Disclaimer: No maaaaaaaan's land.

this story's getting old
a homebreaker with a heart of gold
keep you locked up in the trunk of my mind
k-k-keep talking
keep this alive
this story's getting old
a homebreaker with a heart of gold
keep you locked up in the trunk of my mind n-n-now-oh-oh-oh.

- Snitches and Talkers Get Stitches and Walkers - Fall Out Boy

vive l'aristocracy


Lucius bared his teeth slightly as Draco cracked an eye open, immediately warning the younger Malfoy that he was still dangerous.

"Father," Draco said, almost idly, as though he hadn't just woken up from one of the most terrifying dreams in his life. He took a moment to think about that, and then shuddered slightly; it hadn't been a dream. Rabastan was here, he was dying, and Harry was going to be the next Dark Lord. It would be funnier if it weren't true.

"Draco," Lucius replied, equally cordial. "I trust Tynan has informed you of what is taking place around the castle?"

"Enough so that my plots to escape have been delayed, unfortunately."

"Clever," Lucius said dryly. "And what, my son, did you think of your mate's future?"

Draco stiffened, and narrowed his eyes. "What do you think of yours, Father?"

"What are you talking about?" The reply came a little too quickly, and Draco smirked inwardly; he had touched a sensitive subject.

"You know exactly what I'm talking about, and I wish you'd just let it out." Draco sat up, wincing a little. "What did you do to Mother? And why? She's not dead, I know that for sure now."

Lucius scowled. "You ask too many questions."

"But you're going to answer them."

For a moment, Draco fancied maybe Lucius was going to kill him, but then the elder Malfoy merely smirked. "Very well, Draco. I didn't kill your mother. I couldn't bring myself to, unfortunately, but Tynan understood. So we tortured her instead."

Any last vestiges of hope left that maybe his father had loved his mother were ripped from Draco in an instant. "What did you say?" he said, finding sudden difficulty in swallowing.

Lucius picked at a stray thread on the couch. "I said, we tortured her. Nothing too great, you understand, but it was enough. You see, Draco, I used to love your mother. So much, that it still pains me now, which is why I couldn't kill her. But she didn't love me." Here his voice turned into a snarl.

"She only married me because she had to, and at first, I respected that, but I soon grew to resent it. I saw her longing after another man; he wanted her too. Listen to me carefully, Draco, your mother was good for nothing. She tried to run away to this man, but I found her, and I chained her to me. What I did at the beginning of your school year was what I've been wanting to do for ages now."

Draco's hands were balled into fists, so tightly that he drew blood on them. As the warm liquid trickled down his fingers, a pain began to build up in his chest. For this whole journey, he'd never once felt so terribly as he did now, but everything was managing to sink in at once. His father hated him. His mate hated him. His mother was dead to him forever.

"You—you said you didn't kill her," he started shakily, taking a deep breath.

"Ah," Lucius said, cold eyes turning to his son. "I didn't, because where you have failed me, Draco, she has given me another chance to succeed in this world."

Draco didn't understand; he lifted his head and stared at his father—no, this man who had taken away so much from him. "What—" he started, and then suddenly comprehension dawned on him.

Without any thought to his illness or how weak he was, Draco lunged forward, hands outstretched and fingers tingling with power as they wrapped around his father's throat. Never had he felt anger so great in his life; never had he felt the urge to murder so deeply.

"You bastard!" he shrieked. "How could you! You fucking bastard, I hope you rot in hell and that the birds pick at your eyes while you scream to your fake Lord! Remember her, dad, your younger sister!"

Lucius gazed up at him, eyes strangely cold and empty as he easily deflected all of Draco's blows and sent him a stunning hit, forcing the blond to hit the ground with an audible thud. Lucius stood up and removed invisible dirt from his cloak.

"I used to love you, once, Draco," he said quietly. "As recently as that raid on Hogwarts, but I have watched you, and you are not the son I once knew. Whether or not Tynan is more powerful than me is not your concern. You are no son to me," he said, suddenly angry. He strode out of the room, shutting the door with a soft click.

Draco was left lying on the floor, with tears prickling in his eyes and feeling like he couldn't breath as he gasped for air. He was going to die here, he realized, and no one would be the wiser. He was going to die and if Harry lived, they'd never remember him as anything more than a strategically placed dot on the color-coded horizon.

Harry touched a hand to his throbbing cheek warily. Carefully, he forced back the tears that were threatening to spill over as he turned his head to stare in disbelief at his godfather. Nestea was awake and standing, one hand over her mouth and eyes wide in shock. Harry's eyes narrowed.

"How dare you," he began, but then Sirius slapped him. Harry scowled for not interpreting the move sooner before he held up a hand.

"If you touch me," Sirius said, face no longer playful and arms crossed, "Harry Potter, I will make sure that you die the most horrible death a person can, and I will not feel bad about it in the least."

Harry stared and then shrugged indifferently. He could deal with Sirius, but now questions begging to be answered ran through his mind. He picked the first one.


Sirius smirked. "Oh, that's easy. The Veil, Harry, once it has swallowed up people, keeps them in a state of suspended animation. I was hovering between life and death while it examined me."


"It's sort of alive," Sirius said jovially. "And really evil, too. It told me that it liked my soul, and that it had sort of patched it up. The Veil wanted another one, though, to keep it company, a soul as crazy as its own malicious self. So I made a trade; give me two weeks and I'll find you someone, I said. I was planning on Voldemort, but then, who do I come across but my old friend Remus, who says that he's long gone and there's a new Dark Lord in town."

"You—" Harry frowned. "You and Remus came here?"

"It wasn't easy," Sirius continued cheerfully. "We had to go back at the end of two weeks because I was getting too weak to function outside the Veil, and I asked for another two weeks. It said okay, because, and I quote, 'the scent of great evil is upon thee'. But then we got ourselves captured."

"And you hit me," Harry said, almost disbelievingly. "Why?"

Sirius became stoic once more. "Because whatever it is you think you're doing, Harry, it's wrong. Nothing more could have your parents feel more ashamed of you than they probably are now."

A lump rose in Harry's throat before he shrugged. "They're dead, anyway. Who cares?'

Sirius stiffened visibly. "Don't speak ill of the dead, Harry," he said softly. "It's because of them that you're still alive, remember that."

"Yeah? Well, I'll remember how they left me to live with the Dursleys for most of my life as well, how about that, huh? Was that for me too?" Harry was furious now. "Being locked in the cupboard, being starved, and those occasional beatings? Of course," he said sarcastically. "How could I not see they were for my own good."

"Harry, that wasn't your parent's fault—"

"No," Harry said coldly. "It was Dumbledore's, now wasn't it? And I plan to make it up to him. He's probably going to be heading here to get me back. Instead, the only thing he'll be getting back is his head on a silver platter." His lips curved into a smirk, and Sirius rolled his eyes.

