked when Petunia all but threw herself into her arms and cried pathetically on her shoulder like a child seeking comfort from their mother.

Tonks looked down at Petunia warily. "It's - it's alright Petunia," said Tonks slowly, looking down at the shaking woman disbelievingly. "just let it all out."

That was apparently the wrong thing to say, as Petunia's cries suddenly became louder and more violent. 

Harry looked to Remus and Sirius desperately for help, but saw that the both of them had the same lost look about them as he did. He didn't know what to do with an emotion-riddled aunt Petunia! Where was uncle Vernon or Dudley when you needed them!

At last, Aunt Petunia began to settle down, and signaled the end of her hysterical sobbing with one large final sniff, and sat back in her chair, dabbing at her cheeks with the dirty handkerchief. "I apologize for that outburst, that was most uncalled for," she warbled, before clearing her throat and moving to make another cup of tea. 

"Are you alright?" asked Harry cautiously, moving on his seat as if to make a run for it.

Aunt Petunia looked at him sadly and sighed. "Harry, I honestly am sorry for everything that I've done to harm you, for making you do the house chores when you were injured and - and for making you sleep in that cupboard for ten years. I don't deserve any kind of forgiveness from you," she said.

Ignoring the sputtering of shock that came from the other three people in the room, Harry smiled politely at Aunt Petunia, although he couldn't stop himself from inwardly seething. "I suppose I should actually be thanking you for making me sleep in there. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have been as small as I was and it would've been harder for me to get away from Voldemort almost every year. I owe my life to you, really," he said. Which was the truth, in some twisted, demented sort of way, he had to admit. If it weren't for his uncle and aunt's cruelty, Harry wouldn't have made it very far in life. Sometimes it paid to be quiet, observant and tiny. And damaged beyond repair.

Aunt Petunia looked at him weirdly for a moment. "I really did raise the hero of a Wizarding world, didn't I?" She asked no one in particular, sniffling still.

Remus smiled politely, if a little too stiffly, at her and nodded. "I did tell you that Harry is a very kind person, did I not?" 

Aunt Petunia smiled back at Remus for a moment, before clearing her throat and shifting back into the professional host she was. "I suppose you've already packed, Harry?" she asked sternly.

Harry nodded slowly, feeling severely out of sorts. "My school trunk. It's upstairs," he said absently, mulling over what had happened in his head. 

First he discovered what he looks like -which is wholly different to what he used to look like-, and then he discovered the effects of cutting off all of his hair -which basically made him incredibly ill-, and then he discovered that Remus and aunt Petunia weren't the only ones in the kitchen -as Sirius and Tonks had joined him-, then he discovered the secret to Tonks' happiness -that being her pregnancy-, then he had this vision of sorts and saw their auras -including the babes, in Tonks' stomach-, and then his aunt completely breaks down and retells her last dealing with his parents and begs him not to her family! 

It's official, he thought, this is literally the weirdest day of my life.

"You coming Harry?" asked Tonks suddenly, smiling down at him. Remus, Sirius and aunt Petunia were gone, he realized with a jolt. I must have been thinking too much, he thought. 

"Well, I don't really wanna miss out on surprising the twins, do I?" said Harry teasingly, standing swiftly from his seat and striding out of the room, unknowing of the graceful and poised way that he walked. 

That boy, thought Tonks fondly, shaking her head and following him after a moment of snacking on some of Petunia's delicious scones. She ended up conjuring a container to take a few of them with her, even though Molly was already cooking dinner at Grimmauld Place. But oh well, it's my body and the grub needs to eat, she thought happily, already fighting temptation to take another scone. She lost and ended up eating another two before finally leaving the kitchen for good, but that was only because her hunger for sweets was sated. For a little while.

But no matter what happened that night, she was still going to ask Harry how he knew that she was pregnant. Even if they were in a crowded room with hundreds of strangers watching and listening.

She couldn't wait.

Chapter Text

3. Some Much Needed Love. 

The moment Harry stepped inside Grimmauld Place, he knew he was home. Or as close to home as he could be at the moment. He was surprised at the change of color scheme as soon as the door had opened before him. The hallway had been light then and had allowed him to see the dark velvet walls had taken over the once peeling wallpapered walls and smell the oil based paint. The floor had been redone as well, he noticed, but that hadn't surprised him as much. The floor had been barely salvageable, always squeaking and groaning under anyone weight other than Kreachers, and always managed to set off the portrait of aunt Walburga into one of her pure-blood supremacy rants. 

The floors were now a polished black wood, which held durably and didn't groan under Harry's weight when he stepped onto it. In fact, Harry heard something he hadn't heard before when they'd visited number 12 Grimmauld Place in the past, he heard his shoes squeak on the cleanliness beneath them. But before he could marvel at the cleanliness of the floor, the large door shut behind them and darkness had shrouded them entirely. No one had left any lights on for their return, it seemed.

"Blimey!" cried Sirius gruffly, having accidentally stepped on the backing of Harry's shoe and pushed it down. "What's with all the bloody darkness?!"

Other than having Sirius step on the back of his shoe, Harry didn't mind that he was practically swimming in darkness, for he'd noticed another unusual thing about himself since the inheritance. He could see in the dark. He could still see the dark wood flooring beneath them as if the room was actually filled with light! Wicked, he thought, in awe at the sight of the room he knew was bathed in darkness, which looked like it was practically shining with light. It seems the House of Black, isn't so black anymore.

"I suspect that we have arrived a little earlier than they expected," said Remus, trying to sound pacifying to Sirius sudden anger. Harry could see him eyeing Tonks in the darkness, his hands resting on her waist to steady her stumbling steps. 

"And I suspect that they assumed Head of the House since we'd gone," growled Sirius, though Harry could hear the sarcasm loud and clear in that low gruff voice. 

"Calm yourself Padfoot," said Remus tiredly, as if he had to deal with Sirius acting like this all the time, "I'm sure that they have a perfectly good reason for why the light shouldn't be on. I see no point in asking someone to try and turn the light on when we can all conjure perfectly capable Lumos charms with our wands."

Never mind that I can't, thought Harry, only slightly bitter considering the situation. Even if he'd had an inheritance that claims that he's of age, he really wasn't willing to test if that meant that he could actually cast magic. He still remembered the last time he was held before court, and he definitely didn't want to leave his fate to chance if Umbridge was still on the bench.

Harry watched Sirius scowl into the darkness and comply with Remus' solution, jerking his hand so that his wand slipped out of the holster attached to his wrist. However, before anyone could spell out a Lumos, Tonks took an unmeasured step forward and stumbled harshly, her foot catching something invisible on the floor. Remus' eyes were wide with panic as Tonks stumbled out of his grip, Harry could see his arms flailing to catch any part of her.

As if they'd done this many times before, Harry jumped in to catch her before she could have a nasty fall and caught her by her forearms -which shocked her, as she couldn't feel where anyone was and having someone grab her in the darkness had scared her- and hoisted her up, double checking that her feet were flat on the floor before releasing her slightly.

Aside from a small adrenaline rush, Harry chuckled at the shocked look on her face, "How is it that even if there's nothing on the ground, you're always the one to fall?" he asked with a teasing voice, checking said floor for anything she might have tripped on. Nope, nothing.

"Harry? Did you catch her?" asked a near enough frantic Remus, his face turning in the direction of Harry's voice. Harry noticed that his arms were held out as if to reach for Tonks, but was unsure where to look. Sirius himself was looking beside himself in worry, but he was much in the same boat as Tonks was with his sight. Now Remus, Harry wasn't so sure. It was a full moon soon, normally he'd have gained some of his wolf's extra senses then.

"Yeah, but you might want to clear any and all invisible objects off of the floor though, I'm afraid that she'll trip otherwise," Harry said jokingly, leading Tonks in small steps to where Remus' arms were searching for her. She relaxed into him as soon as she felt his arms wrap around her shoulders, and Harry smiled at the sight of them together. Remus exhaled loudly when he felt his mates warm body rest in the circle his arms made, protectively sniffing at her skin to seek any damage.

"I'm fine Moony!" said Tonks happily enough, enduring the sniffing and licking to her neck that she knew was his way of scenting for damage, "Harry sure has some excellent reflexes though, fastest catch I've ever had."

"You shouldn't have even fallen anyhow," said Harry in amusement, "there's absolutely nothing on the ground to warrant a fall. Invisible or not." He didn't feel the need to point out that he could see in the dark.

"How do you know?" asked Remus curiously, finally removing his face from Tonks' neck to stare at the barely there outline of the boy he thought of as his son. He was thankful when Sirius finally cast the Lumos he'd suggested, he'd had to strain his eyesight to even see Harry that close.

"When we walked in I was looking at the floor and comparing when I'd last seen it to what it looks like now, and I noticed that there was nothing on it," said Harry simply, before he turned to congratulate Sirius on a job well done with a grin, "great job you did on the house Padfoot, it looks absolutely amazing!" 

Sirius grinned in reply and inclined his head regally, "I was sick of seeing the disrepair left to it from the years of abandonment, so I called in a little favor and did some spell work that I know would have made McGonagall proud."

The smile Harry gave Sirius at that moment, was absolutely breathtaking and it struck Sirius harshly just how much Harry had changed over the course of a few weeks. Gone was the socially awkward, tiny pale teenager with round glasses and fiery green eyes, in his place stood a slim, pale, lithely muscled adonis with positively smoldering emerald eyes. Harry had changed so much, and once again, he hadn't been there to see it and help him through it.

"How about we go see the others and chew them out for their lack of foresight?" Harry suggested to Sirius, his smile dimming slightly at the look of regret blossoming on his Godfather's face. 

"Yeah," agreed Sirius, snapping out of his mood abruptly, "yeah, that sounds likes fun!" he said to himself more than the others and strode down the hallway in determination, either to chew out the guilty, or to get as far away from the trio as possible. Most particularly Harry.

Harry watched him go quietly, the odd feeling in his heart seeming to swell with every passing second. It seemed like no one actually wanted him around, like they'd just gone to collect him out of obligation rather than wanting to. And really, that seemed to be the truth. What good was he now that his purpose in life was finished? He'd destroyed Voldemort, he'd done what the seer had prophesied, he'd finished any unfinished business. Now what use was he?

"Harry?" a voice said abruptly, breaking him out of the thoughts he'd grown well accustomed to. "Are you alright?" asked Tonks, a look of something so distinct shaping her face. His throat dried up at the look, but he nodded nonetheless. He moved away from them and followed the path Sirius had made before either one of them would notice the tears in his eyes. 

Even before the change, he'd hated showing weakness in front of people, never mind that being his family or friends either. He just ... he wasn't as emotionally available as others were, his upbringing had ensured that - But now was not the time for such thoughts, he could wait until he was in the room he'd no doubt be sharing with Ron. He didn't feel the need to bring them all down with how he felt. 

He didn't need the Lumos that Remus and Tonks had to conjure behind him to find the door, and smiled upon coming closer to it. He could hear Molly Weasley bustling about in the kitchen, no doubt cooking up a storm to rival Hogwarts' feasts. The smell of roast chicken and baked potatoes could be smelt five feet from the door, and Harry inhaled deeply at the familiar scent.

"I'll ask for the last time," said a very familiar and stroppy voice from behind the dark door, "has anyone seen my reading glasses?" 

A grin spread across Harry's lips at hearing the bossy tone of 'the Brains of the Golden Trio', as The Daily Prophet had dubbed Hermione Jean Granger. It really did capture her part of the friendship between the three of them quite well, well at least her thought so.

Harry opened the door enough for him to slip in and held it open for Remus and Tonks, even though he had the urge to close it and lock it tightly behind him, but it was rude for him to even think of doing that. He thought of Remus as one of his father figures, and Tonks was like the sister he never had, so even thinking or having the urge to shut the door on them and leave them in the dark was like a slap in the face. 

All of the Weasley's were stationed around the table all enjoying one thing or another, their patriarch was sitting next to the head of the table -where Sirius was sitting-, and chatting away enjoyably with the previously angry Animagus. The matriarch of the large family was standing in front of a large stove, her wand flicking this way and that, spelling away dishes and messes as easily as breathing. Harry smiled fondly at the content look on her wizened face.

He spotted Ron and Hermione in the middle of the table, a seat to Hermione's left empty in preparation for himself no doubt. He almost sighed in relief at that, knowing how easily the two fought like cats and dogs at times. Harry looked around, taking in the large upscale kitchen that had an aura of Victorian heritage. He'd just spotted and picked up a pair of expensive looking glasses when a loud squeal erupted from the table, and a pair of thin arms curved around his neck, beginning to squeeze the life out of him.

"Harry!" said the voice clearly, and Harry grinned at the feeling of Ginny in his arms, even though it didn't exactly feel right. Too many curves, he reckoned.

"Ginny!" He said happily, squeezing her back just a little bit, giving him the response of her giggling increasing in length and pitch.

At last, the two ex-lovers pulled back from one another and grinned at each other, though she looked slightly dazed at seeing his face for the first time since he'd had his inheritance. Though no one knew that. She recovered from the surprise of seeing Harry looking so different almost immediately, though she took in every difference almost instantaneously, "You look ..." she trailed off, actually lost for words.

Ron spoke up at that, seeing his sisters effort to regain herself, "You look different mate," he said, before sensing a chance of his words being taken as an insult, and rushed to correct himself, "a good different mate!" he added. Staying with Hermione for so long was bound to have made a change, right?

Harry laughed at that, seeing Hermione start to turn to Ron with the purpose of lecturing him plain on her face, "It's alright Ron, I know how different I look, it's okay." he said, glancing between them with a knowing grin. Ron blushed furiously, but thankfully, Hermione had missed the look in favor for still going for the chance to lecture Ron.

Poor Ron, he thought, just as Hermione started ripping into him about how self-conscious people were, especially Harry. But somehow he couldn't really feel sympathetic for the red head, Ron had chosen Hermione as his lover, not Harry. 

"I've really missed you Harry," said Ginny, giving him a small sad smile, "it wasn't the same without you, Hermione was always going at Ron and Ron was always saying something that offended her. I never really thought of you as the mediator between the three of you before, until you were sent to go back to those muggles and those two started fighting like cats and dogs." 

He snorted at that, "They've always been fighting like that and I've always been caught up in the middle," he said reminiscently, picturing the many times at Hogwarts where Ron had always said something offensive to Hermione or about Hermione in general, and Hermione would snap back, "It was funny to a point I guess, but there were times where you just wanted to grab their heads and slam them together or tear your own hair out."

Ginny shook her head at that, her eyes going to watch the couple, "I can't believe they fight like that and still manage to be together." She said pensively.

Something warm washed around his stomach at that, feeling like a mixture between butterflies and snakes. He looked down at Ginny's pensive face, just as she looked up at his intense one, "I think that fighting is an important part of being in a relationship," he began slowly, pausing to look back at Ron and Hermione, "it's a way to keep things alive, romantically and interest wise. I believe fighting can bring couples closer to each other, emotionally, mentally and physically." 

"We never fought," she said, pondering what he was saying deeply, "we never did anything other than kiss, hug or hold hands. The only argument we ever had was about whether professor Binns is really a ghost or just a spelled image repeating useless knowledge, and even that argument wasn't even an argument." 

A small smile tugged at his lips at the remembered 'argument', and he looked down at her again, "Exactly, and I think that that's because we weren't ... uh -" 

"Weren't compatible enough," offered Ginny, smiling softly up at his speechlessness. She really did love him, there was no doubt about that, but she knew that he didn't love her like that. And though it pained her and tore up her heart, she just couldn't bring herself to try and harm this beautiful creature. He didn't deserve it, and no matter what he did to hurt her, she could never hurt him. Although it did assuage her feelings to know that he'd never hurt her, at least, not intentionally.

"Yeah," said Harry gratefully, smiling down at the girl he felt was like his sister, "we weren't compatible enough."

Ginny glanced back at Hermione and Ron to see if they were still fighting and blinked rapidly when she saw Hermione place a soft kiss to Ron's cheek, "I think I know what you mean now," she said softly, looking back up at Harry, "about fighting." 

Harry glanced at the -now happy- couple and gave a small snort, "Yeah, cats and dogs alright." he said, before stepping away from Ginny and gesturing her ahead, "I think I might go and pay the happy couple a visit." 

Ginny snorted inelegantly and shook her head at him, but walked in the general direction of her seat, "Careful, don't want to get scratched, now do you?" she teased, winking at him.

Harry winked back, "Never know, I might like it." he teased back, ignoring the prickle of sensation in the side of his face that told him he was being stared at.

Ginny slid onto her seat with another inelegant snort and sipped at a bottle of butter beer in a clear dismissal. Harry grinned and shook his head, but strode around the table to stand before Hermione and Ron, a warm smile perched across his plump lips. However, the prickling sensation in his body never left him and he realized why when he turned to hand Hermione her glasses -which he'd newly discovered in his grasp-. All of the Weasley's were staring at him, their eyes fixated on him in shock of different degrees. 

It's probably the hair, he thought to himself, feeling his hair rest on his back like a lover. But even Ginny was staring at him in shock again, though he noticed that her eyes were trailing all of him instead of just his upper body. They seemed to stop on his bum the most.

"Harry!" cried Mrs Weasley happily, having turned and spotted him standing beside Ron. "Oh it's so good to see you dear!" she said, casting one final spell on a pile of dishes before turning and all but bouncing over to hug him tightly in her strong motherly grip.

"Hullo Mrs Weasley," said Harry happily, hugging the round woman tightly, "it's good to see you as well!" 

Finally, she pulled back from the tight grip she had around his waist, but instead of smiling in her motherly way after hugging him like he'd expected, she merely looked up at him in shock. Harry immediately inwardly groaned in apprehension. Her eyes were wide and surprised as she looked at him, took in the change of features and elegant bone structure. Though however much she looked at his face, took in the changes that were made, she was the first to reach around him again in another motherly hug.

And Harry knew that no matter how he changed, Molly Weasley would always accept him as one of her children and he was incredibly grateful and happy for that.

But it wasn't long before she pulled back again, and she looked at him with a happiness only a proud mother had when looking at her children, "You're looking a little peaky dear, are you well? Have those muggles been feeding you correctly? A growing boy needs all of the food he can get his hands on!" She paused as if expecting an answer, but Harry knew better than that and merely nodded with a smile and Mrs Weasley continued, "That's a good boy, dinner's ready now!" she said, turning him around and gently pushing him in the direction of Ron and Hermione.

However, not before a soft tug to a part of a his hair stopped him, he turned to smile at Mrs Weasley knowingly. She examined the long hair resting beautifully in her hand and smiled widely at him, "Oh Harry dear, you absolutely must allow me to brush your hair!" she cried excitedly, still slightly pushing him towards the table yet keeping him in the same spot. He could see the conflict on her face; to keep him in one spot and play with his beautiful hair, or send him to the table to eat and put on some more weight that she was sure he would have lost over the time he was with the muggles?

Reluctantly, Mrs Weasley allowed the long lock of hair to fall gently to his chest and patted his shoulder, "Go sit and eat deary, before Ron eats it all." Harry watched her lean around him to glare sternly at her youngest son, who Harry had no doubt was eating just as much as Mrs Weasley said.

Snickers erupted from the table behind him at that, and Harry joined when Ron shouted, "Oi! Ge'off m' foo'!". He inhaled the delicious aroma clouding the room and turned to walk to the empty seat beside Hermione, smiling at the feeling of his hair swishing around on his back. He almost couldn't believe that he even wanted to cut his hair, it was like it was somehow part of his soul, as if his hair was extension of something deep within him. It must be the creature, he reckoned.

He sat himself beside Hermione and smiled at the surprised couple, holding out a pair of expensive glasses that he'd just recently discovered was in his grasp, "I believe you were missing these?" he teased, smiling shyly at Hermione. She frowned lightly, taking her glasses from his light grasp and examining them.

"You found them?" 

Harry nodded happily at Fred's cry of relief with a small grin, "Yeah, they were on the bench by the door." he said, sending Hermione a small teasing smile. She blushed but otherwise stayed silent, too shocked by the sight of him and how he was acting to say anything or lecture him. 

Fred rolled his eyes exaggeratedly and pointed his fork at Hermione, who jerked back at the gesture with a scoff, "Well no wonder she needs them, she's completely blind!" he said with an outrageous look on his face, before suddenly turning coy and giving Harry a sweeping look, "While you on the other hand have no need for those strange stick things with glass in them! You're finally normal!" he said with a false cheer.

Harry laughed at that, shaking his head at Fred's teasing, and replied as best as he knew how, "I know, who needs those things at all!" he said joyously, bringing his hand up to pat the bridge of his nose pointedly. He hadn't really thought about those glasses until then, and he found himself feeling slightly nostalgic but otherwise happy. Gone were the days where his glasses could be blown off and he was left walking around blind. 

"Blimey Harry!" said George, suddenly appearing beside his counterpart with a small pop and two plates of food topped with delectables came hovering over to them, "You have to tell us your secret! Was it the 'Hairy Ball Berries' in the newest Skiving Snack Box, or one of those hair growing spells?" asked George mischievously, a grin covering his face as he looked at his financial backer.

Harry grinned and shook his head, "Nah mate, it was an inheritance, but good guesses anyhow!" he said mirthfully, before going on to ask about the newest inventions for the twins' shop, Weasley Wizard Wheezes. The twins were delighted to tell him that business was booming, the Skiving Snack Boxes, both old and new, were gone within the first hour of opening on almost every weekday. They promised to take him around to their sometime in the future.

Harry smiled at them, pleased with their progress and excited to see the shop, he had no doubt that they fully utilized the money that he'd given them for the better. He was also both honored and delighted to be named their co-owner.

Some time during the mad rush for seconds, Harry realized that there were more people than just the Weasley's and Lupins that were hanging around Grimmauld Place. Alastor 'Mad-eye' Moody, Kingsley Shacklebolt, another member of the Order and the Tonks' were there as well. And little Teddy Lupin as well. 

"Harry!" said Hermione suddenly, elbowing him lightly in the ribs to gain his attention. Harry turned around to her with a small scowl that dropped as soon as he saw her glaring at him, "Why didn't you tell us that you'd changed?" she asked, sounding and looking hurt at just the idea that he'd withheld something as important as this from them.

Ron wasn't much better, only instead of glaring, he was merely frowning, "Yeah mate, I mean it's not like we could owl you or you us, but couldn't you have floo called us? It couldn't have been that much trouble." he said. 

Harry frowned at them, unsure whether he should feel guilty or confused at their interrogation. For one, he should be able to have the choice to withhold something, whether it be unimportant or not, and for another, he didn't like the way that they were going about asking him. Like they reserved the right to know absolutely everything about him.

"I'd only just changed yesterday Hermione, and I wasn't given any floo powder to floo call anybody." he said tightly, a slump to his back that not many noticed forming. Other than a pair of sharp eyes that were trained to notice even the smallest detail.

However, since she'd had enough time to get over the shock of seeing him so different, Hermione didn't stir at the sudden steel in Harry's voice. Though she did back off from going to lecture him, sensing that any input from her would only anger him and push him away from her. She quietly turned to finish the food that was on her plate, realizing how harsh her words just were and inwardly wincing. No wonder Harry was angry with her. She stopped Ron from going at Harry for snapping at her by placing a small hand on his thigh, which tensed under her touch.

Ron looked down at her enquiringly and Hermione shook her head minimally, silently telling him not to say anything. Ron seemed to suddenly see the error of his ways, yet again, and hurriedly looked down at his plate, his cheeks glowing, but he thankfully remained silent.

Harry didn't say anything else as Mrs Weasley levitated the dessert she'd no doubt spent hours preparing onto the table. A large serving of treacle tart made its way onto his plate, and he contented himself with eating and savoring its delicious flavor. Even as he finished, he merely sat there silently while everyone around him talked about something with each other.

-oOoOoOoOo-

After the delicious dinner was over and many had thanked Mrs Weasley, they all dispersed and went their own ways. George and Fred disappearing upstairs to invent some more Wheezes, Ginny staying to help her mother clean. Harry himself had followed Tonks, Bill and Charlie into a large comfortable looking room that was revealed to him, as the parlor room. 

Harry could hear Bill and Charlie talking lowly to one another on one of the dark settees on the opposite side of the room, their heads inclined together and their expressions intense. There were small explosions coming every so often from upstairs as well; more Wheezes, Harry reckoned.

He was sat in front of the roaring hearth, studying the beautiful carvings that depicted snakes and dragons quite proudly, with interest and amusement. He spotted a lion, positioned like the Gryffindor crest with his stance on its hind legs and roaring, that was obviously a salute to Sirius' old House. The flames licked and curled at the carvings, outlining them with a darker edge that had Harry smiling at the twisted and somehow warmer representations.

"You were unusually quiet during dinner tonight Harry," said Tonks suddenly. She was sitting comfortably on a cushioned seat by the fire, her feet soaking in a bowl of hot water to 'relax her tense muscles'. As soon as dinner had ended, Remus had swept her off of her feet -quite literally- and placed her right in front of the fire, ordering her not to move and to just relax. Harry had thought it amusing at the time, but then he began thinking, and when he got to thinking, it always led straight back to the source of his worries and he began worrying.

"So were you," Harry replied lazily, closing his eyes to savor the feelings of warmth coming from the flames. He didn't know it, but he was unconsciously purring deep within his chest like a giant cat. The purring was so loud that Charlie and Bill could hear it from the opposite side of the large room, they stopped talking every so often to listen.

"Hey, I was quiet because I was eating non-stop, I had a reason," said Tonks, rolling her ankles to release some tension, "now you on the other hand, are not pregnant and don't eat constantly. So what's up?" 

Harry shrugged halfheartedly at her, stopping his unconscious purring for only a second as he lost the content feeling in his chest, "I could just like peace and quiet." he said, his voice almost a whisper. He'd always been quiet, there was no reason not to be after going through every adventure he'd had. One tended to be quieter than a Beezlebee after having faced the monster whom killer their parents a handful of times, especially when having to fight for their life to escape.

"Yes, you could," Tonks conceded after a moment, pausing only to think carefully about her next words, "but saying you could doesn't exactly convince me that you do, I've seen you as happy as Larry before, Harry, I know what you look like and how you act, and tonight at dinner? You looked nothing like that. You know you can trust me Harry, I'm here for you, you just have to lean on me a bit." she said, reaching out to him through her words.

Harry looked at her from under his eyelashes, a thoughtful look crossing his face even as the shadows that the fire gave him flickered and darkened his features, twisting them.

Though he'd been friends with Ron and Hermione for years, neither of them would understand, they'd see his thoughts as his usual 'guilty' ones and tell him to discard them right away, without given them any thought at all. They'd merely tell him that he was overreacting, that what he was feeling wasn't true.

But Tonks? She was outsider, she didn't know the way he thought or felt, she'd give him consideration and tell him what he needed to hear, not what someone else wanted to say. "It's not that I'm feeling ungrateful for everything that they've done for me, Tonks, but I just feel so ... so disconnected from them, like I'm an outsider looking in," he said quietly, emotion making his voice waver, and he avoided looking in her direction in favor of the fire, "I've always wanted a family, one that understood me, and they do, they try to include me in everything they do. But I just feel like ..." he trailed off, unable to word how he felt.

He really needed to read a dictionary.

"You feel alone too, do you?" asked Tonks quietly after a moment, her face sympathetic and relieved all at the same time.

"Yeah," said Harry quietly, looking deeply into the dancing flames, "all the time." 

"There's no shame in that, y'know? Everyone feels like that when they're going through a settling down period." said Tonks kindly, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear with her nimble fingers.

Harry's eyebrows wrinkled in confusion, and her spun around on his bum to face her, "Settling down period?" he asked bemusedly. 

Tonks smiled softly at his confusion and nodded softly, "It's where someone changes so drastically that they need time to settle back down into the routine they're most comfortable with. For me it was with Teddy, I was changing so fast what with him growing inside me and all, and I felt so alone, like I was going through my pregnancy by myself instead of with Remus. I had to adjust slightly every two weeks, had to settle back down into the groove I'd left for myself before I'd gotten pregnant." she said gently, a look of remembrance on her face.

"So this is normal?" asked Harry quietly, unsurely. He didn't think he could bear anything abnormal at the moment, not after the events he'd just gone through yesterday.

Tonks inclined her head slightly, a small smile tilting her lips up at the corners, "I don't think anything with you is normal, Harry," she said warmly, taking the bite out of the words with the softness of her voice and expression, "what you've gone through is not something anyone else has ever been through; you're the first and only person to survive a killing curse, to die and then come back to life, to destroy something so inherently evil that nothing could have saved it. Your reaction differs so much from everyone else's, Harry, because you are different and I admire you for that," she said strongly, and Harry was amazed and touched to see tears sparkle in the young mothers eyes.

"You're so strong Harry, you can endure anything the world throws at you and hardly bat an eyelid," she grinned then, "this settling down period you're going through is as normal as it gets for you, so I wouldn't worry about it." she said soothingly.

Harry pursed his lips and nodded, storing the information for later when he could mull it over by himself. 

"So," said Tonks innocently, drawing the reaction of narrowed eyes out of Harry, "how did you know I was pregnant?" she asked curiously.

"How did who know what now?" asked Sirius as he and the other Weasley's and Order members slipped in to the parlor room. Sirius moved to go to the only other empty seat by the fire where Harry was seated at, but was beaten by Molly Weasley, whom sat down firmly in the seat and conjured a brush. 

She smiled cheekily at Harry and gestured him to sit in front of her, which he did with a small playful sigh. As soon as the gentle brush bristles began sifting through his hair, the deep purring in his chest started back up. The warmth from the fire combined with the soothing strokes of the brush, was unparalleled in Harry's mind.

The occupants of the room started at the deep sound permeating throughout the room. Charlie and Bill began talking to each other again, both beginning to look unsure but still intense.

"I asked how Harry knew I was pregnant," said Tonks casually, her gaze stuck on Harry's relaxed form in front of Molly Weasley. 

"Ah, yes!" said Sirius, sounding as if he'd struck gold. "I was wondering how he did that little trick! Had me stumped for hours!" he said, playfully glaring at his Godson's relaxed face.

Harry pretended not to hear them as he relaxed into the ministrations on his head and the warmth soaking into the side of his body. Something deep within him relaxed and let loose the hidden tension he hadn't realized was there. He leaned back against Mrs Weasley's legs, his content purrs rumbling through his back and into her legs. Molly smiled.

"Harry!" said Tonks, snapping her fingers loudly to awaken the sleeping teen.

"Yes Tonks?" asked Harry politely, stopping himself from growling at her. For one, he wasn't some mangy animal that growled at everybody for no reason, and for another, since when did he growl at all? It's the inheritance, he thought tiredly.

"How did you know that I'm pregnant?" asked Tonks, sounding only slightly exasperated now. Remus sat beside her feet on the floor and took away the bowl almost immediately, pulling over an ottoman to rest her feet on instead. His hands were calloused but completely gently as they rubbed her small and slightly tender feet. She smiled lovingly at his ministrations and tucked a piece of graying sandy blond hair behind his ear.

"Yes, I'd like to know too," said Sirius, only slightly put out that he wasn't getting any loving attention from anyone. He was going to have to change that soon, because even though he loved the single life, he loved being under the warm attentive care of another even more.

"Auras," said Harry quietly, aware of the stares he was getting from everyone in the room, "I saw everyone's aura's." He hadn't wanted to divulge any of this information to any of them, but it seemed that he would've had to anyway, even if Tonks hadn't asked just then.

"Auras?" asked Tonks, fascinated yet confused at the word. She suspected that this was to do with the creature inheritance, no doubt about that, but she didn't know what kind of creature had any abilities like that at all. It was a mystery she wanted to unravel. "What do you mean?" she asked.

Harry opened his eyes, surprised to find them closed, and looked at her intently, "I don't know if they're actually auras," he said truthfully, hesitantly, "all I know is that I saw colors wrapped around your bodies, they were all a different color and covered you all from head to toe, and there was a small different color in your stomach." he said unsurely, biting his bottom lip. Oh how he really needed to get a dictionary.

Many eyebrows furrowed in confusion at his words and he knew he hadn't done a good job of explaining correctly, he could see Moody watching him with a raised eyebrow. He sighed and closed his eyes tightly, forcing his mind to go back to when he was in the Dursley's kitchen and had seen their auras. He glanced at them to see if he'd accomplished it, and his eyebrows furrowed when he saw he hadn't.

He closed his eyes again and practically willed it to happen. He wanted and needed to do it again, if not to prove to the others that he could, then to prove to himself that he can, and that it wasn't a one time thing that would probably never happen again. It wasn't as if something was blocking his 'extra senses', he could feel that he was thoroughly relaxed. I just need to concentrate, he thought.

The bones in his body jolted when he felt something shift in his chest and felt the room around him melt away, the floor falling out from under him in a rush and the walls disappearing so quickly he almost had to gasp for breath. He opened his eyes reluctantly, and gave a small gasp at the sight of the black abyss that surrounded them. And the colors. 

There were so many colors; reds, greens, blues, purples, pinks, oranges, yellows, all of them were unique! He glanced behind him at Mrs Weasley, who was still brushing his hair, and smiled at the beautiful rose petal color that surrounded her. He then looked at where he knew Tonks was sitting, having remembered the point of this exercise, and spied the small green color in her stomach. It had grown a small distance in just the few hours since he'd seen it, and he smiled at the picture of the girl he knew that the baby developing in Tonks' stomach would become. 

Somehow, the more he looked at the small green color, the more information came to him about the little girl it would become. She loved growing flowers, she liked drowning her pancakes in syrup and marmalade, and loved playing games of hide-and-go-seek with her father. She was demanding yet kind, intelligent and diligent, she always focused on her studies and kept her promises. She was to be someone of importance when she grew up.

Just as he was pulling away from the images in his mind of the little girl, he noticed something in the distance, something grey and small, it was at least four feet tall and thin. It moved quickly and seemed to not want to be in one place for too long, it looked like it was in the kitchen. hanging around where Harry knew the pantry would be.

"Is Kreacher in the house, Sirius?" he asked curiously. His bones jumped in his body again and he shivered at the feeling. He was surprised when the room and the people in it began fading back into view, before he felt at least the smallest bit proud of himself. He'd been able to see more that time.

It was silent in the room for a moment, every occupant staring at Harry for one reason or another. 

"What did you see?" asked Tonks softly, her hand falling to cup her slowly swelling stomach through her robes. She hid the worry that Harry had spotted something wrong with the baby, very well.

Harry blinked at that, his eyebrows furrowed. Should he tell them what he saw of the baby and ruin any and all surprises? What if he were wrong and ruined absolutely everything for them? He wouldn't want anyone else ruining the surprise if he'd gotten pregnant - he stopped thinking at that, his mind freezing, stuck on how wrong that thought was. Before he shook away the crazy thought. Him, pregnant? Not bloody likely.

So should he tell them anything at all? He worried his bottom lip and mulled it over. One on hand he could put any worries they may have to rest, but on the other he could ruin absolutely everything. He could be wrong.

We're never wrong, said a familiar voice in his mind.

Licking his lips, Harry cleared his throat and gave a small smile to Tonks, "I saw everyone's auras, naturally, and it was just a shock." he said.

Tonks cocked an eyebrow, "I sense that you're not telling us everything." she said slowly, and Remus silently patted her foot in comfort. He too was curious, though he would have gone about wheedling the information out of Harry a little bit differently.

Harry inhaled deeply and wet his lips again, sensing the occupants of the room shift, "I think I ... kind of saw your child's future ..." he said slowly, his words somehow louder in the silent room.

"You saw their child's future?" asked Charlie disbelievingly into the silence, his face a mask of fascination and awe.

"So, what, you're a seer now?" asked Moody gruffly, his mangled face tensing slightly. The senior wizard obviously had something against seer's, Harry reckoned. Though not that Harry could blame him, he too disliked seer's. Especially for the twisted prophecy a certain seer had given him. However, he didn't think that he was a seer.

Slowly, Harry nodded to Charlie and shook his head at Moody. He turned to Tonks and Remus and gave them a small but brilliant smile, "That child is absolutely amazing, they'll be quite a force to be reckoned with but I think Remus will be able to handle it." he said, giving them a little bit of information. He tried not to give too much information.

"Wait," said Tonks bemusedly, eyebrows furrowing further as she gazed at Harry, "just how far did you see into the future?" she asked.

Harry shrugged and inclined his head, thinking of how to word what he saw into simple enough words, at last he said, "Far enough to know that they'll be someone of importance in the world and that you'll need to stack up your house with lots of Maple syrup." 

"We have a house?" asked Remus intently, peering closely at Harry's face. Hearing Harry mention that they had a house intrigued him and excited him. He'd been looking for a house that would be big enough to house all five of them comfortably, that is if Harry still wanted to live with them of course, but he was excited nonetheless.

Harry nodded slowly, seeing the excitement grow on Remus' slightly aged face, and tried not to wince, "Yes, but I'm not too sure where it is, all I know is that it's large and highly comfortable and has a ... family crest? I don't know, it was a little blurry the first time I saw it. But I'm pretty sure that it's close by to the ocean." 

Remus sat back a little, stumped. A large, comfortable house that was close to the ocean, with an obscure family crest. That didn't sound too certain to him, it sounded a little iffy actually.

"But you've seen what our future will be like, right?" asked Tonks, looking at him beseechingly. She couldn't handle not knowing if either she or Remus hadn't survived, she just couldn't handle it.

Harry gave her a comforting smile, even as he was feeling Mrs Weasley's fingers start to move the hair on his scalp with measured movements, "Yeah," he said softly, "you guys are in for a sweet life ahead, Teddy's amazing, sh.. the baby in your stomach's amazing, it's amazing all around!" he said, having hurried to cover up the slight slip of the tongue he'd had. 

But unfortunately for him and fortunately for Tonks, she caught the slip. She sat forward a little bit, her face lighting up in excitement, "It's a girl?" she asked joyously. Remus also looked at Harry, sitting forward slightly.

Harry hid the sigh that wanted to escape and nodded, just barely, but it was enough for Tonks and she whooped loudly for the world to hear. The Weasley's and other occupants laughed happily at the news, aside from Moody, whom just rolled his eyes and smiled. 

Harry smiled to himself when Moody and the other Order members bid their farewells and left to go floo out to their homes in another room, presumably the study. He didn't think that he should tell anyone else about what he'd recently discovered. The twins didn't need to know that their auras were a matching purple color, anymore than Ron should know that his aura was a maroon.

And Moody didn't need to know that he had a bright fuchsia aura.

Chapter Text

4. The Potter Ring

The air in his lungs were fire and brimstone, the very core of his pain and suffering. He pressed on, breathing in and out the fire in his throat as he plunged onward, swinging the sword of Gryffindor at the heads of the werewolves charging him.

One head … Two heads ... Three heads, four, all rolling away from him with tails of blood behind them. The owners of said heads slump to the ground in bloody fountains, their paws twitching and scratching at the tiled floor as their very life force drains outward from their necks. Their bodies shift, their bones clicking and clacking quietly amongst the screams as they return to their human forms. Harry let out a small angry hiss when he spotted the scarred flesh above their elbows. They were all Fenrir Greyback's dogs, those who could change at will.

Shadows played around him, blurring out the vision that was the nearly destroyed Ministry Atrium. Where was Voldemort? Where was the coward that started this?

“Harry!”

Harry shot up from his prone position on the floor, his teeth bared and his muscles tensed to fight. Screams echoed in his ears, the sounds of falling debris and curses zooming by his head in loud hisses and crashes.

“Harry?” asked Hermione uncertainly, looking as if she was about to start backing away from him.

Harry blinked harshly and shook his head, shaking away the memories of that night that were clinging to him. He gave Hermione a small quaky smile and forced his stiff limbs to move, “Yeah, Hermione? What is it? What's wrong?” he asked, standing and stretching his achy bones.

“I just thought that you'd like some breakfast, and you can't have been comfortable lying there on the floor like that,” said Hermione quietly, her brown eyes watching him worriedly as he stretched the bones in his back. “Harry, are you alright?”

“I'm absolutely fine,” groaned Harry, listening to the satisfying cracks of the vertebrae in his back. “What time is it?” he asked, sighing in relief as the pressure in his bones and muscles ran away from him.

She looked doubtfully at him, but took his change of subject willingly, as she was almost as awkward when discussing her emotions as he was. “It's seven-thirty,” she replied, leaning around him to look at the small clock on the mantelpiece, “well, seven forty-five, if you want to be specific.” she said cheekily.

He rolled his eyes mirthfully and walked out of the parlor, gesturing her ahead of him politely and following her to the kitchen, “Was I really there all night?” he asked, cracking his sore neck and rubbing at the tight spots that were sat there. The least anyone could have done was give him a pillow, or a bloody blanket. Even if he was creature, no one knew what he was, so they couldn't exactly think that he was a human heater, now could they?

Hermione looked at him sympathetically and nodded, “Yes, we figured that you'd had a rough few weeks at the Dursley's and deserved a quiet night, you looked so comfortable just lying there in front of the fire, no one wanted to disturb you, least of all Mrs Weasley, so we decided to leave you be.” she said, a small pensive frown shaping her lovely face.

Harry cast her a glance, “It wasn't that bad there this summer, I didn't have to do as much as before because of my injuries, and they'd somewhat respected me enough to hold their tongues if I said something odd. I can't really complain about this stay. They fed me and allowed me my things, and in turn, I left them alone and helped around the house,” he said firmly.

"It shouldn't have to be like that, they should have done more than that, you shouldn't have had to clean and work when you were injured so badly," said Hermione pressingly, her face drawing a picture of concern and righteous anger on behalf of himself. "How can they be so cruel to their nephew; the last living relative they have on the Evans side of the family?" she asked angrily.

"Calm down 'Mione," said Harry calmly, touching her shoulder gently, "I won't have to go back there for anything other than to collect my remaining possessions, as soon as Moony finds that house I envisioned we can go and live there." 

"Then you'll be free of them," exhaled Hermione, nodding and reaching down to pet his hand, before she looked him in the eye with a guarded expression. "I understand now, but I don't particularly agree with it. I think you should take them to court." she said, turning to him determinedly and crossing her arms across her chest.

Harry gawked at her, his eyes bugging out as the image of his sniveling relatives all standing before the 'almighty' Wizengamot came to mind. He shook his head fiercely at the idea immediately, "No," he said firmly, "I'm not doing no such thing Hermione. Have you gone completely bonkers in the last five seconds? If you haven't realized, they're M-U-G-G-L-E-S, they don't know about Wizarding laws and as such, would not survive even facing the Wizarding courts -" 

"I'm not talking about the Wizengamot, Harry! I'm talking about the Muggle law! Taking Muggles to the Wizengamot wouldn't help anything, if anything it would merely release to the press and to the high courts that you were abused and neglected as a child. No, I'm saying go to the Muggle police and file them down as child abusers, go through the proper channels and exact revenge on them through the one place they least expect! The Muggle court!" said Hermione rapidly, her lovely face lighting up in determination and excitement, the excitement that was shown when she was in her element.

Harry was astounded. He didn't know where all of this was coming from, sure he'd had a few rants about the Dursley's treatment of him, a very condensed account of what actually happened as he didn't want them to know about their vile treatment of him, though he had blurted out some things, like him living in a cupboard for nearly eleven years, and the teasing that he had had to endure with food. But he had never stated anything about violence in the Dursley home in any of those rants, he'd said nothing and showed them nothing, no bruises and definitely no cuts. He'd accidentally glamoured them or healed them 'without knowing'.

Again, Harry shook his head at his friend and rejected the idea, "No Hermione," he said firmly, not allowing himself to be swayed by even half of the hope and anger rising inside his chest, "there's no point in even trying, there's no records of their treatment and even if I did take them to court, it would all be for nothing but petty anger." he said, rushing into the slightly busy kitchen before Hermione could say anything more on the topic.

"Good morning Harry dear!" cried Molly Weasley, kissing him firmly on the cheek and straightening his shirt single-handedly. "Did you sleep well? I apologize for leaving you there in front of the fire dear, but I just couldn't bring myself to wake you when you looked so angelic and peaceful! Oh, you must have so many cricks in your neck! Here, why don't you sit down and I'll be around in a minute to sort you out!" she said rapidly, pushing him into an empty seat and bustling about the cooking stove again.

Harry sat down with a gentle thump and blinked in surprise when Mrs Weasley immediately slid a few sizzling strips of bacon and hot sausages onto his plate, kissing him on the head and levitating the pumpkin juice to pour him a cup in quick succession. His mouth watered at the delicious sight the meal in front of him made, and he immediately dug in, ignoring how hot it was as it slid down his throat. 

"Wotcher Harry!" greeted Tonks merrily as she sat down at the table, fresh faced and ready for some greasy English breakfast, courtesy of Molly Weasley. 

"Morning Tonks!" replied Harry, after having swallowed what he'd had in his mouth, he didn't say anything else or reply to the cheerful greeting Arthur Weasley made in passing as he'd found himself ravenous. He cleaned off his plate quickly, and smiled at the feeling of good food in his stomach. "How's little Tonks doing this morning?" he asked when he knew his mouth was empty of food that might accidentally fly out to meet her, a grin on his lips.

Tonks chuckled and waved him off, "Oh, he's fine Harry, he missed you for sure though. Wouldn't stop saying 'Harr!' all night, even when I put him down to sleep!" she said, deeply amused at her sons behavior and deep affection for Harry.

Harry chuckled as well, ignoring how alien it sounded even to his own ears, and sipped on the fresh pumpkin juice in his goblet, "I missed him too, I can't wait to see and hold him properly, I can't believe how long it's been since I've seen him. Last time I saw him, he was barely keeping his eyes open for five minutes," he said fondly, an affectionate smile curling his lips. 

"And now he doesn't sleep and won't stop talking," said Tonks in amusement, before shaking her head and ruffling her short hair -which was an awesome kick-ass green today-. "Remus just can't seem to get a handle on calming Teddy like I can, he just makes Teddy talk more when he's supposed to be sleeping. How he can't just make Teddy fall asleep is beyond me!" she said, exaggeratedly groaning.

Harry grinned and sat back in his seat comfortably, "Well there's a reason for it, I can assure you. Teddy finds you most calming because he's a lot like you, but with Remus, it's like he's with someone completely new and adventurous, someone to study and compare to himself," he said.

Tonks' eyebrows raised and her smile widened, "Really? Is that what Teddy thinks of his Daddy?" she asked, her tone light and curious. 

Harry shrugged lightly, "Well, I'm no baby expert but ..." he trailed off pointedly, smiling deviously at her slightly pleading look. He rolled his eyes when her lips morphed into a pout, "Teddy's a lot like his mother, stumbling feet, sarcastic humor, intelligence and all. That's all I've got to say." he said, downing the rest of his pumpkin juice in one go so he wouldn't have to answer any questions Tonks would aim his way. But he needn't have had to, as Molly once again saved the day.

"Here you are, eat up now, we've got a long day ahead of us!" said Molly Weasley, sliding more food onto Harry and Tonks' empty plates and urging them to eat with a flutter of her hands. "Ronald Weasley! You put down your brother's sausage and eat your own, right this instant young man!" snapped Molly, bustling around the table to where Harry assumed Ron was hiding.

He and Tonks shared large grins at Ron's misfortune, before digging into the piping hot food on their plates.

Even though the food burnt Tonks' tongue, she still continued to eat, fascinated by the graceful yet ravenous way Harry sliced and mangled his food. She wasn't sure if Harry even realized the calculated strokes his knife made in the sausages and eggs, but she was sure that this was an acquired habit. The Harry she'd seen and watched, was clumsy and quiet, if a bit like her personality wise. 

But this Harry was different, he was all kinds of graceful and elegant, far more so than many pureblood families that she'd been given the task of watching over on her Auror cases. He didn't stumble, he didn't pretend and he didn't hide. He was beautiful, open, he radiated calm and poise like a tree does air. 

"So where are we going today?" asked Harry, his fork halting before his face loaded with a mixture of sausage and eggs, his large green eyes flashed curiously in her direction.

Tonks exhaled lightly, attempting to keep her heart in the beat, "We're going to Diagon Alley, you need to visit Gringott's to gather your inheritances and we need to buy a few things." she said lightly, smiling at the accepting look on his face as his mouth was too full of food to reply.

The only thing that hasn't changed about him, is his honest and trusting nature. And she didn't know if that was a good thing or not.

-oOoOoOoOo-

Diagon Alley was as busy and full as it was before any and all mention of Voldemort and Death Eaters, Harry decided as he was jostled by an elderly wizard with his arms full of small tiny bags. He didn't know if it was a good idea for him to be out here, especially as everyone was still banging on about him being their savior and all, being their almighty 'protector' that could not die. He was still hounded by Rita Skeeter, even after Hermione and Ron had threatened her with the legalities of her being an unregistered Animagus. 

So far Harry hadn't been hounded, or recognized, and he put it down to his new clothes and body. He was five foot nine now, which he still found lovely compared to his old height of five foot five, and his designer clothes and robes. He'd been given dark cotton robes that clung to his curvy figure and accentuated his waist, and a pair of dark dragon hide boots that were Sirius' when he was younger. But before he'd been allowed to leave, Mrs Weasley had snagged him and sat him down on a low stool and styled his hair so that it wasn't always in his face. 

In fact, he thought it made him look more ... Elfish. Like an Elf from one of those 'Lord of the Rings' movies that Dudley had always liked watching, regardless if some of it was almost like the Wizarding world.

She'd tied back his hair using the sections of hair just in front and above his ears, leaving only two small sections to dangle over his shoulders and onto his front, and tied back the rest of his hair using the first two sections, meeting them at the back of his head and plaiting it. He honestly didn't care what he looked like to someone else, but he'd had to admit that it looked quite good and slightly natural on him. Almost like he himself was an Elf.

"Alright partner, let's head to Gringott's!" said Tonks, sliding her arm into the crook of his left elbow and leading him towards the large building in front of them. 

So it turned out that Remus and Sirius hadn't been able to come with them, what with the fact that Sirius was very much still a wanted murderer and Remus was still a 'dangerous' werewolf. So that left Tonks, Molly, Arthur, Ron, Fred and George, Ginny, Hermione, Charlie and Bill to take Harry around Diagon Alley. Though that should have been enough people for Harry, he missed the company of Sirius the most. He couldn't wait for the day where Sirius was exonerated.

Tonks led him into Gringott's with a small grin, tugging him away from the flow of the people and more towards one of the Goblins. Harry still hadn't quite gotten used to the sight of the tiny creatures, seeing as he'd had hardly no need to come here at all, but he took the obligatory glares in his stride and stood tall beside Tonks, his right hand coming to rest on her small elbow comfortingly. 

The nasty looking young Goblin they arrived at didn't so much as speak, as outright demand, "What do you want?" in a nasty high pitched voice, glaring at them from over tiny half mooned spectacles that looked small enough to belong to a doll, but long enough to fit around the Goblin's squashed head.

"Harry Potter is here to claim his inheritance and birthright," said Tonks professionally, ignoring the sharp glare turned her way from the tiny creature.

The Goblin sneered at him then, his nasty little face scrunching up like a balled up map that Harry couldn't help but want to throw out, "Identification," snapped the Goblin. "and I don't mean a key." he added harshly to Tonks, whom had immediately reached into her coat pocket to pluck out the key.

Harry calmly reached into his robe pocket when Tonks gave him a small worried frown, and deposited the large scroll that contained all of his inheritances on the desk in front of the Goblin. He winked down at Tonks smugly, "I knew you'd be forgetting something," he said teasingly as Tonks turned red in the cheeks. She elbowed him lightly in the waist and stomped on his left foot when the Goblin began examining the parchment, smiling in satisfaction when Harry let out a small exaggerated 'ow', if anything than just to please her.

"Mmmm, yes," said the Goblin suddenly, his face erasing all negative emotions as he skimmed through the inheritance papers. "yes, I see," he said quietly to himself, before laying the last parchment down and looking up at Harry with a somewhat regal nod, "Mister Potter, Ragnok Scull-crusher will be waiting to see you in a short moment, Rulleck will lead you to his office. Congratulations on your inheritance. May your gold be prosperous and your enemies defeated." said the tiny ill-tempered Goblin humbly, bowing at what Harry guessed was his waist and hurriedly rolling up the parchment again.

"Thank you," said Harry immediately, also bowing at the waist, "may your gold be prosperous and your enemies defeated." he said, as if naturally and knew he'd done something good when the Goblin nodded in acceptance. He could feel Tonks eyeing the side of his face curiously as the Goblin handed him his inheritance papers and gestured to the side of his desk, but Harry ignored her in favor of the tiny Goblin beside them.

"Follow me," said the Goblin in a surprisingly deep voice, turning on his tiny feet and waddling down a hallway behind the teller booths. Tonks and he followed at a sedate pace, having realized that the Goblin wasn't in a rush to get them to Ragnok Scull-crusher. Harry grimaced at the name then, knowing it was safe to do so in the dark hallway. He wouldn't ask Tonks about the names just yet, he didn't want to offend any little ears that may be listening in on them.

They turned left when it came to a four way intersection, and Rulleck led them slightly deeper, and upon the room becoming darker, lit a small lantern, much like the lantern Harry had seen the first time he'd come here. "Keep up please," said the Goblin, walking slightly faster down the hallway. Harry felt a small nudge of Deja Vu at that. 

Harry knew that something was wrong when he felt Tonks begin to fall behind, it became clear why as she had lost her footing. He slowed down considerably, "You alright Tonks?" he asked.

"No -" she gasped, clutching at her side in a way that made him think that she'd been shot, "got a - got a stitch!" she panted, bending slightly.

Harry glanced ahead to see the Goblin nearly at the end of the hallway. He cursed the little creature inwardly, and pulled Tonks to a gentle halt and let her brace herself against him, her head resting on his shoulder, "Go -" gasped Tonks as she swallowed loudly. "Go ahead - I'll be - fine." she panted, slumping exhaustively against him.

Harry rolled his eyes at her selfless gesture and swung his arm under the backs of her knees, his other arm going behind her back. As if he'd leave her alone in this place. She let out a small shriek when her feet left the ground, but she didn't say anything as Harry had immediately set off at a fast pace, tracking the small and dim light of the long gone Goblin. He didn't need the light, but it was apparently freaking Tonks out the further they went. "It's too dark Harry, we'll trip and fall!" she said, panicking slightly, though thankfully she was only just short of breath now instead of outright panting. 

What happened to all that Auror training?

"We're fine Tonks, I can see perfectly, I know where we're going." said Harry soothingly, petting her arm with the hand around her shoulder. He felt and saw her move so that her head rested in the crook of his neck and her arms wrapped around her steadily growing belly protectively. He smiled softly, "I won't let anything happen to you Tonks." he promised.

His reply was a small exhausted grunt, but he still grinned and trekked on. The light from the Goblin's lamp was coming closer, and he realized why when he saw that the Goblin was stopped outside a large grey door and a slightly taller and older Goblin was standing beside him. He was more wrinkled and nastier looking than even the Goblin from the entrance, but Harry merely smiled apologetically and gestured down at Tonks with his head, "I apologize if we got lost, but your young Goblin here walks quite fast for a pregnant woman to match," he said, inwardly apologizing to Tonks for using her as an excuse.

Ragnok Scull-crusher inclined his head up at Harry, accepting the apology as he took in the sight of Tonks in his arms, his eyes resting on the arms cradling her slight bump protectively. "Very well, Mister Potter, I shall accept your tardiness for what it was, and leave it be, but know that I do not tolerate impolite company." said Ragnok coldly, his little eyes narrowing into small little beads of ice.

Well isn't he a ball of sunshine and rainbows? Thought Harry. 

Harry inclined his head politely and nodded solemnly down at the serious Goblin before him, "I understand sir, I won't make this a habit." he promised.

Ragnok seemed to appreciate this, as he gave Harry a considering look and shooed the other Goblin away with a flick of his wrist. Rulleck left before his senior could become angry, and disappeared back down the hallway. Harry wondered if he'd be back to lead them back to the entrance. "What can I do for you today, Mister Potter?" asked Ragnok, opening the door that led to his office and entering before him. Fickle things, Goblin's, thought Harry as he followed the Goblin inside.

The desk he saw was cluttered with gems of all kinds, the sides encrusted with rubies and the quills sitting in their holders on the desktop gleaming with emeralds in the firelight. There were stacks of organised parchments everywhere, and Harry realized that this office was actually quite large. It was actually bigger than Mr Weasley's office in the Ministry, and that was almost sad. 

"I wish to claim my inheritance, sir," said Harry, sinking down carefully into the large jewel encrusted seat in front of Ragnok's desk. Tonks snuffled in her sleep and curled into his body slightly when he sat. He cradled her more firmly against him and smiled apologetically up at the hard faced Goblin behind the desk.

"Identification?" asked Ragnok stiffly, his small beady eyes glinting in the fire light.

Careful not to wake Tonks, Harry pulled out the scroll of inheritances and placed it in front of the Goblin, watching carefully as Ragnok pulled the scroll apart and examined each page carefully, a long fingernail tapping rhythmically on the desktop. Ragnok suddenly looked up at him sharply, "You are a creature?" he asked.

Harry nodded softly, "I am, but I was hoping that you would be able to tell me what kind I am as there is almost no mention on any of those sheets." he said.

Ragnok sat forward in his seat then, the lines in his face becoming more pronounced, "My condolences for your parents, Mister Potter. It is a terrible business, death," he said, surprisingly softly, inclining his head towards a rather large stack of parchment almost hidden in the corner of the room, "especially for one who suffers the deaths of their parents, both of whom had something special to give." he said, a note of deep sorrow in his dark voice.

Harry inhaled deeply to calm down as a familiar itchiness and pressure built up in the back of his throat and eyes, "Thank you, sir," he said quietly, not quite trusting his voice to speak loudly, "did you know them well?" he asked almost soundlessly.

Ragnok watched him struggle to contain himself for a moment, waiting patiently for when Harry was calm enough to listen. At last, he said, "Yes, I knew Lily and James Potter from when they were newly wed, they were respectable and reliable clients who visited quite regularly, often to question me on James' creature blood." he said reminiscently. 

"I didn't know my father was a creature," said Harry thoughtfully, grateful that his voice held strong. If his father was a creature, why didn't he tell Remus or Sirius? Was he something far more dangerous than a werewolf? Was he ashamed of what he was?

"I can see you have many questions, Mister Potter, but many of those I cannot answer," said Ragnok, almost apologetically. "however, I can answer your inquiry on what creature blood you took." he said, moving away from the taboo subject of Harry's parents and back into professionalism. 

"Could you tell me after all the business with my family is done?" asked Harry politely, unsure whether he actually really did want to know what he was at that moment. What if his father was right to be ashamed of himself?

"Very well," said Ragnok, inclining his head again, he snapped his fingers commandingly and several things happened at once. A large silver box appeared on the desktop in front of the Goblin, a small ring box appeared beside that box and a long parchment adorned in deep blue ink settled itself beside the boxes. "This chest holds every key needed to unlock each house in the Potter and Evans lines, Mister Potter," he said, gesturing to the large silver box that looked near enough the side of a large jewelry box. 

"I am assuming that you know what this box contains," said Ragnok in his deep voice, the tip of a fingernail resting lightly on the top of the ring box. 

Harry nodded slowly, "The Potter ring," he said unsurely.

Ragnok inclined his head -something Harry had noticed him doing a lot, and wondered if the little Goblin was capable of even nodding at all-, "Correct, Mister Potter. It is the Potter ring, and it is something to be worn with pride and honor, something I think you have a lot of. But be warned, this is not something of the norm, Mister Potter," said Ragnok, a sudden frown taking up his face. "a family such as this has the heir wait until their majority, which is their seventeenth birthday, but as you have tasted the ash of death and met its very core, you have been allowed the chance to take up your fathers position as the Head of the Potter line.

"I am merely concerned, for there is a reason for that age restriction. Should you be foolish enough to squander the money your father and mother have passed on to you, I will take back the inheritance until it is fulfilled in all rights. I will not have your parents' money wasted by a foolish child who has caused death for one so evil, not even the law that has been upheld since its birth will ensnare their champion." sneered Ragnok, his face turning as ugly and dark as the shadows in the corner of the room.

Harry was tensed in his seat, his muscles coiled tight should the little Goblin attack him, before he inhaled deeply and relaxed forcefully in the seat. Ragnok would no sooner attack him than Tonks. He wiped away the look of outrage on his face and inclined his head respectfully, "With all due respect sir, I am no foolish child, I understand your protectiveness over my parents possessions, and I can assure you that no squandering and no hurt will come to anything that they had once possessed." he promised, his right hand coming to rest above his heart.

Ragnok merely inclined his head and pushed the long parchment forward, an emerald quill already atop it where he needed to sign. Before he signed it, he read through it and asked for a copy to keep for anyone he wished for to read it, which Ragnok then provided and left him to read. The contract before him merely stated that should he be unfit for carrying the ring of Potter, it would be stripped from him and locked away until he was ready to receive it again. It stated that for all intents and purposes, he was the Head of the Potter House. 

Harry took up the quill with hardly any hesitance, and scrawled his signature on the bottom. It actually came out quite beautiful now that he looked at it, it must be another change from the creature inheritance though, because he knew that his old writing was far worse and looked more like chicken scratches than anything. 

It flashed briefly, letting him know that it worked, and Ragnok slid the Potter ring box towards him. Inside the silver box, was a large ring encrusted with amethyst and emeralds all surrounding a large familiar crest that emblazoned a large sword, the hilt of the sword at the bottom of the ring. It was large and silver and sparkled whenever the shadows from the fire played over it.

"It will re-size itself to fit your finger when you put it on," said Ragnok assuredly when he caught Harry glancing from his slender fingers to the large ring.

Harry nodded and smiled his thanks and picked it up slowly and carefully. He frowned slightly, "Which finger does it go on?" he asked quietly.

"The ring finger on your right hand," answered Ragnok, gesturing to his right hand with a sort of amused look.

Harry nodded and smiled thankfully again, "Ah, thanks sir." he said, before carefully sliding the ring onto the slender ring finger on his right hand. A burst of magic filled him, all coming from the ring, and washed him in a sea of peace and content, filling him with its glow. It reminded him of many things all at once; a burst of cool air on a hot summers day, the feeling of cool rain dripping softly onto his heated skin, the feeling of floating on a lake of water, feeling the bubbles from down below tingle the skin on his arms and back as they rose. 

"That would be the ring adjusting itself to fit you and your magic," said Ragnok, seeing Harry's look of pure shock and dazed questions on his face. The Goblin grinned when Harry nodded respectfully, yet again. 

Ragnok didn't know why, but he could see a lot of Lily in the boy, perhaps it was the eyes that convinced him that Lily ruled him, or maybe it was the way he was always so courteous and showed proper decorum even when faced with an opponent he knew next to nothing about. He knew Lily would be proud of her son, and of what he's achieved.

"Would you like to know what you are now, Mister Potter?" asked Ragnok, an unsettling smile crossing the elderly Goblin's face.

-oOoOoOoOo- 

"Oh my -! Did something happen?" asked Molly Weasley frantically upon seeing Harry carrying a slightly snoring Tonks. 

Harry shook his head softly so that he wouldn't wake Tonks with the movement and nodded to Arthur Weasley, who was holding the Portkey that would take them back to Grimmauld Place. Arthur nodded back and held the slip of paper out, "Alright everyone, grab a hold of the Portkey or someone who is holding the Portkey." he said.

Molly gripped his forearm with a cheeky grin, and fastened her hold on a slightly disgusted Ginny, whom held onto Hermione, whom then was holding onto a red Ron and so on and so forth. Fred grinned mischievously at Harry and held out a hand to connect Harry and Tonks into the circle, whom didn't so much as snuffle in her sleep as her foot was grabbed onto by George.

"Ready, Forge?" asked Fred with a grin.

"Ready, Gred!" agreed George, whom nodded at his father and ducked his head. 

Harry spread his legs slightly and bent his knees to cushion the fall, all the while tightening his arms around Tonks protectively just in case he fell when they landed. He really hadn't missed the feeling of going through a Portkey, the feeling of a hook pulling his navel, it really did tend to make him dizzy. Oh I hate Portkeys! Thought Harry miserably as they were all tugged through the Portkey and out into the parlor room of Grimmauld Place. Many landed on their bums though. Hermione, Ron, the twins, Ginny and Charlie all groaned from their places on the floor, while Arthur, Molly and Bill shook themselves of the experience.

Harry had landed -surprisingly- on his feet with Tonks barely stirring in his arms, and was met with a loud animalistic snarl. His eyes shot up to meet Remus' furious gold eyes and he immediately tensed into a protective stance, his arms turning Tonks away from Remus out of instinct.

"Remus, calm yourself!" snapped Harry, hissing and jumping back when Remus swiped at him with clawed hands. He hissed loudly again and vaulted himself over one of the settees, whirling around to bare his teeth and roar at Remus, who had begun to stalk him. Remus pulled up short when Harry roared again and arched his back, making himself as large and threatening as he could be.

Which was apparently threatening, as the wolf in Remus' eyes retreated and he inhaled and exhaled deeply with practiced ease. Everyone was silent in the room as Harry brought himself back to Earth with inhaling and exhaling every ten seconds. He relaxed and slumped back into comfort, bringing a still snoring Tonks to rest in front of him.

"Tonks is fine," said Harry calmly, ignoring the gobsmacked looks of his friends, "she was exhausted from having to chase after a fickle Goblin, and fell asleep on me after having let her catch her breath." he said pointedly to Remus, whom looked slightly ashamed and flushed.

Harry didn't bother with trying to tease him or push him any further, and laid Tonks down gently onto the settee in front of him, withdrawing immediately as Remus rushed to sniff and assure himself that Tonks was fine.

"What the bloody hell was that, Harry?" asked a pale faced Ron, his eyes wide as he took in Harry's still slightly huffy form.

Echoes of what Ron said came to him as well, and Harry shrugged carelessly, waving off what had just happened as if batting away a fly, "That was merely instinct, I'm fine, Tonks' fine and Remus is fine, that's all that matters." he said tiredly, taking himself to the fireplace and slumping down onto the floor with a small sigh of relief. A large crash of what sounded like money in a metal box brought everyone to look at Harry curiously and warily, even Remus and a slowly awakening Tonks.

"Damn keys," Harry cursed, burying his face into his hands.

"Harry?" asked Hermione, but Harry was too far gone to realize what she'd said as it came out as a warbled murmur, and he slowly drifted out into an exhausted sleep, his muscles and bones weary from having to sit so still in the Goblin's chair and to keep Tonks asleep, and then to be shot through what felt like a tiny worm hole, and then to jump about and around trying to protect himself and Tonks from a half wolf Remus. He was absolutely dead on his feet and too far gone to do anything about it.

However, instead of just leaving him there to sleep in front of the fire on a cold hard floor, Sirius levitated him with his wand as Harry was too big for him to support, and took him upstairs into what was assumed as Harry's room. After lowering Harry down into the soft welcoming bed, Sirius lit a fire in the large fireplace before the bed and kissed his Godson's forehead.

Sirius paused before leaving the room, his gaze going back to his beautiful Godson, "Sleep tight, pup." he said softly, charming the bed to alert him as to when Harry awoken and to remain warm, as he'd recently found out that Harry was drawn to everything warm.

He slid the door closed behind him with a small click, smiling slightly when he heard a muffled, "Night Padfoot." behind him. 

Even though his Godson was a creature, he would treasure every moment he had with him forever. Harry was his everything, and he was sure that he was also Harry's everything. And that was good, because he was going to challenge Remus for the guardianship over Harry very soon, and he hoped that Harry would at least be on board with him.

He couldn't let Harry go, not again.

Chapter Text

5. Wow. 

“Master Lord Potter?” 

Harry slipped awake with a small start, blinking away the fuzziness in his eyes and yawning quietly into his hand. He rubbed his fingers into his eye-sockets deeply to banish the sleep and focused on the creature beside his bed. He frowned, “Kreacher?” he asked.

Harry was surprised when Kreacher bent down at the waist and looked up at him with somewhat awed eyes, his slumped aged mouth hiking up at the corners to reveal a small number of pointed teeth in a shockingly warm-ish smile. “Kreacher is pleased to serve the noble and honorable Master Lord Potter,” said Kreacher with an oily voice, glee and giddiness in his small blue-grey eyes that were much too used to glaring, sometimes at Harry himself. “Kreacher is being told Master Lord Potter is being requested in the kitchens by the Mudblood and blood-traitors.” he croaked, his face taking on a harsher edge when the horrible names were mentioned.

At first, Harry thought that this was a rather strange dream to be having. Kreacher, being nice? And to him of all people? 

Discretely, Harry pinched the skin on his wrist, unwilling to admit that Kreacher was actually capable of smiling, and at him of all people! No such luck was given to him today, it seemed, as all the pinching to his wrist gave him naught but a small pain and bruise. Not wanting to be rude to the House-elf, whom was still smiling in awe at him -for the very first time, might he mention-, Harry smiled -though a little unsurely- and inclined his head in acknowledgement to the creature's bow.

“Uh, thank you Kreacher,” said Harry, "I'll be sure to go down in a minute, and please call me Harry." he said, when he realized that this might be a one time opportunity to get Kreacher to become faithful.

It seemed to do the usually grumpy and evil-looking creature a world of good, as Kreacher's sunken in chest bloated with pride, and his face turned into a pleased smile that reminded Harry a lot of Dobby, only with less cheer and happiness and more with smugness and satisfaction. "Thank you Master Harry," said Kreacher thickly, bowing once again at the waist, though this time deep enough for his ears and pointed nose to touch the floor. "Kreacher is honored to serve Master Harry, the most honorable and noble of blood, much more than blood-traitor Sirius Black," he spat the name with acid, his face twisting into the dark scowl that it was always set in when he stood back up again.

In actual fact, Harry really had never seen Kreacher smile. There was no happiness or warmth in the elder House-elf's eyes whenever he looked upon his master, merely an insurmountable amount of scorn and hatred. He had to wonder if Sirius gave Kreacher his freedom, what he would do. Would he set fire to Sirius, or shoot a jet of green like Dobby did Lucius Malfoy in second year? Surely there were worse fates than that, but he didn't exactly want to ponder them. Except for one. Secrets, Kreacher could go to some unknown enemy and spill every secret Sirius or the Order has ever had.

There was no loyalty between Kreacher and Sirius, merely a Master and a slave bound by heritage and duty.

Kreacher was older than Sirius, he had generations of knowledge on horrible curses and spells on his side, especially having served in the House of Black for many generations. It would more than likely be best to treat Kreacher with kindness and respect, he'd more than earned it from them, serving many, many years for a rotten House like he has. 

Harry shifted uncomfortably on the bed and cleared his throat to gain Kreacher's attention when it wondered, "Kreacher, is there a bathroom anywhere near here?" he asked sheepishly, looking around the large room a little lost.

Naturally the room that he'd been put in was much in the same theme as the rest of the house; expensive and tasteful, however it was far darker than that of what Harry had seen so far. It looked more grander as well, more carvings in the wooden frames on the window and hearth than anywhere else. He noticed a few carvings were of smiling snakes, and had to silently curse the prankster he had for a Godfather. He'd get Sirius back for that small detail. 

There was a very large and dark ornate wardrobe standing proudly beside the door, it seemed to swallow up half of the room with how big it was. It had a matching ornate dresser stationed across the room, almost as large in length ways and just as dark in the firelight, and a large silver ornate mirror resting upon it. There were a few cabinets on the walls as well, most were surrounding a large bookcase positively filled to the brimming with large tomes on what Harry would guess to be about the Dark Arts. He certainly couldn't wait to get a look at them. 

There was also a comfortable looking rocking chair in front of the fire, obviously there for him if ever were he to be in a pondering mood to just sit and stoke the fire. Then he spotted a rather large collection of alcohol's in fine crystal bottles sitting pleasantly in one of the cabinets closest to the fire. It seemed that Sirius knew what he was doing when he designed the room for Harry.

"That is being through here," answered Kreacher croakily, limping past the large wardrobe and stopping to look back expectantly when he paused in front of another door, one that Harry hadn't noticed. 

Harry stood from the bed with a low groan and stretched his muscles like a cat, his toes curling into the cold floor and his hands balling up into tense fists above his head. His back was so arched he was almost half lying on the bed again. "Thanks Kreacher," he said, a grateful smile curving his lips as he passed by the small elf.

Kreacher bowed once again, the look of awe growing steadily stronger as he stood back up, "Breakfast is being ready downstairs, Master Harry." he said, before promptly disappearing with a small pop that was significantly quieter than any other House-elf's. 

It seemed that Harry was garnering unwanted attention from the least likeliest of creatures, first the Goblin's and now Kreacher, the most hateful and spiteful House-elf he'd ever had the pleasure to meet. It was more than likely due to his creature inheritance, and from what Ragnok had said about his heritage, a great deal more was to change for him.

With a sigh, Harry pushed through the door and stopped for only a moment to enjoy the look of the bathroom, before putting it to use. He flushed the toilet and washed his hands, lathering them up with a soft strawberry soap that smelled quite delicious. He'd have to thank Sirius for putting that in here and wondered if the shampoo and conditioner would be the same scent. It was.

After stripping from yesterday's clothes, Harry released his hair of its binds and shook it free, enjoying the feeling of it tumbling -not quite so neatly this time, due to the many, many knots- around on his back. He smiled at himself in the large mirror, flicking his hair this way and that. He had to say, even with how tired and worn down he looked, he still managed to be ... attractive.

The pressure and warmth of the water was exquisite, hard enough to knead his muscles but soft enough not to give him a headache when he washed his hair under the spray. It seemed that the only bad thing about having long thick hair was the amount of shampoo, conditioner and time it took to wash it. His hands were a little numb by the time the conditioner in his hair was gone, but he didn't mind. His hair was silky smooth now, and ran like water in his hands when he pulled it all over his shoulder.

He let himself enjoy the jets of water pounding into his slightly sore back for a little while longer, rolling his shoulders every once in a while to regain feeling and test how loose they were. 

