Embracing His True Self

Chapter 50

Voldemort had to admit he was eagerly anticipating tonight. He absolutely loved tormenting his followers and tilting their words on its axis. Which was what he knew was going to happen when he introduced Harry to them. There was no doubt his inner circle had adhered to his wishes, he knew how best to ensure their silence when required. As always, threating their families worked wonders. Especially considering they knew he wasn't kidding, if word had spread he would have killed the entire family of the one responsible then left them alive to live with the consequences of their actions. Closely watched and observed though, they wouldn't have anything left to lose and might be foolishly enough to attempt something…unwise.

However, what he hadn't anticipated was his own reaction to Harry dressed to the nines in resplendent robes fit for a king. Sure, he had seen Harry dressed in wizard robes, but he had been but fourteen years of age, thin and malnourished, hair brittle and quite frankly an untamed mess. He was just a boy, not even coming into his own yet. Even after he bought Harry robes for his birthday he stuck to those horrendous eyesore Muggle attires. They fit him, yes, but he'd never understood why anyone would wish to wear Muggle items especially those who had the lineage like he and Harry did.

Now, oh now he was a man, confident and had come into his own and he was magnificent. Gloriously dressed in green robes that fitted him perfectly, showing off his fit toned body. There was nothing that screamed he was a sixteen year old boy, underage, Voldemort's mind uttered unhelpfully, but he had never been a law abiding citizen, and wasn't about to start now. He wanted, oh, how he wanted the wizard unlike he'd ever wanted anyone before.

He wanted to take him, possess him, cherish him, lavish him with everything he could ever want or need. His eyes were alight with avarice, the urge to hide him most prominently at the forefront of his mind. Hide him away from the gaze of any others who might show the slightest bit interest in him.

Merlin help anyone who did for a second have his or hers gaze linger on Harry Potter for they'd only be bringing on their own demise.

"You're apprentice? Really?" Harry asked, his tone quiet but amused showing he wasn't all that upset by the announcement. Blinking in confused surprise when he noticed the look on Voldemort's face. He looked seconds away from rendering him limb from limb. The last time he'd seen him that pissed was when he'd mentioned his likeness to Dumbledore character wise of course. The urge to step back cautiously was screaming at him from the lizard brain which the limbic system was responsible for the 'flight or fight' instinct. Something Barty had just learned about in the science books he'd been buying for him.

It took all of Voldemort iron clad will power to stop himself reacting viscerally like he so badly wished to do. If he hadn't been surrounded by his elite and the entire fraction of the dark side, perhaps things would have gone differently. It may have been a good thing they were here and now to prevent such an impudent display on his part. He was a Slytherin after all not a Gryffindor. He had more decorum than that. Plans immediately began to circle his mind, desire flaring to life inside of him.

Stepping forward until he was face to face with Harry, before leaning further into his personal space, "Disappointed?" he drawled, eyes gleaming, having to refrain from reaching out and touching what he had declared his. Harry was his. Mine. He always took what he deserved and desired.

Harry shivered at the warm breath against his neck and ear, trying desperately to ignore the affect Voldemort was having on him. His breath hitching when those lips and nose just touched his ear and neck before withdrawing. "Hardly," he whispered, sounding far too breathless for his liking. Damn him. He could feel his cheeks heating up as if his reaction hadn't been bad enough.

Harry could have sworn he heard an amused dark chuckle coming from Voldemort when he stepped back. Surely, he must have been imagining it, "You're missing the best part," Harry pointed out, successfully getting himself under control, regretfully not before the damage was done. He just prayed Voldemort hadn't noticed…but he knew he had, he was too damn watchful to not have.

"That, my dear Harry, are what Pensieve's were invented for," Voldemort stated, his tone fond.

Harry gulped, he wasn't anyone's dear anything, but the words and the way Voldemort was behaving had his stomach twisting like he had a million butterflies inside of it. He felt extremely odd, his body felt as if someone had lit a furnace under it, now he'd experienced many things, childish attraction when he was twelve, to raw overpowering hated and anger…but these feelings? They were new, they made him leery, cautious and damn it he felt like a spooked Hippogriff. This didn't sit well with him at all, he forced himself to focus on something…anything else. "Don't use 'my dear' it's too close to something he would say," a shudder wracking his frame, and all of a sudden he felt normal again. He didn't need to say who the 'he' was since the way he said it spoke all the volume he needed.

