Disclaimer : I do absolutely not own Harry Potter and co. I merely borrowed them.
For once, even the plot bunny isn't mine, I adopted it from bleedingstargoddess.
Warnings : AU, people out of character all over the place... And strange sentences since I'm French.
Some Harry/Lucius interaction…. And an explanation for Lucius' absence from the Death Eaters' last reunion.
And, yeah, I know that it was not Gaelic but Welsh in the last chapter. I don't know why, but I put Gaelic instead of Welsh every time…. That is what you got when you try to type between two requests for coffee, I think…Anyways, thank you to But and Siobhan for taking the time to tell me about it in their reviews.
I tried a different thing with the translations, that is to know I put them after the word, like Crimsonphoenix271 suggested in a review. Tell me if it's all right.
Oh, and I am in no ways a physics specialist. So, if my theory of entropy is wrong, feel free to tell me.
Beta : Yep! Please, welcome LoveBird17! I'm sorry for the long wait, I was being lazy…
Still here? On with the show!
Aguamenti frigida. A spell to project cold water on a target
Chapter 16 – I. Do. Not. Shriek. Like. A. Bloody. Girl!
The Slytherin dorms were awakened by an unearthly shriek the next morning. It rose until attaining a frequency and shrill note the more musically inclined students would have thought – before this fateful morning call – could not be attained, ever, even with magic.
After rushing out of their warm beds to carefully check that their common room had not been invaded by an army of banshees that one of the students from another House had let in as a prank, the upper years prudently huddled around the lower ones. They kept as far away as possible from Draco Malfoy's door, where a somewhat muted shrieking still emerged.
The upper years were conferring, weighing their options. They could either delegate one of their prefects, it was, after all, their responsibility, to go wake their Head of House, explain the situation to him, and let him deal with everything. They were even willing to have points being deducted and to have to deal with an increase of their daily dose of snarking. Curiously, neither prefect felt up to the task.
Or they could do nothing, cast protection wards and silencing charms on their dorms rooms before going to hole back there to try and catch some more sleep, coming back only when the danger had passed or when somebody came looking for them, whichever came first.
As their debating became more heated, nearly all of them jumped out of their skins when sudden crashing sounds came from behind the closed door of their unofficial leader, interspaced with unintelligible screaming.
They all turned to the door, half fascinated and half dreading what might happen should the door open. As luck would have it, they were just in time to witness a black blur erupting through the closed door and speeding towards them.
After much shrieking of their own and stampeding to get out of the way, the Slytherins gradually calmed down when they noticed that nobody had been hurt and began to look around for clues as to what that black blur had been and where it had gone.
All eyes turned back to Draco's door as it opened, banging against the wall, showing an enraged and dishevelled Draco Malfoy in all his night clothing glory, which consisted of only a pair of low riding silk pyjama pants, much to the pleasure of some of his fellow students.
"Where is it?" he screamed. "Where is this Hell spitted spawn who have been sent here to make my life miserable?"
Seeing that his Housemates were only staring at him in silence, some of them gaping, others slowly blushing, he growled and advanced on them, levelling his wand at the group they were in.
He smirked as he heard some jiggling on his left. Pointing his wand towards where the sounds were emanating from, he enunciated with a lot of satisfaction "Accio Potter."
Harry ducked and dived back into the thick of the group of Slytherins, intending to hide. The only problem was that all the Slytherins, not wanting to be caught in the crossfire, jumped to the side. Harry had some luck in his misfortune, though, because not all Slytherins jumped to the same side, which, while it didn't provide him with a clear path to flee, was enough to impede Draco's aim, enough for Harry to actually flee.
After some mad scrambling as well as a few interesting acrobatics, Harry found himself clinging with all his claws' might to Vincent Crabbe's back, the Slytherin's bulk enough to hide him from view. Harry, thinking himself safe for the time being, poked his head over his perch's shoulder and stick his tongue at a fuming Draco.
"You shriek like a girl!" he taunted.
The blonde bristled before smirking evilly. He aimed his wand at both Harry, who disappeared back behind Crabbe's back, and his resigned human perch.
Harry's eyes opened wide, and he retracted his claws, dropping to the floor. But before he could move, the drenched Crabbe had stepped aside, allowing the cold water to hit Harry, making him hiss.
"Bad, bad kitty." Draco scolded the moping and miserably wet teen-cat, shaking a finger at him.
Focussed on the pandemonium occurring in the Common room, no students had noticed the dorm room opening and closing. Nor were any students loitering in the corridors close enough to see the Potions Master shake his head with a sigh or hear him grumble "I'm much too sober for this shit."
Once everybody had dispersed, Harry had dried himself up and tried to retreat to Draco's room but all his escape attempts had been thwarted by Draco, who had seated both of them on a couch, promptly putting up silencing and privacy protecting wards around them.
"So, Potter, mind telling me why you thought necessary to climb into bed with me?"
Harry only crossed his paws as best as he could across his chest, and turned his head away like a petulant child.
"Don't make me force you to speak." Draco warned him, readying his wand and drawling "agua…"
Harry's head snapped back to him, one of his paws coming to weigh on his wrist, pushing his wand down towards the couch. Harry sighed deeply and peeked at Draco from under his lashes with his best hang-kitten eyes.
"The Dark Lord cursed my bed." He mewled pitifully.
