"It's weird to not be at the Dursley's."
"What do you mean?" asked Draco from his spot on the settee where his nose was buried in a wickedly dark book.
Brogan was on a window seat with her head resting against the glass, her scar actually but she was hoping Draco wouldn't notice the way she was rolling it across the cool surface. She glanced over and saw that he hadn't taken his eyes off the book, "It's just I'm always at the Dursley's on my birthday you know, waiting up for owls so I can let them in."
"And bask in the glory of all your presents?" Draco asked with a teasing lilt in his voice.
Brogan smiled at him, "pretty much I guess. Mrs. Weasley sent me a whole birthday cake once and the Dursleys never found out."
"You ate the entire cake yourself?" Draco sounded impressed. Brogan blushed and shrugged a bit, Draco finally put his book down and got up to join her at the window, peering out into the darkness around Grimmauld Place looking for the one speck of white among all the lights of the city that would grow and grow until Hedwig burst into the room. Draco had grown up scanning the sky for owls but he hadn't mastered the art of finding them in the city. He felt like he hadn't mastered anything about the city or the person sitting across from him, or his place in this strange new world.
He and Brogan had left Hogwarts early, right after Dumbledore's funeral. It was an open secret that Brogan's father, Snape, had killed Dumbledore and half the school was ready to arrest her for that while the other half was trying to ask her how best to pledge their lives to the insane Dark Lord. Since they didn't want either of those things to happen they had simply fled.
Not that it was that simple, Draco's father seemed to be getting more and more frantic about Draco coming home to meet the Dark Lord and officially joining their ranks. Voldemort was also getting impatient about meeting Brogan Snape and probably marking her too.
But that was never going to happen, well at least not for as long as they could possibly delay it. Voldemort and Brogan were destined to meet again at some point but there was no way at all that Voldemort wouldn't recognize her as Harry Potter when that happened so, it was best that they delay the encounter until they were sure Voldemort wouldn't survive it. And also, more importantly, until they were all sure that Brogan would.
They sat silently for a while, until Draco began to worry that maybe no owls were coming. Harry Potter had gone pretty far underground after the paternus potion wore off and he turned (back) into a girl. Plus they were in an unplottable house protected by a secret keeper, true the secret keeper was dead so who really knew what kind of state the charm was in now. And then that secret keeper had been killed in cold blood, or so it seemed, by Brogan's father, so those who knew the secret - how likely were they to send a gift?
Draco worriedly scanned the sky again and then looked over at Brogan. She nudged him with her bare foot, "Stop it, I know what you're thinking. You're worried that no gifts are coming."
She smiled at him, "It isn't like I ever got huge amounts; just Ron and Hermione, Mrs. Weasley and Hagrid really. I think all four of them still like me, well they still like Harry Potter, or whatever. And Hedwig is clever, one year she showed up at Hermione's house a few days before my birthday -just dropped by like, 'Hey Hermione how's it hanging? Oh you have a package for Harry, what a coincidence.'"
Draco laughed at the Hedwig impersonation; with Brogan's wide green eyes it really was funny. He leaned his head back against the wall and started scanning for Hedwig again, "I guess I always imagined that the whole wizarding world would send you birthday wishes. Free Firebolts, custom stationery, chocolate frogs? Anything?"
Brogan smiled wistfully, "Never, they might have tried when I was a baby or something but there were probably wards on the house to keep the owls away. To keep me safe in my obliviousness."
"To keep you unpretentious too, that part worked."
"I think I could have managed to eat a few chocolate frogs without them going to my head."
"Well, everyone knows chocolate frogs go to your bum, so maybe a few more wouldn't hurt." Draco teased as he pulled her onto his lap. Brogan wriggled around until she was comfortable, leaning her forehead against the coolness of his neck while Draco's arms came up and wrapped around her sides. They both went back to watching for owls.
Brogan dozed off soon enough like she always did and Draco's bottom was starting to fall asleep. He was carefully weighing the pros and cons of moving soon or moving later when Snape stalked in. Draco startled rather badly but didn't wake her, Professor Snape sneered anyway and gestured with his arms for Draco to pass the sleeping girl over.
