AUTHOR'S NOTE: well, this probably needs more work but it has been a long time coming, hasn't it!
For those after a reason, this wasn't going to be posted until the next chapter of Deal was done…then I turned on teletext and read this:
'Rowling back Harry Potter Fanfiction'
A spokesman for Rowling's literary agent said she was 'flattered' people wanted to write their own stories based on her characters.
And this is my own way of celebrating that fact. (Plus I had a shitty last 15 minutes at work and reviews will cheer me up hint, hint)
Review responses are now at the end.
By the by, I have a Snape/Hermione fic I need a beta for – someone who will humour me and my stresses about my fics. Please volunteer, someone, anyone.
And without further ado…
On with chapter twenty-four.
Chapter 24: Of Remus and Severus
Harry Potter is, when the mood takes him, exceptionally good at sulking. As such, and in the sure and certain knowledge that he was in the wrong, he spent the three days that immediately followed his release from the infirmary on his own, thinking.
Or, more accurately, trying not to think and thus ending up dwelling pretty much continuously on his situation.
As such, by the time he was ready to be talked round he had a pretty good grasp of the situation and had even formulated a game plan of sorts.
As he saw it, there were three main people he never wanted to have to face again and thus three people he clearly needed to talk to as soon as possible: Ron, Remus and Draco.
Ron, his best friend since the age of eleven was, he knew all to well, headstrong and incredibly stubborn, as capable of holding a grudge as well as anyone he knew and possessed of a good foundation of six years spent loathing Draco Malfoy, thus making it that bit more unlikely that he would be welcoming Harry with open arms any time soon. He knew Ron would be immensely hurt by Harry's inexplicable defence of Draco, and the fact that Harry had no real reason to offer would not help to defuse the situation any. He flattered himself that the inevitable confrontation would begin with no words at all from Ron, escalate swiftly into a loud argument with the possible option of an actual fight before concluding with the two boys making up and Ron declaring that no Malfoy would come between him and his best friend.
But then we have reality, a reality in which Ron would probably yell, thump him and officially end their friendship.
Funnily enough, neither option appealed overly to Harry, who far preferred a plan whereby he kept out of Ron's way until he had calmed down and spoke to him then, which would, he surmised, be some ten years later.
And then there was Remus. The sedate werewolf had become like a father to Harry over the last few years, occupying a place in his heart equal to if not exceeding that reserved for Sirius. For nearly four years Remus had been there for Harry in a way his absent Godfather could not be, and he had come to rely on the older man's presence in his life. While it was fear keeping him from confronting Ron, it was shame that stayed his hand when it came to talking to Remus.
Harry was all to aware that he had behaved abysmally to the werewolf, reacted like a spoilt child when he found something that didn't fit into his vision of a perfect future. Because really, even as he was shouting and screaming at Remus, he knew, deep down, that Sirius could not have been Remus' mate, that he could never have cheated on him had that been the case. But he had reacted instinctively, raging against that which displeased him and ignoring the hurt and anger on Remus' face in favour of venting his own frustrations. All of this made him more than a little reluctant to go diving headfirst into a second confrontation with what would probably a very angry werewolf.
And then there was Draco.
In those few minutes where the other boy had been under threat, Harry's world had contracted to include only them two in it; Draco had been everything to him then and he could not forget that. Nor could he forget that he had liked it, liked the liberty of being able to focus on Draco and only Draco, to give the boy his full attention without fighting the feelings that he stirred up.
But at the same time he wasn't prepared to go on like that, to spend time with a boy whose every action irritated him, whose morals and opinions were so totally opposite to Harry's. A boy, more over, who attacked and belittled his friends and had never given any indication of any decent feeling at all.
It wasn't something he was prepared to consider, and Harry was stubborn enough to bury his head in the ground for some time yet, thank you very much.
So if he was not talking to Draco, that left Ron and Remus.
It was most logical, he concluded finally, to talk to Remus first, to mend the bridges in the order he broke them. His inner Gryffindor nodded its approval, a perfectly suicidal plan for a suicidal Gryffindor, it agreed.
Right, Harry sat up on his bed, ready to be talked out of his funk, when it finally dawned on him that, bar one half hearted effort from Neville and Lavender, no one was trying to talk him round.
Come to think of it, he mused, Hermione and Seamus in particular had been conspicuous in their absence and he would almost go so far as to suspect that people were actually avoiding him. How rude!
Harry almost went into another funk but at the last moment caught himself and decided instead to go and talk to Remus.
