Chapter 1: Chamber Shock
Emerald eyes matched with messy black hair and a skinny, malnourished body stared in shock as the gem encrusted sword of Godric Gryffindor fell from the Sorting Hat. Harry really had a bad feeling about this but didn't see another option. Snatching up the sword he grimly faced the Basilisk, careful to keep his eyes from meeting the deadly yellow gaze.
"~Stay still little meal. I will gobble you and your lovely blood and bones up,~" the Basilisk hissed in glee.
"~I didn't want to fight you, either of you. I just wanted to help Ron get his sister back,~" Harry hissed back desperately.
"~Wait!~" Tom Riddle hissed the command and the Basilisk paused in its approach, obeying its master as it automatically closed its inner eyelid as a safety precaution. "~Are you willing to bargain like a Slytherin, Potter?~"
"~Sure, the stupid hat wanted me in Slytherin in the first place. I had to argue to get into Gryffindor,~" Harry admitted. It was a little surreal to be discussing whatever this was completely in parseltongue but at least he wasn't fighting for his life... yet.
Before Harry realized it Riddle was upon him and had knocked the sword out of his grip. A snatch of the smaller boy's arm and quick twist had Harry on his knees with his arm twisted behind his back. Harry's own holly wand trailed down the line of his throat as the emerald-eyed boy swallowed hard. He knew from experience that any attempt to struggle would either get the wand to dig in deep enough to cut off his air, provided no magic was used, or his arm would be broken or dislocated. Harry really didn't want to be that vulnerable so stayed still.
"You will explain what you meant by that," Riddle's clipped voice was only slightly less menacing in English as it had been in Parseltongue.
"The hat said I should go to Slytherin. I had heard bad things about Slytherin and the only boy I met who knew he was going into Slytherin acted like my cousin. I didn't want to share a dorm with someone who would like to set me on fire just because, especially since he didn't see me as anything but a title I didn't even earn. Everyone celebrates the death of my parents as your defeat, no one bothers to see just Harry... and I don't want to be thrown out or sent to an orphanage just because I couldn't keep control of my magic or wouldn't obey," Harry admitted. He knew that showing his weakness to the other boy wasn't the best idea but it was the only thing he could come up with to keep from getting killed within the next five minutes. Right now he was actually half hoping that Riddle decided he could use the situation as blackmail or some sort of control over him because it would keep him alive just that much longer.
"What else?" Riddle asked sharply, sensing that Harry was holding something back.
"Who would expect a serpent in the lion's den? ...And I could copy Ron's behavior... maybe get a family of my own," Harry admitted shamefacedly. Riddle's hand slipped at that admission and for the first time they were skin to skin.
"Wha?! Th..that's impossible! You can't be!" Riddle stammered as he felt the shock of recognition matched only by the familiar magic cohabiting with Harry's own power.
"Whoa! What was that?!" Harry asked a little dizzily.
Distantly Harry heard his holly wand drop to the floor in front of him as the newly freed hand of the memory reached up instinctively to press against his famous curse scar. A jolt of pleasure mixed with astonishment and pain passed through him, leaving him a limp panting heap of quivering muscle that was immediately cradled lovingly by a crooning Tom Riddle. In those moments it seemed that the last of Ginny's life force left her body simultaneously as a drop of blood from a minor cut fell from Harry to land on a nearly invisible rune carved into the stone of the chamber floor. A flash of light, a flare of power and Tom Riddle was not only physically complete in a brand new body but was bound irrevocably to Harry James Potter. Tom could feel the bond from both the new magics and the Horcrux in Harry's scar clearly. The implications were not lost on him.
"~Mine!~" Tom hissed gleefully, carefully cradling Harry's slumped form in his arms. Harry muttered something incoherent before finally passing out.
Harry woke to the strangest sight he could ever imagine. Professor Snape was staring down a 1000 year old Basilisk with wand drawn and his eyes never leaving Harry in Riddle's arms.
"He's mine!" Tom said angrily, clutching Harry closer to him as if afraid that he would be snatched away.
"I do not know who or what you are but he is my student and you will return him to me!" Snape shot back, obviously having trouble keeping his temper.
It was hours after Harry had passed out in Tom's arms, not that either were bothering to inform Harry of that detail. Snape had found Ron and Lockheart at the cave-in, arranging for them to be evacuated before clearing the passage and following after Harry. He had tried to feel his way towards the still living brat, knowing that his unbreakable vow of protection could tell him much once he stopped suppressing it so viciously.
"Take the girl, this one's mine," Tom ordered haughtily even as Harry detected a hint of desperation in Riddle's voice.
"I can clearly see that she is dead from where I stand. It is equally clear that you are not a normal child and likely not a child at all. Where as the brat in your arms is one of my students and more so is under my protection for other reasons," Snape informed him icily.
Tom's magic flared in anger, causing Harry's scar to briefly flare with the other boy's temper. Severus grunted in pain as he instinctively clutched at the Dark Mark and landed on his knees, eyes wide in shock. They froze, each assessing the other and this new information.
"Why would you protect him? From all accounts I or my older self want the brat dead yet your reaction says that you are one of my knights," Tom grumbled mutinously. Harry dazedly wondered what the hell was going on.
"Knights? ...never mind. I was... am a spy. Due to circumstances involving various magical vows I am split between Dumbledore and the Dark Lord... yourself. At the moment my only unquestionable loyalty is to the boy in your arms, due in part to an unbreakable vow I was tricked into swearing during a time of great grief," Snape bit out, his tone a mix of hesitancy and fear. "My association with Mr. Potter is necessarily rocky and were I to inform your... elder self of any of this he would not let me finish my explanation but instead declare me a traitor on the spot. The prompt torture and execution would prevent me from informing him that these circumstances derived in large part from following his orders."
A low moan from the direction of Ginny's body proved that all of them had been mistaken, she was still alive. Something inside Harry hurt and for a panicky moment he knew he was going to loose control of whatever accidental magic he had always used to hide his injuries and scars. His lunge to escape and try to hide surprised Tom long enough that Harry briefly broke free only to be swiftly recaptured by a tackle from the teenage Dark Lord. Harry's trembling told the Slytherin that something was very wrong.
"Shush, its alright. I won't let him hurt you," Tom said gently, holding the terrified second year close to his chest.
Instinctively, Harry reached for the bond in desperation and shoved bringing Riddle to his knees but failing to break free of his grip.
"You don't understand! Let me go! You'll get hurt!" Harry said in a panic, not really aware of what he was babbling as he continued to try and get free.
"I'm not letting you go!" Tom hissed through clenched teeth.
Harry swung wildly, eventually landing a solid hit and scrambled free. Snape expected the brat to head towards him as a potential source of protection but instead the imp tried to get as far away from the other inhabitants of the room as possible. His magic finally let loose before he could get more than twenty feet as the glamours covering his battered, scared body came down with a vengeance. A strand of magic struck each of the others in the room barring Ginny and held, refusing to release them as Harry screamed. Their own magics reacted, surging forwards in a wave of protective soothing magic as Harry's magic flared dangerously. Something ancient about the chamber recognized what was happening and woke enough to help clamp down on the magic pouring from the twelve year old, containing it until it finally subsided into something like exhaustion. Neither Snape nor Riddle were surprised when Harry slowly collapsed to the floor.
"For the moment I believe that we can agree that we both want him alive and healthy. We can discuss extenuating circumstances later," Tom offered neutrally.
Snape gave a sharp nod of agreement and they both headed for Harry's crumpled form. The Basilisk muttered something sulkily about not getting a decent sized meal as it watched them work, knowing that the insensate Ginny wasn't a threat. What they discovered when they got to Harry stopped them dead for a moment before they were quickly at his side casting spells and gently rearranging him on the stone floor. Tom very carefully saw to Harry's comfort while Snape cast diagnostic after diagnostic mentally railing at whoever had done this much damage to a child, even if he was the Brat-Who-Lived-To-Make-His-Life-Impossible.
"Qualifications?" Riddle asked tersely as they worked.
"Master of Potions and Defense," Snape answered absently as he went over the results of one of the more technical scans. "There's no help for it he needs to see a proper healer and the damage we just discovered has to be reported. This preliminary history indicates that the damage goes back years. I don't know how he got into Gryffindor with the sort of trauma this indicates... unless the bloody hat took his stoicism as courage to face the unknown or some other similar rubbish. Once he's stable I'm demanding a damn resort. If nothing else I can take temporary guardianship once he's in my house."
"I thought Potion Masters were only a step away from being full healers?" Tom challenged aggressively, not wanting to share Harry with anyone.
"We are but because of a lack of several magical vows we have to have our conclusions confirmed separately when a magical child is involved with the likelihood of needing to legally remove said child from their current guardians," Snape shot back. "If you don't want anyone to know who you are we can claim that you were trapped down here in some sort of magical stasis or something. I can act to take guardianship of both of you based on the clear magical bond we've already formed, which will further allow us to sort this out privately."
"Acceptable," Tom said pompously.
Snape didn't waste any more time as he quickly gathered Harry into his arms and levitated the still unconscious Ginny before heading towards the entrance to the chamber. Tom opted to shrink the Basilisk so that it was barely a foot long, using a powerful parsel spell to get around the natural magic resistance in a timely fashion before catching up to them. The moment they got topside Snape led them towards the hospital wing, intent on using the floo to take them all to St. Mungoes, knowing that Poppy wasn't available because of an earlier incident. He was fully planning to file charges against whoever was Harry's caretakers and magical guardian along with applying for guardianship of both boys.
"Let me carry him. I won't risk loosing him and the girl is repulsive to me," Tom demanded, arms outstretched to take Harry. Snape debated for a moment before reluctantly complying, taking Ginny in his own arms for the floo trip.
"St. Mungoes!" Snape called before stepping into the emerald flames. The moment he arrived he whirled to see Tom following on his heels with Harry in his arms. Something inside him relaxed that Harry was safe then the worry about his poor condition kicked in.
"I need a healer!" Snape thundered, robes flaring like bat wings as his little party stalked towards the information desk.
The information desk witch looked up ready to yell at him to get in line before realizing who exactly he was and scrambled to find an unoccupied healer. As a potions master that experimented with dangerous brews he had an emergency portkey straight to the emergency area and was well known to the staff for the potions he provided. Since the portkey could only carry one and Dumbledore refused to make an exception to the school's wards for it he had forgone using it. He would be correcting the carrying capacity post haste and taking Lucius up on his offer to overrule the old goat on the matter the moment he had a chance to contact his old friend.
Ginny was quickly shuttled off to be examined as her parents were contacted but when they moved to take Harry something about the situation felt off. Neither Riddle nor Snape were willing or even able to be separated from him.
"There was something of a magical flare. His magic connected to us and the shrunken Basilisk Tom is carrying. It... bonded us. I doubt we would have been able to leave the location at all without being together, including bringing the Basilisk. Incidentally, they apparently have an inner eyelid that allows them to avoid harming people on accident," Snape explained, frustrated beyond belief that he couldn't be more specific. "Potter collapsed after our magic helped contain his and we naturally tried to tend to him. We discovered that he'd been wearing a glamour and the subsequent damage being hidden. I still need to contact the Aurors and file charges against whoever has been acting as his guardian and caretaker."
"We'll floo the DMLE right away Master Snape. The accidental bond, though currently uncategorized, automatically gives you custody and medical authority," the Healer informed him. "Honestly? If whatever caused this kind of damage to our Savior continued I wouldn't be surprised at him either disappearing or being found very dead. Its a miracle that he's alive and we can thank his insanely large core for that. The remnants of the blocks we just found are fading rapidly so expect the bond to strengthen drastically. Bare in mind that with this bond you will first form a parental bond with him only for the power and orientation of the bond to shift later. If it does change, which it might or might not, it will likely be towards something closer to that of a romantic partnership at such a time expect random bouts of lust and an intense need to simply hold him. Though the romantic aspect is likely to form first with the other young man it wouldn't surprise me in the least if he needed both of you to help ground him. Which is one of the reasons I'm bringing up the possible change now rather than 3-5 years from now when they form. The... serpent also likely just became the joint familiar for the three of you. Expect to need them in relatively close proximity for the rest of your life regardless of any changes or lack there of in the bond."
"What would have been the alternative had this bond not formed?" Snape asked very carefully. He wasn't happy about some of the possibilities that had just been presented to him but knew that nothing could be done. The fact that he had needed to slam his Occlumency shields down on his anger about the magical blocks was just very nasty icing on the poisoned cake that today was becoming.
"Master Snape you and all of Hogwarts as well as everything in a 50 mile radius would be dead," the Healer told him flatly. "You acted as an anchor, an incredibly effective one, and a point of both reference and safety. That allowed you to help control the outburst of magic, an outburst that wouldn't have been necessary if he hadn't been abused, malnourished, and stressed beyond all belief. That boy never should have needed any of that but it was the safest option at the time. Mr. Riddle informed me that Potter tried to get far enough away that the distance would protect you in the limited time between his realization of what was happening and the outburst. This is a very good sign but you will have to watch that the protective tendencies don't turn into a suicidal belief that his death would protect the people around him. His self-esteem is already nearly to the point that he might choose to end his own suffering if he can not find a way to alleviate it. The outburst was also a cry for help and a desperate attempt to avoid considering suicide. You have a chance to help him, regardless of anything else. I have no idea why he chose you, Mr. Riddle, and an ancient Basilisk of all things for his new family but there you have it. The report will simply list a snake rather than a Basilisk to avoid someone killing it and ripping into the bond in the process."
"Thank you, Byron," Severus said softly falling towards deep thought only to be jerked back to reality with the Healer's next words.
"Severus, keep our lord safe? I don't know why he's allowing this but he has claimed you and Potter just as much as Potter claimed the two of you," Byron said in a low hiss. He had felt Riddle's magic and had to fight not to kneel to him but there had been no hiding the existence of the Dark Mark on his arm now that the teen knew about its existence. "If you can get Lord Malfoy to help I suggest you do it. A lot of people aren't happy and I was ordered by someone, I don't know who, to find a way to break your bond. Lucky for us it isn't possible and will only open up to include someone else if Potter needs someone else to help stabilize him or another mate. Seeing this bond and what it would have taken to create it I can understand why our lord lost his body that night. That brat is powerful and I advised our lord to take a deaging potion. He agreed and we called it a remedy for an accidental dosing with an aging potion before he was locked into stasis. They are about the same age now and keeping them together is a good idea. Severus, I really don't want to have to deal with an insane mad man again and the two of you can keep him sane."
"Understood. May I have the potions regime?" Severus agreed with more than a little foreboding as he was handed the list of potions they would all need.
Snape was more resigned than anything to note that all three of them had been assigned special health potions to repair previous damage, his own examination having been exceptionally uncomfortable. What both surprised him yet was also equally unsurprising was the healer's order to talk with each other about as much as possible. It was ostensibly to leach any emotional poison but it would also serve as a way for him to monitor the sanity of his two powerful brats and counter any attempts at dosing them with potions. The raw power from both of them would eventually ensure that his aging would either slow or possibly reverse so that he wouldn't outlive either of them.
Collecting the two twelve year old parselmouths, one green-eyed and one brown-eyed took barely a moment. They quickly met up with the Auror who had finally arrived only to be escorted to the DMLE for a talk with Madam Bones. It had already been a long day and the paperwork would make it all the longer. Severus briefly wondered if he should have called Lucius before leaving the Hospital until he caught sight of a ghastly multi-colored robe and long beard. Dumbledore's arrival made it very clear that they had overstayed their welcome and they would have to hurry up their escape if they wanted to avoid the old coot. Another floo trip and they were sitting down to a talk with Head Auror Bones.
"How may I help you today Potions Master Snape?" Madam Bones asked congenially as they took a seat in front of her desk, Harry and Tom sharing one seat while Snape took the other.
"Would you send someone to get Lucius Malfoy? I fear we will be needing his expertise before this is done and I almost didn't get us out of St. Mungoes before being waylaid. This needs to go on record and I'd rather not have the situation compromised by meddling idiots. Enough damage had already been done," Snape informed her seriously.
Bones raised an eyebrow in surprise and sent off a priority memo for Lucius Malfoy, knowing he was probably in some meeting or other and thus in the building. After seeing the memo off the dour man handed over the official copy of Harry's complete medical history along with the Healer's notes about the newly formed bond. Lucius arrived just as the woman lost her temper with what she was reading and her magic started breaking the glass in the room, frightening Harry. Tom quickly pulled the other boy from his place next to him into his lap, defending them both from flying shards with his own magic.
"I take it this is going to be bad," Lucius asked lightly in an attempt to dissipate the heavy atmosphere.
"I apologize boys but this... is unconscionable and I sincerely hope that Master Snape and Lord Malfoy will be pressing charges on your behalf," Madam Bones informed them. Her anger was barely under control as she repaired the damage and checked them for injuries.
"I don't blame you for your reaction," Snape said sourly. "I'm having to employ an almost dangerous amount of Occlumency shields to keep my own temper and will badly need to destroy something once I and the boys are safe."
"Well, one thing is for certain with these documents you do have custody and no one can take it from you. In fact it will trump any attempt to send you to Azkaban barring a KISSable offense. You can be assured that any attempt to break the bond without such justification is completely illegal and I encourage you to either come to me or take the boys and run. I know of a few Ministry employees who might try something so sickening as that," Madam Bones told him sincerely. "I say this, off the record, because I know that Fudge is an idiot and might try something just to make himself look good. If you have need of an unimpeachable safe haven I open my home to you and the boys."
Harry didn't understand what she meant by that but the response of the other wizards was closer to being floored. This told Harry that the nice lady had offered something important. He wasn't an idiot by any means but every time he'd tried to get help before or show his intelligence he'd been badly punished for it.
"I don't have to go back? To the Dursleys? Dumbledore isn't making me go back like last year?" Harry asked with a hopefulness that broke their hearts, driving home that this was a badly used child.
Tom growled and clutched Harry close, realizing the implications of his questions since he hadn't been allowed to see the medical results of his new "brother".
"No brat, you'll be living with me and Tom," Severus told him honestly, the sting gone from his voice to be replaced with a mixture of weariness and concern. The joyful laughter that burst from the green-eyed imp and the ecstatic dancing of his magic filled the rest of them with a warmth and joy of their own.
"Haven't you been horrible to him since that first lesson?" Lucius asked with concern.
"Which is why its so baffling and worrisome that he wants me of all people in the bond his magic created. His medical results actually answer why he would take me over whoever has been caring for him until now," Severus said grumpily. There wasn't any heat in his tone, Lucius noticed, only his normal fond grumpiness that close friends had learned to see through.
"Master Snape, would you please explain to me why you rushed them to St. Mungoes and then into my office? Don't get me wrong I am exceedingly grateful that you did but I would like to know what thoughts prompted such a response," Madam Bones asked not unkindly.
"There was a chance that his magic would lash out dangerously, which is what led to my examination down in the chamber once a truce was established. The subsequent rush to St. Mungoes was actually for legal reasons. I can't start the legal paperwork to remove him from his family as I am not a fully licensed Healer yet I know that Dumbledore has been actively withholding information from parents. I was unsure if he would attempt to hide the incident and blame it on the chamber situation, using our safe return to the rest of the school to prove everything had been handled. We only escaped from St. Mungoes just as I caught a glimpse of Dumbledore arriving. Too many people want control of Potter for this to be handled as anything but above board and legally. As a member of the bond I have the right to disclose its existence and particulars, keeping it secret would only put us at risk. Especially since I suspect that breaking the bond or killing one of us would result in the death of all three of us. Risking my own life is one thing but I can not in good conscience risk their lives by withholding the information or refusing to act on the evidence of abuse post haste. I clearly remember how it was when Dumbledore chose to ignore my own abuse and threaten me when several fellow classmates nearly killed me during my fifth year," Severus explained somewhat hesitantly. "Dumbledore repeatedly ignores such cases and seems to purposefully exacerbate any that are discovered in Slytherin house. The other houses he generally convinces that whatever he asks of them is for the greater good. I have worked with Poppy Pomfrey for years to quietly report the situations in a way they would actually be addressed since whenever we attempt to work through the standard channels Dumbledore completely trivializes the concern or dismisses it out of hand."
Amelia Bones was by turns furious and appalled, partly because of her own niece being a student and partly because she was effectively a parent herself.
"Apparently, we will be agreeing to lend a few Aurors to fill the recently vacated Defense position this year," Madam Bones' voice was cold as ice yet still professional as she forcibly reigned in her temper.
"The board was never informed of this," Lucius said in faint shock, pale to the point of nearly fainting.
"I've tried but he kept threatening me with Azkaban and saying things like Lily would be disappointed if I didn't do this or that. Sometimes, he would even try for the angle of how reprehensible it was to suggest splitting loving families or of the damage it would do if wizards thought that muggles were monsters," Severus said angrily, his frustration clear. "He tricked me into an unbreakable vow to protect Potter and I can honestly say that I have never been so glad to fall for one of his manipulations in my entire life. It allowed me to talk to you about this because it presents a very real danger to Potter. My hands have been tied for years no matter how I've fought to protect the children ever since he forced me into my teaching post."
"These papers say that you are to return to St. Mungoes within the week for a check on your progress and the progress within the bond," Amelia Bones pointed out delicately. The change of subject allowed her to breath and reflect on the dangerous information she had just been given. There would be an official if secret investigation of the man currently in charge of their children.
"Really?" Snape asked wearily. He was tired and needed to get the boys someplace safe.
"Who did you see?" Lucius asked, latching on to the detail with interest. He would think about the legal tap dancing that Dumbledore was performing later, when he was more rational and less terrified for either his friend or his son. There was a good chance that Draco would not be returning to Hogwarts for his third year... perhaps he should be looking at Durmstrang or one of the American schools.
"Byron Cuttlebrink," Snape said with a snort. "He knows me well enough to recognize that I was in a hurry but would check the records he shoved in my hand once we were safe for the night. The man has also treated me often enough to know that I wouldn't have stayed in St. Mungoes without a very compelling reason. I don't like hospitals or a healer's domain. Its one reason I went into potions rather than healing."
"I will need your statement about your treatment as a student and later your attempts to get help for the children under your care. Owing to your changed circumstances I will accept the statement by owl within the week provided the ink and/or parchment is soaked in truth serum. If you don't want to give a particular detail simply note that you do not feel comfortable providing said detail at the time. As potions are your craft you will know that this allows for a truthful account without forcing the revelation of uncomfortable or dangerous secrets by noting that you don't wish to share the details. I will also need an accounting of how and why you are burdened with an unbreakable vow to protect Mr. Potter," Bones dictated. "Do you wish to be placed in a safehouse and/or for an Auror escort?"
"... yes, I cannot risk the boys," Snape said in a tone of defeat as the more dangerous ramifications of his actions came crashing down about his ears.
"I would offer my home as a suitable location. Indeed, I suspect I need to discuss Hogwarts business with Master Snape in any case," Lucius offered softly, meeting the eyes of his friend.
"As long as mini-malfoy isn't such a prat," Harry grumbled reminding the adults that they were there. Tom shushed him and tried to cuddle him again.
"I'm not getting rid of Bailey," Tom said challengingly.
"Bailey?" Lucius asked in curiosity. Tom showed them the shrunken Basilisk.
"I suppose this is the... ah, snake that was mentioned as part of the bond?" Amelia Bones asked somewhat hesitantly. The healer's records made note of the bond extending to the snake but didn't specify the species of snake.
"He's colored like a Basilisk and says he was Salazar Slytherin's familiar. I can talk to him and he promised to behave unless someone tries to hurt me," Tom explained childishly, playing his new age for all it was worth. "Hurting me is the same as hurting Harry or Snape. I can feel the magic making us part of each other."
"As long as you explain exactly what he can do, how large he is normally, and keep him with you so that we don't have to worry about running into him without being able to talk to him," Lucius said severely, an odd look in his eye. "We don't want him hurting or killing anyone on accident."
"Yes sir!" Tom said eagerly before turning to Harry and encouraging him to pet the shrunken Basilisk.
"I thank you Lord Malfoy. Would you like an Auror detachment to stay with you to help protect them or are your family wards sufficient?" Amelia asked carefully, aware of how often some of the other departments borrowed her Aurors to search his home for Dark objects.
It was then that the implications of taking on both Dumbledore and Fudge hit, making her mentally groan at the nightmare this was going to be even if she didn't harbor the bonded trio. It still wasn't something that she could bring herself to refuse should they ask for sanctuary in her household. It made her immensely grateful for Malfoy's offer of sanctuary to the trio.
"No, but thank you. Severus? Are you ready to leave?" Lucius asked gently. Severus nodded, dragging himself to his feet before they bid Madam Bones adieu. They took their leave and flooed to Malfoy Manor, yet again just missing a nearly frantic Dumbledore.
Chapter 2: Masks Down
The moment they stepped foot into Malfoy Manor and Tom saw they were alone he stopped masking his power, something he had decided to do when being examined by Healer Cuttlebrink to avoid problems. This resulted in alerting Lucius to his actual identity. The look on the man's face was priceless.
"How?!" Lucius stuttered in shock.
"He was in the diary you slipped Ginny," Harry answered simply. He honestly didn't care at this point if Tom was Voldemort or not, the bond had soothed his fears for the most part. On top of that the obvious care that Tom had given him made him realize part of what he had been missing. Harry wasn't willing to give that up.
"Another one of my knights, how convenient," Tom said with obvious amusement. Both adults watched as he carefully and protectively tucked Harry into his side before moving to sit on one of the couch-like objects. Bailey was presented to Harry so that he could occupy himself by petting the shrunken Basilisk while the others talked.
"I presume that for the moment we will be discussing less than pleasant business?" Severus asked warily as the two Death Eaters took their own seats.
"Harry is a part of that business and will be made aware of how important it is that he survives," Tom said with amusement. "I have no objection to you removing your son from the school and I have no idea what my older self had in the works or indeed the events that have passed since shortly after the death of Myrtle Warren. Her death was an accident but I saw no reason not to use it to my advantage. So I did. I only later realized that I had miscalculated what some of the side effects of the ritual would result in. This relates to Harry in that somehow he became a living version of what I and the diary I was trapped in were. I doubt my elder self is aware of this or the entire Dark Sect would have been fanatical about his protection."
Harry made a small noise of contentment as Bailey grumbled about curious hatchlings before complying with the coaxing to wrap around Harry's wrist.
"From what I concluded due to my earlier brief discussion in the chamber with Severus he has been in Dumbledore's hands the entire time and poorly treated to boot. I may have taken the deaging potion but my mind and memories are still 16 plus 50 years trapped in the diary. You see I took various precautions in protecting my life. Harry some how became an integral part of those protections. This allowed his blood to act as a sort of binder and supplement to what life force I was drawing from the redhead girl, effectively saving her life by completing my actions for me and giving me a new body. I suspect he earned a life debt from her in the process," Tom snickered. "Severus has the bond to me formed by Harry and the mark on his arm. Harry has his scar with its special properties and the bond that was formed in the chamber by his magic. I am not certain if Severus has any other bonds to Harry but the end result is that we are bound together very tightly. I suspect that it is so tight that my own safety net in regards to mortality has extended to them as well, or at least if they die so will I. I have absolutely no idea if this event has separated me from my elder self in these matters or not."
"Pardon my plainness of speech but... you were less than sane by the time you faced the Potters," Lucius informed him, braced for a crucio. Tom nodded agreeably and opted to somewhat explain.
"From what that little girl said of the stories told of my actions I had gathered as much. I suspect that the enhancement rituals I performed had a less than stable effect even if it was only the one which first helped create the diary. I will need to be brought back up to date and I will also have to explain my original plans as I suspect they were warped over the years. Should anyone discover my older self we would need to meet so that I can determine the damage and possibly acquire an updated version of my own memories. As it stands now the bond also prevents me from returning to that madness that so obviously consumed me so you need not worry. I cannot determine the condition and risk of my older self until we have met so approach him with caution," Tom said almost musingly. Harry had turned to playing with his fingers and petting Bailey at the same time, humming in quiet contentment. "I will also still hold all of you to the loyalty oaths that you swore but consider this. I am obviously sane and bonded to two powerful wizards who will maintain that sanity whereas my elder self will also enforce the loyalty oaths and is most likely to be completely mad from one thing or another. The oaths will recognize both of us so should you choose to obey my orders over his they are still considered valid and you are merely helping me heal a strange type of magical injury... a split of personality and self."
