Title: Year One: The Philosopher's Stone (Ch. 10/20)

Series: The Letter Series (Year 1/7)

Author: Synteis

Beta: Mako-chan

Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.

Pairing: Harry/Draco in the future, mentions of others

Rating: PG-13 for now

Warnings: Slytherin!Harry, AU.

Summary: Harry doesn't bring his Hogwarts letter into the kitchen and hides it from his aunt and uncle instead. One small decision changes the course of his life. Slytherin!Harry, eventually Harry/Draco (circa book four or five) and mentor!Snape.

Chapter Ten: The Nimbus Two-Thousand

Harry was smiling but sleepy when woke up the next morning. Bear had decided to sleep in, so Harry went down to breakfast without his company. Draco was also excited. When they came down for breakfast, Draco got a package in the mail, as he often did, but instead of being from his mother it was from his father. To Harry's surprise, he also received a package. It was a long, slender package at one end that gradually tapered into a wide fan-shape—in other words, a broom! Furthering along Harry's surprise, the broom was accompanied by a letter from Draco's father. A look over at the blond showed Harry that his friend was smiling indulgently at him.

"Well, go on; open it."

It was clear that Draco was waiting for Harry to read the letter and open his package before Draco would say anything.

Dear Mr. Potter,

Having heard much about you from our son, my wife and I are pleased to find that he has made such a good friend so quickly. Congratulations on being sorted into the prestigious House of Salazar Slytherin. My son has also informed me that you were unfortunately raised by Muggles that have deprived you of your rich heritage as a member of the Potter family, but that he is working diligently to improve your knowledge of Wizarding culture and traditions. I have encouraged his efforts and would be happy to respond to any questions he is unable to answer.

I would also like you to know that my wife and I, along with many others, campaigned that you might be placed in a nurturing environment with people of your own kind after the unfortunate death of your parents. Sadly, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore—who was still riding the prestige he had obtained after his defeat of the Dark Lord Grindewald—said that he had found blood relatives for you to live with and won approval from the Ministry to place you with them.

I have also heard from Draco that you have been placed on the Slytherin Quidditch team as Seeker and that Draco may also become a member of the team this year. When he told me that you had no broom to play with, and knowing you had no appropriate guardian to handle your monetary affairs in our world, I inquired into your situation with Professor Snape. After your financial affairs were reviewed by the goblins, he discovered that your scholastic funding included the purchase of a broomstick. If you would like to know more information about said affairs, Professor Snape or I would be happy to look them over with you and assist you in this area, much as my son has been helping you in others.

As I am a member of the Hogwarts Board of Governors—and in light of the recent change in policy—we agreed that First Years should now be permitted racing brooms. As such, Professor Snape approved that I might acquire on your behalf a broom in time for your first practice. I have not used the provided monies; however, my family and I would be pleased for you to accept this small token of recognition and future friendship with our family. Although you were stripped of the ability to have a broom of your own choosing, I believe that a Nimbus Two Thousand, as a premier racing broom, will more than suit your needs. I wish you an excellent first year at Hogwarts.

I fully expect that I will continue to hear great things about you.

Sincerely,

Lucius Malfoy

Lord of Malfoy Manor

Harry looked around in shock, searching for Professor Snape. When he caught the professor's gaze, he noticed a twitch in his mouth that Harry thought might be a smile. Harry knew that his own face was hurting he was grinning so much. He turned then to look at Draco who looked extremely pleased with himself.

"Well, go on then, Harry; open it," Draco said, almost bursting with excitement.

Harry turned to look now at the package. He ran his hands over the crisp edges and smooth lines; he felt the weight of it in his hands. He had never gotten a present like this before, even if it was supposed to be from his trust fund. Going to Diagon Alley for his birthday had been the first time he'd ever gotten any sort of present at all, even if it was just discovering that magic was real. But now, Mr. Malfoy had thought of him when Draco had told him that Harry had been made Seeker. Harry wondered if Draco had asked his father to do so, but he ultimately decided that he didn't want to know. In any event, in order for Mr Malfoy to have asked Professor Snape to look over his finances, Mr. Malfoy must have been thinking about doing so for a while.

