Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
A/N: I have re-written the first two chapters of this story since I felt they were in dire need of an overhaul. I hope you will like them.
Thank you Vaughn and Lia for helping me with the grammar.
Bill Weasley Flooed into his twin brothers' apartment, surprised as always at the tasteful decor of the place. Somewhere along the way, the two clowns of the family had grown up. Oh, they would always be a pair of pranksters, and Bill would never fully trust them around food or drink; nevertheless, they had grown up.
"Greetings and salutations," he called cheerfully as he brushed the soot off his clothes. Clean again, Bill made his way to where the others were sitting. "So, what are we going to do about that prat of a brother of ours?" he asked, sitting down on the couch next to Charlie, accepting the mug of cocoa one of the twins was handing him. Giving the mug a suspicious look, he took a sip nevertheless.
Fred barked a laugh, but there was little humour in it. "Who would have thought that Ron would turn out to be an even bigger idiot than Percy? Dear Merlin, but what is wrong with those two? It can't be that they are blinded by ambition, because we all have that, and in spades, and we aren't stuck-up prats like those two are."
"Bad genes, they are bound to show up in even the best of families," George said with a fatalistic air, shrugging his shoulders. He wasn't particularly concerned; he had the best of his family gathered around him. The only one missing was Ginny, and it was due to her warning that the brothers had gathered here tonight.
"I understand that you have already made your displeasure with our youngest brother known?" Charlie asked, sipping on his hot cocoa. He would have preferred something stronger, but knew from experience that hard liquor and discussing prats did not mix well. At least not for him.
"Yeah, you should have seen it!" Fred said, his eyes lightening up with delight. "It was priceless. Wait, I'll get the pictures," he added, bounding out of his armchair.
"Pictures?" Charlie asked, glancing wearily after his energetic brother. "What exactly did you two hellions do?"
George grinned, bouncing slightly in his chair. "We sent Ronnikins a letter filled with Bubotuber pus. We knew he'd be too thick to check it out for unfriendly fire. Apparently, we got him but good!"
Charlie groaned, shaking his head.
"We had charmed the letter to explode in his face, taking care to make sure it wouldn't harm his eyes of course. He might be on our bad side, but we'd never do anything to damage him permanently. He is family, after all. Unfortunately," Fred sighed, handing his older brother a small stack of photos.
Unprepared for the sight, Charlie choked on his cocoa, forcing Bill to pound his back to unclog his airway. "Merlin and his beard, what did you two do?" Charlie asked while, beside him, Bill was busting a rib laughing.
"We told you, we--"
Charlie waved the explanation aside. "You already told me that, but that doesn't explain these," he said, waving the photo of a bald Ron around.
"We charmed the pus to go everywhere, but especially into his hair. The treatment for Bubotuber pus doesn't react well with human hair, so for Pomfrey to be able to treat the wounds on his scalp, she had to vanish his hair first. Personally, I think that look suits him," George said gleefully.
"Remind me never to get on your bad side," Bill said, sending the twins an admiring look.
"Just don't hurt those who are family," Fred said, waving the look aside. "So what do we do about Ron? He is the biggest threat since he is in school with Harry and has the easiest access to him."
"I'm not so sure he is the biggest threat, although he is certainly the closest," Bill said musingly.
Charlie nodded. "I agree with Bill; you haven't been around much lately, but Mum is sprouting off nonsense to anyone who wants to hear it. She has actually grown worse since the Prophet revealed that Percy was involved with that Dementors' attack on Harry."
"And as usual, Percy can do no wrong in her eyes," Bill said, making a face. "You know, it is no wonder Percy turned out that way he did, what with Mum always holding him up like some sort of paragon or something. She was forever telling you younger kids to follow his example, how could he not become a stuck-up prig?"
The other three nodded their heads in agreement, and silence fell over the room as they contemplated their brother.
"All we can hope for is that that whole fiasco taught Percy a valuable lesson," Bill said eventually, having brought refills for everyone.
Charlie nodded his head in agreement. "He is lucky to still have a job, even though he was demoted to a mere secretary. At least he is still working for Fudge," Charlie said, making a face. Why his brother would want to stick up for that man was more than the dragon tamer could ever understand.
"Yeah, but I'm not so sure Percy agrees with you," George said with a snicker.
"He could have ended up like that bitch, Umbridge," Bill said evenly, though he was fighting hard to hide his amusement. Due to his employment with Gringotts, the curse breaker had managed to work out a way to be present at the closed trial of Dolores Umbridge. Until he knew just what Umbridge had been up to, the Minister of Magic would not risk even more bad publicity by having the press present.