When Snape moved to carry her upstairs Draco pulled him back and gestured to the empty settee. "She wanted to stay up and wait for owls."
Snape put her down with a sigh; he sat down himself and pulled out a vial, twisting it between his fingers. "I was planning on giving her dreamless sleep tonight," he admitted.
"Why?" asked Draco, "she's been okay recently, well her scar was bothering her tonight but… oh, tonight. Is he planning something for tonight, because of Harry's birthday?"
Snape nodded and wrapped his long fingers tightly around the vial. He looked down at his daughter, she seemed to be sleeping peacefully but he had seen that change quickly before. She never learned occlumency, not that it would have even helped with his new understanding of the horcrux connection he feared she shared with the Dark Lord, but when she was asleep she seemed so much more vulnerable to visions and Snape knew that the Dark Lord had dark plans for this night.
But of course the brat wanted to stay up and wait for her owl to come flapping though the night with whatever lumpy knitted atrocity the Weasleys would send, whatever boring book Hermione decided she needed to have, or Merlin forbid, a box of pranks from those twins winging towards them even now. He rubbed his nose as he thought of the carefully guarded house being revealed to all around because a squadron of idiot owls carrying luridly colored boxes of pranks flew straight to the front door.
He glanced around the room and found a clock, it was nearly midnight, perhaps the owls would come soon.
"The owls should be here soon," said Draco, "why don't you stay, maybe we can have a bit of cake and then she'll take the potion like a good girl and go back to sleep in her bed?"
Snape nodded, since that was the only reasonable course and what he had decided too. Well, except for the cake, he had forgotten that there should be cake. "Cake?" he asked in a dark silky tone, "the house elf is treating you well then?"
Draco was walking over to reclaim his book and mark his place for the night but he turned to Snape with a bright smile. "Oh yes, he's much improved now that he gets to serve a pureblood Black heir."
"Did she give him to you outright? That's very trusting, we know the wretched thing has spied before."
"Yes, well, that was part of the reason too. If it spied again and reported on your daughter moving in here, why on earth would your daughter have a claim on Sirius Black's old house? It's far more, well slightly more plausible that Sirius might have left it to me."
"You've gotten better at considering all the angles Draco."
Draco nodded with a small smile, "Shall I call our little spy for some tea sir?"
Snape looked at the clock again and then the sleeping girl, "very well."
They were just finishing their first cups when Hedwig arrived. She ignored both men and flew straight to Brogan, landing on the table near her with a soft clatter and a gentle call. Brogan rolled towards the sound and sleepily opened her eyes, the two looked at each other for a long moment. "Hey, girl," whispered Brogan finally, "safe flight?"
The owl seemed to nod and pushed the package tied to her leg forward a bit. Maybe it was a trick of the light, the shadows that swayed gently as the lamp flame danced, but in that moment Brogan looked so much like Harry Potter. Draco and Snape caught each other's eyes briefly, as if to ask if the other had seen it too.
Over the last year it had become harder and harder for them to remember that Brogan wasn't just the girl that they had grown to love; she was the Saviour of the Wizarding World, Triwizard Cup Champion, and a neglected orphan boy too. Somehow she managed to tuck most of that away, but Hedwig wouldn't allow that sort of stoicism. Hedwig had been with her at the Dursley's and for the whole crazy ride.
It was only a moment though and then she was girlish again, reaching out for the package and nuzzling her owl. The package was a book, really, from Hermione. Draco yawned without even noticing.
Some commotion followed that as Pigwidgeon arrived with a burden almost the same size as the squeakly little owl, and then a school owl swooped in. Snape pulled a small parcel out from his sleeve and added it to the little pile. They used the saucers from the tea service to eat chunks of Mrs. Weasley's amazing chocolate cake and it wasn't a bad little party. Until Snape noticed that Brogan was chewing slower and slower and her arm kept reaching up towards her forehead before she would jerk it back down.
He pulled the plate out of her hands and replaced it with the vial of dreamless sleep he had been toying with before. "Alright now," he soothed, "your gifts will all be here tomorrow too." He pulled her up off the couch and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, "I know what the Dark Lord has planned for tonight and none of it is as pleasant as this has been."