"I almost want to hit you again," he said. "And what's this I hear? Draco Malfoy is your mate?"

"Not anymore," Harry said idly. "On my birthday, which is my crowning day, I'm going to wipe all my memories of him and, at the same time, remove any attachments he might have to me with dark magic. If he hasn't already died, he will then, and I'll be watching as the new Dark Lord."

Sirius stared in barely repressed horror. There was a mad fever in Harry's eyes, one that shone with such ferocity and brightness that he had to avert his own eyes, for fear of the madness in his godson's. He suddenly regretted more than ever his time in the Veil. During his absence, Harry had grown, but in the wrong direction. What was he to do? Remus was locked in a cell, and he'd seen the other children as they watched their slow procession past their cells. He was lucky that he'd managed to slip away in the form of a dog, and that—Sirius glanced at her—the maid had let him in. She was a bit mysterious. Right now she was looking at Harry as though she both wanted to smite him with all her might and at the same time hug him tightly.

What a bunch of lunatics we are, he thought, and then turned back to Harry. "I suppose that's one of your crowning jewels," he said, referring to the necklace.

To his surprise, Harry looked down at it and shook his head. "No," the dark-haired boy said. "It's from a dream."

Harry stared intently at the necklace. It was held on a silver chain, and rested perfectly in the hollow of his collarbone. He stroked the slim silver ring and watched in fascination as it flared slightly. He wondered where it was from, and looked on the back. Engraved it on were a few words, and suddenly, Harry collapsed on the bed.

"Harry!" Sirius was at his side, dispute forgotten as he held his godson down. "Harry, calm down—Harry!"

Nestea was already gone, supposedly to get Tynan. Sirius didn't think about how much trouble he'd get in for having sneaked out, but all he could think of now was Harry, who was writhing violently and gasping for air.

"D—d—dr—" he stuttered, and then broke off as he convulsed again. Sirius grabbed the chain that dangled from his neck and looked at the innocent-looking necklace. On the back, engraved in curvy script were the words:

For Luck, For Love, For You.

When Draco awoke again, he wasn't sure how long he'd slept. His eyes were caked in sleep sand, and he wiped them furiously as he felt tears well up again. He was lying on the couch again, and this time, someone had cleaned up his injuries. He wondered if it was Nestea, and then he nearly started crying all over again.

Draco rolled over, and then stopped. Something was pressing against his neck; he dropped a hand inside of his shirt and pulled out the amulet that was mysteriously present around his neck. His eyes widened almost comically.

It was the amulet he'd given Harry for Christmas, the one that was like a mood ring. He let it fall against his neck and shivered at the cool touch. In a moment, it grew warm and an image flashed through his mind.

Harry's expression twisted, but it was wiped quickly off his face as Draco finally righted himself and tossed a pillow in his direction. The blond sat up, and rubbed a hand on his nose.

"That hurt like hell, Potter. I think I should kill you for that."

Harry rolled his eyes. "Do your worst, you juvenile excuse for a Malfoy." He started as Draco glared at him, a true one, which he hadn't seen in weeks. It was enough time for the blond to launch a pillow at him full-force, so strongly that when it hit Harry feathers spilled out from the bag and into the air.

"Look at all that bird we've wasted," Blaise said sadly, twirling a plume between his fingers. Harry snickered and pointed to both of the Slytherins.

"You could be one, with all those feathers in your hair."

"You should talk, fuzzy."

"Excuse me, these are feathers. If anything, I am downy."

Draco shook his head and collapsed onto the couch. "You two are useless. I can't believe this is what I might have been stuck doing for the rest of the school year if actual people were coming back tomorrow."

"I resent that!" Harry said, blowing irately at a feather on his nose. Draco watched his efforts in obvious amusement. Harry glowered at him. "Make one snide comment, and I swear I'll jump you—and not in the good way."

There was a moment's pause, in which Blaise conveniently positioned himself on the side of the couch as Draco cast his eyes down. Harry's triumphant grin was halfway across his face when the blond's soft retort reached his ears.

"Make me, plebeian."

Draco's lips quirked in amusement. He remembered that day very clearly. Minutes later, the Gryffindors had returned, hadn't they? The grin stayed on his face for a few more moments before fading.

His hand began to knead his forehead softly as he thought hard. How, he wondered, would he get out of here?

"Fucking serious?"

Tynan clucked. "Language, Harry, I think I taught you better than that."

But Harry was not to be reasoned with. He was sitting up in bed, with a bandage wrapped around his hand, which had been burnt somehow by the necklace.

"You seriously can't remove this?" He looked down at the necklace again, and Tynan shrugged.

"It is a Ringlink, Harry. I am surprised I am even able to look at it, with all the bad intentions flying through my mind. Probably your mate and you and exchanged it before you were—dropped into my care."

"Excellent," Harry said, leaning back. "I am stuck with a homicidal piece of jewelry around my neck that seems to have made my painful death its life mission."

"Don't mope, darling," Tynan said. "And here, now, did you feel anything else when you were convulsing."

Harry narrowed his eyes slightly. He had. It had felt like his heart was being torn apart, and he felt like he was being slammed repeatedly into a stone wall. Something told him this wasn't his pain, nor his burden, but his heart broke many times over before he could even breathe again.


Tynan stood. "Well. It's odd that you're lying to me, Harry, but I'm sure you have your reasons. If it's any matter, you've sleep for quite a while. Your birthday's tomorrow."

Harry glanced at her. "Nothing went wrong while I was asleep?"

Tynan's smile widened, and Harry shivered as she shook her head. "Nothing of great importance. We have caught a hint of—a disturbance, if you will, at the edge of the Forest, and we are allowing them to come through. After your crowning tomorrow, it will be the first thing you will take care of."

"And the prisoner?"

Tynan looked at him, and for a moment Harry fancied he saw something almost regretful in them before she shrugged. It was definitely a passing moment, because in the next she was walking fluidly towards the door.

"Whatever it is you do, Harry, it's your fault."

He marveled at the choice of words.

Nestea was seated on the edge of couch, idly summoning flowers into the air as Genevieve and Luna discussed Luna's visions. The blonde maid was listening intently. She had been, since Luna had started off and told Genevieve about every one of them.

"So we've got that there's a lot of bloodshed, we can foretell that," Genevieve said. "And, of course, something very important concerning a sword will happen. Oh, and you'll lose your hand."

Luna winced. "It could be illusory."

"No," Genevieve said, shaking her head. "This is definitely to be taken literally. It's in every one of your visions, or at least, the ones focusing on you. It's impossible that your hand won't come off, somehow."

Luna looked at her hand; the slim, pale fingers that she had never really thought of as needed, but she was already missing them. "And about you, Genevieve. Something tells me you've got a guardian angel."

"Well, yes, there is that matter," the succubus said. "What did you see again? In the most prominent vision?"

Genevieve was clinging to his leg, eyes wide and face blood-spattered, but she was otherwise untouched by the red liquid.

