Evil Author Day 2017

Welcome to this year’s Evil Author Day offerings. As always, Evil Author Day is where authors post snippets of work they have done, however, there is no guarantee they will be worked on again. This may be as complete as they may ever be. Or I could finish one next week.

Consider that your warning.

This year’s offerings:

 

Title: Marine!Stiles (temp file name)

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Teen Wolf

Word Count: ~10,000

Primary Pairings/Characters: Stiles Stilinski/Peter Hale/Christopher Argent

Rating: M 

Content/Warnings: Canon level violence, language

Summary: Stiles returns to Beacon Hills, fresh from two tours in the Marines, ready to take up the mantle of Deputy in the Police Department. But what reception is he going to receive back in his hometown?

Beta: None. Just a casual spell check. No bitching.


 

Title: Life’s Tangents

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Harry Potter

Word Count: ~4,900

Primary Pairings/Characters: Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy

Rating: M 

Content/Warnings: Canon level violence, language, dealing with life changing circumstances/injuries

Summary:  Harry is about to start his first year teaching at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It’s his last resort. The rest of his life has gone to shit.


 

Title: A Third Side, pt 2

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Harry Potter

Word Count: ~21,000

Primary Pairings/Characters: Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy. Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy, Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood, Pansy Parkinson, Susan Bones, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape,

Rating: NC-17. This section, PG-13

Content/Warnings: Canon level violence; discussion of warfare; Ron Bashing; Weasley bashing in general; Ron is a lazy, no good, bad friend; Pagan elements in magic; Harry has rage issues.

Summary: Magic is dying, and the Pureblood Traditions aren’t helping. Perhaps it’s time to go back to an even older Tradition.

Beta: None. Casual spell check. No Bitching.

Author Note:  ignore the fact that technically speaking, Harry Potter took place in the 90’s. Timelines have been moved around for the Author’s own satisfaction.

AN: This is a continuation of the EAD’16 post. You should really read that first.


 

Happy Reading!!

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EAD 2017 – A Third Side, pt 2

Title: A Third Side, pt 2

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Harry Potter

Word Count: ~21,000

Primary Pairings/Characters: Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy. Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy, Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood, Pansy Parkinson, Susan Bones, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape,

Rating: NC-17. This section, PG-13

Content/Warnings: Canon level violence; discussion of warfare; Ron Bashing; Weasley bashing in general; Ron is a lazy, no good, bad friend; Pagan elements in magic; Harry has rage issues.

Summary: Magic is dying, and the Pureblood Traditions aren’t helping. Perhaps it’s time to go back to an even older Tradition.

Beta: None. Casual spell check. No Bitching.

Author Note:  ignore the fact that technically speaking, Harry Potter took place in the 90’s. Timelines have been moved around for the Author’s own satisfaction.

 

AN: This is a continuation of the EAD’16 post. You should really read that first.

 

Part 2

“So where have you been all day?” Pansy demanded the moment that Draco strolled into his private room in the Slytherin Dormitory.

“Busy,” Draco said dismissively, walking straight past her and to his desk.

“I imagine so, but with whom and doing what?”

“When have I ever given you the idea that what I do is any of your business?”

“The fact that you usually tell me everything, Draco,” Pansy sighed. “You’ve been distant and quiet since the holidays. Are you worried about your Father?”

“You know I am,” Draco snapped.

“He won’t get out of Azkaban, Draco. Thinking this way just gives energy to the nightmare becoming manifest.”

“So you’ve told me before,” Draco said sullenly.

“Then why do you persist in these thoughts? You don’t want it to happen, so imagine him quite firmly stuck behind bars, with no recourse, and growing old and dying in there.”

“But what if he doesn’t? That mutt Black managed to get out so it wouldn’t be long before my Father and the others find the same or a similar way out!”

“Draco, it’s not going to happen. It’s not that simple.”

“How would you know?” Draco demanded.

Pansy was silent a moment, pondering if she should reveal her source.

“Everything is suddenly going much faster than I had expected it all to be. My plans will be in tatters by Alban Estir, I’ll be marked, and you’ll probably be forced as well.”

“Not everything is contingent on just you, Draco. There are other forces at work here that you don’t know about, and they are working to the same goals you are.”

“How do you know?” Draco asked plaintively now, his face one of defeat.

“Lovegood.” Pansy finally admitted.

“Loony? I thought you knew better than to trust her. She’s got a few screws loose, I swear.” Draco said derisively.

“She’s not Loony, Draco,” Pansy said in all seriousness.

“You’ve had confirmation then?” Draco asked, eyebrows drawing down into a look of shrewdness.

“I have, and more. She’s gathering people, Draco. She’s already calling it a Conclave.”

“She’s calling it a what?” Draco asked, eyebrows shooting into his hairline in shock.

“She’s seen it, Draco. And magic restored to its former glory.”

“There’s hope then,” Draco said, sitting heavily on his bed.

“There always has been, but you’ve been blocked to it. Your fears are clouding your judgment.” Pansy reprimanded softly.

“There is just so much to worry about.” Draco moaned.

“You know that’s not how it works! Fate will work its own way. You have to focus on what you want for your life, don’t let the fears create it for you instead.”

“You’re right, like normal. And to think I’ve been lecturing someone else on practically the exact same thing.” Draco huffed.

“Oh, and who might you have been coaching?”

“Potter.”

“Excuse me? You’ve been with Potter all afternoon?” Pansy said, equally astonished and derisive.

“Don’t give me that.”

“Well excuse me for thinking that you had had a spontaneous mental breakdown and said that you’d been willingly spending time with the Gryffindor Golden Boy Harry Potter.”

Draco sighed. “You’d be surprised to know that both he and Granger think a lot like us.”

“I find that very hard to believe.” Pansy snorted, shifting away from the wall and started towards the door.

“Come with me tomorrow. You’ll be surprised.”

~*~

Harry looked up in surprise when it wasn’t just Draco that joined their table that day, but Pansy Parkinson as well. He could see that Hermione was just as surprised by the turn of events, the both of them keeping their mouths shut lest they break whatever spell seemed to have come over all of them.

“Talkative lot, aren’t they Draco.” Pansy sneered, pulling out her homework from the morning class.

“Well, I’m sure they weren’t expecting you. You know Gryffindors take a little while to catch up with things. Their intelligence is sorely lacking sometimes.” Draco smirked, looking directly at Harry.

“Ha ha, Malfoy,” Hermione said primly, looking back to her own books.

Harry didn’t know what to say, however. And so he floundered around for a while, looking between them all and his books.

“Pansy Parkinson,” Pansy said, holding a hand out to Harry.

Harry blinked a moment, staring at the hand to the girl holding it out to him.

“Harry Potter,” Harry finally stuttered, taking the offered hand and shaking it.

“See, I don’t bite,” she said with a malicious grin, “Unless I’ve been asked.”

“That’s enough of your proclivities. I’m sure you’ll scar both of them emotionally.”

“Hardly,” Pansy said primly, “What have you been researching, is there anything I can help with?”

“What has Draco told you?” Hermione began.

“Nothing of anything, actually. The bastard has been keeping me in the dark for weeks.”

Harry and Hermione looked at each other.

“We think there is a possibility that Muggles, with their advances in technology and weapons, could have a negative impact on the Magical Realm, and at a worst case scenario, could destroy the realm before anyone knew what had even happened.”

Pansy frowned, “What has brought you to this conclusion?”

“There’s the potential for war on, right now in the Muggle World, though nothing of the sort has been published in the Magical Realm. There is also the general belief that Muggles are bumbling and useless in the Magical World, which quite frankly, couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re researching just how prepared the Magical World is, should the Muggles, a) discover the magical world and b) get it in their heads to destroy us.”

Pansy looked at Draco for confirmation, upon receiving a nod, she blew out a deep breath. “And what other conclusions have you come to so far?”

“Not much, unfortunately, as the fields we’ve discussed so far, none of us are particular well versed in, as it’s something that would probably be covered this year or the next. Malfoy has been bringing Harry up to speed on Arithmancy and Runes so that we can start looking at the Wards that are currently in place. I’ve been looking at the various forms of warfare and weapons that are available to the Muggles. At some point, we should be able to start drawing conclusions.”

“I’ve been researching some of the rituals that might be of use, should the worst happen,” Draco added.

Pansy read over the notes that had been collected so far, her face growing pale as she had read through Hermione’s.

“The situation is even more complex than Luna had implied to me,” Pansy whispered to Draco.

“I wonder what Luna has been doing then, and what she has planned then. I hope she chooses her Conclave carefully.”

“Luna?” Harry asked curiously, looking straight over Draco’s shoulder to the Ravenclaw that had walked up to their desk.

“Hello, Harry. The Babends seem to be favouring you a lot right now,” She advised as she sat down at the table.

“Luna,” Hermione acknowledged abruptly, only glancing up from her research quickly.

“Hermione,” Luna replied just as simply.

“Is that a good thing, Luna?” Harry asked awkwardly.

“It is a very good thing, considering the time of year,” Luna replied, not elaborating any further. “It is time that we started to discuss the Conclave.”

“The what?” Harry asked, feeling like he was continuously out of his depth.

“The Druidic Conclave, an organisation which had, until the seventeenth century, led the Magical Realm’s population here within the United Kingdom. This system was replaced with The Ministry of Magic and the Wizengamont.”

Both Harry and Hermione looked on in confusion, having never heard this history lesson from Professor Binns. Draco and Pansy were nodding along like they already knew.

“Magic is failing, both here and internationally. Should we wish to keep this gift, then the fates have given us a task. Draco knows of this task and has been planning it for several years, though I’m sure he never noticed Fate directing his hand. It is Harry’s challenge that he will face this symbolic battle, the outcome of this battle shall decide the fate of the Magical Realm as we know it.”

“What do you mean, a ‘symbolic battle’?” Harry asked, wondering cynically what else the Fates decided to throw his way in this lifetime.

“Not only will this battle be fought here in the physical plane, but also as a symbolic battle in a higher plane of existence. Voldemort is the side of selfishness, dark magic, chaos. Harry is the side of the selfless, neutral magic and cause and effect.”

“Simply put, the Wizarding Realm has become a little too trigger happy and no longer seems to hold life sacred. There is no satisfactory penalty, in magic’s eyes, for the senseless attacks that we perpetrate against others. The Fates are giving us an ultimatum: Stand up and own our actions, and be ready for the next story that fate will weave; or ignore everything before us and take no action, suffering this same story played out again.” Pansy summed up, though Harry got the gist that there was a lot more to it than what was said. What were ‘Plains of Existence’ anyway??

“My plans?” Draco asked, feeling partly embarrassed and partly overwhelmed.

“The plans and goals that you have made, and will make, are done so with Fate’s blessing. She will let you know should that ever not be the case.” Luna warned, her tone deceptively light.

“And what? The entire Wizarding Realm is supposed to just listen and accept Malfoy’s grand plans as gospel?” Hermione snorted, rolling her eyes.

“No, that is one of the many purposes The Druidic Conclave entails. Each of the members will bring different strengths, weaknesses, upbringings and opinions to the Circle. And the Conclave as a whole will decide the way forward.”

“And the members of this circle, how are they decided upon? Are they elected, or is there some mystical mojo that will conjure them up like the Triwizard Cup?” Hermione demanded.

“The members have already been decided and are currently in the process of being drawn together. The Time of the Phoenix is drawing to a close, and the Time of the Bard soon dawns.”

Luna left their table soon after, leaving them all in various moods of wonder, concern, and outrage.

“That was just sheer ridiculousness,” Hermione sniffed, “Who ever heard of a leadership council being chosen by some ridiculous deity, and not elected by the people. What right do they have to decide for the masses.”

“You do know that you’re ON that ridiculous council, right Granger?” Pansy jeered with a malicious grin back on her face.

“What?” Hermione practically screeched.

“That was probably the first unofficial meeting of the Conclave, Granger. Though, not all of us were here.” Pansy advised.

“Who else is there?” Harry asked, a frown coming to his face. He wasn’t sure he wanted to be on some Grand Conclave Council Thing. He really wouldn’t have minded leading a simpler life in the time after Voldemort.

“There are eight of us,” Pansy said, bringing out her own small notebook just like Draco had. “Though I don’t know who the last three will be. They should be made known to us by early in the new year.”

“Why us?” Hermione finally asked, her voice small and insecure. They could all tell that what she had meant to ask was, why her?

“Luna said that we all bring something different to the group,” Harry suggested.

“We can all represent the various demographics in some manner or another,” Draco said, fingers tapping on his personal notebook irritably.

“So what do we do now then?”

~*~

“Hey mate! Where have you guys been? You missed Quidditch practice!” Ron said, though there was a grin on his face.

“I’m still banned, as far as I’m aware,” Harry said, plonking himself down on his bed.

“What? Nah with the Toad gone, surely you still wouldn’t be.” Ron said, indignant.

“Well, I don’t have a broom, Ron.” Harry sighed, thinking it was yet another tie to his godfather that he had lost.

“Have you asked McGonagall? Perhaps she’s been keeping it safe for you?” Ron urged.

The Deputy Headmistress had of course already seen Harry earlier in the term to advise him that his broom had yet to be found, so he knew that wasn’t the case.

“Well, you can just buy another one then. Now that you’re all rich right?”

“I might do later Ron, but I think I’m going to be too busy this year, alright.” Harry finally admitted.

“You can’t give up Quidditch, Harry! I’m the Captain now!” Ron said hotly.

“Congratulations Ron!” Harry said happily, moving to clap Ron on the shoulder, but his expression was dark.

“You have to be on the team, mate.”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be,” Harry said, a frown coming over his face.

“How the hell am I supposed to win without you on the team,” Ron said angrily.

“You’ll do fine, Ron!! Besides, Ginny was a fairly decent Seeker last year. With a bit of training, I bet you’ll wonder why you ever needed me.” Harry said, forcing a grin on his face as he turned back to his bed.

“What was I thinking? Of course, we wouldn’t need you,” Ron sneered, turning to his own bed, pulling the curtains determinedly shut.

Harry let go of a deep breath that he had been holding, shaking his head in frustration. He didn’t know what it was about Ron that seemed to make him blow hot and cold at the most random of times.

“All right there, Harry?”

“Yeah, I’m fine, Nev. How are you?”

“I’m good! Everything alright with Ron?”

“I don’t know,” Harry sighed, settling on his bed more comfortably. “He’s been pretty grumpy this year. I don’t know what that’s all about.”

“Yeah, I’ve noticed that too.”
“He’s not said anything more from the other day has he, about you being a Herbologist?”

“He’s not said anything more from the other day has he, about you being a Herbologist?”

“Nah, he’s been steering clear of me actually,” Neville said with half a grin.

“Good for you, Nev.” Harry returned the smile, glad that Neville was finally coming into a bit of his own.

“You know, I think it was Luna that gave me so much confidence. After we had spoken the other day, I felt so much better for it.”

“You spoke to Luna about it?” Harry asked curiously, his mind instantly thinking back to their earlier conversation about the conclave. Perhaps Neville would also be a member.

“Yeah, she found me in one of the greenhouses. She reminded me of a lot of reasons why I wanted to become a Herbologist to begin with. Made me realise that I could be useful.”

“Well, I’m glad she made you realise that. Though, I don’t think you should measure yourself by just how useful you might be. You’re a friend first to me, then a Herbologist.”

“Thanks, Harry. That means a lot.” Neville said with a blush.

“No, I don’t tell you often enough how much I’ve valued your friendship over the years. I’m sorry for that.” Harry admitted, thinking back to all the times that Neville had been a silent supporting presence.

“Don’t be sorry. You’ve had a pretty rough time of it here in the Magical Realm. I think it’s safe to say you’ve been a bit busy.”

“But not too busy for being friends, alright?” Harry said resolutely.

“I’m always here for you, Harry.”

~*~

Before long November was coming to an end, and Christmas was coming up around the corner.

Nothing more was said about the Conclave, though Neville had started attending their evening study sessions in the Library.

The DA started back up in the closing days of November, almost all of the original students eagerly coming back to the class as it became more evident that the Frenchman that Dumbledore had gotten to teach was almost as useful as Lockhart had been.

They met back in the Room of Requirement twice a week, Harry and Hermione teaching them offensive and defensive magic.

Ron was enthusiastic enough, though he spent a decent amount of time watching while Hermione and Harry instructed everyone else, lazing around on one of the lounges in the room. Harry couldn’t help but be irked by the whole scene of it.

He had started to take the time to think about his minds motivations and the source of his emotions. It was daunting work as he analysed just what it was that had caused his response, but he was having trouble working out how to resolve the issue. It irked him that Ron was so lazy and seemed to just have so much seemingly just handed to him. Nevermind the fact that Harry had always had to work for everything, and there was never a prospect of relaxing as time was at a minimum with Voldemort being able to attack him or the Wizarding Realm at any time.

From there, though, he wasn’t sure how to resolve that feeling of having no time and being unable to relax. He just wasn’t sure just what Draco had meant.

“Awesome class yesterday, Harry,” Neville beamed after classes in the library. “I think I’ve finally got the hang of it.”

“You’ve done a fantastic job, Nev.” Harry encouraged with a smile.

“You and Hermione just make it so easy to understand.”

“I just wish it was so easy to understand some of the other things in the Magical world. You don’t know how lucky you’ve had it at least growing up around magic,” Harry said with a frown.

Neville frowned as well, “What do you mean, Harry?”

“Well, it’s just that there is so much assumed knowledge in the magical world that it makes it hard to catch up having not grown up around it. I feel like I’ve been playing catch up since First year.”

“Playing catch up with what? Have you not been doing the homework I gave you?” Draco interrupted, not looking up from the book he was making notes from.

“No, I’ve been doing my homework,” Harry said with a smirk. “I meant about this world in general. I can’t even think of a proper example to explain it, but some of the times I’ve had to have Ron explain something to me, and he’s just looked at me like I’m an idiot…”

“I can understand your frustration. I would be horrified to realise that The Weasel was more knowledgeable on a subject than I was.”

Pansy snorted her amusement while Harry just rolled his eyes. Hermione just huffed her annoyance loudly but didn’t say anything. Harry knew that Hermione still had feelings for Ron, no matter how annoyed he seemed to make her. Harry, however, had started to think about what life would be like in a world without Ronald Weasley in it.

“It’s the simple things,” Harry continued. “Household spells, tailoring charms, how the Ministry and Wizengamont work. It’s stupid, seemingly inconsequential things that just seem to highlight the fact that I am an outsider to this world.”

“Granger?” Draco turned to Hermione, keen to get her understanding.

“You think the only reason I read so much is purely for my own amusement?” Hermione said dryly, eyebrow raised in disdain.

“Fair call,” Draco admitted with a nod. “What do you suggest?”

“Orienteering,” Hermione announced, looking up from her book. “I’m surprised there wasn’t something like that, actually, even for the Magicborn, this is a bloody big castle, and being the primary level of schooling in this world, I would imagine that many students would find the whole situation overwhelming.”

“Some of us are used to it,” Pansy sighed, though Harry noticed that it wasn’t meant to sound like posturing.

“There should be some classes at the very least, where the way things work in the Magic Realm is explained.”

“My parents were really worried when my letter first arrived, thinking that it was a practical joke. Even then, we were very much left to our own devices about obtaining everything that I would need, or even how to get to Diagon Alley.”

“At least I had Hagrid for that, though it was a last resort on Hogwarts behalf. My Uncle was quite resolute in my going to St Brutus’.”

Hermione’s eyes widened, “You mean St Brutus’ School for Incurably Criminal Boys?”

Everyone turned to Harry upon hearing that, and he felt himself blush from embarrassment.

“Yeah.” Harry refused to look at anyone, though he could still feel them staring at him. Eventually, it was too much. “I need to get a book.”

Rushing away from the table, Harry walked down a random aisle, just to be away.

~*~

“I packed up your bag for you,” Draco said quietly, standing just inside the alcove where Harry had holed himself away in the back of the Library.

“Cheers,” Harry said, voice barely above a whisper.

“So, I’m beginning to understand that things are much worse than you would have everyone believe.”

Harry felt like laughing hysterically, but he managed to contain it somehow.

When there was no reply, Draco came further into the alcove and took a seat next to Harry on the sofa that was underneath the window. “I can guess why you wouldn’t want anyone to know.”

Harry turned his head further away, looking out the dark window.

“If people were to know just how bad it was, there would be pity. If there is one thing I can’t abide its pity,” Draco said with some vehemence, surprising Harry into looking at the blonde.

Draco, however, was now resolutely not looking at Harry. “Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. But it at least stops the thoughts, the wondering. The second guessing that invariably happens. The what ifs.”

“My letter was addressed to me as the Cupboard Under the Stairs,” Harry admitted something which he had held close to his chest the entire time he had been in the Magical World. “If they knew I lived in a cupboard, why did no one say anything? Why did no one check on me?”

“I don’t know Harry.”

“Is there no Child Welfare Services in this world?” Harry demanded, voice becoming louder as the emotions bubbled up.

“Children are sacred in this world, especially nowadays, when squib rates seem to be climbing.”

“I take that as a no then?” Harry sneered, looking back out the window. “No one not once checked on me. Even Mrs. Figg, she knew how they treated me. To find out that she was one of Dumbledore’s informants, I thought surely something would change now. It took me threatening them with Sirius, a convicted felon, for my relatives to lay off me.”

Draco had nothing to say, nothing that could placate the boy beside him.

“How is that even right?” Harry finally said in a broken voice.

“It’s not, Harry,” Draco said, reaching over and hesitantly wrapping an arm around the Gryffindor.

For a moment, Harry was frozen tense, not knowing how to react to the touch, but soon, he gave into it, deciding to show this weakness for once. He settled against Draco’s side, the blonde pulling him tight as they sat in silence.

~*~

Harry jolted awake, the feel of something else moving against him something entirely too foreign. Looking widely around, it took a moment for him to orient himself to where he was, and just whom he was still with. Draco was peacefully sleeping head at an awkward angle to the rest of his body, hand still tightened in Harry’s robe front.

Casting a quiet tempus, Harry swore as he realized it was past midnight.

“Draco?” Harry shook the Slytherin awake.

“Wha-shit,” Draco said groggily, pulling his arm back to rub at his neck.

“We have to go before we’re caught.”

“Says you. Prefect, remember?” Draco smirked, standing up to stretch like a cat.

“Typical!” Harry snorted, quickly standing and grabbing his book bag. “See you tomorrow?”

“Yeah,” Draco said, still half asleep,

But Harry was already jogging for the Library doors, the coast was clear so he quickly started sprinting down the hallways that would lead him back to Gryffindor tower. He berated himself for not carrying his Invisibility Cloak with him, though he admitted that it had been some time since he had had a need for it. But it was too late now as one of the last corridors before the portrait of the Fat Lady was in view, he ran smack bang into a tall column of black robes.

“Mr. Potter,” Professor Snape drawled, his tone almost gleeful.

“Sir,” Harry said, dread and resignation coloring his voice.

“So, I believe we should start with twenty points for being out after curfew.”

Harry only nodded, knowing that it was going to get worse.

“Not going to offer any excuses?” Snape prodded.

“I fell asleep in the Library.”

“What a wonderful use of our school’s resources. Were you hoping to obtain more brains through the process of osmosis?” Snape mocked, making Harry both cringe and inwardly fume.

“Anything’s worth a try, I suppose.” Harry shrugged, feeling a bout of hysteria come over him again.

Snape snorted, “Touché, Mr. Potter.” The professor was silent a moment longer, making Harry uncomfortable as he had yet to be dismissed. “Has there been any further news, in regards to the Muggle War?”

Harry blinked in shock. “Not to my knowledge, Sir. Hermione’s parents haven’t sent us any new clippings in the last few weeks.”

“Very well. I can assume that you were rushing back to your dormitory, then?”

“Yes.”

“You had best be on your way, before that mad woman that guards your tower decides to traipse off.”

Harry ran, not willing to give the Potions Master any further opportunity for point deductions.

~*~

“I think we should invite the Slytherins,” Harry said quietly to Hermione, conscious that Ron was only a few meters away lazily lounging on the chair as they packed up.

“I don’t think that would be a good idea. Most of these students would riot if Slytherins started turning up.” Hermione said, shuddering at the thought. “Besides, just because Draco and Pansy have so far been honorable and pleasant, isn’t to say that they would all be that way.”

“But they take their direction from Draco,” Harry argued.

“And some will take their direction from their Death Eater parents,” Hermione argued back, struggling to keep her voice down. “I know you want to think the best of them, especially after Draco has been acting with us, but it is simply too dangerous, both for them and for us.”

“Don’t you think we should at least offer the olive branch? How else will peace start in this bloody world?”

“I know you mean well, Harry. But in the real world, it’s not always that simple.”

“This war will never end unless someone does something. And I don’t think knocking Voldemort off is quite going to do the trick.”

“What are you two arguing about?” Ron said, suddenly seeming all too interested in what they were saying.

Harry shook his head, “Hermione thinks I should rejoin the Quidditch team.”

“Of course you should, mate,” Ron said animatedly.

Hermione just sighed at him, turning back to packing up.

~*~

“So I’ve been thinking,” Draco began.

“Did it hurt?” Harry jeered, a smirk covering his face.

Draco just looked at Harry, one eyebrow raised in disdain, “A comedian, you are not, Potter. Don’t give up your day job.

“As I was saying, I’ve been thinking. And with Pansy’s help, we’ve begun to iron out some details for the first plan to be put in motion. Your Orientation Program, Granger.”

“Oh?” Hermione said, giving Draco her full attention.

“We would still need both your and Harry’s input into the class structure and material, but for now we were thinking evening classes during September of each year, except for the first year which would require October as well. Each year level’s Orientation would include further, more in depth, information about the Magical Realms customs, traditions, social and political expectations as well as the general magics that would have been evidenced in a typical magical home.”

“That would be a very good idea,” Hermione said. “Are there any decent texts that may be given to new Muggleborn students, perhaps before they arrive at Hogwarts?”

“That could be arranged,” Draco said, “Though I have further plans for the future in regards to that.”

When Draco didn’t continue, Harry understood that it was still a plan under construction and that he wasn’t yet ready to share. “So what do you need from us?”

“Information.”

As it turned out, between the group of them, they were able to easily flesh out a full syllabus, though it became difficult when they had to choose which year would be the best year to introduce them to.

“We also have the problem of getting approval from the Headmaster to conducting such a program. It could hardly be classified as just extra-curricular.” Pansy advised, just as they were all pulling back to pack up.

“That may not necessarily be as hard as you think,” Harry said with a grin.

“Yes, your ‘Dumbledore’s Army,’” Draco said with a mocking eyebrow raised.

“My what?” Harry said, trying to feign innocence, but knowing he was probably far off the mark.

“Your little army your training. Umbridge eventually cottoned on to what was happening in the Room of Requirement, but she nor we ever managed to gain access. I figure, however, that Dumbledore approved of that little club, which is why nothing was ever done about it.”

Harry sighed, thinking about it, “You’re probably right.”

“Who’s to say that Dumbledore would refuse this kind of class. Perhaps he might even make it an official class that needs to be attended.” Hermione added.

Harry watched as Draco visibly restrained himself from rolling his eyes.

~*~

“Lovegood,” Terry said by way of greeting, though he was wary of her coming up to him in their Common room.

“Boot,” Luna acknowledged as she sat across from him at one of the many desks in the Common room. “The pursuit of knowledge is admirable, but only for knowledge’s sake is a waste.”

“Rowena Ravenclaw said as much,” Terry acknowledged.

“Do you pursue Knowledge or the opportunity for change?”

“Both,” Terry replied, confused.

Luna seemed to nod for a moment, head tilted to the side as she seemed to listen to something else. “What change would you have affected?”

“This war for one,” Terry sighed. “There have been too many casualties.”

“But War is waged under many different variables. What variable would you change would have the most impact?”

“That’s impossible to tell,” Terry growled, patience wearing thin. “I don’t have time for your games Lovegood. Let me get back to my homework.”

“There are those who know the variables.”

~*~

“Next week is Alban Arthan, the Winter Solstice,” Draco advised out of the blue.

They were seated back on their couch in the hidden alcove of the Library, a sort of unofficial meeting place that they had gravitated back to over the last few weeks.

“You mean Yule, yeah? On the 22nd?” Harry prompted.

“Yeah, that’s the more Muggle word for it, once their Christianity began to steal our holy days.”

“Organized religion is good for that,” Harry agreed, “How is it that belief is something that is so flimsy and fragile a thing, and yet great wars will be raged because of it.”

“Freedom of speech is something which many strive for. Most religions will usually have some clause or ruling that says that nothing else may be believed and that all non-believers must be made to believe.”

“On pain of death, usually.” Harry mused. “You know, I truly do not understand war, what the act of killing someone else during a grand battle is actually meant to achieve. Is it supposed to be the most people left alive, their side wins and their belief is upheld?”

“I’m not sure it’s meant to make sense. But I know what you mean. It’s a senseless waste of life.”

“How does killing someone prove a point?”

“I know Harry.”

“Why does it have to be me that is the one that has to kill him?” Harry said, finally getting to the point.

“Some would say it is Fate.”

“There’s a prophecy you know, basically says that I have to kill him, or he’ll kill me.”

“Then which do you want more, do you want to live, or do you not want to kill him?”

“I want to live, of course, I do. But I’m not sure I can be the one who kills him. I’m not sure if I could live with myself having done that.”

“Quite the conundrum.” Draco agreed, not knowing the first place to begin to unravel that one.

“I’m sorry to be unloading this on you,” Harry said, burrowing his face into Draco’s shoulder.

“Don’t worry about it Harry. Should the time come for you to make a decision, hopefully, you’ll be better informed.”

“On my morals?” Harry snorted.

“Perhaps,” Draco said with an answering smirk. “I was thinking that we might be ready to begin some preliminary orientation classes after the holidays.”

“That would be great,” Harry said. “I’m glad I won’t be quite so much in the dark.”

“Would it still be alright if I joined you over the Christmas break?” Draco asked tentatively. The letters had begun in earnest now, as missive upon missive was sent to him.

“Of course,” Harry said, “I’ve been looking forward to it actually. My own private orientation into Lord-hood.”

“You’ve done pretty well so far, Harry.”

“Hardly! I’ve barely done a thing at all about it.” Harry groused, feeling guilty.

“And at which point were you expecting to get all of these imaginary tasks done? Hmm?”

“They’re not imaginary. I’ve been receiving summary reports ever since I claimed the title about all my holdings and investments.”

“And yet they have been managing just fine over the last fourteen odd years that you have been unable to attend to them. They will still be there for the holidays, or until after you finish Hogwarts. Either, or.”

“I don’t know, but it feels like I’m shirking a duty.”

“Well, it’s not like it isn’t for a good cause. Your gaining an education now will stand you in better stead than if you had claimed your ‘duties.’ Besides, I think I’d be rather bored right now if you weren’t around to annoy.”

“I’m glad I have been of use then,” Harry smirked again. “If you are still joining me, then I should think we might skip the Hogwarts’ Express back to London. I imagine your mother and some guests would be waiting for you at the station.”

“You probably won’t be able to Floo through until after you have brought some of the wards down, especially after they have been abandoned so long.”

“Actually, I believe the Goblins were taking care of that. Dobby has already let me know that he has met with the Head House Elf of the Potter estates, and has already started preparing for our arrival.”

“You still aren’t comfortable having servants, are you?” Draco mused, watching as Harry had stumbled over his words.

“Well, after unwittingly being one, it is an uncomfortable thought,” Harry said with a shiver. Memories flying through his mind of cooking and cleaning from such an early age that he couldn’t even properly reach the sink or stove properly. Harry shook his head to dispel the thoughts, catching Draco staring at him.

“I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to think rationally about Muggles. They are a savage bunch.”

“Not all of them are. Hermione’s parents are quite amiable.” Harry volunteered, though he wasn’t sure just why he was advocating or protecting Muggles, let alone the one’s that he grew up around.

“No, but a lot of them are.”

“I have a fair idea who might be the second to last member might be too.”

“Oh?”

“Terry Boot. Luna’s been harassing him the last few days, much to his annoyance.”

“That’s just what we need. His pompous arse!”

“Like you can talk,” Harry said, poking Draco in the ribs.

“Yes, but I have the heritage to back it up. What does he have?” Draco sneered, though Harry could see the gleam of amusement in Draco’s eye. “That will leave us with one more position available if Pansy’s calculations are right. I have hope that it doesn’t turn out to be the Weasel, though it would be half my luck.”

“Hardly,” Harry laughed. “Ron is too lazy and too much of a self-absorbed prick. He still thinks we’re going to be Auror’s together.

“I assume you have yet to break him of this illusion?”

“Of course. I’m in no way prepared for that argument.”

“If I might offer an observation,” Draco started carefully, so Harry knew this was going to be either potentially rage-inducing or awkward. “Weasley doesn’t seem to treasure your friendship quite as much as you treasure his.”

“That’s because you’re right. He doesn’t.” Harry sighed, frowning down at his knees. “I’m not sure what I want to do about it,” Harry admitted.

“Do you need to do anything about it?”

“I don’t know. I’m going to have to tell him about the Auror thing, though, and soon.”

“It would be for the best.”

“I don’t know what it is this year, but he’s acting even more demanding than he ever has been. I don’t know what’s happened that’s changed it.”

~*~

The lead up to Christmas was an awkward affair when Harry announced that he would not be staying at Hogwarts over the Christmas holidays.

Hermione was only vaguely surprised at the announcement, though she wished him a Merry Christmas and said would send her present by owl.

Ron, however, had almost had a full blown conniption, first because Harry would be spending it away at one of the Manor’s, and secondly because he was not invited. Ron had not taken that news very well and had yelled at Harry for several minutes before storming off in a huff. Harry couldn’t help but think that he was witnessing the end of his friendship.

Later again that night he started again, “I can’t believe that Harry could just ditch us like we meant nothing!” Ron growled, stalking through the empty common room. All the younger students had beaten a hasty retreat when they had seen the red head on the warpath.

“Harry needs time to sort himself out,” Hermione reasoned, never looking up from her book. “He can’t do that with us bothering him every other minute.” And by ‘us’ she meant Ron, she mused, glad Harry was still at the Library.

“What does he need to sort himself out for anyway? Voldemort isn’t attacking anything yet, so there’s nothing to be worried about.”

“Like that’s the only thing he could possibly be thinking about,” Hermione snorted in derision. “There is more to life, more happening in Harry’s life than just Voldemort. We’re in our Sixth Year, Ron. He’s growing up and thinking about the future. Something you might think about doing.”

“I’ve already got it all worked out, ‘Mione,” Ron said with puffed up pride. “Harry’s already decided that we’ll be going into the Auror’s after Hogwarts, just like his Dad and Padfoot.”

“Has Harry told you that?” Hermione asked neutrally, as she was quite sure that Harry hadn’t said anything to indicate that he wanted to be an Auror. More like, Ron was putting words in the poor boy’s mouth.

“Of course he is! Why wouldn’t he?” Ron laughed loudly. “Hang on, is this about a girl?”

Hermione wanted to bash herself in the head with the very thick and heavy tome in her hands.

“I’m so smart!” Ron boasted. “You didn’t even need to tell me this time. He’s got a girlfriend. Who is she? Do you know?”

“He hasn’t told me he has a girlfriend, and I’ve not noticed any girls hanging around.”

“What’s the bet it’s Ginny? Then he really would be my brother. He can finally get the family that he wants. And Ginny would be really happy too. She’d finally have the money to afford things.”

Scratch that, Hermione wanted to bash Ron in the head with the very thick and heavy tome in her hands.

“Do you reckon that Harry will finally beat Voldemort this time? It’s really gone on long enough, don’t you think?”

“RONALD WEASLEY! How DARE you say that! You know Harry has absolutely no control over this war, nor how Voldemort works. He is a sixteen-year-old boy, just like you are. Just how is he supposed to get up and find Voldemort and kill him, because it’s inconveniencing you! Voldemort is a fully trained Wizard with over fifty years of magical experience. How could you even think that Harry has been postponing this Final Battle or something.” Hermione yelled, quickly gathering her things together, no longer in the mood to entertain the idiot.

“Then how has he survived the last five times, if not for skill?” Ron sneered, thinking he had won the argument.

“Sheer dumb luck,” Hermione said, repeating McGongall’s words from First year. She grabbed her things together, spelling the books to follow her as she stormed up the stairs to the girl’s dormitory.

Ron growled to himself as he stalked around the room, shivering as a gray wisp of magic seemed to crackle and settle over his head once more.

~*~

However, it was when he was in the lineup at the Hogwarts’ Entrance Doors, ready to leave, that it became a real issue.

“Mr. Potter? Where are you going?” Professor McGonagall asked in confusion.

“Home for Christmas,” Harry returned.

“To your Muggle relatives? They did not forward their permission to me.”

“That’s because they wouldn’t have. I’m going to one of the Potter Manor’s.”

“Well, I’m sorry, Mr. Potter, but I can’t allow that. You are underage. We could not in good conscience allow you to leave us into no one’s guardianship.”

Harry sighed in frustration, “That law no longer applies to me.”

