Title: A Third Side
Author: Anthea Davis
Fandom: Harry Potter
Word Count: ~21,000
Primary Pairings/Characters: Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy. Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy, Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood, Pansy Parkinson, Susan Bones, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape,
Rating: NC-17. This section, PG-13
Content/Warnings: Canon level violence; discussion of warfare; Ron Bashing; Weasley bashing in general; Ron is a lazy, no good, bad friend; Pagan elements in magic; Harry has rage issues.
Summary: Magic is dying, and the Pureblood Traditions aren’t helping. Perhaps it’s time to go back to an even older Tradition.
Beta: None. Casual spell check. No Bitching.
Author Note: ignore the fact that technically speaking, Harry Potter took place in the 90’s. Timelines have been moved around for the Author’s own satisfaction.
Harry glared at the four walls that surrounded him in the smallest bedroom of Number 4 Privet Drive. He glared harder as he thought back to all the things that had happened in the last month that led to killing one of the last remaining links to his parents.
Sirius had been someone who had seemed to truly care how Harry was and wanted him in his life. It was true that Sirius was damaged from his time in Azkaban, and his time spent on the run as Padfoot, but at least he had had someone who had offered him a home with them.
For all that the Weasley’s were a second family, he knew logically that they would happily offer him a home, but it was Dumbledore who would put his foot down and say that it was for Harry’s protection. Harry wondered if Dumbledore knew just what went on inside Number 4 Privet Drive.
Luckily this year, Harry had been largely left to himself so far. He had even heard talk that the Dursley’s might travel for the last month before school started up again. Under better circumstances, Harry would normally even be excited by such a turn of events. But not this time. This time he was just fed up with everyone and everything in the magical world. He hated to see what the Daily Prophet would have to say about him this year. Especially now that Lord Voldemort was officially back.
Harry knew that the final battle would be soon. In fact, he’d probably guess either during his sixth or seventh year at Hogwarts. At least, that’s the way that it would play out if it was some kind of blockbuster movie. But he also knew that he needed more training than he was currently receiving. Not to mention Occlumency.
There were many things that he would change about the year previous, and one of them of course being the Occlumency lessons with Professor Snape. Harry wondered why Professor Dumbledore had insisted on classes with the Potions Master, knowing Harry’s relationship with the man to be tenuous at best. He knew now that he should have been the bigger man, and not fallen for Snape’s taunts. Perhaps he would still have Sirius had that been the case.
Harry sighed as his thoughts flew in circles, as they had been for days. He had written Ron and Hermione earlier in the month and was still awaiting replies. He tried not to be jealous of their freedom, but he couldn’t help being so. No matter how mature he felt right now, he was still a teenager, and the confinement chaffed. Made all the worse by the Dursley’s.
He wanted someone to talk to he realised, one day in early August. The anger he felt towards many in the Wizarding World he realised was something destructive. And no matter how old or not he grew, he did not want to turn bitter. He never wanted to be so apathetic that he could ignore the grievous neglect and destruction that was so prevalent in the world. If he was to have any hope of saving the Magical World, he had to make sure he still cared enough about it.
He sent another letter to Hermione and Ron, as he tried to express himself in these letters, though he was loath to do so, knowing that Ron would probably scoff at things whilst Hermione would don her “Judgement and Lecture” Cap.
He felt guilty a few days later when, he remembered another friend that had stood by him for so many years. Though a little unconventional, he knew that Dobby would be there for him.
“Master Harry calls Dobby, sir?” Dobby said quite eagerly, his face in a happy eager grin.
“Hey Dobby, how are you?” Harry asked tiredly. He didn’t realise just how tired he was until he finally started moving about again.
“Dobby is well, Master Harry. What can Dobby do for Master Harry?” Dobby shivered in eager excitement.
“I was wondering if we could talk.” Harry said awkwardly. Now that Dobby was before him, he wondered if the House Elf would allow him to have such an equal friendship that allowed the two of them to speak openly.
“Master Harry wants to just talk to Dobby?” Dobby said, sounding both excited, and nervous.
“Yeah. I was wondering if I could get your opinion of some things in the magical world.” Harry started.
“Master Harry wants Dobby’s opinion? Oh, Dobby is such a lucky House Elf, to have a Master ask him for his opinion!” Dobby said tearily, but he still sat down on Harry’s bed, prepared to listen to him.
And so Harry told him all about what had happened that previous year. About the DA, Professor Umbridge, Professor Snape, and Voldemort. When Harry told him about what had happened at the Ministry, Dobby had cried quietly, the tears running down his face as he listened in silence.
“Dobby is sorry that Sirius Black has fallen.” Dobby said softly once Harry had finished.
“I miss him, you know. I’m not sure how I can miss him. I barely knew him. But I do.” Harry said softly, tears of his own rolling down his face for the first time all summer.
“Perhaps Master Harry also mourns the future possibilities of Mr Black represented,” Dobby said softly in return, watching nervously for Harry’s reaction.
“Yeah. I think that’s a good part of the reason too. Were he still alive, he might have been able to get me to Number 12 Grimmauld Place earlier. As it is, I’m not sure what’s going to happen for the rest of the summer.” Harry finally voiced one of his biggest concerns: being left here to his own devices.
“Master Harry has his Dobby now. Dobby will look after Master Harry.”
Talking to Dobby was surprisingly helpful, Harry found, as the House Elf was surprisingly insightful and observant. He was still saddened by the events of his Fifth year, but now, Harry felt like he no longer held him down. It meant that, with all his free time still available, he began to think of the future.
He still wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life, assuming he survived the final battle with Lord Voldemort. He had thought that he wanted to be an Auror, but doing what he did now, for the rest of his working life was coming to be not all that appealing. He knew himself to be good at Quidditch, but again, he hated the fame now, suppose he became a world famous player like Viktor Crum. The unwanted fame would certainly outweigh any enjoyment he had in the game to begin with.
And so he began to think of all the possible careers that made up the Magical World. It surprised him went he couldn’t think of all that many, and most of them is wasn’t sure he would even be qualified for once he had finished his schooling at Hogwarts.
Dobby was once again a hive of information.
“Dobby knows that there some Colleges for greater magics, ones that are for specific kinds of magics. Perhaps Master Harry will find out this year? Or maybe Dobby can get books on what Master Harry wants to know about?” Dobby said, standing up hand out ready to snap his fingers and pop away to another location.
“That might actually be a good idea. I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to go to Diagon Alley. Would you mind going and getting some books for me? Or do you know if there is a catalogue or something?” Harry wondered, having never really shopped in the wizarding world apart from the times he had gone with Hagrid or the Weasley’s.
“Master Harry’s Dobby can buy him books. Can buy him books on any topic Master Harry wants. Dobby can make a list.” Dobby said eagerly, snapping his fingers and conjuring a quill and some paper.
Harry gave him a list and the key to his vault.
So he was surprised when Dobby ‘pop’ed back several hours later, for him to be ladden down with bags.
“Dobby hopes that Master Harry will not be mad at his Dobby, but Dobby took the liberty to buy some other things for Master Harry.”
And so he had.
He was the proud new owner of an entire wardrobe of clothing. As well as things that he had seen and wondered about in all his travels through the wizarding world, and what he had seen others use whilst at Hogwarts.
He had a new personal trunk for all his clothing to go in. He could see that it had many different compartments in it, some hidden and some not. He now had a wand holster that attached to his arm (no more stuffing it down his pants and accidentally magic-ing his arse, as Mrs Weasley had always warned them); a new book bag that could replace his old, stained and falling apart napsack that he had stolen from Dudley, and then there were the books. So many that Harry seriously began to think that perhaps he should start his own library.
“Master Harry is not mad at his Dobby, is he?” Dobby said meekly, looking up at Harry from between the hands that covered his face.
“Dobby… I….” Harry stopped, finding himself lost for words. “No. Dobby not at all. This is amazing.”
“Master Harry is not upset with his Dobby?” the elf confirmed, sounding more confident.
“This is amazing, Dobby.” Harry sat down to look, wondering where to start.
“Dobby did not want to see his Master Harry not have what he needed. Master Harry needs to start taking care of himself. Dobby will make sure. Is Dobby’s place to help Master Harry.” Dobby said, setting to work putting all the new things away in the trunk. “Though, Dobby thinks he did not get a big enough trunk for all of Master Harry’s books.”
Harry could not help but laugh.
For the rest of the Summer Harry read. If he didn’t already have glasses, he was fairly sure he would have needed them by the time he returned back to Hogwarts. He was much more confident in his subjects now, having reread the course material as well as supplemental studies on magic history and the more everyday magic that most Magic born witches and wizards were raised around. He just hoped that it made a difference in his subjects.
Because after all the subjects that he had had a chance to read about, it was warding and spell craft which had intrigued him the most. Both topics of which required O’s to even think about getting into Smethwyck College, Europe’s leading college specialising in these fields.
Having not heard anything all summer however, he was surprised to have a visitor two days before he was due to depart Number 4 Privet Drive. All his letters had gone unanswered, something which Dobby had had a hard time keeping Harry calm about. So he was surprised when Auror’s Tonks and Shacklebolt knocked on his door.
The Dursley’s had long been gone, leaving the house blessedly empty to Harry under the proviso that he not mess the place up, nor do anything freaky around the house. Something they knew he could not do anyway after the previous year’s fiasco of a Trial at the Ministry.
“Is everything alright Harry? We’ve not heard from you all Summer! You never answered the letters from the Weasley’s.” Tonks said with a worried frown. Shacklebolt too looked serious.
Harry tried not to sound belligerent, he really did. “And it took you until now to finally investigate?”
“Dumbledore insisted you were fine. The wards were intact and Mrs Figg had reported that nothing had happened that would say to the contrary.” Shacklebolt said with a wince.
Harry just sighed. Of course Dumbledore would have said everything was fine, and everyone in The Order would have taken him at his word.
“We sent you a letter too, saying that we would be picking you up today to do your school shopping and dropping you back at Grimmauld Place with the Weasley’s ready for the new school year. You didn’t reply to that one either.” Tonks said, confusion written all over her face.
“That’s because I never received any letters. I sent them all right, but I never got one letter the entire summer. I thought all you lot had forgotten about me.” Harry admitted heatedly. He winced that he sounded a bit overemotional, but it had crossed his mind more than once that he had in actual fact been forgotten about.
“NO Harry!!! Not at all!! Hermione was very worried that you had not replied to her letters. Do you mean to say you didn’t even get your Hogwarts letter with your book list?” Tonks asked, still sounding worried, but now sounding like a professional Auror about to embark on an investigation.
“No, I received that one. But nothing else.” Harry sounded worried now too, as it was becoming evident that someone had been messing with his mail. “Dobby!”
“Yes Master Harry?” Dobby said, eyeing the two Auror’s warily.
“Do you know anything about my mail? Tonks says that I had letters sent to me but I’ve not received any.” Harry didn’t want to accuse the House Elf, but then, it wouldn’t be the first time Dobby had done such a thing.
“No, Master Harry. Dobby has not touched Master Harry’s mail at all.” Dobby said solemnly.
“Could something have happened to Hedwig perhaps?” Harry asked, trying to think the problem through. “Has the wards changed at all this year that may have prevented mail form coming or going?”
“Not to our knowledge,” Shacklebolt said with a frown. “We aren’t familiar with the exact wards that are placed on the house, but it is a possibility.”
Harry sighed, “Well, I suppose that can be something to think about later. Do we need to leave soon?”
“We should.” Tonks admitted, casting a quiet tempus. “Dumbledore asked that we bring you back to Grimmauld Place no later than three in the afternoon. There is an order meeting that he wants you there for.”
Harry held back the shock that arose in him at hearing he was actually WANTED in an Order meeting. Though, he did not forget himself and for one second think that he would have any say in said meeting.
“Alright, I’ll quickly pack up and be back as soon as I can. Help yourselves to a drink form the fridge.”
Harry ran back up the stairs to find Dobby already packing for Harry, still mumbling about new trunks.
“It’s alright Dobby, perhaps we can get one today whilst we’re shopping,” Harry advised, a hand settled on the Elf’s shoulder to settle him down.
“Master Harry, can Dobby talk to Master Harry about something?” Dobby asked, stepping away from the packing to look up at Harry.
“Of course, Dobby,” Harry said, sitting down on the bed to give the Elf his full attention.
“Dobby has not been truthful with Master Harry. Dobby has kept a secret from Master Harry and Dobby feels bad about it. Dobby thinks Master Harry should know.” Dobby said, looking up at Harry in earnest, his large eyes conveying sorrow.