Now that definitely changed both their moods.

"Very well," Voldemort's tone was curt and clipped, but his eyes did not diminish the slightest. They still shone with light and greedy desire, one that could easily be mistaken for something else.

"But apprentice?" Harry queried, completely ignoring the talking and heated whispering taking place all over the room. His lips twitched just thinking of all their reactions, it did amuse him to see them all so stunned. Then again they probably hadn't expected anything like this tonight, to have Harry Potter announced in with the enforced image of him being almost equal to Voldemort. He hadn't explicitly stated as such, but his words spoke volumes. He had no doubt a lot of the Death Eaters had caught on too. They were to show him the same respect as Voldemort, that was telling them he considered Harry better, no greater than them, even the inner circle. "I doubt there's much else I could learn," there had to be another motive for his words.

"And that is why I chose the term," Voldemort stated smugly, especially if word got out, they would heavily underestimate the 'hold' he had on Harry and his abilities. He said hold because he knew they would not give up on the wizard, they couldn't, if they did they might as well just roll over and let him do as he pleased. They knew they needed Harry when it came to the war, unless Dumbledore actually gained the courage to come after him. Which was doubtful, Dumbledore disliked acting unless he was pressured or forced into it.

Harry huffed out a chuckle, "You do realize that it's not just Dumbledore and the Order who will underestimate me but the Death Eaters too," he pointed out annoyance splayed out on his face, before he rolled his eyes, "Which is what you want." He wanted him to prove himself to them, for them to realize just how much of a threat he actually was. It would have pissed him off if he wasn't so amused by his deductions on Voldemort's character and understanding what he was up to.

Not that it was ever hard to understand Voldemort and his plans, he liked to think himself so smart and subtle but oftentimes it wasn't the case. It was either that or they were just that similar in nature to understand the subtle nuances.

Voldemort's lips just twitched in smug satisfaction, and declined to answer, not that he'd technically asked any questions mere statements.

"How long will this go on for?" Harry asked, glancing around the room, blinking slightly at the sight of Draco Malfoy's eyes boring into his own with a feral intensity that he hadn't quite known the boy was capable of.

"If the past is any indication well past midnight," Voldemort said amused, noticing that Harry's attention was elsewhere, which made a pang of jealously surge through him. His eyes narrowed in on the blatant challenge on Harry's face and the anger clearly on the young Malfoy. Tonight was definitely going to be interesting, the young Malfoy had never clicked on his radar. He was merely the son of two of his most faithful, a powerful boy if Lucius' boasting was true, one day he would test the boy, but that was a few years away yet.

Despite Draco Malfoy being only a few months older than Harry Potter, he did not consider them equals or the same. One was in his orbit constantly…the other was barely a blip on his radar.

"Lovely," Harry drawled, still eyeing Draco like a panther waiting for the best time to strike. He had already received permission to deal with any altercation any way he pleased. He would wait though, for anyone to start with him so he couldn't be blamed, and waiting on them snapping would give him a great deal of pleasure. Giving Draco a dismissive look, as if he found him lacking – which he did – and turned back to Voldemort. He was dying to look back to see how he reacted to being so casually dismissed but he refrained, barely. "I'm glad more than ever that my rooms are warded to the nines," he added, before wandering away from Voldemort, he'd rather not be killed in his sleep by jealous idiots thank you very much.

Rabastan Lestrange, stood with his sons Rodolphus and Rabastian, all of them dressed similarly with their coat of arms proudly displayed like many of the others . He had as always, automatically searched for Bellatrix out of habit. To make sure she wasn't causing trouble, before remembering it was no longer his concern, what she did…she wouldn't be embarrassing his family name anymore. It was a weight off, if he was honest, even now he could still scarcely believe she wasn't his problem or his sons responsibility. The both had struggled enormously to contain the madness that consumed Bellatrix Lestrange, which had consumed her for most of her life.

"An apprentice? Why so?" Rabastan pondered, ignoring everything around him as he tried to figure out this latest…puzzle. Unsurprisingly it revolved around Harry Potter, something very normal as of late. Which he wanted to find very disconcerting but he hadn't seen his friend so happy – less Crucio happy – which spoke a great deal about his mental health. Having Harry Potter on his side had brought back the wizard he knew and he was so very grateful for it. Quite honestly he felt like worshiping the ground the boy walked on. He had never seen anyone quite so willing to look his Lord in the eye, or fight him so lethally, he was mesmerising and terrifying in equal measure. To think he was standing there like butter wouldn't melt, all respectful when he knew what the boy was capable and how strong his magic truly was.

