Chapter 11

Previously: The last thing Draco saw was a faltering image of his little brother writhing about on a bed with waves of power flowing from his struggling form, before he blacked out.

Blaise Zabini sat in an ornately carved high-backed chair resting comfortably in front of the crackling fire in the Slytherin common room, slanting brown eyes closed as he mused inwardly. Smirking slightly, he listened to the both excited and anxious murmurings of the students ranged about the spacious dungeon room. All of them, with the exception of a few students who were snoring in a rather ungainly fashion, were discussing the bombshell that their unofficially recognized 'Prince' had just dropped on them; Harry Potter, the world-renown 'golden-boy' of Gryffindor, the boy-who-lived-to-be-hyphenated, and the boy almost universally viewed as the puppet of the Master Manipulator, the so-called Light Lord Albus Dumbledore himself, was Dark. Not just dabbling in dark spells, the Gryffindor boy actually had a dark affinity, he was naturally a dark wizard, destined from birth to be planted firmly in the dark side of magic.

Not only that, but he wasn't loyal to Dumbledore at all! In fact, according to him and Draco, Harry Potter despised the manipulative Headmaster more than even the Slytherins did. And Draco Malfoy, who had been the Gryffindor's most hated rival since their very first year in Hogwarts, saw the black-haired teen as his little brother.

Of course, Draco had told Blaise in letters over the summer of the newly formed friendship, though the younger blonde didn't exactly go into detail. Still, actually seeing it was another Slytherin Prince-…

No, he was not Blaise's Prince. Not now….

"The subjects of magic in realms unseen

From earthen rivers and stone

The Queen's only child, the Prince of the wild

To sit on Magic's throne.

The native of wind, the Heir of fire

The Prince of water and earth

A wizard became, A royal by name,

The Childe of magic by birth."

'The Queen's child. Magic's childe.' Blaise thought blissfully, a serene smile spreading across his face. 'Finally. We have waited so long, our people have waited so long…' The young elf chuckled, slanted eyes glinting with devoted pride and the light of hope. 'But we wait no longer; our Prince has finally come, the Queen has finally found our people worthy of him. All we must do is find the Prince, and our Queen's Asar.' Barely suppressing a grin, he stood smoothly from his chair, practically bouncing over to the stairs leading to the dorms. He would have to disturb Draco and Pot- no, Harry, for a moment; he needed to grab a sheet of parchment or two –as well as his clan's seal –from his trunk.

Almost vibrating with joy as he trotted up the stairs, the young Slytherin reached up with one slender hand to trace his ears, feeling the sharp point hidden beneath his people's most powerful glamour. Every seven years, the elves sent one of his clan to Hogwarts –in fact, to each magical school –incase the Prince they had been promised by their Queen would appear. Elves aged at a normal rate until they reached their prime, somewhere in the range of 20-25 years, at which their bodies were frozen for the rest of their lives. For generations, elves covered in glamours cast by the best of the elves that had chosen Yathro, the way of the sage, watched and waited. But every generation, the Prince was never found.

Eventually, it became Blaise's turn. So, just eleven years old, the young elf ventured into the human world to join his mother, the older woman having left earlier in order to form their cover story. The background they had devised was that Blaise's mother had moved from Italy, having been homeschooled there and having lost her husband some years before settling in England. As it was, his father had actually remained in the Elven world, his duties as one of the Generals that had chosen Yabael, the way of the guardian, preventing him from coming along. Still, the elf man visited regularly.

So, the young elf went to Hogwarts. But, like the elves before him, Blaise had been forced to keep the knowledge of their existence and his purpose from his friends and teachers, including Draco.

A frown creased the seventh-year's face at the thought of his best friend. Once Blaise had located the Prince, he would be returning to the Elven cities; until and if the High Elves revealed their continued existence to the world, Blaise would most likely never see his friend again… Unless…

Unless the blonde was chosen as a mate. While human mates were rare, they were possible; Baelyr Kennyrrae, the first of the Queen's Asar, had had a human as a mate. They were simply very unlikely. Most elves found their life-partners in others of their kind or in other magical creatures (such as Veela), though the process of locating said partners was often very long. Some of the elves waited thousands of years to find their perfect ones, relying on the draw that pulled them to their mate once the younger of the two was of age. During those years, under extremely strong glamours because of their being in hiding, the High Elves still made regular forays into the wizarding world in case of the unlikely event that their chosen was a human.

If they were, the mates were given a choice; come away from the human world to the elven, never to return, or stay and have the knowledge of the High Elves obliviated from their minds. If the second option was chosen, though it rarely ever was due to the fact that the Elf and their mate were literally soul mates, the Elf would –eventually –die, seeing no reason to continue living without their life-partners. Elves only had one chosen; without them the elf would waste away, refusing to eat or drink until, in the end, they died. In fact, unless slain in battle or –in the case of some of the older elves (either the ones without mates or together with their mates) –they chose to leave this world to the next, the loss of a mate was the only way an elf could die.

