AN: Hello again all my faithful minions. The vast amount of reviews has prompted me to treat you all with a new chapter, far quicker than I originally planned on. I'm extremely happy that you all enjoyed my prank on Malfoy/Snape, and frankly the amount of reviews I received on it was stunning. As promised we get a bit of action here, but it's probably not what you've come to expect in the Fan Fiction universe. Big Thanks to Alixx33 and Erbkaiser for helping me get this out in a legible manner that also makes sense to the reader. Any and all remaining Errors are mine and mine alone.
Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to Harry Potter, nor do I make any money from writing this. This is only the darker parts of my imagination coming out to play, so enjoy!
Fic Rec: Heart and Soul by Sillimaure. H/Hr/Fleur in a more or less believable way. The fandom is filled with Harry/multi fics, and we all love to see em, but Sillimaure does a really great job of approaching it from a logical and emotionally understandable way.
Chapter 8: Laying the Bricks
Luna smiled wryly as she noticed the two students silently following behind her. Rounding a corner and seeing the empty hall she quickly changed forms and pressed herself against the wall, ensuring she wouldn't be seen. Barely a minute passed before the pair following her rounded the corner.
"Where did she go?" Marietta asked, looking over her shoulder in confusion.
"She can't have gone far," Cho answered, pulling at the handle of a locked door along the corridor.
"Little jumped-up bitch thinks she's so special now," Marietta said with a frown, crossing her arms. Cho nodded her agreement, pulling at another door which also proved to be locked.
Luna smiled and transformed back when they both looked away from her, "Looking for me, girls?"
Cho jumped, turning around quickly and reaching for her wand. Seeing Luna's wand already in her hand she froze, "Where did you come from?"
Luna smiled, ignoring Cho and looking at Marietta carefully, "Disillusionment charm. I'd take the time to explain, but surely a couple of bright Ravenclaws like you would know about it. I think the real question here is: Why were you following me?"
"That's none of your business," Marietta snapped. Cho seemed to curl in on herself, obviously trying to make herself less noticeable.
"At least one of you has some brains. I always thought Cho was the top between you two, now I'm starting to wonder," Luna mused, smiling cruelly. "Or maybe it's just that Cho realizes something you obviously don't."
Marietta's eyes widened at the implication, "What! You're the little lesbo, not us!"
Luna shrugged, not bothering to deny the claim. Stepping forward she looked up and down at the brown-haired Ravenclaw, "Whatever helps you sleep at night. Marietta Edgecombe, daughter of Kenneth and Felicia Edgecombe, correct? Your mother is a minor employee at the ministry, I think in the Floo Regulation and Control Department. Your father works for Reggie's Reagents, where he specializes in collecting various items from China, often for a rather handsome profit."
Marietta paled slightly, clearly off balance at Luna's unexpected knowledge, "Y-yes."
Luna smiled cruelly again, "Tell me, Marietta, are you familiar with my betrothed? Lord Harry Potter? Perhaps this little tidbit will make you see what Cho is clearly beginning to understand. Reginald Abbot, father of Hannah Abbot, approached Charlus Potter in the year Nineteen and Seventy-Five with a business proposition. This proposition was for a certain aforementioned Reagent shop. I'm rather sure that Mr. Abbot would gladly lend his ear to the new Lord Potter, if nothing else than in return for the investment made by my Harry's Grandfather."
Marietta started to speak, but Luna's eyes narrowed sharply, "Furthermore, I'm sure that minister Fudge would ever so willingly give my Harry an appointment. Not that it is necessary, you see. Bob Thorpine, your mother's immediate supervisor, owes an Honor Debt to House Potter as Harry's father once assisted her in a personal matter while they were in school together.
"Really though, all of that is merely supposition. As I am legally betrothed to my Lord Potter, any slight against me would be considered a slight against him, and I'm sure you were raised better than to do something as foolish as that. It wouldn't do to cross an Ancient and Noble family when you yourself lack any form of protection. Now, Marietta, are we beginning to see the error of our ways or do I need to continue?"
Marietta was staring down at the floor, her eyes closed tight, "I…"
"Yes?" Luna asked sweetly.
Marietta braced herself looking back up at Luna. Luna smiled coyly, cocking her head to the side as if inspecting her carefully again. Resisting the urge to shiver Marietta turned and stalked back around the corner silently. Luna looked over at Cho who seemed torn, looking between Luna and the corner.
"Dismissed," Luna said with a small nod of her head. Cho nodded once in return before chasing off after her friend.
Humming happily Luna made her on to Arithmancy. Taking her seat she was unsurprised to see Ginny waiting to eagerly join her. Nothing had happened with the youngest Weasley yet, but she did seem to be hanging around and joining the group whenever she could.
"Hey, Luna," Ginny said, smiling happily.
"Hello Ginny," Luna said, adopting a whimsical smile of her own, "have you had trouble sleeping lately? You're absolutely surrounded by wrackspurts."
Ginny's smile faltered for only a brief moment, "Err, no, not really."
Luna shrugged, pulling her book from her pack, "Maybe you've been having some naughty thoughts, then. They enjoy hanging around those who masturbate often as well."
Ginny blushed heavily, staring down at the desk now, "I… Well I don't really think that's it either."
Luna nodded, fighting the urge to role her eyes, "Really, Ginny, it's perfectly normal and acceptable to masturbate. Everyone does it, they just don't admit it."