“I won’t be angry Dobby, not unless you’re Voldemort incarnate, and even then, I think I would be more confused than angry.” Harry tried for levity, and succeeded when Dobby tried to suppress a quick hiccup of a laugh.
“Dobby has never been a free elf.”
“What do you mean, Dobby. When I freed you from Mr Malfoy in second year, what happened?” Harry asked, curiosity piqued.
“Master Harry only transferred Dobby’s bond from Bad Master Malfoy to Master Harry himself. Dobby was not sure what Master Harry would think. And then Miss Grangy started her S.P.E.W. Campaign and poor Dobby did not want to disappoint Master Harry.”
Harry was surprised by that turn of events. Though the fact that Dobby had been calling him Master should probably have clued him in.
“Don’t you want to be free, Dobby? Be your own elf.” Harry asked, honestly confused.
“If Master Harry wishes it, then Dobby will go free. But Master Harry, Dobby doesn’t want to be free. Bad things happen to House Elves that have no Master. They looses their magics and die.” Dobby said softly, clearly upset.
“Then all the House Elves at Hogwarts, did they….” Harry was almost too afraid to ask. After all the knitted items that Hermione had left around the Gryffindor Common rooms for the elves to find, it could very well be a wonder that Hogwarts would have any House Elves at all.
“No, the only person who can release Hogwarts Elves is Professor Dumblydore. Only Master of House can dismiss House Elves.”
“So Mister Malfoy actually released you to me then,” Harry mused in wonder.
“Not quite. Dobby broke his Family Bond with Bad Master Malfoy. Dobby could have died, but Dobby could not watch Master Harry get hurt.”
This time Harry did sit back in shock. “You risked your magic and your life to help me.”
“Dobby looks after his Master Harry.” Dobby said proudly.
“I never knew. Thank you Dobby. Thank you very much.” Harry had to breathe deeply to hold the tears at bay. Even the idea that someone was willing to come between him and danger was a heady thought, considering the rest of the Magical World was waiting for him to finally play the Sacrificial Lamb Card and get the war over with.
“So Dobby will not be freed? Please don’t free Dobby.” Dobby asked, ears quivering in fear.
“No, I’d never free you unless you asked me Dobby.” Harry said resolutely. “You’ll tell me, won’t you, when you want to be freed? I want you to be happy. If you can find that with another Master, tell me.”
Dobby just nodded, not daring to speak.
“Is there anything I need to do to solidify my side of the bond?”
“Dobby needs to swear on his magics to serve Master Harry’s family. Mast Harry needs to take out his wand.” Dobby instructed, then placing his finger on the tip of the wand he said, “Dobby swears by his magics to honor and serve Harry Potter’s family in thought, word and deed, for as long as the Potter family exist, so mote it be.”
At Dobby’s final word, the wand tip lit up under Dobby’s finger, lighting up the whole room as a wave of gold tinged magic settled around them, absorbing into their skin. Where it had touched the pillow case that Dobby wore, a brand new outfit was transformed, proudly displaying the Potter Crest, a Gryffin rampant with two wands crossed, on the pocket of his new outfit, all of which was made of a luxurious tea towel.
What was the most amazing was that Harry could feel it now, the teether to his magic that was his bond. It was a bright gold against his silver magical core, and it was strong and pulsed with life.
“Dobby will always serve Master Harry’s family now.” Dobby said proudly. Harry could only smile bemused.
“You ARE my family, Dobby.”
He was surprised when seconds later Tonks and Shacklebolt crashed into the room, wands drawn looking for danger. Upon sighting Harry and Dobby sitting on the bed, they partially lowered their wands.
“Are you okay? What just happened?” Shacklebolt demanded, worry lacing his tone.
“I accepted the bond that Dobby offered,” Harry explained, watching as Dobby quickly jumped up and resumed packing everything. Moments later, everything was ready to go.
“The Familial House Elf bond?” Tonks questioned, stepping further into the room whilst Shacklebolt stepped back and kept a watch out in the hallway.
“Yes Miss Tonks,” Dobby said, snapping his fingers to shrink the trunks for Harry to put in his pockets.
“I’ve never known a House Elf to attach himself to just one wizard. I thought it wasn’t enough magic to support them.” Tonks said in wonder.
“My Master Harry has more than enough magics to support me. And Master Harry will have a family one day, and Dobby will serve them just as he served his Master.” Dobby said proudly.
“Harry is very lucky to have someone as loyal as you,” She said with a smile. “We’d best get going, or we’ll be late.”
Which is how Harry found himself in Diagon Alley at lunch time, fighting the crowds towards Gringotts.
Harry accompanied Tonks as they merrily made their way safely inside, whilst Shacklebolt loitered outside, watching at a distance as he had been since arriving at the Alley.
Dobby quickly produced Harry’s key when they approached the next available goblin teller. When the key was passed over, the goblin inserted it into a device in the desk. The Goblin was about to say something to Harry when a loud buzzing noise started from the device filled the air like an alarm. Immediately the goblin stood up as another goblin took its place, frowning down at Harry who looked on in alarm.
Harry waited awkwardly for the goblin to continue. When it didn’t, Harry didn’t know what to say.
“A summons was sent on the 31st of July. This was not answered.” The goblin’s frown turned into a glare as it continued to watch Harry.
“I’m sorry, sir, but I never received any missives from Gringotts. It has been brought to my attention today that there is other important mail that I have missed as well. I do apologise. I’m available now if the whoever sent the summons is available. Otherwise I would be happy to make another time right now in person.”
“The matter is urgent. We would speak with you now. Come with me.” The goblin said, only slightly less of a glare being directed his way.
Tonks followed Harry through the bank, down a few corridors that started to look more and more like the dungeons at Hogwarts than the pristine walls Gringotts was known for. They came to a door which was opened before Harry and Dobby, but was barred to the Auror.
“Harry?” Tonks said, voice uneasy.
“I’m sorry Tonks, but I think it’s supposed to be a private meeting. I will be quite safe, I think.” Harry reassured, growing more curious.
“Mr Potter will not be harmed.” The Goblin said, and slammed the door in her face.
Harry stiffled a giggle, turning into the room and waiting for the Goblin’s lead.
The office was gloomy and filled with many a gold inlaid item. The armour that stood in the corner of the room was of a goblin size, which seemed to fascinate Harry. There were precious jewels that were inlaid like a crown around the helmet. Taking a moment to think on that, Harry began to look at the Goblin before him in a new light.
With a bang, a large book was deposited on the large ornately wooden desk. The goblin began leafing through it until he came to half way and left it open to look at Harry.
“Mr Potter, your inheritance was supposed to be transferred on the 31st of July, the minimum age for Familial Magics to be passed the Family Patriarch.”
“I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware of such a thing.” Harry said, honestly not knowing what was happening right now.
“The Potter family has spanned several thousand years, that you are unaware of your legacy is worrying. Has no one instructed you on your personal history?”
“No, the only family that I am aware of are Muggle, and detest magic. And I’ve not heard mention of anything to do with family magic at Hogwarts.”
“Useless school,” he said derisively. “I suppose you have no idea who I am, nor the reason for our meeting.” the Goblin snorted. With a flick of his gnarly hand, several books and a parchment were placed on the desk before Harry. Harry took the seat before the desk after the Goblin motioned he should.
“I am Gnarltooth, King of the Western Goblins, and CEO of this Bank. The Potter Family was our first clients, when Gringotts first began in 874BC by Gringott. Gringott swore an oath with Lord Potter that goblins would always serve the Potter family and keep their wealth both safe and plentiful, in return for the Potter Patronage. Each patriarch has upheld this oath throughout the ages. It is now your turn to decide if you wish to honour this oath and continue our mutual agreement.”
Harry nodded, glancing at Dobby who was watching the proceedings with wide eyed amazement.
“What would my Patronage entail?” Harry asked, ignoring the material before him to listen to Gnarltooth.
“You would represent us in any wizarding politics, and within the Ministry should it be required. We may also call on you should any Goblin politics require it.”
“You mean war,” Harry said bluntly, but not with any malice.
“Should it come to it, yes.” Gnarltooth acknowledge openly.
“I agree to the terms.” Harry said.
Gnarltooth grinned maliciously, “Very well, then. As to the matter of your inheritance. The Potter vaults shall now be made available to you, as well as any other holdings that have been held in trust.”
The goblin pulled a different book from the pile that was before Harry and opened it to the first page.
“The Potter Ledgers, interests, and properties.”
Harry looked down at the summary, and had to blink several times. Oh but the Dursley would be jealous had they known.
Harry swallowed and looked up.
Gnarltooth’s vicious grin grew, “As you can see, we have upheld our oath.”
The goblin closed the book again and withdrew a dagger from an ornate sheath that had been displayed on the desk.
“Blood will seal the oath between us. But first, you must be patriarch of the Potters. For that, we present you with the Patriarch ring.”
The ring presented to him was old, Harry could tell, and the magic held therein was ancient. A large ruby was the main feature, surrounded by a Celtic knots made of platinum.
“This ring, once put on, will seal the family magics to you, and act as both a symbol of distinction in your new station, as well, as the family seal for any official mail that would require it.”
The ring was slid across the desk, still resting in the box it had been stored in. Harry stared a moment, taking stock of what he was about to do. With a deep breath, Harry picked up the ring from the box, a wind picking up in the room as magic was unleashed from the ring’s confines seeking to settle on Harry. Once Harry slid it on to his finger, the magic swept into his chest with such force it pushed him back into the chair. For what seemed hours, magic surged into him seeming to fill his body till he thought he would explode from it. A flash from the ring seemed to signal the end of it, transforming the ring into a simple braided band of platinum.
He was glad for it actually, has he wasn’t all too keen on having to wear such a large and dare he say gaudy ring.
For the next few moments, Harry tried to catch his breath again, trying to find a comfortable spot where the magic could settle. Finally his body seemed to accept the Familal connection, and everything seemed to settle.
Across from him, Gnarltooth watched him intently, the vicious smile back again now that Harry was settled once more. “Magic has gifted you well, Lord Potter. Lord Voldemort would do well to tread carefully by you now.”
Gnarltooth withdrew the dagger from its sheath and slit his own palm before presenting the dagger to Harry handle first.
Harry decisively slashed his own palm, before he could think about the fact that he was purposefully cutting himself and change his mind. They both held their fists above the book, allowing several drops to fall on to the front cover. The blood was absorbed into the book without a trace, before the goblin held out his hand to Harry. Harry took the extended hand, Muggle worries about sanitation and blood diseases being quashed in the back of his mind as a white light flashed around their hands, sealing the oath between them. When Harry withdrew his hand, there was not even so much as a scar from where the slash had been, nor even a drop of blood.
“We thank you for your Patronage, Lord Potter.” Gnarltooth said with an air of formality.
“And I thank you for your loyalty.” Harry replied.
With a nod, Gnarltooth pushed the books and parchment to the side and looked directly at Harry with an even more serious look than he had the entire meeting.
“Most wizards are not aware that Seers exist in other magical species, thinking themselves quite superior. Goblin Seers are a secret held sacred in the Goblin Clans, and are treasured more than all the Gold in the world. One such Seer is my sister, Torbane. She has instructed me to share with you a vision.”
Gnarltooth produced a small rolled up piece of parchment held together with a simple piece of twine. Harry took the parchment, and slowly undid the tie, allowing the parchment to unfurl and a gravelly feminine voice to speak.
**Insert Prophecy including a pagan spin, destruction and renewel of the old ways and a resurgence of magic Here****
Harry sat back in awe, once again at a loss for words.
“It seems we have much to look forward to, Lord Potter. It is not an easy task that fate has placed before you.”
“You’re telling me,” Harry blew out a breath, half a laugh escaping him, daunted at what the future might hold.
“That concludes our business, Lord Potter, unless there is anything you wish to discuss.” Gnarltooth said. Dobby took that as his cue to collect the books and scrolls and store them safely on Harry’s behalf.
“There is one question that I would ask,” Harry said, voicing a question that had been niggling at him since the meeting had first begun on the Oath. “What is Gringott’s position on the war with Lord Voldemort?”
“We are neutral in this war, unless you should ask for our aid.” Gnarltooth said, a gleam coming to his eye at the very mention of War.
“Then I thank you for your time. May your coffers always overflow, and your enemies curse your good fortune.” Harry said, glad that he had had Dobby include books on social etiquette in the Magical World when he had gone shopping. He could see that Gnarltooth seemed to have a grudging sense of pride or satisfaction that Harry had known of the formal language required.
“And may you bathe in the blood of your enemies, and your vaults always be full.” Gnarltooth returned, standing and showing Harry to the door.