Now you may be wondering what the elves would do if their chosen was human; after all, even wizards only live up to a certain amount of time. So, what happened when the mortal mates died? Well, the answer was; they didn't.

You see, some time after the Queen first promised the coming Prince and the Kennyrrae, her Asar, left the Elven world, the Council acknowledged the fact that their Prince was going to be human. And as such, would eventually die when his life span ran out. But he was their Prince, their Queen's only child, and their people's promised one. They could not allow him to die. So, the best of the Thro –or sages –worked tirelessly to find a way to preserve their Prince's life. And, after almost a century of searching, they found the solution.

Written on a scroll the Bael –guardians –had found in a crumbling tomb they came across during a standard patrol was a ritual created almost before the founding of their race. Surprisingly, it was rather easy to perform. With only a special potion brewed of a small number of simple ingredients, taken on the night of the full moon, a human could be given all the traits of a full elf, including their near immortality. They were still human, but with all the characteristics of a full-blooded elf.

As for mating, Blaise knew that he certainly felt drawn to the younger blonde. Draco had been his best friend since Blaise's first days at Hogwarts, and the two got along quite well, almost to an extreme degree. To be honest, the older teen hoped that the younger Malfoy was his chosen; the elf had fallen in love with him somewhere around their third or fourth year when Blaise realized that his friend did not in fact support the Dark Lord. If the blonde had, there would have been no chance, for while the elves had nothing against Dark wizards or dark magic in general, Voldemort had stood for everything the High Elves did not believe in.

Still, he couldn't know for sure until December; Draco's birthday. 'I suppose I will just have to wait.' Blaise thought, groaning despondently. Pulling himself from his thoughts, he realized that he had frozen halfway up the staircase, and he cleared his head with a weary shake. Trotting upwards once again, his dragon-hide boots making close to no sound on the hard marble, the young elf shoved his hands in his pockets and slumped his shoulders with a heaving sigh.

As he grew close to the landing outside the seventh year boy's dorms, Blaise began to see flashes of light flickering wildly on the slate-grey walls. Bright flashes of color flitted through swirling silver and black waves that were emanating through the open doorway. Something about the power struck a chord deep within him, but Blaise was unable to discern exactly what about it felt so, so, familiar. Shaking his head once more and tensing, the Elven teen clasped his slender fingers securely around the wand tucked into a pocket of his robes, grip white-knuckled. Closing his eyes for a moment to center himself, Blaise took a deep breath, opened his eyes, and darted into the room.

"Draco!" He gasped. The blonde, slumped halfway down the wall with his head lolled to the side and a slight bit of blood trickling out of his open mouth, was the first thing Blaise saw when he entered the room. Flitting over, Blaise frantically placed two fingers at his friend's throat, feeling desperately for a pulse. For one excruciating minute, he felt nothing. But then…

Thump thump… thump thump…

The Blonde's heart still beat strong. Almost crying with relief, Blaise bowed his head against Draco's chest for a moment, the young elf allowing himself to revel in the steady beats thudding against his ear as he thanked his Queen with all his heart that Draco was still alive. Then, a stronger wave of power from behind him caught him unawares, pulsing with ethereal colors and lights. Drawing his wand from his pocket with unearthly speed, Blaise spun to see…

Harry Potter. Writhing on the silk-sheets of one of the Slytherin beds, face contorted in pain as staggering surges of power, power like nothing Blaise had felt before, rolled off of his thin form. The young elf watched in shock as, with a bright flash, pointed black ears and a white-tipped tail appeared on the younger boy, and, impossibly, the pulsing magic grew even stronger. Then, as the green-eyed teen let out a strangled cry, Blaise could see deadly looking fangs flashing in the torch-light, colors glinting off the vicious points. Claws that had slid from Harry's fingertips sliced through the sheets and mattress as he clenched the fabric in his fists, grip white-knuckled as soundless howls tore their way from his parted lips.

'What's happening to him?' Blaise thought frantically, eyes wide and unblinking with shock. Clenching his teeth, he fought against the suffocating pressure, attempting –in vain –to force his way over to the younger boy that Draco had decided to protect and love. For if Draco thought the black-haired teen was worth it, then that was good enough for Blaise.

But it was to no avail; the crushing aura emanating from Harry's thrashing form was immense, pressing back against the young elf with a suffocating strength. Despite that, he fought on –for Draco. His arms and feet flailed, wand twisting and flicking haphazardly through the air as he cast spell after spell, leaving trails of sparks in its wake.

