Chapter 33 – He Said What?
Albus awoke to an arm around his shoulders and the silky deep voice of Severus saying "Just sip this, Headmaster. You'll be fine in a moment." He obediently opened his mouth and drank from the vial held to his lips. "Hm, old socks and hair tonic, my favorite."
He ignored the snort from his Potions Master and gratefully felt energy fill his body. He sat up and accepted the half-moon glasses from Severus, slipping them in place. "I fear my age is catching up with me," he said with his customary good humor. Looking around the elegant sitting room, he smiled in genuine relief at seeing Harry safely ensconced on a settee next to Draco Malfoy who held one of his mate's arm's with fierce determination, looking ready to spring at anyone who might pose a danger. Lucius Malfoy was seated on a nearby sofa next to his wife who gracefully poured tea and handed out cups. However, what drew his attention was the tall golden-skinned figure standing behind Harry, his hand gently resting on the young man's shoulder.
Everything about the man was in shades of gold, Albus realized, from the golden blonde hair to the honey-colored eyes to the golden tones on his embroidered leather clothing. On his forehead was a large v-shaped bony ridge that extended from the outer edges of the hairline down to the bridge of his nose.
He met the honey-colored eyes and noticed the vertical pupils before he realized he was being scrutinized as much as he was examining the other. He averted his eyes and dropped them to the raven-haired teen. "Harry my boy," he said with indisputable pleasure, "you have no idea how pleased I am to see you looking so hale and well. I was concerned that Tom had harmed you."
Harry's lips twitched upwards even as Draco snarled venomously. "He tried," the Gryffindor replied. "However, in my Clan form, I am impervious to most magic." He looked over his shoulder and smiled at the tall figure behind him and then turned back towards the Headmaster. "Permit me to introduce my adopted father, Aironth Flamebringer. Father, this is Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, also the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and the Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards."
The tall man bowed with his hand tight to his chest; his voice was melodic as he said, "An impressive list of titles, Headmaster. It must be tiring to live up to them."
Albus half-rose and bowed as well. "An honor and a pleasure to meet Harry's adopted father, sir." Obviously, this explained where Harry had spent his summer, but how had it happened? He would have to look into this. He looked around the room and recognized that everyone was quietly relaxed and turned back to Harry. "What happened with Tom, Harry?"
The dark-haired teen smirked with profound satisfaction. "He is..what is the term? Oh yes, 'vanquished', sir." He smiled again over his shoulder. "He found himself up against an irate Father and the Juanth Darastrix First Law."
The elderly wizard could easily envision the image of colossal jaws snapping shut around Voldemort and gulping him down whole. And while a brief respite would be helpful to let people heal, now they would have to wait for him to reappear, and who knew in what form or what area? He would have to be sure Rufus didn't relax the aurors vigilance and would have to see how he could manage the publicity. The world would be rejoicing, but they still needed to be alert until the horcruxes were found and destroyed. He sighed mentally, already tired with what lay ahead and then refocused on Harry. "Should I assume there was no body?"
The emerald eyes creased with humor. "Of course there's a body, Headmaster. Tom is still using it. I said he was 'vanquished', not that he was dead."
"What my son meant," Aironth interjected, "is that the man is no longer using his higher cognitive functions, only the autonomous functions."
At Albus' surprised expression Draco added, "He's a drooling imbecile. It would take an improvement to reach simpleton." Albus noticed that Harry smirked at the blonde's muttered additional comments about being a source for potential potion ingredients.
Aironth spoke again drawing his attention. "Are you well, Headmaster? It's been a day of many surprises."
The elderly wizard's blue eyes twinkled at the living myth. "I thank you for your concern. Yes, I am quite recovered now."
The tall man stepped around the settee. "Would you perhaps join me for a walk in the gardens while the family comforts themselves that all members are healthy and unharmed?" He ignored the raised eyebrow of his son and gestured towards the double doors to the terrace and gardens.
