Chapter 21: Rituals

Pairing: HP/LM

Rating: R

Warning: Slash, angst, M/M, Mpreg

Disclaimer: Not mine, though I wish they were. Sigh, if wishes were Harry Potter characters I'd have my own personal Harem. The Thistleton Hotel really exists and I have never been in there. I am not making any money out of this and use the Hotel name purely because it was in the right local and I liked how it looked from the outside. Trust me, if you try to sue me, it won't get you any money cos I'm dirt broke already!

Archived: ask please

Feedback: Desperately needed…

A/N: Hi all.. I'm sorry this took so long. I actually had it ready and done last week, and posted the unbetaed version up on my yahoo group. Unfortunately, the semester started and so I was unable to tackle the corrections my lovely beta Ruhgozler made. All hail Ruhgozler, the queen of dealing with my horrible grammar!! Anyways, here it is, hope you enjoy it, I know it's rather short. What can I say, term's starting and I'm taking a ton of hours this semester and working as well as interning as well. That will either not give me any time to write at all or else spur me on to write more in procrastination from doing homework. We shall see... Thanks to all who reviewed! I'm sorry I cannot take the time to answer you all now, but honestly, your feedback is appreciated and I really love them all. It spurs me on to write more. Just a last note then you all can get to the story... I really do post on my yahoogroup earlier then FFnet, so, if you are interested in joining, the link to it is on my author's profile page. It's coming soon to the nice slashy bits with the NC17 parts which I will not be posting here so....

Please, enjoy the chapter and Read and Review!!

Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Somewhere in Scotland, September 1, 1995, Midnight or thereabouts...

Harry's POV

It was something of a ritual, started his first night at Hogwarts. He continued it every year since. It ... calmed him, soothed him, geared him up for the new school year and whatever horrors Voldemort decided to visit upon him this time around. He would sit on the ample window sill of his dorm room, silent, staring out the window and petting Hedwig.

A Muggle psychoanalyst would say he was putting the past summer behind him, sorting it all out, dealing with it, and then putting it all away as it filing it somewhere in him brain. All he knew was that it was what he needed to do. It was such a switch each year, going from Harry the Freak to Harry the Boy-Who-Lived. It is was a wonder that living with such a dichotomy, he was not schizophrenic already. Sitting there, he could almost feel the skin of Harry the Freak sloughing off, and Harry the hero-freak-who-wouldn't-die emerge. However, this time around, instead of focusing his thoughts on the upcoming school year, Harry found them straying to the few weeks spent in the company of the Malfoys.

Strangely enough, he had had one of the best times of his life then, for he had actually experienced the type of family life he had always dreamed of. Granted, the Weasleys were an amazing family, but he always had felt slightly lost amongst the crowd and the bustle. Growing up like he had, he appreciated quiet talk and camaraderie more then anything, for that is hard to fake and therefore more meaningful to him. Oh, it was great to be immediately accepted and he loved the Weasleys for that and much more, but the time spent with Dray and Lucius was precious to him in a much different manner.

It was almost as if he had found his niche in the world, a tiny little Harry-shaped place he had carved out for himself in between Dray and Lucius. He didn't have to hold back, didn't have to worry about them suddenly withdrawing their affection because something new and freakish about him came to light. He could fully be himself, and that was his idea of family in everyway, his ideal.

And now, he felt a sense of loss. Lucius was so far away now, and Dray might as well be since they had to revert to their old relationship for appearance sake. It scared him in ways he had never felt before this separation, and for the first time since he had learned he was a wizard, he was wishing it was summer again, and he could be back in their cozy little suite arguing with Dray over some silly little thing and then dragging Lucius in to referee.

Suddenly, his reverie was broken as a magnificent peregrine falcon dive-bombed Hedwig through the open window, pulling up short just before coming into contact with the hastily vacated sill. Calming Hedwig down, Harry turned to the preening raptor and laughed.

"Hello Honey. Did you have to do that? I'm sure you did. Had fun? What does Dray want?"

Trying to soothe a sulking Hedwig, who couldn't understand why her master left her for so long then came back and talked to horrible, arrogant birds who had no manners whatsoever, Harry reached over and detached the message tied to Honey's leg. Absently petting the falcon's head, he perused the note with a smile on his face. Lucius' inherent arrogance was passed down even to his pets and retainers.

' If you are up, and I know you are, father's here. Meet in Severus' rooms.'

"Well Hedwig, faced with a royal summons, I suppose we have to obey don't we? Why don't you come along and I'll introduce you to them. Lucius was interested in meeting you. You'll like him, I promise. "

And so, looking smugly pleased with itself, a black blur with laughing green eyes descended from Gryffindor tower, closely followed by a snowy owl. The pair flitted from shadow to shadow, moving silently to escape notice and yet daringly enough they seemed to be playing some kind of game, for the owl would swoop down sometimes and peck lightly at the panther, and the panther would turn, and snap at the owl. He always seemed to come just shy of the luminescent white feathers though, whether by accident or design, who knows.