All right, I know that it's been an appallingly long time since this story was last updated. It had been a long time since I'd last had any inspiration to work on it. But I have finished chapter six, so I thought that I'd post it in case anyone wants to read it. I have a bit of chapter seven done as well, and I'm still working on it. This gives a bit more of the back story and explains a few things, such as a certain potion master's… hahem, shall we say exaggerated? actions…;)
Hopefully it fits in with the rest of the story, because it has been a long time. If you find any gaping continuity things please let me know. I reread the previous chapters when writing this, multiple times, but having read it so many times I might have missed something, or overlooked flow issues, etc…
Anyway, hope you like it. Sorry that it's been so long. And while I can't guarantee that the next chapter won't take a long time, I will promise to try and write fast…
Chapter Six: Plotting, Planning & Pranks
Room Of Requirements
"Yes," Harry said, his tone wounded. "That was an intentionally hurtful comment... Not to mention a vicious lie!"
"Are you quite done?" Draco asked with a condescending sniff. "Because we actually have quite a bit to accomplish tonight. Professor Dumbledore has already threatened to write father once. A few more days here and I don't think we'll be able to talk him out of it… considering our track record."
Harry sighed, knowing without doubt what Draco was talking about. "Once. We blew up part of a building once. Why can't you let it go?" He walked back and forth in front of the entrance to the Room of Requirements the necessary number of times and entered with Draco on his heels, doggedly continuing the conversation that had started in the hall.
Draco snorted. "Harry, I trust you in most things. This is evidenced by the myriad of dangerous and ridiculous situations that I have willingly entered into over the years. But that time you stepped over a line." He shut the door behind them.
Harry tried to look contrite and succeeded… almost. "I may have gotten a bit carried away." He flopped down in a chair that was sitting in front of a crackling fire.
"A bit," Draco agreed, joining him in a bit more dignified of a manner. "The idea itself wasn't a bad one. Professor Chambers was trying to kill you, after all. The trap was brilliant, actually. The ward stones working together with the runes to multiply his spell 10 fold and rebound it back on him… Honestly, even Professor Manhelm was impressed. He even gave us extra credit in Arithmancy."
Harry sighed. "If only he hadn't used that curse."
Draco glared at him half seriously. "If only you hadn't purposefully 'miscalculated' the proper placement of the runes, making it so that instead of multiplying it 10 fold as you said it would, it instead multiplied it 100 fold, destroying not only Professor Chambers, but the entirety of the West Wing."
Harry shrugged, a sheepish look on his face. "Well, I guess if you're going to do something, you might as well do it right?"
"Right… Whatever Potter."
"What did I say?" Harry asked, looking confused.
"Why don't we just get back to the problem at hand?" Draco asked. "Have you finished your letter to Lucius yet?"
"Yup," Harry said, pulling out a piece of parchment. He handed it to Draco. "What do you think?"
Draco quickly scanned the letter, a slight smile creeping across his face.
To The Murderous Sycophant and his simpering, idiotic wife.
There are so many things that I would like to say to you, but quite honestly, you're not worth the time or the energy. Your recent actions make it quite clear who you are and what you're willing to do for your ugly, dilapidated 'lord'.
I'm absolutely disgusted that I ever looked up to a sniveling coward like you.
Drake and I have made the decision to leave Durmstrangs and will henceforth be attending Hogwarts.
There is no need to worry about the tuition. It has been taken care of through my inheritance from my parents.
Please refrain from trying to contact either Drake or myself. We will not be accepting owl post or visits from the likes of you.
"Good," Draco said. "Short and to the point. I like it."
"Yours?" Harry asked, holding out his hand.
Draco pulled a piece of parchment out of his robe and handed it to Harry.
To 'Father' and 'Mother',
Sometimes I wish that you would have taken me at my word when I told you that in a choice between you two and Harry, Harry would win, hands down.
I don't want you to misunderstand this statement, because it's not because loosing you is tearing me apart. In fact, I find that I really don't miss either of you much at all. It's sad really, how little I liked either of you once I ceased to love you.
To get back to my point, I wish that you had taken me at my word not for your sake, or for mine, but for Harry's. It would have spared him the pain of having the people who raised him betray him.