“I beg your pardon, but it does. I do hope that your moniker of The Boy Who Lived has not given you airs and graces. It is for your own protection. I cannot allow you to leave Hogwarts, Mr. Potter.” McGonagall said sternly.

“It’s Lord Potter, actually,” Harry said, trying to keep the growl from out of his voice.

“Excuse me?” McGonagall asked in astonishment.

“I accepted my Title in August, Professor. I can legally do magic outside of school, and can legally leave the premises if I want to.”

Before McGonagall could reply, Fawkes flashed in the air between them, dropping a note at the Professor’s feet.

Opening the note, McGonagall perused it for a few moments before looking back to Harry. “The Headmaster has requested to see you in his office.”

Harry said nothing, turning instead to walk back through the castle, his eye caught Draco’s further down the line, but was unable to say anything.

“Harry, dear boy, take a seat,” Dumbledore said with the air of a grandfather even more prominent than usual. “I understand you wanted to leave Hogwarts over the Christmas break. May I ask why?”

“Is it not enough that I want to?” Harry asked, cynicism coloring his voice.

“Of course, I understand that you might want to do something different, but with rules and the current political climate we find ourselves in, it would be safer you stay at Hogwarts.”

“You mean it would be safer that your weapon stays at Hogwarts where you can keep an eye on it, just in case Voldemort should hear.”

“Now Harry, there’s no need to be like that,” Dumbledore said, playing the disappointed grandfather now.

“And there’s no reason that you have to keep me here against my will. I am legally able to leave the school in this situation.”

“Please Harry, that is not what I mean at all. Were you any other student I would be only too happy to do as you wish. But please, consider your role in this War. Should something happen to you,” the Headmaster trailed off.

“So now you think me selfish, after you send me back to Privett Drive each year, where I can wander anywhere I like,” Harry snarled, cursing Draco for making him deal with his emotions lately, instead of cultivating the calm he had achieved over the summer holidays.

“I apologize to you, that this must be a consideration,” Dumbledore said consolingly, sounding as if he had won the argument. Harry had news for him.

“Do you think that it’s not something that I have already considered? I had no intention of catching the Express or appearing in public at any point. I am to Floo directly to one of my Manors. I haven’t even told anyone which one I’ll be going to. Most of them are under Fidelius. I’ve researched the situation quite thoroughly, Professor.”

“So you have,” Dumbledore frowned. “Then I at least request that you take a guardian with you, for an old man’s peace of mind.”

“Who would you suggest?” Harry inquired, already guessing who it might be.

“Professor Snape. He will guard you well, as well as stay out of your business.”

Harry hated being proved right. He could just imagine how the next few weeks would go.

“And if the Professor declines?” Harry prodded. He certainly didn’t want Professor McGonagall to accompany him. She would be entirely too unreasonable and insert herself even more in Harry’s business than if he had invited Mrs. Weasley. He certainly hoped that that would not be a suggestion from Dumbledore.

“I already know he has no plans, bar what Lord Voldemort might create.” Dumbledore nodded, considering the case closed.

“Very well,” Harry acquiesced, knowing no other way of getting around it.

~*~

“My apologies, Sir, for dragging you into this mess.” Harry started, he could already tell the Professor was working his way to a truly foul mood.

“And the reason for your quite sudden urge to gallivant around the country, I suppose, is of the utmost importance,” Snape sneered.

“I believe you will fully understand the situation soon, Professor.”

Professor Snape just huffed, glaring at Harry another moment while resuming to pack his potions kit.

“I’m surprised that Professor Dumbledore isn’t making us leave by his Floo,” Harry commented, as he was truly curious by that fact.

“My Floo is equally as serviceable.”

“Yes, but not as easily observed. I had imagined that he would want to know of our location.”

“You have not advised him?” Snape asked with a raised eyebrow. Harry shook his head. “Then it is a curious thing indeed.”

Shortly after the Potions Master had gathered his kit, they were on their way. After all was said and done, they finally arrived at Potter Manor in Poulnabrone, Ireland in the early evening.

The Entrance Hall they fell in Harry’s case or stepped out of in Snape’s case was a surprisingly opulent and open room with polished marble everywhere. Harry could only stare in surprise at the very obvious and physical reminder that he was incredibly rich, while Snape merely raised an eyebrow.

“If you think this is big, you should see Malfoy Manor,” Draco said, surprising both of them with his sudden presence.

“Mr. Malfoy, what are you doing here?” Snape demanded, his wand already in his hand as he came to step in front of Harry.

“I could ask the same of you,” Draco drawled, his posture tense and dangerous.

“Draco, meet my chaperone for the Christmas holidays. Professor Snape, meet the reason why my ‘gallivanting across the countryside’ was so important.” Harry said, the air of hysteria threatening to overwhelm him again. “Seriously, how is this my life.”

The two Slytherins were left to gape after Harry’s muttered words, as the Gryffindor was already making his way to leave the room.

“Master Harry, Dobby welcomes him home to Potter Manor,” Dobby said popping into existence as Harry walked.

“I didn’t think it would be like this,” Harry said, feeling uncomfortable with so much evidence of his wealth, the goblins had done an exceedingly good job in past centuries.

“Dobby is sorry that Master Harry doesn’t feel comfortable. Perhaps one of the other Manor’s will be more comfortable.” Dobby said, wringing his hands.

“Thank you, Dobby. Though, should that not be the case, then I might just buy or build something more appropriate.” Harry mused, already trying to think what he could possibly do with a house this big, considering his Family Tree pretty much ended with him now.

“Can Dobby introduce to you the Potter Family Elves?”

“Of course,” Harry said, the question shocking him to his core, though he supposed the thought should not have surprised him, considering the wealth at his disposal, and the sheer amount of assets that would need to be cared for.

The Foyer he found himself in was still covered in just as much marble, though this room was of a lighter color, with more flecks of white in the tone. It made it a much more airy room as there were several large windows that allowed the last of the sunlight to stream in.

Lined up near the windows was a range of elves in what seemed various ages. There was easily a few dozen of them, all looking to Harry with eager eyes.

“Master Harry, meet Bibby, who is Head Elf of the Potter Elves.”

“It’s good to meet you, Bibby,” Harry said, and the Elf looked at him with wonder.

“Master Harry, it is so very good to see you again.”

In fact, all the elves looked a little misty-eyed as they looked to Harry.

“Then we has Mimsy, who is Head of the Kitchen Elves.”

“Master Harry,” Mimsy curtseyed, her formal little pillowcase was pressed sharply as she looked at him proudly. “Master Harry has grown so much. Though Master Harry needs to eat more. Mimsy will take care of that.

Harry couldn’t help but laugh at that, thinking that he had traded one matriarchal figure for another.

“And Nibin, who is Head of the Grounds Elves.”

Harry smiled as this elf looked to be the gruffest of the lot, his whole demeanor was firm, and his hands were grubby with soil.

“It’s great to meet all of you,” Harry said, looking over at the gathered elves, “And I look forward to getting to know all of you personally.”

They all seemed quite a twitter after that, all of them popping away as one back to their duties, except for Dobby, Bibby, and Mimsy.”

“Would Master Harry and his guest wish to have dinner soon? Mimsy is making Master Harry’s favorites. Dobby is telling Mimsy what Master Harry likes.” The house elf beamed, motherly pride already taking a firm hold, though, to Harry, he had only known her for mere minutes.

“That would be great. Say in an hour’s time?” Harry looked to his guests for confirmation, and both of them nodded.

When Harry turned back, Mimsy was already gone, and Bibby was stepping forward.

“Shall Bibby arrange for guest rooms to be prepared for Mr. Snape?”

“Yes please,” Bibby disappeared at that, just leaving Dobby.

“Dobby can show Master Harry around if he wants?”

Harry just nodded knowing for the next however long was going to be one long blur as they toured around sitting rooms, and lounge rooms, formal rooms, and ballrooms. It took entirely too long, in Harry’s opinion, for them to reach the bedrooms. They were first shown to Professor Snape’s guest rooms, where the man happily retreated, for the time being, allowing Harry and Draco to finally speak.

Dobby showed them Draco’s rooms, where the blonde had already started to unpack his trunk, before leading them to the Master Bedroom, which was almost a wing unto itself.

“So I think you’ve got some explaining to do,” Draco began as the peered around the sitting room and personal library.

“Dumbledore refuses to make anything easy.” Harry began, slumping into a seat in exhaustion. Draco also sat down at the settee, moments later a steaming tea set appearing before them.

Before either could speak, Dobby had already begun pouring for them, preparing both of their cups before popping out and leaving them alone.

“Well that is a given,” Draco said with some amusement.

“He refused to allow me to leave. And after I had convinced him that I had the matter taken care of, he insisted that I take a guardian with me for his ‘peace of mind’.”

“But are you sure you can trust Snape,” Draco quizzed him, and Harry could see that he was unsettled.

“I trust him with my life,” Harry breathed out, refusing to ignore the fact that it was almost painful to have said it out loud.

“Harry,” Draco said, leaning forward and speaking with urgency. “He’s a Death Eater!”

“I know,” Harry said lightly.

“Then surely you know that we are both in danger. Right now he is probably calling for the Death Eaters to storm the Manor and take off with the both of us.”

“I know for a fact that that wouldn’t be the case. Do you not trust me?” Harry said with a smile.

“Against my better judgment, yes I do seem to trust you.”

“Then trust me when I say that we are in no danger. You are not in danger.”

Draco just sighed, not being able to help but feel concerned.

Harry sat staring for a moment, not sure just how he was supposed to proceed. Either way, he went, he would be revealing secrets that weren’t his own to expose.

“I trust Professor Snape,” Harry said finally, not willing to go beyond that.

“The man is my Godfather; I think it’s safe to say that I might know him better than you would.” Draco hissed, looking away.

Harry knew not to take Draco’s words and emotions to heart. He didn’t have a clue what the blonde might be thinking or feeling. He definitely knew that a large part of it would be pure, undiluted fear.

“Dumbledore all but demanded that I take the Professor with me for my protection. As you can imagine, he was less than impressed. I’ve not said anything about why you are here, I haven’t actually told anyone you would be here at all. I’m taking your safety seriously.”

“I don’t need protecting,” Draco glared witheringly.

Harry just held his hands up in surrender. “All the same, I at least want to help. I think everything will be fine.”

~*~

“Everything alright with your lodgings, Sir?” Harry said from the doorway of Snape’s rooms.

“Indeed, Mr. Potter,” Snape said shortly.

Harry knew that the Professor would begin his own lecture soon. He didn’t have to wait long.

“Are you aware that you are keeping company with someone who would as soon as turn you over to the Dark Lord, as look at you.”

“Funny. He said the same thing as you, though not in as many words,” Harry said with a smirk.

“It does not make it any less true.”

~*~

“Severus,” Draco began when they all reconvened in the dining room.

Mimsy had gone all out and prepared a lavish feast for twenty people, let alone the three of them that were seated at the table.

“Draco,” Severus returned as equally abrupt.

Silence reigned for the next several minutes, neither of the two Slytherins willing to speak first.

“For Merlin’s sake, the both of you will not reveal the other to Voldemort.”

Both of them still remained silent, eyeing the other and Harry warily.

Harry just sighed, contenting himself with his meal.

They all three retired to a small sitting room where Mimsy and her troop served coffee and dessert.

Harry was excited to see a Christmas tree, decked with magical lights and decorations, had been set up in one corner of the room, the rest of the chairs and fireplace arranged around it. He felt the first stirrings of homeliness at seeing it, his first Christmas where he was as close to family as he had ever been, the home of his ancestors.

“Am I to understand you have led Potter to believe that you will be defecting from your Father’s path?” Snape sneered, finally breaking the silence.

“And am I to understand that you are a spy for Dumbledore?”

They both looked at the other critically, leading Harry to roll his eyes again at the tennis game in front of him.

Nothing was resolved that night between the two snakes, though not for Harry not helping.

The next morning Harry woke in the grand bedroom that was to be his now that he was the Patriarch. They were still opulent, but it was a more rustic and warm feel to it that was much more comfortable in Harry’s eyes. All the marble in the rest of the Manor seemed to leave a feeling of coldness to Harry.

It was still early in the morning, so Harry took tea in the small lounge area that was sectioned off from the large open plan living space. There was also another area over by the windows which held a large desk ready for his use.

“Master Harry,” Dobby asked, popping into the room beside him. “Professor Snape has requested to see you.”

Harry just sighed. He really wasn’t interested in rehashing all the conversations that he had already had. But Harry nodded, knowing that he would not be able to turn the Potions Master away.

“Mr. Potter, my apologies for drawing you from your bed so early this morning,” Snape began, noting Harry was still in his pajamas.

“I was already awake. What can I do for you?”

“Mr. Malfoy,” Snape said, it being enough to convey all that needed to be said.

“I have been meeting with Draco, and Hermione, in the library near on every day for the last two months.”

Snape’s eyebrows shot up in surprise.

“In recent times, we have been joined by Pansy Parkinson, Neville Longbottom, and some memorable occasions with Luna Lovegood.”

“A very odd group to be sure,” Snape snorted in amusement.

“Very. But we have been led to believe that it is for a reason. What do you know about a Druidic Conclave?”

This time, Snape was not able to hide his surprise quite so well.

“They are a group of eight witches and wizards, chosen by fate it is said, that ruled the magical society in ancient times. There hasn’t been such a circle for more than 500 years. What are you implying?”

“Such a circle has been prophesied.”

“By whom?”

“Luna Lovegood.”

“And you take her word for it, when she has no qualifications, nor is she a certified Seer.” Snape dismissed with a sneer.

“We are already six members from the eight. It is possible that this is the ‘Power the Dark Lord knows not.’ This could be how this war is ended.”

“So you aren’t taking Dumbledore’s word that is ‘Love’ which is your power?” There was an air of derision in Snape’s question that made Harry think that the Potions Professor thought just as little of that plan as he did.

“Everyone is capable of love, though there are certain people who I guess would find the concept harder to achieve than others. But it’s certainly not something that could necessarily be used as a Power against the idiot, not now that he has my blood in his veins. I don’t think my mother’s protection works as well anymore.”

“You have had evidence of this?” Snape asked mildly, his emotions carefully under wraps again.

“No. Not yet. But I’m not going to rely on it. This inheritance business has come at quite the convenient time so that I might never see my Muggle relatives again.”

“Not up to you palatial standards, Potter?”

“No, I was sick of the physical and mental abuse.” Harry returned sharply, cursing Draco again that he couldn’t keep his emotion at bay again.

“Abuse?” the Potions Master said sharply, his expression one that would normally scare Harry if he knew it was focused on him.

Harry just sighed again, looking away. He wasn’t sure how his mouth kept getting away from him, as he had never intended to reveal this dark secret.

“Mr. Potter, may I cast a diagnostic charm?” Snape said softly, but there was still a note of tension in his voice that Harry was not used to hearing.

He wasn’t sure he wanted to know what the results would be from such a scan, nor what they might mean. He wanted to say no, that it was none of the Potion Master’s business. But then he was reminded of all the times that Draco had been lecturing him. Perhaps this was one way that he could recognize the abuse emotionally and start to heal from it. He was sick of keeping it a secret, of being ashamed of it.

Harry sighed again, giving the nod to Snape to go ahead.

Snape murmured a long Latin charm, Harry could feel the magic pass through him, moving swiftly from head to toe several times before withdrawing. There was a pop as the magic manifested into a roll of parchment. Harry wasn’t sure if it was meant to be so, but it looked a little bit think from his reckoning. It made him want to sigh all over again. Or just huddle under the blankets of his bed.

Nothing was said as Snape perused the document, though his face was for the most part neutral, he had noticed that the man’s face had grown very pale in the ensuing minutes.

“I believe your moniker of ‘The Boy Who Lived’ is quite accurate,” Snape finally said, rolling the scroll up again and putting it on the table before Harry. “The fact that you are still alive is nothing short of miraculous.”

He wasn’t sure, but Harry could have sworn that the Professor’s voice had almost broken on the last word.

Harry didn’t say anything, not knowing what he could possibly say in such a situation.

“My apologies, Mr. Potter. If you would excuse me a moment.”

Harry watched as the man rose from his seat. Harry kicked himself as his fears were realized. The man couldn’t stand to be around him after discovering just how damaged he was.

So he was surprised that instead of the door to the suite, Snape instead walked to the bathroom. The door banged shut and the sounds of someone throwing up ensued.

~*~

Breakfast was another tense affair as Harry and Draco ate their breakfast. Snape choosing to have tea and some bland toast.

Harry still wanted to apologize to the man. Though when he had eventually left the bathroom earlier, he had only glared at Harry, stopping the words in his mouth.

Draco had, of course, picked up on the tension between them and was watching with concern.

Like the night before, they, however, remained in silence until everyone had finished and they were sitting awkwardly at the dining table.

“Mr. Potter, is there somewhere that I might be allowed to work?”

“Bibby?” Harry called, pleased when the Elf appeared before he had even finished saying his name “Is there a Potions Lab where Professor Snape might work safely?”

“There is. Bibby be taking the Professor if he is ready.”

Snape strode from the room quickly as though there were hellhounds after him.

“So, what was all that about?” Draco demanded as soon as the doors were closed.

Harry said nothing as he pulled the parchment from his pocket and handed it to the blonde.

“What is this?”

“A diagnostic charm.”

Draco frowned at Harry as he opened it, his attention turning to the words printed.

After several minutes, he rolled it up again and handed it back.

“So, when you said it wasn’t pleasant with your relatives, you were in actual fact making the understatement of the millennia,” Draco said dryly, though he looked very pale, he was making no sudden moves to throw up.

Small mercies.

Harry took up the list himself and had another look. He could almost remember the instances where he had received all the broken bones, though he was surprised at the level of detail that was given on his body functions due to malnutrition. Having lived with his body the way it was, he had never thought that it might be deficient in some respect. This report said otherwise as a lot of his systems were still at a subpar state. He had no idea what it all meant, though, nor how or if it could be remedied. All he knew was that his magic had kept him alive somehow.

“So, what does this all mean to you?” Draco prodded Harry from his thoughts.

“Back to playing psychiatrist, again?”

“Back to avoiding the question, again?” Draco returned just as quick. Harry wanted to growl.

“I’ve been abused my whole life.” Harry snarled wanting to stand and stride out of the room just as Snape had done. Though, he knew that Draco would just follow where ever he went.

“You know that already, at least mentally.” Draco conceded. “But what does it mean to you?”

Harry fumed silently, his mind a tumult of thoughts of anger and revenge and a feeling of wanting to throw up himself. There were fear and hurt and a rage that Harry wasn’t sure he would be able to control.

“Harry!” The strange quaver in Draco’s voice had Harry opening his eyes, not realizing he had even closed them to begin with.

The room was filled with levitated items circling the room in increasingly faster winds. Mimsy and several other elves were trying to retrieve them, casting furtive glances at their Master.

With some horror, Harry reigned in his magic with a snap, everything falling to the ground, some things breaking as the elves had been unable to catch everything in time.

“That’s not dealing with it,” Draco chided softly.

“No, but at least no one is getting hurt.”

“But there is someone getting hurt.” Harry glanced at Draco in confusion. “You are getting hurt.”

Harry just rolled his eyes.

“So you think it’s acceptable that you be hurt, but no one else. Why are you exempt from that rule?”

“What do you mean?” Harry growled defensively. “So, I can’t protect other people?”

“Of course you can protect people. Protect away to your heart’s content. But why aren’t you allowed that same protection?”

Harry had nothing to say as he glared at Draco.

“Say something happened to Dobby, he was kidnapped and tortured by Voldemort. What would you do?”

“I’d tear the bastard to pieces!” Harry snarled, surprising himself with the vehemence.

“And if it was you that was kidnapped and tortured? Would you be so vicious in defense of yourself? Or would you merely do what needs to be done and kill Voldemort as everyone expects you to.”

Harry fumed, the thought of Dobby still reverberating in his head, images floating by, procured by his imagination of the imagined tortures that would be heaped upon the poor House Elf.

But he already knew the answer to Draco’s question, and he wasn’t sure how he felt about that.

“Do what needs to be done,” Harry said quietly, looking away.

“So why don’t you deserve to be avenged? Why don’t you deserved to be saved and protected?”

~*~

Draco left him alone for the morning, leaving his thoughts for company.

Instead, Draco asked that he be taken to where Professor Snape was working by one of the House Elves who was only too keen to show Draco the way. He could see that all of the elves were beyond ecstatic to have a Master to serve again, and already they were looking healthier having the three wizards to care for.

“Sir,” Draco said, announcing his presence, standing in the doorway of the large Potions lab.

“Draco.” He acknowledged with a glance, returning to the root that he was in the process of preparing.

“Got to admit, this is an amazing Lab,” Draco said, attempting to break the ice.

“Indeed. Someone in the Potter family seemed to have some taste.” Snape agreed.

“So, Potter’s relatives need to be drawn and quartered.” Draco snarled, barely keeping his temper in check.

“He showed you then.”

“He did.”

“It reminds me of why I joined our Lord’s forces, to begin with,” Severus said, the snarl in his own voice quite evident.

“He’s not ‘Our’ Lord,’ Severus. I have no intention of being Marked.”

“Is that so.”

“And I think you must have defected at some point too. Potter is trusting, but he is not stupid. He must have a reason for believing you safe.”

“And what reason do you have? How have you convinced him of your own allegiances?”

“Through action. I only hope it is enough. We have not been entirely frank with each other on the topic.” Draco sighed, taking a seat at one of the benches out of his Godfather’s way.

Moments later he was handed a mortar and pestle, a pile of ingredients and the instructions for them to be powdered.

“Mr. Potter is an entirely too trusting Gryffindor.” Snape agreed. “I am not so easily fooled. So kindly explain to me just how you think that you could manage to avoid joining Lord Voldemort’s ranks.”

Draco just sighed. “My marking is supposed to be tonight. So far I’ve advised them that I will be unable to return home. Potter had agreed to hide me here so that my Mother, under Father’s instructions would not be able to draw me from the school. Here, I am protected from being found and made to be Marked.

“As for my reasons, as you would know, my Father has always acted, and therefore impressed upon me the ideal that we are a rank above everyone and everything else. Malfoy’s are Leaders, not followers. The idea that my Father bows before that maniac is abhorrent. I will admit to, for some time, dreaming of a world where instead, Lord Voldemort and I could instead work in partnership. It was a foolish and childish dream, but there you have it. I am aware of his goals and find myself in accord. But his methods leave something to be desired. My plans do not include ruling over a select few wizards and witches that will be left alive at the end, as surely that is the way he is heading. Doing away with all Muggleborns and mixed blood is a sure way to in fact see our species extinct.”

“I suppose that you believe Lovegood’s supposed Prophecy then?”

“Harry told you?” Draco asked in surprise, though he didn’t wait for an answer. “Well, the idea has merit, and already there have been clues that it may, in fact, be a possible future, though I still regard the situation with a healthy amount of skepticism. All Prophecies are open to interpretation, and as I’m sure you are aware she is an untested Seer.”

“Indeed.”

They were quiet for a time, both putting their attention to their tasks. It was only as Severus began brewing that he spoke.

“I defected, as you put it, over thirteen years ago, and been a spy for Dumbledore ever since.”

“Truly?” Draco said with shock. “And Father has no clue.”

“Indeed. It has been a challenge, one I would hardly wish on my enemy.”

Draco just shook his head, his mind a study of wonder at the man before him. He had never had evidence that the man was not, in fact, loyal to Lord Voldemort’s cause. His Father had always taken the man into his confidence.

“Hand me the belladonna you’ve been pounding away at,” Snape interrupted his thoughts.

Draco handed the mortar over, watching as the Potions Master measured out the required amount. He looked over the other ingredients quickly, mind mentally ticking off what Potion the man was making. It wasn’t one he knew, but going by the ingredients, he could only guess what it might be.

“You’re making some kind of healing potion for Potter.”

“A broad spectrum nutrient potion, yes,” Snape admitted quietly.

~*~

Harry fumed behind the desk in his room, sitting in the chair awkwardly, staring out the windows to the grounds below. He could see the gardening Elves, led by Nubbin, as they worked away, tending the various flowers and garden beds.

His mind was still a tumult of thoughts and emotions fighting for control. He wasn’t sure where he was at, nor where he was supposed to be. Draco had turned his unconscious beliefs and expectations arse up, and he had no idea where to begin to sort it all out again.

Intellectually, he understood that his self-preservation skills were good, but emotionally it seemed he was compromised. He still fumed at the thought of Dobby being taken or hurt, but he was confused that he didn’t seem to have that same kind of protection over himself. Draco implied that he should. But the concept was a foreign one. Self-sacrifice seemed to be a prevalent theme in his life, as his mother, father and even Sirius seemed to demonstrate. There were even the countless people who were in the Ministry or in the Order of the Phoenix, that would all sacrifice themselves to keep Harry safe so that he could perform his duty for the Magical World.

And wasn’t that a kicker. It wasn’t that these people were doing it for him, they were doing it to protect everyone else. It seemed as if everyone else had gotten the memo that Harry was the only one that could kill Voldemort, regardless of the fact that the Prophecy said as such. They kept him alive so that they protected themselves.

It was only fair that Harry tried to protect these people himself in return.

But he wasn’t sure where the idea Draco had given him would fit.

“Is Master Harry okay?” Dobby asked, a hand on Harry’s arm jerking his attention back to the room.

“I will be, one day,” Harry said, hoping that it would eventually be the case.

“Is there anything that Dobby can do?”

“No, you’ve been wonderful just as you are, Dobby,” Harry said with a smile, watching as the elf beamed up at him with love.

And wasn’t that a strange concept. He wasn’t sure he had ever seen love in his life. He supposed his parents had loved him, but he was much too young to have any memory of that time. Seeing it now, in the elf before him, he wasn’t sure what to do with it. He wasn’t sure what it meant.

“Master Harry?” Dobby said, worried now as he held out a tissue to his master.

Harry looked on in confusion until he felt the tears drop onto his arm. He took the tissue, not even realizing that he had been crying.

“Thank you, Dobby,” Harry said with a watery smile.

“You is very welcome.”

The elf popped away a moment later, leaving Harry to his thoughts again, once again even more confused than he had been earlier.

He was seriously messed up.

~*~

Lunch time came all too quickly, and Draco and Severus were already seated when Harry finally arrived.

“I’ve discussed it with Mimsy, Mr. Potter that you will be going on a diet as of this moment to boost your various biological systems that are woefully under acceptable levels. I have begun brewing a series of Potions, with Mr. Malfoy’s help, that will aid in correcting these levels. There is to be no argument, and you will not skip a meal. Am I understood?”

Harry stared in shock, not sure how to answer, apart from the obvious acquiescence.

“Why are you doing this?”

“Do I really need to deign that question with an answer, Mr. Potter?”

“But you hate me!”

Snape stared at him a moment, making Harry feel awkward. “My apologies, Mr. Potter if that is what you think. I do not, in fact, hate you. Unfortunately, at Hogwarts, there is an image I must maintain, one that means that I would disparage both you and your House.”

“And everyone else in the school,” Draco added with a snort.

“Indeed,” Snape agreed with a nod. “I hope that in the future, you will see it for the act that it is, and not take what I need to say, to heart.”

“And would you offer such an apology to Neville, Professor?” Harry asked with a new harshness.

“Should the situation arise where I could without fear of being found out by Voldemort, then yes, I would.” Snape inclined his head. “There is much guilt that I carry, but I also understand the part that I must play both as a minion of Voldemort, but also as a tool of the fates, one that creates adversity for others to overcome. I have come to be at peace with my lot in life, though it has taken me many, many years, and I will do what needs to be done at the will of Fate.”

Harry wanted to say something derisive in return, but instead it rang entirely too close to the kind of the thing that Draco had been trying to explain to him over the last few weeks.

One of those things was the idea of playing the victim. Playing and owning such a title meant that he intended to be hurt by it, that he wanted to be hurt. What he should instead be doing is playing a different card, one that would mean that he would instead see the challenge presented to him and try to overcome it, all the while understanding that the Fate’s had planned it this way. That it was at Fate’s direction that Snape created the adversity, and in turn, Snape was given his own adversity to work with, to play the card of the persecutor, and to do so willingly at the Fate’s request. Harry understood that there must be an incredible amount of guilt that must be entailed upon such a request. To consciously be the one to ‘attack’ others was something that Harry wasn’t sure he would be able to do.

Harry had a whole new appreciation for the man in front of him now, as, under Draco tutelage, he was able to view the world in a whole new way that had more meaning and at the very least some hope.

“Thank you, Professor. For the Potions and your help. I do appreciate it.”

“You are welcome Mr. Potter.”

Draco smiled at the both of them, knowing that Harry had managed to come to some kind of epiphany about the world.

Harry quickly skulled the potion that he was presented with, face screwing up in distaste and he drank his juice in an effort to take away the taste.

“Merlin that was disgusting,” Harry exclaimed, still trying to not to gag.

“My apologies, Mr. Potter. Unfortunately, most of the Potions on the course I have organized for you are one’s that are unable to be flavored.”

“Completely by chance, right?” Harry smirked, and he was glad when the Potions Master could see he was joking.

“But of course, Mr. Potter.”

“So you two seem in better spirits now. I take it you have talked?”

“We have,” Snape said shortly, beginning in on his lunch.

“I’m glad. When Draco said you were his Godfather, I was glad actually. He has a much better chance of staying unmarked.”

“Indeed, he has shared many reasons for why he has chosen a different path. I can only hope he will be sincere in those choices.” The man said sternly, a firm look in Draco’s direction.

“You know I will be,” Draco returned the look head on, holding the man’s gaze until Severus seemed to accept it.

“Good,” Harry said with a smile at the both of them. “So what are we going to do about Voldemort and Dumbledore?”

“Dumbledore, Mr. Potter?” Snape said in confusion.

“Please, call me Harry, Sir.”

“Thank you, Harry. You may likewise call me Severus if you must.” Severus said, with a smirk and a roll of the eyes.

“It’s manners, Potter. Something which you were probably never made aware of, having been raised by jackals.” Draco explained at Harry’s stunned expression

“Getting back to my question, Harry, why do you suppose there is something that needs to be done in regards to the Headmaster?” Snape asked, turning serious once more.

“Mainly it’s a feeling I’m getting,” Harry started, and he could see both Slytherins readying for a simultaneous eye roll. “But I’m sure you’ve noticed that he doesn’t seem to be remembering things very well.”

Draco looked to Severus in surprise, having thought that Harry would mean Dumbledore’s manipulations, especially the circumstances that led to the Potions Master even being there with them.

Harry watched as Severus seemed to think on things a moment, giving neither acceptance nor dismissal of the accusation.

When he finally did speak, it was still with the air of neutrality. “Whilst I too have seen evidence of what you say, I don’t think it is something we need concern ourselves with just yet. Allow me to keep an eye on the situation, Harry.”

“Alright, but you’ll let us know, won’t you?” Harry frowned.

“I promise to keep you informed of my findings.”

“Voldemort then,” Draco said, frowning as well.

“As Harry may have already told you, we do not have much intelligence right now on just what Voldemort’s plans are. He is keeping things still close to his chest, though I have gleaned so far that he is searching for something. Something which he is not willing to entrust to his Death Eaters.”

“That’s a bit concerning. Do you think it could be a place, a person or an object?”

“Uncertain at this point, though employing some psychiatry, I would be more inclined to think he is looking for a place or an object. An object would be my best guess.”

“I suppose that narrows down the field,” Harry supplied with half a smile.

~*~

“Can I help you, Luna,” Susan Bones said abruptly, looking at the girl who was seating herself across the library table from her.

“I believe you can. There is something that I need help researching.”

“You’re the Ravenclaw, not me,” Susan said, rolling her eyes.

“Yes, while that is true, I was wondering on a second opinion. I’ve been shown something, which you might find interesting. A new purpose you might say. I can guess that a new purpose is something you might need right now.”

Susan rolled her eyes this time, voice harsh, “I wonder what gave you that idea.”

“I am sorry for you loss, and to remind you of it.”

Susan remained silent, her emotions seemingly always close to the surface ever since the last of her family, her Aunt Amelia, had been killed at the Ministry. She was supposed to have claimed her title at Gringotts over these holidays, but Dumbledore had persuaded her to wait for the time being.

She wasn’t even sure what the man’s reasoning had been now, which made her furious. There seemed to be something very fishy going on right now, especially after she had seen Harry Potter walk out of the Headmaster’s office in a huff before her own meeting with the man. She too had been in the line up to leave Hogwarts.

“There is a prophecy, about a coming age that has been made known to me,” Susan scoffed, but Luna continued on unaffected, “It made mention of a Druid’s Conclave.”

Now this piqued her curiosity, as Old Magic’s and the Old traditions intrigued her, as did most things of a historical nature. She was, however, skeptical of the wishy-washy nature of Old Magic’s, especially the worshipping of deities. That, to her, seemed like a right load of crock.

“The Prophecy claimed that a new Conclave would be built soon, ushering in a new world and new path for Magic kind to walk.”

“The Conclave structure was abandoned several hundred years ago,” Susan frowned. “Why on earth would anyone see it reintroduced. The Ministry of Magic is a much fairer system.”

“And more open to corruption,” Luna warned. “The last Fated Conclave was closed in 1342. The supposed conclave’s after that were not fated, hence the decline and subsequent abolishment in 1636.”

“And what is the difference that a ‘Fated’ Conclave instead of a regular one make?” Susan wanted to scoff, but so far all of the information presented was ringing true.

“They are chosen by Fate to work together and with Magical Society. They would never dictate and already have the best intentions for our society as a whole. Magic prospers when there is a Conclave ‘in-groved’.”

 ~*~

Harry found Draco in the giant library after lunch, the blonde perusing the old and worn texts.

“Hey,” Harry said by way of greeting, still feeling a little bit awkward after their emotional talk at lunch.

“Hey,” Draco smiled back, still looking at the various books.

Harry wasn’t sure what else to say. His mind was still a little blown from the revelation that he had come to during lunch. If what he thought about the Fates was right, then it made everything else in the world that much more interesting, though also that much more complicated.

“Severus is an anomaly, isn’t he? That he can recognize the position he’s landed himself in, and still do the work required by the Fates.”

“He is,” Draco acknowledged. “How do you feel about that?”

“You really are turning into a psychologist aren’t you!”

“It’s something that’s crossed my mind, though I will disclaim that it is not your normal psychology. I’m much more interested in how things fit in with the Fates grand scheme of things.”

“It certainly sounds interesting. And something which I’m sure will be in high demand after the war is resolved.”

“I do seem to have a good timing for it, though I suppose it could also be argued that the Fates have placed me here, at this time with this interest and skill, purely for the fact that it will be needed in the aftermath.”

Harry nodded, “But not everyone is comfortable with the idea that their life is already decided for them. To some, it can render them powerless.”

“That is true, but there will always be those that find comfort in it as well. But what if I was to say to you that it was you who chose this life, and the events that would take place before you were ever conceived on this plane of existence.”

“What is a plane of existence? I’ve heard of it before, but I didn’t know what it meant then or now.”

Draco thought for a moment, “We are on the physical plane of existence. The third plane or dimension. There are planes above and below us that resonate with different parts of our soul. For example, the next plane above us is the mental plane, where the same rules of physics don’t apply, but a whole new set does with regards to the manipulation of energy.”

“Sounds pretty complicated,” Harry said, confused and in wonder.

“It is from that, and the planes above it, where time does not exist, that you decided, with others, to enter this plane of existence, and take up this job that needed to be done.”

“So there is still freedom of choice, then.” Harry nodded to himself, seemingly allayed for the time being.

“Of course there is. At any time you can choose to forgo the mission that you agreed to, or refuse to complete a certain goal that you had already organized. Though like any endeavor, I suppose, it will not always just impact you, though we would all forgive you for it.”

“It makes it a huge responsibility,” Harry said quietly.

“Yes, it can. But one that you believed could be achieved, and one which you don’t have to do alone. There are others here that will help you, just as you will help them.”

“The Conclave,” Harry said in understanding.

“I’m beginning to think so, though I haven’t gotten complete confirmation of that. There’s some searching that I need to do, as well as conferring with Luna.”

Harry sighed, for once not feeling quite so alone in his quest, now that he truly understood that he wasn’t alone in this war like it had been made to seem all his life.

“I think I need to change,” Harry admitted. “There are a lot of thought processes in my mind that really aren’t doing me or anyone else any favors. How do I change that?”

“You’ve already started,” Draco said with a proud smile. “The fact that you can recognize them is a massive leap. But understanding them and releasing them are a little harder. Sometimes it works better if there is intent behind the process, which is why the Wheel of the Year has been adhered to for so long.”

Harry frowned for a moment, considering the words that Draco had spoken.

“You’ve changed.” Harry frowned, though it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. “Somehow you’ve grown or changed. You even sound different than when we first started talking.”

“Yeah, I have,” Draco said, running his hand through his hair in nervousness. “Once I started to get into this way of thinking, a lot of doors have opened for me. Exploring that has been pretty life altering.”

“I suppose it would be needed, if you were going to be our architect,” Harry smiled.

“What did you call me?” Draco asked, suddenly quite intense.

