Roses Have Thorns
Notes: Harry will now be referred to as Hadrian. His more effeminate features are now being highlighted in the story. Strom will later be called Hadrian's 'Papa', and Amador his Father.
Thank-you all for your reviews and contributions of errors on my part. I think (emphasis on think…) most of them have been edited.
Disclaimer: See previous chapter if still unsure.
Hadrian Cygnus Peverell-Desmarais sucked air in greedily. His rasps echoed within the empty chamber. Mere seconds ago the Potter lineage had been eradicated, all of its assets being merged with the Peverells.
Hadrian had no idea of the ripple effect he was causing. Already, business men and women alike were awakening to phone calls, faxes, and emails– their mobiles beeping repeatedly as they found themselves with a new boss, sponsor or owner. Their incoming messages allowed them no sleep.
Overnight, the Potter name was wiped clean from the public, and in its place 'Peverell' stood, bright and bold. It was chaos, smoothed only by fast thinking and working goblins.
The majority of the British magical community did not notice the shift in power, or the shadows of a great powerhouse awakening. The dark threat of war looming over their heads was much too thick for them to see anything else.
But four wizards in Britain realised what was happening.
Firstly, a trio of men: one with a magnificent sneer as he stood toe to toe with a man whose mouth was one giant mass of teeth – so fierce was his grin that a third, who sat reclined in a sofa, barked "oh stop it, Pads. He brought us good news."
Secondly, an aging man. Blue eyes were hardened to fragments of ice, a golden phoenix trilling next to him. If what his familiar and spy were telling him was true, his golden boy – his hope, was dead. Killed by his over-eager uncle. That goddamn muggle. He'd told the wench to keep her husband in line! This is what he got for trusting someone else.
"Looks like there's a change in plans, Fawkes." Mused the man aloud as he leant back in his chair. "It seems I will be paying young Neville a visit."
No, as Hadrian's chest rose and fell frantically after the blood adoption, he really had no idea.
Staggering to his feet from the cold flooring, Hadrian shivered. He had been permitted no clothing within the ritual room, and his toes were numb.
Painstakingly slowly he hobbled out of the room, following the goblin who handed him back his clothes to which he redressed into. Upon entering Ragnok's office, Amador and Strom stood up from their chairs, watching him worriedly. They had been forced to leave the ritual room after the transfusion of blood and magic to allow for Hadrian's body to adjust.
"I'm fine," he said.
Strom hummed beneath his breath before nodding, Amador patting Hadrian on the head.
"Your features have changed," mused Amador. "You must have gotten your chin and cheekbones from the Potter side, because you have Strom's delicate features now."
Said man laughed at the scrunch of that adorable nose. "Not to mention your hair is silkier. It's still black though, must have been from Amador."
Nose still scrunched, Hadrian peered at the mirror Ragnok handed him. He pouted, which didn't help his next statement. "I look even more like a girl now! My ears! I don't remember them being this pointy, or being this pale or having cheekbones like this!"
Snorting, Ragnok waved his worries away. "You are effeminate, youngling. The features from your creature bloodlines are becoming more apparent as the replacement of your human blood took a backseat to them."
"On the bright side," mused Strom, "I no longer have to take you to my office for a check-up. Your malnourishment, eyesight and any other injuries were healed."
"Ah." Strom scratched the back of his head awkwardly. "I'll fill you in on more of our details later. For now, would you like to visit your vaults before we go shopping?"
Hadrian looked over at Ragnok who was engaged in a conversation with Amador. He waited quietly, watching. The two looked over at him at the same time.
Frowning petulantly, Hadrian wanted to apologise.
Amador bonked him over the head. "Stop worrying, you weren't interrupting anything important. Feel free to ask any questions."
"Are there any books in my vaults?"
Ragnok eyed him speculatively. "There are many books in all of them. Should you wish we can have them shrunk and mailed to your residence come nightfall."