"The magic will recognize the difference and judge that you are the rightful one to be giving orders due to your sanity rather than your older self," Severus realized instantly.
"Exactly," Tom said in satisfaction. "I may not have all of our memories but I am still sane and the same can not be said with certainty for any other... pieces that one might stumble across."
"Since Dumbledore was in that memory you showed me do you think he'd be able to recognize you?" Harry asked, proving that he had been paying attention even as he amused himself.
"He's less likely to remember my specific features with how much time has passed but you raise a good point," Tom allowed. His smile was almost indulgent as he retrieved his hand only to tuck Harry more firmly against his side.
"Another thing, how did you even find the ritual that hurt you? Even if it was in the restricted section in the school library why would something that could hurt you so badly even be in a school. I can understand if it was at a Uni but Hogwarts? We have eleven year old firsties!" Harry pointed out. "Magic goes weird all the time what's to stop it from going weird again at the school and letting a Ravenclaw firstie find the book? Even a burst of accidental magic could let them find it. If it was in some professor's personal library that's one thing and shame on you for breaking their protections and stealing it but what if it wasn't?"
"To answer your questions it was in the restricted section but I probably would never have even looked at it if Professor Slughorn hadn't made a comment about something inside it. Slughorn also explained to me something I didn't understand about the ritual. Looking back I don't think he would have said anything or known anything under normal circumstances so its likely someone set him and me up," Tom said in a considering tone of voice.
"~If we find who hurt you we're giving them to the Dursleys as a replacement house elf,~" Harry hissed under his breath not realizing that he was loud enough to be heard.
"Dursley? The Dursleys hurt you? Treated you like a house elf?!" Tom said sharply, bringing Harry up short. Since the others hadn't understood the parseltongue they paid close attention to what they could understand.
"Ah, uh, no?" Harry stammered, clearly lying.
"Harry," Tom said warningly.
"They're blood and I just want to forget about them," Harry said miserably, cuddling Bailey close.
"Harry, this is going to be in the papers and whatever you're hiding will come out any way. Wouldn't it be better to tell us now so that we can prepare for it and make sure it doesn't hurt you?" Tom asked gently, coaxingly. Harry gave him a wary look but slowly, haltingly began to speak about his time at the Dursleys.
"They... never wanted me. I didn't know my name was Harry until I started muggle primary and Ron was my first friend. I wasn't allowed to do better than Dudley in school. Any time I did better than Dudley or did magic I got punished. It wasn't much, no food for a week, locked in my cupboard, or sometimes the belt if Uncle Vernon was really angry. They liked hearing the really loud cracking sound that my bones sometimes made. I wasn't allowed to ask questions or back talk or protect myself if Dudley or Uncle Vernon decided to hit me. Aunt Petunia taught me how to clean stuff with really stingy soap and do the outside stuff. I always wondered why I was the only kid that did the outside stuff alone, especially the heavy stuff. To them I am freak and boy and burden... I know you saw my scars and I'm not allowed to talk about them," Harry told them softly; meeting Severus' eyes briefly before his gaze fell back to his lap and Bailey.
Harry could feel the rage in the magic from the other three wizards as it swirled around the room. Any time it got near him the joined magic caressed him protectively, soothingly, as if to comfort him. Just about everything else felt the magic as acid or rough sandpaper as it swirled around slowly destroying the rest of the room. Not paying any mind Harry leaned over and carefully snuggled into Tom's side, unconsciously disrupting the destructive pattern. Tom's magic immediately went towards comforting him yet constantly on guard against any threat to him. The magic of Severus and Lucius followed suit, acting as roving guard dogs while Tom's magic formed the sturdy blanket of protection that rested against his skin.
"I believe it is safe to say that he is never going back. I will have them up on charges as fast as possible," Lucius said darkly. He badly wanted to kill the muggles that so abused a magical child.
"I would dearly like to make them pay personally but I doubt our little Harry would allow that," Tom snarled even as he pulled Harry closer into a proper cuddle. Harry gave a little shiver and shook his head no, confirming the supposition.
"His medical report had hinted at worse than this but it is more... comprehensive to hear it from Harry himself, and more painful," Severus agreed, no longer even trying to hold his Occlumency shields. Harry's large yawn reminded them all that they had had a trying day and were in need of rest.
"Severus, your room is where you left it. I don't know how far this bond will stretch so while the rooms to one side and across the hall are available the house elves will have two cots in your room by the time you get there," Lucius informed them.
"No need, for now we will share the same bed," Tom said dismissively. "I don't want either of them far from me, especially if Harry again has trouble containing his magic."
"Bare in mind that your bodies are that of little boys and nothing but sleep will occur until you are both quite a bit older," Severus drawled with a smirk designed to distract and confound. Tom gave him an unimpressed look before helping the smaller Harry to his feet.
"You're much to small and light. You will be eating more," Tom muttered to the half asleep Gryffindor.
"Sorry Tom, sleepy," Harry mumbled. "Don't *yawn* want to be a burden."
"You're not little imp, you're not," Tom told him as he helped the smaller wizard towards the door to the room. Severus quickly caught up to them, pulling Harry from Tom's grasp to carry the brat as they made their way to his normal room whenever he stayed at the manor.
Chapter 3: Basilisk Mornings
Narcissa checked on them the next morning, having been brought up to speed by her husband during the night. She was one of the few people who could get around the nasty surprises that their friend routinely put up to protect him while he slept. This skill came in very handy that morning with a lovely reward in the form of an adorable puppy pile on Severus' bed consisting of the Potions Master pinned underneath both 12 year olds. The sight was not only adorable but confirmed that the bond would insist on close proximity for the three of them... four of them, she hadn't noticed the snake sleeping at the foot of the bed.
"Oh Severus, they've already got you wrapped around their fingers," Narcissa said quietly, laughter tinting her voice a warm golden sound. The snake stirred once to glance at her but she waved it away and silently slipped back out of the room.
"~Bailey?~" Tom asked sleepily.
"~A human female entered, looked at you and our bonded before laughing quietly and leaving. She did not pose a threat nor did she mock you,~" Bailey hissed soothingly. "~Rest my Tom. Protect our Severus and our Harry in their dreams as I guard your bodies.~"
Tom mumbled something incoherent and fell back asleep. Bailey hissed in pleasure about his bonded wizards feeling safe enough to rest properly. He had been one of the guardians of the school and was kept mostly up to date by Fawkes, another guardian. Neither guardian had liked what Dumbledore had been doing but knew that his infiltration had been so gradual there was nothing they could do. Killing the old fool would have radicalized the man's followers and forced a much more rapid and detrimental change, potentially endangering the children.
The guardian's first job was the physical protection of the students and any magical children that came within their reach. It was one of the reasons why he hadn't been happy about being ordered by an heir to attack some of the students. Myrtle's death had honestly been an accident on all sides. His attempted attack on Harry was more along the lines of playing with him and lacking any actual intent to harm or kill him. If he had actually tried to hurt the little wizard the guardianship bond would have broken and his mind would have instantly been lost in payment. Harry's magic as both an heir and the ancient magic of the chamber had shifted the bond from Hogwarts to his new wizards. His original bond had been like this with Salazar Slytherin and later shifted to the school as a whole. The school had relinquished him to guard these three heirs of the founders even as it encouraged the bonding and helped control Harry's magical outburst.
Idly, Bailey wondered if the three of them knew they were Heirs and the rightful owners of the school. He'd tell them when they woke for the day and went in search of food. Humans needed more care than Basilisk hatchlings and it had been centuries since he'd applied the knowledge gained as Salazar's familiar. He would have to watch his human's carefully and make sure they took care of themselves.
Harry mumbled something that sounded like distress and violently rolled only to land on the floor with a thud and a yelp. Bailey glanced over the edge of the bed to check on the little human as his other two bonded stirred restlessly, waking enough to try and identify the noise.
"Sorry," Harry muttered in embarrassment before realizing that he was somewhere new and opting to stare at the green and brown themed decor.
"~Tom, our Harry fell out of the nest,~" Bailey told the other parselmouth with a hissy chuckle.
"You know it would be much easier if I could understand our familiar as well," Severus pointed out somewhat sourly as Tom peeked over the edge of the bed and chuckled.
Bailey immediately zeroed in on the Potions Master with an intensity usually only seen with a hunting predator viewing its prey. Snape immediately went still and pinned Tom in place with a warning hand on the back of his neck. The dour man didn't want to risk them getting bitten by the deadliest serpent of all. Bailey took the lack of motion as assent and struck, dragging out a wail of pain even as the transformative venom seeped into the older wizard's blood.
Harry shot up and latched onto the snake, trying to pull him off of Snape while scolding. "Bad Snake! Give me back my pr'fess'r!" Bailey ignored him and focused on making the change safely, letting go less than a minute later.
"~Be still hatchling! If he is to be part of our bond then he must be able to understand all of us,~" Bailey scolded, turning to glare at his youngest charge.
"Thank you," Severus said quietly as he examined the magically healed wound.
"~None of my bonded will die by my sight and I refuse to have one of you deaf to me either,~" Bailey said snootily. "~The venom of any lesser serpent will not affect you. Now, hold the hatchlings still they also need to be marked to be safe from my hunting gaze and so that others will not try to take them from me.~"
Tom immediately tried to move from Snape's hold only to be bit in the leg as well. The young Dark Lord muffled his own screech of pain in Snape's grey night gown, gritting his teeth until it was over. Harry backed away quickly, not wanting to be hurt only to be tackled by the shrunken basilisk and wrapped in his coils.
"~Be still stubborn hatchling! This is to keep you safe,~" Bailey grumbled, nudging aside the collar of Harry's transfigured night clothes before quickly striking and marking Harry. He was surprised when he felt the transformation for Parseltongue begin and guided it expertly to merge with the lingering talent Harry already had. "~You're an odd hatchling, able to support part of the speaking gift without help. Well, you now have the entirety of it as do our bonded. Back into the nest with you.~"
"What? No!" Harry protested only to be dumped into Snape's lap by the grumpy basilisk.
"~Stay!~" Bailey said firmly before wandering off to fetch something only to return with carefully carried parchment and self inking quill. Snape cautiously took them from the dangerous serpent and waited. "~You will write to the small ones fond of the warm soft metal you call gold. You will ask one of them to come and confirm your heritage and ownership of our home. Salazar always called our home Hogwarts. You will also ask them to check your blood to confirm that you are hatchlings of my first bonded and his nestmates. Then we will move back to our proper nest and chase our enemies from the nest so that we may live without fear for the hatchlings you will someday have for me to teach.~"
"Bossy," Harry said, ending the shocked silence.
"~I will not have us driven from our own nest,~" Bailey said grumpily. Snape smirked but quickly obeyed not wanting to upset Bailey further.
"You're not going to let us get up are you?" Harry asked doubtfully as an elf came to collect the letter with a terrified squeak before disappearing.
"~Not a chance,~" Bailey said smugly. "~The three of you need to rest and heal after yesterday's bonding. All three of you are to skinny and need proper food."
"I eat," Severus complained with mild affront.
"Not according to the healer's report from yesterday," Tom pointed out with a snort of wry amusement. "At least I have the excuse of being trapped in a diary for 50 or so years and Harry was never given the chance."
With a pained sigh Severus quietly instructed, "Read further back in my history on the report."
Tom didn't like the sound of that and immediately wandlessly summoned the paper work from the bedside table. Severus didn't object as his youthened liege poured over his medical history. The man knew what had been found when the young Dark Lord went unnaturally still.
"So that is what you meant with your comments yesterday," Tom said in a quiet, dangerous tone.
"Yes my lord," Severus admitted ashamedly, his eyes hidden behind a curtain of dark silky hair as he instinctively cuddled Harry close.
"What happened?" Harry asked quietly, choosing not to fight the comforting warmth of the potion master's arms.
"Someone hurt Severus like we were hurt," Tom admitted darkly. "Some of these injuries are from my crazy older self but the older ones can only be from whoever he was living with during the summer."
"Some are from a group of bullies who made my life at school hell but yes," Severus admitted, fighting with himself to open up to his two bondmates. After all they were tied together for the rest of their lives, the two deserved to know what they were getting into.
"You had your own Dudley," Harry murmured in understanding, cuddling even closer to the older wizard in an attempt to comfort him.
"Yes... he was your father and one of the reasons I harbored to keep hating you. It was wrong of me but you've utterly broken that with your foolish bravery and the bonding," Severus admitted in a tone of utter defeat as he wrapped Harry more firmly in his arms, smelling his hair.
"You won't be able to see us as romantic partners," Tom speculated. Severus gave a minimal shrug but didn't object to the idea either way.
"So he's just going to be our dad?" Harry asked cutely, impossible hope shining in his eyes.
"That's what it looks like but he won't just be our dad. He'll be with us all the time until the bond lets us get further apart and I bet we'll still see him alot because the bond will want us near each other," Tom agreed with a smile for the green-eyed boy.
"Its fine Harry. I'm just glad that I don't hate you anymore nor do I have to find ways to both protect you and put you in danger. What happened made it too hard to hold onto my anger at you in place of your father and his friends. So, while I am still angry at them I can't be angry at you for nothing any more," Severus admitted with obvious relief.
Harry grinned brightly and snuggled smugly into the arms of his new dad. Both younger wizards could tell that despite the strangeness of the situation the older man was already happier and carried fewer worries. Bailey hissed in contentment as he observed the trio from his position on the edge of the bed, which he had obtained while his wizards were distracted. They stayed like that until an upset Narcissa in healer mode barged in having realized they were missing important potions two hours later.
Chapter 4: Health and Safety
"Narcissa!" Severus squeaked as she barged into the room and he jumped in shock, still holding Harry. This set Harry himself to laughing where as Tom had summoned his wand, thinking it an attack, and Bailey snarked at her in parseltongue.
"Severus Tobias Snape! You know better than to miss such powerful healing potions," Narcissa snapped in an annoyed and aggrieved tone, stalking towards them with barely a pause at the yew wand aimed for her.
"Simply because you are a certified healer..." Severus grumbled discontentedly as he looked away from her in embarrassment that bleed through to the bond in his distraction. This set Tom at ease and made Harry shift to giggles as he tried to stifle his laughter. Bailey simply observed, not deeming the woman to be a threat after her earlier foray and cooing.
"That's right. I am a certified healer and a mother so don't you dare try to pull your scary potions master routine, it won't work if you'll recall," Narcissa said stoutly. She set the various potions she was carrying on the side table to sort through for her three patients in obvious annoyance.
"We would have taken them once we managed to get past our new familiar and came down for breakfast," Severus pouted.
"Severus, this is the first time I've gotten a proper look at your medical history, no thanks to your stubbornness. You've let me heal you before but always you wouldn't let me take a history scan. After what I found, I can see why and Mr. Potter's medical history is no less extensive or potentially dangerous than your own. My lord's history is pristine, which I can only put down to whatever magics brought him into this situation in the first place. He is a little on the thin side but out of the three of you is not only the most healthy but has no problems in his history at all. Its so perfect I can only assume that some powerful magic removed any trace of previous illness or injury. Unfortunately, that also removed any immunities that he had built up including any immunizations he had received," Narcissa responded in exasperated irritation. "After how many times I've had to patch you back together because of one thing or another and this latest upset did you honestly think I'd let you continue to hide?"
"One can hope," Severus said resignedly.
"Be glad that whatever happened cleared out your system overnight, leaving enough traces that I could identify what you were being dosed with," Narcissa snarked.
"I wasn't taking anything," Severus said, his eyebrows furrowed in concern. Narcissa paused for a moment to process that before starting to curse vehemently.
It took a moment for Tom to piece it together, making him scowl and fight not to curse something. He wouldn't tolerate such things for his bondmates. First chance he got the three of them were getting the really good yet expensive potion/poison detection jewelry and wearing it at all times.
"What about Harry?" Tom asked sharply as the idea occurred to him. After all if someone went out of their way to dose Severus with unknown/unwanted potions then they most certainly would have done it to Harry as the Chosen One.
"He was also receiving potions. I was going to speak to Severus separately about the ones that the two of them wouldn't obviously have taken willingly but I also wouldn't put it past him to be using something to keep up with his ridiculous workload. That old goat badly needs to learn that monopolizing everyone's resources, time, and energy as he sees fit is not only bad form but detrimental," Narcissa scowled, aggrieved on her friend's behalf.
"I'm fairly certain he knows but doesn't care," Severus said in a resigned sigh as he took the potions that she handed to him.
A moment of careful examination to double check what it was and that it was properly made passed before Severus swallowed the potion with a grimace, handing off the other two to his bondmates. The woman knew him far too well, he'd never have let them take the potion without it being examined even if it was one of his own brewings. This process repeated several more times as they took their morning medicines.
Tom was on nutrition potions with the other two and had to take his immunization potions. He was lucky in that he was one of the rare few with enough power and constitution not to have side effects from the immunization potions, thus enabling him to take them all at once. Harry wasn't so lucky as to get away with only immunization potions and nutrition potions. Instead he was on a regime that included things like nerve repair/regeneration, bone strengthening, and the over the top nutrition potion designed for victims of long term starvation. Potions for the things his magic had tried to fix in the past but his body simply hadn't had the resources to help fix and that would have eventually killed him as a result. Severus, while not taking quite as many as Harry, was also on nerve regeneration potions at 1 dose every 4 hours for 5 doses. A standard nutrition potion daily for the next two months because of his habit of skipped meals, and a single girding potions to generally help enhance his endurance for the next several weeks.
"Cissy... they found recently broken power blocks on Potter at St. Mungoes," Severus admitted quietly after each of them had taken their potions.
"I know, Cuttlebrink made sure it was on the report," Narcissa said with a deep sigh. "We've had to jointly treat you too often if we're exchanging notes on your outpatient paperwork, not that you don't need to be aware of half or more of what we tell each other any way but... Well, you get hurt far too often for our comfort and won't stay put long enough to let us consult on you properly. Whatever else we are in this complicated political mess we are also your friends. Now that you share a magical bond with our lord the others will have to respect you. At least that should cut down on how often we have treat you, unless Dumbledore ups how often he sends you into dangerous situations."
Severus made a sour face as both younger wizards gave him a sharp look. A quick glance between the two younger boys confirmed that they would be watching the older man to make sure he was taken care of. Nearly the exact same glance that Tom and Severus hadn't needed to agree on the same for Harry, not after their unusual discussion in Salazar's Chamber.
"Incidentally, they finished sending the students home yesterday and no one is quite certain how Dumbledore got wind of you being at St. Mungoes and the DMLE since he was evicted from the school. His focus on Mr. Potter is frightening as is his insistence that he be returned to his family. A proper investigation of the school grounds is needed to re-instate the school. One which Dumbledore is protesting, loudly, about. The odd thing is that the castle isn't responding to anyone at the moment and that fire bird that Dumbledore keeps as a pet very carefully shooed the rest of the staff outside the building before it sealed up. No one is quite sure what happened but the only inhabitants of the castle at the moment are the ghosts, the owls, and the Pheonix," Narcissa informed them. She knew that her friend would want to know that he couldn't access his quarters or his personal potion stores. "The students in the hospital wing arrived at St. Mungoes just before you did and were quickly cured, since someone sensibly had the correct potion in storage. One young girl was nearly hysterical about a basilisk and how they had to help Mr. Potter."
"Hermione!" Harry said happily. "She's the one who figured out the monster in the chamber and how it was moving around the castle."
"~I am not a monster,~" Bailey hissed grumpily, again proving he understood English just fine.
"~He didn't know any better and the legend that he was working from as his information base wasn't exactly clear that you were a guardian or that you were for the defense of the school. Something twisted the legend and made you out to be a weapon to be turned on the children at the drop of a hat... Which is one reason why until your bond shifted to us I thought I was supposed to send you against the muggleborn students,~" Tom hissed his explanation to the basilisk reluctantly. "~I was not... I knew nothing of magic, not even its existence, until I came to school and no one was willing to help me nor did I understand why they would want to. The people who raised me often called me demon and treated me poorly. It is why I am so angry to learn that my bondmates faced the same harm in a different way.~"
"~At least the three of you still live. Master Salazar lost many hatchlings to the hands of the magic-less humans, including some of his own hatchlings and his mate. He was obsessed with keeping the hatchlings safe until they could safely fend for themselves against large groups of those without magic,~" Bailey admitted with a heavy sigh. "~One day after arguing with his friend Godric he went to retrieve another group of hatchlings and simply didn't come home. I felt him die late that evening after the single surviving hatchling arrived with his emergency portkey. I barely got the young one to Helga before passing out from the backlash of his death. She only survived a few days but she was safe and happy for that time.~"
"So, they've been hurting people like us for a long time," Harry said, his voice going harder than that of any 12 year old ever should. Bailey nuzzled him before wrapping protectively around his trio of wizards still on the bed.
"Might I ask what you were talking about my lord?" Narcissa asked politely.
"A brief history lesson," Severus answered absently. The eyes of his friend going wide reminded him that they had been speaking parseltongue and that he hadn't told her yet about this latest development. When her eyes narrowed in devious suspicion it caused the potion master to swallow hard and seriously think about trying to back away slowly if not for being wrapped in 12 year old boys and shrunken serpent.
"Severus?" Narcissa asked suspiciously. Severus shook his head no, making Harry giggle at the by-play.
"I explained some of my own personal history along with why Harry referred to Bailey as a monster. Bailey responded with a story about how protective Salazar Slytherin had been and how he died," Tom summarized calmly. "He also insisted on doing a typical familiar bonding with each of us this morning to supplement the bonds that were already in place from Harry's accidental magic and what happened at Hogwarts. As a result we each can permanently speak parseltongue, if we couldn't already. The bite marks are still there, all healed up with perfect pink scars, Harry's on his shoulder and either of us on a leg."
"~Your hatchlings will also carry the gift and will be able to read what Salazar called written parseltongue,~" Bailey added helpfully. "~He enjoyed writing things in that and I enjoyed watching his friends be baffled by what they called squiggles.~"
"Nice to know," Harry thanked the basilisk happily.
"I will not be accepting assignments in parseltongue from the two of you... I will accept notes, however," Severus said primly. "Should the two of you happen to turn in any assignments in parseltongue I will make you re-write them in English."
"Lucius is going to be incredibly jealous of the two of you and I can't say that I blame him or that I am any better. Draco will be just as jealous. Additionally, Draco is currently downstairs having breakfast and trying to figure out why his favorite godfather/uncle didn't come home with him. He also won't admit to being worried about how Mr. Potter seemed to disappear in the fuss of everyone getting ready to go home," Narcissa responded with unconcealed amusement. Harry made a face and tried to burrow down into the odd puppy pile they had created, eliciting laughter from the Lady Malfoy.
"They... don't get on well," Severus explained somewhat grumpily.
"I don't start it and Ron won't shut up and ignore him!" Came the muffled and indignant voice of Harry from somewhere behind against his two bondmates.
"If he pushes the issue I won't let him get away with anything," Tom warned.
"Of course my lord," Narcissa said softly, regretfully hoping that her son would wise up quickly but unable to be sad that Harry and Severus were so permanently under the man's protection. Deciding it would be safer to change the subject she brought up their potions regime again. "Severus, no one had a strong enough eye correction potion on hand but it was noted that Mr. Potter's poor eye-sight seems to be correctable... and a large liability. The paperwork had a note made to bring it up with the three of you at a more appropriate time than your dodging of Dumbledore was allowing. I know you plan to scan all three of you once you've gotten some time to yourselves but I thought you would appreciate the heads up to double check his eye-sight. You would have needed to custom brew the repair potion in any case."
"If his eye-sight is so atrocious as to need a custom potion... I am going to have to re-grade his entire first and second year and retest him on everything," Severus groaned in mock despair.
"He's also going to be sitting up front from now on and I will partner him," Tom insisted, understanding what the older man wasn't saying. Harry was going to need to be tutored and neither of them would trust someone else to teach him in such a potentially dangerous subject.
"Presuming Hogwarts reopens at all," Lucius rumbled from the doorway where he had lurked for the last several minutes only to finally step into the room.
"But... Hogwarts is my home," Harry said anxiously, popping up from his hiding place in the puppy pile to stare at the blond man in wide eyed horror. Severus sighed and once more pulled the Gryffindor against his chest in a comforting cuddle.
"After the letter Bailey made me write this morning I suspect that we three will be allowed to return to the castle and it will be up to us to decide if it once more becomes a school," Severus rumbled comfortingly.
"Why not?" Tom asked with a shark-like grin and glittering eyes. "As long as they stay out of our quarters and any place we deem off-limits I don't see the problem with letting Hogwarts remain as a school. I'm just not sure I'll let Dumbledore back inside if we really do turn out to own the old pile of bricks."
"Tom!" Harry scolded. He didn't like anyone insulting Hogwarts, he may have to put up with it at the Dursleys but not here, not with his bondmates.
"Relax Harry, I didn't mean that in a mean way," Tom shot back with a roll of his eyes. "The fact is it would solve more problems than it would cause and they couldn't throw us out no matter what we did. We wouldn't have to put up with dorms or people trying to separate us or Dumbledore making us go places that would get us hurt. They couldn't take it away, ever."
Harry's eyes lit up in understanding and delight at the idea. Severus had a hard time not smiling in a mirror of Harry's evident happiness at the possibility.
"You three are far too adorable," Narcissa mused, fighting the urge to squee over his cuteness. "I am so glad that I finally got Flitwick to give me that memory to photo charm he developed."
"Don't you dare," Severus threatened his friend menacingly even as his eyes never left Harry's happy face. Narcissa just laughed as she ushered her husband out of the room so the trio could get dressed and come down to breakfast.
Chapter 5: Dragon's Inquisition
The moment the three of them walked into the dinning room Draco's eyes went wide in shock. For once he didn't try to assert himself immediately and took a moment to study the situation. Something was weird about this, completely aside from the fact that he didn't recognize the brown-eyed boy, they stayed too close together and Potter actually looked... comfortable and possibly happy for once. The fact that his green-eyed yearmate was wearing his old clothes didn't bother him in the least, it was actually a major improvement over the other boy's usual rags. Then there was the suppressed danger that practically rolled off of the new boy. Whatever this was Draco wasn't sure he wanted to know but he was also aware that he probably needed to know.
"Potter? Not that I mind, considering some of the implications, but why are you here? And why have you monopolized my godfather? For that matter why isn't he snarking at you like usual?" Draco asked in a mixture of wariness and intense curiosity. The surprised look on the other boy's face told Draco that he'd thought the insults would start flying the moment they entered the same room.
"I'll answer you question for question," Harry suggested, unconsciously scooting somewhat to the side so that he was shielded at all times by one or the other of his companions.
"Alright, you go first," Draco agreed, fighting not to frown at this timid behavior in the supposedly brave lion. After all he'd only ever tried to get his attention it just usually degenerated into nasty arguments because Weasley couldn't keep his mouth shut.
"Why won't you just leave us alone? At school I mean," Harry asked, frustration obvious in his voice even as he stayed somewhat behind Snape before sitting down between his two bondmates.
"You won't talk to me. I tried being nice on the train and everything. You won't even look at me unless I insult you or Weasley starts something," Draco admitted, drooping a bit in sadness that was quickly covered up. A flash of odd satisfaction flashed through the blond as he saw the absolute surprise on Harry's face in reaction to his answer.
"That's because you acted like my cousin Dudley... he likes to hurt me. I also don't have a lot, like the Weasleys. You have to simply make due with what you have and make it last as long as you can. You can't simply go out and buy more if you don't have the money to pay for it. In fact the Weasleys have more than I do or they did until Hagrid took me to my vault before first year. I'll have to be careful if I want it to last until I'm done school," Harry explained somewhat cautiously. He wasn't sure how Draco would weaponize the information if things went wrong from this apparent tentative truce. He also wasn't sure he should be trusting the other boy but they had made a deal.
The tinkle of glass from the direction of the Malfoy Lord and Lady startled the boys from their intense focus on the conversation and reminded them of their audience. When they looked they found that all of the glassware within 18 in. of each of them had broken and were now being put back together by the two elder blonds. Tom and Severus flashed an impressed look at the two before going back to pretending they hadn't seen the minor slip in control.