“An Architect.” Harry shrugged. “I’m not sure why I said it.”

“I know why,” Draco said, intenseness falling away and a satisfied ghost of a smirk crossed his face. “This just might actually work.”

Draco seemed to shake himself then, looking back at Harry and back in the present. “So! Back to you. The Wheel of the Year is a good, symbolic way of honoring the various stages in one’s life. Winter Solstice, or Yule, or Christmas, was originally on December twenty-second and is known as a time of Death and Rebirth. Symbolically, it can be the death of the old Harry, and the Rebirth of the New Harry, one who is in control of himself and his emotions, and one who is open to acceptance, and protection, and love.” Draco smirked, poking him as he chided him with his last words.

“Yeah,” Harry blushed, “I need to accept that.”

“And you need to understand why you rejected it in the first place. Which does mean, unfortunately, bringing up the Dursley’s.”

“Yeah,” Harry acknowledged, his tone one of resignation now.

Draco dragged him over to one of the sofa’s tucked in front of one of the large windows that streamed light into the gigantic library. Draco dropped down onto the lounge, laying out and dragging Harry to sit between his open legs and pulled back against the blonde’s chest.

Harry held himself tense, bewildered and embarrassed. “Ehm… What are you doing?”

“Making myself comfortable,” Draco replied, no apology offered but for a hand now running softly through Harry’s hair.

“Can I mention that I’m not comfortable?” Harry said, awkwardness still making him tense.

“Of course you can move, but you’re not getting up.”

“Why can’t I get up?” Harry demanded starting to feel a little claustrophobic, and boxed in.

“Because you are going to accept that there are going to be people in the world who will want to comfort you, and you are going to accept that you a) need to be comforted and b) that you are allowed to feel comforted. It falls under that whole love category. You need to accept that you are allowed to be loved, just as much as you are allowed to love. But you can only love something or someone as much as you love yourself first.”

During Draco’s monolog, Harry had seemed to get past the stirrings of panic and to start to relax. He was still painfully conscious of the fact that he was all but laying on Draco Malfoy of all people.

“So do you think you love yourself?” Draco prodded.

Harry snorted. “I really didn’t think you were into this new age bullshit so much.”

“Ahh. Derision. I’ll take that as a no, you don’t seem to love yourself.” Draco continued.

Harry could feel the rage building up inside himself, but there was no safe outlet for it right now, so he could only bottle it.

“I know what you’re doing, Harry. What are some of the recriminations that are flying through your head?”

Harry remained silent, fearful that once he started talking, then there would be no making it stop.

“Very well. Shall we start with, ‘Why do I need love’? Or ‘Why would someone love me?’ Perhaps ‘How could someone ever love me?’ Am I getting close?”

Still, Harry remained silent, but the tide was turning, and the rage from before was turning to something much more hurtful.

“How about ‘No one loves me?’” Draco continued now, tone much softer as he ran his fingers much more firmly through Harry’s hair, grounding him. “Or perhaps ‘No one will love me?’”

They were both silent for a moment, Harry fighting to keep the tears from flowing, unwilling to show weakness.

“You do know that you can cry, Harry. It doesn’t make you weak, or a wuss, or unmanly, or whatever is running through your head. Thinking that people judging are you is only the reflection of what you judge about yourself. If you can accept yourself, love yourself, then their words and judgments mean nothing. You can own your existence, and there, is a heady experience, and it is the way that you will succeed in this mission that you planned for yourself.”

Still, Harry fought the tears, knowing that it would be admitting defeat, admitting that he had been going about everything his whole life the wrong way. Before he knew it, the tears were streaming down his face, and he was hiccupping for breath.

“Shhhhh. It’s okay Harry. You didn’t know any better. But now you have a way of going forward, without these shackles holding you back.” Draco held onto the brunet even tighter, the hand not running through his hair wound over the boy’s chest and rubbing his arm, cocooning him in all the warmth, acceptance, and love that he could project at the broken boy.

They sat that way for more than an hour, Harry’s tears eventually tapering off, but the hiccups remaining as he fought to make his way through the end of the released emotions.

Dinner time that night was another quiet affair, though this time Harry was the quiet one, his eyes still red and puffy.

Severus had taken one look at the boy and seemed to have understood the situation.

“Your potions, Harry. This one last, it at least has a more pleasant flavor.”

Harry hiccupped a laugh, “Thank you, sir.”

“Not at all, Harry.”

Dobby spent the entirety of dinner and a good portion of the evening afterward nervously looking at Harry from a distance. Eventually, Draco called the Elf to where the two boys were once again cuddled together on one of the lounges in Harry’s rooms.

“Is Master Harry okay,” Dobby asked, wringing his hands together.

“He will be Dobby, this has been a long time in coming,” Draco said with a comforting smile.

“Dobby remembers. Dobby tried to help in summer holidays.” the elf said nervously.

“And you did a great job. I’m not sure he would have been able to deal with Hogwarts and his friends and the Order half so well, had it not been for you.”

“Dobby is glad he could helps Master Harry.” With a snap of the house elf’s fingers, he popped away to leave them in peace, two warm mugs of cocoa left in his place.

Draco prodded Harry up enough to take one of the mugs. Draco groaned his approval at the first sip.

“Potter your elves are amazing. This tastes bloody amazing.”

Harry smiled in return, nursing his own mug. “I feel exhausted.”

“It’s to be expected, with both the emotional shift and the energetic shift.”

“It doesn’t feel any different, in my head I mean,” Harry admitted, concerned.

“It won’t necessarily. Now it will take a conscious effort on your behalf to make sure that you stay on the right path.”

“This seems so bloody hard,” Harry complained, putting his mug back on the coffee table and lying back down against the blonde’s chest. The awkwardness was still there, but not so all consuming as it had first been.

“They say nothing good in life is ever easy.”

“That person was a lying liar who lies.” Harry groused, making Draco laugh.

“You’ll get there one day, Harry. We both will. You aren’t the only one working through a room full of issues.”

“Feels like my room is like the Room of Requirement, though.” Harry groused again, making Draco laugh again. It brought a smile to his face that he could make the blonde laugh at all.

~*~

The next day was the Winter Solstice, and the Elves had outdone themselves celebrating the season, as holiday wreaths decorated the house tastefully, and there was a grand Christmas tree in the Formal Lounge that was decorated with silver and glass ornaments. Harry felt that excitement bubbling in him, for some reason this Christmas feeling different for all the others he had experienced.

Unsurprisingly, Professor Snape spent the day in the potions lab. Harry felt a little guilty that the Potions Master was spending so much of his time making potions for him, but he was very grateful. He hoped it showed when the man opened the Christmas present that Harry had chosen for him on Christmas Day.

Harry spent a good portion of the day going over everything that he wanted to accomplish that night, as well as creating in his own mind how he envisioned his life to be for the future.

He wanted to make sure it was one where he wasn’t kept on a pedestal, and where he could gather a new family around himself, one that he could choose himself, and not necessarily one that blood would give him. He was already beginning to feel it with Draco, Hermione, Neville, and in some respects, even Pansy. But most of all he wanted to create a world where there was equality, peace, and justice.

When it came time for the ritual that night, he almost felt prepared.

At sunset they left the house and walked across the grounds to a grove of trees that spanned a large corner of the property. Harry felt a peacefulness descend on him as he entered the giant old forest, all the trees around him looked tall and strong. They walked a few minutes longer, led by Dobby who held a lantern, out into a large clearing. At the very center was a dugout fire pit that looked blackened and old with use over the centuries.

They fanned out around the fire pit, each of them taking a cardinal position marked on the ground. Dobby stepped forward and from the lantern he held, lit the fire pit.

Within moments the fire had stoked larger and larger until it was roaring merrily, safely contained in the fire pit.

“We call on the Sylphs of the North, Salamanders of the East, Gnomes of the South, and Undines of the West, that they might bless this sacred place and the ritual we are about to conduct. ” Draco intoned, the winds picking up from each direction as he called them, the distinctive smells of earth, and salt water, smoke, and a fresh spring breeze comingled around them.

Harry felt a tingle of magic pass over them, the air suddenly thicker for it.

“Tonight we honor the darkest point of the year, the darkest aspect of ourselves, and the darkest aspect of the Goddess. We celebrate the death that comes for all, and the rebirth that comes after. Tonight we offer the death of a part of ourselves, that it be reborn as something that will contribute to the life we wish to lead.”

“Tonight we sacrifice that which we do not need,” Severus said in the lull, drawing from his pocket a locket on a chain. He stepped forward, holding the chain out over the flames. For several moments he stood still, deep in thought, before he suddenly released the chain and it dropped into the flames.

The fire pit burned brighter for a moment, before their eyes, the locket disappeared from sight. Harry stared in amazement, as it had certainly not just melted in the flames.

With a nod to himself, Severus stepped back into his spot, and Draco stepped forward.

“Tonight we sacrifice that which we do not need,” Draco said, producing a rolled up piece of parchment. Draco concentrated on it a moment before he too flung it into the flames. Like the pendant before, it didn’t burn, the flames themselves never touched it, instead it seemed to disappear into nothing.

Draco stepped back into his earlier position, and it was finally Harry’s turn.

Cautiously, he stepped forward, feeling beyond awkward, he repeated the words that Draco had explained to him earlier in the day, “Tonight we sacrifice that which we do not need.”

Resolutely, he took his glasses off his face, feeling for a moment that he couldn’t see properly before he got used to it. To him, his glasses, given to him by the Dursley’s after his primary school had sent home a letter with him stating that he had to have them, represented so much of his life up to this date. Something that was given to him because there was no other choice; something forced on him. It also represented a lot of his insecurities, and being that they were so old, weren’t exactly allowing him to see all that clearly anymore anyway.

He chucked them into the fire pit, thinking that him throwing them to the fire meant that, as a brand new Harry, he was going to start living his life the way that he wanted to, the way that would achieve what he wanted to achieve, a life that he controlled. And as a part of that, he was going to own his emotions and work from a position of love and positive intention. The biggest thing that he had to remember was that he, himself, chose this life before he was ever born into it, and it was his choice that he would get through it as best he could, and achieving everything that he had planned for himself to do. He was resolute.

He stepped back into his spot, watching as the glasses were enfolded in a bubble, then they disappeared just like the other items had as well.

“Tonight we come to honor the Goddess, the Crone, the Death that awaits us all.”

At Draco’s words, the winds picked up again, spinning around the grove ever faster though their robes were hardly disturbed. It culminated as the winds circled the fire, creating a firestorm in the pit before it vanished altogether. Harry watched in awe, having never seen this kind of magic or ritual in his life. To him, this felt closer to what he had imagined what Magic would be when Hagrid had first come and explained that he was invited to Hogwarts.

“Tonight we partake of the rebirth, an opportunity granted by the Goddess that we might go forward, guided by her light.”

The air seemed even thicker than before as with Draco’s words, the smallest spark was suddenly there, dancing over the remains of the fire pit. Upon closer inspection, it was a salamander, the fire dancing along its skin as it crawled over the wood.

Dobby stepped forward at his time, opening the door to the lantern that he held so that the salamander of fire could jump in, the fire burning merrily inside once again.

“We thank you Sylphs of the North, we thank you Gnomes of the East, we thank you Undines of the South, and we thank you Salamanders of the West. We thank you for accepting our gifts and bid you go in peace.”

~*~

The walk back up to the house left Harry feeling like he was barely inhabiting his own body. The ritual had left a charged air around them, and it seemed to be following where he was going. Dobby once again led the way with Severus bringing up the rear. They were silent as they trudged up to the darkened manor.

When they reached the front foyer, each of the elves of the household held small candles, Mimsy handing the three wizards one each as well. They each approached Dobby in turn, as the House Elf proudly held the lantern aloft, allowing each one of them to light their candles from the lantern before moving off into the house so that they might relight the manor’s fires and light fixtures.

“That was amazing,” Harry said, watching the flame dance on the top of the candlestick. “Are all the Wheel of the Year Ritual’s like that?”

“There are common elements, but each of the eight times of the year celebrates a different aspect of life. From here on out, we will progressively celebrate the more positive aspects of life, as we make our way to Summer Solstice.” Severus explained. “Unfortunately, it has been a long day, however. I bid you gentlemen good night.”

Harry felt quite exhausted himself, barely smothering a yawn as Draco smiled at him in good humor.

They both made their way to the Master wing of the house.

~*~

Harry sighed as he was sat on the settee in his wing, the newly kindled fire roaring in the hearth. Draco was wrapping himself around Harry again, something for which the Gryffindor was eternally grateful for as he suddenly felt himself desperately needing the comfort.

It felt alien to him, having never had someone touch him, let alone someone holding him as tightly as Draco was doing right now. At the same time, however, there was a certain rightness to it as well, like this was where he was meant to be, that he had finally found that elusive ‘home.’ He was almost afraid to shift or move, should Draco take that as some kind of cue for him to stop, or worse, that it was Draco’s chance to escape.

No, Harry thought abruptly. He knew that Draco wanted to be there to comfort him, and more importantly, he knew that there were people that cared about him, about Harry. Draco was one of them, and he had vowed to Draco that he would believe what the blonde said about things like this. So no, he deserved love and comfort, and he was thankful that Draco was willing to give it right now.

He still didn’t want Draco to leave him right now.

“I’m not going anywhere, Harry,” Draco said into his ear, somehow reading his mind.

So with a short huff, Harry quickly rearranged himself in the blonde’s arms, both of them laying out on the lounge, Harry now stretched out half over the Slytherin. All the while Draco kept his hands around Harry’s back, tightening his hold once again after Harry had settled down again.

“That’s better,” Draco said with a smile.

“How’d you know?”

“Your body tensed up,” Draco replied simply,

“You are way too observant,” Harry groused, rubbing his cheek along Draco’s chest.

Draco just hummed his approval, closing his eyes to bask.

“Thank you,” Harry began, “For tonight. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do it.”

“Thank you for letting me cuddle and comfort you.”

“Who knew you were such a cuddler,” Harry smirked.

This time it was Draco’s turn to grouse, “Tell anyone and I will hex your bollocks off.”

“I had no idea what I’ve been missing all these years,” Harry admitted quietly, “It feels so good to be held.”

“It’s pretty good doing the holding, too,” Draco said, giving the boy in his arms another squeeze, planting a quick kiss on his forehead.

~*~

Harry woke groggily, feeling warmer than he was used to. It took him several moments to peel his eyes open and take stock of his surroundings. It surprised him that he had not noticed the peculiar sensation earlier, but Draco was still wrapped around him on the lounge settee in Harry’s quarters, the both of them now laid out flatter but still cuddled together. There was also a warm cotton blanket that was tucked around them. Harry assumed that was Dobby’s doing, he smiled.

Harry fought to keep the tenseness from his body as his mind and body woke up for the new day, the previous night’s awkwardness making a comeback.

“Hrmmmm,” Harry smiled as Draco groaned softly as the blonde’s arms tightened around him.

Harry couldn’t help but appreciate just how much he enjoyed the sensation of being held by the other boy. It was yet another half an hour before Draco began to show signs of wakefulness, and Harry watched as eventually, the blonde opened his eyes.

“Hey. We fell asleep,” Draco said with a frown, stating the obvious which made Harry roll his eyes.

“What was your first clue,” Harry snorted.

“Well aren’t we in a good mood this morning,” Draco replied, awkwardly stretching against Harry. Harry tried in vain to ignore the entirely too pleasing sensations, ordering his body to remain calm.

“Yeah, I feel pretty good about everything, all things considering.”

“I’m glad,” Draco smiled back, making no move to leave the confines of their blanket.

“How are you doing?” Harry asked, realizing that he had yet to ask this very question in all the times that Draco had been working with him. It made him quite worried that he had never asked that question.

“Pretty amazing, actually. I didn’t realize you were going to sacrifice your glasses. How is your vision without them?”

“Not really all that good,” Harry admitted.

“Severus, I believe will have brewed a Potion for you for such a case. I will admit to wondering how you have survived Quidditch all these years, let alone how you think to survive the coming war.”

“I did think that I might ask him, actually. I’m not sure why I never thought of it earlier. I suppose because I’ve already seen other wizards with glasses. I’m not sure.”

“Magical glasses, normally.”

“What are we doing?”

Draco was quiet for a few moments, leaving Harry’s mind to run rampant and his body to start tensing up. “We’re cuddling.”

Draco’s arms tightened around him, and Harry forced himself to try and calm down again. “Is that all this is?”

“Is it all you want it to be?”

“No, you don’t get to play psychologist this time. I asked you a question,” Harry murmured, almost afraid of the answer.

“I find myself enjoying this much more than I had initially thought I would,” Draco admitted. “I find myself enjoying being around you much more than I ever thought I would.”

“Me too.”

~*~

“Mr. Potter, Mr. Malfoy, it pains me, but I must leave you both here unsupervised.”

They were cozied up on the library settee yet again, researching together with the Manor’s resources.

“Voldemort?” Harry asked, both boys quickly standing up looking concerned.

“Indeed, he has ‘Called’ us. Hopefully, it should be but a short meeting. I will not have time to advise the Headmaster. Stay here. Do not, for ANY reason leave this manor.”

“Be careful,” Draco said before the man strode from the room.

~*~

Severus did not return that night, nor did he return the next day of Christmas.

Harry and Draco exchanged gifts solemnly, reminded unfortunately of what a dangerous and precarious world they currently lived in. Severus’ absence was certainly marked both during meals and by the gifts that remained untouched under the Christmas Tree. Draco too received no gifts from his Parents, something which Harry could see affected the Slytherin more than he may have wanted to.

“I’m sorry,” Harry said, now taking their customary position on Harry’s settee in his rooms.

“There’s no need. It’s not like it’s your fault. I hope you don’t think that anything of this is your fault?”

“No, nothing like that. I’m just sorry that you have to go through this.”

“Well, it’s my parent’s fault. And Voldemort’s fault. It’s on them and the choices that they have made.”

“They’ve made their proverbial bed.” Harry agreed. “We can create our own family, one bound through friendship, and umm, love.”

“Yeah, I think we can do that. It already feels like it with some of the others, Pansy and Neville.”

“Who would have thought that you might consider Gryffindor’s like family,” Harry joked, poking the blonde in the side. “And Neville at that!”

~*~

“Neville!”

“Yes, Grandmother?” Neville said with some trepidation.

“What on earth are you doing? You said you would be going over your school notes? This is not your homework.”

“Uh, no it’s some personal research I’ve been doing.”

“Well your ‘personal research’ can wait until you have a passing grade in Potions,” She said forcefully with a frown. “Seriously Neville, what is so hard about the subject? And I don’t want to hear your excuses about the Potions Master.”

“I don’t think my magic works,” Neville whispered, choking up.

“Neville,” Madame Longbottom said with a sigh, sitting down next to the teenager. “You know that you can do this. You were tested remember, at your insistence. There is nothing wrong with your magic.”

“So there must be something wrong with me, then.” Neville spat, fighting to keep the tears at bay.

“There’s nothing wrong with you, Neville. Maybe you just need to try harder. Would you like me to arrange some tutor’s for you?”

“I’m trying as hard as I can. I’m so careful with the ingredients and the instructions. My magic is doing something to the ingredients.”

“Would you like to see a different specialist perhaps?”

“Would it make a difference?” Neville said sullenly, slouching back in the chair.

“It can’t hurt to try.”

An hour later, Madame Longbottom came back into the study where Neville was working.

“Come, Neville, we are leaving now.”

“Where are we going?”

“The specialist I have spoken with said that he would see you today.”

Neville looked on in surprise, quickly scrambling from his chair. Within a few more minutes, he had his shoes and robes on ready to leave.

“Specialized Magics Office,” Neville’s grandmother said, throwing the Floo powder into the grate. Neville followed straight after, stepping out into an office decorated for the Yule time celebrations.

“Madame Longbottom, Mr. Longbottom, Welcome to our offices. My name is Michael Gambero.” A middle-aged man with an easy smile greeted them, dressed in plum business robes with the letters ‘SMO’ embroidered on the right side chest pocket.

“Thank you for seeing us on such short notice,” Madame Longbottom said with a smile in return.

“I will admit the case did intrigue me, by what you have explained to me so far. Please, come take a seat in my office.”

The specialist led them into a relaxed office and to take a seat on one of the lounges that faced each other. The Doctor strode over to his desk and picked up a file before returning to take a seat opposite them. He opened the empty file and began.

“How are you today Mr. Longbottom.”

“Good, thank you, sir. Please, call me Neville.”

“Thank you, Neville. What can you tell me about yourself?”

Neville drew up short, confused. “Uh, I’m in my sixth year at Hogwarts.”

“And doing poorly in Potions and Transfiguration,” Madame Longbottom interrupted, a frown marring her face.

“Thank you, Madame Longbottom.” Doctor Gambero said, a tight smile and slight glare aimed her way. “What’s your favorite subject, Neville?”

“Herbology,” Neville said with a shy grin. “I’m doing really really well in Herbology. I would like to get a job in that field one day.”

“That’s wonderful,” Doctor Gambero said, almost sounding excited himself, he was so encouraging. “Perhaps you could help me.”

The doctor levitated a plant from the windowsill and over onto the coffee table that sat between the two lounges. It was a decidedly sad plant, with its pot filled with water and the edges of its leaves were turning brown.

Neville looked at the plant with concern, a frown on his face as he pulled it closer.

“Where am I going wrong? The nursery I bought it from said that it would be a perfect plant for an office, that I would be hard pressed to kill it. I think he underestimated me,” Doctor Gambero said with a laugh.

“No, I think you underestimated yourself. It’s obvious that you are trying to care for the plant very well.” Neville said with a smile. “Unfortunately, this plant thrives on neglect. The Nursery probably thought that, like any other office, you would abandon the plant and water it once every few weeks.”

“I will admit to being a little over zealous.” The doctor said with a chagrined shrug of the shoulders.

“Would you mind if I?” Neville motioned to the pot, withdrawing his wand from his pocket.

“Not at all! Thank you. Though, try doing it without your wand.”

Neville looked up at the man in confusion. “Without my wand?”

“Yes, of course. Most of the earth magics are done hands on. Have you never tried?”

“No,” Neville replied with a frown, awkwardly putting his wand down on the coffee table beside the pot. “How do I do it then?”

“With your hands, of course. Use them to channel the magic inside you.”

Feeling put on the spot, Neville took a deep breath and first thinking that he needed to draw away the excess water. He dipped his fingers into the pot, thinking to draw the water from the soil and into a cup. Not even thinking about it, he conjured a cup from a piece of parchment from his pocket and drew the water into the new cup.

After that he focused on the plant itself, wondering what it needed. He worked away for a few moments in concentration, smiling as the plant perked up, a stalk growing from the center mass and a beautiful orange flower bloomed.

Neville sat back with a pleased grin, proud of his work and with the plant looking healthy one more. He looked up to his grandmother and the doctor, both of which looked exceedingly surprised. His Grandmother had a hand over her mouth, looking quite pale as she looked between the plant and her grandson.

Doctor Gambero however just looked really excited as he beamed at Neville.

“You have no idea what you just did, did you?”

“Did I do something I wasn’t supposed to?” Neville asked, the proud smile slipping from his face.

“On the contrary, you did some extraordinary! I think I know why you’ve been having trouble in your classes now. One of those, I should think is that wand.”

“What’s wrong with it?” Madame Longbottom demanded, looking affronted. “It’s his Father’s wand.”

“As admirable as it might be, quite simply the wand and his magic do not suit each other. However, a wand may yet not be enough either, but I would suggest speaking with Mr. Ollivander in regards to that.”

The doctor looked down and wrote some notes for the next minute.

“So what’s wrong with him?” Madame Longbottom demanded again, voice tight with worry.

Doctor Gambero looked at her sharply. “Nothing is wrong with the boy, but perhaps his self-esteem.”

Neville shrunk down in his seat, he hated when there was fighting because of him.

“Mr. Longbottom is, however, an Earth Mage. The first I’ve ever seen, and the first in the United Kingdom in several hundred years. His magic, while not under control, will automatically seek to see things grow again, hence his supposed inability in Potions classes. Once he has been trained to control the wild magics that flow naturally through him, he will be fine to return to Potions Classes.”

“An Earth Mage?” Madame Longbottom snorted, “You mean like the pagan druids? I hardly think such nonsense will serve my Grandson right now.”

“Yes, an Earth Mage. And seeing him here today makes me think that there may even be the possibility of a Druid Circle in our near future.”

“Poppycock!” Madame Longbottom sneered, standing abruptly. “This is ridiculous. We will not stay here and listen to these delusions of yours. Come Neville.”

Without even looking, she strode from the room. Neville, however, sighed, both saddened and overwhelmed at the news, not to mention his Grandmother’s reaction.

“Hurry up Neville,” She called from the next room, but still Neville remained seated.

“For Merlin’s sake, Neville. Come!”

“No.”

“Excuse me?” Madame Longbottom thundered, her voice taking on booming quality.

“No, I shan’t be leaving with you right now. I would like to continue my discussion with Doctor Gambero.”

Madame Longbottom glared at Neville for several moments, before she strode away once more. They heard the Floo activate and then they were alone.

“I must say, you held out quite well, under the circumstances.” The doctor said gently.

“I just hope she doesn’t block me from the Floo.” Neville moaned quietly, inwardly panicking about what he had just done.

“Surely, as the family Patriarch, she would not be able to do that to you,” the doctor frowned.

“I’ve not taken up the Patriarchy. She didn’t think I was ready or that I would be able to cope with it considering all the troubles I’ve been having lately.”

“Now THAT is poppycock!”

Neville could only shrug, not knowing what else to say.

“You are old enough now to take the roll, should you want to. The Magic that would settle on you would help you to balance the Earth Magic in you, giving you another well of magic to drawn upon. And I very much suggest you visit with Mr. Ollivander as soon as may be permitted, so that you can get used to the wand or staff before returning to Hogwarts.”

“Staff?” Neville asked in wonder. He remembered reading in legends when he was younger about the greatest of all wizards and witches who had staves and how they wielded them.

“Indeed, Mr. Longbottom. I have a funny feeling that a wand will not be enough to wield the wild magic that is at your disposal. That your Father’s wand has not been burnt out is a testament to the control that you have been trying to exercise.”

“So there really isn’t anything wrong with me?”

“No, in fact, you might be just quite the opposite.

~*~

Pansy stood in the entrance hall of Parkinson Manor waiting for her father to return. She knew that he would not be much longer. He had in fact been due to return half an hour previous. But there had been no clue or message to say that he would, in fact, be any later, so she knew it would be soon.

She worried that Draco had not been able to avoid the meeting to which she knew her Father had attended at Malfoy Manor. The Marking ceremony for Draco was to have been the previous night. Draco’s views on the subject of Voldemort were well known to her, yet she also knew what kind of reparations Voldemort could demand, should Draco not take the Mark. She had not received any responses to the letters she had been sending him all holiday. It was strange that he had not replied.

~*~

“My Lord,” Severus Snape entered the hall where Voldemort was holding court at present. It was yet another abandoned Muggle manor that the Dark Lord had appropriated.

“Severus, my Faithful. How goes your potions making?” Voldemort hissed.

“I am all but complete, My Lord. I only have need for your donation to the potion, so that it might be tied to your magical signature.”

“You please me greatly, my Faithful. You have always done as I have asked, never a question nor a balk.” Voldemort airily caressed the side of Snape’s face with the back his hand. “The same cannot be said for some others.”

Voldemort sneered as he viewed the figure that was adhered to the roof, blood dripping out of many cuts over the man’s body, all being collected by cups on the ground.

Severus kept his head bowed, refusing to look at the near dead body of Macnair. Severus knew it would not be long until the man was dead.

“It was such a simple thing that I asked of you. Instead, your incompetence shone through. Never mind. I shall acquire the information I seek myself, and then the journals will be in my possession. Then we shall deal with our mudblood infestation. Crucio.”

 ~*~

Harry woke with a start, hand flying to his forehead as though he could stem the headache through sheer force. There were no surprises when instead he was unsuccessful. His hand came away wet, and he didn’t need to put the light on to know that it was blood from the cursed scar.

“Master Harry,” Dobby whispered, a gentle snap of his fingers had a small candle lit in his hands. “Would Master Harry like anything?”

Harry took the damp, warm towel with a smile, gratefully washing his hands and forehead, applying a cool spot to the scar itself.

“Thank you, Dobby. This is fantastic.”

“Can Dobby get anything else for his Master Harry?”

“Some tea, actually. If you don’t mind, Dobby.” Harry said with a grateful smile as the House Elf popped away.

“You don’t get much of a fair go in life, do you,” Draco said from behind him, voice groggy.

“Not particularly, no. Sorry, I woke you.”

Draco waved it off, stretching awkwardly. “We really need to stop falling asleep. These lounges are killing my back.”

Harry just smiled to himself, secretly enjoying each and every time they fell asleep together. It was going to have to be something that they dealt with soon, as Harry’s feelings were certainly growing for the blonde Slytherin. He just hoped that Draco was feeling anywhere near the same.

Dobby popped back moments later, a steaming tea set for the two of them laid out next to the sole candle that lit the room.

“What happened?”

“Voldemort,” Harry breathed with trepidation. “I often get dreams from him. He used it against me last year, with what happened with the Ministry of Magic. I’m not sure he can control it, though, as I often get weird moments in his life, usually when there’s a lot of emotion involved. He was pretty angry at Macnair today. He was being tortured. Severus was there, he’s been stuck making a potion for Voldemort.”

“That’s something then. I was beginning to wonder if he was going to come back.” Draco admitted.

“Yeah me too. But it looks like he’s just busy, though it sounded like he was almost finished. Hopefully, he’ll be back today then.”

“Just in time to get back to Hogwarts then,” Draco said with a sigh.

They sipped their tea in silence, both lost in their own thoughts.

“I don’t have the slightest clue how I’m going to defeat him, you know.” Harry began. “Dumbledore seems to think something to do with Love is the super secret power that will defeat him.”

“I’m not going to say anything about that, as I don’t think I could say anything polite about Dumbledore.”

Harry snorted in laughter.

“He’s entirely too manipulative. To have held Severus as a spy for all these years, keeping you at your nasty and inhuman relatives. I’m sorry to say that it all stinks of a premeditated plan.”

“You wouldn’t be the first to think it.”

~*~

TBC.

Posted in Evil Author Day, Harry Potter | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

EAD 2017 – Life’s Tangents

Title: Life’s Tangents

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Harry Potter

Word Count: ~4,900

Primary Pairings/Characters: Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy

Rating: M 

Content/Warnings: Canon level violence, language, dealing with life changing circumstances/injuries

Summary:  Harry is about to start his first year teaching at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It’s his last resort. The rest of his life has gone to shit.

Beta: None. Just a casual spell check. No bitching.

 

Life’s Tangents

Prologue

The feeling of bone weary tiredness seemed to be a constant in Harry Potter’s life now that he had lost everything. Even the walk from Hogwarts Gates to the Castle seemed almost too much, the throb in his thigh making every step painful. The trunk that levitated behind him started to sag lower and lower to the gravel path as Harry gradually made his way to the big oak doors of the school.

Just as Harry reached the stairs, the doors opened to reveal the now ageing Headmistress, Minerva McGonagall. The smile she bestowed on Harry had him internally gritting his teeth. Pity had no use in any situation.

“Welcome back to Hogwarts, Mr Potter,” McGonagall said warmly, holding the door open for him.

“Thanks, Professor, err… Headmistress,” Harry corrected himself, a blush covering his face; turns out the woman could still make him feel like a first year.

“Minerva, please,” she insisted, leading Harry into the castle and slowly to her office behind the Statue of a Griffin. She took his hand in hers as they walked, the pace slow for as much her benefit as his.

“How have you been?” Harry asked as he slowly lowered himself into the seat across from her desk, his trunk landing with a thunk behind him.

“Well, Mr Potter, or as much as old age allows,” she smirked as she poured tea for the both of them, “And you?”

“Much the same, as much as the ‘condition’ allows,” Harry replied, a sardonic smirk flashing quickly.

“I’m glad you’ve come back to Hogwarts, Mr Potter.”

“Harry.”

“Harry,” McGonagall smiled again, the pity once more visible in her eyes.

“So,” Harry started, not wanting to dwell on the past, “You want me for the Defence Against the Dark Arts position. I bet you never thought you would ask me when I was still a student here.”

“Quite the opposite, I assure you, Harry. Albus and I were quite aware of your ‘Defence Association’, and we were quite proud of you for it. You did a marvellous job preparing the students. In fact, we’d not had such high scores that year in Defence for several years prior to that,” she smiled proudly at him, making him blush again.

“Oh, I suppose you would have known about it, then,” Harry looked aside, slightly embarrassed.

McGonagall laughed, “Harry, that is why I know you will do well. You have a marvellous ability to interact with your peers and help them understand not just how the spell is done, but the logic behind it, how it can be useful, where it might be used. Not to mention your experience with the Aurors, which will stand you in good stead.”

“But what about my condition? There will be days where I’ll be incapable of teaching,” Harry asked bluntly, this was a major issue, if they couldn’t organise something now, then there was no hope of Harry staying to teach at Hogwarts.

“Well, we already had some ideas. We currently have a student studying for his Potions Mastery. As a part of his studies, he will be teaching First through Third years for the next two years, he has already agreed to make the Potion for you. For time off, as you know, Madam Pomfrey is well experienced with those of your condition, and I think would hardly let you leave her Infirmary if you weren’t at least feeling ninety percent,” McGonagall explained.

Harry’s interest was piqued with the Potions student, not knowing how Masteries were earned or awarded. Perhaps one day he could get one in Defence.

“As for the days you will be absent, we had thought perhaps you could use an altered Time Turner to take you back a few days and continue teaching once you were feeling better. The days you were still ill, you would remain in the Infirmary, which means there should be no risk of bumping into yourself.”

McGonagall seemed to observe him for a moment, “Perhaps I should stipulate there ‘should’ be no risk. However, being who you are, Mr Potter, trouble does seem to find you.”

Harry blushed again, it’s not like he could help it, “Everything seems to be already sorted out, then.”

“I’ve tried my best, Harry. We want to take care of you, and this affords us the opportunity for our students to learn from the best,” McGonagall said passionately, the hope shining in her eyes clear.

“I think you’ve answered all my questions, except one,” Harry smiled, “When do I move in?”

 

***

 

Chapter 1

It was typical that the Sorting Feast be the day of the Full Moon, leaving Harry to stay in the Shrieking Shack. His acute canine senses meant he could hear the train arrive at the Hogsmeade Station and the constant babble of excited students. It was all over again half an hour later and the night quiet once more.

Getting stiffly to his paws, Harry slowly trotted upstairs to where Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall had fixed up the main bedroom for him.

There were a new bed and linens against the wall, and the room had been repaired and repainted, though the outside of the house still looked ramshackle. Harry knew he wouldn’t be able to stay in this room, though, there were just too many memories. Everywhere he looked there were the remnants of Moony’s stay back in Harry’s Third Year. The Piano was back in the other corner of the room, along with the memories of Remus and Sirius chasing Peter Pettigrew as a rat.

Harry wanted to think of all the ways that night could have gone, had it not been a Full Moon; had Peter not got away; had Snape not been there to save them. There were too many ‘what if’s’ associated with that night. But it was no use thinking about it because none of those scenarios had played out.

This was the way life now was.

Him being a werewolf was now a part of that, too.

Walking further into the new room, Harry grabbed the comforter from the bed gently in his teeth and dragged it downstairs and into the corner by the window. Curling up, Harry slept fitfully, the pain of his injuries from the attack exacerbated again by the transformation

***

When Harry next woke up, he was in bed in the Infirmary. The sun was shining in through the high windows, and he could hear Madame Pomfrey pottering around in her supply room. He blindly attempted to reach for his glasses on the bedside table, but he immediately pulled his arm back to clutch his side.

The involuntary groan had Madame Pomfrey at his bedside in seconds.

“You haven’t been taking care of yourself very well lately, Mr Potter, have you? Or listening to your specialist.” The Mediwitch said, waving her wand over him to take observations.

“Sorry,” Harry croaked, this throat feeling raw.

“Don’t be saying sorry to me! You should be saying it to yourself!” she said disapprovingly, helping him to sit up and put his glasses on. As soon as he was settled, she was plying him with potions until he felt full of them. It was only when he felt his eyelids dropping that he realised the last of the Potions must have been a Dreamless Sleep. Just before he fell asleep entirely, he vaguely heard Pomfrey sigh, “Go to sleep, dear. You need the rest.”

 

***

 

Harry stayed four days in the Infirmary before Madame Pomfrey would even think about letting him out. Considering it was only the day before that he was able to walk any further than the bathroom and back, he didn’t argue too much. The Headmistress visited him twice in the last few days, sitting with him in the afternoon, keeping him occupied with the discussion of lesson plans. He was very grateful for that distraction, as it was in the days immediately following the Full Moon that depression set in again. It was during those days where he was laid up in bed that he had all the time in the world to think about and be reminded of all that he had lost.

On the fourth day, he was allowed parchment and a quill, so he set to work on a rough term plan for all the classes. When he was released from the Infirmary the next day, the Headmistress came down to meet him.