Ginny's blush turned crimson as she looked around quickly hoping no one else was listening in, "Erm, yeah I know, err, yeah."
Ginny had never been more glad for the beginning of class before as Professor Vector stood to take roll.
Harry was pacing nervously back and forth as Luna stepped into the room of requirement. Hermione had several pieces of parchment spread out over a large desk and was busily looking over them, making mental notes and muttering to herself. Nodding at Harry as he looked up at her for the first time Luna sat in a chair opposite of Hermione.
"We all know what we're doing today, right?" Harry asked, moving to the head of the table but ignoring the chair. Leaning forward and placing his hands on the table Harry looked at each girl carefully.
"It's not like we haven't done this before," Hermione said, leaning back in her chair.
"That was different, we were in a war and our enemies knew who we were. If we were seen we could simply retreat, but now we cannot leave any possible witnesses behind," Harry said, looking pointedly at Hermione.
Luna shrugged, inspecting the tip of her wand carefully, "You know I have no problems killing."
Hermione paled slightly, but nodded at Harry, "I know, and you know I normally detest taking a life. I also know that we cannot afford to fail. We cannot afford Voldemort coming back with a significant power block already surrounding him."
Harry nodded carefully, "Exactly. We have to take into account the possibility that I will fail to kill him in June, or that we will fail to have all the Horcruxes dealt with by that time. These people have been given a second chance by our society, and with our knowledge, we know they do not deserve it."
"Damnit, Harry!" Hermione said, slapping a hand on the table in front of her. "I don't need a lecture."
"Maybe not, but has that ever stopped you?" Harry asked, narrowing his eyes.
Luna leaned forward, "Stop it, guys. Hermione, if you are uncomfortable with this then stay behind. It would be better for all of us if you're only going to risk freezing up at the wrong time."
Hermione shook her head stoically, "No, I'm not watching you two leave without me."
Harry nodded, turning to a rack nearby and grabbing a solid black hooded robe. Hermione and Luna followed suit, shedding their school robes and wrapping the dark robes around themselves. Moving to the next rack Hermione and Luna pulled away two Demiguise invisibility cloaks while Harry pulled his Heirloom cloak from his pack. Wrapping the reversed cloak around himself Harry watched as the girls did the same, leaving them all still visible for the moment. Through years of practice they all had the ability to reverse the cloaks in an instant, a handy trick if you want to become invisible quickly.
"We're going to work our way from the top down. By taking out the inner circle we will sow dissent and confusion down the lines. If we start at the bottom there is a good chance they will band together," Harry said, looking to Hermione.
Hermione nodded, pulling a piece of parchment from the pile, "Right now we have five suspected inner circle members free in society: Lucius Malfoy, Alecto and Amycus Carrow, Walden Macnair, and Ivan Yaxley. Obviously we know that Lucius is the most influential of these, being in Fudge's confidence. Alecto and Amycus have an odd relationship and are rarely without the other, meaning we'll have to take them together. Macnair is problematic being as he works in the ministry, any attack directly against him could bring in a lot of Aurors asking questions. Yaxley is trouble as well, as he is a considerably competent Wizard and a known master of the Imperius curse."
"Lucius first. He's the closest to a leader they have and will cause the biggest ripples. He also has the most resources, meaning once they figure out we are targeting them he'll be the most protected," Harry said, pushing a small rune on his hood that obscured his face and voice. Harry grinned as he continued speaking, his voice now that of a very creepy young girl, "Not to mention I owe him for the basilisk. We'll use your plan for this Hermione. We won't be able to rob the place, but we can come back later. It'll actually make more sense, robbing the empty manor while Draco is away at school."
Hermione nodded, looking to Luna, "I agree."
Luna shrugged, pressing the rune on her own hood before speaking in a deep metallic voice, "A Death Eater is a Death Eater to me."
"Alright then, it's decided. In and out as quickly as possible," Harry said.
Hermione pressed the rune on her hood last, her voice sounding like an old man, "Be careful."
With Harry's nod the trio changed to their fairy forms and faded away, leaving the room and reappearing inside the infamous parlor of Malfoy Manor. Changing back the three glanced at each other silently, ensuring the robes' enchantments still worked after the changes and fading. Nodding, Harry tapped his feet with the tip of his wand, casting a silent silencing spell around them. Luna moved to secure the doorway, peeking through it carefully.
Raising her hand Luna held out three fingers sideways before closing her fist and raising a single finger upwards, indicating a single elf outside. Hermione nodded, circling around behind Luna and drawing her wand. Taking aim at the elf standing in the middle of the foyer, Hermione sent a blue bolt of magic towards it. The elf yawned loudly before curling up in a ball, falling asleep quickly from the Somnus.
Harry stepped through the door first, making sure the foyer was truly clear before waving Luna and Hermione into the room. Luna made her way over to the elf, pouring a vial into its throat before moving it into a darkened corner where it would remain asleep until morning. Tapping his wand to his temple Harry muttered a quiet spell causing his eyes to glow green for a moment. Looking around Harry lowered his wand as the glow faded.
"Separate rooms," Harry whispered quietly pointing vaguely up the stairs. Hermione nodded, falling into step behind Luna as she followed Harry up the stairs. Stopping in front of a closed door Harry pressed his wand to his temple again before turning back to the girls and holding up a single finger. Hermione stepped around to the other side of the door tapping it lightly in several places before giving a small frown. Luna recognizing the frown ran her wand down the front of the door quietly.
