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ooOoOoo

..::Draconis Sanguen::..

Chapter 7

Long and slender, perfectly smooth without a single blemish, the strange white material seemed to glow so differently from the roughly handled darkness of his own wand. Holding the two wands into the air, he stared as sunlight silhouetted the two magical items. With a sigh, Harry dropped his arms over his eyes, the wands dropping carelessly onto the scarlet sheets.

Having seen Malfoy's wand abandoned on the floor of the Great Hall, Harry had placed the object in his pocket without thought before leaving for the Headmaster's office. The wand that had taunted him in battle now lay within his grasp, while the master of the wand lay in the infirmary under Harry's own influence.

Shame flooded the Gryffindor as Malfoy's dead eyes haunted his vision. The same hoary eyes that had challenged and pushed him to prove himself as a great wizard, sparking with life, had been dead to the world, filled with anguish. Yet, beyond the regret and shame his actions had caused him, Harry could not help but feel a strange sense of compassion and understanding for his Slytherin rival. He knew that only the darkest of memories could cause such a ghostly expression to break the icy façade that had been carried with pride and distain. As the famed 'Boy-who-lived', Harry Potter had enough of his own dark memories and painful experiences to last him a lifetime.

Rolling to his side, he pulled the white wand back to him and gently traced his fingers over the silver threads that adorned the material. Closing his eyes, he attempted to force himself to conjure his own worst memory. Yet, only the image of Sirius turning his canine back and trotting to Malfoy played within his head. The smirk that had haunted his dreams blossomed on the aristocrat's face as his eyes twinkled at the victory, while dark brown pleaded for understanding.

Flinging the damned wand across the room angrily, Harry glared as it slid across the carpet, coming to rest beneath Neville's bed. Crossing his arms across his chest, Harry glared at the unseen item.

"Harry?" A soft voice called through the door. A familiar face appeared as Hermione slid into the room, slowly closing the door to the seventh year Gryffindor male dormitory behind her. Making her way to the only occupied bed in the room, she gently sat upon the mattress and calmly gazed at her best friend, patiently awaiting the explosion she knew was eminent.

Gryffindor tower was silent. After the exciting breakfast, Hermione had proceeded to classes, all the while searching for the familiar mussed dark hair of her famous friend to appear within one of their shared doorways. Once NEWT level Transfiguration had been released, Hermione had hurried back to Gryffindor tower in hopes of speaking with the conflicted boy before the rest of his roommates were able to cloud his mind with praise.

Tiring of watching him glare at nothing, holding in anger that would be better released, she edged Harry along. "Well?" She questioned impatiently, glancing at her watch.

"Well what?" He responded shortly.

"Advanced Magicks begins in less than an hour and, frankly, I would like to get there early for a good seat so if you want to scream about how horribly rotten Malfoy is and how much he deserved the Malus Memoria Curse and how you don't feel sorry for the miserable ferret in the least, I'm waiting. Just keep in mind you have thirty minutes before I walk out this door, whether you are coming to class with me or not." Light brown eyes pierced emerald green smartly.

The humor that bubbled within him at the girl's priorities chased away the storm of anger that had darkened his eyes. "You would go to class, even if I were lying here bleeding to death." He stated dryly.

"How else am I supposed to learn how to keep you alive? Besides, if you really were bleeding so terribly, I already know how to heal you so your statement is as pointless as it is ridiculous." Hermione stated matter-of-factly.

Propping himself on his side, a lopsided smile upon his face, Harry gazed at his long time friend fondly. "Of course it's ridiculous, we would only be in trouble if something truly serious happened, like if Aragog attacked the castle and I was injured. You would be far too busy protecting your precious boyfriend to save me." He said with an exaggerated wink.

Swatting at the boy's arm, she smiled back, happy to see him smiling once more. The pressure of their world's expectation was far too much for one person to shoulder alone. She and Ron had sworn to help him hold the world up, but it seemed that even they could not help hold such a weight. "So, what did the Headmaster have to say?" She asked cautiously, knowing that such subjects could cause unexpected emotional outbursts from her friend.