"You're kneeling next to Harry," Luna said, furrowing her brows. And he's laughing, like he's gone mad, and Tynan is dead and all the blood—it's coming from here, I think. The only part of you that has blood on it is your face, even though you're kneeling in the stuff."

"That's it?"

She could see the sky, the blue, blue sky, and Genevieve running through it, eyes wide and face clear of any darkness. She was blonde and wearing a pinafore, and she was holding someone's hand.

She saw herself again, reaching towards Genevieve, her comrade and her rival, and everything was a sudden, sparkling burst of yellow and blue.

Luna shook her head. "You're in the sky and sprinting—to someone—no, someone is coming to you, and then they're holding your hand. You're dressed like a little girl and you're blonde." Genevieve stiffened at this, and Luna filed the thought away for later use as the succubus waved her on, face pale. "And then I reach for you but everything explodes, in yellow and in blue."

"What's it supposed to mean, then?" Luna asked, as she sat back. There was silence, and both of them muddled through their own thoughts.

"I—I think Genevieve is going to be relinquished of her powers."

"What?" Luna turned sharply. Nestea had a hand over her mouth, as though she could hardly believe she had spoken. "What did you say?"

Nestea swallowed thickly. There was no way out it now, and she berated herself for even thinking she could solve this mess on her own.

"When—when a succubus loses their powers, they're usually given a second chance at life, right? Because they're all born that way. They're all born as dark spirits, with no choice in the matter, and because of the natural order of things if they are somehow stripped of their powers before they die, then they will be given another chance to live. From the first part of your vision—it looks like there will be no blood placed on her hands, and she will be free of the murder, but it is on her face, which could either mean she's seen too much to be innocent or that all the terrible things she's ever done are to be shown to everyone plainly.

"From the second vision, it looks like she's getting her next opportunity to live, and someone is going to give this to her and guide her through it. It's not going to be you, Mistress Luna, seeing as when you tried to help her, she was only taken further from you and all you could do was watch."

When Nestea stopped talking, she was immediately afraid that she'd gone too far. Once she'd started talking she had found it so hard to stop, because everything she had been keeping bottled up inside was pouring out, like water from a jug. Most of what she had said now was half-plots and theories, but they all seemed plausible to her, and she could tell by the look on the young ladies' faces that they were thinking the same thing. The only question was, would they punish her anyway for listening in?

"Eavesdropping is a sin," Genevieve said suddenly, voice dripping of acid. "You understand, don't you, why I must now punish you."

"Yes, Mistress," Nestea whispered, although her stomach felt as though it had just dropped out from under her, and all she could her was her blood rushing through her ears.

"Yes," Luna said. "As punishment, you must help us continue our endeavors into foretelling the meaning of these visions, and you must do whatever it takes to make sure they end up understood."

"Yes, Mistress," the maid said, and suddenly she had to blink back tears.

"Have you anything to offer on the subject of the rushing river of tears and also of the last part of Luna's vision?" Genevieve said quickly. "You remember the last part, right?"

Sunshine dappled the leaves of a forest so bright she couldn't see, and she was momentarily dazzled by the light before she saw Tynan, robed in resplendent red, wandering the woods, hands clutching the once beautiful blonde locks and eyes filled with grief.

"My life," the Malfoy heiress screamed. "My life, my life, my life!"

An ocean grew around them both, and as the tide ebbed away, so did the feeling of exhaustion.

Nestea glanced down at her lap. Her hands, which, once upon a long time ago used to be too soft to do anything, were rough and the nails had been bitten short. Tynan had her doing the tasks that could be done by hand rather than magic, and even when the baby had been on the way this had only proved as an excuse for her to use her magic sparingly. She couldn't say that what she was thinking wasn't just an act of resentment and hope, that maybe Tynan would get what was coming to her in the end, but then again there wasn't ever much that she could say about anything these days.

"I think," she said slowly, "that Mistress Malfoy will not be winning as much of this battle as she thought she would."

Harry stared at the ceiling of his room, trying his best to rest as he had been told to, but all his brain seemed to want to do was think.

Everything he had been doing for the past year was leading up to this point in time, tomorrow, his birthday, when he would have to make the choice between being the new Dark Lord or Harry Potter, savior of the wizarding world and mate of Draco Malfoy, Urian.

It wasn't fair, he thought, that no matter what position he was in people would be mad, and oh the amount of murder attempts would probably triple. He wasn't sure if that was even what was bothering him.

For as long as he had known, he had always wanted to just help people. There was no way he could help everyone, of course, because with Voldemort's death he had proved just that fact. People who had lived only to serve Voldemort would not appreciate anything they had been given, especially if it was from the great Harry Potter, who had killed their master. Sometimes Harry thought maybe, when he was younger, he had believed that when he killed Voldemort they would find everyone who had served under him would have been under a spell, and everyone would smile and be happy when they realized they were freed, and Harry could stand and be carefree and like a kid again. He pushed thoughts like that to the back of his mind, most of the time, because he wasn't naïve anymore.

But sometimes he would just sit and think.

He was already starting to regain some of his memories, and others were drifting away. Tomorrow, he would lose most of them. Only the highlights of his life would remain—the ones where he would feel the happiest, the most content, anything close to that feeling. Tynan, he knew, had spoiled him during their time together so that there would be even odds, but that wouldn't be enough.

He, as Harry, would have to decide what it was he really wanted. Because, really, when he thought about it, he wasn't so sure he wanted to be the good guy anymore. There had been so many grievances with that side, where everyone had wanted him to be something he was not and to never complain about it. That in itself should have been a warning sign, but Harry was never one to take to things quickly. He, of course, forgave and forgot more often than anyone ever had, and he should be able to take most of the understanding on the subject.

Harry scowled and turned on his side.

There was nothing easy about this, he thought. Dumbledore had always been a meddling old fool. Every movement of Harry's life had been plotted, every moment, waking and sleeping, had been another move in the old fool's plans for him, and what bothered Harry the most was, at first he hadn't minded. Sometimes, he was led to believe maybe Dumbledore had planned the death of his parents as well, maybe to raise support amongst the masses. If Voldemort was not powerful enough to kill a baby, how many supporters would Dumbledore gain then?

But this was not about him and Dumbledore, Harry knew. It was deeper than that. Tynan was using him just like Dumbledore was. Harry, she could not defeat. Harry's most precious gift was that no matter what obstacles were thrown at him, he could defeat all of them in instant, no matter what they were. He had a knack for thinking better in situations that ended up to be life or death, and as well as that, he almost always managed to get everyone else out alive. After school, he would have made a valuable captain in an Auror base, he knew. Kingsley Shacklebolt had told him so.

Harry squinted slightly. If he knew Tynan was using him, just like Dumbledore had been, then why was he still here? There was something even more than that going on here…

He thought about Draco.