Harry kept watch as the girls worked in tandem to drop the wards on the door. It was only a few minutes later when Hermione gave a small nod. Crouching Harry tapped the door handle with his wand before reaching up with his free hand and turning the ancient knob. Feeling it click open Harry thanked Merlin for silencing spells as he gently pushed the door open.
Narcissa Malfoy lay in the middle of a large bed that was clearly fit for royalty wearing a rich green night dress. Hermione and Luna stepped silently into the room, Hermione's lips moving as she silently cast dozens of detection spells around the bed. Harry checked the hall one final time before stepping into room after them, closing the door as he moved.
Hermione smirked, nodding to Luna even as the girl reached into her belt withdrawing another vial. A small bolt of red light flashed through the air catching Narcissa in the chest causing her to whimper quietly before Luna downed the contents of the vial into her throat.
Hermione turned her back, refusing to watch as Harry walked over to the bed. Harry took a deep breath before raising his wand and casting a low powered Reducto at the blonde woman's cheek. Hearing the crack of bone Harry froze, glancing at the door for a long moment before turning back. Casting a silencing spell Harry sent two more spells at the woman, one at her shoulder and another at her chest. Luna pulled her nightdress away, giving a small nod at the dark bruise forming along the Malfoy Matriarch's chest.
Luna crawled away from the bed and the group waiting in silence for several minutes until the poison took hold. The unconscious woman took a final ragged breath before falling still and cold in the embrace of death. Luna flicked her wand before giving Harry a grim nod, confirming she was dead. Placing the empty vial in the woman's hand Luna moved to watch the door.
Reaching over Harry placed a hand on Hermione's shoulder, signifying it was time to move. Hermione shot a single glance back at the bed before pulling a rolled up parchment and placing it on the bedside table.
Opening the door silently Harry cleared the hall before tapping his wand to his temple again. Moving towards the area where the spell signified a human presence, Harry waited again as the girls fought to disbar the wards protecting it. Opening the door slowly Harry stepped into the room where Lucius Malfoy was asleep, his eyes searching the room for any unseen threats. Hermione stepped forward, wand twitching this way and that as she checked for more wards.
Turning to Harry Hermione ran her thumb across her neck in a symbol as old as time. There was a death ward around the bed, and there was no way of quietly or easily removing it.
Sighing internally Harry reversed his cloak as the girls did the same, all of them fading from sight. Confident that they were well out of the way Harry raised his wand towards the bed.
Pushing all the magic he could into the spell Harry flicked his wand casting a large brown bolt of magic towards the bed. The spell crashed into the dome-like ward, sparking as a loud crashing noise echoed throughout the room.
Lucius jumped awake instantly, his hand jerking as he summoned a wand from a holster that never left his wrist. Firing blindly into the room with a slicing hex the man leapt off the bed moving towards a corner instinctively. Seeing no targets, Lucius started sending Reducto's at random throughout the room.
Sidestepping one of the bolts Luna cried out in her metallic voice, "Expelliarmus!"
Watching his wand fly into a tiny hand that immediately disappeared Lucius jumped towards it only to be stopped as a hand flashed into his vision crashing into his nose. Flicking his wand Harry sent a dozen conjured ropes around the man even as he fell back against the wall with a thud.
Reversing their cloaks again the trio stood in front of the bound man, watching him carefully as he sneered up at them.
"Who are you!" Lucius demanding as he struggled against the ropes.
"We are death," an oddly child-like female voice spoke as Harry crossed his arms.
"We are doom," Luna added in her metallic voice.
"We are justice," Hermione said at last.
Harry smiled as he pulled his hood back and bent down looking at Lucius eye to eye, "Hello, Lucy."
"Potter?!" Lucius said, looking confused.
"Lord Potter actually, but I'll forgive you given the circumstances," Harry said, sitting down with his legs crossed. "Draco sends his regards. Seems to take a lot of stock in you, the boy does."
Lucius regained some composure as another sneer crossed his face, "I'll see you in Azkaban for this!"
"I doubt it," Harry said honestly. "It could have been so easy, you see, but you had to go and ward yourself like that. I planned on killing you as you slept, you know. Painless and simple, but since you're all awake now I figured I would torment you a bit. You see, you owe me Lucy. Through your actions one of my girls ended up petrified a few years ago. My vengeance may be slow in coming, but I assure you it is no less thorough for it."
"You don't have the balls, boy!" Lucius growled.
Harry frowned, standing and look down at the aristocratic blond carefully before pulling his leg back and stomping down on his crotch. Lucius groaned and fell to his side curling into a ball desperately trying to relieve the pain.
"Nobody calls me boy," Harry said casually flicking his wand at the fallen man. Floating the man back into his bed Harry sat on a corner and continued to talk.
"Tell me Lucy, how's the Dark Mark coming along? Getting nice and bright yet? I wonder how the Dark Fart would feel knowing you sent one of his precious Horcruxes right into my hands?"
Lucius paled but remained silent as Harry continued, "You didn't know, then? Oh yes, the diary contained a bit of his soul. A piece that has already been banished to the afterlife, you see. I have to wonder about the afterlife, seeing as I have so deftly managed to avoid it so many times. Since his soul is so split does that mean there will be several versions of him there? I wonder how many will be waiting for you, and how they will express their discomfort that you were so vital in seeing at least one of those parts there."
