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The wind rustled sharply through the bare branches of ancient trees. The rattling noise was familiar, having occurred many times already throughout the night.

The small town of Godric's Hollow seemed to hold its breath as an unwanted visitor prowled slowly across cracked cobblestone.

The shadows, thrown from the bare trees, lay warped on rock and ground, providing the illusion of nearly curling towards the lone figure.

It halted suddenly. His darkened cloak, half shrouded from the night itself, stood still in the middle of a barren street towards the end of one court. A single manor glowed with the warm lights of habitation. The sidings were old fashioned and decorated with iron rod fences and elaborate metalwork. Despite the bold statements of wealth, the look was tarnished with the wet splashes of aging rust and dents along the bases of each rod. A metal griffin, standing posh and incredibly out of place had been painted gold and red from the harsh corrosion only time could produce.

The gates groaned in protest as invisible claws forced the metal to bend. The gears twisted and obliged to the brute force, rattling loudly as they collided against the frame once extended entirely upon their hinges.

 

The two adults who held ownership of this manor had left, celebrating a Halloween Party only after immense amounts of poking and prodding. The two had been resilient, only after false securities and half hearted assurances were they finally convinced to leave.

The party, a small seemingly insignificant event suggested an opportunity that had otherwise been impossible. The situation had dramatically shifted to something bitterly sweet once more details had been cautiously uncovered.

 

Two infants were left inside the house, a squib witch hired for a temporary caretaker.

 

He understood the reasoning behind such an ignorant (or naive) action. A squib, integrated to the muggle society so thoroughly he hadn't even been aware of her blood relatives until only recently. Such an outlandish choice for a caretaker was unheard of- he wouldn't have suspected it for a moment. The decision although smart, hadn't been made with proper precautions in place.

 

A twisted smile warped his face once a shrill alarm pierced the relative quiet. The heavily reinforced ward crumbled with the ghastly sound of something important cracking. The suddenness in which his movements shifted from almost entirely unheard, to loud chaos spoke some unnatural confidence in abilities normally shrouded.

The woman briefly appeared in the largest front facing window, momentarily freezing before vanishing beyond the frame.  The windows were of no matter. Having plotted so long and so tediously- he could spare a moment to indulge in his certain victory.

The windows and door exploded with a grotesque rain of wooden shrapnel and warped iron. The frames cracked, teetering and knocking several panels of the house's siding to the now ruined front garden. The carefully pruned lilacs and hydrangeas smashed into the ground and old mulch.

He strolled into the house, positively feeling more giddy than he had in years. His only threat now was a useless waste of genetics, holding a kitchen knife with trembling arms.

He met her horrified eyes and knew that his own burned in excitement.

 

"Please! I-" she sobbed, arms shaking more before she ran. She bolted like a spooked horse, her feet pounding on the floor towards the stairs. It made no difference; he took his time following after. The stairs squeaked as he ascended and glanced absentmindedly at a moving photo of a mud blood witch and a pure blood fool.

He heard the squib screaming in one room. The door had been locked with a flimsy metal clasp.

She sobbed wildly, begging gibberish as she held her head and long hair between spastic fists. Hysterical, he felt a stirring of disgust for such an unseemly action. His lips twitched slightly, and the woman dropped dead, eyes glassy and mouth open in another wordless plea.

Two cribs, each on opposite walls of the room. They were separated by the squib's body and painted obnoxiously cheerful colours. Innocently they rested under little twinkling mobiles displaying special Quidditch equipment. The far crib held a chubby child with chocolate brown hair. He was curled in a tiny ball, clutching his pudgy fingers into the plush horns of an anatomically inaccurate dragon.

 

The other crib held a fairly opposite child. A possibly slim child, once accepting all infants had an unseeingly thick layer of baby fat. His hair was dark, nearly impossible to tell the specific color with the lack of illumination. He slept on his side, one arm near its face while the other lay prone near its side.

 

He was silent. The names of both children were carved into each headboard respectively. The brown haired boy has his name written with enchanted letters, glittering gold in bold font.

 

Skylar

 

The other was written in the same style and format, the letters a shimmering warm red.

 

Harry

 

Perfect.

The man let a small smile grace his normally unreadable face. Even the disgustingly muggle names wouldn’t ruin the thrilling glee that pulsed through his blood. He lifted his wand, but hesitated. His eyes shifted, glancing between both cribs pensively.

 

Which child was the imminent threat foretold? His resources had told him that both children were born the same day, almost identical with the specific requirements.

It didn't matter, overthinking it only ran the risk of the owners returning early and jeopardizing his spies.

 

"Harry Potter." The man mused, his voice caused Skylar Potter to frown in his sleep. Harry Potter shifted slightly, knocking a blanket to flutter between the railings. Harry’s crib was on the right, flush against the wall directly across from Skylar.

 

It was sheer luck (or misfortune), that Lord Voldemort chose to start on the right side that night.

 

"The last piece needed," he mused, voice rising as he pulled the ivory colored wand out from a concealed pocket. His eyes focused on the gentle exhalations of the infant and magic coursed through his limbs in excitement, "how fitting , for your death to assure my life."

 

The infant wriggled, meaty fist closing and opening in a grasping movement. It's pudgy cheeks puffed out in a small gulping snort. It was positively disgusting.

 

He grimaced, rolling the wand between his long fingers before arching his wrist in the proper stance. With almost lazy movements, the tip pointed directly between the closed eyes of the child.

 

"Avada Kedavra." He could almost feel the cold talons of death as the spell wracked through the tiny body. He could see its chest stutter, convulsing sharply as its heart jerked and struggled. The infant’s eyes opened and a piercing wail exploded from the small lungs. Harry jerked, the waves of frigid energy cascaded and escalated to a excruciating crescendo.

Harry wailed, thick tears falling from his eyes as his face reddened in his screams. His pudgy arms waved and pounded limply against the railing of his crib and the dead weight of his chest.

The spell traveled with precision to find the anchor of the infant's soul to its body. Harry Potter’s instinctive magic rose in a wave, attempting to deflect the darker power or negate the effects.

The chilling talons raked across the invisible heart of the infant, leaving gaping wounds and rips across its soul. Having missed, the spell did all that it had been known to ever do- kill.

It deflected, scratching and with a startling unanticipated wrench , tore apart the nearest target regardless of which soul it had lacerated.

 

The dark magic held within the child's body was too much. With a pain filled screech, a powerful backlash lunged through the mortar and wood. The already weakened structure groaned and ached wearily as it staggered into a state of disarray.The ceiling collapsed, walls burst, and the metal hinges melted. Nails and wood flew, giving a deep cut over the heart of Skylar Potter, painfully waking him up from his dreams, and giving him anguish over the wound.

 

Harry Potter groaned, collapsing backwards in severe weakness. The last remnants of dark magic oozed in a numbing haze through a crack just below the infant’s hairline. More chunks of wood fell, support beams crashed into the staircases and shingles collapsed through to the nursery. Both infants screamed even louder as the objects collided leaving broken bones and bruised skin.

Harry’s eyes lolled, shifting slowly from deep emerald into something toxic as the last remnants of black magic left his skull.

 

Blood, ash, a single corpse, and a black recognizable cloak rested on the floor of the destroyed nursery.

 

That night cemented the future death of more than just a dark creature.

 

 

 




‘What fun are prophecies if not to throw the unknown word of gods to simple swine and see what conclusions they misinterpret.’

Chapter Text

Harry Potter blinked and shifted quietly as he observed the chaos that had transformed his front lawn.

The grounds of the Potter Estate in Wochien had been entirely transformed with bright streamers of red and gold. Large fluttering kites filled the air, large sparking dragon kites roared and chased shimmering butterfly charmed twice the size of the reptiles.

A makeshift quidditch post had been set up on the western side of the large estate. The pitch, only half the size of a professional pitch, was equipped with miniature and charmed bludgers and an oversized quaffle.

At some point in the spectacle of paintbrushes bewitched to paint faces without the artist, or the exploding snap tournament on the far side of the patio, a bucking shelled pony managed to escape from its temporary pen.

Harry watched with faint amusement as a short wizard scrambled after to catch the strange magical creature (which seemed to enjoy his mother's hostas).

Harry flinched as two red haired twins his father seemed to be rather fond of, managed to set off a large explosion of raining fire and iridescent pixie dust. His father in question, turned from where he had been conversing with what looked like a ministry official to scold the twins. (Harry could see how his mouth quirked into a subtle grin at the two beaming boys.)

"Hello young man!" Harry cocked his head upwards to stare at the woman and man who looked at him with a slightly uncomfortable smile, "Do you happen to know a young Skylar by any chance?"

Harry blinked, and with one hand pointed to the right where the quidditch pitch had been set up.

"Oh thank you!" The woman squealed, glancing down at him in strange adoration, "You must be a friend of his! I'm Mrs. Belstha!"

Harry stared as the woman thrust her arm out for him to shake. He reached up and clamped his fingers around two of her thicker digits.

"I'm Harry," Harry stated without much inflection, "Skylar is my brother."

The two wizards looked stunned before they quickly hurried to hide it with another strained smile.

"Well! You must be so proud of your brother then! Anyways, off we go! Such a pleasure to meet you!" She chirped, taking her husband's arm and rushing off towards the shrieks and laughter of the mock quidditch match.

Harry sighed softly through his nose and shifted from where he was sitting on the porch. The white wooden slabs had recently been repainted to a bright white, already dinged with black scuff marks. Near Harry to his right, a spelled bowl clinked quietly with ice cubes filled nearly to the top of the lemonade. A platter of sandwiches sat nearby, a small snack considering the enormous cake set on the buffet table on the lawn.

Harry glanced out once he heard a muffled warning. A large bronze flamingo collided with the grown before rising with magical grinding movements.

"James Potter!" Lily- Harry's mother, shouted, "Did you charm my lawn flamingo!"

Harry's father, having seen the damage he had created started to hurry backwards with both arms raised in defense.

Harry watched as a black haired male- Skylar's godfather Sirius, threw one of the spare brooms at his father. Lily cursed playfully, chasing after him as James hurried onto the broom to escape his mother's wrath.

A few people cheered both of them on, giving whoops as James soared over the crowd standing on the broom shaft in a dramatic pose. Lily took quick work using a water charm to splash her husband down into a conjured mud pile just below.

Harry kicked his feet and looked at his fingers with slight longing.

The party was Skylar and Harry's eighth birthday. His father's old friend group of the 'Marauders' had gathered last night at the estate and started planning the event.

Skylar, the outgoing exciting child that he was, quickly proclaimed that he would have the best party anyone ever had. James and Sirius jumped at the opportunity and started plotting how exactly they could smuggle a Czech Griffin through the wards.

Harry didn't mind, he didn't care about most things. He understood that Skylar was very different from himself- Skylar seemed to glow in the press and the hoards of people always gushing with gifts or thanks for his victory over the Dark Lord. Harry, well Harry preferred to stay back and just watch, he didn't like people talking or asking him questions he didn't know the answers to.

(It wasn't that his parents purposefully ignored him, the fact was he was far too different for them to understand so any attempts for 'family bonding' generally left him anxious and trying to retreat to his room.)

His introversion was why Lily wasn't at all surprised when she approached the porch to get a spare towel that had been set out earlier.

"Hello Harry," She smiled, a slightly tired and sorrowful look as she settled next to him, "you don't want to play with you friends?" she asked quietly with a little smile.

Harry jerked his head and rested his chin on his knees, "They're Skylar's friends," He muttered under his breath.

Lily exhaled softly through her nose. "I'm sure that doesn't mean that they won't play with you?"

Harry glanced into his mother's eyes, they were darker and prettier than his own unsettling eyes. He didn't like his, they were too bright and made people twitch.

"Skylar is the seeker," Harry stated, shortly and curtly. Lily's cheek twitched and he could tell that she bit the inside anxiously.

"Well, maybe you could be the-"

"People will get angry if I'm the seeker and Skylar isn't."

Lily shifted.

"Harry, I-" She started, looking apologetic and tired at the same time, "I, I know that you didn't want a party-"

"It's Skylar's party."

"-but, how about we go to that magical animal exhibition that's near town?" Lily offered, trying to compromise, "They'll be moving on Thursday, but i'm sure we could find time."

Harry frowned, "Dad and Skylar don't like magical creatures unless they breathe fire."

"Well you don't like parties."

Harry stared with uncomprehending confusion. Lily looking uncomfortable and sadder than before.

"Harry I- I know that we haven't been the best, but you have to understand-"

"Skylar is the Boy-Who-Lived and needs extra protection because dark wizards still are angry with him," Harry chanted blankly with no tone of voice, "I know mum, Skylar is more-"

Harry cut off when Lily started to get up and looked torn and somehow furious, "Harry, I- how about tomorrow we head over to the expo. Just you and me? I thought there was something about a baby hydra there," Lily coaxed, smiling as Harry shyly glanced up hopefully, "I know your father isn't fond of reptiles, except Merlin knows he has a problem with dragons, but-"

"I think I'd like to go," Harry quietly mentioned, at once looking apprehensive, "I mean, It's okay if we need to clean up, or if Skylar wants to go somewhere else. I don't have to go, I can always-"

"We're going." Lily firmly stated. The moment was ruined when a witch called out for Lily loudly, having her grandson timidly hiding behind her large green frock coat.

Lily looked torn, but eventually the nasally cries for her company won out and she hurried over the lawn to greet the new guest.

Harry glanced back at the white paint on the deck and scraped his nail across the path of a particularly adventurous ant.

The day continued similarly, with few guests saying hello to Harry and even fewer actually remembering that he too had a birthday. The uncomfortable small talk just led Harry to believe further that they had only come for Skylar (didn't everyone?) and speaking with him was just pleasantries.

He knew that, and he knew that the party was for Skylar. Yet a portion of him felt hollow and made him gasp for ragged breaths when he saw his father hoist Skylar onto his broom with him to dive bomb Sirius with muggle water balloons.

Harry didn't like flying anyways.

Lie.

If he did, he wouldn't like sharp dives or sudden turns.

Lie.

He was perfectly content sitting on the porch and watching everyone else laugh and give Skylar his birthday presents.

Lie.

Harry was perfectly fine with the arrangement, he didn't need a party and he had come to not expect one.

It still made him feel like something had cracked inside.


Something came up, which Harry had expected would happen anyways.

Why would he be hopeful over visiting some sort of magical animal exposition when he knew that Skylar would demand attention or have some sort of after party request the family would oblige to?

(He had learned that there was no point getting hopeful over things that most likely wouldn't happen anyways.)

Instead it was Remus Lupin, his very own Godfather who had informed him early the next morning that they would be seeing the expo.

This had surprised Harry, he had been quietly told by his father that his Godfather was not entirely human. The thought hadn't ever concerned Harry, yet he hadn't ever considered that the man would want to see an array of magical oddities behind bars.

"You ready to go?" Remus asked awkwardly, wearing a slightly too big worn brown cloak. Harry glanced at his own clothing, a large jacket and his own loose pants. It wasn't as if they would have been walking into the nearest town.

Harry gave a small nod, taking Remus' huge grip with one of his smaller hands and grasping tightly. Harry flinched, resisting the urge to gag as his entire body was ripped backwards with the sensation of something pulling too sharply on a large belt. He stumbled once light flashed again. Remus hurried to kneel and steady the younger boy, who blinked in confusion but still looked around in restrained excitement.

They were in an open plaza where many stalls and glass cages had been set up. Magical creatures prowled or sat dopey behind the glass.

Remus looked uncomfortable, seeing one Manticore which stiffened and snarled aggressively once smelling the man. Harry tried not to pay any attention, but very quickly once entering the main pavilion all magical creatures seemed to hone in on Remus and snarl aggressively.

Harry's chest began to tighten once they noticed a rather suspicious looking aid drifting closer to their position.

'Don't do this, not today. This was supposed to be for me,' Harry thought quietly, already feeling the bitter tang of having to leave only half an hour after arriving.

'This was supposed to be my party,' Harry's throat twitched and much to his horror, he felt his eyes start to glaze.

A security guard frowned at the two of them, slowly advancing towards them through the tiny crowd. His eyes were locked on the elder and had drawn his wand cautiously.

Harry bolted, running and ducking through the crowd as he heard Remus shout his name in alarm. Evidently, the security guard had not been noticed.

'It's not fair!'

He ran through a half opened door, propped open only by a small crate. Running through, he kicked the crate but wasn't quite fast enough to avoid the thick door from snapping shut on his ankle.

It had obviously been enchanted in hindsight, magicked to avoid animals from escaping. The door snapped shut and cracked loudly against his ankle. Harry shouted out in pain, tears now sliding down his cheeks as he whimpered and hugged his knees close to his body.

'It's not fair- It's not-'

There was a buzzing in his ears that seemed to only get louder.

'Why does- why does everyone spoil everything?'

The buzzing was loud and his ankle hurt and- was his nose bleeding?

'Why can't I have a nice thing for once?'

He heard something shatter like ice under strain. He glanced up, trying to wipe his nose as a sudden wave of dizziness struck him.

Cages holding sleeping creatures had somehow cracked- spiderweb hairs that were growing larger and larger.

Star filled pupils focused on the cracks from behind the ward, long forked tongues lolled out lazily as a webbed hoof stretched out.

Harry's heart jumped to his throat as the cracks finally reached a point of instability and collapsed like falling rain.

Something that looked suspiciously like a winged goat licked its fangs menacingly.

Harry scrambled back, ankle dragging limply and throbbing unbearably. The door had closed and locked behind him, most likely why it had been propped open originally. He could hear faint shouts and could only assume that somehow the cages outside had broken as well.

One oversized spider clicked its fangs and prodded the broken cage with interest.

"What- What is this?" Harry heard a quiet voice, and scrambled to reply.

"Help!" He hurried out, his back now flush against the back of the door.

The fanged goat creature stumbled back, rearing at something Harry couldn't quite see. He held his breath and curled one hand into a shaking fist.

"...Hello?" A small head poked around the corner and glanced at Harry, it flicked its tongue twice, "Oh, it's just one filthy human."

Harry's eyes widened and the snake turned to look around its newly freed area.

It was large. The length Harry couldn't quite determine; It was as thick as Harry's thigh and likely larger still. It had a tan triangle head that was aiming the other way entirely disinterested.

"Wait!" Harry tried once again, swallowing quickly, "Those things are scared of you and-"

"You talk to me?" The snake swiftly turned its head and looked baffled with its reptilian snout, "Humans talk to me? They owe me rabbits!"

Harry floundered, "I- I don't-"

"Hatch-mates are all gone. I don't need Hatch-mates, I can bite death," The snake suddenly reared, although small it opened its large mouth and unhinged impressive fangs with a terrifying hiss. Its tail slid around the edge, it too reared back and twisted suddenly with slit pupils.

Harry's eyes widened and he jerked back, accidentally hitting his injured ankle against the floor and yelping out a sound. The second head tilted curiously whilst the first continued to taste the air interested.

"You smell of prey. Why do you smell of prey?" The snake hissed, sliding half a foot closer.

Harry stared, "I think I hurt my ankle." Harry swallowed, throat tight and eyes still watering, "It- this was supposed to be a good day and now it isn't."

"I think it is a good day. I got two mice, that's an extra mice. And you."

"Wha-" Harry blurted, trying to scoot further back as the second head submitted to sliding backwards as the main head slowly advanced. It opened its mouth menacingly- an extra set of fangs unhinged and slid into slot behind the original set.

"I- No!" Harry shouted, eyes widening as his breathing accelerated, "I am not food!"

"You are prey."

"I'm human!"

"I'm Amfivena." It didn't seem deterred as it rose slowly to rear above Harry's head and in plain view of the locked door.

Something collided with the door and caused it to swing outwards suddenly. Harry cried out and scrambled backwards near the feet of a startled and concerned caretaker.

"Ay! You alright?" The man blurted, grabbing one of Harry's arm and forcefully yanking him further away from the agitated magical serpent, "Stay back! Bollocks I knew we should have gotten rid of this thing!"

"Harry!" Harry looked up into the near panicking face of his godfather, "Harry are you alright?"

Harry didn't say anything, instead he watched as the caretaker managed to conjure a small whip he currently was smacking against the floor.

"No!" The snake spat, switching heads and quickly retreating, "Not prey! Not prey! Won't bite, won't bite!" It screeched, managing to convey how absolutely terrified the animal actually was.

"What's going to happen to it?" Harry muttered, feeling dazed over the entire situation.

"Eh?" The caretaker muttered, scowling as the snake hurried into its broken cage to hide, "Oh, probably sell this bloody thing for parts. Don't know why we still 'ave it, most are just sold fer love potions and that." The man grimaced, looking at his whip in disdain, "seems a bit off to have love potions from as ruddy a beast as that."

Harry stared, not quite comprehending yet still hearing the muffled cries of "Won't bite! Won't bite! Share prey with! Den-mate!"

"It's sorry," Harry offered, looking at the agitated caretaker, "It just wanted more food."

The man barked out a laugh, "Hah! Fat chance lad, that thing is a sure beast. I'll be happy when we drop that thing off."

"Share prey with human! Den-mate! Not prey!"

Remus carefully slid his hands under Harry's knees and under his shoulder. With one movement the older man hoisted the young boy up into the air away from any danger. The caretaker looked around the back room, running one hand through his hair. Harry could already tell that he was angry, so many cages were broken and the goat creature was bleating sorrowfully.

There was an unconscious Diricawl wrapped in nets and being levitated by emergency personnel that seemed to be cleaning up the scene.

Harry's gut twisted once he noticed blood on the floor.

"What's going to happen?" Harry asked quietly, watching as more animals were shoved away and more blood was quickly cleaned up.

"They'll probably move on a tad bit earlier." Remus replied calmly, although his voice was very strained.

Harry felt an uncomfortable knot in his throat which pulsated in rhythm to the lolling stab of pain originating in his ankle. It bounced limply with every step Remus took, hanging from an awkward position.

"What about the animals?" Harry asked concerned, he rather enjoyed animals. They were much more accepting and listened to him talk most times, he didn't want them to get in any trouble because of him.

Remus said nothing, and instead locked his jaw slightly.

Harry felt the knot in his throat press on his chest with uncomfortable pressure. Why wasn't Remus answering his question.

"No, No!" He heard the sudden piercing scream from the Amfivena. "Not want! Sorry! Is sorr-"

The cry cut off partway through. Remus shifted Harry although showed no signs of having heard. Harry stared, eyes locked on the door that had been forced open where the snake had quieted suspiciously.

"I didn't mean to-" Harry blurted, feeling the heavy weight of guilt pressing on him.

Remus looked down and shook his head softly, "Oh, no Harry, none of this was your fault. You don't have to be sorry for anything."

Harry looked down, eyes glazing and clouding.

It was his outburst that had led to the snake's sudden hush. If he hadn't have reacted or outburst, the blood wouldn't have been spilled.

Who had been hurt? Who had he hurt?

They reached the far door and Harry had not yet heard another sound from the snake.

"I'm sorry too." Harry whispered.


 

 

With the sudden excitement over this story, I've found myself constantly working on plot devices and other components.
I've also managed to indulge myself in doodling some fanart that will be open for public.

It is located on my personal tumblr- you do not require an account to view.
Feel free to follow, as I will likely post story updates or just writing updates and more art as time continues.

Click here

 

Chapter Text

In the tumult of events that transpired at the Magical Creature Expo, the Daily Prophet recorded two serious injuries and the legal requirements for euthanasia of seven magical creatures.

According to the paper, the legal requirements stirred up an activist group who were highly opposed to the unfair treatment and imprisonment of magical creatures.

The Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures specializing within the Beast Division was particularly under scrutiny. Moreso now than ever according to the apparent disregard for one rare Bowtruckle, a now endangered species, which had been caught in the crossfire of the ministries responding aurors.

The Bowtruckle in particular, stated within the paper as ‘A harmless tree-dwelling creature that is difficult to find, and has great significance. The Bowtruckle species was once used commonly to find healthy trees or wooden material suitable for magic conduits. Now due to the Bowtruckle’s recent endangerment in attempts to track alternate wood sources for conduits for dark arts, the species have nearly vanished in its natural habitat. This decrease is directly correlated to an increase in magical accidents through wand material experimentation. The greatest incident recorded was in Northern Amiens, France. This incident resulted in fourteen muggle and wizard deaths due to the magical explosion of an incorrect conductor-’

The paper continued on. On the second page numerous witnesses had described the chaos as well as their obvious bemoans over the life of the Bowtruckle. The page after that regarded the current attempt for habitat restoration and conservation for the species, and the bills being thrown at the Ministry in regards for the safety and wellbeing of magical creatures under a class one rating.

Harry read the paper quite thoroughly, he had nothing better to do since he had been forced to remain in bed as his ankle reduced in swelling and healed. There were a few words he didn’t understand the meaning of, as well as a few descriptions of current bills and decisions made by ministry officials.

He read the paper very carefully, even rereading it once he had finished.

Not once did it mention the Amfivena.

(He never really expected that it would have.)


 

The house was whispering in quiet murmurs.

Harry awoke silently in his room as the white noise lulled him out of sleep. His room was dark, the windows didn’t offer a hint of sunlight or reveal just how late it was.

The murmurs rose in pitch, distinguishing themselves in the incoherent noises of multiple voices.

Harry slid out of his bed quietly. He took a few steps- his ankle had already healed although hadn’t been tested yet. He hobbled slightly to the door, turning and peering out into the dark hallway. The further he walked the less his ankle hindered his movements. Once reaching the main staircase, he was walking fluidly and quietly down the steps towards the showroom where the light and voices were.

Harry approached the door, now able to distinguish the voices of his parents as well as an older wheezing voice and someone much younger yet with a thickened accent.

Harry padded forward, gently he opened the door to peer inside. He was correct with his original guess, both parents were in attendance. Alongside them was an elder man Harry recognized only due to his interactions with Skylar, and a short scraggly red haired man who had an uncomfortable grimy aura.

“Harry!” Lily suddenly gushed, running one hand through her hair in a nervous tick as she shushed him towards the door, “Out you go, back to sleep! Your ankle isn’t well and-”

“It already healed.” Harry quietly offered, silencing her fretting and peering around once more.

“Listen to your mother, this is a conversation for adults.” James offered gently yet sternly.

Harry turned, not meeting the eyes of the two strangers. He shifted, about to close the door before he spotted the unmistakable blue of Skylar’s pajamas. The boy in question was sitting in a chair, looking rather sleepy suggesting he had been there a while.

‘Oh,’ Harry thought, not understanding why he suddenly felt such a strange feeling, ‘it’s a meeting for the important people. Not adults, I’m just not supposed to be here.’

Harry gave a small reluctant nod and trudged slowly out of the room. The door clicked quickly behind him, and the discussion started once again.

He couldn’t find an excuse to lumber back into bed, despite the grating constant exhaustion. He walked with dragging feet and half opened eyes into the adjacent dining room. Climbing up onto a chair, he fiddled with one of the gilded Potter chalices that were always used for decoration. His thumbs traced the silver engravings and decorative marks. His fingers left small smudges against the precious metal- he’d likely have to polish it.

Tracing the marks and arches of the cup repeatedly provided him the necessary distraction to stay awake as the muffled voices continued endlessly. They began to meld in the back of his mind to an incessant chatter.

A door opened and clicked shut; the sound itself was very quiet but the harshness of its spontaneity made it ring clearly. Harry jerked his head up, looking as the short man ran one pudgy fist over his fading hairline. The man spotted Harry, and with a crooked unusual smile he waltzed over, trailing one hand over the crown moldings along the walls.

“Hiya,” He greeted, yanking out the closest chair with one leg before plopping down on the edge, “You’re the other kid, right?”

Harry blinked slowly, and nodded quietly.

“You should probably scamper off,” the man rolled his eyes, “Don’t wanna be around for that mess.”

“What mess?” Harry asked, shifting to look at the other man fully.

“Well, looks like we got more clowns tryin’ to out your folks,” The man gave a cruelly twisted grin, “Looks like people are out for your family, mate.”

Harry tilted his head curiously, “People are always out for us.”

“Ah,” The man crooned, leaning forward as if to tell a secret, “But this time, I got word that they’re gonna getcha.”

Harry sat back alarmed, that and also disgusted by this stranger’s breath. Out to get them?

“Eh, don’t worry kid, we’re gon scramble you.” The man eased, clapping his hands dramatically, “One of ya over here, one over there, and boom- you’ve vanished.”

Vanished? Splitting up?

“We’re leaving?” Harry asked quietly, hands clenching around the cup harder, “Where?’

The man shrugged, reaching out and plucking the cup from Harry’s hands. Harry blinked, hands falling onto the table as if stunned.

“Eh, I dunno.” The man shrugged, tossing the cup in his hand and inspecting it closely, “Your brother, he’s heading off with your pops and that Dumble’s bloke, off for training or someth’g ruddy like that.”

“Oh,” Harry sighed, blinking bluntly as his mind quickly collapsed to disconcertingly blank.

“Eh, I heard your head’n off to your cousin or someth’n. Your mum’s got it covered, says nob’dy look there.” The man grinned, teeth were discolored and his breath stank of something burning, “Look’s like you’re going on your own little trip.”

Harry’s hands started twitching and he curled them under the table and out of sight.

The man slapped Harry on the shoulder once, before jumping to his feet. “I’m Mundungus Fletcher, and I’m takin’ this. Hope ya’ don’t mind.” The man winked, brandishing the cup.

“But that’s-”

The man popped and vanished.

‘-mine.’

Harry’s hands shook and trembled with something strong. His mind was blank, and he felt strangely void from the room.

He wasn’t- he couldn’t be sent away. That was, it was a ridiculous idea-

‘Don’t get excited over things that probably won’t happen anyways.’ he reasoned, eyelids sliding down halfway again, ‘Why, why would they actually keep me?’

He tried to summon any sort of instance where he had been thought of or given special privilege over Skylar. He tried, yet he couldn’t actually remember an instance. He felt as if he was swiping his hands through mist, attempting to find any sort of memory just out of reach.

(He knew, that there was no such memory. He knew it and yet he was desperate for any.)

‘They’ll send you away.’ his mind whispered, and he finally let himself close his eyes against the searing ache, ‘Even the man wanted the cup more than he wanted you.’

The cup- the cup.

“Why do people take everything away from me?” He whispered, voice cracking halfway through as his jaw convulsed. He locked his jaw, biting against tooth as his skull ached and his throat was filled with a quaffle. His chest was rising and falling at uneven flutters-

‘I don’t-’ he glanced at the blurred outline of the door where the voices were discussing his dismissal.

Skylar wasn’t being sent away.

A single sob tore itself from his mouth, and a tear fell onto the shiny floor.

‘I’m sorry that- I’m sorry i’m not Skylar.’

He shoved the palms of his fists into his eyes and twisted. It hurt but it somehow gave some clarity to the situation.

He had tried, he had tried many times over and over to gain his parents attention. They were always too busy to listen to him or read to him like they used to.

They were always busy with Skylar.

(“ Bad people want to hurt Skylar so mum and dad have to help him, i’m sorry Harry maybe in a little bit. ”)

(It was always in a little bit.)

Harry hung his head and with small gulping breaths and shaking hands he made the slow journey up the stairs alone. He always had done everything alone, and he would feel weird if someone was to help him now.

Because in the end, he wasn’t Skylar.

.

.

.

(And Skylar was the one who got good things.)

Chapter Text

“Harry!”

Harry bolted awake, scrambling and sluggishly struggling to stay upright on his bed. He failed as the mattress teetered once again, and with a warbling yelp he slipped out from under the covers onto the floor.

He heard snickering as he gingerly rubbed the spot on his skull which had collided with the ground. Uprighting and repositioning his lopsided sleeping apparel, he spotted impish hazel eyes and dark brown hair peering at him from over the blankets.

“Gotcha, didn’t I?” Skylar snickered, straightening his back to peer down at still tired twin.

“Why-” Harry started, giving a small cough to clear his throat, “ Why would you do that?” He winced, and cracked his back loudly.

Skylar didn’t seem fazed by the loud popping, instead he shifted so both feet would dangle over the edge, socks swinging nearly close enough to hit Harry’s face.

“Mum and Dad wanted us downstairs,” Skylar shrugged, “They told me to get you.”

“And you couldn’t have just knocked?” Harry muttered under his breath, getting to his feet.

Skylar grinned and gave a wink before hopping off the bed and nearly skipping to the door, “See ya downstairs!” Skylar’s face lit up, “Mum made pancakes! Our favourite!”

Your favourite,” Harry corrected, already grabbing a new shirt to change into.

Skylar shrugged in the doorframe, “Same thing.”

Harry rolled his eyes and found a pair of pants. Glancing at the door, Skylar had already left, and without the decency of actually closing the door.

Harry changed quickly, sparing one look in a nearby mirror (there was no hope for trying to flatten the chaos of his scalp), before slipping into the hallway towards the stairs.

The sudden daylight and brightness of the estate made him almost forget entirely the night before. It felt like a dream, too implausible to be reality yet there was some sort of tint to it which caused him to doubt if he had only imagined it.

Each step caused some sort of tickling uncertainty to rear once more.

Had he actually imagined it?

(Had that man been right?)

“Harry!” Lily blinked, peeking through the archway and looking back at the table, “There’s pancakes if you would-”

“I’m okay.” Harry mumbled, walking into the kitchen and sliding into the one seat that was available.

There was a chalice missing on the table.

“Is there something important?” Harry asked quietly, swinging his feet under his chair. Skylar looked up from where he sat across from Harry, blinking with doe eyes and syrup running down his chin.

“Yeah!” Skylar blurted, swallowing a large clump of dough with a small cringe, “I got this!” Skylar gushed, reaching down into a pocket before pulling out a figurine.

The small fist sized griffin gave a miniature roar, flapping its small wings to create tiny gusts strong enough to knock over a blueberry. It paced on the tabletop, totally enrapturing Skylar’s attention.

“Where did you get that?” Harry asked quietly. It gave a little snap with its beak and pounced on a chunk of pancake Skylar offered it.

“Dumbledore!” Skylar chirped, eyes lighting up quickly, “You should have seen him- he’s the headmaster at that one school!”

“Hogwarts, sweetie,” Lily scoffed playfully, “You’ll go there too one day, Sky.”

Harry shifted uncomfortably as Skylar beamed and giggled a small amount when Lily poked his exposed cheek.

“Why was Dumbledore here?” Harry interrupted, bringing the two back on topic.

Lily’s expression faltered, shifting to something unsure. She wrung her hands and looked at the table with a very hesitant expression, “Well, we have to talk to you about that.”

Harry felt his jaw waver and tried his best to hold it still.

“Hey!” James poked his head in, blinking a few times. His glasses were slightly askew, he seemed startled to see Harry in the room.

(Given, Harry normally didn’t attend breakfast.)

“James! Good!” Lily sighed in relief, queuing for the man to come into the kitchen. At once, James seemed alarmed and tried to skitter out of the kitchen. “ James.”

He groaned in protest yet slid into the kitchen and plopped on the chair at the head of the table.

Lily walked over, somehow having a mug in her hands as she twirled one strand of hair behind her ear nervously.

“So,” James started, awkwardly rapping his fingers on the table, “Well, uh. You see-”

Lily scoffed and rolled her eyes, “Honestly James, alright.” She started, looking very seriously at the two children, “Do you remember that there are unfriendly people who are very upset with us?”

Skylar nodded eagerly, looking curiously at the parents.

“Well, we’ve learned that those people are trying harder to find us.” James clarified, looking worriedly between both children, “So we have to leave.”

“Leave?” Skylar gasped, mouth opening in surprise. There was a chunk of food between his teeth, “And go where?”

“That’s the thing,” Lily sighed, sliding downwards into the chair next to James and Skylar, “Albus- Dumbledore,” She clarified, “Says that he’ll be able to find us a safe place, but he wants to begin your training as soon as possible.”

“To defeat the death-munchers!” Skylar chirped, looking at James who seemed sheepish at the name.

Lily raised one eyebrow at James but nodded to Skylar, “Yes. They don’t like you- They don’t like Skylar, Harry dear.” She directed this time at Harry, “And they’ll hurt some of us to get to Skylar.”

Skylar looked worried this time, “What- no!” He cried, “No! Mum that’s not-”

“It’s okay, your father and I know how to protect ourselves.” Lily smiled, holding out her wand for Skylar to see.

“Your mother is right, we’ll be fine.” James wiggled his eyebrows in a reassuring way which seemed to dispel some of the nervous tension in the room.

It clicked in Harry’s head.

“I can’t defend myself.” Harry mentioned quietly, drawing all eyes on him, “I’m a risk?”

Lily reached over to take one of Harry’s hands, “We’ve thought of all the possibilities, and we thought that you could maybe spend time with Remus or maybe Sirius.” She offered.

“Or you could come with us,” James mentioned, he looked a little restrained with the idea, “It would… it’s feasible.”

Harry looked down at his hands.

“We think that Remus and Sirius may be targeted as well,” Lily mentioned quietly, “We aren’t quite sure what extend we all are going into hiding.”

Harry pulled his hand back from under his mother’s, and fiddled with a fork. “Where else?” He asked, looking up into Lily and James’ guilt filled eyes, “Have you thought of another place?”

Lily looked at James and paused for a moment, “My sister, Petunia.” Lily started, “She’s a muggle. She has a nice muggle family,” Lily smiled slightly and brushed back her hair, “Nobody would ever look in a muggle family, especially from a wizarding family.”

“Of course it’s your choice.” James interjected. “You can come with us, or Padfoot or Moony, or with Lily’s family.”

“But everyone is going into hiding?” Harry asked quietly. ‘Everyone can protect themselves. Except me.’

“Everyone is. It’s not safe anymore.” Lily agree’d.

“We’ll have to be leaving pretty soon,” James explained, “A friend of ours is going to watch the house for a bit so nobody thinks we’ve left.”

Harry nodded and chewed his lip.

‘I could come. But I’ll just get in the way. Skylar needs to be safe and I’m going to make it worse.’ Harry thought.

There was a part inside of him, that was screaming to say that he wanted to go with. That he wanted to stay.

“It’s safer if I go?” Harry asked, voice rising at the end.

“Much safer,” James agreed, “Nobody would look for a wizard in a house of muggles. It’ll be safer for you and It’ll be safer for-”

Lily swiftly shoved her elbow into her husband’s side, causing him to jolt but silence himself immediately.

‘It would be safer for Skylar.’

Harry bowed his head, and wrung his hands quietly.

“You don’t have to make a decision, we just thought we should bring it up and-”

“I’ll go.” Harry accepted quietly, “If it’s better for Skylar, I’ll go.”

Harry noticed how James and Lily both had an expression of utter relief on their faces.

“Thanks Harry,” Lily smiled, rising from her chair and giving Skylar one last pat on his shoulder.

“I don’t mind.” He murmured quietly. Because in the end, Skylar was the boy to be protected and Harry was the boy who never was.

Skylar had a conflicted and strange expression. He looked down at the miniature Griffin and poked it half heartedly.

“Alright,” James firmed, rising and scratching his chair legs along the flooring, “Best to get ready then.”

“We’re leaving today?” Skylar guffawed, “But, but what about all our things!”

“You can take them with you,” Lily somberly smiled, “Those enchanted trunks we had picked out last summer- do you know where yours is?” Lily soothed.

Skylar nodded quickly but still looked rather put out by the recent information.

“Harry,” James started, looking serious once more, “Your aunt’s family are muggles, that means that most magical objects have to be hidden out of eyesight of any visitors or not exposed muggles,”

“Can I hide it in my trunk?” He asked quietly, James gave a firm nod. Harry rose quietly, sliding off the chair and walking across the floor out of the room. He knew James and Lily were startled but unsure what else to say.

“We won’t be able to meet up often, just in case somebody is following us.” James explained tersely, “It-”

“Take everything you want to.” Lily sweetly yet abruptly added, “Is there anything we can get you? Before you leave?”

Harry swallowed.

They wouldn’t have otherwise offered, realistically they were supposed to have all focus aimed at Skylar, who was in the most immediate danger. There wasn’t time nor was it worth the hassle to consciously worry about his welfare. Harry would be fine, he had long since learned that it was better to be independent and quiet than to seek attention when there was none to receive.

“No,” he shook his head, leaving from where he had paused in the entryway. The stairs were creaky and seemed much more ominous than he had ever felt in the house. Suddenly, it felt far more imposing against his small body. The portraits seemed foreign and although they moved loudly in the frames, he heard nothing besides the pulsating rush in his ears. It pounded rhythmically and seemed to lull his state of mind into something soothing.

‘This isn’t real.’ His mind assured him. He felt like he was watching the world through the eyes of an imposter, watching as his body moved without his conscious control, ‘This is all fake.’

He found some sort of perverse comfort in the knowledge that it was all most likely an illusion after all.

(It likely didn’t ever matter.)

His trunk had had been enchanted and decorated with gaudy silver fasteners over the rich wood. It was larger on the inside, yet Harry didn’t have any difficulty in sliding his multitude of personal belongings inside the confines and clicking the small clasp shut. The trunk was still large, as high as his torso and as long as his arm span. Sliding it out of his closet, he felt that his room had become alien to him. The few figurines or drawings he had taken from various newspapers were removed from the shelves and folded or stacked away safely. His walls were now bare and his bookshelf was lonely.

He paused at the doorway unsure. If they were to be leaving the house and traveling somewhere new, would anyone actually notice if he had snuck a few tomes from the many shelves of his mother’s library? The collection wasn’t as elaborate as the family libraries or studies of Skylar’s friend’s families, yet it did contain a fair number of books and novels.

The study was on the second floor on the other side of the house. It was furthest from the bedrooms, yet still a fairly well versed path. Harry looked up and down the hallway before trotting off quickly along the hallway. He wasn’t particularly sure if he was allowed to take any of the books.

‘If I ask, they may say no.’ He thought to himself, pressing against the grandiose doors, ‘So why ask at all?’

Obviously his thinking was morally ambiguous, given any other situation or scenario he would most likely think or decide against. Considering with the ease both his mother and father expressed with his volunteering to be sent to live with family he had never met before; he felt the slow burning fire of irritation. He felt smug that the least he could do for himself, was to snatch a few books to entertain himself with wherever he ended up.

Harry didn’t drag the heavy trunk through the hallways with him, so he was limited with the amount of books he could carry back to his room without being obvious with what exactly he had done. He was confident that he would have enough time to browse through the collection, since both parents were assisting Skylar at the moment.

So he was left with the suddenly overwhelming question of which books to take.

The more elaborate and complex books on runes or other mathematics had been sorted and placed on the bookshelves above his natural height. Just as well, he didn’t think that reading about maths would at all be satisfying. Nor would History, or potions in his opinion.

His small fingers trailed along the thick covers of the many books on the magically enhanced bookshelves. He spotted volumes with strange titles or words he couldn't pronounce, let alone understand the meaning of.

There was a collection of spell books all published by a woman, Miranda Goshawk. Harry didn’t know who the woman was, but if his parents had a complete collection of her works she must be impressive.

He tugged out one of the books which didn’t seem to be a part of the main volume. Goshawks Assortment of Spells and Charms , a decently thick book with a leather cover and black ink. It seemed fancy enough, yet didn’t have the sparkling font or the mass production feel that the other books had. He set it aside in the pile.

Magical Theory and Phenomena, written by Hasfalda Brickens, and Scalding Scales written by Silvanus Kettleburn, joined his pile and formed a rather thick stack.

Harry wished he could take more. He knew he could carry more books and run back to his room, but the portraits would likely tell his parents. In the off chance that the books he was taking weren’t allowed to be removed-

This will be okay,’ Harry agreed, eying the actual thickness of the books. They would certainly offer him plenty of reading material.

He didn’t need anything else. This would be fine.

(He wanted more, he easily squashed the desire and let it shrivel into something ugly.)

He gathered the three books in his arms and clutched the stack to his chest. He rushed out through the hallway and over the stairs back towards his room.

The trunk had plenty of room, the three books were set with loving gentleness amidst the rest of his knicknacks. His clothing provided a soft cushion for the rest of his objects.

He closed the trunk and locked it with the fluttering guilt of having stolen something.

He closed his eyes and pressed his forehead against the wood. The biting cold of the clasps brought some form of clarity to the foggy haze of his mind.

He was being sent away.

(Because he wasn’t as important as Skylar.)

His jaw clenched and fingers spasmed around the wood. Why was it fair that he had to go?

Why was it that Skylar was the one who was allowed so many privileges and royalties?

What had Skylar ever done, that Harry hadn’t?

“I’ll be better.” Harry muttered under his breath, eyes prickling and stinging as he fluttered them wildly. “I’ll be better.” He hissed under his breath.

What right did they have to throw him away?

Why was it, that Skylar got preferential treatment over something he did as a baby?

Harry had not ever asked for better treatment, or complained about favouritism. He accepted the unfairness and he said nothing.

And now they were going to just... get rid of him?

He scoffed quietly, he didn’t want to stay with them if that was what they wanted.

Harry would learn and be a better wizard than Skylar ever would be.

(He would show them wrong.)

Chapter Text

The Dursley household had been grossly underprepared -- or they hadn’t been notified -- of their new obligation. An older wizard, whose name and whose relationship to his parents Harry didn’t actually know, arrived that night to side-along apparate Harry to their small abode later that evening. When they arrived, the old wizard knocked on the door, and started explaining the situation to the large, baffled man who opened the door.

 

Vernon Dursley, the man who opened the door, was as daft as he was large. It quickly became apparent that he was confused, infuriated, and then openly hostile. He grabbed a nearby lamp and brandished it like a weapon, pointing the bulb threateningly in the face of the exasperated wizard.

 

Harry’s mother was rather firm with raising her children with the knowledge of muggle gadgets and things.His father had been amused and had laughed at the many lessons that she taught their children, although he did end up learning a lot too. Those lessons were the only reason Harry was aware that the lamp was, in fact, a lamp and not a weapon as the older wizard seemed to believe.

 

Vernon Dursley was quickly making a scene, his large face going red and his cheeks vibrating with the viciousness of his shouting.

 

A new woman appeared , dressed in a mint green robe, looking just as frazzled as Mister Dursley. When she caught sight of Harry, she grew pale and then rather dramatically swooned. Her body hit the ground loudly, her hair curlers rattling as her head hit the floor.

 

Harry’s escort made some sort of objection and tried to make his way into the house. The large, loud man roared something angrily and tried to force him back out.

 

A child, roughly Harry’s age but many times bigger, screamed something in shock and nearly the entire neighbourhood woke up in hushed confusion.

 

Harry exhaled slowly, straightened his back, firmly grasped his trunk, and bit back the growing sense of regret in agreeing to come to the Dursleys’. He was both surprised and frustrated with how quickly things had unfolded, but what was the worst thing that could happen?

 

It couldn’t be any worse than what he’d already been through, could it?

 

 


The Dursley’s, were a family of the worst people that Harry had ever met. They were as snobbish, rude, and arrogant as the worst of Skylar’s friends.

 

Vernon Dursley, the head of the household, prided himself on being a successful, respectable provider for his family. In truth, he was greedy, selfish, and judgmental.

 

His wife, Harry’s aunt Petunia, was a horse-faced liar who was always looking for rumours and gossip, obsessed with social status and maintaining the appearance that they were a perfectly normal family.

 

Their son, Dudley, was a greedy glutton and they spoiled him terribly. He’d learned exactly how to get what he wanted, throwing screaming fits if his parents didn’t immediately capitulate. Harry knew that, although Skylar had been spoiled a bit, he was nowhere near as rotten as their obese cousin.

 

Behind closed doors, the Dursleys made absolutely no effort to hide their blatant hatred for Harry and “his kind.” A growing part of Harry’s own heart felt the same way about them.

 

Harry’s trunk and a small cot had been thrown into a hastily cleared cupboard under the stairs. The ventilation flap was clogged with dust and, when he complained, Aunt Petunia gave him a nearly-clean rag and a bottle of noxious chemicals and told him to clean it himself.

 

The rest of the cupboard wasn’t much better. It certainly wasn’t fit for human habitation. Mould and mildew rotted the floor panels from wet shoes and thick cobwebs cushioned any sharp edges. The single lightbulb hanging overhead had long since burned out and no-one had ever bothered to change it.

 

When Harry told them that there was no way that a small boot cupboard was at all sanitary or decent enough for someone to live in, Vernon had shouted at him angrily for an hour about how ungrateful he was that they took him in. Harry thought about contacting his parents, or anyone really, to complain or retract his agreement… before he realised that he had no way to do so.

 

Post owls didn’t just swoop by whenever a wizard wanted to send a letter, he couldn’t just use any old bird, and even if he could, he had no way of knowing where his parents even were.

 

He was now alone .

 

The muggles seemed worried at first. They kept the window curtains drawn and talked in hushed, paranoid whispers. Vernon had to use some of his saved-up holiday days and he made absolutely no secret about how much he resented Harry for it, ranting about what a waste Harry was and how he wasn’t welcome here.

 

(Harry wasn’t welcome in his own home, so he wasn’t quite sure what to think with even the Dursley’s not wanting him.)

A week passed without incident and Vernon returned to work. The curtains were opened and Harry was set to work with a long list of odd jobs to do around the house.

 

Most of his tasks were lowly even for a house elf: pulling weeds and replanting flowers; washing the wooden panels; or hand-scrubbing oil stains on the concrete driveway. All of it was meaningless busywork . It was just time consuming and more than anything else, degrading .

 

Harry had been washing the floors with a quiet, intense focus, when Dudley casually waddled in and kicked over the bucket of dirty water, sending it spilling everywhere. Aunt Petunia had shrieked in anger about how her clean floors were now filthy and how Harry couldn’t do anything right.

 

‘Maybe that’s why your freaky family got rid of you! You can’t do anything right, you waste of space!’

 

Of course, she’d refused to believe him when he told her that it was all Dudley’s fault. There was no way her precious Dudders did anything like that. She sent him to his cupboard without supper.

 

At night, he managed to see just the smallest bit through the ventilation flaps on the cupboard door. It was just enough light to find the thin sheets and nestle in the near silence, until he woke up again from stomping steps just overhead.

 

It took over three weeks for his lightbulb to be properly fixed and Harry himself had to be the one to mend it, though he accidentally cut himself while doing so. When Aunt Petunia bemoaned some sort of muggle disease that you caught from rusty metal, he looked at her blankly, not quite understanding. His mother’s lessons hadn’t gone that far.

 

That was when she had realised that his upbringing was very different from normal, respectable children. He didn’t need to attend public school. He already knew how to read and write and he’d already learned the expected mathematics. He already knew everything that a wizard was expected to know before going to Hogwarts. He was already well ahead of other children his age and honestly, he was rather baffled with how his cousin was struggling with his school work.

 

When they realised that Harry wouldn’t be going to public school with his cousin, Petunia started giving him a longer list of tasks to do, while Vernon installed an external lock on his cupboard. They tried to get into his trunk, but thankfully magic locks were impossible for muggles to open and they’d quickly given up on the task.

 

Harry’s diet now mostly consisted of scraps, or the most burn edges of whatever food he’d struggled to make that day. Most of it bordered the fine line between barely edible and toxic.

 

Toilet breaks were restricted and outdoor privileges were established and the part of Harry’s heart that hated them flourished in the depravity.

 

Alone in his cupboard, Harry came to a realisation, an epiphany of sorts that crept up on him over this first month rather than arriving suddenly. His mother knew what the Dursleys were like. She’d been aware of how cruel and selfish they were. And she’d still hoped that Harry would choose to accept this life and leave them, because it was convenient .

 

It was then, that very moment, that Harry found himself hating Lily just a bit.

 


 

The leaves had started to change colour and fall and Harry was sent outside to rake them up and see to the lawn. He did the laundry. He did the cooking. He did the gardening. He was, for all intents and purposes, just a house elf.

 

But other than giving him an exhaustive list of things to do each day, the Dursleys mostly just left him alone. They pretended not to notice him until it was time to punish him or give him more work, just like some purebloods pretended not to notice their house elves until they had need.

 

The days began to get colder and shorter, though his list of jobs never did. The large piles of leaves that Harry raked up each day always ended up scattered all over the grass the next morning. Dudley always seemed to wear that smug smirk at the sight of the front garden covered in debris. Vernon seemed particularly frustrated with the lack of progress, but he never lifted a hand against Harry.

 

He lashed out verbally instead and cruel remarks were common.

 

At first, Harry had recoiled and flinched from each drop of spittle that landed near him. It was disconcerting that, after months with no contact at all from his family -- he was beginning to doubt they even thought about him at this point -- and near-constant verbal assaults, he was becoming numb to it.

 

Harry still held out hope -- a fantasy where one of the family’s post owls would swoop in at supper with a letter for him that the threat was gone and he could come home. Or that his mother would burst through the front door and take him back.

 

Winter arrived and the days didn’t seem to last at all. He now recognised that something ugly had begun to grow inside him. He’d been locked out one night and forced to try to find some slight shelter under the overhang of the back door. He was cold and he was wet and he was miserable and he just wanted his parents to come and get him and take him home.

 

But James and Lily never came.

 

He started to let go of the fantasy of being rescued. He started to hate them, James and Lily and Skylar, just a bit, just in the isolation of his cupboard, when he was alone with his thoughts.

 

Christmas came and went. Harry sat in the darkness, locked up in his cupboard on Christmas Eve. He spent Christmas Day under the stairs in his little cupboard, quietly reading his books under the single replaced lightbulb, with a plastic bowl for a loo. He spent the majority of Christmas break reading at the odd times of night, needing less and less sleep and kept awake by the numbing chill of winter permeating his cupboard. He was so cold and lonely and reading offered him some small comfort against his own treacherous thoughts, whispering that no-one would ever want him.

 

Instead, he read and practised and tried , over and over, again and again, he tested the theory of magic without ever actually knowing what he was doing.

 

And on the first of the new year, Harry smiled, happy again for the first time. He’d gotten the lock on his cupboard door to unlock.

 


 

 

‘The wand is used as a conduit.

Magic, similar to the concepts of souls, is an aura surrounding and permeating all living
Things.

Not being magical themselves, Muggles can be affected and altered with focused magic. Muggles are unable to store influxes of magic, thus are unable to harvest or use it on their own.

Wizards are able to produce and store magic.
Using conduits to direct the flow of magic, a wizard is able to alter the source into a specific object or energy if given enough intent and focus.

Spells are often used to direct magic in a specific fashion, each spell is created carefully to trigger a soul and magic response which will result in the desired effect. When combined with wands and proper wand movements, the magic is directed with an objective and pre-fashioned template which results in the desired outcome.’

 

Harry closed the thick book once again, running his fingers over the worn cover. The once crisp pages had long since become soft and almost fuzzy to the touch. Along the spine it had been stained with dirt and grease from his fingers. The back left corner of the book had cracked, the leather split from where it had hit against the floor a little too harshly. The letters were dulled and scratched, Magical Theory and Phenomena, was more difficult to read without struggling.

 

Harry had read the heavy book cover to cover twice already, understanding more the second time around. The theory of magic was more useful to him than the other book of spells. Although the book of spells did list countless spells and charms that did seem fascinating, Harry didn’t have a wand, so he couldn’t very well use the meticulously detailed descriptions of wand movements and pronunciations.

 

The last book he brought, Scalding Scales, was one of his favourites. He took comfort in the many pages, each drawn with magical ink which was charmed to move and swish
with each bat of the creature’s tails.

 

He had opened his books many times in the dead of night, when he’d woken up unexpectedly, finding himself locked in the small cupboard. Watching Eelhounds swim through drawn water, or Swedish Shortsnout’s breathing fire into the sky was enough to help him forget where he was, for a time anyway.

 

The days became longer and warmer and the frosts less frequent and less harsh.  Harry’s hands bled as his relatives put him back to work in the garden again.

His stomach had shrunk as he grew accustomed to less food. He found that fewer things amused him. The pages in his book only brought back nostalgia which was only painful to think about.

 

He set the book in his trunk, and locked it with a snap of his fingers. He had gotten good at unlocking and locking.

 

Dudley found it funny that his cousin had to work even in the rain, and he took great pleasure in tripping Harry and smashing him into the cement, soaking him to the bone while Dudley stayed dry in his brand new anorak.

 

Harry stumbled inside, dripping water only to be knocked back outside by a broom. Petunia had screamed angrily about how he was ruining her floors, never mind that Harry was the one who cleaned them.

 

Dudley came outside, having invited his friends over. One particularly rat-faced boy sneered at Harry and pushed him roughly to the ground.

 

Harry hit the ground, blinking blankly. He nearly hadn’t realized what exactly happened- except the sudden throbbing on his back. He was distantly aware of them chortling at him.

 

It hurt.

 

Something in Harry snapped.

 

And then suddenly the rat faced boy screamed, his hands flew to his face and blood seemed to absolutely pour.

 

Dudley screamed, scrambling backwards and the blood spurted onto the wet pavement between them, staining the concrete crimson.

 

Petunia threw open the front door, screeching something in horror as the boy, Piers, was shouting and flailing.

 

People were shouting, shouting directly at him .

Harry felt someone grab the back of his waterlogged clothing, dragging him away from the mess on the cement driveway.

 

A fist hit his cheek, knocking his skull even harder onto the ground, and making him see stars. There was a deep throbbing and a small flash of warmth pounding behind his eyes. His neck felt wet and his stomach twisted with the sudden jerk of nausea.

His eyes rolled into his head when he felt something wet slide further down his neck. It was uncomfortably warm.

 


 

Harry was told that he had punched Pierce in the face, breaking his nose and sending him to the hospital to have it reset. The Dursley’s promised the mother of the hysterical boy that they would punish Harry for his outlandish behavior.

 

Harry was locked in his cupboard for three days. They’d given him just enough food to last, two cans of soup and a few bottles of water thrown at him before Vernon slammed the door shut and locked it with an ominous, final click.

 

Harry was returned to darkness, his uncle’s unintelligible shouts and curses just on the other side of the thin door.

 

He didn’t dare unlock the door or turn on the light when he could still hear the creaks of heavy footsteps just outside his cupboard.

 

Time blurred and distorted in a strange mixture of lethargy and restlessness.

 

His fingers ran over the pages of his books, already read and reread multiple times and each spell nearly memorized. The comforting smell of old paper was gone and had been replaced with the faint smell of rat urine.

 

He could hear Vernon laugh loudly, a muffled clinking of silverware on precious porcelain plates. They were having dinner; Harry’s stomach cramped hungrily.

 

His fingers twitched as he trailed them over the worn vanes of the quill he had snuck into his trunk. It was old, fraying and broken on the very tip. Entirely useless.

 

“Incendio,” Harry whispered. Nothing happened.

 

He leant forward slightly more, holding the quill closer to his face with more determination. “Incendio- Incendio!”

 

Harry snarled his nose angrily and threw the quill forcefully away. Instead, it fluttered disappointingly down to land with the softest of whispers. He couldn’t even throw a proper tantrum.

 

Harry flopped backwards, hands rising to rub against his eyes. They burned, and for no comprehensible reason he felt a hoarse sob escape from his throat.

 

Knowing that the Dursley household could and most likely would, punish him further for interrupting dinner, he rolled and pressed his flat pillow against his mouth to muffle any cries.

 

Why was it fair, that they hated him for being a wizard?

 

‘Skylar probably already knows how to do this.’ That treacherous voice whispered in the silence. Harry felt a mess of anger and self-pity rise up, warring for control of his thoughts. He trembled in the dark, ‘He’s already so much better than I am.’

He didn’t know when he had fallen asleep or when he woke up the next day, he didn’t bother actually getting up. He didn’t actually have the space to anyway. The room was dark, and there was no difference between standing or lying when you couldn’t see as well.

 

He didn’t see the point.

 

The house was filled with muffled voices, some he didn’t recognize and others he did. He heard Dudley leave, and his distinct voice wasn’t heard again for some time. It must have been a weekday, Dudley leaving for school.

 

Time passed and Harry alternated between nearly screaming or collapsing motionlessly for hours on his cot.

 

Things didn’t matter, while at the same time, everything mattered.

 

“It’s not fair,” Harry raged quietly, hands clawing in a repeated motion over and over on his exposed hipbones where his shirt rode up. The skin was red and irritated from his long untrimmed nails digging in.


“Why?” He cooed half calm and half hysterical.

 

‘Magic is an extension of the soul,’ Harry thought almost from an outwards perspective, ‘The soul is derived of emotions. I have to mean it, to crave it,’

 

Harry’s head lolled to the side, piercing the dark with dulled green as he spotted the faint outline of the quill on the floor some distance away.

 

“I want it,” Harry hissed, the words nearly distorting with how long he carried the vowels. His face twitched and he extended one hand towards the quill, a headache pounded against his skull and exhaustion weighed painfully on his bones.

 

“Incendio.”

 

The quill burst into flames.


Indiscernible in the dark, Harry smiled.

Chapter Text

The first plants started to sprout, heralding spring. The warmth was a welcome change from the numbing cold. The Dursleys went out and bought Dudley an entirely new wardrobe; he had somehow managed to outgrow all of his shorts over the winter.

 

Harry was now outside more often. There were weeds to be pulled and flowers to be tended to. He continued his manual labour with sharper glares and louder silence. He refused to speak, oftentimes not even responding to Petunia’s hissed demands from the kitchen window. He had learned to nod after she spoke, better to avoid getting smacked by the broom once again.

 

(The broom had broken. Aunt Petunia was obviously startled and hadn’t intended for it to leave such a large bruise on his back, yet didn’t confess her guilt if it existed at all.)

 

His daily tasks consisted of working outside in the hotter months, occasionally taking quick drinks from the hose when nobody was watching. He planted the many flowers and shrubs Petunia purchased from the garden centre, digging holes and removing grubs when he found them.

 

Dudley would return home and casually smack him around, sometimes with friends if any accompanied him, and he would resume work until Petunia had scrounged dinner. Then he would be sent to his cupboard, occasionally being allowed to take a quick shower. The whole thing would repeat itself the next day when Dudley woke up.

 

It was busy work, physically demanding but it let him have plenty of time to think.

 

Harry knew that underage wizards weren’t allowed to perform magic outside of a certified premise or outside of a proper estate. He knew for sure that he wasn’t allowed to perform magic in front of muggles.

 

Looking around furtively, he set a sickly looking tulip aflame, sweating with the exertion.

 

He spent the rest of the day scanning the skies and the fence posts of Privet Drive, looking for the sure sign of a Ministry owl.

 

None showed up that day.

 

Or the day after.

 

Harry smiled grimly. He now knew he could perform magic, without the Ministry knowing.

 

Late February he thrust himself into studying the single aged tome he had secured a lifetime ago. He read and muttered and practiced quietly in the dark when he couldn’t sleep, or when he was sent outside for hours alone.

 

Harry grinned breathlessly, twitching his hands and whispering under his breath in the middle of the day. Anthills smoldered and the small insects scattered. Dried and brown leaves from last autumn burnt the fastest. Anything green, he learned, smelt foul and only gave off loads of smoke.

 

The more he practiced, the easier it became to set things on fire.

 

Unlocking his cupboard, although he hadn’t found an actual spell in his book for unlocking things, was easier now than it had been. Despite how horrible his living conditions were, and how he loathed the Dursley’s, he was rather optimistic now.

 

(He still occasionally had days where he didn’t bother crawling out of his cupboard; when he woke up still expecting to see Lily and James. He became better and better at just ignoring those thoughts.)






Easter Holiday changed it.

He was outside, weeding the garden with torn clothing that had once upon a time been his. They were now stained and worn far past the endurance of the charms placed on them. A particularly pesky weed had him grasping its thorny stalk, heaving backwards with both arms, using his weight as leverage.

 

Something grazed against his side and he scrambled to his feet. He blinked, dazed and confused, what had hit him? Was it a squirrel or a bird? Some other animal that had hit him before escaping without being seen?

 

His hands touched something wet and he inhaled shakily. Actually seeing the red against his skin triggered the overwhelming sensation of pain.

 

He choked down a scream, hands pressing through the tear in his shirt against the gash in his side. It was lazily dripping down his skin and staining the side of his shirt further.

 

Dudley gave some sort-of delayed cry of surprise. Harry spun, looking for his attacker only to see his baffled cousin and his friends. Dudley was holding an industrial slingshot Petunia had bought him last Christmas.

 

‘What was-’ His thinking broke once he saw what had hit him, a decent sized rock with a few sharp edges.

 

Dudley blinked slowly, lowering the slingshot before releasing a piercing wail which instantly led Harry to clench his teeth.

 

Petunia hurried out to see what was going on, wringing her hands and rushing to her son. Dudley cried out something else, pointing with pudgy fingers at Harry while his friends ran.

 

Petunia’s face tightened as she looked at Harry sharply. Her expression was pinched as she stomped over the grass, grabbed his arm and tugged him towards the house. “Come on,” She hissed out sharply, eying his side, “And no bleeding on the floor.”

 

Harry’s face twitched in annoyance, it wasn’t like she had cleaned the floors.

 

She yanked him inside towards the kitchen, fetching the rag Harry used to polish the iron burners on the stove. It was already blackened with polish, replaceable in her eyes.

 

“Here,” She grunted, snatching a series of rags in similar shape, band aids, and masking tape from nearby drawers, “Clean yourself up and don’t,” her eyes flashed, “touch anything.

 

Harry took the offered supplies sourly and locked the bathroom door behind him.

The gash wasn’t large. It wasn’t deep either, yet it seemed to continuously ooze out red like a wet sponge.

 

He shoved in the several rags, waiting until they had been soaked before taking them away. Everytime he tried, it would tear out the gooey clots just beginning to form, and start bleeding again.

 

Finally he settled with pushing in one rag, clenching his jaw against the searing throb, and using the masking tape around his waist to hold it in place. It held, he returned the unused rags, and was sent to his cupboard.

 


 

 

Sanatas. ” Harry hissed, flushing angrily when nothing happened.

 

Sanatas! He tried again, more insistently this time, his voice wavering in his frustration. The crippling sensation of doubt started to worm its way through his forced bravado. “Sanatas!

 

The skin around ugly black scab on his side itched and tingled uncomfortably. Harry groaned softly, smacking his fist against the small cot next to him in frustration.

 

What was he doing wrong? He’d done exactly what it said in the book, even checked his pronunciation multiple times just to make sure. The scrape refused to heal like Harry wanted. Instead it just tingled and itched never letting him forget about his injury. It was possible the constant buzzing of pain was clouding his ability to focus his magic.

 

Dudley was back in school, a true blessing considering for the first while only twisting a specific way would crack the scabs and cause the bleeding to start again. It had oozed a foul-smelling pus, to the point where Aunt Petunia had thrown a small tube of paste at him, ordering him to deal with it.

 

Now, it was a thick heavy scab with bumps and ridges on its surface.

 

Sanatas. ” Harry tried again, swallowing and trying to direct the flow of something he couldn’t see into his side.

 

In a moment of blind panic, Harry wondered if maybe his magic was gone, if maybe this was why people didn’t use wandless magic. He cried out, then instantly realised his mistake and covered his mouth.

 

The damage was done, he heard the shuffle of movement above him and then the loud thudding sound of footsteps thundering down the landing towards the stairs. Uncle Vernon was awake. Harry’s eyes widened in horror of the consequences, and he scrambled backwards on his cot, yanking his shirt down to try and hide what he’d been doing.

 

Vernon threw the door open. “What are you screaming about!” he thundered, his beedy little eyes glittering malevolently in the dark. “We have had enough of your racket!”

 

Harry tried to shuffle further back, tried to escape Uncle Vernon’s reach. The obese man  grabbed his ankle and forcefully pulled him from the cupboard under the stairs. Harry bit his tongue to crying out in pain as his shirt rubbed against the sensitive skin.

 

Vernon, not noticing or, more likely, not caring, yanked.

 

Harry scrambled with his hands to find something -- anything -- to grab hold of as he was bodily dragged out. Already his leg hurt from the intense pressure and blood was pounding in his head.

 

Vernon stomped through the kitchen and wrenched open the backdoor, dragging Harry along behind him. Still grunting something about how Harry wouldn’t make any sort of distracting noise in his home, Vernon threw the small boy out.

 

Privet Drive was dark and cool at night. The cool night air felt almost soothing to the scrape which had, once again, cracked open. Harry could already imagine the bruises forming where Vernon had grabbed him.

 

Vernon had kicked him out, Harry thought in a dazed haze of disbelief. His uncle had actually kicked him out.



Harry was filled with the sudden, overpowering desire to run, to disappear into the dark and leave behind the Dursleys’... and leave behind everything.

 

But then Lily won’t know where you went, a quiet voice whispered in the back of his mind.

 

Harry hugged his knees and tried to calm his breath so he didn’t break down into sobs.  He wanted to run away, but there was obviously some small part of him that still wanted his parents to come and rescue him.

He didn’t know what to do.


 

 

Summer eventually took spring’s place, schools were let out, and Harry was bombarded daily with rocks, insults, and the occasional water balloon. His cousin had learned nothing, though Harry wasn’t sure what he’d actually expected.

 

It was manageable. He stuck to the shadows of the house and only interacted with the Dursleys when he absolutely had to. Often times he could get by without saying anything the entire day-- nobody actually initiated conversation. He began to wonder what a genuine conversation was like, he couldn’t remember.

 

The oppressive dry heat of June officially ruined the last clean clothes Harry had brought with him. Sweat and dirt had stained his clothes and left a permanent smell that wouldn’t come out no matter how many times he washed them. It was only a matter of time until Aunt Petunia threw them out.

 

June 23, Harry was released from his hard cupboard only to weave through the mound of wrapped boxes and gifts in the living room.

 

37 presents, which was one less than last year, apparently. Dudley had shouted and started throwing a temper tantrum. Watching the obese boy shed crocodile tears, Harry felt sickened. The presents filled the room and left little space to walk. His parents soon managed to placate their screaming son by promising to get him two more on the day’s outing.

 

Which Harry was forced to come along on.

 

(More realistically though, the Dursleys didn’t trust him enough to leave him home alone. Petunia had started to have suspicions that Harry could escape from his cupboard.)

 

This left him following quietly along to the zoo.

 

Harry trailed behind the Dursleys, trying to stay as inconspicuous as possible.

He didn't particularly want to be associated with them, obnoxious-looking tourists even in their own country, but he knew that running off or disappearing on his own wouldn't end well for him later.

The muggle zoo was fascinating. Harry hadn't the opportunity to visit any sort of animal habitats since the dreaded and eventful night a year ago. Since then even the thought of seeing a collection of animals left him with a loud frantic pulse and a nauseating dizziness. Regardless, he couldn't find it in himself to admit that the assortment of fur and feathers interested him more than most everything.

Seeing real tigers without fangs or African gazelles lacking spines and extra horns was a surreal experience. Although most were lethargic in the midday heat, they each possessed a sort of mesmerizing beauty other people didn't seem to recognize.

He felt a deep seated fury bubbling up inside as Dudley and his friends continued to ponder the activity of hurling empty beverage containers or small rocks into the enclosures. His fingers clenched and unclenched when one boy actually hurled himself against the glass and thoroughly terrified one sleeping sea-lion.

The next step on the zoo tour was to visit the large imposing facility on the far side. It was embellished with decorative artificial jungle vines and large sandy boulders. The letters had been painted on in bright green: Reptile Den.

 

Entering the Reptile Den, Harry once more felt his heartbeat quicken. The air smelled stale in here, the humidity and filtered air of a carefully controlled climate. He stood in the middle of the hallways to avoid being too close to the lizards and staring crocodiles. The tank to his right featured an abnormally large turtle and a few dozen small fish.

He flinched when Dudley this time complained loudly and rudely about the waste of space each lizard was, evidently due to their inactivity. His voice bounced and distorted off the glass walls of the many tanks.

Harry twitched, already uncomfortable and tense from his rising anxiety and loathing for the blatant mistreatment his cousin displayed towards the creatures.

"Make it move!" Dudley complained loudly. He watched approvingly as Uncle Vernon huffed and rapped his cane sharply against the glass. The python behind the glass jolted back, eyes narrowing as it started to shake alarmed and confused.

Harry hated this. How could anyone care so little for a living thing?

Dudley cheered once a particularly loud whack stirred the snake into hissing and rearing. The action was entirely defensive, its tail whipped around wildly as its coils tightened protectively.

"Blasted thing," Vernon grunted, mustache twitching as the snake hid its head, "better use as a pair of shoes if I say so myself."

Harry's eyes widened. He shifted a little to watch the snake around his uncles girth. One of Dudley's friends, having been watching the crocodiles raced over to view the now active snake.

"Move it, freak!" Piers shouted, elbowing sharply into Harry's side and knocking him to the floor. He landed on sore elbows below a hot sandy showcase.

Pierce raced around Vernon before he clapped both hands harshly against the glass. It echoed, making the snake violently flinch and move for any sort of exit.

"Look at it squirm! " Piers laughed, clapping the glass again, "The ones at home don't squirm like that, do they Dudley?"

Harry grit his teeth and before his eyes, quite magically in fact, the boy leant forward and fell into the habitat.

Harry stared as Piers screamed, scrambling backwards as the mighty python rushed to freedom. Dudley screamed, jumping back against the wall as the snake hissed loudly.

Vernon belted something ugly while Aunt Petunia shrieked, clutching her purse to her chest.

" Oh, deserved." Harry heard, a snickering sound in a dialect just slightly off from English.

The python hurried, weaving between the concrete benches and decorative fake plants towards the exit, it hissed out a muffled yet distinct cry of " Goodbye !"

Harry watched the snake with a small smile, it seemed that the python triggered a chain reaction. Reptiles and similar snakes rose and jumped to attention. The reptile house was filled with the growing crescendo of rattlers and hisses and whispering voices.

Dudley and his friends ran, screaming at the glass enclosures which miraculously remained in tact. Vernon grabbed his wife and fled, with a muffled cry of, "no more of this freakish nonsense!"

Harry was left alone, in the growing din whispers while a few rattlesnakes prodded their glass walls curiously.

"Not open?" One whispered, muffled through the glass.

A coiled pit viper cackled something happily and danced on its synthetic plants. A large cobra flared it's hood and rambled out a series of words conveying its frustration.

"Not free? No sad, still funny." The voice behind him hissed again, humor in its tone. "Thank, magic hatchling."

"What?" Harry blurted, blinking and not feeling the specific accent that he’d had before. "What?" He repeated.

The snake pulled back, flickering it's tongue timidly " you speak?"

"Er, hello? " Harry offered, spotting it's dark scales and bright slit eyes, " How do you know it was me?"

The snake wavered, unsure yet interested. "You stay. They flee." The snake pulled out further and raised itself. It wasn’t very big. " You magic, make things ."

Harry nodded slightly. "I have magic. But most people don't know about it. How do you know?"

The snake paused, stiffening as if it was trying to comprehend the words, " I den with magic. Make prey make happy."

Harry frowned, " you were born with magic ?" He struggled, not used to extended verbal interaction.

The snake slid further out onto a sandy rock, it looked at Harry enthusiastically, "den-mates magic. Humans, make prey."

Harry smiled a fraction and touched the glass, looking at the creature with slight awe . "I don't live with people that have magic. My family does-- I mean did. I don't live with them anymore." Harry swallowed, "They're gone because it's not safe. But I don’t think I’m safe here either."

"Hatchlings left. Den-mates left, alone too. " The snake offered, ducking its head slowly, "Alone in box."

Harry frowned at the snake, " you lived with wizards? Was it dangerous?"

" No bite! No human prey ." The snake flicked it's tongue wildly, " some human nice. Some cruel."

Harry nodded slowly, "some humans are cruel too. And some try but they just- " Harry ignored the lump in his throat " sometimes they have to leave you . Sometimes they don’t care and sometimes they forget. "

"Magic human sad."

"No, no I'm not--"

"Sad too." It quietly added.

Its scales were very small. A mixture of dark brown or black, its eyes were alert.

"Harry, " the boy offered, " my name is Harry."

The snake flicked it's tongue, " magic child Harry. Den-mate Harry? " It mused, voice wavering with as much hope and hesitant longing as it could disguise.

"I- " Harry stumbled, shifting backwards and looking towards the entrance to the reptile house, " I can't-"

"Oh, " it stated quietly, shifting down and curling around tightly. The action revealed just how small the snake really was, " I okay. Stay in box. " It soothed.

Harry looked at it, wavering and watching as it crumpled into something mournfully sad. "I'm sorry."

"No. No sorry. " The snake argued, " expected. No sorry. I have box."

Harry winced slightly and the snake seemed determined now to prove him wrong.

"Look, I-"

"I have box. Heat and cold prey sometimes. Space!" It urged, thrashing out its tail, narrowly avoiding the walls.

Harry swallowed and touched the glass once again. He was only partly speaking to the little snake now. "You're the first thing interested in talking to me. Normally it's my brother. Normally I'm the one saying it's okay... "

‘But is it really?’ That doubting little voice asked. ‘Has it ever been okay?’

Harry’s eyes narrowed and his hand curled into a sudden fist, heart hardening in resolve. “It doesn’t matter because they don’t care .”

He eyed the snake through the glass, suddenly relaxing. He felt a sudden longing that was easy to place. He had something in common with this little snake. They’d both been abandoned by their families, cast aside like they were worthless.

Harry’s insides twisted and he wasn’t sure what exactly he was feeling.

He reached through the glass with the sensation of breaching water. The snake hissed in surprise, not opposing how gently Harry hoisted the serpent into the air. It wrapped its body around Harry's hand, coiling between his fingers for a more secure hold.

It twitched once traveling through the glass, tail thrashing in excitement as it flicked it's tongue quickly.

"You won't bite me, right ?" Harry asked cautiously, lifting the eighteen inch snake closer to his face.

"No bite ." The snake assured, " you help now I help. "

" Help?" Harry echoed. Already he felt lighter. He’d found a kindred spirit. Someone who understood.

"Help, " the snake confirmed firmly. "I help Harry."

Harry felt a genuine smile spread across his face. The glossy dark scales reflected the dim overhead lights.

"Are you dangerous?" Harry asked, rising from his knees and brushing off dirt with his unoccupied hand.

"Yes! Nasty bite! Humans careful. No bite humans unless Harry say bite," the snake offered. It sounded quite hopeful and seemed pleased with itself when Harry nodded.

"You have to stay quiet and you can’t move, " Harry explained carefully, "I can't have Petunia,Vernon, or Dudley know about you."

The snake stared and flicked it's tongue.

" Can you hide ? Will you be cold? " Harry asked, growing worried with how he was going to smuggle out a snake.

"Winter. " It stated simply and slowly started to climb up Harry's arm under his shirt and summer jacket. Harry flinched at the foreign touch, the snake seemed to slip a few times but after a few careful undulations it managed to nestle wrapped around his underarm and the top of his shoulder.

Harry stood wobbly and walked, carefully feeling for if the snake slid. It held, and Harry slid out of the exit doors, just as a group of zookeepers hurried by with special equipment that Harry guessed might be used to catch the runaway python .

Finding the Dursleys and friends were easy afterwards. Petunia was watching a zookeeper with hawk-like scrutiny. The zookeeper had been kneeling, talking to Dudley and his friends at eye level. Harry slipped around quietly and stood behind his uncle.

"-bout that? You can pick anything from the giftshop," Harry overheard the stressing zookeeper. He confirmed to the sniffing Dudley. The zookeeper rose, looking very apologetic. "I'm very sorry sir, I don't know how the enclosure was not secure."

Vernon sniffed and clicked his cane on the ground loudly, "you lot are lucky that ruddy cretin didn't bite my boy!" He thundered, pointing his cane at the quickly floundering zookeeper. "Sue! Sue we will! This bloody establishment should be shut down and all of those brutish creatures be put down!"

The zookeeper’s expression quickly transformed into something of annoyance and masked irritation. When he spoke, his tone was clipped. "Sir. I am sorry that your experience was less than pleasant. Countless other guests have enjoyed our reptile exhibits and the various rare and endangered species on display--"

"Oh they better be endangered! I'd have them gone! Good to see others haven't lost their minds!" Vernon fumed, turning sharply and stomping loudly. "-and you! " Vernon fumed, finally having noticed Harry.

Petunia's eyes widened and she gave a little gasp. Harry shifted uncertain as her expression twisted into something ugly.

"Vernon." She crisply stated, grasping his arm sharply, "let's go ."

Harry fidgeted.

 


 

 

Harry managed to drop the snake outside when fake falling out of the car. The snake, confused but obliging, slid under the car and hid.

Vernon was furious, grabbing Harry’s shirt by the back collar, all but dragging him inside the house. Harry felt a jab of irritation, morbidly wondering how long he would be trapped in his cupboard this time, or how else he would be punished.

 

Once Piers and the rest of Dudley’s friends left, Petunia and Vernon began to scream. Each voice adding to the chaotic cacophony once they had clued in that the python was his doing.

 

Harry stared at the center of the kitchen table. He was tempted to set it ablaze.

 

“Are you listening, boy!” Vernon roared, reaching out to smack Harry on the back of his head. Having not anticipated it, Harry lurched forward and bumped his forehead on the table.

 

“Vernon!” Petunia shrieked, taken aback by the sudden violence.

 

Harry lifted his head from the table, one hand drifting to his forehead to feel the skin tenderly.

 

Vernon spluttered, obviously surprised himself. Harry turned, eyes blank as he slowly looked at Vernon.

 

Vernon’s clothes burst into flames.

 

It wasn’t severe, nothing dangerous but it was a split second of heat-- hungry tendrils licking from his shoulders and burning the tips of his mustache.

 

Petunia screamed, grabbing the tablecloth and tearing it away. A vase of daisies on the table shattered on the floor and she hurriedly used the cloth to pat out the flames.

 

Vernon spun, looking horrified at Harry. He couldn’t manage a single word, instead gasping out noises of confusion and anger.

 

And perhaps fear?

 

Harry slid off the chair, one hand flitting to his forehead where a bump was forming. He walked, creating dead silence with each step, and closed the door to his cupboard behind him.

 

Three more locks were installed that night.


Harry unlocked them all.

Chapter Text

“What’s your name?” Harry asked, peering down at the small snake which coiled around his wrist.

 

“Name?” It questioned, flicking its tongue curiously. “No name, Den-Harry.”

 

They were hidden away in a park just down the road from the Dursleys’. Harry had created a soft glow with no real source, just enough for him to see by really. The subtle warmth of magic thrummed under his skin, feeling almost tangible. Harry had forgotten the multiple times since his outburst, that his blood was only deep red and not illuminated by the magic pulsating with each heartbeat. He had plenty of opportunities to try and remember this fact, Dudley and his friends were almost obsessive with maiming him whenever possible now.

 

“Just Harry,” he corrected, using one hand to pet the sleek back of the snake. H ( e enjoyed the feeling of its scales; he’d expected the snake to feel slimy, but it was smooth and dry. Its scales were a dark brown, almost black, but they had a faint, splotchy pattern: dirt stained, like Harry’s own fingers.

“I could name you, if you’d like?”

 

Den-Harry, yes. It flicked its tongue, catching itself quickly. “No Den-Harry, Harry?

 

Harry nodded his head, before realising that the small snake probably didn’t understand human body language enough to know what a nod meant . They had totally different bodies after all, Harry and his little friend. “ That’s right. I am Harry.

 

“I am?” It asked, its voice rising at the end to indicate a question.

 

At first, he’d thought talking to a snake would be just like talking to another person, only with foreign-sounding hissing, which, to Harry, sounded just like English anyway. The little snake didn’t understand the majority of the bigger words though, some of the bigger concepts. Its vocabulary was very limited. It made talking with it a challenge, but an interesting challenge.

 

Realising that his little friend was asking for its name, Harry tilted his head, looking at the serpent curiously. “I’m reading a book, the creator of this spell is Nikkoli Lutain. I don’t know what it does. But the name sounds interesting.

 

Lutain? ” The little snake asked, pausing in what seemed like concentration, “ I...am?

Harry nodded, then, remembering himself, he smiled. “ You’re Lutain.

 

The snake looked as confused as Harry thought a snake might look. You’re Lutain?

 

Was it the contractions that the little snake didn’t understand? He thought about it for a moment, then realised that the problem might’ve been one of perspective.

 

Okay, I am Harry. You are Lutain. In your eyes, I am Lutain, you are Harry, Harry said, gesturing with his hands, before realising again that, since snakes didn’t have hands, his gesturing might not mean anything to the little snake.

 

It seemed to understand despite the language gap. “I am Lutain! You are Harry! You are Harry no prey!

 

Not prey, ” Harry agreed.

 

“You are Harry,” It hissed gleefully, “You are not prey.”

 


 

 

“What Harry prey?” Lutain asked one day, curling around a flower pot while Harry pruned carnations by the side garden.

 

“What is Harry’s prey.” Harry corrected instantly, not looking up from where he tugged at a few browning stalks. They’d been working on overcoming the language gap between them.

 

“What is Harry’s prey?” Lutain repeated, flicking its tongue.

 

“Well,” Harry started. “I am human. I eat many things, sometimes I can eat certain plants or fruits. I can eat meat, but we eat larger animals like pigs and cows.

 

“Plants?” Lutain seemed baffled, “Human prey plants?”

 

Harry plucked off a dandelion that was trying to grow up through the ground. He held it up for Lutain to see, then stuffed it in his mouth.

 

Lutain reared back, hissing in disgust, “Not plant! Not want!”

 

Harry smiled. “Plants we eat are called vegetables.”

 

“Vegetables, not want,”  Lutain rephrased firmly. “Vegetables, I not want.”

 

“I do not want.” Harry corrected.

 

Lutain slid forward, flicking its tongue against the dandelion stump where some sap was beading. “I...I do not want vegetables.”

 

Harry smiled. He reached down, holding his out hand and Lutain wriggled against it, pleased. For the first time in a long while, Harry chuckled.

 


 

 

“When do Harry shed?” Lutain asked quietly, peering at Harry’s skin curiously. Harry paused, looking over his shoulder where Lutain coiled on his cot. He had smuggled the snake inside earlier that day; it was supposed to rain that night.

 

“Humans have skin. Snakes have scales.” Harry explained, finding a shirt to change into, “Humans heal their skin over time.”

 

“No shed mark?” Lutain tasted the air with its tongue, then moved its head closer to something on Harry’s body. Its tongue flickered out again, tickling his side.

 

Harry peered down at his body and saw the thin scar along his side from where Dudley had grazed him with his slingshot. It was an angry red still.

 

“No, the mark may fade. Some scars do. Some scars never will,” Harry offered, brushing his fingertips over the raised skin.

 

“Humans skin no want. Humans skin hurt.”

 

Harry hummed in agreement, pulling on his shirt and moving to sit on the bed next to the snake, “You know, I never asked what gender you are.”

 

“Gender?” Lutain asked curiously.

 

Harry thought for a moment. “Eggs? Do you lay eggs?”

 

“No eggs! Lutain no eggs.” Lutain hissed.

 

If you don't have eggs, you’re male. If you do, you’re female, Harry explained, reaching for the one well-loved spell book, “I am male. You are male. Male and Female are genders.”

 

Lutain nodded as if understanding, peering curiously as Harry pulled up the book and opened it to a specific page, a certain spell he had been working on. “ This is a book of spells.

 

Book?

 

Talking, each marking is a letter and letters together makes a word. You can look at the letters and understand what someone says.

 

The little snake’s tongue flickered and it brought its head closer to the old pages. There was, of course, no way for it to actually know how to read; it had no idea at all what each of the words said, or even what sounds were represented by which squiggles on the page.

 

Harry didn’t mind, in fact he enjoyed the conversation. He wasn’t quite as lonely anymore, now that he had someone to talk to.

 


 

 

It was when Dudley blamed an injury on Harry, that his living arrangements once again changed. Brookdale Residency was a large white building on the outskirts of anywhere. It was just miles of countryside in every direction, bordered only by a small copse of trees on the furthest south side. The building had large windows shrouded by dull blue curtains. There was a porch swing by the front doorstep.

 

“Here we are!” Vernon thundered, seeming quite pleased as he heaved up the steps using his cane. He rapped his cane against one of the decorative white pillars under the overhang. “Wonderful establishment, this one here!”

 

Where are we? Lutain hissed quietly, from just under Harry’s shirt around his left shoulder.  Harry didn’t dare answer his little friend.

 

A tall, thin woman stepped out. She was taller than Aunt Petunia and wearing shoes which gave her a few extra inches. She peered down at Harry and Uncle Vernon with an imperious , pinched expression.

 

“Leave the trunk here,” she ordered, nodding to the porch. Her voice was a sharp, no-nonsense kind of voice. “I’ll have one of the workers carry it inside.”

 

“Excellent!” Vernon blustered, wheezing and leaning on his cane. “So, you...” He motioned between Harry and the woman. He wouldn’t meet Harry’s eyes. “Yes.”



Turning quickly and lifting one hand in a half-hearted and entirely insincere wave, Vernon hurried back towards the car without ever looking back.

 

The woman crossed her arms, looking down at Harry with a scowl. The sound of Vernon’s car tearing away, leaving Harry behind with this complete stranger was background noise to what she said next. “Brookdale Residency is an orphanage. It’s where children who have no family, or family that don’t want them, end up.”

 

Harry twitched slightly.

 

“Some children are troublemakers, some aren’t. You aren’t going to be one, are you?” she sniffed, her every word dripping disdain.

 

Lutain stiffened and the low gatherings of a hiss seemed to bristle.