"I rather think its obvious," Severus replied dryly, answering Rabastan and relaxing slightly when he noticed Lucius approaching his son.

"How so? He's so much more capable than a mere apprentice, in fact he could pass his mastery with one single instance," Rabastan interjected, his sons nodded once in complete agreement. When turning to face Severus, he noticed Bellatrix again, her face was twisted unpleasantly, upset and angry for some reason…perhaps the announcement? Had Bellatrix even seen what Harry was truly capable of? Shaking his thoughts off, Bellatrix's emotions changed like the weather, with ferociousness. One minute she could be happy, talking normally then out of the blue it's like the madness just envelopes her and she changes, becomes a feral animal. Last she spoke with them, she'd been in awe of Harry's bloodthirst.

"Exactly," Severus said smugly, "We've seen him in action not many others have," it was such an underhand devious thing to do that he would have been in awe if he wasn't already very familiar with just how devious both his Lord and Harry actually were. Before he knew everything he would have definitely assumed it was his Lord's idea and that Harry couldn't have come up with it. He now knew better.

"Who is he testing? Us or Harry?" Rodolphus chuffed out a quiet laugh of amusement, dark eyes gleaming as he watched Barty and Harry talk.

"Both," Rabastian guessed, "Our Lord surely doesn't think anyone is going to risk attacking him so soon and with his presence?"

"I think I'm going to need a drink," thankfully there was more than enough to drink to fill a bottomless trunk.

"Remember what Our lord said, we're to keep an eye out," Rabastian warned his brother against getting too drunk.

"I know," Rodolphus replied sincerely, his mind was in a much better state than it had been when he'd gotten free of Azkaban. He may have still been recovering if it wasn't for the potion Harry had created. Speaking of that, they hadn't been drinking a lot since they were given the all clear, so they would need to be careful lest they end up completely hammered after only one or two drinks. In fact, his mind had been primarily on someone else…someone he could never have.

"I am surprised you're here, Severus, how are you going to explain it to the old fool?" Rabastan drew the attention back to himself and Severus.

The music started up, presumably after the Dark Lord gave them the heads up, it was not loud enough to disrupt their conversation. A variety of instruments began to play, from the corner of the room, with a simple spell. There was no band or anything of the sort, but the music was soothing nonetheless and not overwhelming that they felt the need to step out to converse.

"My tenure at Hogwarts has come to an end, I am no longer requested to spy," Severus said, his lips curling into a satisfied smug smirk.

"Well, you're obviously pleased about that," Rabastian said, with a grin of his own, it was quite evident how he felt.

"Indeed," Severus replied black eyes gleaming vindictively. He said nothing about his last mission or the fact they had another way to spy. In the inner circle or not, they didn't make a habit of discussing any 'private' missions they were sent on. If something was requested of them in a meeting that was as though they had permission to discuss everything but when asked something after being requested to attend a meeting alone it was best to keep quiet.

"How are Harry's friends?" Rodolphus asked, getting a strange look from his brother an a raised eyebrow from his father which he promptly ignored.

Severus stared shrewdly at Rodolphus, and if he didn't know his mind was impenetrable, he would have been very leery at the look. "That is something you'll have to ask him." he did not discuss the likes of Longbottom or the Lovegood girl with Harry. He had no interest in either of them, it was entirely Harry's decision to remain friends with them knowing he would one day potentially lose them. He was glad he had made friends with a few of the Death Eaters, Barty mainly, which didn't surprise him, Barty just had one of those presences where you felt comfortable. Which made him a very good Death Eater, and the last one anyone would assume would ever join the dark side. He had a feeling that Rodolphus wasn't enquiring about Longbottom, which didn't leave much in the way of speculating.

He refused to think on it though, it was enough to give him a headache and queasy stomach.

"Ask him what?" Barty asked, "And him who?" Rodolphus and Rabastian jumped while Severus and Rabastan remained unmoved due to the fact they were facing the way Barty came and had seen him approach. "I come bearing gifts," he added letting the tumblers float towards the others, who immediately grabbed one each, looking extremely grateful for it.

"Yes, because it was your idea, wasn't it," Harry muttered, rolling his eyes giving the others an 'can you believe him' look while gesturing towards him.

