A/N - implied adult stuff near end.
> > > > >
"Severus, Severus..." Voldemort said sadly, shaking his head as he looked down at Snape, who was kneeling before him, head bowed. "You disappoint me. When I call, I expect that my loyal followers will be at my side promptly."
"Forgive me, my Lord. I was not alone when I received your call. I tried to get away as quickly as possible without raising suspicion." Snape replied penitently.
"And who exactly was with you?"
From his tone, Snape knew immediately that Voldemort was aware his little 'lesson' had been blocked. He couldn't afford to lie to him. He wasn't sure if anything short of a demon could have blocked it. "Kulia's brother is visiting. He dropped by to talk to me."
Snape felt his unease growing, remembering what had happened when Kulia had made Voldemort's 'acquaintance'. "The snow elf."
Voldemort's snakelike eyes narrowed as he let out a hiss of anger. "That wretched bitch has relatives? I thought all of her ilk were dead and gone!" Then he looked thoughtful. "Even still... that couldn't have been a snow elf I felt."
Snape longed to shift uneasily, but knew that movement of any kind would not be tolerated without permission. He also knew Voldemort probably had a good idea what had blocked him. This might even be a test of his honesty. "He's actually her half brother. They had different fathers. He's half incubus."
"They have an incubus now?" Voldemort growled angrily, starting to pace in irritation.
"He shouldn't pose a threat. Incubi are pacifists."
"I'm well aware of their nature, Snape!" Voldemort snapped, making Snape finch. "But he is half snow elf, and they aren't pacifists! Far from it! Why else would he come here now if not to join their side?"
"He just came because Kulia is pregnant. Births are rare in their species..."
"Pregnant?" Voldemort asked sharply, pausing in his pacing. "Yes... that would explain it..." He said thoughtfully. "She shouldn't have been able to overpower me on her own... but in dire circumstances a mother can draw from the powers of their unborn child. It must be an exceptionally strong child to have amplified her powers that much... Who fathered it? Please tell me it wasn't that bloody shadow demon!"
"No... it wasn't the demon. I believe one of the Weasley twins is the father." Snape replied. Even with his Occlumency talents, he avoided lying directly to Voldemort. It was very hard to lie to him convincingly, so he tended to reserve it for when it was absolutely necessary. Best to dodge things and give half truths. Voldemort had never asked if she was carrying twins, and hadn't actually asked if Snape knew why the child might be strong enough to do him damage. Then he furrowed his brow, almost forgetting himself enough to glance up, but caught himself. "Shadow demons... I didn't think they could father children? Wouldn't it merely be the child of their host?"
Voldemort chuckled. "With magic, anything is possible. You should know that." He said mysteriously, then went over, taking a seat in his large, almost throne-like chair. "That shadow demon is far more trouble than it's worth. I should have known better than to take one of Lucius' suggestions. Sure it was fun to play with, but to put it in the grasp of our enemies? The daft beasts need constant supervision. I knew no good would come of the endeavor..."
"Forgive my impertinence, my Lord, but what exactly was it sent to do?"
Voldemort looked at him for a long moment and Snape quickly began expecting to be ravaged by the Cruciatus curse at any moment. Surprisingly, it didn't come. A little smile slipped over Voldemort's thin lips. It wasn't pleasant on his hideous visage. "It was to corrupt the minds of their precious Gryffindors of course. Their most prized students... imagine the chaos when the brave and trusted Gryffindors joined my legion of loyal Death Eaters! Admittedly, he did net me a few more recruits, but not nearly the number expected. And of course he was supposed to get Potter to kill himself once he'd gotten to Dumbledore's precious Hogwarts. Don't know what it's been playing at, staying there and leaving Potter alive all this time. It shouldn't have taken more than a couple of days for it to overpower his will to live enough to force his hand. That would have been almost poetic... Imagine the chaos that would have caused..." He said wistfully, then sighed. "What a waste."
Voldemort's mood appeared to be darkening, which could turn very dangerous for Snape, especially if Voldemort really was unhappy with him about something. "Actually, Potter did attempt it. He merely failed."
Voldemort's eyes widened as he sat up a bit straighter, his hideous smile returning. "Did he now? Oh do get up!" He said, waving him up impatiently as he realized he had yet to give him permission to rise. "Tell me about it." he said eagerly.
Snape got up, though he kept his head slightly bowed as was expected. "He slipped out of the tower and hid in the prefect's bathroom. Got in the tub and slit both wrists, but he was discovered and revived."
"Rotten luck, but then I suppose it couldn't really be that simple. Who saved him?"
Snape felt a flutter of unease inside. From the intensity of Voldemort's gaze he knew he had no chance of lying without being discovered. "One of the ghosts saw what he was doing and ran about screaming for help. If it wasn't him, it would have been someone else..." Snape gave a mental sigh as Voldemort started looking impatient. "Draco." Snape finally admitted.
Voldemort gave a little snort. "Malfoy's boy? He's turning out to be a rather huge disappointment. Stealing the demon away from his father... refusing to come along peacefully in Hogsmeade... helping heal people... then those things he said in the paper..." He shook his head. "Saving Potter's life as well..." He said in disgust, "He's proving to be more trouble than that old fool Dumbledore! Did he really marry that Weasley?"
Voldemort sneered derisively. "Well, I'd say Lucius' bloodline is assured. They'll probably pop out a dozen or so kids at least. Well, if I let them live that is. Lucius has said he may be willing to give up on Draco and merely father a new heir."
Snape couldn't bring himself to agree with that, choosing instead to remain silent.
Voldemort eyed him. "Fond of the boy, are you? Lucius said as much."
"I don't know if you could call it 'fond'." Snape said dismissingly, "He is an exceptional potion maker, which is depressingly hard to come by nowadays. For that reason alone I'd prefer to see him live. I don't want to be stuck in this wretched job forever, and he has the potential to be a passable replacement as Potions Master. Besides, knowing Lucius' tendencies I'm a bit doubtful that he'd be able to successfully replace Draco. He's far too fond of killing the women he molests, or at least damaging them too much to carry a child to term. Not to mention, he would need someone to raise the child, and I doubt any woman he successfully impregnated would take the job."
Voldemort chuckled. "Yes... we have had to work with him a great deal to curb his tendencies. The bloodlust is strong in that one." He eyed Snape appraisingly. "They know about our plans, don't they?"
There was no point trying to lie. "Yes. Well, at least I believe so. Seeing as I have not been privy to your plans, I can only assume what they have surmised is correct."
"And what have they surmised?"
"That you are attempting to create loyal demon/wizard crossbreeds."
Voldemort nodded. "I knew it was just a matter of time before they figured it out once they got ahold of that journal and the ingredients Lucius so foolishly ordered from the snow elf. What are they planning to do to oppose it?"