Outside, both Tonks and Shacklebolt were anxiously waiting, relief on their faces as soon as Harry stepped out into the corridor.
“Grapleknot will take you to your vaults now, for any withdrawals you wish to make, Lord Potter.”
“Thank you for your time today, Gnarltooth.” Harry said with an incline of his head, before the goblin strode away. Moments later, another older looking Goblin was waiting just up the corridor.
“Gnarltooth?!” Shacklebolt said in shock and in horror as he Tonks seemed to go pale.
“Lord?” Tonks asked after a moment in confusion.
“Yes, Lord Potter.” Harry said, emotions finally coming back to the fore after having with held them from the meeting. “Someone has a lot of explaining to do.” Harry said darkly, striding down the corridor towards Grapleknot.
They barely made it back to Number 12 Grimmauld place at the time stipulated by Dumbledore. They had spent a very brief hour getting as much shopping in as possible for Harry’s school supplies for the coming year, along with the other things that Dobby had said they needed to get, including a new library trunk. Harry couldn’t wait for some time alone to investigate the ladder that he had only managed to glimpse that led down into the bowels of the trunk, before Shacklebolt had hurried them along.
Harry stumbled out of the Floo into a small sitting room that he had not been in before, Ron and Hermione sitting on the small settee waiting for him. He had only to wait a second before he was engulfed in a full body hug from Hermione, whilst Ron awkwardly held on to his arm.
“Where have you been mate? You never answered our letters!” Ron said, a worried frown on his face.
“I’m so glad to see the both of you,” Harry admitted, hugging Hermione to him tightly before releasing her. “There was something wrong this summer with the mail. My letters weren’t getting out and no letters were coming in.”
“Oh Harry!!” Hermione sobbed, quickly hugging him tightly again before taking a decisive step back and sniffling back her tears. “Are you alright? How was your summer? Were the Dursley’s any trouble this year?”
“Would you believe they’ve been on holidays for the last three weeks,” Harry said with a laugh, Hermione laughing wetly.
“Alright!!” Ron said, high fiving Harry.
Behind them Tonks and Shacklebolt shuffled out of the Floo and through the room and beyond, where he could hear people talking. Moments later, Mrs Weasley popped her head around the door.
“Welcome back, Harry dear! Come on through, the meeting is about to start.”
They were all gathered in the Kitchen, Kreacher luckily nowhere to be seen. Harry wasn’t sure he would be able to keep himself from hexing the little bastard should he see him. Mrs Weasley was still bustling about the Kitchen as everyone sat down at the table. Harry, Hermione and Ron filling up a corner spot next to the twins and Charlie. At the other end, Harry could see Dumbledore talking quietly with Professor Snape, Professor McGonagall and Shacklebolt.
After a moment, Professor Dumbledore glanced at him with an assessing look, before turning back and continuing their quiet discussion.
Harry wasn’t sure he liked the look he had received, and wondered not for the first time that perhaps Professor Dumbledore had been keeping things from him for his own purposes. It wouldn’t have been the first time that it had been the case.
Another ten minutes later and the meeting still had yet to start, but Harry now had a large plate of sandwiches in front of him, along with a steaming cup of tea, courtesy of Dobby, as he never did get a chance to have lunch.
“Is this always how meetings go,” Harry asked Hermione quietly, the witch rolled her eyes.
“One meeting, they never even discussed anything. It was like Dumbledore forgot why we were even here. Everyone was just chatting for over an hour before Dumbledore got up and left, saying he had projects needing his attention at Hogwarts.” Hermione replied, tone resigned. “Are you alright Harry? I can’t imagine you had a very good holiday, not having anyone to talk to about what happened.”
Harry sighed. “I had Dobby.”
“Really?” Hermione said with a smile. “I’m glad.”
“Though, there is something that I need to talk to you about, in regards to S.P.E.W.” Harry said, knowing he couldn’t let Hermione go with her crusade, as he would only alienate the House Elf community.
“After the meeting?” Hermione asked, and Harry nodded.
It was a further twenty minutes after that before Professor Dumbledore finished his private conversation with Arthur Weasley, and turned to the rest of the assembled witches and wizards, a throat being cleared bringing everyone’s attention to the meeting.
“Thank you for coming everyone,” Dumbledore began. “We only have a few things to discuss today. Severus brings us news that Voldemort is only now moving his forces, having spent the summer lying low. The Ministry has yet to take any decisive action against this threat, aside from rostering the Aurors in public places. This means we ourselves must be vigilant.”
“The Dark Lord has advised that he plans to expand his forces.” Severus continued, “He is now actively recruiting to his cause, he is releasing information that the Ministry has foolishly kept secret that Magic is being diluted. He is using the Muggleborns and half-bloods to further the propaganda in his plans. It is working.”
Professor Snape sat down again, the whole room muttering quite loudly amongst themselves.
Harry himself was quiet, thinking about this revelation. He wanted to think that it was ridiculous, but he knew a little bit about genetics from his Muggle Primary School science class. It in actual fact would not surprise him at all, and judging by the look on Professor Snape’s face at hearing the comments from around the room, it might just have some facts behind it.
Hermione beside him, he could see, had sat back in her chair and was chewing her lip. He knew that she would be lost to her books soon after the meeting finished.
“That’s just bullshit,” Ron said, a snarl on his face. “Like Magic could just disappear like that. I can’t believe anyone could be so stupid.”
Harry and Hermione could only look at each other.
“Yes, indeed it is a preposterous claim,” Dumbledore said, and Harry watched as Professor Snape’s head snapped around to stare at the Headmaster in disbelief, “But regardless of any claim that he might make, there will always be those who will fall for it out of fear. It is our role to keep the members of our society safe and informed. So I ask that all of you refute this information when presented to you.”
Harry watched as Snape seemed to blank his face of all emotion or reaction.
“As to our next matter, I have discussed with many of you separately your concerns in regards to the magical creatures that could possibly side with Voldemort should an actual war be waged. In light of this, many of you will receive packages over the next few days with assignments. Charlie, I ask you to look out for the Dragons. Should even one be captured, the damage it could wreak would be devastating. Bill, during your work with Gringotts, could you possibly ascertain the Goblin position on the coming war. Remus, if you could reach out to the werewolf colonies.”
Dumbledore continued for another few minutes, listing all sorts of species. Harry wondered just how long it would be, before the Order discovered the Oath he had with the Goblins.
“Finally, this year at Hogwarts, we are lucky enough to have secured a new Professor in the Defense Against the Dark Arts position. However, it is not someone who will be attending Order meetings. He is a notable practitioner from the Americas, but has said he wishes to remain out of the war. We must respect his decisions.
“So remember, be vigilant where ever you go. Look out for anything that does not look right. And should anyone ask you about these foolish rumours, remind them that Grindlewald is seeking to weaken our resolve by any means. Advise them no such report exists, and nothing will damage the future generations of witches and wizards like he suggests. Good afternoon everyone.”
Chatter rose up in the room, as everyone stood to go about their business.
Harry took advantage of the moment to quickly stride over to the Potions Master.
“Sir?” Harry asked, keeping his tone respectful, knowing that Snape wouldn’t be so.
“Potter.” The man snarled, barely looking at him as he gathered his things ready to leave.
“What Dumbledore said about the rumour on magic. That’s possible isn’t?” Harry said quickly, only just noticing Hermione behind him. Luckily Ron was over with the twins.
Snape said nothing for a few moments and Harry knew he was questioning whether he should say something or not.
“Genetics says that it is possible,” Hermione urged quietly.
“How come the Ministry hasn’t said anything then?” Harry returned.
“Because Fudge is an ignoramus happy to bury his head in the sand,” Snape finally admitted tersely.
“So Dumbledore is keeping the Ministry’s secrets then, to stop Voldemort,” Hermione asked for clarification.
“Before this meeting, I would have said Professor Dumbledore would never have agreed to suppress such important information.” Snape gathered his travel cloak to put on.
“He mentioned Grindlewald, too,” Hermione pressed.
“A mistake, I’m sure.”
Harry looked around the room at the people gathered around the table, Mrs Weasley back to bustling in the kitchen preparing drinks and snacks. His mind jumped, wanting to ask where Sirius was, until he remembered again. Dobby beside him just patted his arm, seeming to know where Harry’s thoughts had turned.
“You missed the best Quidditch final this year, mate,” Ron said enthusiastically. “West Ham vs. Anglesey. The match lasted four and a half days! It was amazing!!”
“Sounds it!” Harry tried to put enthusiasm into it, but it was hard.
“So you had a pretty quiet summer then. What happened to all the letters I wonder. It’s weird that you couldn’t send letters, as well as receive.”
“There’s nothing wrong with Hedwig, is there?” Hermione asked.
“No, Dobby checked her and found no charms or hexes on her that shouldn’t be there. I wonder if it was some kind of warding on the house, though. Not that I plan to go back.”
“What do you mean? I thought you would need to go back next summer to maintain the wards so Voldemort couldn’t find you.” Hermione asked curiously.
“I don’t care about the wards. I’m never going back to that house if I can help it. And whilst I was at Gringotts, I received the Potter Family Magics.”
“So you’re the Patriarch, are you?” Ron said with a frown. Harry could only sigh.
“Yeah, I am.”
“Heh. Where’s the signet ring then?” Ron snorted.
Harry held out his right hand, showing the platinum band.
“That’s it? Hah!! The Weasley family ring is bigger than that,” Ron boasted with a nasty grin.
Before their eyes, the ring shimmered and transformed to the, in Harry’s opinion, gaudy ring, though Harry could tell this time seeing it, it didn’t quite look so tarnished any more. Now the Platinum looked as if it had been buffed, and the large ruby gleamed in the light of the room.
The wonders of magic, Harry huffed, both at its reappearance and its reacting to his magic.
Harry was the one that wanted to snort now, watching as Ron’s face showcased his changing emotions. In seconds, he went from smug, to startled, to envious. Funnily enough he kept his mouth shut.
“What does it mean Harry?” Hermione asked, peering at the ring.
“I’m not too sure. I’ve not had a chance to read through the information the Goblins gave me.”
He wasn’t sure why, but he wanted to keep the Goblin Oath on the quiet for the time being. He wasn’t sure on Hermione and Ron’s reactions to that piece of news.
“Master Harry comes from old and Noble Family. He has Titled lands given to him from King Arthur Pendragon. He will also have a seat in the Wizengamont. If Master Harry was not already the Boy Who Lived, he would still be very important now he is turned sixteen.” Dobby informed them.
“So now you’ll be able to rub shoulders with the elite’s, huh.” Ron said darkly.
“Hardly!!” Harry did snort that time. “Why would I want to do that? When have you ever seen me enjoy the spotlight Ron?”
“You should know that Ron. Remember the TriWizard Tournament.” Hermione scolded gently.
“No Hermione! He’s going to leave us by the waysides! Now that he’s ‘RICH’ he won’t want to be seen with the likes of us. We’ll be beneath him.” Ron shouted.
Harry struggled to remain calm. Something he had been struggling with all year, all told. But after blowing up Professor Dumbledore’s office, he had been thinking that displaying anger did not achieve anything. It was not to his benefit to chuck a hissy fit, so there was no reason to display it. Ron of course had yet to learn this lesson.
“Ron…” Harry blew out a deep breath nosily. “You guys have been my family, practically since I stepped foot in this world. Not having had a family before this, I hope you guys know how much I treasure your friendship, and when I say that I consider you family, you know that it means a lot to me. I wouldn’t leave ‘My Family’ for any reason, and certainly not something so mundane and petty as money and a title.”
Ron blew out a frustrated sigh. “You don’t know what it’s like to grow up poor, Harry. I’ve dreamed of being rich my whole life. It would be the answer to all my family’s problems.”
“I don’t know what it’s like to grow up poor, Ron. Is that what you just said?” Harry said, this time the anger did roll off him in waves. “So growing up in the Cupboard under the stairs… I could see how that could seem palatial to you. Being regularly abused and neglected… no that must be nowhere near what you’ve suffered. Wearing my whale of a cousin’s old and tattered cast off clothing, when they decided I DESERVED new clothes for the last fourteen years. Being fed once a day, and only then when my Aunt remembered to? No… I have no IDEA what it must have been like to be poor Ron. Please, explain that to me!!” Harry growled, watching as Ron blanched and refused to meet his eye.
When nothing was said after a few minutes, Harry had had enough, and left the room.
The following two days, Harry ignored Ron. Ron made this easy as he seemed to be avoiding Harry.
Harry was fine with that.
