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Friday, November 4 th , 1994

Harry James Potter was done. He was just… done .

It had only been four days since Halloween, and he was so beyond angry he knew that if he stayed inside for one more second he would end up cursing someone. Probably Ron and Hermione , he thought bitterly. It had hurt, when they’d both accused him of entering his name. Weren’t his friends supposed to know him? Shouldn’t they realize that more fame and fortune were the last things he wanted? Aren’t friends supposed to stick by you, no matter what?

A vague memory flashed through Harry’s mind of when he was eight. He’d been scrubbing the kitchen floor when Dudley and Piers Polkiss had gotten in a row. Harry didn’t know what it was about, hadn’t really cared beyond the fact that Polkiss had stomped out and left Dudley in a bad mood with nothing to distract him except Harry. But Harry remembered that Polkiss had come back the next afternoon, rubbing his arm in a nervous habit of his. No apologies were exchanged, that wasn’t really their style, but Polkiss had stuck out his hand and Dudley had shaken it and that had been that. It was their way of apologizing, their way of saying “friends?”

It had been a stupid fight, and they’d both realized that and gotten over it. Harry knew Ron and Hermione would get over it, too. He just wished it didn’t hurt so much that there was something to get over . They should believe him. That’s what friends did.

Harry had stomped out one of the side doors when he’d caught sight of a few Gryffindors. He didn’t pay attention, just followed the wall in a blind desire to get away. He didn’t remember it was November until he was shivering in his thin shirt. He’d forgotten his cloak. He contemplated going back in for it, but then decided it wasn’t worth facing the crowds of students.

He was so caught up with shivering, though, that he didn’t see the shadow of a body, or feel the warming charm take effect until Draco I’m-a-Ponce Malfoy was right in front of him, a cigarette hanging from his gaping mouth.

“Malfoy.”

“Potter.” And wasn’t that odd. No insults, nor curses. Just blatant shock at finding themselves in this situation. Harry took a moment to look around and found that he had walked into a small nook, too small to be an actual courtyard but something to that effect, with two stone benches placed against Hogwarts’s stone walls and a small table with a bird bath that Malfoy was clearly using as an ashtray. Belatedly, Harry noticed that there was a warming charm cast over the entire area, washing away his previous shivers in a tide of toe curling warmth. The place also smelled completely of some unholy combination of what Harry recognized as sage and what he thought might be mugwort. For some reason, it wasn’t nearly as unpleasant as he thought it should be.

“What are you doing here?” He finally asked, because staring at Malfoy had never been his idea of a good time.

True to form, Malfoy’s shock was swept behind a sneer as he held his cigarette between two fingers. “I should be asking you that, Potter. Not enjoying the attention your little stunt is getting you?”

Half wanting to snarl, half wanting to curse the entire damn world, Harry chose the simplest option and just collapsed onto the stone bench opposite Malfoy. Whatever energy had filled him at seeing Malfoy vanished because he was so damn tired all of a sudden. He didn’t even care anymore.

“Well, Potter?” The self-entitled brat drawled. Harry took a deep breath, trying to find the strength within himself to get up and snarl and trade insults with his rival because that’s what they always did, what happened every time they’ve seen each other since that day on the train. Harry just found himself empty, some deep hollow feeling slowly growing and consuming everything he was. He felt his shoulders slump and, with nothing better to do, he buried his head in his hands and curled into himself, hands clenching and pulling at the unruly strands of dark hair.

“Potter?” Malfoy asked again, and Harry knew he was losing his mind because he could’ve sworn the other boy’s voice softened.

“Just…” Harry took another deep breath and forced his throat to work, to push words past the burning and tightening that made him choke. “Just let me sit here, in silence for a little while, alright? I’ll leave soon.” To his eternal shock, Malfoy listened. Harry heard the shift of fabric (no doubt of the highest quality because this was Malfoy ) and the Slytherin fully leaning back against the wall with a huff, but otherwise the area was silent.

Harry didn’t know why he stayed, instead of getting up and dredging on to find another hole to hide in. Just that it was warm here, that the scent of herbs filled the area and soothed him. All he knew was that there was no one around whispering about him or yelling invectives for his perceived misdeeds. It was, without a doubt, the calmest and most peace he’d gotten since Halloween. And wasn’t that just sad.

He didn’t want to think about how the world was so inclined to shun him with no evidence, or how his friends just turned their backs and believed everyone else over him. So, he pushed those thoughts away and just concentrate on breathing in and out, pulling in the crushing weight of hopelessness that had invaded his very sense of self.  

Going through breathing exercises had taken up so much attention that he startled when Malfoy abruptly tapped his arm with a cigarette.

“What?” He asked dumbly, because honestly, how else was he supposed to react.

Malfoy gave a heavy sigh of the long suffering before offering the cigarette again. “Clearly you need a smoke.”

“I don’t smoke.”

“Well, there’s a first time for everything, now isn’t there?” When Harry still didn’t move, Malfoy rolled his eyes and, in a move so utterly outrageous that Harry froze, leaned forward and placed the cigarette in Harry’s mouth before holding up his wand and murmuring a weak fire spell to light it. Harry breathed in on instinct as he leaned back because Draco Bloody Malfoy was way too close and this was not okay

Only to start hacking in the next instant. He pulled the murder stick away and wondered, briefly, if this was how he would die. Not by Voldemort, or his sick Death Eaters, but by a cigarette.

Malfoy, the wanker, had sat back with a snort and a broad smirk. “A light smoke defeats the great Potter? How poetic.”

“Shove it…” he paused to hack some more and breath when his airway finally cleared. “These things will kill you, you know?”

Malfoy sneered, and Harry wondered what it said about him that seeing the familiar expression was a comfort. “You are such a bloody muggle sometimes. First of all,” he raised one pale finger and spoke slowly as if explaining something to a particularly dense kneazle “Herbs, even ones that are found in the muggle world, have properties that are strengthened when grown in magical environments because even the ambient magic we release is still, surprisingly, magic. For example, mullein at its weakest will help with coughing and clearing lungs. Mullein, grown by a Master Herbologist, tends to neglect the adverse effects of smoking that some other herbs tend to carry. Not to mention that these don’t have any nicotine in them. And even if all of that wasn’t well known by any sodden amateur, there’s also the fact that we live in a world with magic Healers.

Harry had nothing to say to that that wouldn’t further make him sound like an idiot, so he chose to stay silent as he warily brought the cigarette back to his lips. He took a shallow breath and immediately expelled it when it began tickling his throat.

Malfoy, in a show of magnanimous pity, told him briskly, “When you’re first starting, take a shallow breath and hold it in your mouth for a moment. After a second, gently push the smoke back out before breathing deeply through your nose. You can breathe out through your mouth or nose, it doesn’t matter.” Malfoy did each step with master hyperbole, somehow managing to look both like a stuck up douche, and an elegant prat at the same time.

The first time Harry tried he blew the smoke too far out, but, with Malfoy watching with great amusement, he soon got the hang of it. Though, he wasn’t nearly as elegant as Malfoy. Harry felt the herbs- something smooth and slightly sweet with a bitter aftertaste- wash through him and his muscles started to relax. When Malfoy pointedly flicked his ash into the basin between them, Harry followed suit before leaning back.

They passed several minutes in silence, for once finding no need to fill the space with curses and taunts. Some distant part of Harry realized that this was possibly the strangest thing he’d ever done, but he was finally breathing easier (ironic, considering the death stick in his mouth) and wasn’t so close to losing control, so he ignored it. Inside this protective little bubble that kept the wind and cold and stares out, he thought that he could finally let go for a little while. Even if he was with a Junior Death Eater.

“The Slytherins don’t think you did it,” Malfoy said abruptly, ruining Harry’s peaceful retrospect.

“What?”

“The Goblet. We don’t think you put your name in. That’s why you’re hiding outside with me, isn’t it? You’ve been ostracized.” And, because he is a ridiculous excuse for a human being, Malfoy added with a sharp smirk, “Again.”

“Wait,” Harry sat up, eyes narrowing. “Slytherins are getting as many hits in as the Hufflepuffs. What do you mean , you don’t think I did it?”

“Bloody Hell Potter, do you ever think ?” Highly offended, but wanting answers nonetheless, Harry stayed silent as Malfoy went on. “The Goblet of Fire is almost as old as Hogwarts, so there was no way you could’ve programed it to accept you as a fourth champion. Not to mention , someone with as abysmal skills as you couldn’t hope to get pass an age line made by Dumbledore. The man may be a coot, but he’s still a powerful wizard.”

“Dumbledore is not a coot!” Harry snapped back. Malfoy’s lips pulled back but he remained silent for once, letting Harry stew until he begrudgingly asked, “If you all don’t think I did it, why are you taking part in the ‘socially torture Harry Potter’ party?”

“Because we have plenty to get you back for. This is just a convenient excuse that the teachers can’t pin on us alone when the rest of the Houses are doing the same.” Harry scowled at his blasé tone, taking a longer drag from his quickly shortening cigarette.

“What did I ever do to you?”

Malfoy stared incredulously for a moment while he sputtered. “’What did-‘ What did you do?! ” He sat up straighter and glared while he pointed a perfectly manicured nail at him sharply. “How about hating all of us on principle just because we wear green? How about breaking into our common room ? How about representing everyone that hates us just because we have different values?”

“Of course, I hate you! You’re a prat!” Harry forgot why he’d been sitting calmly as rage swept through him. How dare he? “You insult my friends just because they weren’t born in the same social class as you. You were happy when there was a bloody basilisk on the loose . The Slytherins were the ones that killed my parents! You’re bloody evil, of course I hate you!” Sometime during his rant, they’d both surged to their feet, panting heavily. Malfoy’s aristocratic features were twisted into an ugly expression of anger and disgust. For some reason, he appeared much more upset then he usually did. Difficult, considering he always appeared like he’d just watched someone skin his kneazle every time Harry was within a meter of him.

We are not evil! ” Malfoy ground his cigarette butt into the basin and stabbed Harry in the chest with his finger. “Just because we prefer ambition and self-preservation over running head long into danger doesn’t make us less then you. Just because we don’t want to see our ancient traditions and the Olde Ways whipped out by outsiders doesn’t make us evil.”

“Most Death Eaters were Slytherins,” Harry spat, shoving him off and grinding his own cigarette butt. Distantly, he wondered when he’d finished it.

Malfoy snarled. “Barty Crouch Jr., Ravenclaw, Denia Mulciber, Ravenclaw, Drew Rosier, Hufflepuff, Sirius Black, Gryffindor .” Harry choked back words because if he spoke he would start defending Sirius. He was honestly just a few words away from throwing a punch, much like Hermione had done so he took a deep breath.

“You can’t deny that a lot of the Death Eaters were Slytherins,” he finally spat.

“The Dark Lord offered to protect our culture, of course traditionalists joined!”

“So, you admit it! Traditionalists are Dark!”

Dark doesn’t make evil! ” Malfoy screamed, face so close to Harry’s that he could taste the mugwort on his breath. “How about you stop being such a Circe-damned puppet, and actually try learning a thing or two before throwing around judgements like a self-righteous, ignorant plebeian?!” Malfoy turned sharply on his heel, stalking out with the last line, “You disgrace the title of Heir, and the name Potter.”

Face no doubt flushed at the argument, and gut churning at everything that was said, Harry collapsed once more to rub his face. Vaguely, he noticed that the calm that the cigarette had gifted him was long gone and wished for another one.

Realizing what he’d been thinking, Harry grimaced to himself and pushed that thought down. What had taken over him, to accept something like a cigarette from Malfoy of all people? Clearly, the strain from the Tournament- which hadn’t even started yet- was getting to him.

Harry took a few more minutes to calm himself and ensure he looked at least halfway presentable. No reason to add fuel to the raging inferno that was Hogwarts’s rumor mill. He memorized the location of this little hidey-hole- it really was a great spot to come escape from others, Malfoy notwithstanding- before he finally made his way back to class.

As he walked, he ignored the whispers and the stares, all which sounded an awful lot like Malfoy’s educated drawl.

“You disgrace the title of Heir, and the name Potter.”

Chapter Text

Saturday, November 5 th , 1994

Harry found Malfoy’s parting sentence twisting in his mind, the echoing words digging in until it was all that he could think about. That night, he slept very little, too busy tossing and turning behind his curtains for his mind to quiet. He was up by six the next morning, and for once he was glad that none of his roommates were ever up before ten on Saturdays.

After showering and dressing in loose, comfortable clothes, he made his way out of Gryffindor Tower and deeper into the halls of Hogwarts. This early in the morning, he was the only one out and he took a moment to acknowledge that, despite the horrid reasoning for it, waking up early was one of the few good habits that came from living with the Dursleys. Though he wished that he was capable of sleeping past eight without being injured.

Not paying attention, Harry allowed his feet to take them where they willed, mind wandering. The castle was drafty, this time of year, and Harry was glad for the thick Weasley sweater he had put on. Even if it shot a pang of hurt through him to think too long about it.

Ron had been his friend since first year, Harry reminded himself. He’d come around. Ever since he’d sat down in that cart on the Hogwarts Express, Ron hadn’t stayed away for long. Even when he’d had fits of jealousy (the idiot, he could have the fame for all Harry cared) he’d always come back to Harry. This was just another moment like that.

Harry was glad that Ron had sat with him on the train, that first year. He was . Ron had been a good friend and helped him out in this strange new world. It was a lucky break that the train had been full.

Harry stopped suddenly as he ran through that thought in his head again, wondering what had caused the sudden unease washing through him. Ron had come in, asked to sit down because everywhere else was full. He’d stared at Harry for a moment, before offering his name. He’d been excited about meeting Harry, his entire face lighting up. Nothing about that was strange, so why did Harry feel like he was missing something obvious?

“Everywhere else is full.”

The Hogwarts Express couldn’t possibly have been full. That was what was wrong about that. The train was from the mid-19 th century, a great advance for wizarding kind and the only thing like it. Hermione had once gone on and on about it. Each compartment expanded to fit ten, and, at its building, there were enough carts to fit all years comfortably and then some when needed. And Hermione had once looked up the previous class sizes for the years before the war with Voldemort. The school used to have nearly triple the amount of students it did now. So, there was no possible way for it to have been full.

Harry shook his head, smacking himself. He was exhausted, but that was no reason to start being a paranoid shit. Ron had probably only come across compartments with older students that he didn’t want to sit with. Or maybe the Express had been shortened when the classes got smaller. There were lots of explanations that didn’t involve… whatever Harry had been starting to contemplate. He snorted to himself as he started walking again. Obviously, things were starting to get to him, if he was starting to question everything like some bloody Slytherin.

“You disgrace the title of Heir, and the name Potter.”

Speaking of Slytherins. Harry wasn’t sure what about that line kept it in his head. He’d never heard about any title (besides the cursed Boy-Who-Lived one), and Malfoy had never insinuated the name Potter was anything but a disgrace. Heir . Perhaps that was what bothered Harry. The way Malfoy had said it, as if it was a great honor. Then again, perhaps it had been the entire interaction. Harry and Malfoy argued regularly, about anything and everything. Ever since Harry had turned down Malfoy’s offer of friendship. But that… that had been different. Not only because it had started out with Malfoy offering comfort, of all things (Harry thought he wouldn’t mind another cigarette, it had relaxed him better than anything else) but simply because the way the argument had developed.

Threats, insults, those were all average for them. But to argue about dark and evil? That was new. Malfoy had never tried to defend Slytherins outside of the basic insults that were thrown around. Ron would often call Malfoy a Junior Death Eater, which always got a rise out of him, but it never devolved like it had yesterday.

Malfoy’s face when Harry had asked what he’d ever done to him flashed through his mind. He’d been flushed, and angry, and his gray eyes had been bright with indescribable emotions. But he’d also looked honestly shocked and disappointed, which just confused Harry further.

And his parting words… what could they have possibly meant?

Without conscious thought he found himself turning and heading towards the library, taking only a second to cast a tempus and notice that it was eight and breakfast would be started by now.

Maybe I should eat with Ron first- . He took a sharp breath, because Ron wouldn’t care even if he did notice. Harry figured answers ( and avoiding the students ) was more important than eating breakfast. Besides, he was used to limited meals, missing one wouldn’t kill him.

Mission reaffirmed, he made his way into the blessedly empty library.

“Er,” he began when he got to the front desk. Madam Pince glared at him, and he suddenly remembered all the times he and Ron had gotten kicked out. “Do you, um, do you have any books on genealogy?” It was a long shot, but he figured that focusing on the part of Malfoy’s barb that he could actually understand was the best place to start. Madam Pince gave a few curt directions and promptly went back to whatever she was doing before he dared to interrupt her sanctuary.

As he moved further and further back, he was suddenly worried that he might get lost. He had never come this far back into the stacks, and he wondered if even Hermione had. He snorted at that insane thought; as if Hermione Granger hadn’t explored every inch of this place.

Then again, this entire ordeal was insane and idiotic. Malfoy had just been a git, saying something he thought would get Harry’s boxers in a twist. And look, he was right. Harry had never met his parents, could never know them, but Sirius had been talking to him as much as he could and they often came up, even if Sirius always looked like he was about to cry. Harry liked to think that they would be proud of him, that they wouldn’t think he was a disgrace. As much as sometimes he felt like one.

Right before Harry turned around to head back and chalk up this entire adventure to him being an idiot, he reached the stack Pince had described and a title on a thick, black monstrosity caught his eye.

The Ancient and Noble House Potter.

Despite the ball of unease beginning to drop into his gut, Harry grabbed the large tome and brought it to one of the few, dusty tables that were this deep into the library.

The book hit the table with a heavy thump, the dust shooting into the air causing Harry to cough. While the leather cover had long since darkened to black, the front had a shield, that appeared more as a hexagon with a diamond within it, was stained a dark red. Two golden oaks, edged in green, were mirrored to each other, a black wand separating them. In dark orange letters, the words “Neart na Gcomhghuaillithe” were inscribed under the emblem.

Harry rubbed his hands lightly over the words, wondering what they meant and what language they were in. It didn’t sound like Latin, but he also had no solid basis in any language other than modern English. Taking a deep breath and not knowing why this seemed so very, very , important, he gently flipped the cover open. The first page just showed the same shield and words as the cover, with the words “The Ancient and Noble House Potter” written in neat cursive at the top. He turned the page again, going slowly so as not to damage the crinkling paper, though it was already darkening from age.

His breath caught and he collapsed into a chair when he began reading.


 

Unlike some Olde Families, the Potters can track their History back to the very beginning. Linfred of Stinchcombe, born early in Lady Magick’s year Twelve Thousand Forty-Two, has left behind the impression of an eccentric Potion Master, who spent his years acting as a minor Healer in the area of his home and making incredible advances. Many knew him as “The Potterer”, which later became corrupted into his Noble Family’s name; Potter.

In Lady Magick’s year Twelve Thousand Eighty, Linfred began actively selling the many Healing Potions he created, and, the then only Hundred-Eighty-Three year old Wise Men’s Council, awarded him an Order of High Merlin for his gifts to the Magick World. He was then, not two years later, raised to the rank of Noble. Lord Linfred took two mirrored golden oaks on a field of red as his crest, to symbolize that one must always have the courage to do what they wish, but also the intelligence to know when to stand strong and when to find calmer solutions, even if it means leaning on another. He famously believed that balance was important in life, just as a reflection would show a different angle of yourself, so must you be able to think from different sides. The House Watchwords, Neart na Gcomhghuaillithe, come from an Irish saying that Linfred’s wife, the Lady Aife Potter, once told him; “If you cannot find strength in yourself, find strength in your allies”. Thus the words Neart na Gcomhghuaillithe; Strength of Allies.

In Lady Magick’s year Twelve Thousand Eighty-Seven, Miss Iolanthe Peverell married Lord Linfred’s eldest son, the Heir Apparent Hardwin Potter. As a wedding gift, then Lord Cadmus Peverell of Peverell gained the support of his Most Ancient allies and supported the Potter’s rise to Ancient and Noble.

Since such time, the Ancient and Noble House Potter has allied itself by word, Magick, and matrimony, to various other notable Houses. The House has many Noble and Great members, each written within these pages so that future Lords and Ladies may understand the great past of the House Potter.


 

Barely believing his eyes, Harry flipped the page again, face riveted to the top where, in the same steady script, the name Linfred Potter sat. He continued flipping pages, recognizing some names like Weasley, Abbott, and, a few times, even Malfoy or Greengrass connecting to long lines of Potters. He let his eyes rove, hardly absorbing much until he came to the final page. There, with a strange sense of right , were the words; Lord Jameson Charles Potter, Lady Lily Marigold Potter nee Evans . And below them;

Heir Apparent Hadrian James Potter .


 

It was lunch by the time Harry drew himself away from the tome. It didn’t have much, besides his family tree. A few lines on each member, the dates of birth and death, and their spouse and children. Still though, Harry would never get the chance to know his parents, or any other Potter for that matter (unless he went to the States, where the book said a minor branch lived). It was nice to read about them, to have more details than just names and the same generic lines everyone but Sirius spouted any time he asked about them. Besides, this gave him more than just his parents, as amazing as they were, it told him about family that he hadn’t even thought about. His grandparents, his great-grandparents, his great-uncle, all of these people he had never even thought of outside of the abstract way that he sometimes acknowledged that his parents had their own families outside of Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon. None of them were alive, anymore, all dead during the war with Voldemort or even before then, but it was nice to put names to his ancestors.

He ate quickly, not caring for the stares and sneers that had yet to abate. It wasn’t long before he was making his way back up to the library, ignoring Ron and Hermione completely.

The book sat where he left it, so he reopened it to the first page. As amazing as finding his family tree was, it still hadn’t answered the question of why Malfoy had brought it up. Or why the words Heir Apparent were written before his name. He also had no idea that his full name was Hadrian. Perhaps it was a prank? But, no, no one short of the Twins would do something this complex. It was all far too detailed to be fake.

The Ancient and Noble House Potter . That title seemed important, somehow, but he didn’t recognize it. He stood from the table, returning to the shelf of genealogy books. There were dozens and dozens, each darkened by age but with crests and names. The Most Ancient and Noble House of Malfoy was inscribed on one, and, despite his burning curiosity, Harry stayed far away from it.

He was slowly reading through titles, starting at the bottom and working his way up, when he finally found something he thought might help. The Ancient Tale of the Wise Men’s Council .

Harry took it down, returning his seat and settling in to read the thick tome that smelled of dust and paper and ink. He skimmed through the foreword, mostly stating that the knowledge within is what the authors could piece together from surviving accounts and tales past by word of mouth. It didn’t take him long to turn to the first page and the true introduction.


 

Wizarding history is filled with wars and battles between any number of factions. It was often the case that a powerful wizard would claim land, use their magic to build a Holding and defend said Holding from all others. It was also common for weaker wizards to settle close to those stronger than them and they soon developed a symbiotic relationship. This was essentially the beginning of Noble Houses. And, as is common in all forms of intelligent life, conflicts soon developed between these Most Ancient Lords.

