EAD 2017 – Life’s Tangents

Title: Life’s Tangents

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Harry Potter

Word Count: ~4,900

Primary Pairings/Characters: Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy

Rating: M 

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

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

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

 

Life’s Tangents

Prologue

The feeling of bone weary tiredness seemed to be a constant in Harry Potter’s life now that he had lost everything. Even the walk from Hogwarts Gates to the Castle seemed almost too much, the throb in his thigh making every step painful. The trunk that levitated behind him started to sag lower and lower to the gravel path as Harry gradually made his way to the big oak doors of the school.

Just as Harry reached the stairs, the doors opened to reveal the now ageing Headmistress, Minerva McGonagall. The smile she bestowed on Harry had him internally gritting his teeth. Pity had no use in any situation.

“Welcome back to Hogwarts, Mr Potter,” McGonagall said warmly, holding the door open for him.

“Thanks, Professor, err… Headmistress,” Harry corrected himself, a blush covering his face; turns out the woman could still make him feel like a first year.

“Minerva, please,” she insisted, leading Harry into the castle and slowly to her office behind the Statue of a Griffin. She took his hand in hers as they walked, the pace slow for as much her benefit as his.

“How have you been?” Harry asked as he slowly lowered himself into the seat across from her desk, his trunk landing with a thunk behind him.

“Well, Mr Potter, or as much as old age allows,” she smirked as she poured tea for the both of them, “And you?”

“Much the same, as much as the ‘condition’ allows,” Harry replied, a sardonic smirk flashing quickly.

“I’m glad you’ve come back to Hogwarts, Mr Potter.”

“Harry.”

“Harry,” McGonagall smiled again, the pity once more visible in her eyes.

“So,” Harry started, not wanting to dwell on the past, “You want me for the Defence Against the Dark Arts position. I bet you never thought you would ask me when I was still a student here.”

“Quite the opposite, I assure you, Harry. Albus and I were quite aware of your ‘Defence Association’, and we were quite proud of you for it. You did a marvellous job preparing the students. In fact, we’d not had such high scores that year in Defence for several years prior to that,” she smiled proudly at him, making him blush again.

“Oh, I suppose you would have known about it, then,” Harry looked aside, slightly embarrassed.

McGonagall laughed, “Harry, that is why I know you will do well. You have a marvellous ability to interact with your peers and help them understand not just how the spell is done, but the logic behind it, how it can be useful, where it might be used. Not to mention your experience with the Aurors, which will stand you in good stead.”

“But what about my condition? There will be days where I’ll be incapable of teaching,” Harry asked bluntly, this was a major issue, if they couldn’t organise something now, then there was no hope of Harry staying to teach at Hogwarts.

“Well, we already had some ideas. We currently have a student studying for his Potions Mastery. As a part of his studies, he will be teaching First through Third years for the next two years, he has already agreed to make the Potion for you. For time off, as you know, Madam Pomfrey is well experienced with those of your condition, and I think would hardly let you leave her Infirmary if you weren’t at least feeling ninety percent,” McGonagall explained.

Harry’s interest was piqued with the Potions student, not knowing how Masteries were earned or awarded. Perhaps one day he could get one in Defence.

“As for the days you will be absent, we had thought perhaps you could use an altered Time Turner to take you back a few days and continue teaching once you were feeling better. The days you were still ill, you would remain in the Infirmary, which means there should be no risk of bumping into yourself.”

McGonagall seemed to observe him for a moment, “Perhaps I should stipulate there ‘should’ be no risk. However, being who you are, Mr Potter, trouble does seem to find you.”

Harry blushed again, it’s not like he could help it, “Everything seems to be already sorted out, then.”

“I’ve tried my best, Harry. We want to take care of you, and this affords us the opportunity for our students to learn from the best,” McGonagall said passionately, the hope shining in her eyes clear.

“I think you’ve answered all my questions, except one,” Harry smiled, “When do I move in?”

 

***

 

Chapter 1

It was typical that the Sorting Feast be the day of the Full Moon, leaving Harry to stay in the Shrieking Shack. His acute canine senses meant he could hear the train arrive at the Hogsmeade Station and the constant babble of excited students. It was all over again half an hour later and the night quiet once more.

Getting stiffly to his paws, Harry slowly trotted upstairs to where Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall had fixed up the main bedroom for him.

There were a new bed and linens against the wall, and the room had been repaired and repainted, though the outside of the house still looked ramshackle. Harry knew he wouldn’t be able to stay in this room, though, there were just too many memories. Everywhere he looked there were the remnants of Moony’s stay back in Harry’s Third Year. The Piano was back in the other corner of the room, along with the memories of Remus and Sirius chasing Peter Pettigrew as a rat.

Harry wanted to think of all the ways that night could have gone, had it not been a Full Moon; had Peter not got away; had Snape not been there to save them. There were too many ‘what if’s’ associated with that night. But it was no use thinking about it because none of those scenarios had played out.

This was the way life now was.

Him being a werewolf was now a part of that, too.

Walking further into the new room, Harry grabbed the comforter from the bed gently in his teeth and dragged it downstairs and into the corner by the window. Curling up, Harry slept fitfully, the pain of his injuries from the attack exacerbated again by the transformation

***

When Harry next woke up, he was in bed in the Infirmary. The sun was shining in through the high windows, and he could hear Madame Pomfrey pottering around in her supply room. He blindly attempted to reach for his glasses on the bedside table, but he immediately pulled his arm back to clutch his side.

The involuntary groan had Madame Pomfrey at his bedside in seconds.

“You haven’t been taking care of yourself very well lately, Mr Potter, have you? Or listening to your specialist.” The Mediwitch said, waving her wand over him to take observations.

“Sorry,” Harry croaked, this throat feeling raw.

“Don’t be saying sorry to me! You should be saying it to yourself!” she said disapprovingly, helping him to sit up and put his glasses on. As soon as he was settled, she was plying him with potions until he felt full of them. It was only when he felt his eyelids dropping that he realised the last of the Potions must have been a Dreamless Sleep. Just before he fell asleep entirely, he vaguely heard Pomfrey sigh, “Go to sleep, dear. You need the rest.”

 

***

 

Harry stayed four days in the Infirmary before Madame Pomfrey would even think about letting him out. Considering it was only the day before that he was able to walk any further than the bathroom and back, he didn’t argue too much. The Headmistress visited him twice in the last few days, sitting with him in the afternoon, keeping him occupied with the discussion of lesson plans. He was very grateful for that distraction, as it was in the days immediately following the Full Moon that depression set in again. It was during those days where he was laid up in bed that he had all the time in the world to think about and be reminded of all that he had lost.

On the fourth day, he was allowed parchment and a quill, so he set to work on a rough term plan for all the classes. When he was released from the Infirmary the next day, the Headmistress came down to meet him.

“It’s good to see you up and about, Harry,” she smiled warmly, the pity carefully hidden.

“It’s good to ‘be’ up,” Harry replied, stretching carefully.

While Madame Pomfrey conducted her final checks, McGonagall explained.

“This is the Time Turner you’ll be using,” the Headmistress said, presenting Harry with the little hour glass suspended inside a circle on a long chain. Where Hermione’s had been silver, this one was gold with a strange luminescent light inside instead of sand like the Muggle hourglass.

“Each 360-degree turn of the hour glass represents a twenty-four hour period. For example, you’ll be needing to go back four days, so you will need to turn it in an anti-clockwise manner four times, end to end. But you had best to it in your rooms otherwise you might meet yourself in the Infirmary,” the Headmistress smiled, handing the Time Turner into Harry’s hands.

Harry turned it over in his hands, surprised at how delicate it was. But he could feel the magic in it, like an aura around it.

“So, I guess there’s nothing else then?” Harry asked, looking to Madame Pomfrey to double check.

“Only stick to the plan that I’ve made for you, Mr Potter. If anything feels wrong of if you’re in pain, fire call me, and I’ll come to see you as soon as I can. I don’t want you running into yourself here in the Infirmary.”

“Will do, Madame Pomfrey,” Harry smiled mischievously, making the nurse finally smile at him.

“Oh, off with you,” she shooed him out with half a laugh.

“You don’t mind if I see you off, do you Harry?” The Headmistress asked as she walked with him out the doors.

“No, that’s fine. I’ll probably have some questions by the time we get to my rooms you could answer.” Harry said, walking slowly. His leg seemed to have stiffened up a little after lying in bed for the last four days.

They walked in silence the two floors that separated Harry’s rooms from the Infirmary, the castle quiet in the early morning light.

Once in his room, Harry took a well-needed seat at the desk chair by the door.

“Are you sure you wish to go back now? You could take some time to sleep if you need it. It would only be a slight adjustment with the Time Turner to go back the appropriate time,” McGonagall said, her tone worried.

“No, it will be fine. Besides, the 2nd was a Saturday, so I’ll still have some time to recover,” Harry said resolutely. He felt like he had wasted enough time as it was.

“Very well, then,” McGonagall sighed, “when you’re ready.”

“So, it’s just one turn for each day?” Harry asked, and the Headmistress nodded.

“What about parts of days?”

“Unfortunately, this kind of Time Turner isn’t as refined as the one that Miss Granger used in her Third year. That one was specialised for use over hours. This one is specifically used for days. I suppose that it could be used for hours, but you would need to be very careful when moving it in increments.”

Harry nodded his understanding, he probably wouldn’t use it for partial days, but it was good to know.

“Alright then,” Harry stood, getting up from the chair and stood in the middle of the room. “Here goes.”

“Good luck, Harry.” The Headmistress smiled.

“Knowing me, I’ll need it.”

Harry took up the little hourglass and placed the chain around his neck. Holding it out in front of him and trying to be as precise as possible, he turned the little knob on the side and turned the Time Turner four times. When he had finished the fourth revolution, he pushed the little knob back in and the Hourglass started spinning. Everything seemed to speed up in reverse. He watched as he and McGonagall walked out of the room a lot faster than they had walked in. The sunlight from the window suddenly disappeared before coming back again. He watched as the House Elves came in each morning to tidy and air the room, even though it hadn’t necessarily needed it.

Time seemed to stop very quickly once the Time Turner stopped spinning in his hands, Time itself returning to normal. Looking around, nothing seemed different or out of place. Casting a charm to check the time, Harry found that it was just before breakfast on September 2nd, the exact time it had been when he left the future. This year the school started on a weekend, so Harry was lucky that he still had two days to finish his lesson plans and make an appearance in the Great Hall. Already he could imagine the students’ confusion and subsequent theories on his absence from the Feast.

Deciding he might as well make a start, Harry left his rooms to gradually make his way to the Great Hall.

The few staircases that were between Harry’s rooms and the Hall were generous today as they all changed to allow him the shortest route and stay put until he had gotten off again. He was met by the Fat Friar from Hufflepuff along the way who cheerfully welcomed him back to the School before disappearing through the wall.

Even though it was still early in the morning on the weekend, there was still a fair amount of eager students in the Great Hall with loaded plates before them, happily chatting about their holidays. When Harry walked in, there was a slight lull in conversation as students noticed who had walked in and how he was leaning on his cane. Harry tried not to be too obvious about his dependence on it, but it couldn’t be helped. Especially not after half a week lying in the Hospital Wing.

Talk quickly resumed as Harry made his way up to the Head Table where Madame Pomfrey, Professor Vector and Headmistress McGonagall were already sitting. Taking a seat next to the Headmistress, Harry couldn’t help sighing in relief as he stretched his sore leg out in front of him.

“Good morning, Harry,” Minerva said as she took a sip of her tea.

“Morning, Professor,” Harry replied, flashing a quick smile.

“Are you feeling any better this morning, Harry?” Madame Pomfrey asked from Minerva’s other side.

“Little stiff, mainly tired, though,” he said, reaching for the toast.

“Well, you let me know if anything doesn’t feel right, Mr Potter. I still remember your time here as a student! There’s no need to soldier on through the pain. You come to me!” the matron said firmly, making Harry blush.

“Yes, Mam.”

“Good! Now eat up, you need the energy.”

McGonagall just smirked at him as she watched, casually sipping her tea.

“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding,” a sarcastic drawl interrupted them, the voice Harry immediately recognising.

“Good morning, Mr Malfoy. You remember Mr Potter?” McGonagall said pleasantly, her tone enforcing civility between the two wizards.

“I’m sure the entire wizarding world remembers the Boy Who Lived,” Malfoy said dismissively, taking a seat at the opposite end of the table.

“Good to see you, too, Malfoy,” Harry couldn’t help snarking back.

McGonagall sent a reproving glare at Harry, “Mr Malfoy is the Potions student who will be making your potion, Harry.”

Judging by Harry’s expression, McGonagall thought she should explain.

“Mr Malfoy will be making it, yes, but he will be overseen by our Potions Master. There is nothing to worry about,” she smiled encouragingly.

Harry wanted to believe her, but he couldn’t help the uneasy feeling.

~*~

After breakfast, Harry returned to his rooms and continued to work on his lesson plans. The window was open next to his desk, bringing a warm breeze in. He barely noticed the time pass before the breeze had turned cool and there was an uneaten sandwich at his elbow.

Glancing at the time, Harry packed up the paperwork and got up to take a quick walk to work out the stiff muscles in his back and legs. In hindsight, he really shouldn’t have lost track of time.

He grimaced as he stood, hand white on the head of the cane as he breathed through the pain. He forced himself to move about the room, the stiffness disappearing down to normal levels and he finally caught his breath.

Out in the corridors, he took a slightly longer route to the Great Hall. There were lots of students milling about in the courtyards and walking the corridors. He ended up passing the library which was empty and dark.

Harry made to continue on until a flickering light caught his attention. He took a few steps inside when the light suddenly came a lot closer.

“Can I help you, Potter?” Malfoy suddenly appeared, holding a bag overflowing with books and parchment, a candle held in his other hand being the source of light.

“Just curious to who was in the library, seeing as it seems closed,” Harry said defensively, trying to back out of the way.

“Drawn by bright lights, are you? Is that why you didn’t get out of the way of that werewolf? Moon too bright?” Draco said, a nasty sneer on his face, enjoying Harry’s pain.

“Not quite, Malfoy,” Harry shot back stonily, turning to walk away.

“Not scared of the dark?” Malfoy called to Harry’s retreating back.

“Hardly,” Harry said as he walked out of the library, “Just tired.”

 

Chapter 2

“Good morning class and welcome to Third Year Defence Against the Dark Arts. I’m Professor Potter.”

Harry looked out at his first class as a Professor, third year Gryffindor/Slytherin.

“Who can tell me what you’ve studied so far?”

A sea of hands went up, so Harry chose at random.

“What did you cover first year?” Harry prompted, the young girl blushed.

“We studied *****************************************,”

“Very good, Miss?”

“Alicia Thorntail.”

“Ten points to Gryffindor, Miss Thorntail,” Harry smiled, “What did you cover last year?”

This time Harry pointed at a Slytherin boy.

“Martin Goyle, and we covered ****************************************************.”

“Very good, thank you, Mr Goyle. Ten points to Slytherin,” Harry said, mind faintly reminiscing on the other Goyle he had known.

Taking a seat on the front of his desk, Harry began his first lesson.

By the end of the class, both houses were up thirty points, which had left the students happy, yet confused. It was a well-known fact that Harry was a Gryffindor, and yet there was no favouritism. In fact, he’d been very careful to show none at all.

As much respect Harry now belatedly had for Professor Snape, he didn’t want to be likened to him because of favouritism. Like Dumbledore had said, it is our choices which define us. Slytherins were no more evil than any other house. And if he helped house unity while he was here at Hogwarts, then all the better.

Harry spent the day revising with each class what they had previously studied and what the most important details were about each. He had lunch with the rest of the school in the Great Hall. Midway through the afternoon, though, the ache in his thigh came back with force. He barely made it through the last lesson before fire calling after the last student had left.

“Mr Potter, what can I do for you?” Madame Pomfrey asked as soon as the connection was made.

“I was wondering if I could get something for the pain,” Harry asked meekly.

“Of course you can!” the Mediwitch said, her tone practically a reprimand, “How long has it been hurting?”

“Just after lunch,” Harry admitted.

Madame Pomfrey clucked her tongue at that but knew there was nothing she could do.

“Next time, you will take the two minutes between classes to call me,” She glared at Harry before she disappeared from the flames. Only a few moments had passed before the fire flared again allowing the Mediwitch to step out.

“Scale of one to ten, how bad is the pain?” she asked as she drew a goblet out of thin air with her wand.

“Seven, I guess,” Harry sighed, perching back on the nearest desk.

Madame Pomfrey only clucked her tongue again, her disproval clear again that he hadn’t come to her sooner. He was just so worried about becoming addicted to the pain potions, even though he understood being in pain tensed the muscles and slowed the healing process.

“Drink this, though you should probably go back to your rooms for dinner. This will make you pretty drowsy.” The matron advised kindly, gently urging him to his feet.

“Thank you, Madame Pomfrey,” Harry said genuinely, his gratitude showing now that the potion was taking over his body.

“Poppy,” she said, leading Harry out the classroom, his arm wrapped in hers as they slowly walked down the crowded corridors to his room.

“Thanks, Poppy,” Harry smiled. He couldn’t believe how fast the potion had taken effect as he could already feel his eyes drooping and his feet dragging. Before he knew it, they were back in his quarters and Poppy was pulling the sheets back on the bed.

Harry only had time to take off his robes and shoes before he was tumbling into bed, out like a light.

~*~

“Where’s Potter?” Malfoy asked, trying to hide his snide tone. He was the only Professor missing from the Head Table.

“Unwell, Mr Malfoy,” Madame Pomfrey said shortly, “He will return to his classes in the morning.”

The Headmistress looked up, surprised at not having heard earlier.

“Poppy?”

“He will be fine, Minerva. He finished his classes and retired to his rooms for dinner. That boy really should be resting that leg more,” the Matron reassured the woman quietly. Malfoy had just snorted and resumed his dinner.

“I wish there was something more we could do for him,” Minerva said sadly, laying her utensils aside.

“Me too, but there are no Potions catering to the werewolf market. And Hellebore is such a rare allergy in the general populace that there has never really been a cause for it,” Madame Pomfrey explained.

“Perhaps I could speak with Professor Hemmindale. He might spare some time to research,” McGonagall mused out loud.

“Perhaps there is someone else we could ask, though ask may be the wrong word to use. It would be good to see them get along,” Madame Pomfrey said quietly, taking a glance at the youngest member of staff at the Table.

“It would be good. Especially for the students. Their bickering could be seen as acceptance of that kind of behaviour,” McGonagall reasoned, a mischievous smile forming.

~*~

Harry eventually developed a rhythm at Hogwarts after that first month. He was learning the names of his students, and they were learning quickly the topics he taught them. There were a couple of times he’d had to call Madame Pomfrey, but as long as he took it easy and didn’t strain for anything, then those visits were purely check-ups.

He was starting to feel a little better when he started to feel the pull grow again.

According to his specialist at St. Mungo’s, he would eventually heal, but instead of about 12 weeks to heal without magic, it would take more than 8 months for Harry because the Transformation undid most of the healing that had occurred that month. He had come to dread the coming of the full moon for that simple fact. It felt like he was going back to square one like he had been straight after he had been bitten.

He could feel the day coming up, though, as it pulled at him late at night, the moon rising a little earlier each day. He didn’t have to look at the calendar to know that the full moon was the following night. His senses were already starting to heighten, which is why he heard the fire splutter before Ginny’s head appeared in the fire.

“Hey Harry,” she greeted kindly, a sad smile on her face.

Unfortunately, it was Ginny’s pity more than anyone else’s that annoyed him the most.

“Hey Gin,” Harry replied, setting his quill and marking aside.

“How are you doing?”

“Pretty much the same,” Harry said shortly, the werewolf instincts becoming more prevalent as the full moon drew closer.

“Oh,” Ginny said awkwardly, “Well, at least you’re not getting any worse,” She quipped back, not realising what she’d said until too late.

Harry remained silent.

“Well, um, I actually had a reason I was calling. Um, I’m pregnant,” she blurted out, her cheeks turning redder in the flames.

“Congratulations,” Harry said, trying to be happy for her, “How did Dean take it?”

“Good. He’s very excited,” Ginny said, but Harry could tell there was more to it than that. He just nodded and waited her out.

“We, um… we got a Paternity Potion, just to be sure, and um… It’s yours,” Ginny wouldn’t meet his eyes after that, glancing at him through her fringe.

Harry was struck speechless. He and Ginny had talked about having kids when they were still together. But after he’d been bitten, everything seemed to fall apart. He never thought he would have a chance to be a father now.

“So,” Harry started, but he didn’t know how to continue.

The silence stretched on for another minute before Ginny couldn’t handle anymore.

“I’d better go. Um, it was, ah, good to see you again, Harry,” She said quickly, starting to disappear.

“Wait! Um, what were you going to, um, do?” Harry stuttered, suddenly quite earnest.

“We’re not sure yet. Dean and I are still talking. We’ll keep it, but we haven’t really decided anything beyond that. I’ll speak to Dean about catching up with you,” Ginny sounded hurried, the awkwardness overpowering Harry’s senses even through the flames.

“Alright. Well, take care then, Gin,” Harry replied, wanting Ginny to leave just as much as she obviously wanted to escape.

“You too, Harry.”

Then she was gone.

The sound of broken glass followed in Ginny’s wake, the water that had been inside it soaking into the carpet on the other side of the room.

The werewolf hearing picked up the near silent pop that signalled a house elf arriving to clean up.

Harry never noticed his accelerating breathing or his hand clenched tightly in a fist. All that was running through his mind was the unfairness of it all. This should have been a happy time.

Keyword there being, ‘should’.

Ever since his days spent in the cupboard under the stairs, Harry had dreamed of finally having a family of his own. And he thought he’d had had that with Ginny.

Until the werewolf attack.

There was no way he could sleep tonight

~*~

The next day did nothing to promote werewolf rights or their reputation. Harry spent most of the day snapping at those around him and limping the corridors in a barely concealed rage.

Even the students were keeping a wide berth of him, sitting silently in class and taking copious notes.

McGonagall had tried cornering him at lunch time, but Harry did what all wild animals do when pushed into a corner. Harry was just thankful that she had seen him the previous month before the transformation, and therefore knew that this wasn’t his usual behaviour.

He just hoped he wasn’t fired because of it.

When he could, he avoided people at all costs, but he just knew the world was out to get him right now.

“What’s up your arse, Potter? You’ve been in a foul mood all day. You’r- OI!!”

Harry limped straight past Malfoy, not daring to stop or even glance at the Slytherin.

“So the Great Potter is too busy to even acknowledge the mere mortals around him, then?” Malfoy goaded, choosing to trail after Harry.

Harry just tried to limp away faster, but he knew it was a losing battle.

“Nothing to say to defend yourself, then? It’s always been said that you hated the limelight. Perhaps that’s wrong then. Maybe you do like the attention,” Malfoy bated.

Harry could only try to restrain his anger and ignore the blonde. Before he ripped his head off.

“It’s been a while since you defeated Voldemort, hey Potter. Is that why you went for a round with a werewolf?”

The speed with which Harry turned and was in his face surprised Draco, but it was the hard, glinting canine eyes devoid of the famous green that had him stepping back.

“Leave off it, Malfoy,” Harry growled, the sound rolling from deep in his chest. Harry kept the glare focused on the blonde, waiting for his submission. It took a few minutes, but eventually, Malfoy snorted and walked away.

Taking a deep breath, Harry tried to release the tension and rage building in his shoulders.

He tried not to notice the blood he had drawn on the palms of his hands.

~*~

 

TBC

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EAD 2017 – Marine!Stiles (temp name)

Title: Marine!Stiles (temp file name)

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Teen Wolf

Word Count: ~10,000

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

Rating: M 

Content/Warnings: Canon level violence, language

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

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

 

There wasn’t anyone there to meet him at the airport. He hadn’t told anyone he was coming home. The Sheriff knew it was soon, but Stiles had never elaborated beyond that. He picked up his duffle and made his way to hire a car for the week. The two-hour drive out to Beacon Hills served to show some things don’t change. In the town itself, there were a few more difference, new coffee shop here, new twenty-four-hour gym there that he made a mental note to investigate later.

The hotel was at least newly renovated and had free Wi-Fi. The bed was ridiculously soft, and more than once through the night he contemplated camping out on the floor. The next morning found him out on the street at five in the morning for his run. Eight years of habit wasn’t going to break anytime soon.

An hour later he was back with a pamphlet and application form for the 24-hour gym. He dropped the completed form off on the way to his favourite Diner for breakfast. He wasn’t the least bit surprised by who he found there.

“I see that whole special heart healthy diet thing is working well then,” Stiles commented, sitting on the other side of the booth. In front of the Sheriff was a full continental breakfast.

“And I’ve been good all week. You can check with Melissa.” The Sheriff pointedly took another mouthful of real bacon.

“You know I will.” Stiles snorted. “And with Maeve too.”

The sheriff winced.

Stiles smirked in triumph. “Maybe you should join me for a run in the mornings?”

“I spend enough time on the treadmill as it is, thank you.” The Sheriff took another mouthful, chewed, and swallowed. “Are you home now?”

“Yeah, dad. I’m home now.” He leant back in the booth with a smile.

The Sheriff’s face transformed into a grin as he hastily stood up. “Come ‘ere.”

Stiles stood eagerly for the first bone crushing hug he had had from his father in years.

“Welcome back, son.” He sniffed back the tears only just.

“I missed you so much,” Stiles wasn’t faring much better.

“I’m so proud of you,” he tightened the hug one last time before moving to step back. “Have you submitted your application yet?”

“No. I was going to drop it off this morning after breakfast.”

“Stiles, is that you?” The elderly waitress, Maeve asked as she approached the table to take his order.

“Yeah, it’s me!” Stiles grinned.

“Didn’t you grow up in all the right places. You must be fending off all the girls and boys. Where have you been all this time?”

“Marines. Just finished my eight years. Thought it was time I came home and helped dad out.”

“Beacon Hills will be lucky to have you as one of her Deputies. Now, what can I get for you?”

“Your amazing waffles, please.”

“Extra strawberries and a chocolate shake?” Maeve finished from memory. “Coming right up.”

A few moments later the thick shake was delivered, and the two men sat in companionable silence. Stiles was halfway through his breakfast as the Sheriff pushed back his plate.

“Have you checked in with the pack yet?” The Sheriff asked between sips of coffee.

Stiles tried not to tense up at the question. Judging by his father’s expression, he had failed. “Not yet.”

“What about Scott?”

“A few months back.”

“Does he know you’re coming home?”

“Not yet.”

“When do you plan on telling them? Or are you going to wait for it to blow up in your face?”