He could see himself living here, living with Sirius and pranking each other like they'd planned before Harry had gone to live with the Dursley's. To be truthful to himself, he never really saw himself living with Remus at all, he would entertain the idea every once in a while, but it never really firmed itself in his mind. To him, Sirius was more a father, more a friend and more a brother than Remus. Remus was like a very close friend, but he wasn't quite yet a father figure in his mind. He'd almost set himself back to being merely Harry's fathers friend when he pulled that stunt with the Dursley's and the methods of contact.

The guilt he'd lain on Harry felt more like he was being covered in concrete mixture, weighing him down with shame to get him to go back to the Muggles. Harry didn't want someone who could easily guilt him into going to a place of torture and pain, especially like that. He didn't want someone who had that kind of power and control over him, and as they'd recently found out, any challenge issued between either of them was taken rather literally and dangerously. Their creature's were likely to be enemies, and Harry didn't want to accidentally kill Remus or for Remus to accidentally tear him apart. 

Sure Sirius could be childish, but Harry didn't want himself to be stuck with someone who was more an adult and hardly ever indulged their inner child. He wanted fun in his life, someone who would freak out with him and cause a ruckus. He wanted to live with Sirius.

He wanted to live here with Sirius more than that mystery house with the Lupin's, and in fact, he'd seen only the four Lupin's in his mind when seeing their future.

Did that mean that he never lived with them? 

-oOoOoOoOo-

After the glorious and pensive shower had finished, Harry had trekked into his room with a fluffy black towel draped around his waist. He'd went to rummage through his school trunk for clothes, when the already large wardrobe in the room seemed to become bigger and bigger, becoming more and more tempting with each passing second.

Surely Sirius wouldn't mind him going through the wardrobe for something to wear, would he? Well, if he did, Sirius wouldn't have put the wardrobe in there anyhow. And besides, who says that it's actually full of clothes? Harry glanced at the door warily, half expecting Sirius to suddenly burst in and attack him for even thinking of going near the wardrobe.

After a few moments of the door remaining undisturbed and Harry staring at it like an idiot, Harry shook himself and strode purposefully towards the large thing, admiring its beauty for only a short time before opening it up. Inside, looking like they were newly bought and begging to be worn, were clothes of the finest materials, all in dark colors and calling to him as if he'd hand-picked them himself.

"Oh, wow ..." he breathed, gently running his fingers over the fabrics in wonderment. Glancing down, he noticed the many pairs of refined shoes and boots that seemed to match some of the clothing above, there were even two pairs of the ridiculously expensive dragon hide boots that he'd seen in Diagon Alley! "Sirius, you have got to be joking ..." he whispered to himself, both touched and upset that Sirius spent so much money on him. 

"Good morning Harry."

Speak of the Devil, and he shall appear, he thought satirically, calming his suddenly raging heart with a hand to his chest. Harry half-turned to face his smirking Godfather and gave him a tight smile, "Morning, Padfoot," he murmured. He smiled a little at the roll of eyes he received. 

"Alright, what's got your panties in a bunch now?" asked Sirius half-exasperatedly and half-concerned, moving away from the doorway to close the door behind him for privacy and to sit on the edge of Harry's large bed. Sirius looked at him intently when he was settled and leaned back on his hands comfortably. 

Harry snickered at the phrase and shook his head, "You've been around the twins too much, haven't you?" he accused merrily, seeing images of a grumpy Sirius surrounded by the two trickster's in his mind.

Sirius held his hands up with his own snicker and nodded, his grey eyes almost rolling out of his head, "Yeah, they can be quite ..." he trailed off a little, thinking for a word to describe the twins. And there were many to choose from, why, Harry had his own dictionary of words to describe the twins.

"Mischievous? Colorful? Rebellious?" offered Harry, only half-joking as he moved to sit next to Sirius on the bed, only remembering that the towel was the only thing that he's wearing at the last minute. He tightened it around his waist to keep it from falling.

Sirius didn't seem to mind that he was wearing only a towel in his company, or he didn't really notice. "Well, I was going to say influential, but I think that you're onto something there," he said, smirking at him slightly, before he seemed to remember the point of the conversation and the smirk drifted into a concern frown. "Now that that's been said, what's wrong?" he asked, a note of concern in his voice that made Harry's insides warm up, as he remembered what he was thinking in the shower not too long ago.

"Well, this room for one," he said, gesturing around him at the lavish interior. Harry rushed to clear up his mistake when Sirius began to look upset and hurt, "I don't mean that I don't like the room, I just mean that it's too much - not in the bad sense of course, I've just never been in a room as fancy and regal as this and it makes me feel like - I love it in here, but I just - I'm getting this out all wrong!" he moaned in despair, throwing his head into his hands and giving up. 

Sirius remained quiet beside him for what felt like a millennium. At last, he spoke, "Harry, I think I know what you're trying to say," he said quietly, nudging Harry's shoulder to get him to look up. Harry did so, and felt slightly relieved when Sirius smiled in understanding, rather than the horrible expression Harry had been waiting to see, "I know, you're unused to comforts like this and find it shocking that I spent so much money on you. You feel guilty, that you don't deserve anything good in the world because of your past."

When Harry opened his mouth to speak, Sirius held his hand up, "Harry, I know what you're like, I know that you believe that you're not worthy of the finer things in life and have absolutely nothing to offer, that you're merely damaged good designed to be used and then tossed aside. Well guess what? You do deserve the finer things in life, you deserve so much more than any one I know, royal or no. You've sacrificed and lost so much in your young life, so much that should never have been taken from you in any situation. I want to give you as much of what you've lost back to you, not because I think you're some charity case that needs help, but because I think of you as my son, my best friend, and one hell of a kid." he said thickly, his dark grey eyes glimmering with tears. 

By now Harry was crying freely, his own tears pooling over and trailing down his cheeks. His throat had closed up long ago and he'd long since given up trying to speak, but he tried again anyway, "I l- love you, Padfoot." he whispered brokenly, his voice stolen by emotion. How long had it been since he was told that he was wanted? That he was wanted as something other than a weapon or something to be used and then thrown away? How long had he been led to believe that he was alone in absolutely everything? How long had he himself believed that his purpose was done, that he had no one and nothing to comfort him, to love him, to care for him? How long had he believed himself alone and unwanted? A sob ripped its way out of throat and he bowed his head to hide his emotion.

Too long. Far too long.

Strong arms wrapped around him then, dragging him to lay his head onto a chest that was heaving as much as his was with emotion. Lips pressed firmly onto the top of his head. "I love you too Harry." whispered Sirius, carding his hands protectively through Harry's hair as he himself let out sobs. 

They stayed like that for awhile, the both of them too caught up in emotion to realize that they'd be missed at the kitchen table. Harry knew that he was in the same boat with Sirius, Sirius had lost just as much and more as him, and the more Harry thought about it, the more became clear. Harry was part of the small makeshift family that Sirius had left. Harry's back and shoulders had been hurting and aching from the position they'd been in for five minutes now, but he didn't care, he'd suffered far worse than a cramped back, and Sirius needed him just as much as he needed Sirius. 

"Harry," Sirius pulled back gently, sniffling and wiping away the tears still climbing down his cheeks, and eased Harry away from him so he could look into his Godson's face. "I wanted to speak with you before all this happened, about where you're going to live." he said softly. Harry noticed that Sirius looked quite odd without the small beard he'd been sporting back when Harry had last seen him, but didn't want to spoil the moment by saying so.

Harry nodded slowly, a small relieved smile forming on his lips, "I wanted to talk to you about that as well." he admitted.

Sirius grinned, happiness soon filling up the dark grey eyes that had just been crying a moment before. "Then that makes this easier then," he said, the gruffness Harry had grown accustomed to hearing from Sirius returning and the grin still on his face as he moved further onto the bed to get comfortable. "I just wanted to know, when you said that you saw Moony and Tonks living in a house -" 

"I wasn't there," said Harry immediately, the small smile growing on his face. Sirius really did have a habit of skirting the point he was trying to make.

Sirius looked taken aback for a moment, before he shook his head and snorted, "I should've known better than to beat around the bush, he's a lot like James," he muttered to himself in amusement, he seemed to shake himself from his thoughts when Harry adjusted the towel more firmly around himself. "Perhaps I should let you get dressed first." he said then, shaking his head and snorting to himself.

"Would you be offended if I didn't wear those clothes?" asked Harry in a small voice, the smile turning into a worried frown almost immediately.

Sirius scoffed and shook his head. "Of course not, Harry!" he said, looking at Harry as if he was being silly, but it wasn't long before a mischievous grin settled across his face. Harry shifted, feeling disconcerted by the way Sirius looked at him. Harry narrowed his eyes suspiciously when Sirius slipped off of the bed and walked swiftly to the door. "But I do think that it might be next to impossible for you to wear anything other than the clothes I bought you, it seems that the clothes in your trunk got a bit hot." he said vaguely. 

Harry's jaw dropped, "You burnt my clothes?!" he screeched. There were at least three pairs of pants that he loved in that pile!

Sirius glanced back at him and smirked, inclining his head. "Well I couldn't exactly keep a hold of the slippery trunk and I didn't realize that my wand was blowing a few sparks ..." he trailed off teasingly, before ducking out of the door in roll as Harry had just launched what appeared to be a lamp. 

Sirius' laughter was all Harry could hear fading in the distance as he stormed to his school trunk and yanked it open. Indeed, the only things that he had left were old school books, new and old pieces of parchment, quills and ink and the few Weasley jumpers that he'd been given by Molly Weasley for every Christmas since first year. His invisibility cloak and Marauder's map was hidden at the bottom of the pile. 

"DAMN YOU, SIRIUS!" He bellowed, slamming his trunk louder than he'd ever done before.

A distant peel of laughter could be heard downstairs.

-oOoOoOoOo-

"Morning sleeping beauty!" teased George in greeting from the kitchen table, smiling too cheerily for someone as tricky and mischievous as himself. Fred waved energetically and gave Harry the same smile that was mirrored on his twins face.

Harry hesitated only slightly, before giving them a small smile and nodding to each of them, "Morning George, Fred." he said. He glared at Sirius from across the table as he passed by Ron and Hermione and fought the urge to flip the man off when he merely grinned toothily back.

If he wasn't so comfortable in the Muggle black skinny jeans and V-neck t-shirt, he would've already attempted to tear Sirius' hair out with his teeth. As it was, Harry had to admit that he looked quite attractive in the Muggle clothes, he wondered yet again, how Sirius knew his sizes and style. He glanced at the Potter ring from the corner of his eye when he seated himself beside Ginny. Maybe the clothes had a charm on them to fit him no matter what size he was?

"Morning Harry," greeted Ginny softly, turning slightly in her seat to face him. "it certainly did take you a long time to get down here, did you attempt to drown yourself in the shower or something?" she asked, a teasing tone in her voice.

Harry smiled softly back at her and ducked his head slightly when Molly Weasley bustled around to his side to fill his plate up, "Or something," he said to her, before turning to Molly happily, "thanks Mrs Weasley, I'm absolutely starving." 

"You're welcome Harry, every growing boy needs food! There's plenty more on the cooker if you're still hungry after you eat this!" she said, smiling down at him encouragingly.

Harry grinned and turned back to his food to dig in, only to find a hand dragging away one of his sausages. He smacked the back of the hand and snatched his sausage back from the thieving fingers, "Oi! Get your own!" he said half-jokingly to the hand, watching as it recoiled and returned to its owner. Who else would it be, but Ron Weasley?

Ron pouted childishly at him and rubbed his slightly red hand. "No need to slap Harry, I just wanted another sausage." he said.

"Then go and grab someone else's! I'm positively starved!" He said, dropping the sausage onto his plate and quickly diving back in to slice and separate it systematically, dipping it in the dribbling egg yolk.

He missed the fascinated looks on his adopted family's faces and continued to work in an efficient manner, slicing the sausages easily as if he was slicing a hot knife through butter and dipping the pieces in the egg yolk. Only when he finished his first plate did he take a swig of pumpkin juice. 

"How the hell did you finish all that in ten minutes?!" asked Ginny in shock, eyeing the way Harry dabbed at the nonexistent grease at the corners of his lips. 

Harry hid a burp behind his hand and grinned at the shocked expressions around him, "Well I am hungry .." he said pointedly.

Molly jumped into gear then, sliding even more sausages and eggs onto his plate. She looked down at him lovingly when he smiled gratefully up at him. "Good boy, Harry dear, you keep on eating and ignore them all." she said encouragingly, topping up his pumpkin juice.

When Ron's hand reappeared to attempt another sausage snatch, Harry permitted him to take it, pretending to be interested in drinking more pumpkin juice.

"Hungry, Harry?" asked Bill in amusement, a smirk gathering on his lips.

Harry grinned proudly and gave his stomach a sound pat, "I reckon that I've still got some space to fill." he said, already beginning to slice his food and repeat the process of eating again.

"I don't know where you're putting all of that, but I can't wait to see if your thighs and arse swell from all this food by tonight," said Ginny, making a point to watch his legs as if they were about to do so at that moment. 

"Ginny!" snapped Molly Weasley, shocked. "Language, young lady! I didn't raise you to swear like some rude witch with a 'b'!" 

"Sorry mum," said Ginny, hiding her giggles by sipping at her own pumpkin juice. 

"Yeah Ginny," snickered Ron.

"Don't you think I haven't forgotten about you, Ronald Weasley!" snapped Molly, turning on her youngest son with her finger pointed accusingly.

"Me?! What did I do?!" asked Ron, shocked and flabbergasted at the turn of events. Harry leaned back in his seat and watched the family spit with amusement that was badly concealed. A glance at Sirius and the other brothers almost made him break out into laughter. Almost.

"I heard you swearing at the top of your lungs last night in your room, young man! I promise you that if I hear so much as a single cuss word come from your mouth, I will ground you until the day you move out!" said Molly Weasley, waving a spatula threateningly at her youngest son. Ron was paler than Harry had ever seen him, considering he'd seen Ron puke out a few buckets worth of slugs. Ron nodded shakily and seemed to press into Hermione's side, who was surprisingly blushing a little.

Fred and George were laughing to their hearts content, absolutely cracking up at their second youngest brother. Bill, Charlie and Ginny were laughing as well, only less hysterically than the twins near them. But only just. Harry himself was laughing at Ron's misfortune, but he only found the situation hilarious because Ron had most likely been with Hermione when he'd been screaming. Harry would bet his left hand that Ron was extremely grateful that Molly hadn't gone into the room when he'd been screaming, otherwise the situation would be far different. 

It seemed Sirius had also come to the same conclusion as well, because as soon as Harry and he locked eyes, the both of them broke down into peels of laughter, only stopping to glance every so often at a furiously blushing Hermione and a red hot Ron who looked like he had all of the blood in his body all collected in his face and neck. 

Molly was standing at the head of the table beside Sirius and Arthur, her hands on her hips and her lips pursed in disapproval and confusion at the sight of her sons and school friend laughing at her. 

"I do believe they're laughing at Ron and Hermione, dear." said Arthur Weasley to his wife, his smile sweet and assuring as he looked up at her adoringly. 

Molly frowned but nodded and gave her husband a swift kiss to his cheek, rubbing her hand up and down his arm gently. "Are you going to the Ministry today?" she asked quietly, her bright brown eyes surveying her children carefully.

"Yes," answered Arthur, just as quietly. "I have to speak to Minister Fudge on the wanted Death Eater's, it seems that they've all become reckless in their killing and have been spotted in multiple locations, each getting closer and closer to Hogsmeade. The Obliviator's at the office have been hard pressed to work their magic on quite a number of unsuspecting Muggles." 

Molly hid her gasp behind her hand and closed her eyes to try and relieve the stress knotting at her temples. "Those poor people," she whispered, her eyes still closed, before they popped open and she looked down at Arthur tensely. "Harry is not to know Arthur, he cannot be told -"

"I'm afraid he has to be, Molly," said Arthur sadly, grasping at his wife's hand to bring her in closer so that she wouldn't force him to say this any louder and alert the others to their conversation. "I believe, as well as Minister Fudge, that Harry should know the truth of what is happening far more than anyone else, he has the most power behind him to put a stop to all of this madness. If anyone should know, it ought to be Harry." he said gently, but firmly.

"Harry is too young to handle all of this, he'll crack under the pressure of yet another target - he's not a weapon, Arthur," pleaded Molly, sinking down to her knees and casting a surreptitious glance at the others at the table to see if anyone realized yet what they were talking about. Thankfully, they hadn't. "Please don't say anything to him, go to Fudge and talk to him about the possibilities of getting more Auror's on duty -"

"Molly, if Minister Fudge pushed more Auror's onto the streets, everyone would know what was happening and begin to panic, they would think that He's back and will riot. I don't think that our world can take much more panic and hysteria," said Arthur gently, softly pleading with his wife to understand. He himself didn't like the fact that the fate of the world was resting in his adopted son's hands, he wished that someone else, someone much older would carry the burden instead of Harry, anyone instead of Harry.

Molly let out a shuddering breath and kissed her husband softly, resting her forehead against his. "I don't like this Arthur," she whispered painfully. "I don't like how even the Minister is turning to a young boy to settle his own debts, it's not right. If they keep turning to Harry like this at each and every step of his life, they'll eventually wear him down and he'll break. He's been so stro-ng for so long, Arthur, but I believe that this will be his downfa-ll." she whispered brokenly, her voice crackling with emotion. 

"I know Molly, I know." agreed Arthur, almost silent in his pain. He held onto his wife as she began to shake as silently and still as possible, he knew that it was only for the benefit of the children, they'd panic if they saw their mother crying, and the topics surrounding Harry's life always brought Molly to her knees in her tears and sadness for the boy.

"Well," said Molly with a small sniffle, pulling herself from Arthur's shoulder. "I suppose you should be going then, it's getting rather late for a visit with the Minister." she said.

Arthur gave a small chuckle and nodded. "Yes, I suppose so." he said, standing from his seat and gesturing for Molly to sit. "Farewell Weasley's, Lupin's, Black, Granger and Potter!" he called, waving his hand.

A mixture of farewells rang back, and then Arthur Weasley was gone. 

Harry stood from his place at the table as well, "I'm going to my room everyone, so if anybody needs me, you know where I am," he said, hiding a yawn behind his hand and blowing Molly a kiss as she bustled around to grab his dirty crockery. Molly smiled fondly and shook her head as if to say, 'Oh, you!'

"We'll come and join you." said Hermione, standing swiftly from her seat and pushing it back in before Ron could object. Not that he would, he's very much missed his best friend, mind you. 

Harry shrugged and began to lead the way, unaware that he was going to be suffering through what would feel like an interrogation in under fifteen minutes.

But Ron knew, and he sent a small wide eyed look Harry’s way before Hermione could catch him. It was just Harry’s luck that he was looking the wrong way.

-oOoOoOoOo-

"So, what happened yesterday at Gringott's, Harry?" asked Hermione casually, eyeing her silent friend warily and at least attempting to moderate her tone. She knew what would happen if she stepped over some invisible boundary. 

Harry stoked the fire with an iron poker and began rocking slowly in his new favorite chair, "I accepted the Potter ring and responsibilities of being Head of House and asked a few questions, nothing more exciting than that." he sighed out, almost getting lost in the warmth of the fire and homey feeling of the room.

Ron gazed apologetically at his best mate from his place on Harry’s bed, his legs crossed comfortably and leaning back on his forearms. He couldn't imagine being the Head of a House that was all but empty, and just imagining the responsibilities Harry will have to put up with ..? He shuddered lightly. Dinner parties, social gatherings and polite chit chat with all the other Heads of Houses. That included the Malfoy's. He shuddered again. Poor Harry will have to deal with the lot of them, all crawling up his arse because he defeated Voldemort and has a higher standing in life.

"Harry, what really happened yesterday at Gringott's?" asked Hermione quietly. Ron glanced at his girlfriend warily, not knowing how far she was willing to take questioning Harry to and wondering if she'd actually try and supportive. She was currently standing in front of the large bookshelf, her hands brushing the spines of the large tomes wistfully and almost hungrily. 

"I hope you asked about your creature inheritance, we can't help you if we don't know what you are," she said, her tone coming out softer than usual and taking the usual force from her words. Ron relaxed slightly, relieved that Hermione was really taking what they'd talked about last night to heart.

Harry frowned to himself, wondering if she was trying a new tactic to try and wheedle the information out of him, "Of course I asked, 'Mione, it was one of the first questions I asked him." he said, the frown growing on his face. 

"Can we know what you are then? I've been going crazy trying to think of the possible creature's you could be, but all I've come up with are either illogical or have no shared characteristic's with you at all. It's okay if you don't tell us, I won't force you -" she stopped herself from rambling by biting on her tongue, and turned from the bookcase to watch her best friend mull over what she'd said, cautiously.

"I want to tell you guys what I am, but you have to keep in mind that this is all new to me as well, I understand my inheritance just as much as you do," he said, glancing at Hermione and Ron, "I need to write down all of my changes and send it to the Ministry, so maybe you could write it all down Hermione? Seeing as you have the neatest writing." 

Ron somehow looked taken aback and outraged at the same time, it made an odd expression on his face, "Why does the bloody Ministry need to know what you look like? Isn't that invasion of privacy or something?" he asked, dumbstruck. He also looked slightly pleased. Harry reckoned that it was because it was the first time Ron had ever said 'invasion' and 'privacy' in the same sentence. 

Hermione sighed impatiently, and narrowed her eyes at her boyfriend and Harry was reminded of the conversation he'd had with Ginny the first night here, about the two in front of him fighting like cat's and dogs. "Honestly Ronald, don't you ever read? According to 'A Wizard's Creature Inheritance', any witch or wizard who inherits the creature blood of their family have to immediately report their changes to the Ministry, the Ministry will then tell them what restrictions apply to them and catalog them as a creature for future reference." she said factually. Harry knew that that was the very condensed version of what she really wanted to say, and decided not to speak lest she actually lecture them both about it.

Ron's mouth dropped into a small 'o' and he nodded, "Oh! So it's like the Animagi and werewolves! That's bad luck mate, I would've liked to surprise everyone." he said to Harry, his face sympathetic.

Hermione went to pinch her nose in a very Snape-like manner, but stopped herself and shook her head instead, "Kind of, Ronald. With Animagi, no one really knows that they're actually training to be one until they inform the Ministry of what animal they are, a great example of this would be Padfoot, Prongs and .." she paused, risking a glance at Harry, before clearing her throat and continuing. "The Ministry know that Harry has changed, so he has no choice but to send in his changes and report in what creature he is. Much like a werewolf, only they can still hide what they are and can choose to report in what they are if they wish to." she finished, briskly moving to sit on the bed beside Ron, where she cuddled into his side.

"Still, I reckon it's bad luck," said Ron, resting his cheek on the top of Hermione's head and sliding an arms around her shoulders. "I wouldn't want to tell everybody what I am, specially because the slimy toads would know my every weakness." he said, kissing her forehead. Hermione remained silent in his arms, just cuddling him and watching Harry rock in the firelight. She'd had her small rant, and was content to now sit back and watch, until Harry was ready for her to begin writing.

"I don't think that that's possible," said Harry into the comfortable silence, glancing at Ron with a smirk. Ron's eyebrows just up in surprise but Hermione merely smiled as if to say 'Go on'. The smirk on Harry's face soon turned sheepish, "as it turns out, I'm something that hasn't been seen or heard of for over thousands of years, there's barely any mention of my culture in even the oldest of history books. I'm distantly related to the Unseelie, I think."

Hermione's eyes widened and she sat up properly, much to the disappointment of Ron, and conjured a parchment and quill with the quill already inked. "Alright, I'm ready. What are you?" she asked eagerly, her quill poised to write. She rolled her eyes when Ron groaned in disappointment beside him.

"There's many names for what I am," said Harry, watching Hermione's eyes bulge in excitement with a small wince that wasn't noticed, "the latest, which were given over a thousand years ago, were Florenthia, Amnestria, Nelloren, and Valerian ... there're others but I can't think of them off the top of my head," he said, smiling sheepishly.

Hermione hurriedly scrawled the names down, stopping only to glare at Ron when it looked like he was about to ruin all of her hard work by moving on the bed. He held his hands up in surrender and stayed as still as possible, looking between the side of Hermione's head to Harry with wide eyes. "What the hell?" he mouthed to Harry, gesturing to his girlfriend.

Harry shrugged his shoulders helplessly at his best friend, "I don't know," he mouthed back. And he didn't, well, not really anyway. Hermione was liable to take absolutely everything as a challenge, and the fact that he was an unknown creature that had passed out of existence over an extensive amount of time was more than a treat and challenge for her. 

"Right," said Hermione suddenly, biting her lip and leaning back from her parchment. "Well, I can't say that I recognize any of those names, I've never come across any of them even in the Hogwarts library. What do you want to go by when we send this in?" she asked Harry, poising her quill over the parchment again and looking at him expectantly.

"I think I'll go by Valerian," he replied thoughtfully, pulling the long waterfall of hair over his shoulder and playing with the thick inky black tendrils of hair.

"It's so weird seeing you with long hair, mate," said Ron, watching his friend stroke his hair. He choked on a gasp of air when a small but very hard elbow jerked into his ribs, "A good weird!" he corrected, wincing and rubbing at the sore spot on his ribs sulkily.

Harry chuckled at Hermione's reprimanding stare and grinned at Ron's sulky frown, "I know, sometimes I can hardly believe that it's actually mine as well, but I'll get used to it eventually."

Hermione didn't so much as glance at him as she was still too busy writing on the parchment, "Why don't you cut it?" she asked absently.

"I've already tried, I get a horrible reaction, my nose starts to bleed, I start vomiting and I lose feeling in my legs," answered Harry just as absently, remembering that horrible time in the bathroom at the Dursley's with a shudder. He'd never do that again, not for as long as he lives. 

"Has anyone else tried to cut it?" she asked, still scratching at the parchment, but casting him worried glances every so often.

"No, why?" he asked warily. If she's suggesting what I think she's suggesting ... he thought. There was no way, come Hell or high tides, that Hermione was going anywhere near his hair with a pair of scissors. She could get stuffed, he reckoned.

"I was just thinking that maybe your hair has a defense mechanism, seeing as you immediately fell ill when you cut it. I think that maybe, if someone else tried to cut it or stab you in the back, your hair would stop it." she mused, putting down her quill distractedly, her face pensive.

"You better finish writing that letter, or else I won't let you come anywhere near my hair," Harry threatened, half serious. Hermione rolled her eyes but picked the quill back up and began to scratch at the parchment again, glancing up at Harry and looking as if she was mentally comparing his old figure to his new one. He wasn't really paying attention to what she was doing, he was too busy thinking about the possibilities that his hair could provide.

Although he didn't like the idea of Hermione or someone else cutting his hair, Harry did have to admit that the theory had merit, and maybe some day in the future, it might save his life. Harry slid from the seat and walked into the connecting bathroom, searching through the drawers for a pair of scissors he knew Padfoot would have put in here, seeing as he liked the idea of Harry having absolutely everything he could have possibly wanted. All too soon, he was holding a -yet another expensive thing- pair of scissors. 

"Alright," he said, sticking his head out of the bathroom to see his friends, "I don't wanna mess my room up with blood, so we'll do it in here." 

Hermione nodded and jumped off of the bed, leaving behind a pale Ron. She glanced back at him and opened her mouth to say something, but seemed to find it unnecessary and waved him off, ignoring him as she trekked to the bathroom. Ron looked thankful for it, as he immediately went limp against the bed covers and closed his eyes. He looked a little sick, to Harry.

"You alright, Ron?" he called, leaning against the doorway to the bathroom and watching his best mate carefully for signs of throwing up. 

Ron lifted a hand shakily and waved him off, remaining silent for fear of vomiting. Harry winced sympathetically, his heart going out to his best mate. "You just stay there, okay mate? Just relax and breathe, ay?" he said, slipping back into the bathroom before Ron answered. If he could have, anyway. 

Hermione was lifting the lid of the toilet when he looked for her, and quickly joined her, anxious to get this over with. He bit his bottom lip when Hermione held her hand out for the scissors.

"Come on," she said excitedly, hardly caring that this would most likely emotionally scar Harry for life. "give me the scissors and get on your knees." 

Harry almost laughed, but complied anyway and knelt in front of the toilet bowl, his head angled towards it. He felt her small hands gather all of his hair at the back of his head and winced when he heard the small snip, snip, snip of the scissors. He knew that Hermione was teasing him, and he most certainly didn't appreciate it.

"Are cutting or not?" he asked impatiently, feeling nothing but her hands tightening on his hair.

"I am!" panted Hermione, grunting. 

Harry let out a small hiss of pain when his head was suddenly jerked back. There was a loud thump and his hair was let loose, for which he was grateful for. He turned around with a small glare and opened his mouth to give Hermione a tongue lashing, when he noticed that she was sitting in a hunch on the ground and panting. He blinked at the once expensive and intact scissors, "My hair did that?" he asked blankly.

Hermione got enough air back in her lungs to giggle, "Couldn't you feel it trying to cut your hair off?" she asked.

"No, all I felt was a tiny hand yanking and squeezing," he said pointedly, giving her a small forced glare that only got the reply of more giggles.

"Everything alright in there?" came a muffled voice at the door. "No blood or vomit?"

"No, Ronald, everything's fine!" Hermione replied, the smile on her face widening on her face until it became an unnatural smirk that boded no good for Harry. "We just broke the scissor's!"

The door burst open.

-oOoOoOoOo-

It was almost eleven o'clock in the evening, and Harry was still in the kitchen sipping on his pumpkin juice. Lunch after the whole 'hair' incident had been amazing and dinner had been even better, with Arthur regaling them all with a funny story about some poor Obliviator accidentally Obliviating himself in a Muggle town. 

Mrs Weasley had been so cheery then, she seemed to hang around Harry the most out of her children, always petting him and pecking his head with loving kisses. He'd been accepting of it then, but now he was pondering over the reasons as to why she had done it. 

"Can't sleep?" asked a sympathetic voice.

"Not really," answered Harry, turning to give a small smile at the newcomer, which turned out to be three. "I can't get what happened at dinner out of my mind." he said to the three, getting up to grab them tea.

"Arthur's story?" asked Remus, slightly confused but thankful as Harry set down a tea cup in front of him and set to boiling the kettle.

"No, I was just wondering why Mrs Weasley was paying me the most attention," he said, biting his bottom lip. Harry took the kettle off of the cooker before it could start whistling too loudly and set to pouring, "it just seemed odd." 

Sirius nodded faintly and prepared his tea, glancing at Tonks and Remus every few moments. Harry pretended not to notice and carried on sipping at his pumpkin juice, but the more he ignored the looks, the more tense the atmosphere became. He set his cup down with a sigh, "What's going on?" 

"I'm not sure I know what you mean -" began Remus softly, setting his tea cup down and reaching for his wife's hand.

Harry frowned deeply at him, his gaze turning heavy on the aged werewolf, "Don't lie to me, I know something's going on. I could feel it back at the Dursley's and I can feel it now. It's about the escaped Death Eater's, isn't it?" he asked, looking them all in the eye.

Sirius was the first to nod, but the last to smile. "Bad things have been going on while you've been at your aunt's, Harry, the remaining Death Eater's are on the move and have been killing at will, the Obliviator's have been hard pressed to get to the Muggle witnesses on time, but few have been able to get away. Each sighting of the Death Eater's are getting closer and closer to Hogsmeade, where a few of the residents have been complaining of howling." he said quietly.

"Greyback's army is still at large?" asked Harry in shock, "But I thought the Auror's had been capturing them -"

"The Minister has every available Auror scouting the streets, watching and waiting to see if a Death Eater will show up." said Tonks, her voice heavy with disdain. "If I hadn't been pregnant, I'd have been forced to be out there too. Lucky for us that Dumbledore's been talking to Fudge."

"But he hasn't been getting through to him," said Remus, voice soft but disgusted. "Fudge is a foolish man who will get us all killed, even if Voldemort is gone, Bellatrix and Fenrir are out there and doing his work for him."

"But what about the other werewolves? Umbridge?" asked Harry quietly, observing the way Remus tensed slightly, as if he'd been caught.

"What about them?" asked Tonks, confused at why her husband was tensing all of a sudden.

"Although Umbridge should have been thrown and locked up in Azkaban with the worst of them, Fudge has allowed her to stay at his side as his adviser. He doesn't believe that she actually punished you with that Black Quill." sneered Sirius, clenching his hands into fists. 

Harry looked down at the back of his right hand, tracing the words written there with his eyes. I must not tell lies. "Fudge doesn't believe in anything other than ignorance," he said tightly, his right hand curling up into a fist, "he's going to get us all killed with the way he's acting, what was he thinking allowing that woman to -" he cut himself off, the air feeling tight in his lungs. 

"Harry?" asked Sirius. "Harry, are you alright?" 

Harry blinked and focused on Remus, who became suddenly shifty, "She's convincing Fudge that every werewolf is one of Greyback's, that they're all evil," he said, his tone flat.

Remus inclined his head. "Yes," he said quietly, "Albus has been hard pressed to convince him that I at least, am firmly on the side of the light."

"But it's not working, is it?" asked Harry tensely, knots of stress beginning to form in his temples.

Remus shook his head faintly, "Delores remains firm in her belief that all creatures are below even that of the Muggleborn population, and Fudge had taken to adopting her way of thinking."

"So they're just going to run us all into the ground?" asked Harry in disgust, his thoughts tossing and turning at their highest speed, trying to figure out a way to solve this problem. He couldn't just let this one go by without at least attempting to help, not when Remus' safety was hanging on the line. But then, Remus would remain safe, nothing like this happens in Remus' future. 

"This is where you come in, Harry," said Sirius gruffly, his deep voice bringing Harry out of his thoughts. "Fudge believes that you can handle all of this as easily as you did when battling Voldemort."

Harry gaped at Sirius then, "How the hell does he figure that?! I bloody died and came back to life when I dueled Tom! I can't just waltz into a Death Eater's lair or wherever the bloody idiots are and expect them to do anything the way Voldemort did! As soon as they see my face they're all going to attack and kill me, Tom wanted to at least wait and make me listen to my parents death before killing me. If he's crazy enough to think that I can kill again then he's crazier than I thought he was, he can go get fuc --!" 

"Harry," interrupted Remus calmly, reaching across the table to grab Harry's hand soothingly. "I don't think that he'll make you sacrifice yourself over a couple of Death Eater's, you've sacrificed too much already. I believe that this job is better reserved for someone with -"

"More experience?" interrupted Harry, his face taking on a harsher edge when Remus looked away from him, "Remus, I hardly think that there is anyone else out there that has more experience with this than myself, aside from you few who've killed and battled other well known Death Eater's."

"Harry, I just want you safe and whole, killing isn't the sort of lifestyle that Lily and James wanted for you to have." Remus said quietly, pleading with Harry with his eyes to understand.

"Neither of us want you to have to kill again," added Sirius, watching his Godson sadly.

"Well I'm not gonna have a choice, now am I?" Harry asked rhetorically, pulling his hand from Remus' so he could drop his head into the both of them. He didn't want to kill again, he'd already done his fair share. Flashes of dismembered werewolves and screaming Death Eater's filled his mind, and he fought fiercely to remove the images.

"Pup, I think it's time we had that talk from earlier." said Sirius, his deep voice helping Harry to ground himself in his mind. Harry smiled wearily up at Sirius and nodded faintly, allowing his head to rest on the cool table. 

"Perhaps we should get to bed, it has been a long day." suggested Remus to Tonks quietly, moving to stand.

"No, this concerns the both of you as well." said Sirius, not unkindly.

Aside from a suspicious glance thrown his way by the two Lupin's, Sirius managed a smile, "Now then, Remus have you had any luck in finding that house Harry told you about?" he asked.

Remus frowned and shook his head, his face showing his disappointment, "No such luck yet, Padfoot. Why do you ask?" he asked, beginning to sound as suspicious as he looks.

A familiar thought niggled at the back of Harry's mind, wriggling and dancing around his efforts to discover what it was. When it hit him. Of course! "Remus, I think I know who's family the crest belongs to," he said, excited that he finally knew what had been eluding him for what felt like ages.

Hope spread across Remus and Tonks' faces and Remus leaned forward, "You do? Who?" he breathed excitedly. Harry watched as Remus and Tonks grabbed at each others hands.

"Mine!" said Harry, and he enjoyed the identical looks of shock and joy that spread across Remus and Tonks' faces, "I have the keys to it, we just need to find it and the house." he said happily, and then his face fell when he realized what he just said, and just how many houses and keys there were. This was not going to be easy. 

However, the same realization hadn't come to Remus or Tonks, as they were both still yipping their joy and happiness, their arms wrapped tightly around each other. Though Remus was still being careful not to squeeze around Tonks' middle. 

Sirius caught Harry's gaze and exaggeratedly rolled his eyes, "Do you think you could go an find me a stick, Harry? We need to pry these two apart before they break something." he said.

Harry laughed, "You just wait, someday when you're doing the same thing with your wife, Remus and Tonks are going to be doing the exact same thing that you're doing!" 

"So what did you want to talk about before?" asked Remus, finally pulling away from his wife and mate far enough to turn to the two sitting across from them.

Sirius inclined his head towards Harry, "When Harry saw your future at that house, Remus, he didn't say much about himself, did he?"

Remus looked at Harry then, his eyes narrowing in confusion, "No, I suppose he didn't. But that could have been because he didn't want to give too much away."

Harry bit his bottom lip -something he found himself doing a lot lately-, "It's because I wasn't there." he said quietly.

Remus looked taken aback, "Of course you were, you saw us didn't you?" 

Harry inclined his head, "Well yes, but I wasn't there, I saw you all from a distance." 

"I don't understand," said Tonks quietly, her eyes flicking back and forth between Harry, Sirius and Remus, before settling on Harry, "are you saying that you stay here? With Sirius?" she asked.

Harry again inclined his head, "I chose to live here, and I understand why too. I didn't want to disrupt your family life, I didn't to burden you all with having to see me, a relic of a past that should be best forgotten. So I stayed here with Sirius, and we ended up being a close-knit family." he said softly, smiling up at Sirius when his shoulder was nudged.

Remus looked devastated, but understanding all the same, "I hope you know that you're not a relic, or a burden, Harry. You're one of the strongest people I know and you deserve so much goodness and love in your life, I can't even begin to tell you .." he trailed off, tears beginning to appear in his eyes.

"Don't - don't cry, Remus," Harry whispered, his hand reaching across the table to clutch at Remus' calloused and scarred one, "you shouldn't cry on such a happy occasion." he said softly.

"Besides," he said then, brightening up slightly and beginning to grin, "we still have to find the key to your house tomorrow!" The key that's hidden with hundreds of other keys that all probably look the same, he thought despairingly. However large and bright the grin was on his face, the feeling of despair was heavy in his stomach and the beginning throbs of a headache were already starting in his temples.

Harry planned to do many things tomorrow, it seemed, and brewing headache potions was definitely one of them. 

Many, many headache potions.

Chapter Text

6. Busy Day.

 

The day was only half over, and yet Harry was about ready to call it a night. He was sore and aching all over from having to run around everywhere, his legs and back were the worst. He knew he should have stopped and called it a day at the tenth house they'd found and visited -or, he did, anyway-, but the eager and excited faces of Remus and Tonks had pushed him on and he'd gone on without complaint. He really, really regretted that decision right about now.

He fell forward onto his bed, his face planting itself into one of the soft cushy pillows and his body sinking into the spongy supportive mattress. He truly did ache all over, every muscle was twitching and his joints felt alive with a deadly hot fire. He groaned, allowing the mattress to soak up his pain and comfort his weary body. He'd done too much today, especially with his new body.

They had gone through every single bloody key in that box, every single one of them. Brass keys, silver keys, keys that had odd looking teeth and keys that had no teeth at all. It had been a nightmare; it had been even worse than those flying keys in first year, because at least then he'd known which key at first sight. He didn't think that he could ever look at a key again, at least, not without remembering this day.

Speaking of, not only did he have to run around with Tonks and Remus -who Harry had found out, couldn't see any of the houses they'd gone to, but had relied on Harry to find the proper house for them-, he'd also had to brew the normal potions that the snarky Potions Master usually made. As it turned out, when they'd been travelling, Snape had floo called Sirius -despite hating each other, Sirius had tolerated him for that moment- and began banging on about being too busy with his own Godson to worry about some pathetic wolf who needed some medication.

Why they turned to him, Harry would never know, but turn to him they did and brew potions he had. Headache potions, dreamless sleep potions, calming draughts, anti-nausea potions, healing potions -which included salves and creams-, and even Remus' Wolfsbane potion -which only qualified Potions Masters made, because one needed a hell of a lot of skill to brew such a complicated potion-. But Harry had done it, and with a remarkable flair that he hadn't had before. 

The Wolfsbane potion had been a challenge, but he managed to create a perfect concoction at the end of his brewing session. He surprised himself, as well as the others, when he had showed them the new fully stocked potions crates full of perfect remedies worthy of the finest Potions Master. Hermione had been absolutely raving mad for the past hour about it, ranting and snapping at whoever was listening to her. Which was poor Ronald Weasley, her slightly unlucky boyfriend.

The only downside to the brewing of potions it seemed, was the disgusting smell left over from it, and the way that it clung to every stitch of clothing and no matter how many cleaning spells you used, it didn't work. His hands smelt worse than dragon dung, and that was because of the disgusting Boomslang scales. He absolutely reeked of potions. Thankfully, his hair had remained untouched and as perfect as ever, glistening under any light and as smooth as silk.

Though that wasn't nearly half of the things he'd done today. He'd gone back to the Dursley's for the final time, to collect his last possessions there, hidden under the loose floorboard under his bed. Uncle Vernon had been long gone when they'd arrived, as if he had suspected that Harry might turn up at any given moment. But Dudley and aunt Petunia were there, and they were both crying. Aunt Petunia more so because she had missed the opportunity of a life-time to get to know her only living relative, and Dudley because he was still apologetic about abusing Harry all of his life. 

Especially after he'd been told about just how Harry had came to be at the Dursley's in the first place.

"I - I'm so - sorry!" he'd blubbered noisily, allowing aunt Petunia to cradle his large frame with her thin arms, and dab a slightly damp handkerchief at the tears rolling down his red cheeks. "I never - kn - knew you were a hero!" he'd sniffled loudly, as his nose had leaked a string of clear ooze that aunt Petunia had almost immediately caught with her handkerchief.

Harry had been feeling awkward at that time, as he'd folded his arms behind his back and nodded slightly at Dudley, giving the older boy a small smile that had seemed to quieten his tears and pathetic noises. Looking back now, it seemed that it had calmed Dudley, and not his aunt's excessive swaddling that could make even a baby sick. 

Harry had had Remus and Bill go up ahead of him, just so they wouldn't catch him giving something them something that was supposedly illegal. He'd taken them into the kitchen and sat them at the table, ignoring how the kitchen looked slightly dirtier than the last time he'd been here, and looked them at them both a little awkwardly, "I don't know what to say to either of you, because I never thought that I'd live to see the day that we could say goodbye to each other," he'd confessed, again ignoring the way Dudley flinched and the fact that aunt Petunia was beginning to cry again, "It wasn't exactly my plan to come back here when I knew you'd both be here, but I reckoned that you both deserved more than that, so I guess all I can say is, thank you," he'd said.

Aunt Petunia had burst into tears at hearing what Harry had really planned to do, and had mopped her tears viciously with the dirty handkerchief, regardless of her sons snot. "Oh Harry," she'd said thickly, looking at him through a painfully tearful gaze. "you've no reason to thank us. We've done nothing to earn it. I'm so sorry we haven't been the family that you deserved," she'd said, swallowing loudly. "you're welcome here anytime you like, no matter what, this house is open to you." 

Dudley had nodded his agreement, apparently more than okay with the idea of Harry coming to visit them. 

"Thanks, I appreciate that," Harry had said gratefully, before slowing down and beginning to become more serious, "I wanted to give you both something, as an added protection if the wards failed," he'd said slowly, and watched as the blood had drained from his relatives faces. 

Aunt Petunia had been the first to speak, but she had seemed terrified, "What is it?" she'd asked in a quivering voice, leaning forward. Dudley seemed to shrink in on himself, obviously thinking that it was something bad that Harry wanted to give to them.

Harry had reached into his pocket almost immediately, and withdrew two necklaces. They were made of a strong but light silver and with the purpose to blend in, but they had small intricate and unbreakable vials hanging from them, the real reason he had fretted so much. They were filled with his blood, it was close to a blood bond, one of the most sacred of bonds. 

Aunt Petunia and Dudley had looked horrified at the thought of carrying around his blood with them, but he'd assured them that it was the safest thing out there, and would be fine to wear. Harry had reasoned with them that when he left he wouldn't be returning for long periods of time, which meant that without his blood, the wards would fail and fade away. The blood that the vials held would be able to satisfy the terms of the wards for when he left, keeping them safe. They hadn't protested after that.

Harry sighed into the comfortable mattress, spreading his legs and arms out and wringing out the tired muscles. He moaned in relief and satisfaction when his bones clicked and his joints popped. He could almost feel the tension in his body fading into the bed. 

The final straw that broke the camels back, came after he'd finished lunch and was stiffly hobbling upstairs towards his bedroom. Remus and Tonks had left him pretty much alone at lunch when they'd gotten back, not wanting to 'pester' Harry after everything he'd done for them. They'd been that way since they'd left the final house, which -with a stroke of luck- turned out to be the house in Harry's vision. 

It was in good timing too, as Harry had gotten just about fed up with the house-elves bombarding him in each house with squeals of "The Master is finally home!" at every turn. Each house-elf, of course, had a different personality, but all their reactions had been the same. "Food for Master Potter!" It was not amusing when he left each house with pockets absolutely overflowing with food. So much that he left a trail of crumbs for some ducks to follow. 

It had taken absolutely everything in him not to hex the crap out of Tonks and Remus, they'd both tried to hide their laughter by smothering their faces with their hands, but Harry had heard them. Especially when Tonks snorted.

So, it was with a bone-tired Harry, that Sirius had braved. 

"Harry," Sirius had said, bouncing up each step with an energy that only made Harry more tired, "I hope you don't mind, but I need to talk to you." 

"Padfoot, I'm really tired," Harry had nearly whined, slumping with each upward step, "can't this wait until tomorrow? When I can properly see you?" 

"I know you're tired, Harry, but this is important," Sirius had replied sympathetically, offering his arm to help Harry up the stairs that seemed to go one forever. When Harry had reluctantly allowed Sirius to support him, Sirius had grinned rather toothily down at him, "Dumbledore floo called us from the Ministry." he'd said, as if it had explained absolutely everything.

"Sirius, I'm tired," Harry had said, yawning as if to point out the obvious, "can't you spare me your large vocabulary just this once, and use small simple words?" 

When they'd gotten to Harry's room, Sirius hadn't led him towards the bed like he'd hoped, and instead plonked him down in the rocking chair before the fireplace. Harry had had to watch Sirius pace in front of him for nearly five minutes, and he'd begun to feel drowsier and drowsier, so much that his eyes had actually shut.

"Harry, wake up," Sirius had said, smacking his fingers as gently as he could into Harry slackened jaw. 

Grumpier than ever, Harry had glared at his Godfather, too tired to deal with his antics, "What?"

Sirius had frowned at him, "I know you're tired, but you must listen Harry, this is important that you do." 

"Sorry, I'm listening." Harry had replied quietly.

Sirius had nodded resolutely, "Dumbledore has informed us that you have to return to Hogwarts early, by order of the Ministry," Harry had gone to interrupt then, slightly outraged, but Sirius had been set in making Harry listen, "it's against the law to invite an unknown creature or being into a place inhabited by underage persons, without first conducting tests that prove that the said creature or being is capable of controlling themselves. There will be others, don't worry about that."

"But I'm no danger at all!" Harry had protested, "It's in my blood to protect people, not harm them!"

"The Ministry doesn't see it that way," Sirius had answered, giving Harry an odd look, "and what do you mean, 'it's in my blood to protect people'? Surely you don't think you have to save everyone."

Harry had rolled his eyes and slumped into the comfortable seat, allowing it to rock him gently, "A Valerian is a guardian, a protector of all things, big and small. When I say that protecting people is in my blood, I literally mean that it's in my blood."

Sirius had looked stumped for a moment, "So what happened between you and Remus ...?" 

Harry had nodded, looking into the roaring fire, "Yes, I was protecting Tonks."

Sirius had remained stunned for a few moments after that, simply pacing back and forth and every so often glancing at Harry from the corner of his eye. At last, "So if one of Greyback's werewolves tried to attack me or anyone else -" 

"I would kill the werewolf," Harry had answered immediately, even before Sirius had finished asking the question, "I have no qualms with killing something that threatens my family or friends. Or anyone in general really." 

"But I think that you've gotten side-tracked, Padfoot." Harry had added, looking at the bed pointedly.

Sirius had rolled his eyes then, "Even though you've brewed only a few potions today, you still act like the dungeon bat," he'd said, and then continued quickly when Harry glared at him balefully, "Dumbledore has invited you to attend these tests - well, test really, because there's only one test. And it'll be easy, all you have to do is allow the castle's magic to test yours, to see if it's compatible enough to sustain you." 

Harry had hesitated, uncertain why Sirius began to look sheepish, "I have a feeling that you're not telling me everything." he'd said slowly. It had taken Sirius a long time to answer him, but when he had finally spoken, Harry couldn't even name what he felt.

"If there's more than five other creatures or beings there, then you'll all have to share a dorm with each other." Sirius had said, looking anywhere but Harry. It really did grind Harry's nerves when Sirius did that, it usually meant that he felt pity for someone.

"What do you mean, we'll have to share a dorm." Harry had asked in a calm voice. It had been carefully pitched, just to lure Sirius into a sense of false security that Harry wasn't actually angry. But he was, he'd been extremely angry. Why should he have to room with others? Especially as they were probably far different than himself and therefore, a danger?

Harry shivered at the remembered feeling of that moment, almost as if the room had an imprint of that emotion just for him and was reminding him of that dark feeling. The answer to his question was vague, but had unsurprisingly answered a lot.

"If there are more than five creatures that the castle declares compatible, you'll all have to share a dorm. I mean just that." Sirius had said quietly, giving Harry something similar to pity, but not quite it. He'd placed an apologetic kiss on Harry's forehead, before leaving the room entirely as if he were chased from it. Harry hadn't minded though, he was still stuck on the latest problem.

So not only did he have go to Hogwarts earlier than everyone else, but he could be attacked by other creatures or beings there as well -not to mention the castle itself-, as he still didn't know what natural enemies he had. He didn't really know what to feel other than anger. He'd always been singled out for things he couldn't control and bullied for always doing something someone else perceived as wrong.

He was over it all, he just couldn't be bothered with it. And as Harry laid on his bed, limbs spread out in a star shape, he knew that he was going to have a tough time at school. But at least he still has his friends, that's all the good that he could think of. 

That's all.

Chapter Text

7. Bollocks. 

Scream after agonized scream rang from the end of the darkening hall, swirling around in his stomach, stabbing, slicing and tearing with their sharp icy claws. He shuddered for the first time, all at once feeling the fear that emanated from the blood-spattered and spell damaged walls around him. Such fear, almost crushing in its weight.

He clutched at the bloody sword, aiming its sharp tip in the direction of the screams as if it could ward away the fear. He knew that Voldemort was waiting for him, he could feel it in his burning scar; the pleasure, the satisfaction, the anticipation, the want.

This was all a bad idea, he shouldn't have come here, he wasn't ready for this, he knew Voldemort's mind like the back of his hand; manipulation was key. But it hadn't stopped him, he couldn't risk anyone else dying for him, he was over all the death and destruction that all centered around him, all of that which Voldemort had put there. He needed to end this, once and for all.

He followed the trail of blood, his buzzing wand emitting a soft light in his left hand and his blood-covered sword standing guard as his protection in his right. He tried to ignore the devastation laying before and around him, but the light of his wand seemed to reach every dark corner. Exposing just how dark the man he was about to defeat, really was.

There were mangled corpses lying in bloody puddles strewn across the hallway floor, some had oddly large pieces of debris crushing their limbs, their arms or legs were sticking out in odd angles, mostly away from the body, while others were covered in wounds varying sizes, lacerations from the claws and teeth of werewolves or cutting spells. Some even had scorch marks still emitting wisps of smoke that curled in large coils and disappeared into the air, leaving behind only the foul smell of burnt flesh. The worst were the ones with blank faces, with dying wands still clutched tightly in their hands and their eyes staring unseeingly ahead of them.

It seemed that they had been the unlucky recipient of Voldemort's favorite curse, the one that had failed on him but succeeded on everyone else.

"Potter. So you finally join us here on this momentous occasion,” sneered a cold, high pitched voice in the room at the end of the hallway.

Harry entered the large dome room slowly, cautiously avoiding fallen bits of debris from the walls around him, all the while keeping his eyes on the snake-like face not fifty feet from him. He wouldn't – couldn't give Tom an opening, not again.

"You kept me waiting," said Voldemort, a cruel smile curling his ugly thin lips into waved lines that looked more like twisted wire. "I'm not a man of patience, Potter -"

"You're no man at all, Tom. You're a snake!" Harry hissed, moving until he was standing in front of a wall, to make sure that his back was covered. His forehead creased when he noticed the piles of dead bodies lining the walls and floor, most were fresh and still twitching. He saw a tense and shaking young woman by Voldemort's feet, she wore Ministry robes and looked to have been at least in her late twenties. She gasped raggedly and gave a choked sound, looking as if she was desperately trying to tell him something, but then fell limp against the ground, blood pooling from her twitching mouth in one long stream and her eyes quickly died and lost their spark.

S he would be the last to fall before Voldemort's wand, Harry would make sure.

"A snake, you say?" asked Voldemort in Parseltongue, amusement and darkness in his voice as he ignored the dead girl to his right in favor of Harry. Harry had seen his eyes flash a brilliant red when he'd spoken his given name, but it was gone almost as soon as it came. "My, my, such a compliment, Potter. Unfortunately, flattery will get you nowhere, surely you know this by now? I was certain that seeing your mother and father pleading and begging for their pathetic little lives -"

"Enough!" Harry snarled back, flicking his wand in a vicious manner and shooting a cutting curse at Voldemort's head. It was deflected, but barely, and Harry felt a brief spark of delight in seeing the look of shock on Voldemort's face. Harry glared hatefully at the thing in front of him, a freezing smirk curling his lips back from his teeth in a threatening manner. He would defeat him.

Voldemort hissed, a low sound that echoed in the near silent room and encased them in a malevolent haze. "You foolish boy! You think you can defeat me, Lord Voldemort, with these silly little tricks?! Pathetic!" he snarled, outraged at the mere thought of being bested by something so humdrum. Harry deflected Voldemort's curse with barely a thought, shooting his own in between.

They fought for what seemed like hours but what was merely minutes, spitting and hissing curses at each other and slowly building up the list of wounds. Each seeming more deadlier than the previous one.

Harry growled -and almost screamed- loudly when one of Voldemort's unknown spells hit his shoulder, and had barely been able to bring up a shield for the next one. It hurt like hell to move his shoulder, but he managed to push through the pain long enough to say his next spell, one he knew that Voldemort had no clue of.

"Sectumsempra!"

Harry woke with a fierce jolt, the bones in his body jumping upwards with panic. It was like that time he fell from his broom nearly three-hundred feet from the ground, the exact moment when he stopped moving up and merely floated in mid-air for what felt like forever, and then suddenly began pelting downwards towards the ground, his stomach far up above his head and every bone in his body reaching skyward. 

His heart raced in his chest, and beat loudly in the thick silence, almost sounding like a hammer slamming into a nail. It was just a dream, he assured himself, rolling onto his side and huddling into a small ball, arms tucked around the knees that were pinned to his chest, to soothe himself by rocking. Just a dream.

But it wasn't just a dream, it was a memory, complete with the exact feelings and thoughts of that time. Of all the times for his adrenaline to capture everything in detail, it just had to have been the moment where he'd defeated Voldemort. He'd hoped that everything would be fuzzy, as it had been exactly after the twisted man had finally fallen to the ground in a bloody ruin. But it seemed that the fates had wanted him to remember everything clearly, as his hopes had been dashed the night of Voldemort's fall when he'd awoken from the same nightmare.

The room was still bathed in darkness when he calmed down enough to see past his own nose, the dim embers in the fireplace barely casting the light and warmth he needed into the room. He hardly noticed that the fire had jumped to attention and brightened considerably, growing until it was roaring, until he noticed that the sun was just rising. Or it was supposed to be, anyway. 

It seemed that not only was he to be in a foul mood, but so was the weather. 

He'd found that he didn't mind the rain as much as he used to earlier in the summer, when he'd been forced to mow the front lawn when it was absolutely pouring buckets. That had been one of the hard tasks that Dudley wouldn't help him with, regardless if Harry had been injured or not. It seemed to reflect how he was feeling perfectly, almost like he was in his own little world. 

If only everyone else weren't in it as well, then he wouldn't have to live up to anyone's silly expectations. No more Golden Boy, or the Boy-Who-Lived-Thrice, or even Harry Potter, Defeater of the Dark Lord Voldemort. He'd have been Harry, just Harry, a sixteen year old, hot blooded male.

He slowly uncurled from his position, finding that while the bed was comfortable, it didn't make well for someone lying in a ball and rocking, as it absorbed far too much and stopped him from moving backwards if he moved forward. It dipped far too low and felt like it swallowed him whole as well, which wasn't exactly a pleasant thought or experience given his track record.

He wondered about sleeping beside someone, whether the bed would be uncomfortably crowded or too lumpy to become comfortable at all. Would they try and hog the duvet or space? Would they invade his? Would they wrap around him protectively, almost like they were cradling him? Or was it just in books that people did that in their sleep?

Harry shook his head disbelievingly, realizing that he'd just thought about sleeping beside someone else. It's a perfectly normal thing to do, he thought to himself reassuringly, pursing his lips pensively as his heart gave a harsh squeeze and the empty hole in his chest panged hollowly, Too bad I'm not normal, he thought, before sliding out of the slightly messy bed and limping slightly towards the bathroom.

He wanted to wash off the congealed sweat on his body and relax in the shower before he made an appearance downstairs, because no matter how bad he felt, he didn't want to inflict his bad mood on the others. They didn't deserve that. 

-oOoOoOoOo-

"Wotcher, Harry." greeted Tonks, miserably and tiredly, looking downright horrible and sleep deprived as she grimaced in half-disgust down the table at a plate of cooked eggs that was slowly but surely circulating the table. She winced when the plate of eggs made a turn in her direction and rubbed her slightly distended abdomen comfortingly, unconsciously shifting in her seat. 

Harry slouched towards her and sat down beside her with a face just as tired and miserable as her own, and sighed with a frown, "Morning, Tonks. Bad day?" he asked, already knowing the answer as she turned her grimace on him and nodded grimly. Harry gave her a commiserating half-smile, "Yeah, I know the feeling." he said.

And he did, all morning he had felt pained and melancholic, weighed down by some huge invisible world -another one, what a stroke of luck- that seemed to want to crush him into dust. His skin had been itching all morning, especially around his back and forearms, adding annoyance to his list of depressing emotions. Melancholy, sadness, anger, remorse, you name it and he felt it.

And it didn't exactly help his case that his head and teeth ached as well, the day just seemed destined to want to hurt him. 

"I don't see you throwin' up absolutely everythin'." slurred Tonks, looking a little green around the gills as the plate of eggs passed right in front of her. Harry shooed it away from them both when Tonks swallowed loudly and heavily, looking pained. She breathed easier when the plate was further down the table, "I love being pregnant and all, but I certainly didn't miss the severe cases of morning sickness." she said, gaining at least some color back in her cheeks now that the greasy eggs were gone. Although the pained grimace remained.

"I'm just going to liken morning sickness to having an upset stomach, seeing as I don't know what it's like to be pregnant," Harry said, glumly pouring himself a goblet of pumpkin juice and taking a large swig. That was one upside to his day, at least, not having to know the pain of pregnancy. 

Tonks grimaced in his direction and nodded slightly, "It's almost exactly like having an upset stomach, except you don't know when you're going to be doing the throwing up. It's damn right depressing when you're happily sleeping beside your husband, content and having sweet dreams, when wham! You start spewing up vomit like a bloody fountain. I don't know how Remus can stand it." she said distastefully, glowering down at the table and stabbing her fork viciously into the top, so hard that the fork remained standing on its head. Thankfully, she was ignored by everyone around her, even Sirius, who looked almost ready to explode into tears, or screams of anger at his ruined table. 

It was almost hard to tell who was pregnant here.

Harry glanced at her tiredly, offering a small comforting smile, "I'm sure it's not that bad, Tonks. Besides, just think about the future when that precious little girl is born, you won't even remember a single day of morning sickness with those two around." he said, seeing the four Lupin's laughing happily with each other in his mind.

Tonks gave a soft smile despite the sickly look to her skin, "Tell me something, Harry," she said, beginning to look slightly worried, "will Teddy and my baby girl like each other?" 

"Is Snape a git?" Harry countered, a small smirk turning his lips as Tonks laughed gently and turned to peruse the proffered foods with an experienced hungry eye, obviously over her bout of sickness and hungry for food. Pregnant women are so weird, Harry thought, watching as Tonks seemed to adopt a predatory prowl and left her seat in search of the perfect food. 

A small smile curled his lips when a plate of Molly Weasley's family famous food appeared in front of him, piping hot and full of eggs, sausages, bacon and toast. He wasted no time in eating it, but he did savor it; the taste, the feel and the warmth that the prepared food seemed to give off. This was a meal prepared with love. Not exactly what he'd be getting at Hogwarts, that's for sure. 

Hogwarts. Harry sighed quietly, and put down his knife and fork in exchange for the goblet of pumpkin juice. With an upbringing like his own, going to Hogwarts was -and always will be- heaven, a place of warmth and acceptance for him. Not this time, it seemed. However much he loved the castle, he didn't want to be one of the few that had to stay there earlier than the others. It would just be another reason for him to stick out like a sore thumb, Boy-Who-Lived aside -along with the Destroyer of Voldemort-, he had been a normal teenager with a complex history.

But Fate really was a cruel bitch. It just had to make him something exotic and different. Why couldn't it have been Ron or Hermione that was different and special this time? He was sick of being different, sick of the fame, sick of the life of a celebrity, sick of being alone. Sick of being feared.

"Well don't you look like a barrel of sunshine on this great morning." said Ginny humorously, sliding into the seat Tonks had just left with a tired slump to her back. It seemed that the weather had weighed everyone down this morning, or perhaps it was just from lack of sleep.

Harry gave Ginny a small scowl, "While I enjoy your sarcasm, Ginny, today is just not the day for it." he said flatly, turning back to slice and mangle his food with barely any interest.

"Whoa, what happened to you?" asked Ginny, surprised enough to lose any shred of sleepiness at the annoyance in Harry's voice, "It's barely nine o'clock and you're already angry. What's happened?" 

Harry ignored the urge to snap at her, and instead gave her a small apologetic smile, "Sorry, I'm just ..." he paused to ponder what excuse he could give her, finding that whatever he came up with was entirely too much of a lie. He sighed and closed his eyes, "I'm just tired and worn out I guess, I didn't get much sleep last night." he said, sounding as tired as he felt.

Well at least it wasn't that much of a lie, he could have done so much worse.

Ginny frowned lightly at him, staring at him hard as if he were an unsolvable puzzle, before an unnerving knowing gleam made itself known in her bright brown eyes and she took on a look of realization, "It was a nightmare." she said quietly, searching his face avidly as if it held all the signs. She apparently found many, because she immediately laid a comforting hand on his forearm. “Harry, you have to tell someone. These things aren't good for you --”

“I'm fine,” Harry interrupted quietly, laying his own hand over her small soft one, “really, it's nothing bad. Just a few memories. I've survived worse.” he said, squeezing her hand gently before letting go to pick up his knife.

Ginny stared at him, “If you were really fine, you wouldn't be losing sleep.” she said quietly, looking away only to smile and say good morning to a tired Arthur Weasley, who passed behind them.

Harry paused a moment, before shrugging and going back on with his mangled breakfast, which was cold. He wouldn't push it away just because he felt upset, not when he was already so hungry. Even though it didn't taste as good as it did when it was warm.

Ginny's hand disappeared from his arm, and he watched as she poured herself a goblet of pumpkin juice, topping off his own when she took notice of its half-empty state. “I'm not letting this go, Harry.” she said to him quietly, putting his goblet down by his plate.

Harry sighed inaudibly, feeling depressed, “Why not? It's not as bad as you think ...”

“You need to tell someone. You're not exactly a good judge when deciding what's bad or really bad, Harry,” she said seriously, taking a swig of her beverage as someone else passed behind them. Harry felt something in his chest warm up. Even if Ginny was angry with him, she still had his back.

“If anything, you should tell me.” she added just as seriously, when she knew that no one else was listening.

Harry shook his head slowly, giving her a small smile, “There's no point, Gin. I'm fine, really, it's just something that I have to deal with. Honestly, I've talked to Hermione about it, and even she thinks that it's nothing.” he said.

Ginny looked as if she was about to say something, or protest at the very least, but seemed to just give up at the last minute. “If you say so,” she said slowly, turning in her seat to help herself to the toast lined up in the middle of the table on a toast rack.

Harry felt a little bad for lying to Ginny, but he couldn't help but feel that he'd done the right thing. He didn't want to stress her, especially with things that weren't worth stressing over. He wasn't worried about his dreams, so why should anyone else be?

-oOoOoOoOo-

"Did you pack everything you need, Harry? All your clothes? Books?" asked Molly Weasley hurriedly, glancing at Harry every minute as she bustled around the kitchen, searching for her large ancient bag that seemed to have mysteriously disappeared in the last few hours. She had already sent her husband and children out to look for it, with a clear threat that if it wasn't found soon, nobody would be safe. But it was evidently still missing.

"Uh, yes Mrs Weasley," answered Harry, moving away from the kitchen door quickly, as he could hear someone approaching it. He wanted to stay as far away from this drama as he could. Molly Weasley could be quite intimidating when angry, and it seemed that the Lupin's and Sirius had come to the same conclusion as well, as they were all sitting at the table, drinking tea and watching the scene unfold before them quietly.

Everyone looked to the doorway when Ron appeared, out of breath and sweaty. Molly looked at him hopefully. "No sign of it, mum." sighed Ron, his face red and sweating from having to run all over the place.

"Oh! I thought I saw it in here!" cried Molly Weasley, throwing her hands up in frustration and scowling around the room.

Harry bit his bottom lip and threw back his memory to when he'd last seen the old ratty thing, yet again. And yet again came up empty, all he could think about was getting away from the stressed woman in front of him. "I thought I saw it in the parlour room," Harry said, gaining the attention of a flustered Molly Weasley and an exhausted Ron, "I'll go and check if you like?" he offered, inwardly hoping that she would let him. Sirius seemed to know what he was thinking, and smirked at him proudly. Harry was never more thankful that Sirius' back was turned to Molly Weasley, than he was now.

Molly nodded gratefully, "Oh yes, please do, Harry dear." she said, making a shooing motion towards him and seating herself at the table, where she slumped and rubbed at her damp face stressfully.

Harry took his leave and swept out of the room, dodging Ron, who was slumped against the hallway wall and running his hands through his sweaty hair repeatedly, making the messy red strands stick up as if he'd been electrocuted. "Alright, mate?" Harry asked, amused at the wiped out expression on the redhead's face.

"It's bloody mental, women and bloody bags. Why couldn't they just have pockets?" asked Ron rhetorically, looking at Harry as if to say 'Why me?!'.

Harry shrugged, "Because they can't fit all their doodads in their pockets?" he suggested, "How the hell would I know, mate? I'm a bloke." he said, shrugging once more before heading off to the parlour room.

"It's not really in there, is it?" asked Ron, catching on to what Harry had said before and completely ignoring what he'd just said then. "Her bag." he said when Harry looked at him weirdly.

Harry smirked slightly, "Nope, but I'm sure it'll turn up soon." he said slyly, moving to go to the parlor room.

Ron slung a finely muscled arm around Harry's shoulder -seeing as he was still taller than Harry- and fell into step, walking alongside to the calm and no-doubt empty parlor room. "Ah, Harry you sly bugger." he said playfully.

It took everyone in Grimmauld Place half an hour to find Molly Weasley's hidden bag. Half an hour spent looking on counters, in rooms and in bathrooms, a waste, for the bag was not hidden in any of those places. But beside one of the fireplace chairs in the parlor room, the very one that Molly Weasley had sat in when combing out Harry's hair.

She had ranted and raved, blasting anyone within earshot to the high heavens for making her run around like a 'headless chook' for half an hour, searching for a bag that was nowhere near her. 

Ron had found it particularly humorous when Fred and George had gotten the tongue lashing of the century, and the blame for her missing purse. They'd joined Harry and Ron in the parlor room shortly after, rubbing their left and right ears tenderly and wincing every few moments. True to their actions, their ears looked a little bruised.

They'd been hiding in front of the fireplace, lolling about for the time it took for Molly Weasley to lose her steam and gain back her mind. They'd headed back into the kitchen when they figured that it was safe, nearly twenty minutes later, and were bombarded by the people Harry had to leave for Hogwarts with. Arthur and Molly Weasley, the Lupin's and Bill Weasley.

"And just where have you four been?!" asked Molly Weasley angrily, throwing about her newly found tatty bag and scowling heavily at the four of them, "Oh never mind that now, we're late as it is! Come along Harry, we were supposed to be at Kings Cross ten minutes ago." 

Harry's eyebrows had risen high, but he'd said nothing. Instead, he'd shot back up into his room and gathered his things. He threw out the seed and emptied the water from Hedwig's cage and shrunk it down to a small size, no bigger than the top of his pinky. It joined the shrunken trunk in his pocket as well. He'd all but cleared out the alcohol cabinets, knowing that he'd need something stronger than a butterbeer to calm him down. He was prepared for anything; he had nearly all of the books on defensive and offensive magic from his bookshelf, his invisibility cloak, his fathers map, instruments and ingredients -those that were safe for shrinking- for potion making, his wand, a pair of dragon hide boots -one of the pairs he was wearing-, a few thick cloaks, shirts, pants, trousers -some jeans and one leather- and his family album.

He felt he could take on the world.

As a last minute thing, he threw on a comfortably large emerald cloak and pulled some of his hair over both of his shoulders so that it all wasn't just cushioning his back. It was mainly a distraction from having to go downstairs, but from the hollering sounds, it was already time. There was no more denying it now, he had to go. 

He took in one last look of his room, knowing that he had now had something special to come back to, before he disappeared out of the door, his cloak swishing out behind him in a way only Severus Snape had managed.

-oOoOoOoOo- 

Kings Cross station seemed almost empty when they arrived, and Harry would agree with anyone who suggested, that it was all down to the weather. It was absolutely pouring buckets, complete with the loud ominous grumbling of the thunder overhead, the fierce wind and the flashes of lightning that reminded Harry too much of cameras.

No one seemed to want to be caught up in the storm, and the few people who were braving it looked like they wanted to be anywhere else but here, and were only here out of necessity. Harry could almost relate, he didn't want to go to Hogwarts but had to anyway. Though the others don't know that.

Harry pulled the hood of his cloak tighter around his head to shield his face from the freezing wind, seeing the others do the same in the corner of his eye. Arthur was leading them towards the brick wall at a brisk pace, clearly wanting to get to Hogwarts as quickly as possible now that the situation with Molly Weasley's handbag was sorted.

“Quickly now!” called Arthur over the howling wind, only stopping once to entwine his arm with Molly's as they had now reached the brick wall. Harry's steps faltered when he saw the brick wall, but he kept going, watching as the elder Weasley's stepped through the barrier and disappeared entirely, followed quickly by their son, Bill Weasley. Harry really didn't want to go now.

Harry didn't realize that he'd stopped moving until a large familiar hand gripped his shoulder gently, and he looked up into Remus' kind eyes bemusedly. Remus smiled sadly, a knowing look to his aged face, and he nodded once towards the barrier, “Ready, Harry?” he asked over the howling wind, his voice practically drowned out.

Harry didn't say anything, not trusting his voice, and nodded once. He pulled away from Remus before he could say anything else, and ran through the wall, his hand clasped tightly around the tiny trunk and cage in his pocket. He kept his mind carefully blank, not trusting himself to keep calm in the midst of chaotic and panicked thoughts.

The weather on the other side of the wall was much different to the one he'd just came from, but he didn't feel the need to take off his cloak. He merely held it around him tighter, to shield himself from being spotted by anyone else that might be there. However, hew.

The Hogwarts express looked as impressive as it always had, large, red and powerful. And ready to move. Harry glanced at the clock mounted high on the wall and balked when he noticed just how late it was. They'd have to board now if they were to leave.

"Come along, Harry! The train will be departing soon!" called Arthur from a little ways down the train, waving him over. 

Harry heaved in a deep breath and swept down the length of the train to where Arthur was standing, noticing quite belatedly that there was a group of important looking people behind him, all wearing dark and expensive cloaks. They were all Slytherin's. He shuddered to think that he would be alone with a group of Slytherin's in a dorm without any support from anyone else and no one to turn to.

Just my bloody luck to be the only damn Gryffindor creature, he thought bitterly as he climbed aboard the train, hesitating only to offer Arthur on before him. Arthur waved him on with a smile and said something about Molly waiting in a compartment for them, Harry couldn't much hear as the train had just then decided to give a loud ear-bursting whistle. They'd obviously been very late.

Harry walked on down the line of compartments, spying in on every one of them to see if Molly was there. He continued on for a few moments, ducking his head in and out of each compartment, until he finally found Molly sitting in one at the far back. "Why are we so far back?" he couldn't help asking when he stepped in.

