A/N: Thank you to everyone who reviewed. This chapter is for all of you. I'm also hoping that the italics will work on this chapter. Can someone mention it in a review? I'm also wondering everyone's opinions on things like slash and Severitus challenge. At the moment, I'm leaning more towards the slash than anything else. If anyone is really against these, please tell me! I honestly don't want to upset you guys, but I myself am a fan of this type of stories. I am going to change the rating to R, even if I don't include these – not that I think that the sexuality of the relationships in the fic should have influence – but I was thinking that I want to include a more heavy relationship than I was before. I am warning you though, that this fic will probably end up with slash in it, even if I chose not to include the challenge and even though your opinions will affect my decision, I will make the final decision depending on my personal opinion. I'm sorry if this will bother you. Any comments on anything change-related (like things you want to be included in the fic, things you don't want, etc) would be appreciated. That's all for now, I guess, so on with the story!
Disclaimer: Mine is mine. JK's is JK's. If you have any questions about what is and isn't mine, feel free to email me at danradsummer – just take away the spaces.
Chapter 9: Vesica
Harry awoke at ten o'clock the morning after the meeting in the Leaky Cauldron and shuddered at the memory. The meeting had gone on until five in the morning.
Harry had stumbled to the car, and ended up being levitated back to the castle from the Portkey Lift.
Today was going to be fairly busy as well, though not as busy as the day before.
"Good morning, Mr. Potter"
It was Poppy Pomfrey.
"Go 'way" Harry mumbled, turning over in the bed. But Madam Pomfrey wouldn't take no for an answer, so half an hour later, Harry found himself sitting in the Great Hall at a table with Bruce, Moody, Tonks, Remus, and Professor McGonagall.
Everyone was laughing and having a good time discussing Snape.
"I don't know what he's upset about, really. I'm fine looking like this" Tonks chuckled.
Seeing as Harry had been asleep when they arrived back at Hogwarts, everyone was still in their disguises – something that Snape wasn't overly pleased about.
Bruce rolled his eyes at Tonks. "Well that's 'cause you were able to change yourself back. The rest of us can't and Snape doesn't like the way he looks"
"Has he tried any charms?" Remus asked calmly, not wanting to sound happy at the Potion Master's expense.
"He's tried everything," McGonagall answered, "It's done nothing"
All eyes turned to Harry, who just laughed. After a minute or so, he finally calmed enough to talk. "No one can change back unless I make them change back"
"Well don't change me back, Potter. I'm happy like I am now," Moody stated gruffly.
"Do you like the way you look?"
"Not too bright, are you lad? Nobody likes looking like that! Even us men" He winked at Harry, and continued, "Not that you aren't a man . . ."
A chorus of chuckles broke out, and Harry, trying to avoid laughing at Moody's twisted antics, glanced around the Great Hall. Over the past few days, he had come to admire and respect many of the men and women staying at Hogwarts. Apart from the various professors, some of the Order was staying. Any of the professors who had families were allowed to bring them to stay for the holidays. Harry discovered that Madam Pince had a charming young son, Caleb, who was going to be starting at Hogwarts that year, and Professor McGonagall's sister, Maina McGonagall-Church, even stopped by to visit. Maina was going to be the new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor when September arrived, and she was moving all her belongings to the castle near the end of July.
Just as the laughter died down, the doors to the Great Hall flew open. A tall man with long blonde hair came storming into the Hall, robes billowing out behind him.
The Headmaster looked up from his soup. "Ah! Mister Malfoy! A pleasure. What brings you here at this time of day? During the holidays, no less!"
"I must speak to you at once, sir" Lucius stated.
"Allow me one minute, please, I would greatly appreciate it if you would let me finish my soup"
The blonde nodded curtly and stormed back out the large doors.
Chatter resumed as Dumbledore proceeded to empty his soup bowl. As soon as he finished he rose calmly from his chair and walked out of the room in silence.
Harry turned to Bruce, who was sitting on his left and asked, "Isn't Malfoy supposed to be in Azkaban?"
"Nah, Fudge refused to put him there despite being captured at the Ministry"
"WHAT?" exclaimed Harry, before bending over and banging his head on the table "Why do we have to have a such a bloody ponce as a Minister?"