Laying his head upon his arm, Harry sighed. "What does Dumbledore usually have to say? He offered me a lemon drop, which I tell you has Veritaserum in it, and proceeded to give me the updates on the Order's most recent movements against Voldemort. Jones is still with the seer in Austria. There has been no success in finding a seer that can confirm or deny the Prophesy, nor one that can speak of anything about the war. The ministry is acting as cooperative as they can be, after all, it is the ministry. Aurors are being retrained and tested, ranked and prepared for a true war. Unspeakables are currently, well, doing unspeakable things." He said with a slight grin. "All I can say is something about creating spells and searching for Voldemort's hold. Hit wizards are on standby. Otherwise, no real updates. In fact, Malfoy's return is news to everyone."

Light brown eyes, glazed over by the report of predictable updates had jumped to attention. "What do you mean, Harry? Someone had to know where Malfoy was or that he was returning. I thought there was a trace on him or on his magic signature at least."

Shaking his head humorlessly, Harry tonelessly replied. "Dumbledore only knew he was coming back the day before school started back up. All attempts to trace his signature failed. You know how we have that map table with each person's signature being traced with a little ball of light?" He questioned, ignoring Hermione's annoyed expression toward his uncomplicated explanation for the complex spell work and ingenuity that created the Order's mapping trace. "Well when we attempted to add Malfoy to it, his light flared and then all of the lights on the board went out. We had to retrace everyone on the board after that. When we tried to add Malfoy again, the same thing happened. After three attempts, we were so tired of retracing others that we gave up."

"Anyways, Dumbledore gave me a little speech about how Malfoy may have acted like a prat, but I should mend fences, build brides and such. From what I can tell, he either thinks that Malfoy is on the fence between sides in the War and wants him on ours, or thinks that Malfoy can be converted to our side." Running a hand through his thick locks, Harry sighed heavily. "Dumbledore is just so damn optimistic. Malfoy was raised by a Death Eater, to be a Death Eater, with all of the morals and beliefs of a Deatheater. He has never shown any redeeming qualities."

Playing with the bed sheets that lay in disarray, she spoke softly, her words edged with worry. "If Dumbledore thinks he can be redeemed, there may be a chance, Harry. I know you don't trust him." Chuckling humorouslessly she amended her statement. "I know you don't trust either of them. Dumbledore is known to only show one or two cards before he's ready for us to know his full hand, and even then, there is a whole deck up his sleeve. It could be anything from a set up for us to uncover something great, to make us stronger, or to truly bring him over. We both know that Dumbledore covets power, and, even though we may never say it, Malfoy is powerful. He'd be a powerful ally. He has the knowledge we could very well need; he could be better than any spy." Brown met green softly. "Beyond the simple fact that he seems to be a living Imperius with the affect he has on those around him, despite everything he stands for, even you have admitted that he has power."

Harry slowly sat up and covered his friend's hand. "I know, Hermione. I remember what it was to realize that Dumbledore wanted me for power. And, trust me, the past two years has been very good to Malfoy. He is even more powerful. Power begets power. But 'Mione, Tom Riddle was powerful too. If it weren't for you and Ron and the Weasleys and everything I have here, I could have easily found myself in Voldemort's position. Malfoy…he is in that position, isn't he?"

Hermione smiled, her eyes glimmering in the dim light of the dormitory. "Every time I think you've grown up, you get a little older when I'm not looking, Harry. Were we ever children?"

"I seem to remember a trio of Gryffindors making mischief and fighting with evil Slytherins in the hallways, serving detentions and fighting trolls together." He replied with a smile.

Laughing, the two embraced. The door to Gryffindor tower opened softly as a red head peered in and grinned at the two seventh years. "Hey now mate, no stealing my girl."

Harry laughed as Hermione pushed away to swat at the nearing Prefect. Watching the two playful teenagers, Harry could almost see the same eleven year old boy calling a bushy haired girl a 'know-it-all', sending her to cry for a day and heading the trio into their first adventure, beginning what would be a lifetime of memories.

It was Hermione's serious eyes that forced him back to current time. "So, what are you going to do?"