In Lady Magick’s year Nine-Hundred-Ninety-Three, four Heirs of such Lords allied and claimed land to themselves to build what they called a safe-haven, which they named Hogwarts and invited any child to come and learn from them in a safe location. Of course, the Heirs and future of near all of the most important Houses was too tempting for others, and as such, Hogwarts was oft a target. However, Lords Gryffindor and Slytherin were both renowned for their battle skills, and they were always glad to demonstrate such things to any enemies that threatened their school.

In Lady Magick’s year Nine-Hundred-Ninety-Seven, after several attacks on Hogwarts by the Dark Lady Lilianni, the entirety of which was later named the War of Seven Spells, the Lords and Ladies of the twenty-seven most powerful families gathered under a Cease-Fire Ward created by a renowned, but poor, neutral witch. By the end of seven days of negotiations, which later became celebrated as Eirene’s Festival, these twenty-seven families created what was called the Wise Men’s Council, and gifted the witch who had served as the peace keeper a seat as well, thus creating what is now known as the Sacred 28.

Skipping through time, in Lady Magick’s year One-Thousand-Eighty-Six, the Deichead Fulteach , known in English as the Bloody Decade, began. This war was started by a Lady of the Wise Men’s Council known as Morgan Le Fay, against a young wizard from a peasant family by the name Merlin for some slight now lost to time. At the beginning, the Wise Men’s Council stayed out of it, as the slight to one of their numbers meant little to them as a whole. That is, until Merlin joined Arthur Pendragon’s Court.

Arthur Pendragon, then King of Mundane Britain and part of the Norman Invasion, had left the Wise Men’s Council to govern Magicals like his father before him, so long as the Magicals refrained from going after he or his subjects. When Merlin joined his Court, Lady Le Fay became an enemy of the Kingdom, as well. The Wise Men’s Council was quickly dragged into the conflict, each taking sides and bringing whatever allies and vassals that served them along. The war lasted for ten long years, and many of it is now lost despite it only occurring two hundred years in the past from this moment.

By the end of the Bloody Decade, Morgan Le Fay was dead and her only remaining daughter took her title and seat on the Wise Men’s Council, at King Arthur’s mercy. The most profound affect from this war, however, is the merging of Magicals and Mundanes. After Morgan’s death, King Arthur claimed that Magicals, as living on his land, must acknowledge his rule. As they had just finished a devastating war, they wisely sat to negotiations instead of starting another. They came to the agreement that the Wise Men’s Council would sustain self-rule of their people, but obey British law.

Another effect of the Bloody Decade was the forming of two more ranks within the Wise Men’s Council. The first of which, Ancient and Noble, were given to most of the vassals and other allies that helped in the war, many of which were released from their vassal status, though not all. The second rank, Noble, was given to those who did a service to the country, and often were chosen by Merlin himself as he tried to encourage interactions between Magicals and Mundanes. King Arthur, to show his support of Magicals, granted each member a title within his own noble court based on rank in the Wise Men’s Council.

While the Sacred 28 has never been touched due to it being considered the ultimate achievement of wizarding kind, not even when those holding titles were cast out or became antagonists like Morgan Le Fay, there have been many Houses rising and falling within other ranks, each with great Lords and Ladies. It is my hope that other’s may add to these pages future tales and events, to pass on to descendants of these great Witches and Wizards. For this reason, I leave this book to my children, so that in the empty pages that follow my own tales, they may add on to this source of knowledge.

-Lady Cynthia Lovegood, Duchess of Lovegood.


 

Floored, Harry leaned back and rubbed his head. That was… well, that was a lot of information. Le Fay and Merlin were names everyone knew, even Muggleborns that thought them myths. To find out they were real, and played what seemed like such a large role in wizarding society… It was times like these that he wished he had Hermione’s brain, because no doubt she would have sifted through all of that by now and come out with all the important bits. But he was just Harry, so despite the growing itch in the back of his mind that he thought might very well turn into a headache, he flipped through the pages, hoping for something else important might jump out at him.

He found it halfway through the book, on a page dated 1710.


 

Three years prior to this moment, a truly monumental event occurred; Britain formed it’s Ministry of Magic. The Wise Men’s Council, who has long been charged with governing Magicals, has had difficulties in recent years, especially since the Statue of Secrecy of 1692. They have found that the Houses do not have enough manpower or resources to handle the growing population. Before the separation from Muggles (a term coined in the Statue of Secrecy), these Lords and Ladies could rely on their Mundane counterparts’ aide in times of need. Now, however, they find themselves on the brink of collapse.

At King George II’s word, they were absorbed into a new subsection of Muggle rule, known as a Ministry. New policies have been placed, departments have been formed, and entire new laws have been passed. In all of this, however, the Sacred 28 and other Houses have maintained their power, to some degree.

The Wise Men’s Council, now named the Wizangamot, acts as a second layer of judicial and legislation power within the government, called the House of Lords. Several checks and balances have been negotiated so that, while the Ministry of Magic and every Magical is under the King’s Rule, we still retain independence to an acceptable degree. Each member of the Wizangamot also retains their Muggle Noble ranking, despite never making an appearance except in the most dire of circumstances, or ordered directly by His Majesty.

The House of Lords, while not as powerful as it used to be, still maintains a great deal of power and Lords, Ladies and their Heirs will still be honored and respected as their due.

-Heir Neo Lovegood, of Lovegood.


 

Harry flipped the page, but nothing else on that topic was forthcoming. Staring at the book, he wondered what he was supposed to do with this. From what he could understand, even with how much his head was pounding, it seemed to discuss nobles within the government. Which, alright this is still Britain, even if it does do the stereotypical magic things like brooms and pointy hats and waving wands over boiling cauldrons. So, sure. Nobility. Made sense, to some extent. What really bothered him though, was what it all seemed to be suggesting. That he was noble.

He flipped back to the first introduction by Cynthia Lovegood. “… two more ranks within the Wise Men’s Council. The first of which, Ancient and Noble…” He pulled the genealogy book towards him, flipping it open to the first page. The Ancient and Noble House Potter . And before his name, on the last page, Heir Apparent .

“You disgrace the title of Heir, and the name Potter.” Malfoy had said. As if he’d known. Which made absolutely no sense . Harry? A noble? He didn’t know much, but he was pretty certain that noble Heirs didn’t grow up in cupboards or eating two pieces of toast a day. Even if this was true, which he didn’t believe for a moment, why wouldn’t have anyone told him? Sure, he didn’t usually hang out with pureblood supremacists, but this was a central part of the government. Someone should have told him. Or at least mention it in passing.

Then again, isn’t that exactly what Malfoy had done?

Shaking his head, a vain attempt to dispel the growing parasite of a headache, Harry grabbed both books and lugged them towards the library entrance. When he realized dinner had already started, he sped up considerably.

He’d spend some time tomorrow looking through them both a little more, he decided. Try to think and figure out what was happening, what this meant if it even meant anything. He would have answers though. Too much was out of his control, what with the Tournament, his celebrity status, and his latest bout of ostracization. Perhaps, after this is all over, I should just become an ostrich, he mused. It would certainly fit with how the world viewed him, if nothing else. Transfiguration into a bird aside, he would gain control and understanding of at least this small part of his life.

Please don’t complicate my life further , he hoped in vain as he looked at the tomes, large and heavy in his hands.

Chapter Text

Wednesday, November 9th, 1994

Draconus Lucius Malfoy was itching to curse Millicent into oblivion on Wednesday. Of course, because he was a well-bred, pureblood Heir of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Malfoy, he did no such thing and took the elegant way out. Namely, he sent Pansy a glare that told her to get Milly in line and went out for a smoke.

After the disastrous attempt to comfort Potter on Friday (he was still looking in to who had poisoned him and influenced his mind, because there was simply no other plausible reason for him being such an idiot as to try something like that), Malfoy had been in a foul mood and Zabini had taken that to mean it was a good time to make a play. This was, of course, a horrible idea. For Zabini, that is. As much as Malfoy loved his Hogwarts House, there were days when he really wished he didn’t have to play the political game and defend his standing as leader in his year, and, if he could just make prefect and secure some allies in the current fifth year class, a good contender for Slytherin leader after Felix Rosier graduated this year. If he played his cards right, he could be controlling Slytherin for his last three years, just like Father.

Of course, this was assuming he didn’t get sent to Azkaban for murdering Zabini beforehand. Honestly, Zabini was a powerful wizard, extremely intelligent, and, while he didn’t have much in the way of British political power, he did still have several beneficial connections. If only he hadn’t taken offense to a comment Draco made in first year about his mother. Even with Zabini’s antagonistic nature, Draco was still contemplating allying with him. Not to mention, if Zabini joined Draco, then he wouldn’t join Nott who had nearly as much power, money, and connections as Draco and could seriously be in the running for top snake if he would ever stop being a creepy bugger.

As he considered his options for his housemates, he let the sweet taste of mugwort wash over him, the accompanying sage creating a pleasant smell. Perhaps if he reached out to Demetria Rookwood, a currently neutral but absolutely terrifying fifth year prefect. If he could get her to side with him, her friends, each holding the same stance as her but also all petrifying, would follow her lead and his position of power would be guaranteed. That was, nevertheless, a very large if.

His rumination was interrupted rather abruptly when the Twat-Who-Lived barreled around the corner and directly into his haven.

“Potter,” he said, getting his face under control quickly because he would not have a repeat of last time. He was a Slytherin, not a bloody Hufflepuff, and he’d better start acting like it before everything he’d worked for in his House came down around him. “Did it really take you this long to come up with a comeback? I must say, it’s quicker than your usual response time.”

“What did you mean?” the prat demanded, completely ignoring the insult. Perhaps it went over his head? Draco had made it more obvious than he usually would so that the Gryffindork would realize he’d been insulted. Was he overestimating Potter’s intelligence again?

“You’ll have to be more specific than that, I’m afraid. I mean a lot of things,” he finally drawled, after taking another drag. The Prat-Who-Lived could wait if he was just going to barge into Draco’s secret escape like he owned the place.

The beast growled, actually growled at Draco. “Stop being a prat.” When Draco still didn’t respond, because he actually didn’t have any idea what Potter was talking about (not that he’d ever admit that), he finally said, “Last time we spoke you told me I was a disgrace to the title of Heir and the name Potter. What did you mean?”

So that was what this was about. Strange. Draco had never voiced what most believed, that the social disaster that was Harry Potter was a disgrace to everything the Wizangamot and its Lords stood for, mainly because James Potter had been a bloody blood traitor and thus had already disgraced the name. Still, Draco had thought it was about time Potter got his act together and started acting like the Heir he was. Honestly, he turned fifteen this summer and yet he acted as if his title was a joke, a game that he could just ignore and throw away because it wasn’t good enough for the Boy-Who-Lived.

“You’re confused about that? I know your grades are abhorrent, but I hadn’t realized you were that slow.”

Damnit Malfoy!” Potter stalked forward. For half a second, Malfoy thought he might attack him like some muggle, but then Potter decided to be melodramatic and collapse onto a stone bench with a muffled scream. He took several moments to just breathe deeply, and Draco let him, because he honestly had no idea what was happening. “Look,” Potter finally said, the words so quiet that Draco had to stay still and give him his full attention to hear. “I couldn’t get what you said out of my head, so I looked into it.” Looked into it? Wait, was Potter actually so slow he didn’t know what Draco had meant? That was ridiculous. He was Harry Potter. “And- Look, I found some books in the genealogy section of the library and they’re confusing as shit and I really don’t like the conclusion I came to. So, just tell me.” After a moment, he added a hoarse, “Please.” He sounded weary, Draco noted, like he wanted nothing more than to fall asleep and never wake up. And wasn’t that a depressing thought? Still, though, did Potter actually not know who he was?

Draco paused, waiting to see if Potter would jump up and call him a slimy Slytherin (he never did come up with any new insults) or call him an idiot for believing such a lie. Neither happened, and Draco was honestly so surprised that he didn’t even take a moment to go through the potential disadvantages of telling him the truth. Uncle Sev would be so disappointed.

“House Potter is old, not as old as some, but sill old, and powerful. It’s commanded respect for centuries, until your father.” Potter’s head snapped up with a heated glared, but Draco ignored him and spoke before he could object. “Your father threw away many of the traditions of his House and of wizards in general. He married a witch within muggle traditions,” Draco couldn’t quite hide his disgust at the thought, “And was an overall blood-traitor.”

“Just ‘cause he wasn’t a racist git-“

“You wanted an answer, I’m giving it to you. Shut your mouth and listen or get lost,” Draco snapped back. Potter glared and growled lowly again because he was apparently more beast than man, but he didn’t say anything else.

“A lot of Light or Gray Houses don’t hold to blood supremacy, but that doesn’t make them blood-traitors. Do you even know what a blood-traitor is?” Potter didn’t say anything, just pursed his lips and glared sullenly at the wall to Draco’s right. “Of course you don’t. Honestly, did no one teach you anything when you entered the wizarding world?”

“How do you know I didn’t grow up here?”

“Because I’m not an idiot.” Potter switched his glare from the wall to Draco himself, so he figured he’d throw the idiot a bozear. “You spoke parseltongue in front of half the school and didn’t seem to realize what it meant, you had no idea who I was when we met, you never showed up in public or were even sighted before first year, you gape at every new piece of magic you see and the first time I met you you were wearing hideous clothes that were obviously muggle. Not to mention when you talk to Gryffindork Two and Three you don’t try to keep shit quiet, so the rumor has been going around since first year.” Potter frowned, but Draco couldn’t tell whether that was because his “secret” was out to the whole school, because he’d insulted his friends, or because Draco’s blunt approach. Ugh, Draco being blunt. Clearly, he was spending too much time talking to Gryffindors.

“So what does blood-traitor actually mean then?” Potter finally asked.

“A blood-traitor is someone who throws away wizarding traditions and turns their back on wizarding culture. The Weasleys, for example.” Which, while Draco had known this since he was young, he hadn’t understood it till second year, when he’d made the mistakes of shouting about mudbloods in the middle of a crowded hall.

“You can’t insult someone just because they think your world needs to advance beyond blood supremacy and muggle baiting.”

“I’m surprised you even know what muggle baiting is. But again, a lot of families think we should accept muggleborns and still hold on to their culture. This isn’t a one or the other situation.”

Potter seemed to mull over that and, despite the mien of distaste he bore, nodded and gestured for Draco to resume. Draco sneered, because honestly, commanding a Malfoy? As if. He did, however, continue, because this was revealing more about Potter than the prat probably realized. Not to mention it would be interesting to see where this ended up.

“Like I was saying, House Potter is old and politically powerful. Not only are you the Heir but you are also the last member of House Potter and that means you are the only one representing it. In the three and change years that you have been in the wizarding world, you have ignored wizarding traditions, even the ones of your own House, made enemies of several of the most powerful families, and been a general disgrace. And let us not forget that you have refused any and all invitations to social events. Well, refused is a polite word. Ignored is more apt.”

“Wait,” Potter said, sitting up straight and waving his hands in the air like some sort of demented monkey. “What do you mean invitations?”

“What do you think I mean? The Malfoy Yule Ball, the Greengrass Lughnasadh Festival, the Abbott Lithia Feast. We all send you invitations every year and you never respond, even to say you can’t, or won’t, make it. It’s extremely rude.”

“Malfoy,” Potter said very slowly, as if Draco was the idiot here. “I have never, not once, gotten an invitation to anything of the sort.” Draco paused, narrowing his eyes. Potter’s face was open and slack, confusion dancing in his bright green eyes. He didn’t seem to be lying. Not to mention Potter couldn’t lie to save his life, the bloody Gryffindor.

Of course, if he wasn’t lying than that meant…

“What do you mean you’ve never gotten them?!”

“I’ve never gotten any letter from anyone besides Hermione, the Weasleys, and my Hogwarts letters.”

“That’s…” Draco ran through that again. Harry Potter, never getting any letters. That was absurd. “What about the fan mail?”

“Fan mail?” He asked blankly because he was an absolute moron.

“You defeated the Dark Lord. Everyone has been sending you fan mail since you were a babe.” No need to tell him that Draco himself had sent a letter when he’d been four, thanking him for freeing Father from the Imperius. Oh, how Draco wished he could go back to those simpler days where the truth wasn’t a cruel mistress.

“I never got anything of the sort. And I would’ve noticed if my Aunt and Uncle were burning copious amounts of mail.” They both fell silent, and Draco ground out his last cigarette. Distantly, the part of his brain that wasn’t losing it over the fact that Potter’s mail had apparently been going missing for a decade, noted he’d need to get his mother to send him more cigarettes. He wondered if he could ask her what she thought about the mail. Potter was right about one thing, no way did muggles make it disappear. They wouldn’t have the power. Which left wizards, but seeing as Potter only had distant relatives that he apparently refused to live with and thus didn’t have custody of him, there really was no one who-

Except the fact that every wizarding child, even muggleborns, had a magical guardian.

“Who’s your magical guardian?” Draco asked suddenly, an idea beginning to form in the back of his mind. It didn’t make much sense, not yet, but any puzzle piece helped to form the picture.

“I don’t have one.”

“So Dumbledore then.”

“What?”

Draco sighed, because apparently Potter really had no idea about what was happening around him. “Every magical child has to have a magical guardian. It’s the law in case anything happens, and you need to be told your rights, as muggles have absolutely no say in anything that happens here. The Headmaster of Hogwarts becomes the de-facto magical guardian of any orphans or muggleborns when they’re in the wizarding world. That means you as well.”

“Alright,” Potter said slowly, nodding. “Makes some sense, I guess. But what does that have to do with the mail?”

He’s honestly just that stupid, Draco thought, does he ever bother to think?

“It matters,” he actually said, because calling Potter an idiot wouldn’t help the situation no matter how apt the description. “Because the most plausible explanation for you not getting any mail would be for someone to have put a Re-Direct Mail Ward on you, which would be done most easily by your magical guardian.”

There was a beat of silence as Potter no doubt absorbed the information into his tiny rat brain before, “Why would Dumbledore try to keep mail from me? That doesn’t make sense.”

Taking the time to observe Potter, Draco contemplated how to respond. Potter seemed honestly confused but not suspicious, which meant he hadn’t considered any of the options Draco had. Namely, Dumbledore wanted to keep Potter away from the wizarding world as much as possible. Which, considering Potter hadn’t learned about the wizarding world until first year, and even now didn’t know anything about the culture, seemed very likely. The real question then became why would the Headmaster want his perfect Golden Boy naïve and blind to his own heritage? Somehow though, Draco thought telling Potter that his hero wanted him stupid was not the way to go. Better to let him come to that conclusion on his own.

“You tell me,” he said instead. He watched as Potter thought about it, his face scrunched up and his eyes unusually dark. It was interesting, watching Potter work it out. The way he went from fidgeting to unnaturally still in a few moments, the way his eyes went from narrowed confusion to wide shock and disbelief. Whatever conclusion Potter came to was clearly unsatisfactory, though, because Potter just shook his head.

“I don’t know.” Draco didn’t believe that, and by the sound of it, neither did Potter. He went on, however, before Draco could question him about it. “Malfoy,” he said hesitantly, eyes down on his hands. “You-“ he cleared his throat, before starting again, with a little more strength. Gryffindor courage taking over, no doubt. “You’re an Heir as well, right?” It was more rhetorical, so Draco didn’t bother to interrupt. “I was reading a couple books I found in the library and they made it seem like a big deal. And as much as you’re a giant git, you clearly know more about what that means then I do. So, could… could you teach me? Could you tell me what my title means and what exactly I’m expected to be doing with it?” Potter looked up and met Draco’s eyes, full of hope and apprehension.

Draco couldn’t actually believe his ears. He almost said no, because this was Harry Potter, the same boy who had shoved aside his offer of friendship. This was Harry Potter, the boy who let his friend call elven year-olds Junior Death Eaters and spat at anyone who wore green and silver. Almost being the operative word. Of course, this was Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, Heir of the Ancient and Noble House Potter. For him to come to Draco for lessons… if Draco could teach him, and teach him right, if Draco could show him how to act like a proper wizard and maybe, just maybe get Potter indebted to him… The power Draco could get from this was immense.

“You will meet me here every Tuesday and Thursday after classes, as well as on Sundays after breakfast. You will not tell anybody I am helping you, and you will listen to me without interruptions. If I am going to do this, it will be thorough, it will be hard, and you have to keep an open mind about what I tell you, so no prejudices against pureblood culture. Understood?”

Potter looked shocked Draco was agreeing, which, alright, fair. He nodded, though he added on, “You can’t lie to me though. And you can’t force me to believe in something if it actually is evil or cruel. I want to make my own decisions on everything.”

That was…actually well thought out. Draco was surprised he knew how to make deals without selling his own soul or something. “Agreeable. I will tell you the truth,” just perhaps not the full truth, “and teach you everything you should’ve learned as a child. I will also let you make your own opinions on everything so long as you keep an honest open mind and actually listen to me.” Potter nodded, so Draco did as well and added. “So mote.” When Potter looked confused, he rolled his eyes. “First lesson, when you make a deal with someone, you close it by saying ‘so mote’. It’s short for ‘so mote it be’.” Potter nodded again.

He took a deep breath, as if this was some Dark contract saying he was signing his soul to the Devil and not just an agreement to learn more about his culture from his school rival. No similarities. At all.

“So mote.”

Chapter Text

Sunday, November 6th, 1994

Harry spent Sunday reading the two books in more detail. The Potter genealogy book didn’t have much in the way of pertinent information, even if it was interesting, so he focused more on the other one.

This seemed to be the way to go, because on the second page he found a list of the Sacred 28. Many of the names were familiar, which wasn’t that surprising, but one in specific stuck out.

Most Ancient and Noble House of Black.

Which meant Sirius was from a noble family. And considering he had said he was the last Black… that would mean it was likely Sirius himself was a Lord. If being an escaped convict didn’t negate that, which was possible.

But if Sirius was also a Lord, than he would probably know about Harry and what all this meant. And yet he’d said nothing about it. No mention of it.

What Harry wanted to know was why? Why had no one told him any of this? Why was History of Magic taught by a ghost too stuck in the past to be of use, instead of telling them about the founding of the Wizangamot and the government that ruled them? Why did Harry have no idea that he held a title, even if he had no idea what that title meant?

Why had Sirius, the one adult who seemed to genuinely care about him, not mentioned this at all? Given, perhaps it was simply a factor of time. Sirius had contacted him by owl, saying he was staying close in case something happened and Harry could contact him any time, but besides that they had only exchanged a handful of letters. So, alright. Sirius probably hadn’t thought to ask about this in their correspondences. Would he answer my questions? Harry wondered. Sirius had told him that he’d do anything for Harry. But even Harry knew, despite minimal contact, that Sirius hated his family. He’d learned that in third year.

After wondering about it for a few more seconds, Harry came to a decision and brought out a piece of parchment. Even the chance of Sirius getting mad didn’t eradicate Harry’s desire for answers. He just really hoped Sirius didn’t get mad.

(For half a moment, a memory flashed through Harry’s mind. He’d been five, and asked his aunt and uncle about his mum. That was the first time his uncle had beaten him, truly beaten him. A trickle of fear filled Harry wondering if Sirius would get as angry as Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon did when he asked questions. Sirius always seemed so kind, but Uncle Vernon was always polite when in front of others. Everyone could fake politeness.