That's all old news now, however. We stopped your stupid resurrection, though I'm sure by now you have another plan in place. We'll know about it soon enough, I'm sure.
By the way, 'Father' how's the new hand? I have to tell you that the silver is, well, trashy. Your other injuries have no doubt healed, but I can't help but hope that the creepy, misshapen Dark Lord thing is still practicing his spells on you from time to time. How strong is his Cruciatus nowadays? I'm torn. You tried to kill my brother, so I hope it hurts like hell. But then again, Harry and I want to send all of you, including that creepy, gross thing, to hell permanently, so I guess I should really be hoping that he's weak.
Such a quandary.
As I'm sure Harry told you in his letter, we won't be accepting any correspondence from you or your 'friends'. Don't bother trying to change our minds. And certainly don't come here trying to get us back. As annoying as he is, I'm sure Professor Black would be happy to invoke A-237-58 of Wizarding law (i.e: protection of (a) minor(s) from Mortal Peril by an alternate family member, in the event that a current family member or an associate of said family member were to present undue threat to the health or wellbeing of said minor(s)) for us and take us under his protection as Head of the Family Black. I am also sure that the Wizengamut would count You Know Who as an adequate 'undue' threat.
In a public hearing.
That's really all I have left to say to you.
Except, I hope you burn in hell.
Your 'son' (at least until you've had time to disinherit me)
Harry snorted. "Don't hold back Drake. Tell them how you really feel."
"Too much?" Draco asked.
"Maybe, but we can't afford to be subtle when it comes to Lucius. It's wasted on the man."
"You're right," Draco said, shaking his head sadly. "He just wouldn't get it."
"Shall I send them along then?"
Draco nodded. "Just make sure Orion does a drop and fly. You know how daddy-dearest gets when he's in a snit."
Harry paled slightly at the thought of his familiar being taken out by Lucius in a bit of misplaced pique. "Good idea, Drake."
Draco shrugged. "We'll hear from him soon enough through other avenues. No need to leave Orion in harm's way."
Harry nodded, remaining silent for a moment before sighing softly. "So, on to our next problem, then?"
"Sure," Draco said, taking his letter back from Harry and rolling the two together. He tied a string around them before handing them both back to Harry. "What are we going to do about dear cousin Sirius?"
Harry shrugged. "Prank him?"
Draco laughed. "Oh, he'd love that. Something to do with Great Grandmother Black?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "That would scare the crap out of him. Raised by Lucius, influenced by Mamie Black. He'll be convinced we're up to something nefarious for sure."
"But at least if he thinks we're following Great Grandmother Black." Harry caught the slight inflection and snorted. That was Draco, still trying to instill some propriety in him. The woman asked him to call her Mamie Black, so be damned if that wasn't what he was going to call her. "He'll think that we can't possibly be following Voldemort."
"Maybe then he'd relax a bit," Harry grumbled darkly. "Isn't he supposed to be the fun, carefree one?"
Draco shrugged. "You know Azkaban is hard on a person, right Harry? Tends to suck a bit of the fun and carefree out of a bloke?"
Harry's expression turned pensive. "I suppose… Maybe I should cut him a bit of a break… After we prank him."
"Just no…" Draco stopped as Harry glared at him. "What?"
"If I promise not to blow anything up, will you shut the hell up about it?"
Draco shrugged. "Maybe."
Harry sighed. "I like blowing things up," he said, his voice taking on a slightly petulant lilt.
Draco grinned. "I know you do."
"You used to like blowing things up too," Harry grumbled. "In fact, I seem to remember you using some of my stash of exploding potion to blow up my girl… Pansy's cauldron."
"I do still like blowing things up…" Draco said resignedly. "I just don't know if that's the impression we want to make here. And don't think I missed that slip, Potter. If she's your girlfriend, why don't you just admit it?"
"Because things are complicated, Drake. I…" He sighed. "It's Pansy. I think that you know the complications that exist there."
"Harry, none of that is going to matter."
"You're betrothed, Draco. As in… betrothed!"
"And neither of us want to be." Draco shuddered slightly. "It would be like marrying my sister. Or just as bad, my brother's soul mate."
Harry raised his eyebrows. "Soul mate?"