Draco, taken aback, blinked in surprise. "Would you care to elaborate on that?"
Harry pouted. "He made me see him order Snape to marry my dad!"
Both teens shivered in unison. Harry, reliving the scene from memory, realised something suddenly.
"Hey, Malfoy, where was your father last night? He didn't go to Lord Mouldy's little shebang! Not that his Mouldiness seemed to care…"
"Uh? Oh, he had warned the Dark Lord that he had some business venture to take care of out of England. He was in Italy, I think."
"What was he doing here?" Harry asked in an innocent tone of voice, hoping that Draco would keep his guard down and answer honestly.
Draco, his eyes twinkling, smirked at the nonplussed cat-boy. Who, after a few seconds of frozen immobility, jumped to hide under the sofa.
"Er, Potter?" Draco was left blinking at his, no, not friend, charge, yes, that's what Potter was, his charge's abrupt departure. He bent to look under the sofa. "What in Merlin's unwashed socks happened right now?"
Harry sheepishly extracted himself from under the sofa. "Twinkling! Dumbledore!" he babbled, his front paws waving around.
Draco grimaced at the idea of being compared to the muggle-loving fool before bursting into laughter. "No, he simply told the Dark Lord he was tracking a 15th century grimoire who supposedly belonged to the Borgia family. While he was at it, he also got a certain glass-worker we both know of a present. Because it is my mother's birthday soon, and he wants to commission something to said glass-worker. He thought that to do that, the glass-worker in question would need some equipment."
"Yes, oh. We'd better prepare to go to class." With a wave of his wand, Draco dispelled the privacy and silencing wards. He bounded to his feet before speeding in their room. "You'd better hope that your shenanigans don't make me late to class, Potter, I still have to take my shower!"
Harry snickered at the madly rushing Slytherin before settling himself comfortably on the couch to preen his fur.
Elsewhere, Lucius, a big clinking box carefully maintained in his arms had apparated to the border of the wards surrounding the Lestrange mansion.
Once he had cleared the wards, he walked to the front door and announced himself by kicking the door repeatedly until it was opened by a snarling Bellatrix. She let her wand drop from its aim at Lucius' chest once she recognised him.
"Lucius!" She exclaimed. "You didn't come yesterday when our Lord called. Why didn't you come?" she finished mournfully.
Silently, his head held high, the Malfoy patriarch pushed past Bellatrix, mindful of the box he held. He spoke once the door had been closed behind the angry witch.
"There is no need to advertise our conversation to the whole vicinity, you can never be sure of who or what might be listening. But if you must know, I warned out Lord that I had a business venture to undergo, the buy of a grimoire belonging to the Borgia. I even brought back some pre-wedding present to our glass-worker." He explained, nodding once in the direction of the box he still held.
He winced internally as Bellatrix flashed him a feral smile at the mention of Severus' fiancé. She then squealed and clapped her hands excitedly. "They are in the left potions lab, in the dungeons. They are planning to convert it into a lab for Louis."
Lucius, following his insane guide, reflected not for the first time that Bellatrix was rapidly becoming a liability, her sudden changes of mood enough to endanger all around her, especially if they happened during a fight against Aurors.
They walked in silence until they arrived at a heavy door after a lot of stairs and corridors. Bellatrix knocked on the door, which was opened from the inside by her brother in law. She grabbed his arm and chirped "Look what the crup brought in!" before cheerfully waving a hand in Lucius' direction. She then stepped around Rabastan in the lab, going to embrace a red-faced Louis.
Rabastan followed her with his eyes before turning to Lucius, using the move to disguise his eye-roll at his sister-in-law's behaviour. "I thought you were supposed to be back yesterday in the late afternoon." He enquired.
Lucius nodded and went to put his box on the sturdy table that had been moved in the lab. He smirked a little as he spied Louis trying to fend, mostly in vain, Bellatrix's hands. "Enough of your playing, Bellatrix." He chided her. "Let the boy come and see what I brought."
Louis quickly sidled up to the table, taking care to keep Lucius between himself and Bellatrix. Lucius opened the box and began to put items out of it and on the table. With each item revealed, Louis' eyes brightened a little more, and the flush on his face turned from embarrassment to excitement. A big smile graced his lips when Lucius ended his unpacking by putting an old worn wooden box on the table right in front of Louis.
"I was assured this box belonged to the Dagon?" Lucius asked Louis, who nodded enthusiastically. His smile softened as he reached to open it, revealing four glass objects nestled in a dark purple velvet cushion. He let his fingertips glide on each of them while the Lestranges crowded around to see what was inside the box.
The first one on the left was a coiled snake, a viper if Rabastan was not mistaken. The following one was a scorpion, and the third was a spider, a realistic black widow. But it was the last one that surprised the two Lestranges. It had the body of a bee with the stinger of a scorpion.
"What is this thing?" Bellatrix wondered, her hand reaching to pluck the chimera out of its velvet nest to have a better view.
"Stop!" Lucius warned her. "I made the same mistake yesterday. The damn thing stung me and knocked me unconscious for the night."
Bellatrix drew her hand back quickly. She arched an eyebrow when Louis chuckled. "I can't believe you found them! I thought they were lost, that Potter had sold them…. 'Line and I had this sibling rivalry. We would make one of those, put some potion or other in the venom sacks of the creature so that the potion would be inoculated once the animal stung its victim, and then released the animal in the intended victim's room.