Harry shook the thoughts off, refusing to give his aunt and uncle anymore power over him than they already had. Just because they were abusive arseholes didn’t mean everyone was. Still, Harry was careful with the wording of his letter.)

Snuffles,

I’ve recently come across some information and I have questions that need answers. Desperately. You once said you were close, and now I wonder how close? These aren’t the type of things that should be shouted at a flame, or written on parchment. I need to speak with someone and you’re the only one I trust right now.

Please, H.P.

Hedwig was happy to have a job, and flew off with the letter with an affectionate nibble. With nothing better to do, Harry returned to reading, wondering if Sirius was as close as he claimed.


 

Monday, November 7th, 1994

The next day, Harry was glad to see Hedwig land before him at breakfast, stealing his bacon as she dropped a letter. With a few pats to his most loyal friend, he grabbed some toast and scrambled out of the hall, ignoring the suspicious look Ron was giving him.

Sirius’s response was short and filled Harry with an odd mix of excitement and dread.

Harry,

Clearly you don’t want to give me details, but that’s alright. Discretion can be important, even if it does make me worry. I would never lie to you, and I am closer than you probably think. I’m trusting your discretion again, though, and hope you’ll meet me tomorrow night at the place we first spoke.

S.

Now all he had to do was make it through two days of classes without exploding. Easy.


 

Tuesday, November 8th, 1994

It wasn’t easy.

Harry would’ve sworn to Merlin that time slowed down just to make him mad. Between Trelawney predicting his death Monday afternoon and Snape actually trying to produce his death via glares and sneers on Tuesday, Harry could barely stop himself from drawing his wand.

In any spare moment he had between classes and homework, he was reading more about the Wizangamot. There were so many things that the book left blank, though. Like what exactly an Heir was meant to do, and how different families with the same title ranked against each other. Or how Harry was meant to learn all of this. The book seemed to assume he should know, which was simply frustrating. It mostly had stories on different Houses and how they made their names, as well as some interesting bits on Family Magicks that he didn’t really understand, and the evolution of the Wizangamot.

By the time curfew hit on Tuesday, he was practically vibrating with nerves and excitement. Nonetheless, he got changed and pretended to get in bed, waiting impatiently for everyone to fall asleep. When he was sure all his roommates were breathing deeply and snoring loudly, he crept out and threw a robe on, before grabbing his cloak.

It wasn’t difficult to make it out to the Willow with the help of the Marauder’s Map, and a well-aimed rock guaranteed him access to the passage. By the time he entered the Shrieking Shack, it was five minutes past midnight, and he pulled the cloak away just as he heard an excited bark. Harry turned, only to go down hard when a black beast better known as Padfoot tackled him.

“Ugh, gettaf!” After much pushing, and licking, Harry was finally freed, and Sirius transformed with a grin.

“Harry!” Sirius pulled him into a hug, but Harry felt himself stiffen. He wasn’t used to physical contact that wasn’t negative. Hermione and Mrs. Weasley hugged him a lot, and never seemed to notice how uncomfortable it made him, but that was really the only affection he received. After growing up with the Dursleys, where every touch was filled with pain, it always shocked him how easily some people shared casual affection like this.

Sirius, apparently paying more attention than anyone else ever did, pulled back quickly. “You alright?”

Harry shrugged as he stepped back, uncomfortable with his godfather’s clever eyes on him. “Not used to hugs is all.” Gray eyes scanned him from head to toe with narrowed scrutiny, but whatever conclusion Sirius came to was kept silent and he only stepped back and sat on the ground, ignorant to all the dust he was getting over himself.

“Well, I won’t hug you if it makes you uncomfortable.” There was a moment of silence while Harry was filled with gratitude he couldn’t quite put into words and instead tried to convey with his eyes. He must have done something right for once, because Sirius just smiled and patted the space in front of him until Harry joined him on the dirty wooden floor. “Now, you sounded worried, so why don’t you tell me what was so important that we couldn’t floo?”

Taking a deep breath, Harry tried to push down all his nervousness that came bubbling up. In the last five seconds Sirius had proven himself trustworthy and caring, even if one ignored everything else about Sirius. Besides, he had asked for this meeting, even going so far as begging his wanted convict of a godfather to meet him face to face despite the risk. Harry could do this. It was just a few simple questions.

Oh Merlin, why couldn’t he do this? Sirius wasn’t anything like his uncle. There were absolutely no comparisons to make. Harry managed to be around adults all the time without reverting back to who he’d been before Hogwarts. Harry didn’t want to be weak and scared, and he’d been getting better since first year. He still didn’t like asking many questions, but he could manage it. And he knew Sirius wouldn’t hurt him. Yet Harry couldn’t help but stiffen and prepare to shrink into himself even as he tried to gather whatever Gryffindor courage was in him to finally speak.

“I-“ He took a few more deep breaths, keeping his eyes directed to Sirius’s chest, avoiding his eyes but still able to see when- if he moved. “I found a genealogy book on the Potters. It- it mentioned something, a title. When I looked into it more, it made it seem as if the Potters were nobility of sorts, and that just doesn’t make sense, right?” Harry looked up, risking meeting Sirius’s eyes. He seemed confused, his nose scrunched up and head tilted to the side.

“Wait, are you saying you didn’t know about your status as an Heir of an Ancient and Noble House?”

“So it’s real?!” They both stared at each other for a few moments before Sirius released a series of curses so colorful Harry blushed.

“Sorry, sorry,” Sirius finally muttered when he got himself under control. “But Merlin, I can’t believe this. Are you saying you don’t even have your Heir ring?”

Harry, even more confused but glad Sirius didn’t seem to be mad at him, just shook his head. “I don’t even know what that is.”

“Right, you were raised by muggles, weren’t you?”

“Uh, yeah?”

“And when you entered Hogwarts, did no one explain your title and rights to you? Probably would’ve been the teacher that brought you your letter.”

“Uh, no one brought me my letter. Well, not at first. When I never responded to the initial one, they sent me a bunch and eventually Hagrid came and took me shopping.” Sirius stared blankly at him for a second.

“Hagrid? As in the gamekeeper?”

Feeling defensive, Harry sat up straighter. “Hagrid is a good friend!”

“I don’t doubt that, he was a friend of ours as well,” Sirius held his hands up in peace. “But he has no business introducing an Heir to the wizarding world. Someone familiar with the Wizangamot should’ve done that. Or, at least Dumbledore should’ve told you about this since then.”

Harry shrugged, uncomfortable. “Well, no one really tells me anything.”

“I’d just assumed you were like your dad and that’s why it’s never come up. Right,” Sirius ran a hand through his long hair and Harry took a moment to register that he had found a way to bathe properly and get better clothes, even if he was still dirty and thin. “Right,” he said again with a decisive nod. “Well, do you know about the three ranks and what the Wizangamot actually is?”

“Yeah. The Wizangamot is basically the House of Lords- meaning they handle legislation and occasional trials- and within which there is three ranks. House Potter is Ancient and Noble, the second highest.” Harry paused, before adding slowly, “And House Black is Most Ancient and Noble.”

“House of Black,” Sirius corrected with a snort, “But yes, that’s basically it.”

“What do you mean ‘of Black’?”

“Any House that’s Most Ancient and Noble is addressed as House of and then whatever family. A House that’s Ancient and Noble is just ‘House Blank’. Any Noble Houses are addressed as ‘Family’ instead of House. It’s just a way to differentiate.”

Harry rubbed his eyes, a headache quickly developing. “I don’t understand why I was never told about any of this. If I’m nobility, shouldn’t I have been trained in, I don’t know, manners and law and stuff?”

“Yes,” Sirius looked uncomfortable but seemed just as determined to continue as Harry. “Your father… he hated all of this stuff. Called it nonsense and said he wished he’d never been born an Heir. He claimed the Potter Lordship just long enough to name Dumbledore his Proxy and then turned his back on the entire thing. It was… frowned upon to handle it like that, but no one could change his mind.”

“Not even you?” Harry asked, because Sirius hadn’t gotten mad at him and he was finally relaxing around him. Besides, Harry had started this so he would damn well finish it. Even if he did rub his hands on his pants to get rid of the sweat.

“No. But by that point I was long estranged from my family, even if Grandfather never officially disowned me and thus never removed my status as Heir. I didn’t hold much power, couldn’t with Grandfather still alive and Lord, and I refused some of the traditions and responsibilities but not all of them.” Sirius barked a rough laugh. “The old man finally died in ’91. I guess that makes me Lord Black now. Maybe I’ll claim my Lord ring. Wonder if I can get access to the vaults that way.” Harry didn’t understand some of that, but Sirius seemed to be talking more to himself anyway, so Harry just moved on.

“So… what exactly do I do?”

“I…” Sirius ran a hand down his face, looking older than his years all of a sudden. “It’s your choice Harry. It’ll always be your choice.” Harry felt an unexpected warmth. When was the last time he’d been given a choice, a real choice? “But if you want to learn more about it, on how an Heir should act and the responsibilities you’ll hold when you come of age and become a Lord, you’ll need someone that can teach you more often than I can.” Sirius looked devasted, Harry noted, as if what he was saying physically pained him. “I want to Harry, I really do, but as long as I’m a wanted man I can’t risk you getting hurt because of me. I can tell you about the traditions specific to the Potters that I know about via letter as well as…” Sirius trailed off again, looking conflicted.

Harry sat forward, reaching out to place what he hoped was a comforting hand on Sirius’s shoulder. Somehow, this felt completely unnatural, as if someone else should be doing it. “As well as what, Siri?” The nickname was spur of the moment, but Sirius gave a smile that was only slightly tinged with madness. Clearly, he was doing something right. That or Sirius was just getting better with time, which was a comforting thought.

“As well as the traditions about the Blacks.” Harry didn’t understand what he meant, so he said as much. Sirius seemed to think this was highly important, because he grabbed Harry’s hands and held him in front of him, speaking slowly. “When you were born, it was the happiest day of all our lives. I’ve never found anyone I was willing to settle down with, but I knew with the war happening, and Grandfather getting older, that it was very likely one or both of us would die and someone else would need to become Heir Black. As I didn’t have any children of my own, it was likely it would’ve passed to any children Narcissa had, and I couldn’t let the Death Eaters get any more power.”

“What did you do?” Sirius met Harry’s eyes, and he seemed to be begging for something, though Harry had no idea what. There was a weight to the air, and Harry wondered if this was the kind of conversation that changed lives. For some reason, he thought this would change his.

“I begged your father to let me perform a blood adoption ritual. It took a while, but he agreed.”

“A what?”

“Blood adoption ritual,” Sirius repeated, but he began babbling, talking quickly as if getting all the words out would solve everything. “It’s highly illegal Harry, and considered Dark, but it was the only way I could think to guarantee the Family Magicks accepting you as the next Heir.” When Harry was still silent, he added quietly, “It basically means I became a biological third parent to you, that you’re a Black as well as a Potter.”

“You…” Harry trailed off, his mind blanking for a moment. “You’re my dad?”

“Technically. But James will always be your real dad and I don’t expect anything from you and as your godfather I would’ve been like an honorary parent anyway so really-“

“Sirius.” His mouth snapped shut with a click, but Harry was too busy having a minor freak out. He had a parent. Not just a godfather, but an actual parent. A mad, escaped convict and only biological because of magic, but a lot happened just because of magic and Harry accepted all of that.

Some part of Harry yearned to just throw himself into Sirius’s arms and sob. It had been years since he’d stopped dreaming of his parents one day coming back and taking him away from the Dursleys, especially after he learned the truth of their deaths. Yet here he was, with the only adult who had ever shown he cared about Harry, telling him that Sirius was technically his father.

Was it wrong that he wanted this? A betrayal to James and Lily? Would Sirius even want Harry as a son, considering everything Harry was and what was expected of him? Could he even ask?

“I…” Harry licked his lips and swallowed more heavily. “I need to think.” Yes, think. Take some time to let the world stop spinning around him. Find some dark hidden nook in Hogwarts and let his thoughts sort themselves out so he could actually come to a decision.

When Harry focused enough to actually take in Sirius, he saw that his godfather (father?) was looking distraught for all of three seconds before he smiled. It looked particularly forced. “Yeah. This has been a lot to take in, I’m sure. Did I answer all of your questions, at least?”

Harry nodded as he stood on shaky legs and made his way over to the trapdoor. When Sirius cleared his throat, though, he paused half in the tunnel.

“Look, Harry, I…” Sirius took another deep breath. “Whatever decision you make, I’ll support you no matter what. And I’ll give you time and space to think just- When you do make a choice, whatever it may be, just send me a letter. I’ll be staying in a little cave not far from Hogsmeade.” Harry gave another jerky nod and disappeared down the tunnel and back to his dorm.


 

Wednesday, November 9th, 1994

The following day Harry floated through his classes, letting his mind wander. He didn’t come to any conclusions on what he should do so, when it came time for his last class of the day (History) he headed away from the throngs of students and into the back hallways that were often empty, mostly because they led to the unused second astronomy tower. It wasn’t like Binns would notice, anyway.

Sirius was his father. He was the Heir to two noble Houses. And no one, no one, had told him. Harry didn’t blame Sirius for not bringing it up, considering he’d clearly expected Harry to take after his father (James, his first father, because he apparently had two) and they really hadn’t talked much beyond a few letters after school started up again. As for Dumbledore though…

Harry didn’t understand what was so wrong about him knowing his status that the Headmaster had to keep it a secret. He wasn’t surprised that he’d never heard it from his classmates, Ron hated anything to do with purebloods and Hermione was a muggleborn, and those were the only people he really talked to. Which, now that he took a moment to consider it, was actually really depressing. No wonder he was currently friendless.

This all meant, of course, that Dumbledore should’ve told him, and didn’t.

Then again, the only one who had brought this up to him was Draco Bloody Malfoy. Who, according to the books Harry had, was part of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Malfoy. The same rank of the House of Black, of which Harry was the Heir.

Right, Harry was so far beyond over his head. He needed answers and, as far as he could see, there was only one way to get them.

Sometimes, he really wished his life was less complicated.


 

Catching Malfoy right after dinner was honestly easy. He just headed for the place he’d seen him last, which was the smoking nook and lo and behold.

The conversation actually went better than he’d expected. Well, except when Malfoy asked him about his opinion on Dumbledore. The truth is, the fact that Dumbledore simply wanted him naïve and unaware for his own machinations had occurred to Harry during his wanderings. He’d simply pushed it off, shoved it aside with all the other stupid thoughts he had. It seemed so impossible for Albus Dumbledore to want to lie to him like that. But with Malfoy staring at him expectantly, his gray eyes curious and clever, Harry was faced with the fact that he simply couldn’t find another reason for why Dumbledore wouldn’t tell him the truth. Which just made him wonder; what was Dumbledore playing at?

It was that question, perhaps, that seedling of doubt and dissension with the man Harry had thought was looking out for him, that made him ask Malfoy for help. He hadn’t planned on it, but there was no one else for him to ask. Harry didn’t know what he’d do about the situation with Sirius (his father), but he could at least get answers about what he his titles meant.

Answers had never seemed like something so important before, but now they were in his reach and Harry found himself wanting them, needing them. How many times had he been told something and never looked into it, he wondered? If Dumbledore had lied about this (even if the lie was just by omission) then what else had he lied about? So Harry had asked Malfoy for help, and he pushed aside all questions about Malfoy’s motives because Harry was using him so who cared if Malfoy was using Harry?

Even if he did feel like he had sold his soul for lessons in conduct and comportment with his archrival.

Chapter Text

Thursday, November 10th, 1994

Harry approached the meeting spot with no little trepidation. He was meeting Draco Malfoy for lessons in conduct and, more than likely, snobbishness. So much for this being an uneventful year, especially considering that horrid article Rita Skeeter released that morning.

As he wasn’t sure about Malfoy’s eating habits, Harry had assumed he’d get there first and be forced to wait for the Slytherin. Thus, he was surprised when he turned the corner and found Malfoy already sitting down, a book in his lap and no cigarette to be seen, for once.

“Malfoy.”

“The proper way to greet someone that you’re not friends with is ‘well met’. For example; well met, Potter. Notice I don’t add a title, that’s because we’ve spent enough time together, even if it was as enemies, that it’d be too formal for me to use your title. If we hadn’t had any prior encounters besides a basic introduction, I’d address you as ‘Heir Potter’ until given permission to drop the formality.” So they were getting right into this. Joy.

Malfoy was giving him an expectant look so he said dutifully, “Well met, Malfoy.” Malfoy nodded so Harry dropped into the seat across from him, earning a sneer but Harry went on before Malfoy could bring up whatever new nastiness he had in mind. “You’ve never said that to me before, why not?”

Malfoy rolled his eyes and mumbled something that Harry thought was “Daft Gryffindors” but ignored. See, he could be polite and avoid confrontation. Sometimes.

“The reason,” Malfoy continued louder, “Is that to forgo the polite greeting is a direct snub. It’s considered very rude. Not that you registered that over the years, mind you.” Harry nodded again, leaning back against the wall and getting comfortable.

Malfoy sneered again but Harry didn’t think he’d get away with ignoring this one so he asked, “What, Malfoy?”

“While I realize now that you’ve never had any lessons in comportment, your posture is so atrocious that I wonder if you were raised by wolves.”

“No, just muggles,” Harry shot back, “But I suppose there’s no difference between the two for you.”

Malfoy opened his mouth, seemed to realize whatever he was about to say would just devolve the situation further, and closed it with a snap. Even while he glared at Harry, Malfoy just took a few deep breaths to calm himself. When he spoke again, it was slow and quiet, and Harry wondered how close Malfoy was to just snapping and drawing his wand. Probably as close as Harry was.

“I’m going to begin by teaching you posture and the traditional greetings for the various ranks. I expect even you’ll be able to handle that much?” Harry pursed his lips and contemplated just calling quits to this right now and storming off. The prospect of Malfoy insulting him every other sentence while telling him he was a failure wasn’t his idea of a good evening. But then he remembered why he was here, that he wouldn’t have to do this if only people had been honest and taught him this as a child.

So Harry took a deep breath, much as Malfoy had done, and put on his big boy pants. 

“First of all,” Malfoy began, “Never slouch, always keep your shoulders back and your head tilted up. The only time your head should be bowed is when greeting someone of higher rank than you.” Malfoy gave Harry a pointed look so he sat up, placing both legs on the ground and mirroring Malfoy’s position. He almost wanted to stay slouched, just to prove he could, but he had been the one to ask for these lessons and they had an agreement. Harry would try, at least, and posture didn’t seem like the type of battle he should fight.

“So a Lord or Lady?”

“Yes. Or an Heir of a Most Ancient House. Or an Heiress of any rank, simply because it’s polite.”

“Wait,” Harry held up a hand, “Wouldn’t it be polite to lower the head for an Heir as well? Why only witches?”

Malfoy’s face twitched, as if he wanted to sneer as usual but managed to restrain himself. “Because,” he drawled instead, “Witches are a great gift. Have you noticed that there are more wizards than witches in Hogwarts?”

“Uh,” Harry tried to picture the Great Hall, “Yeah, a little. It wasn’t such a huge difference that it seemed important though.”

Malfoy rolled his eyes, “No, I suppose you wouldn’t realize such a thing. For whatever reason, two magicals are more likely to have a son, than a daughter. For older Houses, it’s also more likely for the Family Magicks,” Harry must have made a face because Malfoy said, “We’ll get to that later. Anyway, it’s more likely for Family Magicks to choose a wizard as an Heir than a witch, even if the witch is older. It’s actually improving, again no one knows why, but there has been a noticeable boost in the birth of witches since the last few years of the last war. It’s why you’ll find an unusual amount of Heiresses in our year. Witches are also important because without them our kind would die out. Which is why, when you greet one, it’s customary to kiss the air above their hand.” That was actually really sensible. Harry had noticed there was really no difference in the treatment of women versus men in the wizarding world, unlike with muggles where women were still fighting for more equal rights, but it had never occurred to him to question it. Harry wondered if Hermione knew, and what she would think of it.

“Alright, so what is the proper way to greet,” he made a vague gesture with his hand, “Well, everyone I guess.”

“If at all possible, it’s customary to let someone else introduce you, usually someone that has already been introduced to all parties involved. When greeting groups, you always greet those of highest rank before moving on. Start with the Lady of Most Ancient Houses, their Heirs, the Lords of Most Ancient Houses, their Heirs, than move on to Ancient Houses and finally Noble Houses. Heirs always follow immediately after their Lord or Lady was introduced.” Harry rubbed his head but nodded along. It made sense, and wasn’t that hard to remember the order. He had a feeling it would get more complicated, though. Malfoy, for once, was glad to prove him right.

“A Most Ancient Lord is introduced as ‘The Right Honorable Duke-‘ first and last name, ‘of-‘ their House. If it’s a Lady, than she’s addressed as Duchess. Their Heir would be ‘The Honorable Heir-‘ first and last name, ‘of-‘ their House. If it’s a witch, she’s addressed as an Heiress. For Ancient Lords, it’s ‘The Noble Earl-‘ first and last names, ‘of House-‘ their House. A Lady is a Countess. Their Heir or Heiress is ‘The Good Heir-‘ first and last names, ‘of House-‘ their House. Finally, the Noble Houses are introduced as ‘Baron-‘ only their first names, ‘of the-‘ the House they’re from, ‘Family’. Their Heir or Heiress follow the same pattern.” For some reason, Harry had the ridiculous urge to take notes, but decided that may be taking it too far.

“And if there is no one to introduce us?”

“I hadn’t realized you were capable of asking so many questions, Potter.” Probably because he didn’t ask questions in class but was comfortable enough to speak his mind around his own classmates. Ugh, he was comfortable around Malfoy. What had the world come to?

As saying any of this was so far out of the question it may as well live on Jupiter, Harry instead said, “I want all the information so I can make my own decisions.” Malfoy narrowed his eyes and tilted his head. He seemed to be searching for something, but Harry didn’t know what. The silence drew on, and Harry shifted uncomfortably. Having Malfoy analyze him like this was nearly painful.

Finally, Malfoy nodded slowly. “I was getting there. Keep your patience, Potter.

“A Most Ancient Lord will introduce themselves with their full name followed by their rank and House. Same for their Heir. For example, I’d introduce myself as Draco Malfoy, the Heir of Malfoy. Ancient Lords use their rank before their full names, followed by their House. As an Heir, you would introduce yourself as ‘Heir Harry Potter, of House Potter’. Noble Lords use the same greeting as Ancient Lords, except they only say their first name, and use the word Family, instead of House.”

Harry mulled over a thought for a moment before deciding answers were worth bringing it up. “And what about Heirs or Lords to more than one House?”

Malfoy raised a brow but answered easily. “It’s rare because Family Magicks don’t like mixing much, so usually if two Heirs marry, they’ll have more than one child so the Magicks can chose separate Heirs. In the event someone actually is an Heir or Lord of two Houses, they would introduce themselves with the one of the higher rank first. If both titles are of the same rank, than whichever title you identify more with would be the one introduced first.” Malfoy took another moment to regard Harry, but soon moved on to showing the proper bows and greetings. There were a few awkward moments when Malfoy had Harry act as if he was a witch so as to demonstrate, but they moved on quickly and both politely ignored the light pink on their faces.