A boyish grin lit up his face. "Would you really?" He babbled on, "That would be smashing if you really wouldn't mind." He looked down, fiddling with his hands before biting his lip and staring at the goblin head on. "And you wouldn't by any chance happen to have any books on learning Gobbledegook, would you?"
There was a very brief silence in which Hadrian realised he'd overstepped his bounds. He kept eye contact with the goblin however, the insides of his cheek mangled by teeth as his lip wobbled.
The goblin looked as panicked. "Don't cry, youngling," he muttered, "I was not expecting you to say that," he levelled a dark glare at Amador who was choking back laughter at the way the goblin looked flustered and lost; so utterly out of his depth. "I should have, seeing who your father is now, but—"
Hadrian peered at the goblin through his fringe, eyes wide and imploring.
"I'll send the book!" snarled Ragnok, ignoring the warmth that grew inside him at the bright, joyous smile that lit those elfin features. "By Morgana the world is going to struggle saying no around you."
The three stood up from their chairs as Ragnok lead them out. "I believe there will be at least four manuscripts you should endeavour to read as soon as possible. They contain the last testament and wills of their last Lords and family secrets. I will have them bundled separately from the rest."
He stared Hadrian in the eye. "I will attach some books that I recommend," he ignored Amador's cackle, and the way Strom slapped the other man over the head. "I hope you enjoy them."
Reaching out, just before they hit the main room, Hadrian grabbed Ragnok's hand. "Thank-you," he whispered quietly.
He didn't have time to see what the goblin's facial expression was, nor did Amador have the time to break down and howl with laughter as they had reached the mass of customers who wished to conduct transactions.
They exited Gringotts, and Hadrian looked up at Amador and Strom, noticing the way the darker haired male had crinkles around his eyes. Strom on the other hand did not look pleased.
Hadrian decided not to ask.
"Now for a wand. For most schools…here, wands are a requirement." Amador noticed Strom's hesitation. With a jab of his finger, Hadrian noticed a sort of clear, filmy barrier envelope the three. It felt like toothpaste against his skin; stinging somewhat, yet cold and calm. "Thanks, Amador. However since you have creature blood, many doors have been opened up for you. In fact," said Strom as he opened the door for Hadrian and Amador to pass through. Overhead, a bell tinkled. "Severus has recently mailed us that list of schools he said he would, along with tutors he recommends and a list of subjects that are available for your perusal."
Their conversation stopped at the presence of another despite the barrier they had erected.
Inside, the room was a positive mess. Many wands stood out at random angles, and many were in odd, almost precarious positions with some in flower pots and others atop what appeared to be a coat rack. Gingerly Hadrian followed Amador toward the desk where a man sat.
The man was eccentrically dressed and not in the way a muggle may view a wizard, but in the way anyone would view this individual.
His shirt was lime green, stains of black and red splattered across it like a canvas. The collar on one side of the long sleeve button down was singed off, the other side sticking up beneath dirty blond hair.
His pants, from what little Hadrian could see over the counter, was something akin to pink corduroy, with the most gaudy of gaudy belts painstakingly holding them up. It was struggling, if the way they sagged ungratefully around his hips was any indication.
Tiny little round circles – specs, Hadrian assumed, drooped off his tapering nose, and the man was balding around the ears, flecks of grey spouting like weeds nearest to his scalp.
His stare was dorky.
Hadrian liked him.
"Birch wood and a Veela hair freely given, nine and a half inches, flexible. Strom Delacour, a pleasure!" The voice was heavily accented – 'Irish?' Hadrian wondered – and cheery. "Rowan wood with the fang of a vampire immersed in blood of a centaur. Nine and three quarters, extremely springy. Amador Desmarais, I was not expecting either of you."
He peered over the edge of the counter and down at Hadrian, brown eyes cataloguing the child barely reaching over the table top.
"And who might you be, little one? I was unaware the Desmarais' had a new addition."
