Dearest Readers,

Please accept my apologies for being so late updating. Unfortunately there were some personal problems (family & health) that took time away from my writing. During my absence I also lost my beloved Cody. She was a golden retriever/sheppard mix. We shared 14 years together. I remember when she stayed by my side constantly—including while I wrote this fanfic the first time. Thus, I am dedicating the whole story to her. She is an angel now, watching over me. Blessings to all my dear readers. LL

Please Note: Disclaimer is below.
WARNING: Rating R: This story will have SLASH!

Beauty in Perfection; Stand by Me

Part 4: Simmering Cauldron

by imLittleLily

Chapter Ten; Exquisite Phoenix & Panther

Monday morning, Bill Weasley arrived at work ten minutes early. The overcast rainy day annoyed him. Gringotts didn't allow floo or apparating—he had to travel through the downpour to arrive at work.

A fast wave of his wand and he was dry. He wasn't really expecting anything out of the ordinary. It was Monday and that was usually a slow day. One meeting, owl post and an inventory sheet due for vault 1746 were his only plans for today. Nothing like the excitement he experienced while working in Egypt.

As he set his mug of fresh coffee on his desk, an owl entered through the open window and landed on the corner. It shook wet feathers out and sprayed the inventory parchments.

"You know, I have an owl stand over here. Those parchments are important." He spoke to the owl as though it would understand.

The owl blinked at him, ruffled her wet feathers again, and hooted. He sighed and took the message off her leg, once free of her burden; she took flight out of the window. Bill grumbled about his damp parchments, cast a Drying Charm on them and sat in his oak chair to read the missive.

To Mr. Bill Weasley,

I hear you are a genius of great standing. That's why I've elected to send this information to you specifically. Enclosed with this note you'll find an incantation and rune spell work that'll create a ward against Dementors.

This information has been lost for many years. I have it on the best authority it'll work. I'm sure you don't need me to tell you how to utilize this information.

Use it well.

Outlander Guardian Angel

With trembling hands, Bill pulled the second sheet of parchment to the top and viewed it with bated breath. His mind worked the calculations of rune symbols and the incantation. Merlin! He laid the parchment down and sat looking at it, stunned into immobility. Where did this information come from?

He drew his wand and performed several tests on both pieces of parchment—no magical signature, no Protection Charms and no Secrecy Charms. That was odd. He reread everything. He scrutinized the parchment; it was nothing extraordinary, a brand anyone could purchase at Flourish & Blotts.

Bill lost track of everything he should have been doing that morning. He spent the time reviewing the new information and challenging its validity by working Arithmancy on all of its calculations.

It didn't matter which way he challenged it; the result was always the same. There was a very high probability it would work! After two solid hours, he stood, walked to his fireplace and made a floo call. "Albus Dumbledore's Office, Hogwarts," he called into the green flames.

"Bill, good morning. How are you doing this morning?" Albus asked.

"I'm fine, sir." Bill answered. "I was wondering if you have time for a quick meeting. I realize I'm supposed to see you later today; however, something important has come to my attention. I'd like to talk about it before the Order meeting. If it's all right with you, I could wrap up a few things here and meet you there in about fifteen minutes?"

"Sure, Bill, I will be expecting you."

Bill excused himself and went to tell his secretary he would be leaving for an important errand, and it was necessary to cancel the afternoon meeting with Griphook. He made a copy of the letter and spell work and placed the originals in his personal safe. When he completed everything, he stepped into the fireplace.

Albus Dumbledore always made it a point to be present in the Great Hall for meals. It kept him in touch with his staff and students. Today's lunch was no different. He glanced across the hall and watched his charges with both great delight and worry.

The coming battle wasn't something he wanted. However, he knew it would happen. His eyes turned to Bill Weasley who had elected to stay for lunch and visit Ginny and Ron. They were laughing along with their friends, probably about a successful WWW prank. Albus sighed. Minerva was still angry with him; he could feel it rolling off her as she sat next to him without speaking.

She also watched Bill Weasley.

"He arrived a little while ago," Albus said while hoping to break through her anger. "Brought some information we will be able to use."

"Excuse me, I believe I am finished." Minerva stood to leave. She was concerned; didn't Albus notice Harry wasn't at the table? His very absence created a hole or void within the Great Hall. She thought to herself as she left the Hall, Sometimes that man was just so thick. I need to find Harry, perhaps he's in the kitchen.

Harry wasn't in the kitchen. It was time for her to go back to her classroom and prepare for third year Gryffindors and Slytherins. As she turned the corner into the Transfiguration hall, she found Harry talking to Susan Bones.

"Good afternoon, Professor." Harry gave her his most charming smile.

"Good afternoon, Harry, Susan. Aren't you a bit lost, Harry? Shouldn't you be headed to Potions?"

"Yes," Harry answered. "We should be, Professor, we were just a bit sidetracked. 'Mione has a project due with Susan and she's driving her crazy. I was giving Susan some tips on dealing with a hyperactive bookworm."

Professor McGonagall smiled. "Well, you'd best be going; Professor Snape won't see the humor in that the way I do. Bye now." Before she entered her classroom she said, "Harry, I hope you aren't skipping meals again, that isn't a good habit."

"No, Professor, I ate earlier."

Professor McGonagall nodded.

Pansy leaned against the wall watching Draco and Blaise perform some sort of testosterone thing. They seemed to be playing at sword fighting. She didn't like being ignored, again. Draco was really losing it. She stuck her foot out to trip Blaise. Instead she went down. "Ouch!" She groaned and looked up into the laughing eyes of her boyfriend.

"Panse, what are you doing down there?" Draco offered a hand up. "I thought you didn't like floors. Are you bored or something? Want to try something new?"

"If I'm bored, it's because watching you sparing with Blaise is most definitely dull."

Blaise snickered at her misuse of terms. "It's sparring, not sparing. We're just working off a little steam, Panse. You could join if you want." This last, he added with the full knowledge she wouldn't.

The door opened. Professor Snape entered the classroom through his office and began speaking. "Today's potions session will be conducted outside."

Surprised gasps resounded.

"You'll leave your books and supplies here. Everyone come forward and choose a bag from my desk, and then line up at the door. We'll be taking an excursion into the forest. We must get started now." After everyone picked a bag, the class exited the dungeons and entered the Entrance Hall on their way out of the castle.

Harry tagged along at the rear.

"Come on Harry," Hermione said. "Why are you being so slow?"

"Something's up. I can feel it. Since when do we have class outside with Snape? Have you ever heard of him doing this before?"

"No, but we have to go. Besides, that's the only way to find out what he's going to do." She added the last hoping to coax Harry out into the overcast day.

Harry followed reluctantly.

They gathered into a circle around Professor Snape once they reached their destination. The small clearing was not deep into the forest, just off the path to Hogsmeade. This was what made Harry uncomfortable. They were too close to the edge of the wards. He sent a look at Draco only to see he had already noticed this piece of information. A glance at Blaise, Vince and Greg sent them to cover the group in equal distance from one another.

Professor Snape didn't notice. He was too busy telling them that often Potions brewing did in fact include working in the field. "It's necessary for you to gain knowledge of the plants required in brewing beyond the greenhouse," he said, with his usual his sneer.


Student screams erupted.


They were surrounded by masked figures. Pandemonium ensued within the clearing.

Professor Snape's voice yelled above all of the noise, "Everyone head to the edge of the clearing!" He waved frantically, trying to get their attention.

Most of the students had left their wands back in their bags; this was Potions class. The only students with the foresight to bring their weapons were members of Harry's inner circle. They were soon battling the Death Eaters.




The students managed to gather in a group at the edge of the clearing sheltered behind some trees. Draco turned to Harry, plans worked out with one glance.

Snape was being tortured with the Cruciatus, the first step. "Accio professor!" Snape flew across the clearing and landed in front of Harry. Harry knelt and tipped a potion into his mouth that would ease the effects of the curse.

Snape glared at Harry, but accepted the healing elixir. "Where-?"

"Later," Harry said while observing Draco.

Draco knelt on the ground, flanked by Vince and Blaise and chanting an incantation. The earth began to shake.

Harry, 'Mione and Greg were doing their best to calm the other students.

Draco called upon the earth to split. He requested she assist them in protecting everyone.

She responded with tremors.

A cry came from a Death Eater as he tried to regain his balance. The earth was indeed splitting; it closed around the Death Eater's feet in a tight embrace. Death Eaters fell. Every time they attempted to stand, the tremors intensified.

To increase the attacker's imbalance, a sudden gust of wind burst across the clearing. It swirled in a spiral with such force the few Death Eaters still standing finally lost their balance and fell.

Five, "Accio Wands," split the air. Wands flew toward the students and Professor Snape who was now on his feet.

Draco stood, his eyes turned to his godfather. "Are you all right?"

"Yes. Draco, lead the students back to the castle. Harry and I will see to the care and attention of these visitors." Snape's voice dripped with venom. The other students didn't even notice he referred to his least favorite student as 'Harry.'

"Ron, we need to talk," Harry said as he entered the Lion's Den. The round table was covered with parchments and Ron frowned at them with concentration.

Ron looked up from a diagram of Hogwarts' exterior and perimeter. "We always need to talk, Harry. What's up now?"

"We were attacked in Potions class, out in the forest."

Ron stood abruptly with a look of fear crossing his face. "'Mione?"

"She's okay. Everyone is, but she's the reason I'm here. I want to talk to you about her."

Ron flushed and looked back at his diagrams. "I just can't say anything yet Harry, you know that. What if I screw it up? I could be wrong about everything, you know?"

"Ron," Harry said and shook his head with conviction. "You aren't wrong. Everyone knows how you two feel about each other. You need to take that first step. This war may bring some things out we don't want to face. At least the fact you love her is something pleasant in the midst of these dark times. It's truly light within the Darkness."

Parchments crumpled under Ron's hands. He finally looked up at Harry with an intense gaze. After long moments he nodded.

"Don't waste anymore time," Harry urged. "Go now."

Ron took a quick glance at the Marauder's Map, and then exited the Lion's Den. Hermione was in the Great Hall with Ginny and Neville. As he walked, he thought about his fall through the trapdoor, his most recent in a long line of escapades. Who knew what would happen in the future? Harry was right. He pushed the large double doors of the Great Hall open and headed to the Gryffindor table. Chocolate eyes met his.

Eyes filled with…

"Oh, 'Mione...Merlin, you're okay." Ron entangled fingers within her thick wild locks. He inhaled her scent and lifted her face to his. Warm lips consumed him.

Clapping resounded throughout the hall.