Harry stood, walking towards the window, gazing out over the landscape that had become so familiar, become home to him. "Even without knowing about the Prophesy, the entire Wizarding world expects me to be their savior, simply because my mother was able to prevent the Killing Curse from succeeding. She couldn't save herself, but she saved me. Voldemort killed my mother, my father, destroyed my life before I even knew it existed. Every time I have fought Voldemort, it was never the expectation of this world or revenge for myself that caused me to fight back. I remember when I first saw my parents through the cold touch of the Mirror of Erised when I was eleven and when I first heard my mother's voice, screams in death, when I was thirteen. I fight Voldemort for what he did to my parents, for what he does to families everywhere, not because some prophesy says that I am the only one that has the chance to destroy him."

Turning back to his friends, he regarded them carefully, his eyes gauging their reaction as he questioned. "How am I supposed to ask Malfoy to fight with us, against Voldemort, when it was us that killed his mother?"

ooOoOoo

Sapphire eyes peered into the dim infirmary, searching for the achingly familiar form of his fellow Slytherin. Seeing only one bed occupied, silent feet made their way to the still form that lay curled beneath the thin white sheet. A hesitant hand reached to prod the unmoving form before shying away as the body stirred. Hoary eyes sleepily peered through charcoal lashes to see the painfully thin silhouette of his charge hovering carefully out of his reach.

Pushing sleep from his thoughts, Draco blinked and slowly sat up in the small bed. Hands raked through moon-kissed locks before rubbing sleepy eyes and covering the yawn that sought to escape his mouth. All the while, the patiently waiting Slytherin remained in the safety of the shadows for the familiar gesture of his house patron. A slight nod and smoothing of the rough cotton sheets in the small space of the infirmary bed was all it took to have the frail form seated on the bed next to the Slytherin's Ice Prince.

"Sorry," Theodore Nott softly said as large dark blue eyes, glazed over with lack of sleep, blinked. Intertwining his hands within the white material of the sheets, the small Slytherin averted his eyes from the searching gaze of his protector.

Sighing, Draco dropped back onto the bed. "S'kay." He said his voice rough with sleep. "Nightmares 'gain, pet?"

Theodore cautiously laid back, curling up against Draco's strength, relaxing in his warmth. Shaking his head slowly, he peered up at light haired boy. Reaching out, he flicked a pale strand of hair from his protector's face before curling back up against his chest. "Fight'n, 'Co."

Puzzled, Draco stroked the frailer boy's ebony locks. "About me?" He asked, more awake with every word.

"Yeah." Theodore sighed.

"Yeah." Draco replied painfully, his chin placed protectively on the boy's head, cradling the smaller body to his own.

Hands clutched to cloth as sleepy words escaped the boy's child-like mouth. "N'matter wha', I'm on 'r side, 'Co."

A bitter look passed over Draco's face as he pat the boy's back, arms encircling the precious gem of the Slytherin house like a dragon intent on protecting his horde.

ooOoOoo

Fists roughly connected with the harsh stone walls as tanzanite orbs flared angrily, the fire of the Slytherin common room flaring in response, lighting the room more intensely with its green flames. Ignoring the blood that dripped from his tightly clenched fists, staining the pale rug beneath him with droplets of sanguine liquid, Blaise turned to face the Slytherin Council.

Elegantly sprawled upon the dark leather furniture as only the wealthy can, the seventh year Slytherins watched the emotional display of their leader in absentia dispassionately. Behind their detached facades, worry laced their cores. The stabilizing unit of their social platform was crumbling, leaving each of them in a precarious position if it were to fall.

Curious, more than frightened by Blaise's temperamental reaction to the unknown, Pansy displaced the tiny white kitten that had taken up residence on her lap. Handing the sleepy creature to Tracy Davis, she stood and crossed her arms over her chest, her cerulean eyes darkening with impatience and defiance as she stared at their interim leader. "So," she led off smartly, forcing him to look back at her. "Will you be telling the rest of us just what has you so angry or will we be forced to play that muggle game of twenty questions Pritchard has become so fond of?"

A dangerous glare was the simple response as Blaise continued to stand by the fire, his mind playing the events that had occurred in the Infirmary over and over again. Draco had shut him out. His best friend had looked him in the eye and truly lied to him, for what Blaise could only see as the first time.

