The Black Prince

Chapter The Tenth

Charlie smiled indulgently as Asterion nuzzled the shiny white patch that was all that was left of his third-degree burn that had shocked Asterion into acting on his mating instincts and selecting him as his second mate.

The normally collected submissive was nuzzling and sniffing all around the formerly burned area, searching and scenting out any sign of remaining damage. It was rare to find him acting so obviously on instinct, his position in society and his power levels requiring the utmost of control and calm in his life. Being a Dovah submissive had little to do with either calm or self-control, most running on primitive instincts every second of every day especially when it came to their children.

Several days had passed since Charlie's arrival at Castle Black and all three of the mates were still being wary and stepping carefully around each other.

With being wounded, Charlie had no interest in fighting a dominance battle with Elias for the Alpha position, however temporary it might be with additional mates being anticipated, nor did Elias's pride allow him to start a fight where he would have an unfair advantage over the other dominant.

Feeling a push on his shoulders Charlie smirked and went willingly onto his back, his submissive straddling him as he traced the various shiny patches of skin that marked healing burn wounds that weren't serious enough to scar. Grasping his hips with his rough working-man's hands, he held him in place as Asterion gave him a startled look out of his black-and-silver eyes. Jabbing up with his hips, the dom ground himself against his little pchelen med, reveling in the heated blush that took over his face when the sub realized exactly what position he'd maneuvered himself into in his innocent inspection of Charlie's sun-kissed, freckle-marred, and fire-burned skin.

This was the first time they'd been left alone as Elias had taken several days' vacation from his businesses as he wasn't sure how long it would take Asterion to select a mate and then move him into Castle Black.

But now Elias was busy elsewhere and Charlie was more than ready to take advantage of the dominant's absence, tired of the other mate always calling a halt when their bedroom activities were starting to get good.

Charlie understood not wanting to rush Asterion. But there was a difference between being protective and being a right cock-blocking bastard. A difference Elias seemed to not understand.

"Pchelen med, my little love." Charlie said huskily as Asterion rose over him, brushing their chests together and stroking up against his painful arousal.

Asterion groaned lightly, nipping lightly at Charlie's slim, well-formed lips. His mate's faint accent got to him every time but when he slipped into the Bulgarian he'd picked up at the dragon preserve all of his blood immediately headed south.

"How brave are you feeling today, little love?" Charlie whispered temptingly, tunneling his hands into Asterion's hair making the submissive purr. Flexing his hips, Charlie flipped them hovering over the arousal flushed brunet.

"Brave." Asterion answered breathily, winding his arms around the dragon-tamer's firm shoulders. Charlie nipped lightly at his jaw before stealing a tongue-twining kiss in approval. "Very brave." He gasped as his dominant began trailing kisses down his neck and chest, undoing the buttons on Asterion's thin cotton shirt as he went before stopping at his navel and lavishing it with attention.

Hands dug into fire-brand hair, tugging restlessly as Asterion fell into sensations that were the same but at the same time very different from the ones he was used to feeling with Elias. Part of his brain, not completely fogged over from his dom's attentions, paid close mind to the differences as Charlie sensually ran his hands through his hair and caressed his sensitive neck and his sides just above his jutting hip bones. Even when Elias was making slow, thorough love to him his touches were filled to the brim with vibrant energy. And when they weren't going slow…

Elias was as passionate and fierce about making love with Asterion as he was about loving and protecting him. His vibrant energy and care overflowed into every aspect of his life, including his private moments with his submissive mate.

Charlie was as different as night to day.

The dragon-handler, an in-your-face tough, playful, and determined male, was a devout sensualist, lavishing Asterion with soft touches and slow kisses.

Nipping him lightly in warning, Charlie drew his full attention back to him as he lowered his hands to the laces of his leather pants. Moving with dexterous fingers, his dragon-tamer smirked as he found himself naked and spread out like a pagan offering on the silk sheets with his dom aroused and throbbing coming down over top of him.

Censored

A crash coming from inside the dueling studio had Asterion wincing and looking over at his father.

After coming home from working and visiting with his business partner Jericho, Elias had utterly lost his redheaded temper at the sight of his submissive cuddled up with Charlie and the scent of sex heavy in the Suite's air.

They'd been sniping ever since, Asterion having – knowingly or unknowingly – picked two mates with equally fierce natures, finally exploding and nearly knocking Asterion into a glass display cabinet in the family parlor where he had gone to try and escape the arguing. Severus had been summoned by a frantic Regulus when he saw Asterion stagger over and sit heavily on the settee, stunned from the accidental knock he'd taken. Furious and ice-cold, the older widowed dominant had instantly separated the embarrassed dominants and ordered them to either go outside or head upstairs to the padded dueling studios.

