Hi guys! I'm back! Significantly faster than last time too! Let's celebrate! Anyways, I would like to thank you all for your reviews, favorites and alerts. It, along with another factor, more on that in a sec, is what keeps me motivated to write on this, even when I get stuck or run out of inspiration. Now, that other factor. I've found myself a new, and quite frankly awesome, Beta. I'm talking about MsCalypso, who has been magnificent as far as getting me to write and discussing story elements with go. In exchange, I've been helping out with her fic, Fleur De La Mer, which you should all definitely check out. It has a very different style and target audience than HPatEC, but as far as the writing itself goes, it is without a doubt infinitely better than my own works. So yeah, go check that out, if it's not your thing, that's fine, and if it is, you're welcome.
Finally, I'd like to thank you all once again, now go read the chapter, and enjoy!
"You can't dodge him! He's too bloody fast! I told you this last round and now I'm telling you again. Dud, your only real chance is to go Mike Tyson on this guy and just go out there and start clobbering. You're stronger and more durable, just punch him into the ground before he wears you out!" Harry Potter spoke swiftly as he dabbed at the small cut in his cousins left eyebrow with a wet cotton pad.
Dudley spat out his mouth guard before replying, "I told you already, Coach Anderson said I can't keep relying on that. I need to be better at dodging if I want to get into the Juniors."
Harry tossed aside the cotton pad he'd been using before using his one hand to grip Dudley's shoulder, "Dudley, in all the years you know me, in all the boxing matches we've watched together, have I ever been wrong when predicting the outcome?"
Dudley snorted, causing a pained grimace to appear on his face, "Well, you were wrong about 'Thunder Meets Lightning'."
A scowl appeared on Harry's face, "Damn you Duva," the one-armed fourteen year old muttered in frustration, "Still, that's only one match. It's your fight Dud, so it's your call. I just want you to win."
The next round was about to begin, and Harry put in Dudley's mouthpiece before the bigger boy could respond, "Go get him!" Harry shouted, and the fight was on again.
"Can you get me some ice to put on my eye? This bag isn't cold anymore." A beaten and bruised Dudley Dursley asked his cousin, as he slowly clambered into the car, extremely sore from the fight he'd almost lost two hours ago.
"I told you already Dudley," Harry said as he smoothly slid in the car beside his cousin, "I can't use any magic whatsoever until I get the all clear from Hogwarts. It needs to recover from the strain I put it under."
Dudley snorted derisively, "That sounds like the advice they'd give a twelve year old who's just discovered wanking!"
Aunt Petunia let out a shrill "Dudley!", but Uncle Vernon loudly spoke up before his son could reply.
"How could you possibly strain your magic? Do they have a measurement system for how much magic you have? Poppycock I tell you!" Vernon spoke before starting the car in order to drive his family home.
"I would compare it with a sink, Uncle. The tap is open and water keeps flowing into the sink constantly. However, put too much water in, and the sink overflows, and the water that flows over the edge is lost. The same thing happens to magic, a wizard only has a limited reservoir available in which he can pool his magic. Once that reservoir is full, any additional magic the wizard produces is lost. When you do use magic that has the same effect as when you pull out the stop out of the sink, and water flows out, which allows you to do magic. When you finish, the stop goes back in, and the sink slowly starts to fill up again." Harry explained thoughtfully, trying to put a complex magical theory in the simplest terms he could manage.
"The speed at which water comes out of the tap is directly related to the amount of water still in the sink. The more there is, the faster the water flows in. If the sink is ever emptied to the last drop, and you try to do anything more, the sink can break. It might just be a small tear, leaking only a drop of water each day. But the sink can also shatter into pieces, costing you your magic for the rest of your life. This is why I need to rest my magic, so it can be restored to a non-threatening level and thus neutralizing the risk of it being permanently damaged." Harry continued, gazing out the window pensively even as Uncle Vernon drove on.
"So even your kind has to follow some rules then?" Uncle Vernon asked interestedly, looking at Harry via the rearview mirror.
"Of course, even magic has limitations. Well, that is to say, our ability to use magic consciously has limits. There are plenty of things in the magical world we have no explanations for. But we, wizards and witches, are bound by basic magical theory just as all humans are bound by the laws of physics." Harry patiently clarified, slightly curious at his Uncle's interest.