Draco, who had been Harry's enemy for the first six years that he had been in the magical world. Every single Dark thing he could come up with had been stuck in that little file in the back of his mind labeled 'Malfoy and Dark Arts', and it had been that way until this year. He supposed it was because he had become more open minded over the summer that he saved Malfoy's life that day by the lake. Or maybe it had been something that was there all along that had prompted them both to do the things they did. Whatever it was, it was always causing problem for them both.

When he was Malfoy's sworn enemy, they had gotten in trouble all the time. Things were always personal wars between them no matter what, in every playing field, both on the quidditch pitch and off.

When they became lovers, it became the most complex, complicated, twisted web of lies and deceit and hatred and love and every other emotion he could think off that he was sure history had ever seen. Between family ties, rivalries, mad aunts and magical disorders, he was sure that nothing he could do would ever possible right this again.

He wondered about his mother. Lily Potter, of the auburn hair and green eyes, who had smiled so charmingly at James Potter and won him over. Lily Potter, who had given her most beloved son a second chance at life, and with it, a curse he would probably be never rid of. Harry wasn't sure which he could wish for more; her to be alive, or her to be dead and for this curse to be lifted off his shoulders, finally.

Sometimes, he hated both of his parents. Why hadn't they let him die? Then he'd be in the afterlife, whatever that was like, but with his parents and forever happy. Before he had felt guilty whenever he thought this in the darkness and safety of his bed in the Gryffindor dormitory, lying amongst the boys that had become his closest confidantes as the years had gone by. Voldemort would have taken over the world for sure by then, and then what good would that be? But it didn't matter now, he thought bitterly. If he didn't do what Voldemort had been about to, Tynan would.

Harry rolled over again. He could spend all night thinking about this and he would probably still come up with one thing. This was all his fault.

He thought about Ron, and all the defeat he had seen in the redhead's eyes. There had been betrayal, as well, and he knew that Tynan had Ron brought up every time Harry had been made to practice his new abilities.

Harry knew they had been kept down in the dungeons and he had refused every time Tynan had suggested they take a stroll down there to show off his powers. He knew they would be at the crowning the next day. There was no way Tynan would lose this chance to make sure people suffered, not ever.

And then there was Sirius, who had been like a second father for the too-short amount of time that they had spent together after they'd broken him out of Azkaban. Why couldn't he understand? If Harry rose to power, he could easily instate Sirius in a position just beneath Luna and Genevieve, and in that way they could be together again, for as long as Harry was alive. He could have even done the same with his friends, but he knew they would never agree. He wondered about Remus. The magic that was warding the entire castle and its grounds, as well as the Forest, would not permit him to transform, even if tonight was to be a full moon. He doubted that mattered to Remus, who would be relieved at this and maybe a little anxious when the change did not come.

Harry snorted softly into the pillow as he imagined Remus dancing in celebration, and then his features softened into a smile as he lay on his back again.

Oh, yes. This was going to be a tough decision indeed.

Draco opened his eyes and groaned. He had been moved, again.

He recognized this place, if vaguely, from when he had been dragged through on his way in. It was the main throne room, and, for some reason, the tables of food and all the jeering demons had disappeared, to where he wasn't sure.

He had been chained and shackled to a pillar in the very middle of the long walkway that led up to the thrones, and he felt too exhausted to even open his eyes tomorrow. He doubted if he was going to live past tomorrow.

His wings, once a dark, vibrant green, looked like a dirty black instead, and he winced as he shifted, Hunger had never hit him so great, and he wondered if this was why he kept sleeping (he refused to admit that he was fainting). He wondered if there were any strawberries in the castle, and then that brought him to musing; what was Harry's first, most favorite food?

"Harry," he called aloud, knowing the dark haired boy couldn't hear him, and not caring. "Harry, my mother is alive. Harry, Harry, Harry, my father raped her."

He was so tired, and everything was falling apart around him. He had no idea where his friends were, and he had no idea if they were alive. For all he knew, his father had gone off in a fit of murderous rage and killed his mother. He was not going to survive this ordeal, like he had all his others.

He wanted to strain against the bonds that held him, made him unable to do anything, and he wanted to stab Harry in the neck and giggle in glee as all that blood poured out of his mate's throat.

He wanted to strain against the bonds that held him, made him unable to do anything, and he wanted to drag Harry to him and kiss the boy so senseless neither of them would ever be able to breath again.

Harry was never going to pick Draco over anything else. In all of his life, he should have known that. How many times had they fought over stupid things, useless things like quidditch matches and girls and—oh, they had laughed over that—who got the shovel when they had to help Hagrid during their detentions? Harry had always gone back to his friends, migrated back into himself, and left Draco with boiling feelings that had never simmered down and never boiled over either.

Sometimes, Draco wanted to yell at Harry that everything was not fucking okay, no one was going to live happily ever after, and really, neither of them would be content with their lives after Hogwarts, because they had each become constants in the other's existence. It would be better, than, if Harry lived on and Draco died, because in that way nothing they had done would have been in vain, totally.

Draco had no doubts that everyone would eventually conform to Harry's rule. He would hide all of the darker aspects of himself until he had such absolute power that no one would question him, and then he would wreak havoc upon the earth.

The chains clanked noisily as he shifted, and Draco was thrown back into his despair once more. He could do nothing but wait until tomorrow, the inevitable, and final moment.

Tomorrow was his dying day.

In the Forest, Dumbledore spoke softly to the masses of wizards and witches gathered at his side. He had lied to Minerva to calm her down. Tomorrow would be a war, one that neither of them would have been able to stop anyway.

"We will infiltrate the fortress shortly after noon, if our calculations are correct."

"But we can't use our magic," someone called out.

"I shall be working on removing the wards," Dumbledore replied. "Severus Snape shall be helping me with that, won't you, Severus?"

The greasy-haired man scowled irritably as attention was drawn to him. Everyone had been skeptical enough about his coming here, but come on, now everyone was just going to die of doubtfulness at this rate. Leaving their precious leader behind with Snape? Never! Dumbledore's voice interrupted Snape from his musings.

"…and we will also attempt to liberate all those in the dungeons. Nymphadora Tonks will be only one allowed on this mission, as we cannot spare anyone else and her stealth will be a great asset in this part of the mission."

"What about Harry Potter, sir?"

Dumbledore stared at the man who had asked. "What about him?"

"What shall we do with him, sir?"

Dumbledore stared even harder. The man quailed under his gaze, and Snape shook his head. Trust an old man like Dumbledore to keep his wits about him when it came to the boy.

"Leave Harry to me. I doubt at this point in time any of you will even be able to scratch him, anyways."

Snape rolled his eyes.

Dumbledore just always had to have the last word.

Luna followed Genevieve as they silently made their way down the halls of the castle. It was only a few hours until midnight, and they were attempting to prove a second prophecy.