Hermione, it seemed had yelled at Ron after Harry had left the room, going by what Dobby had said. Hermione had been keeping him in silent company since. They spent their time in the Library, somewhere they were sure Ron would not venture, and worked on their own projects. Just as Harry thought, Hermione was already on the investigation into the Wizarding world’s understanding in genetics. The Black family library wasn’t that particularly helpful in that respect, so Hermione had to bide her time until they could return to Hogwarts.
Harry started his reading with the books that he had received from Gnarltooth. It was dry reading, but it basically reiterated in an extraordinary amount of detail what Gnarltooth and Dobby had already explained. Though his responsibilities with the Wizengamont sounded daunting, he recognized it for the vehicle that it was. Through that position, it looked like he just might be able to accomplish some of what the Goblin Prophecy had mentioned.
After that, it was back to brushing up on the course work from the previous year.
Harry knew, now that he was a Lord and a Patriarch, things would have to be different. His attitude would have to be different. And that meant that he really had to take his schooling seriously.
On the train, Ron sat with the other boys from Gryffindor, leaving Harry and Hermione in another cabin. Shortly after the train took off, they were joined by Neville, Luna and Ginny.
“How was your summer?” Neville asked everyone carefully, sitting down opposite Harry and Hermione.
“Not too bad Neville,” Harry replied with a small smile. Everyone else chimmed in their agreement. “And you?”
“Yeah. Not too bad. Gran was still a bit angry. But I think she was proud of me too. And I finally got my own wand.” Neville beamed in happiness. “It’s taken some getting used to, but now my magic actually works!”
“That’s fantastic, Neville.” Hermione beamed at him. They were all very aware just what kind of opinion Neville had of himself because of his ability with his Father’s wand.
“I surprisingly had a very good summer,” Luna said, her normal airy voice amused Harry. “The warklesprouts were in full bloom. It means we will have a very fulfilling year, this year.”
“I hope so,” Harry said, wanting to find a way to move on. He was beginning to feel impatient to start this year’s classes, and have something to distract himself with.
It wasn’t until September the 12th that the first indicator of things to come, came to pass.
Hermione received a letter during the evening meal from her parents.
“Oh Merlin, no…” she said softly. Eyes quickly scanning the rest of the letter. A few newspaper clippings had fallen out onto the table.
“Is everything alright, Hermione,” Neville asked from across the table. Since they had been back at school, Neville had seemed to replace Ron for the time being. Ron still refused to look Harry in the eye, and Harry knew that Hermione was still angry at him.
“There’s-,” Hermione started, but her voice broke. “There’s been an attack in the Muggle United States. A terrorist attack.”
“What?” Harry asked sharply.
“There could be another muggle war, Harry.” Hermione said, tears running down her face.
“A Muggle war?” Neville asked, confused.
“Yes, a Muggle war, possibly World War III.”
“World War III,” Neville asked, sounding a lot more worried now.
“There’s been two World War’s so far. Like the name suggests, a good portion of the Muggle countries were involved. The last one was around the time of Grindlwald, so I’m not sure how much of an impact it may or may not have had on the wizarding communities around the world. But this time is much different than the previous wars. This one has the potential for much more widespread damage.”
“Like Muggles could actually attack us,” Ron snorted. “We’ve got wards and stuff that will keep them out.”
“And what about bombs, then?” Hermione said shortly.
“Bombs, you mean like the twins stink bombs?”
“No, I mean bombs that can level buildings for a ten-mile radius.”
“There’s no need to exaggerate, ‘Mione. Muggles just aren’t capable of that kind of damage.” Ron said, turning away from them with a glare.
Hermione turned to Harry.
“Don’t look at me, we didn’t get that far into History in my primary school.” Harry said, holding his hands, trying to placate.
“Muggles are that damn dangerous,” Hermione seethed. “I should know, seeing as I grew up as one.”
She slammed the letter down on the table in a huff.
“Do you mind if I have a read?” Harry pointed to the newspaper clippings.
“Sure,” Hermione said, sitting back in her seat to glare at Ron some more.
The article was just as bad as Harry had imagined. The Twin Towers in America were destroyed. The pentagon attacked. Another flight en route intended for another target. It certainly seemed like the opening volley of a War.
“So, do you think it could affect us, this war, because, you know, not that I’m agreeing with Ron, but I’m sorta agreeing with Ron. I didn’t think they were necessarily a danger.”
“Muggles have had massive leaps in technology in the last forty odd years,” Hermione said huffily. “The bombs I mentioned? They were around in World War II, during the war with Grindlewald. Now, they’ve made bombs that are more destructive, more precise, and even bombs that carry pathogens that won’t just destroy physical sites, but leave chemicals that will infect people who travel to that site for years to come. If the bomb doesn’t kill you, the disease will. I think it would be naive to think that Muggles wouldn’t use that on us if they were to become aware of us on a grand scale.”
The first class the next day was, as it always happened to be, Potions with the Slytherins. Harry and Hermione had spent a good portion of the night before brainstorming between them for the possible dangers that were inherent in any Muggle war. It was scary when the list was a long one.
Since then, Hermione had contacted her parents for her history books from when she had been in Primary School. They had come that morning at breakfast. Hermione had had her head in a book ever since.
Harry had lain awake late into the night thinking over everything that posed a danger to the Magical World. He was drawn short when he found a hole in his knowledge, just what kind of defences did the Magical World have in place? He resolved to get to the library at lunch time and start some research of this own.
He was still making a mental list of all the things he wanted to research when Hermione interrupted his train of thought.
“Harry, I really don’t think the magical world is in any way prepared for the kind of damaged the Muggle world could wreck. The Wizarding world has been so out of touch with the advancements made by the Muggles that I’m not even sure existing wards would even be affective with what the Muggles could throw at us.”
“You mean the nuclear bombs,” Harry said, sitting back from the desk as the thought took root in his mind.
“Yeah.” Hermione said simply. What else was there to say.
Draco Malfoy was quite used to getting his own way. He supposed it was a by-product of his upbringing, but there were drawbacks to living a privileged life. The most pressing of those drawbacks was staring him in the face at present, and was directly in conflict with him always getting his way.
The letter from his Mother (though theu were his Father’s words) contained all the normal drivel in regards to her and his Father’s health, the expectations for Draco’s academic scores (and hadn’t that been galling when Granger had beaten all of his scores, even potions), and best wishes for Draco’s health.
It was the last paragraph of the letter which vexed him.
During Yule holidays, we will be expecting a guest at Malfoy Manor. He is most eager to meet with you and take you under his wing. I trust you will make yourself available during this time to meet with our guest.
Voldemort and his Marking Ceremony.
Draco couldn’t help but shudder at the thought. He had been raised all of his life in the belief that he, as a Malfoy – and the future Patriarch at that- bowed to nothing and no one. That Lucius now expected him to bow before a half-blood maniac was absurd and downright insulting. That Lucius had been doing so for the last few decades was plainly horrifying.
Draco knew that he would not take the step that his Father demanded of him. It simply did not fit in with his plans. Draco had many plans for his future, some were contingent on other plans, others were stand alone, but all required that he be the leader he was born to be.
That wasn’t to say that he disagreed with Voldemort. Not at all. Lord Voldemort had many a good idea for the future of Wizarding kind. It was his methods and goals that Draco disagreed with. If the ‘man’ wasn’t so bloody barmy, Draco would even be tempted to offer a partnership.
He knew it was ridiculous to contemplate Voldemort accepting him as an equal, but a boy could dream.
In the end, Draco kept his reply to his Father vague in details, just as the same man had taught him, and said he would make every effort to be available over Yule, and would confirm closer to the date.
Draco had no intention what so ever of going home. He would work out the details of that plan later on. He dubbed that plan as Project: Avoid Like Hell Fire.
Making his way to breakfast, he was pleased to see the Weasel was still on the outs with the other two-thirds of the Golden Trio. He had no idea why the thoughts gave him such joy, but he happily indulged it.
The Golden Trio seemed to be expanding lately anyway. Longbottom had recently taken the Weasel’s place. He had noted the Weaselette trying in vain to but her way into the tight-knit circle. Seeing the chit rebuffed each time gave him another little jolt of joy as well. He was surprised when Looney Lovegood had started spending more time with them as well, but each to their own.
This morning he could see that it was a sober affair. Perhaps Granger’s feral cat had died. Draco shrugged. It hardly affected him.
Until it did.
He was seated in the station in front of Potter and Granger in Potions, and he had overheard their muttered conversation about Muggle bombs that the Wizarding wards may not be able to protect them from.
Draco wanted to dismiss the idea, thinking ‘what did Granger and Potter know about warding spells anyway’. But the thought stuck in his mind, so much so that he missed Severus sweeping into the room.
“Potter, Granger. Are you ready to begin today’s lesson or would you like another few minutes,” Snape said darkly, making Draco smirk.
“No, Sir,” they both replied sullenly.
“Detention tonight, see me after class.” Snape glared at them a little bit longer, before turning to the board and the lesson.
Draco listened to the Potions Master’s lecture with half an ear, already ascertaining it was a potion he had brewed several times before under Severus’ tutelage in preparation for his apprenticeship. He jotted down the instructions for the homework and slowly cleaned up and collected his things. All the while, the room quickly emptied and Potter and Granger approached the Professor’s desk.
“Detention this evening. I expect to see you in this class room at 7pm sharp.”
“Yes, sir.” Granger said, whilst Potter nodded.
They both sighed heavily as they quickly walked out the room. Severus just raised an eyebrow upon noticing Draco still in the class room.
“Mr Malfoy,” the Potions Master acknowledged.
“Sir, may I sit on this evenings detention?” Snape was about to launch into a rebuff, “No, not like that sir. I overheard something interesting said between them, something which I think bears investigation.”
The Potions Master eyes him critically, “Very well, Mr Malfoy, I will be ten minutes late for the Detention this evening. Use your time wisely.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Lunch time saw Draco missing the meal to spy on Potter and Granger in the library. It was somewhere he expected the Bookworm to be, but he knew Potter barely tolerated the Library at the best of times. This time saw him striding in first.
“Do you know much about warding spells, ‘Mione?” Potter asked, looking around lost at the all the signs and directions on subjects within the library.
Granger prodded him in the right direction, “Not as much as I would currently like, unfortunately. But if you want to start researching that, I’ll keep going with Muggle warfare.”
“You sure you don’t want to swap? You’re usually the wiz with the magical topics.” Potter suggested.
“No, I know you have an interest in wards, besides it would be good practice for you. I’m glad you’re taking a more vested interest in your education.”
“Well, no matter what Ron might think or say, I think my being the Patriarch of the Potters means that I really need to create and maintain a standard. It was stupid to think that I could just cruise through Hogwarts anyway. I don’t know why I wasn’t taking it more seriously.”
“I think it’s a good idea, Harry.”
“Who knows, maybe if I had been more attentive in my studies, I may have prevented what happened at the Ministry. Maybe Sirius might still be alive.” Potter slumped at a nearby desk morosely.
“You can’t think that way Harry. This may sound callous, but it’s in the past. You can’t change it, but you can learn from it. And that is what you are doing now. It might be for different reasons, but you learning. Besides, there were more forces at work creating that event than just your aptitude for studying.” Granger reasoned, surprising Draco.
“You’re right. I need to move on. Right. Warding spells.”
Granger disappeared for a few minutes, returning with a stack of books floating behind her.
“These books look to be enough to give you a grounding in the theory, but I think you’ll need to take up Arithmancy and Runes in the long run.”
He watched as Potter sighed heavily. “I wish I hadn’t listened to Ron when I chose my subjects. You got any beginner texts of those subjects in that pile?”
“It will be okay, Harry. I’ll help tutor you.”
“Cheers Hermione.” Harry sighed again. “What have you got so far?”
“It’s like I feared actually. Muggles in general fear what they don’t understand. You can count the Magical World in that category, no matter that some people would think that Magic would end all their problems. As soon as they discovered that Magic kind would not be subverted to their will, they would destroy us. Nuclear weapons it seems has become the weapon of choice. That or chemical warfare, and that thought alone terrifies me. There are nuclear weapons in all the major countries in the planet.” Hermione sighed, “We really need to find out if there are any warding spells that would be able to protect against a nuclear attack, especially the fallout radiation.”
“We’re screwed aren’t we?” Potter asked.
“If they discover us, yes I think we are.”
Draco left the library after that, the Gryffindors giving him ample food for thought. And it seemed Muggles weren’t the useless, bumbling fools that he had been taught they had been.
“Where are you guys going?” Ron said, watching as Hermione and Harry collected their cloaks and bags to head out of the Common Room.