"I see you've met Adelaide Crabbe," Rabastan said, eyes gleaming with amusement, "What did you think of her?" she was definitely an acquired taste for his generation but the younger ones seem to indulge her. Unfortunately, many of them didn't have grandmothers, or grandparents at all.

Harry's eyes darkened, "She's annoying," his nostrils were flaring show he was actually pissed off not just annoyed by the woman.

Severus' eyes gleamed with sympathy and sadness, "That she may be, but she's…very much like Lily," she cared about everyone around her, tried to help them unless of course, she wrote you off completely like she did him. Barty and the Lestranges' stiffened and glanced at Harry as if they were expecting something…explosive to happen. Not that it can be blamed, since it was well known that Harry Potter was quite…powerful and prone to emotional outbursts when his parents were mentioned from the rumours. The inflation of his 'so called' aunt being the main one, now that had been all over the Ministry before they were able to get the obese woman sorted.

Harry just shrugged, she wasn't his mother or grandmother, he didn't want her touching him or trying to tell him how to live his life. He didn't tolerate it from Remus and Sirius he sure as hell wasn't going to let a stranger do it.

"So? Ask who what?" Barty asked in a rush, eager to see the conversation end and something easier to talk about started.

"Rodolphus wished to ask Harry about the safety of his friends," it was Severus who replied, of course, with barely concealed amusement.

Harry's eyebrows shot up in obvious shock, mind reeling as if quite easily figured out why he was asking, "She is fine, they're under the Fidelius charm, and nothing will happen to her," his tone was icy, glaring pointedly at Rodolphus.

Rodolphus stared right back, his own face impassive, wondering if the boy was threatening him to keep away or if he was actually warning him – as a friend or brother would – that if he hurt her he would kill him. He didn't dare glance at his father or brother, just in case they had caught on to what Harry was saying. Rodolphus merely nodded with a grunt, "Good," was all he had to say regarding that.

Stepping closer to the Lestrange, "I will kill you if you hurt her," he warned him, his tone low enough for only Rodolphus to hear practically growling.

Rodolphus shuddered visibly as Harry unleashed his magic, allowing him to feel what he kept so closely shielded from others. He'd never felt anything like his Lord's magic until now. Even the duel hadn't been like this, the darkness oozed from the very pores of the boy. 'danger, danger' was all his mind could comprehend, and wasn't that a kick in the gut? That a teenager had such high power concentrations and he had no doubt the boy had the ability to kill him without blinking.

"Am I understood?" Harry retorted his voice barely above a restrained whisper.

Rodolphus cleared his throat, "Yes," contemplating the idea of just remaining distant from her. Yet the thought of not seeing her again was disheartening, she was shrouded in innocence, serenity and a calmness he so desired in his life. She was beautiful, there was no denying that, and her age was far from ideal, but feelings did not care about age or any passing threats, emotions just were. After enduring the darkness that was his own magic and Bellatrix…could anyone blame him for falling hard for a girl who was like his own personal sent angel?

"Nothing happens until she's seventeen, IF she's interested," Harry warned him, Luna was one of the most important people in his life. She didn't care about his fame and he prayed she wouldn't care about his allegiance. He had a sneaky suspicion that she knew anyway, she was a seer after all, which meant there was hope at the end of the day and that hope kept him going.

Rodolphus just stared wide eyed, stunned to the core, in a way that not even the Dark Lord's first announcement about Harry had done.

"And by the way? She knew you were there, the bloody sneaky bitch had runes buried all around her property," Harry informed him stepping away, a devious grin on his face. He was getting way too much enjoyment out of scaring the shit out of Rodolphus he had to admit, he was beginning to understand why Voldemort did it. The word 'bitch' was said with fondness that conveyed he wasn't serious about the term.

"Is that the same case for Hermione?" Barty asked slightly alarmed.

"Nah, Luna figured out why someone was watching her, Granger would have immediately called for help," Harry denied his assumption. She was too suspicious, which was natural, between teachers who weren't their teachers, and constant attacks by the dark side, she wouldn't have risked her home or parents by not acting.

"Agreed," Severus stated derisively. "Although I must admit to some surprise that she doesn't have defences around her property," he added grudgingly.

"Hermione would never use magic outside of Hogwarts, you know that," Harry said dryly, she always adhered to the rules, unless of course, she felt no alternative but to break them. Particularly when Umbridge was taking over the school, who would have thought this would be her reaction especially when they thought back to what she was like at the age of twelve and first begun at Hogwarts. He'd been too pissed to appreciate them for what they were at the time. Still was pissed over it all if he was honest but he no longer blamed her the way he had. Truthfully, Hermione had tried, he had to give her due for that.