Draco sighed. "You know what I mean. You and Pansy just... click. Always have."
"But soul mate, Drake? Really? I think I just threw up a little…"
"You're lucky you're my brother, Potter. You know that? Because right now, I almost hate you."
Harry snorted. "Moving on?"
Draco nodded. "Snape."
Harry frowned. "Snape. Now there is a problem. I can't quite get a read on the man. Dumbledore trusts him, but so does Lucius. He was a complete arse in Potions…"
"But seemed completely surprised not only by my reaction, but also by the fact that we not only hate Lucius but that something happened to him over the summer. He's not really in the loop right now. At least not the Death Eater loop… Which is very interesting."
"Shelve it?" Harry asked.
Draco nodded. "Continue to observe and collect information. We'll decide what to do when more information has been gathered."
"Agreed. Anything else?"
Draco looked pensive for a moment. "About Pansy…"
Harry scowled. "It would cause problems for her, Drake. I don't care what they say about me, but if the pureblood families knew she was betraying a betrothal…"
Draco scowled back at him. "We care what the pureblood families say?"
"I care what her parents might do if they heard what the pureblood families would say."
"Right," Draco said, considering that carefully. "Can I just say I'm sick of that kind of nonsense? Forget anything fancy involving Great Grandmother Black. It would take too long to set up. We need to get that prank done on dear cousin Sirius now."
Harry was confused by the sudden change in direction of the conversation. "Why?"
"Forget threatening father with getting the mutt to invoke an A-237-58 of Wizarding law. I'm bloody well going to have him do it once you've forgiven him for being a prat… though why you expected more from an impetuous Gryffindor I'll never know!"
"Your point, Draco," Harry practically growled.
"If his guardianship is approved, then he can get that ridiculous betrothal rescinded. As for Pansy's family, well, once the betrothal has been rescinded, they'll just have to accept the two of you together or suffer the consequences."
Harry's eyebrows shot up. "Consequences?"
"Well, death is a pretty serious consequence, wouldn't you say? I have no problem with hexing the lot of them to hell if it means you two get to be together."
Harry snorted. "Might be a bit extreme, Drake. Let's see how things play out first, yes?"
Draco shrugged. "Whatever."
"Besides, I thought that the whole idea of Pansy and me disturbed you to no end?"
Draco frowned. "It really kind of does. But what was annoying was the fact that there was obviously something going on and you didn't seem to want to tell me what it was and I couldn't annoy it out of her. I knew that the two of you had feelings for each other and wanted to be together. And it's disturbing because you're my brother and she's like my sister… gives me a little shudder. But mostly I was annoyed that you wouldn't tell me anything other than that it was complicated… And because it's creepy."
Harry made a sound halfway between a laugh and a sigh. "And I thought that it was obvious why it was complicated. And why I would never be seen with her publicly as anything but friends while the two of you were still betrothed. I knew that you didn't want to marry her, but I would never embarrass you in that manner."
Draco snorted. "I think my pureblood mentalities would survive the blow, since I don't give a shite about them anymore."
"Pansy has the same attitude about things, actually. She's annoyed that I want to protect her by hiding what we feel, but I convinced her to try to be subtle around those we can't trust. For now anyway."
Draco laughed. Like that would last. Even the densest Gryffindor probably had an idea that there was something going on there. He just hoped that they could have the betrothal reversed before Pansy did something drastic… like snog Harry in the Great Hall.
They both started as Dobby appeared before them with a slight pop. Even more so when he frowned at them disapprovingly.
"Dobby?" Draco asked.
"Curfew," Dobby said, tapping his foot impatiently.
"Crap!" Harry exclaimed, glancing down at his watch. "Five minutes, Drake. Better hurry."
Draco nodded and the two of them jumped to their feet, throwing hasty goodnights at each other and Dobby and they raced off in the directions of their respective houses.
The visit that he had been expecting came not long after Sirius and Remus had left him alone with his thoughts. Snape entered at his summons and took a seat in the chair across from him.
"So," the Potions Master said slowly. "Was their reaction as you expected?"
Dumbledore sighed, removing his spectacles to polish them absentmindedly. "I have already learned not to expect anything when it comes to Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. And you?"