“We’re going to detention, remember?” Hermione said dryly.
“Oh.” Ron blushed in embarrassment.
Harry only rolled his eyes at the other boy, turning to step out into the corridor. Hermione followed him out a few moments later, swearing under her breath.
“It’ll be okay, Hermione. Hopefully he’ll come around,” Harry said consolingly, though in his own mind, he was starting to think that perhaps it would be no great loss if Ron did not come around.
Ron had certainly not been all that loyal or friendly to him, especially after all the chances he had given the red head. But Harry was also reminded that Ron had followed him to the Ministry building, and had been there fighting against the Death Eaters, so perhaps he was being hasty. Either way, Harry was getting sick of not being able to trust the youngest male Weasley.
“Hiya Harry,” a younger female voice said, scaring him in his spot.
“Hey Ginny,” Harry replied. “How are you?”
“I’m good,” She beamed. “Where are you guys going?”
“Detention with Snape,” Harry said, shrugging self deprecatingly.”That sucks,” Ginny said, with a smile. “Is Hermione going with you?”
“Well, yeah, she got one too.” Harry said with a frown, watching as a sneer seemed to pass her face quickly.
“We have to get going, sorry Gin.” Harry said, stepping around her to leave.
“Can we catch up soon, Harry? Did you want to study with me this weekend?” Ginny asked, coyly.
This of course just terrified Harry.
“Uh… I umm,” Harry stuttered until Hermione rescued him.
“Sorry Ginny, Harry’s already asked me to go over some notes with him for our charms homework.” Hermione gave her a bright grin before pulling Harry down the hallway.
“Thanks Hermione. I don’t know what I’d do without you.” Harry said with relief.
“End up in more and more awkward situations I think,” Hermione said with a smirk. “You really need to tell her you aren’t interested.”
“Snape isn’t here yet,” Hermione said from in front of Harry as they walked into the Potions Classroom.
“That’s really strange,” Harry said, moving through the room and up to a desk at the front to wait.
They didn’t have to wait long until Draco Malfoy walked into the room, but by that stage they were already immersed in discussion again.
“It’s possible though right. If something happened, something so big occurred, and with technology the way it is, it could be all over the internet within minutes. The DMLE would have no hope of Obliviating everyone that came upon that knowledge. That kind of news would spread like wildfire.” Hermione said.
“Yeah, I don’t think there would be any way of coming back from that.” Harry admitted.
“So someone needs to make sure that nothing like that can ever happen. I’m not sure the Statute for Secrecy Act is quite enough. From what I’ve read of the Act, it’s much more of a listing of punishments should magic be inadvertently revealed to Muggles, whether that’s intentional or accidental. It doesn’t say enough on what kind of wards are in use to uphold the Act.”
“So I really need to read up on these wards, but I’m just not understanding enough about how they work. I can’t quite get the intricacies in my head with the way the runes are arranged.”
“Learning never really was your forte, was it Potter?” Draco said, announcing his presence.
“Not really,” Harry admitted. “But I need to start somewhere,” Harry said, sticking his nose back in the book.
“So you think Muggles could be dangerous to Magical Kind.” Draco prodded, trying to keep his face looking interested, and not sneering. It was a bad habit of his, he admitted to himself, but a fun one by the way everyone would react to it.
“We’re not getting in to an argument with you, Malfoy. Snape will be along any minute.” Hermione said crossly.
“No arguments!” Draco held his palms up in surrender. “Just honest curiosity. I overheard you guys during class, it piqued my interest. And being that you both have spent time in the Muggle world, I can assume you would have a greater idea on what Muggles can and cannot do, in relation to myself.” Draco explained.
“But why are you even asking us?”
“Because I would like to know.”
“Alright,” Harry said, quelling Hermione with a look. “What do you want to know about Muggles.”
“You mentioned they could be a danger to us. How?”
“Well, in the last fifty to a hundred years, Muggles have made astounding leaps in technology and science. That means that they aren’t the pitchfork wielding villagers that most of the Wizarding world seems to think they still are. In the last fifty odd years alone, there have been several wars, and one World War where a good portion of the World’s biggest countries were involved. And I mean real warfare, both aerial and naval. They can have a ship sitting off the coast and target a small area literally a hundred miles away, and decimate the entire area. They can drop bombs from jets that would wipe out the whole of London.”
“What kind of aerial attacks do you mean?”
“Aerial attacks, so jets, that fly through the sky, much, much faster than the fastest possible broom. They can shoot bullets and missiles as other airborne or land targets. Mainly they can drop bombs on land or water targets, and are much more devastating than any one spell I’ve ever heard of. Nuclear bombs will devastate an area for several square miles, and make that area uninhabitable for a hundred years or more. Chemical bombs have the potential for having a more devastating impact on life forms, than on town’s or cities. These bombs can contain any kind of chemical, which when released could spread disease or just spread a gas that would kill everyone.”
Draco listened avidly, the situation much more serious than he had ever thought it could be if what they said was in anyway true.
“There are also naval attacks. Muggles have large ships and submarines which travel through the oceans with similar kinds of attacks.
“Also, I’m not sure if you or the Wizarding kind is aware, that Muggles have technology that have put man on the moon. We have travelled through space, and have devices in space that can look out into the universe, as well as back down in on earth and spy on anyone or anything. I really think that it is only a matter of time before something happens and Wizarding Kind will be unable to sustain the Statute of Secrecy Act. Information travels much faster these days because of technology.”
“This is most definitely a concern.” Draco said, the alarm going off in his mind he had set early to remind him his time was nearly up. “Thank you for explaining it to me.”
They watched as Malfoy beat a hasty retreat, and not a moment too soon as seconds after, Professor Snape swept into the room.
‘”So, what could have possibly been so interesting that it took precedence over my class.” the Potion’s Master sneered, manoeuvring to the chair behind his desk, glaring at the students all the while.
“We’re sorry, Professor. But we have heard news that there is a possibility of a Muggle War breaking out. We wondered what kind of safety measures-”
“A Muggle War?” Professor Snape demanded, standing from his chair again so quickly it bounced off the wall behind him. “What evidence do you have for this supposition?”
Hermione produced the Newspaper clippings that her parents had owled her, handing them over with a serious expression.
“I don’t think my parents would play such a prank. But why has there been nothing reported in the Daily Prophet or something. Surely this is something that people should be made aware of.” Hermione said, determined.
“You will find Miss Granger that there are those in the world, who will subvert this kind of information for fear of what it could mean both for the magical world as a whole, as well as that person personally. That fear often drives people to ignore or even deny such information. Our esteemed Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, is a prime example of such a specimen.”
“So what can we do about it?” Harry asked, sounding eager.
“I do not know, Mr Potter.”
“And what about Dumbledore, what are we going to do about him. We weren’t the only ones to notice his slip. You saw it, too,” Hermione pressed, but it was too far.
“Professor Dumbledore’s personal situation is none of your concern, Miss Granger. The both of you will begin cleaning the store rooms.”
Draco, not for the first time in his life, wished he owned a pensieve just so that it was easier to review things that had happened during the past, but especially so for today’s conversation with the Gryffindors.
Their discussion had opened the proverbial can of worms within Draco’s mind, creating a whole new hurdle in his own future plans. The fact that Muggles were seemingly so much more advanced than anyone else seemed to give them credit for was worrying. And the things Granger had discussed with were quite frankly terrifying. He resolved that they were very right to worry about the possible ramifications should such an event take place.
It meant that the plans that he had been working on seemed to be all the more necessary.
“Malfoy?” Harry said awkwardly, watching as the Slytherin sat down next to him during lunch the following day in the library. “Can we help you with something?”
“No, I believe it is the other way around. You are having trouble understanding warding spells? This is to be expected, you having not taken Runes or Arithmancy. That is where we need to start.” The blonde explained, bringing text books and parchment out.
“Um, not that I don’t appreciate your offer to teach me, but Hermione has already offered.”
“I’m sure she has. But she needs to be busy researching what Muggle technologies are currently available, and the possible impacts it could have on Wizarding kind. I think it best she focus on that for the time being, whilst I attempt to bring you up to date on your sorely lacking education.”
The last book that Malfoy pulled out seemed to be a young children’s book. Harry was tempted to hit him for it, but in the end decided to trust the smarmy git. It was time that Harry grew up, and if Malfoy was willing to ignore the past for the time being, then he could surely try too.
They spent the rest of lunch with Hermione busily scribbling notes from various texts around whilst Malfoy tried to teach him the kinds of things he would have known, had he grown up in the magical world.
Harry caught on fast enough, but it was still slow going, considering just how many years he needed to catch up on.
When lunch came to an end, Draco gave him some homework read through. He should have known the Blonde would be a hard task master.
It took the better part of a month for Harry to grasp the basics of both new topics well enough that he could begin focusing on Warding spells.
Harry was surprised the blonde hadn’t forced himself on that topic, and made Harry research something else, as it was plain to see that Malfoy was very knowledgeable on all three topics of wards, Arithmancy and runes. Instead, he had started researching, of all things, Celtic history in the United Kingdom.
“What’s going o-WHAT’S HE DOING HERE?” the angry voice of Ron Weasley startled them all.
All three of them groaned at the spectacular entrance he was making, immediately drawing the attention of Madame Pince.
“We were doing some research, Ron,” Hermione said placating.
“But with HIM?? WHY is he here?” Ron demanded in a mean whisper.
“He’s helping us actually, which I had thought you would have done, had you not had your head that far up your own arse,” Hermione growled back, even meaner.
Hermione started packing up at that, leading Harry and Malfoy to do the same. “After classes?” Harry asked quietly.
“Sure. I’ll meet you guys here.” Draco agreed quietly, moving to leave the group that had gathered around them.
“NO!! What have you done to them?!” Ron demanded, wand point at Malfoy’s throat.
“It seems I’ve been a better friend than you have these last few weeks,” Draco sneered, daring the Weasel to make a move. “You’ve not made any effort, when it is quite apparent that this is something your so called friends have obviously been anxious over something.”
“They don’t need help from someone like you!”
“No, they don’t need help from someone like YOU, Weasley! You wouldn’t know how to open a book to save yourself.”
Ron sneered, “Redu-“
Harry suddenly stood in front of the pointed wand, causing Ron to stutter in shock, the rest of the hex not making it past his lips.
“What are you doing Harry?” Ron asking, still extremely angry, but very puzzled.
“Saving yourself from a year’s worth of detention, if not criminal charges. “ Harry said seriously, a deep frown on his face. “Wizards don’t seem to recognise any kind of sanctity of life, I swear.”
“Harry why are you defending him?” Ron asked, anger coming back in full force.
“Why are you willing to kill someone so easily at the age of fifteen? You could have taken his head clean off with that spell,” Harry said, internally horrified.
“He’s a Death Eater!!” Ron yelled in Harry’s face, but Harry could only look on in pity.
“You really think I’m that stupid, Ron?” Harry sighed. “Just… walk away Ron.”
Harry turned away from him, looking to Draco. “Sorry.”
“Don’t be.” The blonde said, with a shrug. “I’ll talk to you later.”
Behind them, Harry could hear Hermione working herself up to a scathing rant, but seemed to abruptly deflate.
“Let’s go to class.”
Ron spent the rest of the day glaring at Harry and Hermione, and actively attempting to hex Malfoy.
The fact that he was unsuccessful brought a lot of unintentional amusement Harry’s way.
The fact that it continued on for the following weeks was in the end quite ridiculous. Neville had taken to following Hermione around, just so as to avoid Ron. Ron of course hadn’t taken that little revelation well either.
Neville hadn’t been actively researching with them, but had happily been researching his own projects in Herbology, finally finding his niche now that he had his own wand, instead of a family heirloom.
Draco had kept his mouth wisely shut, so far, in regards to Neville, and most of their discussions took place when the gardener wasn’t around. And they had been getting more and more heated as Halloween approached.
“It’s been documented that Magic is becoming less and less prevalent in this world as the years pass. Something needs to be done that will preserve magic for future generations. In less than a thousand years, there may not be any magical folk left.” Draco said, eyes wide and passionate.
“And what do you suggest we do then? What research has been done to preserve magic?”
“We don’t need research, magic was doing fine until the seventeenth century and when the Druidic Enclave was replaced with the Wizengamont and Ministry of Magic. As soon as the Enclave was put to an end, magic has begun leaving us!”
“And what practices were the Enclaves doing that are no longer being done. I can’t imagine it’s the name of the group that’s had such a fundamental change in magic.”
“They observed the Circle of the Year.”
“The what?” Hermione asked, a frown creasing her forehead.