Two hours passed quickly and soon Malfoy was standing up and calling an end to the evening. “Here,” Malfoy said, thrusting out the book he’d had with him. “It lists all of the Houses, their current Lords, Heirs, and notable family members. Memorize it for Sunday.”

“I didn’t realize there would be homework involved,” Harry scowled as he took the book.

Malfoy just rolled his eyes, and Harry wondered if he ever got tired of doing that. “You need to be able to recognize all of the important names. If you don’t want to put in the work, fine.”

“No,” Harry said quickly. He wanted answers, he reminded himself, and if this is how he got them, then so be it. “I’ll do it, don’t worry.” Malfoy nodded and turned.

Before Malfoy could walk away though, Harry reached out to stop him. “Uh, thanks Malfoy.” Malfoy blinked, and Harry dropped his arm quickly. He got another strange look from Malfoy, and Harry wondered if he was as weirded out by this entire evening as Harry was. Somehow, they hadn’t ended up attacking each other, and they kept the peace, even if it was cool and polite and so very, very, strange.

“I’ll see you Sunday after breakfast, Potter. Merry part.”

“Merry part,” Harry parroted, because it didn’t take a genius to figure out Malfoy led by example. He gained an approving nod for his troubles, and was soon left alone in nook, the light of torches his only company until he made the slow trek back to Gryffindor Tower alone.


Friday, November 11th, 1994

Draco did his best to push thoughts of Thursday evening out of his head. With Pansy to one side of him and Vincent and Greg on the other, not to mention the rest of the Common Room filled with snakes, it would be a horrible mistake to be distracted. Even if he couldn’t quite get Potter’s voice (or face) out of his head. Even if he did trust Pansy and Vincent and Greg had been pulling away lately.

It was unusual to ask about members with more than one title, especially considering it was such a rarity. Though Potter obviously didn’t know that, he was still far too invested in Draco’s answer when he’d asked. Honestly, Draco wondered how Gryffindors went around with their emotions just written across their faces. Didn’t they know that was the number one way to get taken advantage of?

Draco,” Pansy whined from his side, leaning heavily on his arm, “You’re staring blankly again, are you as confused as I am?” Draco allowed himself a single blink to bring himself back to the present. This was exactly why he couldn’t space out. Pansy’s eyes, so often described as simpering but hiding ruthless intelligence were far too steady as they locked on him. He didn’t even have to glance at her transfiguration paper to know that the line about being confused was hippogriff dung. Pansy Parkinson may not be at the top of her classes, and her wand work was often mediocre, but her grasp of theory was perfect and she had enough dirt on any given member of Hogwarts to get anything she wanted. She was, Draco considered, his greatest resource. And also a very good friend. When he wasn’t trying to keep the fact he had Harry Bloody Potter on his mind a secret, that is.

“I do so wonder,” he drawled, because he had to say something to both explain away his state and push Pansy as far away from the truth as possible, “What sort of fantastical idiocy the Tournament will decide to bring into play. Honestly, after these last two years, I’m rather surprised that the school year has been this calm so far.”

Zabini, having just entered, caught the tail end of Draco’s words and glided over like the ridiculous fourteen year old he was. He raised a dark eyebrow, his smirk taunting as he sprawled across the opposing couch with careless elegance that made him the center of most witches’ (and wizards’) attention.

“You call this calm, Malfoy? Is your sight going as well as your intelligence? I just saw two Beauxbatons students trade spells with a flock of Ravenclaws. Not to mention the way all of the Gryffindorks are throwing themselves at Krum. And,” Zabini said with a vicious smirk thrown at Malfoy, “Let’s not forget Potter’s little stunt.”

Draco leaned back in his seat, raising an unimpressed brow. “If you honestly believe someone as unexceptional as Potter was actually capable of fooling the Cup, then I’d argue you’re the one in need of a Wit Sharpening Potion. Perhaps I could brew one for you? I do so hate to see a fellow snake in need.” Draco smiled, the sharp one that made his canines shine and Mother said could scare children. Zabini’s smile didn’t falter, but Draco noticed the added rigidness, the way he reclined becoming a little more studied and forced. It was no secret that Malfoy was top of the Slytherins in all their classes, closely followed by Nott in many of them. Zabini, however, was known to have bad luck when it came to potions, beating only Vincent and Greg from the Slytherins.

“Oh, Zabini!” Pansy interrupted, leaning forward, her face bright and eager. Draco wondered if Zabini noticed the way Pansy angled her body between them, the way she positioned her arms so that they pushed up her modest, but quickly growing, chest. “What would the Ravenclaws and Beauxbatons students have to fight about? I thought they’d been getting along fabulously this past week?” Zabini’s eyes flickered to her, ran over her body, and smiled at her. Strangely, though, Draco didn’t see him sneer at her obvious manipulation, or port the vague disgust many younger Slytherins or members from other Houses did when she acted as a dumb girl with far too much interest in the rumor mill. Interesting, Draco noted, then he probably knows she’s not as stupid as she seems.

“Oh, Cho Chang and her friends seemed to think the Beauxbatons students were far too… loose, with themselves. They, understandably, took offense. I believe the words ‘hypocritical slut’ were thrown.” Pansy’s eyes gleamed, and Draco wondered what wheels her mind was turning right now.

“I heard her and Cedric have been circling each other for weeks.”

Zabini snorted, somehow making even that tasteful. Mother of Magic, Draco wanted to hate him. “I happen to know for a fact that Cho has no particular loyalty to Cedric.” But when Zabini had connections to other Houses, and better yet, knew how to use them, Draco found it impossible to hate him completely. Dislike, of course. It was a given when it came to the Italian wizard. Hate though?

Pansy smiled widely, for half a second her vicious satisfaction over taking her face before she got it under control. It didn’t take a genius to get Zabini’s poorly hidden meaning. And the fact that he’d used her first name…

“Oh, poor Cedric,” Pansy went on, doing a wonderful job covering her voice in sickly sweet empathy. “I know he’s been after her for over a year.” Draco let them continue, leaning over for half a second to point out a mistake on Vincent’s potions paper, before tucking away the last of his own homework. His mind, ever a traitor, turned over to Potter again and he wondered if the dunce would actually read the book. It would be just like the Great Harry Potter to think some extracurricular readings were far beneath him.

For some reason though, Draco thought he wouldn’t have to worry about it.


 

Sunday, November 13th, 1994

After breakfast Sunday morning, Draco made some excuses that vaguely hinted at wanting to practice some spells alone and left the presence of his Housemates. They would, no doubt, construe this to mean he wanted to practice some Dark Arts and would cover for him if anyone asked, as he would for any fellow snake.

First House rule; Slytherin unity.

He made it to his smoking spot first, but it didn’t take long for Potter to appear. “Well met, Potter.”

“Well met, Malfoy.” Good, the dunce was learning. And he’d let Draco open the dialogue, as was proper. Perhaps there was hope for him yet. “Here’s your book back.” Draco took it, found there to be no damage and looked up. He made a gesture for Potter to sit (they’d discussed the proper procedure for such things the last time) and asked;

“Can you name all of the Sacred 28?”

Potter raddled them all off, and Draco was pleased to see he’d clearly studied the book as instructed. He was even more delighted when Potter added, “Houses of Fawley, Fleamont, Le Fay, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Prewett, Peverell, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin are all dead, though.”

Draco nodded but added, “Correct term for the Sacred 28 is dormant, because those Houses hold the title for eternity. And, technically speaking, Prewett isn’t dead, just unclaimed.” Potter tilted his head. Draco hadn’t realized he was even capable of nonverbal communication, as obvious as he was, that he didn’t even reprimand him for the way his posture slacked. “The matriarch of the Weasleys was born a Prewett. Her two older brothers died, leaving her the most direct descendant of the Prewett family. It’s likely one of her children would be accepted by the Family Magicks as Heir if they were inclined to stop being blood-traitors.”

Potter, predictably, bristled immediately. “The Weasleys have always helped me out and are great people!”

“And how much of that do you think is because Dumbledore ordered it? Or because they want the recognition that comes from having the Boy-Who-Lived openly allied with them?” Draco snapped back. Potter recoiled, his eyes widening and Draco wondered if he really had never considered that side of it. Draco didn’t blame the Weasleys, he had originally planned to do the same thing. (A small voice that sounded an awful lot like Uncle Sev’s sneering voice pointed out that he had also looked up to Harry Potter as a child and just wanted a friend as famous as a member of the Malfoys that would maybe, just maybe understand what Draco had to deal with as a kid.)

Potter didn’t say anything, just turned his head away and leaned back against the stone wall. “Posture, Potter.” He sat up and glared at Draco’s drawl but seemed to take a deep breath and nod before mirroring Draco’s position like on Thursday evening.

“Can you explain about Family Magicks? I’ve seen a couple of mentions of them, but nothing on what they really are.”

“Family Magicks are complicated and often unique to each House,” Draco drawled, trying to channel Mother. She’d always taken over Draco’s tutoring and seemed to have the ability to force everything to make sense, unlike Father who just assumed that his son would understand what he meant.

“No one is certain how they work or why they are the way they are. Our best theory has to do with the belief that magic is sentient, up to a point. Basically, after hundreds of years of magicals marrying magicals, they were surrounded by so much magic that it sort of… latched on to them. The oldest Houses are the ones with ranks, which is why Most Ancient and Ancient Houses always have the post powerful Magicks.

“Family Magicks are unique to each House. They tend to carry over certain gifts, some which are overt, like the metamorphous ability, and others are more subtle, like talents in potions or transfiguration. These Magicks are strongest in the Head of House, because the Magicks actually attach themselves to the magical core of the Lord and meld with them up to a point. They also do this, to a certain extent, with the Heir, which is how the Lord knows who their Heir is.”

“Wouldn’t it be their first born?”

“No, not always.” Draco drew his wand, and with a simple spell, began drawing in the air with a blue light. “If the Head of House has three children, all within, say, six years of each other, sometimes the Magicks will attach themselves to the second or third born.” He circled the second line from the Head of House he’d drawn, which he wrote an H under. “It’s traditional to present the Heir ring to a child at their seventh birthday, whether the Lord thought the Magicks had chosen them or not. If the ring denies them, then it’s offered to the next child.

“Sometimes though,” Draco drew another diagram, this one with the Lord marked with an L but his three children unmarked, “Magicks will skip entire generations and go inactive. This is what usually leads to Houses going dead or dormant. Every now and again, however, the Magicks will make a reappearance.” He continued his rough family tree until, three generations after the L, he wrote an H.

“If no one has been the Lord for over a hundred years though, how do they know they can claim it?” Harry asked, leaning forward and tracing his eyes over the diagrams floating in the air.

“A lot of times, they don’t. More than likely, there have been Heirs for a lot of dead lines, but they’ve never been claimed because they just don’t know about them.”

“How can you find out?”

Draco raised a brow, amused at the open interest displayed on Potter. “I thought you were a lion, not a raven?”

Surprisingly, Potter didn’t take offense. “Personally, I’m more fond of chimera’s. Considering my personality, they would be more apt.” Draco found himself laughing, the image of a chimera with Potter’s face, the body of a lion and the wings of a raven too much for him. When he calmed himself a second later, he found Potter with an amused smile on his face. There was a comfortable silence for all of a second before they both seemed to realize what had just happened. Potter pulled back, his smile falling and Draco immediately sneered and sat straighter.

“Well,” Draco said, clearing his throat lightly and pointedly ignoring the fact that he’d just laughed at a joke by Potter. “To answer your ridiculous question, obviously there are tests to discover lineage and if any Magicks are especially strong within a certain witch or wizard. They are, however, controlled by Goblins, as it requires a type of magic wizards don’t possess. Few use them, however, for a variety of reasons but mostly because they often come up with nothing interesting and are thought to be a waste of the hundred galleons required.”

Potter nodded, and when he didn’t ask any more questions, Draco moved on.


 

Draco found Sunday to be acceptable, even if there were several times when he found himself actually enjoying Potter’s company. Which was just unacceptable. He was using him for his title and political power. Draco was getting the Boy-Who-Lived indebted to him and Potter was using Draco to get answers he so desperately wanted. The few moments of silent understanding, like when Draco had disparaged over the spotlights always on Heirs, or of honest amusement when one or both would make a comment on the sheer stupidity that surrounded them, were always followed by awkward pauses. Potter was continuously interested though, and Draco enjoyed having so wholly grabbed his attention.

Though it did make Draco wonder. Potter never really spoke up in classes, and he was always turning to the mudblood for answers, so it was surprising that he was so full of questions. Draco hadn’t heard him so curious- well, ever. Not even in Transfiguration or Care, where both the teachers adored him and would most definitely fall over themselves trying to answer their precious Golden Boy. Perhaps he simple didn’t want to seem ignorant? But if that was the case then surely he’d work harder in class? And he certainly wouldn’t stop the act in front of Draco of all people.

Regardless, he was attentive and fascinated with the subject, and was so engrossed when discussing Family Magicks that they hadn’t even noticed the time when the bell for lunch rung. Draco had stood quickly realizing he was starving. When he’d said as much to Potter, realizing only too late that it was friendlier than the arms-length he’d been trying to keep. Potter however, didn’t seem that bothered. He had even mentioned how missing lunch wasn’t an unusual occurrence for him which just confused Draco further. One would think the Golden Suck Up would be served on golden platters to match his shining goodness. For him to be used to missing meals was simply strange.

As Draco returned to his dorm that evening, waving away questions of how his “spell practice” went with ease, he wondered if he could broach the subject of the Sabbats on Tuesday. After lunch today, they’d managed to go through the meetings of the Wizangamot and what usually happened at them. Sabbats, though, were often frowned upon and some celebrations even illegal. Still though, if Potter was this interested in the working of Family Magicks, it wouldn’t be too hard to get him interested in the Sabbat Rituals. If nothing else, it might be interesting to see his response.


 

Tuesday, November 15th, 1994

Tuesday met Draco with a blizzard and freezing dungeons. Luckily, because Slytherin House had the best Founder, heating charms kicked in and the Common and Dorm Rooms were all filled with blazing heat from a hoard of fireplaces.

Draco went through his day as usual, feeling relaxed and calm for once. Without the stress of Quidditch practice, and Zabini suddenly pulling back most challenges and only appearing to exchange information with Pansy and occasionally speak with Draco on something boarding equal grounds, Draco found himself with a significant lack of anything to worry about. That was, until dinner rolled around, and he remember it was Tuesday, and thus he had lessons with Potter.

After Sunday, he’d pushed thoughts of Potter from his head, deciding worrying about him could wait. Turns out, he could only put it off for so long. Who would have thought?

The storm hadn’t really abated, but the path to the meeting spot was sandwiched between walls and mostly protected, so Draco hurried out after dinner, his cloak pulled up and heating charms activated. The seating area was dry and warm thanks to the charms that had been surrounding it since Draco found it in his second year. He was waiting for all of two minutes before Potter hurried in, face buried in his cloak.

Simply to test the waters (and how much Potter had actually been paying attention) Draco didn’t greet him for thirty seconds, letting the silence stretch as he pretended to read the book he’d brought. When Potter still hadn’t sat or spoken, Draco allowed himself a small, pleased smile and looked up.

“Well met, Potter. Please, take a seat.” As Potter situated himself and slowly emerged from his hunched form like some kind of human butterfly feeding off of warmth, Draco added, “That was very well done.” He was actually quite pleased with it, but Draco had never been big with verbalizing his emotions so he left it at that.

Potter nodded,  and sat up straight (he was growing up so fast, Draco thought fondly before he caught himself and immediately began listing everything he hated about Potter). He was just past Friend Choice, when Potter actually spoke up.

“Well met, Malfoy. Thank you, I figured you might try something like test me eventually. What are we covering today?”

“Well, we’ve covered basic manners and the beginning workings of the government, so I thought we’d delve more into traditions. Specifically, the Sabbats and their significance.” Draco watched Potter closer, waiting for any sign of discomfort.

“Sabbats? You mean like holidays?”

“Bloody hell, no,” Draco snarled, unable to stop the sneer but for once not directing it at Potter himself. He hated that someone was even capable of making that mistake. They were wizards and witches and the celebration of magic should be done by everyone, but instead they had fools like Dumbledore in power and forcing muggle holidays on them all as if their culture was less important than making muggleborns feel better. “No one has told you anything, have they? Honestly, I would hex Dumbledore myself if I thought I could get away with it.” Potter shifted, but said nothing. Well, that was interesting. Was it possible Potter was finally coming to accept the fact that he was being played by his idol? Though Draco still couldn’t figure out the Headmaster’s goal, it was clear enough what he was doing.

“What’s the difference?” Potter asked, and Draco was pulled back into the present.

“A Sabbat is a celebration of magic, and the changing of the seasons and what each represents. There’s eight of them, spaced throughout the year. Each symbolizes something different and have different traditions, though most include a feast of some kind and gift giving is common on nearly all of them. All of them have rituals to help honor Lady Magick and the gifts She’s given us. They also help renew the magic in families and keep the earth strong and magic in balance.” Draco paused again, wondering if there was a delicate way of telling Potter this next piece, before deciding the Gryffindor would appreciate his brutal honesty more than sugarcoating it. “Most of the traditional rituals are also illegal.” A slight widening of the eyes, a slight stiffening in the shoulders, a brief shot of discomfort flashing across his face. Strangely, though, it didn’t last and Potter seemed to come to some decision.

“What are they?” Draco took a moment to consider the determination written on his face, the fire sparking in his green eyes. For half a second, Draco remembered the first time he’d seen the Killing Curse. He’d been nine, and found out the truth about Father’s loyalties two years earlier. Father had wanted him to understand the power that a wizard could wield, and had made him watch as Father had sent the spell whirling at an old kneazle they’d gotten.

Draco pushed away the memory and the bright green of Potter’s eyes and simply focused on teaching about what may be his favorite part of magic.


 

Harry listened intently as Malfoy lectured about all of the Sabbats. He couldn’t help but consider the boy in front of him though. It was… strange, this side of Malfoy that Harry had never seen before. Like something had been lit inside of him. His gray eyes were bright with energy, and he was leaning so far forward and gesturing his arms as he spoke with such energy that Harry was surprised he kept his seat. Not to mention Malfoy had never been this lax with his posture before. He looked almost boyish and, if Harry dared to think it, cute.

Harry very resolutely squashed that last thought because he was enjoying himself and he would not ruin it.

Malfoy was clearly passionate about the Sabbats and Harry found himself listening fixedly. They were fascinating and Harry couldn’t quite understand why some of the rituals had been banned. They didn’t seem Dark, not really. It felt like the Ministry just didn’t understand them and so decided no one would use them. Like Sirius.

It was the thought of Sirius, his godfather/father that had made him go on with the lesson, even after Malfoy had spoken of the Ministry’s views on such things. He was innocent, and yet the government decided to hunt him. Hell, even Sirius’s adoption of Harry was technically illegal. Harry might not know what to do with the fact he suddenly had a father, but he definitely thought the idiots trying to get him killed didn’t bare listening to.

So he’d let Malfoy lecture about Sabbats, their meanings and rituals and why they were so important. When Malfoy fell into a rant about Dumbledore and the Ministry pushing for muggle holidays, Harry hadn’t interrupted, just watched with slight amusement and a firm lid on the voice in his head that had suddenly decided to question everything in his life that had to do with the Headmaster.

It was dark by the time Malfoy slowed enough to realize curfew was in ten minutes, but the wind had died down and they both hurried into the school.

“Bye, Malfoy.” Harry flinched when he’d realized he’d dropped the formalities, and waiting for Malfoy to scold him for it, as he’d taken to doing anytime Harry slouched.

To Harry’s great surprise, Malfoy sent a wave over his shoulder with a distracted “Bye, Potter,” before hurrying towards the dungeons.

Harry made his way back to Gryffindor Tower, ignored the whispers and sneers, and made it all the way through changing before he realized that he had a small, honest smile on his face. It was the first time since Halloween that he felt like he wasn’t alone.

And despite the first task coming up next week, despite the fact that he was probably going to get killed because of some plot no doubt concocted by Voldemort, despite the fact that he had Sirius and Malfoy and his uneasy feelings on Dumbledore to resolve, Harry had a warm feeling in his chest as he fell asleep.

Chapter Text

Wednesday, November 16th, 1994

Dragons. Dragons were the first task. Great, giant, hulking snakes with wings that breathed fire and would want to eat his face off like some messed up walking buffet. He couldn’t believe the Ministry was idiotic enough to make four teenagers go against bloody dragons. Harry needed to talk to someone, needed to figure out what the hell he’d do. November 23rd, the First Task, was next week. At one point, he would’ve gone straight to Ron and Hermione but he didn’t even consider going to them. Not now, after everything.

Despite the fact that it was an hour past curfew, Harry didn’t hesitate to pull out the Map and activate it, eyes scanning past names he didn’t care about. Crabbe, Goyle, Rookwood, Crouch, Moody, all the way until he spotted what he was looking for in a classroom deep in the dungeons.

He memorized the quickest path, ended up taking two secret passage ways, pulled off his cloak in a swift movement and burst through the door.

Malfoy spun quickly, some spell Harry didn’t recognize shooting out. Harry side stepped it, didn’t even bother to question why Draco Malfoy was in an unused classroom in the dungeons, the walls scorched and what appeared to be straw dummies destroyed and littering the ground.

“How did you-?”

“Dragons,” Harry gasped out, wondering what he must look like considering Malfoy’s gaping mouth and wide eyes, all sense of decorum gone. “The first task is dragons.”

What?!” Malfoy slipped his wand up his arm, and Harry took half a second to wonder since when he kept it in his sleeves before he decided surviving a bloody dragon was more important. “Explain,” Malfoy ordered shortly coming and standing in front of Harry. He didn’t grab his shoulders as Hermione or Ron would’ve, which Harry was grateful for because he had to move. He began pacing as he told Malfoy how Hagrid had sent him an owl asking to meet, how he’d seen four dragons and Hagrid and Maxine discussing how the champions would have to get past them. It all came tumbling out in a long string of words, and Harry didn’t notice he was pulling his hair until Malfoy actually did grab him and force him still. He froze and stiffened but Malfoy only held on long enough to catch his eye.

“Shut up, Potter.” He did, with a snap of his mouth. “Breath.” Again, Harry followed the order, and Malfoy gave him some more space to breath in which helped immensely. Some distant part of Harry wondered when the hell Malfoy had learned to comfort him, and why he was even doing it. It was quickly over powered by the constant stream of I have to fight a dragon.

“How do I fight a dragon?” Harry asked quietly, when he could finally hear himself think over the chanting of dragon, dragon, dragon in his head.

“You don’t,” Malfoy said. “Those two said you just had to get past it, right?” Harry nodded. “Then we’ll figure out how to get you past it. Tomorrow. You need sleep, and it’s far past curfew. Meet me at our usual spot.” Horror flickered across Malfoy’s face, and Harry couldn’t help agreeing. When had they become so… amiable? Cordial enough to have their spot?