"I'm afraid… that will not… work, young… elf." A whispery voice came from behind Blaise, near the doorway. Hearing it, he froze in shock, thinking frantically, 'How do they know what I am?' Suppressing a gulp of panic, the elf spun slowly on his heel, letting his eyes rove warily over the intruder.

It was a woman, cloaked in verdant green with dark green leaves and bronze runes patterned about the hem. The hood of her cloak was up, casting her face into shadows, but wisps of white-blonde hair –not unlike Draco's –peeked out, fluttering in the ebb and flow of Harry's power. Blaise reached out with his senses hesitantly, the feel of this woman's own power once again striking a chord within him, just as Harry's did. 'What was it?' he wondered, the answer just barely out of his grasp. Slowly, Blaise mulled over her words, choosing to momentarily ignore her knowledge of his race, more concerned about the small teen writhing about the bed. "What, exactly, do you mean?" He asked.

The slight part of the woman's face that Blaise could see creased in a frown as she replied in her soft, broken voice, "Harry is… breaking the bonds… placed… on his magic… At the moment… the young man… is experiencing his… full power…" Her cowled head turned and she looked at said young man solemnly, shaking her head slowly from side to side. The green-cloaked woman sighed slowly, before turning her head sharply back to the confused Blaise. "I… need to help… him… If you will… step away from… young Draco… I will wake… the young dragon… He knows… what to do…"

Blaise tensed, not wanting to leave Draco's care to this stranger. If the young blonde was hurt he'd- he'd never forgive himself. But, for some reason, the young elf trusted the unknown woman in green. So, reluctantly, he took a few slow, shaky steps, leaning against the wall with his wand gripped firmly within his tanned hand. Dark eyes fixed on the blonde woman, Blaise motioned with a hand towards the prone form of Draco, jaw set.

A soft smile crossed the un-shadowed part of the woman's face and, bowing her head regally, she glided over to Draco, her footfalls soundless on the silvery wooden floors. Sliding fluidly to her knees, she placed both of her small, slender hands on either side of the unconscious blonde's face, humming slightly under her breath. And, within moments, a sharp gasp was pulled from Draco's lips as he sat upright, mercury eyes flying wide. "Wh- Wha?" He faltered, staring up into the shadowed face of the stranger leaning over him. Hesitantly, he asked, "Who?"

"Do you not… remember me… young Dragon?" The woman queried, head cocked to the side. "I spoke to you… your father… and Harry… when you visited…him." She waved at the thrashing Harry. "I did not think… you would forget… me so… soon."

Mouth falling open, Draco stuttered out, "B- But you're a spirit. The essence of- of… everything! Harry- Harry never mentioned… How can you be here?"

Chuckling softly, Mother replied, "Ah ah dragon… anything's possible… if you believe… But that is… enough talk… I need your… help young… Draco." She held out a hand to pull the blonde to his feet where he wavered on shaky legs, not noticing the silent form of Blaise in the corner. The dark-skinned elf had been stunned into silence, contemplating the meaning of the words 'the essence of everything'. Surely he didn't… I mean she couldn't possibly be…

Walking towards the bed where Harry lay, the Mother parted the surges of power still emanating from his contorted form like Moses parted the waves of the red sea. Draco followed behind her faithfully, face creased in a worried frown as he saw the pained expression on his little-brother's face.

"What's wrong with him? What happened to his glamours? Why is he emitting this, this energy? And how do we stop it?" Draco rambled, hands fluttering over –but never touching, the green-eyed teen. Harry, being unusually powerful, did release magical pressure under extreme emotions, but never of this magnitude and never in such a broad range of colors; his aura was usually some combination of black, silver, green and gold. Mother just gazed down at said teen sadly, not responding, before placing two fingers at her mouth and letting loose a piercing whistle. Immediately, some of the points of light that had been dancing throughout the room clustered together, splitting into two masses before solidifying into a pair of sleek black jungle cats. Each of them called out a roar in stereo at the sight of their master's pain, slinking to the side of the bed and looking up at the Mother questioningly.

Nodding stoically at them, she greeted, "Dahna… Dominick…"

Bowing their heads in return, the pair leapt up on to the bed, curling sinuously up to either side of Harry and pinning his struggling limbs beneath their powerful bodies. Purrs rumbled through their chests as their rough tongues bathed across Harry's light golden skin, attempting to provide some semblance of comfort to their ailing master.

Shaking their heads in frustration when their efforts were met with no change, Dahna and Dominick spoke in soft tones underlain with growls, saying, "There is no time… We must help our Princeling…" In unison, they turned towards Draco and said demandingly, "Your father is one of his protectors… One of his guardians… But he is not here now… You are hereYou have the same blood in your veins… The same legacy… That heritage… that birthright… lies dormant within you… It will know what to do… HELP HIM, Draco of the Kennyrrae."