The proceedings had been swift, short, and brutal. Fudge, in his desperation to stay on the people's good side, had dosed his Senior Undersecretary with the strongest dose of Veritaserum possible, and turned her over to an Inquisitor.
The things the toady woman had admitted to, all in the name of the Ministry, and Fudge, had rocked them all. Apparently, Dolores had ruthlessly suppressed any and all opposition to her beloved Cornelius. She had not been above fabricating truths, sending several poor bastards to Azkaban, and having multiple others fired from their positions. It left them all reeling, and the legal department had their work cut out for them, freeing the innocent and finding suitable compensations for those who'd been wronged. Fudge would not come out smelling like roses this time, that was for sure.
Fudge knew that as well, and was only too happy to accept the verdict that had sent Umbridge to Azkaban for life.
Percy was also grilled, but it soon became clear that he was nothing but a bootlicker, eager to please whomever he was working for. He had known what he did was wrong, but managed to explain away his actions with the age old excuse that he was only following orders. Fudge was all for firing him, but since he didn't need any more bad publicity, settled for demoting the youth to a secretary. After all, Percy was good at his job, and hopefully this experience would knock some of the hot air out of him.
Bill had shared his memories of the trial with his family, and most of them agreed that Percy had gotten what he deserved. Only Molly had disagreed, ranting and raving about the unfairness of the Ministry prosecuting her sweet baby boy, when she wasn't sobbing into her handkerchief.
Arthur had done his best to soothe her, but when she started in on how all this was Harry's fault, the Weasley patriarch finally put his foot down. The normally gentle and even-tempered man had flown into a passion, proving once and for all that he was both a Weasley and a redhead, dressing his wife down and tearing strips from her hide.
Molly had stared at him, open-mouthed, before running from the room, crying true tears of distress. For once, her husband did not follow to calm her, but took the rest of his family out to celebrate the downfall of Dolores Umbridge. Things had been strained in the Weasley home since then, and most of the brothers did their best to avoid spending time at the Burrow. They did what they could to support their father, often going out and having lunch with him, as much as time and duties allowed.
"Unfortunately, there isn't much we can do about Mum," George said with a sad, tired sigh, bringing Bill back to the present. "We have tried to talk to her, repeatedly, but she just refuses to listen."
Fred nodded his head in agreement. Both he and George had all tried to make their mother see reason, but she was determined to paint Harry blacker than black. What truly irritated him, though, was that Molly refused to listen to them, treating them like toddlers. And if they dared to persist, she would turn on them, and tear into them for the hundred time how they had left school and never finished their N.E.W.T.s. As if they needed them! They were doing fine, thank you very much, who needed some stupid grade anyhow?
Bill and Charlie nodded their heads in agreement. They too had tried to reason with Molly, having as much luck as the twins. The woman just refused to listen.
"I suppose all we can do is making sure that Harry knows that we don't share Mum's feelings. And to help him deal with Ronnikins," Fred said, voicing what they were all thinking.
The four brothers finished their drinks in silence, and then they sat down to plot. They were confident that, between the four of them, they would be able to devise a way to make sure that Ron left Harry alone.
Aaaaargh!" With a sudden scream, Narcissa threw the book she'd been trying to read across the room, getting some small satisfaction when it hit the wall with a thud.
"Is something troubling you, sister dear?" Bellatrix asked, looking up from her own book. Giving the disgruntled witch a wicked smile, she slowly and carefully selected a piece of chocolate, popping it into her mouth.
Narcissa glowered darkly at her. "How can you sit there and be so bloody calm?" she demanded.
Bellatrix shrugged her shoulders carelessly. "Why shouldn't I? It is lovely here. I can spend my days sunning myself or swimming in the ocean. Or I can take long walks, not having to worry about being arrested. And when I've had had enough of the outdoors I can sit here, in my comfortable chair, reading as many lurid novels I wish without being teased about it, eating what sweets I want. Why should I stress about it?"
Narcissa snorted and got up to pace around the room. "I don't believe you! Well, actually I do. Considering the company you have kept for the past few years, I suppose this is the height of luxury for you," she said with a sneer.
"I, on the other hand, have grown accustomed to an entirely different life! Besides, you know very well that I am unable to eat any sweets aside from those blasted lemon drops! Just wait until I get my hands on Lucius. This is all his fault! I can't believe that he turned his back on me like that! He was supposed to be under my rule for life!" Narcissa wailed, collapsing back into her chair. Then she yelped as the chair suddenly bit her and she sprang to her feet with alacrity.