"Sorry, lost our tempers just a bit. Severus, have you considered taking the boys to Gringotts today? Just to confirm that everything is in order and the goblins didn't forget to give Harry anything on his last visit?" Narcissa asked as lightly as she could manage, banking the rage she felt at Harry's mistreatment in favor of later use.
"I hadn't but in retrospect it would probably be a good idea," Severus agreed with a heavy sigh, easily understanding what she was getting at. "Perhaps a trip out into muggle London as well, get them both muggle clothes for their wardrobe? So far we haven't run into any penalties for being too far from one another but we may have to do a little testing before heading out into London."
"Bailey doesn't seem to be having any trouble going far enough to hunt for his breakfast... once he was certain that we were getting our own meal. That snake has some odd ideas about what humans need to be healthy. I can only guess at what he learned with his last master," Tom offered up, musing a bit at the way the Basilisk had complained about their wardrobe and the lack of bladed weapons being hidden in their clothes. Apparently, Salazar not only was a knife fighter but also preferred them to his wand in close quarter fights.
"Ask Harry your question Draco," Severus ordered in a tone that completely lacked any venom, trying to get the conversation away from the basilisk's odd ideas. He also wasn't sure this little bargain between the two was a good idea.
"My question has a bunch of pieces so I'm gonna say the question and the pieces I most want," Draco explained carefully.
"Draco," Narcissa warned.
"Okay, okay! Just the one question for one question... What happened? I mean what lead to you being here and everything?" Draco asked trying to get as much information as possible for his single question.
Tom chuckled with evil mirth but gestured for Harry to go ahead and answer the question. Harry took a drink of his juice, trying to delay answering before gathering his courage and doing just that.
"Ron and I figured out where the Chamber of Secrets was and went to Lockheart to show him so that he could rescue Ron's sister. He was packing up to run away. We asked why and he bragged about stealing the stories from other people before promising that we wouldn't remember. I managed to hit him with a disarming spell while he was being fancy with what he was trying to hit us with," Harry started the story hesitantly.
"I should have made him crawl back up to Myrtle's bathroom," Severus grumbled, quickly subsiding under Tom's amused glare so that Harry could continue his story.
"We decided that we had to try and get Ginny anyway. So we took him with us to check the Chamber. We went to Myrtle's bathroom and I opened the secret passage with the parseltongue password. Ron was worried about nasty surprises on the slide. So we pushed Lockheart in first, he was fine so we went. He tried getting one of our wands but didn't until he pretended to faint when we found the shed snake skin. He tried to erase our memories but he had grabbed Ron's broken wand and it backfired. The magic knocked him into the ceiling while it took all his memories, making the roof come down. I was trapped closer to the Chamber while Ron was trapped on the slide side with Lockheart. I decided to try and find Ginny while Ron tried to make a way back for us," Harry continued, reluctantly, hoping he wouldn't get in trouble for any of this.
"So we won't need to visit Lockheart since Harry managed to handle him, if a bit clumsily," Tom chuckled evilly. Harry blushed hotly but was happy that Tom was not only concerned for him but actually taking his side. Severus showed his own concern by tucking Harry under his arm while they all listened to the tale and ate breakfast.
"I found the door to the Chamber and opened it. Just like we thought Ginny was inside. Tom showed up when I tried to wake her up... Professor Snape showed up later..." Harry told them, not really going into the other things. He really wasn't keen on admitting being terrified or how badly he had bungled the entire confrontation.
"That can't be all!" Draco argued in a mix of betrayal and disappointment.
"Of course not but there are somethings that aren't his to tell about his little trip into the Chamber," Tom covered smoothly with obvious amusement. "Once we're done eating we have to talk to your parents about boring parent and grown up stuff. I'll tell you a secret before I share it with the rest of Slytherin house if you let us talk in peace and without having to worry about you snooping?"
Draco nodded his eager agreement and promptly shoved the last of his breakfast into his mouth, swallowing hard before waiting attentively. Tom laughed softly as the three full grown magic users stifled their own amusement. Harry watched in an odd mix of curiosity and jealousy, keeping his head ducked as he forced himself to focus on his food.
"Harry stood up to me when he realized that I was the one to take Ginny. What he didn't know until later was that he was my real target. I called Slytherin's monster to munch on him because I thought he was going to try to hurt me. Dumbledore sent his pet to Harry with the Sorting Hat and Harry managed to pull Gryffindor's Sword out of the ratty old hat. Then Harry did something else important, he spoke in parseltongue. What did you say again Harry?" Tom asked with a smirk. Harry mumbled something unintelligible to the currently rapt audience only for Tom to translate with a wider smirk. "Harry told me that he didn't want to fight, that he had only come to rescue his friend's sister. I asked if he was willing to bargain like a Slytherin and he not only said yes, he admitted that he had to argue the hat out of putting him in Slytherin!"
"Indeed?" Severus asked with sharp interest as all three Malfoys drew in sharp breaths of shock. Harry ducked his head further and tried to disappear into his chair while burrowing into Severus' side.
"What else?!" Draco demanded eagerly.
"I took the sword away from him and made him explain. So when my hand slipped to touch his skin and I felt my magic sing. Harry passed out from the feeling at the same time that a part of the Chamber's magic activated, binding him to me. He didn't wake back up until Severus showed up to try and take him away from me. I didn't know his muggles had been hurting him yet and his magic decided it wanted to come out to play. Harry tried to protect us from his accidental magic but didn't get very far away. When it burst from him his magic apparently really liked us and Slytherin's old basilisk familiar but not the girl because it latched on to us and had us help anchor him. Potter belongs to the two of us now and the basilisk is our familiar," Tom said smugly. The two elder Malfoys gave a mixed look of awe and concern. Severus rubbed the back of a bright red Harry soothingly, reminding him of their earlier discussion and comfort.
"The muggles were hurting him?! I thought those were just stupid rumors!" Draco proclaimed in dismay.
"What rumors Dragon?" Narcissa asked in a softly dangerous tone that every female Black learned at a young age. Draco, Lucius, and Severus all either gulped or fought not to; The woman was scary like this.
"You know, rumors. Rumors that he didn't have proper clothes other than his uniform, that he didn't know all the pureblood stuff that he was supposed to have learned with his tutors. Rumors that he lived in a cupboard under the stairs and didn't get enough to eat. There was one that said he didn't even eat a half plate at the opening feast only to get sick after in first year and almost did the same this year," Draco responded quickly.
"Which explains some of the results on his medical chart and why we had to create a completely new chart using the full history charm," Narcissa breathed, fighting to keep her temper under control.
"He's not going back and I have irrevocable custody of the both of them since the bond won't let us separate far anyway," Severus said in a mixture of tightly controlled protective fury and relief.
"Unless someone de-ages you to the same age or younger and finds a way to take custody of all three of you," Lucius pointed out his friend's obvious flaw of logic.
"Then we shall have to rectify that option and ensure we don't go somewhere unsuitable," Tom decided judiciously. "I refuse to give Dumbledore or anyone else that opening."
"Gringotts then? And perhaps a statement made to thee paper about the bond and our choice of Guardians to make certain that anyone else who tries gets charged with kidnapping and has to give us up?" Severus suggested with a moue of distaste.
"Do I have to tell everyone about the Dursleys?" Harry asked in a terrified squeak.
"What? No, of course not," Tom soothed, quickly doing his best to quell Harry's building panic as Severus continued to hug him. "We can just say that someone in the muggle world was hurting you and a wizard was covering it up. So we have to make sure everyone knows where we are supposed to go in case the bond starts randomly making Severus younger to match our ages. Like what I did with the potion so I wouldn't have to leave you. I'm still something like 16, just my body is 12 so we can stay together better. We can even make them check anyone else who tries to get us under a truth serum so they can't lie."
"You promised I won't have to go back," Harry reminded them uneasily. He was truly terrified of going back now that he had the chance to escape his personal hellhole. The feeling was strong enough to leak into the bond, summoning Bailey from his hunt and alerting his bondmates to his terror.
"You won't be going back and if someone tries to force you back we'll come and get you," Narcissa said firmly. Everyone nodded their firm agreement allowing Harry to relax and regain a marginal sense of safety.
"~Who has threatened my Harry hatchling?!~" Bailey demanded as he slithered furiously into the room looking wildly around for threats to his three wizards.
"~Harry got scared when we talked about explaining to people that someone has been hurting him and who we are supposed to stay with if I start getting young to match Tom and Harry,~" Severus answered in parseltongue, making the eyes of his godson go wide in shock and awed jealousy. "~If we do this right no one will hurt him again.~"
"~Acceptable,~" Bailey agreed reluctantly as he calmed down. "~Whoever scared Harry hatchling owes me food.~"
Severus grumbled about the food comment but obediently summoned several of his most plump test rabbits from his lab within the manor. He very carefully fed them to the hungry basilisk as Bailey opted to curl up at the feet of his three new wizards while breakfast finished.
Chapter 6: Kidnapping Attempt Num 1
Another chapter for this Christmas, man I'm on a roll. To think I've been writing on my new tablet, a gift from a relative.
I Don't know about you but I'm having fun with this!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Harry was reeling as he walked into Gringotts with the Malfoys and his two bondmates. He could hardly believe he wasn't dreaming. A rescue mission to save both his place at Hogwarts and Ron's little sister had turned into something he couldn't put a name to but it was something he would fight to keep. Yes, it bonded bonded him to Snape and a younger version of Voldemort. The miracle to Harry was that it really looked like he was never going back to Private Drive and that he'd had found someone that cared what happened to him beyond being the Chosen One.
Harry didn't snap out of his daze until someone tried to grab him from behind. An undignified squawk brought a pair of snarling bondmates down on whoever had grabbed him. The scuffle was more than enough to alert the bank guards but as the group was separated the bond tightened, dragging the bondmates together. Harry didn't see Bailey but furious hissing from inside Tom's robes told him were the basilisk was. The guards abruptly stiffened at the feel off the magic and the sound of Bailey's hissing. The three bondmates were corralled together away from Harry's assailants near where the Malfoys stood, wands drawn on whoever had grabbed Harry.
"Where do you get off just grabbing people?!" Draco demanded indignantly, waving his wand aggressively. Harry could see from his position wrapped up with his glaring bondmates that the blond was truly angry, though he wasn't sure why.
"Kid that brat tried to pick my pocket," the large brown wizard snarled, his smaller companion nodding in confirmation.
"Why would Harry Potter need or want to steal from the likes of you? Especially, as the last heir to one of the richest families in our world?" Lucius sneered.
"What?!" Harry exclaimed, his head whipping around to stare at the pureblood Lord in shock.
"This is one of the reasons we needed to visit Gringotts," Tom explained quietly to Harry. "Something is obviously weird about your accounts. Severus would have still needed to talk to them about our accounts because of our change in guardianship."
The Goblin guards stiffened at the apparent insult but true to the bank's discretion policy they made no obvious move to give away what they had heard. Instead it was their slight shift in stance that told the tellers that this group would need to be spoken to in private. The fact that they hadn't broken any rules nor attacked the guards was shown in the fact that they were still breathing instead of bleeding out on the bank floor.
"Potter? That kid isn't Potter," the big idiot laughed meanly. "I'd be doing him a favor to buy him a meal at the leaky from how bony he felt under those rich robes you dressed him in. There is no way in hell that the Potter brat would be anywhere near starved like this kid, not with the money he's got and the tutoring in our ways he's been fed along with it."
"That's part of the problem, all of you have been listening to the tales Dumbledore has been spouting but not once did any of you try to talk to Potter did you?" Tom sneered, casually brushing the bangs out of Harry's eyes and revealing his famous scar to everyone. This unexpected proof of his identity set the watchers to whispering.
"Mr. Potter?" one of the goblins asked politely.
"Yes Griphook?" Harry asked, recognizing the goblin and startling everyone else at the feat in the process.
"Do you happen to have your key this time?" Griphook asked solicitously.
"Sorry, no, I think Mrs. Weasley still has it unless she gave it back to Professor Dumbledore," Harry admitted. His uncertainty bothered nearly everyone but the clueless Harry.
"Did you ever give anyone permission to take money from your vault?" Griphook asked in sudden concern.
"No, I didn't," Harry answered, self-consciously shifting between foot to foot before trying to reassure everyone. "I also didn't take anything from that guy. He just grabbed me and tried to pull me with him. His grip wasn't as hard as my uncle so I shouldn't need to favor it too much until later."
"You shouldn't need to favor it at all," Severus growled, glaring harder at the two wizards.
"I really want to curse him," Tom muttered furiously, his borrowed wand's tip blazing with latent power.
"Should have waited until they were out of thee bank to try grabbing the kid," the smaller wizard said grumpily only to be smacked by his taller partner.
The goblins took this as an admission of guilt and hauled the two away, releasing Harry's group to rejoin the other patrons waiting for a teller to help them. Wands quickly disappeared back into their holsters and business just as quickly returned to normal. Griphook collected Harry and his group before leading them to a private conference room with two of the earlier guards trailing behind them.
Ideas always welcome!
Chapter 7: Griphook
God really likes you people to give me such great inspiration for this fluffy fic. Enjoy! Happy Holidays!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Harry was curious and surprised by the simple, nearly plain, conference room. The wood paneling from waist up reminded Harry of the smooth inside of an ancient weathered tree. Where as below the waist the walls and floor was smooth icy flowing bowl of stone. Both were broken only by the carved ebony door and the rich yet simple redwood long table with matching carved chairs.
Griphook led them into the room and took the seat at the head of the table. Once everyone was seated, the Malfoys on one side with the bonded trio on the other, the door locked magically. The lock snicking into place startled Harry but he stayed calm and took his cue from his unruffled bondmates, forcing his nervousness into a false relaxation.
"One of you expressed dissatisfaction with our services during the earlier confrontation. We at Gringotts would like to address this first before moving on to further business," Griphook said, opening the discussion.
"I was the one to speak, it was less dissatisfaction and more confusion of how Harry's accounts have been handled. My words were an explanation of my concern and informational for my bondmate. They were not meant as a criticism against Gringotts or the goblin people as I can remember excellent dealings previously. I honestly hope that this is a mistake or something forced by the ministry for I would not wish to see your people dishonored," Tom explained earnestly. Something he had learned when he first came to the bank alone at age eleven was that goblins are very protective of children and to never piss them off. It was the exact same memory that kept his elder self from antagonizing them.
"In what way were you confused by your bondmate's finances? We will of course need to document your bond to avoid future confusion with your related status," Griphook asked toothily.
"What concerns us is that our bondmate doesn't appear to know anything about his inheritance and resources nor has he apparently held his key," Severus rumbled with a frown.
"Are you also Harry James Potter's bondmate?" Griphook asked suspiciously.
"Yes, don't look at me like that it was Harry's magic that picked who to bond with," Severus huffed. Bailey picked that exact moment to poke his head out of Tom's robes and look around, licking the air curiously.
"Is that... a basilisk?" Griphook asked, suddenly quite pale.
"Meet the other member of our bond," Severus drawled, smirking at the goblin.
"~Tell the little snack goblin who I am and who my last wizard was,~" Bailey instructed smugly as he snuggled against Tom's neck.
"Bailey asked us to inform you that his last wizard was Salazar Slytherin. We discovered him in Salazar's Chamber at Hogwarts. After we bonded I used Parsel magic to shrink him. He formed the more traditional familiar bond with the three of us this morning and ensured that we could all speak to him," Tom explained while petting the basilisk and smirking like a cliched Bond villain.
"Perhaps we should back up a moment and establish who everyone is and exactly what assets are potentially being discussed?" Griphook requested, clearly off balance. "We can sort out the bond status as we confirm identity and accounts."
"Severus... if you need me to help out... well you are Draco's godfather," Lucius pointed out calmly.
"Noted... and appreciated. Regardless of the outcome of today's visit we may impose on your hospitality for some little time yet," Severus admitted. He fully appreciated the thinly veiled offer of assistance before putting it aside and turning his mind back to the official discussion.
"If it makes you feel any better none of this had happened yesterday morning," Harry offered weakly.
Griphook took a deep bracing breath before nodding sharply in a mix of acknowledgement and determination before actually addressing them once more. "This... is going to be a nightmare to sort out and I suddenly dread whatever we will uncover in regards to Mr. Potter's accounts. That said we will sort it out and make arrangements to ensure that whatever is finally agreed upon is as solid as the goblin nation can make it. The downside is going to be the amount of time and paperwork doing so is going to take. In light of Lord Malfoy's offered support I recommend requesting a goblin Lawyer to be hired to address the likely legal entanglements this process will uncover."
"~I agree but I get to eat him if he isn't good enough,~" Bailey grumbled, having never liked lawyers any more than Salazar did. Harry stifled a giggle as Tom soothed their grumpy basilisk.
"The Malfoy family will pay for your two best Barristers to take on their case," Lucius said promptly.
Draco stiffened as he remembered Harry's knack for finding trouble that worried his father. "Father? You may want to keep someone for other times Harry needs help too. He... finds things that the teachers can't or won't do anything about and as much as I bugged him Harry is really good at finding and fixing it. He also... gets hurt protecting people or attacked... a lot. I caught Uncle Sev one time cursing about him finding danger too much and Dumbledore not letting him do more to keep everyone safe."
"When?" Harry asked curiously.
"Just before the game Uncle Sev refereed in first year. I figured as another Qudditch player I could sort of watch after you on the pitch and if I was mean about saying something I wouldn't get in trouble for helping you. It would just look like I was trying to get you in trouble while the teachers would look at whatever it was seriously. I've caught them not listening to you when they would listen to someone else about the same thing and you're usually spot on. If I'm extra mean about it they look at it and keep everyone out of the way until its fixed. It doesn't always work but it works often enough that I use it sparingly," Draco admitted uncomfortably. Harry's furious blush added credence to the report, much to the exasperation of his bondmates.
"That's my Dragon," Lucius said in quiet pride. Draco beamed, pleased that he'd done the right thing.
"Very well. Please add a single drop of blood to the parchment in front of you to confirm identity. A further in depth confirmation may occur at a later time," Griphook said indicating the parchments and small blades that magically appeared in front of Harry, Severus, and Tom.
Tom and Severus had no problem obeying but Harry's hand slipped allowing a near flood of blood to cover his parchment. Both of his bondmates cursed, reaching for him and mingling their blood. Bailey hissed something sharp in parseltongue to heal them but the unintentional magic had already taken hold. They each had felt a tug on their cores but the biggest draw was on Harry's core. A bare whimper left his lips as half of his magic instantly disappeared down the bond, forcefully expanding their cores slightly. At the same time the magic ran rampant healing and rejuvenating everything it could reach inside the three of them.
Harry had felt things he could tell weren't bone snapping deep inside his chest, making him gasp for breath. Severus grunted in pain as his body was forced into a younger, healthier state. While Tom hissed as the magic forced him into being the main body of all the soul pieces and thus both more solid and stable than before.
While this was happening both Severus' and Tom's parchments listed their names and the names of their parents along with their new bondmate status. It also listing the names of their bondmates. Tom's had an additional note indicating his reconstituted status and original horcrux status. The horcrux status had a subcategory listing Voldemort's status as a wraith and completely insane.
This status listing for Voldemort and the reality of Tom's presence led to the triggering of part of Voldemort's will, giving Tom complete authority as if he were the original. This transfer of authority was permanent and listed the other pieces of the man's soul as the equivalent of older brothers with Tom being the Head of the Family and the current Lord.
Harry's parchment listed his bondmates, himself, and his parents but it didn't stop there. Instead it kept going and going and going until it listed more than six generations back on both sides of his family. Off to one side Sirius was listed as both Godfather and blood adoptive parent, listing back almost as many generations as Harry's birth parents had on the parchment.
The Malfoys with Griphook stared in shock as all of this was happening. Draco snorted in wry amusement and snapped them out of their stupors with his next words.
"Only you Potter, only you. If you hurt my Godfather the hell you went through this year is going to be nothing on what I'll put you through," Draco threatened.
"Draco!" Narcissa scolded, she didn't want her son cursing, the threat was just standard Malfoy protective behavior with family. Draco gave her a flat yet somehow still sheepish look.
"Hey! Look! We're cousins!" Draco exclaimed, noticing the Black family name on Harry's paperwork.
"Well at least you don't regularly try to break me like my other cousin does," Harry joked in a wary yet wry amusement that didn't amuse anyone else. Griphook quickly collected and reviewed the magical parchments, now magically clean of blood, in an attempt to get back in more familiar territory.
"Gringotts will be launching an investigation into Mr. Potter's previous living conditions due to obviously missed irregularities. As Master Snape could now potentially be viewed as underage, if only temporarily, we would like to inquire as to your housing preference. Regardless, your certifications will be re-issued after a quick check. Due to the transfer of authority and identity Mr. Riddle still officially has his O.W.L.s, N.E.W.T.s, and several Masters. These will, again, be re-issued. We would also like to inquire if your familiar would allow you to harvest an ingredient or two for the goblin nation to purchase and if Master Snape would be willing to brew a select few potions for us?" Griphook inquired and informed the bondmates.
"~On condition that should I come to them for help on your behalf they will aid us,~" Bailey hissed judiciously. Tom relayed this quickly and efficiently.
"Agreed," Griphook confirmed, making a note on the paperwork.
"I would like to keep my standard contract. Please be aware that due to my youthened condition I may be interfered with or need to brew on the bank grounds," Severus warned. He was a bit off balance from his transformation but did his best not to show it or let it affect the discussion.
"That can be accommodated," Griphook agreed easily, making another note.
"We would prefer to stay with the Malfoy family as they are already aware of our situation. They also have previously established ties with all three of us to varying degrees," Tom said firmly.
"I hate this age," Severus grumbled, making Harry stifle a laugh.
The green-eyed brat could feel himself getting very tired from whatever magic happened with their blood. He knew from experience that he could force himself to stay awake and working so said nothing to the others. It was Bailey who gave him away.
"~I can smell your fatigue Harry hatchling. Inform the blond ones so that you may have a place to rest if we cannot return to Severus' temporary nest in their den,~" Bailey instructed with a long suffering sigh. Harry flushed in embarrassment and stubbornly said nothing.
Severus gave a heavy sigh and before Harry could move he was being scanned by his snarky bondmate. A quick glance at the results earned a dis-approving grunt and the strong arms of a shrunken Potions Master wrapped around Harry, pulling him into the other wizard's side. Tom smirked at Harry's token grumble that turned into a relieved sigh as he slid into an easy doze while talk continued around him.
"We can take these parchments and run checks on all of your accounts. To further simplify this I need to know if you have granted control or access to any assets to anyone," Griphook requested in a quieter tone so as to not disturb Harry. "I believe Mr. Potter's earlier comments clarified his position nicely and his extended paperwork will allow us to check further than normal for any inheritance assets."
"I have limited access to Severus' accounts for minor investments and require confirmation from him for anything larger than 100 galleons," Lucius offered.
"Aside from the limited access that I grant Lucius no one should have any access to my accounts in any capacity until the bond snapped into place yesterday. Anyone claiming otherwise is lying and/or found a way to trick us," Severus confirmed.
Griphook nodded and checked the stack of files on the accounts of the three that had appeared while they were distracted by Harry. He was calm and confident until he came across something and froze. Everyone, bar a sleepy Harry, immediately focused on the suddenly upset goblin.
"Trouble?" Tom asked mildly, absently shrinking Severus' clothes to fit on his now smaller body.
"Just Dumbledore over stepping again and another traitorous idiot to find," Griphook said angrily. A sharp motion invoked something turning their files bright red with a single stripe of birds egg blue. "Your accounts appear to have been tampered with. The evidence points to an ongoing investigation thus the costs fall upon the bank. Due to the size of your combined accounts you will be awarded 5 million galleons for the inconvenience and immediate use in a new vault while we clear and audit your accounts."
"I don't like the sound of that," Draco voiced what they were all thinking.
"Until the accounts are reviewed they will be locked down as will any other assets attributed to the three of you on our records. This is to prevent further misuse of large amounts of currency and any known or unknown Wizengamot seats that may be in question. Should a Wizengamot seat be in question the exact time period will be determined and the relevant laws called up for re-vote. The re-vote will occur in an emergency session called by the bank with a goblin contingent present to prevent... issues," Griphook explained, sliding their new vault key over to the now adorable bonded trio plus basilisk. "The bank will cover the reasonable cost of your lodgings until we can free up your properties and accounts. I apologize for the inconvenience. This new vault is clean and will be appropriately merged with your accounts upon completion of the audit. Please use the new vault however you would normally."
"We thank Gringotts for their prompt assistance in this matter," Tom said graciously, collecting the key from the table.
Griphook tapped the table, sending a magical tingling scan across all of them. Once it was done a file of certificates appeared in front of Tom and Severus respectively, confirming test scores and Masters. The necessary extra documents to keep the trio with the Malfoys sat in front of Lucius. Harry just snuggled up closer to Severus and slipped deeper into sleep.
"They're coming back to the manor with us... right?" Draco asked uncertainly.
"Yes Dragon but we have to get some clothes soon," Severus pointed out with a sigh.
"Both I and Harry needed some anyway," Tom said ruefully. "I mean have you seen the rags those muggles make him wear? I can tell he takes very good care of them whenever he can just by the repairs. I saw the same thing in London during the blitz so I can't believe the damage was done willingly on his part."
"Noted," Griphook said grimly, making another note on Harry's file.
Harry was gently woken and the odd group made their way back out of the bank.
The first thing that happened after leaving the bank was Narcissa dragging them all towards Twiflit and Tatlings for new wardrobes.
"Narcissa, you know we can't afford Twiflit's prices, especially since we don't know how long or how completely we will have have to live off of the compensation alone. I may not be able to brew, Harry doesn't yet have the rest of his education, and I have no idea what expenses we will have to cover until I can brew for our income," Severus protested viciously. He was being dragged along by his friend as his two amused bondmates, who had recognized the futility of objecting, trailed along just behind them with the Malfoy men.
"Severus Tobias Snape, I have been trying to get you out of mourning black for years. I will concede on the color for your professional grade brewing robes and general over robes. Everything else has to have some sort of visible color. If I have to have Lucius blood adopt you as our son for it to happen I will. Besides you won't be paying for any of it and don't you dare consider living anywhere but the manor with us," Narcissa informed him just as stubborn as her young again friend.
"Give it up Severus. You'll never beat out my wife over this," Lucius called with a laugh that had passersby staring at the normally reserved man. Severus grumbled and argued the entire way but gave up on trying to rip his arm free from her vice-like grip.
"She's been arguing with Uncle Sev about his clothes ever since I was little," Draco admitted, fighting a giggle he knew Snape would never forgive him for.
"Sooo, hiding what black clothes she does let him have?" Harry asked his new cousin mischievously. Draco beamed happily and quickly agreed.
"Don't go overboard on pranking him. Several Gryffindors made his life hell during school with really nasty pranks and his family... wasn't the best," Lucius warned softly so that his friend might not hear.
"Lucius!" Severus yelled furiously, making the man jerk up to look at him guiltily.
"Its alright. I know what isn't funny. Dudley used to do it to me all the time," Harry managed to both reassure and disturb the older wizard.
"Again I say he isn't going back," Tom muttered softly so that only Lucius could hear.
"Agreed," Lucius murmured back just as quietly as they finally arrived at the shop.
Severus got a firm grip on the door frame and tried his best not to be dragged into the shop. Harry, Draco, Tom, and Lucius watched the tug of war between the two old friends in amusement. None of them had any doubt who would win with Severus' half hearted escape attempts versus Narcissa's stubborn insistence.
"Want to bet if we can get a dorm room together?" Draco asked eagerly.
"Unlikely," Tom drawled. "Harry, Severus, and I need to stay together because of the magic of the bond. We also still don't know if Hogwarts is even going to open again."
"Oh, well at least we get to spend the summer together," Draco concluded happily.
"I think the bond is somewhat flexible but we still don't know what all of its properties are nor its limits," Tom warned. "That means we have to be careful in case the bond kicks in for some reason. With out knowing more we need to be certain that the bond doesn't accidentally kill us."
"That would be bad," Draco agreed, paling at the thought of loosing his godfather and new cousin turned friend.
"Lucius!" came Narcissa's irritated voice at the same time that she managed to pull Severus into the shop with a squawk of surprise. This sent Harry and Draco off into gales of laughter as the rest of the group quickly followed the still arguing duo inside.
Ideas always welcome!