With Nestea's help, they had deciphered a final part of Luna's visions. The swords, which had been given to both her and Draco, needed to be found, and found quickly.

It didn't take long to come to the conclusion that Tynan was going to fight a losing battle, and Luna and Genevieve were not loyal to her, only Harry. It was not that hard a decision to decide that whatever they would do, they would thwart her plans and help Harry in his endeavors.

"We could be killed if we are found out, you know that, right?" Luna said.

Genevieve only nodded.

After having described the swords, Luna had been startled when Nestea had told her what they were.

The swords were the only possession of Salazar Slytherin's that the Malfoys had possessed. At least, the gleaming sword was. The other rusty sword was something that had been passed down the family for generations, although its significance had been forgotten for quite a while already.

Luna wondered about their choice. She looked down at her hand again, and flexed the fingers. The sword was going to do this to her, maybe, and here she was looking for it. Laughter burbled inside her chest and she forced it down as they stopped suddenly. She looked up and frowned.

"This isn't the lower castle," the blonde whispered.

"I know," Genevieve said softly. "Recognize this? It's Bellatrix's room. But she's not in there," the succubus added quickly as Luna stiffened. "She's with Tidget, and they're checking to make sure that Draco's still alive."

"What are we doing here?" Luna hissed irritably. She was getting a headache—she hadn't taken her potion since before the visions had started coming, and she had spent the past few days sleeping on and off. She had no idea what Genevieve had done during that time, since she'd heard Harry had done the same. Strangely, no oncoming memories were hitting her despite the absence of the magical restraint.

"We're going to get the rest of your soul back," Genevieve said, almost proudly. "See, if Bellatrix uses it against you tomorrow you could die, and we couldn't have that, now could we?"

Luna stared at her. The dark-haired girl's eyes were rimmed with kohl, like her own, but everything in them was different. They were both exact opposites; like Draco and Harry, almost. Genevieve had teased her and made her life miserable since long before Harry had arrived, and she had always been somewhat envious of the succubus, but not now. Luna wondered what sins the girl felt she had to atone for, if she was taking such a big risk, and for her rival, for that matter.

"Hello? Are we going or not?"

Life was really at its most awkward for her.

Genevieve's eyes widened in surprise as Luna wrapped her arms around the older girl, eyes closed and breathing oddly erratic.

"Thank you," Luna whispered.

Genevieve didn't say anything, only waited until Luna had calmed herself down, and then she opened the door to Bellatrix's room and slipped inside. Behind her, Luna shut it with a soft click.

The room was sparse of any decoration, save for the tapestries and portraits that had been there when the castle had been taken over. A bed with crimson hangings was situated on the west wall, and opposite it was a vanity table. There was a door next to that, presumably leading to the bathroom. Luna crept to it and opened it, looking curiously around the stale white color of the bathroom. She shivered as a breath of cold air rushed past her and shut the door quickly.

"Hurry up and let's get out of here," the Lovegood child said quietly. Genevieve was on top of the armoire, and leaning dangerously over to grab at something on top of the window ledge.

"How do you know it's there?"

"Bellatrix knows no one would dare steal from her, and besides, this is warded against any human except for Tynan and herself. I'm not human, and she doesn't care about me, which is why the last time she gave you back your soul I got to be there and watch."

"So what are you getting?" Luna asked as Genevieve snagged something and fell quickly. The succubus tumbled and sat up, looking a little woozy. In her hand was a golden and silver flask, through which one could see whorls of blue and white inside.

"This," Genevieve said, as she stood up and walked over to her friend, "is your essence. It will return you to your normal state of being, and hopefully allow you to get all of your memories back."

Luna stared as Genevieve pried her hand open and put the flask inside of it. "Drink it quickly," the succubus started, but stopped just as suddenly. Footsteps were coming, and without a second thought she grabbed Luna's hand and flew towards the window.

"Just transport out of here!" Luna told her as they scrambled onto the sill. She received an odd sense of déja vu and felt dizzy.

Harry opened his mouth to cry out and then saw Luna emerging, holding onto Genevieve's hand, both of them ignoring him and heading for the open window.

Don't jump!

"Genevieve," she began, but stopped as the succubus flung the windows open wide. They both looked down at the ground, some dizzying yards away.

"I can't—I can't transport with people," Genevieve said, swallowing thickly. They could hear voices, now. It sounded like Bellatrix and Rabastan were discussing something.

"Leave me behind," Luna said hoarsely. "Jump and go, I can make something up. Bellatrix will—she'll—she won't hurt me anymore than she has already."

Genevieve looked at her, then, eyes full of hurt. "You won't ever tell anyone what she does to you, will you, Luna Lovegood? It will never leave those lips of yours, not as long as you live."

Luna opened her mouth.

Luna stood on the windowsill and turned around to look at him, eyes clear and face hidden by her hair. "Jump," she said, and then took a grand leap.

She shivered against the wind and then turned to her friend. "I'm sorry," she said, and grabbed Genevieve's hand so as to push her. But the succubus caught on quickly, and they both wrestled for power until they heard the door opening.

"Go!" Luna hissed, but Genevieve only smiled as she stepped off the side of the building. Luna toppled forward, a silent scream leaving her mouth as she lost sight of Bellatrix's window.

"After you," Genevieve whispered.

The ground loomed up to meet them, a giant maw of dirt and leaves and grass as they tumbled through the sky.

In her room, Bellatrix Lestrange closed a window and sat on her bad.

Sirius was grinning widely as the guards threw him in the cell opposite Remus. He waved at his friend, who sighed morosely.

"Padfoot, you're killing me here," Remus said softly. His eyes were shining with worry and relief, though, which Sirius doubted was impossible when it came to Remus.

"I saw Harry," he began. "He's changed more than we ever thought."

"And he knows about the whole curse-spell?"

"Well," Sirius said, twirling straw idly through his fingers, "yes. Hey, did you know that if you make straw dolls out of this, it'll end up as a really good spell!"


"Sorry. But the point is, I don't know what we're going to do about him, Rem. And get this—he's wearing a Ringlink around his neck! But when he touched it, he started off shaking like he was having a seizure."

Remus needed only to look at Sirius's haunted eyes to know that his friend was being totally somber. "Well, it's a Ringlink. They only really work as long as the love is pure, remember?"

"This is stupid," Sirius said, sitting down on his pile of straw and looking morose. "I don't know why I ever thought I could do anything. Rem, you didn't have to sit there with me and listen to him talk. Anyone else would think he'd gone mad, but he's not mad. Everything he said was logical, it was more like he was himself but—he hadn't yet realized there was still good left in the world!"

Remus dragged a hand through his now mousy hair. "I don't know what we can do but wait, Sirius. I mean, think about it—we're locked into cells opposite of each other, none of our magic works, and I can't even transform. This won't bode well with my body afterwards, I expect."

"You'll probably go into shock," Sirius said. "Maybe when you change, you might even be in more pain than usual. This place is crap, Remus."