With a quick glance at Amador who nodded firmly, Hadrian raised a hand over the desk. "I am Hadrian Cygnus Desmarais. It is nice to meet you, Sir."
They had discussed with Ragnok how it would be better for him not to reveal his connection with the Peverell's just yet.
"Ah! You're here for your first wand, I assume." A very bright twinkle entered his eyes as he moved around the counter, clearing away empty boxes.
"We would prefer it if he had a custom wand," interrupted Amador, slightly worried for his charge's sake at the brilliant grin that crossed the shopkeeper's face.
"A custom wand? Fantastic! Right this way Mister Desmarais, I'll get you fixed up." The man bumbled off, bumping into shelves and knocking wands onto the ground.
Haphazardly following the wand-maker, Hadrian gingerly stepped over a wand that sparked when he came within a foot of it. It fizzled even as he was dragged over it fully and into a room out the back.
"Right here, little Desmarais, right here…" Stepping onto the platform as indicated, he glanced at the man who was patting his own waist in search of something.
"Aha!" The man withdrew a number of measuring tapes. "Left or right?"
Hadrian stared at the man wearily as he advanced wielding the tapes. "Right."
"Really," speculated the man. "Right, you say?"
"What the hell do you think you're doing, boy?" demanded Uncle Vernon, face blood red and hands shaking as he saw the freak doing his homework with his left hand.
Harry didn't have time to dodge the pudgy hand that gripped his left wrist tightly; only able to bite back his cry of pain as his Uncle twisted his wrist viciously.
What had he done wrong this time?
Tears collected at the sides of his eyes as he fought back against the urge to let them fall – to let himself bawl his eyes out.
He backtracked quickly in his mind even as Vernon's spittle splattered against his face. He had been in his cupboard after cooking dinner. He had pulled out his homework and begun it. He was writing with his left hand.
And he didn't understand. But he knew better than to ask.
He couldn't stop his shriek of pain as Vernon twisted his wrist that much more, an audible crack racing through the tiny cupboard.
"That oughtta teach you a lesson you freak! You use that hand again and I'll whip you into the afterlife, you got me?"
Cradling his hand to his chest, Harry stared down at the floor. He wouldn't give his Uncle the pleasure of knowing he'd hurt Harry. Wouldn't let him see him cry. No. No pain would be shown for the other's pleasure.
As the dingy door shut behind the whale, Harry buried his face into his thin strip of a mattress, howling his pain into it.
He would remember from now on. Left was right and right was left. The world was simply mad, and Harry would have to deal.
"That's better." Humming, the man set off, a sheet of parchment floating next to him as a quill scribbled across it messily. Around Hadrian the measuring devices set off, wrapping around his body.
"Now, I want you to imbue some of your magic into this."
Hadrian gripped the crystal sphere, watching as it clouded over. It was snapped out of his hand before he could fully see what was happening. Standing there, Hadrian analysed the way the man set off around the room, occasionally glancing down at the piece of parchment. There was no pattern. The man was painfully and utterly random, digging here and there through crates of materials and shuffling around glass bottles.
At the knowing look on the man's face Hadrian couldn't help but feel put off that the man wasn't going to reveal his trade secrets.
"You're free to go. Your guardians have paid and are waiting outside. Your wands should be done by the end of the week. Possibly earlier."
Stepping off the platform Hadrian left the store eagerly. Earlier that day Strom had promised him a familiar of his own.
As the bell overhead tinkled at his exit, he found Strom and Amador on the left arguing. He watched, amused, as Amador was backhanded across the back of his head, and Strom stormed over to Hadrian. Hadrian trailed along as Strom held his hand.
Down an alleyway they went, before hitting a dead end. At the end of the street a wooden signboard held the words "Plato's Emporium".
The door swung open as they neared it and Hadrian hurried in, unprepared for the body he slammed into as his path crossed with another's. Coughing at the cloud of dust their fall had created, Hadrian rubbed a hand over his face, before freezing.