Chapter 8: Tailor Troubles
Happy Christmas Eve!
"No," Severus said flatly. The purple and pink monstrosity that his friend was holding up to torment him with was trying very hard to suffocate him with its ruffles.
"No?" Narcissa asked mildly, smirking the entire time.
"That, that... thing isn't fit to be worn by any male," Severus growled, fighting not to snap out an incendio at the horrid set of dress robes that was being waved in his face.
"As I said before, either you help pick out the colors that you will actually wear or you will be wearing this purple and pink set of dress robes. You will wear them out of the shop, down Diagon in broad daylight, and to the next party we host for the entire night. I am buying you an entire new wardrobe, top of the line brewing and dueling robes included. Lucius has already set aside and stocked you a top of the line potions lab at the manor in previous years for you to play with," Narcissa threatened quite seriously. "Choose!"
"Vicious woman... how do you put up with her when she gets into a proper strop?" Tom asked in honest interest.
"She is a Black, of course she's vicious when she chooses to be. As for surviving her? I'm just the fool who fell in love with her. Its not like I have any control of the woman," Lucius answered wryly. "I'm simply glad that she isn't intent on draining my vaults on anything and everything."
"Good answer dear but not entirely true, though I appreciate the flattery," Narcissa said with a sweet/sappy sigh of happiness before again turning on Severus.
"Impossible woman... alright, alright, Alright! Shades of green going to the darker greens, silver, blue through the darker blues, red - accents only mind, and indigo - that mix of dark blue and minimal dark purple color. I refuse to wear anything as cheery as yellow, as... female as pink, or as eye burning as orange," Severus demanded, caving in in his own surly fashion. There was clapping from the other four males in their group, admiring how she had gotten her way and how long their fellow male had withstood the fashion torture. She had threatened him with increasingly mortifying pieces of clothing for a good thirty minutes before finally caving.
"I want to see him in Blood Red, Dark Green, and Dark Blue," Tom volunteered.
"Traitor!" Severus accused as he submitted fussily to his first proper fitting of the trip.
"Don't you like clothes?" Harry asked with false innocence.
"It isn't the clothes I object to. Its the colors, the forced rounds of dress up, and the cost of this place. Its too easy for robes to get ruined in a potions classroom and I simply don't have the ridiculous amount of galleons that Lucius does. With the way I was tricked and trapped into teaching I couldn't even argue for the full salary that the rest of the staff gets," Severus admitted miserably. "I spend the money to get good brewing robes and add additional enchantments for safety reasons."
"Completely aside from needing your own good brewing equipment and top ingredients to brew properly. Its a wonder that most of your money comes from brewing and adjusting or creating potions. Sev, you hardly need me buying you supplies anymore. It is one of the very reasons that old goat you call a Headmaster took advantage of your grief in the first place. You have been one of the best and youngest Masters of your craft before you even completed your schooling. I was more than happy to pay for your apprenticeship and the testing for your official Mastery. On top of that you came to our lord willingly. Dumbledore only protected you from Azkaban because he managed to get something over you. I still wish you would tell me what it is so I could help you," Lucius pointed out with a sad smile.
"Luc, its no longer quite as powerful of a hold as he believes,"' Severus consoled softly.
"~And what is that hold?~" Tom hissed in a softly dangerous tone of parseltongue that reminded both of them of the crazed dangerous wizard he had once become.
"~I begged for the life of Lily Potter nee Evans from both the elder you and Dumbledore. After that night... well the end result was the oath to protect Harry and my unexpected employment at Hogwarts under a long term contract,~" Severus explained, blushing in shame.
"~We already discussed it briefly in the Chamber but its clear that we may have to address it again. Thank you for being honest. I was not looking forwards to punishing you,~" Tom explained with a satisfied nod.
"Good, its not his fault anyway," Harry said in equally satisfied English, telling the others Severus wasn't in trouble.
"I am aware," Tom drawled back, accepting the language change without a blink of an eye.
"I don't think we'll get Uncle Sev out of dark colors but they always make him look really pale," Draco commented judiciously. He studied Severus in his half fitted navy blue robes with deep forest green embroidery that resembled pine branches and pine needles far into the forest.
Harry hummed his agreement before dashing over to pull a similar patterned robe. This one had a black base color and the same over lapping pine bow patterns in the same shade of green with silver leafy vines embroidered along the edges as trim.
"I think this one would look good on him but the blood red ones that Tom wants him to wear will need to fade to black for a proper scary look. He's going to need to be extra scary if he's going to stay a Professor. I wonder if there is a spell or something that would let him float so he can hide up high or one that will let him stick to the walls while he climbs. The dark green would look good too but he's kind of known for wearing black. We don't want to shock everyone too much. The colors should all shift to black or be a dark pattern," Harry pointed out. Narcissa thought his look of concentration was just adorable and had to bite her lip to keep from squealing or cooing over him.
"Consider this, he appears to be physically 12 or 13. If your bodies age normally than you will need more clothes in less than a year. I am willing to let you have all black for the rest if you take and actually wear the three, blue, green, and blood red, that have already been picked out," Lucius suggested, earning a scowl from his wife and an honest smile from Severus.
"On condition that we blood adopt him," Narcissa conceded grumpily. Neither wizard gave her a chance to change her mind, they immediately started the short ritual variation for adults adopting adults with full understanding of the situation.
"Severus Tobias Snape, I would have you as family in blood even as you have proven to be family in all other ways. Do you accept the consequences of becoming my younger brother in every way?" Lucius asked formally.
"I do," Severus said confidently reaching out to grasp the other man's forearm and allowing their magic to mingle and merge.
The Malfoy family magic surged, examining and testing the two of them before settling inside both and accepting the adoption. In 3 hours Severus's blood would have finished changing, making him irrevocably a Malfoy in blood as well as magic. The magic filled out and filed the paperwork automatically at both the bank and the ministry, ending the ceremony and making it completely legal.
"Brother? I was rather hoping for a son," Narcissa asked in clear amusement.
"But then he wouldn't be Uncle Sev anymore," Draco argued reasonably, getting the two suddenly sweating brothers off the hook.
"Alright. Harry? Tom? Your turn for clothes," Narcissa instructed mischievously, ushering the two up on to the two open fitting stands.
"Can I have a green robe? It doesn't have to be fancy or anything," Harry asked shyly.
"Just one green robe? Harry you're getting a bunch of robes," Draco protested, hurt that his new friend thought so little of them.
"I don't want to be a burden," Harry mumbled, looking at his feet in the very shame he had been taught to have by the actions of all of Private Dr.
"Burden? Why would you be that? I thought you were a wizard, even if you are a stupidly brave Gryffindor," Draco shifted from confusion to scowling at the thought of Gryffindors and their supposed heroics. Harry smiled shyly but didn't ask for anything more in his wardrobe the rest of the time they were in the shop.
Chapter 9: Potter Luck
Happy New Years!!!!!!!!!
Yesh, this looks like a long one when staring at it on the tablet... oh well. Enjoy!
Harry was blissful over his new summer wardrobe. Although, it had been embarrassing to listen to the lecture over the difference between a summer wardrobe and a winter one that came from trying to get some clothes for cold weather. The fact that they were only waiting for fall in case he had a growth spurt made him happy they weren't wasting money for him. It also made him warm inside because they still expected to keep him for that long. The Dursleys had never wanted to keep him, just keep him away from knowing about magic and ruining their perfectly normal life. He never accounted for the presence of the bond and what his bondmates might be feeling leaking from his own head through it.
"That's enough," Tom said softly, dangerously, as he pulled the group into the proper alley between Olivanders and the owl post office. "You need to realize we aren't getting rid of you, ever. Even if the bond would break this exact moment and make it dangerous to ever be around you again we wouldn't leave. Stop expecting us to turn on you and treat you as worse than rubbish! ~I will kill whatever monsters taught you all of this!~"
Severus snagged Harry before he could recover from his shock and pulled him into a close hug bordering on a full out cuddle.
"You are precious to us and we will not let them touch you ever again, Harry," Tom said worriedly, cupping Harry's face in his hands as Severus whispered soothing sounds in his ear, hugging him close.
"Why?" Harry asked in complete bewilderment. He was certain that he had let nothing of his worries show. How could they have known?!
"~The bond little hatchling, the bond. You can never hide anything truly important or dangerous from us as your bondmates,~" Bailey explained with a sad sigh as he peeked out of his hiding place inside Tom's robes once more. "~This part of the bond is there so we can keep each other safe and happy. It allows us to tell when the others are in trouble so that we may aid them. If Severus were to suddenly find himself facing a pack of wolves or someone attacked him we would know through the bond and be able to go to him and help. Because someone could use magic on your mind your very loud thoughts can bleed along the bond. The... flavor and sound of the thoughts tell us if you are being magicked or silly or are simply stuck in a bad place in your head. You, Harry hatchling were stuck in a very bad place in your head. That is not allowed, you are not allowed to let people who want you dead to trick you into believing what they want.~"
"Sorry," was Harry's quiet and embarrassed apology.
"What was it?" Narcissa asked kindly.
"He was thinking that at least we wouldn't get rid of him until he probably needed new clothes," Tom answered harshly before Harry had a chance to speak.
"Tom its too soon, too new, even with the magic. It will take time for him to realize we want to keep him because we want to. Time for him to realize that we won't give him up. Words won't do anything with how often he's likely been lied too. It will take time and action to show him things have changed. Its like retraining to use magic from complete scratch after mastering or nearly mastering it over a life time. The muscles and mind have to be taught all over again and probably need to fix habits formed from the first way to cast magic for the new way," Severus explained softly, practically begging his bondmate to understand. Harry couldn't help himself, he curled away from Tom further into Severus' arms
"Oh my sweet Harry, I'm sorry. I forgot for a moment how much it hurts and how hard it is to try and change so that it will stop hurting, especially trying to do it fast," Tom crooned, his features softening in to deep concern. He wasted no time in pulling his bondmates close in the small alley so the he could wrap his arms around them.
"You're acting weird," Draco declared wrinkling his nose and snapping the trio out of whatever it was they had fallen into. It was a very sheepish and embarrassed group of young wizards that rejoined the Malfoys nearby in Diagon proper.
"Thanks," muttered a red faced Harry as the group slipped into Olivanders.
"If I have to rescue you three from something like that again I'm going to start charging you a Sickle or one favor each and every time," Draco told him firmly. Harry silently nodded his agreement before turning to face the creepy wandmaker who had once more appeared from the shadows dramatically.
"Oh dear... Who am I fitting for a wand today? Surely not you Mr. Potter? Nor you Lord Malfoy?" Olivander asked softly.
"Me," Tom volunteered, smirking.
"My I inquire what happened to your yew wand Mr. Riddle?" Olivander asked warily.
"It was misplaced when my elder insane self thought it was a good idea to kill the Potters. Incidentally, as long as no one tries to take my Harry or my Severus from me there is no more risk for indiscriminate slaughter or raids. I will do my best to keep my... brothers from resuming the idiocy of before. The catch is that I cannot deal with my brothers and Dumbledore's assaults at the same time or the results will be worse than the terror of before. I do not wish to spill magical blood," Riddle explained in a nearly lazy drawl, making no attempt not to sound evil.
"Why tell me?" Olivander asked warily.
"You could slow me down by denying me a wand and telling Dumbledore that I was here. I could have gone elsewhere but... I can be a bit sentimental," Tom said with a chilly smile. Harry picked that moment to ambush his dangerous bondmate with a hug. It wasn't the implied threats that moved Olivander but the flash of warmth mixed with surprise, possessiveness, and honest concern for the green-eyed limpet suddenly on his back. He quickly masked it but didn't force the younger boy off of him as he waited for a decision.
"Yes... I can see that. Very well Mr. Riddle hopefully you will retrieve your wayward wand and keep your... er, brothers in check. Let us see if we can find you a good fit among my wands," Olivander declared creakily. He was much happier with seeing that glimpse of caring than any words the young Dark Lord could have said.
Tom nodded his acceptance and quietly convinced an unrepentant Harry to let go so he could find his new wand.
"Naturally, as a graduate you do not require a trace on your wand. Though I would advise that you find a way to legally certify Mr. Potter before removing his trace as you will no doubt require at some point," Olivander suggested. The elderly man easily carried a number of boxes from the same section Harry remembered his own wand coming from.
It was no surprise that another Phoenix wand picked Tom. What was a surprise was that instead of being the brother wand to Harry's holly wand it was the just recently made brother wand to Severus' own ebony wand.
"Birch, Elder, and Ceder. Very interesting. Birch - new beginnings, cleansing of the past, and vision quests. Elder - new life, renewal, and the fairy realm. Ceder - healing, cleansing, and rituals of protection. I think you are indeed attempting to leave the events of the past behind you. A Birch and Elder handle with the remaining length twisted by magic to include the Ceder. The really odd thing though was the insistence of the magic that it be stained using Blackberry juice and waxed with pine resin. 15 galleons, 20 if you wish for a wand holster," Olivander informed them all.
"We'll need four wand holsters. The one I'm using needs replacing and neither Draco nor Harry have one," Severus pointed out with a flush of embarrassment.
"You don't have to get me one," Harry pointed out, regaining some of the boldness that allowed him to hide openly in the lion's den.
"You need one," Severus said simply. Draco was just grinning at the thought of getting a present at the same time as Harry.
"Yes, that's one habit I need to break as well," Tom admitted with a sigh. "We'll have to practice fighting and doing other things without wands or magic as a precaution."
The Malfoys were surprised about that for different reasons but didn't say anything. Draco was just confused but didn't mind too much... yet, because he was more familiar with strange things randomly happening around Harry than his parents were. He'd taken advantage of it often enough both to get Harry in trouble and to make the teachers pay attention.
"Four wand holsters and Tom's wand please," Lucius instructed with soft amusement as the younger wizards moved to pick out their holsters.
"35 galleons," Olivander informed the Lord. He correctly assumed the man was paying whether the others wanted him to or not and probably while they weren't paying attention.
"Muggle London next?" Severus asked, gently directing Harry towards the enchanted dragon leather holsters. His own had been a cheap basic leather one that needed replacing fairly regularly.
Harry tensed under the other wizard's gentle hands but gave away nothing else. A quick glance between his bondmates along with an irritated yet worried hiss that all went unnoticed by the enraptured Gryffindor confirmed that they would need to be on watch. Draco was completely oblivious to the exchange and chattered happily to Harry about what could be done with wand holsters and what enchantments they sometimes carried.
A quick trip through the Leaky Cauldron with a minor pause in the bathroom to transfigure their clothes to something more appropriate and they were in muggle London. Harry being the most familiar with this side of the Leaky and the most up to date information took the lead.
"I think we should take the tube or a bus... did anyone remember to get the right money before we left the bank?" Harry mused as they stood out front of the pub.
"Why would we need different money?" Draco asked curiously.
"They don't have goblins to help watch it for them and they switched to paper to represent their money for some reason. I know that in the change, the coins, they use gold, silver, and copper but I don't know how much or which coins. I do know that its a lot easier to carry bits of paper than a bag full of big coins," Harry informed the blond happily.
"Than its a good thing I thought to get a couple hundred pounds before we left," Tom commented in open amusement
"Is that what they handed you?" Lucius asked intrigued. He had seen the goblins hand over a muggle wallet at one point and wondered what it was.
"They have a version of a credit slip as well," Severus offered up.
Hearing that they had money Harry started looking for a tube station or bus stop. He kept half an ear on the rest of the group in case they started to wander off or did something that gave them away. Though from the sound of it his bondmates had that well in hand, even if some of the information was clearly out of date.
A quick hilarious trip on the tube got them to the Convent Garden stop and within easier walking distance to one of the cheaper clothing stores that Harry could remember. He knew this trip was more about getting him proper fitting muggle clothes to replace his old ones than anything else. It wasn't that hard to figure out since everyone else would be perfectly happy to stick with wizard clothes and magical areas.
When they got to the shop Harry was the only one who wasn't impressed in some way and used it to get them all moved to the right section. Tom and Severus recovered well before the rest of the Malfoy family but were faced with a stack of shyly presented clothes that Harry had picked out for them to try. A quick glance of silent agreement promised that they would try them on without question for Harry. The delighted grin from their bondmate told them they had done the right thing.
Bailey obediently stayed with Tom and Severus as they shared a changing room. Harry giggled quite a bit at the many hissed comments about the various shirts that Bailey would be hiding and riding in. The grumbles mostly came about the jeans, many of which were black, and the lack of button up shirts. What really had Harry laughing and the three blonds staring at the changing room was the verbal outrage over the underpants and two very specific shirts.
"Harry!" Tom growled, Bailey's hissing laughter echoing in the background.
"I refuse to wear this!" Severus called out indignantly.
"Think of it this way, you get to help me pick out what Draco and Lucius are getting!" Harry called back, laughter spilling from his lips as he fought to breath.
"What did you do?" Draco asked with a liberal mix of suspicion and wariness.
"I put in a pair of Gryffindor themed shirts and pink lip boxers as a joke for each of them," Harry told them, grinning madly. "I think they're more upset over the underwear than the shirts since I had to improvise a bit to find something that can count as supporting Gryffindor. For Severus I stuck with blacks, dark greens, and stuff that might link to magic, potions, or a muggle version of that. Oh! I gave him some stuff that might link to defense and dueling too. Tom got dark greens, dark blues, blacks, and anything I could make match for magic, snakes, and taking over the world or being an evil Dark Lord."
"What exactly does that mean?" Lucius asked warily.
"Mostly that I raided the Halloween and the stylized animal print sections before mixing them in with the non design stuff. Both of them got a lion themed shirt and a snake themed one," Harry said smugly. There was a sound of hasty shuffling off clothes as the two inside the changing room confirmed Harry's words.
"Barring the pink monstrosity and the kill me colored Gryffindor items you have better taste than we thought," Tom admitted grudgingly. "Now stop stalling and pick out your own clothes."
"Yes, Tom," Harry said dutifully with a cheeky eye roll that made Draco giggle and the elder blonds look on in amusement. He quickly stroll off into the racks to do just that.
Having learned his lesson on skimping on what he actually needed during this shopping trip, and wanting to see the two blond wizards in something, Harry had a sizable pile of random clothes before his usual run of luck kicked in. The body of a small whale in human form slammed painfully into his side just as he reached for another shirt, sending him sprawling in a nasty tumble. The young wizard's pain sent a warning ricocheting down along the bond, alerting his bondmates to a problem.
Dudley heard the less satisfying grunt of pain rather than a shout of shocked agony that he and his friends had anticipated from the runt that looked suspiciously like his freaky cousin. His friend, Piers, laughed and gave the brat an extra kick to the ribs to keep the brat on the floor, as Dudley scattered Harry's pile of clothes and stomped on them.
"Dudley? We need to get going soon if you still want that ice cream," Vernon informed the boys.
The walrus of a man followed them through the racks of clothing to literally stumble over Harry a moment later. Harry gave off a soft yelp of pain the was quickly stifled as another jolt of pain traveled down the bond. At the sound and stumble Vernon swung his suddenly angry attention to focus on Harry's instantly recognized form and turning instantly puce in unadulterated fury.
"Freak! You dare ruin Dudley's special outing?! I should have drowned you the same night you were left on our doorstep!" Vernon practically thundered as his leg swung back, preparing to deliver a devastating kick that might cave in Harry's chest.
The blast that slammed into the infuriated man came from four separate wands, Lucius, Narcissa, Tom, and Severus, all equally furious over the attack on Harry. Draco, while wide eyed at the various reactions, quickly made his way over towards Harry in an attempt to check him. Unfortunately, both Dudley and Piers were in the way and saw Draco as an equally valid small target.
"Move," Draco ordered imperiously, drawing on his pureblood upbringing to project a confident front of authority.
"Look Dud, the poncy little git wants to play with our toy! We can't let him have our new toy now that your freaky little cousin has gone. Where would we get our fun?" Piers asked sadistically.
The one sided conversation was just enough distraction for Bailey to get by everyone and circle protectively around Harry. He hissed menacingly at anyone who tried to get close as the muggle security officers came to investigate the ruckus. The wands quickly disappeared but the death glares only intensified.
"Here now, what's going on here?" one of the managers asked angrily, while eyeing the large serpent warily.
"If you condone a man attempting to beat someone else's child to death then maybe we shouldn't be shopping here," Tom spat before turning to the Malfoys and turning up his childish cuteness to 11. "Mrs. Malfoy can we get Harry and Bailey? I don't want that man hurting Harry again and Bailey might bite someone who's just trying to help if I don't calm him."
"I still don't know how you trained that snake to act like a guard dog, Tom, but yes. We'll probably need to take Harry to hospital from the way he's trying not to move," Narcissa observed grimly, playing along and moving confidently towards the injured boy with Tom and Severus at either side. Draco gave the two bullies another harsh glare as he followed his mother past them to Harry's side. Bailey let them by without a problem, giving further credence to the impromptu story and hissing at everyone else in warning.
Harry looked up and saw Tom had arrived dressed in a Darth Vader shirt and black skinny jeans that were almost to tight. Severus had been trying on fitted black jeans and a black cooking themed shirt with a bubbling witches cauldron spouting deep green smoke. The flying spatula on the potion master's shirt floated next to the white words Cook is almost ready for the children to get into the hot tub! This all showed that they had bolted straight from the changing room to Harry's aid which made Harry happy despite the pain he was in.
"Yes, lets go. We obviously don't need full wardrobes for the three of you from here," Lucius said tightly even as Severus finished expertly checking Harry over and carefully helping him to stand.
"Now wait just a minute," the flustered manager started in alarm.
"Freaks! You should have all been killed at birth!" Vernon bellowed, finally managing to struggle upright as he turned proper purple from fury.
"Uh oh," Harry said in a small voice followed by a slight hiss of pain as Severus' grip tightened in worry.
"I'll kill you with my own two hands boy!" Vernon bellowed as he got his feet under him.
Harry's magic spiked, reacting to his sudden terror and the very real threat his Uncle posed. The clothes around them came to life and started attacking Vernon. Severus hurried Harry over to Tom so they could both get a grip on their bondmate and calm the flow of magic while Bailey protected them. The clothes abruptly returned to simple cloth as everyone stared. Harry opened his mouth to apologize only to find Severus' hand covering his mouth.
"Not now!" Tom hissed quietly, sticking with English to avoid drawing further attention. Harry reluctantly nodded his agreement earning freedom for his lips as his bondmates helped him control his surging magic.
"What was that?" Draco asked innocently, knowing full well that it was accidental magic.
Draco's question was the last straw for Vernon Dursley as he lunged for Harry's throat. Lucius body blocked his charge with a grunt and sent both men off to one side away from the intended target, distracting everyone. This also allowed Narcissa to step in and shield the four smaller wizards from the resultant brawl as nearly everyone pitched in on trying to physically restrain a shouting and screaming human walrus.
Harry couldn't help huddling into the protective arms of his bondmates. With everyone focusing on an insane with rage Vernon no one was tracking Dudley or his friend Piers, as a result the bondmates got blindsided by the duo. Harry was yanked violently from the arms of the two youthened wizards, startling them. The snick of the knife folding open in Dudley's hand was barely audible over the ruckus but the glint of metal moving to rest against Harry's throat was easily seen by his bondmates.
"You've just signed your own death boy," Tom said coldly, dropping any pretense of being something other than the Dark Lord. Severus did the same next to him, easily sliding into his Inner Circle Death Eater persona as they both glared death at the baby whale posing as a human. Bailey hissed menacingly, raising his blood red crest for all to see as his fangs dripped the most dangerous acid-like poison ever known.
At exactly that moment Dumbledore walked into the store waving around a clearly magical object and trailing a number of Aurors including an exasperated Madam Bones.
"What the hell is going on!?" demanded a shocked Auror Dawlish. Tom glanced at him sharply with a touch of magic just long enough to make the Dark Mark burn before turning back to focus on Harry and the knife at his throat.
Dawlish gave a quiet hiss at the pain before glancing at his boss. She gave him a look that clearly said they would be discussing this later, a look that just happened to include Tom, Severus, and Lucius. She quickly moved to cover for the bondmates by distracting Dumbledore.
"Dumbledore even if we find Mr. Potter you aren't getting custody again nor is he ever going back to those abusive relatives with which you placed him," Madam Bones reminded him coldly. This provided just enough distraction for Tom to change his stance from furious Dark Lord to pissed off teen and for Bailey to force his crest back down against his skull, hiding it.
"More freaks," Dudley spat, digging the knife into Harry's flesh just enough to draw blood. "Maybe spilling some freak blood will get you to finally leave us alone!"
"~Try it brat and you'll be my first human meal in a very long time!~" Bailey warned angrily, making Harry smile weakly.
"You really shouldn't have touched our brat," Severus told him in a cold fury that had Dumbledore glancing at him sharply in recognition.
"Severus you need to calm down," Dumbledore said mildly.
"I suppose you've forgotten that you arranged to have my life literally tied to Potter's. He dies then so do I!" Severus snapped at the old man. "You haven't let me near him except at school and now thanks to your poor choices his own muggle cousin is holding a knife to his throat threatening to kill him! Its a wonder they didn't kill him before he even got to school!"
"They tried," Harry admitted shamefacedly. The only reason anyone managed to hear him was that Vernon was finally knocked cold and the other shoppers were finally taking stock of the changed situation.
"What the bloody hell is going on?!" the store manager demanded once again.
"Sorry, we're with a branch of New Scotland Yard. Mr. Dumbledore was apparently wasting our time looking for a child that was simply out with his new guardians. The good thing for you is that I just inherited this mess since that same young man we were looking for is the one being held at knife point. The down side is that none of you can talk about this... ever. This is a very delicate ongoing investigation," Madam Bones told the muggles honestly. The DMLE actually was considered a branch of NSY when working openly in the muggle world.
"Are you gonna arrest him? Threatening proper folks with knives, shameful," one elderly customer commented. He was staring at Dudley in such glaring disapproval that the fat bully sheepishly put away his knife only to nastily shove and trip Harry into the worried arms of his bondmates.
"I might be able to do something," Madam Bones agreed showing matching steely disapproval for the delinquent Dursley.
"Now Amelia I'm certain there is no need for that and that this is just a simple misunderstanding," Dumbledore assured in a grandfatherly tone.
"No, it ain't you old fart. What that brat just pulled would have gotten him shot as a traitor during the last war or lynched for being a Nazi sympathizer. I don't know why Tom's brat is helping green-eyes over there but he must be something special because his da or granda would have done something right nasty or let green-eyes get beat. I want a word with old Tom the next time you see that crazy bastard again kid. Tell him Jimmy from Wool's needs a word," the old man ordered Tom.
"I'll tell him but... things are odd," Tom said carefully.
"So remind him I wasn't the one who gave away his pet snake to Billy and the matron," Jimmy said flatly, his eyes telling the young Dark Lord that he wasn't fooling his fellow orphan.
"Mr. Malfoy is in charge today but I wouldn't mind getting lunch together... if that's okay Mr. Malfoy?" Tom suggested ie. ordered.
"I suppose but Harry needs to be checked," Lucius reminded them uncomfortably.
"I'm fine," Harry lied. He didn't want to ruin the day just because he couldn't dodge his fat Uncle... again.
"Mr. Malfoy, please bring your group's selections to the front, you may have them free of charge as the fat man will be paying for them. I apologize for today's very odd trouble," the manager said with a resigned sigh and a look of disgust at Vernon having put together some of the pieces of the conversation.
"That is very generous of you," Madam Bones said gracefully. "I think Dawlish and I will join Mr. Malfoy and his group for lunch while the others escort Mr. Dumbledore... home. It has been a trying day and I could use a good cupa before I get back to my unending paperwork."
They quickly wrapped up their business and left.
Chapter 10: Lunch Hurts
This one covers some practical things at the end that were ignored last chapter. This is not intended as a bad thin... well okay it is but its more a practical physical thing than a story plot thing sooo... don't kill me?
"So where do you suggest we have lunch?" Severus asked in a mix of sarcasm and curiosity.
"There is a place near that gateway pub of yours, Tom, that has good service and is discrete," Jimmy offered. "Least wise he didn't call me insane and toss me out on my arse when I got drunk the one time and started ranting about how I caught you talking to snakes and floating things."
"Really?" Madam Bones asked sharply, noticing that not only did this man know about magic but that Tom was clearly more than he seemed.
