Harry set his quill down and waved his wand over the letter, drying the ink and causing it to fold into thirds. He reached up and grabbed one of the candles illuminating his desk in the Ravenclaw boys dormitory and tilted it over the letter so a small puddle of wax dripped onto it's surface, over the edge of the top-flap of the folded parchment. The candle was returned to its holder while Harry reached into the box of writing supplies at the edge of his desk and pulled out a wax seal stamp. He pressed it into the puddle, holding it for a moment, and then rocking it back our.
The stamp featured the runic symbol sowilo. He'd actually seen the stamp for sale in a shop at some point, along with all of the other major runes, but this one in particular had caught his fancy, because it was the same shape as his scar and he found that mildly amusing.
The wax fully hardened a moment later and Harry picked the letter up and turned in his chair so he was facing the empty space between he and Tom's bed's. Tom was laying in his bed, his back propped up against a small mountain of pillows at the headboard, and with a book resting against one leg that he had bent up across the other. The book in question was one of the few Necromancy grimoires that Harry had bothered to bring to Hogwarts. Tom had taken to reading through it whenever there was a block of time guaranteed to have no other students about in their dorm.
It just so happened that there was a Ravenclaw Quidditch practice going on at the moment, and the rest of their dorm mates had all opted to go and watch.
"Done?" Tom asked casually, not bothering to take his eyes away from the book, as he flipped another page in the book.
"Yup," Harry said before calling out, "Dobby!"
A couple moments later there was a Pop sound, followed immediately by the appearance of the wrinkled little house elf Harry had acquired from Lucius a year earlier.
"Master has called for Dobby?!" the little elf exclaimed excitedly.
"Yes, Dobby. I need you to deliver this letter to Lucius Malfoy," Harry said, handing the letter down tot he elf. "I don't want to risk using regular owl post. You can stay there and wait for a reply. I'd prefer to hear back as soon as possible. Obviously, make sure there's no one besides Dom and I around when you return."
"Yes Master!" the elf replied enthusiastically, accepting the letter, bowing deeply, and then disappearing with another pop.
"Hopefully we'll find out from Lucius who might have the book as soon as possible, and get this whole thing sorted out quickly," Tom said with a sigh, setting the book down on the bed beside him.
"Yeah… it's been three whole days since Halloween, and I'm getting antsy with the lack of progress," Harry replied.
It was a mere five minutes before Dobby returned, and when he reappeared, he looked utterly defeated. His back was hunched and his head bowed low, with his eyes seeming to sag even worse than usual. He looked like a kicked puppy, and Harry couldn't help but wonder what the bloody hell was wrong with the little runt.
"D-dobby i-is so s-sorry M-m-master," he whimpered out. "Dobby wasn't able t-to f-fullfill M-master's o-orders!" he ended with a sobbing wail as he broke down onto his knees, with great heaving breaths and bit fat tears.
"Bloody hell," Harry exclaimed as he jumped out of bed and went over to the elf, now wailing about on the floor in the center of their dormitory.
Tom raised his wand and cast a spell towards the door to block any sound from getting out of the room. They always kept a localized muffling charm around their two beds, but the elf wasn't within that ward now, and the last thing they wanted was someone coming to investigate the noise.
"Dobby! Dobby!" Harry yelled, trying to get the sobbing creatures attention. "Shut up!" he said finally, and the elf's cries subsided into stuttering hiccoughs.
"Merlin's beard, what the devil is wrong with that thing?" Tom exclaimed, glaring towards the house elf.
"Dobby, just tell me what happened," Harry said in as patient a voice as he could manage, given the circumstances.
"M-Master told Dobby to give the letter to Master Lucius," Dobby said between sniffles. "But Dobby couldn't find master Lucius."
Harry's brows furrowed and he glanced over towards Tom, the two sharing a momentary confused look.
"Oh—kay…" Harry said in a drawn out town. "Do you have any idea why you couldn't find him?"
"M-mistress Narcissa said he's in France!" Dobby exclaimed, looking as if this news signaled the coming end times.
"France?" Harry echoed almost incredulously.