Severus Snape was not with Remus when Harry finally decided to go and talk to the werewolf. Rather, the potions master had been avoiding his mate for the last two days, shamelessly using his concern for his Godson as an excuse and a shield.
At the moment he was alone in his chambers, chambers which had been much abandoned of late and which no longer feel like home.
Alone at last, no longer surrounded by Draco and his friends, with no students knocking on the door for assistance, Severus Snape was brooding.
The one weak point in all his life was his relationship with Remus. It was the one thing he was ever uncertain about, the one thing in which he wasn't totally confident. From the age of eleven, the unofficial coming of age for pureblood families, where the child was sent into the world and away from the family for the first, he had been confident of himself and the decisions he made.
He had entered school life happy that he knew his place. His family, while not as rich as the Malfoy's, Blacks or Potters, was well enough off to secure him a place in the upper echelons, someone the wealthier families would willingly associate with, someone marked out as a friend of Lucius, not an acolyte.
When he had started school the 'old' order of things held enough sway that James Potter's parents expected their son to associate with Sirius Black, Lucius Malfoy and himself, to follow financial allegiances not political ones.
As such, Lucius was naturally outraged when, instead of joining them in their carriage, James sat with a nobody he'd gotten on the train with, a middle class lad by the name of Pettigrew. Black, of course, followed where Potter led, and when entreated to join their carriage, Potter simply retorted by inviting Lucius to sit down with them. Furious, Lucius turned out, leaving Potter to turn laughing brown eyes on Snape but before he could repeat the invitation there was a commotion in the corridor and Lucius' voice, clearly trying to imitate his father, could be heard exclaiming "good lord man, look where you are going. Step aside."
They were out in the corridor in time to see Lucius push a small boy (small even to them) aside and flounce off.
"You OK," James offered the boy a hand up, "he's an ass, come sit with us."
As the boy smiled gratefully, Lucius stopped at the end of the corridor and turned to look at Severus, "Come on Severus, you don't know what you'll catch if you stay down there."
Potter and Black were clearly occupied with this new boy now and Snape didn't look back as he joined Lucius, joining in the conversation happily.
That was the first time he saw Remus and if you'd asked him then he wouldn't have been able to tell you anything about the other boy.
Over the years the groups were formed, political divisions broadly following the financial ones they replaced, with some notable exceptions, not least of all James Potter, who had his parents approval for his chosen side, and Sirius Black, who most definitely didn't. Everything marked Black out as being destined to ally with Lucius and Severus; his family had always been on the far right when it came to using the darker arts, and when his sister married Severus' brother it was seen by many as a chance to show the boy the error of his ways. Instead the boy had sat sulkily through the ceremony and fought with Severus during the reception, leaving both boys with torn clothes and bloody faces. And huge smiles on their faces.
Not that Severus minded the ruined wedding, his brother was a prat and a bully, full of his own importance and not possessed of the social and intellectual abilities to survive in the class he was born into. Fortunately for him, a new age was being ushered in and he rose quickly in Voldemort's ranks.
While the wizarding world was quickly descending into war, Severus was noticing Remus.
The boy had always been the quietest of the four, though Severus always suspected that he thought of the things and Potter and Black did them. Not that he was scorning the other boy with this view, rather, from a Slytherin, that was the highest form of praise, for what could be better to a house that prised cunning than someone who stage-managed the crime while staying well away from all reprisals.
Remus, though, had been almost closer to Lily Evans than to his fellow 'Marauders', and Lily was just someone who would not let you dislike her.
Invariably she would be the first to take her seat when paired with someone of the opposite house, and would chat merrily to her partner regardless of his or her inclinations.
It had been quite the talking point when, after the summer holiday between fourth and fifth year, she willingly sat down next to a new and improved (event more superior and unpleasant) Lucius and talked at him for ten minutes straight. You just have to admire that kind of person, and admire her Severus did.
Unfortunately, his grudging affection for Lily was picked up on by said girl, and where Lily went, she invariably dragged Remus with her.
Which was how he found himself talking to Remus Lupin. And falling for him.
They had their first kiss midway through their fifth year. Lily had left them alone in the library and before he quite knew what had happened the smaller boy had kissed him, quickly and shyly, but kissed him none the less. After staring at him dumbly for about a minute, Severus realised that if he wasn't smart everything he wanted would run out of the library, so he kissed him back, still praying that he hadn't got it all horribly wrong even as Remus climbed into his lap.