“It’s good to see you up and about, Harry,” she smiled warmly, the pity carefully hidden.

“It’s good to ‘be’ up,” Harry replied, stretching carefully.

While Madame Pomfrey conducted her final checks, McGonagall explained.

“This is the Time Turner you’ll be using,” the Headmistress said, presenting Harry with the little hour glass suspended inside a circle on a long chain. Where Hermione’s had been silver, this one was gold with a strange luminescent light inside instead of sand like the Muggle hourglass.

“Each 360-degree turn of the hour glass represents a twenty-four hour period. For example, you’ll be needing to go back four days, so you will need to turn it in an anti-clockwise manner four times, end to end. But you had best to it in your rooms otherwise you might meet yourself in the Infirmary,” the Headmistress smiled, handing the Time Turner into Harry’s hands.

Harry turned it over in his hands, surprised at how delicate it was. But he could feel the magic in it, like an aura around it.

“So, I guess there’s nothing else then?” Harry asked, looking to Madame Pomfrey to double check.

“Only stick to the plan that I’ve made for you, Mr Potter. If anything feels wrong of if you’re in pain, fire call me, and I’ll come to see you as soon as I can. I don’t want you running into yourself here in the Infirmary.”

“Will do, Madame Pomfrey,” Harry smiled mischievously, making the nurse finally smile at him.

“Oh, off with you,” she shooed him out with half a laugh.

“You don’t mind if I see you off, do you Harry?” The Headmistress asked as she walked with him out the doors.

“No, that’s fine. I’ll probably have some questions by the time we get to my rooms you could answer.” Harry said, walking slowly. His leg seemed to have stiffened up a little after lying in bed for the last four days.

They walked in silence the two floors that separated Harry’s rooms from the Infirmary, the castle quiet in the early morning light.

Once in his room, Harry took a well-needed seat at the desk chair by the door.

“Are you sure you wish to go back now? You could take some time to sleep if you need it. It would only be a slight adjustment with the Time Turner to go back the appropriate time,” McGonagall said, her tone worried.

“No, it will be fine. Besides, the 2nd was a Saturday, so I’ll still have some time to recover,” Harry said resolutely. He felt like he had wasted enough time as it was.

“Very well, then,” McGonagall sighed, “when you’re ready.”

“So, it’s just one turn for each day?” Harry asked, and the Headmistress nodded.

“What about parts of days?”

“Unfortunately, this kind of Time Turner isn’t as refined as the one that Miss Granger used in her Third year. That one was specialised for use over hours. This one is specifically used for days. I suppose that it could be used for hours, but you would need to be very careful when moving it in increments.”

Harry nodded his understanding, he probably wouldn’t use it for partial days, but it was good to know.

“Alright then,” Harry stood, getting up from the chair and stood in the middle of the room. “Here goes.”

“Good luck, Harry.” The Headmistress smiled.

“Knowing me, I’ll need it.”

Harry took up the little hourglass and placed the chain around his neck. Holding it out in front of him and trying to be as precise as possible, he turned the little knob on the side and turned the Time Turner four times. When he had finished the fourth revolution, he pushed the little knob back in and the Hourglass started spinning. Everything seemed to speed up in reverse. He watched as he and McGonagall walked out of the room a lot faster than they had walked in. The sunlight from the window suddenly disappeared before coming back again. He watched as the House Elves came in each morning to tidy and air the room, even though it hadn’t necessarily needed it.

Time seemed to stop very quickly once the Time Turner stopped spinning in his hands, Time itself returning to normal. Looking around, nothing seemed different or out of place. Casting a charm to check the time, Harry found that it was just before breakfast on September 2nd, the exact time it had been when he left the future. This year the school started on a weekend, so Harry was lucky that he still had two days to finish his lesson plans and make an appearance in the Great Hall. Already he could imagine the students’ confusion and subsequent theories on his absence from the Feast.

Deciding he might as well make a start, Harry left his rooms to gradually make his way to the Great Hall.

The few staircases that were between Harry’s rooms and the Hall were generous today as they all changed to allow him the shortest route and stay put until he had gotten off again. He was met by the Fat Friar from Hufflepuff along the way who cheerfully welcomed him back to the School before disappearing through the wall.

Even though it was still early in the morning on the weekend, there was still a fair amount of eager students in the Great Hall with loaded plates before them, happily chatting about their holidays. When Harry walked in, there was a slight lull in conversation as students noticed who had walked in and how he was leaning on his cane. Harry tried not to be too obvious about his dependence on it, but it couldn’t be helped. Especially not after half a week lying in the Hospital Wing.

Talk quickly resumed as Harry made his way up to the Head Table where Madame Pomfrey, Professor Vector and Headmistress McGonagall were already sitting. Taking a seat next to the Headmistress, Harry couldn’t help sighing in relief as he stretched his sore leg out in front of him.

“Good morning, Harry,” Minerva said as she took a sip of her tea.

“Morning, Professor,” Harry replied, flashing a quick smile.

“Are you feeling any better this morning, Harry?” Madame Pomfrey asked from Minerva’s other side.

“Little stiff, mainly tired, though,” he said, reaching for the toast.

“Well, you let me know if anything doesn’t feel right, Mr Potter. I still remember your time here as a student! There’s no need to soldier on through the pain. You come to me!” the matron said firmly, making Harry blush.

“Yes, Mam.”

“Good! Now eat up, you need the energy.”

McGonagall just smirked at him as she watched, casually sipping her tea.

“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding,” a sarcastic drawl interrupted them, the voice Harry immediately recognising.

“Good morning, Mr Malfoy. You remember Mr Potter?” McGonagall said pleasantly, her tone enforcing civility between the two wizards.

“I’m sure the entire wizarding world remembers the Boy Who Lived,” Malfoy said dismissively, taking a seat at the opposite end of the table.

“Good to see you, too, Malfoy,” Harry couldn’t help snarking back.

McGonagall sent a reproving glare at Harry, “Mr Malfoy is the Potions student who will be making your potion, Harry.”

Judging by Harry’s expression, McGonagall thought she should explain.

“Mr Malfoy will be making it, yes, but he will be overseen by our Potions Master. There is nothing to worry about,” she smiled encouragingly.

Harry wanted to believe her, but he couldn’t help the uneasy feeling.

~*~

After breakfast, Harry returned to his rooms and continued to work on his lesson plans. The window was open next to his desk, bringing a warm breeze in. He barely noticed the time pass before the breeze had turned cool and there was an uneaten sandwich at his elbow.

Glancing at the time, Harry packed up the paperwork and got up to take a quick walk to work out the stiff muscles in his back and legs. In hindsight, he really shouldn’t have lost track of time.

He grimaced as he stood, hand white on the head of the cane as he breathed through the pain. He forced himself to move about the room, the stiffness disappearing down to normal levels and he finally caught his breath.

Out in the corridors, he took a slightly longer route to the Great Hall. There were lots of students milling about in the courtyards and walking the corridors. He ended up passing the library which was empty and dark.

Harry made to continue on until a flickering light caught his attention. He took a few steps inside when the light suddenly came a lot closer.

“Can I help you, Potter?” Malfoy suddenly appeared, holding a bag overflowing with books and parchment, a candle held in his other hand being the source of light.

“Just curious to who was in the library, seeing as it seems closed,” Harry said defensively, trying to back out of the way.

“Drawn by bright lights, are you? Is that why you didn’t get out of the way of that werewolf? Moon too bright?” Draco said, a nasty sneer on his face, enjoying Harry’s pain.

“Not quite, Malfoy,” Harry shot back stonily, turning to walk away.

“Not scared of the dark?” Malfoy called to Harry’s retreating back.

“Hardly,” Harry said as he walked out of the library, “Just tired.”

 

Chapter 2

“Good morning class and welcome to Third Year Defence Against the Dark Arts. I’m Professor Potter.”

Harry looked out at his first class as a Professor, third year Gryffindor/Slytherin.

“Who can tell me what you’ve studied so far?”

A sea of hands went up, so Harry chose at random.

“What did you cover first year?” Harry prompted, the young girl blushed.

“We studied *****************************************,”

“Very good, Miss?”

“Alicia Thorntail.”

“Ten points to Gryffindor, Miss Thorntail,” Harry smiled, “What did you cover last year?”

This time Harry pointed at a Slytherin boy.

“Martin Goyle, and we covered ****************************************************.”

“Very good, thank you, Mr Goyle. Ten points to Slytherin,” Harry said, mind faintly reminiscing on the other Goyle he had known.

Taking a seat on the front of his desk, Harry began his first lesson.

By the end of the class, both houses were up thirty points, which had left the students happy, yet confused. It was a well-known fact that Harry was a Gryffindor, and yet there was no favouritism. In fact, he’d been very careful to show none at all.

As much respect Harry now belatedly had for Professor Snape, he didn’t want to be likened to him because of favouritism. Like Dumbledore had said, it is our choices which define us. Slytherins were no more evil than any other house. And if he helped house unity while he was here at Hogwarts, then all the better.

Harry spent the day revising with each class what they had previously studied and what the most important details were about each. He had lunch with the rest of the school in the Great Hall. Midway through the afternoon, though, the ache in his thigh came back with force. He barely made it through the last lesson before fire calling after the last student had left.

“Mr Potter, what can I do for you?” Madame Pomfrey asked as soon as the connection was made.

“I was wondering if I could get something for the pain,” Harry asked meekly.

“Of course you can!” the Mediwitch said, her tone practically a reprimand, “How long has it been hurting?”

“Just after lunch,” Harry admitted.

Madame Pomfrey clucked her tongue at that but knew there was nothing she could do.

“Next time, you will take the two minutes between classes to call me,” She glared at Harry before she disappeared from the flames. Only a few moments had passed before the fire flared again allowing the Mediwitch to step out.

“Scale of one to ten, how bad is the pain?” she asked as she drew a goblet out of thin air with her wand.

“Seven, I guess,” Harry sighed, perching back on the nearest desk.

Madame Pomfrey only clucked her tongue again, her disproval clear again that he hadn’t come to her sooner. He was just so worried about becoming addicted to the pain potions, even though he understood being in pain tensed the muscles and slowed the healing process.

“Drink this, though you should probably go back to your rooms for dinner. This will make you pretty drowsy.” The matron advised kindly, gently urging him to his feet.

“Thank you, Madame Pomfrey,” Harry said genuinely, his gratitude showing now that the potion was taking over his body.

“Poppy,” she said, leading Harry out the classroom, his arm wrapped in hers as they slowly walked down the crowded corridors to his room.

“Thanks, Poppy,” Harry smiled. He couldn’t believe how fast the potion had taken effect as he could already feel his eyes drooping and his feet dragging. Before he knew it, they were back in his quarters and Poppy was pulling the sheets back on the bed.

Harry only had time to take off his robes and shoes before he was tumbling into bed, out like a light.

~*~

“Where’s Potter?” Malfoy asked, trying to hide his snide tone. He was the only Professor missing from the Head Table.

“Unwell, Mr Malfoy,” Madame Pomfrey said shortly, “He will return to his classes in the morning.”

The Headmistress looked up, surprised at not having heard earlier.

“Poppy?”

“He will be fine, Minerva. He finished his classes and retired to his rooms for dinner. That boy really should be resting that leg more,” the Matron reassured the woman quietly. Malfoy had just snorted and resumed his dinner.

“I wish there was something more we could do for him,” Minerva said sadly, laying her utensils aside.

“Me too, but there are no Potions catering to the werewolf market. And Hellebore is such a rare allergy in the general populace that there has never really been a cause for it,” Madame Pomfrey explained.

“Perhaps I could speak with Professor Hemmindale. He might spare some time to research,” McGonagall mused out loud.

“Perhaps there is someone else we could ask, though ask may be the wrong word to use. It would be good to see them get along,” Madame Pomfrey said quietly, taking a glance at the youngest member of staff at the Table.

“It would be good. Especially for the students. Their bickering could be seen as acceptance of that kind of behaviour,” McGonagall reasoned, a mischievous smile forming.

~*~

Harry eventually developed a rhythm at Hogwarts after that first month. He was learning the names of his students, and they were learning quickly the topics he taught them. There were a couple of times he’d had to call Madame Pomfrey, but as long as he took it easy and didn’t strain for anything, then those visits were purely check-ups.

He was starting to feel a little better when he started to feel the pull grow again.

According to his specialist at St. Mungo’s, he would eventually heal, but instead of about 12 weeks to heal without magic, it would take more than 8 months for Harry because the Transformation undid most of the healing that had occurred that month. He had come to dread the coming of the full moon for that simple fact. It felt like he was going back to square one like he had been straight after he had been bitten.

He could feel the day coming up, though, as it pulled at him late at night, the moon rising a little earlier each day. He didn’t have to look at the calendar to know that the full moon was the following night. His senses were already starting to heighten, which is why he heard the fire splutter before Ginny’s head appeared in the fire.

“Hey Harry,” she greeted kindly, a sad smile on her face.

Unfortunately, it was Ginny’s pity more than anyone else’s that annoyed him the most.

“Hey Gin,” Harry replied, setting his quill and marking aside.

“How are you doing?”

“Pretty much the same,” Harry said shortly, the werewolf instincts becoming more prevalent as the full moon drew closer.

“Oh,” Ginny said awkwardly, “Well, at least you’re not getting any worse,” She quipped back, not realising what she’d said until too late.

Harry remained silent.

“Well, um, I actually had a reason I was calling. Um, I’m pregnant,” she blurted out, her cheeks turning redder in the flames.

“Congratulations,” Harry said, trying to be happy for her, “How did Dean take it?”

“Good. He’s very excited,” Ginny said, but Harry could tell there was more to it than that. He just nodded and waited her out.

“We, um… we got a Paternity Potion, just to be sure, and um… It’s yours,” Ginny wouldn’t meet his eyes after that, glancing at him through her fringe.

Harry was struck speechless. He and Ginny had talked about having kids when they were still together. But after he’d been bitten, everything seemed to fall apart. He never thought he would have a chance to be a father now.

“So,” Harry started, but he didn’t know how to continue.

The silence stretched on for another minute before Ginny couldn’t handle anymore.

“I’d better go. Um, it was, ah, good to see you again, Harry,” She said quickly, starting to disappear.

“Wait! Um, what were you going to, um, do?” Harry stuttered, suddenly quite earnest.

“We’re not sure yet. Dean and I are still talking. We’ll keep it, but we haven’t really decided anything beyond that. I’ll speak to Dean about catching up with you,” Ginny sounded hurried, the awkwardness overpowering Harry’s senses even through the flames.

“Alright. Well, take care then, Gin,” Harry replied, wanting Ginny to leave just as much as she obviously wanted to escape.

“You too, Harry.”

Then she was gone.

The sound of broken glass followed in Ginny’s wake, the water that had been inside it soaking into the carpet on the other side of the room.

The werewolf hearing picked up the near silent pop that signalled a house elf arriving to clean up.

Harry never noticed his accelerating breathing or his hand clenched tightly in a fist. All that was running through his mind was the unfairness of it all. This should have been a happy time.

Keyword there being, ‘should’.

Ever since his days spent in the cupboard under the stairs, Harry had dreamed of finally having a family of his own. And he thought he’d had had that with Ginny.

Until the werewolf attack.

There was no way he could sleep tonight

~*~

The next day did nothing to promote werewolf rights or their reputation. Harry spent most of the day snapping at those around him and limping the corridors in a barely concealed rage.

Even the students were keeping a wide berth of him, sitting silently in class and taking copious notes.

McGonagall had tried cornering him at lunch time, but Harry did what all wild animals do when pushed into a corner. Harry was just thankful that she had seen him the previous month before the transformation, and therefore knew that this wasn’t his usual behaviour.

He just hoped he wasn’t fired because of it.

When he could, he avoided people at all costs, but he just knew the world was out to get him right now.

“What’s up your arse, Potter? You’ve been in a foul mood all day. You’r- OI!!”

Harry limped straight past Malfoy, not daring to stop or even glance at the Slytherin.

“So the Great Potter is too busy to even acknowledge the mere mortals around him, then?” Malfoy goaded, choosing to trail after Harry.

Harry just tried to limp away faster, but he knew it was a losing battle.

“Nothing to say to defend yourself, then? It’s always been said that you hated the limelight. Perhaps that’s wrong then. Maybe you do like the attention,” Malfoy bated.

Harry could only try to restrain his anger and ignore the blonde. Before he ripped his head off.

“It’s been a while since you defeated Voldemort, hey Potter. Is that why you went for a round with a werewolf?”

The speed with which Harry turned and was in his face surprised Draco, but it was the hard, glinting canine eyes devoid of the famous green that had him stepping back.

“Leave off it, Malfoy,” Harry growled, the sound rolling from deep in his chest. Harry kept the glare focused on the blonde, waiting for his submission. It took a few minutes, but eventually, Malfoy snorted and walked away.

Taking a deep breath, Harry tried to release the tension and rage building in his shoulders.

He tried not to notice the blood he had drawn on the palms of his hands.

~*~

 

TBC

Posted in Evil Author Day, Harry Potter | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

EAD 2017 – Marine!Stiles (temp name)

Title: Marine!Stiles (temp file name)

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Teen Wolf

Word Count: ~10,000

Primary Pairings/Characters: Stiles Stilinski/Peter Hale/Christopher Argent

Rating: M 

Content/Warnings: Canon level violence, language

Summary: Stiles returns to Beacon Hills, fresh from two tours in the Marines, ready to take up the mantle of Deputy in the Police Department. But what reception is he going to receive back in his hometown?

Beta: None. Just a casual spell check. No bitching.

 

There wasn’t anyone there to meet him at the airport. He hadn’t told anyone he was coming home. The Sheriff knew it was soon, but Stiles had never elaborated beyond that. He picked up his duffle and made his way to hire a car for the week. The two-hour drive out to Beacon Hills served to show some things don’t change. In the town itself, there were a few more difference, new coffee shop here, new twenty-four-hour gym there that he made a mental note to investigate later.

The hotel was at least newly renovated and had free Wi-Fi. The bed was ridiculously soft, and more than once through the night he contemplated camping out on the floor. The next morning found him out on the street at five in the morning for his run. Eight years of habit wasn’t going to break anytime soon.

An hour later he was back with a pamphlet and application form for the 24-hour gym. He dropped the completed form off on the way to his favourite Diner for breakfast. He wasn’t the least bit surprised by who he found there.

“I see that whole special heart healthy diet thing is working well then,” Stiles commented, sitting on the other side of the booth. In front of the Sheriff was a full continental breakfast.

“And I’ve been good all week. You can check with Melissa.” The Sheriff pointedly took another mouthful of real bacon.

“You know I will.” Stiles snorted. “And with Maeve too.”

The sheriff winced.

Stiles smirked in triumph. “Maybe you should join me for a run in the mornings?”

“I spend enough time on the treadmill as it is, thank you.” The Sheriff took another mouthful, chewed, and swallowed. “Are you home now?”

“Yeah, dad. I’m home now.” He leant back in the booth with a smile.

The Sheriff’s face transformed into a grin as he hastily stood up. “Come ‘ere.”

Stiles stood eagerly for the first bone crushing hug he had had from his father in years.

“Welcome back, son.” He sniffed back the tears only just.

“I missed you so much,” Stiles wasn’t faring much better.

“I’m so proud of you,” he tightened the hug one last time before moving to step back. “Have you submitted your application yet?”

“No. I was going to drop it off this morning after breakfast.”

“Stiles, is that you?” The elderly waitress, Maeve asked as she approached the table to take his order.

“Yeah, it’s me!” Stiles grinned.

“Didn’t you grow up in all the right places. You must be fending off all the girls and boys. Where have you been all this time?”

“Marines. Just finished my eight years. Thought it was time I came home and helped dad out.”

“Beacon Hills will be lucky to have you as one of her Deputies. Now, what can I get for you?”

“Your amazing waffles, please.”

“Extra strawberries and a chocolate shake?” Maeve finished from memory. “Coming right up.”

A few moments later the thick shake was delivered, and the two men sat in companionable silence. Stiles was halfway through his breakfast as the Sheriff pushed back his plate.

“Have you checked in with the pack yet?” The Sheriff asked between sips of coffee.

Stiles tried not to tense up at the question. Judging by his father’s expression, he had failed. “Not yet.”

“What about Scott?”

“A few months back.”

“Does he know you’re coming home?”

“Not yet.”

“When do you plan on telling them? Or are you going to wait for it to blow up in your face?”

Stiles sighed heavily and stared out the window, remaining silent.

“You never did tell me what it was that made you leave.” The Sheriff took a sip of his coffee.

“I know.” Stiles pushed away his half-eaten plate.

“I’m still here when you’re ready to tell me. Where are you staying?”

“Hotel out by Main.”

The Sheriff nodded. “You know you can-“

“Yeah. I know dad.”

“Any time Stiles. You’re my son. You’ll always be welcome.” He reached across and grasped Stiles shoulder in support. “Well, I’d better get going. I have a meeting to prepare for a new Deputy.”

“Yeah. I’ll be there soon.” Stiles smiled, but the earlier ease was gone. In its place was the Marine John hadn’t met before. He wasn’t sure how he felt about that.

Stiles was left to contemplate just what he was going to do. Well, he knew what he wanted to do – organise his human life and ignore the supernatural one for as long as possible. The fact that the two were intertwined was hampering that effort. The whole reason he was back in Beacon Hills was to help his dad and the Sheriff’s Station with the supernatural.

He just wasn’t looking forward to dealing with the pack. Things had been so weird Post-Nogitsune and then after the Dread Doctors that he had just bugged out. He wasn’t exactly proud of how he left, but he just hadn’t been able to do it anymore.

Not deal with betrayal, working with enemies turned allies. Not dealing with suddenly being useless. Not being trusted.

At least that second to last one was fixed now.

~*~

“Stiles, is that you?”

Stiles beamed as he was enveloped in the motherly hug from the woman who had run the Sheriff Station front desk for as long as Stiles could remember.

“It’s good to see you, Barb.”

“It’s good to have you back. And these papers are for you, I believe.” She smirked.

“Yeah, I’m joining up.”

“Beacon Hills will be lucky to have you, just so long as that trouble that always follows you doesn’t end up here.” Her serious demand was botched by the mischievous glint in her eye and the smirk that threatened.

“Me? I’m a paragon of innocence,” he mock-gasped.

“Hah! Maybe before you started walking. I know better. I’ve certainly known you long enough.”

Stiles took the offered clipboard and pen, quickly filled in the information, and handed it back with a copy of his discharge papers and his last scores on the firing range.

“All done? Just head on through to the Sheriff’s office then. I’m glad you’re back, love.” This time, it was a genuine smile that felt like a stab to the heart with guilt.

It was the right thing to do, he reminded himself.

Taking a deep breath, he smiled and pushed the guilt down. With a nod, he headed into the bowels of the station. Nothing much had changed here either, but it looked like they at least had newer computers.

The door was already open to the Sheriff’s office, so Stiles strode straight through and closed the door – ready for his interview.

“All done with the paperwork then?” The Sheriff asked with an easy smile.

“Yep. And I’ve got the other paperwork like you asked.”

“Great.” The Sheriff took the stack, leafed through it briefly and put it together with some more paperwork he had on his desk. “Ok, just need you to sign the contract and these forms for the gun and badge.”

Stiles’ eyes widened at the gun and badge that were placed on the desk.

“What happened to the interview? And I thought it took a few weeks for processing.” Stiles asked, confusion evident on his face.

“I’ve had these sitting on my desk waiting for when you got home. I pulled your Psych Eval. from the Core to get things through earlier. You can start today if you like.” The Sheriff sat back with a satisfied grin. It wasn’t often he could pull one over his son, he was going to savour this.

“Wow. So.. shit.”

“I know you did some time with the MP’s in the Core, but you’ll still need to do a probationary period for six months, and there will be some tests to prove competency. It’ll be good to get you back in the swing of a civilian population. Now, I don’t want to any arguments. I know what I’m doing. Your training officer is going to –“

“STILES!”

Stiles was up and going for the service piece that was currently absent from his right hip, ready to defend from the man that had crashed through the door.

“Officer Hale. Good timing.” The sheriff’s tone was flat in annoyance.

The room was silent a moment as Stiles and Derek looked at each other, not knowing what to say.

“Take a seat, Derek. You might as well stay. As I was saying, Stiles. Your training officer will be Derek. He’s trained all my officers exceptionally over the last five years. I was going to have you meet after lunch, I guess we can move that up now. Parrish can cover your morning patrol, Derek.

“Spend the morning getting caught up and get the OHS new employee pack out of the way. I need you two to be able to work together. In the future, I’d like the both of you paired together as our lead supernatural officers with Parish and someone else as your secondary. We’ll look into it. Now scram you two. Stiles get that paperwork to Barb ASAP. Take the badge and gun with you. Uniform is in your locker. Number seventeen. I’ll talk to both of you later about this side project.”

“Sorry to interrupt, Sheriff,” Derek said in the ensuing silence.

“Forget about it, Derek. I think this time was an extenuating circumstance.” The Sheriff gave a wry smile. “Welcome to the team, Stiles.”

“Thanks, Sheriff.” Stiles mock saluted, gathering his paperwork up with this new Police badge and gun, and trooped out after Derek.

The werewolf led him over to an empty desk that faced another full yet tidy desk.

“You’ll… ah. You’ll be working across from me. So, you can leave the paperwork there for now. The top draw is a locked draw for your badge and gun.”

Stiles nodded, immediately stowing the gun and badge there for now before being led to the locker rooms. The key from the desk’s lock draw matched the locker, so he opened it to check out his new uniform.

“Change rooms are through there if you want to go put it on.” Derek leant against the door frame with a weird little frown Stiles hadn’t ever seen.

He shrugged it off and took the uniform to the next room. Derek followed to lean just inside the door. Once Stiles was safely inside the cubicle, Derek started talking.

“So. How long have you been back?”

“Flew in yesterday.”

“Oh. The Sheriff and Scott didn’t mention you were coming back.”

“They didn’t know.”

“Oh.”

The silence was awkward as Stiles finished dressing. A few minutes later he left the cubicle with his bundled civvies under his arm.

“It suits you,” Derek said with a cough.

“Thanks,” Stiles smirked at himself in the mirror, it really did suit him.

“I didn’t know you wanted to be a cop.”

Stiles looked at Derek in time to watch his face do a weird grimace. “It’s always been the intention.” Stiles continued into the locker room again. “Was going to go the college route. Might still do some night classes anyway.”

“So why the marines then?” Derek pushed, but by the look on Stiles’ face, it was one question too far.

“Thought I’d look good in the fatigues.” The harsh, sarcastic grin had Derek looking away.

“So where are you sta-“

“So that paperwork. We should get that done, yeah?” Stiles didn’t give the werewolf a chance to say anything further, leaving the locker room for the bullpen.

~*~

He ploughed through the paperwork in under an hour, all the online courses and OHS completed, so the Sheriff gave them the go ahead to do Stiles’ first patrol.

The afternoon was quiet as Derek drove, travelling the streets of the upper suburbs, catching a speeder being the only highlight of the day.

By the time they were making their way back on the outskirts of the reserve, it was almost nightfall, and they were due to clock out in an hour. Derek suddenly putting the brakes on the thankfully deserted road had Stiles rolling his eyes at the thought of overtime on the first day.

“What is it?”

“Not too sure. Something big enough to roar, though.” Derek frowned, cocking his head to listen better.

In days gone by it would have been a fantastic opportunity for a dog joke.

“I knew I should have brought my utility belt,” Stiles grumbled. “I should have asked, has there been much recently?”

“Yeah.” Derek sighed, moving the car to pull over onto the shoulder. “It’s getting worse.”

“Worse enough for Dad to allocate four officers out of ten to the supernatural squad.” Stiles nodded to himself. “Bad enough. All right. We’re checking it out?”

“Yeah, Parrish doesn’t have a partner yet. And that definitely wasn’t Scott,” Derek undid his seatbelt and stepped out of the patrol car.

Stiles joined him, checking his weapon and the two spare clips in his belt, making a mental note to upgrade the baton to an iron core.

They entered the forest silently, keeping an ear out for any further clues to what it was and where it might be. They had walked for over fifteen minutes before Derek signalled in a particular direction. Stiles nodded his acknowledgement, raising and arming his gun just in case.

Another ten minutes and Derek had led them downwind of a quadrupedal beast that Stiles wasn’t sure would be in his Bestiary. Thanking any deity listening that he’d picked up an iPhone, he flicked it to silent and opened the camera app. He took a few quick photos hoping they might catch something in the gloom, or that some creative computer work might.

Derek wasn’t much help as his expression didn’t change from the focused intent as he watched the beast.

Heaving a silent sigh, Stiles started mentally cataloguing as much as he could. Blinking, he turned on his mage sight and viewed the scene again, trying to make as clear a mental picture as possible. Blinking again he returned his sight to normal, and he was ready to back off and do some research.

They were on the outskirts of the county, and the preserve itself stretched for miles before it hit another township. They should hopefully be safe for now.

Until a branch fell from a tree twenty feet behind them.

‘Just my fucking luck,’ Stiles groused internally.

Nobody moved as the beast stared them down, nostrils flaring as it tried to scent them. It was a tense few minutes before the beast spun on the spot, disappearing in a burst of flames.

The sounds of the forest gradually returned as Stiles and Derek relaxed. By silent agreement, they stepped forward into the clearing.

“Did that thing really just disappear into nothing?”

Derek grunted, squatting down to look at the scorch marks where it had been.

“Nothing.”

“Looks like a busy night, then.”

They made their way back to the car and back to the station, the sun fully set and the dusk waning to full night.

They passed Parrish on the way to the lockers and filled him in quickly. Stiles emailed the photos he had currently and cc’d the Sheriff in as well.

Derek was waiting in the locker room for him, Stiles raised an eyebrow in question at the werewolf’s presence.

“I was wondering where you were staying? I know you just got back into town. Are you at your dad’s?” Derek kept talking the longer Stiles didn’t say anything.

“Why?”

“I just figured if anything happened if I needed to come pick you up or something.”

“And let the pack know?” Stiles turned away to open his locker and retrieve his satchel.

“I wasn’t going to. It’s none of my business. I figured you’d want to talk to Scott yourself, anyway.”

Stiles snorted in derision. “Won’t he smell me on you?”

“I don’t know how he would, I’ve no plans on seeing him this week.” Derek defended.

Stiles hmphed to himself, filing the information away for thinking on later.

“I’m at the motel on Main for now, until I find somewhere.” Stiles finally answered.

“Not with your dad?” Derek frowned.

“No.” Stiles didn’t expand on it. “Here’s my number if you need to find me.”

Another minute later he had a text from Derek to give him his number. He saved it as SourWolf for old time’s sake.

“All right. Well. See you in the morning.” Stiles hitched his satchel over his shoulder and made his way ‘home’.

~*~

*what’s this about trouble on your first shift*

Stiles read the text and rolled his eyes.

*emailed the prelim report to you*

*going to see argent & his bestiary*
*he still @ same place?*

Back in the motel room, he gathered up his supply belt and hunter’s pack he had made while in the core. He strapped it around his leg and stuffed everything else in his satchel. Not having as many pockets were really going to mess with his organisation.

*same house last I heard. want me to come with*

*I’m good*

He drove the rental car to the other side of town, mentally making a note to look at buying a new car. After he hooked up his laptop. After buying a new laptop. Stiles sighed.

Chris Argent still lived in the same apartment he had moved to after Victoria died. Stiles was surprised, considering the memories of Allison that must remain.

Or maybe he was just thinking about his own memories. Nightmares. They weren’t often, but they still popped up every now and then.

“Stiles?” Chris’ shock was evident as he opened the door and invited him in without question. “I didn’t realise you were back in town.”

“Only as of yesterday,” Stiles gave a cursory look to the sparse walls of the hallway, only three pictures were hung, and only one of them was a picture of Chris with Allison.

“And already a member of the Sheriff’s department?” Chris led him into the kitchen and motioned to a chair at the breakfast bar.

“Turns out dad’s pretty organised.” Stiles grinned, accepting the coffee mug he was handed.

“That he is. What can I help you with?”

“Some local suppliers to keep my kit up to date, but more immediately, I was wondering if I could check out your bestiary for something.”

“Interest or threat?” Chris left the room, walking back with his laptop from another room.

“Hopefully not a threat?” Stiles replied, shrugging at the other man’s raised eyebrow. “Derek and I saw something at the end of our patrol tonight. It’s not in the bestiary I have, but that is mostly middle eastern. Derek had no idea either, though I don’t suppose he would know anyway. I don’t see him as much of a lore keeper type.”

“Have you seen Deaton yet?”

“No. I don’t particularly want to either.” Stiles put in all the details he could and hit search. He was disappointed though not necessarily surprised when it didn’t return any results.

“Looks like a trip to Deaton’s may be in store then,” Chris frowned, it wasn’t often that his bestiary failed him.

“I’d prefer not to. It’s not like he would give us anything even if he did know anything.” Stiles managed to keep the growl from his voice through sheer force of will. Chris saw his expression anyway.

“Everything all right between the two of you?”

“Not really. The man’s a dickwad, too caught up in his True Alpha schtick he’s peddling to Scott to see the damage he’s doing to the Territory.”

“Finally, someone who takes my view of things.” The droll voice from the doorway could only belong to one man, and it made him want to roll his eyes.

“Peter. Nice to see you’re still a CreeperWolf.”

“Always, darling. Now, I know I have reason to have beef with our beloved vet, but yours sounds entirely too personal to be just concern for the Territory.” The wolf sashayed into the room, taking a seat next to him at the breakfast bar and helping himself to Stiles’ coffee.

“You knew I had the spark, didn’t you? That night you kidnapped me.” Stiles stared him down, hoping to finally get an answer.

“Of course, but you knew that. Ah. And Deaton should have known that.” Peter sneered, his fangs showing for a moment.

“And he got confirmation when I used the Mountain Ash, made it go further than it was supposed to. And then?”

“He did nothing,” Chris said grimly.

“Oh no, he encouraged Scott, Allison and me to sacrifice ourselves for the Nemeton.” Stiles spat. Both Chris and Peter’s frown’s deepened.

“And after that he still did nothing. He practically invited the Nogitsune in.” Chris growled.

“Bingo. You’ll be happy to hear the Marines have a dedicated supernatural branch that put me in contact with a teacher in the Middle East while I was over there. I’m much more prepared now.”

“Yes, it’s what woke me from my nap. I could smell the presence you have now. How it’s changed. I said you would be amazing.” Peter leered, a light in his eye.

“Keep me out of your scheming. I don’t want to get caught up in your shenanigans. I need to figure out what this is.” He pulled up the photo of the creature to show them.

Both men frowned again as they looked at the photo. Chris took the phone a moment, the tell-tale ding on the computer meant he had emailed to himself. Taking the phone back, he emailed the rest too as Chris fiddled on the computer.

In the meantime, Peter finished Stiles coffee and was now working on Chris’.

Eventually, Chris sat back, the image much cleaner now. “I have no idea what it is. I don’t think I’ve even heard of anything like this.”

“It appears we have homework tonight, Christopher.” Peter studied the picture.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to put you guys out or mess with your plans.” Stiles rubbed the back of his head.

“Nonsense, Stiles. You’re always welcome in Christopher and I’s plans, right Christopher?”

“We’re happy to help, Stiles.” Chris frowned at Peter, but there was also the barest hint of a blush too. Peter grinned unrepentantly.

“Have you eaten yet, Stiles?” Peter stood, casually brushing past both Stiles and Chris as he walked the long way around the breakfast bar into the kitchen.

“No, I was going to grab something after here on my way to see you if I had no luck with Chris.” Stiles shifted in his seat.

“How convenient that I was here then. You’ll stay for dinner.” Peter turned and began getting pots and pans out. “Christopher, would you mind getting my laptop so Stiles may start going through my bestiary?”

A minute later Stiles was ensconced on the lounge as he booted up Peter’s computer, making a concerted effort not to think about the fact that it seemed Chris and Peter were fucking if they weren’t actually in a relationship. He most definitely didn’t want to think about them together in case Peter smelt his body’s reaction to how very okay he was with that thought.

He would never live it down.

Where Chris’ computer had a massive database, most probably maintained over the years by the large Argent Clan, Peter’s was a giant index.

It was disheartening to see how many of the index entries led to books that were destroyed. He could only imagine what the Hale library must have looked like before the fire.

“I’ve recently reacquired that one if you wanted to have a look.”

Stiles jumped in his seat, barely saving the laptop from crashing on the ground.

“In came today, in fact.” Peter returned a minute later with a crate in hand, setting it down on the coffee table. He popped his claws a moment, cracking the lid off the crate before wandering back to the kitchen.

Chris watched him warily as he went before joining Stiles on the lounge.

Digging through the packing foam, inside a zip lock bag, they found the ancient looking tome. Opening the baggie, they could smell the mustiness that came with all aged books.

Stiles carefully opened the book and paged through to the indexed page. And there it was, in an artist’s replication, the strange beast with fire at its feet. Stiles quickly read through the details, eager for all information. In the end, he could only sit back in suspicion.

“It’s a summoned creature, not normally found on the earth plane. But is not a particularly dangerous one, just like any other wild animal.”