"He'll destroy you!" Lucius said, his voice broken as another jolt of pain coursed from his loins.
Harry tapped his forehead pointedly, "Been there, done that, and all I got was this silly looking scar."
Harry stood turning back to Lucius and placing his wand between the man's eyes, "Don't expect Draco to avenge you either. Your wife sadly took her own life a short while ago after writing a rather guilty epitaph for herself. Narcissa Malfoy, Mother, Abused Wife, Husband Murderer. When your bodies are found they'll read the note and assume it's the truth. How she got tired of her husband beating her one night, losing her temper and killing him. Overcome with grief and fear of prison, taking her own life rather than face the judgment of her peers. I'm sure Rita will eat it up."
Lucius' face was ghostly white now as the implications set in. There would be no revenge, there would be no investigation. His family name forever scarred at the implications that his own wife murdered him to get away from his temper.
Harry smiled wryly, "Ahhhh, and that's what I've been waiting for. Tell those bits of your master already waiting for you that the rest will be along shortly."
Harry lowered his wand to the man's neck, "Diffindo!"
Harry turned his back as Lucius fought to breathe, blood filling his lungs and creating a gurgling sucking sound that grew louder and faster in desperation. It took less than a minute for the room to grow silent again. Harry watched as the girls lowered their hoods, their eyes filled with compassion for Harry. Flicking his wand Harry dispelled the ropes and walked forward accepting the girls into his arms.
"Do you hate me?" Harry asked after a long minute had passed.
Hermione knew the question was directed at her, "No, Harry, I'll never hate you. My hands aren't much cleaner than yours, you know. I hate death, Harry, I hate killing, but Lucius Malfoy embodied everything that is wrong in this world we live in."
Luna nodded her agreement, "How many innocents will be saved through our actions? How many people will never have to be visited by death because we are stopping things now?"
Hermione smiled, leaning up and giving Harry a kiss, "Let's go to the manor tonight, Love. I want a long hot bath, and then I want you to fuck me till I can't remember my name. We can turn back after we wake and go back to the castle. But for tonight I want to be in the only place that has ever been my home."
Harry smiled warmly, stealing another kiss before changing to his fairy form, "Last one there gets buggered."
Luna grinned, allowing Hermione to fade first; she was in the mood for a good buggering anyway.
Dumbledore sighed heavily as he re-read the note that had been sent to him early that morning. Folding the missive the elderly Headmaster glanced at an hourglass that he used to keep time before walking to the Floo and tossing in a pinch of powder.
"Severus Snape," Dumbledore called, sticking his head into the flame. Looking out across the sparse office Dumbledore saw the black-haired Potions Master regarding him curiously.
"Yes?" Snape drawled, pushing away some papers he was marking.
"I have unfortunate news, my old friend. Perhaps you should step into my office?" Dumbledore said already pulling away from within the flames.
Flicking his wand Dumbledore released the wards on his Floo just as the fire flashed green again and Professor Snape stepped through with a bemused look on his face. Waving absently at a chair Dumbledore stepped around his desk and took his seat.
"Madam Bones sent me a letter that I think will directly affect you. It seems that last night Narcissa Malfoy took her Husband's life before taking a vial of poison herself," Dumbledore said, sighing heavily.
Snape's eyes closed as he took a slow breath, "I highly doubt that, Albus. Theirs wasn't a relationship of love, but they were amicable enough to one another."
"Regardless, the evidence is hard to discount as I understand it, Severus. The question is, I think, how to inform young Mister Malfoy of this," Dumbledore said dismissively.
Snape looked thoughtful for a long moment, "I suppose the duty falls to me as Head of Slytherin."
Dumbledore nodded thoughtfully, "Would you wager to guess who his parents would charge with his care in the event of their deaths?"
Snape shrugged, "Take your pick. Parkinson perhaps, he is at least not a complete fool. Crabbe or Goyle, but neither of them would serve well in raising him to be aware of his position. I doubt Nott, he and Lucius didn't often get along. Dolohov or Bellatrix would have been the obvious choices but for being imprisoned. I doubt it will matter, no doubt Draco will pull a Potter."
Dumbledore nodded, having come to similar conclusions already, "I think it would be unwise to allow that to occur. Draco does not strike me as being able to handle that position."
"And Potter does?" Snape sneered, eyeing the Headmaster carefully.
"No," Dumbledore admitted, "but I must admit he caught me unaware with his bid for lordship. Draco may not have anything more than Head of House status to claim, but I do not see him being able to act responsibly in that capacity."
Snape scoffed irritably, "I agree, but there is little I can do to sway him. The boy is… stubborn on matters such as this. I suspect his father spoiled him, to be frank, showing him all the perks of high living without actually teaching him how to live that life successfully. His inability to tap into the guile and cunning his father always showed, is… bothersome."
Dumbledore leaned back wearily, "Quite. If he cannot be dissuaded then he must at least be set upon the correct paths. Surely from your position you can provide the necessary guidance?"
Snape nodded hesitantly, "I can make the attempt. What are you going to do about Potter? Truthfully he's the reason behind this dilemma. If he hadn't claimed his title then I would have little trouble persuading Draco to do as you wish."