'Line put the snake in my wardrobe, between my shirts. I ended up with hair changing colours for three days.
I put the spider in the drapes of her bed. She could only speak in riddles for a week.
She put the scorpion in my shoes, I could not put my feet back on the floor no matter what I tried for two days. Floating an inch above the floor take some getting used to, you know.
She got married before I could use the waspion, so I changed the potion inside to a knock-out potion. I was planning to use it on her husband at the start of their wedding night." He pouted and picked at his borrowed pants. "Somehow she discovered my intention and confronted me. She wouldn't let me, she grabbed the box and left!" He exclaimed, frowning before swiftly picking an object from the table and walking away from the table. He walked to a precise place in the lab, putting the object carefully on the floor and resizing it. Once he had his lab arranged to his satisfaction, he turned to Lucius.
"Thank you. This is first rate equipment. Where did you get it?"
Lucius smirked. "Murano."
Louis nodded. "So, what did I do to deserve such a present? What's the price tag?"
"My wife's birthday is coming up. I'd like to commission you to make her a gift."
Louis cocked his head to the side. "What sort of gift?"
Lucius answered swiftly. "I'll leave that to your appreciation."
Louis goggled. "Hey, I may be a wizard, but I'm not a mind reader! How am I supposed to make her something she'll appreciate if I don't even know her name nor have an indication of what she likes?"
Lucius shrugged. "Narcissa is a woman, she likes what other women do."
Louis crossed his arms on his chest. "Helloooooooo!" he drawled, waving a hand in front of Lucius' face. "In case it escaped your notice, I am not a woman! And they are always complaining that men can't understand them!"
Lucius grabbed Louis's hand to stop its movement. "Well, despite my long hair, I also happened to be a man, you know."
"Ben (French interjection, to reinforce like in "ben quoi" translated as "so what"), you're the one married to her! And living with her!"
Lucius' mouth twitched as if he was fighting a pout. It was the moment Bellatrix chose to intervene by clapping her hands. "I know!" she exclaimed. "How about some knives? Or some needles? Or even…."
Wincing, Rabastan cut her off. "Firstly, Louis is not a blacksmith, but a glass-smith, if such a word exists. And secondly, I don't think Narcissa is into torture."
Bellatrix pouted mournfully. "No, she always had too weak a stomach for that." Dragging her feet, she left the potions lab turned glass working lab.
Lucius shook his head. Rabastan murmured "You won't offence me if you label her a liability."
Lucius nodded once sharply before turning to leave. He spoke over his shoulder. "Narcissa really is the typical woman. She likes clothes, perfume, and jewellery. And let's not forget that she was aptly named." He left with a last swirl of his cloak.
Louis rushed to the door and shouted at his departing back "I'll need two tons of the purest sand, the same weight of the clearest water as well as the same quantity of wood and coal."
"Understood." Lucius answered before disappearing around a bent of the corridor.
Inside of the lab, Louis retrieved some pieces of parchment and some charcoal from the table's drawer, sat at the table and began to draw.
Rabastan, who had opted to stay out of his brother and sister-in-law's attention by staying in the lab with Louis, came to look at his drawings over his shoulder. He nodded at the three first ones, but hesitated on the fourth one. "Are you sure about this one?" he asked, pointing at the drawing in question.
Louis smirked. "Yes, as a sort of a gag gift. It's the principle of the gift that keeps on giving." He explained as he pointed to a drawing a little to the right that Rabastan had missed previously.
Rabastan's answering smirk was a little snarkish. "For having met Narcissa, I'd say it is a well deserved gift. Make a list of all additional material you'll need, I'll transmit it to Lucius."
Louis nodded and began to scribble feverishly on a blank note of parchment.
Harry pouted and changed position on the couch. /I can't even twiddle my thumbs with my hands changed into paws. Stupid Draco! How much time does he need in the showers anyway?/
He wiggled a little bit more before renouncing. It looked like he would be unable to find a comfortable position any time soon.
He jumped to his paws and began to pace, muttering under his whiskers and even hissing once at the offending couch as he passed in front of it.
One of his ears swivelled in the direction of the door leading to Draco's room when it opened. Resolutely not looking in the Slytherin prince's direction as he was crossing the common room towards the dorm door, Harry slid his arm and neck in his bag's strap, stood up and strode to wait at the door.
"Oy, Potter, stop sulking!"
"Well," Blaise drawled, "You did take an awful lot of time in the shower."
Draco sniffed. "Everybody can not be ready only by primping their fur."
/Whatever./ Harry sniffed when Blaise said the password to open the door. "Let the cat out of the bag."
Harry stalked away, pesting at the password, the time Draco spent in the showers, and, more than once, about the uncomfortable couch of the Slytherin common room.
Charms and Transfigurations went more or less normally, with some Gryffindors staring at Harry and sometimes glaring when it seemed that Harry was more comfortable with the Slytherins than he seemed to be with them. Ron was a part of this group.
Hermione, meanwhile, was sneaking glances at Harry from the corners of her eyes, biting on her lips as if to physically restrain herself from speaking out loud. When the lunch time ring resonated in the corridors, Harry was out of the classroom like a cat out of Hell, unknowingly foiling Hermione's attempt at speaking with him.