The other boy had rich mocha shaded skin and piercing violet eyes, a shade darker than Strom's own. His features were strongly designed and although he was beautiful, he was most definitely masculine. Hadrian didn't feel inclined to like the other already.
"Blaise," the voice rang through the room, sweet yet sharp. "Help him up."
Hadrian scrambled backwards, flushing as he realised the other had been taking his weight as well. He scanned the other carefully. On his feet a rush of calm overcame him. "My apologies, I was not looking where I was going." He held out his hand gingerly, unsure but hoping this was right.
"No, I was not looking where I was going either. A pleasure to meet your acquaintance–?"
"Desmarais. I am Blaise Zabini, and this is my mother Scylla Zabini." Hadrian bowed to Lady Zabini, forcing himself not to gape. If her son was beautiful, she was absolutely stunning. He could see where he had gotten his looks from.
She smiled down at him, full, dark red lips tilting upwards. "Good evening, little Desmarais, and to you, Lord Desmarais and Lord Delacour. I have not spoken with either of you for quite some time, which is regrettable."
"It is, Lady Zabini. Perhaps we should amend that. Would you deign to join us for dinner at our manor? We would enjoy Hadrian having a friend his own age."
Lady Zabini's smile was razor sharp. "It's a delight to know you are eager to embrace our social circles once again. It is even more of a delight knowing we are your first stepping stone."
For the first time, Hadrian noticed the icy smile plastered across Amador's face. To others it would probably look perfectly friendly, but the smile just didn't feel right on Amador's face in Hadrian's opinion. Strom's face was blank on the other hand –a dangerous edge lurking in the small tightening of his lips.
"You have yet to answer, Lady Zabini," slid in Strom's voice like a trickle of cold water.
Hadrian stood there silently, eyes darting between the two sides. Somewhere between their chat an invisible line had formed, and Hadrian found himself stepping closer to his parents. Meeting the eyes of Lady Zabini's son, he found his eyes narrowing at the teasing glint in them. His one sided glare contest was cut off as he stared at Lady Zabini instead as she spoke.
"We would love to," spoke Lady Zabini slyly. "However, Blaise needs to pick up his wand first, and Hadrian looks eager to hunt around the shop." Hadrian blushed slightly, eyes darting away from the enclosures and back to the imposing Lady who pat him on the head gently. "Once we have finished our errands we will be ready."
"We will take down the apparition wards at seven for ten minutes."
"Perfect," Lady Zabini said, already halfway out the door. "In an hour, then."
Leaving Amador and Strom to converse quietly, Hadrian bounced away, staring at the enclosures in fascination. He passed by the front enclosures easily. He didn't want any puppies, even if these were called 'krups'. He remembered Aunt Marge's Rottweilers and shivered.
Trotting happily towards the back, the sound of sibilance upped in crescendo and Hadrian blinked at the sound of many voices. Where was the crowd hiding? He glanced around curiously, but the shop was empty where he was.
'It looks deliciouss, Ceress, do you think I can bite it?'
'Will we be permitted to eat it after it diess?'
Hadrian frowned. 'Why do you wish to kill me?'
The voices went still as one.
Hadrian blinked as the cages of snakes around him filled, various heads of different sizes staring at him from their perches. Their tongues repeatedly flicked in his direction.
'Yes, I speak,' he said hotly. What did they think he was, a two year old? Although truthfully he had started speaking before he was that age. He bypassed the snakes muttering questions before bending at the knees to stare at a very large enclosure. It was covered completely by a sheet of black tarpaulin.
Ever thirsty for knowledge, Hadrian ducked beneath the sheet.
At the front of the desk his parents were conversing with the shop assistant who was regaling them the tale of how he came into possession of a majestic basilisk. He needn't have gone into details about what exactly it was, but he was so proud, and Strom was too kind to brush him off. Amador stood there hiding his laughter at the situations Strom always seemed to find himself in.