"I don't know, my Lord. They only figured it out last night. To my knowledge, they have no counter as of yet. I will be sure to tell you if they come up with something, though I can't think of how they could stop you should you succeed in creating them."
"Don't suppose you could get me those blood orchids?" Voldemort asked with a sarcastic smile.
Snape looked thoughtful. "That may prove difficult. They were at Hogwarts last I saw them. She gave them to Dumbledore. I have no idea what he would have done with them." He knew it lowered his current value to Voldemort to admit he couldn't get what he needed, but if he'd conceded that it was possible to retrieve them Voldemort might have sent someone else to get them instead, and he didn't want them making an attempt on Zabini Manor on the off chance they were there. Of the two targets, Zabini Manor would be far easier to take by force than Hogwarts. He still wasn't certain Voldemort was doing more than stringing him along for information before killing him at this point. If he had to die, he'd much rather do it alone.
Voldemort growled. "Destroyed them no doubt." He sighed. "Looks as if we must go to the backup plan after all." He looked over at Snape contemplatively for a moment, "Lucius believes Draco has done something to the shadow demon. He said he felt it leave the bloodline the other day. Tell me, what line did they bond it to?"
"The Zabini line."
Voldemort gave another snort. "I thought as much. That slutty little miscreant is the only other one who knows that accursed language, so I knew it had to have been him."
Snape carefully kept his face neutral. Very few people had known Blaise knew that language. He certainly didn't remember hearing Blaise's father spreading the knowledge around. Why would he? It would have been admitting to dealing with a snow elf on a regular basis. The only time he knew of it being discussed openly was when Fudge had come to Slytherin dungeon just after Kulia arrived with the journal. Was it one of the Aurors with him that had told Voldemort, or Fudge himself? "My Lord... if I may... why was I not informed of this hybrid plan? Or the attack on Diagon Alley or even the demon that was sent to Hogwarts? Surely its efforts would have been much more effective if I had been informed. I could have kept it in line, helped it along and prevented it from being discovered..."
Voldemort stared at him for a long moment, a little smile playing over his lips once again. "Let's be honest about this, Snape. I know very well you are currying favor on both sides. No matter who comes out on top in the end, you stand to be on the 'right side'. Do you think it has not occurred to me that, should you have information that could win this war outright, you might just hand it over to assure yourself a prime position in the resulting regime?"
"My Lord! I am and have always been..."
Voldemort waved it off impatiently. "You're loyal to the bone and nothing could ever turn you, yes, yes. It's all I ever hear from you lot. I still don't turn my back on you, now do I? I'm not so foolish as that. I know full well that those drawn to my service are rarely trustworthy. They obey me for three reasons: Fear, their own personal gain and because of what wicked pleasures I provide them that society at large would never tolerate... not because they feel any real sense of loyalty. They are loyal as can be until the moment it no longer benefits them. Look how quickly most of them fled and denounced my name when they felt I had lost all power. Most of them never even thought to look for me... to try to help me return to power. It is only my renewed power and the fear of my retribution that keeps them in line. You have never been as enamored of the lifestyle being in my service provides... that leaves only two reasons for your loyalty... and I'm not sure those are strong enough on their own, which makes you prime to turn. As strange as it seems, I'm more comfortable working with the sociopaths. Them I understand. Of course violent tendencies and bloodlust alone don't assure loyalty either. Look at Lucius. As evil and violent as they come, and I'm still going to have to deal with him when the time comes."
Snape eyed him for a long moment, then spoke carefully. "I trust the article in the paper came as no surprise...?"
"Please!" Voldemort replied irritably. "I've known from the off that little bastard would stab me in the back the second he thought it would profit him. Doesn't surprise me in the slightest that he would be putting plans for my eventual overthrow into place."
"I've long suspected he was less than loyal as well, but since he was working to your advantage for the time being I've just been having him watched. I would never let him pose a real threat to you, my Lord."
"Really... and who have you had watching him?"
"Crabbe and Goyle actually. They are always in his presence, so they were the logical choices."
Voldemort snorted. "Do you really think they would stop him?"
"Yes." Snape replied without hesitation. "Their lines have long been loyal to the Malfoys, but their allegiance to you takes precedence. Some people were born to follow... to serve, and those two are definitely in that group. In some cases, mindless muscle is exactly what you need. Once I assured myself they were loyal, I charged them with watching him. They may be thick, but I believe they could take him."
"It's nice to see you're so worried over my well being. Still... Crabbe and Goyle? They're too daft for me to even get a good read off of."
"I doubt very much that there is anything to read." Snape said with a little smirk, "But then their brain power isn't what I was looking for."
"True. Without the blood orchids, it will take a lot longer to get what we need to make our demonic servants... most of the women are just about due. Some are overdue actually. We have spells to quell labor when it starts, but many of them won't be able to go on much longer. We'll have to pick and choose which will go first. We're going to lose quite a number of them, but they're replaceable. Each Death Eater that I selected for this little 'project' was charged with tending to his own breeding stock, so Goyle's women are about the healthiest we have. He may be dim, but I think his wife had him pretty well trained before she died. His women might make good first choices after all. Thinking about it, the hybrids would have little use for intelligence anyway, and added physical strength would be a definite plus, even with part demons."
"I was wondering, did Lucius actually manage to let any live?" Snape asked with a little sardonic grin.
"Only four. He managed to impregnate a good dozen or so, but he wouldn't leave them alone. Killed a couple outright. A few managed to kill themselves. The others miscarried and were in no shape to try again, so he finished them off as well. After he finally realized he would be completely without demonic servants if he killed off any more, he finally left the last few be. Since then, I have had to use the Cruciatus on him twice for having his 'fun' with the other Death Eater's women. My followers tend to be rather possessive, and I can't have them squabbling amongst themselves. Besides, I don't want all of the women looking like his little wretches. I doubt his servants will be as strong as the others even if they survive. Now he's settling for going out and catching fresh girls for his 'entertainment'. Bit harder now. The Muggles have started catching on. Some of his favorite hunting grounds have even put curfews into effect because of all the 'missing persons'." Voldemort said with a chuckle.
"Even Muggles can figure out they're in danger if they are preyed on often enough. Not that they can do much more than hide, but still." Snape said dismissingly. "I'm curious..." He said hesitantly after a slight pause, "What did he think of yesterday's Daily Prophet?"
Voldemort chuckled merrily. "Lucius, of course, played off the entire thing as a ruse by Dumbledore to forge a split between me and 'my most loyal servant'. He claims it was you who helped Draco teach those house elves that wretched spell. He doesn't much like you."