All the students Harry passed on his way to the Great Hall stopped and stared at the skipping teen-cat who was mewling something at regular intervals, something they rightfully assumed to be 'food'.
Harry skidded to a halt in front of the doors before righting himself and bounding to his designated seat at the Slytherin table. He was still bouncing in place when seated. He frowned and stilled, glaring at the snickering students around the Great Hall. /Stupid Slytherin made me miss breakfast because of his primping! He's worse than I am!/
When all the students were seated, the food appeared, delighting the cat-boy. Harry and his new-found gift of inhaling all the food that happened to pass him by was the centre of attention of the Great Hall until a buzzing sound emanating from the Teachers' table made everyone turn in that direction.
It was pandemonium at once when the students and teachers caught sight of what was creating the buzzing. Somehow, somebody had given the Headmaster a delicate and transparent pair of bumblebee wings.
In Grimmauld Place's mansion, a line on a chart pinned on a board over a tapestry in the living room began to flash repeatedly while the board rattled. Their attention attracted by the noise, Remus and Sirius left their dinner on the kitchen table to check on the board.
"It seems like Snape was the first to complete the Trial."
"Well, he might still be caught."
"Sirius…." Remus' tone was a model of suffering patience.
"Yes, I know, I swore to James that I would make an effort to try and tolerate Snape, but really, Prongs has no taste in men…"
Remus, who had absolutely no want to discuss James' bad or good taste in men, cut him. "Anyway, let's owl Harry. I want details."
At Hogwarts, the Headmaster was standing in front of his seat and clapping his hands. "Well done, well done! Congratulations to our prankster, who will have detention for a month if he or she comes forward and admit responsibility. If nobody has come forward in a week, I will be forced to resort to collective punishment.
If nobody has come forward in one week, I will revoke the Seventh years Hogsmead privilege. A week after that, it will be the Sixth years' turn. And then the Fifth, until even the Third years will be banned from Hogsmead. It will give you more time to study."
He didn't stay to listen to the commentaries of the angered students but left the Great Hall with all the dignity one could muster when one was rigged out in a pair of gossamer wings, which are fluttering behind one's back.
Each Head of the Houses was soon assaulted by prefects from their House swearing on their House honour that none of their Housemates were responsible for the prank that had been played on the Headmaster.
The four Heads of House had commandeered the Teachers' room to discuss the situation.
"My students swore to me on our House's honour that they aren't responsible in any way for the prank." Pomona Sprout stated.
"My Ravenclaws swore the same thing. Besides, nobody would believe that one of your Hufflepuffs would be the culprit."
"And none of your Ravenclaws would endanger their academic chances."
"If you're going there, none of my Slytherins would be so direct. At least the Headmaster succeeded in uniting the school like he always wanted. Too bad it is against himself."
"Don't start Severus." Minerva McGonagall half-heartedly scolded him before sighing. "Even the Weasley twins were ready to swear an oath on their magic that they had nothing to do with this prank."
Severus shrugged. "I still have some Veritaserum."
"Let's keep that as a last resort. I'll try to mellow our Head Bumblebee." Minerva got to her feet, the corners of her mouth curling slightly upwards. "Frankly, that man is such a child. Should something like that happen to one of us, he would be the first to laugh." She shook her head as she left the room.
Her fellow professors looked at each others. "She must be very cross with the Headmaster to call him something like that, but it is appropriate, though." The tiny Charms professor remarked.
Both him and the Hufflepuff Head stood up to leave, neither noticing the miniscule smirk curling the Slytherin Head's mouth.
As they opened the door to leave, a barn owl entered the room, flying to the Potions Master. She alighted on the table and extended her leg towards the man.
Once he had taken the envelope, the owl hooted in satisfaction and took flight to land on his shoulder. With a hoot sounding like a giggle to the Potions Master, she burrowed under his hair until she reached his collar, where she squatted and settled to wait. Severus opened the note and read.
'Congratulations, fellow Marauder!
You have successfully completed the Trial, or so the chart tells us.
Do you have an idea for a nickname? If not we could chose one for you.
By the way, we want details!
We will let you inform our dear Prongs.
Moony and Padfoot.'
Severus let himself fall back in his chair, not remembering when he had stood up. He felt dizzy. Up until now, he had half believed that it was only a prank being played on him, that he would never be accepted by the Marauders. He, the poor loner of Hogwarts, had been accepted into the rich and popular boys' club.
Shaking his head, he rebuked himself. He was not an insecure teen anymore, but a respected Potions Master. He was Head of Slytherin, a superb Occlumens, which enabled him to be the only man able to successfully spy on the darkest Dark Lord since Grindelwald!
Grinding his teeth, he stalked out of the room to his beloved dungeons. No, he did not crave recognition.
The owl, unstable, grabbed a strand of hair in her beak to stabilise herself but never left. Severus stopped and nearly swore aloud at the sight of two mutinous teens waiting for him at his door. Was his karma so bad?
Harry attacked first. /I didn't do it! Even if I wanted to! I swear!/
Severus sighed and opened his quarters. "Inside, both of you!" he ordered. Both teens slinked inside. Severus closed the door and leant against it, wondering why he didn't transform and run when he could.
He held his hand in the air, warding both teens' protest off. "All the House prefects swore on the honour of their House that none of the students have done it. Professor McGonagall is trying to mellow 'the Head Bumblebee' as she called him."