Harry took another deep breath because he could question his and Malfoy strange relationship some other time, and nodded again, taking hold of his fear and nerves and shoving them down until he could focus enough to thank Malfoy and say good night. Within a few minutes, he had the cloak on and was navigating his way back to his bed. It wasn’t until he was fighting for sleep that he realized Malfoy had used “we”.


 

Thursday, November 17th, 1994

Draco forced himself to eat at his usual pace, despite the fact that he wanted nothing more than to meet up with Potter and discuss the Tournament. Bloody hell, a dragon. Whoever designed this thing was a sadistic moron. Perhaps they simply wanted to watch a bunch of teenagers get murdered.

Draco wondered, briefly, if he should pass this information to Krum. The Bulgarians had taken to sitting at the Slytherin table, and Draco and his group were often with Krum and his friends, mostly because they had met during the World Cup. It would certainly help solidify their acquaintance into something closer to a friendship. Or giving the knowledge to Pansy and see what she did with it. Perhaps after his discussion with Potter.

By the time he made his way to his spot (he made sure to not think their spot even while noticing quite a few suspicious and questioning looks. He’d have to deal with that soon) Potter was already there, pacing and muttering. He turned on his heel when Draco appeared, his eyes wide and hopeful.

“What do I do?” Ignoring the blatant dismissal of niceties, mainly because this situation was a wee more important, Draco wondered how his life had come to this. Harry Potter was looking to him for answers and reassurances, and Draco found himself wanting to give them. This was just to get Potter indebted to him, Draco reminded himself. He still hated the twat for everything that had happened in the last few years. Even if Draco was starting to think Potter only did it because he didn’t know better.

“You stop freaking out, for one.” Potter nodded, and whatever energy that had possessed him seemed to flee. He collapsed onto the bench and curled into himself. Draco took a seat- much more elegantly- and waited until Potter had a hold of himself before speaking.

“The goal is to get past the dragon, correct?” Potter nodded weakly, “Then you don’t have to kill it, which is a step in the right direction. What are your strengths? We’ll work with those.”

“Right,” Potter murmured. “Right. Well, I’m good at flying.” A part of Draco wanting to point out Potter was epic on a broom, but he would never sink so low. “And Defense. I’m decent at charms and transfiguration, but nothing too complicated.” Draco could think of one other major talent Potter had, but to bring it up would no doubt cause tension. And they’d managed to get along decently for quite a while now.

“Maybe,” Potter went on, oblivious to Draco listing pros and cons for what he was contemplating, “I could bring my broom and fly around the dragon.”

“The only thing your allowed is your wand.”

“How do you know?”

“I looked into the rules of the Tournament when it was first announced.” Actually, the entirety of Ravenclaw spent three days digging up every piece of information on it after it was announced and passed the information to Lucian Bole, who had a Ravenclaw brother. Bole simply ended up passing the information on. “If you learn the Summoning Charm, you could have someone bring your broom and leave it near the stands. It’s a fifth year spell, but you should be able to learn it just fine. Of course, it might help if you used a distraction.”

Potter nodded, face scrunched up. Draco made a mental note to move on from manners and traditions to concealing emotions and manipulating others in their lessons. “The Animation Charm, you think?”

“Or transfigure something into an animal. Even a summoning spell would work.”

Potter seemed to consider this for a while, before he said slowly, “Summon lots of small things to annoy and distract it while I summon a broom. There’s a bird summoning spell, isn’t there?”

“The Bird-Conjuring Charm. It’s a third year spell, but it’s not much harder than the Snake Summoning Charm, which I managed in second year.” Potter glared, and Draco snorted. “Oh, come off it. That was years ago.”

“I was ostracized by the entire school!”

“Not my fault you decided to out yourself as a parselmouth like that.” It took another few seconds but Potter finally stopped glaring. Not that the tension eased, but it was progress. At least it hadn’t escalated. Yet.

“So that’s the plan.”

“That’s a plan,” Draco sneered. “And it depends a lot on if the birds actually manage to distract the dragon long enough for you to get in the air, not to mention you’d have to outfly a dragon. You’re good, Potter but I don’t know if you’re that good.”

Potter threw his hands in the air. “Well what would you suggest?!”

Ah, there was that opportunity Draco had been waiting for. Now all he had to do was make Potter see reason. “You could just tell the dragon to let you by.” A second of silence, another, before Potter finally said very tensely;

“What do you mean?” Draco didn’t believe for a second Potter hadn’t connected the dots, not with his apprehensive expression, or tight shoulders. Still, Draco knew he’d have to force this.

“Dragons are a type of serpent, Potter. You are a serpent speaker. All you would have to do-“

“No,” Potter interrupted.

“Oh stop being an idiot.”

No,” he snarled, this time with more force. He was breathing heavily and his face was twisted with anger. “I will not use a Dark Art to get through this.” Ah, there was that escalation he’d been waiting for.

Draco found his temper rising rapidly, took half a second to try and stop it before deciding that he couldn’t be bothered. “Don’t be a fool! Who bloody cares if it’s a Dark Skill? It’s a gift you should be honored to have.”

“It’s Voldemort’s gift!” Draco flinched, before his intense indignation rose at the venom in Potter’s voice. But Draco couldn’t start defending the Dark Lord, not here and not now with Potter of all people. That could be saved for another time.

“It’s a Magick Gift and an amazing one at that! What’s so wrong with being able to talk to snakes?!”

“It’s Dark!”

            “You say that as if it means you’ll all of a sudden start killing kittens just because you’re a parselmouth.”

            “Speaking from experience, Malfoy? Or are kittens so far below you that you won’t even kill them?”

            Draco hissed wordlessly, before he snarled right back, “Unlike what Dumbledore’s propaganda would have you think, we don’t go around contemplating ways to kill small creatures!”

            “You’re a Slytherin-“

            “Oh, great observation, Potter. Has it taken you this long to figure out?”

            Potter went on, ignoring Draco’s acid tone. “And every one knows that Slytherins are as evil as you get.”

            Draco sneered, and leaned forward to catch Potter’s eyes. They were bright, and Draco wondered if Potter even knew he looked like he could cast the Killing Curse with a single glance. “For the supposed ‘tolerant House’, you all seem to forget that you judging us just for our House is no different from us judging someone on their blood.”

            “It’s not the same!”

            “Yes, it is. Tell me, Potter, do you Gryffindors have to come up to breath, or are you all immune to drowning in that much hypocrisy?”

            Potter was puffed up and red and when he opened his mouth again he choked out “Dark is-“ before his anger seemed to get the better of him and nothing else would come. Draco, however, did not have such an issue.

            “Dark is what, Potter?” he sneered, standing now and stabbing Potter’s chest when he rose much as Draco had the first time they’d met here. “Dark is evil? Dark is all that’s wrong with the world? Well guess what, Potter. The world isn’t written in black and white and Light magic doesn’t make someone a good person and using Dark magic doesn’t make you evil.”

            Potter finally gained his voice back and he snarled in Draco’s face, spat out, “Of course a Dark piece of scum like you would say that,” before turning on his heel and storming out.

            Draco allowed himself to send three cutting spells against the walls to release his pent up energy (Hogwarts took no damage, of course, but it made him feel better) before he too stormed out and headed for the Quidditch pitch. There was another hour before curfew and he would take full advantage of it to lose himself in the clouds and force thoughts of stubborn, blind Gryffindors from his mind.

            He told himself the entire way that he wasn’t hurt by Potter’s dismissal, but it sounded like a lie even to him.

 


 

            Harry couldn’t believe Malfoy. No, that wasn’t quite true. What had been said was so perfectly Malfoy that he should’ve seen it coming. Which was what was really making him angry. He couldn’t believe he had thought he could have a relationship with Malfoy outside of visceral hatred. What had he been thinking, that they could be allies? Friends?

            Harry scoffed and scuffed his boot against the floor as he made his way back up Gryffindor tower. Malfoy had been the only one Harry had talked to since Halloween (Samhain, a voice sneered in his head. Harry named it Malfoy and promptly kicked it to the curb) and it had been nice, having some interaction that wasn’t being sneered at. Of course, he was a bloody idiot for thinking it could last. Malfoy’s a bigot and a git and I hate him, he thought sourly.

            He was pulled out of his bitter thoughts when Mad Eye Moody stepped in front of him, seemingly from out of nowhere. As it was before curfew, Harry hadn’t thought to bring out the Map and was clearly too distracted to watch his surroundings.

            “Potter,” he said gruffly, running his good eye over him while his blue one rolled in its socket. “Walk with me, boy.”

            Stomping down on his hatred of the word boy, Harry nodded obediently and said, “Yes, Professor.” They had walked all of three seconds before Moody spoke again.

            “The First Task is coming up. Do you have a plan for it?”

            Eyeing him from his periphery, Harry wondered how to answer that. He liked Moody, he was probably his favorite Defense teacher (even better than Remus, as much as he hated to think it) because he never tried to sugar coat anything and was honest about what was out there. It was a nice change from the secrecy everyone else seemed to live by, especially considering recent findings.

            Still, there was something off about him. He was gruff, and rude, and paranoid which fit with what Harry had been told, but there were also times where he just wasn’t right. Like he wanted to make an expression that didn’t fit his face. Mostly, Harry chalked this up to all the scaring.

            “We aren’t supposed to get help from Professors, sir.” Which, considering Hagrid, was a rule Harry had already broken. Not that Professor Moody needed to know that.

            Moody made a sound that turned into a guffaw but seemed to want to be a snort. It almost reminded Harry of the Slytherins, who always seemed to express amusement through snorts and snickers and smirks. Which was clearly a sign that Malfoy was distracting him because Moody had been a Hufflepuff.

            “Cheating is a Triwizard Tournament tradition, Potter.”

            Considering Madam Maxine and Headmaster Karkaroff, that wasn’t actually surprising. “I have a plan, sir. I just need to practice a few charms and I’ll be all set.” Moody looked surprised for a moment but seemed to accept this.

            “All right then.” Without another word, he turned and walked off, the clunk, clunk of his wooden leg echoing in the hall.

Harry made his way to his dorm, ignored his housemates as was his new tradition, and changed quickly. This had become his ritual since Halloween, which was why he was rather surprised when a knock sounded at his door.

            He opened it only to find two familiar sets of red hair.

            “Hello Harrikens.”

            “Lovely evening.”

            “Hope you don’t mind us popping in.”

            “We’d love to talk.” Harry stared blankly at Fred and George before stepping aside and letting them in silently.

            They all took seats on various beds and Harry waited for them to say whatever it was that had driven them to come here. He liked the twins, but he wasn’t really close to them. Harry thought they could get along, but there was a bit of a rift between the twins and Ron and he’d never wanted to get in the middle of it. Still, George and Fred seemed to communicate through a single glance before one of them spoke.

            “Look, Harry,” the fact that they used his real name was the first clue that this was serious, “We’ve noticed Ron being a git and we just wanted to bring it up.”

            “Yeah, thought we should tell you that just ‘cause he’s an idiot to humongous proportions not all of us are.”

            “We know that you didn’t put your name in the Goblet and we just wanted you to know that we’ll help you with anything. Prankster’s honor.” The second twin snickered and smirked. Clearly the seriousness had timed out.

            “I hadn’t realized a Prankster’s honor meant much, Gred.”

            “I take offense, Feorge. I have plenty of honor.”

            Before they could devolve further, Harry smiled and said, “Thanks, guys. I appreciate it.” And he did. He hadn’t spent enough time to be able to tell which was George and which was Fred, but he knew enough to be able to tell one from the other. The first one to speak, was always a little more forward than the other. To be honest, Harry wished he could tell them apart better, because to have them always mixed up and just dismissed as identical, as nearly the same person, reminded him a bit too much of all the times the Dursleys just relegated him to being no more than a piece of furniture. It was never alright to dismiss a person as less than what they were.

            Oh, but all Slytherins are slimy, aren’t they? There’s that famous Gryffindor hypocrisy. Oh look, the Malfoy voice was back. Harry would seriously have to do something about that, especially considering it almost had a point.

            “Actually,” Harry said, because he had to distract himself. “I need to learn the Summoning Charm. Think you could teach me, say, Sunday after breakfast?” Some may call Harry petty, but Sunday really was the best time to practice. And it wasn’t like Harry would be meeting up with Malfoy again. That had clearly ended in flames, just like he should’ve known it would. Besides, the twins would never suggest he do something as evil as use a Dark Skill.

            Worryingly, both Weasley’s looked delighted.

            “Happy to, Harrikens.”

            “Might find time to teach you-“

            “A few other tricks as well.”

            “Nothing to worry about.”

            “’Course not. We’ll make sure you’re ready-“

            “For your big debut as Champion.”

            Strangely enough, Harry was only slightly apprehensive.

Chapter Text

November 18th-19th, 1994

Harry floated through the next two days, mind running. He found himself coming to the uncomfortable realization that he had become used to the thought of meeting up with Malfoy. Harry had been miserable after Halloween, constantly alone and aware of it. The attacks from every side didn’t allow him to forget. But somewhere along the way, Malfoy had become an escape, without him even realizing it. Three days a week, he had somewhere to go, someone to keep him company, and he’d attached himself to it with such a grip that to have that suddenly yanked away, to be so very aware that he and Malfoy would no longer be meeting, felt like being dumped into the Black Lake. The attacks, the desertion, they all suddenly felt very vivid where before they had sunk into the bland background.

Harry hated it.

To have someone to lean on- even if he hadn’t realized he was leaning on Malfoy- had helped. Especially with the thought of the First Task looming. Harry tried to distract himself by throwing himself into practicing the Bird-Conjuring Charm. It was simple, but Harry thought that he might be able to change the size of the birds by summoning something besides normal songbirds. He’d looked over the theory, and you had to visualize the birds you wanted to summon. Most did something small and simple, but in theory , any bird could be conjured. Of course, it was all theory, which Harry was horrible at.

Saturday, when he had finally managed a single casting of the Bird-Conjuring Charm using ravens (not quite as large as the eagles he wanted, but bigger than anything else he’d managed) he finally took a break and his thoughts turned to the other big issue; Sirius Black, his father.

Father . The word held so much. Hope and love, disappointment and loss, confusion and betrayal. Harry hadn’t been able to unpack it all, not with everything going on. But… Sirius hadn’t sent him a letter yet, keeping his promise from the Shack and giving Harry space. Honestly, he wasn’t sure whether he was thankful or disappointed. He knew Sirius deserved an answer, one way or the other, but he didn’t know what to say. What to do. If this had been last month, or last year, he would’ve gone straight to Ron and Hermione to figure it out. But they had turned on him, and he was angry at them for it, and he had no one else. (Malfoy flashed through his mind before he stomped the image out.)

It had been weeks, and Harry had no doubt that Sirius was probably biting at the bit to get moving, to have an answer. He was also self aware enough to know that he had been pushing this off, ignoring it in some vain hope that the answer would come to him.

Strangely enough, the answer did come to him. Or perhaps it had always been there and he had been so far into denial it had been hidden under a sand dune.

Entering the Library after lunch to return the two books from the genealogy section, he weaved through the stack and into the back. It hadn’t occurred to him before, but there was another book here that may have interesting information.

It was the work of a minute to find what he was looking for. The Most Ancient and Noble House of Black . The tome was thicker than the Potter one, and just as old, but the crest on this one was a simple shield, the top done in red, scattered with golden stars and a hand holding a wand, while the bottom had three ravens on a field of white. The words, Toujour Pur , were written in black.

The pages seemed to release a breath as they were turned, and Harry soon found himself lost in the dark script.


 

The truth of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black is known only to those of the family, as only their Grimoire, a tradition held within Most Ancient Houses and a few Ancient ones, tells the entire history. There are, however, a few facts known to the public.

While the Blacks have never released an official history to be recorded and given to the community, other first hand accounts tell us that they came from France to Britain in Lady Magick’s year, Eight-Hundred-Forty-Five, shortly after Ragnar and his Vikings sacked Paris. Rumors claim that they were running from prosecution, though for what is unknown. Anything that comes before this time has been lost to British knowledge, though their Most Ancient family line has been recorded since then.

When Lord Altair Noir come to this soil, he had his wife, his two teenage sons, and what few possessions they had managed to bring. By the time Lord Altair had passed and his title went to his eldest son, Canopus, the House name had been turned to Black, they had created a Holding in western Britain, and they were quickly gaining power and notoriety. When Lady Magick’s year, Nine-Hundred-Ninety-Seven began, they joined the twenty-seven other powerful Houses and formed the Wise Men’s Council.

The House crest, already formed when they came to Britain, suggests power and mystery with the ravens and wand, while the stars they are all so fond of suggest their belief that only the heavens stand above them. Their colors, black, white, red and gold, further symbolize power, mystery, purity, intellect and sophistication. The Watchwords of the House of Black, Toujour Pur , tends to be considered a reference to their belief that pureblood and good breeding are important.

All of these things represent the Blacks well, as this family is not only older than most, but it is also shrouded in mystery and questions, overshadowed only by their power and prestige. While the truth of before their migration may be lost, their name and importance is well known to all.


 

It was a lot less exact information than the Potter book, but it did at least tell him a little bit more about why everyone freaked at the name Black. You know, besides the whole escaped convict thing.

Flipping through to the most recent branches of the tree, however, revealed a stranger piece of evidence. At the bottom, a few inches under where Narcissa Black was marked as marrying Lucius Malfoy and having one son, was a small note.


Updates to this tome are done at the Head of House’s request. As of Lady Magick’s year, 1991, Arcturus Black has passed and the Lordship is turned to Sirius Black, who is incarcerated in Azkaban for crimes of murder and treason. Without a Lordship claimed, or an Heir yet chosen by Magick or Blood, further updates are restricted.


 

Which would explain why Harry himself wasn’t on this. Though, the fact that he was blood adopted (which was extremely illegal) meant that Sirius probably couldn’t ask them to put him on. Unless, of course, there was another way to explain Harry being Heir. Which was a very good question. How was Sirius planning on explaining to the world that a Potter was his Heir?

Harry paused as the realization that Sirius wouldn’t care what he had to do, he’d already decided Harry was his Heir. He’d chosen Harry. Not the same way that Britain had chosen him, because of some ridiculous accident when he was a child. Sirius had loved him since he was born, and he’d decided that he wanted to be Harry’s father just as much as James. Wanted to pass on the Black name and title because Harry was precious to him, even when he’d been only a child.

Sirius had offered to let Harry live with him five minutes after they’d met. Had bought him a firebolt when he saw Harry needed a broom despite being on the run and having a kiss-on-sight status. Sirius had cared enough to sneak into the Shrieking Shack when Harry had asked, regardless of the risk.

Harry knew James and Lily Potter loved him, they had died for it, after all. And he liked to think that they would be happy there was someone else that loved Harry and was willing to take care of him. Maybe it was a betrayal, to choose Sirius when James and Lily were his true parents, and had died for him. But…

Sirius loved him.

Which meant there was really only one possible way this could go.


 

Sunday, November 20 th , 1994

With his letter sent the night before, Harry met George and Fred in an unused classroom on the third floor Sunday morning. He entered the room, only to have his wand immediately summoned from his hand.

“Tsk tsk, Harrikens.”

“Gotta be more careful.”

“Should also note that this spell-“

“Is extremely handy if used right.” Smiling, Harry took his wand back when offered.

“Well, I suppose it’s a good thing I have such great teachers.” Both Weasleys laughed and got right to showing him the spell. It took a few tries, but Harry managed it before too long, and George and Fred went on to teach him several other useful tricks and spells. He told them about the Task, and they promptly taught him Fire-Repelling Charms to apply to his robes when he entered the ring.

“Wish we’d had more warning-“

“Could’ve tried to create a fire proof Runic Ward.”

“Aye, been far more solid.”

“Runic Ward?” Harry asked.

“Yeah,” the one he was almost sure was George said. “I guess you never took Ancient Runes, so you wouldn’t know.”

“Damn useful they are. Also damn hard.”

“They’re what let wizards create more permanent spells and protections. The Wards around Hogwarts and the Ministry are written using Runes.”

“Would probably take us two weeks to create a Fire-Proof Ward though. Could’ve stitched it onto your robes.” Harry nodded, and went back to practicing the charms. It was an interesting concept, if nothing else.

When they took a break and snuck down to the kitchens for lunch (Harry was rather surprised at the location, but decided he’d seen weirder things than tickling a pear) he was startled when the twins spoke up again.

“You know, Harry-“

“No one would blame you if you decided to branch out.”

He lifted a brow, wondering why they were both focusing so hard on him. “What do you mean?”

“Well, we know Ronikens is being a twat,” George said.

“Tried talking to him. Didn’t seem to do anything.”

“And Hermione is still mad at you for breaking the rules.”

“Wonder how long it’ll take for her to get over it?”

“And we just want you to know that no one would blame you if you decided to get other friends.”

“Wait,” Harry put down his pumpkin juice, giving them his full attention. “Are you saying you want me to stop being friends with Ron?”

They shared a look, seemed to come to some conclusion because the one he was almost sure was Fred relaxed further into his seat and George took over completely.

“Well, no. We love having you around, but… Friends change, Harry. It’s a natural part of life. Fred and I used to be really close with Oliver Wood, during our second year, but then all three of us grew up and we drifted apart. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

“Yeah,” Fred added, “Especially considering Ron’s the one that abandoned you when you clearly need him. Fred and I never would’ve stayed friends with Lee if he’d done that.”

So apparently they were both Fred. Yeah, Harry didn’t buy that, but what they were saying was a little more important than finding out which was which. “I…” He wasn’t sure what he was. Besides hurt, betrayed, and overall angry with his situation. Harry had turned to Draco Malfoy of all people for company, which was all kinds of messed up. Proven by Malfoy trying to get him to use parseltongue, a Dark Skill. It was a suggestion to keep you alive . Maybe. And you enjoyed your time together. No, not really. Malfoy was sarcastic and caustic, and an arrogant prat. Who just happened to give up two evenings a week and an entire day of the weekend to help Harry learn about wizarding culture.

He wondered what the twins would think of Harry learning the old traditions. Ron would no doubt lose it over the pureblood bigotry, which Harry recognized was still a problem. Hermione would go on a tear about the outdated, injustice of it. But Harry knew from his lessons that, while it was old, it was also a rich culture that he’d never even known he was a part of. The Sabbats sounded amazing, even if they were illegal, and he saw nothing wrong with the greetings and some of the manners that were expected of purebloods.

“I’ll figure it out,” he finally said, because he didn’t know what he’d do, only that the First Task and surviving a dragon was more important than working out his friendship drama.

Both of them smiled as they stood.

“Alright, Harry. Whether you make up with Ron or not is up to you.”

“We hope our brother stops being a git.”

“Come to us if you need anything.”

They disappeared, and Harry was left alone again. It was strange, how a single day in good company could lift his entire mood. He liked George and Fred, enjoyed how they didn’t blame him for his failing friendship with Ron. Harry felt like he could take the dragon on right now and win. Which was a ridiculous but true sentiment. He’d figured out Sirius, he had a plan for the Task. And while he was angry with Malfoy, Harry couldn’t help but wonder what he was up to.