Silver eyes, lost in a world unseen, gazed blindly at the Infirmary walls. Tremors shook the thin boy's frame as laid, unmoving. Lips, pale and cold to the touch, moved to a nearly unseen, but so familiar pattern. 'Advada Kadevra.'

"Well, obviously you are angry. Usually I would suggest a Gryffindor, especially after today, but even you were not this enraged after Potter's display this morning. Worried, yes. Angry, of course. But not to the point of destruction, especially in front of witnesses." Pansy coldly critiqued.

"I suppose it is a good thing the younger years were already sent to bed." Tracey said tonelessly as she gazed down at the sleeping kitten.

Running her eyes over the boy she had known for so very long, Pansy noted the far away look in his eyes and the stiffness of his stance. "I have only bore witness to one such tantrum of yours, Blaise. I quite fondly remember the destruction you wreaked upon your father's library when Lucius corresponded to your father that Draco would not be able to entertain you that day. What was the name of the boy he was forced to play with instead?"

Shaken, Draco pushed away from him. Before he could reach for his long time friend, he could only watch as silver eyes darkened, careful shields clamping forcefully over the emotion that had been so visible only moments before. "Nothing," Draco stated harshly. "I saw nothing."

From her own seat, Millicent smirked conspiratorially. "The son of the Norweign Diplomat you mean?" Pansy nodded gleefully. "I remember that as well. He nearly burned the whole wing down just because Draco was unable to play with him that day."

"Jealousy," Pansy sneered, "is a very unflattering characteristic, Blaise. Simply because Draco is spending his time away from Slytherin, does not mean he does not care. I hardly believe Draco exactly planned to spend his first day back in the infirmary." Dark eyes narrowed. "So if you are going to get angry, direct that anger towards Potter and the rest of Gryffindor, where it belongs, rather than here at your fellow Slytherins." She spat.

Tanzanite orbs strayed from the flames and locked with fiery blue. Simple words formed and left his lips, stunning the room to silence.

Leaning against the infirmary door, he brought his hands over his shoulder, the silken material still warm from the body that had been comforted on his shoulder just moments ago. Frowning, he peered at his shoulder where his hand sought to brush away the tears Draco would never lay claim to.

"He lied."

'Advada Kadevra.'

ooOoOoo

Clumsily, Neville made his way through the silent dormitory. While other Gryffindors had been at Advanced Magicks, he had been in the library, scouring the shelves for new texts on Herbology. The volumes that Professor Sprout had loaned him over the summer lay beside his bed, awaiting the return to their owner as he had finished reading them early in the vacation.

Tripping over the corner of the rug, he fought to keep his balance; the stack of volumes in his arm trembled precariously. Regaining his footing successfully, Neville breathed a sigh of relief. Placing the pile of texts on his bed, he scowled as his good luck was diminished as the top book fell to the floor. After pushing the remaining books further back on the bed in order to prevent more falling to the ground, he knelt to pick up that which had fallen.

Curious chocolate eyes caught sight of pearly white, hidden by the shadows of his bed. Pushing the Herbology text away from the darkness beneath his bed, he stretched for the object that had gained his attention. Unable to reach it, he removed his wand from his pocket.

"Accio," he said forcefully.

The summoned object flew from its place on the floor and into his hand. With a proud grin, Neville placed his wand back in his pocket and hummed as he stood before turning his attention to what he now held in hand. Eyebrows furrowed in puzzlement as he stared at the glimmering white wand, whose surface was now smudged by fingerprints and dust. The silver swirls and ivory frame captivated Neville as his fingers traced over the complex runes that were so deeply ingrained into its perfect form.

Removing his own wand polishing kit, he carefully cleaned the magical instrument. Making sure not to leave a smudge of his own, he wrapped the wand in a handkerchief and placed it beneath his pillow. The wand was not unfamiliar to him; he had been in the Great Hall, watching as his fellow Gryffindor had engaged in a duel with Draco Malfoy. He had seen the very wand he now hoarded beneath his pillow in the capable hands of his old Slytherin tormentor.