The werewolf leaned his head back. He couldn't see the full moon but he could definitely feel it. The wolf inside of him was bathing in the light right now, howling an baying and clawing at his soul in the hopes of getting out soon.

"What about the straw dolls, Sirius?"

Sirius glanced at him, and then shrugged. "Nothing, really. Legend says that if you make one hundred thousand of them, all identical, and you give the first one you made to someone it'll protect them in one life threatening case. The doll stays with you, although no one can see it but yourself. You cam make as many hundred thousands as you like, but it won't matter in the end if the person you're facing off against is persistent enough, and besides that the dolls are each for a different purpose."

"You read too many odd books, Sirius."

The man smiled.

At Hogwarts, McGonagall had commissioned the seventh years that were currently on probation for letting Draco and the others to leave to help her in searching for Mrs. Norris, who had disappeared. The only reason they were still hanging about after school had ended anyway was because they had wanted to, and besides, they were legally adults now.

Seamus was muttering under his breath about 'demon cats' as they followed the winding staircases down into the dungeons. Someone had said they'd seen Mrs. Norris by the Slytherin common rooms.

"I bet you she's in Filch's office right now, purring under his lap."

"Or doing more than that," said Dean, who was accompanying him. Neville was holding the lantern for them, although he seemed more frightened of their current location than the other two.

"D—do we really have to be down here?" he said softly. "Can't we just say we looked and go back to class?"

Dean and Seamus exchanged looks and grinned.

"Nah, mate," Seamus said, winking roguishly as they entered a long aisle with cells on either side. "We can't, because then that would mean we weren't doing our job right, now would it?"

Neville shivered as his eyes roamed the poorly lit and damp units. "Wasn't—wasn't Rabastan Lestrange kept in here? Before he—escaped?"

"Yeah," Dean said absentmindedly. "Look, his door's still open." He pointed to it, but Seamus was already off and running, curiosity shining in his eyes. The Irish boy stopped just outside of the room and peered in.

"Oh, mate, you've got to see this!" he cried out.

"What is it?" Dean said, looking into the surround cellblocks to make sure the stupid cat wasn't in there. Neville whimpered.

"Just come and see, this is fascinating!"

Dean rolled his eyes. If Seamus would go and use a word like that, then this must be a joke. But he walked over anyway, if only out of interest.

"What was it—" he started, and then stopped. "Damn, that Lestrange guy was one weird Death Eater."

"Yeah," Seamus said softly. He stared at the room a little longer before turning to walk away. There was nothing more in the dungeons and they let quickly, to Neville's relief.

And Rabastan Lestrange's cell, his home for months, was left in the dark. Covering the floors and his cot and hanging on the walls and piled high were straw dolls; hundreds of them. They were stuffed into the window and under the bed and, the mattress was probably filled with them too. Some had probably even been taken away with him. The amount of straw needed to make them was considerable.

It would explain the lack of straw in the other cells, though.

Luna groaned when she woke up, shaking in the cold air. She sat up with an old, practiced feeling. She winced. She really had been in too many battles for her own good. Quickly, the Ravenclaw checked herself over. She was dirty and sore, and her wrist felt as though it was nearly sprained. It was swelling already, and she hissed before quickly running her fingers over it; the perks of being Harry's concubine was an allowance of some magic, mainly healing and for entertainment values.

"Ow," a voice said, permeating the dark and startling her before she remembered.


"Hey," she called. "Are you okay?"

There was a rustling of fabric, and then the acrid taste in her mouth of the magic as Genevieve changed into something different, probably so that she could move more freely. Luna suddenly felt jealous and forced herself to stand, ignoring the dizziness, just as her friend materialized in front of her.

"We are so awesome!" Genevieve crowed, just remembering to keep her voice down. "Did you see what I did?"

She sounded like a little kid, and Luna smiled, pleasantly surprised at this new side of her. "No, I didn't. I was too busy trying to not throw up and also to hang on to—" She stopped, and her eyes widened as she dropped to the ground.

"Where's the flask?" she whispered harshly. Genevieve fell to her knees beside her and held out a hand. Luna stared before snatching the flask out of it and cradling it to her chest protectively. "How…?"

"It was next to me when I woke up," the succubus said. "I'm guessing that it either rolled over to me or I grabbed it by accident when I was aiming for your hand."

Luna looked at her, and then the flask. Carefully, she tucked it into her dress, suddenly glad for her newfound cleavage.

"Why are you blushing?"

"Shut it," Luna said heatedly. She stood up. "I won't drink it until tomorrow, in case something happens."

Genevieve looked surprised, but then she just nodded. "So now we've got the task of getting back into the castle. Hey, did you really not see what I did?"

Luna shook her head, no.

"I transported!" She held up a hand. "I know, I said I couldn't do it with anyone before. Well, I can't actually go anywhere, but I remembered how you witches and wizards Apparate, right? All I did was wait till we were as close to the ground as we could stand, and then I tried to transport myself to a spot just above it. It sort of worked, except that we fell harder and faster, which is probably why we were knocked out."

"Ouch," Luna said, but she was smiling. "Okay, so let's get back inside."

"Do you know how?"

Blue eyes held black ones appraisingly, and suddenly they were both hyper-aware of what they were doing, now and later. Luna shook her head.

"No, but I'm sure we'll figure it out."

Genevieve grinned back.

Harry was lying to himself.

He wasn't going to do anything more than check to make sure the prisoner was still there, he had said when he snuck out of his room. That had been ages ago, and so far all he'd done was stare. At what?

The silvery hair that was translucent in the moonlight, igniting a maelstrom of emotions in him and a sudden urge to run his fingers through them. He wondered briefly if this was what he should be avoiding at this point, especially considering the fact that he was now basically the new Dark Lord and it was too late to do anything anyway. But he wasn't sleeping tonight, and if he weren't here his body would lead him down to the dungeons to talk to some of his former friends, anyway. It was, he believed, the lesser of two evils.

"Damnit," he cursed in the dark, and slid onto another beam.

He was on the ceiling, reveling in what felt like his natural habitat. Catlike, he stretched out and dropped quickly, turning in time to stop himself from breaking a leg or something worse. He barely made any noise, and no magic was involved. He supposed that if he had never joined Tynan, it would have taken a while but he still would have been able to do something like this.

Carefully, still on all fours, he approached the huddled form that was tied to the pillar. It was odd, now, being alone in the room that, for as long as he had known it, had been laced with bad intentions and raucous partying and laughter. Odd, indeed.

He was letting his breath ghost all over Draco's face, letting their noses bump as he contemplated the boy in front of him. He snorted lightly at the wings; what did he think he was, some sort of fallen angel? Although—he did fit the description perfectly. Harry lifted a finger and traced it down a pale cheek.

"I know you're awake," he said, quietly. "So open your eyes."

There was no movement.