Snape sighed. "Yes, I'm getting that feeling. I think he's still bitter over the fact that I never even had to go to trial. I told him it was your standing order to remain close to Dumbledore if something should happen to you so I would be in an even stronger position of trust for when you returned. He seemed to think I should disregard your orders and be more loyal to him, standing right beside him in that court room and even following him to Azkaban if necessary."
Voldemort nodded. "I've seen that in him more than once. He tends to try to discredit any who demonstrate more loyalty to me than him. Crabbe and Avery were the ones I had give him a little 'lesson' after that bloody snow elf got away. He's already started subtly hinting that Avery is less than loyal. I doubt Crabbe is far behind. The man is obviously convinced I am a mindless fool who can be bent to his will." He said, obviously amused by Lucius' predictability. "If it makes you feel any better, it was Lucius' mark I used to call you here. As much as I enjoyed watching his great discomfort, I would not have held the second call as long as I did if I didn't know it was being blocked. Sad as it seems, of the two of you, you appear to be the less likely to stab me in the back at the first opportunity."
Snape lifted his eyes hesitantly to meet Voldemort's. That sounded as if he had done that more to hurt Lucius than him... "So... where do I stand with you then, my Lord?"
"That's a bit of a sticky question. I would like to trust you, but I simply can't afford to. We are at a crucial juncture right now, and we cannot afford a slip-up... or a leak. You're the only one who is in a position to provide such a leak without my knowledge. Even depriving you of any pertinent information, as a Death Eater you can locate me at any time, and even so much as my current location could prove enough to make a shambles of my plans. I can't allow that, Severus."
"My Lord, I would never..."
"How's your daughter?" Voldemort asked softly, cutting him off.
Snape felt a shot of cold fear dart through him, but gave no outward sign of how very much it shook him that Voldemort knew about Pansy. "She appears to be content. Knocked up. Twins fathered by two different boys no less. She's a bit of a slut, just like her mother."
Voldemort looked amused, "Did you really not know?"
"How could I? The woman shagged over a dozen men that night, and that's just the ones I know about. I certainly didn't expect it was I who managed to impregnate her."
"Indeed. Well, she isn't a son, but she will be carrying on your bloodline. With great gusto from the sound of it."
"As I have no immediate plans of having more children, I suppose she'll have to do. Besides, if she doesn't get married I may still have a couple grandchildren with the Snape name." He gave a little smile, "Knocking up another man's wife appears to be the way to go. I didn't even have to be bothered with raising her."
Voldemort chuckled. "Yes. It is rather convenient, isn't it?" He rose from his chair again, coming up to stand before Snape. "You're going to have to make a decision, Snape." He said softly. "I have promised you all to protect your bloodlines should you prove yourselves loyal. You've never had anything to protect before. In order for you to get this extra... benefit for your newfound daughter... I will require a little reaffirmation of loyalty. Surely you understand."
"What would you have me do, my Lord?" Snape asked immediately.
"So eager." He chuckled.
"You think I want to have to deal with raising an infant?" Snape said with a slight grimace of disgust. "I'll stick to the full grown one, thanks."
"Only logical." Voldemort said with a nod, "You will prove yourself tonight. Until then, you will be my guest here." He snapped his fingers and the door opened. Goyle and Avery entered, coming over to Snape without a word being said. Snape's eyes went wide and darted over to Voldemort as Goyle pulled his robe open and took his wand.
Voldemort just smiled his gruesome smile. "Guest quarters, if you please gentlemen."
"Yes, my Lord." They both intoned, then Snape felt Goyle's large hand clamp around one arm, Avery's thin but strong fingers wrapping around the other as they propelled him towards the door without another word. All he could do was go where they led trying to retain as much dignity as possible.
As they left the room, he saw Lucius leaning up against the wall. He smirked evilly and gave Snape a little mocking wave as he passed by.
> > > > > > > > > > >
Draco rapped gently on the door. He almost hoped no one would answer. No such luck. Arthur opened the door within moments, looking out at him curiously. "Is there something you needed?" He asked, glancing at his watch.
"Sorry to call on you this early." Draco said, keeping his voice low so it wouldn't carry. It was barely dawn, and he didn't want to wake the others.
"No problem. I wasn't asleep. You don't appear as if you've gotten much sleep either..." He said, noting the weariness that was still readily apparent in Draco.
Draco's eyes avoided Arthur. "I got a couple hours in." He mumbled, not wanting to go into what had been keeping him up. "How's Penelope?" He asked, trying to put off what he came for as long as possible.
Arthur sighed. "She had a bit of a nightmare and started having contractions. Molly was able to stop them, but she won't leave her side now. Not that I can blame her. I haven't slept a wink either."
"I hope the baby's ok." Draco said worriedly. "How did you stop the contractions?" He asked curiously. He hadn't had to deal with pregnant women before, and that sounded like something good to know.
"A couple of shots of firewhiskey." Arthur said with a wry grin. "Calmed her right down and the contractions went away. She's in a rather good mood now actually."
Draco chuckled. "I'll have to remember that." He sighed, knowing he couldn't put it off longer. "I just came to..." He trailed off, his eyes coming to rest on the couch near the fire. Christian was laying on it, apparently asleep, his arms folded across his chest. It didn't pass his notice that one of the man's hands was tucking into his robe exactly where he kept his wand.
Arthur noticed his stare and smiled. "Refused to leave his charge unguarded. Couldn't have kept him away if we tried. Not that we would. Penelope seems to find his presence reassuring."
Draco shifted uneasily. "Well, Blaise seems to trust him." He said with a slight shrug. Actually, that carried a lot of weight with him. Blaise had never been very trusting of... well pretty much any adult males, most likely yet another remnant of the emotional scars his father had left him with. In fact, Snape was the only other one Blaise truly trusted that Draco knew of.
Arthur nodded. "Dumbledore's mentioned him. Always said he felt he was a good man."
"He belong to your little club?" Draco asked with a smirk.
Arthur looked back at him sharply. "What do you mean?" He asked a bit evasively.
Draco rolled his eyes. "I've known about your 'Order' for quite some time now. Father's crowd knows about you. Maybe not specifics like a rollcall of your members or anything, but they know Dumbledore has his own little brigade of loyals. Snape's told me a little bit too."
Arthur's eyes were wide with open shock. "He told you about us?"
"Well, like I said, I already knew through father's crowd, so it's not like Snape was leaking me information. He never told me your secret handshake or whatever it is you all do to identify eachother, who was in it or what you did other than try to fight the Dark Lord. We just talked. Occasionally he'd feel me out to see if I was ready to turn yet, but I was never ready to sign my own death warrant. I always knew Snape wasn't playing on the same team as father. I really can't figure out how that bloody snake could actually believe Snape was loyal. I've know since I was a child he was nothing like my father, just like he's known I'm not either. He's helped me when no one else could or would... and even saved my life a few times. No true Death Eater would do that. That's probably why he taught me Occlumency before I even got to school... wouldn't be good to have that information sitting out there in a defenseless child's mind, free for the taking."