Harry decided that he could think about it later. He focused instead on slowly taking off the pieces of tape that were holding the brown paper down.

"Hurry up, Harry, there's no need to worry about tearing that paper. Quality Quidditch Supplies just uses it protect the box itself," said Draco.

Harry was about to respond but Millicent beat him to it. "Let him enjoy unwrapping his package. Some of us don't get packages in the mail every day," she said.

Draco looked up at her and was clearly about to argue, but Harry—who was glad that Millicent said what he thought he might have been too afraid to say—interjected, "We'll be the fastest on the team with these brooms, Draco. We'll have to practice tonight and every other evening before the try-outs so that we can get used to them. I can't imagine what flying on a racing broom will be like, especially compared to the ones that we've been practicing on."

Draco, successfully distracted but still not having started opening his package, began instead to enthusiastically describe his plans for the try-outs. Harry, with a full belly, surrounded by his friends and a Nimbus Two Thousand in his hands, smiled.

By the time that Harry had removed the brown paper without tearing it, Draco was winding down. Harry carefully eased off the paper, still not believing what he was holding in his hands. But the box shone and across the top in red was written "Nimbus Two Thousand." Everyone at the table oohed when Draco ripped off his paper to reveal the long, thin case. For all that, Draco had been pestering Harry about opening his package quickly, now they were both carefully lifting the lid of their case, trying not to ruin it.

At last the case was opened and the most wonderful broom that Harry had ever seen, though he knew very little about different broomsticks, was revealed. It was sleek and shiny with a mahogany handle and had a long tail of neat, straight twigs and Nimbus Two Thousand written in gold near the top.

Everyone wanted to touch it or hold it, even Pansy who hated Quidditch. She said that it was the value of the broom and the craftsmanship that made it impressive enough for her to look at it. Her words made something turn in Harry's stomach. He wondered how much money Mr. Malfoy had really spent and worried about what his offer might have meant. For all that Harry wished he could take all of Mr. Malfoy's words as he had when he had first read the letter, he knew that doing so was unwise. It left him with a dilemma.

Harry kept thinking about his dilemma as he and Draco walked quickly back down to the dungeons to leave their new brooms in their dormitory. Draco kept up a constant stream of chatter and was excited enough that he didn't seem to notice that Harry was pre-occupied. Harry found that he had difficulty letting go of his broom for fear that if he let go it might disappear.

Even Draco seemed reluctant to leave it after having gotten it so soon, pausing in the doorway to take one last look after another. In the end, it was Blaise, who often missed breakfast, that had to drag them away, muttering all the while about them being Quidditch mad already.

#

Harry kept thinking and worrying about Mr. Malfoy's letter throughout the rest of the day. Thankfully, he had flying with Draco that evening to distract him.

After dinner, as promised, he and Draco took to the skies. The broom was unlike anything he had ever flown before. It was so sensitive to his touch that it seemed Harry only had to think of where he wished to be and his broom would take him there. In addition, he could turn the tightest corners and change from accelerating to decelerating at an incredible rate. Harry climbed into the sky until he felt his ears pop in just under a minute. It was beyond Harry's wildest dreams and it seemed Draco's too.

After a half hour of practicing, Harry caught Draco's eye. Suddenly, they were racing each other, trying to catch the other one in increasingly elaborate games of tag. After their fifth round, it developed into Draco teaching Harry dives, diversions and dips. Harry couldn't remember the last time he had laughed so hard or smiled so hard in his life. Even Draco, who was normally very sensitive to being beaten, only laughed when Harry caught him at tag and cheered when Harry dived lower than he had been comfortable doing.

When at last they decided that they were done for the night, their bodies were drenched in sweat and their faces as red as the setting sun. They could barely feel their hands and their faces seemed stuck in a smile. When they entered the common room, everyone wanted to know what the brooms had felt like. Harry left Draco to his adoring audience once it became clear that he would be talking for a while. His shower felt wonderful and his muscles hurt in all the best ways.