Dobby sniffled some more and reached into his pillowcase tunic and pulled out two letters. One was the letter that Harry had given him earlier, but the other one, Dobby extended towards Harry now. "Mistress Narcissa said to give you this," he said.
Harry took it, looking at it curiously as he broke the seal and unfolded the letter. His eyes skimmed over the surface as Tom looked on impatiently.
"Well?" Tom asked, clearly annoyed.
Harry heaved a frustrated sigh. "Lucius went to France because the head of the Malfoy family branch there, died. It's resulted in a dispute over succession for the position as Head of House. Apparently there are two different blokes, both insisting they have an equal claim to the seat, as well as the primary titles and holdings that come along with it. Lucius has gone over to act as an intermediary of sorts, along with the family solicitor. Cissy doesn't expect him back until December 1st."
"You have got to be kidding," Tom drawled flatly.
"I wish I was." Harry moved back to his bed and sat down on it roughly, tossing Narcissa's letter aside. "I'm still not willing to say anything sensitive via owl, and especially not an owl that has to pass through the international post customs. But perhaps we could send a strongly worded recommendation that he get his arse back to England."
"Any correspondence of that sort would raise questions if ever discovered. And we know there are people who keep a close eye on Lucius due to his past associations with me," Tom said, shaking his head. "The possibility always exists that the letter could be intercepted. Even if it weren't, if anyone were to get the impression that Lucius ended his trip to France early, just because you asked him to come back… well, it would certainly raise some eyebrows."
"Are you suggestion we wait?" Harry asked, almost incredulously. "That's a whole month!"
"And there is virtually no chance of the diary absorbing enough energy from it's host to pull off another full possession in such a short span of time. We can continue to explore other avenues to determine who has the book while we wait for him to return to Great Britain on his own."
"What other avenues? This was the last one I had in mind," Harry asked.
"Harry, that diary is holding a piece of my soul. Can you honestly think of no way to try and track it down, given our combined skills? Seeing as how it's my soul, and you're a bloody necromancer. Nothing comes to mind?" Tom asked with a rather deadpanned expression.
Harry paused. "Oh," he said slowly, feeling rather foolish. "I suppose you've got a point."
"We've got time. We'll find the book, and if we don't, Lucius will be back soon enough that we should still be able to get it back before another incident occurs."
Harry heaved a sigh, but nodded. "Yeah, okay. I guess I'm just feeling really high strung over this. It just came out of no where. I hadn't planned for anything like this disrupting our plans so much."
"It's hardly like we have a plan in the first place, Harry. We're just going through the motions, as far as I can see. The 'plan' doesn't seem to extend any further than 'pretend to be students and try not to fall under too much scrutiny from Dumbledore. Aside from that, anything else is just filling time."
"So your weekly meetings with Snape to study the elixir are just filling time?" Harry asked.
"Basically," Tom rolled his eyes. "It's not like we've accomplished anything, anyway."
"Well, you've barely been doing it a month. Oh hey!" Harry turned and focused on Dobby again, who still looked like a guilty puppy, waiting for a scolding - or a good kick - from his master. "Dobby, we're running low on Elixir! Since I've got you here anyway, could you pop back to the house and check the collection bowl beneath the stone and bring me what's gathered?"
The house elf perked up instantly, clearly happy to have a new order to distract him from his failure in carrying out the last.
"Yes, Master Harry! Dobby will be doing it right now!" And with that, Dobby popped away.
"I don't need any right away, you know," Tom said.
"Yeah, but I needed him to get over the letter thing, or else he'll just go back to the house and start ironing his hands."
"Your house elf is completely mental, you know that don't you?"
Harry chuckled and shrugged. "Yes. But he's loyal. I seem to recall a number of your followers resembling that pattern as well."
"At least my loyal followers were wizards."
"Never under-estimate the power of a house elf."
AN: The last batch of chapters were basically all posted in one day, so I've spoiled you lot. Unfortunately, this is as far as I've gotten so far, so you're in for another wait. Hopefully I'll get more time to write more and get some more chapters posted eventually.