“Dinner’s ready.” Peter already had the table set and was just plating it all when Stiles fixed him with a glare.

“Did you summon it?” Stiles growled.

“Although I would have many reasons to summon such a creature for a variety of end results, no I did not. But I did see it in the Preserve over a week ago and so moved up my timetable on procuring that particular book.”

“Many reasons, huh. I can get that, actually. You don’t have much of a pack bond with Scott’s pack, do you?” Stiles sat down at the table.

“And neither does Derek,” Peter said shortly, cutting into his steak.

“That would mean Scott having to call on the both of you like a pack to help him deal with it as most of the pack are still scattered.” Chris deduced.

“But it wasn’t me. So, who else would want to get the pack back together?” Peter led on.

“And potentially before I get back into town. I got back a month earlier than I thought I might. Dad wasn’t expecting me for a bit. And Scott wouldn’t know otherwise either.” Stiles put his fork down in disgust.

“Dr Deaton.” Chris took a sip from his glass.

“Is the man insane? Wasn’t he supposed to be Talia’s Emissary? Has he always been like this?” Stiles groused, picking up his cutlery again, the food smelt and tasted amazing. ‘Damn you, Peter,’ Stiles thought.

“Deaton had been a very much hands-off Emissary in Talia’s reign. When our previous Emissary died unexpectedly, he left no apprentice to pick up the reigns. Talia found Deaton some weeks after the fact, and he agreed to move here and take up the role. However, bar myself, Talia and her husband, most were completely unaware we had an Emissary.”

“So did he actually ‘do’ anything for the pack?” Chris was getting deeply disturbed. If his thoughts were correct…

“I’m uncertain. I became aware of him during the talks with Deucalion and the other packs. I tried interrogating Talia then, but she either didn’t want to say or actually didn’t know much.”

“Okay, so what’s his end game? So far he’s got Scott eating from the palm of his hand. He’s purposefully been obtuse or just plain ignored both you and Derek. Even when the both of you were Alphas.”

“Control. Control of the Alpha and of a pack. Control of a territory. Control of the Nemeton.” Chris put his cutlery down.

“Please tell me you actually have information on the Nemeton,” Stiles pleaded, rubbing his face.

“Our family was considered the experts on such things, as rare as they are,” Peter smirked at Stiles relief.

“Thank the gods for that.”

“And they’re safely in storage at the moment, safe from the fire. They’re heirlooms at this point. I will collect some tonight so we can have the pleasure of your company for tomorrow night’s dinner.” Peter grinned when both Chris and Stiles rolled their eyes.

“And if I had plans?” Stiles challenged, kind of annoyed at the presumption, kind of not too, which he was not going to think about.

“Don’t be contrary. I know you don’t. So, we’ll see you at seven.”

Stiles didn’t fight it. The food really was that good. It’s been a long time since he’d had decent food, let alone food like this.

After dinner, he packed up his satchel again. Peter was standing at the breakfast bar, directly in his path to the door. Stiles went to walk around him, but a hand on his bicep stopped him.

“I’m very glad you’ve returned to us safe and sound from the Marines. I can see your time with them has done wonders. Welcome home, Stiles.” Peter said, the most heartfelt he had ever seen the werewolf be. And then he was leaning in to kiss Stiles on the temple before smirking again and sashaying back to the bowels of the apartment.

Chris chuckled as he waited for Stiles at the door, amused at the dumbstruck look on the younger man’s face.

“Was there anything you needed for your kit now?”

“What?” Confusion covered Stiles’ face.

“Your kit. What you use for your spark.” Chris leant back against the door.

“Ah, no. Just don’t want to be left without a supplier. And I didn’t want to rely on Deaton.” Stiles readjusted the strap on his satchel over his shoulder.

“Well, write a list for tomorrow, and I’ll make sure you don’t run out. And what Peter said, you’re welcome here anytime. I’m happy to see you home again too.” Chris smiled. Smiled a smile that had confused Stiles in his teenage years, and seemed to only reinforce those confusing feelings now.

“It’s ah, it’s good to be home.” Stiles smiled in return, hitching the satchel strap again. “Have a good night.”

“You too, Stiles. And remember, any time.”

The man finally moved off the door and let Stiles out into the night.

~*~

“How long have you been waiting?” Stiles asked, sliding into the passenger seat of the patrol car that was parked outside his hotel room.

“Not long,” Derek lied, putting the car in gear and leaving the car park.

“So only about forty-five minutes then?” That was when he had gotten back from the gym, and the werewolf hadn’t been there yet.

Derek just grunted, steering the way towards the station. Stiles just shook his head in amusement.

“Did you find anything out about that creature last night?” Stiles took his phone out to fiddle with as they drove.

“Peter wasn’t home, so I couldn’t ask him. His laptop wasn’t there either.”

“So, you just broke into his house and what? Checked anyway?” Stiles raised a sardonic eyebrow.

“He would do the exact same to you or me.” Derek defended, glancing at Stiles quickly for the first time that day.

“Right. I forgot I’ve been living in the real world for all those years, I forgot what was and wasn’t normal or socially acceptable in Beacon Hills. Never mind you’re a cop.” Stiles snorted, pulling up a Google search.

Derek ignored that statement, “What about you? Did your contacts find anything?”

“My contacts probably should have been your contacts, but whatever. Chris and Peter had a bit of trouble, but Peter found a reference and it looks like we have a match. But it’s going to be a bit more complicated than we thought.”

“It’s dangerous?”

“Surprisingly enough, not really. Not normally at any rate. We should be able to send it back to wherever it came from relatively easy.” Stiles was glad for that, at least. It was something that he should be able to do on the weekend with only a few necessary implements.

“So, what’s the problem then?”

“Who summoned it. I’m not sure if you’ll follow my logic.” Stiles sighed as they pulled into the Station’s car park. “Nor think he’s as dangerous as I think he is.”

“So, it’s someone we know, someone male.” Derek deduced with a frown, putting the car in park and turning the engine off. “What makes you think its Deaton?”

“Wow, no need to worry why you’re a cop,” Stiles said, actually impressed that it had only taken the former alpha a minute or so to work it out.

Inside the Station, they briefly met up with Parrish who was on his way out after a ‘long and quiet night’. At their adjoining desks was another small pile of HR forms that needed to be completed, which wasn’t entirely all that surprising.

After that, he turned to his satchel and the cleaning kit he had brought from his own kit and started to clean his service piece for the day.

He was just holstering it again when the Sheriff arrived.

“Stilinski! My office,” his dad called, the smile on his face meant it was more social than anything else.

“Morning Sheriff,” Stiles stood at attention inside the office.

“Hey, kid. Good night? Everything alright with Argent?” the Sheriff slumped in his seat, taking out his tablet and setting it up on the desk to charge.

“Yeah, fine. Got a lead on what the creature is. Only problem now is we need to find out who summoned it. We’ve got leads on that as well.” Stiles reported.

“Damnit, Stiles. At ease. Permanently. Sit down.” The sheriff grumbled noticing the formal stance he remembered from his own days in the Forces. He reached for his coffee.

Stiles just smirked, sitting down.

“So, you’re going to be getting a visitor this morning.” The sheriff sighed after taking his first sip of coffee. When Stiles said nothing, he continued. “Scott was over last night, asking for a favour. He smelt it on me.”

Stiles’ face was blank but internally he was a mess of emotions. Anger being the most predominant.

“All right.”

“That’s it?”

“Yeah. He can come here if he wants.”

Even though the sheriff couldn’t see it, he knew this had to be hurting his son. “Want me to put you on patrol for the morning?”

“Only if we were rostered to. Don’t change things for me. Don’t want to be accused of nepotism on my second day.” Stiles smirked.

John could see it was forced but had no idea what he could do for his son.

“Alright. I’m here if you need me.”

Back at his desk, Stiles checked his email again. He was just finishing up when a coffee was placed beside him.

Derek said nothing, placing his own coffee down on his desk before turning his computer and starting his own paperwork.

“So, Peter worked out what it might have been last week apparently, and ordered in the book that his index indicated.”

Derek glowered at his coffee.

“And before you ask, no. I don’t think he had anything to do with it. I’ve emailed you the photos I took of the book. Let me know what you think.” Stiles leant back as Derek logged into the email. Ten minutes later Derek sat back from the terminal and fixed him with a look.

“Are you sure it wasn’t Peter? It seems like a very strange coincidence for it not to be him.”

“No, I’m inclined to believe him for now. He said he saw it early last week and in his own search had to reorder the book that arrived yesterday.” Stiles swung shortly from side to side in his chair, as much as his crossed legs on the corner of the desk allowed.

“Well,” Derek said, playing devil’s advocate, “We need to look for who summoned it then. You think it’s Dr Deaton.”

Stiles picked at the seam of the nearly empty cardboard cup. “Well, we worked it out that whoever summoned it had to have done it for a reason. It doesn’t actually pose much more of a threat than any other wild animal would. Either we’re dealing with someone who,” Stiles ticked off on his fingers, “was just seeing if they could summon it; someone who is testing the pack to see what they would do before escalating; or someone who has summoned it to draw the very much separated pack back together again before something or someone enters the Territory again.”

Derek was busy taking notes, eventually dividing the paper into four sections. In the third he still placed Peter’s name.

“You know this would be right up Peter’s alley, right?” Derek looked back at Stiles again.

“To draw the pack together, meaning you and him having to team up with Scott and whoever he can muster, giving whatever small tether of a pack-bond you have a boost, something to keep you both going for a bit longer,” Stiles said with an air of challenge.

“No, just for the shits and giggles,” Derek deadpanned.

“Wow, werewolf has jokes. I haven’t ruled him out, but I do think it’s unlikely. He didn’t protest hard enough.”

“Alright. So, Deaton. Convince me.” Derek challenged back

“When did you think I was coming back?”

“Not for another month or so,” Derek frowned in confusion.

“And you got that from dad, or Scott, right?”

“Well yeah,” Derek reached to throw his coffee cup away.

“So, Deaton would be under the same impression, right? Now, what do you know about Sparks?”

“Nothing. Apparently you’re one?”

“I am. They’re natural magic users. Normally they only appear when they’re needed. Normally they end up Emissaries to local supernatural packs and such. Deaton knew what I was, tested me even. And then left me hanging. After months of asking and demanding for help or information – nada.”

“So you think this is about you?” the sceptical face was back.

“I know it sounds narcissistic, but he epically dropped the ball. Like screw up the territory bad. It’s a lucky thing I left to join the Marines. Got the training and practice I needed to not be a danger or a trouble magnet.”

“So this is about the Emissary thing?”

“In the long term, I think.”

“Stiles!” The loud call came across the bullpen.

Scott made a grand entrance to the room, getting everyone’s attention when he shouted from the doorway. And then the Alpha was across the room and enveloping Stiles in a bearhug. “Dude, you look awesome!”

“Great to see you too, buddy,” Stiles said half-heartedly, awkwardly clapping Scott on the back.

“Dude! You got buff in the army,” Scott released him with a beaming grin.

“Marines.” Stiles corrected.

“How come you didn’t tell me you were back so early? I was gonna organise a party. We’ll just have one this weekend. I’ll get the pack together. It’ll be awesome.” Scott grinned. Grinned like he didn’t have a care in the world, but Stiles knew better. He was barely keeping the pack together. The alpha strength he should have been displaying was dramatically muted.

“That’s great buddy. Cheers. But I should probably get back to work,” Stiles gestured over his shoulder back to his desk.

“I’m sure the Sheriff would let you off for a bit. Come grab a shake with me. There’s so much we need to catch up,” Scott clapped a hand on Stiles’ shoulder to lead him out of the station.

“The Sheriff would mind very much, Mr McCall.” John stood in the doorway to his office, arms crossed over his chest. “He has a job to do. You’ve got two minutes before he needs to get back to it.”

“Of course, Sheriff.” Scott looked marginally chastised. He looked back to Stiles, “Come by tonight, we’ll order pizza and we can catch up then.”

“I can’t. I’ve got plans.”

“What? Already? Break ’em. We haven’t seen each other in years! I’m calling the Best Bro Clause.” Scott pushed.

“I’m sorry, dude. Maybe tomorrow night. But I’ve got something really important tonight. I can’t back out of it.”

“More important than your best friend that you’ve not seen in literal years?” Scott frowned, the kicked puppy look didn’t seem to be working though.

“I’ll be there tomorrow, dude. Promise. Your mum would kill me if she knew, you know that.”

“She still might anyway, for not telling us you were back,” Scott smirked and Stiles grimaced.

“I’ll be there, dude.”

“Time’s up, Mr McCall.” The Sheriff re-entered the bullpen and came to stand right in front of the Alpha.

“Of course, Sheriff, I was just leaving.” Scott barely kept from stuttering.

The Sheriff said nothing, raising his eyebrow when the werewolf continued to stand there.

“Right, um, see you later,” Scott called to the room in general as he turned and made his way out.

“That wasn’t awkward at all,” Derek commented from his desk.

“Yeah,” Stiles mumbled, sitting down at his own desk again.

“Did he always used to railroad you into things like that?” Derek tapped his pen on his notebook steadily.

“No, it was usually me doing the railroading.” Stiles cleared his throat, “Anyway.”

“Yeah, you were failing to explain how Dr Deaton was behind all this.” Derek prompted.

“Yeah, well, I think he was trying to reform the pack and restrengthen ties as much as he could so that when I returned it would be to a happy pack that wouldn’t want or need me, ensuring that the Territory and the Nemeton remained in his control.”

“You’re right. It is narcissistic of you.”

Stiles deflated a bit, disheartened at Derek’s dismissal.

“But we should go check it out anyway,” Derek stood up from hi desk, retrieving his gun from the drawer.

“Oh,” Stiles scrambled to his feet, narrowly avoiding landing on the floor. “Okay, awesome. Yeah, let’s do that.” Stiles eagerly got his own weapon out and bounded after the werewolf as he smirked his way out of the station.

~*~

“You didn’t really think that we would get anything from him, did you?” Stiles slid into the passenger seat.

“Not exactly, but that doesn’t prove or disprove anything.” Derek climbed into the driver’s side and started the patrol car. “Besides, what was with you two anyway?”

Stiles huffed, “Regardless of this creature thing, he doesn’t want me in the territory. Not and potentially become Scott’s emissary. Of that, I’m pretty sure. There was no way he could know what I was and not do anything if he had been a responsible emissary.”

Derek didn’t say anything. It was an uncomfortable thought to have that the vet was possibly that… callous?

“I’m sorry to harp on this, but I’m so sure that is what’s happening. I know it in my gut.” Stiles tapped idly on his leg as they drove back to the Station again.

“It’s not that I don’t believe you,” Derek said with a frown.

“It’s that I don’t have any proof either,” Stiles nodded to himself, looking out the passenger window.

“No, it’s not that.” Derek continued to frown, “It just means I have to examine things that are better left forgotten.”

“You mean the fire and everything that happened after that.” Stiles tried to say it gently, but there really was no way to lessen the blow.

Derek grunted his acknowledgement.

“I won’t bring it up again, but I will say this: couldn’t he have tried to teach us to work together, or to find our own answers, or just be generally unhelpful when it wasn’t a life and death matter?”

~*~

“A pleasure to see you this evening,” Peter held the door open for Stiles to enter. “Christopher, Stiles has arrived.” He called back through the house.

In the kitchen, Chris was at the breakfast bar with his laptop open to what looked like work-related spreadsheets. Peter followed behind him, a casual brush of shoulders as he returned to the kitchen and the meal he was preparing.

“Good day at work, Stiles?” Chris asked as he closed the laptop lid.

“Not bad,” Stiles dropped his bag off by the lounge and took a seat next to Chris. “Deaton knew nothing of course and said he would look into it.”

“You saw him today and didn’t take us with you?” Peter pouted from the stove.

Stiles laughed, “No sorry, I took Derek.”

“And how is my nephew?”

“You could see him yourself, you know. You’ve been reasonably sane for a few years now.” Stiles said pointedly.

“For what counts as reasonably sane,” Chris murmured.

“Derek hasn’t made any indication that that is something he would want,” Peter said with a snooty air.

“And you can’t make that first step?” Stiles argued.

“I’ll not go where I’m not welcome.”

Both Stiles and Chris snorted at that.

“Since when?” Chris stood up and made to set the table.

“It’s been a few years now, don’t you think it’s time you guys made up?” Stiles said softly.

“Have you seen Scott yet?” Peter said pointedly in return, still facing away from him. It was a low blow.

Chris looked at the two men with a frown, “What’s wrong with Scott?”

“Yes Stiles, what’s wrong with Scott?” Peter still hadn’t turned around.

Stiles should’ve known that Peter would retaliate. He sighed, “We’ve not had the best relationship since the Nogitsune and Theo.”

Chris flashed a glare at Peter, understanding.

“He came to the station today, acting like we were still teenagers and nothing was wrong.” Stiles kicked at the chair rungs with a frown.

“I hope you like pasta,” Peter said firmly, carrying a large pot over to the sink.

“Love pasta,” Stiles said with a grin.

~*~

“So what did Deaton have to say?” Chris picked up Stiles’ plate and his own, taking them over to the sink.

“He was useless, just as I thought. He’s going to look into it, apparently.” Stiles sat back, rubbing his stomach. “That was damn good. But he was surprised to see me.”

“Lends credence to our theory,” Peter leant back from the table to stretch.

“And what were Derek’s thoughts?” Chris came back, removing Peter’s plate and the last of their dishes to the kitchen.

“Reluctantly humouring me so far,  though he’s moving to reluctant acceptance pretty quickly.”

“Reluctantly?” Chris sat back down again with a bottle of red wine and three glasses.

“Reluctantly, my nephew is coming to the realisation just how much he and the whole Hale Pack have been fucked over.” Peter sneered reaching for the bottle and opening it.

“Pretty much,” Stiles sighed, accepting the glass that was placed before him. “I can’t imagine it will be a good night for him.”

“It’s about damn time, though,” Peter took a sip of the wine.

“We can’t argue with that,” Chris said, playing with the stem of his wine glass. “He has a terrible habit of burying his head in the sand.”

“To be fair, he has dealt with a ridiculous amount of shit in his relatively short life,” Stiles defended the former Alpha.

“So have you,” Peter murmured, sending them all silent.

“It’s safe to say we’ve all led pretty fucked up lives,” Stiles finally took a sip of the wine. Or a gulp. Either way, it didn’t sit well going down.

“And we’ve all become fucked up in our own ways because of it,” Chris spread out in his chair, sending Stiles mind in a completely different direction.

Peter instantly perked up at the change in pheromones that were now filling the room, grin turning lascivious.

“But that would not have led the three of us here, enjoying a pleasant evening together.”

“That’s true,” Stiles huffed in amusement. “This really wasn’t where I thought I would be ten years ago, let alone fifteen.”

“Yes, your ten-year plan for Miss Martin. Look at you now, charming two older men,” Peter grinned at him, smirking when Stiles all but choked on the sip of wine he had just taken.

Chris just laughed, fetching a napkin for the young man.

“I hate you,” Stiles glared, moping himself up.

“No, you don’t darling,” Peter smirked, slouching back in the seat, smirk growing when Stiles blushed and looked away.

“Stop teasing him,” Chris admonished with a laugh.

“But it’s too much fun. And entirely too easy,” Peter affected a pout.

Stiles could only shake his head. “Derek’s slowly coming around, and Dad is already on board with our theory,” Stiles sat up straight, ignoring both men who were slouching in their seats on either side of him. There was nowhere safe to look.

“So what is our next course fo action?” Chris grinned at Stiles’ response to them. It was entirely too much fun.

“Dealing with the immediate issue of that creature. Preferably without Deaton or Scott’s knowledge. Planning for the long term solution of getting rid of Deaton out of the territory.” Stiles stood up and retrieved his satchel, pulling a notebook and pencil case and bringing them back to the table.

“And what do we plan to do with Scott in the long term?” Peter threw his head back and drained the glass of wine in such a way that he knew would affect Stiles.

Judging by Chris’ grin, it worked.

“That’s something we’re going to have to discuss,” Stiles eventually said, clearing his throat. “He never wanted to be a werewolf. I’m sure he still holds a grudge against you,” Stiles chanced a look at the werewolf and regretted it. “I’m not too sure what he’s done or achieved since becoming the fabled True Alpha.”

“Not a whole lot we’ve seen,” Chris commented.

“And Dad said he hasn’t done much either. It’s half the reason I’m back and partnered with Derek as a supernatural team. He still wants to get someone partnered with Parrish, and maybe one more team after that, so that there is always someone on duty in the know.”

“It’s not a bad idea to have actually.” Peter poured himself another glass, topping Stiles and Chris’ off as well.

“So Scott is useless unless there’s a fight which means there is little to no leadership in the pack. Who of the pack is still here in Beacon Hills anyway?” Stiles started writing notes in his notebook.

“Issac is still in France, he has no intention of returning to the U.S., same for Jackson in London.” Chris started listing off.

“Miss Martin I believe was waiting to see where you would land first, before making her decision,” Peter added.

“Liam, Hayden, Mason and Corey are finishing up University, but the rumours I’ve heard say that they aren’t interested in returning, and have been making inquiries to other packs across the country. Kira is also still finishing University, but I think she should be back this year.” Chris sipped his wine as he watched Stiles scribbled it all down.

“Ethan has been on the fringes here in Beacon Hills, he opened his own mechanic’s shop, but I’ve not seen or heard much from him. I don’t know if Scott does or not.”

Peter shrugged, not knowing either.

Stiles continued his notes. “Malia has a good thing going on in California at the moment, I’m not sure if she’s every going to come back either.” Stiles frowned, sitting up straight again and looking over the notes. “So really, here in the territory, it’s only you Derek and Scott that are werewolves with Ethan hanging on the fringes.”

“Not much of a pack at the moment,” Chris frowned at the list.

“Would Cora come back do you think, ever?” Stiles tapped his pen on the notebook as he thought.

“No, my niece made it clear she had no intentions of setting foot here again. She’s happy down in Mexico anyway.” Peter swirled the wine around in his glass.

“So there really isn’t much of a pack,” Stiles sighed. “What was Deaton planning to have happen then? There are way too many volatile personalities in this quasi-pack that nothing would ever be achieved, no matter the motivation.”

“It’s something Peter and I discussed after you left last night. It’s the only thing we can think of that we cannot account for and works against our leading theory.”

They continued to argue the point for the hour or so before Stiles looked at his watch and softly cursed. “I should really get going.”

He started packing up his scattered notes and notebook and pens, only now noticing there were three bottles on the table that were now empty. He stood up and was a little wobbly, but not too much. Thankfully it seemed to be Peter that had been putting the wine away, though the werewolf had topped off his glass several times throughout the night.

Once his satchel was packed he rifled through his kit bag at his thigh and pulled out a phial of something he had gotten the recipe for back in the Middle East. It had saved his arse several times when he had been a little too inebriated to be fit for active duty. It didn’t clear his system completely but gave it enough of a boost that he should be able to drive home safely.

He was sure he imagined it when Peter looked a little disappointed that he could drive.

“Thank you again for a great night.” Stiles eventually said, bags packed, ready to go.

Neither of the men had moved and seemed to just be watching him.

“You’re more than welcome, Stiles. Though it is a shame you must go.” Peter pouted from his reclining position.

“Well, I still have work in the morning. And I’m sure you guys want to go to bed or something,” Stiles blushed, hitching the strap of his satchel on his shoulder.

“You’re more than welcome to join us,” Peter stood up directly into his space. “We would be more than happy to have you there.”

Stiles coughed, taking a step back. Right into Chris. “Right. I’m sure.”

“Will you be joining us tomorrow night? We still have much to plan in regards to Scott,” Chris added, making Stiles frown in annoyance that they were ganging up on him.

“Sorry, I promised I would catch up with Scott tomorrow.”

“Then we can expect you Thursday night,” Peter said with finality. Once again, the werewolf leant in and kissed him on the temple. “Drive home safely and sleep well.”

He disappeared into another room leaving Chris to show Stiles out.

“You honestly don’t have to go,” Chris said as he followed Stiles to the front door.

“Yeah, I do.” Stiles sighed heavily, biting at his lip.

“You’re welcome here, any time.”

“Yeah, see, I’m hearing those words but I think you mean them differently than what normal people understand.”

Chris laughed, “Yeah, maybe we do.”

“And that’s why I’m going.” Stiles shrugged, frowning.

“We never wanted to make you uncomfortable, Stiles. I’ll tell Peter to tone it down.” Chris smiled bemusedly, but that only confused and irritated Stiles even more.

Stiles reached the door first this time, quickly opening it, and taking a step into the cool night air. Chris joined him outside, the door held open a crack.

“I’m sorry,” Stiles felt like he had made things awkward, but he still didn’t know what was supposed to be going on.

“Don’t be, Stiles. You have nothing to apologise for. We like having you in our space, that’s all. We’re both glad you’ve finally returned that we don’t want to miss any time you might want to spend with us.” The hunter nudged his shoulder as they both looked at the stars.

“But I don’t get why? Why now? I don’t get it.” Stiles growled, some of his irritation showing.

“Why wouldn’t we?”

Chris nudged his shoulder one more time before stepping back inside and closing the door.

~*~

Stiles woke up tired the next morning, not used to such late nights (especially when there was wine involved) when he started his day at five in the morning. He yawned his way through his stretches before heading out on his run. An hour later and he was arriving back at the motel to hydrate and pick up his bag for the gym.

“Oi!” Stiles turned around sharply, not expecting the irate voice this early in the morning. It was lucky he did as he barely missed the fist that would have connected with his head.

“What the fuck?” Stiles dropped his bag and ducked away.

“Your kind. They’re not welcome here. When this territory is mine, you’ll be shot or clawed the moment you set foot here!” The werewolf growled. The claws and sideburns gave it away.

“Your Territory? This is Hale and McCall Pack Territory. And correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re neither a Hale nor a member of the McCall pack. Especially to be staying here at this shit hole.” Stiles took the time talking to take a few steps further back and to take stock of what he had.

“Yeah, my territory. Two omegas and a weak as piss Alpha aren’t much competition. It’ll be mine come nightfall.” The alpha flashed his eyes and took a step closer to Stiles.

Stiles sighed. “I really can’t let you do that. This territory really doesn’t need some power-hungry dickhead like you messing things up.”

“I really don’t care what you think hunter. You’ll be dead soon anyway.”

“Not a hunter, but I’d love to see you try.”

And then it was on. It took all of Stiles training to keep up with the werewolf and keep him from landing any hits. He cursed himself for the timing as while his blood was already pumping from the run, so was exhaustion starting to set in.

It was a wonder none of the other tenants heard the noise as Stiles’ spark flung the alpha into the tree again in an attempt to get his satchel, his supplies, and mount a proper offensive. He saw an opening and took it, sending the alpha flying again as he dove for his bag. But the alpha was back quicker than he’d guessed, claws sliding down his back before he silently screamed his pain when teeth tore into his bicep.

Stiles didn’t think. Instead of the Rowan bat in his bag, he grabbed the handle of his knife and lashed out at the surprised wolf’s throat. The body landed with a thud and Stiles could see he was dead, the wound sluggishly seeping blood. Stiles sighed, not realizing he’d grabbed the enchanted blade with wolfsbane.

And then it hit him, a wave of energy that crackled up his spine, flared in his heart and the center where he had always drawn his spark from. He wouldn’t be able to touch that spark energy again after this.

“Fuck.”

~*~

“I know I said anytime, Stiles, but does it have to be this early in the morning?” Peter whined as he wiped his face tiredly. And then he took a breath. His eyes snapped open, and any trace of sleep disappeared as he took Stiles in.

“Christopher!” Peter called back inside the apartment as he drew Stiles in with a gentle hand at his elbow.

“What happened?” Peter asked quietly as he came back with a warm, damp cloth to clean Stiles up.

Chris entered then, fully clothed, and ready for battle with various weapons strapped to his waist and legs.

“Stiles, are you all right?””

“Not really, no.” Hysterical laughter bubbled up from nowhere as he wondered what he was panicked about more. “I’m going to need help with clean-up and body disposal.”

“Of course, where?”

“The motel I was staying at, outside near the front area. There’s a lot of blood. The body’s in the rental car out front.” Stiles quietly shook for a few moments before he looked back up at the two men.

“What happened?” Peter asked again.

“Alpha, might have been staying at the motel too. Called this territory his. Called me a hunter then attacked. He bit me.” Stiles ended on a whisper.

Chris heaved a heavy sigh before patting Stiles on the shoulder and left the room, phone already to his ear.

“I can feel myself already turning. My spark is gone,” Stiles all but whimpered.

“I said you’d make an amazing spark. But I knew you’d make an exceptional werewolf. I just wished it was something you had chosen, not something forced on you.”

“It’s not just that,” Stiles shivered. “I can feel the energy already. Alpha energy.”

“Well, that might complicate things a little,” Peter murmured mildly, still busy cleaning Stiles’ arms and hands of blood.

“Things are tenuous at best with me back here, I really didn’t need this as well,” he huffed, watching Peter walk away with the dirty cloth to rinse it out.

“But it is done now. So, we must make of it what we can.” The wolf returned with another clean cloth and a dish towel.

Stiles took them this time, wiping his hands and arms again of the last traces. And then he saw his shirt and huffed in defeat. He looked back to Peter to find the other wolf before him again, clean shirt outstretched.

“Thank you,” Stiles managed a weak smile as he pulled the shirt off and bundled it up. “Actually, do you mind if I grab a shower first?”

“Of course, there’s a towel in there already for you, and some pants, if you want to change those too.” The wolf turned away again and entered the kitchen, opening the fridge door, and peering inside. “Omelette okay?”

“Yeah, that would be awesome. Thanks.”

Stiles wandered to the hallway and set about finding the bathroom. He found what looked like a spare room, a study, and the master bedroom before finding the moderately sized bathroom. As Peter had said, the towel and pants were sitting on the edge of the bath.

Instead of stripping off and stepping into the shower, he could only sit on the edge of the bath and try to keep the panic attack at bay.

 

TBC.

Posted in Evil Author Day, Teen Wolf | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Evil Author Day – 2016

My offerings for Evil Author Day this year. This is the first time I’ve contributed to EAD, and in fact, the first time I’ve posted any of my work publicly in around 10 years.

Enjoy!

 

Title: SciFi Writer (temp file name)

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate: SG1

Word Count: ~4600

Primary Pairings/Characters: John Sheppard/Rodney McKay

Rating: PG-13

Content/Warnings: Canon level violence, dealing with life changing injuries

Summary: After a helicopter crash ends John Sheppard’s Air Force career, he decides to take up writing as a way to pass the time between surgeries. His favourite writing cafe just so happens to cater to the local base, Cheyenne Mountain.

Beta: None. Just a casual spell check. No bitching.

 

_____________________________________________________

 

Title: Lost in the Wild

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Teen Wolf

Word Count: ~2900

Primary Pairings/Characters: Derek Hale/Stiles Stilinski

Rating: PG-13, it may change later on.

Content/Warnings:  Canon level violence, thoughts of being stranded

Summary: Derek’s gone missing. Isaac and Stiles seems to be the only ones worried about that.

Beta: None. Causal spell check. No bitching.

 

_____________________________________________________

 

Title: A Third Side

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Harry Potter

Word Count: ~21,000

Primary Pairings/Characters: Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy. Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy, Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood, Pansy Parkinson, Susan Bones, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape,

Rating: NC-17. This section, PG-13

Content/Warnings: Canon level violence; discussion of warfare; Ron Bashing; Weasley bashing in general; Ron is a lazy, no good, bad friend; Pagan elements in magic; Harry has rage issues.

Summary: Magic is dying, and the Pureblood Traditions aren’t helping. Perhaps it’s time to go back to an even older Tradition.

Beta: None. Casual spell check. No Bitching.

Author Note:  ignore the fact that technically speaking, Harry Potter took place in the 90’s. Timelines have been moved around for the Author’s own satisfaction.

Posted in Harry Potter, Stargate: Atlantis, Teen Wolf | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

EAD’16 – A Third Side – Harry Potter

 

Title: A Third Side

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Harry Potter

Word Count: ~21,000

Primary Pairings/Characters: Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy. Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy, Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood, Pansy Parkinson, Susan Bones, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape,

Rating: NC-17. This section, PG-13

Content/Warnings: Canon level violence; discussion of warfare; Ron Bashing; Weasley bashing in general; Ron is a lazy, no good, bad friend; Pagan elements in magic; Harry has rage issues.

Summary: Magic is dying, and the Pureblood Traditions aren’t helping. Perhaps it’s time to go back to an even older Tradition.

Beta: None. Casual spell check. No Bitching.

Author Note:  ignore the fact that technically speaking, Harry Potter took place in the 90’s. Timelines have been moved around for the Author’s own satisfaction.

 

~*~

Harry glared at the four walls that surrounded him in the smallest bedroom of Number 4 Privet Drive. He glared harder as he thought back to all the things that had happened in the last month that led to killing one of the last remaining links to his parents.

 

Sirius had been someone who had seemed to truly care how Harry was and wanted him in his life. It was true that Sirius was damaged from his time in Azkaban, and his time spent on the run as Padfoot, but at least he had had someone who had offered him a home with them.

 

For all that the Weasley’s were a second family, he knew logically that they would happily offer him a home, but it was Dumbledore who would put his foot down and say that it was for Harry’s protection. Harry wondered if Dumbledore knew just what went on inside Number 4 Privet Drive.

 

Luckily this year, Harry had been largely left to himself so far. He had even heard talk that the Dursley’s might travel for the last month before school started up again. Under better circumstances, Harry would normally even be excited by such a turn of events. But not this time. This time he was just fed up with everyone and everything in the magical world. He hated to see what the Daily Prophet would have to say about him this year. Especially now that Lord Voldemort was officially back.

 

Harry knew that the final battle would be soon. In fact, he’d probably guess either during his sixth or seventh year at Hogwarts. At least, that’s the way that it would play out if it was some kind of blockbuster movie. But he also knew that he needed more training than he was currently receiving. Not to mention Occlumency.

 

There were many things that he would change about the year previous, and one of them of course being the Occlumency lessons with Professor Snape. Harry wondered why Professor Dumbledore had insisted on classes with the Potions Master, knowing Harry’s relationship with the man to be tenuous at best. He knew now that he should have been the bigger man, and not fallen for Snape’s taunts. Perhaps he would still have Sirius had that been the case.

 

Harry sighed as his thoughts flew in circles, as they had been for days. He had written Ron and Hermione earlier in the month and was still awaiting replies. He tried not to be jealous of their freedom, but he couldn’t help being so. No matter how mature he felt right now, he was still a teenager, and the confinement chaffed. Made all the worse by the Dursley’s.

 

He wanted someone to talk to he realised, one day in early August. The anger he felt towards many in the Wizarding World he realised was something destructive. And no matter how old or not he grew, he did not want to turn bitter. He never wanted to be so apathetic that he could ignore the grievous neglect and destruction that was so prevalent in the world. If he was to have any hope of saving the Magical World, he had to make sure he still cared enough about it.

 

He sent another letter to Hermione and Ron, as he tried to express himself in these letters, though he was loath to do so, knowing that Ron would probably scoff at things whilst Hermione would don her “Judgement and Lecture” Cap.

 

He felt guilty a few days later when, he remembered another friend that had stood by him for so many years. Though a little unconventional, he knew that Dobby would be there for him.

 

“Master Harry calls Dobby, sir?” Dobby said quite eagerly, his face in a happy eager grin.

 

“Hey Dobby, how are you?” Harry asked tiredly. He didn’t realise just how tired he was until he finally started moving about again.

 

“Dobby is well, Master Harry. What can Dobby do for Master Harry?” Dobby shivered in eager excitement.

 

“I was wondering if we could talk.” Harry said awkwardly. Now that Dobby was before him, he wondered if the House Elf would allow him to have such an equal friendship that allowed the two of them to speak openly.

 

“Master Harry wants to just talk to Dobby?” Dobby said, sounding both excited, and nervous.

 

“Yeah. I was wondering if I could get your opinion of some things in the magical world.” Harry started.

 

“Master Harry wants Dobby’s opinion? Oh, Dobby is such a lucky House Elf, to have a Master ask him for his opinion!” Dobby said tearily, but he still sat down on Harry’s bed, prepared to listen to him.

 

And so Harry told him all about what had happened that previous year. About the DA, Professor Umbridge, Professor Snape, and Voldemort. When Harry told him about what had happened at the Ministry, Dobby had cried quietly, the tears running down his face as he listened in silence.

 

“Dobby is sorry that Sirius Black has fallen.” Dobby said softly once Harry had finished.

 

“I miss him, you know. I’m not sure how I can miss him. I barely knew him. But I do.” Harry said softly, tears of his own rolling down his face for the first time all summer.

 

“Perhaps Master Harry also mourns the future possibilities of Mr Black represented,” Dobby said softly in return, watching nervously for Harry’s reaction.

 

“Yeah. I think that’s a good part of the reason too. Were he still alive, he might have been able to get me to Number 12 Grimmauld Place earlier. As it is, I’m not sure what’s going to happen for the rest of the summer.” Harry finally voiced one of his biggest concerns: being left here to his own devices.