Recognizing the request for what it was and relishing a chance to question the man unimpeded, Albus acquiesced graciously, hiding his eagerness. They walked slowly through the stylish terrace and into the gardens, Albus sending covert glances at the figure beside him, while the other walked nonchalantly with his hands clasped behind him.
The elderly wizard finally said benignly, "I now understand why Harry didn't want to share where he had been this summer. Have you known him long?"
Aironth smiled at the wizard, exposing his sharp canines, but the smile did not reach his amber eyes. "He is the descendent of another adopted son. Any Clan member who left close-kin behind opens a portal to verify they are safe, healthy and happy at least once per generation. You can imagine my distress when I found Harry was neither safe, healthy nor happy; but instead constantly in danger as well as routinely starved and abused and no responsible adult seemed to recognize or care about his condition."
Albus stopped walking in shock. "What do you mean he was starved and abused? I never..he never…"
"Abused children usually don't say much, Headmaster. Surely you've learned that over the years? They typically believe themselves responsible for the abuse. However, that is not what I wanted to speak to you about. It is about Tom Riddle." He met the wizard's eyes with his own clear amber ones. "I noticed you were not as pleased with the man's defeat as one might have supposed."
Albus sighed and tried to explain, carefully modulating his voice to be gentle and compassionate. "The fight against Tom Riddle is not truly over. The man committed many ghastly acts, among them was the creation of multiple horcruxes; methods of preserving parts of his soul to give him the semblance of immortality. It is how his spirit survived until he regained a body a year ago."
Aironth surprised him by inclining his head. "My son and I are well aware of the horcruxes. While he is trapped in his current body, there will be adequate time to find and destroy them." He turned to begin strolling again. "However, that is not what concerns you, is it?"
Albus suppressed the desire to sigh again. As gently as he could he said, "When Harry was marked by Tom as a baby, I believe part of Tom's soul lodged in the curse scar. Harry himself is likely a horcrux. Without eliminating all of the horcruxes, Tom will never be stopped."
To his astonishment, Aironth gave a rumbling laugh. "Did you really believe that I would not recognize a soul leech on my son or that I would permit it to remain? What kind of a father do you believe me to be? Even if I had not acted, the others of the Clan would have. No youngling would be permitted to be exposed to such evil."
The laughter died and the stare he leveled on his companion was cold and disapproving. "Tell me, Headmaster, if you suspected such an atrocity was imposed on my son, why did you fail to do anything to remove it?"
Albus looked away from the condemning glare. "I could find no method of removing it that didn't kill Harry. I wasn't willing to do that."
"Indeed? What did the centaurs say when you asked them about removing a soul leech? What about the goblins? The merpeople? The dwarves?" At the wizard's stunned expression, the power swirled around the golden figure and he said through clenched jaws "Are you honestly saying that you couldn't be bothered to ask other races or species for assistance? What were you thinking? Or were you planning to tell my son that he would have to sacrifice himself because you couldn't find a way to remove the soul leech?"
For the first time since he was a teenager, Albus began to feel afraid to be in another's presence.
Inside the sitting room, the family conversed quietly. "What about the Death Eaters," asked Lucius.
"We felt Tom drain all of his marked Death Eaters in an attempt to protect himself," Harry replied with a grimace. "However, even with the magic of all of his followers, he wasn't a match for an enraged and protective father who had the full mental support of the Clan behind him. I believe he drained them dry of their magic, but not of their life energy."
Draco smiled in satisfaction. "I find that acceptable. A quick death would have been less satisfying than knowing they will be spending a lifetime as a Squib. I wonder how their families will react?" He shared a knowing glance with his father. They were about to experience what they had espoused for others.
Severus cleared his throat. "Mr. Potter…Harry…how did your..Father know to open the portal?"
Harry smiled and sipped his tea before answering. "We share the same lowaar, sir. While we couldn't exactly hold conversations through the lowaar, they could let him know I was in a life-threatening situation. It was only the complexity of opening the portal between worlds that caused him to go to Riddle's mansion rather than here."