Stiles sighed heavily and stared out the window, remaining silent.

“You never did tell me what it was that made you leave.” The Sheriff took a sip of his coffee.

“I know.” Stiles pushed away his half-eaten plate.

“I’m still here when you’re ready to tell me. Where are you staying?”

“Hotel out by Main.”

The Sheriff nodded. “You know you can-“

“Yeah. I know dad.”

“Any time Stiles. You’re my son. You’ll always be welcome.” He reached across and grasped Stiles shoulder in support. “Well, I’d better get going. I have a meeting to prepare for a new Deputy.”

“Yeah. I’ll be there soon.” Stiles smiled, but the earlier ease was gone. In its place was the Marine John hadn’t met before. He wasn’t sure how he felt about that.

Stiles was left to contemplate just what he was going to do. Well, he knew what he wanted to do – organise his human life and ignore the supernatural one for as long as possible. The fact that the two were intertwined was hampering that effort. The whole reason he was back in Beacon Hills was to help his dad and the Sheriff’s Station with the supernatural.

He just wasn’t looking forward to dealing with the pack. Things had been so weird Post-Nogitsune and then after the Dread Doctors that he had just bugged out. He wasn’t exactly proud of how he left, but he just hadn’t been able to do it anymore.

Not deal with betrayal, working with enemies turned allies. Not dealing with suddenly being useless. Not being trusted.

At least that second to last one was fixed now.

~*~

“Stiles, is that you?”

Stiles beamed as he was enveloped in the motherly hug from the woman who had run the Sheriff Station front desk for as long as Stiles could remember.

“It’s good to see you, Barb.”

“It’s good to have you back. And these papers are for you, I believe.” She smirked.

“Yeah, I’m joining up.”

“Beacon Hills will be lucky to have you, just so long as that trouble that always follows you doesn’t end up here.” Her serious demand was botched by the mischievous glint in her eye and the smirk that threatened.

“Me? I’m a paragon of innocence,” he mock-gasped.

“Hah! Maybe before you started walking. I know better. I’ve certainly known you long enough.”

Stiles took the offered clipboard and pen, quickly filled in the information, and handed it back with a copy of his discharge papers and his last scores on the firing range.

“All done? Just head on through to the Sheriff’s office then. I’m glad you’re back, love.” This time, it was a genuine smile that felt like a stab to the heart with guilt.

It was the right thing to do, he reminded himself.

Taking a deep breath, he smiled and pushed the guilt down. With a nod, he headed into the bowels of the station. Nothing much had changed here either, but it looked like they at least had newer computers.

The door was already open to the Sheriff’s office, so Stiles strode straight through and closed the door – ready for his interview.

“All done with the paperwork then?” The Sheriff asked with an easy smile.

“Yep. And I’ve got the other paperwork like you asked.”

“Great.” The Sheriff took the stack, leafed through it briefly and put it together with some more paperwork he had on his desk. “Ok, just need you to sign the contract and these forms for the gun and badge.”

Stiles’ eyes widened at the gun and badge that were placed on the desk.

“What happened to the interview? And I thought it took a few weeks for processing.” Stiles asked, confusion evident on his face.

“I’ve had these sitting on my desk waiting for when you got home. I pulled your Psych Eval. from the Core to get things through earlier. You can start today if you like.” The Sheriff sat back with a satisfied grin. It wasn’t often he could pull one over his son, he was going to savour this.

“Wow. So.. shit.”

“I know you did some time with the MP’s in the Core, but you’ll still need to do a probationary period for six months, and there will be some tests to prove competency. It’ll be good to get you back in the swing of a civilian population. Now, I don’t want to any arguments. I know what I’m doing. Your training officer is going to –“

“STILES!”

Stiles was up and going for the service piece that was currently absent from his right hip, ready to defend from the man that had crashed through the door.

“Officer Hale. Good timing.” The sheriff’s tone was flat in annoyance.

The room was silent a moment as Stiles and Derek looked at each other, not knowing what to say.

“Take a seat, Derek. You might as well stay. As I was saying, Stiles. Your training officer will be Derek. He’s trained all my officers exceptionally over the last five years. I was going to have you meet after lunch, I guess we can move that up now. Parrish can cover your morning patrol, Derek.

“Spend the morning getting caught up and get the OHS new employee pack out of the way. I need you two to be able to work together. In the future, I’d like the both of you paired together as our lead supernatural officers with Parish and someone else as your secondary. We’ll look into it. Now scram you two. Stiles get that paperwork to Barb ASAP. Take the badge and gun with you. Uniform is in your locker. Number seventeen. I’ll talk to both of you later about this side project.”

“Sorry to interrupt, Sheriff,” Derek said in the ensuing silence.

“Forget about it, Derek. I think this time was an extenuating circumstance.” The Sheriff gave a wry smile. “Welcome to the team, Stiles.”

“Thanks, Sheriff.” Stiles mock saluted, gathering his paperwork up with this new Police badge and gun, and trooped out after Derek.

The werewolf led him over to an empty desk that faced another full yet tidy desk.

“You’ll… ah. You’ll be working across from me. So, you can leave the paperwork there for now. The top draw is a locked draw for your badge and gun.”

Stiles nodded, immediately stowing the gun and badge there for now before being led to the locker rooms. The key from the desk’s lock draw matched the locker, so he opened it to check out his new uniform.

“Change rooms are through there if you want to go put it on.” Derek leant against the door frame with a weird little frown Stiles hadn’t ever seen.

He shrugged it off and took the uniform to the next room. Derek followed to lean just inside the door. Once Stiles was safely inside the cubicle, Derek started talking.

“So. How long have you been back?”

“Flew in yesterday.”

“Oh. The Sheriff and Scott didn’t mention you were coming back.”

“They didn’t know.”

“Oh.”

The silence was awkward as Stiles finished dressing. A few minutes later he left the cubicle with his bundled civvies under his arm.

“It suits you,” Derek said with a cough.

“Thanks,” Stiles smirked at himself in the mirror, it really did suit him.

“I didn’t know you wanted to be a cop.”

Stiles looked at Derek in time to watch his face do a weird grimace. “It’s always been the intention.” Stiles continued into the locker room again. “Was going to go the college route. Might still do some night classes anyway.”

“So why the marines then?” Derek pushed, but by the look on Stiles’ face, it was one question too far.

“Thought I’d look good in the fatigues.” The harsh, sarcastic grin had Derek looking away.

“So where are you sta-“

“So that paperwork. We should get that done, yeah?” Stiles didn’t give the werewolf a chance to say anything further, leaving the locker room for the bullpen.

~*~

He ploughed through the paperwork in under an hour, all the online courses and OHS completed, so the Sheriff gave them the go ahead to do Stiles’ first patrol.

The afternoon was quiet as Derek drove, travelling the streets of the upper suburbs, catching a speeder being the only highlight of the day.

By the time they were making their way back on the outskirts of the reserve, it was almost nightfall, and they were due to clock out in an hour. Derek suddenly putting the brakes on the thankfully deserted road had Stiles rolling his eyes at the thought of overtime on the first day.

“What is it?”

“Not too sure. Something big enough to roar, though.” Derek frowned, cocking his head to listen better.

In days gone by it would have been a fantastic opportunity for a dog joke.

“I knew I should have brought my utility belt,” Stiles grumbled. “I should have asked, has there been much recently?”

“Yeah.” Derek sighed, moving the car to pull over onto the shoulder. “It’s getting worse.”

“Worse enough for Dad to allocate four officers out of ten to the supernatural squad.” Stiles nodded to himself. “Bad enough. All right. We’re checking it out?”

“Yeah, Parrish doesn’t have a partner yet. And that definitely wasn’t Scott,” Derek undid his seatbelt and stepped out of the patrol car.

Stiles joined him, checking his weapon and the two spare clips in his belt, making a mental note to upgrade the baton to an iron core.

They entered the forest silently, keeping an ear out for any further clues to what it was and where it might be. They had walked for over fifteen minutes before Derek signalled in a particular direction. Stiles nodded his acknowledgement, raising and arming his gun just in case.

Another ten minutes and Derek had led them downwind of a quadrupedal beast that Stiles wasn’t sure would be in his Bestiary. Thanking any deity listening that he’d picked up an iPhone, he flicked it to silent and opened the camera app. He took a few quick photos hoping they might catch something in the gloom, or that some creative computer work might.

Derek wasn’t much help as his expression didn’t change from the focused intent as he watched the beast.

Heaving a silent sigh, Stiles started mentally cataloguing as much as he could. Blinking, he turned on his mage sight and viewed the scene again, trying to make as clear a mental picture as possible. Blinking again he returned his sight to normal, and he was ready to back off and do some research.

They were on the outskirts of the county, and the preserve itself stretched for miles before it hit another township. They should hopefully be safe for now.

Until a branch fell from a tree twenty feet behind them.

‘Just my fucking luck,’ Stiles groused internally.

Nobody moved as the beast stared them down, nostrils flaring as it tried to scent them. It was a tense few minutes before the beast spun on the spot, disappearing in a burst of flames.

The sounds of the forest gradually returned as Stiles and Derek relaxed. By silent agreement, they stepped forward into the clearing.

“Did that thing really just disappear into nothing?”

Derek grunted, squatting down to look at the scorch marks where it had been.

“Nothing.”

“Looks like a busy night, then.”

They made their way back to the car and back to the station, the sun fully set and the dusk waning to full night.

They passed Parrish on the way to the lockers and filled him in quickly. Stiles emailed the photos he had currently and cc’d the Sheriff in as well.

Derek was waiting in the locker room for him, Stiles raised an eyebrow in question at the werewolf’s presence.

“I was wondering where you were staying? I know you just got back into town. Are you at your dad’s?” Derek kept talking the longer Stiles didn’t say anything.

“Why?”

“I just figured if anything happened if I needed to come pick you up or something.”

“And let the pack know?” Stiles turned away to open his locker and retrieve his satchel.

“I wasn’t going to. It’s none of my business. I figured you’d want to talk to Scott yourself, anyway.”

Stiles snorted in derision. “Won’t he smell me on you?”

“I don’t know how he would, I’ve no plans on seeing him this week.” Derek defended.

Stiles hmphed to himself, filing the information away for thinking on later.

“I’m at the motel on Main for now, until I find somewhere.” Stiles finally answered.

“Not with your dad?” Derek frowned.

“No.” Stiles didn’t expand on it. “Here’s my number if you need to find me.”

Another minute later he had a text from Derek to give him his number. He saved it as SourWolf for old time’s sake.

“All right. Well. See you in the morning.” Stiles hitched his satchel over his shoulder and made his way ‘home’.

~*~

*what’s this about trouble on your first shift*

Stiles read the text and rolled his eyes.

*emailed the prelim report to you*

*going to see argent & his bestiary*
*he still @ same place?*

Back in the motel room, he gathered up his supply belt and hunter’s pack he had made while in the core. He strapped it around his leg and stuffed everything else in his satchel. Not having as many pockets were really going to mess with his organisation.

*same house last I heard. want me to come with*

*I’m good*

He drove the rental car to the other side of town, mentally making a note to look at buying a new car. After he hooked up his laptop. After buying a new laptop. Stiles sighed.

Chris Argent still lived in the same apartment he had moved to after Victoria died. Stiles was surprised, considering the memories of Allison that must remain.

Or maybe he was just thinking about his own memories. Nightmares. They weren’t often, but they still popped up every now and then.

“Stiles?” Chris’ shock was evident as he opened the door and invited him in without question. “I didn’t realise you were back in town.”

“Only as of yesterday,” Stiles gave a cursory look to the sparse walls of the hallway, only three pictures were hung, and only one of them was a picture of Chris with Allison.

“And already a member of the Sheriff’s department?” Chris led him into the kitchen and motioned to a chair at the breakfast bar.

“Turns out dad’s pretty organised.” Stiles grinned, accepting the coffee mug he was handed.

“That he is. What can I help you with?”

“Some local suppliers to keep my kit up to date, but more immediately, I was wondering if I could check out your bestiary for something.”

“Interest or threat?” Chris left the room, walking back with his laptop from another room.

“Hopefully not a threat?” Stiles replied, shrugging at the other man’s raised eyebrow. “Derek and I saw something at the end of our patrol tonight. It’s not in the bestiary I have, but that is mostly middle eastern. Derek had no idea either, though I don’t suppose he would know anyway. I don’t see him as much of a lore keeper type.”

“Have you seen Deaton yet?”

“No. I don’t particularly want to either.” Stiles put in all the details he could and hit search. He was disappointed though not necessarily surprised when it didn’t return any results.

“Looks like a trip to Deaton’s may be in store then,” Chris frowned, it wasn’t often that his bestiary failed him.

“I’d prefer not to. It’s not like he would give us anything even if he did know anything.” Stiles managed to keep the growl from his voice through sheer force of will. Chris saw his expression anyway.

“Everything all right between the two of you?”

“Not really. The man’s a dickwad, too caught up in his True Alpha schtick he’s peddling to Scott to see the damage he’s doing to the Territory.”

“Finally, someone who takes my view of things.” The droll voice from the doorway could only belong to one man, and it made him want to roll his eyes.

“Peter. Nice to see you’re still a CreeperWolf.”

“Always, darling. Now, I know I have reason to have beef with our beloved vet, but yours sounds entirely too personal to be just concern for the Territory.” The wolf sashayed into the room, taking a seat next to him at the breakfast bar and helping himself to Stiles’ coffee.

“You knew I had the spark, didn’t you? That night you kidnapped me.” Stiles stared him down, hoping to finally get an answer.

“Of course, but you knew that. Ah. And Deaton should have known that.” Peter sneered, his fangs showing for a moment.

“And he got confirmation when I used the Mountain Ash, made it go further than it was supposed to. And then?”

“He did nothing,” Chris said grimly.

“Oh no, he encouraged Scott, Allison and me to sacrifice ourselves for the Nemeton.” Stiles spat. Both Chris and Peter’s frown’s deepened.

“And after that he still did nothing. He practically invited the Nogitsune in.” Chris growled.

“Bingo. You’ll be happy to hear the Marines have a dedicated supernatural branch that put me in contact with a teacher in the Middle East while I was over there. I’m much more prepared now.”

“Yes, it’s what woke me from my nap. I could smell the presence you have now. How it’s changed. I said you would be amazing.” Peter leered, a light in his eye.

“Keep me out of your scheming. I don’t want to get caught up in your shenanigans. I need to figure out what this is.” He pulled up the photo of the creature to show them.

Both men frowned again as they looked at the photo. Chris took the phone a moment, the tell-tale ding on the computer meant he had emailed to himself. Taking the phone back, he emailed the rest too as Chris fiddled on the computer.

In the meantime, Peter finished Stiles coffee and was now working on Chris’.

Eventually, Chris sat back, the image much cleaner now. “I have no idea what it is. I don’t think I’ve even heard of anything like this.”

“It appears we have homework tonight, Christopher.” Peter studied the picture.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to put you guys out or mess with your plans.” Stiles rubbed the back of his head.

“Nonsense, Stiles. You’re always welcome in Christopher and I’s plans, right Christopher?”

“We’re happy to help, Stiles.” Chris frowned at Peter, but there was also the barest hint of a blush too. Peter grinned unrepentantly.

“Have you eaten yet, Stiles?” Peter stood, casually brushing past both Stiles and Chris as he walked the long way around the breakfast bar into the kitchen.

“No, I was going to grab something after here on my way to see you if I had no luck with Chris.” Stiles shifted in his seat.

“How convenient that I was here then. You’ll stay for dinner.” Peter turned and began getting pots and pans out. “Christopher, would you mind getting my laptop so Stiles may start going through my bestiary?”

A minute later Stiles was ensconced on the lounge as he booted up Peter’s computer, making a concerted effort not to think about the fact that it seemed Chris and Peter were fucking if they weren’t actually in a relationship. He most definitely didn’t want to think about them together in case Peter smelt his body’s reaction to how very okay he was with that thought.

He would never live it down.

Where Chris’ computer had a massive database, most probably maintained over the years by the large Argent Clan, Peter’s was a giant index.

It was disheartening to see how many of the index entries led to books that were destroyed. He could only imagine what the Hale library must have looked like before the fire.

“I’ve recently reacquired that one if you wanted to have a look.”

Stiles jumped in his seat, barely saving the laptop from crashing on the ground.

“In came today, in fact.” Peter returned a minute later with a crate in hand, setting it down on the coffee table. He popped his claws a moment, cracking the lid off the crate before wandering back to the kitchen.

Chris watched him warily as he went before joining Stiles on the lounge.

Digging through the packing foam, inside a zip lock bag, they found the ancient looking tome. Opening the baggie, they could smell the mustiness that came with all aged books.

Stiles carefully opened the book and paged through to the indexed page. And there it was, in an artist’s replication, the strange beast with fire at its feet. Stiles quickly read through the details, eager for all information. In the end, he could only sit back in suspicion.

“It’s a summoned creature, not normally found on the earth plane. But is not a particularly dangerous one, just like any other wild animal.”

“Dinner’s ready.” Peter already had the table set and was just plating it all when Stiles fixed him with a glare.

“Did you summon it?” Stiles growled.

“Although I would have many reasons to summon such a creature for a variety of end results, no I did not. But I did see it in the Preserve over a week ago and so moved up my timetable on procuring that particular book.”

“Many reasons, huh. I can get that, actually. You don’t have much of a pack bond with Scott’s pack, do you?” Stiles sat down at the table.

“And neither does Derek,” Peter said shortly, cutting into his steak.

“That would mean Scott having to call on the both of you like a pack to help him deal with it as most of the pack are still scattered.” Chris deduced.

“But it wasn’t me. So, who else would want to get the pack back together?” Peter led on.

“And potentially before I get back into town. I got back a month earlier than I thought I might. Dad wasn’t expecting me for a bit. And Scott wouldn’t know otherwise either.” Stiles put his fork down in disgust.

“Dr Deaton.” Chris took a sip from his glass.

“Is the man insane? Wasn’t he supposed to be Talia’s Emissary? Has he always been like this?” Stiles groused, picking up his cutlery again, the food smelt and tasted amazing. ‘Damn you, Peter,’ Stiles thought.

“Deaton had been a very much hands-off Emissary in Talia’s reign. When our previous Emissary died unexpectedly, he left no apprentice to pick up the reigns. Talia found Deaton some weeks after the fact, and he agreed to move here and take up the role. However, bar myself, Talia and her husband, most were completely unaware we had an Emissary.”

“So did he actually ‘do’ anything for the pack?” Chris was getting deeply disturbed. If his thoughts were correct…

“I’m uncertain. I became aware of him during the talks with Deucalion and the other packs. I tried interrogating Talia then, but she either didn’t want to say or actually didn’t know much.”

“Okay, so what’s his end game? So far he’s got Scott eating from the palm of his hand. He’s purposefully been obtuse or just plain ignored both you and Derek. Even when the both of you were Alphas.”

“Control. Control of the Alpha and of a pack. Control of a territory. Control of the Nemeton.” Chris put his cutlery down.

“Please tell me you actually have information on the Nemeton,” Stiles pleaded, rubbing his face.

“Our family was considered the experts on such things, as rare as they are,” Peter smirked at Stiles relief.

“Thank the gods for that.”

“And they’re safely in storage at the moment, safe from the fire. They’re heirlooms at this point. I will collect some tonight so we can have the pleasure of your company for tomorrow night’s dinner.” Peter grinned when both Chris and Stiles rolled their eyes.

“And if I had plans?” Stiles challenged, kind of annoyed at the presumption, kind of not too, which he was not going to think about.

“Don’t be contrary. I know you don’t. So, we’ll see you at seven.”

Stiles didn’t fight it. The food really was that good. It’s been a long time since he’d had decent food, let alone food like this.

After dinner, he packed up his satchel again. Peter was standing at the breakfast bar, directly in his path to the door. Stiles went to walk around him, but a hand on his bicep stopped him.

“I’m very glad you’ve returned to us safe and sound from the Marines. I can see your time with them has done wonders. Welcome home, Stiles.” Peter said, the most heartfelt he had ever seen the werewolf be. And then he was leaning in to kiss Stiles on the temple before smirking again and sashaying back to the bowels of the apartment.

Chris chuckled as he waited for Stiles at the door, amused at the dumbstruck look on the younger man’s face.

“Was there anything you needed for your kit now?”

“What?” Confusion covered Stiles’ face.

“Your kit. What you use for your spark.” Chris leant back against the door.

“Ah, no. Just don’t want to be left without a supplier. And I didn’t want to rely on Deaton.” Stiles readjusted the strap on his satchel over his shoulder.

“Well, write a list for tomorrow, and I’ll make sure you don’t run out. And what Peter said, you’re welcome here anytime. I’m happy to see you home again too.” Chris smiled. Smiled a smile that had confused Stiles in his teenage years, and seemed to only reinforce those confusing feelings now.

“It’s ah, it’s good to be home.” Stiles smiled in return, hitching the satchel strap again. “Have a good night.”

“You too, Stiles. And remember, any time.”

The man finally moved off the door and let Stiles out into the night.

~*~

“How long have you been waiting?” Stiles asked, sliding into the passenger seat of the patrol car that was parked outside his hotel room.

“Not long,” Derek lied, putting the car in gear and leaving the car park.

“So only about forty-five minutes then?” That was when he had gotten back from the gym, and the werewolf hadn’t been there yet.

Derek just grunted, steering the way towards the station. Stiles just shook his head in amusement.

“Did you find anything out about that creature last night?” Stiles took his phone out to fiddle with as they drove.

“Peter wasn’t home, so I couldn’t ask him. His laptop wasn’t there either.”

“So, you just broke into his house and what? Checked anyway?” Stiles raised a sardonic eyebrow.

“He would do the exact same to you or me.” Derek defended, glancing at Stiles quickly for the first time that day.

“Right. I forgot I’ve been living in the real world for all those years, I forgot what was and wasn’t normal or socially acceptable in Beacon Hills. Never mind you’re a cop.” Stiles snorted, pulling up a Google search.

Derek ignored that statement, “What about you? Did your contacts find anything?”

“My contacts probably should have been your contacts, but whatever. Chris and Peter had a bit of trouble, but Peter found a reference and it looks like we have a match. But it’s going to be a bit more complicated than we thought.”

“It’s dangerous?”

“Surprisingly enough, not really. Not normally at any rate. We should be able to send it back to wherever it came from relatively easy.” Stiles was glad for that, at least. It was something that he should be able to do on the weekend with only a few necessary implements.

“So, what’s the problem then?”

“Who summoned it. I’m not sure if you’ll follow my logic.” Stiles sighed as they pulled into the Station’s car park. “Nor think he’s as dangerous as I think he is.”

“So, it’s someone we know, someone male.” Derek deduced with a frown, putting the car in park and turning the engine off. “What makes you think its Deaton?”

“Wow, no need to worry why you’re a cop,” Stiles said, actually impressed that it had only taken the former alpha a minute or so to work it out.

Inside the Station, they briefly met up with Parrish who was on his way out after a ‘long and quiet night’. At their adjoining desks was another small pile of HR forms that needed to be completed, which wasn’t entirely all that surprising.

After that, he turned to his satchel and the cleaning kit he had brought from his own kit and started to clean his service piece for the day.

He was just holstering it again when the Sheriff arrived.

“Stilinski! My office,” his dad called, the smile on his face meant it was more social than anything else.

“Morning Sheriff,” Stiles stood at attention inside the office.

“Hey, kid. Good night? Everything alright with Argent?” the Sheriff slumped in his seat, taking out his tablet and setting it up on the desk to charge.

“Yeah, fine. Got a lead on what the creature is. Only problem now is we need to find out who summoned it. We’ve got leads on that as well.” Stiles reported.

“Damnit, Stiles. At ease. Permanently. Sit down.” The sheriff grumbled noticing the formal stance he remembered from his own days in the Forces. He reached for his coffee.

Stiles just smirked, sitting down.

“So, you’re going to be getting a visitor this morning.” The sheriff sighed after taking his first sip of coffee. When Stiles said nothing, he continued. “Scott was over last night, asking for a favour. He smelt it on me.”

Stiles’ face was blank but internally he was a mess of emotions. Anger being the most predominant.

“All right.”

“That’s it?”

“Yeah. He can come here if he wants.”

Even though the sheriff couldn’t see it, he knew this had to be hurting his son. “Want me to put you on patrol for the morning?”

“Only if we were rostered to. Don’t change things for me. Don’t want to be accused of nepotism on my second day.” Stiles smirked.

John could see it was forced but had no idea what he could do for his son.

“Alright. I’m here if you need me.”

Back at his desk, Stiles checked his email again. He was just finishing up when a coffee was placed beside him.

Derek said nothing, placing his own coffee down on his desk before turning his computer and starting his own paperwork.

“So, Peter worked out what it might have been last week apparently, and ordered in the book that his index indicated.”

Derek glowered at his coffee.

“And before you ask, no. I don’t think he had anything to do with it. I’ve emailed you the photos I took of the book. Let me know what you think.” Stiles leant back as Derek logged into the email. Ten minutes later Derek sat back from the terminal and fixed him with a look.

“Are you sure it wasn’t Peter? It seems like a very strange coincidence for it not to be him.”

“No, I’m inclined to believe him for now. He said he saw it early last week and in his own search had to reorder the book that arrived yesterday.” Stiles swung shortly from side to side in his chair, as much as his crossed legs on the corner of the desk allowed.

“Well,” Derek said, playing devil’s advocate, “We need to look for who summoned it then. You think it’s Dr Deaton.”

Stiles picked at the seam of the nearly empty cardboard cup. “Well, we worked it out that whoever summoned it had to have done it for a reason. It doesn’t actually pose much more of a threat than any other wild animal would. Either we’re dealing with someone who,” Stiles ticked off on his fingers, “was just seeing if they could summon it; someone who is testing the pack to see what they would do before escalating; or someone who has summoned it to draw the very much separated pack back together again before something or someone enters the Territory again.”

Derek was busy taking notes, eventually dividing the paper into four sections. In the third he still placed Peter’s name.

“You know this would be right up Peter’s alley, right?” Derek looked back at Stiles again.

“To draw the pack together, meaning you and him having to team up with Scott and whoever he can muster, giving whatever small tether of a pack-bond you have a boost, something to keep you both going for a bit longer,” Stiles said with an air of challenge.

“No, just for the shits and giggles,” Derek deadpanned.

“Wow, werewolf has jokes. I haven’t ruled him out, but I do think it’s unlikely. He didn’t protest hard enough.”

“Alright. So, Deaton. Convince me.” Derek challenged back

“When did you think I was coming back?”

“Not for another month or so,” Derek frowned in confusion.