 

“Master Harry has his Dobby now. Dobby will look after Master Harry.”

 

~*~

 

Talking to Dobby was surprisingly helpful, Harry found, as the House Elf was surprisingly insightful and observant. He was still saddened by the events of his Fifth year, but now, Harry felt like he no longer held him down. It meant that, with all his free time still available, he began to think of the future.

 

He still wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life, assuming he survived the final battle with Lord Voldemort. He had thought that he wanted to be an Auror, but doing what he did now, for the rest of his working life was coming to be not all that appealing. He knew himself to be good at Quidditch, but again, he hated the fame now, suppose he became a world famous player like Viktor Crum. The unwanted fame would certainly outweigh any enjoyment he had in the game to begin with.

 

And so he began to think of all the possible careers that made up the Magical World. It surprised him went he couldn’t think of all that many, and most of them is wasn’t sure he would even be qualified for once he had finished his schooling at Hogwarts.

 

Dobby was once again a hive of information.

 

“Dobby knows that there some Colleges for greater magics, ones that are for specific kinds of magics. Perhaps Master Harry will find out this year? Or maybe Dobby can get books on what Master Harry wants to know about?” Dobby said, standing up hand out ready to snap his fingers and pop away to another location.

 

“That might actually be a good idea. I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to go to Diagon Alley. Would you mind going and getting some books for me? Or do you know if there is a catalogue or something?” Harry wondered, having never really shopped in the wizarding world apart from the times he had gone with Hagrid or the Weasley’s.

 

“Master Harry’s Dobby can buy him books. Can buy him books on any topic Master Harry wants. Dobby can make a list.” Dobby said eagerly, snapping his fingers and conjuring a quill and some paper.

 

Harry gave him a list and the key to his vault.

 

So he was surprised when Dobby ‘pop’ed back several hours later, for him to be ladden down with bags.

 

“Dobby hopes that Master Harry will not be mad at his Dobby, but Dobby took the liberty to buy some other things for Master Harry.”

 

And so he had.

 

He was the proud new owner of an entire wardrobe of clothing. As well as things that he had seen and wondered about in all his travels through the wizarding world, and what he had seen others use whilst at Hogwarts.

 

He had a new personal trunk for all his clothing to go in. He could see that it had many different compartments in it, some hidden and some not. He now had a wand holster that attached to his arm (no more stuffing it down his pants and accidentally magic-ing his arse, as Mrs Weasley had always warned them); a new book bag that could replace his old, stained and falling apart napsack that he had stolen from Dudley, and then there were the books. So many that Harry seriously began to think that perhaps he should start his own library.

 

“Master Harry is not mad at his Dobby, is he?” Dobby said meekly, looking up at Harry from between the hands that covered his face.

 

“Dobby… I….” Harry stopped, finding himself lost for words. “No. Dobby not at all. This is amazing.”

 

“Master Harry is not upset with his Dobby?” the elf confirmed, sounding more confident.

 

“This is amazing, Dobby.” Harry sat down to look, wondering where to start.

 

“Dobby did not want to see his Master Harry not have what he needed. Master Harry needs to start taking care of himself. Dobby will make sure. Is Dobby’s place to help Master Harry.” Dobby said, setting to work putting all the new things away in the trunk. “Though, Dobby thinks he did not get a big enough trunk for all of Master Harry’s books.”

 

Harry could not help but laugh.

 

~*~

 

For the rest of the Summer Harry read. If he didn’t already have glasses, he was fairly sure he would have needed them by the time he returned back to Hogwarts. He was much more confident in his subjects now, having reread the course material as well as supplemental studies on magic history and the more everyday magic that most Magic born witches and wizards were raised around. He just hoped that it made a difference in his subjects.

 

Because after all the subjects that he had had a chance to read about, it was warding and spell craft which had intrigued him the most. Both topics of which required O’s to even think about getting into Smethwyck College, Europe’s leading college specialising in these fields.

 

Having not heard anything all summer however, he was surprised to have a visitor two days before he was due to depart Number 4 Privet Drive. All his letters had gone unanswered, something which Dobby had had a hard time keeping Harry calm about. So he was surprised when Auror’s Tonks and Shacklebolt knocked on his door.

 

The Dursley’s had long been gone, leaving the house blessedly empty to Harry under the proviso that he not mess the place up, nor do anything freaky around the house. Something they knew he could not do anyway after the previous year’s fiasco of a Trial at the Ministry.

 

“Is everything alright Harry? We’ve not heard from you all Summer! You never answered the letters from the Weasley’s.” Tonks said with a worried frown. Shacklebolt too looked serious.

 

Harry tried not to sound belligerent, he really did. “And it took you until now to finally investigate?”

 

“Dumbledore insisted you were fine. The wards were intact and Mrs Figg had reported that nothing had happened that would say to the contrary.” Shacklebolt said with a wince.

 

Harry just sighed. Of course Dumbledore would have said everything was fine, and everyone in The Order would have taken him at his word.

 

“We sent you a letter too, saying that we would be picking you up today to do your school shopping and dropping you back at Grimmauld Place with the Weasley’s ready for the new school year. You didn’t reply to that one either.” Tonks said, confusion written all over her face.

 

“That’s because I never received any letters. I sent them all right, but I never got one letter the entire summer. I thought all you lot had forgotten about me.” Harry admitted heatedly. He winced that he sounded a bit overemotional, but it had crossed his mind more than once that he had in actual fact been forgotten about.

 

“NO Harry!!! Not at all!! Hermione was very worried that you had not replied to her letters. Do you mean to say you didn’t even get your Hogwarts letter with your book list?” Tonks asked, still sounding worried, but now sounding like a professional Auror about to embark on an investigation.

 

“No, I received that one. But nothing else.” Harry sounded worried now too, as it was becoming evident that someone had been messing with his mail. “Dobby!”

 

“Yes Master Harry?” Dobby said, eyeing the two Auror’s warily.

 

“Do you know anything about my mail? Tonks says that I had letters sent to me but I’ve not received any.” Harry didn’t want to accuse the House Elf, but then, it wouldn’t be the first time Dobby had done such a thing.

 

“No, Master Harry. Dobby has not touched Master Harry’s mail at all.” Dobby said solemnly.

 

“Could something have happened to Hedwig perhaps?” Harry asked, trying to think the problem through. “Has the wards changed at all this year that may have prevented mail form coming or going?”

 

“Not to our knowledge,” Shacklebolt said with a frown. “We aren’t familiar with the exact wards that are placed on the house, but it is a possibility.”

 

Harry sighed, “Well, I suppose that can be something to think about later. Do we need to leave soon?”

 

“We should.” Tonks admitted, casting a quiet tempus. “Dumbledore asked that we bring you back to Grimmauld Place no later than three in the afternoon. There is an order meeting that he wants you there for.”

 

Harry held back the shock that arose in him at hearing he was actually WANTED in an Order meeting. Though, he did not forget himself and for one second think that he would have any say in said meeting.

 

“Alright, I’ll quickly pack up and be back as soon as I can. Help yourselves to a drink form the fridge.”

 

Harry ran back up the stairs to find Dobby already packing for Harry, still mumbling about new trunks.

 

“It’s alright Dobby, perhaps we can get one today whilst we’re shopping,” Harry advised, a hand settled on the Elf’s shoulder to settle him down.

 

“Master Harry, can Dobby talk to Master Harry about something?” Dobby asked, stepping away from the packing to look up at Harry.

 

“Of course, Dobby,” Harry said, sitting down on the bed to give the Elf his full attention.

 

“Dobby has not been truthful with Master Harry. Dobby has kept a secret from Master Harry and Dobby feels bad about it. Dobby thinks Master Harry should know.” Dobby said, looking up at Harry in earnest, his large eyes conveying sorrow.

 

“I won’t be angry Dobby, not unless you’re Voldemort incarnate, and even then, I think I would be more confused than angry.” Harry tried for levity, and succeeded when Dobby tried to suppress a quick hiccup of a laugh.

 

“Dobby has never been a free elf.”

 

“What do you mean, Dobby. When I freed you from Mr Malfoy in second year, what happened?” Harry asked, curiosity piqued.

 

“Master Harry only transferred Dobby’s bond from Bad Master Malfoy to Master Harry himself. Dobby was not sure what Master Harry would think. And then Miss Grangy started her S.P.E.W. Campaign and poor Dobby did not want to disappoint Master Harry.”

 

Harry was surprised by that turn of events. Though the fact that Dobby had been calling him Master should probably have clued him in.

 

“Don’t you want to be free, Dobby? Be your own elf.” Harry asked, honestly confused.

 

“If Master Harry wishes it, then Dobby will go free. But Master Harry, Dobby doesn’t want to be free. Bad things happen to House Elves that have no Master. They looses their magics and die.” Dobby said softly, clearly upset.

 

“Then all the House Elves at Hogwarts, did they….” Harry was almost too afraid to ask. After all the knitted items that Hermione had left around the Gryffindor Common rooms for the elves to find, it could very well be a wonder that Hogwarts would have any House Elves at all.

 

“No, the only person who can release Hogwarts Elves is Professor Dumblydore. Only Master of House can dismiss House Elves.”

 

“So Mister Malfoy actually released you to me then,” Harry mused in wonder.

 

“Not quite. Dobby broke his Family Bond with Bad Master Malfoy. Dobby could have died, but Dobby could not watch Master Harry get hurt.”

 

This time Harry did sit back in shock. “You risked your magic and your life to help me.”

 

“Dobby looks after his Master Harry.” Dobby said proudly.

 

“I never knew. Thank you Dobby. Thank you very much.” Harry had to breathe deeply to hold the tears at bay. Even the idea that someone was willing to come between him and danger was a heady thought, considering the rest of the Magical World was waiting for him to finally play the Sacrificial Lamb Card and get the war over with.

 

“So Dobby will not be freed? Please don’t free Dobby.” Dobby asked, ears quivering in fear.

 

“No, I’d never free you unless you asked me Dobby.” Harry said resolutely. “You’ll tell me, won’t you, when you want to be freed? I want you to be happy. If you can find that with another Master, tell me.”

 

Dobby just nodded, not daring to speak.

 

“Is there anything I need to do to solidify my side of the bond?”

 

“Dobby needs to swear on his magics to serve Master Harry’s family. Mast Harry needs to take out his wand.” Dobby instructed, then placing his finger on the tip of the wand he said, “Dobby swears by his magics to honor and serve Harry Potter’s family in thought, word and deed, for as long as the Potter family exist, so mote it be.”

 

At Dobby’s final word, the wand tip lit up under Dobby’s finger, lighting up the whole room as a wave of gold tinged magic settled around them, absorbing into their skin. Where it had touched the pillow case that Dobby wore, a brand new outfit was transformed, proudly displaying the Potter Crest, a Gryffin rampant with two wands crossed, on the pocket of his new outfit, all of which was made of a luxurious tea towel.

 

What was the most amazing was that Harry could feel it now, the teether to his magic that was his bond. It was a bright gold against his silver magical core, and it was strong and pulsed with life.

 

“Dobby will always serve Master Harry’s family now.” Dobby said proudly. Harry could only smile bemused.

 

“You ARE my family, Dobby.”

 

~*~

 

He was surprised when seconds later Tonks and Shacklebolt crashed into the room, wands drawn looking for danger. Upon sighting Harry and Dobby sitting on the bed, they partially lowered their wands.

 

“Are you okay? What just happened?” Shacklebolt demanded, worry lacing his tone.

 

“I accepted the bond that Dobby offered,” Harry explained, watching as Dobby quickly jumped up and resumed packing everything. Moments later, everything was ready to go.

 

“The Familial House Elf bond?” Tonks questioned, stepping further into the room whilst Shacklebolt stepped back and kept a watch out in the hallway.

 

“Yes Miss Tonks,” Dobby said, snapping his fingers to shrink the trunks for Harry to put in his pockets.

 

“I’ve never known a House Elf to attach himself to just one wizard. I thought it wasn’t enough magic to support them.” Tonks said in wonder.

 

“My Master Harry has more than enough magics to support me. And Master Harry will have a family one day, and Dobby will serve them just as he served his Master.” Dobby said proudly.

 

“Harry is very lucky to have someone as loyal as you,” She said with a smile. “We’d best get going, or we’ll be late.”

 

Which is how Harry found himself in Diagon Alley at lunch time, fighting the crowds towards Gringotts.

 

Harry accompanied Tonks as they merrily made their way safely inside, whilst Shacklebolt loitered outside, watching at a distance as he had been since arriving at the Alley.

 

Dobby quickly produced Harry’s key when they approached the next available goblin teller. When the key was passed over, the goblin inserted it into a device in the desk. The Goblin was about to say something to Harry when a loud buzzing noise started from the device filled the air like an alarm. Immediately the goblin stood up as another goblin took its place, frowning down at Harry who looked on in alarm.

 

“Mr Potter.”

 

Harry waited awkwardly for the goblin to continue. When it didn’t, Harry didn’t know what to say.

 

“Yes?”

 

“A summons was sent on the 31st of July. This was not answered.” The goblin’s frown turned into a glare as it continued to watch Harry.

 

“I’m sorry, sir, but I never received any missives from Gringotts. It has been brought to my attention today that there is other important mail that I have missed as well. I do apologise. I’m available now if the whoever sent the summons is available. Otherwise I would be happy to make another time right now in person.”

“The matter is urgent. We would speak with you now. Come with me.” The goblin said, only slightly less of a glare being directed his way.

 

Tonks followed Harry through the bank, down a few corridors that started to look more and more like the dungeons at Hogwarts than the pristine walls Gringotts was known for. They came to a door which was opened before Harry and Dobby, but was barred to the Auror.

 

“Harry?” Tonks said, voice uneasy.

 

“I’m sorry Tonks, but I think it’s supposed to be a private meeting. I will be quite safe, I think.” Harry reassured, growing more curious.

 

“Mr Potter will not be harmed.” The Goblin said, and slammed the door in her face.

 

Harry stiffled a giggle, turning into the room and waiting for the Goblin’s lead.

 

The office was gloomy and filled with many a gold inlaid item. The armour that stood in the corner of the room was of a goblin size, which seemed to fascinate Harry. There were precious jewels that were inlaid like a crown around the helmet. Taking a moment to think on that, Harry began to look at the Goblin before him in a new light.

 

With a bang, a large book was deposited on the large ornately wooden desk. The goblin began leafing through it until he came to half way and left it open to look at Harry.

 

“Mr Potter, your inheritance was supposed to be transferred on the 31st of July, the minimum age for Familial Magics to be passed the Family Patriarch.”

 

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware of such a thing.” Harry said, honestly not knowing what was happening right now.

 

“The Potter family has spanned several thousand years, that you are unaware of your legacy is worrying. Has no one instructed you on your personal history?”

 

“No, the only family that I am aware of are Muggle, and detest magic. And I’ve not heard mention of anything to do with family magic at Hogwarts.”

 

“Useless school,” he said derisively. “I suppose you have no idea who I am, nor the reason for our meeting.” the Goblin snorted. With a flick of his gnarly hand, several books and a parchment were placed on the desk before Harry. Harry took the seat before the desk after the Goblin motioned he should.

 

“I am Gnarltooth, King of the Western Goblins, and CEO of this Bank. The Potter Family was our first clients, when Gringotts first began in 874BC by Gringott. Gringott swore an oath with Lord Potter that goblins would always serve the Potter family and keep their wealth both safe and plentiful, in return for the Potter Patronage. Each patriarch has upheld this oath throughout the ages. It is now your turn to decide if you wish to honour this oath and continue our mutual agreement.”

 

Harry nodded, glancing at Dobby who was watching the proceedings with wide eyed amazement.

 

“What would my Patronage entail?” Harry asked, ignoring the material before him to listen to Gnarltooth.

 

“You would represent us in any wizarding politics, and within the Ministry should it be required. We may also call on you should any Goblin politics require it.”

 

“You mean war,” Harry said bluntly, but not with any malice.

 

“Should it come to it, yes.” Gnarltooth acknowledge openly.

 

“I agree to the terms.” Harry said.

 

Gnarltooth grinned maliciously, “Very well, then. As to the matter of your inheritance. The Potter vaults shall now be made available to you, as well as any other holdings that have been held in trust.”

 

The goblin pulled a different book from the pile that was before Harry and opened it to the first page.

 

“The Potter Ledgers, interests, and properties.”

 

Harry looked down at the summary, and had to blink several times. Oh but the Dursley would be jealous had they known.

 

Harry swallowed and looked up.

 

Gnarltooth’s vicious grin grew, “As you can see, we have upheld our oath.”

 

The goblin closed the book again and withdrew a dagger from an ornate sheath that had been displayed on the desk.

 

“Blood will seal the oath between us. But first, you must be patriarch of the Potters. For that, we present you with the Patriarch ring.”

 

The ring presented to him was old, Harry could tell, and the magic held therein was ancient. A large ruby was the main feature, surrounded by a Celtic knots made of platinum.

 

“This ring, once put on, will seal the family magics to you, and act as both a symbol of distinction in your new station, as well, as the family seal for any official mail that would require it.”

 

The ring was slid across the desk, still resting in the box it had been stored in. Harry stared a moment, taking stock of what he was about to do. With a deep breath, Harry picked up the ring from the box, a wind picking up in the room as magic was unleashed from the ring’s confines seeking to settle on Harry. Once Harry slid it on to his finger, the magic swept into his chest with such force it pushed him back into the chair. For what seemed hours, magic surged into him seeming to fill his body till he thought he would explode from it. A flash from the ring seemed to signal the end of it, transforming the ring into a simple braided band of platinum.

 

He was glad for it actually, has he wasn’t all too keen on having to wear such a large and dare he say gaudy ring.

 

For the next few moments, Harry tried to catch his breath again, trying to find a comfortable spot where the magic could settle. Finally his body seemed to accept the Familal connection, and everything seemed to settle.

 

Across from him, Gnarltooth watched him intently, the vicious smile back again now that Harry was settled once more. “Magic has gifted you well, Lord Potter. Lord Voldemort would do well to tread carefully by you now.”

 

Gnarltooth withdrew the dagger from its sheath and slit his own palm before presenting the dagger to Harry handle first.

 

Harry decisively slashed his own palm, before he could think about the fact that he was purposefully cutting himself and change his mind. They both held their fists above the book, allowing several drops to fall on to the front cover. The blood was absorbed into the book without a trace, before the goblin held out his hand to Harry. Harry took the extended hand, Muggle worries about sanitation and blood diseases being quashed in the back of his mind as a white light flashed around their hands, sealing the oath between them. When Harry withdrew his hand, there was not even so much as a scar from where the slash had been, nor even a drop of blood.

 

“We thank you for your Patronage, Lord Potter.” Gnarltooth said with an air of formality.

 

“And I thank you for your loyalty.” Harry replied.

 

With a nod, Gnarltooth pushed the books and parchment to the side and looked directly at Harry with an even more serious look than he had the entire meeting.

 

“Most wizards are not aware that Seers exist in other magical species, thinking themselves quite superior. Goblin Seers are a secret held sacred in the Goblin Clans, and are treasured more than all the Gold in the world. One such Seer is my sister, Torbane. She has instructed me to share with you a vision.”

 

Gnarltooth produced a small rolled up piece of parchment held together with a simple piece of twine. Harry took the parchment, and slowly undid the tie, allowing the parchment to unfurl and a gravelly feminine voice to speak.

 

**Insert Prophecy including a pagan spin, destruction and renewel of the old ways and a resurgence of magic Here****

 

Harry sat back in awe, once again at a loss for words.

 

“It seems we have much to look forward to, Lord Potter. It is not an easy task that fate has placed before you.”

 

“You’re telling me,” Harry blew out a breath, half a laugh escaping him, daunted at what the future might hold.

 

“That concludes our business, Lord Potter, unless there is anything you wish to discuss.” Gnarltooth said. Dobby took that as his cue to collect the books and scrolls and store them safely on Harry’s behalf.

 

“There is one question that I would ask,” Harry said, voicing a question that had been niggling at him since the meeting had first begun on the Oath. “What is Gringott’s position on the war with Lord Voldemort?”

 

“We are neutral in this war, unless you should ask for our aid.” Gnarltooth said, a gleam coming to his eye at the very mention of War.

 

“Then I thank you for your time. May your coffers always overflow, and your enemies curse your good fortune.” Harry said, glad that he had had Dobby include books on social etiquette in the Magical World when he had gone shopping. He could see that Gnarltooth seemed to have a grudging sense of pride or satisfaction that Harry had known of the formal language required.

 

“And may you bathe in the blood of your enemies, and your vaults always be full.” Gnarltooth returned, standing and showing Harry to the door.

 

Outside, both Tonks and Shacklebolt were anxiously waiting, relief on their faces as soon as Harry stepped out into the corridor.

 

“Grapleknot will take you to your vaults now, for any withdrawals you wish to make, Lord Potter.”

 

“Thank you for your time today, Gnarltooth.” Harry said with an incline of his head, before the goblin strode away. Moments later, another older looking Goblin was waiting just up the corridor.

 

“Gnarltooth?!” Shacklebolt said in shock and in horror as he Tonks seemed to go pale.

 

“Lord?” Tonks asked after a moment in confusion.

 

“Yes, Lord Potter.” Harry said, emotions finally coming back to the fore after having with held them from the meeting. “Someone has a lot of explaining to do.” Harry said darkly, striding down the corridor towards Grapleknot.

 

 

~*~

 

They barely made it back to Number 12 Grimmauld place at the time stipulated by Dumbledore. They had spent a very brief hour getting as much shopping in as possible for Harry’s school supplies for the coming year, along with the other things that Dobby had said they needed to get, including a new library trunk. Harry couldn’t wait for some time alone to investigate the ladder that he had only managed to glimpse that led down into the bowels of the trunk, before Shacklebolt had hurried them along.

 

Harry stumbled out of the Floo into a small sitting room that he had not been in before, Ron and Hermione sitting on the small settee waiting for him. He had only to wait a second before he was engulfed in a full body hug from Hermione, whilst Ron awkwardly held on to his arm.

 

“Where have you been mate? You never answered our letters!” Ron said, a worried frown on his face.

 

“I’m so glad to see the both of you,” Harry admitted, hugging Hermione to him tightly before releasing her. “There was something wrong this summer with the mail. My letters weren’t getting out and no letters were coming in.”

 

“Oh Harry!!” Hermione sobbed, quickly hugging him tightly again before taking a decisive step back and sniffling back her tears. “Are you alright? How was your summer? Were the Dursley’s any trouble this year?”

 

“Would you believe they’ve been on holidays for the last three weeks,” Harry said with a laugh, Hermione laughing wetly.

 

“Alright!!” Ron said, high fiving Harry.

 

Behind them Tonks and Shacklebolt shuffled out of the Floo and through the room and beyond, where he could hear people talking. Moments later, Mrs Weasley popped her head around the door.

 

“Welcome back, Harry dear! Come on through, the meeting is about to start.”

 

They were all gathered in the Kitchen, Kreacher luckily nowhere to be seen. Harry wasn’t sure he would be able to keep himself from hexing the little bastard should he see him. Mrs Weasley was still bustling about the Kitchen as everyone sat down at the table. Harry, Hermione and Ron filling up a corner spot next to the twins and Charlie. At the other end, Harry could see Dumbledore talking quietly with Professor Snape, Professor McGonagall and Shacklebolt.

 

After a moment, Professor Dumbledore glanced at him with an assessing look, before turning back and continuing their quiet discussion.

 

Harry wasn’t sure he liked the look he had received, and wondered not for the first time that perhaps Professor Dumbledore had been keeping things from him for his own purposes. It wouldn’t have been the first time that it had been the case.

 

Another ten minutes later and the meeting still had yet to start, but Harry now had a large plate of sandwiches in front of him, along with a steaming cup of tea, courtesy of Dobby, as he never did get a chance to have lunch.

 

“Is this always how meetings go,” Harry asked Hermione quietly, the witch rolled her eyes.

 

“One meeting, they never even discussed anything. It was like Dumbledore forgot why we were even here. Everyone was just chatting for over an hour before Dumbledore got up and left, saying he had projects needing his attention at Hogwarts.” Hermione replied, tone resigned. “Are you alright Harry? I can’t imagine you had a very good holiday, not having anyone to talk to about what happened.”

 

Harry sighed. “I had Dobby.”

 

“Really?” Hermione said with a smile. “I’m glad.”

 

“Though, there is something that I need to talk to you about, in regards to S.P.E.W.” Harry said, knowing he couldn’t let Hermione go with her crusade, as he would only alienate the House Elf community.

 

“After the meeting?” Hermione asked, and Harry nodded.

 

It was a further twenty minutes after that before Professor Dumbledore finished his private conversation with Arthur Weasley, and turned to the rest of the assembled witches and wizards, a throat being cleared bringing everyone’s attention to the meeting.

 

“Thank you for coming everyone,” Dumbledore began. “We only have a few things to discuss today. Severus brings us news that Voldemort is only now moving his forces, having spent the summer lying low. The Ministry has yet to take any decisive action against this threat, aside from rostering the Aurors in public places. This means we ourselves must be vigilant.”

 

“The Dark Lord has advised that he plans to expand his forces.” Severus continued, “He is now actively recruiting to his cause, he is releasing information that the Ministry has foolishly kept secret that Magic is being diluted. He is using the Muggleborns and half-bloods to further the propaganda in his plans. It is working.”

 

Professor Snape sat down again, the whole room muttering quite loudly amongst themselves.

 

Harry himself was quiet, thinking about this revelation. He wanted to think that it was ridiculous, but he knew a little bit about genetics from his Muggle Primary School science class. It in actual fact would not surprise him at all, and judging by the look on Professor Snape’s face at hearing the comments from around the room, it might just have some facts behind it.

 

Hermione beside him, he could see, had sat back in her chair and was chewing her lip. He knew that she would be lost to her books soon after the meeting finished.

 

“That’s just bullshit,” Ron said, a snarl on his face. “Like Magic could just disappear like that. I can’t believe anyone could be so stupid.”

 

Harry and Hermione could only look at each other.

 

“Yes, indeed it is a preposterous claim,” Dumbledore said, and Harry watched as Professor Snape’s head snapped around to stare at the Headmaster in disbelief, “But regardless of any claim that he might make, there will always be those who will fall for it out of fear. It is our role to keep the members of our society safe and informed. So I ask that all of you refute this information when presented to you.”

 

Harry watched as Snape seemed to blank his face of all emotion or reaction.

 

“As to our next matter, I have discussed with many of you separately your concerns in regards to the magical creatures that could possibly side with Voldemort should an actual war be waged. In light of this, many of you will receive packages over the next few days with assignments. Charlie, I ask you to look out for the Dragons. Should even one be captured, the damage it could wreak would be devastating. Bill, during your work with Gringotts, could you possibly ascertain the Goblin position on the coming war. Remus, if you could reach out to the werewolf colonies.”

 

Dumbledore continued for another few minutes, listing all sorts of species. Harry wondered just how long it would be, before the Order discovered the Oath he had with the Goblins.

 

“Finally, this year at Hogwarts, we are lucky enough to have secured a new Professor in the Defense Against the Dark Arts position. However, it is not someone who will be attending Order meetings. He is a notable practitioner from the Americas, but has said he wishes to remain out of the war. We must respect his decisions.

 

 

“So remember, be vigilant where ever you go. Look out for anything that does not look right. And should anyone ask you about these foolish rumours, remind them that Grindlewald is seeking to weaken our resolve by any means. Advise them no such report exists, and nothing will damage the future generations of witches and wizards like he suggests. Good afternoon everyone.”

 

Chatter rose up in the room, as everyone stood to go about their business.

 

Harry took advantage of the moment to quickly stride over to the Potions Master.

 

“Sir?” Harry asked, keeping his tone respectful, knowing that Snape wouldn’t be so.

 

“Potter.” The man snarled, barely looking at him as he gathered his things ready to leave.

 

“What Dumbledore said about the rumour on magic. That’s possible isn’t?” Harry said quickly, only just noticing Hermione behind him. Luckily Ron was over with the twins.

 

Snape said nothing for a few moments and Harry knew he was questioning whether he should say something or not.

 

“Genetics says that it is possible,” Hermione urged quietly.

 

“How come the Ministry hasn’t said anything then?” Harry returned.

 

“Because Fudge is an ignoramus happy to bury his head in the sand,” Snape finally admitted tersely.

 

“So Dumbledore is keeping the Ministry’s secrets then, to stop Voldemort,” Hermione asked for clarification.

 

“Before this meeting, I would have said Professor Dumbledore would never have agreed to suppress such important information.” Snape gathered his travel cloak to put on.

 

“He mentioned Grindlewald, too,” Hermione pressed.

 

“A mistake, I’m sure.”

 

~*~

 

Harry looked around the room at the people gathered around the table, Mrs Weasley back to bustling in the kitchen preparing drinks and snacks. His mind jumped, wanting to ask where Sirius was, until he remembered again. Dobby beside him just patted his arm, seeming to know where Harry’s thoughts had turned.

 

“You missed the best Quidditch final this year, mate,” Ron said enthusiastically. “West Ham vs. Anglesey. The match lasted four and a half days! It was amazing!!”

 

“Sounds it!” Harry tried to put enthusiasm into it, but it was hard.

 

“So you had a pretty quiet summer then. What happened to all the letters I wonder. It’s weird that you couldn’t send letters, as well as receive.”

 

“There’s nothing wrong with Hedwig, is there?” Hermione asked.

 

“No, Dobby checked her and found no charms or hexes on her that shouldn’t be there. I wonder if it was some kind of warding on the house, though. Not that I plan to go back.”

 

“What do you mean? I thought you would need to go back next summer to maintain the wards so Voldemort couldn’t find you.” Hermione asked curiously.

 

“I don’t care about the wards. I’m never going back to that house if I can help it. And whilst I was at Gringotts, I received the Potter Family Magics.”

 

“So you’re the Patriarch, are you?” Ron said with a frown. Harry could only sigh.

 

“Yeah, I am.”

 

“Heh. Where’s the signet ring then?” Ron snorted.

 

Harry held out his right hand, showing the platinum band.

 

“That’s it? Hah!! The Weasley family ring is bigger than that,” Ron boasted with a nasty grin.

 

Before their eyes, the ring shimmered and transformed to the, in Harry’s opinion, gaudy ring, though Harry could tell this time seeing it, it didn’t quite look so tarnished any more. Now the Platinum looked as if it had been buffed, and the large ruby gleamed in the light of the room.
The wonders of magic, Harry huffed, both at its reappearance and its reacting to his magic.

 

Harry was the one that wanted to snort now, watching as Ron’s face showcased his changing emotions. In seconds, he went from smug, to startled, to envious. Funnily enough he kept his mouth shut.

 

“What does it mean Harry?” Hermione asked, peering at the ring.

 

“I’m not too sure. I’ve not had a chance to read through the information the Goblins gave me.”

 

He wasn’t sure why, but he wanted to keep the Goblin Oath on the quiet for the time being. He wasn’t sure on Hermione and Ron’s reactions to that piece of news.

 

“Master Harry comes from old and Noble Family. He has Titled lands given to him from King Arthur Pendragon. He will also have a seat in the Wizengamont. If Master Harry was not already the Boy Who Lived, he would still be very important now he is turned sixteen.” Dobby informed them.

 

“So now you’ll be able to rub shoulders with the elite’s, huh.” Ron said darkly.

 

“Hardly!!” Harry did snort that time. “Why would I want to do that? When have you ever seen me enjoy the spotlight Ron?”

 

“You should know that Ron. Remember the TriWizard Tournament.” Hermione scolded gently.

 

“No Hermione! He’s going to leave us by the waysides! Now that he’s ‘RICH’ he won’t want to be seen with the likes of us. We’ll be beneath him.” Ron shouted.

 

Harry struggled to remain calm. Something he had been struggling with all year, all told. But after blowing up Professor Dumbledore’s office, he had been thinking that displaying anger did not achieve anything. It was not to his benefit to chuck a hissy fit, so there was no reason to display it. Ron of course had yet to learn this lesson.

 

“Ron…” Harry blew out a deep breath nosily. “You guys have been my family, practically since I stepped foot in this world. Not having had a family before this, I hope you guys know how much I treasure your friendship, and when I say that I consider you family, you know that it means a lot to me. I wouldn’t leave ‘My Family’ for any reason, and certainly not something so mundane and petty as money and a title.”

 

Ron blew out a frustrated sigh. “You don’t know what it’s like to grow up poor, Harry. I’ve dreamed of being rich my whole life. It would be the answer to all my family’s problems.”

 

“I don’t know what it’s like to grow up poor, Ron. Is that what you just said?” Harry said, this time the anger did roll off him in waves. “So growing up in the Cupboard under the stairs… I could see how that could seem palatial to you. Being regularly abused and neglected… no that must be nowhere near what you’ve suffered. Wearing my whale of a cousin’s old and tattered cast off clothing, when they decided I DESERVED new clothes for the last fourteen years. Being fed once a day, and only then when my Aunt remembered to? No… I have no IDEA what it must have been like to be poor Ron. Please, explain that to me!!” Harry growled, watching as Ron blanched and refused to meet his eye.

 

When nothing was said after a few minutes, Harry had had enough, and left the room.

 

~*~

 

The following two days, Harry ignored Ron. Ron made this easy as he seemed to be avoiding Harry.

 

Harry was fine with that.

 

Hermione, it seemed had yelled at Ron after Harry had left the room, going by what Dobby had said. Hermione had been keeping him in silent company since. They spent their time in the Library, somewhere they were sure Ron would not venture, and worked on their own projects. Just as Harry thought, Hermione was already on the investigation into the Wizarding world’s understanding in genetics. The Black family library wasn’t that particularly helpful in that respect, so Hermione had to bide her time until they could return to Hogwarts.

 

Harry started his reading with the books that he had received from Gnarltooth. It was dry reading, but it basically reiterated in an extraordinary amount of detail what Gnarltooth and Dobby had already explained. Though his responsibilities with the Wizengamont sounded daunting, he recognized it for the vehicle that it was. Through that position, it looked like he just might be able to accomplish some of what the Goblin Prophecy had mentioned.

 

After that, it was back to brushing up on the course work from the previous year.

Harry knew, now that he was a Lord and a Patriarch, things would have to be different. His attitude would have to be different. And that meant that he really had to take his schooling seriously.

 

On the train, Ron sat with the other boys from Gryffindor, leaving Harry and Hermione in another cabin. Shortly after the train took off, they were joined by Neville, Luna and Ginny.

 

“How was your summer?” Neville asked everyone carefully, sitting down opposite Harry and Hermione.

 

“Not too bad Neville,” Harry replied with a small smile. Everyone else chimmed in their agreement. “And you?”

 

“Yeah. Not too bad. Gran was still a bit angry. But I think she was proud of me too. And I finally got my own wand.” Neville beamed in happiness. “It’s taken some getting used to, but now my magic actually works!”

 

“That’s fantastic, Neville.” Hermione beamed at him. They were all very aware just what kind of opinion Neville had of himself because of his ability with his Father’s wand.

 

“I surprisingly had a very good summer,” Luna said, her normal airy voice amused Harry. “The warklesprouts were in full bloom. It means we will have a very fulfilling year, this year.”

 

“I hope so,” Harry said, wanting to find a way to move on. He was beginning to feel impatient to start this year’s classes, and have something to distract himself with.

 

~*~

 

It wasn’t until September the 12th that the first indicator of things to come, came to pass.

 

Hermione received a letter during the evening meal from her parents.

 

“Oh Merlin, no…” she said softly. Eyes quickly scanning the rest of the letter. A few newspaper clippings had fallen out onto the table.

 

“Is everything alright, Hermione,” Neville asked from across the table. Since they had been back at school, Neville had seemed to replace Ron for the time being. Ron still refused to look Harry in the eye, and Harry knew that Hermione was still angry at him.

 

“There’s-,” Hermione started, but her voice broke. “There’s been an attack in the Muggle United States. A terrorist attack.”

 

“What?” Harry asked sharply.

 

“There could be another muggle war, Harry.” Hermione said, tears running down her face.

 

“A Muggle war?” Neville asked, confused.

 

“Yes, a Muggle war, possibly World War III.”

 

“World War III,” Neville asked, sounding a lot more worried now.

 

“There’s been two World War’s so far. Like the name suggests, a good portion of the Muggle countries were involved. The last one was around the time of Grindlwald, so I’m not sure how much of an impact it may or may not have had on the wizarding communities around the world. But this time is much different than the previous wars. This one has the potential for much more widespread damage.”

 

“Like Muggles could actually attack us,” Ron snorted. “We’ve got wards and stuff that will keep them out.”

 

“And what about bombs, then?” Hermione said shortly.

 

“Bombs, you mean like the twins stink bombs?”

 

“No, I mean bombs that can level buildings for a ten-mile radius.”

 

“There’s no need to exaggerate, ‘Mione. Muggles just aren’t capable of that kind of damage.” Ron said, turning away from them with a glare.

 

Hermione turned to Harry.

 

“Don’t look at me, we didn’t get that far into History in my primary school.” Harry said, holding his hands, trying to placate.