It was dangerous, the man told them. Could kill them on sight, so they had taken very serious safety measures to contain and keep the king of snakes from making eye contact with any of their patronages. Very serious safety measures.
Hadrian, snuggled beneath the material, stared, jaw slack at the basilisk that lay curled in a ball. It had jet black scales, and the little bit of its underbelly was speckled with dark greens and blues.
'Ooh, why hello there mutant. Look into my eyes, fool. Look into my eyes.'
'No,' hissed back Hadrian. 'You make it sound unsafe to do sso.'
Hadrian, who had been staring at the rest of the snake and avoiding eye contact, watched as it jerked back as though stung.
'Sspeaker! Take me with you. I will keep you company and ensure your ssafety.' The coils of the snake rippled as it spoke. 'I promise not to harm you, hatchling. I have closed my ssecond lidss. It iss ssafe to look at me.' As Hadrian still didn't look at him, he hissed again, 'I swear to you on my honour as a basilisk, that as you are a sspeaker I am unable to lie to you.'
Slowly, Hadrian dragged his eyes along the length of the basilisk, before meeting its eyes. Two layers of lids covered them from view, and Hadrian knew they were all that stopped him from being petrified. He had read about a creature that could turn others into stone with just a glance before in a fable book Dudley had owned. Now he understood the reasoning behind the tarpaulin.
"Manager! There's someone at the basilisk enclosure!"
Jolting, Hadrian found himself suddenly being dragged out from beneath the dark by his ankles. His stomach rolled as the pressure on his joint increased, and he could see the large snake throw itself at the glass, hissing loudly.
'Get away from my masster you disgusting human. I'll eat you and use your bones as toothpicks!'
Gasping as he found himself face to face with whom he assumed was either the manager or the worker that had found him, Hadrian found himself being dragged out of that person's hold and into Amador's arms.
"You foolish child," Amador said, his arms tight around Hadrian. "Do you know how afraid we were when we heard that cry? You could have been petrified!"
Hadrian accepted their admonishments with grace. "So can I buy it?"
He supposed he should take lessons in tact, if the way Amador burst into words was any indication.
"No! I can't believe you'd even bother asking after what just happened!"
'Masster do you want me to bite them? They won't be able to protest once I do…'
'No, it's alright. These two are my parents, they're good.'
Amador's arms around him froze. He stared at Hadrian. "You're a parselmouth?"
Hadrian hummed confusedly. "Parselmouth?"
"It is an ancient trait that is passed only through blood. Being able to speak to snakes and read parselscript is a highly regarded skill that is coveted, and in some areas, blacklisted."
"Oh." It was Hadrian's turn to freeze.
"You're not a freak."
"You want the snake?"
Lady Zabini and Blaise arrived punctually. They arrived with a loud crack and Hadrian, in the kitchen with Strom, could hear Amador opening the door and greeting them.
"Lacy, would you please set the table for five in the main dining room? The fine china with three burgundy glasses."
Strom continued slicing the crackling pork.
"Finch, the Bourgogue Pino Noir from the cellars please. Into the ice bucket next to the head of the table."
Hadrian watched carefully as Strom neatly laid the food on dishes and washed his hands, spelling them dry. So far, Hadrian had learnt that Strom enjoyed cooking. The man found it relaxing even, and that the house elves tended to watch Strom with a wary acceptance. He had also found out that Strom had veela blood, though it was very dilute. He was able to control his allure and only burst into a big ball of ugly bird when very, very angry. He was also a healer.
Amador on the other hand was like a police officer – an Auror, specialised in tracking and direct confrontation (also known as hand to hand combat and stupidity, according to Strom).
A deep Desmarais secret had been imparted on Hadrian, too.