Growling and hissing all the way with an irritated Severus and worried Asterion following them. Asterion had tried to follow them into the room only to be stopped by a fist in the back of his shirt tugging him backwards. His father had given him one of his famous looks and said drily:

"Unless you want to have to pick another mate," Severus arched a brow. "Stay out here. They'll kill each other if you try and interfere."

"Why?" Asterion asked, honestly baffled.

"They're sorting out their dominance." His father explained with a patience he'd rarely shown any child but his own. "Try and stop them and it'll only make things worse."

So there they were, standing in the hallway. Severus was leaning against the wall, his potions case on the hall table next to his hip; while Asterion paced back and forth before the door.

Sometimes when there were only two dominant mates, dominance battles never occurred simply because of the Dovahim in question.

Others times it only took a fight or two. Then in yet others it took weeks for them to be satisfied with the hierarchy. Very, very rarely did dominants fail to resolve the hierarchy however when that was the case one of the dominants would eventually kill the other.

Severus desperately hoped that the last option wouldn't occur, especially as Asterion still needed several more mates.

More than anything he didn't want his son to ever have to live the same hell he did for most of his life, mourning for a lost mate.

"Don't worry, Asterion." Severus attempted to soothe his son as he watched the teen's nerves slowly shredding right before his eyes. An anxiety or panic attack was the last thing his son needed when he'd been doing so well. "They just need to sort things out. Dominant Dovahim do so through violent displays of strength and prowess. It's nothing to worry about most of the time."

"Most of the time." His son echoed, hands twisting together as he paced, eyes continually flicking between staring at nothing and the closed door behind which his mates are beating the tar out of each other. "Most. You didn't see how angry Elias was when he found us."

"Why was he angry that you'd slept with your other dominant and sealed your bond?" Severus had to ask baffled. That wasn't a normal response unless you were dealing with the first-pregnancy protectiveness. "He's twenty-eight years old…he had to know that you were going to sleep with Charlie eventually."

Severus wasn't enthused with the topic of his only child's sex life but he needed to know to best help his son clear the current hurdle in his path.

"He's been keeping both of them from having sex with me." Asterion said waving a hand distractedly. "He didn't want either himself or Charlie to rush me into anything and thought both of them together would be too much for me."

"Which he was and is right about." Severus noted insightfully, getting an embarrassed look from his son for his trouble.

"Which he was right about." Asterion sighed, running his hand through his still-unbound hair. "That doesn't mean I didn't want to be intimate with Charlie. He's my mate, I wouldn't have picked him if I didn't want him to touch me…and not with Elias playing guard dog."

Asterion loved how protective Elias was. It was one of the reasons he chose him for his first mate. He was protective and fierce. Loyal and loving and affectionate. All the best attributes a mate, especially a first mate could have with a dark but somehow still gentle undertone that was pure Elias.

He never expected that protectiveness to explode and potentially damage the harmony of their forming mateship.

Perhaps he would have if he'd been around people growing up and better understood human nature. But he didn't grow up that way, he grew up isolated with little to do with actual human interaction.

Not the best way for anyone to be raised, let alone a male submissive Dovah.

A resounding crash! Came from inside the room.

Exchanging a quick glance, Asterion and Severus rushed towards the door, the dominant barely beating his son to flinging it open with a sharp crack.

Against one wall laid the remnants of one of Asterion's training dummies which were all spelled by his Uncle Sirius when the oldest living Black male had lived at the Castle with Asterion instead of at Grimmauld Place with his mate Remus. Crouched on the ground in the midst of the rubble from the dummy and powered plaster from where one large body had hit the wall with enough force to overcome the cushioning spells were Elias and Charlie with the intense businessman's teeth clenched around the dragon tamer's windpipe, Elias growling low and the threat clear. If Charlie didn't submit his fellow dominant would rip out his throat, any possible distress Asterion might feel at losing his newest mate far from Elias's mind.

Conceding, Charlie went boneless submitting to Elias as the top dominant. Growling again in one last warning, Elias let go of his now-subordinate mate then climbed to his feet and walked over to his sub, claiming his mouth in a searing kiss. Today Elias's passion and slightly broader frame had triumphed over Charlie's long arms and cut, wiry strength.