Ron pulled away and hid his face in her mass of hair.

"Everyone's okay, I'm fine. I love you, too," 'Mione whispered the last so only Ron could hear.

Ron's arms tightened. "Come on; let's go somewhere we can talk."

They exited the Great Hall to the sound of whistles, catcalls and bets being called in.

"That's the most disgusting thing I've ever seen," Pansy said. "Weasel and the Mudblood."

Draco looked past her shoulder with a grin. "You owe me eight galleons, Blaise."

Blaise laughed.

"Are you crazy Draco?" she asked. "You had a bet on those two? You've really sunk low, I'm sure your father'd be interested in your current pursuits."

"I'm sure Panse," Draco drawled with his trademark smirk. "He'd have been in on the game if he was a student. Pay up, Blaise."

Blaise shook with silent laughter as he pulled the money out of his robe pocket.

"As to my father," Draco shrugged. "Your threats bear no weight. Surely you can see that. Father is in Azkaban, will be for life, I'm the Malfoy head of house now. I call the shots for my own life."

She would be furious when she received notice of the nullification of the betrothal from his attorneys. The Parkinson family would have to look elsewhere for riches.

Draco reached across the front of Pansy to collect his bet from Blaise. His sleeve rode up slightly, exposing a black and green mark on his wrist.

"What's this?" Pansy grabbed his hand and pushed his sleeve up further. She gasped.

Extending from the outside of his hand, crossing over his wrist and up to the inside of his forearm was a black, green and silver phoenix. The intricacy of the artwork was exquisite.

Pansy's eyes widened. The mark was on the area of the arm where Draco would receive his Dark Mark. "Why do you have this monstrosity on your arm?" Despite her shock, her voice was low enough that surrounding students did not hear.

Someone else, however, did hear.

Draco looked up into the angry obsidian black eyes of his godfather.

"Come with me, now." Severus turned with his usual billow of robes and strode out of the Hall.

Draco looked at Blaise and made a motion to his head.

Blaise knew what he had to do.

Draco stood and followed Sev knowing that Blaise would make sure that Pansy was Obliviated.

Draco walked along side of his godfather wondering if Sev ever regretted accepting such a position. During their years together they had grown closer and gained trust for one another. Sev had actually planted seeds of desire in Draco to become a spy in Voldemort's lair. No one knew this about them. Sev had been instrumental in Draco's initiation into the Order and the subsequent plans to infiltrate the Death Eaters and bring them down from within.

That was then; this is now. Okay, he's pissed. I'll just have to be nonchalant—act like I went along with the whole thing...can't let him know I woke up with this surprise this morning.

They entered Sev's chambers, still not speaking. Severus went to the chair in front of the fireplace and sat. He indicated Draco should take the other seat.

Well, he wants to be civil, no firewhiskey this time. "What, no offer of tea or perhaps something stronger today, Sev?"

"Explain." Severus made a motion toward Draco's left forearm. "I want you to tell me how you managed to get a foolish tattoo on your arm since I saw you yesterday. Why a phoenix and how hormones have nothing to do with any of this."

Draco swallowed. "It's a protection charm. The idea of a phoenix is something I like." He shrugged and continued, "No difficult explanation needed. As to hormones, well, I suspect you lack understanding in my relationship with Harry. Your own feelings of prejudice are astounding in their blindness."

"Remove it now." Sev sneered.

"It can't be removed."

Sev stood in anger. "You'll remove it now. If you don't, I'll do it myself. If I do, you will experience a great deal of pain. Do it."

"No. I told you it can't be removed. It's as permanent as the blood running through my veins. It'll never be removed."

Severus pulled in a deep breath and let it out. "You fool!" he roared. "What have you done? Don't you realize Voldemort will question why you choose to bear such a mark; especially on that arm? Do you really think he'll let you get away with this? He'll merely mark your other arm. That will make you stand out within the ranks, no one will trust you."

Draco swallowed a sudden lump in his throat.

Severus inhaled sharply. "Raise your other sleeve, Draco. Now."

Draco lowered his gaze to his right arm. He took a subtle inhale of air and pushed his sleeve upward. On the inside of his right arm was a beautifully sleek and powerful black panther. A black panther with emerald fire eyes.

Virulent swearing came from the corner of the room where Severus retreated to procure a glass of firewhiskey. He downed his drink and poured another. His face twisted in anger. He threw Draco a glare, strode to the fireplace, took a pinch of floo powder and called out, "Narcissa Malfoy, Malfoy Manor."

Draco paled. "Sev, do you really think…"

"Yes, Severus?" Narcissa's head appeared in the green flames and turned to her son with questioning glance. "Hello, dear. Is everything okay? Severus, you look a bit peaked, what's wrong?"

"Cissa, you need to come here, right now." Sev said with a glare at the biological fruit of her womb.

Draco swallowed and stepped back waiting for his mother to step through the fireplace. "Hello, Mum." He tossed a glare of his own to Sev over her head as she gave him a quick hug.

"Severus, you are in such a state." Narcissa seemed slightly amused to see him this way. "Whatever has Draco done that would cause you to react so?"

He responded with a scowl of ferociousness. "Show her."

"It really isn't bad mum, he's just angry because I have two Protection Charms that can't be removed. They seem to interfere with his plans to be a hero and bring down the Dark Lord." Draco made a show of removing his school robes and his shirt thus exposing the tattoos in their full blaze of glory.

Narcissa gasped and raised both of her brows. "I see."

Severus growled, still not coming down from his anger. "He refuses to remove them. I've told him this will not go over well with the Dark Lord. He refuses to listen to reason. This is not the only problem we have, but it is most assuredly the foremost. You must convince him this is an act of folly. If Voldemort sees them, he may decide to kill Draco rather than mark him." He tossed back his drink and went to get another. "Would you like one, Narcissa?"

"No thank you, Sev." Narcissa turned to Draco. "You realize he's probably right."

Severus snorted from his corner.

Narcissa arched a blonde brow. "The Dark Lord thinks you've wanted to join him since his return. Now these are in place, you're in danger of instant death." Moisture filled her eyes. She had already lost her husband to Voldemort's foolish plans, now her son would be forfeit also.

Draco reached out and took her hands. "Mum, my life was already in danger. The purpose of these tattoos is to protect me from him. There'll be no need to stand before that lunatic and take the Dark Mark. I'll simply have to ensure his demise before such an occurrence. Severus," he paused to aim a glare at Sev, "is angry because he only sees Dumbledore's plan as the way to end this war. There're others who know that dragging this war out further will result in more death. We want it to end now."

"Who are these others?" she asked as her pale cheeks pinked. "Are you a member of a rebel faction? How can you be so sure you'll succeed? Please tell me, Draco, you're not doing something foolish."

Severus looked between them. "Well…are you going to tell her, or shall I?"

Draco pulled on his mother's hands to get her attention. "What Sev is trying to convey, is that I'm with Harry Potter. As in, we are a couple, together. Sev is very angry about it. There's nothing I can do about his reaction."

Narcissa frowned at him. "What about Pansy? When did you break up and why didn't you tell me? There're legal ramifications to that situation, Draco."

"Our lawyers are already on it, mum. She should receive notice any day now."

Narcissa arched a perfect brow.

"I thought it best to use the legal channels so there'd be no hope of reconciliation. She must know I'm serious. I won't marry someone who repulses me."

Narcissa Malfoy looked stunned at that revelation."And Harry Potter doesn't?"

"No, mum, he doesn't."

Narcissa's concern was not abated. "Draco, dear, we're talking about your life."

Severus snorted at her.

"How long have you known, Severus?" she asked.

"It's a recent development. That is I think so." He gave Draco a close look. "Less than two weeks, nearest I can tell."

"I'm still here you know. You can have your lover's chat and speculation later when I'm not in the room. Mum, look at me."

"Yes, dear?"

"We are mated. Harry is my mate."

Severus swore and threw his glass into the fireplace; alcohol sizzled within the flames.

"Keep that up and you won't have any glasses left, you know? We told you it wasn't just hormones. You didn't want to hear it though, did you?"

With nothing left to throw, Severus resorted to words. "Fuck! What are you going to do when Albus hears about this? Don't you think he'll be unhappy you've mated with his Golden Boy?"

Narcissa tried to placate him. "Severus, why are you so angry? If they mated then that's simply the way it is. Even Dumbledore will know that. There's nothing can change it. Now, I understand why Draco has no plan to accept the Dark Mark. That would be a violation of his pledge to Harry." She put her hand on Draco's arm. "He placed the tattoos, didn't he?"

Draco nodded.

Severus groaned and sat in the chair behind him, sighing in resignation. He threw his head back and closed his eyes. Maybe, if he couldn't see the disaster, it would vanish.

Narcissa looked at Draco and motioned it was okay to leave. She would take care of Sev, soothe and calm his nerves.

Draco nodded, picked up his shirt, and then pulled it on without closing the buttons. He pulled his robes over it. He leaned over to kiss his mother on her upturned cheek and exited the Potion Master's chambers.

Well, that went well. He headed to the Lion's Den to see what everyone else was doing, before he was due to be at the Order of Phoenix meeting.

Severus entered the Headmaster's office late—everyone else was already there. He walked to the only empty chair in the room.

Albus stood and brought the meeting to order. "Bill, if you don't mind, I would like you to tell everyone your extraordinary news."

Whispers of curiosity erupted.

Bill Weasley made his way to the front of the room. "Thank you, Albus. Hi everyone. Ah hem, well, I guess to begin, I should tell you this morning I received a very curious owl post. I've been sent an anonymous letter with the details of a ward that will prevent Dementors entrance to the Hogwarts grounds."

Whispers became noise.

Moody's gravelly growl came to the forefront. "That's impossible, Weasley. Where would such information come from? I think it's a trap. One that would make us lower our guard. It's impossible to prevent Dementors from entering Hogwarts grounds."

"I thought so too at first, Moody. I've worked the equations and incantation, it's my belief it'll work."

"Who sent this information?"

"Are they reliable?"

"Where would anyone even find something like this?"

The questions flew fast and Bill decided to finish telling his story. They would eventually answer the questions. "Like I said, the information was sent anonymously on uncharmed parchment. There was no magical signature, no Protection or Secrecy Charms. It was signed, 'Outlander Guardian Angel' with some sort of circle around the top of the capital A." He sent the piece of parchment around the room so they could see.

Draco took it and looked down at the signature, Outlander Guardian Angel. He passed the note to Remus.

"You say there's no magical signature?" Remus turned the parchment over looking at the back also.