 

“No,” said Harry, his tone mirroring hers. The woman didn’t seem surprised.

 

“I am Madam Clover. You will address me as such and obey all rules. Do we have an agreement?” The woman said sternly. It was clearly not a question.

 

Master, I do not like human, Lutain whispered, voice dangerously cold, “I do not like her much.

 

“We do.” Harry confirmed, shifting his arm enough to move Lutain slightly.

 

“Good.” She turned on her heels and walked back into the building.

 

Harry want Lutain to bite? Lutain offered.

 

No, ” Harry murmured under his breath. “We’ll just have to make do.

 


 

Harry’s room was nestled on the left side of the hallway, four doors down from the stairs. The room was square, in drastic need of a renovation, and had a larger cot with stained sheets. It was already much better than the cupboard.

 

The company was at times questionably better, and worse. Brookdale Residency was large and mostly empty, because of this each child was gifted an individual room. A bathroom was shared between each neighbouring door, connecting each room to the other. Each room was old, creaking floorboards and broken window ledges. The walls were an off-colour white, the lights were a buzzing fluorescent that made each vein and artery pop just a little more under the skin.




Harry’s trunk sat at the foot of his bed. Although his room came equipped with a wardrobe, he kept all of his belongings in the trunk, with the exception of a few supplied toiletries. He noticed almost instantly that his trunk had shown signs of tampering and his toiletries had been swapped with mud paste.

 

There were two children in particular who seemed to have a grudge against Harry more than others: David Forestar and Ralph Lingburg.

 

Harry didn’t know the exact details or their story, but he didn’t care enough to actually learn it either. Both boys had apparently been left at the orphanage at an early age.

Left to his own devices, Ralph wasn’t generally motivated enough to get into much trouble. David was another matter. David had no qualms about attacking or stealing from the younger children. It was when they were together that things got really out of hand.

 

Both boys were eleven years old and already they were a force to be reckoned with in the small world that encompassed the orphanage. They’d somehow managed to convince the otherwise strict Madam Clover to overlook any incidents when they were unfortunate enough to be caught in compromising situations.

 

The boys were fascinated with Harry, or rather his apathetic views that were so different from the shriveling mess that most children became. They wanted to get a rise out of him. They broke into his room often, he could tell. They were the ones who had most likely had tampered with and tried to break into his trunk.

 

Then one day, Harry was at the top of the stairs, intent on going outside for a bit of fresh air and to let Lutain try his best at snatching a mouse in the neighbouring fields, when Suzie Forestar, David’s younger sister, appeared.

 

Suzie, short for Suzanna, was relatively harmless. She was seven, having just had her birthday a week earlier. Most of the time she was a sweet, naive little girl, but sometimes… sometimes she was a biting gossip who liked nothing more than insulting other people.

 

That was the mood she was in now.

 

“Harry!” She snapped out, batting her eyelashes and giving him a large, devious smile. She quickly got in between him and the stairs.

 

“Care to move? I’m going outside.”

 

Are you?” She gasped, hands dramatically covering her cheeks, eyes widening in a mock caricature of real surprise. “Is that what you said to your parents?”

 

Harry stopped. “What?”

 

Suzie’s grin widened; normally Harry ignored everything she said. Not this time. He’d taken the bait, he realised a moment too late.

 

“Or maybe… Maybe your parents just left you!” Suzie accused, with an over-exaggerated sense of false shock. Harry flinched. Suzie nearly squealed, realising that she’d struck a nerve. “Maybe they realised just how freaky you are! Maybe they never loved you at all!”

 

Harry saw red. Because it was nothing he hadn’t thought to himself, during the long, dark nights in the cupboard under the stairs. His jaw clenched and for a brief moment, all he wanted was for her to take that back, for her to pay .

 

There was a rush in his ears, a pounding, painful pressure, and his jaw tightened again as she giggled victoriously over his hidden hurt--

 

And then she was screaming, her arms flailing wildly for something to grab onto as she slipped and fell backwards down the stairs. He watched in shock as the little girl tumbled end over end painfully down the stairs, until she came to rest at the bottom. She started wailing in pain and screaming for help.

 

Harry heard the hurried footsteps of the adults and likely Madam Clover, rushing from the lower level.

 

Harry quickly hurried away, one hand sliding into his pocket to wake Lutain and shush him as he headed back to his room and locked the door, his heart pounding like a drum in his chest.

 

The incident report for the file had been filled out by suppertime that night. Harry knew that he wasn’t officially mentioned in the documentation. If he was, or if he’d been suspected, they would have sent him to be questioned in Madam Clover’s office.

 

Unfortunately, one of Suzie’s more impressive skills was spreading rumours quickly and efficiently. By suppertime that night, everyone knew. He wasn’t a fool and it was impossible not to notice that the table he was sitting at was completely empty, while children were practically sitting on each other’s laps at the other tables. They kept throwing him looks, somewhere between glares and anxious peeking. Their quiet whispering filled the room with hushed and hissed conversation which left Harry feeling isolated.

 

The worst happened when David stormed over, grabbed Harry’s plate of food, and dumped it all over his hair.

 

Harry felt a flash of anger. Instantly, David leapt back with a cry of surprise and pain. One hand quickly clapped onto his other wrist, where the fading imprint of a red ring was starting to form around his arm.

 

The next day, they learned that David had somehow developed first degree burns on his left wrist after coming into contact with hot metal. That was the official story anyway, but everyone knew what really happened.


Harry just kept Lutain with him more, now that even the other orphans wanted him to be alone.

Chapter Text

“This is cold rain.”

 

“It’s snow actually. It’s called snow when it’s white and fluffy like this. It’s frozen rain.”

 

Lutain poked his head out of Harry’s coat, his small tongue flickering just under Harry’s jaw. “Snew?”

 

“Snow.” Harry corrected, teaching Lutain yet another word. Lutain had been a very fast learner -- actually suspiciously fast. If it wasn’t for the fact that Harry was almost certain that Lutain wasn’t a magical species, he would have suspected Lutain had been charmed.

 

Lutain had grown marginally longer. He had always been of decent length, now he was nearing two feet, which wasn’t at all spectacular in the serpent world. He had thickened, something he boasted proudly over since he could now consume large mice.

 

Winter had come quickly, snow falling just after the end of October and carrying with it the biting chill everyone seemed to hate. The orphanage was not at all insulated against the cold and everyone became as frosty inside as it was outside. Madam Clover was more snappish, David more ruthless, and other children more avoidant. The entire building seemed to whisper of all the strange occurrences, rumors about Harry, ranging from being possessed by demonic beings to the offspring of a cult leader were widespread.

 

Harry learned that nobody could be trusted and everyone wanted something from you.

(Lutain was the one to point out that by making yourself necessary for everyone else, it secured your position as irreplaceable.)

Harry didn’t have warm clothing; he had only what was brought to him. Of course, families donated clothing or money to the orphanage, but that money and the donations went to the other children first, because Harry had the misfortune of Madam Clover’s frustration and annoyance.

 

Not that she could ever actually pin anything on him.

 

Harry stiffened when he was hit in the back by something cold and wet. Pausing, he could hear the snickers of David and Ralph, boasting likely to the younger children about how great their aim was. Harry heard someone, practically an infant, laugh gleefully as David hit Harry once again.

 

“Flea-coated rodents.” Lutain grumbled, nestling further into Harry’s coat to avoid the freezing cold of the melting snow. Harry twitched as a single trail of water slid down under his threadbare jacket and touched his spine.

 

“What’s wrong, little Harry?” David laughed, sauntering over in a jacket not looking that much better, tossing a baseball-sized wad of snow in one hand to the other, “Don’t like the cold?”

 

David snaked his left foot out to whack into Harry’s foot. Ralph, having snuck up behind Harry, ran forward to knock into his shoulders. Not anticipating the tag team, Harry’s arm windmilled as he yelped and crashed face first into the thin layered snow.

 

David laughed, posing something which made more of the newcomers laugh wildly.

Harry winced and glared at David who looked suddenly more interested.

 

“What was that?” David gasped, squatting to try and listen, “Are you trying to say something to me?” He clapped loudly, “Well done! I thought you were mute!”

 

“I don’t have anything to say to someone with your intelligence.” Harry grumbled, propping himself upright on his elbows.

 

David frowned, and promptly knocked Harry’s face back into the snow.

 

“Aw, don’t be like that little Harry,” His eyes sparkled in amusement, “Are you giving me the cold shoulder?

 

“Bite me.” Harry hissed out, causing David to frown.

 

“You’re lucky it’s winter,” David casually mentioned, “If you said that in summer, I bet I could get Clover to think that was a threat against me, with that weird snake that you had.” David sniffed, “Creepy thing, I hope it froze.”

 

“Snakes hibernate,” Harry dryly pointed out, “I don’t think you could convince her that I can suddenly talk to snakes.”

 

“Oh I don’t know.” David shrugged, his gaze suddenly very intense, “People think a lot of things about you. Supernatural things,” his lip twitched, “That you can move things without touching them, or I don’t know, push my sister down a flight of stairs.”

David looked much too friendly for the conversation to actually be that.

“So!” David chirped, “I just have to protect the rest of all of us from your weirdness and make sure you don’t go around messing with my sister.”

 

“Don’t play with fire, David,” Harry warned, “You’ll get burned.”

 

David’s expression fell somewhat dark, his one hand moved instinctively to the faint burn scar around his wrist.

 

“You’ll pay for that, Harry.”

 

“You’re the one who kisses up to Clover. You have more money than I do.” David’s nostrils flared and he looked up at Ralph who was waiting for some unagreed signal. He seemed at a loss. “Why don’t you just leave me alone for once? You don’t want to start something you can’t stop.”

 

“Oh shut up.” David howled, punching downwards messily.

 

Although the strike was sloppy, Harry was on the ground and didn’t have any chance of avoiding it. He tucked his chin down, taking the hit on the back of his head and feeling it recoil through his neck and shoulders. Ralph jumped in, giving a mighty kick which let the air leave Harry’s lungs in a mighty poof.

 

Lutain hissed something alarmed and frantic as he tried to wriggle free through the blows. Harry’s ducked head wouldn’t let the snake wiggle through.

 

“Master!” Lutain shrieked, whipping his tail angrily and panicked.

 

Ralph managed a kick which somehow knicked the lower half of Lutain’s tail. Lutain cried in pain, curling up and shaking under the coat.

 

‘Leave Lutain alone!’ Harry thought vehemently, bubbling anger pooling over as he glared through his messy fringe at David, ‘Leave us alone!’

 

David pulled back his leg to kick before he toppled and fell. His leg sunk through the snowbank, stopping just above his knee. The only strange factor, was that his other leg had found sturdy ground just an inch through the snow.

 

David had sunk into the ground.

David screamed in surprise and fear, staring at his leg dumbly for a few moments before hollering for Clover and screaming about witchcraft, which Harry found quite amusing.

 

Harry straightened, getting off the ground and wiping his nose with the back of his hand. His nose had started trickling a thin stream, not that anyone was looking at him. Even Ralph had stumbled back, skittering off for safety.

 

“What did I tell you,” Harry sighed, still highly irritated.

 

Lutain moaned something quietly, whispering in agony and trembling against Harry’s body.

 

Why was it that Lutain had to be hurt, he hadn’t done a thing. It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t justified for an innocent to be hurt. David should be the one wounded, he had at least been the attacker.

 

Harry wanted David to hurt.

 

“When you poke the fire, you get burned.” Harry hissed out, reaching out and snatching David’s hand between his own. He heard the loud hissing crackle without actually feeling anything. The air was filled with an acrid stench of something cooking.

 

David screamed. Tears overflowed his glassy eyes as he flailed, trying to break free although he couldn’t with one leg burrowed in the frozen ground.

 

Harry let go sharply, taking a step back. David’s hand smoldered, the skin peeling and shriveling away from his hand like a timelapse video. It smoked and smelled of something rank, looking putrid dark red and swelling already.

 

“I’ll get Madam Clover,” Harry drawled, swallowing against the small sensation of guilt that was rising in his throat, “I’ll tell her you were trying to play with firecrackers.”

 

David said nothing, sniffling, staring at his hand in horror and excruciating pain.

 

Harry turned and walked quickly towards the house, already dreading the accusations and the future whispers that would spread about him.

 

He doubted David would ever bother him again.

 

-------------------------------------

 

David’s hand scarred, a permanent reminder Harry thought. It was a mottled patchwork of dark red and pale pink that would never be smooth again. David hid the ghastly-looking scarring with an old ratty black glove and he was lucky it was his left hand and not the right. Harry had heard that the nerves had been damaged and that David had nearly no fine motor control left in the stiffened fingers and taut skin.

 

After that, the other children avoided him. The rooms around his were quickly vacated, until Harry was then surrounded by empty rooms. The orphanage staff couldn’t actually prove anything, but it was likely a security precaution. He had been involved in both incidents, after all.

 

The other children avoided him like the plague whenever he went outside. They lapsed into silence when he walked past, often times retreating entirely into their rooms.

 

At dinner, nobody talked when he was in the vicinity.

 

He stopped having dinner at the same time as everyone else.

 

They didn’t deserve his company anyways.

 

--------------------------

 

Christmas was a miserable holiday.

The other children laughed and played with the cheap toys they mysteriously were given, boasting and fighting for the best one.

 

Suzie picked up her teddy bear and, against the hushed and insistent advice given to her, she turned and pointedly looked at Harry. “Oh, looks like nobody likes you enough to give you a present!”

 

Harry made sure she woke up to burned cloth and ashes for button eyes.

 

------------------------

 

Harry felt a wave of despair hit him the moment the snow began to melt.

 

Some small part of Harry had been hoping, that perhaps Vernon Dursley would return and take him back. Or even his parents. Harry hoped that they would at least check in on him, then, finding him no longer at the Dursleys’, that they would come to take him home.

 

But it had been over a year and a half.

 

Lutain had gone silent, his damaged scales still remaining with a slight kink near the tip of his tail. The snake was now Harry’s only decent conversation and rather skilled at it with Harry’s constant teachings.

 

“They’re not coming back, are they Lutain?” Harry asked, idly watching the melting snow.

 

The snake tightened around his wrist for a brief second, but never spoke.

 

The days were warmer. Behind him he heard the quiet chorus of young children shouting and playing. A slight breeze tugged at the dead grass and new tufts of spring foliage.

 

Harry closed his eyes. Like the spring breeze, he left himself relax. And he let himself go.

 

They’re not going to come back, Harry repeated to himself, more firmly this time, more decisively. It carried assurance that was often associated with speaking orders. “So I’ll give them something to miss.

 

Like what, Master? Lutain asked, peering out and slowly sliding out of Harry’s sleeve and onto his lap.

 

I’ll be turning ten near the start of August. On magical children’s eleventh birthday, they’re given a letter of enrollment for the school Hogwarts. Which means, we have little over a year and a half to learn as many spells in that book as possible, ” Harry said.

 

Why learn them? Lutain inquired, “Already can magic heat.

 

Wizards know more than just that. I need to learn a few more. Enough that I can do some things that Skylar can’t--

 

“Master.” Lutain interjected, voice quiet and sounding defeated, “I thought you let your birth-kin go?”

 

Harry felt the instinct to argue rise, but he held it back. Was he still holding on to Lily and James?

 

Of course he was, that small, dark voice whispered. He was still desperately trying to prove to them that he was worth something. Or maybe he was trying to prove it to himself? He’d been abandoned, cast aside so easily, and every minute of every day that passed was just a little bit more proof of his value to them.

 

What would you have me do, Lutain? Harry sighed, hanging his head and eying a dandelion struggling to sprout. “What does the mighty snake say I should do?

 

Lutain flicked his tongue and scented the air.

 

Make new kin? Lutain offered, “Hatchling of own?

 

Lutain! Harry guffawed, trying to resist the sudden urge to laugh, “I’m not old enough for that!

 

All humans look same. Tall and scaleless.

 

All snakes look wriggly and hairless.

 

Toushes.

 

Harry paused, trying to figure out what Lutain had obviously mispronounced. “ ...Toushes?

 

Lutain nodded, agreeing with his word choice in a distinctly human manner. “ Toushes.

 

Harry found himself laughing and was ever so thankful for his reptilian companion. He found out several days later that the word Lutain had remembered wrong was actually touché .

 

Spring hormonal changes and puberty led to a rise in the testosterone and tension in the building.

 

Harry had finally relaxed, finding peace in his recent epiphany. Then, his trunk had been set on fire.

 

Thankfully the seal was magical and impossible to open, that didn’t stop the latches and magical lock from being smashed and damaged beyond use. It would require a spell to unlock the trunk in the state it was now. Harry could have done so, he knew his book detailed a powerful unlocking spell.

 

Except his book was trapped inside the chest.

 

He was fueled in a sudden bloodlust, knowing full well that David had attempted arson. The older boy constantly yawned or found excuse to flash his uncovered burn directly in Harry’s line of sight, staring at him in a silent challenge. ‘ Come on, you know you want to.

 

Harry did want to, that was the problem.

 

Even Suzie had somehow managed to convince her friends and others to rile Harry. Most of the children at the orphanage was well aware of the viciousness between Harry and David. They’d heard the rumors: David had somehow given Harry the scar on his side (which an older boy had seen while stealing Harry’s comb one morning), while Harry had returned the favour with the scar on David’s hand. One rumor went into depth with how Harry had somehow schemed with a now fired cook to press a burning spatula into David’s sleeping palm.

 

Things had been too quiet, plenty of children had entered the orphanage after Christmas and too many were frothing at the mouth for some sort of action.

 

It was just bad luck that the straw that broke the camel’s back happened to fall the day two well dressed men visited with the intentions of viewing the children.

 

Harry was outside (like he always preferred to the stuffy quiet of his room) with Lutain.

David approached, a small mob of wide eyed eager children following a short distance behind. Harry sighed, flexing his arm to signal that Lutain should stay quiet.

 

“What do you want?” Harry sighed, looking as disinterested as possible as the crowd shifted and formed a half ring around them.

 

David’s grin widened, Ralph stepping out from the masses to pass something small into David’s hand.

 

Harry frowned, trying to see exactly what it was that David now had.

 

“I have a present for you!” David chirped, rocking back and forth on the tips of his toes to the heels, “You’ll love it!”

 

David opened his hand, and revealed a young garden snake. Harry blinked, looking apprehensively between the snake and David.

 

Let down! It wailed, the voice was feminine although only barely, “Eggs! Down!

 

It was a mother.

 

“What are you doing?” Harry struggled to keep his voice calm, recognizing the situation as being a disaster.

 

“I know you like snakes!” David beamed, his eyes wide with mock kindness, “I’m being generous!”

 

Down! she wailed, thrashing her tail nervously, “Eggs! Hatchlings! Must protect!

 

Master… Lutain soothed low and quiet, he too was growing anxious with how desperate the mother was to protect her young.

 

“Why would I want a snake?” Harry said, voice tense though he tried to hide it.

 

“Well, you always had that one snake, so I thought I should try one.” David said nonchalantly, trailing his other fist down her body far too roughly. She cried in pain as he gripped her tightly, “I don’t really like it though. My mistake.”

 

Crack.

 

Harry jolted, already taking a step forward while the mother snake seemed to howl and hiss in pain. Her lower body didn’t move, lying limp below David’s face.

 

Actually, I take it back. This is kinda fun.” David beamed, hand sliding up an inch before twisting sharply. The snake screamed again as her bones were broken once more.

 

“Stop it,” Harry growled, voice low and eyes wide in fascinated horror.

 

“Fine.” David shrugged, eyes getting a wicked gleam as he reached up with one thumb, getting bitten by the weakly snapping jaws of the snake. David didn’t seemed deterred, instead he scowled and grasped the bottom jaw between his fingers.

 

Harry felt sick, and stared at the chunk of bloody muscle lying on the ground between them.

 

David laughed, dropped the weakly spasming snake and stomped.

 

Harry punched David in the nose, this time Lutain said nothing to convince him otherwise.

 

David laughed as he was tackled to the ground. They rolled, David beaming in breathless enthusiasm as he was punched twice more in the face.

 

“Why are you smiling!” Harry shouted, moving his knee to David’s gut. The other boy wheezed, still breathless as he raised something in his right hand.

 

“You’re dead,” David wheezed, blood staining his teeth from where it was pooling out of his nose. His right hand was sloppily holding a knife, stolen from the kitchen.

 

Oh, of course David still wanted revenge.

 

Harry scrambled back, scurrying across the dirt on his back. He flinched when his fingers accidentally brushed against the mutilated corpse of the worried mother. He had to force down the sickening vomit that threatened to rise up.

 

“Come here little Harry!” David cooed, slashing outwards with the knife with full intent to do harm. “You’ve been a pain in all of our arses for a long time and now you’re going to be the one screwed up!”

 

The crowd of kids cheered.

 

Harry’s eyes watered and his stomach churned and at what point was this fair!

 

Master. Lutain’s quiet voice brought him back to reality. The snake had slithered down his arm, nestling in the oversized sleeve of his borrowed coat. Lutain was coiled up tightly, like a spring of muscle and scale.

 

At that moment, Harry had a thought, which seemed to cut through the rising hysteria caused by David’s flashing knife. Alright Lutain, I hope your bite is as painful as you said.

 

Harry nodded frantically, likely looking psychotic as he shakily stood. David grinned, towering inches above Harry.

 

“You wanna fight like a man?” David chuckled, the crowd watching eagerly for the knick Harry was undoubtedly going to get. “Well, bring it.

 

Harry swallowed and lifted his one arm, pointing his hand flat and directly at David. David blinked in confusion, it looked like Harry was offering something on his palm.

" Bite him, Lutain. "

 

David blinked in surprise and started laughing at Harry’s incomprehensible hissing. The children who'd come to gawk mumbled in confusion. Some laughed outright. What was the freak up to?

 

Lutain lunged. The snake unhinged his jaw, his fangs coming upright as his mouth opened to ridiculous proportions.

 

David had been too confident he was going to win. He wasn't prepared for Harry's snake. Lutain's fangs pierced somewhere on his upper left shoulder.

 

Everything seemed to slow to a crawl for Harry. A split second seemed to last forever.

 

David stumbled back, a confused, dumbfounded look on his face. Around them, the other kids started to react, screaming and scrambling in every direction to get away; was one of them Suzie? Had she seen-

David dropped to the ground, tripping backwards over his own feet. The snake venom couldn't have--

 

Lutain must've hit a blood vessel, some part of Harry thought. A bloodstain bloomed across David's shirt, quickly getting bigger.

 

Harry stood transfixed. David just kept bleeding and bleeding. His face had gone pale and his eyes had gone wide.

 

It was quiet though, almost peaceful. Or maybe Harry was just so focused that he didn't hear David's horrified screaming.

 

Harry was distantly aware of people rushing over. Someone was screaming David's name. He recognised Madam Clover. She completely ignored Harry, rushing to David's side.

 

But it was obvious that she didn't know what to do.

 

David's breath was coming in short, shallow gasps. He wasn't moving quite so much, more twitching than moving really. How much time had gone by?

 

Muttering hurriedly to herself in words too quiet and too quick for Harry to understand, Madam Clover yanked Davit's shirt up with frantic, shaking hands. His blood was everywhere. How was it possible to bleed that much from such a tiny wound?

 

"Bloody hell," one of the strangers muttered. It was the first time Harry even noticed their arrival. "It's a ruddy snake bite."

 

Of course it was a snake bite, Harry thought distractedly.

 

The other man hissed something quietly to his partner, though Harry couldn't make out the words. He was looking at Harry suspiciously.

 

All of the blood did come from the two small puncture wounds left behind by Lutain's fangs. There was only a minor amount of swelling around the actual wounds; it was increasing unequally to the rhythmic pulsing of blood from his body.

 

"For God's sake, do something!" Madam Clover shouted, her voice shrill with panic. She had her hands pressed over the wound, trying in vain to stop the bleeding. They were absolutely covered in David's blood. "Call an ambulance!"

 

The two men looked at a loss.

 

David stopped moving. Then he stopped breathing.

 

Madam Clover wheeled on Harry. Her face was tear-streaked and her eyes burned with a mix of grief and anger. "You did this!"

 

She grabbed Harry by the shoulders and started to shake him violently. Harry managed to shove her off. Maybe his magic helped him, he couldn't tell. She fell back, sobbing and grief-stricken and refusing to look at him.

 

And there was guilt there too, as if acknowledging her own part in this. None of it would have happened if she'd just reined David in, instead of turning a blind eye and letting him to become a monster.

 

Lutain hissed and Harry felt him tense up, ready to strike again.

 

" No Lutain! "

 

Harry ignored the strange looks that the two men were giving him. They'd probably just think he was being a freak too; Harry couldn't bring himself to care about their opinions.

 

" You didn't tell me this would happen. "

 

" I told you I was dangerous. I strike and they fall. "

 

He hadn't meant it. Not like that. At least, that's what Harry tried to tell himself. A small part of him though...

 

" I thought Master said for flea-rodent to die. "

 

A small part of him knew that David would never mess with him again. Looking down at David's lifeless eyes, a small part of Harry couldn't help but feel satisfied.

 

He brought this on himself , that small voice in the back of Harry's mind whispered.

 

Harry agreed. He wanted David to hurt. He wanted David to--

 

"This is ridiculous," one of the men muttered. He reached into his pocket and he pulled out a wand.

 

Harry gasped involuntarily, staring in disbelief as the one man pointed it at Madam Clover and muttered a spell. She was knocked down on top of David and she didn't get back up again.

 

"Alright boy," the other man rasped, pointing his own wand now at Harry. Harry felt a stab of panic. Lutain tensed and hissed menacingly. "I can't believe I'm saying this, but tell that thing to calm down. We aren't going to hurt you."

 

" Lutain, " Harry started, speaking low and cautious. " Back down. "

 

Lutain grumbled, but seemed to calm down a bit. The man at once seemed to relax.

 

"Good," said the first man, gruffly.

 

"Bollocks! What do we do now? What's the plan?" The second man demanded.

 

"You came here with a plan?" Harry echoed. Maybe he was still feeling the shock himself, but he was beginning to feel suspicious. "Why did you come here?"

 

"For you, Potter," the first man said. "But now our plan's out the bloody window."

 

"What--" His partner started. He glanced over at Harry. "Oh you can't be serious--"

 

"What choice do we have? The boy's a bloody parselmouth!" The first man argued angrily, flicking his wand in Harry's direction. "I say we burn this whole place down, take him, and go. You know the Lord's going to wonder too."

 

"But Rodolphus--"

 

"Look, think about it for a minute: a Potter ?" The man now identified as Rodolphus stressed. "Being a parselmouth ?"

 

The other man seemed conflicted, but he nodded grudgingly.

 

"Wait-- burn this place down?" Harry said, his brain catching up to their conversation. That sense that something was wrong was suddenly very, very urgent. "I don't--"

 

"Silence, Potter," the unidentified wizard snapped.

 

Harry's eyes narrowed and his fingers twitched. There was an uncomfortable pressure between his ears, and before their eyes, the ground around them burst into bright scarlet flames. They licked hungrily at the wizards' boots, though the material seemed to be fireproof.

 

"Did he just do that wordlessly ?" Rodolphus started.

 

Harry glared and the other man started chuckling. "Alright, he killed a muggle, speaks to snakes, and can do wordless, wandless magic. Bella is going to love him."

 

Harry's eyes went wide and Lutain reared. There was an unfamiliar word and a flash of red. Then, blissful unconsciousness.

Chapter Text

Harry woke up to a high pitched squeal and tight arms around his throat. He flailed, hands rising to pry at the bony wrists crushing his neck.

 

"Oh I love it! It's adorable!" It was a woman's voice, an excited high-pitch. Harry was squeezed and turned, dragged this way and that in an odd parody of an embrace.



"It's not a puppy," someone outside Harry's field of vision grunted, a deeper voice this time, definitely a man's.

 

At once, the hands let go and Harry dropped onto the wooden floor under him. He coughed, hands rising to rub his bruised throat as he hacked loudly.

 

Two dainty-looking hands with black nails came into view, resting just a foot away. Harry could see them, his eyes hidden by his fringe of hair.

"Hello?" The woman's voice chirped. She dropped down, lowering until a manic woman's face swam into view, locking eyes with Harry's own eyes. "Hello!"

 

Harry scrambled back. The woman shifted into a kneel before him and cackled with laughter at his reaction. Her eyes alit at once with amusement at his instinctive fear.

 

She was tall and thin, with long, thick, and wild black hair, casting a strong contrast to her pale face. Her cheeks and jaw were sculpted with an almost aristocratic beauty Harry almost recognized. She had heavy-lidded dark eyes, giving Harry the impression that she was looking down on something. At the same time, those dark grey eyes glittered gleefully and Harry wasn't entirely sure he wanted to know what she found so funny.

 

"Who--" Harry croaked, his voice hoarse.

 

The woman's mouth pursed in concern and, with upsetting speed, she snatched up her wand from a hidden sheath and jabbed it in Harry's direction. "Episkey!"

 

It felt almost like his neck and throat was filled with cotton. Harry coughed, trying to dislodge the feeling of suffocating.

 

Then at once, it vanished.

 

"Better?" The woman cooed, fluttering her long eyelashes and sliding her wand back up her sleeve. She grinned, turning to look up at the two men who were standing by the door. Harry recognised them from the orphanage.

 

The one on the left, the shorter and thicker of the two, had long hair and a neatly trimmed beard. His face was square, set in a resting scowl as he watched Harry carefully. His eyes glittered maliciously and he gave Harry an uneasy feeling, even though he wasn't doing anything. He reached into his coat and very carefully pulled out a long, dark rope--

 

"Lutain!" Harry blurted, nearly lunging for the limp figure of his familiar and only hesitating when he saw the woman looking at him curiously.

 

"Is that the wittle snakey?" She asked the man in a childish voice, blinking and observing Lutain's glossy dark scales.

 

"Let him go," Harry said quietly, while carefully considering just how hard it would be to set the room around them ablaze.

 

"Careful," the man warned, setting the snake down on the floor. Lutain was terribly motionless and for a moment, Harry remembered the mother snake and what David had done to her.

 

"It's dangerous. Killed a boy almost faster than the Lord's," his partner added. He was the taller of the two and rail thin. There was an obvious family resemblance to his partner. They had the same dark eyes. He kept his hair shorter though and he was clean-shaven.

 

"Really?" The woman asked, a gleeful look in her eyes as she eyed the snake in a new light. She spun suddenly, grabbing Harry again and pulling him against her chest with crushing force. "Oh you are so much better than Cissy's brat!"

 

Harry swallowed. If Lutain had been awake, he would at least have some sort of leverage--

 

"Oh!" The woman gasped, leaning back and looking like she'd just realised something. There was an almost terrifying and giddy eagerness in her eyes. "I'm Bella! You're my new brat!"

 

" What ?" Harry hissed. Belatedly he realised he'd been speaking in Parseltongue. "Your new brat ?"

 

The woman, Bella, gave him an over exaggerated pout. "Well Cissy has one. Why can't I?"

 

Harry was stunned. Was she serious?

 

"The brat is for the Lord."

 

At once, Bella snatched Harry back and pulled him closer. "Well he's not here now," Bella whined. She grinned manically at Harry. "You want to stay here! We'll have fun!"

 

"I-I don't..." Harry started.

 

"I get to teach you all those fun things! I get to teach you spells and how to fight and--" She gasped, suddenly buzzing with excitement again. "And curses!"

 

Curses? He had to admit, he was very interested, but... There was something about this woman that set him off, something about the two men too. He tried to recall the names of the people his parents warned him about when he was a child. "What's your full name?"

 

"Bella! Bellatrix Lestrange!" She giggled, running one of her black-painted fingernails through Harry's messy hair. "Can I name you Septimus?"

 

"What--" Harry started, for a moment his thoughts distracted from trying to remember by Bella's question. "No! I have a name!"

 

"He's a Potter, the other twin," the thin man said. "The one his family--"

 

"They are not my family!" Harry snarled angrily, temporarily forgetting just how precarious his position was.

 

"You were in an orphanage! I adopted you! You're mine! Done!" Bellatrix said, her expression gleeful as she settled back on her heels under her long, poofy black dress. "You'll live here!"

 

Harry stopped as the full situation set in. Bellatrix Lestrange... Bellatrix Lestrange ... The name was so familiar. And then it hit him. She was related to Sirius, a cousin or something. He'd only ever spoken about her with disdain, never saying a good thing about the "deranged Lestrange."

 

But then... she was actually showing him a tremendous amount of affection and she actually wanted him…

 

That was new. Harry hadn't ever been wanted before.

 

"I'll keep you safe," she cooed, pressing his head against her chest where beneath the corset and frills, a loud rhythmic heartbeat thumped in time to the almost clawed hand stroking through his hair. "I'll give you all you want and I can teach you things and you will be so powerful !"

 

It actually sounded heartfelt to Harry, almost as if she really did want a child.

 

'No,' his mind whispered. 'She wants you.'

 

But Sirius had never had anything good to say about her! Harry was pretty sure that she was a Death Eater! There were so many reasons why he should do his level best just to get away from this manic madwoman, but those arguments were increasingly meaningless when measured against the fact that she actually wanted him.

 

“Stay with me,” she spoke, her voice enthralling Harry into a growing sense of contentment, “I’ll be what you never had.”

 

Harry liked the sound of that.


 

 

Harry was hurriedly escorted into another room by Rabastan, the taller of the two men from before, he was pushed relatively gently through the large doors before they closed softly behind him.

 

The room that Harry now found himself in was large and empty except the large fireplace and a short squat man in the corner who curled in on himself. The man had a face that reminded Harry of Piers.

 

There was a tall, high-backed chair in the middle of the room, facing a low green fireplace directly across the room.

 

Harry shifted his weight, incredibly uncomfortable without the muscular chill of Lutain under his clothing.

 

He felt something stir, something deep in the crevice of his mind which leant his body comfort. He relaxed, rather against his will as something clicked and felt so abnormally right about being in the room.

 

It scared him, as much as he loathed to admit it.

 

" I smell prey. " A distinctly feminine voice whispered, a low lilt similar to the python he'd released by accident lifetimes ago. There was a soft shuffling noise, the familiar sound of scales sliding over carpet, and from in front of the fireplace the largest snake Harry had ever seen peered around and looked at him with eyes that seemed to glow.

 

" A hatchling, large hatchling. " She huffed, looking put out at the realization, " Hard to eat. "

 

The man in the corner whimpered quietly, shifting and looking almost terrified.

 

"Why were you brought here?" The voice was raspy and somehow at the same time high-pitched. It sent a shiver of fear down Harry's spine. He swallowed and somehow, inexplicably, he knew.

 

This was Voldemort.

 

Harry didn't know what to do. He felt like he wanted to cry.

 

" Let me eat him, " the large snake hissed.

 

"Why," Voldemort- it had to be him- demanded again. "Why were you brought before me?"

 

Harry fidgeted under the unwavering stare of the huge snake, which watched his every move. Lutain's words came back to him once again. " Make yourself necessary. "

 

Harry straightened, taking a calming breath and forcing away his terror. He knew what to say.

 

" My name is Harry Potter and you have beautiful scales. " Harry knew Lutain was always pleased with compliments about his hunting prowess. " Your eyes must scare prey so well. "

 

The snake reared back so suddenly and unexpectedly, it almost looked like she was going to strike. She raised herself up, towering high, coming almost to Harry's shoulder. She tasted the air repeatedly, as though trying to decide what this new development meant.

 

"Harry Potter..." Voldemort drawled, drawing the words out. "And you speak Parseltongue. Fascinating."

 

" You are not prey, " the snake decided, lowering herself and sliding towards Harry. She tasted the air again curiously. " You speak. Do you know others that speak? "

 

" I have a close friend. His scales are dark and his strike is quick, " Harry offered, feeling more comfortable with every passing moment.

 

The snake seemed pleased and turned to slither back towards the fireplace, where it was warm.

 

"Harry Potter," Voldemort hissed again. And now his voice held something different. It sounded almost like he was laughing. "The Boy-Who-Lived."

 

"N-no," Harry blurted out, this time in English. He took a few unconscious steps forward, his mind screaming at him the whole time to get away. "That's-- that's Skylar."

 

"Do you not think," Voldemort started, his voice cold and hateful, sending another shiver down Harry's spine. "That I know which child I struck?"

 

Harry felt a weight settle on his shoulders.

 

"Skylar is--"

 

"No," Voldemort laughed. Harry had no idea just what was so funny. "The old fool...he is wrong."

Dumbledore was wrong.

 

Skylar wasn't special. Skylar had never been special to begin with.

 

Harry never had to be- He couldn’t wrap his mind around the concept. Lily and James were wrong, everyone was wrong.

 

The man in the corner seemed to have found his backbone. He sneered and somehow found the situation amusing as well. He chortled out a series of nasally giggles that were more irritating than Harry would have ever expected.

 

Harry had been thrown away-- and he was the one that should've been protected!

 

Suddenly, Harry felt overcome by a wave of indescribable rage. Depression, anger, and potent self-loathing washed over him and, as the short, balding man continued his irritating laughter at Harry's misfortune, Harry wanted someone to hurt .

 

Harry watched, almost outside of his own body, as the balding man stopped laughing and gasped. His eyes bulged. He fell to the floor, his entire body twitching, wracked with spasms. He took great gasping breaths, but he couldn't scream, couldn't make a sound.

 

Dumbledore had been wrong, Harry’s life had been a lie.

 

The room filled with high-pitched laughter, breaking Harry's concentration. Harry blinked, the buzzing in his ears ended and the now whimpering man on the floor let out a relieved breath. Harry realised that he'd done that. He'd been angry and he wanted to hurt someone.

 

"So much potential," Voldemort mused. A small, skeletal hand tapped slowly on the armrest and Harry now wondered why Voldemort hadn't risen to face him. Something about that hand just looked wrong…

 

" Nagini, I-- " Voldemort stopped, suddenly. "Boy!"

 

Harry jolted, panic rising once again.

 

Then something exploded in his head and Harry dropped to the ground clutching his forehead with both hands. There was something moving through his mind, bringing searing pain before it shifted suddenly, becoming calming and relaxing, soothing like rain on scalding skin. Harry blinked dazed, feeling tears running down his face.

 

The large snake now identified as Nagini was very close to Harry's face, peering down at him intently.

 

" Nagini, fetch Bellatrix. She may show our new... guest around his new estate. "

 

Harry mused distantly, how the large snake was going to communicate with the witch.

 

" Den-mate! " Nagini hissed pleased, sliding over towards the door and pushing it with her blunt snout. “Hatchling! Teach to strike, teach to hunt!”

 

The balding man was still twitching on the floor, leaving Harry alone with the creature in the chair.

 

Somehow, the part of him that had felt relaxed suddenly made sense. Harry couldn’t explain it, but there was a part of Voldemort that felt so soothing and it whispered sweet nothings that it was right to be here.

 

His mind was stagnant with turmoil. Skylar was destined to be the Chosen Boy. Skylar was the one prophesized.

 

It had never been Harry. It had never been Harry.

 

The epiphany finally sunk into the recesses of Harry’s mind- the full ramifications of the information striking him in a single clear moment.


He made the rat faced man beg for mercy.

Chapter Text

Adrian Selwyn woke up to soft light drifting through his window over his sheets and his face, as well as the sound of something outside exploding.

The boy rolled his eyes, groaning against the light although he rose. The sheets were pushed back and he slid out of the bed with little resistance. The aged floorboards creaked slightly under his feet.

“Not morning. Still rest,” Lutain argued quietly, still coiled on his magically heated stone near the wardrobe.

“For you. I’m not that lucky,” Adrian corrected, yawning while opening the large wardrobe to select the outfit for the day.

Adrian Lestrange, his name practically a nickname to the actual legal name registered with the ministry : Hadrianus Selwyn, a name that evidently had some sort of latin prefix and suffix root word meaning he wasn't aware of. He didn’t care. The name was similar enough to Harry that it wouldn’t be questioned if any mistakes happened.

There was a sense of... relief, that accompanied his name changing legally and secretly in the ministry of magic archive. He was… he wasn’t part of the Potters anymore ; he was completely separated.

And then Bella dragged him out of bed months ago in the middle of the night, nearly having Lutain bite her if not for Nagini arriving and hissing something to the small lethal serpent.

Adrian, still practically asleep, hadn’t understood what was going on. He flailed, shouted, and set fire to a few things (which Bella found absolutely adorable, the sadist she was).

When he came to after being stunned, he was given a potion and a ritual knife he was apparently supposed to drag across his palm.

Adrian hadn’t quite understood but, somehow through the loud rambles and Bella’s excited squeals, he had managed to grasp the basics that it was some sort of blood adoption-- something to physically alter his features. Adrian was aware he looked identical to his renowned father. It was inconvenient. The blood adoption was supposed to change that.

Adrian knew that he was useful ; they wouldn’t outright kill him. He was important, or necessary for plans he hadn’t quite understood yet. So he did what was expected, and drank whatever concoction Bella had given him.

It was certainly strange, Adrian thought later, that he possessed absolutely no physical features of either of the Lestranges after the ritual was over. His features were delicate. He had high, aristocratic cheekbones. His eyes were large and framed with dark, medium lashes, and he had a thin nose and sharp jaw. His hair was straight with an almost blueish hue in bright lighting.

Bellatrix had apparently been stunned and nearly obsessive when Adrian had returned from the blood adoption ritual. It wasn’t until Nagini had commented on his hair that it clicked just who had adopted him.

Adrian wretched himself sick.

That was the night when Harry James Potter became Hadrianus “Adrian” Selwyn.


 

Can I have a mouse? Lutain yawned, jarring Adrian’s attention back to the here and now. The little snake unhinged his jaw with a snap of cartilage.

“Maybe,” Harry mused, watching as Lutain’s tongue flickered in understanding. He had been working on teaching Lutain English, it was useful for spying on others.

Harry grabbed a change of clothing, sliding into the shirt and trousers.

He heard another crash from outside, causing him to peer out grudgingly.

Well, nothing was broken, or on fire.

Master, time to go? Lutain asked, rising and wavering in the air. Adrian turned, reaching down with his left arm where Lutain coiled loosely around the wrist and pulled himself up his arm up towards Adrian’s shoulders.

The two descended the large although poorly maintained stairs, sliding around the loose railing to pad towards the kitchen where platters of food had already been prepared, courtesy of the house elf.

Rodolphus, seated at the nearby table, didn’t bother to look up when Adrian kicked out a nearby chair and dropped into it.

“We have business.” Rodolphus muttered, not looking up from his paper. Instead he flipped through it, reading intently a section Adrian had not the patience or interest to care about.

“Don’t you always?” Adrian muttered under his breath, glancing under his darkened straight bangs, noticing the slight quirk of the elder man’s mouth.

“That we do,” He agreed without showing actual interest. “Bella’s out with someone from the ministry.”

“Torturing?” Adrian guessed dryly, poking at the now mangled contents of his breakfast. Rodolphus neither confirmed nor denied it. It was a rhetorical question anyway.

With his eleventh birthday only a few weeks away, Adrian Selwyn was getting used to the new dynamic of his house. Although archaic and ghastly with few, if any, morals, it was immeasurably better than the tainted memories of the orphanage or the Dursleys.

At first it had horrified him and made him sick to his stomach, made him lock himself away from the rest of the people who lived here. No amount of coaxing or cooing from Bellatrix could convince him to open the enchanted door.

It had taken a week and the only reason he left was the house elf’s inability to bring a mouse alongside his meals. Lutain was ravenous . Bellatrix had made a peace offering of a living chipmunk.

Bellatrix was eccentric and sickeningly cruel, but sometimes, randomly, she could be so affectionate and agreeable that it was... comforting . In her own way, she was endearing and each compliment she managed to casually give made Adrian warm up to her just a little bit more.

Your eyes are like the killing curse. They’re amazing.

Minor things continuously managed to leave Adrian unsure, wavering and internally conflicted on how he should feel. After a year, he stopped caring. After a year, he started liking it.

Bellatrix was probably insane, she was a terrible mother (heaven forbid Adrian ever think of her as his actual mother), but she was so much better . “Hello!” Bellatrix exclaimed, throwing the door open hard enough to crack into the plaster on the opposite side of the hinges. Adrian didn’t look up, the sound was quite common.

Bellatrix moved over to the food platters, giggling to herself as she mangled pancakes between her fingers.

“You have a mission?” Adrian asked, not bothering to look behind him. She drifted over to the table. She was wearing an outfit that at one point must have been fairly expensive. Now though it was stained with blood and torn in places, exposing the pale skin in some places.

“Yes!” She hissed out with delight, her eyes lighting up with manic glee that he had come to associate with her. Adrian barely blinked at it. “ He has a task for us!”

Which honestly wasn’t unexpected at this point.

“Anything new?” Adrian asked quietly, spearing a bit of fruit a lot more forcefully than necessary using his fork.  

Adrian had learned of his own task. Bubbling through his blood and seared into his mind with the branding imprint of scales and rhythmic pulsating of ‘Dumbledore... Dumbledore... Dumbledore... His mission was quite obvious and easy to interpret: he was to spy on Dumbledore and not get caught.

Easier said than done, Adrian thought.

“I have this new curse,” Bellatrix gushed, flopping into a nearby chair and twisting her features into an unhinged grin.

Adrian grimaced and absentmindedly rubbed his upper left arm, where a thin white scar had been ingrained in his skin. Bellatrix noticed the movement and pouted as only she could, crossing her arms disappointed. “That was an accident!

“It was fully intentional and you know that,” Adrian snapped back. Bellatrix wavered before grudgingly agreeing.

Rodolphus rolled his eyes, well-used to the almost psychotic interactions of his unstable ‘family.’

“Why don’t you take the boy to get a new book of curses,” Rodolphus sighed, finally glancing up with disguised amusement. “Merlin knows he’ll learn more than whatever you teach him.”

Bellatrix continued to pout, plucked a toast soldier from Adrian’s plate and ate it obnoxiously.

It was true, Adrian did enjoy books. It hadn’t also taken long for Rodolphus and Bellatrix to realize just how fascinated he was with magical creatures. Rabastan came to visit with a runespoor one day. It made terrible conversation -- its multiple heads kept arguing with each other -- but it also kept Adrian’s attention.

New book?” Lutain hissed interestedly, peering out from under Adrian’s clothing to slither lazily across the table. “ More rats?

“Is there a store for rats?” Adrian sighed, stroking one finger down Lutain’s dark back.

“Magical Menagerie in Diagon Alley,” Rodolphus drawled, “Varmint and Underden in Knockturn.”

Adrian gave a short nod, looking at Bellatrix who hummed and tapped her chin dramatically with one black tipped manicured nail. “Ooh, I could go to Knockturn.”

“Good, then we’re going,” Adrian announced, standing upright and holding one arm out. “Lutain?”

Bellatrix’s face split with an infectious smile as it always did when he spoke Parseltongue. Lutain obliged, sliding upwards and around his forearm under his shirt sleeve.

“Set up an account with Underden, they’ll send you things on schedule to Hogwarts,” Rodolphus grunted, looking like he may say more before falling silent and saying nothing else.

Adrian didn’t mind, he could figure it out on his own.


 

Diagon Alley was crowded with students already shopping for goods before the list for Hogwarts was even sent out. Children, only slightly older or younger than himself, bustled about with their wizarding parents, urging at them to get a wand before the muggleborn rush. Adrian had already gotten his months before, holly and phoenix feather.

He had also invested in a bird for messages, something faster and stronger than the everyday owl. A gyrfalcon, a beautiful white bird with markings like a snowy owl. Her eyes were golden and intelligent. Adrian named her Hedwig.

Hedwig had already proven her worth ; she had claimed the highest nest of the Lestrange owelry. She ate mice and sometimes hunted extra for Lutain.

“Alright, Adrian, I’ll be in Knockturn. You know what to do,” Bellatrix spoke under her breath with a hushed voice. Bellatrix gave him a manic grin, her eyes lighting up, as she passed along a bulging coin purse. Although not pinned down by the ministry, it was common knowledge that she was a strong follower of the Dark. Along with her husband and brother-in-law, Bellatrix tended to avoid places like Diagon Alley and the ministry regulations that came with them.

“Follow the smoke,” Adrian said dryly, arching one eyebrow as Bellatrix giggled. She pulled her hood down lower and slunk off in the direction of the poorly-lit Knockturn Alley.

Adrian could get most of his Hogwarts shopping done now. He turned sharply, eying most of the stores along the strip and only sidestepping when a bustling family tried to force their way past. He was fairly certain that he already owned the necessary books for first year, although possibly not, given the fact the Defense Against the Dark Art’s position was ‘cursed.’

(Bellatrix had laughed openly while telling him the story.)

Although, Adrian could use another trunk, the one he had owned was, according to his understanding, buried under ash and remnants of a collapsed building.

Mice! Lutain hissed, writhing excitedly towards the depths of Knockturn alley, undoubtedly ravenous for anything he could get.

Adrian sighed, glancing once more down the busy streets of Diagon before smoothly turning and walking into the much darker alleyways of Knockturn.

Lutain slithered out, finding his place of comfort around Adrian’s neck. His presence proved intimidating and almost immediately several old hags with greedy looks backed away frightened. Lutain’s sharp fangs and loud hiss deterred most creatures.

Adrian absentmindedly ducked under one side stall advertising loudly about what looked like engraved skulls-- a few even looked human.

I want to check the bookstore,” Adrian hissed lowly, the action didn't seem that strange with the collection of vampires in the area. “Would you like to get the mice first?

After,” Lutain decided, flicking his tongue curiously. “Mice make me slow.

It was true, Lutain tended to lapse into a near comatose though happy state of mind after a large meal.

Adrian turned the corner, walking past a loud pub called the White Wyvern and then past an archaic barber shop. A tall imposing store with cobweb-filled windows rested on the corner, large enough to stand out in the tightly packed Alley.

Cobb and Webb’s was a large ambiguous store, selling books as well as other fascinating objects. Its book selection was vast and impressive, drawing Adrian’s attention as it had on his first introduction to Knockturn Alley and multiple times after.

The storekeeper was an old man with pupiless white eyes, though that didn’t inhibit his ability to see. He had a large smile, mouth extending a centimeter past the limits of a normal grin. Adrian did not know what sort of creature he was, nor did he particularly care.

Adrian was not alone in the store. He walked straight towards the bookshelves and past an uncomfortable older boy a few years Adrian’s senior. The boy jumped, looking around paranoid before quickly returning to the book he had plucked from the shelf. Adrian could only assume that it was something most others would call illegal.

Adrian walked past, his shoes still gave the small clicking noise despite having been bought several years past. The sound was loud and quickly drew the older boy’s paranoid eyes once again.

The bookshelf Adrian had visited before left him with a thick tome, a list of various spells although all were fairly neutral and unspecialized. Bellatrix had gotten him more books since then, casually filled with darker hexes and curses then anything Adrian would buy on his own.

He smiled at the shelf, recognizing the small cracks in the wood and the distinct prock marks he remembered. The shelf wasn't restocked, most of the books weren't purchased from a publisher to begin with. Most likely they were donated or sold from pure blood families, Adrian suspected there wasn't a single duplicate in the store.

Master! Lutain suddenly urged, poking up and out of his sleeve. His tongue flickered wildly, tasting the air hungrily. “I smell a rat.

Without any further cue Adrian lowered his arm and enabled Lutain to drop freely to the ground in pursuit of the vermin.

Adrian had been flipping through the pages of an interesting book on mind magics, when he heard a loud shout. Undoubtedly Lutain had scared the teenager who had been browsing a few rows over.

Adrian sighed, snapping his book shut in annoyance while he stomped towards the ruckus. Lutain was indeed scaring the teenager from earlier, putting on a dramatic show of hisses and tight coils.

The sadist was even laughing at how terrified the boy was, though only Adrian could understand it.

“Lutain,” Adrian bit out, looking thoroughly frustrated as the teenager’s head snapped in his direction. “Stop it. Find the rat or come here.”

Lutain understood the gist of it, thankfully due to Adrian’s tedious English lessons. Lutain returned to a low coil before he slithered out of sight. The teenager glared pointedly at Adrian, assuming that it was his fault the entire encounter happened.

“Lutain does what he wants,” Adrian explained bluntly, the older boy sniffing annoyed.

“Well bloody banish the thing,” he grumbled, trying to retain his composure, “Merlin knows how you conjured that with the trace-- what are you, twelve?”

“Lutain is my familiar.” Adrian’s expression became slightly more standoffish. He didn't see a reason to correct this boy on his age.

“Oh? A familiar, eh?” The teenager said, perking up. He looked considering, before giving a rather wolfish grin. “You smuggle that into Hogwarts then?”

Adrian only blinked slowly.

“Tell you what,” the teenager lowered to the floor, suddenly looking much more casual and comfortable given the situation. “That snake of yours could be useful. You too if you're venturing around here, given how young you are.”

“It’s not dangerous if you know what to do,” Adrian cautioned, causing the boy to chuckle.

“True, the names Calum MacTuer. It could be useful to have someone helping with the goods, a uh, an incentive ,” said the teenager. The boy winked conspiratorially.

“You sell things at Hogwarts?” Adrian guessed. He was interested.

“Got it in one, mate, although some buyers don't want to cough up the coin.”

“You want Lutain to make sure they pay,” Adrian mused, his mind starting to understand the situation he was in. The fence of Hogwarts? It was terribly convenient to have contacts for stolen objects or potion ingredients.

“Hadrianus Selwyn,” Adrian introduced. “Incoming first year.”

First year? Merlin that works out great,” Calum’s eyes were practically glowing with enthusiasm, though he was uncertain about something. “Hey, you related to those eh, that Selwyn family?”

“No,” Adrian said simply. “It's a common surname.”

Calum relaxed instantly, “good to know. Information is worth coin and coin makes you useful if you spend it right.”

You're rather dull, aren't you? Adrian thought to himself, he’d give this Calum a few years after graduating before being arrested by the Aurors.

“Here.” Calum struggled with his bag, Adrian was suddenly suspicious he was planning on stealing all the books anyways, and passed over a decently slim book. “That’s all spells for business and trades. Good stuff there, mate.”

Calum winked again. Did the teenager genuinely believe he ran some sort of...Hogwarts black market ?

“I’ll be in touch,” Calum gave an intrusive pat on Adrian’s shoulder, before rising and waltzing out of the library section, suddenly much more paranoid while walking towards the front of the store.

The rat was the human,” Lutain hissed, peering out from under the shelf.

Calum was the rat? Adrian blinked, glancing at his friend surprised. “Like Pettigrew?

Lutain gave a low hiss of agreement, sliding under the shelves stealthily.

Calum was an Animagus. Wasn't that interesting…? Adrian doubted anyone knew that about the boy, given his profession. Being an Animagus did seem to be a useful ability...

Lutain,” Adrian hissed under his breath. “Come on.”

Adrian turned and quickly walked around the around the rows of shelves, glancing down the aisles to try and find the tomes on wandless magic. He found them mixed with books on toxicology and natural poisons. Say what you would about Flourish and Blotts, they knew how to organise; while the selection in here was fantastic for the more… esoteric subjects, the organisation left a lot to be desired.

There were three books on the Animagus transformation. Adrian knew he didn't have enough gold on him at the time to actually purchase all of them, as well as what he’d come for and the book Calum gave him. He pulled out the cheapest of the three, before returning to the section he’d come from. He pulled a single, slim volume from the shelf.  The name of which had been ingrained into his mind with airy high pitch sounds which left him shaking.

Occlumency.

“Let’s get started.”

Chapter Text

The streets of Knockturn Alley were indeed something startling. Humanoid creatures waked past with long lumbering steps, pausing only to hiss loudly in his direction. One humanoid creature made a chuffing noise, before reaching into its mouth and pulling out a living blackbird. Another woman grinned in his direction, her eyes rolling around in her head before falling out of the sockets dramatically.

Adrain was almost certain that the occupants were trying to scare him. When one vampire slid against him- its stone cold skin touching his own, it inhaled deeply and made a sort of feline purring noise deep in his throat.

Adrian was ever so thankful for having Lutain so close to him.

When Lutain pulled, jerking away from Adrian’s skin towards a series of steps leading down another path, Adrian couldn’t resist. Lutain was his security; if his friend wanted to go a specific way or venture off the trail he wouldn’t argue.

Lutain wavered, wriggling in the air in a lethargic daze. His eyes had clouded and his tongue limply hung from his jaws like a dog.

“Lutain?” Adrian hushed, alarmed by the state of his friend. “ Lutain?

He heard it then: a melodic trilling noise. It was foreign and captivating, every instinct in his blood was pulsing and screaming ‘ wrong wrong wrong!

Adrian stepped further into the open against his better judgement.

The sound abruptly ended, ringing hollowly and emptily in the silence. Lutain reeled back, gaining composure whilst a creature in an archaic fountain recoiled in surprise.

She (If Adrain could trust the body shape and long hair) was young but still years older than Adrian, closer to Calum in age, but just foreign enough that Adrian wasn’t quite sure. Her skin was pale and she had dark hair, separated into long wet strands either from the fountain or biological oil. She blinked rapidly with bulbous, round eyes. She had a speckling of what looked like a sort of disease around her exposed collarbone, shimmering like scales (Adrian felt uncomfortable when he realized they most likely were scales).

The sound,” Lutain hissed, tail thrashing in annoyance. “You stopped.”

The creature blinked, pulling back and slinking below the fountain rim hesitantly, “I regret, Sharptail.”

Adrian blinked, and took a half step backwards. The rusting iron of the fountain, alongside the dripping water looked suspiciously like blood over the edge of the rim.

“You understood him?” Adrian asked cautiously. The creature tilted her head, her ears were humanoid.

Adrian’s mind bubbled in fascination at such a magical creature.

“You do,” She pointed out, voice lilting and somehow chirping like a bird, although still guttural and awkward. “You reek dark.”

Adrian swallowed, taking a step forward once he spotted what looked like a green fin just below the surface.

What creature? Lutain hissed, peering up and scenting the air, “You scent of strange.”

You smell sour,” The woman (was it a woman) retorted, scowling at Adran. “You smell foul. Torn, ripped and shoved into something which you are not.”

Adrian frowned, his hand started to slide towards his wand.

The creature pulled one smooth arm over the edge of the fountain, dirtying the pale skin with rust. Its nails shimmered and reflected like opals, webbing between the digits at the base.

You speak venom! Lutain hissed, infuriated by the apparent insult. “How dare!

“Not dare. Not insult. How peculiar,” the creature warbled. It tilted its beautiful yet unsettling head. “How peculiar. You smell of human child, you are but you are more.”

“You’re obviously not human. Not a Grindylow, or a Siren. Or a Banshee half-blood,” Adrian noted, trying to work out what she was by eliminating what she wasn’t from a list of things he knew about, information he had long thought useless. He was at a loss, Adrian admitted to himself after a long moment.

“I am Carpatha,” the woman trilled, voice somehow resembling a lark’s teeter. Was that her name or her species, Adrian wondered. She grinned at him, teeth perhaps just a bit more pointed. “I am a Merrow. My kin are far, in warmer waters. I like these waters. I don’t often get visitors.”

You’re in a bowl, Lutain noted, seeming fascinated with the Merrow. “How do you flee?

Carpatha blinked, perhaps surprised by Lutain’s question. “I walk.”

Adrian couldn’t help but glance back at what he’d thought was a fin before. “You walk?”

The Merrow grinned at him and seemed fascinated. She blinked slowly and for a moment looked far too intelligent for Adrian’s comfort. “I can walk. I speak to everything. Everything speaks to me .”

“Merrow are rare. Why hasn’t anyone killed you yet?” Adrian felt his fingers close around his wand, a comforting weight in his hand. “I hear your tails are very, very rare.”

She laughed, a soothing noise that relaxed Adrian against his will. Then she barked, a strange warbling noise that somehow compelled a nearby crow to swoop and hop onto the fountain near her back.

“Cra!” she cooed, pointing a finger at the crow. “Cra is my eyes, he is my bite.

She hissed, a thin spine rising from where it had been lying flat on her back. He suddenly felt very very wary for Lutain.

“We’ll see you again,” Adrian said nodding, turning and starting to walk away.

“You reek!” She called after him. Adrian heard a wet sloshing noise, but he didn’t turn to see what the Merrow was doing. “You carry something festering!”

She laughed, Adrian wished he could find it in him to think the sound was ugly.


 

Bellatrix tossed a small coin purse of galleons at Adrian the moment a tawny brown owl fluttered into the estate with a sealed envelope addressed to Mr. Hadrianus Selwyn-Riddle.

Adrian froze in horror at the name. Bella only huffed, and with one spell and her wand she crossed out the last portion of his surname. Accordingly, she assured it would be removed from the rolls at Hogwarts.

Adrian was relieved, a part of him was almost ecstatic that the adoption had happened. The name was proof enough.

He used the floo to go to Diagon Alley in a black cloak and dark green robes. Lutain was curled around his throat, lazily sprawled without actually showing any signs of threat.

The streets were absolutely filled.

Adrian grimaced. Families bustled about, frustrated parents trying to get everything on their children’s school lists, while their children ran too and fro, shouting loudly about the latest broomsticks or smart-eyed owls or one of any number of other things.

Flourish and Blotts was raking in the gold, having a monopoly on the necessary supplies, and they knew it. Adrian double-checked his list of books and groaned slightly. He’d already read books with similar difficulty levels ages ago.

Frowning, Adrian picked up his books, joining a long queue of parents waiting to pay. When he was (finally) done, he moved to a shop that specialized in trunks, just off the center path of Diagon alley. Despite owning a decent amount of possessions, Adrian didn't actually have a good trunk.

The shop was suffering from a sale, though it seemed most new wizards didn't venture away from the main strip. The shopkeeper was eager to meet Adrian, not blinking or commenting on Lutain.

Adrian settled on a trunk that was entirely black though otherwise unremarkable, which still managed to be attention-grabbing in its own way. The trunk had multiple interchangeable compartments, built in wards to protect from fires or thieves and it was password protected to open a smaller, private compartment. It was purchased for a moderate sum.

Adrian felt that parsletongue (which was a nearly extinct ability) was the safest password he knew.

The shopkeeper directed Adrian to another shop, a workshop run by one of the man’s relatives which specialised in other containers or miscellaneous objects with other enchantments and charms. Lutain was thrilled at the small engraved crate which opened to a larger heated area for basking and sleeping.

Lutain was in a positively thrilled mood and Adrian was feeling light hearted, weaving through the crowd while his friend rambled on about his favorite conversations with Nagini. Adrian managed to wriggle through a group of excited children (his classmates, he realized with a sigh) into Magical Menagerie.

He could see cages filled with cats and kneezles, hounds and designer dogs. Bright parrots flew overhead to roost on ledges and stands. Falcons and eagles sat on decorative branches while giant spiders skittered about in wood shavings.

Lutain instantly perked up and glanced around the store, eyes moving to spot the dozing mice and rats behind glass cages.

Adrian flinched when he saw an absolutely miserable snake curl in on itself tightly in one overly humid enclosure.

He walked over to it, touching the glass with resentment. The snake-- a thick mass of muscle with an almost adorable sudden short tail, looked at him, its every movement screaming exhaustion.

“What ails you, bright-eyes?” Lutain hissed, peering through the glass.

The snake on the other side began to unravel, tilting its head confused at its new conversation.

I am of sand, not wet and cold, it grunted, voice somehow feminine although layered with something muffled and sick.

“Ah! Interested in our new python!” An employee made his way over towards Adrian, looking slightly harried by the sheer volume of shoppers but still trying to present that cheerful, helpful look of underpaid employees everywhere.

“It’s a viper,” Adrian said bluntly. He scowled. “Not a python.”

The attendant blinked in surprise.

“You should probably move her. She’ll get sick in humidity,” Adrian noted, frowning at the full body tremor down its scales.

“Look I- I’m sorry, lad,” the man apologized, “But our shop policy says we can’t take out any dangerous animal during open hours. Besides, I doubt you actually know what kind of snake that is--”

Lutain chose that moment to hiss loudly and stare directly at the man in the eye.

Adrian forced a fairly pleasant expression, ignoring the man’s sudden pallor, the nervous widening of his eyes. “ Fine . Of course, how would someone like myself ever know anything about snakes? My apologies. Incidentally, I do need a few mice. Maybe a regular schedule for shipping if your shop is setup for such a thing.” Adrian paused, feigned being lost in thought. “given that it is distinctly a snake thing, I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t.”

Adrian should not have been as satisfied as he was with purchasing two white mice.

He nearly laughed when Lutain managed to scarf one down on the checkout counter in front of the already nervous cashier.

The bright flash of blond hair had Adrian moving before he could think. Lutain was confused, he tightened his hold as best he could as Adrian moved quickly.

Master, what--

Hush Lutain.

Adrian pulled out from the crowd the moment he saw the elder man walk away into the goblin bank. The man’s wife separated exchanging terse words, before leaving their son outside the steps looked thoroughly miffed although still proud.

Adrian smiled, then stepped out directly in front of the boy.

Instantly Draco Malfoy’s eyes snapped to his.

“Draco Malfoy,” Adrian addressed, giving a slight bow while his eyes appraised the boy across from him, “a pleasure to meet you in the flesh.”

Draco’s nose lifted and he sniffed in disdain.

“Of course, I’ll be seeing you much more,” Adrian calmly assured. “In Slytherin preferably.”

“So you agree Slytherin is the best house.” Draco’s eyes gleamed, curious and flinty at the same time. His voice didn't leave room to actually answer the rhetorical question. “I don't think I am aware of your house. Perhaps your head of house works alongside my father?”

Adrian had expected the question and had prepared accordingly.

“My name is Hadrianus Selwyn, Adrian for short.” He clarified at Draco’s interested glance, “I am not related to the pureblood house Selwyn of native Britain. I come from an alternate pureblood house. Instead of offering information regarding my house, I instead offer my services.”

Draco blinked.

“There are multiple actions a pureblood heir may not be able to participate in while under heavy scrutiny.” Adrian lowered his voice and leant forward politely, “especially within the walls of Hogwarts with such a noble name as your own.”

Draco looked stunned and rather at a loss for what to say. In the pause where Draco quickly composed a response, a loud angry shout echoed over the bustle of Diagon Alley.

The two jerked around and spotted a fuming boy storming out from Ollivanders. Draco instantly began laughing. Adrian looked further-- the boy had dark brown hair, almost reddish in the afternoon light. He was taller than Adrian, broader with the slight pudge of baby fat still clinging around his jaw.

Adrian noticed his eyes and felt like he had been hit with one of Bella’s curses.

“Wonder what got Potter in a riot,” Draco sneered, almost forgetting Adrian was nearby. The latter stared, dazed, and made a low keening noise as someone with red hair hurried to catch up to the boy.

Skylar Potter. And their-- Skylar’s mother.

“Maybe they didn’t have the wand he wanted.” Adrian’s voice sounded hollow and breathless to his own ears. Draco said something in return, but Adrian didn’t hear. The alley was suddenly so loud, yet he wasn’t able to actually decipher a single word in the chaos.

He saw Lily manage to meet up with Skylar. Her brow was furrowed in the way it only ever did when she was saying something to comfort hi-- Skylar.

Lily leant down and pulled Skylar into a hug.

Adrian twitched and blinked slowly at the hand which had rather forcefully jabbed into his side.

“Oh, so you’re back now?” Draco sneered, looking frustrated and annoyed with Adrian.

Lutain chose that moment to appear, poking his head out from Adrian’s collar and tasting the air with the slowness only his digestion ever really inspired.

Adrian gave an almost arrogant nod and stalked off. If everything worked out as he anticipated it, Adrian would have his name spread relatively quickly. Once he was known, he could remove Calum and secure his necessity in Hogwarts. Then, Adrian could move up through Hogwarts, surpass him in every way, and demand respect. Everything would work.

This time, he would be the victor.

(History was always written by the victors.)

Chapter Text

The Hogwarts Express was simultaneously exciting and disappointment.

Some part of Adrian wished for something... more . He didn’t know what he had expected in retrospect. It was a large train, ample room for movement and more compartments on the inside than it should’ve had. He’d managed to claim a large empty compartment for himself. The train was magical in how quickly it flew across the countryside; the view outside the windows was just a blur of greys and greens and browns. Adrain was almost positive the amount of rail didn’t actually exist in the eyes of muggles.

Still, something about it just felt... lacking though.

Twenty minutes into the long trip, his compartment door slid open and he was met with the familiar face of Calum.

“Harry!” The older boy cheered, causing Adrian to freeze entirely.

How did this--

“You don’t mind if I call you Harry, do ya?” The boy grinned larger. “Much easier to remember than that Hadrianian mouthful.”

“Adrian,” he corrected with forced laziness, eying the boy critically. “Did you learn those curses you were looking at?”

Calum’s cheerful expression fell very quickly into something serious. He casually pulled out his wand -- a light brown wood -- and set it on the table between them. “Don’t mess with me, Adrian.”

Adrian in turn pulled out his own wand, concealed in an arm holster like Calum’s own. The other boy’s eyebrows rose in surprise at the holster, but seemed to take the sight of both wands on the table as a peace offering.

“Nice wand you got there,” Calum noted, eyes filled with what Adrian now suspected was kleptomania.  The older boy’s fingers were twitching noticeably. “Birch? No wait-- Hemlock?”

Calum guessed correctly.

Adrian had long since purchased an additional wand to his phoenix and holly. Apparently, his preferred wand was something of a ‘sister core’ and would one day be wanted by Dumbledore. Because of that, he’d been forced to get another wand: hemlock and dragon heartstring. It wasn’t his first choice, but it would work well enough.

“Interesting thing, hemlock. I didn’t think they sold that in Ollivanders.” Calum grinned, obviously thinking he had somehow pinned down Adrian with his knowledge.

“They don’t,” Adrian openly admitted. “You also can’t buy the majority of the books that you own in Diagon Alley.”

Calum swallowed.

“You’re in Ravenclaw,” Adrian confirmed, leaning forward and linking his fingers together. How convenient it was to have sources able to look into the Ministry Archives for him. Adrian’s smile grew. “You are rather studious. I assume you know plenty of things. Actually, I think you know things that are rather... secretive.

“If you’re talking about the books--” Calum started.

Adrian interrupted him with a raised hand, tilting his head as if he had heard something. He hummed, looking thoughtful. Adrien pointedly met Calum’s eyes and smiled a knowing smile. “I’m sorry, I thought I’d heard a rat.

Calum paled.

The compartment door slid open suddenly, showing two young children around his age. One had ridiculously bushy hair and her front teeth were slightly more prominent than normal. The other was pudgy and seemed overall nervous with the situation.

“Oh, sorry ,” the girl said, though she didn’t seem all that apologetic for having barged in. “Have you seen a toad? Neville’s lost his.”

The pudgy boy looked down, his cheeks flushed with embarrassment.

Adrian’s eyes widened as he looked at the uncomfortable pudgy boy. He did faintly remember him. He had a horrid grandmother.

“No toad in here!” Calum exclaimed, snatching up his wand from the table. “ But I’ll help look. I’ll get the Prefects to help out too. They owe me a few favours.”

The bushy-haired girl seemed surprised but blushed slightly at the overwhelming assistance. “Thank you! I’m Hermione Granger--”

“Hadrianus Selwyn,” Adrian interrupted, rising with a pleasant smile, sliding his wand back into its hidden holster. “What kind of toad are we looking for? I know quite a few magical creatures.”

Neville pushed his way past and wrung his hands anxiously.

“He-- Trevor's about this big,” Neville stumbled to explain, holding his hands apart a decent distance.

Adrian fought to keep the look on his face pleasant. He hadn’t known the Longbottom heir would be so… useless .

“I’ll go search!” Calum said, slipping out into the open hallway of the train. He obviously didn’t want to be confronted on certain… issues.

Hermione frowned, looking at Adrian curiously. “I’ve heard the name Hadrianus before. Wasn’t he a greek ruler?”

“Unfortunately yes. You can’t choose the names your family gives you.” He shrugged helplessly. “Call me Adrian. I insist.”

Hermione offered a small, timid smile and nodded.

“I’ll see you around?” She offered, seeming thrilled by the pleasant interaction.

Adrian nodded. Hermione and Neville left, once more leaving Adrian in silence. Briefly extracting his wand again, he wordlessly locked the compartment door, closing his eyes and leaning back against his seat.

Of course, the one time he could use Lutain and his uncanny ability to find every animal in question, the snake was sound asleep alongside the rest of the Hogwarts pets.

Adrian must’ve dozed off himself. When he woke up, it was dark outside and the train was slowing down. They’d arrived at Hogsmeade, it seemed. The station was barely more than an overhang on the side of the a hill. Between them and the large beautiful castle rising from the Scottish moore, a huge black glittering lake reflected the constellations above.

Adrian was loathe to admit it, but he found the sight exquisit.

“Firs’ Years! This way!”

Adrian glanced over at the call where the smallest children were gathering near a man of truly towering proportions: the half-breed. Adrian had been warned about him repeatedly, by almost everyone. This was Hagrid, the groundskeeper for the castle and the nearby forests.

Adrian was shepherded along with other gaping, wide-eyed children to the lake, where a small fleet of wooden boats waited for them. Adrian’s boat rocked precariously as he clambered in, threatening to tip him and the other three First Years into the inky black water. Probably they all did. Once the fleet of small boats were filled with every First Year, they were guided by invisible ropes, gliding smoothly and rhythmically over the surface towards the far side of the lake and Hogwarts.

Each boat had a glowing lantern, a single flame giving off enough light for Adrian to see a frightened brown-haired girl and a boy with false bravado in the boat with him. Off to the left, Adrian was fairly sure he had spotted the youngest Malfoy’s white hair reflecting in the flickering lantern light.

Adrian’s first proper look at Hogwarts left him speechless. The castle towered over the black lake, dozens of towers and ramparts giving him the impression of an impenetrable fortress, a fantastic closed-off world that he was now entering. Warm torchlight spilled from every window and doorway, reflecting off weathered stone and covered bridges, and made the school seem welcoming.

They piled out, forming a large mob as they were herded (very much like sheep) up along moving staircases and past moving paintings.

The half-giant handed them off to a stern-looking Professor who told them to prepare for the Sorting, then disappeared beyond enormous doors. Then they were left alone in what looked like an entry hall.

Low mumbled conversations started to spread through the group, rumors  and speculation for how the Sorting would proceed. Was Adrian the only one who knew that the Sorting was done by an ancient, floppy hat?

“I heard we have to battle a troll!” One boy bemoaned, looking nearly ready to faint.

For Merlin’s sake...’ Adrian thought to himself, shifting restlessly as the crowd around him became ever more anxious. If Adrian was expected to be clueless, Bella had certainly raised him wrong.

When the door opened, the First Years echoed with gasps and sounds of astonishment as they looked around with wide-eyed glances. The ceiling of the Great Hall had been enchanted to resemble the night sky. It was brighter, deeper than anything Adrian had seen before and there wasn’t even a hint of light pollution or muggle contraptions.

All of the long tables cheered wildly at the sight of each of the First Years stumbling into the light. The chaos really began once the hat was brought out and that same strict-looking professor began to call out names.

“Abbot, Hannah!”

A blonde haired girl in pigtails ran forward, sitting down on the wobbly-looking stool. She looked absolutely terrified as the hat was lowered onto her head.

After a moment of quiet deliberation, the hat shouted, “Hufflepuff!”

“Bones, Susan!” went to Hufflepuff too. “Brown, Lavender!” went to Gryffindor. The names continued, eventually reaching the fabled name, “Potter, Skylar!”

At once the entire room was filled with a great hush, as if everyone had suddenly taken a deep breath and was now holding it until the boy in question was sorted. Skylar separated from the other First Years. He swaggered forward, confident and proud as he sat on the stool with his head held high. The hat was lowered and almost instantly it shouted the House: “Gryffindor!”

The red House went wild with cheers and applause. Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw joined in, though more subdued. Slytherin remained notedly silent.

“Like nobody saw that coming,” the girl standing next to Adrian muttered under her breath. He had only faintly heard her under the loud mantra of “We got Potter!” led by two frolicking twins. Adrian spared her a glance as the hall settled and the Sorting continued.

And then finally: “Selwyn, Hadrianus!”

Adrian was relieved that Bellatrix’s spell had worked on the roster. He squared his shoulders and strode across the room, his shoes clicking loudly while everyone watched him curiously. He noticed glares from the Gryffindor table, likely assuming he was related to the well-known dark family with the same name.

(In truth, it was so much worse but it was unlikely anyone would ever actually know that.)

He climbed onto the stool and tried to calmly wait for the hat to drop onto his head and obscure his vision. The moment it did, he felt something blast right through the pathetic strings that were his occlumency barriers.

My my,’ he heard an indescribable, masculine voice whisper. It seemed to pause for a moment, before continuing along the path with a destination unknown. ‘I was under the assumption you had died.’

Adrian’s facial expressions twitched slightly. Thankfully, no-one would see with the hat over his eyes like it was. ‘I did.’

Well, If you would like to call it that I believe we could compromise. Harry Potter is dead .’

Adrian felt a wave of satisfaction from the blunt confirmation.

The hat felt it and chuckled lowly in his head. ‘ Of course, it is against my abilities to inform anyone of our exchange. A useful thing, ah yes, but you already know this. You thirst for more information, but you hold back .’

Adrian neither confirmed nor denied the hat, simply awaiting its decision.

Ironic, isn’t it, Mr. Riddle? Your entire situation, your life now... Your motivation and your goals, oh very cunning indeed... They may conflict with my own personal beliefs and judgement, although they are commendable. You show remarkable bravery, perhaps I should sort you into--

‘Don’t. Don’t you dare,’ Adrian threatened, trying to quell the rising wave of panic at such a prospect.

No no, of course not. It is humorous that your mind bears such resemblance to your father’s.

I am nothing like Potter .’

James Potter is not your father, Mr. Riddle. And because of this and the struggles you have overcome, it shall be--

“Slytherin!”

It took Adrian a moment to realise that this last part had been shouted out loud.

The tables clapped politely as Adrian stepped down and walked over to the table. Draco had cleared a spot for him nearest a girl with the surname Greengrass. He spotted Calum at the Ravenclaw table, looking inexplicably relieved.

The feast finished very quickly afterwards, the only announcement which stood out in Adrian’s mind was Dumbledore’s strange statement that the third floor corridor was out of bounds and only then to anybody who didn’t want to suffer a very painful death.

At the end of the feast the large group that was Slytherin moved, rising and filtering out of the Great Hall before taking a sharp left to descend into the dungeons where apparently the Slytherin common room and dormitories were located.

The hallways were dark and muggy, the air stiflingly thick and almost too moist, the consequence of all that torchlight and the castle being so close to the lake no doubt. Adrian felt uncomfortably with the close quarters, yet almost as quickly as they pressed in they opened to more pleasant stone hallways, forking to the left and then to the right.

The Slytherin Prefects led the way, directing everyone to a specific lantern stand with a well engraved snake curled around the mount.

“Hello First Years,” The Seventh Year Prefect announced, looking very pleased with the selection. “This is the entryway to the Slytherin Common Rooms. The password is Dragon Eye. Keep updated, as the password will be changed by the end of the week.”

At the password, the snake shifted, wriggling free from the stone and working as a latch in itself. The wall around the torch fell and curled in on itself. It rolled, sliding out of the way with a silent flare of light. The Prefect ducked inside without waiting for the baffled First Years to get their bearings.

The room opened up into a large domed cavern. The ceiling was supported by archaic iron archways, the very very top was dark black, although it shifted ever so slightly with colour. Adrian assumed it was charmed like the great hall.

An older girl with short hair stepped forward. This was the other Seventh Year Prefect. “The rooms are divided by Years. Unlike the other Houses, we have plenty of individual bedrooms. Depending on your Year, your room is located in different hallways or locations. Each room generally has two students to it, however you can swap roommates at any time, just take your name plaque with you.” She pointed at the staircase alongside her own. The other instead of ascending, descended to a hallway lit by green torches. “First Years are down the stairs. Second and Third Years are to the right, Fourth and Fifth are to the left. Sixth and Seventh are up the stairs. Us Prefects are also up the stairs.”

“If House drama comes up,” The male Prefect took over. “Don’t fight it out outside of here. We’re Slytherin, I don’t care if you’re having problems. Outside of this room we stand together.”

He noticed a few First Years looking uncomfortable, and he wondered just who was already picking sides or trying to influence the Slytherin hierarchy.

“Good!” The female exclaimed, clapping suddenly and looking amused as everyone startled to attention. “Go find your rooms. Professor Snape, our Head of House will be here soon to discuss rules and other pertinent information.”

With that, they were dismissed and allowed to file down the narrow staircase, peering down, looking for their names among the silver name plaques.

That’s how Adrian found his room as well as the name of his roommate. He’d hoped for a single, but he wasn’t too worried; he knew at some point of time he could likely weed out the others and manage to get a room of his own. For now he just had to deal with whoever this stranger was.

“You’re Selwyn?” Another boy grunted, eying up Adrian critically. Adrian did the same, noticing the sharp, aristocratic features and the slanting eyes.

“And you must be Zabini.” Adrian nodded, looking at the boy who only wrinkled his nose slightly. Zabini would probably be popular for his appearance in the future, Adrian thought.

Zabini pushed past carefully and opened the room.

The room was… surprisingly large actually, very spacious. There was an open area immediately upon entering. From there, there was a two step lip along the left and right walls. On the elevated platform sat a pair of ordinary-looking beds and matching drawers were pressed flush to the back wall. Adrian spotted his black trunk as well as the ‘cage’ he had placed Lutain in at the end of one of the beds.

Blaise Zabini went directly over to his things, opening his chest to look at its contents critically.

Adrian didn’t bother, already he took out his wand. With an elaborate flourish, he pointed his wand at the set of drawers. “Rigaterim.”

They expanded, sliding upwards and shifting into a double door wardrobe. He repeated the action with the single bed, turning it into a double.

“Exuo,” he then muttered, watching with a small sense of satisfaction as his clothing removed itself from his trunk and slid into the wardrobe almost identical to how he preferred at his home.

Once he had everything set up and resting in an acceptable way, he glanced back to see how Blaise had set up his segment of the room. Somehow the other had managed to alter the colour of the walls into a tasteful shade of dark charcoal. It was more aesthetically pleasing compared to the shocking white on Adrian’s side.

“You mind birds?” It didn’t sound like a question.

Zabini reached into his own trunk, more exotic-looking than Adrian’s, and somehow pulled an entire bird perch from the depths and set it up challengingly near a bedside table. Adrian frowned slightly, the bluntness of Zabini’s action caught him off guard. He had a feeling that the boy would have ignored him even if he didn’t want a bird in the room.

“Don’t attack my snake,” Adrian responded, his voice clipped. He pulled out the charmed box for Lutain before restoring it to normal size. The box rested easily under Adrian’s bed.

He noticed how Blaise’s eyes seemed to light up when Lutain slid out the first time. Evidently he had been expecting a smaller snake.

“Strix,” Blaise offered once he pulled out a rather impressive black bird with red eyes. It looked far too delicate with feather crests and thin claws to partake in long flying like owls. It truly was just an exotic pet, one that looked far too composed for having been hiding in a trunk for hours.

“I hope it isn’t an actual strix,” Adrian jabbed. The appearance of Zabini's bird wasn't  what an actual strix supposedly looked like. Blaise simply smiled thinly.

“Lutain,” Adrian offered, watching as his familiar in question glanced around interestedly before trying to get into Adrian’s trunk where he knew a couple stunned mice were stored.

Zabini gave a jerk of his head, and left his bird perched on its dark stand like it was a wall decoration. The bird looked at the snake with sightless eyes and Lutain hissed in retaliation.

Blaise didn’t offer to accompany Adrian back to their common room. Instead the boy simply left, leaving Adrian a precious few moments alone.

How was the train?” Adrian smiled, stroking down the smooth scales of his companion’s back.

Terrible!” Lutain hissed, seeming very upset. “It was dark and loud with many hisses! Not good!

Adrian shrugged, it would be the easiest way to smuggle Lutain into the school. Although considering Blaise also had a pet that evidently broke the school rules, he figured most of the Slytherins ignored the rule anyways.

You’ll enjoy it here much more. I don’t think the others will find it too odd for a snake to be in the common room. Just don’t bite anyone.”

Lutain managed to somehow look affronted, “ I am not vermin-brain.

Adrain chuckled lowly, allowing Lutain to slide up and over his robes. Lutain nestled into his usual position, looping around his neck and upper right arm.

Adrian turned, exiting his room and ascending the stairs where the rest of his Year had already gathered under the direction of the two Prefects.

“Welcome all, to Slytherin,” the boy started. “My name is Terence, that is Vaisley. We are your Prefects for this year. That means if any of you have questions or problems with the other Houses come to us or our head of House, Professor Snape.”

“Let’s get this in the open,” Vaisley chimed in, her expression falling into something serious. “Some of us come from more… reputable families, but we are all in this House now. We stick together and present a unified front. There will be no insulting each other for whatever reason outside these walls. No-one in the other Houses will make the distinction between if you are or aren’t dark. And for Merlin’s sake, don’t attack the Gryffindor’s alone.”

Vaisley had the proper amount of exasperation in her tone to imply that such a thing had occurred before.

“Everyone in this House has strengths and weaknesses. We don’t care if you’re good at charms or rubbish at astronomy, if you need help, you get help. We don’t tolerate laziness, or poor marks,” Terence stated bluntly. “Most upper Years are decent at healing charms. Ask one of us for help before going to the infirmary and making a scene.”

Vaisley sat herself down on one of the dark leather chairs, pulling out a rolled up scroll from in her pocket and produced a quill. “Alright you lot, I’m assuming most of you brought either something illegal or something not directly permitted by the school rules. Thankfully, the Slytherin rooms have their own set of wards-- once you’re older you can place whatever wards you want on your room itself. Or pay someone to do it for you. How many of you brought pets?”

Adrian grudgingly lifted his arm, alongside a decent portion of the incoming students.  “It’s fine. If something goes missing it’s your responsibility. If anyone gets injured from it, it’s your responsibility. You feed it, you control it, you keep it.”

Lutain twitched and peered around the room curiously. Adrian spotted Draco staring at Lutain in slight disbelief.

The rest of the meeting continued rather blandly. At one point their Head of House stopped in. He was a tall man with pale skin and greasy hair. He had a large hooked nose and what seemed like a permanent sneer. He didn’t seem that interested or enthusiastic for the year, but once again did reinforce the concept that the older Years were the ones to go to if they had need.

The First Years were directed to a bulletin board on the opposite side of the open common room. The board was split into multiple sections, some scrolls were pinned up advertising events or tournaments likely to occur on a weekend. Adrian learned that this was where students sometimes posted questions that they needed answered, as well as services or goods that they were willing to sell. He also spotted a bright red flier, boldly forbidding the breeding and sale of pets to one another.

The rest of the night was spent with an open question-and-answer session. Most of the questions were asinine and if anything, proved who were lacking the proper intelligence. (A lumbering duo stuck close to Malfoy, they seemed to have half of anyone’s intelligence held collectively between them.)

Adrian instead opted to return to his room. He started attempting to construct the few wards he knew, simple things he had tried to create once moving into the Lestrange household. Having some forewarning when someone was outside his door gave him precious moments to prepare for whatever rabid attack Bellatrix conjured.

Adrian linked the ward to a small glass ball he brought with him, alongside a leather bracelet. It would last for now, but later on, once he actually knew and studied more wards, he would be able to make something longer lasting. A silencing ward was also constructed; he didn’t want to have to hear all of Zabini’s bird’s chirping titters.

He wasn’t exactly pleased to have to share his room. It was tolerable, but he’d have to establish some sort of set rules with Zabini. If he was lucky, he could perhaps bargain the boy into shifting to another room. The boy, Nott, seemed rather awkward but held potential.

Adrian smiled to himself. It was going to be an interesting year.

 

Chapter Text

Adrian glanced upwards over the cover of the  book he was reading. He’d quickly fallen into something of a routine. It was a relaxed Wednesday afternoon. Having just finished his Charms class that morning, he was lounging comfortably in the Hogwarts Library until dinner.

His makeshift schedule allowed him plenty of time to work on the Herbology essay he had been assigned painfully early that morning. Despite the post waking daze that accompanied the greenhouses, it was purely coincidental his inherent knack for magical creatures somehow related to his understanding of magical flora. Adrian was almost certain the marks of many of his classmates rested in his gloved hands.

He had taken the only book in the library relating to the pertinent topic of his essay: the use of Arnica outside of poison brewing. His book listed, in rather impressive detail, that Arnica was still used as a herbal treatment for bruises and sprains on humans.

“Er, hello.”

Adrian jolted, nearly knocking his inkwell from the armrest of the chair. The book slid from his lap, snapping shut as it landed on the floor amidst the flurry of his papers. Reflexively, he scrambled to catch the book, already aware that it was futile.

Adrian had assumed that he would be the first person in the library with the intent of finishing the homework. The chances that he would encounter anyone with the same mindset was low, especially considering it was assigned just that morning.

The girl who had startled him so terrible stepped out from around a bookshelf. Her eyes were wide with guilt, Adrian was embarrassed -- had he become so relaxed at Hogwarts he could be caught off guard by a girl?

“I was wondering if you were--”

“Are you planning on working on the herbology essay?” Adrian abruptly offered, trying to smooth the situation the best he could. He leant down from his chair, hoisting the tome off the floor.