"Kennyrrae…" The word fell silently from Blaise's mouth as, frozen in shock, he watched his best friend hesitantly close his eyes and breathe in deep, before letting it out in a slow, shaky breath. Draco's eyelids flickered, blonde lashes trembling against his pale cheek and brow furrowed as he reached within himself, searching for the feeling of recognition he felt whenever he looked into the verdant-green eyes of his little brother. Unknowingly, the blonde raised his arms straight out to the sides, palms up, and let his head fall back with a guttural moan. Taking in a shuddering breath once more, Draco finally grasped that oh so familiar feeling, pulling it to the surface as a white light shone from beneath his skin, causing the pale blonde to shine with an astral glow. The gleaming shimmer grew brighter and brighter, until the room was filled with its splendor and bright spots danced behind Blaise's eyes.

When the wisps of light cleared, in Draco's place stood… an elf. An elf with long white-blonde hair, tied away from his face into a low pony-tail with a leather thong. Sharply pointed ears peeked out from beneath the silvery locks, matching the rest of his delicately angular features. Draco's face had always been aristocratic, with a straight nose and high cheekbones; those qualities were now even more enhanced. Slowly, his closed eyes fluttered open, to reveal familiar grey orbs swirling with bright mercury light.

Blowing out a breath, Draco's outstretched arms fell limply to his sides and he shook his head to clear the cobwebs from his mind. Leaning over, he examined Harry with a quick glance, easily ignoring the still ebbing and flowing power that surged throughout the room. 'Hmm'ing noncommittally, he straightened and murmured, "The bonds placed on him by the Headmaster are finally breaking… the power must be too much for him to handle." He wasn't sure how he knew that, just that he did. Something deep with in him had awoken, and for some reason he knew exactly what steps he would have to follow in order to find a solution to Harry's problem. Unfortunately, some of those were rather complicated. Frustrated, he shot the Mother a sharp glance, ignoring the fact that –technically – she was his queen; Harry mattered more to him.

"I thought you were supposed to be all-powerful. Why can you not help him?" Draco demanded rhetorically; it was the duty of the Asar to protect their Prince. He rested a slender hand on Harry's forehead, waited a moment, before jerking it away with a hiss. "He's burning up. He will not last long if this continues without a counter-balance." Shaking his head, brow furrowed, Draco muttered, "If only we knew who, and where, his mate is…"

Sighing, he glanced down at the still purring panthers beside his little brother. 'What did she call them?' He mused, tapping his fingers on his chin. 'Oh yes…'

"Dahna and Dominick was it?" Draco asked, humming in response to their affirming growls. "Well Dahna, Dominick, can you reach Kaen?"

Both jungle cats closed their eyes, waiting for a moment, before opening them and nodding. "The connection is faint… But it is there…. He is attempting to contain the power… from within our Princeling…"

But Draco shook his head, saying, "It isn't enough. Is there anyway he can take over Harry, or come out here?"

The panthers closed their eyes once more, growling out, "There is no way for him to exist… outside of our princeling's form… but he can gain control… He did not attempt it before… incase the princeling's magic reacts negatively… but he believes we have no choice now… He will try."

Seconds after, a snarling howl tore itself from Harry's mouth, startling the two beside the bed –and Blaise who remained unnoticed and frozen in shock, cloaked in the shadows in the corner of the room. After the initial shriek when his glamours had been stripped forcefully from his body, Harry's cries had been reduced mainly to small whimpers and moans of pain. His eyes had fallen shut, clenched tightly closed to prevent tears from falling from the emerald orbs.

But, as they watched, those eyes fluttered open, no longer emerald. Instead, they shone a bright gold, pupils slitted like a cat. Slowly, the swirling power still flowing about was called back in, and Kaen struggled to sit upright. When he finally succeeded, he leaned against the headboard with a satisfied smile.

"Well, that was a bit more painful then I expected, but at least Harry –or rather, his magic –didn't fight me taking control." He sighed, stretching their arms above their head then lowering them to knead their claws into the already shredded fabric of the sheets and the mattress below. "Thank you little dragon, I was unsure as to whether or not that was a good idea." He swept their glowing golden eyes around the room speculatively, freezing on the shadowed figure of Blaise in the corner.

"Well, well, well, who do we have here?"

Hand flying to his wand, Draco spun and snarled, "Show yourself!"He summoned a gleaming silver dagger to his other hand, holding it with the blade pointed away from his face, crouching into the modified dueling stance he and Harry had adapted to suit their needs.

Gulping, Blaise stepped from the corner with a sigh, hands up by his shoulders and head down in a submissive posture. Recognizing him, Draco staggered back in shock, stuttering, "Blaise?"