Dumbledore smiled lightly, "I am aware of that, Severus, I do not need you to point it out to me. Harry has become a problem, but one I hope to soon rectify. I have already taken the necessary steps."
Snape's lips drew up into a sneer, "The Weasley girl? Forgive me for not being as enthusiastic as you are on the matter."
Dumbledore shrugged indifferently, "The girl will do as she is told, Severus, I have seen to that. If she is unsuccessful in her attempts then the necessary steps will be taken to ensure it. Molly assures me that Miss Weasley has things well in hand."
Harry watched dispassionately as Draco was escorted from dinner by Professor Snape, undoubtedly to be given the news. Hermione looked contemplative for a moment before shaking her head sadly. Reaching under the table Harry took her hand, squeezing it gently, willing her to let go of her morose thoughts. Hermione smiled at Harry, nodding her understanding before returning to her meal.
Neville walked over to Harry, standing oddly formal as he waited to be acknowledged. Harry nodded at the Longbottom heir, giving him a small wink. Neville fought away a grin as he started to speak.
"Lord Potter, I apologize for interrupting your meal."
Harry smiled, "Not at all, Neville, how are you?"
Neville grinned, relaxing a little, "Madam Longbottom says she would be quite interested in meeting with you at your soonest convenience. She suggested this weekend if that is convenient?"
Harry nodded, "That would be fine. You can tell her to expect us for lunch on Saturday, then?"
"I'll tell her to expect you then," Neville said, bowing slightly.
Harry nodded, grinning brightly now, "Posturing rubbish, isn't it?"
Neville grinned in return, nodding his agreement, "Yeah."
Harry chuckled, "We're friends, Neville, no need to do the Lord business with me. To my friends I will only ever be Harry."
Neville nodded, taking a seat on the other side of Hermione, "Thanks, but I'd not forget it with Gran if I was you. She's a stickler for tradition."
Hermione rolled her eyes, "It's all a bunch of outdated crap if you ask me."
Harry nodded thoughtfully, "More or less, but it could be worse."
"Really?" Hermione asked curiously.
Luna nodded her agreement, answering in Harry's stead, "At least we aren't expected to wait on Harry hand and food, being silent, dutiful wives. Wasn't too long ago that would have been our lot in life. One of the many traditions the old purebloods try to enforce."
Hermione shuddered at the thought, "Okay, it could be worse."
Draco stared at the paper, his mind whirling as he struggled to find a way to fix this somehow. Hearing of his parents' deaths from Professor Snape was one thing, but reading about the whole sordid affair in this morning's edition of the Daily Prophet was another. All thoughts of simply ignoring the truth, in living in disbelief, fled at the sight of his manor home on the front page. The story was penned by that bint Skeeter, and seemed to paint the picture in a way that left no room for disbelief.
Here for the world to see was the downfall of house Malfoy. The tale was told, and there was no way Draco could see to diffuse the coming rumors. Glancing around the hall Draco noted that all eyes were turned towards him. Some were pitying, others were smug. Some looked confused and disbelieving, while even more simply watched, curious to his reactions. Folding the paper carefully Draco sat it down in front of him slowly.
Ignoring the watching faces of his peers Draco stood, his face carefully composed he made his way to the head table. Noting the curious glare of the Headmaster, Draco nodded to his Head of House, "Professor, a word please."
Professor Snape stood, walking to a corner and erecting a few privacy wards around the two of them. Snape waited patiently for Draco to speak first, his eyes trying to pierce the younger boy's mind, divining his thoughts.
"Professor, I need to go to Gringotts and see to the accounts of my family," Draco said, keeping his face dispassionate as he knew they were still under heavy scrutiny, even with the wards hiding the conversation.
"I am sure your family's Solicitor has things well in hand Draco," Snape said carefully. "I think it would be best to let them handle things."
Draco shook his head, his temper threatening to break lose already, "I disagree, Professor. As the sole remaining Malfoy it falls to me to see to the handling of my family. If my Solicitor was doing his job properly then perhaps I wouldn't have had to endure that article in this morning's paper."
Snape hesitated, unable to disagree with the words, "I am sure your parents had things planned out, Draco. It might be best to wait and see what the will says, you wouldn't want to disrupt your father's plans."
"MY FATHER…" Draco yelled before realizing his position and visible cooling, "My father is dead, Professor. His plans are hardly relevant. If these… rumors… are to be believed, then it is his fault that my family name is currently being raked through the mud. Forgive me for seeing no need in following my father's plans."
Snape's eyes narrowed at the break in temper, but he ignored the slight, "Perhaps. Or perhaps this is some attempt at evening the score with Potter."
Draco's eyes widened in disbelief, more in awe that his inner thoughts had been so easily discerned than in anger before yelling, "Potter and his stupid bints have nothing to do with this!"
Snape turned, dragging Draco by the arm out of the hall and into the nearest empty room, "You can't even hold your temper for a single conversation, Draco! How you ever expect to survive as a Head of House when you throw temper tantrums like that bothers me. Your father and I were not the best of friends, but even I know he was smart enough to see to your upbringing if something should happen to him!"
Draco jerked his arm away, looking at Snape darkly, "My father was a fool who couldn't control his anger!"
Snape wasn't one to laugh, but the irony of that comment was almost enough to see the corner of his lips turn up… almost.