"So, is there any way for me to make it impossible for one of your kind to do magic?" Vernon asked in a neutral tone.
Harry lifted an eyebrow in surprise, "Well, I guess there is, but why do you want to know this, Uncle?"
"Well, this Lord Volderwart is back now, isn't he? We should be able to defend ourselves if we run into him and his folk!" Vernon harrumphed loudly, as he was forced to brake when another car cut him off.
"If you ever do get attacked Uncle, your best bet would be to get out of there and try to contact me as soon as you possibly can. If fleeing is not an option, I'd suggest hiding and trying to break or take the wands of the enemy wizards when an opportunity arises. Attacking from behind and knocking them out would also prove rather effective." Harry patiently explained, realizing that his Uncle had a fair point.
He'd have to see about getting his family a means by which to contact him in case of emergency.
Of course, he'd be around for the rest of the summer to keep an eye on things, but after that, he'd be going back to Hogwarts and an owl wasn't exactly the fastest means of communication.
"Oh and Uncle, it's Voldemort, not Volderwart. Calling the most powerful Dark Lord in the world Volderwart isn't exactly a healthy habit to have." Harry added nonchalantly, grinning in amusement at the mere thought of Voldemort finding out he was being called Volderwart by a bunch of filthy Muggles.
"Voldemort, Volderwart, what does it matter what I call the lunatic? That can't possibly be his real name anyways!" Uncle Vernon spoke loudly in the front, and Harry realized this would be one argument he wasn't going to win. So he just chuckled before looking out the window once again, thinking on methods for his family to contact him in case of emergencies.
I will be coming on the 17th to pick you up at Privet Drive. I have found a place where you can dedicate as much time as you wish to study and research the potential healing of your arm.
You will not be returning to Privet Drive for the remainder of summer, please keep this in mind so that you might say your goodbyes in appropriate fashion.
As for where exactly you will be spending the remainder of summer, that is not the kind of information I can casually put into a letter. I can tell you that there will be a rather fascinating library, and plenty of company of both the 'you can learn from them' and 'your age group' kind.
Until the 17th I must say to you,
P.S. Do you see what I did there? I picked up that rather amusing pun when I was visiting an old friend of mine on the continent a few days ago, although I might not say friend so much as- Oh pardon me Harry, I do get carried away sometimes. Perhaps another time. Enjoy your time at Privet Drive.
"Why in the name of Merlin's pink boxers can't I return to Privet Drive for the remainder of summer?" Harry asked his empty room once he'd finished reading the letter that had been waiting for him on his desk.
"I like spending time here! Why can't I just spend my days in this supposedly amazing library, and my nights right here, hanging out with Dudley and watching TV with Uncle? This just doesn't make sense!" Harry continued, unaware he was still speaking out loud.
"Fawkes' Greybeard will surely have a good reason Harry. You shouldn't doubt him when he hasn't had the chance to truly explain his actions yet." Hedwig thought loudly, getting Harry to turn around and face her.
"And yet he is apparently incapable of putting that in a letter? I'll give Albus the benefit of the doubt of course, but if it turns out that there's no valid reason for me to stay away from this place… He can be damn sure that I'll be coming here to spend my evenings!" Harry loudly stated, not at all pleased at the idea of having to leave Privet Drive after a measly two weeks of vacation.
"You should not be so hasty with your words Harry, arrogance suits you ill."
Harry didn't dignify that with a response, instead looking up in surprise as a motion outside of his window drew his attention. An owl was rapidly approaching Harry's window. And if he wasn't terribly mistaken, the collar it was wearing bore the colors of house Longbottom.
Dread clutched at Harry's heart. Neville wasn't supposed to send a letter for another couple of days at least. Draco on the other hand…
Oh god I can't do this. I can't do this. I really can't do this. I'm going to die horribly. He's going to rip out my eyes and peel off my skin. He's going to drown me in a pool of acid. I'll be speared by a trident. I'll be burned alive and get eaten by pigs. I can't do this. I'm going to die. I don't want to die. I have to run while I still can. Maybe I can flee to Cuba, we don't have an extradition treaty with them!