Brogan didn't argue at all as she followed her father upstairs.
The next day she was up bright and early eating cake and poring over the letters that had come with her gifts. She was biting her bottom lip, adorably, and Draco was entranced by that as much as he was by the concept of cake for breakfast. Brogan folded up the letter and looked at Draco nervously, "so I'm of age now."
"Yes, happy birthday again I guess." Draco helped himself to a small piece of cake, for starters to see how it worked out.
Brogan kicked him, "that's not what I meant. I mean, I can do magic anywhere now. We can leave."
"Leave?" asked Draco, a bit stupidly he realized and immediately popped up to get himself some coffee.
"Yes, leave. Go on that mission thingy you know, to find and destroy horcruxes before the Dark Lord takes over the world."
"Oh, that thingy." Was it Draco's imagination or was the milk curdling in his cup? "And where exactly are you going to start?"
"We're starting with this fake horcrux, we need to make sure the real one has been destroyed."
"How do you know that isn't the actual horcrux and the note is a fake to send you off track? These are probably Slytherins we're dealing with you know."
Brogan pulled out the locket she had taken to wearing since the night of Dumbledore's death. "I can tell that it isn't like the diary horcrux, the diary had a sentience about it, this is just a piece of metal."
"Is Professor Snape still here?" asked Draco suddenly, "if that note was written by a Slytherin he might recognize the initials."
"He said he would return to ascertain if I suffered any ill effects from the dosage of dreamless sleep he administered."
"It's creepy when you quote him using his voice."
Brogan just smiled.
When Snape did return to ascertain the ill effects, and also it happened to be lunchtime, he took the locket, examined the tiny note, and then looked at them like they were idiots. "How long have you had this fake horcrux?" he asked while rubbing his long nose.
"Since the night Dumbledore died sir."
"And this is the first you thought to mention that it's a fake and has a mysterious note? What on earth have you been doing for the last month?" He glanced up just in time to see the two teenagers smile at each other and he quickly held up a hand, "No! Don't answer that."
"RAB," he cleared his throat and dragged them back to the mission thingy, "is undoubtedly Regulus Black. Sirius's younger brother WHO GREW UP IN THE HOUSE YOU HAVE BEEN LIVING IN."
"Oh, yeah, Sirius said he chickened out of being a Death Eater and that Voldemort himself might have been the one who killed him." Brogan put in helpfully, or not.
"DO NOT say his name." bellowed Snape. "There's a jinx on it and the Death Eaters can apparate to wherever it's said."
"Wha?" said Brogan, nervously moving towards the window.
"That is immensely clever, Harry Potter and a few of the Order members are probably the only ones who actually use He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's name. Using their own arrogance against them, immensely clever. Was it your idea sir?"
Brogan spluttered some more, but pulled herself away from scanning the empty alley next to the house to hiss, "it isn't arrogance to use someone's name!"
"I would say it's more like stubbornness Draco than arrogance. And no, it was not my idea. Have you forgotten that Harry Potter is my daughter and the only family I have in the world?"
"And you like me!" added Brogan helpfully.
Snape gave her a weird smile, "That too, I believe it was your father Draco who came up with this nefarious jinx."
"Well, it is immensely clever."
"So you've said about fifteen times now. But aren't they coming?"
"What part of unplottable, protected by a secret keeper are you forgetting now Brogan?"
"The secret keeper is dead, remember, weren't you guys present when he was killed by you? And I have no idea what unplottable actually means."
Snape sighed and poured himself more coffee.
They eventually managed to pull Brogan away from the window and get her to eat some sandwiches with them. Snape had asked, "would you like lunch or would you rather write me a sixteen inch essay on the unplottable charm? I find it outrageous (again) that you have been here for months and haven't even acquainted yourself with the spells in place to protect you."
"Mmm, sandwiches!" said Brogan with fake enthusiasm.
Kreacher had been serving them in his usual desultory fashion but his enormous ears pricked up when he saw the locket that Snape was examining. "Master Regulus," he sniffed reaching out and then slamming his hand back down to his side.