"None." Bill replied. "If we put this ward in place, we'll have an effective Dementor deterrent. They won't be able to cross it."

Moody grumbled."That doesn't answer who sent it. How do we know it wasn't a Death Eater hoping to make access easier for the Dementors?"

"Perhaps the term, Outlander, is a clue," Severus said.

Moody grunted.

"You do realize an outlander is a person who belongs to another region, culture, or group." Severus sneered in his best Slytherin reaction. "That would explain why it didn't come from Death Eaters. Even though they think they are special, they would think that non-Purebloods were the outlanders. Following that idea would bring us to the fact whoever sent the missive was not a Death Eater."

Several members nodded.

"Then," Albus said, "I think it's imperative we begin placing this ward around Hogwarts immediately. Bill, will you and Remus stay the night? If you do, we can begin at first light."

Both men nodded.

Draco looked up to see Salz in a portrait behind the Headmaster's desk. He gave a slight incline to his head in acknowledgement, and asked the Headmaster, "Sir, will you need extra help from any of the students? Perhaps Granger would be willing to help. I know I'd be willing to assist."

"That won't be necessary, Draco, thank you for the offer. Bill, Minerva, Remus, Severus and I should be able to set the ward. What we will do is ask the two of you to cover classes. Perhaps you would be willing to take Severus' Potions classes tomorrow and Miss Granger would head up the Transfiguration classes. Minerva, would you please speak to Miss Granger about that tonight?"

"I'm sure Hermione would love a chance to teach," Minerva said.

Severus and Draco shared a nod in agreement that Draco would take over his classes for the day.

As Shacklebolt gave his report on recruitment, Severus' mind wandered back to the parchment. Sure, he had questions in his mind; however, the important thing was they use the information to protect the students from Dementors.

He looked at his godson who was in a quiet conversation with Remus. He studied them and thought, the students are important....He frowned as his mind traveled… what had Draco said?...doesn't know...up against; something like that. Hell, what was it?

The meeting adjourned. Draco was out the door before he could catch him. As quickly as he could, Severus excused himself and left. Once in the corridor he saw no sign of Draco. He quickened his pace, went down two flights of stairs, all the while deep in thought.

Damn, what was it Draco said? The bloody fool has no idea what he is up against. That was it?

...why that little bugger!

Severus laughed—filling the dungeon corridor with a sound it had never heard before. Nice move, Draco. Everyone fell for it and you'll never seek acknowledgement for your action. Severus was sure that Draco had had help with the project; success came in many forms, Outlander indeed.

When Draco entered the common room of the Lion's Den, he encountered celebration and laughter. Ron came up to him with an ear wide grin. "Congrats' ferret, on a job well done." Everyone laughed and patted each other on the back.

Harry passed him a butterbeer. "Even Severus and Remus backed the project, huh?"

"Yeah, but don't be surprised if they both figure it out. Sev was looking at me funny just as the meeting finished. I got out of there before he could catch me. Remus, on the other hand seems to think it was a Marauder trick. You might want to tread lightly around him for a while. I don't think he'll be mad about us doing it, just annoyed we didn't ask his help."

"Maybe he'll think the twins did it," Ron said then tipped his mug of butterbeer and emptied it.

"Don't think so," Draco said. "Bill already seems to have ruled them out. Prongs Jr. would be the next one in line for nomination. Put Remus together with Sev and they'll get it. I'm not worried if they do. The important thing is the students. I'd like to make a toast; to the students of Hogwarts and to Moenia, may she stand strong!"

Draco whispered to Harry once everyone had decided to call it a night, "We should let Outlander know about the success, maybe you can do that tomorrow while I'm playing teacher?"

Harry pulled him into a breathless kiss. "Sure thing, but that's tomorrow, what about right now?"

Draco grinned into his neck. "Sev is…ahem…preoccupied tonight so I don't have to worry about him…mmmnn…I dooo…love it…when you are…sooo hot…"


Four students exited the Lion's Den. The idea was to stagger the numbers so that once on the other side of the notice-me-not ward there wouldn't be a large number of students bringing suspicion to the corridor.

Hermione and Ron turned to Blaise and Justin to say goodnight. They were still feeling the excitement of the accomplishment.

"Night," Hermione said. "Justin, I'm sure we can finish the notes tomorrow about Harry's fire. He'll probably have something new for us to work on."

"Yeah, goodnight, 'Mione…Ron." Blaise and Justin said in unison.

Justin held Blaise back by pulling him in the opposite direction toward the windows at the other end of the corridor. Here they were still behind the ward that concealed the corridor. "Can you feel it?" Justin asked Blaise in an awed voice.

"Yeah, I've been high on adrenalin since I broke into Snape's lab, but this is even higher. Who knew? Even Moenia seems to be humming with excitement."

Silence in the corridor eclipsed the world of time and space. Justin swallowed as he looked at his friend. His best friend. "How did this happen?" His hand made a vague gesture between them.

Blaise smiled slightly and tipped his head to the side. "Ah, the greatest mystery of life. Who knows…for me it's been here for a while. I've just been waiting."

Justin stepped forward. Close enough to share the air they were breathing. "I feel as though everything else was just a distraction…like I didn't see clearly before."



"You…" Blaise took a deep breath. "Talk too mu…"

Justin relented to the exploration with a moan of pleasure, while introducing his graceful fingers to Blaise's curly black, and oh so-soft locks.

Gentle exploration of treasure turned into heated conquest.

Justin thrust Blaise against the castle wall and worked to release Blaise from his shirt. He inhaled sharply through his teeth when his fingers finally found Blaise's hot flesh. He played around sensitive nips encouraging hardness.

Blaise moaned at the contact of Justin's fingers. He leaned closer. It wasn't enough. In an act of determination, he ripped the front of Justin's shirt open. Buttons pinged across the corridor.

"Gods, Blaise," Justin moaned, "you're as hot as hell fire…you sure you're not an elemental?" He buried his face into Blaise's neck and allowed the heat to consume him as he kissed and bit. Consumption of his best friend. We really need to reevaluate that.

"I'm just…hot for you, babe." Blaise added with erratic breathing, enflaming appetite.

Mutual moans of wanting filled the corridor.

Reevaluation complete. Come to me, Blaise… Justin thought as his aggression became more intense. Within this new height, he discovered something he had never experienced before.

Blaise laughed softly and pulled away. "You should know Jus, Slytherins rule. Our ambition always brings us out on top."

He reached for Blaise with a growl. "You should know Hufflepuffs may be loyal; however, you'd also do well to remember we work hard, till the job is done." As he pulled Blaise to him, Justin integrated a move that actually made his ultimate goal of finding the floor a success.

Interestedly enough, the landing was actually soft, even erotic, as legs entwined symbolizing a double helix of DNA.

Blaise looked up at him.

Justin saw Blaise's vortex of emotion, feeling and need.

Blaise lowered his eyes to Justin's swollen lips, parted, giving an opening opportunity to great pleasure. He raised his head and bit Justin's lower lip holding it between his teeth; not hard, just enough. Blaise caressed the prize he held.

Justin felt the jolt down his spine to his erection as Blaise's hot moist tongue caressed his lip. He looked into Blaise's eyes with awe.

Acquiesce. The look, the very action said, "Take me."

And so he did.

Chapter Eleven; A Phoenix Comes to Smeltings

The next morning, Harry sat in the common room of the Lion's Den with his breakfast. He was thinking of a recent lesson he'd received from Belenus, Warrior of Fire and Taliesin, Warrior of Air. They had taught him to disperse the particles of a Cruciatus in a defensive strategy. Once learned, Harry would be able to use it effectively on any curse sent his way.

Harry's remembered their conversation.

"The concept is simple, Harry," Taliesin said. "You already work with air. This strategy is the same; you'll slow the air movement of the curse coming toward you and disperse its energy to the point of weakness. If, or when the curse finally hits you, its power will be either severely reduced or completely disseminated."

"Let's give it a try." He stepped back about eight paces and pointed at Harry. "Crucio."

Anticipation of the coming pain was a signal that Harry's brain normally sent to his body. He needed to overcome that thought. Just as the energy of the curse was in front of him, he was able to call up the air to disperse its energy.

It worked…a little.

"AAHhhhhh…damn!" He took great gulping breaths. "If that's a weakened curse, Taliesin, I would hate to see the full extent of your power," gasped Harry from his position on the ground.

Taliesin gave a slight shrug."Sorry, son, but it's necessary to throw my full energy into the curse. Just think of it as; the more powerful the curse you can throw off, the better you'll be in actual battle." Taliesin extended a hand for Harry to clasp and pulled him up.

Belenus handed him a pepper-up potion to drink and they waited for it to take effect. "We won't give you a pain potion until we're finished. To do so, would only reduce the effectiveness of your training. Don't worry; we'll only be doing this for a short period of time."

Harry nodded. "I have to get past the mental expectation of pain; it's a bit distracting; that's why it took me so long to disperse the energy. Do you think the fact it was so close already was the reason I felt it so much?"

Harry came back to the present. He sat chewing on a piece of toast while looking at his creation. To better visualize the concept, he used his bacon and a piece of toast and dispersed their particles in the air. He was studying the effect when Winky popped in, saw his project and proceeded to scold him for playing with his food.

"Mister Harry Potter is to eat food, not play!" Her ears wagged and she wore a frown nearly larger then her actual face.

"I'm sorry, Winky, I'm eating, but I'm also studying," Harry said, looking at his little keeper. Harry had not realized when he hired them they would be his side chiding him like a child. It seemed he couldn't get away with anything when they were around—which seemed to be always.

Salz chuckled from his portrait.

Harry glared at him.

"You is not studying, you is playing. Eat now or I get Dobby."

Harry gulped. Dobby was worse than Winky. He decided he should eat. He vanished the food particles and tucked in.

While on his way to DADA class Harry thought if there were some way to teach the spell dispersment method to his friends, they would be much safer in battle. During the battle his main goal would be find Tom Riddle and vanquish his sorry arse.

Deep in thought, he found himself pulled into an empty classroom. His vision came into focus. He looked into Draco's sultry eyes, briefly.

Lips sought his. Harry responded quickly in kind.

"Hi…missed you." Draco said against Harry's mouth. He pulled away with a gasp, held Harry's head close. Draco placed his forehead against Harry's. "This business of you skipping the Great Hall for breakfast is a bore. Can't we do something about that?"

"No. Where were you?" Harry meant earlier, he had awakened alone this morning and didn't like the experience.

Draco snorted. "Moenia woke me. Mum left early." Draco kissed Harry's pulse point. "Sev was outside my room banging and shouting loud enough to wake the dead."