Harry snickered. Draco rolled his eyes. "I didn't know that old McGonagall had a sense of humour."
/I could have told you that./
"So could I. Besides, I am absolutely sure that no students are responsible."
"Not even the Weasley twins?"
/If they had done it, they would have said it!/
"Relax, Potter. I can honestly swear that a Marauder is responsible for the prank."
/Uh? Which one? And if they were here, why didn't they come and see me?/
Severus was hesitating on the answer to give when his fire flared green and out came Lucius. "Ah, Severus, I wanted to…" He came silent as he noticed his son and the teen cat standing to the side. "Entertaining Severus? Isn't it a bit late to have students in your quarters?"
Severus stood a few seconds in silence, wondering about his sanity. Was it normal to wish for a summon, or even to want to avada all the inconveniences standing in his quarters?
Without responding, Severus went to his alcohol cabinet, took two bottles out of it, poured himself some of each bottle in a glass, turned the mix with a spoon for a few seconds and downed the glass before pouring himself another one, which he drank slowly, his eyes closed.
He opened his eyes once he had finished the glass and blurted "Damn, you're all still there."
Lucius chuckled and went to pour himself a glass of the same cocktail as he rather liked it since Severus had introduced him to it two decades ago. Rummaging about in the cabinet, Lucius smirked when he found a small jar. He opened it and sniffed at the contents. Satisfied, he smiled thinly and delicately fished something between two fingers. He was turning to add the little green oval thing to his drink when he was bowled over by an excited teen-cat.
Lucius sprawled inelegantly on the floor, rattling the cabinet while the olive container went flying the other way. It didn't fly long as it was expertedly caught by a delighted Harry who rapidly upended the jar over his mouth. Once he had all the olives in his mouth, he munched happily and swallowed.
Once he was done with the olives, he blocked the jar between his paws and licked it clean as best as he could. Lucius, meanwhile, had gotten back to his feet and was shaking his head to clear it.
Harry's head swivelled at the sound of movement. His nose wrinkled and he let the jar fall to the floor where it shattered.
Harry, purring, squatted to the floor, low on his belly. He crawled towards Lucius, his tail parallel to his back, its tip gently swaying from side to side.
He stopped a few inches from the stunned man. Extending his neck, he gently grabbed the olive Lucius was somehow still holding between his front teeth. He quickly gobbled it down, shivering in ecstasy, before redoubling his purring. His nimble tongue began to lick off all traces of olive juices from Lucius' fingers.
Blocking Lucius' wrist between his paws, claws pricked just enough to warn Lucius against inopportune movement, Harry continued his pursuit of olive juices.
Draco, staring in morbid fascination jumped, startled, when Severus shouted "Lucius, you stupid…. Slytherin! Don't you know anything?"
Lucius arched an eyebrow at the agitated godfather of his son before tensing slightly as Harry added delicate nibbles to his licking. He couldn't stop a deep sigh from escaping his lips.
Draco slapped a hand on the side of his face. "Father never had an interest in cats. Too Gryffindorish." He informed his slightly swaying godfather. He, of course, had researched the subject once his House had been tasked with the care of the teen-cat. He knew that a great majority of domestic cats could not resist olives. Apparently, neither could Harry Cat Potter. He frowned and took a good look at his godfather. He sighed when the state his godfather was in sank in fully.
He turned to his father and rolled his eyes at his flushed cheeks and short breath. He looked at Harry, who was slightly sucking on Lucius' index. He didn't look amenable to being separated from his new toy, and Draco didn't want to risk being mauled by an unhappy teen-cat who had been separated from the last molecules of olive in the room. That his father, Lucius Malfoy, was the one wearing those olives molecules on his skin was unsubstantial.
Draco sighed again. He felt like the only adult in charge of a dissipated trio of five years olds. He prayed that Harry would limit molesting his father to his fingers during the time he would be gone. He winced when he noticed that his father's unoccupied hand was raking through Harry's hair. With a decided shake of his head, Draco went to tackle Severus first.
Striding to his godfather, he grabbed him by the wrist and tugged him into his bedroom. Once there, he pushed him until the professor was sitting on his bed. Draco pointed his wand at the man's boots.
Severus blinked at his bootless feet. He wriggled his toes and the blinked up at Draco.
"Lightweight." Draco mumbled and the spelled the man's robes off and to a nearby chair.
Severus blinked at his robes, and stared at Draco until, getting his professor's drift, Draco spelled the robes folded. He then crossed his arms as he witnessed his godfather's failed attempts to stand up. Draco bit back a shriek as some of his godfather's hair moved on its own volition. He sighed when an owl passed its head through the parted hair.
He was taken aback when both the owl and his godfather blinked at him in unison. He chose to address the owl. "Don't let him leave the bed until he's sober." He ordered the bird who hooted sharply.
He left the room, shaking his head and mumbling "I've spent way too much time with Potter recently."
He did shriek when he reached the sitting room, but neither Harry nor Lucius deigned to look at him, as they were both lost in their own little personal world.
They had moved to the couch where Harry was sprawled over Lucius and, while Harry was worshipping Lucius' neck, Lucius' hands were carding through Harry's hair and caressing his back.
Draco bit his lips, torn. He could throw in the towel, wash his hands off this entire story and leave Potter to his shenanigans, even stay to collect blackmail material, both on his father and Potter. It was the easy way, the Slytherin way.