Molly let out a small shriek and turned to smack him with her left hand, her wand positioned defensively in her right and pointing directly into his face. He stood frozen while she let out a loud sigh of relief, and lowered her wand, "Oh, Harry dear, you scared me." she said weakly, sounding as if she'd run a mile in ten seconds. He relaxed immediately when she smiled, knowing that he was off the hook. It didn't make him feel any less guilty about it though, and he made sure to look it. "Oh, don't look at me like that, I'm fine." she assured him, moving to sit back beside the window.

Harry sat opposite her, burrowing himself deeply into the warm cloak and leaning his head against the glass, "I'm sorry I scared you Mrs Weasley, I didn't mean to. I thought you knew I was there ..." he trailed off, frowning to himself.

Molly chortled and waved him off as if batting at a compliment, "Oh don't be silly, Harry! You can't help being light on your feet, it's not your fault." she said happily enough, breathing steadier than before. She picked up her large bag and began pulling two large knitting needles and a half-knitted jumper, it was maroon and large enough to fit Ron Weasley if he had a pot-belly.

Harry smiled weakly at her and forced himself to nod, even though he still felt bad about scaring her. "So, how long do you think it'll take them to find us?" he asked conversationally, trying to forget what recently happened, before feeling a little awkward. He didn't think he'd ever spoken with Molly Weasley without the presence of one of her children before. It felt a little odd.

"I think it'll take them just a little bit longer than you, that's for sure." she answered, grinning cheekily as she began knitting away.

Just then the compartment door slid open, and in popped the missing companions. Remus smiled apologetically, leading a drowsy Tonks in and sat them both at the opposite end of Molly, allowing room for Arthur to sit beside his wife. Arthur and Bill appeared behind them, though Bill seemed a little sour-faced. 

"What's happened?" asked Harry, concerned. Though he hadn't been there when whatever happened, he was sure that it was all down to the pack of Slytherin's he'd seen. It was just too obvious.

Bill scowled and looked away as he flung himself down in one of the seats beside Harry, "Slytherin's," he said through gritted teeth, "Malfoy's to be specific." 

Harry himself felt a scowl take place on his face, and he took the moment to slide the hood of his cloak down, "Stupid Malfoy ..." he paused, suddenly realizing the implications of Malfoy being on the train. He turned to Bill quickly, "Is he a creature?" he asked.

Bill nodded with a dark look, "I can't believe the wanker, flashing his fangs all about like they're something special," he muttered darkly, ignoring his mothers spluttering about bad language and glaring at a spot on the floor as if seeing Malfoy's head. His foot stomped on the patch harshly, "he even 'offered' to 'give me a go'! The little prick!" he snarled, once again stomping on the floor.

Harry winced for Malfoy, knowing that Bill was incredibly dangerous and skilled with hexes and curses. He really wouldn't want to be on Bill's bad side. However, Harry was then distracted by what Bill had said, "Malfoy has fangs?" he asked, confused. There were many creatures in the Wizarding world that had fangs, and not all of them were vampires.

Remus nodded from the corner of his eye, and Harry turned to him. Remus looked fairly angry, almost a mirror image to Bill, "The Malfoy family appear to be .. vampires," he said slowly, glancing once from Harry to the compartment door as if wanting to run down the hallway and slaughter the Malfoy's. It was not look for the faint of heart.

"Appear to be?" asked Harry, ignoring Bill as he stomped repeatedly at the floor. He was waiting for the moment where Bill's foot would go through the floor and get stuck.

"Well one could hardly tell if another is a vampire, if the said vampire keeps their teeth sheathed, Harry," said Remus, a slight tone of amusement in his voice.

"And Malfoy -- Draco," Harry amended, seeing a potential for mixing the Malfoy men up, "flashed his at you?" he asked incredulously, looking between Bill and Remus with wide disbelieving eyes. If Malfoy was so bold as to taunt Bill Weasley -a large muscley, manly man with a fierce look of bad-assedry about him- so openly, then how the hell would he survive in the same dorm as him?

Tonks nodded shortly, her curly purple hair bobbing around her chin frantically, "Malfoy junior tried to do the same with me, but aunt Narcissa stopped him before he could. She must've recognised me, 'cause she didn't say anything about how I'm dressed. Funny, that." she said, looking thoughtful.

Remus' jaw tightened, "You look beautiful in whatever you wear, Dora. There is no one else here to tell you otherwise." he said firmly, pressing an adoring kiss to his wife's temple. She rolled her eyes playfully and snuggled into his side, splaying one arm around his back and another arm over her stomach protectively. Remus' hand settled on her stomach as well, and he gained a look of fierce protectiveness.

Harry unconsciously looked just as protective, although he was glaring heatedly at the compartment door as if he was expecting Malfoy to just show up instead of acting all lovey-dovey with someone. He couldn't wait for Malfoy -either of the two Malfoy males- to slip up and give him a reason to bash his head in, Harry at least, had more than enough power to take them on. However, it wouldn't be nearly as fun, as he'd always had enough power and magic to crush the Malfoy's.

A cold smirk spread across his face when he glanced down at his right hand. If anything, he could beat Lucius Malfoy and Draco Malfoy at their own game. 

"I don't like the way you're looking right now," said Bill, slightly amused and yet worried at the same time, "too evil and devious for someone with such an angelic face." he said, making baby noises at Harry.

The smirk on Harry's face pulled up into an amused grin, "Angelic face? Oh no, Billy boy. This face," Harry gestured to his face and gave a pointedly devilish smirk, although it was ruined when his lips began twitching, "is anything but angelic."

Bill's eyebrows raised in incredulity, and his voice came out higher when he spoke, "'Billy boy'?" he asked, glancing at his parents with a look that clearly said 'Can you believe this?', "Whatever happened to my manhood? Left at the train station, I suppose?" he asked, sounding put out and depressed. It was clear to Harry that it was an act, as upset people usually weren't trying to hold back a smile.

Harry chuckled and reached over to pet Bill's arm comfortingly, "There, there Billy boy. Don't worry, I'm sure it'll find its way back to you soon." he said, trying to sound placating, but failing.

Bill rolled his blue eyes and shot Harry a mock glare, snatching his arm away from Harry's gentle petting. He shook his head, making the long ponytail of red hair swish over his shoulders and his fang earring to flick back and forth viciously, "How did we get from calling Malfoy a prat, to discussing how I've supposedly lost my manhood?" he asked, beginning to look puzzled and confused. 

Harry was about to shrug, when his right hand began to burn slightly. It was the Potter ring, heating up and seeming to reprimand him for even thinking of displaying such an uncouth gesture. It seemed like it had heard what Harry had been thinking, and was taking it seriously. If rings could do that. He closed his eyes for a brief moment, calming and firming himself. He needed to act the part of proper and high-class if he was to beat the Malfoy's, and shrugging was not going to help. The ring was right.

"No idea," said Harry, smiling slightly in Bill's direction, "but I guess I'm indirectly calling you a prat, seeing as you said I looked ugly." he smirked.

Bill rolled his eyes at that, and socked Harry in the arm, before slouching in his seat and crossing his feet at the ankle, "Yeah, well ... just be careful 'round Malfoy, okay? I have a bad feeling about him. I don't know if it's the fangs, or the fact that he's a new vampire, but I feel like he's going to be targeting you an awful lot." he said, sounding concerned and angry all at the same time.

"He wouldn't want to if he knows what's good for himself," said Harry darkly, his expression tightening and twisting until he was practically glowering out the window. He could just imagine it now; Malfoy all slashed to ribbons, his stupid bloody face nothing but a gaping wound laying in a puddle of red.

"Just be careful, Harry," said Remus quietly, "we don't know if their charms work on you, and if they do, what your reaction might be. You're still an unknown creature, remember that."

As if I need any reminders, Harry thought bitterly, hugging his arms around his waist underneath the cloak.

Malfoy is a vampire, and Harry's enemy.

Malfoy will probably try and kill Harry the moment he sees him. And Harry will probably have to room with him, because that's just his luck.

"Bollocks." he muttered to himself, letting his head fall against the window with a dull thud.


It was six o'clock by the time they reached Hogsmeade station, and it was incredibly dark. Harry had his hood up again, and was clutching at his wand, as if expecting Malfoy to come flying at him. Who knew, he probably would. 

The others had also donned their robes' hoods, to protect their faces from the slightly nippy wind blowing their way. Harry was travelling in the middle of the group, with Arthur and Bill on either side and Molly leading the way. They hadn't seen the slimy Slytherin's yet, but Harry had no doubt that they would, and probably at an incredibly bad time.

"Ah, a carriage," said Molly Weasley in relief, rushing towards one of the Thestral drawn carriages and pulling the cab door open, she climbed inside immediately to rest herself, and Tonks was second to join her with the help of Remus. 

Harry was third to go in for some reason, though perhaps it was because Bill or Remus were becoming wary of the forest, or because they were becoming paranoid that the Malfoy's were suddenly going to come out and attack Harry. Harry didn't mind, it was warmer inside the carriage than it was outside, which was silly as it wasn't supposed to be as cold.

Remus pulled the door closed and almost immediately, the carriage set off. However, the closer they got to Hogwarts, the more tense Harry got. 

"Don't worry, Harry," said Arthur happily enough, "you'll be fine. Everything always works out for the best." he said.

Harry didn't say anything, but nodded and smiled gratefully all the same, forcing himself loosen up his muscles and relax. If he's kicked out, then he's kicked out. At least he still has Sirius to go to.

The journey up the hill and across the grounds was a silent one, filled with a mounting tension that just got higher the closer they got to the castle. Remus had growled lowly when he peered out the window, and Harry knew why without having to look. There were three other carriages all following the bendy track they were making. 

And most were probably filled with Slytherin's.

"Calm down, love," said Tonks quietly, squeezing Remus' hand soothingly in her lap. She nuzzled her face into the crook of his neck, and Harry saw her smile lovingly when Remus moved to encase her in a hug. Harry felt another pang in his chest, somewhere close to his heart, and he was forced to look away.

Harry frowned when the carriage pulled to a stop, and he noticed that instead of stopping at the gates like they usually did, they had instead stopped in the courtyard. Since when had he lost sight of the path they were travelling?

"Well this is different .." Harry trailed off, watching as Dumbledore and a small group of wizards and witches descended the entrance hall stairs. Dumbledore looked a little annoyed, but it was largely concealed by the wide grin on his elderly face. Harry knew why almost immediately, Fudge, Umbridge and other Ministry toadies were there.

"They won't do anything you don't want them to, Harry. You hold all the power here, not them." said Arthur kindly, giving Harry's arm a comforting and fatherly squeeze.

Harry nodded stiffly, “They're going to try and get on my good side now that I'm a Lord, aren't they?” he asked quietly, glancing from Arthur to Remus. If they tried, he would shut them down. Especially Umbridge, although, what ideas she'd had about getting him on her side would be amusing to listen to.

Arthur nodded his balding head and sighed, beginning to look weary, “I'm afraid so, Harry. They'll most likely try and convince you to go along with their ideas, you have a high standing in the Wizarding world, both in the Ministry and with the people. You're a very important person, and to have you backing them would kick up their standings.” he said.

“But I'm not --” Harry tried to say.

“We know, Harry,” interrupted Remus, not unkindly, “but to them you're just a person that can be used, it's one of the reasons why we forbid you from owling anyone. It can be intercepted and used as blackmail that could ultimately ruin you.”

“This is the wrong time to be discussing this, boys,” said Molly sternly, crossing her arms across her large chest, “poor Albus has been waiting for five minutes in that cold wind, all because you all can't stop talking.”

“Oh, not you, Harry dear. I meant Remus and Arthur,” Molly added hurriedly when Harry looked just as guilty as Remus and Arthur. Bill and Tonks snickered.

“Rightio then, out we get.” said Arthur, smiling appealingly at his wife.

Molly nodded happily, and waited for Remus to open the door, “Alright Remus, we're ready.” she said kindly, fixing up her already neat hair under the hood of her cloak. Harry immediately pulled his up, just remembering that it was down.

Remus gave a soft laugh and opened the door and slipped out, holding his hands out to steady Tonks as she scooted across the seat and stepped out. Tonks grinned up at him and pecked his cheek, thanking him, before going to greet Dumbledore.

Molly beamed at Remus as she stepped out, patting his arm with a motherly approval and then fixing her cloak as if it was messed. Arthur gently stopped her flurrying hands by holding them between his own after stepping out, and tugged her over to meet Dumbledore, whom was smiling affectionately at Tonks as she rubbed at her stomach and bounced about, almost tripping over her own feet in her haste to tell him about her recent stay at Grimmauld Place.

Bill gave Harry a hard look when he was next to move out, his right leg already hanging out of the carriage, “You will be careful this year, right Harry? I don't want to lose one of my brothers to anything stupid like a werewolf or a Death Eater,” he said firmly, looking and sounding the part of the protective older brother.

Harry did little more than nod with an understanding smile and say, “Ron'll be fine, Bill. I'll keep an eye on him when he's out patrolling the corridors. I'm sure he'll be fine.”

Bill's eyebrows furrowed, “Ron knows how to take care of himself, Harry. Just don't forget about yourself, little brother.” he said quietly, knocking Harry's shoulder gently with a brotherly shove as he climbed out of the carriage.

“Little brother ...” Harry whispered to himself, heart clenching tightly in his chest. He was considered a little brother?

"Come on out Harry, professor Dumbledore would like to see you." said Remus gently, still holding the carriage door open.

"Yeah Remus, I'm coming." Harry replied, smiling.

Harry stepped out carefully, keeping the back of his cloak held out behind him so he wouldn't trip on it. He cast a glance at Remus, and saw the wizard eyeing something over his head. He didn't have to look behind him to know that it was the Slytherin's.

“Alright, Remus?” he murmured, the wind almost drowning out his words as it pulled at his cloak.

Remus inhaled deeply, seeming to calm himself down, “Yes, I'm fine, Harry,” he murmured back, smiling slightly. Harry stepped away from the carriage so Remus could close the door, and they both made their way over to Dumbledore, whom was now facing their direction and smiling widely. Harry couldn't help but smile when he saw the vision that Dumbledore made.

He wore long lavender robes with gold trimmings that shimmered slightly under the light emanating from the castle and the moon, there were a few stars sparkling and shooting across the fabric whenever the wind caught it. He wore pointed pale green shoes that were partially hidden by the hem of his robes, only having been seen when the wind picked up its pace. His long silver beard was tucked into the bright red belt tied around his waist. He looked fabulous.

“Good evening Mister Potter, Mister Lupin,” greeted Dumbledore, his blue eyes twinkling madly behind the half-moon spectacles perched atop his nose, “I do hope your trip was enjoyable. I should have liked the train to have reached here at an earlier time, but I can't help but be thankful, as the House-elves have prepared us all a rather spectacular meal in the Great Hall.”

Harry grinned when Dumbledore winked at him, “Excuse me for my rudeness. Would anyone like a lemon drop?” he offered, a smile curling his lips as he held a small brown sack that was full to the brim of the lemon candies.

“Yes please, professor.” Harry said happily, stepping forward to select a few of the sour lollies. He took four. Not so surprisingly, Tonks was the second person to reach into the bag, and she stepped away with her completely full hand held to the top of her stomach so that the lollies wouldn't escape, her face lit up in a happy grin. She reluctantly offered one to Remus, whom smiled cheekily and took one as well.

Harry was surprised when one of the Slytherin's stepped forth as well, and selected two lollies out of the bag. But then Harry wasn't exactly surprised after all, as it was Blaise Zabini, one of the rare polite and kind Slytherin's. Blaise and Harry exchanged friendly smiles as Blaise passed by, and both inclined their heads respectfully. Although, Harry noted that Blaise returned to the other Slytherin's with a sort of gobsmacked and dazed look.

Harry felt a small pang of relief. At least rooming with Blaise wouldn't be so bad, he was polite to everyone. Although he could be extremely nasty when crossed, he was a lot like Harry himself in that respect actually.

Dumbledore smiled widely at everyone before him, “Now that that has been taken care of, I should think that it is time to begin with testing these brilliant minds. Follow me.” he said, and then spun around, robes flaring in the wind, and began walking up the entrance stairs.

Harry didn't hesitate to start following him, and began moving up the stairs behind him, his cloak trailing out behind him in the wind. He was completely calm and collected when they reached the entrance doors.

Each of the Heads of House's were standing by the side of the doors, their backs to the Ministry toadies behind them, and were watching Harry and the other students and parents ascending with varying expressions. Minerva McGonagall, the Head of Gryffindor House, didn't look so surprised to see him, but was giving him her rare dry smile. “Not willing to miss out on another adventure, right Potter?” she asked dryly.

Harry smiled cheerily at McGonagall and inclined his head respectfully, the ring on his right hand calling for him to show proper manners, “You clearly know me professor. Care to play Guess-The-Creature with me?” he asked playfully.

McGonagall's smile widened just little that bit and she shook her head minimally, making the pointed hat flop a little on her head, “I think not, Potter. I believe you're something rare and unknown, such a game would be useless.” she said wryly, looking at him with a stern fondness.

Harry went to say something, when a large hand fell on his shoulder and pulled him a little to the side, just in time for him to avoid a particularly mean looking elbow swinging where he had just been standing.

Draco Malfoy had elbowed his way past the other students to get to the front, Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy following him with their expressions exuding nothing but pure arrogance. A growl crawled up from his chest and rumbled out of his mouth when they near enough shoved McGonagall out of their way, forcing the older and sterner woman to the side, but the hand tightening on his shoulder had him quietening.

“Calm down.” whispered Remus into his ear, giving his shoulder another comforting squeeze.

Harry inhaled deeply, closing his eyes tightly and counting until he hit thirty-seven. Growling was not something that would help him beat the Malfoy's at their own game. When he was calm enough, he nodded to Remus; a clear 'I'm alright'. The hand disappeared, and Harry immediately stood straighter, his posture perfectly aligned and his head held high, though it was still half covered to the onlooker. The Malfoy's and Snape were glancing at him, their eyes sometimes squinting as if to help them see past his hood. 

Dumbledore called attention to himself by giving a single but very loud clap. When everyone, including the uppity Malfoy's and the sneering Potions Master, had turned to him and silenced, Dumbledore spoke, “Now, when I call your name, you will step forth and state your name and the name of your creature - and you must speak clearly, only then you shall pass through these doors behind me." he said, his eyes passing over those who were standing before him with a piercing gaze, "A word of caution; do not use any magic, the castle will eject you should you even attempt to Wingardium Leviosa your way into it. However, we do not know if it will attempt to harm you in any way, so it would be best advised for you not to attempt anything at all. Are there any questions?" he asked, peering around. 

When no one said anything but grimly, Dumbledore nodded decisively and moved to stand on the opposite side of the teachers, his hands on his thin hips, "I think we should start with Blaise Zabini," he said, smiling gently at the dark haired Italian standing nearest. Harry almost winced for him, seeing as he knew what it felt like to be put on the spot.

Blaise stiffened and paled slightly, but obediently walked towards the open entrance hall nonetheless. He pushed his shoulders back and paused before the threshold, his face determined, "Blaise Zabini, vampire." he stated clearly, hesitating only slightly before walking forward and into the hall. The air crackled slightly, but did nothing else. Blaise was safe, and he knew it by the relaxed slump to his shoulders. 

"Excellent!" Dumbledore said, smiling widely in congratulation as Blaise turned around and smiled with relief, "Theodore Nott." he called, turning back to the others with an excited smile. 

Theodore stiffened, much like Blaise, but hardly hesitated when walking towards the entrance hall doors, "Theodore Nott, vampire." he stated, almost as clearly as Blaise had, and walked through the threshold. The air once again crackled, though it was slightly louder this time, almost sounding like a warning.

Dumbledore smiled as Theodore and Blaise moved off to the side, and turned back to the others, only to have to look to the small group of teachers and Ministry workers off to the side. "Draco Malfoy." he called, losing just a little bit of the thrill as the blond sneered slightly. 

Malfoy pushed back his shoulders and strutted towards the threshold, his matured and handsome face a pure mask of arrogance, "Draco Malfoy, vampire." he stated, clearer than the two before him, and strode through the threshold. The air cracked like a large whip against the walls, the sound bearing down on the three inside the hall. Malfoy hunched protectively in on himself and made his way to the other two quickly, his face losing some of its arrogance. 

Harry sneered and glanced at the elder Malfoy's, watching as they both closed their eyes and shook their heads in mild irritation and disappointment. Harry wondered if that was because of the reaction, or because of Malfoy's arrogance and stupidity.

Dumbledore had much the same expression -minus the irritation-, and merely shook his head slightly before turning back to the others, "Ernie Macmillan." he called, sounding kinder but less energetic.

Harry started with surprise as the Hufflepuff stepped forward, swallowing loudly as he looked up at the imposing doorway. He quivered slightly when he stopped before the threshold, "Ernie Macmillan, werewolf." he stated clearly, his voice surprisingly strong as he walked meekly through the doorway. Nothing happened, not a crack or crackle in the air was sounded, and Ernie was relieved as he walked further into the hall. 

Harry was disgusted when the other Slytherin's avoided the down Hufflepuff like he had dragon pox, but maybe it was the genetics playing up, as werewolves and vampires hated each other with the core of their beings. Harry could understand that, so he let the disgust go and let himself feel the surprise and sympathy he felt towards the stout blond. Not only was he a Hufflepuff -someone destined to be bullied by the other Houses-, be was now a werewolf, and at the worst possible time, what with the Ministry cracking down on them.

He glanced towards the Ministry workers in time to catch a familiar toad-ish looking face, glaring hatefully into the hall. It was Delores Umbridge, or otherwise known as the 'Bitch in Pink' in the Gryffindor common room. He tensed, his instincts telling him to remove her from the scene. The hand returned to his shoulder and squeezed. He forcefully relaxed, and nodded again.

"Harry Potter." called Dumbledore, sounding far more energetic and excited than the previous time. Harry thought it was because of his uniqueness.

Harry stepped forward and made his way to the threshold, his hood was still up and he belatedly thought that he should pull it down, before realizing that he honestly didn't care if it was up or not. He stopped before the threshold, noticing that everyone was watching him. He could see the three Slytherin's and Hufflepuff waiting inside, "Harry Potter, Valerian." he stated clearly, before walking inside.

The air fell utterly silent around them, the wind stopped howling and flapping at his feet, and the air became a tad bit warmer and charged with magic. It tingled along his arms, back and neck, tickling him as if adoringly. He shivered and ducked his head, allowing the hood on his cloak to fall almost to his chest. A warmth he hadn't yet experienced filled his chest and spread down his spine, creating small sparks that flittered above and below his skin near lovingly. This was definitely different to what he'd been expecting.

"Harry?" 

With a small sigh, Harry lifted his head and slid off the hood, allowing himself to see and be seen. Ernie was standing the closest to him, his tired face frowning in concern and worry. Harry gave a small smile and inclined his head, "I'm fine Ernie," he said, beginning to pull the cloak from around him. It wasn't as cold anymore, and there was next to no wind, if he kept it on -especially his hood- it could be taken as an insult.

"A - are you sure? You were still for a long time." said Ernie, looking faintly awestruck and dazed at him. Harry knew it was because of his looks, and he couldn't help but want to preen under the silent praise.

Harry beamed at Ernie's concern and slung the emerald cloak over his left forearm, "I'm absolutely fine, Ernie, it was just a shock, that's all. How long was I standing there, anyway?" he asked, patting at his shirt and pants as if brushing away dust.

Ernie swallowed loudly and looked away from him, "Long enough. I almost thought that you weren't going to ever move again." he said quietly, shuffling around on his feet. 

Harry chuckled and moved closer to where Ernie was standing, so that he wasn't standing alone, "So what's this I hear about being a werewolf?" he asked, giving Ernie a small smile.

Ernie paled and looked down at his feet, his face turning into a distressed frown, "I was attacked by one of Greyback's wolves a week ago. It bit my arm when I tried to fend it off with a stunning spell, but it was gone almost as soon as it had come after it had bitten me." he said bitterly.

Harry frowned and laid a comforting hand on Ernie's arm, which flinched slightly under his touch, "I'm sorry to hear that, Ernie. I know it's not exactly a good time to be a werewolf --" he began to say.

"It's never a good time to be a werewolf! You lose all of your friends because they think that you'll just up and attack them, you lose your family because you've turned out to be an utter disgrace to the family name and you have no one to turn to because everyone thinks you'll bloody attack them!" interrupted Ernie, sounding pained and angry, "I wouldn't be surprised if even you, the Savior of the Wizarding world and kindest of the kind, were to ditch me out of fear of catching my incurable disease!" 

Harry shook his head with a sad smile, "I'm not afraid of you, Ernie. You're a werewolf, yes, but there's far worse things in the world than a Hufflepuff werewolf. Greyback for one, and murderous people for another. You're not some diseased person someone should be wary of, you're an amazing person." he said firmly, squeezing Ernie's arm comfortingly. 

Ernie looked up at him reluctantly, seeming to hesitate for a moment, "Do you really believe that?" he asked, his voice tight with fear, "Do you really believe that I'm not a raving monster?" 

Harry nodded firmly, "I know what a raving monster looks like Ernie, and you're definitely not it. If anything, you only turn into a wolf once a month for a limited amount of hours, raving monsters are crazy twenty-four seven." he said, smiling. 

"How can you even stand to be around me?" asked Ernie, frowning, "Even knowing that I turn into a vicious dog once a month is bad enough, but knowing that I can spread my disease to you ..." he trailed off, beginning to look confused. 

Harry sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, unaware that he looked a lot like Severus Snape, "Ernie, I have a friend who's a werewolf, and he's one of the most wonderful people I've ever had the pleasure and luck to meet. I'm not afraid of him, I've never been afraid of him, even when I once saw him change." he said, before closing his eyes tightly and furrowing his eyebrows, "And you're a wolf, not a dog." 

Ernie was silent for a moment, allowing Harry the chance to hear Dumbledore inviting everyone inside for some 'lovely dinner!'. At last, Ernie spoke, "You've seen someone change into a wolf, and you're not afraid of them? Who is he? Can I meet him? I've never met another werewolf before!" 

Harry held in a sigh and nodded, dropping his hand from his face. Ernie began babbling quickly, seeming to be out of his shell now that someone -Harry Potter no less- accepted him. He talked about Slytherin this and Muggleborn that and everything he knew about what was happening in the Ministry, and gave a detailed account of his dealings with the 'Bitch in Pink', otherwise known as Delores Umbridge. Harry had played the dutiful friend and offered advice when it was called for, and an opinion when it wasn't.  

It was going to be a long night, and he hadn't yet had an encounter with the three uppity blondes, also known as the Malfoy's. He felt it was inevitable, seeing as even now, Draco Malfoy was eyeing him from a distance. It was just a matter of time. 

And they hadn't even sorted out their rooms yet. 

Harry had said it once, and he was about to say it again, "Bollocks." 

Chapter Text

8. A Different Change in View

Harry's eyes were open before he even registered what was happening, he was upright in his bed, the blankets pooled around his hips and his chest bare in the firelight. He knew it hadn't been a nightmare that had woken him, the empty phial on his desk and the lack of post-nightmare jitters proved that. But why was he awake at this hour – whatever hour it was?

Wordlessly and wandlessly, he cast a Tempus, and let out a groan when the exact hour appeared in floating wisps in front of his head, the bright white numbers seeming to pull apart and drift away at the edges.

6:15 am.

And then his brain put together the sounds of muffled yelling - yelling that seemed to be coming from the other side his door. A somewhat familiar -he couldn't exactly tell through the thick door dividing them- voice yelled a particularly vulgar word at the top of their lungs -a personal favorite of the person he now recognises-, which was very quickly followed up by a stream of insults worthy of a sailor, and Harry could almost hear the slap that followed. It had been Ron's voice, and wherever Ron went, Hermione followed.

They were already here.

“Great start to the morning, isn't it,” he muttered to himself, swinging his legs and then his body out of his warm and now very lonely bed. He was in the beginning stages of stretching, his back beginning to arch over the spot he'd just vacated, when an extremely loud and vicious bang on his door jolted him, almost tripping him. His poor muscles and bones, they hadn't even been properly stretched yet. 

Wincing, he moved over to his trunk and picked up the small pile of clothing laid prettily on the lid, something he'd made sure to prepare last night before he went to sleep. It seemed to have been a good idea -as rare as they may be for him- at the time, and seemed to be now, as the person banging on his door was not exactly calm and patient.

He placed the pile of moderately expensive clothing on the still warm bed and quickly, but carefully -as he didn't want to injure himself- snatched up the emerald silk bathrobe lying limply on his study desk beside a large oak jewelry chest, which he used for a potions storage. 

The yelling outside was just increasing in volume as he opened the door, and he had to quickly duck out of the way as Ron's fist went to slam into where his face had been.

Ron seemed to realize that the door wasn't there anymore, and peered into his room with confusion, his mouth beginning to shape a question. He only just seemed to spot Harry's hunched figure. "Oh, uh.. hullo, Harry," he said, confused.

Straightening, Harry pushed Ron's shoulder roughly, making the broad shouldered redhead stumble back slightly in astonishment.

"'Hullo'?" demanded Harry, casting a sweeping gesture at the chaotic scene before them; nearly all of the Weasley's were gathered and united against the Slytherin families, the main people spitting insults with their wands out and sparking dangerously. "You come in here at six in the morning, screaming at the top of your bloody lungs, banging the hell out of my door, and all you can say is 'hullo'?!" 

Ron flushed in embarrassment, cheeks turning a dull Weasley red that seemed to affect all Weasleys, and ducking his head sheepishly - which gave Harry the perfect view of a shallow cut on his forehead. Something significant in Harry's chest shifted and tightened, and the familiar wave of protectiveness flowed readily through him.

"Yeah, well.. we got worried when no one answered our firecalls earlier, and when we got here and saw the Slytherin's cursing at mum and dad -" he glanced behind him, and gave a great wince. "- well, I guess things got a little out of hand." 

"'Out of hand'? Yeah, I'd say it got a little bit more than out of hand!" Harry snapped, noticing the way Ron's eye twitched in the familiar tell-tale sign that he was nervous. "The least you could have done was knock on my door, I would have gladly sorted the idiots out before things even got to this level! There was absolutely no need for anyone to get hurt," he said, forcefully calming himself down at the slightly hurt look on Ron's face. 

"But no one's hurt  -" Ron tried to protest.

"You have a cut on your forehead," he interrupted roughly, gesturing to the small wound with a flick of his hand. "It's small and dried up some, but it's still there."

Ron brought his hand up to feel for the small cut, not seeming to know where he had been injured, and relaxed when he felt the dried and scabbing blood under his fingertips. He let his hand drop to his side. "It's just a scratch," he said offhandedly, shrugging it off.

"Yeah, but it's still there," Harry muttered, shaking his head. He had his own lifetime of injuries and scars to contend with. "Anyway, what happened?" he asked when Ron seemed to back off slightly, as if wanting to join the fight still going on behind him.

Ron groaned and let his head fall backwards so that he was looking up to the ceiling, looking as if he was praying for patience. "I already told you, mate. Malfoy and the other gits were mouthing off to mum and dad and we came in, saw them, and started going off at them in retaliation."

Harry let out a small irritated sigh as a headache began to bloom in his temples and scalp. It was way to early in the morning for this crap. He roughly massaged them, muttering about the rudeness of some people and ignored the slightly insulted looks he was getting from Ron. He was becoming more and more tired, as the sleeping potion hasn't quite worked out of his system yet, and he was just becoming more and more crankier. 

"You alright, mate?" asked Ron, concern in his voice when he finally noticed Harry's dark look.

Unwilling to attack his friend or anyone else over something so childish, Harry clenched his jaw. "I'm fine," he said as calmly as he could be, ignoring the panic blooming on Ron's face, he began moving away from the redhead. "I'm just going to shut them all up before I kill them," he said, not entirely joking.

"Harry, I don't think that that's such a good -" 

He waved Ron's plea off and strode -rather tiredly- towards the fighting people, anger twisting his face into a scowl as he took in the destruction. One of the four squashy brown chairs had been completely obliterated, the common room notice board had been blown to bits and was still burning in some spots and the carpet near Molly Weasley's feet had a large scorch mark. This place was supposed to be their bloody common room, not a battle arena.

"Oi!" He yelled angrily, crossing his arms furiously over his chest. He waited patiently for someone to catch on that he was there, but no one did.

No one listened, not even the Weasley's -who claim to be there for him-, they were all too busy trying to kill each other. He growled, a deep grumbling noise that rumbled loudly out from the middle of his chest. Not so surprisingly -as they were the closest-, the two Zabini's heard his growl. Blaise seemed to take in his expression and posture as 'Pissed Off', and stepped away from the two Malfoy men, who were still cursing and spitting out threats. Lady Zabini, giving Harry a small concerned frown, tugged on Narcissa Malfoy's elbow, and began leading her away from the fray, ignoring the protests she was garnering.

"OI!" He snarled furiously, beginning to become angrier and angrier with each passing moment. No matter how loud he spoke, no one seemed to notice that he was there.

He ignored the semi-strong cutting curse that hit his arm, not exactly feeling the pain that would usually come from such a thing, but feeling the blood that was resulted from it trickle down his arm until it dribbled off of his fingertips. It had been the breaking point for his control, and he gave up just shouting.

Arching his back and releasing his arms from the knot that they had made on his chest, he roared. A long, loud and bone-shattering noise that spread from the bottom of his stomach and raised the hair on the backs of everyone’s necks.

He was furious.

His mouth -along with the skin on his arms-, tingled, almost like that feeling one got from eating a mouthful of those popping rock candy's, and it spread everywhere, to his back, to the back of his legs, and even to his neck. It wasn't unpleasant, but it didn't exactly feel good either. 

When everyone was silent and no longer cursing each other, but staring at him with varying emotions, Harry huffed and relaxed his stance. "Now that I have your attention, I'd like to know what the bloody hell that was all about!" he sneered, glaring heatedly at the groups of people - most of whom were adults- who were standing divided and still fuming, although slowed and stunned from his display.

"The Malfoy's were insulting mum and dad!" he heard Ron say exasperatedly in the background, and just like that, the tense silence snapped.

"We did not insult your family, Mister Weasley," said Narcissa graciously, a pleasant expression fixed upon her regal features despite the fact that she had just recently been fixing to curse one or two of them. Harry thought that the woman ought to have a crown and an award. "Lucius and I were merely warning them of Draco's ... capricious ways."

"We heard you, we know what you said!" Ron persisted angrily, moving to Harry's side with tensed shoulders and clenched fists. His poor wand was probably half-way to being snapped. Again.

"Then I'm sure you heard us talking about our Draco's habits," said Narcissa coldly, her tone steel as she stared at Ron's reddening face. 

"You insulted -!" Ron began to sputter, his face reddening to the extent of his hair. 

But Harry had had enough, clearly he was to be the adult in this situation. "I don't care who insulted who at this point, what I want to know is what the hell happened to get to the extremity of cutting curses being thrown!" He snapped, and gestured to his injured arm with his other hand as if pointing out the obvious. "Clearly things had to have been fairly serious for this to have happened," he spat sarcastically.

It took only nanoseconds for Molly Weasley to react. "Oh Harry! You're hurt!" she cried tearfully, blinking furiously as if seeming to just notice the bleeding wound on his arm. "Oh someone do get Madam Pomfrey! Oh, Arthur! Arthur, go and get her! Harry's hurt!" she fretted, pushing her husbands arm frantically.

"Alright Molly, I'll be back shortly," replied Arthur quickly, his face pale as he hurried over to the fireplace to grab the ceramic jar filled with floo powder that was resting on the mantelpiece. Molly bit her lip to quell the urge to lash out at the Slytherin's, who were obviously the people who attacked Harry.

"No, I'm alright," Harry protested, shaking his head at the balding redheaded man as he went to gather up a handful of the powder. Arthur paused, looking to Harry intently as if debating a serious issue. "Honestly, it's just a scratch! You know that I've had far worse than this before. It really doesn't hurt at all," he said, reassuring those who cared with a bright smile that he definitely didn't feel. He heard Draco Malfoy snort.

"But that's an awful lot of blood, Harry!" said Molly, her tone portraying a woman desperate to take care of a sickly child. Her image, however, was ruined by her glancing at the Slytherin families, seeming to try and say something. 

"I beg your pardon?" said Lucius tightly, eyes zeroing in on the motion Mrs. Weasley was making. "Excuse me Mrs. Weasley, but I seemed to have misunderstood the meaning behind your words, you seem to be saying something entirely unsavory about my family and friends." His black cane clicked against the stone floor as he stepped towards them, the silver snake head glinting in the gaps of his fingers. His chiseled features almost identical to Draco's, pulled into an expression that was an impressive mixture of disdain and loathing, something that was shockingly similar to his son's.

Harry knew almost at once that Lucius was trying to intimidate them, it was easy to see with his easily taller and broader stature towering over them, and the way he tried to appear colder and more powerful than before. He supposed that Lucius Malfoy was a powerful and influential man - when he was able to stand on his own two feet without the support of his wife. But the thing is, it's hard to find the man he saw weeping so openly into the arms of Sirius, as intimidating, if anything, he seemed like he was wearing a mask or clothes that were too big for him. Like a child playing dress-up with their parents clothing.

Dressed in only his silk bathrobe and pajama pants, Harry straightened his spine and looked Lucius in the eye, pushing an almost defiantly amused expression to his face, knowing that the aristocrat would take it as an offense. "Take it how you will, Mister Malfoy," he said airily, ignoring the small distressed noise Molly made behind his back and the silence of the room around them. "But I believe that Misses Weasley was only concerned about my welfare,” he stated.

“Enough blood has been spilled for the day," he added quietly, only for Lucius' hearing.

Lucius' cold grey eyes narrowed marginally and his slightly thin lips pulled into a tight angry line that Draco seemed to have been trying to create in his earlier years. "I agree. Heal quickly Potter, we wouldn't want the temptation to become too great for our young friends, now would we?" He said shortly, looking over Harry's shoulder at Molly as he spoke, a cold smirk settling onto his face as if it belonged there. Harry felt hands grip the back of his robe tightly.

"No," Harry agreed, smiling far too calmly for comfort as he inclined his head. "We wouldn't." 

Lucius gave a small sneer, glancing between Molly and himself with a cool glare, before spinning on his heel abruptly and string away with his dark grey robe flaring out behind him. The only sound in the silent room was Lucius' cane clicking on the floor as he made his way over to the other side of the room where his son and wife -whom was holding a restraining hand on their son's shoulder- were stood.

When Lucius halted himself on Draco's other side and nothing else seemed to happen, the noise level in the room began to rise again, and the people standing in their respective groups began talking amongst themselves. However, Harry's eye was caught by Narcissa's strange blue ones, and she gave him an intense but frustratingly indecipherable look. 

It was unclear where her loyalties lied, as she seems to have been on the side of Voldemort when he had risen again, and then on her husband's side when he was being accused of murder, and her son's whenever he tried to 'attack' Harry, and then Harry's own side himself. What was she playing at? Was she trying to collect up trust with multiple people just so that she had a person on both sides to fall back on should the shit hit the fan?

While that would be the Slytherin thing to do, it just wasn't the Malfoy way. Nor the Black way either. The two Houses were very proud and stubborn, full of old money and ancestry that no doubt dated back further than any other family in the world, probably as far back as the Hogwart's founders' reign. That was why it was so odd, she was supposed to be above the people of the Light side, above the whole 'I'm evil - I'm good' thing. Was she just trying to tip the scale into their favor?

"Harry?" 

Blinking, Harry filed his thoughts away for when he would be able to mull them over and focused on the person calling for his attention. Arthur Weasley, a concerned frown on his soft features, was standing before him with his hand resting on his shoulder. He blushed at the realization that he'd just made Arthur stand there for Merlin knows how long, waiting for him to resurface from his thoughts. "Sorry Mister Weasley, I was just .." Thinking about Narcissa Malfoy's connections ...

"Thinking too hard," supplied Arthur with an understanding smile. "I can understand that, Harry, I do it myself fairly often. In fact, I do it more often than not, it drives Molly absolutely raving mad. I suppose that it is my fault for marrying a Prewett, madness sort of comes with the territory of being a part of that family - don't tell her I told you, her family's reputation is bad enough without my helping it."  

Harry cracked a smile at the older wizards dramatics. "Don't worry, Mister Weasley, you can count on me to keep your secrets," he vowed, grinning at the Arthur's relieved smile. "It really is hard to stop once you've started thinking, isn't it. The Dursley's thought I was going mad whenever I stared into space, and whenever I do it around Hermione and Ron, I'm always snapped out of it, or I seem to become the perfect conversationalist," he said, glancing around at the apparently peaceful common room with suspicious eyes.

Arthur chuckled, not noticing his divided attention. "Oh yes, I find myself being tapped on the nose or arm if I so much as begin to daydream as well. Molly seems to think that I'll get some harebrained idea that will include Muggles, or that I'll finally stand up to the Minister on one of those special visits he's been so inclined on making lately," he said fondly, turning his head to look across the room at Mrs. Weasley with an expression of pure love and adoration. It made Harry smile to see, as that type of love was the very thing he had been fighting his entire life for. "That witch seems to know everything about everyone, embarrassing or not. Instincts that rival Dumbledore's, I'm sure." 

Harry severely hoped not, but agreed anyway, the smile still on his face. "I'll have to take Misses Weasley's word for it then," he said, forcing his face to go blank when Arthur looked back at him, his expression confused. "What Muggles have you been talking to, and where?" he asked as seriously as he could, before allowing the smile that he was hiding to reappear. 

Arthur smiled sheepishly then, surprising Harry, and ducked his head so that it was closer to Harry's, glancing Molly's way suspiciously. When he was sure that Molly was distracted, he began whispering hurriedly into Harry's ear. "They don't know who I am yet, but they think that I'm a Muggle, like them," he said eagerly, sounding truly like a child at Christmas, Harry almost felt like the older man was about to begin clapping excitedly. "I've been meeting with them in London, going to one of those dingy bars where they serve the younger adults. They gave me Muggle money, Harry! This is a major breakthrough! Proof that we may yet be able to coexist with the Muggles in a safe, trusting environment!"

For a moment, Harry couldn't believe what he was hearing. Arthur was meeting what was likely a group of Muggle teenagers at a bar that served minors -probably only if they had a supervisor or money backer-, in most likely broad daylight in Muggle London, behind Molly's back. What was he thinking?! "Mister Weasley, how old are they?" he asked, forcing the dim smile on his face to brighten when the older man seemed to visibly lose his enthusiasm at Harry's lack of response.

Arthur pursed his lips thoughtfully for a moment, before giving him a bright smile. "Ah! I believe they are around your age. It's quite hard to tell, really, with all that metal junk they're always wearing. I think that they use their own elemental magic to call it to them, they're even in their tongues, did you know that? Muggles attract metal!" he said, sounding and looking entirely serious and amazed.

If Arthur was someone else at that moment, Harry would have allowed himself to smack his palm to his forehead. But as it is Arthur, he could hardly do anything about it other than warn him. "Mister Weasley, please promise me you won't go back to them," he said quietly, glancing over his shoulder to see where Molly had gone off to, and was slightly relieved when he found her berating Ron near one of the lounges.

When he turned back to Arthur, he felt extremely bad about the way the older man seemed so downtrodden and upset. "Please Mister Weasley, this isn't a good thing, I know what people like them are like, and if you want I can tell you all about them. But please promise me that you won't go back, I don't want you to get arrested, the Muggle Police really aren't respectful."

Arthur's eyebrows rose until they couldn't any further, and he seemed to perk up a bit. "Arrested?" he questioned, puzzled. "Why on Merlin's staff would I be arrested? I've done nothing wrong at all!" 

With a patient smile, Harry explained about the legal drinking age in the pubs of Muggle London and the consequences of an adult serving a minor something other than what was required. Arthur's face seemed to be a war of emotions, one side was exhilaration at the knowledge he was getting about the Muggle world, and the other was growing horror at the fact that he'd served the minors he had been hanging with some pretty heavy stuff. Highly illegal drinks that he'd been assured were perfectly legal for them to consume.

"Good gracious!" cried Arthur, seeming appalled with what he'd done, yet fascinated at what he was learning. "Did I really commit a crime, Harry?"

Harry nodded once, a grimace on his face. "I'm afraid so, Mister Weasley. But if you stay clear of Muggle London, I'm sure whoever saw you will forget. Most Muggles seem to have a short attention span these days, anyway." 

Arthur gave an unsteady sound that reminded Harry of the time Ron cursed himself with the Slug-Vomiting curse, and he almost felt the need to go and grab Arthur a bucket, just in case. "What will happen if I do go back, Harry? Will they lynch me?" asked Arthur anxiously, his face blanching.

Harry didn't even pretend to be serious about his answer. "Yes Mister Weasley, Muggles are so barbaric and behind in the times that they'll be willing to hang you on the spot," he answered sarcastically, exaggerating the motion of rolling his eyes.

Arthur relaxed slightly, hearing Harry's sarcasm loud and clear, he sighed with relief. "Oh, thank heavens. By the way you made it sound, I thought I was going to be strung and hanged in front of a mob!" 

Harry turned a devilish smile on Arthur at that. "If I tell Misses Weasley you might be," he said, only half teasing. Arthur paled and shook his head violently, opening his mouth to protest. Harry held up his hands, ignoring the blood still flowing freely down his wrist from the still open wound. "Unless you promise me that you'll stop seeing the Muggles, or at least the ones I know nothing about, I won't tell a soul, least of all Misses Weasley."

Arthur nodded, a look of utmost relief and amazement on his face. "Yes, deal. You know, if I didn't know you any better, Harry, I would say that you had just manipulated me," he said slowly, before shaking his head and rubbing his fingertips into his eyes. "I must be going out of my mind," he mumbled.

"Who's going out of their mind?" asked Molly Weasley, appearing by their sides out of the blue, hands on her hips and eyes flicking between the two of them suspiciously. 

"No one dear, I was just kidding," said Arthur quickly, smiling a little too brightly at his wife to be believable. 

Harry nodded along with Arthur, a calm smile settling on his lips at Molly's suddenly narrowed brown eyes. "We were just talking about Muggle London's legal drinking age, Misses Weasley," he said, throwing her a dazzling smile. Arthur relaxed even more, seeing the usually firm resolve melting away in Molly's eyes.

"Well I suppose you being a Lord counts as your majority," said Molly thoughtfully, her voice not as quiet as before. "I suppose you're allowed to drink alcohol now. Which I'm sure is well taken care of," the disapproving 'by Sirius' was left silent, as Sirius was still technically on the run from the authorities, but it was clearly heard.

Harry nodded at the both of them, a small smile fixed on his lips. "Right, well now that I've told you all I know, I think I'll go for a shower," he said, smiling a little more cheerfully at the both of them, before spinning on his heel and striding to his room to gather his things. 

"Alright dear! Don't you be too long!" called Molly just as he entered his room, and he sent them a bright smile from over his shoulder. 

He didn't move out of his room until he was sure that everyone had gone, and he let out a small shuddering breath as the portrait entrance banged shut behind the torrent of Slytherin's.

-oOoOoOoOo-

The water was surprisingly warm for being in the dungeons, and Harry was very quickly relaxed by the soothing rhythmic pounding of the water against his skin. It was true that while the school's showers weren't as great as the one in his room at Sirius', it still beat the Dursleys' by miles. Perhaps even Gryffindor towers very own showers as well. 

He was just lathering himself up in the strawberry -it was quite a manly scent, if anyone asked him- shower gel that Sirius had bought for him, and was massaging his still sore muscles when he heard the shower stall near his open abruptly. He had heard someone enter the bathroom nearly as soon as he had gotten into the shower, but he didn't quite know who. That was until his shower curtain was yanked open, and Harry caught a sight of the blonde devil -vampire- through the stream of the water. He immediately spun around, cheeks pinking from embarrassment. 

What the hell is Malfoy doing in my shower stall naked?! He thought frantically, his arms already going to cover his front. He held in a small hiss at the stinging he felt coming from the cut on his arm, knowing that the suds had gotten into it. He was relieved that his hair was long, but annoyed that it wasn't long enough to cover his bum from view, only just the top.

"So .. you're a Lord now, are you Potter? Personally I find that quite hard to believe, seeing as you're nothing but a Muggle-raised half-blood," came the sneering drawl of his blonde nemesis.

Harry squeezed his eyes shut and fought back the annoyed sigh that wanted to escape him. It had occurred to him quite quickly that they were both in the bathroom, exposed, vulnerable, and very alone. Less people to separate them should they duel. He spat out a mouthful of hot water at the tiles in front of him, and turned his head to the right, away from the wide spray of the shower-head and more towards Malfoy. "It shouldn't matter whether I'm a half-blood or not, Malfoy. It's my fathers legacy. I'm hardly going to be denied that, his blood flows through my veins. Now can you go away now that we've cleared that up?" he asked impatiently, already turning back to the shower-head. Well, he certainly sounded loads more confident than he felt.

"Yes, muddied by that Mudblood you called a mother," sneered Malfoy, sounding slightly closer to him than before.

Harry pulled his head away from the shower-head again, fury beginning to bubble up inside his stomach -so much that it was turning his entire torso to knots- at the foul name Malfoy had just cursed his mother with. Why the hell is Malfoy choosing the time where they're both naked to be insulting him and his family?

"I was told that it was quite the scandal when James Potter, a wealthy and promising pure-blood heir, showed an interest in her, a muggleborn who always had her dirty nose buried in twenty books at once, and was an insufferable know-it-all. Sounds like another mudblood we know, doesn't it Potter? Granger, isn't it?" Harry could practically feel the cold smirk pressing against the nape of his neck, and he shuffled a little closer into the spray to ward off any shudders.

"Shut up, Malfoy. It doesn't concern you what goes on within my family, or my friends. You're just another unintelligent pure-blood with nothing but time in his hands. You're a parasite, Malfoy. Nothing more and definitely a whole lot fucking less," he snarled, pushing his wearily bleeding and stinging arm under the spray to get the suds out.

"Oh, tut tut Potter, such language does become you. It does concern me what the happenings are in your family, Potter," said Malfoy with amusement, and Harry could almost feel the sharp smile of his nemesis press into his back, feeling as if it could leave an indentation from its unbelievable pressure. He quivered every time Malfoy exhaled in to his stall, feeling the air brush against the skin of his back. Heat and shame filled his shivering body at the realization that he was thinking about Malfoy's lips, and he fought to rid himself of the blood now filling his cheeks.

"You see, you're a golden ticket to a much higher social standing in the Ministry and public. An express ticket to where we want to be, if you will. And I believe that is in your best interest to play the gullible Gryffindork and give me what I want and so sorely deserve."

Throwing humility to the wind, Harry turned around to face the blonde, glaring darkly at the lazily -and muscular, wet and racy- smirking vampire before him. Now was not a time to be distracted. "And who says that I should? You're just a spoiled little ponce who expects to be given what he wants whenever he wants with not a clue to his name. If you knew anything about Gryffindor's, you'd know well enough that we're capable of many things, gullibility not being one of them. So you might as well clear out now, because I'm not giving you a god-damn thing," he snarled hatefully, taking in the stunned and darkening look on Malfoy's face with satisfaction paramount to anything else.

******WARNING******

And then the world blurred into a mixture of dark greys and blacks, and a tingling began at the back of his neck.

It took him only moments to realize that he was now being pinned against the freezing wall of his shower stall, but when he did he immediately began fighting Malfoy's tight hold, yanking and twisting his hands in Malfoy's steel grip with little to no success. What the hell is going on?! He screamed inwardly. He snarled as the steel grip tightened, but kept on fighting and twisting his hands and wrists. He couldn't believe the nerve Malfoy had, to manhandle him into such an embarrassing position. His chest was pressed against the cold tiles, his anger flushed back arched to mould Malfoy's unforgivably hard and wet front. He thrashed and snarled, fighting to slip free of the blonde demon, but ultimately failing as the bruising grip just kept tightening and hardening.

"GET THE FUCK OFF OF ME!" He roared, using his feet to kick out at the larger blonde pressing him harshly into the wall, only managing to land two hits on the blondes legs before they were being separated by a strong muscular thigh, his right leg being violently yanked up and settled firmly on Malfoy's heated thigh so that he had to keep one foot on the ground to stay upright, and he had to rely on the wall and the muscular body pinning him to keep him there. Malfoy's skin was slippery with water, but it was all made incredibly worse with the slippery suds of body wash still clinging to Harry's skin. 

He was trapped, without a wand and without any experience of this nature. He was beginning to panic, his heart beginning to kick into overdrive and his stomach beginning to turn to knots of anxiety rather than anger. He had never been touched like this, no one had ever seen him naked – he didn't want to be exposed like this! This was entirely too new and alien, an incredibly enormous step for him to take. And it was being forced by Malfoy.

His magic began to swell up in his chest and respond to the situation, more than ready to bend to his will. But something was stopping him. Something he had yet to understand. It was the emptiness in his chest. The same fucking thing he'd had for weeks. "Get the fuck off of me, Malfoy! I swear I'll fucking kill you if you don't!" he snapped breathlessly, the air in his lungs moving in and out too quickly to put any real amount of force behind his words.

"No," drawled the deep voice of Malfoy, clearly amused and slightly breathless with his struggling. "I quite like this position. You've really become quite the delectable creature, Potter. Quite beautiful. I wouldn't be surprised if you had people of all kinds tailing you all the time."

As confused as Harry was, he couldn't help but notice a certain part of Malfoy's anatomy standing to attention against the small of his back. A rather large and searing hot piece of anatomy. He forced himself to breathe at the feeling, but that didn't stop the majority of blood in his body from gathering in his cheeks.

Before he knew it, Harry was having to force himself not to shudder, either in pleasure or revulsion he didn't know -although he was more than willing to bet that it was revulsion-, as Malfoy leaned his slightly pointy chin on the top of his rapidly rising and falling shoulder and brought his mouth so close to the side his head, that Harry swore he could feel the fluttering of those surprisingly soft lips barely brushing the shell of his ear. 

"What's wrong, Potter?" whispered Malfoy, catching Harry of guard with how breathless and excited his tone was. "Vampire got your tongue?"

And then he licked a tentative and long, fire-hot trail up the outer shell of Harry's ear with the tip of his searing wet tongue.

Harry's toes curled against the tiles, his fingers tried to clench into fists - but were ultimately stopped by Malfoy's elegant fingers suddenly winding between them. His chest began to tighten and he began to feel hotter than any fire ever made him feel.  This feeling was entirely unknown, his body a bundle of nerves, an undiscovered land of pleasure and surprise. He was scared.

"N - no," He denied, twisting half-heartedly in Malfoy's strong and overpowering grip in one last attempt to free and save himself from the steadily rising tide of pleasure that Malfoy was inflicting upon him. The hot and slick tongue seemed to recognize that the fight was beginning to fade from Harry's body, as it immediately began exploring the entirety of his ear, teeth beginning to toy with his lobe. Harry was distracted enough by the fiery sensations that were shooting sparks throughout his body not to notice that Malfoy had transferred his left hand to join his right in the other makeshift bond, until a perfectly soft and firm hand smoothed its way down his quivering left arm and trailed all the way down his entire left side, leaving a trail of electricity in its wake as it travelled. 

He couldn't let Malfoy do this, that would mean admitting defeat, of allowing Malfoy permission to touch his body in such an invaluable and personal way. He wouldn't let anyone touch him like that before, but here was Malfoy, breaking down every small hint of resolve like he was made to. Shivering at the attentive laving of Malfoy's tongue and the sudden chill of the room, Harry splayed his fingers as much as he could against the wall, and willed his magic to respond to him, to remove Malfoy from his person. 

But yet again, the emptiness prevented him, seeming to lock his magic behind some impenetrable door and throw away the key.

His tense stomach was pulled only centimetres away from the wall, but it was enough for the large, hot hand that had been trailing up and down his side to begin sliding its way around his waist, the strong arm tightening around him with each centimetre it gained, so that he was pulled flush against Malfoy's broad chest. He shifted, trying to get comfortable, and froze when he felt the very large and hard piece of flesh pressing into his back jerk. Once ... Twice ... And three times.

"You naughty boy, Harry," purred Malfoy lusciously, nipping at his earlobe teasingly. Harry was completely blindsided by the moan that threatened to escape at the way his name rolled from Malfoy's surprisingly dirty mouth, and he was beginning to drown with the pleasure Malfoy was inflicting upon him.

"I should punish you for teasing me," Malfoy continued, somehow finding enough space between them to pull Harry closer to his chest.

"N - n -" Harry tried to deny, but found that his throat was entirely clogged up with emotion and saliva. He could feel himself becoming even more aroused against the cold unforgiving tiles, and only prayed that Malfoy would leave before he did something extremely embarrassing. Such as moaning.

"I can feel how hard you are, Harry .. how turned on you are just by what I'm doing," He heard Malfoy whisper into his ear, his alluring voice sounding from the end of what felt like a tunnel. He felt like he'd just swallowed his racing heart -lungs and all-, when Malfoy began rocking his hips against his bum, creating such a strong wave of emotion in Harry, that he didn't know what to do other than moan out his pleasure. His blood felt like it was burning him alive in his veins, like it was FiendFyre. At the first thrust between his cheeks, Harry gasped and almost choked on air, the feeling so odd but so right.

"I can hear the blood in your veins, calling to me with its sweet voice .." said Malfoy breathlessly, as if hearing what he'd thought like he'd said it. Malfoy moaned deliriously. "I can feel your heart beating against my chest, almost as if it were mine ..." Malfoy moaned again, pressing his panting chest into Harry's curved spine. Harry was stupid with pleasure, the only thing he was able to do was rock back against Malfoy's slippery length and moan.

"I want you - I want you so much, Harry... from the moment I laid eyes on you .. you were mine.. " Harry barely heard Malfoy hiss into his ear, a sound of passion unknown to Harry's mind or heart echoing within his very soul.

"Say my name Harry .." If Harry had been listening through the thick cloud of pleasure, he would have thought that Malfoy had been about to smack him.

"Draco ..." He keened, bucking his hips back against Malfoy's large length. It bypassed his hungry entrance, a mere tease of what he wanted, and his eyes rolled up beneath his eyelids when he felt Malfoy tense and rock harder and harder into the crease of his bum, sounding like a wild animal as he panted and groaned into the nook of his neck. Malfoy released the grip he had on his other hand in favor of wrapping both of his arms around Harry's soft svelte waist, but Harry cared less about his free arms now that he was being shown the world he'd been missing.

"Draco ..." Harry moaned deliriously, tossing his head back onto Malfoy's shuddering shoulder and arching his back until his shoulders were pressing more firmly against Malfoy's collar bone, his stomach tightening and coiling with a familiar yet totally new sensation. He'd never felt anything like this before; passion so powerful, he was literally out of his mind with pleasure. He felt like he was finally able to breathe, like a window had just been opened in a stuffy room where air was limited.

The feeling of a hand encasing his aching cock and rubbing tenderly and carefully had his eyes squeezing shut in extreme pleasure, and had his hands reaching out at random to weight himself to the world. He didn't realize that his right hand had buried itself in Malfoy's silk-like hair until Malfoy tilted his head to press an open mouthed kiss to his already abused neck. His left hand had snaked around to rub at Malfoy's rutting hips, encouraging the movement by squeezing and rubbing the hip bone there. Malfoy moaned greedily at the touch and worked his hips against Harry's with even more fervor, his erection sliding between Harry's cheeks with each fast-paced thrust.

"Fuck - you're so - fucking - gorgeous.." Malfoy growled, spanning his words out with sloppy open mouthed kisses to Harry's oversensitive neck.

Harry mewled with pleasure, shuddering and shivering from the heat burning through his veins, and the way his stomach began tightening and his cock began pulsing. "A - about  t- to cum!" He gasped, snapping his hips back and forth between the two twin pleasures. Both were so deliciously pleasurable, both equivalent to nothing else on this planet.

Encouraged by Harry's responses, Draco sped up to what Harry would think of as a vampiric speed, and then it was all over. Their worlds burst into a magnificent bright white light and they came together with ridiculously loud moans, their names spilling from each others lips.

“Mine!” growled Draco, scraping his fangs against the slender and beautifully pale throat that was laid out for him in an imitation of something he wanted desperately to do, feeling the blood pounding and racing underneath his tongue as he swiped at the wonderfully bruised skin. However, he didn't penetrate the young raven boy in his arms with his fangs, his instincts didn't give him the need to just yet.

Feeling as if they were draining themselves through their release, they fell back against each other, Draco's forehead against Harry's neck and the back of Harry's head against Draco's shoulder. They panted, their breaths helping to fog the boiling hot shower stall as they calm their racing hearts. Harry didn't know what to feel, as they panted and cuddled against each other, the furious pounding of the hot water that sprayed from the shower head barely making a sound to their ears.

Draco swiped his tongue over the still racing pulse, smirking at the younger man's reaction to his body, before nestling his nose into the crook of Harry's neck and rubbing small circles into the smaller boys soft skin. He smiled at Harry's contented sigh, and pressed another tender kiss to the deliciously soft skin of his shoulder. And that was when the after-sex glow disappeared.

They jump apart as if someone had thrown cold water over them, Draco roughly shoving Harry away from him and into the wall and throwing himself out of the stall.

"If you tell anybody what just happened, Potter, I swear .. you don't want to know what I'll fucking do to you," Malfoy snarled venomously, his entire face losing the pleasure and lust from just moments before, and taking the shape of a vicious and deadly vampire.

Harry felt the emptiness inside his chest sink and expand to include his stomach, but that wasn't enough to distract him from the shock and utter betrayal he was feeling. "No, Malfoy," he said lowly, forcefully willing himself not to shed any tears in front of the demon, his tone and expression dark and threatening. "You don't want to know what I'll do to you if you so much as even think to mention it." 

Malfoy gave an answering snarl, flashing his impressive fangs in a threat of what could have been tearing his throat out, and left with a flurry of motion as he threw the shower divider closed and supposedly gathered up his clothing from the other stall. Harry stood stock still against the wall, not looking away from the shower divider in the case of Malfoy coming back to harm him or do something drastic.

The slamming of the bathroom door was all that Harry heard for the next five minutes that he stood there under the shower spray, still shocked at what happened and reeling from the betrayal of his body and mind. The pleasure was all but forgotten in the light of what just happened.

Malfoy and I, he thought numbly, just standing there and looking down at his still bleeding arm. Just had sex.... And I liked it.

He was in a lot of trouble.

Chapter Text

9. Blood, Teeth and Patience.

The dark water of the Black Lake lapped at the bank with a peaceful rhythm, providing Harry a small comfort in his chaotic mind as the wind played with his long half-curled hair, and cuddled his knees to his chest in an long-shot attempt at giving himself security and comfort. He really needed it after what had happened back in the bathroom, it still brought a quake to his knees and a growl past his lips whenever he thought about it. Which he tried in vain not to do.

The lake was in itself was a well thought out distraction, the soothing waves and nippy wind were merely bonuses.

It was odd to be sitting in a place so familiar, but knowing that you were far more different than the last time you were here. The last time had been after the first attack at the Ministry, the beginning of the end of Voldemort. He had sat on this very boulder, arms in almost the exact same place around his knees and looking out over the lake, but with the fiercest of fires burning within his chest. He had escaped the mothering clutches of Molly Weasley in exchange for the cool air that the Black Lake offered, having found that being anywhere near his incensed friends had shattered any and all attempts at calming down and thinking through things rationally. As they always did.

But as he sat here and listened to the gentle hush of the water soothing over the bank, he couldn't help but think that this was a far more pleasant, if not strange, circumstance. He wasn't entirely as enraged as he had been those few nights, raging at anything and everything; the sky, the water, even the Giant Squid, for the most simplest of things.

No, while he was angry and beyond seething, it was himself that it was all directed at. It rankled him to the point of madness; how could he have allowed Malfoy to use him like that?

He wasn't weak, he was nowhere near submissive in any form. So why had his body betrayed him? For pleasure? He had a hand for that, and anyone else out there that fancied him – which he knew there were, as there were many more sacks of betrothal offers than he'd had in any other year just waiting for him to sort through, now that he'd finally ended the nightmare that Tom Riddle was. He had more than enough time for a romantic relationship – one that Ginny and himself had once had.

Was it his body's way of saying that he was more than ready for sex? No, while he was certainly ready for a relationship, sex was not included just yet. And most definitely not with Malfoy of all people, he was alright with having sex with a guy -not that he'd ever really considered it-, but not that guy. He'd rather have sex with a Goblin than that bastard.

So therefore, the question remains; how could he have allowed Malfoy to use him like that?

He could feel his stomach grumbling its want for food, but he couldn't bring himself to care about food just at that moment. He was still in the mood to wring someone's neck or tear down the castle. He didn't think he could handle sitting down at the same table as the bastard and eat his lunch like nothing happened, it was too much and way too soon. Never would be too soon to see the devil blonde's face. He didn't think he could hold himself back from knocking his teeth out.

And that was an oh-so tempting thing to do right now.

Too many things had happened today, already. First the barrage of bumbling idiots almost blowing up the common room, secondly being injured with by a cutting curse -he was almost sure that it had been Fred who had miscast-, and lastly having to square up with Lucius Malfoy over a simple misconstrued statement! He was inwardly contemplating the chances of Sirius allowing him to drop out of Hogwarts now, because if he already had a headache on the second day back then he couldn't possibly handle being here for the remaining two years. It just wasn't worth it.

"Why didn't you join us?"

Harry didn't turn to face him, not finding the need to look away from one of the two things keeping him calm and sane. "Didn't feel the need to," he replied, ignoring the crunching footsteps leading to the space next to him on the low boulder. "I figured a nice walk out here with the cool air would be better."

"Yes, I myself find shivering, blue lips and most likely freezing fingertips to be far better than food," said Blaise satirically, sitting down gracefully on the cleanest and smoothest part of the rock beside him. "It does absolute wonders for the skin."

"Is there a reason you're out here, other than to give me beauty tips I'm sure I don't need?" Harry asked flatly, staring out at the lake with dark eyes. He didn't want anyone with him, not now or so soon at least. Not until he knew that he could control himself without at least attempting to skin someone, the only thing holding him back from snapping was the serenity and silence that the lake offered.

"Contrary to popular belief, Potter, we Slytherins actually do have a sense of when someone is upset and in need of a friend. It's all about the who is upset that matters," Blaise said, clasping his hands in his lap to keep them warm. "What's happened to make you this way? I understand the part about squaring up to Lord Malfoy - that would put a damper on anyone's day, but usually not this bad … did something happen after we all left?"

"Nothing happened," Harry answered forcefully, looking determinedly at the lake and silently willing the other to leave. Zabini has no business asking him all these questions, they weren't even properly friends yet.

It was silent then, Blaise obviously giving Harry time to calm slightly. Harry was just beginning to think that the Italian was about to leave, when he spoke. "Whatever he said to you to make you act like this, just ignore it. He's not that good of a talker, and he's even less of a people's person. Sometimes I think he only had himself to talk to, that or his parents put him in a – what's that Muggle prison term I heard from Theo? Oh – yes, solitary confinement."

Harry's lips tightened despite the joking tone, making the purple-blue hue pale in the dull light of the grey sun, and he scowled darkly. "I don't know what you're talking about ––"

"Oh please, anyone with a pair of eyes and a brain cell can tell that Draco said something to you," Blaise interrupted impatiently, giving up on the joke. "It really doesn't take a genius to work it out; you're out here avoiding everyone inside and Draco's inside pestering his mum and dad with the most pitiful face I've ever seen. He's annoying everyone, including Lady and Lord Malfoy, with his childish behavior," Blaise snorted indelicately, shaking his head.

"And it sort of helps to have a strong sense of smell," he added slyly, brushing his clothed arm against Harry's bare freezing one, and ignoring how Harry jumped from the touch.

Harry startled. "Nothing happened ––"

Blaise snorted again, turning his head to stare into the side of Harry's face incredulously. "If getting off on each other is nothing, then I'd hate to see what something is, because that scent was amazingly strong for just rutting against each other."

Harry didn't answer, finding his mouth suddenly too dry to speak. If Blaise had smelt what they'd done, then everyone else would have been able to as well. Including the elder Malfoy's and Ernie. And Remus. Poor Remus.

And how did Blaise know that they did nothing else but frot up against each other. As disgustingly embarrassing as that sounds. Heat flooded his face and turned his skin a delicate pink, despite the chilly wind freezing him.

"You don't need to be embarrassed, Potter," said Blaise in amusement, smirking. "It's a natural reaction between two attractive people; they just can't keep each others hands off of one another. I have to admit that it took me a little over an hour to figure out what that scent was, but when I did, it became insanely obvious, especially when I realized that Draco had the relaxed frustration face going on. But I doubt anyone else figured it out, they weren't sitting close enough to smell it, so don't worry," Blaise said, knocking his arm jokingly into Harry's and hardly noticing that Harry neither reciprocated or jumped away.

Harry paled. "It was that obvious?" He asked quietly, hoping he'd misheard.

"Quite," Blaise answered happily enough, unaware that he was making the raven-haired teen panic. "Draco seemed quite adamant that nothing happened, by the way. Something about not wanting to upset his parents, or you."

When Harry didn't say anything, Blaise turned to face him. Harry was staring out at the lake with wide green eyes, his plump lips a small thin line and his lithe body tense and rigid. He was very pale. "But if you're truly worried about it, I could always spell it away for you. Or rip the nostrils out of the faces of anyone who dares to say anything," he added hurriedly, a charming smile settled across his plump dark lips.

Harry couldn't help but smile at that, picturing in his mind the Malfoy's faces without their noses. But that was a bit too close to Voldemort's face, and he shivered as their hair disappeared and they became gaunt and skeletal. The freezing wind seemed to pick up then, carrying his long hair from his once warm back and shifting it to the side of his shoulder. His grit his teeth in an effort to stop them from chattering. "As funny as that would be, I somehow don't think they'd be happy with you."

He was startled when a large warm cloak was thrown around him, and he squirmed when he realized that it was Blaise's robe. "Why –?"

"You looked like you were freezing, so I decided to be a gentleman and give you my robe," Blaise said unnecessarily, smiling slightly at Harry's blatant look of discomfort. However, the smile dropped when he found himself having to fight off the cold, realizing just how freezing it is just a tad too late.

Harry bit at his bottom lip, frowning at the handsome -and surprisingly kind- Slytherin beside him. He looked a little stiff from the cold. Could he really resist helping the person who had just helped him? No, he couldn't. "Do you want it back? I can just cast a warming charm," he offered, sweeping out one side of the cloak to Blaise and ignoring the sudden wash of cold air that met him.

Blaise smirked, although it didn't have its normal amount of mischief and vibrance as he was fighting off the shivers that threatened to shake him, and shook his head. "I'll be fine, I can handle the cold," he assured, moving to hug himself around the waist to keep his arms warm.

Harry rolled his eyes and shed the robe, exposing himself to the freezing wind once again, and threw it around a protesting Blaise. He's been exposed to far worse temperatures than this, he can cope with this for at least a few more minutes. "Yeah, I can see that you're fine alright. Your lips are already chapping up and you look frozen." Pushing aside the queasy feeling in his stomach, Harry took to closing the clasps.

The Italian stopped fussing at that and allowed him to clasp the flaps closed. He seemed a little troubled, but otherwise calm. "Looking at my lips?" He asked, his dark eyes watching him fiddle with the expensive dragon tooth clasps with an indecipherable emotion.

Why anyone would have teeth as a button, Harry didn't know, they were fickle as hell when trying to get them through their opposite loops, slipping back out just as you think they're about to lock together. His fingers stumbled slightly when Blaise removed his hands from the warmth of his robe, but he continued to avoid Blaise's eye. He was having some real trouble with the clasps now.

**** (WARNING IS APPLIED HERE) ****

His hands were suddenly cradled by a pair of warmer, darker and larger hands, his fingers being covered by thicker but equally graceful ones and his palms pressed together in a praying position. Green burned into dark brown as Harry looked up into the face of the Italian Slytherin. "Just repaying the favour, I guess," he answered quietly, remembering what Blaise had said upon finding him. He forced a small smile to his face to relieve the sudden and weird tension surrounding them, but found that it just worsened.

They were so close, their faces just a few breaths apart from each other. Harry couldn't help but notice that Blaise's hands were incredibly warm around his smaller ice cold ones, but they were the wrong type of heat, the wrong type of feel. Their breaths mixed together in a cloud and blew away in the freezing wind, their eyes staying connected to one another as they unconsciously gravitated towards each other. But this was the wrong face, the wrong person.

Harry's cheeks flamed when their noses bumped, and he pulled back enough to breathe without tasting Blaise's fresh and sweet breath on his tongue. "S - sorry," he whispered, swiping his tongue over his dry lips to wet them. What the hell is happening? He thought, unsure about just what was happening.

Blaise's eyes were dark and alight with an unfamiliar emotion as he stared at Harry's mouth, his mouth slightly open as if he was about to speak. But he didn't. Instead, he undid the few clasps Harry had managed to close in quick succession, and slowly, giving Harry time to pull away, pulled the younger and smaller boy into his chest and into the warmth of the surprisingly large robe.

Harry allowed himself to enter the circle of Blaise's arms, unaware of the soft waves and cold wind blowing around them as he was drawn against another muscled chest, this time willingly. But it was the wrong chest.

"No need to be, Harry," replied Blaise in a low whisper, his eyes staring intensely into Harry's own like molten brown orbs. Harry was distracted by a thought that they were the wrong eyes, totally unaware of the cold air pushing his hair past the both of their heads like a long silky black curtain. It was all so wonderfully but worriedly intense, much like the time in the shower that Harry had shared with Malfoy. But it lacked something important, something Harry couldn't place a finger on what. "I want to kiss you," Blaise continued whispering, his face shifting into a confused look of hunger.

Harry was shocked into silence, his eyes wide. Blaise continued staring at him, his brown eyes flickering all over his face like heat seekers. "But I don't know why ... or where," he said distractedly. Alarm bells were beginning to ring in Harry's mind by the time Blaise's head began to dip forward, completely missing Harry's plump and inviting lips in favour of the slightly exposed and lightly bruised pale neck.