Harry moaned, seeking Draco's moving lips.

Draco smirked. "Moenia thought it prudent I exit from my room to assuage any suspicions of where I really was. She was right as usual. One moment longer and he'd have stormed Gryffindor tower." Draco's nipped Harry and then he pulled away for a breath. "Merlin, you taste good."

Harry grinned between kisses. "Has the Head Boy forgotten about DADA class? Shouldn't we leave now? We're going to be late." He purposely avoided Draco's lips now—teasing, but wasn't effective in deflection.

Draco simply moved onto less mobile locations, ears and neck, biting and licking as he moved downward.


"Screw DADA, maybe…Prof. Grim will give us detention together." Draco seemed determined not to be distracted from his main objective.

Harry found himself thrust against the wall, hands unfastening his clothing. He made no objection.

"When is your first class to teach?" Hands competed for the first touch of bare chest as Harry asked this question.

"After DADA…mmmnn…Doesn't matter…I want…you now." Draco was on his knees, and took Harry's cock into his mouth.

Harry clutched Draco's blond locks.

Draco backed off; grinned and pulled them away. "Don't touch."

Harry groaned. This was it, payback.

Draco worked him over in the same way he had done the other night in the shower.

Draco's tongue…Holy Merlin! The whole world spun out of focus "…mmmnn...Draco…" Harry's fingernails clutched at the stone wall behind him, clasping onto nothing, leaving scratch marks. He couldn't ground himself. The spinning overwhelmed his five senses.

As if riding high on the air currents, Harry found himself cascading through waves of emotion, physical feelings and mental bliss. He cried out in ecstasy as he released his seed into Draco's mouth.

Draco pulled away with a lick and kiss, grinning like the cat that caught the canary.

Harry slipped bonelessly to the floor, eyes unfocused and breathing hard.

Draco whispered, "Deflection successful. See you in class, love." He stood, righted his robes and left Harry, still in state of sated rapturous bliss on the floor.

"ppprrrrrrrr..." Harry never made it to DADA that morning.

Harry James Potter sat at the round table within the Lion's Den contemplating his lunch. At least that was what he thought he was doing. After that mind-blowing experience with Draco earlier, he wasn't even sure who he really was.

Thus the use of his full name. He needed to try it on to see if it fit. After deciding he wouldn't be able to walk back to his chambers, he had flashed straight to the bed.

It was probably a good thing he only had one class this morning. He would be in trouble with only one professor. Harry sighed. Steak and kidney pie, used to be my favorite. Maybe it was just this self-imposed exile from meals in the Great Hall was the reason for his lack of appetite. The door opened, and 'Mione and Ron entered holding hands. About time.

"Harry, there you are. Ron said you missed DADA. Where were you?" 'Mione asked him with a frown. "Professor Grim wants to see you, most likely to give you detention. You should know the consequences of not showing up for class by now."

I can just hear what her reaction would be if I told her where I was, Harry thought, I was in the land of Rapturous Sex. Oh Yeah, that would go over real well.

"Harry?" 'Mione's query became concerned.

"Hey, 'Mione I heard you, I was just thinking. I figured he wouldn't like me missing class. I was feeling light headed and came back here. I'll go see him later." Harry spoke in an evasive voice as he studied his steak and kidney pie. "You guys want something to eat? It's kinda boring, eating here by myself."

"Harry, maybe this precaution isn't really necessary yet." Ron had expressed concern about Harry eating by himself from the start of the plan.

Harry didn't want to talk about that so he called, "Winky."

"Yes, Mister Harry Potter?"

"Please bring some lunch for 'Mione and Ron. Thanks." he said as he thought, at least she still thinks I'm Harry Potter.

"Yes, sir. You is wanting something else?" This last, Winky asked with a frown between his pie and him.

"No, Winky, this is fine. I'm just…" he trailed off while looking down at his food again. "Eating slowly."

Ron arched his brows and looked at Hermione to see what she thought. They were a matched set.

Harry groaned when he saw their faces.

Winky harrumphed and popped out to bring them lunch.


"I know, I know," Harry said to his two oldest friends. "You guys have been understanding. Never nagging or pestering me about the little things. I really appreciate the effort you put into it, please don't stop now. There's just so much on my mind. I have to work it out myself. You know that." He sighed again and asked Ron, "What did I miss in class?"

"Nothing new," Ron answered, reaching for a roll. "That's what's so frustrating. I really think Grim is just stringing us along. We haven't had anything new in weeks. Everyone in the D.A. thinks it's boring. At least this is our last year." Ron filled his mouth with his roll while he waited for lunch to arrive.

Hermione, however, had a strange look on her face. "I think that's the idea, Ron. To repeat lessons until he thinks we can perform in our sleep. It seems to be just another consequence of war. They only want us to know so much. I mean the lesson is repeated, the rest is shunted to the side in hopes we won't need it."

Ron sputtered, spreading bread across the table. "That's stupid! We're capable of learning new and better methods of defense. Why the bloody hell can't they see that?"

Sensing an argument, Harry decided to interrupt. "What do you think about creating a spell that would disperse the energy of a curse or jinx? I think we can do it. It'll just take some time."

"Harry, what do you mean?" Hermione asked.

"Well, I learned to disperse the energy particles of the Cruciatus."

Hermione's brow rose.

Nodding at her, Harry said, "Taliesin, the Warrior of Air taught me. If you're interested, we could meet tonight. I'd demonstrate what it's like. Then we could study it and come up with a version for the rest of you. Are you game?"

As Harry talked, Winky returned with food for his two guests. She heard what Harry said about demonstrating and her previous frown returned. "You is not to play with food again! Dobby will know—if you do! He will show proper, he will." She glared to make sure he understood.

"Yes, Winky, I'll not play with food. We'll use a plant or something," Harry said, in an effort to placate her.

She harrumphed and looked around the table, took a roll and plopped it in front of him. "If you must!" Her exit pop sounded very angry.

Harry rolled his eyes, levitated the roll and promptly focused on dispersement of its particles, demonstrating on a visual level the action that could literally change the outcome of a curse or jinx. "The idea is to slow the curse and scatter its energy," he explained. "That makes the curse weaker, causing less damage. I've been practicing breaking up the Cruciatus, it really seems to work, the pain is less. Taliesin says it'll work on minor jinxes too. When used in conjunction with a shield, it renders the curse or jinx completely ineffective without possible backlash toward someone on our team."

Ron looked on surprised, but intrigued by the possibilities.

'Mione's eyes grew to the size of saucers. She responded excitedly, "Tonight at eight o'clock. We'll see if the others are interested."

"Good." Harry smiled. "I have to leave this afternoon. I promised Draco I'd take a message to our Outlander Guardian Angel." He finally started to eat; he had enough consequences to deal with, he didn't need to add Dobby to the list.

Afternoon sunshine brightened the atmosphere when a beautiful shadow phoenix soared and glided over an institution that resembled the look of a prison or asylum. Its grey structures were austere and grim looking.

The large bird landed within a copse of trees, just inside the grounds within the high walls surrounding the campus. He surveyed the landscape and wondered if this place was really St. Brutus's Secure Center for Incurably Criminal Boys. The windows were barred. A security guard paced in front of the double doors of the Main Hall.

Isn't that ironic, Harry thought. The beloved son is sent away for nurturing to a school resembling an institution for criminals. The loathed nephew is sent into the perceived horrors of a beautiful, secure and serene castle in the mists of the Scottish hills for his magical education.

Harry shook out his feathers as he perched upon a branch. He glided to the ground; his dragonhide boots softened his landing.

Well here goes. Harry exited the copse of trees and walked toward the main entrance and the guard. He was a particular looking young man in comparison to the students on campus.

Instead of the required school uniform, he was attired in black dragonhide; black tee shirt, jacket, leather pants topped off with dragonhide boots. Hanging from his ear was a lightning bolt earring to match the scar that showed clearly upon his forehead. His tussled black locks tipped with green and silver, enhanced the emerald fire of his eyes. A rune of protection, commonly known as the Peace sign was on a black leather thong around his neck.

Overall, he most definitely did not fit in with the students of Smeltings.

The guard scowled at Harry as he approached the stairs. "What brings you here? We don't let your kind in. Leave now." The guard blustered, swelled up in his own importance.

"Good afternoon," Harry said calmly. "I'm here to see my cousin, Dudley Dursley, regarding a family matter."

The guard squinted at Harry, scanned his outfit and hair, he grunted. "I don't believe you're Dursley's cousin. I see no family resemblance. I think he doesn't have a cousin."

"Then perhaps you'd escort me to the Headmaster or Head of Security. I'd prefer to speak to someone in authority."

The guard glared.

Harry turned toward the door without waiting for the guard.

Just as he reached for the door it opened from the inside.

Two young men exited followed by a third who was speaking to someone still inside. The young man in front stopped dead, resulting in a pile up behind him. "Potter!" Piers Polkiss sneered at Harry and his strange attire.

The third young man said, "Harry?"

"That would be me, Cousin." Harry tilted his head to the side indicating he wanted to talk.

Piers reached for Harry's leather jacket only to find empty air.

"Perhaps you should remember, Polkiss. We're on school property. If you attack me, you'll only find trouble. Save it for Surrey, Polkiss. I'm here because I need to speak to Dudley. It doesn't concern you." Harry was determined to remain cool; he really wished he could have a piece of the bully, but that wasn't why he was here.

Polkiss closed the distance between them. Inches from Harry's face, he hissed, "Yeah, I'll save it for Surrey, freaky nancy boy. You must be here to put on a show dressed the way you are. When did you come out? Mr. Dursley will toss you out on your ass when he sees you like this." He stepped back just enough to view Harry, then sneered, as he looked him up and down with an appraising glare.

"I didn't realize you were interested Piers. You should know; however, you aren't my type."

"Piers, you and Chris go back to the dorm. I'll see you later. I want to talk to Harry for awhile."

"Big D.," Piers said incredulously, "why do you want to waste your time talking with this freak?"

The forgotten security guard snorted at this question. He ogled Harry's bum then tried to pretend he hadn't noticed.

"He says it's a family matter. I'll see you later." Dudley gave Piers a pointed look, and then turned to Harry. "Come on, we'll go to the cafeteria and get something to drink, we can talk there." He started down the stairs with a scowl at the gawking security guard.

As they walked toward the building that housed the cafeteria, Harry gave Dudley a grin. "Draco wanted to come; but he's been having trouble with Snape always looking for him. Besides, Snape took the day off to set the new ward. Draco had to play teacher all day."