Settling himself on the bed, his back against the pillow, he chose a book from amongst the many and opened the leather bound volume carefully. Slowly, he lost himself within the text, escaping from world and its complexities, forgetting St. Mugo's and his parents, Voldemort and the War. Yet, a tingling sensation at his back dutifully reminded him of his hidden treasure, urging him to return it to the only hand it had deemed appropriate to wield it.

ooOoOoo

Those broken eyes haunted him. Sighing, he leaned against the balcony rails, a simple cigarette dangling from his lips. A rainbow of haunted eyes would forever mark his days and nights. Browns and greens dead to the world, captured in fear and horror. Lunar gold broken with betrayal, while emerald fire silently died with disappointment. And hauntingly ethereal silver forever shattered, each shard a reflection of nothingness.

Glancing over his shoulder, Sirius Black stared at the sleeping forms of Draco Malfoy and Theodore Nott. Guilt overwhelmed him as he watched his blonde charge's face twist with emotion; yet, as Theodore's fingers twined in the young man's long locks, his forehead pressing tighter to his chest, Draco's face smoothed out, his own arms tightening around the younger Slytherin.

Turning away from the slumbering students, Sirius took in the rush of nicotine and removed the thin stick of tobacco, allowing it to dangle from his fingers loosely. Exhaling the smoke slowly, he watched the cloud drift through the September air.

Instead, he turned his thoughts to the situation at hand. The duel had been, on one hand, unexpected, but in a completely other manner, he had been waiting for an explosion of some kind. He knew that, despite Harry's dismissal, his godson had been hurt by his absence and inattention. This morning had simply been one outlet of that anger.

Draco Malfoy.

How many times had he heard that name, or seen it scrawled hastily on parchment, as Harry detailed his life at Hogwarts to him? The constant tales of rivalry and the history of dispute, how could he have expected it to end now? He had never thought to ask Draco to stop, not even to calm down. He had simply thought he would bridge the gap, that his relationship with the two teenagers would end the rivalry. He had never counted on their twin possessive natures and pride.

Harry did not even know that Draco knew his true identity. Harry merely saw his godfather, back from a near two-year absence, choosing his rival over their bond, a bond he had only known to exist for little more than three years. Three years, in which, he had been in hiding to avoid Azkaban.

Closing his eyes in defeat, he took one last drag from his cigarette dropping it onto the ground and grinding it with his heel. The situation was so complicated. He felt as though he was being forced to choose, his godson or his cousin, both he felt some duty for, both he cared for and both who cared for him. Were he to choose...

The sound of door hinges in the infirmary brought the convict from his contemplations and, on instinct, he melted into the shadows and changed to his canine form. Reentering the infirmary, he watched as Madame Pomfrey stopped to frown at the sleeping pair of boys before proceeding to check on her patient.

Ignoring the smaller Slytherin, she ran through a series of spells before nodding in satisfaction. As she turned to leave, a dark blur of fur bound onto the bed, startling her. A disapproving frown appeared as she clicked her tongue at the dog's appearance. "Well, you certainly do not belong in here." She muttered quietly as she moved to take hold of the canine's thick fur and remove him from the infirmary.

Aristocratic hands twined in the black fur of his companion at the familiar weight upon the bed, battling the mediwitch's resolve to remove the creature. Feeling the pull against his fingers, Draco murmured in protest, tightening his told.

Madame Pomfrey's frown softened at the boy's actions. "Alright then, but out with you in the morning."

Lying down, Sirius watched as the witch left the infirmary. Closing his eyes, he lost himself in the sensation of Draco's fingers grasping his fur. The familiar presence was reassuring to both as the blonde's fingers unconsciously twirled the strands of fur. Relaxing, Sirius slowly slipped into sleep, his breathing evened out as he completely forgot about duty and life's complications.

For the brief hours before dawn, he could feel fresh air of his travels and the freedom he had been so briefly afforded. In his dreams, there were no worries, only laughter. In sleep, he had found a place where broken eyes had been healed, reflecting whole souls once more.

ooOoOoo

Staring at the ageing wooden door to the dungeon classroom, Draco took a deep calming breath, slowly exhaling as he reached for the handle. Pushing the door open, he stared straight ahead, ignoring the room full of eyes that had turned towards him, watching as he made his way to the front of the classroom. After handing a slip of parchment to his godfather, he took a seat at the vacant station, front row center to Snape's lecture podium.