"I see..." Arthur said slowly, giving a little nod. "Still, I hope he at least put it past Dumbledore first..."
Draco stared at him for a moment. "Do you think I'm a security risk?" he asked in a soft, serious voice.
Arthur sighed deeply. "I didn't say I felt you were now... but you must admit, you didn't act exactly amenable towards our side before..."
Draco rolled his eyes. "If you're talking about me and Potter, I had good reasons for going after him. Still, even when our little rivalry began, I would have sooner killed myself than give my father anything that would help bring his precious 'Lord' back to power. Father has been an evil, ruthless and violently abusive bastard my whole life... but in a private, very hushed up kind of way. I already spent so much time at St. Mungo's they kept my room reserved for me with my own things decorating it and everything... and that was him being subtle! You think I would ever have done anything that would allow him to run free as he's doing now? I've known my whole life what kind of raw evil dwelt within him. Without the need to keep up appearances, I have no doubt he has the potential to be twice as bad as the bloody snake Lord ever could be."
Arthur sighed again and stepped forward, slipping his arms around him and holding him comfortingly. It was hard to believe someone could be so blatantly sadistic to their own son, but from what he'd overheard from the others since they returned from St. Mungo's, he had no doubt this boy had been through a great deal at his father's hands. "I'm sorry, Draco." He said softly, "I shouldn't have questioned you."
The almost thoughtless act of paternal affection felt completely foreign to Draco. Part of him wondered what it would have been like to grow up with a father like this. He felt a little ache of longing inside, but quickly drew away. He didn't feel like he deserved such a gesture at the moment. Arthur didn't take offense. He flashed him a little smile of apology, assuming the gesture had made Draco uncomfortable.
"Well," Arthur began, quickly changing the subject, "In answer to your earlier question, no, Christian isn't in our 'little club'. I would say it's pretty obvious we can count on him and consider him on our side... but he's from a more traditional time. He'll do what's right, but he's loyal to his position even if not to the current administration, and therefor won't openly oppose the Ministry by joining a group that appears to currently be at odds with them. More just a technicality really. We don't have a problem with honoring his wishes."
"I see. Just didn't know how much I could say in front of him, even if he appears to be asleep... I've been sent with a bit of a message..."
"A message?" Arthur said, his eyes immediately alert.
"Snape's been called away and he wanted you to know."
"Called away by...?" Arthur asked significantly.
Draco nodded. "And from the sound of it, I don't think he should have gone. Apparently after the 'call', Snape didn't pop over there fast enough and the bastard did something that sounded a bit like the Cruciatus through his dark mark. Kept it up for over a minute before letting him go."
"A minute? Was he ok?" Arthur asked worriedly.
Draco nodded, "Ya... luckily Balthys had stopped in to talk to him and was able to block it."
"I should go check Molly's clock. She added Snape along with the others yesterday." Arthur said, grabbing his robe off the little rack just inside the door.
Draco shifted over in front of him as Arthur made as if to slip past him. "I can check it." He said quickly.
"There's no need. You go get some more sleep." Arthur said, shifting to the other side of the doorway.
Draco shifted in front of him again. "Just let me check it."
Arthur's eyes widened at the ever so slight ache Draco hadn't quite managed to keep out of his voice. He quickly pushed Draco back a few paces, pulling the door closed behind him. "What's happened?" He asked tensely.
Draco dropped his eyes. He opened his mouth, then closed it. How do you tell a parent their son has been dying over and over again all night? The elf that had been watching the clock had finished his shift and come by to give him a 'report' shortly before Balthys arrived. Percy had died a further nine times within the two hours after he and Harry had left, then whomever had him appeared to tire of whatever they were doing, and he'd only died once more about an hour previous.
"Did he...?" Arthur asked, his voice breaking and falling away.
"No! Not really..." Draco added, not wanting to lie to him outright. He took a deep breath and sighed it out as Arthur watched him searchingly. "He did... but then came back. A couple of times." he finally admitted. "I was afraid he might again while you were there..."
Arthur turned away, his breath shuddering in his chest. He leaned against the wall, pressing his forehead to the cool stone.
Draco's eyes stung as Arthur's shoulders shook. He could do nothing more than stand there helplessly, trying to pretend he didn't hear the soft sobs. "I'm sorry." He whispered after a few minutes. "This is my fault. I should have tied him up and dragged him back here if that's what it required..." He said as a few tears slipping down his cheeks. The guilt was writhing within him, filling him with an almost overpowering urge. He wasn't sure if the urge was to hurt whomever had Percy, or to hurt himself in retaliation for the pain his inaction had caused.
Arthur sighed, sniffling and trying to pull himself together. "No. It's not your fault, Draco. I'm the one who shut him out long ago. If I hadn't, I would have known what was happening... would have found a way to use the knowledge he had without putting him and his family in danger. It was my stubborn pride that put them in harms way in the first place. You had Kulia send the gargoyles. Without them, Penelope, Justin and the baby would be captured or dead by now. You're the only one who even tried to help them, and I'm grateful for that. You have no idea how grateful." He turned back, wrapping him in a tight hug again. "Thank you, Draco." He said softly.
Draco sighed and held him. He didn't feel he deserved any thanks at all, but it felt like Arthur needed someone to hold onto right now, so he didn't pull away. He doubted Arthur would share this knowledge with Molly, not wanting to upset her further, so he was unlikely to seek solace in her arms.
It took several minutes for Arthur to pull himself together properly, then with a silent consensus, they both made their way to the room that now held the clock. Draco led the way, not bothering to call a house elf. His sense of direction had gotten down right uncanny ever since he had discovered his power to change into a Thestral. Under more pleasant circumstances, he might have taken pleasure in the ease with which he found his way through the winding hallways. Right now, he couldn't get over the cold dread that had settled in the pit of his stomach.
When they reached the room, he took ahold of the handle of the now immaculately repaired door and took a deep breath, saying a silent prayer that Arthur would not have to see his son's hand return to that most feared spot. He braced himself, then opened the door. Arthur strode past him, hurrying up to the clock.
Percy's hand rested on 'Mortal Peril', but Draco had no opportunity to feel relief as he saw Snape's hand. It was not where it should have been at all. "Prison?" Draco asked, flabbergasted.
Arthur let out a sigh. "The clock must approximate if someone is not in any of the set categories. I can only assume this means something has happened, and Snape is being held against his will. This isn't good. Not at all. We must inform Dumbledore at once." Arthur said, his eyes straying to his son's hand anxiously, undoubtedly noting as Draco had before that it now rested noticeably closer to 'dead'.