"Let us get settled before discussing potentially uncomfortable subjects," Lucius suggested cautiously.
Jimmy picked up on the tension and decided he really didn't want whatever thing was going to happen out in the open. They quickly took the bus closer to the Leaky Cauldron and entered a barely noticeable pub/cafe. Jimmy called out to the bar tender who greeted him happily but did a double take at the rest of his group. Dawlish and Madam Bones, while better than Dumbledore and the rest of the search team had been, were not wearing a proper muggle outfit for the time period.
"Jimmy why don't you take your group of fashion refugees back into the private blue room?" the bar tender's words were joking but his eyes were a mix of seriousness and worry. His eyes had immediately recognized the Auror red jackets that replaced the standard robes in the muggle world giving away his passing familiarity with the magical world.
"As far as I know I'm not the one in trouble but the boys just had a scare so the quiet room will be appreciated," Jimmy reassured his friend warmly, wasting no time in leading them back to the private room.
"Whatever you say Jimmy, you crazy bastard," the bartender muttered, his words easily carrying to the group across the quiet main room.
"What did you do to wind up as a munchkin again Tom?" were the first words out of Jimmy's mouth after the room had been magically secured.
"I got tricked into performing a ceremony that is nasty enough it shouldn't exist when I was 16. After that I don't technically remember anything since I am the piece that was split off and sealed away but we have confirmed that the rest of me went 'round the bend. Things happened and I woke up in the last year or so stuck inside a book. I, naturally, did my best to find out what the devil was going on and escape the book. It worked... up to a point. Now I am bound to Severus and Harry, whom my insane older self keeps trying to kill. The upside is that when I went to check on my things at our bank earlier today my status as being the only sane version, grounded by my bond with Severus and Harry, put me in total legal control of this mess. If any of this gets out to soon it will turn into more of a nightmare," Tom admitted with a grimace.
"What do you believe will be the repercussions? Is it enough to justify keeping this off the record?" Madam Bones challenged. She was frustrated and angry about the lies she had been told in her office but recognized from the summary that there might be good reason to keep quiet.
Tom's answer was the same fiery name trick that he had shown Harry in the Chamber before calling Bailey. He met her shocked gaze levelly and further explained. "As the only sane portion of the idiot control of those who swore loyalty or support along with any assets reverts to me. With Severus and Harry stabilizing me the chance that I will again go insane and start slaughtering people drops to almost nothing without outside interference. So unless I am successfully attacked in some fashion and/or Severus and Harry are taken from me I am no longer more of a risk than any other random wizard. I will need to collect and subdue the other pieces of myself before seeing if reintegration is possible. The physical de-aging both hid me from Dumbledore and allowed me to stay with my bondmates. Judging from what happened to Severus the bond would have done the same thing as the de-aging potion in time."
"Dawlish?" Madam Bones asked, demanding an explanation to his earlier reaction. In answer the man rolled up his sleeve to reveal the Dark Mark on his left forearm. "Well at least you're sane again. I'll need a full report on these events so that I know what the hell is going on and the official report for filing. If you can prove what you say then I'll back you, provided you keep me up to date and list out your reasons for... concerning actions. The wizarding world won't survive another war so soon. We need another couple of years for even the chance."
"Understood. The fact is that we have effectively reported this mess almost immediately upon discovery along with the fact that... Voldemort wasn't sane during his actions after his 6th year," Tom pointed out. "I hold no grudge and am grateful for the bond since I was destabilizing in Salazar's Chamber when I received a new body. Without Harry's actions and accidental magic I very well could have spiraled to the same level as Voldemort, a spiral that is no longer possible without killing both Severus and Harry. In time I might be healed enough for my sanity to survive their deaths but it will take at least a decade to get me anywhere close to that point."
"Right, don't separate you and for the love of god keep you all alive," Madam Bones agreed grimly with a shudder of imagined horror at failing. Tom simply smirked in amusement, finally relaxing enough that he wasn't ready to curse anyone.
Severus had been eyeing the quiet Harry and was finally fed up with how withdrawn the Gryffindor had become while the rest of them were distracted. This resulted in a yelp coming out of a surprised Harry's mouth as he was dragged into the surly potion master's lap for a cuddle. At the sound everyone looked at the pair, earning a defiant glare that Narcissa and Madam Bones fought not to coo over. Tom snorted in amusement but his sharp eyes caught why as he gave Severus a look of approval as Bailey hissed his own amusement from inside Tom's shirt. Draco just snickered at Harry's apparent misfortune.
"That creepy old man from your secret special school still giving you a hard time Tom? Or was that some other creepy old geezer I saw earlier?" Jimmy drawled with a smirk.
"Shut up Jimmy!" Tom scowled, flicking a piece of complementary bread from the bread basket at his fellow Wool's inmate. This hand the double bonus of making Harry laugh and hitting the old man between the eyes.
"Look if you don't want to get caught you need to have someone for the old goat to speak to when he gets you in trouble at that school of yours. You also have to have come from somewhere other than thin air. You kept Billy from pushing me off that roof and the creepy preacher from looking at me like he did with some of the others. I couldn't help when they hurt you before and frankly I was scared but I'd like to try and make that up to you. I can be your other grandfather for the record and the reason you missed however much school you need to stay with these two. Whoever is playing parent for you could have run across us on accident and offered to share custody once your bond thing kicked in so that there would be fewer problems. It will give you an extra buffer and I'll get a heads up on how bad your side is getting," Jimmy offered seriously.
"That would mean I don't have to worry about you and the statute because you would count as his relative," Madam Bones pointed out.
"It was technically accidental magic any way," Tom said grumpily but didn't object further to the extra safety net. They quickly settled the details and ordered lunch.
"So how old are you now?" Jimmy asked curiously.
Tom mumbled a spell under his breath and their ages showed up over the head of each physically underage wizard present along side their birthdays. Harry and Draco were 12 since July 31st and June 5th respectively. Where as Tom and Severus were physically 13 since Dec. 31st and Jan. 9th respectively. It slowly faded away as everyone watched.
"So green-eyes is the youngest and you will all be in the same form," Jimmy commented with a snort of amusement.
"Except that both Tom and I retain our previous certification," Severus shot back smugly.
"The problem with that is that Dumbledore still has you under contract and will no doubt try to forcefully separate us," Tom shot back in clear irritation.
"He can't. Its a medical necessity to keep the three of you together and you've already covered legal guardianship. This is especially fortunate if he tries to make anyone physically underage subject to the underage laws when only your body is underage. The healer and goblins already certified you as still qualifying as over age, re-issuing your certificates. Any actions that you take in regards to your physical age are up to you, like returning to school or casting magic in public. I can't legally touch either of you anymore than another adult," Madam Bones pointed out. "It would be different if similar incidents hadn't happened in the past or if you were found to have the mind of a child."
"Tom has never had the mind of a child," Jimmy said with a derisive snort making Harry giggle. Talk quickly shifted to more innocuous every day things as they finished eating.
Harry knew the moment that people started getting up from the table that he was in trouble. There was absolutely no way that he could keep hiding the injuries he had gotten earlier from Vernon and Dudley, not now that they had a chance to bloom. He'd had trouble not flinching when Severus had cuddled him earlier and his ribs had still been mostly numb from the body blow that had originally sent him sprawling.
"Harry?" Tom asked, noticing that his youngest bondmate wasn't moving.
"~I waited for you to say something like a good hatchling but you clearly won't tell them yourself so I will,~" Bailey hissed in irritation. He slipped from where he had settled at Tom's feet, having been occasionally fed bits of meat during the meal. "~Harry hatchling is hurting from what the fat ones did to him before we could help. His pain taints his scent heavily and it is getting worse. Check under his shirt, his scent says the glamour has fallen.~"
Severus, being the closest, grabbed Harry's hands to keep him from holding his shirt down and possibly hurting himself further. He then proceeded to lift Harry's shirt and reveal some serious bruising that was deep purple shifting just to the edge of black. Everyone swore heavily at the sight as Harry blushed in deep embarrassment, not understanding why they were upset on his behalf.
"You don't know when to ask for help do you?" Severus asked in a mix of worry, frustration, and anger aimed at the Dursleys. "I didn't see any of this when I checked him before or I would have said something so it could be healed."
"Bailey said he had a glamour up before," Tom reminded the dark wizard as he fought to keep his temper.
"Harry from now on if you are hurt or sick we need to know, even if its something stupid like a paper cut," Lucius informed him with his eyes closed, trying to keep his own temper. Draco stared in horrified fascination as his mother, a certified healer, tended to the dangerous bruising and the bruised ribs underneath that had kept his insides from being damaged.
"I'm sorry, please don't hate me!" Harry blurted out, terrified they wouldn't want him anymore.
Bailey whacked his healthy leg lightly before scolding him. "~Silly hatchling you are not being tossed away. Yes, you were naughty not to tell us you were hurt so that we could help fix it but that is not a reason to send you away. No, that is a reason to teach you we are safe to tell things too and cuddle you close until you are all better. We will go back to the nest and you will heal and we will cuddle you so that you know that you are safe with us. This will happen as often as we need to make sure you understand.~"
"Bailey's right, we aren't sending you away. Instead, we are going back to the manor where you are getting into bed and sleeping while we keep you safe so you can heal," Tom confirmed. As much as he wanted to kill the Dursleys Harry was his current priority.
"But I'm not..." Harry started only to trail off into silence.
"You are not what Harry?" Severus asked gently, dread pooling in his gut.
"Medicine is expensive," Harry said in a very small voice.
"That's not a problem anymore dear. I bet you've heard our Draco brag about how rich we are. We have plenty of money for any potions or medicine you need," Narcissa said gently. She was mentally fighting not to let her rage show at the thought of a child being denied basic medicine and care out of what was obviously spite with how Dudley clearly wanted for nothing.
"Okay," Harry reluctantly agreed. No one was surprised when he was hustled back home to be tended to with hasty goodbyes to their lunch companions.
Chapter 11: Nap Time
"This isn't acceptable! This is the sort of thing I wanted to prevent! I started the Knights to help separate our worlds, rescue the ones being mistreated by the muggles, and keep us hidden... safe!" Tom ranted as Severus and Lucius watched him pace furiously.
Harry was safely asleep in the next room, healing, and to get to him any intruder would have to pass through the room the three wizards were currently in. Narcissa had done as much as she could for him before ushering Draco away so that Harry could rest. The sleeping draught and pain killer she had given Harry assured a restful or at least more comfortable sleep as the magic healed him.
"Tom, Tom, TOM! I know you're worried over our brat but this is part of why we made sure he couldn't be taken away from us. We just didn't know that his lack of self preservation had been trained into him and we could only use muggle methods to check him at the store, which is part of how we missed his injuries. Now we know and Bailey is watching him for us while you rant," Severus soothed, taking the young Dark Lord into his arms to help calm his temper.
"What about our traditions?" Lucius asked quietly. This young man way very different from the terrifying Dark Lord who had accepted his loyalty oath yet he could still tell that they were the same man, even without having been told.
"That's part of the separation and keeping us safe," Tom admitted as he tried to relax in the arms of his bondmate. "The traditions and histories teach how and why things need to be done, helping to keep us safe, killing all of the muggles isn't feasible and making the attempt just puts us all in danger. The traditions tie into everything and teach much needed respect for both the dangers and the wonders of magic."
"Dawlish is probably going to have problems since he showed his mark," Lucius said calmly, accepting Tom's answer for what it was.
"He might but I got the feeling he's terrified of my insane older self. The way his magic reacted in utter relief when he heard my explanation said a lot, even if it never made it to his face. Knowing myself he's not the only one of mine in that department, or terrified for that matter. Once Madam Bones works through the implications of our lunch conversation she should be more willing to work with us," Tom said, leaning heavily against Severus.
"Don't bet on that, her brother and most of his family fell to your wand in the last war. I count it as a miracle that she didn't just flat out try to kill you. Dawlish is in less danger or at least is less of a surprise because of how much we infiltrated the ministry during the war," Severus warned, arms still wrapped around the other wizard.
"I'll have to figure out some sort of thank you for her help then," Tom said grumpily, finally starting to calm down properly and glad that Severus still had yet to let him go.
"I'll brew her some Veritaserum and other truth serums special for her office," Severus promised.
"That won't be enough even if she turns out to have been a Hufflepuff but its a start," Tom agreed. He was starting to feel sleepy from all the emotional ups and downs and was seriously considering joining Harry in bed.
"I'm tired... its almost as if... our brat is pulling energy from us to help him heal," Severus said pensively.
"He probably is with how poorly he's obviously been treated and how many rapid transformations or major magical changes he's had in the last 48 hours. It wouldn't surprise me if all three of us get knocked out for a few days or are stuck in bed for a while because of it," Tom said sleepily, fighting to stay awake and mad at the Dursleys.
"Bed, now," Lucius said firmly, shifting smoothly from right hand man to caring parent/older brother.
They protested halfheartedly but eventually complied, wrapping themselves both gratefully and carefully around Harry, much to Bailey's amusement and satisfaction. It wasn't long before they were both out cold, leaving Bailey to watch over all three of them. When Narcissa came to do a quick on them before calling them for dinner she found an adorable puppy pile with a guardian snake.
"I won't wake them but I need to spell this into each of them. Tom and Severus won't admit it but they are too skinny, just like Harry. All of them need to eat more," Narcissa explained calmly, knowing that as a familiar Bailey would understand the first spoken language of his bonded witch/wizard. Bailey eyed her for a moment before giving a very clear nod, allowing the Healer to spell nutrient potions into each of the sleeping wizards. She calmly slipped back out of the room and left them to their dreams.
Chapter 12: Laws of Politics
The Aurors didn't want to play but I managed to get a recording of their discussion! My only regret is that they had such a short talk for you to listen to.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Sometimes Amelia Bones hated her life. The grief over the death of her family had resurfaced after the strange lunch with the child-shaped Dark Lord and his bondmates but the rage that came with it no longer had a target. Not only that but she couldn't blame him or any of the Death Eaters because her very magic had somehow subtly connected with that of this youthful Dark Lord. What that temporary connection had told her was enough to raise her mothering instincts and tell her that the story she heard at lunch was the real one.
Amelia had no idea what she was going to do with Dawlish or anyone else in her department that fell under the young man's authority. Technically she was supposed to arrest him but she wasn't sure that was the right thing to do.
The sound of her office door had her looking up to watch Dawlish himself walk in. The door was closed firmly behind him, re-establishing the permanent privacy magics before he took a seat in front of his boss.
"He's different," Dawlish admitted, breaking the silence.
"How so?" Amelia asked neutrally.
"He was clearly furious but not a single person was Crucioed, killed, or really harmed at all. The only people actually threatened were the three overly aggressive muggles and he let us do our jobs. I got a warning about his presence through the mark when he specifically spiked his magic for it but that's it. The other one, the first one... I was terrified of him and absolutely certain that he would kill me for screwing up or even for nothing at all. Whatever actually happened it looks like it healed his mind... or he got a new one. From what I can see as long as he has Snape and Potter we don't have to worry about him, or at least that's what I saw today," Dawlish reported dutifully. He liked his job and really didn't want to loose it or be thrown in Azkaban.
"I should arrest you... but I wont. Your standing orders are to tell me if you know or suspect that you have a conflict of interest. If anyone asks tell them you got tangled in some miscast loyalty magic during a previous case that was deemed accidental magic but it only just kicked in and we're trying to work around it. This way if you get caught pulling his arse out of the fire it can all just be accidental magic. Warn him about needing to change the design of the mark because right now anyone found with that specific design is automatically classified as a criminal. I'll give him a chance but if he doesn't keep with the parole terms I've laid out we will have a very large problem," Madam Bones warned.
Hopefully, she never had to try to enforce that vague threat since the wizarding world and her family really were still recovering from the last war. She was, admittedly having trouble thinking of a 13 year old as a Dark Lord but couldn't deny that the situation was real. She would just have to work with what she had.
"Yes ma'am," Dawlish agreed with bone melting relief and new hope for the future. He quickly escaped her office and got back to work.
Okay, strange thing just happened. I was looking at my stats on this site 'cuz I haven't looked at them in over a year and you lot are fantastically amazing!
Stat Count for all of my stuff since moving here:
522 User Subscriptions
Note: I don't think it counts any that the person intentional told it to hide and it only counts the people logged in plus the guest Kudos...
You guys are AWESOME!
As usual ideas are welcome and greatly appreciated!
Next chapter (provided I can scrape together the courage/ideas) Nightmares for our three boys while they heal! Er... sleep!
Chapter 13: Dreams and Memories
I'm not entirely happy with this chapter, or at least the part before the dream sequence, but I can't bring myself to fight with it further. Enjoy!
Harry, Tom, and Severus slept for three days with an amused Narcissa periodically spelling nutrient potions and small bowls of broth into them with the occasional health scan. She wasn't overly concerned with their long sleep despite her son's badgering because of all that had happened in such a short period of time to the trio. That changed when she found they had slipped into night terrors and couldn't wake them up. Her only consolation was that Bailey wasn't frantic with worry and had in fact stopped her more than once from trying to wake them, thus telling her that they were technically fine.
"How are they?" Lucius asked softly as he quietly slipped into the room to watch his wife and soon worry over the newest additions to their family. The other two blonds looked up and silently invited him to join them.
"That bad?" Lucius breathed. They nodded before turning back to their vigil.
Lucius joined them, standing behind his wife and looking at the sweat soaked boys. They would have to change the bedding and night clothes again soon or the cloth would be so water logged as to leave puddles everywhere.
"Dawlish wasn't happy to find out they were indisposed but I wrote down the message from Madam Bones that he delivered so that they can read it when they wake. Mcnair somehow found out about our lord and is asking about assassination jobs, particularly about ones against creatures. The blood thirst of that man... I don't know how our lord tamed him or some of the others last time but we may need to move to eliminate some of them," Lucius informed them softly. His eyes never left the sleeping trio as they quietly whimpered in their dreams, to well trained in the art of silent suffering to scream as the blonds would have in their place.
"Unless they figure out something for my sister and the Lestrange brothers those three will have to go along with Greyback. I would have killed them all myself as a threat to Draco if they hadn't mostly been caught in the sweeps," Narcissa said grimly as she lovingly brushed back a lock of Draco's hair.
"Rookwood will still be somewhat useful and is still actually sane despite his Unspeakable status. Sirius Black may become a problem with his status as Harry's Godfather but the adoption, the bond, the guardianship paper work, and the paper work declaring both Tom and Severus as adults should trump that. We should have been given custody of Harry in the first place or your sister Andromeda as the next closest magical blood relatives before any of this," Lucius outlined with a heavy sigh.
"Dumbledore?" Draco asked darkly.
"Actually the blame was about balanced between Dark, Light, and Ministry. No one party is more at fault than the others for the overall situation but placing Harry with the Dursleys against his parent's wishes is all on Dumbledore," Lucius explained ruefully.
"At least we're trying to fix it," Draco pointed out firmly.
"Yes, yes we are," Narcissa agreed with a bit of a sad laugh.
"The papers finally got a hold of their medical records. They published the fact that Severus is still legally his original age of 32 but has been acknowledged as simply being magically youthened to 13. In the article our lord's adult status was revealed but the fact of his OWLs, NEWTs, and various Mastery being transferred did not make it into the paper. Though there was a note recommending serious review of any previous schooling from Hogwarts material to any Mastery material before taking any jobs that did make it in. The signs of abuse on all three in their magical histories and the fact that they are technically on treatment for it has surprisingly caused more of an uproar than the information on the bond," Lucius informed them.
"Merlin," Draco whispered in shock. He was honestly surprised that it had both taken so long to show up in the paper as well as how much of the files was incomplete information... Well unless Skeeter wrote thee article, she tended to add spice to everything she wrote whether it was true or not.
"This public revelation, while unfortunate and a gross breach of privacy, should help us. Especially, since Dumbledore amazingly didn't make the connection between Tom and our lord. The man was too focused on getting Harry placed back either with his relatives or into the old goat's care to really have been paying attention. It didn't hurt that Skeeter printed their names wrong but got the fact they were living with us under the Malfoy family's protection right along with Severus' adoption into the family. There is an investigation into Harry's placement but its been to long for one into Sev's placement or Tom's to be either legal or viable. The Dursleys are facing charges," Lucius finished, ignoring his son's very appropriate swearing.
"So is Dumbledore still going to try to take them away? Even though it would hurt them?" Draco asked, upset at the thought of loosing part of his family and that they would likely be hurt in the process.
"He can't," Narcissa reminded him with satisfaction. "Even if he figures out who Tom is and that Harry is out of his grasp there isn't a thing he can do legally. If he tries anything illegal both your Uncle Sev and Tom will remind him just how good they are at dueling. Not to mention the hell your father would raise on their behalf. The bond will keep them together and only Harry is still underage, combined together no one else can be legally in charge of them. The papers that your father and I have are in case someone tries to change that."
"Good!" Draco said firmly. Everyone was distracted as the sleeping trio started thrashing again with Bailey wrapped around them crooning something lovingly to try and calm them...
Harry cowered in the back of his lightless cupboard, his belly trying to eat its way through his spine. The sound of Vernon on the other side of the flimsy door shouting about how he was a freak and would learn his place if it was the last thing he did, terrified Harry to no end. The slam of a free belt with a heavy buckle against the flimsy compressed wood of the door as his Uncle banged his hand against it told the 12 year old he was in for a beating, a bad one.
Harry already ached with the last beating though he knew this was almost a memory even if a few things gave away the fact that it was really a dream. He hoped that Tom and Snape would find him but didn't hold out much hope since they hadn't been there when this had happened around his eighth birthday. He'd been unconscious for nearly 3 days after Uncle Vernon had gotten his hands on him and didn't fancy a repeat of the beating, even if it was only a dream.
"You Bastard! Touch Harry again and you won't live to see nightfall!" the voice of Tom snarled from the other side of the cupboard door. It was joined a moment later by a wordless snarl in the smooth voice of Severus.
Harry's terror spiked. He didn't want his Tom or his Professor facing Vernon. They might get hurt or worse, killed! He didn't want to be alone again and he definitely wasn't going to let the Dursleys ruin the best thing he'd ever had by hurting Tom or Severus!
A quick breath into aching lungs and Harry charged forwards, throwing the cupboard door open only to slam into the unmoving bulk of his Uncle Vernon. The overweight man wasted no time in snatching Harry up and slamming him against the wall, dragging a groan of pain from Harry's lips. The only good thing about his new position is that through the haze of pain he could see Tom and Severus contained in a caged off area of the kitchen, bars separating them from him and Vernon. Good, that meant Vernon couldn't touch them.
"You little freak! I'll teach you to steal food from my family and to show your worthless hide out of your cupboard when we have guests!" Vernon practically roared in his face, the man's own face going deep red.
"Leave them alone!" Harry wheezed. He got a backhand for his trouble and another bone rattling slam into the wall.
A moment of disorientation cleared to show Harry shoved standing against the wall, shirt off, and in clear view of the other two wizards. The familiar whistle of the belt moving through the air and the twin shouts of outraged horror were the only warning Harry had before his back exploded in pain as the belt impacted. The belt and his back felt unnaturally hot as liquid, blood, dripped down from the lash mark while the leather withdrew for another strike.
"This is a nightmare," Tom muttered despairingly.
"That's it! Its a nightmare," Severus latched on to the idea immediately and tried to bring his Occlumency skills to bear even as a scream was ripped from Harry under the impossibly more painful second strike.
Suddenly the scene shifted and Severus was in Harry's place with his father bringing his own belt down, ripping a yelp from the dour wizard.
"Severus!" Tom shouted in concern even as he cradled Harry's battered form within the new cage formation.
"You'll do no more witchcraft boy!" Tobias Snape snarled drunkenly as he brought his belt back again for another strike. The strike landed, dragging another yelp of pain from Severus before Tom realized the same thing as Severus had and employed his own Occlumency to force the dream in another direction.
A split second before the third strike landed Severus had replaced Tom in holding the battered Harry in the once more changed cage area. He nearly got sick when he saw Tom fighting not to get tied down by a set of priests spouting about driving the demon out.
Another focused shift from Severus and his Occlumency had him facing the Marauders as Tom shivered in the cage area, clutching a rapidly clear eyed Harry to him.
"Look! Its Snivellous!" a young man with grey eyes, wild dark hair, and what Tom recognized as the classic Black looks declared with malicious glee.
"Sirius Black," Severus snarled in greeting, relieved that it wasn't the incident where Lupin nearly ate him. Though from the look of it this memory was from their 6th year.
"Come on Sirius, we don't have time to play with him," a boy that was a near visual mirror of Harry said pointedly. The cruel glint in his eye was explained with his next words. "We can get him later. Moony is going to need us tonight."
"Dumbledore may have forced me to keep your little wolf safe from the Aurors but you two will pay for it eventually," Severus spat, completely forgetting their audience. "Maybe I'll even find a way to make you appreciate just how I feel about nearly being turned into Werewolf food!"
"No one will believe you and you'll find that you slimy Slytherins will one day be wiped out. I look forwards to when we no longer have to deal with any of you traitors," Harry's mirror image said cruelly.
"James Potter! I have never been so disappointed in a student for their words," McGonagall scolded as she came around a corner. "50 points and a week of detention for threatening a fellow student! And another 10 for defaming the Headmaster."
Harry had caught on to the fact that each scene was related in some way to the previous ones. He also realized what the other two were doing and shocked both of them when he forced the next shift as he saw Sirius try to furiously hex Severus from behind as McGonagall turned away.
The scene shifted to first year when Harry was facing McGonagall for being caught out after curfew to help get Norbert off school grounds with a slightly different twist.
"Mr. Malfoy came to me with a wild tail about you and a dragon. While I don't believe that we have any dragons here for you to get into mischief over I still must take 50 points... each for misleading a schoolmate and being out of bounds in a dangerous area so late at night," McGonagall said disapprovingly.
Harry ignored the woman and turned to face his bondmates with a smile before explaining. "Except we were with a dragon. Hagrid had hatched one and we finally got him to understand it wasn't safe for anyone to keep a dragon at the school. Ron's brother Charlie came and got the baby dragon right before we were caught. I lost my cloak that night but Dumbledore returned it to me later on. I don't know if he knew or was following us or if my dad's cloak was just turned in as a lost item. What I do know is that he keeps sending me back to the Dursleys, isn't willing to tell me anything, and stops teachers from punishing me the way everyone else is. He's also weirdly fixated on my obeying him. I'm glad he sent Hagrid to rescue me from the Dursleys so that I could go to Hogwarts but he doesn't do anything that adults are supposed to do. Only Ron and Hermione ever cared and now the two of you."
Harry walked over to them and as he touched the bars everything but his two bondmates melted away into a grey mist.
"I used to make up stories and worlds in my head," Harry said wistfully as he shocked the other two with his control of the dreamscape. Another hand motion and they were sitting in big squishy chairs. Severus' chair was a black leather one, while Tom's was a pine green, and Harry's was a brick red.
They all felt it when control was wrenched from them as familiar grabbing and hurting hands snatched them from their seats. The voices blended together as they mocked the trio for ever believing they would have, much less keep, the other two.
For an eternity they were torn from each other. Then something snapped and they were together again, fighting to stay with one another and fighting off their tormentors. Faces new and old, memory upon dream upon memory, fought to rip them apart and hurt them. The trio fought tooth and nail, defending themselves and each other, working as one all while learning the nightmare that had been the lives of the others in excruciating detail.
A moment of absolute silence fell an unknown time later only for them to slowly wake to the worried Malfoys and the concerned yet soothing hiss of Bailey.
"I didn't like that," Harry said hoarsely.
"Neither did we," Tom grumbled.
"Ng," Severus grunted, forcing himself up just enough to lay on top of his bondmates protectively, tucking them beneath him with the last of his strength.
"Don't you three dare go back to sleep. I want you each to have a bowl of broth. For the next three nights you three are going to be under observation when you sleep," Narcissa ordered worriedly, drawing on her healer training to stay calm and not squash the trio in a hug.
None of them argued as they were fussed over as long as they were able to stay in reach of one another. The rest of the summer passed without incident aside from a brief trip to sort out potion ingredients for the upcoming year since Dumbledore hadn't been willing to let Severus out of his teaching contract.
September 1st and the train ride were going to be interesting.