"I feel that we have walked into their plans in a rather embarrassingly clumsy manner."
Dumbledore replaced his spectacles and studied his Potions Master for a moment. "Explain, please."
"I thought about this for hours after that disastrous class, Albus. And do you know what I realized? I baited them in a rather disgusting manner and in response they let me see only what they wanted me to see. They are very protective of each other. That I believe wholeheartedly. They hate Lucius, the Dark Lord and anyone associated with them. That, I also believe. As for their plans? What they hope to accomplish here? I have no idea. They seem rather disturbingly free with their thoughts on various matters, but I feel like it's all quite… calculated. What I do know for absolute sure is that I am going to hastily revise my behavior towards them both immediately."
Dumbledore raised his eyebrow questioningly. "Really?"
"It was quite clear from my conversation with Mr. Malfoy that not only does he detest anything Death Eater, but that Lucius has been keeping me in the dark about a great many things. It was easy for him to keep Harry's presence at Malfoy Manor a secret from me. All Lucius had to do was not mention it and the charm did the rest. I could have had tea with the boy and I wouldn't have realized who he was. Keeping that scheme as quiet as possible is also to be expected, especially with me working here. But to keep the fact that something major to 'our' cause happened and that Lucius was injured, from the sounds of things, seriously, is a major concern. Because I haven't heard a word about it."
"You are worried about your place in the inner fold?"
"I'd prefer to keep my head, Albus. My instincts are screaming at me that there is no more information to be gathered from that avenue and to continue to play spy would be reckless, not to mention useless. As would allowing Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy to continue to see me as nothing more than a toady to Voldemort."
"They're students Severus. Fifth-year students."
"Indeed they are, Albus."
"They make you nervous," Dumbledore stated in shock. "Fifth-years!?"
"I called Professor Dawling on the floo."
"Oh?" Dumbledore said, a twinkle lighting up his eyes for the first time since Harry had stormed out of his office. "And how is.. Diana?"
Snape scowled, but ignored what he knew the Headmaster wasn't saying. "Annoyed that her two best students didn't show up this year because they decided to come here. Tired of listening to Lucius throwing fits because no one was able to tell him where they went. Full of interesting information about destroyed castle wings."
Dumbledore's eyebrows made a concerning leap upwards, as if trying to disappear into his hair. "Ah… destroyed castle wings?" He asked slowly.
"Apparently, despite all outward appearances, Lucius was working towards destroying Potter for Voldemort even as he raised the boy as his son."
"And as Draco's brother," Dumbledore added thoughtfully.
"Indeed," Snape concurred, nodding as he continued. "There were several attempts on Potter's life while he was at Durmstrangs. Exactly when he and Draco determined that Lucius was a part of the schemes is uncertain. But their Dark Arts Professor was one of the agents sent in. Last year he attempted to kill the boy, only to find himself within a rather impressive… and unfortunately for him, deadly, trap. Using a mixture of Ancient Runes and Arithmancy, with some very difficult Arithmancy calculations I might add, Potter managed to use the Castle's own defenses to rebound Professor Chambers curse back on him… Due to a slight," Snape coughed slightly. "Miscalculation, there was apparently quite the explosion. The only person hurt was the good Professor, who did not manage to survive the blast. Unfortunately, the West Wing didn't fare much better."
"You find him impressive."
"I find them both rather impressive, actually. According to Professor Dawling Harry gets top marks in Dark Arts, Ancient Runes and Arithmancy, while Draco is a deft hand at potions and is extremely gifted in both Charms and Transfiguration. Also mentioned was that neither is exactly a slouch in the others specialties. They each allow for the others brilliance in certain avenues, using those strengths to full advantage."
Dumbledore wasn't sure he liked where this was going. Not if there was something to fear from the boys. "You choose not to oppose them? Regardless of their plans?"
"I choose to make sure that I don't become their enemy before determining what their plans are. I have no wish to oppose them so long as they have no wish to aid Voldemort. And I suggest that you proceed likewise."
"I never expected such logic in the face of James Potter's son."
"I never expected James Potter to have such a Slytherin son." Snape sighed. "I'm tired, Albus. And this war, maybe it's no longer ours to try to control. The boy is the only one who can defeat Voldemort. Maybe fate wishes us to continue as guides, not soldiers."