"Balthys said he sent a message to Dumbledore before he left using a portrait..." Draco said, trying to distract him. "We could go use that. It would be faster than an owl, and it couldn't be intercepted."
Arthur sighed, pulling his eyes from the clock with great effort. "No. I don't want to alarm Hermione. I've a portrait of my own I can use."
"I'll lead you back to your room then." Draco said as Arthur's eyes began to edge back towards the clock. He didn't want to wait around long enough for Percy's hand to take another sojourn where it shouldn't be.
Arthur gave a nod and flashed him a little smile, knowing why he was so eager to lead him off. He headed for the door.
Draco paused, looking down at the elf that had sat silently in the same chair the other had occupied earlier. "Keep an eye on Snape's hand now as well. I want to be informed of any movement. In fact, if any of those hands stray where they shouldn't I expect to know!"
The elf quickly nodded her little head, looking cowed.
"Thanks." He said offhandedly as he started off after Arthur.
The return trip was largely silent. When they reached the room, Arthur patted his shoulder, turning towards the door.
"He knew what he was getting into." Draco said softly.
Arthur turned back, looking at him questioningly. "Severus?"
Draco flashed him a little smile. "Well, I'm sure he has known since the beginning the risk he ran... I was talking about Percy. He came here on our wedding night. He didn't come in, but I went out and talked to him."
Arthur stared at him for a moment before responding. "What did he say?" he asked softly, sounding as if he wasn't sure he wanted to know.
"He knew the kind of trouble he was in... had known even before he wrote those articles. He said he felt he played a part in what is happening, whether he knew it or not, and he felt he had to set things right no matter what. I don't think he ever imagined they would go after Penelope though. He seemed to think they would just focus on him if he kept everyone else out of it. If I had any inkling it might be my father going after him, I could have told him he wouldn't limit his scope like that. I think he figured they would just kill him and be done with it."
Arthur closed his eyes and sighed softly. "Why didn't he come to me? Or barring that, to Dumbledore or one of the members of the order? He knew a number of them. Knows." He corrected himself quickly, looking pained.
"He didn't want to endanger you... and he seemed to feel that when the inevitable happened it would be easier on you and the family if you were still mad at him. Thought it would make it hurt less." Draco sighed as he saw Arthur flinch at the suggestion. "He just wanted to do what was right and take full responsibility for his actions without involving you. He loves you all very much."
"Did he mention... our fight?" Arthur asked softly.
Draco nodded. "That's what I asked him about in the first place. No one had really said much about it, so I couldn't understand the rift between you. He took full responsibility for it, and said he knew full well what he said to you was wrong. Her parents had apparently been rather wretched to them and were trying to break them up, but with that job he was finally going to be able to support her properly, so when you suggested he turn the job down he just kind of lost it. He said it was all his fault."
Arthur sighed. "How can it be his fault when I never even bothered to try to find out why he was acting the way he was. Just kind of assumed that his ego had become a bit over inflated. He's always been so very ambitious. Letting that assumption lay was my true failing."
"There has to be something we can do other sit here and stare at a clock and hope!" Draco said in frustration.
Arthur gave him a little commiserating smile. "I wish there was, but at the moment we don't even have any idea where he is. What can we do other than go outside the wards and say 'Here I am! Come and get me!' then hope they'd capture us rather than kill us outright, then hope they'd take us to the same place they're keeping Percy? And then what? At best Percy wouldn't die alone. I doubt that's what he wants. Somehow I don't think that would truly benefit anyone. Well, perhaps the bastard who's got him, but certainly no one in this family. Believe me, I've been trying to think of any way we could do something ever since I found out he'd been taken, and that's the best I've come up with so far. I've actually contemplated it."
Draco sighed miserably. "Ginny's not taking this well. I can't stand seeing her like this. Can't stand looking into her eyes and seeing pain. I feel like I should be out there doing something... anything that would make that pain go away... but I don't know how to do that! I don't think I can bear seeing her cry like that again."
Arthur took a deep breath, then forced a little smile. "Welcome to married life, Draco. I'd like to tell you it gets easier, but it doesn't. Seeing pain in my Molly's eyes still cuts me to the core. All you can do is try your best to make sure the pain never gets there in the first place... or deal with it the best you can when it does. Go get a bit more sleep, Draco." He said, giving Draco a consoling clap on the shoulder, then slipping back through the door.
Draco stared at the door for a long moment, then turned and started wandering down the hall. His insides were in turmoil. He just couldn't help but wonder what would have happened had he simply caught up with Percy and made him stay. Then again, what if Penelope hadn't been able to get to Zabini Manor without his assistance? Percy would be safe, but his family would be going through the tortures they were undoubtedly inflicting on him at the moment. He couldn't speak for Percy, but if it were the choice between Draco himself getting tortured to death or his father getting ahold of Ginny and the tiny baby growing within her, Draco wouldn't even have to think twice. He'd do anything to protect her. Then again, maybe Penelope would have made it there on her own and they could have all been safe...
His walked down corridor after corridor as his mind filled with 'what if's. He couldn't seem to make them go away. He needed someone to talk to, and he certainly didn't want to burden Ginny with this. He looked up and sighed. He was standing before Blaise's door. His feet seemed to have come to the conclusion even before his mind had.
He reached out and knocked. He certainly hoped Blaise was done playing with his relatives by now. He'd seen Tonks, Forester and Carys following them out the night before. He doubted they were just walking them to their rooms before bed. They'd probably been having a right fine orgy. He could certainly live without seeing that. He knocked again, then waited. He sighed deeply, then reached out and opened the door. He listened cautiously, then entered. The common room was empty, though there were quite a few articles of clothing laying about. The pillows and cushions on the couches were mussed a bit, the books all knocked off the coffee table and the tall standing reading lamp behind one of the couches was laying on its side with its shade broken. He tried not to think about what they might have been doing in there. Whatever it had been, it had definitely been enthusiastic.
He sighed, knowing the most likely place he'd find Blaise. He went over to the bedroom door and knocked once again.
"Cut it out!" Forester's voice called from the other side of the door. "That knocking shit is getting really irritating!"
Draco rolled his eyes and opened the door. If they didn't want him knocking they'd just have to deal with him barging in.
"Come to join the party?" Forester asked with a chuckle. He was laying on his back on the bed, Blaise cuddled up beside him and fast asleep. They weren't alone in the bed. Draco's eyes widened as he saw the girl who was draped across Forester, nibbling on his neck. She was mostly obscured by a sheet, but she had a long flow of smooth, deep red hair. It was a very familiar shade.
"What the Hell is this?" Draco growled angrily.