“And you got that from dad, or Scott, right?”

“Well yeah,” Derek reached to throw his coffee cup away.

“So, Deaton would be under the same impression, right? Now, what do you know about Sparks?”

“Nothing. Apparently you’re one?”

“I am. They’re natural magic users. Normally they only appear when they’re needed. Normally they end up Emissaries to local supernatural packs and such. Deaton knew what I was, tested me even. And then left me hanging. After months of asking and demanding for help or information – nada.”

“So you think this is about you?” the sceptical face was back.

“I know it sounds narcissistic, but he epically dropped the ball. Like screw up the territory bad. It’s a lucky thing I left to join the Marines. Got the training and practice I needed to not be a danger or a trouble magnet.”

“So this is about the Emissary thing?”

“In the long term, I think.”

“Stiles!” The loud call came across the bullpen.

Scott made a grand entrance to the room, getting everyone’s attention when he shouted from the doorway. And then the Alpha was across the room and enveloping Stiles in a bearhug. “Dude, you look awesome!”

“Great to see you too, buddy,” Stiles said half-heartedly, awkwardly clapping Scott on the back.

“Dude! You got buff in the army,” Scott released him with a beaming grin.

“Marines.” Stiles corrected.

“How come you didn’t tell me you were back so early? I was gonna organise a party. We’ll just have one this weekend. I’ll get the pack together. It’ll be awesome.” Scott grinned. Grinned like he didn’t have a care in the world, but Stiles knew better. He was barely keeping the pack together. The alpha strength he should have been displaying was dramatically muted.

“That’s great buddy. Cheers. But I should probably get back to work,” Stiles gestured over his shoulder back to his desk.

“I’m sure the Sheriff would let you off for a bit. Come grab a shake with me. There’s so much we need to catch up,” Scott clapped a hand on Stiles’ shoulder to lead him out of the station.

“The Sheriff would mind very much, Mr McCall.” John stood in the doorway to his office, arms crossed over his chest. “He has a job to do. You’ve got two minutes before he needs to get back to it.”

“Of course, Sheriff.” Scott looked marginally chastised. He looked back to Stiles, “Come by tonight, we’ll order pizza and we can catch up then.”

“I can’t. I’ve got plans.”

“What? Already? Break ’em. We haven’t seen each other in years! I’m calling the Best Bro Clause.” Scott pushed.

“I’m sorry, dude. Maybe tomorrow night. But I’ve got something really important tonight. I can’t back out of it.”

“More important than your best friend that you’ve not seen in literal years?” Scott frowned, the kicked puppy look didn’t seem to be working though.

“I’ll be there tomorrow, dude. Promise. Your mum would kill me if she knew, you know that.”

“She still might anyway, for not telling us you were back,” Scott smirked and Stiles grimaced.

“I’ll be there, dude.”

“Time’s up, Mr McCall.” The Sheriff re-entered the bullpen and came to stand right in front of the Alpha.

“Of course, Sheriff, I was just leaving.” Scott barely kept from stuttering.

The Sheriff said nothing, raising his eyebrow when the werewolf continued to stand there.

“Right, um, see you later,” Scott called to the room in general as he turned and made his way out.

“That wasn’t awkward at all,” Derek commented from his desk.

“Yeah,” Stiles mumbled, sitting down at his own desk again.

“Did he always used to railroad you into things like that?” Derek tapped his pen on his notebook steadily.

“No, it was usually me doing the railroading.” Stiles cleared his throat, “Anyway.”

“Yeah, you were failing to explain how Dr Deaton was behind all this.” Derek prompted.

“Yeah, well, I think he was trying to reform the pack and restrengthen ties as much as he could so that when I returned it would be to a happy pack that wouldn’t want or need me, ensuring that the Territory and the Nemeton remained in his control.”

“You’re right. It is narcissistic of you.”

Stiles deflated a bit, disheartened at Derek’s dismissal.

“But we should go check it out anyway,” Derek stood up from hi desk, retrieving his gun from the drawer.

“Oh,” Stiles scrambled to his feet, narrowly avoiding landing on the floor. “Okay, awesome. Yeah, let’s do that.” Stiles eagerly got his own weapon out and bounded after the werewolf as he smirked his way out of the station.

~*~

“You didn’t really think that we would get anything from him, did you?” Stiles slid into the passenger seat.

“Not exactly, but that doesn’t prove or disprove anything.” Derek climbed into the driver’s side and started the patrol car. “Besides, what was with you two anyway?”

Stiles huffed, “Regardless of this creature thing, he doesn’t want me in the territory. Not and potentially become Scott’s emissary. Of that, I’m pretty sure. There was no way he could know what I was and not do anything if he had been a responsible emissary.”

Derek didn’t say anything. It was an uncomfortable thought to have that the vet was possibly that… callous?

“I’m sorry to harp on this, but I’m so sure that is what’s happening. I know it in my gut.” Stiles tapped idly on his leg as they drove back to the Station again.

“It’s not that I don’t believe you,” Derek said with a frown.

“It’s that I don’t have any proof either,” Stiles nodded to himself, looking out the passenger window.

“No, it’s not that.” Derek continued to frown, “It just means I have to examine things that are better left forgotten.”

“You mean the fire and everything that happened after that.” Stiles tried to say it gently, but there really was no way to lessen the blow.

Derek grunted his acknowledgement.

“I won’t bring it up again, but I will say this: couldn’t he have tried to teach us to work together, or to find our own answers, or just be generally unhelpful when it wasn’t a life and death matter?”

~*~

“A pleasure to see you this evening,” Peter held the door open for Stiles to enter. “Christopher, Stiles has arrived.” He called back through the house.

In the kitchen, Chris was at the breakfast bar with his laptop open to what looked like work-related spreadsheets. Peter followed behind him, a casual brush of shoulders as he returned to the kitchen and the meal he was preparing.

“Good day at work, Stiles?” Chris asked as he closed the laptop lid.

“Not bad,” Stiles dropped his bag off by the lounge and took a seat next to Chris. “Deaton knew nothing of course and said he would look into it.”

“You saw him today and didn’t take us with you?” Peter pouted from the stove.

Stiles laughed, “No sorry, I took Derek.”

“And how is my nephew?”

“You could see him yourself, you know. You’ve been reasonably sane for a few years now.” Stiles said pointedly.

“For what counts as reasonably sane,” Chris murmured.

“Derek hasn’t made any indication that that is something he would want,” Peter said with a snooty air.

“And you can’t make that first step?” Stiles argued.

“I’ll not go where I’m not welcome.”

Both Stiles and Chris snorted at that.

“Since when?” Chris stood up and made to set the table.

“It’s been a few years now, don’t you think it’s time you guys made up?” Stiles said softly.

“Have you seen Scott yet?” Peter said pointedly in return, still facing away from him. It was a low blow.

Chris looked at the two men with a frown, “What’s wrong with Scott?”

“Yes Stiles, what’s wrong with Scott?” Peter still hadn’t turned around.

Stiles should’ve known that Peter would retaliate. He sighed, “We’ve not had the best relationship since the Nogitsune and Theo.”

Chris flashed a glare at Peter, understanding.

“He came to the station today, acting like we were still teenagers and nothing was wrong.” Stiles kicked at the chair rungs with a frown.

“I hope you like pasta,” Peter said firmly, carrying a large pot over to the sink.

“Love pasta,” Stiles said with a grin.

~*~

“So what did Deaton have to say?” Chris picked up Stiles’ plate and his own, taking them over to the sink.

“He was useless, just as I thought. He’s going to look into it, apparently.” Stiles sat back, rubbing his stomach. “That was damn good. But he was surprised to see me.”

“Lends credence to our theory,” Peter leant back from the table to stretch.

“And what were Derek’s thoughts?” Chris came back, removing Peter’s plate and the last of their dishes to the kitchen.

“Reluctantly humouring me so far,  though he’s moving to reluctant acceptance pretty quickly.”

“Reluctantly?” Chris sat back down again with a bottle of red wine and three glasses.

“Reluctantly, my nephew is coming to the realisation just how much he and the whole Hale Pack have been fucked over.” Peter sneered reaching for the bottle and opening it.

“Pretty much,” Stiles sighed, accepting the glass that was placed before him. “I can’t imagine it will be a good night for him.”

“It’s about damn time, though,” Peter took a sip of the wine.

“We can’t argue with that,” Chris said, playing with the stem of his wine glass. “He has a terrible habit of burying his head in the sand.”

“To be fair, he has dealt with a ridiculous amount of shit in his relatively short life,” Stiles defended the former Alpha.

“So have you,” Peter murmured, sending them all silent.

“It’s safe to say we’ve all led pretty fucked up lives,” Stiles finally took a sip of the wine. Or a gulp. Either way, it didn’t sit well going down.

“And we’ve all become fucked up in our own ways because of it,” Chris spread out in his chair, sending Stiles mind in a completely different direction.

Peter instantly perked up at the change in pheromones that were now filling the room, grin turning lascivious.

“But that would not have led the three of us here, enjoying a pleasant evening together.”

“That’s true,” Stiles huffed in amusement. “This really wasn’t where I thought I would be ten years ago, let alone fifteen.”

“Yes, your ten-year plan for Miss Martin. Look at you now, charming two older men,” Peter grinned at him, smirking when Stiles all but choked on the sip of wine he had just taken.

Chris just laughed, fetching a napkin for the young man.

“I hate you,” Stiles glared, moping himself up.

“No, you don’t darling,” Peter smirked, slouching back in the seat, smirk growing when Stiles blushed and looked away.

“Stop teasing him,” Chris admonished with a laugh.

“But it’s too much fun. And entirely too easy,” Peter affected a pout.

Stiles could only shake his head. “Derek’s slowly coming around, and Dad is already on board with our theory,” Stiles sat up straight, ignoring both men who were slouching in their seats on either side of him. There was nowhere safe to look.

“So what is our next course fo action?” Chris grinned at Stiles’ response to them. It was entirely too much fun.

“Dealing with the immediate issue of that creature. Preferably without Deaton or Scott’s knowledge. Planning for the long term solution of getting rid of Deaton out of the territory.” Stiles stood up and retrieved his satchel, pulling a notebook and pencil case and bringing them back to the table.

“And what do we plan to do with Scott in the long term?” Peter threw his head back and drained the glass of wine in such a way that he knew would affect Stiles.

Judging by Chris’ grin, it worked.

“That’s something we’re going to have to discuss,” Stiles eventually said, clearing his throat. “He never wanted to be a werewolf. I’m sure he still holds a grudge against you,” Stiles chanced a look at the werewolf and regretted it. “I’m not too sure what he’s done or achieved since becoming the fabled True Alpha.”

“Not a whole lot we’ve seen,” Chris commented.

“And Dad said he hasn’t done much either. It’s half the reason I’m back and partnered with Derek as a supernatural team. He still wants to get someone partnered with Parrish, and maybe one more team after that, so that there is always someone on duty in the know.”

“It’s not a bad idea to have actually.” Peter poured himself another glass, topping Stiles and Chris’ off as well.

“So Scott is useless unless there’s a fight which means there is little to no leadership in the pack. Who of the pack is still here in Beacon Hills anyway?” Stiles started writing notes in his notebook.

“Issac is still in France, he has no intention of returning to the U.S., same for Jackson in London.” Chris started listing off.

“Miss Martin I believe was waiting to see where you would land first, before making her decision,” Peter added.

“Liam, Hayden, Mason and Corey are finishing up University, but the rumours I’ve heard say that they aren’t interested in returning, and have been making inquiries to other packs across the country. Kira is also still finishing University, but I think she should be back this year.” Chris sipped his wine as he watched Stiles scribbled it all down.

“Ethan has been on the fringes here in Beacon Hills, he opened his own mechanic’s shop, but I’ve not seen or heard much from him. I don’t know if Scott does or not.”

Peter shrugged, not knowing either.

Stiles continued his notes. “Malia has a good thing going on in California at the moment, I’m not sure if she’s every going to come back either.” Stiles frowned, sitting up straight again and looking over the notes. “So really, here in the territory, it’s only you Derek and Scott that are werewolves with Ethan hanging on the fringes.”

“Not much of a pack at the moment,” Chris frowned at the list.

“Would Cora come back do you think, ever?” Stiles tapped his pen on the notebook as he thought.

“No, my niece made it clear she had no intentions of setting foot here again. She’s happy down in Mexico anyway.” Peter swirled the wine around in his glass.

“So there really isn’t much of a pack,” Stiles sighed. “What was Deaton planning to have happen then? There are way too many volatile personalities in this quasi-pack that nothing would ever be achieved, no matter the motivation.”

“It’s something Peter and I discussed after you left last night. It’s the only thing we can think of that we cannot account for and works against our leading theory.”

They continued to argue the point for the hour or so before Stiles looked at his watch and softly cursed. “I should really get going.”

He started packing up his scattered notes and notebook and pens, only now noticing there were three bottles on the table that were now empty. He stood up and was a little wobbly, but not too much. Thankfully it seemed to be Peter that had been putting the wine away, though the werewolf had topped off his glass several times throughout the night.

Once his satchel was packed he rifled through his kit bag at his thigh and pulled out a phial of something he had gotten the recipe for back in the Middle East. It had saved his arse several times when he had been a little too inebriated to be fit for active duty. It didn’t clear his system completely but gave it enough of a boost that he should be able to drive home safely.

He was sure he imagined it when Peter looked a little disappointed that he could drive.

“Thank you again for a great night.” Stiles eventually said, bags packed, ready to go.

Neither of the men had moved and seemed to just be watching him.

“You’re more than welcome, Stiles. Though it is a shame you must go.” Peter pouted from his reclining position.

“Well, I still have work in the morning. And I’m sure you guys want to go to bed or something,” Stiles blushed, hitching the strap of his satchel on his shoulder.

“You’re more than welcome to join us,” Peter stood up directly into his space. “We would be more than happy to have you there.”

Stiles coughed, taking a step back. Right into Chris. “Right. I’m sure.”

“Will you be joining us tomorrow night? We still have much to plan in regards to Scott,” Chris added, making Stiles frown in annoyance that they were ganging up on him.

“Sorry, I promised I would catch up with Scott tomorrow.”

“Then we can expect you Thursday night,” Peter said with finality. Once again, the werewolf leant in and kissed him on the temple. “Drive home safely and sleep well.”

He disappeared into another room leaving Chris to show Stiles out.

“You honestly don’t have to go,” Chris said as he followed Stiles to the front door.

“Yeah, I do.” Stiles sighed heavily, biting at his lip.

“You’re welcome here, any time.”

“Yeah, see, I’m hearing those words but I think you mean them differently than what normal people understand.”

Chris laughed, “Yeah, maybe we do.”

“And that’s why I’m going.” Stiles shrugged, frowning.

“We never wanted to make you uncomfortable, Stiles. I’ll tell Peter to tone it down.” Chris smiled bemusedly, but that only confused and irritated Stiles even more.

Stiles reached the door first this time, quickly opening it, and taking a step into the cool night air. Chris joined him outside, the door held open a crack.

“I’m sorry,” Stiles felt like he had made things awkward, but he still didn’t know what was supposed to be going on.

“Don’t be, Stiles. You have nothing to apologise for. We like having you in our space, that’s all. We’re both glad you’ve finally returned that we don’t want to miss any time you might want to spend with us.” The hunter nudged his shoulder as they both looked at the stars.

“But I don’t get why? Why now? I don’t get it.” Stiles growled, some of his irritation showing.

“Why wouldn’t we?”

Chris nudged his shoulder one more time before stepping back inside and closing the door.

~*~

Stiles woke up tired the next morning, not used to such late nights (especially when there was wine involved) when he started his day at five in the morning. He yawned his way through his stretches before heading out on his run. An hour later and he was arriving back at the motel to hydrate and pick up his bag for the gym.

“Oi!” Stiles turned around sharply, not expecting the irate voice this early in the morning. It was lucky he did as he barely missed the fist that would have connected with his head.

“What the fuck?” Stiles dropped his bag and ducked away.

“Your kind. They’re not welcome here. When this territory is mine, you’ll be shot or clawed the moment you set foot here!” The werewolf growled. The claws and sideburns gave it away.

“Your Territory? This is Hale and McCall Pack Territory. And correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re neither a Hale nor a member of the McCall pack. Especially to be staying here at this shit hole.” Stiles took the time talking to take a few steps further back and to take stock of what he had.

“Yeah, my territory. Two omegas and a weak as piss Alpha aren’t much competition. It’ll be mine come nightfall.” The alpha flashed his eyes and took a step closer to Stiles.

Stiles sighed. “I really can’t let you do that. This territory really doesn’t need some power-hungry dickhead like you messing things up.”

“I really don’t care what you think hunter. You’ll be dead soon anyway.”

“Not a hunter, but I’d love to see you try.”

And then it was on. It took all of Stiles training to keep up with the werewolf and keep him from landing any hits. He cursed himself for the timing as while his blood was already pumping from the run, so was exhaustion starting to set in.

It was a wonder none of the other tenants heard the noise as Stiles’ spark flung the alpha into the tree again in an attempt to get his satchel, his supplies, and mount a proper offensive. He saw an opening and took it, sending the alpha flying again as he dove for his bag. But the alpha was back quicker than he’d guessed, claws sliding down his back before he silently screamed his pain when teeth tore into his bicep.

Stiles didn’t think. Instead of the Rowan bat in his bag, he grabbed the handle of his knife and lashed out at the surprised wolf’s throat. The body landed with a thud and Stiles could see he was dead, the wound sluggishly seeping blood. Stiles sighed, not realizing he’d grabbed the enchanted blade with wolfsbane.

And then it hit him, a wave of energy that crackled up his spine, flared in his heart and the center where he had always drawn his spark from. He wouldn’t be able to touch that spark energy again after this.

“Fuck.”

~*~

“I know I said anytime, Stiles, but does it have to be this early in the morning?” Peter whined as he wiped his face tiredly. And then he took a breath. His eyes snapped open, and any trace of sleep disappeared as he took Stiles in.

“Christopher!” Peter called back inside the apartment as he drew Stiles in with a gentle hand at his elbow.

“What happened?” Peter asked quietly as he came back with a warm, damp cloth to clean Stiles up.

Chris entered then, fully clothed, and ready for battle with various weapons strapped to his waist and legs.

“Stiles, are you all right?””

“Not really, no.” Hysterical laughter bubbled up from nowhere as he wondered what he was panicked about more. “I’m going to need help with clean-up and body disposal.”

“Of course, where?”

“The motel I was staying at, outside near the front area. There’s a lot of blood. The body’s in the rental car out front.” Stiles quietly shook for a few moments before he looked back up at the two men.

“What happened?” Peter asked again.

“Alpha, might have been staying at the motel too. Called this territory his. Called me a hunter then attacked. He bit me.” Stiles ended on a whisper.

Chris heaved a heavy sigh before patting Stiles on the shoulder and left the room, phone already to his ear.

“I can feel myself already turning. My spark is gone,” Stiles all but whimpered.

“I said you’d make an amazing spark. But I knew you’d make an exceptional werewolf. I just wished it was something you had chosen, not something forced on you.”

“It’s not just that,” Stiles shivered. “I can feel the energy already. Alpha energy.”

“Well, that might complicate things a little,” Peter murmured mildly, still busy cleaning Stiles’ arms and hands of blood.

“Things are tenuous at best with me back here, I really didn’t need this as well,” he huffed, watching Peter walk away with the dirty cloth to rinse it out.

“But it is done now. So, we must make of it what we can.” The wolf returned with another clean cloth and a dish towel.

Stiles took them this time, wiping his hands and arms again of the last traces. And then he saw his shirt and huffed in defeat. He looked back to Peter to find the other wolf before him again, clean shirt outstretched.

“Thank you,” Stiles managed a weak smile as he pulled the shirt off and bundled it up. “Actually, do you mind if I grab a shower first?”

“Of course, there’s a towel in there already for you, and some pants, if you want to change those too.” The wolf turned away again and entered the kitchen, opening the fridge door, and peering inside. “Omelette okay?”

“Yeah, that would be awesome. Thanks.”

Stiles wandered to the hallway and set about finding the bathroom. He found what looked like a spare room, a study, and the master bedroom before finding the moderately sized bathroom. As Peter had said, the towel and pants were sitting on the edge of the bath.

Instead of stripping off and stepping into the shower, he could only sit on the edge of the bath and try to keep the panic attack at bay.

 

TBC.

Posted in Evil Author Day, Teen Wolf | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

Evil Author Day – 2016

My offerings for Evil Author Day this year. This is the first time I’ve contributed to EAD, and in fact, the first time I’ve posted any of my work publicly in around 10 years.

Enjoy!

 

Title: SciFi Writer (temp file name)

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate: SG1

Word Count: ~4600

Primary Pairings/Characters: John Sheppard/Rodney McKay

Rating: PG-13

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

Summary: After a helicopter crash ends John Sheppard’s Air Force career, he decides to take up writing as a way to pass the time between surgeries. His favourite writing cafe just so happens to cater to the local base, Cheyenne Mountain.

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

 

_____________________________________________________

 

Title: Lost in the Wild

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Teen Wolf

Word Count: ~2900

Primary Pairings/Characters: Derek Hale/Stiles Stilinski

Rating: PG-13, it may change later on.

Content/Warnings:  Canon level violence, thoughts of being stranded

Summary: Derek’s gone missing. Isaac and Stiles seems to be the only ones worried about that.

Beta: None. Causal spell check. No bitching.

 

_____________________________________________________

 

Title: A Third Side

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Harry Potter

Word Count: ~21,000

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

Rating: NC-17. This section, PG-13

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

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

Beta: None. Casual spell check. No Bitching.

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

Posted in Harry Potter, Stargate: Atlantis, Teen Wolf | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

EAD’16 – A Third Side – Harry Potter

 

Title: A Third Side

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Harry Potter

Word Count: ~21,000

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

Rating: NC-17. This section, PG-13

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

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

Beta: None. Casual spell check. No Bitching.

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

 

~*~

Harry glared at the four walls that surrounded him in the smallest bedroom of Number 4 Privet Drive. He glared harder as he thought back to all the things that had happened in the last month that led to killing one of the last remaining links to his parents.

 

Sirius had been someone who had seemed to truly care how Harry was and wanted him in his life. It was true that Sirius was damaged from his time in Azkaban, and his time spent on the run as Padfoot, but at least he had had someone who had offered him a home with them.

 

For all that the Weasley’s were a second family, he knew logically that they would happily offer him a home, but it was Dumbledore who would put his foot down and say that it was for Harry’s protection. Harry wondered if Dumbledore knew just what went on inside Number 4 Privet Drive.

 

Luckily this year, Harry had been largely left to himself so far. He had even heard talk that the Dursley’s might travel for the last month before school started up again. Under better circumstances, Harry would normally even be excited by such a turn of events. But not this time. This time he was just fed up with everyone and everything in the magical world. He hated to see what the Daily Prophet would have to say about him this year. Especially now that Lord Voldemort was officially back.

 

Harry knew that the final battle would be soon. In fact, he’d probably guess either during his sixth or seventh year at Hogwarts. At least, that’s the way that it would play out if it was some kind of blockbuster movie. But he also knew that he needed more training than he was currently receiving. Not to mention Occlumency.

 

There were many things that he would change about the year previous, and one of them of course being the Occlumency lessons with Professor Snape. Harry wondered why Professor Dumbledore had insisted on classes with the Potions Master, knowing Harry’s relationship with the man to be tenuous at best. He knew now that he should have been the bigger man, and not fallen for Snape’s taunts. Perhaps he would still have Sirius had that been the case.

 

Harry sighed as his thoughts flew in circles, as they had been for days. He had written Ron and Hermione earlier in the month and was still awaiting replies. He tried not to be jealous of their freedom, but he couldn’t help being so. No matter how mature he felt right now, he was still a teenager, and the confinement chaffed. Made all the worse by the Dursley’s.

 

He wanted someone to talk to he realised, one day in early August. The anger he felt towards many in the Wizarding World he realised was something destructive. And no matter how old or not he grew, he did not want to turn bitter. He never wanted to be so apathetic that he could ignore the grievous neglect and destruction that was so prevalent in the world. If he was to have any hope of saving the Magical World, he had to make sure he still cared enough about it.

 

He sent another letter to Hermione and Ron, as he tried to express himself in these letters, though he was loath to do so, knowing that Ron would probably scoff at things whilst Hermione would don her “Judgement and Lecture” Cap.

 

He felt guilty a few days later when, he remembered another friend that had stood by him for so many years. Though a little unconventional, he knew that Dobby would be there for him.

 

“Master Harry calls Dobby, sir?” Dobby said quite eagerly, his face in a happy eager grin.

 

“Hey Dobby, how are you?” Harry asked tiredly. He didn’t realise just how tired he was until he finally started moving about again.

 

“Dobby is well, Master Harry. What can Dobby do for Master Harry?” Dobby shivered in eager excitement.

 

“I was wondering if we could talk.” Harry said awkwardly. Now that Dobby was before him, he wondered if the House Elf would allow him to have such an equal friendship that allowed the two of them to speak openly.

 

“Master Harry wants to just talk to Dobby?” Dobby said, sounding both excited, and nervous.

 

“Yeah. I was wondering if I could get your opinion of some things in the magical world.” Harry started.

 

“Master Harry wants Dobby’s opinion? Oh, Dobby is such a lucky House Elf, to have a Master ask him for his opinion!” Dobby said tearily, but he still sat down on Harry’s bed, prepared to listen to him.

 

And so Harry told him all about what had happened that previous year. About the DA, Professor Umbridge, Professor Snape, and Voldemort. When Harry told him about what had happened at the Ministry, Dobby had cried quietly, the tears running down his face as he listened in silence.

 

“Dobby is sorry that Sirius Black has fallen.” Dobby said softly once Harry had finished.

 

“I miss him, you know. I’m not sure how I can miss him. I barely knew him. But I do.” Harry said softly, tears of his own rolling down his face for the first time all summer.

 

“Perhaps Master Harry also mourns the future possibilities of Mr Black represented,” Dobby said softly in return, watching nervously for Harry’s reaction.

 

“Yeah. I think that’s a good part of the reason too. Were he still alive, he might have been able to get me to Number 12 Grimmauld Place earlier. As it is, I’m not sure what’s going to happen for the rest of the summer.” Harry finally voiced one of his biggest concerns: being left here to his own devices.

 

“Master Harry has his Dobby now. Dobby will look after Master Harry.”

 

~*~

 

Talking to Dobby was surprisingly helpful, Harry found, as the House Elf was surprisingly insightful and observant. He was still saddened by the events of his Fifth year, but now, Harry felt like he no longer held him down. It meant that, with all his free time still available, he began to think of the future.