"Hello Draco…" The dark-skinned teen murmured, gazing past him to the gently smiling Mother. Staring rapturously into her face, the young elf fell to one knee, bowing his head with one fist to the floor, the other arm resting on his thigh. "My Queen." He breathed, crystal tears welling up into the corners of his eyes. The opalescent drops fell through the air, splashing soundlessly against the silver wood of the floor. "I- I cannot express…I- is Harry…?" He trailed off, a pleading expression on his face, eyes locked on the floor.

"Yes Blaise…" Mother answered, sliding a finger under the young elf's chin and raising it so his eyes met hers (or rather, where he assumed they were underneath the shadows of her cowl). "This is… my Childe… though his… protector… is currently… in control."

"'Ello pet." Kaen greeted, winking. He waved their hand lazily, the other tucked comfortably behind their head. "I'm afraid Cara is resting right now, he couldn't take that much power surging all at one time." He shrugged, wincing at their sore muscles, retracting their claws and kneading the afflicted area gingerly. "Tch, can't be helped I suppose. This is rather interesting though… I didn't expect it to be quite so easy to find the elves…"

YOU CALL THIS EASY? Harry's indignant voice echoed in their mind, and, flinching, Kaen could just envision his Cara standing in their forest, hands on his hips and face set in a fierce scowl. Oh, and by the way, Harry commented, much milder this time. I think you broke Draco.

Indeed, the blonde elf was standing there with a shell-shocked look, mouth having fallen open in a rather ungainly expression, pureblood pride completely thrown to the winds. Prodding the blonde elf with a slender finger –having made sure their claws were sheathed –Kaen asked hesitantly, "Erm, dragon? Uhm, I know this is a bit of a shock and all, but I'm sure ya wanna talk to elf-boy over there," He jerked their thumb at Blaise, "and I don't really think that standing there like a statue will help anything."

"Yes." Dominick agreed, sliding off the bed before pressing his belly to the floor, hind end raised in a decidedly feline stretch. "And there is a chance… that someone will walk in at any moment."

"Damn…" Draco cursed, snapping out of his stupor. His mind was still running in starts and stops, attempting to come to grips with the fact that his best friend (and the boy he was secretly in love with) was, in actuality, a High Elf, and that they had actually managed to find one of the elves on the first bloody day of school. 'Not now Draco.' He hissed inwardly, clearing his head with a sharp shake and letting himself run on instinct. Running a hand through his now shoulder-length hair he lamented, "I can't go around looking like this! If only father were here…"

"That is… alright… young dragon…" Mother soothed, laying a ghostly hand on his arm. "The effects… will fade… soon; your inheritance… is not fully… awoken… as that was… only temporary... I gave you… the ears as… proof… to young… Blaise… Otherwise… the only… thing… that has come into… effect… were your… ingrained… instincts… from your… elven… blood… that tell you… to protect… my childe…"

Raising an eyebrow, Blaise also pointed out, "And, Drake? There are such things as glamours you know."

Snorting, Kaen deadpanned, "Like the ones you have on little elf? They're rather powerful, and extremely intricate… The elves I assume?"

"Er, yes…" Blaise stuttered, looking into the unerringly golden eyes of Kaen. After all, this boy was his prince, or rather, was his prince's protector and was in his prince's body. And, despite having trained almost all of his childhood as to the proper protocols if/when he found their Queen's prophesied child, he really wasn't quite sure what to say. "Erm…" He fumbled, expression nonplussed. Beside him, Draco was fighting giggles; he had never seen the elder boy so flustered.

"Oh quit it!" Kaen reprimanded, throwing their hands into the air exasperatedly. "My Cara could care less if we are the bloody Queen of England; ya don't have ta treat us any differently from blondie here." He nodded at Draco who was attempting, and failing, to suppress laughter. If there was one thing Harry hated, it was being idolized and/or famous; it stands to reason that if Harry didn't like it, as his guardian, inner or not, neither would Kaen. Confirming that thought, Kaen continued, "And if you start doin' it when my mage is in control – which would, ideally, be most of the time– I don't doubt that he'll give you a right lashing, though whether it's by words or wand is anyone's guess." He shrugged then, as an afterthought, added, "Or claw." He winked cheekily at Blaise, unsheathing and retracting the shining black nails teasingly.

Blaise rubbed the back of his head sheepishly, letting out a chagrined chuckle and letting his shoulders drop from their stiff position. "Right then. Er, well, I suppose I had best be sending a letter to the council-"

"I will… take care of that… young one…" Everyone jumped, even Kaen, having forgotten that Mother was still in the room. She was perched daintily on the bed, smiling rather genially. "Originally I had… intended to not… get involved… as it was… the Asar's task… to find my childe… and I am normally… unable to interfere… in such… matters… But I did not… expect the Headmaster's… manipulations… My childe's… wellbeing is more… important… than any… rules… Young one," She addressed Blaise, "write your… letter… I will… mark… and deliver it… personally… The council… will know… what it means…"

Blaise nodded, immediately going over to his trunk, rifling through it to find the specially enchanted parchment and ink he had been given for post back to the elven world. He set it out on the desk, beginning to sit down, when Kaen exclaimed, "Aha!" in a pleased voice. His golden eyes went cloudy, and then slowly began to fade back to green.