Unwilling to go back to the chaos of the common room and his mind once more distracted by Mr. Malfoy's letter, Harry sat down on his bed and polished his broom instead. After circling around his thoughts several times over, he was relieved to hear a knock on the door. To his surprise, it was Millicent. He stood at his doorway for a moment in shock.

"Well, aren't you going to let me in?" she said.

Harry, startled, immediately opened his door widely and motioned for her to come in. She pulled up on of the chairs while he sat on the bed.

"I heard that your broom came from Lucius Malfoy, Harry," she began.

"Yes, although he could have used the money that my parents had put away for a broom to pay for it, he didn't. Professor Snape was already planningto go with me to buy it, but since Mr. Malfoy was already going to get one for Draco, he offered to save Professor Snape the trip."

Millicent looked him in the eyes and held his gaze. "Lucius Malfoy is a very dangerous, very cunning man, Harry. You're the Boy-Who-Lived and Lucius Malfoy was never under the Imperius Curse, despite what was said at his trial. I've known him my entire life, although my family's line isn't nearly as prominent as his is. He's killed and tortured in the past and the only thing that he cares about is blood, family and knowledge. You need to step carefully around him, Harry, and be careful about accepting his gifts. If he can have you indebted to him and under his thumb, he will."

Harry felt his stomach twist at her words. He had been worrying about this all day but he had tried to push it to the side because he had wanted to believe that someone might be willing to do something like that for no reason other than to make his son and his new friend happy.

"Don't get me wrong. He's a good ally to have on your side if you can get him. He has lots of influence at the Ministry, a very impressive library and the cunning and the ambition to do whatever he feels is in his family and his best interest. But he won't become your ally unless you can impress him. He'll set you traps, he'll test you until he's certain that you're the right horse to back," Millicent continued.

Harry was beginning to feel overwhelmed. How on earth was he supposed to convince Draco's father that he was a worthy ally?

Millicent, who looked like she was about to continue, stopped when she saw his face. "Just take it one step at a time, Harry. You're only in first year so he won't have as high of an expectation. What did he say in the letter?"

"He said that he wanted to let me know that he was sorry that I had been raised by Muggles and that he had done all that he could to prevent it and that the blame rested with the Headmaster. He also told me that he'd encouraged Professor Snape to look over my financial records. But what I'm most worried about, especially after what you just told me, is that he offered to help me understand the report that the Goblins produced."

Millicent's face turned contemplative. "Well, Lucius Malfoy is certainly a very good investor and if he were giving you good advice, which he might believe to be in your best interest, you could certainly gain money. But showing him those records would also give him knowledge of what sort of artifacts and magical items your family possesses. At the same time, of course, it's also one of the best ways to gain his respect if you prove how competent, serious and cunning you are."

She looked at him again with consideration. "I would talk to Professor Snape, Harry. He's the one who will be able to look over those records with you and teach you something about the state of your estate and how to manage it. Professor Snape is an old friend of Lucius Malfoy's but he seems to like you well enough. Just remember to be on your guard with him. You have many people watching you, Harry, waiting for you to mess up or for their chance to take what you have. Don't let them."

She smiled then and added, "The war that Voldemort started is far from over. You have to decide if you'll stand in his place or Dumbledore's. I'm hoping that you'll make your own. I'll look forward to seeing what you'll accomplish, Harry."

With that last mysterious, and in Harry's opinion, far too demanding statement, Millicent left, leaving more problems in her wake than had been there to begin with. Harry sighed, finished polishing his broom and decided to meet with Professor Snape the next day for some advice. He walked down the stairs, out of his dormitory, carrying his homework. He dropped it off at his usual table, before quickly writing a letter to Professor Snape and hurrying to the Owlery to give it to Hedwig. By the time that he'd come back down, his usual study group was bemoaning History of Magic. Harry couldn't help but feel when Draco gestured to him at once that despite everything, Slytherin wasn't bad at all.