Asterion instantly and instinctively went limp in submission to his top dominant, kissing him back with vigor despite still being angry over the fight, especially as Charlie was still lying injured on the floor and Elias himself had limped badly while stalking over to where Asterion and Severus had come to a halt just inside the door.

Pulling away gently, not wanting to incite Elias into erupting again, Asterion tugged him over to one of the padded benches lining the wall flanking the door. Pushing him down, Elias going along with his mate who he could tell coming out of his instinctual haze was not pleased to say the least. Taking in the damage to both himself and Charlie who was being seen to by Severus as well as the room where Asterion had spent so much time with his Uncle, Elias concealed a wince.

Their bed was going to be extremely chilly tonight if Asterion doesn't forgive them and quickly.

Casting a diagnostic, Asterion made a harrumphing sound under his breath at the results. Charlie certainly didn't pull any punches.

"Congratulations." He said with his father's iconic snark. "You've managed to tear several tendons in your right knee, shatter your radius, dislocate your shoulder, and collect several bruises and lacerations." Striding over to his father's side, he colluded with Severus for a moment over both dominants' conditions before taking a couple of potion bottles and returning to Elias's side. "Here," he thrust the bottles at Elias who shot them back without argument.

Binding the arm in place until they could set it properly once Charlie had been treated, Asterion gave a pouting Elias a peck on the cheek and a sigh before going to assist his father with his more severely injured mate.

"How is he?" Asterion asked, his voice pitched low with worry. His second mate was used to injury with his work as well as the childhood injuries from being one of a large group of siblings. That he wasn't moving or making much noise after the fight shook his submissive to his bones.

"He'll survive." Severus said tersely, black eyes narrowed as his wand moved in precise, sweeping movements over the Englishman's six-three body. "The fight was more vicious than I expected, though because of that you'll likely not see a repeat from the two of them. Rows are inevitable but not another major altercation. Their Dovahim simply won't allow it due to the severity of Charlie's injuries."

"Good." Asterion choked out as he waved a hand and began spelling potions directly into his mate's stomach, not willing to take a chance that Charlie would have issues swallowing from the livid bruising left on his throat by Elias's fangs and teeth. "Having to deal with this every time I mate will be bad enough without current mates fighting each other again and again over who gets to top when I go on heat."

Severus nearly gagged at the reminder of what would happen when Asterion had his full complement of mates in order to get pregnant. Once in a while he would hear or worse see the proof that the mutt had a major impact on his son and every time it turned his stomach. Asterion's occasional lapses into vulgarity being a definite sign of Sirius's influence.

Charlie stirred, opening his distinctive bright blue eyes and squinted up at his mate's sire, who was enjoying an irreverent thought over his son having a definite type thus far in his mates: fierce redheads with blue eyes.

"Anyone get the identification number of the hippogriff that flattened me?" He asked gruffly, his natural humor shining through.

Asterion rolled his eyes and handed Charlie a restorative potion for his throat, the only one he wasn't able to just spell into him as it needed to traverse the neck passage to repair any internal damage from having a pissed-off dominant threating to rip out his throat.

"I'll be fine." Charlie assured his darling in his pain-roughened voice. "Elias didn't break anything permanently."

"Not through lack of trying," Severus observed under his breath, still reeling from the amount of damage the other fighter had managed to unleash on a dominant that wrangled dragons for a living and had an older and four younger brothers…plus his harpy of sister. It just went to show that when it came to their submissives no dominant should be discounted.

That night Elias slid into bed behind Asterion, the submissive turning his back to the top dominant when he came into the room, curling up closer to Charlie. He couldn't snuggle with his dragon tamer out of fear of exacerbating his injuries but he came as close as possible without actually touching him. That it took him further from Elias was only a plus.

Elias stroked one hand down Asterion's back, kissing him lightly on the temple before whispering in his ear.

"Going to stay mad at me?" He asked.

Asterion huffed under his breath before turning to glare suspiciously at his top dominant.

"Going to nearly put Charlie into a coma again?" Asterion asked sarcastically.

Dominance fights were one of the points where his logical mind head-butted into his Dovah instincts and could potentially cause a disaster. His instincts knew that his mates needed to fight and sort out their hierarchy for the future happiness of their mateship, and Charlie hadn't seemed resentful or hateful towards Elias in the little time he'd been awake that day after all the potions Asterion pumped into his system. However his logic stated adamantly that fighting between grown wizards was a worthless exercise in barbarity.