Taking a gulp of his non-alcoholic drink, which by the way he was still pissed at, but the guy handing them out refused to give him anything else. Who would have thought those on the dark side were just hard-asses like the law abiding wizards and witches. It was a good job he liked butterbeer, even if it was impossible to get drunk on, well except the obvious if you were a House-elf. "Where are they going?" Harry asked, cocking his head to the side, watching quite a few wizards and a witch wandering out of the room into a side room, leaving the door open.

"They've gone to play cards," Barty grinned, "Up for a game?" up for showing Harry just how much fun these things could be.

"Cards? You don't just mean exploding snap then?" Harry said sarcastically teasing him.

"No, actual cards, although you'll need to go get your money if you want in," Rabastian explained, "Come on, let's go have a game," as always eager to know Harry more, unfortunately he wasn't able to stick around Slytherin manor all the time and thus he didn't get much in the way of opportunity in spending time with his relative – no matter how distantly.

"Alright," Harry agreed, "Let me get another drink and my money I'll meet you there,"

"I'll get us all a drink," Severus corrected, wincing at the sound of the music, rubbing his temple, he'd rather endure cards than listen to this abhorrent noise. "Same again?"

"Fire whiskey," Harry stated, if he was going for it the bartender would have to give him it.

Severus snorted, Harry groaned knowing he wasn't going to get anything tonight.

Lips twitching, "I'll tell you what, I'll pour a shot into your tankard of Butterbeer," he informed the teen, very happy to see him acting like a teenager for once. Especially considering he definitely had been dreading tonight, with good reason he summarised to himself. He had just come out to the entire dark side, knowing not all of them would accept him quickly or easily. He might be worried about an attack, but the Dark Lord had ordered a few of his inner circle, including him, to keep an eye on Harry all night to ensure his safety and wellbeing. Which was something he would have done regardless, perhaps letting him drink was a bad idea, but he wasn't going to be drunk himself, so he could keep him safe from anyone or anything.

"Okay, I'll get the money," Harry said smugly, happy he got his way before he wandered out of the hall, glad he had his money, all the while he wondered what kind of card games wizards play.

"Fire Whiskey?" he asked the others.

They all gave their agreement, the glasses were promptly banished back to the bartender before Severus approached him, veering off when he caught sight of Lucius and Draco talking.

"Everything alright?" he asked, giving Draco a pointed look, his face was bright red, evidently not taking the news of Harry's presence well.

Lucius pursed his lips, "I think my son might need to return to our rooms for the night," he threatened his son, eyes flashing mercilessly cold. He definitely wouldn't be leaving Draco's side, or letting his son leave his.

"Why him!?" Draco whined, flinching at his father's look, knowing he was pushing it but unable to help himself.

"At least show a little bit of sense, Draco," Severus stated sharply, annoyance flaring within him, "We have won the war, do you understand? Our ways will be restored and all branches of magic in all its glory returned to us." He truly believed that without any obstructions they could win, the Order when they realized this would fall, Dumbledore would die probably by the Dark Lord's hand. He no longer felt the obsession with ending Harry with him being on their side. He wasn't sure how it came about, but he wasn't going to deny he was very pleased with it.

"He's lying! He has to be a spy! I mean come on!" Draco said exasperated, "He's as light as they come!"

"Do you think he can fool the Dark Lord then?" Severus snapped, his patience wearing thin fast. He could see that Lucius was seconds away from snapping himself, but he also knew Lucius had never harmed his son, either through magic or using his fists. He had never touched his son to punish him, not like Abraxas had done to Lucius.

Draco went quiet at that, "It's Potter!" he said eventually, "He works for Dumbledore! I've seen him follow Dumbledore around like a pathetic fool!"

"Yes, yes he did," Severus nodded his agreement, "But Draco…you must take care of what you say, Harry Potter is not who you think he is, and he's more important than you can fathom. Heed the Dark Lord's warning otherwise your parents might just find themselves without an heir." Warning him that he would be killed if he messed with Harry without coming right out and saying the words.

Those words just made Draco fluster further, gritting his teeth, "Has he been marked?" furious beyond belief at the thought of the boy being marked especially when he hadn't been given the choice.