Draco slammed into the compartment the bonded trio were currently using, clearly fuming about something as he angrily took one of the empty seats. Harry, Tom, and Severus exchanged a concerned glance. Ever since the shared three day nightmare that had scared the Malfoys and the sharing of memories that came with it the three of them had seen the three blonds as family. Draco had taken nearly the entire rest of the summer to realize he now had three godfathers, one of which was the same age as him. The three of them had also gotten the disjointed and frankly insane memories from the soul shard that had been living in Harry's scar until the formation of the bond and its merge with them during the nightmares.
"Draco?" Harry asked softly.
"Weasel," Draco grunted, fighting not to snap at his youngest godfather.
"What did Ron do?" Harry asked in resignation as he closed the book the three had been discussing. Bailey was asleep at their feet, curled up under a warming charm and perfectly happy to simply be with his three wizards.
"Nothing that matters," Draco said dismissively as he visibly forced himself to calm properly. "He was upset that he couldn't find Harry and decided that I was to blame for corrupting him and hiding him away."
"And to think he was calling me traitor last year because I could speak to snakes," Harry said with a heavy sigh as he leaned back in his seat.
"Black escaped a few days ago and Dumbledore found a way back into the Headmastership. Hogwarts only reopened after a very thorough search of the school and the discovery of Aragog. My guess is that they just wanted it to be over with like last time since they called it good after burning out the Acromantula nest in the forest, never mind that Acromantula can't petrify people. That area was far to close to the school and Hagrid had a steep fine for not reporting it for removal," Tom reminded them all thoughtfully.
"You tipped them off about the nest," Harry reminded the young Dark Lord with a touch of amusement.
"They nearly ate you. If it hadn't been for your bloody dumb luck neither you nor Weasley would have made it out of the forest, much less back to the castle," Severus growled. His displeasure was split between Harry's foolish recklessness and Aragog's attempt to feed the duo to his children.
"I was fairly desperate with rumors of the school shutting down," Harry pointed out calmly. His two bondmates just grumbled a bit more before letting it drop. They knew they would have done the same.
"Has Father said if you will be able to share Uncle Sev's quarters?" Draco asked, deciding not to question the thing about the Acromantulas.
"Dumbledore contacted me and flatly informed me that Harry has to stay in his dorm and that as a 13 year old I may have to join the Slytherins in the second year dormitory. Never mind that I am a staff member and never mind that I am still legally in my thirties. Thankfully, Lucius forced the issue before the old goat could lie to my face. Both Tom and Harry will stay in my quarters, though it is on the contingency that Tom refreshes his knowledge and re-takes the OWLs and NEWTs as a precaution. He will be randomly joining classes as needed to update and refresh his knowledge," Severus informed them, smirking at getting one over on Dumbledore.
"I intend to drag it out as much as possible so that I finish updating my schooling at roughly the same time that Harry does. I am hoping that Harry will be willing to put in the extra effort to get his OWLs and NEWTs early, moving on to an apprenticeship under the old man's nose. This of course will happen while pretending to still be a normal student and graduating with your year," Tom explained with a smirk.
"It will keep me from getting bored since we shared memories. It will also keep me from straining my core by trying to cast things too early unless its an emergency," Harry agreed reluctantly.
"Don't think we didn't notice how you regularly dumb down your work or how you were punished for learning by those muggles," Severus pointed out warningly.
"You aren't going to let me skim by are you?" Harry asked warily.
"Not a chance," Tom agreed pleasantly, earning a groan from Harry and a snicker from Draco.
"Welcome to my world Potter," Draco said, finally breaking down and laughing outright.
"Shove it prat," Harry grumbled good naturedly.
The door to the compartment slammed open, abruptly cutting off their conversation as Ron and Hermione frantically searched their compartment. Upon seeing Harry, well dressed and well fed, their eyes widened in shock as they briefly froze before snatching him up... or trying to. Instead of successfully laying hands on Harry they slammed into two new boys they had never seen before, snarling at them as they protected Harry from the friendly assault.
"Back off," Severus barked, shocking the duo who immediately recognized his voice.
"Professor Snape?!" Hermione whispered fearfully.
"Worried or not you will not be manhandling Harry," Tom snarled, resisting the urge to draw his new wand and hex them silly.
"So glad Dumbledore got a new Potions teacher," Ron muttered resentfully.
"What do you mean?" Harry asked dangerously, a hand on each of his bondmate's shoulders to try and keep them both grounded and calm.
"Professor Dumbledore told us that Professor Snape can't teach since he's 13 again," Hermione explained, relaxing a bit now that she was on more familiar footing. "I haven't had a chance to research it yet but he said something about his magical core being different than when he was still... well adult-like."
"That is one of the reasons I tried getting out of my teaching contract. At least now I know what he is doing by refusing to release me from it," Severus said with a scowl.
"What did he do?" Draco asked warily.
"I am likely going to be used to tutor students but otherwise treated as a third year again if his hints about sleeping in the dorm are in any way connected. An act which is a clause under my teaching contract and like as not the reason he wouldn't let me out of it," Severus said in a pained tone. "I will also likely be stuck gathering ingredients near Hogwarts and kept as far away from my bondmates as possible, never mind that it might kill the three of us. I suspect that upon our arrival we would find my quarters sealed or cleaned out or otherwise barred from our access. I have no idea what he plans to do with my head of house duties."
"Father is going to be furious," Draco pointed out angrily. "No one hurts our family and gets away with it!"
"Calm Draco," Harry warned. "The solution is simple we withdraw from Hogwarts and charge him with attempted murder via attempted withholding of a medical necessity. Even if he gets out of the charges we never come back... no matter how much it hurts to be banned from our home."
"Harry you can't!" Hermione protested.
"We most certainly can," Severus said frostily. "The penalty for breach of contract might be extreme but it is better than slowly dying because the Headmaster has decided to ignore the reality of our bond."
"Dying?" Hermione squeaked, obviously distressed.
"Yes, dying," Tom reinforced, seeing a chance to get the two on their side rather than Dumbledore's.
"That's not on.... We'll help and I bet I can get Fred and George to help... maybe Percy too but he's more likely to go to Dumbledore. We'll have keep working on training Hermione though or she might decide Dumbledore has to know," Ron said with thoughtful determination.
"Ron!" Hermione protested in bewilderment.
"Ah, so you have caught on to my evil plan of corruption," Harry said with playful wickedness.
"Yup, but I really do need her help with studying or I would have tried harder to corrupt her. 'Cor its hard to corrupt her when you haven't found what she likes outside of school and books which is counter productive," Ron said sheepishly, rubbing at the back of his head in embarrassment.
"I'm not allowed to skim this year though," Harry said in a mournful sigh nodding at his two bondmates. Ron shrugged his understanding before looking thoughtful again.
"Hermione, I won't complain about the study schedules you make up and I'll actually try more in class if you try to relax this year. I'll help you with a project, any project, if you help me help Harry," Ron offered enticingly. "But you can't go to Dumbledore or the teachers about any of it without us agreeing. Since Professor Snape is going to be part of this and all we already have adult supervision."
"Of course I'll help Harry... but don't you think we should tell Dumbledore? I mean he was nice enough to give us extra help and all," Hermione said uncertainly, biting her bottom lip.
"I know and it always felt weird but Mum and Dad needed the money he gave us. Still not sure what it was really for even if he said it was for food and stuff when Harry stays over and so he can have a safe place that's among trusted friends. Mum and Dad didn't want to take it either but with how the twins blew up that shop..." Ron said making a face.
"Indeed?" Severus asked, suddenly still under Harry's equally suddenly tight hand.
"Mum and Dad said we would wait outside the platform so that Harry knew how to get in and it was up to us to choose if we wanted to be friends with Harry. They said that it was a prank on the Headmaster since no one should be used like a chess piece. I talked to dad about Hermione knowing stuff early like how to get past Fluffy's locked door. He recons it was a set up too but she didn't know the extra book wasn't supposed to be taught yet since it was under the muggleborn only stuff and could have been an accident. Mum and Dad warned us to be extra careful this year and that we should tell Snape and you so that you don't think we wanted to hurt you," Ron explained honestly.
"They talked to my parents and we went to the ministry to make Mr. and Mrs. Weasley my magical guardians so that I can't be made to obey and hurt you," Hermione admitted. "I didn't really understand anything except that Ron's parents now look out for me and work with mine if something comes up. I'm also supposed to say I'm sorry, according to mum and dad, and invite you to visit but I didn't know any of it was bad."
"It wasn't bad per say just... a trail of bread crumbs so that you will do what someone else wants," Tom said with a sigh. "No one should be used like that and its something that Slytherin House trains us to be aware of. Too many politically powerful children in one way or another go to Hogwarts and if you have enough aptitude Slytherin house helps you train to glide through the politics."
"Miss. Granger what has been described is not unlike someone purposefully altering details in a school book and making certain that only certain people have that book. Then the person, knowing that the changed information is wrong, ensures that those same people with the changed book believe it is the only way to live. This may or may not be accompanied with the assurance that any other method or information will get them killed and must be squashed as false," Severus explained tiredly, using books as an analogy for the bushy haired girl.
"But that's brainwashing! That's just as bad as slavery, worse because they don't know they are a slave," Hermione said in obvious distress.
"Hermione, do you remember what the christian bible says about teachers?" Harry asked gently, capturing her distraught gaze. She shook her head mutely to bothered by the idea of learning that is nothing but a way to wipe someone's mind. "Teachers are the greatest rank you can achieve but they also carry the heaviest responsibility. To be asked to be a teacher by god is to be asked to pass on what you have learned and understand of his mysteries, of what he made when everything was born. The responsibility part comes in with making sure you don't teach anything false and correcting it quickly when you find out that you've been mistaken about something that you teach. The other half of that is being at least partly responsible for the wrongs of your students if you teach bad information because of how much it can hurt someone."
"The christian bible also calls for our deaths," Draco scoffed.
"No, actually it doesn't. I did the research on it last summer when I was locked up by the Dursleys. Magic isn't banned by the bible and the stuff that is scorned, called witchcraft, is all stuff that only hurt people. I found out that if you follow what the bible actually says rather than the dogma surrounding it that isn't actually part of god's decrees it helps with your magic. I think it might do weird things to bad magic like Dark and Black Arts but the protection from anything meant to really hurt someone applies to everyone who follows Jesus, even if it happens weird. When I looked at it again after Sev and Tom shared our memories I found out that Magic is not only natural but that it got hurt a long time ago. Following Jesus and accepting his guidance and teaching gives us a safety net and buffer so that the hurt magic doesn't leach into us and hurt us. It also keeps things like demons from being able to control us and sometimes stops a direct attack by another person, like an extra shield charm that turns on when its really needed. I haven't figured it all out but showing Tom all of this let him understand why some people hurt him and how they were wrong even if they thought they were doing right," Harry explained.
Harry wondered why he was sharing all of this with the others but figured it would only help any way. Hermione would be in the library or owling her parents for a bible to look at before the week was out and Ron would hear about her results later, whether he wanted to or not.
The rest of the ride passed in contemplative silence.
I have no idea why the bible reference slipped in but its there.
As to researching that description of the bible vs magic... I actually did research it years ago. Some of the reason for the misinterpretation was actually a translation issue and some of it was willful misinterpretation to gain more earthly power by the idiots in control at the time. This resulted in mass killings, especially of those who gained blessing from god for following his requests about how to live, honor, and care for everyone around them under the accusation of witchcraft alongside those who were actually guilty. Those people tend to be seen as a threat to the greedy idiots and the demons who willingly promote jealousy, hatred, and other nasty things.
I promise you that demons are real and the bible shows you how to fight them if you find that you need to.
That said understanding the bible isn't simple and there will be things inside it that you will never understand or simply can't bring yourself to read. The reason for this is that god has reserved certain knowledge for certain people... aaaand he turned the bible into a type of Palimcest (I know I spelled that wrong).
A Palimcest is a book that is written on top of or inside of another book. This started when old monasteries and libraries and the like had to record new, very necessary information. They would wash the faded, illegible books and reuse the material for the new books. Researchers still find parts of the washed away books inside the originals and do their best to study and/or preserve it.
Chapter 15: Sort Anew
Dumbledore waylaid them just as they arrived in the entrance hall. It was obvious to the bonded trio that whatever he had planned he wanted it to be public. It was probably in an attempt to keep them from fighting back or otherwise being seen as the bad guy because it would be all "out in the open and above board". To bad none of them planned to go along with that or let him lie to everyone about their positions and situations.
"Severus! Might I speak with you and your.. er, friends? I am afraid that it is important," Dumbledore said in a mix of cheerful and regretful that immediately had the trio plus three different heads of hair on edge.
"What, exactly might this be about?" Severus asked cautiously, Tom and Harry flanking him with Ron, Hermione, and Draco at their backs.
"I am sorry my boy but because of your new situation a few things will need to change with your teaching contract. I promise you that I fought very hard so that you might keep your job and wouldn't be subject to the special clause in your contract. Unfortunately, because that portion was covered the way it was I had to make certain concessions so that you might remain in the castle," Dumbledore informed him solemnly. "It was a bit of a stretch fighting Lord Malfoy to keep you here but I won you permission for Mr. Potter and... your other companion to room with you. A special exemption to the rules under the health clauses."
"What clause? I don't... oh," Severus started out scowling until he remembered the clause that had helped keep him out of Azkaban the first time he was hired as part of Hogwarts staff. He had totally forgotten about that. It now made perfect sense why his situation in regards to Hogwarts had been so strange. It also made sudden sense why Lucius couldn't get him free of his teaching contract thought his friend had tried.
"Actually... I think Lucius played you. I had forgotten that clause and when Lucius had offered to try and get me free of my teaching contract so that I wouldn't need to be separated from Tom or Harry because of our bond I said yes," Severus admitted sheepishly, blushing bright red. The sudden whispers and giggles or quiet laughter from the students only deepened his blush further as he mentally cursed his once more immature body as Dumbledore looked at him in dumbfounded surprise. Harry fought not to laugh outright as Tom turned accusing eyes on his usually dour bondmate.
"So he was indeed attempting it on your behalf?" Dumbledore inquired, eyebrows raised in surprise once he had regained himself.
"Yes," Severus said sheepishly.
"Well, no matter. We would have needed to adjust to the situation regarding your new youthful appearance and your bondmates in any case. Lucius' attempts merely forced the issue to be addressed in enough time that we wouldn't be scrambling to adapt or ignore it for this year," Dumbledore said, recovering his cheerful attitude quickly. "That said I am afraid that both you and your Tom will need to be sorted. The three of you will be free to eat on a rotating basis between whatever houses you three are placed in and the staff table."
"There may be a problem with all of our placements Headmaster. You see later in the bonding process we... shared memories," Tom reminded him deferentially, doing his best to be polite, control his seething hatred of the man, and completely fool everyone around them with his act. He managed it... barely. "As a result our joint education is a bit strange ranging from Harry's initial level to each of our level's since we both had more than one Masters in different subjects. We planned to even everything out so that we were all at about the same level over time to avoid problems but in the mean time our skill levels except in certain areas or parts of subjects is going to be all over the place."
"Then its a good thing the board insisted the three of you would be considered assistant staff while attending regular classes outside of any staff duties. Since you are to be counted as one person due to the intensity of your bond you are assured your unusual place at the school while your education is refreshed and you all grow. Now, Severus, due to the youthening of your body the difference in your core stability had to be addressed. As such you are assigned only to teach the first four years of Potions and I have convinced other staff members to take the upper three years with your occasional aid and Poppy's help. The Defense position has been filled and all three of you are considered honorary members of whatever house your bondmates are in. Severus, you can still take points and assign detention but may not oversee any detentions, much like a prefect," Dumbledore explained while the students around them listened instead of going into the great hall like they were supposed to.
"Ingredient gathering?" Severus asked warily. Bailey watched all of this with fascination from his hiding place inside Tom's robes. He didn't like this stringy old wizard and had no plans to let the man hurt his wizards, not again.
"Alas, I can not condone your entrance into the forest without extra staff help and no, your bondmates don't count. Your younger core will be just as much at risk as Harry's for over straining if you cast too powerful of a spell," Dumbledore said sadly. "For the safer locations I would also prefer it if you took along a sixth or seventh year student in addition to your bondmates but I know you will likely be stubborn about this so I will not forbid it. Because you will be teaching and aiding the rest of the staff while attending classes I will not ask you to tutor anyone unless you chose to do so yourself. We must keep you healthy as you once more grow into a fine young man with your bondmates."
"I will not let them mistreat us if they think that I am weaker or an incapable staff member now that I am younger," Severus said flatly, indicating the surrounding students.
"For that I will not argue if you choose to deal with them as you did the Marauders, provided none come to harm," Dumbledore said firmly, giving them permission to prank anyone that disrespects them as staff members. "As for testing in the various subjects that I will leave up to the staff and for you to arrange privately. For now the three of you are tentatively placed in third year with young Harry."
"Acceptable," Tom said quickly, not wanting to argue when, despite Dumbledore's apparent blindness, he could still be potentially pegged as a younger Voldemort.
"My Head of House duties?" Severus asked quickly, he couldn't abandon his snakes.
"Joint responsibility for the three of you. Unfortunately, because of your unique situation none of you can be on any House Qudditch team," Dumbledore told them, his bright smile dimming a bit. Ron cursed behind Harry earning a jab from Hermione while Harry himself just nodded in understanding. The other two really didn't like flying on brooms despite their own times on the Slytherin Qudditch team.
Bailey finally emerged from Tom's robes much to everyone's shock to hiss at Dumbledore in warning. "~If you hurt my wizards again the school will help me protect them and you will be very sorry if you even live to see the dawn afterwards.~"
"Harry?" Dumbledore asked for a translation uncertainly.
"He promised retribution if you hurt us again. As Bailey is a part of our bond he chose to confer the ability to understand him to all three of us. Incidentally, Harry's previous ability with the language was incomplete and fading until Bailey replaced it with its properly gifted form," Severus informed him levelly, fudging a bit on the Parseltongue. "Also his place in the bond is closer to equal so you might best consider him as our forth bondmate for all that the connection is naturally different. He is more than a familiar but legally listed as such to avoid... accidents. Don't think that you can banish him or separate him from us."
"I... shall keep that in mind," Dumbledore promised warily before quickly absconding towards the head table, prompting everyone towards their own tables.
"So where are you three going to sit?" Ron asked finally.
"Harry needs to stay with us until we are sorted and then, as it is a feast, we will need to sit with the rest of the staff," Severus explained with a weary sigh.
"I'll owl father tonight so he knows what happened with the contract. I noticed the Headmaster didn't mention that most of the Dark and half the Neutral only agreed to let their kids come back because you three were going to be here. They only named Potter or you, Uncle Sev, but they made it clear if you didn't come nearly half the students wouldn't be here either. Father was real smug about it, then he heard about the contract refusing to dissolve," Draco told them semi-quietly as they waited for the first years while everyone else got settled in the great hall. "He also fought not to get the train searched by Dementors for Black. Mother was the one to get Fudge to back off about that one. I think she scared half the Aurors in the process though. So I'll have to tell them the nasty things didn't search the train."
"Good to know," Harry said simply. None of them who knew Narcissa were surprised about her unusual defeat of half the Auror Corps over the issue.
"At least our bodies will mature faster than usual to compensate safely for our large core sizes. Our minds are already at least 18 due to our sharing of memories. I suspect that once we hit normal OWL testing we will be physically 17 if not sooner. It may speed up drastically once we physically hit 15," Tom mused. "Until then we will likely have to take time to bleed off power but still avoid the higher level spells because the draw from will pull too much on our cores and deform them."
"That will be dangerous if something life threatening happens again," Hermione pointed out.
"Thankfully, Harry didn't have any damage to his own core from your... adventures since none of you used spells from fifth year or above. Until you physically hit 15 you need to stick with things listed as OWL level or under for actual casting. You can study the theory as far ahead as you like though," Severus drawled with a smirk, knowing the rest of the staff was going to hate him for pointing that out to the brave bookworm.
Ron groaned as Hermione's eyes lit up. Harry, much to his amusement, immediately figured out that his bondmate was going to use Hermione as a random tester for the three of them. This was going to help make sure they were ready to take their OWLs as soon as humanly possible even if they could only study theory for the moment and would have to wait to practice many spells later.
"Don't worry Ronald, Severus and I will be teaching the rest of you how to duel properly and how to keep from getting cursed," Tom drawled with his own smirk.
"Why? I mean I figure you were connected to the diary and, knowing Harry, probably the Dark Lord somehow but I'm not sure why we need it... oh, right," Ron said, putting his tactical mind to use only to come upon a good reason for the training.
"Mr. Weasley whether we six are forced to fight off deranged Death Eaters or not you can just as easily put our training to use against your twin brothers," Severus pointed out in amusement. Ron's eyes lit with unholy glee as he agreed enthusiastically.
"Okay that's just weird. Sev you can call us by last name only when acting as staff or teacher," Harry put his foot down firmly, not wanting his friends and his bondmates to fight.
"I am not changing it for anyone else but these three and the other Weasleys simply to keep the blasted tribe of redheads straight," Severus pointed out with a feigned sniff of disdain. Harry could tell he was mostly playing and agreed readily as the others were finally shooed into the great hall and McGonagall brought the first years to stand with them.
"Severus?" McGonagall asked falteringly as she caught sight of them.
"Hello, Minerva. Did our esteemed Headmaster fail to explain why I needed those special accommodations this year? Or that I, Potter, and Tom needed them at all?" Severus asked in a mix of resignation and amusement at her reaction.
"There was very little explaining, just that you would need the rest of the staff to cover your 5-7th year classes this year due to something that happened over the summer," McGonagall admitted, quickly regaining her equilibrium.
"Yes, Potter's luck struck again. Instead of accidentally leveling the school and a good chunk of the surrounding area when his core nearly ruptured he latched on to me and Tom, bonding us and stabilizing his core. This later caused a reduction in my physical age. I am now forced to be resorted despite our current joint status of being staff members. If you wish further details I am afraid it will have to wait," Severus summarized succinctly. They had talked about which staff members they would confide in before leaving for the train that past week and Minerva was a necessity in a number of ways. Ways that included her time as a student with Tom, her position as Harry's head of house, and her friendship with Severus as well as her position as Deputy Headmaster.
"Well then, I'll see you three after the feast," McGonagall instructed before turning to the first years and giving the standard house introduction speech.
Ten minutes later the entire group was lead into the great hall for the sorting. two minutes after they came to a stop and McGonagall had stepped away to physically place the hat and stool Snape caught sight of a tired, mild mannered Remus Lupin.
"Wolf!" Severus shouted, lunging for Lupin as he drew his wand, Harry and Tom not far behind him.
"Albus! You told me he knew!" McGonagall said angrily as she quickly moved towards the bonded trio and tried to calm them down. She got there in time to keep them from cursing the startled werewolf or anyone else for that matter.
"I am sorry Minerva. It must have slipped my mind," Dumbledore said in false regret.
"Right. Sev? Unless the consequences of breaking your contract are really really bad we should probably leave now," Harry spat, glaring at the twinkly-eyed puppet master expecting them to play nice.
"Unfortunately, they are," Severus said with a fierce scowl as he allowed Minerva to calm him and his bondmates. She guided them back towards their temporary place with the first years as the three replaced their wands, glaring at the old man. "He's not dangerous, strictly speaking, except during his monthly illness but I will never like him and I don't really want any of us to get near him."
"This plus Black... I think I hear the sound of spider silk on a weaving loom," Harry muttered as the song came from the hat and McGonagall started calling names. He suspected that the old lioness had decided to call them last to give them a chance to calm down and was suddenly grateful for it.
The name Harry Potter came out of Minerva's mouth, startling everyone.
"Now Minerva only Tom and Severus need sorting. Harry is perfectly fine where he is, in Gryffindor," Dumbledore said firmly a twinkle in his eye.
"Not according to the hat and the castle. The specific and very odd instructions for sorting this year were for all three of them to be resorted but not to worry about the sorting being announced after looking at all three of them. Apparently, the hat has to do something unusual due to the way they bonded. You read the sorting list before giving it to me, didn't you see the note?" Minerva asked in a mix of amusement and false innocence.
"Why?" Harry asked suspiciously. He didn't mind the chance to be in the same house as his bondmates but he wanted to know what was going on, especially since Dumbledore didn't seem to know any more than they did.
"As Severus is Head of Slytherin House and you both will be helping him with his duties none of the three of you can be in Slytherin but Albus invoked some sort of old rule to force your bondmates to be sorted. I don't think he realized it extended to you as well. Your bond also presents complications so you must all be sorted and it must be done in consideration with the sorting of your bondmates as well. None of that changes that you will still be quartered with Severus in his staff quarters or the other parts that I heard Albus explaining to you in front of everyone in the entrance hall. I still expect you three for tea after the feast," McGonagall informed them.
"Yes ma'am," Harry said smoothly as he approached and accepted the hat for a second time.
"Right then, I'll just... no, no, NO!" the hat spluttered before literally jumping off of Harry's head into McGonagall's arms. The hat shivered for a moment as everyone watched him in surprise for nearly twenty minutes until he finally spoke. "Nasty defenses that bond gave you three, at least what I got means I don't have to sift through the others in the bond to place the three of you. Now, normally I would place all three of you in Slytherin because of your thirst for knowledge tempered by the understanding that not only is knowledge power but it is of no use unless you use it. As that isn't an option you have a choice between Gryffindor for the courage the three of you have displayed or Ravenclaw for the thirst of knowledge that you all carry or Hufflepuff because of your loyalty to one another. As with Mr. Potter the first time your near perfect mix of all houses gives you three the chance to choose your house. Alternately, because of your bond and unique situation you can choose no house and be counted among all the houses. Your normal table would simply remain the staff table."
A quick glance between the bonded had them decided.
Harry stepped forwards first and bravely declared their choice quickly followed by the mirroring steps and voices of his bondmates. "No House."
In a soto voice the hat told McGonagall "I want to come to your tea meeting too and we'll need Fawkes."
"Agreed," Minerva muttered, eyeing the three with interest and easily ignoring the spluttering of a thwarted old goat. The feast passed with no more surprises.
Chapter 16: Extended Family
Tom waited until they were safely ensconced in Minerva's office before bursting out laughing. "He did it all in front of the entire school and now he can't change a thing!"
"Did you know about being able to choose?" Severus asked seriously, ignoring the laughing baby Dark Lord and the amused Savior.
"No, I honestly had no idea," Minerva admitted as she placed the Sorting Hat off to one side of her desk just as Fawkes flamed in to settle on the perch she kept there just for him.
"Are we going to have any Dark Lord problems Mr. Riddle?" the hat asked archly, immediately sobering Tom.
"Not from me or at least not the insane version of my other self," Tom said with a scowl.
"I had wondered why you looked so.... familiar," Minerva murmured in clear irritation.
"Minnie, I promise you I am not a threat to the students unless they attack us to kill and the only staff member I am aware of us being a potential threat to is the old man," Tom informed her with a glower. "After what he did to me and my bondmates I can invoke the old laws if I have to but with all three of us this physically young it could hurt us to try. No, I'll wait until our cores can stand the strain of such an invocation before I try to get him crucified by the judgement magics."
"That... what did he do?!" Minerva demanded, completely appalled.
So they told her. They told her of the abuse in summary each had to endure because Dumbledore sent them back to their bad situations. To speak of it, even without most of the detail, it had to be spoken by their bondmates rather than from their own lips as the one being discussed cuddled Bailey. They told her what lead up their current situation and what happened in the Chamber. They explained who Bailey was and why he was safe to be around the school and they told her of the changes the bond had been making.
"That is what happened," Harry finished up. His voice was sore from lingering emotion.
Minerva had been very nearly ill during the telling, personally identifying several points that Dumbledore had later let slip were his fault. She also knew that if she broke their trust on this she wouldn't survive it and rightfully so. The amount of trust they had given her in telling her even the outline of their pain was staggering.
"Now we've told you before we required the magic to bind the secret because each of us has trusted you in some way. The problem now is that we can not leave this office without that information being protected. So Secrecy charm of some type, oath/vow, or Obliviation?" Severus asked softly, taking the matter of practicality into his own hands.