“The Circle of the Year, as well as the deities that have gifted us with magic to begin with.”
Hermione immediately snorted in disdain. “Deities? Are you for real?”
“Where do you think magic came from then? Thin air?” Draco replied, voice growing tense.
“Well, I imagined it was an offshoot of some kind of genetic condition,” Hermione blustered, not looking at either of the boys.
“Hermione, you’ve studied all of this, you can’t explain to me that there isn’t some ‘magic’ involved. Think of all the magic that needs to be done or cast around the phases of the moon.”
“It is well documented in the Muggle world that there is a connection between earth energies and the pull of the moon. Just because it’s not scientifically understood, doesn’t mean that its airy fairy magic.”
“Fairies exist, Hermione.” Harry returned, trying to drive the point home.
“I know they do, you know that’s not what I meant.”
“How else can you describe the affect that magic has, and the part that you can control with your wand.”
“What are you talking about?” Draco finally asked, watching them trade barbs.
“In many Muggle circles, it is an understood belief that there are no supreme or higher power beings in existence. Evolution is explained as the way that life started and has changed over the millions of years.”
“Really?” Draco said, mildly interested.
“I had always wondered where that mentality had come from. But if it’s a Muggleborn preconception, then I can see how it has occurred. Muggles have always had a harder time seeing evidence of other entities involved in this planet.”
Hermione just snorted. “Who’s to say that magic users just have a the mutated gene which allows them to control a pre-existing, if not widely known or understood exotic energy inherent in the planet since it was first began.”
“And who’s to say that there isn’t a higher energetic force that could be directing such things, as the creation of this planet and including the ‘exotic energy inherent in the planet’.” Draco returned, for once actually enjoying an intelligent argument. Intelligence was a gift given sparingly by the gods.
“Then why have we not had any evidence of their influence? We’ve been in this world for five years now. They’ve done nothing to help Harry out of the poor situation that Fate has put him in.”
“Why should it be them to help everyone?” Harry asked, beating Draco to the punch. “It’s the organised religions of the Muggles that insist on that kind of belief style. Anything bad is always blamed on a higher power because people aren’t willing to own their mistakes or take responsibility for what they see in the world. ‘God helps those who help themselves’, Hermione.”
“That’s surprisingly observant of you Potter,” Malfoy commented, needing to now reassess everything he had thought he had known about Harry Potter.
“Well, I’ve had some time to think things through. It’s actually Dobby who has been helping me the most.”
“Dobby? He’s alive?” Draco asked, for once showing a proper emotion on his face. Harry wasn’t sure what he should do when confronted by actual emotion from the blonde.
“Dobby.” Harry called with intention, and the Elf popped into the library with them.
“What can Dobby be doing for his Master Harry?”
Dobby’s head whipped around when he heard Draco. “Master Dragon?”
“Father said that you were dead.” Draco came around the desk to kneel before the elf.
“Master Harry freed me. Has Master Dragon been okay?” Dobby asked, still staying close to Harry but Harry could see that there was a tentative rapport between the two.
“It’s been fine, Dobby. I’m glad you had your Master Harry to keep you safe.”
“Yes, Master Harry has been very good to Dobby. He has even allowed Dobby to bond with the Potter Family properly.” Dobby beamed.
“I’m very happy for you, Dobby. You deserve a family that will take care of you as much as you would take care of them. Harry will be a very good master for you.”
Hermione snorted, but Dobby ignored it. Draco of course, couldn’t.
“Of course you would encourage Slavery in lower classed magical creatures.”
“And of course it is typical of you to offer an opinion on a subject you know nothing about, and a private conversation at that.” Draco tersely replied.
“Well excuse me for not being able to stand by and listen or watch SLAVERY when it is playing out in front of me.” Hermione yelled, grabbing her books together haphazardly.
“And I say again, it is typical for you to go off on a subject you know nothing about. Dobby was my father’s personal House Elf, a being that has looked after me as long as I have been alive. I know what kind of life he had lived previous to Potter freeing him, so it could be argued that you are correct. But House Elves need magic to support them. The ambient magic humans produce, keeps House elves alive. They need to use their own magics to ensure that the ambient magic continue to moves through them. If the flow of energy stops, then they will not be able to absorb the ambient magic. This is why they bind themselves to a magical family, something which was their idea. They wanted to bond with US. Witches and Wizards did not ‘oh so magnanimously’ deign to bond with the lesser beings, or whatever twisted idea you have in your head. It is a symbiotic relationship has stood the test of time. I have never even heard of a free elf, nor any elf wanting to be such. With your attitude, and the way that your House looks to you for guidance, you could be the instrument of Genocide!!”
Draco had stood to face the witch by the end of his tirade, breathing deeply to contain his emotion. Hermione had turned pale as was refusing to look at any of them.
“Master Harry has already explained to Miss Grangy, Master Dragon. Miss Grangy did not understand then, and she will not understand now.” Dobby said with a hand on Draco’s shirt.
Hermione’s eyes turned watery, but before the first tears had fallen, she had run out of the library.
“Well that was awkward,” Harry said, sitting back down at the table.
“Does she not believe us, unless it’s written in a book, or something,” Draco sighed, slumping back at the table as well.
“Something like that. Though it’s probably a morals thing as well.”
“Well her attitude and people thinking that way could see the House Elf population go extinct! Sorry Dobby.” Draco said at Dobby’s shudder.
“I suppose it’s the difference of having grown up in the Magical World versus the Muggle World. I wonder if that’s half the reason I take so long to grasp so much of the magical theory. The other guys in my house in our year level have all grown up in at least partially magical homes. So I don’t have much to compare it to.”
“No, actually, it stands to reason,” Draco mused. “The kids books I gave you were for a bit of a laugh, but you grasped things a lot faster since reading them.”
“It’s a wonder that there’s no kind of orienteering for Muggleborns, either. We were just thrown in the deep end.”
“There should be! I can’t understand why there isn’t. And if anything it is detrimental to our way of living, as well as to our existence.” Draco said thoughtfully, pulling out a small pocket book from his pants pocket and writing in it for a few minutes.
He knew that Harry was watching him, curiosity written all over his face. A part of Draco wanted to ignore that look and continued the conversation, or start a new one. But a greater part was interested in caving to that curiosity.
“I have a plan,” Draco finally said, still writing in the book.
“You don’t have to tell me, it’s your business.” Harry said awkwardly, quickly looking away and attempting to busy himself with his books.
“I know, Potter. I have a plan, for the future. Where I think the Magical World should go so as to preserve our magic, our culture. I know what you are thinking,” Draco eyed Harry a moment. “I have no intentions of joining Voldemort, nor in leading another such vigilante organising that deals in death and destruction for everything I disagree with. No, I have intentions of in going into politics and affecting change through proper channels.”
“I think that sounds like a very good idea.”
“I believe in Voldemort in principle, but not in practice. Before his use of Dark Magic turned him psycho, he had a very large following in the older pure blood families because he acknowledged that there were things that needed to be changed. Those families had access to Grimoires that explained how our world had once been, and how it had been the introduction of the Ministry of Magic and their laws, which have drastically changed our way of living enough that the affects of magic leaving us is beginning to be noticed.
“Whilst the problem is the Muggleborn’s and Half Blood’s, it has also been the new laws that dictate how they are brought into our world. It is Muggle prejudice, Muggle beliefs, and Muggle customs which are eroding our own customs and beliefs.”
“What do you suggest then?” Harry asked, curious. Perhaps had these laws never been in place, he never would have had to live with the Dursley’s for all these years.
“I’m not ready to say, just yet.”
“Will you tell me, when you’re ready?”
“When I’m ready, I’ll let you know, Potter.”
Part II – Samhain – Halloween
Halloween saw Ron finally apologising to Harry for his harsh words. Harry of course accepted it, the pain of losing his first friend finally allayed. It was hard work, being friends with Ron, but he felt a sense of loyalty to the red head, because of him being one of the first friends he had ever had. He found himself quite surprised the lengths he went to protect that friendship.
Hermione had taken a few days to apologise to Harry, Draco and Dobby. But when she did, Harry could tell that it was because she had done her research and was finally able to admit she had been wrong. The fact that she had also apologised to Dobby was the telling part, and he could see that Draco had approved that move.
Dobby had just been happy to stop cleaning the Gryffindor Common Room on his own, now that Hermione had stopped her S.P.E.W campaign. Something Hermione was horrified about, when she finally accepted it.
The day of Halloween meant that all classes for the day were cancelled, a tradition that Draco had told him had stretched back for thousands of years, being that it was the last day of the old calendar year the.
“They called it the Wheel of the Year,” Draco explained. “The year was divided up with 8 main holidays in the year. Halloween, Hallow’s Eve, or Samhain, was considered the end or death of the year. It’s quite often associated with Death, though not necessarily the physical death of something. It can be a symbolic death, or the death of an idea, or something. People used to use this time to give away unwanted aspects of their life to the Gods, in the hopes that the energy can be recycled for something they want to come into their lives in the future.”
“It’s amazing how much you know about this kind of thing,” Harry remarked,
“Well, it hasn’t all just been research. To some extent, Pureblood families still celebrate these times of year, though not to the extent that it used to be hundreds of years ago, seeing as it’s not really in favour to do so. So called ‘pagan’ practises are largely frowned upon now,” Draco said, and Harry could tell that he was annoyed at the fact.
“So do you plan to celebrate this Halloween in a more traditional sense?” Harry asked, only realising afterwards what a personal question it really was.
Draco smirked. “Yes, a few of us in Slytherin have been keeping up tradition during the school year.”
“That’s good then. Is there anything to read that you might recommend on the whole Wheel of the Year thing?”
“Sure, I’ll give you some books.”
“Severus, thank you for coming so soon. You are well?” Dumbledore asked form behind his desk.
Before him Severus was just settling into the chair in front of the desk, the Death Eater cloak and mask thrown carelessly on the another chair.
“I am well.” Severus sighed heavily. “It was a surprisingly gentle meeting, there were only two tortured for failure to make progress on their appointed tasks. Jenkins and Mulciber it seems were unable to provide the required files from their respective Ministry Departments.”
“That is very well then. And the Dark Lord’s plans?” Dumbledore prodded.
“He spent most of the night posturing and lecturing us by turns. He has yet to reveal any details. He is playing it extremely close to the chest. I believe even Lucius has not been taken into confidence.”
“That is very worrying then.” Dumbledore mused, sitting back in his chair to stroke his beard in thought.
“So far we have surmised that it is something to do with a Lughnasah ritual. Have you had any luck in finding what ritual it might be?”
“Lughnasah? No, we had agreed it would be Summer Solstice, I thought.” Dumbledore said in confusion.
“No, we had agreed it would be Lughnasah. You wrote it in your book,” Severus replied, his face and voice as bland as normal. In his mind, however, he was almost ready to pull his hair out.
Dumbledore produce a book from a spell locked secret drawer in the desk, he perused it for a couple of minutes, turning from page to page. “Forgive me, Severus, you are quite right.”
“And your research?”
“Has been on the wrong Sabbat. I will begin my research anew, as soon as you leave.” Dumbledore sighed.
“Then I will not detain you any longer.”
“Harry, Mate! We’re going to be late to class!” Ron said, tearing around the dormitory in a towel, barely noticing Harry standing at the door, completely dressed and his satchel over his shoulder, ready to go.
“It’s alright. We’ve got Herbology first up, Madame Sprout won’t mind if we’re still eating.” Harry sighed, casting a tempus and sighing again.
“Why didn’t you wake me?” Ron demanded, searching under the bed for shoes.
“I did, ya git.” Harry said, a smirk on his face.
“Then why didn’t I get up?” Ron moaned.
“Because you like sleeping too much!!”
“Truer words, Mate!!”
They only ended up being a few minutes late, and Madame Sprout only sent them a half-hearted glare.
“Today students, we will be discussing the merits of harvesting at different times of the year. Can anyone tell me why we might consider the time of year when planting or harvesting?”
“Because of the earth and magic energies inherent in the land.” Neville piped up when no one else said anything.
“Correct. And who can tell me what variables can have an impact on these energies?”
“The moon?” A girl from Ravenclaw suggested.
“Correct! Any others?”
When no one said anything else, Madame Sprout glanced at Neville. Neville however just sighed. “The nature of the spellwork, ritual or potion for which the plant will be used in. As well as the Sabbat we are in as a part of the Wheel of the Year.”