A cold nose pressed against the skin just under his jaw, eliciting a small yelp from Harry's lips. And then Blaise was inhaling sharply and deeply. "You smell so good," Blaise breathed, yanking Harry roughly from his seat beside him so that he was straddling his thighs, pulling Harry in more firmly against his torso by the waist. Panic began to swell in Harry's chest at the thought of another situation like the one he'd had in the shower. "Like sweet strawberries, dark chocolate and vanilla ..."

"Zabini – stop!" Harry swallowed down another yelp as a pair of soft wet lips pressed against his jugular, and sharp teeth slowly began to trace the skin there. "Zabini stop, I don't want you to do this!" He grunted, gaining enough space to move his hands to Blaise's rapidly rising and falling chest, where he pushed.

A low whine fell from Blaise's parted lips, and Harry felt the ghost of his hot breath rush down his neck as something hard pushed against the inside of his thigh. He really began to panic then. "You smell so amazing, like nothing I've ever smelt before. Rich, sweet, spicy, heavenly .. I could go on forever and never stop."

"I don't care!" Harry snapped, a low growl in his voice. He was now shoving against Blaise's chest, anger and wrongness filling and twisting his gut something fierce. This was so much worse than what Malfoy had done to him. "Just get the fuck off of me!" He yelled.

A low hiss was all he heard before those sharp teeth were penetrating his skin, and blood began to seep from the wounds there. He was totally unprepared for the red haze that slid over his vision, and a beast from within his chest to roar and run rampant through his blood. His blood was for another, not for him!

He roared as loudly as he could, an animalistic roar that sent birds shooting out of their nests hidden in the tall trees of the Forbidden Forest and animals sprinting from the edges of the tree-line. From his fogged mind, he noticed that other animals and creatures in the forest all squealed, squawked and roared along with him.

Blaise was flung away from him with a powerful shove, and he jumped back off of the boulder. Blaise landed in a crouch, his back arched backward and his gleaming slightly bloodstained fangs visible to all who looked. His eyes glowed red where the white once was, giving the illusion that his dark brown irises were darker than they appeared.

Harry tossed the large cloak onto the floor and snarled threateningly when Blaise made to move forward, his human mind long gone in the heat of the moment and his Valerian instincts taking complete control.

"Harry!" Someone screamed in the distance, but Harry was still focused intensely on Blaise, his own teeth bared in an animalistic snarl.

"Zabini, control yourself! You will not attack him!" Harry heard Lucius Malfoy snap, but he didn't chance a glance in the direction of the blonde man in case Blaise decided to use the distraction to strike.

Blaise took a threatening step forward and Harry snarled, snapping his teeth in anger as the dark teen edged his way closer. As soon as Blaise was close enough, Harry wouldn't hesitate in attacking, he'd rip the head off of the vampire that dared to harm him. Blaise took another step closer, and Harry snarled once more, readying himself to pounce.

"BLAISE!" Screamed a woman, and this time, Blaise responded. The red tinge in his eyes faded and the fangs in his mouth shrank until they were nothing more than normal canine and lateral incisors. But Harry was still crouched and stuck in the haze, unable to calm down until the vampire was further away.

Blaise immediately straightened from his crouch, his face displaying horror and pain as he saw Harry snarling at him, and turned to his mother when he saw no semblance of humanity in the dark haired youths eyes. "Mother I'm sorry I – I didn't mean to –" he tried to say, his tone pleading and distressed.

Lady Zabini inhaled deeply and carefully made her way to where her distraught son stood, eyeing Harry as he growled warningly and retreated a step, she wrapped her delicate arms wrapping around his waist -the only place she could reach and be comfortable-, and pulled him closer to the other vampires and further from Harry. "I know, sweetheart," she said soothingly. "This is exactly the reason why we are here, to help guide and protect you, to help you prevent the wrongs before they happen. You did a very good thing, don't worry son."

Harry forced the fierce prowling beast within his chest to back down when Blaise began to cry, but the roars did not stop, and they did not slow. He had to get away before he couldn't stop himself from tearing Blaise apart. He spun on his heel and tore away from the large group of shocked and wary vampires, not caring where he went so long as he left.

No one noticed him leave, unsurprisingly. Or, no one that cared to reveal themselves.

Chapter Text

10. A Really Bad Day

It was colder in the forest than out in the open, Harry found, as he trekked down the old beaten path riddling the forest floor. It was just as creepy in here now as it was when he was human, if only a little more dangerous now that he knew that Greyback's werewolves were roaming about. He'd long ago lost his enraged mind, having found that it was far more detrimental to his health if he didn't even know where he was going because of the red haze. He was far more lucid now, thankfully.

"Good going Harry, you got yourself lost in the Forbidden Forest on your second day back. Absolutely bang up job," he muttered to himself, eyeing the darker than normal shadows that clung to the trees sides with open suspicion. There were only too many dangerous creatures in here that could kill him, that could snap him like a twig and not care less about it. He really didn't want to find another nasty little surprise that Hagrid kept as his pet, the Acromantula's were enough.

And let's not forget the Centaurs, they were enraged enough with the Ministry's restrictions. They would -with no doubt in his mind- attack or even kill him on sight, and they wouldn't be merciful about it.

If it weren't for the immense feelings of sadness and emptiness in his chest, Harry would have already turned back. But as it was, he couldn't. He'd seen the looks on the faces of his friends and family, the disappointment that they held, and he knew that it was all for him. They were disappointed in him, and at a great level. And rightly so, he always managed to bungle everything up, whether it's attempting to rescue someone, or prevent someone he loved and cared for from dying, he always botched it up. Cedric was proof enough.

He shivered as a great gust of cold wind rushed around him, whipping his hair wildly around his face as it went. "Stupid prat ... should've at least taken that bloody robe, could've helped the cold - ahhh- !" he sneezed loudly, a harsh chill taking hold of his spine. He really could have done with that robe. He winced slightly when he heard the harsh sound of his sneeze echo back to him in the woods. That was way too loud, if the creatures in the forest hadn't already known that he was in here, then they would now.

"Child of man," came a deep, rumbling voice from behind him.

Harry froze where he stood, his shoulders hunched and shaking slightly from the aftershocks of that huge sneeze, and felt his innards freeze with fear. It was a Centaur. Centaurs have bows and very sharp arrows that always seemed to replenish in numbers, no matter if they'd already let fly a hundred of them. It probably had one aimed at him right now. He slowly exhaled and inhaled.

"Have we not warned you that we will not tolerate any trespassing on our land. Have we not warned Albus Dumbledore that we will not spare any who dare to test our patience? Are you so arrogant in your ignorance as to brush aside our warnings? Speak briefly human, before you feel the agony of our arrows, " said -or snapped- the Centaur, pawing at the ground with open hostility, his hoofs tearing up the forest floor and clacking against the collection of rocks.

Harry slowly turned around, fixing his haywire instincts to the back of his mind to not be tempted to arch up to the challenge the Centaur had so clearly issued. He held his hands up in plain view, offering them as a surrender of sorts so that the -- the group of five very large and muscular -and not to mention highly dangerous- Centaurs knew that he wasn't going to do any magic. Centaurs hated magic with a passion.

He cleared his throat of an instinctual growl, and tried his best to keep himself as calm as possible in the face of five angry Centaurs. Three of which had arrows aimed at his head. "I don't mean to trespass -" he held his hands higher when one of the Centaurs snorted and pulled back the already taut string further, making the large bow creak under the strain and bend almost to the snapping point. "- I'd just had a ... a clashing with a vampire. I didn't know where I was until I recognized the fork in the path that leads to an Acromantula nest, and by then I was already too far in to go back. I just had to run."

"Vampires are not creatures of mercy, child, one would not release you until you were drained and they properly fed, do not take us for fools!" barked a severe looking brunette Centaur, his face mangled and gnarled with old but painful looking scars that ran from the uppermost middle of his forehead to the bottom of his left cheek. His pale brown eyes burned into Harry's. "Lie to us again, and you shall find yourself with an arrow between your eyes and your body beneath my hoofs."

Harry was unable to stop the small growl from leaving his throat at the threat issued by the brunette Centaur. He snapped his head to the left and swept the sticky blood covered hair over his shoulder, allowing his smarting wound to take in the freezing air sweeping through the trees. "Well this one did release me," he said through grit teeth, the growl still in his voice. "However unwillingly."

"You are not human," said a pale Centaur, though he voice it like it was a question. He seemed to be the only cool headed being in the group, and reminded Harry magnificently of Firenze, their new Divination professor. He even had the astonishingly blue eyes that Firenze was known for. One of the three armed Centaurs lowered their bow, seeing no reason to attack the pale injured boy in front of them. The other two pawed nervously at the ground, their weapons still raised and ready to fire.

"No," Harry admitted, eyeing the other Centaurs suspiciously. "I, like the other students at Hogwarts, went through a creature inheritance. I'm a Valerian."

The gnarled and seething Centaur who had previously spoken stepped forward, his muscled posture tense and rigid as if wishing to strike him. "A Valerian? There is no such being. You lie," he snarled, his hoof clacking on the flat rock that separated them as he pawed angrily at the ground. It made the other tense Centaurs nervous.

"The stars did speak of change," mused the pale Centaur thoughtfully, his expression neutral in spite of the tense atmosphere. Harry growled low in his throat when the brunette Centaur made as if to charge him. "In fact, they were unusually bright and active the night of the Potter boy's birth. I was drinking from the stream when I noticed the moon glowing magnificently -"

"Have we not sworn to do away with any stray human in our forest, Keenan? Or have you already forgotten the oath you yourself swore to in the dabbles of your childish mind?" the brunette Centaur snarled, rearing back on his thick hind legs and turning on the pale half-man beside him. "He should not be spared for your compassionate nature, he has violated the conditions on which the oath has been set! We must do away with the humans who dare -!"


"Silence your tongue, Noma, it speaks too quickly for your mind to comprehend. This boy is not a human, he is a Valerian," Keenan, the pale Centaur, said lowly, his voice dark. "I suggest you take your leave before you make a fool of yourself."

"The only fool here is yourself, Keenan. You blind yourself with the false light of others, you believe their lies and you will reap the rewards of your negligence upon your return to the herd. I shall see it done," snarled Noma, the severe brunette, his deep baritone voice booming and echoing in the trees as he once again reared up on his magnificent hind legs, kicked his front feet in Keenan's direction twice and took off over a small bend in the pathway, his hoofs clapping the ground as he went until only a few dull thuds echoed back to them.

The other Centaurs seemed to think that his disappearance was for the better, as they relaxed their uptight stances until they were more comfortable in the way that they aimed. Harry, however, was still tense.

"You won't be in trouble for defending me, will you?" He asked quietly, looking in the dark direction that Noma had just disappeared in. The shadows had shifted and curled around the Centaurs form, almost as if acting like a curtain. It unnerved him greatly.

Keenan shook his great head, his long shimmering white-blonde hair flowing in the wind gently. "One must sacrifice for the better of others, Mister Potter. That is a lesson I carry very close to my heart," he said softly.

Harry gave a small smile, despite the fact that Keenan had just inadvertently told him that he would be punished. "You wouldn't happen to be related to Firenze, would you? I swear that I've heard him say that before," he said instead, allowing Keenan to change the topic of their conversation.

Keenan chuckled, and the other three Centaurs relaxed, the remaining armed horse-men lowering their bows and dislodging their arrows. "Firenze happens to be my elder blood brother, as is Myron and Fillium. However, I regret to say that Fillium has long been cast out of our herd, and Myron is always patrolling our forests borders," he said sadly, a small sad frown on his lips. "How is my dear brother? I have not seen him in many a moons aging, is he well?"

"I haven't seen him yet, but I know that he's fine. Professor Dumbledore still has him on staff anyway. I know that much because Trelawney, the other Divination professor, whinges about him all the time," said Harry, smiling slightly. He shivered again when the wind blew around them fiercely. He was very quickly losing warmth, he could feel his fingers and toes numbing.

"Perhaps you should go back to the castle," a grey and white speckled Centaur suggested, his pale white face frowning at Harry's chattering teeth.

Harry began to nod, but stopped when he shivered too violently to manage even a tilt. "P - perhaps I should," he muttered, wrapping his arms tightly around his waist and murmuring a warming charm, rubbing his clothed elbows all the while. The charm provided little to no relief, even if it was cast strongly.

"Your lips are the color of ice, bluer than the sky," murmured a tawny Centaur, examining Harry's face intently with his wide and ethereal chocolate brown eyes.

Harry didn't say anything to that, the memories of Blaise and his words still fresh in his mind. His lips were apparently blue then as well. But as long as no Centaur tried to kiss or bite him, he reckoned that he'd be fine.

"You are not concerned?" asked the Centaur, confused by the intensity on the boys face.

Harry snapped out of his inner thoughts and blinked rapidly. "I'll be f - fine. Just need to get back."

"Then we shall escort you," said Keenan firmly, gazing at Harry intently. "You could fall, and we will need to be there to help you," he said, as if expecting Harry to disagree or fight him.

Harry agreed, to their surprise, and they trotted forward to meet him, their hands already extended to nudge and rub at the his shoulders in an effort to create warmth and to push him in the right direction. Though Harry is a creature, like them, they still would not let him ride them. That was one law that they would not break.

"Lift your feet, Mister Potter, we are walking over sharp rocks,'' warned Keenan, one hand guiding Harry's shoulder and the other pushing aside any low hanging branches that might smack them in the face. The tawny Centaur followed his lead.

"How do you know my name? I don't remember ever giving it to you," Harry asked distractedly, trying his hardest not to stumble on his jelly legs while they were still walking over the many sharp rocks that he'd somehow managed not to notice on his way in. Well, there were a lot of things that he hadn't noticed. Like the fact that he'd probably been smacked in the face by plenty of the vines that Keenan was diverting.

Keenan replied readily. "Firenze often regaled me of your adventures during your time in the forest. He always spoke of your Light, the way it outshines all who were near. I find myself agreeing with his observations, however understated they are."

"M - my Light?" Harry asked, stumbling slightly over a wickedly curved rock that stuck out of the ground vertically. A large hand steadied him, and he sent the tawny Centaur a quick grateful smile, which was returned graciously.

Keenan smiled at the young creature, and couldn't help but to pet the boy's silky head. "Your magic, one would say. We Centaurs are not just stargazers, we are also beings of perception, we can see and observe your magic. Even from afar. Firenze had been ... obsessed with your glow."

"And you call it our Light?"

"What else would we name it? I should not think to say that it is an aura, that would lower us to that Trelawney human's level," Keenan replied, a large grin upon his face.

Harry really was coming to believe that Keenan was an identical brother to Firenze, they had the same white-blonde hair, the same pale milky skin, the extraordinarily blue eyes, the calm temperaments and compassionate natures, and even their smiles seemed to match.

"Fair enough," said Harry, a smile stretching his lips as well.

They walked in silence, the only sounds being the clapping of the Centaurs' hoofs on the ground and the slight ticking noise of Harry's chattering teeth, along with the occasional muttered warmth charm that had little to no effect. It was weirdly cold for a thick forest. Fortunately for Harry, the rocky part of the path had ended, but they were soon traipsing over thick layers of dried leaves that crunched under their feet and dulled the sounds of hoofs thudding on the ground. Not that Harry complained, he was too busy trying to stop himself from chipping away at his teeth.

"The castle is just beyond those trees," said Keenan suddenly, pointing a large hand at a thinning collection of trees that hid the rays of whatever sun was visible and the castle grounds that stretched on forever. They stopped at a small boulder. "I believe that our services are no longer needed here. However, dear Harry, I must warn you that you should not attempt to come back, Noma will only allow you this one visit, the only reason for his restraint being that you are not human. But I fear that if you should attempt to enter our forest again, he will do as the oath demands. He will not spare you a second time."

"But if I'm a creature, don't I have the same rights to this forest as he does?" Harry asked pensively, turning to look up at the faces of the four Centaurs with a small frown on his face. "The oath shouldn't consider me a human if I'm a Valerian, right? So that means that I can come back."

"I do not know," replied Keenan, a frown shaping his ethereal face. "But you would do best not test to the limits of its reach until you know in your mind and heart that it will not affect you. Bear it in mind that no one understands what a Valerian is, dear Harry, you could very well be considered a human. Tonight I shall gaze upon the heavens and consult with the stars on the matter of your being, but I dare not promise that their secrets will be shared."

With a small nudge from the tawny Centaur, Harry was moved rather forcefully towards the trees. "How will you tell me if I'm considered a human or not if I can't reach you?" he asked, frowning over his shoulder at them, the coldness of the wind pushed to the back of his mind for the time being.

"We will find you, dear Harry. You needn't worry," said Keenan, smiling as placidly as ever. "Now go, I believe your human friends are awaiting your return. I shall be seeing you soon."

Even though he was slightly unnerved by the events of the dayHarry still found himself waving to the four Centaurs and allowing for a small smile to sneak across his face. It was concerning just how easily he was able to brush off all the bad things that had happened to him, but he didn't find it worrying. Not really. Because he's used to being on his own, used to healing himself after a bad thing had happened - like uncle Vernon's foot somehow finding its way into his side while he was sleeping, repeatedly. And he was used to fixing himself after completely breaking, in fact, he was so used to it that he was basically immune to the fractures in his heart and mind.

No one knew what happened inside his mind, no one other than Voldemort had even the faintest of clues what it's like, but now he's dead. Not even Dumbledore knew what he thought, and now that he was actually thinking about it, Dumbledore had tried for years to pry open his mind whether subconsciously or unintentionally. His mind, however young and untrained in Occlumency he is, is impenetrable.

"See you later then," he said, waving once again at the smiling Centaurs as he made to pass through the last couple of trees. Keenan smiled widely and inclined his head deeply just as Harry disappeared from view.

And just as fast as he blinked, his smile was gone. He was back at the beginning.

-oOoOoOoOo- 

"Where the hell have you been?" Asked Hermione at the very moment she spied Harry, her tone fierce and demanding, and her expression no different. Ron was stood close to her side, his arm wound loosely around her small waist, which meant that she was unable to put her hands on her hips like Harry knew she wanted to, but she looked no less the protective mother that she was known to be even when wrapped up in her boyfriends arms.

Harry's back tightened with stress, and he knew that he'd be soaking in the Prefects bathroom until the early hours of the morning to relax, there were just too many things happening. "Not right now Hermione," he said wearily, walking around them and into the brightly lit Great Hall. It was already dinner time, something that surprised and pleased him, seeing as his stomach felt like it was eating itself.

"Don't you not now me, Harry! You worried us all sick when you disappeared! Especially after what happened between you and Zabini! What on earth were you thinking? You nearly gave poor Mrs. Weasley a heart attack when she turned to help you, only to find you gone!" Snapped Hermione, following after him with a vicious determination to make him see the error of his ways.

"Harry, answer me!" She demanded angrily, her curly hair curling and frizzing even more with every second Harry didn't answer her. "Harry!"

Harry snarled, turning to face her angrily with his lips still pale and blue and drawn back over his teeth. He had had enough, too many things had piled up and happened too quickly. "I was in the forest alright?! Just stop -!" He faltered then, his body slumping when everything that had happened this summer crashed over him with wave after wave of emotion. He was tired of everything. "Just stop."

"Harry -" Hermione tried to say desperately.

"Just stop, Hermione. I can't do this right now," he said pathetically, his resolve to face them through dinner crumbling away and leaving him deflated.

Hermione sighed sadly, the fight in her draining away for another time. "I'm sorry for snapping, Harry. But you scared me so much when we couldn't find you, we weren't sure if you were in the Room of Requirement or some abandoned classroom, and I - we panicked," she said wearily, watching him try and pull himself together.

"You scared the shit out've me when you weren't there mate, the last thing I saw was you bleeding from your neck and Zabini crying about hurting you. And then you weren't there. I didn't know what to think," mumbled Ron, biting his lip and scuffing the toe of his show on the flagstone.

"Look, I'm really sorry for leaving like that," Harry began quietly, bowing his head and clenching his jaw instead of running his hands through his hair like he wanted to. "But I wasn't in the right state of mind to explain what happened, I felt like I could've torn something apart, I was literally seeing red. It was like something had taken over me, and I didn't know if I'd hurt anybody or not. I didn't want to take any risks, especially with you guys around."

"It must have been your inner creature coming out," mused Hermione thoughtfully, watching Harry intently as if she could see past his skin and flesh. "The instinctive reaction to Zabini's bite would have been instantaneous, you wouldn't have known how to react to it."

Harry was aware of the others seated at the table, of the fact that he was being stared at, but he honestly couldn't care. He felt like turning around and flipping them all -minus the Weasley's and Lupin's- the bird, even if his family ring burnt his finger off. Yeah, he was that type of careless.

His stomach growled loudly in the lapse of conversation, and he laughed awkwardly at the angry sound when Hermione's eyebrows raised.

Ron grinned widely, apparently over what had happened. "Well, the stomach has spoken," he declared playfully, clapping his hands loudly enough to gain the attention of his family and those that hated them that were seated at the table. "Let's eat!"

 -oOoOoOoOo-

"I told you not to eat that pudding," said Hermione dryly, looking over at her boyfriend from her place by the fire.

Ron groaned again and rubbed at his slightly distended stomach, his face scrunched up in pain. "But it was so good, 'Mione. How can something so good be so bad? It was so chocolate-y and sweet and warm and tasted so heavenly ... can you get the House-elves to give you the recipe?" he asked hopefully, even when he groaned in pain again.

"I won't be making that," said Hermione, affronted by even the memory of it. "That pudding was so disgustingly sweet, it could rot the teeth out of your head if you ate even half as much as you did tonight," she tittered, returning to the half finished novel in her lap with a disapproving purse to her lips. She really had the overprotective mother thing down pat.

"Yeah, I still can't believe you ate the whole thing," added Harry, grinning from his position on the floor, where he'd been stretching and writhing about like a cat. They had retreated to Harry's new common room straight after dinner, wanting to be alone and away from the other students and parents -which all stayed in the Great Hall to talk- while they relaxed.

"Hey, don't mock my ability to eat so many things and stay in great shape just because you're jealous," grunted Ron, wincing when his stomach gurgled.

Harry scoffed at that. "Yes, because I want to get fat in my thirties like you will."

Ron frowned. "Who the hell said that I'll be fat? I'll still be in as great a shape as I'm in now when I'm in my thirties."

"Our metabolisms slow down the more we grow, Ron," said Hermione. "By the time you're thirty your metabolism will have just over half the speed you have now, and slowly that speed decreases and decreases until you die."

"You'll be the size of a house by the time you're sixty!" Said Harry cheerily, grinning up at Ron's disgruntled face.

"Then Hermione'll be the size of a shed when she's thirty, and you'll be the size of a planet when you're forty," replied Ron, rolling his eyes as Harry started laughing.

Hermione set her book face down on her open page. "And how do you figure that that'll happen to me?" She asked lowly, crossing her arms over chest. Harry wiggled around to face them so that he could watch Ron dig himself deeper into the hole he'd just made for himself.

"W - well," Ron began nervously, licking his lips. "You eat the same foods that I do - but not as much as me! No, no, you're really thin -!"

Hermione's eyes slowly narrowed. "Are you calling me fat, Ronald?" She asked slowly, dangerously.

Ron swallowed loudly, knowing that he was playing a very dangerous game. "No! You're absolutely perfect! I've never seen a girl more prettier than you! If you wanna see fat, just look at Lavender Brown! She's really laying on the pounds, isn't she?"

Ron was playing dirty, Harry realized when Hermione didn't reply. Ron knew all about the hatred Hermione had for all things Lavender, and he knew that whatever he said about Lavender was always closely watched by Hermione. And it's a smart move on his part, he thought, watching Hermione bite her lip with a conflicted frown.

"I don't care to talk about her," she answered primly, relaxing and picking her book up to find where she was up to. "She shouldn't even be in our conversation. Honestly."

Ron winked at Harry with a mischievous smirk. Works every time, he mouthed.

Harry rolled his eyes and flopped back over onto his back, stretching once again.

"You're going to ruin your joints if you keep doing that," tittered Hermione, turning a page with expert fingers.

"I always ache if I don't," he replied with a yawn, the warm fire beginning to lull him to sleep.

"I wonder if it has something to do with ...." Hermione's voice started to fade slightly, and the room began to fade into darkness.

A hand touched his foot and he jumped slightly, his eyes blinking open a little to see Hermione's slightly annoyed face. "Hmm? Oh, yeah, it definitely has something .." he yawned, arching his back slightly. ".. to do with being a Valerian."

Hermione rolled her eyes and removed her hand, going back to her book with a small huff. "There's no point in talking to you when you're ..."

Harry was asleep again.

"Boy!"  

Harry woke with a start, his bruised arms already jerking up to wipe the crusted sleep and dust from his eyes. It was always dark and dusty in his cupboard, it was a given for dust to be in a cupboard, but the dust always multiplied whenever someone came stomping down the stairs, especially someone like uncle Vernon.

"Boy! You better be awake and cooking our breakfast!" roared uncle Vernon from above, feet clanking on the carpet covered stairs.

Oh no! I forgot to make breakfast!  he thought desperately, shooting up in the small cot that aunt Petunia had found in a garage sale down the way. It was small and could barely fit their three year old toddler, let alone Harry, but he didn't mind. It was one of the few things that he'd been allowed to keep for himself. He only wished that it was bigger. He hurried to yank his grossly over sized shorts and shirt on, and scuffed his feet into the uncomfortably small and tight shoes that they'd given him 'out of charity'. Harry only wore them because they 'spoke' to him, which meant that they'd broken long ago and there was now a mouth were the sole of his shoe should be. 

The metallic sound of the lock flicking open on his door had him shoving his glasses on, and he was very nearly blinded by the early morning light. Before uncle Vernon's blistering red face obstructed the view of the sunlit hallway. "You lazy, little freak," he hissed, his mustache wiggling on his upper lip. "Thought you could laze about the house while aunt Petunia slaves about, didn't you. Well I'll show you!" he growled, reaching in and yanking young Harry out by the neck of his large shirt. 

"But I didn't -!" Harry tried to plead, but found himself on the receiving end of a backhand. He fell to the floor with a dull thump and cradled his red smarting cheek gently. He knew better than to speak out of hand.

Uncle Vernon loomed overhead, his hands already undoing the large leather belt wrapped tightly around his hips. It slithered from the loops with a sharp hiss, a sound Harry had accustomed to beatings and dangled before him. "It's your job to serve breakfast, boy," he said dangerously, his lips a thin line underneath the thick blonde mustache. "And what did I smell this morning when I woke? Nothing!" he roared.

"I'm sorry! I was tired, I -!"  

THWACK.

"Did I ask you a question, boy?!" snarled uncle Vernon viciously, his hands tightening on the softened end of the belt until his knuckles were paper white. Harry paled at the sight of his enraged uncle, and the leather belt that gleamed wickedly in the morning light. "Take off you shirt and lay on your stomach!" 

Young Harry did so immediately, knowing that if he made his uncle even angrier, the punishments would be worse. He bared his small scarred back to his uncle with no sound of complaint or pain, his baggy shirt bunched up in his small left hand. The first lash forced him to bite his tongue, his smarting cheek forgotten in the burning pain on his upper shoulders. It was uncle Vernon's favorite place to hit him.

"You're just like your bitch of a mother; lazy, stupid and good for nothing," snarled uncle Vernon from above him, raining the slashes down upon poor young Harry's back with reckless abandon, uncaring that some of the welts crossed over the others and drew blood. "A waste of space!" Harry's mouth welled up with blood from his tongue at the harsh blow.

"Your stupid drunk of a father was just as bad," sneered uncle Vernon, still raining lashes upon Harry's reddening skin as if he did it naturally. "He was always slapping your whore of a mother around, drugs in one hand and alcohol in the other. Pitiful, disgusting, worthless, a gutless little worm! It's a good thing he's dead, else he'd be slapping you around as well! You should be grateful that we're as kind as we are!" he spat, delivering a particularly loud and harsh lash that echoed in the house and had blood immediately welling up and sliding to meet the other stripes of blood on Harry's young skin. 

All throughout the beating, Harry said and did nothing, only swallowing the blood in his mouth that he knew would make a return visit later that day. The pain on his back was unbearable, it seared and roasted his skin as if he was hovering over an open flame. There was no one that would help him. He was on his own. 

Fortunately, the beating was coming to a close, as uncle Vernon had begun to pant and lose energy above him. He brought down the belt one last time, making sure that the little sharp spike on the buckle actually embedded itself into his skin, and dragged it slightly so that it pulled at his skin. Harry very nearly bit off his tongue at that, but it wasn't something he was unused to. "Clean this mess up, boy. I'd so hate to do this again," said uncle Vernon, clearing his throat and quickly re-situating the belt around his hips again. 

Just as Harry had sat up, rather gingerly, and put his large shirt back on, Dudley came pelting down the stairs, his large pig-like face stretched with excitement. Harry didn't say anything as Dudley shoved him aside, feeling too drained to feel any sort of anger for his annoying cousin. 

However, before Dudley could make it even as far as Harry's cupboard door, his foot caught on a rather wet patch of blood on the carpet, and before Harry knew it, Dudley was wailing at the top of his lungs, his hands already clutching his knee and his arse firmly planted on the floor right in the middle of the oval of blood where he had just lain in pain. "MUMMY! DADDY! HARRY TRI - TRI - TRIPPED ME!" He screamed.

"What?! Oh, my dear Duddykins!" Harry heard aunt Petunia screech from upstairs, and a small amount of ruckus was heard coming from the kitchen as uncle Vernon raced around, shoving his cup of tea so hard onto the table that it cracked and slopped the beverage all over the place, completely soaking his morning paper.

"POTTER!" roared uncle Vernon lividly from the kitchen doorway, the vein bulging so far out of his forehead that Harry wondered if it were about to explode and likely kill him. 

"What have you done to my little angel, freak?!" screeched aunt Petunia fiercely, her bony arms reaching out to cradle and bother with Dudley's 'sore' knee. She had tears swimming in her eyes as she surveyed the 'damage'.

"Nothing! I don't know what -!" Harry tried to say.

Aunt Petunia screamed shrilly, and uncle Vernon rushed towards them, his arms outstretched as if unsure where to go. "What is it? Is he hurt?" he asked quickly, concerned.

"Look at all this blood!" she shrieked, tears making tracks down her face as she cradled Dudley's head to her bony chest. "My poor baby! My poor baby! We have to take him to the Hospital Vernon, he's lost so much blood!"

Uncle Vernon nodded furiously and raced about, gathering up the car keys and a blanket for 'poor little Dudley'. Dudley was crying so hard by now, that it was quite hard to see where his eyes were under all that fat. If Harry looked from afar, he would think that they were all the way down under his chin. The second one. 

"This is all your fault, boy!" accused uncle Vernon lividly, almost throwing Harry into the wall as he helped Dudley and aunt Petunia stand up. 

"But I didn't do it!" Harry denied, shaking his head frantically. It was the wrong thing to do.

Uncle Vernon whirled on him, his fists shaking at his sides and his eyes pure watery fire as they glared down at him. The buckle gleamed with promise. "You're going to get it when we come home, boy," he seethed, spittle flying out from under his mustache. He sent a fist flying into Harry's face, his knuckles cracking into his small nose with a harsh crunch, and down Harry went, where too many feet to belong to just uncle Vernon pelted into his stomach until he felt like liquid was oozing and filling his small chest. "I'm going to --"

"Harry!" 

He snapped awake with a pained cry, his chest heaving for air and his body slick with sweat. His back burned under the expensive shirt clothing him, and he itched to claw at it with his fingers. He was panting, and still in the common room. Everyone had witnessed his nightmare, he knew it.

"Harry, you told me that you were fine," said a teary Hermione, her pale face covered by a small shaking hand. 

"I - I am fine," he answered as best as he could, his tongue somehow numb in his mouth. His chest was still rushing to gather enough oxygen, and he fought to slow it down to a more normal pace in the hopes of calming down. It was hard knowing that he was being watched, but this was his punishment, this wasn't supposed to happen. There was a reason for taking those Dreamless sleep potions.

"You're bleeding, Harry!" cried Hermione, reaching out to touch his jaw with trembling hands.

Harry's back was against the closest wall before he even knew what was happening, and he was breathing in and out deeply, the memories still playing behind his eyelids and screwing with his instincts. To him, Vernon was still standing over him, still reigning terror on his body with that all too familiar leather belt. "Stop," he babbled, sweat dribbling down the side of his face profusely. "Just stop, don't - don't come near me yet. I'm fine." 

"We're trying to help you mate, we wouldn't -" Ron began to say worriedly.

Harry shook his head frantically, squeezing his eyes shut tightly. "No, there's no need. I'm fine. This'll pass." And it did, almost as soon as he had said it, his breathing slowed and he calmed right down. He had been caught totally unaware by that memory, and he felt a deep sense of shame stir in his belly when he realized that he worried his family and friends for no reason. He was fine when he had the potion.

He slowly gathered himself and stood on wobbly legs, mostly having to rely on the wall to keep him up. "See? I'm fine," he said wearily, opening his eyes to smile at his worried friends and family. He felt sick at seeing the Slytherin families standing near by, their faces blank but intense as they watched him. Ernie was wide eyed and teary, his mouth working silently as he watched on.

"I'm going to bed, okay? Good night," he said hurriedly, booking it to his room as fast he could move and ignoring the people still watching him. His door slammed shut by itself when he entered his room, and the fire roared into life almost in greeting. His magic seemed to be taking on a more helpful edge than the usual destructive one that he was used to, if he had been human, this entire room would have been destroyed and shredded into pieces. But he wasn't willing to think on that. He was quick to strip off and gulp down a Dreamless sleep potion, more than willing to forget that the day had never happened. 

He settled under the thick duvet covering his bed, his arms wrapped around the knees that were pressed against his chest, and humming a calming and nameless tune to himself from out of nowhere. 

The last thing he remembered thinking that night, was; Why does everything bad always happen to me?

Chapter Text

11. Mates, or Nah?

 

As distraught as his chest may be, Draco stood unimpressed and stoic by his parents. The flurry of redheads had taken over the couches and available seats by the fire almost as soon as Potter had shut his door, their faces showing an intense bout of self-loathing and guilt a. The Weasel and mudblood were the worst with their devastated looks. He'd never seen them so heartbroken before. It was odd, and slightly refreshing.

It was almost amusing when they began to whisper amongst each other, every once in a while eyeing the group vampires all standing by the entrance of the common room. Draco was almost tempted to snicker aloud, to point out that they could all hear what they were saying, no matter how quietly they whispered. But then again, what would be the point? He'd rather hear what they had to say about Potter.

“He said that he wasn't having anymore nightmares,” Granger whispered quietly, her face pale and drawn as she stared at the door her best friend had just passed through. “He said that he was fine ... ”

Well obviously he's not. Merlin, you'd think that they've been friends for five minutes rather than five years, he thought distastefully, inwardly sneering at the snivelling adults and teens who were seated. It's almost like I know more about him than they do.

“I didn't know that he was still having them,” said the Weasel quietly with the most pitiful face by far, taking hold of his girlfriends small shaking hand and squeezing it delicately. "He didn't say anything about it to me, the last I'd heard about it was before the final battle."

"He's too good at hiding things," said the short metamorphmagus woman -that Draco had only recently just found out is related to him- from beside the ex-professor that always follows Potter around, her small hands cupping her delicately swollen stomach. He could easily tell that she was pregnant. "We probably don't know half the things that that boy goes through. You remember that muggle woman, Rem? What she said to Harry the day he left?"

The werewolf nodded solemnly, his large scarred hand reaching to pet at the distended stomach of what Draco assumed to be his mates, swollen stomach. "Petunia. Yes. It's quite hard to forget about her when she said all of those things. Absolutely horrible."

"And just what did she do to my Harry?" demanded the Weasley matriarch tensely. She disregarded the warning looks she got from the others and continued to stare fiercely at the couple. The looks she saw on the mated couples faces, made her hiss angrily. "Ooh if I had it my way, that bitch of a woman would never see the light of day again. All those times that poor Harry came to us half starved and skeletal, looking like death warmed over ... " she sighed wearily, her brown eyes beginning to gather tears in the corners. "I'd never let that monster live in comfort ever again. To do those despicable things to a child, utterly monstrous!"

Draco's eyes narrowed into slits, almost losing his composure as something ticked violently in his chest. The same bloody thing that had been annoying him for ages, ever since he'd inherited the creature blood in his family.

"He forgave her," said the ex-professor softly, his scarred face indicating the level of distaste and disgust that he could never express vocally.

Draco exchanged surreptitious looks with his parents, knowing that whenever the foolish Gryffindor's would leave, Potter would be their topic of conversation. After all, it wasn't every day that one hears about the apparently despicable home treatment of the savior of the world. Draco didn't know about the others, but he would glean as much information as he can out of the only reliable source and add it to the 'important pile' he has on Potter in his mind. This was just tinder to the future flame between Potter and himself.

"He is too kind," said the Weasley patriarch sadly, his weathered face showing nothing but pain. "It's almost as if he forgives any wrong doings against himself, but cannot let go of the pain of others."

"Either that or he hides his own pain too well," murmured a raggedly handsome Weasley, the only one of the lot that Draco could ever consider at least half handsome. "Did you see his face that time when the twins gave that whale of a kid one of their pranks? He looked like he was about to die he was so scared."

Potter... scared? He thought dazedly, trying to recall a time where Harry Potter had even been a teensy bit afraid of something. There was nothing. Not even that time in first year when they ventured into the Forbidden Forest and that mysterious figure began to stalk them was Potter scared. In pain from his scar, yes. But not afraid.

Draco witnessed another surreptitious exchange of glances, this time between his parents and the other adults, and only barely managed to catch Blaise' himself. It was almost as if they were invisible to the Weasley's and co, a good thing mind. Blaise allowed his head to tilt in the direction of Potter's room ever so slightly, and flicked his dark eyes towards the clutch of Gryffindor's. Draco nodded back.

"But Harry's never been afraid of anything," said the Hufflepuff werewolf ignorantly, unaware of the dark looks being sent his way from the eldest Weasley's. "Not even when meeting that Hippogriff, and that beast was frightening."

Draco could agree, though he was far more equipped to battle that brute now. Bloody chicken couldn't survive one round with him now. If only the thing were around.

"There have been times where I thought he was afraid, but you're right. He's hardly afraid when his life is at stake. He only worries about others and never himself," said Granger reluctantly, though she herself seemed to be throwing the Hufflepuff werewolf daggers. "I think that that's the reason why he took down that Basilisk in the Chamber, he was afraid for the lives of others and not his own. Ginny was his primary concern."

"Well he was bitten, 'Mione, I doubt he even thought he'd survive long enough to destroy the -" the Weasel broke off suddenly, blinking at the silently listening Slytherin's as if just realizing that they were there. That didn't stop Draco's father from being glared at though. "I think it's time for bed actually. It seems that the walls have ears down here."

Granger paled significantly, an unbecoming look on her tan skin, as she noticed them. She stood from her spot on one of the love-seats and hurried to clutch at the Weasel's arm. "I think you're right Ron, it's time for bed," she said quickly, pulling the gangly red haired teen from his seat. "Come on, it's getting late."

The Weasel stood willingly, however much he looked like he wanted to stay and fight, and was glaring over at the silent and still vampires fiercely. The others followed quickly and quietly, allowing for small glares to be aimed at the silent group as they passed. Most looked embarrassed and alarmed at having been heard talking about Potter, the ex-professor and eldest Weasley being the most alarmed. Draco surmised that they were worried, and for good reason.

He just might let slip to Potter that he was being talked about.

It was a small surprise when Molly Weasley pulled her husband to a stop in front of Draco's parents, a small and tentative smile set timidly on her lips. Draco eyed them both warily and with mild disdain, confused as to what the red haired woman was doing. The Weasley matriarch stood silent for a moment, just looking at them with those warm brown eyes as her husband stood stiffly by her side. Just when Lucius was about to snap, she spoke. "Good night," she said softly, inclining her head in a small nod.

Draco could see the surprise on his parents faces, even though no one else could, and was severely surprised himself when his mother actually nodded back, a small and true smile on her regal face. It was the most positive emotion she'd ever showed towards the Weasley's. "Good night," she replied softly. Lucius nodded back, his cold grey eyes staring into the Weasley's brown and blue ones.

Draco didn't say anything as the rest of the Weasley's passed by them, allowing the monumental moment pass and drain away with the tense atmosphere like a bath draining away water. As soon as the portrait door shut with a soft click and locked with a loud clank, Draco allowed himself to relax. That was a very rare and confusing moment for them, seeing as Malfoy's and Weasley's had been going at it and feuding with each other for a few centuries.

"What was that?" he asked cautiously as he swept away from the raised platform and headed towards the large floor to ceiling window. The water was darker and murkier down here, but it revealed so much more of the Mermaid city that the Slytherin common room couldn't see. He could even see a few Grindylow's cluttering the long sweeping plants.

"It was an offering," said Narcissa calmly, moving gracefully from the platform and joining her son in front of the window, her expensive robes swishing and sliding around her legs with a quiet hiss. "Our families have fought for many years and over many things, Dragon. When Mrs Weasley approached us with the intent to greet, and not harm, she called for a ceasefire; a truce."

"It was not unwelcome on our part, but I'm sure that she will have an argument on her hands once they are behind closed doors. If they aren't already arguing now," said Lucius with amusement, his cane clicking against the flagstone floor as he strode towards the vacated seats. He took the one closest to the fire as the others moved to settle around him, his cane resting over the arms.

"Mmm, I wonder how long it will last before one them snaps," mused Marianna Zabini with a sweet smile as she settled herself on one of the plush love-seats. She crossed her legs and settled her hands in her lap. "These Weasley's are a little bit uncontrollable, don't you think? But that rugged man with the long hair ... He is rather handsome -"

"Don't mother," groaned Blaise, seating himself rather forcefully in the seat beside his mother. "I don't think I could handle having that William as a potential stepfather. And don't you have Ricardo waiting at home for you anyway?"

Marianna smirked, her dark eyes flickering hungrily in the firelight. "Yes, but he is never home. We Zabini's are insatiable creatures of lust, Blaise. We need someone who is with us for longer than ten minutes. Ricardo is hardly worthy of my attentions if he is barely with me for five," she said sweetly, sharing a rather mischievous look with Narcissa, whom smirked and laughed.

Blaise, as well as Draco, pulled disgusted faces and sat back in their seats. Theodore looked quite interested, but kept his eyes to himself as his father rumbled a laugh beside him. Lucius smirked.

"But still, I believe these Weasley's will snap. Most likely that Ronald one, he is a firecracker ready to explode, don't you think?" asked Marianna, pursing her lovely lips and looking from one of her old friends to the other. She could always count on her friends, no matter how Slytherin they all acted, they were there for one another. Especially now that their children were in need of guidance, each parent was needed to help them. Just the memory of what her son did today to Harry Potter, and how the boy reacted ... So many things could have gone wrong for Blaise, but she was thankful for Potter's strength now more than ever. If he hadn't have left -which she saw, but knew that hardly anyone else did- then Blaise could be dead, or the very least in the Hospital Wing.

"Yes. With each generation in the Weasley family, each son grows more and more brutish and thuggish than the previous. That Ginevra girl is a cause for alarm, first the Chamber of Secrets and who knows what else. Makes me wonder just what they're feeding them," said Lucius with a smirk that faltered when Narcissa sent him a narrowed eyed look.

Silence reigned for a moment, the slight jest and humor gone at the mention of the Chamber and that grizzly situation. If it hadn't have been for Potter, Lucius just might have been arrested, or even in Azkaban on the charge of murder. Potter and his two friends had obviously seen the diary that Lucius had given to the girl, and would no doubt have told the authorities had someone have died. It was a secret Life debt that no one had mentioned to Potter. Because even though Potter knew about Lucius' involvement, he hadn't told anyone. Neither had the other two.

Someone cleared their throat. "Well," said Lucius uncomfortably, more than willing to change the subject. "I believe that a drink is in order. Tippy!" he called.

A well cared for House-elf popped into existence to the left of Lucius' chair, its long slender hands clutched together and its large bald head bowed submissively. "Master Lucius be calling for Tippy?" he asked in a high pitched voice, his head still bowed respectfully. Lucius had obviously learned from his past mistakes and had taken to properly caring for his House-elves, he didn't need Potter to gain more of them. Dobby had been one too many.

"Yes, I would like three tumblers and a bottle of the most expensive brandy you can find," drawled Lucius, watching Narcissa as she stayed silent and didn't refuse the drink, which she was known to do. She stared into the fire with intense azure eyes that darkened and lightened with the flames. The popping of the House-elf disappearing was not enough to disturb her. "Narcissa?"

"Cissa?" asked Marianna quietly, catching on that something was wrong with her friend. "What is it? Is something wrong?"

Narcissa blinked the flames out of her eyes and turned to Marianna. "Yes?" she asked, unaware that her husband and her friend had been asking her questions.

Marianna frowned in concern. "Is something the matter? You look a little dazed."

"I'm alright, it's just .." Narcissa tried to say, but trailed off with a small frustrated growl. Lucius frowned and straightened in his seat, slipping his cane to the side of the seat so that he could have a quick exit if needed.

"It's just what?" He prompted her, ignoring as his son tried to catch his eye.

Narcissa was quiet for a moment, her face an impenetrable wall to the others as they tried to catch sight of an emotion, any emotion. Lucius was about to shake her and demand her to speak, regretting the fact that his wife knew how to mask her emotions just as well as he could, when she spoke. "Did anyone feel sick to their stomach witnessing the Potter boy's nightmare?" she asked lowly, her eyes focused on the floor in front of her feet. She supposed that it was her instincts as a mother that she detested the sight of a writhing child, regardless if it was Harry Potter, the supposed enemy of her husband's old Lord. Her insides had tensed and writhed along with the boy, her heart going out to him as he let out small pained cries. It had taken almost everything in her to resist going to him, to resist shushing him like she would Draco when he was younger and caring for him, when his mouth began to bleed from what she suspected was him biting his tongue.

She knew what it was like to have a dream like that, her husband had suffered the same at the hand of the Dark Lord when he had risen many years ago and recently, but she couldn't help but think that Harry's were worse. It wasn't often that she would see a child in the throes of a nightmare, as Draco had been lucky in never having one, but seeing Harry bite his tongue hard enough to have blood run down the side of his face ... it was obviously completely horrid and worse than she can imagine.

Marianna lowered her gaze from her best friend and also looked at the floor, and had to blink back tears when Blaise clutched at her smaller hand and offered his shoulder as support. "I felt it," she admitted quietly, moving to cuddle into her  strong son with wet eyes.

"What does Potter have to do with this?" asked Draco contemptuously, scowling and crossing his arms across his aching chest as his mother and Lady Zabini began to cry. Sure it almost hurt every time he remembered Potter's writhing form on the ground, his pained expression and the small trail of blood that leaked from the corner of his mouth, but he wouldn't cry about it. No matter how shocking and sickening as it is. Not that he cared as a friend for Potter anyway, they were enemies. They were out to get each other, and no amount of shower sex could or would change that. Regardless if he enjoyed it more than flying his broom or impressing his father. 

Narcissa ignored her son and remained quiet, allowed for the tears to come easily as she slowly lowered her emotional barriers in the presence of her husband and friends. She heard Draco make a small noise, and almost smiled when her stubborn child gave in and cradled her with his firm arms, tugging her into his broad chest and allowing her to press her face into the crook of his shoulder, where she cried. As much as her baby liked to pretend that he was an adult, he wouldn't turn her away whenever she cried.

Lucius was still seated beside the fire, watching his wife and son support one another with quiet and intense eyes. He knew what the two mothers were talking about, he had felt the paternal instincts within him stir and ache to hold the writhing boy on the floor. But as it was Potter, the son of his deceased enemy, he couldn't. Especially not within range of the Weasley's. He had been surprised and annoyed when none of the fools had even so much as bent to help the poor child, instead choosing to watch from their spots in the entrance as if watching something extraordinary and fascinating.

Lucius had at least expected the Granger girl and Weasley boy to attempt to wake Potter, and was annoyed above all about the lack of action. If Potter had been his son, he'd have been cared for by the most tender of hands and gentlest of hugs. He wouldn't have let the boy go until he was ready. There was no telling of exactly what the boy had endured, especially as the many times the Dark Lord had connected with him were sporadic and varied in attention, whether he wanted to crush the boy emotionally or psychologically.

"Why does everything always go back to Potter?" asked Draco quietly, pressing his lips to the top of his mothers head softly.

Narcissa smiled through her tears, a small laugh slipping past her lips. “That boy has been through so much Dragon, so many things have involved him that I don't think that there will be anything else that doesn't include him. If I didn't think otherwise, I would say that he is your mate,” she joked through her tears, unaware of just what she was saying.

Something about 'Potter' and 'mate' being in the same sentence jolted the sensation in his chest, and he felt his breath catch in his throat. It was just a joke, right? We're not really mates .. are we? He asked himself hesitantly. He hadn't exactly been mean to Potter since his turning, had he? Even when baiting him in the showers, he hadn't properly provoked him. Sure he'd insulted his deceased parents, but he hadn't even gotten Potter to react with the usual amount of violence. And even when he had … he'd almost ended up fucking him against the wall. He'd come so close to it. But it wasn't possible. Potter and he hate each other. There was no chance of anything, especially after what Draco had done to him in the showers and the past years. That's if he'd even wanted anything, anyway.

Which he didn't! He was adamant about that. PotterMalfoy and mates do not go in the same sentence. PotterMalfoy and hate do.

“What's wrong, my Dragon? Why have you gone stiff?” asked Narcissa quietly, concern in her voice as she shifted back from her comfortable position against him. “Is it something that I've said?” she asked. Her teary red eyes widened at the look on her sons face.

Lucius had noticed when Draco's shoulders stiffened, and his eyes had narrowed when he'd seen the intense look of alarm and shock on the young blonde's face. He would later swear that his heart had stopped beating for those few crucial moments when the words 'Draco', 'Potter' and 'mate' popped into his mind. He'd heard wrong, hadn't he?

“Draco? Are you alright?” asked Blaise cautiously, frowning when the blonde didn't respond. He knew something was up, he was sitting near the blonde family after all. Marianna squeezed his hand, and he glanced down at her lovely face to see her mouthing the words, 'Potter is Draco's mate' with a suspicious twinkle in her dark eyes. He himself froze. But then his mind began to catch up. Fate is definitely a twisted motherfucker, he thought wryly, thinking of Harry and Draco together in his mind. And it couldn't be a moment too soon.

“What is it son?” asked Lucius, though he knew almost exactly what was wrong. He was resigned to the idea of having a half-blood in his family, even going so far as to accept Potter already. There was no point in trying to deny a mate, it was futile in the long-run. It was no wonder that he was already accepting Potter before, it was because his instincts could tell of a connection -regardless if he himself had had no clue- between Potter and his family. There was a reason why Narcissa felt the way she did about Potter. Why he did.

“There's a reason why I feel like my heart is in Potter's hands, isn't there?” asked Narcissa, almost reluctantly, stealing the words right out of Lucius' mind. Well, there is a reason why they're mates.

Draco swallowed loudly. “No. No, I don't think there is,” he said forcefully, his eyes melting from their relaxed light metal to storm grey and turning hard. Lucius winced, knowing that they were going to have to put up with a stroppy teenage vampire, let alone a cranky Draco.

Narcissa must have seen the same thing, as she herself closed her eyes and internally prayed for patience and mercy. “Potter is your mate, isn't he?” she asked hesitantly. Lucius cringed into his seat, knowing that she'd just willingly set off their son. This was not going to be good.

No, he's not,” stressed Draco, shoving his mother away from him and jumping up from his seat. He stormed over to the large window, just as Tippy the House-elf apparated back into the room with a tray filled with three tumblers and a large crystal bottle of brandy hovering above his head. Draco snatched up one of the glasses and the bottle, startling the poor House-elf, and poured himself a drink. He downed it almost immediately and refilled it, planning on drinking himself through the floor before he killed someone.

This couldn't be happening, he couldn't be mates with Potter! What was the world thinking, pairing him with that stupid little Gryffindork?! He didn't deserve this, he didn't want this. He wants children -something Potter definitely couldn't give him-, he wants a wife to come home to after a long day at work proofing legislations, he wants a round woman with firm tits and legs that are longer than anything. He didn't deserve a male mate, let alone Potter!

“Draco,” said Lucius, rising gracefully from his seat and watching his son cautiously. “Drinking will not help you face the facts. Potter is your mate, just as you are his. There is no reason to deny it, it will happen sooner or later, regardless of what you do."

Draco released an agitated growl and threw the tumbler against the far wall, his vampiric strength pushing the glass so fast that it blurred against its surroundings. The sound of glass smashing had Marianna and Theodore flinching, and Blaise pulled tight the arm already cradling his mothers delicate shoulders. Draco took a deep drink from to bottle, seeing that it was easier to drink it straight from the bottle than waste time pouring it into a glass.

“Draco!” yelled Lucius, smacking the tip of his cane on the floor. “Stop this nonsense at once! You are not helping your circumstances by drinking and destroying whatever you can get your hands on! This is the way things are now, you and Potter shall be together. Just accept this! There is nothing you can do to stop it!” He roared.

Draco snarled at his father, large, long and sharp fangs gleaming out from behind slightly plump light pink lips. “I know how to stop this,” he growled darkly, his eyes becoming the red that signalled his inner creature coming out. The alcohol and adrenaline was working its way through his system now, sparks in his brain were shooting off endorphins that numbed his fingertips and tingled in his toes. He was allowing the vampire within to control him. “I can stop this. I can make it go away.”

Narcissa rounded the love-seat with her hands held out in front of her, the horror she felt shaping her face. “Dragon, please stop and think about this. This is your mate, the love of your life. Don't do anything that you'll regret. Please calm down.”

“No,” Draco laughed madly, slamming the bottle on the small table by the window. It smashed in his hand, but he hardly felt the sharp chips biting into him. “I don't want him, I want someone else, someone who actually deserves me. I can't believe you'd even want him anyway! He's a filthy little half-blood! No better than a mudblood!”

“This is all backwards,” whispered Blaise, horrified by what he's witnessing. “Draco should be the one defending Harry and Narcissa and Lucius should be denying him.” He'd never seen Draco this angry or agitated before, and he worried that the same thing might happen to him if his mate isn't deemed good enough. He didn't want this, he wanted to someone to love, not like his mother or anyone else. He didn't care about blood status.

“Denial makes for an ugly vampire,” replied Marianna quietly, pale in the dark lighting as she gripped her sons hand and tightened the arm around his waist. “I've only seen one other vampire deny their mate, and they ended up together anyway. Though times were different then, and the two of them weren't enemies like Draco and Harry are. I've never known a vampire to be mated with an enemy before.”

But they aren't enemies, Draco may think so … but Harry surely mustn't, thought Blaise tensely, moving his mother and himself towards the Nott's, who were standing in the nook beside the fireplace in defensive crouches. Theodore shared a wide eyed look with him, expressing his fear and shock. Nott Sr. gave Marianna a tense frown, his brown eyes narrowed as he glanced at the blonde trio and protected his son with a restraining arm across his chest.

“Draco, blood status does not matter to us anymore,” said Lucius calmly, realizing that any yelling he does will only make Draco more hyper. “The Dark Lord was powerful, but a half-blood like Harry -”

Harry? Since when have you called Potter that?” asked Draco hysterically, his mind in overdrive as every instance where Potter and himself had fought came to mind. They'd tear each other apart if they were together, don't his parents realize that?! “Never mind that! Potter isn't going to be in the picture much longer anyway!” He was going to rid them of the problem before it began, he was going to nip it in the bud. No way would he bend over backwards for Potter.

“DON'T YOU DARE!” Roared Lucius, beginning to stalk his son. He threw his cane, not caring where it landed, and circled around the lounges. He was joined by his wife, whom rounded the other side and began to close in on him.

Draco snarled angrily and flew towards Potter's room with vampiric speed, his hands just snapping the door open and closed behind him as Lucius reached him, his face just within arms reach. He sealed the room shut with multiple spells and whirled around to face the other boy, ignoring the loud and forceful pounding emitting from the door behind him. The frantic beating of his heart was all he could hear as he observed the room he was in. The room was dark and warm, a sweltering heat compared to the cool common room outside, and cluttered with a large trunk and a few chests. There was even a few cauldrons varying in sizes stacked carefully on the large study desk near the back of the room.

With adrenaline and alcohol still pumping through his veins, Draco searched the room, expecting Potter to be awake and standing crouched before him.

But he wasn't there.

He was in his bed, his long black hair fanning out on the pile of fluffy pillows around him, the ends reaching and curling just slightly over the sides. He was sleeping peacefully, his beautiful face devoid of any emotion that betrayed panic or fear. The trail of blood from before was still on his cheek, though it was dried and slightly smudged, looking like he'd attempted to swipe it away but hadn't quite managed it. Draco longed to lick it away, to taste his sweet blood before he died, but he couldn't bear the idea of drinking him dry.

He had to do it without tasting his blood, or else he'd never allow Potter to die.

“You did this to me,” he trembled, stepping closer and closer to the sleeping boy, his hand reaching into his robe pocket to grab his wand with shaking fingers. His hand shook as he aimed his wand at Potter's small but steadily rising and falling chest. “You must think you're so smart, so strong, so invincible. Well you're not. You're weak, stupid and disgusting. You're just a filthy little half-blood.” He had to do this, he was not going to be tied to Potter of all people. He would rather no one.

Multiple hands pounded on the door behind him, but Draco paid it no mind as he approached the large bed. Approached the small delicate boy laying in it. 

Draco don't do this! Open the door!” he heard his father yell, and was echoed by the other vampires out in the common room.

It was a wonder that Potter hadn't woken yet, as the banging on the door was far louder than what the Weasel had been doing this morning, but Draco was glad for it. He didn't think he could handle looking someone in the eye and then killing them. Especially the vivid green eyes of Potter's. They were so unnaturally bright and green -- a mad laugh bubbled past his lips. Was he just thinking about the color of Potter's eyes? He surely must be going bonkers.

“I know that me killing you after all these years of the Dark Lord hunting you will be ironic,” he let out a small shaky laugh, raising his other hand to help support the one aiming his wand. “But if you think about it, I'll be putting you out of your misery. You won't have to suffer through those nightmares any longer … better me kill you than the Dark Lord, isn't that right Potter.”

He opened his mouth, ready to say the magic words. But nothing came out. Potter snuffled in his sleep, his eyes fluttering back and forth underneath the thin eyelids, distracting Draco as his eyelashes fluttered against the tops of his cheeks. His little mouth opened in a delicate yawn, his chest rising just a little bit further and filling with more air, before releasing it in an almost silent exhale.

Draco panicked for a moment, not sure what to do as he didn't want to look Potter in the eye whilst he cast the killing curse. But Potter didn't wake, and he was allowed to breathe normally. The scent of something tangy and reminiscent of Severus's Potions classroom was in the air. His eyes followed his nose as the smell grew stronger on the nightstand to the left of Potter's bed. 

He didn't realize that he was right next to Potter until his hand picked up the empty phial and brought it close to his face. He could feel Potter's body heat pressing against his right side, and it took everything in him not to react to it. He forced himself to ignore the memories of Potter's slick body sliding against his, arching and moulding around his body as he rubbed himself in the smaller boys crack. But it was hard.

So instead of getting himself painfully hard beside Potter's slumbering body, he sniffed at the phial quietly. Dreamless sleep potion, he was sure of it. Examining Potter's room once again -and knowing that he was distracting himself and putting off the imminent death of the smaller boy- he located the large chests next to the stack of cauldrons on the study table. 

He wasn't sure what he was expecting when he opened them, but he sure was surprised to see the magically expanded chest reveal sections after sections of potions. They were all numbered and tagged, their name-cards flashing at him with incredibly neat and looped writing. Dreamless sleep, Nausea relief, Pain relief, Wolfsbane potion and Veritaserum -which he was shocked to see!- to name a few. 

"Who - how -? Where did -?" He stuttered, reaching out to run his fingers over the tags. There were more Dreamless sleep and Wolfsbane potions than the others, but Draco paid no mind to it as he slid one of the phials out from its slot. The liquid was in perfect coloring and consistency, perfectly soft like water and not mushy like most potions year five students make. 

Severus must have supplied him, he was sure of it. And Granger must have wrote all over those cards, because he's seen Potter's writing, and he knows how much it looks like an animal scratched all over the parchment in ink. His fathers pure white peacocks could write better than Potter!

"Draco! Don't do it! Open this door!" 

Jerking away from the potion filled chest, he carefully slid the phial back into place and closed it back up. It was time to end Potter, no more putting it off now. 

He strode back to Potter's bedside, his hands less shaky now that he'd calmed down a little. His wand hardly shook as he aimed it at Potter's chest, wary that if he aimed it at the boy's forehead, he would die like the Dark Lord had when Potter had been one years old. However, that didn't stop him from hesitating. 

Should he end Potter's life, just like the Dark Lord wanted to? Could he spend the rest of his life with nothing and no one, just meaningless sex that passed the time and meant nothing to him? Did he want to kill someone, all because they'd been fortunate enough to be his mate? 

Did he want to become a murderer the way the Dark Lord had wanted him to?

"Why are you so hard to kill?" He asked the sleeping Boy Wonder with a groan. Perhaps there was a reason as to why the Dark Lord couldn't do it, maybe underneath all that horror and lunacy, there was a heart still beating. But then he thought about the time he'd last seen the snake-faced man. Yeah ... maybe not.

The loudest roar yet came from the other side of the door, and Draco froze when Potter started to stir. His heart began beating furiously when his large eyes began to open, and he caught sight of two bright green eyes from between two sleepy narrowed slits. His heart almost gave out at the tired moan the tiny man made, but it kicked back into overdrive when the duvet was shifted over a writhing body, and the top of a pale and lightly muscled chest began to be unveiled. Saliva pooled in his mouth and his body pulled tight with lust. His wand was hanging down by his side now, long forgotten in the wake of an erotic limber Potter.

"Wha ..?" Potter's mouth opened with another yawn, and he brought his arms up above his head as his back arched, almost pulling the duvet back to reveal his entire creamy skinned torso. Draco silently panted, knowing that any second he would be found and most likely labelled as a perverted creeper. But he couldn't look away from the mesmerizing flesh taunting him from under the thick duvet, providing much to the imagination that he wanted to see. The memories of what happened in the shower floated back to him yet again, but this time he was powerless to stop them, and he found himself becoming extremely hard in under fifteen seconds. He bit back a moan and shoved his wand back into his pocket, forgetting the plan to murder this man entirely, and allowing himself the pleasure of remembering all that creamy white skin sliding underneath his large hands. He almost let slip the loud moan as two small pink nipples were revealed.

He wanted him, with all his beauty and problems. He wanted Harry. And he wanted him badly.

"Open this door!" He heard his father yell yet again, and only barely had enough time to react. He dropped silently to the floor and slithered under the bed, his heart beating wildly and his erection pressing painfully into the hard flagstone floor beneath him as Harry sat up in his bed. The bed barely moved, but Draco knew that Harry was moving around. A small tentative foot touched the floor to his left, and his eyes widened when he noticed just how close he was to the edge. He carefully wiggled back and away from it, and watched with wide eyes as the foot was joined by its other one. He clenched his jaw as the bed lifted slightly, providing a little more -but not much- room. 

"What the hell's going on?" came Harry's soft voice. It was so melodious when it wasn't shouting and screaming about, and Draco found it hard not to ground his erection against the ground, no matter how harsh it was. He could almost feel his teeth chip from the force he was using, but he had to stop himself from crawling out from under the bed and rushing at Harry head on, his dick hanging out and ready to fuck him.

The feet padded away from the bed and headed towards the almost vibrating door, the steps slowing just as the voices on the other side were turning slightly more violent. Draco almost forced himself out when he realized the his family would try and subdue whoever answered the door, but he couldn't bring himself to leave. He wanted to see what would happen. 

Draco carefully shuffled around, spinning on the spot so that his head was underneath the foot of the bed and his feet were where Harry's head would lay. He saw the small feet stop before the door. "Who is it?" he heard Harry ask. 

"Potter?" Draco's father demanded, and Draco had to suppress a small guilty frown when he remembered that he was supposed to be murdering Harry, and Harry had just answered with a very much alive voice.

"Mister Malfoy?" asked Harry incredulously, and Draco watched in guilt as Harry tried to open the door, only to find it locked under many layers of spells. "What the hell happened while I was asleep?" 

Draco was surprised, and impressed, when Harry began stripping and breaking layer upon layer of spells that Draco had more than exceeded in mastering as if they were bits of string, and slowly was able to finally open the door. Draco couldn't help but wince when the door was shoved open and Harry was propelled back from the backlash. 

"Where is he?" Lucius demanded upon entering the room, his hands quickly going to catch Harry before he fell, much to Harry's utter bemusement.

"Where is who?" asked Harry, dreadfully confused as the Malfoy's invaded his room. He was even more confused at the frantic look in Lucius' eyes, the tears in Narcissa's and the panic on the Zabini's faces, whom both followed close behind the two frantic Malfoy's. What the hell had happened while he slept? Did someone die? Was someone taken?

Narcissa smiled warmly at him through her tears as she approached him hastily, shocking him greatly when she brought him into a motherly hug and pushed his head into the floral scented nook of her neck. "Are you alright?" she asked him quietly. "He didn't hurt you, did he?" The thought of her future son-in-law dead at the hands of her son scared her so greatly, that she completely forgot about the past and focused on the confused teen in front of her. Not to mention the memory of seeing him writhing as if under the Cruciatus curse. 

Aside from being extremely confused, Harry reluctantly relaxed in her hold, allowing himself to breathe in her calming scent with ease and forgetting just who is holding him. The only other motherly woman that had hugged him was Molly Weasley, and he couldn't help but compare the two in his mind. Molly was all about strength, she would crush you to her in a hug that shamed every bear and wouldn't let go until she was ready. Narcissa was all about warmth and tenderness, which he was just finding out as she squeezed him gently to her. He wasn't upset with the fact that she was slightly taller than him, he couldn't care less, his height made it easier to mould himself to her shape. 

"I .. I'm okay, but no ones been in here but me Misses Malfoy," he replied, confused and slightly dazed. The Dreamless sleep was still in his system and potent, therefore affecting his interactive skills and making him drowsy. 

Narcissa's heart began to race when Harry started to turn limp in her arms, and she gasped slightly when his knees began to give out, his arms slackening around her. "Lucius!" she cried, having to hold Harry up as he drowsily blinked at them to keep awake.

Lucius was beside Narcissa in seconds and pulling Harry into his arms the next. He was concerned when he noticed that the boy weighed next to nothing, but hurried to rush out into the common room nonetheless. He placed an almost asleep Harry on one of the couches and hastily waved his hand over the raven haired's body, muttering diagnostic charms that he had learnt from his mother when he was a child and sick with colds incurable by potions. 

Narcissa was ashen-faced and worried as she stood by Harry's still side, her hand itching to reach down and brush one of the boys silky black locks back from his face. 

Lucius sighed with relief as a sheet of parchment whizzed into existence and stepped back to read it, holstering his wand as he needed both hands to hold onto the very long parchment. His sharp angular eyebrows lowered with each line he read, and Narcissa began to weep silently at the intense silence, her hands brushing at Harry's face softly. Harry was already asleep, but he could feel the wonderful sensations. "What is it?" she asked quietly. "What's wrong with him?"

Lucius spared his wife a comforting glance as he continued down the page, his instincts still haywire and tuned into the sleeping teen before him. He obviously didn't care about image at that moment, as he was incredibly concerned about his future son-in-law. He scrambled to get to the bottom, but was unsure if he was skipping anything vital and had to keep going back and forth just to reassure himself.

"He's taken Dreamless sleep potion," said a timid voice.

Lucius allowed the parchment to fall from his hands as he stooped protectively over Harry's sleeping body. Narcissa reacted with much the same way, her long blonde tresses falling from the beautiful up-do that she had had it in before all of this mess had happened. Lucius was enraged, he was beyond angry and disgusted with his son's stupidity. Who was he to pick and choose who he got as a mate? Who the hell tried to kill them? Why would anyone in their right mind even so much as think of it?

The Zabini's slowly rounded around the tense blonde teen and circled the couches so that they stood behind the elder Malfoy's, Blaise holding his arm protectively around his mother, and staring at Draco with narrowed eyes. He was unsure whether Draco was in his right mind again or not, but was not willing to take the chance of allowing his mother to be exposed to an enraged fledgling vampire. He didn't know what damage Draco could inflict when still under the influence of alcohol and his skewed vampire instincts.

"I shouldn't have judged him on past experiences. I was ... wrong to do so," admitted Draco, the closest look to apologetic shaping his handsome face. "But can't you all understand that we hate each other? I couldn't stand living with him almost as much as he can't stand even seeing me. We'd kill each other before we could even consummate our bond." 

"Even if that is so, it still does not give you the right to kill your mate!" hissed Lucius angrily, fangs flashing with a silent warning as Draco made to step closer. Draco stopped moving instantly. "You were stupid to think that that would have solved your so-called problem. If you had succeeded, what would you have done then? What would that have accomplished? You would have no mate to carry your children, to share your love, to carry on our bloodline or to cure your immortal loneliness. You would have had nothing!" 

"I know that I was wrong!" said Draco. "But I didn't go through with it, alright? I saw reason! I realized just what a good person Harry is, I saw him with new eyes! I did nothing to him!"

"You did do something to him," said Blaise suddenly, his dark eyes narrowing further at half-truth. "This morning you came to breakfast smelling of Potter, of Potter's fluids. I know because I know what it smells like, anyone with any good sense of smell knows what it smells like." 

Narcissa almost saw red. Almost. "You raped him?!" she shrieked, for once being the one to raise her voice. Draco flinched and shook his head viciously, but Narcissa was no fool. She would trust Blaise right now over her own son, however much it hurt her to do so.  "How could you Draco? How could you do something so vile and despicable, so monstrous -!"

"He didn't stop me from doing it!" Draco snapped, getting fed up with being ganged up on. "I didn't even penetrate or kiss him! We were just rutting up against one another, that's all!" 

"Did he deny your advances in the beginning?" asked Narcissa fiercely, not backing down. "Did he try and escape you? Answer me truthfully, Draco." 

Draco thought back through the haze, thought back to the beginning before the sweet scent of Harry's blood had ensnared his mind. Though back to the beginning before Harry's body enticed him. There were several protests that rang back to him. He exhaled shakily, closing his eyes. "Yes, he tried to stop me," he admitted quietly. 

The silence that encased them was suffocating, and for once, everyone was glad that Harry was asleep. This was one situation the saviour of the world couldn't handle. 

Draco opened his eyes and gave his parents and anyone that would look at him an imploring look. "I couldn't help myself, he was just standing there naked with nothing but water running down his skin. His blood called to me, I could smell it three stalls over -"

"He was bleeding?" asked Lucius sharply. He could vaguely remember seeing Harry's sliced arm that morning.

Draco nodded hesitantly, unsure if this was good or not. "Yes, he was hit by a cutting charm - why?" 

Narcissa relaxed against the couch, her head bowing with relief and her long locks falling completely from the hairstyle it had been in to frame her lovely face. Lucius was just as relieved, as he had just begun to believe that his son had turned out to be a bad person after all. He didn't want Draco to turn out like him, to be a bad person. "You were caught in a bloodlust," said Lucius tiredly, relaxing his protective pose over Harry's supine half-naked form.

The others relaxed as well, and Blaise began to feel less -or maybe he should be feeling more- bad about having try to feed from Harry, as he wasn't the only one. He was still going to apologize to the Gryffindor, something that he at least, was not above. 

"So this was all for nothing - all this stress?" asked Nott Sr. gruffly, moving away from the fireplace and seating himself roughly in one of the seats. He glared at Harry distastefully, but said nothing else.

Draco's parents exchanged glances, but he knew all too well that he'd blown everything out of proportion. "Yes," he said, almost choking on the way he said it so .. truthfully. "I blew everything out of proportion -"

"On an epic scale," interrupted Blaise teasingly, smirking at the discomforted look on Draco's face. "If I didn't know you well enough, I'd say you were the Slytherin princess -"

"If you want to keep your tongue where it is, I'd shut it. Just remember, you still have to pay for biting and attempting to drink from my mate."

"You're accepting him?" asked Narcissa quietly, her azure eyes sparkling with happiness as she gazed at Harry and glanced at Draco. She was already quite taken with the lovely boy, even though she had had limited contact with him for all of their two days at Hogwarts. She only hoped that the next time that she met him, he would be properly dressed -not that she saw anything wrong with his body, she was utterly fascinated with the scars on his shoulder and arms-, and fully awake.

Draco glanced at Lucius cautiously, but nodded his head at his mother before his father could say anything. Not that Lucius was about to complain, he was about to accept the Saviour of the wizarding world into his family, one of the most powerful and unknown creatures in the world, and the Destroyer of Voldemort. He couldn't be more prouder of his son.

"Yes," said Draco, allowing for a small and true smile to lift his lips. "I'm accepting Harry Potter as my mate."

"Just wait till he finds out," said Blaise, snickering as Harry shifted in his sleep, his nakedness becoming apparent as he began to shiver in the cool common room. "He's going to be oh-so happy when you tell him that you've accepted him as your mate." 

Draco grimaced a little, knowing that only half of the battle was over and done with. "Yes, it's going to go over real well with him."

"You could always explain it to him - you know, the traditional way?" said Marianna teasingly, picking up on her son's amusement and beginning to share it. "My, my, my .. if I did not know any better, I would say that your generations sense of tradition is lost!" 

"My Draco would never lose the ways of old," said Narcissa, beginning to smile. The look on her husband's face was stopped short when she winked at him, and he began to loosen up and accept the way that they were lightening the atmosphere up. "He's much too alike to his father."