McGonagall looked at him sternly. "Mr. Potter. That is quite inappropriate!"
"Sorry…" Harry didn't sound sorry in the least. "So who was taken?"
"Not many of them," supplied Remus "Only four, I think. There was McNair, Crabbe, Goyle, and Dolohov. Oh. And there was Nott too."
Remus nodded glumly.
Harry sighed, and pinched his nose in irritation, preventing a headache from appearing. "I'm going to go back upstairs, and then I'm going to come back down and it will have been a dream . . . a really bad dream."
Bruce grabbed Harry's arm as he stood, stopping him from leaving.
"What now Bruce?"
"It's not that bad Harry. Come on, finish your breakfast and then you can join me going to Hogsmeade"
Harry sat back down and poked at his food with his fork, still grumbling about Death Eaters.
At about half past eleven, Harry could be found walking down the halls of Hogwarts towards the Headmaster's office. He wasn't sure if the elder Malfoy would be there, but his presence had been requested.
When he reached the gargoyle, he paused briefly before starting to list off the names of various sweets.
"Er . . . pumpkin pasty? Chocolate frog? Cockroach cluster? Blood lollipop?" To Harry's surprise, the statue graciously leaped aside to show the spiral staircase behind it. Blood lollipop? He thought, chuckling, of all the things…
Before he had the chance to knock on the large oak door, a voice came from inside, "Come on in, Mr Potter"
Sighing, Harry turned the handle and entered the room.
As he had guessed, Lucius Malfoy was sitting in one of the plush chairs in front of Dumbledore's desk. But something was different about him – both in the way he held himself and the aura he gave off.
"Professor Dumbledore, sir? You wished to see me?" Harry acknowledged the blonde with a slight nod of his head before turning back to the Headmaster.
"Yes Harry. Please take a seat. There is much that needs to be said"
With a guarded look on his face Harry sat down next to Lucius.
"Now Harry, I don't want you to react in any negative way, so I feel that I need a promise that you will do all you can to not be violent"
Harry's curiosity being peaked, he readily agreed, "If you wish, sir. I promise not to be violent in any way, shape or form, to the best of my abilities"
"Good, good. The first thing I need to inform you about is Mr Malfoy's avoidance of prison. I am sure that you have been wondering about the many Death Eaters who have not been to Azkaban that had attended the event at the Ministry." At Harry's nod he continued. "It has been recently discovered that our dear Minister, Cornelius Fudge, has a rare form of schizophrenia, and he has become an honorary Death Eater. Lord Voldemort, knowing this, decided not to Mark him, therefore he does not know of his own involvement. He signed the release papers for many Death Eaters while not in his right mind. This said, the near encounter with prison has led Mr Malfoy to believe that his loyalties should lie in another location – with you."
Promise or not, the disbelief and anger caused by this statement caused Harry to stand and turn to face the blonde.
"Malfoy" he spat "What the bloody hell is your problem? How can you think that you can just waltz in here and expect me to believe you? Having Dumbledore convinced is enough to make me wonder what you've done to him, but trying to convince me about your loyalties when I've seen you… seen you… kill and murder and cower at the feet of that … that … thing, now that I can't believe!"
Yelling at Lucius Malfoy had never been something that people have done, and even if someone was going to be able to, it was not going to be Harry Potter.
"What have I done to your Headmaster? What have I done to your Headmaster? You want to know? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! I came in here this morning to tell him about the latest meeting, so that your life can be saved, and all you do is accuse me of fooling with the mind of the great Albus Dumbledore!"
"Oh. So now you want me to believe that you're trying to save my life! Bloody hell, you think more highly of yourself than I would have ever guessed! And don't bother interrupting me! Do you know what I've been through at your Master's hands? No, I don't suppose you do. My whole life has been centered on him. Even when I was a child and didn't even know he existed, it was because of him that I lived with my relatives! And you know why I did that? Because your Lord, the ever-feared Voldemort, killed my parents! Yes that's right, he killed my parents!"
Before Lucius could retort, Dumbledore came around his desk and put a hand on both of their shoulders. "That is enough, Harry - and you too Lucius. I would have expected better from the both of you. Now sit down, and we shall discuss this rationally"
His voice left no room for argument, and both men sat down in their respective seats.