Severus paused, thinking on how best to say what he needed to, "Harry is unlikely to ever be marked…he is almost an equal to the Dark Lord and will be above the inner circle."

Lucius inhaled sharply, glancing at Severus intently, he had not realized just what kind of part the boy was playing.

Severus nodded seriously to Lucius letting him know just how important Harry was going to be. He wasn't blind to the looks the Dark Lord had gifted Harry with tonight, or the eyes that constantly sought him out or the looks around the room to ensure nobody was paying attention. If he was wrong it didn't matter, it was obvious the Dark Lord had no intention of marking Harry or would have done so by now. He wasn't in Hogwarts, there was no risk to him being found out, nothing else made sense. Then there was what Harry got away with, how he'd seen them conversing on multiple occasions…no, there was no way he'd be a simple 'Death Eater' he'd bet his not so considerable fortune on that.

The implication went straight over Draco's head who just steadily went redder in the face and slid past Severus and Lucius and grabbed Potter, who was about to go into a room that was already filled with wizards playing cards. "I'm going to find out what you're up to Potter and expose you for the fraud you are," he hissed out, anger twisting his usually good looking face making him ugly just as he was on the inside.

"Who's really the fraud here, Malfoy?" Harry sneered, yanking his arm away from the furious Malfoy. "What are you going to do? Say 'wait until my father hears about this?' why don't you run along and tell him? You're pathetic, grow the fucking hell up you stupid idiot!" with a violent shove which collided Draco with his father who had immediately begun to stalk towards his son upon seeing him no longer beside him.

"My apologies, Lord Potter," Lucius said respectfully, grasping his son by the back of the neck, and squeezing, warning him from saying anything else. He grimaced at his wife when he saw her watching them with a concerned look on her face. Unable to reassure her as he would have liked to do, he couldn't risk Draco doing anything else tonight, he was going to remove his wand and lock him in their rooms until the end of the night.

"Potter-Black," Severus corrected Lucius quietly as he stepped beside them.

Harry just nodded curtly before disappearing into the room after taking the tankard from Severus with a little quirk of his lips in silent thank you.

"Excuse us, Severus, I think my son needs some alone time to process this," Lucius stated firmly.

"I completely agree," Severus replied, glancing at his godson blatantly displaying his disappointment, he was grateful for one thing though, that the Dark Lord had not seen the incident. Quite honestly, he never wanted to see Draco under the Cruciatus curse for disobeying the Dark Lord, and that was only if he was feeling merciful. Tonight he wouldn't be, especially after just warning them all that he was to be treated with the respect you'd show your Lord. He would have needed to be made an example of in order to deter further attacks, no he only hoped Draco could see something like that but not be the one on the receiving end. This would drive home just how serious it was. Honestly, teenagers, they always thought they were right. "Perhaps you should have a frank conversation with him, or better yet show him," Severus warned Lucius, Draco seemed to lose all sense and reason when it came to Draco.

Lucius swallowed thickly, pinching the bridge of his nose in a move reminiscent of Severus, he usually had more composure than that. It was then that it dawned on Severus just how much pressure Lucius felt like he was under. "It seems I may have no choice," he didn't really want to show Draco the harsher side of what it meant to serve the Dark Lord, especially considering he'd been so much saner since Potter-Black had joined their side. The alternative was…terrifying.

"No, you certainly don't," Severus revealed sincerely, not if he didn't want to lose his son, and have the Malfoy line end. Narcissa couldn't have anymore children, which had depressed her immensely for a while. She had so desperately wanted to give Lucius a little girl, or more like herself, she'd wanted to have a girl to dress up and raise. "Now if you'll excuse me," the quicker they got Draco out of there the less chance of anything else going wrong.

Lucius gripped his son tightly as if he could read Severus' thoughts before leading him through the hall, leaving a gaping Pansy and pensive Theodore and Blaise.

"Father!" Draco protested in deep embarrassment, utterly humiliated feeling like a little child being scolded.

"Do not make me silence you," Lucius retorted anger evident in his voice, he gestured to his wife to remain where she was, it was clear she wanted to follow.

Draco finally went silent, sullenly leaving with his father, trying to keep up with his long quick strides.

Harry's gaze never wavered from Marcus Flint as they both played poker, the others had already folded, not risking losing anymore funds. Especially not to Harry who had already taken a great deal of their funds this evening.