“I’m sorry,” the girl apologized, looking frazzled. She looked ready to bolt, yet something about her was familiar.

She had unruly hair and a hideously bright red scarf which only served to make her skin colour seem that much more untasteful.

“Oh, we’ve met! One the train!” She enthusiastically blurted, blushing once she realized her outburst. She scowled, looking disgruntled, a thought occurring to her perhaps. “It’s a shame we aren’t in the same house, Hadrianus.”

Adrian felt disgruntled at her unintentional jab at Slytherin. “I could say the same. Gryffindor, is… unfortunate.”

She didn’t deny it, which likely meant that the other girls had realized how snobby she was.

“Sit down, I’ll share the book with you,” Adrian offered, pointing to the seat next to him, currently being used by Adrian’s bag. She blushed once again before shuffling over and dropping her own heavy bag on the floor next to him. She sat heavily onto the chair once it was cleared, and wasted no time pulling out her plethora of books and parchment. Adrian raised one eyebrow when he noticed she had already been writing the essay, even without the book she wanted.

“I like to get my assignments done in advance,” she struggled to explain, seeming nervous in his company.

“As do I,” Adrian soothed, showing how nearly complete his assignment was already. She gaped in surprise and gave a genuine smile before hiding her face in her hair.

They continued, eventually finishing their essays once able to bounce information back and forth. Hermione (her name had finally come to him while writing) was rather intelligent; it was a shame she felt the urge to flaunt it so obviously.

“Could you help me with essays again sometime?” She asked, eyes wide and watery with how hopeful she was.

Adrian was suddenly struck with the situation and just how perfect it was.

“Of course,” he nearly purred, trying to keep the grin threatening to split his face absent. “But I make deals.”

Hermione paused, suddenly rather timid. “Deals?”

Adrian briefly wondered if he was acting as slimy as Calum. He nodded politely, “Exactly. In the Slytherin house, it’s common to have some sort of... assurance. Some classmates like to take advantage of you.”

Hermione nodded eagerly, clearly sympathizing with him. Adrian took it as a sign to continue.

“Deals are essentially promises. I’ll help you, and you’ll help me in the future. Of course, I would always accept galleons if you’re purchasing something I own.” He smiled slowly, trying to persuade her gently. He could tell that the girl was relaxing. “But in this case, it’s so I’ll help you again sometime.”

Hermione was still wary but it looked like she was considering the offer, now that he had explained it. She worried her lower lip with her prominent front teeth. When she spoke, her words were careful and considered. “Well, that would be nice.”

Adrian smiled and pulled out his wand. He motioned for her to touch the opposite end of his wand, forming a link between them.

In a clear calm voice, Adrian incanted, “Peddlemus.”

His wand warmed under his hand. Hermione twitched slightly, clearly feeling the warmth on her end. It lingered, before slowly fading.

“There,” Adrian said, smiling. He pulled his wand back and slid it into his holster.

Hermione smiled and she looked much happier. Adrian assumed it was because now he was forced to spend time in her presence.

He almost felt bad for her.


 

“Incorrect!”

Although he was sitting on the far side of the room and the words hadn’t been directed towards him, Adrian flinched. The boisterous tone of voice was seriously messing on his head.

Defence Against the Dark Arts was being taught by the most insufferable man Adrian had ever the misfortune of meeting once again. James Potter looked practically gleeful as he took five more points from the stunned looking Pansy Parkinson.

The Hufflepuffs weren’t exactly sure what to do. It was blatantly obvious that Professor Potter was trying to take as many points as possible from the Slytherins and was enjoying every second of his success.

It was grating on Adrian’s nerves. Each jab was making him tense, until only a few more sneers and dumb looks from Hufflepuff until he snapped.

Adrian was filled with intense loathing as James Potter once again asked a question to the unprepared Daphne Greengrass. She stuttered but it was too late, already Potter was snatching points.

Was Potter even qualified for teaching? Wasn’t he an Auror?

“Mr. Malfoy!” James Potter started once more, voice crooning in contrast to the huge shark like grin spreading across his features. “What is a Daywalker!”

Oh! ’ Adrian felt attention perking up, the questions were venturing into magical creatures? Now this was a topic he knew.

“A Daywalker is a species of vampire that is impervious to sunlight,” Malfoy responded, each word grinding from his locked jaw. Malfoy had been the prime target of Potter throughout the entire (much too long) class already.

It was a well known fact that Draco’s father only narrowly escaped being sentenced to Azkaban. With how involved Potter was with the arrests, he could have been the one who escorted the man to his trial.

“Five points from Slytherin for stating the obvious!” Potter was nearly vibrating with excitement, “The proper answer would include the description of its fangs and eyes!”

Oh this was getting ridiculous.

“Mr. Selwyn!” James Potter directed, shifting from where he stood on his little platform to look at Adrian directly.

Adrian froze and with restrained trembling he met the soft brown eyes. Chillingly acidic green scalded and seared into James with emotion so strong, it stunned the man for a few seconds.

“Do phoenixes die?” Stumbling, James Potter asked.

Adrian almost smiled.

“Yes, phoenixes can die.”

“Incorrec-”

“I apologize professor. Would you like me to specify how they die? I don’t like to presume such things, but if that was the case, your question shouldn’t have been so direct.” Adrian interrupted, he revelled in the almost euphoric sensation of a shocked James Potter.

“Elaborate,” James Potter demanded. The man crossed his arms, choosing to lean against his personal desk in the relaxed picture of teacher authority.

“A phoenix can die from its bond with its master if the bond is strong enough and the master dies. It can also die from neglect or abuse. That is only with tamed birds, since the majority of phoenixes are still wild. The bird can also die on command, if it ever wants. Curses will not harm a phoenix, instead it’ll revert back into its hatchling state. Specific venoms from its natural predator will kill it, alongside a few species of plants.”

The room was silent, Adrian curling his hands tightly into fists. He felt the biting sting of his nails puncturing the skin of his palms, but didn’t back down from Potter.

The rising nagging thoughts rose slowly in the back of his mind, regardless of his attempts to crush them. The ravenous doubt that left him inexplicably desiring affection from his-- ‘ No! James Potter is not my father!’

His teeth began grinding together, the ache in his jaw providing clarity to dismiss the nonsense.

‘He’s not even that good of a teacher. I bet he spoils the Gryffindors for holding a quill. He spoils Skylar. Why didn’t he sp-’

He almost screamed with fury, he could tell his entire body was shaking ever so slightly. His face was aching.

The little bell on James Potter desk rang itself. Potter blinked, somehow still stunned and staring at Adrian almost hypnotized. He floundered, not actually saying anything while everyone gathered their objects and filed out of the room.

The group walked silently back to the common room. Once the door opened and they walked in quietly, the older years looked at the new students slightly interested.

Then Pansy burst into cheers and hugged Adrian, who yelped backwards in surprise.

“Selwyn got Potter!” Theo cheered, seeming smug through Adrian’s own abilities.

“The golden boy brat?” One of the third years asked curiously, not too interested with the ruckus.

“No, the professor.” Pansy clarified, looking much too starry eyed for Adrian’s comfort.

“Bloody hell, how did you manage that?” A fifth year gasped, looking at Adrian interestedly. “That clotpole won’t even give Vaisley five points.”

Draco seemed rather annoyed with the topic, and stomped away to sit on a vacant couch.

“You should have seen it, answered the question and shut him right up.” Theo grinned, giving Adrian an appreciative look. “You’re going to be useful when Quidditch season comes around!”

“Always happy to be of service.” Adrian sighed, trying to slip away from the new interest from the upper years.

It wasn’t that big of a deal.

Adrian noticed afterwards on the house cup record in the Slytherin common room, he had been awarded ten points by Professor Potter.


 

The dynamics of the  Slytherin house were confusing and convoluted. Each Year apparently had some sort of hierarchy established. The older you were, the greater your inherent right to order those younger than you around was. It was particularly aggravating when a fifth year openly told you to fetch them useless objects or food.

It reminded Adrian all too well of the lazy pigs which treated him similarly.

It was even more loathsome when power-plays began just before the end of October.

A heavy set girl, twice the size of Daphne Greengrass, a fair haired snobbish First Year, had gotten it into her head that she was the superior authority of the Year. She hadn’t any qualms with Draco, who had almost instinctively claimed his high position. Instead, this stocky large jawed doberman challenged Adrian.

Theo had snickered to himself, looking interested while fidgeting. Watching Adrian and Millicent (as he had been later informed) battle it out was something of a train wreck.

She first demanded Adrian move his position from where he sat on the couch. He lazily obliged, having offered a long mocking swoop of his arm which undermined the fact he actually had moved. The next act was having snatched the food from his plate before he could even eat. He instead smiled and sipped on whatever drink the house elves had provided. He hadn’t touched any part of his meal, instead offering it to Crabbe who eagerly snatched up the spare biscuit.

Millicent started to throw jabs, vicious spittle coated words which weren’t at all pestering considering how petty they truly were. By now, a week had gone on and Millicent had not gained any ground, although she hadn’t lost any either.

Millicent had cornered him in the common room one friday evening. Adrian was reading through a book rather quickly in search of an answer for a Hufflepuff girl who was likely going to fail her assignment without his aid. Millicent plopped onto the couch across from him, wearing a smug look more at home on a pug.

So, I was looking at tapestries,” She started, already almost crowing with victory. “And you aren’t part of the Selwyn family!”

Adrian blinked, paused, then nearly groaned.

“No, I’m not,” he agreed, speaking slowly with the rising tension of the room.

“I’m from another one. Selwyn is a popular last name, you know.”

“You aren’t in any of them!” She cheered, grin looking positively vicious. “That means you’re adopted!”

Adrian paused, calmly turned the page of his book, withheld the flinch, and raised an eyebrow.

“I bet your real parents don’t even like you,” Millicent nearly giggled. “I bet you're from a pathetic family! Maybe even Longbottom!” She was full out laughing now, drawing the attention of a few other students. “I bet they got rid of you so they wouldn’t have to ever see your ugly mug again!”

Adrian didn’t notice how tight his grip was on his book until he heard a nearly inaudible creaking noise. He glanced downwards at his book. The corners of the pages he had been reading furled inwards on itself, like watching a flower close bloom in reverse.

The room was struck with the pungent smell of smoke, and a few wafts trailed upwards from his hands.

Millicent didn’t seem to notice, although a few of the upper years murmured to one another. They evidently had seen the smoke and now understood the cause was the steadily intensifying anger.

Millicent finally noticed that she had gained something over Adrian. She beamed, looking thoroughly impressed with herself. She walked away with her head held high.

Theo had seen the exchange, and seemed conflicted with the results.

The next day in Herbology, the teacher, Professor Sprout, had the idea to introduce the group as well as the Ravenclaws to a dangerous thorny plant with bright red flowers capable of breathing fire.

The plant in question was fascinating, although the name escaped Adrian. It thrashed and smoldered and provided a delicious opportunity.

Theo had chanced looking upwards with a grimace from where he was trying to prune his own plant. Adrian, standing across from him with his own plant, had a nearly obsessive look on his face as he stared down the row at Millicent.

Theo watched, tilting his head curiously as before his eyes, Adrian’s hands flexed slightly and his pupils dilated rather suddenly.

Millicent screamed almost instantly after. Theo spun his head to look at her, where her hair and her robes had caught marvelous lapping flames. She was crying, thick alligator tears falling down her face while the air was filled with the acrid stench of burning hair.

Professor Sprout hurried down the row, scolding the others of the dangers of the flower. She hushed Millicent and took her aside, patting out the very eager flames with her fire retardant gloves.

Theo slowly looked back at Adrian, who finally blinked and looked away. He calmly tended to his plant over the sounds of Millicent’s whimpers.

Theo was extra twitchy, stumbling over to mumble his speculations to Pansy who had shrieked in delight over the rumor. She spread it rapidly, efficiently enough that by dinner that night it was a Slytherin secret that Adrian Selwyn could set things aflame, wandlessly and nonverbally.

When Millicent was released from the hospital wing a few days later, it wasn’t only a stack of homework assignments awaiting her.

Adrian smiled at her when she returned, offering a pleasent, “So glad to see you weren’t burnt too badly.”

She realized when her half finished essay curled and burned under her hands, that the injury was entirely intentional.

By the end of that week, Adrian had secured his position as untouchable.


Chapter Text

Adrian had mixed feelings over Halloween. It was the day of the pagan Samhain festival, something Adrian enjoyed quite thoroughly. On that day, it was custom to honor the dead, or the names of your ancestors. Although awkward and uncomfortable, it was an apparent honor to stumble through the names of your ancestors, tracing your lineage back as far as you could. Adrian could certainly understand why reciting his lineage, the descendants of Salazar Slytherin, would be a privilege .

On the other hand, the night was repeatedly marked with the foreign high pitch hiss of ‘Show the boy his place!’ and Bellatrix unhinged like a mad hound. She was entirely a different person, the concepts of comfort or maternal instinct absent from her cackling and vicious curses.

Adrian had shouted, he had begged--

He twitched, fingers sliding towards a phantom ache of something wriggling in his abdomen. His sudden movement jarred the book which had been balanced lazily on his lap.

Draco looked up sharply, following the book with a pinched look of annoyance. His elaborate albino peacock quill stopped scratching against his parchment.

“What, is that book too boring for your prestigious tastes?” Draco asked, looking challengingly at Adrian. It was no lie that Adrian was very particular about his books, that he was very critical of them.

“Says the one holding a peacock quill,” Adrian snipped back, without much feeling.

Draco only scowled, looking back at the book of charms and jinxes not taught in the Hogwarts curriculum.

“I hope you’re not planning on using that on Bulstrode,” Draco warned, not flinching at Adrian’s glare.

“I did nothing to that girl--”

Draco looked at him with obvious skepticism.

“It’s for a bargain, a second year Slytherin wants a hex that is unique enough to do damage, but tricky enough not to be fixed quickly.” Adrian explained, “Three galleons on it.”

“So now you’re selling your services too?” Draco rolled his eyes. His tone made it clear he thought the idea of Adrian selling his services was beneath him. “Give you a sickle and you’ll jinx Potter for me?”

“I’d need more than a sickle if you want me to hunt down a professor,” Adrian grunted, flipping to a specific page before turning and showing Draco the desired hex.

Draco read it, eyes widening in surprise at the description, “The Jelly-finger hex?”

“Makes your target unable to hold anything in their hands, not taught in schools, and has a potion to reverse the effects. Which takes two days to brew,” Adrian deadpanned, the wicked gleam in his eyes belying his even tone. “Pretty useful.”

Draco paused. “What was the incantation for that--”

Adrian snapped the book shut, sliding it into his bag with a blank expression. He looked at Draco and dryly informed the blonde that the information would cost him three galleons. Draco scowled again.

But he paid Adrian anyway.


 

The Slytherin first year boys shuffled into the great hall in quest for lunch. The hall was nearly vacant, people tried to stay away since it was in the process of being decorated for the feast later in the day.

“What charms do you reckon they use?” Blaise muttered, just loud enough for the group to hear. Adrian peered up and over, seeing a large pumpkin getting dragged across the floor between the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff tables.

He opened his mouth once Theo looked at him expectantly, the pumpkin turned and Adrian froze alongside Theo.

“None,” Adrian breathed, resisting the urge to walk over to the creatures.

“We’re used to him acting all mysterious, but what’s gotten into you?” Draco drawled, looking pointedly at Theo who spluttered, eyes never leaving the creatures.

Theo could see Thestrals?

“It’s nothing!” Theo snapped, his voice a bit higher than normal. He was fidgeting and looked aggravated.

Adrian had to agree. It would be suspicious as to why a first year would be able to see an omen of death so clearly.

Thestrals were absolutely beautiful.

Adrian found himself sneaking peeks towards the animals any time he could as he helped himself to the recently harvested vegetables and fruits. The apples were just ripe. He bit into one with a satisfying crunch while he watched the winged horses help tug another pumpkin into position.

They stumbled out of the great hall, Adrian heading off to snatch Lutain from where he lay dozing back in Adrian’s room (casting a glare at Strix when the bird tried to snap at his fingers), and headed to the library.

He almost bumped into a crying Hermione, who was too upset to see who she had actually run past. Adrian blinked in surprise, but decided it was best to ignore her and headed to the library to read.

He was reading for pleasure, listening absently as Lutain rattled off what Adrian had missed in the time he had been gone. The Slytherin boy paused, listening as Lutain described how Blaise had very cautiously hidden what seemed to be a suspicious book into a locked trunk. The info wasn’t surprising, considering how Blaise had actively smuggled a live animal into Hogwarts. The ramifications were alarming, if Blaise unfortunately was caught with the book, assuming it was illegal, he could easily blame it on Adrian. Adrian also had to wonder why Lutain, a snake barely able to articulate, considered a book ‘suspicious’.

“And you saw all of this?” Adrian murmured under his breath. His focus was now entirely on his companion.

Yes! Lutain crowed. He was just as frustrated by the Strix as Adrian was. “He speaks word cotello.

“Cotello?” Adrian repeated in English, just to make sure the translation hadn’t changed the word.

Lutain hissed excitedly, causing Adrian to smile and slide the book back on the shelf. He already knew all the spells in that specific book anyway.

He left the room, scanning through the courtyards and only nodding his acknowledgement to fellow Slytherins who briefly stated his name. Word had started to spread outside to the other houses that he had wordless magic. As had the rumors of his bargain.

He hadn’t been approached by Calum, which was in itself surprising.

“Selwyn!”

Adrian stopped, glancing over his shoulder and mentally cursing when he saw a stocky and aggressive Hufflepuff approaching him from down the hallway.

“Yes, Macmillan?”

“What’s this I hear about you making an oath with Susan!” The blond-haired Hufflepuff hissed, looking absolutely furious.

“I don’t make oaths,” Adrian corrected, his tone making it clear that he didn’t like how the Hufflepuff was asserting himself. The blond-haired boy was acting far too similar to another boy Adrian once knew.

“Then what do you call that thing you made with her!”

“I make bargains.”

“Yeah, like your slimy snake.” Macmillan growled angrily, whipping out his wand to hold under Adrian’s chin.

Lutain reared, looking threatening with his fangs unhinged. Lutain had grown, eyes bright and scales glossy in the October light.

Macmillan didn’t falter, which was in itself surprising.

“I bet you’re plotting something evil,” Macmillan said. “That’s all you pathetic lot do!”

“I suggest you lower your wand. You’re making a scene,” Adrian reprimanded sharply. “Not that I think you know any worthwhile spells to begin with.”

“You’re right,” Macmillan agreed all too quickly. Surprisingly the Hufflepuff lowered his wand. Before Adrian could react, Macmillan pulled back his fist and clobbered the Slytherin.

Adrian’s head recoiled back. Macmillan had hit his nose. It was bleeding slightly, which had Lutain rearing, thoroughly angered.

You badger den weasel! Your fur is sour and dirt! Lutain hissed.

Something about Lutain’s insults and the throbbing pulse in Adrian’s face brought a rising tug of something to a crescendo.

He imagined Bellatrix’s laughter over it all.

Adrian giggled, reaching up with one hand to staunch the bleeding the best he could. He went cross eyed, trying to stare at his nose. His one eye was already straining to do so with the darkening marks of a bruise.

Adrian’s face shifted, unhinging to look relaxed with a bright excited smile parting his lips and getting him giddy.

Macmillan looked stunned, not actually expecting to do any damage. Adrian’s eye hurt and the skin felt pulsating warm. It was a familiar sensation, hadn’t Bella always told me that second blood was always justifiable.

Master? Lutain asked, his voice low and soothing. Adrian ignored him.

“An eye for an eye,” Adrian said, grinning. He tasted blood. His teeth tinged pink.

Why wasn’t Macmillan finding it funny as well?

“What-- I-- I didn’t--” Macmillan stuttered, and Adrian’s eyes dilated and his knuckle popped.

Adrian felt the exhilarating rush as his blood and magic beckoned to a call he didn’t know yet. There was something distinctly satisfying watching Macmillan’s eyes bulge as it undoubtedly struck him.

Macmillan gagged, retching with both hands moving to his mouth. With almost exaggerated slowness, Macmillan pulled away a hand from his bleeding mouth. He was holding the lower segment of a cracked tooth.

“A bargain is a bargain.” Adrian announced, looking at Macmillan through the latter’s horrified gaze, “Next time you try something, you know what to expect.”


 

One of the Slytherin upper years healed Adrian’s black eye efficiently with lingering curiosity. She knew who she was, likely one of the few upper years who actually believed him too.

His eye was healed, his nose fixed, and just in time for the Halloween feast.

He walked with Theo, who had gotten rather attached to Adrian as of recent. Likely because even Theo was smart enough to recognize, with his family being a predominantly dark family, that having a strong ally was important.

Theo took his seat next to Adrian, Draco sitting on his other side. Across from them sat Crabbe and Goyle, with Pansy next to them. Daphne and Millicent were further down the table, trying to avoid them as best they could.

Draco scoffed when a group of bats swept close to the Hufflepuffs and they squealed.

“A bunch of sheep they are,” Draco muttered, trying to ignore Pansy’s barking laughter.

“It’s a bad design” Theo sniped, snatching an apple from a nearby bowl. “All the houses get good traits except that bunch,”

“I think I get it, the Hufflepuffs are too loyal for their own part,” Blaise murmured, taking the seat on the far side of Theo. “Too loyal to a single person.”

Adrian snorted quietly, remembering just earlier that day.

Speaking of Hufflepuff, I heard a Hufflepuff boy was in the hospital wing earlier,” Daphne said, sliding over and leaning into Pansy to address the group. Her eyes were silvery sharp, “Something to do with you, Selwyn?”

Adrian looked at her blankly.

“You sent a boy to the hospital wing?” Draco drawled. The ‘ again?’ was implied and everyone knew it.

Adrian reached for a roll, opening it and spreading some apple butter on the inside. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“I also heard that Maricia Holdwyn had to heal a black eye,” Daphne added, holding a slightly tilted smile. “Seems whoever it was got a good hit in.”

Adrian felt a small inkling of anger. Was Daphne now challenging him as well?

Draco looked pointedly at Adrian, who was calmly looking at Daphne. Adrian shook his head dismissively, saying, “I heard the Hufflepuff boy is missing a few teeth. I wonder why, when he had no bruises.”

Daphne backed down, suddenly more interested in the food on her plate. The others seemed to become a bit more interested in their own meals too. They all knew that they hadn’t learned any hexes to remove teeth.

“Adrian?” Theo muttered under his breath, taking a large slice of moist turkey. Adrian glanced sideways, seeing his slightly sheepish expression. The conversation topics had changed, everyone was involved with their own debates at the moment.

“Yes, Nott?” Adrian sighed, turning to face the thin blonde hair boy more directly. Adrian’s use of his surname seemed to heighten his anxiety.

“What were the uh, the things?” Theo started, shifting uncomfortably. “That the other people couldn't see?”

“Thestrals,” Adrian answered, glancing through the hall where a Thestral was sleeping near the large pumpkin. It was likely staying for the feast and then would help tug the pumpkins out. “They’re omens of death.”

Theo inhaled sharply.

“A Thestral is the exact opposite of a unicorn, or a pegasus. Nobody knows how they breed, or how they’re born. They’re classified as dark creatures by the Ministry.” Adrian smiled and met Theo’s surprised and wondering eyes. “Only people who have witnessed death firsthand can see a Thestral. Isn’t that right, Nott?”

Theo flinched almost instantly.

Master! Adrian stopped and looked past Nott towards the great doors which were propped open. He thought he spotted his dark friend moving quickly over the floor towards the Slytherin table. “Master! You must flee!”

Theo was looking at him too suspiciously to risk speaking to Lutain. Instead Adrian craned his head, peering over and searching for Lutain’s approaching form.

“Selwyn? What is it?” Draco asked, looking over in search of what he saw.

Adrian dropped his arm, finally seeing Lutain slithering over the floor in the torchlight. A few murmurs went up and down the table, a few upper years noticing the snake.

“What’s that thing want now?” Blaise muttered, meeting Adrian’s eye. Blaise knew that Adrian often left the door open just enough for his friend.

“Master, a large creature is in the hallways. A large creature! Bumbling and clumsy like a tree!” Lutain snapped, quickly sliding up Adrian’s arm and over his shoulder. Lutain had grown, he was starting to weigh like heavy rope.

“He doesn’t normally come here unless there's something wrong,” Adrian mused, rubbing Lutain’s face.

“A large creature big as tree! Heavy stick. Stench! Masked human pop and it was there! In dark den!”

As large as a tree? Humanoid and with a heavy stick-

Adrian tensed and was instantly confused: how had a troll been snuck into the castle?

“There must be something in the dungeons,” Adrian spoke, loud enough for everyone to hear, “Something which is dangerous.”

He heard Pansy scoff.

The great doors were swung open even further as a panting James Potter ran into the hall, face serious and not at all pausing for breath.

“Troll!” He shouted, using his wand to amplify his voice. “Troll in the dungeons! Prefects, get your students under control and escort them back to the common rooms!”

Skylar immediately jumped and ran down, he raced up to his dad who had cut the amplification spell.

With a sinking feeling, Adrian scanned the Gryffindor table as the hall erupted in screams. Where was Hermione?

Adrian ducked his head close to Lutain and whispered under the shouts, “Did you smell anyone else in the dungeons?”

“Yes, in a water room. Hard with stench. Scent female.”

Hermione was in a toilet in the dungeons? There was an abandoned girls room a few hallways over from the Slytherin common room access; it wouldn’t be that big of a stretch to assume she had hidden from the Gryffindors there.

Adrian stood and slid off the bench, the rest of the students followed his lead. Vaisley and Terence jumped at the chance and started to direct everyone through the halls and down the staircases towards the dungeons.

Lutain took his time scenting the air, glancing around and searching for the troll. Adrian heard no words and smoothly stepped out of the way, ducking behind a suit of armor. The rest of the group filed past quickly, leaving him alone in the hallway only moments later.

“Alright Lutain, can you keep your eyes open for the troll? I’ll find the girl.” Adrian muttered, turning to sharply run down the hallway.

He mentally cursed the loud clicking his shoes made, the sound echoing and distorting surreally. Lutain hissed in surprise when Adrian twisted around one corner, looking frantically for the washroom entrance. The hairs on his arms were standing in the near darkness of the hallway, and the looming threat that a troll was loose anywhere.

He barged through the door, instantly hearing quiet sobs.

“Hermione,” Adrian bluntly stated, locking the door behind him and moving to the stalls. The sobbing abruptly cut off.

“Adrian?” Hermione asked, voice uplifting hopefully. She opened one of the stalls, her eyes red and puffy, “What are you--”

“We don’t have time,” Adrian interrupted, grabbing her arm forcefully. He ignored how Hermione paled once seeing Lutain up close for the first time. “There’s a troll loose in the castle, mountain troll I think, although It could be a oak troll. Stick close, I’ll get you back to the hallways.”

Hermione floundered at the surplus of unexpected information. Both of them froze in sync as the door Adrian had purposefully locked shut, creaked open.

“Master! It stench!” Lutain hissed, pulling a protective stance.

“Back!” Adrian urged, pushing Hermione back against the stall as the two slipped inside. They could hear the heavy footfalls as the troll lumbered into the room, dull echo thumps as it knocked its head against the torch sconces and the ceiling.

Adrian pulled out his wand, ignoring Hermione’s frantic hand gestures to do the opposite. He peered around the corner, spotting the dumb looking troll who was poking a mirror in confusion. It was a mountain troll after all.

“Bite? Bite?” Lutain enthused, flexing eagerly in anticipation.

“When I say, run.” Adrian whispered, before turning and waltzing out entirely.

The troll noticed him immediately, it grunted and hefted the large wooden club up above its head threateningly. It bellowed angrily and Adrian slowly lifted his wand. Without warning, it brought the club down hard.

“Incendio.” Adrian murmured, the club burning instantly, scorching the troll’s hands. It stupidly dropped the club, the heavy burning wood glancing off its right shoulder.

The troll cried out loudly, clutching its shoulder and sobbing at the blisters on its palms. Adrian snatched Hermione by the arm, throwing her past the troll.

She screamed, running around the troll and out the busted door, Adrian followed quickly. He had been trained to run fast, normally sharp curses being cast behind him. There was a sort of terrifying adrenaline which pulsated through his blood. He knew instantly that this troll was more dangerous than anything Bella had thrown at him; with Bella he had the assurance of counterspells and healing potions.

“It’s coming!” Hermione screamed, tears running down her face.

Adrian pointed his wand over his shoulder without looking. “Avis!”

A small flock of canaries shot out of Adrian’s wand. Hermione rounded a corner just ahead. Adrian rounded the same corner, scrambling in surprise when a suit of armor was levitating above his head.

The troll stumbled past, and the suit of armor dropped onto the creature. The collective weight of the metal plates and chainmail weighed heavily and knocked the troll unconscious.

Adrian breathed heavily to catch his breath, Hermione had a breathless smile, looking at Adrian thankfully.

“Get back to your common room, avoid the teachers,” Adrian panted, giving a sharp nod before running off to the hallway perpendicular.

Adrian grinned as he slipped into the common room without eve r seeing a single teacher.

Such a shame that Snape was halfway through a word, addressing the Slytherin house, when Adrian managed to slide in.

Chapter Text

Sirius Black, a sector head Auror as well as James Potter’s close friend, along with Lily Potter, a specialist in wards and charms, marched into Hogwarts the day after the troll was secured.

The troll had been found three corridors over from the Slytherin common room. It was reported that it had developed second degree burns on its hands, dislocated its right shoulder, and somehow obtained a minor concussion. The troll was cautiously charmed and transported by a small Auror team to an unknown location.

The fact the troll’s injuries were public knowledge quickly forced the dynamics of students to shift uncontrollably. Students became suspicious of one another, tensions were nearing a breaking point across houses. Hufflepuffs were snapping at Ravenclaws, just the other day a Gryffindor upper year landed himself in the hospital wing after tackling another student down a flight of stairs.

Adrian was thankful Lutain hadn’t bit the creature, if that was the case there would only be so few suspects.

Draco found the situation amusing, resting in the self-satisfied glow of finally having Adrian under Snape’s wrath. Adrian had almost received a detention for sliding into the common room at such an inopportune moment. The only reason he hadn’t was due to his spotless track record. Once the troll was found with burns, regardless of the previous evidence which implied otherwise, the whispers started. His mysterious tardiness alongside the troll’s injuries painted a target on his back as the only suspect in the eyes of his house-mates. Of course, in a castle populated by students, some legally of age to be considered an adult, it would be asinine for teachers and aurors to interrogate an eleven year old boy.

It didn’t deter Draco, who took it as his personal mission to pry the truth out of Adrian.

“Seems funny, that a troll was actually in the castle.” Draco drawled, moving a chess piece one square forward. Blaise scowled at his opponent, thinking rapidly to counter the move.

“It musta been one heck of a spell to bring it here.” Theo noted, looking just as twitchy as ever, “Musta been one heck of a spell to take it down.”

“If it was a spell.” Draco trailed off, implications weighing heavy as once more, his silver eyes slid to Adrian and his trademark book.

“You all are missing the point,” Adrian stated with a sigh, turning a page absentmindedly with two fingers, “Someone, not a student or staff, brought a live mountain troll into Hogwarts, past the wards.”

Blaise rolled his eyes, “Calm down there, Harry.”

Adrian stiffened suddenly, tensing his entire body to the point of miniscule trembles.

What, did you call me?” He asked, forcing casualness despite the rising swell of anxiety and rage. His legs tensed spasmitaclly, his own brute effort to restrain from leaping across and pummeling his roomate. How Adrian wished to see him choke- how the scenario flashed before his eyes with Adrian’s own primitive snarl and his fingers tightening against the fluttering throat-

Blaise blinked lazily and bored, “Harry. Your name is Hadrianus isn’t it? Adrian was getting old-”

“I like it,” Theo chimed, quickly flinching and shying away once he noticed Adrian’s countenance, “Or, er, not?”

“Zabini, you’re switching rooms with Nott.”

Blaise paused, “Like hell I am-”

“Coltello.” Adrian hissed out, snapping his book shut with a crack. His freezing spell was over, now he rolled with the jerky movements of barely restrained violence. Blaise’s eyes widened and his nostrils flared.

“No?” Adrian asked, his voice was wavering suspiciously high, “So get out.”

Blaise’s jaw tensed but he relinquished with sharp nod.

Unaware of the perils of approaching, an upper year walked forward from the other side of the Slytherin Common Room.

“Adrian Selwyn?” Either arrogant or unobserving, an upper year addressed the group carelessly. Theo pointed wordlessly at Adrian, his thin face still expressing the finest twitch of alarm. Blaise recovered first, groaning loudly in frustration as once again, Draco had cornered him into a check.

As if the sound had broken an unspoken spell, the atmosphere broke and melted away.

“How may I be of assistance?” Adrian monotonously asked, relaxing his clenched fists and blinking three times to compose himself.

“You do things for people, right?” The boy asked, looking uncomfortable as he just now comprehended how terse the four were. Adrian gave a minor nod, confirming what was almost public knowledge already.

“Would you meet with this, ah, another student and get something for me?” the boy asked, trying to hide his instinctive shifting of weight.

Considering how shady this already sounded, it didn’t take much of a guess to assume who it was Adrian would have to see.

“I’m to pay Calum a visit?” Adrian sighed, “I don’t do things from the generosity of my heart.”

“What heart?” Draco mumbled, moving a rook to overtake Blaise’s poorly placed knight.

The boy flushed, either embarrassed or annoyed. He reached into his bag- charmed to be larger internally then it appeared. After sinking his arm up to his elbow in the brown sack’s innards, he retrieved a package wrapped in brown paper.

“Two vials of Dreamless Sleep potion, I managed to snag them from the hospital wing awhile back. They’re still good.” The boy urged, Adrian plucked the package and absentmindedly fingered the paper edging.

“Don’t the older students brew this?” Adrian raised one eyebrow, looking disappointed with the offer, “How is this any better than what I can get?”

“It’s Pomfrey,” The boy blinked, looking gobsmacked, “She gets them from St. Mungos!”

Adrian suspected she actually purchased them from a potion supplier company, not St. Mungos directly. Having industrial strength potions instead of blind trust in someone’s brewing abilities was beneficial.

Adrian set the package beside him on his couch, procuring his wand and offering the end daintily. The boy blinked in confusion but pinched the wooden end between his forefinger and thumb.

“Peddlemus, there. I’ll uphold in our bargain. When and where?” Adrian interrogated quietly, obtaining the relevant information. The boy, Dyrik, left.

“That’s what you do?” Draco asked, much more interested having seen the exchange first hand, “You work in little arrangements?”

“I’ve gotten over fifty galleons, and It’s not even holiday break.” Adrian noted, raising one eyebrow at Draco’s gobsmacked expression, “It’s an excellent business.”


 

Adrian walked up the steps quickly and with precision. His shoes- swapped for soft soles, permitted him to climb the steps essentially silent.

He took the first right once reaching the top of the staircase, seeing the faint glimmer of the setting sun illuminate the covered bridge. A tall figure was leaning against one of the arches, looking at the view of the Black Lake.

“It’s been a while, Calum.” Adrian smiled politely, walking out past the heating wards. The chill of nearly winter bit through his cloak mercilessly.

Calum spun, glaring at Adrian with scowl, “What you doing here, kid?”

“Dyrik sends his regards.” Adrian explained, holding out two galleons which Calum snatched up tentatively. In turn, Calum pulled out two vials of something dark, before passing it over. Adrian grabbed it in his significantly smaller hands.

“Careful there, that’s all I got.” Calum warned.

“Look at you, a potions dealer.” Adrian chuckled, sliding the twin vials into his pocket. Calum scowled, looking on the verge of saying more.

He didn’t, instead he stormed past Adrian through the wards back into the warmth of the castle.  Adrian followed soon after, although the view from the bridge was amazing he’d rather be dressed more suitably against the temperature.

He was descending the stairs when he ran into Hermione. The girl flushed wildly, but seemed determined in a self righteous way.

“Adrian.” she huffed, putting her hands on her hips dramatically in a way which reminded him of Draco, “I want to make a bet!”

Adrian blinked, overly conscious of the vials in his pocket, “Deals. I make deals. Do you have coin?”

She deflated instantly, the Gryffindor bravado vanished from her body like the water of a sink leaving when it’s plug was pulled. She chewed her lip- a horrid habit with teeth like hers, hesitantly shaking her head. Adrian felt a surge of disgust, had others truly caved under an expression so pitiful? Bella would have sent him something memorable if he ever tried an expression as unsightly as that.

“I can make other deals, favours. What is it you need?” Adrian asked, tilting his head curiously.

“I- I’m trying to find anything on this name,” she chewed on her lip unsure. She didn’t seem motivated to indulge him any more information before they had an accordance of sort.

Adrian pulled out his wand and offered the end to Hermione. “Hold the tip, I’ll cast the spell. If I don’t follow through you won’t be expected in any way to help me later on.” Hermione nodded and grabbed it carefully.

“Peddlemus.”

Her eyes widened when she felt the warm tingle, Adrian slid his wand back in his pocket. “What is it you need help with?”

“Nicholas Flamel.” Hermione blurted all too eager for his help, “I- I know the name but I can’t remember from where!”

Flamel, Adrian remembered that name. The ancient man had worked alongside Lutain’s namesake, generally he had created spells for transmutation. Ingredients for alchemy and metallurgy.

“I’ll find out. Where is the Gryffindor common room located?” Adrian asked calmly, Hermione dutifully explained that the room was located behind the portrait of the Fat Woman just off the stairwells.

Now all Adrian had to do was to figure out why Flamel was important enough to have Hermione make a deal with him.


 

Adrian returned to the large train, prepped to transport the students back to King’s Cross station. Snow had just started to sprinkle, a gentle sight Adrian had seen rarely since he had lived in lower England instead of northern Scotland.

He diverted his eyes once removing himself from the carriage. The Thestrals snuffed loudly, no steam rising from the sunken nostrils.

Adrian once again secured a single compartment for himself. This time he had dragged his trunk along with him, feather-light and slightly shrunken for better maneuvering.

“Going home?” Lutain questioned, peering around the compartment and flicking his tongue wildly, “Home-rats taste best.”

That’s because you’re spoiled.” Adrian murmured under his breath, reaching into his other pocket to retrieve a broken quill he had stuffed in one late night at the library.

He held it loosely, twirling the broken shaft and split vanes between his fingers.

He pulled gently at the thrumming whispers under his skin, fingers tingling until they nearly burned just under the nail beds; the quill shivered, changing and warping in a grotesque slow transformation. Sharp edges vibrated on the border of comprehension before warping into brown. The mass of the quill expanded then shrunk, bubbling on the surface like Crabbe’s failed potions. It spasmed in an awkward jumble of magic, something wild and unrestrained forced and shackled to obey Adrian’s focus and desire. It settled and cooled rapidly, complete and laying limp in the shape of a dead mouse.

Lutain scented it immediately, his head turned and wavered as his tongue poked through the small hole in his frontal jaw and flickered incessantly.

Adrian smiled wordlessly, his mind sated if not slightly exhausted from the adrenal thrill which occurred after the release of his magic. It had been a painfully long while since he had any reason to release his intent and shape something to his pleasure.

“Mine?” Lutain asked eagerly, dancing instinctevly at the rodent, “Mine still if you say not. This mine.”

The door to the compartment slid open at the single time to witness not only Lutain’s jaws unhinging to consume a limp rodent, but also the baffling carefree grin on Adrian’s face.

“Bloody hell,” Draco breathed “That is more terrifying than triple detention with Filch.”

Adrian’s smile instantly fell and his expression returned to normal range of clouded impasse. He turned his head, giving Draco one of his dryest glances; Adrian’s hair was ruffled still which partially damaged his newfound composure.

“Why are you here?” Draco ignored the inquiry and instead sat on the seat across from Adrian, he watched Lutain for a moment with tense body language.

“My father always hosts a Yule Ball.” Draco started, his head lifted high.

“I won’t be able to attend,” Adrian cut off Draco, hastily adding in, “No insult intended for your noble house. It would have been a pleasure, although regrettably in my own family the traditions of yule are more...” Adrian trailed off, before offering a wry smile, “It’s difficult to explain.”

Draco’s eyes were clouded although he gave a sharp nod of understanding. He rose, prim and proper before walking to the doors of the compartment and pausing, “I fully anticipate gifts for the holidays from you, Adrian. Obviously it will be reciprocated.”

Adrian gave the barest movement of a nod, “Obviously,”


 

Adrian returned to the Lestrange household with loud squeals from Bella and gruff welcomes from her husband and brother-in-law.

Bellatrix was rough, grasping his arm excitedly and with enough vigor to blossom bruises under his skin. He returned it briefly, taking a step back as Bellatrix’s eyes scanned his face to take in his new appearance.

“Your hair is getting too long,” She tutted her tongue, grasping the long strands roughly, they were being swept aside on his forehead to not obscure his eyesight. “Have you gotten thinner?”

“Unlikely considering the ridiculous amount of pudding and pastries at every meal,” Adrian rebutted, causing Bellatrix to wriggle in joy.

She was eager, already casting spells upwards against the creaking and groaning supports above their head. Adrian kept his wand on him, ready for a shielding spell incase Bella’s spell’s resulted in breaking the roof after all.

Hedwig returned and took to roosting in the owlery happily,  she had swept into the large dining hall and delivered a still breathing mouse to Lutain to express her satisfaction. The snake in question had ate earlier, Hedwig did not mind his refusal, digging in instead with relish.

The Yule holiday wasn’t especially eventful although compared to the daily schedule of Hogwarts, it was filled with a relentless series of drills and fights. Bellatrix was personally adamant that Adrian had forgotten all he had managed to learn, and took her time to draw out their matches until Adrian was nearly whimpering on the ground.

The third day of winter break Adrian managed to perform the stunning spell, although rudimentary and weak in power, it had caught Bella off guard enough that her elbow was clipped and she teetered to the ground.

The fourth day, she was determined to drill in the spell until it was effortless for him, no matter the amount of times she would have to awaken him.

Adrian slumped to the ground, hand clutching his shoulder where crimson weeped from a cutting curse.

Bellatrix folded her legs and sat directly across from him with a savage look in her eye. She poked his arm, ignoring his hiss of pain and licked the red from her dark nails.

“Your father wants you to learn Occlumency.” She informed Adrian, causing the latter to freeze; the pain in his arm felt so insignificant all the sudden.

“What?” He breathed, pulling his knees to his chest and clutching them carefully.

“I don’t know how to do it,” Bellatrix confessed, “He said my brain is a bit too-” her eyes became alit with a maddening fire, “too confusing .”

“When does he want me to learn it by?” Adrian swallowed, feeling anxiety rise in his throat and buzz nauseatingly in his stomach, “How much time do I have?”

“Summer?” She asked, tilting her head as she squinted into nothing, “Summer I think?”

“That’s not long,” Adrian whispered, hand spasming into a tight fist. Bellatrix acted like the information wasn’t new, she could have given him more time. She could have told him.

He almost saw a filter slide over his eyes, something dark and shrouding his vision. He looked at Bella, so intimately cold at her, and with a crack of one knuckle she was suddenly trapped in the chaotic mingling of screams and laughter.

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner.” Adrian bit out, somewhere between hysteria and raw  fury. “You could have given me more time.”

He released her, the pressure vanishing as the hands pushing on his skull released their grip. She went lack on the ground, still laughing although they only sounded winded.

“Because,” her voice bubbled between still twitching lips, “It’s funny when you do this.”

“You think it’s funny?” Adrian asked, voice strikingly cold; he twisted his head, trying to get something in his neck to crack on the one side while it refused to do so.

He pressed on her, feeling something in his chest tighten as her breath refused to come to him. She spasmed on the ground, unable to laugh with the air being pulled from her very lungs.

“You’ve placed me in a poor situation, Lestrange.” Adrian’s voice was ice, “ Not again.”

He released her, and walked away.


 

Christmas Day Adrian spent with Lutain nestled on a stack of warm towels, and Hedwig perched in the branches of an obnoxiously large tree in the drawing room.

Rodolphus and Rabastan were gone often the days leading up to the holiday, apparently on missions to recruit or blackmail wizards. Christmas day they were battered with broken bones and blackened eyes, all in various states of healing.

“Let’s ignore that,” Bellatrix huffed, instead sliding a hazardous wrapped box over towards Adrian. “Open it!”

Adrian did so, pulling on the tape to loosen the paper. It was a crate, and inside that was a single key.

He held it up questioningly, to which Bellatrix elaborated that it was a key to her childhood home. She didn’t understand Adrian’s compulsion or longing with every book within sight, but could recognize the vast collection of books and scrolls that belonged to the family of Black held valuable wealth.

Rodolphus gifted him a journal, one thick and black Adrian immediately designated to keep track of all the deals that had transacted. Rodulphus also gave him various objects that although showed an effort, it didn’t show that he knew Adrian very well. Socks, a pair of new boots, treats for Hedwig and a potion for Lutain to aid during sheds. Rabastan went slightly further, giving him an inkwell fashioned from some sort of magical creature’s claw, and a collection of potions in small vials; most were likely questionable in content.

There was another gift, in a small box with silvery embossed paper. Once Adrian was able to see it closer, the embossing was actually a delicate peacock feather pattern.

“The Malfoy’s?” Adrian asked, glancing at Bella who shrugged and looked at the paper.

Adrian pulled it open, lifting the black lid off until he spotted the shimmering black fabric.

He pulled it out carefully, the material feeling almost like silk yet it likely was much stronger.

“Why would Malfoy’s gift me something?”

He lifted the entire mass from the box, freezing when he deciphered spidery handwriting at the very bottom.

‘You will show your worth.’

It wasn’t signed, and it didn’t need to be.

He pulled the cloth out and unfolded it, it was a cloak. The trimmings were in silver with ivory clasps akin to Death Eater masks. The tail of the cloak was in tatters, select strands touching the floor while other ratty tears only met his calf. The material was silky and chillingly cold compared to the rest of the cloak.

“Adrian,” Bellatrix spoke, voice low as she leant in to be heard, “The Dark Lord has named you as his heir,” Her lips nearly touched his ear, “ Cerastes.”

Like a viper rearing to strike, Adrian felt the thick coils of something under his skin tightening in tension.

He was out of time after all.

Chapter Text

Draco kept his word as well as the gift Adrian sent him. Adrian was rather amused with the large collections of Honeydukes chocolate courtesy of Pansy. Blaise sent a large spiraling branch from a corkwood tree (Lutain said that the aroma was positively divine). Draco gifted him an impressively thick book on advanced spellwork which was interesting, but paled to the one of a kind collection of dark spells from the Nott library itself. Hopefully each of his classmates appreciated the gilded quills he sent.

Bellatrix kept true to her word and apparated the two into the Black Family household. Something about the house felt bizarrely comforting, something deep in the inch thick dust and grime or in the cracked leather covers of ancient tomes. They left after many hours, Bellatrix apparating back and forth twice to accommodate trunks filled with handpicked books from the ceiling-tall shelves.

Returning to Hogwarts was enjoyable, although it meant he could only indulge the reading of two of his new books. Thankfully, both subjects were on Occlumency, which now was at the forefront of his mind.

The concept of Occlumency was to create mental barriers in one's mind to prevent a user of Legilimency from finding purchase and tampering with your very thoughts or memories. It seemed like it would be a difficult skill; Adrian doubted he’d be able to learn it in such a short time.

The Slytherin common rooms were just how they left it, his room rather much the same. The only exception was Theo who plastered up posters of a quidditch team Adrian didn’t recognize.

Adrian felt that in his absence over the break, his use as an information broker had become, if not public knowledge, then widely known in the snake den. His leather journal was slowly being filled with ink, listing the names and the specifics of what deals he had made and what advantages to reap.

The rest of the year was looking to be very interesting.


 

“I’m sorry but if you don’t know the password--” The Fat Lady started, her tone objectionable.

“I’m aware,” Adrian interrupted, crossing his arms behind his back. “However if you could just pass a message along for me...?”

The Fat Lady floundered, looking unsure at the other whispering portraits.

Thankfully, she didn’t have to decide as the painting swung outwards. An upper year stumbled backwards into the hole, not expecting Adrian to be standing there.

“What-- who are you? The boy stammered, before squinting at Adrian suspiciously. “Wait, are you a snake?

“Could you please get Hermione Granger for me?” Adrian said calmly. “Or perhaps you could let me inside?”

The upper year stared at Adrian like he had sprouted deer antlers. “Er, yeah. Friends with Potter right? Thought that name sounded familiar--” He murmured under his breath, before he turned and vanished back into the Gryffindor stronghold.

Adrian counted slowly. Exhaling and reigning in his temper as slowly the painting swung outwards again. “Alright, snake. Come on in. But we’re watching you!”

Adrian gave a nod of understanding as he stepped through the high lip and stumbled into the tower. It was decorated brightly with warm colours, mostly reds and golds. A bright cheery fire and well abused velvet furniture made the tower seem similar to the inside of an antiques store in Diagon Alley.

“Adrian!” Hermione bubbled, jumping up from a couch where she had been reading on her own. “Oliver said you were here but I didn’t believe it!”

Adrian gave a polite smile and awkwardly accepted her hug, then he reached into his side bag and pulled up a slender scroll of parchment. “Miss Granger, I believe I have information for you.”

Hermione’s eyes lit up and she eagerly guided him to a couch. He handed her the scroll, watching with feigned disinterest as she read over the near biography of Nicholas Flamel.

Her jaw dropped and she ran her hands through her bushy hair. “Adrian this is-- this is amazing!” Her eyes started shining with the newfound knowledge, then she chewed anxiously on her bottom lip. “Do you-- could you find out another thing for me?”

“Likely, although it may take time.”

“Do you know how to get past a Cerberus?”

Adrian paused. “A... cerberus? Are you sure it’s not a Kerberos or a Garmr?”

Hermione blinked, utterly baffled before she chewed on her lip again. “It’s... big. Really big. It has dark fur and looks like a bull terrier? But as big as a tree!”

“No snake on its tail?” Adrian asked dryly. Hermione only looked confused. “Alright, that is a Cerberus. Cerberuses have a weakness to any sort of music. It’ll cause them to fall asleep instantly.”

Hermione jumped to her feet and wrapped Adrian in a hug once more.

“Oi! Get off her!” Adrian craned his neck, only seeing red hair before he felt someone punch his cheek.

His head snapped to the side, Hermione jumped off and began to scold whoever it was who had assaulted him. Internally Adrian began a soothing mantra, trying to reign in his aggravated emotions. A small slap was nothing; a minor healing charm could fix it once he left. He had been hurt worse than this, yet the person attached to the hand wasn’t exactly helping in the circumstances.

“Ronald! This is Adrian!” Hermione scolded.

“You never said he was a slimy git too!”

“He’s helping us!” Hermione scowled. “And you can’t just attack him like-- like--”

“Like what!”

“Like an idiot!”

“Enough!” A new voice cried out, one which led all of Adrian to hiss and coil to lash and kill --

He twisted instantly; his back hunched as he curled inwards and drew his wand. His entire visage shifted from the forcibly relaxed to something wounded and vicious.

“Talk sense in her, Skylar mate.” Ron said frowning. “She’s gone and lost it.”

“I have not!

“Skylar Potter.” Adrian stood, removing his hand from his face and instead held it aloft. He forced his shoulders back in a way which seemed painful, and plastered a thin lipped smile onto his face. “I’ve heard plenty of interesting things and I do enjoy...” Adrian stood from the couch and took a few steps, shaking Skylar’s baffled outstretched hand. “ Interesting things.”

Hermione huffed. “Adrian finds out information. He helped Pavarti before the holidays with that one spell for eye-bags!”

Adrian gave a small nod, confirming the information. His eyes never left the gentle hazel mixture of somewhere in between blue and Lily’s green.

“He found this.” Hermione whispered, handing over the scroll which Skylar forcibly broke Adrian’s gaze to roll open. Skylar stared a few moments, reading Adrian’s uniquely spider-like handwriting.

Ron snatched it and squinted at the uniform small print. “Did a rat write this?”

Hermione smacked his arm.

Skylar puffed up one cheek, looking lopsided as he looked over the writing more suspiciously. “You write this, mate?”

Adrian’s hands twitched with the barely restrained urge to throttle Skylar.

“Can I get you to do my potions essay?” Ron joked, although that changed to gobsmacked when Adrian gave a curt nod.

“Ronald, Adrian deals out bets, wagers,” Hermione struggled to explain. “Deals and that sort.”

“Deals?” Skylar’s expression was more critical, and with one hand he rubbed it over the edge of his jaw under his left ear. “That sounds a bit shady there, mate. Careful who you go bargaining to.”

Adrian felt the entirely understandable urge to smack the boy just as Weasley had done before. Of course Adrian knew full well that he was dealing complicated business, there Skylar Potter to criticize his work. Skylar had everything handed to him--

“I mean, I just don’t want you getting into tough business.” Skylar interrupted roguishly, “If you do, give us a shout. A friend of Hermione’s is a friend of mine.”

--Adrian had to work for everything .

“I wouldn’t mind if he gets a bit roughed up,” Weasley muttered, still loud enough for Adrian.

Weasley didn’t know pain the way Adrian had.

“If that’s all you need, Miss Granger?” Adrian clipped stiffly, taking a few steps back to slowly glare at Hermione who blushed and shook her head. “Then I’ll take my leave. Best of luck to your ventures.”

He turned and walked as quickly as he could out of the tower, the air had begun to fill and become stiflingly hot.

He wondered for the smallest moment what it would feel like to kill the famous Skylar Potter.


 

The rest of the year drifted by almost like a Spring mist. Everyone was caught in the mindless repetition of classes and homework, studying material over and over in the shadows of looming exams, such that one day seemed to blend into the next into the next.

The upper years were quiet, strangely so, as they vanished to wherever they went to study.

And then the exams were upon them and even Adrian found himself concentrating on his studies. His occlumency was still hopeless, but he hardly had time to worry about that now. When he wasn’t studying, he and Lutain were both pressed with lethargy.

Adrian had almost forgotten entirely about Hermione and her questions until the leaving feast was upon them, when the house cup was unfairly stolen from Slytherin and awarded to Gryffindor.

Once he’d snapped out of the lethargy that accompanied exams, Adrian had worked out that the “Golden Trio”, as the rest of the school had started to refer to the three, Skylar, his pet Weasley, and Hermione Granger, had passed the Cerberus with his aid and ventured into the spelled depths of the forbidden corridor on the third floor to retrieve the Philosopher’s Stone.

Although the prize would be marvelous, the risk surrounding it was too great. Evidently it had lured something to the castle, something which had let in the troll, attacked Snape (a couple of the upper years mumbled seeing him walking with a limp) and ventured after the fabled artefact. The trio most likely were aware of the threat and acted accordingly to stop it.

Adrian mused what misguided fool would try to sneak into the castle even with Dumbledore leaving for one day.

The Great Hall was filled with the echoing chaos of whistles and clapping. All three tables rejoiced as the green banners shifted to red with flourish. Fireworks crackled in the enchanted sky overhead, illuminating the grimaces and scowls of Adrian’s housemates. He kept his own face perfectly neutral.

Adrian met with Hermione’s breathless excited eyes over the distance. Her smile grew wider and something in her eyes were warmer as well. Ronald Weasley stated something, inaudible at that distance, which distracted the witch from Adrian’s gaze.

It didn’t matter. As far as Adrian was concerned, he had established something that would linger much longer than any fool-hearted attempts to steal a relic.

Time to go home,” Lutain cheered, content enough to lounge alongside the gilded plates from the feast.

Adrian felt the same.


End of Year One

Chapter Text

Adrian’s Occlumency shields were pitiful at best. Due to the well shrouded secret of his very existence, he was not permitted to visit with a teacher who could fortify his own walls.

Which left his father as the only Legilimens between the Lestranges and the scarce number who were aware of his existence.

Adrian was rather uncomfortable with calling the shriveled, snakelike creature, who looked more like a mandrake root than an actual person, his father, but there was something about drawing closer to the Dark Lord... something which made his skull ache yet sent addictively soothing waves of sensation through his blood and left him dazed and slowly walking ever closer.

The Dark Lord’s residence felt purged of magic. Unlike the ancient noble house of Black, where dark magic oozed and bubbled from the peeling wallpaper, Adrian could scarcely feel its mark on the crown molding or the plastered ceiling.

He knew where his father was, something in his heartbeat drawing louder and yet somehow indiscernible whispers tickling the corners of his hearing. He opened the large door at the end of the stairwell, slipping inside blindly. Adrian paused, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the lack of lighting. The fireplace was in use, the flickering flames casting dancing shadows and filling the room with the smell of burning pine.

The door slid shut behind him, trapping him inside.

“My Occlumency shields are not yet in place,” Adrian murmured, trying to resist the wavering uncertainty. “I assure you, my Lord, I press to better them.”

He spotted the claw like hand curl inwards from the armrest, holding daintily a bleached wand as long as Adrian’s forearm.

There was a pause in the air.

“You see that you do,” The high pitched voice triggered a ringing buzz in Adrian’s head. “What did you address me?”

Adrian stumbled. “I- I apologize, father, It will not-“

Crucio.

His head screeched and his very nerves were alight with fire. It was a baffling sensation, through the agony of pain!pain!pain! the very sense of touch had been distorted and perverted until all that existed was the raging inferno. The smoldering burn which echoed the laughter of Suzie and the thrashing of David’s death throes.

For some illogical reason through the suffocating hell, he envisioned a single sparrow fluttering to the ground with venom in its blood.

He felt the curse release instantaneously. Blood was burning in his veins but he could feel it warm down his arms and legs, filling his fingers and toes which were contorted and cramping.

He was laying on the ground, the cloak covering his still twitching body. His throat was hoarse and raw, blood sliding down from where his tongue had been bitten through. Snot and tears made his face sticky and damp.

He gasped, the sound was humiliating yet he couldn’t prevent it. He breathed heavily, on the verge of sobbing as each joint and socket moaned out in its of suffering. It took him too long to rise to his knees, longer still to manage a crawling position.

“Come here.”

Adrian didn’t dare resist. He dragged himself over the floor slowly, collapsing at one point, his limbs leaden and his fingers trembling violently. He kept moving, forcing himself to crawl, until he reached the large chair and the skeletal homunculus sitting with its talon-edged feet just above Adrian.

Adrian whimpered, his eyesight blurring at the sides, his eyelids drooping before his sluggish thoughts could force them open again. A clawed hand touched Adrian’s head and he whimpered again, shaking and forcing himself not to flinch away.

It continued, Adrian couldn’t stop the tears from cascading or the pathetic sounds from escaping his throat.

“I expect you to do better,” the homunculus said, continuing with its mockery of human affection. “You know what happens if I am…displeased.”

“Yes father,” Adrian whimpered, eyes sliding shut once again.

It continued for a while. His father spoke a few times, stating spells that Adrian evidently would have to master the next time he came in, or at least have Bella teach him.

There was a strange part of Adrian that always seemed to intuitively know what his father was feeling. It was alarming to suspect his father was content with running his claws through Adrian’s hair. Even more so to suspect his father would miss his company.

It was after all, just a speculation.


 

Rabastan pulled out vials and began checking the labels on the side, he returned it and continued on when not finding the desired potion.

Adrian was back at the Lestrage household, sitting pathetically on a corner of a long cracked leather couch in the main sitting room. Rodulphus was arguing with his wife, who was too perplexed to quite understand the situation.

“I never had any potions!” Bellatrix argued, “The boy doesn’t need any!”

“Because you certainly ended up sane from cruciatus curses.” Rodulphus argued, splaying out one hand towards Adrian, “He’s eleven!”

“So!”

“He’ll result in nerve damage or almost as crazy as you!”

Bellatrix huffed, casting an eye at the curled form of Adrian, who wasn’t entirely lucid.

Lutain was curled protectively nearby, watching his master with unease.

Adrian himself looked wretched, his skin was pale and nearly see through in areas where it was naturally thinner. His eyes were glazed, large patches of red from where capillaries had burst on his cornea. His lips were stained red where blood still oozed down his chin, and throughout all of that his legs and arms still flailed uncontrollably from the muscle contractions and further spasms.

Rabastan finally found the proper potion and pulled it out; Adrian’s eyes flickered to it. The younger reached upwards, trying to grasp the vial yet the violent trembling of his fingers left any coordination impossible.

“None of that,” Rabastan grunted, grabbing Adrian’s jaw and pushing the vial between bloody lips, “The bugger bit his tongue too.”

“I can heal it!” Bellatrix chirped, only for Rodulphus to argue, “You’ll fuse his tongue to his mouth!”

Adrian let out a low keening noise, which Lutain tensed to hear.

“I still don’t get why it’s such a big deal,” Bellatrix huffed, “He’s gotten the curse before-“

Adrian violently turned, arching backwards and twisting. He managed eventually, his pained actions ordering silence from the three caregivers in the room. Once his back was facing outwards, and his eyes closed against the back of the couch, the three left the room.

“I will protect you, master.” Lutain swore, poking and prodding Adrian’s back with his blunt snout.

He felt comfort in the title, somehow finding satisfaction and stability in the fact that if he was unable to decide his own fate, he at least held power over something.

The spell, it was damnation. It was power.

Something from the events from earlier didn’t seem to exactly line up. From his understanding, his father held servants under the curse for much longer than Adrian. Multiple castings were common, Bellatrix had confessed the first time Adrian had experienced the spell, that she once had upwards of six individual castings in a single meeting.

Adrian had blatantly failed his orders for accomplishing Occlumancy, yet he had only one significantly short curse.

Perhaps his father was trying to teach him something after all.


 

He had received letters from Theo alongside Draco, although he suspected the latter was just formalities. Theo’s letter had been lengthy, highly speculative about the new Defense Against the Dark Art’s teacher.

Adrian had immediately looked into the matter, reading only two of the assigned books (which were in fact Gilderoy Lockhart’s complete collection) before summarizing that it was all gargoyle rubbish.

There were clear contradictions in the stories, along with simple facts that were impossible due to the time frame of events in the other books. He had pointed out the flaws to Bellatrix, who sniffed once and reduced his book to purple smoke. It even smelt pompous and extravagant.

The destruction of one of his required books meant that he was now forced to purchase another copy, which Bellatrix relented and agreed to pay for herself.

Another matter had come up, something which led to a certain amount of dread as Adrian followed closely behind Bella through the streets of Knockturn.

With Adrian’s naming, Bellatrix had explained that it was now implied that he must be marked. Not a Dark Mark, which would be too obvious, but something relatively similar.

Nagini was a gorgeous snake, her patterns and her scales were dazzling and according to Lutain, her shed was always smooth. It didn’t surprise Adrian when Bellatrix informed him that Nagini herself would be plastered under the surface of his skin.

Bellatrix admitted that she was not familiar with any sort of permanent marking or inking spells, which led them to pushing through the streets of Knockturn to the well-known parlor Markus Scarrs Indelible Tattoos. Adrian wasn’t excited, and with a false cool exterior he entered the store after Bellatrix.

It was ramshack like almost all of Knockturn, the floorboards had thin gaps between them, everything else was aged slightly grey. The man behind the counter looked at them, he had a series of porcupine quills protruding from his scalp instead of hair.

“Well well,” The man spoke, his voice deceptively hoarse, “If it isn’t Mrs. Lestrange herself.”

Bellatrix flashed a somewhat crazy grin and pushed Adrian forward, “You’re going to mark this boy, and with the spelled ink.”

The porcupine blinked, “Ain’e a bit young?”

Bellatrix beamed, “Nope!”

The man shrugged and walked out from around his counter, looking at Adrian with a critical eye, “Wha’ kind of spell again?”

“The portrait spell, and enchantments for movements and physical interaction.” Bellatrix rattled off, causing the man to lift one eyebrow- thankfully with actual hair.

“Painting you a pretty lady, eh?” The porcupine winked, eying up Adrian with a lewd grin.

“A snake,” Adrian deadpanned, eyes glinting sharply, “Like her arm.”

The man paused, looking seriously at Bellatrix who now was twirling her wand, “Get out.”

“Oh don’t be daft,” Bellatrix huffed, walking over to sit harshly on a three legged stool near an archaic looking tattoo chair, “He’s not actually getting it. He just wants a snake like it. I can provide memory reference,” She tailed off, watching as the porcupine man gulped and eyed Bellatrix’s wand carefully.

“Come here, boy,” The man grunted, yanking Adrian over to the archaic chair, “Ruddy well get it over with.”

Bellatrix hummed, pressing her wand to her skull and pulling out a thin strand of something from her temple. Adrian watched in fascination as the man pulled out a single needle apparatus with an open vial at the top. The silvery liquid slid into the needle, and the porcupine tapped the side.

“Right,” He coughed, “How big?”

Bellatrix grinned and held her fingers two inches apart, “This is it’s head.”

The man’s eyes bulged, gasping and staring at Adrian who already was silently removing his shirt.

“Are you bonkers! The boy is a birch tree!” Porcupine argued, “It’d be as long as his leg!”

“That’s why you’re going to give it a physical interaction and movement!” Bellatrix snapped, pointing the wand at the man.

The man gulped, and slowly casted something under his breath on the hollow needle. He casted a few more spells, continuing until the very tip of the metal changed to the silver colour itself.

Without any other words, he leant forward and pressed it into Adrian’s skin.

It hurt, only like an annoying tingle under his skin. It spread from the needle point, glowing silver across his chest and over one shoulder, looping low and across his ribs before its tail continued down his thigh out of sight.

It slowly faded, and from the fading scales began to rise, pressing outwards and filling like Nagini herself was rising from his bones. It blinked awake, flickering its tongue and peering outwards attentively towards Bellatrix.

“There,” The Porcupine swallowed, shifting and pulling out a shrunken canvas. He enlarged it, before pressing the needle against the fabric and tinting the material black. “And here’s your portrait.”

Bellatrix accepted the canvas, and looked at Adrian expectantly.

Adrian looked down at his chest where Nagini was slithering up and investigating his collarbone, “Nagini, go to the picture.”  

The porcupine man gasped and spluttered in growing horror. The snake turned, looking as if it was somehow going underwater. Its picture warped and gradually vanished, until its tail slid inside the ripple and it was entirely gone from Adrian’s skin.

It slithered into view in the portrait, peering around once more, and giving a loud hiss towards Porcupine.

Bellatrix smiled, and Adrian quietly slid his shirt back on.

“Thank you!” Bellatrix chimed, jumping upright without offering any sort of payment to the man, Adrian didn’t think that he would expect it anyways.

Once outside, Bellatrix passed him a few galleons, more than enough to replace the one book, and apparated him to the entrance of Diagon Alley.

“I’ll be back in an hour,” Bellatrix waved, before she vanished from sight with a jarring crack.

Adrian stepped into the crowded streets, finding the situation very similar to last year. He wished that he had brought Lutain, but his familiar had eaten a rather large breakfast and was unable to move quickly for the rest of the day.

He moved towards the bookstore, almost immediately feeling that something was wrong with the building.

It was unsettling, he leant to the side, one hand holding him balanced as he stared off and tried to pinpoint what it was that was making him so uneasy.

“Adrian!”

Adrian snapped his head around, looking at the rather baffled but uncomfortably smiling face of Hermione.

Adrian started over towards her, not quite comprehending still the situation.

“Pleasure seeing you once more,” Adrian nodded, looking over her shoulder to see why she was so anxious-

-right as a younger girl’s cauldron flew across the floor and an elder red haired man tackled Lucius Malfoy into a bookshelf.

Dozens of heavy spell books came falling down on their heads; there was a collective yell of, “Get him, Dad!” from two twins Adrian’s elders; assumedly his wife shrieking, “No, Arthur, no!”; the crowd stampeded backwards and knocked more shelves to the ground.

“Break it up, here, gents, break it up-“

Now it was a large man, Hogwart’s Groundkeeper if Adrian recalled correctly, waded inwards through the sea of collapsed books and in an instant, managed to pull Lucius Malfoy and who he assumed as Mr. Weasley, apart.

Mr. Weasley had a cut lip and Lucius was starting to develop a dark spot on his forehead.

He was still holding a Transfiguration book; he thrust it out at the younger red haired girl and spat “Here, girl- take your book- it’s the best your father can give you-“

He turned and with as much dignity as he could spare he beckoned for Draco, who was rather humiliated as default, and they left the shop.

“Yeh should’ve ignored him, Arthur,” The gamekeeper grumbled, shaking his head morosely, “Rotten ter the core, the whole family, every-one knows that- no Malfoy’s worth listenin’ ter- bad blood, that’s what it is- slimy Slytherins ter all-“

Adrian cleared his throat, drawing attention from the gamekeeper who looked curious.

Hermione gasped in alarm and flushed quickly, “I’m sure Hagrid didn’t mean that, Adrian! Not all Slytherins are bad! I mean, you-“ She cut off quickly, thoroughly embarrassed.

“You’re that Slytherin-“

“-the broker-“

“-can you give us a deal?” The two twins spun, looking at Adrian interestedly, while their mother scolded them loudly.

“Possibly,” Adrian started slowly, “Although terms will have to be set later.”

The two twins beamed and grinned wickedly. Adrian gave a polite smile and looked back at Hermione who was comforting two adults who looked rather spooked.

“Adrian! These are my parents!” She hurried to introduce, “They’re new to this magic thing!”

“Muggles?” Adrian tested, trying not to wince or think on all experiences he’d suffered due to muggles, “A pleasure to meet you.”

They smiled and thanked him, exchanging utter nonsense with him before the group realized they were to meet someone else outside of Gringotts.

They hurried out, filing around and the manager of the store looked like he wanted to stop them. It was thoroughly amusing.

“Do I know yeh?” Hagrid suddenly rumbled, squinting down at Adrian with a confused expression.

“I don’t think so,” Adrian blinked, “Was the Cerberus from last year yours? I heard he had a beautiful pelt.”

The man’s face lit up instantly and he seemed embarrassed, “Yeh, Fluffy jus’ ‘ad a couple Hornworms e’ery week!”

Adrian nodded, “Wonderful to hear that your Cerberus was well taken care of. I have a familiar, he’s fairly picky with his food, do you perhaps have a good supply of mice or rats? The ones from Diagon over Owl Delivery are sometimes,” Adrian grimaced, “Picked over.”

Hagrid nodded solemnly, “Aye, ruddy job they do, ‘ead down to my ‘ut and we’ll talk!” He beamed and waded out of the store through the books.

Arian paused- the strange sensation had vanished.

And he still needed the replacement book Bella destroyed

Chapter Text

Summer vanished all too quickly. The last month of the summer hols was quickly disappearing with daily duels with Bella, studies to increase his spell vocabulary, as well as hours each day to improve his occlumency.

His occlumency was progressing at a steady rate. The concept of Occlumency on its own was difficult, however when he focused on it alongside using the liquid magic in his blood, it created a thin layer, an almost electric barrier around his thoughts. Building that first wall was the most difficult, but now he had to construct enough to prevent a full mental assault.

The added benefit of managing to clear his mind was that it was the first step of achieving his Animagus form. He hadn’t the time to actually brew the potion, although given Rabastan’s strange sources he could likely obtain the potion for a hefty sum.

The Nagini tattoo wriggled under his flesh, it was a surreal sensation since he could feel each of the muscles tensing and flexing under the muscle of his back. He sometimes watched in a mirror as the skin seemed to split open and the snake slid out of the ‘hole’. It would do laps around the length of his body, down one leg before backtracking up and around his neck and shoulders, then it would sink below the skin again; he could feel it moving inside his wrist.

At last it was time to return to Hogwarts. Hedwig screeched and glared with her falcon eyes as Adrian crammed her into a small cage and strapped the cage to a trolley, available just outside the floo point.

The Hogwarts Express loomed large. Billowing clouds of white steam covered the platform. There was a tension in the air, a mixture of anxious shouts and excited squeals of students both eager and not to return to school.

Since Adrian couldn’t take a compartment for himself, he instead took a seat next to a now fourth year Slytherin. He had helped this boy the year before with charming an owl into sunshine yellow.

They didn’t speak to each other, except once the other Slytherin left due to the urging of a Ravenclaw girl. The compartment slid shut and Adrian relaxed.

You can come out now, Lutain. Adrian smiled, watching as his familiar slid out of a notch in the side of his trunk. Lutain had grown over the summer, filling out into what was likely his full length. Lutain was long, but thin, having a sinuous and lithe body.

Was there someone here? Lutain asked, scenting the air near where the other boy had sat.

Only a student and he’s gone,” Adrian assured, smiling at his familiar who yawned wide.

I had a warm nap. Very nice, very warm,” Lutain emphasized, looking directly at Adrian, “You could always make me warm.”

But then you wouldn’t hang around my neck like a living scarf,” Adrian teased. Lutain gave a low guttural hiss, something similar to a snort.

Master I am scales not creature-skins .”

Actually I’m wearing cotton, which Is a plant .”

Lutain flicked his tongue closer, tasting the edge of his robe which neared the snake’s body. “I do not like vegetables .”

Adrian failed to stifle a rather unappealing snort, although Lutain seemed very pleased with himself.

The compartment door clicked loudly in warning before sliding open. Adrian looked up at the same red haired girl who he had seen in the bookstore.

“Oh, sorry.” She blinked and looking close to tears. “I was-- sorry--“

“It’s no problem,” Adrian soothed, gesturing for her to come inside. “You’re upset. Tell me what’s wrong.”

She sniffed and balled her hands into little fists, her eyes were filled with determination as she pushed her hair behind one ear. “I-- I can’t find my brother and, and we were running late--“

“Your brother, he’s a Weasley?”

The girl nodded. “Yeah, my name is Ginny.” She hesitated a beat, almost unnoticeably. “You were at the Flourish and Blotts?”

Adrian nodded. “Hermione and I have made a few deals, nothing to concern yourself over. Which brother is this?”

“Ron,” she explained, “And, and Skylar Potter.”

Adrian tried very carefully to not have his face twitch.

Ginny also took the moment to scream as she noticed Lutain, weaving between Adrian’s feet. She yanked herself backwards on the seat, pulling her knees to her chest in alarm.

“That’s Lutain,” Adrian introduced. “He’s my familiar, he won’t hurt you. He’s very docile.”

Lutain, now proficient with verbal English obliged and coiled non threateningly around Adrian’s leg.

“Now, Skylar Potter is very important, so nothing bad will happen to him and your brother.” Adrian assured. “You can stay here with me if you like?”

Ginny shook her head. “Thank you, but I have a seat with Hermione--“

Adrian nodded and absentmindedly reached out with the magic in his blood, bored for now. He tensed when he felt the same abnormality as he felt in the book shop, which meant that--

“Do you have something in your pocket?”

His voice must have changed, because Ginny instantly looked suspicious and alarmed. Her hand flew to her front right pocket, her hand folding over against the rough shape of--

Well, it was hardly unexpected that she had a book with her. She was just a scared firstie. She probably had a copy of Hogwarts: A History in her robe. That was hardly unique to her. Adrien remembered overhearing Hermione mentioning random facts from the book prior to their own Sorting last year.

“Never mind,” Adrian said. He offered her a smile. “I was thinking of something else. Best of luck to yourself and your brother.”

Ginny nodded and scampered away rather quickly.

The strange cooing sensation lingered a bit longer before it too faded.


 

Adrian didn’t see Ronald Weasley or Skylar Potter at the Welcome Feast that night. He did however hear the most baffling story of a flying car. The next morning that story was confirmed true, in the form of a bright red Howler.

A roar of sound filled the huge hall, shaking dust from the ceiling which thankfully did not land in any food and for a minute it was so loud that Adrian couldn’t pick out any actual words.

“--Stealing the car, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they’d expelled you, you wait until I get a hold of you, I don’t suppose you stopped to think what your father and I went through when we saw it was gone--“

Mrs. Weasley’s voice seemed to be amplified many times over until the shrill woman could rattle the spoons and glasses of milk and pumpkin juice on the tables.

Adrian smiled and buttered his toast.

“--Letter from Dumbledore last night, I thought your father would die of shame, we didn’t bring you up to behave like this, you and Skylar could have died--“

Adrian almost laughed when he spotted Skylar slink lower in his seat. Draco let out a barely audible laugh.

“--Absolutely disgusted! Your father's now facing an inquiry at work and it's entirely your fault! If you put another toe out of line we’ll bring you straight back home!”

There was a loud ringing silence as the last word echoed off the stone walls. Then the howler burst into flames and curled into small ashes which landed in Ron’s porridge.

Adrian gently clicked his spoon against a glass cup, the sound loud and triggering a collection of snickers up and down the table.

What if Master’s father sent such loud paper?” Lutain hissed, thoroughly amused although not looking to have understood everything in the Howler.

Adrian tried very hard not to think about it, but ultimately fell into snickers. He threw an apple at Draco whose jaw had dropped, having witnessed such a strange sight.


 

Transfiguration classes consisted of transforming a beetle into a button. Adrian waited patiently and timed his well, only when Daphne, the resident expert in transfiguration, managed to complete the change, did Adrian allow himself to do the same.

He had already been changing paper scraps into rats.

Defense Against the Dark Arts was indescribable.

Adrian was in utter shock when their new teacher, Lockhart, handed out a lengthy test filled with questions ranging from the most self-absorbed information ( What Is Gilderoy Lockhart's favourite food?) to downright ridiculous.

Then, to top the class, the man had launched into a speech about how he was prepared to reveal to them their deepest darkest fears within the walls of the classroom.

Millicent was shaking with laughter by the time he was done.

“Behold!” He shouted dramatically. With a flourish, pulling a sparkling blue cloth from a large cage. “Cornish Pixies!”

Draco arched his eyebrow. “Pixies, sir?”

Lockhart nodded solemnly, not understanding the expressions of disbelief on Crabbe and Goyle’s face and misinterpreted it as fear.

“Yes, Cornish Pixies, a truly heartless creature.” He dramatically inhaled. “Let’s see how you fare!”

Adrian scrambled to his feet as the small vicious blue creatures flew out in dizzying speeds. Lutain perked up, hissing and jerking his head wildly as too many creatures buzzed by for him to understand the heat signatures.

“Don’t bite,” Adrian bit out, snatching his wand and pointing it into the swarm. “Incendio.”

He could have done it silently or wandlessly, but he didn’t want to reveal his abilities with the media hound that was their new teacher.

A pixie let out a garbled cry as its wings burnt up and it landed on the floor. Millicent jumped over a desk and stomped the creature like a bug.

Draco used a freezing charm to get three of the pixies in the air at once. The creatures were moving in slow motion, Daphne easily snatched them and shoved them back in the cage.

“That’s it!” Lockhart shouted eagerly, not taking a single step to actually help them. “Just like that! I’d do it myself, but--“ He let out a loud chuckle, which grated on Adrian’s nerves.

“Git,” Theo grunted, ducking nearby under a desk as one pixie snatched an inkwell and flung it his direction. “He wouldn’t know a single spell I bet!”

String him up like lights,” Lutain hissed eagerly, spitting and hissing loudly enough to prevent pixies from getting too close to Adrian.

Adrian smiled and stared at Lockhart, focusing and exhaling slowly as his blood sang. Lockhart cried out suddenly as he was yanked upwards by invisible hands; he swung from the chandelier.

Adrian sent another pixie on fire. Theo and Blaise followed his example, lighting the small creature until the room was filled with gibberish shouting fireballs.

The clock struck, signaling the end of class. The Slytherins made a calculated retreat from the room, leaving Lockhart shouting for help with the assault of the remaining pixies.

If one of them accidentally lit him on fire, it certainly wasn’t Adrian’s fault.


 

Draco had boasted rather readily that his father had funded the Slytherin House team, supplying the team with new brooms for the upcoming Quidditch season.

Adrian himself hadn’t flown on a broom since he was young, very young in fact, and had no desire to do so again.

Draco had been pleased that he had been awarded the position of Seeker on the Slytherin team by Marcus Flint.  Not only that, he had Pansy check out the Gryffindor Quidditch post times and gotten a signed letter from Snape, giving the team permission to take the field directly during Gryffindor practice times.

Adrian had looked at Draco flatly as the blond fool told Adrian of the plans. Draco had, after all, waved goodbye to the element of surprise the new brooms would’ve afforded them. In a dry voice, Adrian had asked, “Aren’t you taking this rivalry too far?”

“It’s never too far!”

They had returned after the practice, everyone much too pleased with themselves for just kicking off Gryffindor.

“What happened?” Theo asked eagerly, obviously sensing something different in the air.

“Weasley spelled himself!” Draco laughed. “You should have seen it! The idiot was belching slugs!”

Adrian looked at Draco in amazement. “ Weasley? As in, Ronald Weasley?” Draco nodded, snickering. “Considering he’s already on a tight leash, what in Merlin’s name did you say to get him that angry?”

Draco’s expression darkened. “The Granger girl said I bought my way onto the team!” Draco bit sharply. “I told her that she’s a filthy mudblood and--“

Adrian raised a hand, “You called her a mudblood?”

Theo let out a low whistle.

“Draco,” Adrian tried not to laugh. “I think Granger may call in a deal if she’s that upset. Or maybe Weasley--“

“He’s poor!” Draco squawked.

“You know I don’t only deal in gold.”

Adrian’s grin was spreading. Draco scowled and stood up and stomped to his room, leaving Theo staring at Adrian in speculation. “You would curse him, wouldn’t you?”

Adrian shrugged. “Someone needs to show him his place.”

Against Adrian’s expectations, neither of the two approached him. So instead he focused on his Occlumency shields; the four walls of defense were still developing but he was getting there.

The animagus potion was the true thing that had drawn his attention. To Owl Order it pre-made from Knockturn Alley was seven galleons, but he only had four to spare since business had been rather slow.  He was walking in populated areas to get to class, hopeful that his presence would give someone the motivation to address him but nobody came his way and it was infuriating.

Adrian spent some time on the covered bridge after sunset. It was getting colder once again signaling winter was well on it’s way. It was also a good place to clear his mind and reign in emotional control behind the barriers he was creating.

He hadn’t found the strange sensation around Ginny. It had mysteriously vanished. He still had no idea what it was that could affect him so strongly yet no other, but it was almost always on his constant mind.

Lutain shivered under his robe, tightening against the cold.

“Let’s go inside,” Adrian sighed, turning and leaving the darkness of the covered bridge for the safety of the castle.

He was passing nearby the classrooms when he heard something strange, something whispery but foreign.

Master?” Lutain hissed, poking his head out and scenting the air quickly. “Master there is something big.”

“What?” Adrian mumbled, walking closer to the wall and listening harder. “What is it?”

I don’t know- -“

Come…Come to me …”

Adrian flinched, head jerking back from the stone wall. His hands fluttered over the stone, trying to figure out where the old feminine voice was coming from. Lutain was scenting wildly; he too could not figure it out.

“… Let me rip you …”

“Where is it?” Adrian mumbled, eyes flickering over the shadows the torches casted. Was it a python? It sounded as big as Nagini for sure.

“… Let me tear you …”

Adrian glanced up and down the hallway, there wasn’t anyone actually approaching.

Serpent!” Adrian hissed as loudly as he dared, still trying to figure out how this creature was managing to avoid him so adeptly. “Answer my call!

“… Let me kill you …”

The voice was faint. It trailed off and the hallway felt suddenly much colder than it had been before.

Adrian waited, sinking to the ground in disbelief and staring at the wall in front of him. He felt a vague sense of loss-- he was confident that whatever it was would yield to him. Did it not hear him?

Master, I do not scent it .” Lutain flickered his tongue uneasy. “ Only wet earth .”

Adrian leant forward, pressing his forehead against the stone just shy of a torch sconce.

What was that?


Click Here to see the fanart I hastily drew for the Second Year, featuring Adrian and the basilisk. (The fanart is more applicable for the later years of Hogwarts)

Chapter Text

October drew nearer and the dampness around the Slytherin dungeons seemed ever more present. Even within the common room, with the sight of the great lake above them, the humidity and condensation seemed that much more present. The hissing green hearth-fires couldn’t quite stave off the bite of the chill, made all the worse by the tiny collections of icicles adhered to the edges of the enchanted ceiling.

Madam Pomfrey began handing out potions to any student who succumbed to a chill or cold. The elder Slytherin’s able to brew the potions themselves rented out the NEWT potions lab to brew them in mass production. Soon the entire common room was a fair trade of billowing steam from student’s ears and the sharp spice of pepper.

The most interesting commotion in Adrian’s venture to find the hissing voice was nearly being crushed by Peeves, the resident Poltergeist, who managed to drop a large cabinet and smash it just short of crushing students.

Lutain took to late night treks across the castle in search for the voice, allowing Adrian to stay up late into the night practicing his Occlumency, in which he was becoming quite proficient. His new night owl status caused Theo to become desperate-- he had resorted to conjuring bluebirds to wake him for classes.

The others discovered that Adrian’s dark hair, almost blue hued in the light, sported a massive bed head when he didn’t have time for vanity. A cowlick large enough for a crow to roost on.

The Halloween feast came around and once more the tall thestrals stood guard over the pumpkins, nearly the size of a garden shed. Lockhart seemed oblivious to the creatures and instead told an exaggerated story with a large turkey drumstick as a prop. The skeletal creatures watched the meat hungrily and followed it with their heads. It seemed odd that a man who had experienced so much, had yet to witness death firsthand.

Pansy noticed that the entire golden trio seemed to be missing from the table, something she announced loudly for everyone to hear.

The others were quickly distracted by the Weasley Twin’s contest of how many pumpkin pasties they could stuff into their mouth at one time.

“Disgusting,” Draco grunted, sipping his grape juice with exaggerated daintiness to emphasise that at least he had class. The obvious reference to sipping Pureblood chilled wine was quickly abandoned in favor of the spiced pumpkin juice.

The feast ended with a loud choir formed of enchanted jack-o-lanterns, with bats billowing out from the orange faces to fly tornados above the student’s heads. Theatrics were always pleasant; it reminded Adrian of the time Bellatrix had a bat become entangled in her wild hair.

The students filed out once the last of the entertainment ended. With the low rumble of hundreds of footsteps on stone and the hubbub of voices echoing off the hallway, they walked in small groups through the halls. Theo was entertaining the group of Draco, Crabbe, Goyle, Pansy, and Adrian himself with a tale of when his owl retrieved a real vampire bat and left it in his bedroom.

With little warning or little logic, the hoard suddenly stopped and grew quiet. Draco frowned and started to jump, attempting to see up over the heads of taller students and find out why the crowd had stopped and was now dead quiet.

Adrian sighed and spotted a nearby stocky Slytherin; the boy in question cleared a path and allowed the group to squeeze between tightly packed bodies.

There was blood on the wall. Glittering and shimmering in the haunted lighting. It had been written-- arced sloppily into bold letters--

The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of the Heir beware.

Adrian felt his jaw slacking. To make the scene even more perplexing, a stiffened cat hung from a torch bracket, maybe somewhere in the state of rigor mortis. It certainly looked dead to Adrian.

All of this was behind the Golden Trio.

At least everyone knew where they had been during the feast. Practicing dark arts or necromantic sacrifices? Adrian had to give them credit, he didn’t think they had it in them.

“Enemies of the Heir, beware!” Draco suddenly shouted, breaking the shocked silence that had fallen over the students. Malfoy’s voice seemed that much louder because no-one else had dared make a sound. “You’ll be next, mudbloods!”

Adrian shot his head around to stare at Draco in unrestrained shock, was the boy a complete idiot? Malfoy’s complexion was fixed with a rosy flush, his face split with an excited grin as he eyed the cat.

The Chamber of Secrets?

What was happening?

“What’s going on here!” A loud angry voice shouted as the unmistakably voice and body of Filch shoved his way through the crowd. He spotted the cat and he stumbled backwards; his hands curled inwards to his chest and trembled in dismay. “My cat! My cat! What’s happened to Mrs. Norris!” He shrieked, and his eyes fell on the very guilty sight of Skylar Potter.

The cat was Filch’s? Adrian hadn’t ever spent time with the man, normally only Gryffindors were granted his company.

“You!” He screeched, hand pointing threateningly at the horrified Chosen One. “You! You’ve murdered my cat! You’ve killed her! I’ll kill you! I’ll--“

“Oh please,” Pansy snickered under her breath. “I’d love to watch that fight.”

“Argus!” Dumbledore had appeared, followed by a number of teachers who split the crowd to press against each wall of the passageway. “Come with me, Argus, and you Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley, and Miss Granger.”

Draco grinned as the four turned to walk away, only for Lockhart to stumble into the way with his bright velvet robes in an unsettling tone of pumpkin orange.

“My office is nearest, Headmaster-- just upstairs-- please feel free--“

“Thank you, Gilderoy,” Dumbledore nodded and the entourage mournfully walked away, Filch clutching his stiffened cat in his arms.

“Two galleons that Granger did it,” one slytherin piped up with a grin. “Those puffskeins don’t know a spell to stun a butterfly.”

“You think a mudblood would write that?” One asked in disgust. “You’re denser than the Weasley if you think that.”

“Oi! It would be a good cover! Nobody would suspect her!” The first boy defended.

The sudden interchanging of hushed suspicions and rumours filled the passageway with the susurrus of many voices. By the time the mob had diverged into specified houses, dozens of ideas and rumours were circulating.