It wasn't the first time he struggled between the two though it was the first time he's had to fight with himself seriously since he chose Elias weeks ago.

Elias sighed, wrapping his arms around his little love.

"Not likely, no." He admitted. "But not impossible either. Fights between Dovahim, even mates, can be deadly. I can't promise that I'll never seriously injure Charlie or any other mate again because I can't see the future." Elias squeezed Asterion, giving him a comforting hug as they laid still in their bed. "But I can promise I'll try to never widow you, whether you've already bonded the chosen mate to you or not."

"Ok," Asterion whispered, turning his head and giving his mate a little kiss. "I can live with that. But try to keep your redheaded temper under control."

"I'll try." Elias chuckled nipping at the shell of his mate's ear. "Sleep." He ordered. "It's been a long and trying day, you need to sleep if you're going to meet with Lord Malfoy tomorrow."

Asterion gave a little groan.

"Thanks for reminding me."

"Anytime love." He laughed, lightly shaking the bed in the process. "Anytime."

Asterion and Lucius hunched – elegantly in the case of the ever-lordly Lucius – over a large table that was strewn with reams and scrolls and tomes of parchment. Before them was a concise listing of laws broken down into three categories with short summaries of their key points and purposes. The purpose of the list was as simple as it would ultimately be profound:

All were on Asterion's chopping block.

One-thousand three hundred and seventy-seven laws passed by the Wizengamot that had in turn spawned over six thousand by-laws and close to six-digits of policies.

Each and every law, by-law, and policy dealt with the same three core issues:

Creatures, beings, and spirits; child welfare; and lastly muggle/magical separation.

While they all were issues Asterion had intended to reform before his inheritance in one way or another, coming into his inheritance as a submissive Dovah had pushed him to look deeper at the law. Realizing that he wasn't just the product of a mateship by so-called "Dark" "Restricted" Creatures but one himself had put a sense of urgency and immediacy to an ephemeral idea. Asterion had been raised to be the Lord Black Prince and in turn return his Houses to their former glory.

He wasn't satisfied with that, not anymore.

And while he never thought he would actually run for Minister, it no longer was an out-of-the-question proposition, depending on how much opposition he will face for his three reforms.

The idea was simplicity itself, and in that way would appeal to much of the general populace of Wizarding Britain, replace those one thousand three hundred and seventy-seven laws and their trailing amounts of by-laws and policies and replace them with a far simpler Code.

Honestly, he didn't anticipate much problem with the first Code the: Wizarding Children's Welfare Act or WCWA at all. Not with his cousin's abuse being an open-secret at this point with the approaching muggle-trial and the general temperature of politics in the post-Voldemort era. Both Wizarding Wars had left large amounts of Wizarding orphans, many of whom fell through the cracks following the First War. It was Asterion's intention that that never happened again. The potential of creating another Tom Riddle was just as likely as another Harry Potter if not more so.

The WCWA also represented the fewest amount of sweeping changes, with less than twenty laws being affected, a far cry from the two hundred seventy-nine that are involved in the most complex of the three Codes the: Equality and Safety of Sentient Beings Act or ESSBA.

It chafed at him to leave the most important to him personally for second but he knew it would also face the most challenges and by leaving it for the Summer Session next year it gave him time to cement his political bloc and create alliances. Also giving the reappearance of Voldemort and his merry band of idiots more time to fade in many minds that would resist giving any freedoms towards creatures who in some cases fought on the "losing" side. A funny distinction to Asterion who thought after his reading and how wars had impacted him that there was no such thing as a "winning" side in war, even a cold war that played out mostly out of the public consciousness. After the dust settled, everyone loses in a war.

Somewhere between the controversial ESSBA and the easily-enacted WCWA stood the adjustments to the Secrecy or separation laws. Half of the work will already be done by passing the WCWA but much of retooling the Secrecy Act would be hindered without ESSBA. For example, many shop owners refuse to employ what they consider half-breeds or Dark Creatures which forces them into the muggle world – putting the Magical world at possible risk of exposure. But if those same people could find employment and humane treatment in the Magical world there was no reason for them to leave it in the first place.

Retooling the Secrecy Act would be the finishing touch on Asterion's three acts and would solidify the still-shifting Wizarding Britain into a much more cohesive whole that didn't ostracize a large portion of their population both human-creature hybrids and muggleborns.

Though to many purebreds the first was still preferable to the latter even though many hybrids like other dragon-kin species that were cousins to the Dovahim were still under a death sentence if discovered.