Kissing Remus quickly became his favourite activity, and he tried to ignore the voice at the back of his head that told him he should get in as many kisses as he could before Remus came to his senses and left.
The voice got louder when Sirius Black discovered them, kissing incautiously outside the great hall, temporarily heedless of where they were.
"Get off of him Snivellus," Black had yelled, pulling them apart before realising that this was all too consensual, "shit, he wasn't attacking you was he? Are you out of your fucking mind Moony, do you know who he is? What the fuck do you want with that bastard?"
Severus had already turned away when he heard Remus' snarling response, and turned in time to watch the display as his boyfriend faced down his best friend, eyes glowing an eerie yellow.
"Do I pull apart you casual fucks Padfoot? Do I criticise you for your meaningless liaisons? No, I stand back while you jump everything that moves. So back the fuck off me and my boyfriend. He's mine. I love him and if you've got a problem with that then you better keep out of my way." The last five words were spoken so coldly that Severus wasn't surprised when Black backed off, he was rather awed himself. Dazedly he let Remus lead him away, acting more like a bodyguard than a boyfriend.
"You didn't give me up?" he muttered in amazement.
"No, did you really think I would?" Remus replied, before turning hurt eyes on Severus, "you thought this was some fling, something I'd never stand up for? You think you mean that little to me?"
"In comparison to Black, yeah," he replied honestly.
"You are my everything," the other boy replied earnestly, "if that's going to be a problem I suggest you walk away now."
"I'm not going anywhere," Severus replied and Remus beamed at him.
The touching moment was broken by applause.
"Here, here," James grinned at his friend, Lily smiling at both of them happily before turning to James with an 'I told you so.'
"James? You OK with this?"
"From what Sirius said, I think I'd better be," James joked before responding to the serious look on his friend's face, "if you love him, then fine, knock yourself out. Of course, I gotta do the friend thing and let him know what'll happen if he hurts you, but Lily's planning to make the same threats to you, so we're all square there."
And amazingly enough James seemed to be standing by what he said, and often exerted his influence to keep Sirius away from the pair (with the one monumental failure of the little incident at the Shrieking Shack which had scared his boyfriend so badly he couldn't look Severus in the eye for days).
It was a relative peace that could not last.
Severus was still old fashioned enough to want to place status and wealth ahead of politics, and while it was just about acceptable to marry outside of ones class, it was definitely not acceptable to allow ones self to get mixed up with the political intrigues of the lower classes.
Only, bizarrely, that was what was happening. James Potter and Lucius Malfoy, who under normal circumstance would be forced to put seven years of rivalry behind them upon graduation and work together in the future, were in fact using their personal rivalry as a starting point for anything else, Lucius standing as champion for Voldemort, James for Dumbledore. The old order was swiftly being replaced by something totally different, and Severus knew exactly where his allegiances lay: James was the class traitor and class rules dictated that he should support Lucius.
Remus wasn't impressed, and for the first time James sided with Sirius in an attempt to end the now wholly inappropriate relationship.
It was three years later before Severus finally saw that he had truly made a mistake in blindly following his friend.
For three years Voldemort hadn't seemed so terrible. Low down in the ranks, Severus had been at the back of any meetings held, and excluded from the real work of the Death Eaters, spending most of the times in potions laboratories. Then, suddenly, he was being fire-called by Lucius, being told that they were needed for an important mission.
He killed someone for the first time that night, a screaming muggle in whose eyes the last thing he saw was not hate, or fear, but confusion. He killed someone who had no idea what he had done wrong.
When he returned home to find his lover absent Severus was hit with the magnitude of what he done, who he had become.
He would have killed himself that night if it hadn't been for the timely arrival of Lily Potter.
She had arrived in his flat in time to push the handful of pills onto the floor, crushing them with her foot. She hadn't asked him why, hadn't shown any anger towards him. Instead she took one of his hands and laid it on her belly.
"I won't have my child surrounded by death," she vowed. He had looked at her wided-eyed and she continued, "I just found out I'm pregnant, we're having an impromptu party. I wanted you to be there."
"I just killed someone," he responded without thinking.
"Then I guess you won't be coming to the party then."
"I take it you're not so enamoured with your side anymore then?"
"I think I've only just realised that there really are sides."
"You should try ours on for size. It has Remus in it."
"They think we're over."
"Then they are blind. But we can use that. Ever considered espionage?"
"Not until now."
"Come with me then."
Two minutes later he was pouring his heart out to Albus Dumbledore, promising to spy for him.
It was the last time he would ever see Lily Potter and it was the way he would always remember her, one hand laid across her non existent belly, smiling contentedly at him.