The Desmarais family was the result of an illicit affair, specifically between the French King of generations old, and the original Desmarais heir - a man by the name of Jacques. It had been discovered by the Queen who kept the scandal hushed while ostracising the Desmarais' from many social circles via under the table methods. The once revered name was dragged through the dirt (however in the recent generations the Desmarais' while not having returned to their high social rankings were at least regarded warmly, leading up to Amador's own birth).
As well as that, while having been hidden from most of the world and France as a dirty secret that needed to be buried, Jacques Desmarais had extended his connections. Rather than wallow in self-pity and hatred he began building an incredibly extensive network of allies, spies and friends alike.
He established many safe houses of neutral domains, housing any and every creature or person who required protection, food, or a roof over their heads.
In the shadows of France, an unofficial King was born.
Whispers of the man and his family who harboured no ill will to anyone and accepted all spread like wildfire among the poor at first, until word reached the social realm of the rich and wealthy.
The Queen had been furious at her lack of ability to quell the man who rebelled against her regime and protected wanted men.
Jacques on the other hand had died a happy man in the arms of his lover, King Amaury II, who abdicated after Jacques' death and helped the underground project – also known back then as Zero Vestige.
Jacques had realised he would never be able to restore the Desmarais fortune to what it once was if her Majesty could do anything about it. So he had done the next best thing, created an empire for his future family. His only wish was that they remained safe, happy and loved.
"Come on, Hadrian."
Hadrian found himself nudged out of the kitchen and into the dining room, the table set neatly with plates, cutlery and dishes.
He smiled lightly at Scylla Zabini. "It's lovely that you were able to come, Lady Zabini." He nodded at Blaise, utterly unsure of how he was supposed to greet the younger Zabini.
The younger Zabini smirked at Hadrian, aware of his unease.
Hadrian's bottom lip inadvertently jut out.
Blaise's smirk grew.
"Blaise," warned his mother.
Dipping his head, Blaise said formally, "A pleasure, Monsieur Desmarais, Monsieur Delacour." He stared at Hadrian and grinned boyishly. "And the little Desmarais."
Hadrian protested immediately, much to Blaise's pleasure. "Hey! I'm not—"
"Let us be seated, Strom and Hadrian worked hard for tonight's meal. We wouldn't want the food to go to waste," placated Amador, noticing the bomb of a situation.
Narrowing his eyes at Blaise, Hadrian took his seat opposite the youth, next to Strom, who sat opposite Lady Zabini. Amador sat at the head of the table.
The meal began, the clack of cutlery occasionally slicing through the air.
"Where do you plan on sending Hadrian, if you permit my askance?"
Hadrian looked up, curious.
"We were planning on tutoring him first. Hadrian will be the one making the decision in the end, though."
Lady Zabini raised a brow, and Blaise took it as his sign to continue her train of questioning. "Beauxbatons, perhaps? Or Durmstrang? Perhaps Hogwarts? I myself am tossing between Hogwarts and…others."
Strom kicked Amador's foot beneath the table, and Hadrian was the only other who could tell as Amador's veal dropped back onto his plate.
It was an exchange of information. In this case they had no need to respond as the information had been offered freely – however it was extremely rude not to reply in kind, or at least give some sort of vague answer.
Wiping his lips lightly with a napkin, Amador steadfastly ignored his throbbing shin. "Hadrian may attend one of the infamous ones, if his choice so permits. However, perhaps Hogwarts for a year or two."
And then the man dropped his napkin back onto his lap and went back to eating with a single-mindedness that surpassed all others. He had grace while he did so, and Hadrian found that unfair. If the man was allowed to keep his body figure while eating so much, at least let him eat like a pig. Nevertheless, that was not the case.
At the admission that Hadrian was either immensely powerful, not human, or both, the Zabinis went back to eating. That Hadrian may attend Hogwarts first implied the school required a relatively large core – too young and a core hadn't developed enough.
Dinner was a quick affair, with the adults sipping on their red wine.
Hadrian couldn't help but admit he was glad when they left. It wasn't that he disliked them or anything, but he wanted to read Severus' letter. Wanted to plan out which subjects he was going to focus on, and potential schools.
