Harry Potter and the Serpents Within

Summary: Harry is settling into living with the last two Marauders in Italy. But when something happens to Draco and his parents; the Potter's fears about the upcoming year at Hogwarts, and the dangers they might face there, become all too real.

Disclaimer: I make no monetary profit from this decent into the Potterverse. The warm fuzzies from reviews are all I need to sustain my muse … and sushi, I love me some sushi.

A/N: I can post a link to the floor plan I used for their house if anyone's interested. It includes the two floors and a concept design of the front of the house; I am unaware if the house was ever actually built.

Chapter 1: Bad Faith

Harry stretched and rolled over in his large bed to look out the expansive windows occupying one wall of the massive master bedroom that he now called his own. There had been a heated debate as to who should have the room, but Sirius and Remus were adamant that it belonged to Harry. His gaze swept across the orchard and fields of sheep, this was a great way to wake up. He rolled slowly out of bed and headed into the loo, where his personal Potter elf, a female named Neepy (who had chosen to live in the smaller of the two walk-in closets, the 'his' closet) already had the shower running. Harry quickly undressed and stepped under the spray of water, the temperature perfect, as usual.

It had been three weeks since they'd moved here, and the full moon was that night. True to his word, Harry had supplied Remus with the Wolfsbane Potion, and Remus had taken a goblet full yesterday and would again this morning. The three men had turned the duelling room off the library into Remus' room, as Harry could repurpose one of the rooms in his trunk as a duelling room and not receive a letter for underage magic use. Remus' room had its own attached bath and a window seat Moony could curl up on and watch the stars. The wards it already possessed would be helpful should Moony ever get a bad batch of Wolfsbane. Sirius' room was next to Remus' and was the only other bedroom, on the second floor, that had its own bath. It had originally been the second smallest of the upstairs bedrooms until the two Marauders cast a permanent expansion charm on it, making it the same size as Remus'.

The three guest rooms (two upstairs and one down) had already been utilized repeatedly by Harry's many friends and there were plans in the works for a massive sleep over with the whole Coalition, to take place a week before they would head back to Hogwarts. Harry, along with his parents, was unsure how to feel about his returning to Hogwarts. Twice in his first year he'd been nearly killed, Draco and Neville had nearly died as well, and Poppy had lost an eye. True Dumbledore was no longer Headmaster, Professor McGonagall now bore the burden of the position, but Harry was still uneasy about returning to the school.

Harry finished his shower and, after drying off, donned a pair of khakis and a green tee that Neepy had lain out for him. He laced up his dragon hide boots with half a thought to head to the stables after breakfast. He'd finally acquired a pair of Abraxans; a liver chestnut male with black mane, tail and feathers and a palomino female with blonde mane, tail, and feathers. He, Sirius, and Remus were hopeful that the pair would mate and produce the beginnings of a small herd for them.

Harry headed out his rooms and down through the Gallery, a hall hung with portraits of dozens of Potter ancestors. He'd immediately awoken the portraits after they'd decided to stay and had listened for hours to the stories his family could tell. The portrait above the fireplace in the great room had turned out to be the first of the Potters, the third son of Godric Gryffindor, and he had some quite interesting stories about the founders.

Sirius and Remus were already sitting in the breakfast nook, eating away when Harry arrived from the gallery, where he was surprised to find a full English breakfast awaited him. Apparently Bauble, the kitchen elf (a male), thought Remus needed his strength tonight and had foregone the usual Italian selection of cereals, fruit salads, yogurts, and bread and rolls. Harry happily helped himself to a few rashers of bacon, two poached eggs, half a grilled tomato, fried mushrooms, a slice of buttered toast with strawberry jam, four sausages, a scoop of baked beans, hash browns, and a helping each of white and black pudding. A hot cup of tea, two sugars and a splash of crème, rounded off the hearty fry-up.

~*oo*~

Harry sat ensconced in his private study, his second year transfiguration book on his lap. His Hogwarts letter wasn't due until the end of the month, near his birthday, but The Standard Book of Spells was, well, standard. He'd gotten the entire set of Standard Book of Spells grades 1-7 when he'd first gone to Diagon Alley and loaded up on books (and everything else). Harry, however, was unable to focus on the interesting new spells in this book, owing to the fact that Remus was currently undergoing his transformation. Even being clear on the other side of the house Harry could hear the cries and howls. James was explaining that the Wolfsbane was actually helping and that Remus sounded better than he had in their school days, which did nothing to calm Harry as he thought of how horrible a past Remus must have had.