Harry leaned forward and pressed his lips to the pale, cold ones. Instantly, an electric spark went through the both of them, and there was a thrum of magic. Doubtless, anyone with honed abilities in the castle would have felt that. Harry grimaced as he pulled away and cursed under his breath.

"Couldn't resist?"

The dark-haired boy glared. Draco's eyes were heavy, as though he couldn't be bothered to keep them open. He had a pouty expression on his face and his eyes were slightly swollen, resulting in the bags underneath to become even more visible.

"Couldn't resist my ass," Harry said, and scowled irritably. He didn't sense anyone coming, though, and that was good. He wondered about Luna and Genevieve. They should have felt that, unless they were knocked out or something.

"No, I can't," Draco said, and smirked. It was more like a twitching of the lips, but Harry recognized it for what it was and he sat down heavily, crossing his legs and arms. He was acting childish and immature, but he couldn't care less. Something about the other boy infuriated him to the point of nearly driving him crazy.

"Oh, Harry, touch me," Draco said mockingly. There was mad light shining in his eyes and he leaned forward, ignoring the shackles at the clanked noisily. Harry's eyes narrowed. He wasn't sure it had been the lesser of two evils, after all. Draco was staring at him hungrily, and his fangs suddenly looked dangerous. Harry knew, if worst came to worst, he could beat Draco to a pulp and not feel bad about it. But he wasn't going to do anything unless the blond threw the first punch.


Against his better judgment, Harry leaned back in and kissed him again, forcefully. Their lips ground together as though they were still young, inexperienced in what to do and still wondering if this was proper, but it didn't matter because now Harry's fingers were running through the silvery hair and he was enjoying this way too much for someone who was going to kill him the next day.

"I am going to murder you," he said softly, as he nipped lightly at Draco's neck. "I will make you scream in anguish when I kill your friends first, and then I will bring you down so badly that you won't even be able to scream anymore when it's your turn. And I will laugh."

"I know," Draco breathed, eyes closed as Harry's skilled tongue explored the shell of his ear. There was magic everywhere, and he opened his eyes. He could see it, a melding of colors everywhere and a humming that was growing in intensity as their make-out session progressed. He moaned, more in awe then for what was going on, and then Harry laughed against his neck.

"No, you don't, but that's okay." He drew back and uncrossed his legs. Dark green eyes regarded Draco silently, and then the dark-haired boy scooted forward as his hand caressed Draco's cheek.

"We aren't going to get far, pet."

"I don't care," Draco bit out, already starting feel tired. He perked up slightly as Harry's hands slid down his body, holding onto a slim waist as he started to rock forward. When had he gotten in Draco's lap?

The colors were everywhere, and there were lightly colored sparks floating. Draco couldn't concentrate on Harry—only the sparks, which were beginning to take shapes. He couldn't feel anything anymore; just see the sparks, igniting themselves. There was a flower, and there was a—a woman, and another was himself, and he was sure he was going insane, but then Harry stopped as well and looked up.

He looked disdainful at first, eyes still heavily hooded with desire, but then they widened. He was staring at one distinct whorl of magic, quickly fluttering into something—a butterfly. The most beautiful butterfly Draco had ever seen in his life, flapping its large wings and flying forward until it pushed itself into Draco's hair, becoming tangled. Draco reached up wordlessly, and the butterfly managed to free itself in time for it to drop into his palm. It stayed that way, and then Harry reached up a hand.

It crumpled.

They were both silent, staring at the now black pile of ashes held in the pale hand, and then Harry was standing. His eyes were filled with fury and he was obviously holding back tears.


"Don't fucking talk to me," he hissed, and his voice was cold and clipped again. He spun around, and the magic dissipated instantly, leaving the hall cold and quiet once more. Harry ran fingers through his hair before spitting on the ground. Draco felt hurt before reminding himself that he didn't care. Not anymore, remember? Tomorrow was his dying day; he had to remind himself of that.

"Go to sleep," the princeling said.

Draco watched him leave, and then he was alone again.

Harry padded into his room silently; ignoring the baleful look Nestea gave him when she opened the door for him. He wasn't exactly sure why she was still in there, watching over him, but what niggled most at his brain was the look on her face when she got in. He was too tired to even comprehend it as he slipped into the bed and she resumed her normal position in the chair beside it.

"Good night," she said softly.

Harry stared at her. "Why are you here?"

She started. "Blunt, aren't we?"

"Answer me."

She bowed her head. "Of course, your Majesty." There was something about the way she said it that was condescending, but he didn't offer to correct it. "I am here in case anything else should happen, so that I may be able to help as best as I can until Mistress Malfoy arrives."

She'd worked hard to come up with that answer, Harry thought. He stared at her longer, and then glanced at the large stomach. "You're having the baby really soon," he said. He could feel it, too, especially since his body had become more sensitive to magic since that—episode a few moments ago.

"Yes," she said, looking nonplussed. "I'm already feeling contractions. My water broke a while ago, but the Mediwitch here said it's going to be a while and, since they're very far apart, it won't matter anyway if I go on with life as normal."

"Good for you," Harry said, nuzzling his face into the pillow. He wondered what it was about this woman that made him unable to treat her like a subordinate. Something chilled his bones and told him he would change that very soon depending on his choice tomorrow.

There was a comfortable quiet that didn't extend to Harry's mind, and he stared at Nestea in the dark. "I kissed him," he said softly.

"I know. I felt it."

For some reason, he felt a wave of relief so great that as it washed over him he nearly drowned in it. The tears spilled from his eyes again, and he sniffed into his pillow. He knew this would be it; his last moment of weakness for a long, long while, and until then he'd have to shut his mouth and emotions and act like it was never going well with him. Nestea was suddenly rubbing his back, and he hiccupped lightly.

"I don't—I don't want do this," he told her.

"I know."

"And I'm sorry that I made you go through all of this trouble, and everyone else, and—I really just don't want to forget."

This time, there was no answer except for the soft murmuring. Harry listened as his sobs subsided, and realized it was a story.

There have always been people in this world that needed a path to follow…

"I'm so sick."

And sometimes, it worked out better with one person than the other, but no one ever really felt upset about it because that was the natural order of things.

The room started to spin; it was midnight, and between the tolling of the bell and Nestea's story, Harry felt relaxed. A light drumming began in his ears, a steady rhythm that began to build up gradually. Waves of power washed off of him, spreading around the castle.

Luna and Genevieve, climbing up the stairs leading from the very belly of the mansion with two swords hidden in their clothes, stopped and stared at the darkness ahead of them when they felt it. They prayed fervently that everyone was tucked away in their beds and they would get to their beds before they collapsed—from the weight of the swords they carried and from the pull of the magic that was affecting them so strongly.

Bellatrix wasn't sleeping. She was sitting outside of Luna's room, waiting to listen to the breathing of the girl inside, and wondering what it was that was leading her down this path. She didn't understand her obsession with the Lovegood child, except for maybe the fact that she was something pure, and Bellatrix had always wanted someone else to be the tainted one.