"Wish I could've seen," Dudley said with a laugh. "He does okay with the kids at the center, but Potions, standing over a cauldron? That, I'd like to see." He laughed again at the imagery created. "So, that's why you came, the ward?" By now, they had reached the cafeteria where Dudley purchased them each a soda.

Other students in the large room stared at Harry. He was accustomed to such attention, just grinned, and then ignored them.

They approached a corner where they would be able to talk without interruption.

Harry sat so he could observe the room. "We wanted to let you know the ward went over like a charm. Draco says Snape may figure it out, but we aren't worried. By the time he knows for sure, the ward will be in place and the Dementors will be unable to penetrate it. Thanks, Cousin. I mean that sincerely. Just like Draco said you've helped us more than you know."

Harry took a drink of his soda and casually looked around at the staring students. "I guess I didn't think about the reaction to my clothing today, this is the way I look when I don't wear robes. Then again, I didn't really think Piers would get in my face. Sorry, if it bothers you."

"Doesn't bother me," Dudley said. "I thought Piers checking you out was funny. Better not tell Draco, though. Those two don't get along. He doesn't know about you guys but they still bristle when they're around each other. I think Piers is jealous of how you can dress differently and get away with it. You should've seen him when he saw Draco's red dragonhide boots."

Before long, they were talking in a way neither would have thought before that night in the alley changed things for them. Their laughter didn't go unnoticed.

Piers Polkiss and Chris Young entered the cafeteria with a group of students and proceeded to purchase snacks and drinks. Piers said something to them as they sat down and continued on his way to Dudley and Harry. "Why are you still here, freak?"

Harry looked at Dudley.

Dudley smirked and gave a slight shrug in response to the unspoken question.

"Your repetitiveness is boring, Piers," Harry said. "Why don't you go over there and sit. You're not welcome at this table."

"You're here, this is my turf, you're the one not welcome." Piers reached to grab Harry's chair and pull it from under him. He was too slow.

Years of Quidditch, combined with personal training, brought Harry up off of his chair as graceful as a cat, and over the table. His dragonhide boots landed silently on the floor on the other side of the table before Piers had even realized that he had moved.

Piers looked shocked at the realization Harry was no longer in front of him.

If Harry had been a curiosity previously, it was palpable now. The cafeteria was silent, all eyes directed at him.

By this time, Dudley stood also. "You need to back off, right now, Piers. I told you already we have a family matter to discuss. Harry's here as my guest. If you persist in acting like an ass, then I'll have to pull rank and write you up," he said dismissively. "Come on, Harry. Let's go outside. The air is too thick in here."

Harry nodded. They left the cafeteria amidst finger pointing, stares and whispers.

By now, evening had cast its glow across the campus. Dudley and Harry headed toward the copse of trees where Harry would make his exit. Once within the shelter of the trees, Dudley said, "Harry, ah mmm, I want to—"

Harry stopped him in mid-sentence. "Don't think about it D. It's okay. We were both young and unduly influenced by our environment. Looks like we're growing up despite our rocky beginning." Harry clapped his cousin on the shoulder.

"Thanks again for your help. We'll let you know the latest news and if there's anything else we need. You should be safe, no one knows I came here and no one knows about the message. Even if Snape figures it out he won't tell; I understand the two of you are friends?"

"Yeah. He helped me after the Dementors. Talked me through everything. That was when I met Draco and the others. They started coming to the center to workout and learn kickboxing. I'm sorry my dad has been so wrong about you all these years. As to mum, she's just scared."

"I know." Harry smiled. "I figured that out that night; the night of the Dementors, I mean. I even suspected sometimes she thought the things I did was funny, she just couldn't say anything. Uncle Vernon would have been angry with her if she did."

They heard voices coming toward them. Harry nodded in the direction of the sounds. "Company's coming, you best be going, unless you need me to stay and help clean up?" Harry finished with a hopeful grin and arched brow.

"No. Safe journey, cousin."

Harry nodded and transformed.

Dudley walked toward his friends while blocking their view of the dark path. "Looking for me?"

"Where did he go, D.?" Piers looked around for Harry.

"He went over the wall, Piers. Let it go, mate. He wasn't here to bug you. If I didn't know any better, I'd question your interest in my cousin. I thought you liked them blond and in red boots."

Piers scowled.

Dudley smirked at his friend's scowl and headed back toward their dorm.

Harry ruffled his feathers, watching over them before finally taking flight.

Harry stood before the fireplace talking quietly with Salz as the inner circle came into the Lion's Den. Draco and Luna were the last to arrive. "Hey, everyone. Help yourself to refreshments if you wan. We really need to get started."

Everyone pulled out chairs and sat amidst chatter and laughter.

Harry chewed the inside of his cheek. He was still dressed the way he had been when he visited Smeltings; the green and silver in his hair encouraged teasing from the Slytherins at the table.

Blaise whistled, earning a smack on the back of his head from Draco.

Justin just grinned in response, no one knew about them yet.

Vince made eyes at Harry and winked.

Salz laughed.

"Okay, okay, enough with the hair." Harry grinned in good humor and laughed. "Can we begin?"

"Hem hem." Luna sat up primly. "Of course, young Mr. Slytherin."

Ginny giggled in response to Luna's brows wagging up and down.

Harry sighed, and then looked at Draco.

"Luna," Draco said as he stood, "report." He gave her his serious Head Boy face.

Luna winked in return. She opened the large tome in front of her on the table. The inside was hollow and revealed a stack of parchments, vital information about Manticores her father had sent. The stack was impressive. "Harry, the information here is extensive; however, I don't think we'll need all of it. I've highlighted certain facts I believe will be important. For example, one of their main war strategies is they travel and fight in packs of five. They never deviate from this pattern. There's also a list of their preferred weapons, spells they would use and their mating customs."

Vince snickered.

Luna smiled dreamingly. "Their mating customs are important because it actually affects their pack of five. They only travel and fight with two couples and a senior, someone who isn't mated. We may be able to work this to our advantage." She passed the stack across the table to Harry.

He picked up the top sheet. Manticore Preferred Weapons of War: Wands, broadswords, knives, concealed within clothing and footwear, magic of fire. He inhaled. "They use fire."

"Yes, Harry," Luna acknowledged his concern. "I thought you'd pick up on that right away. We need to think about a defensive action toward ending that advantage. It isn't magical fire, like the fire you produce, so perhaps we can use water in excess to douse them while we use your fire away from the wet areas." Luna had a thoughtful look upon her face. "I'm sure we could utilize the lake."

"Draco, does Dumbledore know this?"

Draco shrugged.

Harry rubbed his temples hard. "Ron, is there any way you could feel out the twins on this? Draco's on the outs with Dumbledore and not getting any info or cooperation in the intelligence department. Salz or Griff could listen in on meetings but since this is news to all of us, I suspect Dumbledore knows nothing about it."

"Sure, Harry. I can floo talk with them. Ask them if they know anything about the possibility of using fire in a prank and if they know of any magical creature that uses it. Maybe I'll tell them the prank is for you because you melted the alarm clock." He finished with a grin at the reminder of the fate of Harry's alarm clock.

Harry nodded. "That might work; while you're at it, you could feel them out on their opinion using fire. I'm sure they've heard an earful about it from Dumbledore and your parents. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to have a couple more allies." He looked around the table. "Let's move forward, okay? Luna, have you made contact with the centaurs yet?"

"Yes. I have a gathering planned for Saturday morning. Firenze won't be attending; he's still ousted. He wished us luck in our attempt. He won't say anything to Dumbledore, either, something about our commonality in the creature realm."

"That sounds good. Draco didn't you have a request for Luna?" Harry gave the floor to Draco as he sat down.

"Sure thing, young Mr. Slytherin." Draco stood and grinned at Harry, and then gave his attention to Luna while pulling an envelope containing a shopping list and Muggle money from his robe pocket. "Here, I need you to deliver this to Outlander Saturday. I didn't want to risk sending it owl. Harry can't get away due to detentions.

On the enclosed parchment is a list of Muggle supplies we'll need. I didn't want to conjure items because it's imperative they have no magical signature. D. will know all about that because he's done something like this before. You'll recognize him because he's able to cross the wards protecting the cabin where you and I have met before. He's our friend and Harry's cousin, so he can be trusted. He'll be expecting you at two o'clock. Will that give you time to complete your meeting with the centaurs?"

"Yes. His name is D.?"

"His name is Dudley, we call him D. or Big D., you'll see why."

Harry studied Draco.

Draco gave Luna a secretive smile. "That's all we need from you for now, Luna, thanks for your help with the Manticore info and the Centaurs. Blaise, what did you find in Sev's lab?"

Blaise wagged his brows and grinned in his most devious Slytherin smile. "Illumination." Pushing the notes forward he had copied about the Draught of Living Death, he continued, "There's his formula, his plan for execution, administration and even the exact time he'll administer the dose."

Harry's brow rose. He glanced over the notes and looked at his Potions team. "I want to read this over, then I'll pass the information to you."

They nodded.

"Ah hem. There's more," Blaise said, his face flushed with excitement. Then he glanced at Hermione. "He's working on a potion to duplicate Harry's fire; exactly. In other words, he's trying to find a loophole in the legal system. Whether Dumbledore knows or not—I don't know because there were no notes about that, only the potion brewing."

"What?" Hermione was startled. "He's working on a legal loophole?" She looked at Draco, he knew Severus best. "What do you think it is?"

"Blaec Flagrare, is one possibility," Draco answered thoughtfully. "It's strictly Black Magic. A potion combining an Old English method of creating a blaec flame blended with the Latin method; flagrare. The combination itself defines it as Black Magic. Most people wouldn't even know it existences. However, despite all that, it isn't illegal." Draco arched a brow. "Maybe Blaise could make a return trip in one week's time. Check to see if there are any notes on the counter about his plans for it."

Harry noticed that Draco ran his finger over his bottom lip in the same way that Snape had a habit of doing when he was thinking deeply.

"I wonder," Draco said thoughtfully. "Why the notes weren't right there; usually he's very meticulous and keeps everything together. Maybe they were in his chambers for further study." He returned his gaze to Blaise. "Would another excursion be helpful?"

"Sure but not a week. Tomorrow would be better since the potion was already almost completed."

"Sounds like a good plan," Harry said. "During class tomorrow. You slip into the lab and check. Same procedure as last time. Moenia, has the password been changed?"

"No, my son, it is still fucking-boy-who-lived," she seemed to sing it to the rhythm of music.