So why did he only gave it some thought for a few seconds before resorting to the tried method of upturning a bucket of cold water over the couple laying on the couch? Well, at least this way he would be able to answer a question that had been bugging him for a while. That is to finally find out if it was possible to take photographs in a pensieve. Because if it was possible, he had a few memories that would make first rate blackmail material.
Like now, with the way Harry yowled and jumped, clawing his way up a tapestry and squeezing himself on the top of a bookshelf. Or the way his father sat on the couch, his hair plastered to his face and neck, blinking as if he couldn't even begin to decipher how he had ended in this situation.
Draco turned to look in the direction of the top of the bookshelf where Harry was. He couldn't clearly see the cat-boy because of the dim light but he could hear him mumbling clear enough. Knowing how cats felt about being doused with water, Draco knew he was not on Harry's good list right now. Knowing Harry like he did, Draco was sure he now ranked a tiny bit under Pettigrew on Potter's list of 'people I hate'. No help from him then when Draco had to tackle his father. Better not count on Severus either… But Draco would feel better with somebody, like an adult, at his back when he told his father that he had out-stayed his welcome, considering that the man was as dangerous as a besieged asp on his best days. And with what Draco had done, his threat level would probably be updated from asp to rattled rattlesnake.
Draco slowly and carefully, so as to not startle his father out of the trance he seemed to be in, went to collect a pinch of floo powder from the container on the chimney.
With a quick glance to assure himself that nothing had changed, Draco did the only sensible thing he could think of. He floo called the two Marauders residing in Grimmauld place in a whisper.
After some urgently whispered explanations to a somewhat surprised Sirius, Draco breathed a sigh of relief when both him and the werewolf stepped out of the floo.
Remus immediately went to stand behind the seated Lucius, ready to physically restrain the blond wizard if need be.
While Draco was sent to check on a probably sleeping Severus, Sirius began the daunting task of getting Harry back on the floor. He grinned as he spied two weary green eyes glowing on the top of the shelf.
"So Harry, did you know that Snape was the first one to complete the Trial? I really want details. And possibly a photo or two. We'll need your input to find him a nickname. Well, yours and the blond whelp's." He paused and decided against asking explanations about the dishevelled and out of order blonde Slytherin seating on the couch. That would not make Harry come down, quite the contrary. He would have to settle on a later time to sate his curiosity. Damned unhelpful Slytherin teenagers!
"You'll have to come down, I can't hear you from there!"
A pouting silence was his only answer. "We'll even make sure the blond whelp behave. No more throwing water at you. He'd better, since he was the one to call us here."
The silence turned disbelieving. /Whelp? You're claiming him?/ Sirius shrugged "I can't understand you, Harry." He smirked and pulled a container out of his robes. He opened it, waving it a bit around to make sure the smell of its contents would waft up to Harry's nose. Harry's back paws had barely made contact with the floor that Harry was already wrenching the container out of an amused Sirius' hand.
With a disdainful sniff at his chuckling godfather, Harry went to eat his smoked salmon on the rug in front of the fire.
Lucius jumped a little when he felt two warm hands land on his shoulders. Remus leant over the back of the couch to murmur in his ear. "Unless you want to incur Sirius' wrath, I would suggest leaving before he realise just why we were called here."
After a few seconds to cast a drying charm on himself, Lucius shrugged Remus' hands off and strode to the floo. Before he left, he couldn't help the quick rubbing of Harry's left ear.
Draco, who had poked his head past the door to see how things were going, couldn't believe his eyes. His father had left, without bloodshed, which was a plus, but he had done what, for him, amounted to a public demonstration of affection. Draco felt dizzy. And all after a few words from the Gryffindor werewolf. Draco felt something akin to admiration grow in his chest towards Remus Lupin. Before slightly panicking. He, a pureblood, was admiring a werewolf! A Gryffindor one at that!
His panic deepened when he saw the expectant look on the escaped convict's face and realised that he would have to be the one to explain what he had stumbled upon to the two overprotective godfathers of one Harry Potter. If they didn't kill him, the light siders would queue for the privilege to have a go at him for letting the Saviour of the wizarding world being sullied by a Death Eater old enough to be his father.
And where was his godfather during his time of need? Sleeping his vodkatini over-indulgence, that's where! His panic attack was progressing nicely before being cut short by Remus Lupin shaking him by the shoulders. Draco cocked his head. When had he crossed the room?
"I'm not a Gryffindor." The Slytherin blurted.
Remus quirked an eyebrow in wonderment before he nodded in understanding. He squeezed Draco's shoulders before releasing him. "Don't worry. You've done good." He reassured the teenager. "I'll protect you from the big bad dog." He added with a smirk.
Draco went to sit on the couch and weakly sneered at Harry who had the audacity to fall asleep curled on the rug in front of the fire after starting this whole mess. Remus and Sirius sat in chairs in front of the couch.
Both smiled when Draco retold Severus' prank at dinner. Once he had related the Headmaster's threat on the students' Hogsmeade privileges, Sirius jumped to his feet and began to pace, raking his hands in his hair and cursing the Headmaster. He ended by nearly wailing "He's attacking one of the only things worth going to Hogwarts for, apart from Hogwarts itself!"