 

November 18 th -19 th , 1994

Draco was pissed and distracted after his argument with Potter, something which did not go unnoticed by his housemates. Luckily, after hexing Millicent’s mouth shut for asking very loudly what was wrong in the middle of the Common Room, he was left relatively alone.

At some point, Zabini had stopped trying to challenge him and had turned to joining him when he was with Pansy. The jabs and taunts didn’t stop, but they were less acidic and more amiable. Draco didn’t particularly take offense to them, considering caustic sarcasm was 97% of what came out of any given Slytherin’s mouth.

What he did take offense to was Harry Potter, sheerly because the wanker had the audacity to take up most of his thoughts.

By all rights Draco should be forgetting about him, or possibly planning some nasty “accident” in potions. Potter was judgmental, narrow minded, a hypocritical bigot against Slytherins, and he was an awful blood traitor that clearly didn’t know the first thing about being an Heir or a wizard.

Which is why he came to you , a calm voice pointed out. And look what happened, he snarled back . Obviously, trying to teach Potter anything was a mistake. Though he supposed knowing that Potter was ignorant of his heritage, and that Dumbledore had evidently orchestrated it, was worth it. Never mind the time wasted. Oh, as if you didn’t enjoy it, you prat . Draco decided to name that voice Pansy and ignore it, as he often did his conscience.

He had not enjoyed it. Potter always asked far too many questions, and interrupted Draco every time the ignorant prat didn’t know something, and then Draco would have to go on a new tangent because it was unacceptable that a wizard could be that stupid. And Draco would constantly be reminded of the twat whenever he had a discussion on politics or magics with a housemate, mainly due to the fact that Draco had to make a mental note to bring it up to Potter in the ineffective hope that Potter would one day learn how to function in their world.

He had not enjoyed their lessons, or the time spent together. He hadn’t .


 

Tuesday, November 22 th , 1994

Which is exactly what Draco told himself as he went out for a smoke on Sunday, after breakfast. His smoking spot was empty, as it was supposed to be . It was a blessing when he lit his cigarette and took a deep breath. Mugwort and sage blended perfect and relaxed him. He did the exact same thing Tuesday, as well. His empty spot. His escape.

He was on his second smoke when his peace was invaded. Someone cleared their throat, and he looked up. A strange sense of disappointment filled him when he saw Pansy Parkinson standing there. For once, she wasn’t wearing her “stupid gossip girl” mask. Instead her eyebrows were raised in disbelief and her thin mouth was set in disapproval. Despite this, her voice was level when she finally spoke after casting a silencing ward.

“You’ve been disappearing an awful lot lately, Draco.” When he didn’t respond beyond his own “get on with it” look, she added, “You’re friends are starting to miss you, you know.”

Unable and unwilling to keep playing the Slytherin alliance game when it was just the two of them, and so very annoyed with the entire world, Draco snorted. “You’re my only friend, Pansy. Let’s not lie about that.” It was a little sad, but true. Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle were both the Heirs of their respective Ancient Houses, both of which were vassals of the Malfoys. They were loyal purely because they had to be, and Millicent Bulstrode, engaged to Crabbe since infancy and friends with both boys, joined Malfoy only for his name and standing. Being a Malfoy gave him the first step up in the Slytherin hierarchy, but his magic ability and, after second year, his cunning were really what had solidified it. Draco knew that if Theodore Nott ever decided to truly go for it, he’d probably manage to beat Draco, which is why he never bothered Nott and Nott never changed his neutral stance. Daphne Greengrass and Tracy Davies, the other two Slytherin girls, had several allies and friends in various years but hadn’t ever bothered to try anything, so Draco left them alone. Of course, there was also Blaise Zabini but he was… well, Zabini.

Pansy, the only one he’d ever count as a real friend, softened and sat down across from him. He never saw her like this when others were around, face lax, eyes wide and understanding. Never pity, because no Slytherin would ever accept pity, but there to listen should he need it. “You’ve been distracted and upset since Thursday. And before that you would keep vanishing after dinner. I know perfectly well you’re training schedule and it doesn’t fit.” A question without actually asking. An open invitation to speak about what was bothering him without pushing him away. Sometimes, he really loved Pansy.

He took another drag, considering how (and what) to tell her. She was his friend, he reminded himself. If he couldn’t trust her, he had nothing. “Shortly after the choosing of the Champions, Harry Potter ran into me and we began talking.” Pansy made a mien, and he added, “Without cursing each other, yes I know it’s surprising. Can I go on?” She cracked a smirk and made an elegant “you may continue” gesture. Draco rolled his eyes but assented.

“Anyway, the peace didn’t last long because he’s a twat-“

“Naturally.”

“And I left after insulting him. I thought that’d be the end of it, but , he came back a few days later to talk.”

“Oooh,” Pansy lent forward, clearly enjoying this. “About?”

“He… confessed to me-“

“Oh Morgana, he finally told you he was in love with you?!”

What ? No!” Pansy’s expression of delight fell, and Draco chose not to deliberate on why she looked so excited by the prospect. Or why that was the first thing to pop in her mind. Her disappointment didn’t last long, though.

“Did he finally come out as gay?”

“No! Where do you come up with this stuff?”

She shrugged, but her smirk was sharp. “I pay attention to where people’s eyes linger.” That was a horrifying prospect that he chose not to consider.

“I’m going to move on now,” he said tartly, “Please never put images of Potter confessing to me in my head again.” Pansy looked amused, for whatever reason. Probably because she enjoyed making him suffer. “ Anyway , I was going to say that he told me he had never known he was an Heir to an Ancient and Noble House until he found a mention of it in a book.”

He took a moment to be smug at the sheer astonishment on Pansy’s face. She got the reaction under control a few moments later, but it was still satisfying. “But-“ Draco could practically see the wheels spinning behind her eyes, readjusting everything else she knew to fit this report.

“It’s known he was raised by muggles,” she said finally, face blank but attentive, “But he’s also Dumbledore’s precious Golden Boy.” Meaning that she’d come to the same conclusion as he had. Dumbledore should’ve been teaching him the traditions and had refused.

He hummed an acknowledgement and waited for her to finish analyzing all the sides to this. Eventually she looked at him and asked, “And what happened after he told you this?”

Making sure to take his time to draw out the suspense (his cigarettes really were fabulous for all sorts of things), he said lightly, “Asked me to teach him.”

A twitch of her brows, as undoubtedly she was more in control since his last shock. Still, she was surprised and evidently waiting for him to continue.

“I agreed, and we met three times a week.”

“Until Thursday.” He glared, unhappy she had caught his past tense but not really surprised. It wasn’t hard to fit the pieces together.

“Potter found out what the First Task is and came to me for help.” Let Pansy make of that what she will. He’d certainly wondered why Potter had come charging to him for help, looking wild and panicked and nearly desperate for help. That was probably why he’d come to Draco, actually. He was desperate and the rest of the school was shunning him. Though, if he had gone to the mudblood and told her it was dragons she would have stopped ignoring him to help. No doubt he would’ve accepted her back without a second thought, despite the betrayal. Sometimes, he wondered what life must be like as a Gryffindor. Simpler. But also more likely to be surprised when backstabbed.

“When he said he had to get past a dragon,” Pansy paled, as any normal person would because it was ridiculous to put a bunch of teenagers against XXXXX Class creatures, “I suggested he use Parseltongue. He took offence.”

She nodded, thinking over it all. “Yes, I suppose a row like that,” because there was no doubt of a row, not with Draco’s bitter voice, “Would upset you.” She glanced at him from under her dark lashes. “Dragons? For the First Task?”

“I already informed Krum.” He knew how she thought, and decided there was no point in trying to get her to ask directly. It had been the work of Friday afternoon, the only thing he’d done besides go to classes and fume at Potter’s existence. Draco had the distinct feeling Krum already knew, but he’d played it off and said thank you. Since, he and his friends had been speaking more with Draco.

She deflated, but nodded and fell silent nonetheless. They enjoyed each other’s silent company for a while and Draco was just about to offer her a cig when she broke it.

“So, when are you going to stop moping and apologize to Potter?”

He choked on smoke before sputtering indignantly. “ Excuse me?

She had the nerve to roll her eyes at him before leaning back. “Don’t be a prat. The color is all wrong for your complexion. We both know that the only reason you’ve been in a pissy mood these past few days is because you had a fight with Potter and now you’re upset that he hasn’t apologized. But you know what? More than likely, he’s upset that you haven’t apologized.”

“That’s-“

“A great breakdown of the situation, I know.” Pansy stood, grabbing her book bag and looking him in the eye. “Look, Draco. We both know that you’ve wanted to befriend Potter since you found out you’d be in the same year. Which, in case you’ve forgotten, was when you were six. And we also both know you’ve been a twat to him these past years because you were hurt when he rejected your offer of friendship. Which is why we know that these past weeks of meeting up with him and teaching him about the culture you are so proud of was something you really enjoyed. Enjoyed to such a point, I may add, that you haven’t even noticed the fact that Blaise and I are on a first name basis.”

“Wait, when did that happen?”

Thank you for proving my point.”

He pursed his lips but Pansy could break anyone with her unimpressed, I-have-better-things-to-do, stare. “Why do I have to apologize?”

She rolled her eyes again, but Draco could tell it was fond this time. “Because he’s the stubborn Gryffindor and you’re the smart Slytherin. Now, I’m meeting Blaise in the library to study. Do bless us with your presence when you have time.” Her voice was so sincere and the ego stroking was so blatant that he snorted, but it earned him a smile before she turned and left him to his thoughts. “Oh, and don’t forget that he faces a dragon tomorrow!”

Pansy was right, and he knew it. Which just made it worse. He didn’t want to apologize, mainly because there was nothing to apologize for. Parseltongue was a great gift, and Potter refused to use it. Not to mention Potter’s insistence everything Dark was evil. As a child it was one thing, but Draco would be turning fifteen this summer, meaning he had to grow up. That meant that he couldn’t stand to listen to Potter insult everything he stood for. Potter should apologize for being a git.

But Potter was a Gryffindor. A stubborn one that had to fight a dragon tomorrow because some unknown signed him up for a deadly tournament. Probably in the hopes of getting him killed.

Damn Pansy. He hated it when she was right.

Chapter Text

Amis

Wednesday, November 23 rd , 1994

Wednesday dawned, bright and cold. So, basically the exact opposite of Harry’s mood. He was jittery, full of energy that he knew he had to keep up if he had any chance of getting this to work. His nerves turned his stomach to a right mess and he had to force himself to choke down breakfast and a few bites of lunch when it came around. Classes in the morning were full of even more whispers and gossip, to such a point that the teachers had no hope of getting anyone silent.

When lunch finally came, Harry managed three bites before the stares and rumors about the Task got to be too much and he headed out. He only had half an hour before he needed to head down to the field they were using, but he’d make it count.

Distract with Bird-Conjuring Charm - he’d managed to summon eagles just yesterday- summon broom - he’d passed it off the Fred and George to hide near the stacks without being caught- out fly a dragon . It’d be easy. Or the death of me .

Honestly, he was leaning more towards the death option.

The bell signaling the end of lunch (and his Walk of Doom) rang, and Harry turned down a side hallway that would lead him to the front door.

Which was where a hand flickered out of the shadows and pulled Harry into an alcove hidden behind a tapestry.

Instincts kicked in, developed over long years of being bullied at home and nearly killed at school. He found his wand within half a second and had the assailant pushed off him in the next. A quick Lumos showed that he was in a secret passage, with a familiar face in front of him.

Malfoy ?”

Silver hair shining and gray eyes closed off, Draco Malfoy stood in front of him, indignant.

“Bloody hell, Potter. If that’s how you react to someone wanting to talk, I’m not surprised you don’t have friends.” Remembering that his friends had abandoned him, recalling that he’d almost had… something with Malfoy before they fought, was not something he needed right before he fought a dragon. The urge to blast Malfoy’s eyebrows off was strong, but he had to remember what he was about to do. With some effort, he managed to cool the white rage in him into a scowl and gritted teeth. He did not need this right now.

“Right. Good talk.” He turned to go, only to stop when Malfoy cursed and grabbed his arm.

“Shit, Potter wait.” Despite wanting nothing more than to get going, his curiosity was piqued and he faced Malfoy with expectant brows. As he was expecting curses, insults, and more than several sarcastic remarks, it was utterly astonishing to find Malfoy looking uncomfortable. He was biting his lip, rubbing his left forearm and looking distinctly awkward and displeased with this entire situation. Now even more interested (and a little shocked), Harry remained silent. He caught, “Damnable witch,” muttered under Malfoy’s breath before the blond actually spoke.

“Look, I just wanted to say…” Petering off, it seemed Malfoy didn’t know where to go from there. He shook his head and cleared his throat before trying again. “Uh, just- I know you’re about to face a dragon and shit and I also know that you, being the giant prat you are, probably don’t even care, but I wanted to say good luck. And to tell you not to do something as Gryffindorishly stupid as die.” Malfoy added after a moment, as if realizing how all that sounded, “If you did, I wouldn’t have any decent Quidditch competition, Potter.”

Malfoy was… Malfoy was apologizing ? Or, no, not really. More like he was putting aside their fight, because he knew there were things that were more important. Like tracking him down and telling Harry good luck before he went out to face a dragon.

And Harry had no idea how to respond.

He and Ron or Hermione argued, sure. And there had been a distinct coldness to their interactions after the parselmouth thing in second year, but that had melted away eventually. Harry had never really been in a situation to make up with a friend. Which is what Malfoy was to him, apparently. Someone he turned to when he needed help. Someone who came and supported him despite their fight. This was… strange, Harry thought. Strange and new and more than a little warming.

Harry and Ron and Hermione were fighting now, he thought. But none of them had tried to fix it. To come make amends, or at least put it aside for more important things. But here was Draco Malfoy, son of a Death Eater, and who, if asked in October, Harry would’ve said was his biggest enemy after Voldemort himself, telling Harry good luck and that he’d be sad if Harry died. Given, he’d said it in the most Malfoy/Slytherin way possible, but the sentiment was still there.

Malfoy was trying to show that he was sorry they were fighting. Maybe not that he was sorry for the reason of the fight, but wanting to fix it, nonetheless. Malfoy was offering an olive branch in his own peculiar way.

Abruptly, Harry flashed back to the same memory from all those weeks ago. The one with Dudley and Piers and how they’d made up. Without even considering it, he stuck out his hand.

“Call me Harry, Malfoy.” The blond seemed startled, his eyes wide and staring at the hand like it had offended his delicate sensibilities. Which, knowing Malfoy like he did, Harry thought it was a distinct possibility. The standstill lasted long enough that Harry began feeling like an idiot, before Malfoy broke into a wide smile. It wasn’t as big or outgoing as a Gryffindor grin, but it had a warmth to it and lacked the vicious sharpness that was common in Slytherin expressions.

In a single swift move, Malfoy stepped forward and clasped Harry’s forearm against his own. “Then call me Draco, Harry.”

Startled into his own grin, wider than anything he’d shown since Halloween, Harry let himself indulge in the moment and the tenderness that filled him. Ma- Draco had explained to him the significance of clasped forearms the same afternoon he’d shown introductions. Handshakes were for business partners, political allies, distant relatives, and polite meetings. People you keep at arms distance. A clasped forearm, a much more personal and intimate greeting, was for close friends and family.

“I still think you can be judgmental and a moronic git,” Draco added.

“And I still think you’re a bigoted, pompous arse.”

 Harry thought this might be a friendship for the ages.


 

Inordinately pleased with himself, Draco didn’t even complain when Mad Eye Moody stomped down the hall calling for Harry. Making his way into the throngs of students as Harry headed for the Task was easy, though forcing his way to find Pansy and the others was less so. Zabini- Blaise since that morning- scooted over to leave room for Draco when he appeared. Draco was actually rather surprised at the Italian. He hadn’t complained all day and seemed to be generally content to keep the sass to an acceptable degree. Earlier this morning, when a fifth year had pulled a wand on Blaise, Draco had returned the favor with the others in his group following. When Blaise had looked surprised, Draco had told him that Malfoys protect their own. As Blaise was friends with Pansy, that made him Draco’s just as much as she was.

There was a lot less tension between them after that.

Forcing himself to remain still and outwardly indifferent was an effort, considering the apprehension and mass of nerves twisting his stomach. When the first dragon was brought out, there were several gasps and screams, though Draco noted that Pansy and, surprisingly, Blaise, only paled. So Pansy had passed it on. Interesting.

Draco cheered for Krum, simply because he was working hard to cultivate a friendship with the older wizard, and clapped politely for Diggory, because he was a member of Hogwarts, even as lame as he may be. When Delacour stepped out, Draco was somehow unsurprised that Harry had managed to end up competing last. The wanker had a blasted sense of drama.

Overall, it came out how he was expecting. Krum was smart enough, but he was a more…straight thinking type of wizard. It was unsurprising he didn’t have the patience for a long thought out plan, and it cost him points. Diggory was the top Hufflepuff in the school, and came in the top ten in his year overall. He just underestimated the ruthlessness of the dragon. It was that Hufflepuff sense of fair play. As for Delacour… that was actually impressive. Dragons were resistant to enchanting and most direct spells, so to manage lulling it to near sleep was a great feat. Though it was unsurprising she didn’t manage to hold it longer.

Finally- and Draco refused to acknowledge the breath that caught in his throat- the final dragon was brought out. She was the biggest, the loudest, and when she belched at flames, it nearly singed Draco from where he was sitting near the top of the benches. Harry, the bloody Gryffindor, strode out standing tall and didn’t even bother sneaking. The dragon didn’t even hesitate in turning and roaring at him.

Some part of Draco tightened when he saw Harry summon a flock of eagles. It was rather impressive, considering each of the dozen birds was the size of a basketball and they managed to distract the dragon enough for Harry to summon his broom from under one of the benches. Still, some part of Draco had expected Harry to use Parseltongue, after their reconciliation in the passage. It was stupid, considering they hadn’t discussed the issue since they fought about it, and Harry clearly hadn’t changed his values in the last hour. Draco had just thought…

Something must have shown on his face, because Pansy latched onto his arm with a loud (and extremely fake) gasp, while Blaise knocked their ankles together. It was a touching show of support, though it made him wonder what they thought was going through his head.

Harry was an amazing flying on a normal day, and this was no normal day. With his Firebolt, he was so fast he was little more than a red and gold blur, weaving through the air. The birds had long since disappeared, but the dragon wasn’t leaving her nest, so Harry couldn’t get past her. From where he sat behind the dragon, Draco could see the gold glinting in the light, a false mockery of the rest of the eggs.

With a hoarse shout, Harry dived towards the nest, but the dragon was faster. With another roar, flame spewed, and she lunged, claws and teeth flashing. Harry pulled out in a snap, retreating to the air over her. Off to the side, Bagman kept the commentary up, wondering out loud what Harry’s next move would be. Considering their brainstorming session, Draco expected him to transfigure an animal or use the Animation Charm to lure the dragon away.

Which was why he drew in a sharp breath the same as everyone else when Harry cast sonorous and let out a loud, vibrating, hiss.

The dragon was silent, shocked like the rest of the audience. Unlike the mortals, however, she came to quickly and roared in response. Draco couldn’t understand her the same way Harry apparently could, but even he heard the anger. Another burst of flame chased Harry, but he responded with another loud hiss. Parseltongue sounded like little more than hisses and strange vowels from deep in his throat. It was nothing like what the dragon sounded like, but they seemed able to communicate, nonetheless.

Whatever Harry said must have been right, because the dragon turned and sniffed her eggs. She growled loudly and picked up the golden one in her teeth before tossing her head and flinging it in the air. With a dive that proved he really was the best Seeker at the school, Harry caught the egg before retreating out of the rink. The dragon roared and shot flame around before the handlers came in to get her under control.

It took several moments, but the crowd eventually began clapping. It seemed a strange mix of those who were glad that Hogwarts had done well and those who were uncomfortable with the fact that a Dark Skill had been openly used. The Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students were all whispering to each other, the latter looking intrigued.

Pansy, a perfect mask of surprise with just a hint of interest, slid her eyes over to him. “Oh my, I wasn’t expecting that.”

“Neither was I. Excuse me.” Draco wove his way through the stands, ignoring the sneers and distrusting looks from the other Houses.

Harry had used Parseltongue. Despite his claimed hatred of the Dark Arts, despite the fight, despite the fact that he was the Boy-Who-Lived, he’d used Parseltongue. It was… something that Draco wasn’t quite comfortable naming. He’d done it in public. There would be no hiding that. Not now.

Harry had offered Draco his hand, in a strange echo of that first day on the train, all those years ago. And he hadn’t pulled away when Draco had grabbed his forearm.

Sometimes, Draco wondered how much attention Lady Fate really paid to him.


 

Adrenaline still pumping through his veins, Harry’s breath came in great heaves. His throat burned from the sonorous- turns out, Parseltongue wasn’t meant to be shouted at angry mother dragons. At least she had listened to him, when he’d warned of a fake egg meant to hurt her other hatchlings.

Though he wished she hadn’t gotten his eyebrows before he’d caught her attention. Draco would be so disappointed in his fashion sense.

Madam Pomfrey bustled through the medical tent that had been set up. Further in, Cedric- who Harry had told about the dragons- and Fleur Delacour were both being treated for burns while a liberal amount of cream was being applied to Krum’s arm.

“Well,” Pomfrey was saying, “There’s nothing much to be done. Just apply this cream before you go to bed for the next two nights and you should be alright.” With a nodded thanks, he stalked out, egg in hand. Outside, the stands were nearly quivering, everyone ready to leave but wanting to hear the final scores. In the end, the judges stood to give the scores. Karkaroff and Bagman both gave him tens, Maxime gave him a nine, while Crouch- unsurprisingly considering his vendetta against Dark Arts- gave him a six. Dumbledore took the longest. The Headmaster stared at him, long and hard with a faint air of disappointment. There seemed to be a question, maybe a worry, hiding behind the dimmed twinkle in his eyes. Harry stared back defiantly, head high, until Dumbledore finally released an eight into the air. Forty-three.

Bagman, ever the announcer, went through the scores again. Harry and Delacour were tied in first, while Cedric was in second with thirty-nine and Krum in last with thirty-seven.

Retreating to the tent, Harry listened as Bagman gave them the most vague explanation ever while his mind circled. Even with using a Dark Skill, Harry had managed to eke out a first place spot. The crowd had cheered, despite the obvious hesitation at the Parseltongue. Clearly, this was one of the days where he was back to being a Messiah.

It had been spur of the moment, when it was clear that he couldn’t get around the dragon. A snap decision that might’ve saved his life. He’d felt the heat on his arm (which was still tingling despite Madam Pomfrey’s administrations), and all he could think of was Draco grabbing his forearm, of the twins telling him that friends changed and that was okay. Of Draco offering him the solution to his freak out when he’d come charging to him in the middle of the night.