Brogan patted his shoulder and tried not to notice when he cringed away from her touch. "Yes, it is Master Regulus' locket, you must miss him very much."
"Kreacher and Master left it in the cave, how did you get it?"
"I got it from the cave Kreacher."
"Halfblood girl-child went to the wicked cave and came back alive?" Kreacher looked at her dubiously.
"Yes." Brogan responded firmly. "I rode in the little boat to the island, I helped my headmaster drink that potion and then we found this locket and not the one we wanted to find."
"That potion was great evil," Kreacher said sympathetically and actually patted her hand back. "Kreacher had to help Master Regulus drink it."
"You went with Regulus to switch the lockets behind the Dark Lord's back?" asked Snape with a new respect blooming for the long dead rich pure blood scion that he had never really cared for before.
"Yes, and then Kreacher was supposed to destroy the locket he brought back."
"But…" prompted Draco.
"But Kreacher couldn't, he tried lots of ways, even elf magic ways, but Kreacher couldn't destroy the thing. Master Regulus was such a good master and Kreacher couldn't do his task."
"Yes, well when I was twelve and destroyed a hor- one of those things I used a basilisk fang. I don't suppose there are any of those around your potions lab Da?"
Kreacher looked at Brogan with a sudden light crossing his face, "Half blood girl child destroyed an undestroyable object? Kreacher didn't have a basilisk fang to use…" he mused.
Snape was gobsmacked but eventually he noticed that his daughter was waiting for a response. "No, I don't have a basilisk fang. They are beyond rare and more or less mythical. Where did you get one?"
"It, um, it sort of fell out of the basilisk's mouth when it bit me. You know, I saw on Shark Week that sharks are like that, they just grow new teeth, I guess basilisks do too. Well, not that one. Not anymore." And she smiled.
"Battled a lot of sharks too have you?" asked Draco smiling too.
"Sharks? Hmm, well there was Victor's transformation during the lake task, and all those grindylows, and the pissed off merpeople… but no actual sharks."
Snape was taking deep calming breaths. "I believe we have found another adventure that the Headmaster neglected to share with me."
"Well, you couldn't expect him to tell you about it once he found out I was your daughter. You would have killed him…" Brogan trailed off awkwardly.
Draco tried to bring them back to task, or the mission thingy before he was reminded again of how dreadfully lame his life had been. "Kreacher, where is the undestroyable locket now?"
"Did we throw it out Kreacher when Sirius had us cleaning?"
"Only Sirius Black would bin the last known relic of Salazar Slytherin."
"Shut up Draco, it was clearly dangerous."
"Nasty children tried to throw it out but Kreacher saved it, to keep it and finish his task."
"Is it in your room, er, nest?" asked Brogan getting excited that it could possibly be that easy.
"It was but nasty smelly man stole it when he robbed us."
"Smelly man?" asked Draco. "Wait, the Most Noble House of Black was robbed?"
"Dung!" chorused Brogan and Snape together. Kreacher nodded and the three shared filthy looks just thinking about the petty thief.
"We need to wait for Ron and Hermione so we can figure out what to do next." Brogan whined for the umpteenth time.
"Don't be ridiculous, two Slytherins can come up with a better plan than those Gryffindorks."
"Hey! We've come up with plans before."
"Don't make me recount them in front of your father; he looks like he's had enough shock for one day."
Brogan looked over to see what sort of sneer her father was giving Draco for that comment but he wasn't sneering at all, he did actually look a little shell-shocked still, huh, it looked like Draco had a good point.
In the end, as he was clearing the dishes actually, it was Kreacher who came up with the plan. "Kreacher will go find the smelly man and bring him back here."
"Excellent," replied Draco with a significant look at the little elf, "you do that Kreacher and then we will deal with him for his thefts." They shared some sort of pureblood outrage look and then Kreacher vanished with a clatter as the dishes he was about to bring to the kitchen dropped to the floor.
Brogan looked at the dented goblet on the floor and gave Draco a glare, "nice Draco, you'd better hope he's back before dinner. He was going to make shepherd's pie for my birthday."
They ended up eating out that night.