"Serves you right," Bellatrix said with a snigger. "You should know not to insult Lucius by now. The house-elves always retaliate, and you are calling yourself smart?" she taunted, finding her sister's predicament highly amusing. "Who knew the little buggers were that loyal?" she added thoughtfully.
"Besides, you weren't the only one living in luxury, you know. Rodolphus gives me anything I want. Unlike you, I am quite happy with my husband and don't need to sleep around the way you do. Did you know that you are known as a slut among the higher aristocrats? I don't think that was the kind of reputation our father wanted for you when he married you off to Malfoy."
"How dare you!" Narcissa hissed, rounding on her sister, her fingers extended like claws, and she wanted nothing more than to wipe that smug expression off Bella's face. Unfortunately, when it came to a cat fight, Bella would win since she fought much dirtier than Narcissa did. "Let me tell you, something, my dear sister, I have friends, important friends, who I am sure, are doing everything within their power to find and free me. Are you willing to bet that your 'friends' are doing the same?"
Bellatrix burst into laughter. "Yeah, I'm sure your important friends are eager to get you back. The way you are forever showering them with money and gifts, why wouldn't they want you back? I'm sure they are missing your generosity by now, you have been here... how long?
"Face it, Cissa, you are a joke! A man shows you some kindness; that is, takes you to bed for a romp or two, and you are forever falling over yourself to show them how grateful you are. Didn't you know it is the male who is supposed to shower the female with gifts? But then, you were always backward and delighted in being 'different'," Bellatrix said, knowing just how to turn the knife to hurt the most.
"As if you know anything about the life I lead!" Narcissa snapped, starting to pant in her efforts to hold back her temper. "You are nothing but a Death Eater whore! Yes, you heard me! Everyone knows that you are spreading your legs for any follower of the Dark Lord who wants you!"
Bellatrix snorted. "Was that supposed to hurt my feelings? You have grown pathetic, Narcissa, you can't even insult worth a damn anymore. Unlike you, I have been faithful to my husband. I never needed to stray, and he, unlike your friends, knows how to treat a woman."
It was Narcissa's turn to snort.
Bellatrix regarded her with a raised eyebrow. "I have been showered with gifts; I have a lovely suite at the Lestrange Manor; I have more jewellery than I know what to do with; and I have several vaults filled with Galleons. Just because I have no interest in shining in polite society the way you do doesn't mean that the only thing I have to wear are my Death Eater robes. And unlike you, I haven't needed to service more men than I can count, so tell me, sister, who of the two of us has the better deal?" Bellatrix asked pointedly.
Narcissa glared, turned on her heel, and marched from the room.
"Thought so," Bellatrix said smugly and returned to her book, after selecting another piece of chocolate. If this kept up, she might actually learn to like the blasted things. She had never been overly fond of chocolates, something Narcissa was well aware off, which made eating box after box of the sweets endurable, just to see Narcissa fume in anger. Not that she blamed her; those lemon drops were vile.
"Molly, what are you doing?" Arthur asked tiredly, pushing away from the doorjamb where he'd been leaning, observing his wife as she was furiously writing something down. She was surrounded with parchments, which were scattered across the tabletop, and as he walked closer, she was tossing her latest missive on top of the ever-growing pile.
"Not now, Arthur, I'm busy," Molly snapped, grabbing a new parchment, dipping her quill into the ink pot.
"I can see that, but with what?" Arthur asked, picking one of the papers up. Scanning it briefly, he groaned and sank heavily onto a chair. "Molly! You can't send Harry this!" he protested, looking over at his wife and realising with a start that he no longer understood her.
"Of course I can!" Molly snapped, never taking her eyes off her writing.
"Molly… Molly, look at me!" Arthur demanded, grasping her hands, ignoring the way she hissed when the ink splattered across the paper. "Molly, why do you hate Harry so much? What has he done to you, for you to turn on him like this?"
"Oh, Arthur, I've told you-" Molly began saying with a heavy sigh.
"No, no, you haven't," Arthur broke in, a bit more harshly than he had meant to. "You have ranted, and raved, and you have cursed his name repeatedly this summer, but you have never told me what caused you to change your mind about him."
"Oh, Arthur, he will be the ruin of my family," Molly said, breaking down into sobs.
"The ruin of our family? Why would you think that? That boy has been nothing but good to us, until you turned your back on him, bringing Ron and Ginny with you."
"Good? Good? Arthur Weasley, I cannot believe you!" Molly cried, yanking her hands out of her husband's grasp. "Just look what he has done to my babies! He gave the twins all that money, causing them to skip school early, never even taking their N.E.W.T.s, for Merlin's sake! They will amount to nothing, Arthur, nothing, unless they get their act together and return to Hogwarts and retake their last year.