#

When Harry sat down for breakfast the next day, he discovered that Professor Snape wouldn't be able to see him until Monday during tea. Harry had been purposely vague in his letter about why he wanted the meeting and he knew that Professor Snape was still having his start of term meetings with his students. Harry understood the delay, but he was worried that if he waited that long to reply to Mr. Malfoy, he might offend him—which certainly wasn't what Millicent had recommended. In the end, he drafted a simple letter to Mr. Malfoy.

Dear Mr. Malfoy,

Thank you for going to the trouble of buying me a broomstick. I'm glad that Draco is as pleased to be my friend as I am to be his. I would also like to thank you for your condolences about my parents. While it is true that I would have liked to have been raised in the Wizarding world, Draco has been teaching me Wizarding courtesy very well. As for your offer to help me understand my finances, I will be looking them over with Professor Snape at the beginning of next week so that I might have at least a basic understanding before I consult someone else about my affairs. Thank you for your offer. I will be certain to think of you when I go looking for such advice.

Sincerely,

Harry Potter

Potter Heir

As Harry had begun writing his letter at the breakfast table, Draco soon came over to investigate.

"What are you writing, Harry?"

Harry turned to look at Draco, smiling despite his worry. For all that Lucius Malfoy might be a potential enemy, Harry was glad that he had Draco as a friend. He would always be his first friend so Harry, despite knowing that it was a tremendous leap of faith, showed him both letters.

"Your father sent this to me along with my broom. I'm trying to draft a letter that sounds grateful but also intelligent. I don't want him thinking that I'm not good enough to be your friend, Draco."

Draco smiled at that but he was looking worried as he read through his father's letter.

"I wish that you'd shown this to me yesterday, Harry."

Harry looked down. "I wanted to spend yesterday enjoying our brooms instead of worrying about this. I wasn't sure if I was worried for nothing. There's still so much about Wizarding culture, especially purebloods like your family, that I don't understand, Draco. I was worried if I said anything, it might upset you."

Draco looked up sharply at him. "Harry, I love my father and I respect and trust him. But he always has to know the players in the game, has to test them. You don't have any strong authority figures in your life except Professor Snape, maybe, so he's testing you even though you're only eleven."

Harry was shocked at Draco's words. Draco always spoke with such reverence about his father that it made Harry wonder what had brought about this change of heart.

Draco continued. "Father knows that Dumbledore is hardly a suitable guardian and your Muggle relatives certainly are not. He just wants to know whether Professor Snape and you can handle it on your own or if you need his help."

Harry felt his heart sink a little. He wondered if Draco believed his father's story about the Imperius Curse. He wondered what he'd been taught by his parents other than his inappropriate use of the word Mudblood. At the same time, Harry knew that if his parents had been alive, he would have believed almost everything that they said. Draco believed that his father was a good man, and while Millicent hadn't said that he wasn't, Harry was certain that Hermione or Ron would disagree with Draco's opinion. But how much did they really know about him?

Harry doubted that either had ever met him, and it was obvious to Harry that Mr. Malfoy was a good if strict father to Draco. Draco clearly adored him and Millicent had said that family was one of the things that Lucius Malfoy valued most. While Harry disagreed with some of what Draco repeated as though straight from his father's lips, did he really know enough about this world to do that? He was learning more with every day and it was clear that there was more than one side to the conflict. Harry wondered if he could, as Millicent had suggested, find a way to create a middle ground that helped protect traditions without the blame and prejudice falling on the Muggle-borns.

Harry shook his head. Draco was still looking at him and was beginning to look slightly worried. Harry knew that it was no use running around in circles; he didn't have the knowledge or the experience to do anything like that now. But persuading Lucius Malfoy that he was intelligent and cunning enough that he should be treated with respect was a good plan. He turned to look at Draco.

"I don't think I really know how to let people take care of me, Draco. I want your father to respect me. I want to be a player in the game, not just his pawn. I want to make Slytherin proud. Will you help me?"

Draco broke out into a radiant smile. "We'll have to keep working on your lessons if that's what you want. Much as I would like it if you became my parents' ward, standing by yourself is a better goal for you. You'll need to make alliances of course. My mother calls it dancing and you need to know the right steps to play the game.