 

He still wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life, assuming he survived the final battle with Lord Voldemort. He had thought that he wanted to be an Auror, but doing what he did now, for the rest of his working life was coming to be not all that appealing. He knew himself to be good at Quidditch, but again, he hated the fame now, suppose he became a world famous player like Viktor Crum. The unwanted fame would certainly outweigh any enjoyment he had in the game to begin with.

 

And so he began to think of all the possible careers that made up the Magical World. It surprised him went he couldn’t think of all that many, and most of them is wasn’t sure he would even be qualified for once he had finished his schooling at Hogwarts.

 

Dobby was once again a hive of information.

 

“Dobby knows that there some Colleges for greater magics, ones that are for specific kinds of magics. Perhaps Master Harry will find out this year? Or maybe Dobby can get books on what Master Harry wants to know about?” Dobby said, standing up hand out ready to snap his fingers and pop away to another location.

 

“That might actually be a good idea. I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to go to Diagon Alley. Would you mind going and getting some books for me? Or do you know if there is a catalogue or something?” Harry wondered, having never really shopped in the wizarding world apart from the times he had gone with Hagrid or the Weasley’s.

 

“Master Harry’s Dobby can buy him books. Can buy him books on any topic Master Harry wants. Dobby can make a list.” Dobby said eagerly, snapping his fingers and conjuring a quill and some paper.

 

Harry gave him a list and the key to his vault.

 

So he was surprised when Dobby ‘pop’ed back several hours later, for him to be ladden down with bags.

 

“Dobby hopes that Master Harry will not be mad at his Dobby, but Dobby took the liberty to buy some other things for Master Harry.”

 

And so he had.

 

He was the proud new owner of an entire wardrobe of clothing. As well as things that he had seen and wondered about in all his travels through the wizarding world, and what he had seen others use whilst at Hogwarts.

 

He had a new personal trunk for all his clothing to go in. He could see that it had many different compartments in it, some hidden and some not. He now had a wand holster that attached to his arm (no more stuffing it down his pants and accidentally magic-ing his arse, as Mrs Weasley had always warned them); a new book bag that could replace his old, stained and falling apart napsack that he had stolen from Dudley, and then there were the books. So many that Harry seriously began to think that perhaps he should start his own library.

 

“Master Harry is not mad at his Dobby, is he?” Dobby said meekly, looking up at Harry from between the hands that covered his face.

 

“Dobby… I….” Harry stopped, finding himself lost for words. “No. Dobby not at all. This is amazing.”

 

“Master Harry is not upset with his Dobby?” the elf confirmed, sounding more confident.

 

“This is amazing, Dobby.” Harry sat down to look, wondering where to start.

 

“Dobby did not want to see his Master Harry not have what he needed. Master Harry needs to start taking care of himself. Dobby will make sure. Is Dobby’s place to help Master Harry.” Dobby said, setting to work putting all the new things away in the trunk. “Though, Dobby thinks he did not get a big enough trunk for all of Master Harry’s books.”

 

Harry could not help but laugh.

 

~*~

 

For the rest of the Summer Harry read. If he didn’t already have glasses, he was fairly sure he would have needed them by the time he returned back to Hogwarts. He was much more confident in his subjects now, having reread the course material as well as supplemental studies on magic history and the more everyday magic that most Magic born witches and wizards were raised around. He just hoped that it made a difference in his subjects.

 

Because after all the subjects that he had had a chance to read about, it was warding and spell craft which had intrigued him the most. Both topics of which required O’s to even think about getting into Smethwyck College, Europe’s leading college specialising in these fields.

 

Having not heard anything all summer however, he was surprised to have a visitor two days before he was due to depart Number 4 Privet Drive. All his letters had gone unanswered, something which Dobby had had a hard time keeping Harry calm about. So he was surprised when Auror’s Tonks and Shacklebolt knocked on his door.

 

The Dursley’s had long been gone, leaving the house blessedly empty to Harry under the proviso that he not mess the place up, nor do anything freaky around the house. Something they knew he could not do anyway after the previous year’s fiasco of a Trial at the Ministry.

 

“Is everything alright Harry? We’ve not heard from you all Summer! You never answered the letters from the Weasley’s.” Tonks said with a worried frown. Shacklebolt too looked serious.

 

Harry tried not to sound belligerent, he really did. “And it took you until now to finally investigate?”

 

“Dumbledore insisted you were fine. The wards were intact and Mrs Figg had reported that nothing had happened that would say to the contrary.” Shacklebolt said with a wince.

 

Harry just sighed. Of course Dumbledore would have said everything was fine, and everyone in The Order would have taken him at his word.

 

“We sent you a letter too, saying that we would be picking you up today to do your school shopping and dropping you back at Grimmauld Place with the Weasley’s ready for the new school year. You didn’t reply to that one either.” Tonks said, confusion written all over her face.

 

“That’s because I never received any letters. I sent them all right, but I never got one letter the entire summer. I thought all you lot had forgotten about me.” Harry admitted heatedly. He winced that he sounded a bit overemotional, but it had crossed his mind more than once that he had in actual fact been forgotten about.

 

“NO Harry!!! Not at all!! Hermione was very worried that you had not replied to her letters. Do you mean to say you didn’t even get your Hogwarts letter with your book list?” Tonks asked, still sounding worried, but now sounding like a professional Auror about to embark on an investigation.

 

“No, I received that one. But nothing else.” Harry sounded worried now too, as it was becoming evident that someone had been messing with his mail. “Dobby!”

 

“Yes Master Harry?” Dobby said, eyeing the two Auror’s warily.

 

“Do you know anything about my mail? Tonks says that I had letters sent to me but I’ve not received any.” Harry didn’t want to accuse the House Elf, but then, it wouldn’t be the first time Dobby had done such a thing.

 

“No, Master Harry. Dobby has not touched Master Harry’s mail at all.” Dobby said solemnly.

 

“Could something have happened to Hedwig perhaps?” Harry asked, trying to think the problem through. “Has the wards changed at all this year that may have prevented mail form coming or going?”

 

“Not to our knowledge,” Shacklebolt said with a frown. “We aren’t familiar with the exact wards that are placed on the house, but it is a possibility.”

 

Harry sighed, “Well, I suppose that can be something to think about later. Do we need to leave soon?”

 

“We should.” Tonks admitted, casting a quiet tempus. “Dumbledore asked that we bring you back to Grimmauld Place no later than three in the afternoon. There is an order meeting that he wants you there for.”

 

Harry held back the shock that arose in him at hearing he was actually WANTED in an Order meeting. Though, he did not forget himself and for one second think that he would have any say in said meeting.

 

“Alright, I’ll quickly pack up and be back as soon as I can. Help yourselves to a drink form the fridge.”

 

Harry ran back up the stairs to find Dobby already packing for Harry, still mumbling about new trunks.

 

“It’s alright Dobby, perhaps we can get one today whilst we’re shopping,” Harry advised, a hand settled on the Elf’s shoulder to settle him down.

 

“Master Harry, can Dobby talk to Master Harry about something?” Dobby asked, stepping away from the packing to look up at Harry.

 

“Of course, Dobby,” Harry said, sitting down on the bed to give the Elf his full attention.

 

“Dobby has not been truthful with Master Harry. Dobby has kept a secret from Master Harry and Dobby feels bad about it. Dobby thinks Master Harry should know.” Dobby said, looking up at Harry in earnest, his large eyes conveying sorrow.

 

“I won’t be angry Dobby, not unless you’re Voldemort incarnate, and even then, I think I would be more confused than angry.” Harry tried for levity, and succeeded when Dobby tried to suppress a quick hiccup of a laugh.

 

“Dobby has never been a free elf.”

 

“What do you mean, Dobby. When I freed you from Mr Malfoy in second year, what happened?” Harry asked, curiosity piqued.

 

“Master Harry only transferred Dobby’s bond from Bad Master Malfoy to Master Harry himself. Dobby was not sure what Master Harry would think. And then Miss Grangy started her S.P.E.W. Campaign and poor Dobby did not want to disappoint Master Harry.”

 

Harry was surprised by that turn of events. Though the fact that Dobby had been calling him Master should probably have clued him in.

 

“Don’t you want to be free, Dobby? Be your own elf.” Harry asked, honestly confused.

 

“If Master Harry wishes it, then Dobby will go free. But Master Harry, Dobby doesn’t want to be free. Bad things happen to House Elves that have no Master. They looses their magics and die.” Dobby said softly, clearly upset.

 

“Then all the House Elves at Hogwarts, did they….” Harry was almost too afraid to ask. After all the knitted items that Hermione had left around the Gryffindor Common rooms for the elves to find, it could very well be a wonder that Hogwarts would have any House Elves at all.

 

“No, the only person who can release Hogwarts Elves is Professor Dumblydore. Only Master of House can dismiss House Elves.”

 

“So Mister Malfoy actually released you to me then,” Harry mused in wonder.

 

“Not quite. Dobby broke his Family Bond with Bad Master Malfoy. Dobby could have died, but Dobby could not watch Master Harry get hurt.”

 

This time Harry did sit back in shock. “You risked your magic and your life to help me.”

 

“Dobby looks after his Master Harry.” Dobby said proudly.

 

“I never knew. Thank you Dobby. Thank you very much.” Harry had to breathe deeply to hold the tears at bay. Even the idea that someone was willing to come between him and danger was a heady thought, considering the rest of the Magical World was waiting for him to finally play the Sacrificial Lamb Card and get the war over with.

 

“So Dobby will not be freed? Please don’t free Dobby.” Dobby asked, ears quivering in fear.

 

“No, I’d never free you unless you asked me Dobby.” Harry said resolutely. “You’ll tell me, won’t you, when you want to be freed? I want you to be happy. If you can find that with another Master, tell me.”

 

Dobby just nodded, not daring to speak.

 

“Is there anything I need to do to solidify my side of the bond?”

 

“Dobby needs to swear on his magics to serve Master Harry’s family. Mast Harry needs to take out his wand.” Dobby instructed, then placing his finger on the tip of the wand he said, “Dobby swears by his magics to honor and serve Harry Potter’s family in thought, word and deed, for as long as the Potter family exist, so mote it be.”

 

At Dobby’s final word, the wand tip lit up under Dobby’s finger, lighting up the whole room as a wave of gold tinged magic settled around them, absorbing into their skin. Where it had touched the pillow case that Dobby wore, a brand new outfit was transformed, proudly displaying the Potter Crest, a Gryffin rampant with two wands crossed, on the pocket of his new outfit, all of which was made of a luxurious tea towel.

 

What was the most amazing was that Harry could feel it now, the teether to his magic that was his bond. It was a bright gold against his silver magical core, and it was strong and pulsed with life.

 

“Dobby will always serve Master Harry’s family now.” Dobby said proudly. Harry could only smile bemused.

 

“You ARE my family, Dobby.”

 

~*~

 

He was surprised when seconds later Tonks and Shacklebolt crashed into the room, wands drawn looking for danger. Upon sighting Harry and Dobby sitting on the bed, they partially lowered their wands.

 

“Are you okay? What just happened?” Shacklebolt demanded, worry lacing his tone.

 

“I accepted the bond that Dobby offered,” Harry explained, watching as Dobby quickly jumped up and resumed packing everything. Moments later, everything was ready to go.

 

“The Familial House Elf bond?” Tonks questioned, stepping further into the room whilst Shacklebolt stepped back and kept a watch out in the hallway.

 

“Yes Miss Tonks,” Dobby said, snapping his fingers to shrink the trunks for Harry to put in his pockets.

 

“I’ve never known a House Elf to attach himself to just one wizard. I thought it wasn’t enough magic to support them.” Tonks said in wonder.

 

“My Master Harry has more than enough magics to support me. And Master Harry will have a family one day, and Dobby will serve them just as he served his Master.” Dobby said proudly.

 

“Harry is very lucky to have someone as loyal as you,” She said with a smile. “We’d best get going, or we’ll be late.”

 

Which is how Harry found himself in Diagon Alley at lunch time, fighting the crowds towards Gringotts.

 

Harry accompanied Tonks as they merrily made their way safely inside, whilst Shacklebolt loitered outside, watching at a distance as he had been since arriving at the Alley.

 

Dobby quickly produced Harry’s key when they approached the next available goblin teller. When the key was passed over, the goblin inserted it into a device in the desk. The Goblin was about to say something to Harry when a loud buzzing noise started from the device filled the air like an alarm. Immediately the goblin stood up as another goblin took its place, frowning down at Harry who looked on in alarm.

 

“Mr Potter.”

 

Harry waited awkwardly for the goblin to continue. When it didn’t, Harry didn’t know what to say.

 

“Yes?”

 

“A summons was sent on the 31st of July. This was not answered.” The goblin’s frown turned into a glare as it continued to watch Harry.

 

“I’m sorry, sir, but I never received any missives from Gringotts. It has been brought to my attention today that there is other important mail that I have missed as well. I do apologise. I’m available now if the whoever sent the summons is available. Otherwise I would be happy to make another time right now in person.”

“The matter is urgent. We would speak with you now. Come with me.” The goblin said, only slightly less of a glare being directed his way.

 

Tonks followed Harry through the bank, down a few corridors that started to look more and more like the dungeons at Hogwarts than the pristine walls Gringotts was known for. They came to a door which was opened before Harry and Dobby, but was barred to the Auror.

 

“Harry?” Tonks said, voice uneasy.

 

“I’m sorry Tonks, but I think it’s supposed to be a private meeting. I will be quite safe, I think.” Harry reassured, growing more curious.

 

“Mr Potter will not be harmed.” The Goblin said, and slammed the door in her face.

 

Harry stiffled a giggle, turning into the room and waiting for the Goblin’s lead.

 

The office was gloomy and filled with many a gold inlaid item. The armour that stood in the corner of the room was of a goblin size, which seemed to fascinate Harry. There were precious jewels that were inlaid like a crown around the helmet. Taking a moment to think on that, Harry began to look at the Goblin before him in a new light.

 

With a bang, a large book was deposited on the large ornately wooden desk. The goblin began leafing through it until he came to half way and left it open to look at Harry.

 

“Mr Potter, your inheritance was supposed to be transferred on the 31st of July, the minimum age for Familial Magics to be passed the Family Patriarch.”

 

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware of such a thing.” Harry said, honestly not knowing what was happening right now.

 

“The Potter family has spanned several thousand years, that you are unaware of your legacy is worrying. Has no one instructed you on your personal history?”

 

“No, the only family that I am aware of are Muggle, and detest magic. And I’ve not heard mention of anything to do with family magic at Hogwarts.”

 

“Useless school,” he said derisively. “I suppose you have no idea who I am, nor the reason for our meeting.” the Goblin snorted. With a flick of his gnarly hand, several books and a parchment were placed on the desk before Harry. Harry took the seat before the desk after the Goblin motioned he should.

 

“I am Gnarltooth, King of the Western Goblins, and CEO of this Bank. The Potter Family was our first clients, when Gringotts first began in 874BC by Gringott. Gringott swore an oath with Lord Potter that goblins would always serve the Potter family and keep their wealth both safe and plentiful, in return for the Potter Patronage. Each patriarch has upheld this oath throughout the ages. It is now your turn to decide if you wish to honour this oath and continue our mutual agreement.”

 

Harry nodded, glancing at Dobby who was watching the proceedings with wide eyed amazement.

 

“What would my Patronage entail?” Harry asked, ignoring the material before him to listen to Gnarltooth.

 

“You would represent us in any wizarding politics, and within the Ministry should it be required. We may also call on you should any Goblin politics require it.”

 

“You mean war,” Harry said bluntly, but not with any malice.

 

“Should it come to it, yes.” Gnarltooth acknowledge openly.

 

“I agree to the terms.” Harry said.

 

Gnarltooth grinned maliciously, “Very well, then. As to the matter of your inheritance. The Potter vaults shall now be made available to you, as well as any other holdings that have been held in trust.”

 

The goblin pulled a different book from the pile that was before Harry and opened it to the first page.

 

“The Potter Ledgers, interests, and properties.”

 

Harry looked down at the summary, and had to blink several times. Oh but the Dursley would be jealous had they known.

 

Harry swallowed and looked up.

 

Gnarltooth’s vicious grin grew, “As you can see, we have upheld our oath.”

 

The goblin closed the book again and withdrew a dagger from an ornate sheath that had been displayed on the desk.

 

“Blood will seal the oath between us. But first, you must be patriarch of the Potters. For that, we present you with the Patriarch ring.”

 

The ring presented to him was old, Harry could tell, and the magic held therein was ancient. A large ruby was the main feature, surrounded by a Celtic knots made of platinum.

 

“This ring, once put on, will seal the family magics to you, and act as both a symbol of distinction in your new station, as well, as the family seal for any official mail that would require it.”

 

The ring was slid across the desk, still resting in the box it had been stored in. Harry stared a moment, taking stock of what he was about to do. With a deep breath, Harry picked up the ring from the box, a wind picking up in the room as magic was unleashed from the ring’s confines seeking to settle on Harry. Once Harry slid it on to his finger, the magic swept into his chest with such force it pushed him back into the chair. For what seemed hours, magic surged into him seeming to fill his body till he thought he would explode from it. A flash from the ring seemed to signal the end of it, transforming the ring into a simple braided band of platinum.

 

He was glad for it actually, has he wasn’t all too keen on having to wear such a large and dare he say gaudy ring.

 

For the next few moments, Harry tried to catch his breath again, trying to find a comfortable spot where the magic could settle. Finally his body seemed to accept the Familal connection, and everything seemed to settle.

 

Across from him, Gnarltooth watched him intently, the vicious smile back again now that Harry was settled once more. “Magic has gifted you well, Lord Potter. Lord Voldemort would do well to tread carefully by you now.”

 

Gnarltooth withdrew the dagger from its sheath and slit his own palm before presenting the dagger to Harry handle first.

 

Harry decisively slashed his own palm, before he could think about the fact that he was purposefully cutting himself and change his mind. They both held their fists above the book, allowing several drops to fall on to the front cover. The blood was absorbed into the book without a trace, before the goblin held out his hand to Harry. Harry took the extended hand, Muggle worries about sanitation and blood diseases being quashed in the back of his mind as a white light flashed around their hands, sealing the oath between them. When Harry withdrew his hand, there was not even so much as a scar from where the slash had been, nor even a drop of blood.

 

“We thank you for your Patronage, Lord Potter.” Gnarltooth said with an air of formality.

 

“And I thank you for your loyalty.” Harry replied.

 

With a nod, Gnarltooth pushed the books and parchment to the side and looked directly at Harry with an even more serious look than he had the entire meeting.

 

“Most wizards are not aware that Seers exist in other magical species, thinking themselves quite superior. Goblin Seers are a secret held sacred in the Goblin Clans, and are treasured more than all the Gold in the world. One such Seer is my sister, Torbane. She has instructed me to share with you a vision.”

 

Gnarltooth produced a small rolled up piece of parchment held together with a simple piece of twine. Harry took the parchment, and slowly undid the tie, allowing the parchment to unfurl and a gravelly feminine voice to speak.

 

**Insert Prophecy including a pagan spin, destruction and renewel of the old ways and a resurgence of magic Here****

 

Harry sat back in awe, once again at a loss for words.

 

“It seems we have much to look forward to, Lord Potter. It is not an easy task that fate has placed before you.”

 

“You’re telling me,” Harry blew out a breath, half a laugh escaping him, daunted at what the future might hold.

 

“That concludes our business, Lord Potter, unless there is anything you wish to discuss.” Gnarltooth said. Dobby took that as his cue to collect the books and scrolls and store them safely on Harry’s behalf.

 

“There is one question that I would ask,” Harry said, voicing a question that had been niggling at him since the meeting had first begun on the Oath. “What is Gringott’s position on the war with Lord Voldemort?”

 

“We are neutral in this war, unless you should ask for our aid.” Gnarltooth said, a gleam coming to his eye at the very mention of War.

 

“Then I thank you for your time. May your coffers always overflow, and your enemies curse your good fortune.” Harry said, glad that he had had Dobby include books on social etiquette in the Magical World when he had gone shopping. He could see that Gnarltooth seemed to have a grudging sense of pride or satisfaction that Harry had known of the formal language required.

 

“And may you bathe in the blood of your enemies, and your vaults always be full.” Gnarltooth returned, standing and showing Harry to the door.

 

Outside, both Tonks and Shacklebolt were anxiously waiting, relief on their faces as soon as Harry stepped out into the corridor.

 

“Grapleknot will take you to your vaults now, for any withdrawals you wish to make, Lord Potter.”

 

“Thank you for your time today, Gnarltooth.” Harry said with an incline of his head, before the goblin strode away. Moments later, another older looking Goblin was waiting just up the corridor.

 

“Gnarltooth?!” Shacklebolt said in shock and in horror as he Tonks seemed to go pale.

 

“Lord?” Tonks asked after a moment in confusion.

 

“Yes, Lord Potter.” Harry said, emotions finally coming back to the fore after having with held them from the meeting. “Someone has a lot of explaining to do.” Harry said darkly, striding down the corridor towards Grapleknot.

 

 

~*~

 

They barely made it back to Number 12 Grimmauld place at the time stipulated by Dumbledore. They had spent a very brief hour getting as much shopping in as possible for Harry’s school supplies for the coming year, along with the other things that Dobby had said they needed to get, including a new library trunk. Harry couldn’t wait for some time alone to investigate the ladder that he had only managed to glimpse that led down into the bowels of the trunk, before Shacklebolt had hurried them along.

 

Harry stumbled out of the Floo into a small sitting room that he had not been in before, Ron and Hermione sitting on the small settee waiting for him. He had only to wait a second before he was engulfed in a full body hug from Hermione, whilst Ron awkwardly held on to his arm.

 

“Where have you been mate? You never answered our letters!” Ron said, a worried frown on his face.

 

“I’m so glad to see the both of you,” Harry admitted, hugging Hermione to him tightly before releasing her. “There was something wrong this summer with the mail. My letters weren’t getting out and no letters were coming in.”

 

“Oh Harry!!” Hermione sobbed, quickly hugging him tightly again before taking a decisive step back and sniffling back her tears. “Are you alright? How was your summer? Were the Dursley’s any trouble this year?”

 

“Would you believe they’ve been on holidays for the last three weeks,” Harry said with a laugh, Hermione laughing wetly.

 

“Alright!!” Ron said, high fiving Harry.

 

Behind them Tonks and Shacklebolt shuffled out of the Floo and through the room and beyond, where he could hear people talking. Moments later, Mrs Weasley popped her head around the door.

 

“Welcome back, Harry dear! Come on through, the meeting is about to start.”

 

They were all gathered in the Kitchen, Kreacher luckily nowhere to be seen. Harry wasn’t sure he would be able to keep himself from hexing the little bastard should he see him. Mrs Weasley was still bustling about the Kitchen as everyone sat down at the table. Harry, Hermione and Ron filling up a corner spot next to the twins and Charlie. At the other end, Harry could see Dumbledore talking quietly with Professor Snape, Professor McGonagall and Shacklebolt.

 

After a moment, Professor Dumbledore glanced at him with an assessing look, before turning back and continuing their quiet discussion.

 

Harry wasn’t sure he liked the look he had received, and wondered not for the first time that perhaps Professor Dumbledore had been keeping things from him for his own purposes. It wouldn’t have been the first time that it had been the case.

 

Another ten minutes later and the meeting still had yet to start, but Harry now had a large plate of sandwiches in front of him, along with a steaming cup of tea, courtesy of Dobby, as he never did get a chance to have lunch.

 

“Is this always how meetings go,” Harry asked Hermione quietly, the witch rolled her eyes.

 

“One meeting, they never even discussed anything. It was like Dumbledore forgot why we were even here. Everyone was just chatting for over an hour before Dumbledore got up and left, saying he had projects needing his attention at Hogwarts.” Hermione replied, tone resigned. “Are you alright Harry? I can’t imagine you had a very good holiday, not having anyone to talk to about what happened.”

 

Harry sighed. “I had Dobby.”

 

“Really?” Hermione said with a smile. “I’m glad.”

 

“Though, there is something that I need to talk to you about, in regards to S.P.E.W.” Harry said, knowing he couldn’t let Hermione go with her crusade, as he would only alienate the House Elf community.

 

“After the meeting?” Hermione asked, and Harry nodded.

 

It was a further twenty minutes after that before Professor Dumbledore finished his private conversation with Arthur Weasley, and turned to the rest of the assembled witches and wizards, a throat being cleared bringing everyone’s attention to the meeting.

 

“Thank you for coming everyone,” Dumbledore began. “We only have a few things to discuss today. Severus brings us news that Voldemort is only now moving his forces, having spent the summer lying low. The Ministry has yet to take any decisive action against this threat, aside from rostering the Aurors in public places. This means we ourselves must be vigilant.”

 

“The Dark Lord has advised that he plans to expand his forces.” Severus continued, “He is now actively recruiting to his cause, he is releasing information that the Ministry has foolishly kept secret that Magic is being diluted. He is using the Muggleborns and half-bloods to further the propaganda in his plans. It is working.”

 

Professor Snape sat down again, the whole room muttering quite loudly amongst themselves.

 

Harry himself was quiet, thinking about this revelation. He wanted to think that it was ridiculous, but he knew a little bit about genetics from his Muggle Primary School science class. It in actual fact would not surprise him at all, and judging by the look on Professor Snape’s face at hearing the comments from around the room, it might just have some facts behind it.

 

Hermione beside him, he could see, had sat back in her chair and was chewing her lip. He knew that she would be lost to her books soon after the meeting finished.

 

“That’s just bullshit,” Ron said, a snarl on his face. “Like Magic could just disappear like that. I can’t believe anyone could be so stupid.”

 

Harry and Hermione could only look at each other.

 

“Yes, indeed it is a preposterous claim,” Dumbledore said, and Harry watched as Professor Snape’s head snapped around to stare at the Headmaster in disbelief, “But regardless of any claim that he might make, there will always be those who will fall for it out of fear. It is our role to keep the members of our society safe and informed. So I ask that all of you refute this information when presented to you.”

 

Harry watched as Snape seemed to blank his face of all emotion or reaction.

 

“As to our next matter, I have discussed with many of you separately your concerns in regards to the magical creatures that could possibly side with Voldemort should an actual war be waged. In light of this, many of you will receive packages over the next few days with assignments. Charlie, I ask you to look out for the Dragons. Should even one be captured, the damage it could wreak would be devastating. Bill, during your work with Gringotts, could you possibly ascertain the Goblin position on the coming war. Remus, if you could reach out to the werewolf colonies.”