With a nod of acknowledgement towards the blonde Slytherin, Severus Snape continued the first N.E.W.T.S. Potions lecture of the year.

"Unlike previous years in this classroom, the potions you brew will not originate from directions within your text or upon the board. This is a NEWTS level class and the expectations are beyond that of any other NEWTS level course you will take. The past six years will be brought to life for you and you alone. On your first day in this classroom, I told you I would teach you to brew fame, bottle glory, and put a stopper in death. Now is the time that you learn the true meaning of those words."

Gazing about the room, he took in the faces of students from all four houses of Hogwarts. "I expect that, as seventh years, there will be no interruptions and no horseplay. All work is to be completed on time with the level of comprehension and effort required from any other N.E.W.T.S. course. Now, shall we see who is prepared and has read their summer assignments?"

Obsidian eyes narrowed on one dozing figure in particular. With a flick of his wand, the glass inkpot in front of Harry Potter exploded, the ink and glass shards disappearing as the sound snapped all attention to the smirking professor. "Mr. Potter," Snape sneered, "describe the fundamental differences between somnus and sopor potions in both the brewing method as well as the ingredients, and be sure to explain why these differences in potion preparation exist."

ooOoOoo

Carefully, Draco tied the thin green strings around the roll of parchment and stowed his Potions notes in one of many parchment tubes in his messenger bag. Running a hand through his hair, he got up from his seat and made his way from the empty room. As he made his way through the door, he glanced back and quietly bid farewell to his Head of House, receiving a small smile in return.

He had not been in Slytherin territory since his first night back, unsure of his welcome since his argument with Blaise the night before. He knew, however, he had to resolve things with his friend before the entire house fell to the consequences of a broken leadership.

A hand falling upon his shoulder stirred him from his reverie. Turning, his hand going to the small inner pocket of his custom made Italian robes. Eyes widened as his fingers found nothing more than silk, he found himself staring into familiar tanzanite orbs. A sign of relief escaped his lips, which twitched into an apologetic smile. "Blaise."

Nodding, the other Slytherin raked a hand through his dark curls before bringing his fingers to massage a temple. "Look Draco, we need to talk." He stated abruptly.

Glancing around, finding the hallway empty, he nodded. "Here or..."

Impatiently Blaise interrupted. "Here's fine. Everyone else is either in the common room or class. When is your next class?"

"N.E.W.T.S. History of Magic after lunch." Draco stated tersely.

Conjuring a bench in an alcove of the hallway, Blaise turned from his friend, hiding his eyes from the blonde. "Take a seat."

The pair sat together in silence, listening as the footsteps of the students of Hogwarts echoed through the corridor. Shaking his head, Blaise turned to the young Lord. "I suppose the first question should be 'are you feeling any better,' but frankly I don't give a shit. A better question right now is whether or not you still have a desire to continue with our plans."

Draco's head jerked up, his silver eyes wide at Blaise's harsh words. Angrily, he pushed himself out of his seat. Pacing back and forth in front of the dark haired Slytherin, he growled out his words. "You expect, after three years of endless strategizing, three years of striving to convince not just you, but every Slytherin that walks these halls to join us in the endeavor, three years of working my arse off for you not even knowing if I would ever see you again, that I would want to simply abandon it all." Turning his back to his housemate, he stared at the wall. "After denying you the pleasure of my nightmare, you believe I am a traitor, not just to a cause, but to Slytherin?"

A hand weakly reached out, falling limply, as heliotrope eyes softened, the anger and betrayal evaporating from the Slytherin's frame. Slouching in his seat, Blaise sighed. "I did not mean to sound as though you were a traitor. I know you would never betray us. I-"

"You were worried. And frightened out of your mind." Shaking his head humorlessly, he turned back to his best friend. "I know, Blaise. We haven't been friends for this long for nothing. Let me guess, you went back to the common room and stewed in your anger by the fire until you exploded, causing an argument to break out in the common room. Thereafter you proceeded to drink yourself into a stupor, putting a rather large dent in the Slytherin stash. Waking up this morning, you, of course, had no hangover potion and refused to face Professor Snape. You know I keep plenty of the potions on hand, but my wards do not allow anyone to be in my room without me present, with the exception of Pansy, who would have refused to provide her assistance after the fact. Most likely, she spoke rather loudly in your direction all morning, pushed food in your face, all to aggravate your hangover."