"It's ambitious to say the least." Lucius said with a sigh, after he'd finished listening to Asterion's explanation and reading his detailed notes and plans.

His protégé had finally let Lucius into his confidence over just what he was planning to do as the Lord Black Prince. Asterion was savvy and poised enough that unless he was planning something he had no real need for a mentor. Let alone one of Lucius's caliber.

Asterion Severus Black-Prince had been raised from the cradle to be a Lord including all the training he'd need to navigate the Wizengamot and Wizarding Society.

Politics however required a different kind of training and navigation when it was being played with on such a large scale.

That was where Lucius came in.

No one knew how to maneuver the political waters of Wizarding Britain better than Lucius Malfoy. His detractors had many things they could use to poke holes into his public persona, his political acumen was not one of them.

"Well." Asterion said with a good-humored jab at himself. "I am a Black."

"Yes," Lucius said with a piercing look. "You are that."

One could almost say there wasn't any Prince or Snape to be found in him. Almost. He'd felt the sharp edge of Asterion's disdain at times – both directed directly at him and not – and was very very familiar with the biting combination of snark and piercing sarcasm that could only come from Severus.

"This will revolutionize Wizarding Britain." Lucius sank back into the armchair behind him. "If it gets passed. Which as things stand is unthinkable."

"I know." Asterion admitted, looking over the piles of parchment that added up to over five years of work and research. Pretty much since just after Sirius came back into his life with stories of his cousin Harry – and his living situation. "But…"

"But?" The Malfoy Lord prompted with an imperiously arched brow.

"Broken into three separate Acts each introduced in consecutive Summer Sessions…"

"Where the harder-nosed WM's" Wizengamot Members, not including Lords who hold entailed seats. "Are vacationing outside of Britain." Lucius smirked, having used that same weakness to his advantage several times.

Only a quorum of Lords is required to hold a session and vote on and pass laws. The elected or appointed WM's which included the Heads of various MoM departments and the Minster and their advisers were all later additions to what used to be known as the Lords' Meet or Lords' Council and were not required to be present. Though if present they did hold a vote.

Some like Professor Dumbledore always attended, which used to be the only thorn in Lucius's side. Now however it would work to their – or rather Asterion's – advantage as the WM's who are never absent are also the ones who are most likely to go along with his proposed changes.

"And those who are most likely to either agree with my ideas or are easily swayed will still be present." Asterion finished the thought. "Agreed. It helps that with this coming Session being my first time present they won't be expecting me to have anything to present, especially with my age."

Lucius made an agreeing noise in his throat as his brows furrowed lightly in thought. Asterion had already made a good choice in mates as a submissive thus far. But there was still room for improvement.

"Speaking of your age." Lucius wavered for a moment at the sharp look his protégé pinned him with, effectively drawing his attention firmly away from the table's contents. "It is a…reason for concern."

"How so?" Asterion's tone was deceptively mild. He thought he had an inkling where Lucius was going with this line of conversation and if his suspicion proved true he was going to be hacked off. His father had already had conversation after conversation over Lucius's behavior and attitude towards his own son possibly having mates older than him if he is selected by a submissive Dovah who needed more than one mate.

He better not be trying to poke his aristocratic nose into Asterion's own mateship or there would be hell to pay.

"I do not pretend to understand the Dovah instinct to mate." Lucius said with a sigh, rubbing one thumb along the silver head of his cane. "In fact I have a hard time coming to grips with the entire culture. However, your choices of mate could have an impact in on your goals with these Acts."

"Be careful, Lord Malfoy." Asterion's voice turned into an icy-replica of his father's at his most displeased with a student. "The area you are treading can be quite hazardous."

Lucius nodded to acknowledge the warning before pressing on regardless. His son hadn't been interested in his opinion when it came to his inheritance, or anything really now that Draco has seen the near-ruin Lucius choice as a young man to join the Death Eaters had almost led them too. He could only hope Asterion was savvy enough to take his advice in the manner it was meant.

"You have chosen wisely in your Elias." Lucius conceded with a wry smile. "I wasn't sure how a Dublin businessman would acquit himself in high society but he has performed well, all things considered. He would make an excellent Consort – " He held up an imperious hand. "I know Dovahim do not need to wed to cement your mateships but if you want to be a successful political force you must consider wedding at least one of your mates. The public tends to want stability from their reigning leaders, marriage and family gives that to them like nothing else."