 

Dumbledore continued for another few minutes, listing all sorts of species. Harry wondered just how long it would be, before the Order discovered the Oath he had with the Goblins.

 

“Finally, this year at Hogwarts, we are lucky enough to have secured a new Professor in the Defense Against the Dark Arts position. However, it is not someone who will be attending Order meetings. He is a notable practitioner from the Americas, but has said he wishes to remain out of the war. We must respect his decisions.

 

 

“So remember, be vigilant where ever you go. Look out for anything that does not look right. And should anyone ask you about these foolish rumours, remind them that Grindlewald is seeking to weaken our resolve by any means. Advise them no such report exists, and nothing will damage the future generations of witches and wizards like he suggests. Good afternoon everyone.”

 

Chatter rose up in the room, as everyone stood to go about their business.

 

Harry took advantage of the moment to quickly stride over to the Potions Master.

 

“Sir?” Harry asked, keeping his tone respectful, knowing that Snape wouldn’t be so.

 

“Potter.” The man snarled, barely looking at him as he gathered his things ready to leave.

 

“What Dumbledore said about the rumour on magic. That’s possible isn’t?” Harry said quickly, only just noticing Hermione behind him. Luckily Ron was over with the twins.

 

Snape said nothing for a few moments and Harry knew he was questioning whether he should say something or not.

 

“Genetics says that it is possible,” Hermione urged quietly.

 

“How come the Ministry hasn’t said anything then?” Harry returned.

 

“Because Fudge is an ignoramus happy to bury his head in the sand,” Snape finally admitted tersely.

 

“So Dumbledore is keeping the Ministry’s secrets then, to stop Voldemort,” Hermione asked for clarification.

 

“Before this meeting, I would have said Professor Dumbledore would never have agreed to suppress such important information.” Snape gathered his travel cloak to put on.

 

“He mentioned Grindlewald, too,” Hermione pressed.

 

“A mistake, I’m sure.”

 

~*~

 

Harry looked around the room at the people gathered around the table, Mrs Weasley back to bustling in the kitchen preparing drinks and snacks. His mind jumped, wanting to ask where Sirius was, until he remembered again. Dobby beside him just patted his arm, seeming to know where Harry’s thoughts had turned.

 

“You missed the best Quidditch final this year, mate,” Ron said enthusiastically. “West Ham vs. Anglesey. The match lasted four and a half days! It was amazing!!”

 

“Sounds it!” Harry tried to put enthusiasm into it, but it was hard.

 

“So you had a pretty quiet summer then. What happened to all the letters I wonder. It’s weird that you couldn’t send letters, as well as receive.”

 

“There’s nothing wrong with Hedwig, is there?” Hermione asked.

 

“No, Dobby checked her and found no charms or hexes on her that shouldn’t be there. I wonder if it was some kind of warding on the house, though. Not that I plan to go back.”

 

“What do you mean? I thought you would need to go back next summer to maintain the wards so Voldemort couldn’t find you.” Hermione asked curiously.

 

“I don’t care about the wards. I’m never going back to that house if I can help it. And whilst I was at Gringotts, I received the Potter Family Magics.”

 

“So you’re the Patriarch, are you?” Ron said with a frown. Harry could only sigh.

 

“Yeah, I am.”

 

“Heh. Where’s the signet ring then?” Ron snorted.

 

Harry held out his right hand, showing the platinum band.

 

“That’s it? Hah!! The Weasley family ring is bigger than that,” Ron boasted with a nasty grin.

 

Before their eyes, the ring shimmered and transformed to the, in Harry’s opinion, gaudy ring, though Harry could tell this time seeing it, it didn’t quite look so tarnished any more. Now the Platinum looked as if it had been buffed, and the large ruby gleamed in the light of the room.
The wonders of magic, Harry huffed, both at its reappearance and its reacting to his magic.

 

Harry was the one that wanted to snort now, watching as Ron’s face showcased his changing emotions. In seconds, he went from smug, to startled, to envious. Funnily enough he kept his mouth shut.

 

“What does it mean Harry?” Hermione asked, peering at the ring.

 

“I’m not too sure. I’ve not had a chance to read through the information the Goblins gave me.”

 

He wasn’t sure why, but he wanted to keep the Goblin Oath on the quiet for the time being. He wasn’t sure on Hermione and Ron’s reactions to that piece of news.

 

“Master Harry comes from old and Noble Family. He has Titled lands given to him from King Arthur Pendragon. He will also have a seat in the Wizengamont. If Master Harry was not already the Boy Who Lived, he would still be very important now he is turned sixteen.” Dobby informed them.

 

“So now you’ll be able to rub shoulders with the elite’s, huh.” Ron said darkly.

 

“Hardly!!” Harry did snort that time. “Why would I want to do that? When have you ever seen me enjoy the spotlight Ron?”

 

“You should know that Ron. Remember the TriWizard Tournament.” Hermione scolded gently.

 

“No Hermione! He’s going to leave us by the waysides! Now that he’s ‘RICH’ he won’t want to be seen with the likes of us. We’ll be beneath him.” Ron shouted.

 

Harry struggled to remain calm. Something he had been struggling with all year, all told. But after blowing up Professor Dumbledore’s office, he had been thinking that displaying anger did not achieve anything. It was not to his benefit to chuck a hissy fit, so there was no reason to display it. Ron of course had yet to learn this lesson.

 

“Ron…” Harry blew out a deep breath nosily. “You guys have been my family, practically since I stepped foot in this world. Not having had a family before this, I hope you guys know how much I treasure your friendship, and when I say that I consider you family, you know that it means a lot to me. I wouldn’t leave ‘My Family’ for any reason, and certainly not something so mundane and petty as money and a title.”

 

Ron blew out a frustrated sigh. “You don’t know what it’s like to grow up poor, Harry. I’ve dreamed of being rich my whole life. It would be the answer to all my family’s problems.”

 

“I don’t know what it’s like to grow up poor, Ron. Is that what you just said?” Harry said, this time the anger did roll off him in waves. “So growing up in the Cupboard under the stairs… I could see how that could seem palatial to you. Being regularly abused and neglected… no that must be nowhere near what you’ve suffered. Wearing my whale of a cousin’s old and tattered cast off clothing, when they decided I DESERVED new clothes for the last fourteen years. Being fed once a day, and only then when my Aunt remembered to? No… I have no IDEA what it must have been like to be poor Ron. Please, explain that to me!!” Harry growled, watching as Ron blanched and refused to meet his eye.

 

When nothing was said after a few minutes, Harry had had enough, and left the room.

 

~*~

 

The following two days, Harry ignored Ron. Ron made this easy as he seemed to be avoiding Harry.

 

Harry was fine with that.

 

Hermione, it seemed had yelled at Ron after Harry had left the room, going by what Dobby had said. Hermione had been keeping him in silent company since. They spent their time in the Library, somewhere they were sure Ron would not venture, and worked on their own projects. Just as Harry thought, Hermione was already on the investigation into the Wizarding world’s understanding in genetics. The Black family library wasn’t that particularly helpful in that respect, so Hermione had to bide her time until they could return to Hogwarts.

 

Harry started his reading with the books that he had received from Gnarltooth. It was dry reading, but it basically reiterated in an extraordinary amount of detail what Gnarltooth and Dobby had already explained. Though his responsibilities with the Wizengamont sounded daunting, he recognized it for the vehicle that it was. Through that position, it looked like he just might be able to accomplish some of what the Goblin Prophecy had mentioned.

 

After that, it was back to brushing up on the course work from the previous year.

Harry knew, now that he was a Lord and a Patriarch, things would have to be different. His attitude would have to be different. And that meant that he really had to take his schooling seriously.

 

On the train, Ron sat with the other boys from Gryffindor, leaving Harry and Hermione in another cabin. Shortly after the train took off, they were joined by Neville, Luna and Ginny.

 

“How was your summer?” Neville asked everyone carefully, sitting down opposite Harry and Hermione.

 

“Not too bad Neville,” Harry replied with a small smile. Everyone else chimmed in their agreement. “And you?”

 

“Yeah. Not too bad. Gran was still a bit angry. But I think she was proud of me too. And I finally got my own wand.” Neville beamed in happiness. “It’s taken some getting used to, but now my magic actually works!”

 

“That’s fantastic, Neville.” Hermione beamed at him. They were all very aware just what kind of opinion Neville had of himself because of his ability with his Father’s wand.

 

“I surprisingly had a very good summer,” Luna said, her normal airy voice amused Harry. “The warklesprouts were in full bloom. It means we will have a very fulfilling year, this year.”

 

“I hope so,” Harry said, wanting to find a way to move on. He was beginning to feel impatient to start this year’s classes, and have something to distract himself with.

 

~*~

 

It wasn’t until September the 12th that the first indicator of things to come, came to pass.

 

Hermione received a letter during the evening meal from her parents.

 

“Oh Merlin, no…” she said softly. Eyes quickly scanning the rest of the letter. A few newspaper clippings had fallen out onto the table.

 

“Is everything alright, Hermione,” Neville asked from across the table. Since they had been back at school, Neville had seemed to replace Ron for the time being. Ron still refused to look Harry in the eye, and Harry knew that Hermione was still angry at him.

 

“There’s-,” Hermione started, but her voice broke. “There’s been an attack in the Muggle United States. A terrorist attack.”

 

“What?” Harry asked sharply.

 

“There could be another muggle war, Harry.” Hermione said, tears running down her face.

 

“A Muggle war?” Neville asked, confused.

 

“Yes, a Muggle war, possibly World War III.”

 

“World War III,” Neville asked, sounding a lot more worried now.

 

“There’s been two World War’s so far. Like the name suggests, a good portion of the Muggle countries were involved. The last one was around the time of Grindlwald, so I’m not sure how much of an impact it may or may not have had on the wizarding communities around the world. But this time is much different than the previous wars. This one has the potential for much more widespread damage.”

 

“Like Muggles could actually attack us,” Ron snorted. “We’ve got wards and stuff that will keep them out.”

 

“And what about bombs, then?” Hermione said shortly.

 

“Bombs, you mean like the twins stink bombs?”

 

“No, I mean bombs that can level buildings for a ten-mile radius.”

 

“There’s no need to exaggerate, ‘Mione. Muggles just aren’t capable of that kind of damage.” Ron said, turning away from them with a glare.

 

Hermione turned to Harry.

 

“Don’t look at me, we didn’t get that far into History in my primary school.” Harry said, holding his hands, trying to placate.

 

“Muggles are that damn dangerous,” Hermione seethed. “I should know, seeing as I grew up as one.”

 

She slammed the letter down on the table in a huff.

 

“Do you mind if I have a read?” Harry pointed to the newspaper clippings.

 

“Sure,” Hermione said, sitting back in her seat to glare at Ron some more.

 

The article was just as bad as Harry had imagined. The Twin Towers in America were destroyed. The pentagon attacked. Another flight en route intended for another target. It certainly seemed like the opening volley of a War.

 

“So, do you think it could affect us, this war, because, you know, not that I’m agreeing with Ron, but I’m sorta agreeing with Ron. I didn’t think they were necessarily a danger.”

 

“Muggles have had massive leaps in technology in the last forty odd years,” Hermione said huffily. “The bombs I mentioned? They were around in World War II, during the war with Grindlewald. Now, they’ve made bombs that are more destructive, more precise, and even bombs that carry pathogens that won’t just destroy physical sites, but leave chemicals that will infect people who travel to that site for years to come. If the bomb doesn’t kill you, the disease will. I think it would be naive to think that Muggles wouldn’t use that on us if they were to become aware of us on a grand scale.”

 

~*~

 

The first class the next day was, as it always happened to be, Potions with the Slytherins. Harry and Hermione had spent a good portion of the night before brainstorming between them for the possible dangers that were inherent in any Muggle war. It was scary when the list was a long one.

 

Since then, Hermione had contacted her parents for her history books from when she had been in Primary School. They had come that morning at breakfast. Hermione had had her head in a book ever since.

 

Harry had lain awake late into the night thinking over everything that posed a danger to the Magical World. He was drawn short when he found a hole in his knowledge, just what kind of defences did the Magical World have in place? He resolved to get to the library at lunch time and start some research of this own.

 

He was still making a mental list of all the things he wanted to research when Hermione interrupted his train of thought.

 

“Harry, I really don’t think the magical world is in any way prepared for the kind of damaged the Muggle world could wreck. The Wizarding world has been so out of touch with the advancements made by the Muggles that I’m not even sure existing wards would even be affective with what the Muggles could throw at us.”

 

“You mean the nuclear bombs,” Harry said, sitting back from the desk as the thought took root in his mind.

 

“Yeah.” Hermione said simply. What else was there to say.

 

~*~

 

Draco Malfoy was quite used to getting his own way. He supposed it was a by-product of his upbringing, but there were drawbacks to living a privileged life. The most pressing of those drawbacks was staring him in the face at present, and was directly in conflict with him always getting his way.

 

The letter from his Mother (though theu were his Father’s words) contained all the normal drivel in regards to her and his Father’s health, the expectations for Draco’s academic scores (and hadn’t that been galling when Granger had beaten all of his scores, even potions), and best wishes for Draco’s health.

 

It was the last paragraph of the letter which vexed him.

 

During Yule holidays, we will be expecting a guest at Malfoy Manor. He is most eager to meet with you and take you under his wing. I trust you will make yourself available during this time to meet with our guest.

 

Voldemort.

 

Voldemort and his Marking Ceremony.

 

Draco couldn’t help but shudder at the thought. He had been raised all of his life in the belief that he, as a Malfoy – and the future Patriarch at that- bowed to nothing and no one. That Lucius now expected him to bow before a half-blood maniac was absurd and downright insulting. That Lucius had been doing so for the last few decades was plainly horrifying.

 

Draco knew that he would not take the step that his Father demanded of him. It simply did not fit in with his plans. Draco had many plans for his future, some were contingent on other plans, others were stand alone, but all required that he be the leader he was born to be.

 

That wasn’t to say that he disagreed with Voldemort. Not at all. Lord Voldemort had many a good idea for the future of Wizarding kind. It was his methods and goals that Draco disagreed with. If the ‘man’ wasn’t so bloody barmy, Draco would even be tempted to offer a partnership.

 

He knew it was ridiculous to contemplate Voldemort accepting him as an equal, but a boy could dream.

 

In the end, Draco kept his reply to his Father vague in details, just as the same man had taught him, and said he would make every effort to be available over Yule, and would confirm closer to the date.

 

Draco had no intention what so ever of going home. He would work out the details of that plan later on. He dubbed that plan as Project: Avoid Like Hell Fire.

 

Making his way to breakfast, he was pleased to see the Weasel was still on the outs with the other two-thirds of the Golden Trio. He had no idea why the thoughts gave him such joy, but he happily indulged it.

 

The Golden Trio seemed to be expanding lately anyway. Longbottom had recently taken the Weasel’s place. He had noted the Weaselette trying in vain to but her way into the tight-knit circle. Seeing the chit rebuffed each time gave him another little jolt of joy as well. He was surprised when Looney Lovegood had started spending more time with them as well, but each to their own.

 

This morning he could see that it was a sober affair. Perhaps Granger’s feral cat had died. Draco shrugged. It hardly affected him.

 

Until it did.

 

He was seated in the station in front of Potter and Granger in Potions, and he had overheard their muttered conversation about Muggle bombs that the Wizarding wards may not be able to protect them from.

 

Draco wanted to dismiss the idea, thinking ‘what did Granger and Potter know about warding spells anyway’. But the thought stuck in his mind, so much so that he missed Severus sweeping into the room.

 

“Potter, Granger. Are you ready to begin today’s lesson or would you like another few minutes,” Snape said darkly, making Draco smirk.

 

“No, Sir,” they both replied sullenly.

 

“Detention tonight, see me after class.” Snape glared at them a little bit longer, before turning to the board and the lesson.

 

Draco listened to the Potions Master’s lecture with half an ear, already ascertaining it was a potion he had brewed several times before under Severus’ tutelage in preparation for his apprenticeship. He jotted down the instructions for the homework and slowly cleaned up and collected his things. All the while, the room quickly emptied and Potter and Granger approached the Professor’s desk.

 

“Detention this evening. I expect to see you in this class room at 7pm sharp.”

 

“Yes, sir.” Granger said, whilst Potter nodded.

 

They both sighed heavily as they quickly walked out the room. Severus just raised an eyebrow upon noticing Draco still in the class room.

 

“Mr Malfoy,” the Potions Master acknowledged.

 

“Sir, may I sit on this evenings detention?” Snape was about to launch into a rebuff, “No, not like that sir. I overheard something interesting said between them, something which I think bears investigation.”

 

The Potions Master eyes him critically, “Very well, Mr Malfoy, I will be ten minutes late for the Detention this evening. Use your time wisely.”

 

“Thank you, sir.”

 

~*~

 

Lunch time saw Draco missing the meal to spy on Potter and Granger in the library. It was somewhere he expected the Bookworm to be, but he knew Potter barely tolerated the Library at the best of times. This time saw him striding in first.

 

“Do you know much about warding spells, ‘Mione?” Potter asked, looking around lost at the all the signs and directions on subjects within the library.

 

Granger prodded him in the right direction, “Not as much as I would currently like, unfortunately. But if you want to start researching that, I’ll keep going with Muggle warfare.”

 

“You sure you don’t want to swap? You’re usually the wiz with the magical topics.” Potter suggested.

 

“No, I know you have an interest in wards, besides it would be good practice for you. I’m glad you’re taking a more vested interest in your education.”

 

“Well, no matter what Ron might think or say, I think my being the Patriarch of the Potters means that I really need to create and maintain a standard. It was stupid to think that I could just cruise through Hogwarts anyway. I don’t know why I wasn’t taking it more seriously.”

 

“I think it’s a good idea, Harry.”

 

“Who knows, maybe if I had been more attentive in my studies, I may have prevented what happened at the Ministry. Maybe Sirius might still be alive.” Potter slumped at a nearby desk morosely.

 

“You can’t think that way Harry. This may sound callous, but it’s in the past. You can’t change it, but you can learn from it. And that is what you are doing now. It might be for different reasons, but you learning. Besides, there were more forces at work creating that event than just your aptitude for studying.” Granger reasoned, surprising Draco.

 

“You’re right. I need to move on. Right. Warding spells.”

 

Granger disappeared for a few minutes, returning with a stack of books floating behind her.

 

“These books look to be enough to give you a grounding in the theory, but I think you’ll need to take up Arithmancy and Runes in the long run.”

 

He watched as Potter sighed heavily. “I wish I hadn’t listened to Ron when I chose my subjects. You got any beginner texts of those subjects in that pile?”

 

“It will be okay, Harry. I’ll help tutor you.”
“Cheers Hermione.” Harry sighed again. “What have you got so far?”

 

“It’s like I feared actually. Muggles in general fear what they don’t understand. You can count the Magical World in that category, no matter that some people would think that Magic would end all their problems. As soon as they discovered that Magic kind would not be subverted to their will, they would destroy us. Nuclear weapons it seems has become the weapon of choice. That or chemical warfare, and that thought alone terrifies me. There are nuclear weapons in all the major countries in the planet.” Hermione sighed, “We really need to find out if there are any warding spells that would be able to protect against a nuclear attack, especially the fallout radiation.”

 

“We’re screwed aren’t we?” Potter asked.

 

“If they discover us, yes I think we are.”

 

Draco left the library after that, the Gryffindors giving him ample food for thought. And it seemed Muggles weren’t the useless, bumbling fools that he had been taught they had been.

 

~*~

 

“Where are you guys going?” Ron said, watching as Hermione and Harry collected their cloaks and bags to head out of the Common Room.

 

“We’re going to detention, remember?” Hermione said dryly.

 

“Oh.” Ron blushed in embarrassment.

 

Harry only rolled his eyes at the other boy, turning to step out into the corridor. Hermione followed him out a few moments later, swearing under her breath.

 

“It’ll be okay, Hermione. Hopefully he’ll come around,” Harry said consolingly, though in his own mind, he was starting to think that perhaps it would be no great loss if Ron did not come around.

 

Ron had certainly not been all that loyal or friendly to him, especially after all the chances he had given the red head. But Harry was also reminded that Ron had followed him to the Ministry building, and had been there fighting against the Death Eaters, so perhaps he was being hasty. Either way, Harry was getting sick of not being able to trust the youngest male Weasley.

 

“Hiya Harry,” a younger female voice said, scaring him in his spot.

 

“Hey Ginny,” Harry replied. “How are you?”

 

“I’m good,” She beamed. “Where are you guys going?”

 

“Detention with Snape,” Harry said, shrugging self deprecatingly.”That sucks,” Ginny said, with a smile. “Is Hermione going with you?”

 

“Well, yeah, she got one too.” Harry said with a frown, watching as a sneer seemed to pass her face quickly.

 

“We have to get going, sorry Gin.” Harry said, stepping around her to leave.

 

“Can we catch up soon, Harry? Did you want to study with me this weekend?” Ginny asked, coyly.

 

This of course just terrified Harry.

 

“Uh… I umm,” Harry stuttered until Hermione rescued him.

 

“Sorry Ginny, Harry’s already asked me to go over some notes with him for our charms homework.” Hermione gave her a bright grin before pulling Harry down the hallway.

 

“Thanks Hermione. I don’t know what I’d do without you.” Harry said with relief.

 

“End up in more and more awkward situations I think,” Hermione said with a smirk. “You really need to tell her you aren’t interested.”

 

~*~

 

“Snape isn’t here yet,” Hermione said from in front of Harry as they walked into the Potions Classroom.

 

“That’s really strange,” Harry said, moving through the room and up to a desk at the front to wait.

 

They didn’t have to wait long until Draco Malfoy walked into the room, but by that stage they were already immersed in discussion again.

 

“It’s possible though right. If something happened, something so big occurred, and with technology the way it is, it could be all over the internet within minutes. The DMLE would have no hope of Obliviating everyone that came upon that knowledge. That kind of news would spread like wildfire.” Hermione said.

 

“Yeah, I don’t think there would be any way of coming back from that.” Harry admitted.

 

“So someone needs to make sure that nothing like that can ever happen. I’m not sure the Statute for Secrecy Act is quite enough. From what I’ve read of the Act, it’s much more of a listing of punishments should magic be inadvertently revealed to Muggles, whether that’s intentional or accidental. It doesn’t say enough on what kind of wards are in use to uphold the Act.”
“So I really need to read up on these wards, but I’m just not understanding enough about how they work. I can’t quite get the intricacies in my head with the way the runes are arranged.”

 

“Learning never really was your forte, was it Potter?” Draco said, announcing his presence.

 

“Not really,” Harry admitted. “But I need to start somewhere,” Harry said, sticking his nose back in the book.

 

“So you think Muggles could be dangerous to Magical Kind.” Draco prodded, trying to keep his face looking interested, and not sneering. It was a bad habit of his, he admitted to himself, but a fun one by the way everyone would react to it.

 

“We’re not getting in to an argument with you, Malfoy. Snape will be along any minute.” Hermione said crossly.

 

“No arguments!” Draco held his palms up in surrender. “Just honest curiosity. I overheard you guys during class, it piqued my interest. And being that you both have spent time in the Muggle world, I can assume you would have a greater idea on what Muggles can and cannot do, in relation to myself.” Draco explained.

 

“But why are you even asking us?”

 

“Because I would like to know.”

 

“Alright,” Harry said, quelling Hermione with a look. “What do you want to know about Muggles.”

 

“You mentioned they could be a danger to us. How?”

 

“Well, in the last fifty to a hundred years, Muggles have made astounding leaps in technology and science. That means that they aren’t the pitchfork wielding villagers that most of the Wizarding world seems to think they still are. In the last fifty odd years alone, there have been several wars, and one World War where a good portion of the World’s biggest countries were involved. And I mean real warfare, both aerial and naval. They can have a ship sitting off the coast and target a small area literally a hundred miles away, and decimate the entire area. They can drop bombs from jets that would wipe out the whole of London.”

 

“What kind of aerial attacks do you mean?”

 

“Aerial attacks, so jets, that fly through the sky, much, much faster than the fastest possible broom. They can shoot bullets and missiles as other airborne or land targets. Mainly they can drop bombs on land or water targets, and are much more devastating than any one spell I’ve ever heard of. Nuclear bombs will devastate an area for several square miles, and make that area uninhabitable for a hundred years or more. Chemical bombs have the potential for having a more devastating impact on life forms, than on town’s or cities. These bombs can contain any kind of chemical, which when released could spread disease or just spread a gas that would kill everyone.”

 

Draco listened avidly, the situation much more serious than he had ever thought it could be if what they said was in anyway true.

 

“There are also naval attacks. Muggles have large ships and submarines which travel through the oceans with similar kinds of attacks.

“Also, I’m not sure if you or the Wizarding kind is aware, that Muggles have technology that have put man on the moon. We have travelled through space, and have devices in space that can look out into the universe, as well as back down in on earth and spy on anyone or anything. I really think that it is only a matter of time before something happens and Wizarding Kind will be unable to sustain the Statute of Secrecy Act. Information travels much faster these days because of technology.”

 

“This is most definitely a concern.” Draco said, the alarm going off in his mind he had set early to remind him his time was nearly up. “Thank you for explaining it to me.”

 

~*~

 

They watched as Malfoy beat a hasty retreat, and not a moment too soon as seconds after, Professor Snape swept into the room.

 

‘”So, what could have possibly been so interesting that it took precedence over my class.” the Potion’s Master sneered, manoeuvring to the chair behind his desk, glaring at the students all the while.

 

“We’re sorry, Professor. But we have heard news that there is a possibility of a Muggle War breaking out. We wondered what kind of safety measures-”

 

“A Muggle War?” Professor Snape demanded, standing from his chair again so quickly it bounced off the wall behind him. “What evidence do you have for this supposition?”

 

Hermione produced the Newspaper clippings that her parents had owled her, handing them over with a serious expression.

 

“I don’t think my parents would play such a prank. But why has there been nothing reported in the Daily Prophet or something. Surely this is something that people should be made aware of.” Hermione said, determined.

 

“You will find Miss Granger that there are those in the world, who will subvert this kind of information for fear of what it could mean both for the magical world as a whole, as well as that person personally. That fear often drives people to ignore or even deny such information. Our esteemed Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, is a prime example of such a specimen.”

 

“So what can we do about it?” Harry asked, sounding eager.

 

“I do not know, Mr Potter.”

 

“And what about Dumbledore, what are we going to do about him. We weren’t the only ones to notice his slip. You saw it, too,” Hermione pressed, but it was too far.

 

“Professor Dumbledore’s personal situation is none of your concern, Miss Granger. The both of you will begin cleaning the store rooms.”