"One can only imagine the rumors that are flying from those who witnessed that spectacle" murmured Narcissa.
"We will be able to support or correct any rumors," Lucius replied with unmitigated satisfaction. Their eyes met and shared their pleasure. Their Family hosted an Elder Dragon and their son was not only a Lord in his own right, but bonded to the only living Dragon-Kin. The Malfoys place as the decisive leaders of wizarding society as well as their political influence was unrivaled.
Boy-Who-Lived Kidnapped by You-Know-Who
Then Rescued by ELDER DRAGON!
By Rita Skeeter
In a shocking progression of events, Death Eaters tunneled under the wards on the Malfoy estate using ankhegs (see page four for pictures of these ferocious arthropods) and were able to use a port key to kidnap Harry Potter in the midst of a ferocious battle. Lord Draco Malfoy-Black subdued the remainder of the force attacking him and his bond mate, then continued on to help defeat those assaulting his parents, Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy and godfather, Potions Master Severus Snape. All attackers were killed or captured at the site.
When Aurors arrived on the scene, Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour accompanied them. To everyone's astonishment, the Minister was noticeably reluctant to mount a rescue for the kidnapped Boy-Who-Lived, claiming that Potter could not be treated differently than any other citizen. When asked whether that meant no citizen can hope to be rescued by the Department of Magical Law Enforcement if abducted by Death Eaters, the Minister declined to comment. It was only after persistent urging from the family and friends,including Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot Albus Dumbledore, that the Aurors were mobilized for a rescue mission.
While the valiant Aurors and the distraught family sought to break down the wards surrounding a mansion in Little Hangleton, Harry Potter was inside fighting for his life against the Dark Lord and a contingent of Death Eaters.
What happened next will remain vivid in this reporter's memory for years to come. A great shimmering light filled the sky and a vibration of unimagined power surrounded the area. The light defined itself into an immense gateway and a golden dragon the size of a mountain emerged. With a swipe of its mighty claws, it ripped the roof off the mansion. An outraged mental roar was heard by everyone present questioning You-Know-You for daring to attack the dragon's son, a member of the Juanth Darastrix. (See page 6 for details about the Juanth Darastrix also known as Elder Dragons). Within minutes, You-Know-Who was vanquished, his mind overwhelmed by the combined power of the Elder Dragon and his "son".
This colossal dragon then gently lifted a much smaller golden dragon from the ruins of the mansion, and to the amazement of all present, it transformed into our own Boy-Who-Lived, Harry Potter. It was later revealed that Mr. Potter is recognized as the adopted son and close-kin of the Elder Dragon who rescued him.
"I am only relieved that my son's bond-mate is safe," Lucius Malfoy was quoted as saying. "We were aware of his relationship with the Elder Dragons, or the Juanth Darastrix as they call themselves, but to us he is simply Harry Potter, a member of our family."
This reporter can promise more will be revealed in the coming days.
There was a report of a mysterious blight that seemed to sweep across many pureblood families yesterday, leaving some family members untouched while others were instantly drained of their magic. Some deaths were also reported, although most of the victims found themselves comparable to a squib. Experts are being called in to see if anything can be done to help those afflicted, although preliminary investigations by leading healers at St. Mungo's was not encouraging.
A rumor that the malady seemed to strike at the same time that the Dark Lord was vanquished was denounced as an unsubstantiated rumor by the Ministry of Magic.
Rufus Scrimgeour glared at the Daily Prophet. He should have known that witch would turn his words against him. He turned his mind back to the previous day. He had stared in shock and disbelief at the massive dragon before them. It towered over the mansion and was easily the size of a small mountain. He couldn't believe it when the Malfoy heir ran towards the monster and the Potter brat. He had ignored the fallen Headmaster, laid gently on the ground by the Potions Master. He had seen the Aurors staring at the dragon with awe and near reverence and moved forward.
"Mr. Potter," he called out sharply stopping when the dragon's eyes turned towards him. "What happened here?"