The “attack” seemed to rattle everyone in the castle, even Slytherins grew wary of the other houses. Students and Prefects started approaching Adrian almost constantly, asking him for information about the attack. Most students wanted some sort of spell or object that would keep them safe from this invisible attacker.

Adrian also hadn’t seen Hermione around the castle, which was strange considering she would most likely seek him out to find out what she didn’t know. She had disappeared almost completely. Speaking to her house was useless; no Gryffindors were willing to talk with a Slytherin with tensions running so high.

The school in itself seemed to be avoiding Skylar. Whispers were being exchanged rapidly with no control or intended target.

‘He’s been trained by Dumbledore since he was very young..’

‘He vanquished You-Know-Who, maybe like this-‘

‘Better stay away from him-‘

‘He’ll be after you next-’

Adrian found most of the ideas hilarious. The mental image of Skylar Potter trying to avoid Bellatrix’s playdates nearly left him hysterical.

After cashing in two deals, one with the Pavarti Gryffindor girl, Adrian finally found Hermione. Granted, she approached him outright, which made the two deals he cashed in entirely useless much to his own irritation.

Adrian hadn’t know that it was common knowledge that he liked to watch the sunset when able from the northernmost covered bridge. A guilty pleasure, he supposed.

“Adrian,” she greeted, looking thoroughly miffed and irritated by everything around. “I need to borrow a book.”

“What a pleasant night it is,” Adrian started,completely ignoring her request and rudeness. “What a wonderful sunset; all of those colours remind me of Lockhart’s terrible wardrobe--“

“Do you have Hogwarts: A History?” She asked, lacking the concept of subtlety. She must have been desperate if she was asking for a book Adrian was almost positive she already owned.

Hermione approached him, crossing her arms with an impatient glance.

Adrian was taken aback by her exhaustion, she elaborated tiredly. “All of the copies have been taken out, and there’s a two-week waiting list.”

“I’m surprised you didn’t bring your own copy.”

She didn’t ask how he knew she owned it. “There wasn’t enough space with all of Lockhart’s books.”

Adrian snorted and Hermione whacked him on the side.

“Alright alright,” Adrian held up his hands in defense. “Why do you want that book?”

She looked surprised, “The same reason as everyone else wants it: to read up on the legend of the Chamber of Secrets.”

Adrian blinked slowly. As much as people had been talking about it, Adrian shamefully knew next to nothing about it.  “What is it? Specifics, not rumors.”

“That’s just it, I can’t remember.” Hermione bit her lip. “And I can’t find the story anywhere else--“

Adrian lifted his hand and frowned, thinking. The Chamber of Secrets, somehow it felt familiar but he couldn’t recall--

“I’m calling in my debt,” Adrian stated, holding out his wand which Hermione tentatively took; she gasped when the flare of heat snaked up her arm, leaving it tingling.

“Don’t tell your classmates where I’m going to take you and of what happens.”

Hermione looked confused but nodded. Adrian turned on his heel, already starting to walk down the bridge back into the castle. He took the first downward staircase, already starting the trek.

They continued further and further until Hermione recognized where the troll had chased them the year before. She gasped and pointed at a specific suit of armor, dented slightly on its metallic surface. Adrian didn’t even glance in the direction.

Adrian found the small snake in the wall, eying them indifferently until  he clearly stated “Purple Heather.”

The wall started to move with the sound of stone grinding on stone, pulling back on some hidden, probably magical hinge. Adrian stepped inside the entryway, nearly leaving Hermione scrambling to follow inside. It was late enough at night that the room wasn’t too overpopulated, although the low buzz of conversations abruptly halted.

They stared at Hermione each with varying levels of distaste and outlandish surprise.

“What the--” One started, jaw dropping into an unfortunately ugly expression.

“What’s the mud--“ Draco started, springing upwards from a couch on the right with an accusing finger already pointed in their direction.

“Is Carmen in?” Adrian interrupted, rolling his shoulders and feeling one crack under the movement. “Someone find Carmen.”

One fifth year vanished up the staircase, poking her head into one room and calling for the person in question.

Adrian spoke louder. “Carmen! I’m calling in our deal!”

The room was quiet once again, a few people looking forward eagerly.

“What in Merlin’s name...” A fourth year groaned, “How did the kid get Carmen to make one of those bloody deals?”

“Reckon it was for something good? If not I’m cursing that mudblood out myself,” someone else muttered.

Hermione noticeably shrank behind Adrian, her hand shaking on her wand.

Carmen popped her head out and around the doorframe of the upstairs room. She blinked in surprise, arched one eyebrow, and looked at Hermione. “You brought a Lion?”

“Ignore her,” Adrian said. “I’ll get one of you in their common room sometime.”

One student whooped loudly at the idea of sabotaging the Gryffindors in their own home.

“You know where the common room is and you’ve been holding out on us?” Carmen pouted, then sighed. “Of course you do. Should have told us after they took our Cup last year.”

Adrian offered his wand, at this point most people knew the drill. Carmen walked down the steps, reaching out without hesitation to grasp the end.Her lip twitched slightly, signifying she felt the magic race along her arm.

“Alright kid, what do you want?” She said, crossing her arms yet thankfully not addressing the terrified Gryffindor behind him. Carmen was significantly more lenient compared to the recently graduated Vaisley.

“She’s under a deal,” Adrian pointed over his shoulder at Hermione. “And you’re the Prefect. You’re almost as much as a bookworm as her--”

There were a few mumbles of agreement, causing Carmen to flush although not in embarrassment.

Adrian lifted his chin slightly, jutting it outwards unconsciously similar to Draco. “Tell us the story of the Chamber of Secrets.”

There was a low whistle from a sixth year.

All of them?” Carmen pouted, looking put out, “Come on, kid--”

“Do it Carmen,” One laughed. “You’re lucky more aren’t back yet.”

She grumbled something under her breath, stalking across the room to grab a chair from an unoccupied desk.

On cue, chairs and couches rotated or in one case, levitated to form a circle around the exasperated Carmen.

“You’re a real menace, you know that?” Carmen huffed, sitting backwards on her chair and resting her chin on her forearm. Adrian motioned for Daphne to slide to the side of  her couch to accommodate two more.

Hermione, still rather scared was totally absorbed in what Carmen was about to say.

“Alright fine,” she started, turning to try an address everyone. “As you all know or better know by now, Hogwarts was founded over a thousand years ago by two witches and two wizards. The four worked together to build the castle and in honor each of the houses are named after the founders: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and our own noble house, Salazar Slytherin.”

The Slytherins broke into cheers, a startling amount of noise for roughly thirty people in the misshapen circle. The display of house pride was unexpected to Hermione, generally Slytherins were composed and rather aristocratic in public.

“Settle down!” Carmen shouted annoyed. “Or I’m quitting now! The legend goes on something like this: as time went on and the little details were picked out, Slytherin stuck to his own ideas. Slytherin wanted to be more selective about students and that all magical teachings should only be taught to all-magic families!”

There were quite a few who looked at Hermione, who was beginning to regret coming to Adrian for help.

“He didn’t want to take Mudbloods under his wing, because in that time muggles liked to kill wizards,” she hissed out, throwing out her arm for theatrics sake. “So those born to muggles weren’t trustworthy and they still aren’t trustworthy!”

More cheers, and Adrian pulled his wand, shifting his body language towards Hermione. Adrian doubted anyone was going to do anything, although it would be a spectacular story to try and explain to Professor Snape.

“Eventually Gryffindor and Slytherin had a fight, a duel or an argument or something,   and Slytherin was kicked out of Hogwarts! So Slytherin built a hidden chamber in the castle, one that none of the other founders knew of. Slytherin sealed the Chamber of Secrets so that nobody would be able to open it until his own true heir arrived. The heir alone would open the Chamber of Secrets, unleash the monsters within, and use it to purge the school of all mudbloods!”

That sounded ridiculous in Adrian’s point of view. If that was truly the case, why wouldn’t the Chamber have been opened during Grindelwald's time, when the muggle’s were actually being a threat?

Adrian stood abruptly, stretching lazily and giving a small nod to signify he was satisfied. Carmen politely gave him a rude gesture, abandoning her chair to get back to whatever homework he had taken her from. Hermione stumbled upwards quickly, eager to leave the room. The other students began reorienting the room back to its natural position, dragging the chairs across the ground.

“Where do you think you’re going!” Millicent blurted, jumping to her feet and clumsily knocking over the chair she had been sitting on. “Leading a Gryffindor here, inside the Common room, and not only that but she’s a filthy--“

“Step aside, Bulstrode,” Adrian commanded, rubbing his temple with one hand. The other gripped his wand in his sleeve. “We’ve already established that you do what I say.”

Millicent stormed right up and too close for Adrian’s comfort. “What’cha gonna do about it, orphan?”

Adrian’s cheek twitched and his eyes narrowed. There were a few whooping sounds as students turned to see the exchange-- the story of the burning Bulstrode was something of a classic. A prime example of tiny first years decking it out.

“I’m saying that you should step aside, and we won’t have any unfortunate accidents.”

Millicent’s breath was directly on Adrian’s face. Her nostrils flared like an ox. “How about, no.”

Adrian’s grip on his wand tightened. Hermione moved behind him, likely reaching for her own wand.

“I said,” Adrian paused, feeling the swell of magic under his call, moving with the current of his aggression, “move.”

Millicent shouted and paused dumbly. It took a moment for her to process the situation before she dropped to the floor-- her green and black knitted Slytherin scarf was smoldering hotly. Not full out fire, but the uncomfortable heat around her throat.

The Slytherin common room was filled with the enthusiastic clapping of the minority who had been paying attention. The others jumped, peering around in confusion, then disappointment, as they realized they missed yet another feud. Adrian pulled Hermione out through the common room, thankful that the confrontation had happened inside the room. Hermione gave a full body shiver as the magic set the deal in place.

“Your deal is set,” Adrian’s voice was suspiciously blank, his eyes dull and looking far too distant. “You won’t be able to tell anyone about the events that happened inside,  good luck finding a book for Potter.”

“W-wait.” She garbled out, clutching his arm tightly. “You-- I didn’t know that you’re an orph--”

Don't,” Adrian growled out, glaring at he with a menacing look which made her breathless. “I left them, not the other way around.”

“Like-- emancipation?” Hermione seemed confused. She stumbled, eyes widening in shock. “Were they... were they bad to you?”

Adrian’s jaw creaked as his teeth pressed harshly together. Hermione twitched as she finally realized she was on testy grounds.

Adrian pulled his arm free and walked past her, Hermione stumbled in worry and mostly confusion. “Wait! Where are you going!”

“Owlery,” Adrian grunted, not even dignifying her to pause. “To send a letter.”

“At this time?” She questioned, baffled and sounding a bit lost.

Dear Merlin did he have to do everything?

She followed him a safe distance, only until she recognized her surroundings and diverged off towards her own tower. Adrian continued to the Owlery, writing a quick letter on the free parchment provided in the building. Bellatrix would know something about this madness; it seemed right up her alley to know something about monsters out to eat mudbloods.

He didn’t receive a letter back, much to his dismay. Hedwig returned happy though, so she must have mooched decent food off of Rabastan’s plate again.

On the bright side, knocking down his reputation in Slytherin had given him another deal with Hermione, although this time not in his favour.

It was barely a week later when she came running to him in a corridor, wanting to ‘purchase’ a deal like it was muggle currency.

He was starting to regret gaining her infallible trust the prior year.

This time she wanted him to somehow obtain shredded Boomslang skin and powdered bicorn horn, potion ingredients he didn’t have on hand.

He stared at her, and she shrugged with an uneasy smile.

“Will you be paying for this, this time?’ Adrian sighed, scratching behind his ear as he thought. The ingredients would be expensive, normally debts only qualified for the service of obtaining them, they didn’t include the price of the items themselves.

“We can pay!” Hermione blurted. “We just need a little of each!”

‘We.’ That meant he was assisting the Golden Trio once again. Spectacular.

Adrian looked at the two ingredients and thought about what they could be used for. “Alright, I’ll get them to you and you pay once I deliver. Boomslang skin will be harder, it's normally a galleon per vial, you’re lucky I know somewhere I can get it for fifteen sickles.”

“We just need them soon.” Hermione blushed, looking at her feet unsure.

‘We’ again. The Golden Trio was on something time sensitive, which likely meant they were brewing potions or trying rune-based rituals. Considering the shared intelligence of the group, potions was much more likely. He couldn’t help but wonder why they were they brewing potions?

He still had the lists of Knockturn Alley stores that allowed order by Owl, he could easily purchase the ingredients and be reimbursed at a later time. The benefit was now he knew the group was attempting something.

He wished Bella would get back to him already, he had questions still.

Chapter Text

The highly anticipated Quidditch match between Slytherin and Gryffindor quickly outshone Millicent's illuminating challenge. Her injuries around her neck healed with a burn salve given to her by an entertained seventh year. Her embarrassment worked better than flesh eating slug repellent, Adrian had barely seen her in days.

Hermione seemed more vocal and courageous after the Slytherin stunt. Often she searched him out just to compare essays or other meager requests. Through mutual 'friends', he had slowly been introduced to more Gryffindors. The Weasley Twins enjoyed his deal service and often asked questions on the parameters, although nothing had been agreed on. Adrian had a small suspicion he'd have to start figuring out how to owl order alcohol into the castle.

Draco had become grouchier, sleep deprived and anxious for the first match. Daphne casted delicate charms to disguise the bags under his eyes, clicking her tongue at his horrid state all the while.

The Saturday morning of the match, the entire Slytherin team vanished from the dorms. Blaise assured the frantic Pansy, that it was simply a house tradition. Bad luck to the team if they were spotted out of uniform.

As eleven O'clock drew closer and tensions rose alongside, the entire school drifted to the cloudy outdoors and onto the tall stands surrounding the field. A few spells were casted by the Hogwarts official, to redirect lightning in the unfortunate chance the sky became muggy halfway through.

Pansy had latched herself onto Adrian's arm, searching for the first replacement for Draco she could find. Her hair was pinned up to her head and bounced with her excited footsteps as she guided him onto the pitch.

"Dray is amazing," She swooned, anxiously rambling to dispel her own worry, "He's so fast..."

"Do you play, Adrian?" Daphne asked, looking more dignified with her reserved walk, "I don't believe I've heard your stories."

Adrian grimaced slightly and selected his words mindfully, "I am... aware, of the rules and regulations. I know how to fly a broom, although I haven't since I was very young."

Daphne hummed, kicking a smell pebble with her foot, "So your biological parents were purebloods?"

Adrian stopped walking sharply; this caused Pansy to squawk out as she nearly tripped. Daphne continued walking a few steps, pausing before looking over her shoulder with a carefully formed bored expression.

The hairs on Adrian's neck rose as he scrutinized the pureblood heir before him. Caution and paranoia twisted his stomach into an uneasy misshapen knot.

"I believe that is personal, Greengrass."

Daphne smiled politely with the grace and poise of a trained woman, "My mistake, Adrian. I wasn't aware you consider any information too personal," her eyes shifted flintily, "or perhaps the proper coin is in order for your trade?"

Pansy whined loudly, tugging pettily at Adrian's sleeve. Her determination to get to the stands halted the confrontation and the imminent argument, despite how artfully Daphne phrased it.

The crowd of older students near the base slid apart to allow the three to meet with Theo, Crabbe, and Goyle, already near the top of the bleachers. Theo wore a thick green scarf which emphasized the thin hollows of his cheeks.

"Where's Draco?" Pansy inquired, rising onto the tips of her feet to try and see Draco on the pitch. The distance rendered the entire team as a collection of indistinct blurs of green and silver.

Once the Gryffindors walked onto the pitch, swathed in gold and crimson, they were greeted by cheers and applause; Slytherin house began hissing loudly in mockery.

The match began instantly; Draco flew well and agilely on his new broom, a platinum haired streak of speed and acrobatics.

Not long thereafter, the sky gurgled behind angry dark clouds. The weather shifted, and released buckets of shivering cold rain.

Pansy squealed, raising the hood of her cloak to try and protect her hair and skin. Adrian grimaced and followed suit. Against his best efforts, the rain plastered his hair flat to his head. Daphne tilted her wand upwards and casted a translucent umbrella to protect her corn silk hair.

Theo twitched, splashing water off his face onto Goyle who blinked dumbly at the suddenly cold.

"That bludger sure does like Potter," Blaise muttered, squinting through the rain with enhanced binoculars. He was mutely surprised Blaise had enough foresight to charm them against the rain; Adrian could barely see the seeker's shape in the sky.

"Did someone charm it?" Daphne frowned, peering from under her umbrella, "It's not moving properly."

Pansy sniffed insulted, "it's not like Draco needs help-"

Adrian frowned and tilted his head curiously. He hadn't ever refreshed his memory on the rules of Quidditch; what small tidbits he knew were mostly the simplified versions for children. Obviously tampering with any of the equipment would be a huge regulation, especially with how dangerous the sport already was.

"Looks strange, don't it?" Theo muttered out loud absentmindedly. He nudged Adrian in his side eagerly, "It looks pretty strange-"

There was a hollow gasp throughout the stadium as Skylar's outstretched arm was smashed into by a bludger. Although Adrian couldn't discern the action, the announcer was rapid fire explaining how the bludger had broken its spellwork to execute such a maneuver. Someone had tampered with the equipment.

Draco didn't let the clear sign of tampering disturb him. He swept in quickly, his naturally skinnier body slid past Skylar's with ease.

Pansy jerked beside him, placing her hands on her hips as her face puckered in a look of irritation. Other students glanced back to locate him in the rain, eyeing him curiously.

"I didn't do anything," Adrian defended sourly," I have no deals for enchanting a bludger. I honestly don't know the rules of Quidditch that well."

"We best fix that, get you on a broom." Theo responded distractedly, his eyes locked on Skylar who was now on the ground. The final whistle was called as Draco ensnared the golden sphere, triggering the end of the match. The teaching staff swept onto the field, Lockhart was distinguishable by his bright yellow robes.

"You'd like to see that, wouldn't you?" Adrian grunted, rising onto the tips of his shoes to look over the other heads, "Me on a broom, I have better things to do."

Theo's mouth quirked into a shark like grin, "Eight sickles Draco takes you flying."

Adrian turned and looked at Theo with a distinctly unimpressed expression, "You just want to see me look like an idiot."

Theo shrugged although he was genuine as he spoke.

"I actually just want to see you fly. Can't imagine you doing it, and Merlin knows it would cheer up Draco. Maybe liven things up a bit around here since all that Chambers of Secrets shite."

"I don't think you can fly," Daphne added in charmingly, "I'll throw in a Galleon."

Theo gave Adrian a meaningful look.

"That's a bit of gold there, Harry."

Adrian flinched violently and glared at Theo, "Don't call me that."

Daphne tilted her head in a formal nod and smiled.


Gryffindor won the match unfortunately even while Skylar suffered the consequence of Lockhart's mediocre excuse of spell work. The scored points before Draco ended the match leant in Gryffindor's favor.

The Slytherin team instead told stories of Skylar's unfortunate ailment over and over, each retelling becoming more and more preposterous. It was shared in the common room with laughter and smuggled pints of Butterbeer; they may have lost but Potter was trapped in Hospital Wing for a week.

Draco, once informed by a suave Greengrass, was thrilled with Adrian's deal. As unorthodox as it was in comparison to Adrian's usual careful bartering, he was rather trapped in. Galleons for humiliation and ridicule.

Hermione had better enjoy those premium ingredients, that's what those coins were being used for.

Adrian was escorted outside onto the Quidditch pitch by a small train of eager bystanders. Most were other yearmates, although a few fifth years and Ravenclaws trailed behind.

They didn't have any of the Quidditch team's balls or equipment, the team was rather paranoid with meddling after someone bewitched the Gryffindor's bludger to target Skylar. Instead, Daphne offered to shoot sparks or other illusions into the air for Draco to weave between. The intention was to teach Adrian the finer aspects of flying, although Draco could only avoid flaunting for so long.

"You hold the broom like this," Draco instructed, grasping his broom in a peculiar fashion, "Although I always have a reverse grip since it makes it easier to dive suddenly..."

Adrian glanced pitifully at Theo. Theo shook a handful of coins in his fist, rattling them audibly.

Pansy handed the spare broom to Adrian. It was one of the Nimbus Two Thousand and One's, sleek and more streamline than anything Adrian had ever used. Likely more expensive than the entire Gryffindor team's stock put together.

Racing and Quidditch brooms were built with a series of safeguards and regulations. Knowing the Slytherin team, Adrian wouldn't be surprised if all those securities were disabled.

Bellatrix was going to kill him if he fell.

Draco mounted his broom with well-practiced ease and secured his hands in the unique grip. He settled and watched Adrian patiently although expectantly.

Adrian tightened his fist unsurely on the broom- it felt too flimsy to support his weight.

He could only imagine Lutain laughing at him, the snake would be nearly hysterical at Adrian's uncharacteristic fear.

With a slow exhale and a few internal curse words, he stepped over the tail end of the broom. His foot secured on the other side. Now straddling the charmed wood, he glanced at Draco who visibly brightened at seeing his cooperation.

Draco hunched forward slightly, keeping his feet firmly on the ground although poised r to jump at a moment's notice; Adrian mimicked his position although he didn't find it by any means comfortable.

"Push off with your feet, careful not to yank up on the broom." Draco advised, gently floating into the air in demonstration. He overemphasized his movements, showing how to twist and angle his direction.

Adrian pushed off with a feather light hop. There was a gut-wrenching moment where Adrian was sure he was going to teeter sideways and crash to the ground.

The broom held him aloft, he released the breath he had been holding.

Draco slid next to Adrian and reached across to angle the broom handle upwards. Adrian followed the movement, marveling as they begin ascending higher into the air.

The miniscule crowd below cheered as they finally reached the bottom rim of the lowest goal post.

"You're not bad at this," Draco noted relaxed. He withdrew his hand, slinking back several paces to allow Adrian to spin in a lazy circle.

"Not bad at spinning like a show-kneazle?" Adrian dryly snarked, unsettled by all the eyes watching his movements.

Adrian tested the brooms capabilities to sharply rise. The broom handle jerked upwards and smacked into his face, nearly triggering a bloody nose.

Draco chuckled at the movement, darting forward to grab his shaft and tug it back parallel to the ground below.

It took half an hour for Adrian to adequately maneuver the broom. At such a point Draco tailed him through small turns and dives.

"Want to make this more fun?" Draco asked, pulling out a galleon from his pocket. The large golden coin caught the mid-afternoon sun and shone brightly.

Adrian bitterly thought how unfair it was that all purebloods had so many galleons to throw around.

Draco dropped it.

Adrian watched the gold plummet, in horror. With a split second of hesitation, he pondered the benefit of chasing the coin. It was highly unlikely that he would be injured, especially with Draco watching so avidly. Without thinking any further on the matter, Adrian shoved the hand highest on the broom downwards with his body weight. It turned, nearly flipping him off his mount. The sudden direction change was nauseating, as well as the sudden acceleration. He blinked rapidly, searching for the falling coin desperately.

He caught up to the falling coin in seconds utilizing the broom's spectacular speed Adrian hadn't realized how high the two had ascended; his sudden dive still granted him plenty of time to pull out of the movement.

Draco was at his side instantly, "Not bad." Draco appraised with good intent.

Adrian glared and exhaled through his nose slowly to quell his churning stomach, "I don't think Quidditch is for me."

"Shame, you have a good build for seeker, although terrible posture. Maybe you could be my understudy."

Adrian threw the galleon at Draco's head.

They kept up at it for an exhaustingly long while, until Adrian's ears were burning from the sudden climbs and falls through the air. Draco's eyes were looking red. They hadn't brought any of the protective goggles.

Once Adrian got past investing his trust in a stick of enchanted wood, flying was amazing.

He wondered why they hadn't created a spell for flying without the aid of a creature or a broom. The ability to twist in the air unaided like a thunderbird would be something of legends.

The duo landed, Adrian stumbling more so than Draco. Adrian received his money from Theo and Daphne, counting it absentmindedly on the palm of his wind torn hand.

He was still enclosed in the dizzying exhilarating of flying, the blinding rush that falling unaided somehow triggered. His stomach wasn't following the same sort of euphoria; in fact, it was protesting loudly to his recklessness in sick murmurs and short acting cramps.

"You've flown before," Daphne mentioned calmly. Too calmly.

Adrian hadn't caught it, mind struggling out of its trance. Daphne tilted her head curiously, eyes wide in innocent fascination. "Were you better than your brother?"

"Merlin no, I-" Adrian cut off, sharply, his tone and word faltering as rapidly as he had said them. His mind caught up, snapping into its state of normal awareness as he registered her question.

Oh, Merlin no.

Theo's eyes widened as he looked between the two in shock, "But I thought you were an orphan?"

The tension flying had released returned with the viciousness of an entrapped cobra.

Draco stepped between the pureblood and Adrian. He raised his wand subtly, in a pointed warning. "This isn't the time or the place..."

There was an indiscernible sound in the distance, growing louder in its repetitiveness. A single form raced down from the castle, repeating Draco's name over and over.

Millicent's eyes were wide with a mixture of fear and excitement, like a child caught smuggling something dangerous. Her nostrils flared as she breathed heavily, repeating over and over her mantra as she grew closer.

"Breathe," Draco sighed, looking shrewdly unsettled by her composure, "What do you want?"

"They found another frozen! But this time it's a kid!" She gasped out between heavy pants.

"What?" Daphne gasped, hand flying to her mouth in surprise, "A student?"

"A Gryffindor first year," Millicent nodded, looking very pleased despite her exhaustion, "The kid who took photos. Get this- his camera? It melted."

Theo looked alarmed and looked at Adrian with growing dread, "You know any monster that does that?"

Adrian blinked and shook his head, in surprise. His head struggled to catch up, drawing a blank under the expectant expressions. "A- A Zorono? A persian dragon...any drawings of it will combust but this?" Adrian trailed off awkwardly, nearly flushing in embarrassment. He truly didn't know any sort of beast that damaged magical film.

Theo gulped, and Adrian felt annoyingly helpless.

"We're Slytherin's, right?" Theo hopefully contributed, "So it won't attack Slytherin students, yeah?"

Once again, eyes were on him for answers to something he didn't know.

"I don't know-"

Adrian paused and felt a disgustingly surreal sensation of something sliding out of his skin.

"I've sent a letter to my father," Draco sniffed, "I haven't gotten an owl back."

"Neither I." Pansy scowled, tapping her foot against the ground impatiently.

Adrian tried not to squirm as he felt something emerge completely out of his waist; it encircled his body twice before it moved towards and around his thigh.

"On the bright side," Millicent spoke up, having finally regained her breath, "I heard Lockhart is making a duelling club,"

"Are you serious?" Draco blinked, before his eyes alit with something devious, "Chances to mess with the Gryffindors? Oh, this will be memorable."

"Gotta stock up on humiliating spells," Theo chimed in, wriggling in place excitedly. His anxiety behind the attack had vanished, or at least seemed to be repressed.

"I'd love to see Potter barf slugs." Pansy sighed dreamily, clinging to Draco's arm with a malicious grin.

Millicent looked grudgingly at Adrian, "You know any good spells?"

Adrian's mind whirred quickly. Spells, he knew spells.

Something embarrassing or humiliating...something that would take a considerable amount of time to reverse…

Slowly a smile spread across his face. It was disconcertingly dark, "I have an idea actually."


Adrian returned to his room and locked the door behind him. He immediately approached the large mirror- something Theo transfigured, and removed his clothing.

He threw his cloak and shirt onto the bed with reckless abandon. Torchlight shimmered over his skin, reflecting off undulating scales of magic ink. The Nagini tattoo flexed accordingly, her head trailed over his ribs and stomach.

"Master?" Lutain slid out of the hole on the side of his heated crate, "You are back from being a bird?"

Adrian didn't he trailed his own fingers over the inked head of Nagini. Although there was no textural difference, she arched into his touch.

"Hello," Adrian hissed, considering the mirror directly to see the reptilian eyes, "What are you doing here Nagini?"

She flickered her tongue, "Message."

Its hiss was distorted and feminine, not at all like the serpent's real voice.

"From my father?" Adrian inquired with the barest traces of longing. He hadn't been in contact with the man, he hadn't spoken to it as often as he desired. He wanted to ask and learn so much, but not through these circumstances. There was something about using a messenger engraved into his own flesh, that felt somehow violating.

"Did Bellatrix get my owl?"

It paused in thought, hindered by its low intelligence. It was surreally like speaking to Lutain the first time he had met the serpent.

"Chamber of Secrets open before."

Adrian gasped audibly in surprise. Of course it had, it would have had to be in history at some point if it was making such a ruckus.

"When? I thought only the Heir of Slytherin could open it... Is there another heir? There's a monster I heard in the walls..." Adrian trailed off, growing more uncomfortable with the conversation the longer it was one sided.

"Open long ago." it whispered simply, "No open now."

Oh Merlin, it's intelligence was even worse than Lutain. It didn't seem to have trouble comprehending information, although Adrian couldn't be certain of how much was being recited.

"Why not now?" A different voice hissed curiously.

Lutain had slid over, able to comprehend the hisses of the mark and respond accordingly.

"Why can't the chamber open now?" Lutain ventured to ask, flicking his own tongue close enough to tickle Adrian's navel.

The tattoo peered at Lutain curiously from beneath Adrian's flesh.

"No speak. Speak open chamber."

Adrian furrowed his brow and chewed his lip thoughtfully.

"A speaker must open the chamber? There's another speaker in Hogwarts?"

The tattoo flicked its tongue as it took moments to register Adrian's word. It nodded politely, resulting in a perturbing sensation of movement pushing against his abdomen.

"The monster is a snake," Lutain hissed gleefully, enamored with the possibility of another beast.

"A large serpent of noble kind! Master!"

Things weren't matching up. Only the Heir of Slytherin could open the chamber… that required whoever it was to be a Parselmouth. If the ability to speak parseltongue was a direct lineage skill, which it seemed to be, it would imply that Adrian was now the Heir of Slytherin. Unless it was inherited as a title, where it could only be bestowed by another speaker already.

But Adrian had met Lutain before he was ever adopted by his father. Did that mean that there were more parseltongue speakers out there? Adrian was under the impression the gift was incredibly rare.

"Tell my father," Adrian paused hesitantly. What did he want to say to the man? What was there to say?

If parseltongue marked a distinct trait of the Heir of Slytherin, and the one who opened the Chamber had to be a speaker...

"Lutain," Adrian breathed excitedly, his mind whirred with the perfect way to ridicule Potter.

"I need you to do a favour."

Chapter Text

The shipment of boomslang skin and powdered bicorn horn arrived in the grip of a ratty, tawny eagle. It snapped its beak twice at Goyle and stole some of Crabbe's egg.

The packaging was secure and within hours Hermione was handing over the money for the purchase. The ingredients weren't easy to find, but with this payment, Adrian finally had enough to purchase the animagus potion.

His Occlumency shields increased every day, proceeding along with his carefully timed plans.

He had already talked to Draco, who affirmed that if Snape (who was the assistant to Lockhart for the dueling club) chose a volunteer, it would almost certainly be Draco. The other "volunteer" would definitely be chosen by Lockhart: Skylar Potter, the celebrity.

The only uncertainty, Draco confessed, was if Snape was intending to see Skylar embarrassed; if that was the case, the potions professor would call on Adrian himself.

The idea was both flattering and unsettling.

In the days leading up to the Dueling Club's first meeting, Adrian spent his time in the library scouring through nearly every book he could on references to snakes or snake creatures.

He had marked off Atups, small winged serpents who lived in deserts, able to glide over long distances. Nehustans and Runespoors were added to his implausible list. Adrian didn't know if Parseltongue expanded outwards to encapsulate serpentine species of dragons and other reptiles. Sea Serpents weren't actually related to the snakes Adrian knew he could speak to; would his ability reach the smooth skinned variants?

He still didn't know how such a large monster was moving throughout the castle, the Creevy boy and the cat were found in two entirely different areas of the castle. Whatever it was, it could move invisibly through the school. Perhaps there was a species which could camouflage itself?

Adrian didn't have time to venture into that territory, he was busy searching for simple spells which could properly humiliate an opponent, just in case.

The Dueling Club was an event to see. Nearly all of the Slytherins turned up to watch Snape duel against their least favourite teacher on staff. The Great Hall had been altered, all of the tables and furniture removed with the exception of a tall golden platform. Candles floated high above shining on the excited students below.

Gilderoy Lockhart walked onto the stage, resplendent in deep plum robes. Snape was wearing his usual black, looking frustrated with his teaching companion.

"Gather round, gather round!" Lockhart shouted out, waving his arms excitedly. "Can everyone see me? Can you all hear me?"

"Unfortunately," Theo grimaced, causing Crabbe to snigger.

"Now! Professor Dumbledore has kindly granted me permission to start this little dueling club, to train you all up in case you ever need to defend yourselves as I myself have done on countless occasions- for full details, see my published works. Let me introduce my assistant, Professor Snape," He flourished to the scowling man. "He tells me he knows a tiny little bit about dueling himself and has sportingly agreed to help me with a short demonstration before we begin. Now, I don't want any of you youngsters to worry; you'll still have your Potions master when I'm through with him, never fear!"

Snape's upper lip was curling. It was wonder that Lockhart was still happy; Adrian couldn't imagine anyone willingly dueling Snape and still seeming pleased.

Lockhart and Snape turned to face each other and bowed. At least Lockhart did, with an unnecessary flourish, while Snape just jerked his head shortly. They both raised their wands like swords in front of them, shifting their stances, turning to present a smaller target.

"As you see, we are holding our wands in the accepted combative position!" Lockhart instructed the quiet crowd. "On the count of three, we will cast our first spells. Neither of us will be aiming to kill, of course."

"A shame," Draco muttered under his breath.

Lockhart counted down and both swung their wands above their heads and pointed them at their opponent. Snape shouted a disarming charm before Lockhart could do so much as inhale. Lockhart flew backwards off the stage and slid onto the floor in an undignified sprawl. His wand went spinning off into the crowd.

Malfoy and Pansy cheered loudly.

Lockhart stumbled upright onto his feet. "Well, there you have it!" He stated, tottering back onto the raised platform. "That was a Disarming Charm, as you see, I've lost my wand- ah, thank you." He smiled to a Gryffindor first year who eagerly handed it to him. "An excellent idea to show them that, Professor Snape, but if you don't mind my saying so, it was very obvious what you were about to do. If I had wanted to stop you it would have been only too easy. However, I felt it would be instructive to let them see…"

Snape looked murderous. Lockhart noticed, because he quickly shouted. "But enough demonstrating! I'm going to come amongst you now and put you all into pairs!"

Snape strode over to Skylar instantly and beckoned Draco. "Perhaps a demonstration before the students are throwing jinxes?"

"Of course!" Lockhart stumbled, helping the unprepared and wincing Skylar up onto the golden stage. "A wonderful idea!"

Draco took a few steps to pass Adrian, pausing and wincing as Adrian smilingly offered his hand. Draco took it, and Lutain slid through the clasped hands around the arm of Draco.

"He is humid, Master." Lutain hissed from Draco's arm, "He smells of fear."

"Don't worry, he won't bite." Adrian murmured. "Well, not you at least."

Draco nodded and walked up to the other end of the stage. Adrian squeezed around the crowd, trying to orient himself halfway down the length of the stage as near as he could get.

"Face your partners!" Lockhart shouted, "And bow!"

Skylar and Malfoy barely inclined their heads, not taking their eyes off each other.

"Wands at the ready!" Shouted Lockhart. "When I count to three, cast your charms to disarm your opponents- only to disarm them! We don't want any accidents. One...two.."

Skylar swung his arm up but Malfoy had already casted his spell on two. His spell hit Skylar so hard he stumbled backwards. Skylar responded accordingly, shouting, "Rictusempra!"

A jet of silver light hit Malfoy in the stomach and he doubled over, wheezing.

"I said disarm!" Lockhart shouted. "Disarm!"

Malfoy sunk to his knees. Skylar looked unsure, and Malfoy took this chance to choke out, "Tarantallegra!"

Skylar yelped as his legs jerked around him in an obscure, uncontrollable dance.

"Stop!" Screamed Lockhart, but Snape took charge.

"Finite Incantatem!" Intoned the potions professor. Malfoy stopped wheezing and Skylar's legs stopped trembling.

"Perhaps, it would be best to teach the students how to block spells?" Snape drawled, watching as Lockhart flushed red and rushed to Skylar's aid.

"Now, Skylar," Lockhart started. He smiled dazzlingly. "When Draco points his wand at you, you do this-"

He made a complex movement with his wand and ultimately dropped it.

Malfoy made eye contact with Adrian and gave a short nod.

"Three... two... one... go!" Lockhart shouted.

Malfoy raised his arm, his sleeve low enough Adrian could only see the end of his wand. He shouted out, "Serpensortia!"

The spell was mispronounced only slightly, yet it was enough no serpent was actually conjured. Lutain instead unraveled from Draco's arm and sprang out from under his sleeve; only if you had been looking closely would anyone notice the difference.

Lutain landed heavily on the floor and reared his head with a loud hiss.

Nearby students screamed and stumbled back, Snape looked surprised but also positively gleeful with the turnout.

"I'll get rid of it!" Lockhart shouted, waltzing past the horrified Skylar. He pointed his wand, and with a loud bang Lutain flew through the air before landing in exactly the same spot with a smack. Adrian would have been concerned if it was anyone except Lockhart casting the spell.

"You purple coated bird!" Lutain hissed angrily, turning and locking eyes with a terrified Gryffindor second year. "I'd love to bite the lark with my venom!"

The tanned boy whimpered loudly.

"Leave him alone!" Skylar shouted, looking terrified for his year mate.

Lutain performed perfectly, and once again Adrian was relieved he had taught his companion English.

Lutain slunk to the ground and instantly went docile. He was the threat level of a limp garden hose and staring at Skylar blankly.

The Gryffindor second year, if anything, went even paler.

Whispers spread quickly, accusing and skeptic eyes were turned to Skylar who was looking rather horrified himself.

"No- no I-" Skylar stumbled a bit, at a loss for words. "I don't talk to snakes-"

Lutain deserved a prized hamster; he nodded his scaly head.

If this was what people thought Parseltongue was, Adrian was almost disappointed.

Skylar stumbled backwards and the crowd around him took another step back. Even Ron was looking a bit pale.

"Do I get a rat?" Lutain hissed lowly, rising high enough to retain in eye contact with Skylar even having slid off the stage.

"No! I didn't do anything!" Skylar shouted desperately, pointing his wand at Lutain who had (bless his best friend), started to slowly slither after him.

"Stay back!" Skylar howled, looking on the verge of tears. Lutain stopped dead in his tracks and once again nodded obviously. A Hufflepuff nearest Adrian whimpered quietly.

Adrian would get Lutain the best rat he could find.

Skylar ran and the crowd collapsed into a maddening mixture of rushing feet and louder shouts. Words like "Parseltongue!" and "Heir!" were thrown around, already the rumor catching purchase.

Lutain moved and slid off the stage as fast as he could slither, Adrian lifted the edge of his cloak and his familiar quickly circled his calf inching upwards out of sight.

The students were all dismissed, nobody would be able to focus with Skylar having run out so quickly.

Adrian caught up with Draco and with a smile gave a short nod.

"Everyone thinks Potter is the Heir now." Draco seemed dazed. "that snake knows English?"

"Lutain is very smart," Adrian agreed, "and he's fine."

"Give him a rat or whatever he eats for me."

Adrian certainly would.


Adrian went looking for the Hogwarts gamekeeper, the giant man Hagrid.

Lutain deserved the best rat he could get and Hagrid seemed his best bet to get something that his familiar would absolutely love. The snow had come in, a wicked blizzard in the night which canceled all of the Herbology and Care classes outside. Likely Hagrid would be outside, trying to tend to the snow.

He found Hagrid, walking into the castle with a thick wooly balaclava and a moleskin coat. He was carrying a mangled mess of feathers in one arm.

"Hagrid?" Adrian asked, seeing the large man jump and stare at Adrian for a perplexing amount of time. "I talked with you before school started. You said you may know where to get some decent rats?"

"Ya!" Hagrid nodded, blinking out of whatever dazed state he was in. "Yer right! I got a few down in mah hut." Hagrid blinked a drop of melted snow out of his eye. The man was twitchy, curled in ever so slightly on himself with the strangest expression of nostalgia.

"What do you have there?" Adrian asked, trying to see the mangled mess. "What bird is that?"

"A rooster, second one killed this term," Hagrid explained, grimacing. "It's either foxes or somethin', an' I need the Headmaster's permission ter put a charm around the hen coop."

"Good luck with that," Adrian said. He smiled thinly. "Could you send me a few mice by owl?"

Hagrid was looking at Adrian's face a moment too long for comfort, almost bewitched by Adrian's thin lipped smile. Hurriedly the man nodded, as if realizing how rude he was being by staring. Hagrid mumbled something hurriedly, along the lines that he really did need to talk to the headmaster.

Adrian hummed to himself and walked up the steps towards the corridor which would take him to the library. A rooster? Surely it had to be a clue; almost nothing ever attacked something that the gamekeeper was protecting.

"Attack!" He heard a loud shriek although it was quite a distance away. "Attack! Another attack!"

Adrian turned and started running towards the noise. "No mortal or ghost is safe! Run for your lives!"

Door after door flew open along the corridor as people filed out to see the sight. It was even better than Adrian could have imagined.

There was a petrified body of the same Gryffindor second year who Lutain had targeted at the dueling club and a ghost.

The ghost was stuck in a silent scream, body position stiff and rigid.

Professor McGonagall came running, followed by her own class. She pointed her wand and sent a loud bang into the air, which restored silence, and ordered everyone back into their classes.

"Caught in the act!" Shouted a Hufflepuff loudly. Adrian recognised the boy as someone he'd gotten into a fight with before, Ernie. Ernie pointed his finger at Skylar, who floundered for something to say.

Adrian caught Skylar's eye, and saw the utter terror and confusion in his eyes.

His plan was working perfectly.


The double attack on Dean (as he learned his name after) and the Gryffindor ghost, Nearly Headless Nick, turned what had hitherto been nervousness into real panic. Amazingly, it was Nearly Headless Nick's fate which concerned so many people. What monster could possibly do that sort of thing to a ghost?

There was almost a stampede to book seats on the Hogwarts Express so that students could go home for Christmas.

Adrian had chose to stay at Hogwarts over the holidays; as much as he would like to see Bellatrix, he was in no state prepared to see his father once again. Just the thought brought back the anxious trembling in his hands.

Draco chose to stay at the castle as well, Crabbe and Goyle followed suit.

Christmas came around and Adrian received gifts from a surprising number of people.

Hermione had gifted him a luxurious eagle-feather quill. Hagrid sent a box with three well groomed mice, which had Lutain hissing with gleeful anticipation. Draco gifted him a box of treacle tarts, likely bought from the store Honeydukes.

Bellatrix sent him a bag full of galleons, which actually was very kind considering he owl ordered a large quantity of things now. Rabastan sent, once again, a collection of potions. These ones were more complex and quite a few were made for secret messages or truth serums. Rodolphus sent an ironic fountain pen, shaped with a snake curving around the grip. Adrian didn't recognize the species.

The Great Hall was beautiful, not only were there a dozen frost coated Christmas trees and thick garlands of holly and mistletoe, but enchanted snow was falling from the sky above.

Draco Malfoy made several loud, snide remarks about the crude looking sweater Skylar was wearing. Hermione ushered the remaining two of the golden trio out of the Hall, which was suspicious but Adrian was too amused with Draco feeding Lutain various bits of pudding and tarts.

Adrian slipped into the library once more, as he had been since the roosters were added into his search. He took out a book, finally on the shelves from the lack of students over Christmas break, and went back to the Slytherin Common room.

The room was empty which wasn't much of a surprise. It meant that Adrian had a selection of any of the couches to read the book on.

The stone entrance slid open and Draco walked in with Crabbe and Goyle lumbering behind him. As well as-

"Bullstrode?" Adrian asked, lifting one eyebrow curiously. "I thought you went home for the holidays."

Millicent stumbled, looking rather odd before she jutted out her chin, "I came back."

Adrian blinked, and looked back at his book. She must have still been upset at him.

"Wait here," Malfoy said to Crabbe and Goyle who both took seats on nearby couches. "I'll go and get it, my father's just sent it to me-"

Draco walked off to his room, and then returned with a newspaper clipping. He thrust it under Crabbe's nose, causing the boy to go cross-eyed. Draco grinned. "That'll give you a laugh."

"Master?" Adrian peered over his book over towards the steps to the downstairs level where the rooms were. With the majority of Slytherins gone, Adrian felt it was alright to leave the door open for Lutain to freely wander the common room.

Draco and the others chattered on about something Adrian didn't care about. Lutain slid over and scented the air. The sight of Lutain sliding up onto the table between the couches caused all three to pale.

"There it is," Draco cut in, shifting topics to point at Lutain. "I was going to see if it liked stewed carrots."

"Considering Lutain hates vegetables, I doubt it," Adrian noted, giving a long stretch before closing his book and facing the group. "What were we talking about?"

"The Heir of Slytherin," Draco caught Adrian up. Malfoy jutted his chin out, maybe in an attempt to pout. "I wish I knew who it was. I could help them."

Crabbe's jaw dropped so he looked even more clueless.

"You must have some idea who's behind it all…" Millicent trailed off, her voice wavering strangely.

"You know I haven't, how many times have we had this discussion?" Draco scowled. Draco turned and glanced directly at Adrian. "If anyone knows it's you."

All eyes were on him. "Well, the school seems set that it's Skylar Potter."

Draco let out a massive snort.

"And Father won't tell me anything about the last time the Chamber was opened either. Of course, it was fifty years ago, so it was before his time, but he knows all about it and he says that it was all kept quiet and it'll look suspicious if I know too much about it. But I know one thing- last time the Chamber of Secrets was opened, a Mudblood died. So I bet it's a matter of time before one of them's killed this time...I hope it's Granger." He said with relish.

Adrian sighed loudly, "Honestly, Draco. You just don't like her because she's actual competition."

"I don't like her because you dragged her here," Draco snapped. "You and your bloody deals and now you're dragging in Mudbloods?"

"I'm sorry," Adrian said, his tone carefully pitched to indicate he was anything but. He tilted his head towards Draco. "Are you questioning me?"

Draco scowled and crossed his arms. "That's Millicent's job, isn't it?"

Millicent blinked wide eyed and looked overwhelmed.

Something wasn't adding up.

"D'you know if the person who opened the Chamber last time was caught?"

"Oh, yeah...whoever it was was expelled," said Malfoy, "They're probably still in Azkaban."

"Azkaban?" Goyle said, looking puzzled.

"Azkaban- the wizard prison, Goyle." Malfoy looked at him in disbelief. "Honestly, if you were any slower, you'd be going backward."

"How did the chamber get opened?" Millicent butted in. "If only the Heir can open it, how would someone be able to if they're in Azkaban?"

Draco waved his hand at Adrian, beckoning him to take a turn to talk.

Adrian shrugged half heartedly, trailing his hand down Lutain's back. "I don't know. There isn't any information- I didn't know about the death." Adrian nodded to a smug looking Malfoy. "Maybe it required specific magic, or a specific ability."

Goyle's eyes widened and he nudged Crabbe who also seemed to have realized something.

"Lutain," Adrian spoke low, causing his familiar to glance at him. "Do you have a rat to sniff out?"

Lutain's tongue flickered in the air wildly, "Master, there is something- no. No rat. Master."

Adrian relaxed and looked at Millicent. She seemed rather uncomfortable still, yet it was undeniably her.

"Malfoy," Adrian snapped out, nearly smacking himself for not thinking of it sooner, "Do you know what Boomslang skin is used for?"

Draco seemed surprised but blinked. "Brewing potions now, Selwyn?"

"I buy them," Adrian deadpanned, "but amuse me."

"We've got to go," Millicent stood. There was something off about how she sniffed, something about the tilt of her head. "I heard that Potter git was in the library."

"Give him a hex for me," Draco waved them off, before returning in thought.

The three of them left, and Draco started to list off potions, "Grolji's Elixer, Polyjuice Potion, Madora-"

Adrian suddenly felt a bit dizzy. He gave Malfoy a sharp look. "Polyjuice Potion? That changes your shape, doesn't it?"

"For an hour," Draco confirmed, not quite understanding, "Why?"

Millicent had been acting odd, Goyle more obvious than normal, Crabbe unusually silent-

Adrian glanced at the exit door. All three of them had vanished without a trace.

He cursed so crudely Draco blushed.

Chapter Text

Adrian adopted a vengeful wrath once the rest of the students returned.

Millicent, the real Millicent, confirmed she hadn’t ever set foot in the dungeons during the break. This sent Draco into a fit as well.

With both Adrian and Draco prowling in a simmering anger, the Slytherin population consciously tried to avoid them.

Adrian didn’t care, his thoughts revolved around the actions of the Golden Trio.

A small part of Adrian was impressed- a second year successfully brewed the Polyjuice potion?

But where would three students find a secluded location secure enough to brew such a complex potion.

Adrian was venturing back to the spot where Filch’s cat had been petrified. He searched for any clue, either regarding the Slytherin heir or the trio.

 He heard Filch shouting from a corridor down, where a stream of water passed Adrian and descended a slope towards the shouting.

The puddle of water was traveling from under a heavy battered door, not slowing with its torrent.

It was a washroom, marked with a large “Out of Order” sign. Adrian grimaced as water soaked into his robe, yet he did not let it deter him.

He pushed the door open, feeling the resistance of the water that spilled out.

There was a bawling ghost, out of sight although loud enough to be a nuisance. It was dark; the candles normally magically lit were extinguished from the rush of water that had left both walls and floor soaking wet.

“Hello?” Adrian asked, his voice echoing off the walls.

A ghost head popped out of a stall. It was a young girl, her face translucent and blotchy. ‘Who’s that?” it glugged miserably. “Come to throw something else at me?”

She saw Adrian, paused, and seemed to grow even paler. She screamed, the sound echoing painfully in Adrian’s ears. Her eyes bulged, arms trembling and shaking water droplets almost comically onto the floor. Her jaw shook as she rattled out horrible choking noises, tears trailing down her face before she leapt into a toilet out of sight.

Adrian blinked, slightly dumbstruck by the violent reaction.

The room was eerily silent, the dripping faucets echoing rhythmically.

There was a small thin book under a nearby sink. It was black and waterlogged, standing out in the bleak room.

Adrian picked it up, wrinkling his nose at the uncomfortable texture of wet parchment. He opened the book,  there was no ink inside the pages. It completely unused.

It was a diary, and the date on the inner cover said it was fifty years old. Why would someone not use a diary, or why would they keep it around just to throw it away in a girls room?

Adrian hummed quizzically, searching along the spine and the back cover for the traces of a name. It was possible whoever it was would want it returned at a later time. He spotted something, almost carved with fine handwriting just inside-

T. M. Riddle.

Adrian dropped the book. It splashed back into the sink carelessly.

“No way,” he breathed, feeling distant as he opened the book again. How was it possible...

Then he was hit with something strong and dizzying, enough to nearly send him toppling to the flooded floor. It was overwhelming, the spasming sensation of pain prickling along each of his nerves. Nausea rose until the vague sensation of sick wasn’t limited only to his organs.

Adrian curled in on himself, almost heaving as his head felt thick and sluggish- as if he had inhaled too much of Lockhart’s perfume.

It whispered, something whispered words he could almost understand. A language he didn’t understand, something muffled but loud enough he could hear the cadence of speech.

The hand clutching the diary had gone numb from biting cold.

It relented, lifting immense weight from Adrian’s chest and suddenly he could breathe again.

He swallowed and placed the book in his front pocket. His cloak hung slightly further on the one side to accommodate the weight.. It pulsed something foreign, low and alluring like the first curse he had ever cast.

Considering that if this...thing, did belong to T. M. Riddle, Adrian wasn’t exactly sure what sort of effects it would have. It was possible it could seriously harm him.

But the coincidence of finding something from T. M. Riddle during the opening of the Chamber of Secrets- it had to be linked. Which led him to to the only impulsive thing he could think of doing.

He needed to write in this as soon as possible.


 

The attacks had mysteriously vanished, which given the recent discovery, made sense.

The diary- the diary belonged to his father, who was the Heir of Slytherin! Somehow this book was the one opening the chamber and setting the monster loose.

Although he hadn’t actually written in it yet, Adrian was too paranoid to leave it sitting out. He kept it on his body at all time, trapped within the anxiety ridden thoughts that somehow, someone would know that it was him.

The only thing to rattle him out of his sleepless thoughts was, somehow, Lockhart had gotten it in his head that he was the reason the attacks had stopped.

Lockhart’s idea of a morale-booster became clear at breakfast on February fourteenth.

The walls were coated with disgustingly pink flowers. Worse still, heart-shaped confetti rained slowly from the pale blue ceiling.

Only Lockhart seemed to be enjoying himself, with the lurid pink robes to match the decorations.

The rest of the day, dwarves were hired to carry around singing valentines day cards.

The cards were rubbish at best. The highlight was the foul one, christened with glitter and red hearts sent from Lockhart to Snape during a house meeting.

Adrian had avoided the dwarves so far, mostly due to his infamous dealings. Daphne had received three, taking them all in grace.

Draco was dreading the event, knowing positively he would have at least one. The pale haired boy glued himself to Adrian’s side, certain that Adrian would have a way to avoid the blasted creatures.

Adrian couldn’t. Even running didn’t deter one persistent dwarf which managed to chase them across an entire open courtyard. If it wasn’t for the spell resistant skin, Adrian would have sent dozens of tripping spells hoping one would hit.

“Go get ‘em!” One Gryffindor shouted, whooping loudly at the dwarf when he saw the target.

There was no way dwarves should be able to run up stairs that fast; they were so short the legs shouldn’t be able to move that quickly.

“Is it after me, or you?” Adrian panted, although not looking as exhausted as Draco.

Draco was flushed, skin reddening and contrasting with his light hair.

“Doesn’t matter,” Draco panted, eyes sharpening with a look of Slytherin cunning, “It’s getting you.”

Adrian took a moment to puzzle over Draco’s words, not understanding foreboding tone.

Draco turned, and smacked Adrian lightly across his chest. Considering how fast they were sprinting up the steps, the even slight push was enough to topple Adrian to the ground.

He grunted, hitting the ground and catching a glimpse of Draco managing to escape.

“Draco!” He shouted, half angry although half amused by the absurdity of the situation.

They were being chased by a dwarf wearing a diaper.

It wasn’t nearly as funny once the Dwarf shouted loudly in victory and nearly tackled Adrian against the ground.

“Finally!” The dwarf grunted, shuffling in its side back for a slip of folded parchment. It cleared its throat, and Adrian knocked his head against the stone steps again.

“He’s the kid that boy Selwyn,

Who’ll sell you treats or pigskin,

And find you stuff right out of books,

He’ll save your skin with his looks!”

Adrian blinked, the poem was almost as absurd as the situation.

Someone burst into cackling laughter, Draco had peered out from the top of the staircase, having heard the valentine.

“We don’t talk about this,” Adrian grumbled, trying to dislodge the dwarf from where it sat on his chest.

“As if!” Draco cackled, “Oh Adrian! Will you fetch me pigskin?”

“Oi!” The dwarf  looked at Draco speculatively, “I got one for you too!”

Draco paled, and turned to run.

“‘We don’t talk about this’ my arse!” Adrian shouted, finally able to catch his breath when the dwarf jumped off his chest in hot pursuit once again.

Thankfully, it was the last valentine he received that day.

Draco wasn’t as lucky.


 

‘Hello’ Adrian wrote with the Eagle-feather quill Hermione gave him, ‘I know who you are.’

Adrian wasn’t sure if it would even work. It was a considerable risk, also considering that he didn’t know if it would trigger the dark magic or curse. He had his tattoo ready to send a warning and explain what he had done in the case of an unspeakable curse.

The ink was absorbed instantly into the diary; in seconds fine spidery handwriting wrote itself across the pages, ‘Hello, I’m sorry I believe we haven’t met. My name is Tom Riddle, who are you?’

Adrian chewed his bottom lip, he didn’t feel anything different. Perhaps there was no curse, or maybe he had to interact with it longer.

The handwriting was the exact same, all doubt he had for its true creator vanished.

Should he answer realistically?

“Lutain?” Adrian hissed, peering around his room. Almost on cue his familiar slid out of his charmed box, flickering his tongue quizzically.

“Yes, Master?” Lutain looked at the book in puzzlement, not seeing why Adrian was speaking so cautiously.

“This book, it’s possibly very cursed.” Adrian paused, “If something happens, I need you to push the book or hide it, and get help for me.”

Lutain tensed, “Is it smart to work with curses?”

“Probably not, but it’s my father’s.” Adrian swallowed, “And it involves the Chamber. Just...watch the door, you remember how to turn the handle? Alright, wish me luck.”

Adrian ignored how his snake watched cautiously. He dipped his quill in ink and scratched out the letters painfully slow.

‘Adrian Selwyn.’ He wrote, watching the words vanish into the pages themselves.

‘Hello then, Adrian.’ It replied almost instantly, seeming so friendly, ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you.’

Adrian paused, and sighed. What was he hoping for? There was no way that this diary and his father would trust him so readily.

‘I know you opened the Chamber,’ Adrian wrote carefully, ‘Where is it?’

The words sunk in, and he didn’t get a response until nearly two minutes later. The words were written considerably slowly, although not with hesitation of pondering words.

‘I’m sorry, I just caught the Heir, I don’t know. But I hear your school is suffering what mine did as well, fifty years ago. Shall I show you?’

Adrian scratched two letters, ‘No.’

He could tell he was confusing the book, although it was doing a marvelous job at hiding it.

‘Alright,’ It almost seemed to test the water, ‘It sounds wonderful that the situation is under control once more.’

Adrian snorted against his better judgement, a smile curling at his mouth. Was this what it would be like to actually have a conversation with his father?

‘My name is Hadrianus Selwyn,’ Adrian wrote carefully, ‘I have a familiar, his name is Lutain. Only two people can speak to him,’

‘That’s very interesting, as well as your name. You are very lucky to have a familiar while also in Hogwarts. I hear it is very difficult to obtain one.’

Adrian wasn’t entirely sure the book hadn’t been charmed with a monitor spell. Anything he wrote could be rewritten someplace else; he had to be subtle.

‘You could talk to him as well,’ Adrian wrote, hoping that the book was picking up the now not so subtle clues. ‘He was a pain to speak to at first.’

‘I’m sorry, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I wasn’t aware of a creature which could speak English fluently.’

Adrian growled annoyed.

‘I thought you’d be smarter for the Heir of Slytherin,’  Adrian scribbled out frustrated.

‘I’m sorry, I only caught the Heir.’

The book was being evasive because he didn’t trust him, which was understandable given that it was talking to a stranger.

“It doesn’t trust me,” Adrian hissed to Lutain, who was still peering at the book questionably. Adrian hadn’t ever taught Lutain how to read English.

“Nagini?” Lutain offered, “Only something Nagini knows?”

“Like what?” Adrian sighed, “I don’t know what much about my father to begin with.”

This book would start getting sassy if he didn’t start responding fast.

‘You’re being very uncooperative.’ Adrian huffed, flinching as the book suddenly dropped in temperature. It was seeping cold, tingling up the nerves, It stung, creeping like a numbing tar in his blood.

‘Stop that,’ Adrian scratched out, hand shaking slightly.

At once, it receded and paused.

‘Stop what?’ It asked innocently, the strange sensation tickling the back of his head.

‘Reaching up,’ Adrian wrote awkwardly, ‘Going up my arms.’

‘You can feel that?’

‘Yes.’ Adrian wrote, was he not supposed to?

It flared suddenly, not burning or tingling but moving up his hand once again. Rolling oil invisibly over the surface of his skin.

He felt it touch his barriers, sliding through like legilimency without any mind.

Adrian choked, folding over and clutching his scalp between shaking hands.

“Master?” Lutain hissed in alarm, “Master?”

“Possession,” Adrian choked out, feeling as if the invisible presence was clawing in his throat, “It’s-”

‘Oh,’ an invisible presence whispered, sliding between each wall of his mind like water, ‘oh,’

Then it receded, withdrawing so fast it left Adrian slamming backwards heaving against the back of his headboard.

“Back!” Lutain hissed, rearing in a lethal display as he revealed his long fangs, glaring in Adrian’s face with the viciousness of a wild animal, “Leave!”

“It’s me,” Adrian blinked, wincing as he fumbled for a vial of pain relief potion he received for Christmas.

He almost kicked his foot out to send the book flying across the room. An artifact with sentience strong enough to possess someone? What was his father thinking? At least he knew the book wasn’t spelled to compromise him.

A single word scribbled back across the page, shaky in contrast to its normally precise lines.

‘How?’

So now it believed him. It was alarming and a bit terrifying how quickly it demolished his Occlumency shields, he was proud of them.

‘I’m your son,’ Adrian wrote, his handwriting shaky for what was happening, ‘Voldemort is injured. The Chamber of Secrets has been opened and I can't find the entrance.’

‘Impossible,’ It wrote instantly, ‘Voldemort cannot be harmed.’

So his father had a god complex as well.

‘He is,’ Adrian tapped the edge of the quill against his lip, ‘He looks like a mandrake.’

‘What.’ It deadpanned. Adrian paused with his quill still on the page, ink seeped into a larger blot the longer he waited, ‘A mandrake. A screaming shriveled root.’

Adrian slid the book out of his reach and onto the edge of his bed. Its pages flickered quickly, moving from cover to cover like a whirlwind. It snapped shut, spine creaking loudly.

“What is it doing?” Lutain asked curiously, he hadn’t ever seen a book act like that before, “Is it angry for being read?”

“No, he doesn’t like how my father looks like a plant.” Adrian responded calmly, waiting for the diary to end its temper tantrum, “Apparently it’s a sensitive subject.”

The book swung open to an empty page, quickly spreading black ink across its page.

‘A lavatory. Speak in the tongue under the sinks. A girl was killed there.’

Adrian’s eyes widened- the ghost he had been talking to earlier? The one that screamed at him?

Of course, she would scream because he was similar in appearance to her killer.

‘What is the monster?’ Adrian wrote back calmly.

A single word filled the page.

‘Basilisk.’


 

Adrian was forced as the days continued, to pick his classes for the next year. Some people chose classes that were sure to be very simple to learn, Divination mostly. Adrian felt compelled to take Care for Magical Creatures, something about the course seeming highly interesting to him although he would likely be caring for slugs.

Ancient Runes also seemed important, as well as Arithmancy

In the end, he chose to take Ancient Runes and Care, leaving his schedule free to fill with his other required core classes.

Now that Adrian had talked to Tom Riddle over the more darker materials, he often took the diary with him to have conversations about everything he could whenever he could.

He found out, that his father was actually an amazing teacher.

With Tom Riddle’s written instruction, Adrian actually had confidence in his Occlumency. It was almost like holding the diary and focusing on his shields, somehow gave him a boost- like the diary itself was assisting him with making them stronger. It was entirely plausible considering the book had the suspicious capability for possession.

Then he ran into Hermione.

He scowled, glaring at her cold enough for the girl to freeze. Hermione managed to look guilty, and walked over before tugging on Adrian’s arm to pull him away from his chair and his books.

She dragged him around a bookshelf where they were a bit more secluded.

“Adrian, I’m really sorry-” She started, voice jumbling and jumping to explain, “You probably know that we had the Polyjuice potion... but we just wanted to ask Malfoy!”

“You used a deal against me.” He growled out angrily, “You snuck into my dorm to spy on me!”

Hermione chewed her lip uncertainly, and nodded.

“I have nothing left to say to you.” Adrian bit out, and Hermione grabbed his arm once more.

“I need your help!” She blurted, looking embarrassed, “I- I know you know a lot about magical creatures and I can’t find the right book so I was actually looking for you and...”

“Hermione!” Adrian hissed out, nearing the end of his patience.

“Basilisk!” She blurted, seeming unsettled but looking at him hopefully, “I think the monster is a basilisk!”

“Impossible.” Adrian ground out, “Basilisk’s can’t survive in this climate. Not to mention that if it was, Potter would have heard it-”

“He’s not a Parseltongue!” She exclaimed angrily.

“And the monster isn’t a basilisk!” Adrian hissed back, “Why don’t you busy yourself with course selections, or go read something useful.”

He turned and dismissed her, not feeling a shred of guilt when she looked very much like she was about to cry.

He returned to his spot, pausing and noticing at once something was askew.

He sorted through his books, mouthing the titles as he went.

It took him until he had placed them all back in his bag that he realized the diary was gone.


 

The next week, he heard the Basilisk travel through the pipes again.

He had rushed to the washroom in question, peering at all of the sinks but he hadn’t found any symbol for a snake. He still hadn’t managed to get to the chamber.

It was Hermione who was found petrified.

With how annoying she had been getting, a part of Adrian wished the basilisk had killed her.


 

With the recent attacks, the failure to find a culprit, and lack of knowledge of what the monster actually was; Dumbledore was suspended from Hogwarts by Minister’s Orders.

People were more frantic, the hospital wing was entirely shut down and permitted no guests. Classes were covered with the strictest security, and students moved in large groups.

The Exams were to start on the first of June, one week from today.

It was asinine that they were still getting exams- classes were canceled left and right in fear of the attacks. The library was closed from being a crime scene, and each house had a strict curfew.

Three days before the first exam, Professor McGonagall made an important announcement. The Mandrakes had finally grown to a point where the cuttings could be used to revive those who had been petrified.

The time was drawing short, the window of opportunity for the diary to act was down to just days.

Adrian smiled when he heard the announcement for all students to go back to their House Dormitories. That meant there was another petrification, which meant the diary had decided to take actions.

Draco stared at him horrified as he made his way the opposite direction of the Dorm.

“Adrian! Where are you going!” Draco hissed, and Adrian simply smiled. A breathless excited smile which left Draco standing stunned. Something wasn’t right about his eyes.

Adrian walked away, thankful that Lutain had fallen asleep in his pocket.

“Wake up.” Adrian giggled, sliding behind a tapestry and pulling out his wand, “It’s time to go to the chamber Lutain,” He practically crooned.

He casted the disillusionment charm on him, feeling the unsettling sensation as he walked through the now empty hallways with ease.

“What?” Lutain stumbled, waking up sleepily, “What time is it?”

“Time for the Chamber,” Adrian hissed, knowing that there was no risk while invisible, “Let’s head to the Chamber and see the basilisk.”

They walked to the washroom, there was a message written in blood right where the first message had been written at the start of the year.

“Her skeleton will lie in the Chamber forever.” He read quietly in English, lifting a fist to bite it sharply. He would have laughed otherwise- out of sheer relief. Everything was working, the diary had taken a body.

He didn’t bother with investigating the sinks, “Open!” He hissed loudly.

The sinks ground, and slowly slid open to the beautiful sight of a hole in the ground.

Adrian stepped into the hole and slid out of sight.


 

“Look at the shed!” Lutain gasped, flickering his tongue at the huge hollowed form of the shed skin. It was twenty feet long and pale white with imprints of scales larger than Adrian’s fist.

There was something freeing about being in this chamber- miles underground. There had never been documents saying that the Chamber existed. No wards, spells, or maps ever drew it. It was completely untraceable, unmappable, which meant no matter what sort of spells Adrian casted, he would never be found.

His face was starting to hurt from smiling when he reached the next set of doors, two carved intertwining serpents with glittering green eyes.

“Open,” Adrian laughed, watching as the door cracked apart and each half slid out of sight.

Adrian walked forward, nearly skipping.

He and Lutain were standing at the end of a very long, dimly lit chamber. Towering stone pillars were decorated with more curved serpents, rose high into the dark to support the ceiling.

Adrian pulled out his wand and walked between the serpentine columns, his footsteps echoed loudly off the shadowy halls.

At the last of the pillars, a statue high as the Chamber itself loomed into view, standing against the back wall. Adrian had to crane his neck back to see the face above: something monkey in features with a long thin beard.

At the base of the floor, a single prone red haired girl lay.

“Ginny Weasley?” Adrian asked, his voice echoing loudly, “Seems a bit strange to possess a pure-blood.”

“It worked, didn’t it?” a soft voice answered him behind.

Adrian turned slowly, holding his wand aloft.

The tall black haired boy was unmistakable, although he was eying over Adrian with interest, “You have my face,” Tom said, blinking in surprise and some sort of pride, “And my hair.”

“Blood adoption,” Adrian explained, trying to not seem strange with how intently he was looking at Tom Riddle. He hadn’t ever seen his father look remotely humanoid, seeing him like this was baffling and thrilling. Adrian wondered how similar they really would look once he grew more.

Ginny made a loud whimper, echoing through the hall.

Adrian looked down at the girl, “She isn’t dead?”

“Almost,” Tom sighed, looking at her fondly, “She was a wonderful pawn. As she grows weaker, I grow stronger.”

“Did you possess her the entire time?” Adrian asked intrigued, “Or only at times?”

“At times,” Riddle confirmed, prodding the girl with one of his shoes, “She was pathetically easy.”

“Are you able to go back into the diary?” Adrian asked, “It would be easier to take you out of here.”

Riddle was still eying Adrian with some sort of fond affection. Riddle stepped forward, bending slightly and with one hand touched Adrian’s cheekbone. Then his jawline, he pinched his chin and turned his head side to side to observe it better.

“You do look like me.” Riddle hummed, “So strange, I never thought I would ever have…”

He trailed off, and then he smiled. It was a wide breathless smile which somehow made something in Adrian’s heart stir.

“Has my older self taught you spells?” The younger asked excitedly, “I could feel you when you walked in here- why is that?”

“You can feel me?” Adrian’s jaw dropped, “How?”

Riddle shrugged and offered a sharklike grin, “Would you like to see Adalonda?”

“The basilisk?” Adrian asked excitedly, looking around the chamber.

Riddle turned, looked up at the statue and hissed loudly, “Speak to me Salazar Slytherin, greatest of the Hogwarts Four.”

The stone mouth slid open, and from the empty cavern something slithered from within.

“Adalonda,” Riddle spoke, “This is a friend of your noble kind. He speaks and is of my blood.”

The basilisk hit the ground, its eyes were greyish and clouded by an extra eyelid. It’s girth was amazing, it’s hiss was loud enough to echo.

“Another speaker?” It spoke, voice much more intelligent as the rest of its body landed and began to slither between them, “So young. So fresh.” It hissed, jaws opening to reveal a row of multiple fangs in its mouth, pointed and needle sharp like a python or a boa.

Lutain slithered out of his pocket and up to see the basilisk, “Your scales are like sun on water.” Lutain prattled out, nearly wriggling in excitement, “Your teeth could sink many prey.”

The basilisk hissed, tilting its head curiously, “A little one,” It cooed, “So small, are your fangs sharp?”

Lutain hissed eagerly and slid off Adrian onto the ground to rear in front of the mighty basilisk. He was a tiny twig in the wake of an ancient Oak tree.

“What is your name, little one?” It tilted its head, “You are not Nagini.”

Adrian looked at Riddle who stood with his leg resting on the deathly still Ginny.

“You had Nagini when you were at Hogwarts?”

“She’s still around?” Riddle looked interested, “She had just hatched.”

“Nagini is wise.” Lutain hissed in glee, “Master! The mark! Summon the mark!”

Oh, that was actually a good idea.

Riddle blinked in alarm, “I finished the Dark Mark?”

“A different one,” Adrian explained, removing his cloak and unbuttoning his shirt. He pressed his fingers to his collarbone and hissed directly at his skin “Nagini.”

He grimaced at the sensation and Nagini pulled her way out of his skin. Riddle’s eyes widened and he smiled at the sight of his familiar moving around Adrian’s body, “Nagini,” Adrian addressed the mark, “Tell father that the diary has taken a body.”

The snake hissed and dove through his skin again.

“That’s brilliant,” Riddle smiled, glancing down at Ginny, “I think she’s comatose.”

Adrian nodded, staring at the Weasley girl.

Her breathing was low, barely anything. Her eyes had opened at some point and were rolling around in her skull, clouded and desperate. She made desperate whimpering noises, tears ran from the corner of her eyes.

“She’s going to die,” Adrian breathed, lowering to his knees. The sound of his kneecaps hitting the stone was muffled yet sounded loudly in Adrian’s ears.

He felt Riddle behind him, peering over interestedly. His presence washed soothing black waves over Adrian’s mind; he felt it go cloudy, everything tinted by the inhales and slowing exhales.

“She doesn’t have to,” Riddle spoke, there was a soft tone in his voice, one hand resting on Adrian’s shoulder, “You could take her with you if you want. She’d live.”

He could, he could take her with him. Be declared a hero and carry Ginevra Weasley to safety from the Chamber of Secrets...

But how would he explain how he knew she was down here? How would he explain how he snuck down here? How would he explain how he saved her from the basilisk?

Then what would the story be for how Ginny had been opening the chamber?

“No, no I can't.” Adrian breathed, the soothing dark around his shoulders was fogging his mind, “She can’t live.”

Adrian almost heard the phantom whispers of something inaudible hiss ‘yessss’ deep in his skull.

“Are you sure?” Riddle sounded so concerned, “I can pull away now, not become tangible.”

“You can’t.” Adrian breathed, “You can’t kill her entirely. I have to sneak you out in the diary.”

Riddle exhaled with a smile somewhere between resignation and pride, and with the sound of a taught wire snapping, Ginny let out a choked gasp and a cry. Tears began cascading as she started sobbing wildly.

“Master?” Lutain asked, slithering over and looking at Adrian concernedly.

Adrian didn’t hear him- whispers were gathering in his head.

“You should let her live,” Riddle whispered, his mouth by his ear.

Something was thrumming ‘Kill her, kill her.’

“Let her live,” He murmured once again,”She’s in pain.”

‘Kill her Adrian,’ Riddle’s voice was clouding his ability to breathe, like smoke in his lungs, ‘She can’t live.’

Adrian jerked forward and grabbed the diary from the ground.

Ginny turned her head towards him, her eyes met him and he could see her begging. Tears ran from her eyes.

“Lutain, we’re going.” Adrian spoke, feeling like he was watching the scene from outside his body, “Adalonda, I must go. Go to sleep, I’ll be back when I can. It may be months.”

Adalonda gave a regal nod, and turned towards a tunnel on the side.

“She’ll wake up, now that I’m not attached to her,” Riddle warned, looking at the scene with some sort of half lidded amusement- like everything was coming to fruition.

‘Leave her be,’ Something whispered, its voice enticing. He almost didn’t feel his own lips moving, “Leave her in the Chamber.”

“In the Chamber?” Riddle looked almost alarmed, reaching around in some sort of mock embrace, his touch felt like smoke, “In the Chamber? All alone?”

He was breathing in the clouding poison...

“Let her starve to death.” Adrian exhaled almost dazed.

He turned and stumbled out of the Chamber, Adalonda’s scales slid smoothly over the stone until she too, vanished.

Somewhere faintly over the sounds of Tom Riddle laughing in his head, he heard Ginny sobbing.

 

Fanart of the Chamber Scene

Chapter Text

Draco Malfoy noticed how Adrian was acting the moment he slipped in.

Draco stayed awake long since the others had retired. He noticed full well that Adrian hadn't been in the Slytherin Dormitories. It was far past curfew.

He noticed instantly the second the stone doorway shifted and a lone figure walked inside.

"Adrian?" Draco asked, rising to his feet. The figure was swaying, sluggish and barely remaining upright.

"Adrian?" Draco asked again, squinting in the dark, "Are you drunk?"

It was Adrian, he had one forearm braced against the wall to keep himself upright. Adrian jerked his head upwards- his pupils absolutely blown and his expression something Draco had only ever seen on his aunt Bellatrix in photos from Azkaban.

"Adrian?" Draco took a step back, mindful of the nearby table.

Adrian succumbed to giggles, blinking quickly before tilting his head, expression shifting to something confused before back to hysterical, "Abraxas?"

"What?" Draco blinked, feeling for his wand and holding it tightly, "Where have you been?"

Adrian's expression shifted, changing entirely into a too pleasant face, a too calm composure.

Something wasn't connecting right- like the expression behind Adrian's thoughts were bubbling out into something opposite.

"I'm sorry, Draco, is it?" Adrian spoke formally, blinking dazed and puzzled by the surroundings. He shook his head suddenly, whipping his neck around with the ferocity of his movements.

"Of course, my apologies. I dearly hope I haven't left you waiting too long." Adrian apologized, face shifting and looking so heartfelt sincere...

Draco stared. Absentmindedly his hand subtly drifted to where his wand was tucked securely.

"I'll be heading to bed," Adrian announced, giving a tight lipped smile, "Plenty of packing to do, considering we're leaving soon."

Adrian walked past with grace, pausing at the stairwell as if confused before he jolted forwards as if he had never hesitated.

Draco floundered, and shivered.

He had a feeling he didn't want to know.


Dumbledore returned the next day, apparently the other eleven governors contacted him. In wake of the death of Arthur Weasley's daughter, the anonymous conclusion was that such tragedy occurred due to his absence.

Dumbledore, in the mind of the Ministry, was the best person to try and restore order.

There were no attacks since that day. The hallways were filled with an invisible smog, mourning that encapsulated everything and everyone. The windows did not shine brightly, instead they glowed a dull grey, adding to the atmosphere.

The school once more took extra efforts to try and locate the Chamber of Secrets.

They came no closer to discovery, or closure.

Adrian tried not to think about it.

(Her face was so pale and scared all alone)

Adrian imagined the smile that Tom Riddle, that his father gave him. He forced his mind to summon the memory, already distorting and warping in his mind.

He remembered the excitement, the concern and the unusual pride that his real father had not shown him.

He obsessed over the fantasy of his father- his real father treating him in the same way.

He wanted to get a similar smile- he wanted his father to teach him spells with the eagerness Tom Riddle asked him questions.

There was a part of him nestled deep and scorned inside of him crying for affection. There was a larger part of his bare being that ached for some sort of acknowledgement or recognition from his father.

He knew the diary would be the key to it as well.


The Mandrakes worked perfectly, everyone who had been petrified awoke in confusion.

It was a celebratory moment, until Hermione and those frozen were informed of the single death. They too then joined the funeral parade, never ceasing and wandering without an end in sight.

The Hogwarts Express was a gloomy thing, although people were excited to travel home. Relieved and hoping for the small shred of safety.

Lutain was moping, bemoaning about how long he would have to wait to talk with Adalonda again.

Adrian was excited for the next year as well, he had a feeling it would be very eventful. Not that he hadn't learned or accomplished a lot this year, in contrast to the year prior it was as if he had an epiphany.

The winter holidays, the persistent fear others expressed, Adalonda-

(Ginny's red hair darkened when wet, and in the poor lighting of the Chamber one could easily mistake it for blood pooling out from her throat.)

Adrian flinched boldly, smacking his head against the chilled glass window and startling Lutain from his musings.

"Master?" Lutain asked quietly, "Thing's won't be the same anymore, are they?"

Adrian stroked one finger down Lutain's head, "No, no they won't be."

The diary in his pocket burned.


Bellatrix could tell the moment Adrian walked into the house that something had changed.

Adrian held himself differently; he altered suddenly between hunching and barely mumbling to arching his back proudly and gazing at her with a cold had his wand wrapped with white knuckles and sent off spells before Bellatrix could launch a curse.

Rabastan noticed as well, and informed Rodolphus who hadn't been around enough to notice.

Adrian relished in his newfound freedom in the security of the wards. He practiced spells, spells Bellatrix had never heard before and spells which fumbled awkwardly from Adrian's mouth like he had only read them.

Adrian was growing distant. He was slowly and surely separating himself and relying less on Bellatrix. It hurt her in small pangs, a part of her cried out. She missed the sparring, the exhilarating laughter Adrian always gave when he had finally bested her. He missed hearing him chuckle under his breath from something his snake whispered in foreign tongue.

She knew that eventually he would be taken from her, yet she longed for more time.

Adrian approached her with cold eyes and curtly ordered her to take him to his father.

And then, she knew that time had run out.


Adrian walked through the halls with silent shoes and a fluttering cloak.

His occlumency walls were hardened, strengthened with the steely ability of the diary. It influenced his abilities, it snuck into his mind and made his thoughts shrouded and protected.

He opened the large doors, hearing them click behind him; this time he felt no fear.

"Father," Adrian addressed, words sliding from his tongue thick as honey as he approached and bowed, "I have a gift for you."

He pulled the diary from his pocket, securing it in his hold as he walked forward and placed it gently on the table directly in front of the skeletal creature.

He felt his father's surprise- just as he could always feel from the diary. Something sour and sulfuric that tickled the furthest portion of his mind.

"I hope it to be of service," Adrian spoke again, bowing low and smiling crookedly although it was unseen through his hair.

In his rare confidence and pride over his success, he smugly stated "It told me it would be."

He wasn't cursed, so he left.

Nagini greeted him, the real serpent. She was excited to see him, wanting to know his ventures in the 'Stone-den'. He mentioned Adalonda and suddenly he was pinned under her mighty bulk, demanding to know what she had spoken.

He smiled, and explained the beauty of her eyes and the wisdom of her words.


Bellatrix seemed to be fueled by an unnoticed fire. She constantly searched for Adrian under the guise of teaching him new spells.

She gifted him books, marked with broken quills where specific pages had information of interest.

Adrian was rather overwhelmed, although he understood it on a basic level.

He was older (although only twelve) he was of age where his father was beginning to take a special interest in him. Not only that, but he had heard the bare whispers from Bellatrix and Nagini that his father was planning to undergo an elaborate ritual, using the diary to restore himself to power.

Adrian knew that his father had succeeded when he saw all three of the resident wizards crumple to the ground clutching their forearm in pain.

Bellatrix was ecstatic, yet her normal chaotic energy was tainted by a melancholy she tried to veil. Adrian felt impassive- would his father accept him and take him under his wing? Or would Bellatrix continue to be his authority figure and teacher until he was older still?

Regardless of Adrian's own insecurities, the appearance of his father only swarmed the past followers to his feet once more.

Bellatrix hushed him and ordered him to wear his prized cloak, enchanted and charmed to keep his features shrouded from prying eyes. There was nothing to be done about his height, although various magical creatures and magical ailments could excuse such size.

The halls were filled with masked bodies and hidden eyes, each filling the large banquet room Adrian had never seen. It was elaborate, tall stained glass windows displayed the fading twilight in hues of deep lavender and scarlet.

His father stood tall, and his features were garish and horrifying.

This was what Bellatrix referred to as powerful? The serpentine creature bore a striking resemblance to a cobra, a folded reptilian hood pressed to the sides of his throat and shoulders. His father had lost all semblance of a nose, his face having been warped into the serpentine planes of scales and slitted nostrils. Around the edges of what should have been cheekbones, pitted grooves eerily similar to Nagini's heat sensing pits surveyed the room.

His eyes were the darkest red Adrian had ever seen, his body exuded dark magic like the finest perfume.

"My followers," He spoke, his voice layered with a high pitched hiss similar to his previous vessel's vocal capabilities, "how long, we have waited."

Adrian shifted nervously, sticking embarrassingly close to Bellatrix's robes.

"For the days you have all hid," his father's eyes flashed as his lipless mouth articulated the words smoothly, "uncertainly in your estates and in the comfort of your gold." he sneered loudly, aura pulsating in rhythm to a heartbeat, "the loyal, will be rewarded."

He said nothing for those who hadn't been.

"Go, my followers," Voldemort smiled, showing the barest traces of a forked tongue, "Await my instructions further, do not fail me."

The room bowed, Adrian stumbling to follow along with the movement. His father stood, sweeping across the floor and through a door further behind where he had stood upon a platform.

"Come along," Bellatrix murmured under her breath, "We are to speak with our Lord after all have left."

Adrian gave a short nod, reaching to fiddle with the hood on his cloak yet mindful that it not fall. Slowly so slowly, the room cleared. Rabastan and Rodolphus left them, throwing a cautious look from under their bone masks, a warning to keep Adrian from being harmed extensively.

Bellatrix of course ignored them as well as any maternal instinct she may have had. Her fingers grasped Adrian shoulder to steer them towards the door standing terrifyingly tall.

The door opened under Bellatrix's hand; Nagini reared in anticipation on the other side.

"Hello Nagini," Bellatrix cooed, "How pretty your scales are."

Nagini flickered her tongue, "You do not have Lutain?" Nagini seemed disappointed, "We were talking of the best rats."

"I wasn't sure how he would be received, I didn't want any unfortunate accidents." Adrian explained, more relaxed in the presence of the giant snake.

"Master keeps all of noble kind under protection," Nagini dismissed, "Bring Lutain more. His strike is fast but mine is faster."

Adrian smiled, "It is, you can down formidable prey, I hear. Can you actually eat a dog?"

Nagini's tail tip wriggled excitedly as she flickered her tongue hungrily.

"Is she going to show us where to go?" Bellatrix blinked, having been oblivious to the entire conversation.

"Yes, loud-lady." Nagini sighed, sounding exasperated, "Yes Master says to show you the way. Come, clumsy loud-lady."

Adrian almost smiled as Nagini sunk to the ground and propelled herself over the stone with her powerful body.

They moved into a waiting room, a balcony with a short series of stairs ascending towards it. Descending down the very steps, an unfamiliar man with dark hair walked.

"Bellatrix," The man said, his voice smooth and polished with poise and confidence, "I see you have brought the boy."

The man turned partially , revealing a thin nose, sculpted cheeks and dark hair framing deep scarlet eyes with the barest traces of slitted pupils.

Only through staring at mirrors and his own face could Adrian hastily recognize the man.

"Father," Adrian addressed breathily, unable to keep the baffled expression from his face. He hastily lowered his hood, revealing his own features.

His father stared at him, and Adrian hastily stumbled into a bow, not entirely sure what else could be expected of him at the time. Nagini stared unnervingly even as his father walked closer to survey him better.

His father blinked slowly, and looked at Bellatrix who had an eager expression set on her pouting lips.

"Bellatrix, I have an assignment for you." Voldemort explained, reaching into his robe pocket to retrieve a roll of parchment, "A specific ministry worker is pending an act which enables the lawful ability to evict those of creature blood from employment."

Bellatrix took the parchment delicately, holding it with reverence and respect.

"The law would create tension in several of our werewolf packs, as well as the vampire clans," His father sniffed in disdain, an expression of annoyance so positively human it baffled Adrian for a moment. "it is imperative the worker disappears as well as all mention of the law in question."

"Yes, my Lord!" She gushed, dropping to the floor to humbly kiss his father's robes, "Anything you ask!"

"You," Voldemort addressed Adrian, "will be residing in the room created for your occupancy."

Adrian had a room? When had such a thing been set up for him?

"Once you return, you may retrieve the boy." Voldemort elaborated further, adressing Bellatrix who pawed animalistically at his father's feet "fetch the Lestranges for aid."

"Yes my Lord!" Bellatrix gushed, "We will not fail you!"

Adrian gulped as Bellatrix backed away and apparated suddenly, leaving him alone with the tall handsome man who bore a striking resemblance to Adrian's own face.

Voldemort's eyes narrowed, long pale fingers tapping against the white wand in his grasp.

"Master," Nagini hissed, butting her blunt snout against the unoccupied pale hand, "Hatchling said I could have a dog."

Voldemort leisurely stroked her head, scratching just under the ridge of her jaw, "did he?"

Adrian trembled slightly, and the barest hints of a smirk formed on Voldemort's face.

"Who am I to resist such a beautiful creature," Voldemort hissed, receiving a low rumble of pleasure from his familiar.

He twisted his wand, and from the air alone, conjured a poodle.

Nagini nearly trilled in excitement, lunging at the canine and coiling around its body with muscles as thick as a grown man's thigh.

"Ditty will show you to your room," Voldemort sighed, "don't interfere with my work, boy. Understand?"

Adrian stumbled out a quick, "Yes, father."

Thankfully, he would only have to wait until Bellatrix returned.

Days passed, weeks passed, and Adrian felt melancholy and the bitter humor that was his life claw through his bones.

'Bellatrix will come back soon,' He assured himself anxiously.

Bellatrix never did.

Chapter Text

Bellatrix and the Lestrange brothers were taken into custody by the British Ministry of Magic, for countless acts of terrorism and extensive use of illegal Dark Arts.

They were served a life sentence in Azkaban, and their estate seized by the government as evidence for a nonexistent trial. The information was passed along to Adrian's father almost immediately due to his ministry ties. The public was quick to celebrate.

Word of the arrest spread faster than the court issued search warrant. Adrian was able to call upon the Lestrange house elves and order them to remove everything of Adrian's from the building. There was to be no proof or sign that Adrian existed.

From there, evidence had to remain to suggest that the house was actually being lived in; beds had to remain unkempt, the questionably edible cake Bella had made earlier that day sat out untouched, and the training room still messy from the blasting curses and burn marks.

Lutain appeared in the hands of a terrified House Elf. The magical creature nearly screamed as it practically flung Lutain towards the bed. The bed was the only spot in Adrian's room that wasn't magically being filled with boxes and random knick-knacks.

"Master?" Lutain grumbled, disoriented and confused with the sudden change as well as his sudden flight through the air, "Where are we, Master?"