Lily had given him Remus back.
Now he could only pray her son wouldn't take him away.
'Right, talking to Remus, doing the mature thing, the sensible thing,' Harry encouraged himself as he walked towards the older man's quarters, 'facing up to my mistakes, apologising like the noble Gryffindor I am…were these corridors always this long? And why is he so far away from the main school. He could eat me and no one would know anything about it. This is a really bad idea…no, facing up to things, being…being…oh God, here I am. The corridor is ridiculously short isn't it? Ok, raise had to do, knock on wood…'
The short, timid taps on the door seemed to ring out in the quiet corridor and Harry stood outside the door, more nervous that he could ever remember being before.
'Ok, so he's not in, bad luck, try again next year, bye…'
Harry was about to leave when the door opened and Remus looked down at the younger boy in surprise, "Harry!"
"Hi Remus," Harry was upset to see how tired the other man looked, and not unreasonably blamed himself for it. "Can I come in?"
"Sure," Remus was trying hard not to sound too pleased, too eager, too relieved.
Harry sat in what had always been his favourite armchair and watched the other man sink back down into his own favourite chair.
They sat in silence for several minutes, just looking at each other until finally Remus spoke, "Harry," he began, stopping abruptly, "Harry, why are you here?" The exhaustion and despondency in the man's voice tore at Harry. Had he driven Remus away for good? Without thinking it through Harry began to speak, talking fast, his words falling over each other.
"God Remus I'm so sorry, I just, I just wanted to say that, wanted you to know that I should never, should never have said what I did, like I did. I know that you…that you would never do that, that you and Sirius were never, never you know. And I know I should have come here earlier, sooner, to apologise, but I couldn't and I'm so sorry, really I am. Can you ever forgive me?"
"Well, that was…unexpected," Remus smiled slightly.
"And unwelcome?" Harry asked nervously studying the werewolf's face, unable to read him at all.
"No, definitely not unwelcome," the smile was real this time, far more like the Remus Harry knew and loved. "I suppose I owe you an apology too. Hermione told me a month ago that you were under the impression that Sirius was my mate and I did nothing. It was far easier, you see, to leave some things unsaid. But I will not apologise for loving him."
"Nor should you," Harry blurted out, flushing slightly. "I don't like it, I don't like him, but I am not under any illusions about separating the two of you."
"Good," Remus positively growled.
They sat in silence, a more comfortable silence than before but silence not the less. Remus couldn't help but be proud of the boy before him. James, he reflected sadly, would not have apologised so quickly nor so genuinely, it was something of Lily that was showing through in the man her son had become.
"How are you doing Harry?"
"What," genuinely startled by the turn of the conversation, Harry had to think for a moment before he could work out what Remus was referring to. "Oh, the whole power explosion thing? It was rather alarming. I've…I've tried so hard not to do things like that and then it just…leaked. I could feel this energy leaving me and I was trying to get a hold on it and I just couldn't touch it. Usually I can catch it, stamp it down."
'Oh God,' Harry sighed inwardly. There had been a reason he had never bought all this up before. He just wanted to be a little bit normal, just for a moment. "Hagrid asked me, when he came to deliver my letter, he asked me if I'd ever made anything happen, anything I couldn't explain. And there were all sorts of things I could have told him about. This one time I had this horrible haircut and I really hated it and it all grew back over night. And there was an awful jumper that shrunk so I couldn't wear it. And there was this one time when Dudley was, was chasing me and I ended up on the roof of the school. I didn't tell him this, you understand, I just nodded. And I'm glad I did, because the general consensus seems to be that, yes, sometimes there is one thing that happens that proves the existence of magic, but not a whole list of things. And I have a list. And every time it happened I felt this, this whooshing of what I now know to be magic, I felt it just running out of me and I couldn't catch it in time. Couldn't catch it because I was so caught up in…in being afraid or upset."
He finally fell silent, looking down at his hands because he wouldn't look at Remus, because he didn't want to see pity or fear in the older man's eyes.
"Harry, Harry look at me. Have you ever considered that this is a good thing, that you've been given an immensely powerful gift? That all of this is somehow tied together, the power, the panic, Draco. That it is all part of the same problem? You are a hugely powerful boy Harry, and you can control that power, use it so what happened on Friday doesn't happen again."
"I could?" The mixture of shock and relief as the boy replied tore at Remus' heart.
"Harry, why didn't you tell me, tell anyone this before?"