 

~*~

 

Draco, not for the first time in his life, wished he owned a pensieve just so that it was easier to review things that had happened during the past, but especially so for today’s conversation with the Gryffindors.

 

Their discussion had opened the proverbial can of worms within Draco’s mind, creating a whole new hurdle in his own future plans. The fact that Muggles were seemingly so much more advanced than anyone else seemed to give them credit for was worrying. And the things Granger had discussed with were quite frankly terrifying. He resolved that they were very right to worry about the possible ramifications should such an event take place.

 

It meant that the plans that he had been working on seemed to be all the more necessary.

 

~*~

 

“Malfoy?” Harry said awkwardly, watching as the Slytherin sat down next to him during lunch the following day in the library. “Can we help you with something?”

 

“No, I believe it is the other way around. You are having trouble understanding warding spells? This is to be expected, you having not taken Runes or Arithmancy. That is where we need to start.” The blonde explained, bringing text books and parchment out.

 

“Um, not that I don’t appreciate your offer to teach me, but Hermione has already offered.”

 

“I’m sure she has. But she needs to be busy researching what Muggle technologies are currently available, and the possible impacts it could have on Wizarding kind. I think it best she focus on that for the time being, whilst I attempt to bring you up to date on your sorely lacking education.”

The last book that Malfoy pulled out seemed to be a young children’s book. Harry was tempted to hit him for it, but in the end decided to trust the smarmy git. It was time that Harry grew up, and if Malfoy was willing to ignore the past for the time being, then he could surely try too.

 

They spent the rest of lunch with Hermione busily scribbling notes from various texts around whilst Malfoy tried to teach him the kinds of things he would have known, had he grown up in the magical world.

 

Harry caught on fast enough, but it was still slow going, considering just how many years he needed to catch up on.

 

When lunch came to an end, Draco gave him some homework read through. He should have known the Blonde would be a hard task master.

 

It took the better part of a month for Harry to grasp the basics of both new topics well enough that he could begin focusing on Warding spells.

 

Harry was surprised the blonde hadn’t forced himself on that topic, and made Harry research something else, as it was plain to see that Malfoy was very knowledgeable on all three topics of wards, Arithmancy and runes. Instead, he had started researching, of all things, Celtic history in the United Kingdom.

 

“What’s going o-WHAT’S HE DOING HERE?” the angry voice of Ron Weasley startled them all.

 

All three of them groaned at the spectacular entrance he was making, immediately drawing the attention of Madame Pince.

 

“We were doing some research, Ron,” Hermione said placating.

 

“But with HIM?? WHY is he here?” Ron demanded in a mean whisper.

 

“He’s helping us actually, which I had thought you would have done, had you not had your head that far up your own arse,” Hermione growled back, even meaner.

 

Hermione started packing up at that, leading Harry and Malfoy to do the same. “After classes?” Harry asked quietly.

 

“Sure. I’ll meet you guys here.” Draco agreed quietly, moving to leave the group that had gathered around them.

 

“NO!! What have you done to them?!” Ron demanded, wand point at Malfoy’s throat.

 

“It seems I’ve been a better friend than you have these last few weeks,” Draco sneered, daring the Weasel to make a move. “You’ve not made any effort, when it is quite apparent that this is something your so called friends have obviously been anxious over something.”

 

“They don’t need help from someone like you!”

 

“No, they don’t need help from someone like YOU, Weasley! You wouldn’t know how to open a book to save yourself.”

 

Ron sneered, “Redu-“

 

Harry suddenly stood in front of the pointed wand, causing Ron to stutter in shock, the rest of the hex not making it past his lips.

 

“What are you doing Harry?” Ron asking, still extremely angry, but very puzzled.

 

“Saving yourself from a year’s worth of detention, if not criminal charges. “ Harry said seriously, a deep frown on his face. “Wizards don’t seem to recognise any kind of sanctity of life, I swear.”

 

“Harry why are you defending him?” Ron asked, anger coming back in full force.

 

“Why are you willing to kill someone so easily at the age of fifteen? You could have taken his head clean off with that spell,” Harry said, internally horrified.

 

“He’s a Death Eater!!” Ron yelled in Harry’s face, but Harry could only look on in pity.

 

“You really think I’m that stupid, Ron?” Harry sighed. “Just… walk away Ron.”

 

Harry turned away from him, looking to Draco. “Sorry.”

 

“Don’t be.” The blonde said, with a shrug. “I’ll talk to you later.”

 

Behind them, Harry could hear Hermione working herself up to a scathing rant, but seemed to abruptly deflate.

 

“Let’s go to class.”

 

~*~

 

Ron spent the rest of the day glaring at Harry and Hermione, and actively attempting to hex Malfoy.

 

The fact that he was unsuccessful brought a lot of unintentional amusement Harry’s way.

 

The fact that it continued on for the following weeks was in the end quite ridiculous. Neville had taken to following Hermione around, just so as to avoid Ron. Ron of course hadn’t taken that little revelation well either.

 

Neville hadn’t been actively researching with them, but had happily been researching his own projects in Herbology, finally finding his niche now that he had his own wand, instead of a family heirloom.

 

Draco had kept his mouth wisely shut, so far, in regards to Neville, and most of their discussions took place when the gardener wasn’t around. And they had been getting more and more heated as Halloween approached.

 

“It’s been documented that Magic is becoming less and less prevalent in this world as the years pass. Something needs to be done that will preserve magic for future generations. In less than a thousand years, there may not be any magical folk left.” Draco said, eyes wide and passionate.

 

“And what do you suggest we do then? What research has been done to preserve magic?”

 

“We don’t need research, magic was doing fine until the seventeenth century and when the Druidic Enclave was replaced with the Wizengamont and Ministry of Magic. As soon as the Enclave was put to an end, magic has begun leaving us!”

 

“And what practices were the Enclaves doing that are no longer being done. I can’t imagine it’s the name of the group that’s had such a fundamental change in magic.”

 

“They observed the Circle of the Year.”

 

“The what?” Hermione asked, a frown creasing her forehead.

 

“The Circle of the Year, as well as the deities that have gifted us with magic to begin with.”

 

Hermione immediately snorted in disdain. “Deities? Are you for real?”

 

“Where do you think magic came from then? Thin air?” Draco replied, voice growing tense.

 

“Well, I imagined it was an offshoot of some kind of genetic condition,” Hermione blustered, not looking at either of the boys.

 

“Hermione, you’ve studied all of this, you can’t explain to me that there isn’t some ‘magic’ involved. Think of all the magic that needs to be done or cast around the phases of the moon.”

 

“It is well documented in the Muggle world that there is a connection between earth energies and the pull of the moon. Just because it’s not scientifically understood, doesn’t mean that its airy fairy magic.”

 

“Fairies exist, Hermione.” Harry returned, trying to drive the point home.

 

“I know they do, you know that’s not what I meant.”

 

“How else can you describe the affect that magic has, and the part that you can control with your wand.”

 

“What are you talking about?” Draco finally asked, watching them trade barbs.

 

“In many Muggle circles, it is an understood belief that there are no supreme or higher power beings in existence. Evolution is explained as the way that life started and has changed over the millions of years.”

 

“Really?” Draco said, mildly interested.

 

“I had always wondered where that mentality had come from. But if it’s a Muggleborn preconception, then I can see how it has occurred. Muggles have always had a harder time seeing evidence of other entities involved in this planet.”

Hermione just snorted. “Who’s to say that magic users just have a the mutated gene which allows them to control a pre-existing, if not widely known or understood exotic energy inherent in the planet since it was first began.”

“And who’s to say that there isn’t a higher energetic force that could be directing such things, as the creation of this planet and including the ‘exotic energy inherent in the planet’.” Draco returned, for once actually enjoying an intelligent argument. Intelligence was a gift given sparingly by the gods.

“Then why have we not had any evidence of their influence? We’ve been in this world for five years now. They’ve done nothing to help Harry out of the poor situation that Fate has put him in.”

“Why should it be them to help everyone?” Harry asked, beating Draco to the punch. “It’s the organised religions of the Muggles that insist on that kind of belief style. Anything bad is always blamed on a higher power because people aren’t willing to own their mistakes or take responsibility for what they see in the world. ‘God helps those who help themselves’, Hermione.”

“That’s surprisingly observant of you Potter,” Malfoy commented, needing to now reassess everything he had thought he had known about Harry Potter.

“Well, I’ve had some time to think things through. It’s actually Dobby who has been helping me the most.”

“Dobby? He’s alive?” Draco asked, for once showing a proper emotion on his face. Harry wasn’t sure what he should do when confronted by actual emotion from the blonde.

“Dobby.” Harry called with intention, and the Elf popped into the library with them.

“What can Dobby be doing for his Master Harry?”

“Dobby?”

Dobby’s head whipped around when he heard Draco. “Master Dragon?”

“Father said that you were dead.” Draco came around the desk to kneel before the elf.

“Master Harry freed me. Has Master Dragon been okay?” Dobby asked, still staying close to Harry but Harry could see that there was a tentative rapport between the two.

“It’s been fine, Dobby. I’m glad you had your Master Harry to keep you safe.”

“Yes, Master Harry has been very good to Dobby. He has even allowed Dobby to bond with the Potter Family properly.” Dobby beamed.

“I’m very happy for you, Dobby. You deserve a family that will take care of you as much as you would take care of them. Harry will be a very good master for you.”

Hermione snorted, but Dobby ignored it. Draco of course, couldn’t.

“What Granger?”

“Of course you would encourage Slavery in lower classed magical creatures.”

 

 

 

 

“And of course it is typical of you to offer an opinion on a subject you know nothing about, and a private conversation at that.” Draco tersely replied.

“Well excuse me for not being able to stand by and listen or watch SLAVERY when it is playing out in front of me.” Hermione yelled, grabbing her books together haphazardly.

“And I say again, it is typical for you to go off on a subject you know nothing about. Dobby was my father’s personal House Elf, a being that has looked after me as long as I have been alive. I know what kind of life he had lived previous to Potter freeing him, so it could be argued that you are correct. But House Elves need magic to support them. The ambient magic humans produce, keeps House elves alive. They need to use their own magics to ensure that the ambient magic continue to moves through them. If the flow of energy stops, then they will not be able to absorb the ambient magic. This is why they bind themselves to a magical family, something which was their idea. They wanted to bond with US. Witches and Wizards did not ‘oh so magnanimously’ deign to bond with the lesser beings, or whatever twisted idea you have in your head. It is a symbiotic relationship has stood the test of time. I have never even heard of a free elf, nor any elf wanting to be such. With your attitude, and the way that your House looks to you for guidance, you could be the instrument of Genocide!!”

Draco had stood to face the witch by the end of his tirade, breathing deeply to contain his emotion. Hermione had turned pale as was refusing to look at any of them.

“Master Harry has already explained to Miss Grangy, Master Dragon. Miss Grangy did not understand then, and she will not understand now.” Dobby said with a hand on Draco’s shirt.

Hermione’s eyes turned watery, but before the first tears had fallen, she had run out of the library.

“Well that was awkward,” Harry said, sitting back down at the table.

“Does she not believe us, unless it’s written in a book, or something,” Draco sighed, slumping back at the table as well.

“Something like that. Though it’s probably a morals thing as well.”

“Well her attitude and people thinking that way could see the House Elf population go extinct! Sorry Dobby.” Draco said at Dobby’s shudder.

“I suppose it’s the difference of having grown up in the Magical World versus the Muggle World. I wonder if that’s half the reason I take so long to grasp so much of the magical theory. The other guys in my house in our year level have all grown up in at least partially magical homes. So I don’t have much to compare it to.”

“No, actually, it stands to reason,” Draco mused. “The kids books I gave you were for a bit of a laugh, but you grasped things a lot faster since reading them.”

“It’s a wonder that there’s no kind of orienteering for Muggleborns, either. We were just thrown in the deep end.”

“There should be! I can’t understand why there isn’t. And if anything it is detrimental to our way of living, as well as to our existence.” Draco said thoughtfully, pulling out a small pocket book from his pants pocket and writing in it for a few minutes.

He knew that Harry was watching him, curiosity written all over his face. A part of Draco wanted to ignore that look and continued the conversation, or start a new one. But a greater part was interested in caving to that curiosity.

“I have a plan,” Draco finally said, still writing in the book.

“You don’t have to tell me, it’s your business.” Harry said awkwardly, quickly looking away and attempting to busy himself with his books.

“I know, Potter. I have a plan, for the future. Where I think the Magical World should go so as to preserve our magic, our culture. I know what you are thinking,” Draco eyed Harry a moment. “I have no intentions of joining Voldemort, nor in leading another such vigilante organising that deals in death and destruction for everything I disagree with. No, I have intentions of in going into politics and affecting change through proper channels.”

“I think that sounds like a very good idea.”

“I believe in Voldemort in principle, but not in practice. Before his use of Dark Magic turned him psycho, he had a very large following in the older pure blood families because he acknowledged that there were things that needed to be changed. Those families had access to Grimoires that explained how our world had once been, and how it had been the introduction of the Ministry of Magic and their laws, which have drastically changed our way of living enough that the affects of magic leaving us is beginning to be noticed.
“Whilst the problem is the Muggleborn’s and Half Blood’s, it has also been the new laws that dictate how they are brought into our world. It is Muggle prejudice, Muggle beliefs, and Muggle customs which are eroding our own customs and beliefs.”

“What do you suggest then?” Harry asked, curious. Perhaps had these laws never been in place, he never would have had to live with the Dursley’s for all these years.

“I’m not ready to say, just yet.”

“Will you tell me, when you’re ready?”

“When I’m ready, I’ll let you know, Potter.”

~*~

Part II – Samhain – Halloween

 

Halloween saw Ron finally apologising to Harry for his harsh words. Harry of course accepted it, the pain of losing his first friend finally allayed. It was hard work, being friends with Ron, but he felt a sense of loyalty to the red head, because of him being one of the first friends he had ever had. He found himself quite surprised the lengths he went to protect that friendship.

Hermione had taken a few days to apologise to Harry, Draco and Dobby. But when she did, Harry could tell that it was because she had done her research and was finally able to admit she had been wrong. The fact that she had also apologised to Dobby was the telling part, and he could see that Draco had approved that move.

 

Dobby had just been happy to stop cleaning the Gryffindor Common Room on his own, now that Hermione had stopped her S.P.E.W campaign. Something Hermione was horrified about, when she finally accepted it.

 

The day of Halloween meant that all classes for the day were cancelled, a tradition that Draco had told him had stretched back for thousands of years, being that it was the last day of the old calendar year the.

 

“They called it the Wheel of the Year,” Draco explained. “The year was divided up with 8 main holidays in the year. Halloween, Hallow’s Eve, or Samhain, was considered the end or death of the year. It’s quite often associated with Death, though not necessarily the physical death of something. It can be a symbolic death, or the death of an idea, or something. People used to use this time to give away unwanted aspects of their life to the Gods, in the hopes that the energy can be recycled for something they want to come into their lives in the future.”

 

“It’s amazing how much you know about this kind of thing,” Harry remarked,

 

“Well, it hasn’t all just been research. To some extent, Pureblood families still celebrate these times of year, though not to the extent that it used to be hundreds of years ago, seeing as it’s not really in favour to do so. So called ‘pagan’ practises are largely frowned upon now,” Draco said, and Harry could tell that he was annoyed at the fact.

 

“So do you plan to celebrate this Halloween in a more traditional sense?” Harry asked, only realising afterwards what a personal question it really was.

 

Draco smirked. “Yes, a few of us in Slytherin have been keeping up tradition during the school year.”

“That’s good then. Is there anything to read that you might recommend on the whole Wheel of the Year thing?”

“Sure, I’ll give you some books.”

~*~
“Severus, thank you for coming so soon. You are well?” Dumbledore asked form behind his desk.

Before him Severus was just settling into the chair in front of the desk, the Death Eater cloak and mask thrown carelessly on the another chair.

“I am well.” Severus sighed heavily. “It was a surprisingly gentle meeting, there were only two tortured for failure to make progress on their appointed tasks. Jenkins and Mulciber it seems were unable to provide the required files from their respective Ministry Departments.”

“That is very well then. And the Dark Lord’s plans?” Dumbledore prodded.

“He spent most of the night posturing and lecturing us by turns. He has yet to reveal any details. He is playing it extremely close to the chest. I believe even Lucius has not been taken into confidence.”

“That is very worrying then.” Dumbledore mused, sitting back in his chair to stroke his beard in thought.

“So far we have surmised that it is something to do with a Lughnasah ritual. Have you had any luck in finding what ritual it might be?”

“Lughnasah? No, we had agreed it would be Summer Solstice, I thought.” Dumbledore said in confusion.

“No, we had agreed it would be Lughnasah. You wrote it in your book,” Severus replied, his face and voice as bland as normal. In his mind, however, he was almost ready to pull his hair out.

Dumbledore produce a book from a spell locked secret drawer in the desk, he perused it for a couple of minutes, turning from page to page. “Forgive me, Severus, you are quite right.”

“And your research?”

 

“Has been on the wrong Sabbat. I will begin my research anew, as soon as you leave.” Dumbledore sighed.

“Then I will not detain you any longer.”

~*~

“Harry, Mate! We’re going to be late to class!” Ron said, tearing around the dormitory in a towel, barely noticing Harry standing at the door, completely dressed and his satchel over his shoulder, ready to go.

“It’s alright. We’ve got Herbology first up, Madame Sprout won’t mind if we’re still eating.” Harry sighed, casting a tempus and sighing again.

“Why didn’t you wake me?” Ron demanded, searching under the bed for shoes.

“I did, ya git.” Harry said, a smirk on his face.

“Then why didn’t I get up?” Ron moaned.

“Because you like sleeping too much!!”
“Truer words, Mate!!”

They only ended up being a few minutes late, and Madame Sprout only sent them a half-hearted glare.

“Today students, we will be discussing the merits of harvesting at different times of the year. Can anyone tell me why we might consider the time of year when planting or harvesting?”

“Because of the earth and magic energies inherent in the land.” Neville piped up when no one else said anything.

“Correct. And who can tell me what variables can have an impact on these energies?”

“The moon?” A girl from Ravenclaw suggested.

“Correct! Any others?”

When no one said anything else, Madame Sprout glanced at Neville. Neville however just sighed. “The nature of the spellwork, ritual or potion for which the plant will be used in. As well as the Sabbat we are in as a part of the Wheel of the Year.”

 

“Correct you are, Mr Longbottom. The Wheel of the Year is still heavily abided by in Herbology due to the amount of ritual’s and potions that use ingredients that need to be planted or harvested during a particular time. It has been researched and found conclusive that the timing in planting and in harvest does have an effect on the outcome. Regardless what the popular belief now is the Wheel of the Year is something that should be taken very seriously when doing anything related to Herbology.

 

~*~

 

“What a load of crock that was, hey mate?” Ron jeered as they left their morning Herbology class and made their way back to the castle proper for lunch. “I mean, who cares when you put bloody seeds in the ground! I’m glad I’m not going to do anything as ridiculous as be a ‘Herbologist’ after Hogwarts.”

 

Harry bit his tongue, knowing to say something now was just courting yet another argument with the hot headed red head.

 

“Now an Auror. That’s certainly a more manly job. And you know you’ll be fantastic at it! Especially after all you did with the D.A! We could be partners you know, when we reach the Academy! Wouldn’t that be great!”

 

Ron prattled on and Harry tried to zone him out. He wondered how he was going to break it to him that he didn’t want to join the Auror’s after Hogwarts. After he defeated Voldemort, because it seemed that was the thing that he was going to have to do, and provided he actually even survived the whole experience, he was not someone who was going to spend the rest of his professional life, which would in actual fact be a very large portion of his actual and very long life, chasing down yet more bad guys. He just did not see the appeal the way Ron did.

 

“We better not need anything as stupid as Herbology anyway. We wouldn’t have to do that kind of spell craft or ritual anyway. I’m sure they would have lower Ministry officials to get all of that stuff organised.”

 

“You know, knowing Herbology would have it uses, depending on the department you end up in. Suppose you are on a bust for illegal substances, and you come across a potions lab or a hot house. You don’t want to go ahead and arrest the guy over a potted Lavender plant.” Harry smirked, trying to lighten the mood.

 

“Heh, why do you think I’m turning up to Herbology now?” Ron sneered. “Besides, I think I’ll be able to tell the difference between a lavender bush and Devil’s Snare.”

 

Harry watched as Neville quickly walked on ahead of them, now feeling guilty for not having said something. Though he had to wonder why Ron was being so vocal about it as he was sure Ron knew that Neville aspired to be a Herbologist, and it was one of the classes that he was truly excelling at.

 

At dinner that night, the conversation continued with Ron ridiculing most classes except for Defence Against the Dark Arts.

 

“DADA is just something that I think everyone should be well versed in, especially with the War coming. You just don’t know when you might need that kind of knowledge, you know what I mean?” Ron said around a mouthful of food.

 

“It is very good knowledge to have,” Harry agreed, though he was loathe to do so. “But having some knowledge in the other subjects would always be handy.”

 

“Bah!! As if. Charms and Transfiguration! Sure! But Potions, or Herbology is for the people afraid of the front lines!”

 

“What?” Neville spoke up, his face lined in concern.

 

“What Nev?” Ron asked, having only listened to himself for the last half an hour.

 

“What did you just say about Herbology?”

 

“That it’s for people who don’t want to be on the front lines,” Ron said, his face showing his confusion.

 

“No, you said it was people who were AFRAID of the front lines. Are you implying that I’m too scared to fight by Harry and your side?”

 

“Nah, Nev. I didn’t mean you.” Ron tried to back track.

 

“No you said Herbologists, and Potions Masters. You know I want to be a Herbologist. So you’re saying that I’m too scared to be on the front lines. Well you know what, I’m not. Just because you don’t think it’s a useful subject to know, doesn’t mean that it’s not useful at all. And I have already fought at Harry and your side, if you don’t remember. I was there at the Ministry, so don’t you DARE call me a coward!”

 

Half the Great Hall was in shock at Neville’s words and the shear tone that were delivered in.

 

“You’re a rock star Nev,” Harry said, with a smile. “I can always count on you to have my back!”

 

Ron didn’t say anything, his face red with embarrassment and temper.

 

“Harry, are you going to start up the D.A. again? Because I think it would be a really good idea.” Ginny said, coyness catching Harry of guard.

 

“It’s actually not a bad idea,” Hermione said, looking up from her books. “I can always send out a meeting time, see how many of the original class turn up.”

 

“This year’s teacher is a bit of a joke, too,” Harry said looking up at the French man who was seated next to Professor Snape. Harry watched as the man tried to engage the Potion’s Master in conversation, only to be shot down again and again with a withering glare.

 

“Didn’t Dumbledore say that he was getting a man from America? This guy is obviously not him.” Ron piped up.

 

“Yeah, I remember that too. I wonder what happened to the American guy. Or how Professor Dumbledore managed to get this man on such short notice.”

 

“Do you think,” Harry trailed off, whispering, “That Dumbledore got his wires crossed again?”

 

Hermione looked at him a moment, assessing the information in her head. “It scares me that that is a possibility.”

 

~*~

 

“So that was quite the impassioned speech by Longbottom.” Draco commented, joining Harry and Hermione at their usual table in the library.

 

“Well, Ron had it coming, after the way he was talking today,” Hermione said crossly.

 

Draco looked to Harry when there was obviously no more forthcoming from Hermione.

 

“Ron took it upon himself to explain what were and weren’t useful subjects, and implied that Herbology and Potions were an essentially useless field of expertise for the coming war.”

 

“Does the Weasel know where his healing potions come from?” Draco snarled, slamming his own books open.

 

“I don’t imagine he did. He probably forgot such a mere detail as that.”

 

“Mere indeed.” Draco snorted. “How is it that you give him so many free passes? I’m sure I would have hexed the bastard a thousand times over if I was in your place.”

 

“Believe me, I have a vivid imagination that goes a long way towards that.” Harry admitted with a laugh. “But he was my first proper friend, both in the Muggle world as well as the Magical world. I suppose I’ll always be grateful to him for that.”

 

“You didn’t have a pleasant upbringing, did you,” Draco asked softly, noticing when Hermione looked at him assessing, but he did not acknowledge it.

 

“Not really,” Harry said uncomfortably, looking away.

 

“You may not believe me, but I do have some idea of what that is like, I’ll be the first to say that my childhood was not all Quidditch and chocolate.” Draco said, opening up his satchel for parchment and quill.

 

“No, I don’t imagine it would have been.” Harry admitted, taking a deep breath.

 

“So you don’t have to keep it to yourself if you don’t want to. I’m sure Granger has lent a sympathetic ear in the past, but if you want someone who understands, let me know. I can’t say I’ll listen to you bleed your heart out, but the thought is there.” Draco said with a smirk.

 

Harry gave half a laugh too, feeling a little more ice break between them. Hermione of course looked at Draco in horror.

 

“I’ll be sure to cry on your shoulder and mess up your pretty robes.” Harry snarked back.

 

“Please, like I’d even let you near my person.”

 

Harry smiled at that, feeling lighter. He was coming to understand the kind of person that Draco was, underneath the Death Eater in training, and he was finding himself liking the blonde ferret.

 

“So, I’m still surprised that Longbottom had the balls to come out and say that to Ron’s face.” Draco observed.

 

“Why else would he be in Gryffindor?” Harry replied with a grin. “He was amazing in the Ministry. Handled himself really well.”

 

“Even in some private classes, he’s been picking up thinks really well,” Hermione added, feeling quite proud of her Housemate.

 

“This school has needed a lot of private classes, recently.” Draco sneered. “I swear I’ve had to tutor the majority of younger years the last few years running, just to make sure they had passing grades.”

 

“I’m sure it’s only been Hermione’s sheer force of will that has allowed Ron and I to pass,” Harry said with a grin to Hermione, who blushed.

 

“Defence is ridiculous this year. Just like last year.” Draco moaned. “That toad of a woman was a nightmare. Father and I had quite the argument about that, I can assure you.”

 

“Why did you join her little brigade?” Hermione asked, tone as neutral as possible.

 

“Yes well, like I said, it was quite the argument with my Father. He seemed to think siding with her would stand us in good stead for some reason. I’m not entirely sure he realised just what kind of witch that woman was. I have no idea what kind of political manoeuvre that was, except a bad one.”

 

“You were against siding with her?” Harry asked, his face full of confusion. “But you seemed so zealous under her leadership.”

 

“If you haven’t noticed, I have been brought up by one of the Wizarding World’s greatest actors. I can act in such a way just as well as my father. And at that point, my father had control over me and my decisions. That is no longer the case and he knows it.”