Draco's thoughts were going a mile a minute, but he couldn't allow that to show on his face. So while he was panicking on the inside, he looked his usual collected self as he turned to Neville and spoke calmly, "I am ready. I'm going to challenge Lucius and take my rightful position as the Head of House Malfoy. Wish me luck Neville, for when you next see me, I'll be a Lord."
Before Neville could even finish saying, "Good luck, Draco." The blonde was already stepping into Longbottom Manor's fireplace, Floo powder firmly in hand.
"Malfoy Manor!" Draco barked, disappearing in a swirl of green flames.
He calmly stepped out into the familiar foyer, where he'd spent hours reading and listening as his father taught him about the Wizarding World. Lessons he'd since sworn off, Hogwarts and his friends having taught him the truth of the prejudices he'd been indoctrinated with in this very room.
It felt odd, both nostalgic and disgusting, to be back here now. For a second, Draco considered tucking his tail between his legs and fleeing. How simple it would be to go back and claim that Lucius had beaten him, barely allowing him to leave with his life.
But that was not what he was here for. He might not be a Gryffindor, but Draco had courage of his own. Today, everyone who'd mocked him, who'd spat at him, who'd wished him harm, would be proven wrong. He was going to confront his father, and he was going to claim the Headship of House Malfoy.
Not knowing his father's routine like he once did, Draco loudly called out for a house elf, "Glynda!"
With a soft pop, Glynda appeared next to Draco, "Master Draco, you should not be here! Master Lord Malfoy has cast you out! You should leave before he sees you! He is not in a good mood!" She spoke hurriedly, anxiously wringing her hands together.
Draco was not in the mood for formalities, he simply asked, "Where is he, Glynda?"
The tiny elf frowned, "Master Lord Malfoy is in the garden, feeding his peacocks. You should leave Master Draco, before it is too late."
Draco frowned deeply, "Unfortunately Glynda, that advice is years too late already. Return to your duties, my father and I have business to take care of."
Knowing where to go, Draco headed for the gardens. How fortunate that his father was feeding his peacocks. An extra dose of that poison Neville had arranged for wouldn't hurt. If Draco could just last long enough against his father, he should stand a chance.
Grandly throwing open the doors to the garden, Draco immediately spotted the figure of his father. Lucius Malfoy was kneeling with his back turned to Draco, petting one of his white peacocks. To Draco's surprise, Lucius was wearing his Death Eater garb.
Remaining unnoticed, Draco observed his father more closely. After a few seconds, he saw a small spasm wrack his father's figure. No. No way. He wasn't that lucky. A few seconds passed, and Lucius jerked again. Yes. He really was that lucky.
His father had just returned from Voldemort's side, and apparently he'd been on the receiving end of a Cruciatus curse, leaving him pained, sore and weakened. Draco couldn't have timed his visit any better.
"On your knees again father? I thought that position was meant for Mudbloods and blood traitors?" Draco asked arrogantly, as he gazed at his father, who tensed at his son's voice. If he could get his father angry before the actual duel started, it would only help his odds.
"Draco." Lucius acknowledged as he slowly stood up, turning around to face his son.
"What is it father, no mocking words? No bigoted bits of wisdom to impart? Have you no words for your beloved son?" Draco taunted, placing special emphasis on the 'beloved'.
"Why have you come here boy? Would you really have me kill my own seed?" Lucius asked coolly, one hand slipping casually into his robes, undoubtedly grabbing his wand.
"I have come here to relieve our House from your corrupting leadership!" Draco spoke loudly, his heart jumping into his throat, "I challenge you to a House duel for the Headship of the Most Ancient and Most Noble House of Malfoy! May our magic decide who is worthiest!"
The old phrasing having rolled off of his tongue remarkably well, Draco tensed up. It was about to begin. His father had no other way but to answer the challenge, and once he did, the duel would begin.
"Very well, I had hoped you might one day see the error of your ways, but it seems that there truly is no saving you. It truly is a shame that I will have to spill pure blood, but your consorting with Mudbloods and blood traitors has undoubtedly defiled it, anyways, I accept." Lucius spoke frostily, his eyes piercing Draco with their intensity.
It felt as if a cobra was staring him down, Draco would later reflect, when he met his father's gaze one last time. And with a smooth pull, Lucius fired off a Killing Curse.