"Now as I was saying," the Headmaster continued as if nothing had happened at all "I have administered a heavy dose of Veritaserum to Mr Malfoy, and he has proven himself loyal to our cause. I do not know what other way you wish for me to confirm his loyalties."
Harry was desperate. "Can't Voldemort have come up with a counter to Veritaserum? I mean, why would Malfoy of all people change sides?"
Dumbledore sighed. "Harry, please accept this, even if it is only for the time being. I think Mr Malfoy should at least be able to explain himself before you attempt to send him off to Azkaban. I would like to remind you of your late godfather"
This, apparently, was the correct thing to say.
Harry turned his back to Dumbledore and said in an unusually calm voice, "Lucius, you have one hour"
Sitting on the edge of his bed in the Hospital Wing, Harry thought about all that had happened during the day so far. It was just past supper, and Harry still had a meeting with Vesica Bacchatio, the clothing designer, to look forward to.
Harry had left Dumbledore's office at approximately one o'clock, which had left the afternoon free for a trip to Hogsmeade with Bruce, like promised.
"Harry! Are you still up for a trip down to the village?" Harry turned on his heel and saw Bruce standing a few meters behind him. "Or has the old man ruined your Hogsmeade spirit?"
"I still want to go, but I have to say that the man has the worst timing"
"Well go get changed – there should be some clothes from me by your bed – and I'll meet you on the Front Steps in twenty minutes. Will that be enough time?"
Harry smiled. "Yeah. That'll be fine"
Instead of walking all the way to the small-getting-larger village, Bruce and Harry decided to make a grand entrance like they had in Diagon Alley. They chose to summon their brooms – Bruce had a Nimbus 2000 – and fly down to the town on them. Bruce winked at Harry and cast an uncommonly used Intimidation Spell on Harry's robes, causing them to billow out behind the broom.
Their arrival in Hogsmeade was noticed by a large number of the citizens, and a group had gathered in the streets by the time they landed. Immediately a voice from the back of the group asked how Harry was doing.
"No comment" was all that Bruce said while leading Harry towards the first store, which happened to be Honeydukes. Once inside, the younger wizard began to laugh.
"Oh Merlin, that was funny! All I did was come to Hogsmeade and everyone turned up!"
Bruce chuckled before asking what he wanted to purchase.
The rest of the afternoon was spent browsing the shops and avoiding the avid Harry Potter Fans.
For Harry, the biggest shock of the day came when he went into a little-known store which sold memorabilia and souvenirs for Hogsmeade and Hogwarts. Hog Memories was a small building filled with different hats and items symbolizing the locations. There was a booth near the entrance that had a large picture of Harry on it and a sign that read 'Official HPFC Memberships Sold Here"
Bruce laughed, noticing the sign.
"What? Why's my picture here?"
"Do you have a guess for what HPFC stands for, Harry?"
Harry sighed. "No. If I did, I wouldn't be wondering, would I?"
"HPFC stands for Harry Potter Fan Club. That's the reason for the picture"
"WHAT? I have my own fan club? Mighty Merlin, why me?"
The yelling attracted the attention of the shop-keeper. She approached the pair and was about to ask what was the matter, when she noticed Harry's scar.
"Oh Merlin! Harry Potter, in my shop! My oh my oh my!"
She asked for a signature, just so she could 'prove Harry Potter was in Hog Memories'. At a look from Bruce, Harry agreed, albeit reluctantly, before leaving the building.
Just before supper, Harry and his older companion again mounted their brooms and headed back to Hogwarts with bags hanging from the handles and moneybags considerably lighter.
They were greeted at the front doors by Professor McGonagall.
"Harry, you need to eat before getting dressed to go to Diagon Alley. Tonks has been nice enough to donate some clothes for the occasion. As for you Bruce, you should join him for supper and meet him here so that you can decide how you are going to enter this time. I expect you will be going as his bodyguard again?"
"More as his friend. Remus will be joining us as an extra person. He also will be guarding a Portkey in case there is need for one."
"Good. The Lift will be waiting in the same location as yesterday. Now hustle – there is only an hour until you should leave."