"Humph!" But Harry grinned while he shook his head.

"Why not claim illness during class," Draco said. "It'll be a good distraction. Go straight to the lab from the classroom? That way we'll know Sev is occupied."

Ron reached into his robes, pulled out a small box and tossed it across the table. Skiving SnackBox, Exclusive Product of Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes, was emblazoned across the top.

Blaise grinned, raised it as if it were a toast to good luck, and then pocketed it.

"All right Potions team," Harry said. "I'd rather hear your report and make further plans after I've gone over Snape's notes. Can we meet tomorrow during supper? Dobby and Winky will serve food so you won't starve."

Ginny and Neville nodded confirmation.

"Okay then. 'Mione has already filled me in on the notes compiled about fire so I'd like to move on to something new. Winky."

"You want something? Mister Harry Potter?" She was still annoyed about his eating habits.

"Yes, Winky. I need to show everyone my demonstration. Please understand this is so I can teach them a defensive move for battle. Would you bring us a basket of rolls?" He tried looking contrite but wasn't sure it worked.

She studied him for a moment, then nodded and popped out.

After she left, Harry began telling everyone about dispersement of energy particles. How he would demonstrate by using rolls. This would help them understand the idea and speed their spell creation.

Winky returned and the lesson began.

Harry stood under the comforting spray of the shower trying to release the day he had just experienced. Merlin, I'm seventeen fucking years old and carry the whole damn world on my shoulders.

He had known this for quite awhile now—but that didn't change the fact sometimes things just gathered momentum and collided over his head, crumbling around his shoulders. He tried to visualize the hot water washing his aura clean and cascading his problems away down the drain. He didn't even know how long he stood there when he felt Draco behind him.

"You look as though you are bearing the weight of the world," Draco whispered softly, a look of concern on his face. He had already removed his clothing and stepped into the shower.

Harry pulled him into a tight embrace.

Draco turned his head and caressed Harry's jaw and neck with his tongue, nipping and kissing as he went.

Harry nuzzled in close and took a deep breath, pulling Draco's scent within, trying to replace the burdened air in his lungs with the positive force of his lover and protector. "I thought you had rounds to do," he whispered so low that it mingled with the musical sound of the cascading water.

Draco could barely hear him; however, he did so he chuckled. "Sometimes having four paws can make chores go faster." He began lathering soap on Harry in massage circles to work the tension out of his muscles.


"Just let it go, love," Draco murmured, continuing with his ministrations.

Harry pulled away and studied Draco.

Draco inhaled sharply; the sadness within those jewels was earth shattering. He reached up behind Harry's neck and pulled Harry to him with fierceness of his own. He hissed through clenched teeth, "You are Great, you will succeed and I'll be by your side. Nothing, No one will change that. Don't lose your focus now, Harry."

Then he kissed Harry with burning passion they shared. He needed to bring Harry out of this funk before it became a seriously deep depression.

Harry's hands clasped Draco's waist, nails digging into wet flesh.

Draco thrust Harry against the tile.

Harry was consumed by the fire in his veins. Need. Harry to flamed up; black and green flames engulfed them.

Co-mingled moans harmonized with the sound of quickened breath.

The water was magically turned off...a warm cyclone of air dried them, and then in a phoenix flashpoint, the shower was empty.

Draco looked into Harry's eyes and saw the sadness surrounded with a hungry needful lust. Well, we know how to handle that.

Harry craved Draco more than his next breath. Sadness from worries threatened to overwhelm him.

Draco's concern mirrored back.

With deliberate slowness, Harry entwined fingers in blond silk, relishing the feel between his fingers. He moaned, needing deeper contact.

Draco groaned as his erection encountered Harry's, he lowered his lips to Harry's neck and began the wondrous chore of cheering Harry up and sating his need. Draco bit and suckled his neck bringing up musical sounds moans that he answered with his own.

Harry pulled Draco's head away from his neck to his mouth, tasting him with eagerness. "…Kat...Merlin…" Harry paused to brush his lips over Draco's pulse, "…please...I need…" The last came out in a breathless gasp as Harry arched up to Draco, emphasizing the urgency of this point.

Inhaling sharply at the contact, Draco prepared Harry and complied. Giving his all, their musical sounds of love joined in the dance of life. Rapture in the form of a golden mist of air surrounded them as they thrust, embracing them in total love and release of the troubles of the world.

Their bodies still joined and their heads nuzzling, Harry whispered, "Draco."


"Thank You."

Draco's body shook with chuckles. "You're Welcome."


Chapter Twelve; Ruling Passion - Love

Wednesday morning in the Great Hall would go down in the history of Hogwarts. It was the day owl post invoked a massive explosion in the form of Pansy Parkinson's reaction to the news that her betrothal to Draco Malfoy was terminated without her prior knowledge.

The important looking owl, landed in front of her with an extra large envelope tied to his leg. This owl had a different appearance because it wore a gold chain around its neck bearing the coat of arms of Malfoy's attorneys; Gimlet, Shaft, Strickland & Woodard, Esq.

Draco wasn't in the Great Hall. He was sequestered within the Lion's Den when Blaise came bursting in.

"Draco, there you are. Dumbledore's looking for you. Pansy," he paused, studying Draco. "She's really pissed, you know."

Draco looked up from his toast and shrugged. "I'll go when I'm finished. She got the notices today, I see."

"Yes," Blaise said. "Now, I know why you skipped breakfast in the Hall." He sat, reached for a piece of toast, and then turned when Harry entered.

Since Harry had been out for a morning run, he knew nothing about the owl post or its contents. "What on earth is going on? There was screaming in the Entrance Hall and everyone standing around. All I could see was Pansy throwing her books at anything that moved until Snape finally knocked her out with a calming spell. What happened?"

Draco choked on his toast. He hadn't told Harry about the letters from the lawyers. He rubbed his bottom lip and met Harry's gaze. "I broke my betrothal with Pansy," he said with a strained voice. "She received notice from my attorneys this morning in the post." Draco pulled his gaze away, finding the table interesting all of a sudden.


"Uh, I think I better go." Blaise stood to leave.

Harry swallowed as he studied his mate."You didn't tell me you were betrothed. Why?"

" never came up?" Draco, usually confident, suddenly felt he should have said something before now. He stood in an effort to bring himself level with Harry, only to find he couldn't compete with the flames coming from Harry.

Harry took several deep breaths, trying to pull in the flames that engulfed him. It wasn't working. Where this anger came from was so primal, his human self could not rein it in. He stalked out of the room in an effort to put distance between himself and Draco.

"Harry...Fyr…" Draco tried to make up for lost time by bringing a nervous purr to the tone of his voice. "Come on, we should talk about it. I know I didn't tell you, but believe me; I would've if I had thought the time was right. Things have moved pretty fast, you know. I reall—"

"That's no Fucking excuse!" Harry yelled. He gasped for breath and tried to rein in the flames.

" Harry…" Moenia chose this moment to speak.

"Yes, what is it?"

"The Headmaster and Professor Snape are looking for Draco. They are suspicious at his absence. Perhaps I should lead him to another room to exit from while you calm down." She spoke in a gentle tone, trying in her own way to calm him. It worked.

"Go," Harry said angrily."We'll talk later." His eyes registered sadness at what he perceived to be a lack of trust. "I'm going to shower—ALONE!"



Draco looked at the closed door, and then turned to leave. He felt as though he had a hole in his chest, somewhere about the place his heart used to be.

Moenia made his exit out of the Prefect's Bath.

Silence reigned in the Headmaster's office. Professor Dumbledore sat behind his desk contemplating Draco. He had decided this young man had great potential. Now, he was not so sure. He had welcomed him into the Order, assigned him the honor of Head Boy and brought him into his confidence about the plans for Voldemort's downfall.

This young man, once so full of potential had succeeded in bringing about the use of Dark Arts by their future savior. Now, he had brought disgrace and scandal upon the Parkinson family by staging a public nullification of a lifelong betrothal.

Dumbledore looked over his moon-shaped spectacles. "Was it really necessary to create such a fracas in the Great Hall this morning, Mr. Malfoy?"

Draco took a deep breath. "Actually sir, it was very necessary. Even if I had chosen to break up with her in the privacy of the Slytherin common room, all of Hogwarts would have known about it. There would have been an argument in the common room that most likely would have brought about its destruction. I know you don't realize it, but just last week she became so agitated I was required to ask Granger for assistance. You may verify this with her if you like. The other reason for the public notice—I wanted to ensure Pansy understood I am serious about the breakup. There have been times when she refused to take me serious. This way she and her family have been notified through my attorneys. It leaves no question of reconciliation."

"And your parents know about this?" Dumbledore looked at Severus as he finished the question, seeking confirmation.

"Yes," Draco answered emphasizing with a nod. "My mother knows. Sev knew it was coming, just not when."

Dumbledore's brow rose. "You knew? You didn't think it important to inform the staff?"

Severus cleared his throat, tossed a look at Draco and replied, "I knew he had spoken with Narcissa about the breakup. I didn't know when it would happen or even if he would go through with it."

Draco snorted.

"Mr. Malfoy?"

Draco thought of Harry, angry in their room back in the Lion's Den.

Draco stood and walked to the fireplace. Griff was in the portrait above the mantle, maybe to offer moral support. Draco looked at the portrait then finally turned to the Headmaster and looked him straight in the eye. "I broke up with Pansy because I am mated and bonded to Harry."

Blue eyes gazed back at him steadily. "When did this happen?"

"One week ago. Also sir, yes, my mother knows."

Sev rolled his eyes.

Dumbledore seemed to slip into deep thought. After a few moments, he looked at Draco. "That is all for now, Mr. Malfoy, you should go to class now. Thank you, we will talk about this more later."

Draco left the room.

Transfiguration was a solemn affair that morning. Harry sat at the back of the classroom in a sulk. Pansy was absent because she was sedated in the hospital wing. Draco arrived late for class. Professor McGonagall received his excuse that he had been with the Headmaster and Professor Snape without comment.

The review lesson for that morning's class was to change a vase into a water fountain. Draco frowned as he thought, Yeah, this will help us defeat the meany old Dark Lord. His transfiguration was successful on the first try.

Boredom encircled his brain and thoughts. Sometime toward the end of class, a note appeared in front of him. He inhaled a quick breath and read the message.

Skip lunch and meet me in the LD.


Draco didn't turn; he simply nodded his head hoping the confirmation would be received.

Harry stood in his bedchamber looking at the trunk he had just brought in. He'd already decided he would move here permanently; he'd just never gotten around to it. Maybe, there just wasn't time...ugh. He sensed Draco watching him, but he didn't turn around.