Eventually, Harry shook his head and moaned, falling back onto the pillows. "Ouch." He croaked, voice hoarse from screaming.

"My Prince?" Blaise and Draco asked in unison, while Mother said,


"Blaise, what did Kaen tell you about the 'Prince thing'? And Draco, since when have you called me that?" Harry scolded, frowning weakly up at them. "And I'm alright Mother, just sore." Smiling gently, she brushed his long raven hair out of his face, causing Harry to jump when she accidentally brushed his sensitive black ears. Wait a minute, his ears? "Um, why, exactly, are my glamours off?" Harry mewled, sheathing his claws and attempting to cover the tell-tale triangular ears with his hands, tail wrapped around his stomach and twitching agitatedly. The already small teen curled himself into a ball, as if trying to make himself disappear behind Dahna, who had decided in favor of remaining on the bed and was now rubbing her cheek comfortingly into his arms which were patterned in large, light grey streaks.

"It's alright angel." Draco crooned, rubbing the embarrassed teen's back soothingly. "None of us here care, and Blaise wouldn't say anything." The blonde glared at the other boy pointedly, frowning. "Would you now?"

Suppressing the urge to gulp, Blaise stuttered, "N- No not at all. Got a pair of rather unusual ears myself actually." He unhooked a small ring from the cartilage of his ear, his appearance shimmering and rearranging as soon as the jewelry left his flesh. When the wavering faded, Blaise was slightly changed; he had a greater refinement and allure in his features, higher, arched brows and, most importantly, the tell-tale pointy ears of a High-Elf.

Grinning cheekily, he bowed and said, "Blaise Zulu Zabini, of the Raido clan, a high-elf and faithful servant to her Majesty, and now, to you." Holding up a hand to stop Harry's protests to the words 'faithful servant', Blaise calmly informed him, "I may not know you well my- er, Po- er… Oh hell, Harry, but I know now that you don't like being treated differently, or so your guardian –Kaen, was it? –told me. However, my people, your people, have been waiting centuries for your coming. You are our Prince, Her Majesty's only childe, and you will be treated as such. The elves are a proud people, and our Queen and our Prince are our greatest pride."

Harry froze, stunned at the emotion in the older boy's voice. Up until earlier that day, Harry had never even really met Blaise Zabini, and now the Slytherin was professing his fealty? 'Can't my life ever be normal?' Harry groaned inwardly, shaking his head with a heaving sigh. "Well, I wouldn't want to disappoint." The young mutant said dryly, attempting to stand and giggling when Dominick's tail flicked him teasingly. Harry attempted to whack the panther back with his own tail, but ended up smacking himself in the face. "Haven't really gotten used to this yet…" He muttered, glaring when Blaise and Draco burst into laughter.

When he'd subsided, Blaise asked curiously, "If you don't mind me asking my, er, Harry, why exactly do you have these, ah, feline attributes?"

"Not here." Dominick reprimanded, amusing himself by twitching his tail in front of Harry's face and watching the young feral resist the urge to bat at it playfully. "The Headmaster will have noticed… that his bonds on the Princeling are gone… He will be looking for him… and someone might have seen him… heading this way after dinner. Or… one of his friends may have mentioned it… where someone might have heard…"

"True." Draco drawled, smirking. "They are Gryffindors after all."

Snickering, Blaise nodded, and then offered, "Later. Harry needs to get back, and I need to write that letter."

"Myself as well," the younger Malfoy added, flopping onto the bed Harry had vacated. "We need to be able to plan things, and Father will want to-"

"NO!" Mother cut him off, voice abandoning its wispy quality and causing the two elves (or rather, the elf and half-elf) to jump.

"My Queen?" Draco faltered hesitantly, addressing her by that title for the first time in his life and finding that –like calling Harry his Prince –it felt rather natural.

Voice softening slightly with an apologetic expression, Mother explained, "The Headmaster… will be wary… when he… learns… of your… friendship… He will… most likely begin… to screen your… mail… Unless myself… or one of… Harry's falcons… delivers it… do not send… mail with any… important… information…"

The three boys agreed, the elves with a reverent, "Yes your Majesty." And Harry with a quick, "Yes Mother." When Blaise eyed him questioningly for the words 'Harry's falcons' the young mutant just snapped his fingers twice, summoning and releasing his two spirit falcons who, like his other animals with the exception of Dahna and Dominick, were yet to be named.