"I will…consider it." He forced out between his clenched jaws. His inner Dovah was taking Lucius's studied neglect of Charlie as an insult to his second mate. One that he was having a hell of a time refraining from answering with fangs and claws. "Anything else?"

Seeing the barely-concealed anger brewing behind eyes that have turned almost utterly black, Lucius wisely bit back his advice on the proper age range for his remaining mates.

Something told him Asterion would take that about as well as Sirius had taken Lucius's participation in the Ministry battle…and Lucius really didn't need a broken nose or jaw from a Dovah-powered fist.

It didn't go with his bone structure.

"In that case." Seeing that there was no further commentary being supplied by his so-very-human companion, Asterion bid him good day. "I will see you at the next Wizengamot Meeting."

Asterion shifted, his mates' heads turning instantly towards him as his wordless anxiety coursed through their bonds the moment the ramshackle home came into view.

Meet the Family hadn't gone all that well last time, at least at first.

He wasn't looking forward to a repeat, no matter that he'd met Charlie's family at Harry's birthday or that they'd seemed perfectly pleasant people…for the most part.

There would be a new one here to start with, Percival one of the middle brothers who'd been absent from the party.

And Molly Weasley sort of made him…ache.

He loved his mother Regulus, loved that he cared enough about Asti to do whatever was necessary to ensure his survival, that he'd be safe and cared for at Castle Black, even making certain that there was a portrait of himself at the Castle for Asterion to turn to for his comfort and wisdom.

But he'd never known what it felt like to be wrapped up in a maternal embrace until he'd met Molly Weasley, the matriarch instantly wrapping him up in her arms that smelled like baking bread and sweets when they were introduced, the woman drawn to Asterion – much as she was to Harry – the poor orphaned lambs that they were – her words, not his.

She made him miss things he didn't even know there were to miss…and a part of him no matter how quickly stamped down, had deeply resented her for it, for making his mother come up short in comparison just by dint of not being physically present in his life.

That she was now his mother-in-law only missing a formal ceremony…well.

He wasn't quite sure how to handle that any better than he did her husband's boggling – and mind-blowing – condescension towards muggles.

Oh, he knew Mr. Weasley or anyone else saw it that way, saw his obsession with gadgets as being condescending, but the fact remained that like a great many other purebloods, Arthur Weasley for all his "love" of muggles never deigned to learn their language and terminology for the things he was so fascinated with, reminding Asterion very much of an indulgent parent admiring the strange inventions of a not-particularly-bright child.

Which when combined with his lingering social-anxiety issues, albeit those had been alleviated to a degree by the consistent support of both his family and his mates, made for an uneasy Asterion going into Meet-the-Family Round 2.

"You'll be okay, little love." Charlie came over, taking one elegant hand in his callused and scarred mitt and caressing it gently as Elias wrapped his arms around their mate from behind encasing him in his silent-but-unbending support. "They don't bite, and they're only magical humans, not a creature in the bunch." He snickered a little, then added: "Well, at least with Ron at school anyway…I'm pretty sure that boy is half-giant with the way he eats. If he were here you might have had to worry for your fingers, especially if they got in the way of whatever dish baby-brother was reaching for at any given time…"

"…and furthermore," One of the Dovah Mentors continued to pontificate to the gathered group of Mentors and Asterion's family to discuss the success or failure – thus far – of Asterion's mate hunts. "Mr. Prince's culling of dominants in such great numbers…"

Charlie couldn't take it anymore.

They'd sat there and listened as Mentor after Mentor stood and talked and waffled about how his mate had chosen to conduct his hunts. They'd talked about the maze, the venue, the sending away of dominants to await the next hunt, everything it seemed. And at least one Mentor appeared to have a problem with each and every point.

He didn't need to be a legilimense to figure out what was going on and if the rising color in his fellow dominant's face was any clue, Elias had cottoned on as well.

They were attempting a witch-hunt over how much leeway submissives had during their hunts…and they were using Asterion as a lightning-rod for it.

Not one of the baby-faced spoiled brats who made a game out of cutting down dominants and being as cruel as possible. No. They were using Asterion.

Asterion who had little by way of family to protest the treatment unlike the majority of those baby-faced bitches with their slutty clothes and spoiled attitudes.

The Mentor Body – at least some of them – wanted a firmer hand with submissives.

And they were going about it all wrong.

Apparently he wasn't the only one who'd have enough if Asterion's sudden interruption was any indicator.

"Excuse me." Asterion said softly, with a deceptively-sweet undertone that made the hair on the back of his mates' and father's necks stand on end. "I'm new to" he waved one hand expansively. "All this. What exactly is the point?"