Adrian grabbed Lutain and rapidly began to slide his fingers down the soft scales behind his neck. The action was repeated, over and over as the room began to fill with books and trunks. The longer he spent tracing the scales and belly plates of his closest friend, the more relaxed he became. He was finally able to fight and dispel the rising nausea.

"Master?" Lutain was alarmed, seeing as the stack of trunks began to include the trunks of dark artifacts Bella had obtained over the years. That along with Adrian's uncharacteristic behaviour was starting to alarm the serpent.

"Master where is the witch?" Lutain asked, nearly flailing to break free from Adrian's grip.

"Bellatrix has been captured," Adrian choked out hoarsly, "and imprisoned for life. We're going to live here, with Nagini and my father."

Lutain stilled, looking at Adrian with the reptilian version of confusion, "Live here? Den-mates with Nagini?"

Adrian smiled softly and stroked Lutain's chin and the small bulges of his jaw muscles, "She asked about you earlier. She likes you, you know."

Lutain cheered up, looking eager to find his serpentine companion.

Something empty was carving a cavern in Adrian's throat, "I'm glad you have a friend."

The unspoken 'Now that Bella is gone' rang loudly in the silence.

"Oh Master." Lutain sighed, voice conveying pity and sorrow.

"No!" Adrian snapped, standing sharply and knocking the snake off of him. "You said it yourself a long time ago. There's no use having friends when they'll always leave you in the end."

"Master, the witch did not mean to leave you." Lutain argued.

"If she really cared," Adrian snapped out, ignoring the feeling that something was crying inside, "she wouldn't have gotten herself captured."

"Mast-"

"She's just as bad as the Potters!" Adrian spat out, stalking to the door and slamming it on his way out.


The first time Adrian ran into his father, he found the older man in a clearly muggle kitchen.

It was old, equipped with stone countertops but rather rustic stoves and refrigeration. The accessories looked like they hadn't ever been used, leaving Adrian to only guess where the food was actually stored.

His father, holding a half eaten red apple in one hand observed him with a bored expression. It was unsettling, mostly because Adrian had the mental image of some horrific pale creature resembling the mandrake root body his father had inhabited before.

Seeing his father looking so positively normal was a sort of terror unique to itself that somehow was more horrific than even a face mauled by werewolf claws.

And as such, Adrian froze in the doorway feeling his entire body go cold.

"Well?" The older man sighed, voice tinged with annoyance, "are you going to stand there all day?"

Adrian mechanically walked into the kitchen and quietly sat on a chair.

His father eyed him critically and bit the apple again. The crunching sound drew an instinctive flinch from the boy.

The crimson eyes were terrifying, they unnerved him and watched his every move as his hands curled into fists under the table.

"You're so terrified," his father dryly stated, somehow sounding pleased with the arrangement.

"It seems, that I owe you gratitude for returning my diary to myself."

Adrian's head jerked around and watched in bafflement as his father snatched a plate of tarts from somewhere hidden. Voldemort walked over, setting the glass platter onto the table with a loud clatter. The tarts shook slightly, almost bouncing off of the gilded surface.

The tall figure slid into the chair opposite of Adrian and arched one expressive eyebrow into an inquisitive look. Adrian timidly reached out and selected one of the flaking pastries from the dish. His father didn't look any more pleased but he didn't look insulted either, Adrian assumed he was in the clear.

"I was informed of your progress, prior to Bellatrix's...absence," Voldemort's nose wrinkled in distaste, "I've been led to believe you are adequate with spellwork."

Adrian wisely didn't respond.

His father cleanly placed the remaining apple core on the table between then, just shy of the pastries. "Burn it."

Adrian swallowed and let the bubbling rush drag through his body in a dissociated exhale. His vision warped, tunneling slightly as the apple smoldered a pathetically wispy plume of white smoke. It thickened slightly, before sputtering pathetically.

Adrian felt like he was on the edge of desperation. If he couldn't satisfy his father, then it was likely that he would be disposed of.

He needed it to burn. From that desperation and incentive something in Adrian's skull squeezed his brain just so; the apple burst alight with a shimmering orange flame.

He watched the fire burn and char the remnants of the apple until it was a shriveled thing. It proved a distraction to avoid the man sitting across the table from him- until he felt strong fingers grasp his jaw and force his head upright.

At once the fire ceased, and he found himself inhaling sharply at the sight of the deep scarlet irises surrounding oval pupils. It was an uncanny reminder of the events in the chamber, which his father also grabbed his jaw and observed his face for resemblance. This time though, the scarlet eyes were not surveying his features. They were locked with mesmerizing force on his own eyes and searing into his memory.

He felt a buzzing in his skull as his mental barriers were nearly obliterated. They were pathetic, even with the pride that Adrian had felt with their construction.

Adrian was breathing heavily as he felt sharp needles stab into varying levels of his consciousness. A low tingling buzz near his spine warped with the sensation of an Eagle's quill jamming just behind his left eye.

He could feel a low whimper slip from his mouth as the thorny presence withdrew from his mind; the scarlet eyes broke contact and left Adrian reeling and withholding tremors.

He could tell his father was disturbed over something; he could tell in that small portion back in his skull which always instinctively told him how his father felt.

Then, metaphorically before his eyes, the presence of his father's emotions retracted.

"Fascinating," His father murmured under his breath, glancing off at a point past Adrian's left ear. His father lifted a long pale finger, pressing it to his own temple to heighten concentration. The dark eyes flickered back to Adrian who quickly looked away.

Adrian kept searching in his mind, navigating around the wreckage of his occlumency walls to investigate the portion which felt numbingly separated.

Then it opened, unveiling like an eyelid to stare into the ruins of Adrian's mind. With an absence of subtly or caution, something intruded with searing black limbs from it. Squirming limbs of a thousand octopus' grasping and reaching and touching.

Adrian gasped outright, collapsing heavily against his chair as the sensation of cold water filled his skull. It was spreading, filling him and leaving jaw chattering tremors in its grasps.

He was torn away from his own eyes, his vision darkening as his mind separated from his own sense of sight and sound. He was wrapped and entangled in the confines of something long and nimble; endless with no distinction between head, body, and tail.

The thing hissed something wordless and without meaning. It tightened, stealing his withheld breath and caressing his flesh like a dementor's grasp.

Then it was retracting slowly and leaving Adrian alone.

Adrian gasped something discourteously and blinked.

His eyes somehow recovered from their blindness. He was once again aware of his own body and how his limbs had spasmed and curled in. He pried his limbs away from where he had hunkered into a fetal position on the chair. He jolted his head upwards from the strange position it had been holding. He didn't remember holding his neck so stiffly during the...

"None of that," His father hushed without kindness, voice loud against the pulsing in his head.

Adrian swallowed and shakily wiped aside the tears that cascaded down his cheeks. His hands were curling tightly into his trousers, the knuckles burning with the intensity of his grasp. Water brushed down his cheeks in a tickling sensation, dripping from his chin onto the polished floor. He was crying- in front of his father...

"Those muggles," the elder mused, voice sharp and cutting in the air.

"The...Dursely family?" His father asked out loud although his tone was entirely rhetoric.

"Don't hurt them." Adrian's voice was automatic, he paled once he realized his flaw, "I- I meant please, Father."

His father had a frown curling on his lips. His eyes seemed to glow and once again Adrian felt himself quivering.

"How long have you had access to my mind?"

Adrian's eyes widened in shock and noticeable confusion. "I...What?"

In return, the presense in his mind made itself noticeable once more with a pulsing flare. It almost echoed a heartbeat, slower and deeper than Adrian's own fluttering.

"That?" Adrian asked, voice nearly a whisper as he felt it leave a soothing sting in its wake, like the burn of hot water after a bitter cold.

"Always," Adrian tried to speak firmly, mentally criticising himself as his voice cracked uncomfortably partway through.

His father frowned, displeased with his answer.

"Always?"

Adrian was right, he was displeased.

"I take it Bellatrix didn't place the chalice in your room, then."

Chalice? What chalice?

"No," Voldemort scoffed, blinking quickly in thought while a thin finger tapped against his lips.

"Perhaps... boy."

Adrian's head snapped around to stare at his father once more.

The man drew his wand this time, and Adrian couldn't help but flinch away from the dangerous weapon.

The wand slowly pointed at his face, carressing his jaw and cheekbone before resting on the bridge between his eyes and eyebrows.

Eyes once more locked together.

Red met green.

His father bit out, "Legilimens."


Adrian struggled to consciousness with the exhaustion of spending an all day awake. His head throbbed and he felt like something was compressing his chest.

No, something was compressing his chest. Something long and somewhat chilled.

"Master!" Lutain hissed excitedly, sliding his way over and onto Adrian's chest, "You are awake!"

"Get off me Lutain," Adrian slurred, blinking awake exhaustedly and knocking aside his excited serpent, "My head is killing me,"

"Likely due to the hour I spent unravelling the lamentable shields you called Occlumency."

Adrian jolted awake, recognizing the voice neither as Lutain or Nagini. He struggled to right himself, pressing his back flush to the wooden headboard.

His father was sitting in a chair, reading a book near the foot of the bed. The book closed with a clatter. It was thrown onto the bed near Adrian's feet.

"They would jeopardize your work at Hogwarts," his father drawled, a small smirk playing on his lips, "A greeting gift, from father to son."

Adrian blinked in confusion and in slight amusement at how awkwardly the words sounded. He had no idea what the man meant.

What gift? The book? Adrian couldn't read the cover from where it landed upside down. It looked old and well beyond his own reading level.

If not the book, what else did the man mean?

Adrian poked around in his mind, preparing to scrape over the mess of his walls- before brushing against something secure and strong.

"How-" Adrian blurted out without thinking, testing the barriers; they were more impressive than anything he could cumulatively structure over years.

"It seems that there is a connection between us," his father explained regally and politely, "a passageway from my mind, to yours."

"You felt true feelings, Master!" Lutain enthused, butting his snout against Adrian's arm excitedly, "You spoke true! Not yours but felt!"

"Indeed, he is rather observant," his father slipped into Parseltongue easily while holding one arm out for Lutain to coil through the fingers.

"Remarkable for his age." His father admitted after a slight pause, not bothering to look at Adrian as he complimented him.

"Silly hatchling," Lutain agreed, flexing his body between the nimble fingers.

Adrian wanted to grab his familiar and pull him from the older man's arm.

"The shields will last against that headmaster of yours. Of course, I'll make sure they're still operating on a regular schedule. Be sure not to challenge him directly, it will only arise suspicion as to why yours are now so advanced."

"Will you be entering my mind again, Father?" Adrian scraped out hoarsely, bowing his head to appear as humble as he possibly could in the situation.

"None of that," his father scowled, crossing his leg over his knee.

"You are not a servant."

"I..." Adrian's breathing stuttered and left him awkwardly pausing in the middle of his thought.. He wasn't a servant? He had been led to believe he would become a Death Eater once he had matured enough to partake in raids.

"You're my heir," his father explained stiffy, "My followers are expendable. You, are not."

Adrian's mouth fell open quietly in shock.

"You are to be raised as a weapon," Voldemort continued, swiping his hand to adjust his dark hair from his eyes.

"A weapon-"

"But, given recent information that has now presented itself, that has changed."

Adrian looked at the equally baffled Lutain.

"You are to be trained," Voldemort continued as if Adrian understood everything he was saying, "Originally Bellatrix was to be your teacher. Given her absence and your new position, I shall be your teacher."

Lutain tensed, staring at Adrian with resignation.

"You?" Adrian nearly whispered out, eyes wide with a mixture of fear and fascination.

Voldemort stood, glancing back at Adrian with some sort of amusement, "I would not kill something precious to me."

Adrian echoed back the word in a considerably higher pitch, "Precious?"

Voldemort smiled something wicked, and left the room. Adrian could have sworn that his father's eyes glowed.


Adrian hit the ground painfully with a crunching rattle that vibrated through his left shoulder.

The curse soared over his head, leaving him safe for only a moment. Adrian scrambled to his feet, already attempting to run to avoid the next flying spell.

Each spell was lazily flung at him; nothing difficult yet obviously the caster was enjoying himself.

"Incendio," He heard the voice loudly drawl, a pathetic first year spell just to spite him. Adrian yelped as a plume of fire nearly incinerated him, something impossibly strong for a first year spell. Adrian almost doubted that it even was that spell, even as he heard it cast.

"Aguamenti," Adrian gasped out, hacking from the sudden soot in the air. The water collided upwards to snuff out a small portion of the flame. It hissed angrily, erupting in a dark plume of steam

The fire... Adrian couldn't see anything through the inferno. It meant that his attacker wouldn't be able to either.

Adrian's eyesight tunneled and his vision flickered. He swooned, nearly collapsing as his head ached against the painful pressure. He coughed, nearly rolling into the movement which transformed into a dry retch. The ground around him sparked and flared with heat, adding to the stifling temperatures.

"Come on," He breathed exhaustedly, swallowing harshly against bile as his magic fluttered and the flames began to falter, "Come on,"

They grew, dancing around him in a careful circle of fire, concealing him and protecting him in the middle of the blaze.

He released the nauseating pressure, allowing the tongues to lick the floor hungrily; he keeled and braced his arms on his knees for a moment to catch his breath.

"Alright," he whispered under his breath, trying not to cough as he struggled to focus- where had all the spells been coming from?

He pointed his wand in the desired location, and with as much hope and blind luck he could feel at the moment, whispered the spell he had learned from Theo.

"Langlock," He casted, seeing the nearly invisible spell shoot off and counted to three.

The flames lowered like a curtain dropping and Adrian felt himself beam as his father glared at him, tongue glued to the roof of his mouth.

He was too exhausted to laugh but he felt the bubble of hysterical glee press on his chest. He felt winded and exhilarated from finally getting higher ground...

Then he felt winded for real, as the air from his lungs suddenly was yanked out.

Adrian's eyes bulged and he fell to the ground, hands clawing at his throat as he gasped soundlessly. Almost at once, the sensation left; his father waved a contorted hand over his face, silently casting the counter spell.

"You forget that you are not unique in your ability to cast wandless and wordless magic." His father explained calmly, eyes almost flickering in the reflections of the surviving embers decorating the floor.

Adrian grinned silently, "Doesn't mean I didn't get you." He wheezed, his throat burning from the effort.

His father flicked his wand without even looking, accurately sending a minor stinging hex. Adrian yelped and hissed in pain once it hit; his shoulder throbbed mutedly from his botched dive for the ground once the blaze started.

"Why didn't you shield?" his father asked critically, looking him over for major injuries while absentmindedly conjuring two chairs.

"I wanted to dodge, make a distraction instead," Adrian shrugged with one shoulder, already feeling that his tactic was lacking. His father gave a heavy sigh, as if he too had assumed Adrian's strategy would be ridiculous.

Adrian used his forearms to pull himself upwards, clambering over to settle into the conjured chair with a small grimace.

"Evasion is not a reliable tactic," Voldemort scoffed although his tone made it seem that he had repeated that phrase to others often.

Adrian shrugged, keeping his head low and relying on how much his father hated when he stewed.

"That's not the real reason," Voldemort spoke lowly, although not as threateningly as he was well capable of. The man ran one of his long pale hands through his hair, shifting the bluish strands to rest behind his ear.

Adrian checked his shields to assure himself that they were still in tact. He still knew better than to flat out lie to the man, plus it was unlikely he would be cursed for simply not having been taught.

"I can't cast it," Adrian muttered under his breath, admiting the truth although not being especially happy about it.

"Bellatrix never taught me to shield." Adrian elaborated once his Father pulled his hands up to rest them under his chin in a long suffering look of annoyance.

"She likes to have her targets run like headless chickens" Adrian almost smiled at how pinched his father's voice sounded. Obviously he had problems with a similar tactic before, although he still spoke of Adrian's mother figure fondly.

"Then we'll have to teach you. Come."

"What... now?" Adrian gaped, stumbling to his feet whereas his father gracefully rose, "I...I don't know an incantation-"

"I'll show you," Voldemort stared at Adrian as if his child had said something momentously idiotic, which, Adrian considered, he likely had.

"The incantation is protego," his father instructed, drawing his wand before flicking his wand and summoning the whitish shield spell insanely quickly.

"I..." Adrian elegantly articulated around how fat his tongue felt in his mouth. He struggled to recall what he had just seen, as well as what he had heard. After using wandless magic, his head always pounded like there was a Manticore loose in his skull.

"Watch," his father sighed yet repeated the action considerably slower. He didn't seem as irritated as he led on, in fact, Adrian suspected the man actually liked teaching

Voldemort casted the spell once again, performing it in careful slow motion of the actual process. Adrian knew casting any sort of spell in such a slowed state actually was more difficult than normal casting. Of course, if anyone could do it, it would be him.

Once, twice, three times more until he lowered his wand and looked at Adrian expectantly.

"Er..." Adrian stumbled, pulling out his Holly and Phoenix feather wand he used only inside the house and out of public eye.

"Protigo-"

"Pro-Tay-go," his father repeated, nodding for Adrian to continue.

"Protego." Adrian corrected himself, trying to flick his wand in the semi circular movement his father had executed before. It was awkward and jerky in his grasp.

They repeated it for a long period of time, until the pounding in Adrian's head was reaching a crescendo.

His father was actually a very good teacher, Adrian knew he made much more progress than he would have otherwise.

By the time Adrian was panting and bracing his head between his knees protectively and the ground was swirling ever so slightly from his small vantage point, he could summon the barest film of a protective barrier.

A considerable improvement.

He found himself actually looking forward to the next dueling practice.

 

Chapter Text

Skylar hated wearing the black suit, designed off of muggle clothing yet incorporated into classic wizarding clothing. It was soft and smooth, woven with cooling charms since Skylar wore it every year. At least, every year for the past four years.

The fabric was imbued with the scent of lavender and the barely there trace of poppy. Skylar never knew that poppy had a smell but now it was overwhelming.

Skylar exhaled through his nose slowly, peering at his reflection in the mirror quietly. He watched numbly as his reflection moved to button up the highest button on his shirt, leaving him composed and clean.

He walked out of his room, slowly moving down the stairs towards the front sitting room where he knew his mother would be fussing over a perfect bouquet of flowers. Icelandic poppies, thin tissue paper petals in almost every color Skylar could imagine.

"Oh," his mother exhaled while her mouth twisted into a teary eyed smile, "are you ready to go?"

Skylar nodded slightly, tugging on the worn cuffs on each sleeve.

"Your father sent word earlier, he and Sirius are just about done over there."

Skylar already knew this, but he nodded quietly as the two walked out of their safeguarded house and past the elaborate wards to the Apparation zone. They vanished in a sharp twist that was nothing for Skylar after Quidditch and years of experience.

The summer sky was unusually cold, cool and chilled from a recent rain. The ground squished slightly from under his polished shoes. He had the urge to take them off and take off the grey socks and press his toes through the muck.

Crickets and other invests chirped loudly, adding to the lively buzz of a summer field. The sky above was suspiciously clear of clouds, most likely spelled.

It didn't remove the stifling humidity, already Skylar felt sweat gather at the back of his neck. Somewhere over the grass, a red winged blackbird swooped low over the growing corn.

"This way, on the far side of the house." Lily Potter gently nudged her son forward. Skylar began trudging forward, not noticing anything else around them.

There was gentle music, heard before the many chairs and tables came into sight. On the highest rise of the lawn, a half circle of people stood under the sun in uncomfortable clothing all in shades of black.

"Lily!" Someone cried, stumbling down the slight hill to trudge in mud to her side. Mrs. Weasley's face was blotchy and red, eyes bloodshot and filled with misery.

"Molly," Skylar's mother soothed, taking the plump woman into her arms and clinging to her tightly, "I am so sorry."

Molly pulled away, trying to smile and laugh dismissively although it sounded choked and painful.

Two more people slid away from the congregation, sliding down to flank Skylar's sides.

"Hey, come with us, mate." One of the twins urged, giving him a gentle pat on the back. The other looped one arm through his arm and gently tugged him along.

It was surreal, to witness something so quiet and unsettling in broad daylight. Skylar had long since grown used to the sound of his mother crying behind closed doors. To see it in the open was something unreal.

Everything he was seeing was unreal.

The twins led him out of the thickest of people over towards the back steps of the crooked house itself. Over there in the shade, the mugginess was less stifling.

"You want to stay out of that mess, mate." One of them advised, the other plopped down to his other side on the steps, "it's just a bunch of crying. Figured you've had enough of that."

Skylar did, he had enough of that for a lifetime.

"Where's Ron?" Skylar asked, his voice sounding hoarse and croaky even in his own ears.

Fred, Skylar decided, paused and then exhaled heavily, "He's been up in his room. Hasn't come down for days since we started getting the details down."

"Blew a right fit at mum the other day, when she tried to drag him out." George shrugged, the two tricksters looking relatively normal with how depressing the entire situation was.

There was a loud snap in the air as another person arrived to the event, wading from the furthest edge of the field. The headmaster, Skylar could spot him out in a crowd of a thousand people. The aged wizard removed his hat slowly, clutching it to his chest as he bowed his head toward the many murmuring people.

"Surprised he showed up," George noted, seeing the headmaster's arrival.

"Reckon he's been blaming himself over it all." Fred ended with a small click of his tongue.

"Well, he should be." A sour voice growled out from behind the three, accompanied with the rattling noise of the screen door banging shut.

"The troll emerges from his hibernation," Fred bitterly trilled out, George lifting his hands to mimic large floppy ears.

Ron flushed angrily, the red moving all the way past his cheeks to touch his forehead for a surprise.

"How are you two laughing!" He shrieked, voice cracking and instantly killing the mood.

Skylar felt a lump form in his throat as his jaw dropped, he was speechless.

"How can you just...just…" Ron struggled for a word, his lips twisting into a grimace and tears leaked from his eyes, "How can you act like you don't care!"

"Don't you say that," Fred hissed back angrily, George hurrying over to grab his upper arm as a precaution, "Don't you dare say that."

"Well you're laughing and making jokes and and…" Ron's hands flailed, "and acting like Merlin knows-"

"Maybe some of us are trying to help out around here instead of pouting and throwing a fit in their room!" Fred spat out, nearly prickling in his anger, "Great job making mum even sadder, Ronnikins."

Ron looked like he was going to pull his wand and start cursing the twins.

"Stop this," Skylar leapt to his feet, his heart pounding like a hummingbird.

"You!" Ron shouted now directing his anger at Skylar, "Why didn't...why didn't you do something?"

Fred and George leapt forward, "Come on now, Sky here's not guilty of anything."

"He's the Chosen One!" Ron screamed, his voice louder than ever before. "He should have saved my sister!"

The steady murmurs of the group over on the hill trailed off painfully quiet. Skylar was all too aware of the many eyes locked on his body. The black formal clothes felt tighter, like he was being constricted.

"Ron, I…" Skylar trailed off as he felt the itchiness of tears nearly overwhelm him. His throat hurt and his hands were shaking at his side.

"Ignore him, mate," Fred advised sourly, glaring angrily at Ron.

Ron was right, Skylar should have saved her.

"No, he's right." Skylar was whispering, not noticing the other adults start to draw closer and prevent the imminent fight, "I... I should have done something."

"Yeah you should have," Ron hissed out angrily, tears cascading down his blotchy face although he didn't wipe them away, "You killed her!"

Skylar flinched as if he had been struck.

"Ron!" Someone older belted out, brushing past Skylar and the twins with an expression of fury. "This is not the time."

The older Weasley, Charlie, Skylar recognized from the age and slightly puckered burn scar on his neck, grabbed Ron's upper arm and started to drag him back inside the house.

"You killed her!" Ron screamed, thrashing in Charlie's grip as he glared and sobs shook his small body, "You killed her!"

Skylar felt someone rotate him by his shoulder and without looking he sobbed into the chest of whoever it was. He felt another body at his back, successfully muffling the noise of Ron's shrieking and isolating him from the outside.

"Is everything okay over here?" Mr. Weasley spoke, placing one hand on each of the twins. From the securing circle the two boys made, Skylar's sobs could faintly be heard.

"Fine," George clipped out, glaring at the general vicinity of where Charlie had dragged Ron inside, "We're gonna take little Sky out back to calm down a bit."

James Potter arrived, running lightly over the lawn with a flushed worried expression. The murmurs from the direction of the tables began rising once again, filling the air with the sound of chatter.

"Everything alright?" James asked concerned, looking inside the protective dome with paternal instincts.

"Sounds like Ron had a bit of an outburst, James." Mr. Weasley sighed, running both hands into his tired eyes, "The boys are going to take him around back, maybe to look at the chickens."

James gave a slight nod and looked at the two twins with a sorrowful look.

"Head up, boys," He smiled grimly, ruffling their hair with a small exhale, "It gets better."

The two adults walked off, ignoring the disgusting squelching of grass and mud. The twins held Skylar close, watching the house and windows for movement before they retracted their arks carefully.

"Sky? Mate?" The one asked, peering at the blubbering twelve year old cautiously, "We're going to head around back for a bit, look at some chickens and imagine they're Ron."

Skylar smiled slightly against his will and he nodded slightly into whoever's shirt he had essentially soiled. He let it go, wiping his face and nose quickly to dispel the disgusting amounts of snot.

Each twin took a hand, and between the two they swung his arms ridiculously in such a way Skylar found himself smiling despite the gloom. They made their way carefully around the house, approaching the coop where several hens clucked curiously.

Skylar instantly went to the hutch, opening the hatches to peer at the startled birds who observed him with nervous glances.

Fred poked around, scaring the bird away as he retrieved an egg. It was light brown, speckled slightly around the top.

With no grace or hesitation, he smacked it over George's head. The latter spluttered, reaching upwards to investigate the yellow yolk which dripped down his nose.

Skylar laughed, an ugly gasping noise but it was a laugh nonetheless.

George sniffed and reached into the opened latch, grabbing a bird and throwing it right at Fred who fell backwards at the flailing hen.

Skylar laughed again, this time the sound was almost peals of laughter bordering on hysteria.

The twins looked at each other in relief, before flopping onto the ground. Thankfully, nearest the coop the ground was still dry, if only a bit dusty.

Skylar settled down near them, playing with strands of grass through the holes in the wire. The hens approached curiously, pecking at small ants or at the strands of grass Skylar poked through.

"He's right," Skylar spoke, voice quiet in the silence of the summer sky, "that I killed her."

Fred glanced at George quickly, "No, mate that isn't your fault."

"Yeah, even Dumbledore tried looking for the Chamber. It's been gone for centuries, you couldn't have found it."

"No, not that." Skylar felt something bubble inside his chest, under his ribs and above his heart, "I- I've killed people."

"No you haven't." The two boys spoke at once, synchronizing accidently yet still sounding firm.

"I have!" Skylar protested, voice warbling into a shriek as tears cascaded down his face. The relative calm he had crafted shattered brokenly with his words.

"No, no mate." Fred argued sternly, grasping the smaller boy and holding him close with one arm.

"You did your best, and you were a good friend." George added with only a little wavering of his own voice, "Gin really liked you."

Skylar shook his head, the tears and his movement distorted his vision as words bubbled from his lips and everything he had kept so private was unraveling under his fingertips. "No no no…"

George glanced at Fred with barely disguised fear and frantic desperation.

"I killed her," Skylar sobbed, hands rising to clutch his hair between shaking palms, "I've killed her and...And I didn't mean to and now she's dead."

Fred patted Skylar unsure, buckling as the younger boy twisted and collapsed heavily against him. The chickens clucked unconcerned and pecked at the dropped strand of grass.

"You couldn't have done anything," Fred shushed, speaking lowly even as his body soon shook gently in his own grief, "you couldn't have done anything and Merlin knows everyone tried."

Skylar braced his head in Fred's chest and screamed.

George didn't say anything but looked very much that he wanted to join in.

"I'm so sorry," Skylar bawled, voice barely comprehendible, "I...I didn't mean to."

Fred rubbed his back in a way he hoped was soothing, looking blankly at the feathered birds.

Skylar pulled back aggressively, jolting upright as he furiously rubbed at his face, "It's not fair, people die for me and it's not fair."

"Sky…" George started, only to be cut off with Skylar's watery eyed glare.

"No! First...first Harry and now Ginny and…" Skylar shook his head, hunkering his shoulders as his hands pressed harshly into his eyes.

"Harry?" Fred tentatively asked, not familiar with anyone who Skylar knew and was familiar with to be on a nickname with.

Skylar sobbed openly, "and...and we never found his body either."

"Who's Harry?" Fred asked gently, recognizing that somehow this other name was tied in to Skylar's deteriorated state.

The boy in question peered up at both of them, face skewed and pinched in an expression of pain as he bubbled out between shaking lips, "He...he was my brother."

The twins froze in fascination, confusion, and mutual grief.

"He…" Skylar shook, struggling to think through the hazy fog of mourning, "It wasn't safe, and...and we sent him to be w-with my cousins…"

Fred and George felt a chill down their arms; the unsettling knowledge that they shouldn't be listening to this.

"We only left him for a couple years, because there were wizards after us," Skylar sniffled, steadily growing calmer the longer he talked. The more the words spilled out the faster Skylar's voice broke the air; the more horrified the twins listened.

"And, and we went back, and my cousins were gone. Just…" Skylar lifted one shaking hand, shaped in a fist. He opened it suddenly, revealing nothing and exhaling quietly, "Poof."

"Sky…" Fred started, rubbing Skylar's shoulders unsure. Skylar shook his head determined, his tremors lessening as he stared at the chickens almost angrily.

"No, no I...I need to talk." Skylar argued intently, "I...we looked for him. For months, and...and one of Dumbledore's friends found my cousin's family outside Glasgow."

Skylar sniffed quietly and a small breeze ruffled through the humid air.

"I...they didn't say, but I overheard when they thought I was sleeping. They said that Bellatrix Lestrange got to them." Skylar whispered quietly, blinking rapidly against his will, "Mum went bonkers."

"Bellatrix, that bitch will get what's coming to her." George spat out, eyes narrowing in fury towards the idea of the witch, "Azkaban's too nice for her."

Skylar nodded slightly, faintly smiling as if the idea amused him, "Dad's been working since, trying to get her off the streets. He can finally breathe now that they got her."

Fred swallowed and looked across the fields, the swaying of the corn and the bright glare of the sun. "I'm sorry about your brother."

"I'm sorry about your sister." Skylar countered sharply.

Fred shrugged, rolling one shoulder as if disinterested although Skylar knew better.

"I hope she burns," Skylar whispered quietly, "does that make me a bad person?"

"Of course not," George assured him quietly, "It makes you human."

Skylar smiled slightly, not truly seeing as he was trapped in memory.

"I miss him sometimes," Skylar admitted brokenly.

"You should, I bet he was just as reckless as you." Fred teased only halfheartedly.

"No, he liked animals. Would have been a bloody good magizoologist."

"Ginny liked those horses, the winged ones." George admitted quietly.

"Harry would have known every breed, he'd give Newt Scamander a run for his money." Skylar laughed brokenly, smiling as if the idea was perfect, "and he would have had a kneezle, or some rare owl I'd never heard of but he'd pester Dad all about it. And he'd have it flown in from somewhere, like Egypt."

"Egypt has owls?" George asked curiously, smiling faintly as Skylar rolled his eyes.

"What about his classes?" Fred asked quietly, egging Skylar on.

"Oh, he'd be brilliant at Care," Skylar continued, tears lessening as a true smile spread over his face, "he'd be quizzing and asking Hagrid about everything. He was always shy but he always tried to drag Mooney to those ah, traveling creature tours."

"I heard from Charlie about the dragon your first year," George teased with a grin, "I bet he'd have been in on that."

Skylar laughed, a bright peal of laughter that seemed to echo, "Oh Merlin's Beard, he'd be camping out in the hut all night waiting for Norbert to hatch! He never liked Quidditch but he'd be there, at every game in the stands cheering me on." Skylar's smile began to turn wistful, "He should be in the stands."

"Yeah," Fred sighed sourly.

"They both should be."

Chapter Text

"Are you an Animagus?"

Voldemort didn't bother to look up from where he was writing with a black quill, "No. I found the time and commitment needed for such a transformation useless. The inability to select your alternate form presented the chance that the effort would go to something pathetic. I decided to focus my attention on more useful skills."

Adrian bit his tongue and chewed on it slightly. He felt the itching desire to learn more and inquire about what exactly was more important than an Animagus form. His father wasn't wrong, it was still possible Adrian had an entirely useless or pathetic alternate form. He could see where his father was coming from.

"What did you learn instead?" Adrian asked, trying to sound as careless as he could. He knew instantly that he failed when his father glanced at him intently from the corner of his eyes. The red of the iris was breathtaking and intimidating all at once.

A small cruel smile twisted the corner of his face, pupils shifting ever so slightly to something more oval than normal.

"Things far beyond your level of understanding and competence."

Adrian, subdued, nodded and looked back at his book - there were only so many spellbooks he could read over summer break. He was indulging himself with an elaborate book on the habits of Grindylow and Merpeople, creatures commonly misunderstood and often misrepresented, but thankfully, his father had no objections to his interest.

It could be useful, at times, to have trivial facts on vampires or werewolves.

"With your occlumency now, it would be relatively simple to achieve an animagus transformation." His father's lidded eyes did nothing to hide the piercing look behind them."Of course, that would be once your spellwork has reached acceptable performance."

"Of course, father." Adrian smiled slightly, feeling conflictingly at ease and still cautious in the room. His father had the disorienting habit of complimenting him so carefully and verbally backslapping him the next second. It left him nearly dizzy, yet never dispelled the warmth in his stomach and his silent croon at the praise; no matter the insult directly after.

Bellatrix's arrest had only been the start of a wild summer. Initially, Adrian walked as if he was on twigs. He nearly never left his room, when he did he sent Lutain out with him to scout the hallways to assure the boy nobody was there. Adrian had seen the strange fondness his father had for serpents, it seemed to him that Lutain was more safe than he was.

He wasn't sure at the start if his father was as crazy or wild as Bellatrix was. He was the Dark Lord, after all. He might not have been the same wizard who tried to kill him as a baby, but he was still infinitely cunning and capable.

And as it turned out, he was; but in a much more dangerous way than she was.

Bellatrix was an uncontrollable storm, a tornado of chaos and impulsivity with no regard for ramifications. She would injure and then coddle and croon her apologies before inflicting wounds once more. His father...he wasn't like that.

He was worse.

He was honeyed words and careful movements, everything casual and calculated to the degree that Adrian fell he was falling into role of a script.

Adrian tried spontaneity, trying to break the mold he was trapped in. Even trying to surprise the other man only left Adrian stumbling, as if everything he did, his father was already prepared for. It felt that he was stumbling on a frozen stream, no matter which way he turned and walked he only found himself following the cold trail and threatening to slip.

His father didn't hurt him, but the man seemed to know Adrian in a way which left the boy feeling so terribly exposed. The Dark Lord would say barely anything, yet two or three words spoken so calmly had the ability to tear Adrian to shreds or leave him basking in a glow stronger by far than Bellatrix's affection. How Adrian longed for such praise, the simple acts of paternal affection that were followed with such loving lacerations to his heart and flesh, leaving him trembling and crawling on the polished floor.

Nagini was a unique balm that he hadn't anticipated, her heavy bulk and weight felt like the soothing numb of disinfectant in a wound. Assuring and pleasant against the sting, and his instinct to recoil away from it.

Yet it was worth it when his father's eyes nearly shimmered, widening with such surreal light Adrian could swear they would glow in the dark.

He would casually remark about something, a simple observation. And how Adrian hungered desperately to make that observation into praise- into a smile and a proud glance that left his blood singing.

Nagini watched him silently the nights where he was left curled helplessly in a ball. Sometimes he made it to his bed, staining blankets magically cleaned the next day, and sometimes he would be left prone in the training room, wracked with tremors as his body shook to stave off the pain of phantom sensations he couldn't process anymore. She watched over him as a silent protector, a statue on the altar of Adrian's devotion.

Lutain always said that Nagini's scales shone brighter in person; from all the nights he spotted her bulk watching him silently in the dark, Adrian was beginning to agree.


"Master is speaking to guest inside the office." Nagini hissed, lying entangled with his legs in her massive coils, her large head nested near his own. Lutain flicked his tongue companionably, curled around Adrian's right forearm and his pillow.

"Who is it?" Adrian asked, stroking the long forehead of the python.

"The blonde," Nagini hissed, causing Lutain to perk up.

"Spawn of dragon-hatchling?" Lutain lifted his head upward, eyes bright.

"Draco's father?" Adrian blinked in confusion, his hisses faltering, "What is he doing here?"

"Crazy-lady, they want her back."

Adrian nearly sat upright. Bellatrix? They were planning to get Bellatrix back?

Internally he nearly grinned in excitement, and at the same time he was horrified to think that he would be forced to leave. He didn't want to go, he wanted to stay with his father here.

"I wish we knew what they were saying."

"I do." Nagini reared, lifting her weight onto her coils before headbutting Adrian's chest roughly, if still gently for a snake her size. "Self, self?"

"Nagini," Adrian winced and pushed her snout aside. "What are you-"

The tattoo slid out of his skin, flicking its tongue at Nagini, who flickered her tongue back at herself.

"Self." The real Nagini was satisfied, looking at the mark agreeably, "What does Master say?"

The tattoo twisted in acknowledgment and melted under his skin once more. The sensation made Adrian twitch.

How brilliant, he hadn't ever considered something like that before. He knew that the tattoo, the elaborate yet completely legal mark that covered his flesh worked as a messenger between the painting in his father's office and throne room. He hadn't ever considered using it as a spy, a way to learn more information he wasn't privy to.

Yet, was he actually not permitted to know the information? It wasn't him who had suggested the tattoo do it, it was Nagini who had summoned it with an eager butt of her nose. Adrian shouldn't be punished for the action of his familiar, yet something inside him cried out that maybe Nagini had summoned it on purpose. Maybe she was trying to get him in trouble.

No, she liked Lutain too much to go out of her way to try and injure Adrian.

Yet somehow the concept of summoning the tattoo was a little too advanced for her, something that seemed suspiciously beyond her understanding.

It curled and rolled under his flesh, tugging slowly like the uncomfortable feeling of Spell-O-Tape being pulled away from his skin. It tingled and itched like a burn, or a blister starting to peel.

"You're using me like a carrier pigeon." Adrian argued, not enjoying how the python was using his skin.

"I find pigeon," Lutain offered, wriggling excitedly at the prospect of using his own service. Adrian almost smiled at how his familiar tried his best to accommodate his discomfort.

They waited in bated silence for the tattoo to slither back into view. It emerged from his thigh, sliding over a hip before reporting through fanged jaws, "Raid in fall. Azkaban. Crazy-lady free with kin and den-mates, Demen-tears problem."

Adrian smiled and stroked the tattoo appreciative. It was beautiful, yet morbidly nauseating to glance at knowing it was under his body. "Thank you."

It hissed welcomingly before fading away and leaving the three.

They were planning a raid on Azkaban? Fall was still a long time away, and Adrian didn't even know when exactly in fall this would be taking place. In fact, Adrian didn't know anything. He hadn't been told any details.

He was finding out about it from a tattoo.

Adrian knew that his father was aware that he and Bellatrix were close. Wouldn't it be logical for him to include Adrian on the planning to better manage her?

Unless his father didn't want Bellatrix and Adrian to meet or be together.

"We'll have to wait and ask later," Adrian stated the obvious, stroking each of the serpent's scales soothingly. More for himself as his anxiety drifted again.

His insecurities and worries only heightened and intensified as all three drifted in and out of sleep in the afternoon heat.


"Where did my father find you?" Adrian asked, running his hand down Nagini's back once more.

The sun had begun to set, his father had called a meeting which led to the three to be confined to the room.

The light shone through the window in flickering tones of red and orange, lighting across Nagini's scales in bright shimmers, holding tints of deep green between the normal markings. Lutain's own skin, having lightened to an earthy brown for some odd reason, glowed like a smoldering fire from the sun's light. Nagini's awesome bulk was always awe inspiring, yet somehow she didn't quite hold the same beauty Lutain possessed with the changing colours of his dark and brown scales.

"Where found?" Nagini asked, humming lowly and contently from where she curled around Adrian, "In store, near castle."

"Hogwarts?" Adrian blinked in surprise, "You mean the town, Hogsmeade?"

Nagini gave a hum and lazily flicked her tongue against his cheek.

"Well, what else? Did he buy you?"

"Yes, expensive." Nagini coiled lightly on herself, seeming proud of her price. "I was hatchling, small and cold. I spoke and Master heard, and asked me if I would serve him. I said yes and came with."

"Nagini always speak well?" Lutain curled onto his master's chest. It was a good question, Lutain's own vocabulary was painfully simple when Adrian first found him. Nagini was able to hold entire conversations and even use sarcasm on the rare instance.

"No. Master use the magic and I learn the words, he speak and I become." She hissed, mouth opening to menacing proportions if not for her boastful words, "Master make me great."

"You were always strong, my beautiful," The three glanced up at the door where the tall red eyed man slipped past the previously locked doors. "I just offered to you a greater opportunity for your potential."

There was something pointed in the tone, and Adrian knew better than to think it was coincidental. His father had taken Nagini as a hatchling, sheltering her and nurturing her into a beautiful creation of lethal awe. He raised her and tended to her like a poisonous flower, as deadly and as tantalizing as opium from a poppy.

Then what was he, what was Adrian, supposed to be?

(Against his rationality, he felt like a kneezle; so eager to crawl to his feet and begging for his father's praise.)

Lutain had never quite obtaining the level of fear Adrian held for his father, and slithered over eagerly and gazing upwards expectantly.

A small smile graced thin lips as, wordlessly, a small mouse was conjured. Lutain struck it without thought, the mouse shrieking before slowly going still.

Lutain's coils pulsated, struggling to orient the mouse in a posture where the snake could better consume the creature. The rodent flailed, spasming post mortem in a gruesome display as small amounts of blood already dribbled across Lutain's body.

"You have a quick strike." his father mentioned, eyeing the limp mouse and the strangely coloured snake. "An interesting patterning as well."

Lutain peered down at his body, observing the alteration in his colour. From dark black, almost bluish, he had somehow changed in just a series of days to speckled yellow and brown.

"Summer." Lutain offered, twisting and dancing in a signature S to appear more majestic. "It is warm, and summer now."

"Your scales alter with the seasons? Perhaps a lasting warming charm would appeal to you."

Adrian didn't know how to cast a lasting warming charm. He didn't want Lutain to indulge in a spell that he hadn't cast.

Lutain hissed wordlessly, rising as high as he could without falling to the floor. It was an impressive height, just shy of his father's naval.

"Make scales dark?" Lutain hissed curiously, twisting in a cobra-esq dance. "Make strong?"

"Lutain," Adrian choked out, reaching to snatch the dangerous snake away and back onto the bed. Lutain squirmed in Adrian's frantic grasp.

His father watched him with a blank expression. His mouth was twitching into a slight frown, Adrian had no hope for understanding the expression.

"No?" Nagini asked, lifting her body up and resting her head on Adrian's bed once again, "Master make you fast."

"He's fast enough," Adrian snapped out, swallowing once he realized his insolent outburst.

Nagini opened her mouth for protest, only for Voldemort to stroke down her large head, "Silence, my dear. The spell is quite difficult, otherwise I would long ago have taught young Adrian it. I don't believe he possesses the innate ability for such magic, even if he had years to practice."

The words were ambiguous and bordering the line of praise and insult. Adrian felt almost like keening pathetically, fighting the urge to try and show him wrong.

He could, he could practice and he could do that magic, easily!

And yet, he mused on if his father intended for him to give in so easily. Why else would he have phrased it such as that, if not for Adrian to beg him to teach him anyways?

This wasn't about him though, it was about Lutain. He couldn't throw his familiar in the same danger he faced every day. He wouldn't.

It wasn't that he didn't trust his father, the man had done a remarkable job of tending to his wounds and making sure that he was always alright. He just suspected that everything was beyond his control- everything was orchestrated and practiced and no matter what Adrian did he couldn't escape.

By saying no...this was his chance, this was his choice and not his father's.

He didn't want to disappoint his father. He didn't want to hurt Lutain.

He almost felt like crying as suddenly everything was too much, noises were too loud and his ears rang loudly and he felt the tickling urge of hysterical giggles press on his chest anxiously.

"Master?" Lutain looked up, wriggling eagerly.

"Let us not pressure your young master." His father spoke slowly, the red eyes observing him in such a way Adrian knew he could see the impact of his words.

Adrian tucked his hands below his thighs and out of sight to disguise the way they shook ever so slightly.

"And let us not be hasty, Lutain. The change is quite permanent, and I would not proceed without your young master's permission."

The red eyes slyly met Adrian's own, "After all, Lutain is your familiar."

Adrian said nothing, mostly because he was not sure how his voice would remain steady. He couldn't think.

His father rolled his eyes, Adrian's eyes prickled as he felt the stifling weight of disappointing his father lay heavy on his shoulders.

"I found Nagini in a pet store, located in Hogsmeade," His father started, his tone affectionate as he gently ran his fingers over the ridges around Nagini's eyes, "The store has long since closed. She was quite young at the time, and the staff obviously didn't know her species."

Adrian leaned forward subconsciously, watching his father's face with the utmost concentration. The way he spoke was so gentle, so proud and fond. Adrian hoped that someday he would talk about Adrian that way.

"I purchased her for two galleons." his father continued. "I had to sneak her back into the castle, of course. I kept her beneath my bed with a warming charm, as at the time I had to be very careful. The Chamber of Secrets had just been opened-"

"Why didn't you return my letter?" Adrian blurted, twitching as his father looked at him questionably, "The letter I sent, about the chamber."

"My useless follower, Wormtail, destroyed the letter prior to me receiving it, something about it being hexed."

Adrian had heard that name before, he knew who that was. He was the man who was an animagus, the one who knew the Potters before everything had happened.

His father wasn't happy with the man; Adrian could imagine how his flesh would have been slowly cut away in ornate ribbons and spiraling twirls- like the peeling of an apple.

(Adrian had only seen it once, watching his leg unravel towards his knee like a Christmas decoration, feeling his wand shaking in his hand and bile rising up the back of his throat. It was only a second before his father spoke the countercurse. His muscle looked wet and purple in the chandelier light.)

"Nagini is very important to me." Voldemort continued, speaking in soothing tones Adrian had never imagined the man capable of. "She holds a piece of my soul."

Adrian blinked at the odd expression. He hadn't ever heard of it, although it did convey affection appropriately.

"As do you," his father finished, turning and locking his eyes to Adrian's wide ones

His father stood and left his room, walking with footsteps too poised for how startled Adrian felt.

He was...important?

He knew that he was- what other logical reason was there for his treatment and care? Adrian still felt the doubt, irrationally gnawing anxiously inside- was he important?

His father didn't speak to him in those soothing tones, he didn't trail a finger along his jaw affectionately as he did to Nagini. He pushed him and twirled him, cursing him and praising him and it gave Adrian the sick idea that he was simply a marionette dancing on strings.

He choked on how badly he wanted to be the best marionette his father had, he wanted to make him so happy.

Adrian didn't know how, and he was beginning to doubt he ever would.


"What type is she?" Adrian asked quietly, sitting curled in a couch while Lutain and Nagini reared playfully on the carpet- each rising into mesmerizing dances and learning what the other could perform. Nagini had the benefit of height and girth, able to tense and move the muscles along her throat and belly until her entire body was undulating while her head remained still.

Lutain in contrast was thin and fast. He reared to a less impressive height, yet could dance with cobra grace into an almost hypnotic rhythm.

Adrian's father looked up, peering over his desk at the two serpents.

"I'm not sure; she was advertised as a reticulated python, although it's more likely that the owner didn't know either."

Adrian tilted his head and observed her body, "She's a python for sure. She has the heat pits and the other trademarks."

His father gave a small hum of agreement as he quickly finished whatever paperwork he had been writing. He set the quill down in its holder and crossed his arms on his desk.

"She didn't always appear the way she does now," his father explained slowly, in a tantalizing way he did when he was telling Adrian something he should remember.

"She's been enchanted and enhanced. I...boosted her potential, gave her abilities others would never have."

Adrian couldn't imagine what else he could have done to a python. She was obviously more intelligent, perhaps he aided her in serpent abilities?

"Did you give her venom?" Adrian asked, peering at Nagini who was now flicking her tail stiffly in attempts to mimic Lutain's whiptail.

"Partially," His father hummed, avoiding the question and leaving the answer tantalizingly out of reach, "I imbued her with magic. Her body strengthened and enchanted itself and she developed the venom herself."

It made sense. Adrian couldn't imagine any store selling an animal as lethal as Nagini; if her lethality came only after she was purchased it would certainly explain why she was so difficult to determine what species she was.

"Can she breed?" Adrian asked curiously, trying to imagine how interesting it would be if such enchantments carried through to her children.

Adrian's father looked baffled, his eyebrows rising ever so slightly and his eyes widening in confusion.

"Nagini has no interest in coupling nor will she ever." His father scoffed, as if the concept was well below him and her alike.

Adrian felt as if he should argue. He didn't want to, most likely because his father sounded so sure of himself. He wondered if the enhancement he was talking about was what he had offered Lutain.

"And Lutain?" His father asked, watching the thin brown snake coil himself and flash his fangs affectionately, "No muggle store would possess such a creature, and yet he seems too exotic to be found in the wild."

Adrian smiled at his familiar, "He wasn't. I didn't buy him. I stole him, really. Accidental magic,"

Adrian heard his tone soften in affection to his serpent. "He wanted freedom."

"You stole him?"

"From a zoo," Adrian offered, almost laughing at the surprised expression on his father's face, "He wanted to leave so I took him. He was much smaller, probably only a few months a muggle species, no magic in him."

His father eyed Lutain considerably, "I have not encountered such a snake before. It is remarkable that he is as formidable as he is, without the aid of magic."

Adrian felt the glow of pride bubble inside him happily. He had to hold himself back from beaming.

Lutain peered back at the two of them, his face and skull shaped into a permanent glare.

"Very," Lutain paused, considering before slowly hissing out, "For-mid-able."

"Formidable," Adrian offered again, Lutain flicking his tongue as he corrected himself and returned to playing with Nagini.

"You're patient with him." His father noted, his tone just shy of something... new. "You haven't enhanced his mental capabilities with magic at all."

It wasn't a question, simply an observation. Adrian didn't know if he was impressed or disappointed.

"No," Adrian admitted, twisting his fingers nervously, "He... I hadn't known any spells or enchantments then. I wanted to teach him English, he's a good friend."

Voldemort nodded slowly, blinking lazily like a content crocodile. "A testament to your patience. It seems ironic that you're capable of teaching a serpent to comprehend English without spellwork, and yet you're unable to master a rudimentary shielding charm."

Adrian paused and swallowed hoarsely. It didn't help move the lump in his throat from wiggling down into his stomach. Oh Merlin, Adrian felt so mediocre...

"Then again," His father started, pausing dramatically as tensions once again rose higher, "You would not believe who cannot perform that spell. Only a fraction of my Death Eaters can cast it adequately." Voldemort huffed, somehow keeping his tone light and only minorly intimidating.

Adrian wasn't sure if he was expected to laugh or balk at the expectations set for him.

"Hatch day!" Nagini suddenly interjected, hissing with an urgency trademarked by spontaneous recollection, "Master! Hatch day!"

Voldemort caught her head as his familiar collapsed in his lap heavily. Nagini tensed and twitched, her scales expanding before contracting in movement of her muscles coiling under her skin.

"Ah yes, thank you, my dear." Voldemort crooned, assuring Nagini of a job well done, "I nearly forgot. Your birth date is approaching rapidly, isn't it?"

Adrian nearly balked, "I- yes," How was this conversation supposed to end?

Voldemort hummed a monotone which conveyed no emotion or desire to continue the conversation.

Adrian wondered morbidly what Bellatrix would have gotten him for his birthday.


Adrian's birthday was a lethargic instance of how doing absolutely nothing was wonderful.

His father lived on the belief that a day where nothing was accomplished was a poor excuse of a day itself. Adrian was held with the expectation of accomplishing something before bed everyday.

It was exhausting, yet rewarding to track his exponential knew that by the quickly approaching school year, Adrian would be miles ahead of his classmates.

The rigorous schedule was broken by the heavy weight of Nagini crushing him to the charmed mattress under a loud mantra of 'Hatch day! Hatch day!'

Adrian didn't understand how a python with a poor grasp on human behaviour was so excited for a birthday, but Nagini's mood was infectious, her loud feminine cries lured Lutain into repeating the mantra with the sparse storytelling of Adrian's prior birthdays.

Adrian padded down the stairs and into the kitchen of the large estate dressed solely in his sleeping clothing. His slightly too long trousers dragged on the floor and collected dust in a way he knew his father would hate. It was comfy, so that was all Adrian had to say.

"Master!" Lutain cheered, slithering his way up onto the counter from a haphazard collection of empty boxes Adrian had stacked just for his friend. Lutain yawned largely, his scaled lips flapping in a way which never ceased to make Adrian smile, "Gifts? Gifts for the hatch-day?"

"Probably," Adrian blinked, fishing around for an apple, "although considering Bellatrix isn't here, I may not actually get anything. Don't worry, you'll still get to lounge around."

Lutain yawned again, showing off his brightly yellow belly and his strangely sandy brown scales.

Adrian didn't have any training or spellwork. He didn't have anything extra to read or assignments to complete. Best yet, he didn't need to do anything.

Which is how his father found him buried deep into a book about the magical animal species of southern Africa, nursing a cup of warm butterbeer and wearing two mismatched socks. The best part was that Adrian was sitting sideways on the chair, wearing the ratty sleeping garments he knew his father hated, still coated with the fine crumbs of messy breakfast pastries.

Voldemort's nose wrinkled in distaste the moment he laid eyes on Adrian's posture and appearance, "I'm not sure what I am most aghast by."

Adrian peered up over the book, blinking silently and waiting for the hailstorm to begin.

His father opened his mouth, poised for the verbal thrashing, before his jaw closed with a click. The red eyes conveyed all the disgust needed, although it was amazingly reigned in.

"Come along," Voldemort grunted, losing his image of a father-figure with how his shoulders slumped in annoyance, "Nagini is excited to see you open your gifts."

He had gifts?

This was beginning to be one of the most surreal experiences in Adrian's life.

He did have gifts. Stacked in tiny piles in one of the rooms nearest to to where the post delivered. All of the packages likely had been delivered and thoroughly checked by the wards. He spotted the trademark embossed silver wrapping paper from the Malfoys, something reddish brown signed by Theodore Nott. Boxes from Pansy and shockingly enough, Hermione nestled themselves around other boxes and packages.

Draco sent him books, as well as Hermione and Pansy. It appeared books were the best default present for him. Theodore Nott tried a step further, gifting him an elaborate set of ink sticks used to create custom coloured inks of varying viscosities.

At that point, all of the gifts became better.

He had been gifted a larger cage for Lutain, nearing the size of a full sized trunk with realistic canyon walls and sandy plants growing in the substrate. It would be perfect to display his friend in his dorm room, while also granting the illusion of control. He was gifted a collection of books as well, a designer set each autographed by Newton Artemis Fido Scamander back in the early 1900's. A few even had hand drawn illustrations in the margin- ink smeared on the cover with handwritten note to a Lestrange.

The real golden snitch of Adrian's gifts, was the single crystal vial with a Animagus Transformation potion inside of it.

"I hope you know how to use that," His father sniffed, eyeing the contents with a bored expression, "In the rare occasion it is something useful, you are permitted to practice the transformation."

Adrian had the Animagus Transformation potion, he had it and he hadn't needed to even buy it.

For a split second, Adrian forgot completely that his father was Lord Voldemort.

He could hear the distant childhood laughs and cries of a birthday party, the late summer sun warm his skin as children played quidditch and he sat on the porch. He could almost taste the sweet lemonade and feel the stifling heat vanish with the slightest breeze.

This time it was his party, it was his.

He couldn't remember James Potter in his childhood memory. He remembered someone walking to the porch, seating themselves beside him and talking with a gentle lilting voice as the breeze once more rose and stirred the air.

Red eyes looked downwards curiously and a slightly amused smirk tilted lips as Adrian leant against his father with the muffled imagination of what it should have been.

Lutain jolted in surprise when Adrian nearly threw the boxes from his lap. He clutched the crystal vial in his left hand tightly as he jumped the small gap and wrapped his small arms around the waist and black coat of the imposing figure that had suddenly changed his world.

Voldemort was hit with a metaphorical freezing hex.

It was the best birthday Adrian ever had.


In some countries the age of thirteen was the age of adulthood in the magical world. It was obviously the age where his father assumed Adrian could start proving his worth.

It was ridiculous to send Adrian out on the field of battle with such inexperience. Adrian had abilities and skills most of his Death Eaters didn't- the pure fascination and desire to learn about magical creatures. He wasn't an experienced dueler; if he believed the scathing insults, then he was mediocre at best, with no imagination during a fight. He relied too much on a flimsy base ability for accidental magic, which was pathetic at best.

Adrian did know various species of merfolk, which also was pathetic. His father mused on sending Adrian out on a peace relation with various creature species in the future, although the prospect of meeting and trying to intimidate a vampire seemed horrifying.

If that's what his future was, then Adrian was going to try his best at that. He jumped into learning as much as he could from the various books he had received from Bellatrix a while back, reading and struggling to memorize all of the information he could on werewolves, vampires, giants, and any creature he likely would encounter.

The more Adrian read about Dementors and other wraith-like creatures, the more he felt something stirring deep within him.

His father had explicitly told him before that he shouldn't concern himself with Dementors. He assumed that it was because there were plenty of people locked within the depths of Azkaban, it was unrealistic for Adrian to focus his attention on something that was impossible to penetrate.

Adrian also suspected that his father didn't want him to think of Bellatrix. He had heard stories that those who went to Azkaban, no matter how long, never came back the same. All because of Dementors.

He wanted to know more, how did these shadowy beings live? How did they function? How were they so mysterious but imbued with such power?

He wanted to know everything.

(And from there he was gone.)

Chapter Text

Adrian packed the Animagus Transformation potion in his trunk with all of his things; as well as Lutain's new home and his near bookshelf worth of tomes. Even trying to push and arrange Nagini's considerable weight on the top lid only compressed the pile slightly. He unhappily had to restack and remove several of his books from his collection simply to fasten the lock shut.

On September first the Hogwarts Express left promptly, and it wouldn't do to show up late or early enough to be noticed.

Normally lucky to find an empty compartment, it seemed that no matter where he looked Adrian was forced to exchange pleasantries with younger students or the occasional annoying upper year. His reputation was working against him, after the fiasco of the Chamber of Secrets people started to view him as the more shady salesman of Hogwarts. On multiple occasions in the short trek through the cabins, he was forced to awkwardly inform equally awkward students that no, he didn't have anything on him for the trip.

One student even gasped embarrassingly loud before yanking her friend out of his way. She blushed embarrassed yet still eyed him warily. Merlin's beard, did she think he was suddenly going to throw a cursed mummified rat at her?

The idea behind such an unwarranted stigma caused him to hotly shove past, none to gently, knocking his bony shoulder into her side. He heard her gasp loudly again and murmur to her friend as he practically stomped down the hall.

He hadn't done anything, it was absolutely asinine for anyone to treat him like that.

He slid into a compartment with a strange looking younger year student, wearing dark robes with a silvery blue scarf which complemented her surreal eyes. She was reading a book upside down, seemingly enraptured in it, although it must have been entirely illegible.

Adrian stewed and slid down slightly in his seat, saliva pooling in his mouth as he bit his tongue waiting for her offensive question or action.

She didn't look up, she simply turned a page of her upside down book.

The train ran over a bridge, the repetitive sound of wheels turning changed pitch and light flickered in the window.

"That's a nice snake you have," The girl spoke, her voice feathery soft and her eyes half-lidded as if she had just woken up, "He seems nice."

Something about her face reminded Adrian of a newly hatched snake, eyes clouded and unfocused with the sudden exposure to air. No, somehow the incoherent hatchling didn't fit her. She seemed more haunting, a dream-like creature such as a Nocnitsa; drifting in and out of awareness with a state of relaxed lethargy.

Adrian stared at her with no regard to politeness. Who was she?

"Excuse me?" he asked abruptly, long past the point where a comment didn't seem awkward.

She didn't look like she noticed the time that elapsed.

"Your snake," She blinked widely, tilting her head and sending mosquito-earrings twisting gently. At least, they looked a little like mosquitos. If mosquitos normally had three wings and a stinger. "He must be a gentleman."

Adrian had no idea what to say in response.

"It's a shame with last year," She continued, confirming that she wasn't a first year, "Now people look at you like you have Bowtruckles for hair."

"Well I hope I don't," Adrian blinked, still completely baffled. At least she made a little more sense than Bellatrix. A little. "That would be a disaster."

"Yes, it would," She tilted her head with a knowing smile and the disconcerting silvery eyes. "Your hair is more blue. Like a Korruu."

"A korruu?"

"Yes. They're like giant wolves with antlers. But they have black hair and eat femur bones. It's a shame that they're being pushed out of Bulgaria- "

"I know what a Korruu is," Adrian stumbled to try and save the conversation, "There's a preservation in Hungary for them. I heard the American breed is doing well."

"Oh wonderful, I wondered if they were doing alright with the Thunderbirds and the Naki war. Silly things, Naki, they think that every storm is because of a Thunderbird. Naki just want to eat tree roots in peace, but it's hard to when the tornados keep coming around. At least they don't have any Hankypuffs fighting with them either." She smiled, beaming with strange eyes like they were filled with stardust.

What? What was, what was this girl? Some sort of Sylph? No, the sylph were much more elusive and other species of human or human like creatures weren't accepted into Hogwarts. Perhaps she was some sort of seer? A seer wouldn't explain her befuddling personality.

Then she looked back at her upside down book and ignored him for the rest of the ride.

Of course.

Just over halfway, the train skittered to a screeching stop. Lutain awoke in a fury of aggression at being jolted around in his comfy nook in Adrian's front pocket. As he cupped one hand around his chest, he could hear the muffled shouts and complaints from other students and classmates as the train teetered to an unfortunate stop.

"What's going on?" Adrian mumbled under his breath, asking his familiar more than anyone else.

"The train has stopped," The girl blinked, jolting him and reminding him that he wasn't quite alone, "I dearly hope it's not from a Boobrie."

Adrian shot her a look. "This far from a loch? Probably not, a Glaistig or a Cu Sith seems more likely..."

She smiled knowingly and looked out the window right as the sky became black. Her smile faltered, twisting her expression into something concerned.

"Master," Lutain hissed, tucking his snout under Adrian's jaw, "Master, I smell rotting death."

Adrian's hairs slowly stood on end on his arms and the back of his neck. He almost smelled the sickening aroma that a few of Bellatrix's spells gave off, brushing just along his jaw.

Clouds covered the sun from what the window of his compartment could show. The window on the door to the hallway flickered eerily, making Luna's skin look slightly green.

He heard a muffled voice cast lumos, echoed by other students; fireflies illuminating through the glass like pixies.

Adrian exhaled and saw his own breath just as his bones began to ache in his skin.

"Oh," The girl exhaled, her own breath a fine cloud of cold. Adrian followed her eyesight, seeing something fluttering and black flash past his window.

What was going on?

It was too much Bellatrix's style, her taste in dramatics. But Bellatrix was in Azkaban, this...this couldn't have been her work.

Perhaps his father, oh Merlin, was his father making a move?

Wouldn't he have told him?

There was another trail of black, barely visible in the gloom that had shrouded the window in darkness. Black trailing strands, like ribbons dancing over the glass.

At once he knew what it was, and he felt the rising swell of excitement in the face of danger.

"Dementors," He breathed, stumbling to his feet to swing open the door to the hallways, "They must be on the train for something…"

He had to see them, he had learned so much about them behind his father's back. His father had told him to not interest himself in the guardian's of Azkaban, that he wouldn't find use there.

But Dementor's were on the train, he knew that the book would be useful.

(He mentally groaned as he remembered where he had left the book, hidden in his room under his bed. It was one of the first books to be removed from his trunk when Nagini convinced him that no matter how hard she squeezed, the lock wouldn't close.

The darkness receded and the temperature rose before he could open the door to see the shadowy figures just out of eyesight.

"The Minister should have better control over them." A glance at the girl showed she was as pale and shaken as a real sylph after being so close to them. "They shouldn't be on the train."

"Don't you wish you saw one?" Adrian asked in puzzlement, this girl knew magical creatures and seemed enthusiastic over them. Surely she hungered to see the creatures that stood in the Veil between death and life too?

"No," Her voice was sharp and her eyes lost the dreamy qualities. "Creatures that are more shade than living are not for those on this train, Shadis."

For speaking of Thunderbirds before, she seemed to embody the firm boldness of the creatures.

Adrian flinched unwillingly at the firm nearly sizzling bite to her tone.

"What? What did you just call me?"

She gained the dreamy quality once again, "Selwyn, of course. A wonderful name, it almost sounds like selkie." She paused, looking pensive, "Do you think there could be selkies in the Black Lake?"

Shadis, she had clearly called him Shadis.

Adrian didn't know why that name had hit him somehow harder in his chest than the Dementor's presence had, but it couldn't be good.


Everyone was still complaining about the Dementors by the time they had reached the Hogwarts station.

The first years were split apart to ride the boats across the Black Lake in the impressive first glance at the castle. The other students waited patiently for the Thestral-drawn carriages to transfer a half dozen students at a time.

Luna eyed him boldly, not looking away even as he caught her rudeness. She was observant, much more than he had given her credit for. He knew that she had seen his accidental flinch.

She turned in the crowd, walking with the masses away and out of sight.

Despite seeing her walk pointedly out of his sight, she somehow gave the impression of fading away into the dark, swallowed up into the night.

Adrian didn't bother chasing her.

Instead Draco approached and slung one arm around his waist, careful to not bother Lutain who curled around Adrian's throat.

"Ah," Draco grimaced, "Still have that thing with you?"

"You smell like canary." Lutain hissed casually, as if discussing the weather.

"Can't get rid of Lutain that easily," Adrian smoothly stated, peering up at the Thestrals who paid no mind to him, "Did you find the others?"

"Crabbe and Goyle rode with Pansy in the last carriage. Theo, Blaise, and Daphne are waiting for us." Draco assured, turning and taking the lead towards a more weathered Thestral in particular. Theo was awkwardly avoiding looking at the creature in question.

"There you are!" Daphne sighed, brushing her hands on the green overcoat she was wearing, "Were you on the train with the Dementor?"

"No, fortunately." Adrian lied smoothly, and continued with "A pleasure to see you again, Daphne."

"Bad luck, that." Theo started, fidgeting to not look at the thestral. "Figures if anyone would see that thing, it would be you."

Adrian felt a flash of annoyance through him, burning slowly at his fingertips. He had grown so used to the respect and strange balance he and his father had, the blatant disrespect irked him in a way it never had before.

"Bad luck, right." Adrian spoke sharply, glancing at Theo coldly and irritated, "Best I not let all that out then."

Theo's face twitched in surprise at how sharp the comment was. He didn't say anything further.

"Master, can we go?" Lutain hissed, flexing against his throat, "It is cold and wet."

The thestral snorted and shook its head, as if laughing.

Theo jumped noticeably, skittering once he landed like a fawn on ice. He flushed uncomfortably, trying to skirt away from the Thestral with how anxious he looked in its presence.

What a ridiculous thing, Adrian almost felt like glaring at him.

Thestrals were gorgeous, strong yet wiry with every bone on display like an anatomy textbook.

He tried to not let it bother him how Theo cringed away from such beautiful beasts, they deserved more respect and admiration. Adrian would love to gaze upon them if he had time.

"Let's hurry on, I'm dying for the feast." Draco drawled, "Honestly, those pathetic pastries the trolley passes off as-"

Adrian quickly ignored the dull chatter of the others as he took his place nearest the window.

The carriage rolled towards the castle into the unloading area where the Prefects and house ghosts were cheerfully moving the students along into the grand hall to find their spots under the proper tables and banners.

"Draco!" Pansy shrieked, having saved a spot for him right next to her, how amusing the sight was. Draco winced but resigned to sit next to her, Adrian sat across in a spot not as good for viewing the new first years.

"Ah, still have that thing?" Pansy asked, her smile strained as she spotted Lutain uncoil from Adrian's neck to sit on his golden plate.

Lutain puffed out air annoyed, his tail tip flickering lazily to show his disinterest and offence.

"You can't keep the snake away, can you?" Blaise grumbled, seating himself stiff and dignified and ignoring the glances from two second year girls whispering and giggling to each other.

Finally the tables were filled, proportionally quieter compared to the year before. Most likely due to the somber quiet Weasley twins who looked more sickly than happy.

Adrian physically jolted when he realized why.

Ginny.

"What's wrong, it looks as if you've seen a ghost." Daphne remarked, reaching for a goblet filled with water.

"I'm fine." Adrian croaked back, trying to compose himself quickly.

He hadn't even thought of Ginny in the summer months.

He had left a girl to starve to death, wandless, alone, and scared, miles below the school, and forgotten about it.

He had murdered her-

'But was it murder?' A voice prompted him, soothing away his horror, 'You were only a bystander. You didn't kill her, after all, starvation did.'

That was true, but -

He chose to do nothing.

Nothing.

Was choosing to not intervene in certain death the same as killing her himself? And what did it matter? His father would have had her killed without question, she'd seen and heard too much. If anything, he'd given her a kinder death than his father would have.

He thought of hunger, and darkness, and fear - please let me out I promise I'll be good mom, dad, where are you! - and wondered when those things had become a kindness.

He couldn't think about that now. He couldn't.

He hadn't thought about that in a long time. He couldn't lose it now.

The large doors to the main corridor swung open, being led by Professor McGonagall with a large pointy hat. The first years all looked a mixture of terrified and amazed by the thousands of floating candles and enchanted ceiling.

"Hey," A slytherin slid down the table, one of Pansy and Daphne's friends, if Adrian remembered correctly. "You hear Potter fainted?"

Draco's neck snapped around in surprise as his jaw dropped.

"What? Tell us!" Pansy shrieked in a whisper like a baby banshee, looking enraptured in the story already.

"Yeah!" The girl giggled, a noise more dignified on Millicent. "Somethin' bout the Demen-tor stalkin' him! He was at front o' the train so it got 'im and 'e fainted! Shrieked somethin' and passed ou' righ' there!"

Draco looked positively gleeful

Something twisted warmly in Adrian's chest. Skylar had fainted, hell, he could wager that Skylar didn't know a single thing about Dementors.

He wanted to search out the other boy and laugh at his face.

The first names were called and the students walked across the stretch to get to the sorting hat.

"But tha's no' the bes' par'!" The girl continued, leaning inwards with a whisper."They said 'e shouted ou' a name o' some guy-"

"Potter's a poofer?" Draco gasped, eyes growing wide in surprise.

"Nah, nah!" The girl hushed, eyes gleaming with excitement. "Be'er!"

They were on the C's now for students.

"Better than that? I doubt it." Draco sniffed, losing interest already. "Isn't that right, Selwyn?"

Onto the D's.

"I get better information from the Hufflepuffs." Adrian baited, watching the girl scowl and rise to prove them wrong.

"Fine! Bu' hear this," She grinned at each face, waited, then dropped. "Shou'ed somethin' abou' a brother."

Adrian's heart jolted.

In the shocked silence of the table, the name of the next student rang loud and clear in the quiet of the Great Hall.

"Forestar, Suzan!"

Adrian's heart stopped.

A girl in pigtails- her face was unmistakable, sprang across the ground looking excited and nervous all the same. The hat fell over her head, contemplated a while before shouting loudly to the expectant hall, "Slytherin!"

Adrian's life was falling apart.


It was her.

It was her.

How? How? Adrian thought she was dead- she should have died in the fire. There was no way that she could be alive, not to mention here.

Suzie was younger than Adrian, but she hadn't ever expressed accidental magic. If she did she could have stopped him from pushing her down the flights of stairs, she could have stopped him from destroying her bear, she should have stopped him from-

David's cold empty eyes stared at him. His corpse had stiffened and glowed orange in reflection to the fire-

Adrian clutched his head harder and tried to keep from curling into a ball.

His father...his father could help. Yes, his father would help, because he was important to his father.

But was he really? Perhaps his father would scoff and find it a nuisance.

No, no, no he had to think that his father would help him.

Unless he had to deal with her alone.

Against his will, a flash of red hair and pale skin filled his mind.

He shook his head violently, hair whipping his face at the near manic movement. Draco coughed around his roll, eyeing Adrian as if he was possessed.

Oh Merlin, what if his father wanted him to kill her.

Oh god no, no he can't do that…

He felt bile twist and surge against his throat, stinging his chest painful enough tears welled in his eyes. He forced it down, gagging on the acrid taste as his knuckles curled and he struggled to ease his breathing.

In through his mouth, out through his nose.

The air stung his nostrils.

This? Was a disaster.

The rooms for the Slytherin students were finally moved upstairs. Theo had graciously agreed to be Adrian's roommate this year. He'd even already moved everything onto his one side, decorating the walls with earthy tones after a simple spell. Adrian had waited until the other boy left before he locked the door.

He managed to unpacked one chest before he crumpled to his knees.

It was Suzie, it was her. He could recognize her face and her voice anywhere, even as it was older. She still had those ridiculous pigtails, although she had filled out much more. Had she been adopted? Was David a squib?

Suzie had seen Adrian speak parseltongue-

If Suzie exposed Adrian, then the only student who could possibly be the heir to Slytherin would be him. They could threaten him with expulsion, they could take Lutain away from him in an attempt of a threat. Worse yet, it would give the headmaster a reason to finally start to look at Adrian, to really look at him. It was suspicious how similar Adrian already looked like to his father, he knew that Professor McGonagall was uncomfortable but had dismissed it.

But Suzie could ruin everything.

Not only that, but now a rumor spreading around that Skylar Potter had a brother?

"This is bad," Adrian choked out, clutching his head in a panic-induced mess. "Lutain, this is bad."

"I can bite!" Lutain offered, even as he was shivering with equal levels of anxiety. "Get rid of girl-"

"No no, they have tracking spells, analyzing spells, they'll trace it back to you and me both." Adrian gulped, pausing before his eyes widened even further, "Lutain, she's seen you before. She's seen you before."

Adrian crumpled, bracing his forearm against his bed as his stomach twisted and he gurgled pitifully. His jaw jolted open to near serpentine proportions as he gagged, nearly retching out the dinner he had just consumed.

Adrian Selwyn was, utterly and entirely, screwed.


When Adrian entered the Great Hall for breakfast the next day, the first thing he saw was Draco Malfoy entertaining a large group of Slytherins with a story. As Adrian walked closer, he could see Draco imitate a swooning fit to cause a roar of laughter.

"Hey! Potter!" Adrian flinched before realizing Pansy's cry was directed over his shoulder.

Skylar Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger all scowled at Pansy.

"Potter! The dementors are coming, Potter! Wooo!" Draco imitated, once more drawing laughter from the crowd.

Adrian instead walked to the table to receive his schedule for his classes. He pulled off an excellent job ignoring everyone, although it may have been from how terrible he looked. Dark bags hung from his eyes, his normally pristine hair was in disarray and he found himself jumping at all sounds.

"You okay there?" Theo asked, sliding closer to lower his voice under the level anyone else would be able to hear."You didn't sleep last night-"

"I'm fine." Adrian snapped, snatching his schedule before quickly reading it over. Hagrid was the new Care of Magical Creature's teacher? He must have missed it being announced the night before.

His schedule was custom-fitted to accommodate his strange request for Care, along with Runes and not Arithmancy or Divination. This meant that his first class would be the following day, generally the first day was a free day to walk your schedules and to find all of your classes before you were on a time constraint.

Adrian had something better to do.

There was an Animagus Transformation Potion he needed to take.


The Chamber of Secrets didn't smell, that was the first warning.

It looked identical to how Adrian and Riddle had left it. The massive snakeskin was still there, shifted to one side but still in perfect condition. It just emphasized the oddity of having a complete skeleton nestled nearest the clawed up bits of skin.

For some reason, seeing a skeleton was easier than seeing a corpse.

"I thought bodies took longer to rot." Adrian spoke, feeling as if he was hearing the words spoken by another person.

"It is wet and air," Lutain offered, uncoiling and sliding down to finally stretch and slither off into the darkness of the chamber.

No- in the tomb.

It was now a tomb.

Adrian approached the corpse, trying not to heave at the sight of the hair, dampened by grime and wet and rot, but still fiery red, and the pristine teeth still stuck by the roots.

The snake skin had suspicious marks on it, like rodents had been gnawing at it, or something, something else-

Adrian turned and vomited violently on the floor. His breakfast was expelled in an acidic slosh of juices and half digested pastries.

"Master?" Lutain slithered over alarmed, "Is threat near? No smell, do you?"

"Lutain what-" Adrian choked off at another dry heave as his stomach gurgled angrily. "What are you talking about?"

Lutain seemed confused, but even he could recognize that vomiting was a bad sign.

Adrian couldn't look at Gi- at the corpse. The corpse. He couldn't even think of how she probably was so tired, so exhausted to even try to eat the remains of a Basilisk's shed skin for food.

No. No. no, no, no, no…

He heaved with a contracting wave of pain, his stomach cramping against the movement. Stumbling onwards, he hurried into the main chamber to try and get away from the stench of bile and the sight of red hair.

His legs shook, threatening to pitch him onto the slimey ground. He nearly fell, already twisting his body in the pathetic movements to crawl away.

Adalonda was sleeping, as Adrian requested. He would awaken her but for now...

He needed something to block it out. He needed to forget.

No, no, no, no

He could see her staring at him. Lying prone and limp with lips painted in blood.

How she would lift herself up on bruised forearms, reaching out to trace his jaw gently with fingertips tinged in gore.

"You killed me," She whispered, and the soft fingertips suddenly felt like dull bone.

He sunk to his knees, the sound clicking loudly in the large dimly lit chamber. He hunkered and heaved, wet sounds from his tongue as he coughed pathetically and greenish bile dripped onto the ground.

"Lumos." He croaked out, lighting his wand as Lutain curled restlessly around where he kneeled.

"Master is this good idea?" Lutain fretted, "You smelled threat so no food-"

"No," He coughed, gagging, "It- It's a human thing."

"Oh," Lutain sighed, scenting worriedly, "I will check for threat."

Adrian exhaustedly smiled, "Thank you."

The crystal potions vial was cold in his hand, and almost certainly terribly to take, especially on an empty stomach. It grounded him, bringing slight clarity through the vicious trembling of his body.

It couldn't possibly be worse than Bellatrix's curses, and it would keep his mind focused, away from- away.

The potion was only supposed to sink him back into his mind, so far intoxicated that he would barely feel when his magic would wrap his body for the first change. From there he would have to teach his own magic how to trigger it on command. Essentially, he would fall unconscious and he would transform into his animagus form. Trapped so far from his body, pushed back in his mind to where he wouldn't be able to see the skeleton...

He fished for the crystal vial, holding it up in the light his lumos cast. It was slightly golden, nearly transparent, and it didn't smell when he removed the stopper- very high quality

"Bottoms up," He muttered with barely any attempt at humor, hoping it wouldn't taste as bad as the bile which still permeated his throat.

It tasted like honeysuckle and ginger.

But it burned like Fiendfyre.


Adrian woke up with his head pounding and his limbs feeling like jello. They tingled with a painful pins and needle sensation, taking several tries to flex and move properly.

"Lutain?" Adrian hissed, blinking in the dark for his companion. He belatedly noticed he was speaking parseltongue.

He found his wand, a short distance away from where he had put it, and lit lumos once again.

"Master?" Lutain quizzically asked, a safe distance and coiled loosely around himself, "Are you back?"

"Back?" Adrian asked, rolling his shoulder painfully, "What happened?"

"You are!" Lutain hissed enthusiastically, slithering over tentatively, "You are of noble kind!"

"Noble kind?" Adrian echoed with a hoarse snort, "You've been hanging around Nagini too much."

"Never," Lutain retorted. "A serpent of blackened scale with green eyes."

Huh. That was... useful.

"How did I know it would be a snake?" Adrian sighed, smile curling at his lips.

The best thing was, if he was a snake, there was no excuse why he couldn't travel with his father on raids.

He would be useful. He would find a way.

And he would forget about ginger hair and gasping sobs. He. Would.

Chapter Text

Care for Magical Creatures was an exciting class, especially since Adrian had already established a strange relationship with the now-teacher.

The books required for Care for magical creatures were fascinating. They had teeth, snarled, snapped, and looked less like books and more like creatures. It growled and tried to eat Adrian's hand first time he picked it up in Diagon alley. He fed the book a few things, and the poor paper monstrosity went surprisingly docile after eating a raw carrot. It seemed that other students were not nearly as lucky with Adrian's discovery; one student was sporting a rather striking set of papercuts all along his forearm.

Draco found the book ridiculous, he struggled to even hold the monstrosity with its impressive added girth of well spun rope. Adrian spotted Skylar Potter scowling at his book, bound with a black belt. At least he had the foresight to bind it shut.

They stumbled over roots and gnarled stumps, a few plants along the trail reached out with thorny barbs to ensnare the students. Adrian and his fellow classmates ignored them easily. Longbottom paused on his trek to pet and coo over one disgruntled stem and leaf.

"These things, are bloody useless." Draco growled out, struggling to catch his book as the rope once more slid from his grip.

Adrian glanced down at his own book, contently blinking at the surroundings as its teeth gnashed quietly.

"Figures, Adrian Scamander here manages to tame his," Draco continued, not bothering to see if Adrian was even paying attention. At this point, it was more Draco scathingly grumbling to himself.

"I fed it a carrot," Adrian offered helpfully, "It enjoyed the crunching."

Draco rolled his eyes and sniffed in annoyance.

Hagrid emerged from his hut, slightly uneasy yet not lacking enthusiasm. Draco joined in vehemently, shouting insults about how impractical the books were. Almost instantly, the large man faltered, looking obviously distressed with himself.

Adrian was mentally bemoaning how disastrous the first class was going. Why couldn't he act like the other professors and simply provide them all a syllabus?

Hagrid of course, wasn't like the other professors.

He left, trying to salvage the first lesson by introducing the students to a disastrous large dangerous creature. It was so unmistakably Hagrid, Adrian almost found the action endearing.

He had a large smile as he returned, thick hands grasping hefty rope attached to a leather collar. Once the alpha was led, others followed after like a herd of gentle deer.

But they were not deer.

Huge winged horses crossed with lovely birds. Sharp intelligent eagle eyes set in gentle cream and brown feathers sparkling in the sunlight. Some were speckled and painted, mottled grey or entirely arabian with glossy crow feathers.

"Hippogriffs," Adrian found himself mouthing along with Hagrid's loud proclamations of what the amazing creatures were.

"So, he speaks." Draco drawled, and elbowed Adrian. "Finally chose to grace us with your presence?"

Adrian scowled, his complexion much more pale in the sunlight. Adrian wouldn't be surprised if the other students started jokingly teased him with his likliness to a vampire.

"Hey Crabbe, think those things puff up like the owls do?" Draco muttered under his breath, eyes alight with the desire to wreck Hagrid's class.

"Don't," Adrian muttered. "Hippogriffs are vicious. They'll gut you before you even start laughing."

Draco looked startled, as if he hadn't actually thought that they were dangerous, or it hadn't occurred to him anything would attack him.

Hagrid went on to ask for volunteers to get closer to the Hippogriffs, right after enthusiastically describing the dangers of the beautiful - and vicious - animals.

"Righ'- who wants ter go first?"

Adrian knew full well if he made eye contact, he wouldn't be able to resist himself from volunteering. Most of the class took a step farther away in answer, even the Potter trio stepped back. The Hippogriffs were tossing their fierce heads and flexing their powerful wings, they didn't seem to like being tethered. Which wasn't too surprising; they were creatures of air and sky, affiliated with freedom and new, and being roped like this was… rather dangerous… for everyone involved.

Adrian would have loved to walk forward, to brush his hand and feel the silky difference between fur and pointed feathers. He'd love to gently touch the talons and feel the sharpness of the curved claws.

He couldn't, he couldn't. Not because of Hagrid or the Gryffindors, in all honesty he would have the previous year without a thought. The dangers of it be damned, he was fascinated by the Hippogriffs.

But he couldn't, because he knew Draco would boast about it or prattle on about it behind closed doors in the dungeons. The last thing Adrian needed was the first years curiously listening in.

He couldn't risk the attention, especially so soon.

"No one?" Said Hagrid, with a pleading look. You could almost see his shoulders lower like a wounded hound.

Adrian bit his tongue, chewing on it gently to resist the urge to speak up. The class was split with Gryffindors, there would be at least one student who would be reckless enough to want and see the creatures closer.

"I'll do it."

In hindsight, Adrian should have expected it would be that Gryffindor.

'Freaking-'

Only the thought of what his father would say if he finished his sentence kept him from repeating a few interesting phrases he'd heard Rabastan use.

"Oooh, no, Skylar, remember your tea leaves!" A female Gryffindor gasped, brushing against Skylar's robes with a wide eyed horrified look.

What the... what did that mean?

Skylar ignored them as he climbed over the paddock fence. What a surprise.

"Good man, Skylar!" Roared Hagrid. "Right then- let's see how yeh get on with Buckbeak."

Adrian had to choke back the jealousy rising up the back of his throat. Of course it was Skylar that was doing this- why was that moron able to meet a Hippogriff up close? He was the one to specialize in magical creatures, he was the one that loved them, blood and bone, heart and soul!

He was the one who deserved it, not that selfish brat who had everything-'

Adrian's fist clenched as he forcefully shut down on the scathing jealousy fueled train of thought.

Adrian's jaw clenched and his teeth bit sharply into his tongue. He tasted the disgusting tang of blood and exhaled sharply through his nose.

He had to remain calm, he had to remain in the background and not draw attention to himself.

It almost physically pained him to do so. Hagrid untied one of the chains, pulling a grey hippogriff away from its fellows and slipping off its leather collar. The class inhaled collectively at the sight.

"Easy now, Skylar," said Hagrid quietly, "Yeh've got eye contact, now try not ter blink...Hippogriffs don' trust yeh if yeh blink too much…"

Buckbeak the hippogriff had turned his great sharp head, and was glaring at Skylar with ferocious eyes.

Skylar bowed.

A heartbeat of breath-held silence, and the hippogriff bowed back.

"Stupid birds," Lutain sniffed, hiding under Adrian's clothing like he always did. "Smart as pigeon."

Didn't change the fact that it was Skylar who was getting bowed to.

Then, it managed to get worse.

Skylar was prompted onto the back of the mighty creature, then it had the audacity to actually start to fly away. Skylar Potter, was riding hippogriff.

That was a once in a lifetime opportunity. One that Adrian could have had, if it wasn't for Suzie.

Adrian felt frustrated needles prick behind his eyes. His teeth gnashed and once again the tang rose. He felt nauseous.

"It's a stupid bird," Lutain whispered. "Adalonda would give you a ride."

Adrian would have smiled at the mental image if he hadn't wanted to start screaming so badly.

Skylar returned looking breathless and overjoyed. From there, everyone carefully climbed over the paddock, cautiously approaching the other creatures and bowing respectively. Adrian stuck close to Draco as the blond haired boy selected Buckbeak.

Draco grew more arrogant the moment the large creature bowed to him. It really wasn't as difficult as they had been led to believe, even though the danger still existed.

"This is very easy," Draco drawled, loud enough for Skylar to hear him. "I knew it must have been, if Potter could do it...I bet you're not dangerous at all, are you?"

And of course, saying that was exactly what he shouldn't have done.

Draco sauntered forward, Buckbeak's feathers around his neck rose alarmingly as if hackles on a wolf. It's pupils constricted sharply as its neck jerked, face staring intently and beak clicking sharply.

"Don't!" Adrian jolted, pushing Draco out of the way the moment the large creature let out an ungodly wail of half bird-call half horse-knicker. The Hippogriff spread its wings partly, primaries sliding over secondary feathers with a sound like silk. In contrast, It lifted one razor sharp talon, preparing to slash across Adrian's body.

The series of events smoothly transitioned from one to the next, yet together took enough time for Adrian to find himself puzzled over his own actions. Why had he moved, jerking forward to shove another student out of the way? It wasn't as if Adrian would get anything out of taking Draco's place...In fact, he should have let the boy get struck.

There was a primal instinct, something deep in Adrian's core which simply whispered to him that he should move. That he should help. Call it humanity, call it his fear for someone who tentatively was his friend- his first friend.

If all of Adrian's friends jumped off the covered bridge, Merlin be damned he sure wouldn't. Yet apparently that expression didn't apply to bloody Hippogriffs.

This was going to hurt.

"Master!" Lutain gasped, scenting the threat just before it came to fruition.

Buckbeak's eyes locked with Adrian's, and Adrian felt something unfurl, in his raging fear. Borderline hysteria, the unrelenting tide of oh god, oh god, that seemed to pulse over his skin.

He couldn't think, but he could feel; almost like he was peeling off a tight layer of clothing.

Buckbeak froze, one claw high in the air poised to strike yet it didn't come. Its eyes shook, alarmed and in shock, widening in panic as the creature seemed to be covered in small treamors.

Adrian couldn't move, his body was straining and his eyes burning and his blood was on fire.

A second, two seconds...long enough for Adrian to know it was unnatural. Impossible.

"Adrian! I got yeh!"