“Correct you are, Mr Longbottom. The Wheel of the Year is still heavily abided by in Herbology due to the amount of ritual’s and potions that use ingredients that need to be planted or harvested during a particular time. It has been researched and found conclusive that the timing in planting and in harvest does have an effect on the outcome. Regardless what the popular belief now is the Wheel of the Year is something that should be taken very seriously when doing anything related to Herbology.
“What a load of crock that was, hey mate?” Ron jeered as they left their morning Herbology class and made their way back to the castle proper for lunch. “I mean, who cares when you put bloody seeds in the ground! I’m glad I’m not going to do anything as ridiculous as be a ‘Herbologist’ after Hogwarts.”
Harry bit his tongue, knowing to say something now was just courting yet another argument with the hot headed red head.
“Now an Auror. That’s certainly a more manly job. And you know you’ll be fantastic at it! Especially after all you did with the D.A! We could be partners you know, when we reach the Academy! Wouldn’t that be great!”
Ron prattled on and Harry tried to zone him out. He wondered how he was going to break it to him that he didn’t want to join the Auror’s after Hogwarts. After he defeated Voldemort, because it seemed that was the thing that he was going to have to do, and provided he actually even survived the whole experience, he was not someone who was going to spend the rest of his professional life, which would in actual fact be a very large portion of his actual and very long life, chasing down yet more bad guys. He just did not see the appeal the way Ron did.
“We better not need anything as stupid as Herbology anyway. We wouldn’t have to do that kind of spell craft or ritual anyway. I’m sure they would have lower Ministry officials to get all of that stuff organised.”
“You know, knowing Herbology would have it uses, depending on the department you end up in. Suppose you are on a bust for illegal substances, and you come across a potions lab or a hot house. You don’t want to go ahead and arrest the guy over a potted Lavender plant.” Harry smirked, trying to lighten the mood.
“Heh, why do you think I’m turning up to Herbology now?” Ron sneered. “Besides, I think I’ll be able to tell the difference between a lavender bush and Devil’s Snare.”
Harry watched as Neville quickly walked on ahead of them, now feeling guilty for not having said something. Though he had to wonder why Ron was being so vocal about it as he was sure Ron knew that Neville aspired to be a Herbologist, and it was one of the classes that he was truly excelling at.
At dinner that night, the conversation continued with Ron ridiculing most classes except for Defence Against the Dark Arts.
“DADA is just something that I think everyone should be well versed in, especially with the War coming. You just don’t know when you might need that kind of knowledge, you know what I mean?” Ron said around a mouthful of food.
“It is very good knowledge to have,” Harry agreed, though he was loathe to do so. “But having some knowledge in the other subjects would always be handy.”
“Bah!! As if. Charms and Transfiguration! Sure! But Potions, or Herbology is for the people afraid of the front lines!”
“What?” Neville spoke up, his face lined in concern.
“What Nev?” Ron asked, having only listened to himself for the last half an hour.
“What did you just say about Herbology?”
“That it’s for people who don’t want to be on the front lines,” Ron said, his face showing his confusion.
“No, you said it was people who were AFRAID of the front lines. Are you implying that I’m too scared to fight by Harry and your side?”
“Nah, Nev. I didn’t mean you.” Ron tried to back track.
“No you said Herbologists, and Potions Masters. You know I want to be a Herbologist. So you’re saying that I’m too scared to be on the front lines. Well you know what, I’m not. Just because you don’t think it’s a useful subject to know, doesn’t mean that it’s not useful at all. And I have already fought at Harry and your side, if you don’t remember. I was there at the Ministry, so don’t you DARE call me a coward!”
Half the Great Hall was in shock at Neville’s words and the shear tone that were delivered in.
“You’re a rock star Nev,” Harry said, with a smile. “I can always count on you to have my back!”
Ron didn’t say anything, his face red with embarrassment and temper.
“Harry, are you going to start up the D.A. again? Because I think it would be a really good idea.” Ginny said, coyness catching Harry of guard.
“It’s actually not a bad idea,” Hermione said, looking up from her books. “I can always send out a meeting time, see how many of the original class turn up.”
“This year’s teacher is a bit of a joke, too,” Harry said looking up at the French man who was seated next to Professor Snape. Harry watched as the man tried to engage the Potion’s Master in conversation, only to be shot down again and again with a withering glare.
“Didn’t Dumbledore say that he was getting a man from America? This guy is obviously not him.” Ron piped up.
“Yeah, I remember that too. I wonder what happened to the American guy. Or how Professor Dumbledore managed to get this man on such short notice.”
“Do you think,” Harry trailed off, whispering, “That Dumbledore got his wires crossed again?”
Hermione looked at him a moment, assessing the information in her head. “It scares me that that is a possibility.”
“So that was quite the impassioned speech by Longbottom.” Draco commented, joining Harry and Hermione at their usual table in the library.
“Well, Ron had it coming, after the way he was talking today,” Hermione said crossly.
Draco looked to Harry when there was obviously no more forthcoming from Hermione.
“Ron took it upon himself to explain what were and weren’t useful subjects, and implied that Herbology and Potions were an essentially useless field of expertise for the coming war.”
“Does the Weasel know where his healing potions come from?” Draco snarled, slamming his own books open.
“I don’t imagine he did. He probably forgot such a mere detail as that.”
“Mere indeed.” Draco snorted. “How is it that you give him so many free passes? I’m sure I would have hexed the bastard a thousand times over if I was in your place.”
“Believe me, I have a vivid imagination that goes a long way towards that.” Harry admitted with a laugh. “But he was my first proper friend, both in the Muggle world as well as the Magical world. I suppose I’ll always be grateful to him for that.”
“You didn’t have a pleasant upbringing, did you,” Draco asked softly, noticing when Hermione looked at him assessing, but he did not acknowledge it.
“Not really,” Harry said uncomfortably, looking away.
“You may not believe me, but I do have some idea of what that is like, I’ll be the first to say that my childhood was not all Quidditch and chocolate.” Draco said, opening up his satchel for parchment and quill.
“No, I don’t imagine it would have been.” Harry admitted, taking a deep breath.
“So you don’t have to keep it to yourself if you don’t want to. I’m sure Granger has lent a sympathetic ear in the past, but if you want someone who understands, let me know. I can’t say I’ll listen to you bleed your heart out, but the thought is there.” Draco said with a smirk.
Harry gave half a laugh too, feeling a little more ice break between them. Hermione of course looked at Draco in horror.
“I’ll be sure to cry on your shoulder and mess up your pretty robes.” Harry snarked back.
“Please, like I’d even let you near my person.”
Harry smiled at that, feeling lighter. He was coming to understand the kind of person that Draco was, underneath the Death Eater in training, and he was finding himself liking the blonde ferret.
“So, I’m still surprised that Longbottom had the balls to come out and say that to Ron’s face.” Draco observed.
“Why else would he be in Gryffindor?” Harry replied with a grin. “He was amazing in the Ministry. Handled himself really well.”
“Even in some private classes, he’s been picking up thinks really well,” Hermione added, feeling quite proud of her Housemate.
“This school has needed a lot of private classes, recently.” Draco sneered. “I swear I’ve had to tutor the majority of younger years the last few years running, just to make sure they had passing grades.”
“I’m sure it’s only been Hermione’s sheer force of will that has allowed Ron and I to pass,” Harry said with a grin to Hermione, who blushed.
“Defence is ridiculous this year. Just like last year.” Draco moaned. “That toad of a woman was a nightmare. Father and I had quite the argument about that, I can assure you.”
“Why did you join her little brigade?” Hermione asked, tone as neutral as possible.
“Yes well, like I said, it was quite the argument with my Father. He seemed to think siding with her would stand us in good stead for some reason. I’m not entirely sure he realised just what kind of witch that woman was. I have no idea what kind of political manoeuvre that was, except a bad one.”
“You were against siding with her?” Harry asked, his face full of confusion. “But you seemed so zealous under her leadership.”
“If you haven’t noticed, I have been brought up by one of the Wizarding World’s greatest actors. I can act in such a way just as well as my father. And at that point, my father had control over me and my decisions. That is no longer the case and he knows it.”
“Do you have any intention of becoming a Death Eater,” Hermione cut to the chase boldly.
“Not in Voldemort’s wildest dreams.” Draco growled. “I was raised to think and act a certain way, that I was a station above everyone else in this realm. The idea then, that I would grovel before a madman is quite laughable. I had thought of a partnership for a short time, but I then realised that he was just plain barmy and is likely to kill all of his followers in a fit of pique, than actually achieve any of the goals he initially set out to achieve.”
“You agree with Voldemort?” Hermione demanded, her face turning to one of anger.
“In theory, but not in practice. We’ve discussed many of his political views already, Granger. Several of which you have agreed with. But it’s the nutter’s method which myself, and I imagine many of the Pureblood family’s, have a problem with now. He never was this crazy, and his ideas were met with great acclaim when he first went public. But he has delusions which his Muggle upbringing have tainted him with, had he grown up in the Magical Realm, I’m sure he never would have pursued the path he has chosen.”
“What do you mean, I’ve agreed with him. I’d never agree with the Dark Lord.” Hermione said hotly, definitely in defence mode.
“Our discussions on the Wheel of the Year, as well as Wizarding genetics were some of the first things Voldemort brought to light about the Magical World and the negative impact the Ministry of Magic has had on the Magical Realm here in the United Kingdom.”
“It seems preposterous that I could ever agree with anything that Voldemort advocated.” Harry mused, “But it would be ignorant to refute something when there is evidence to support it. Thank you for giving me that article by the way. It was interesting to get an understanding on magical workings in other parts of the world.”
“What article,” Hermione demanded, interest piqued.
“An article on Germany’s magical community after they have reverted back to an old system of magic and government. It happened about ten years ago now, after everything with the Grindelwald war was finally laid to rest. But since they have reverted to the old magics, there has been a resurgence in magical children being born both to magical and Muggle families, and a resurgence in the flow of magic readily available as well.”
“That does sound quite interesting.” Hermione said. “May I read it?”
Once Hermione was absorbed in her reading, Draco turned back to Harry again.
“In all seriousness, Potter, you’ve been acting entirely too polite and calm since coming back to school. I have some idea of what has been going on with you lately. It’s not healthy to let it bottle up. You need to accept the anger and fear and hurt, accept that you feel it, accept that you are allowed to feel those emotions and allow yourself to heal from those wounds. If you don’t, you’re liable to end up a miserable person, and I can’t guarantee that you will make it out of this war alive, let alone sane.”
Harry took a moment to think about what the Blonde had said. It was in fact the reason that he had turned to Dobby as a friend when his school friends were beyond reach. He hated to think where he might be had Dobby not been there for him. He hated that he could not spend more time with the House Elf during the school term, but they were both too busy with their own work.
What Draco said was something that Harry had already been thinking. He hated feeling like he was at the mercy of his emotions, and was the main reason that he stuffed them down deep inside as a method of controlling them. But Draco was right that he was in fact bottling those emotions, and the bottle was liable to break at the least provocation. Though his saving grace this year was that Draco was working with him this time, instead of against him.
But it still left the question, that he didn’t know how to handle these emotions. Feeling them usually hurt so much, which is why of course he had ignored them to begin with. He dreaded dragging them out again, let alone in front of someone else.
“That’s the first time you’ve called me by name,” Harry replied, a small smile on his face.
“It is, yes. Nice distraction by the way.” Draco replied with a smirk.
“You’re not going to let me get away with it either, are you?” Harry said, smile growing thought he still felt confused. “Why are you caring about it now?”
“Why do you feel you’re not worthy of someone caring about you?”
“Since when did you become a therapist?”
“How long are you going to avoid the question?”
Harry stopped, realising that he was getting nowhere fast. Apart from angry. That was coming along just fine, right now. Harry tried to take a deep breath, trying not to lash out at the blonde, as intellectually he realised that Malfoy was trying to help him, but all he could feel was a deep seated rage that wanted to be let out.
“On a scale of one to ten, just how angry are you right now,” Draco said with a smirk.
“Oh, around eighteen.” Harry replied, trying not to sound like he was clenching his teeth.
“That’s what I thought.” Draco said, packing up his books. “Come on, let’s go for a walk.”
Sighing, Harry picked up his own books quickly and shoved them none too gently into his own bag.
“Where are you going?” Hermione asked, watching the two of them finish collecting their gear.
“Going to deal with some anger management issues. I promise I won’t break him,” Draco said before Harry could say anything.
Harry was glad he did, as he wasn’t entirely sure that what came out of his mouth right now would be considered appropriate in polite company, and Hermione is someone that he really didn’t want to attack right now.
Before Hermione could say any more, Draco was leading Harry out of the Library and quickly into a hidden corridor Harry had never seen before.