 

“Do you have any intention of becoming a Death Eater,” Hermione cut to the chase boldly.

 

“Not in Voldemort’s wildest dreams.” Draco growled. “I was raised to think and act a certain way, that I was a station above everyone else in this realm. The idea then, that I would grovel before a madman is quite laughable. I had thought of a partnership for a short time, but I then realised that he was just plain barmy and is likely to kill all of his followers in a fit of pique, than actually achieve any of the goals he initially set out to achieve.”

 

“You agree with Voldemort?” Hermione demanded, her face turning to one of anger.

 

“In theory, but not in practice. We’ve discussed many of his political views already, Granger. Several of which you have agreed with. But it’s the nutter’s method which myself, and I imagine many of the Pureblood family’s, have a problem with now. He never was this crazy, and his ideas were met with great acclaim when he first went public. But he has delusions which his Muggle upbringing have tainted him with, had he grown up in the Magical Realm, I’m sure he never would have pursued the path he has chosen.”

 

“What do you mean, I’ve agreed with him. I’d never agree with the Dark Lord.” Hermione said hotly, definitely in defence mode.

 

“Our discussions on the Wheel of the Year, as well as Wizarding genetics were some of the first things Voldemort brought to light about the Magical World and the negative impact the Ministry of Magic has had on the Magical Realm here in the United Kingdom.”

 

“It seems preposterous that I could ever agree with anything that Voldemort advocated.” Harry mused, “But it would be ignorant to refute something when there is evidence to support it. Thank you for giving me that article by the way. It was interesting to get an understanding on magical workings in other parts of the world.”

“What article,” Hermione demanded, interest piqued.

 

“An article on Germany’s magical community after they have reverted back to an old system of magic and government. It happened about ten years ago now, after everything with the Grindelwald war was finally laid to rest. But since they have reverted to the old magics, there has been a resurgence in magical children being born both to magical and Muggle families, and a resurgence in the flow of magic readily available as well.”

 

“That does sound quite interesting.” Hermione said. “May I read it?”

 

Once Hermione was absorbed in her reading, Draco turned back to Harry again.

 

“In all seriousness, Potter, you’ve been acting entirely too polite and calm since coming back to school. I have some idea of what has been going on with you lately. It’s not healthy to let it bottle up. You need to accept the anger and fear and hurt, accept that you feel it, accept that you are allowed to feel those emotions and allow yourself to heal from those wounds. If you don’t, you’re liable to end up a miserable person, and I can’t guarantee that you will make it out of this war alive, let alone sane.”

 

Harry took a moment to think about what the Blonde had said. It was in fact the reason that he had turned to Dobby as a friend when his school friends were beyond reach. He hated to think where he might be had Dobby not been there for him. He hated that he could not spend more time with the House Elf during the school term, but they were both too busy with their own work.

 

What Draco said was something that Harry had already been thinking. He hated feeling like he was at the mercy of his emotions, and was the main reason that he stuffed them down deep inside as a method of controlling them. But Draco was right that he was in fact bottling those emotions, and the bottle was liable to break at the least provocation. Though his saving grace this year was that Draco was working with him this time, instead of against him.

 

But it still left the question, that he didn’t know how to handle these emotions. Feeling them usually hurt so much, which is why of course he had ignored them to begin with. He dreaded dragging them out again, let alone in front of someone else.

 

“Harry?”

 

“That’s the first time you’ve called me by name,” Harry replied, a small smile on his face.

 

“It is, yes. Nice distraction by the way.” Draco replied with a smirk.

 

“You’re not going to let me get away with it either, are you?” Harry said, smile growing thought he still felt confused. “Why are you caring about it now?”

 

“Why do you feel you’re not worthy of someone caring about you?”

 

“Since when did you become a therapist?”

 

“How long are you going to avoid the question?”

 

Harry stopped, realising that he was getting nowhere fast. Apart from angry. That was coming along just fine, right now. Harry tried to take a deep breath, trying not to lash out at the blonde, as intellectually he realised that Malfoy was trying to help him, but all he could feel was a deep seated rage that wanted to be let out.

 

“On a scale of one to ten, just how angry are you right now,” Draco said with a smirk.

 

“Oh, around eighteen.” Harry replied, trying not to sound like he was clenching his teeth.

 

“That’s what I thought.” Draco said, packing up his books. “Come on, let’s go for a walk.”

 

Sighing, Harry picked up his own books quickly and shoved them none too gently into his own bag.

 

“Where are you going?” Hermione asked, watching the two of them finish collecting their gear.

 

“Going to deal with some anger management issues. I promise I won’t break him,” Draco said before Harry could say anything.

 

Harry was glad he did, as he wasn’t entirely sure that what came out of his mouth right now would be considered appropriate in polite company, and Hermione is someone that he really didn’t want to attack right now.

 

Before Hermione could say any more, Draco was leading Harry out of the Library and quickly into a hidden corridor Harry had never seen before.

 

“It’s nothing personal, but I would prefer, for the time being, not being seen with you in public. I can imagine exactly what should happen should someone from my House see us together and report back to the House, or better yet, my Father.”

 

“No, I get that.” Harry said, having wondered the same thing himself during their sessions in the Library. So Harry asked.

 

“You’ve never noticed the wards that I’ve cast each and every time I’ve met with you and Granger?” Draco asked, surprised. “We really need to work on your magic sensitivity. You’ll need it if you want to work with Wards in the future.

 

“How do you know I want to work with Wards?” Harry asked trying to think back to anytime it might have come up in conversation.

 

“I don’t think I’ve seen anyone who has been quite so interested in playing catch up in several subjects this late in their Hogwarts career on the whim of casual research.” Draco advised, smirking.

 

“Yeah, I guess I have been uniquely motivated. Working with the Auror’s is just not where I see myself in ten years time.”

 

“Oh, and where do you see yourself then?”

 

“I guess I don’t know.” Harry replied, saddened at the thought.

 

“Then you had best start painting a picture so you have something to work towards, something to fight for.”

 

“Is that why you have your grand plans?”

 

“Yes and no.” Draco said, finally leading them to the room of requirement. After walking past the room three times, they entered what looked like a firing range on one side of the room, and an obstacle course on the other. “I have ideas of where I think the Wizarding Realm should be, but my personal plans don’t necessarily require those ideas to be in place.”

 

Harry accepted that for all the answer that he would be getting. He knew that they weren’t quite as close or as trusting of each other to be revealing those kinds of more intimate details.

 

“So, Rage issues. They’re certainly some of the more destructive of emotions that we have the joy and pleasure of experiencing. How about you go ahead and make some fireworks, release some of that rage.” Draco said, motioning to the targets. With a flick of the Blonde’s wand, the targets started to slowly move around the room.

 

Harry just watched for a moment in confusion. “What do you want me to do? How is this supposed to help with my rage issues?”

 

“I take it you’ve never indulged in senseless destruction before then,” Draco sighed, shaking his head. “Imagine the targets are Voldemort’s head, or Minister Fudge, even Ron, especially after all his comments today. Then point and shoot,” Draco said, as with a flick of his wand, a spell shot out and destroyed one of the targets. A new target swung in closer to replace it, and Harry watched as it taunted him, floating just in front of him.

 

With a small amount of regret, Harry fired of a stunner that had the target spinning off into the back of the room. Immediately another target swung into the other’s place.

 

Harry cast again, this time a hex that had it cracking down the middle and vanishing, yet another target coming over in its place.

 

For the next hour and a half, Harry steadily blasted his way through hundreds of targets, growing more forceful and more powerful in his attacks. He barely noticed that he had broken into a sweat and that he was breathing hard, that he was attacking the targets with a single minded focus that excluded everything else in the room. Even Draco.

 

But then the last target was destroyed under a powerful reductor curse, and Harry was left bereft.

 

“How do you feel?”

 

“Pumped, but calmer,” Harry finally said, a grin on his face, “and bloody exhausted.”

 

~*~

 

“I hope you don’t take what Ronald Weasley said to heart.”
Neville turned around, his hands buried in soil as he busily re-potted a sage plant to a larger pot. Luna stood next to him, her hands rubbing one of the sage leaves between her fingers.

 

“It’s hard not to,” Neville admitted with a sigh.

 

“But you know that it’s not true. You are as much a warrior as Harry is, and capable of just as much.”

 

“I hardly think so. That prophecy wasn’t about me. Harry is a lot more talented.”

 

“Only in subjects you think are more worthwhile. Why do you think Herbology isn’t worthwhile?”

 

“Because it isn’t,” Neville said angrily, throwing the spade in his hands on the ground. “Ron was right! What use is a Herbologist in a war?!”

 

“From where will the doctors and nurses get their healing supplies from to treat the injured? Where will the Potions Master go for his ingredients for his potions to heal or to attack? They may grow on trees and bushes, but who knows how they must be picked or treated? You have use Neville. Never think that you don’t. And if you truly want to be on the front line, then don’t let being a Herbologist stop you. Find how you can use the tools that fate has given you, and learn how to fight.”

 

Neville took a deep breath, finally looking at Luna beside him. She was certainly the last person that he had expected a pep talk from.

 

“You’re right.” Neville said, taking a seat at one of the tables.

 

“I’ve seen it, you know. The battles that will come. The future that we need to create. Do you want to help create the new world?”

 

“If you think I can help you,” Neville said, wondering how on earth he could help.

 

“I didn’t ask if I thought you could help. I asked if you WANT to help.” Luna reiterated, her tone forceful for the first time that Neville had ever heard her.

 

“Umm… Yeah. Yes, I want to help.”

 

~*~

 

“Where were you? You missed Defence Class!” Hermione chided, striding alongside Harry towards their last class of the day, Transfiguration.

 

“Did I miss anything important?”

 

“That’s not the point,” Hermione said angrily. “Missing classes is irresponsible.”

 

“Leave off it, Hermione! Leave the bloke alone.” Ron said, his tone patronising.

 

Hermione huffed angrily, glaring at the both of them before entering the classroom.

 

Harry and Ron took the desk behind her, quietly getting ready for the class.

 

“Where were you mate?” Ron asked in a whisper. “You weren’t at lunch either.”

 

“Just blowing off some steam.” Harry said tersely, not wanting to get into it with Ron.

 

“Some steam, eh? What was her name?” Ron jeered.

 

“What? NO! It wasn’t some girl. I was in the Room of Requirement blasting targets if you must know.” Harry growled.

 

“No ready to get tetchy, mate,” Ron said defensively, but his tone just irritated Harry even more, because Harry could tell Ron was not sorry for the question.

 

Harry watched as Draco came into the class surrounded by Pansy, Crabbe and Goyle. The four of them sat on the other side of the room, as far away from the Gryffindors as possible.

 

Harry caught Draco glaring at him and realised that he had been stareing in their direction to long. He was saved further embarrassment when Professor McGonagall stepped back into class.

 

Harry tried to keep his temper down throughout class, but Ron had, in one sentence, undone all of Draco’s work in calming him down. He was sure he would have been able to cope with a stupid offhand comment like that before, but right now he found his patience sorely thinned.

 

It meant that his transfigurations for the class came out subpar, which of course only irritated him all the more. He was all too glad when they were finally dismissed so that he might escape again.

 

~*~

 

Draco found him back in the Room of Requirement only half an hour after they had been released from classes. Having watched as Harry’s temper had seemed to rise as the class ticked on, so he wasn’t surprised to find the Boy Who Lived back here again.

 

It took another three quarters of an hour to exhaust Harry again, time which Draco had spent alternatively watching Harry work, and reading up on his homework. But eventually Harry tired, and he slumped on the couch that the room had conjured when Draco wanted to sit down.

 

“So it didn’t take long for that anger to come back then.” Draco commented, not looking up from his book.

 

“I had more patience before I started this,” Harry harrumphed.

 

“No, you had a higher tolerance to bullshit, something which you don’t necessarily require, especially seeing as you have no intention of going into politics.”

 

“That’s true, I suppose.”

 

“So what brought the anger back this time?”

 

“Both Ron and Hermione were at me for skipping class, but for opposite reasons of course.” Harry huffed out a laugh, though it wasn’t necessarily funny.

 

“I suppose Granger thought it sacrilege for you to skip a class?” Draco assumed, a smirk on his face yet again.

 

“And Ron thought I was meeting with a girl.”

 

“I’m not sure if I should be horrified or flattered by that,” Draco admitted, giving himself a shake.

 

“I’m not sure either,” Harry smirked, head rolling along the head rest of the lounge to look at Draco. “So how do I not respond and get angry at petty shit like that?”

 

“Ask yourself why you are getting angry over it. Is it what they are saying or implying, or is it that they are questioning something about you? Once you know why it is you are angry, you can work out and shore up your defences against it.”

 

“That sounds like it’s easier said than done,” Harry sighed, wriggling around on the lounge to find a more comfortable spot.

 

“It takes practice.” Draco admitted, closing the book that he had been reading.

 

“I don’t think I ever realised how much I’d been repressing all this anger.”
“We usually don’t, not until it’s too late and you accidentally take it out on the wrong person.”

 

“Yeah, I worked really hard not to take it out on Hermione, but she just kept pushing.”

 

“That girl would try the patience of anyone.” Draco snorted.

 

“She does,” Harry agreed. “I never thought I would be this comfortable around you.”
They were both silent for several minutes, long enough that Harry started the self recriminations that he should have kept silent. He wasn’t sure what made him say it.

 

“I find myself in a similar predicament,” Draco finally said.

 

“Why have we been fighting all these years?” Harry asked plainly.

 

“Many reasons and issues on both our parts, I think.” Draco replied evasively.

 

“I guess,” Harry gave a frustrated little huff, sitting back up again.

 

“Look, Potter-,” Draco began.

 

“No, you don’t have to explain anything to me if you don’t want to.” Harry said quickly, gathering up is robes and his satchel from where he had dumped them.

 

“Potter… Harry,” Draco said, an earnestness coming to his voice. “Look, I’m sorry alright, for everything over the years. I had my part to play under my father’s orders. Sometimes, well – most times, it was a convenient outlet or target. So I’m sorry.”

 

“I understand that, Draco. You don’t need to apologise. If anything, I’m sorry for the way I dismissed your offer of friendship back in first year. I was so scared of losing my first friend, and I acted rashly.”

 

“If I don’t need to apologise, then you certainly don’t need to either, Harry. We both had our parts to play.” Draco said softly, still sitting on the edge of the lounge.

 

Harry dropped his bag and cloak back where they were and slumped into a seat next to Draco again.

 

They both sat in silence, each of them thinking over the last five years that had almost had them at each other’s throat.

 

“Can I ask why things changed this year?” Harry asked softly. “It’s fine if you don’t, I guess I’m still confused why we are suddenly friends.”

“Summer was tough,” Draco admitted. “Father was incarcerated, for which I thank you and your other Gryffindors. It means that this year I have half a chance to put my own plans in motion. My birthday was also during the holidays, so I’m legally old enough to speak for myself. It means that I’ve been able to start being my own person, instead of what my Father has taught and expected me to be.”

“I’m glad for you,” Harry said, honestly having no idea what it must have been like to grow up in such an environment where the expectations were so high.

 

“It has also been impressed upon me what is expected of me in the months to come. As you no doubt already know, I have no wish to follow that path, and have needed to start paving my own. It sounds selfish, but this is one of those things that I hope will lead me to being a better person, the person that I want to be.”

 

“I don’t necessarily think it’s selfish,” Harry admitted.

 

“I’m supposed to be Marked this Christmas,” Draco sighed heavily, like a weight was settled on his shoulders.

 

“What do you plan to do about it?”

 

“Avoid it at all costs.” Draco snorted, making Harry laugh. “I’m not sure how I will avoid it just yet, especially with the political games that my Father will attempt to play from Azkaban. Mother, no doubt, will be pressured to host a Function at Malfoy Manor to ensure my return home.”

 

“You could always come home with me?” Harry suggested. “I’ve not decided where I’ll go, now that I have inherited and all that. But I don’t think that they would think to look for you with me. Could you send your regrets early, perhaps cut it off before your Mother has to offer the invitation?”

 

Draco thought for a moment, knowing that it would, in the end, be nowhere near that simple. To spend Christmas with Harry would almost certainly be declaring himself against Voldemort, regardless if it was common knowledge just who he spent the holidays with. His not going home would be seen as an abandonment of the cause. He wasn’t sure if it was such a wise course of action to do, knowing of the possibility that his Father could be released from Azkaban at any time, and would therefore be available to ritually cast him from the Malfoy Family.

 

He loved his Family and its history dearly, and it was not something that he wanted to be separated from.

 

He had to trust that that would not be the case, and for that to happen, he needed to start on his plans much earlier than he might have wished. The political arena would be hard enough in the next five years, but without his Name behind him, and the possibility of Voldemort making a move against the Magical Realm well before that, he now realised that his plans had to start soon.

 

“You won’t have the Weasel and Granger with you? Surely they would both be eager to embark on this little quest of yours.” Draco sneered.

 

“I didn’t actually have any intention in inviting Ron with me these holidays. He wouldn’t be able to give me the time and space to look around that I think I need. His temperament leads to lazing around and doing nothing, or playing Quidditch.”

 

“Funnily enough, that doesn’t surprise me. You think that I would be conducive to these tasks, though?”

 

“I do actually.”

 

“And Hermione?”

 

“I’m not sure yet. I hadn’t actually decided just yet. She doesn’t get much of a chance to contact her parents through the school year. And I’m not too sure what she plans to do during the holidays anyway. She may be interested in her research that we’ve been doing lately. I think by that stage, if we’ve not hit some kind of breakthrough, then I’m going to need a break from all of that instead.”

 

“Yeah, I must admit, that I had thought myself a bit of a power-researcher. Now I know just how it is that she beats my scores every year.” Draco replied, chagrined.

 

“So, did you want to join me?”

 

“Yeah, I think I might, Thanks.”

 

 

 

TBC

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EAD’16 – Lost in the Wild – Teen Wolf

Title: Lost in the Wild

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Teen Wolf

Word Count: ~2900

Primary Pairings/Characters: Derek Hale/Stiles Stilinski

Rating: PG-13, it may change later on.

Content/Warnings:  Canon level violence, thoughts of being stranded

Summary: Derek’s gone missing. Isaac and Stiles seems to be the only ones worried about that.

Beta: None. Causal spell check. No bitching.

~*~

 

Lost in the Wild

Derek took a deep breath as he focused his mind like he had gleaned from Peter. He focused on the image of the wolf in his mind and pushed that image into reality. He imagined the feel of four paws on the forest floor, the breeze rushing through his fur. He pushed that image into the connection in his mind where he kept his wolf characteristics and instincts at bay, letting them free than he had ever done before.

He felt himself shift to his beta form, knew his eyes would gleam red if they were open. He pushed harder at the image and then harder still until he finally felt the change he had been looking for. He grimaced at the feel of bone, muscle and organs shifting in a queasy way but he didn’t waver from his focus. He remained intent on the image in his mind until it consumed his consciousness.

It took him a few minutes to realise the transformation was complete. He almost regretted having done this in the middle of the Beacon Hills preserve as he wouldn’t have minded having a mirror right now. From what he could see, he wore a thick dark brown pelt so far without any markings. He was taller and bigger built than the average wolf. It annoyed him that he wasn’t any bigger than Peter’s form had been, though he was glad to see for the most part that his from was that of an actual wolf and not the monster that his uncle had become. He refused to think of his mother’s form.

The feel of his tail behind him and the way he could move his ears took some getting used to, but before long he was as steady on four paws as he was on two feet and he was bolting through the forest.

For once in a very long time he was joyful and carefree.

~*~

“I don’t get it, it’s been days since I saw him,” Isaac whispered with a frown.

“So what?” Scott said through his mouthful of lunch.

“There’s no fresh scent of him anywhere. Not out at the house, not at the depo, and his car hasn’t moved from outside his apartment in days. “

“Wait wait, Derek has an apartment?” Stiles demanded. “If he has an apartment then why the hell have we been meeting at the depo for all this time? That last tetanus injection burned like a motherfucker.”

“Well you were never invited to the pack meetings. If you were so worried then you shouldn’t have come,’ Isaac sniffed angrily, refusing to even look in Stiles’ direction.

“And let you lot run around aimlessly as the Alpha Pack picked us off one by one? Thanks, but no thanks. One torture session a lifetime is enough for me thank you.” Stiles snorted.

It was the ensuing silence that clued him into the fact that he hadn’t necessarily been listening to what he had been saying. The whole table was quiet as they looked at him in various expressions of shock and horror.

“Excuse me,” Stiles said softly, abandoning his half eaten lunch to quickly escape the cafeteria.

He walked quickly to his next class and took a seat near the back, before promptly banging his head on the table. He groaned in both pain and mortification as he played back what he had said. He was an idiot for letting it slip and he knew he would be facing an interrogation as soon as Scott of Lydia got him alone. He wasn’t sure who would get to him first. He wasn’t sure who he even wanted to get to him first. It was going to be painful either way.

Though he’s surprised Erica and Boyd never said anything after they had been released. He would have assumed Isaac would’ve known, but judging by his expression a few minutes prior, it would seem that wasn’t the case.

Stiles sat in silence in the empty classroom, head still resting on the desk. His mind raced as he spun scenario upon scenario of what was awaiting him until the reason Isaac had approached them came flashing back.

Derek had been missing for a few days.

He didn’t necessarily think it was cause for suspicion as going by Derek’s personality, he was introverted to a fault. He took taciturn to new and unprecedented levels. That the Sour Wolf hand wanted a few days’ space after the nightmare that had been the last year, could be completely understandable. Logical even.

So why did his mind rebel against the conclusion?

He was saved further contemplation by the arrival of the teacher, closely followed by the bell signalling the end of lunch.

He forgot he only had Lydia this period as she determinedly strode into the classroom and all but slammed her books on the table beside him.

It was going to be a long day.

~*~

The following Friday saw Stiles and Scott make their way to the train depot at the normal time.

For months they had met at the same time every week to update and discuss the Alpha Pack that had invaded their territory. By this stage it was habit and it hadn’t been called off yet, so Stiles easily convinced Scott it was still a good idea to keep going.

‘Forewarned was Forearmed’ was Stiles new motto concerning anything Supernatural.

Inside, Isaac was curled up by himself on one of the decrepit lounge suites, whilst Jackson and Lydia were perched on another. Lydia was focused on her phone whilst Jackson could almost be mistaken for being asleep. Stiles knew better though.

The room still felt wrong without Erica and Boyd’s presence, something Stiles was sure the werewolves felt more keenly.

Stiles and Scott took another lounge, their same spots as normal. A few minutes later, Allison arrived and took her seat on a random dining chair next to Scott. No body moved or said anything.

Five minutes later there was still not a sound, and it was getting to Stiles.

“So where is our fearless Alpha?”

Nobody said anything but Isaac seemed to curl into himself even tighter.

“Anyone?” Stiles prodded to no avail.

“Has anyone seen him lately?” Isaac asked in a whisper which the humans in the room could barely hear.

“Nope,” Lydia said distractedly, still focused on her phone. The others all shook their heads.

“Hands up anyone who finds that pretty strange?” Stiles raised his hand. Isaac joined him

“Hands up anyone who doesn’t give a shit,” Jackson snarled, not even bothering to open his eyes.

There was silence in the room but for Isaac’s whimper. Stiles just sighed heavily.

It shouldn’t have surprised him that they weren’t more concerned. It was only by a wind and a prayer that they had managed to dispatch the Alpha Pack. There was no bonding experience, no working as a Team. Just grudging alliances and more backstabbing. At least it hadn’t necessarily been just Scott this time. He had forgiven his best friend but he certainly hadn’t forgotten.

So now that Derek was actually missing, no one overly cared. Stiles felt guilty as his first thought that perhaps things might finally settle down on the supernatural front.

“Well, if he’s not going to come, maybe we should get going,” Scott said to Stiles quietly. Of course they were in a room with werewolves, so the volume of one’s voice was a moot point.

It was all the break needed in the room as after that everyone was noisily getting up and leaving with barely a word said between the different groups.

“So this was a waste of time.” Scott added as he waited for Stiles to move.

“You’re not the tinniest bit worried about Derek?” Stiles prodded, loathe to leave the depo.

“He’s strong enough to take care of himself. And he’s always going on about how he regrets biting teenagers. Maybe he just wanted time to himself,” Scott reasoned.

“For over a week without going to any of his normal haunts, without a word to anyone, leaving his car, wallet and mobile behind. Not even a new or recent scent of him that your wolfy noses can pick up?”

“Ok, so it sounds a little strange when you put it that way,” Scott admitted as they climbed into the jeep.

“Right. Now that we agree he’s missing, where do you think he’s gone? Or do you think anything has happened to him? You don’t think he’s been captured by hunters or another Alpha from the Alpha Pack that we didn’t know about? He’s been captured again and is probably being tortured as we speak.” Stiles mind ran with possibilities, visions of the Alpha strung up and the electric current turned on, Kate Argent Style.

“Calm down Stiles. He’s not been captured. There’s not been any evidence of that.”

“But we can’t rule it out. Lack of evidence doesn’t mean that it’s not a possibility.”

“Okay, it’s highly doubtful, but not ruled out.” Scott allowed with a sigh, well used to Stiles after all their years as friends.

“So why would he leave then, and especially leaving everything he would need for the human world behind, unless he meant to leave the real world behind. That’s it. The emotional baggage has grown so much that he’s had a mental breakdown and is lost somewhere. Do you think he’s gone full amnesiac or is he just hiding somewhere?”

“If he’s broken down, then he just needs the time to get things back together again. And that’s what we should do. Give him some time to get himself back together.” Scott said resolutely, leaving Stiles to bite his tongue.

~*~

One week later and there was still no sign of Derek. Isaac was even more depressed, Jackson, Lydia and Allison were still uncaring and decided to go and get pizza together. Scott shrugged his shoulders and made his way out of the depo.

“You coming Stiles?” Scott’s brow furrowed in confusion when the human didn’t follow him.

“I’m going to stick with Isaac a bit.”

Scott just shrugged again and left.

“So this is pretty awkward.” Stiles started, hoping to draw Isaac out.it wasn’t successful. “So looks like we’re the only ones worried.”

“He wouldn’t just leave without saying something.” Isaac affirmed, it sounded well-rehearsed.

“No, I think he would. He takes being an Alpha more seriously than that.” Stiles reassured.

“You don’t think something bad has happened, do you?” Isaac asked, seeming to curl into himself even more.

“I’m pretty sure you guys would feel it if he’d been killed or something,” Stiles grimaced when Isaac started whining. “Your wolfy pack bonds would tell you that kind of thing.”

Isaac just nodded, the whimpers stopping.