The girl looked over at him. "What's your problem, squirt?" She asked with a little amused snort. Even her face bore more than a passing resemblance to Ginny, though she looked a bit older.
"This your idea?" Draco demanded, glaring at Forester.
"What the Hell crawled up your ass?" Forester asked, furrowing his brow in irritation.
Blaise stirred, then looked over, spotting Draco. He rubbed his eyes, then followed his gaze. He grinned, his cheeks tingeing slightly pink. "I was feeling a bit nostalgic. Hope you don't mind."
"Nostalgic? What the bloody Hell has that got to do with getting my cousin to fix herself up like Ginny? You have a thing for my wife or something? Because I'll tell you right now, you even think about making a move on her and I'll give you a right fine pasting!"
The amusement had fled Blaise's face, replaced by an expression of deep hurt. "I... Draco, how could you even think... I would never touch Ginny!" He said in a pained voice.
"Real bloody convincing when you're laying in bed with her when she looks like that!" Draco said pointedly, gesturing towards Tonks.
Blaise opened and closed his mouth several times, but could muster no words. Tears were starting down his face and he pulled the covers off, getting up and walking briskly off towards the bathroom door.
"Blaise!" Tonks called after him pleadingly, but he ignored her, going into the bathroom and closing the door so hard that a crack nearly a foot across formed in the thick wood. She turned her eyes on Draco as they filled with anger. "What the fuck is your problem?" she yelled at him.
"Your appearance is my problem!" He growled back.
"What, you still have the hots for this little bint or something?" She asked archly.
"Well I married her, didn't I?"
"Well then someone better go tell Ginny you're a bloody bigamist!" Tonks said sarcastically, crawling over to the bedside table and picking something up. She flicked it at Draco angrily. "If I wanted to look like Ginny, I would have bloody well looked like her!"
He caught the odd, thin little square she had thrown and looked at it. It was a picture. Blaise had purchased a Polaroid camera and about a dozen packages of film on their little outing into Muggle London. He had been snapping off pictures almost constantly until he'd run through the entire lot, then he'd simply given the camera away. It was just the pictures he'd wanted. The little picture in his hand was one Blaise had gotten one of the Muggles at the bar they had frequented to take. It was him and Blaise... and a certain Muggle girl with dark red hair... the one they had shared later that night.
Draco let out a pained breath. He had never even realized how much she had looked like Ginny before. No wonder he'd taken such an instant liking to her! He looked up at Tonks, who was now standing before him, glaring angrily at him with her arms folded over her small, pert breasts. She was exactly as he remembered now that the picture had reminded him. He didn't remember the electric blue lace knickers or the bellybutton ring, but still.
He tossed the picture back over onto the bed, rubbing his hands over his face. "I'm sorry." He said softly.
"I don't think I'm the one you need to be saying that to."
Draco let out a little groan at the mere thought. He knew she was right, but he wasn't sure he could face Blaise after making such an arse of himself. Still, he knew he couldn't just leave it. He took a deep breath and went over to the bathroom door. He tapped on it. "Blaise?" he called softly.
He waited, but there was no reply. He tried the knob. It turned, but he had to force the door a bit as the hinges appeared to be damaged. As he peered in, he sighed. The tub against the back wall of the bathroom was styled after a Muggle hot tub in size and shape. Blaise was perched on the corner of the wide ledge that ran all the way around the tub with his back to him. He was sitting there, hugging his legs to him with his head resting against his knees, obviously crying.
"Blaise..." Draco said morosely, walking over towards him, "I'm sorry... I forgot about her... I just saw how much she looked like Ginny and jumped to conclusions..."
Blaise stiffened slightly at the sound of his voice, quietly sniffling and gathering himself. "It's fine, Draco. Just forget it." He said, trying to make his voice sound offhanded. He reached over, turning the knob on the tub.
Draco came to a stop behind him as he just sat there in silence, adjusting the water temperature. "Blaise please... just yell at me or something. I know I deserve it."
"Yell at you? Why? It's nothing I haven't heard a hundred times before. I'm just some amoral, thoughtless slag running around shagging anyone and everyone like a dog with two dicks. Hear it everywhere I go. Never bothered me in the slightest, because those people who said it didn't even know me. I knew if they took the time to get to know me..." He drew a shuddering breath. "You've called me a slut before. I could deal with that. Simple statement of fact, like you said. I guess I just never realized that you truly thought so little of me..."
Draco let out a little pained sound. "Blaise..." he said pleadingly.
"I've never once shagged someone who was in a happy relationship unless the person they were in a relationship with was in the bed with us! Don't you think I know how wretchedly hard it is to find someone you truly connect with? How could you think..." He trailed off as his throat tightened, shaking his head. "I love you, Draco." he said softly after a moment, "How could you think I would ever hurt you like that?"
"Blaise I'm sorry... I just... I'm tired and all strung out over what's happening... Percy and this demented plan and now Snape..." Draco said, scrubbing his fingers through his hair irritably.
Blaise's head popped up a bit, though he didn't turn. "Snape? What about Snape?"
Draco sighed. "The bloody 'Dark Lord' called him off and appeared to be in a particularly foul mood, and now Snape's hand on the clock says he's being held against his will." Draco sighed, then turned and sat on the side of the tub beside Blaise. "That's why I came here. I needed someone to talk to. You know how much I hate admitting to actually having emotions..." He said, flashing Blaise a little smile, but Blaise just kept staring down at the slowly rising water in the tub, his face impassive save for a few tears still wetting his cheeks. Draco sighed. "Please don't be like this, Blaise. I said I was sorry and I meant it. You're the only one I have to talk to... the only one I've ever felt I could be even remotely open with." He said, reaching over and resting his hand on Blaise's shoulder.
Blaise glanced at the hand, then over at Draco. "You don't have to gay yourself up on my account, Draco. It's probably uncomfortable enough for you to even be in the same room with me when I'm naked." He said, shrugging off the hand.
"I'm not uncomfortable around you." Draco said firmly, though it was a boldfaced lie at the moment. He'd always had his own personal lavatory, and even when changing for a quidditch match at Hogwarts they'd all had their own little rooms. He'd hardly ever been around even half undressed boys before, and therefore found it a bit off-putting, despite how close he felt to Blaise.
Blaise slipped his feet down into the tub and stood up in the ankle deep water, turning to face Draco. Draco averted his eyes reflexively. "Mmhmm." Blaise said, rolling his eyes. He sighed and settled down on the bench-like ledge that ran around the inside of the tub. He sighed, resting his head back against the side. "So what is it you wanted to talk about?" He asked. His voice sounded more resigned than actually eager to help him like it usually did.