"Now…" The Mother continued, dropping a kiss to Harry's forehead and stroking his cheek, "I must… be leaving once… more… Young one…" She said to Blaise, "when you… have finished… your letter… leave it… closed and sealed… on your trunk… I will… retrieve it… before… the morning… And with… that… my childe… young elves… I bid you… goodbye…" And, without a sound, she faded into bright sparks, flickered, and was gone.

"Why did you come to see Draco in the first place anyway Harry?" Blaise asked later as they were trotting down the staircase, Blaise and Harry's glamours firmly in place. The two Slytherins had insisted on showing Harry out, their protective instincts – as Mother had temporarily awoken Draco's elven heritage, though it eventually receded, the urges to protect Harry at all costs and to call him 'Prince' were still present –in full swing.

Harry giggled, smirking knowingly at Draco who was suppressing laughter. Despite having known Blaise for only about an hour, Harry felt he could trust the young elf and had dropped all of his masks. So, bouncing childishly, he responded, "Drake an' I are planning our coming out!" He winked, adding, almost as an afterthought, "As friends that is. Though I suppose the other way works too, us bein' gay and all." Harry resisted the urge to clap when he saw hope light Blaise's eyes as the older boy sent Draco a surreptitious glance which, unfortunately, the blonde was completely oblivious to.

"Ya know," Draco halted, leaning against the wall with a wry grin. "We never really did get around to that."

"So we didn't!" Harry realized, surprised. "Well, I guess we'll have to make this short then." He paused for a moment, deliberating, and then announced, "If there's no objections, we'll just and walk in together. Blaise, I think you should be already in the hall, so that if anyone asks where Drake is you can stave them off with some excuse or other. We'll meet in the passageway coming up from the dungeons to the front door at six so we can iron out any last minute details."

Both boys nodded, before the younger Malfoy stated, "Clothes! We need to coordinate!"

Harry giggled, prodding the other boy teasingly with a finger and jibing, "You sure you aren't a girl you ponce? Such a dandy." He dodged the blonde's retaliatory swipe, and relented, "Alright, wear a white shirt, that gold vest with silver embroidery, and your bronze over-robe with the black runes on the hem. A black belt, and your dagger in a holster, arm, waist or thigh." They had learned over the summer

Blaise hummed, and deciphered, "Wealth, but not over the top. Peace, new beginnings, but with a hint of danger as well." He grinned; ruffling Harry's already mussed black hair. "Well Harry, looks like you're one of us snakes after all!"

"And don't you forget it!" The green-eyed teen laughed, bouncing down the rest of the stairs.

"What'll you wear then Angel?" Draco asked curiously, following the hyperactive teen at a more sedate pace.

Giggling, Harry grinned cheekily and said, "Ah, but that's a surprise!"

"C'mon, pleaseeee!" The blonde whined, jutting his lower lip out and clasping his hands together.
"Just a little hint?"

"Ah but that's telling isn't it?" Harry giggled, tapping the side of his nose knowingly. "You'll just have to wait like everyone else! Later Drake, Bini!" He waved back over his shoulder, winked at the chuckling Slytherins around him, and faded into the shadows once more. There was the faint click of the portrait hole opening and closing, and then, he was gone.

Blaise stared after him, face a mask of shock. Eyes wide, he stuttered "Wha- Wha?"

"What's wrong Blaise?" Draco asked concernedly, laying a hand on the older boy's arm.

Shaking his head, the dark skinned teen just breathed incredulously, "Bini?"

Several floors up, in the Headmaster's office, one of the formerly quiet whirring instruments that littered the shelves was steadily emitting a high-pitched buzzing noise, the contraption glowing an angry red. As time went on it began shaking and rattling in its mount, the noise getting louder and higher before, twenty minutes later when the time limit was reached, it fell silent once more.

The Headmaster to whom the office belonged never noticed, having been –at the time –lying awake in bed contemplating a very serious matter… to him at least.

'This is an extremely important decision, the next month may very well depend on this decision… what should it be?... Hmmm… very well… It is decided…'

'this month's password will be Cockroach Clusters.'

Light filtered through the windows of Gryffindor tower, reflecting off the silvery fabric of Harry's invisibility cloak as he swung it over his head. The silvery material shimmered for a moment, flickered, and disappeared, taking the green-eyed mutant with it. Silently casting a muting charm on his footsteps, Harry swung the door open, closing it with a quiet click and darting silently down the stairs. As there were no classes that day, the tower was empty, no one unwilling to take the advantage of sleeping in with no consequences.

Weaving through the various chairs, tables, couches and bean-bags that littered the floor, the black-haired teen pushed open the portrait door, careful not to wake the Fat-Lady, and flitted off down the corridor.