"And let's not forget the events at the Ministry at the end of last year. Harry Potter brought my children, my children, into battle against Death Eaters. Death Eaters, Arthur. He even went after my baby boy! How could he? This could have ruined his life!"
"Who are you talking about now?" Arthur demanded perplexed.
"Percy! Who else? It is because of Harry that Percy almost lost his job!"
Arthur snorted with contempt. "Percy refused to listen to reason and left this family in a huff months ago, Molly. He hasn't spoken to us since, unless it was with an official matter. He knew what he did was wrong, and he did it anyway. How can you defend his actions like that?
"And how can you be so blind towards the twins? It wasn't Harry who forced them out of Hogwarts; it was that bitch, Umbridge. You know, I don't think I will ever forgive Albus for abandoning the school the way he did . He never should have allowed that… woman free reign of Hogwarts the way he did. You heard what the twins said, she would have had them whipped if they stayed, for Merlin's sake. And you saw the memories Bill brought back! Dolores Umbridge isn't a Death Eater, but she might as well have been, the way she was acting, and Percy was well on his way to becoming just like her! I can only hope and pray that this entire mess has taught him a lesson, and to think a bit more before he acts," Arthur said, starting to get angry and upset with his wife's wilful blindness to facts.
"Percy is a sweet boy who would never do any of the things Umbridge did!" Molly spat, coming to her child's defence.
Arthur merely snorted, not agreeing in the least.
"You can't deny that Harry brought our children into battle last spring!" Molly cried, rounding on her husband with fire in her eyes.
"No, I do not deny that," Arthur said heavily. "But what you seem to have forgotten was that he was tricked."
"By a false vision, yes, I know. Really, he should have known better than to believe anything You Know Who does," Molly said with disdain.
"Have you already forgotten that it was such a vision that saved my life?" Arthur asked mildly, causing Molly to blush. "Have you also forgotten that it was Harry who saved Ginny when You Know Who was trying to use her to come back to life? The way I see it, Harry has done this family more good than bad over the past five years."
Molly snorted; still not ready to give up her vendetta against Harry. "That boy is a menace. Now that he has taken up with that Malfoy spawn, he will soon turn his back on his true friends, mark my words! Sirius was a Black, and no matter what Albus says, there's never been a decent wizard who has come from that family! I can't believe that he encouraged the relationship between those two! Furthermore-"
"Oh, Molly, Harry is nothing like Rosemary. That boy has a big heart, and he will always have time and love for those he cares about. Don't you think it is time for you to forgive your sister and move on, before she loses you even more?"
"How can you say that, Arthur? It wasn't Rosemary's fault, what happened! It was that damned Black!" Molly shrieked in outrage, flying out of her chair, her hair standing on end.
Watching his wife pace around the room, screaming and ranting, he realised that, on this matter, she would never budge. Molly was dead set on hating Harry, and nothing anyone did would ever change her mind. Sighing deeply, his heart heavy with sadness, Arthur got up from his own seat and retreated to the bedroom. He too would write a letter, to Lucius Malfoy. He owed it to give the man a warning, since he was now the one caring for Harry. Maybe he should write to Harry as well, telling him that while he may have lost Molly in his life, the boy hadn't lost him.
Hermione Granger was pacing round and round in her stall, fuming. Now and then, she would lash out and kick one of the wooden walls surrounding her, venting her temper and allowing anyone near to know that she was not happy with her situation.
The stables. They had had the gall to put her in the stables. With only Hagrid for company. How dare they! She might like the half-giant, but that was not the point! The point was that she had been ruthlessly evicted from the castle and put into the stables. She! The smartest witch in school had been removed, as if she was some common animal! Just wait until the next time she saw that prat, Draco Malfoy. That slap she'd given him in third year would be nothing compared to what she would do to him for doing this to her. Wanting to scream in anger and tear at her hair, Hermione did the only thing she could do, kick the walls hard, and repeatedly.
"Now there, 'Ermione, calm down, I 'aven't forgotten yeh," Hagrid said jovially, coming into view, his arms filled with sweet smelling hay. Ignoring the incredulous look the donkey was giving him, Hagrid proceeded to fill the hay net, chatting away as he did so. Next, he checked that the water supply before dumping the oats he'd brought with him into the trough. "There you go, this should hold you until tomorrow," Hagrid said cheerfully, looking around to make sure he hadn't forgotten anything.
Hermione finally found her vocal cords and brayed angrily, flapping her ears.
"Ah, don't worry, girl, I'm sure the hex will wear off real soon. You should 'ave known better though, I mean, even I know better than ter come between a Veela and their mate," Hagrid said, trying to scratch Hermione behind the ears.