Hagrids shout ruined it and seemed to snap Buckbeak out of his trance. Adrian felt his body burn, tingling through his skin from the backlash. The creature whirled, flaring his wings and lowering its leg with a mighty swipe. Adrian stumbled backwards trying to avoid, only managing a gash on his left forearm.

Adrian curled inwards instinctively, twitching ever so slightly and gasping audibly as the wound finally registered.

Buckbeak skittered away, snapping angrily and glaring at Draco who looked much too horrified at what had occurred.

"You..." Draco gasped, growing more pale as he noticed blood welling up and trailing down the ruined sleeve of Adrian's robe. Adrian blinked, seeming to snap out of the exhausting haze that was his accidental magic. His absolutely useless accidental magic.

"I'm fine!" Adrian snapped, his arm complaining loudly as well as the rest of his limbs from his terrible and exhausting day.

His eyes stung again, an uncomfortable tightness near the back of his throat due to his frustration and helplessness over the situation.

He was supposed to be nobody! That was the entire reasoning why he didn't get to ride Buckbeak! And now, and now because Draco was so bloody stupid...

"Master, are you-" Lutain silenced himself when Adrian stood stiffly and glared. He knew his skin was pale, his eyes bruised and sunken. His limbs shook from the effort of standing after such an event. His heart thumped loudly in his chest and every exhale felt the slightest bit sour.

"I can take yeh to the-" Hagrid cut off as Adrian pointed his wand at his arm and casted a healing spell to close the gash. It stung, itching painfully as the blood clotted and scabbed something ugly. He was thankful he knew this spell after all of the dueling and curses he had experienced.

The class was silent, Skylar looking horrified and taken aback.

Everyone was looking at him. He was just...he just wanted to not have attention on him, and then this...

"Er- class dismissed." Hagrid added, looking quite faint. His large hands fumbled around each other- he looked quite horrified with how the events had progressed.

Adrian felt like crying, he couldn't tell if it was from anger or frustration.


The first Quidditch match was Slytherin vs Gryffindor. Draco didn't shut up about it, boasting about his practice sessions, the state of the uniforms, and the unparalleled speed he could achieve. Adrian spent the time sleeping in his bed, drawing the covers to his chin to try and relax his mind through the stress he had been putting it under. It was almost painful, at times his paranoia and stress over simply attending classes was enough to make him retreat to his room.

The Animagus transformation potion, the upkeep for the occlumency walls, not only that but it seemed that the newest Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher had taken a personal liking in him.

(It was nice in a strange way, he hadn't ever gotten favoritism from anyone except Hagrid, but considering how that lesson went… Then again, Adrian found all of the attention ridiculously annoying. He'd take a Hippogriff claw again anyday.)

He was drawing attention from Dumbledore, and it would only be a matter of time before he was interrogated on who his father was. Thank Merlin his name was Selwyn and not Riddle.

The first practical defence class with Professor Lupin, Adrian knew it would be different. The class was not split with other houses, a wise decision because in the earlier years it led to more cross-house attacking then actual learning.

"No books today," Professor Lupin smiled kindly, "Only your wands, today will be practical only."

Daphne exchanged surprised looks with Adrian. Not many teachers would forgo books entirely.

"If you would all follow me," Professor Lupin smiled and guided them out of the classroom and down a deserted corridor into the teacher's staff room.

The massive wardrobe stood out clearly in the otherwise bare space.

"Now then," Professor Lupin started, beckoning for everyone to enter the room. They spread out, clinging to the external walls and as far as possible from the wardrobe, which wobbled suspiciously.

"There is a boggart in there." Lupin announced calmly, almost proudly as he secured the hallway door behind them.

Trapping them. In with a boggart.

Adrian paled and mentally cursed the fact he left Lutain in the dungeons.

"Boggarts like dark, enclosed spaces. Wardrobes, the gap under beds, the cupboards under sinks. This one moved in a few days ago, I asked the headmaster and staff to leave it to give you all some practice. So, the first question we must ask ourselves is, what is a boggart?"

'Don't forget the cupboard under stairs,' Adrian scathingly thought, already setting himself in a bitter mood.

Eyes of his yearmates instantly fell on Adrian.

'Wonderful.'

"Oh? Seems like you're the one everyone looks to for help." Professor Lupin smiled politely, nodding to the uncomfortable Adrian, "Would you like to give it a shot?"

"Adrian knows every ruddy magical creature" Pansy, shut your bloody mouth- "What they look like or how to find it. He's a walking textbook."

Lupin looked similarly alarmed and impressed. He smiled, tilting his head slightly as he leant against a nearby table. He beckoned with one hand politely for Adrian to take the stage.

"It's a shape-shifter." Adrian muttered. "It takes the shape of what the closest person fears the most, or what will incapacitate us best."

"Well done," Lupin confirmed with explanation, gazing over the other students to take notice of the atmosphere. "So the boggart is currently waiting and has not assumed a form. He does not know what will frighten the person on the other side of the door. Nobody knows what a boggart looks like when it is alone, but when I let him out, he will immediately become whatever each of us most fears. This means, that we must use our advantage of numbers."

Pansy looked squeamish.

"The charm that repels a boggart is simple, yet it requires a certain force of mind. You see, the thing that finishes a boggart is laughter. What you need to do is force it to assume a shape that you find funny. The charm is...Riddikulus!"

Everyone repeated it with varying levels of confidence.

What did Adrian fear the most, what could be plausibly pass off the best? In this situation, anything could compromise him.

Time blurred and moved too quickly, passing down Theo (who had a banshee monster) to Blaise ( who had an unrecognizable man.) Draco scoffed and cast the spell perfectly against a gigantic wraith-like monster which Adrian recognized faintly, followed by Crabbe who was nearly shaking at a miniature troll.

Pansy stepped forward, the second to last person to go. She held her wand daintily as the boggart shapeshifted into a giant aractromantuala. It hissed and spluttered angrily, snapping its fangs.

"Ridikkulus!" Pansy barked out, changing its body into a spinning ball which sent it whirling into the cabinet once more.

Pansy grinned, and stepped aside, allowing Adrian to step past.

He could see Draco and the others lean forward excitedly.

The cabinet rattled before opening slowly. Bright, unmistakably green eyes stared out blankly.

Adrian's jaw clenched and he pointed his wand viciously at the cabinet.

"Why did they go?" It crooned, voice childish and high pitched, unmistakably young. "Why did mummy and daddy-"

'None of that' Adrian thought, using his occlumency shields to suddenly cut down on the memories the boggart was feeding on.

It stuttered, the eyes stumbling before wilting and turning dark inside the cabinet. Adrian could see its strange mass bulge and bubble, warping and distorting as it struggled to create a tangible form. Adrian struggled to snap down on anything he could possibly fear, anything which made his hair stand on end.

It must have found something, and with a sense of dread Adrian saw it stumble outwards.

There was a pause, the whispers of confusion started before the boggart stepped out in its next assumed form. The lighting was poor, yet the shape was unmistakable.

Adrian gasped audibly and stepped backwards against his better judgement.

Dark wine red eyes belonging to a face with high cheekbones morphed into a disgusted, revolted expression. Tall, confident, regally posed with expensive silk.

Draco startled upright, the other Slytherins reeling in surprised noises as they quickly glanced between Adrian and the mystery man. Adrian's dark black hair, almost as blueish tinged as the mans'. The tall cheekbones, the aristocratic nose and pale complexion- Adrian's was actually naturally paler.

The resemblance was uncanny.

Adrian felt fear swallow him as he glanced at Lupin in barely restrained horror.

The man was at an angle where he was unable to see the boggart's face. Small mercies.

The boggart scoffed, a disorienting sound that made Adrian nearly instinctively whimper.

No, it wasn't real.

Adrian's hands curled until his nails left crescents in his palm.

"What a pathetic-"

It's fake. It's fake. It's fake.

Adrian pointed his wand coldly. His expression became flat, emotionless and concerningly casual. He didn't need emotions, he could lock them behind shields. He could remove feelings, he didn't need feelings.

"-weak vermin. I should-"

It's fake.

You know what to do.

"Ridikkulus."

His father popped backwards, head shifting into one of those comically exaggerated heads he had seen in the store windows of Knockturn Alley. Leather and sun-kissed, embroidered in crossing stitches over its eyes and mouth with bright red floss. It stumbled backwards, blinded and on ungainly limbs.

How clumsy and distorted it looked, like something had grabbed its limbs and stretched it out like a scarecrow.

Oh Merlin, Adrian had turned his father into a window decoration.

Adrian felt himself snickering in amusement and trying to hide his smile. He failed dramatically, his body shaking slightly.

Adrian glanced over in surprise as Professor Lupin rushed forward, interjecting himself between Adrian and the Boggart.

It shifted into something white, ethereal...and then vanished into the wardrobe.

"Merlin, what was that." Daphne breathed, looking vaguely ill.

Adrian glanced at her in confusion, before he felt his amusement rotting away.

"Nothing," Adrian bit out snappily, glaring and almost curling his lips back in a snarl.

Daphne looked like she had been struck, or Adrian had offered something entirely illogical as rational fact. Mandrake roots dance the tango.

"No I…" Daphne blinked completely baffled once again, "I'm sorry, I can't think right now."

Mandrake roots dance the tango and sometimes waltz with centaurs.

Adrian scowled slightly, finding her confusion and obvious dazed expression somewhat aggravating. What was so wrong with his boggart? Like hers would be any better!

"Bloody hell," Theo swallowed, looking even more ill than Daphne, "If that's what you think is funny…"

Theo trailed off, swaying where he stood as he grimaced and looked nauseous.

Adrian paused and looked over his shoulder where Professor Lupin was instructing the rest of the class how else to hinder or identify a boggart before releasing it.

What was so wrong with the distorted heads in Knockturn? Adrian considered getting one for Bellatrix's birthday once.

"I thought they were funny," Adrian crossed his arms, feeling fairly defensive now, "I once almost bought one."

"Merlin…" Daphne breathed, blinking and gazing off into the distance. She looked eerily similar to Luna in that moment.

"Almost?" Theo inquired weakly.

"We don't talk about it."


The Hogsmeade weekend in November left Adrian walking with a thick wool scarf around his mouth and Lutain nestled against his chest. Lutain was certain he was going to get one of those exotic mice bred in Africa which somehow tasted twice as good and was half as easy to digest. The others were planning on starting early holiday shopping.

Adrian had been tasked with even more supplying and selling than the year earlier. Somehow his status had become well known in slytherin, to the point that now the upper years were asking for his help in ordering and dealing questionable goods to the other students. Lutain made an excellent lookout, as well as intimidation technique if students didn't want to comply with his brokering system.

Dementors still circled around the school, staying high above the quidditch pitch in a silent guard to the wizarding school. They were expecting something big, something deadly. It was rather annoying, since the students were not permitted to know why the dementors were at Hogwarts. Draco had already made a fuss about them, raving about how his father refused to tell him information besides how he was upset with the new addition. The Dementors wre generally used to guard Azkaban- so why were they at Hogwarts and not protecting the wizarding prison?

The only thing Adrian could possibly think of was perhaps they were placred at Hogwarts by the Ministry to try and halt the Slytherin Monster from attacking other students. It would be a smart idea, especially since the death of Ginny was still mentioned through hallways.

Nobody seemed to like the dementors, they found them creepy. Ghastly beings that croaked and whistles shallowly while they breathed through rotten lungs. Pansy had sworn she heard one talk, a hoarse croaky noise that sent hairs upwards on end.

Adrian thought they were beautiful.

Adrian didn't often have the opportunity to see them up close, mostly due to his reclusive pattern. He only ventured out when he was positive that he wouldn't be spotted, or when he wouldn't draw attention to himself. So far, he hadn't actually talked to any of the first years, although Theo informed him his usual clients were getting fed up with his hermit status.

Mostly for appearance's sake, he agreed to venture into Hogsmeade. Already he had seen a quarter dozen clients, each looking somewhat relieved or pissed with him.

Daphne found it interesting, the Pureblood politican that she was.

Hogsmeade was alight with lanterns and loud voices. Children ran from a joke store into a candy store and back again repeatedly. The crowd at the resident pub was overflowing with people.

"Mouse! I want a mouse!" Lutain cheered, inaudible to everyone else there.

"I'll head to the pet store." Adrian found himself saying, already turning without care if anyone heard him or not.

"Oh! I'll come with!" Daphne chirped excitedly, nearly jumping onto his arm with enthusiasm. She smiled widely, actually pretty in comparison to Millicent and Pansy, and started to drag him along.

The protesting noise Draco made was lost in the atmospheric background noise that was Hogsmeade. Her arm was firm, leaving him no room to escape as they walked along the well trodden path towards the store.

The pet store was an old, rustic-looking building with aged wooden side panels and a resident cat that, although it lived in the store, was not for sale. It watched them with friendly blue eyes, brushing against their black robes and leaving calico cat fur in its wake.

"Aren't you adorable?" Daphne cooed, bending down to pet the affectionate cat. "Who's a good boy?"

"Girl," Adrian instantly corrected, "Calicos with multiple colors can only be female."

Daphne had a wistful smile on her face as she eyed the calico as it ran away, the sound of its bell tinkling in the quiet store.

The owner was an elder man with a kind smile more trademark for a candy shop store. He wore small glasses which had an uncanny resemblance to Ollivanders', yet skittered slightly on the anxious side Theo always displayed.

"Hello!" Daphne chirped with pureblood politeness, "This is a wonderful store you have."

The man smiled and Adrian almost snorted at how straightforward Daphne was coming across. Daphne sharply elbowed Adrian's side.

"I have a younger sister and I was wondering if you have anything I could gift her for the approaching holidays," Daphne smiled brightly, her blue eyes sparkling as she looked around the store calmly, "I'm positive that you could find me something."

The man smiled and peered out on of the larger windows, "You may have better luck at Diagon Alley, missus."

Adrian wandered over to one side of the store, which was charmed with a shimmering reddish spell to keep the heat at manageable levels. An assortment of old or full grown animals peered up curiously.

"You resale animals," Adrian stated, looking over his shoulder in surprise, "Doesn't seem much profit in that."

The man looked somber, and more uncomfortable with Adrian than he was with Daphne.

"Too many wizarding children get pets and don't know how to care for 'em. Or don't want 'em anymore. It's a pity, such beautiful creatures."

Adrian smiled sadly and looked down at the assortment. A full grown lizard blinked at him and burped a green bubble.

"Oh no," Daphne exhaled, "Oh no, I know that look."

"What look?" Adrian quickly blanked his face, lifting one sleeve to let Lutain slide out and investigate the shop. The owner didn't see.

"The look you get right before you do something stupid," Daphne crossed her arms with a pointed look, "Adrian Selwyn, you are not bringing something back with us."

Well of course he wasn't. That would be making a large glowing sign practically shouting his name to everyone. He was trying to remain anonymous

"Master! Look!" Lutain cheered, peering in at something unseen, "It is a bird but noble kind! It is like hatchling but large!"

A cockatrice?

Shit

On one hand, he would be proving a point to Daphne and remaining hidden. He was here only for a mouse, or something for Lutain. Maybe an updated heating charm.

But on the other hand….

Cockatrice.

Adrian kept full eye contact with Daphne while he elevated his voice, "How much for the Cockatrice?"

The man spluttered, "The- you mean The Grifdor?"

Daphne groaned, "Don't do it, don't do it, it sounds like bloody Gryffindor."

"Master! It is so stupid!"

A Grifdor? The man had a Grifdor?

Adrian was trying to remain anonymous….but there was a Grifdor!

"I want it." Adrian snapped, looking at the man, "How much?"

The man paled, "Eleven galleons but young man, that animal is very dangerous and was given to me by a very experienced reptile tamer-"

Lutain hissed loudly, rearing up and over the cages to look at the man right in the face. Lutain's scales were darkening back to the usual black and slightly blue tint, his belly starkly yellow in the light.

"That's a Taipan." The man stated bluntly, entirely dumbfounded, "That...how did that-"

"That's my familiar," Adrian said pointedly, "And I want the Grifdor."

How the bloody hell was he going to care for a Grifdor? He didn't have any of the requirements or the objects needed to take care of it.

Then, Adrian was struck with a sense of genius.

"Yes!" Lutain cheered excitedly, "I shall name you -" Lutain let out a series of hisses Adrian would only be able to replicate in Parseltongue.

He could gift it to Nagini, explicately saying that it wasn't for consumption. If Lutain loved it, Nagini would love it too. Then Adrian would still have a Grifdor, and better yet, he could visit it over the holidays. The joys of an exotic creature without the work of actually caring for it.

His father couldn't exactly return it, especially with how he was the one hiding.

Daphne groaned and rubbed her eyes tiredly, well past the point of tired with Adrian.

"What's its name?" Adrian asked, the man floundered.

"Er... Walter."

Adrian turned to address Daphne seriously, "His name is Walter."

Daphne glared angrily, "I hate you so much sometimes."


Daphne stormed out with an old caramel coloured Puffskein under one arm, and an advanced cage in the other.

Adrian stayed behind, shushing the anxiously chirping Grifdor which seemed to hop around and flare its trimmed wings angrily. Lutain curled on the table, cooing over his new pet with strange serpentine complements.

"Alright, here's a supply of frozen food, should last Walter a month or so." The man worriedly instructed, placing a decently sized parcel on the countertop, "He gets a bit messy but isn't too bad to handle."

Walter squawked and pecked at his foot.

"It's a pity nobody wanted him," Adrian mentioned, glancing at the creature with utmost fascination, "He's beautiful."

And indeed Walter was. He had the upper body and sharp beak of a partridge, yet from the base of its wings he sprouted cream coloured scales which warped into a long serpentine tail. He had slit pupils and the strange mixture of two short nubby fangs on the inside of its beak.

Adrian doubted that he could properly fly, although perhaps he was similar to a pheasant, able to use the long tail as a rudder or for balance as he ran at high speeds.

His father was going to hate him.

"Oh I know," The man wheezed with a smile, running a finger down Walter's head and neck with the affection of an old friend, "People just throw away magical creatures all the time. Treat them with no respect."

Adrian found himself nodding along with a wistful smile.

"So! How did you tame a Taipan? I'd expect an enthusiast to have an Ashspore or a Dagger-mouth."

"Lutain?" Adrian blinked, glancing at his darkening friend.

The man's expression lit up, "Oh what a lucky boy you are, to have the fabled Fierce Snake." He smiled and hesitantly reached out with his hand.

"Fierce snake!" Lutain crowed, pausing before boasting wildly, "I am fierce."

Adrian smiled as Lutain nuzzled his face against the hand of the man who looked nearly about to pass out from excitement.

"How often do you get rare creatures like this?" Adrian asked, nodding to Walter who had settled to clucking to himself and coiling its tail around his feet, "I could take a few- only the ones that really need it."
Okay, he really couldn't.

Not that he was going to say that to the man, but what if he came across something like a basilisk?

The man smiled, timid yet his eyes shone hope like a single star in a blackened night, "Would you, Mr. Selwyn?"

Adrian felt a smile curl on his mouth against his better judgement. Walter looked around and ducked as Adrian ran a single finger down his head and neck, brushing over his wings and smooth scales.

"Is there an owlry around here? For larger parcels?" Adrian inquired carefully, shushing Walter back towards his carrier container. The man nodded and scrambled to find a scrap of parchment, writing out a company on the top.

"Here, if you use the messenger eagles in a hawthorne box, they deliver faster for the holidays." The man added helpfully, scribbling out instructions and which postal service in particular was best for live animals.

"And, I just need to send a confirmation arrangement to the Headmaster now," The man hummed.

Adrian froze.

"No," He blurted instantly, struggling to think on his feet, "That's, that's really not necessary."

The man's face skewed in concern, "I'm sorry, it's store policy…"

"No no, I mean, I'm not sending him to the castle. So he doesn't need to know." Adrian desperately added, the relaxing aura he had achieved started to crumble.

His arms felt cold as a chill raced down his neck and spine, his breathing was hitched and his hands shook slightly.

"I'm sorry, but it really is store policy." The man apologized, looking genuine.

"No no," Adrian shook his head, blinking three times and swallowing quickly, "I...please?"

Adrian didn't hear anything the man said, he could hear his heart pounding loudly. Dumbledore was going to find out, then he would try and take it because he isn't allowed to have a Grifdor. Then he would ask where it went, he'd ask about Adrian's father and he would…

"Whoa, whoa," The man stumbled, reaching out to try and ease Adrian as the younger boy's legs collapsed. The man lowered, trying to help Adrian to the floor as he panicked, entire body shaking.

"Mr. Selwyn," The man fretted nervously, looking for his wand to possibly call for aid.

"You can't," Adrian choked out, eyes blown with panic, "Don't...don't tell Dumbledore."

"I have to, I'm not sure why you're so worried." The man tried to soothe, "Can you breathe with me? You're breathing too fast."

Adrian couldn't let him tell Dumbledore.

He didn't know how to do this, but his Father had somehow left him the Occlumency shields, he must have heightened the other skills too.

Adrian couldn't breathe as he jerked his head up, staring at the man's worried eyes.

It couldn't be that hard, could it?

He stared, and tried to push…

The man paused, seizing his body as it went tense, a low groaning noise escaping his mouth as Adrian shoved himself in, confused and disoriented and scrambling as much as he could- enough that it would, it would work out.

It was going to be okay, it was going to be okay.

The man's eyes rolled into his head and Adrian gasped in surprise, skittering backwards as the man collapsed. He lay stiff, shuddering twice before resuming a normal breathing pattern.

"Master? What did you do?" Lutain asked quietly, looking at the man in a masked emotion.

"I...I think I scrambled his memory, of us." Adrian swallowed anxiously, "I...we need to go."

Lutain didn't say anything as Adrian quickly scooped the Grifdor, feeling all of the stress he had been working to hide crush downwards on him. His legs wobbled, his bones ached and he just wanted to...he just wanted Bellatrix

Adrian choked on a sob as he made his way outside, stumbling away towards the one postal service the man had recommended, hurriedly ordering the fastest hawthorne package and silencing the upset Grifdor.

He regretted ever venturing into Hogsmeade.

He should have just stayed in bed.


Here is a link to the fanart for this chapter: Here

Here is a link to my Tumblr where I post all fanart for the story: Here

 

Chapter Text

For some inexplicable reason, the Dementors grew closer to the castle.

Two students were rushed to Madam Pomfrey after being exposed for too long, both a shaking trembling wreck. They had been outside, testing the Black Lake for possible ice skating when the Dementors swept in like ravenous hounds.

Adrian was in the hallway, watching as Professor Sprout hurried in with both of her students levitating behind her.

That information in itself easily paid off the cost of Walter.

Since the Dementors were growing closer and with more numbers, students began to sell to one another home remedies to bite off the chilling cold. Pepper-Up potions were passed around by the twin Weasleys in the Gryffindor house. (“Better hurry up, Selwyn, they’re running you out of business!” Pansy had snickered over Potion’s class one day).

Ravenclaws cast warming charms and traveled in groups, Hufflepuffs always skirted behind and watched around nervously. The entire dilemma was a fiasco, teachers couldn’t be everywhere at all times.

Aurors were brought in, though only a dozen. They were stationed on patrols around the castle, each observing and casting shielding spells, warming charms when necessary. The House Elves went so far to skirt around the castle with mugs of hot Chocolate just to thank them for the work. The aurors made it much harder to smuggle goods in and out of the castle, forcing Adrian to send Hedwig away just to make sure Walter safely made it to his Father. It wouldn’t be too difficult to find the parcel that contained Walter, or to find the company eagles carrying the hawthorne box.

Sirius Black was back at the castle, as well as James Potter (who the Slytherins all groaned about), joining Professor Lupin with entirely optional classes for learning to perform something called a Patronus Charm. The spell was difficult, high level magic that only upper year students were seriously contemplating.

The spell was something Adrian hadn’t ever heard of. A charm that could deflect Dementors, prevent them from even getting close? It seemed suspicious to Adrian how his rather detailed book didn’t mention the charm once. Not even in passing.

Adrian couldn’t quite understand the fear, to be completely honest he didn’t understand it at all. He could see why some people were uncomfortable or hated Dementors, why they disliked them, but shouldn’t you combat them in a fair fight? Attack them when they have a chance to attack back? Make it a fair fight? Yet the Patronus charm did none of that, it simply deflected the dementors. It formed an impassable barrier like a ward, where the Dementors could still leave you with a fate worse than death.

It baffled Adrian that no wizard had ever constructed a spell to outright hurt or even kill a dementor, instead wizards hid behind a simply barrier. Then again, the books he had read seemed to delve so far in depth on the topics they outright ignored information that appeared very basic. Perhaps the Patronus Charm was simply an oversight; the book did have an entire chapter that speculated the origins of the cloth like fabric dementors wore.

Adrian figured the cloak he had at his house was hemmed with a Dementor’s cloak. The material was cold to the touch, silky smooth like touching smoke.

Adrian wondered if touching a real Dementor would be like that.

He wanted to meet one.

(Given that Dementors were important for the cause, his father may actually let him learn to speak or deal with them. Under direct supervision of course)

Meeting a Dementor would have to be done carefully, under the supervision and security of something stronger than an invisibility cloak.

But first, learning a Patronus Charm could help, no matter how unfair he felt the tradeoff was.


 

The classes would be held before Christmas break, mostly to weed out those who wanted to learn and those who didn’t.

The first class was huge, the room filled with upper years with the occasional fifth year. Adrian was there nestled behind two sixth years who were either kind enough or arrogant enough to ignore him. It offered Adrian the prime viewpoint to watch as none other than Skylar Potter and Hermione walked in, Ron Weasley trailed further back and seemed grudging to actually join the other two. That was a surprise, when had the famous trio fought or broken up? 

Whispers started, low mumbles about how it was ridiculous for a third year to cast a patronus, or how if anyone could do it, Skylar could.

“Settle down!” Lupin shouted, clapping his hands loudly. James Potter nodded in greeting to Skylar, who smiled back. Sirius Black shifted his weight from side to side, looking around eagerly.

“Today will be a demonstration of the Patronus Charm. The Patronus is a piece of very complex magic, and very few people are capable of performing it. It creates a guardian that acts as a shield between you and the dementor. Thankfully, we have my friends and assistants who will demonstrate for us today.”

Sirius whipped out his wand excitedly, James Potter following with a wink as they both spoke the charm at the same time.

From the ends of the wands, a silvery mist expelled, solidifying into two animals which pranced around on the ground. A large silver dog ran around with a slobbering tongue, drool vanishing the moment it left its long tongue. A proud doe jumped around, tossing her head daintily before she playfully kicked at the dog with careful precision.

The upper years cooed excitedly, females laughing at the adorableness of the dog and how beautiful the doe was.

“Thankfully, to show that the spell is achievable by others, I have already been teaching Mr. Skylar Potter how to perform it. If you would,” Lupin nodded with a professional smile, beckoning with one hand towards an open area.

The room hushed and Skylar awkwardly stepped forward, brandishing his wand and shouting the spell.

From his wand, sluggishly compared to his father and Sirius, silver mist formed into the shape of a deer, some sort of blurred fawn which was much smaller than Sirius’ dog.

No, not quite right. It had antlers, a strange shape and a unique pelt splattered with darker shades of silver. An antelope? Or a Gazelle?

The deer-like patronus ran and jumped right into Sirius’ dog, knocking it over and playing on the ground. The doe slowly lowered itself to the ground, watching the two animals playing with affection.

Potter could already perform the Patronus.

Adrian’s jaw clenched in agitation, of course Skylar had been receiving lessons already.

The class went on to describe the properties of the spell, and how it needed to be fueled by the happiest memory one had. The happier the memory, the stronger the patronus.

They weren’t allowed to actually perform the spell yet, instead they all watched and learned more.

Adrian didn’t know what his patronus could possibly be, not to mention what could be his happiest memory.

He couldn’t stand to be in the room any longer. It was stifling.

The other students began clearing out, everyone talking about what animals they hoped they would form or their best memories to use. Adrian was almost out before he heard a stiff and cocky voice call his name.

“Mr. Selwyn!”

Adrian twitched but turned silently.

James Potter had a smirk, arms crossed over his chest cockily. “Did you like the presentation?”

Adrian’s jaw twitched. Of course, James Potter would have remembered him.

He did leave a rather memorable impression his first year, not to mention James Potter had a rather infamous stigma for singling out children of death-eaters.

Skylar floundered, shaking his head and looking ready to interupt and stop his father in his tracks. Adrian felt his hands twitch and his nerves rise up. Did James Potter know something? Had he slipped up somehow?

“James, none of that,” Lupin scolded, stepping forward with a small frown, “Mr. Selwyn is my student, not a child to patronize.”

Sirius’ jaw dropped, “But Remus-”

“None of that!” Remus rolled his eyes, “Go find the Weasley twins, or take Skylar out to Hogsmeade.

James laughed awkwardly but clapped Lupin on his shoulder before heading out. Skylar paused, looking at Adrian with an unrecognizable expression before he turned and walked out. Hermione and Ron were waiting by the door, looking stiff and uncomfortable with each other but somehow still friends. They must have had some fight.

Soon it was just Professor Lupin and Adrian alone in the room.

“I noticed when you came in, Mr. Selwyn.” Professor Lupin divulged calmly, settling on a nearby chair to lower the height difference, “You were the only third year to come to my lesson today.”

“Besides Skylar and his friends.” Adrian coldly pointed out, “I should have guessed that he was getting lessons.”

Lupin nodded, pursing his lip thoughtfully, “That’s true, but then again he did have a bad reaction to the Dementors. He needed it for protection more than just to master advanced spellwork. You don’t seem the type to learn such difficult spellwork for the thrill of it.”

Adrian shrugged and avoided eye contact on the offhand chance that Lupin was a Legilimens.

“So what is it?” Professor Lupin asked kindly, crossing his ankles together, “Is it for information? Quite a business you’ve started.” He winked and once again smiled encouragingly.

Adrian blinked, taken aback by the conversation. It was weird to think of this as a teacher and not a gentle uncle or some sort.

Adrian felt a shiver of deja-vu.

“Thank you, Sir.It has its uses.” Adrian cautiously agreed

“Yes, yes, financial I assume.” Professor Lupin added, starting to chew on his lower lip, “It worries me, not as a teacher but as a person, that a student as young as you has to go through such means for finances.”

“It’s useful-”

“Yes yes, I know, you can purchase all sorts of treats with a few sickles of change.” Professor Lupin smiled reaching into his pocket to find a few cauldron cakes, offering one nicely, “Merlin knows I snuck over to Honeydukes when I was your age, James, Sirius and I were quite the rule breakers. I’d be a hypocrite to scold you. Would you like a pastry?”

What was going on? Did the man not realize that Adrian had long since moved on from bartering sweets?

Professor Lupin opened one of the cakes, biting into it carefully and addressing Adrian once again, “Do you have sweets often? At your home?”

Adrian paused, “Sometimes. My father isn’t…I have them on occasion.”

“Oh, yes.” Professor Lupin smiled, “That would be the man your boggart turned into, It concerns me why your father is your greatest fear, Mr. Selwyn.”

“That’s what this is about?” Adrian blinked, nibbling on the cake with dainty bites, “My father just has high expectations.”

“Right, right,” Professor Lupin soothed, pausing before his expression became incredibly concerned, “I couldn’t help but notice your upper left arm.”

Adrian’s hand flashed to his arm where he knew the thin white scar was located. Bellatrix had always said it was an accident.

“Would you mind if I took a look?”

Adrian knew he couldn’t refuse or it would look worse. He shrugged off his outer robe, sliding up the partial sleeves to show the white line against the outer edge of his upper arm. Professor Lupin took his arm very carefully, calloused fingers touched his skin.

“This is a mark from a cutting curse, Adrian.” Professor Lupin exhaled shortly, “...Do you have anymore marks, or scars from your father?”

“What?” Adrian’s jaw dropped in shock, “What... no, no. He didn’t...”

“Mr. Selwyn, I know normally you’d go to your head of house, however I felt the need to intrude. If you would like, I’d gladly speak to Professor Snape about this, or I could not. Nothing you tell me will be told to others, unless you intend to take legal action.” Professor Lupin sighed, “I only want to help you.”

Adrian stared, swallowing before looking at his feet.

He was in a rough situation.

He could deny everything, which would bring more attention to his father for suspected child abuse. He could tell a lie, some sort of constructed nonsense about who had hurt him, but then they would be investigated for legal purposes.

He’d have to construct a story, a parental figure who was already in prison or arrested under charges where child abuse wouldn’t be that outrageous.

Oh.

“Everything I say will stay private.” Adrian repeated, obviously looking skeptical.

“Of course,” Professor Lupin smiled, “I can involve my friends if you would prefer aurors when you return-”

Adrian lifted his eyebrows in disbelief, causing the other man to wince, “Alright, perhaps not. Are you in any danger at this time?”

“No.”

Professor Lupin looked relieved. “Who caused that scar, Adrian?”

“My aunt,” Adrian paused, “Bellatrix Lestrange.”

Professor Lupin flinched away in shock, growing pale as one hand covered his mouth. For some reason, Professor Lupin’s eyes seemed to flare golden for a brief moment.

“No wonder you wanted to learn the patronus charm,” Professor Lupin shivered.

Then his arms reached out and gently tugged Adrian to his chest, hugging him closely against his low quality brown robes. A chin rested on Adrian’s head, tucking him further in.

Adrian froze.

What was this. What was going on.

“I’m so sorry,” Professor Lupin exhaled sadly, “But here on Hogwarts, you’re safe. You won’t be hurt here. It wasn’t your fault.”

Adrian was getting hugged. He was being hugged by Professor Lupin.

‘Oh, no Harry, none of this was your fault. You don’t have to be sorry for anything.’

‘I’m so sorry.’

Adrian flinched away in a jerk, stumbling back into the open area of the room. His chest heaved back and forth quickly, his eyes stung with the confusion.

“No, no i’m Adrian.”  He muttered under his breath, shoving his emotions behind his occlumency shields quickly, “I’m Adrian.”

“Alright, I’ve been keeping you too long,” Lupin blinked quickly, trying to compose himself quickly, recovering after Adrian’s jerk away “I’m so sorry, that was terribly unprofessional.”

“No, no it’s fine.” Adrian paused, uncertain on how to convey when he felt, “I’m not used to it.”

“To being hugged?” the golden eyes softened like melting metal, “Oh, Adrian.”

Adrian bowed his head and ignored it, looking out the window. It was starting to get darker out, the nights were longer than the days now.

No, there was something else.

Remus Lupin, Adrian remembered Remus Lupin. He was, he was Harry Potter’s godfather.

He took him to an expo, an animal showing. He took him and there was a manticore... there was a snake. It had all been a disaster, flashes of screaming and of broken doors. The shrill death throes begging for mercy.

Remus Lupin was a werewolf.

“I like magical creatures.” Adrian blurted, not aware that he had spoken at all. Lupin nodded slowly.

“That’s common. Abused children tend to empathize with creatures and animals more.”

“I’m not abused.” Adrian protested with a scowl, “People are just all…”

Lupin’s knowing look made him cut off his terrible excuse.

“Where do you go?” Adrian blurted, shifting and looking uncomfortable, “You’re a werewolf.”

Lupin froze and his skin paled. His hands trembled slightly and he curled them into fists, lowering them to his sides to try and stop any physical signs of distress.

“Why do you want to know?” Lupin’s voice was strained, he stood and started pacing wildly, running one hand through his hair, “You’re not-?”

“No,” Adrian blinked, “I’m not.”

Lupin’s smile was strained, thin and somehow in the lighting Lupin looked more wolf like than ever before. “I think I’ve taken enough of your time tonight, Mr. Selwyn.”


 

Adrian returned home for Christmas break with the intentions of retrieving his secret cloak, as well as to make sure Walter was settling in okay.

Hedwig had apparently returned to the manor with Walter’s shipment right during morning tea. Not only did Walter awake and eat an entire slice of toast, but he also indulged himself with his father’s tea before the Dark Lord realized that what was occurring was actually real.

Nagini loved having a pet. For some reason Walter enjoyed nesting in Nagini’s coils, and reacted equally to Parseltongue as it did to English.

“This isn’t going to be the only pet you bring home, is it?” his father sighed, looking at how Nagini fussed over how Walter’s shed was getting slightly stuck. His father couldn’t argue, especially with how happy Nagini seemed to be.

“Would you be surprised if I got a dragon?” Adrian asked jokingly, only to receive a glare.

“No dragon.”

“Yes father.”


 

“Expecto Patronum.” Adrian muttered, sitting on a chair outside, looking over the forests and the gardens of the house.

His wand made a faintly silvery mist, but that was it.

“Expecto Patronum.” Adrian tried again, speaking through gritted teeth.

There was a pathetic spatter of sparks before once again, nothing.

Adrian shouted angrily, nearly throwing his wand across the yard, “If Potter can do it why can’t I!”

The door behind him opened loudly, causing Adrian to scramble backwards and look over his shoulder in surprise.

His father stood in the doorway, arms crossed with the most unimpressed expression.

“Maybe that’s because you’re not a spoiled brat.”

If Adrian wasn’t so angry, he would have known better than to rant.

“But I can cast any spell better than him!” Adrian seethed, fist clenching in anger as rage rose, “It’s not fair, I should be able to cast it!”

His father rolled his eyes, “You have anger problems. Control it before I make you.”

Adrian grumbled but looked down resigned, frustration and the starting sting of tears burning his eyes.

“The Patronus charm,” His father started, “Is a difficult spell. I only learned to perform it in my sixth year, of course, I was self taught.”

“Is this supposed to make me feel better?” Adrian sighed, sliding over a seat for his father to sit next to him, “Why don’t you lower the warming charm? Make the temperature as cold as you are.”

His father gave a sigh before he drew his own wand- pale white and intimidating yew.

“Expecto Patronum...” From his wand a large snake jumped out, thick and powerful, Nagini rearing and glowing silver in the cold air.

“How-” Adrian scrambled upright, looking at the ghostly serpent in awe as he ran his fingers through her intangible bulk.

“Adrian, come here.” His father ordered, red eyes smoldering in the light, “I’ll show you a trick.”

Adrian complied, sitting as close to his father as he could pulling out his wand and waiting. “I grabbed my Holly Wand- I figured that it would make it easier.”

His father hummed a sound and beckoned for Adrian to try again.

“Expecto Patronum.” Adrian started, motivated by his father’s company. His wand spluttered and only a faint mist formed, he groaned disappointed.

“What are you thinking of?”

“Lutain, meeting him.” Adrian felt a smile form on his mouth, “And just the general impression.”

His father clicked his tongue, “Not specific enough. It has to be a very specific moment or memory.”

Adrian’s jaw dropped, “but I don’t have a single memory better than that.”

“Neither did I. I invented one.”

Adrian looked at his father in awe, “You can do that?”

“With enough self control and motivation, you can create any memory. Allow me...”

Adrian felt the pressure in the back of his mind crack- the black eyelid sliding open to grant access to the creeping mist through his head.

Adrian whined, starting to slump backwards as his eyesight looked so far away. The black coils of something with no start or ending was twisting around his body, suffocating and caressing.

“I’ve got you.” His father spoke, the sound entirely inaudible and yet somehow understandable. Vibrations from his speaking went through Adrian’s back, warming his chest and body.

He could hear the whispered ‘oh’ as it found something that it was so carefully probing, searching for something.

Adrian’s mouth moved without his control. His words were velvety smooth yet undeniably his own voice. “Expecto Patronum.”

Adrian felt his magic move and from his wand a silvery beast emerged, much larger than he had expected but still smaller than Nagini. It crawled, scraping scales and belly plates as its protruding teeth flowed ethereally. It growled lowly, a reverberating warning noise which was felt through the air itself- morphing into a guttural hiss as it opened its mouth slowly. The jaws snapped shut violently.

The coil in his mind retreated, slithering through the open eye before it closed gently without a trace. The patronus evaporated.

Adrian snapped back into his body with a groan, twitching as he regained movement in his hands and feet.

“You back with the living?” His father asked, voice thick with amusement.

“Warn me next time,” Adrian grunted, raising a hand to rub against his eyes, hardly believing that the crocodile-esq creature was real.

The next thing Adrian realized was the he was reclining firmly against his father’s side, one large arm wrapped around his midsection to keep him upright.

“I implanted false memories in your head,” His father spoke again, this time Adrian could feel the vibrations through his back, “They were sufficient enough with your personality to conjure the patronus.”

Adrian straightened, rolling his shoulders to try and remove all of the fogginess. “What memory?” Adrian mumbled, wincing at the post possession tremors.

His father only looked at him, a side glanced look with ruby eyes; the Dark Lord said nothing and instead ruffled Adrian’s hair once before leaving. Adrian practically melted at the touch.

The air was much colder without a warm body near him. He ached to have that warmth back.

Adrian blinked, then tried to recall what possibly could have been implanted.


 

“Harry I- I know that we haven’t been the best, but you have to understand-”

“Skylar is the Boy-Who-Lived and needs extra protection because dark wizards still are angry with him. I know mum, Skylar is more-”

“Harry, I- how about tomorrow we head over to the expo. Just you and me? I thought there was something about a baby hydra there. I know your father isn’t fond of reptiles, except Merlin knows he has a problem with dragons, but-”

“I think I’d like to go. I mean, It’s okay if we need to clean up, or if Skylar wants to go somewhere else. I don’t have to go, I can always-”

“We’re going”

The moment was ruined when a witch called out for Lily loudly, having her grandson timidly hiding behind her large green frock coat. Lily looked torn but ultimately made her decision as she hurried over, leaving Harry alone on the porch once again.

Harry glanced back at the white paint on the deck and scraped his nail across the path of a particularly adventurous ant.

“What did the ant ever do to you?” A drawling dry tone caused Harry to glance up in surprise, a smile spreading unbidden.

“You came!” Harry smiled, trying not to look as excited as he actually was, “I didn’t think you’d come since it’s Skylar’s-”

Adrian’s father chuckled, settling down awkwardly on the porch next to Adrian, slinging one arm around the young boy’s carelessly, “As far as i’m concerned, this is your party.”

“Really?” Adrian asked sadly, exhaling and slinking downwards, “It seems like nobody notices me.”

Adrian’s father scoffed, “because they’re ignorant morons. They can’t see the raw potential, they’re stuck with their heads too high; the brooms help with that.”

Adrian cracked a smile before looking down, fiddling with his shirt.

“Head up,” Adrian’s father snapped suddenly, causing Adrian to jerk his head upright and sit straighter.

“Now, listen to me,” His father started, red eyes locking to convey how serious he was, “That mudblood and blood traitor don’t know what they’re tossing away. They don’t see how much better you are, they’re too captivated by that rotten boy.”

Two long hands cupped his jaw, angling his head upright to make sure everything was heard, “You are going to be the best, they’ll come to regret every glance they’ve given you.”

“Why?” Adrian’s voice broke, his eyes were welling against his will, “Why help me?”

Tom Riddle’s eyes softened and he smiled something gentle, “because you’re my son. And because I-”


 

Adrian snapped his head up, feeling the wavering warming charm keeping out the holiday chill.

The night was dark, and Adrian’s cheeks were wet.

“Ex-Expecto Patronum.”

The patronus lumbered out, dragging heavy scale plates over the ground with the lethargic grace of a predator.

Chapter Text

The cloak was made out of Dementor cloak material. His father had confirmed it when he asked.

When a dementor dies, the withered soul inside its body changes to dust, leaving behind the remains of the cloak.

It took impressive skill to get that close to a Dementor. It also took bravery and guts. The type of courage needed to face down an angry dragon, or calm a raging manicore. Yet it took careful planning, cautious well-thought prediction. It took ambition.

The courage and ambition needed to awaken a sleeping basilisk.

"Isn't that right, Adalonda?"

Before his eyes, the large coiled sleeping reptile slowly began to stir, twitching and tensing each muscle in the slow steps to awakening.

"Hello?" She grumbled, the voice echoing loudly around the walls of the chamber.

"Time to wake up, Adalonda," Adrian hissed, smiling excitedly, "What do you know about Dementors?"


"Selwyn!"

Adrian groaned and looked up. Daphne had her hands on her hips, a calculating expression on her face. "What ever happened to that Gryffindor monster?"

"Oh, must be talking about you Draco," Theo sniped up, snickering past as he plopped a pile of books on the table, too many books for one person.

"You're the one with hair like a drowned rat." Draco scowled, dropping onto a couch and throwing his arms on the back of the couch, "Adrian, four galleons to make my Care essay."

"Do it yourself," Adrian grunted, "Fire Crabs are the easiest thing to write about."

Draco groaned and leant his head back on the couch.

"The monster!" Daphne started up again, "What did you do with it!"

"Adrian adopt another pet?" Theo asked excitedly, "Is it a snake? Like your tattoo?"

"Wait- wait," Daphne floundered in shock, Draco jolted upright and Theo shrunk back.

"You have a tattoo, Selwyn?" Draco gasped, "How big!"

Daphne leant forward excitedly as well, her eyes raking over his body as if she could see through clothing.

Adrian scowled, "That's information you'd need to pay for."

"Ten galleons." Draco retorted.

"Twenty," Daphne challenged, "And I'll get your snake a rat."

"Do it." Lutain gurgled, poking his head up excitedly, "Do it for the rat."

Adrian's jaw twitched, "Deal. Four feet."

All three eyes grew large, "Whoa," Daphne breathed, looking over his body excitedly.

"Miss Greengrass?" A younger voice piped up, short and barely taller than the couch, "Can I ask for some help?"

"Master!" Lutain hissed angrily, scenting the air and scanning his head frantically, "The girl, I scent the girl!"

"Who?" Adrian asked, voice teasing enough to be interpreted as a jab.

"The girl! The hellspawn-"

"Oh ignore him, he's the resident potions dealer." Daphne rolled her eyes teasingly, "I don't think you've met. Malfoy, Nott, Selwyn, meet my friend Suzan."

The girl rounded the couch and offered a large cheeky smile, just shy of mocking.

No.

No.

Adrian froze.

Draco sniffed, "Picking up strays now, Greengrass?"

"Never, that's Selwyn's job." Daphne smiled sweetly, patting the couch next to her for Suzie to join them, "Isn't that right?"

Suzie skipped over and sat on the couch, painfully close to Adrian. Adrian flinched away, as if Suzie's skin was toxins.

Oh Merlin.

No. Lutain was right there.

"Master, i'm going to bite her." Lutain hissed angrily, still thriving in memory of all of the terrible instances with the same girl, "Don't stop me."

"Don't." Adrian bit out sharply, voice cold and fingering the edge of malicious. The word had such a bite it made Suzie full out flinch, Daphne jolt in alarm as well.

"What's gotten your knickers in a twist?" Draco sighed, reaching out for his scroll of parchment, "Just help us with this essay."

"It's about a fire crab." Adrian hissed, leaning forward to slam his fist on the table between them, smoke rising from where his hand impacted, "Do it yourself!"

Theo stopped writing his essay, his quill scratching quieted and all eyes were locked on Adrian. He tensed his jaw, twitching wildly and the air between Suzie and him was practically burning...

"I see why people don't like you." Suzie grimaced, starting to absentmindedly pick at her nails.

Adrian's entire body froze, his mind blanking as it struggled to even compute.

"She's dead! She's dead!" Lutain shrieked, rising in a terrifying display that left even Daphne grabbing and pulling Suzie back.

Suzie gasped, squealing like a stuck pig as Daphne pulled her over the armrest to flop painfully onto the floor.

"Whoa whoa!" Theo garbled, jumping to his feet and away from the coffee table where the very much deadly snake was displaying itself.

"Listen here, Suzie," Adrian snarled, rising and summoning all of the malicious fury he had. His voice was cracking as it rose in pitch, displaying how close to puberty he was yet not changing how scary he sounded. She froze stock still, paling in fear as Lutain coiled around his neck, "This is my house. You can say many things, but if you mess with me one more timeI will make you wish you were a squib."

Suzie couldn't blink, trapped in Adrian's unwavering gaze. Toxic green somehow dancing on the edges of something lethal, suffocating and leaving her eyes watering for something unknown...

"Hey hey, she's a first year, lay off."

Adrian snapped his gaze to the side, meeting Draco who froze instantly in horror. Draco hadn't ever seen Adrian so absolutely….

Furious.

Suzie was reaching for her wand, trying to be subtle with it.

"Master! She spells!"

Adrian flicked out his wand and without even thinking cast a combat spell directly at Suzie.

"Get down!" Daphne shrieked, shoving Suzie off the couch where the curse hit the back of the leather. It smoked and smoldered something rank.

Lutain jumped off, leaping towards Suzie with the maddening intent of killing her in the primitive rage of an angry serpent.

"Wingardium Leviosa!" Theo gasped, snatching Lutain in mid jump to keep him suspended.

"Lutain!" Adrian gasped in surprise, turning with single minded fury. His hands clenched and the smell of burning leather increased.

"Stupify!" Draco shot out, Adrian deflected it with the finally perfected Protego.

The Prefects ran into the room, finally hearing the shouts and responding accordingly.

"All of you! Stop this!" The new female prefect shouted, her voice going overheard in the shouting.

"Flipendo!" Adrian growled, shooting the jinx at the couch where Suzie ducked behind just in time.

Daphne bolted away, leaving Suzie on her own, Theo had run for cover as well leaving it fairly obvious that Suzie was the intended target.

"Let me down! Let me down!" Lutain shrieked angrily.

"Don't move!" Suzie screamed, pointing her wand at Lutain instead of Adrian, "Or I'll blast the snake!"

A chaotic medley of people protesting rose loudly.

"No no!" Draco shouted in horror, "Don't blast the snake!"

Theo looked at Daphne with an expression of helplessness, "She threatened the snake."

Daphne looked pained, as if she had just witnessed something immensely stupid.

A loud buzzing and a surge of hate rose in Adrian, his eyes flashed. His eyes met Suzie, locking on and somehow they were so close amidst the chaos and snapping couches and loud shouts.

"Lutain, bite her." Adrian hissed, not realizing he was speaking Parseltongue. His words and voice drowned out in the chaotic swell of activity. Except for one person who was paying particularly hard attention.

Suzie's eyes widened noticeably as she inhaled sharply in surprise.

Multiple things happened at once.

The Slytherin prefect petrified both Adrian and Suzie in two strong charms. Lutain was blasted backwards from a messy spell, hitting the wall and passing out. The leather couch burst into flame entirely and raged so high it smoldered the ceiling for a split second.

Adrian hit the cold floor with a loud click, trying to quell the anger flurrying through him like a winter snowstorm.

'You have anger problems. Control it before I make you.'

Adrian exhaled and tried not to focus on how his magic felt so sour.

"Alright you two." The prefect's nostrils flared, glaring at Adrian without glancing at Suzie, "I don't care what you two were fighting about, but not again. You're lucky I don't call Professor Snape down here right now." She threatened.

It would be much more frightening if it wasn't for how Adrian didn't even bother to know her name.

She cast the counter spell, leaving Suzie in a shaking mess on the ground, nursing a heavily leaking nose with snot.

"Now get out of here." The prefect snapped, pointing at the door out of the common room. Suzie scampered away, Adrian stood slower, glaring with a prickling aura of irritability. He walked over, picking up the limp Lutain with uncharacteristic tenderness before settling him in a pocket of his inner robe.

Everyone gave him a wide berth, Draco and Daphne wouldn't even look at him. Theo shook in the silence of the room.

Adrian didn't need friends. They just got in the way.


He intended to go to the Hospital Wing to see if he could smuggle potions from Madam Pomfrey. A bruising salve, or a pain relief; Lutain needed something in his current state.

He was nearing the hallways, most empty with the population in the dining hall for the evening meal. He wasn't expecting to find anyone.

"Mr. Selwyn?"

Adrian tried not to look up, he sped up his pace ever so slightly, hunched forward to protect the limp rope that was his best friend.

A large warm hand settled on his shoulder, halting his walk and turning him into the gaze of the worried Professor Lupin.

"You've been crying?" Professor Lupin asked, immediately alarmed, "What's wrong?"

"Nothing." Adrian ground out, looking away to prevent making eye contact. His face felt sticky and sore.

"Ah," Professor Lupin started, the sound was too gentle, "My private chambers then? Just this way, we can talk in private if you'd like."

Adrian turned and nodded slightly.

They didn't meet anyone in the hallways which was a pleasant surprise. Professor Lupin's private quarters were hidden behind a scenic painting of a valley in remote wilderness. Lavender and wildflowers swayed in a faint breeze, opening to reveal an ornate wooden door.

"It's not much, but I hope it'll suffice." Professor Lupin smiled, holding the door open for Adrian who quietly walked in, quickly evaluating all corners of the entry room.

It was roughly the size of Adrian's own room, although it was only the entryway. If Draco had been correct, there would be an attached lavatory and bedroom. Often another bedroom appeared for guests although Adrian didn't see the door.

"Now, what seems to be the problem, Mr. Selwyn?"

Adrian opened his robe and withdrew Lutain, still out cold and pliable in his hands.

Lupin instantly dropped to his knees near Adrian, pulling his wand to mumble various healing charms.

"They're just to tell how hurt your friend is," Lupin soothed calmly, "They won't hurt him."

"I know," Adrian paused, "I know how to cast a few myself."

Lupin glanced at him with an unreadable expression before he jumped back into helping Lutain.

A few tense moments later Lupin left before coming back with a small vial, "This potion needs to be given, only a few drops considering snakes are cold blooded. But, his venom-" Lupin hesitated, wary of Lutain's bite. It was realistic of course.

"I'll do it." Adrian mumbled, using his short cracked nails to pry against his reptile's lips, pressing against the jaw joint to force it open.

It was dangerous how close his friends' fangs were. He knew firsthand how frightening they were.

A few drops into Lutain's mouth and Adrian placed the long snake in a loose coil on the chair beside him, watching him breathe for a few minutes carefully.

"What happened?" Lupin asked politely, "I assume there must have been a fight. I didn't think you would lose your temper so easily."

"Because of Bellatrix?" Adrian snapped, glaring with flared nostrils, "Because I never went running to another teacher?"

"I didn't say that." Professor Lupin added, "I just said you didn't seem the type to have a short temper."

Obviously he didn't know Adrian.

They stared at each other, the silence broken by a ticking clock on the wall.

"How was your change?" Adrian asked, noticing the slight marks on Lupin's exposed neck. It would be dismissed as minor scratching, except Adrian knew the look of freshly healed wounds. The full moon was only two days earlier after all.

"Painful." Lupin confessed, "how was your Winter break?"

Adrian stared, trying to determine what Lupin was trying to get from him, "Not. Not painful I mean."

Lupin looked much too happy for Adrian to bear.

"Why?" Adrian blurted, "Why do you make me your pet project? Why are you so determined to help me?"

Professor Lupin aged before his eyes many years. Wrinkles set and changed the shape of his mouth, altering his entire complexion into something old and tired.

"I-" Lupin frowned, rubbing his eyes with an old sigh, "I care for my students-"

"No, you don't." Adrian's lip curled, "You have attachment for me." Adrian's eyes narrowed, "Why me?"

"Adrian-"

"No!" Adrian hissed in English, jumping upright with his temper prickling once again, "Why me? Why?"

Professor Lupin stared at Lutain carefully, pointing for emphasis, "That's an impressive pet. Not many students actually have pet snakes, I've noticed. Beautiful creature."

"Some people would say the same about werewolves."

Finally he grew uncomfortable. "Most people find them horrifying."

"Most people hate Dementors, I don't think you do." Adrian pointed out, watching Professor Lupin's golden eyes carefully, "I think, you find they're fascinating."

Professor Lupin leant back in his chair heavily, crossing his leg at his knee, "That's a strange thing to say. Especially considering the unfortunate fact that they seem to be outside our every window."

"You know quite a bit about them," Adrian's throat quivered, "tell me about them."

Professor Lupin's brow momentarily twitched before he gave a small nod and his voice deepened slightly, slipping into his lecture more.

"Very well then, Mr. Selwyn. Dementors are considered by the ministry as a non-being, a classification other creatures such as Lethifold, Hidebehind, Shades, and boggarts share. They are called this because at no point are they ever truly 'alive' in the sense we all know it."

"They can't die, or that's what they say." Adrian added, peering out over a window sightless, "Yet you can kill a boggart."

"That's a bit difficult to explain, boggarts only barely fit the profile as they can die in the assumed forms they take when feeding on fear." Lupin explained, pausing to gather his words, "I've never recalled an instance of another non-being dying, although they are relatively rare."

"Dementors in question have the ability to suck the soul out of a person. They can feed on the happiest memories someone has, draining all hope, love, and compassion out until they are but an empty husk." Professor Lupin continued, his voice strangely relaxing.

"The patronus charm is the only known way to repel a Dementor- as you saw from my first lesson. I expected to see you at my lessons, why did you never-"

"I know how to cast it," Adrian mumbled out, "I learned it without you."

"...Do you learn your spells on your own then?"

Adrian sighed through his nose and crossed his arms, "How long has Dumbledore had an interest in me?"

It was a small question- Adrian hadn't actually noticed Dumbledore looking at him. He hadn't interacted with the man.

Considering his track record already, Adrian was almost positive that the man was watching him.

It was a reasonable fear. His father had told him time and time again to watch his movements.

Lupin smiled thinly, "Since your boggart."

Shite, the man was watching him.

Adrian nodded faintly, trying not to appear as dazed as he felt, "Of course, you report all of your student's fears' to the Headmaster then?"

"Only child abuse cases." Lupin carefully controlled, "Your last name alarmed me. Blood adoption?"

Adrian froze, breathing stopping as his eyes widened comically.

"Here," Lupin offered, rising to his personal desk before retrieving a single leaf of paper, poking it with his wand and opening it carefully. He folded it a number of times, walking over to point out two small names and a figure of footsteps.

Remus Lupin

Hadrianus Selwyn-Riddle

"You were adopted by purebloods, but somehow you were raised by Bellatrix Letrange." Lupin sighed, "None of this the Headmaster needs to know."

Adrian laughed incredulously, "You're not going to tell him?"

"Unless you give me a reason, getting in another fight, for example." Lupin pointedly stated, "He doesn't need to know anything besides your perfect exam scores."

"You want me to do better than your godson?" Adrian's eyebrows rose.

"I don't have a godson, Mr. Selwyn." Lupin tersely pointed out, "besides, I figure James's face would be fun to watch."

Adrian almost coughed a laugh, "That would be a sight, wouldn't it."

"Allow me the privilege of seeing it firsthand, and I'll tell you anything you'd like to know about magical creatures."

Adrian snapped his head up, "Tell me about being a werewolf."

Lupin nodded, as if considering the deal, "Tell me about living with Bellatrix Lestrange."

Adrian's jaw quivered, his throat swallowing rapidly. "Touche."


"Dementors are such sick creatures." Adalonda grumbled, watching amusedly the antics of the smaller beings, "Old tales said that they borne from sickened children."

"And that's not true?" Adrian asked, using Parseltongue for the flow of the conversation.

"No, little one." Adalonda chuckled, closing her eyes to relax on the surreally warm stone of the floor, "Tis other beings which borne from child's last breath."

"Have you seen one? A Demon-ter?" Lutain enthused, nearly blending into the darkness with how his scales were black once more.

"I have," Adalonda cooed, "Many seasons and many men ago. When I breathed air and hunted in sun. They were such foul things, perverse and greedy. Mercenaries for those in need."

"Mercenaries?" Adrian asked, "How could a nonliving be a mercenary?"

"They spoke none but transferred the final breath of those who wanted." Adalonda rumbled, her body relaxing and tensing with every breath, "If not religion who determines your soul what does?"

"People used them as executioners back then, that's so fascinating." Adrian blinked, imagining the weathered hands and the ghastly faces under the cloaks.

"Aye, formidable weapons but the toll too high. I have heard of kings selling kingdoms for aid in battle, fools betting worse for a chance of fate."

"You can bribe a Dementor?" Adrian asked, a smile slowly spreading "How? How do you bribe a Dementor?"

"Souls most prideful. Those who would not bow to those cowardly or weak." Adalonda explained, "Knights and knaves were fodder in their breath."

"Those who wouldn't bow to the weak." Adrian murmured out loud, thinking of who would fulfill that end of the bargain.

And, oh.

He had just the creature in mind.


Daphne changed from the one eventful day of reckoning in the Slytherin common room. At first Adrian assumed that she was having another argument with her roommate, Tracey Davis, but as it started to go on and on, Adrian realised it was something else at work.

At age thirteen, fourteen in some students, his classmates began to change. More ramped on hormones and desire to perform well, and occasionally insult every Gryffindor that walked past.

Adrian was no exception, he found his temper slowly impairing his other functions. Since his brawl with Suzie, he had targeted and exchanged spells with a Hufflepuff and an overconfident Gryffindor boy.

Draco started casually throwing around the expression, 'burning angry' which infuriatingly caught on quickly in Slytherin. Even applicable to others, the expression was used when the threat of spells or a fight was just barely restrained.

Other people were annoying, they were constantly wanting help or information, favors or papers, wanting him to purchase and give them the perfect gift or object.

It was exhausting to the point of reducing Adrian to simple introvert. Normally this wasn't a problem, if anyone wanted his direct presence they would tell Theo, who was the only one able to open the room. The rare occasion where Adrian stumbled out he normally wore sloppy sleep clothing, it made most purebloods sneer in disgust.

More than anything, Adrian was confused.

Why had Lupin been trying to get closer to him? Why had he gone through the effort?

What did Lupin want with him?

Lupin had his uses no doubt, not only his immense wealth of information and the kind personality and aura around him managed to soothe Adrian's temper on occasion.

The fact he was a werewolf was just an added bonus.

But what would Lupin want? There had to be an ulterior motive behind his actions.

Was it possible Lupin somehow connected the dots between who Adrian was? That he somehow linked Adrian's entirely different appearance to the small scared little boy who just wanted to go to an expo?

With Suzie suddenly in Slytherin and poking around where she shouldn't, the added stress of Lupin figuring out who he was would be too much.

Not to mention he still needed to investigate the Dementors, establish contact for the Azkaban break-out, and pass his final exams. He needed to prove Skylar Potter wrong with a higher Defence exam score.

His desire to perform better sent him into a haze of studying and reading. Wrapped up in a blanket stolen from his bed, he read the thick Defence textbook in dark sleepwear in the public common room.

"Comfortable?" A smooth eloquent voice asked, voice thick with the disgust Adrian always received when wearing sleepwear.

"Your discomfort is my comfort," Adrian responded absentmindedly, belatedly realising who it was actually talking to him. "Oh, over your tantrum then?"

Daphne's exterior frosted over, "Done antagonizing my first year?"

Adrian's face twitched against his will.

"Careful there, Selwyn," Daphne warned, walking slowly around the couch to sit daintily on the far side of the one he sprawled across, "those facial tics of yours give you away."

"I don't have facial tics." Adrian scowled.

Daphne smiled thinly, "Of course. You know, I was wondering what type your snake is. I've never seen one like it before."

Adrian eyed her suspiciously, "Considering you don't even know his name, your sudden interest is suspicious."

Daphne laughed gently, perfectly; it was posed and practiced too well, "Oh I've always liked him. He's gorgeous, such pretty black scales. He must have cost a fortune."

'She's digging' A voice whispered wearily, 'She's looking for something.'

"If you enjoy him so much, why don't you look for him?" Adrian asked, waving his hand to the open room, "He's around here somewhere."

"You just let him loose?" Daphne's face tightened, "that seems...dangerous."

So she was still afraid of Lutain after he had lunged at Suzie with lethal intent.

"Don't upset him," Adrian advised, "He understands English."

"If he has your temper, you should keep him caged at all times." Daphne thinly stated, "For everyone's safety."

Adrian smiled, "Why, was that a threat, Greengrass?"

Daphne stared, her blue eyes watched him carefully. She would have done well in Ravenclaw.

"Selwyn," Daphne leant forward, crossing her leg to subconsciously alter her entire presence, "I was speaking with Millicent the other day-"

"That must have been strenuous."

"-and she told me the most fascinating thing." Daphne paused, "How she believed that you were adopted-"

"Oh not that bloody mess again," Adrian sighed, closing his book pointedly and drawing his legs up into a more professional position, "Greengrass, if you have nothing to do but spread around rumors that circulated in our first year-"

"The man in your boggart was your birth father," Daphne smoothly covered, silencing Adrian's protesting words, "or, a blood adoption."

'Humor her,' The voice whispered, soothing tendrils to calm his anxiety.

"So now it's a blood adoption?" Adrian spoke, somehow, thank Merlin, his voice didn't tremble. "What's next, I'm half veela? A vampire? A daywalker?"

Daphne frowned, "Things about you don't add up, Selwyn."

"Just the way I like it," Adrian sighed, "If you're that interested, cough up the galleons. Then we'll talk."

"No," Daphne spoke, rising to her feet smoothly to look down at Adrian. Her eyes were suspicious and sharp, her mouth turned downwards in a small frown.

Adrian arched his eyebrow, toxic green eyes nearly glowing in the green light of the room. His face was broken with a careful smile, an insufferable one which gave the viewer the urge to smack him right in the face; it was obviously a taunt but never with words.

"Am I the only one who seems to realize that your deals aren't just for galleons?" Daphne asked softly, "You get just as much out of it as whoever asks for help."

Adrian shrugged, reaching for his book again, "It gives me assurance."

"It taints your name."

"Honestly, Greengrass," Adrian snorted, "Do you really think names matter that much?"

Her jaw twitched falling for the bait. Then she smiled, a victorious look with a self gratified fire burning in her eyes, silvery-blue like unicorn blood.

"Thank you Adrian," She smiled, voice like fae's bells, "you've just told me you aren't a pureblood."

She sauntered away, leaving Adrian staring at her in shock.

"What." he breathed, unable to react until the cornsilk haired girl had left his eyesight.

"Well, that was fun." Lutain hissed, sliding his way out from under the couch, "More fun than scaring humans. You were tricked like rat-man and Nagini."

"Never call me Wormtail again," Adrian clipped hotly.

Lutain snickered to himself and slithered back under the couch to the safety of darkness.

Chapter Text

The Dementors were swirling, conspiring in thick shrouded masses outside the windows.

Adrian could see them dance in his peripheral vision, startling students who sat nearest the windows with sudden bouts of frost and dread. An impressive fire had been charmed to blaze cheerily in all classrooms, dancing the shapes of phoenixes and unicorns running in and out of the smoke.

Aurors were more present, less to protect the populace and more to figure out why the Dementors had suddenly congregated at the school instead of the borders along the property. They still worked at Azkaban, at least a portion did, securing the prisoners and feeding on their faint tastes of hope and longing.

Perhaps that was why they were near Hogwarts, just beyond the wards of the castle. The hopes and aspirations of children would be as delightful as a suckling pig to a butcher.

"They're creepy," Draco muttered under his breath, sitting next to Adrian in Potions although not actually sharing his cauldron. Instead Adrian worked with Goyle, trying to save the potion as much as possible.

"I think they're beautiful," Adrian countered, slapping away Goyle's grubby fingers who were reaching for beetle eyes at the wrong time.

"Yeah but that's you," Draco argued, deftly slicing poppy roots while instructing Crabbe how to stir the concoction, "I wouldn't be surprised if you had a taxidermy pixie collection at your home."

Adrian shot him a wounded look, "A pixie collection? If you're asking about my dragon claw collection-"

"What, no skulls?" Draco drawled, "Missing the pickled two headed baby squid in a jar?"

Adrian chuckled under his breath, shaking his head in amusement as he added in the beetle eyes Goyle had been pawing at the proper time.

"I wouldn't object to a dragon skull," Adrian mused, "Especially if it had been in battle."

"You mean with scales?" Draco asked with one eyebrow raised, "An Opaleye would be interesting."

Adrian hummed, pointing out how to stir the cauldron to Goyle as he started peeling hopping seed pods, "A live dragon would be even better."

"If they weren't illegal." Draco added with a frown, "I have a feeling you wouldn't follow the law anyways."

"What, me?" Adrian gaped in mock surprise, "Never."

They continued chatting, Draco offering animals that gradually grew more and more ridiculous. Adrian then named the proper living conditions or how he would contain it, or mount it on his wall. Potions class was let out, thankfully with no unfortunate accidents from Longbottom or Potter (Who managed to lose forty house points). They rose from the steps, heading out across the covered bridge towards Hagrid's hut where Care for Magical Creatures took place.

Dementors swooped in the air around them, kept out by a near invisible shimmering sheen like glossy fish scales.

Draco shivered, "I don't see how you find such monsters, beautiful."

Adrian frowned, "Look at them. They look so effortless, so powerful in the air." Adrian explained, eyes glazing as they danced in the air swooping down and up again, "They look like wind itself."

"More like a nightmare." Draco muttered, "If you like flying so much, why don't you just ride a broom? I'd take you flying again if you want."

A dementor looped in the air, its cloak trailing behind like elongated shadows of smoke.

"No," Adrian mused, not regulating his words, "I want to fly like that. Without a broom. Just the wind and your own body twisting in the air."

Draco laughed out loud, "Better luck riding a Griffon, you dolt."

Adrian smiled faintly, "Bet you ten galleons I'll do that too, someday."

Red sparks shot up from the rough area of Hagrid's hut, from the various pens and wooden fences along the side. Hagrid was nodding in the distance, talking to someone with unmistakable bushy hair.

"Oh look, your mudblood girlfriend." Draco sneered, causing Adrian to jolt.

"Excuse me?" Adrian blinked, "She's a Gryffindor snob along with a pushy bookworm. I despise the air she breathes."

Draco looked as if he had been struck, "Why do you hang out with her?"

Adrian blinked in bafflement, "I have debts to fulfill. Besides," He paused, smiling slightly in amusement, "She's friends with Potter. Never know when that will be handy."

Being close to Potter would be handy.

He'd be able to spy and-

Adrian exhaled in a single large rush of air, his eyes widened as slots of ideas slid together into a cohesive idea.

"Look, I've got to go," Adrian breathed, stepping backwards towards the castle.

"What?" Draco snapped, "No, no, you are not skipping Care-"

Adrian had already turned and bolted, running into the castle with determination in his steps.

He ran up the stairs, waiting impatiently for a specific moving stairwell. A group of upper year Hufflepuffs shouted angrily for him to slow down.

Adrian first checked the classroom, swinging the door open to look in the quiet room. Dementors flicked beyond the high stained glass windows in the back.

"Selwyn?" A baffled but obnoxious voice questioned, curiosity thick like molten chocolate.

"Potter," Adrian monotonously responded, pausing to form a pleasant smile as he observed the Gryffindor boy, "What might you be doing here?"

"Er," Skylar blinked, eyes half hidden behind mousy bangs. His rounded cherub looking face looked cursable, "Remus wanted me to get his lesson plan for tomorrow-"

"Remus?" Adrian asked dryly, "Really feeding out of your teacher's palms, aren't you."

Skylar blushed, then flushed angrily.

"I don't know why Hermione likes you!" He blurted suddenly, "You're always so rude-"

"But I'm helpful." Adrian sniped out cockily, "Much more than you are."

"You snake faced-"

Adrian snorted at the insult. His father may be, but thankfully he hadn't inherited those genes.

"Is he in his quarters?" Adrian asked, already walking to Lupin's desk to grab the lesson plans in question, "I'll take them to him."

"You-" Skylar started to question before pausing abruptly, "Aren't you supposed to be in Care right now?"

"Aren't you?"

"I'm on-" Skylar winced suddenly, "Official Saviour business-"

Adrian tilted his head back and laughed, "Oh Merlin," He wheezed, nearly crying at the ridiculousness of it, "Is that really what you're telling people?" He gagged, inhaling too quickly for his lungs to accomodate, "Oh, no wonder you're the joke of the Wizarding World."

"I am not!" Skylar shouted, flushing up to his ears in embarrassment, "I really am doing important-"

"Listen here, Potter." Adrian's smile became wickedly sharp, "You may think you know what you're doing, but in this castle, I'm the one, who's one step up."

Skylar frowned and looked ready to punch Adrian in the face.

"You're not the boss of me." Skylar prickled, nearly sending spittle on Adrian's face. Skylar was in an unusually grumpy mood, generally he wasn't this easy to rile up.

"No, I'm not." Adrian agreed, "But remember that when the time comes for you to need information or help, I have blackmail or dues for nearly everyone in this castle."

Adrian's eyes nearly glowed, "And that's something even you, Golden boy, don't have."

He shoved past Skylar, taking great satisfaction with how his bony shoulder clipped the other's.


"Professor?" Adrian asked politely, elevating his voice to speak through the door, "Professor Lupin?"

The door opened slowly, revealing a sickly looking man who was still unmistakable.

"You look terrible." Adrian blinked, ever so blunt with his observation.

Lupin still looked baffled, stepping back to allow the door to open further, "Mr. Selwyn, why are you-"

"You're having Skylar Potter do your errands?" Adrian arched one eyebrow, "Really?"

Lupin blinked, large bags under his bright golden eyes, like melted galleons, "Don't you have class?"

Adrian ignored it and walked further into the room, stumbling as he slammed into the strong smell of incense in the air.

"Mr. Selwyn, I feel morally obliged to send you back to your class-"

Adrian sighed audibly, "I have your lesson plans, I'm more useful than Skylar."

Lupin smiled thinly, dropping onto the opposite chair with a small wince.

"Well, Skylar is a good boy-"

"Also your godson," Adrian pointed out, causing Lupin to frown.

"Mr. Selwyn, I'm not sure where you get this information-"

"I have a lot of good information," Adrian slyly added, "I'm sure you'd find it useful."

Lupin rolled his eyes with a strange fondness Adrian hadn't ever seen directed at him before.

"Well, I'll let you know next time I want to know the newest gossip wheel in the Slytherin house." Lupin smiled, "Maybe Professor Snape and I can discuss it over tea."

Adrian gave a bark of laughter at the thought.

"Anyways, thank you so much for delivering my lesson plans. I'm feeling a bit under the weather, I'm afraid I won't be able to teach tomorrow." Lupin apologized with a sincere expression of regret.

"I'm sure that Snape would like teaching for a day, since he can't get the position." Adrian blinked slowly, "The position is cursed, you know."

"It's such a strange expression considering real spellwork and curses exist." Lupin smiled, running one hand through his limp brown hair.

"Oh," Adrian blinked slowly, "It is cursed. The Dark Lord cursed it himself, only misfortune falls to those who attempt to teach more than a year."

Lupin froze, his hand stilling in his hair. He looked at Adrian with a sense of utter disbelief, "Mr. Selwyn where did you hear such a silly rumor-"

"I know a lot of things," Adrian swallowed, "Can you swear to me what I say won't leave the room?"

"Mr. Selwyn-"

"Please?" Adrian paused, stomaching his pride to try and assume the persona of not his father's son. "Please, Remus?"

Remus melted like the paternal sap he was. "Of course, I swear what we talk about won't leave the room."

Adrian smiled, a gentle expression formed on Lupin's face. Adrian stomached his doubt, briefly wishing Lutain was with him to egg him on, "I know about the Order of the Phoenix."

"What?" Lupin jumped to his feet in alarm, "What are you-"

"I know a lot of things," Adrian added, "Things that a boy my age shouldn't. People overlook me," he pointedly stated, staring with all seriousness into Lupin's eyes, "Bellatrix underestimated me."

Lupin paled more than it seemed he possibly could with his complexion, "Mr. Selwyn exams are fast approaching, you should be better using your time-"

"The dementors are so close, Professor." Adrian spoke, lowering his voice to a whisper as he looked out of the nearest window, it was already getting dark out, "they're leaving Azkaban."

"Listen to me, Adrian," Remus Lupin growled, a low rumbling noise in his throat that was distinctly canine, "Bellatrix Lestrange cannot get out-"

"Students are whispering," Adrian pointed out, still gazing out the window, "They're saying things that Azkaban is going to fall."

A complete lie. Or perhaps it was truth, Adrian didn't know for sure.

Remus Lupin leaned back, rubbing his eyes and looking considerably worse off, "That's...Let me think on it, Mr. Selwyn-"

"If I'm helping you, you can call me Adrian." he pointed out, green eyes finally meeting gold, "anonymously of course."

Lupin smiled tightly, "This is dangerous work, Adrian."

Adrian smiled back, eyes sharp, "This is a dangerous world we live in, Professor."


The chill was rising with the moon. Adrian didn't have that much time, not to mention his detour to the Slytherin rooms to retrieve Lutain.

"We heading to the forest?" Lutain hissed eagerly, peering around and scenting the air as an early warning, "Heading to Adalonda?"

"Adalonda first," Adrian mumbled to himself, walking purposefully through the dark passageways of the castle. Paying the Weasley twins for the secret pathways was well worth it.

"Yes! The forest for demon-tears." Lutain cheered, purposefully messing with the word.

Adrian smiled and slid out into the washroom, opening the Chamber to slide down.

The Chamber was just as he left it, although it had been tidied slightly. The huge snake skin had been pushed out of the way, trampled by something roughly the same size.

"Adalonda?" Adrian shouted, his hisses reverberating oddly in the large room.

Ginny's skeleton was moved as well. Only her hair remained.

(Lutain had mentioned it to Adalonda, who moved it one day without further questions. Adrian hadn't seen it since.)

"Lutain?" A larger much deeper grumble sounded, echoing off the many pipes and statues, "Cerestes?"

That had been an argument in itself. Adalonda had quickly fallen into a mothering relationship with the two, constantly wrapping them under her coils like she was nesting a clutch. She refused to call Adrian by his name, instead falling into her self proclaimed tradition of naming serpents.

Adrian had absentmindedly mentioned his title was to be Cerestes, a mythological serpent which survived by disguises and ambushing; Adalonda instantly took to it, only calling Adrian that.

"We're here." Adrian responded, walking into the main chamber just as Adalonda finished slithering out of one of the massive pipes, "Where were you?"

"Swimming," Adalonda blinked, moving aside one of her many eyelids, "Not long, helps with shed." she explained briefly tilting her massive head to one side, "You travel to the forest?"

"Yes!" Lutain writhed eagerly, "I will strike centaurs! I am faster now!"

"You have shed many times since I slept last," Adalonda commented, "You are nearly unseen, night-scales."

Lutain wriggled excitedly.

"Which pipe exits in the Forbidden Forest?" Adrian asked, peering through the many twelve foot tubes.

"The Lost Forest is old," Adalonda tisked, "Not forbidden, only Lost. This path, little Cerestes. Exits near clearing, but long have abandoned. Giant spiders flee, like worms." Adalonda explained, pausing before making the oddest grunting noise.

"I make the hiss of a spider," Adalonda explained, looking as if she had done something obvious, "It was accurate."

"That was one of the worst impressions I've ever heard." Adrian added goodnaturedly, patting her side affectionately.

"Such rude hatchling," Adalonda huffed, peering at Lutain tiredly "Does he always speak so rude."

"I did not understand your hiss." Lutain confessed, "Sounded like frog."

"It did not!" Adalonda huffed, a smile in her voice, "You all have leaves in ears."

"I don't!" Adrian argued.

"I don't have ears!" Lutain argued as well, "Your tongue is limp!"

"His tongue is a fish!" Adalonda pointed out, flicking her own forked tongue for emphasis.

Adrian smiled and wrapped one arm a third around her neck in a quasi hug before climbing carefully into the dark tunnel.

"Lumos," He murmured, alighting his wand before turning back to the clouded eyes of Adalonda "You be safe, okay?"

"'Be safe'" She mimicked, tossing her head, "You are one who awakens a sleeping queen without knowing what will happen! If anyone needs to 'be safe' it is you! My scales will fall out with stress!" She ranted, "Stay away from Centaurs! They are fast and will shoot you with arrows!"

"I'll bite if they do!" Lutain boasted, causing Adalonda to huff in amusement.

"We'll be safe," Adrian smiled, "We're only going to offer a treaty to Dementors by giving them the soul of Hippogriffs."

Adalonda blinked slowly, "You're worse than Salazar."

"We'll be back!" Lutain promised, darting into the tube ahead of Adrian, forcing the wizard to run after.

Ever so quickly the tube stretched off, leaving Adrian with the disorienting sound of his own feet echoing all around him.

"Master, what happens when we reach the forest?" Lutain asked, slithering quickly with the casted heating charm around his body, "I can't bite dead."

"Well you could, but they're already dead so it wouldn't do anything." Adrian pointed out, relishing in his parseltongue, "I brought my cloak. I don't know where father got it, but I think the dementor material sewn into the bottom will help. It should keep them away."

"Should?" Lutain picked up on the hesitancy, "You have no idea do you."

"I am entirely certain a portion of the time."

Lutain paused a second to comprehend what Adrian had said, "You're as smart as a rock."

Adrian blinked and scoffed, angling to the left and upwards slowly as the tube ramped up, "That was rude. Should I use large words to confuse you?"

"Master I think you are being very rude." Lutain spoke with a fluid eloquence that could only exist from practice, "Nagini taught me that phrase,"

"I wonder why she knows that so well." Adrian chuckled, recasting Lumos to carry on in the darkness of the pipe.

Adrian was starting to doubt if Adalonda had been right before the tube started to widen, creating a funneling opening in the ground near an uprooted tree. They stumbled out, crunching on stiff grass as before their eyes, the tube melted into the dirt.

"Open," Adrian tested, feeling relief as the depression slowly melted away into the opening of the funnel once again, "Alright, Lutain you're up. Can you find the Hippogriffs?"

"You could if you were serpent." Lutain slightly barbed, "I could take you hunting!"

Adrian snorted, "You know I can't change into that. I'll need Wormtail to help me."

"Then you can eat him!" Lutain cheered, "He smells bad. You should eat him."

"You know, you can't always just bite and eat people you don't like." Adrian noted, stepping over a branch and offering an arm for his friend to climb up. Lutain slithered up, only using it as a crutch to be dragged over the large log, then he was on the prowl once again.

"I can't?" Lutain asked in surprise, "We always bite what we don't like. Or what scares us." Lutain added afterwards, gazing off into the distance as if lost in thought.

"We never had so many words either. So many sounds and meanings..." Lutain mused, voice trailing off quietly.

"Serpents?" Adrian clarified, "Do you like having more words?"

"It's strange." Lutain added, shifting under a fern and out of sight for a moment, "So many ways for saying what food wanted. Rat or mouse. Small or large." Lutain huffed, "I like words."

Adrian smiled, "It's nice to talk to you," he smiled, helping his friend over another log, lowering down a ravine carefully, "Are you sure this is the right way?"

"Are my scales black?" Lutain hissed in amusement, sliding up Adrian's leg before he got the message and lifted him to his throat, "Horse-birds that way."

"Horse-birds, right." Adrian nodded, "Have you ever seen a horse before?"

"Yes Master." Lutain hissed, peering around in the dark, "Hatchling in strange house of many prey and predators."

That was true, Lutain had come from a zoo.

"We are close." Lutain reported, uncoiling to allow Adrian to fish around in his expanded robe pocket to retrieve his cloak.

It fit him snugly, even through another robe than normal. The clasp clicked shut around his sternum, the edges flaring out like wings before settling gently around his legs.

"It's cold." Lutain complained, flicking his tongue at the off coloured grey tendrils at the bottom of the cloak, "It smells sick."

"That's how you know it works." Adrian smiled, pulling up his hood in one swift movement, activating the sticking charm interwoven with the fabric.

Lutain struggled to slither up the fabric, finding himself sliding down every time he tried to grip. "Allow me," Adrian offered, gently grasping his friend around his midsection. Adrian distantly marveled over how large Lutain had grown, he must have been nearing four feet.

Lutain coiled snugly, gripping tightly around his neck. Amazingly, no matter how much Lutain tightened, the cloak didn't press against his throat.

Adrian spotted what looked like a wooden fence in the distance, as he drew closer he could identify it as the edge of Hagrid's pasture. Although the Hippogriffs could fly, Adrian had noticed they stuck to the pasture where they were for sure to be fed.

"There!" Lutain hissed, tugging towards the right with his body, "I scent!"

"Well I don't see anything." Adrian retorted, squinting in the distance, "I know, I know, pathetic human eyes and all. Not everyone can smell body heat."

"That's why you should shift into a serpent kind." Lutain smugly added, "We wouldn't have this problem."

Adrian chuckled at Lutain's words. He moved carefully, taking a few moments to jump the fence carefully. He slid his wand into his hand, stopping his lumos spell as he drew closer.

He spotted the first Hippogriff, standing in a strange mixture of hunkering into its wings and curling its cloven hooves under it.

"Now we need the dementors." Adrian muttered, peering off into the distance.

There was something wrong with it, something was tickling his neck the wrong way.

The clouds over the full moon dispersed and as soon as he saw the light, he realized why.

"Lutain," Adrian snapped, drawing his wand and hunkering into a defensive stance, "Do you scent anything strange. Like a dog."

"Never scented a dog before." Lutain cheekily replied, but obliged by tasting and scanning around repeatedly.

It was likely that Lupin wasn't even at Hogwarts anymore- he had even seen Lupin looking so terrible.

"Stupid, stupid!" He cursed to himself, scanning around in the bleary dark anxiously, "Let's just find the dementors. Can you smell them?"

"No," Lutain hissed, "They fly near lake. Not big lake, small one." Lutain instructed, looking over to the side.

Adrian faintly knew of a smaller lake, one that Unicorns went to for drinks and to bathe. Hagrid had spoken of the place, it seemed ironic that a place once full of light and hope had been pushed out by the non-living.

Adrian hurried off, running in a sprint. Once he found a dementor, he had to hope that a Patronus would show he was serious. Then he'd have to bring a Hippogriff to him- perhaps they just needed permission before feasting on a soul?

Adrian suspected Dementors worked on a system of permission and loyalty binds. They were neutral in alliance, only serving those who had the highest profit to did wonders to confirm his suspicions. Although Adrian could go and drag a Hippogriff all the way out, he really hoped he just had to formally grant permission.

He stopped, his heart fluttering in his throat, when he heard the lone howl of something larger than a wolf.

"Bollocks," Adrian gasped, looking at Lutain who had frozen in fear as well.

They were out in the middle of the Forbidden Forest with a werewolf on the loose.

Adrian rolled his shoulders, twisting his wrist and held his wand before him. He had in practice, learned many different spells to fight off magical creatures, although he hadn't ever executed them against something. Practice was one thing, but actually performing?

He was hesitant to use his patronus now that Lupin was out and about, there was a chance that he could recognize it later.

"Let's go and get out of here." Lutain hissed, "You do not stop the hunt if the prey is formidable."

Adrian sighed but started running again, jumping over fallen trees and off mossy boulders when he could. He could hear the whispers in his ears, his breath drawing mist before his mouth, and he knew he was in the right place.

The lake was frozen, dementors dipping down low enough to brush against the lake and cool it once more. It was beautiful in its own way, the swirling pattern like a tornado of black, illuminated by the full moon.

Adrian walked out, trying to quell his hammering heart, watching the phantoms of reality dance before his eyes like a private show.

"Sonorus," Adrian cast with a sliding motion, pressing his wand to his throat to amplify the sound, "Dementors," He addressed, hoping his voice didn't warbel.

They spun, swooping to somehow curve around him, wrapping him in the center of the cyclone. The temperature dropped drastically, numbing his exposed fingers. The cloak appeared to neutralize the other effects, they seemed to realize it as well.

One swung forward, pausing just out of his grasp. It tilted its hood, creaking groans and gasping parted from what was its vocal chords. It reached out one hand, long and bony with scaled rotting skin flaking off.

"Dementors," Adrian addressed once again, "I come offering a token of peace, and a sample of what My Lord can offer."

It tilted its head, drawing closer with the grace of death itself.

"Master," Lutain shivered, tensing closer as the monster pressed nearer.

"There is a- a herd of Hippogriffs on the outer rim of this forest," Adrian stumbled, feeling his hands start to shake from the cold. His instincts crying at him to get away-

He wanted to reach out and touch it, to see if it's hand felt as it looked.

'Bestow them,' the voice whispered in his skull, 'A gift of gratitude.'

"I bestow to you and your kind, a gift of gratitude and a-an offer, for future compliance with the D-Dark Lord Voldemort," Adrian started again, feeling lightheaded from the pressure of so many monsters, so many beautiful creatures-

It tilted its head as if considering. They swept back, bowing with arms extended in a circle around Adrian. The one in charge rattled loudly, it's cloaked hood seeming to lower as the bottomless black depths of…

Sound seemed to pulse slowly, even the feeling of Lutain drifted.

The black depths seemed closer, ever so close to Adrian. It swallowed him, the edges of his vision creeping black as his breath rattled hollowly.

It inhaled and Adrian felt so very dizzy...

"Expecto Patronum!"

And it was broken.

A shaky antelope bolted out across the ice, skittering playfully and dispersing the Dementors.

Adrian knew that shaky creature. He knew that creature and why was this happening?

"Potter!" Lutain hissed, who tucked himself to Adrian's neck, disguising himself better. Lutain seemed oblivious to the disorientation Adrian felt, how the very air itself stung and burned his lungs.

Adrian felt like teetering to the ground, he couldn't. Not when somehow Skylar had followed him.

How? How did Skylar follow him? He couldn't have, but the likelihood that the two of them would venture into the forest at the exact same time…

Where was Skylar, anyways?

And then Adrian saw. Across the pond, there were two people, laying in the grass exhausted and shivering. Looking worse for wear, shaking and trembling on the pond stones bordering the frozen pool.