Scarce minutes later, the swish of the ethereal cloak being removed sounded throughout the empty hallway leading up from the dungeons toward the great-hall. Brilliant green eyes could be seen glimmering from one of the shadowed alcoves as Harry settled back into it, waiting for Blaise and Draco to appear.

And, as planned, the two elves arrived promptly at six, slipping unobtrusively back to where Harry waited. With a flick of Blaise's wand, a silencing ward and a proximity ward (to warn them whenever someone was approaching) were cast. Reassured, the two Slytherins leaned against the wall, looking disappointedly down at their smaller friend.

"Harrryyyyy…" Draco whined, pouting childishly. "That's not fair!" For Harry was swathed in a thick black cloak, the clothes underneath completely obscured by its voluminous folds. The two elves had been looking forward to seeing what Harry came up with clothing wise, Blaise especially. Because, though Harry already treated him as a friend and ally, the elf was eager to discover more about his prince. And, though the Thro had taught that their Prince would naturally trust the elves as they were his Mother's people, Harry's easy acceptance of him was a constant source of amazement to him. Draco had given the older elf a more in-depth explanation of Harry's past –as well as the black-haired boy's mutant status, something which Blaise found intriguing –and Blaise was honestly astonished that the younger boy was able to trust at all.

But here he was, smiling and laughing as he prodded Draco in the shoulder, the brunette easily evading the half-elf's attempts to remove Harry's cloak. "No No, ya can't see yet!" Harry teased, dancing away from Draco's swipes to stand by Blaise. "Hey Bini!" The younger teen chirped, throwing his arms about Blaise for a quick hug.

Resisting the instinctual urge to bow, instead the elf ruffled Harry's hair and replied, "Mornin' Harry." Then, glaring down at him with a teasing scowl, he threatened, "And Harry, if you ever call me 'Bini'" He spat the name like a curse, "again, Prince or not, you may find yourself met with an unfortunate accident."

Harry just giggled blithely, responding with an oblivious, "Sure Bini!" He grinned at the elf's mutinous mutterings, glancing down at his watch and announcing, "We've got about an hour until the hall fills up, and honestly, I don't feel like waiting here." The mutant looked over at Draco for suggestions, ignoring Blaise who was giving the green-eyed teen his best death-glare.

The blonde just shrugged, offering, "Well, I suppose we could go see Sev…"

"Ooooh, Sevvie!" Harry sang, bouncing up and down and giggling, laughing harder when Blaise choked at Harry's name for the dreaded potions professor. "I was thinking of going to see Siri and Remy, but this is much better! I haven't seen Uncle Sev in forever!"

"You saw him a few weeks ago, before your inheritance." Draco reminded fondly, dispelling the wards and starting down the stairs towards the lower dungeons where Severus was quartered.

Thumbing his nose, Harry replied, "exactly! That's forever!" He followed after Draco, skipping and dragging the un-protesting Blaise behind him by the arm. "Besides, Sev is always alone in the mornings. You know, we need to find someone for him too, he deserves that." Harry declared matter-of-factly, as if it was an every day occurrence for him to be plotting about his professor's love-life.

"And his fire-place is connected to the floo-system," Draco pointed out, "perhaps I can get in touch with father while we're there." Mother had told them to be careful with letters, but it was impossible to overhear a floo-conversation unless you were on the receiving end, and Malfoy Manor was as heavily warded as a building could be.

Blaise laughed, drawling, "Yes, and I for one would like to see your dad's expression when you tell him our, ahem, news. After all, no one expected it to be this easy, just running into each other on the first bleedin' day of school." They had agreed not to discuss any of the details or specifics of their situation in public if at all possible, using code or vague statements when privacy wasn't an option.

Harry hummed, thinking, and asked, "Are we going to tell Severus? You know Uncle Luc doesn't like keeping secrets from him, after everything that's happened."

"We'll have to at some point I suppose." Draco decided seriously. "And this way we can talk to father about it before we decide anything."

"True that." The other two boys agreed, clattering down the last set of stairs and walking the short distance to the portrait door guarding Severus' quarters, and freezing at the sight of the man reclining within the frame.

Normally, the painting was of a slumbering wizard with a raven perched upon his shoulder. The man almost never woke, so the raven was enchanted to ask and receive passwords, the canvas holding just enough ambient magic to accomplish the task.

But this time, it was different. Seated in an ornately crafted wooden chair was…

A.N. Don't kill me! I'm sorry, I'm leaving town for the next five days or so and I didn't want you guys to wait any longer for another chapter, so I ended it early. Yes, I know, it's shorter than normal, but I've been really busy for the past month or so and couldn't write as much. I promise, cross my heart, that I'll make it up to you guys, k? Bear with me, and I hope you enjoyed it!