"Yes, so much like me that he even snores in his sleep the exact way I do. Like a true Malfoy man," said Lucius teasingly, smirking at his son's bright red ears. 

"Yes, only a Malfoy could snore as loud as you do," agreed Narcissa, moving to slip a delicate arm around her husbands. "But as you are a man, I believe that our son-in-law is feeling a chill. Will you take him back to his room, darling?" she asked sweetly, pressing a soft kiss to his warm cheek.

Draco rolled his eyes at the display of affection and stepped forward, halting his father as he made to pull away from his mother's arm. "Don't worry father, I've got him. Just go back to mother, I'm sure she's getting tired. It's very late," he said handsomely, bending to slide his arms under Harry's back and the curve of his knees. He hardly had to exert any energy to get Harry into his arms.

"Well, if you're sure son," said Lucius, beginning to smirk rather mischievously as he turned to his wife and offered his arm with a small gentlemanly bow, laying on the charm thick. "I believe that we have been reprieved. Shall we make good of time and return to our bedchambers, my sweet?" 

Narcissa took Lucius' arm with a small giggle, her other hand going to delicately cover her mouth. "Oh, why yes my darling. My feet are beginning to ache in these heels, I believe a massage is in order ..?" she asked coyly.

Draco gagged as he turned, making sure that his parents heard him, and strode into Harry's room with gentle steps, making sure that his arms cradled the smaller boy to his chest to provide warmth and safety and that his steps were soft enough to allow him to continue sleeping undisturbed. He closed the door on his parents laughter, and smiled widely as Harry nestled into his chest. It was almost as if he knew that Draco wouldn't hurt him.

"You're going to be a lot of trouble, aren't you?" he asked lightly, smiling as they were both encompassed by the heat of the large flames in the hearth. He carefully laid Harry down on the large surprisingly warm bed, sweeping the long dark hair of his mate over to one side so that he could prevent knots from forming.

"I can just see it; you'll make me chase you, you'll make me prove my worthiness of your hand, and you'll test me. And I'll pass every one of your tests, because I'm made for you, and you for me," he said softly, carefully lowering himself on the empty space beside Harry's hip and brushing his knuckles over the soft skin of Harry's cheek. "Not to sound corny by the way," he added sheepishly, lowering his head to nuzzle the junction between Harry's neck and shoulder. 

His skin smelled of strawberry's, the same sweet scent that Draco was beginning to associate with home. "I only hope that you'll accept me," he said quietly, pressing a tender kiss to the sensitive skin and lingering there for a few moments.

He pulled away after a few moments of trying to ingrain the feel of Harry's skin in his mind, a soft smile on his face, and he slowly rose from his place beside the small boy. "I hope that you'll forgive me for my past, even though I know that I don't deserve it," he said quietly, pulling the soft duvet from where it lay forgotten but still warm and tucking it up to Harry's chin.

He ran a gentle finger down the length of Harry's small nose, starting from the uppermost middle of his forehead to the tip of his nose. Everywhere he touched him, he was always so soft, almost as if his skin was made of the softest material magic could make. 

"Good night Harry, I look forward to seeing you in the morning," he said softly, bending and pressing his lips on the smooth forehead, avoiding the lightning bolt scar that laid just above his left eyebrow.

He stood and backed up from Harry's bedside, going back to the only entrance and exit to the room and opening the door. He looked back at Harry with affection and worried his lip as he battled himself; wanting to go back and lie with Harry, or leaving Harry space and room to breathe and get himself into a good position to approach Harry with the knowledge of their mateship. It was only too easy to slowly back out of the room, closing the door silently behind him.

He only hoped that Harry would understand why he did what he did, and would forgive him for it. It was all that he was hoping for, praying for. Harry was the only thing he wanted - needed now, he could no longer bide his time with others. Harry was everything he is, everything he will be, and everything he wants - needs. 

He just hopes that it's the same for him as well.

Chapter Text

12. Issues with Inheritances

It was still dark in the common room when Harry left his room, the only thing that suggested how long he'd been asleep for was how freezing cold it was, the fire having died in the middle of the night and allowing the common room to let the warmth seep out of its stone and freeze whatever flesh is open to it, but that dilemma was easily solved with a silently cast incendio, which got the fire started with a brilliant explosion of light and heat.

Harry settled himself down on the space in front of the kindly burning flames, a large fluffy blanket that he'd found sitting on his desk chair wrapped loosely around his shoulders. His feet were still bare to the floors coldness, and he wrapped his hands around them to heat them up, not willing to expose them to the nippy air - despite there being a fire to warm them.

The Dreamless sleep potion had left his body not long ago, allowing him to rise back to wakefulness with an almost eerie calmness, and yawn with contentment. He'd slept a solid nine hours, a new record if he was to believe it, and he was more than pleased with his new-found Potions skill. Although, that excitement hardly lasted more than ten minutes before he pulled himself up and out of his room, finding himself far too aware and wired to fall back to sleep or just sit in his room. So he'd found himself in the common room, just enjoying the silence and taking in the detail he hadn't been able to the first time he'd gotten here.

He reckoned that the large floor to ceiling dark green windows that bordered the room were the most eye-catching features; they gave the most beautiful view of the lake and the Mermaid village, something he remembered that the Slytherin common room hadn't exactly been able to see from its higher perch, but from this vantage point, they could see the entire lake floor; the fields of deep grassy green weeds that housed the terrible Grindylows and other creatures; the almost barbaric looking Mermaid village; the water-top that shimmered and filtered the sunlight down like pieces of glass and the many colonies of fish that swam in misshapen clouds, often dancing around Merchildren as they swam around.

But there was also the large fireplace that dominated the main lounge, its intricately carved backing highlighted by the bright flames and casting ominous shadows on the floor in front of him. They were of serpents, most entwining some form of animal, and even one opening its mouth to devour a trapped bird -clearly a form of favoritism of Slytherin over Ravenclaw-, but what captured Harry's attention, was the large school logo. It had the four Houses and motto, but instead of all equal parts, the Slytherin House was the most obviously favored and forefront, the proud coiling serpent clearly hissing and preening. 

As Harry glanced out the window, fish of all kinds and colors swam by, some of them stopping to look in or touch at the heavily warded glass with their mouths, bobbing and flicking their tails viciously as if pushing themselves against it, before swimming away. From where Harry sat, he could see the Giant Squid, bobbing along in the water and chasing friendly Merpeople with exaggerated movements, even swatting at them. The Merpeople laughed and danced circles around it, slapping their tails daringly at the squids sides and dodging when the squid slapped at them. It was obviously a game amongst them, and Harry couldn't help but wonder if chasing the Giant Squid and dodging its arms were their equivalent to Quidditch. But then, Hermione always did call him Quidditch obsessed.

Hermione. He wondered what she and Ron were doing, whether they were talking about him or still sleeping. Or if they'd gone home, seeing as they were all supposedly visiting him to help him acclimate into the suddenly new atmosphere of Hogwarts. Well, if they were, they weren't doing a very good job of it, they were more interested in what was happening around themselves rather than what was happening to him. 

It was times like this that the overwhelming sadness began to creep in and make itself known. Times where he could see the happiness in others, his friends mostly, but realize that he had never felt that type of happiness, nor have anything to be happy about. Sure he has his Godfather, his life and his friends, but what good was that when he knew it was only a matter of time before they all left him? He wasn't what people call, social. No, Harry's silent and reclusive. A lone wolf, as some would say. A lone wolf that has loving friends and family, but can't bring themselves to appreciate them. An ungrateful person.

Harry shook his head abruptly and swiped at his watering eyes. He'd been staring for too long. There's no point in being so negative this early in the morning, he told himself firmly, once again shaking his head, It'll only ruin the day before it can begin. Deciding that a nice warm shower would be best for now, Harry shook off the blanket and rose from the freezing floor, stretching his stiff and numb limbs with a quiet but long and exaggerated yawn. His vertebrae cracked pleasantly along with the fire as he arched backwards, his arms above his head.

Now that's better, he thought to himself contently, sweeping up the blanket and flinging it over his shoulder. It was barely five in the morning -a time Harry had become accustomed to rising at while with the Dursley's-, yet he was happy enough to be awake. Sure sleeping in late beats an early morning, but waking up early certainly beats being attacked in the shower by a jacked up vampire.

Even so, the early hour of the morning didn't stop him from warding the shower curtain and keeping his wand on one of the shower ledges where he kept his shampoo and conditioner. He wouldn't be caught with his pants down again, he was going to be prepared for anything. Constant vigilance.

He took his sweet time showering, scrubbing his hair with shampoo and soaking it in strawberry scented conditioner. They were soon silky tresses that flowed down his back like water, tickling the bottom of his back every time he tilted his head. He dried and dressed in the stall as well, gracefully avoiding a crash collision with his hand and the shower head when he raised his arms to slide his shirt on. It was a Muggle shirt that Sirius seemed to have bought just for the soul amusement of it, but he still loved it. It was a Muggle band shirt, known as Guns N' Roses. He paired that with dark wash grey skinny jeans and a pair of dirty black converse shoes.

For a wizard wearing Muggle clothing -clothes that actually fit, mind you-, it didn't look that bad. If only the Dursley's could see him now, not wearing any of those disgusting ill-fitting clothes that Dudley always stretched and outgrew, but wearing clothes of the finest quality. It was enough to make him grin. 

-oOoOoOoOo-

Armed with his invisibility cloak and Marauders map, Harry walked the empty hallways and corridors of the castle in the early morning hours, greeting House ghosts with friendly smiles and waving to portraits on his merry way. He periodically checked the map, scanning the worn pages for anything suspicious or dangerous, and always found nothing. He was otherwise taking the moment to revel in the peace. It wasn't always that he got to relax, after all, and he figured that a nice day outside would be nice.

The sun was just warming up the grounds when he exited the castle, the brilliant rays piercing any remaining clouds from the day before and sinking into his slightly chilled skin. The day was just beginning, but it was great so far - but that might be accountable for the lack of students and adults; no teachers to get on his back about work, no students to gawk at him and definitely no Malfoy's, Knott's -though thankfully Knott hadn't attempted to-, and Zabini's lusting after him and attacking him. No, there was no one to do anything he disliked, just himself and the castle. Peace.

"It certainly is lovely today."

Harry startled and spun around, ready to defend himself, when he realized just who was standing there. He relaxed. "Good morning professor, I didn't see you standing there," he said, smiling apologetically.

"No harm done, my boy, and a good morning to you too," said Dumbledore genially. "I found myself fancying a walk around the castle whilst I was making tea, and I thought, why not have a little bit of exercise to cheer these old bones. It's such a happy coincidence that you are here as well," he said happily, smiling brightly. "Would you like to join me for a leisurely stroll around the castle, Harry?" He asked, gesturing to a well trodden path that wrapped around the castle that gave the most magnificent view of the lake and the Forbidden forest.

Harry agreed, and they fell into step together.

"How are you, Harry? I'd been meaning to invite you to tea to have a little chat and catch up, but things seem to have been happening one after the other, I never seem to have the time," Dumbledore said after a moment of silence, his wise blue eyes taking the vast grounds of Hogwarts.  

"Is it about the werewolf problem?" Harry asked, casting a perfunctory glance at the dark forest. He wasn't blind to the old man's manipulations any more, not since the first battle of the Ministry, and he knew that Dumbledore would rather dance circles around him than tell him the truth.

Dumbledore chuckled indulgently, a rueful smile on his old weathered face. "I believe Remus and Sirius have been rather obvious, haven't they? Yes, unfortunately it is about the werewolf community. The Ministry seem to think corralling them into a tiny metal cage and casing the killing curse is the best course of action. In fact, they have already begun in Muggle London," he paused at Harry's distressed look and shook his head shallowly. "They merely broke the statute of secrecy in a small village, Harry, they hadn't enough time to infect even a common street rat by the time the Aurors captured them."

They could have killed who knows how many people, regardless of the fact that the Aurors were there! The thought rankled him. "Yes but that's not the point – they're in London," Harry emphasised angrily, restraining himself from kicking at the ground like he suddenly wanted to. "Muggle London, they could kill anyone with a single scratch –!"

Dumbledore held up a quieting hand, and Harry shut himself up, reluctantly, though he most definitely was not going to let this go. "But they have not had enough time to do so, Harry, the Aurors were in position and ready for the attack," Dumbledore soothed, looking at him sagely. "Harry, I trust that Cornelius is acting for the good of the Wizarding community, it is something I have thought upon for a long measure of time and have come to the conclusion that Cornelius has everything well in hand. I think you ought to do the same."

Harry didn't say anything to that. It was plainly obvious that Remus and Sirius trusted him far more than Dumbledore to tell him that Fudge still has Umbridge on his team, taking on her poison as advise. It was frustrating for him to have the sources to help, but not be allowed just because he'd 'accomplished what he set out to do'. He was still a valuable part of the community damn it, and he's not about to let people die for nothing.

Those days were most certainly over.

Dumbledore sighed wearily, spying Harry's darkening expression from the corner of his eye. "I merely wish to see you happy, Harry. This has nothing to concern you; the Ministry has everything well in hand."

"But if it's affecting my family and friends, of course it's got something to do with me," Harry said brusquely, uncaring if he came across rude to the old man he'd once thought of as a grandfather. "You can't honestly think that I'll just sit back and let something that could potentially harm by family go about on its merry way, can you?" He asked seriously.

"Of course not, Harry," Dumbledore sighed again, resigned but accepting his defeat in the argument. "I would expect no less from you than a fight, it would be wrong of me to suspect you to let things be. It would worry me if you did.”

“Good,” said Harry, nodding firmly. “Then we're agreed. Anything that happens to my family or community I want to know about, be it bad or good. And I want to be told the truth, nothing misleading or something I can misconstrue. Just facts.”

Dumbledore looked at him searchingly, his head tilted to the side in interest as the wind played with his long white beard. “And if nothing happens?” He asked curiously, his blue eyes twinkling madly behind the half-moon spectacles perched high on his crooked nose. He was impressed and fond of Harry, and the fondness seemed to grow as the young man talked to him like he was equal, someone not to tread around in the case of 'upsetting him', but to respect.

Harry looked back at him for a moment, just taking in the old trusting features of the great wizard beside him in silence. He could trust Dumbledore, that he knew, but he had to be straight with the old man, explain where he's coming from and what he wants and needs. He has to speak in order to be spoken to. Then he said, truthfully, “This is the Wizarding world, professor; something always happens.”

And Dumbledore nodded in agreement.

-oOoOoOoOo-

“Harry!” Called Hermione upon seeing him, an overly large and bright smile on her tanned face. “I've been looking everywhere for you, where have you been?”

“I was out walking with Dumbledore,” Harry said, smiling warily. “Why? What's been happening?”

Hermione laughed obnoxiously, flapping her hand at him with a white pinched face. Harry's eyes narrowed. “Happening? Oh nothing's been happening, Harry! What a weird thing to say as it's barely eight in the morning!” She said, her voice abnormally high and airy. “Actually, I think Ron told me about the Giant Squid being ill - something about swallowing a Grindylow, care to go for another walk?”

Harry stared hard into her shifty eyes, and blew out a small breath. “Hermione, you can stop pretending,” he said. “Why are you lying to me? What's happened while I've been outside?”

Hermione's face fell into a rueful smile. “I can't really lie, can I? You know me too well to know when something isn't right,” she said quietly, before suddenly livening up and turning serious, her brown eyes glaring chips of ice into his. “I would have tried to find you, Harry, but it was decided that you shouldn't be here – that one of us should try and distract you. Honestly Harry, it's better if you don't go in there – ” Harry's jaw clenching rather attractively -although she knew it was from agitation- stopped Hermione in her tracks and forced her to swallow a mouthful of saliva that threatened to choke her. She remained quiet.

“And who is in the Great Hall that I should avoid?” Harry asked flatly, oblivious to Hermione's struggle and already certain of who was in the Great Hall. It was quite obvious after all, as the toad hadn't been able to get to him on his first night back here. He wondered if she'd brought another Black Quill in her pretty pink purse, and had to stop himself from growling outright. If she was here, she'd likely be trying to pick apart his whole inheritance, most probably to get him kicked out of Hogwarts for good.

Hermione firmed herself, squeezing her eyes shut tightly in preparation for the explosion she knew was about to happen. “Umbridge,” she forced out passed her tight lips.

Harry breezed by her before she could get the whole name out and headed for the closed doors of the Great Hall. He heard Hermione call and race after him, but he was already slipping passed the doors by the time he heard her say 'Stop!'. It was an unlikely thing that Harry would ever stop himself from running into the face of danger, so trying to tell him to stop in such an impossibly dangerous situation was foolish. The teachers, parents and students were all sitting at the table they had all been eating at for the past few days, their expressions cool and blank – aside from Remus and Ernie's, who were both silently seething and obviously restraining themselves from blowing up or attacking.

A smug, squat Dolores Jane Umbridge stood beside a stout Cornelius Fudge, a badly disguised wicked grin on her toady fat face. Her grin fell into a disgusted gape at seeing him, but soon returned to its toad-like grin. “Ah, Mister Potter,” she said sweetly, looking like a cat that was about to eat its captured mouse. “I was told that you were ..” she turned to a silent Dumbledore with amusement. “.. indisposed by your fellow dorm-mates and teachers. I see that that is incorrect.”

Harry straightened his spine and inclined his head towards the human toad, ready to play the part of aristocrat for his family and friends' sake. Remus and Ernie looked like they could do with a break. “Good morning, madam Umbridge, a pleasure to see you in Hogwarts' great walls again,” he said suavely, striding to meet the pink monstrosity at the head of the table. He ignored the ill-disguised gapes of his friends in favor of the diminishing smug look on Umbridge's face. “I was rather ill this morning, but nothing a common cheering potion brewed by Professor Snape's capable hands and a little air couldn't handle. I'm sure you understand.”

“Mm, yes,” she said, not particularly agreeing with that statement, and staring at him intensely with her dull brown eyes. “The Ministry had been informed of your transition from human to creature over a week ago, Mister Potter, but I see that some of the characteristics written here on these forms are either wrong or horribly misplaced,” she said, suddenly procuring a small neat stack of parchment from out of her -of course, fluffy and pink- purse and shuffling it as if to order it, smiling sweetly all the while. It was reminiscent of the smile she'd given him back when she used the Blood Quill on him, and Harry fought viciously to restrain his anger. How such a foul woman could have so much sway, he had no idea.

“This information indicates a larger specimen with long hair and a signet ring that carries the Potter House, but that does not make any sense as you are a magical creature, pure-blood rules dictate that no magical creatures can uphold the family seat and do not allow for you to claim what was once your fathers. In actual fact, Mister Potter, the Hogwarts castle does not cater to any magical creatures as its students,” she said overly pleasantly, giving a thrilled girlish giggle that grated on the ears on everyone gathered in the room. “I'm afraid, Mister Potter, that you have no business being here at all. You are going to have to leave.”

Harry inclined his head with a smile he knew was more insulting than charming, and said, “It would seem that you are mistaken, Madam. I may have multiple instincts that relate to creatures – and witches and wizards alike, but I am no creature. I'm just as human as you are.”

“I should hardly think so,” said Umbridge patronizingly, a smirk twisting her thin lips. “Have you any proof of your human bloodline? A document signed and dated by the Ministry, perhaps?”

Harry lifted his right hand so that the ring faced towards the foul woman, making sure that the light hit the ring just right. “My Potter ring,” he said. “It accepted me the moment I picked it up, and it has enchantments and protective spells cast on it that allows only those of Potter blood to wear it. I am a Potter and a human, therefore I am not a creature.”

“Then why did you receive a Magical 'Creature' inheritance if you are human? Hmm?” Umbridge prompted, her brown eyes narrowing heatedly at Harry's calm state.

“Madam Umbridge!” Exclaimed McGonagall, rattled and shocked at the woman's audacity. Cornelius Fudge turned to stare with wide shocked eyes at Umbridge, whom noticed neither of the two's reactions and merely continued staring contemptuously at Harry.

Draco made to stand to defend his mate - the very last straw in his reserve breaking as the foul woman insulted his mate for the very last time, but before he could act he was restrained by hands clamping down on his legs and forcing him down further into his seat. His father quelled him with a look when he turned to him, and his mother shook her head minutely when he tried to plead with her to let him go. He opened his mouth to snap and attempt to wrench his legs from their grip, but his mother quickly shook her head again and mouthed, "Fudge is watching." 

And indeed Fudge was watching, he had his beady little eyes fixed on the three pure-blood families, waiting to see if they would cause a scene as big as Harry and wondering if he'd be able to test that new stunning spell that was rumoured to work on vampires. Draco, very reluctantly, sat back in his seat, resigned to the fact that he couldn't act unless he wished to bring down the wrath of the Ministry down onto his family. However, that didn't stop him from glowering at the foul woman. Blaise had endured the same evidently.

Harry had noticed nothing of the others and was smiling again, the same insulting yet charming one, and allowed himself a small chuckle. “It was a list of creature blood in my Potter and Evans sides, and before you accuse me of being a mixture it did not say what I am, purely because I'm not a creature. If I was a creature, the list would have exactly what I am printed at the very top and underlined. I spoke about this with my Gringott's vault manager, Ragnok Scull-crusher, and he confirmed that I inherited nothing of the other blood's in my family.”

“I should hardly think that you have any right to question a student of Hogwart's without the proper authorization, Madam Umbridge!” Snapped McGonagall as soon as Harry stopped speaking, not allowing Umbridge the chance to open her mouth the speak. “You should be ashamed of yourself for verbally attacking a student of Hogwarts and prize of the Ministry, not to mention the Destroyer of the evil wizard Voldemort!”

Draco wanted to add in his two sickles, but was warned off by the hands on his thighs squeezing tightly. He scowled, and again let it slide. He would be getting back at his parents for that.

“Minerva,” interjected Dumbledore gently, finally taking the situation into his own hands and stepping up beside the stern woman, who was openly seething and silently threatening the pink toad. “While I don't agree with Madam Umbridge's methods, she has the support of the Minister and the right to question any falsities on legal documents -” he held up a hand when McGonagall went to argue. “- however, I will not let Harry be treated in such an appalling manner. Surely you agree, Cornelius?”

Fudge blustered back to life, clutching his green bowler hat in his shaking hands like it was a lifeline. “Oh, yes of course!” He hurried to say, sending a disbelieving look at a silently reddening Umbridge. He turned to Harry apologetically, a hopeful smile on his face. “I hope you can forgive my employee, Harry, I'm sure she didn't know what she was saying. I offer you my entire support and apology about the mix-up with your inheritance, I'll get right onto the department of Creature Inheritances and have them write a formal apology for getting your status wrong. If you any requests, please feel free to come to me and I shall see it done,” he said, smiling far too brightly. It was obvious that Fudge was trying to make up for Umbridge's mistake.

Harry accepted the apology with a formal nod, making sure to let the stout man see his Lion-like grin. “I'll hold you to that," he said, smiling less like a predator now. "It's alright, Minister, I didn't expect your Ministry to know about the nature of my inheritance, it is a rather tricky business after all. One certainly cannot expect to be correct all the time,” he said.

Fudge blinked fluidly, a flush climbing up the part of his exposed neck and filling his cheeks with a dull red. So he got what I was saying then, good, Harry thought, satisfied. “Right you are, Lord Potter, and congratulations on receiving your fathers ring and House seat, I look forward to seeing you in the Wizengamot chambers in the near future,” Fudge said, though a seemed to lose a bit of his exuberance at that. Perhaps he knows that I'll be making certain changes, Harry thought.

“So do I, Minister,” Harry agreed, a charming and albeit dangerous smile sliding onto his face. “I look forward to it.”

Fudge shuddered slightly at the sight, inhaling shakily and hurriedly depositing his hat back on his round head. "Well, now that our business seems to be concluded, I shall leave you all to your delicious lunching and see Dolores and myself out," he blustered, nodding respectfully at Dumbledore and the Lords and Lady's in the Great Hall, ignoring the stunned teenagers sat at the table and barely acknowledging the teachers gathered near Dumbledore. Especially ignoring Minerva McGonagall, whom was still in a glaring competition with Umbridge. They were two women you did not want to cross, and put together was like being back in Gladiator times, but with wands instead of swords.

“Again, my apologies, Lord Potter. Good day,” said Fudge hurriedly, prodding a still seething Umbridge on the arm and beginning to half drag and half chase her to the entrance of the Hall. She went with resistance, making small frustrated noises.

“Good day, Minister!” Harry replied, grinning triumphantly when the large double doors closed with a loud clang behind the two departing figures. “Fucking cowards,” he muttered. He smiled sheepishly when he received a sharp look from McGonagall at swearing, but he didn't apologize. Nor did the woman berate him. He couldn't help but notice that her mouth twitched up into a smile at the corners.

“Impressive,” Blaise commented from the table, and Harry turned to see him grinning amongst his gobsmacked friends and silently seething dorm-mates. “You managed to make the Minister for Magic quake at the knees with just the mere thought of you being on the Wizengamot! Bloody fantastic, mate!”

“Blaise!” exclaimed Lady Zabini, staring up at her son with fierce reprimanding dark eyes.

“Sorry Madre,” Blaise said, lowering his head apologetically. Lady Zabini nodded in acceptance and let the swear go, and Blaise was quick -almost too quick- to go back to grinning like the crazy loon he was. Lady Zabini pretended not to notice, and instead turned to chat with Lady Malfoy.

“Oh – I was so sure that you were going to kill her!” Cried Hermione suddenly, fanning her reddened face with her hand. She swallowed loudly. “I'm sorry to say that we even had a plan worked out just in case you attempted anything!”

Harry raised an eyebrow, and Ron blushed furiously. “We were going to stun you and tie you up,” he explained, going impossibly redder in the face. “'Mione was going to cast the jelly legs at you and I was going to tackle you if that didn't work.”

George snickered loudly at that. “Forge and I were going to let you kill her so . . .”

“. . . we could get back at her for ruining our last year of school,” Fred finished, laughing just as loud as his twin. Their playful take on words brought a small bout of laughter from the surrounding adults and teenagers, most thinking that they were just joking to lighten the atmosphere. They weren't, and they exchanged surreptitious looks that went by unnoticed.

“Well, as pleasurable as it would be to see Dolores Umbridge shredded into ribbons by my son, I'd rather not lose my appetite thinking about that foul woman's innards splattering the floor,” said Molly, wrinkling her nose with distaste. “Now, dig in before the food gets cold, we'll be needing the energy. Especially you Harry, I want to see you going for seconds, you still need some more meat on your bones dear.”

"Why?" questioned Ron, frowning at his mother. "I mean, not about Harry needing more food," he explained exasperatedly when Molly looked at him oddly. "I mean, what are we doing today?"

Molly looked to Dumbledore expectantly, and the old wizard smiled at the curious looks he was getting. "It has been routine for the many years containing transformed students that we test them in their magical classes; Defence Against the Dark Arts, Potions, Charms and Care of Magical Creatures. After breakfast, I'm afraid that it's back to filling your minds with knowledge. Though I'm sure Mister Weasley will be glad to know that he is not among those numbers," he said, eyes twinkling at Ron's relieved smile.

"Potions will be your first class for the day," Dumbledore added, indicating a heavily sneering Snape with a brief wave of a hand. "And then it is Defence, Care of Magical Creatures and Charms. A busy schedule, but nothing you can't handle, I'm sure."

Harry glanced at the Potions professor as he served himself his breakfast, noting that the man seemed even more surlier than usual, and felt himself wince. While he had full confidence in his new-found potions skills, he knew that he was going to be torn to shreds by the razor sharp mouth of the dour Potions professor. He is a Potter after all, and Potter's are very much hated by one Severus Snape.

He was most likely going to be dead by the end of his first class.

"Bollocks," he muttered quietly, stabbing a drenched pancake with his fork.

Chapter Text

13. Classy Blues

"You shall be brewing the Draught of Living Death, a potion so named for its ability to render the drinker in a deathly slumber that lasts for an indefinite amount of time," said Snape in his droning voice, tapping his wand on the large and slightly chipped blackboard behind him. The words 'Draught of Living Death' spread across the top in Snape's characteristic spider-like writing, and a list of ingredients and steps scrawled beneath it. "You must exercise extreme caution when attempting to brew such a delicate and dangerous potion and let me be clear that any foolishness will result in severe . . . repercussions that will leave permanent damage," he continued in a dark and silky voice.

Harry ignored the urge to shuffle uncomfortably in his seat and instead focused on the writing on the board, only keeping an ear out for what Snape said in case it was important. He just knew that Hermione would be inwardly berating him right now.

"You will be assessed under examination conditions, that is there is to be no; help, cheating or speaking to one another. Failure to comply with what I have set is to be rewarded with a weeks detention, beginning tonight in my office at nine O'clock. Am I understood?” Snape added, glaring down at them all with fierce black eyes.

He received mumbled agreements, Harry being the loudest as he'd almost forgotten to say anything at all. Recipe well and truly ingrained in his mind, Harry was ready to begin brewing.

Snape's upper lip curled. "If there is anything in this recipe that proves to be problematic to you or to those around you inform me immediately, and don't touch it," he said, sneering as lightly as he could while under the scrutiny of the guardian's gathered at the back of the room. Harry was only slightly relieved to have Hermione and Ron, the Weasley's and the Lupin's in the room with him, the only reason being that Snape had no way of marking him down for the stupidest of things. But that was about it.

"You may begin."

Harry stayed in his seat and waited for the other four to get their fill of the ingredients, knowing that it was quite possible to be squashed on the way there, before leaving his bench. His eyes located the necessary items stacked in the large storage cupboard on his way passed the others, they were slightly mussed up from everyone grabbing at them, but they seemed to be in good condition. Snape stared balefully at him as he passed, but he paid no heed to the dark eyes. They didn't affect him as much as they used to.

When his hands were full and positively overflowing with the ingredients, he returned to his bench, setting everything carefully side by side and in the order of use to his right. He filled his cauldron with water from a tap -not a wand, he'd realized that mistake when trying to brew his Dreamless Sleep potions and they'd turned out less than effective- and started the fire underneath it. So far so good.

"Harry, you could have saved time by using your wand to put the water in!" Whispered Hermione desperately from behind him, but Harry ignored her. She knew what Snape had said and the threat he'd issued them, so why was she trying to get him in trouble?

The only way to keep himself focused on his potion and not on his friend's backward advice was to ignore her, which was only slightly hard to do. He could feel Snape's beady black eyes watching him from where he sat at the front desk, and just knew that he'd be using this to get him in detention. It was absolute bollocks.

But at least the potion was reacting as it should and it was actually quite easy in most parts. It was almost a walk in the park compared to Remus' Wolfsbane potion. He was really quite lucky.

Unfortunately, his luck was not shared with everyone else. Theodore Knott's potion looked on the verge of exploding - his panicky hands adding in every solution in reach whenever it bubbled dangerously, and Blaise's potion was three shades off of the described color. However, it was poor Ernie that had it the worst, his potion was completely unsalvageable; it was a charred black color - way off from the color needed for this stage and gurgled thickly and sloppily in the almost melted cauldron he was using. He was nearly as bad as Neville Longbottom, though Ernie didn't make his cauldron explode thankfully.

Ernie was red in the face and sweating profusely by the time it came to cutting the Sopophorus bean, his hands shaking as he continued to attempt to cut it with his precariously wobbly knife. It was very close to cutting off one of his fingers, and Harry winced every time it shook and shuddered in his hands, slamming against the bench from the force he was exerting when the bean wiggled out from under it.

Harry had overcome that little stigma the first sign of trouble, having spied from the corner of his eye Malfoy fuming and struggling to cut his own bean when it came time to add it. Harry had crushed it before he knew what he was doing -it was an accident really, the knife turned in his hand and the side of the blade crushed it-, and he'd quickly held it over the simmering cauldron before it could bleed out all over the bench, Hermione practically hissing into his ear like a livid snake, telling him not to do it and to follow the recipe. He'd once again ignored her and continued on, allowing -who he assumed- Ron and the others to move her away and calm her down before she had a nervous breakdown.

"Time is almost up," intoned Snape suddenly, looking to be enjoying watching them fight with their ingredients – especially that darned bean. Those at the back of the room watched with caution, often forcing themselves to let go of their wands, which they'd grabbed out of fear. It was known for some to have a dangerous potion that splashes back. George and Fred had the misfortune of standing behind Ernie, and were constantly gripping their wands very tightly, so much so that their wands left imprints in their fingers.

Ernie had fumbled for every ingredient in his reach when Snape had spoken, his shaking hands tossing everything into the furiously bubbling cauldron until wafts of grey smoke rose from its burnt edges. Harry wasn't the only one to wince at the fumes, Malfoy and Blaise were closest to the ominously bubbling cauldron and had far more sensitive noses. It was most likely nothing more than sludge, and Ernie's disgusted face when he peered into the cauldron confirmed Harry's suspicion.

Harry's potion had just turned the delicate lilac color described on the board when Snape called time, and Harry set his stirring rod to the side with a satisfied smile as it turned its final clear water-like color, wisps of steam rising from the watery substance in a cacophony of fumes that smelt like rotting garbage and death to the outsider, but hard work and dedication to Harry. He only hoped that Snape wouldn't dock him points for breathing over it.

Said sneering potions master swept around the room like a bad smell, lingering around Theodore, Malfoy and Blaise for mere seconds and nodding approvingly as he chucked a crumpled up green leaf into each cauldron, and it emitted a small puff of smoke as it engulfed it, and moved on. Poor Ernie was a mess by the time Snape arrived at his desk, his face practically pouring sweat as he hurriedly gave his potion one last stir – or tried to. The rod barely moved, it was stuck in the poison green sludge bubbling sloppily in the midst of the charred cauldron. Harry winced for him.

Snape sneered at the contents of the cauldron, before turning his tunnel-like gaze on the poor boy who managed to create such a monstrosity, and glaring. "Detention for the remaining week, Mister Macmillan, beginning at nine O'clock tonight in my office, you will be sure to scrub every last cauldron in this room and in the storage until I can see my face reflected in their surfaces," he sneered. "And as for this monstrosity you presume to call a potion, not even a First year student could ruin this potion as much as you, a Sixth year student, could have. Failed."

Ernie turned a magnificent bright red, making the skin on his cheeks shine and glisten in the light overhead and he nodded furiously, accepting the detention before Snape could give out more. Snape gave a snort of derision at the poor boy before finally moving onto Harry, the normal mocking sneer turning into a disdainful scowl that was only reserved for Harry. He took in Harry's carefully blank face with narrowed eyes, before finally deigning to peer into his cauldron, where his eyes widened in surprise and then narrowed.

It was utterly silent in the classroom as Snape reached into his pocket and withdrew a large green leaf, everyone watching with bated breath as Snape actually began to test Harry fairly. The elder Malfoy's glanced inconspicuously between Harry and Draco, watching for any signs of distress from either of the two, though it didn't seem very likely, even if Draco looked quite violent. Harry seemed almost bored and expectant in Snape's answer and Draco was looking as if he was about to tackle Snape to the floor and use his fists to pound the dour man's face into the ground.

Now that Draco had acknowledged the bond, the first stages in the courtship were about to begin, regardless of if Harry knew about it or not.

Lucius inwardly sighed at that thought, resigned. Young mateships, he thought tiredly, wanting nothing more than to retire for the day and go back to sleep in his and his wife's room back at the manor, where his bed practically crooned and beckoned him. These two are going to be the deaths of us all. Poor Severus doesn't stand a chance.

Harry watched Snape's nostrils flare as the leaf dropped into the potion, and shrivelled up into a brittle burnt brown nub, coiling and dying instantly and effectively in mere seconds. Curled wisps of smoke climbed out of the cauldron and hailed Harry's success, and Harry forced himself not to smile as Snape actively clenched his jaw and glared heavily at the potion. There were too many people to get away with marking him down or failing him.

"Acceptable, however not the best," Snape said grudglingly, stepping away from the cauldron stiffly and carefully blanking his face, acutely aware of the audience they had and that they were all watching him closely. "I believe one night of detention would be prudent, as you clearly had Miss Granger aid you throughout the brewing of this potion by hissing instructions into your ear the entire lesson. Nine O'clock tonight in my office, Potter."

"I thought this lesson was to test whether we have any new allergies to ingredients?" Harry questioned, raising a fine eyebrow mockingly. He was getting better at reigning in his emotions, though for Snape he had to work doubly hard. The man always managed to get under his skin. "Or does that only apply to the vampires and not a werewolf and Valerian?"

Snape was unable to stop the sneer from forming on his sallow face. "Testing for allergies and reactions amongst creatures is one thing, Mister Potter, but to attempt a simple Sixth year potion under simple instruction and fail is yet another," he stated blandly. "To make things simple for your abnormally small mind to comprehend; cheating under the very nose of a professor under examination conditions is also not acceptable behavior. Detention tonight at nine O'clock in my office, and do not be late, Potter, we don't all wait on hand and foot for you to grace us with your presence. It would be best to keep that in mind."

-oOoOoOoOo-

"'We don't all wait on hand and foot for you to grace us with your presence, Potter'," mocked Ron angrily as he stomped up the stairs to defense. Hermione, Ernie and Harry walked just behind him, Hermione constantly rolling her eyes at his ongoing rant and Harry watching the redhead with amusement. Ernie was still sulking about what had happened in Potions and was silently nodding along, too upset and stressed to say anything. Though he was quite happy to have Harry with him in one of his detentions.

The Weasley's, Lupin's, Malfoy's, Knott's, and Zabini's followed just behind the four at a more sedate pace, talking quietly amongst each other about varying topics – though most were whispering about the previous class. While Molly was angry at Severus Snape for giving Harry a -very undeserved, in her opinion- detention, she could understand why, though she would have rathered Hermione be given one as well, as she was the one who had tried to get her seventh son to cheat right under the very large nose of the man. Tonks, Remus, Bill and George were much in the same boat.

Draco was of similar opinion -though he would have rathered Granger be given the detention and Harry be free of one- and was still seething about the unfairness of Harry's detention, a sentiment not shared by his mother and father, both of whom were currently smirking. It irked him to the point of ignoring them outright when they tried to speak to him – not that they tried very hard, they were still tender in speaking to him because of his . . . episode.

"Honestly, who the hell does he think he is to get away with talking to you like that? He should've been fired ages ago with that kind of talk – and giving you a detention for nothing! Stupid bloody git probably doesn't even know — "

"Oh calm down Ronald, I'm sure he was just surprised that Harry actually made an Outstanding grade potion," said Hermione, smiling brightly at Harry as they finally entered the hallway where their Defense classroom was located. Harry was a little wary about DADA -after their horrible history of teachers who could really blame him?-, obviously he was looking forward to what they'd be learning, but it was the who that would be teaching them that was making him nervous. Quirrel, Lockhart, Moody, Umbridge . . . yeah, this definitely wasn't looking good.

"Well done on that by the way, Harry, absolutely remarkable brewing!" She continued, breaking him out of his reverie. Her smile weakened slightly when he looked a little out of it, but she quickly reinforced it when he smiled back. "I'm sorry for getting you into trouble and for not trusting you to tell what's right from wrong - but when you added normal tap water instead of conjured water I thought you'd gone mad! It's so much more quicker and easier to just conjure water. So I have to ask, why did you use normal tap water?"

He smirked a little at that, knowing that it would have rattled her cage, but forced it into a smile when she began to look a little reproachful. "I learnt that tap water is so much more effective than conjured water when we were at Padfoot's earlier. Remember those Pain-Relieving potions I threw out ages ago?"

Hermione frowned pensively for a moment as she worked through her memory, before realization dawned on her face and she nodded. "You mean the ones you had Kreacher empty into the sink after spending nearly three whole hours brewing them? Were they brewed with conjured water?" She asked, interested enough to ignore Ron's annoyed grumbling at being ignored. She barely batted an eye when Ron slung a lanky arm over her shoulder and pulled her into him.

Harry nodded and led them to their classroom as Ron continued to mutter angrily under his breath, and leaned his back on the wall next to the door as the others made to line the walls out of habit - even the parents and adults, who hadn't been here for classes in decades. They all ignored Ernie as he continued to sulk and look at them with the intention of whinging – after Potions Hermione had shaken her head with a warning look when Harry had gone to ask Ernie if he was alright, and he'd taken the hint and backed off.

"Yeah, I didn't realize what I was doing wrong until I remembered the reason why we don't use our wands in potions; the water we make from our wands is literally made from magic, something we don't really add in potions if it doesn't need it, so it dulled the effectiveness and weakened the properties of the ingredients in the potion to the point where it made them essentially useless," he said, shrugging a shoulder.

He looked down the length of the wall to his left while Hermione mulled over his words, and spied the others talking quietly with each other. Mister and Misses Weasley were rather intense in their discussion with Bill, their expressions both grave and angry as Bill looked to be explaining something a little too serious for his liking, though he lingered on them for only a moment before looking away. It wasn't his business.

The three Malfoy's were all mixed in emotion, Lucius and Narcissa were smirking and Draco glowering, but they at least had an air of energy around and about them that the others didn't. The others were just talking, obviously bored. It was easy for the them to relax, they knew that they hadn't changed enough to effect their learning, while Harry had changed so drastically that he didn't know what could happen. Could he shoot lightning from his fingers? Could he breathe underwater? Not that he'd be trying that theory by swimming in the Black lake. Hell no, he was sure that the Mermaid's remember him from the Triwizard tournament and he was damn sure that he'd rather have a reunion with warded glass between them than nothing but the water they live in.

Hermione looked at him with astonishment when she finally came to a conclusion -despite his attention being elsewhere-, her gleaming brown eyes wide. "Is that why I'm always marked down on my potions? Because I'm using conjured water instead of tap water?" she asked, gobsmacked at the thought of that not occurring to her.

Harry pulled out of his reverie and nodded, a half-grin upturning the corners of his mouth. "I'm pretty sure the answer to that is pretty obvious Hermione. Why else do you think there were sinks in the classroom for?"

"I thought that they were there for us to wash our equipment," she admitted sheepishly, her cheeks pinking in embarrassment.

"Blimey!" Said Ron suddenly, gaping down at Hermione for one second and then turning to Harry with his own wide grin. "You know something that the most intelligent witch in Hogwarts doesn't! That's so wicked! Now I've got two people I can copy off in class!"

Harry was unable to correct him and say that he was still just as useless as before, as just then the door to the classroom suddenly slammed open.

And the bat-like figure of one Severus Snape appeared in the threshold.

Harry pushed away from the wall and stared up at the man in total shock, his jaw lost among the others on the floor. There was no freaking way that this was happening. No bloody way. The new Defense teacher was probably late, or not even coming until next week when school started. 

Snape looked down his large hooked nose at the three of them and scowled, though perhaps that was because it was far brighter out in the hall than it was in the actual classroom and he was being blinded by the light. "Enter," he snapped impatiently, crossing his arms across his thin chest and stepping to the side, allowing some light from the hallway to enter the room. It didn't help the others see that well, but Harry was hardly perturbed as he could see just fine with his new eyesight. It was the very first time he could see better than his friends, but he hardly had any time to celebrate that fact, as Snape was glaring impatiently at him.

Harry entered first under the heavy gaze of Snape, and moved to one of the seats at the front of the class, pulling his long hair over his shoulder along the way so it didn't get squashed between his back and the chair, where he found that it often got caught. Hermione and Ron sat down on either side of him out of habit when they found their way, and the others sort of just piled in at the back of the room. Harry figured that that was because they didn't want to stumble like Hermione and Ron had.

Through some extremely unfortunate bad luck, Malfoy chose to sit in the seat behind him. Right fucking behind him. He could feel the heavy weight of Malfoy's steely stare on the back of his head and was extremely tempted to turn around and rip his stupid eyeballs from their sockets. But as non-violent and tempting as that idea is, he actually didn't think that that would go down too well with the others in the room. Ron excluded.

Harry closed his eyes tightly and inwardly prayed to whoever or whatever's up there, Please don't let me kill that blonde son of a bastard, please don't let me kill that blonde son of a bastard . . .

"You shall be learning the defense against Dementor's in today's lesson, open your books to page three hundred and nineteen," said Snape softly in that dark voice of his as he slammed the door closed with a flick of his wand and stormed up to the front of the classroom, his robes billowing out behind him in their familiar fashion.

He tapped his wand on the blackboard in a similar fashion to the way he did in the potions classroom, but with decidedly more energy. The familiar spiked writing returned under the eerie orange glow of the candles, though in an entirely different context that Harry didn't need to read to know all about what they were doing. On either side of him, Ron and Hermione shuddered.

"As there are still Dementor's roaming about the world in highly unsuspecting places, we must be prepared in every way if such an unlikely event that one should attack occurs. For those unaware, the Dementor is an incredibly dark and soulless creature solely feared for its ability to suck the soul from its victim, a fate too horrible for most to witness and is regarded as a death sentence for the criminals residing in Azkaban, it is known as the Dementor's Kiss," said Snape lowly, his black orbs touching upon every silent person in the room. Harry held his gaze for as long as he dared before Snape had to look away.

"Dementor's siphon all hope and happiness from its victim, often leaving them reliving their worst memories - and that does not mean an embarrassing memory, as many wizards and witches often like to think," he continued, pursing his lips disdainfully as if he thought they believed the same thing. "Many never remember their very worst memory due to the act of suppressing, and as a result of this, their bodies are forced into a state of shock that does not register their surroundings, and the Dementor is able to administer the Kiss without problem.

"As for detection, we are able to feel an oncoming Dementor by the state of our surroundings and the air itself, as a Dementor is an incredibly dark creature that radiates pure depression, sorrow and a coldness that freezes and rots anything within the immediate area. You will feel a Dementor's influence when your mind begins to fog and you loss the will to live," Snape paused to let this sink in, his demeanor patient as a few adults at the back paled and shuddered. He carried on immediately when they relaxed and tapped the board once more with his wand, the words 'Patronus Charm,' appeared under the heading, 'Dementor's' with a flourish.

"As the Dementor's feed on our happiness and hope, we shall begin with the most obvious and practical defense known amongst our kind. Can anyone tell me what the incantation for the Patronus Charm is?" Snape asked, sounding less and less like the dungeon bat and more like the professor they'd all wanted and needed for a defense teacher. Harry was actually quite impressed with how Snape was teaching, however begrudgingly.

Hermione's hand shot into the air before Snape finished the question, and he pointedly ignored her. Obviously, it was because Hermione wasn't supposed to be participating in these lessons and wasn't even supposed to be sitting with Harry. Though, perhaps he was looking for an answer that didn't resemble the one written in a textbook's.

Predictably, he looked to Harry instead, ignoring the two other raised hands that belonged to Malfoy and Blaise. "Potter, what is the incantation?" He asked, watching Harry intently.

"Expecto Patronum, sir," Harry answered promptly, hardly having to think about it. Honestly, he'd used the spell so much in his short years of being a wizard that it was practically the first thing that came to mind. Along with Expelliarmus of course.

Snape accepted the answer with a nod. "Correct, and what is necessary for a Patronus to be cast?"

Hermione's hand once again shot up into the air, and Snape once again ignored her, though it was obvious that she was trying what little patience he'd seemed to have gained while in the role of the Defense professor. She frowned angrily and held her hand just that tad bit higher, even going so far as to wiggle it.

"Hermione!" Ron whispered dubiously when no one else in the room answered, all of them obviously distracted by Hermione's persistence at answering the question. He caught her annoyed and impatient attention quickly and shook his head exasperatedly, gesturing for her to lower her hand, which she did so very, very reluctantly. That was until she noticed how silent the room was. She smiled sheepishly and relaxed in her seat.

Snape ignored their little conversation with practiced ease and stared rather heavily at Harry, obviously expecting him to answer. He seemed really intent on picking Harry's brain for all the information he could get, even though he had four other students in the room obviously willing to answer. Two more on either side of Harry, if he wanted as well. Though, what Harry didn't know was that everyone in the room was interested in what he had to say; especially Draco and the elder Malfoy's. That is why Lucius and Narcissa asked Snape to teach the Patronus Charm four weeks early, after all. They intended to get to the bottom of Harry's worsening nightmares, and especially the cause for the overly excessive amount of Dreamless Sleep potion in his room.

They would not have a son in-law that drugged himself to sleep at night because of years of pain and torture, their old Dark Lord be damned.

"A happy memory is needed, sir," Harry answered before Snape could ask again. Snape accepted the answer with yet another nod, but his mouth was set in an unimpressed grim line.

"But if a happy memory doesn't immediately spring to mind, the best memory to look for is an extremely significant one," Harry continued, thinking of his mother and the fateful night that marked him as Voldemort's equal. He could hear his mother screaming now, even without the Dementor's pressing their influence on him. He would always be able to hear her voice in the back of his mind.

"An example of that, if you please," Snape said, for once looking interested and not the least bit like he wanted to murder Harry when he spoke. Though the reason for that was quite simple; Severus had never known a Patronus to be cast from anything other than a happy memory, and he wondered just what the little Golden Boy had as his chosen memory that was more powerful than happiness.

"Voldemort murdering my parents," Harry admitted shortly after realizing that there was no other way to put it. Horrified gasps and sharp intakes of breath could be heard from the back of the room, and one even right behind him -which must have been Malfoy yawning-, but Harry paid them no mind. He stared at Snape, who stared right back, his intense black eyes tinged with horror and his face alarmingly white - the most emotion Harry had seen on his infamously blank face.

"I found that though there is no happiness in the memory, it was the first time I'd ever heard my mothers voice, and I take strength in hearing her defend me, hearing her fight back. She is my strength when I cast a Patronus."

Snape was silent for a moment, just staring at him with unnerving and annoyingly blank black eyes. It was far too quiet. Hermione and Ron didn't look at him, they kept their gaze on the floor, but Harry could feel Malfoy's eyes drilling holes into the back of his head, almost as if they were trying to dig out the secrets and memories kept in there.

Snape regained his focus and tapped the board with his wand. The words 'Expecto Patronum' appeared underneath the two headings, and he cleared his throat to gain their attention, which was easily won. “As Mister Potter has said, a significant memory is used in place of a happy one for those who cannot pick one strong enough. We will come back to this spell later on in the week, for now I wish to move on to the next defense. It isn't the most common of knowledge that one might possess, but being an Animagus comes in quite handy when avoiding a Dementor . . .”

-oOoOoOoOo-

Lunch was decidedly more solemn than breakfast had been, the atmosphere of the group positively stifling and rife with horror from the beginning of double DADA class, but of course that wasn't enough to stop a certain Ronald Weasley from gorging himself on the bangers and mash laid out in plentiful platters and serving bowls. Harry's worst memory obviously wasn't enough to put him off his food, not anymore at least.

"Honestly Ronald, do you have to eat like that all the time? Do you even chew the food you have in your mouth before swallowing?" Demanded Hermione, watching her boyfriend stuff his mouth with yet another spoonful of mashed potato. She grimaced when he smiled at her, his mouth still full of chewed up food, and Harry joined her in grimacing when he watched a piece of chewed up sausage fall onto the table.

There was another reason why he wasn't eating lunch; the sight of Ron eating was enough to put a pig off of its food.

Ron swallowed noisily and cleared his throat. "Course I do, 'Mione," he said, pausing to swallow once more as he poured himself a goblet of orange juice. "I've been hungry since breakfast, I'm hardly going to try and kill myself by choking on a piece of sausage, now am I?"

"You ate three servings at breakfast!" Hermione exclaimed, shocked. "How in the world can you possibly be hungry after all that and still eat your second serving of lunch?!"

Ron gave his -somehow flat- stomach a pat and winked at his girlfriend's adorably pink face, to which Harry was amused to see. "A high metabolism, love," he teased, before picking up his fork once again, spearing a large piece of sausage on it and scooping up a large glob of mash. Most of the potato missed its mark and fell onto the table with a dull spat and Harry's face twisted. Utterly disgusting.

Hermione rolled her eyes and set to piling up her own plate of food, scooping up a large spoonful of mash before it was inhaled by Ron's ever-moving mouth. “Just remember Ronald, a high metabolism doesn't last for long,” she reminded him, grabbing a serving of peas and corn as well.

“Yeah, but neither does looks,” Ron quipped, snorting a laugh to himself when she gave him a stern look.

She turned to Harry when Ron began gorging himself too much to talk, and frowned when she saw nothing on his plate. “Harry, why aren't you eating?” She asked, frowning further in concern when she noticed his slightly pained expression. “You need to eat at least something, we have Care of Magical Creatures next and --”

What!?” Ron shrieked, spitting a mushy glob of food out of his mouth. He froze when Hermione pinned him with a dark stare. He swallowed the remains of the food in his mouth and laughed nervously. “I mean, er .. we have Care next?” He asked anxiously.

“Yes Ronald,” she said stiffly, glaring at him for one more moment before turning back to Harry. “Harry, you really need to eat to get your energy levels up, there's going to be a big test, and one that you need to be very active in.”

“The one Harry's going to be fighting in, right?” Ron asked shrewdly, still shocked but no longer spitting any food at them. In fact he looked a little green around the gills to Harry.

Hermione let out a sigh of irritation and closed her eyes tightly. “Yes Ronald. Harry's going to be tested on who or what his natural enemies are. The others won't of course, but that's because they're werewolves and vampires, we all know who their enemies are.”

“Then why would they make Care into a test if Harry would be the only one in it?” Ron questioned slowly, confused. 

Harry stared with wide eyes between the two of them, too shell shocked to do anything other than breathe, and even that was a troubling task.

Hermione huffed and knotted her arms across her filling chest, which distracted Ron, though only slightly. “Because Ronald, Harry's a Valerian – which, if you haven't noticed, is one of the most rarest of beings in the world. There are no records of a Valerian existing in over hundreds of years, and the only way of knowing what Harry's natural enemies are is to test him with the only creatures he could come across in his stay here. Meaning those in the shallow parts of the forest.”

“Okay, I get it, Harry's got to fight Centaurs, giant spiders and all those other beasts that want to kill us all,” Ron sighed, nodding and beginning to twirl his fork in his food. He looked up at Harry then and jerked his head at the food between them. “'Mione's right mate, you better get a start on your food, you'll be needing the energy.”

Hermione sniffed primly and went back to eating her lunch, ignoring the small specks of food that went flying in her direction when Ron attacked his food with gusto. 

"Bollocks," Harry muttered, stabbing a sausage.

-oOoOoOoOo-

Dumbledore was the one to lead them down the path to Hagrid's hut, every wizard and witch in the castle following just behind him, most likely as a precaution. Harry had long ago firmed himself, resigning himself to the fact that maybe his days of fighting weren't exactly over. He was surrounded by his friends and family, Mister and Misses Weasley were just behind him and the Lupin's were in front of him with Ron and Hermione on either side of him. A box of support, one could say.

The other four students were walking with their guardian's, which meant that Ernie was the one left trailing at the back of the group. The Hufflepuff had bored the tears out of McGonagall and had annoyed Snape to the point of almost snapping his neck, and only Sprout stepping in stopped anything bad from happening to her little Puff. Not that that stopped Snape from shooting the poor boy poisonous glares.

“There's nothing to be frightened of, Harry,” said Arthur kindly from behind, patting his shoulder encouragingly as they treaded carefully down the brazen path. “There's nothing that can hurt you while we're here. You're perfectly safe.”

Harry nodded to show that he'd listened, but he didn't do anything else - he couldn't do anything else but walk. He was a wreck, his stomach was in knots, his temples were pounding from stress headaches and his teeth were practically tearing his lips off. He was also a little pissed, but the worry overshadowed it. Though that didn't stop him from thinking about it. After all this time, they still hadn't gotten out of that stupid habit of keeping important information -that concerns him, mind you- from him. They'd spent weeks together and they hadn't mentioned a thing, not for all the time spent talking to each other! 

Harry didn't know whether to scream or hit something.

“This shouldn't be too difficult, little bro,” said Bill from behind his parents, grinning over the top of his mothers head. “Just remember that you've gone through much worse and you'll be absolutely fine, but if you do end up with another scar, there's plenty of spells I know that can make them look cool –-”

“William!” Molly gasped, stumbling slightly as she turned to smack her son on the arm while still walking. Arthur steadied her with a hand on her elbow. “What an awful thing to say to poor Harry! You apologize right now young man! Or so help me I will cut all of that ridiculous hair off and tear that earring out before you can count to three!”

Bill smiled dryly at his mother before grinning over at Harry again, ignoring the reprimanding glare being sent his way by his short mother. “Sorry, little bro. But seriously, remember what I said.”

“'ARRY!” A loud voice boomed from down the way, distracting them all from Molly slapping her son again.

Harry looked down in the direction of Hagrid's hut and saw the man himself standing by the large vegetable patch that boasted a variety of large vegetables. He looked as hairy and dirt-streaked as ever, and was sporting an even longer and fluffier black beard than before. His kind small black eyes were wide with welcome. “'Aven't seen yeh in months! 'Ow've you been with those ruddy Muggle's of yer's? They been treatin' you right?” He asked in his rumbling voice, his mouth spread in a wide toothy grin underneath his beard.

Harry grinned up at Hagrid cheerfully, though it wasn't nearly as bright as it usually was. “I'm fine, Hagrid, a little tired and all but I couldn't be happier –”

“Blimey, Harry! Yeh've gotten taller!” Hagrid exclaimed with shock, his dark eyes seeming to finally take in the man in front of him. “And yeh've grown yeh hair too! You look great, just like yeh mother did I'd wager – yeh must've been eatin' my rock cakes that I've been sendin' yeh! Lily always did like'em, y'know, couldn't go a day without'em.”

Harry smiled and let out a small laugh despite the tight feeling in his chest. “Thanks, Hagrid. Yes and thanks for them by the way, I couldn't have survived without them. Did you add something else into the recipe? I could have sworn that they tasted different this time, much more sweeter.” And rockier, he mentally added.

Hagrid swelled up with pride and grinned, his cheeks beginning to pink. “I put s'more sugar in it, taste good did it? Olympe – er, that's Madam Maxime to you – said I should try addin' more sugar –-”

“While we're all fascinated by your riveting conversation, I daresay that we should be getting on with the lesson, don't you think, professor Hagrid?” Drawled Snape poisonously, back to his sneering self. 

Hagrid turned a dark shade of red that looked like he'd been slapped by the Whomping Willow, and nodded vigorously. “Right yeh are, p'fessor Snape, right yeh are,” he said, before calming himself down and gesturing them to the path that passed by his hut, the one they usually took that led them to the small field where they held their practical lessons. “Right this way, I've got a good lesson planned fer yeh all today.”

They followed Hagrid down the path quietly, all too nervous about their surroundings and the lesson planned for them to really speak to one another. Harry kept an eye pealed for any sightings of the werewolves rumoured to be in here and was already having to stop himself from reacting to the negative atmosphere of the anxious group, so any talking with him was usually ignored or answered in a clipped and short voice. He was feeling very shaky.

“Just past 'ere!” Hagrid called from up ahead, waving a large beefy hand over his head.

Looking up ahead made Harry's half-empty stomach churn unpleasantly, but the more he focused on their surroundings made him feel unsafe and very tense, vulnerable in every sense of the word. So when the path suddenly ended, it was a very tense Harry that followed the group onto the field, eyes tracking the trees surrounding them obsessively.

“We're 'ere!” Hagrid called unnecessarily, shifting off to the side of a very large cage-like structure that would house the creatures. There was a large fence bordering the even larger square of trodden down grass that looked to be a field where horses were put to graze, but Harry could see the criss-crossing lines of magic extending from the base of the fence upward. It was very heavily warded, and was obviously there in case the creature were to escape. It didn't make Harry feel any better however.

“And where exactly is here?” Asked Ernie timidly, his wild eyes flitting from tree to tree around him as if he was expecting something bad to jump out.

“We're exactly where we want to be,” said McGonagall briskly, clearly not in the mood for another of Ernie's hysterics. “I suggest not thinking about the happenings in the deeper parts of the forest, Mister Macmillan, if you cannot handle it.”

Ernie nodded sheepishly and didn't say anything else, looking incapable of so much as frowning as his cheeks were a violent red color. McGonagall nodded brusquely and stepped out from the group of teachers gathered before the others, joining Dumbledore and Hagrid as they approached the thickly warded fence and spoke quietly to one another.

"As you can see, a heavily warded fence has been erected around the perimeter of the cage, don't touch it, it'll give you a nasty shock that'll send you into the Hospital Wing," she called over her shoulder, making sure to give the Weasley twins, Ron and Bill stern looks that spoke levels of mistrust and suspicion. Ron flushed and nodded meekly, even though the aged witch had already turned back around.

"What do you think that was all about, Gred?"

"I don't know Forge, but it seemed to me that she doesn't trust us," said George, mock scowling at the stern woman.

"Must've found one of our little tricks and traps, Gred," said Fred, looking at his twin with a wide devilish smile. "I bet that it was the purple hair dye in the third floor alcove."

"Nah," George waved him off instantly, but still smiled that mischievous little grin that always made Harry amused and wary in equal parts. "I reckon it was that dung bomb we left in the fifth floor corridor, she must've tripped it by accident - she has that 'I Just Got Dung Bombed' look about her."

Fred cast a searching look at their old House Mistress and cocked his head to the side. He grinned widely and nodded at his twin when he found what he was apparently looking for. "So she does!" He exclaimed with a wicked smile. "Reckon we can get away with putting more of our fantastic products in the castle? Say . . in the dungeons?"

"Do it and I'll make sure that your rooms are stacked full of assignments that you 'forgot' about before you left, and I'll make sure to mention them to professor McGonagall so you'll both have to complete them," said Hermione primly, crossing her arms over her chest. "And besides, Harry's dorm is in the dungeons and I'd hate to have to scrape you both off the walls all because you set off a dung bomb too close to his room."

Fred and George gaped at her for a moment, an all too similar situation to the time when they were trialing their new Wheezes in the Gryffindor common room and Hermione had threatened an owl to Molly Weasley. "But what if we only use them on –"

"Alright, alright! Gather round!" Hagrid called from nearby the fence, cutting Fred off mid-sentence. He looked insanely happy next to the two serious professor's, his wide grin looking a lot like a Cheshire cat's.

Harry clenched his jaw and strode past the others, ignoring the twin's mutters of unfairness and rudeness. He was too wound up and wired to talk, hardly ready for whatever was to be thrown at him. Dumbledore smiled encouragingly at him from Hagrid and McGonagall's side, looking as if he was watching a friendly game of Wizards chess instead of a massacre. McGonagall's lips were so thin Harry was afraid that they'd disappeared.

"Welcome to Care of Magical Creatures," Dumbledore said graciously, smiling beatifically at them all. Harry especially, making the young man inhale deeply to relax himself. "As I'm sure you will all have worked out, this lesson will be to discover any unknown enmities between our talented students and the creatures of the world. As this forest has a supply of common creatures you will all come across in your long lifetimes, we have decided to hold a test of sorts to conclude which will trigger defensive instincts and which will not."

Harry forced his body to remain as cool and relaxed as possible, closing his eyes for a brief moment of peace before he had to engage in a fight with whatever Hagrid and Dumbledore had drudged up from the depths of the forest.

"These wards are in place to contain any stray spells or creatures that attempt to break free, for the safety of the rest of us," Dumbledore continued. "There may be violence - not enough to damage either the creature or pupil, but enough to provoke a reaction or an instinct. Students will be called up at random for their turn, but for now, feel free to speak amongst one another."

As the final word was spoken a cloud of chatter rose among the large group, the three vampires speaking quickly with their parents with obviously strained and stressed words. Harry remained quiet and allowed the Weasley's and Tonks to reassure him with rather empty words, he couldn't help feeling as if they were only sweeping his worries under the rug and not helping him at all. Not even Molly's motherly hugs could help him, and he knew that that was a very bad sign. His stomach was turning to rot the longer he waited and was jumping nervously in his belly.

Remus had taken a stricken Ernie aside to have a few words with him before he was to go up, acting the part of a supportive professor who cared for all students and not just their favorite. Harry didn't know why Ernie was so worried, he already knew who his 'enemy' was, and the same thing went for the other three. Though that apparently didn't stop them from stressing and seeking reassurance from their parents.

Harry glared at Malfoy when he caught the blonde looking at him again and he fought hard to suppress a growl. That was the fifth time he'd caught the blonde looking at him and he was very quickly losing his patience, he was practically holding onto it by the skin of his teeth. He really didn't need anymore stress, and he could figure out very easily just why the blonde was looking at him so intensely for; to make him crack. That's always the reason with the blonde devil.

“You'll be fine mate,” Ron said for the fifth, clapping him on the back with a manly thump. Harry glared heavily at Malfoy as he looked over –again– and the blonde looked away –again–. “We've gone through worse – hell, you've killed a bloody sixty foot Basilisk with a sword! What else can't you do?”

“I don't know Ron,” Harry answered dryly. "But I suppose Ginny will be glad to know that we won't be using her as an incentive this time."

“I think we should be discussing defensive techniques for your test and not silly little offensive jokes," snapped Hermione, frowning deeply and angrily at them. "I don't know whether you've realized this yet Harry, but you could get seriously hurt in this and I'm hurt that you could even joke around at a time like this."

Harry smiled as much as he could and gave her arm a comforting pat. "I'll be fine, as long as I keep my wits about me and my feet on the ground I'll be alright," he said comfortingly, not really realizing that he was doing the comforting and not the one being comforted. "Besides, I have my wand with me, if a certain creature doesn't agree with me then I'll just stun it. Nothing to worry about."

"And if you can't stun it or it's invulnerable to spells?" 

"Then I'll tear its head off with my teeth," Harry answered, only partly joking. 

Hermione opened her mouth to berate him, but he held a hand up before she could start. "It's not like we'll be forced to fight them if we don't feel the need to Hermione, Dumbledore isn't mad enough for that to happen yet. But if it makes you feel any better, I won't fight anything unless I specifically feel the need to."

He could tell from the look on her face that she didn't feel any better, but he knew that she was well acquainted with his stubbornness and that she wasn't going to push for anything, not so soon anyway, everything was still too new and shifty, easily prodded in the wrong direction should someone say the wrong thing. He was tender, something they had never thought he would be. It was new ground for all of them.

"This is truly barbaric, I hope you all know that," she said in a tight voice, before turning and storming off to wherever. Probably to the professor's to give them all an earful of how wrong it is to peg students up against creatures. Ron gave them a pained look as he went wandering off after her, leaving Harry to be comforted by the other Weasley's. Harry didn't mind them leaving, it was better if they did, really. They were becoming quite awkward with him, unsure of what they should say or do. 

"It's alright, Harry dear, she's just gone off to cool down," Molly said soothingly, scooping up all of his hair into her expert hands. She quickly spun it into a tight bun on the top of his head and charmed it so it wouldn't fall down, the spell tingling along his scalp with an almost tickling sensation. "There," she said bracingly, a strained smile on her face. "Now your beautiful hair won't be in the way for your test."

"I think he needs it down Mum," Bill said, eyeing the large bun with sharp and intelligent blue eyes. 

Molly gave her eldest son a fierce look, grabbing both of Harry's shoulders in her motherly hands as if to steer him away. Harry kept his mouth shut. "Just because you like your hair long and in the way does not mean that Harry does as well! My, with all this long hair he'll be caught on absolutely everything!"

Bill rolled his bright blue eyes at his mothers theatrics, which only served to inflame her more as she was soon clutching to Harry's shoulders like they were a life line. She was incredibly worried for her seventh son, he could tell, but Bill was more worried that Molly would dislocate one of Harry's shoulders if she carried on this way. The poor boy already looked like he was biting his tongue. "I don't think Valerian's would have had long hair just because they like it that way mum, and even if they did have you ever known Harry to have properly long hair? Like, at least shoulder length?" He pressed. 

Molly stared at him with frightened and worried brown eyes, looking as if she was scared out of her mind for the boy in her arms. It was obviously not about his hair, it was about her worrying for him. She was trying to keep herself busy, and arguments were one of the ways she dealt with stress. Bill smiled softly at her and moved to gently pry her hands from Harry's shoulders. "Exactly," he said softly. "So that means you should let it down. You can play with his hair later when we're back in the common room, I'm sure Harry wouldn't mind, he seems to enjoy it when you rake your fingers through his hair."

"You can't possibly know that his hair will help him," she whispered doubtfully through tight lips, her chin wobbling ominously as she was slowly taken from the boy she'd taken to calling her son. Harry shook out his shoulders to get rid of the pins and needles, but turned around to smile comfortingly at Molly.

Bill pet her shoulder with a large and slender hand, drawing her into his side for a small cuddle. "I'm sure Hermione would know, she knows absolutely everything in the Hogwarts library. I bet she even read the library index just to memorize where everything is."

"She did that in our first year," Harry said, rolling his eyes fondly at the memory. "I heard about it from a gaggle of third year Ravenclaw's as I was heading to Herbology one day, apparently she'd taken their favorite table and wouldn't leave. Ron and I laughed about it for hours."

Molly's thinned lips twitched at that, before she let out a small breathy laugh and the stress slowly drained from her body as she relaxed in Bill's arms. "I'm sure that girl knows absolutely everything in those books by now, she'll have her own library the size of the Burrow when she's older I'll bet."

"More like the Ministry," George put in humorously, shaking his head exasperatedly. "She's a walking thesaurus that just absorbs everything! I'm telling you now, she's the go-to girl for cheats come N.E.W.T time!"

"Wish we had one of them for our's George, would've been incredibly handy," Fred tutted, shaking his head in mock sadness.

"We never did ours Fred, we were smart enough to leave before the Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Test could get us," George said, sharing a very large grin with his twin.

"Don't get cheeky now boys, you're still not too old to be put over my knee," Molly warned, looking at them both with narrowed bright eyes.

"But we're your favorite sons!" Fred cried, clutching to his twin dramatically with wide brown eyes. "How could you bear to hit your two little angels!"

"The shock of it will surely kill us! Our loving and caring mother hitting her two innocent and handsome children over a something so small!" George continued, a look of exaggerated horror coming onto his face. "What is the world coming to?!"

"Oh you two, I swear," Molly muttered, shaking her head and closing her eyes as if closing them would make them disappear, or she could gain some more patience.

Fred grinned at his twin and relaxed his hold, releasing him. "It's alright mum, we know you love us and our creativity."

"We get it from you, mind," George added cheekily, moving to pull her reluctant form from Bill's arms and into the middle of himself and Fred, where they both wrapped their arms around her. "All our inventiveness and crazy thoughts had to come from someone and naturally, it had to be someone we inherited everything from. You."

"No, no," Molly denied, shaking her head frantically. "My side of the family and I are normal - completely normal! We never had so much as an ounce of craziness, we were all completely sane! You get this all from your father!"

"Oh mummy dearest, no point denying it now," Fred cooed, petting her red hair affectionately, if a bit roughly. "You birthed a Curse Breaker, a Dragonologist, two of the most handsome and creative -"

"- Not to mention charismatic, amazing and awe inspiring!" George added in, knocking his shoulder into his poor mother.

"- wizards this world has come to know as pranksters - almost as good as the Marauders in my opinion!" Fred said, patting his mother just a tad more firmly.

"You're missing three children," Molly put in dryly, a reproachful but amused look of acceptance on her face as she allowed Fred to continue his heavy petting, her head ducking on her shoulders. She really wasn't that angry about their choices in lifestyles, she was proud as punch to have them all the way they are - though she'd rather them not know that, she wanted to keep them on their toes. And if Harry wanted to settle down and become an artist instead of a war hero, that would be even better. Even though she knew that the chances of that happening were nil.

"Right, I was getting to them," Fred said blithely, unconvincingly. Molly rolled her eyes fondly. "You also birthed a lowly Prefect-turned-Head-Boy-turned-Prat-Ministry-Official, another scummy Prefect and okay-ish Quidditch Keeper and an absolutely brilliant Quidditch Chaser that will most likely become a Quidditch World Star!"

"After she finishes Hogwarts that is," George added pointedly, grinning. "There is no way she's taking another leaf out of our book and upstaging our departure."

Molly was so far gone in rolling her eyes that she ignored the jab at her Ronald's achievement of being a Prefect and the reminder of their spectacular leaving from Hogwarts. She merely wound her arms around her twin sons' waist's and squeezed them to her. She loved them all, arguments, prank wars, fights and all. She couldn't be prouder of them. 

"If I could have your attention please!" Called McGonagall, who was standing just a few feet before Albus Dumbledore and the assembled teachers. Harry noted that the place where Hagrid had stood before was empty, and he felt the absurd need to shudder in fear. The half-giant was probably going to collect some last minute additions to their challenges, something no doubt deadly.

McGonagall waited for everyone to silence and look at her before she continued on in her brisk voice, her posture rigid against the gathering of relaxed teachers behind her. "The examination will begin momentarily, if the relevant students would come forth, we shall begin explaining the rules."

Harry walked forward on numb legs, his mind clouded with too many thoughts of how grizzly his death might be when he entered the pen to think properly. He was joined by the other four in walking towards the fence, Ernie almost clinging to his side like an anxious child, his arms constantly touching Harry's and Malfoy drifting closer to his other side with each passing step, his arm coming dangerously close to brushing against his.

Dumbledore wordlessly offered his back of lemon drops to all of them when they stood before the band of teachers, ignoring the annoyed scowl on McGonagall's face at the small disruption. Harry sucked on three of the five lemon drops he'd grabbed while he listened to McGonagall, the sour candy clinking noisily against his teeth. He could feel Malfoy's eyes watching him, but he didn't feel strong enough to look - he wouldn't be able to look away. This situation could turn out like the one in the bathroom, and he really, really didn't want that. He wasn't strong enough for it.

"The examination will begin in a few moments, please wait by the fence - and Macmillan, don't touch it," McGonagall stressed, almost glaring at the Hufflepuff as he stumbled away with the rest of them. Ernie tried to nod back at her, but he stumbled once again and almost face planted, Harry just catching him by the tips of his fingers. McGonagall closed her eyes and looked to be praying for patience. Sprout was grimacing rather painfully.

