Winds of Change

Winds of Change

Fandom: Harry Potter
Summary: Things are coming to an end in Harry Potter’s life. His job. His marriage. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t new things starting.
Word Count: 10,181
Pairings/Characters: Harry Potter/Ginny Weasley, Pre-Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy, Hermione Granger/Ron Weasley, Arthur Weasley/Molly Weasley. James Sirius Potter, Lily Luna Potter, Albus Severus Potter.
Rating: PG
Content/Warnings: AU of Cursed Child, Bad Ginny Weasley, Divorce, Implied/Referenced Dubious Consent, Potions Used Against Someone’s Will.

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Evil Author Day – 2018

Howdy everyone and welcome to another year of Evil Author Day. As always, I make no guarantees that any of these will be completed and/or posted anytime in the near or far future, but these are some of the stories I have been working on.

This past year, I have started to plot a whole lot more than the pantsing that I have done over the last ten odd years, meaning there aren’t as many new projects I had to choose from to use for EAD this year. I can’t guarantee a whole lot in the future either for the same reason.

Hope you enjoy these, and thanks for reading!

This year’s offerings:

Title: A Third Side, pt 3

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 offerings in 2016 and 2017. You should really read those first.

Part 1  |  Part 2

___________________

Title: Children of the Ancients

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Harry Potter

Word Count: ~23,000

Primary Pairings/Characters: Future Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy

Rating: PG-13 

Content/Warnings: Canon level violence, language, discussion of abuse with the Dursleys

Summary: Following the events of the TriWizard Tournament, Harry is left angry and to his own devices for the summer. A chance discovery of the manipulations around him lead to a few changes in Harry’s life and a new plan for the future.

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

___________________

Title: Thanks, Trump

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Teen Wolf

Word Count: ~4,000

Primary Pairings/Characters: Stiles Stilinski/Derek Hale

Rating: PG-13 so far

Content/Warnings: Canon level violence, language, dealing with the End of the World

Summary: TEOTWAWKI – The End of the World As We Know It

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

A/N: If you want to bitch about the mention of Trump in the title, or in any way want to bring politics into my comments section: Don’t. They will be laughed at, then deleted.

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EAD – 2018 – A Third Side – Pt 3

 

Title: A Third Side, pt 3

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Harry Potter

Word Count: ~10,000

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 offerings in 2016 and 2017. You should really read that first.

Part 1  |  Part 2

Part 3 Continue reading

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EAD 2018 – Children of the Ancients

Title: Children of the Ancients

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Harry Potter

Word Count: ~23,000

Primary Pairings/Characters: Future Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy

Rating: PG-13 

Content/Warnings: Canon level violence, language, discussion of abuse with the Dursleys

Summary: Following the events of the TriWizard Tournament, Harry is left angry and to his own devices for the summer. A chance discovery of the manipulations around him led to a few changes in Harry’s life and a new plan for the future.

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

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EAD 2018 – Thanks, Trump

Title: Thanks, Trump

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Teen Wolf

Word Count: ~4,000

Primary Pairings/Characters: Stiles Stilinski/Derek Hale

Rating: PG-13 so far

Content/Warnings: Canon level violence, language, dealing with the End of the World

Summary: TEOTWAWKI – The End of the World As We Know It

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

A/N: If you want to bitch about the mention of Trump in the title, or in any way want to bring politics into my comments section: Don’t. They will be laughed at, then deleted.

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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.

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