Amador, Strom and Hadrian,
As promised, enclosed is a list of prospective tutors and popular subjects. There are many more subjects, of course, however most I have passed. Upon pondering, I have discarded potential academies as the most prestigious of them do not let you choose them – they choose you. I have added comments on most of the potential tutors. I recommend taking self-defence classes alongside swordsmanship. The latter is an old practice that has fallen out of use, however it has many skills to offer. I assume Strom will be teaching you basic healing should you wish. I will be tutoring you in potions, occlumency and legilimency. Do not forget and hire some blithering idiot. Attached at the end is a letter Albus Dumbledore wanted me to pass to Dursley. I have not read it, and I do not think it wise for Hadrian to do so either until he is older.
Blood Rites, Astronomy, Ancient Runes, Lunar Cycles, Elemental Magic, Sex Magic, Duelling, Herbology, Warding, Arithmancy, Healing, History of Magic, Occlumency & Legilimency, Spell Crafting, Divination, Animagus Training, Necromancy, Apparition, Potions, Charms, the Dark Arts and Defence Against it, Transfiguration, Summoning
Persephone Etelvina (do not, I repeat, do not, call her "Persephone" or Merlin forbid "Purse". I will not be responsible for your remains) – Elemental Magic, Sex Magic and History of Magic (Elves tend to have an affinity for elemental magic)
Edvin Tchaikov – Transfiguration and Charms (I insist you learn Transfiguration and Charms to an acceptable level. They are the basics of many other subjects)
Henri B. Price – Herbology and Apparition (I personally would not recommend these subjects for tutorage. Perhaps as a hobby; but to each their own. Amador would be suitable enough for Apparition.)
Sanguini Aani – Blood Rites and Necromancy (do not worry if his diet is a bit eccentric)
Superbi Sanders – Self-defence and Swordsmanship (excellent)
Xavier Veres – Ancient Runes and Arithmancy (you will have to use your connections for this one)
Mitsuki Hyuuga – Spell Crafting and Warding (mind your manners)
Anne M. Cheng – Duelling, the Dark Arts and Defence (regarded as one of the best duellers in the realm)
Remus Lupin – Creature Customs and Animagus Training (may come accompanied by a mutt. Kick it. It requires a very heavy hand.)
A sealed envelope with Hogwarts' insignia firmly waxed on the opening slipped out.
Amador caught it and placed it on the table in the middle of them all.
"You decide, Hadrian." Strom drummed his fingers on the table top. "I would like to tell you about the situation connecting you and Albus firstly, however."
The dark haired man slid deeper into his chair, a muttered "here we go," leaving his lips as he sent Hadrian a theatrical wink. He ducked the healer's blow.
Muffling his laughter behind a hand, Hadrian straightened up as Strom turned on him. Fighting back his smile he blinked innocently at the Veela who huffed and crossed his arms. As strict as he looked a smile curled the corner of his lips.
"Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore – Order of Merlin First Class, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards and Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot," droned on Strom, a dull crease between his brows, looking for the life of him he'd rather be reciting anything else. "He also has many self-acclaimed titles such as the Man-Who-Defeated-Grindelwald, Leader of the Light etcetera etcetera."
Hadrian bit his lip to keep his face from blowing up in a huge grin.
Strom hesitated, and Amador took over. "He is also the man who left you on the doorstep of the Dursleys."
Hadrian's face froze. This man – this so called benefactor of light was the reason why he'd endured so much pain?
"There has to be a m-mistake, right?" croaked Hadrian. "But he's the leader of the light – isn't he supposed to be good?"
Amador looked troubled by this. "What is it that says if you are light, you are good – and that if you are dark, you are bad? What determines what is light and what is dark, Hadrian?"
The child paused in his mental fumbling. "But that's just how it is, isn't it? All the shows Dudley watched, I could hear them," he ignored the look his parents shared, "the bad guy was always dark – shady."