"What do you think we'll be facing?" Blaise asked quietly, his skin worryingly pale underneath the Italian tan.  

"Obviously something utterly dangerous, otherwise it wouldn't be a challenge," Malfoy answered Blaise sardonically, a cynical smile on his handsome face.

Blaise grimaced and shook his head minutely. "Mother said that they didn't have the cage when she went through her own test, only because the beasts she battled weren't as dangerous as the ones we're facing. She said to expect something with eight legs, saying that a routine never changes at Hogwarts no matter what, whatever that means." 

"We'll be facing an Acromantula," Harry stated, gaining their attention. "Hagrid has a nest of them somewhere off the main path, if we're supposed to be battling common creatures then they'll be up first."

"How do you know that there's Acromantula here?" Blaise asked warily, still a little awkward in speaking to him.

"And how do you know where they're located?" Malfoy asked suspiciously, but surprisingly not unkindly. 

"In Second Year we had to go into the forest to solve what the monster in the Chamber of Secrets was," Harry explained shortly, ignoring Ernie as he shuddered and shook with fear beside him. Obviously Second Year was still badly remembered in the Hufflepuff House. "Ron and I had to tread into the forest and search for them, it was quite difficult as it was dark, but not unmanageable. We were found and taken into the nest."

"You make it sound so easy," Malfoy muttered, pursing his lips pensively. His dark gun metal grey eyes regarded him curiously, his jaw clenching actively. "Why is it that I don't believe you?" 

"Why do you care?" Harry shot back. 

Malfoy suddenly looked as if he'd been drugged by Amortentia, his eyes softening and his mouth turning up into a small - pleasant smile. Harry froze, feeling an all too familiar ache begin in his chest. Not now, please not now, he almost begged. If Malfoy suddenly flew at him now, he wouldn't be able to defend himself - a thing that terrified him to the core. He wouldn't be able to fight Malfoy off, he could feel his knees already weakening under the weight of Malfoy's stare.

"Harry Potter!" Dumbledore suddenly called.

Harry hurried to move towards Dumbledore, thankful for an easy getaway. But not so grateful when he realized that he would now have to face whatever is inside the fence. Dumbledore smiled encouragingly and gave his shoulder a firm pat with an old wrinkled hand. "Good luck Harry," he said genially, leading him passed the fence. "You'll be perfectly fine. Just follow your instincts and nothing will go wrong." 

"Thank you sir," Harry answered quietly, forcing a bright smile onto his face as Dumbledore gave him one last encouraging smile and left, the wards shifting around his tall thin frame to accept him. The smile fell from his face when the large cage rattled, and a long, thick black leg edged slowly out of one of the square holes to pat at the ground carefully. It was an Acromantula.

Harry shifted away from the side of the cage where the spider appeared most apparent and stood silently in one of the corners with sharp watchful eyes. The spider would rely on scent to locate him, and then use its eyes to see him. It wouldn't attack until it knew what he was and what his weaknesses were. He had until then to establish a defense. 

"Release me!" Cried the Acromantula desperately in its terrible voice, stamping its foot into the ground repeatedly to get help.

Harry shuddered unexpectedly at the sudden urge to help the poor creature, but he stayed put. That was, at least, until he suddenly found himself tearing the sides of the cage apart at the hinges with his hands and he was practically crooning to the spider to soothe its panic as he entered the cage. It turned to him and shot backwards into a corner, its eight large black eyes watching him closely with fear and panic, clicking its pincers rapidly in a spider way of shuddering. Harry wasn't afraid of it, nor did he want it to be afraid and least of all of him. It was incredibly odd.

Harry cooed and reached a hand towards it, palm face up to show that he wasn't about to attack. He radiated calmness, trying to soothe the spider with his aura, and waited patiently for it to calm down.

Its pincers clicked nervously and it shifted ever so slowly towards him, almost crawling but not quite. It didn't speak again, but instead raised its hairy body to accept Harry's comforting hand. Harry crooned to it and pet it softly, carefully, as if it were a child and not a man-eating spider. He was following his instincts -which had never led him astray before-, and they told him to care for it. So he was.

He was unaware of the sudden changes to his person; the slightly pointier angled cheekbones that sloped outward in an ethereal and beautiful way, the emerald green irises that expanded to color the whites of his eyes, the sudden appearance of two large translucent leathery wings that matched the color of his hair on his upper back and the ancient black markings that flowed like streaks of water down his sides and around the wing bones in his back. He noticed nothing of the drastic changes. Until a perfectly aimed Stupefy stunned the spider and it had fallen to the ground in a heap. His magnificent darkening wings spread out in a display of anger and he snarled with rage at the person who dared hurt something in his care.

But then caught the stunned expressions on his fellow friends and peers faces and stopped short.

No one spoke as Dumbledore fixed up the cage with a complex wave of his wand and secured the Acromantula inside it, and Hagrid carefully pushed the cage from the small enclosure to replace it with another with a quietly whimpering Centaur. No one spoke as Harry repeated the same tactics with the next few creatures and beasts, caring for them and soothing their fear. And no one spoke as a quietly snarling Draco Malfoy was restrained by his parents at each dangerous creature that Harry faced, and if anyone was curious, they certainly didn't voice it.

They were too entranced with Harry to say anything.

Chapter Text

14. Moments Repeated.

It was Blaise's turn now in the test, Malfoy having gone just before him and Theodore before him. Which left Ernie to be last, most likely Sprout's last hope that the pale and shaking Hufflepuff would soak up some of the tactics and strategies they used and would actually stand a fighting chance, if nothing else than to protect himself. Harry just saw it as a way of prolonging Ernie's torture.

Harry was sitting a good few feet away from his silent friends and family, annoyed but unsurprised by their lack of greeting or talking. He'd shocked them too much, he supposed. What with the wings and things; he'd had a rather awestruck Centaur practically worship him when it came time to 'fight'. Loral, his name was, a young one that had been caught by one of Greyback's traps and found by Hagrid. Harry had been very angry to see rope burns all over the poor Centaur's limbs, some welling up with blood, but Loral had assured him that he was fine and had laid his head back in Harry's lap where he stayed until someone stunned him and exchanged him for another poor creature. 

After Harry had tended to his last creature and finished the test, Dumbledore had led him away from the Weasley's almost as soon as he'd passed through the wards on the fence, laying a comforting hand on his shoulder as he took him to a place behind the scattered groups where he could sit under a tree and relax. Not that he could under the stares, but still. "It's not that they are afraid, my dear boy, but rather that they don't understand," he had said. 

They would never understand, Harry thought, frowning as he watched the Weasley's watch Blaise parry and attack a different and much larger and fiercer Acromantula. I've always been different to them, but now I'm too different. A different person, a different species to them. A rotten apple in a basket of ripe oranges.

"You were quite impressive, Lord Potter.”

Harry blinked in surprise at the gentle voice, not having seen her walking up to him as he'd been so deep in thought. He spared Narcissa a small smile and shuffled in his spot, his wings fluttering anxiously behind him and imitating arms as they pressed against his sides comfortingly. She looked at them for a moment, but wasn't rude enough to stare at them like everyone else had. “Thank you,” he said politely. “But no one seems to share your opinion.”

Narcissa levelled him with a soft stare, her usual chips of ice blue eyes warm. She let out a refined tinkling laugh. “My husband is quite enamored with your transformations, it is unlikely that you would ever catch him saying so, but then again, praise from Lucius would be like a butterfly biting,” she said, her eyes crinkling up. “May I sit with you?” She asked, gesturing to the place on his right.

Harry agreed and shuffled to the left, allowing her more space to sit. Narcissa swept up her long elegant light blue robes and gracefully lowered herself onto the slightly warmed grass, her legs folding up underneath her delicately. “Thank you, all this standing around makes my feet hurt,” she said, as if confiding something secret.

Harry noticed two small but expensive looking high heeled shoes sitting by her knees, and laughed quietly.

They were silent for a few moments, enjoying the gentle breeze ruffling the trees around and behind them and watching as Blaise threw around the hissing and pained Acromantula, Harry had to squeeze his eyes closed and clench his hands to ignore its cries. There was a final hiss and explosion, and then someone stunning the Acromantula, and Blaise's first challenge was over.

“I've always despised the idea of fighting, you know," Narcissa said suddenly, breaking Harry from his concentration with her soft voice. "I'd never thought that my child would be involved in situations where he could be harmed. Such a thing was always frowned upon when I was a child, my mother would never have allowed Draco to do this. I almost didn't." 

Harry didn't know what to say to that. So he just nodded and kept quiet, distracting himself with the silky wings that were inching their way around him on either side. Narcissa glanced at him from the corner of her eye, watching him silently stroke his soft leathery wings with still sharp claws. A small amused smile twisted her lips.

"Is it odd?”

Harry looked up at her, confused. “Is what odd?” He asked, not unkindly.

“Is it odd to have wings,” she clarified, smiling wryly at herself. “I do apologize for not making myself clear. It's just . . . I'm rather curious,” she continued, the wry smile not leaving her lips. “One of my old friends from my childhood days is a Veela, we have kept in touch and have small gatherings often, but each time I ask she won't tell me. I suppose I thought that perhaps you would.”

Harry allowed a small smile to play across his soft pink lips, amused at the thought of Narcissa Malfoy being denied something. Surely she would've thrown a fit every time. “I haven't had them long enough to experience them fully, but from what it feels like now, it's much like having a pair of very flexible arms on the back of your shoulders that abide by instincts and not conscious thought. So to answer your question; yes, it's very odd.”

“They're very beautiful wings,” she mused softly, turning her blue eyes away from him to gaze out at the small field, the smile fading from her lips as something seemed to occur to her. “Much like the person they're attached to,” she added quietly, turning pensive eyes on something in the distance.

Harry pretended not to hear that, figuring that it probably hadn't been meant for his ears anyway. Compliments from Malfoy's were always untrue or faked, or perhaps part of some elaborate scheme. Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy had been doing it all for years, which was why they were still so high up in the Ministry even after all their time spent serving Voldemort in the past. Just the thought of the Malfoy's gave him a stress headache -something he was prone to having-, they were all so fickle and troubling, conniving, cunning. His hair was going to be whiter than Dumbledore's before the school year was back. 

"Lord Potter?" Narcissa asked quietly. 

Harry blinked himself out of his stupor and glanced at the blonde woman, offering a small smile. "Yes?" 

"I asked if you were ready for the girls to join you," she said slowly, not unkindly. "I suspect that they should be here in a day or so. Inheritances as violent and all encompassing as this usually affect the women more. I was lucky not to experience such things as the need to bite things, all it was for me was growing pains and the need to sleep more than usual. Much like the men, I suppose."

Harry, however, hadn't heard a thing past her first words. "What girls?" He asked slowly. 

Narcissa gave a tinkling laugh as if he'd said something funny, and gave his arm a light push. "You didn't honestly think that men were the only ones to get an inheritance, did you?" She asked, still laughing slightly. She smiled fondly at him when he frowned and picked up his hand to pull it onto her lap where she held it in her even daintier and tinier one, and Harry let her, surprised at the way she was acting. "I suppose no one has had the chance to explain this all to you," she began, smiling at him once more with her pearly teeth on show. "Well, as I said before, we women often get the worst of the worst, menstrual cycles as an example. When a girl reaches her inheritance, we parents are able to define when she will begin to change, she begins to feel grouchy and becomes slightly more tired and listless. 

"Draco was much like that, if a bit more violent when disturbed. I remember having to arrange for a room in the manor for Draco to unleash himself upon, nearly everything was always destroyed. Any such, when a girl begins to change, she not only feels the need to strike anyone or anything, but she will attempt to eat everything she can to try and help with the pains in her teeth, and that includes biting those who annoy her," at this Narcissa gave a benign smile and stroked the back of Harry's hand with her thumb, almost forcing Harry to relax in the calming gesture. "As I said before, I was lucky to avoid such a thing. Sadly, a Miss Pansy Parkinson was not. I received a letter from her mother just a week prior, Pansy has already drawn blood from her father and has begun to grow her fangs, which is the last stage of growth or change in a girls inheritance."

"But isn't that a bad thing? To draw blood from someone close to you?" Harry asked, frowning deeply and furrowing in the small warm burrow his wings had created around him. 

Narcissa shook her head, hardly stirring a fine blonde hair on her crown, and smiled patiently. "No, that's a good thing, it means that she isn't defective or rejecting the change. If she begins to bite herself, then that is a very grave problem."

"So that's why Blaise got away with biting me, because he's still learning how to resist the smell of blood?" Harry asked, frowning deeply. 

Narcissa gave his hand a gentle squeeze. "Yes and no. Because he's merely a fledgling, he's learnt the basic instincts of survival and how to resist the bloodlust one always feels in the presence of others. It seems that the attraction to your blood threw him for a loop, as does any rare being."

"It felt wrong when he bit me," Harry admitted abruptly, the words pushing past his lips before he could stop them. 

Narcissa nodded in understanding, her thumb never stopping its soothing ministrations on the back of his hand. "That's common for an unmated being to feel when taken against ones will, it usually means that you've found your soulmate, but have not recognised them for what they are."

Harry repressed the need to gape up at the blonde woman as she said this, his wide eyes being the only thing to reveal his shock. "Do you think that I've found my soulmate?" He asked.

Narcissa gave him a mischievous smirk, her pale pink lipstick covered lips tilting up at the corners and her eyes glittering with amusement. "I believe so, yes. Have you had any sexual relations since the change took place?" 

Harry knew why she was watching him now. His face flushed a bright red almost instantly at her words, his cheeks becoming a cherry red from embarrassment at such a question. "No!" He squeaked, embarrassment coloring his tone. "I've never thought --! I mean, I've never . . . I thought this was supppsed to be a quiet place to sit," he all but demanded her.

Narcissa threw her head back and laughed, the first time Harry had seen a Pureblood -much less a Malfoy- laugh in such a harsh and unrefined way. Her laughter was rich and throaty, a much more amusing and true sound that Harry hadn't at all thought her capable of. "Oh, Lord Potter," she giggled mirthfully, sailing her free hand underneath her eyes to catch any tears. "You do so make me laugh like a little schoolgirl. I fear I haven't laughed like this in years!" 

"You can call me Harry, you know," Harry muttered wryly, ignoring her small bursts of throaty giggles as she attempted to calm herself down. "I'm not that into formalities anyway."

Narcissa looked at him then, traces of her laughter still fresh on her face, but was smiling softly. "You may call me Narcissa, Harry," she said gently, bringing up her free hand to swipe at a stray hair on his shoulder.

A tentative smile pulled at the pouty pink lips on Harry's face, eliciting a small adoring sigh from Narcissa. He would provide her lovely grandchildren, she was sure. She couldn't wait to see him swollen with child, he has that beautiful glow about him that practically screams 'Mother', though she felt a horrible niggling thought in her mind that suggested neither Harry, or Draco, knew about the practices of male pregnancies. Lucius had better sit Draco down and have a talk, lest they have grandchildren crawling around their feet before Draco and Harry graduate from Hogwart's.  

She would not have her son and son-in-law suffering under the stress of N.E.W.T's while taking care of a baby, no matter how prepared they are.

-oOoOoOoOo-

"What did she want, mate?" Ron asked angrily as Harry rejoined the Weasley's and traipsed up the path leading back to the castle. 

Ernie hadn't lasted as long as what Professor Sprout had wanted, as he had well and truly been beaten down by the other creatures as soon as they'd been unleashed, but that was only because the werewolf in him would only come out once every month and not at will and would only affect his behavior and reactions in some ways. Harry had told the Hufflepuff so, so he wouldn't feel too bad about being beaten down by a fairly small Acromantula. Ernie and Sprout had appreciated the gesture for what it was, a friendly reminder that no one is infallible, and Ernie had brightened up a little. 

Although the both of them seemed to think Harry was pretty damn close to being infallible.

"To talk," Harry said flatly, ignoring the annoyed look sent his way from the lanky redhead. He hadn't looked at either Hermione or Ron since he'd rejoined them, he was still stung by the way they ignored him right after something so shocking had happened to him. George and Fred, bless them, had boxed him in on either side and were doing their best to support him, a silent apology that they hadn't realized that he'd needed them sooner. He'd forgiven them quickly, as they really weren't used to his vulnerable state of mind and had thought that he'd brave everything out like he always did. 

"Yeah, but about what? Did she bother you?" 

"Ronald," snapped Hermione impatiently. "Harry is perfectly capable of telling us if something is bothering him, he has a mind of his own. Honestly, you'd think that we're his guardian's and not his friends!"

"But he could be tricked, 'Mione! The Malfoy's are Death Eaters --!" Ron tried to say angrily.

Harry came to a halt and spun around to face Ron so quickly, the twins didn't realize what he was doing until he was yelling - practically screaming the words he'd never had the chance or capability to say in Ron's face. "Voldemort is DEAD!" He yelled. "We don't need to be reminded of what happened anymore - it's done, it happened and it's over! If the Malfoy's were Death Eaters they wouldn't be here, they'd be in hiding like the rest of the other criminals! SO JUST STOP! I can't take it anymore!"

Everyone was silent as Harry heaved in deep breaths to calm down, his wings shuddering up and down with his shoulders. Ron looked ready to explode in anger, his eyes wide and his face a dark red. "I'm going mad already, I . . . I can't take it from you two, I need something normal before I explode," Harry said quietly, though his voice still carried to the others furthest from him.

They didn't notice the family of three watching them intently, Narcissa practically in tears and aching to hold the poor boy she had begun to bond with and Lucius holding his breath so that he wouldn't say anything to disturb the moment - like an insult to one of the dumbest Weasley boys. Draco was just staring at Harry, coiled to vault himself towards the younger man to protect or hold him. He, unlike his parents, knew that Ronald was about to strike - whether it be verbal or physical, and he was just biding his time until he could kill the Weasel for daring to insult his -rather clueless- mate.

"Everything just has to be about you doesn't it," Ron finally growled, apparently not hearing what Harry had said or the desperately sad tone in his voice.

Harry had been waiting for it, the big 'blowout' between them, but it seemed that Hermione was shocked this time - almost as if she hadn't been expecting it to happen. "Ronald!" She gasped, her eyes widening in shock at the poisonous words coming from her boyfriend. Many echoed her, including Molly, whom had to be restrained by her husband and eldest son so she wouldn't beat her second youngest son to death with her wooden spoon.

"No!" Ron snapped, finally fed up with everything. "I'm sick and tired of always catering to his needs, of having to walk on egg shells in case he goes mental! Oh poor me, I was badly abused as a child by my monster Muggle family and was always targeted by the Dark Lord, boo hoo! I'm fucking sick of it! We're all important too!" 

It had been quiet before, but it was a deafening silence now, one that silenced the world and all its inhabitants and made everyone tense. Harry strained against himself not to attack the redhead, his wings already flaring out behind him in a dangerous arch, his fingernails growing out into the sharp and long claws from before. He was growling steadily, his chest vibrating with the primal sound, but before he could even say a word, an ear bursting roar came from the back of the group and a blur of pale skin and white hair shot towards them, though it was quite clear in where it was aiming.

It was aiming for Harry. 

Chapter Text

15. Bad Moon Rising

Thickly muscled and large arms clamped around Harry's waist just as he was about to launch himself at Ron, holding him tight to the warm and broad chest attached that rumbled with growls. He struggled for only a moment, panicked at suddenly being restrained, before his face was pressed into the nook of the body's neck and he was breathing in the most intoxicating, calming and peaceful scent he had ever encountered. He didn't know when his own growling had changed to purring, but all he knew was that he was melting against the body pressing against his like a missing puzzle piece; so familiar, yet so foreign, like they were uniting after many years apart.

"Breathe," a low, soothing voice whispered into his ear. A pair of soft, plump lips pressed affectionately against his temple, and one of the large hands roamed up from his back to bury themselves in his hair.

Harry was so lost in the scent and the feeling of the warm body pressed against him -obviously a male, he could tell-, that he didn't notice the narrowed grey eyes of the owner of the body searching whatever skin was visible for any noticeable marks left behind from his past. Harry snuggled deeper into the man's embrace, purring and tucking his head firmly under the tall man's chin. It was almost a sense of Déjà vu, he knew this body from somewhere, the arms were too familiar. But where?

"What the fuck is going on?!"

A deep, feral growl emanated from the firm chest that Harry was resting against, rumbling underneath his hands as he stroked the hot skin through the thin shirt soothingly. The arms tightened around him, pulling him ever more flush against the man, and another kiss was pressed on his forehead. Harry really wanted Ron to disappear, and by the murderous expressions on the Weasley clan's faces, they did too.

"Get the fuck off him!" Ron screamed. "Let him go -!"

The large leathery wings on Harry's back flared out protectively around the both of them, enveloping them both in a protective cape that shielded them from the approaching menacing redhead. Harry couldn't help but snarl against -who he now knew as- his mates skin and wrap his arms around the lean waist, taking comfort in the way his mate rubbed his head with a soft but slightly stubbled cheek. He listened to Molly tearing mercilessly into Ron, his mind comprehending but not reacting to her furious voice, or the enraged voices that added in their own two knuts. He was too focused on the man holding him.

Though he didn't know who was holding him, he wasn't afraid, how could he be when just being held by him was so perfect? They fit together like they were made for each other and though the man was clearly taller and much broader and muscled than he was, he couldn't care less that he was a lot shorter and feminine, so long as the man didn't stop holding him.

Harry registered the shocked exclamations coming from the Weasley's outside the barrier his wings had made when Ron began shouting very disgusting words, but he didn't react to their panic, nor did he want to. He was perfectly happy in the circle of this man's arms, and he made sure to let his mate know that. He cooed and made soft noises, pressing his lips gently onto the soft skin of his mates neck and rubbing his cheek wherever he could. His mate was thoroughly pleased, Harry noticed with no small amount of satisfaction, as he responded in his own displays of affection, nuzzling his forehead with his slightly chilled nose.

When the curiosity to find out just what his mate looked like became too much for him to stand, Harry tilted his head back out from under that strong jaw, his glowing ethereal eyes seeking out his mates. Something fluttered in his stomach -nerves, or perhaps fear?- as his eyes met dark gun metal grey ones. Even with no sun or light, he appeared extremely pale and his fine white-blonde hair was unmistakable as it sloped down around his soft but expectant eyes.

"Surprise," said Draco Malfoy quietly, a small smile softening the sharp edges of his mouth, his grey eyes dancing in the dark shade offered by Harry's wings.

Harry was struck dumb, unable to think of an answer that was appropriate to that - or the situation they were in. It was like a heavy blow to the stomach, all of the air in his lungs was expelled and his body locked up. He was unsure whether he should be screaming and trying to get away or not; how could he feel so connected to - to Malfoy of all people? Just seconds ago he believed - with all of his heart and soul, that the man holding him was his mate. And it turned out to be just Malfoy.

"I'm sorry for not telling you earlier, I meant to, but I didn't know how to go about doing it," Draco said, a smile much too sweet, innocent, and sheepish for his aristocratic face pulling at his lips. "So I suppose this would be the right time to tell you. Harry, we - you and I, are mates."

"We're not friends," Harry blurted unthinkingly, frowning bemusedly up at the blonde devil. "We're not even close to being mates - Ron and I are mates, not you and I, we can never be mates. I don't -" he licked his lips, unaware that those grey eyes narrowed in on them and continued on. "I don't know where you got that insane idea from Malfoy, but you're wrong. You've never been more wrong in your entire life."

"You know what I'm talking about, Harry. You can act innocent and guileless all you like, but I know the truth, as do you," Draco murmured, leaning his face down until their noses touched together and there was hardly any space between their lips to keep from fully touching; Harry could feel Draco talking, feel the way his lips moved with his words. It was incredibly intense, something that brought chills soaring throughout his body and wrangling with his toes and fingers. Harry attempted to jerk back at the contact -and the feelings they invoked-, but was stopped by the hand in his hair tightening in the long strands and holding him still. Draco gazed into his eyes with an intensity so fathomless that he stilled and allowed his nose to be nudged again with Draco's own. He had to fight to keep the shuddering at bay. "My mother spoke to you about soulmates before when you were sat under the tree, I'm certain she mentioned something about how to identify one."

"In passing," said Harry reluctantly after a moment of silence, squirming in Draco's gentle but firm hold, even though that meant discomfort for his scalp under the firm grasp Draco had. "She said that when a being is bitten without consent and they feel a sudden wrongness, that it usually means that they've met their soulmate but haven't acknowledged them as such. Not enough for me to know how to identify a soulmate, but enough to get the hint," he said bitingly, though he was still grateful to Narcissa. 

Draco nodded minimally, rubbing his nose gently against Harry's affectionately, a small smile twitching at the corners of his sensual lips. "Many mateships are formed by mere happenstance, Harry. Most are formed by sexual activities that can vary from a small kiss to full blown sex, what we did in the shower wasn't as extreme as what some couples did to achieve their mateships, in fact, what we did was a mere echo of what others usually do. Though there is a lot of biting involved," he whispered, his lips pressing ever so slightly against Harry's plush ruby red ones in a teasing whisper of a kiss.

"We mated in the shower," Harry breathed in a sudden moment of clarity, his eyes wide. He hurried to bite his bottom lip -ignoring the fact that he was pushing his lips even more onto Draco's-, suddenly finding the likelihood of a whimper or cry escaping him climbing up from nil to a five out of ten chance. Just one small interaction between them and he's stuck with Draco Malfoy, for lifeOh god, it's like a bloody Muggle pregnancy advertisement, Harry thought hysterically.

Draco licked his suddenly dry lips, watching in a daze as Harry chewed enticingly on his reddening plump bottom lip and unfurled subconsciously into his body as he thought, his small elegant hands meant for ivory keys resting gently on his chest and sending sparks flying throughout his body. He couldn't be blamed for giving in to Harry, could he? "Yes," he said, a none-too steady smile quirking his lips. "But it's not just sex that determines who mates who, if that were the case then nearly everyone would be mated to the first person they had sex with. It all begins with destiny and fate, in our case we may have deviated from what they originally planned for us, but we always found ourselves seeking each other out, in the Great Hall and everywhere else. We were made to be together, Harry, you for me and I for you. We belong with each other," he said passionately, gazing deeply into Harry's dazzling emerald eyes. 

"And as you've finally recognized me as your mate, you will have to bid your previous bed partners goodbye as you will not engage in any sexual activity, with any other person but me. I will not have a whore for a mate," he said stiffly, unable to help himself from stressing that. There was an incident far back in the Malfoy family that had one of the mated submissive women being . . removed from her mate. 

Harry almost reared back in anger at being called a whore, before he registered the stinging pain in his scalp where Draco's hand was situated. "Let the fuck go -!" He began to yell, trying to reach behind his head to pry Draco's biting fingers from his hair.

"Do not speak to me with disrespect, I am your mate, not one of your lowly Gryffindork followers!" Draco hissed, his eyes flashing the wild ruby red color of the vampire. He did, however, loosen his hold on Harry's hair and massage the smarting area.

"Respect is earned, not freely given," Harry sneered, but slowly began to relax under the gentle ministrations, no matter if they bit into him again in response to his words. He sighed. "We shouldn't be doing this out here, not in front of everyone and especially after today."

"You'll never speak to me when we go back," Draco said, his steely eyes softening slightly at the small sigh of pleasure from his young mate. "You'll do your best to avoid me, I'm sure." He internally winced at the thought of already ruining things between them. He shouldn't have pulled Harry's hair, or spoken to him like that, but the vampire in him demanded him to set out the standards, to scope out his little mate to see how worthy he is of their attentions. Not that they had a choice to leave Harry if he turned out to be nothing like they wanted.

"I'll talk to you after everything else has calmed down," Harry promised reluctantly, peeking up at Draco from under his long dark lashes. "Then we'll see if what you're telling me is true, because at the moment, I don't trust you. You're not exactly an honest person, and you Malfoy's are known to say the things others want to hear."

"This is the most honest I've been in my entire life," Draco said quietly, a tinge of hurt on his face and in his voice. "I want trust to be between us - not lies or deceit."

"We'll see."

-oOoOoOoOo-

So far Harry hadn't done anything to avoid Draco, but Draco had the distinct feeling that he was being ignored. They were all settled in the Creature Nest -or their new common room to anyone else-, excluding Molly, Bill, the twins, Hermione, and Ron, whom had been separated from the group and taken to another part of the castle -probably somewhere indestructible for Molly to curse Ron in- to be sorted out. Or in other words, for Molly and her sons to punish Ron for speaking in such a way. Arthur had elected to stay behind to comfort Harry -and avoid the fiery demon that was Molly Weasley-, who really didn't feel in the mood to be coddled.

Remus and Tonks had stuck to his sides like glue upon entering the Creature Nest, Tonks holding his hand and leaning against his side and Remus hugging him around the shoulders. Every time Tonks had fallen pregnant, Harry had noticed that Remus became a cuddly mess, clinging to everyone he thinks needs a hug and not letting go until he 'cures' their sadness. Tonks was understandable, she was a woman who thrived off of touch and it wouldn't be random if Tonks were to hug someone. Even Moody had been hugged by her a few times.

"Really, I'm fine," Harry said, trying in vain to convince the two that he actually was fine for what felt like the millionth time. "I really don't need this -"

"You're right!" Tonks said suddenly, a bright smile on her face. She snapped her fingers and looked to have a 'light bulb moment' -as Dudley would have said-. "We need ice cream and chocolate. Lot's and lot's of chocolate."

"But this isn't a breakup, it's a fight," Harry tried to point out, bemused.

"Sometimes chocolate is needed not only when soothing an aching heart, but to soothe frayed nerves," Remus said knowledgeably, giving him a commiserating smile and a comforting pat to the hand. "It's not only used for Dementor attacks, you know."

Draco glaring dangerously at Remus stopped Harry from pushing the matter, knowing that if he tried to reject or deny their affections that Draco would pounce and do his best to get Harry alone so they could continue their earlier discussion. It would give him a far too perfect opportunity to get them to leave Harry alone, but Harry didn't want to upset Remus or Tonks when all they wanted to do was comfort him. To say that Harry was extremely thankful that the blonde hadn't done anything so far was an extreme understatement.

"I'll go to the kitchens, if you like," Arthur offered almost immediately, a strained smile on his slightly weathered face. He was desperately disappointed in his youngest son, wondering where he'd gone so wrong in raising Ronald and adamant that he was the one to blame. He really didn't want to think about what Molly was doing to Ronald at that very moment, and was desperate for a distraction.

And it was glaringly obvious to all in the Creature Nest.

"I can go with you if you like," Harry offered kindly, knowing a getaway when he saw one. "I need to stretch my legs a little anyway, so I wouldn't mind."

Arthur wasn't the least bit surprised at Harry's suggestion and confirmed that he could come alone with him. "Well we shan't be too long, as it seems that poor Nymphadora is in need of her chocolate fix," Arthur said happily enough, though the strained smile stayed on his face.

Tonks was so pleased that she was getting her chocolate that she didn't even comment on her proper name being used. Though she did complain when she lost her human pillow and was left to lean against the back of the settee instead. "Harry, hurry up will you, you were warm!" She yelled as Harry jogged across the Creature Nest to the portrait door -ignoring the narrowed grey eyes that followed him- and Arthur followed at a more sedate pace, though it was obvious that he was in a hurry to leave.

"Then lean against Remus, I'm sure he wouldn't mind someone to lean on!" Harry shouted back, grinning over his shoulder at the ex-Hufflepuff who pouted back at him.

"Just get me my chocolate, you cheeky sod!" She shouted back childishly, falling sideways onto Remus' lap and exaggeratedly making herself comfortable on his thighs. Remus had almost immediately began to stroke his hand through her short bubblegum pink hair, not minding the switch in cuddle buddies, though he was a little bit more affectionate and loving with his attention on his wife. Tonks certainly didn't mind the attention, as she preened before him.

"Harry," a sweet voice called.

Harry stopped the door from closing after Arthur's speedy exit and turned to look at Narcissa, the small smile on his lips surprising almost everyone in the room. But what could he say, Narcissa was -very surprisingly- a sweetheart, and she'd spoken to him like he was a person and not some freaky creature. Not entirely common. "Yes, Narcissa?" He asked, an almost too innocent smile stretching his lips at the faintly stunned expressions on those in the room. He was enjoying this, as was Narcissa.

Narcissa was sitting primly on one of the settees with her hands clasped together in her lap and a mischievous smile on her lips, Lucius practically drilling holes in the side of her head with his eyes. Harry's eyes narrowed slightly at the sight of that very familiar smirk - nothing good could possibly come from it, he should know. "Would it be acceptable for Draco to accompany you to the kitchens, dear? He went without lunch today and is quite in the mood for a little snack before dinner," she said sweetly. "Of course, that is if you're willing to allow him your company?"

Aside from a weird look sent her way by her husband and friends, Narcissa's request went unchallenged. Draco seemed especially interested and hopeful, as if mother and son had planned for this to happen and they were just waiting for Harry to play his part in it. And just how could Harry refuse such a thing, letting someone go without food was something that would always be a deal breaker for him as he knew just exactly what that was like growing up. And though he knew that Draco wasn't starving from missing one lunch and could wait for dinner -which was in approximately two hours and forty-nine minutes-, he couldn't exactly say that he could wait as he was already going to the kitchens to get a snack himself.

Smiling -if a bit tightly-, Harry nodded, much to the delight of Narcissa and a suddenly blank faced Draco. "I suppose I could use the company," he said slowly, making a show of ducking his head out into the corridor where - low and behold, held no one. "It seems that Mister Weasley has disappeared already, I suspect to see his family before dinner."

Narcissa smiled beatifically, looking like the cat that finally caught the mouse. "Then off with you both, dinner will be served shortly and I doubt even Draco could eat much in that small amount of time," she said, shooing them with delicate hands.

Draco was by Harry's side in the blink of an eye, which confused Harry as just before Draco had looked to be uninterested. "Eager much?" Harry asked mockingly, raising an eyebrow. 

Draco raised his own eyebrow back, and began to shuffle him bodily through the doorway, his large hands brushing teasingly along his hips. "You said that Mister Weasley will be getting snacks for everyone else?" He asked disinterestedly, though he began to liven up slightly when the door shut firmly behind them and they began their walk down the corridor.

"I never said anything," Harry retorted, ignoring the hand that brushed by his side and thigh as they walked together. It was so hard for him not to react, but he wouldn't give Draco an inch until he explained their current situation. "But he was to get chocolate for Tonks. You do know that we're not going to the kitchens, right? I just wanted to get out and walk for a little bit."

"I figured that, you looked ready to sprint out of the room as soon as Weasley offered to leave," Draco snorted quietly, a wry smile on his lips. "Why does it seem like you're always trying to escape from your friends? I always thought you were a tight knit bunch."

Harry rolled his eyes. "We are, it's just been a little -" he paused, trying to think of a word that explained why they were all walking on egg shells around each other, but not telling him too much. "- Tense. Nothing bad."

Draco gave him a slow look, his silver eyes guarded. "It doesn't seem like it. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that they were nervous being around you," he said slowly, an edge of innocent curiosity in his voice. "Why would that be?"

Harry shrugged, a mask of indifference rising to the surface. He knew that they were all nervous being around him, he wasn't blind. He was just willfully ignorant. "People change," he said simply, ignoring the silver eyes that seemed to intensify their gaze upon his face. "What we went through these past few years . . It's enough to change anyone. Hermione isn't as blind or ignorant when it comes to those in power, she questions them. Ron . . He went from believing that problems are better off solved by others, and now he does his best to solve them himself. And I . ."

"And you?" Draco prompted him quietly, nudging his arm against Harry's softly. Offering a shoulder for him to lean on.

Harry swallowed thickly. "I haven't changed much," he said softly, unconsciously walking closer to Draco.

Draco slowly, as if giving him a choice to back away or protest, entwined an arm around his waist and pulled him in closely and slowed his pace to a leisurely stroll. Harry sighed noiselessly and melted into his side, breathing in the spicy cologne that seemed to exude comfort and protection, and wrapped his arms around Draco's trim waist in a much needed hug. 

Harry almost melted again as he felt a pair of lips press a loving kiss against his hair. He rested his head on Draco's shoulder and smiled softly as he heard Draco whisper under his breath, "You've always been perfect to me."

-oOoOoOoOo-

After a relaxing stroll around the castle that lasted until dinner was being served, Harry and Draco walked to the Great Hall together in silence, their arms still wrapped around one another and still soaking up the others comfort and presence. No, they hadn't talked about what they were or how it came to be, but they both needed each other in a way that no one else could give them, or even begin to understand. They had always been drawn together in the past, though they were enemies then, but it was like they couldn't leave each other alone. 

Harry was still uncomfortable with the whole concept of having a predestined mate handpicked by fate, but he was slowly warming up the idea. He now had someone who would be there for him if he was upset or angry, or even hurt. He would get a shot at making his own family. Regardless if his mate was his once-rival Draco Malfoy. He could almost see himself being with Draco, of having kids that they adopted from an orphanage, of living in a house together. It was something that he was slowly building up to liking in his mind.

However, there were the times where he'd remember all the things they'd said and done to each other in the past that would set him back the few steps he'd gained in working towards liking Draco. He would sometimes even go to call Draco 'Malfoy' in the same spiteful way he used to when he was younger. Draco didn't have such quarries, he seemed perfectly able to call him by his first name with no dilemma. 

But Harry couldn't. Not yet at least. It was something he knew he'd have to work towards. Take baby steps with. Even if he desperately wanted the love of a family, he was not so starved of love to rush into things and make mistakes. His mistakes were life-threatening, and he didn't want anyone to be put in harms way. 

"What are you thinking about?" Draco asked him quietly as they neared the Great Hall, his arm tightening around Harry's waist slightly . 

Harry argued with himself the point of talking to Draco about his qualms, but came with more cons than pros. "Nothing," he replied softly. 

Draco huffed and shook his head. "I know when you've got something on your mind, Harry," he said wryly. "I've known you for too long not to. So talk to me about it."

Harry scrambled to think of something to talk about, and in a fashion truly worthy of a Gryffindor, he spoke without thinking anything through. "I was wondering if your parents knew about us," he said lamely. Oh how he wished the ground would swallow him up. Of course they knew!

Draco gave him a strange look. "Is that really it?" He asked uncertainly. "Harry, you know that they don't really hate you. Even if they didn't know, they wouldn't be half as surprised by us as you think. Is that all that's getting to you, my parents?"

Harry went to shake his head, before he realized that he would then be opening himself up to even more unwelcome questions. Instead he remained quiet.

Draco let out a small relieved laugh. "I thought it was me," he said breathlessly, shaking his head. "If you're truly worried about their reactions, rest assured. They practically pushed me to make a move on you, they've wanted you to join the family ever since I told them that we're mates."

Harry winced at that as an echo of Draco's sneering voice filled his head."You see, you're a golden ticket to a much higher social standing in the Ministry and public. An express ticket to where we want to be, if you will. And I believe that is in your best interest to play the gullible Gryffindork and give me what I want." But he remained calm. Draco hadn't known that they were mates then, it had all been a mistake. A pleasurable, hot and steamy mistake. 

He smiled slightly up at Draco's concerned look and relaxed again. "It's not just your parents reactions that I'm worried about," he said, tightening his hold on Draco's waist. 

"The Weasley's?" Draco guessed, pressing another gentle kiss to the top of his head. Harry found that Draco loved to touch him, and that he wouldn't keep his hands to himself if Harry was close to him. Harry had been kissed more times than he could count.

He nodded against Draco's shoulder. "And the Lupin's," he added. And Sirius. 

"Well I'm sure they wouldn't care who you were with if they made you happy," said Draco, sounding a little nervous as they approached the doors to the Great Hall. "The Weasley's are all about love, aren't they?"

"I wouldn't count on it," Harry murmured back quietly, a small teasing smile crawling across his lips at the slightly horrified look on Draco's face. 

The very moment they entered the Great Hall, wrapped in each others arms with a tinge of horror on Draco's face and an amused mischievous smirk on Harry's, everyone went silent and stared. Dumbledore seemed highly surprised by their sudden appearance, smiled as genially as always when he took notice of how Harry was smiling. Narcissa seemed so very smug and satisfied, and was holding out her hand to Lady Zabini, whom was glaring back at her and digging about in her small purse for the galleons she'd apparently lost. Lucius was shaking his head at his wife, but was smiling encouragingly at his son. The both of them seemed quite happy with how Harry and Draco were acting.

The Weasley's however, were nowhere near as composed as the Malfoy's. In fact, only the twins seemed even remotely happy for Harry. Molly wasn't even screaming, yet the horror on her face spoke louder than any words she could have used. Harry didn't even look at Ron as Draco led him sit in the space between the rival families, Harry beside Fred and Draco beside Blaise. Draco settled a hand on his thigh and rubbed small soothing circles while he whispered back and forth with Blaise, and Harry settled in close to Draco, his thigh and hip flush with Draco's.

"Good on you, mate," Fred said to him quietly with a large supportive grin. On the other side of him, Harry saw George wink at him and smirk. He didn't say anything back, but just smiled slightly at the two, the only Weasley's not to judge him for anything. Unlike a certain Weasley who was glaring at him furiously from the end of the table, an ugly red coloring his face.

"Ignore him," a deep voice whispered into his ear, and Harry turned to look into Draco's intense but warm eyes. "He's not worthy of your time if he's acting like an idiot. Eat," he whispered.

Harry nodded and piled up his plate at Draco's urging and ate slowly, talking with Fred and George in between bites. They took in turns distracting Harry from looking at Ron, making jokes so silly that he couldn't help but laugh at them, and slowly, the tension in the Hall faded to an undercurrent and stilted conversations arose. It wasn't enough to hide the tension lying in wait for them, but it was enough to pass dinner by. 

If only the night ended there. Harry still had to endure the detention with Snape later that evening yet. 

If only he knew how wrong he was. 

Sometime during the meal, Harry began to feel a prickling sensation in the middle of his shoulder blades -it wasn't painful, but it most certainly wasn't pleasant-, and his breathing began to speed up of its own accord. Something was very wrong.  

"Harry? What's wrong?" Draco asked suddenly, unintentionally stopping all conversation around them. "What is it?" 

(WARNING: GRAPHIC VIOLENCE)

A loud and very terrified scream sounded. But it wasn't made by anyone in the Great Hall, it came from --

"Someone's screaming outside!" Hermione shouted in shock, but hardly anyone was listening to her.

Harry began to pant as the prickling turned into an unpleasant pressure and the sound of clothes ripping silenced everyone in the Hall. His wings had appeared, and they were fluttering restlessly. Without warning, the entire Great Hall fell away into darkness and his new sense kicked into gear. He could see everything and everyone.

"What's wrong?" He heard Draco ask desperately, but he couldn't switch off his new sense for the life of him. 

He gasped in a sharp breath when he saw what looked to be four Centaur's running from the depths of what he assumed to be the Forbidden Forest. There was a pack of large four-legged blobs in identical deep grey colors chasing them, gaining on the Centaur's with every second. There was another loud terrified scream, and the Great Hall suddenly slammed back into view. 

Without warning, Harry shot out of his seat and darted towards the doors of the Great Hall, his face a mask of inhuman fury. He didn't hear the others calling after him, he didn't hear anything other than the rugged, excited panting of the werewolves and the screams of the fearful Centaurs. He ran as fast as his legs could carry him, trying to force his wings to lift him from the ground, but it seemed he wasn't strong enough yet. He snarled angrily as he burst through the Entrance Hall doors and jumped into the air, his wings spread out into wide arcs and flapping furiously against the light wind. 

He panted and heaved with the effort, but he was soon darting as fast as lightning over the grounds, chasing after the pack with force. He roared when one of them dared to bite a flank of one of the Centaurs, and distracted it enough to land a kick in its ribs. It howled in pain as it skidded and crashed along the ground, its legs flying out from under it from the force of his kick and the sudden loss of its footing. He ignored it as the other wolves began to lose their focus on the Centaurs and instead target him. 

He dodged a pair of sharp teeth and claws as one wolf pounced at him, and brought his right wing down upon its back in a slashing motion as it went by. It dropped in two pieces. 

Harry snarled, his mind in a mist of red as the other wolves slowed their running and began circling him. The Centaurs, he noticed, had escaped to the castle. One of them was bleeding heavily. Harry dropped low and spun in a circle with his wings flared as straight as blades as three wolves converged on him at all sides. They all dropped in messy pieces, their howls of rage silenced by his sharp wings. Four were killed, and there were five to go. 

He stayed in a crouched position, his hands held in a tight hooked position for maximum ripping should they get close enough. His teeth were bared in a rumbling snarl, his wings swaying in a threatening display. He was ready for another wolf to charge.

One of the largest wolves yet snapped its teeth with a dangerous growl, its amber eyes staring at him with inhuman anger and hunger. Harry heard a wolf pounce at him from behind, but he stayed still, guided by his instincts. The wolf's claws tried to tear strips of flesh from his back as it went to snap its jaws around his neck. It encountered his hair. Harry heard the satisfying sound of jaws breaking and claws ripping out of their nail-beds, and he growled lowly as he felt the wolf scramble back from him with agonized yelps. He could feel its blood running down his back, but he hardened himself to its loud pained whimpering.

The other four wolves, sensing that they were no match for Harry, turned tail and attempted to retreat to the Forbidden Forest, but Harry wasn't having that. With an almost feline grace, Harry ran between them, his wings arching low and slashing at their legs like over-large blades. They all fell to the ground with anguished howls, dark red blood gushing out of their sliced legs and forming one large pool of red underneath them. 

Harry was still in the throes of rage when lucidity came back to him. He stepped back from the anguished writhing forms of the werewolves and blinked. The stench of blood was thick in his throat as he walked around and surveyed the downed werewolves, ignoring them as they attempted to snap back at him defensively. He looked up at the sky, immediately noticing the moon and then looked back down at them. 

The moon wasn't full.

Chapter Text

16. Surprises Around Every Corner.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Harry demanded stiffly, his voice a low, harsh rumble in the near silent Headmasters office.

It had been a shocked -if a bit fearful- procession that had followed the near naked, blood soaked Valerian and weary old wizard up to the Headmasters office. The Heads of Houses hadn't followed of course, as they had stayed behind and detained the fallen but still live werewolves and locked them up in one of Hogwarts' ill-used dungeon chambers that Argus Filch liked to brag about and use as a threat to students. The werewolves were to be kept under lock and key for interrogation when -if- they transformed back into their human form. Harry was going to be there for every moment, regardless of what Dumbledore said.

Harry was -thankfully- no longer enraged and volatile, he was instead in a calm anger. One that sent shivers tingling up the spines of those around him whenever they caught sight of his cold stares and surly expression. Aside from a select few, no one strayed too close to him. It seemed that as his wings were still out and he was almost covered in blood, no one was to go near him. Except for those whom didn't care.

Beside him, Draco stood stoically and quiet, his mercury eyes staring down at Dumbledore impassively. Lucius and Narcissa were right behind the both of them, the pair silent and watchful, supportive of the two in front. Although Harry could feel Narcissa repressing her need to fuss about him, her presence behind him was shifty despite her impeccable mannerisms. It comforted him somehow.

Dumbledore looked at Harry sagely, a calm expression on his old wizened face that both angered and frustrated him. "I was uncertain that the werewolves were capable of transforming without the full moon," he admitted. "There had always been a rumor that Fenrir Greyback was attempting the impossible feat by any means necessary, but it was always considered as that by myself and many others. A rumor.

"There have never been any survivors at the hands of Greyback that are left unturned and alive, and any whom cross him seem to disappear without a trace immediately thereafter," he continued solemnly. "I believed that the rumor was mere fiction, a small theory that spread like wildfire throughout the Ministry by mere accident. There are many in the Ministry whom fear Greyback, not just for his lycanthropy."

"That doesn't excuse that what you did put us all at risk," Harry seethed, ignoring the hand that attached itself to his arm as if afraid he would launch himself at the old Headmaster. "Those werewolves got onto the school grounds, they're able to get past the wards and attack the students - not to mention that they can change at will! What do you plan to do to keep everyone safe? Not allow us all out of the castle? Put up another ward that they'll manage to get past? Just what are you planning on doing about this?"

Dumbledore remained silent under his barrage of questions, his ever twinkling blue eyes becoming more and more dull with an indecipherable emotion as the time passed. He regarded Harry with searching eyes, a pensive expression on his face. "The Valerian are Guardian beings whose sole purpose is to protect those whom are nearest and dearest . . ." he murmured to himself, though he did not take his eyes off of Harry.

"Are you attempting to say that Harry will be Hogwarts' protection?" Draco asked suddenly, his tone icy and disgusted. He seemed to loom closer to Harry then, his large hand trailing down from Harry's upper arm to clutch at his hand almost possessively. "Are you so set in your own ways that you're incapable of seeing that Harry holds no duty or responsibility to throw his life away for people whom underestimate and ridicule him? He has no reason to sacrifice his life, for any of your pathetic little schemes," he snarled.

Harry watched Dumbledore's face fall slightly with an inscrutable gaze. Would Dumbledore really ask me to give up my life for others, so soon after killing Voldemort? Harry pondered. He hardly needed to think up the answer, because his mind stated it loud and clear for him almost immediately. Yes.

"I was merely suggesting that young Harry use his new-found powers to protect the students, Mister Malfoy," Dumbledore stated calmly, steepling his hands in front of him as he sat back in his chair. "I have no intentions of putting Harry in harms way, he has been through far too much in his young life without my involvement. I'm sure my Heads of Houses will know what wards should be applied in this situation," he murmured.

Draco nodded stiffly, relaxing only slightly and softening his grip on Harry's hand, his thumb drawing small light circles into the soft blood encrusted skin. Harry was surprised to see that Draco wasn't flinching back from him, that he even wanted to hold his hand. He was still covered in the werewolves' blood.

"I believe we shall adjourn to the common room, Harry is in need of a decent shower and a good rest," said Lucius then, placing a rather gentle hand on Harry's shoulder. Harry could feel Lucius' cold, hard gaze drilling over his shoulder, and was unsurprised to see Dumbledore staring right back at him. "Unless you feel that Harry is needed here?"

"No," answered Dumbledore, a small soothing smile quirking at the corners of his lips. "He may go and rest up. Though I am sure that he will insist upon joining this interrogation . . .?"

Harry nodded stiffly, despite the almost crushing pressure encasing his hand as he did so. He didn't want to even chance a look at Draco, he could already tell by the tight grip on his hand that Draco certainly didn't approve.

Dumbledore looked at him particularly gravely for a moment, before turning to Draco and the elder Malfoy's with a serious expression. "I'm certain that the consequences of the latest events will make themselves known at the least expected moment, it is important that Harry is not alone when it happens. I suggest someone stay with him --"

It was almost like watching two identical people with twenty years of age between them suddenly melt into the same person. Lucius and Draco matched Dumbledore with eerily similar heavy glares, the disbelief and anger almost tangible in the air around them. Narcissa stood tall and proud beside her husband, her glacial eyes staring holes into Dumbledore's face. She seemed to be taking offence to everything Dumbledore said, but that last bit had her almost grinding her teeth.

"No need to think of someone to babysit him Headmaster, I won't be leaving Harry's side for a very long time," Draco sneered, his mercury eyes bright with anger.

"Quite the declaration, Mister Malfoy," said Dumbledore, not unkindly but intrigued. He swept them over with curious eyes, looking particularly closely at their joined hands. "Is there a reason for this sudden change of heart? Why, just at the beginning of the week you two seemed to be at each others throats."

Lucius gave Dumbledore a flat look, his nostrils flared with his recent anger. "What is between my son and Harry is not your business Headmaster," he said softly. "It would be much appreciated if you were to withhold any questions, as I'm sure Harry and Draco would not take kindly to anyone intruding in their personal life."

Dumbledore turned to Harry with a small understanding smile. "I see," he said. "I shall not question the sudden change in their relationship, however it would do good to announce it to the students upon their return, as I'm sure Mister Malfoy will certainly make sure that Harry wants for naught. I would hope that you take into account the innocent children, especially as they are ignorant to the instincts within the two present. If something damaging were to happen to either Mister Malfoy, or Mister Potter, at the hands of ignorant children, who knows what might befall them."

Harry squeezed his eyes shut and counted to ten in his head to prevent another painful stress headache from forming. It was almost September first, the other students would be arriving soon. To see Harry Potter. Yet again a freak of nature, but this time on a whole other level. A much more extreme level.

"It's alright," Draco whispered to him, as if hearing what he was thinking, and brushing soft fingertips affectionately across his cheek even while under the scrutiny of Dumbledore. "This is natural; meant to happen. We'll simply explain to the others what we are and what they can and can't do around us. They will understand."

Harry nodded mutely, finding himself distracted from the problems ahead by the pleasant sensation spreading all over his face from Draco's touch. "Alright," he agreed almost silently.

Draco nodded in acceptance and reluctantly turned back to face Dumbledore. "Harry and I will take our leave," he stated, not giving Dumbledore the chance to disagree. If he dared to. "As Harry will be interrogating the wolves, I myself will accompany him. I assume someone will be sent to escort us to the lower dungeons?" He asked, giving a brittle smile.

"Remus and Severus," Dumbledore confirmed, nodding with a genial smile curling his lips. "It is to my understanding that they will be heading the interrogation themselves, as most of the others dare not confront the creatures that threatened to murder their families just moments before. They are still rather ruffled, especially young Ernest Macmillan, whom is still missing despite the attack of Greyback's wolves having come and gone."

Harry nodded stiffly, anger still thrumming through his body so much that it was practically as tense and rigid as a statue. "Understandable," he said roughly. "I wouldn't expect them to want to be witness to the future methods used against the captured werewolves. I can promise that they will be most . . . unpleasant."

Piercing blue eyes stared at him from behind half mooned spectacles, and the vague feeling of being X-rayed passed over him. Dumbledore seemed to pale, most likely at the discovery of the barely restrained rightful rage, and pulled back from his mind. "I shall caution them," he said quietly, still rather pale under the heavy scrutiny of the Malfoy's. "They are not to enter the dungeon chambers unless expressly permitted or under the guidance of myself or Minerva."

Harry nodded once more, before merely standing there while the werewolves did not suffer every breath they took weighed heavily upon his shoulders. He straightened his already straight spine and spun around, ignoring the sharp eyes that followed him, and glided out of the room and down the spiraling stairs, practically flying at the speed he went. He was in desperate need of a shower, though he knew that he would be getting messier later. 

He could only hope that the werewolves broke quickly. 

-oOoOoOoOo- 

Swinging his silky dark hair over his shoulder, Harry soothed himself with the steam of the hot water and sighed. He could practically feel Draco standing before his shower stall, a hand poised to knock, or open it without warning. He had been that way for the past five minutes, Harry estimated. It was almost a perfect mirror image of the first time they had showered together -and practically had sex-, if it weren't for the blood currently sliding down his wings and body and joining the water going down the drain. 

"Your wings are still out?" A highly amused voice spoke from behind him. "They aren't permanent fixtures on your back, are they? If so, I don't think we'll ever be able to have shower sex again. Bummer really, I was hoping it would happen again."

Harry rolled his eyes, even with them closed, as Draco stepped into the stall and shut the door behind him. He shifted his wings out of the spray and flattened them as closely to his back as possible, grimacing slightly as he felt, more than smelt, the blood cling to his back again. It was incredibly hard to clean blood from his wings, he'd found. 

"I don't know," he replied quietly under the thundering water. "I suppose they react from emotion. I didn't even know that I had wings until that Acromantula called for help. It's like they're hot-wired to respond to any emotional distress."

(WARNING: SEXUAL CONTENT)

"So if we were to, say, have shower sex again, those wings of yours would pop out?" Draco asked, his eyes practically glued to the wet silky wings on his back. "I don't think I want to be behind you when that happens. You could take my bloody head off with those things."

Harry huffed and turned to face him, losing his inhibitions with the blood going down the drain. His teeth toyed with his lower lip, and he was aware of Draco's powerful gaze training in on it. His lips pulled into an unbidden smile, and he flushed slightly at the darkness taking over Draco's mercury gaze. "I wouldn't want my back to you when we had sex," he whispered, shifting just a little bit closer to the rushing water, and Draco's powerfully muscled and tensed body. It was almost like a coil ready to spring. "I want to look at you, watch you, touch you in every way I can. I wouldn't be able to do that with my back to you, would I," he said huskily, a beautifully sinful red coloring his cheeks as Draco stared down at him with an ever darkening gaze.

"You're playing with fire," Draco whispered, his eyes practically burning with lust as he stared down at Harry's lithe, beautifully pale body before him. "I won't be able to stop if you start something," he warned breathily, his resolve already faltering at the glazed look in Harry's heartstoppingly bright green eyes.

"And if I don't want you to stop?" Harry asked, a lascivious smile curling his lips enticingly. He stepped closer to Draco, hardly feeling the hot water rushing down his side as he gazed up at his mate with cloudy eyes. He'd never wanted something so much; if he hadn't been so drunk on lust and want, he would have realized that this was all happening because he was slowly becoming addicted to Draco's electric touch. He wanted Draco wholly, even at the expense of losing his virginity in a shower stall in the boys bathroom. He didn't care; he just wanted Draco.

Draco felt as if his insides were being gripped by a steel fist at the sight of the wicked grin on Harry's all too perfect face, and he inhaled the sweet, enticing, and delicious aroma that floated off of the perfect skin and hung around his nose temptingly. He noticed that Harry's beautiful emerald eyes were becoming blacker by the second, and he almost moaned at the wantonly expression on his face. But he couldn't take Harry in a bathroom. He could only play for the moment. 

"Tell me when to stop," Draco groaned, unable to stop himself from pulling Harry's wet body flush against his. He pressed his lips against Harry's velvety soft mouth and kissed him frantically, pouring every inch of passion and feeling he had into the delicious lips. He moaned when Harry began to reciprocate, and felt things down low go from achingly tight, to crushing. 

"Never," Harry panted, pulling his lips away from Draco's when his head spun too quickly from the sheer amount of passion and want. He gasped in pleasure as Draco coiled around him, his hands roaming all over his wet skin and squeezing some rather sensual places, and his mouth pressing the most heated kisses up and down his neck, much like the last time. He choked a moan and jerked his hips forward in hopes of relief as a large hand cupped his bottom and squeezed roughly, an intense whirlwind of pleasure and want bursting free in his chest. 

"More!" He moaned desperately, wrapping his arms -and even his wings!- around Draco's panting body and moving his head to provide more free reign of his neck. "Please -!" He tried to convey his want, but he was stopped as a frantic mesh of teeth, lips and tongue pressed against his mouth and robbed him of his voice. His tongue danced the furious dance of dominance with Draco's, an intense feeling of desire shooting south as Draco began rocking his hips against his. They both moaned as their sensitive hard cocks touched and rubbed together, both red and tumescent in the slippery feel of one another. Everything was so hot; the forgotten water, their bodies that were coiled and joined oh-so closely together, their tongues and mouths, their cocks, and even the bloody tiles around them! 

"So . . . beautiful," Draco moaned, pulling his red lips from Harry's kiss swollen mouth to lave attention on Harry's delicious neck. It arched back for him, allowing him free reign, and his tongue tracked the furiously pounding vein obsessively, tracing it up and down. Harry mewled in pleasure and revealed as much of his throat as he could without breaking his neck. "Mine," Draco growled possessively, his hands roaming all over Harry's otherworldly body none too gently, though Harry hardly complained at the bruising pressure. "All mine."

"Yours," Harry whimpered, delirious with pleasure as those very hands and powerful body made his blood sing. There was nothing but Draco and himself, no outside worries, no predicaments or problems. Just the two of them. 

At the first touch of pointed teeth to skin, Harry moaned and gasped choppily, his heart racing faster than ever before in his chest as if wanting to create an imprint in his ribs. Those very pointed teeth trailed along with the tongue as it traced the vein in his neck, and he inhaled sharply as they began to scratch into his skin the more they passed over his throat.

"Draco," Harry whimpered, lost to the world around them. "Do it. Bite me, please," he almost begged, tightening his arms around Draco's broad and tensed shoulders. He had to bite his lip to hold back a loud groan of pleasure when Draco increased the pressure of his teeth, almost but not quite breaking the skin and leaving indentations in their wake.

Draco let out a growl, trapping Harry's quivering body to his as he rolled his hips harshly into Harry's. He hovered over the pale throat offered to him, his fangs, along with his cock, throbbing with desire and need. He lowered the points of his long, thick fangs to the pulsing vein and began pressing down slowly --

The shower door burst open in a flash, and Harry gasped at the sight of a wild eyed Lucius Malfoy standing in the entrance. Gone was the lust and his hardened cock at the sight of a concerned and fretting Narcissa Malfoy standing just behind her husband. Draco growled menacingly at his parents from over his shoulder, his arms still wrapped tightly around Harry's now limp body. "Leave us," hissed Draco darkly. 

Lucius regarded them coolly, almost as if he hadn't just burst in on them rutting against each other in the shower. "No," he said, tilting his cane until the end pointed away from the stall and out into the bathroom. "I will not have my son mating and impregnating his mate in a boys bathroom. You both hold much more restraint and dignity than that. Out, Draco. Leave Harry to his shower."

Draco hissed in an almost serpentine manner, and Harry frowned up at Draco with thoroughly kissed lips. "Draco," he began slowly, testing out his voice to see if it hadn't been completely destroyed from all of his moaning. He completely ignored the fact that Lucius and Narcissa, Draco's parents, were talking to them while they were both naked. Thank God for his wings, he'd never been so grateful to have them wrapped around their lower halves. "I need to get clean, we've taken a long time as it is and I still need to get the blood out of my wings."

Draco blinked, his dark stormy eyes fading to mercury as the lust began to lose its hold on the both of them. Harry was surprised to see that even though they had just been interrupted by his parents in the nude and hard, Draco was very composed and unaffected. Though internally, Harry knew that Draco was most likely mortified and screaming.

Draco nodded, his soaked platinum hair dripping water into his eyes. "I'll meet you out in the Nest," he said, before slowly disentangling their limbs from each other and stepping out into the no doubt freezing bathroom. Harry blinked at the ease with which Draco paraded his naked self in front of his parents, and all but felt every drop of blood collect in his face when Narcissa turned to stare pointedly at him.

"We need to talk," she said decisively, folding her arms delicately across her chest. "I don't know how much you know of relationships in the Wizarding world, much less between a Vampire and another being, but from what I have just witnessed, you clearly know nothing." It wasn't an insult, or a slight against his intelligence, but a statement. 

Harry held his head high as Lucius nodded in acknowledgement and followed his son to wherever he had ventured, his gait a mere stroll. Narcissa pursed her lips, her eyes softening slightly, before she too nodded. "I believe the quicker we have this discussion, the more you will be prepared for the future or any choices you may make," she said. "As I'm sure you're already confused at my husband's words, I suppose we shall have this discussion immediately after your bathing. The more you know now, the less ignorant you go into the world." 

Harry watched her turn and leave, his eyes wide with new-found horror as he suddenly realized just what Lucius Malfoy had said. 

Impregnate?

Chapter Text

18. Shouldn't Have.

"I find it intriguing," said Narcissa ponderingly, a beatific smile that hadn't been on her lips when she and her husband had disrupted Harry and Draco in the shower curling her lips. "All these short years you both seemed to harbor nothing but hatred for each other, and yet here you both sit, leaning against one another as if you've always done it. It worries me what else you two are comfortable with doing. Of course, I speak of the recent discovery in the shower."

Harry turned to the blonde at his side with a pleading look, but was unfortunately faced with an oddly wary and exasperated Draco instead. Harry sighed mutely and resigned himself to the inevitable. "You're going to give us 'The Talk', aren't you," he stated wearily.

"'The Talk'?" Lucius questioned, raising an eyebrow at the deflated look on the young raven haired man. "I, for one, have no idea as to what you're referring to. Perhaps we shall discuss the meaning of that later. But for now, we must focus on a far more important issue."

Harry almost whooped in pure happiness at being told that they wouldn't be getting 'The Talk', but he really ought to know that it was too good to be true. It was Lucius Malfoy, after all. He felt a sense of foreboding fill him when Lucius eyed them both with an almost amusedly devilish smirk. Narcissa was not much better, and in fact, seemed to make the ominous feeling intensify.

"We're going to be discussing the mechanics of sexual intercourse between men, and the consequences of not practicing precaution," Lucius drawled, the smirk widening at the intensely red skin of Harry's face, and the clearly mortified expression on his son's.

"But we've already learnt this before!" Harry cried, embarrassment filling him from scalp to toe at the mortifying thought of talking about sex with the Malfoy patriarch and matriarch. "You don't need to tell us anymore of what we already know."

Draco grimaced at his father. "I agree with Harry, father. We've already learnt about homosexual sex."

For a split second, Harry wondered how Draco had said that to his parents with a straight face, before shaking himself from his stupor and nodding along.

Narcissa sent her husband a sweet smile, one that was mirrored on her husbands face. "We know that boys, but sexual intercourse between a Vampire and their mate is a wholly different concept to that of wizard sex. Lucius and I shall tell you the differences."

Harry grimaced at the sickly expressions flitting between the two in front of him, and leaned more heavily into Draco's side. "Already know the difference, thanks," he said dryly, thinking of the toe curling pleasure of kissing Draco, compared to the flat, wet, and miserable touch of lips with Cho. "So we won't be needing 'The Talk' after all!"

Lucius sent him a look that spoke extreme lengths of doubt. "I do not know what this 'Talk' is," he stated bluntly. "For all I know, you could be thinking of something completely different to what we are discussing."

"'The Talk' is a conversation between a child and their parents that describes the mechanics of sex," Harry stated just as bluntly, slightly annoyed with Lucius' naiveté. "But I've already had it when I was younger, so we can just cut it short here and move on."

"So I suppose you already know that once you are bitten by your mate, the beginning of your bonding begins and you shall never part thereafter?" Lucius asked slyly, a small rumble of smug laughter passing through his lips at the blank look on Harry's face. "Or that once you mate - or in other words, engage in sexual intercourse, there is a high chance that you will fall pregnant on your first bedding?"

Harry stared at the smirking elder blonde. "Why yes I did," he lied through his teeth. "I read about it in a book once in third year for light reading. Interesting read. Not much use then though."

Lucius arched a fine eyebrow. "And you were fine with falling pregnant? Especially at a time like this?" He asked skeptically. "Especially at this age?"

"That's not a very wise choice, Harry, nor should you even be thinking of becoming a parent at this age," rebuked Narcissa, a heavy look of motherly disapproval on her regal face. "At the very least wait until you are both ready, or seventeen. Or perhaps when we're all not in danger."

"While male pregnancies are known to happen, mother, father," Draco hedged in cautiously, his hand finding its way to Harry's and entwining together comfortingly as the elder Malfoy's turned to him. "What makes you think that Harry has the ability? It seems a bit like you're putting false ideas and expectations into our minds."

Lucius gave his son the regal equivalent of a dumbfounded stare, his sharp grey eyes clearly questioning his son's intelligence. "Have you perhaps gone blind since your inheritance? Or can you not just plainly see that Harry possesses the body shape necessary to carry a child."

Harry blinked slowly and peered down at his own body, that somehow appeared more feminine to his eyes, even as Lucius continued on. No one noticed this except Narcissa, whose lip quirked in amusement.

"He has the hips, the curvature of the waist, and even the motherly ability to care for young. Or did the so-called test reveal nothing to you but a pair of wings?" Lucius drawled sarcastically.

"Lucius, be gentle with our boys, they need to be guided, not mislead," Narcissa chided, eyeing her husband with disapproval. "We were all focused on Harry's wings. If I remember correctly, you stared just as much as the youngest male Weasley, which was, by far, almost bordering on disturbing."

"I hadn't the chance to see such wings in my own lifetime," Lucius replied in a rumbling voice, settling a -very surprisingly- gooey look in his wife's direction. "All I've ever seen are pictures in books detailing wings that my father had once told me didn't even exist. I was awed, a dream that I've had since I was but a mere child was finally fulfilled. And by our son-in-law no less. And that Weasley boy is disturbing no matter what he does; all those lanky pale limbs, it's a wonder he isn't called a ginger spider."

Narcissa softened noticeably at Lucius' odd tone -despite the obvious attempt at changing the subject by insulting Ron-, and Harry supposed that that was Lucius' emotional voice. He did seem the type to never betray his feelings, and Harry was taken aback at the fact that Lucius had shared a -somewhat dull- memory with his wife in front of him. He was surprisingly unaffected by Lucius' taunts towards Ron however.

"Life truly is remarkable," Narcissa said softly, brushing a small hand down her husbands cheek affectionately, her smile widening just a bit when Lucius leaned his cheek into her touch. "Even when it does not start with a great beginning, it always tends to reward those who remain strong in the face of their obstacles."

"Those like us, more specifically," said Lucius deeply, his steel eyes touching upon Harry for more than an instance, before returning to Narcissa. 

Harry needn't have asked why Lucius had looked at him like that, as if attempting to provoke him into some reaction. He knew. It was obvious, Lucius had been in the Creature Nest the night Harry had woken from a nightmare, he had seen how Harry had reacted. It rankled how quickly his secret had gotten out, and to the people he had once hated. To the people whom had once tried to end his life in the name of one of the most psychotic criminals in history.

Harry allowed a blank mask to fall over his face and cover the misery, and nodded to Draco when the blonde squeezed his hand and looked at him in concern. He was fine, as long as the elder Malfoy's didn't go digging into his past. He didn't need all the drama, just being Draco's mate would be enough for a lifetime. "I suppose I should get myself ready for the interrogation," he said, instead of continuing a conversation best left behind, and shuffling forward to get off the settee. "Remus and Snape will be here soon after all --"

"Sit down Harry, we still need to discuss the important details of your mateship," said Narcissa sternly, her tone brooking no room for argument and sounding not at all like she'd just been melting by her husbands affections. "It is imperative that you listen, for the consequences can be quite alarming if you do not heed our warnings."

"If by that you mean having children with Draco, I'm absolutely fine with that," Harry replied stiffly, looking both Narcissa and Lucius in the eye as he sat forward on the edge of his seat. "I've always wanted - pleaded for a family ever since I was old enough to think, so if you think that falling pregnant at the age of sixteen is a bad thing, you couldn't be more wrong. As for our mateship, I don't care about bonding to Draco before my majority, or if we're somewhere not as desirable as a manor bedroom, because I'm already considered legal and of age, not to mention Head of the Noble House of Potter, and as long as Draco is there and wants me, then I don't give a shit," he declared, before standing from his seat and striding towards the portrait door, Draco having loosened his hold on his hand considerably during Harry's rant. 

"And also," Harry continued, looking over his shoulder at the stunned family. "I'm not afraid of a little blood being spilled, much less Draco biting me. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some werewolves to question," he said, sneering at the mere mention of the werewolves, before stalking through the doorway with a cat-like grace and allowing the empty portrait door to slam shut behind him dramatically, effectively causing the usually perfectly poised Malfoy family to gape at his departure.

"Well that went well," Draco muttered into the empty Creature Nest, no small amount of relief in his voice. 

-oOoOoOoOo- 

(WARNING: BLOOD AND VIOLENCE FROM HERE ON OUT.)

Harry was alive with anger, his skin practically hot to the touch from the rage beginning to consume him and rattle the heavy chains hanging from the dusty ceiling. One werewolf had managed to chew itself from its rope bindings and had attacked the wizard guarding it, even on stumped legs, and William Weasley was now in the Hospital wing, resting. They were all tense, especially Molly and Arthur Weasley, whom had both rushed down to the dungeon chambers to see their injured son cradling a viciously shredded and bloodied arm to his chest. 

Harry was seething; if he didn't know any better, he'd say smoke was pouring from his ears. He had rushed his way to the chambers, ignoring a strained and serious Remus and Snape along the way, and had all but pounded his way through the heavy shuttered door separating the wizards from the werewolf responsible for attacking Bill. 

And there he hung in the very center of the cell, strung up by the heavy chains and dangling from the ceiling like a slaughtered animal. It was still in wolf form and growling threats it knew it couldn't act out. What a dead wolf it was going to be.

"What restrictions are there?" Harry asked a pale, grim Remus, whom stood in the doorway of the musty cell with Snape and a few of the Weasley clan cluttered behind him. 

"Don't kill them," Remus answered quietly, his thoughtful green eyes watching the struggling werewolf with detached pity. "We need them alive for leverage if Greyback wants them back, and believe me, he will know if his pack members have died."

"Do not render them speechless either, Potter," added Snape in a soft, threatening voice, his intense black eyes glaring heatedly at the werewolf strung up like a marionette. "We may yet hear what Greyback plans to do to Hogsmeade, and it is much more effective for Greyback to hear his mutts scream in agonizing pain when negotiations begin. If they are important, of course."

"Just kill them, Harry," snarled Ron, his previous bout of anger at Harry fading into nothing in comparison to the almost painful hatred of the werewolf whom had attacked his brother. 

The werewolf growled deeply in its chest at that, its crazed eyes burning in Ron's direction as it strained once more fruitlessly against the chains. Harry let out a soft hiss, and it was enough for the werewolf to gain its attention from Ron's enraged face. Amber clashed with emerald, and a hiss was echoed by a growl. 

"You will not threaten me or mine, wolf," Harry growled dangerously, his wings arching high above his head as if to sweep down and claim another section of limb. The werewolf stilled under the action, its mind at once registering its very vulnerable position, and its eyes stared fearfully at the wings arched threateningly above Harry. "You have injured one of my own and drawn blood, and you shall repay me in your own," Harry sneered, hardly hearing the slamming of the thick steel door behind him.

The werewolf whined pitifully in its throat, its maimed body struggling against its binds as the very pissed off Valerian circled around it. One wing struck down at an incredible speed, and the sickening smack of a thick tail crashing against the far wall was heard in the darkened cell. As was the shrieking cries of a wolf in incomparable pain. 