With that they said their goodbyes and the two wizards rushed into the Great Hall for something to eat.
Having just under ten minutes until he was supposed to be at the door, Harry stood and peeled of his clothes before getting re-dressed in the clothes given to him by Tonks.
The ensemble consisted of black pants, expensive looking yet somewhat casual; a white collared shirt that didn't button up past mid-chest; and a casual looking suit jacket that, when added to the pants and shirt, made Harry look very aristocratic, considering they were not tailor made like the clothes he would be receiving later. He grabbed the black robe with silver accents and placed it carefully over the suit.
Straightening his shoulders, Harry exited the Hospital Wing and made his way down to where Bruce and Remus were waiting.
The two men looked up from their conversation as he came down the Grand Staircase, and both commented on how good he looked before they rushed him out the doors and down to the Quidditch Pitch.
The Portkey Lift arrived at the same place as it had the day before and the black limousine was still there too.
The drive to Diagon Alley was much less interesting than the last. Instead of talking about false identities, it was spent in silence with Bruce driving, Remus making sure not to touch the Portkey a certain way, and Harry trying to not rumple his clothes.
They arrived at Florean Fortescue's ice cream parlour five minutes early, so they went in and took a seat at one of the tables nearer the entrance.
Not minutes after they had settled, a woman looking to be in her mid-twenties entered the building. She glanced around and spotted Harry sitting at the table and made her way over.
She had auburn hair cut short, like a boy, and her skin looked as if it was highly tanned. Her posture was perfect and she had an air of pride and beauty surrounding her. Her face was narrow, yet full and her features were feminine and dainty.
"You must be Mr Potter – there's no wizard around with such wonderful eyes" She smiled before continuing, "I'm Vesica Bacchatio. Pleased to meet you"
Harry rose from his seat and took her extended hand and kissed her knuckles.
"Harry Potter, ma'am. The pleasure's all mine"
Bruce stood and introduced himself and Remus before politely requesting her permission to confirm that her loyalties did not rest with the dark side.
Vesica smiled again and agreed, rolling up her sleeves like asked.
One revealing spell and a few smiles later the four sat down to enjoy an ice cream before setting off for the fitting.
Vesica recommended that they go back to her apartment to continue, so the group got in the limousine and headed for outer London. Her home was a nice size, and Harry noted that it was well decorated for someone who couldn't be over twenty-five.
The work area was at the back of the apartment in a large room filled with shelves and racks covered in materials and designs for various clothes.
"Wow" was the first word out of Harry's mouth when he walked in.
Vesica laughed a light joyful laugh. "Well I do spend my days here. Now shut your mouth, and take off your clothes"
Harry stopped gaping and turned a deep shade of red. "Wha- what?"
Smirking, the young designer repeated herself, "I said, take off your clothes. You don't expect me to fit you with other clothes underneath, do you? If you wish, Messrs Lupin and Atnick can leave the room too" She glanced at the other two men, who were both a pinkish shade as well.
Shaking himself out of his embarrassment, Harry's blush faded and he composed himself.
"They can leave or stay, it is their choice. Do I need to be completely starkers?"
"No, unless you intend to be starkers underneath all the clothes when you wear them" Vesica replied.
So Harry, hesitantly at first, peeled off his robe, jacket, shirt and pants, leaving him standing in only his boxers (nice ones thank god, thought Harry).
Following Vesica's instructions, he stepped up onto a raised platform near the center of the room. Vesica grabbed a measuring tape and began to explain about the different types of clothes she made as she measured him.
But Harry had no idea what sort of clothes he wanted, and he interrupted her speech.
"Er… Vesica? I honestly have no idea what I would like. All I know is I am willing to buy whatever is necessary to fulfill my image and be comfortable at the same time. Can you just decide? I don't care about the cost"
Smiling her smile again, Vesica accepted and hurriedly finished the measurements.
She then began to dash around the room, knowing exactly where everything was, and came back to the podium moments later with design sketches.
"Harry, I was thinking that these would be good, but I'm not sure if you want to spend that much on all these outfits. There are quite a few of them"
Looking over the first few sketches, Harry realized that all of the designs were exactly what he had been looking for and said, "These are wonderful. I'll take everything you think will work, and as I said, I don't mind the cost"
Vesica grinned, blushed, and said, "Well I hoped you would like those – I made them for you and your image. I was so excited when you owled me, and I must have spent at least forty-eight hours on them."