Harry had used the spell he’d seen Bagman use at the World Cup, and had thought of snakes and hisses and hadn’t questioned it when the dragon responded, even if she spoke more with impressions than real words. It had worked, he was alive. And he was in first place.

Harry hadn’t realized how badly he wanted to win until he was faced with the fact that he could . Everyone lauded him as a hero for something that happened to him, not because of him. He wondered, with a viciousness that astounded him, what it would be like for them to respect him for something that he’d actually done. How they would look at him if he made something of himself and created greatness for himself. Maybe than they wouldn’t turn on him so quickly.

This thought process, bizarre and unusual as it was, was interrupted by two familiar individuals.

“Harry!” Hermione slammed into him, her curls strangling him and her arms locking him in place. He froze, thoughts of Dudley pinning him to the ground, of Vernon throwing him to be locked in his cupboard, all circling like sharks ready for the feeding.

Within half a second, he’d pushed her off and took a few steps back. Behind her, Ron stood, looking uncomfortable and ill at ease. She frowned, but barreled on with the usual Hermione energy.

“Oh, when I saw it was dragons, I was so worried! I mean, how could you have prepared for this all on your own? Did you know?” He didn’t have a chance to answer, because she continued, a hurricane of curls and opinions. “You should’ve told me, you know I would’ve helped you.”

Fiery anger rose, quick as a viper. Hermione had left him, same as Ron, just because she was upset he’d broken the rules so completely. And yet here she was, telling him… this . “And when would I have mentioned it, Hermione? After the disappointed scowls and before the self-important looks?”

She faltered, unused to Harry responding like that. “Look, Harry…” When she didn’t follow up with anything, Ron stepped forward.

“Mate, we’re sorry. We were right prats.”

“You were.”

It was Ron’s turn to falter but he persisted. “We never should have left you to figure this out by yourself.”

“He’s right,” Hermione said. She stepped forward as if to hug him, but he kept the distance. Her eyes teared as she whispered, “We understand why you did it. We know how much you hate Parseltongue, and this was clearly a rough patch for you. We’re not mad, just wished you’d come to us before turning to the Dark.”

“I- what?!” They were telling him that it was alright. As if it was something to be ashamed of. It was , one voice said, while another piped up and told him to hex their mouths shut. Perhaps the muggles had something right to the whole angel and devil on your shoulder thing. Too bad one sounded like Dumbledore while the other sounded like a cultured drawl that was slowly becoming welcomed. At the moment, Harry rather thought he preferred Draco. He told Harry the truth, even if the truth was that Harry was a moronic git. Ron and Hermione… they had been his friends for years, been through so much, but even now they weren’t apologizing.

Well, they were , but it was a different sort of apology then the one that Draco had made. This was the kind of apology that had nothing behind it. A “sorry” that they expected to fix everything as if it was a magic spell. Draco was a prat, and bigoted, and pompous, and Harry had never heard him utter a sincere “sorry” in his life, but his apology had been real. Convoluted and indirect, but real.

Friends change , George had told him. Harry rather thought it was time to take the words to heart.

Before he could do so, however, Ron looked over Harry’s shoulder and glared. “What are you doing here?” Somehow, Harry knew exactly which cultured voice would fill the air before it actually did, and he turned to find Draco standing there. His hands were tucked away in the folds of his closed robes, his back straight and chin titled. Even with all his confidence, Harry could spot the tension in him, like a spring ready to unwind.

Draco ignored Ron completely, turning to Harry. Despite the three feet separating them, Harry could see how closed off and wary his gray eyes were. Regardless, he gave a small smirk. “Glad to see you took my advice.” Public. This was public and not at all possible to hide. It had been Draco that had suggested the secrecy, and Harry hadn’t wanted people to judge him further so he’d agreed. But this...

You told him to use Parseltongue?” Hermione bit out, “Well, that explains it.”

“I told him,” Draco said calmly, though the murder in his glare told a different story, “Good luck and to stay alive. Which is more than you’ve done.” He sneered then, and Harry knew that the disgust wasn’t for show. Harry wondered briefly what about Hermione disgusted Draco to such a degree, but decided he probably didn’t want the answer lest it was something as stupid as her blood.

“As if.” Ron snorted. “Mate, ignore the git. He’s a slimy-“

“That git,” Harry interrupted coldly, and was surprised when Ron stepped back. “Has been a better friend than you, in the past few weeks.” Ron and Hermione gaped, but Harry decided he didn’t care anymore. Friends got in fights, sure, but they didn’t abandon one another. Turning his back dismissively, he sauntered over to Draco.

“So, Draco, what did you think of the placements? I rather expected Krum to do better.” Draco, bless him, caught on and smoothly transitioned into the conversation. 

“While Dumbledore and Bagman both like big, showy things with little finesse, they’re each loyal to Hogwarts so it wasn’t enough to make up for the fact that Maxime prefers more artful plays. And Crouch hates anything to do with Durmstrang, so it really was a given that he wouldn’t get many points.”

Humming thoughtfully, Harry allowed Draco to lead him away. Soon, two figures, a male and female, both in green, appeared a little ways ahead. Draco gave him a sidelong look, something unnamed but hopeful in his face.

“Would you like to meet my friends?” Another olive branch. Another choice. One Harry wanted, he found. 

“Yes. I think I would.”

For some reason, Harry felt like he was stepping away from the past, and into the future.

Chapter Text

November-December, 1994

Pansy adores the response to Potter leaving the First Task with Slytherins. It’s foul, suspicious, and offensive to anyone who actually cares about Potter. It lasts weeks, and Potter gets plenty of chances to learn to dodge in the halls. In short, it’s everything she loves about Hogwarts.

Potter, as he wanted absolutely nothing to do with facing the school after his show of Parseltongue, brought them to the kitchens for dinner. (Pansy thought that hiding away took away whatever power he’d gained from using his ability in the open, but if he wanted to throw away any standing he’d improve, so be it.) Right off the broom, Potter makes an effort. The fact that it takes an effort at all for him to play nice with a couple of “slimy Slytherins” should be horribly offensive, but Draco’s quiet but steady joy at having his friends get along is worth it.

They cooperate, keeping their tones stubbornly pleasant and absolutely nothing like they usually are. Draco notices, of course he does, but he’s too busy keeping an eye on Potter and making sure he doesn’t horribly offend members of the highest pureblood class.

Blaise slips up, just once. Honestly, Pansy thinks it isn’t so much of a slip as it is a test, but Potter doesn’t need to know that. A single line, a sneer and insult more subtle than Potter has ever thrown around in reference to Potter’s abysmal posture.

“Judge my manners after you face a nesting mother dragon, Zabini.” It wasn’t much, first years do better in the Snake Pit, but it showed he had claws and he wasn’t afraid to use them. Pansy spied the glitter of interest in Blaise’s eyes and knew she had the same look.

The next day, the fact that Potter had left the tournament with Slytherins was all over the school. The fourth years all got looks from the upper years, especially Draco, but no one was uncouth enough to ask outright and none of them gave in to the silent inquiries.

When Potter walks into the Great Hall, he glances over to the Gryffindor table once, before turning to the Slytherins. He catches Draco’s eye, and doesn’t hesitate another second when he receives an invite in the form of a tilted head. Draco and Blaise part like water, and Potter takes the seat as soon as Draco gestures to it. After exchanging greetings with Draco, he turns to Pansy and waits for her to greet him, and then does the same with Blaise. Her first because she’s Sacred 28 and part of British nobility. Blaise because, even though he holds no title in Britain and thus is technically bellow Potter, he’s Italian royalty and only the Blacks could possibly stand on the same footing as the Zabinis.

Draco passes introductions with the rest of the fourth years and, when they get curious and lean closer, the older years and Quidditch team. Sneers, a few hisses and not so quiet insults come at him, but Potter doesn’t seem to care. His obviously fake but not disagreeable smile stays firmly in place. Not once did Potter break decorum or traditions. He was rough, clearly new to it, but he was polite without being weak, sharp without injuring. New to the game, but still a player.

Perhaps he had claws and fangs.


 

Sirius Black was a lot of things. Lord, wizard, convict. Auror, Black, Animagus. Worse, because of his absurd etiquette and politics training, he knew exactly what all his titles were and what order to give them.

Technically, he was The Right Honorable Sirius (Orion Arcturus) Black III, Duke of Black, Lord of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black, member of the Order of the Phoenix, escaped convict of Azkaban, and accomplished Auror and wizard.

His favourite title, however, and the one that would never be in that list, was blood-adoptive father of Hadrian James (Black) Potter. He just never thought he’d get to use it.

Until, that is, a letter arrives on the wings of a beautiful snowy owl.

Snuffles,

I’ve thought about it a lot, and I’ve realized something.

Something shines brighter than whatever betrayal I feel at wanting to “replace” my parents, and that is the fact that I am desperate for one thing: a family. In my first year, I looked into the Mirror of Erised and saw James and Lily Potter. It was the first time I’d ever seen my parents.

I wish I’d gotten to know them, but I think they would’ve been happy that I was taken care of and loved. I’ve done a lot of things in my life, and even more is expected of me. I know it is.

In the past three weeks, things have changed. I’ve changed. It’s scary, but I think change can be a good thing.

I’m not the baby you decided to name Heir. I’m not even the young Gryffindor from first year or the one you met in third. I’m just me, and I don’t know if you want that. But if you do, I want you.

Give Hedwig your answer whenever you’re ready.

H.P.

He doesn’t hesitate to Summon ink and parchment. His response is quick, decisive, and Sirius doesn’t even bother waiting to send it.

I will always want you, no matter what. I chose you the day you were born, and I’ll choose you every day till I die and beyond.

Friday, midnight. Same place.

Snuffles.

There’s so much more that needs to be said. So many things that Sirius needs to learn, understand before he can truly be a father to Harry. But that can wait until he has his son- his son- in front of him. Until he can look Harry in the eyes and tell him to his face how much Sirius loves him.

Friday can’t come fast enough.


 

Sirius doesn’t wait as Padfoot this time. He doesn’t have the patience for it, and this is more important than playing a joke. Harry will always be more important.

When he spies a head of black (James’s hair was lighter than that, he thinks with a small thrill) he steps out of the shadows and drags Harry into a hug. Immediately, he feels him lock up, but he doesn’t let go.

“It’s alright, Harry. I’m here. You’re safe, I got you.” Sirius hates that he has to continue murmuring reassurances. He knows what that means, that Harry stiffens and takes several long minutes to relax in his arms. Sirius did the same thing when he came to Hogwarts as a first year, and it took James’s casual touches, and Remus’s warm contact for him to realize that hugs are normal, and someone who loves you would never hurt you.

Trying to put all of that into a single hug is hard, though, so Sirius draws back after a few long minutes. This will take time, and rushing in and killing whoever drove his son to this is not a real solution. Not yet, at least.

Another beat of silence passes before they both open their mouths at once.

“Harry-“

“Sirius-“

They laugh, but neither seems inclined to mention the hysteria in it. Sirius gestures for Harry to go first.

“I-“ There’s tension in his young shoulders and Sirius hates it, but doesn’t rush him. This is new and uncertain for both of them and the best thing for them is to take the time they need. “I want complete honesty,” he blurts. “I think that’s the best chance we have for this working.”

“Alright.” It’s a good policy to have, and Sirius will do anything for Harry, so giving him honesty is the easiest thing Harry could ask for.

It takes a few heavy swallows, but Harry eventually says, voice quiet and unsure, “I feel like wanting you as a dad is somehow a betrayal to them.”

A part of Sirius dies a little, but Harry had asked for complete honesty so that’s what he would get. “Your dad wasn’t a fan of the idea. He barely wanted you to have the Potter Heirship. Your mum helped me convince him.”

“My mum?” Big green eyes, so hauntingly familiar, yet unique in their own way. Warmth fills Sirius, and he manages a small smile.

“She was just as much as my best friend as your dad. A sister to me in all but blood. When I told her I wanted to be her son’s second father, she jumped at the idea.” Lily was an amazing woman, and Sirius feels an ache in his heart for his dead friends. His dead family. No more, he thought. He wouldn’t lose anyone else.

He hesitates, before saying, “James and Lily will always be your first parents. I can’t change that, and I don’t want to. We don’t have to have a normal father-son relationship. You can call me Sirius or Uncle Padfoot, for all that I care. I just want to take care of you Harry. I want to get to know you and be able to listen to your complaints about homework and your girl problems. I want to be there for you because that’s where I should’ve been for the past thirteen years and I wasn’t. I wish I wasn’t on the run and I could go to your Quidditch games and meet your friends, but for right now, I’ll take whatever I can get.” There’s another beat of quiet, before he adds in a whisper, “I’ll take whatever you can give me.”

Harry makes a choking sound in the back of his throat, and Sirius panics for a second. Did he mess up? But when he looks, there are tears in Harry’s eyes and it takes three tries before he can get words out.

“I- I want a dad, so much it hurts. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia-“

Petunia?! Sirius feels rage, burning hot and bright, flood him. Anyone who knew Lily at all, knew that Petunia was the last place she would want Harry to go. But this really isn’t the time for that, so Sirius lets Harry go on without commenting.

“-hate me, and they hate magic. But more than that, I just want a family and I barely know you but in a grand total of the maybe six hours we’ve talked, you’ve shown you care about me more than anyone else and I want that so badly. I just don’t know if I could jump into it, I don’t know if I could just call you dad or even Father but you’re more to me than an Uncle a-and-“ Harry’s rambling now, and tears are pouring down his cheeks, vivid and clear. This time, when Sirius pulls him into a bone crushing hug, he goes with it, leaning fully and burying his face in the dark folds on Sirius’s shoulder.

“We can take it as slowly as you want, Harry. You have no obligation to me, and we’re not hurried. Whatever you want. I’ll do anything for you, pup. Absolutely anything.” As Sirius lets his son, his amazing, bright, perfect son, cry into his shoulder for the first- but certainly not the last- time, he means it with every fiber of his being. He was a Lord, and a convict, and a Black. But more than that, he was a father, and that was the greatest title someone could hold.


Potter- Harry, actually, after their fourth study session- is a Sorrento puzzle box. Mysterious, difficult, but satisfying when you took him apart. Blaise had yet to reach the satisfying phase, so now he’s just annoyed. And amused, which were basically his base emotions anyway. Harry just increased them.

He was intelligent in the most indirect way Blaise had ever seen, and often couldn’t explain how he’d come to a conclusion, just that he had. His wand work was amazing, and Blaise was pretty sure he had even more raw magic than he used, which was curious. Harry was always uncomfortable when someone was clearly impressed with his magic, which made no sense to Blaise. If you had the power, use it. Don’t disgrace the gift given to you by Mother Magick. Their fifth study session together, Blaise finally couldn’t take it anymore.

“Stop holding back!” There was a twitch in Draco left eye and Pansy’s quill fell off the table, which were clearer signs that he’d shocked them than if they’d started.

“I’m not holding back.” His face stayed stubbornly pleasant, but his tight voice gave him away. They’d been teaching him the rules of the game, refusing to answer direct questions until he could ask them without asking, hitting him with stinging hexes until he hid his emotions. It was one thing to be upfront with your friends, but he had to learn. He hung around Slytherins now, and any reactions would be used against him. Besides, they weren’t friends, not really. Harry was friends with Draco and Draco was friends with Pansy and Blaise was kind of friends with her and allies with Draco, which meant a whole lot of subtle nuances that he didn’t feel like dealing with when he just wanted Harry to stop holding back.

“Yes, you are. I saw you cast that Bird-Conjuring Charm with eagles. I saw you cast a Sonorous loud enough to talk to a dragon. The entire school knows for a fact that you cast a Patronus as a third year. Don’t fucking tell me that you can’t Summon something from your dorm.” It was more direct than Blaise liked to be, but sometimes you had to hit Harry over the head to get him to learn. Besides, Blaise wouldn’t be surprised if he could use the Summoning Charm for something in Hogsmeade. A Patronus, as a thirteen year old. Blaise knew Lords of Most Ancient Houses that couldn’t do that spell.

“None of that matters! I’m perfectly average-“

“You are not, and there’s no use pretending otherwise.” Normally, Blaise wouldn’t care. In truth, he would make the assumption that he was holding back so Blaise didn’t get a good feel for how strong he was. It was something Blaise would do, and as such he would’ve left it alone. But Harry wasn’t like that, only a blind, deaf, donkey would think he was, and so there was no other reason for him to be holding back. Magic was a gift, a blessing that you should be ecstatic to have. Something to be celebrated. Not everyone had this connection to the earth and the Goddess, some went their entire lives without feeling the rush of magic and power in their blood and Harry Potter was so, so gifted he probably had enough magic for three without even realizing it. Yet he held back. He went through his school years with average marks and slumped shoulders. It was ridiculous, and made Blaise want to send a Bombarda at his head.

“Harry,” Pansy says, soft and understanding in the wake of Blaise’s anger and frustration. She was so good at getting information that she always knew what the best way to do it was. Sometimes blackmail, sometimes understanding, sometimes disgust. Honestly, Blaise wasn’t even sure which of her emotions were authentic half the time. “Why won’t you use your full power?”

A flicker of unease accompanied by uncertainty and vulnerability passes over Harry. He’s gotten better at controlling his face, but Blaise has also gotten better at reading him. The vulnerability is what really makes Blaise understand why he’s hesitating. Blaise hates to be vulnerable. Any Slytherin worth their House did. It could be used against you, it was a risk that could end in disaster. But what could Harry Potter have to be ashamed of? What could possibly make him hide his power, even from himself?

Harry looks around their small circle, just the four of them since Crabbe and Goyle refuse to hang out with a Potter. He must see something, must come to some conclusion, because he takes a deep breath.

“My aunt and uncle, the ones that have… raised me. They- they don’t like magic. Back when I was a kid, I didn’t know it was accidental magic, obviously, but I knew the strange things that kept happening were my fault. I just wanted them to stop so I learned to- I don’t know, push it away? It’s… hard to just stop trying to be normal.” Every word sounded like it was forced, and his throat kept working. Oh, Mother of Magick, Blaise suddenly had a new suspicion about Harry’s childhood. And the way he said that, “stop trying to be normal” as if magic was the unnatural thing.

“They-“ Draco chokes, a strange gurgle of rage coming from his throat. It was so un-Malfoy that Blaise was too surprised to laugh. “They punished you for magic?!” Blaise didn’t blame him for his shock or repulsion. Accidental magic meant that a child was blessed, that they were a part of this amazing culture. It was to be commemorated, honored. Some families believed in corporal punishment, which was horrible but a truth of the world. But no magical family, no matter how low or Dark, would ever punish a child for magic.

Harry shrugged, uncomfortable and stiff and Blaise wonders if Harry thinks they’ll hate him for this. But more than that, Blaise wonders if anyone has ever tried to help Harry. If anyone has tried to fix what his guardians (he wants to curse at the mere thought of calling them that) had done. To deny your magic, to push it down day after day in self-preservation would create a block on it. Blaise couldn’t even begin to comprehend how this must have affected Harry, in mind, body, and magic.

“Listen to me.” Blaise leans forward, pitches his voice the same way he does when Mother makes him give public speeches. The way that draws attention, that makes people listen. “Magic is a gift. A beautiful, wonderful gift that connects us to the elements around us and the very energy in the air. Lady Magick is the Mother of All and She blesses us with Her powers. Before it was made illegal, everyone celebrated the Sabbats because it honored Her and empowered Her and in return, She kept our gifts strong. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. You are a wizard, and a damn powerful one at that.” Some would give anything for a drop of that. Some had tried and payed the price.

“Every time you had an outburst, every time you made something shatter in your anger, every single time that your magic protected you, it was Our Lady telling you that She sees you, and She loves you enough that She has blessed you with Her power.” There’s something in the air as he speaks. It’s heavy around him, full of power and energy. The hair on the back of his neck stands on end and Blaise has the queer feeling that Magick is here, and She approves. “You are a wizard. You are one of us, Harry, and never let anyone make you believe that is any less of a gift than it is.”

Harry nods, and gulps, and his eyes are shining nearly as much as Pansy’s. Blaise doesn’t like to make speeches, prefers to stand in the back and make sarcastic comments. But this was Harry Potter, Heir of House Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived. He was a wizard and Blaise wouldn’t let him forget that.

He also wouldn’t let Harry keep suppressing his power. Pansy and Draco would help, he knew. There was no way Harry would keep believing, no matter how unconsciously, that magic needed to be hidden away.

“Okay,” Harry says roughly. “Okay.” It seems to be a promise, somehow. There’s influence in whatever conclusion Harry has come to, and Blaise thinks that maybe he just had an impact on something bigger than him.

Maybe they are friends, after all.


 

Daphnia “Daphne” Hazel Greengrass was intelligent. More than that, she was clever. Which is why she was smart enough to stay out of Slytherin politics. The Greengrasses were traditionally neutral in most conflicts, always choosing to vote on legislation on a base by base case, instead of signing their loyalty- and vote- over to either the traditional or progressive parties. When the biggest players in her year were Draco Malfoy- son of a suspected Death Eater and most certainly a traditional in every sense- Blaise Zabini- the son of the “Black Widow” and part of the royal family of Wizarding Italy- and, if he ever got off his creepy ass and actually took part, Theo Nott- a scarier, more subtle and eerier version of Malfoy- you learned to stay out of it. Neutrality meant you could stay back and watch the big sharks destroy each other before stepping in.

That’s not to say she had been doing nothing in the three and nearly half years she’d been in the Snake Pit. No, not at all. Allies, connections, favors. All things she dealt in. Arranging tutoring for Peregrine Derrick of the sixth years with Marcy Belby from Ravenclaw, convincing Lucas Bole to get Firewhiskey into the castle to sell to the Quidditch captains in Hufflepuff and Slytherin, getting Felix Rosier indebted to you because you saved his right hand from a month of detentions, all moves on the chess board. Just quiet moves.

Which is why, when Daphne saw Malfoy, Zabini and Parkinson all forming an alliance that looked an awful lot like real friendship she was curious. When she saw that they were friends with Harry Potter after the First Task, she was intrigued.

When she overheard Zabini telling Potter that magic was a gift, she was hooked.

They were teaching Potter about their culture. Which meant Potter didn’t know said culture. The Potters had been neutral before James Potter, Grandfather even spoke fondly of Lord Charles, which was a high honor. The Selwyns had been leaning more and more towards the traditional side of votes, lately, and Father was worried. Perhaps it was time to make a few more connections.

Potter was turning fifteen this summer, after all.


 

Slytherins were Dark, and evil and deserved anything thrown at them. That, at least, was what other Houses believed. Whether it held any truth or not didn’t matter, because the truth was that Slytherins still had to deal with it.

Which is why their group- Pansy, Blaise, Draco, and Harry- were in the abandoned classroom they liked to meet up in, with an additional two guests.

“What the fuck?” Sometimes, Blaise loved Harry. He was a breath of fresh air, with his blunt, no-nonsense attitude he had going on. They were trying to get him to be a Slytherin, meaning more subtle and less obnoxious. In general, he’d been doing great, but when things were serious and it was just them, he didn’t tend to bother.