Blaise gaped at him. "How did you know all of that?"

Smiling, Draco picked up Blaise's injured hand. "Fireplace right? I know you all too well and Pansy is rather predictable." Sitting back down, he turned to his long time friend and brushed a curl from his eyes. "I know it's been a damn long time since we had to do this Blaise," hoary eyes shined in the dim lights of the dungeon corridor, "but I can not, no, I will not answer to your demands like everyone else. If I feel the need to keep something from you, I will. I am the one who protects you, you and every other Slytherin. The fact that you are my dearest friend does not entitle you to my every thought, my every memory. I am not a child, do not coddle me. When I am ready, Blaise, and only when I am ready, I will tell you."

Turning away, he massaged his temple. "I will tell you everything Blaise, just wait."

Wrapping an arm around Draco's waist, Blaise rested his head on the blonde's shoulder. "When you're ready."

The two sat in silence, absorbing the presence of one another. The anger and tension had drained from their bodies, leaving comfortable familiarity. Smiling, Draco blew the stray curls from his face, laughing lightly as Blaise tightened his grip. "Alright then, let's get you a potion. I would like to attend my afternoon classes without you wrapped around me like a cheap fur coat. I assume you can make it back to the common room with me?"

Grinning, Blaise wrapped his other arm around Draco's waist, hugging to the blonde Slytherin. Looking up, he bat his eyes coyly. "Maybe if you carried me..." The two boys began laughed as they stood and turned to begin their trek back to Slytherin territory.

Making their way through the hallways, Draco felt as though the two years in Venice were nothing. Approaching the entrance to the Slytherin common room, Draco admired the latest feature in Slytherin security. A marble snake lay in coils at the common room entrance. By sliding a wand into the small slot the snake encircled, the magical signature of a wand could be read, and the door would open. However, if that magical signature had not been approved for entrance into Slytherin territory, the house would be alerted. Smirking at the ingenuity, Draco reached into his robes for his own wand. Finding the slim, special made pocket empty, he was once again reminded of his earlier reaction when Blaise had startled him. Eyes narrowed in concentration, fighting panic, he tried to remember where he had last held his wand.

Grabbing hold of Blaise's wrist, he faced his friend. "Did you retrieve my wand from the floor of the Great Hall after I lost consciousness?"

Eyes widened, taking in the ashen pallor of the blonde's face and the tremors in his hands. "I don't have your wand, Draco. I transported you to the hospital wing as soon as you fell. I assumed Professor Snape picked it up and delivered it to you personally in the infirmary."

Desperation surged through him at the thought of loosing his wand. The familiar white surface called to him even now, his fingers aching for the familiar safety he found within its warmth.

ooOoOoo

Frantically pushing back the thick duvet, emerald green eyes searched endless sea of crimson and gold. Roughly, he pulled the material from its resting place on his bed and flung it to the floor. Unable to find the object of his desire among the bed clothing, Harry dropped to the floor and searched the dark space beneath his bed. Sighing, he pulled his head from the floor. Surrounded by the colors of Griffindor, he rest his head back upon the bed and sighed.

Blue eyes twinkled with humor as he watched his friend's mad search. Shaking his head, Ron knelt beside Harry and placed a hand upon the dejected brunette's shoulder. "Didn't find it mate?"

Harry groaned dejectedly and shook his head in the negative.

"Well, maybe his wand found him. That can happen, you know. Mum swore up and down she lost her wand once. Left it at some muggle shop when she was helping Dad hunt down some flying carpets, she did. She spent two days looking for it. Then, one day out of the blue, she found it in her pocket. 'Course, that was only after we went two days on Dad's cooking. Good thing she found it too. We would have starved to death if Dad cooked everyday."

"I bet your Mum would have been just fine if she cooked the muggle way."