Harry spoke from the circle of Draco's arms as the Veela held him in a tight grip that the dark-haired teen seemed resigned to accept. "Death Eaters attacked Malfoy Manor and kidnapped me, Minister. Voldemort tried to kill me, but my Father intervened and basically crushed him mentally. He's inside acting like a newborn baby if you want him. Father recommends leaving him alive until certain items are found and destroyed that permits his spirit to return."
Shacklebolt ordered his Aurors inside with strict instructions to restrain the oblivious Voldemort. It took two commands before they tore their eyes from the dragon and moved obediently towards the ruined mansion, looking covertly at the golden form towering over them. Harry motioned the Head Auror over to them and began a quiet discussion.
Lucius Malfoy spoke up from behind the Minister, "Surely anything else can wait until tomorrow, Minister? Our family has been through a tremendous ordeal and needs time to recover. If someone will see to the Headmaster…"
The dragon's voice had sounded then, "If you please, bring the Headmaster with us. I would like to speak with him." Rufus shuddered at the mental tone and made a conscious decision not to be on the receiving end of such a conversation himself.
He nodded politely and inclined his head to the great beast. "Of course. Take all the time you need. We will have an Auror come to interview you tomorrow."
With a swirl of power that did not come from any wizard or witch present, the dragon disappeared along with the Malfoys, Snape, Dumbledore and Harry-bloody-Potter leaving Rufus to cringe when he heard Skeeter's smug voice behind him.
He hadn't been able to get Potter to be the Ministry spokesperson and now the Ministry had nothing to do with defeating Voldemort. In addition, Shacklebolt refused to disclose the details of the discussion he had held with Potter and Malfoy-Black, only saying that they had provided leads on some dark artifacts used by Voldemort. The Minister leaned back in his chair and rubbed his eyes tiredly. How was he going to manage the publicity regarding the return of dragons large enough to step on mansions? What if this one in particular was unhappy over the treatment his "son" had received over the years, especially the treatment from the Ministry of Magic itself?
He glared in frustration at the Daily Prophet article again.
Upon returning from their walk in the garden, Draco was not surprised to see Aironth treat Dumbledore with frigid courtesy. What was surprising was that the Headmaster had returned almost immediately to Hogwarts and seemed almost anxious to leave the dragon's presence. He noticed Harry's eyes become unfocused and knew he was speaking with his lowaar. He hoped that meant his curiosity would be satisfied soon.
Dinner was a quiet affair. Aironth told a variety of amusing stories set in the past with well-known historical figures as the central theme.
At a lull in the conversation, he leaned over to Severus on his left and asked softly like velvet covered steel, "You've had my son in your class for five years, Potions Master. What is your opinion of him?"
Only years of tight control before Voldemort kept Severus from swallowing at the intimidating protective aura the other man exuded. "I originally thought him to be a clone of his father, but recently discovered that I was mistaken. My godson could not ask for a better bond-mate," he replied.
The daunting aura receded and the golden man inclined his head. "I am glad you have gotten to know my son for who he is. I am quite proud of him." He smiled and turned the conversation to potions that were no longer in use and how they fell out of favor.
After dinner, while the rest of the family was engaged in conversation, Draco asked if Aironth would care to see the portrait gallery. "The Malfoy family can trace its heritage back over a thousand years; perhaps you knew some of our ancestors." They excused themselves and strolled down to the gallery.
During the walk, Draco began, "Honored One, I did not have the opportunity to ask your permission to court your son, but would ask your approval on our bonding now."
Aironth smiled in appreciation. "Well spoken, young Draco. I know my son considers you his thurirl now, and that he accepted your bond. I can see the bond growing between you and am pleased to accept you as his bond-mate. Perhaps you and Harry will visit me when your school year is done and you have completed the tour of your properties?"
Draco almost stumbled in surprise. An invitation to visit the world where Elder Dragons now resided? To see what Harry had seen? To share that with him? "It would be a pleasure, sir", he replied when he was certain his voice would not quiver. "I trust you are not leaving soon? I do hope that the barely veiled hints for a ball that my mother suggested over dinner aren't going to drive you away?"