Bruce, who was sitting off to the side listening to the conversation with Remus, spoke up, "Forty-eight hours! Are you insane Ms Bacchatio? Not even our young Harry here is worth that much time"
"Well I'm sorry if some people care about my reputation, Bruce" sniffed Harry, glaring at the man.
Bruce laughed and leaned back in his chair.
"We care, we just aren't about to spend hours on something you haven't yet approved. Actually… I don't know if I would spend that long on something you have approved!"
Smiling and chuckling, Vesica told them to be quiet, and turned to Harry.
"If I was to make you an entire wardrobe, like you asked, it would take a while. I do not make my clothes with magic like the rest of the wizarding world – I believe that it gives the item an impersonal feel. I would be able to have two or three done today, but the others would take a little longer. If you have two weeks, I would be able to finish the total order. There would be a wide variety of outfits – some clothes working with other pieces, and some only working with the ones they were designed to go with. Casual and formal would both be covered and others such as semi-formal and pyjamas would be fine as well. The total cost would be fairly high, seeing as the clothing would be designed for you and you alone, both in design and fit. There would be no other soul on earth I would sell these to, meaning you have an original style. If you wished for articles such as swim trunks and scarves other than the ones already in the plans, it would be of extra cost, but it would be no problem for me. I leave all decisions to you."
"Er… that sounds fine. I would like to have everything – including the swim trunks and accessories. Just make me everything you think is appropriate and I will purchase and wear it."
Vesica looked thrilled. "Are you sure about that, Harry? I mean, once I begin to make them, there is no turning back"
"No I'm sure" replied Harry "Is there more, or may I put my clothes back on?"
She told him it was fine to re-dress, and she turned to Remus and Bruce.
"I will be a few hours to make the first three outfits," she said "if you come back at, say, nine thirty, I will have enough finished to last you until Friday. Friday night I can deliver the completed ones to Hogwarts. I'll be done them all by next Friday." Turning to Harry, she continued, "Do you have any preferences for what I will make tonight?"
Harry didn't, so Bruce, Remus and Harry decided to go back to Diagon Alley to wait for half-past nine.
They said their goodbyes and made their way out of the building.
The few hours were spent window-shopping and Harry discovered that there was a new broom out – the Thunderbolt. It was made by the same company as the Firebolt, but it was the better version seeing as it was made three years later. But not knowing whether or not his lifetime ban on Quidditch was lifted, Harry didn't do more than look at it.
At nine o'clock the trio made their way back to the car and drove to Vesica's apartment again.
They were met at the door with a bundle-laden Vesica, and she quickly explained why she had more than three bags.
"I chose to do some of the simpler designs – they are equally nice, yet simpler to make. Because of it, I was able to make five instead of three."
This, of course, pleased Harry, and he said so. He took the clothes, handed them to Bruce and Remus, and approached Vesica.
"Thanks Vesica" he said shyly, before giving her a short hug.
She smiled and returned the hug, saying, "You're a cute kid, Harry. You know that?"
Harry blushed for a second before managing to cover it.
"Well I guess I shall see you on Friday then"
Vesica nodded. "You'd best be going. You never know who's around when it's dark"
So with that, the three males headed out the door and into the night.
A/N: Wow! That was the longest chapter yet! I'm actually really proud that I finally got this finished (even though I feel it is a bit choppy), and I am sorry that the last one was in April. I don't have much of an excuse, but I feel that I should defend myself in some way. I am a lazy person and I had a bunch of end-of-term projects and assignments that were assigned in early May that were to be worked on until June. Then I chose to take a reach-ahead (for those who do not know, that means take one of the next years courses as if it was summer school). That went until mid-July and then I have been on vacation since then. I know that this isn't really an excuse seeing as it's been more than three months, but I will try to update as often as I can for the next month. This said, I don't know how often that will be, but I will get at least one in before September. I hope you enjoyed this chapter and I hope you will keep reading! Reviews are appreciated!
Ps. Please tell me what you think about the subjects mentioned in the top author's note. Thanks!