He finally closed the book with a snap and tossed it onto the desk in front of him. Heading into his room he stripped of his nightclothes that he'd put on not two hours before and made his way to the overly large walk-in shower, hoping that the beat of the spray on his head would drown out the howls and cries of pain that his father said would probably last another hour or two. The initial transformation was the hardest, being alone was next. As Remus now had the double team of the Wolfsbane and Sirius as Padfoot, once the change was complete the noise level would be greatly reduced.

Harry couldn't wait to learn the Animagus transformation so he could join his 'uncle' and godfather on these nights. Oddly enough, both Sirius and his father had talked to him about it, separate from one another. Sirius obviously didn't know Harry's mind was hosting the ghosts or spirits or whatever of his parents, and James had broached the subject first, unaware that Sirius was planning to as well. Harry was also planning on bringing it up with the Coalition at the mass sleepover that was planned for the near future. He knew the group would be on board with it, he was just unsure how difficult it would be to teach them all en masse.

Harry slept fitfully that night. True though it was that Remus' cries of pain had ceased by the time he'd exited the shower, his imagination had no trouble concocting all manner of horrid images of Remus in anguish from severely deformed limbs. So it was with acute relief that he spotted his honorary uncle sitting at the breakfast table looking haggard, but otherwise unharmed. Harry knew that Remus had gone through this change on a monthly basis since the man was a five year old boy, but that knowledge did noting to ease the heartache he felt for the Were. On the contrary, it was all to easy to imagine a young Remus, who should have only been worried about what to play and when he would start loosing baby teeth, going through such a painful experience, and knowing that it would happen every month for the rest of his life.

~*oo*~

A week later, the three were heading back inside from a day of swimming and riding the Abraxans, whom they'd named Lumina (the palomino mare) and Oscuro (the liver chestnut stallion). Harry was talking a mile a minute about his brief flight on the back of Oscuro (before Sirius had guided the stallion to ground) when Neepy popped into being just inside the doorway. She was wringing her hands in obvious distress and hopping from one foot to the other.

"Neepy, what is it?" Harry asked worriedly, he'd never seen his normally cheerful elf like this.

"There be's peoples in you's trunk house, Master Harry!" she squeaked anxiously, "They's be in a bad way! Getting's blood all over the floor!"

Harry went from confusion to shock to terror. He raced through the house to his room, flung open the lid of his trunk, and practically leapt into the rooms below. The sight that greeted him there was one of darkest nightmares. Draco lay sprawled on the floor where he'd fallen, obviously unconscious and Harry, for one, was glad of it. Draco's right leg and both his arms were bent at impossible angles and his face was badly bloodied. Lucius Malfoy was kneeling over his still wife, spell after spell leaping from his wand, slowly closing a horrifying slash that ran the length of her spine, the longest of many that crisscrossed the woman's' once flawless skin. Lucius' own wounds were just as terrible. He was casting with his left hand as his right arm was hanging limp and blackened at his side, his usual blond locks were died blood red from the hideous gash that began at his temple and curved around behind his ear. His jaw sat at an awkward angle and Harry knew instinctively that it too, was broken.

Sirius, who had followed Harry into the trunk with Remus, immediately began healing spells on Draco while Remus did the same for Lucius. As soon as his jaw was mended the Malfoy patriarch told them what had caused their injuries. At once Sirius called Darby, the head elf of the Potter properties and told him to find the Malfoy elves and assist them in removing every item from Malfoy Manor and take it to their family vault.

Lucius thanked him solemnly but sadly shook his head as he finished healing the wound on his wife's back.

"It's too late," he said mournfully sitting back and allowing Remus to heal his head wound, "They've already gotten what they wanted."

"Who was it," Remus asked after he'd finished, "and what did they take?"

'They were a group of ex-death eaters," he said softly, "and they took an artefact entrusted to me by the dark lord. A small leather bound book; a diary, infused with part of the dark lord's soul."

A/N: Oh my goodness! Can it be true? Can this be real? Did Power of Erised really post the first chapter of the continuation of Spirits Within? YES! Indeed it is true! The next instalment has Finally Begun! HOORAY! For real though, sorry it took so long, RL and all that. Hope you enjoyed it!