"The female," Lutain warned, "Potter's Den-mate."

Hermione and Skylar were a shaking mess, the epitome of pathetic and lucky.

To make matters worse, a huge black dog barreled into the area, skittering across the ice with a yelp before crashing and sliding, it hit the bank as a man.

"Skylar! Hermione!" Sirius Black shouted, grabbing the two and pulling them to their feet, "Let's move, Moony's on his way and Prongs can only-"

Moony? Prongs?

The trees smashed open with the strange sight of a huge twelve point stag tossing its head, trying to warn back a humongous bipedal creature, short fur interspersed with pale silvery skin. Large gruesome scars and claw marks decorating its shoulder and face in a recognizing pattern...

Lupin.

"Move move!" Sirius shouted, scrambling back and pushing the kids behind him, "Run!" He shouted, jumping into a mid-air animagus transformation.

It was amazing, to see skin be replaced with fur in a smooth transition of wax melting on a candle burning too hotly. The stag- Prongs, Sirius had called it, bleated out an angry noise, stomping its hoof angrily. It was too intelligent for a normal animal, avoiding its prey thought process.

Lupin's golden eyes met Adrian's through the hooded cloak with the savagery of a wild animal.

The werewolf howled, a long single note that rang true through the trees and on the wind. The lonely sound of a wolf without its pack.

Adrian held his wand in front of him, and exhaled slowly.

This was no worse than Bellatrix.

This was no worse than his father.

'You have held your own against the Dark Lord,' he thought with an intoxicating softness, smoothing and depressing his anxiety, 'You can hold you own against a mindless beast.'

He could. Adrian exhaled, and smiled.

The Werewolf jumped over the stag, its face pinching in violent intent. Its long hooked claws dug into the ice like hooks, pulling it across the surface towards Adrian before Sirius Black or the stag could redirect him.

"Master," Lutain warned, tensing close to his neck, "I'm ready."

Adrian shook his head, "Let me," He hissed quietly, holding his wand in a dueling pose parallel to his jawbone.

His father could curse him, but a werewolf could not.

"Impedimenta," Adrian casted flawlessly, hitting the Werewolf in its chest right as it lifted its left arm to slash through Adrian's chest.

Adrian stepped to the side, exhaling softly as the slowing spell allowed him to duck under the werewolf, pointing his wand at the wolf's back, "Reducto."

The spell collided and blasted the wolf into a tree. It groaned, wood flaking off as the entire trunk shook under the weight of its impact.

"Good strike, Master." Lutain hissed excitedly, "Black fur creature, behind you!"

Adrian slashed his wand over his shoulder without looking, "Flagrate"

Fire spells always were Adrian's specialty, it was Black's fault that he jumped right into the fire line burning strongly in the air.

Black yelped, landing on the ground in a strange sprawl. The dog fur started to shift, receding; extinguishing the blaze.

Lupin growled and shook himself free from the tree. He lowered himself into a stalk, long claws dragging as he approached Adrian cautiously.

Black paused, then grimaced and resumed his canine form to combat the werewolf.

Adrian didn't need to watch Sirius, he had his best friend to do that for him.

"Behind!" Lutain warned, giving Adrian the split second needed to duck into a roll and send the Werewolf jumping over onto the yelping black dog. Adrian's side somersaulted over a large rock, sending a throbbing pain through his chest which would most likely bruise.

A stag tossed its head angrily, each of its prongs sharp in the moonlight.

Adrian cracked his neck and pointed his wand once again, this time at the stag instead of the canine dog fight.

The deer charged, the Werewolf jumped, and Adrian casted the strongest shield he knew he could execute.

The deer recoiled from whiplash, snapping its head back with enough force it collapsed on the ground. Lupin slid down the shield, blinking in animal confusion before Adrian sent another blasting hex at the wolf, sending it skittering across the iced pond.

Lupin skittered, scrambling before his claws punctured the ice.

Adrian inhaled, and focused with a serene calmness.

Inhale.

The werewolf's lips pulled back into a silent snarl, long strands of saliva dripping from its maw as its gums twitched.

Pressure built behind Adrian's eyes, pinpointing like a thorn inside his ears digging deep, deep, deep…

Exhale.

The ice shifted, the water below bubbling unnaturally.

Crack.

Lupin froze, the hair on his back rising in instinctual fear as something was most definitely wrong.

The ice broke. Melted from a boiling fire.

Lupin fell through the ice with a high pitched yelping noise; Sirius Black instantly began to yelp in response, belly crawling across the broken ice to try and get to the shattered spot.

The stag jumped, shifting halfway through- it was an animagus like Adrian expected.

"Moony!" James Potter shouted, fumbling in his robe's pocket for something, likely his wand.

Adrian lifted his wand one more time, pointing it at James Potter's unprotected backside.

"James! Your back!" Sirius shouted suddenly human and still wiggling across the ice.

James spun, raising a shield just in time to stop a blasting curse.

"Get Moony! I'll take the Eater!" James hollered, spinning and shifting into a dueling stance.

Shite.

Adrian had dueled Bellatrix on multiple occasions, of course at that time the focus was to get Adrian to successfully cast a specific curse or spell in question. Dueling with his father was much harder, although those duels focused on Adrian's agility and ingenuity; he wouldn't ever be seriously hurt.

James Potter holding nothing back, he may be hurt.

He was out of his league.

"Stupify!"

"Protego!" Adrian summoned his shield, thankful again to his father for making sure he had mastered it.

"Stupify!" James sent again, the curse was bright red and lit up the clearing, "Stupify!"

"Diffindo!" Adrian shouted, using the moment Potter dodged to hiss under his breath to Lutain, "Dry bite!"

"But Master! My venom!" Lutain complained, getting no response he grumbled but coiled in preparation to strike.

Lutain would not kill him.

Only Adrian would be granted that pleasure.

But for now, Adrian couldn't do that. He had to just bide his time and get away.

"James!" Sirius shouted, scrambling to try and levitate the thrashing howling werewolf out of the water, "I need help!"

"Hold on!" James shouted, wanting to help his friend.

"Accio, James Potter's robes," Adrian rushed hurriedly, swishing before stepping to the side as suddenly as a matador.

James Potter pinwheeled, trying to slow his speed.

He brushed nearly right next to Adrian.

Lutain struck- his body a single well oiled machine. Fangs as white as bone needles, piercing flesh...

James Potter shouted, scrambling back with his hands flashing to his neck- blood was pouring out at a dangerously fast pace.

Lutain hadn't- Lutain hadn't injected venom...

"Dry bite," Lutain assured, feeling his tension, "Let's go. Adalonda awaits."

Adrian paused, watching as James Potter collapsed, eyes wide and horrified. He paled, not from blood loss but from horror of the situation.

"James! James help me-"

"It bit me," James choked out, stumbling backwards, "I- A snake- A snake bit me."

A pause before more muffled swearing and a keening suffering werewolf still trapped in icy water.

"Let's go!" Lutain wailed, tugging towards the vague direction of the castle, "Flee!"

With how dark the night was, even with the full moon, Adrian doubted he could have found the recess in the ground that led back to Adalonda's cave. They would have to run for it, thankfully both Potter and Black were occupied, allowing him to slide back in the trees. There was still the chance that Hermione and Skylar was lingering in the woods- come to think of it, why were they out there anyways?

The moment he was hidden behind an ancient Oak, he took off in a loud sprint. Trees and fallen leaves from the autumn crunched under his shoes; Adrian abandoned all attempts of stealth as he sprinted through the underbrush, occasionally running into reaching tree branches.

He wasn't sure how long he had been running, adrenaline pulsed through his deafening heartbeat. His legs burned yet he forced them to move faster- branches whipped at his face leaving him teary eyed and stinging.

The forest broke in a clean line- he had run off course from Hagrid's corral and ended up nearly out of sight. The castle of Hogwarts loomed high in the sky, looking something of mythology under the stars and moon.

"The Hippogriffs," Adrian strangled out, resisting the urge to vomit from his unexpected sprinting.

The plan was that Adrian would sneak back to Adalonda, informing her that the Hippogriffs had been sacrificed. She was the one adamant in making sure the bodies were not wasted. With how the night had turned into a disaster, Adrian doubted that was possible.

"Leave them," Lutain complained, making a sigh of defeat when he knew Adrian wouldn't listen anyways.

He lumbered across the uneven grass, his cloak snagging on a few small shrubs of scottish heather. The tendrils of Dementor's cloak were more durable, drifting over the branches like silk on skin. The rest of his cloak was the problem. Small barbs from prickly forest plants stuck around his hips, pieces of broken twigs and bark clung to his shoulders and arms.

He hobbled over, finally having his breathing under control. The wooden slats for the fence were frozen, decorated with the thinnest layer of frost.

The Hippogriffs were sprawled in odd positions; a normal person would assume them dead if not for the deep breathing and moving chest.

Adrian placed one foot on the lowest rung of the fence, already hiking himself up and over.

"Master! No." Lutain yelped, "Master no! Back to the castle! Do not!"

"Relax," Adrian mumbled, hopping onto the soft grass on the other side, "I only want a feather."

"A feather?" Lutain squawked, "You risk our scales for a feather!"

Adrian wisely didn't respond to his fuming familiar, and approached the nearest Hippogriff. Something mahogany brown with speckled feathers around its neck. Adrian reached out, pressing a hand to the warm fur by its flank. He could feel its heart, such a strong heart to send blood to the wings and its massive body, constrict and beat with a distracting calmness.

"Master! If you want feather, fine! But be fast!" Lutain hissed, flicking his tongue quickly, "Not safe here."

"Right," Adrian blinked, pulling his hand away as he walked up to the Hippogriff's giant wings, tugging at the primaries uselessly.

"Stop playing!"

"I'm trying! It won't come off!" Adrian complained, scowling at the beautiful speckled object as if it had offended him. He tried another, using his leg to hold the wing to the ground.

It came free with a cracking noise- he had pulled too hard and broken the bone. The bone had been weaker than Adrian expected.

"Look what you done!" Lutain hissed, his tail twitching in agitation, "Broke it!"

"It's already dead!" Adrian defended, holding the feather reverently in his hands, "Completely worth it."

"You're a worm," Lutain insulted, "With a useless collection."

"My collection is not useless!"

"Will you ask Adalonda for a fang?"

"Okay," Adrian paused, trying not to cave so easily, "Do you know how amazing that would be? A real Basilisk fang?"

"Master?"

"Yes, Lutain?"

"You're a worm."

Somehow through the anxiety and rapidly fading adrenaline, Adrian found it in himself to breathlessly laugh.

Chapter Text

Lutain slithered down towards the Chamber before Adrian woke up. It was fortunate Lutain had thoroughly investigated all of the plumbing pipes with Adalonda's help, being able to slither to the chamber from nearly any washroom in the castle was surprisingly useful.

Adrian slept wonderfully, even after having to sneak into his own room so quietly as to not wake Theo.

Adrian was blissfully unaware up until the point where Theo doused him in icy water.

"Theodore!" Adrian gasped out, rolling out of the puddle on his bed onto the floor. He was fortunate to wear a shirt to sleep, it was easy to remove the icy fabric. Even more fortunate that Adrian had multiple spares, with how often he overslept or stayed in his room.

"That's what happens when you sleep in, well, more than usual." Theo noted casually, peering around the room curiously, "Where's your snake? Want me to leave the door open?"

It was a testament to how much Lutain had grown on Theo for the other boy to offer without another thought. The idea almost made Adrian smile.

"I'll do it when I leave," Adrian sighed absentmindedly, stretching and wincing. He still felt completely exhausted, he had been out way too long the night earlier. Then again, he generally always felt some level of exhaustion.

Although the one hippogriff feather would look beautiful in his room at home.

"What were you up to last night?" Theo asked, picking out his clothing for the day, "Didn't figure there was much left to do, since we're leaving soon."

Adrian grumbled but searched for his own clothing to change into, "I was just out."

Theo snorted but after checking that Adrian was decent, darted out of the room to meet up with Blaise.

Adrian fumbled with his shirt, buttoning it quickly and sliding on his thin robe.

The others were waiting, looking as prim and proper as they always did. Daphne clicked her tongue and cast the charm to fix bags under eyes, smiling the entire time. How polite of her.

They walked through the recognizable arches, up the steps towards the Great Hall. There was a suspicious lack of students up and about, especially considering it was the day before they departed for home. Generally students were making messes out by the front doors, the Weasley Twin's or Peeves' signatures on the walls.

They walked into the Great Hall, taken aback by the chaotic flurry of feathers and screeching birds.

"What-?" Pansy shrieked, fending off a grey owl which snapped at her harshly, "What happened?"

"Did the minister get assassinated or something?" Daphne sniffed, walking through the chaos as calm as ever. She took her seat, trying to flag down one of the Daily Prophet's owls.

Adrian frowned, looking for Hedwig in the flurry. He didn't see her, although he did spot one tall figure walking towards him with the Gryffindor Head of House.

"Oh no," Blaise reached for a piece of toast, "Look who's coming for you, Adrian."

That was strange, especially since it wasn't Snape, who generally took care of his students.

"Mr. Selwyn," Lupin's expression was pinched and waxy. He looked overall, completely terrible, "A moment of your time."

Adrian felt cold as ice once again, his irrational fear spiked and sent shivers down his arms.

'Calm down,' he forcibly thought to himself, exhaling harshly through his nose in one mighty gust.

"Professor," Daphne politely added, "Are you feeling unwell? Perhaps you should visit the Hospital Wing."

Lupin shook his head slightly, "I'm afraid that I really must insist, although I thank you for your concern. May I speak with you in private, Mr. Selwyn?"

Adrian blinked and nodded slowly. He stood- only for a large black eagle to plunge into the room with the viciousness of a vulture. It lunged, several tail feathers swaying haphazardly as they nearly shook loose.

Draco flinched, gaping at the bird in surprise and recognition. He didn't seem necessarily pleased, glancing around the Slytherin table in concern, as if the bird was for him.

Adrian knew that bird well. Although he had no idea how it was recovered, as far as Adrian knew it was taken in as contraband.

He also knew that the bird was not there for Draco.

Adrian extended one arm, allowing it to perch and dig its wicked talons into his arm. Adrian grunted slightly, the noise high pitched and nasally as a single bead of blood welled from where it's filthy talons dug. It snapped its beak, holding out one leg with a small amount of parchment tied to its scaled leg.

"That's..." Draco floundered, unable to process the bird perched on Adrian's arm. He quickly snatched a Daily Prophet from a first year, blurting out a random insult to have the younger student release the paper.

Draco jerked the paper open and froze; Pansy gasped in shock, reading the headline over Draco's shoulder.

"Oh. Oh Merlin," Theo blinked, looking horrified as he read the title, "Adrian..."

The bird shrieked impatiently as Adrian untied the parchment carefully. It was difficult to do so with one arm. It snapped, jerking and flying off unprompted with no intent to stay behind. Small wells of blood slowly trailed downwards from where the talons had dug in.

"Give me the paper," Adrian swallowed, holding a hand out for the newspaper. The rolled parchment was still trapped in his clenched fist.

Draco handed the Prophet over numbly.

Daphne folded one hand under her chin, watching Adrian's face attentively.

'MASSIVE-BREAKOUT-AT-AZKABAN.'

Oh.

Bella.

Adrian paused before politely and thinly smiling over his shoulder where Professor Lupin and the Head of Gryffindor house watched him concernedly.

"Professor, perhaps we should discuss whatever that was in your office."

Lupin nodded shortly, walking hurriedly out of the main hall with the obvious intent of readying his office for Adrian's arrival.

Bellatrix was out? Bellatrix had escaped Azkaban?

Were the Dementors around Hogwarts because they knew the attack was coming? Or did the attack occur simply because the Dementors were away?

Had his father somehow already conversed with the Dementors? Was that why he hadn't wanted Adrian to meet with the undead creatures at all?

Bellatrix was free, his Bella was free!

Adrian briefly spotted Neville Longbottom being consoled by Skylar and Hermione in the hallway- others were affected by it too, weren't they? Adrian had almost forgotten that other people knew Bellatrix.

Adrian hurried past, trying to ignore everyone and make the parchment in his grip seem unassuming. He spotted the werewolf waiting near a corner, shoulders shaking as he tried to compose himself. His instincts were likely still sharp with his recent transformation.

Adrian stepped up to stand besides Lupin and followed him silently until they arrived at the Professor's private quarters. With barely a pause, they stepped inside and closed the door.

The moment Lupin stepped through to his room, he sighed and sagged his shoulder as if tired from carrying an immense weight.

"You look terrible," Adrian announced, breaking the quiet.

Then, because Adrian was feeling incredibly bubbly and giddy, he added on almost humorously, "Rough night?"

Lupin shivered, "Something like that. I'm sure you've gathered that Bellatrix Lestrange has escaped from Azkaban?"

Right, Adrian had to look concerned.

Adrian nodded slowly, forcing the movement to look timid, "I figured that's why she was out. You-Know-Who would probably want her back... do you think that he's back?" Adrian widened his eyes forcefully, "Wouldn't that be a surprise for Skylar Potter."

Lupin paused, observing and staring at Adrian for a moment too long to be normal. He looked almost like he was evaluating him, scrutinizing his appearance.

Adrian wasn't...Adrian wasn't giving anything away though? Was there something telling, something he hadn't thought of?

"Let's not talk about Skylar," Lupin advised eventually, sinking into a plush chair, "Let's talk about you. I don't normally extend this offer, but I'd like you to know that you can owl me at any time over the summer."

Adrian blinked in surprise, "Pardon?"

"I'm worried that Bellatrix may attempt to meet you over the summer… if that happens, message me and I will personally escort you to a safer place."

What?

Oh Merlin, what had he done?

"You'd put me into protective custody?" Adrian's jaw dropped in shock, "But... the wards-"

"I can tune your owl into my house's wards, and into any place I'll be visiting." Lupin politely added, "Your owl is the gyrfalcon?"

"I- yes." Adrian blinked, trapped somewhere between dazed and baffled, "Her name is Hedwig."

"A wonderful name for a beautiful bird," Lupin wistfully added, eyes sparkling despite his gaunt and waxy looking skin, "And your familiar's name is Lutain, correct?"

Lupin was actually trying to remember the name of Adrian's friends?

Lupin was being serious?

Oh Bloody Hell, Adrian's father was going to kill him when he learned what a mess Adrian had made.

There was no way Dumbledore wasn't aware of this train wreck.

But… Lupin had said that Dumbledore was only aware of the so called 'Child abuse', which meant that perhaps the old man only knew that Adrian was in an unhealthy household.

It didn't necessarily mean that Dumbledore knew that he was living with Bellatrix.

And yet...Lupin's offer made sense, it was useful.

As much as Adrian didn't want to admit it, the man had a point. Adrian didn't know where he would be going once he got off the train. He didn't know which house was truly his anymore. Would Bella have a safe-house, or somewhere else she'd be living? Would he live with her, or would he stay with his father still? Would he be passed back and forth like some sort of pathetic muggle custody challenge?

"Also," Lupin spoke, his voice dragging Adrian out of his own thoughts. Lupin looked much more hesitant, as if he was fumbling with how to bring up a topic, "Are you… certain that your birth parents are deceased? My friend, James, or Professor Potter to you, he could search through the Ministry database if you recall your true birth name-"

Why would Lupin think that Adrian's birth parents would still be alive? Well, Adrian's surname that appeared on that damned charmed map did display Riddle. It sounded like a muggle surname, which could leave the impression Bellatrix was a cradle robber.

Actually, wasn't she?

Ah well, at least Adrian could tie up this loose end. As far as Adrian was concerned, his birth parents were long since dead to him.

"They're dead," Adrian's eyes darkened as once again his temper flared, tainting his tongue with an acrid flavour, "Do you know what that's like?"

Remus Lupin face pinched into a look so painfully haunted, it reminded Adrian of thestral cries. The mournful sounds they gave when the milky eyes stared deep into your soul.

"I do," Remus admitted, his voice breathy like a sigh. The man paused, lifting his hands and rubbing his eyes.

"I- not many people know, but Skylar was born a twin."

Adrian froze, in horror.

What.

The.

Hell?

What was Lupin doing?

"Exactly," Lupin misinterpreted his horror as surprise, "His name was Harry, he was a wonderful boy, an amazing child," His voice cracked and he cut off with a sigh, "We were alarmed when he didn't attend Hogwarts... it was too dangerous to check in on him before then, too many Death Eaters were looking for revenge."

"The rumor, on the train when Skylar passed out." Adrian almost didn't hear his own voice.

"It was truth, Skylar did have a brother."

"What happened?" Adrian's mouth moved numbly, his words sounding fractured even to him.

"Bellatrix Lestrange," The name sounded like a curse from Lupin's mouth, his eyes flashed wolfishly, "She destroyed everything. She... we couldn't even find a body."

They had looked.

They had looked for him.

Oh Merlin, no wonder everyone was so shaken with Bellatrix being released, Skylar Potter must be filled with horror over the situation.

"I'm sorry," Adrian stiffly murmured, "Were you two...?"

"I was his Godfather; a rather ruddy one at that."

"It wasn't your fault," Adrian echoed, words that had been spoken to him such a long time ago.

Lupin looked up sharply, golden eyes narrowed as his nostrils flared in surprise. Adrian's pulse fluttered in his throat, "I'm not him. I'm not your godson, I don't know what you're doing, why you're so interested in me. I don't know, I just…" Adrian trailed off uncomfortably- why was his throat feeling so tight?

"It wasn't your fault but don't replace him with me." He coughed out, as if it was a bladed weapon that tore his throat apart.

"Of course I wouldn't," Lupin smiled somberly, the expression looking pained, "But I wouldn't want to see Bellatrix Lestrange tear apart someone else. "

There was something unspoken on the end of the sentence.

"I'd like that," Adrian blinked, not even aware of the words until after he had said it.

What was he doing?

Lupin smiled, a large grin that split from one side of his face to the other, "Thank you, Adrian."

"My name is Hadrianus," Adrian blurted, chewing on his lip thoughtfully, "Technically, Harry is a shortened version."

Lupin shook his head ever so slightly, "No, I think I'd prefer to call you Adrian, if you don't mind." His eyes softened and nearly shimmered, "I think you two would have gotten along well."

'I killed him,' Adrian wanted to blurt, 'I killed Harry Potter,'

But he didn't.

He didn't know what he was doing either.


The Hogwarts Express chugged across the landscape.

"Think Nagini is bigger?" Lutain hummed curiously, peering out at the blur of the landscape, "I've shed many."

"I doubt it," Adrian sighed, staring at a page of a book and failing to read it properly. His mind was whirring too quickly with the thoughts of Bellatrix and Lupin. Even his father.

They were polar opposites, different ends of the spectrum. Bella was chaos in itself, Lupin was security and stability. His father was somewhere in between, something much more dangerous than a werewolf could ever be.

How was it that both his father and Lupin had taken such an interest in him? Lupin had only known Adrian for a year. His father not much longer.

"There are sheep!" Lutain enthused, looking at the various pastures, "So soft!"

Sometimes it was the smallest things which made his familiar so happy.

"Did you know," Adrian started, closing his book and peering out the window as well, "That when sick, sheep will actually medicate themselves by eating specific herbs?"

"Clever sheep," Lutain confirmed, peering out as they passed another flock.


They exited the platform, taking time to lug down each trunk onto special carts and trolleys for transporting luggage. Wouldn't do for a Pureblood to lug around an owl cage.

Hedwig's cage rattled loudly, smacking into Lutain's special box. The snake in question was curled around his neck, scenting the surprising mixture of animals and people.

"There you are," Daphne Greengrass smoothly slid over to him. She wheeled her own trunks with the Greengrass crest over alongside Adrian's own collections. Her hair had been done up, styled nicely at the nape of her neck so as to not snag on the bags she had slung over her shoulder, "Oh, what a coincidence. I would love to meet your parents, Adrian."

Adrian scowled, she politely smiled in response.

"We simply must stay in touch over the holidays," her smile was predatory, "I'm eager to see you attend my summer gathering, Adrian."

"I doubt I'll-" Adrian paused when he felt the strangest tingle against the edges of his senses, a pulse of something decadent.

"What is it?" Daphne asked, peering through the mob of people, trying to see what had caught his attention.

Adrian's face split into a smile against his will, eyes widening in amusement and humor at the situation, "Oh, he didn't."

Daphne eyed him oddly and confused.

Lord Voldemort himself was smoothly moving through the crowd, each step fluid and languid like a vampire. Nobody managed to touch him, most likely subtle repelling and notice-me-not charms on his cloak and high quality robes.

"Oh," Daphne blinked quickly, glancing between his father and Adrian with an almost disappointed expression, "Your resemblance is uncanny."

They'd have to change that somehow.

"Hello Adrian," his father calmly addressed, overlooking Daphne with disregard as if she were scenery. "I assume you have gathered all of your necessities."

"Of course, Father," Adrian responded shortly, it was easy to see where he inherited his tone of voice from.

His father placed one hand on his shoulder, twisting suddenly and violently to apparate away without ever acknowledging Daphne Greengrass.

Let her try to swallow that bit of information.

Chapter Text

Thoughts drifted lazily in and out, each tangible until they melted, evaporating into the finest sand, blowing gently in a wind.

Every cloud, every solid surface bubbled and boiled when the scantest trace of touch drifted near its surface. It drifted, rippling and caressing each prod like smoke.

The intangible liquid condensed when out of prodding distance, forming into shrouded walls and blackened pillars. The illusion was disorienting, surrounded by oasis in a never-ending desert.

It was a snowfall of grey ash; pillars and walls constructed of fine dust and soot. Like a painting, the further you stood the more solid it appeared. Under close scrutiny it crumbled and faltered like sandstone under foot, leaving dust and unreadable powder with every step.

Memories disintegrated, whispering broken snatches of conversations into a meaningless blur of sensations and sounds.

The touch removed itself, the fluid serpentine body pulling away and out of Adrian's skull with near damaging force.

Adrian blinked, his eyes rolling back into focus as he rolled his shoulders tiredly.

"So?" Adrian cleared his throat, resisting the urge to rub his eyes with the palm of his hand.

His father's eyes narrowed, one hand tilting Adrian's head sideways with gentle fingers. Adrian could tell his father was sliding into his mind once again- absolutely seamlessly to the point Adrian couldn't even tell.

"It's unique," Voldemort stated eventually, his voice smooth and careful, "Defensive to the point of maddening."

Adrian felt a flare of pride, washing through his head to the core.

"Emotions aren't well disguised," Voldemort noted scoldingly, "They carry through stronger than distinct thoughts."

He was still in Adrian's head? He had broken eye contact, how was he-

"I'm the best legilimens in the world, child." Voldemort's red eyes glimmered in satisfaction, "I don't require sustained eye contact to read your thoughts, of course, only am able."

Adrian sagged in relief, the last thing he needed was Dumbledore or his head of house to sneak through his mind even with broken eye contact.

"So I can help?" Adrian asked hopefully, crossing his legs carefully on his bed. It had been expanded with Adrian's growth spurt. He had easily grown a few inches taller in the last couple of weeks. Along with his height, his voice had begun to lose the childish quality, lowering into something smoother with occasionally horrifying cracks.

"You've placed yourself in a unique position," Voldemort admitted crossing one leg at his knee. He lifted his left hand to remove one stray hair which drifted in front of his face, "A valuable one, although risky considering your barriers were not yet cemented."

"They are now," Adrian grumbled, resisting the urge to cross his arms, "Lupin isn't a legilimens anyways."

"You couldn't have known," Voldemort retorted with one arched eyebrow, "Do not forget it was my influence which constructed your Occlumency."

Adrian blinked in genuine confusion for a split second, "I know. You're my father, I like that you can see inside my head."

Voldemort said nothing, he only blinked slowly and turned his head slightly. The light from Adrian's bedside lamp cast a shadow over his father's cheekbones, hollowing his jaw.

"You'll be training with Bellatrix once again," his father announced, "More difficult spells of course. Your magic is at it's swell, as such you will be trained accordingly."

"Darker magic?" Adrian asked, trying to hide the hope lifting in his voice. "Spells others won't know?"

"Or how to counter." his father noted with a slight glimmer, "You will be training with a follower of mine, Rowle. He will teach you Apparation."

"Apparation?" Adrian blinked quickly, trying to dispel the nervous tension, "Isn't that a complex skill?"

"Easier than the Animagus transformation, which you intend to master as well." Voldemort noted pointedly, wrinkling his nose slightly in disdain, "Apparation is more useful if you are to spy on the Order of the Phoenix."

"Can't we just use the mark?" Adrian asked hopefully, he really did want to master his Animagus transformation before attempting something as advanced as Apparation. He had heard horror stories about it from Rabastan- people splinched with legs protruding from their shoulders. One lady had died after leaving her lower half behind and showing up as only a torso.

"The mark is not useful for training or elaborate concepts," his father's voice was sharp. A small flare of throbbing in the back of Adrian's mind alerted him to his father's rising annoyance, "You will learn Apparation. I intend for you to participate in a raid, my announcement of my return. You will be using a portkey, but such failsafes cannot be relied upon forever."

"A raid?" Adrian straightened instantly, "An actual raid?"

Adrian had always dreamed of participating in a raid. Obviously he couldn't help with the minor spells and charms learned in his first year. Even the elaborate hexes that he spent weeks on wouldn't be enough to defeat an auror in a simple duel. His fight with James Potter just before the term ended was proof enough. It was dumb luck that Werewolves couldn't swim that had saved him and stopped the two aurors from chasing him down.

"After you practice with Bellatrix," Voldemort crooned back, eyes glinting brightly like rubies, "You will go with Nagini as a guide, she will protect you and let me know your whereabouts at all times."

Adrian huffed and swallowed down his protests- he didn't need Nagini to mother him and guide him around like a lost dog. He was much faster, he was already a much better spellcaster than Potter.

"The raid will take place on August 25, during the Quidditch World Cup." Voldemort continued, ignoring Adrian's stewing thoughts, "You will attend as a learning experience only."

Adrian wasn't a fan of quidditch, although the world cup was something Theo had been enthusing about since second year. Theo was excited, along with Draco that it would be hosted in England. Knowing Draco, he would likely already have seats reserved.

"What spells am I going to be taught?" Adrian leant forward, bracing his elbows on his knees, "The Unforgivables?"

"I learned those in my sixth year," Voldemort smoothly rebutted, frowning as he observed Adrian's face closely, "Those are still too advanced for you."

Adrian did not pout, although his cheek did twitch unwillingly.

"Unfortunately," Voldemort continued, sighing dramatically with displeasure, "You have inherited my looks significantly."

Adrian had hoped for that, although he only shared half of his father's genetics from the blood adoption potion, the fact he had taken it before he grew ingrained their shared features further. He didn't see it as a problem at all, he was proud to inherit the hair and the nose. A permanent reminder that Adrian existed as someone entirely new, someone who was a threat.

"I agree, you are a threat," Voldemort nodded, a small smirk twisting his thin lips as his eyes darkened lazily, "I would love to see the expression on the old fool's face if you were to age, untouched."

"What-" Adrian bit his tongue, growing silent as his father frowned in disapproval at his interruption.

"It's possible to place a minor glamour over you, shifting it to be permanent," Voldemort continued, clicking his tongue thoughtfully, "Of course extended exposure to that may indirectly affect your magic, and you already have such wonderful control."

Adrian flinched but stayed still as Voldemort snatched his head, long fingers curling around his jawline and chin, forcing it sharply to the side to see his profile.

"No, perhaps a natural illusion would alter your appearance appropriately," Voldemort hummed, "And you've created such a wonderful tale of dear abusive Bellatrix."

"What..." Adrian swallowed anxiously, feeling the beginning stirrings of fear in his stomach. "What do you mean?"

His father had a strange expression on his face, one glimmering with some sort of dark amusement. He reached out, gently shifting Adrian's hair until he could see the bone white mark on his up upper forehead, hidden always by his fringe. His scar, or at least the one his father had given him a very long time ago.

The long finger trailed over the slightly raised edge, more tangible than visible. It was in the shape of a lightning bolt, unique and something Adrian treasured.

His father's mouth quirked, as if he had realised something at the sight of his scar.

"I'm sure I can come up with something." He mused, twitching his finger so the nail sharply dug into his skin. Adrian didn't even flinch.


His father, like the sadist he was, immediately threw him into the dragon's cage to face the beast itself directly after the proclamation.

"Adrian!" Bellatrix shrieked, her hair much shorter than he was used to. It barely brushed her bony shoulders, "My baby!"

Adrian turned partially, taking the tackling hug with his shoulder knocking into her chest. It didn't prevent the long gnarled nails on her hands from digging into his upper arm, although it helped him protect his lungs and breathing from impact.

"I've missed you!" Bellatrix cooed, stroking his hair and somehow knotting the locks between her slightly shaking fingers, "You're so tall now!"

He had grown, although compared to his father he was still so short. Next to Bella, he realized he didn't need to look up at her nearly so far.

"Yes, I grew," Adrian spoke, the words awkward and stiff as he watched her for any violent movements, "That's what people tend to do."

She flung him away, curling her hands to her chest as she cackled loudly, eyes welling with delighted tears.

"They do!" She agreed enthusiastically, "Like a puppy!"

Adrian carefully pulled his wand from his sleeve, showing her his movements slowly so she wouldn't lunge at him. "Father said you were supposed to be showing me spells."

"He did?" She cocked her head the one side, eyes going blank before sharpening, "Oh! Yes! He did!"

Bellatrix never used to forget information like that, especially from her lord.

"Here," She chirped, flicking her wand in a movement Adrian dreaded seeing every morning. Cheery birds shot out, flapping in the air excitedly in mockery of Theo's inventive technique to rouse Adrian, "Target practice!"

"On live birds?" Adrian floundered, "Shouldn't we conjure a target first?"

She blinked and shook her head patronizing, "Oh Adrian, what's the point in learning dark magic if you don't have some fun!"

She spun, pointing one shaking hand at a happy canary, she shouted something quickly, sending a white line of magic at the bird. Despite how her arm tremored, her aim was impeccable.

The bird shrieked, spasming and collapsing to the floor. It trembled, shaking as its feathers puffed unnaturally, its skin swelling as if it tangled with a stinging jellyfish.

"See!" Bellatrix cackled, "Much more fun with live things!"

"That was a stinging hex?" Adrian blinked quickly, trying to mentally process how fast events had unfolded, "you're teaching me a stinging hex?"

"Oh," She blinked, eyes blank once again, "Yes, yes, let's teach you that. Okay, it's Ictum. Cast it like this-" her tongue poked out as she jabbed her wand forward like a spear. She did it casually at Adrian's chest, not caring about how the movement had Adrian ready to shield at any sign of magic. Bellatrix seemed like she would curse him without thought.

She looked at him impatiently, and with a slow breath he relaxed and looked for a target.

"Okay," Adrian exhaled, pointing his wand at a carefree bluebird, "Ictum."

He didn't cast it, although it sent the strangest sensation up his arm, leaving him gasping in surprise at the feeling. It felt like he had briefly submerged his arm in water, sending feeling through his nerves.

"No no," She tutted, dancing forward and grabbing his arm to point it at the bird again, "Like you're stabbing out its eyes!"

Right, stabbing out its eye. He practiced the movement once, exhaling before casting loudly, "Ictum!"

A white light shot out, hitting the bird and causing it to falter. It was flapping with a limp, landing and preening at its feathers uncomfortably.

The strange sensation tingled up Adrian's arms once again- was this what dark magic felt like?

"Ictum," He tried again, jabbing forward and sending a considerably stronger jet of light. His nerves tingled and muscles twitched as the relaxing feeling of warmed water drifted up his arm, just above his elbow.

The bird shrieked, puffing dramatically and dropping to the floor.

"Yes! That's it!" Bellatrix laughed, "Stinging hex like a pesky stinging nettle."

It looked more like an allergic reaction, similar to the bite of an Urosting.

"Ictum," Adrian continued, reducing his volume into a determined flat tone. Twice more his arm tingled comfortably, causing him to frown when it receded.

Birds dropped to the floor around him, chirping somberly as wings were held in awkward positions.

"Here," Bellatrix coached, directing his aim at one of the birds on the ground, "Rumpervis! To pop pesky feather balls!"

Adrian hadn't ever heard of a spell to 'pop' feathers. Was it a spell used against feathered magical creatures?

"Rumpervis?" Adrian tested the word, rolling it on his tongue. Bellatrix nodded eagerly, pointing at the first Canary on the ground, "How do I cast it?"

"Like avis," Bellatrix innocently added, "It gets rid of them!"

Avis had a counter spell? Normally the birds just vanished back to wherever they were summoned after a period of time. It would be useful to know the counter spell, especially when Theo summoned a flock to pester him in the mornings.

"Rumpervis," Adrian casted, not expecting a dark corkscrewing spell to leave his wand. It twisted, purple on the very edge before it connected with the bird.

It circled it for a split second, making almost a net around its swollen body. It sunk, paused for a split second before the bird exploded.

Adrian stumbled backwards, tripping on the ground as a tiny splash of blood speckled his cheek. It was probably unnoticeable, yet the warm fluid felt like it had drenched his entire face.

Yellow feathers stuck to the ground in the sticky pile the bird had once been, its left wing had been blasted clear off and laid on the ground. One puffy Robin hopped over to it curiously.

"See?" Bellatrix cackled loudly, "Pops feather balls!"

"You should have told me that it explodes birds!" Adrian shouted back, scrambling upwards to pull out his wand once again, he hadn't been prepared to just murder an animal.

"It's more fun not to tell you," She laughed, "Rumpervis! Rumpervis!"

Two more birds exploded with small bangs, speckling blood on the startled Robin.

Adrian had just killed a bird.

Although, they were conjured. So it was likely that they never had existed, or were true to the word 'alive'. They were just targets, moving targets that had as much life as a stationary training dummy.

"Okay," Adrian breathed, standing shakily and pointing his wand at another bird, ignoring Bellatrix's massive grin, "Rumpervis."

The Robin hopped, looking flustered with one gigantic wing, then it cried out.

Pop

The blood made Adrian flinch, looking away while exhaling through his nose. His arm tingled like stinging hex, making his skin warm and relaxing his muscles. He could seriously see the use of casting magic like this- to ward off the cramping muscles he got after writing long essays.

"Feel it?" Bellatrix asked, breathing it out in a loud noisy sound, "The harder the magic, the better it is."

"The stinging hex is better," Adrian blinked, frowning as the warmth faded all too soon, "Does it last longer depending on the target?"

"Nope," she popped the P with her lips, painted in horrible lipstick, "The stronger the spell the longer it lasts."

Adrian pointed his wand at a bird circling above them, "Ictum."

The spell was cast harder, the white light tinted almost blue around the edges. Adrian felt the sensation before it even hit the bird. He cast the dark bird popping spell before the bird hit the ground.

It felt nicer, like he had sprawled out with his arm on Nagini's basking rock.

He didn't even notice the bird pop.

He blinked, staring at his hand which displayed no external signs of the feeling. It was his magic itself thrumming in his skin, warming in his blood.

"What's next?" He asked Bella instantly.

She grinned.


The convenience with Adrian's new height, was that he could pass off as an adult when he wore robes.

Of course his entire wardrobe had to be adjusted, his special cloak was taken from him one day and returned the next with all new fabric.

Lutain had been spending more time with Nagini, at night they conversed and Lutain filled him in on the new techniques for scaring and his new lessons in human-building-navigation. Adrian thought it was all Griffon fodder until Lutain surprised him horribly by opening the door to the lavatory while he bathed.

What Lutain lacked in muscle and in size (although he was rather skilled at tightening around Adrian's throat if he said so himself), he made up in speed. With his black scales and stunning yellow belly, he and Nagini made it a contest to scare the living daylights out of Wormtail whenever they could.

Adrian had explicitly told the two that he still needed Wormtail for his animagus lessons, and they were not allowed to eat him or kill him.

Bellatrix's lessons continued on a daily schedule, although the intensity of the training varied by the injuries obtained. Adrian's father had a near constant supply of potions for injuries, Adrian suspected the man brewed them all himself. Although Voldemort hadn't ever actually stopped in to watch the training for himself, he seemed pleased by the evidence of the curses along Adrian's skin.

They had mostly stuck to various hexes and curses that were simple in complexity- Adrian could tell because the most satisfaction he received was warming tingles to his right shoulder. Regardless, they were able to do enough damage sticking to the basics. Slashing, blasting, melting, and cutting hexes were almost exclusively used.

Bellatrix managed to cross over the scar on Adrian's bicep with a curse, turning it into a perfect 'X'. Adrian managed to cut her hair even shorter. Considering how long it took for Adrian to heal, he considered it a win.

Once again, Adrian found his affinity with fire spells, able to shift them and cast them with relative ease. Bellatrix mentioned how his Fiendfyre would be absolutely beautiful.

He wasn't allowed to start practicing magic that advanced, the only difficult piece of magic he was expected to learn was the one he was dreading.

Apparation was something Adrian genuinely expected to learn from his father. He assumed since it was a general mode of transport for most wizards and witches, it wouldn't take an extensive time to learn how to perform.

Rowle was one of his father's followers, therefore loyalty and duty bound to protect Adrian was well. It was a good decision, mostly because Adrian wondered if Bellatrix would have actually helped him if he splinched part of his leg on the other side of the room. Rowle apparently was very proficient with dark magic, as well as damaging charms. Bellatrix sighed almost dreamily as she explained how she once watched him cast four killing curses back to back.

If his father trusted the man, then Adrian would have to hope that he didn't mess up too badly.

"He's here!" Bellatrix squealed excitedly, skipping down the hall with Adrian's forearm in her gasp. "Oh, you're going to love him."

Adrian seriously doubted that.

Bellatrix swung open the door to the main dueling area, warded to prevent damage to the building's infrastructure. A smart decision considering how vicious Bellatrix got.

Rowle stood, wearing dark clothing with the signature white mask covering his face. His hair was short and blonde, more of a Northern European look than the Malfoy platinum. Sharp blue eyes pierced Adrian, as fierce as an eagle.

"Hello!" Bellatrix cried excitedly, jumping up and down with her robes billowing, "How have you been!"

Rowle's thin lips pinched into a polite smile, "How was Azkaban."

His voice was deep, rumbled with the faintest slur of an accent or a speech impediment.

Bellatrix threw her head back with a cackle, twisting her torso and nearly throwing Adrian with the sharpness of her movements, "Wonderful! So many crying idiots, begging for this or that. I almost miss it."

"Enough goading," Adrian clipped out, eyes looking at Rowle criticising, "I was told you're a proficient dueler."

Rowle tensed, his obvious muscles hunching as he flat out ignored Adrian, looking at Bellatrix instead. "What's with the kid?"

"Thorfinn!" Bellatrix gasped in shock, holding her hands to her chest in shock, "How rude!"

Rowle sniffed, "When did you get a kid?"

"I'm not Bellatrix's child," Adrian's voice was icy. He mentally chanted that this man would not attack him, no matter how intimidating he looked.

"Right," Rowle sighed impatiently, "I have things to do-"

"You're supposed to teach me Apparation," Adrian scowled, spitting the word like venom from his mouth, "In two months at the latest."

Rowle's eyebrow lifted from behind the mask, "Two months, right. How old are you kid, fifteen?"

"Thirteen," Adrian scowled, pinching his expression sharply, "Fourteen in a month."

Rowle snorted loudly, a patronizing smile on his face, "Right, thanks for the laugh Bellatrix but-"

"Oh Thorfinn," Bellatrix sweetly sighed, shaking her head sadly, "How upset our lord will be when he finds out you were so rude to his heir."

Rowle paused, looking at Adrian blankly.

Adrian rolled his shoulders with pointedly annoyed expression, "I need to perfect the Animagus transformation as well. The sooner we get this over with, the sooner I can get back to more important things."

Rowle opened his mouth, then clicked his jaw shut.

"Isn't he precious?" Bellatrix gushed, "I taught him everything he knows!"

"If that's true, Merlin save you." Rowle grimaced, pulling his mask off to reveal strong features and a thick jaw. He stashed it in his inner cloak pocket, offering one arm as thick as Adrian's leg, "You ever Side-apparate?"

"I have." Adrian admitted, "Father took me."

Rowle paused, "Father, right. Okay, well..." He coughed uncomfortably, "Let's hope you don't splinch yourself."

Adrian winced visibly, "Can't possibly be worse than Bella's curses."

Bella wriggled her fingers sweetly.

"Probably not," Rowle admitted gruffly, "Hope you're persistent."

Adrian grasped the arm, looping his own thinner limb through it like a hook, "I'm not lazy."


Adrian splinched himself so badly, his right foot was left on the other side of the room.

Bellatrix had the gall to laugh.

Chapter Text

Rowle was a good teacher. He was calm, and didn't tire. It was convenient since Apparation was even harder for Adrian to perform than he anticipated.

Bellatrix didn't always watch, she often had other things to do. Rowle was given a special Portkey to the manor, and the privilege of freedom only in the main training room. On the rare occasions he saw another person, it was either Wormtail being chased by Nagini, or Rabastan delivering another shipment of illegal goods.

Rowle was professional in terms of never asking for information about his student.

Adrian almost suspected that the man doubted that he was the Dark Lord's Heir, until he saw Adrian deep in discussion with Nagini.

Lutain then terrified the man by moving across the floor faster than any curse, five feet of lethal intent.

"Got you!" Lutain crooned happily, displaying his fangs horrifyingly, "you are not so fast."

"That's because father would kill him if he cursed you," Adrian sighed, rubbing his eyes with his palm, "Leave him, he's my tutor."

"Shame he isn't as good as Nagini," Lutain sniffed, but retracted his imposing body obediently, "we are well matched."

Rowle swallowed nervously, blue eyes focused on Lutain's strikingly dark scales. "An impressive snake you have, young lord."

"Young lord?" Adrian quoted questioningly, blinking slowly as his familiar hissed laughingly, "That's a new one."

"Is it?" Rowle asked calmly, hands trembling as they clenched only air- not daring to draw his wand, "It baffles me others do not show you proper respect, my lord."

"Considering only you, and the Lestrange's know of my existence," Adrian stated boldly, drawing his wand and pointing it at Rowle innocently, "I don't have many to base my standards on."

Rowle nodded, not so much as blinking at the threat, "Then allow me to thank you for the generosity of your presence."

"You flatter me," Adrian drawled, lips pressed thinly together, "I know you're supposed to be teaching me how to apparate. I want you to teach me a spell, or a curse. One that will be more useful than popping birds or tripping aurors."

"Hatchling," Nagini scolded, peering over at Adrian disapprovingly, "You are to learn different magics."

"I won't be of any help without knowing any useful spells" Adrian hissed in response, "What point is learning Apparation when father already said he didn't think I could master it before the raid? I should at least know how to defend myself for a while."

"You have our bite," Nagini's tail thrashed loudly, thumping heavily on the floor, "That is all that is needed."

"But I should know something- just the incantation," Adrian bartered, "I'll practice it on my own. Just one day for the spell, then I can master it along with Apparation."

Nagini looked unconvinced, "You will practice with yourself?"

"And I won't get far behind. Let me surprise father."

Nagini grumbled and looked at Lutain who was obviously waiting for her decision.

"Okay," Nagini huffed, "But strong spell! Only for your safety!"

Adrian smiled, nodding to Rowle who looked remarkably well composed for having witnessed an entire conversation in parseltongue.

"She agrees, and you won't be disobeying my father," Adrian translated with a small smile, "I want you to teach me a spell. Something for combat, something strong."

Rowle's face spread into a vicious grin, his pale eyes lightened considerably, "Oh? Dealing some damage, are we?"

Adrian's face didn't flicker, "Something brutal." Something dark.

Rowle paused in consideration, chewing his bottom lip thoughtfully. "What do you know about the Dark Arts, Ki- my lord."

Adrian almost smiled. He wondered how Draco would look if he was forced to address Adrian as such.

"Dark magic is a mutating form of magic, always adapting and changing. It's not defined or restricted by limits of power, or expressions of emotion." Adrian recited properly with near textbook definition, "I want something which cannot be countered easily."

Rowle grunted an affirmative, "Tell you what. I'll show you two; one for large scale attacks and one for single targets."

Adrian nodded, watching as two training dummies were conjured- not nearly as well constructed as Bellatrix's usual creations.

"Abrumpo!" Rowle hoarsely grunted, slashing his wand in a diagonal shape. A shimmering red line blasted out of his wand, glinting like a blade. It slashed deeply into the dummy, spilling its cotton and straw stuffing onto the floor.

Without giving Adrian enough time to register, Rowle was already moving onto the next dummy.

"Ruptura," Rowle spoke, sending a thin stream of purple fire searing through the air like a long rope attached to an arrow. It singed, burning through the cloth of the dummy with a clean move.

"How is the second one able to affect multiple people at once?" Adrian spoke calmly, ignoring how the purple heat singed his own skin.

To demonstrate, Rowle twisted his wrist, severing his wand's connection to the fire as it continued through the air like a dangerous ribbon.

"It'll exist for several minutes after being cast," Rowle explained with the smallest flicker of a smile, "And will continue to feed off of your own magic unless you consciously sever it."

The fire burned, moving faintly in the air with the grace of kelp in water.

"Alright," Adrian exhaled through his nose, "Abrumpo and Ruptura. I can remember that."

Rowle's eyes shined with some sort of sadistic humor, as if he wasn't telling Adrian all of the relevant information.

"Good," He smiled, lips pulling back in an expression Adrian couldn't decipher, "Apparation then?"


Dinner was always an uncomfortable situation, mostly because it never extended to involving people beyond Adrian and his father.

The table was a long piece of wood, lacquered darkly and covered with silvery plates with various foods. They were fancy, high quality ingredients set in an aesthetically pleasing shape by the house elves.

"How are your studies?" His father asked casually, more out of obligation than actual interest.

"Decent," Adrian responded politely, pausing as he buttered a roll with a dull knife, "Rowle is an adequate teacher."

His father arched one eyebrow and looked at him with an almost lazy ruby glance, "Only adequate?"

Adrian gave a minor shrug, looking down at the bread in his hands.

"Don't shrug, it's unbecoming," his father scolded without looking up from his food, "I had assumed that his personality would prompt you to master the techniques faster."

"He's…" Adrian paused, thinking carefully, "He's bold. Impressive endurance."

Voldemort gave a low hum of thought, slicing his own portion of meat into bite sized cubes with elaborate silver utensils. "He's loyal. I noticed you asked Rowle for advanced spellwork."

Adrian paused, "Did Nagini..."

"No," Red eyes glimmered, "You forget your mind is as open to me as it is yourself."

It wasn't like he was hiding his curiosity. Adrian didn't want to be pinned down by Hogwarts curriculum spellwork and charms. With a resource like Rowle at his disposal, Adrian would be an idiot to not take advantage of it.

"Unfortunately, although Rowle performs spells acceptably, he lacks the required knowledge on theory itself." His father continued, plucking a ripe plum from a nearby plate. His knife split its skin effortlessly, sending darkly tinted juice over the metal.

"Magical theory?" Adrian paused tentatively, "Dark magic is a mutating form of magic, always adapting and changing. It's not defined or restricted by limits of power, or expressions of emotion."

What he said to Rowle suddenly sounded much less impressive when he was saying it to the Dark Lord.

"That book was created to address neutral magic and light magic," his father explained casually, "I recognize the phrase. Unfortunately misinterpretive for the content. Dark Magic feeds off of destructive emotions. Normally thought of as a loose term applicable to any spell whose intended effects are discomfort or death, it generally does not consider other emotional based magic."

Adrian paused thoughtfully, "Magic such as the Patronus charm then-"

"Is a derivative of dark magic which does not function in previously defined categories."

Adrian paused thoughtfully, "Dark magic is any magic which feeds off of emotional cues, and light magic is from intent itself?"

"There a considerable difference between 'intent' and outcome," Voldemort sighed, holding the sharpened knife with plum juice on the blade between two fingers, "If the intent behind one dark spell is lesser the damage will be reduced. If the intent behind a light spell is lesser, the spell will not perform."

With how Adrian's patronus could be conjured in the beginning depending on his level of emotion, it didn't fit in the category of light magic.

"Dark magic is considered dangerous," Voldemort continued with the smallest twist of amusement on his lips,"because our cores interpret strong emotions as pleasure."

"The more emotion required behind a spell, the nicer it feels?" Adrian simplified, staring transfixed at his father.

Voldemort sliced off another layer of the plum. It's juice was similar to blood dripping over his fingers. "Precisely."


Adrian shrugged on his cloak, pulling the hood up carefully just in case his father had late night visitors over. Adrian was not sure- although he knew that the residential wing and his training rooms were off limits to guests.

"Master?" Lutain asked groggily, eyes clearing as he awoke to Adrian's movements, "Where are you going?"

"To practice spells. Go back to sleep Lutain," Adrian hushed, pulling the covers back up to save whatever heat they still retained. Lutain grumbled something before drifting off into sleep once more.

Adrian smiled fondly at his familiar. It was still rather early in the morning. He'd have hours before Bellatrix or his father went looking for him.

He tiptoed out of his room, through the hallways carefully and down the stairs. He didn't encounter anything except one startled house elf, wearing a strange mixture of half a curtain and a woman's hairnet.

He opened the door to his training room, activating the illuminating and protective wards with the keyword. The door closed behind him, sealing the protective barrier in place until he or someone else opened the door once again.

Adrian shrugged off the cloak, pulling out his preferred wand and smiling at it fondly. "Avis!"

Birds exploded from his wand- the magic was simple and he barely felt it tug on his senses. He repeated it twice, watching confused cardinals and doves roost above him on the wooden rafter beams.

He then drew two of the hay bags in the corner over to the center of the room, taking time to transfigure them into something humanoid. They barely resembled anything human, although he wasn't picky.

For having attempted and getting decently along in an Animagus transformation, he was rather rubbish at transfiguration.

Adrian breathed out, smiling slightly at the silence of the room. There was something comforting about practicing spells alone without an audience.

His magic tingled, boiling under his skin ready to be summoned in the air with flames. He didn't want that this time, this time he wanted to perfect the spells Rowle had shown him.

He didn't know anything about them to be honest, he had not even heard of the incantation. Admittedly, it was possible that he had actually heard of the proper names, and forgotten about it from one of his many books.

He pointed his wand at the shoddy dummy, recalling the slashing curse he had seen. "Abrumpo!"

His wand fizzled, scrounging only the thinnest ripples of a spell. It traveled only a foot[1] before vanishing.

Adrian's entire hand felt numb, sparking with sensations entirely different than what Bellatrix had shown him. "Whoa," He breathed excitedly, feeling shivers twist down his spine and shake his body against his will.

He positioned his wand at the ready, focusing on his emotions which generally ran a bit stronger than others already. "Abrumpo!"

This time the spell worked, sliding through the air as thin as a razor, not the desired thickness of a sword's blade. It sliced through the thin canvas layer of the dummy, puckering and revealing the smallest hint of hay.

The tingles zapped up and through Adrian's body like an electric shock. He made a strange keening noise, his spine spasming against the most wonderful feeling...

"Abrumpo!" Adrian casted again, slashing faster through the air. "Abrumpo!"

Unlike the other spells, the sensation didn't vanish. It built and built slowly until all of his nerves were alive, popping and sizzling like the muggle candy he tasted once as a child.

His blood was electric, and it was one of the best things he had ever felt.

He gasped, stumbling upright- when had he been lying on the floor? The birds circling above were looking at him curiously, chirping happily.

The dummy was obliterated, shredded like a manticore's nest. How many times had he cast the spell to achieve that effect?

No wonder Rowle seemed so amused when he displayed the spells, he knew how amazing it was.

Adrian rolled, stumbling to his knees. His heart was pounding and adrenaline was causing his vision to blur.

"If only I knew this," Adrian almost giggled, "When I was against Potter."

What about the other spell? Adrian had a natural affinity for fire, if it worked better than what he knew now, he may have found a formidable spell for combat.

He pointed his wand at the other dummy, still resting on his knees.

"Ruptora." Adrian pointed, pausing as nothing happened. "Ruptura?"

He felt something flare, his magic surging as the proper pronunciation made the difference. Already it seared, drawing a breathless smile to Adrian's already worn out body. "Ruptura!"

His wand flared, sending a hot whip of fire flying like Lutain's strike.

It came much easier to Adrian than the cutting curse. It washed through his blood like hot water, prickling through his nerves almost unbearably. It snapped outwards much stronger and more viciously than he had ever experienced.

Adrian's blood burned.

Bellatrix found him after the sun had risen. She cautiously pressed on the door, feeling the wards unlock and allow her to swing the hinge open.

"Adrian?" Bellatrix peered inside curious, "Are you here?"

She paused, observing the room with the vaguest sense of confusion. The air itself crackled, like static before a lightning strike. Shreds of cloth were scattered around the ground as if a feral dog had torn into scarecrows. The acrid stench of burnt hair was pungent in the air.

Adrian was trembling in the middle of the room, eyes wide and dilated to the point of no green. His entire body spasmed, looking to Bellatrix like one of the strange diseases people were afflicted with after the Cruciatus.

Had someone cursed Adrian in the night? Why would someone sneak in and leave him alive? Let alone in one of the training rooms.

Unless it was his father who had done it, although that felt counterproductive. Which meant the only reasonable suspect was Rowle.

"Adrian?" Bellatrix asked, walking over hurriedly through the straw and feathers. Her shoes were sticking in something congealed on the floor.

"Bella?" Adrian asked, his voice hoarse as his head wobbled unsteadily on his neck, "What are you- what are you doing here?" His teeth were tinged pinkish.

"It's noon." Bellatrix stated bluntly, cocking her head like a particularly curious owl "Where's Rowle? I'll kill him. Please?"

Adrian blinked sluggishly, as if on high strength pain potions, "Rowle? What... what did he do?"

"Didn't he curse you?" Bellatrix asked, voice trailing off awkwardly, articulating her confusion accurately.

"No- he..." Adrians eyes lit up, his pupils shrunk so amazingly quickly Bellatrix felt alarmed. A second later, his eyes were nothing but bright venomous green, a pinprick where his pupils were.

a strangely disconcerting grin spread across Adrian's normally relatively composed face, "Look- look,"

He brandished his wand, pointing it upwards and prattled out a spell so fast Bella almost couldn't understand it. Birds exploded outwards, but before she could marvel at how many there were- he had crooned out another spell that caused her to stare in surprise.

"Raptura," He hissed out, voice almost slurred and lethargic. His eyes nearly rolled up into his head as his entire body jerked at the spell, a fine tremor that was distinguishable from his constant shaking. The bright fire ribbon blasted upwards and cauterized the wings off of two birds, evaporating the blood and setting the feathers ablaze in one swift motion.

"You know the Lavcorpus curse?" Bellatrix stumbled over the name in surprise, "That's..."

Adrian shivered, entire body twitching as every nerve in his body was set ablaze.

"I know," Adrian moaned in satisfaction, "It's wonderful."

'This is bad,' Bellatrix thought distantly to herself, somewhat alarmed and somewhat proud 'This is very bad.'


Adrian was still shaking- miniscule spasms wracking along his arms and legs. His skin itched and insects crawled under his flesh.

He walked, his cloak clasp digging into the sensitive skin of his throat. He couldn't bear to wear Lutain, even his familiar's pressuring coils made his body flair in pain.

He walked with the slightest limp, his hair hanging low on his face from his earlier exertion. His complexion was pale with his exhaustion, he was almost certain he had bags under his eyes as well.

It was embarrassing to walk to his father's study in such a state, knowing that his appearance would displease him.

"Are you sure you are not sick?" Lutain pestered once more, slithering slowly over the floor next to him, his bright yellow belly almost reflecting on the polished wood flooring.

"I'm fine, Lutain." Adrian muttered back, shaking and shivering, "I overdid it."

"Spells and spells," Lutain grumbled sourly, "you should just become the noble kind already."

"Animagus transformation isn't easy," Adrian sighed once again, wincing as his joints ached in pain, "After I get Apparation down."

"You always lose your legs," Lutain sighed wistfully, "Always the legs."

Adrian rolled his eyes but didn't deny it. He paused by the main door to the study, resting one hand on the wood before closing his eyes briefly.

He pushed the large door carefully, not sure of how heavy it was. The last thing he wanted was to slam it into the wall behind.

Adrian walked inside confidently, clasping his hands behind his back to hopefully hide the shake. The study was imposing, tall piles of books and elaborate bookshelves. Glowing stones and runes encircled the walls, strange objects hung from pegs nearest the door.

His father didn't look up, writing something attentively with a black fountain pen. Nagini did, her large head lifting from the corner of the desk where his father sat.

"Hatchling!" Nagini cried instantly, dropping her head to the floor with a mighty thud, "What did you do! You have a sickness!"

Adrian's father's head snapped up at the sound, red iris' widening slightly as he took in Adrian's appearance. His eyes stared at Adrian's face, seeing something new and surprising.

"Hello," Adrian spoke, clearing his throat uncomfortably from the hoarseness of it, "I- how may I be of assistance?"

His father stared for an uncomfortably long moment. Eventually he straightened his back, placing the black fountain pen down on his desk in its respective mount. He paused, tilting his head and looking at Adrian critically.

"You've ventured into more difficult spells," his father stated ambiguously, "Quite advanced, by the look of you."

Were they? In that case, it was entirely Rowle's fault. Which may have explained why he was so pleased with teaching him spells.

Advanced dark spells.

That load of dragon dung.

"I only wanted to impress you," Adrian spoke, his voice a slightly shaky murmur, "I wanted to be helpful."

"You would be helpful once you mastered Apparation."

Adrian shrunk back with a wince.

"Of course," Voldemort paused, tapping a finger to his lips thoughtfully, "This could be a solution to our current dilemma. Your appearance."

"I look like you?" Adrian spoke, his voice raising in pitch at the end so the fact in itself sounded like a question, "Are we going to establish a glamour? You said it would impede with my magic."

"It would," His father agreed, "Fortunately, the story you told the werewolf will work in our favour."

"Bellatrix?" Adrian tilted his head curiously, "how will Bellatrix change the way I look? You ah, you didn't explain before."

Voldemort smiled with the look of Nagini staring at a hopeless rabbit. Adrian swallowed thickly.

"She's going to nearly kill you," His father replied almost gleefully, folding his fingers delicately into the posture of a politician, "and you're going to have a horrible curse-scar."

Chapter Text

Remus Lupin was enjoying a cup of tea, listening to a headache inducing ramble as James and Sirius tried to explain to the group how they smuggled a live deer into Hogwarts as a cover for James' animagus form.

It was an elaborate story, one Remus regretted having been associated with. He had been indisposed at the time, and hadn't ever actually heard the story. He could only imagine Dumbledore's face when he realized it was a genuine wild deer.

"Oh James," Mrs. Weasley laughed, smacking him gently with a rolled newspaper, "I can hardly tell what's real and what isn't!"

"Yeah dad," Skylar laughed, a large grin lighting up his entire face, "Tell them about that time you took me flying and we found the flock of-"

"No no..." James quickly waved his hands, pointing at Lily, "That did not happen. Not at all."

Sirius leaned over and whispered loudly to the Weasleys, "I don't know this story, but It totally happened."

"Yeah mate," Ron laughed, clapping Skylar on the back of his shoulder, "What about the story with the dragon-"

Skylar clapped a hand over Ron's mouth quickly. He grinned sheepishly to the steadily worrying Lily Potter.

"Skylar," She warned, "What is this about a drago-"

The conversation was broken by a unique loud shriek. The group jolted in surprise at the noise, not recognizing the cry. Mrs. Weasley quickly rushed towards the kitchen window, peering out quickly to try and spot the culprit.

A bird appeared, at first she had mistaken it for a Snowy Owl. It scrambled, long talons clawing grooves in the windowsill as it struggled to perch on the tiny lip. Its wings flared, flapping heavily to keep it aloft and balanced.

"Oh dear," Mrs. Weasley stumbled, hurriedly unlatching the window so the poor thing didn't have to struggle any longer. Once the glass swung open, the bird jolted and dove inside hawkishly, glaring fixed around the room.

"A letter?" Lily asked rhetorically, reaching out to stroke the sleek feathers on the bird's head. It snapped its hooked beak angrily, much more temperamental than an owl.

"There shouldn't be a bird here," James grimaced, watching it carefully as he drew his wand slowly, "The wards…"

"No no," Remus interrupted, looking tired and uncertain, "I... I must apologize. I spelled her a tracer to always find me, despite wards."

"You know it, Moony?" Sirius asked with a frown, blinking curiously before a large wolfish grin spread over his face, "Oh, Is it that kind of person?"

James gave a low whistle, Sirius wiggling his eyebrows suggestively on cue.

Remus blushed, choking before he composed himself.

Remus sighed fondly, standing to let the bird inside, "I'm afraid not, although I didn't expect a letter to be honest-"

He uncurled the parchment, a growing sense of dread grew as he noticed the parchment wasn't folded or rolled as carefully as Adrian Selwyn would roll it.

"Who is it, Moony?" James asked, walking up behind to peek over curiously, "A secret admirer? Some seventh year missing their professor?"

"Leave the man alone, James." Lily scolded, "Go set the table if you're so full of energy."

Sirius winced, "Walked right into that one, mate."

James rolled his eyes but obliged, throwing a funny face at Skylar who mimicked it right back.

Remus smiled, unfolding the parchment to look for words.

Lupin

The handwriting was unmistakable, but had a distinctly shaky style that was uncharacteristic.

Lupin's smile fell and his face must have conveyed something because quickly the chatter lowered and all eyes were on him.

I know you're probably busy. I don't know if this letter will find you. She's looking for me and she's going to find me.

I don't know where to go, she's angry.

It didn't need to be signed, Remus knew exactly who it was from.

"Remus," James spoke, clapping one hand on the man's shoulder, "Everything okay?"

"No I..." Remus sighed, one hand rubbing into his eye socket much harsher than he probably should, "James, Sirius, can I talk with you outside?"

The two exchanged looks. They stood and slipped outside through the back door, not saying anything.

"Moony," Remus paused in the doorway. He glanced over his shoulder, seeing Skylar, who was awkwardly shifting in his seat, "Is there something I can do?"

Remus smiled softly, "No, everything's okay. We'll be inside in a second."

Skylar hesitated but nodded, looking for Ron and vanishing up the stairs to where the other boy had gone.

Remus exhaled through his nose, passing through the door to meet with his two friends waiting anxiously outside.

"Alright," James crossed his arms, looking serious, "what's wrong?"

"A student of mine- or a past student," Remus rubbed his arm uncomfortably, "He sent me a letter."

Sirius didn't take the opportunity for an innuendo, which showed how serious they were taking the situation.

"What's wrong with the kid?" Sirius asked, bouncing on his heels, "..Is it a... ah….a furry little problem?"

Remus flinched, "Merlin I hope not. I think he's in trouble."

James frowned and licked his lips worriedly.

"What kind of trouble, Moony?"

Remus exhaled through his nose, "I need you to track the bird. Her name is Hedwig. Her owner may be injured."

"A student of yours may be injured?" Sirius looked at James unsure, "Alright, on it, Moony."

Sirius turned to peer inside. The bird flared its wings and threw itself onto the open window. Sirius flinched as her long talons chipped off a piece of painted wood.

The bird snapped its beak angrily, looking fierce at the two aurors.

Sirius waved his wand, pointing it at the bird and recited an incantation. A blue mist surrounded her, sinking under her feathers and casting her in a near invisible glow.

"Alright girl," James shoed with his hands, "Go home. Go back to whoever, we'll follow."

"Follow?" Sirius asked with an eyebrow raised, "Not sure bout you, but Moony doesn't fly, mate."

"I'll apparate back and tell you where we are," James promised Remus, "Padfoot and I will follow her."

Remus gave a slight nod, looking worried, "Probably smarter, they may be watching me. If you find him...when, when you find him. You, ah, you won't miss him, don't approach him. Get me instantly."

Sirius barked a disbelieving laugh, "What, they'll curse at my pretty face?"

"Yes." Remus deadpanned, causing James to snort uncomfortably, although the auror looked very cautious.

"Sure know how to pick 'em, Moony. Alright, we'll let you know when we find him."

Remus nodded, looking worried and back at the house, "Should I..."

"Eh, tell Lil's that its Auror business." James advised, "She'll understand."

"Good luck." Remus added thoughtfully, looking at the annoyed and preening Hedwig, "You may need it."


"What do you mean exactly, by 'nearly killing' me?" Adrian asked carefully, voice betraying his worry.

His father crossed his arm, face stony and expressionless. His red eyes, shadowed by the dark hair made his entire face seem that much more sinister.

"Your face needs to be disguised, any glamour or warding would be too easily detected by Dumbledore, no matter how subtle." his father explained, drawing the pale white wand, resembling exposed bone, "A possible disguise is by altering your very own features with a deformity."

Adrian nodded, his throat clogging and hysteria bubbling under his skin.

"People tend to look away from disfigurement. It'll help aid your story, as well as keep others from wanting to look too close."

His father leant forward, still so very tall to loom over Adrian. He pressed his wand to Adrian's jaw, just under his chin.

"I'm going to have Bellatrix cast a spell," he spoke gently, red eyes shimmering with a higher intelligence Adrian only hoped to match one day, "which will disfigure your features and disguise you enough to cast doubt over our resemblance. The effects of a curse scar will correlate to your untimely….addiction."

Adrian flinched, but sustained eye contact as Voldemort lowered the wand from pressing into his skin.

Adrian completely understood it- he would have agreed to it without a doubt if it wasn't for the implications. It would hurt, certainly so; it would disguise him and cast him in a specific lighting which would be pivotal with his role in the new war.

Bellatrix though... he had witnessed her lapse in sanity all too closely in the last month. Her moments of staring emotionlessly at inanimate objects, hysterical fits or sudden bouts of rage at random stretches of walls.

She would be able to cast a curse strong enough to scar, no doubt in his mind. He doubted if she would be able to do so without leaving him with lasting damage.

"I don't want Bellatrix," Adrian blurted suddenly, his hands shaking at his side as he suddenly second guessed his outburst. Red eyes observed him coldly, "I... I want you to cast it, father."

Surprise flitted across for a brief second. An amused smile pressed on thin lips, "Me? You crave pain?"

"I..." Adrian swallowed against the lump and bowed his head with silent prayer to fate itself, "I know that the spell will be performed successfully."

"Is that so?"

His father's shoes were silent on the floor. How had Adrian never noticed that before.

A bony hand tilted his chin upwards, framing the identical cheekbones and the wide eyes.

"I find it a shame," his father paused, "to impair such potential. It's unfortunate that this is so necessary.

Adrian swallowed, his throat moving under his father's hand, "I trust you."

The wand was pressed under his chin, alongside his throat nearest his right ear. Adrian's breathing sped up.

"This will hurt," his father deadpanned.

That was his only warning.


The white falcon was fast; almost too fast for James and Sirius to chase. It was only through their years of Quidditch and occasional recreational matches were they able to follow her fast banks and sudden unexpected dives. Sirius was suspecting that the bird was doing it just to make their life so much harder.

The two had cast charms to disguise their bodies as they flew over muggle populated towns. Sirius's teeth chattered against the wind chill as they flew towards the more occupied areas of London.

"Ay!" Sirius shouted over the wind, swooping over to fly alongside James although he was careful to keep the gyrfalcon in his eye sights at all times, "who is this kid?"

James grimaced, although it may have been the wind pulling at his lips and cheeks, "No clue, Padfoot!" he shouted over the wind.

The bird seemed to notice the shouting and disapproved of it. She took them on two sudden corkscrews, pulling up at the last moment to avoid smashing into a house.

"Bloody hell..." Sirius swore, twisting to avoid being tangled in a muggle telephone wire, "this bird is mental!"

James nodded, watching as it gave a loud cry of aggression, flapping its wings strongly to ascend once more into the sky.

James pulled out his wand, shaking wobbly on his broom. He double checked the tracing charm, making sure that the tracking charm was still working. He had a feeling he'd be needing a way to follow it once the sun started to set.


Adrian woke with a spasm and an unbecoming whimper slipping past bloodied lips.

"Adrian?" A low calm voice asked.

Adrian tried to open his eyes, wincing as his brain finally began to decipher the signals his body was sending.

Every muscle hurt, they throbbed as if he had undergone a strenuous training exercise without any breaks. His heartbeat raced in his ears, the roar of blood just slightly louder than the irritating whistle that didn't seem ready to fade anytime soon.

"What..." Adrian coughed, instinctively curling and arching against the padding of his bed. His throat was on fire.

"Don't talk," idiot, went unsaid. His father trailed one hand over Adrian's face, tracing invisible patterns over his skin, "You entered a near seizure state. I detected no brain injury, however your body has suffered accordingly."

"Oh," Adrian croaked out, ignoring his father's advice completely. His hands and feet were in a near permanent state of tingling, as if they had fallen asleep, "Did it work?"

"It did," There was a pause, "You have sufficient disfiguration."

There was something admittedly sad in the way he said it. Voldemort hadn't wanted to actually do it, it was necessary. Adrian understood that. It was necessary.

"Good to hear," Adrian mumbled, the words sounding slurred together. He tilted his head, pressing his overheating cheek to the cold pillow, "Hedwig?"

"Already left hours ago with your letter. My wards alert me that she is returning to the predetermined location."

Adrian nodded ever so slightly against the pillow, barely conscious. "S'good."

There was a dip on his edge of the bed, just near his hip. A cold hand moved through his hair, pushing his bangs back to feel the skin of his forehead.

"You're warm," his father paused, "I've cast the countercurse for the spell. I can't administer any potions for the sake of our story."

"Bellatrix is a terrible mother," Adrian garbled into his pillow, his mouth twisting into an exhausted smile, "the worst."

"Oh absolutely," His father agreed with a sigh, "Although she has her uses."

Adrian made a unspecific sound of agreement.

He wasn't aware how much longer it was, but the next time he was completely lucid he was able to open his eyes.

The room was dark, illuminated by tasteful blue lights set in glass lamps. His bedroom was the same, although there was a suspicious lack of Lutain.

He moved, wincing as his entire body protested at the movement. Tears spilled from the corners of his eyes, over his cheeks which stung against the salt.

He moved his arm painstakingly slowly- blinking hurriedly to try and force his eyes to focus faster. It wasn't his imagination, feathery patterns of darker skin trailed down his arm towards his palm in an almost delicate pattern.

The door opened, throwing brighter white light into the dim room. Adrian winced and closed his eyes as it assaulted his senses and brought his migraine to the forefront of his mind.

"I was able to treat your muscle exhaustion, although it is only temporary," His father spoke, sliding into the seat set up next to his bed. His pale skin looked archaic in the blue lighting, "Such spells can easily be dismissed as your own instinctive magic."

Red eyes watched carefully as Adrian shakily lifted his hand to his face, feeling the smooth skin questioningly, "What does it..."

"Increased levels of energy always seek to return to the Earth," Voldemort started, red eyes looking violet as they were engulfed by the slit pupil, "The scars across your body resemble that of lightning strikes."

Adrian almost frowned, "Like my one…?"

Voldemort's lips twisted into the rare displays of genuine humour, "That may have been an inspiration."

"You're awful," Adrian breathed, wincing as the loud ringing returned to his ears, they felt wet, "Now, now what?"

Voldemort peered out of a window to see the darkened outdoors, "Now you will continue with the plan and appear in an area of Knockturn alley for the wolf to find you."

"Right," Adrian coughed, hating the way his entire body twitched, "And I'll see you at

the Quidditch World Cup?"

"We will communicate the finer details as the time grows near," Voldemort's eyes flickered southward, pointedly looking at a spot below Adrian's collarbone. The tattoo he had would be able to bypass most wards and spells.

"Alright," Adrian wheezed, "Lutain-"

"Will be taken care of and tended to by Nagini," Voldemort rose slowly, his dark cloak made it near impossible to distinguish him from the walls of the room, "You will be unconscious until you are revived."

Probably for the best considering how his left leg was growing more numb over the course of the conversation.

"Stupify."

Adrian's body slumped limp against the bed once again.


The bird flew and soared over the darkened Victorian architecture just outside the muggle entrance to Diagon Alley. They flew themselves, just alongside the wards of the alley to the point where the postal service gateway enabled the Gyrfalcon to swoop through.

"Well," James Potter grimaced, "He's in Diagon."

"Bad luck, mate," Sirius winced, peering around the sky above, "I'll get Moony!"

Sirius then casually stood on his broom, throwing his arms out for balance. With a twist and a startlingly loud snap!, the man vanished and left the broom hovering aimlessly in the air.

James sighed and snatched the broom, shrinking it and stashing it in his inner robe pocket.

James turned and flew down towards the courtyard just outside of the Leaky Cauldron which publicly allowed brooms and other modes of transportation into the alley. James had barely landed and stashed his own broom when two resonating snap! popped right in his ear.

"Merlin!" James jumped, not expecting Sirius to clamp one hand on his shoulder, "Warn a bloke!"

"Never," Sirius grinned, looking at the faintly smiling werewolf alongside him, "Anyways, the bird vanished in the postal corridor for birds."

Remus nodded, "Let's check Knockturn. Do you know the local floo channels or the stores hooked up to the floo network?"

James' jaw dropped, "Wait, why do we have to go right to Knockturn?" James hung his shoulders, "you know I can't go down there, mate."

Sirius grinned, "No worries, Prongs. Just search around Diagon then! We'll handle the search and rescue!"

Remus tried to smile, although he still looked ridiculously worried, "Actually, James. You may want to keep mediwitches on standby. Just in case."

Sirius's smile fell, "The kid may be injured?"

Remus didn't say anything, instead he pulled his brown worn cloak further over his shoulders and took off further down the road.

Sirius glanced at James unsure before he looked around for any visitors. Sirius jogged towards a small storage room, slipping inside before running out as a large shaggy black dog. He sniffed a few spots, giving a playful bark at James before taking off after Remus.

James Potter sighed, looking around the entry point with a growing sense of unease.


According to the plan, Adrian shouldn't have woken up until Remus had found him.

Like everything in his life, his plan went out the window when he felt sharp claws digging into his side and trying to pull him further into an alley.

Adrian's eyes flickered open, vision foggy although he could recognize that ratty feathers and orange claws normally meant something had gone wrong.

He fumbled for his wand, feeling his body protest to the movement. The creature squawked, claws digging in deeper.

"Harpy," He rasped out with a glare, focusing singing flames to lick the flammable wings through his migraine. It stung, hurting his face and his skin as it flared through his blood. He gagged, as if suffocating or breathing water.

Flames sparked, the harpy shrieked and released him and hopping away leaping from one foot to the next.

Adrian groaned, rubbing the back of his head which pulsed so angrily. He felt like his gums were bleeding, aching sore through his teeth all the way to his bones and skull. His side was bleeding sluggishly, the harpy's claws were effective in puncturing his skin near his shoulder.

Adrian struggled to grab his wand, it having rolled a few feet just out of his grasp. Once he held the wood in his grip, his worry faded slightly although it did nothing for how his head throbbed.

Black spots danced in his vision as he struggled to right himself, pressing his shoulder and cheek to the cold stone of the nearest building. He was getting something slimy against his skin, stinging and aggravating the injury his father had made.

"Why didn't you bite it Lu-" Adrian cut himself off, suddenly overwhelmed by the crushing sensation of loneliness.

"Right," Adrian breathed slowly, the alley was unsettlingly quiet, "You're not here."

The ominous sounds of Knockturn suddenly sounded much more intimidating.

"Okay," Adrian breathed, stepping away from the stone wall. He cut off a choking sound as his entire body burned.

Remus would be on his way soon, Adrian just had to find his way back to the stop he was at before the Harpy found him. And fend off the curious vampires that would almost certainly be attracted to the smell of blood.

"One step at a time," Adrian mumbled to himself, taking a limping stumbling step out towards the main openway of the alleyway.

He figured he must have looked terrible. The few people he saw walking past only glancing at him briefly before they hurried down the path to wherever they were trying to go.

Adrian kept his wand on him at all time, clutched tightly in his shaking grip. An emaciated dog ran up to him, growling lowly and sniffing him from a distance.

"Go away," Adrian grunted, his face already numb along the left side and his vision tinting badly, "Go away." He snapped at the dog.

It paused, then snarled and took a closer step.

Adrian closed his eyes with a sigh, clutching the pipe he was holding to remain stable on his feet.

Lutain would comment about how if he was a noble kind, he could scare the dog with a single hiss.

He was a noble kind.

Adrian's eyes flashed open and his lips curled back in a feral hiss.

He waited one second, not feeling the shifting of bones or flesh. He almost sighed at how he failed his Animagus transformation yet again, but some of it must have transferred properly. That or he just looked scary. The dog stiffened, eyes widening and its tail tucking between its legs. It made a loud yip before running off suddenly.

Adrian's eyes stung like he forgot to blink for the longest time.

"You lost?" A low croaking voice asked, a man with vibrant purple eyes and translucent skin, "What is someone like you doing-"

"Go away," Adrian clipped sourly, blinking to try and removing the itchy feeling, "I'm fine."

The man chuckled lowly, smiling to reveal two rows of teeth, and what looked to be a black tongue. "I don't think so..."

Adrian felt his magic prickle, surging beneath his skin but for some difficult reason, it was struggling to pull itself to the surface. Resilient and resisting, similar to the Fury only being singed.

He felt nauseous, like something was writhing in my stomach.

It reached out, it had an extra digit on its hand. If Adrian was thinking, or if he could through the pounding of his head, he could have named the exact species of the humanoid.

"Go away," Adrian warned, pointing his wand at the man, "Your last warning."

It didn't even blink, and Adrian hissed out the first curse that came to mind.

"Abrumpo!" Adrian hissed, gagging as the sudden surge of his magic at the movement.

Adrian slid to the ground, his legs too weak to support him. His eyes blurred, warmth and pleasant sparks illuminating his blood and permitting him to relax.

No, no he couldn't. It wasn't the time.

Yet, his blood sang and tickled, a contrasting feel against the stinging burn of his skin. His senses were flaring out in confusion, and he felt himself groan somewhere between bliss and agony.

Adrian panted, eyes barely able to focus as he saw the other creature collapse to the ground. It screamed inhuman angry shrieks as it fumbled across its chest to stop blue silvery blood from staining its clothing. He hit it then, good.

"Oh," Adrian slurred, smiling breathlessly as the euphoric sensations washed aside the pain of his skin, still leaving him twitching and spasming on the ground. "You're mermish."

The creature glugged angrily. Its bright eyes filled with fury, glazing through its savage blood loss. It reached out again, the extra digit on its hand suddenly made sense, it was a fin.

"You!" It gasped, its voice was wet and thick. "You- you-"

No, a mermish didn't make sense. Adrian blinked, barely aware he was talking out loud through the heavy feeling and the ringing in his ears, "A siren? Mermish don't eat humans."

It shrieked in anger, unhinging its second set of teeth to make a serrated cavern of hungry bone. It was kind of pretty.

A black dog slammed into the creature, knocking it to the ground where it had barely managed to rise. It glugged angrily, blood splashing onto the ground.

Had the dog from before come back?

Adrian finally was able to hear the other voices, the persistent horrified shouting that was growing closer.

Ah, no. It was a different dog, one that was big and shaggy and a startling shade of black.

Something popped in his ear, a bubble that had been blocking his hearing. The shouts suddenly made much more sense.

"Remus?" Adrian gasped, waving with one hand intently as the pleasant sensations of darker magic and the pain really dimmed his thinking. "Remus? You..."

Hands coddled Adrian, searching over him with feather light touches. Golden eyes were wide in unmistakable horror as they took in Adrian's face, focusing on something below his eyes.

"Adrian," Remus sighed, looking on the verge of tears, "I'm so sorry-"

"Oh," Adrian blinked sluggishly, seeing a circling white spec in the sky above. "Hedwig found you?"

Sirius Black appeared, looking around carefully with his wand drawn. He kept his back to the two, leaving some semblance of privacy.

"Moony," Sirius grunted, scanning the road and the corpse, "That him?"

Remus exhaled shakily, pushing back Adrian's hair to look over his face and exposed skin better, "Yes- yeah. James has a few already- lemme send him notice." Sirius sent his wand moving, the shimmering fog of an obvious patronus shot out and vanished before Adrian could tell what it was.

"Adrian, i'm going to pick you up," Remus soothingly stated, although his voice shook. Remus reached out, carefully sliding his arms around Adrian with the gentlest touch.

"Sirius, do you know any numbing charms?"

"Yeah, one sec." Sirius grunted, casting a complex movement with an incantation Adrian didn't hear. "There, give it a few seconds."

Adrian groaned quietly in relief the moment his nerves stopped burning. He could feel the strong arms around him, barely more than firm pressure. They were moving, leaving the alley.

"Sirius Black?" Adrian asked, eyes rolling in his head from the combined pain and his magical exhaustion. His voice was flat, slurred and monotone.

"When did... when did you get here..."

Sirius paused as he deciphered the lisping sentence, taking it in stride and not drawing attention to how horrid Adrian's speech was.

"Right before that vampire was going to take a snack," Sirius grunted, scanning the surroundings with practiced ease, "So, good timing on my part."

"Oh," Adrian spoke, wincing as his head pounded from the sudden flash of sunlight, "Not a vampire, mermish."

Remus laughed slightly, it wasn't his normal laugh. Anxious and nearing hysterical, an attempt to dispel his nervous tension.

"That was a brutal hex there, kid." Sirius noted distantly, moving in stride to walk next to Remus and nearest Adrian's head.

"What spell was that? Not diffindo, that's way above you, unless old Dumbledore is driving slave labor."

"Oh," Adrian slurred, head starting to hang limply as his neck relaxed from supporting him, "Bella taught me."

Sirius froze, and Remus stiffened. Remus swallowed, his heart loud as Sirius scrambled to catch up a few strides, already hissing under his breath.

"Bella? Bella? As in Bellatrix? Moony, what the f-"

Remus glared, causing Sirius' jaw to click and a vessel to pump near his temple.

"Moony- you, this..." Sirius' shoulders slumped as he exhaled furiously, "Wait, you knew?"

"Sirius, can we talk about this later?" Remus muttered lowly under his breath, eyeing the curious people who were starting to watch them, either from Sirius' obvious indignation or Adrian's limp body.

"Oh no, I've been in too many dead ends to just let this go."

"He's injured." Remus harshly whispered back, gesturing with his head to Adrian's limp body. Adrian's face was twitching, spasming under his eye and twisting his features into some more garish.

"Wait-" Sirius floundered, nearly choking on saliva. "You mean Bellatrix did that?"

Remus shot Sirius a stern look, "Later, there are too many people."

Sirius swore, shaking his head before looking at Adrian with a sympathetic sigh, "Sorry kid, can we stun you? You'll wake up at St. Mungo's-"

"Please," Adrian gargled, his face twisting into a smile that was unsettling and somehow twisted all in one. Sirius felt his heart pound firmly, nearly leaping through his chest. Adrian looked bored, obviously in pain but somehow looking disinterested as if the entire situation was something lackluster.

Adrian lifted his hand, stiffly and with obvious effort; he stared at the unique darkened marks that snaked around his arm and hand like a whip of snowflakes.

"How bad is it?"

Sirius nearly tripped, and suddenly felt like vomiting on the cobblestone under his feet. "You haven't... you haven't seen it?"

Remus shuddered, the movement of his arms twitching traveled through his body and into Adrian's.

"It's...It's distinct." Remus struggled, looking as if he'd rather bite his tongue.

"Looks bloody awful, that's what it is." Sirius muttered darkly, "No worries, we'll get this sorted out. See you soon, pup, Stupify."

Adrian collapsed limply and heavily the moment the spell touched him. Remus had anticipated the sudden casting, and adjusted his weight accordingly.

Now it was just those two, cradling an unconscious child who looked like he had gone through some sort of squid attack

Sirius pulled the hood of his cloak up self consciously; the magical creatures and humanoids of Knockturn seemed fixated on watching the group.

"This place is giving me the creeps," Sirius confessed, jumping to avoid a puddle of questionable origin as they hurried on.

Remus glanced up and most likely saw something he didn't like. He hunkered lower, his body looming and curling over the unconscious body in his arms.

Something gave a shrieking laugh. Sirius snapped his head up, hair on his neck rising as he readied for a fight. Instead, he just spotted something perched on a roof, swinging its legs and grinning impishly at the two. It laughed again, sounding stunted and thrilled at the sight.

A woman on the street looked at them curiously, approaching them to pass by with a purple shawl over her hair. She smiled politely, not even glancing at Adrian.

Remus swallowed and didn't make eye contact. Sirius nearly tripped as the woman's eyes bled violet and her exposed chin puckered and popped out two insectoid barbs.

"Afternoon," She tittered, and Sirius coughed something illegible and hurried faster down the street.

They had almost a mile of confusing alleys and anti-apparition wards before they could breach the barriers and apparate Adrian to St. Mungos.

It was going to be a long trek.


Adrian woke up slowly with his body uncomfortably numb.

The room was too bright, too white, and smelled of something sterile instead of aged parchment and rosewood.

His eyes focused slowly. His arms cooperated in inching his body into an upright sitting position, although it took a moment for his limbs to cooperate.

There was a mirror directly across from him; the white light and the white robes he was dressed in made his pale skin seem even more fragile. He looked washed out, almost translucent.

The lights also made the unique scar patterning across his skin stand out starkly in shades of angry red and magenta.