His Mentors – both permanent and temporary – Tafari, Roberts, and Christianson quickly lowered their heads or hid their mouths behind a raised hand to conceal their amusement. They'd allowed the more "traditional" Mentors to drone on and on, knowing that either Asterion or Severus would step in eventually. They'd warned the others that trying to use Asterion as an example of a submissive being allowed too much leeway during meetings was a mistake.

Especially with the results of said meetings being so being the norm.

But their counterparts were stubborn and didn't listen…as usual.

"The point." A Mentor with a thick Spanish accent sneered down at Asterion. "Little boy is that more dominants have lodged complaints over your behavior than any submissive previously."

Charlie and Elias let out nearly-identical scoffs, clearly remembering some of the worse examples of submissives in the previous years.

"You can't just send away over half of the dominants at once, lad." Another barked. "It simply isn't done."

Asterion gave a shark-toothed smile. That was exactly the objection he'd been waiting for one of them to voice.

"Really?" He drawled, sounding quite a bit like his father, to Severus's clear amusement. "Do the names Janine Richards, Sylvia Brown, or Lydia d'Orlain ring a bell to anyone?"

A few of the Mentors glanced at each other in confusion while Christianson just laughed, clearly remembering that last fiasco.

With a soft "pop" and a flick of Asterion's wrist a thick folder appeared in his hands. His father had warned him before his first hunt that such a confrontation might occur. Asterion had applied his same dedicated research ability to mate hunts – of all kinds – as he had to the laws he wanted to reform. With help from his mates, various dominants, his parents, and his own Mentors he'd compiled a list of the hands-down worst examples of mate hunts anyone could think of.

"Janine Richards." Asterion's voice remained soft though now there was a fine thread of steel running through it. "Held her hunt just after her sixteenth birthday. One the first day sent away all of the dominants over twenty. All that remained were less than a dozen dominants, including two females that she dismissed immediately."

As a few of the Mentors began to get red-faced and splutter, Asterion continued on despite the noise.

"Sylvia Brown. Held her hunt at her family home. Insisted that every dominant undergo a "pain" test to prove their worth. Over ninety-percent of the dominants present left immediately, most lodging complaints over her behavior." Asterion flipped another page in seeming boredom. "Lydia d'Orlain. Allowed her parents to "introduce her" to a "respectable" dominant outside of a hunt. Suspected of having been abused before being freed from her bond, has yet to take another mate or agree to a hunt."

Looking up from the folder his almost completely black eyes, flicked from Mentor to Mentor before reading out the most damning of the meetings he'd recorded. His mother's was in there as well, having had a number of dominant deaths, though he wasn't going to read each report. There was no need in beating a dead thestral, he'd leave that to the Mentor Body.

"Bianca Granestine." Now every dominant present including his father flinched, clearly remembering the landmark meeting that ended up changing Dovahim society. "Demanded that the dominants present spend a night with her, most coming out disfigured or scarred, over fifty dominants injured before the Mentor in charge put a stop to it and referred her to a mind healer for evaluation…she's currently locked away in the Janus Thickey Ward with no hope of recovery."

Asterion arched a brow as he tossed the folder into the middle of the large meeting table.

"I think you have bigger problems to worry about than my hurting a few feelings."

"That's beside the point." Mentor Rivera tried to bluster as the Head Mentor Roxburgh flipped through the compiled reports, having had it passed over to his place at the end of the table.

"That's exactly the point." Elias said with a roll of his eyes.

Charlie nodded. "Submissives are getting out of control with the lack of open hunts requiring accountability and discretion, or their parents are, either way it's something most everyone here can agree with. However, our mate isn't part of the problem."

Before things could spiral out of control, Roxburgh looked up and over at his friend and asked a rather pertinent question.

"Benjamin." Mentor Tafari looked over at Roxburgh at the sound of his name. "How many injuries and deaths have resulted from young Asterion's two hunts thus far?"

The mates all smiled Severus settling for a smirk. They were all well aware of that particular statistic.

"Thirteen injuries." Mentor Tafari answered after looking up the figure on his ever-present notepad. "No deaths."

A hush fell over the Body. They'd heard from the Black-Prince mentors that the teen's unusual methods had had an interesting side-effect but they hadn't really believed it. Not until the numbers were shoved in their faces. Short of "arranged" hunts proctored by parents, there rarely was so low a toll on the dominants as they competed for a submissive.