In response, Hermione tried to bite him, but Hagrid was far too used to working with animals and easily moved his hand out of reach. "Now, now, yeh shouldn't try ter bite the hand that feeds you, not good politics, that, not good at all," he said with a chuckle, forgetting himself and slapping the donkey on the rump.
Hermione's eyes bulged, and she twirled around, trying to kick him. However, for such a large man, Hagrid could move swiftly, and her hoofs only hit wood, hard enough to jar her legs. Wincing slightly, Hermione moodily went to investigate the food, staring glumly at the hay.
She might look like a donkey; however, her tastes were still all human, and she didn't think she could stomach eating either the dry grass or the oats. The question was, how was she supposed to inform anyone of that not so small fact? This wouldn't have happened if they had allowed her to stay in the castle! Then she could have found a way to inform someone of her predicament!
Hagrid was a loyal friend, but he wasn't very smart, so how was she supposed to communicate with him? This was all Harry's fault! Just wait until she got her hoofs, um, hands, on him! Oh, what she wouldn't give for some real food; she could kill for some fried chicken, or maybe some well done steak. Or how about some of that delicious pasta the Malfoys had eaten that time?
Unable to face the things Hagrid considered suitable food, Hermione walked over to a corner, and with some difficulty, lay down. Curling up the best she could, she closed her eyes with a huff and proceeded to sulk. The next time Hagrid came anywhere near her, she would bite him, hard, and tell him just what she thought of him. Hay! Really! What did he think she was? Some animal!
"Lucius, I've been meaning to ask you something," Harry said, fiddling with his quill.
Lucius looked up from where he was trying to decipher the comments he had scribbled down about the abilities of a group of fifth year Hufflepuffs. They had made their way down into Harry's trunk. Draco and Severus had happily gone in search of the potions lab, and the Veela had made sure to bring his cousin's journal, hoping to be able to talk
Severus into helping him brew the potion he and Harry needed to get back at Weasley and Pansy. Harry and Lucius had made themselves comfortable in the library, both of them determined to sort out the mess that was going to be the DA.
Seeing the serious look on the teen's face, Lucius put the papers down and turned his entire focus onto the boy. "Ask away," he said lightly, hoping to put a smile on Harry's face.
"Several times, you have mentioned the Veela court. Why didn't they step in and do something when you and Severus were young? I mean..." Harry trailed off, not sure how to broach the undoubtedly sensitive subject.
Lucius sighed softly; he had not seen that question coming, though considering Harry's warm heart, he probably should have. Reaching forward, he grasped the youth's hands before they could mangle the quill any further.
"Harry, by the time the court found out about our situation, it was too late."
Harry glanced up, a frown on his face. "But... I thought you managed to get word to your brother... Didn't he...?"
Lucius sighed again, tightening his grip when Harry tried to pull his hands away.
"I'm sorry. I had no right asking you, forget I said anything," Harry murmured miserably.
"No, Harry. You do have a right to ask, in fact, you need to know what rights you and Draco have, according to the Veela court. It's just that... That is the one question I don't have an answer to. Yes, I did contact Mikhail, warning him to not to come home. I also implored him to get help.
"He obviously got my letter, since he didn't come home again. But he never sent word out to get me help. When I contacted the court myself, to find out why they hadn't come to our rescue, I was angered and dismayed to find out that they didn't know."
"Oh," Harry said softly, not sure what say. Gently, he turned his hands around so that he could grip Lucius' in a show of support. He felt saddened that Lucius had been abandoned by his own flesh and blood, and he felt incredibly angry with Mikhail, who had so callously left his brother to his fate, and for a fleeting moment, he felt glad that the man was already dead.
Lucius sat for a moment, lost in his thoughts, then he shook his head and returned to the present. "The representatives the court had sent after the fact could only confirm what my father had said, and that which my own senses told me. Narcissa was now my mate, all because she was carrying my child. They were not happy with my father, let me tell you. Even though they had no way of breaking the bond, they did not allow my father to just walk away from what he had done."
"What did they do?" Harry asked with bated breath, intrigued by the small, satisfied smirk playing on Lucius' lips.
"They bound his powers," Lucius replied with relish. "Not only did they bind his Veela powers, but they blocked off a good portion of his wizard powers as well. When the Dark Lord found out, he flew into a rage, hexing Father so badly it took him months to recover. I think that is why he was so badly affected when he contracted the dragon pox. Too bad he didn't get them earlier; maybe he would have keeled over and died before he messed up all our lives."
Harry frowned. "Why would Riddle care if your father lost some of his powers or not? From what I have gathered, he doesn't like it when his followers are too powerful."