"He's good," Terrance Higgs commented to his old Head of House who he was sitting next to, on his other side was his best friend Marcus, who was still playing against Harry. "Did he completely fool us by lying that he hadn't played before?" not sounding upset by the prospect but amused, it was a Slytherin thing to do after all.

Adrian Pucey glanced up in curiosity, he was two years older than Harry, who he had no problem with. He was a brilliant Quidditch player, and that was all there was to his feelings for the teenager. He unlike many of the younger Quidditch players never played dirty, preferring to keep the game clean and win that way. Unfortunately, since Harry came to Hogwarts that hadn't happened, he was just too good, losing only one game and that was due to Dementors during a game with Hufflepuff.

"I do not believe so," Severus commented in amusement. "He's just an astonishingly fast learner," everyone was bound to know that themselves, performing the Patronus charm with only thirteen or so lessons on the subject.

Adrian Pucey conceded that thought, he'd barely been at Hogwarts a few months before he became the youngest seeker of the century. Won his first game against more experienced players, and while enduring problems with his broom. Even more impressive was the fact the rumours indicated that his flying lesson was the first time on a broom having been raised in the Muggle world. Snatching up a herb infused roll up, he flicked his wand and lit the end, inhaling it, it was similar to a Muggle cigarette he'd been told, just without any of the threats that Muggle cigarettes pose. "And completely sozzled,"

"That is definitely not the case," Rodolphus said, Harry's eyes were far too clear and sharp for that, plus he had only one fire whiskey shot over two and half hours ago, since then only butterbeer. He should know he had been the one to bring the latest drink for him. He watched Flint put more money in the pot, wondering who was going to win this round, nine times out of ten it was Harry winning, beginners luck.

Harry plucked the sickles and galleons and added them to the pot with a smirk, taunting Marcus.

Marcus just smirked right back, quite sure in his hand as they continued on, although their pile of money was considerably different, Marcus did not have anywhere near as much as Harry.

A quick check of the time declared it was eleven forty-five.

By midnight Harry said, "I'll tell you what, since you've no money left, we might as well show our hands," teasingly, genuinely curious about his hand, after all he had been very insistent.

"A royal flush," Flint stated smugly, laying the cards down, the ace, king, queen, joker and ten of hearts.

"Damn," Adrian whistled as he stubbed out the butt.

"Nice," Harry said wryly, "But not as good as my royal flush," laying down the ace, king, queen, joker and ten of spades.

Flint just stared stunned before groaning dramatically and staring up at the ceiling as if asking 'why him' before shaking his head.

Harry laughed in amusement, tapping the table and the money he'd made zoomed into the coin bag. "Nice playing with you,"

"Remind me not to play against you again, Potter," Flint informed him, not sounding upset the slightest. "Is there anything you can't do?" was more grouchy than upset too.

"Plenty," Harry said with a snort, "Just haven't found it yet."

Flint let out a bark of amusement, as he stood up, "Want anything to drink?" definitely having no desire to play any more card games.

"Why not?" Harry shrugged, "Last one though, I'm exhausted," he'd definitely be heading to bed soon.

That one last drink had the people who had somehow come to be rather important to him in the last two years, celebrating his birthday, ironically enough, the actual hour of his birth. Harry had been born as the seventh month dies, just passed midnight. Once again Harry had felt overly emotional, especially when he received gifts from the Lestrange's and Barty, Severus had already given his which he was proudly still wearing.

He ended up staying up a little bit later than he intended to.

It was a hell of sixteenth birthday party, one of the best birthdays he'd had.

Then again considering he'd only ever known the Dursley's it was hardly surprising although last year he had received a present from Voldemort.

I hope you're happy with this chapter despite the fact nothing too dramatic happened ;) no those will be spread out in the next year or so (in the story) but who it might be well...that's something I'll have to decide, Bellatrix and Draco are predictable so it might not be them...although I doubt Draco and Harry will ever be friends...I'm not one for making them so I can't stand Draco's character :D next chapter will be the prophet and perhaps Dumbledore's realisation? Would you like to see that? And what is on the prophet? his thoughts regarding Muggles? twisting it so it seems like Grindelwalds reign was his idea all along? (which in a way it is who manipulated who? what if it was Dumbledore's idea that made Grindelwald obsessed? and not the other way around?) will they have got the information out of Aberforth Dumbledore and obliviated him? Or will it be something more simple? Ariana's death? Him being responsible after an interview with Grindelwald in his prison? Read and Review please