"Are you still angry?"

Harry didn't answer.

Draco approached him cautiously. "Harry, I'm sorry. I guess I didn't think it was important. The only thing that mattered is we were together. A contract made before I could even say my own name was not a high priority."

The energy of the chamber crackled.

Draco paused; it had always been like that. "Do you ever stop to think about the fact this charge of energy has always been here? The crackling reticence between us, Harry. Stop a moment and really feel it. I know you do."

"Yeah. I feel it. What's your point?"

Draco sighed. "Fourth year, leaving feast."

Harry arched his brows, but he didn't interrupt.

Draco took a deep breath. "We didn't stand to toast Diggory. What everyone didn't know was we were scared and didn't want to admit it. Think about it Harry, our parents are Death Eaters. Voldemort's return took our opportunity for a free life away. Our parents would expect us to follow him.

"Then on the train, in the compartment." Draco inhaled sharply. "I was upset because we—you and I—would always be on opposite sides. Do you remember what I said? 'You've picked the losing side, Potter. I warned you!' It was selfish I know; I was sure you were lost to me. Don't you remember the charge on the train that day? It's always there; it's here now. Feel it."

Harry approached and stood close.

Draco lifted his hand to touch Harry.

He shoved it away.

Sound came from Draco's throat at the denial.

Harry leaned in closer, inhaling Draco's scent and caressed him with his breath.

Draco didn't move.

"This what you mean?"

Draco inhaled sharply but would not move, did not back down, he accepted Harry's exploration of his soul; he did not want to hide anything.

Harry closed the gap between them and bit Draco on the lip, pulling him into a cyclone of released passion. Draco expressed relief by returning the bite with his tongue in accompaniment. Neither knew how the bed came to be beneath them.

"Harry, Justin just...Ohhh, excuse me!" 'Mione gasped at the vision before her.

They turned to see her standing there.

Hermione stood in the doorway with bright red cheeks. She turned her head away. Her hand came up to fan herself as she rushed to say, "Justin and Blaise just came in, they overheard a conversation you, ummm, both of you should know about."

Harry stood and pulled Draco up by his robes. "Come on; let's hear what the troops have to report."

Draco straightened his robes, trying to look cool, and collected.

'Mione arched her brow and grinned at him.

Draco scowled. "Not a word, Granger."

She smirked and walked out of the bedchamber in front of him.

Blaise gave them a knowing smirk when they entered the common room of the Lion's Den. "Justin, I think I'll let you do the honors," Blaise said, while still smirking at Draco.

Draco scowled.

Justin turned to Harry. "We have a traitor in the castle. One who could bring the whole place down."

"You're sure?" Harry asked.

"We heard him talking in his fire." Blaise looked uncomfortable when he said this. "He was requesting more gold for opening a back door on Yule."

"Harry," Ron said. "We can't let him get away with that."

"We will just have to use Outlander again. I'll go tonight. Right now I want some lunch, don't want to go to Potions on an empty stomach. Dobby."

"Lunch for everyone, Dobby. Thanks."

Everyone sat around the table and enjoyed a relaxing meal before going off to conquer the Potions Master's domain.

Potions class was just as predictable as ever. Professor Snape entered the classroom in a swirl of angry energy that propelled his trademark billowing robes.

Harry rolled his eyes and grinned into his cauldron as he set up their supplies.

Neville snickered especially quietly.

Draco and Blaise shared a look, one of coming conspiracy.

Professor Snape stopped in front of Harry and Neville looking at their preparations with suspicion. His eyes narrowed as he looked at Harry. "Mister Potter, today we will be working on a very complicated potion. Do you think," at this he turned his cold gaze to Neville, "the two of you can manage without disaster?"

"Yes sir, ready when you are." Harry was looking forward to the class. He wanted to see Blaise in action.

Snape arched a brow, spun around and waved his wand. "The necessary ingredients are listed on the board. Begin."

The seventh year students were well accustomed to Snape's way of teaching. He expected the seventh year N.E.W.T. students to work without much guidance. This suited them well.

In the supply cupboard, Draco reached out and grabbed Harry's arse when no one was looking.

Harry thrust him against the wall.

Draco was sorely disappointed when Harry stopped within a breath of his own.

Harry moved his hips forward in a sensual caress.

Draco hissed at the contact, and then they were gone before he could even protest their absence. Draco banged his head back against the wall in response to his rising frustration. Fuck! He exited the cupboard, tossed a glare at his former nemesis and took his seat next to Blaise.

Blaise smirked. "Problem, Draco?"

Draco scowled his frustration. "Shut up and do your job, you know, the one we are all looking forward to?"

A piece of candy slipped into Blaise's mouth. He smiled. Three minutes later the entire class was in an uproar because Blaise Zabini was very sick. He lay on the cold dungeon floor, shaking enough to rattle the cauldron and supplies on the table above him.

"Stand back!" Professor Snape roared. "I said, everyone back away—now." Kneeling down, he found Blaise's temperature. It was rising quickly. Scowling, he looked up at Draco. There was only one thing to do.

"Draco," he said. "Immobilize him and take him to the infirmary. You'll just have to complete your potion later." Professor Snape scowled; he couldn't leave his classroom and other students.

"Yes, sir," Draco answered. This is better than we thought. Casting an Immobulus on Blaise, Draco levitated him from the room.

Professor Snape growled at the other students to get back to their potions and returned to his desk to grade essays.

Class resumed its usual routine.

Once in the corridor outside the classroom Draco Malfoy administered the Skiving SnackBox remedy. "Let's go."

"Here it is," Blaise said. He knew which cauldron the potion they were looking for was in, so he headed straight for it. "You were right it is the Blaec Flagrare. His notes are here."

Draco, on the other hand, stood before the Draught of Living Death. He stared down at it cooling in the cauldron. Its final stage of preparation dark blue and reflective like a mirror.

"Draco, I have the copies of Snape's notes. We need to go." Blaise approached Draco and pulled him away from the offensive potion.

"Wait!" Draco yanked his sleeve away bristling with anger. "Why do you suppose he's willing to do this? Do you think he plans to give this to me too? It's bad enough about Harry, but...he—he's supposed to care about me and even my mum."

"Come on. We need to go. We can talk about this later. I know you're upset, we just need to leave."

He tried to coax Draco away before he did something that would cause them be discovered. He finally succeeded in pulling him from the room and up to the Lion's Den.

They faced off once they were within the common room. "You've got to calm down," Blaise insisted. "You know we won't let it happen. Draco you've got to have faith in our plan."

Icy anger projected from a voice resonated with the cold, Draco said angrily, "Fuck it, Blaise, you're missing the point! He created that potion with every intention of using it!" Draco made a move for the door.

Blaise blocked Draco.

With a grunt Draco shoved his hand into Blaise's chest while his foot hooked behind Blaise's knee.

They tumbled to the rug grappling for supremacy.

"Settle down," Blaise growled.

A bigcat roar exploded from Draco. He backhanded Blaise across the jaw.

Blood spewed from a split lip. With a roar Blaise yelled, "Enough!" he slipped his hand under Draco's arm while his wand burned with anger against his palm. "Stupify!"

Breathing heavily he rolled Draco off and sat next to him staring. "Bloody hell. Didn't want to do that. Moenia?"


"Please tell Harry we have a problem," Blaise said, shaking his head with worry and wiping blood from his chin.

"Of course."

Harry was still in Potions class when he heard Moenia.

"Harry, there is a problem with Draco in the Den. You need to go see about."

Harry inhaled sharply.

Neville looked up from his book.

"Draco." Harry answered Neville's questioning look. "There's a problem. He's in the Den; I need to get there."

Neville glanced up to the front of the class. "We only have five more minutes, can't it wait?"

Harry shrugged and focused his thought to Moenia. What happened?

"He is upset about the potion; his friend had to subdue him."

"Shit," Harry whispered. "It's bad, Blaise had to Stupefy him. I have to go, can you clean up?"

Neville nodded.

By now, many of the other students were already packing up. Harry grabbed his bag and made a detour around the room hoping to blend in with the preparations of the others to leave. He was out.

Once on the other side of the door, Harry made sure no one saw him, and then flashed out of the corridor straight to the Lion's Den.

"Merlin," Blaise said. "You're here. He's going to kill me."

"What happened?"Harry asked.

"He lost it in the potions lab," Blaise answered. "He just stood over that damn potion and lost it. I almost couldn't get him to leave. Finally, I got him back here, but he decided he was going to get Snape. As you can see this is the only way I could stop him. Don't mind me saying this, but if he had destroyed that potion or even gone after Snape our whole cover would be blown. I've never known him to act this way. What the hell is going on?"

Harry sighed and knelt down by Draco. His hand reached out and touched the white blond hair that spread around Draco's head like a halo. "Umm, well we know." He looked up at Blaise, wondering what he would think.

Blaise looked at them. "Well, it's about bloody time you told one of us. You need to get him to calm down though; while you're at it maybe convince him not to kill me, huh?"

Harry smirked. "I'll see what I can do." He levitated Draco into the bedchamber. "Better go. I'll take care of him."

"Sure thing. Later," he said.

With a wave of his hand, Harry said, "Ennervate." Harry sat on the side of the bed.

In a ferocious movement, Draco sat up with a curse, his hand going for his wand. "I'll kill him."


Draco growled. "First Snape, then Blaise." He tried to get up.

Harry wouldn't let him. He rolled over onto him.

Draco was much too angry, he wanted out. He maneuvered his way free and made for the door.

Harry propped his head up on his hand. Rather calmly, he said, "Moenia."

The door closed and locked.

"What the hell are you doing? Let me out, now!"


Draco proceeded to have a royal temper tantrum. Yelling, kicking and throwing things. He even froze the flames in the fireplace.

Nothing fazed Harry as he lay on the bed, hands clasped behind his head, watching.

After fifteen minutes of ranting, angry eyes turned to Harry on the bed. "Let me out."


Draco turned and stared into the frozen flames in the fireplace. "I want to kill him." The sound of his voice was as soft as a breeze through the trees—one that could chill you to the bone.

Harry stood up, and then walked across to Draco, touching his shoulder. "No, you don't. You're just mad," Harry purred in a calming resonance. "It'll pass and we'll continue with the plan."

"You make my anger seem trite."

"Well, it isn't." Harry said. "It's pretty damn impressive, if you ask me. By the way, Blaise was only trying to protect you; you know that, don't you?"

"This isn't going to be easy."