For a split second, Draco froze, his father was actively aiming to kill him! He'd known that it would come to this, but knowing and actually witnessing were nevertheless entirely different things. The man who'd sat him on his knee, who'd bought him all his heart desired. The man who'd formed him from a babe into a worthy scion, who'd trained him to be the best he could be. That man was trying to kill him. Despite everything, Draco felt a small pang in his heart, as the last remnant of hope he'd held that there might be a reconciliation someday, was shattered into a million pieces.
Ducking to the side, Draco shot back a Stunner. Lucius didn't even bother to move, catching Draco's attack with a lazy Protego.
"Truly Draco, for all your bluster, I was expecting a little more than schoolyard spells. Observe." Lucius spoke almost, sounding almost insulted, before moving again.
A Crucio, a Killing Curse, a Bombarda Maxima, a Confringo and a Confundus were sent at Draco in rapid succession, who scrambled to the right to dodge the Unforgiveables, before being forced to pull up a large chunk of the ground in front of him, leaving behind a crater. Chunks of earth were sent flying away as the spells impacted.
Already panting, Draco returned fire with a strong Banisher, Corpae Exumae, and a sneaky Colloshoo, meant to glue his father's shoes to the ground, but both attacks were casually batted aside with a slanted shield.
Lucius started circling his wand above his head, and Draco watched on in horror as a raven was conjured with every rotation.
Firing off his strongest Incendio, sending a large fireball flying out of his wand, Draco remained on the offensive, casting an Everte Statum to throw his father backwards which he followed up with another Stunner. As his father's ravens were fried by Draco's Incendio, Lucius sidestepped the other spells.
Another volley of spells came flying at Draco, these decidedly darker than the previous ones. The only ones Draco recognized were an Organ-Liquefying curse and a Bone-Breaker. Borrowing a page from Harry's book, Draco hurriedly cast a Deprimo at the ground beneath him, creating a foxhole just deep enough for his father's spells to fly over his head.
He retaliated with spells meant to annoy his father, who was showing disturbingly few signs of the poison that should be affecting him. That was not good. He needed Lucius to be weakened, he couldn't fight him on fair terms, he'd die!
Draco's volley of spells was childish, but it was numerous and Lucius couldn't risk letting any of them through. Steleus, Tarantallegra, Rictusempra, Silencio, Petrificus Totalus, Locomotor Wibbly, any spell that popped into Draco's head was sent flying at his father, who was forced to pull up multiple shields, each one shattering under the simple onslaught of spells that came flying at him.
Finally, his father cast his strongest shield, which held out under Draco's unrelenting attack with little effort, "Is this all you can do Draco? The spells of an untalented child? I am done playing around with you boy, now, you die!" Lucius called out dismayed and angrily at his son.
With a loudly shouted "Tempesta Ignis," a firestorm came raging out of Lucius' wand, destroying Draco's petty spells without any effort. Draco dropped to his knees, huddling in his foxhole, as the fire raged over him burning everything around him to crisp. There went the carefully planted garden. As he could feel the flames sear his back, Draco pointed his wand towards where he expected his father's peacocks to be, "Oppugno!" He bellowed, barely heard over the roaring flames which wouldn't let up, and which were burning his back severely.
Casting his strongest Aguamenti straight upwards, more to save his back than from any hopes of actually overcoming his father's spell.
Pouring as much of his power into his Aguamenti as he could, Draco could feel the sweat dripping down his face. He couldn't keep this up for much longer. Already, this fight had taken so much out of him. He was running out of time.
Suddenly, the flames disappeared, his father apparently having stopped his spell. Popping his head up out of cover, Draco happily noted that Lucius' peacocks were attacking their master unrelentingly, pecking furiously at any part of their lord's body they could reach. His Oppugno had worked!
Transfiguring a clump of earth that lay nearby into a dog, without actually changing the material, leaving the dog to be made of earth, rather than actual flesh and bones, Draco sent it charging in as well. He needed to use this momentum to settle the fight once and for all. Piercing Spells were Draco's chosen method. They had the best chance of leaving his army of animals unharmed, so that they too could keep fighting.
Lucius let out an angry roar as his peacocks kept pecking him, before pointing his wand straight upwards and firing off a spell. A sphere of acid flew upwards, at least five feet wide. Lucius cast an Impervius Spell on himself the moment the sphere hit its highest point.