“Then we just need to retrace where he had been. Maybe check out the Reserve a bit deeper. He grew up in them so he’s bound to know them better than any of us.”

Isaac nodded again, pulling himself together. All at once he looked determined again instead of broken.

“So let’s go back over his usual haunts around town once more, and tomorrow we’ll go to the Reserve for the day.”

That night Stiles dove around town whilst Isaac very embarrassingly had his head stuck out the window. they didn’t catch Derek’s scent anywhere. but they also didn’t find any evidence of new hunters either, so Stiles counted that as a positive.

They parted ways just after midnight and stiles slunk home glad for once his dad was on a night shift. he crawled into bed and slept for what only felt like five minutes when he was prodded awake by Isaac looking earnest and determined.

An hour later, having gathered supplies and breakfast Stiles drove them to the Reserve and parked at the start of the hiker’s trails. the car had barely stopped when Isaac was already Climbing out the passenger side and hiking his back pack over his shoulder.

Stiles took a moment longer to yawn widely and glare into the dawn light before getting out and hitching his own bag over a shoulder. Isaac was already at the entrance to the first trail so he quickly jogged to catch up.

The first few hours were spent following the trail deeper into the forest before they agreed to leave it behind. If Derek wanted to be alone or if he had been captured, it wasn’t like they would remain on the well-worn track.

Progress slowed considerably as Stiles struggled to make his way through the uneven forest floor and soon enough he had lost sight of Isaac altogether. He wasn’t overly worried as he knew Isaac’s hearing would still find him should he need it. So Stiles trudged on until another few hours had passed, with no idea what he could be looking for.

It was getting into late afternoon when he realised at some point Isaac had gone out of ear shot. He had tried calling to the other werewolf but there was no answer. He tried calling him on his cell, but there wasn’t enough signal this deep in the Preserve. He shot off a text anyway and began to make his way back in hopefully the right direction. A little while later he received a text back saying the werewolf was following a potential scent trail.

Stiles contemplated a moment remaining in the Preserve but quickly vetoed it. He was exhausted from the all day hike already and whilst the sun wouldn’t be setting for another few hours, he would probably better spent that time hiking back to Betty and his bed.

The compass that he had packed seemed to be defective as the needle remained northeast no matter which way he faced. He only wished he had discovered this earlier as now there was a distinct possibility that he was lost.

He grumbled loudly as he roughly shoved it back in his bag and got his last water bottle out. He sat on a nearby trunk to drink, taking a five-minute break to work out what to do next. He could vaguely make out the direction of the sun, so from that he decided on a direction and promptly face planted on his first step.

The yell he let out surprised even him, but then the pain started, radiating from his ankle and up his leg. He rolled over to look at the damage and almost wished he hadn’t as it was rapidly swelling. He swore loudly and colourfully when he tried to put some weight on it, but it couldn’t support him.

Sighing in defeat he pulled his phone out, but it looked like he had hit it somehow, going by the crack in the screen and that it was refusing to turn on. Stiles barely refrained from throwing it in his anger. He didn’t want to add litterbug to his list of humiliations for the day, or whenever it was he was eventually found.

Over the next ten minutes the swelling increased to the point he had to loosen the shoe some. He didn’t dare take it off, knowing he would never get it back on. If he was going to have any hope of leaving the Preserve, he was going to need both shoes on. Though by this point he was really wishing for a werewolf to be nearby purely for the sheer pain management. Any time he shifted or seemed to move sparked off another wave of pain that brought tears to his eyes.

Stiles swore again as the frustration mounted and he realised how futile his options were. he would have continued his ranting monologue if he didn’t hear the snap of a twig not too far away. The silence that followed was deafening as now there weren’t even the normal sounds of the forest. Only the wind rustling through the trees.

Stiles inwardly cursed, it was typically his luck that he would be killed by a bear or a stupid mountain lion. But when he looked around himself it was to find the biggest black wolf he had ever seen, still partially hidden amongst the bushes.

He spent at least half a minute freaking out that he was about to become the wolf’s dinner that night when he remembered that there were no wolves in this part of California, only werewolves.

“Derek?” Stiles stuttered, looking the massive over, looking for any hint it was him.

The wolf stared at him for another minute as Stiles grew more and more worried. But then the wolf’s eyes flashed a familiar Red and he started walking forward.

“You scared the crap out of me, Sourwolf.” Stiles groused, relaxing back again on the ground. “Did you know your pups have been worried about you? Isaac is out there somewhere trying to find you right now. How could you leave them?”

The wolf huffed, looking away.

“So you’ve been off wolfing around the Preserve all this time, huh?”

The wolf merely sat down in front of him.

“Congratulations, by the way. I wondered if you could do the full transformation or not. And let me tell you, you look much more awesome than Uncle Creeper Wolf ever did.”

The wolf’s tail wagged once through the dirt and leaf strewn forest floor. Stiles snorted at the aborted display of canine happiness. “Yeah, you’re real badass!”

TBC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Teen Wolf | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

EAD’16 – SciFi Writer – SGA

Title: SciFi Writer (temp file name)

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate: SG1

Word Count: ~4600

Primary Pairings/Characters: John Sheppard/Rodney McKay

Rating: PG-13

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

Summary: After a helicopter crash ends John Sheppard’s Air Force career, he decides to take up writing as a way to pass the time between surgeries. His favourite writing cafe just so happens to cater to the local base, Cheyenne Mountain.

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

~*~

A medical discharge was definitely not what he had expected in his ten-year plan, but when the official papers were in his hand and he was sent on his way. John wasn’t sure what to do with himself.

For the first month after the incident, he was stuck in Colorado at the mystery base Cheyenne Mountain receiving medical care until he was finally transferred to a general hospital and then after that, finally discharged.

Being that he was still stuck on crutches, and would be for at least the next six months until all the surgeries were done and healed up, he was stuck in military housing with nothing to do.

Which is of course when the idea struck him. The complimentary PC in the house he supposed would be adequate, but the only thing he ended up using it for was to go on the internet and buy a new laptop. And a new phone, he supposed, now that he wasn’t stationed in Antarctica or Afghanistan.

The packages arrived the next day after which he happily spent hours customising both.

The next day he officially started writing.

Or attempting to anyway.

To begin with, it started off with a lot of staring at the screen as he contemplated what he was going to write about. He already decided that Science Fiction was a subject he had found he was always interested in, but there was always the problem that perhaps he was a little too well versed, and was continuously trying to skirt away from plagiarism.

Of course, the idea come to him as he was brushing his teeth before bed, which inevitably meant that he ended up in bed at 3.30am. Just to make matters worse, he had a Physical Therapy session at 0815 hours the next morning too.

By the time he was back from that, he was not in the mood to write and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening catching up on Dr Who episodes.

By day five, he was back in front of the laptop, staring at the screen as his mind sifted through plot ideas and opening sentences.

By day nine he was wondering why he ever thought he could write and just what the hell he was going to do if he actually did manage to produce a book.

Day sixteen saw him writing what he could of the plot down and some brief character descriptions.

Day twenty saw him playing World of WarCraft.

It was a month after his discharge when he had begun to grow slightly hostile at the same four walls and ceiling, that he decided it was time he ventured out.

Calling a cab and packing the laptop into a satchel he swung over his shoulder, he asked to be taken to the closest cafe.

The closest cafe was a dingy place that sold some of the worst coffee he had ever tasted, and he had lived with MRE Coffee for most of his career. Though he should have noticed the signs when the cabbie had first pulled up. It was dank, dreary, and slightly dilapidated. He also ever saw one other patron for the two hours he managed to stick around for.

The next day when he called for a cab, he was a careful to be a little more specific in direction. After getting the cabbie’s opinion on where he thought a good cafe a was, he paid for it in the pocket when he was taken across the other side of the city. It took him an hour to get back home that night. The coffee was certainly not worth the trip.

Sticking with the third time’s a charm rule, the next day he asked where all the Military in the area got their coffee.

The shop he was taken to was by no means a cafe, so much as a bakery and a roastary combined in one large converted factory building. There were large open spaces where seating was liberally placed, as well as a few fireplaces with lounge settings that created cosy spots for patrons. The place smelt divine as fresh coffee was roasted and pastries baked.

He little bit fell in love with coffee again when he took his first sip of the Cafe’s home brew.

After that first day at The Factory Bakery, he was hooked. Every day after that he was back, setting up his laptop in the booth near the register, so he didn’t feel bad flagging down staff while cleaning as well as keeping off his leg as he was supposed to.

After the first week there, the girls behind the counter knew him by name and were occasionally bringing him refills and the odd Danish. He was starting to finally find his feet (metaphorically speaking as his left leg was still violently protesting) as he had developed an easy routine between PT and days at The Factory.

He was even starting to piece the first parts of his story together and getting some dialogue down.

Things were finally settling in.

“A Crystal based technology using nuclear power? Are you serious?” An indignant voice said from behind him.

John whipped around to see a man with piercing blue eyes and a receding hairline looking at him with an expression of pure disdain.

“It’s only fiction,” John replied, quietly blushing as he turned back.

“And anyone who knows an ounce of actual science will scoff at the concept before proceeding to laugh themselves into an early grave.”

“And I suppose you know what would work then?” John returned testily.

“Well, as a matter of fact, I have several theories, but there is the matter of copyright to consider,” the man said thoughtfully, crossing his arms over his chest.

At that point, the line to the desk moved up, and the man moved along with it, leaving John in peace.

He supposed it was to be expected, being approached in such a public location about what he was doing. Still, it was rude to read off someone else’s screen. Shaking his head, he turned back to what he had been typing. He had been trying to piece together the technological structure and social structure of the universe he was creating. Reading back over the technology side, he realised that nuclear power did have a lot of drawbacks, and for the kind of advanced society he was trying to create, too much of a dirty power source, especially coupled with crystal technology which seemed to carry a synonymous theme of purity.

Back to the drawing board then.

“Right, I was thinking perhaps something along the lines of harnessing some kind of energy that we are currently aware of, but yet to fully understand, such as anti-matter.”

Right before John’s eyes, the man was back with not one but three of the Ultra large travel cups of coffee which he placed on the table beside the laptop before dragging a chair out from across the table, sending the crutches flying.

“Shit! Sorry,” he said, hastily putting laptop bags and satchels down to grab up the crutches again and rest them against the other chair.

“Anyway,” The man plonked himself down across from John, pausing his running monologue to take a large gulp of coffee. “I was otherwise thinking perhaps you could use some kind of subspace reactor that could harness energy from exotic particles being created and destroyed within the reactor. Then again, that would probably work better as a weapon, than general power.”

He took another gulp of the coffee as he appeared to think. John could only stare blankly back, trying to take in just what exactly was happening.

“Actually, keeping the subspace field, you could perhaps generate your own miniature star. Feeding it Hydrogen when needed. True, it is close to your original idea of nuclear fusion, but that’s just semantics. Did you want to get any of this down?”

John blinked as he registered being asked for input.

“Ah, I’ve got a good memory. And besides, anything I don’t understand is what Google is for.”

“Gah. All you Flyboys are the same,” He said derisively.

“How did you….”

“The Tags.”

John’s hand automatically came up to the chain around his neck. He’d worn them so long he had completely forgotten they were still there.

“Anyway,” the man did this strange hand-flappy thing that brought a smirk to John’s face. “What’s your email address? I’ll send you some links and titles to some books that should help you.”

“Uh, Thanks,” John said, surprised. “But I don’t-”

“You cannot be seriously that technologically deficient.” The man rolled his eyes theatrically.

“Yeah, well the last fifteen or so years email has been around, I’ve been overseas at war. It’s only the last few weeks that I’ve been back in civilian life.” John said sarcastically, slouching back in the chair.

“Medical Discharge?” The man asked, surprisingly gentle.

“Yeah, last month. Chopper went down under friendly fire. Kept the Colonel alive and well, but screwed my knee and broke the shin.” John said softly with a heavy sigh.

“So you thought you’d try your hand at being a science fiction author?” The man said, a good-natured smirk on his face.

John scratched the back of his neck, the only nervous twitch he knew he had, “Well, try as a hobby, to keep me occupied. If anything comes of it, well that’s a bonus.”

“Heh, well. Good luck. When you get an address, email me.” The man said, pulling a business card out of his wallet.

“Dr M. Rodney McKay. PhD. PhD. Mechanical Engineering and Astrophysics. Heh, well, I guess you know what you’re talking about then.” John read the card aloud with a laugh.

“Oh! Now you believe me!” McKay said dismissively.

“John Sheppard,” John replied, holding his hand out to shake.

“Yes, nice to meet you and all that.” McKay shook his hand quickly then drained the first coffee cup. “That’s yours, by the way. I asked the girl behind the desk what you were drinking.”

“Oh, thanks!” John was starting to get seasick from how fast McKay was speeding through emotions. Disdain to interest, to compassion, back to disdain then generosity.

“I’ve got to get back to the lab. Make sure the minions haven’t broken anything. They haven’t blown anything up yet. We would’ve been able to hear it.” McKay was saying half to himself as he grabbed up his bags again. “Email me,” he said by way of farewell.

John could only sit in stunned silence as Hurricane McKay disappeared out the door.

That night he created a generic Hotmail account and shot an email off to McKay. By the next morning, he had a reply with a long list of general science forums and links to online articles. At the end were a few texts that Rodney had thought would help if he needed any further detail on the science behind what he had been talking about. He had explained that these weren’t as wrong as most mainstream texts. These authors hadn’t gotten their PhD’s out of Wheaties Boxes.

After another round of excruciating P.T., he eventually made it to The Factory by lunch time. Using the hotspot function on his phone, he had just started going through the links when McKay rocked up.

“How’d you go with that list? Anything helpful?”

“Just starting to go through it,” John replied, pointing to the screen.

McKay snorted, “What were you doing all morning?”

“P.T.” Sheppard said with a grimace, McKay winced in sympathy.

“Ok, I’ll let you off for that one.”

“Gee, thanks, Rodney.”

For some reason, the simple use of McKay’s first name seemed to inspire a genuine smile from the man which could only leave John wondering.

“Have you decided what to go with, though?” Rodney asked when he came back with another coffee and sandwich.

“Maybe. I’m not certain yet. But I thought maybe the solar idea. Purely for the fact that using Crystal technology for mechanisms and interfaces sort of implies a purity or cleanliness of energy. Though I was wondering how you would be able to remove the helium produced so the reactors wouldn’t go nova.”

“You know,” McKay sat back in the chair across from John and observed him, “I don’t think any of my minions would have been capable of thinking of that as a problem. Which worries me, as it is what they are paid to do.”

John could only laugh at the sour expression on McKay’s face.

“I take it I passed the test then?”

“Hmm? Yes, quite.” Eventually, McKay shook himself and came back to the present. “Leave it with me, I’ll think about it. See if I can come up with anything.”

“Thanks. For all this actually,” John said.

“Don’t worry about it. If there could be one modern day Science Fiction Author that had an ounce of actual knowledge about the subject they were writing about, I’d be happy. Even if I have to educate that author myself.”

“Thanks.”

“What?”

“I’m assuming there’s a compliment in there somewhere.”

“Oh, sorry. You many have noticed I’m not exactly the nicest person,” Rodney said, chagrined.

“By the sounds of it, you have reason to be in a bad mood with little tolerance. Are they really that bad in their field?” John wondered.

“Most, but not all of them. I can’t really name name’s, classified project and all that. Hmm, we’ll call her the Geisha. She has promise. I was so glad when we managed to steal her from her home country. And she is just like a Geisha: strong, beautiful, full of poise and fire. One of my favourite past times is watching her take strips off Pony Tail Guy. Now him, he is a classic case of buying his doctorate. I’d say he might have blackmailed his way through his dissertation and defence, but that would imply intelligence when he plays at conniving. He’s not.” Rodney said with a nasty little smirk.

John just sat back and listened to Rodney rant about Ponytail Guy and his stupidity as well as the Geisha, and someone else he referred to as Zippy. Apparently, he talked really fast and not always in English.

It made for a nice break to hear about people in the real world. Since his stint in Antarctica, he had become somewhat of a loner. He didn’t want to think of the guys that had been in his regiment. He was too busy getting reprimanded and being sent to the furthest base from the United States to attend their funerals. As for his family, that was one door he did not want to darken again. He still had access to his trust fund which had been boosted substantially with all his untouched combat pay. But at the same time, he didn’t want to just mooch off that money for the rest of his life. Perhaps he’d get another job with a private company, flying jets or helicopters. Maybe even start his own helicopter company that did local tours. Either way, they were long terms ideas. At the moment he was enjoying the downtime, even if he was in pain. But it gave him the chance to exercise his brain, which was something he hadn’t had the chance to do previously in a very long time.

It was a week later that Rodney came back into the cafe again with a handful of papers and an excited grin on his face.

He had still come in each day for lunch and coffee, but he had never come in so late in the evening. John had just about finished packing up when he sat down at the table and started babbling.

“I’ve got it!!!” he said excitedly before going into an in-depth discussion including diagrams on just how they could inject the hydrogen and extract the helium from the vacuum.

“So you want to open a matter bridge between two vacuums?” John reiterated, mind boggling with all the technical jargon that had just been unloaded on him. He had some understanding of basic physics. Mainly just the high school level that had allowed him into the Air Force as a pilot.

McKay frowned, “Very simply, yes.”

“Well, my target audience won’t need to know the equations on how it’s achieved, but I think that’ll work once I’ve got the basics down in my head. Thanks!” John said enthusiastically as his mind spun with plot ideas on how he could create scenarios around possible problems or how it could be modified to power other things.

“You’re welcome. It’s given me a much-needed reprieve over the last few days from some of my other projects. Should have seen Zippy’s face when I started bouncing ideas off him,” McKay said as he finally settled down from the academic high. He finally looked around at the table and noticed that only the laptop power cord needed to be packed away.

“Sorry! I’m keeping you! I forget not everyone keeps the same works hours as I do.”

“Nah,” John said dismissively. “I’ve got nowhere to be. Just need to move around a bit to keep this from stiffening up.” He pointed to his leg. “You got anything planned?”

“Not really. Just the cat and some physics journals to ‘mark’,” He replied with an evil gleam.

“Let me buy you dinner for your help this week.”

“Oh, um sure.” Rodney agreed with a faint blush covering his cheeks.

“Awesome.‘Cos your driving and your choosing. I only know the take out joints near the base housing.” John informed him with a smirk.

“McKay just shook his head as he grabbed the laptop bag from off the table and hefted it over his shoulder. “Typical,” he muttered.

The restaurant they ended up at was a casual diner that had a wide variety on their menu.

They also seemed to know McKay very well. The waitress spent a good minute writing Rodney’s ‘usual’ down before she ever turned to John.

“So, Astrophysics. What made you go down that vein?” John asked as he poked his straw through the thick shake. Rodney had just shaken his head when he had ordered it.

“It was more interesting than the other topics. Besides, I’m a science fiction nerd at heart. Being able to understand the science of Star Trek and pushing the technology toward that level in the real world were too good to pass up.

“Yeah, I wanted to fly space ships,” John said with a big grin that had Rodney snorting. “NASA picks their astronauts from the Air Force. Apart from that, I just love flying. And Ferris wheels.”

“Ferris wheels?” Rodney asked with a derisive snort.

“Yep,” John said with a grin.

They were saved at that moment by the waitress returning with their meals.

“As per your normal requests, there is no citrus in any part of your meal, and all utensils and work surfaces were cleaned especially again before your meals were made. We also took the liberty with your guest’s meal, just in case.”

“Thanks, Casey,” Rodney said, embarrassment colouring his cheeks.

“No worries, Dr McKay. You know chef Bordin doesn’t mind,” she said with a smile, before leaving them in peace.

Nervously, Rodney just started eating, waiting for whatever it was that John was going to say.

“So Citrus. How bad?”

“Life-threatening if you were to breathe on me after a sip of OJ,” Rodney said into his waffles with a heavy sense of bitterness.

“Epi Pen?” John asked, his face a seeming casualness that Rodney had never seen before.

“Uh… Pants pocket. Usually a spare in whatever bag I have with me.”

John just nodded, starting in on his burger and fries.

A few awkward moments passed where they ate their meals in silence.

“I’m sorry,” Rodney said, not looking up.

“For what?” John replied, not looking up from his burger.

“I”m not sure, but I feel like I’ve done something, anyway.”

“You haven’t really. Just would have been good to know earlier. I’ve had juice at the Factory when you’ve been around shortly after.” John said, making Rodney feel guilty.

They finished their meals in silence, both in uneasy thought.

“Sorry to put a dampener on things, but I’ve seen enough death as it is, I don’t want to cause for if I can help it,” John admitted, uncomfortable with sharing more.

“No, I totally get it. It’s just not many people take me seriously, or frankly, seem to care that much,” Rodney admitted.

“Well I care, buddy,” John said with a smile. “Ice cream?”

~*~

Things picked up a little after that, but it wasn’t until two days later that they were back to their normal banter.

John continued to flesh out the plot as well as getting several thousand words down of the first chapters. He was quite pleased with his progress.

He was still exchanging emails with Rodney throughout the day as well as catching up for a while at lunchtimes.

It was just after a month when they’d had the allergy talk that Rodney brought someone else with him to lunch.

“John, this is Radek Zelenka. Or as you might know him, Zippy.” Rodney introduced them in a rush as he made his way to the line for coffee. Zelenka took a moment longer to shake hands with a quick quirk of a smile before he too joined the coffee line.

“God this coffee is good,” Radek said reverently, leaving his sandwich pushed to the side in favour of the Holy Brew.

“Told you,” Rodney said gleefully as he sipped his own happily.

“So you are science fiction author that McKay will not shut up about,” Zelenka started.

“Unless there’s any other writers out there he’s coaching that I don’t know about,” John said with his own smirk. He turned to Rodney, “You talk about me huh?” he ribbed with a quirk of the eyebrow.

“Oh shut up!”

“And what is this Zippy?” Zelenka asked with a derisive snort.

“Well, I didn’t want to breach anything that’s classified, including who we worked with. So I had to come up with something.” Rodney said defensively.

“And you couldn’t think of anything better than Zippy? Do I look like Kangaroo or something?” he came back, mock offended.

John couldn’t help laughing as he watched the two banter back and forth.

“So what are you writing about?” Zelenka asked once Rodney had started eating his lunch.

“Futuristic Sci-Fi. I’m trying to stay away from mainstream sci-fi, being such a sci-fi buff, it’s making it hard. Rodney’s been helping me with some of the technological aspects, making them believable anyway.

“By the time I’m through with him, publishers will be lining up to sign book deals.” Rodney boasted between mouthfuls.

“Well, you haven’t actually read any of it yet. I could be a really crappy writer,” John blushed, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Oh get off it! Your emails are perfectly legible. You’re also putting a lot of effort into it. Though, at the first mention of Vampires or Werewolves, I will disown you.” Rodney snarked.

“Just because they’re legible, doesn’t mean they’ll be enjoyable,” John snarked right back.

“Then practice, yes?” Zelenka butted back in. “And get different people to read?”

“It’s just a hobby,” John defended himself, though he wasn’t sure why.

“And that’s all it will be with that attitude,” Rodney said, suddenly coming across very serious. “If this is something you truly enjoy doing, and something you currently have the financial means to pursue, then what is there to lose?”

“Like that high school boy that wrote Eragon. Anyone can try,” Zelenka added.

John could only accept their well-meant guidance. Truthfully, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do.

~*~

For the rest of the week, there was no mention from either Rodney or Zelenka about taking his writing more seriously. Zelenka had started coming in late morning to the cafe and having his lunch with John.

John learned that Zelenka was Rodney’s 2IC, so it stood to reason that they wouldn’t often come together. As Rodney had put it, someone had to watch the barely trained monkeys. But no matter what, Rodney was always at the cafe between twelve and one pm, and usually stuck around for just under an hour.

“I’m not sure why I bother,” Rodney grouched as he dumped his bag on his way to the counter to make his order.

John barely looked up from his screen at the apparent drive by.

A few minutes later, McKay was back and caressing his coffee mug, watching John.

Who still hadn’t looked up from his screen.

Rodney spent another few minutes watching Sheppard type. The waitress came and went, delivering his lunch and another coffee that Rodney hadn’t ordered.

Still, he was absorbed by the screen.

Knowing what it was like to be on a roll, Rodney let him get out what he needed to on the computer. Another twenty minute later, lunch was finished, his coffee long since gone. He was contemplating stealing John’s when the man glanced up from his screen to grab it himself that he finally saw McKay sitting across from him and jumped.

“Sorry, Rodney. How long have you been there?” John said, taking a moment to stretch.

“About half an hour,” Rodney smirked at John’s shocked expression. “How’s the book going?”

“Surprisingly well, actually,” John replied, seemingly surprised himself. Rodney noticed when he tried to stretch his leg out and barely stifled a pained gasp.

“How long have you been sitting here?” Rodney asked, rifling through John’s bag for his pain medication.

“Umm, since about 0800 this morning?”

Rodney could only smirk, all too familiar with the situation.

“Damn, my physio is going to kill me.” John moaned as he continued to stretch the joint out.

“That bad?” Rodney asked with a wince.

“My appointment is tomorrow. If it’s in good shape, he was going to schedule my next surgery.”

“Surgery? Again?” Rodney asked, “Did those voodoo doctors stuff something up?”

John laughed, “Nothing like that. There’s just only so much they can do each stage. I’ll have one more surgery after this before it’s all done.”

“That just plain sucks,” Rodney said emphatically.

“Yeah, it is.” John sighed. “Hows things going with you?”

“I fired the whole lot of them. Even Zelenka.”

John raised his eyebrow.

“They were all being idiots. Not one of them seemed able to follow any instructions and instead put us all in jeopardy. I have no room in my lab for stupidity,” Rodney ranted loudly.

John had to wonder what astrophysics had to do with anything that could explode, but he was used to classified and “Need to Know”. The first fifteen years of his service record spoke to that.

“So you gave them the afternoon off?”

“Two of them got the week off and are on two-month probation after that.” Rodney huffed.

“You can’t send them off to redo or get more training?” John asked, thinking of how it was done in the military.

“While I would love for most of these people to go back and redo their supposed qualifications, it’s mostly on the job training, and they just think they’re above pesky things such as risk procedures. It’s not like they’re there for a reason or anything,” Rodney snarled, but it seemed only half-hearted now, having lost some of the steam from earlier.

“There’s no OHS training that they can do, even just as punishment. If they pick anything up, all the better.” John asked, trying to help.

Rodney just smiled viciously, “That’s Monday morning, and the whole department is attending.”

 

TBC

Posted in Stargate: Atlantis | Tagged , , | 7 Comments