Right about then Ron, Hermione, and the Weasley twins fell through a false wall leading to a secret passage that had never made it on to the Marauders map. Severus rubbed at his face in exasperation, Tom looked at them in interest, while Minerva let out a groan of frustration.
"Nice timing guys, really," Harry drawled in open amusement. "You wanna tell us how long you were there?"
The question had to wait as a frantic Percy Weasley burst into the room calling for Professor McGonagall only to stop short at finding the missing students sprawled out on her floor, half inside an illusionary wall.
"Yes Mr. Weasley, I am aware of them and they will be sent up to the tower shortly," Minerva said tiredly, about to send Percy away but for Ron blurting something out.
"Mum was right! He's hurting Harry," Ron blurted only to get pounced on by the twins.
"Who?" Percy asked, eyeing Harry's bondmates with sudden suspicion.
"Dumbledore," Harry answered shortly, remembering the earlier conversation on the train. "He's playing a dangerous form of puppet master."
"Right, I'll owl mum in the morning to talk to you about it. I don't think I should know any details just yet," Percy said uncertainly, glancing at his younger siblings before asking. "Do you need to spell them to keep shut or can I take them to bed? I figure that mum will get it out of you if we really need to know because with them and Harry involved she will insist when she gets here."
"Probably. Ron told us about the family prank so I want to talk to her any way," Harry admitted, not even bothering to argue about Molly's ability to get answers from him. Percy nodded his understanding while he waited on the decision over the younger Gryffindors. He would wait to quiz them about Professor Snape and what happened in the Great Hall later.
Severus looked at Minerva expectantly as the only other person with the power level and knowledge to actually cast his special secrecy spell in the room without damaging their core. McGonagall rolled her eyes at her friend's expectant look and cast, limiting who could be spoken to about whatever the four Gryffindors had heard. Percy quickly collected the other Gryffs leaving the four plus hat, Phoenix, and basilisk alone.
"As for my own... I, Minerva McGonagall, do swear on my life and magic not to reveal or discuss what I have learned here this night without permission from Severus Snape, Harry Potter, or Tom Riddle. So mote it be," Minerva said firmly. The last part echoed by the three wizards, finishing the binding.
"I would allow you to speak with anyone else who is already aware but Dumbledore and I don't know who else is among that number," Severus said wryly.
"I understand," Minerva agreed graciously. Fawkes crooned, reminding everyone of his presence and setting Bailey to grumbling about stupid smug birds and hats.
"Guard our heirs well Bailey. If they should fall..." the hat said trailing off in ominous warning.
"~Stupid piece of cloth. I know and I am perfectly capable of defending our hatchlings,~" Bailey shot back with another grumble.
"I will hold you to that," the hat agreed just as Fawkes snatched him up and used his travel flame to send them back to their places in the Headmaster's office.
The arrival of Molly Weasley the next morning served an unexpected dual purpose, it kept them from seeing Dumbledore alone and it continued to throw off any suspicions of who Tom was. The twins were not so pleased since they were a large part of Molly's excuse to arrive the day after the welcoming feast.
"FRED and GEORGE WEASLEY!" Molly practically thundered from the doors into the great hall, immediately silencing the entire school breakfast.
"MUM?!" the twins squeaked in a mix of false terror and surprise, earning quiet laughter from nearly everyone.
"What have I told you about using such complex magic in your pranking? Magic that you don't properly understand yet?!" Molly complained in false fury, her mischief only caught by those in last night's meeting.
"I told you I would owl mum," Percy reminded them loudly, adding to the show.
"BUT!" the twins protested not getting beyond the one word.
"But nothing!" Molly scowled before turning to where Harry was seated at the staff table enjoying the show with his bondmates. "Harry dear would you collect your brothers, your bondmates, and Hermione while I discuss a place for us to talk with the Headmaster? If this is going where I think it is we may have to contact Lord Malfoy for part of the discussion."
"My...?!" Harry trailed off in a bit of a daze.
"Of course dear. Just because Dumbledore won't let us adopt you doesn't make you any less a member of the family," Molly said more softly but still easily heard by all. She had a strange look in her eye that Severus and his memories of his mother identified for his bondmates as genuine concern and caring warmth, a mother's love.
"Okay," Harry squeaked before quickly obeying, much to the amusement of the redheads and the cautious acceptance of his bondmates.
"Mum?" Ginny asked uncertainly.
"You finish your breakfast Ginny dear. Normally Hermione wouldn't be taught this either since she's a girl but with how much trouble Harry gets into she ought to know in case something happens and there is no one around to help. You'll learn about the female aspect when you're older. Hermione is just learning this bit of family magic a bit early," Molly assured Ginny warmly.
"Then... really? I get a sister?!" Ginny's eyes lit up like a Christmas tree.
"But of course! Why did you think your father was so uncomfortable when Hermione's parents were over? We used the old fostering ritual with her parents and the family magic accepted Harry back when your brothers had to rescue him with the car, both their hands are on the family clock. I haven't checked it properly since before the summer so I don't know if your brother's bondmates have appeared yet or not. The magic might do something odd with how their bond formed but we'll see what happens when it happens," Molly said with a bright laugh as she ushered her extended brood out of the hall. Ginny's happy chatter to anyone who would listen covered their exit nicely as Severus took the lead to show them a safe place to talk. The motherly redhead didn't even bother to speak to Dumbledore but she did mentally vow to show Arthur the dumbfounded look that the old man had on his face as they left.
Chapter 17: Molly
Severus wasted no time in leading the unusual group down into the dungeons intending to show them to one of the secure meeting places littering the area. Tom took the lead once they had entered the dungeon proper, earning a raised eyebrow but no protest from the Potions Master. The group finally stopped in front of a serpent carving and Harry comprehended what his bondmate was doing just before the entrance was ordered open in Parseltongue.
"Wow," the twins spoke for everyone when they expressed their appreciation not only of the hiding spot but of what they saw within it.
The room was decked out as a cozy common room in a mix of forest and water colors with leather seating and scattered tables of all types. The prime spot though, aside from near the enormous granite fireplace set with fresh logs, was the obvious stone dueling platform at the back of the room. The runic inscriptions all along the edge of the waist high dais glowed faintly with magic, ready to protect both viewers and walls from the magic of duelers. The lighting was provided by a mix of floating candles and torches in brackets scattered about the room.
"Huh, I'd always wondered where you guys met," Harry said cryptically.
"There was hardly only one location my Harry," Tom chuckled darkly. Once everyone was in the room the wall reappeared, sealing them in. He hadn't waited for the door to close before tossing a spell at the fireplace, lighting the logs within and adding even more light to the room.
"So? Can we talk about it now?" Ron asked eagerly, barely beating the twins to the punch.
"Only to those present, the Malfoys, McGonagall, and Madam Bones," Harry ordered, rolling his eyes at his friend's impatience. "We'll still need to spell Percy and Mrs. Weasley since we got the four of you last night."
"How many times have I told you to call me Molly?" Molly scolded.
"Madam, Harry has trouble thinking that anyone would care for him because of what those beastly muggles did to him. We haven't gotten to the point yet of him believing us properly and even though he can feel our care along the bond he still doubts even us. Let him go at his own pace," Tom instructed smoothly as he handed Bailey off to Harry for the green-eyed imp to cuddle. Harry mumbled a thank you and reverted to a fascinated 12 year old with a new pet to cuddle.
"Mum what they said in the paper was true! They were hurting Harry real bad and Snape got hurt too and... Harry's other..." Ron stumbled over his words in a mix of excitement over the discovery and distress over what his friend-brother had been through.
Molly stared in renewed shock before reverting to comforting cuddles with the four younger redheads getting quickly out of the way. She swept the three startled bondmates up into a bone crushing hug as she fought not to cry over what they had needed to live through. Her other children kept well back and held back Hermione so that they wouldn't get within reach and be swept up into the hug along with Molly's current victims.
"Oh! You poor dears!" Molly wept. The three struggled to get free of the hug while fighting not to panic. Bailey grumbled about being crushed since he was still in Harry's arms but otherwise didn't fight. He knew from experience with Helga Hufflepuff in his younger years that it was easier to just endure the hug.
"Can't breath!" Harry finally squeaked as he fell somewhat limp in her arms next to his bondmates.
"Oh! I am sorry my dears," Molly apologized, loosening her grip so that all three of them could take great big gulps of air. The twins snickered, earning smacks from Percy and glares from the three trapped wizards. "Now, if I can't get the three of you and Hermione to call me mum you will have to call me Molly, none of that Mrs. Weasley business, you are family now."
"Expect to be dragged home with us at Christmas," Ron informed them cheerfully.
"But Ron, they're staying with the Malfoys," Hermione reminded her friend and foster brother.
"Then I'll just have to get together with Narcissa and we'll sit our husbands down and make them solve this ridiculous blood feud. You see the blood feud, while a serious matter, has gone on for at least 3 generations already and with Harry as a common point we can invoke one of the lesser known clauses to end the feud. It will just be ridiculously difficult to get those two men to sit down and talk about it before coming to an agreement on which family owes what. The most difficult part has already been done thanks to Harry. He was accepted by our family magic first but must have been accepted by the Malfoy family magic for the emergency guardianship papers that Albus threw a fit over to have gone through. Now, Hermione, as a female member of the Weasley clan you will have to understand the various feuds, what causes a feud, why we are considered blood traitors, and the ways to fix the situation if need be. The men may start it but it is often up to us women to end it," Molly explained, much to the chagrin of the males present.
"Why?" Hermione asked, immediately intrigued.
"Because while the family authority falls to the Head of House and the immediate father/husband we control and raise the children. Its one of the reasons why the power in a household is balanced the way it is. Children are the future but the future cannot survive without protection in the present. As women we aren't built for combat but for nurturing and our protective instincts scare most males. This is because it is a last resort defense for the children and thus far more powerful when roused than nearly anything a male can bring to bear. This also applies to our magics. We provide the final line of knowledgeable protection and care for the children before the little ones have to fend for themselves and rely on the accidental magic to come to their aid. The men go off and fight incoming threats and bring in food stuff that requires muscle we don't have. Everything about a woman is designed as support for the men and the children," Molly explained to the younger witch much to the terror of the wizards present. Her grip on the three cringing bondmates never faltered or slipped, no matter how desperate they were to escape.
"But I've read that wizards can get pregnant," Hermione pointed out, her curiosity burning like a fire.
"Yes, but it is far more dangerous for a wizard to carry than a witch. The entire process becomes magical and extremely fragile inside a male body. It also has a very high death rate for both barer and child unless the wizards involved, both barer and father as well as the extra support wizard/witch, have very large magical cores. The larger the amount of magic provided for the pregnancy, any pregnancy really, the higher the chance that the child will not only survive but have a goodly sized magical core," Molly explained.
"Wait, so the squibs?" Ron asked in confusion.
"Sadly, no one knows what causes squibs or muggleborns," Molly said sadly.
"I bet it has something to do with genetics," Harry muttered as they were finally released from the hug of doom. The three released wizards quickly scrambled out of reach of the redhead matriarch. Molly, used to this from her own natural born growing and older sons, let them and hid a smile at how adorable she thought they were acting.
"So the abuse?" Percy asked, frantic to get them back on topic. The men had learned far too much of female things for the moment and he wanted the talk back on something sensible.
"Real," Severus confirmed shortly as he and his bondmates continued to watch Molly warily from their new position near the fireplace.
"If it was in the paper... why did you get McGonagall to spell us quiet?" George asked suspiciously.
"And what was the deal about her asking if there would be Dark Lord stuff?" Fred asked, equally suspicious.
"Remember the diary that messed with Ginny last year?" Harry asked hesitantly, cuddling Bailey close as he believed they would blame him or attack Tom over what had happened.
"Yeah," came the suspicious voices of the three youngest Weasley males.
"Hello, my name is Tom Marvolo Riddle, formally trapped inside a diary, and my older self goes by the name Voldemort. Ginerva owes Harry a life debt because of what happened in Salazar's Chamber between us," Tom said cheerfully. In the sudden shocked silence the sound of Harry's hand landing against his face in a face palm was heard clearly.
"Did you have to do it that way?" Severus asked wryly.
"They are Gryffindors, what other way would they understand it? Yes, from what Ginerva told me while I was stuck in the diary the twin menaces might have gotten a more subtle form since they are clearly at least part Slytherin but the others? No, they are clearly Gryffindor," Tom shot back with a snort of amusement.
"Harry?" Hermione asked tentatively.
"'Mione, my life is weird," Harry said succinctly. Ron snorted a laugh at that, breaking the tension and confirming to his friends and the twins that yes, this was all real. It was his own lack of concern that set everyone else at ease with their new reality as all of them had learned he had good instincts in one way or another.
"So why Malfoy?" Ron asked, making a face.
"Ask them. I wasn't consulted at all," Harry said, indicating his bondmates with a snort of amusement, then he went serious. "I really appreciate that you didn't try to push him on the train and that you didn't really bait him after you found us."
"I had to figure out what he did and if it fell under the feud or under helping you because I really hated letting you go back to the muggles," Ron admitted, showing off his tactical mind even so young.
"You do realize that Harry is going to grow up faster than you because of his magic and his bond with us?" Severus asked softly. He had pulled Harry back possessively so that they were back to front and the younger wizard was protectively in the curve of his older lanky body. Tom had stepped up beside them, his stance casual but ready to react if Ron took it the wrong way.
"Yeah," Ron said sadly. "Just means he's not a little brother any more but another older brother.
"Boys all of this will fall under a family secret once I get home and explain it to Arthur so that he can invoke the family magic," Molly told them. "That means that we don't need a secrecy spell to hide the knowledge. I'll have Arthur asign the anchor position to Harry since its largely his secret. Ginny is too young yet to know and I'm not sure I want her involved in this. I'm not sure I want any of you near the mess that Dumbledore is turning this into simply because it makes you each a target but Harry is a target anyway. Since we stand by our family so that makes the rest of us a target in any case so I won't forbid you from helping. I will however tell you to be careful.
"Ah, Lucius adopted me as his brother," Severus tentatively informed the woman.
"That just gives me even more incentive and another few reasons to speak to Narcissa about ending this feud. Harry was already a Weasley by magic and by family choice when you bonded so you married into the family. I happen to know that the feud magics would have interfered with the adoption if you didn't already have a bond with him and the adoption wasn't justified. Actually, now that I think of it your bonding nullified the feud magics. I will have to corner Arthur, Narcissa, and Lucius but I believe it may have even wiped out our blood traitor status," Molly said thoughtfully.
"Not unless you gave or agreed to reparations to the injured party in the matter," Tom pointed out. "As blood traitors your family is considered to be in the wrong."
"Yes, and we will do our best to sort this out before the end of the month so that it doesn't affect you Severus," Molly promised with a sad smile.
"Thank you," Severus said, inclining his head in acknowledgement. He really hadn't been looking forwards to the additional black mark on his reputation even if Harry's savior status neatly negated it.
"Hey, that might be why I didn't really want to fight with Malfoy. I only insulted him out of habit," Ron said in surprised discovery.
"Probably," Percy agreed with more than a little amusement. "I found that I don't have to fight the feud magics any more when it comes to Slytherins and Malfoy in particular since we've always seen the Malfoys as perfect Slytherins."
"Ah, spill over from the feud magics," Tom said knowingly. "The incident must have been a very strong offense to have caused that."
"A broken marriage contract with the last female Malfoy and infidelity," Molly said with a sigh. Tom, Severus, Harry, and Percy grimaced, understanding how bad of an insult that was.
"You're lucky the Malfoys didn't call for the death of your house. It was within their rights considering how rare female children are for them," Severus pointed out.
"We know and we know that Septimus was in the wrong but family fidelity is a key part of being Weasleys. Its one of the reason why Harry's position, even without the bonding and Severus' adoption, is reason enough to end a feud that could wipe out both families," Molly agreed with a heavy sigh. "One of the conditions that the Malfoys placed was disownment of Septimus but that isn't really possible with the Weasley family charter. Unless another family member is in serious danger from the actions of the family member that is to be removed or a few other things occur, such as being a traitor to the family, no one can be removed from the family. There are a couple of clauses that only the family matriarch can invoke that removes someone but it primarily acts to protect the children of the house."
"That explains what I saw during my first time at Hogwarts and the fall out from that particular mess," Tom said with a grimace.
"Since Harry was accepted by the family magics as an adopted child of the Weasley clan I can use the child protection clauses to force it if need be. Though your bond counts as a marriage contract under the Weasley family charter," Molly pointed out. "I'll have to show Arthur all of this. I think he was getting tired of fighting with Lucius anyway."
"Probably as tired as Lucius was," Severus agreed before deciding to end their little meeting. "I am afraid that I and my bondmates have some Head of House duties to attend to and other staff members to speak to about testing out of certain years and subjects."
"Oh, dear, I'm sorry I didn't mean to take up your entire morning," Molly said apologetically. "I'll see about getting the three of you signed Hogsmeade permission forms from both Arthur and myself as well as the Malfoys. I'll find a way so that Dumbledore can't deny them. Perhaps an additional visit to those muggles and a few charms to get their signatures as well? Technically, you shouldn't need them with Harry being attached to the two of you as his bondmates and you two being legally adults but... Well, Dumbledore or someone else might try to use it against the three of you and we do want you to be able to visit the village. I'll have to think on it."
"Thank you, we weren't even sent permission slips with my letter," Harry confided.
"Sounds like a try to block your queen mate. I wonder what else we'll find?" Ron mused. With that thought the meeting broke up as they wandered off in various directions once they left the dungeons.
Once they were safely ensconced in Severus', now their joint, office the three of them set about rearranging it so that they could all work together without getting in each others way. The first thing to do was move the furniture about and get the elves to bring in another two desks with chairs. These new desks were solid hardwood but in different coloring than Severus' original battered one was. Ironically, Harry got the golden honey colored one, while Tom got the one that was pale beige, where as Severus' was a dark mahogany.
"So, if I'm remembering right we have to work on all of the Slytherin's schedules and double check their grades," Harry reviewed thoughtfully. They might not have originally been his memories but that didn't make them any less vivid. Yes, his brain recognized them as Sev's memories and the one's from Tom as Tom's yet he had no problem using them as if they were his own for the most part. The memories just lacked emotion, like a movie.
"We also need to escort everyone to the Hospital wing for their yearly check up. I am so very glad that Severus started those when he took over as Head of House," Tom pointed out happily.
"And we got away before she started mentioning grandchildren," Severus added triumphantly.
"Hadn't thought about that," Harry agreed with a shudder of dread and suddenly very cheerful over their timely escape.
"The old man was more cleaver than I thought he would be," Tom said thoughtfully, eyes narrowing in suspicious contemplation. "He locked us to the school for at least the next year unless something extra ordinary dissolves Severus' contract. I don't know if wee should try breaking it again if that secret clause was so important that it kept you out of Azkaban. I presume that there is some magic keeping you from speaking of it properly now that you have been reminded of its existence?"
"Yes. It was one of the only ways to keep it from being used against me barring Dumbledore's attempts, though he favored using Lily and Harry as emotional blackmail or the outright threat of Azkaban. Now that the three of us are bound..." Severus admitted, trailing off into silence.
"We are open targets for him to control each other with," Harry finished softly. "Right now Tom is still a mystery to him but the two of us are trying to slip his leash, something he won't stand for in his perfectly ordered world."
"By using Severus and the teaching contract he has bought time with us firmly trapped in his domain to bring us to heel," Tom agreed with a grunt of disgust.
"He will use the students as leverage against us, especially the ones being abused. If he doesn't know yet he will figure out soon that the abused children and holding them as hostage to our good behavior will cut the deepest and hold the strongest to bind us. I told him about the Dursleys and he knows about that bastard Tobias. All three of us begged not to go back and hes denied all three of us even if he doesn't realize it yet," Harry pointed out with deep disgust.
"We will have to make certain the students don't suffer for our battle with him," Severus agreed with a sigh.
"First things first, we sort out our snakes and discuss our schedules with the other Heads of House as well as figure out when to test out of what subjects with the other staff," Tom said firmly.
"I don't want any of us near the wolf but there is no doubt that Dumbledore will force the issue to try and establish another hold on Harry," Severus concluded.
"We did warn him that we shared memories and he promised to let us prank people," Harry pointed out with an evil snicker.
"That reminds me I will make sure to file a complaint about his actions with the board," Severus drawled in open amusement.
"Lucius won't be happy," Tom grinned madly. "And he will enjoy the chance to stump the old goat over our Hogsmeade permission. Knowing him Dumbledore will be forced in to actually treating us as adults or at least removing our physical age as a consideration from anything. Though I'm not sure how the Weasley family siding with us will affect that play."
Their discussion continued as they worked to sort out everyone's class schedule for the year. They were interrupted when they were nearly done by a quiet knock on the door. Bailey licked the air, scenting for danger to his three wizards. What he found had him hissing in distress as he frantically tried to open the door himself.
"Just a moment," Severus called before getting Bailey to move so he could open the door. On the opposite side of the heavy wooden door stood a small collection of students from every house looking at him with desperate hope and clearly not in the best condition.
"Merlin," Tom cursed. He and Harry quickly used their magic to set up benches and cots in the room while Severus ushered the injured students into the decently sized room. Hogwarts kindly expanded the room to fit everyone and had the house elves discretely deliver various food, drinks, and healing supplies off to one side on the desks to help.
"Professor, we upper years checked the firsties in each house and brought the ones we could tell were like us," a quiet older Ravenclaw explained softly. The older students helped coax the younger ones safely inside and to a cot or bench depending on how bad they were hurt.
"You all did well to check Byron. None of you need fear my bondmates, like the rest of us they have faced the same and know the dangers of speaking. The same deal as usual applies, healing and silence in exchange for letting us try to help and coming to us with your problems and fears so that you need not do any of this alone. I am still trying to get many of you removed to somewhere safe for those who have trusted me enough to let me try but there are still problems stopping it. I, again, swear to all of you I am doing my absolute best in any way you allow me to help," Severus promised gravely. Everyone watched as he very obviously sealed the door from those attempting to enter for everyone's peace of mind. He cast a powerful special diagnostic spell he had developed over the entire room before turning to tend to the most dangerously injured and ill student first.
"You can come to any of us for help, even our snake Bailey," Harry offered. "I would never have been able to leave the ones hurting me without Tom and Professor Snape. Part of it was probably because everyone thinks I am something special when it was my mother not me that stopped the Dark Lord. You all have a better chance than I did and we are willing to help if you let us."
Tom gave a sound of firm agreement while tending to a little first year with a gash along her forearm that looked like she was nine rather than eleven. Bailey moved carefully through the room, checking on the ones his wizards hadn't gotten to yet and letting skittish hands pet him, soothing the ones attached to the hands. They worked steadily through the students, young and old, handing out potions, applying healing pastes, quietly comforting and listening to truth mixed with lie about the source of the injuries. By the time they were done all of their patients were laid out in cots asleep through exhaustion or the effects of a potion provided to them.
"The spell earlier scanned them in nearly every way that Poppy could have if they had gone to the hospital wing. It also made a record of their injuries and added it to the files I keep on them. About once a week or once a month I duplicate them as needed and add them to Poppy's files. Depending on how fast I have to get them out of their situation and if I can get past Dumbledore claiming exaggeration on the student's part I take a copy of their file to the ministry or to Lucius. No matter how hard we try some still don't make it back to the school or survive long enough to be pulled out," Severus informed his bondmates gravely. Tom and Harry just wrapped the normally dour wizard in their arms and allowed him to break down and cry.
Sorry for the sad ending to the chapter but Sev needed it.
Chapter 19: Nurses Visit
That night they never made it to their quarters, instead they kept vigil over the children that had come to them for healing and safety, taking turns to watch over them. In the morning, as had become the custom over the years, the other three Heads of House arrived to collect their students. They had discovered what Severus was doing years ago and lent him aid, along with Madam Pomphrey, where they could. Which was one reason why the files made it out of the school intact. All of them cared deeply for the students, after all they were their children for most of the year any way.
"Why didn't you notice me?" Harry asked McGonagall softly, hurt that his own pain had been missed.
"You are a good actor brat, and I was blinded by my hatred for James. I also have no doubt that Minerva, all of us really, were soothed into ignoring our misgivings by the Headmaster. Remember, out of the entire staff, I am the most skilled at finding those like us. You fooled me, even without hating James I doubt it would have been easy for me to tell. Why would they have been able to unless you slipped or told them if I couldn't tell?" Severus consoled his bondmate softly. Harry nodded his understanding but everyone awake noticed how he kept near to his bondmates after that.
"I will owl Lucius and ask that he go to the bank on our behalf. I see no reason not to use some of our funds to create a safe haven for them and arrange emergency portkeys, ones that can not be taken from them without consent. I promise that we will change this, somehow. For now we will have to wait until we can leave the school for a day or two to assign our seats and try to deal with creating laws to protect them," Tom informed his bondmates. He protectively pulled them against him in comforting cuddle as the last student, a little Hufflepuff girl, was returned to her dorm.
"We are gonna burn Dumbles bad for doing this? For acting as an evil Dark Lord while pretending to be a good guy? For hurting all of us?" Harry asked quietly in the now empty room.
"Now that we aren't trying to kill each other? Yes, I think we are but rescuing the children will need to come first," Tom agreed.
"Yeah. We're free, sort of, but they aren't. That's something we have to fix," Harry agreed firmly.
"First, breakfast then medical checks for our snakes. I will carry up the new file updates for the ones we treated when we go," Severus ordered, ending the grim discussion for the moment as they headed for their quarters to get ready for the day. Bailey had hissed his agreement with the plans they had made and contentedly followed the three about as they got ready for breakfast.
Breakfast was uncomfortable owing in part to the fact that Lupin had made it to the table before them, unlike the day before when the man had arrived just as Molly ushered them out of the hall. To top it off Dumbledore had tried to place Lupin between Harry and his bondmates, isolating Tom and Sev at the end of the table and trapping Harry between Dumbledore and Lupin. The three bondmates took one look at the set up and conjured another chair, putting Harry at the far end of the table, away from anyone but them.
"Harry?" Lupin asked with a tentative smile.
"Lupin," Harry greeted coldly.
"Now, Harry is that anyway to talk to an old friend of your parents?" Dumbledore asked in clear disapproval.
"Its a perfectly acceptable way of greeting someone who has nearly eaten one's bondmate," Tom shot back cruelly.
"Severus, you shouldn't have prejudiced Harry against one of his family," Dumbledore admonished. The rest of the staff stiffened in barely hidden shock as they realized his words weren't a denial and that the students could be at risk.
"I didn't tell them a thing, just as you forced me to vow in my fifth year. Have you already forgotten we shared each others memories as the bond settled? The very reason we need to see about testing our joint knowledge level and what we each retained? You are getting old Albus. I didn't have to say a word to them, they viewed it themselves. Be glad our only attempt to curse him was at the sorting when we weren't expecting to see him in the first place as you had failed to inform us of his presence on the grounds much less as staff," Severus pointed out icily.
"What exactly happened in your fifth year Severus?" McGonagall asked ominously.
"Nothing of import my dear," Dumbledore waved her off cheerfully.
"Nothing I may speak of," Severus answered sourly. Neither Harry nor Tom spoke, all three of the bondmates had plans for Lupin and for the real twinkly eyed culprit of the incident, if only by indulgence.
"Gentlemen, I will have answers from you," McGonagall informed them firmly.
"Minerva, I can't speak of it, not won't but can't, and at the time I wasn't given a choice," Severus explained what he could. Harry noticed his barely hidden trembling and placed a comforting hand on his bondmate's arm, grounding him more firmly in reality and the protection of his bondmates. Tom spoke for the three of them after that.
"To clarify we don't care about Lupin's medical condition. What we do care about is his proven carelessness and the risk of accidentally infecting or harming a student during the dangerous portion of his cycle. Until he can prove his responsibility in that respect and adherence to being in a secured area more than a night's constant travel in his alternate form distant from the school on those nights... Well, we will see him as a threat to not only us but the students as well. Severus' memories of his time in school are what gives him even that sliver of a chance after the moonlight debacle so don't blame him for our dislike. Both Severus and I have at one point or another met others with this same condition, others we would prefer to have on staff over someone as careless as Lupin," Tom informed him coldly. "Be assured that if we find ourselves facing his alternate form for any reason we will curse to kill and risk deforming our cores in the process."