Draco stared at the finely crafted tiles beneath his shoes. Try as he might, he couldn't bring himself to air his worries and frustrations. How could he burden Blaise with his personal problems after he had just hurt him? The guilt over the pain he had quite obviously caused him settled heavily on his heart, just another layer on top of the silent turmoil within him. He took a deep breath and let it sigh out. "Forget it." He said sadly, rising. "I just... need some sleep."
"Oh just tell me." Blaise sighed in exasperation.
"No, really. Not like I can do anything about it right now anyway. I should get back to bed before Ginny wakes and finds me gone. I'll talk to you later." He said, making his way towards the door.
Blaise sighed deeply. "Fine. Brunch is at eleven."
Draco glanced back and gave him a little nod. "See you then." He said, then prized the door open and slipped out.
Blaise shook his head, then shifted around, folding his arms up on the side of the tub and resting his chin on them. He valiantly fought off the dark thoughts that tried to crowd in on him. He stared absently at one of the fat, scented candles perched on the back ledge of the tub for ambiance. Its flame flowed up serenely, drifting back and forth in the minute air currents. He took a deep, calming breath and just lost himself in the flame, letting it occupy his mind completely, pushing all else aside.
Slowly the thoughts flowed away along with the tension in his body. There was no malice in that flame... no burdens or judgment. He let its purity and innocence flow through him until his body became no more than a vague, distant thing. The water crept up around him, cradling him in its warmth. He was aware of it only as a gently flowing sensation, swirling lazing around him, serene as the flame before him. He let his mind drift with it, feeling its gentle brush caressing him... slipping through him... leeching away the excess heat of his body and making him one with it.
The world crashed back into being around him jarringly as the door creaked behind him. He gasped, feeling slightly dizzy. He'd never been able to achieve such a deep meditative state before. He blinked, trying to reorient himself. He looked down at the now chest deep water. He must have jerked when brought out of it, because the water was lapping around as if roughly stirred, even slopping over the side a bit here and there. He took several deep breaths. It felt as if he'd stopped breathing entirely. Not as if he had been suffocating, just as if he had merely forgotten to do it for a few minutes or so. He slipped his arms off the side and shifted down a bit more in the water, feeling chilled. He rested his head against the side, watching the flame's light dancing on the wall now that the flame itself was out of sight.
He reached over and turned off the faucet. The water was up to just a few inches below the rim. He hadn't bothered invoking the quick fill spell, so that should have taken at least ten minutes on its own. It certainly hadn't felt like ten minutes had passed...
The water lapped around him again as someone joined him in the tub. He sighed. He didn't really feel like having company right now. He didn't even look over as he felt someone settle next to him.
"You're not going to sit there moping all day, are you?"
Blaise's eyes went wide and his head whipped around. Draco was sitting beside him, smirking and, from what he could see, completely naked. "Wha... what are you doing?" Blaise managed.
Draco's smirk widened. "Apologizing." He said softly.
Blaise's eyes shot wide as Draco leaned closer, slipping his arms around him and drawing him closer as he kissed him deeply. Blaise made no attempt to resist, letting him hold him and kiss him for several long, passionate minutes. When the kiss finally broke, Blaise settled down against him, resting his head on his shoulder.
"How was that?" Draco asked softly.
Blaise sighed. "It was lovely." he said, cuddling closer. "Of course it would have been absolutely bloody earth shattering if you were really Draco..."
"Damn..." Tonks muttered. "I was hoping it'd take you a bit longer to catch on... How'd you know?"
Blaise smirked up at her. "Other than the fact that Draco wouldn't have gotten into a bath with me naked, let alone kissed me in a million years? Well, this little bauble is a dead giveaway..." He said, looking down and brushing his finger over her tiny bellybutton ring.
Tonks scowled at the ring. "Bloody thing! It's about the only thing I can use for a contraceptive charm what with how much I change day to day, but it's getting to be a bit of a nuisance."
Blaise chuckled. "I'd imagine. Why don't you just make yourself sterile? I mean you can do anything you want with your body, right? Why not just like not have a cervix or something when you're a girl? I'm sure there are little 'plumbing' tricks you could use to take care of things safely. That way there'd be no chance you'd get pregnant. I would think that would be simple for you..."
Tonks blinked. "Bloody Hell! I never even thought of that! That would be simple really. Brilliant!"
"Besides, that charm is just for girls. You could still knock a girl up if you shagged her in male form I'd wager!"
Tonks' eyes shot wide as her jaw dropped. "Blimey!" She breathed. "I definitely never thought about that!" She gave a loud laugh, then shook her head. "Definitely need to take care of things myself. I don't know of any charms that work for both!" She said, reaching down and removing the little silver ring. She tossed it on the ledge of the tub, then leaned back. "How bout now? Could I pass your inspection without that?"
"Um... no. Sorry, but you're still missing some things."
"Like your eyes. They're just gray. His are mixed now."
She huffed. "That's not his natural state, which is what my body duplicates. I'm not sure how to do swirling eyes. I don't exactly have a spirit to help me out."
"And you're missing his mark..."
"He has a mark?" She asked, her eyes wide in alarm.
He chuckled. "Not a dark one. The mark from his marriage to Ginny. They're a matched set now. Well, their marks are mirrors of eachother actually, but the same otherwise. Scripty kind of thing. It's probably hard for most people to see since he's so pale. I've only really seen it with wraith sight, but if it's like Balthys' mark, it's a shimmery white like the unicorn horn that put it there. It has some ancient elvish declaration of eternal love or some such twined in it. Half legible one direction, the other half the other. Of course it's so ancient I can only make out a bit. The language has evolved some over the millennia. It runs right along here..." he said, reaching over and brushing his hand under her navel. He smirked as the light touch stirred her 'attention'. He resisted the temptation to touch her any more, moving away. "Change into someone else."
"Why?" Tonks said mischievously, drifting after him.
"I don't feel right messing about with him... you like this. He got mad enough at me already and I wasn't even doing anything wrong... if he found out you were looking like this..." Blaise said, a hint of remorse in his voice as he couldn't keep his eyes from drifting down, gazing through the clear water. He really was impressive...
Tonks drifted closer still, pinning him against the side and pressing up against him. "Who's idea do you think this was?" she whispered softly.
Blaise stared at her incredulously. "He wouldn't..."
"He would." She replied, "Well, ok, it was actually Forester who first suggested it, but Draco agreed..."
"He did...?" Blaise asked, trying to keep his mind on task as that face he had adored for so long smiled at him; those long, slender yet strong fingers that he had always fancied looked to belong to an artist sliding over his wet skin.
"He did..." She whispered. "I wouldn't lie to you. Not about this. Not after seeing how much Draco's anger hurt you. This is his way of apologizing... but... he did make me promise to give you one little message first."