Lucius nodded in agreement. "Yes, normally that is quite true, but you see, Abraxas, due to his Veela blood, was rather unique. You have heard of the Veela allure of course," Lucius said, grinning slightly when Harry nodded his head. "Normally, when a Veela turns the allure on, they ensnare just about everyone around them, turning them into a drooling pile of goo with only one thought in their head, to get into the Veela's knickers.
"Father, however, could turn the allure into something else, something much more dangerous. It made him... charismatic. When he turned on the charm, he could talk anyone into just about anything. Many found themselves selling their souls to the devil, and they never managed to figure out how it had happened.
"I'm ashamed to say that my father ruined a lot of lives,other than mine and Severus'," Lucius said with a heavy sigh. "Which is why the Dark Lord flew into such a rage. He had lost his most potentially lethal weapon. He was also most displeased to find that I did not possess the same... talent."
"He would!" Harry said with a snort.
The two lapsed into a comfortable silence, both deep in thought.
"I think I finally know why Mikhail didn't send word to the Veela court," Lucius said eventually, startling Harry slightly with his unexpected words.
"Yes. I think we safely can trace the reasons back to the dear Cerise. It would also explain why Mikhail refused to touch that subject with me," Lucius sighed. Becoming lost in his memories, the blond aristocrat looked into a past only he could see.
"Cerise was two years older than Mikhail, and as she attended her last year at Beauxbatons, her eyes settled on him. She knew of our ancestry, of course, but apparently our name and wealth was enough for her to overlook that small detail," Lucius said somewhat bitterly.
"Mikhail never showed any interest in her. He was polite since he was best friends with two of her cousins, but that was all there was on his part. It was those cousins he was visiting when my life went to hell, by the way. My guess is that Cerise found out about his situation at home, and since he hadn't inherited the Veela blood, she wasted no time in talking to her father about Mikhail.
"Cerise came from a prestigious family, but time had eroded the magic and the wealth they once possessed. Marrying Mikhail, even though he was the younger brother, was quite a coup, and she wasted no time. From what I have managed to piece together, she immediately told my brother that he would be protected from Abraxas if he was married, especially if he married into a family who was prepared to stand up for him against Father." Lucius snorted with contempt. "Cerise's father wouldn't have stood a chance against Abraxas Malfoy if he had decided to fight them to get his son back. Fortunately for them, Father had enough problems as it was, and then he died, leaving them all alone.
"But by then the two had already been married, and it didn't take long before Cerise was pregnant with their first child. Veela or not, Mikhail was far too honourable to leave her after she had produced his firstborn child, and the two stayed together, living at Malfoy Cottage."
Harry listened carefully to the sad tale, analysing the things that Lucius had and hadn't said. "She sounds like a true bitch!" he stated with conviction. "And your brother doesn't sound much better. Still, I suppose I can sympathise with him, since he was probably reeling from the shock. I bet he hadn't made any contingency plans of any kind in case your father should suddenly turn on him. Slytherin or not, Malfoy or not, he wasn't expecting something like this," Harry mused with a sigh. How many other lives had been ruined due to ambition and the Dark Lord?
"No, he wasn't," Lucius agreed with a sad smile. "Mikhail was always the idealist, the... dreamer of the two of us. He always had such an optimistic view of the world; always sure everything would work out for the best somehow, in the end. He never stood a chance against either Father or Cerise. I just..." Lucius trailed off; surprised he had revealed so much to Harry. Not even his son knew about this.
Harry smiled slightly; giving the hands he was still holding a light squeeze. "What will happen to her now?"
"The Aurors have her in custody, and I am sure they have subjected her to a harsh interrogation. She has already admitted to committing murder, so they will not go easy on her; her family connections will not be able to save her this time. Furthermore, Mercury will contact the Veela court and tell them what has happened. I know they will not look kindly upon this whole mess.
"I also believe that they will look into the situation with Jason. The Veela community is a very close one, and they keep close tabs on everyone with even the smallest amount of Veela blood in them. I am sure they will find out as quickly as they can who Jason truly is, and if possible, reunite him with his true family."
Harry nodded his head, happy for the other boy. He only hoped that he, unlike Harry, still had family alive somewhere. Shaking his head, doing his best to shrug off the gloomy atmosphere, Harry glanced over at Lucius from under his lashes. "There was something else I wanted to talk to you about," he admitted shyly, piquing Lucius' interest.
"What do you wish to talk about, Loveling?"