"It starts, of course, with the impression you make on the students and teachers here, although the impression you make on the Slytherin students is of course most important. Almost all of the cadets of the Dark families are within our House but there are a few that are not. The impression you make on the Light families is important, as well, but so long as you act gracious, intelligent and don't offend any of them, you should be fine this year."

Draco smiled again. "I've been trained for this my entire life, Harry. Malfoys are king makers, I'll just have to help you become one too. Now, on the subject of that letter, you're right to worry about his offer regarding your financials. Father is excellent with money, but you'll weaken his impression of you if you accept his offer. You'll have to find a better way of refusing him than this. It's much too obvious…"

Draco continued the discussion throughout the day and together they drafted and re-drafted letter after letter. Harry found that he sometimes had to put his foot down at some of Draco's suggestions, but, overall, Draco was more helpful than Harry had thought he would be. Harry was still a little unsure about sending the letter without showing it to Professor Snape but Draco didn't seem to trust Professor Snape entirely about matters like this.

"Professor Snape has been a friend of the family for a very long time, Harry. He's my godfather. We can trust him within the responsibilities of Head of House but anything more could put him in an unfortunate position with Father and could weaken your image. He'll help you with your financials, of course, but if he looks over the letter as well, Father will just think that he wrote it," Draco had said.

Harry wasn't certain but he decided that he couldn't imagine much that Professor Snape would change. The final copy of the letter, written in Harry's best hand after many attempts as he still wasn't very comfortable with a quill and ink read:

Dear Lord Malfoy,

I would like to thank you for your gift of the Nimbus 2000. It is beautiful, and I look forward to being able to use it at the first practice of the Slytherin Quidditch team. I am very honoured to hear that Draco is as pleased to be my friend as I am his.

I appreciate your condolences about my deceased parents and my unfortunate relatives. As I would have liked to have grown up in the Wizarding world, I find it very helpful that Draco is so willing to take time out of his studies to help me understand the things that I have missed.

As to your offer of assisting me in understanding the state of my affairs, I must respectfully decline at this time. Professor Snape has kindly agreed to do so—since he is on hand—and we will be doing so Monday afternoon. If we need any additional assistance, I hope that we can count on your vast knowledge in these matters. I do thank you for your offer and am honoured that you would give it so willingly.

I hope that I can do the great House of Slytherin proud and look forward to meeting you in the future.

Sincerely,

Harry Potter

Heir of the Potter Family

Harry gave it to Hedwig that night.

#

Saturday was a beautiful day. Harry had yet to hear back from Mr. Malfoy but found it hard to care. He wouldn't have to try out, but it would be his first time flying with the team. He would be helping evaluate those who were trying out to be back-up Seeker. They would seldom be able to play as no substitutions were allowed in Quidditch, but if he was injured and unable to make a game, they would play in his place. They had an entire reserve team in fact. The Slytherins were too cautious for anything else, but the reserve team also added incentive for those who were playing. Too many bad games and you could be replaced. The reason that Harry was excited however, aside from getting to fly on his new broom, was because Draco was going to be trying out for Chaser.

Thankfully, there didn't seem to be many students in the stands. Likely they had better things to do since most of the students who were trying out were in second or third year. Because of the new regulations, several first years had shown up as well: Theo, Vince and Greg. Although Theo was sporting a cocky grin, he seemed nervous to Harry, glancing repeatedly over at the two Beaters, Derek and Bole, who were thudding their bats into their hands threateningly. Slytherin needed most of a reserve team as well as a new Chaser, so Harry knew that Draco was in for a lot of competition.

"The first thing all of you need to remember is that Slytherin wins. We've won the House Cup for the past five years in a row and we will not be losing it this year. The only spot that we've got available on the regular team is a Chaser; the rest of you will be competing for positions on the reserve squad. If you perform well on the reserve squad and someone on the regular team preforms poorly, you may be given the opportunity to perform in their place for a match. The most important thing that all of you need to remember is that we won't be going easy on you today and we won't be going easy on you during practice should you be selected. We win because we work hard and we don't accept any whining or complaining." Marcus Flint paused and then shouted," is that understood?"