"There is no way you will ever be able to one-up Potter, Draco. Your father was an influential man, and his money saw a lot done, but at the end of the day you must face the truth! The Malfoys are foreigners here, and you would be torn to shreds the moment you tried to fill his shoes. As a minor you are protected, but the moment you claim your mantle you will be destroyed. The first time you slight Potter you will be called to count. He is head of an Ancient and Noble family and nothing you can do will ever match that!"
Draco's eyes narrowed at the perceived jab at his lineage, "Potter is nothing but a Half-blood wannabe!"
Snape shook his head lightly, "Think what you will, Draco. My only regret is that your father did not teach you how things really are, he worried far too much about spoiling you. My advice is to keep your head down, gather allies while you're still protected by your age, and then come out strong when you come of age. If you insist on this folly of going to Gringotts I cannot stop you, but I would advise you to keep your head down and keep your temper in check!"
Draco scoffed loudly, "Just see to it I have a pass to leave the grounds this weekend."
Turning and leaving the room Draco's mind finally started formulating his plans. He would show them, show all of them. The quickest way to quell rumors was to give the masses a bigger fish to nibble on, and the way he saw it there was no fish bigger, or more worthy of the negative attention, than the Potters.
Harry and the girls woke early, preparing themselves for the meeting that afternoon. The meeting with the Lady Regent Longbottom was important, and they could ill afford to make any mistakes. Luna had been drilling her knowledge of Pureblood customs into Harry's brain over the last few days, with Hermione adding in bits and pieces she had read about as well.
Harry groaned internally as he saw one person he really didn't want to see standing in his way now. Harry had expected something along these lines, but knew his rights perfectly well. Squaring his shoulders, Harry eyed the aged Headmaster carefully as he stood by the massive doors that exited the castle.
"Hello, Harry," Dumbledore said, smiling broadly at Harry while nodding at the accompanying girls.
Harry frowned, taking up a defensive tone in his body language, "Headmaster, I am afraid I must insist upon propriety here. When addressing me you should be calling me Lord Potter, as I have advised you before."
Dumbledore's genial smile turned into a frown at the expected words, "Then perhaps I should insist on you referring to me as Chief Warlock?"
Harry nearly laughed at the thought, "Tell me, Headmaster, is this conversation going to be in your capacity as such?"
"Then I see no reason to address that particular title, not by the title of Supreme Mugwump. If this conversation was to be about the law, or the Wizengamot, then I would of course address you as needed, but as I can only assume you are here in an attempt to stop me from leaving the school grounds. As such I feel it is only correct to call you Headmaster," Harry said simply, earning a smile from Hermione who was standing by his side.
Dumbledore sighed softly, already knowing this conversation would not end well, "I really must insist you remain here today, Harry. It is unwise to flagrantly expose yourself to our world. As you well know there are many here who would see you harmed."
Harry smiled carefully, "As much as I appreciate your concern, Headmaster, it is, quite frankly, none of your damn business. Unless you have reason to interfere with the running of my house then I suggest you step aside. Any further delay and I shall see you arrested."
Dumbledore frowned, but stepped aside. Hermione shot the Headmaster a glare that answered many questions he'd been having, and it wasn't an answer he enjoyed. It seemed the girls truly had been coaching Harry and the last thing Dumbledore needed was an informed Harry.
Ignoring the meddling old fool Harry walked out of the castle, both girls close behind. Walking confidently down the path to the gates all three remained silent, each lost in their own thoughts. They were nearly halfway to Hogsmeade when Luna finally broke the silence, "Can I kill him?"
Harry grinned, tossing an arm around the lithe blonde's shoulders, "Not yet, Love. Maybe later. I'd rather roast his balls over a hot fire first."
Luna nodded, perfectly willing to accept that answer for now. Hermione looked contemplative, and Harry knew she was already forming plans of her own for the old man. Walking into the Three Broomsticks Harry threw an exaggerated wink at the proprietor, Madam Rosmerta.
"Hullo there, gorgeous, hope you don't mind us using the floo, got some business to take care of today and all," Harry said, smiling winningly.
Madam Rosmerta froze, her face staring dumbstruck at the three younger students. While she was very used to the upper years making the occasional flirty comment and hooded glance at her assets, it was unseen for one so young to just blatantly compliment her. Catching onto the fact she was staring like a frozen flobberworm the woman quickly recovered, "Oh, of course, Lord Potter."
Harry smiled, flipping a sickle across the bar which was easily caught by the buxom woman, "Thank you, Madam, I daresay you will be seeing quite a bit of us through here as I work to restore my house to its former glory."
Madam Rosmerta pocketed the sickle without a second glance, "Of course, my Lord."
Harry chuckled lightly, "No my lady, thank you."
Rosmerta's blush was well worth the extra effort Harry had taken to charm the lady, and he now knew she'd be hard-pressed to give the old bastard in the castle any information about his coming and going. Offering a low bow, Harry turned to the Floo and tossed in a pinch of the powder from the pot.
"Longbottom Manor," Harry said, swiftly stepping into the flames. Seeing the correct grate flying towards him Harry started walking forward, lest the Floo eject him forcefully as it had done in the past. Why no one had explained this simple nuance to him before Luna took him in hand annoyed him. But, as it was the Weasleys who had taught him about Floo travel, it truly wasn't that surprising. It seemed that entire family simply expected him to know everything about the wizarding world without explanation.