“It’s nothing,” Blaise soothed, at the same time that Tracy Davis snapped;

“Stop moving or I’ll leave you bleeding.”

“No you won’t,” Pansy added from where she was checking her nails.

In the corner next to the door, Daphne Greengrass raised a perfect blonde eyebrow. “Are you threatening her?”

“No, just stating a fact.” The temperature seemed to drop five degrees, simply from Greengrass’s blank stare. “Everyone knows that Davis is too nice to let a Slytherin bleed out.” Greengrass seems to accept this, as much as the Ice Princess accepts anything. Meaning, with a blank stare that made you feel like you were an unworthy slug who deserved to perish.

Man, the blood loss must really be getting to Blaise.

“Seriously, what the fuck?” Harry repeated. “I left you alone for half an hour.”

Draco, the only other sane one, apparently, sighed deeply. His clothes were rumpled, and his hair stood on end. Clearly, Blaise was in worse condition than he thought if Draco allowed himself to be so disheveled with others in the room.

“Harry, think. We’re Slytherins, the entire school hates us on a good day. Right now, they think we’ve brainwashed you and convinced you to turn Dark. Of course they’ll attack more often than typical.”

“And this?” Harry makes a vague motion towards Davis and Greengrass, which, alright, fair. Harry’s been sitting at the Slytherin table every meal since the Task (when Snape made a few comments, Draco gleefully pointed out that there was no official rule forcing people to sit at their own tables for anything not the Sorting Ceremony. It was dropped, after that) so he’s met his share of Snakes, and he knows it’s not normal for the girls to help them.

No one answers for a bit, because this is Slytherin politics at its finest. They all want to kill each other, they all want to use each other, but at the end of every day, they are all Slytherins. Which means they watch out for one another. But that’s not exactly something they announce to the whole school.

Present a unified front, always. But that didn’t apply to unused dungeon classrooms turned into hangout areas.

Surprisingly, it’s Greengrass that speaks up.

“Slytherins are targets, so we make a point of having one person in each year trained in basic Healing spells. It’s always a neutral, and that person is always off limits. They help their year, and if something is too great for them, they pass it to the year above. The sixth year Healer, as seventh has NEWTs, trains someone in the new first year class and gives them books to study from. After that, the Healer is expected to figure it out and work hard on it. Tracy is the Healer for our year.”

“Pomfrey?” Harry asks, but it’s a token gesture at best. He doesn’t need any of them to tell him that going to the mediwitch is just begging to have questions asked and accusation leveled towards the Snakes if given the chance. Instead, Harry asks a much more pertinent question. “Revenge?”

“I thought you Lions were all about forgiveness?” Greengrass is as glass faced as normal, but there’s a predatory intent in her eyes as she looks at Harry.

“Lions protect their own, same as snakes.”

Harry really was coming along greatly.

Draco’s slips twitch into a smirk and he finally casts some cleaning charms on his robes. Pansy, the devil, gives her you-won’t-find-the-body smile. Apparently, not even Greengrass’s presence could keep her bimbo routine up.

“They won’t be bothering us for a long while.”

Harry nods, before turning and narrowing his eyes. “Body?” he asks, and he doesn’t sound as worried as he probably should be.

Pansy pouts. “As if I would be so stupid.”

Draco huffs, amusement dancing in his gray eyes. “They’ll be fine as soon as they’re found and taken to the Healer’s Wing.”

Davis pulls back, finally done healing the torn shoulder Blaise was sporting. He could’ve sworn her lips were twitching.

“There’s a Russian Crushing Curse. It slowly squeezes the targeted area, pressure equal to the spell power obviously. Aimed at the throat it does wonders.” They all pause, except Davis, and turn to Greengrass. She seems completely unphased by suggesting a spell that Blaise knows is illegal in Britain.

“You don’t usually offer spell help in class,” Harry finally says, the first to recover because he probably doesn’t realize that spell is all kinds of not allowed. A good attempt at a subtle inquiry on why she’s helping them suddenly.

“The Greengrasses are neutral, have been for generations. Same as the Potters, actually.” Oh. This made sense now. Greengrass always stayed around while Davis healed, insurance of a kind. Protection for her friend. But she never spoke up, never commented. But if she wanted to feel out Harry, maybe make a connection with him…

Harry blinks once but otherwise doesn’t react. Blaise is proud that he’s no longer an open book, but he’s even more proud of the positively devilish smirk that overtakes Harry a second later.

“Why don’t you teach me that spell?”

They don’t sleep that night, but that’s alright. They all have History of Magic first thing (except Harry, the poor Lion) and listening to Greengrass share her extensive repertoire of spells while watching Harry- the best Defense student in the school, never mind his age- put them in action in a few practice duels against the rest of them is worth it.

And if Greengrass and Davis appear a few more times that week, no one really questions it.


 

They only had morning classes that day, so they’d been studying in the library when a sixth year Hufflepuff, skittish and sweating buckets, had brought Harry a note summoning him to speak with the Headmaster after dinner.

It didn’t take a genius to figure out it was because Harry had been hanging out with Slytherins.

Blaise had immediately leaned back, physically removing himself from the conversation as a bored façade slammed over his features. The first sign that he was uncomfortable. Draco sneered a comment about the Headmaster wanting to meet up with the precious “Boy-Who-Lived” and turned resolutely towards his book on transfiguration. Only the tension in his shoulders betrayed him.

Pansy couldn’t even blame them for bringing up their defenses. Harry had been worshiping the ground Dumbledore walked on since first year. The man had brought Harry to this world, was his magical guardian. He was also so biased against the Slytherins it was surprising he hadn’t just removed the House from Hogwarts. Pansy had little doubt that Harry would listen if Dumbledore started preaching about the vileness of the Slytherins again.

Something tightened in her chest, and Pansy was startled to realize it was disappointment. She liked Harry. He was funny and sarcastic when he let himself go and forgot to be a Gryffindor. His very existence created waves in Slytherin and every time one of the older years sent a sneer his way, he had a response. Slowly, he was carving himself a place in Slytherin. She would miss him.

Wasn’t that strange? Draco was really the only person she considered a friend. Slytherin House wasn’t a place for friendships, not really. But Harry was changing that, forcing all of them to be closer, drawing them all into his orbit.

She didn’t bother hiding her evaluation of him. Greengrass and Davies were nowhere around so she didn’t have to keep acting like a bimbo, and Harry knew her enough to know she liked to analyze people. He seemed conflicted, something in his face tight and unhappy.

“He’s going to tell me not to hang out with you guys.”

Off to the side, Blaise and Draco’s disinterest became a little more forced.

“Probably,” Pansy told him, because he was carving himself a place with her and he deserved the truth, even if he was a few hours away from dumping them.

Harry looked up, swept his eyes over the three of them. They’d been learning about him, but Pansy was suddenly reminded that Harry had been learning them as well. Their tells. Something shifts in his face suddenly, giving way to determination and displeasure.

“Well, he can bugger off.”

Pansy feels her eyebrow twitch before she can stop it, and Blaise and Draco give him their attention, even if they don’t remove the blank masks.

“What do you mean?” Harry looks at her like she’s the idiot here.

“You’re my friends. Of course I’m not going to stop hanging out with you just because he wants me to.” Harry makes a face, clearly displeased. “Also, considering he’s been lying to me for my entire life, I’m not a big fan of his right now.”

The thing tightening in her chest loosens, and she has the absurd urge to hug him. Which is ridiculous because hugs ruin clothes and she’s not in the mood for that, ever.

“He’s not just going to let you ignore him,” Draco points out. “What are you going to do, exactly?”

Harry shrugs indifferently. “Lie to him, I guess.” Lie to Albus Dumbledore, just because he doesn’t want Harry to be friends with Slytherins. Just because he doesn’t want Harry to be friends with them.

“Don’t look him in the eyes.” Harry turns to Pansy, brows furrowed. Yeah, that was a little random and this really isn’t the place to discuss this but Harry has to know. He’s doing this for them which means he’s chosen them which means she has to take care of him now. “I can’t explain this to you, not here or now, but whatever you do, don’t look him in the eyes. Whatever lie you give, make it seem like you’re uncomfortable, uncertain. Anything to keep your eyes directed to your lap. If you have to look up, stare at the point under his nose.”

Harry stares at her a second, but eventually nods. “Alright.” No questions, no doubt. Just trust.


 

It’s wrong. They had messed up, sure, but it’s still wrong. Harry is a Gryffindor and he’s the Boy-Who-Lived, and there was no reason for him to be hanging out with Slytherins.

Normally, Hermione wouldn’t mind Harry befriending people in other Houses. It rubbed her the wrong way, that she wasn’t enough for him and Ron, but alright. And she’d even be okay with Slytherins in theory because that could mean helping them turn from the Dark. But Dumbledore had been frowning a lot more lately and he never tried to get the Slytherins to integrate more so clearly, he didn’t think it was something they should worry about. Maybe he thought they were too far gone or something. Either way, if Dumbledore didn’t think it should be done, then Harry definitely shouldn’t be hanging out with them.

Which was probably why Dumbledore wanted Ron and Hermione to speak to Harry. Hermione would’ve done it anyway, mind you. Harry was her friend, her first friend, and she didn’t want to lose that. But Harry was also really stubborn, which is why she had given him time to cool down and relax from the First Task.

It seemed, however, that she hadn’t given him enough time, considering the conversation went something like this;

Hermione: “Please, Harry listen-“

Harry: “I don’t want to.”

Hermione gasping: “Harry, don’t be rude!”

Harry, while rolling his eyes: “You lost the right to command me when you turned away just because you thought I’d broken the rules.”

He’d stormed away and she felt like crying. She hadn’t meant to turn from him so completely. But this was serious, people died in the Triwizard Tournament (honestly, why Wizarding Britain was so idiotic she had no idea) and this was huge. She was used to him breaking rules, but this was too far. She had just wanted to show him things had consequences.

Clearly, Harry hadn’t done this, and she did feel bad for thinking he had. How would he have even gotten past Dumbledore’s age line, anyway? By the time she had figured that out, though, she’d already committed. Hermione decided to wait for a good time to talk to him, but he had disappeared so often, and she didn’t exactly have the Map. She had messed up, she knew she had. But why did Harry have to be so difficult?

Dumbledore would know what to do.


 

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore didn’t know what to do. Well, he knows what he wants to do, which is retire to a cabin in the woods and study alchemy and research the Hallows until he dies. Or doesn’t. That last part really depended on how the Hallows went.

That was all as likely to happen as the entire school buying him socks for Christmas.

The issue at hand, of course, was Harry Potter. He’d been doing so well, following the path laid out before him. Harry was kind, caring, self-sacrificing. The perfect Boy-Who-Lived. Every day, Albus thanked the Fates that it was Harry, not Neville, that had to walk this path.

But since the First Task, he’d been different. Befriending Slytherins, sarcastic, turning away from his Gryffindors. It didn’t make sense. Ronald was a good boy, a proper Weasley and Gryffindor, even if he did have a strong jealous streak. Harry should’ve seen that, forgiven the mistakes of a child. It’s what any good Gryffindor would do. Yet, here they were. Young Hermione had come to him, imploring help when Harry turned away from her again.

Albus did not like to step in directly. But some things had to be done for the Greater Good. Like with Sirius. The boy was floundering, living in caves and abandoned homes. Albus understood he didn’t want to go to Grimmauld Place, but the townhouse would be useful to the Order (Voldemort wouldn’t stay gone for long), and it would give Sirius a place to stay. Even if he wasn’t allowed to leave.

The wards surrounding his office went off, and he made sure to call Harry in before he could knock. It was important to set an impression, to make sure Harry understood Albus was powerful enough to help if only he asked.

“Harry, my boy. Lemon drop?”

“No, thank you, Headmaster.” Why did no one want a lemon drop? They were delicious, especially with the calming draught they were mixed with. It was important everyone was relaxed when they had difficult conversations.

“Harry, I wanted to speak to you about-“

“You want to talk to me because I’m not hanging out with Gryffindors.” Albus took a moment to process that. It was rare for him to be interrupted. Young Harry was looking down at his hands, shifting in his seat. Clearly, he regretted his hasty actions. No matter, youth made mistakes. That was why they needed their elders to guide them.

“Yes. You seem to have made a rather large turn around.”

“Draco and the others are my friends.” Just for a moment, Harry glanced up, but it wasn’t enough for eye contact. Albus didn’t make a habit of mind raping his students, but getting a peak using passive Legilimancy often helped him understand them better, which in the end helped him help them. Strange, how Harry was avoiding his eyes now. Perhaps the Slytherins…? But, no. Why would the Slytherins warn a Gryffindor about such a thing? They were not fans of sharing an advantage if there wasn’t something in it for them. Besides, Harry would never take the word of a Slytherin over Albus’s own.

“There is much past animosity between yourself and Mr. Malfoy.”

Harry shifts again. “After Ron and Hermione abandoned me,” there was certainly a touch of bitterness there. But the apologies did not seem to have an effect. “I ran into Draco. He…” Harry hesitates, and Albus does not need to use Legilimancy to see his uncertainty.

“You can trust me, Harry. You know that.”

Harry doesn’t meet his eyes, but he does nod. “I overheard him. He was talking to Pansy about how he didn’t want to help his father.”

“With what?”

Harry shakes his head. “I don’t know. But I realized that the Slytherins don’t want to be their parents any more than I want to be Uncle Vernon. Everyone seems to hate them, won’t give them the chance to prove that they’re better than where they came from. So, I thought…” Harry shrugs, seemingly done with his explanation.

Albus has long since wished he could help the Slytherins. It was a fact that they were all naturally Dark, but that didn’t mean that they couldn’t change. He’d tried, in the early years of the first war. But Tom had gotten to them first, and to pull a child away from the path it was set to walk by its parents is a difficult thing. Severus was a special case.

Possibly, though, Harry could do what he could not, in the time he had left.

“You want to change them.”

“They’re my friends,” Harry repeated. “I want them to survive and be happy.”

“Not everyone can be saved, Harry.” Albus sighs, deep and heavy. This was not a lesson he wanted to teach. This was not even a lesson he had wanted to learn. “As much as we may want, some people refuse to change for the better. Some simply don’t see how they have gone wrong.”

“Shouldn’t we try? They’re just kids, like me.” True, so very true. And wasn’t it important that they try, at least? Perhaps Albus had forgotten that everyone deserved the chance to be saved.

“It is important that they turn from the Dark,” he finally says. “Things are not as stable as some would like to believe.”

Good, this was good. Albus would prefer if Harry kept his friends in Gryffindor, but it was understandable that he would devote himself to saving the Slytherins. It was important as many people as possible turned away from the Dark.

Albus dismissed Harry with a suggestion to think about forgiving the young Hermione and Ronald.

He released a breath, laughing softly. He had nothing to worry about. Harry would walk the path he was meant to, and everything would be well.

Albus didn’t care what She had to say about it. The Olde Ways were dying out, as they should. This was a time of advances, a time of understanding. This was a time to bridge the two cultures dividing the world and bring them together as one. And the Dark, as it was, was hampering that progress. This had to happen. Everything would be alright, this way.

It was for the Greater Good.


 

Pansy had spent the last two weeks getting to know Harry an absurd amount. She had seen him groan at homework, growl at Blaise’s injuries, and face down a dragon with grim determination. She had not, however, ever seen him this upset.

They’d claimed a classroom, transfigured comfortable seats and tables and warded the entrance against entry without a password. Every Slytherin found an area to make their own, and this was no different. Even if Harry wasn’t officially a Slytherin.

Greengrass and Davis had taken to hanging around them, and for some inexplicable reason, Harry seemed to like them and Draco thought having the neutrals around was great, so Pansy didn’t really comment. She didn’t know them very well, the Parkinsons were Dark while the Greengrasses were traditionally neutral and the Davis tended to marry muggleborns every few generations and didn’t have a Wizangamot seat. Add in the fact that Greengrass found Pansy distasteful, and they generally ignored each other.

All three witches could agree, though, that Harry was slightly terrifying.

He’d gone to meet the Headmaster after dinner, and took only twenty minutes before he was bursting into their meeting room, already ranting. He stalked from one end of the room to the other, the muscles he’d developed from Quidditch rippling under his clothes as he told them the entire conversation.

Pansy had immediately declared his wardrobe a disaster when he’d begun hanging out with them, and, as she refused to hang around a rag-muffin, had gone through the effort of ordering him several more pieces. It wasn’t much, but it’d last until the winter holidays where she could take him shopping for real.

“He just,” Harry waved his arms in the air, and Pansy was almost worried he was about to have a case of accidental magic, his rage was so palpable. “He talked as if you didn’t matter. Like just because you guys are Slytherins it means you don’t get a chance. Or that you have to change.” He sneered, and Pansy was proud for the all of three seconds it lasted before he turned suddenly, pointing at all of them with an accusing finger. “None of you are allowed to change.”

Greengrass sneered from where she sat writing a Defense essay. “As if we’d change for you, Potter.”

“Drop the ice, Princess, or I’ll Incendio your robes,” Harry responded without missing a beat. Greengrass sent the Russian Crushing Curse she was so fond of (though she rarely sent it at the neck, preferring to aim it below the belt) but Harry dodged and retaliated. It dissolved quickly into a duel that Harry won, but not before Draco and Pansy got involved. In the end, they were all panting and exhausted, but Harry was smiling and the tension and anger that radiated from him had melted away.

Perhaps Greengrass had her uses.


 

Sirius was a Gryffindor. No matter what the bloody Hat suggested he was a Gryffindor. A red and gold lion, a proud member of Godric’s House. He was reckless, he was caring, and he did what was right, not what was easy.

That didn’t change the fact that he’d grown up around Slytherins.

He liked to think he was smart, even if it didn’t hit him till fifth year that grades were actually important. Sirius had mastered the Animagus transformation first, could brew well enough to stock his own home even if he didn’t enjoy it, and had been an accomplished Auror before he’d been unfairly arrested. Besides his crap-tastic OWLs in Runes, Divination, and Herbology, he was in the top ten of his year.

Sirius Black had also spent twelve years in the closest approximation to hell that wizarding kind had ever come up with. In a dank cell, surrounded by happiness-leeches and the people you’d fought for years, you tended to find yourself with a lot of time to think. If it wasn’t a good memory, if it didn’t fill you with hope and love and light, the monsters couldn’t burry it under desolation and anguish.

The betrayal by his friends was not a good memory.

Remus Lupin hadn’t visited. All those who he’d fought beside, who he thought were his allies, if not friends, didn’t question it when he was sent away. No one asked to see his trial, no one cared enough. Was the Black name such a stain that no one would look past it? Was Sirius cursed, to forever loose everything that he had?

But that wasn’t what bothered him the most.

Albus Dumbledore had been Chief Warlock on the Wizangamot since Harry was born. No trial could happen without his knowledge. Albus knew that Sirius wasn’t the Secret Keeper. Albus knew.

And he let it happen.

Albus had been leading the Light for years. When Sirius had entered Hogwarts, angry at his family and an outcast in Gryffindor, he’d been there. Always smiling and twinkling, always offering a candy. Albus was the only one that Voldemort feared. Was their best chance at beating the Death Eaters.

Sirius found he didn’t care about any of that. The cost wasn’t worth it.

At first, he’d told himself the resentment growing in his heart was because of the Dementors. That surely there was a reason for what Albus had done. Even the recent letter asking about the townhouse, wanting to use it in “the growing darkness”. There had to be a reason for everything. Sirius just couldn’t see it with the monsters affecting his emotions. This was Albus Dumbledore.

There were no Dementors around him now. Just the fresh air, the smell of wet dirt, and the hard walls of the cave. Albus sent me to Azkaban. Worse, he put Harry with them.

Petunia had no right to raise Lily’s child. Not after what happened at her wedding. She was petty, cruel, and so jealous she couldn’t see past the green in her eyes. Harry should’ve stayed with someone who would love him, and teach him how to laugh. Someone that would support him, no matter what.

Harry should’ve stayed with Sirius, but Sirius was too busy being locked up by his leader.

Albus wanted Sirius out of the way, so he could place Harry where he wanted. But why? Why did Harry have to go to the worse sort of people? Why couldn’t Sirius have taken care of his son?

Sirius was a Gryffindor, but he knew a manipulation when he saw it.

What was Dumbledore playing at?


 

Lunelle Rowena Lovegood, Luna, Loony, all names. Amazing, what power names could have. Just hearing one could affect how you perceived someone. Names were connected to titles and titles called for respect.

Lord, Lady, Duke, Duchess. Heir. She was one of those. An Heir. Well, Heiress. Heiress Luna of Lovegood. Another title. One that should mean something. Not everything was as it should be.

“Little eagle, of moon and love.” Her mother had called her that. Her little eagle. Another name, another title. This one meant something to her, though. From the corner of her eye, Luna spotted a strange creature, box shaped and crawling on seven legs. It’s three eyes sparkled in the glimmer of candlelight as it walked besides her.

“Thanks mum, I love you too.” It was always nice when her mother sent her messages.

Some would say that Luna Lovegood was mad. Crazy. Insane. Coo-coo. Some would say she belonged in the loony bin.

Luna tried to ignore them. They had nargles and wrackspurts filling their heads and controlling them.

Most people couldn’t see what Luna could, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t there. Luna could see Thestrals, and others couldn’t. It was a fact of life. Luna was different, and that was okay. She liked who she was. She liked seeing the strange things others couldn’t.

Sometimes, the creatures in the world would tell Luna things. The wrackspurts warned of self-importance. They liked to snack on egos, so one should try to avoid them. The nargles told of impurity.

Sometimes though, Luna didn’t need creatures to tell her things. Sometimes, the world told her.

Whispers and murmurs, voices strange and familiar. They told secrets and they told truths. They told of the past, and of the futures.

They told of minds turning and choices being made. They told of Nyxus Flies being burned away by voices. They told of Remoqies tug-tugging on strings in chests and pulling people away and towards.

The voices told the current of the waves in the air. They told of little moments, mere pinpricks in the Tapestry, that wove together to form a picture of lives.

Les petits moments marquent le monde,” she murmured. It was important to know French, she thought. It was a beautiful language. Everything sounded better in French.

Something in the air changed, the voices grew a little louder, and Luna paused.

Another moment.

Another shift.

Humming, Luna wondered where the world would end up. If it would be swallowed by Jörmungandr. If it would become so bright, everyone would be blinded. Or maybe, just maybe, Power could balance Sombre and Death would be happy at last. She liked that ending best, like a fairy tale of destruction and politics, a story of the world changing and fractures healing over.

A part of Luna wanted to be a part of it, but then she remembered. She wasn’t much, just a little third year. Just Loony Lovegood.

Lunelle Rowena Lovegood, Heiress of Love and Wisdom, Daughter of Magic and Mouth of Fate. There were the voices, again. This one was warm, comforting. A presence over Luna’s shoulder reminded her that no matter what others said, she was not useless. She was Luna Lovegood, and she could hear whispers of the future. Luna could see the paths, the choices before everyone. A crossroads, ever the center of life. She, just like all the rest, had a choice before her. And she knew what side she wanted to be on, in the coming conflict.

Perhaps she should try to spend some more time with her cousin.