 

“Muggles are that damn dangerous,” Hermione seethed. “I should know, seeing as I grew up as one.”

 

She slammed the letter down on the table in a huff.

 

“Do you mind if I have a read?” Harry pointed to the newspaper clippings.

 

“Sure,” Hermione said, sitting back in her seat to glare at Ron some more.

 

The article was just as bad as Harry had imagined. The Twin Towers in America were destroyed. The pentagon attacked. Another flight en route intended for another target. It certainly seemed like the opening volley of a War.

 

“So, do you think it could affect us, this war, because, you know, not that I’m agreeing with Ron, but I’m sorta agreeing with Ron. I didn’t think they were necessarily a danger.”

 

“Muggles have had massive leaps in technology in the last forty odd years,” Hermione said huffily. “The bombs I mentioned? They were around in World War II, during the war with Grindlewald. Now, they’ve made bombs that are more destructive, more precise, and even bombs that carry pathogens that won’t just destroy physical sites, but leave chemicals that will infect people who travel to that site for years to come. If the bomb doesn’t kill you, the disease will. I think it would be naive to think that Muggles wouldn’t use that on us if they were to become aware of us on a grand scale.”

 

~*~

 

The first class the next day was, as it always happened to be, Potions with the Slytherins. Harry and Hermione had spent a good portion of the night before brainstorming between them for the possible dangers that were inherent in any Muggle war. It was scary when the list was a long one.

 

Since then, Hermione had contacted her parents for her history books from when she had been in Primary School. They had come that morning at breakfast. Hermione had had her head in a book ever since.

 

Harry had lain awake late into the night thinking over everything that posed a danger to the Magical World. He was drawn short when he found a hole in his knowledge, just what kind of defences did the Magical World have in place? He resolved to get to the library at lunch time and start some research of this own.

 

He was still making a mental list of all the things he wanted to research when Hermione interrupted his train of thought.

 

“Harry, I really don’t think the magical world is in any way prepared for the kind of damaged the Muggle world could wreck. The Wizarding world has been so out of touch with the advancements made by the Muggles that I’m not even sure existing wards would even be affective with what the Muggles could throw at us.”

 

“You mean the nuclear bombs,” Harry said, sitting back from the desk as the thought took root in his mind.

 

“Yeah.” Hermione said simply. What else was there to say.

 

~*~

 

Draco Malfoy was quite used to getting his own way. He supposed it was a by-product of his upbringing, but there were drawbacks to living a privileged life. The most pressing of those drawbacks was staring him in the face at present, and was directly in conflict with him always getting his way.

 

The letter from his Mother (though theu were his Father’s words) contained all the normal drivel in regards to her and his Father’s health, the expectations for Draco’s academic scores (and hadn’t that been galling when Granger had beaten all of his scores, even potions), and best wishes for Draco’s health.

 

It was the last paragraph of the letter which vexed him.

 

During Yule holidays, we will be expecting a guest at Malfoy Manor. He is most eager to meet with you and take you under his wing. I trust you will make yourself available during this time to meet with our guest.

 

Voldemort.

 

Voldemort and his Marking Ceremony.

 

Draco couldn’t help but shudder at the thought. He had been raised all of his life in the belief that he, as a Malfoy – and the future Patriarch at that- bowed to nothing and no one. That Lucius now expected him to bow before a half-blood maniac was absurd and downright insulting. That Lucius had been doing so for the last few decades was plainly horrifying.

 

Draco knew that he would not take the step that his Father demanded of him. It simply did not fit in with his plans. Draco had many plans for his future, some were contingent on other plans, others were stand alone, but all required that he be the leader he was born to be.

 

That wasn’t to say that he disagreed with Voldemort. Not at all. Lord Voldemort had many a good idea for the future of Wizarding kind. It was his methods and goals that Draco disagreed with. If the ‘man’ wasn’t so bloody barmy, Draco would even be tempted to offer a partnership.

 

He knew it was ridiculous to contemplate Voldemort accepting him as an equal, but a boy could dream.

 

In the end, Draco kept his reply to his Father vague in details, just as the same man had taught him, and said he would make every effort to be available over Yule, and would confirm closer to the date.

 

Draco had no intention what so ever of going home. He would work out the details of that plan later on. He dubbed that plan as Project: Avoid Like Hell Fire.

 

Making his way to breakfast, he was pleased to see the Weasel was still on the outs with the other two-thirds of the Golden Trio. He had no idea why the thoughts gave him such joy, but he happily indulged it.

 

The Golden Trio seemed to be expanding lately anyway. Longbottom had recently taken the Weasel’s place. He had noted the Weaselette trying in vain to but her way into the tight-knit circle. Seeing the chit rebuffed each time gave him another little jolt of joy as well. He was surprised when Looney Lovegood had started spending more time with them as well, but each to their own.

 

This morning he could see that it was a sober affair. Perhaps Granger’s feral cat had died. Draco shrugged. It hardly affected him.

 

Until it did.

 

He was seated in the station in front of Potter and Granger in Potions, and he had overheard their muttered conversation about Muggle bombs that the Wizarding wards may not be able to protect them from.

 

Draco wanted to dismiss the idea, thinking ‘what did Granger and Potter know about warding spells anyway’. But the thought stuck in his mind, so much so that he missed Severus sweeping into the room.

 

“Potter, Granger. Are you ready to begin today’s lesson or would you like another few minutes,” Snape said darkly, making Draco smirk.

 

“No, Sir,” they both replied sullenly.

 

“Detention tonight, see me after class.” Snape glared at them a little bit longer, before turning to the board and the lesson.

 

Draco listened to the Potions Master’s lecture with half an ear, already ascertaining it was a potion he had brewed several times before under Severus’ tutelage in preparation for his apprenticeship. He jotted down the instructions for the homework and slowly cleaned up and collected his things. All the while, the room quickly emptied and Potter and Granger approached the Professor’s desk.

 

“Detention this evening. I expect to see you in this class room at 7pm sharp.”

 

“Yes, sir.” Granger said, whilst Potter nodded.

 

They both sighed heavily as they quickly walked out the room. Severus just raised an eyebrow upon noticing Draco still in the class room.

 

“Mr Malfoy,” the Potions Master acknowledged.

 

“Sir, may I sit on this evenings detention?” Snape was about to launch into a rebuff, “No, not like that sir. I overheard something interesting said between them, something which I think bears investigation.”

 

The Potions Master eyes him critically, “Very well, Mr Malfoy, I will be ten minutes late for the Detention this evening. Use your time wisely.”

 

“Thank you, sir.”

 

~*~

 

Lunch time saw Draco missing the meal to spy on Potter and Granger in the library. It was somewhere he expected the Bookworm to be, but he knew Potter barely tolerated the Library at the best of times. This time saw him striding in first.

 

“Do you know much about warding spells, ‘Mione?” Potter asked, looking around lost at the all the signs and directions on subjects within the library.

 

Granger prodded him in the right direction, “Not as much as I would currently like, unfortunately. But if you want to start researching that, I’ll keep going with Muggle warfare.”

 

“You sure you don’t want to swap? You’re usually the wiz with the magical topics.” Potter suggested.

 

“No, I know you have an interest in wards, besides it would be good practice for you. I’m glad you’re taking a more vested interest in your education.”

 

“Well, no matter what Ron might think or say, I think my being the Patriarch of the Potters means that I really need to create and maintain a standard. It was stupid to think that I could just cruise through Hogwarts anyway. I don’t know why I wasn’t taking it more seriously.”

 

“I think it’s a good idea, Harry.”

 

“Who knows, maybe if I had been more attentive in my studies, I may have prevented what happened at the Ministry. Maybe Sirius might still be alive.” Potter slumped at a nearby desk morosely.

 

“You can’t think that way Harry. This may sound callous, but it’s in the past. You can’t change it, but you can learn from it. And that is what you are doing now. It might be for different reasons, but you learning. Besides, there were more forces at work creating that event than just your aptitude for studying.” Granger reasoned, surprising Draco.

 

“You’re right. I need to move on. Right. Warding spells.”

 

Granger disappeared for a few minutes, returning with a stack of books floating behind her.

 

“These books look to be enough to give you a grounding in the theory, but I think you’ll need to take up Arithmancy and Runes in the long run.”

 

He watched as Potter sighed heavily. “I wish I hadn’t listened to Ron when I chose my subjects. You got any beginner texts of those subjects in that pile?”

 

“It will be okay, Harry. I’ll help tutor you.”
“Cheers Hermione.” Harry sighed again. “What have you got so far?”

 

“It’s like I feared actually. Muggles in general fear what they don’t understand. You can count the Magical World in that category, no matter that some people would think that Magic would end all their problems. As soon as they discovered that Magic kind would not be subverted to their will, they would destroy us. Nuclear weapons it seems has become the weapon of choice. That or chemical warfare, and that thought alone terrifies me. There are nuclear weapons in all the major countries in the planet.” Hermione sighed, “We really need to find out if there are any warding spells that would be able to protect against a nuclear attack, especially the fallout radiation.”

 

“We’re screwed aren’t we?” Potter asked.

 

“If they discover us, yes I think we are.”

 

Draco left the library after that, the Gryffindors giving him ample food for thought. And it seemed Muggles weren’t the useless, bumbling fools that he had been taught they had been.

 

~*~

 

“Where are you guys going?” Ron said, watching as Hermione and Harry collected their cloaks and bags to head out of the Common Room.

 

“We’re going to detention, remember?” Hermione said dryly.

 

“Oh.” Ron blushed in embarrassment.

 

Harry only rolled his eyes at the other boy, turning to step out into the corridor. Hermione followed him out a few moments later, swearing under her breath.

 

“It’ll be okay, Hermione. Hopefully he’ll come around,” Harry said consolingly, though in his own mind, he was starting to think that perhaps it would be no great loss if Ron did not come around.

 

Ron had certainly not been all that loyal or friendly to him, especially after all the chances he had given the red head. But Harry was also reminded that Ron had followed him to the Ministry building, and had been there fighting against the Death Eaters, so perhaps he was being hasty. Either way, Harry was getting sick of not being able to trust the youngest male Weasley.

 

“Hiya Harry,” a younger female voice said, scaring him in his spot.

 

“Hey Ginny,” Harry replied. “How are you?”

 

“I’m good,” She beamed. “Where are you guys going?”

 

“Detention with Snape,” Harry said, shrugging self deprecatingly.”That sucks,” Ginny said, with a smile. “Is Hermione going with you?”

 

“Well, yeah, she got one too.” Harry said with a frown, watching as a sneer seemed to pass her face quickly.

 

“We have to get going, sorry Gin.” Harry said, stepping around her to leave.

 

“Can we catch up soon, Harry? Did you want to study with me this weekend?” Ginny asked, coyly.

 

This of course just terrified Harry.

 

“Uh… I umm,” Harry stuttered until Hermione rescued him.

 

“Sorry Ginny, Harry’s already asked me to go over some notes with him for our charms homework.” Hermione gave her a bright grin before pulling Harry down the hallway.

 

“Thanks Hermione. I don’t know what I’d do without you.” Harry said with relief.

 

“End up in more and more awkward situations I think,” Hermione said with a smirk. “You really need to tell her you aren’t interested.”

 

~*~

 

“Snape isn’t here yet,” Hermione said from in front of Harry as they walked into the Potions Classroom.

 

“That’s really strange,” Harry said, moving through the room and up to a desk at the front to wait.

 

They didn’t have to wait long until Draco Malfoy walked into the room, but by that stage they were already immersed in discussion again.

 

“It’s possible though right. If something happened, something so big occurred, and with technology the way it is, it could be all over the internet within minutes. The DMLE would have no hope of Obliviating everyone that came upon that knowledge. That kind of news would spread like wildfire.” Hermione said.

 

“Yeah, I don’t think there would be any way of coming back from that.” Harry admitted.

 

“So someone needs to make sure that nothing like that can ever happen. I’m not sure the Statute for Secrecy Act is quite enough. From what I’ve read of the Act, it’s much more of a listing of punishments should magic be inadvertently revealed to Muggles, whether that’s intentional or accidental. It doesn’t say enough on what kind of wards are in use to uphold the Act.”
“So I really need to read up on these wards, but I’m just not understanding enough about how they work. I can’t quite get the intricacies in my head with the way the runes are arranged.”

 

“Learning never really was your forte, was it Potter?” Draco said, announcing his presence.

 

“Not really,” Harry admitted. “But I need to start somewhere,” Harry said, sticking his nose back in the book.

 

“So you think Muggles could be dangerous to Magical Kind.” Draco prodded, trying to keep his face looking interested, and not sneering. It was a bad habit of his, he admitted to himself, but a fun one by the way everyone would react to it.

 

“We’re not getting in to an argument with you, Malfoy. Snape will be along any minute.” Hermione said crossly.

 

“No arguments!” Draco held his palms up in surrender. “Just honest curiosity. I overheard you guys during class, it piqued my interest. And being that you both have spent time in the Muggle world, I can assume you would have a greater idea on what Muggles can and cannot do, in relation to myself.” Draco explained.

 

“But why are you even asking us?”

 

“Because I would like to know.”

 

“Alright,” Harry said, quelling Hermione with a look. “What do you want to know about Muggles.”

 

“You mentioned they could be a danger to us. How?”

 

“Well, in the last fifty to a hundred years, Muggles have made astounding leaps in technology and science. That means that they aren’t the pitchfork wielding villagers that most of the Wizarding world seems to think they still are. In the last fifty odd years alone, there have been several wars, and one World War where a good portion of the World’s biggest countries were involved. And I mean real warfare, both aerial and naval. They can have a ship sitting off the coast and target a small area literally a hundred miles away, and decimate the entire area. They can drop bombs from jets that would wipe out the whole of London.”

 

“What kind of aerial attacks do you mean?”

 

“Aerial attacks, so jets, that fly through the sky, much, much faster than the fastest possible broom. They can shoot bullets and missiles as other airborne or land targets. Mainly they can drop bombs on land or water targets, and are much more devastating than any one spell I’ve ever heard of. Nuclear bombs will devastate an area for several square miles, and make that area uninhabitable for a hundred years or more. Chemical bombs have the potential for having a more devastating impact on life forms, than on town’s or cities. These bombs can contain any kind of chemical, which when released could spread disease or just spread a gas that would kill everyone.”

 

Draco listened avidly, the situation much more serious than he had ever thought it could be if what they said was in anyway true.

 

“There are also naval attacks. Muggles have large ships and submarines which travel through the oceans with similar kinds of attacks.

“Also, I’m not sure if you or the Wizarding kind is aware, that Muggles have technology that have put man on the moon. We have travelled through space, and have devices in space that can look out into the universe, as well as back down in on earth and spy on anyone or anything. I really think that it is only a matter of time before something happens and Wizarding Kind will be unable to sustain the Statute of Secrecy Act. Information travels much faster these days because of technology.”

 

“This is most definitely a concern.” Draco said, the alarm going off in his mind he had set early to remind him his time was nearly up. “Thank you for explaining it to me.”

 

~*~

 

They watched as Malfoy beat a hasty retreat, and not a moment too soon as seconds after, Professor Snape swept into the room.

 

‘”So, what could have possibly been so interesting that it took precedence over my class.” the Potion’s Master sneered, manoeuvring to the chair behind his desk, glaring at the students all the while.

 

“We’re sorry, Professor. But we have heard news that there is a possibility of a Muggle War breaking out. We wondered what kind of safety measures-”

 

“A Muggle War?” Professor Snape demanded, standing from his chair again so quickly it bounced off the wall behind him. “What evidence do you have for this supposition?”

 

Hermione produced the Newspaper clippings that her parents had owled her, handing them over with a serious expression.

 

“I don’t think my parents would play such a prank. But why has there been nothing reported in the Daily Prophet or something. Surely this is something that people should be made aware of.” Hermione said, determined.

 

“You will find Miss Granger that there are those in the world, who will subvert this kind of information for fear of what it could mean both for the magical world as a whole, as well as that person personally. That fear often drives people to ignore or even deny such information. Our esteemed Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, is a prime example of such a specimen.”

 

“So what can we do about it?” Harry asked, sounding eager.

 

“I do not know, Mr Potter.”

 

“And what about Dumbledore, what are we going to do about him. We weren’t the only ones to notice his slip. You saw it, too,” Hermione pressed, but it was too far.

 

“Professor Dumbledore’s personal situation is none of your concern, Miss Granger. The both of you will begin cleaning the store rooms.”

 

~*~

 

Draco, not for the first time in his life, wished he owned a pensieve just so that it was easier to review things that had happened during the past, but especially so for today’s conversation with the Gryffindors.

 

Their discussion had opened the proverbial can of worms within Draco’s mind, creating a whole new hurdle in his own future plans. The fact that Muggles were seemingly so much more advanced than anyone else seemed to give them credit for was worrying. And the things Granger had discussed with were quite frankly terrifying. He resolved that they were very right to worry about the possible ramifications should such an event take place.

 

It meant that the plans that he had been working on seemed to be all the more necessary.

 

~*~

 

“Malfoy?” Harry said awkwardly, watching as the Slytherin sat down next to him during lunch the following day in the library. “Can we help you with something?”

 

“No, I believe it is the other way around. You are having trouble understanding warding spells? This is to be expected, you having not taken Runes or Arithmancy. That is where we need to start.” The blonde explained, bringing text books and parchment out.

 

“Um, not that I don’t appreciate your offer to teach me, but Hermione has already offered.”

 

“I’m sure she has. But she needs to be busy researching what Muggle technologies are currently available, and the possible impacts it could have on Wizarding kind. I think it best she focus on that for the time being, whilst I attempt to bring you up to date on your sorely lacking education.”

The last book that Malfoy pulled out seemed to be a young children’s book. Harry was tempted to hit him for it, but in the end decided to trust the smarmy git. It was time that Harry grew up, and if Malfoy was willing to ignore the past for the time being, then he could surely try too.

 

They spent the rest of lunch with Hermione busily scribbling notes from various texts around whilst Malfoy tried to teach him the kinds of things he would have known, had he grown up in the magical world.

 

Harry caught on fast enough, but it was still slow going, considering just how many years he needed to catch up on.

 

When lunch came to an end, Draco gave him some homework read through. He should have known the Blonde would be a hard task master.

 

It took the better part of a month for Harry to grasp the basics of both new topics well enough that he could begin focusing on Warding spells.

 

Harry was surprised the blonde hadn’t forced himself on that topic, and made Harry research something else, as it was plain to see that Malfoy was very knowledgeable on all three topics of wards, Arithmancy and runes. Instead, he had started researching, of all things, Celtic history in the United Kingdom.

 

“What’s going o-WHAT’S HE DOING HERE?” the angry voice of Ron Weasley startled them all.

 

All three of them groaned at the spectacular entrance he was making, immediately drawing the attention of Madame Pince.

 

“We were doing some research, Ron,” Hermione said placating.

 

“But with HIM?? WHY is he here?” Ron demanded in a mean whisper.

 

“He’s helping us actually, which I had thought you would have done, had you not had your head that far up your own arse,” Hermione growled back, even meaner.

 

Hermione started packing up at that, leading Harry and Malfoy to do the same. “After classes?” Harry asked quietly.

 

“Sure. I’ll meet you guys here.” Draco agreed quietly, moving to leave the group that had gathered around them.

 

“NO!! What have you done to them?!” Ron demanded, wand point at Malfoy’s throat.

 

“It seems I’ve been a better friend than you have these last few weeks,” Draco sneered, daring the Weasel to make a move. “You’ve not made any effort, when it is quite apparent that this is something your so called friends have obviously been anxious over something.”

 

“They don’t need help from someone like you!”

 

“No, they don’t need help from someone like YOU, Weasley! You wouldn’t know how to open a book to save yourself.”

 

Ron sneered, “Redu-“

 

Harry suddenly stood in front of the pointed wand, causing Ron to stutter in shock, the rest of the hex not making it past his lips.

 

“What are you doing Harry?” Ron asking, still extremely angry, but very puzzled.

 

“Saving yourself from a year’s worth of detention, if not criminal charges. “ Harry said seriously, a deep frown on his face. “Wizards don’t seem to recognise any kind of sanctity of life, I swear.”

 

“Harry why are you defending him?” Ron asked, anger coming back in full force.

 

“Why are you willing to kill someone so easily at the age of fifteen? You could have taken his head clean off with that spell,” Harry said, internally horrified.

 

“He’s a Death Eater!!” Ron yelled in Harry’s face, but Harry could only look on in pity.

 

“You really think I’m that stupid, Ron?” Harry sighed. “Just… walk away Ron.”

 

Harry turned away from him, looking to Draco. “Sorry.”

 

“Don’t be.” The blonde said, with a shrug. “I’ll talk to you later.”

 

Behind them, Harry could hear Hermione working herself up to a scathing rant, but seemed to abruptly deflate.

 

“Let’s go to class.”

 

~*~

 

Ron spent the rest of the day glaring at Harry and Hermione, and actively attempting to hex Malfoy.

 

The fact that he was unsuccessful brought a lot of unintentional amusement Harry’s way.

 

The fact that it continued on for the following weeks was in the end quite ridiculous. Neville had taken to following Hermione around, just so as to avoid Ron. Ron of course hadn’t taken that little revelation well either.

 

Neville hadn’t been actively researching with them, but had happily been researching his own projects in Herbology, finally finding his niche now that he had his own wand, instead of a family heirloom.

 

Draco had kept his mouth wisely shut, so far, in regards to Neville, and most of their discussions took place when the gardener wasn’t around. And they had been getting more and more heated as Halloween approached.

 

“It’s been documented that Magic is becoming less and less prevalent in this world as the years pass. Something needs to be done that will preserve magic for future generations. In less than a thousand years, there may not be any magical folk left.” Draco said, eyes wide and passionate.

 

“And what do you suggest we do then? What research has been done to preserve magic?”

 

“We don’t need research, magic was doing fine until the seventeenth century and when the Druidic Enclave was replaced with the Wizengamont and Ministry of Magic. As soon as the Enclave was put to an end, magic has begun leaving us!”

 

“And what practices were the Enclaves doing that are no longer being done. I can’t imagine it’s the name of the group that’s had such a fundamental change in magic.”

 

“They observed the Circle of the Year.”

 

“The what?” Hermione asked, a frown creasing her forehead.

 

“The Circle of the Year, as well as the deities that have gifted us with magic to begin with.”

 

Hermione immediately snorted in disdain. “Deities? Are you for real?”

 

“Where do you think magic came from then? Thin air?” Draco replied, voice growing tense.

 

“Well, I imagined it was an offshoot of some kind of genetic condition,” Hermione blustered, not looking at either of the boys.

 

“Hermione, you’ve studied all of this, you can’t explain to me that there isn’t some ‘magic’ involved. Think of all the magic that needs to be done or cast around the phases of the moon.”

 

“It is well documented in the Muggle world that there is a connection between earth energies and the pull of the moon. Just because it’s not scientifically understood, doesn’t mean that its airy fairy magic.”

 

“Fairies exist, Hermione.” Harry returned, trying to drive the point home.

 

“I know they do, you know that’s not what I meant.”

 

“How else can you describe the affect that magic has, and the part that you can control with your wand.”

 

“What are you talking about?” Draco finally asked, watching them trade barbs.

 

“In many Muggle circles, it is an understood belief that there are no supreme or higher power beings in existence. Evolution is explained as the way that life started and has changed over the millions of years.”

 

“Really?” Draco said, mildly interested.

 

“I had always wondered where that mentality had come from. But if it’s a Muggleborn preconception, then I can see how it has occurred. Muggles have always had a harder time seeing evidence of other entities involved in this planet.”

Hermione just snorted. “Who’s to say that magic users just have a the mutated gene which allows them to control a pre-existing, if not widely known or understood exotic energy inherent in the planet since it was first began.”

“And who’s to say that there isn’t a higher energetic force that could be directing such things, as the creation of this planet and including the ‘exotic energy inherent in the planet’.” Draco returned, for once actually enjoying an intelligent argument. Intelligence was a gift given sparingly by the gods.

“Then why have we not had any evidence of their influence? We’ve been in this world for five years now. They’ve done nothing to help Harry out of the poor situation that Fate has put him in.”

“Why should it be them to help everyone?” Harry asked, beating Draco to the punch. “It’s the organised religions of the Muggles that insist on that kind of belief style. Anything bad is always blamed on a higher power because people aren’t willing to own their mistakes or take responsibility for what they see in the world. ‘God helps those who help themselves’, Hermione.”

“That’s surprisingly observant of you Potter,” Malfoy commented, needing to now reassess everything he had thought he had known about Harry Potter.

“Well, I’ve had some time to think things through. It’s actually Dobby who has been helping me the most.”

“Dobby? He’s alive?” Draco asked, for once showing a proper emotion on his face. Harry wasn’t sure what he should do when confronted by actual emotion from the blonde.

“Dobby.” Harry called with intention, and the Elf popped into the library with them.

“What can Dobby be doing for his Master Harry?”

“Dobby?”

Dobby’s head whipped around when he heard Draco. “Master Dragon?”

“Father said that you were dead.” Draco came around the desk to kneel before the elf.

“Master Harry freed me. Has Master Dragon been okay?” Dobby asked, still staying close to Harry but Harry could see that there was a tentative rapport between the two.

“It’s been fine, Dobby. I’m glad you had your Master Harry to keep you safe.”

“Yes, Master Harry has been very good to Dobby. He has even allowed Dobby to bond with the Potter Family properly.” Dobby beamed.

“I’m very happy for you, Dobby. You deserve a family that will take care of you as much as you would take care of them. Harry will be a very good master for you.”

Hermione snorted, but Dobby ignored it. Draco of course, couldn’t.

“What Granger?”

“Of course you would encourage Slavery in lower classed magical creatures.”

 

 

 

 

“And of course it is typical of you to offer an opinion on a subject you know nothing about, and a private conversation at that.” Draco tersely replied.

“Well excuse me for not being able to stand by and listen or watch SLAVERY when it is playing out in front of me.” Hermione yelled, grabbing her books together haphazardly.

“And I say again, it is typical for you to go off on a subject you know nothing about. Dobby was my father’s personal House Elf, a being that has looked after me as long as I have been alive. I know what kind of life he had lived previous to Potter freeing him, so it could be argued that you are correct. But House Elves need magic to support them. The ambient magic humans produce, keeps House elves alive. They need to use their own magics to ensure that the ambient magic continue to moves through them. If the flow of energy stops, then they will not be able to absorb the ambient magic. This is why they bind themselves to a magical family, something which was their idea. They wanted to bond with US. Witches and Wizards did not ‘oh so magnanimously’ deign to bond with the lesser beings, or whatever twisted idea you have in your head. It is a symbiotic relationship has stood the test of time. I have never even heard of a free elf, nor any elf wanting to be such. With your attitude, and the way that your House looks to you for guidance, you could be the instrument of Genocide!!”

Draco had stood to face the witch by the end of his tirade, breathing deeply to contain his emotion. Hermione had turned pale as was refusing to look at any of them.

“Master Harry has already explained to Miss Grangy, Master Dragon. Miss Grangy did not understand then, and she will not understand now.” Dobby said with a hand on Draco’s shirt.

Hermione’s eyes turned watery, but before the first tears had fallen, she had run out of the library.

“Well that was awkward,” Harry said, sitting back down at the table.

“Does she not believe us, unless it’s written in a book, or something,” Draco sighed, slumping back at the table as well.

“Something like that. Though it’s probably a morals thing as well.”

“Well her attitude and people thinking that way could see the House Elf population go extinct! Sorry Dobby.” Draco said at Dobby’s shudder.

“I suppose it’s the difference of having grown up in the Magical World versus the Muggle World. I wonder if that’s half the reason I take so long to grasp so much of the magical theory. The other guys in my house in our year level have all grown up in at least partially magical homes. So I don’t have much to compare it to.”

“No, actually, it stands to reason,” Draco mused. “The kids books I gave you were for a bit of a laugh, but you grasped things a lot faster since reading them.”

“It’s a wonder that there’s no kind of orienteering for Muggleborns, either. We were just thrown in the deep end.”

“There should be! I can’t understand why there isn’t. And if anything it is detrimental to our way of living, as well as to our existence.” Draco said thoughtfully, pulling out a small pocket book from his pants pocket and writing in it for a few minutes.

He knew that Harry was watching him, curiosity written all over his face. A part of Draco wanted to ignore that look and continued the conversation, or start a new one. But a greater part was interested in caving to that curiosity.

“I have a plan,” Draco finally said, still writing in the book.

“You don’t have to tell me, it’s your business.” Harry said awkwardly, quickly looking away and attempting to busy himself with his books.

“I know, Potter. I have a plan, for the future. Where I think the Magical World should go so as to preserve our magic, our culture. I know what you are thinking,” Draco eyed Harry a moment. “I have no intentions of joining Voldemort, nor in leading another such vigilante organising that deals in death and destruction for everything I disagree with. No, I have intentions of in going into politics and affecting change through proper channels.”

“I think that sounds like a very good idea.”

“I believe in Voldemort in principle, but not in practice. Before his use of Dark Magic turned him psycho, he had a very large following in the older pure blood families because he acknowledged that there were things that needed to be changed. Those families had access to Grimoires that explained how our world had once been, and how it had been the introduction of the Ministry of Magic and their laws, which have drastically changed our way of living enough that the affects of magic leaving us is beginning to be noticed.
“Whilst the problem is the Muggleborn’s and Half Blood’s, it has also been the new laws that dictate how they are brought into our world. It is Muggle prejudice, Muggle beliefs, and Muggle customs which are eroding our own customs and beliefs.”

“What do you suggest then?” Harry asked, curious. Perhaps had these laws never been in place, he never would have had to live with the Dursley’s for all these years.

“I’m not ready to say, just yet.”

“Will you tell me, when you’re ready?”

“When I’m ready, I’ll let you know, Potter.”

~*~

Part II – Samhain – Halloween

 

Halloween saw Ron finally apologising to Harry for his harsh words. Harry of course accepted it, the pain of losing his first friend finally allayed. It was hard work, being friends with Ron, but he felt a sense of loyalty to the red head, because of him being one of the first friends he had ever had. He found himself quite surprised the lengths he went to protect that friendship.

Hermione had taken a few days to apologise to Harry, Draco and Dobby. But when she did, Harry could tell that it was because she had done her research and was finally able to admit she had been wrong. The fact that she had also apologised to Dobby was the telling part, and he could see that Draco had approved that move.

 

Dobby had just been happy to stop cleaning the Gryffindor Common Room on his own, now that Hermione had stopped her S.P.E.W campaign. Something Hermione was horrified about, when she finally accepted it.

 

The day of Halloween meant that all classes for the day were cancelled, a tradition that Draco had told him had stretched back for thousands of years, being that it was the last day of the old calendar year the.

 

“They called it the Wheel of the Year,” Draco explained. “The year was divided up with 8 main holidays in the year. Halloween, Hallow’s Eve, or Samhain, was considered the end or death of the year. It’s quite often associated with Death, though not necessarily the physical death of something. It can be a symbolic death, or the death of an idea, or something. People used to use this time to give away unwanted aspects of their life to the Gods, in the hopes that the energy can be recycled for something they want to come into their lives in the future.”

 

“It’s amazing how much you know about this kind of thing,” Harry remarked,

 

“Well, it hasn’t all just been research. To some extent, Pureblood families still celebrate these times of year, though not to the extent that it used to be hundreds of years ago, seeing as it’s not really in favour to do so. So called ‘pagan’ practises are largely frowned upon now,” Draco said, and Harry could tell that he was annoyed at the fact.

 

“So do you plan to celebrate this Halloween in a more traditional sense?” Harry asked, only realising afterwards what a personal question it really was.

 

Draco smirked. “Yes, a few of us in Slytherin have been keeping up tradition during the school year.”

“That’s good then. Is there anything to read that you might recommend on the whole Wheel of the Year thing?”

“Sure, I’ll give you some books.”

~*~
“Severus, thank you for coming so soon. You are well?” Dumbledore asked form behind his desk.

Before him Severus was just settling into the chair in front of the desk, the Death Eater cloak and mask thrown carelessly on the another chair.

“I am well.” Severus sighed heavily. “It was a surprisingly gentle meeting, there were only two tortured for failure to make progress on their appointed tasks. Jenkins and Mulciber it seems were unable to provide the required files from their respective Ministry Departments.”

“That is very well then. And the Dark Lord’s plans?” Dumbledore prodded.

“He spent most of the night posturing and lecturing us by turns. He has yet to reveal any details. He is playing it extremely close to the chest. I believe even Lucius has not been taken into confidence.”

“That is very worrying then.” Dumbledore mused, sitting back in his chair to stroke his beard in thought.

“So far we have surmised that it is something to do with a Lughnasah ritual. Have you had any luck in finding what ritual it might be?”

“Lughnasah? No, we had agreed it would be Summer Solstice, I thought.” Dumbledore said in confusion.

“No, we had agreed it would be Lughnasah. You wrote it in your book,” Severus replied, his face and voice as bland as normal. In his mind, however, he was almost ready to pull his hair out.

Dumbledore produce a book from a spell locked secret drawer in the desk, he perused it for a couple of minutes, turning from page to page. “Forgive me, Severus, you are quite right.”

“And your research?”

 

“Has been on the wrong Sabbat. I will begin my research anew, as soon as you leave.” Dumbledore sighed.

“Then I will not detain you any longer.”

~*~

“Harry, Mate! We’re going to be late to class!” Ron said, tearing around the dormitory in a towel, barely noticing Harry standing at the door, completely dressed and his satchel over his shoulder, ready to go.

“It’s alright. We’ve got Herbology first up, Madame Sprout won’t mind if we’re still eating.” Harry sighed, casting a tempus and sighing again.

“Why didn’t you wake me?” Ron demanded, searching under the bed for shoes.

“I did, ya git.” Harry said, a smirk on his face.

“Then why didn’t I get up?” Ron moaned.

“Because you like sleeping too much!!”
“Truer words, Mate!!”

They only ended up being a few minutes late, and Madame Sprout only sent them a half-hearted glare.

“Today students, we will be discussing the merits of harvesting at different times of the year. Can anyone tell me why we might consider the time of year when planting or harvesting?”

“Because of the earth and magic energies inherent in the land.” Neville piped up when no one else said anything.

“Correct. And who can tell me what variables can have an impact on these energies?”

“The moon?” A girl from Ravenclaw suggested.

“Correct! Any others?”

When no one said anything else, Madame Sprout glanced at Neville. Neville however just sighed. “The nature of the spellwork, ritual or potion for which the plant will be used in. As well as the Sabbat we are in as a part of the Wheel of the Year.”

 

“Correct you are, Mr Longbottom. The Wheel of the Year is still heavily abided by in Herbology due to the amount of ritual’s and potions that use ingredients that need to be planted or harvested during a particular time. It has been researched and found conclusive that the timing in planting and in harvest does have an effect on the outcome. Regardless what the popular belief now is the Wheel of the Year is something that should be taken very seriously when doing anything related to Herbology.

 

~*~

 

“What a load of crock that was, hey mate?” Ron jeered as they left their morning Herbology class and made their way back to the castle proper for lunch. “I mean, who cares when you put bloody seeds in the ground! I’m glad I’m not going to do anything as ridiculous as be a ‘Herbologist’ after Hogwarts.”

 

Harry bit his tongue, knowing to say something now was just courting yet another argument with the hot headed red head.

 

“Now an Auror. That’s certainly a more manly job. And you know you’ll be fantastic at it! Especially after all you did with the D.A! We could be partners you know, when we reach the Academy! Wouldn’t that be great!”

 

Ron prattled on and Harry tried to zone him out. He wondered how he was going to break it to him that he didn’t want to join the Auror’s after Hogwarts. After he defeated Voldemort, because it seemed that was the thing that he was going to have to do, and provided he actually even survived the whole experience, he was not someone who was going to spend the rest of his professional life, which would in actual fact be a very large portion of his actual and very long life, chasing down yet more bad guys. He just did not see the appeal the way Ron did.

 

“We better not need anything as stupid as Herbology anyway. We wouldn’t have to do that kind of spell craft or ritual anyway. I’m sure they would have lower Ministry officials to get all of that stuff organised.”

 

“You know, knowing Herbology would have it uses, depending on the department you end up in. Suppose you are on a bust for illegal substances, and you come across a potions lab or a hot house. You don’t want to go ahead and arrest the guy over a potted Lavender plant.” Harry smirked, trying to lighten the mood.

 

“Heh, why do you think I’m turning up to Herbology now?” Ron sneered. “Besides, I think I’ll be able to tell the difference between a lavender bush and Devil’s Snare.”

 

Harry watched as Neville quickly walked on ahead of them, now feeling guilty for not having said something. Though he had to wonder why Ron was being so vocal about it as he was sure Ron knew that Neville aspired to be a Herbologist, and it was one of the classes that he was truly excelling at.

 

At dinner that night, the conversation continued with Ron ridiculing most classes except for Defence Against the Dark Arts.

 

“DADA is just something that I think everyone should be well versed in, especially with the War coming. You just don’t know when you might need that kind of knowledge, you know what I mean?” Ron said around a mouthful of food.