"Message?" Blaise asked dazedly as she rubbed that wondrous body up against him.
"He said to tell you 'I don't want to know!'." She replied with a smirk.
Blaise let out a happy groan of longing, wrapping his arms around her and kissing her passionately...
> > > > > > > > > > >
"Whoa..." Ron said, coming to a stop abruptly.
Pansy put her hand over her mouth, snickering.
Blaise and Tonks reluctantly broke the heavy snogging session they'd been enjoying, looking over at them.
"Draco better not find out you're messing with his body!" Ron said with a grin.
Tonks let out a little disappointed sound. "Why does everyone know it's me so easily?"
Pansy giggled. "'Cause Blaise wouldn't mess around with Draco even if Draco wasn't terminally straight!"
"Sure fooled me..." Tonks said mischievously, nipping at Blaise's neck.
"Ya, well he might want to, but he never would. Not since Draco got married at least. He wouldn't do that." Pansy said without any hint of a doubt.
"Not to mention if he did, Ginny would be wailing on him about now..." Ron added with a chuckle.
Blaise smiled warmly, snuggling up to Tonks a bit more. It warmed his heart to know that his lovers knew him so well. "I was just working something out of my system. Draco knows. He said it was ok."
"You're kidding!" Pansy said incredulously.
"Long story." Tonks said quickly as she saw Blaise's smile falter at the prospect of telling them what had happened earlier. "Let's just say Draco was a prat and realized it, so he felt guilty and agreed."
"Where's Forester?" Carys asked, looking around curiously.
"Wandered off." Tonks replied as Blaise looked around, only now realizing the incubus was indeed gone. "Said he didn't feel like knocking on your door and begging for a spare partner, so he went hunting." She snuggled up to Blaise more. "I'm curious... why does that feel so much better when I'm a boy?" She asked him before anyone could question her further on the subject.
"Prostate." Blaise said with a satisfied grin.
"Ah..." She said, kissing him again.
Ron and Pansy smirked at eachother. After a minute, Pansy cleared her throat. "Not to interrupt, but it's ten, so we were going to get cleaned up before brunch. Care to join us?"
Tonks broke the kiss, her eyes shooting open. "Ten? Bloody Hell..." She said, releasing Blaise and quickly getting up.
Pansy averted her eyes, but Ron and Carys were staring. Blaise was a really good kisser...
"Damn..." Carys said softly. "Kinda sucks that I'm related to him..."
Ron made a little inarticulate sound of agreement.
Tonks smirked, patting Ron's cheek. "Sorry. Only Blaise was authorized."
Carys slipped her arm around Ron and cuddled up to him. "You should ask that demon for permission. Neither of us are related to him..." She said mischievously.
Ron blushed brightly.
"Can I borrow some clothes?" Tonks asked Blaise as her form returned to the goth girl Forester found so fascinating. She found her knickers and pulled them on. "I didn't exactly pack before coming here.
"Sure." Blaise replied, settling back on the bed and looking thoroughly contented. "You know where the closet is. Take whatever you want."
"Thanks!" She said, hurrying to the closet door. She was back out in just a moment with a bundle of clothes under one arm. She hurried past them and out into the common room. When she returned, she had her matching bright blue lace bra on covered only by her auror's robe. "Sorry to run off like this. I had an absolutely lovely time. We really must do this again. Very soon. On a regular basis." She said with a giggle. She hopped on the bed, giving Blaise a parting kiss, then bounced back up. She gave Ron a quick kiss, followed by Pansy and Carys. The girls blushed and giggled.
"What's the rush?" Blaise asked curiously.
"Only got about an hour left and... there's something I've always wanted to do, and now I can, so gotta run."
Carys' eyes shot wide and she let out a little squeal of laughter.
Tonks pressed her finger against her smirking lips. "Shhh..." She said with a glint in her eye. Then she leaned closer. "Why don't you show Blaise that little trick you showed me earlier...?"
Carys giggled, her blush returning.
"See ya!" Tonks said merrily, pulling her robe somewhat closed and bounding out of the room.
> > > > > > > > > > >
A/N - Well crap. I just found a WONDERFUL resource. The Harry Potter lexicon (www dot hp-lexicon dot org . Absolutely bloody marvelous. Unfortunately, I also discovered a few mistakes I made along the way. That sux. I changed some in my working copy as they were minor, but I'm not fixing everything. When I repost the edited version I'll just say it's slightly AU. For one, I'm not going through and changing Blaise's appearance and apparently Narcissa didn't attend Hogwarts in the same year as Lupin! She would have been like a 6th year when Lupin was a first year! Agh. (Lucius/Narcissa attended 1965 - 1972, James/Lilly/etc. 1971 - 1978, for Snape it just says 1970's). Oh well. I'm not cutting them out at this point just because it conflicts with the facts ;P Anyhow, the Lexicon is an absolutely brilliant resource, BUT don't go running off to look at it unless you've read all six books! It has serious spoilers, as the info from HBP has already been added, and trust me, it's WAY too hard to avoid. I'm gonna have to read HBP just so I can look through the site without having to clap my hand over my bloody eyes every few minutes and backing up a page! ;)
I know some of you might be all "Why didn't you write some Blaise/Draco(Tonks) smut? Well, I'm afraid it's just too hard keeping the Draco visual going when having to refer to him as Tonks and her all the time. Besides, Ginny might belt me one if I did ;P
Riddle'sDarkAngel5 - Will I end this in the next chapter or two? ROTFLMAO. um... if you didn't get that, it translates roughly into "Sorry, but probably not that quick." If I were THAT close to the end I wouldn't even think about pausing it for the prequel. I'm not totally sadistic! Ok, well maybe... but I wouldn't anyway ;P
OhSnap - For Snape I think only of the movies. He's much nicer (and easier on the eyes!) in those. I'm a big Alan Rickman fan too, so I'd probably love him even if he started like killing people or something ;) It's weird cause I know Alan is very nearly twice my age, but in that getup he truly does look mid-thirties (big kudos to hair, makeup and costume! Keep it up guys!) and he looks utterly shaggable to me (especially in HP1). Admittedly, I'm more comfortable pairing him with someone older (which is probably why they haven't gotten more attention before), but this just kinda happened. Ah these crazy kids... what can ya do?
Wiccan-witch88 - AGH! well, I'll give it a shot... the 'couples' in this story: Draco/Ginny (of course!), Molly/Arthur (always!), Ron/Pansy/Blaise, Narcissa/Lupin, Snape/Hermione, Harry/Delse, Fred/Kulia/George, Percy/Penelope, Balthys/Eryn, Vincent/Diamond ;P I think that's it really. I hope I can be forgiven if I've forgotten any. The rest aren't in serious relationships.