Ron's eyes widened dramatically. "Without spells? Mum went near crazy without her wand for two days. If she had to cook without her wand, it would be a disaster. Believe me, Harry. It just can't be done."

Laughing, Harry stood up. "You really think Malfoy's wand is back with Malfoy?"

"Sure," Ron stated, his head bobbing emphatically. "Magic calls to magic. If Malfoy bonded with his wand, it won't stay away from him for long. It really ought to smarten up. Why would anything ever want to be close to Malfoy?"

With a grin, Harry tossed the covers onto the bed and marched towards the door. "If all the food left in the world was at the table with Malfoy, even you would sit down."

"Nah," Ron yelled to his retreating friend. "I wouldn't be dumb enough to loose my wand. I'd just conjure up my own table of food."

ooOoOoo

"Fuck," Draco said as he dropped his head upon the table in the Great Hall.

Chuckling, Blaise gracefully fell into his own seat next to Draco. "It was not as horrible as you are making it to be."

A groan was the only response he received as he nodded to the other Slytherin's around the table. A sly grin played upon his face as he leaned towards the Slytherin leader. "What would your mother say if she were to see you slouched over a table in public."

"She would say it was well deserved after the hell I was just put through." Draco responded flatly.

With a snort, Pansy leaned into the conversation, her voice a high falsetto. "My little Draco has turned into a common muggle. All of those lessons wasted, all that time to make him into a gentlemen ruined." Clearing her throat, she flashed a roughish grin. "I believe that is a bit more Lady Malfoy's style."

Sitting up, Draco smiled one of those rare and true smiles and shook his head. "I agree. That is nearly the exact lecture I would receive."

"And then your dad would have to chime in as well, 'Co." Theodore softly added.

"Sit up boy. Do not worry your mother with your plebian ways. Act like the pureblood you are instead of some mudblood street boy." Crabbe and Goyle added en tandem.

"Yes, sir." Draco said stiffly, forcing the smile from his face as he corrected his posture. "Is this better sir?"

"Don't slouch. Posture is the key. Square your shoulders, you look positively American." Pansy demanded in a high octave. Grinning, she reached and straightened Draco's back sharply. "Better, but we have much more to do."

The seventh year Slytherins laughed loudly. "Merlin I remember that woman. Of all etiquette instructors, she had to have been the worst." Draco stated through the laughter.

Smiling, the Slytherin ignored the stares of the other Houses, reaching for the meal before them instead. As he reached for the roast, Draco glanced at the Gryffindor table across the hall, finding a pair of green eyes watching him intently. Narrowing his eyes, he cast his infamous 'Malfoy smirk' in Harry's direction before turning back to his housemates.

"Back to my earlier complaint, defense can not be performed without a wand." Pointing his fork at his friend, he continued. "If I had been able to go to class yesterday, I might have known we were doing wand work. Besides, it's not my fault I don't have my wand. The werewolf could have been a bit more lenient. Three degrees of shielding simply can not be done wandless."

"Potter can do all ten degrees of shielding wandless." Tracey Davis interrupted. "He can perform nearly any spell without the aid of his wand."

Silver eyes widened as he turned to his fellow seventh year. "How did you come by this information? I was never made aware of this."

"Auror training sparked his abilities. He's been doing wandless spells in class in order to practice control. I had assumed you were already aware. After all, no one ever attempted to hide it."

"Dumbledore's orders," Pansy injected sharply. "The Gryffindor Patil overheard the Golden Trio talking about it in the common room."

"If information is laid before you as common knowledge rather than conjecture, there is no secret to be valued." Blaise stated blandly.

"Of course," Tracey pointed out. "If everyone knows he can perform spells wandlessly, we automatically assume the knowledge has no value. Why waste time telling a fact that every student in Hogwarts is aware of to the public?"

"Or Voldemort for that matter," Pansy added. "If the newspapers are silent and the students believe he already knows, then what we view as common knowledge is actually a secret shared by all."

Running a hand through his hair, Draco shook his head in disbelief. "How very clever." Draco stated as he picked up his fork and pushed at the food on the plate. Unheard knowledge passed through his lips as he voiced the truth that weighed upon his heart.

"Too bad he already knows."