Harry looked down again, his reply spoken so softly it was barely heard. "I thought, I thought it was wrong. It scared me and I'm the Boy Who Lived. I'm not meant to be scared. I thought it was something bad."
"Right," Remus had almost accepted the answer but something told him he should push a little further. "What scared you Harry? The power? Or Draco?"
'Shit.' "Honestly? The power doesn't scare me, it, it feels nice, like things can never get too bad, like there's some last minute defence system. Like, if someone hurts me bad enough I can hurt them back. And it is that that scares me, that I could like hurting someone."
"And Draco," Remus wasn't going to let it go, no matter how much the answers were troubling him.
"I don't think about it."
"I don't. It's just something that happens and that goes away. Yeah, sometimes I think he's hurt and it hurts so bad I can't breathe, but it goes away."
"Why don't you think about it?"
"Because I hate the prat, that's why. He's spoilt and obnoxious and a bully and…"
"How do you know?"
"How do you know what he's like? Have you ever spoken to him?"
There was no answer to that that Harry was prepared to consider, so he stayed silent.
"Think about the answer you just gave me. Spoilt, obnoxious, a bully…they are all descriptions of how he acts, not who he is. And if you ever feel that strongly about him, then maybe your subconscious wants you to find out who he is."
Still Harry stayed silent.
"Look at Severus," Harry groaned, quietly, but audibly enough to rile the werewolf, "you call him a 'greasy git'. A judgement based purely on his looks. He is surly, he doesn't go to any trouble to be popular, he is sarcastic. I'm not going to deny any of those descriptions. But I've talked to him," Harry raised his eyebrows at that but Remus ignored the gesture, smiling slightly. "I know him, and I know he is kind, caring and loving. And yes, maybe his is all those things only to me, but he is those things none the less. What I'm trying to say, in my own roundabout way, is that sometimes you have to look past the surface of people Harry."
"Well maybe I don't want to," Harry snapped, before breaking down completely.
He was seventeen years old, and the last thing he wanted to do was sob like a baby, but all the same he found himself in Remus' arms, sobbing onto his shoulder with no real knowledge of when he decided to cross the room to where the other man was sitting.
Remus himself was in rather a state of shock. One moment they had been talking and the next he knew Harry had started sobbing, just sitting there, tears running down his face. Remus had pulled the boy over to the sofa where he was sitting and just held him, waiting for the storm to blow over.
"This isn't how my life should me," Harry spoke finally, his body still shaking from the powerful emotions, face still pressed against Remus' shoulder, " I just want to be normal, have a mum and dad. That's all I ever wanted. And I know that'll never happen but why can't I have the rest of it? Why can't life just be a little bit normal? I know where my life should be going, it's clearly been planned out by everyone around me. I'll defeat Voldemort, marry Ginny and live happily ever after, probably playing Quidditch until they force me to retire, after which I'll teach at Hogwarts and watch my children grow up. That's the way it should be. So why can't I look to the future and see myself settling down with a wife and 2.4 children? What's wrong with me Remus?"
"Nothing Harry, nothing at all. I think it's just time you realised something really rather important: just because life didn't turn out quite like you thought it would, doesn't mean it turned out wrong."
Harry didn't say anything, but he had finally stilled. Turning the boy in his arms, Remus lifted his face to his, "better?"
"Yeah, sorry for being such a baby."
"Catharsis Harry, muggles swear by it."
"Cleansing of the emotions."
"Is there anything you don't know everything about?"
"Synchronised swimming. A total mystery to me."
Harry smiled, suddenly feeling better than he had done in weeks.
"The answer's yes," he spoke without thinking, looking earnestly at Remus.
"Yes, yes I have talked to him. Twice. The first time was in Madam Malkin's robe shop, he was getting fitted for robes and I walked in. He was the first wizard my own age I met. He had no idea who I was and he still talked to me," Harry paused here, wondering if Remus understood how important that had been at the time, how important that fact still was. "He was trying to be friendly I guess, and I just stood there like a muppet, feeling stupider by the second. I just gave one-word answers, until he insulted Hagrid, after which I kinda stormed off. The second time was in fifth year, when everyone was all scared of me. He wasn't. He…it meant something, that he came over to me. So there you go."
Before he could say anymore Harry most decidedly changed the subject, saying in a much brighter tone, "I'm famished, you got anything to eat around here?"
Remus ordered up some food and they spent another hour eating and chatting, not touching on what had happened in the last few days, but secure in the knowledge that those events were no longer a taboo between them.