A bass rumble of laughter echoed in the corridor. "No youngling. A ball ceased to be able to intimidate me long before I began to consume sunlight."
Draco blushed and hoped they had not shamed themselves as hosts to their guest. "I had forgotten that Harry mentioned you had no need to eat physical meals. I hope tonight's dinner was not a problem?"
"Do not concern yourself, youngling. Although my body converts sunlight into energy, I still retain my ability to consume foods. I frequently shared meals with my son while he stayed with me. It remains a form of fellowship and conversation for the Clan."
The blonde nodded, relieved that they had not insulted or embarrassed their guest. "Thinking of sharing meals with your son, did Harry share his upbringing with you?"
Aironth turned and looked at him gravely. "His upbringing is why I invited him to my world. The need to protect him was so overwhelming I nearly abducted him without his permission. He was neither happy, healthy, nor safe and had rarely been so during his young life. The manner in which he was raised by his mother's sister and her family was deplorable."
Draco smiled deviously as he said, "Then I assume you will have no objections if his relatives are penalized for their behaviors?"
Aironth smiled, showing pointed teeth. "Did you honestly believe that I would have left this realm without exacting a form of punishment for their unforgivable behaviors over the years?"
"What did you do?" Draco asked, trying not to shiver at the power the other exuded. He had several ideas in mind, and hoped he would be able to carry them out.
A Slytherin-like smirk briefly played along Aironth's lips and Draco found himself strangely comforted by the idea that an Elder Dragon would exact retribution. "I understand that after my son left their home, all of the Dursleys somehow became afflicted with a feeling of claustrophobia. It is quite possible that they will never be truly at ease in any closed room or dwelling again."
Draco considered what it must have been like for a tiny Harry to have spent ten years locked in a small cupboard. He frowned at the thought of the small dark cupboard and a child unable to get out.
"I further understand that they somehow gained an aversion to the dark and must sleep with all the lights on," Aironth added almost as an afterthought. "It is conceivable that their nights may be marked with nightmares."
Draco smirked in malicious satisfaction at the justice of it. They had locked Harry in that dark cupboard and now would feel the same type of suffering he had. Well, not all of it. He glanced at Aironth, who was examining an ancient portrait. "What about how they fed him only scraps when they bothered to feed him at all?"
Aironth turned his head and looked off into the air above Draco. "That is quite strange. Food still smells delicious to them and they desperately crave it, but every bite they eat either tastes spoiled or…regurgitated."
Draco's smile was blinding as he bowed deeply to his bond mate's Sire, using the child to parent bow Harry had taught him. He was pleased with the subtlety and appropriateness of the retribution. Long term mental retribution fit the crimes against his bond mate very well.
"I thank you, sir. I know I speak for Harry as well when I say that we are looking forward to visiting you this summer."
"Perhaps over the summer we can discuss when you and my son are planning to provide me with grandchildren," the golden figure chuckled. A mischievous grin appeared on his face. "Has my son mentioned that Juanth Darastrix are able to modify their bodies to permit either sex to bear young?"
Draco stared wide-eyed at the tall figure next to him and then developed a slow smirk. "Oh really?"
It was later that night when everyone had retired to bed that an ear-piercing scream rent the night's peace. "WHAT? HE SAID WHAT? AIRONTH!"
Rumbling laughter echoed through the moonlit hallways.
Finis – for now
Thank you for reading through to the conclusion of Dragon Kin. I hope you enjoyed the story. And yes, Aironth was only pranking his son at the end.
This story was not marked as slash and contained little physical contact as the relationship was about a straight Harry and a pansexual Draco who had to work through the years of animosity to build a gradual friendship and then a long-term partnership. Anything else would come later…do I hear a sequel in the making? I do have some ideas for plots, adventures, and intrigue that would continue the story.
Before a sequel is written though, I have a few plot bunnies that are getting quite demanding in their insistence to be told. Some of those stories will likely be published first.