Harry circled around to face the werewolf, his face set in an impassive glare as the werewolf wriggled in the immovable chains. Blood poured to the floor in thick squirts, the stump where the base of the large grey tail had been, thrashing at the sudden loss of the rest of its length. 

"Now," Harry said, sweeping his wings around the darkened room and unsettling the thick layers of dust coating the floor. "You will transform back into your human form, and I shall heal you of your injuries. Failure to do so, and you will be saying goodbye to much more than just your legs and tail. Perhaps what's between them will go next --"

The sounds of soft cracking and snapping of bones filled the air then, and Harry watched with near delight as the whimpering wolf shimmered and faded into a larger, less furred form. A man nearly fully covered in scars hung in the maimed wolf's place, his balding head held high as he continued whimpering in pain. Blood still poured from the man, Harry realized, though he didn't much care.

"Good choice," Harry said, neither smirking nor sneering at the glaring man. "I suppose we should skip the formalities and get right down to it. How did you all transform without the full moon?"

"Fuck you," the man spat hatefully.

Harry stared at him with unnerving glowing green eyes, unwilling to let himself go with the torrents of rage within. "I shan't ask you again," he said reasonably. "So you might as well tell me everything you know, or else you might just lose yourself all over the place."

"Fuck YOU!" The man roared, rattling the chains loudly as he thrashed in their tight hold.

Harry waited patiently until the maimed werewolf tired, and the silence was broken only by clinks of chain and heavy panting. "Tell me," he said.

"Go fuck a tree, you pathetic --" The man began to seethe. Until Harry held up a hand and Silenced him. The man's mouth still moved as if screaming, but nothing could be heard but the chains moving and the deliberate caressing of Harry's once again blood soaked wings against the floor. The man's eyes followed them, wary and fearful.

"Now you're just being rude," Harry muttered, not at all impressed by the man before him. "Yes, I've taken away your ability to walk and move things, but that was the least damaging thing I could have done in that situation. I could have removed your head from your shoulders, paralyzed you from the neck down, even. But I didn't. Though that doesn't mean that I won't now.

"You're on very thin ice," he continued, baring his teeth in an animalistic grin. "And if you think that we need you for information, like Snape said we did, then you should know that it doesn't matter a thing to anyone if you live or die. Personally, I couldn't care less if you happened to die, because I know that I'd be the one killing you. But, it would be nice if you lived, I don't want to have more blood on my hands just because I got a bit - carried away."

The blood in the man's face drained, and Harry watched expectantly as a newfound horror seeped onto his wrinkled face. Good, now he knows what's at stake, he thought.

"So, shall we try this again?" Harry asked the man rhetorically, removing the Silencing charm with a snap of his fingers. "How did you all transform without the full moon?"

"Kill me, I don't care," the man hissed angrily, his yellowing teeth bared in a feral grin. "But I'll never tell you how we did it. Fenrir will kill you Potter, and everyone you love, and I'll be there on the other side waiting for you --!"

Harry swung his left wing down with a sharp hiss, slicing through tendon and muscle and severing the top of the already stumped legs from the man's pelvis, and watched with a blank face as blood - a fountain of gushing thick blood fell down onto the cell floor in waves. His nose wrinkled at the disgusting aroma, but he stood still as the life in the werewolf's eyes slowly began to fade out, and a tortured howl rang out from between the man's chapped lips, surely echoing throughout the castle.

"Fenrir w -will kill you!" The dying man shrieked with every ounce of his being, his energy waning with the blood gushing from the shredded flesh at his hips. "He'll kill e -everyone you ever love -loved . . !"

"I welcome him to try," Harry said, watching without emotion as one of the threats to his family faded from existence in one of the most painful ways in the world. "But he will not get very far."

The man gave one last gulping breath, his eyes summoning one last spark of hatred, before he slumped in the hold of the chains and was finally still, his entrails hanging to the ground like a curtain of bloodied confetti.

The stench was awful.

Harry ignored the horrifying scene and strode to the door, knocking on it twice to get the attention of whomever guarded the cell outside. A shutter in the door opened, and a pair of black piercing eyes peered into his own. Fortunately for Snape, and the grim group behind him, the entire cell was too dark for them to see into. Harry knew that the grizzly sight would give them nightmares for weeks; even Snape, who knew all too well the innards of wizards and witches alike.

"He revealed nothing about the full moon," Harry stated blankly, staring indifferently into the tunnel-like gaze of his Potions professor. "He was of no use to us alive or dead, not like the others. He knew nothing."

"Did you kill him?" Asked Snape, whose nostrils flared at the stench of blood that wafted through the small opening. The answer was obvious by the lack of noise coming from the room, not a chain clinking.

"Yes," Harry replied.

Snape nodded once, a stiff jerk of his head, before the shutter slammed closed and the sound of locks clicking open were heard. The door opened with a creak, but before the people beyond it could peer in, Harry stepped across the threshold and blocked whatever view the light in the hallway would have revealed.

"Do not look in," Harry warned the others assembled before him, his wings looming purposefully in the doorway and hiding the scene from the others eyes. He turned fathomless green eyes onto intense black ones. "Where are the others?" He asked Snape quietly.

"You will kill them," Snape stated softly, rather than asked, his eyes recognizing the protective anger etched into Harry's face in an instant. "You've already decided," he said lowly.

Harry bowed his head, though he could hardly be called 'Harry' at that moment; he was all enraged Valerian, too angry and empowered to protect his family to care about the fact that he was about to end even more lives. 

Harry stepped out of the doorway, minding his wings and the scene behind him as the door began to close. That was, until Ron caught sight of the mangled body of the werewolf through the sliver of light, and stopped everyone short. 

"Bloody hell, Harry," the redhead breathed in horror, turning wide blue eyes on his blood-covered best friend. "You tore him to fucking pieces!" He exclaimed.

"He hurt Bill," Harry said quietly, watching as more than a few of the people assembled blanched and stepped back from him, looking at him as if he was about to attack them. "He was a threat to all of you. I had to stop him, I couldn't let him hurt you." 

"But you shouldn't have had to kill him, surely --" Hedged Hermione uncertainly.

"He vowed to kill you all, don't you understand?" Harry snapped, his shoulders bunching up in rage at just the mere idea of the deceased werewolf getting his claws anywhere near his family. "I couldn't let another hurt you - Voldemort was one thing when he kept trying to kill me, but a werewolf of Fenrir Greyback trying to actively rip your hearts out? No. I won't allow it."

"At the cost of putting more blood on your hands?" Hermione asked quietly, gently. "It tears you up inside, Harry. We can see it by just looking at you; killing isn't in your nature. Killing Voldemort was what you needed to do, but even that almost destroyed you. Protecting is --"

"I'm protecting you," Harry cut her off roughly, walking a little ways from the silent group to find the other cells that contained the other werewolves. "I'm fine, as long as you're all safe and happy. What that werewolf did to Bill was inexcusable, I tortured him for the sole reason of drawing blood from one of my own. If he had managed to maim one of you . . . I wouldn't have killed him as quickly."

"You wouldn't have," Hermione stated, if a bit uncertainly.

Harry turned his back to them then, his blood spattered wings almost a barrier between them. "You're right, as always Hermione," he conceded. "I would have kept him alive a lot longer and tortured him until his heart gave out," he said gruffly, before stalking down the connecting hallways and locating the separate cells holding the werewolves, his family staring at the place he had disappeared.

-oOoOoOoOo-

It was dark and quiet in Harry's room, much like he liked, but the peace of the moment wasn't as present as it usually was. Instead the air was filled with the screams that the recently deceased werewolves had emitted from their torture, their pleas rolling around his head on a continuous loop for him to stop. He was a monster. He had tortured the werewolves and killed them.

Dumbledore and the other Heads of Houses had been quiet when he'd informed them of how and why Greyback's werewolves changed without the full moon, his form completely soaked through with the blood of the recently deceased. He hadn't known it then, as he had been so unfeeling after all the pain he had dolled out, but they had all looked at him with pity. Even Snape. 

Why had he been so adamant about doing the interrogating himself? Why had he let his emotions get the better of him? Why had he tortured them? All of these things had been stuck in a never ending cycle of repetition, bearing more and more pain and weight on his chest than before. 

As soon as Harry had entered the Creature's Nest, feeling dirty inside and out, the dam holding back his emotions had failed and emotions so brilliant and powerful had filled him with despair and pain. Tears had streamed thick and hot down his face, chipping away at the blood staining his cheeks, all but reminding him of the torture he had just been dolling out to the captured werewolves. Of the lives he had taken.

Fortunately -or not so fortunately-, no one had been in the common room to see him break, and he had dashed for the bathroom to scrub at his skin and wings until he was red raw all over, all the while letting out the sobs of despair and self-loathing that had threatened to overwhelm him. He was a mess, and not one that could be easily fixed. He had killed yet again. 

He was in his darkened room in the dormitory, having retreated there after his thorough shower in case someone had tried to talk to him, though nothing was ever truly dark for him. Not since his inheritance. But he appreciated whatever darkness he could find for himself, even if he could still see everything in detail. He loved being in a dark room, the solace of knowing that if he opened his eyes and saw nothing, he was somewhere no one could hurt him. Somewhere where nothing but him existed.

That was until arms wrapped around his waist, and a body spooned up against his back. He thrashed and struggled against the grip, panic bubbling up his throat as he realized that he was trapped and --

"Harry, it's me," said a familiar soothing voice, velvety lips brushing the shell of his ear affectionately. "It's me, Draco."

"Oh, Draco," Harry choked out, emotion and panic still swelling his throat. He collapsed into the arms holding him almost immediately, losing all semblance of control as the wonderful feeling of being held by his mate bloomed within his constricted chest, battling against the despair and agony festering there. The tears began again, and seared at the back of his throat as he struggled to keep the lid on his emotions, a battle he lost quickly. 

"I'm here, love," whispered Draco softly, pressing little kisses up and down his neck that invoked nothing but warmth and affection for the blonde holding him so tenderly. "And I'm not going away. Ever. No matter what you do, you're still Harry Potter."

Harry sniffled wetly at the heartfelt words and twisted around to bury himself into Draco's warm, muscled chest, his face pressed under Draco's firm chin. Draco brought him as close as possible, but without hurting one another with the pressure, and tugged the thick duvet over the both of them as he settled the smaller raven haired man and himself down for a long night. 

He had a feeling Harry was going to need him close all night. 

Chapter Text

18. A New Problem.

Smoke billowed up in thick towers from the cinders of what used to be the Ministry's ceiling, almost masking the sharp cloying scent of death in the room, but not quite. A lone figure was lying in a puddle of inky robes in the middle of the rubble, almost a perfect circle of scorched marble beneath it. The terrible facial features of a serpent man stared blankly up at the broken roof, blood as dark as the robes it wore and as thick as mud was splattered across the translucent skin as if stroked by an artists fingers, and if one looked close enough at the figure, sharp and obviously broken bones were pointing up and out of the robes, presenting the image that the serpent man had been impaled on a bed of stakes.

But Harry knew better.

"Master!" A shrill voice screamed into the deafening silence of the hall. Harry watched on dully as a figure in long black Death Eater robes streaked into his vision and threw themself at the remains of one Tom Marvolo Riddle, the heated wand in his hand tingling in anticipation. "My Lord! No, let it not be true! You must be alive, you must be!"

"Oh he's alive, he's getting ready to go dancing and bowling with all his other friends," Harry deadpanned, taking aim at the enemy.

The Death Eater froze where he knelt, his hands still grasping at the soaked fabric as if willing something to happen, anything. "You . . . You killed him," the man choked, not turning his bowed head to face him, but to stare down at the bloody mess known as his Master. "You killed the only one capable of setting our world to rights. You killed my Master!"

"I saved us all," Harry stated thinly, his voice flat and raising the hair on the nape of the mans neck.

"YOU RUINED US ALL!"

Harry ducked instinctively as a bright red curse zipped passed where his head used to be, and quickly rolled to the right where no large chunks of rubble blocked him from moving. "Expelliarmus!" He spat, flicking his wand expertly at the man as he righted himself.

The Death Eater seethed as his short bendy wand spun out of his hand, and pounced on top of a battle weary Harry with surprising speed, his dirtied and blood soaked hands immediately latching around Harry's throat and squeezing until the knuckles were white. "You killed my Master!" The man repeated shrilly, yellow rotting teeth exposed in a primal snarl as Harry struggled, kicked, and bucked his knees up into the man's narrow thighs. "And now I'm going to kill you!" He roared, his spittle flying onto Harry's grimacing face.

Anger flooded Harry's drained body, tensing him up and stopping him from flopping about limply as the Death Eater tried his damnedest to strangle the life out of him. Harry hissed out a breath, and hurriedly removed his right hand from the man's wrist where he'd been fighting to push it away, and instead swung it as hard and fast as he could at the Death Eater's exposed face. The man's cheekbone crumpled under his fist with a horrifying series of cracks, and it was enough to free him from the life ending grip.

But he didn't stop swinging, even when the shrieking man was curled up on the floor in a pile of broken bones and blood, his face awash with the bright ruby liquid. The anger was just so strong, so all encompassing that he continued to stomp on the broken man long after he'd stopped drawing breath, his feet only crushing the bones into smaller piles instead of snapping them like they had at the beginning.

It was only when he slipped and fell onto his arse did he notice that he was crying, and that he was completely covered in blood both his own, Voldemort's, and Voldemort's followers. He'd hit the man so much and so strongly that he was sitting in a pool of blood that looked as if someone had been gutted and left to bleed out all over the floor. Harry felt gutted himself.

"I'm a monster," he whispered, staring down at all the blood covering his shaking body. His wand lay forgotten beside him, swimming in the life essence of the man he had beaten to death.

"Of course you're a monster," someone sneered.

Harry tilted tear filled eyes up at the person, only to find his parents standing before him, both looking as they did in their final moments on Earth; messy, covered in blood from their fall and the crushing weight of the debris that had fallen onto them from the backlash of the curse Voldemort had thrown at him. The tears threatened to claw themselves out of his eyes, but he bit them back as much as he could.

"You're a monster, Harry, exactly the thing we died trying to prevent you from becoming," sneered James, a cruel smile curling his blood spattered and dusty lips. "It's your fault that we died you know, we could have lived, we could have had other children and stayed a family, we could have saved the world from scum like you. If you hadn't been born and that damned prophesy created."

Lily hummed in agreement, a contemptuous smirk on her heart shaped face as she glared at her weeping son. "He knows exactly why we died, James, he just doesn't care. Poor little Harry, having no parents and abusive relatives must be so hard to live with," she mocked disdainfully, a hate unlike any other settling deep into her identical green eyes. Harry cringed at seeing the look Voldemort had worn, on her beautiful face, a face he had longed to see in person for so long. "That must be why no one loves him. After all, no one loves a broken toy, and I'm afraid to say, Harry, but you're nothing but a toy that was snapped from the very beginning."

Tears leapt from Harry's eyes unchecked as his parents mocked and sneered at him, their words tearing lashes upon lashes of skin that not even Voldemort or Vernon could remove from his back. He was being shredded, he knew that, but he couldn't find it in him to fight back. He couldn't find anything wrong with what they were saying; it was the truth.

"Aww, look, James, you made him cry!" Lily crowed, smirking malevolently as Harry began to wear down even more. "You think he even deserves to live?" She asked her husband, a dark curiosity in her emerald eyes.

"Course not, Lil's," answered James arrogantly, flapping a hand in Harry's direction. "No one as evil as him can possibly deserve to live. Not when so many good people were sacrificed for its miserable little life."

Harry held in a wracking sob, his heart aching strongly in his chest as a powerful echo of something completely dark enveloped and iced his insides. They cramped up, as did his throat and lungs, and he found it difficult to breathe through the dense fog of sorrow, remorse, and guilt that was swallowing him whole.

The werewolves that he'd killed, both at the Ministry and Hogwarts alike; the Death Eaters he'd destroyed at the two battles in the Ministry, all to sever off power and support from Voldemort; the friends and family that had lost their lives all because of him, Cedric, his parents . . . .

"He knows it's his fault now," murmured Lily bitingly, obviously unimpressed with his sudden show of remorse. "What about when he tortured those werewolves in those cells? Did he even feel one shred of sadness over ending their lives? Not even a hint of remorse?"

"Obviously not," remarked James, whom was staring at Harry with something akin to disgust. "If he's feeling bad about it now then he's certainly becoming more aware of his monstrous nature. Thank God we died when we did, I don't think I could have resisted finishing off Voldemort's job myself," he admitted darkly.

"I couldn't not kill them," Harry choked, pushing himself past the drowning sadness in his chest. "They would have killed everyone I love --!"

"AND IT WOULD'VE BEEN YOUR FAULT IF THEY DID SO!" Roared James, his broad frame hulking forward as if to attack Harry as the rage and hate finally boiled over within. "IT'S ALWAYS YOUR FAULT, HARRY, YOU'RE A  FREAK! "

Freak.

I'm a freak.

Lily smirked nastily at Harry as James continued laying into him, his words obviously tearing the boy apart chunk by chunk. "You're a freak, Harry," she said softly, menacingly. A malevolent gleam sparked in her eyes. "And now it's time you come to terms with that . . ."

A large shadow suddenly fell over Harry, but it was not his father continuing the attack. It was Vernon Dursley, and he was in a frightful rage, a sickening black gleam in his eye that spoke of many years of anger and rage. "Boy!" He snarled, the vein in his forehead bulging dangerously under the rage flushed skin. A look Harry was far too used to seeing when he'd been younger and much more weaker. "Look at what you've done, you've destroyed everything! Exactly like your pathetic loser of a father and bitch of a mother. You're a freak! A good for nothing . . ."

I'm a freak.

-oOoOoOoOo-

"I don't understand, why would they allow Greyback of all people to conduct tests on himself to cure Lycanthropy?" Asked Ron cautiously, if a bit incredulously as more than one person paced stressfully in the common room. "Surely the Ministry can't be that thick to let him just waltz in and do as he pleases. The git wants to turn everyone into werewolves for God's sake!"

"The Ministry is full of, for lack of appropriate words suitable for your age, dunderheads," sneered Severus Snape, his fathomless sharp eyes remaining watchful on the one closed door in the new common room, also known and recently dubbed as the Creatures Nest, as he spoke. "They so naively believed that Greyback would abandon his idea that werewolves are far superior to wizard-kind, most likely thinking that the Dark Lord had forced him to act like a rabid animal and that it was not his true thinking. They were wrong, as they so often are."

"Yeah, but aren't they afraid of Greyback?" Ron questioned dubiously. "What kind of idiot let's a mass murderer go waltzing into the Ministry to tinker about with his bloody experiments?"

"Fudge, apparently," Hermione muttered bitterly, a heavy scowl upon her stressed and pinched face. She also kept glancing at Harry's door, as if expecting Harry himself to come barging out to put in his own two sickles. With a glance at the others, she could tell that they thought the same as well. It was odd not hearing his thoughts on something so serious as war.

Dumbledore was frowning pensively into the flickering flames in the hearth, as he'd been doing ever since Harry had informed them -rather unemotionally- of the recent side effect of the moon on the werewolves, the lines of worry etched deeply into his weathered face deepening every so often even after the werewolves had been 'removed'. He stroked his beard absentmindedly, unaware, as he usually was when thinking so deeply, of the conversations going on around him. "Madam Umbridge dislikes those of creature blood and Being descendant," he murmured to the flames, rolling the words around in his mind thoughtfully. "What would she gain to assist werewolves in furthering their evolution and disease further when she herself wants them gone?"

The chatter fell into heavy silence at the pondered words. No one knew what to say or what to add to Dumbledore's musing, and almost unanimously they all remained quiet to see where the old, wise wizard went with his thoughts. If not for the near silent mumbling of a Potions professor, it most likely would have been as silent as the grave.

"Another war?" Dumbledore pondered, testing the idea in his mind. Before deciding it wasn't right. Or at least, not in part. Umbridge may have hated the creatures in the Wizarding world, but she wouldn't want another war between wizards to achieve it. Far too distasteful for a Pureblood lady such as she to spill more blood and call for a witch-hunt. But. . . "Perhaps a war between the creatures," he said, pursing his lips pensively and seriously as he considered the idea.

"Another war?"

Dumbledore blinked furiously out of his pensive state at the harshly demanded question, and turned calm glowing blue eyes on a pale faced Molly Weasley. He relaxed into the settee soundlessly, and bowed his head, his hand still twirling the long white hairs of his beard. "Yes, dear Molly. It is as I expected from a witch of her standards; she dislikes creatures so much that she would create a war between them, gifting one side with the means to destroy the other, and yet allowing just enough leverage for the opposing side to hold," he said, frowning.

"And what opposition other than vampires are there for the werewolves?" Asked Snape cautiously, tone waspish. "Surely Umbridge does not expect the small pockets of remaining vampires to fight back against the werewolves, especially as they have been proven to transform without the moon at its fullest. It would be suicide."

Dumbledore nodded, his eyes looking far off into the distance in nowhere in particular. "That it would be," he agreed passingly. "But perhaps vampires are not their sole opposition. Figuratively speaking, werewolves have a tendency to 'bite the hand that feeds them', as some people I know used to say. Other than Wizard-kind, whom occupies most of the world?"

A horrified silence ensued as dawning realization happened upon the others. Hermione screwed her eyes shut in consternation as it occurred to her what the troubling answer was. "Muggles," she muttered into the deafening silence. "They're starting a war with the Muggles."

"Indeed," Dumbledore murmured mournfully, an invisible weight seeming to sink his frail body down in his seat. "And none but those strong enough to withstand and deal out death will be able to stop it. We alone are but a single drop in the ocean; slight, and desperately outnumbered. Should a war such as this occur, we will be almost powerless to stop it, especially if Voldemort's remaining hidden members decide to side with Greyback."

"Bollocks," Ron cursed into the heavy silence, but for once, Molly nodded her head in agreement with her son.

This was very bad indeed.

-oOoOoOoOo-

"Another war?" Draco hissed angrily, face pinched and pale as he looked between the faces of his solemn parents. It hadn't been long since he'd taken Harry to bed and waited for his mother and father to arrive, but what his parents had to say was something he really hadn't been expecting. This was far worse than what he could have ever expected. "What the bloody hell are they thinking, starting a new war so soon after just ending one? They better not ask Harry to save their arses again, he's done enough saving for more than enough lifetimes," he growled.

"I do not believe that that will be their aim, Draco. However, it is what will happen should Greyback engage the Muggles in war," said Lucius, frowning deeply at the entire situation. He cast a wary glance at the small lump still sleeping away in the large bed, before looking back at his son with a troubled expression. "He will not stand idly by whilst his friends go off to fight a war that shouldn't have begun. He will protect them," he told Draco quietly, concerned at his son's thoughts.

"If he goes, I go," Draco said firmly, inwardly daring his father to say otherwise. Lucius wouldn't be able to get a word in edgewise to convince him to let Harry go alone, especially where his life was concerned.

"And where you go, we shall follow," Narcissa said, pressing a small tender hand to her son's anger flushed cheek. "We of course extend the same to young Harry, for he is a part of our family now, and we always protect our family."

Draco sighed, and allowed his mother to cradle his cheek with her gentle hand and allowed himself to soak in her presence, but it wasn't long before he was shrugging her off and striding back to Harry's side, where he stood watch over the tense and frowning brunette with careful eyes. He knew without a shadow of a doubt that whatever Harry was dreaming about was entirely unpleasant, the brunette hadn't stopped crying until he fell into a deep sleep, and even then he'd continued to frown and cringe, the occasional tear crawling down his temples from the corners of his eyes. 

There wasn't a snowball's chance in Hell that he'd let anything hurt Harry, his mate. The bond between them may be new and fragile, but it was far stronger than the normal Soulbond - far surpassing even his own parents' bond, and theirs was the strongest of a long line of Soulbonds. They would be advancing from the beginning phase into the next; emotions. It was one of the most infamous of the four stages, as it was the most treacherous. 

Though, Draco was curious about Harry's emotions, as he always had been. Harry was known to wear his heart on his sleeve, and was perhaps the most emotional person Draco had ever known. He could be happy one moment -though it was considered a rare moment when Harry was really happy-, sad the next, and then angry, and then back to happy. It was like searching for a highly elusive snitch in a haystack, there one moment and gone the next; a fleeting glance. 

And yet Draco couldn't wait to discover the extent of Harry's emotions, even if they may tear him apart. 

"Fighting isn't in his nature," Lucius observed quietly as he moved to stand beside his silent son, a frown on his face as an almost silent whimper escaped from the trembling brunette's ruby red lips. "At least, not now that the Dark Lord is destroyed."

"He fights when he needs to," Draco muttered, watching his nervously fretting mother as she edged around the other side of the bed and perched on the edge as lightly as she could, and hesitantly placing a worried hand on Harry's curled one. It looked like Harry neither felt it or was disturbed by it, and Draco let it go. He refused to be one of those mates that attacked anyone for doing anything to his mate, like touch a hand accidentally. He had control.

"He is a fighter," Lucius remarked absently, looking deeply at his son-in-law's effeminate face and bringing Draco out of his thoughts. "But only because he was forced to be, without the Dark Lord and the death of his parents, and given the choice, I doubt he would have killed anyone at all."

"He's seen enough devastation for one so young," Narcissa whispered, gently caressing the loosely curled fist under her hand into a more relaxed position over the covers. Harry twitched in his sleep at the touch, whimpered, but didn't wake up. Draco tried for more patience, and bit down on his lower lip to keep from snapping at his mother. He had more patience than this.

"He's the victim of war," Lucius told her dryly. "What else did you expect?"

Narcissa neither replied, nor deigned to look like she'd heard him. 

Draco on the other hand, sighed in resignation. "Do you really expect there to be another war?" He asked them wearily, chewing on his lower lip as he watched Harry continue to twitch and tremble in his troubled sleep. Harry didn't need to be caught up in another war, and Draco just knew that that was going to happen.

Lucius bowed his head, a curtain of silky blonde locks falling down his shoulder. "I believe so," he admitted. "But from what I hear from some of my associates in Muggle London, they have developed weapons that can and will destroy us and any threat they deem dangerous enough. Should the werewolves go to war, I suppose the Muggles will flatten them."

"But not without Harry defending them and breaking the Statute of Secrecy," Draco murmured.

Lucius nodded once, a stiff jerk of the head. "And then we will be revealed," he said briskly.

"Why are the werewolves going to war with the Muggles, why even bother when the Dark Lord didn't try to?" Draco asked, extremely bemused. "Why try to start something that could potentially end us all?"

"Greyback isn't one for logic," Lucius told him darkly. "If he believes that something is achievable, such as bringing Muggle London, and potentially the world, to its knees, he will do everything he is capable of to attain it. He doesn't care for politics, to him, the end justifies the means."

A frown marred Draco's face, and he licked his dry lips thoughtfully as he rolled over that information in his mind. "That doesn't explain why he wants to though," he said, continuing to frown. "That only tells me what lengths he'd go to."

A sigh escaped Lucius at that, and Narcissa looked up at her husband in concern when his feelings of hesitancy and fear filtered through to her. She straightened her spine and looked to her son with a surety and seriousness that shook Draco to the core. "As you know, Muggles control the majority of the world, but if Greyback were to infect all wizards and witches with Lycanthropy and induct them into his army, he would be able to launch a magical attack that could bring any community or country to its knees - first England, then Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany - it would spread like falling dominoes across the entire world. And werewolves unaffected by the sway of the moon would reign supreme." 

Draco had paled at the beginning of Narcissa's speech, but by the end, he was a ghostly white. "But father just said . . . the Muggles have weapons," he whispered tensely.

Lucius glanced at him sorrowfully. "They would be no match for magic, Draco," he admitted in a murmur. "There is nothing stronger, or more effective than the spells we use. They would die before they got into killing distance of us."

Draco looked down at Harry instantly, fear and worry so thick choking him with immovable vices. He cleared his throat desperately to be rid of the embarrassing tears, and moved away from his father, mother, and mate to stand in front of the fire. "Is there no hope?" He asked in a small voice.

His parents' silence answered his question, and he finally allowed the tears to fall, ignoring his mother as she trailed a loving hand across his shoulders as they took their leave. They knew that they weren't welcome to witness his tears, only Harry was. And as the door shut behind them, he finally allowed himself to crumble and cross the room back to Harry's bed, where he stripped himself of his robes, shirt and trousers, and shuffled under the warm covers to embrace his quivering mate. 

The only thing that kept registering with his mind was; I only just got Harry, how could fate be so cruel as to make me lose him so soon?

Chapter Text

19. Tag-Teaming

Harry chewed on his lower lip anxiously as Draco sleepily curled closer around him, his red rimmed eyes very close to Harry's own, so much that Harry could trace the small veins in the paper-thin smooth skin of his eyelids with his own eyes. It helped Harry to calm down; helped his shaking limbs fade to faint tremors as he observed the features of the Slytherin with a less than aroused and sex addled mind. The nightmares clung fresh to his mind, that much was obvious by his gutted expression -not that he noticed-, but just looking at Draco seemed to help the pain and fathomless depths of sorrow to fade into background noise, just that small bit.

He had woken from his sleep restless, and just a little bit nervous as the bed had felt considerably heavier. He had forgotten just how he'd fallen asleep, but as soon as he'd opened his eyes, he found that he very much liked having someone else in bed with him. He'd never slept beside someone before, the Dursley's most certainly wouldn't have allowed him to have sleep in their bed after a nightmare, or allow Harry to have a friend sleep over. There was never any room in his cupboard for someone else other than the clutter, the spiders and himself.

But he liked this, as much as he used to hate other people touching him.

They were both curled up in each other; Harry's legs tucked between Draco's, Draco's arms wrapped protectively around Harry and anchoring him to his chest, and Harry's head sharing the same pillow as the blonde - where he'd moved it upon waking, as his head had been tucked under Draco's chin. They were entwined together like snakes, and Harry wouldn't have had it any other way.

Except, he would. He would have rathered they wake up together for the first time to be a happy occasion, a moment where it was just them together and there was nothing wrong in the world. But life wasn't fair, least of all to him, and if something good were to be in his favor, it was swiftly followed by something extremely bad.

Slowly and carefully so as not to wake the blonde, Harry lifted his right hand from between them and gently caressed Draco's soft cheeks, tracing the dried trails left by tears with nimble fingertips and gently smoothing the hair back from the weary-set brows. It was all too clear that Harry wasn't the only one who had suffered from nightmares all night, and he couldn't help but feel a tightening in his chest at the melancholic expression his sleeping mate was sporting, thinking that, once again, it was his fault for causing unrest.

Sleep darkened silver eyes opened slowly and gradually at his gentle touching, and Harry was truly hit with the realization that Draco truly was his mate, no matter what past they may have shared before their Inheritances. Just the look in Draco's eyes alone convinced Harry not to be embarrassed about his moment of weakness, that it was perfectly alright for his walls to crash down around him in the arms holding him. All of those petty fights in the past were less than nothing compared to the bond between them, they were a shout from under water; muted and unheard. There was no blaming; fighting; cursing and hexing; manipulating. Just the two of them, connected and sharing something as old as time and just as powerful.

In the silence of Harry's fire-lit room, they stared at each other; storm cloud grey melting with fiery green emerald, swimming within each others gazes as if nothing else was around them. They didn't speak for nearly ten minutes, as their eyes were doing the talking for them. Suddenly, a sultry smile graced those beautiful lips, and before Harry could so much as say 'Hello' properly, Draco had leaned in and captured his lips in a furious kiss, an impassioned moan drawling deep in the muscular chest pressed to Harry's.

Harry dragged in a deep, ragged breath when Draco bit down on his generous lower lip, and then moaned throatily as Draco deepened the kiss, tangling their tongues in a battle of dominance that Harry was sorely losing -not that he minded-, and mixing a small amount of blood from Harry's lip between them with every sensual sweep of tongues. It was everything Harry needed; he needed Draco.

The heat of their kisses brought about a bout of exhilaration that swept between the two gradually, fizzling and zapping excitedly in the places that their bodies touched and seemed to stop existing as separate. Harry's toes had long ago been curled tight from the wicked sensations Draco was giving him, but he was in no mind to worry if the strength he was exerting on his toes were breaking them at all, he was swallowed completely by the siren song of Draco's lips, the plundering of the hot cavern of his mouth as Draco mapped out every indentation and curve as if he were a cool drink of a water in a boiling desert.

After a long moment of blood-burning, brain melting, passionate kissing, Harry was guided onto his back by gentle but insistent hands, and Draco was suddenly leaning up and above him, his elbow holding himself steady at Harry's shoulder so he wouldn't fall and crush his little mate, and his other hand trailing possessively down Harry's side, squeezing and molding against Harry's curves as if silently shouting and claiming the flesh;  Mine!

A high pitched, pleasured keen left Harry's lips, only to be swallowed immediately by Draco's, as the wandering hand swept under the back of his knee and hitched it up, and a firm, muscular leg was suddenly worked between Harry's, where it immediately began moving and rubbing encouragingly against his achingly hard cock.

Harry couldn't get enough air to cry out, let alone breathe, as that very leg caused the most delicious sparks of pleasure to emanate from his cock, pleasure in every sense of the word lapping at his lithe and supple body. However, it would've been a much sweeter sensation if he could have enough air in his lungs to enjoy it. His chest cavity ached almost painfully for oxygen, but he was so damn hard for Draco that he could barely think with his dizzying mind.

Draco pulled back from his swollen lips abruptly, as if sensing the panic beginning to bubble up in Harry's mind at the lack of air in his lungs, but didn't waste any time in trailing passionate and hot open mouthed kisses down Harry's jaw and onto the furiously pumping vein in his long, ivory neck. Teeth trailed teasingly over the vein, but not once did they attempt to pierce the skin, merely scraping teasingly at the surface; a hint at the pleasure that Draco's fangs opening one of his veins could bring.

Harry was gasping out desperate moans, unable to keep his hands from wandering, scratching, grabbing, squeezing anywhere of Draco he could reach, too caught up in the pleasure and unable to keep his hips from bucking against the leg working so beautifully with his needy cock. He choked on the overwhelming sensations, feeling more in his lungs and spine than his stomach the delicious searing heat that alerted him to his near completion. He could feel the restless writhing of his wings underneath the skin of his back - feel the bones of his wings shifting as if to emerge upon his completion to wrap around them both.

"Yesss," Harry hissed out, unknowingly invoking his rather sibilant tongue in the red haze, gritting his teeth as the pleasure began to reach epic proportions that sprung colors before his closed eyes.

With a primal, choked snarl, Draco removed his leg and instead situated himself between Harry's thighs, hitching the leg still in his grasp high over his arching hips as he brought his own achingly hard cock down against Harry's. They both hissed and let out cries of pleasure at the contact, before Draco began moving skillfully and powerfully against Harry's hips and stealing whatever remained of Harry's breath away again.

Heavenly fire poured into Harry's body very quickly, igniting every bone in his body like fireworks set to explode, and he was helpless to the situation as Draco brought him to the very edge of the world, and threw him tumbling head first over the precipice. He screamed his completion to the sky, unable to keep silent as his entire world  burned  with pleasure and utter completion, feeling nothing but Draco everywhere and all over him, inside of him; large, hot hands grabbing at his body; rutting slim hips that still moved against his spurting cock with feverish motions; molten silver eyes watching him obsessively, tracking every move and twinge of pleasure as if committing it to memory.

Harry was flying, there was nothing else but Draco and the pleasure, the pleasure that seemed to be sending him careening to the edge of insanity from the sheer power of it. Nothing was like it, and he doubted that anything else ever would be.

And then Draco was arching against him and roaring his own completion to the heavens, sending somehow a  wave  of the pleasure back two-fold into his somewhat spent body and shocking Harry into an arch of his own, a twin cry of completion escaping him as he came for the second time.

Heart pounding harder than ever before and his chest heaving for air, Harry slowly sunk back onto the bed, sweaty, boneless, and Draco fell to his side, immediately bringing his arms around Harry and pulling him in close. He was panting hard and sweating too.

"That -" Draco said, pausing to gasp for some much needed air - despite it smelling of what Harry was discovering as sex. "- was just what I needed," he finished, allowing a shaky post-coital smile to grace his swollen and red mouth.

Harry suspected that he looked far worse than Draco did, but he couldn't bring himself to care much, not when his own body was rocking its own bout of post-coital bliss. Though they hadn't gone any farther than rutting and wanking, just those experiences seemed surreal and more than pleasurable - it was almost criminal.

And it made him ponder just how much more epic the pleasure of their lovemaking would be when they finally completed the bond.

It took Harry several minutes to get his breathing back under control and to speak properly, and even then he still sounded winded and hoarse. "What brought that on?" He asked breathlessly, nudging Draco's arm with a tired wrist. "Not that I mind or anything, but you usually leave encounters like this for the bathroom."

"Thought we could bring it to the bedroom," Draco said, chuckling just as breathlessly as he. "Got sick of mum and dad always interrupting us, so I thought - hey, they can't exactly barge into our rooms, so why not put them to good use?"

Harry snorted. "Spoken like a true Slytherin," he drawled, skirting a hand over his still heaving, sweaty chest, almost insanely aware that Draco was watching him closely.

"If you hadn't noticed already, Harry but I am a Slytherin, and a damn good one at that," Draco said, a grin turning the corner of his lip up minimally.

"Can't argue with that," Harry mumbled, a wide yawn nearly cracking his jaw open. "Though perhaps your performance isn't exactly up to code, it certainly does leave something to be desired."

Draco was suddenly looming over him again, mirth sprinkled sparingly in the slightly suspicious and affronted silver eyes. "And what does that mean?" He drawled.

Harry felt a mischievous smirk begin to spread onto his lips at the look his mate was giving him, but he squashed it as quickly as he could. Draco's look of suspicion intensified at his sudden blank expression. "You've proven that you can give me pleasure during, but what about for after?" He quizzed coyly, lifting a hand to drift lazily through the sweaty platinum locks.

Draco scowled, but didn't shove his hand away. "And what do you mean by that, I wonder," he muttered, unimpressed.

The smirk began to creep back onto the corners of Harry's lips before he could do anything about it, but he didn't bother stopping it. "Well, a shower is always a good way to worm ones way into anothers good graces . . ." He trailed helpfully.

Silver eyes narrowed into dangerous slivers of grey, and Draco slowly lowered himself down until their noses almost touched. "Are you saying that I  stink,  Potter?" Draco almost growled, no real heat behind his words, though they did sound playful.

Harry feigned innocent, smiling as sweetly as he could up at the blonde. "Why, Draco, how could you possibly come to that conclusion?" He asked, pressing a small kiss to the still swollen lips hovering a hairs breath above his own. "Though, if even yourself suspects that you need a shower -" he broke off to press another kiss - this one slightly more affectionate, to Draco's pursed lips. "- perhaps you're in need of one."

By then, Draco's eyes were practically sparse glints of silver amongst blonde lashes. "You dare to tell me - your mate, that I stink?"  He breathed dangerously, though Harry heard more playfulness than any actual anger.

Harry suppressed the laughter that threatened to break free. "No, no!" He denied. "You smell delici --" He was cut off by the explosion of laughter and giggles that was the direct result of Draco digging tickling fingers into his tender sides.

Draco cackled mercilessly above him as the gale of laughter escalated into pleas and shrieks of "Stop! Please - no more! " as Harry was completely undone.

Draco allowed Harry to suffer under his tickling fingers for a moment longer, taking in and committing to memory the joyful, untainted expression of his wise beyond immeasurable years soulmate. He wouldn't likely be able to see that sight ever again, and it drove him spare that he had just found his soulmate and was already under dire threat of losing him.

"Fine," he snapped, huffing faux-angrily and ceasing his attack on Harry. He shuffled back from his panting mate. "But if you think stink, you should smell yourself - disgusting."

-oOoOoOoOo-

Draco had made sure to wash Harry very thoroughly and attentively with the body wash the brunette had favored so much, even though Harry stunk of nothing bad at all; it had all been a ploy to get Harry to allow him to touch him.

And he was certain that Harry had known about it right from the get-go.

"Are you sure that we have to go see everyone right now?"

Draco sent Harry a half exasperated look and shook his head. "If I hear you say that one more time . . ."

Harry grunted, lowering his gaze to where he was putting his feet. "I just don't think that anyone wants to see me so soon after. . ." He refrained from saying the words that Draco knew were in his mind, the incident still fresh.

"I don't think anyone will care," Draco told him confidently, mentally adding, Because they're all concerned with how you're going to fight in and champion them in yet another war.

"Everyone always cares, Draco," Harry bit out bitterly. "Every bad thing I've done in my life has always had someone there to comment on it, and you think that no one will be angry with me for - for killing those werewolves when I didn't have to?"

Draco sighed at the tortured expression fighting its way onto Harry's ethereal features, and cuddled the smaller brunette protectively and comfortingly into his side. "Harry, I don't think anyone truly thinks any bad of you for defending them," he said gently. "I know that I don't, and certainly Granger and Weasel plus seven don't. You've always had their best interest at heart, and no one can fault you for that."

Harry tensed at that for a silent moment. "They can when I've killed for them," he murmured.

Draco scowled darkly, a vicious sneer curling his lips. "Then they under appreciate your good heart and clearly aren't deserving of your loyalty," he said roughly.

Harry was silent after that, quietly conceding to Draco's logic -however much he hated thinking of his friends in such a manner- that perhaps he wasn't the one at fault. He stayed cuddled into Draco's side as they entered the solemn Great hall and seated themselves at the quiet table, finding that the stares weighing on him were perhaps a bit too suffocating.

Hermione was gazing at him soberly, her teeth worrying her lower lip anxiously as he ignored them all in favor of serving himself breakfast. A pale, but apologetic Ron was by her side -as always- and was also staring at Harry, an indecipherable emotion in his blue eyes. Harry ignored him pointedly.

"Harry dear, you're looking a bit peaky today, are you well?" Asked Molly slowly, concerned at Harry's pale pallor. She truly didn't fault Harry for killing those werewolves, it was obvious by the familiar warm and motherly spark in her brown eyes.

Harry offered her a small smile, twisting the Potter ring anxiously around his finger - as he had found was a nervous tick of his. "I'm alright, Misses Weasley, just a small headache is all," he lied, forcing the smile to look reassuring. He knew it didn't fool her by the look on her face, but she didn't say anything about it, and neither did he.

Hermione looked at him sharply, almost as if seeing the tears he'd shed the night before on his cheeks still. "You've been having nightmares again," she observed softly, gaining Molly's attention. "Oh, Harry, do you see why I didn't want you going after those werewolves? You've got enough on your plate to deal with without more blood on your hands, you didn't need to protect us."

"What's done is done," Harry told her grimly, looking down at his plate to avoid the suddenly piercing stares of those gathered at the table. It was incredibly silent and still as he spoke. "Let's all just leave it at that. There's no point in bringing it all back up when we can do nothing to change it."

Apparently seeing a chance at changing the subject, Ron suddenly came to life in his girlfriend's silence. "Harry, mate, I'm really sorry for insulting you and going at you like I did. 'Mione tore into me right after it all happened and made me see that I was being a huge tosser --" he began apologetically, face a magnificent shade of red.

"I forgive you," Harry told him quietly, cutting off the apology that he knew was most likely slaying the red head's pride. He just wanted it all over and done with already, he didn't care for Ron's apology - it was always the same; Harry, I'm sorry for being a right prat; Harry, 'Mione made me see that I was a git, I'm sorry.

"Really," he added at seeing Ron begin to protest, Hermione giving her boyfriend's arm an encouraging nudge when he faltered at Harry's abruptness. "I forgive you. I understand that you're really upset, Ron, I do. Your best mate was human one night, and then not the next day - it stressed, shocked, and confused you to the point of striking out. And then you find out that Draco Malfoy and I are mates, I completely understand that you're angry. I guess I'm just used to it by now."

With a wince at the unintentional but deserving sharp barb, Ron left the conversation to die in the tense silence, and hurriedly picked up his knife and fork to avoid speaking. It was a tactic he used whenever he didn't know what else to say, or was just feeling uncomfortable. Harry recognized it easily enough; it was hard not to pick up certain ticks from friends when you've been around them for so long. Hermione's favorite distraction was to read - whether she had a book on hand or not; she would look away and find someone to focus her sharp eye on.

Everyone seemed to follow along in the same vein as Ron, and Harry wasn't inclined to stop them. The conversations that sprung up were strained at best, but it kept the Hall from feeling too suffocating. They had all had breakfasts and meals that were unpleasant, but were obviously trying hard to discontinue that, even if it was with people they hardly liked. Harry himself was making conversation with people he never thought he'd actually sit with, let alone look at.

"So, what are we going to do today?" Harry heard Hermione ask, and had to wonder just who she was aiming the question at, as no one had spoken a word to her.

Dumbledore suddenly smiled, as if he had been reminded of something important, and looked at Harry closely. Harry sighed inwardly, recognizing the look for what it was and merely accepted it. "Harry my boy, I have a very important favor to ask of you," the old wizard said, smiling happily and peacefully unaware of the dark looks being sent his way from the Malfoys.

McGonagall's lips thinned severely from her place beside Dumbledore. "I'm sure it could wait until after we have breakfasted, Albus," she said stiffly, raising a delicate cup of tea to sip at it briskly. She gave the elderly man a sharp look as he merely smiled genially at her.

"No, no, I'm sure that it is perfectly alright to ask him now," Dumbledore told the stern witch happily, before smiling once more at Harry, blissfully unaware of McGonagall's gimlet stare drilling into the side of his face. "Harry, I wished to know if you would be so kind as to escort the young ladies from Hogsmeade station to Hogwarts grounds tonight, at seven o'clock."

Harry rolled the request around in his mind thoughtfully, aware, but uncaring for the looks of anger that graced Draco and the Slytherin majority of the table.

"Our Harry is not some common House-elf at your disposal, Headmaster," sneered an irate Lucius. "You cannot merely request him to do your bidding, he is a Lord, and he is to do what he wishes."

"I meant no offense to Harry's status as Lord Potter, Lucius," Dumbledore gently remonstrated the still sneering blonde. "I am merely asking for a favor, Headmaster to pupil. I'm sure you understand."

"What you're doing is needlessly risking the last of the Potter line to protect wizards and witches that clearly know how to defend themselves," said Narcissa fiercely, eyes glinting glacially at the old wizard that seemed to grow flustered under the weight of so many disgusted gazes. "Harry has defeated the last threat to our community with no small amount of sacrifice and pain. Are you seriously considering sending him back out into the battlefield when his duty is to remain protected, and serve the House of Potter the amount of respect it deserves?"

Dumbledore's cheeks tinted red. "Now, see here --" He began to say, unsettled by the severe reactions to his, in his mind, acceptable request.

"I agree with Madame Malfoy," said McGonagall briskly, dabbing the corners of her thin lips primly and throwing down her napkin as if she hadn't just cut off one of the most powerful wizards in the world. "Harry is no longer needed to fulfill a silly, poor excuse of a prophecy that had vague notions of sacrifice that spiraled down many different paths - not all safe and positive. Harry is not needed to defend us, he is needed to take up his seat as Lord Potter in the Wizengamot, and provide better futures for the younger generations with his outstanding moral compass and genuine compassion. He is needed in his role as Head of the Ancient and Noble House of Potter, now more than ever. Fleamont Potter would have wanted him to take up his James' place as Head, irregardless of what an Inheritance gave or took away, and most certainly irregardless of how Harry came into such a position."

"I cannot believe that you would request this of him, Albus!" Molly Weasley, defender of all children, remonstrated in addition to Minerva, shaking a fist at the chagrined Headmaster. "After all Harry has done for us, sacrificed for us, bled for us, you would think that he would be able to find peace of mind in the wake of his defeat of Lord Voldemort! And what does he find instead? A request made by the very same wizard that put him in danger before he was a twinkle in his mothers eye to yet again protect us! Shame on you - shame on you Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore!" 

Harry leaned back in his seat in mild shock as people of all alliances shouted reprimands at the Headmaster, all at his defense. He wasn't so much surprised at Molly's defense of him, just the ferocity in words and tone that she used on the Leader of the Light. It was like she was cracking the whip on one of her misbehaving sons. But Professor McGonagall's involvement on his behalf . . . it had him staring at the stern witch with something akin to reverence and awe. She took on the Headmaster -her mentor- with barely a blink of an eye, and all for him.

A large, warm hand cupped Harry's, and he turned his head slightly to see Draco watching him closely, a slight twinge in the corner of his lip that betrayed his amusement. They all listened and watched avidly as Molly gave the Headmaster a severe dressing down, Minerva McGonagall joining in to tear strips off the now weary and regretful Headmaster. If things became a little . . . personal with Harry's previous home-life -courtesy of Hermione and Ron joining in, in berating the Headmaster- Harry gave nothing away, other than squeezing the hand holding his.

"It's almost like they're tag-teaming," Draco mused in amusement, watching as the Headmaster finally excused himself from the table, even while under the sharp tongue lashings of Minerva and Molly. "It's almost like they coordinated this attack on the Headmaster together, like an ambush of some kind."

"Like they expected it," Harry said quietly, pushing himself to cut up the food before and chew on it mechanically. If it tasted like ash to his racing mind, it didn't show on his face. It was a chore to eat, but he did with the knowledge that he needed the energy, and the excuse to stop others from engaging him in a conversation.

"Yes, that's exactly what I was thinking," Draco murmured, watching the happenings of the table intently as some of the tension leached away. "Everyone's settling down now. I think Weasley's mother is satisfied that Dumbledore knows her opinion on the matter. Mother seems the same, if a bit more dignified about it."

Harry nodded absent-mindedly, still chewing on his food at his own pace, even if Draco seemed a little impatient for him to talk again. He swallowed his mouthful of food. "I think Molly's been planning for years to confront Dumbledore on many things - about me, mostly. I think that this was just a golden opportunity for her." 

"Well I hope you don't mind my mum joining in on all the fun as well," Draco said wryly, prompting Harry back into eating with a gentle nudge to the ribs. "She's been dying to say something to Dumbledore about his deplorable sense of self-preservation and empathy for his students for years, ever since she studied here. She thinks he should step aside and let McGonagall assume the role of Headmistress in his place." 

"And what does the Slytherin Prince think of that?" Harry teased him, a small smirk quirking his generous lips. 

Draco was distracted for a moment by the smirk, gleaming silver eyes gazing mindlessly at those very red lips as Harry's smirk widened. He swallowed loudly as a small pink tongue wet the expanse of ruby lips. "I don't care who becomes Headmaster or Headmistress, so long as they're not any worse than Dumbledore," he said absently, slightly breathless.

"I agree," Harry said, grinning prettily now at the slack-jawed look on his boyfriend's -mates- face. "Although I do have some form of respect for Dumbledore, I think that he's lost touch with the emotions and need that students have nowadays. I'm a prime example of his ineffectiveness to help students; he sent me to live with . . --" Harry broke off hurriedly, eschewing teasing his boyfriend in favor chewing on his lower lip. "With no one."

"Who were you going to say?" Draco asked quietly, seeming to blink himself from his stupor at the concerning expression on his mates face. "Harry?" He prompted.

"Not the time or place," Harry said to him, just as quietly. It would never be the time to speak about my horrifying life with the Durlsey's, he thought. No one would know about the pain he suffered there without direct cause for it. And just because his boyfriend and mate asked him about it, was most definitely not the cause to spill the beans on his biggest secret yet. It would be a secret he took to the grave.

Draco grimaced. "You know that I'll keep bringing it up anyway," he said.

Harry nodded in acceptance, turning back to his plate with ill-disguised nervousness. "I know, you wouldn't be you if you didn't. But I won't be telling you until I'm ready," he said.

They were both silent for a moment, the both of them letting their conversation fall into a lull as they observed the others talking about the recent spectacle of Minerva and Molly stripping Dumbledore's ego bare. They systematically ate their breakfast, their expressions and body language shifting through cycles of emotions; Harry was silent and shifty, keeping his gaze on the plate before him as nerves ate at him, so clear was his distress that even a few of the people at the opposite end of the table glanced at him in concern. Draco was completely still, his face shifting through expressions of intense anger, slight fear, a possessive indignance, and finally, an alien look of anger and possessiveness.

"It's something bad, isn't it," Draco said eventually, an unknown emotion bleeding into his voice that had Harry ducking his head slightly.

Harry didn't answer him. He continued eating the ash-tasting food.

"How bad?" Draco asked tersely.

Harry didn't answer that either. Even if he wanted to, how could he answer it? He didn't know of any other cases to compare his childhood with, nor did it seem as bad as the war he had been drafted into at a young age to champion. He lifted his shoulders in a graceful shrug, thankful that the ring on his finger deemed that dignified enough and didn't try to burn his finger off.

"Tell me," Draco said, an eery calmness in his frosty voice.

"I'm not ready to," Harry answered firmly. "Honestly, it's not as bad as what you're thinking."

"Harry, you're testing my patience," Draco told him stiffly. If Harry were to look at his mate, he would notice the very sharp teeth peaking out threateningly from underneath the blonde's thinning upper lip.

"I already told you that I won't be telling you until I'm ready, Draco," Harry answered the blonde quietly. "I'm not going to tell you until I'm sure that I can handle it," he said.

"You will tell me," Draco said gruffly, digging dilated and slightly red ringed eyes into the side of Harry's face.

Harry nodded reassuringly, soothing the enraged Vampire with soft, gentle touches. "When I'm ready, I'll let you know," he said tenderly, giving Draco's tensed hand a comforting squeeze. "But for now, you need to relax."

"I can't relax knowing that someone hurt you," Draco said stiffly, giving his mate an almost incredulous look. 

"Will you relax if I tell you that it was in retaliation for something that I'd done?" Harry asked him, fighting to keep the knowledge that whatever he had done when he was younger was in self-defense against Dudley, uncle Vernon and Dudley's friends.

Draco shook his head firmly. "You don't deserve to be harmed. Ever," he said fiercely. "And if you ever think that you do . . you don't want to know what will happen."

Harry bit his lower lip and nodded, aware of the eyes that were attached to them. "Fine," he said, not exactly meaning it. "Now can we leave?"

-oOoOoOoOo-

"You made it clear that you're all right with mating with Draco wherever you may be and with falling pregnant, Harry, but I don't think you realize just what goes into a mateship," Narcissa said slowly, skewering the two teenagers before her with her sharp gaze. "So now that you've had your say on those matters, we can carry on with what is involved in a mateship, and what to expect."

"Draco, you know of the base stages of a mateship, correct?" Lucius asked Draco, staring at his son with piercing eyes. The two elder Malfoy's looked to be tag-teaming with each other, much in the same spirit as Minerva McGonagall and Molly Weasley had against the Headmaster that morning. They wanted to drill just how important the mateship was into the teenagers before they advanced any further.

Draco frowned at his father and cast a cautious glance at Harry, before nodding and looking back to his parents. "Connection, Emotion, Telepathy and Soul," he said. 

Lucius nodded once to confirm, and then turned to look closely at Harry. "I'm unsure of what stages the Valerian have in a mateship as there is next to no information regarding the subject, but as Draco is the Dominant, we will assume that the mateship will fall under Vampiric rulings. Are you comfortable in accepting this?" He asked.

Harry nodded his assent.

"As Draco named the four stages of Vampiric mateship, Narcissa and I shall provide the knowledge that you will need to create a positive and strong bond," Lucius said, sitting back in his seat and stroking an elegant hand over the silver snake head atop his polished cane. "You have already established a connection between the two of you, which could have began from nothing more than a glance in your mates direction, or a touch of their hand. It cannot be destroyed or ignored. Given the strength of the bond between you, not even if you ignored it would it dissipate. In fact, I believe you tried to ignore each other in the beginning, putting your feelings of hatred first instead of the sweetening effects of the bond. It, to your detriment, did not go away as expected, but somehow swelled in power and strength and forced the both of you to recognize it."

"Could it have gone away if we didn't recognize it?" Harry asked quickly, seeing Lucius pause to draw breath.

Narcissa shook her golden head in response of her husband, not a hair moving from the complicated chignon atop her head. "With the strength of the bond between you already breaking down the barriers of years of hate, I don't see how it would accept you both ignoring it or not recognizing it," she said knowledgeably, but not unkindly. "There was a couple, years before we were all born, that decided not to recognize what was between them. That is, they felt something when they passed by each other, but they neither looked nor touched one another in fear of beginning something they both didn't want."

"And what did the bond do?" Harry asked, unsure he wanted to know. Draco's hand tightened around his.

Narcissa's lips thinned slightly. "The bond forced them to recognize each other by forcing their magic to bend to its will. It was as if an unseen force knocked them into each other, breaking a few bones in the process and sending them to the Hospital wing. They were wrapped around each other, their eyes not leaving one another for fear of the bond deciding that they were attempting to ignore the other. They were put into a room with no inanimate objects and forced to copulate, to begin the bond and seal them together to sate the bonds thirst for their recognition. They were forced from Hogwarts in fear of the bond using their magic to harm other students, as when they were forced together, three students were almost killed in the crossfire." 

Harry gasped in true horror, turning wide fearful eyes onto a silent Draco. "That could have been us!" He said to him, horrified at the mere idea. "We could've hurt somebody . ." He couldn't speak. 

"While your magic is stronger than nearly every witch and wizard in existence, I do not think that it would harm another without you intending to," Lucius disagreed, shaking his head. "Your nature would not let you harm another without grievous error on their part; thus your current state of being. As a Guardian of others, it is obvious that you do not harm without cause."

"You wouldn't harm anyone without a reason," Narcissa reiterated, firm. 

A delicate shudder rippled through Harry at that, startling Draco somewhat, and he shook his head. "I have hurt others without meaning to," he admitted quietly. "I couldn't control my magic, and I still can't. I'm always constantly containing it, holding it in."

"You shouldn't have to do that," Lucius said, frowning bemusedly. "Your magic is your own and bends to your will alone, it cannot think for itself and therefore awaits your instructions. It is not sentient."

"Mine seems like it," Harry told him. "It's like an animal trapped in a cage, it's fighting to come out."

"We shall have to discuss this at another time," Narcissa said, gesturing vaguely with her hand. "We haven't much time before the others arrive from Hogsmeade Station."

Lucius nodded determinedly. "Let us carry on with our lesson. Emotion, of course, blurs the barriers of our emotions and allows us to wholly feel what the other is feeling. It can cause temporary insanity, as you could mistake the others feeling for you own; say, anger, or perhaps jealousy."

"So I could be fine and dandy one second, and then angry the next?" Harry asked skeptically.

Narcissa nodded solemnly. "It was absolute hell for Lucius and I in the beginning, as we both are put through our paces in politicking as Lord and Lady Malfoy, and must keep our composure until we are allowed in the privacy of our halls at Malfoy Manor," she said. "For example, if I was particularly annoyed by another Lady and Lucius felt my annoyance double-fold with his own, he would become more than irate and blunt with the person he was currently speaking with. It works both ways, I can assure you."

"It also brings pleasure triple-fold in the bedchamber," Lucius said, the picture of calm and tranquility in the face of Harry's blushing face. "If Narcissa was feeling particularly pleased with my actions, I will feel it as well, and the same for her. It is an odd sensation to feel taken when you are the one doing the taking, but something rather enjoyable I find."

"We'll be able to feel everything the other is feeling," Harry summarized hurriedly, nodding. "Got it. Now onto Telepathy."

A faint smirk touched Lucius' face at Harry's obvious mortification, but he carried on per Draco's almost equally horrified expression. "Telepathy is exactly that. Telepathy. It allows you to converse with one another within your minds. But do not throw caution to the wind in thinking that your minds are protected, they are most certainly not, as the shields for Occlumency are no longer in place. It is particularly dangerous around a carefully practiced Legilimens, so no thinking of dangerous thoughts in public."

"It will be difficult," Narcissa said, throwing her husband a sour look. "Especially if one of you do not know Occlumency. But you will be able to help bridge the gap in your minds that will keep out interlopers and Legilimens. Severus is an accomplished Occlumens, and I'm sure that, given the circumstances of your already strong and firm bond, he will be able to teach you how to guard your minds, even when you speak to one another."

"It will take time and no small amount of effort," Lucius agreed, ignoring the looks he was getting from his wife. "Especially as you are both so young, your thoughts may travel unfiltered to the other, which will counteract with the lack of emotional barriers. Especially as your hormones are becoming wild and are shifting with your recent changes, you may find that broomclosets are more preferable in the heat of the moment than your bedchambers," he said wryly. 

Draco closed his eyes in clear embarrassment, before nodding and gripping Harry's supportive hand tightly. They both shuffled a little closer together, feigning discomfort on the comfortable seat to do so. They ignored the amused gazes of the elder Malfoy's as they settled; hip to thigh, arm to arm.

"And Soul?" Harry asked weakly, unsure if he wanted to continue at this point.

Narcissa surprised Harry in smiling softly, her eyes glimmering in the remembrance of her time with Lucius. Lucius twined a hand around Narcissa's dainty wrist, and slowly moved to encase her slight fingers in a loving embrace. The cane was almost forgotten in his other hand. "When you are both ready to commit fully to each other, you will copulate and in a fit of instinct, will exchange blood through a kiss, sealing and melding your cores together in a moment of utmost passion," she said, her voice almost hard to hear in the silence of the Creatures Nest.

"It is dangerous," Lucius added quietly, a look of unknown love in his gaze as he looked at his wife. "When you begin the last stage in your mateship, there is nothing that can stop it, and that also means that if you are threatened, you will hardly notice. Many are killed in that final moment, which is why our kind are nearing extinction."

"We won't notice that we're being attacked?" Harry asked, his mind reeling as an image of Draco and himself entwined together on a large bed, a dark figure slowly prowling at the edges with a wand poised to spit out a deadly curse, filled his mind. 

Lucius shook his head solemnly. "Which is why Narcissa and I urge you to wait until you have both finished your schooling at Hogwarts and are someplace safe," he said. "Your minds will be filled with nothing but each other, your hearts beating only for the other in that final moment that seals you together, that makes you one. You won't notice a wand, or a weapon that is trained on you, until you are dead or your mate is killed before your eyes." 

"But it might be different for us," Harry said uncertainly, still off-kilter with the information that he or Draco could be killed just as they joined each other in a bond that lasted eternity. "I'm a Guardian being, so I could protect us when we finished that final stage. Right?"

"Of course," Draco murmured soothingly into his ear, sliding the arm pressed against him around his shoulders in a one armed embrace. Harry took comfort in the warmth, and huddled closer, bringing his left arm to press against Draco's steadily rising and falling chest. He took a large measure of relief in the strong heartbeat thrumming under his fingertips.

"This is all pertaining to Vampires, Harry darling," Narcissa crooned affectionately, rising from her seat to gracefully sit beside him, placing a small comforting hand on his arm. "As you are a Valerian, I'm sure you have a measure of protection that you can extend to Draco when the bonding makes you vulnerable." 

"That is to say that someone will even attack you," Lucius said, also rising from his seat. He turned and walked to stand in front of the fireplace, his eyes trained on the roaring and crackling wood. "With your reputation, not even the missing Death Eaters will attempt to assassinate you. You are a highly important figure in the Wizarding world, and most definitely will be on the Wizengamot when you choose to attend. It would be remiss of me to allow you to even stay at some hovel, or hole in the ground."

"I was thinking of staying at the Potter Manor after we finish Hogwarts," Harry admitted quietly, slightly pink cheeked at Lucius' declaration. 

Draco hummed beside him, and Narcissa made an intrigued noise. Lucius himself gave the impression of interest and slight surprise. 

"The home of the late Fleamont Potter and his wife, Euphemia," Lucius murmured to himself, seemingly unaware of his audience. "Not a bad home, I'm sure, but if I recall . . . Yes, my father was once invited to attend tea with Fleamont and his father, Henry, but as my father was rather harsh and strict about his associates, I remember him not attending and instead sending a rather short missive in reply, gratitude for the invitation, but words of anger for the attempt at . . . I believe the word was 'gossip-mongering'." 

"Why didn't he go?" Harry asked, prompting the man when he fell silent. He was enthralled with the information about his grandfather and great-grandfather, especially as coming from the Malfoy's, it would remain unbiased with regards to heroism. Although it would most likely sound as if his family were arrogant and sneer-worthy.

"I assume the Dark Lord's leash had restricted his free time and choice of friends," Lucius said speculatively. "Of course, it could have been because the Potter's and the Malfoy's have always had bad blood between them."

"I believe Fleamont meant to ensure the possibility of neutrality between James and yourself," said Narcissa pensively. "I seem to recall my cousin, Sirius, complaining about James' father sending a letter of recognition to Abraxas on behalf of James. Sirius thought that James could handle whatever you could throw at them."

"Still thinks," Harry muttered wryly, giving his head a small shake.

Narcissa looked down at him, astonished. "You know of Sirius' location?" She asked.

Harry nodded hesitantly, a smidge timid at the question. "I live with him," he informed her quietly.

"Where?" She asked, looking wary, if a little bit excited at the news. 

Harry went to say, but paused as he remembered the Fidelius that was still up around Grimmauld Place. He frowned apologetically at her. "I'm sorry," he said simply.

But thankfully, Narcissa seemed to understand, as a look of realization dawned upon her face. "Oh, of course," she said weakly. "I'm so sorry."

Harry waved her off. "It's fine," he told her. "But if you'd like, I'm sure if you wrote a letter, I could pass it along to him when the Weasley's next visit him." 

She nodded distractedly, looking as if her mind was racing miles a minute. “That would be acceptable, thank you, Harry,” she said.

Draco suddenly stiffened beside Harry, his grip on Harry going tight and harsh. “He's your guardian,” he choked out, as if finally understanding.

“He's my Godfather,” Harry confirmed, if a little stiffly as he was being crushed into Draco's side. “Can you just – loosen up a little?” He asked, fighting to move freely under the almost crushing weight of the blonde's arm.

Draco muttered something under his breath, too quiet for Harry or Narcissa to hear, and relinquished his tight grip on his squirming mate. He stood from his seat and walked over to the fireplace where his father stood, his back to Harry and Narcissa's inquisitive stares. Lucius seemed to understand, as a fairly sympathetic look was sent to the tense young vampire beside him. 

Suddenly, Narcissa crowed with mirthful laughter, her hand flying to her cover her mouth as Draco winced and Lucius shot her an unimpressed look. She trailed off into a smattering of snickering at both Lucius and Draco, hand still in place. She turned to Harry, her blue eyes bright and dancing with laughter. "Draco is much in the same position Lucius was in when asking for my father's permission to court my hand," she explained mischievously, still the occasional laugh trailing between her words. "Sirius was raised a Black, irregardless of where he ended up in the four Hogwarts Houses and his alliances, and therefore, Draco must brave the Head of the Black family for your hand in bonding and marriage.”

Harry glanced at Draco, fighting back a smirk at the ashen skin and anxious expression. Sirius would chew him up and spit him out, and it said as much on his face. “Well, at least we still have a year or so before that little conversation,” he said cheerily, grinning widely. It took only a shared glance with Narcissa to bring him into laughing loudly, the humor of the situation not lost on him. Sirius was extremely protective of him, especially given the fact that he'd spent twelve years in Azkaban prison not knowing how Harry was, what his home-life was like and if he was safe. It wasn't likely that Draco would garner Sirius' trust, given the legendary hate for the Malfoy family, and the stories of Draco's and Harry's legendary spats over the five years they'd been at Hogwarts.

Draco would be hard-pressed to gain Sirius' acceptance of their bond, and Harry was looking forward to seeing just what Draco would do to win him over.

“Yes, well I think we can adjourn to the Great Hall for lunch,” Lucius muttered wryly, a pale shade to his skin and a suspicious lack of light in his eyes. Harry assumed it was remembrance of his proposing of a courtship between he and Narcissa with the past Head of Black.

Narcissa let out a giggle, slightly pink cheeked from her amusement. “Yes, it is time for lunch, dear,” she said, rising gracefully from her seat and gently flattening the creases from her sweeping skirts. “Draco, Harry, would you mind leading the way to the Great Hall? I believe Lucius needs a bit of a sit down before he engages any others in conversation. Bad memories, I'm sure you understand.”

Draco was quick to snag Harry's hand and pull him from his seat, almost dragging him from the Creatures Nest in an effort to get away from whatever Narcissa was about to do to comfort Lucius. Harry trailed after him with an amused grin, still cheery from the news that Draco would have to face Sirius to get his hand.

“Shut up, you,” Draco muttered, pink cheeked as he caught Harry's wide smirk.

“Didn't say anything,” Harry answered easily. He needn't have said anything, the words were as clear as day on his face.

Chapter Text

20. Tensions Arise

"You're certain that you wish for Professor Hagrid to collect the new arrivals, Harry? There's no trouble in accompanying our dear friend down to the station in the carriages, I'm sure he would appreciate the company," said Dumbledore calmly, if a little uncertainly. He was still slightly pink cheeked and chagrined from the earlier embarrassment of Molly and Minerva scolding him, but he seemed to have gained some confidence from sequestering himself away in the solace of his office for the few hours it took for lunch to pass by and for dinner to begin cooking in the kitchens. It still rankled the motherly instincts in Molly, Narcissa, and Minerva.

"Harry will stay," Draco said decisively, not looking away from the book leveled on his lap to the old wizard. It was an advanced Potions book Harry assumed Snape had given him, and looked well thumbed through, the pages in surprisingly fine condition and gently handled the longer Draco read it. He had sat down with it the moment Dumbledore had reentered the Great Hall and had his nose stuck to the pages in the most dignified position he could manage.

Harry glanced at the pages curiously, scanning the diagrams and moving pictures of complicated ingredient harvesting with interest. He felt, more than saw, Draco giving him an intense look. "What potion is this?" He asked, flushing slightly at the continued staring.

Draco smirked devilishly then, sharp fangs peaking out from under his top lip in his highly interested observation of Harry. Harry's flush darkened, as did his heavily lidded eyes, at the look. "It's the Draught of Endurance," Draco said lowly, a dangerous leer that set Harry's heart racing unevenly in his chest upon his features. "Not that we'll need it at any time in the future," he murmured quietly, only for Harry's ears.

"Harry?" Dumbledore prompted the blushing brunette gently, faintly chiding.

Harry inhaled deeply and looked away from his mate before he could be sucked into their heated depths. He looked at Dumbledore, unaware that he was glaring. "I won't go unless I need to," he said firmly. "Professor Hagrid has been escorting students safely from the station to the school for decades, he would surely be the more experienced and safe to travel with guide rather than me."

"I'm not saying that he is undeserving of such an honor, Harry," said Dumbledore in reply, frowning slightly. "I merely believe that the students would be safest with a Guardian being, and a well-known friend, escorting them from Hogsmeade Station. And as you are their friend, I wanted you to help them."

"It's not my job," Harry reiterated. 

Dumbledore hummed sadly, but acquiesced to their wishes with an inclination of his head. "If you would notify me if you change your mind, I would greatly appreciate it," he said, before slowly walking off to converse with the four Heads of Houses that were situated at the end of the long table.

A growl came from low in Draco's throat, and before Harry could even think about what he was doing, his hand was worming its way onto the blonde's lap and gripping one of the tensely coiled fists there. The fist loosened, softened, and eventually entwined their hands together. 

"Are you OK?" Harry asked quietly.

Draco nodded stiffly, the growl dying off in his throat as Harry's sweet scent rolled around him in waves. It took him a while to answer, and when he finally did, it didn't exactly reassure Harry that he was calm. "I'll be fine as long as you aren't used like a bloody servant or slave," he uttered, his fangs sliding completely out into view. "You deserve only the finest of things in life, and if anyone so much as tries to tell you otherwise, there will be Hell to pay."

A small, but genuine smile wormed its way onto Harry's generous red lips, and the look distracted Draco enough to lose sight of where his train of thought had been heading. Harry's smile turned a little sad, but didn't fade any. "That's the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me," he confided in a whisper. "Even if it did end in a threat and was spoken through fangs."

"It's not like I'm lying," Draco grumbled, going a little pink cheeked at Harry's soft look. "You mean a lot to me already, even if our bond is new and just beginning. I'm not going to let anyone order you around, especially people who demanded you save them from the Dark Lord when they themselves could've done something."

"You mean to say you won't let anyone order me around," Harry said in a lilting voice. "Does that include yourself?" He asked with a teasing grin.

Draco's eyes dilated and darkened to the color of coal, a very slight ring of bright silver edging the fathomless depths in the darkness. "I don't need to order you around to get what I want," he drawled, a sultry smile exposing those fangs as he ran his eyes up and down Harry's lithe body wantonly.

"Really?" Harry breathed, shuffling a little closer to the blonde. Draco stiffened, in more ways than one, Harry noticed. "You think I'll just bend over for you whenever you want me, let you take me? Let you bite me?"

Draco's breathing sped up, and Harry watched in barely concealed amusement as the blonde readied himself to pounce. Harry himself was feeling the effects of his own words, of wanting exactly what he had said to his mate. But they were in the Great Hall, in front of everyone they both cared for and didn't like. It was awkward, and stifling.

"Yes," said Draco hoarsely after a moment of panting silence, eyes staring unblinkingly into Harry's as if to silently command Harry to move closer. As if commanding Harry to give himself to Draco, body and mind. Harry felt naked underneath the gaze, heart bare for the blonde's perusal. He'd only ever felt that way around Draco.

Focus, idiot, Harry inwardly snapped at himself, Remus and anyone the least bit important to me really don't want to see Draco and myself having sex in the Great Hall, Harry chided himself. Outwardly, Harry swallowed heavily and shuffled away to a safe distance on the bench, a shaky smile sliding onto his lips when Draco tried to follow him with an obsessive glint in his eyes. "Well you better be patient, because I'm not likely to be doing that for many years yet," he said in a small voice, trying to sound cheerful and teasing, but sounding flat and shaky instead.

Harry hoped to God that no one had listened to them, it was embarrassing enough for them to have seen him so .. flustered. Especially with the looks Draco had been giving him, and the words they'd shared. But it was just as likely for everyone to have been watching them as the sun was sure to rise every day. Even then Harry could see Hermione's flushed cheeks and Ron's awkwardly averted stare. Not to mention the perked ears of every creature in the room. Blaise looked slightly winded and flushed.