"In that case." Roxburgh said ponderously after a long moment. "I would say it was time to retool our mate hunts once more to integrate some of young Asterion's choices. At a later date. Asterion," He nodded towards the family. "I hope you enjoy what's left of your night, you should expect my owl, I would like to learn more about your selection process."

Standing, Asterion and his family all bowed, merely nodding in Asterion's case due to his station, and took their leave of the Mentor Body.

The scandal of the year at Hogwarts started before the term ever really began.

In fact, the seeds of it were sown months before, the very first time Asterion reached out to both Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy as the Head of House Black, seeds that were tended and treated with care all through the summer during tutoring meetings, lunches, and family dinners, culminating in many ways with the back-to-school shopping trip that included all four of the Black Family descendants still attending Hogwarts.

Ron Weasley was likely the most reluctant of the group, followed by his sister who had thrown the fit to end all fits when she was told that Harry was not interested in dating, courting, or otherwise being involved in a romantic relationship until he was finished with school. That this was due to a creature inheritance was implied but not outright stated, as wizarding society in many ways had a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding one's creature status. So long as they weren't pillaging the local muggles, the Ministry was generally content to leave them be. But make waves and they'll come down on a magical creature like the wrath of Merlin himself.

Asterion, letter by letter, nudge by nudge, had drawn the Blacks together – even though not a one of them in school carried the name, engendering in all of them a shared sense of family and heritage that had long been missing in the outer-branches of the Black Family.

He was the Lord Black-Prince, and already proving himself a much better one than most in recent memory.

So when a gossipy Pansy Parkinson went in search of her beloved "Drakey" only to find him ensconced in a compartment filled to brimming with all kinds of half-bloods and blood-traitors including Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Ginny Weasley, Neville Longbottom, and that awful disgrace of a squib's daughter to the mighty house of Slythering Mafalda Prewitt…well.

Her screech could be heard all the way at the school and the train had barely left London.

Other friends to the eclectic group took it much better, swallowing the "Asterion" excuse with little trouble, especially those who were wise enough to remember that it had been Asterion Black-Prince who had stood with Harry Potter and helped him defeat Voldemort at the Battle of the Atrium, even if they ignored all the other avenues of power the Black-Prince Lord had at his fingertips.

He wasn't one to trifle with, especially if one was still a student.

Hermione had been fascinated by all the interweaving lines of kinship that connected the varied group, while the Zabini brothers would overlook just about anything to be allowed in the presence of a submissive outside of a normal hunt.

Which had led to Draco's – as the unofficial co-leader of the little group of relations along with Harry – making the decree that Harry wasn't to be left alone with either boy, due to the same excuse given to Ginny: he wasn't interested in a courtship at this time, since it wasn't as if any of the young Dovahim were about to go spouting off about him wanting to wait to mate and have young until after school.

The four of them weren't the only Dovahim in the school either, bringing the second wave of gossip about regarding Asterion Black-Prince's far-reaching hand.

Due to his father resigning his post, Hogwarts had found itself in need of a potion's instructor, a post often filled if possible by a magical creature so that newly inherited students had a safe place and a safe teacher to go to about their often unique needs.

Under pressure from their newest member, the Board had also created a new position, that of a guidance counselor who was there to help the students deal with the mental and emotional toll having a torturer for a teacher the year prior had taken.

The two positions ended up being filled – though unknowing to the majority of the school population – by a mated female pair of Dovahim who were past the age of having children themselves, with their own young having either married or mated or otherwise flown their nest. Madam Gina became their new Potion's Mistress, with the now-senior Professor Sinistra took over as Head of Slyterin, with Gina's submissive mate Yvette coming on-staff as guidance counselor. While not the only married and/or mated staff members, they were the only ones who's spouse was also employed by the school, leading to a great deal of speculation on the part of the school populace.

And so time went on.

The four Blacks from Sixth Year all banded together for Care of Magical Creatures, mainly due to Draco being unwilling to allow Harry to attend any class without at least one of them present…to keep Blaise and Julian in check if nothing else.

Draco trusted his friends…but he didn't trust any unmated dominant Dovah around who he had quickly shifted from the "enemy/nemesis" column in his mind into the "younger cousin/protected" column upon both Asterion's (and his mother's) insistence and his own instincts coming into play.

He didn't like Harry well enough to be interested in mating him…besides the other Dovah really having the wrong bits for him, but he would keep him safe while he was under his care.

Or else Asterion would have his ass, and that was only if he beat his mother Narcissa to it first…