Arriving at his destination Harry stood still, waiting on his girls to arrive. The moment that Luna came through a house elf appeared as if called. The elf bowed low before speaking, "Follow me, please, young Misses and Master, the Lady Regent has been expecting you."
Harry nodded, following after the elf. They crossed a small hall before the elf stopped. Knocking twice on the door the elf opened it and stepped inside. Harry followed behind, his girls still silently in tow, as the elf announced their presence to the Lady of the house.
"Lady Regent, may I present Lord Harry Potter and his betrotheds, Misses Hermione Granger and Misses Luna Lovegood?"
The Lady Regent eyed the young trio carefully, her eyes piercing through their carefully planned dress and stature. It took her merely moments to discern the complex and unique unit this group made. The girls' heads were held high, clearly not the attitude of a pair of young ladies who were subservient to their betrothed. Harry stood in front of them, clearly the leader, but never the master of the trio. In all her years she had never seen such a united front by children of their age.
Smirking slightly, and feeling very assured that this would be a conversation to remember for years to come, the Lady Regent nodded her head to the elf, "Thank you, Tuffy, that will be all for now."
The elf bowed before disappearing silently from the room. Harry watched as the Lady Regent stood and walked elegantly across the room. The story of the Longbottoms was well known to all of the wizarding world, but Harry had not learned about it until much later than most. There was much more to the story than the sad fate of Frank and Alice Longbottom.
Augusta Longbottom had always been a dutiful wife, a strong partner to her husband, Alexander. It was June 1979 when tragedy had struck both the Longbottom and Potter families the first time. Alexander Potter had been having a meeting with Charlus Potter, Harry's own grandfather, when the wards around Longbottom Manor suddenly fell. The two men had been lifelong friends, and regardless of Alexander's protestations, Charlus had stayed and fought alongside his oldest friend. Fifteen Death Eaters had assaulted the pair, and only Nine had walked away from that battle alive.
The ladies, Dorea Corvina Potter and Augusta Longbottom, were the first to discover the attack, finding both their husbands dead upon their return to the manor along with the six bodies of the dead Death Eaters left behind. Both, being distraught, had instantly handed down the mantles of their family to their only sons. Dorea did not survive to see the new year, as her sorrow seemed to quickly turn the tides on her already poor health.
Having lost her husband and closest friend, Augusta sought out a life of solitude. This lasted until the night of November 3rd 1981. That night was the night that the Lestranges and Crouch jr. tortured Frank and Alice into insanity in an attempt to gain information about what happened to their master, Voldemort. With Frank and Alice incapacitated, and the chances of them ever healing being non-existant, she returned from her solitude with a vengeance. Taking up Regency of House Longbottom until Neville came of age she became a crude and heartless politician, fighting hard to see those who would attack the innocent hit with the hardest sentences the law allowed.
"Lord Potter, welcome to Longbottom Manor," the elderly woman said, her voice clear and unbroken with age. "I must say I was quite surprised when my grandson sent me a letter requesting a visit for you."
Harry smiled, bowing lightly from his hip, "Thank you, Lady Regent, for agreeing to see us on such short notice."
Augusta nodded, waving a hand at a nearby sofa. Taking the invitation Harry led his ladies to the seat, allowing them to sit before sitting between them carefully.
"May I introduce again, my lovely Betrotheds, Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood."
Augusta nodded, introducing herself to the girls respectively. The girls seemed warm and polite, but there was a certain hardness to their eyes that the elderly woman very much appreciated. Her first judgment seemed more true than ever as she watched them constantly eyeing the room, especially the exits. They may be young, but she knew better than to ever underestimate this group. She hadn't survived so long alone on the Wizengamot by being a fool.
"Lady Regent, I am sure your time is valuable so I won't waste it dicing words with you. As you are aware, I have recently taken up my Lordship. As such I am required to either take up my seat in the Wizengamot or assign someone to act as my proxy therewith," Harry said, lifting a cup of tea from the saucer that had just appeared in front of him.
Augusta nodded slowly, refusing to show her shock at the suddenness of the comment. She was used to politicians who beat around the bush for hours before coming to the point, but here was an approach she very much could get behind, "Indeed, Lord Potter. I daresay your Lordship has been the center of many conversations lately."
Harry nodded, turning to Luna who took her queue to speak, "Lady Regent, it is at my suggestions that my husband-to-be has come to you for this conversation. I know that many find my father to be odd, rightly so most of the time, but being odd does not make one a fool. I have been the sole pair of ears that my father has to muse to ever since my mother's unfortunate accident, and he has never said a cross word about you."
Augusta eyed the younger girl carefully now as she spoke, "I see. So you thought I could help your betrothed decide who to choose as his proxy?"
Harry shook his head, "Not entirely, Lady Regent. Hermione, if you would?"
Hermione nodded before reaching into her robes and withdrawing a sheaf of papers. Placing them on the table for the Lady Regent to look at she explained them, "These are copies of the votes cast by each Wizengamot member over the last five years. If you read them carefully, and watch how votes change from time to time, one can practically see the alliances and, no doubt, bribes that come and go. I've reviewed them carefully, Lady Regent, and I assure you I have a better understanding of the trends than my age would suggest."