Draco seemed to have gotten control over himself again, and the steel band of his Malfoy mask snapped back into place. He set to the task of closing his Potions book and neatly placing it on the table. "Yes, of course," he said, slightly strained. "But perhaps these things are better left to the confines of our bedchamber."

"You don't honestly believe that you'll be sleeping in the same bed now," burst Hermione incredulously, seeming to give up her pretense of ignoring them in favor of scolding them. Harry noted that her flush was still apparent. "You're both still underage, and hormone riddled teenagers. I can't believe you'd even think about that! Surely you'd want to be careful with Harry's unique abilities, because, quite frankly, we have no idea what changed in his body. He could have grown organs or lost them entirely. He could very well be able to conceive now!"

Ron gaped at Hermione for a moment, before turning to Harry in wide-eyed astonishment. He blinked owlishly, and seemed to suddenly see something in Harry that he hadn't noticed previously. "Harry," he said unsteadily, as if fearful. "That could be the reason why you have such a feminine figure. You could have little baby Harry's running around --"

"It's an entirely plausible theory," said Lucius, sounding polite and calm and every bit the aristocrat even when cutting Ron's unattractive gaping off at the root. "Which is why Draco and Harry will be sleeping in the same bed together from here on out."

Hermione glared at the cool elder Malfoy angrily. "I won't have my best friend becoming a mother while still in school," she declared, glancing protectively at the silent and stunned brunette. "I don't know how you run things in Malfoy Manor, Lord Malfoy, but here at Hogwarts we have things called common sense drilled into our heads, and what that allows us to grasp is called logic. The only way to keep Harry as pure as he is and without child is to keep Draco away from Harry's bed until we've graduated. If you have any semblance of respect for Harry, you will keep your son away from him," she seethed, her proud brown eyes narrowed into slits.

"Or are you so desperate to continue your line that you'll have your son impregnate his mate before they're ready?" She added in a poisonous voice.

Draco hissed.

Lucius stiffened with anger, his upper lip quivering very faintly. "You would do well to keep your thoughts to yourself, Miss Granger," he said in a very, very cool, stony voice. "You know not the affairs of my family and it would be best if you did not voice your so obviously biased opinions."

"When it comes to protecting Harry, my own family, I'll do everything I can to keep him safe," Hermione retorted hotly. "You trying to get him knocked up is just prodding a sleeping dragon."

"He is a part of my family now," said Lucius icily, his eyes as hard as marble. "But it is hardly my choice if they should decide to have their own children. I cannot decide for them when they should become parents, and I will not force my opinions onto them."

Hermione reared back as if struck, her hand actually flying to rest on her cheek. "Are you implying that I'm forcing my opinions on them?" She asked shrilly, aghast.

Lucius offered a stiff, bone-chilling smile that prodded shivers up and down the spines of those nearest. Narcissa seemed unaffected by it, however, and was instead staring holes into Hermione's face. "Draco has told me all about you, Miss Granger," Lucius drawled. "How stubborn, narrow-minded, shrewd, peremptory and completely and utterly insolent you are. You bring your notions of proper etiquette from a world of the mundane and Muggle and expect the thousands of years of Wizarding traditions to bow down before you, to be replaced with your Muggle expectations. You call us bigoted, racist and cowardly, but we have been this way for thousands of years, and will continue to be so for many more."

Hermione blazed a bright red, her cheeks flushing a such a vibrant maroon color that put shame to the Weasley's' red hair, but she didn't back down from the derogatory and condescending sneer from Lucius. "If you keep to those traditions we'll all die out!" She said fiercely, looking around her with burning brown eyes. "Adopting the modern traditions is the only way to keep witches and wizards from becoming extinct, we must adapt or die. If we took in what the Muggles have then we can prosper more than we ever have in the past, if only you'd look past your wine glasses and grand Ministry functions."

"We cannot integrate the Muggle ways with our own, Miss Granger," said Marianna seriously, but not unkindly. Even if she did wrinkle her nose when she decided to speak to Hermione. "If we did, our culture would almost immediately die out and be forgotten. Many of our more important traditions have already faded through time because our population has an excess in Muggleborn witches and wizards that brought their own more favorable pastimes."

"But don't you see?" Hermione asked, as if she couldn't believe that they didn't understand. "Maybe these traditions should be forgotten. I've read almost every book I could get my hands on in the library on Wizarding culture and every single tradition always had some sort of slur against Muggles and Muggleborns. I and others are still glared at from time to time and looked at like scum because we come from a world they don't understand! If we showed them what it's like living in the Muggle world, then perhaps --"

"It would never work," Narcissa said stiffly, cutting Hermione off with a swift gesture of her hand. "There is an unfathomable abyss between the Muggle world, and our own, and it should make you wonder just why it is there. Our worlds are not meant to be bridged. Muggles are not to know of our existence, for the plain reason that we cannot allow them to. The last time we were found out, brought about the time of the Witchcraft trials and the burning of our people. 

"Can you really tell me that the Muggle world has sophisticated and civilized itself enough to allow us to live in harmony? To live in a world where select people have magic, and others do not and therefore create a divide in the people? Can you tell me that we would not be hunted down and exterminated like rodents, just because we have an innate magical core that allows us to do the impossible?" 

Hermione stared at Narcissa, for once, out of her own depth for an argument. She sat down in her seat slowly, as if suddenly realizing that she was standing.

Narcissa nodded abruptly. "I thought not," she said curtly, before turning to run her hand over her husband's tensed arm comfortingly.

Hermione still looked close to tears, but she was quiet and pensive, soaking up the reasoning behind Narcissa's argument like a sponge. She was trying to process the idea that maybe she was slightly wrong in the aspect of joining the Muggle and Wizarding worlds. After all, Muggles did try and burn the witches and wizards they discovered, and some of their own that didn't actually practice witchcraft. Perhaps the Muggle world wasn't ready for them, at least not the decade and time, but it would be some day in the future, and she was hoping that with the future, comes a great change in the Muggle world that would force them to allow the strange and new.

She hoped that she would be a part of deciding the integration of Muggle and Magic.

Seeing Narcissa tending to her tense husband, Harry quietly turned to Draco, surveying the damage Hermione had done. He winced. Draco was tensed and practically bulging with anger, looking so angry that steam ought to be pouring out of his ears and his eyes leaving trails of fire in their wake.

Harry scooted closer to Draco and slowly placed a hand on the blonde's hand, giving Draco time to pull away if he was so angry. But when he didn't move, Harry gently began prying the stiff fingers from their fist, lifting them slightly to give him room to slide his fingers own in their spaces. He decided, rather belatedly, to move right up against Draco's side.

After a tense moment where nothing happened to change Draco's posture, and Harry began to have doubts, Draco began to relax and slowly disentangle his hand from Harry's. It surprised Harry when instead of being pushed away, the arm was instead pushing the thick, silky weight over his left shoulder and then settling around his waist. A deep purr reverberated from Harry's chest as Draco's large hand played with the thick, slightly waved raven locks, the tingles spreading all over Harry's scalp as if Draco was rubbing his head instead.

They both sank into each other, finally contented. 

Until the very same feeling Harry had had when the werewolves attacked, came back in full throttle. His wings sprung from his back, dislodging Draco's arm without hurting him, and his mind was slammed into that odd aura-seeing perspective. The train had pulled into Hogsmeade, and Hagrid was trying his damnedest to ward off the werewolves darting at him. 

Harry hissed deeply in anger, unaware of the distinctly ancient sibilant tongue he possessed spilling forth words unheard for thousands and thousands of years. He jumped back from the table, almost taking Draco with him, and headed for the doors, anger and fierce determination causing his green, green eyes to glow vibrantly. 

"Don't kill them, Potter," said a soft voice.

"Can't promise," Harry replied, his voice slightly distorted with the growls humming in his throat as he slipped out of the hall, and out of sight.

Harry made quick work of the track from Hogwarts to Hogsmeade, his wings pumping furiously and propelling him much faster than any old Firebolt or broom ever could. He'd unfortunately lost his shirt to his wings, which had torn the back of the fabric so fiercely that the cloth was no match for clinging to his chest and arms, but he was unaware of the nippy air. He could hear everything; the screams, snarls and howls, the shrieking of metal tearing from claws. He could also smell blood. 

With a high pitched whistling sound from his sharp wings slicing the air, the large pack of wolves scattered from the half-closed and dreadfully torn door of the train. They had been furiously tearing at the door with their teeth and claws to get in, and the blood that Harry could smell was coming from inside. Angered, the wolves whirled to face him, their muzzles stretched back over numerous sharp teeth that gleamed brightly against their varying dark furs. They ignored the small shriek that came from inside the train, and instead prowled closer to the gliding Valerian that was lowering the closer he came. 

Harry landed gracefully before them, dropping immediately into an offensive crouch, his blade-sharp wings arched high over his head and ready to slash down. He was ready when the three large wolves barreled towards him, and he brought his wings down to their leg level, striking out straight and severing their legs off at the joint. They landed with sickening thumps at Harry's feet, their teeth still snapping at him to grab some sort of purchase of skin, but with an impressive sweep of his enormous wings they were scattered and thrown into the walls enclosed around the platform. They fell heavy, bloody and unconscious.

Another three wolves converged on him when they perceived that he was distracted, but this time they had seen what Harry had done to the others, and had leaped instead of run at him. It mattered not to Harry, as with a sharp swing of his head, his hair whipped out and slashed ribbons off all three wolves, blood spattering the side of the train in a shade slightly lighter than the paint. He extended his wings and with expert precision he sliced legs from joints and once again swept them to the walls all while they were still in the air. In a repetition of the previous three wolves, they fell heavily onto the stone, blood-spattered and unconscious. 

There was a sudden wall of enraged howling, a cacophony that ached and blotted out the hearing that he needed. It echoed dully in his head. Harry roared at them to shut up, his voice overpowering theirs combined with his anger, and he struck out at those remaining, whipping legs out from under more wolves, even as they leaped in the air to avoid the sharp wings. His ears were ringing by the time they fell unconscious to the floor, and not so dully, Harry wondered how he seemed to always come out on top of a fight with numerous werewolves.

It was random, and slightly distracting, but Harry couldn't help it. 

How had he gotten away with rendering many werewolves unconscious and maimed without himself being harmed? Was it his Valerian nature to be indestructible? Or was it good fortune?

Deciding that perhaps this wasn't the time, Harry scanned the surrounding area for any other wolves that may emerge and try to attack. When nothing was revealed, Harry straightened from the crouch and stalked to the door barely hanging onto its hinges. He gave it a sharp rap with his knuckles and stepped back. 

"Who's there?" Asked a deep, growling, pained voice. Hagrid.

"It's Harry," Harry answered throatily, a slight semblance of a growl still in his voice. "I've dispatched the werewolves, but you'll need to be cautious, they may wake at any time. Though they may not be able to move far."

"Harry doesn't talk like tha'," Hagrid said suspiciously. A pair of narrowed black eyes surrounded by the brown fuzz of a beard appeared in the sliver of space in the door. They widened when they caught sight of Harry. "Blimey . . . yer covered in blood!"

Harry nodded, glancing around at the unconscious wolves suspiciously. They hadn't moved yet, but he was sure that they would soon. "We'll need to hurry," he told Hagrid. "I don't know how long it takes for a werewolf to gain consciousness again, and we really need to get back to the safety of the castle."

Hagrid nodded, before he disappeared from the crack in the doorway to go to where Harry assumed the girls and their families were. He reappeared a full minute later, and carefully pulled the shrieking metal door open to allow them an exit. He had to basically shove himself through the tiny doorway, and Harry marveled at how such a large man as Hagrid could even get in. His question was answered by the extra shoving on the other side, and Hagrid fell out with a painfully loud thump. 

Hagrid was the source of the bleeding. 

"You've been bitten," Harry observed quietly, moving to help lift Hagrid from the floor. 

The half-giant appreciated it his effort, and thanked him with a grunt. "Jus' my leg," he said, gesturing to his right leg. "Better tha' than the girls, ay?"

Harry nodded carefully, trying to keep Hagrid balanced on the heavily bleeding leg. It had been torn into savagely, tendons and muscle hanging off by skin and veins. Harry slapped a hand onto the knee above the injury, shocking and stupefying Hagrid when a tourniquet appeared out of no-where and wrapped securely above the wound, and a thick layer of medical gauze and material dressed the wound to keep it together. It would stop the blood flow, but they needed to hurry to Hogwarts. It was a messy, messy wound that would take weeks to heal. Harry was sure he had seen the bone. 

"Think you can reach the carriages, Hagrid?" Harry asked, carefully letting the half-giant go to walk on his own. 

Hagrid waved him away, a thankful but slightly pained smile buried underneath the handfuls of hair on his chin and cheeks. "I'll be fine, Harry," he reassured the teen. "I'll get them to the carriages. Yeh needin' any help with the dogs?"

Harry shook his head, ignoring how his hair slivered over his back and left trails of blood sliding down his skin. It would be another long night in the bathroom scrubbing his wings. "I'll dump them someplace secure and follow the carriages up to the school," he told Hagrid. "You just get them there and all will be well." 

Hagrid nodded as if Harry had said something profound and important and hobbled away, shuffling the large group of witches and wizards all gagging and pale at the horrendous sight around them. He sidled up to who he guessed was Pansy Parkinson -he knew her by her bobbed black hair-, she was pale and horrified, her eyes fixed on the bloody wolves and the legs lying in puddles a little ways away. She hadn't moved to join her parents.

"Don't look at them," Harry told her quietly, calmly, reaching out a hand to gently push at her shoulder. 

Pansy looked at him and shuddered, her eyes widening at the wild state he was in. She took in the large, black wings, the markings on his arms that were covered in blood, and the caring protectiveness in his face. Tears welled up in her eyes, unbidden, and Harry was suddenly cradling her, wrapping his arms carefully around her. 

"It's s- so horrible!" She cried, clutching at his upper arms, and burying her face into his neck. Harry was surprised to note that he was a few inches taller than her, but no less pleased for this instance.

"I know," Harry said, sighing, feeling liquid fall down his neck. She was crying. "But you need to ignore them for the moment and join the others, because these wolves aren't dead. They're unconscious and they could wake up at any time."

Pansy didn't seem to hear him, and was instead pulling him closer. Her hands ran down his arms gently, almost tickling him, and came to wind around his small waist. Harry jerked back when he felt Pansy nuzzle into his neck, her breath coming out in a hot whoosh over his skin. He growled low in his throat, warning her not to do anything without words. If she wanted to keep her head where it was, connected to her neck, that is, she'd take the warning to heart.

But no such luck.

"You smell . . . good," she whispered, her voice husky and throaty. Harry snarled loudly this time, and snapped his hands around to where her hands were fondling his bum, ripping them from their purchase. She whined, pulling at his hands to let her wrists go. "Please, let me feel you, let me taste you. You're incredible," she simpered.

Harry pushed her away, as gently as he could afford in such an unbalanced state of lucidity and red hot anger. "I have a mate," he growled at her, voice distorting into that odd tone once more. "Now go to the carriages, they'll be waking very soon. And they'll be very angry," he said darkly, gesturing to the wolves with a blood-soaked hand.

Pansy whimpered at the mention of the werewolves, and hastened to obey, dashing off in the direction Harry had seen Hagrid and the group of panicked people lumber off to. That included Pansy's own parents, both of whom hadn't even noticed her absence from their sides.

And that left Harry and the ten, bloodied and unconscious werewolves in the still and silent night that enveloped Hogsmeade station. 

-oOoOoOoOo-

Harry ended up stashing the werewolves in a large conjured sack and dragging them behind him after all, their severed legs and unconscious bodies all stuffed in securely and painfully, and the opening knotted tightly closed. It was one of those heavily complicated knots that left you cutting a bag or sack open out of desperation to get it open. He'd banished as much of the blood from the platform floor as possible, also ridding the Hogwarts Express of the terrible spatters of blood that he'd had no clue of how they'd ended up there in the first place. He had tried his luck at fixing the door as well, and was more than relieved when it had mostly mended and slid easily back into place. Though the paint was a bit scratched up.

He'd been so very glad that no one had witnessed the slaughter. It would have been unbearable to try and explain why a winged Harry Potter had been slicing through the werewolves like they were butter.

In order to actually get to Hagrid and the others, Harry had to run his way in the direction of the trail that was used by the carriages, his wings not having the strength yet to carry himself and ten werewolves in a heavy sack that amounted to dead weight. But he was still fast on his feet. Not that he was very caring if the heavy impenetrable sack bounced off the floor or trees as he went, most likely concussing the wolves even more.

"There's Harry!" Hagrid's booming voice called out from the head of the line, sounding mightily relieved, but heavily exhausted.

Harry slowed down his pace when he spotted the slow moving carriages and the trail they were on, and he had no idea the sight he made to the onlookers as he walked alongside them, slowly making his way up the line to where he saw Hagrid's head sticking out of the first carriage. His creamy skin looked practically white compared to the bright red blood splashed all over his body, covering parts of his shoulders, chest, arms and mostly soaking his long, sweeping dark hair and his tall, imposing, translucent, midnight colored wings. His torso was bare to the nippy air, having lost his shirt to his wings, and his fitted jeans were patched with discoloration from the blood that spattered them. He'd somehow even lost his shoes.

Not that it mattered any to Harry, as they had been rather uncomfortable and posh-looking.

Obviously Draco had picked them out for him.

"You got 'em all in that?" Hagrid asked warily, eyeing the large sack dragging noisily on the ground behind the little Valerian. "I thought ya were stashing 'em somewhere and getting them later."

Harry's lips twisted up into a smile, revealing two large, long and pointed pearly teeth that unknowingly scared the others. "I couldn't find anywhere secure for them to be put, so I thought conjuring a sack and bringing them with us would be best," he said to the lolling heavy head that was slowly nodding and moving back into his carriage. 

He heard a dozed mutter of acceptance come out from Hagrid's carriage, before the man was silent.

A head of long blonde hair suddenly appeared out of one of the carriages windows, and a beautiful pale face belonging to Daphne Greengrass, peered at him curiously. And a little bit incredulously. "You're going to attract the other werewolves' attention by dragging them around with us!" She screeched, her eyes that always used to be narrowed in a sneer, were wide and fearful. "You'll kill us all!"

Harry regarded her coolly. "If anything, I'm attracting their attention because I killed at least twenty of them in the span of a week," he said bluntly, hardly caring to inwardly point out that he was rounding up the count. "If they want to attack, they'll have to go through me, and that isn't a very easy thing to do. I've yet to be beaten by an enemy."

"What the Hell are you?"  She asked, sounding faintly horrified and fascinated. 

Harry gave her a level look. "I'm a Valerian," he told her, before stalking up further than the carriage where she and her parents were situated, and up to Hagrid's carriage, which was still silent.

"Don' listen to her, 'Arry," Hagrid told him faintly when he arrived beside the window, an unhealthy white shine to his huge sweating face. He clumsily swiped a large hand over his forehead. "Is m' face bleedin'? Feels li'e it."

Harry inwardly snarled at himself, angry for letting Hagrid get to the state of blood-loss that he was in. What kind of a friend was he? 

"Hold on, Hagrid, I'll get you to the castle," he told the half-giant quickly, before trying to scrape together a plan in his still only half lucid mind.

Hurrying to the back of Hagrid's carriage with the sack of wolves dragging behind him, Harry conjured a strong and long length of rope and tied half of it securely to the stretch of fabric just below the knotted opening of the sack, and then tied the other end of the rope to the back of Hagrid's carriage. He waited to see if the rope would hold as the Thestral pulled along Hagrid and the sack, before nodding. He had to scare the Threstrals to get them going, it was a stab in the dark at getting the Thestrals to move faster than their meandering pace. He was unsure whether Thestrals could be scared into running like normal horses, but he hoped they would. He didn't know if Hagrid would make it if they continued their pace.

Harry returned to the side of Hagrid's carriage, and spun on his heels to look back at the others trailing behind. "Hold on to each other!" He shouted, and gave only a few seconds warning to the people in the carriages, before suddenly launching himself into the air and letting loose a terrifying, ear-splitting roar that had the light smattering of night animals scattering from their nests and homes in fright and the fabric of the carriages quaking from the ferocity and the powerful gust of wind from his wings.

As if several people had smacked a hand on their hindquarters, the Thestral's suddenly shot off in the direction of the castle at a fast run, shrieks tearing from their throats in a blind panic as Harry flew overhead, their sensitized ears hearing his wings beating strongly against the wind. The Thestral lugging Hagrid and the ten werewolves' weights was slowing slightly, slowly losing energy, and Harry ducked down to cast a quick lightening charm on the sack of werewolves -once again angry with himself for not having done so before-, also applying one to its carriage. It managed to run faster after that.

"What the fuck's going on out there?!" Harry heard someone shriek from one of the carriages, and realized after a moment that it was a distressed Pansy Parkinson.

Oh, so she'd made it back to them in the end, he thought blisteringly.

Harry lowered himself closer to the ground carefully until he was flying by her carriage, and he grinned in at the unnerved Vampires anchoring themselves to the walls of the bouncing carriage. It really looked quite turbulent compared to his own easy flying. "Having fun?" He asked them with a devilish smirk. 

Pansy gaped at him with an undignified squawk. "What the bloody Hell is going on?!" She yelled.

"Hagrid's lost too much blood to be safe, I had to get him to Hogwarts as quickly as I could," he informed her, before grinning, saying, "Enjoy the ride!" and taking off back up into the air. 

The carriages made it to Hogwarts' grounds in record timing, and Harry speared through the air to position himself high above them for an air attack.

Just in case the werewolves got through Flitwick's wards and wanted to take revenge for their fallen. Harry hadn't been particularly discreet when handling the wolves.

"Madam Pomfrey!" Harry bellowed out, landing a little roughly beside Hagrid's carriage after a solid moment of surveying the grounds. It hadn't seemed like Greyback would send another handful of Weres, even when Harry had made sure to paint the forest floor with the fallen werewolves' blood.

It was a big 'Fuck You' sign in neon red flashing lights.

After moment of silence, he finally heard a stampede of feet rush out from the Entrance hall and down the stone steps, and he looked away from his large, pale and sweating friend to see every single person who had been in the Great Hall previously, assembled warily before the parked carriages. Even the previously missing Ernie was there, though he didn't seem like any help at all, as he merely stumbled in shock at the sight of Hagrid and himself and seemed ready to keel over.

"Narcissa!" A heavily made up  woman cried desperately, darting forth from her carriage in a blur of silver and black to throw herself at the tall, elegant and serious blonde woman stood poised next to her husband and son. Narcissa had barely caught the plump brunette by the tips of her fingers before she was screaming again. "It was utterly horrible! Those damned dirty mongrels attacked us while we were getting off the train, took us completely by surprise, and one bit that great lumbering oaf Groundskeeper, Habridge or something - left such a ghastly wound on his leg! And then Potter, of all things, swooped in and killed them all! Blood was everywhere - everywhere I tell you!"

"Calm yourself and straighten up!" Narcissa snapped at the hysterical woman, pushing the her away by her shoulders. "You have a respectable reputation to uphold, Penelope. And that boy you called a thing, is my soon to be son-in-law."

Penelope gasped, appalled, a small and thick hand flying up to cover her heavily rouge painted lips. She stumbled back from Narcissa in dumbfounded shock. "That thing surely can't be!" She denied vehemently. "I am absolutely certain that my Pansy is your Draco's mate, the foundation for their mateship has been there for many years! I would know it!"

"It seems that you know very little of anything other than fantasies, Penelope," said Narcissa stiffly, her pale painted lips stretched thin and disapprovingly. "My son and Harry are soulmates, and you would do well to remember that Draco is extremely possessive over what belongs to him. Should you attack Harry in any way, it will be your head that he goes for."

"You dare threaten me?!" Squawked Penelope, hand flying to the top of her ample bosom. She wore the most comical expression of incredulity and anger. "You yourself would do well to remember just whom you're dealing with!"

Lucius turned sharp, piercing eyes on the tiny obnoxious woman, and even Harry felt like he was about two inches tall. "Do not forget your place, Penelope," he drawled in a slow, dangerous voice. 

Harry shot a glance at Lord Parkinson, waiting to see if the wizard would do anything in retaliation for Lucius' subtextual threat. The tall, reedy Lord Parkinson was grimacing, his shoulders bunched up around his ears as if to protect himself from hearing anything that the imposing Lucius Malfoy said. It looked like something disgusting and gooey had been lobbed at his face, the slightly brown skin tinged with a sick green. Harry wasn't to know, but it was a test for the Lord Parkinson.

Penelope cowered under the stare, and stepped back in deference, bowing her head in chagrined silence. Pansy was staring at her mother with curiously shuttered eyes from her place by the carriage they arrived in, her hand being the only sign of her inner turmoil as it clutched at the door. 

"He needs to be taken to the Hospital Wing immediately," said Poppy, breaking the silent night air with her voice shadowed by worry. She was hovering over Hagrid's revealed mangled leg with a look of concentration on her stern face as she weaved spells into the shredded tendons and flesh to keep it all together. Blood spurted out from a torn vein every second or so, turning the faces of those who were stood too close pale and green. "Ripped to pieces and losing too much blood too quickly," she tutted, lifting Hagrid from his carriage with a softly uttered spell and hurrying up the steps to the Entrance Hall. When the stern witch and her charge had disappeared from view, the air around them seemed a lot more heavy.

"What happened when you arrived at Hogsmeade?" Dumbledore asked Harry, seeming to snap to attention now that his hurting faithful friend was no longer in his presence. Many others snapped their gazes to the bloody Valerian that looked much like an avenging angel, his shoulders squared and almost defiant. "Did the wolves abandon their attempts to get to the students and guests and flee?" He asked.

"Not quite," Harry answered darkly, crooking a finger at the full, conjured sack still attached to the carriage Hagrid had been in. The rope disappeared, and a tendril of magic hooked to the sack and forcefully drug it to his feet, sickly squelching and whimpering sounds filtering unhindered through the impenetrable fabric. There were a few gags at the sight and sound, and many of the new guests turned their backs to the sack. "They're weak and they've lost a lot of blood, but they're still alive. However faintly," he informed them.

"They're also missing their legs," Pansy added faintly, haunted.

Harry nodded in agreement and turned to Snape. "You may want to take them to the dungeons before they wake, they've been unconscious for an hour and they will be waking soon," he said. "I don't know if many are alive still, but originally there were ten of them."

Snape nodded briskly and marched forward to claim the sack, his thin upper lip curled in disgust as another weak sound broke from the pile. Harry kicked it mercilessly, his face morphing into an animalistic mask of rage, before going forcefully calm and tranquil. Though, however brief the look of utter malevolence was, it continued to chill the bones of those present. 

Snape didn't seem to notice Harry's small moment of animalistic anger, or if he had, he didn't consciously react to it. Instead he uttered the same charm Madam Pomfrey had used on the sack, and swept into the welcoming Entrance Hall in a flair of black robes, disappearing down the hallway leading to the dungeons eventually. 

"You aren't hurt, are you?" Draco asked Harry quietly, his warm breath blowing softly on the shell of his ear. The blonde was careful not to touch the blood on Harry's skin, unwilling to touch something that belonged to the enemy, but he leaned in close.

Harry shook his head minutely, breathing in Draco's spicy scent through the thick tang of blood. "No, I just need a really long shower," he said softly. 

"You don't want anything for supper?" Draco asked, gently nuzzling a clean cheek with his nose. 

Harry so desperately wanted to reach out and wrap his arms around his mate, to take in Draco and roll himself in the spicy scent that said 'Home', but with the way he was caked in blood and almost swaying on his feet, all he needed was a shower and some sleep. Fuck food, he thought tiredly, I just want to get clean. "I'm not really in the mood for something to eat," he admitted quietly, glancing down at his body with a grimace. "I just want to get clean and go to bed."

Draco nodded minimally, continuing to nuzzle Harry's cheek with his nose so as to have some touch with his mate. "I'll join you," he said. "I could go for a nice hot shower."

Harry felt the beginnings of a smile start in the corners of his lips. "You just want to see me naked again," he deadpanned.

Draco smirked down at him devilishly, stepping back pointedly. "You bet your sweet arse I do," he drawled. "Now, shall we use the Prefects bathroom, or our own?"

Chapter Text

21. 

The dungeons underneath the Slytherin quarters certainly weren't a place for the young and naive, but it was the place to be if you wanted to find out why Werewolves were constantly reigning attacks on the Hogwarts populace and guests. Harry had been there once already to torture out the information from reluctant lips, and he had eventually managed to weasel out at least a small portion of information from one of them.

And it incidentally seemed that he might have to do it again.

"You want him to what?" Draco asked, for what felt like the fifth time in the span of two minutes, his face a mask of cold only a shade up from frozen and his slate grey eyes alight with something akin to a magnificent fiery rage.

It was strange for Harry to think that Draco looked equal parts the Ice Queen Narcissa found herself presenting when angered, and the ready to erupt volcano that was Lucius Malfoy, but the heady mixture of both Black and Malfoy in Draco was something not to be messed with, and it seemed to be the calm before the storm. It gave Harry the slight poke of a memory that showed itself to be an expression he'd seen many times on the blonde's face when fighting him, only when he looked at Draco now, he could see that the expression in the past had been a trifle diluted. 

Maybe it was just Dumbledore that had the effect on Draco to piss him off, even if Harry had been able to get so far under the blonde's skin he was poking bones.

Speaking of anger, Harry himself was annoyed, but it wasn't just Dumbledore that irked him. Lucius and Narcissa themselves had boxed him in between them on the settee he and Draco had rested on just before Dumbledore had made an appearance, and each had a hand on Harry's forearms as if barricading him in. The effect was not lost on those in the Nest, and there were a few anxious looks thrown his way every so often. Hermione and Ron seemed to understand that it wasn't just from Dumbledore intruding on his peacetime activities, either.

Dumbledore observed Draco with the calm grace he usually affected when speaking with a recalcitrant child, though the matching smile was nowhere to be seen on his wizened, old face. "The Werewolves in the dungeons will not rise to Severus' baiting, Mr Malfoy," he said in a particularly solemn voice. "It has been requested that Harry join the council in the dungeons to pry the information from their reluctant minds, as it seems to be that they are highly susceptible to Harry's own form of questioning, rather than our own. The means are neither here, nor there, but we must get their knowledge of what is to come, regardless."

"You want Potter to interrogate the wolves he previously slaughtered?" A horrified Pansy Parkinson asked, paler than ever and no less shocked at the turn of events. "Why him? Why can't Professor Snape handle this? Potter's just a student like us! If you can command him to do such an atrocity as that, what could you possibly make the rest of us do?"

"He has done it before, Miss Parkinson," Dumbledore informed her, rather blandly, an absent smile snaking its way onto his face. He turned to face the more involved of the guests and students. "I do not mean to speak out of turn or harry anyone into any hasty decisions, but I believe, as do the others in the chamber, that our Harry is the key to unlocking the secrets of the Werewolves' plans for the future of the Wizarding world. With just a little persuasion and a dab of elbow grease, I believe that he will be able to succeed where others seem to fail and prevent another war from beginning."

"At the cost of Harry having more sleepless nights tossing and turning and writhing in pain and guilt," Draco snapped at the older wizard, stalking forward with a deadly grace to stand before his parents and mate protectively. Not that he had gone too far from Harry's side in the first place. "I won't have him upset by the sight of their mangled corpses, Professor. It's nothing that Harry of any one of us should be involved in! There are other means to getting the enemies plans, and I don't -- cannot understand why you should always choose the most difficult paths!"

A rather sad, old smile formed on the thin lips that were sheltered by a large, crooked nose - which had obviously been broken at a time in his youth, and an air of absolute despair shrouded the thin frame of Albus Dumbledore. The Headmaster made for a sorry sight in that moment, and Harry felt a lump –not unlike pity and horror– begin to form in his throat. It was a bitter sensation.

"Harry is unlike any other student that has passed through these walls in the many years I have served as a Professor and Headmaster. He has endured more pain and danger than many adult wizards and witches could ever claim to have experienced, and has taken it to hand with amazing feats of aplomb. But I believe that the pain and suffering is only beginning," said Dumbledore, quietly and seriously, his voice bleeding with importance in the silent common room and his untwinkling blue eyes sweeping along those seated and standing. "I realize that you may think that I mean to put Harry in harms way for the sake of others, but that is most definitely not the case. I wish for Harry to have a long, very happy life with a family and children of his own. But I cannot, in good conscience, allow him to create that family in the midst of such terrible danger."

"It's not up to you to decide when Harry and I Bond and have children, Headmaster," said Draco, a trace of a growl in his voice. "Granted that this is the castle you reside in as Master," he sneered, spine straight and rigid. "However, I am inclined to agree with your logic that we should wait a little longer to cement our mateship. Settling down now will only make us targets among enemies, especially so soon after the Dark Lord's fall and with his inner circle members still running loose and unchecked. We will only set ourselves up for death."

"Thus our need for Harry's apparent expertise in getting our rather detained friends to talk," said Dumbledore swiftly, nodding. "None of us like it, but Harry is our most prized and powerful asset against any Dark wizards and witches that threaten our livelihoods. There is threat of another war growing on all of our doorsteps, and it is Harry who shall once again prevail over the darkness. Of that, I am certain."

Harry waited -rather impatiently- for his chance to put in his opinion, all the while glaring at the broad back of one slowly relenting Draco Malfoy. He hadn't meant to be pushed into a seat of silence, where his choices were obviously limited to speaking out and contradicting Draco's word and therefore creating anger, or sitting silently as his future was decided for him by others, but a sliver of self-preservation and loyalty to Draco had made itself known in him right from the beginning when Dumbledore had entered their Common Room, and he had let Draco have free reign over their lives.

But he was not one to be bossed around - or underestimated, for any number of reasons. Nor was he dependent on others to make his own decisions. He never had been, and he never would be.

Gently, so as not to offend the two elder Malfoys, Harry extricated himself from Narcissa's and Lucius's grips, and rose from his seat. He watched as Draco seemed to tense slightly, as if getting ready for an attack, and as he stepped up beside the blonde, he allowed a soft hand to trail over the broad and muscled shoulders that were so strictly held tight and bunched. They sagged slightly under his touch.

"I will do this, if only because I want everyone safe," Harry stated, looking steadily at the unsurprised, but nonetheless proud, elderly wizard. He staunchly ignored the odd noise that came from Draco. "But I'm not the most powerful wizard here, I wasn't the only one to defeat Voldemort and the Death Eaters at the Ministry. Power isn't everything if it's used incorrectly."

"Well said, my boy," said Dumbledore, tilting his lips up in a soft smile that seemed untouched by surprise at his declaration. It wouldn't be far from the truth to say he had expected it. "But perhaps you wouldn't mind terribly if we proceeded to the dungeons immediately? The others wish to wash their hands of this dreadful situation once and for all. I suggest whomever wishes to accompany you rise now and step forth, there is no time to waste."

Harry nodded stiffly, stepping in front of Draco instead of being by his side. A large, warm hand pressed softly into the small of his back and moved in a small soothing circle, but he couldn't muster up any ounce of happiness or a shred of a smile for Draco.

"Same chambers?" He asked tersely.

Dumbledore hummed thoughtfully. "Oh, just the one chamber this time, Harry," he said grimly. "I figured that such a display of interrogative methods would rouse shock in those whom dared defy us into speaking, or, loosening their tongues, so to speak. Professors' Snape, McGonagall and Flitwick approved of the move and have modified the chamber appropriately to extend space for the ten Werewolves you've captured."

It was more that they wanted Harry to scare them into talking by forcing them to witness their friends' untimely demises, and it was obvious that Dumbledore expected there to be a few casualties among the wolves' ranks before someone did. Harry was going to have to get dirty again, and perhaps even more sinister in the chamber than the last time he'd been down there. The previous wolves had most likely cracked after hearing each other scream in such pain, but if they watched each other be tortured -for that was what it was, not interrogating- they would break much faster. Or so Harry hoped; he didn't want to be a murderer all his life, though that would undoubtedly be his title should things stay the same.

"Naturally, I'm coming with you," Draco said, after a minute of silence where some looked enquiringly at each other. He looked down at Harry with such an tense look upon his face, one that brought shivers and shudders writhing through his body, that belied his haughty words and revealed the concern underneath the exterior. "If you feel you should be the one to 'interrogate' these wolves, then I shall be by your side."

"It's not going to be pleasant," Harry warned him, frowning as he noticed Ron, Hermione, Tonks, Fred and George, and most of the Weasley clan step forward out of the corner of his eye. "There's going to be a lot of screaming and blood, and I'm not going to be in my right mind. It's not going to be a pretty sight."

"What do you do to them?" A very serious and rigid girl asked.

She was another Vampire, as far as Harry could tell, and she had long toffee colored hair that flowed around her pale face like rivers, and eyes that looked almost like Remus' when his Werewolf rose to the surface; amber-like, almost a warm caramel color. Vaguely, he remembered Hermione telling him about a half-blood in the Slytherin House, Tracey Davis, and had described her as a strict and stern girl with hair that was always worn loose around her face and in waves and eyes such a color as they were then. It must be her.

"He tears them apart," Ron answered her, hearing the question even from the other side of the room. "It's a total bloodbath, to be sure. We heard it all when he went in the other night, and when he came out - Merlin, the cells were practically caked in blood and guts. He was too of course, but it was his wings mainly. I don't think you'd want to go down there, Davis, 's not for girls to see."

Tracey gave Harry what he thought was a considering glance, her amber eyes scouring his body as if he was still covered in blood then and there, and was a particularly hard puzzle to solve. Surprisingly, she seemed quite impressed. "Perhaps I was wrong about you, Potter," she mused, obviously ignoring what Ron had said about the 'blood and guts' part. "Perhaps you can be redeemed, after all."

Harry blinked, blind-sided by the sudden familiarity of a certain dreamy Ravenclaw. "'Redeemed'?" He questioned skeptically.

Tracey nodded absently, looking up at her stoic mother with her amber eyes alight with something indecipherable. "He does have the potential, doesn't he, mother?"

Mrs Davis eyed Harry with near warm caramel eyes, a shade or two off her daughter's. Harry supposed that she was the witch in the Davis family, since Mr Davis was nowhere to be found and Tracey was a half-blood like him -though, Mr Davis could be a Muggleborn like Lily Potter was-. "I suppose he does, Tracey," she murmured softly, her voice a pleasant drone amidst the mumbling and nattering going on around them. "Have you Seen something of late that concerns him, darling?"

Tracey merely smiled mysteriously up at her mother, something that niggled at Harry's brain. "Of course. It is Harry Potter, after all," she said, obviously amused. "Destiny loves to entwine itself with him, as does Fate. I would be surprised if nothing the least bit dangerous happened to him at all."

"What are you saying?" Harry asked, wary of the odd conversation going on between Mrs Davis and Tracey. It wasn't unlike Luna's odd way of speaking, but it had the feel of something very important to it, like he should be worried, or at the least bit concerned.

"You'll see," Tracey said, still smiling that mysterious smile that made odd things twist around in his stomach. Nerves, most likely. "The Werewolves know something, and the Headmaster is correct in thinking that you are the key to unlocking it. Everything revolves around you," she said, not a hint of malice or anger in her voice. "But you will do best to keep in mind that not everything is a bad thing. Trust your instincts, Potter. They'll never lead you astray."

Harry stared at the girl for one long, ponderous moment. "You wouldn't happen to be a Seer, would you?" He asked, getting the sense of foreboding.

An absent smile appeared on the girl's generous lips. "You wouldn't happen to have a problem with that, would you, Potter?"

"Just don't go predicting my untimely demise, and we're clear."

-oOoOoOoOo-

It was a rather large group that Harry led into the lower dungeons of Hogwarts, and it grated on his nerves that it was mainly made up of people he respected and loved. It was obvious that he didn't want them to see him go completely Valerian, as they had heard, but not seen that previous trip down the dungeon steps and corridors. He loved them too much to scare them, and he worried that if he was too concerned about them he wouldn't be able to see if danger was heading right for them.

The majority of the Weasleys -excluding one very sulky Ginny Weasley- had volunteered to join them, as well as Hermione, Tonks, the Malfoys and the Zabinis. Draco was stuck to his side like he was charmed there, and had even taken to growling when someone seemed to encroach upon his territory. It was just as well that they were arriving at the chamber specified by Dumbledore.

Snape met them at the entrance, an unreadable expression on his otherwise sallow and dour face. He nodded tersely to Harry and the Malfoys upon seeing them, but didn't react whatsoever to the others in the trailing group. He looked at Harry with his tunneling black eyes, not a hint of mockery shining within them. "Two have already died upon arrival, Potter, and there are others well on their way to joining them," he drawled. "We have done our best to keep them in their human forms, but they have somehow managed to circumvent the spells and manacles entirely, and have remained in their wolf forms indefinitely. It made it exceedingly hard to treat them for life threatening injuries, as I'm sure you understand, but they have begun to heal themselves by an alternate means. We are unsure what it means."

"No one was bitten?" Harry asked, quietly.

"No," said Snape. "But they have attempted to mangle any whom draw near. Flitwick had to be dragged back by myself and Lupin from one we had thought to be dead, as it had immediately attempted to tear his throat out upon drawing near."

Harry glowered into the parts of the room he could see, already feeling the tingling in his back that preceded his wings appearing. "I suppose I needn't be gentle with them, then," he said.

"While death isn't our goal for them, it is sometimes necessary," Snape remarked quietly, uncharacteristically polite. "Be cautious, Potter. They may have some tricks up their sleeves to break free and attack, and they won't leave an opportunity to waste. Hagrid is a prime example of such."

The thought of his half-giant friend in the Hospital Wing had Harry inwardly seething, a new and familiar concrete case snapping shut around his heart. "Have their limbs been reattached and healed?" He asked.

Snape scowled, a look Harry was accustomed to seeing on the man's face. "Lupin insisted such a thing," he said, sneering then at Remus's name. "Filius, Minerva and I disagreed at first, obviously, however, they were eventually swayed by Lupin's theory that to 'keep the wolves alive', they needed their limbs. A fools endeavor, as you are about to slay them anyhow."

"I think everyone should turn back now," Harry muttered, feeling a sense of weightlessness begin in his lungs and spine, as if the weight he had been unconsciously harboring there had been lifted. For a time, of course. 

"We aren't leaving you," Draco said, being the only one close enough to hear him clearly. "We're here of our own choice. I'm here for you, to help you."

"I'm about to torture Werewolves," Harry snapped, turning to give them all a hard stare. "Not fight a bloody battle against Voldemort. I'm about to commit a crime so hideous that it'll leave a taint on my soul, and I don't think seeing me do that would give you all nice, sweet dreams, or improve your healing to see all this bloodshed, especially when you're all recuperating from Voldemort."

"It's not like you're a Dark Lord," said Ron, countering readily and firmly. "We know that you don't enjoy this, we know that you won't hurt someone or something just because you're angry. You're powerful enough to become a Lord"

The chamber they entered wasn't at all like the singular ones Harry had been in before -box like things with only one entrance and exit and small enough for a small group of five-, instead it was elongated from side to side and offered an array of squirming Werewolves chained completely and securely along the main wall, all wolves whom growled and snapped their jaws at their entrance, wild amber eyes glinting and flashing dangerously.The walls were blocks of stone carved with ripples of age and slightly greasy with moss and water the repelling spells had reluctantly let slip through. It was chilly, and brought about a feeling of anxiety that was left over from hundreds of years of torture.

Harry stepped forth from the group they made, and stood very still as every amber eye focused on him, glinting and shining sharply as if they planned to break free and strip his flesh from his bones. He didn't let it effect him.

"Transform, please," he heard himself say, though he couldn't be sure if it weren't an echo of something that meant to hurt, or just a simple instruction. "I can't understand you when you growl."

The wolves snapped their jaws and bared their teeth, squirming restlessly against their bindings. None seemed willing to change back to their human forms, but Harry wasn't sure if it was because they felt they had more protection if they were in their wolf forms, or if they were doing it just to spite him, as if to say "We won't tell you anything, so just kill us".

But he wasn't very interested in killing them, if he could prevent it.

"I'll give you one last chance to transform, before I start ripping spines from mouths," he said, a trace of a growl in his voice.

 

Chapter Text

22, The Army

Draco leaned up against the wall in the lower dungeons, a deep frown fixed firmly upon his face, which flickered wildly in the shadows cast by the flames floating along the ceiling of the hallway, and his arms knotted stubbornly across his broad chest. The loud, tormented screams that came from inside the chamber to his left echoed down the long winding corridors, and it was more than once that he thought someone from the opposite ends answered them. If it weren't the fact that these dungeons hadn't been used in centuries, since the punishments for unruly students had morphed with the coming ages.

Narcissa and Lucius were stood opposite him in their own flickering fire-lit shadows, their porcelain faces suspiciously blank and lacking any emotion that reacted negatively to the racket. He supposed that was because they'd had their own fair share of torment in the past wars, being tortured or inflicting it. It was a perverse wish that he could stand the sound of others in pain, even if his mate wouldn't make it a regular occurrence.

He repressed a shudder as the loud thump of flesh against stone, and an answering scream to what was likely a sudden loss of limb, sounded. The stench of the earthy blood of the captured Werewolves was thick, and it caked absolutely everything. It was a cloying smell, and one he begged to ask how someone so sensitive a nose as Harry, could stand to bear.

“Patience, Draco,” said his mother softly, her ice like eyes thawing slightly at his hidden, but evidently obvious trepidation. “It is nearing an end, and Harry is about to achieve what he initially set out to do. There aren't a great deal of wolves, from what I can tell of the heartbeats there won't be any left by the end, they are too weak to heal themselves.”

Another thud of flesh to stone, and a terrible scream. “I just want this to stop,” he admitted. “He shouldn't be doing this, even if its to stop another war from breaking out, it's not up to him to deal with. This should be left up to others – like Professor Lupin, or even Severus. People that can deal out torture.”

“He's too pure for we to taint,” said Narcissa, nodding. “But after everything he has done, he has managed to escape unscathed. Tell me, Draco, if it were you whom had to assassinate the most powerful Dark Lord in many ages, would you remain the same, or become something wholly different?” She asked, tilting her proud head at a curious angle.

“I couldn't handle it,” he said truthfully. “If I were chosen, I would've failed under the pressure. I wouldn't have been able to handle anything the Dark Lord had thrown at me, like Harry could. I don't think I have the necessary bravery to stand up like that.”

She nodded, a small smile lifting the corners of her lips. “And that is why you were not chosen to be the Boy-Who-Lived and Harry was,” she said, that small smile growing just that tad bit more. “It's obvious why the fates picked him to play that role, and why you became his mate. You are his strength, and he is the force. You hold his heart in your hands.”

“He holds mine, too,” he whispered, looking away. “But I don't think he knows that.”

“Then he will learn,” said Lucius softly.

There were no screams coming from the chamber, Draco realized after a moment. Nothing but unnatural silence.

“Do you think ––?”

The door squealed open, shrieking with age as the metal was far too rusted to properly open and close without force. Draco took in the sight of his mate, covered in blood from head to toe with an unearthly iridescent shine to the pale, creamy skin beneath the smeared red. His wings were held at a tense upright position, blood dripping in steady rivers down the velvety scales – the obvious tool for dismembering the Werewolves, and his eyes – his eyes were flat and held no spark of recognition in them.

“Harry?” He asked cautiously, stepping a little closer to the raven-haired Valerian.

Harry looked at him and opened his mouth, but all that came out was a whispering trail of sibilant hisses – much like Parseltongue, but far softer and somehow more fluid. It dripped from his throat like oil, and caressed his ears like silk. But it wasn't English, and he didn't recognize the language. Harry didn't seem to know that he wasn't speaking English, and Draco couldn't help but be struck at how similar it was with how he spoke Parseltongue in their Second year.

“We cannot understand you, Harry,” said Lucius gently, stepping up beside Draco with a smooth step, and regarding Harry keenly. “You are speaking in a tongue unheard of for more than a millennia.”

Harry blinked owlishly and spoke again in the same ancient language, but unlike last time, Draco saw a spark of recognition and comprehension dawn in his green, green eyes. The relief was almost tantamount to finally breathing after being underwater for too long, when your nose and mouth rise above the water and you're finally breathing in the sweet, fresh air, your lungs stretching to take it all in. Draco felt ridiculous for feeling this way, but he just couldn't help it. Some small part of him screamed that he could have lost his Harry to instincts long deceased and buried, could have lost the personal connection to Harry that he had and most wanted. He -and Harry- was lucky that that part was small, and not the majority, lest he take Harry into his room at Malfoy Manor and keep him there for all eternity.

Harry stopped a sibilant hiss short, closed his mouth, and swallowed loudly in the deafening silence. “I – I'm sorry,” he said in a rasping voice that surprised the all. “I don't know why that happened.”

“Something has disturbed you,” said Narcissa softly, frowning, having lost that cold mask long ago when she'd began talking to her son. “Will you tell us what it was, so we may resolve the matter?”

Harry chewed on his lower lip and glanced back into the large and lowly lit chamber, eyes seemingly following a trail of blood that began at the far wall and ended where he stood. Draco blinked as Harry suddenly tensed, his wings flicking a little at the ends. “I need to talk to Professor Dumbledore, first,” said Harry, looking very serious. “I found out what Greyback is trying to do, and why we've been getting away with killing so many of his Werewolves without retaliation, or a proper attack. We need Dumbledore to contact -" He suddenly stopped, and gave a lengthy pause. "Others. We need him to contact others.”

“Then we must make haste,” said Lucius firmly, stamping his cane on the ground with a resounding chink, and spinning on his heel to lead the way out of the lower dungeons at a brisk pace. They immediately swept along behind him. “The Headmaster is expecting our arrival in his office at any minute, along with the others. Namely being, Professors Snape, McGonagall, Flitwick, Sprout, and Messrs Lupin and Weasley. The Weasley brood attempted to override him and attend the meeting, but Dumbledore managed to subdue them into staying in the Common room. I presume that will be an advantage?”

Harry nodded, even though Lucius couldn't see him, his green eyes distant, but aware as they swept the corridors. “We need everyone we can trust to be there,” he said. “Any fighters, strategists, researchers and all will need to attend a meeting to be made aware.”

“Made aware of what, dear?” asked Narcissa, her smooth face set in a serious and concerned frown. “What is happening?”

“Not here,” was Harry's quiet reply. “Too many ears in the walls.”

And as they made their way into Dumbledore's office, Draco couldn't help but feel his heart sinking in his chest, for what could be so bad that Harry wouldn't speak until sure that no hidden ears could listen?

-oOoOoOoOo-

Dumbledore was already looking at the door when Harry burst in, Lucius, Narcissa and Draco following right up behind him. Although, they weren't the one covered in Werewolf blood and looked like an avenging fallen angel with a waterfall of inky black hair and tall, sharply pointed wings. The elder Malfoys joined Snape in the corner of the room, while Draco accompanied Harry in the walk up to Dumbledore's desk. The other professors were all amassed in one corner, McGonagall most prominent in them as she stood at the front of the group with sharp, watchful eyes. Filius Flitwick stood proudly beside her, his grinning face slack and pale with shock.

Draco assumed that the shock was seeing Harry Potter covered in blood and almost fully Valerian in instinct, as his walk was more a prowl. Draco found it incredibly sexy, if it weren't for the very desperate need for Harry to be cleaned of all the blood first. That was on their To-Do list for the evening, to shower in the Prefects bathroom until they were both clean and satisfied. In an innocent and adult regard all the same. 

"Harry, m'boy," said Dumbledore calmly, gesturing to a jar of lemon drops with a benign smile. "Would you care for a lemon drop?"

Draco's eyes tightened at the lack of concern, and his lips thinned.  Oh yes, just order him to murder ten bloody wolves for information and then offer him a lemon drop as reward, the crimes he just committed is no skin off your hands, is it, old man? Your logic and wisdom is just so damn powerful that we should all bow down. Arrogant prick. 

Harry's own eyes tightened with righteous anger, and a very snarky expression not unlike Snape's shaped his face in the form of a curled lip and narrowed eyes. "When the army of Inferi is defeated, perhaps," he said flatly. "But until then, I think I'll hold off on the sweets. Need to watch my figure, and all that."

Utter silence fell upon the office at the uttered words, putting a stop to any mumbling that may have been going on before. Draco stared hard into that impeccable face, feeling flabbergasted, and from the corner of his eye, he could see his own parents and Godfather's faces morph into hard masks that held back any emotion, no matter how desperate the circumstance. He closed his eyes, and counted to ten, pulling in all of his emotions until they were trapped behind his own Malfoy mask. None were the wiser. 

Dumbledore blinked up at Harry, disconcerted. "I beg your pardon?"

Harry didn't smile at being the one to finally have the drop on old Dumbledore, he seemed really, extraordinarily tired, and Draco worried behind closed doors that his mate would fall to his knees any second. In fact, he was anticipating that. But instead of collapsing into exhaustion, Harry merely sighed. "Greyback's been sending his wolves in to keep us looking in the other direction of the missing Death Eaters, distracting us so they could summon the Inferi from the lake and build an army. They've been very quietly taking select Muggles from the streets, people that'll hardly be missed," he murmured. "The only reason we've not heard from the Muggle Minister as of yet."

"And why would Greyback send us a Werewolf with such valuable information other than to fool us into believing it was real? Why would he expose and put the operation at risk of failure when he is allowed to bite whomever he pleases?" asked Snape dryly.

"Eric slipped through the cracks," said Harry, quietly, eyes intense. "He didn't want to be a Werewolf anymore, and he took the position of a lesser ranking Were to come here. He knew what I'd do to him when he attacked, but he still came willingly and offered up the information."

"In return for what?" asked Remus softly.

Harry closed his eyes in what looked like anguish, and seemed to hunch in on himself, his wings quivering as if to encase him in a hug.   Draco   quivered in the need to hold him, but his own self-restraint wouldn't allow that until Harry was clean. "Eric never dreamed of becoming a Werewolf - he hated them, in fact," said Harry, in that tiny rasping voice. "He was turned by mere chance, and when Greyback recruited him for his own, he only stayed to gather as much information as he could to give it to someone else. The first chance he got, he came here. He gave me the information, in exchange for a quick death." 

"It was over for him the moment he was bitten," mused Remus in a soft, but strong voice, green eyes sad. 

Harry nodded minimally, opening his eyes. He focused solely on Dumbledore. "The one thing he couldn't find out, was how they were changing at will," he said. "Eric mentioned something about a spell being cast at them to render them unconscious before the change, but I'm not sure that's right. It could be that the spell changes them right then and they lose their memories, or it could be something that disassociates the mind from the body - rather like the Imperius curse, to change them."

Dumbledore stroked a hand through his long beard, frowning pensively. "This is not what I expected to happen when the war ended," he admitted quietly. "I merely assumed from the disappearance of the Death Eaters that they would not attempt anything, but it seems that the darkness they had once reveled in has not completely faded. Lord Voldemort must have left plans in place for his most trusted, plans that would serve as just as violent as he was. I do not think he truly meant to die," he uttered. "Perhaps he assumed that he would and left contingency plans in place should he not live to enslave us all. Plans that would immediately go to those still living and he believed faithful to his cause."

"If that were true, Albus, Lucius and I would have gotten our own parts in this madness," said Snape darkly, his sallow face twisted in open disgust. "The Dark Lord would not have left out his prized Potions Master, nor his right hand man. If he left contingency plans in place, they would have to be his Horcruxes, and not free reign of his sea of Inferi to his faithful dogs. He is too covetous of power to do that."

"So the Death Eaters are acting alone, orchestrating this as an act of Voldemort despite him being dead," said Draco suggested, voice low and slow. "It wouldn't be the first time, yeah? This could be something they want to dedicate to him, like a final salute."

"That still does not solve how they know where to find Tom's lake," said Dumbledore, piercing blue eyes shut in thought. "Tom was very covetous of power, and knowledge is one of the greatest powers in the world, he would not have given the coordinates of his Horcrux to his subordinates for any reason other than to have them fall in and join his collection. Even upon his death, he would have taken that secret to the grave and beyond."

"Unless he informed Bellatrix of its resting place," muttered Snape with a curled lip, a rather nasty look that could have curdled fresh milk. "She was the one witch alive that the Dark Lord trusted above all else, and the only one of us whom was invited back to his personal chambers. She bedded him to satisfy his needs, of that I know," he sneered. "And as such, he would have trusted her to this."

"Tom wouldn't trust her with that just because he fucked her on a regular basis," Harry growled, his sudden foul temper alarming many. "I've been in his head for nearly all my life, and any thoughts like that never even occurred to him. If anything, he --" Harry stopped dead in his sentence, frozen, his eyes wide open.

"He would have instructed a House-elf to tell his remaining faithful servants of what he wanted done," he continued, awed. "He had only one House-elf in his service, and it was a twisted little beast named Yast. He commanded it to tell the others everything, and then to kill itself before it could be discovered by the enemy."

"The Dark Lord had no House-elves, you stupid boy," snapped Snape. "He detested the mere sight of the deplorable creatures."

Harry sneered at the man from over his shoulder, not deigning to face him completely. "And how else do you think Voldemort got his meals? Cooking them himself? Allowing Lucius's and Narcissa's House-elves to service him when he barely trusted them as it was? No, behind closed doors, Tom had Yast cook, clean and research everything for him. How else can one learn magic, than from a purely magical creature?"

"And now the remaining Death Eaters have the means to bring the world another war?" asked Draco quietly, prompting the conversation back onto the right track.

Harry looked at him silently for a minute, his tired eyes practically screaming " I'm sorry! ". After another long moment, he released a reluctant sigh and nodded. "Yes," he said truthfully. "And there's no saying who they're going to target, now that everyone's lives are on the table. We're all in danger; the students, the Wizarding populace, the Muggles, and most especially, us in this very room. If Bellatrix and the others have really amassed an army of Inferi as great as Eric told me, we're in really deep shite, because they mean war, death and destruction and they're not going to stop until every one of us is dead, or on their side and surrendering.

"But unfortunately, that isn't the worst thing we have against us, yet."

"Explain what you mean by that, Harry," said Dumbledore softly in a strong voice, the speaker of the stupefied people in the room. "Because if what that Werewolf told you is correct, the worst possible thing that could happen is that the army of Inferi arrive at the school and begin terrorizing the children. What could possibly be worse than that and an army of Werewolves under the command of Fenrir Greyback, and not under the sway of the full moon?"

Harry took a very deep breath, feeling a little like his heart was climbing up his throat. It was this that had forced him to revert to yet another language, just the very brief explanation was enough to send his mind reeling back many a millennia. Bile automatically started crawling up his throat, his mouth watering and he swallowed harshly to halt its progress. It wasn't the time to be weak and afraid, they all needed him to be strong.

Draco needed him to be strong.

Harry firmed himself, stiffening and clenching his blood stained hands into fists despite the clawed nails upon each finger. "Eric informed me lastly and most importantly, that the Death Eaters are reanimating the corpses of our deceased loved ones with a complicated and modified blood ritual that is said to have been Voldemort's just before he died," he said flatly, watching motionlessly as each and every person in the room jerked and reacted with stupendous fear and horror. Dumbledore almost threw himself into the wall behind his desk, he recoiled so harshly. "It is said to make the corpses whole in body and magic again, but under the command of the caster, so it will be harder for the relatives to kill and twice as traumatizing. And I suppose you can guess just who the first to be reanimated were, as they were symbols of the Light, the ones whom defied Voldemort three times.

"Lily and James Potter."

Chapter Text

23. We All Crash and Burn

In the Forbidden Forest, revelations of a darker kind were being made just as well as in the Headmaster's office in Hogwarts. The wind whistled wildly through the treetops, and with it, heralded the entrance into a small clearing through a tightly clutched grouping of trees. An entrance, in which one beastly man rocketed through, dodging the branches that seemed to snap down at him with the wind expertly. As the figure rounded the proud and tall trees, it let loose a teeth shattering roar that alerted those in the clearing of his appearance.

"WHERE IS HE?!" Roared Fenrir, tearing furiously into the underbrush of the tight clearing with single minded determination. His glowing blue eyes screamed murder as they scanned the cowering mass of people, all of which had bowed their heads and whimpered their fear at his ferocious mood.

The infected men and women were no strangers to Fenrir's terrible temper, and most of the women in the groups were still injured from the last time they'd been subject to his 'affections'. Many still bore deep gouging teeth marks in the meat of their arms, legs and stomachs, but there was hardly anything they were able to do with it, but let it happen and then hopefully heal quickly. It was only a matter of time before they were summoned to attack Potter anyway, and they all knew the results of that. Instantaneous death. It was why so many of them threw themselves so whole-heartedly at the missions - it was the only way to escape Fenrir Greyback's mad Pack.

Quietly, a scantily clad and dirt smudged woman shuffled timidly forward from her clutch of Packmates, head lowered and neck bared in submission to Fenrir's whims. She didn't look at her cowering peers, for she knew that they wouldn't do a thing to stop Fenrir if he decided that her head didn't belong on her shoulders. "Where is whom, Alpha?" She asked tentatively, shoulders held high around her ears.

Fenrir snapped his teeth together and whirled around, his hulking figure easily towering over all present. "The coward we dragged in with the first lot. Where is Eric?!" Fenrir snarled, stomping into the whimpering mass of bitten Werewolves with a merciless force, shoving the unlucky men and women aside when they were unable to get away quick enough. Suddenly, he halted before a fallen woman and tilted his head high, his crooked nose viciously huffing in the scented air for the man he was searching for. He let out such a threatening growl, that almost instantaneously, a wave of necks were bared before him and heads were bowed. He was Alpha. "His scent is weak, he has been gone from our Packground for too long. Where has he gone skulking off to? I've heard from our little mole in Hogwarts that he was there, but surely he isn't stupid enough to ignore a direct order and try to run away."

The woman brave enough to speak in the face of Fenrir's rage, ducked her head down even further. "I - I think he went with the others, Alpha," she said tremulously, knees almost caving in with fear when she felt those feral orbs focus on her. "He - he wanted to die. He didn't want to be a Werewolf anymore, Alpha. He threw himself before Potter and was captured - taken to the castle in a sack."

"So the mole was correct, and Eric is now dead! The fool! He was not ordered to attack Potter!" Fenrir growled furiously, dirty, whiskery face thunderous and stormy with rage. "He was to remain in the Packground until taken by Portkey to Bellatrix. He has ruined everything we have worked for!"

"We - we have reason to believe Eric betrayed us, Alpha," the woman whimpered, collapsing to her weak knees as Fenrir loomed closer, his figure a threatening shadow that threatened to snuff out her existence. "Some of us heard talk of a plan - a plan to escape to Hogwarts and tell Potter what we're doing here. I didn't believe it, no one would dare go against you, Alpha! It was all talk!"

"And yet Eric is no longer here, and you are throwing yourself at my feet. Why did none of you inform me of this so-called plan? It is the fault of your selfish, pathetic hides that we now have no advantage, no protection against the Light wizards that by now know each and every one our plans!"

The woman let out a little sob, lowering her head until her forehead was flush with the grass and the whole of her neck was bared. She daren't move another muscle. "It was just once, Alpha, only one time!" She cried. "I tried to find the traitor - but they only did it one time!"

"YOU ARE ALL TRAITORS!" Fenrir roared to the darkened sky overhead, and then sent his foot swinging into the sobbing woman's ribs as hard as he dared. The woman tumbled to a stop feet away, screaming in gut-wrenching pain as her ribs were obliterated and splintered into her lungs and flesh. No one came to her defense, and no one dared to move - hardly even to breathe other than to whimper and cry.

Fenrir leveled them all with a feral smirk full of crooked and sharp, yellow teeth, one that spoke of endless horrors and pain to come for them. But still, no one dared to move - to get away from their deaths that were close at hand.

"It seems I need to get myself a new Pack, this one's utterly pathetic," Fenrir sneered to himself, sauntering jaggedly to where the half-naked, wheezing and sobbing woman lay. A foot slamming down on the base of her neck shut her up, and Fenrir gave another little sneer at her dirty body. He kicked it away from him in disgust, upper lip curled to keep his teeth in display. "A waste of flesh and magic," he mused. "Well, we'll have to rectify this and find others more deserving of this honor. Who wants to die first? You? Oh, yes, you're just gaggin' for it. Smile for me, pretty boy!"

Screams echoed throughout the dark forest, heard only by the young Werewolf that skulked between the two opposing sides. With a flutter of black robes in the wild wind, the figure disappeared back through the shrub and trees, face deathly pale in the moonlight as he retraced his steps back to the castle. He knew when it was a bad time to offer information up, especially to an irate Fenrir Greyback. And so, he began to bide his time back at Hogwarts, sponging up information before it was time to flee to his Alpha's side.

There was only so much time before he was called away, and he awaited that time very eagerly. So far he was safe in the midst of the Light, for who would suspect the poor loyal Hufflepuff Werewolf of being a spy?

No one, thought Ernie smugly. Not even Harry bloody Potter. 

-oOoOoOoOo-

"What will happen when the other students come back here?"

The question was uttered so quietly that Draco had a hard time hearing it, even with his newly improved senses and the lack of noise in the room. He drew Harry in tightly, pulling the Valerian's back flush to his chest, and rested his chin on the back of Harry's soft neck with a quiet sigh, pressing a light kiss to the silky skin - which he delighted in watching give a shiver at the contact. "I don't know," he answered truthfully. "Greyback could attack at any time and their parents need to be cautioned, but --"

"I don't mean about that," Harry mumbled. "I mean, what if the younger kids set off our instincts by accident and we attack them? What if we. . . lose control?"

Draco shifted until he was leaning up on his elbow and was looking down at Harry's face, unguarded by the lack of people there to see them, and so distraught, Draco wondered how he didn't know he was upset in the first place. "What brought this on?" He asked, eyebrows drawing up in concern. "Did Granger say something to worry you? You shouldn't listen to her so much, she doesn't understand what you're going through right now. Her logic opens and shuts with a book, don't pay her any mind."

"She didn't say anything," Harry mumbled, very decisively not looking up at him, despite the blonde being so close. "Well, the students'll be coming back soon, and we're both so different to what we both were before . . . I'm just worried that I've changed too much to be around them all," he admitted, and immediately looked very sore for saying so. "I never really had any control over my life before the change, and what little control I did have, it was only what I was allowed. I couldn't react in the way I wanted, because there was always someone there manipulating me from the wings. But now? I could attack someone - I could kill someone just because they offended the Valerian in me! I don't know how to handle this - I can't just think about the positives and wipe away all the bad, I've done that for too long as it is, and it just keeps coming back to bite me in the arse. I just - I don't know how to handle this. There are no books, no records, no other people like me to help me. I'm literally alone in figuring this out, but I don't want to be . . . I - I need someone else to help," he whispered.

Draco's frown melted into a tender smile at the very reluctant confession, and a small seed of pride bloomed in his chest at the mere thought of his mate talking to him about such a serious problem. He knew just as well as anyone that Harry Potter is an intensely private person, so to be gifted in such a way . . . Well, he almost preened like a peacock. "You always were a worry wart," he said knowingly, despite his voice deepening with arousal. He was heated and flustered, especially at the declaration that Harry needed help - his help. It made the Vampire in him purr and want to pounce.

Fierce green eyes glinted up at him very sharply in the soft light of the crackling fireplace, harsh enough that Draco felt a wave of reluctant goosebumps rise up on the skin of his torso. "Don't tease me about this, Malfoy," he said crisply. Draco concealed a wince. "I'm trying to be serious --"

"When are you never serious, Harry?" Draco countered pointedly, brushing a hand over the soft skin of Harry's stomach, and smiling smugly as the muscles there rippled at his very touch. But then he looked at Harry's defiant expression, and his smile faded. "You're always frowning, and when you're not, you're always so quiet that you seem upset. It's like the world weighs down on you all the time, and you're growing into an old man way before you should. You need to learn to relax --"

Harry abruptly flipped onto his back and raised himself up on his own elbows, dangerously dark clouds brewing in his eyes. "In case you hadn't noticed, I actually did have the weight of the world on my shoulders, I could never relax because there was someone always out there trying to kill me!" He growled into Draco's startled face. "You were just too damn childish to realize it!"

A growl thundered from the middle of Draco's chest, and suddenly, he had Harry pressed heavily into their bed before either could so much as blink, fangs descending in his mouth and baring in the low lighting at the challenge his mate had issued. His eyes had taken on a more red tint than before.

Harry was frozen in place, staring up at the blonde with wide eyes and an 'o' shaped mouth at that. His anger was slowly drained away by the sight, and Draco took the opportunity to say his piece.

"I may have been childish in concern to the Dark Lord's fixation on you, but I had no idea he was that intent on killing you - that everything boiled down to the two of you finally killing each other off," he snarled, not even slightly caring that he was probably scaring Harry with the sudden appearance of his fangs. In his primal mind, his mate had insulted him, and he was acting out of defense. "I was only a child, and unlike you, I was raised by my parents knowing that I was safe from the Dark Lord's attention. I had no idea he was so insane until last year, when Father finally voiced his doubts of the Dark Lord's competence. So you can stop with the prejudice against my family right this second, because I will not tolerate it!" He hissed.

The overwhelming shock from his sudden rant was wiped away from Harry's face in the instant he stopped talking, and red hot anger once again crowded it. Those green eyes fired up once again. "Stop twisting my words into something they're not!" He hissed, so thoroughly outraged that he barely registered that his hands had latched onto Draco's shoulders and were squeezing quite painfully. "You were there just as much as Ron and Hermione were when Voldemort attacked, each and every year you heard the stories and saw the aftermath of their passing! And did you not find any shred of truth to the tales? The Basilisk in Second year, the Stone in First, Voldemort's bloody resurrection in Fourth? You were so childish that you didn't even understand what was really happening around you, in your own bloody school!"

Draco stared down at Harry blankly. "Those - stories were so ridiculous that one so intelligent would sincerely doubt they truly happened," he said flatly. "Why would I believe that my rival did so many fantastically dangerous things and survived, only to keep what happened secret and to hide away from the attention? One would think that you would exploit your adventures to reap more fame, as your attention-seeking habits would decree."

"Then that someone wouldn't know me at all," Harry rebuked steadfastly. "Why would I tell everyone what happened when I wanted to forget them just as much as they wanted to know?"

"I thought you were an attention seeking prat," Draco pointed out, feeling the need to say it once more. "Why would I think you were modest when all you did was show us all up in almost every bloody regard? Quidditch, and some of our classes."

Harry arched an eyebrow up at him, blinking languidly. "If you're still sore from that Hippogriff lesson in Care, you really need to let it go," he said. "I only got to ride Buckbeak because I followed the instructions, while you outright defied everything Hagrid said and even went on to insult him! You deserved that scratch, just as much as Buckbeak did those ferrets for scratching you."

Draco allowed a small huff of indignation to escape him. "That bloody chicken deserved what he got," he mumbled, dipping his head to press his nose into the crease of Harry's delectable neck and just breathe in that scent. Even when confronted with such a delicious thing, he still had enough mind left to grumble, "Why could you get it to do something special, when I couldn't? It wasn't fair then, and it's not fair now. The whole thing was rigged from the start, I say. You had private lessons before that."

"No, I didn't. But he's alive, you know," Harry told him, dragging slow fingers through the blonde's hair and tilting his head for Draco to continue nuzzling him. It was getting him a bit hot under the collar, but he knew it couldn't progress any when everything was still so tense. "Hermione and I freed him before Macnair could kill him. He was innocent of the whole thing and didn't deserve to bloody die, and you know it. You're the one that insulted him, and as a Hippogriff, pride is everything. He just reacted in kind."

Draco sighed and pressed a small kiss to Harry's soft skin, minding the fangs that were slowly disappearing now that the anger was gone. He slowly let himself slide to the side of his mate's body, an arm winding over that soft stomach out of habit. "Why are we talking about the overgrown chicken?" He asked, sighing once more.

"Beats yelling at each other," Harry muttered back.

"Well, with our history, a bit of yelling isn't anything out of the normal. It's probably going to be a normal thing from now on," Draco said, laughing slightly. "Better than hitting each other though. I know some couples that fight all the time, and they're stronger than anything. Not like those weak relationships where there are unequal standings."

"I don't like it," Harry murmured, eyes slowly falling shut as he shifted closer to the blonde at his side and cuddled in. "I just escaped from a life of fighting, I don't want our relationship to be a battleground to fight on. 'specially if we have children."

Draco smiled softly at him, not that Harry noticed, and pressed a tender kiss to the top of his head. "Then it won't be," he whispered against the soft skin. "I won't let you get hurt, least of all by me. The past is the past, and we are who we are now. Together, in body and in soul. I will fight for you, by your side in anything, but never with you, ever. I promise."

"M'kay," Harry mumbled into his skin, rubbing his face against the blonde's clavicle tiredly, but still affectionately. He hardly registered what his mouth was saying, let alone the fact that his words seemed to freeze Draco in his tracks. He was practically asleep anyhow. "Love you, Draco."

Draco stared down at the dark haired Valerian in his arms with wide eyes, mouth slightly slack with shock, and very much awake. "I . . . love you, too, Harry," he whispered back, struck dumb. 

"I love you," he said in a voice a little less than a whisper, sounding so very surprised and awed, that it took him a moment to realize that he was talking to a very much dead to the world Harry. He wanted to shake the Valerian awake to tell him, to shout it from the rooftops - to say it to anyone who would listen, but for right now, he was comfortable just lying in bed with his Soulmate in his arms. 

The man that he loved, and was going to go to war fighting beside - fighting for. 

"I love you," he whispered, and pressed another tender kiss to Harry's head, before relaxing back into the bed and drifting off to sleep with the biggest smile he'd ever felt stretched across his face. 

And just for that moment, the world was an incredibly happy, beautiful place, just for the two of them. 

They didn't know how soon war was going to come knocking on their door, and just how close the snake in the bush was.