Harry lay sleeping, letting the magic thrum through him as everyone else waited, watched, and listened.

He dreamt of butterflies.

There once was a boy I knew, beautiful and kind in every way, who came to such a crossroads. He had no one but himself and another companion, always hidden in the shadows, and everything he could ever hope for was dashed to the ground. The boy wasn't sure of what to do, so he sat down in the dirt and waited for a choice to come to him.

It never did.

"If someone ever touches you, Harry, they're dead."

"I know."

"And if they ever hurt you—"

"They're dead, I know."


"Don't. I don't—"

"And if I ever do anything to you, Harry, what will you do?"


"What do you think I'll do?"




"It doesn't matter anyway, Draco. You would never do that to me. Ever."



The storm started, raining so hard that it seemed like someone wanted vengeance on the very earth. It pattered down on rooftops, and thunder rumbled like an angry voice. Lightning crackled and attacked the earth with fury, bent on raising hell.

Someone jumped as a bush suddenly ignited next to them. Albus Dumbledore calmly put it out and kept walking, watching the castle in front of him.

"This isn't normal," Tonks said, next to him. She was already in a Death Eater's robes, staring hard through the rain and with the mask the Ministry had supplied tucked under her arm. "This rain isn't normal."

"Things concerning Harry usually aren't."

Tonks laughed and then checked herself. "Albus, really. I don't know what we're going to do beyond this. It seems more like we're rushing in and attacking than anything."

"Oh, no, far from that," Dumbledore said. "We've got groups attacking from every conceivable corner, and besides that, I've recruited a little help. It seems Orion owes Draco Malfoy a favor of some sort."

Tonks looked shocked. "The leader of the centaurs in the Forbidden Forest owes my nephew some help? Albus, Orion used to try and kill the people that wandered into his territory!"

"Draco can change people too," Dumbledore said. "Orion has been following us with his people for a while now. They haven't caught up yet and I don't expect them to before we hit the castle, but they will be backup, as well as whatever other creatures may follow. I expect they have a score to settle with Tynan as well."

Tonks shook her head. "You're amazing, Albus."

"I think I tend to try," Dumbledore said. He had said the same thing to Arthur a while ago, hadn't he?

My, he thought, Time had been passing in an odd fashion indeed.

Seamus woke up with an odd sense of bereavement in the back of his mind. He kneeled on his bed for a moment before glancing down next to him. Carina was curled up and breathing deeply into the pillow. Seamus grinned; had Blaise been here, he was sure he would have been castrated a while ago.

Carefully, the Irish boy slipped out of his bed and peered out of the window. It was raining too hard outside to be able to tell anything, but didn't mean he couldn't see, even if vaguely. There was something moving along the castle grounds—actually, a lot of somethings. All black robed and hooded—

"Holy shit!"

Everyone in the dormitory came flying awake, and Dean nearly killed himself as he tripped over Neville in his rush to get to his friend. "What, mate, what is it—?"

But Seamus was sprinting from the room. It didn't take long before they all followed as he rushed down the stairs, yelling for someone to get the Headmistress. He didn't stop even when McGonagall joined him, yelling shrilly for him to cease his actions. Seamus only halted when he got to the main doors, and that was because he pushed them open.

In the archway, everyone skidded behind him, and stared. Teachers who had been roused from their sleep stared, none caring that they were rain-drenched, and the few other students who had stayed were there as well.

What looked like hundreds of banshees were gliding across the grounds, in the direction of the main gate of Hogwarts. For some reason, it was open, letting them out. At the feet of the banshees were creatures, scuttling and slithering and hopping, all heading for the gates. Centaurs wove in and out of the procession, talking amongst themselves and exclaiming about the stars.

Seamus started as one of the centaurs detached itself from the group and stood in front of him. It snorted lightly, and he stared at the dark coat dappled with some spots of white and gray.

"Seamus Finnegan, we are leaving the Forest. We are joining the cause to rid the world of the curse that is Tynan Malfoy."

"I don't get it," Seamus said, startled by his own audacity, but he couldn't really dwell on it. How had the creature known his name?

The centaur looked up the sky, and then back down. "Don't think too hard on it, youngling. Know only that the Forest has been deserted. Those that remain will not be able to do much for you."

Seamus nodded, although he was staring a little at the Giant Squid, who had emerged from the water and was waving its tentacles as though in farewell. He could feel Dean shaking next to him and knew that his friend had seen it too.

"Um, thank you very much," Seamus said, remembering his manners. He almost asked if the centaur wanted to come in for some tea, but restrained himself. "But I heard whatever's going to happen is going to happen on Harry's birthday—which is, um, today I think. Right now." He stressed the words lightly.

"We have our ways," the centaur said, and looked up again. Seamus followed his gaze this time and his eyes widened. Dark shapes were flapping against the sky, hovering for a moment before shooting away at incredibly fast speeds. He looked back down only to see that the centaur was gone. His gaze fell to the gates. As soon as the creatures were beyond them, most vanished or sped up.

The convoy lasted for another few minutes before disappearing totally, as if in seconds. Silence reigned supreme, as it had so much in the past few months. After a moment, McGonagall bristled.

"Everyone, back inside. We don't need you all dying of cold thanks to Mr. Finnegan," she said, gazing sternly at him. Seamus knew she would want to speak with him, and he suddenly felt exhausted. When everyone was gone, McGonagall gave him a weary look.

"You called me the Headmistress, when we were going down the halls."

Seamus looked surprised. "Um, yes."

"Don't," she said, her voice steely. "Albus will be back, and so will all the other children. This will not end badly, make no mistake."

Seamus nodded, and she looked away, his dismissal. He left her standing in the rain, looking at the gates, which were beginning to close of their own accord. For one moment, Seamus thought, McGonagall looked like the old woman she really was, handling too much for her already burdened shoulders. And then she turned around and arched an eyebrow at him.


He left.

So...ka...it's been a while, darlings.


There. Now that my little bit of summer music tunage and consumerage is over, I can get back to blabbing about this. It's actually been saved and finished on my computer for about two weeks now, but...ano...it's just that I was thinking maybe I'd post a double-feature but never got around to it, and the I had finals. BLAAAAAAAAAH.

But, on the plus side, I have had muchos muchos time to reevaluate my life. I found out I'm still the same; pretty crazy and yaoi-obsessed, but yeah, that's me. Tell me, luvvies, how was your day?

And to my beloved JOOLS: dude, I haven't seen x-men but that could possibly be because I am very much hoping to see The Omen and See No Evil, even though I won't be able to sleep afterwards. Plusward, I am being very odd because graduation is next week and I'm already dying because I'm terrified of losing my friends since I'm going to a different school. Gimme a cyberhug and cybercookie, pleasies? Mille grazi.