There was silence and Marcus Flint yelled even louder, "I said, is that understood, you brats?"

"Yes sir," the group said at once. Theo was trying hard not to look like he was ready to wet himself. Vince and Greg were as blank as they always were although they were looking longingly at the Beater bats. Harry wondered how Theo had made it into Slytherin if he couldn't keep his composure around Marcus Flint. Maybe he had been raised by parents who were less strict than Draco's.

Harry had a hard time imaging Draco not being respectful especially towards someone like Marcus Flint, who seemed he would be more likely to pick people who treated him with what he felt were the proper levels of respect. At the same time, Harry had heard Draco say some very rude things about people like Professor Quirrell. Perhaps Mr. Malfoy had taught Draco that respect in some cases could be lost. Not that Draco had ever said any of those things in Quirrell's hearing, Harry knew.

Marcus took the other students first on a series of laps around the pitch. Harry also participated as the rabbit although he didn't really have to. He enjoyed running too much not to have volunteered, however. Draco was doing alright, certainly not as bad as some of their other year mates but Harry had years of running from Dudley behind him and finally the energy from enough food to power him. They didn't stand a chance.

Ground drills soon became flying drills. Draco's most serious competition was from a second year named Warrington. He was a large bloke but was strangely graceful in the air, completely different from Draco's nimble slenderness. Unfortunately for Draco, he was also performing well in the drills which were largely used for Seekers. Harry was certain that Draco would take news of that position poorly.

The final exercise of the day was a practice match between two teams. Marcus Flint would regularly rotate the players so that he could see them in different positions. Theo had already dropped out before the end, barely hanging on to his broom. The other students were told at the end of the practice that they would know by mid-next week and that if they made the team or the reserve team they were expected to show up at practice on Wednesday. Then they limped back to the change rooms. Harry was asked his opinions on the candidates, although he doubted they carried much weight, and then joined the others in the change rooms..

Harry was glad that practice would be on Wednesday. He'd been a bit worried that practice would be on Tuesday when he had Astronomy at midnight. Harry already had enough trouble staying up during that class, being exhausted and sore from practice would only make it worse.

Although Harry had played a largely supervisory role, Marcus had wanted to see what he he was best at and like the rest of the team, he had participated in some of the drills and in part of the practice match. Despite having flown with Draco every evening since their first flying class, Harry was still frighteningly sore after the try-outs. His only conciliation was that none of the potentials looked any better than he did and most looked significantly worse.

Draco was red in the face and some strands of his hair, despite being severely oiled that morning, had fallen forward into his face. Once they had entered the changing rooms, Draco had quickly claimed a shower stall and had yet to exit. Harry was about to give up waiting for him when, at last, Draco came out. Draco refused for Harry to talk about the trials or Quidditch, so they spent the walk back to the dungeons talking first about their assigned homework for the weekend and eventually Draco moved to talking about gossip around the school.

It was a conversation that Harry had little to contribute to but he knew that Draco appreciated having someone listen. It was good information for him to know as well, Harry knew, since such knowledge could easily swing tides and influence actions. Thus, although Harry was not really interested in gossip, he never failed to listen closely when Blaise, Pansy or Draco began their comparison and analysis of the rumours from the rumour mill. Not to Harry's surprise, their study session was just that, although it did allow him to go over that week's Charms homework with Millicent who had even less interest than himself in gossip.

Millicent had seemed worried when she'd seen Harry and Draco as friends once more, so Harry had had to, despite Draco's arguments, explain what he'd said in the letter. She hadn't been very pleased, especially because she had not been consulted about the final contents of the letter and Draco—an unreliable source and editor in her mind in this circumstance—had corrected the letter in her stead. Still, she did not seem to be too upset by Harry and Draco's renewed friendship—possibly because she hoped that it would influence Draco and she felt that she could better control Harry.

Nevertheless, both the gossip session and the study session were successful and Harry and Millicent could now cast Lumos, although the light at the end of their wands was not, perhaps, bright enough. But it was bright enough for Harry to feel as though he'd completed enough work to go to sleep at a reasonable hour.