"But!" Dumbledore started to object only for Tom to steamroll right over him as he continued talking.
"If you had given us the courtesy of informing us beforehand Sev might have managed to finish his latest version of the potion to treat Lupin's condition. A version, I might add, that wouldn't strain our cores or our physical limits to brew. As it stands now we are literally unable to brew the current version as you had no doubt planned for us to do. There is no safe way for him to remain near the school on his danger nights," Tom told the colorful idiot bluntly. There was a new version of the Wolfsbane potion that Severus was developing but it wasn't anywhere near ready, not that the old man needed to know that. "Even if we could brew the current version safely we wouldn't want him within travel range of the school on those nights in case something went wrong."
Nothing more was said among the staff for the rest of breakfast. After breakfast though the bonded trio was promptly kidnapped, along with the rest of Slytherin House, by Poppy to the Hospital Wing. When they got there the Slytherins enjoyed watching what they could as Harry, Tom, and Severus were made to have their own exams, under extreme protest.
"No," Severus said flatly when they had arrived and he had figured out what the witch was doing.
"After how often I've treated both you and Harry over the years did you really think I wouldn't find some way of checking you? Especially after whatever happened to bond the three of you?" Poppy scoffed, much to the giggling and silent amusement of his snakes. The confrontation was easing the fears of many of the students who were skittish about the check up for various reasons.
"I haven't had to sneak off to you for healing since I was a student," Severus protested. His bondmates were standing back and enjoying the argument as much as the Slytherins were.
"Do I need to list how many times I've caught you forgetting to eat or working yourself to exhaustion? Do I need to list how often I have had to ambush you when you've very nearly worried yourself sick over one thing or another?" Poppy demanded, hearing Harry's snicker she quickly turned on him. "You, Mr. Potter, aren't much better. I know perfectly well about your wanderings and have had to patch you back together after your adventures. I may not have been allowed to offer you extra aid as a student but the Headmaster has no authority to forbid me anything when it comes to you anymore. On the bed all three of you, once I'm done checking you, you may join Severus as he glowers and stands protectively over his snakes during their own check ups. Though I hear that they are now your snakes as well with the three of you sharing the Head of House duties."
Harry squawked in protest as Tom enforced the Medi-witch's decree, physically putting his smaller bondmate on to the bed while Severus sighed and reluctantly obeyed. The curtain dramatically and magically whisked closed behind them. Once she had done scanning them, and accepted the updated files of the students they had healed the night before, she fussed over them a bit, giving a good showing with the grumbling from her patients to the waiting students.
"Mad woman!" Severus declared dramatically as the three playfully scrambled from behind the exam curtain.
"The three of you are much better but with the way you were youthened and the bond you have entered a continual growth spurt. You will each eat two full plates at every meal or a full plate and a nutrient potion. As I know at least two of you have smaller stomachs than you should you will likely also be needing snacks regularly as another supplement. You are all far too skinny and will burn through calories faster as your bodies try to grow fast enough to accommodate the adult size cores you have in addition to whatever new growth your magic decides to take on," Poppy instructed, opening the curtain. "As you likely already know until your bodies physically hit 15 the three of you are restricted to 5th year and under spells. Severus, you will be happy to hear that your potion affinity allows you to brew up to seventh year potions. Harry, your affinity to Defense allows up to seventh year spells in combat with your adrenaline boosting your core stability but out of combat you are restricted to sixth year spells and under. Tom, you are restricted to sixth year potions, seventh year on spellwork, and limit your wandless spell use to second year spells and under. No restriction on the mind arts for any of you as the bond not only makes it necessary but stabilizes it extra well for the three of you."
They spent the rest of the day standing over and soothing the Slytherins as they each had their own check up. As was custom the entire house stayed for each beginning of the year exam so that all would know who needed help and what potions or treatments couldn't be forgotten by what students. This created a safety net of support for the entire house and eliminated any blackmail attempts after graduation from using information from their time at Hogwarts. All of this helped foster a sense of family among the Slytherins.
Chapter 20: Hogsmeade
To clarify the limits our boys are under:
Sev: 7th yr Potions, 5th yr spells
Harry: 7th yr Defense in combat/6th yr Defense out of combat, 5th yr spells otherwise
Tom: 6th yr Potions, 7th yr spells, 2nd yr wandless
"~I allow you to wander without me for one day and I find werewolf scent on you! Not to mention the fact that the three of you were supposed to at least come see me after your morning meal yet this is the first time I have seen you all day!~" Bailey groused as soon as they came home and got close enough to scent them. They had no answer to that, too tired from watching over the Slytherins as each was checked by Poppy. It didn't help that some of the students blackmailed them around mid-afternoon to sit at the Slytherin table for most evening and morning meals until the end of the year.
"Sorry Bailey," Harry apologized for them. The ancient basilisk grumbled, fussing over them until they were firmly in bed for the night.
"~No more wandering without me,~" Bailey ordered before they all slipped into the land of nod.
Over the next two months everything moved more or less smoothly. They ate with the Gryffindors often and the Slytherins daily, who in turn watched over them even as they were watched over by the trio. This generally kept them away from both the meddling old coot and Lupin, limiting their urge to kill the two. The three also began fulfilling the ridiculous requirement set by Dumbledore of testing out of every single subject starting from first year on wards. Which was something that Lupin was less than cooperative about, unlike the rest of the staff.
Lucius ensured that the board overruled Dumbledore's attempt to trap them on the grounds via both control over the wards and denying them permission to leave the school. This allowed them to conduct business off the grounds as needed and eliminated the need for a Hogsmeade permission slip.
The dueling practice for the trio and Harry's friends gradually expanded into an unofficial dueling/defense/study group made up of people from all houses and all years. More than one student was grateful for the extra aid and almost no one needed to be pranked as a reminder to respect Snape or his bondmates. Of course when it was needed the twins would inevitably praise a smirking Severus and beg for pranking lessons, which was in turn a greater deterrence than being caught in the original prank.
They successfully met with Lucius and the goblins about looking for an appropriate location and building for a magical orphanage or at least a bolt hole and safe haven for the students. They arranged for emergency portkeys to be set for the temporary safe haven/bolt hole of Malfoy Manor, with permission, regardless of the current legal troubles with getting the official location set up. The students who received one were ecstatic.
Severus had even tested Harry on his potions knowledge to determined how much of his own memories and skills had transferred. During the course of the testing they found that part of Harry's previous trouble had been physical damage in his hands and wrists that was now healed. He had also been missing the introductory knowledge that most muggle raised got as supplementary books and the magically raised received as early instruction.
As a result Harry was set to preparing a whole range of ingredients regularly so that his repaired muscles and reflexes learned how to properly prepare each item. Once his bondmates were certain he was properly grounded in the fundamentals of potions they took to randomly quizzing him as he practiced ingredient preparation. In this way Harry was taught to once more love potions and better understand Severus' passion for the art as well as the hard work that went into it while his knowledge of potions grew.
Bailey acted like a mother hen the entire time and quickly identified Harry as the strongest trouble magnet, much to Harry's dismay and his bondmates' clear amused approval. The way he fussed though had them all grateful within a week since it mostly kept them from being harassed by the students, helped by the male Weasleys, the staff mostly knew better... mostly. Lupin and Dumbledore proved to be so aggravating that the rest of the staff took pity on them and started running interference a week after the welcoming feast. Then the first Hogsmeade trip of the year arrived the day before Halloween.
"So are you coming with us to Hogsmeade?" Draco asked his three undersized uncles/godfathers at breakfast the day of the first trip.
"Actually, we were thinking of checking with your father about a project we are all working on," Harry answered for the still half asleep wizard. Bailey shifted about on the three laps of his charges, grumbling about something and snatching bits of meat off their plates while watching around them for danger.
"We three have already been down there on business occasionally this year," Tom explained as he finished making a second cup of coffee for Severus and handing it off to his groggy bondmate. "There is also the concern of your cousin's escape from Azkaban. Until we actually meet him we won't know what state he is in or where his loyalties lie. I also worry about the weird fascination the Dementors seem to have with the three of us when not on the school grounds. Its unnerving and rightfully scares your father."
"Completely aside from Dumbledore trying to pull another stunt," Marcus Flint sneered.
Not a single Slytherin nor quite a few in each of the other houses had any real respect for the man after his attempts to go after the trio. They had especially lost respect for him after Harry was somehow slipped a nightmare potion. He had been left screaming in the middle of the great hall next to his drugged bondmates for everyone to find at breakfast and nothing had been done to find the bastards. When the snakes and the lions had tracked down the sixth year idiot in defiance of the dismissal of actual wrong doing they had very nearly killed him. Since then there had been an unspoken truce between the houses centered around protecting the three wizards that Dumbledore had tried to break. The man had failed miserably and the entire school was slowly turning on him.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he messed with the wards and let Black in just so he could prove that Potter still needed him," Pansy agreed with a snort of disgust.
"About how old do you think your bodies and minds are now?" Blaise Zabini asked thoughtfully.
"Our minds are roughly 19 overall but the growing our bodies need to do hasn't really kicked in yet since its still repairing the malnutrition the right way rather than replicating the corrections with force via magic. Why?" Severus answered unthinkingly with a wide yawn. He was still in that place between sleep and proper wakefulness or he would have been far more circumspect and cagey with his answer.
"They starved you? All three of you?!" Draco demanded, appalled. Severus finally woke enough to realize he had said too much, a fact which was amply demonstrated by the near silence of the Slytherin table to hear their answers clearly.
"Draco we each had different circumstances before and different reasons we each did not receive the correct amount of food. A fact which is being corrected," Tom said carefully in a tone all present knew was a warning to drop it.
Draco sulked but nodded sharply in acknowledgement. The fact that the entire Slytherin house was now aware of another reason why all three of them needed to be kept fed was just as good of a solution to the blond as getting answers... for now. Bailey snickered, recognizing what Draco had pulled and approving the sideways revelation to the rest of the house.
"He's gonna get you for that... actually Sev probably will too," Harry said calmly as he took another bisket and buttered the fluffy roll. He had long since understood that he was being intentionally starved as part of the Dursley's torture routine. He had been forced to stand to one side like a servant and watch them eat every meal he had made, cleaning up afterwards, with little hope of even getting scraps for his own stomach.
"It is seriously wrong that you accept that as normal," Theodore Nott pointed out, nose wrinkled in distaste over such acceptance.
"Yes and no. I don't like that it happened but I can't change that it did happen. Both Tom and Sev helped me realize that most of their care was actually a form of torture and we all still wake up with nightmares. At least I have two people who not only understand perfectly to help me heal but I can help them as well. They are just a bit touchy about it because they had almost proper meals and I didn't," Harry admitted with a shrug. "So its not that I accept it as normal anymore but that I can't change it now. Honestly? I'm just glad we can fix the damage in the first place. Besides, its too nice of a day to get in a strop over something that won't happen again and these two already decided they have vengeance rights or whatever its called."
"Ah, that explains it then," Blaise said with a nod and a smirk that was mirrored by most of the rest of the table as they all returned to their breakfasts. Severus grumbled until a third cup of coffee was shoved into his hands so that they could all eat in blissful silence.
By the end of breakfast the three Assistant Staff members were thoroughly suspicious of their table mates. The casual conversation had stayed firmly on school work and avoided any further mention of the nearby village. This as well as the continual sneaking of food on to their plates had the bonded trio on edge. They were right to be wary since once the food disappeared, signaling the end of breakfast, they were kidnapped by most of the rest of Slytherin house.
Harry, Tom, and Severus quickly found themselves dragged down to the village by the mischievous snakes, protesting halfheartedly the entire way. It wasn't more than half an hour before they realized that they had multiple shifts of babysitters tailing them or wandering just that near by to keep an eye on them. Bailey was borderline gleeful at the extra help guarding his wizards much to the trio's dismay.
"Well we can just enjoy ourselves and ignore the sneaky busybodies or we could ditch them all and head for the bank to see about that other thing," Harry suggested.
"Its too close to Halloween and we are still restricted in our spell casting. If any of the Knights that haven't been cleared get it into their heads to try something around this time is one of the ones I would usually pick and they would know that. We need to stay near or inside powerful wards until I've weeded out more of them, not to mention my... brothers. I may have received control of the accounts but they can still cause trouble if they really want to and are awake enough to try. I still don't like being the youngest but it can't be helped," Tom pointed out firmly, earning quiet snickers and looks of understanding from his bondmates.
Dumbledore had been spying on them nearby under an invisibility spell. Upon hearing of Tom's supposed siblings some nasty suspicious part of the older man relaxed just a tiny bit as it banished the idea that Tom was a young Voldemort. He left them to their shopping, confident of their eventual safe return to the castle.
"The goat is gone," Tom murmured to his bondmates with a smirk. He had picked up on them getting followed but decided since they weren't doing anything that required secrecy (ie. being the victims of a friendly kidnapping to get them to have some fun) there was no real harm in ignoring him.
"Now to ditch the over protective Slytherins," Harry muttered back setting off the hissing laughter of a deeply amused shrunken basilisk.
"I can use you as a great many potion ingredients," Severus snapped at the ancient creature who in turn paid the threat no mind, his laughter only increasing.
The excited barking of a big yet dangerously skinny black dog distracted them from the building argument. In a flash Bailey was in front of them hissing dire threats at the canine in an attempt to warn the stupid creature off. The dog skittered to a stop less than five feet away and snarled at the serpent, randomly glancing worriedly at the boys being shielded by the mass of scales, fangs, and dripping poison.
"~Bailey?~" Tom hissed in worry. The eyes of the black dog widened before he gave off a deeper snarl.
"I think we should stick to English," Severus pointed out warily. He had no wish to be bitten by the mutt nor did he wish for his bondmates to be savaged. Though the fight between Bailey and the mutt would be somewhat interesting and might net him some potion ingredients it wasn't something he was currently prepared to encourage.
"~Stupid dog! They are mine! You won't harm the hatchlings of the great stone nest, especially not these hatchlings!~" Bailey hissed angrily. By this point they had attracted attention and a crowd was gathering. Many of the students in the crowd, especially the Slytherins, had their wands drawn in case they needed to help.
"What's all this then?" asked Lupin as he came upon the commotion.
At the sound of his voice the dog let out one last snarl before bolting into and through the crowd. The werewolf managed to get through his own end of the crowd just as Bailey had circled them and was nuzzling up against the underside of Harry's chin with his snout, making Harry giggle. The scene caused Lupin to go white as he very carefully pulled his wand, eyeing the serpent as though he was born of nightmare.
"Cast a single spell at our snake and you will find something of yours contaminated with a herb or metal that I happen to know you are allergic to, Lupin," Severus' voice rang out freezing the man mid-movement.
"You would let him menace Harry?" Lupin demanded in harsh anger.
"Of course not. The only threatening thing Bailey does to us is trap us in a cuddle or make us stay in bed if we've over done it," Tom retorted with a snort of amusement. "Harry gets tackled from time to time but its usually because he's being stubborn about something or as a playful move to set off a round of wrestling. The bond wouldn't let him hurt us even if he wanted to."
That seemed to end the conversation as it left the man speechless. The trio took advantage and quickly disappeared into the crowd.
Chapter 21: Plots
Apologies! This has been sitting, waiting for more when musey refused to add more before posting.
Its was sometime after their intrepid escape from Lupin in the village when they were safely tucked away someplace safe and secluded, which Bailey had insisted on, that he spoke to them.
"~That dog was strange. It was a dog yet it was not. It had the magic like you wizards but it was erratic, almost blending with the life of the beast. It reminds me a great deal of when Salazar would brew a liquid so that any of the hatchling students could learn their animal form. If I did not know better I would think that the dog was one such apprentice that stayed so long in his animal form as to nearly be lost to it, almost merging with it and nearly loosing the wizard,~" Bailey hissed with obvious disquiet. "~McGonagall has a similar feel though her magic does not leak and blend with her animal. Especially not in so violent and unstable a manner as the dog. I am glad we did not let it enter our nest even if you three insist on waiting to claim the nest openly.~"
"An animagus, the dog was an animagus," Severus concluded with equal disquiet. They all ignored the grumbling about the castle, knowing that they either had to keep it as a trump card against Dumbledore's idiocy or declare it after he was gone to safely cement their claim.
"The next time we see it the creature gets cursed," Tom decided darkly.
"I'm not arguing but shouldn't we figure out what it wants before potentially killing it?" Harry pointed out reasonably.
"Brat, it could be a threat to the students and our bodies still aren't growing so we aren't yet able to stabilize our cores at even a remotely safe adult level. That means that the only reason for our sporadic ability to do things at a higher level is our raw power levels and our affinities. If we try to push that limit too soon..." Severus trailed off meaningfully.
"Bad things happen," Harry finished with a resigned sigh.
"Is there a way to speed up the repairs?" Tom asked with a frown. "Some potion that will give our bodies the energy and nutrients that we need to finish the healing and allow us to grow?"
"If we start taking a double dose of nutrient potions at every meal on top of what Poppy has already set us in the way of food... but then we would have to take food absorber. The food absorber would increase how efficiently we pull energy and nutrients from the food," Severus muttered gazing off into the distance. He was obviously trying to calculate the best effect that would give their bodies what was needed without potentially hurting them. "We would need to do it without fail for three months, possibly four. The energy would likely be going into a joint pool for all three of us because of the bond but the nutrients would be going into the selected body that consumed them. We would also have to stay closer together then we have been. We would need to stay in physical contact wherever possible to increase the efficiency of the energy transfer. We would also likely become incredibly tired with very little effort as our bodies and magic would pick up on our wish to speed up the healing."
"Then we would need Poppy to sign off on it and monitor us while we make the attempt," Tom pointed out with a grimace. "We were lucky the rest of the staff was mostly willing to help rearrange everyone's schedules at such short notice or there would have been definite timing conflicts. What with how Dumbledore tried to force our schedules and separate us that way... Its the only way to make this work without delaying our re-certification and other schooling."
"She's going to trap us in the hospital wing again," Harry sighed. Bailey just snickered, glad that the three of them wanted to heal faster so that they could better protect themselves. There would come a day when he couldn't do it for one reason or another.
"If I could get my hands on another piece of myself... but then I already have half and a touch more with Harry's piece of me," Tom grumbled.
"Why? What would you do with it?" Harry asked curiously.
"Well, if I were strong enough I could absorb it or, alternatively, I could use it in a minor ritual to summon the other pieces of myself and use a second more powerful ritual to force him back into sanity. He could act for us outside of the school and properly investigate getting Severus free of his teaching contract so that we could disappear at will or need. Though at some point he and I would come into conflict and need to merge. Whichever one of us came out as the dominant personality would be the one you were stuck with or an amalgamation due to our bonding," Tom explained ruefully. "It would also likely expose my identity to Dumbledore to some extent or at least raise some suspicions. The shard that is in Harry's scar provided us a great deal of my elder self's memories when our memories were shared but they were simply too jumbled to easily use. They also only go to the point of Harry's survival the night his parents protected him, after that it slips into Harry's memories."
"So is that shard still there?" Harry asked a bit awkwardly, stuck between nervousness and curiosity.
"Yes and no, the bond shifted things around a bit. Its still inside you but its acting like an anchor attached to a tether rather than a separate piece. Its also one of the reasons for our weird fluctuating distance limit," Tom admitted in a mix of sheepishness and pride.
"We need to tell Minerva about the dog in any case. If the mutt was so close to the school it might be a threat to the students or scouting the area. We are lucky the mutt doesn't appear to have tried anything except growling at the three of us and aggravating Bailey," Severus pointed out, diverting them back to the original conversation.
The others agreed and they set off to inform the Deputy Head of their discovery trailed by a smug basilisk. It took them nearly the rest of the day to find the woman for all that they found her in her office grading papers. To say she was disturbed by the news was an understatement, especially with the way both Lupin and Dumbledore had been trying to meddle with the trio.
Chapter 22: Wolves and Mutts
Here you go!
Sorry it took so long.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The assurances they got from McGonagall after reporting their suspicions about the dog didn't reassure the trio all that much with Harry's memory from first year of being blown off. Her chewing out Lupin publicly at dinner on the other hand made them very happy and gave the rest of the school an interesting floor show. It also, just so happened, that the chewing out gave the trio a chance to escape peacefully. They happily hid in one of the concealed rooms Severus knew about from so many years of teaching at Hogwarts.
"Have you been fiddling with Bailey's size again or is his magic messing with the spell like when he used it to trap and mark us that first morning at the Manor?" Harry asked suspiciously, finally noting that the basilisk was three feet long versus the original shrunken state of one foot long. He hadn't been pleased by being snagged only to be bitten that first morning after getting his bonded. He had thought the temporary size change that time was his imagination until, that is, he caught Tom and Bailey play fighting months later and saw them both adjust his size randomly during the tussle.
"Yes," Tom said, completely unphased.
Harry just rolled his eyes in exasperation and ordered, "Be careful about it, yeah? He's too big in his normal form, not to mention terrifyingly deadly. Besides, just because they can't actually take him away doesn't mean they can't try and do something else like slice off his fangs or try to rip apart the bond."
"We will keep that in mind," Severus promised, stepping into the conversation and keeping it from blowing up into a shouted argument. All three of them were very aware of how much political power and other authorities Dumbledore would be willing to bring to bear against them if given half a chance.
"He figured out how to do minor size shifts on his own," Tom pointed out. It wasn't like he had started doing it first, just that he had taken his re-sizing cue from Bailey. He was also very aware of what Dumbledore would try against them given half a chance.
"So what are we doing about Black?" Harry asked, changing the subject. "That dog had to be Black even if it took me a day or twos to figure it out."
"Curse him?" Severus suggested with a shrug. He really didn't like Black or Lupin but there are very few that actually deserved the Dementor's KISS. Being tossed through the Veil of Death in the Department of Mysteries was much more preferable even if officially it was a worse punishment. The KISS on sight orders out on Black bothered him greatly no matter how dead he wanted the man.
"I don't think we can actually do anything except send an owl reporting our suspicions to Lucius and Madam Bones," Tom said thoughtfully. "If he attacks us or otherwise keeps bothering us we can do something but right now, aside from escaping and his original crimes, we have no current proof or information about him to work with. I say just stick together and quietly ask students to stick to groups of three or more, inside and outside the castle. I wouldn't put it past the old fool or the wolf to be either helping the mutt or at least ignoring his presence."
"There's a cheerful thought," Severus muttered resentfully but didn't argue the point. As a result they did just that and saw increased Auror patrols but nothing else until near the end of the year when Lupin decided to miss one of his trips away from the castle during the night of the full moon.
The chilling howl echoed through the school as the bonded trio shared a look of dread.
"Hogwarts! The children are endangered! Close your walls, protecting those within against the threat! Contain the wolf that stalks our halls!" Harry called instinctively. Only for his words to be followed a split second later by those from his bondmates as they began to run.
"Elves! Aid the children! Snatch everyone of them away to the safety of the dorms!" Tom called out as they skidded around a corner, heading towards the main staircase. "Lock them down once all are within! Let nothing touch them!"
"Ghosts and Portraits heed my call! A threat stalks our halls! Move the walls! Bend the stone! Summon the staff! Keep It Away from the Children!" Severus thundered even as the three of them, with Bailey at their heels, bolted towards the probable source of the sound.
"There is absolutely no way we can hide being the heirs and owners of the castle now. People, follow the snake! ~Bailey, head for the Chamber!~," Harry grumbled before calling out instructions. He frantically grabbed up two first years, ushering even more students along in front of him, and started bolting for the closest secure spot he could think of the Chamber of Secrets.
"Why couldn't he have been secure while the students were here?! Damn that wolf!" Severus cursed even as he and Tom took up the rear guard with Bailey taking the lead.
"Its not even Easter holiday yet. We were lucky to get past Christmas without something happening," Tom pointed out.
The young Dark Lord was spelling the corridor as they passed with walls that would allow humans through but not another flesh and blood creature of a similar size. There were bound to be pets that the students wouldn't set down in their attempts to escape the werewolf so simply keying it to human wouldn't work. Because Tom set the mass detection for an adult werewolf Flitwick would have no trouble escaping through the same escapes as the students.
The castle watched this clever modification and started incorporating it into its own ordered modifications. It was very clear to the castle how useful this would be if only to keep out things like trolls, Cerberus, and even trapping Dementors who made it into the castle to threaten the school if set up right. The still changing werewolf was mostly locked into one area at the moment but these precautions set randomly spreading out from where Lupin was would help. All together it worked and morning found everyone safe even if Dumbledore was locked in the Headmaster's tower and Lupin was trapped in the area of hallways he had changed in the night before. The castle stubbornly wouldn't let those two out even as the rest of the staff investigated the changes that had been made to the school.
By the time Dumbledore got free he could only watch helplessly as Lupin was executed for threatening the majority of the British Wizarding World via their children. The summary execution was quietly explained to Harry by his bondmates, with most of the children attending Hogwarts any threat to Hogwarts was a national emergency. If Dumbledore had actually been doing his job the troll in Harry's first year would have shut down the school to revamp the wards and investigate the staff to determine negligence or active sabotage. The active endangerment of the students via hosting Flamel's Stone and practically announcing it through the warning about the 3rd floor and the children should have seen Dumbledore sacked and up on charges. The only problem was that it was Dumbledore, thus his nearly saintly status deemed him unable to do wrong no matter how much damage he was doing.
The rest of the year and end of year exams passed mostly undisturbed but for the brief encounter and argument with Black as he tried to prove his innocence to Harry and convince Harry to live with him despite his obvious mourning over Lupin.
"Back off mutt. He may have been your godson but he is our bonded. There is very little that would cause us three to ever want to live with you," Severus snarled at the escaped convict.
"I don't know what you've done to Prongslet but I will break it and happily kill you for ensorceling my godson!" Sirius Black snarled right back.
Tom and Severus immediately moved to shield Harry from the slavering mutt. Bailey, seeing that his bondmates were at risk, didn't wait for the order. Before anyone knew it the man was already dying from the Basilisk venom. Harry watched, glad that a threat to their little family was gone yet sad that he was losing another member of what would have been his birth family. He would have nightmares for some time to come about what ifs and what could have been. He didn't blame Bailey or his bondmates but he was still sad for the loss of life.
I am tempted to end it here and come back later with a sequel....
"I don't like losing people," Harry murmured into the shoulder of his snarky bondmate the night after they returned to the Malfoys for the summer.
"I know," Tom said sadly as he pet Harry to comfort him while Severus held him in a cuddle. They had woken from another joint nightmare heavily featuring the Dursleys.
Dumbledore had attempted to force Harry to go with the Dursleys. He had gotten them released from custody on bail in an attempt to bring Harry back under his control and separate him from his support base and bondmates. In the end the Dursleys were arrested again, Dumbledore was put under investigation and whatever special even for next year at the school was pushed back for at least a year or two. The bonded trio and their Basilisk familiar had agreed that checking with the goblins and Madam Bones about Severus' teaching contract was a good idea. They were especially pleased to realize that Dumbledore had been the one to violate it, allowing Severus to simply walk away once the year was done.
Dumbledore, in a desperate attempt to separate them, had ordered Bailey be killed on the grounds of Black's death via serpent bite. It had taken Harry flatly telling the appointed executioners that they would have to kill him first before they could hurt their familiar which had stopped Rosier dead before Tom even managed to trigger the man's Dark Mark. Bonded familiars don't attack randomly and more often only attack humans when they have proven to be an active threat. As a result their memories were checked and Dumbledore was given a hefty fine for attempting to have a bonded familiar executed. Something which would have potentially crippled or killed the bonded wizard with the backlash. The trio had to officially register Bailey, their Parselmouth status, and Hedwig but they were otherwise left alone as Black's death was deemed self defense.
All in all the trio had decided to home school with tutors for the next several years. This would protect them from further plots involving the school and it would allow Tom to start working through the Death Eaters. Tom would be very carefully weeding out those who needed to be dealt with from the loyal and those who turned traitor or just hid.
"The mutt and the wolf nearly killed me in school and they nearly got us killed this year. We are your family and you will not lose us," Severus told Harry firmly. Harry snuggled closer and let himself fall back asleep, secure in the knowledge that he was loved.
Yeah, I'm ending this one here.
Any future sequel will occur when the boys are more grown up. I am tempted to do Umbridge and the Triwizard at the same time in 5th/6th year... Ah well something to think about later.
Hope you all had fun!