"No one ever said it was." Harry leaned in, stopping before contact to check if it was okay. He looked into molten eyes, and then pressed his lips to Draco's, seeking to elicit calm solace.

Draco's fingers entwined within Harry's hair and pulled him away. "Are you teasing me again?"


Draco grinned. "That's some vocabulary you've got there." He pulled Harry back into a passionate kiss. Pulling back, he joked, "Maybe you should make sure the door is locked."

Harry waved his hand and a wide piece of wood appeared across the door set in brackets. He grinned. "How's that?"


Harry's hands propelled Draco's clothing across the room while biting Draco on his neck and ear. As Draco became more aroused, the laughter became more subdued.

"I won't…" Draco paused to kiss Harry's ear embellishing the act with a bite, then continued, "…let it...happen…" Draco said, with as much conviction that could be expressed when one was approaching the throes of passion. He deepened his kiss to emphasis his point.

Harry rolled him to change position and came up gasping. After catching his breath, he leaned down and caressed Draco's jaw with his tongue, while slowly pulling Draco's hands above his head. With a whispered word, Draco found himself bound to the headboard.

"Do you…" Harry bit Draco. "Have any idea...mmmnn…" Kissing Draco with relish, he whispered heatedly, "…how often…" Harry's progressed down Draco's chest. "…I have…" nails skimming over tender flesh creating shivers "…fantasized...mmmnn...tying you to my bed?"

From somewhere, rooted deeply, Draco moaned.

Harry looked into the icy passion that was Draco's eyes. He loved that look. It said they were all that is, was or ever would be, two souls merging into one.

Boundlessness…the world and all of its problems faded in the face of such a powerful feeling. With a smile and a flirtatious wink, Harry began his wondrous torture upon the beauty before him.

Draco gasped.

Harry snapped his fingers softly. A black phoenix feather appeared in his hand. What an excellent tool to explore with. He swirled and teased becoming more aroused him as Draco moaned and moved under his toy.

Time disappeared into infinity…

Dudley sat on his bed working on his advanced geometry when a sudden bright flash at the end of his bed startled him. Looking up, he gasped and then hissed, "What the hell are you doing? Piers is in the shower, he could come out any second."

Harry responded with a grin and a wave at the bathroom door "We need to talk."

"I thought," Dudley said as he pushed hands through his hair, and scratched his head real hard, "I was supposed to see someone Saturday?"

"Yeah, you are, this is different. I need you to send another anonymous owl." Harry pulled a piece of parchment out of his jacket pocket and handed it to Dudley. "Now, because it's kind of important."

He opened the note, read it, and then looked up at Harry with concern. "When did you find out about this?"

"Earlier today," Harry answered. "Get your parchment out before Polkiss is done. If I'm still here when he finishes, I just might be tempted to jinx him." He grinned at Dudley's look of surprise and shrugged.

Dudley rose and pulled out his parchment pack. He had to go down a few sheets to find a blank piece. He had been using the parchment for his drawings.

Harry reached over and pulled one of the drawings up to see it better. His brow arched as he looked at his cousin for an answer.

"What?" Dudley said. "I have to have some sort of excuse for having parchment so I used it to draw on." He was busy copying the note to send to the Headmaster of Hogwarts.

Harry studied the last finished drawing. It was a night scene with a full moon and a lone wolf sitting on a rise of the earth singing her mournful song to the luminescent orb.

Dudley came over, looked at the drawing sighing. "That was in a dream I had."

"It's very nice," Harry said. He reached into his jacket and pulled out a very ruffled and annoyed owl, it was not much bigger than his fist.

"That's an owl?" he asked, snickering.

"Yeah, his name is Crocket, because he is brave. Some American Muggle thing." They attached the note to the owl's leg and took him to the window where he released him. The water in the shower in the other room turned off.

"You better fly," Dudley said.

With a grin and a wave there was a flashpoint of fire and Dudley stood alone in his dorm. "Lucky bastard," he said as he went back to his boring and tedious homework. He looked up as Piers came back into the room.

Piers looked around their dorm room. "Where's Chris? I thought I heard you talking to him."

"Naw, you were hearing things." Dudley smirked, enjoying his secret. "Chris is out somewhere; probably getting shagged." He looked down to his book and normalcy returned to Smeltings.

Thursday morning the Great Hall was filled with student's laughter. The day before had been eventful, even for Hogwarts standards, the hope was today would bring only gossiping about the coming weekend.

Minerva McGonagall sat at the Head Table and noticed Harry was still missing from the hall. She also realized his friends weren't saving a space for him. She glanced at the Slytherin table. Draco Malfoy laughed with his friends, Crabbe, Goyle and Zabini. They didn't seem to notice Harry's absence either.

Justin Finch-Fletchley tossed a roll at the trio from the Hufflepuff table and a small battle erupted. A sharp look from Professor Snape had no effect on the students.

The double doors swung open, admitting a carefree Harry Potter.

Draco's brows arched as he watched Harry stroll to his friends at Gryffindor table. There was a sudden scramble to make room for him between Ron and Neville. With a sly grin, Harry ignored the open space and budged up between Ron and Hermione, causing a rash of laughter.

Hermione blushed.

With a grin at the Slytherin table, Harry raised his goblet as though in a toast.

The Slytherins snickered at the joke.

Harry leaned forward and whispered something in Hermione's ear.

'Mione smacked Harry's arm.

There was of rush of incoming owls above them.

Harry turned when Hedwig landed next to him and put her leg out with a note attached. He removed it, gave her a piece of bacon, and then snuggled her as she jumped to his shoulder. He turned his gaze toward the head table where the Headmaster struggled with a minute owl.

Albus Dumbledore finally managed to take the note from the owl. He set the missive to the side to read later. The tiny owl pounced on his hand and bit him.

Harry had to bury his face in Hedwig's feathers to hide his smile.

The owl bit the Headmaster again, insisting that the note be read now.

Dumbledore frowned at the pesky little mite and opened the note.


You have a traitor in your midst. One who cares, will open a door for galleons.

Outlander Guardian Angel

Albus Dumbledore laid the parchment on the table and took a deep breath. He did not look up.

Minerva's attention shifted from Harry, to Albus. She saw that his face was paler than usual, and he looked extremely tired. "What is it, Albus?"

Albus indicated the note.

Minerva read it and gasped as she finished. This note; was written and signed the same as the earlier one with one difference. Above the word cares was drawn a broken halo with red drops falling around it. They now knew that the circle around the capital A was an angel's halo; Remus had told them. The broken halo in the note represented the falling of the one who cares. Death would result; death of precious students that is. "How can this be?"

"I do not know, but I assure you I will find out." Albus stood, pocketing the note. "Meet me in ten minutes in my office. Bring Severus."

She nodded.

Albus looked into at the-boy-who-lived as he left the Great Hall. He would not let this happen, again. A very determined man left the Hall with one goal in mind. Find Argus Filch and question him for the truth.

Reviews are like Chocolate Frogs . . .
there is a surprise card in each package.
Let me know what you think. Thank You...Blessings. LL

Review responses in the order received:

Banner: So glad you have rediscovered this fic and still enjoy it. It's a pleasure to work through these pages. I'd actually forgotten some things myself. Then when I finish editing and go back through I think whoa! I wrote that? (where does my imagination come from?) Thanks for taking the time to review. Each one counts. Blessings. LL

Bablefisk: Doesn't Dumbledore make an interesting opponent for Harry? 'Tis so much fun! Thanks for reviewing. Blessings. LL

iNsAnE nO bAkA: Thank you for your review. Don't feel bad about forgetting some parts. This is a long fic and it's filled with many fun adventures. It's been enjoyable going through and remembering parts for myself. The rewrite is staying true to the original so far just cutting excessive wording. (hoping to make the reading easier. ;o) Blessings. LL

AcadianProud: So glad you enjoyed the first segments of the rewrite. ;o) Sorry about taking so long to update. (see note above) I won't reveal any secrets about what happens between Harry and the Order. vbg Hope you'll stay with us to the end. Thanks for reviewing. Blessings. LL

Thrnbrooke: Thank you for your kind words. They warm my heart during these recent difficult times. Blessings. LL

The Circle: I'm so glad you've enjoyed the story thus far. It's a challenge to rewrite and stay with the original, but I have loved this story for so long that I wanted to remain true to its plot. Hope you stay with us to completion. (it's a very long story. ;o) Thank you for reviewing. Blessings. LL

Great Taro: ;o) Glad you could tell it's incomplete. That's because what is posted here so far is just part of the story. This segment today takes you through chapter 12. There are 38 chapters in all. Are you ready? Lol Please stay with us. I'd love to hear your thoughts with each segment. Blessings. LL

Anamolly2013: Thank you for your kind words. When I first began writing there was so much extra wording. I hope this version is easier to read. This segment alone lost more than 4,000 words. Despite that the story wasn't changed. Blessings. LL

SpiralPhoenix: Yes, Dearheart, there will be more. ;o) Blessings. LL

Chobnbeese: We aren't finished with this one yet. ;o) There are 38 chapters in this story. Hope you enjoy them. Blessings. LL

Dolder: I apologize for the delay. (again) I hope I'm back on track. Can't make exact promises about updates, but I will try to finish. Thank you for contacting me. Blessings. LL

S a y a . s e n : So glad you love the story so far. You're right…Voldemort won't win. Lol… Blessings. LL p.s. Your name wasn't working for my review responses. Do you have problems with it here at FF? That's why I inserted spaces... Tried 4 time the regular way.

Olupotter18: Here's some more. Hope you enjoy. ;o) Blessings. LL

Valkyrii: Hope you enjoy this update. Sorry it's so late in coming. I'm already working on the next segment and will post soon. Thanks much for reviewing. Blessings. LL

Zafaran: Alas! My muse is giving me fits. There is progress in the rewrite though so I hope to have another update soon. Enjoy this one and let me know what you think. I, too, have much invested in these characters. Thanks for letting me know you are reading. Blessings. LL

Phoenix Pixie: Yes, there's more. Please read and let me know what you think. Don't forget this story has 38 chapters. ;o) Thanks for reviewing. Blessings. LL

Blanket Disclaimer: Harry Potter and Co. and all other characters within Potter World do not belong to me. No infringement is intended. I am making no money here; just having fun. Kudos and blessings to the literary genius JKR. This disclaimer is meant to be effective throughout this whole fic. Where mentioned it also includes Pepsi, India Spice Tea and the Psycho Balistics Delta .68 and last but not least, the Clifford the Big Red Dog book series. Use of these names is solely for entertainment purposes and isn't an endorsement of the product. I am making no money from them either.