“It’s nothing personal, but I would prefer, for the time being, not being seen with you in public. I can imagine exactly what should happen should someone from my House see us together and report back to the House, or better yet, my Father.”
“No, I get that.” Harry said, having wondered the same thing himself during their sessions in the Library. So Harry asked.
“You’ve never noticed the wards that I’ve cast each and every time I’ve met with you and Granger?” Draco asked, surprised. “We really need to work on your magic sensitivity. You’ll need it if you want to work with Wards in the future.
“How do you know I want to work with Wards?” Harry asked trying to think back to anytime it might have come up in conversation.
“I don’t think I’ve seen anyone who has been quite so interested in playing catch up in several subjects this late in their Hogwarts career on the whim of casual research.” Draco advised, smirking.
“Yeah, I guess I have been uniquely motivated. Working with the Auror’s is just not where I see myself in ten years time.”
“Oh, and where do you see yourself then?”
“I guess I don’t know.” Harry replied, saddened at the thought.
“Then you had best start painting a picture so you have something to work towards, something to fight for.”
“Is that why you have your grand plans?”
“Yes and no.” Draco said, finally leading them to the room of requirement. After walking past the room three times, they entered what looked like a firing range on one side of the room, and an obstacle course on the other. “I have ideas of where I think the Wizarding Realm should be, but my personal plans don’t necessarily require those ideas to be in place.”
Harry accepted that for all the answer that he would be getting. He knew that they weren’t quite as close or as trusting of each other to be revealing those kinds of more intimate details.
“So, Rage issues. They’re certainly some of the more destructive of emotions that we have the joy and pleasure of experiencing. How about you go ahead and make some fireworks, release some of that rage.” Draco said, motioning to the targets. With a flick of the Blonde’s wand, the targets started to slowly move around the room.
Harry just watched for a moment in confusion. “What do you want me to do? How is this supposed to help with my rage issues?”
“I take it you’ve never indulged in senseless destruction before then,” Draco sighed, shaking his head. “Imagine the targets are Voldemort’s head, or Minister Fudge, even Ron, especially after all his comments today. Then point and shoot,” Draco said, as with a flick of his wand, a spell shot out and destroyed one of the targets. A new target swung in closer to replace it, and Harry watched as it taunted him, floating just in front of him.
With a small amount of regret, Harry fired of a stunner that had the target spinning off into the back of the room. Immediately another target swung into the other’s place.
Harry cast again, this time a hex that had it cracking down the middle and vanishing, yet another target coming over in its place.
For the next hour and a half, Harry steadily blasted his way through hundreds of targets, growing more forceful and more powerful in his attacks. He barely noticed that he had broken into a sweat and that he was breathing hard, that he was attacking the targets with a single minded focus that excluded everything else in the room. Even Draco.
But then the last target was destroyed under a powerful reductor curse, and Harry was left bereft.
“How do you feel?”
“Pumped, but calmer,” Harry finally said, a grin on his face, “and bloody exhausted.”
“I hope you don’t take what Ronald Weasley said to heart.”
Neville turned around, his hands buried in soil as he busily re-potted a sage plant to a larger pot. Luna stood next to him, her hands rubbing one of the sage leaves between her fingers.
“It’s hard not to,” Neville admitted with a sigh.
“But you know that it’s not true. You are as much a warrior as Harry is, and capable of just as much.”
“I hardly think so. That prophecy wasn’t about me. Harry is a lot more talented.”
“Only in subjects you think are more worthwhile. Why do you think Herbology isn’t worthwhile?”
“Because it isn’t,” Neville said angrily, throwing the spade in his hands on the ground. “Ron was right! What use is a Herbologist in a war?!”
“From where will the doctors and nurses get their healing supplies from to treat the injured? Where will the Potions Master go for his ingredients for his potions to heal or to attack? They may grow on trees and bushes, but who knows how they must be picked or treated? You have use Neville. Never think that you don’t. And if you truly want to be on the front line, then don’t let being a Herbologist stop you. Find how you can use the tools that fate has given you, and learn how to fight.”
Neville took a deep breath, finally looking at Luna beside him. She was certainly the last person that he had expected a pep talk from.
“You’re right.” Neville said, taking a seat at one of the tables.
“I’ve seen it, you know. The battles that will come. The future that we need to create. Do you want to help create the new world?”
“If you think I can help you,” Neville said, wondering how on earth he could help.
“I didn’t ask if I thought you could help. I asked if you WANT to help.” Luna reiterated, her tone forceful for the first time that Neville had ever heard her.
“Umm… Yeah. Yes, I want to help.”
“Where were you? You missed Defence Class!” Hermione chided, striding alongside Harry towards their last class of the day, Transfiguration.
“Did I miss anything important?”
“That’s not the point,” Hermione said angrily. “Missing classes is irresponsible.”
“Leave off it, Hermione! Leave the bloke alone.” Ron said, his tone patronising.
Hermione huffed angrily, glaring at the both of them before entering the classroom.
Harry and Ron took the desk behind her, quietly getting ready for the class.
“Where were you mate?” Ron asked in a whisper. “You weren’t at lunch either.”
“Just blowing off some steam.” Harry said tersely, not wanting to get into it with Ron.
“Some steam, eh? What was her name?” Ron jeered.
“What? NO! It wasn’t some girl. I was in the Room of Requirement blasting targets if you must know.” Harry growled.
“No ready to get tetchy, mate,” Ron said defensively, but his tone just irritated Harry even more, because Harry could tell Ron was not sorry for the question.
Harry watched as Draco came into the class surrounded by Pansy, Crabbe and Goyle. The four of them sat on the other side of the room, as far away from the Gryffindors as possible.
Harry caught Draco glaring at him and realised that he had been stareing in their direction to long. He was saved further embarrassment when Professor McGonagall stepped back into class.
Harry tried to keep his temper down throughout class, but Ron had, in one sentence, undone all of Draco’s work in calming him down. He was sure he would have been able to cope with a stupid offhand comment like that before, but right now he found his patience sorely thinned.
It meant that his transfigurations for the class came out subpar, which of course only irritated him all the more. He was all too glad when they were finally dismissed so that he might escape again.
Draco found him back in the Room of Requirement only half an hour after they had been released from classes. Having watched as Harry’s temper had seemed to rise as the class ticked on, so he wasn’t surprised to find the Boy Who Lived back here again.
It took another three quarters of an hour to exhaust Harry again, time which Draco had spent alternatively watching Harry work, and reading up on his homework. But eventually Harry tired, and he slumped on the couch that the room had conjured when Draco wanted to sit down.
“So it didn’t take long for that anger to come back then.” Draco commented, not looking up from his book.
“I had more patience before I started this,” Harry harrumphed.
“No, you had a higher tolerance to bullshit, something which you don’t necessarily require, especially seeing as you have no intention of going into politics.”
“That’s true, I suppose.”
“So what brought the anger back this time?”
“Both Ron and Hermione were at me for skipping class, but for opposite reasons of course.” Harry huffed out a laugh, though it wasn’t necessarily funny.
“I suppose Granger thought it sacrilege for you to skip a class?” Draco assumed, a smirk on his face yet again.
“And Ron thought I was meeting with a girl.”
“I’m not sure if I should be horrified or flattered by that,” Draco admitted, giving himself a shake.
“I’m not sure either,” Harry smirked, head rolling along the head rest of the lounge to look at Draco. “So how do I not respond and get angry at petty shit like that?”
“Ask yourself why you are getting angry over it. Is it what they are saying or implying, or is it that they are questioning something about you? Once you know why it is you are angry, you can work out and shore up your defences against it.”
“That sounds like it’s easier said than done,” Harry sighed, wriggling around on the lounge to find a more comfortable spot.
“It takes practice.” Draco admitted, closing the book that he had been reading.
“I don’t think I ever realised how much I’d been repressing all this anger.”
“We usually don’t, not until it’s too late and you accidentally take it out on the wrong person.”
“Yeah, I worked really hard not to take it out on Hermione, but she just kept pushing.”
“That girl would try the patience of anyone.” Draco snorted.
“She does,” Harry agreed. “I never thought I would be this comfortable around you.”
They were both silent for several minutes, long enough that Harry started the self recriminations that he should have kept silent. He wasn’t sure what made him say it.
“I find myself in a similar predicament,” Draco finally said.
“Why have we been fighting all these years?” Harry asked plainly.
“Many reasons and issues on both our parts, I think.” Draco replied evasively.
“I guess,” Harry gave a frustrated little huff, sitting back up again.
“Look, Potter-,” Draco began.
“No, you don’t have to explain anything to me if you don’t want to.” Harry said quickly, gathering up is robes and his satchel from where he had dumped them.
“Potter… Harry,” Draco said, an earnestness coming to his voice. “Look, I’m sorry alright, for everything over the years. I had my part to play under my father’s orders. Sometimes, well – most times, it was a convenient outlet or target. So I’m sorry.”
“I understand that, Draco. You don’t need to apologise. If anything, I’m sorry for the way I dismissed your offer of friendship back in first year. I was so scared of losing my first friend, and I acted rashly.”
“If I don’t need to apologise, then you certainly don’t need to either, Harry. We both had our parts to play.” Draco said softly, still sitting on the edge of the lounge.
Harry dropped his bag and cloak back where they were and slumped into a seat next to Draco again.
They both sat in silence, each of them thinking over the last five years that had almost had them at each other’s throat.
“Can I ask why things changed this year?” Harry asked softly. “It’s fine if you don’t, I guess I’m still confused why we are suddenly friends.”
“Summer was tough,” Draco admitted. “Father was incarcerated, for which I thank you and your other Gryffindors. It means that this year I have half a chance to put my own plans in motion. My birthday was also during the holidays, so I’m legally old enough to speak for myself. It means that I’ve been able to start being my own person, instead of what my Father has taught and expected me to be.”
“I’m glad for you,” Harry said, honestly having no idea what it must have been like to grow up in such an environment where the expectations were so high.
“It has also been impressed upon me what is expected of me in the months to come. As you no doubt already know, I have no wish to follow that path, and have needed to start paving my own. It sounds selfish, but this is one of those things that I hope will lead me to being a better person, the person that I want to be.”
“I don’t necessarily think it’s selfish,” Harry admitted.
“I’m supposed to be Marked this Christmas,” Draco sighed heavily, like a weight was settled on his shoulders.
“What do you plan to do about it?”
“Avoid it at all costs.” Draco snorted, making Harry laugh. “I’m not sure how I will avoid it just yet, especially with the political games that my Father will attempt to play from Azkaban. Mother, no doubt, will be pressured to host a Function at Malfoy Manor to ensure my return home.”
“You could always come home with me?” Harry suggested. “I’ve not decided where I’ll go, now that I have inherited and all that. But I don’t think that they would think to look for you with me. Could you send your regrets early, perhaps cut it off before your Mother has to offer the invitation?”
Draco thought for a moment, knowing that it would, in the end, be nowhere near that simple. To spend Christmas with Harry would almost certainly be declaring himself against Voldemort, regardless if it was common knowledge just who he spent the holidays with. His not going home would be seen as an abandonment of the cause. He wasn’t sure if it was such a wise course of action to do, knowing of the possibility that his Father could be released from Azkaban at any time, and would therefore be available to ritually cast him from the Malfoy Family.
He loved his Family and its history dearly, and it was not something that he wanted to be separated from.
He had to trust that that would not be the case, and for that to happen, he needed to start on his plans much earlier than he might have wished. The political arena would be hard enough in the next five years, but without his Name behind him, and the possibility of Voldemort making a move against the Magical Realm well before that, he now realised that his plans had to start soon.
“You won’t have the Weasel and Granger with you? Surely they would both be eager to embark on this little quest of yours.” Draco sneered.
“I didn’t actually have any intention in inviting Ron with me these holidays. He wouldn’t be able to give me the time and space to look around that I think I need. His temperament leads to lazing around and doing nothing, or playing Quidditch.”
“Funnily enough, that doesn’t surprise me. You think that I would be conducive to these tasks, though?”
“I do actually.”
“I’m not sure yet. I hadn’t actually decided just yet. She doesn’t get much of a chance to contact her parents through the school year. And I’m not too sure what she plans to do during the holidays anyway. She may be interested in her research that we’ve been doing lately. I think by that stage, if we’ve not hit some kind of breakthrough, then I’m going to need a break from all of that instead.”
“Yeah, I must admit, that I had thought myself a bit of a power-researcher. Now I know just how it is that she beats my scores every year.” Draco replied, chagrined.
“So, did you want to join me?”
“Yeah, I think I might, Thanks.”