There was silence as Dumbledore processed this. It was several moments before he spoke. "You've given me a great deal to think about, Severus. I apologize if my meddling makes things hard for you."
Snape sighed again. "There was no one else you could use for this particular test, Headmaster… As there are no other Death Eaters on staff. I concede it's necessity, but decline from any future displays of the like."
"Understood," Professor Dumbledore said. He smiled suddenly. "Oh and be sure to tell Diana hello from me the next time you speak with her."
Snape scowled. "Professor Dawling is a bit vexed with me at the moment, Albus, as we have stolen her two favorite students. But if she deigns to speak with me in the future, I will be sure to do so."
"Headmaster," Snape said, nodding his head in Dumbledore's direction before leaving the room.
Albus watched the door long after it had closed behind the Potions Master.
Severus Snape, unhinged by fifth-years. He never thought that he'd see the day. Yes indeed. He had much to think about.
Including what would happen when the fifth year Slytherins and Gryffindors had their first Defense class in the morning.
He just hoped nothing exploded.
Sirius Black was perturbed.
And quite annoyed that he wasn't able to allow himself to show it.
As Moony had been quick to remind him, he was a Hogwarts Professor now. And as a Professor he had to act in a professional manner towards all students.
Even the godson who refused to speak with him.
He'd been waiting for this moment for fourteen years. Lived in fear for the past few years after discovering that Harry had never arrived at Hogwarts. Terrified when he found that even the great Albus Dumbledore had no idea what had happened to him.
And what did he get?
A Malfoy raised Harry who might hate him.
He didn't even care if the boy was dark, so long as he didn't hate him.
Well, maybe that was a slight exaggeration, but even the thought of James' son hating him was enough to turn Sirius' stomach into a solid mass of knots.
"No expectations," he muttered. "Just get to know him. Don't push." Damn Moony and his logic.
No, not really. Damn himself and his obsessive need to get to know James and Lily's son. His obsessive need for the boy to like him.
He'd failed his friends once.
He couldn't stand the idea of failing them again.
But those were his hang ups. His friends were gone and what they might or might not have wanted for their son didn't matter any more. The Malfoy kid was right about that.
What mattered was getting to know Harry as he was, not who he might have been.
He'd chosen Gryffindor and had professed a hatred for Voldemort. That was enough for now.
He forced his thoughts in a different direction as the door to the classroom opened and the fifth-year Slytherins and Gryffindors started to trickle in. Harry entered with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, leading them to the middle of the classroom. Once everyone had arrived, Sirius was interested to note that Harry and Draco sat next to each other, Gryffindors to one side, Slytherins to the other.
They were united.
Would the houses follow their lead?
And to what end?
His thoughts were interrupted as a smattering of laughter began to spread, quickly turning in to a raucous amount of amusement. He looked down at himself in surprise, feeling a sudden draught.
"Huh," he muttered, somewhat surprised to find himself in front of a bunch of fifth-years in nothing but his skivvies, but he'd had this dream before…
He calmly pinched his arm and was surprised to find that he didn't wake up.
The second pinch was a bit more substantial and brought with it the knowledge that this most definitely not a dream.
"Bloody…" He started, stopping as a fresh snort of laughter came from the center of the classroom. He narrowed his eyes in the direction of the very boy that had been consuming his thoughts before class started.
And was shocked by the slow wink that the boy aimed in his direction.
'Well, damn,' was the only thought that he could manage for a moment. His next thought was a bit more practical.
"Accio robes!" He growled, not letting the considerable amusement he now felt show in the least.
A good sign, that.
The Marauders always pranked to show both ire and forgiveness. He felt that this was probably a bit more of ire, but was encouraging nonetheless.
'Besides,' he thought, looking around at the other amused faces in the room, settling on the dancing brown eyes of Ron Weasley's girlfriend. 'Maybe this would be sufficiently embarrassing and Hermione would finally forgive him.'
He grabbed the spare robes that came flying into his hand from his office behind him and hastily put them on.
"Now that the comedians have had a good go at me," he said, continuing to growl. "Maybe we can learn something."