"Umm... I read that it is customary for the Veela to give their mate a gift once they have bonded," Harry began hesitantly, gaining confidence from Lucius' encouraging nod. "I read that it is often some kind of custom-made jewellery, and I was thinking... Would you like to have the opal we found in that trunk?" he said in a rush, chewing on his lover lip, worried that other man would take offence.
For a moment, Lucius had no idea what Harry was talking about, and then he remembered. The opal he had been toying with, and that he hardly had been able to put away. The stone had been talking to him, and yes, it would be perfect for Severus. "I can't accept such a valuable gift, Harry," Lucius protested, thought it hurt having to say no to the teen. He also felt ashamed because the matter of the bonding gift had totally slipped his mind. Some Veela he was!
Harry snorted. "Of course you can. Haven't you showered me with things since I got together with Draco? What is the difference with me offering you something that would please you? It wasn't exactly as if it cost me a fortune! Besides, I want you to have it. Consider it my bonding gift to you?"
"Harry, I haven't showered you with things, as you put it," Lucius protested.
"No? Haven't you practically showered me with clothes? And what about the sweet shop and the expedition? And don't think I haven't forgotten about the farms! You know very well that I was only planning on buying one farmstead now and waiting with the rest until I had access to my money," Harry said, overruling whatever the blond was about to say.
It was Lucius' turn to snort. "The clothes were a necessity. I simply could not allow you to continue wearing those rags you were walking around in. The sweet shop is a sound investment, and you know it, as is the expedition you are planning. Besides, if I hadn't supported you on that one, Severus would have. As for the farms... the sooner you get the seeds into the ground, the sooner my mate will be happy, and anything that makes my mate happy is worth a lot more than the small sum I put up for those places," Lucius said with a sniff in disdain.
Harry laughed, and in a move that surprised both himself and his companion, he got up from his chair, walked around the table, and wrapped his arms around broad shoulders as he gave Lucius a tight hug. "It is still far more than anyone else has ever done for me, and you know it! Why won't you accept that someone wants to do something for you? I want to give you that opal. If you don't want it, fine, I will accept that, but only if you tell me what you really feel. None of this 'thank you but I shouldn't' crap."
"Language, Harry," Lucius admonished him out of habit. Then, he added in a soft voice, "And I thank you. Severus will look wonderful with that opal around his throat."
Harry tightened his arm around Lucius' neck for a moment, before releasing him altogether. "He would, wouldn't he? Not to mention that he would be the envy of everyone who saw him."
"That thought never entered my mind," Lucius said haughtily, causing Harry to burst into laughter.
"So, do you have a design in mind?" Harry asked once he was back in his seat again.
"No. I take it you do?"
"Well, the matter has occupied my mind now and then," Harry admitted shyly, worried that he had offended the older man. But Lucius just smiled and wanted to know what ideas Harry had come up with. Soon, the DA was forgotten, as the two lost themselves in possible designs and discussions of what charms should be put on the necklace to ensure the Potions Master's safety.
Later that night, after the boys had retired, Lucius sat in his temporary suite toying with the opal, marvelling at the purity of the stone. Glancing down at one of the designs Harry had come up with, he just knew that that was the necklace he wanted his mate to wear. Determined to visit his favourite jeweller in the morning to set things into motion -- there truly wasn't much time left before Saturday -- Lucius couldn't help but feel awed at the generosity and kindness Harry had displayed tonight.
Despite the fact that they had been bitter enemies only weeks ago. Despite the fact that Severus had been a total git towards Harry for the past five years, the youth still had taken time out from his hectic life and came up with a design for a piece of jewellery meant for a man he had positively hated. How many other sixteen-year-olds would have done that? No, Harry was unique, and Lucius couldn't have been happier about the fact that it was his son who had snagged the boy before anyone else could.
Taking a sip from his wineglass, Lucius returned his attention to the opal he was still toying with. Making up his mind, he put his glass down and summoned a quill and some paper. It was time to make sure that his own son had a claiming to look forward to. It was long past time to write to the Elven king. Lucius could only hope the man would be fair and allow the bonding between the two boys.
If he didn't... Then the Elves would be in need of a new king before long. Lucius would not allow anything to stand in the way for his son, not even a king.
In another part of the castle, Severus Snape was also pondering the youth that was Harry Potter. The image of Draco dressed as a baby kept popping into his mind, and the Potions Master had a hard time not bursting into laughter each time it happened. Although the image was hilarious, he would get nothing done if he kept laughing like some silly schoolgirl.
Draco would probably not agree with him, but Severus was actually heartened to see that Harry was relaxed enough around his godson not to be constantly on alert. Having had some time to think about it, Severus didn't think Harry had truly lost control of his magic that time, but rather the opposite. Harry was comfortable enough around the Malfoys to risk being himself.