Adrian lifted one hand, moving it to his cheek.

As if written by his father in his spidery penmanship, delicate lines decorated the hollow of his cheek and along the pronounced bone ridge of his cheekbone.

It looked like feathers were branded to his skin, pressed and seared there. The longer he looked, the less they resembled feathers.

Snowflakes, something organized yet chaotic. A burning touch of winter frost from where the electricity incinerated his flesh and cauterized the wound.

"Oh," Adrian breathed, touching the scarring where his entire body was numb. He pressed harder, digging his clipped fingernails into the marks until one blister ruptured and oozed over his flesh. He didn't feel it, he didn't feel pain.

It had worked, the spell had worked.

He didn't resemble his father anymore, yet, he still did. It was hard to see, difficult to recognize through the distracting colours.

Adrian grinned wide enough his face felt foreign. He breathed hurriedly, loud and excited.

It had worked.

He was happy.


Please click Here  to be linked to my Tumblr where I post fanart of this story. Fanart is not chronological, and I use it mostly to help me determine the course of the plot. The contents of the link is simply a rough drawing I made of Adrian (side view) where I determined which type of disfigurement to use.

If you would like to see the damage or scars real people experience, please search Lichtenberg Figuresespecially in reference to epithelial scarring.

Please note, that I have taken extreme liberties to make the scarring and damage much more extensive than most people are afflicted with. That being said, the patterns and the scars were picked due to the natural treatment and side effects people experience. That, and it's very ironic.

 

Chapter Text

Adrian didn't understand why the Healers were so startled and wary of his answers.

They questioned him like he knew they would, and he responded according to the predetermined script he and his father had already created.

Yes, he had been living with his father. Yes, Bellatrix had shown up unexpectedly and kidnapped him so to speak.

With her lapse in sanity due to her imprisonment in Azkaban, the healers and mediwitches were being 'considerate' enough to not question him directly on the events leading up to the curse.

They had performed the counterspells, along with the nerve and muscle reconstruction spells. Unfortunately with the type of spells lightning curses were, and the act of cauterizing the skin itself, there was no chance to reverse the immense scarring; although they were able to lessen the angry red welts into more subtle red and purple scarring.

The scars altered the entire shape of his face- reducing the prominence of his cheekbones and casting the illusion of a more circular jaw. His green eyes popped eerily, more attention grabbing than his thin nose or familiar facial features.

It worked in all the best ways, and gave an excuse for why his body shook and trembled with the after effects of his dark magic splurging.

The Healers didn't like how he answered everything calmly and rationally. They didn't like how he didn't scream at night.

Then the mediwitch implied during one questioning, that perhaps Bellatrix had abused him in other ways.

Adrian had an outburst of anger, only partially fueled by the bone aching need that ran rampant in his blood. He had shouted, thrown his pillow and cursed vulgarities much more violently than a fourteen year old should have.

Remus, who was painfully awkward with children, made the entire thing slightly better by assisting Adrian with the first rehabilitation efforts once he awoke.

He was informed that both James Potter and Sirius Black visited him in the hospital, although Adrian sent them away instantly. They hadn't treated him well in his first year, they would be idiots to assume he didn't hold a grudge.

His nerves had been damaged severely- to the point the mediwitches doubted he would have complete control over his magic.

(Adrian mentally laughed and thanked his father for casting the curse himself, and not giving the task to Bellatrix)

Once the employees of St. Mungos were absolutely certain that he would be able to deal with any future rehabilitation efforts or medical procedures, he was signed for release.

He was discharged after four days, his wounds bandaged from where patches had blistered and were still interfering with his magical current.

From a lack of magical guardian, Adrian was taken care of by Remus who had used his title of Hogwarts Teacher as a temporary guardian.

Which, through a chain of events, led up to the single moment where Adrian was indulging himself by making up for his missed childhood.

Namely, by locking his door and refusing to come out.

"Adrian!" Remus shouted once again, the sound muffled by the weathered oak door, "Open this door! You haven't come out all day!"

Adrian rolled over on his bed, staring at the wall pensively. He stared at the cracks in the plaster until they blurred in his vision and created abstract pictures and faces.

Remus thumped once more- this one sounding significantly different. Adrian could well imagine the older man pressing his forehead to the door in a mixture of annoyance and exasperation.

"If you don't open this door," Remus paused in thought, "I'll ask James what to do."

Adrian snorted. Remus' sensitive hearing easily picked up the sound.

"Fine!" Remus argued back, scowling on the other side, "Maybe he'll bring Skylar!"

Adrian tensed. James Potter wouldn't.
He did.

Adrian heard the lighter feet of Skylar Potter running up the steps, running across the creaky wooden floor of Remus' shack of a house. If Adrian focused, he could hear the faint murmur of people talking down the hall in the main foyer.

Five fast knocks rattled Adrian's door, causing his teeth to itch and his hand twitch to pull his wand from under his pillow.

"Adrian!" Skylar Potter shouted, his voice had gotten deeper as well, "I... I know we're not friends but-"

Adrian couldn't help it, he laughed. It was a high pitched sound verging on hysteria, something completely acceptable for a boy tortured by a maniac.

"Friends?" Adrian echoed, barely aware of the hysterical tears that slipped from the corner of his eye, "Skylar Potter, I hate you."

Skylar paused on the other side of the door, then leant his entire weight against it. He slid to the ground, dark shadow from under the door slit.

"C'mon mate," Skylar's voice was lighter, "Come on out and we can floo Hermione..."

Adrian grabbed the nearest thing he could see- a porcelain mug Remus had offered him hot chocolate in. He let it fly, crashing and shattering against the door. It suitably scared Skylar, who jolted away from the wood.

The sound attracted someone else, heavy footsteps of an adult and a faster speed than Remus.

"Skylar?" James' voice was unmistakable, even through the wood, "You alright?"

"Fine dad." Skylar assured him, "Was being a bit rude, my bad."

James paused, obviously not sure and well experience with Adrian's snark, "You sure?"

"Fine," Skylar's voice was bright and Adrian could tell he was smiling, "I've got this."

How could Skylar Potter be so inherently good?

Adrian jolted to his feet, toes stinging pins and needles from his seated position for such a long time. He stalked across the wood, ignoring its obvious creaking to warn the others that he was nearing the door.

Adrian grasped the handle and flung it open, deactivating its privacy ward. Skylar fumbled forward, nearly getting hit by the fast moving doorknob.

"Why," Adrian nearly growled out, glaring at the backside of Skylar, "Don't you leave me alone?"

Skylar held his hands out and turned slowly, his mouth opened obviously in an awkward attempt to peacefully fix the situation.

Adrian was taller; he had to look down at Skylar.

Skylar met Adrian's eyes, then his eyes wandered.

They widened, his mouth dropped into a small shape of expressive horror.

Adrian's jaw twitched, and Skylar watched transfixed how it stretched the painful purple scaring over his cheekbone.

"What..." Skylar cleared his throat, not sure of how hoarse it had gotten, "What happened…."

Adrian smiled a wicked grin, it made his face look terrifyingly sick.

"You mean your dad, didn't tell you?" Adrian almost crooned, his expression sending the hairs on Skylar's neck standing upright, "This was a welcome home gift."

Skylar's face expanded into horror once again. Adrian found he rather liked the power that emotion gave him.

Then it switched to pity, and Adrian temper flared like the angry maw of a Chinese Fireball. His magic didn't react, but his fist did. It was painfully muggle, and he had no practice with melee combat to begin with; his knuckles cracked loudly and his thumb ground against his bone, threatening to snap. Skylar's jaw snapped to the side, but Adrian suspected he had done more damage to himself than to the Golden Boy.

Skylar gave a loud cry of pain, although it was mostly surprise. He fumbled to the ground, a jumble of gangly limbs he hadn't adjusted to yet.

Adrian fell with him, nursing his throbbing hand close to his face. Adrian noted the way Skylar paled when he saw the fine reddish blemishes continued down the back of his hand.

"Sweet Merlin," Skylar shuddered, hesitating before he cautiously pulled down on the neck of his shirt, stretching it beyond the point of return.

"I know it's not the same..." Skylar paused, tugging further to reveal the fine white scar directly over his heart, "but I have one too..."

Skylar thought that the tiny mark over his heart- a flesh wound, could dare compare to everything Adrian had endured?

Adrian saw red.

It was blur of movement and disorientation. Adrian couldn't hear- he couldn't see. He felt the stinging tingle of his scars itching, his magic boiling and tugging on the Keloid tissue in attempts to heal what could not be fixed.

Adrian's head snapped around when large hands and arms snagged him under his armpits, yanking him up off the ground and for a split second, he was entirely weightless.

Then he crashed to the ground, skidding across wooden floor as sensations returned quickly.

"-rian!"

Adrian blinked, stumbling backwards on his elbows as he clumsily tried to get to his feet- struggling at how his body stung.

"Adrian!" Remus tried again, relief spreading across his face briefly, "Thank Merlin; I don't know what happened but your curse scar activated..."

"What?" Adrian asked dumbly, looking past the werewolf where Skylar was sporting a large burn across the bridge of his nose and cheekbone, narrowly missing his eye. James was holding him securely, face stony with the professionalism of auror's having seen this before.

"A curse scar," Remus explained, lowering himself to kneel on one knee and soften his voice, "When very dark magic is used, often it leaves behind scars which can temporarily manifest similar magic to what was cast. Didn't the healers talk to you?"

James nodded stiffly, "Assuming your curse was the lightning curse, it was activated by whatever Skylar said or whatever you felt."

"Dad," Skylar urged, knocking aside James' wand with a small pout, "It was me. I showed him my own scar-"

"You what?" James gaped, "Skylar Charlus Potter, you know the risks of exposing curse scars to one another..."

"Are you alright?" Remus asked quietly, directing Adrian's attention away from the parental scolding Skylar was receiving, "We haven't had an incident with Skylar's scar, but it's possible it reacted to your own."

Adrian knew that wasn't the case.

"I'm fine," Adrian shrugged, curling his shoulders inwards as he locked his jaw, "I didn't like the way he looked at me."

"Unfortunately," Remus smiled dryly, the expression tugging on the disfiguration of his cheek, "People tend to stare."

Remus stood slowly, rising from his half kneeling position. He offered one hand to Adrian, weathered and calloused.

"Come along," He smiled gently, "We'll see what my kitchen has for food."

"I don't suppose you have house elves?" Adrian asked, accepting the hand and pulling himself to his feet, hunking slightly under James Potter's cautious look.

Remus chuckled lightheartedly, "None of that here. Anything we're eating we're making with our own hands- or paws." He winked playfully.

"Remus," James spoke cautiously, giving a pointed look at Adrian, "Is that really the best..."

"He knows, James." Remus sternly stated, "He's a rather intelligent boy, he figured it out on his own. A genius with magic creatures, it baffles me how he apparently performed so poorly when you taught."

"I didn't," Adrian interjected monotonously, "He just never liked me."

James flushed and had the decency to look embarrassed.

"It's true though!" Skylar defended, "Hermione says he's a textbook! And that came from Hermione!"

James Potter crossed his arms and shifted his weight, "Well, in that case, I owe you an apology, Mr. Selwyn."

Adrian tilted his chin slightly in a polite nod.

"Well then," Remus cleared the air, "Perhaps sandwiches for lunch?"


Remus was a decent cook, although there wasn't that much involved with creating simple sandwiches. Nonetheless, Skylar and his father gorged themselves on sliced meat and cheese layered between rye bread. Adrian's father hated rye.

He did notice large amounts of meat in Remus' food keeper, which amused him a great deal.

"Where's your snake?" Skylar blurted, holding the uneaten crusts in his hand, "The uh, the big one."

Adrian tensed and gently set his sandwich down on his plate. "I only have one snake, Potter."

"Hey, play nice." James frowned, pointing between the two, "He was just curious. I didn't know you had a pet."

"Oh..." Remus breathed softly, clinking his elbow on the table as he rubbed his eyes and forehead with his hand, "Oh, I am so sorry, Adrian."

Adrian looked at his fingers and tore the bread apart.

"What?" James paused, "What is it Moony?"

"Adrian is a rather gifted child in that he has a familiar," Remus' voice was strained.

Skylar jolted in surprise, "Isn't that rare? Isn't that like, impossible, dad?"

James blinked in alarm, and looked at Remus sternly, "Unless he's been tested..."

"James," Remus sounded tired.

Adrian didn't look up as the torn bits of bread were clumped into a ball and rendered inedible.

"Moony-" James struggled before he lowered his voice to a rushed hiss, "If he isn't tested then it can't be a confirmed familiar! They only occur after the age of..."

"Look at the exceptions!" Moony growled back, his voice deep and uncharacteristically fierce, "Look at all notable cases in which prepubescent familiar's have been recorded-"

"You can't assume that is applicable in this situation! Just because he was abused doesn't mean-"

"Abused?" A small confused voice asked, causing the table to become awfully quiet.

The unsettling wad of rye bread was now being molded into a flattened rock.

"That's not true, right dad?" Skylar asked in horror, turning and looking at James with some sort of longing, "Right dad? That's not true? Right?"

His voice broke, crackling awkwardly in sure sign of distress and teenage adolescence.

"Sky," James Potter sunk, realizing his guilt now at having said such a private thing in front of his son, "Sometimes bad things happen to good people-"

Adrian snorted, loudly. He stood forcefully, seething with an ugly scowl pulling the edges of his scars.

"Are you serious?" He growled slowly, hands curling into fists as something desperately raw tore inside him, "Are you bloody serious?"

"Adrian-" Remus started, sliding his chair back and standing slowly to not set the younger boy off.

"Oh Skylar, I am so sorry for the terrible burden you have as the Chosen One." Adrian's voice shook, "It must be simply horrid to have so many dark witches and wizards constantly almost killing you. And all that wretched fame and glory, it must be simply too much."

"Adrian," Remus tried again, trying to stop the tide of words.

Adrian didn't stop.

"Do you cry when Witch Weekly catches a photo of you with your shirt untucked? Do you have to sign autographs every time you wander freely in Diagon?"

Skylar was paling, his complexion turning nearly sickly and his eyes glassy. Adrian's throat burned and his breaths weren't satisfying his need for air.

"What a terrible weight you have to carry alone, you wouldn't wish something as awful as your life on anyone."

Adrian was spun by a warm hand between his shoulder blades. He didn't think, he reacted and ducked his face into the soft brown robes with a fraying edge and missing button.

He couldn't hear, he only gasped for breaths as his breathing hitched and his throat created the most unbecoming sounds.

"You should go," Remus spoke softly, his words vibrating through his chest and against Adrian's shaking form.

Adrian didn't look to see if they left, he only clung on and shook with the rising panic and anxiety of the situation.

What was happening? Generally Lutain was near or he would circle around with cold scales and reassure-

He struggled to find his occlumency barriers and drag them upwards, dispelling the dangerous riptide of his loathing into temperamental mist.

He was sitting on a couch, tucked under the thick warmth and weight of a woolen blanket, hand knit and beginning to unravel on certain stitches.

Remus appeared, balancing a vial of something soft blue and two steaming mugs of likely tea. Adrian didn't drink tea.

"Here..." Remus shuffled, placing one mug on a nearby table and balancing the other as he fished for the vial, "I have access to a supply of calming draughts- yours I mean. I have to regulate them since you're under aged and St. Mungo's is very strict with those rules."

"Right," Adrian blinked, dazed at how he had suddenly appeared on a couch of all places, "Calming draught." His stomach was still churning and threatening a reappearance of the sandwiches.

"I brought along tea as well," Remus offered, "And warmed cider, I wasn't sure which you would prefer."

Adrian fumbled with the stopper for the calming draught, picking at the seal with broken fingernails.

"Why?" He asked quietly, voice hoarse and rough, "Why are you being nice?"

"Why wouldn't I be?" Remus countered, stifling a sigh as he settled into a deep chair across the room, nursing his cup of tea with both hands.

"Why me? Why are you being nice to me of all people?"

"Well," Remus started calmly, "I see no difference between you, or your classmates, or even a stranger."

"I was raised by Bellatrix," Adrian stressed, the name sounded hollow. His hands trembled and he inhaled wetly, "I could have been raised to kill you."

Remus took a sip of his tea and nodded.

"I could have been raised to kill Potter." Adrian tried again, desperate in his attempt to scare the man.

"You could have been," Remus agreed, with the faintest glimmer of sympathy, "And if you were, I would give you freedom to live away from expectations or requirements. I would give you an opportunity to follow what you want to do, and not what you were raised to do."

"No," Adrian argued, his voice cracked entirely as the beginning gathering of tears formed, "You shouldn't- you shouldn't be nice to me then-"

"Adrian," Remus started, placing his mug aside so he could lean forward with his elbows on his knees, "You told me you were adopted, by Bellatrix."

He was, he had told him that. It was true...

"It wasn't your fault." He spoke softly, "That you were left there. That you were abandoned by your birth parents- it wasn't your fault."

Adrian's heart stopped.

"I don't know anything about them, and I don't want to even think about the unspeakable mistake they made," Remus continued, voice firm and somehow, his words shone like a lighthouse in the middle of a raging storm, "but Adrian, know that it wasn't your fault. There isn't anything wrong with you, it wasn't your fault."

"No." Adrian shook his head, why couldn't Remus see? He should- Adrian was dangerous, he shouldn't be- "No, no...no..."

"It wasn't your fault Adrian," He repeated carefully, "and I'll tell you that every day for however long it takes for you to realize that. You weren't abandoned because of who you are. It wasn't your fault."

Adrian shattered.

Chapter Text

The most excruciating problem with residing inside Lupin's small home, was the maddening prickling under his skin.

He itched and ached for his other wand, the phoenix feather and holly wand he had removed the ministry trace from years back; the wand he used to practice magic. He could almost see it, held carefully in a box hidden in his father's estate.

Instead he used his spare, the second wand he always took with him to Hogwarts and into public. It fit adequately, but tingled sourly in a way which only made his magic hurt so much worse.

How he burned to release and send curse after curse at the wall, to slash deep grooves and burns across the wooden boards until the entire house shook from his fury.

He wanted to do so so badly, it made him sick to his stomach and muscles clench against the burn of staying still.

Remus had panicked at the first instance where Adrian's temper had flared and soured the air so poignantly. He thrashed and screamed, clawing at his own arms to let the burning out.

The mediwizards assured the werewolf in soothing tones, that it was simply an aftereffect of the curse scar. Adrian wasn't as convinced, something about it drew on his weakness and urged him to burn the entire house down with fire. A curse scar wouldn't construct such desirable thoughts.

The worst part out of the situation, was that Remus wasn't leaving him alone like he had first assumed he would. The man would check in on Adrian constantly throughout the day, making sure that he took his potions or didn't skip a meal. It was treated and monitored in such a way Adrian prickled at the loss of his independence, Bellatrix or his father had never tread so carefully over him.

("Adrian, stop scratching."

"I'm not scratching."

"I can still see you-…")

He supposed it was until he relaxed and cooled down from whatever ailment made his body spasm and his magic twitch. It already was fading, the fits taking less time and singing more mutedly in his blood. Remus seemed to notice as well, his relief was very obvious.


The Potters and Sirius Black visited often.

Adrian prefered the heir to the Black fortune and riches, he was bold and annoyingly blunt but also seemed to understand Adrian's habits and personality better than Remus could. He cooled down the werewolf, explaining in simple terms his need to be alone.

Remus had explained in stressed and worried tones, his concern over Adrian's occasional fits. Sirius Black was on edge with the explanations, he never quite relaxed with Adrian after such admissions.

Black's terse and tense visits were much more preferable to the Potter's, who often brought along not only Skylar, but a troupe of Weasley's in an attempt to 'give the Selwyn bloke some decent friends for once.'

Somewhere across magical Britain, Draco was laughing himself to tears.

Adrian was invited to Skylar Potter's birthday party, yet given the more paranoid state the Potter's were now living in, it wasn't a very public event.

Adrian vehemently expressed how he would hate to intrude on such a welcome occasion, which naturally caused the embodiments of fate to laugh.

Potter's simply arranged for the party to take place at Remus' house.

Adrian wanted to clobber one of them.

Between the loud shrieks of Ronald Weasley, and the chaotic laughter of the two elder twins (Adrian could tolerate those two, they had made several investments in his services to obtain illegal potion ingredients), it was beginning to add to the headache pounding in his skull.

Skylar seemed bemused by the situation, offering without a thought to help Ronald remove the thick purplish goo from where it coated the back of his neck.

"It's nice to see them relaxing," Lily chimed contently to Mrs. Weasley. The elder woman nodded her head vigorously, "Oh yes! Simply wonderful, I do hope that Skylar dear enjoys himself."

James laughed heartily as the twins managed to land a temporary dung bomb on their new target, the elder brother Charlie who flailed backwards at the smell.

"Don't you want to play?" Remus asked curiously, peering at the small collection of gingers and Skylar, "I hear that they're going to be heading outside to fly for a bit."

Adrian scowled as he forcefully peered out of the nearest window to observe the sunny outdoors, "I don't like quidditch."

"What?" James gasped as if struck, "but... I had heard that you were good at flying…"

"Who in Merlin's name told you that rubbish?" Adrian snarled out, his neck prickling uncomfortably, "I don't like flying, I don't like quidditch, and I don't like you."

"Adrian dear," Mrs. Weasley floundered, gobsmacked by the aggressive display, "Certainly you don't mean that. I'm sure Ronald would love to show you how to fly…"

Adrian glared at her coldly, his lip curling in a way he knew made his face appear even more grotesque.

"Adrian." Remus barked, his voice stern and layered with something dissapointed, "That is no way to speak to elders or to behave,"

"Oh sorry, I haven't had manners ingrained into me," Adrian snappishly retorted, "I was busy learning other lessons of fine etiquette instead of how to talk to blood traitors."

He felt a surge of satisfaction, a sadistic sense of glee at his scathing remark. Lily flinched boldly, while Mrs. Weasley gasped obscurely.

"That's it," James' face darkened and his voice was clipped. He stood up imposingly, which would have had more effect if Adrian wasn't nearly his own height, "That is no way to talk to us."

Remus stood as well, at this point the small group of children had stopped laughing and were now watching fascinated.

"James…" Remus trailed off with a sigh, "You're being too harsh-"

"Harsh?" James echoed in disbelief, "Moony, you have no idea how to raise a child-"

"I'm not being raised, by anyone." Adrian hissed back sourly, "I don't need raising!"

"Then stop being an idiotic kid and smarten up!" James shouted back, face flushing angrily, "or Merlin forbid, I'll convince Moony to drop you right off at St. Mungo's for the rest of the holidays."

Adrian tensed and leant forward slightly, hunkering instantly to accommodate the phantom scales that should have risen to coil around his shoulders. He felt nothing, and with a flash of sorrow he flinched noticeably.

"Dad," Skylar complained boldly, crossing his arms with a frown, "He didn't mean it, he's been around Malfoy too much and he just slipped."

"Yeah-" The two twins chorused, "Everyone knows how that slimy ferret-"

"Is such a fan of us-"

"Why Gred, I do believe that he says the most beautiful names-"

"Oh Forge, I know, It's a marvel our little scaled friend-"

"Nothing mean by that, you're our favourite little slimy snake-"

"We say it in the nicest way-"

Adrian rubbed his eyes sharply and resisted the urge to draw his wand and start throwing curses.

Considering how often he talked and arranged deals with people, he truly didn't know how to socialize with people.

"We'll take him off your hands-" The twins started, one of them lazily throwing an arm around his shoulders.

Adrian opened his mouth to argue, but the Twins' involvement had apparently soothed James enough that the topic was dropped. The twins were a soft spot in the hearts of the pranksters.

"You do that," James nodded and paused consideringly, "Maybe talk to him about those seats."

'Seats?' Adrian wondered instantly, yet whatever it was, he had a bad feeling about it.


He was right. He didn't like the seats to the Quidditch World Cup at all.


Fred and George were the only tolerable ones in the entire house.

More often than not, Adrian woke up to the muffled noises of visitors in the home. Remus, having never been exposed to or used to children, was struggling in his attempts to 'raise Adrian'. He had overheard Sirius muttering about how Remus certainly picked a challenge for his first try.

Adrian tried not to feel smug about that.

He was labeled as the brooding type, which was fine as everyone seemed to give him distance. Well, as much distance as possible in the small home Remus could afford with his Hogwarts staff wages and other unknown income sources. In another life, Adrian may have offered to periodically cut Remus' hair and sell it to Knockturn Alley potion suppliers. Werewolf hair was never ever easy to come by.

Up close, Adrian was able to see another side to Skylar and the others, which contrasted and simultaneously fueled his assumptions in one go. Skylar wasn't a brat; he knew the brattish type after one glance at Draco. Skylar was overwhelmingly good, his morals and compassion so strong it struck Adrian like a physical blow.

He could throw boiling water at the boy, clobber him or spit threats for days on end. Somehow, the golden hero would smile and accept it and apologize because somehow he had upset Adrian, and that was certainly not polite of him.

It was infuriating and suffocating. Adrian wanted to fight a brat, he wanted to fight a selfish naive jerk, who would siffle and mewl under his curses.

Adrian knew that instead of that, Skylar would simply smile sadly and accept anything and everything he cast at him.

It was unfair. He wanted a challenge, he wanted a target that with one glance he knew that he was justified.

Adrian was vindictive, and Potter was so masochistically subdued it ruined all of his assurance.

Not only that, the other boy seemed to take in the burdens of everyone else without buckling under the strain. He offered the Weasley's a shoulder to cry on, he offered his best friend, Ron, someone to confide in.

Adrian had wandered through the rooms one night, a few days before they were to leave for the Quidditch World Cup. The adults were in the kitchen, discussing plans under silencing charms and steaming mugs of tea.

The twins had left with their older brothers (Adrian had formed a sort of peculiar bond with the one boy, Charlie. A mutual friendship over snarky puns involving Wyverns and Hungarian Horntails), leaving the house unsettlingly quiet.

The lack of Lutain's snark and softly scraping scales made everything seem that much lonelier.

Adrian knew that the Potters wouldn't abandon Skylar here all alone, no matter how important their discussion was. Which led to the unfortunate scene Adrian stumbled into.

Ronald Weasley, normally brash and hard headed, mewling and sobbing disgusting sounds onto the shoulder of Skylar. The latter of course had a sort of unwavering sympathy, patting the other boy's shoulder firmly yet somehow gentle.

"I can't..." Ron sobbed, entire body shaking as he trembled harder, "...Ginny."

Oh, right.

Ginny Weasley.

'Leave her in the Chamber' The words flashed through his mind with chilling coldness. His own tone so blank, it was unrecognizable.

'Let her starve to death.'

Adrian flinched so violently, his shoulder clipped the doorframe with a emphasized bang. The noise startled the two, alerting them of his presence.

"You!" Ron shouted, sniffling against the viscous snot in his nose, "You...you… you slimy git!"

"Ron," Skylar started, his voice sharp yet somehow understanding, "Ron leave it, he wasn't-"

"No!" Ron shouted, ignoring how the sound would likely carry into the kitchen, "He...He's a Slytherin, he was in on it, mate!"

Skylar looked torn, his brown eyes widening as he looked at Adrian in a silent plea.

"What happened to her?" Ron sobbed, on the verge of screaming in his grief, "What did you do to her?"

"I-" Adrian stumbled to make a noise, overwhelmed and in shock at the focused conviction. It was impossible the boy knew, he couldn't know.

"Ron!" Skylar shouted, one hand clapping the redhead's shoulder firmly, "Ron, mate, let him go. He wasn't part of it, mate. He's Mione's friend."

"Some friend!" Ron shrieked angrily, his face flushing horrendously, "Goes around making bloody bets, crawling to Malfoy and those other gits…"

"I make deals," Adrian countered sourly, sneering sharply in return, "A few that you've used if I remember right."

"No," Ron laughed ugly, "You just crawl from one bloke to the next, hoping you get a scrap from anyone."

Adrian recoiled in surprise, before it swiftly shifted to aggression.

"Excuse me?" Adrian hissed, almost shifting to parseltongue. Ron jutted his chin out, hands curling into fists.

"You heard me!" He barked harshly, "You're just a dog, crawling on your belly for everyone so you don't get blamed, you spineless coward…"

"Ron!" Skylar started, shoving the boy backwards and physically out of his accusatory trance, "Ron, mate, no. You don't know his life, it's different for him…"

"I do what I have to do to survive!" Adrian growled back, eyes glittering dangerously as his blood tingled for his other wand, to point and silence that mongrel, "You three have me to thank for everything."

"Right!" Ron laughed, trying to sound patronizing, "like Mione couldn't do any of that without you!"

Adrian opened his mouth to retort, he never had the opportunity to respond before the Weasley continued with his tirade.

"Hermione is smarter than you any day!" He continued, "So what if you got us potion ingredients? Mione would have found them herself! So what you found out that Chamber stuff, she would have found it anyways. You aren't important to us, you aren't needed, and you aren't our friend!"

"Alright that's it!" Skylar shouted, pushing Ron away so he was now across the room. Skylar outstretched his arms, holding them palm spread to form an imaginary barrier between the two boys, "Ron, Adrian's helped us out more than Mione could. Yes she's smart, but it would take her time to find that stuff, it helps to have another person looking!"

Skylar's voice was sharp, his face in a pointed expression yet somehow he still retained the gentle lilt to his tone. Ron opened his mouth to argue, and Skylar sighed, "C'mon mate, just because Slytherin wrecked your family doesn't mean the same didn't happen to him."

That jarred Adrian. Deeply.

"And you," Skylar turned, nodding to Adrian who still stood tense in the doorway, "I know we've gotten off on the wrong foot, but some of that's your fault too."

Adrian blinked, "Wha- my fault…"

"You haven't exactly made it easy," Skylar admitted, "although Hermione really is fond of you. You have moment's too, where you're a prat-"

Adrian flushed angrily and opened his mouth to argue.

"But," Skylar hurriedly added, "you're really not bad. Bloody good dueler and wicked at Care."

'What,' Adrian blinked, trying to think.

All semblances or traces of thought refused to form, dancing out of his grip like his occlumency barrier turned against him. He floundered, looking as shocked as Weasley.

"I think," Skylar started, his voice much more soft and gentle than he had used with either of them, "that Ginny would really have liked you."

'Leave her in the chamber.'

He flinched, viciously and in such a way his chest physically ached.

He missed Lutain so dearly.

Ron looked scrutinizing, his face pinching tightly, "Fred and George say you're not bad," Ron admitted sourly, "and she was closest with them."

'In the chamber?'

"Right," Skylar started brightly, "she loves..." Skylar faltered slightly as he corrected himself, "Loved, flying horses, the winged ones ya know? What were they, uh…"

Skylar trailed off awkwardly, glancing at Ron who looked as if he was somewhere caught between brooding and mourning, "Granian," He quietly confirmed, "drove Mum up the wall with how she wanted one out back."

Adrian stared, yet behind his open eyes he saw the excited expression of his father tugging and pulling him further down.

'In the chamber? All alone?'

"No," Adrian cleared his throat, from where it felt like it was closing on him, "Aethenon are the only species registered in Britain."

Ron seemed baffled, and in a few seconds his expression shifted through a scale of different emotions. Anger, sadness, satisfaction, curiosity, and caution. It settled on something neutral, bland yet with the smallest touches of acceptance, "Yeah, that one. Got Charlie to try and make a stable out back."

The idea that housing an Aethenon at the Weasley estate was even possible, was laughable. The creatures were huge, and required enormous amounts of fodder and grain just for daily life, not counting the exercise and expensive riding gear.

Somehow, the mental image of a little girl trying to persuade loving parents that they needed one was charming. Bittersweet in a hollow aching way.

Adrian had taken that, had taken her away from them.

'Leave her in the chamber to starve.'

Adrian had killed Ginny. He hadn't ever thought of it like that, so bluntly stated in his head. He knew that he had killed her, he left her to her demise.

The ramifications of his actions hadn't ever set in, they hadn't ever occurred to him. She had just been a first year, in the wrong place at the wrong time. She was a casualty in war; she held no more significance than a shirt Bellatrix had ruined during training. She had died, but it felt more to him that she had...expired; her use and her ability had ended, she was the shed Lutain left behind as he continued to grow.

He had never thought of her as someone with individual dreams and desires, an individual life that everyone would mourn and miss and remember.

She hadn't...she hadn't (or had she always been?) a person, in his eye. She was just an object, a possession of the wrong side…

He had left her behind, left her lying in a pool of water too weak to stand or speak.

He had turned his back on her and left her on the floor.

"I mean he didn't," Ron added on, now deep in the throes of nostalgia, "well, he did, but it was more of a shack. The Gnomes got in after a week, we used it as a quaffle post, see how far we could chuck gnomes in it."

Her hair had spread around her fallen form, outstretched like stringy wet rays of sunshine. Her complexion was far too pale, like spoiled milk.

"That's what that shed is?" Skylar asked intrigued, "I always thought it was for gardening,"

"Merlin no," Ron almost smiled, "Charlie was proving to mum he and Gin' could have a pet, although Charlie wanted a dragon…"

His father had been so happy, his expression thrilled and so lifelike Adrian could have felt cooled skin.

Adrian didn't even curse her, he left her to perish like a muggle.

"You okay there, mate?" Skylar asked, his smile faltering as he caught sight of Adrian's rapidly paling complexion, "You looking a bit peachy there…"

His father had laughed, he had smiled and crooned sweet words of praise and pride as he turned and walked over wet stone.

"Ron, go get-" Skylar started, his voice sounding muffled.

Adrian didn't notice.

Somewhere over the sounds of Tom Riddle laughing in his head, he had heard the desperate breathy sounds of Ginny sobbing.

He had walked away and left Ginny Weasley crying alone in the chamber, he had walked away.

Hadrianus Selwyn killed Ginny Weasley.

It suddenly didn't sound as alluring as it once had.

He teetered, and heard Skylar give a cry of alarm.

'Leave her in the Chamber.'

'All alone? In the Chamber?'

'Let her starve to death.'


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This poll addresses which 'side' you're on, as well as romantic pairing. This poll will only affect the ending of the story, but is still important. Please note, that the poll will be only open for a window of time.

 

Chapter Text

What horrified Adrian more in the last couple days wasn't how he fainted under the pretense of his 'Curse scar', or the fact that he had to share a tent with Twins, or even the fact that he was being dragged with the Potters to a Quidditch match.

It was that the box they were seated in, was also occupied by the Malfoy Family.

The entire Malfoy Family.

Under different circumstances, Adrian may have enjoyed how Draco's expression went through an alarming array of emotions in such a short time. It ended on gobsmacked confusion, alternating between cruel sneers directed at Adrian's company.

Remus was unsettled by the display, although he never steered Adrian away which would have only further escalated it.

"Potters," Draco's father spoke smoothly, eyes sharp as he observed the entire group, only pausing for a short while on Adrian, "How charitable to grant the Weasley's a place in such lavish decorum."

The Weasley's in question flushed, although civilly returned the jab with another clipped remark. Adrian didn't overly care to listen, nor was he interested in Draco's attempts to gain his attention. He stared blankly out of the enchanted glass.

He didn't like quidditch. He didn't like being there.

Adrian wanted to go home, he missed Lutain. He missed the strange system he had with his father...

He missed the unspoken environment that screamed mutual respect- he missed the independence and the freedom to cast spells or curses whenever he pleased. He missed knowing that any questions he had could be answered immediately, even the simplest inquiries answered with an exasperated sigh but a well instructed answer.

He missed all of it, he missed his father.

Adrian should be excited with the inevitable fruition of the plans, slowly growing closer and closer with every quidditch point scored.

His nerves twitched and sparked unsettlingly, twisting his stomach until he felt queasy. He knew what was going to happen, he knew and nobody else did.

But he missed Lutain, he missed Nagini. It was depressing to try and communicate with the mentally handicapped tattoo that only held the faintest impression of the giant snake.

As teams competed and the hours ticked on and on, he found himself contradicting his desires.

Adrian was anxious. As much as he missed his family and as dearly he wanted his companion once again, he was dearly dreading when the attack was to actually happen.

There was something comforting, about the role he had found for himself in the presence of the Werewolf. Something gentle and homely in a way nothing else was.

The sun descended, throwing long shadows on the ground. The sun glittered orange and illuminated torches as if they caged phoenixes. The stadium began to empty. The stands were a disorienting swirl of colour as hundreds of people began to leave for the Floo or Portkey stations. Others traveled still, moving to prepaid campsites where they would stay for the festivities.

The box Adrian was in rose, stretching cramped muscles and chatting excitedly about the stunts and skills they had just seen. The quidditch players had barely registered to Adrian, they were only points which marked the passage of time.

The sun had descended below the horizon, tainting the air with the fading glow of twilight.

"Adrian?" Remus asked gently, not prodding the younger boy, "We're leaving."

Adrian didn't want to get up and leave his chair. It meant that it was going to happen, it meant that it was really going to happen.

He distantly noticed that the Malfoy's had vanished from sight, was Draco's father already preparing for the raid?

How would he find Bellatrix, how would he not be targeted…

He flinched largely as something stretched and silently tore near the flesh of his left hip. It snaked upwards, chillingly cold as it caressed his bones and wormed its way to his throat.

"Are you okay?" Remus frowned, resting one large hand between Adrian's shoulder blades.

Adrian nodded, pulling his cloak closer to his body and under his chin.

They were all so oblivious…

"I'm fine," Adrian spoke, giving a small cough to try and disguise his shivering, "Just cold."

Remus smiled reassuringly, "It gets colder at night, I always underestimate it as well. Did you pack a warmer cloak?"

Small talk, they were making small talk.

"I did," Adrian smiled weakly, thankful that the sudden darkness disguised how shaky he felt, "It's in the tent."

They were making small talk.

(And they were all going to die.)

Adrian felt sick.

Remus opened his mouth to respond before his head jerked upwards peering in one direction frozen.

"Moony?" Sirius barked teasingly, his smile faltering when he noticed how intent Remus' expression was.

"What is it?" James asked, removing one arm from around his wife, "Moony, what-"

From the night rose a chaotic medley of screams. Beautiful in its synchronous movements, it spread outwards in a half circle around the perimeter of the campgrounds.

From the ground burst dragonfire, spreading molten wings and roaring soundlessly into the night sky.

"Fiendfyre!" James shouted, barely audible over the dark magic, "Run!"

Adrian's skin tingled as Nagini's phantom tongue lovingly flickered against the hollow of his throat, "Find us."

"Go!" Remus shouted, drawing his wand and ushering Adrian with the younger children towards the emergency Portkey stations.

"Stay with Lily!" He shouted, pointing with his wand directly at Adrian. Remus' eyes flickered golden, reflecting fire roaring in the sky.

Adrian nodded without seeing, sprinting after the crowd on autopilot.

He heard the screams and cries of people; women and men alike. Tents were on fire, spells of purple and yellow flung around the clearing, fending off the acrid green.

Adrian'd father always said his eyes looked so similar.

Another group of panicking family melded with Adrian's group. In the chaos of screaming and pushing bodies, Adrian ducked behind a tree. The bark pressed sharply through his thin cloak, leaving temporary indents against his skin.

Nagini twisted disgustingly on his chest, tugging against his body unnaturally. Lovingly she danced, grotesquely pulling and persuading nausea to rise.

Adrian pulled out his wand, thankful he had it on him at all times. He held it flat in his palm, staring at the wood blankly before he focused enough to think.

"Point me…" He trailed off uncertain. Would Lutain be possible to cast? He wasn't sure if the spell could find a snake.

He would find the next best thing.

"Point me Bellatrix Lestrange," He mumbled under his breath, half expecting the spell to not work.

It did, and pointed him towards the chaos.

He should have known.


Adrian hadn't ever seen a battlefield.

He had dueled with Bellatrix, he had fought off various malicious curses and spells. If he was ever struck, she would speak the counterspell or heal it afterwards.

He had never ever considered that those targeted wouldn't be as fortunate.

It was a childish thought in hindsight, a innocent mindset that crashed to the ground the moment he saw the first body.

It was slashed open, hip to hip, and from the gash silvery purple organs spilled out like a ruptured pastry.

Adrian had never seen organs before. He had never ever thought about what they would look like even as he himself learned the same spell.

They were darker than he expected, slimy like an eel yet shimmery like Nagini in the dark.

They stank something warm and putrid, foul enough for Adrian's stomach to clench.

The man's eyes were glassy and clouded, but not to the obscure degree he had always imagined.

He stepped over the body, not even feeling the bloodied grass as it caressed his ankles and left red trails in wake. He kept walking, past smoldering tents and remnants of a tree.

Something far off in the distance exploded with a spectacular bang.

He could see them swarming, the Death Eaters. They moved as a unified front, black cloaks melding with the night while bone white masks stared hauntingly into the dark. They were experienced duelers, moving and casting, soundless except incantations. Some moved so fast, Adrian didn't even see the movement.

He was closer, and that's where he drew to a stop. They moved past him silently, not seeing his body shrouded by the trees.

He did not see Bellatrix, instead his weakness was not of human eyes. He was found by the heat scenting eyes of a mighty snake many times his size.

"Cerestes?" Nagini crooned, slithering across the battle torn grass faster than he had expected she could, "Little one!"

"Nagini?" Adrian asked back, feeling foolish at once. Who else would be of her size and actively seeking him out?

"Yes!" She hissed happily, reaching his hiding place and coiling around his lower legs in an embrace, "I have wand for you."

"What?' Adrian blurted, feeling far too slow for the rapidity of the situation, "How could you have my wand…"

And Nagini spasmed, jerking and wheezing sickly to vomit a brown bag roughly the size of a rabbit. It was covered in bile and other bodily fluids, slick and flattened by her muscles.

"Wand," Nagini agreed pleasantly, "And human scales! Come! Lutain awaits!"

"Lutain?" Adrian echoed numbly, unfastening the slimy bag to reach into its expanded depth. He felt his wand, holly and phoenix feather. The one void of the Ministry Trace. Although it mattered not, not with all of the magic in the air.

"Yes!" Nagini excitedly informed him, "Over with the mad lady. Across the fire, hurry! He misses you so, hurry Cerestes!"

Adrian almost argued that he wasn't Cerestes.

His hands felt the chilling material, sewn to the lower hem of his cloak. He pulled it out carefully, trailing fingers over its clasp and silken lining. It felt very heavy in his hands.

He pulled it on, tugging it over his head.

'What am I doing?' he thought hazily to himself, lethargically pushing his brain to think.

Nagini turned, slumping to the ground in preparation to move.

"Nagini?" Adrian spoke mutedly, his head buzzing loudly as he traced the wood of his wand.

She turned her head and glanced at him questioningly.

"I missed you," Adrian confessed, feeling very much like a child.

"I missed you too," She crooned back, her voice lilting and alluring as her scales reflected firelight, "Come, Cerestes."

Adrian did, he walked out with her mighty girth near his shin. Her presence both soothed him and warped his perception. There was dangerous magic in the air, tingling and pressing on his skin lovingly.

"Master missed you too." Nagini mentioned casually, "He hunted prey alone and did not look happy."

"He missed me?" The idea tasted like honey, saccharine and sick. "Father missed me?"

"He did," Nagini confirmed, her body climbing over the fallen corpse of something Adrian couldn't remember, "He misses you.'

That sounded wonderful, it sounded perfect.

There was a voice to Adrian's left, something ugly and sharp which shattered the tranquility Adrian had surrounded himself in.

A flash of red shot over the ground, directly at Adrian's chest.

"Protego," Adrian cast, jerking the movements and blurting the incantation out of reflex. Nonetheless, he waved his arm just as how his Father had taught him. The spell held, deflecting the stunner without danger.

"Prey!" Nagini spat, sounding offended and infuriated at the same time.

Adrian shifted into his dueling stance, Nagini tensed at his heels.

The chaos Bellatrix had created and the smell of fire brought sudden clarity in a way nothing else had before.

The man fired another spell, not a stunner but something Adrian recognized as a body bind. He sidestepped, swinging his arm with the momentum to send his curse back.

It left his wand a violent lavender, cast perfectly without a hitch despite how long it had been.

The moment the spell was cast, [1] it did something. Adrian groaned, his legs collapsing as he crumpled onto the waiting form of Nagini.

"Little One," Nagini prompted patiently, "Rise,"

His entire body spasmed, breathing felt electrifying. His nerves and muscles tensed in preparation and in need.

'More more more'

"Abrumpo!" He hissed, nearly switching to his other tongue. The dark cutting curse sped into the dark, removing a portion of the man's cloak. The spell sent euphoria down his arm, pulsating as adrenaline pumped and made everything so much sharper. It was good he already was shaking on the ground- his legs would have collapsed from under him.

He sent it again, rising unsteadily to continue his dance. Nagini's tail twisted excitedly, watching with rapt attention.

"Abrumpo!" He sent again, slashing over and over through the night and darkness as his body hummed. His magic sang happily, pulsing in beat to his heart as it danced through the air.

Was this why Bellatrix laughed when dueling?

He would laugh as well.

The man tripped over something, collapsing on the ground as his eyes bugged out. He mouthed something, the words unheard behind the rushing of blood in Adrian's ears.

Adrian didn't think, he slashed his wand through the air once again. The word tumbled from his lips, foreign but oh so practiced.

It hit its mark.

Something warm splashed over Adrian's face, deflected by the spell on his hood yet soaking the fabric around his throat. Wet and hot, it spread downwards slowly in intrusive rivulets.

Adrian could hear again, he could see again.

The man was gurgling feebly, one hand clutching his chest where he…

"Why did you stop?" Nagini complained, slithering over curiously towards the man. He screamed, either in horror or pain. Maybe the man was screaming because of Nagini, or perhaps it was-

"I-" Adrian choked off, body shaking either from such a glorious bliss leaving him so soon, or due to the blood staining his clothing. "I didn't-"

The man's eyes were bulging, his hands were gasping against his torn and butchered chest.

"He is prey," Nagini simplified, "Prey are eaten."

The man gasped something wetly, it sounded faintly like a plea.

What had he done.

What had he done?

"You!" Someone shouted, racing over the battlefield in the distinct cloak and armor of the Ministry Aurors.

Adrian stumbled upwards, jerking a step backwards. Nagini hissed displeased at the interruption, flexing her muscles.

"He cannot stay," Nagini surmised, thinking clearly for Adrian since he struggled to remember how to speak.

Adrian stomach lurched, "Nagini don't-"

The giant snake lunged forward, fangs sinking into muscle and jugular with a sound of wet parchment tearing.

Adrian flinched. The man on the ground didn't plea anymore.

"No!" The auror shouted, flinging a stunner across the distance in anger, "Leave him alone!"

Adrian raised a shield on automatic, protecting Nagini. Her maw was coated in gore.

The auror threw another spell, Adrian blocked and sent a blindness curse in return. It sang and tingled in his blood, threatening to overwhelm him as his spells before. It tempted him to begin another frenzy of dark magic.

He restrained himself, turning to run only when he saw the auror scream and clutch his eyes in pain.

"Nagini!" Adrian hissed, prompting for the serpent to lead the way back to where Bellatrix had been.

He didn't dare look back, he couldn't afford to look back.

If he dared to, he couldn't pretend that he hadn't-

Adrian kept running.


"Master!" Lutain shouted, flinging himself off of Bellatrix's neck like a leaping dog.

The large snake made the distance, wrapping heavily around Adrian's forearm albeit clumsily.

"Master!" Lutain repeated with the same intensity, despite the reduced distance, "You're here!"

"Lutain!" Adrian responded with equal enthusiasm. He couldn't help the smile that spread across his face, leaving him breathless and thrilled, "I have so much to tell you!"

"I have much to tell you!" Lutain countered smugly, "Many sheds! One shed entire strip!"

"Well that's impressive," Adrian admitted in good humor, smiling shakily.

Lutain stared, cocking his head in interest, "You look sick."

"I'm not," Adrian assured, swallowing the lump down his throat, "You remember Remus? Well, he's pretty much promised us into the Order."

Lutain cocked his head the other way, interested, "Of the birds?"

"Phoenix," Adrian corrected, helping the long serpent coil around his throat and neck like an elaborate necktie, "and yes. Lutain, it worked. Everything worked, oh I've missed you so much."

"As I you, Master." Lutain flicked his tongue against the ridge of his knuckles, "I missed you much. Never leave again?"

"I won't," Adrian swore, eyes prickling and throat clogging, "Never again."

Chapter Text

"Are you alright?" Lutain inquired, flicking his tongue to scent Adrian's throat attentively for signs of sickness.

"I'm fine," Adrian responded promptly, lavishing in his ability to speak parseltongue.

Lutain seemed skeptical of his reply, although he did slither further down Adrian's chest to nestle above one hip.

His room was just how he remembered it, the strange collection of magical artifacts and creature claws and teeth. The various odds and ends barely related to one another, and made his room seem chaotic and discomforting for anyone who would visit.

Well, Bella visited and she didn't seem too bothered by it all, although that wasn't saying much.

"You don't seem fine," Lutain noted, staring at him contently from his spot on Adrian's abdomen.

Adrian smiled wistfully, and gently stroked the smooth scales of his friend.

"It's hard to explain," Adrian confessed quietly, pausing in his rhythmic strokes.

"Is it the wolf?" Lutain asked interested, tail tip twitching slightly. He scented the air twice, his long tongue nearly tickling Adrian's chin.

"It is," Adrian confessed almost embarrassed, "It was...It was strange living with him. For a while at least."

Lutain huffed, the movement flexing his muscles and causing him to puff up slightly, "I should have bit before."

"No no," Adrian smiled affectionately, trying not to laugh at his friend, "Nothing like that. It was different, not bad. It was like how I imagine a normal family is."

"Oh," Lutain deflated, looking guarded yet somehow very exposed, "Nagini told me, of her hatching. It was cold and lonely, and she was separated and stored in boxes and fed sparingly."

Adrian blinked in surprise, he hadn't expected such a revelation from his friend.

"I had hatching outside," Lutain added, his tone dismissive yet still hesitant, "In den with eggs and rocks."

Adrian glanced to his side, peering out of the window that showed nothing in the darkness of night. Despite that, he found comfort in knowing he would see the familiar grounds he had missed so dearly.

"Prey was hard to find," Lutain continued, knowing that Adrian would always be listening, "Birds and always hunted by bigger threat. Then humans came, they came and they took." Lutain's tail thrashed in his discomfort, an unsettling whistle through his nostrils.

"Is that how you ended up in that zoo?"

"Yes," Lutain scented the air, turning to look at Adrian in the eyes, "That was before. That was life of normal."

Adrian smiled, tracing one finger along the crease of his familiar's jawbone.

"Normal was suffering," Lutain quietly added, entire body tensing slowly throughout his speech.

"Life now is much better than normal," Lutain finished, butting his snout forwards to burrow into Adrian's shirt close to his neck, "So happy that life now is not normal."

Oh, and suddenly it made so much more sense.

Lutain felt heavy, an unsettling weight that compressed Adrian's chest just so.

"Yeah," Adrian spoke, almost choking on the sounds, "I wouldn't want a normal life either."

Liar.


The floorboards were dark wood, scuffed with time yet still polished and stank of vanity.

Of all the differences between the two households, Adrian didn't think that it would be the floorboards that truly let it sink in.

"Are you not hungry?" Nagini inquired, peering up lazily from where she coiled near the heated rock in the kitchen.

Adrian blinked, startled out of his thoughts.

"I wonder the same myself," languished elegant hisses, accented only slightly in such a way they sounded more regal than Nagini's own tone. Distinctly male, his father's voice.

"I just-" Adrian swallowed the lump down his throat, twisting the fork in his grip and refusing to meet his father's eyes, "I'm still acclimating."

Nagini made a noise of agreement, "Never eat after new place."

The information was so serpentine yet spoken so solemnly, Adrian couldn't help but smile.

"That is true, my dear," his father responded, the slightest lilt to his words to show that he too was amused, "However, he is a human."

Nagini flicked her tongue blandly, "Would Cerestes like a rabbit?"

Adrian smiled and shifted his fruit slice around the plate once more with his fork, "No thank you, Nagini. I am sure you could hunt a dozen rabbits for all of us."

She chortled happily at the praise and set her head down to rest on her coils.

"And where is your friend?" Adrian's father spoke in English.

Adrian paused and slowly looked up, briefly catching ruby eyes before he focused just beyond his father's ear.

"Lutain didn't sleep well last night," Adrian admitted calmly, "I let him rest in my room."

His father hummed wordlessly, folding his hands in front of his chest.

"That creature always prefers to spend time in your room,"

Adrian's heart fluttered at the thought of his familiar spending every night he was gone sleeping in his bed.

"I heard from Nagini that he missed me," Adrian confessed, lips twitching slightly into a small smile.

"Master did as well," Nagini grumbled from her spot on the floor, "He will deny but it is true."

"Hush you," Adrian's father retorted although only with affection in his hisses, "You've been spending too much time with the brat. Developing some cheek."

"It is nice to have you home," Nagini nearly purred, flicking her tongue towards the table.

"It is." Adrian's father confessed after a brief pause.

All doubts ebbed away, leaving a comfortable warmth that left Adrian questioning why he had ever felt so insecure about his place by his father's side.

"At the Quidditch World Cup…" Adrian started, trailing off as he wasn't truly sure what the question was that he was asking.

His father seemed to understand, and didn't mind the open ending.

"The raid was successful, not only did the Ministry suffer heavy losses, but we cemented a key position in our plans."

Adrian peered to the side and met ruby iris' questioningly, "And you, father?"

His father rolled his eyes in a surprisingly human display. His wrist twitched, flicking imaginary dust through the air and away from him.

"I did not appear, as such my return has not been announced. This was a...a desperate plea, as the paper's are naming it."

His father's lip curled in a disgusted grimace. Adrian gave a burst of laughter, then felt a quick wave of horror at how blatant he had been.

His father met his eyes and arched one eyebrow calmly, "You seem in brighter spirits."

Adrian quickly dropped his eyes and shifted uncomfortably, "A-as do you, father."

His father frowned slightly, the corner of his mouth tilting downwards. He folded his hands, resting his forearms on the wood of the table.

"My magic has settled," His father spoke, words smooth like honey.

"Wh-" Adrian started to blurt, before he swallowed his questions and waited.

He peered at Adrian calmly with a sense of tranquility he had never displayed before, "Among other things. In your absence, many things have...become apparent."

Adrian didn't understand what he meant, even though it seemed like some sort of great admission.

"That's good." Adrian lamely stated, unsure of how to proceed.

"I see you yourself have as well," his father's eyes glittered with something Adrian was hesitant to call amusement.

What did he mean by his magic settling-

Adrian inhaled as the previous magical sensations he had been experiencing suddenly made much more sense.

"You wanted me to have a new tutor, so I would have that problem?" Adrian spoke aloud, foggy and not quite understanding the rationale behind.

"Dark Magic addiction is necessary for all practitioners of the dark arts," His father began without any sense of remorse, not that Adrian expected any.

"It is always worst at the start, harder to control with more effects and ramifications. As your magical core is still developing, having undergone and surpassed it will enable a higher level of tolerance for almost all spellwork you will encounter."

Adrian blinked, feeling slightly more welcome to ask questions with how…(dare he say it) nice the atmosphere was.

"You yourself experienced it then, Father?"

Voldemort tilted his head forward in a slight nod, "Correct. My Sixth Year when I attended Hogwarts."

"When you opened the Chamber." Adrian found himself speaking before he could stop himself.

"Correct," His father's eyes were glittering darkly like a multi-faceted garnet, "How does Adalonda fair?"

"Well, I mean she's well," Adrian stumbled over his words, yet he found himself smiling in memory of the great creature.

"She's, uh, very interesting, pleased to be awake." Adrian lamely finished, yet not feeling as uncomfortable as he once had.

"Excellent to hear," His father nodded slowly, dismissive although his eyes were fixed on Adrian with a deeply considering look. "I believe you said you intended to learn the Animagus transformation."

Adrian jolted slightly from where he sat, blinking quickly as he tried to manage anything beyond nodding stupidly.

His father tilted his head sideways slightly, "Then I grant you complete use of Wormtail, for undetermined time or until you see fit."

Adrian paused, "...Father?"

"Attempt it." Voldemort curtly added, once more his expression was impossible to read.

"I always felt the effort of such a transformation could be better spent on…" his father glanced behind Adrian, towards Nagini with something unspoken, "better things."

"Thank you." Adrian nodded, nearly choking on the words. He felt a slight pang against the dismissive treatment of the Animagus transformation, or how it was brushed aside for something more important.

Animagus transformation was important to him, and although he knew that, something shriveled painfully with how skeptical his father felt over it.

"Hogwarts- I mean, I have to return to school soon."

"You do," Voldemort agreed, tapping the lower edge of his jaw thoughtfully, "Perhaps you could take Wormtail along with you. I doubt you would manage to even decently progress in the time remaining."

That hurt, yet Adrian pushed through, "To Hogwarts? Where would…"

"The Chamber is beyond the boundaries of the school wards. As such, he will be undetected by wards or sight."

It wasn't a bad idea, although the Chamber was a rather horrid place to live, with the mold and dripping water.

Then again, it was only Wormtail.

"It would be perfect," Adrian breathed, nodding quickly, "Brilliant actually, is he-"

His father dismissively flicked his hand, "He is aware. Also, the first step for transformation is to place a mandrake leaf within your mouth for a month."

How...had his father already researched the transformation? Had he actually investigated it as an option at some point in the past?

That...that made his doubt so much more sharp and horrid in his throat.

Adrian swallowed harshly and his heart plummeted, "A.. a month?"

Adrian shouldn't have been surprised when his father casually summoned a small leaf, similar to a fresh tea leaf. The look in his eye was devious as he drew his wand and levitated it down the table, leaving it twirling just in front of Adrian's face.

It filled him with a sense of dread, as if he was facing a jar of noxious fumes.

"Obviously, I am aware of a spell to adhere it without interruption for the duration of the ritual."

Adrian exhaled slowly through his nose, "Yes father, thank you."

"Everything will taste of rosemary, of course."

Adrian's shoulders slumped, and he slid downwards in his seat with visible gloom. "I hate Rosemary."

His father smirked viciously, "I know."


Daphne Greengrass sat in her room, tapping her quill against her lips as she once more scanned the roll of parchment she had opened and closed over and over.

It was a small thing, creased and fraying on the corners. Scratched handwriting she had carefully crossed out to replace with more refined penmanship.

She was a Greengrass, and as such she had the rightful duty to observe and evaluate all of her possible suitors, regardless of her age.

She was young, she knew that still. Yet, she'd rather have all the information in regards to her options, before coming to a hasty conclusion.

She wanted to know the dirty secrets, the serkets in the closets of her options. And if not for her, then to scrape out and hold leverage against anyone who could possibly hurt-

"Daphne?"

She smiled, lowering her quill to peer over her shoulder at her younger sister, exhausted and curious.

"Hello, Aster." She greeted happily, a small smile curling on her lips.

Astoria scowled something small, running one thin hand through her darker hair as she stumbled over to Daphne's desk, squinting at the parchment with a frown.

"That again?" She huffed, looking disgruntled yet slightly amused by the sight, "The bachelor list?"

Daphne rolled her eyes in good nature, "You'd be amazed at how pathetic your options are."

Astoria scowled, "You mean your options. I'm fine on my own."

Daphne smiled thinly, then genuinely as Astoria whined in frustration.

"Fine," She scoffed, leaning heavily on her older sister as she squinted at the names. Then she frowned, face relaxing and pinching in confusion, "Daphne, who is this one?"

Daphne didn't need to look to know which name she was pointing at- the name she had scribbled convoluted theories and facts over and over again.

"Selwyn?" Daphne asked dryly, already feeling the start of a headache, "The most insufferable male in all of Slytherin's house."

Astoria almost looked awed at how aggravated Daphne was, "Why?"

The gates were opened with such a quiet innocent question.

"He's so…" Daphne's face twisted ugly, "He's unbearable. He's arrogant, conceited, reclusive and narcissistic and and...and so...impossible!"

Astoria's face twitched slightly into a sly grin, "Sounds like someone has thought of this a lot-"

"He's the one who sent Bulstrode on fire," She snapped out sharply, voice nearing a growl.

Astoria's face paled and she smile fell quickly from her mouth, "...oh, he's the one?"

Daphne scowled and rubbed at her temple with an ugly sound, "He's slipped accidental information constantly- but it keeps contradicting itself."

Astoria frowned, "Want me to look?"

"No." Daphne snapped, her jaw nearly grinding together, "You're not going near him-"

"You don't know how to slip inside his head," Astoria protested with a pout.

"You're barely adept." Daphne snapped back, "I'm nearly positive he's an occlumens."

Astoria paused, "Why would he need to learn that?"

"So people like you don't go poking around with your grubby fingers." Daphne scoffed, snatching her quill to brush the fluffy tip in her sister's face.

The question still hung in the air, stifling and heavy between them.

Why would someone need to know Occlumancy? Especially at that age?

"What do you know about him?" Astoria asked softly, reaching out with thin fingers to twist and play with Daphne's hair, "What's his blood status? His family?"

Daphne breathed through her nose, "I don't know."

Astoria's fingers stilled a few seconds, "that's unlike you."

"It's true," Daphne admitted sour, "He's adopted, and he's not a Pureblood, or at least he was adopted by some house who has no pride or no name."

"Are you sure? Or is he hiding his name?" Astoria asked curiously, beginning the movements of a french braid, "I haven't heard of a Selwyn."

"Adopted by a not Pureblood family, he doesn't care for his name."

Astoria hummed, working her hands carefully over and over, "Are you sure? Maybe that's the reason you haven't heard of it."

Daphne shook her head, nearly dislodging her sister's fingers, "No Pureblood family would dare adopt something impure into the family!"

Astoria sniffed, "Maybe he wasn't adopted?"

Daphne worried her lip, "No, there was a boggart, in my second year. It...There was resemblance. I met him on the train platform, it was the same man."

"Let me see?" Astoria asked quietly, tapping Daphne's head just behind her ear.

Daphne smiled, and turned, locking silvery eyes with her sister, who tilted her head ever so slightly.

A second passed, then two and Astoria looked just as confused as before.

"I don't understand," Astoria blinked wide eyed and oh so innocent, "He's adopted? Through a blood ritual?"

Daphne gave a curt nod, "He let it slip he had a brother- but from which family? From before? After?"

Astoria blinked wide eyed and cynically aware, "You've been talking to Suzie Forestar."

Daphne whacked Astoria's arm, "Stay out of her head."

Astoria shrugged but didn't look regretful, "I wondered what you were doing, you wouldn't talk to me at school."

Daphne didn't feel bad, and Astoria didn't look that upset.

"I don't understand," Astoria confessed, trailing her brown hair between thin bony fingers, "He...this...Selwyn, he's adopted? And mentioned he has a brother?"

"Yes, it's why he's so confusing." Daphne admitted.

Astoria blinked, "I don't see why you're thinking that his birth family is dead?"

Daphne paused, and her jaw dropped slightly with a small gasp.

She snatched her quill, and began to write.


The train ride back was uneventful, and swift.

The Great Hall, was exactly opposite of such.

Once seated and the newest first years sorted, a great chaotic influx of people appeared through dazzling displays of intimidation and grace.

Triwizard Tournament, Adrian was amazed that Remus didn't warn him ahead of time of such a spectacle.

(Then again, perhaps he would have if he stayed.)

Adrian almost forgot that he had been 'kidnapped' and taken to the side. Only after the two new schools had thoroughly mingled did Adrian remember.

Skylar in particular looked gobsmacked, catching eyes with him across the distance of the Great Hall. Skylar nudged Hermione sharply, drawing her attention and pointing.

She gasped silently, eyes widening as she conveyed the largest sense of guilt possible through her gaze.

Remus maybe mourned, or assumed the worst.

Once the students were dismissed and people began to file out, Adrian hurried through the halls to try and escape any sort of scene created by the golden trio.

Unfortunately, he hadn't considered Draco wanting a word, especially considering the last time he had seen the blonde.

Adrian scrambled down a corridor, taking sharp turns and fearfully hoping he would be far enough away from the main masses before he was so vocally questioned. He heard shoes racing after him, feet slapping on the floor loudly and Hermione's wordless cries to hurry.

Adrian ran one hand through his hair and spun. He could see the sunset through a nearby large stained glass window.

He shifted his weight, standing solid as he waited in preparation for the three. If he was going to be attacked, best that he determine the setting.

The golden trio spun around the corner, flushed and panting with how hurried they were to keep pace. That surprised Adrian, hadn't Skylar received any extensive training? At all?

"Adrian!" Skylar gasped out, wheezing although looking more composed than the other two," You're alive, mate!"

Adrian stared, he hadn't expected the confrontation to begin like that. "Brilliant deduction."

Ron flushed red and opened his mouth to argue, only for Hermione to jump forward and throw her arms around him.

"We thought you were gone!" She gasped in relief, "Or worse!"

"Remus was in rough shape, mate." Skylar looked miserable, worrying his lower lip anxiously, "We searched those fields for days after."

No, you didn't.

"Yeah, nothing there but rubble." Ron nodded attentively, "How are you alive!"

Adrian twitched as Hermione clutched him tighter, "Adrian Selwyn! Never do that to us again!" She threatened, pulling away only to whack her hand on his upper bicep viciously, "Thinking that those... those-"

"Death Eaters," Skylar helpfully provided.

"Death Eaters!" Hermione parroted, jumping back into her furious rant, "-got you! Thinking that Bellatrix Lestrange got you! She was there you know! We heard reports from the aurors, Sirius says himself that he saw her there!"

Adrian scowled, glaring at Skylar who went so far to place one arm on his unoccupied shoulder.

"I know," Adrian grit out sourly, hands spasming into a fist "She was looking for me."

There was a sudden pause at his bold declaration.

"Blimey mate," Ron muttered confused and amazed, "I think my mother's looney but that Lestrange really takes the cake. Must be awful, her being your mum and all."

Adrian's cheek twitched, "I got Lutain back. I'm fine. Can I go now?"

Skylar looked as if he had been smacked, "the familiar? You got that snake back?"

"Are you though?" Hermione gushed worriedly, ignoring the bit that Skylar was stuck on. "Fine?"

Adrian scowled sourly, "Yes, now I have to go."

He pushed past, not looking back even as Hermione called after him. Adrian knew that they would contact Remus, who would likely send him an owl. All Adrian truly wanted was to go back to the common room, get Wormtail out of his trunk and head down to greet Adalonda once more.

He slipped down the staircases heading towards the dungeons, his footsteps echoing through the hallways. There was something empowering about the way his heels clicked against the stone. Echoing, resounding against and off the walls.

He entered the main room, heading towards his room determinedly.

"Adrian!" Theo called from the couches, "Draco was just in, he said he wanted to talk to you-"

Adrian ignored him and opened his door, shrugging off his outer cloak to through on the nearest chair. He wasn't in the mood to talk, he just wanted to get the filthy rat...

"Lutain-" Adrian cut off sharply, swallowing his words before anything else spilled out.

Well, Theo had warned him.

Draco shifted how he sat, posed carefully with his chin tilted ever so slightly. He looked more regal, poised as he perched on the edge of Theo's bed, directly across from Adrian in the doorway.

"Adrian," Draco greeted coldly, his face blank yet just slightly shimmering with anger, "Or should I call you Adrian Lestrange?"

Adrian paused, blinking, and letting the curse slip from his lips crudely, "Bollocks."

Chapter Text

There was a new professor at Hogwarts that was both an enigma and an absolute horror for Adrian.

His name was Professor Moody, or Mad-Eye-Moody as most of the Slytherin's were murmuring unsurely to one another. An experienced Auror, a dark wizard catcher, a lunatic. Apparently a high percentage of wizards and witches imprisoned in Azkaban were due to the one man alone.

Moody unnerved Adrian scarily so, especially with the Ex-Auror's blatant disregard for school rules and punishments.

Professor Moody displayed the three Unforgivable Curses with terrifying ease.

Adrian hadn't ever attempted the curses; they were the darkest spells he knew. He didn't even know the incantations for them (well, he hadn't before.)

Dark Magic addiction would be overwhelming, it would have left him immobile and writhing against it.

Yet this teacher didn't even flinch, he didn't even grin.

That was a horrible sign if there was one.


Draco had been...different.

Very different.

Admittedly, it was Adrian's fault that he had slipped away too obviously. Word had spread as rumor tended to.

Granted, Adrian had thought that the rumors with Bellatrix would have lasted a bit longer, that the secret would have remained hidden for a bit longer in time.

For the Order and for word to so carelessly fall into the hands of children, well, obviously there was a spy within his Father's ranks, or within the Order.

(Not only that, but the spy fell for something as simple as irrelevant information, Adrian was almost disappointed.)

Draco was angry, a seething fury that was restrained by fear and the knowledge that Adrian very likely could (and would) attack him.

Draco believed that Adrian would send him to the Hospital Wing unrecognizable, Adrian knew that he could.

(Would he? No, not when more things were at stake. Not when he was being watched by so many eyes.)

Draco found a way to combat this new threat, in the standard Malfoy name. His name carried weight in a way Adrian hadn't truly realized before.

The influence and power of Draco's standings, and his new ignorance policy he implemented towards Adrian absolutely demolished Adrian's dealings.

Hopefully when the tournament began, the selected champions would need assistance or some sort of help with spells. The galleon's he had saved were quickly running low, scraping the bottom of the cauldron as he recklessly purchased useless quills or new potions for Lutain's scales without halt.

For now, he was withholding his spending and hoping for some sort of demand of his services.

Until then, and until the weather plummeted to even colder outside, Adrian was perfectly content to spend his time outside with Lutain sitting along the lake. The giant squid was enough company as it was.


Adrian skipped the announcement for the Hogwarts Champion and the Champions of the other schools. It wasn't yet too late for a walk, too many people and too many eyes on him still unnerved him.

Not to mention the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons students tended to stare at Adrian. They would stop, or take a double glance to follow him as he walked across the courtyards. Sometimes he was lucky to be out of hearing range before they started whispering,

('What's wrong with him?'

'Why is he alone?'

'Hah! Look at how disgusting!'

'Don't look, Mari, he'll see you-')

Adrian wasn't quite used to his reflection yet either.


"Adrian!"

The boy in question spun on his heels, jolting at the noise. His change in movement nearly threw Lutain from his shoulders.

"Remus?" Adrian blinked in surprise, overwhelmed when he was suddenly taken into the man's arms and hugged quite fiercely.

He was fortunately outside near Hagrid's hut, far enough nobody saw the man embrace him.

"Oh thank Merlin," Remus exhaled, clutching the younger boy close, "Skylar sent an owl saying that you were alright; I-I couldn't come until today you see, sneaking in with the family group for the champions."

"What…" Adrian blinked, struggling to understand what was going on, "What do you…"

Lutain took that moment to hiss, the sound was muffled from under the clothing but the thrashing couldn't be disguised. Remus loosened his arms, relaxing them from where they had constricted to a twinging pain. His torso shook slightly, a hitch in his breath as if he was sick.

"Oh!" Remus pulled back, peering down quizzically before his expression changed to beaming, "Ah! Your familiar! Are you alright, little one?"

He addressed Lutain directly. something which baffled the snake.

"Yes?" Lutain hissed curiously in response, almost expecting the werewolf to speak back.

Remus didn't, and instead smiled far too overjoyed for Adrian to comprehend. What on Earth made him so happy?

"May we talk?" Remus asked politely, his expression shifting into something serious, although the light never did fade from his eyes. The two walked towards the forest, taking a small path around the hut into the woods where a small lake rested shrouded by trees.

"I would generally never take a student into these woods, although we both know we're well versed with magical creatures."

Remus' slightly sarcastic drawl caused Adrian to smile faintly without his knowledge. He reached out his hand to brush against the thick bark of the ancient trees, "That's true."

Remus smiled, taking a seat on a large boulder just shy of the small lake's lapping edges.

Adrian wondered mutedly if the werewolf was at all aware that this was the same lake he had threatened to crash through the last year, scrabbling at the frozen edge and howling into the night.

Lutain bit James Potter that day, and Adrian nearly killed him.

Adrian flinched.

"So," Remus began, looking hesitant yet curious and worried, "I as well as a few others want to know all of what happened in your absence."

"A few others?" Adrian asked with a frown, crossing his arms sourly and in a defensive posture.

Remus smiled, looking at Adrian fondly as he shook his head in good nature.

"The headmaster," Remus admitted, fingers twitching and tracing imaginary patterns on the boulder, "He was intending to talk to you directly, but ah, since you two haven't been introduced Albus thought you may feel...intimidated."

That clarified a few questions Adrian had.

"Intimidated," Adrian repeated, quietly under his breath with a scoff. Remus heard, and he turned away quickly to hide his affectionate smile at how annoyed Adrian sounded.

"Alright," Adrian settled carefully. He shifted, moving to sit on the nearest rock. Lutain uncoiled, sliding down to peer and spot minnows swimming in the shallow water.

"What happened? At the World Cup." Remus asked quietly, his good mood evaporating and leaving the air brittle and cold.

Adrian stared out over the water of the secluded lake, he could almost imagine the snow, the broken ice and the shrieking- "James! Help me!"

He blinked, and saw water once more. "I was separated. Bellatrix had Lutain with her, so I couldn't do much else but agree to go with her."

Remus for his credit didn't say anything.

Adrian ducked his head, plucking at a small stone nestled in a groove of his boulder, "So we went home, and then I came here."

Remus leant forward, resting his chin on his knee with a frown. "Did she curse you?"

"No," Adrian denied with almost a smile, "She...she was mad, before. Azkaban changed her, it was easy to distract her."

Remus flinched at that and shook his head, "I'm so sorry- I should have tried harder. I'm so sorry that…"

"Don't be, I have Lutain again." Adrian glanced at his friend, smiling as the snake snapped and tried to catch a fish. It was fruitless, and instead left his friend playing in the shallows, warmed by the sun.

"I... I was told, to ask if you had…" Remus paused and tried to summon his words. He wrinkled his nose, looking annoyed or offended by whatever he had been tasked to ask Adrian.

It wasn't that hard to guess.

"If I overheard anything, about the attack. About why she did it or…" Adrian's eyes darkened, "About You-Know-Who?"

Remus looked pained, and furious with himself. "Albus' request, of course, I think it's shite."

Adrian blinked in surprise and confusion, "I...pardon?"

Remus rolled his eyes, still looking agitated but somehow undeniably happy, "You're here. I don't care how in Merlin's name you're alright, but I'm so, so thankful that you're alright."

Remus paused, before reaching out and gently taking Adrian's arm, clutching his hand between his two palms as if it was chalice holding an antidote to a poison.

"I am so glad you're alright," Remus spoke, voice hoarse and pinched yet his eyes were wide and undeniably honest.

Adrian swallowed the lump in his throat, and struggled to speak words, "I- Bella. She didn't say anything about it, or- or about He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named."

Remus didn't care, and instead shook his head gently.

"This is my fault…"

"No, It isn't. It wasn't awful either, besides," Adrian's eyes were faintly sharp, "Don't you have Potter to worry over?"

"I have plenty of time to worry about Skylar. Allow me to worry over you right now. How are classes? Not too difficult?"

Adrian looked taken aback once more, "No, er, not yet. I'm part of the Advanced Care Classes."

"I've heard, Hagrid speaks all about you. Are you aiming for a career with magical creatures?"

Adrian paused thoughtfully, feeling almost suspicious with Remus' curiosity. "Maybe. I never considered far into the future."

Remus smiled, his teeth were white but his canine teeth were slightly pronounced. "I heard that Charlie Weasley is visiting soon, he's a keeper over in Romania at a Dragon Reserve. I'm positive the boy would love to talk with you, it's not every day someone can hold their own against him."

Lutain snapped loudly and struggled. His body flailed, coiled half hazardously around a silvery body, struggling to hold on.

"Blasted worm!" Lutain cursed around the slimy fish scales in his jaws.

Remus laughed, watching the display fondly, "I see why you care so much for him. He is quite the character, I never truly understood the desire for a snake. I've been missing out."

Remus' eyes were twinkling and alight with something gentle and kind, warm and sweet like melted honey.

"You can owl me for anything you need, Adrian. I'll make it up to you."

Adrian blinked slowly and watched Lutain flounder and get coated in the dark brown mud of the shore.

"I know, I just...I do things on my own." Adrian paused, trying to elaborate but struggling with the words.

"Ah, I know how you feel." Remus smiled slightly, something nostalgic and yet so terribly pained, "We all have our own burdens to carry."

Adrian felt the press of Nagini beneath his skin.

Some burdens weighed a bit too much for even him to carry.


(Remus told him that he visited with James and Lily, sneaking in along with Sirius under some sort of loophole in Ministry regulations. He was there for the family visitation for the Champions.

Skylar was the Champion.

Remus' visit suddenly confused Adrian more than anything in his life- why would the Werewolf spend his visitation with Adrian? And not Skylar?

Nothing was making sense anymore.)


Hedwig returned to Hogwarts when Lupin visited. He had a paper with her, an official inquiry from the Headmaster although it was null and voice now he had talked to Lupin.

Hedwig cooed and clicked her beak happily, hopping from perch to perch within the owlery. He stashed bits of bacon from his breakfast; he fed her pieces between pets along her feathers.

"What a pretty bird," A chiming voice complimented, the owner of which skipped into the owlry smoothly.

Adrian turned, encountering a girl who looked achingly familiar.

"She's well trained," The stranger smiled, eyes such a light colour they looked almost blind, "you care for your animals a lot, don't you?"

Adrian paused, "I'm sorry, have we met before?"

"We have," She hummed, and then moved to a large grey owl that looked somewhat in a dazed state.

Adrian waited, and she didn't care to actually introduce or elaborate.

"My name is Adrian Selwyn," he introduced, offering his hand graciously for her knuckles. She obliged, skipping over and placing her knuckles in his grasp.

"How polite," She beamed, the expression somewhat disconcerting with her vacant eyes, "You're different from the rumors."

"And what do the rumors say?"

"Oh all sort of nasty things." she hummed, shaking her head and rattling her broken quill earrings. It was a miracle they didn't scratch the delicate skin of her neck.

She twirled away once again, silver and blue scarf slapping him across his cheeks.

"They say that you deal all sorts of illegal things. They say you poisoned people, that you were born from a Banshee and you drink blood at midnight." She giggled over the words, as if it was something hilarious.

"You seem to be alright with me," Adrian slowly added, watching her movements as she pulled out a strange piece of meat- was that a mouse's head? She tossed it to the grey owl, smiling as it snatched it greedily.

"Of course I am, they call me crazy too." She blinked wide eyed and gave a sparklingly large smile, "Would you like to feed thestrals with me?"

Adrian opened his jaw, closed it, then opened it again.

"You know," Adrian struggled to think, "I have had a strange week. I would love to."

"Great," She tilted her head dizzily, "They don't like turnips though, at least I don't think they do."

"What's your name?" Adrian asked curiously, finding this strange girl much more amusing than the others who always looked at him afraid or disgusted.

"Luna Lovegood, although people call me Looney."

"People think I drink blood," Adrian mused out loud, offering one hand politely. Luna beamed, grabbing his hand and skipping towards the door that led outside. She moved far too fast for walking, so Adrian was forced to stumble after nearly running.

"I like you," She grinned, sunlight catching her hair and making her entire complexion seem ethereal, "Although you don't look like an Adrian to me. Maybe a Demitri, or a Harold."

Adrian smiled a bit pinched, "You look like a Maria then."

She giggled knowingly, "No I don't, but thank you. I can't wait to tell my father I've made a friend. He's the author of the Quibbler, you know."

A friend?

Luna stopped him at the bottom of the owlry, pointing out how a small wildflower meant that Doxies were in the area. Adrian thought there was absolutely no truth to this, but she only smiled and kept chatting about things that either was irrelevant or too relevant for her to know.

("Not a Harold, maybe a Harrison? No, not that either, or at least you look like you outgrew it. Maybe you should be named Cedric like the Hogwart's Champion. I'd help you change your name you know."

"I'm happy with my name, Luna."

"You are? Ah, I must have been thinking about Blibbersnouts again then.")

The thestrals were hidden far into the forest, yet Luna did not falter once in her steps. She ran and jumped, twirled over dangerous dips or hidden roots ready to trip her. She was graceful in a hazardous way, yet still managed to clumsily stumble over her own feet and drop into a bush.

She laughed, pointing up through the reaching branches to the sunlight and described the green as the colour of a newborn Morscarbury pup. Adrian had never heard of something like that.

The thestrals were found, a large herd that no doubt pulled the carriages every year.

"Hello!" Luna chimed, reaching out towards the largest one and running her fingers over the bony protrusions of its spine, "I brought a friend with me! I hope you don't mind."

The thestrals turned their milky eyes on him and wheezed a rattling breath.

"Hello," Adrian waved to them, finding the surreal silence of their movements somehow calming.

A foal (were they called foals?) stumbled up to him, legs shaking under the exertion of running over. Adrian reached down to pet it, only to stop when one thestral chuffed loudly in protest. He froze, waiting for the strange child to butt its head against his palm.

"They don't mind you," Luna chimed up, staring at him without blinking, "But they aren't unsure. You've done things, and they don't like it."

"Pardon?"

"They think it's sad. Are you sad, Adrian?"

Was he?

"No, of course I'm not." He heard himself responding, the words listless and numb in his mouth.

Luna hummed, gently running her hand along the neck of the large thestral that was staring at Adrian so attentively.

"Curious things, thestrals. People think they're dark, but truly they're misunderstood. Only those who have seen death can see them, I think it's so you understand them. Imagine how horrid if everyone could see them, why, the ministry would hunt them right out."

The young thestral finally but its head against Adrian's hand, letting him run his fingers down the knobbly spine of its back.

"Would you like to know a secret?" Luna asked curiously, reaching into her side pocket and fishing out suspicious clumps of severed rat heads.

Luna leant forward consolingly, eyes wide and milky like the thestrals'.

"I heard that thestrals never mate, and never have young," She began, smoothing over the fur of one rat head lovingly.

"Then how…"

The young thestral chirped curiously.

"I think thestrals are all children at heart," she giggled happily, "they are. Children who die the most horrid, awful ways; children who die in such a way that thestrals cry for them. So curious why that one likes you, it's only a few years old."

Adrian's blood froze, and his hand stiffened on the spine of the curious creature.

Luna noticed, and she smiled something soft and sad.

"You know, I think you'd be a wonderful thestral." She smiled, and turned back to the larger beast next to her.

They didn't stop staring at him.

Chapter Text

The Chamber of Secrets was vast. It never ceased to amaze Adrian every time just how far his echoing footsteps rang. Interspersed with the occasional hollow drip, humidity seeping through his cloak until it chilled his skin.

Despite the eerie atmosphere, Adrian walked over the expanse with no worry. He halted his steps, peering at a few of the stone statues of various serpents curiously. He hadn't ever investigated the statues; the craftsmanship was impressive.

"Adalonda!" Adrian called out cheerfully, his hisses reverberating like hundreds of whispers. "I've returned!"

"Great serpent!" Lutain crowed in turn, flicking his tongue wildly in the musty air. Despite the location and the cold, Lutain always looked happiest in the chamber.

The tunnels and clearing remained empty, dark and thrumming silently with pulses of something ancient. Adalonda was clearly not there, which was somewhat a disappointment.

Adrian frowned, allowing his disappointment to bubble obviously as his lip twitched into something of a pout. He wanted to talk to the serpent, especially since it had been so long since he had seen her last.

Realistically it was foolish to assume she stayed in the Chamber of Secrets all the time, especially with how the tunnels opened to the Forbidden Forest or even further. It was childish of him to assume and be annoyed when she didn't come at his single beckon.

"Ah well," Adrian sighed, trying to dispel his frustration as he looked at the box in his hands, rattling slightly in his grip. The box was a recycled one which had held a pack of Pumpkin Pastries, although the squeaking inside signified there was certainly no sweets in it anymore.

The box Adrian was holding squeaked incessantly.

Lutain scoffed sourly when the giant basilisk failed to appear, although he seemed to be in calmer spirits.

"Set down rat and practice." Lutain sulked, although the two of them had agreed on the plan prior to venturing down.

Adrian did so, setting the spare box on the cold ground and lifting the lid to remove the sticking charm.

Immediately a large rat sprang out and darted across the floor, pausing a few feet away with one leg in a puddle and his nose twitching incessantly.

"Shift back," Adrian ordered with a small frown, twisting and incantating a light charm, allowing the peals of sunlight to permeate the vaporous mist in the shadowed corners.

The rat squealed, scrabbling across the ground as it could see so much better. Its scaly tail, completely unlike Lutain's, thrashed across the ground.

Adrian felt the prickle of annoyance as he pointed his wand at the rat; it froze.

"Change back or I will force you, Wormtail." Adrian seethed between clenched teeth.

"Should have just bit him," Lutain sighed wistfully.

The rat's flesh bubbled, morphing and twisting before it exploded outwards and began to reform. It was by no means attractive, and quite horrendous. Adrian had seen Sirius Black shift into his dog form once or twice, the movement for that was smooth and almost mystifying to watch. Even James Potter seemed to leap into his transformation, not having any unsettling midway.

Wormtail was a hunkered mass of distorted skin and gory details, something Adrian wrinkled his nose at. The man whimpered, it was testament to the hideous visage that Adrian could not tell if the whimper was from pain or fear.

Wormtail curled down on himself, anxiously lifting his gnarled fingers towards his mouth. His fingernails were brittle and shattered.

"Wormtail," Adrian smiled thinly, "This is the Chamber of Secrets."

The man's eyes widened in horror as he began to choke out stuttered sounds. Adrian ignored them.

"You'll be staying here, as part of my orders. You won't be detected by the school wards here, not to mention there is plenty of room."

"Tell him about Adalonda!" Lutain hissed excitedly, lounging about contently.

"Of course, do not bother the basilisk and you'll get along swimmingly."

"Basilisk?" The cowering man shrieked, eyes bulging obscenely, "You- you're leaving me here with a basilisk?"

"Oh, I'm sorry my father's accommodations for you aren't gilded in gold and ivory." Adrian snapped out, feeling a primal sense of satisfaction when Wormtail paled and flinched at the idea, "Obviously, if you teach me the transformation faster, the sooner you'll be out of here."

Wormtail pawed his fingers, folding them over and over as if to soothe himself.

"I still need to have the leaf in my mouth for another week," Adrian added informatively," The piping system is elaborate here- the wards will not detect you until you leave the pipes. There's plenty of water, and I'm sure you'll find food somehow. Try not to look at the Basilisk in the eye, will you?"

"I will wait for Adalonda!" Lutain added, excited and pleased to speak to the mighty serpent once more. Adrian nodded slightly, turning to walk away with a hop in his step.

"W-wait!" Wormtail shrieked behind him, making movements to follow, "Where- how. My wand?"

"You think I'm a moron?" Adrian looked at him incredulously, "Your wand is back at the manor, I'm not letting you get out of here and blow my cover. If you even try running, I'll have the basilisk hunt you down. Am I understood?"

Wormtail paused, jaw dropping in surprise and indignation at the threatening response. Something must have crossed his face, or some sort of epiphany struck the rat like a club over his head. Wormtail snapped his jaw shut; his nostrils flared and his eyes stared wide in something like anger.

"You're just a-" Wormtail's words were vicious, stewing and angry.

Lutain hissed threatening, sliding to the ground carefully and sending Wormtail reeling as if shocked.

Adrian watched the man carefully, feeling inexplicably unsettled, "...Lutain, keep watch."

Wormtail scowled and shifted into his rat with the noise of joints and bones snapping and wet skin squelching. With nary a sound, the man skittered off to the darkest corner he could find.


Draco Malfoy was a self-centered prick that neither understood his place, and knew his place in the wizarding world all too well.

Draco knew that in a standard fight, he would almost certainly lose. Despite that, the act of attacking or targeting Draco would result in swarms of masses then attacking the attacker for days if not weeks afterwards. You could win a fight against Draco, but you would never win in combat.

With that in mind, Draco was overconfident for his own wellbeing, too sure that his fans and other ambitious classmates would take a curse for him without a second thought. This made him both interesting, and aggravating at the same time. A princely child ready to throw a tantrum the moment a warm body disagreed with his ideas.

The fact that Adrian himself had withheld not only information, but relevant information was both impossible to comprehend and a grievous error in Draco's mind. Why would anyone fail to inform him that they were (distantly) related to him?

And in the unique self-centered way the Malfoy's possessed, Draco took it as a personal slight which only further caused tension both in and out of the common room.

Adrian slipped into the common room, carefully. He had full intentions of heading straight to his room to start on the first assignment of the year assigned to him by Hagrid for Care; he was exhausted, especially after dealing with Wormtail.

He made it only halfway to his room when he heard the first snide comment from Draco, aimed directly at him from the couches he always shared. Adrian should have ignored it- he should have. Lutain would have told him to keep walking, except Lutain was keeping watch in the Chamber to inform Adalonda of the situation.

There was nobody to tell him to not respond to Draco, and plenty of eyes watching, silently begging him to respond.

"Looking a bit peckish, Selwyn? Then again, you always looking a bit foul."

Against his better judgement he turned on his heel and looked directly at Draco, observing his tight jaw and flinty eyes.

"Not as foul as your temper, Malfoy." He found himself saying, already striding over to the couches where his other Slytherin yearmates were acc