Looking skeptical the Lady Regent glanced over the papers carefully. Occasionally certain names would be highlighted, or notations made, and following the highlights by color a clear pattern could indeed be discerned. Depending on how you looked at things the Wizengamot could largely be broken down into four groups.
First, there was Dumbledore's group; a staunch and powerful block of votes that largely voted for any bills backed by Dumbledore himself. Being the Chief Warlock, Dumbledore could not directly vote for or against a bill, but a soft-spoken word about any bill saw this group rallying to vote for it.
Second were the Neutrals, their votes typically went for anything that could earn them money. They also were the easiest group to be bought, as they largely didn't care one way or another for any bill that didn't directly affect their profits.
Third were the Purebloods, as Hermoine called them, and it was headed by Lord Nott. Augusta smirked at the note that said it was rightfully headed by Lucius Malfoy, at least before his death the previous week. This group's motives were simple and direct, any bill that impeded Muggle or Muggleborn rights would quickly be backed by the group.
Lastly were the Conservatives, a group that Augusta herself was happy to be included in. This group did show tendencies to vote for any bill that gave more rights to Muggles and Muggleborn, so long as it didn't affect the long-standing traditions of their world. Cross referencing the color coded highlights, it also showed the least altered voting scale, meaning that they probably saw far fewer bribes than even Dumbledore's group.
"Miss Granger, I daresay this is the most thorough and correct assessment I have ever seen of the Wizengamot. There are some who would see you killed for even possessing papers like these, as it does indeed show clear indications of bribery. Not proof mind you, but enough that any idiot could draw their own answers. I would not suggest showing that to anybody else," Augusta said, placing the papers back on the table. Hermione beamed at the praise, before stowing them back in her robes.
Harry leaned forward, speaking clearly, "As you can see, Lady Regent, I have a fair idea of the political climate as it sits. What Hermione didn't tell you, was that she has more than a dozen similar sets of files. That file only clearly showed the bribery and sudden changes in voting that occur, but others are similarly built to show other trends. Such as Votes for Reform, Muggle rights, Muggleborn rights, Pureblood rights, Tit for Tat, and finally, and perhaps most importantly for our discussion, Prison sentencing.
"Following Hermione's projections and trends, I can clearly see the climate as it stands, and I admit I find it inadequate. If the world continues as it is today then by the time my generation comes into power there won't be a government left for us to vote in."
Augusta's eyes widened at the trio of grim faces across from her, "You're talking about treason, young man!"
Harry shook his head, ignoring the loss of decorum by the older woman, "No, Lady Regent, I'm only talking about reform. Can you deny that if the current climate continues then in another twenty years the Muggleborn will barely be allowed to go to Hogwarts, never mind have meaningful jobs?"
Augusta frowned as she thought over his words, "That is a possible outcome yes…"
Harry nodded, glad for any semblance of understanding as he spoke, "I didn't ask for this meeting to get your help in finding a proxy, Lady Regent. I asked because I have already chosen my proxy, and wanted to be clear in my choice."
"Lady Regent," Hermione said jumping into the conversation. "It is clear to us that you have no qualms about Muggles or Muggleborn. Time and time again you have voted for bills that aid them, while voting against bills that harm them. Not a single time has your voting been swayed to one side or another."
"When it comes to criminal cases you like to see swift, decisive and harsh penalties for those who break our laws. Your stance on the Imperius curse alone proves that. We know, and many others ignore, the fact that some not so innocent people have slipped through the cracks of the justice system," Luna added.
"At the end of the day, I can trust the Potter votes to no other. I would, if you decline, be forced to vote them myself. This is something I hope to avoid, as I would much prefer to focus my attention on my studies and the rebuilding of my house," Harry said, looking almost pleadingly at the older witch.
Augusta was stunned. In all her years she had never seen such a well thought out and complete argument. Hearing it come from three teenagers only furthered her near disbelief in this conversation. It was clear in an instant that this group would be the future of the wizarding world, and for the first time in ages, she held a small glimmer of hope for the future.
"I see… Lord Potter, I thank you for this meeting, and while I agree with your aims and motives I do wonder exactly what you hope to accomplish. Even with the Potter votes I doubt that much change would occur."
Harry nodded, a grim smile creasing his lips, "Lady Regent, there is a Muggle saying that I feel is quite apt in describing my motives here, 'Rome wasn't built in a day'. I don't expect change to happen tomorrow, nor the next day, but I do suspect change will happen. This is simply my attempt at laying the first brick."
Augusta smiled broadly, for the first time her face showing true emotion, "Indeed, Lord Potter, with such charismatic people such as yourselves to ensure it does, who am I to argue?"
Harry's answering smile was just as broad, "Lady Regent, if you're going to be casting the Potter Votes, then I insist you call me Harry. I see us being staunch allies in the near future, and frankly I'll have enough of this propriety in the chambers."
Augusta laughed in a way she hadn't thought possible in years, "Young man, you must allow me to tell you some stories about your grandfather. He would have liked you very much, I do believe."
AN: Hope you all enjoyed and please don't forget to leave me a review. Your thoughts and opinions mean a lot to me, even those that tell me I'm a complete idiot for doing something one way or another. I will note that the VERY common idea that individual magical trace can be tracked doesn't hold up in my world here. In Canon the only thing ever said is that Magic leaves traces, not that the traces can be traced to a particular magic user.
Thanks for reading!