Harry left Remus' rooms feeling much lighter than he had done in days. His guilt was lifting, Remus forgave him and Ron would probably do the same.
All wasn't well in his world, but it was getting there.
So naturally who should Harry see at the end of the corridor into which he had just turned but Draco Malfoy.
Gathering himself together he held his head high and firm determined to walk past like nothing had happened, like they were still happy being enemies, like he did know that Draco knew he knew what lay beneath that cool exterior.
Unfortunately he happened to glance at the other boy's face, at the unsettled demeanour and the slightest flickering of something akin to hope cross his face. The boy quickly adopted his own 'holier than thou' air, tossing his head back, sneer firmly in place, but it was too late for Harry. He couldn't pretend, couldn't deny and more to the point, he suddenly realised with startling clarity that he didn't want to.
"Just because life didn't turn out quite like you thought it would, doesn't mean it turned out wrong." Suddenly Harry had an inkling of what Remus had meant and decided to bite the bullet.
Meeting the other boy's eyes he smiled tentatively and nodded, "morning Draco."
"Morning Harry," the other boy replied as he walked past, an astonished look on his face, but also something not totally unlike a smile.
END OF CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR
So what did you think?
I have many and varied insecurities about this chapter (hence the need for a beta, one I'd actually use this time!) not the least, the spelling of Snivellus, the long detour into the past, the long narrative, etc.
I think you get the picture.
I'll shut up now!
Harry and Ron talk.
Harry and Draco talk.
(yup, lots of talking! Yeay! But seriously, pop by my LJ for comments and things about my fics and also, if people do go there, I wanna use it as a kinda sounding board for other fics I've got flying around my head!)
wintermoon2: you reviewed twice! Yeay. Of course, they were identical, but never mind. Sadly, I still feel all smug when I see you like my story – you being a total goddess and all! Makes me feel like less of a fangirl! How did the fanfic essay go anyway? I'd love to read it sometime, see what kinda thing you've written about. I obviously did totally the wrong degree if you can incorporate fanfic into yours. I'd put money on the fact that the lecturers in England have never even heard of it!
Teo: glad you like the story.
Scorn-Silverstar: sorry for the horribly long wait, and not overly long chapter. Forgive me, please!
Taddybear: glad you liked it – hope your author alert is working now.
Slice: thanks, as always.
Rachel: well, we are getting closer, aren't we.
Dragenphly: dramatic irony? Oh, that makes me all literary. Cool!
willow-nymph: thanks for the blush inducing review! So flattered. Glad you like it. Sadly, we all no JK isn't going to take the exciting route and go with slash. Darn it!
kendra1117: hope you survived the really long wait! So sorry.
Starry Serpent: glad you like the story!
Peachylaura: Ron had to be redeemable, I'm afraid, I just don't do dark and angsty fics. It does seem a tad Ron/Pansy doesn't it? I didn't want to do the whole clichéd thing of Ron/Pansy and Hermione/Blaise in the same fic, it's so overdone. But I do adore Ron/Pansy. Glad you like the story anyway.
Plaintosee: you and me both with the no time! Glad you like Harry's POV now. Shame you didn't like my one-shot, though, maybe you'll like the next one.
dragonlady77: I'm afraid I'm running out of ways to get more child!Harry/Draco bits in. Though I might be able to get one more Harry bit it, just to even it up and all that!
LadyLilyPotter: glad you like it – as for the pairings, well I'm not totally sure where they are going either. They seem to be heading a totally clichéd) way I don't want them to go and are going there without my approval!
Gizachick: you've been avoiding this fic? sob poor me and my fic. Glad you like it now though. I find myself doing that sometimes, and then wondering why I left it so long. Hope you continue to like this though. Pansy isn't Draco's girlfriend, they're just really close. As for Harry thinking Draco is his mate, this isn't the same as Remus/Severus – rather Harry doesn't have a better way to desribe how he feels. Does this answer that one?
TheTrueSilver: it's going so slow because … well, life really! Hope this goes some way towards making up for the huge gap between updates.
dracoslover333: not making heaps of sense! I'm going to take that as a mostly favourable review though – hope this is a chapter you like.
Erin: glad you like it – the sheer volume of reviews for both my stories where people are pointing out how long I've left the updates are making me chuckle!
Also thanks to broken-angel-gurl, despereteforu2update, Emeric, Ura, Lisa M, Rosa, Benjis VIP, PeaChes12, Valerie, till-iburnout, driven to insanity, Liber Creperum-Liber Diabolus, High?D and Nemati