Even as Draco's transfigured dog went charging in, two Piercing Spells flying overhead, Lucius Malfoy's beloved peacocks died horrible deaths as they were hit by their master's conjured acid.
Even as Lucius looked up, one of the Piercing Spells managed to hit him in the left shoulder, forcing him to switch wand hands just as he managed to deflect the second one.
Lucius retaliated with a Killing Curse, but to Draco's surprise, it went flying wide, missing him by at least three feet. So the Rumpling-Sap was finally kicking in! Finally! It was about damn time for his ace in the hole to save him!
With a grin, Draco fired off a Depulso, which caught his father in the chest, throwing him into the air and onto the ground, just in time for Draco's dog to leap onto Lucius and start mauling him.
Still Lucius was not defeated, as evidenced by the loud explosion which ripped Draco's transfigured dog apart. A wave of pressure was sent flying at him, and he could do nothing but once again cower in his foxhole, which allowed him to escape relatively unscathed.
Peeking out again, Draco grinned maliciously as he saw his father wobbling on his feet, a pained spasm wracking his body, almost sending him to the ground. He could win this!
"Perhaps I should have told you this before father," Draco stated arrogantly as he stepped out of his foxhole, casually sending a banisher at his father, which knocked the senior Malfoy onto his ass, "Your peacocks have been poisoning you for months now. I've been planning this for a long time father, and you never noticed!"
Lucius fired a Crucio, but again it wasn't well-aimed, and Draco was able to neatly sidestep it, even as he stepped ever closer to his father.
"You cast me out of our family for being a blood traitor and for being weak, and yet I've played you and beaten you at your own game!" Draco gloated mercilessly, casually firing a Diffindo at Lucius, large bloody gashes appearing on his father's chest.
"And now, I'll kill you," Draco spoke, languidly strolling over to his father, casting an Expelliarmus and a Petrificus Totalus when it appeared that Lucius was going to attack again.
Pulling his father upright, Draco stared smugly at the man who'd raised him. Casually dispelling the Petrificus as he placed his wand under his father's chin, Draco grinned maliciously, "Any last words, father?"
Lucius panted as he stared at his son, blinking heavily, the poison obviously being extremely efficient if Draco was so difficult to see clearly, even from such a small distance.
"You-" Lucius managed to get out, despite his lack of breath, "will regret this."
Before Draco could react, Lucius broke free with a brisk move, hurriedly he grabbed onto his Dark Mark, spinning away from his son's grasping fingers.
Even as Draco hurriedly shouted, "Stupe-" Lucius disapparated.
"NO!" Draco shouted furiously, a terrible anger taking him over immediately.
Draco swore loudly. His father had fled! How could he have let this happen! He'd had him at his mercy! Disarmed, poisoned, and still suffering the aftereffects of Voldemort's Crucio!
Angrily, Draco turned towards the doors to the Manor. He'd take care of the ruin his garden had been left in later. He needed to contact Neville, and have word sent to the Goblins as soon as possible to have his position as the new Head of House affirmed.
Suddenly, Draco became aware of the burn wounds on his back, pain almost crippling his burned body. He sagged to his knees as adrenaline wore off and exhaustion and pain set in fully.
Maybe he'd have to do this a bit differently after all, he obviously wouldn't be able to move all that much for the next couple of hours, "Glynda!" Draco shouted, the house elf appearing next to him.
"Master Draco! You are hurt!" The elf anxiously said as soon as it appeared, gazing at her masters back in horror.
"Glynda, I need you to go to Longbottom Manor, get me Neville Longbottom. And go and fetch my mother, would you?" Draco ordered as he slowly stood up again, he'd try to reach the sitting room, so he could at least lay down comfortably.
Glynda frowned, "Mistress Narcissa isn't here Master Draco, Glynda doesn't know where she is. "
Draco's eyes widened in surprise, "Get me Neville then. And hurry!"
If Glynda couldn't get his mother, then where could she possibly be?
And done. You like? I hope you like. I Don't really have much else to say this time around. Check out FDLM, (Fleur De La Mer, oh yeah, I'm shortening it, deal with it,) please review, I hope you enjoyed the chapter, and I hope to see you again for chapter 41, of which I have yet to write a single word.
Peeves' Best Friend