 

“It is very good knowledge to have,” Harry agreed, though he was loathe to do so. “But having some knowledge in the other subjects would always be handy.”

 

“Bah!! As if. Charms and Transfiguration! Sure! But Potions, or Herbology is for the people afraid of the front lines!”

 

“What?” Neville spoke up, his face lined in concern.

 

“What Nev?” Ron asked, having only listened to himself for the last half an hour.

 

“What did you just say about Herbology?”

 

“That it’s for people who don’t want to be on the front lines,” Ron said, his face showing his confusion.

 

“No, you said it was people who were AFRAID of the front lines. Are you implying that I’m too scared to fight by Harry and your side?”

 

“Nah, Nev. I didn’t mean you.” Ron tried to back track.

 

“No you said Herbologists, and Potions Masters. You know I want to be a Herbologist. So you’re saying that I’m too scared to be on the front lines. Well you know what, I’m not. Just because you don’t think it’s a useful subject to know, doesn’t mean that it’s not useful at all. And I have already fought at Harry and your side, if you don’t remember. I was there at the Ministry, so don’t you DARE call me a coward!”

 

Half the Great Hall was in shock at Neville’s words and the shear tone that were delivered in.

 

“You’re a rock star Nev,” Harry said, with a smile. “I can always count on you to have my back!”

 

Ron didn’t say anything, his face red with embarrassment and temper.

 

“Harry, are you going to start up the D.A. again? Because I think it would be a really good idea.” Ginny said, coyness catching Harry of guard.

 

“It’s actually not a bad idea,” Hermione said, looking up from her books. “I can always send out a meeting time, see how many of the original class turn up.”

 

“This year’s teacher is a bit of a joke, too,” Harry said looking up at the French man who was seated next to Professor Snape. Harry watched as the man tried to engage the Potion’s Master in conversation, only to be shot down again and again with a withering glare.

 

“Didn’t Dumbledore say that he was getting a man from America? This guy is obviously not him.” Ron piped up.

 

“Yeah, I remember that too. I wonder what happened to the American guy. Or how Professor Dumbledore managed to get this man on such short notice.”

 

“Do you think,” Harry trailed off, whispering, “That Dumbledore got his wires crossed again?”

 

Hermione looked at him a moment, assessing the information in her head. “It scares me that that is a possibility.”

 

~*~

 

“So that was quite the impassioned speech by Longbottom.” Draco commented, joining Harry and Hermione at their usual table in the library.

 

“Well, Ron had it coming, after the way he was talking today,” Hermione said crossly.

 

Draco looked to Harry when there was obviously no more forthcoming from Hermione.

 

“Ron took it upon himself to explain what were and weren’t useful subjects, and implied that Herbology and Potions were an essentially useless field of expertise for the coming war.”

 

“Does the Weasel know where his healing potions come from?” Draco snarled, slamming his own books open.

 

“I don’t imagine he did. He probably forgot such a mere detail as that.”

 

“Mere indeed.” Draco snorted. “How is it that you give him so many free passes? I’m sure I would have hexed the bastard a thousand times over if I was in your place.”

 

“Believe me, I have a vivid imagination that goes a long way towards that.” Harry admitted with a laugh. “But he was my first proper friend, both in the Muggle world as well as the Magical world. I suppose I’ll always be grateful to him for that.”

 

“You didn’t have a pleasant upbringing, did you,” Draco asked softly, noticing when Hermione looked at him assessing, but he did not acknowledge it.

 

“Not really,” Harry said uncomfortably, looking away.

 

“You may not believe me, but I do have some idea of what that is like, I’ll be the first to say that my childhood was not all Quidditch and chocolate.” Draco said, opening up his satchel for parchment and quill.

 

“No, I don’t imagine it would have been.” Harry admitted, taking a deep breath.

 

“So you don’t have to keep it to yourself if you don’t want to. I’m sure Granger has lent a sympathetic ear in the past, but if you want someone who understands, let me know. I can’t say I’ll listen to you bleed your heart out, but the thought is there.” Draco said with a smirk.

 

Harry gave half a laugh too, feeling a little more ice break between them. Hermione of course looked at Draco in horror.

 

“I’ll be sure to cry on your shoulder and mess up your pretty robes.” Harry snarked back.

 

“Please, like I’d even let you near my person.”

 

Harry smiled at that, feeling lighter. He was coming to understand the kind of person that Draco was, underneath the Death Eater in training, and he was finding himself liking the blonde ferret.

 

“So, I’m still surprised that Longbottom had the balls to come out and say that to Ron’s face.” Draco observed.

 

“Why else would he be in Gryffindor?” Harry replied with a grin. “He was amazing in the Ministry. Handled himself really well.”

 

“Even in some private classes, he’s been picking up thinks really well,” Hermione added, feeling quite proud of her Housemate.

 

“This school has needed a lot of private classes, recently.” Draco sneered. “I swear I’ve had to tutor the majority of younger years the last few years running, just to make sure they had passing grades.”

 

“I’m sure it’s only been Hermione’s sheer force of will that has allowed Ron and I to pass,” Harry said with a grin to Hermione, who blushed.

 

“Defence is ridiculous this year. Just like last year.” Draco moaned. “That toad of a woman was a nightmare. Father and I had quite the argument about that, I can assure you.”

 

“Why did you join her little brigade?” Hermione asked, tone as neutral as possible.

 

“Yes well, like I said, it was quite the argument with my Father. He seemed to think siding with her would stand us in good stead for some reason. I’m not entirely sure he realised just what kind of witch that woman was. I have no idea what kind of political manoeuvre that was, except a bad one.”

 

“You were against siding with her?” Harry asked, his face full of confusion. “But you seemed so zealous under her leadership.”

 

“If you haven’t noticed, I have been brought up by one of the Wizarding World’s greatest actors. I can act in such a way just as well as my father. And at that point, my father had control over me and my decisions. That is no longer the case and he knows it.”

 

“Do you have any intention of becoming a Death Eater,” Hermione cut to the chase boldly.

 

“Not in Voldemort’s wildest dreams.” Draco growled. “I was raised to think and act a certain way, that I was a station above everyone else in this realm. The idea then, that I would grovel before a madman is quite laughable. I had thought of a partnership for a short time, but I then realised that he was just plain barmy and is likely to kill all of his followers in a fit of pique, than actually achieve any of the goals he initially set out to achieve.”

 

“You agree with Voldemort?” Hermione demanded, her face turning to one of anger.

 

“In theory, but not in practice. We’ve discussed many of his political views already, Granger. Several of which you have agreed with. But it’s the nutter’s method which myself, and I imagine many of the Pureblood family’s, have a problem with now. He never was this crazy, and his ideas were met with great acclaim when he first went public. But he has delusions which his Muggle upbringing have tainted him with, had he grown up in the Magical Realm, I’m sure he never would have pursued the path he has chosen.”

 

“What do you mean, I’ve agreed with him. I’d never agree with the Dark Lord.” Hermione said hotly, definitely in defence mode.

 

“Our discussions on the Wheel of the Year, as well as Wizarding genetics were some of the first things Voldemort brought to light about the Magical World and the negative impact the Ministry of Magic has had on the Magical Realm here in the United Kingdom.”

 

“It seems preposterous that I could ever agree with anything that Voldemort advocated.” Harry mused, “But it would be ignorant to refute something when there is evidence to support it. Thank you for giving me that article by the way. It was interesting to get an understanding on magical workings in other parts of the world.”

“What article,” Hermione demanded, interest piqued.

 

“An article on Germany’s magical community after they have reverted back to an old system of magic and government. It happened about ten years ago now, after everything with the Grindelwald war was finally laid to rest. But since they have reverted to the old magics, there has been a resurgence in magical children being born both to magical and Muggle families, and a resurgence in the flow of magic readily available as well.”

 

“That does sound quite interesting.” Hermione said. “May I read it?”

 

Once Hermione was absorbed in her reading, Draco turned back to Harry again.

 

“In all seriousness, Potter, you’ve been acting entirely too polite and calm since coming back to school. I have some idea of what has been going on with you lately. It’s not healthy to let it bottle up. You need to accept the anger and fear and hurt, accept that you feel it, accept that you are allowed to feel those emotions and allow yourself to heal from those wounds. If you don’t, you’re liable to end up a miserable person, and I can’t guarantee that you will make it out of this war alive, let alone sane.”

 

Harry took a moment to think about what the Blonde had said. It was in fact the reason that he had turned to Dobby as a friend when his school friends were beyond reach. He hated to think where he might be had Dobby not been there for him. He hated that he could not spend more time with the House Elf during the school term, but they were both too busy with their own work.

 

What Draco said was something that Harry had already been thinking. He hated feeling like he was at the mercy of his emotions, and was the main reason that he stuffed them down deep inside as a method of controlling them. But Draco was right that he was in fact bottling those emotions, and the bottle was liable to break at the least provocation. Though his saving grace this year was that Draco was working with him this time, instead of against him.

 

But it still left the question, that he didn’t know how to handle these emotions. Feeling them usually hurt so much, which is why of course he had ignored them to begin with. He dreaded dragging them out again, let alone in front of someone else.

 

“Harry?”

 

“That’s the first time you’ve called me by name,” Harry replied, a small smile on his face.

 

“It is, yes. Nice distraction by the way.” Draco replied with a smirk.

 

“You’re not going to let me get away with it either, are you?” Harry said, smile growing thought he still felt confused. “Why are you caring about it now?”

 

“Why do you feel you’re not worthy of someone caring about you?”

 

“Since when did you become a therapist?”

 

“How long are you going to avoid the question?”

 

Harry stopped, realising that he was getting nowhere fast. Apart from angry. That was coming along just fine, right now. Harry tried to take a deep breath, trying not to lash out at the blonde, as intellectually he realised that Malfoy was trying to help him, but all he could feel was a deep seated rage that wanted to be let out.

 

“On a scale of one to ten, just how angry are you right now,” Draco said with a smirk.

 

“Oh, around eighteen.” Harry replied, trying not to sound like he was clenching his teeth.

 

“That’s what I thought.” Draco said, packing up his books. “Come on, let’s go for a walk.”

 

Sighing, Harry picked up his own books quickly and shoved them none too gently into his own bag.

 

“Where are you going?” Hermione asked, watching the two of them finish collecting their gear.

 

“Going to deal with some anger management issues. I promise I won’t break him,” Draco said before Harry could say anything.

 

Harry was glad he did, as he wasn’t entirely sure that what came out of his mouth right now would be considered appropriate in polite company, and Hermione is someone that he really didn’t want to attack right now.

 

Before Hermione could say any more, Draco was leading Harry out of the Library and quickly into a hidden corridor Harry had never seen before.

 

“It’s nothing personal, but I would prefer, for the time being, not being seen with you in public. I can imagine exactly what should happen should someone from my House see us together and report back to the House, or better yet, my Father.”

 

“No, I get that.” Harry said, having wondered the same thing himself during their sessions in the Library. So Harry asked.

 

“You’ve never noticed the wards that I’ve cast each and every time I’ve met with you and Granger?” Draco asked, surprised. “We really need to work on your magic sensitivity. You’ll need it if you want to work with Wards in the future.

 

“How do you know I want to work with Wards?” Harry asked trying to think back to anytime it might have come up in conversation.

 

“I don’t think I’ve seen anyone who has been quite so interested in playing catch up in several subjects this late in their Hogwarts career on the whim of casual research.” Draco advised, smirking.

 

“Yeah, I guess I have been uniquely motivated. Working with the Auror’s is just not where I see myself in ten years time.”

 

“Oh, and where do you see yourself then?”

 

“I guess I don’t know.” Harry replied, saddened at the thought.

 

“Then you had best start painting a picture so you have something to work towards, something to fight for.”

 

“Is that why you have your grand plans?”

 

“Yes and no.” Draco said, finally leading them to the room of requirement. After walking past the room three times, they entered what looked like a firing range on one side of the room, and an obstacle course on the other. “I have ideas of where I think the Wizarding Realm should be, but my personal plans don’t necessarily require those ideas to be in place.”

 

Harry accepted that for all the answer that he would be getting. He knew that they weren’t quite as close or as trusting of each other to be revealing those kinds of more intimate details.

 

“So, Rage issues. They’re certainly some of the more destructive of emotions that we have the joy and pleasure of experiencing. How about you go ahead and make some fireworks, release some of that rage.” Draco said, motioning to the targets. With a flick of the Blonde’s wand, the targets started to slowly move around the room.

 

Harry just watched for a moment in confusion. “What do you want me to do? How is this supposed to help with my rage issues?”

 

“I take it you’ve never indulged in senseless destruction before then,” Draco sighed, shaking his head. “Imagine the targets are Voldemort’s head, or Minister Fudge, even Ron, especially after all his comments today. Then point and shoot,” Draco said, as with a flick of his wand, a spell shot out and destroyed one of the targets. A new target swung in closer to replace it, and Harry watched as it taunted him, floating just in front of him.

 

With a small amount of regret, Harry fired of a stunner that had the target spinning off into the back of the room. Immediately another target swung into the other’s place.

 

Harry cast again, this time a hex that had it cracking down the middle and vanishing, yet another target coming over in its place.

 

For the next hour and a half, Harry steadily blasted his way through hundreds of targets, growing more forceful and more powerful in his attacks. He barely noticed that he had broken into a sweat and that he was breathing hard, that he was attacking the targets with a single minded focus that excluded everything else in the room. Even Draco.

 

But then the last target was destroyed under a powerful reductor curse, and Harry was left bereft.

 

“How do you feel?”

 

“Pumped, but calmer,” Harry finally said, a grin on his face, “and bloody exhausted.”

 

~*~

 

“I hope you don’t take what Ronald Weasley said to heart.”
Neville turned around, his hands buried in soil as he busily re-potted a sage plant to a larger pot. Luna stood next to him, her hands rubbing one of the sage leaves between her fingers.

 

“It’s hard not to,” Neville admitted with a sigh.

 

“But you know that it’s not true. You are as much a warrior as Harry is, and capable of just as much.”

 

“I hardly think so. That prophecy wasn’t about me. Harry is a lot more talented.”

 

“Only in subjects you think are more worthwhile. Why do you think Herbology isn’t worthwhile?”

 

“Because it isn’t,” Neville said angrily, throwing the spade in his hands on the ground. “Ron was right! What use is a Herbologist in a war?!”

 

“From where will the doctors and nurses get their healing supplies from to treat the injured? Where will the Potions Master go for his ingredients for his potions to heal or to attack? They may grow on trees and bushes, but who knows how they must be picked or treated? You have use Neville. Never think that you don’t. And if you truly want to be on the front line, then don’t let being a Herbologist stop you. Find how you can use the tools that fate has given you, and learn how to fight.”

 

Neville took a deep breath, finally looking at Luna beside him. She was certainly the last person that he had expected a pep talk from.

 

“You’re right.” Neville said, taking a seat at one of the tables.

 

“I’ve seen it, you know. The battles that will come. The future that we need to create. Do you want to help create the new world?”

 

“If you think I can help you,” Neville said, wondering how on earth he could help.

 

“I didn’t ask if I thought you could help. I asked if you WANT to help.” Luna reiterated, her tone forceful for the first time that Neville had ever heard her.

 

“Umm… Yeah. Yes, I want to help.”

 

~*~

 

“Where were you? You missed Defence Class!” Hermione chided, striding alongside Harry towards their last class of the day, Transfiguration.

 

“Did I miss anything important?”

 

“That’s not the point,” Hermione said angrily. “Missing classes is irresponsible.”

 

“Leave off it, Hermione! Leave the bloke alone.” Ron said, his tone patronising.

 

Hermione huffed angrily, glaring at the both of them before entering the classroom.

 

Harry and Ron took the desk behind her, quietly getting ready for the class.

 

“Where were you mate?” Ron asked in a whisper. “You weren’t at lunch either.”

 

“Just blowing off some steam.” Harry said tersely, not wanting to get into it with Ron.

 

“Some steam, eh? What was her name?” Ron jeered.

 

“What? NO! It wasn’t some girl. I was in the Room of Requirement blasting targets if you must know.” Harry growled.

 

“No ready to get tetchy, mate,” Ron said defensively, but his tone just irritated Harry even more, because Harry could tell Ron was not sorry for the question.

 

Harry watched as Draco came into the class surrounded by Pansy, Crabbe and Goyle. The four of them sat on the other side of the room, as far away from the Gryffindors as possible.

 

Harry caught Draco glaring at him and realised that he had been stareing in their direction to long. He was saved further embarrassment when Professor McGonagall stepped back into class.

 

Harry tried to keep his temper down throughout class, but Ron had, in one sentence, undone all of Draco’s work in calming him down. He was sure he would have been able to cope with a stupid offhand comment like that before, but right now he found his patience sorely thinned.

 

It meant that his transfigurations for the class came out subpar, which of course only irritated him all the more. He was all too glad when they were finally dismissed so that he might escape again.

 

~*~

 

Draco found him back in the Room of Requirement only half an hour after they had been released from classes. Having watched as Harry’s temper had seemed to rise as the class ticked on, so he wasn’t surprised to find the Boy Who Lived back here again.

 

It took another three quarters of an hour to exhaust Harry again, time which Draco had spent alternatively watching Harry work, and reading up on his homework. But eventually Harry tired, and he slumped on the couch that the room had conjured when Draco wanted to sit down.

 

“So it didn’t take long for that anger to come back then.” Draco commented, not looking up from his book.

 

“I had more patience before I started this,” Harry harrumphed.

 

“No, you had a higher tolerance to bullshit, something which you don’t necessarily require, especially seeing as you have no intention of going into politics.”

 

“That’s true, I suppose.”

 

“So what brought the anger back this time?”

 

“Both Ron and Hermione were at me for skipping class, but for opposite reasons of course.” Harry huffed out a laugh, though it wasn’t necessarily funny.

 

“I suppose Granger thought it sacrilege for you to skip a class?” Draco assumed, a smirk on his face yet again.

 

“And Ron thought I was meeting with a girl.”

 

“I’m not sure if I should be horrified or flattered by that,” Draco admitted, giving himself a shake.

 

“I’m not sure either,” Harry smirked, head rolling along the head rest of the lounge to look at Draco. “So how do I not respond and get angry at petty shit like that?”

 

“Ask yourself why you are getting angry over it. Is it what they are saying or implying, or is it that they are questioning something about you? Once you know why it is you are angry, you can work out and shore up your defences against it.”

 

“That sounds like it’s easier said than done,” Harry sighed, wriggling around on the lounge to find a more comfortable spot.

 

“It takes practice.” Draco admitted, closing the book that he had been reading.

 

“I don’t think I ever realised how much I’d been repressing all this anger.”
“We usually don’t, not until it’s too late and you accidentally take it out on the wrong person.”

 

“Yeah, I worked really hard not to take it out on Hermione, but she just kept pushing.”

 

“That girl would try the patience of anyone.” Draco snorted.

 

“She does,” Harry agreed. “I never thought I would be this comfortable around you.”
They were both silent for several minutes, long enough that Harry started the self recriminations that he should have kept silent. He wasn’t sure what made him say it.

 

“I find myself in a similar predicament,” Draco finally said.

 

“Why have we been fighting all these years?” Harry asked plainly.

 

“Many reasons and issues on both our parts, I think.” Draco replied evasively.

 

“I guess,” Harry gave a frustrated little huff, sitting back up again.

 

“Look, Potter-,” Draco began.

 

“No, you don’t have to explain anything to me if you don’t want to.” Harry said quickly, gathering up is robes and his satchel from where he had dumped them.

 

“Potter… Harry,” Draco said, an earnestness coming to his voice. “Look, I’m sorry alright, for everything over the years. I had my part to play under my father’s orders. Sometimes, well – most times, it was a convenient outlet or target. So I’m sorry.”

 

“I understand that, Draco. You don’t need to apologise. If anything, I’m sorry for the way I dismissed your offer of friendship back in first year. I was so scared of losing my first friend, and I acted rashly.”

 

“If I don’t need to apologise, then you certainly don’t need to either, Harry. We both had our parts to play.” Draco said softly, still sitting on the edge of the lounge.

 

Harry dropped his bag and cloak back where they were and slumped into a seat next to Draco again.

 

They both sat in silence, each of them thinking over the last five years that had almost had them at each other’s throat.

 

“Can I ask why things changed this year?” Harry asked softly. “It’s fine if you don’t, I guess I’m still confused why we are suddenly friends.”

“Summer was tough,” Draco admitted. “Father was incarcerated, for which I thank you and your other Gryffindors. It means that this year I have half a chance to put my own plans in motion. My birthday was also during the holidays, so I’m legally old enough to speak for myself. It means that I’ve been able to start being my own person, instead of what my Father has taught and expected me to be.”

“I’m glad for you,” Harry said, honestly having no idea what it must have been like to grow up in such an environment where the expectations were so high.

 

“It has also been impressed upon me what is expected of me in the months to come. As you no doubt already know, I have no wish to follow that path, and have needed to start paving my own. It sounds selfish, but this is one of those things that I hope will lead me to being a better person, the person that I want to be.”

 

“I don’t necessarily think it’s selfish,” Harry admitted.

 

“I’m supposed to be Marked this Christmas,” Draco sighed heavily, like a weight was settled on his shoulders.

 

“What do you plan to do about it?”

 

“Avoid it at all costs.” Draco snorted, making Harry laugh. “I’m not sure how I will avoid it just yet, especially with the political games that my Father will attempt to play from Azkaban. Mother, no doubt, will be pressured to host a Function at Malfoy Manor to ensure my return home.”

 

“You could always come home with me?” Harry suggested. “I’ve not decided where I’ll go, now that I have inherited and all that. But I don’t think that they would think to look for you with me. Could you send your regrets early, perhaps cut it off before your Mother has to offer the invitation?”

 

Draco thought for a moment, knowing that it would, in the end, be nowhere near that simple. To spend Christmas with Harry would almost certainly be declaring himself against Voldemort, regardless if it was common knowledge just who he spent the holidays with. His not going home would be seen as an abandonment of the cause. He wasn’t sure if it was such a wise course of action to do, knowing of the possibility that his Father could be released from Azkaban at any time, and would therefore be available to ritually cast him from the Malfoy Family.

 

He loved his Family and its history dearly, and it was not something that he wanted to be separated from.

 

He had to trust that that would not be the case, and for that to happen, he needed to start on his plans much earlier than he might have wished. The political arena would be hard enough in the next five years, but without his Name behind him, and the possibility of Voldemort making a move against the Magical Realm well before that, he now realised that his plans had to start soon.

 

“You won’t have the Weasel and Granger with you? Surely they would both be eager to embark on this little quest of yours.” Draco sneered.

 

“I didn’t actually have any intention in inviting Ron with me these holidays. He wouldn’t be able to give me the time and space to look around that I think I need. His temperament leads to lazing around and doing nothing, or playing Quidditch.”

 

“Funnily enough, that doesn’t surprise me. You think that I would be conducive to these tasks, though?”

 

“I do actually.”

 

“And Hermione?”

 

“I’m not sure yet. I hadn’t actually decided just yet. She doesn’t get much of a chance to contact her parents through the school year. And I’m not too sure what she plans to do during the holidays anyway. She may be interested in her research that we’ve been doing lately. I think by that stage, if we’ve not hit some kind of breakthrough, then I’m going to need a break from all of that instead.”

 

“Yeah, I must admit, that I had thought myself a bit of a power-researcher. Now I know just how it is that she beats my scores every year.” Draco replied, chagrined.

 

“So, did you want to join me?”

 

“Yeah, I think I might, Thanks.”

 

 

 

TBC

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EAD’16 – Lost in the Wild – Teen Wolf

Title: Lost in the Wild

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Teen Wolf

Word Count: ~2900

Primary Pairings/Characters: Derek Hale/Stiles Stilinski

Rating: PG-13, it may change later on.

Content/Warnings:  Canon level violence, thoughts of being stranded

Summary: Derek’s gone missing. Isaac and Stiles seems to be the only ones worried about that.

Beta: None. Causal spell check. No bitching.

~*~

 

Lost in the Wild

Derek took a deep breath as he focused his mind like he had gleaned from Peter. He focused on the image of the wolf in his mind and pushed that image into reality. He imagined the feel of four paws on the forest floor, the breeze rushing through his fur. He pushed that image into the connection in his mind where he kept his wolf characteristics and instincts at bay, letting them free than he had ever done before.

He felt himself shift to his beta form, knew his eyes would gleam red if they were open. He pushed harder at the image and then harder still until he finally felt the change he had been looking for. He grimaced at the feel of bone, muscle and organs shifting in a queasy way but he didn’t waver from his focus. He remained intent on the image in his mind until it consumed his consciousness.

It took him a few minutes to realise the transformation was complete. He almost regretted having done this in the middle of the Beacon Hills preserve as he wouldn’t have minded having a mirror right now. From what he could see, he wore a thick dark brown pelt so far without any markings. He was taller and bigger built than the average wolf. It annoyed him that he wasn’t any bigger than Peter’s form had been, though he was glad to see for the most part that his from was that of an actual wolf and not the monster that his uncle had become. He refused to think of his mother’s form.

The feel of his tail behind him and the way he could move his ears took some getting used to, but before long he was as steady on four paws as he was on two feet and he was bolting through the forest.

For once in a very long time he was joyful and carefree.

~*~

“I don’t get it, it’s been days since I saw him,” Isaac whispered with a frown.

“So what?” Scott said through his mouthful of lunch.

“There’s no fresh scent of him anywhere. Not out at the house, not at the depo, and his car hasn’t moved from outside his apartment in days. “

“Wait wait, Derek has an apartment?” Stiles demanded. “If he has an apartment then why the hell have we been meeting at the depo for all this time? That last tetanus injection burned like a motherfucker.”

“Well you were never invited to the pack meetings. If you were so worried then you shouldn’t have come,’ Isaac sniffed angrily, refusing to even look in Stiles’ direction.

“And let you lot run around aimlessly as the Alpha Pack picked us off one by one? Thanks, but no thanks. One torture session a lifetime is enough for me thank you.” Stiles snorted.

It was the ensuing silence that clued him into the fact that he hadn’t necessarily been listening to what he had been saying. The whole table was quiet as they looked at him in various expressions of shock and horror.

“Excuse me,” Stiles said softly, abandoning his half eaten lunch to quickly escape the cafeteria.

He walked quickly to his next class and took a seat near the back, before promptly banging his head on the table. He groaned in both pain and mortification as he played back what he had said. He was an idiot for letting it slip and he knew he would be facing an interrogation as soon as Scott of Lydia got him alone. He wasn’t sure who would get to him first. He wasn’t sure who he even wanted to get to him first. It was going to be painful either way.

Though he’s surprised Erica and Boyd never said anything after they had been released. He would have assumed Isaac would’ve known, but judging by his expression a few minutes prior, it would seem that wasn’t the case.

Stiles sat in silence in the empty classroom, head still resting on the desk. His mind raced as he spun scenario upon scenario of what was awaiting him until the reason Isaac had approached them came flashing back.

Derek had been missing for a few days.

He didn’t necessarily think it was cause for suspicion as going by Derek’s personality, he was introverted to a fault. He took taciturn to new and unprecedented levels. That the Sour Wolf hand wanted a few days’ space after the nightmare that had been the last year, could be completely understandable. Logical even.

So why did his mind rebel against the conclusion?

He was saved further contemplation by the arrival of the teacher, closely followed by the bell signalling the end of lunch.

He forgot he only had Lydia this period as she determinedly strode into the classroom and all but slammed her books on the table beside him.

It was going to be a long day.

~*~

The following Friday saw Stiles and Scott make their way to the train depot at the normal time.

For months they had met at the same time every week to update and discuss the Alpha Pack that had invaded their territory. By this stage it was habit and it hadn’t been called off yet, so Stiles easily convinced Scott it was still a good idea to keep going.

‘Forewarned was Forearmed’ was Stiles new motto concerning anything Supernatural.

Inside, Isaac was curled up by himself on one of the decrepit lounge suites, whilst Jackson and Lydia were perched on another. Lydia was focused on her phone whilst Jackson could almost be mistaken for being asleep. Stiles knew better though.

The room still felt wrong without Erica and Boyd’s presence, something Stiles was sure the werewolves felt more keenly.

Stiles and Scott took another lounge, their same spots as normal. A few minutes later, Allison arrived and took her seat on a random dining chair next to Scott. No body moved or said anything.

Five minutes later there was still not a sound, and it was getting to Stiles.

“So where is our fearless Alpha?”

Nobody said anything but Isaac seemed to curl into himself even tighter.

“Anyone?” Stiles prodded to no avail.

“Has anyone seen him lately?” Isaac asked in a whisper which the humans in the room could barely hear.

“Nope,” Lydia said distractedly, still focused on her phone. The others all shook their heads.

“Hands up anyone who finds that pretty strange?” Stiles raised his hand. Isaac joined him

“Hands up anyone who doesn’t give a shit,” Jackson snarled, not even bothering to open his eyes.

There was silence in the room but for Isaac’s whimper. Stiles just sighed heavily.

It shouldn’t have surprised him that they weren’t more concerned. It was only by a wind and a prayer that they had managed to dispatch the Alpha Pack. There was no bonding experience, no working as a Team. Just grudging alliances and more backstabbing. At least it hadn’t necessarily been just Scott this time. He had forgiven his best friend but he certainly hadn’t forgotten.

So now that Derek was actually missing, no one overly cared. Stiles felt guilty as his first thought that perhaps things might finally settle down on the supernatural front.

“Well, if he’s not going to come, maybe we should get going,” Scott said to Stiles quietly. Of course they were in a room with werewolves, so the volume of one’s voice was a moot point.

It was all the break needed in the room as after that everyone was noisily getting up and leaving with barely a word said between the different groups.

“So this was a waste of time.” Scott added as he waited for Stiles to move.

“You’re not the tinniest bit worried about Derek?” Stiles prodded, loathe to leave the depo.

“He’s strong enough to take care of himself. And he’s always going on about how he regrets biting teenagers. Maybe he just wanted time to himself,” Scott reasoned.

“For over a week without going to any of his normal haunts, without a word to anyone, leaving his car, wallet and mobile behind. Not even a new or recent scent of him that your wolfy noses can pick up?”

“Ok, so it sounds a little strange when you put it that way,” Scott admitted as they climbed into the jeep.

“Right. Now that we agree he’s missing, where do you think he’s gone? Or do you think anything has happened to him? You don’t think he’s been captured by hunters or another Alpha from the Alpha Pack that we didn’t know about? He’s been captured again and is probably being tortured as we speak.” Stiles mind ran with possibilities, visions of the Alpha strung up and the electric current turned on, Kate Argent Style.

“Calm down Stiles. He’s not been captured. There’s not been any evidence of that.”

“But we can’t rule it out. Lack of evidence doesn’t mean that it’s not a possibility.”

“Okay, it’s highly doubtful, but not ruled out.” Scott allowed with a sigh, well used to Stiles after all their years as friends.

“So why would he leave then, and especially leaving everything he would need for the human world behind, unless he meant to leave the real world behind. That’s it. The emotional baggage has grown so much that he’s had a mental breakdown and is lost somewhere. Do you think he’s gone full amnesiac or is he just hiding somewhere?”

“If he’s broken down, then he just needs the time to get things back together again. And that’s what we should do. Give him some time to get himself back together.” Scott said resolutely, leaving Stiles to bite his tongue.

~*~

One week later and there was still no sign of Derek. Isaac was even more depressed, Jackson, Lydia and Allison were still uncaring and decided to go and get pizza together. Scott shrugged his shoulders and made his way out of the depo.

“You coming Stiles?” Scott’s brow furrowed in confusion when the human didn’t follow him.

“I’m going to stick with Isaac a bit.”

Scott just shrugged again and left.

“So this is pretty awkward.” Stiles started, hoping to draw Isaac out.it wasn’t successful. “So looks like we’re the only ones worried.”

“He wouldn’t just leave without saying something.” Isaac affirmed, it sounded well-rehearsed.

“No, I think he would. He takes being an Alpha more seriously than that.” Stiles reassured.

“You don’t think something bad has happened, do you?” Isaac asked, seeming to curl into himself even more.

“I’m pretty sure you guys would feel it if he’d been killed or something,” Stiles grimaced when Isaac started whining. “Your wolfy pack bonds would tell you that kind of thing.”

Isaac just nodded, the whimpers stopping.

“Then we just need to retrace where he had been. Maybe check out the Reserve a bit deeper. He grew up in them so he’s bound to know them better than any of us.”

Isaac nodded again, pulling himself together. All at once he looked determined again instead of broken.

“So let’s go back over his usual haunts around town once more, and tomorrow we’ll go to the Reserve for the day.”

That night Stiles dove around town whilst Isaac very embarrassingly had his head stuck out the window. they didn’t catch Derek’s scent anywhere. but they also didn’t find any evidence of new hunters either, so Stiles counted that as a positive.

They parted ways just after midnight and stiles slunk home glad for once his dad was on a night shift. he crawled into bed and slept for what only felt like five minutes when he was prodded awake by Isaac looking earnest and determined.

An hour later, having gathered supplies and breakfast Stiles drove them to the Reserve and parked at the start of the hiker’s trails. the car had barely stopped when Isaac was already Climbing out the passenger side and hiking his back pack over his shoulder.

Stiles took a moment longer to yawn widely and glare into the dawn light before getting out and hitching his own bag over a shoulder. Isaac was already at the entrance to the first trail so he quickly jogged to catch up.

The first few hours were spent following the trail deeper into the forest before they agreed to leave it behind. If Derek wanted to be alone or if he had been captured, it wasn’t like they would remain on the well-worn track.

Progress slowed considerably as Stiles struggled to make his way through the uneven forest floor and soon enough he had lost sight of Isaac altogether. He wasn’t overly worried as he knew Isaac’s hearing would still find him should he need it. So Stiles trudged on until another few hours had passed, with no idea what he could be looking for.

It was getting into late afternoon when he realised at some point Isaac had gone out of ear shot. He had tried calling to the other werewolf but there was no answer. He tried calling him on his cell, but there wasn’t enough signal this deep in the Preserve. He shot off a text anyway and began to make his way back in hopefully the right direction. A little while later he received a text back saying the werewolf was following a potential scent trail.

Stiles contemplated a moment remaining in the Preserve but quickly vetoed it. He was exhausted from the all day hike already and whilst the sun wouldn’t be setting for another few hours, he would probably better spent that time hiking back to Betty and his bed.

The compass that he had packed seemed to be defective as the needle remained northeast no matter which way he faced. He only wished he had discovered this earlier as now there was a distinct possibility that he was lost.

He grumbled loudly as he roughly shoved it back in his bag and got his last water bottle out. He sat on a nearby trunk to drink, taking a five-minute break to work out what to do next. He could vaguely make out the direction of the sun, so from that he decided on a direction and promptly face planted on his first step.

The yell he let out surprised even him, but then the pain started, radiating from his ankle and up his leg. He rolled over to look at the damage and almost wished he hadn’t as it was rapidly swelling. He swore loudly and colourfully when he tried to put some weight on it, but it couldn’t support him.

Sighing in defeat he pulled his phone out, but it looked like he had hit it somehow, going by the crack in the screen and that it was refusing to turn on. Stiles barely refrained from throwing it in his anger. He didn’t want to add litterbug to his list of humiliations for the day, or whenever it was he was eventually found.

Over the next ten minutes the swelling increased to the point he had to loosen the shoe some. He didn’t dare take it off, knowing he would never get it back on. If he was going to have any hope of leaving the Preserve, he was going to need both shoes on. Though by this point he was really wishing for a werewolf to be nearby purely for the sheer pain management. Any time he shifted or seemed to move sparked off another wave of pain that brought tears to his eyes.

Stiles swore again as the frustration mounted and he realised how futile his options were. he would have continued his ranting monologue if he didn’t hear the snap of a twig not too far away. The silence that followed was deafening as now there weren’t even the normal sounds of the forest. Only the wind rustling through the trees.

Stiles inwardly cursed, it was typically his luck that he would be killed by a bear or a stupid mountain lion. But when he looked around himself it was to find the biggest black wolf he had ever seen, still partially hidden amongst the bushes.

He spent at least half a minute freaking out that he was about to become the wolf’s dinner that night when he remembered that there were no wolves in this part of California, only werewolves.

“Derek?” Stiles stuttered, looking the massive over, looking for any hint it was him.

The wolf stared at him for another minute as Stiles grew more and more worried. But then the wolf’s eyes flashed a familiar Red and he started walking forward.

“You scared the crap out of me, Sourwolf.” Stiles groused, relaxing back again on the ground. “Did you know your pups have been worried about you? Isaac is out there somewhere trying to find you right now. How could you leave them?”

The wolf huffed, looking away.

“So you’ve been off wolfing around the Preserve all this time, huh?”

The wolf merely sat down in front of him.

“Congratulations, by the way. I wondered if you could do the full transformation or not. And let me tell you, you look much more awesome than Uncle Creeper Wolf ever did.”

The wolf’s tail wagged once through the dirt and leaf strewn forest floor. Stiles snorted at the aborted display of canine happiness. “Yeah, you’re real badass!”

TBC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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