If what the boy had said was true, and the Sorting Hat had wanted to put him in Slytherin, then Harry Potter was not the epitome of all things Gryffindor, which was what he had caused everyone to think. However, to fit in so well amongst the rash and foolish Gryffindors, he would have had to suppress a large part of who he truly was.
If Harry truly was a mix of snake and lion, then he couldn't have chosen worse friends than Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger. The youngest Weasley male was not known for his tolerance of anything Slytherin, and Granger would probably have wanted to dissect him, to find out what made Harry Potter tick. The girl had already, during their fifth year, shown a disturbing tendency to mother the boy, demanding to know about everything that went on in his life. No, she would not deal well with such a revelation.
Draco, on the other hand, now that the two weren't fighting anymore, would be well able to deal with a boy who was a mixture of the two houses. If anything, he would never be bored, too busy trying to figure out what his mate would do next.
Severus chuckled, shaking his head. No, bored was not something you risked becoming while being around Harry Potter. Frustrated, furious, tender, loving, awed, those were but a few of the emotions the boy awoke in others, but not bored.
Running a hand through his hair, Severus turned his mind to the business at hand. Why had the Dreamless Sleep potion failed? Marching over to where Helga was sitting on a blanket talking animatedly with Godric, Severus posed that very question to the witch.
"It failed, you say? And Harry was pulled into Draco's Veela dream? How very peculiar! I wonder why?" Helga mused. "I have never heard of anything like this happening before. Then again, the Elves Rowena and I knew weren't mated to a Veela, only to other Elves or humans. I wonder..."
"Then again, there has been a few changes to the potion since our time," Salazar said, having come over to listen to the discussion. "The potion doesn't contain anything that is harmful to an Elf, but who knows what unknown side affects there are? Especially if you add a Veela to the mix. They are magical beings as well, and if you have two as powerful youngsters as Harry and Draco..." Slytherin trailed off; there were just too many unknowns.
"Wonderful!" Severus remarked. "Lucius better write that letter and soon, before we inadvertently do something that cannot be fixed."
"I wouldn't worry too much if I were you," Godric said cheerfully. "Things always work out in the end."
Salazar snorted. "They do if you have a Slytherin and a Ravenclaw at your side," he muttered darkly. "Remember the incident with the silver dragon? And the group of Basilisks? Not to mention the time we were overrun with Ashwinders?" Salazar asked pointedly.
Godric just waved his complaints aside. "The dragon went on her merry way, and if it hadn't been for the Basilisks, you wouldn't have gained that pet of yours, and as for the Ashwinders-"
"Boys, we don't have time for one of your longwinded, not to mention pointless, arguments," Rowena said sternly, although her lips were twitching. "I agree with you, Severus, you need to contact the current king, and as soon as possible."
A/N: Sighs heavily. My apologies, it seems like the hickey scene is in the next chapter. Blame it on the stress of having the computer crashing on me. To compensate, here is a small sneak peek on next week, I hope you enjoy it.
"Draco Malfoy, I can't believe you!" Harry's voice rang out from the bathroom a while later. The two boys had finally managed to separate from each other and gotten out of bed to prepare for the new day.
Harry had stumbled into his shower, his mind still spinning with the wonder of the thoughtful gift Draco had given him. He would have to think of something equally beautiful and amazing to give the other boy, but what? Mechanically Harry washed himself, too busy worrying about his gift to pay much attention to what he was doing.
It wasn't until he was standing before the mirror, attending to his teeth that Harry noted the prominent love bite on his neck. Choking, he could only stare dumbly at his reflection. It was only as he reached up and gingerly touched it that he came out of his stupor.
Grumbling under his breath, Harry was torn between outrage and tenderness. On one hand it was a memory of their dream together, and on the other hand he couldn't believe that Draco had marked him in such a manner. He would have to wear a turtle neck today if he was to hide that thing. And there was no way, no way, he was walking around school displaying that for everyone to see.
"You called?" Draco asked from the doorway, his voice laced with amusement and a touch of trepidation.
"You prat!" Harry said, stalking over towards the Veela. "I can't believe you did that!"
"Are you truly upset with me?" Draco asked quietly, trying to gauge his mate's feelings.
Harry looked at him for a moment, and then he ruefully shook his head. "No, not really. No wonder you couldn't keep away from my neck! Just know this, Draco Malfoy, next time it will be you needing a turtle neck!" Harry stated, giving the other boy a quick kiss. Humming under his breath, feeling surprisingly cheerful all of a sudden, Harry sauntered over to his wardrobe, suddenly very aware that he was only wearing a towel.