Remus shook his head, smirking a little. Trust Sirius to focus on the important part… He tugged the agitated man back into his chair by his shirt sleeve. The Headmaster was in for some interesting times in the more or less near future.
Draco gulped and reluctantly forged on once he noticed that Remus still had a sure grip on the quick to anger man's shirt sleeve.
"Harry and I came to Severus' quarters to see if perhaps he could convince the Headmaster to rethink his decision."
Both Marauders nodded.
"A few minutes after we had arrived, my father flooed in just after Severus had assured us that a Marauder was responsible for the prank played on the Headmaster. He went to have a glass or two of vodkatini, my father went to join him. Everything went well until my father opened a can of olives."
Hearing one of his favourite words, Harry more or less sat up, mewled /Where?/ before sprawling back on the rug and continuing to sleep.
Draco rushed to finish. "Harry rushed to my father, it sent the can flying. Harry caught it, ate all of them, apart from the one my father was still holding. Then he went after that one too, and licked the juices. And then I went and put uncle Severus to bed.
When I came back, I found both Harry and my father on the couch so I doused them with water, which lead to the situation I called you about." Draco had spoken so quickly he spent the next few seconds catching his breath.
"What?" Sirius roared, somehow waking neither Severus nor Harry up. He was beginning to stand up, but fortunately, Remus' hold on his shirt sleeve still held. Draco idly wondered that Sirius' shirt was made of good, solid material. He jumped a little when Sirius addressed him "And you couldn't stop them?"
Draco gulped. Remus saved him another time. He slapped Sirius over the head with his free hand. "In case it escaped your notice, he did stop them. Or did you already forget where each of them was when we arrived?" He turned to the petrified Draco with a small smile. "Go back to your House. I'll deal with all the growling and raging."
Draco didn't need to be told twice. As he was closing the door to his godfather's quarters, he heard his cousin ask "Moony, do you remember the incantation of the chastity belt spell?" He chuckled and shook his head softly, idly wondering on which wizard Black intended to use the curse.
When Lucius Malfoy arrived home, it was to discover the somewhat disagreeable spectacle of his wife dressed in a provocative outfit. As soon as she saw him, she cooed and went to paw at him, trying to seduce him into revealing what he intended to offer her on her birthday, and possibly enlarge her gift.
Lucius grabbed her wandering hands and held her at arms' length. "Are you drunk?" he asked her.
"No, just curious. Can't I have even a little clue?"
Lucius shook his head. "No, I don't want to give the surprise away." 'Especially since I still don't know what I'll be offering you.' He thought. Aloud, he added "Now leave me alone, I still have some work to do."
Narcissa pouted "You can't blame a witch for trying." Before transfiguring her clothing into some more conservative attire and stepping outside of the foyer.
Lucius strode to his office. Atop his desk, he found a thick envelope without any marking he could see on. He took his outer robe off and draped it atop the sofa, before settling in the comfortable chair behind the desk. He opened the drawer on his left and took his letter opener out, putting it on the desk top.
Once he had scanned the letter to make sure it was innocuous enough, he slid the letter opener under the envelope's edge. Four smaller envelopes slipped out of the first one when he upended it over the desk top. Frowning, Lucius scanned those as well before opening each one of them in the order they were numbered in.
His frown deepened when all he could find in the envelopes were lists. He settled each list under its corresponding envelope and studied them in turn. He finally reached for the first and biggest envelope and shook it slightly over his desk top.
A single piece of parchment fluttered on the desk. He grabbed it and read the two first sentences written on it.
'Each of those envelopes contains a list of what I'll need for each project. Either you chose by chance now and send me the corresponding material, or send me all the items listed on all the lists and chose once the projects are finished.
A line had been added, in a different penmanship, under the signature.
'Send whatever you'll do with one of your House elves, instruct it to get it to me.
Lucius blinked, a bit taken aback at the second signature. He authorised himself a little smirk once he realised who it was. 'Hairless indeed.'
He called a House elf and gave him all the lists, instructing him to buy all the objects noted on the lists and to deliver them to Rabastan Lestrange, in the Lestrange mansion, as well as James' prior requirement.
James had locked himself in the lab as soon as he had been informed of the arrival of all the elements he had requested. He had quickly gone over the bases again, making sure that he still had the knack. As a result, there was a case full of Christmas balls and various little animals, cups and glasses.
For the next three days, he slaved on Narcissa's present, only stopping to eat and sleep when Rabastan dragged him out of the lab.
He was finally done, putting the finished gifts in their own little boxes to await Lucius' perusal and approval when Bellatrix introduced a surprising visitor in the lab.
James blinked at the Dark Lord as he took in the new décor of the former potions laboratory. He then turned to James and detailed his appearance, from the faded red bandana holding his hair out of his face and the sweat from his eyes, to the sweat soaked shirt despite the cooling charms, and the large dragon skin apron wrapped around the thin waist of the glass-worker, under which boots made of the same material were peeking. A pair of thick gloves, also made of dragon skin, was in the apron's pocket.
"I see you've been busy." The Dark Lord commented.
James beamed happily. "It's the best thing I can do, apart from spending time with Severus. And it is what I like to do."
"I've come across some old vials containing acidic potions. An unbreakable charm has been applied, but I'd like you to check them over to be sure the charm will hold. If not, can you make some other, more solid, vials, apply an unbreakable charm and transfer the potion into them?"
"Why not reapply the charm? The glass should hold, unless they're really old…"
"They are. So, can you check them?"
"Sure, have them being delivered here. Depending on how many there is, I should be done in a day or two."
The Dark Lord turned to the door and called a shivering Peter Pettigrew in. The man very carefully put a small box on the table before bowing deeply to the Dark Lord and leaving the lab with a not so discreet sigh of relief.
James went to the table, opened the drawer and retrieved his wand, which he absently tucked into the apron's pocket.
He opened the box and stared intently at he seven vials nestled inside. Once satisfied, he took each one out of its velvet nest with great care, fingered each one of them before closing his hand around it and holding it, eyes closed, for a few seconds. He then put each back and turned to the expecting Dark Lord.
"I'll still have to check more in details, like the charms but the glass itself should hold for a while, at least for the four first ones, if they are manipulated with care. I didn't like the feel of the three last ones, though."
"I'll leave you to it, then. Sent word when you're done with one of the Lestranges." He then turned on his heels and left.
James waited a few minutes to be sure he was alone before letting himself fall to the floor. He sighed deeply and held his hands in front of his eyes. He observed their trembling for a while until it calmed before smirking and commenting softly "I don't know how he does that. I'm not sure I'll survive with my nerves intact. How the Hell did he end up in Slytherin?"
He got up and fished his wand from his apron pocket before aiming it at the vials in the box. He paused for a few seconds, sniffed at the air before grimacing. "Shower first. I'll start on it tomorrow morning."
He took his apron off and draped it over the table before leaving the lab. He locked the door and ran all the way to his bathroom, not noticing the hungry eyes following him from the shadows.
The following morning, he was tying his apron, singing under his breath, when an unwelcome guest stepped in his lab.
James jumped a little when he came face to chest with a tall and big blonde man. "Who are you? What are you doing here?" he asked, stepping back a little.
The man smirked malovently and extended a hand to caress an uncomfortable James' cheek.
"Shouldn't I be the one to ask you that? It is so rare to see new faces around here, especially someone as pretty as you are."
James gaped. "I'm not pretty!" he retorted, crossing his arms on his chest and stepping out of the man's reach. "And you shouldn't be there, I've got work to do." He stepped around the large man and opened the box on the table.
James tensed to suppress a shiver of disgust when the man chuckled and stepped behind him, pushing James against the table. James elbowed him in the gut, pushed the man away from him and turned to confront him. "That's enough. The door is there, don't let it hurt you on your way out and. Do. Not. Come. Back. Ever."
"Don't be like that. Surely there's no harm done in conversing a little." The Death Eater wheedled, reaching for a vial and starting to play with it. James' eyes widened. It was one of the vials that he was sure he'd have to change.
The man began to twirl the vial he was holding. James winced and turned to the man. "Stop that! Put it on the table, quick!" he tried to convince the man, who, happy to have found a way to make his prey react, began to laugh. "Why should I? I was the one who found them. I know there's an unbreakable charm on each one of them."
James rolled his eyes. "And apparently Charms was not your best subject during your schooling. Since you don't seem to have heard about entropy."
"What's that? A charm?"
James sighed. "I'll simplify for you. The vial and the charm together compose a system. The vial is an object while the Charm is energy. Without external intervention, the system is stable, but entropy is a theory that state that as time pass, the system will react in only one way, non-reversible, which means that the energy will decrease until the charm fail. Like ice cubes thawing in a glass in a warm room. The charm will hold until enough time has passed, or the caster is dead, and thus unable to supply enough energy to sustain the charm.
And yes, even unbreakable charms need to be refreshed from time to time or else they'll fail. And the more attacks there will be against the charm, the less time it'll hold, each attack chipping away at the charm's reserve of energy.
Moreover, the glass composing the vial is now embrittled by both its age and the potion, as well as the shocks you're putting it through and could break at any time. In fact, I'm surprised it hasn't yet.
So put it carefully on the table and leave. Now."
The man sneered. "Why should I believe you? All this technical babbling could be to try and confuse me, after all."
James sighed and looked at the door where Rodolphus had stepped. "Hello, I'm a glass-worker, I'm a specialist in anything glass made. Besides, I also have a Charms Mastery…" James stopped speaking abruptly as his trained ears had heard a tiny cracking sound. He gestured Rodolphus away and plunged behind the table a few seconds before the vial broke in the Death Eater's startled face.
When the screaming stopped, James carefully peeked over the table and gagged at the grisly spectacle, happy that he had forgone breakfast this morning.
He looked up at the door when somebody softly called to him. "Louis? What happened here?"
Pale and shaking, James sidestepped the horribly disfigured body and rushed into Rodolphus' open embrace.
In a faint voice, he asked Rodolphus "Why did he refuse to listen to me?"
Rodolphus answered in a murmur "I don't know. He was stupid."
James gulped convulsively "I need Sev." He sniffled before hiding his face against Rodolphus' shoulder.
The Death Eater rubbed his back before disentangling himself from a trembling James. He then, with a gentleness surprising in somebody in his line of work, tugged James away from the lab and to his room, where he left him huddled on the bed under a comforter.
As he was passing his wife on his way to his office, he quickly informed her of the last minutes of the confrontation he had overheard when the noise of the conversation coming from the lab had dragged him from his search of the missing Death Eater. He asked her to take care of the body while he went to owl Severus.