"Hadrian, I want you to think for yourself. What do you classify as dark magic? Do you think people who use 'dark' magic are evil?"
Face scrunched, Hadrian shook his head tiredly. "I'm not sure. I don't understand what makes magic dark yet, but I suppose I wouldn't judge a person on the type of magic they use. I mean, that would be like choosing friends based on their wealth and not their personality." Chewing his lip he added, "It's just not right, and it's fickle."
"Nowadays magic in this realm is termed to be either dark or light. Depending on where you are and the leader in charge, the dividing line between the two can be blurred, emphasised or non-existent." Amador hesitated. "The realm we live in is known as the Mundane realm; comprised mainly of humans. There are many different realms and most coexist peacefully."
"How do you move travel realm to realm?"
A small smile quirked Strom's lips. "Surprisingly it was the Atra realm who created bridges between the realms. Atra is regarded as dark with mainly Demons, Vampires and Drackens inhabiting it; you can imagine," stated Strom, his smile turning wry, "how displeased Albus was to require their help. In fact, he refused any and all offers they made to set up hub points in magical Britain."
Hadrian bounced in his seat, "they didn't take kindly to that, did they?"
A dark look of very evil amusement crossed Amador's face. "No, they didn't." He lifted his teacup to his lips, taking a deep gulp. He sighed deeply. "Morgana this is good. No, Strom, don't kick me, this tea deserves to be savoured."
Strom sent him a heavy glare. "As Amador was saying, no, Atra was not pleased. One of their top war generals, known only by his initials M.R., as names are of importance – remind me to give you some notes on names – vanished from Atra on a top secret mission. It is unknown of what his mission entailed, if he ever completed it or if he even exists. He is but a rumour and there is no way of knowing the truth, unless one is wild enough to storm Atra and question their monarch."
Hadrian watched as the Veela's features shifted from annoyed, to amused, then to frustrated.
"There was a rumour," pitched in Amador. "It cropped up a year back in the Auror department," he flicked the ball of light he conjured up and down. "At first I thought it was just a baseless rumour, like most things seem to be among the gossipers, but some things seemed to ring true."
A glance at Strom told Hadrian he wasn't the only one in the dark.
Fiddling around, Amador tapped a self-conjured ball of light, amusing Hadrian as it bounced into a bunny that hopped around the table.
"The dislike between magical France and Britain is no secret, but this was a particularly dark insinuation."
"Amador. Get on with it."
Grinning, Amador summoned a wolf to chase his bunny. He snorted at the look of horror on his son's face. "Albus apparently caught M.R. and performed an ancient ritual on him, binding his demonic powers and brainwashing him."
Strom raised a brow, patting Hadrian's head as the raven haired kid stared broken hearted at the bunny in the jaws of the wolf. "That sounds rather farfetched."
"It does, doesn't it," smiled Amador weakly.
Strom's eyes narrowed. "There's more."
"I dug into it a little bit more. Just some light reading." He ignored Strom's snort of disbelief. "It seems they weren't just baseless rumours. Around a week after Albus rejected Atra's offer, there was a massive explosion of magic that knocked out the power in Muggle Britain – not to mention that for at least an hour prior to that, no wizard or witch in Britain could cast magic."
Frozen, Strom's mouth clenched and unclenched. "That was the time Elena fled here for help, wasn't it?"
Silent, Amador stared at the table for a moment. "I mentioned it was a particularly dark insinuation."
Strom leant back heavily in his seat. "But that's impossible – why wouldn't she tell us? Ask us for help? Anything!"
"They may not know what had happened either," muttered Hadrian. "They may have been told cover ups from people higher than them, no?"
The wolf tossed the rabbit off the edge of the table.
Conversationally almost, as though Amador were some mechanical speaking machine, he said "There is only one ritual I could find that covers the rumoured 'symptoms'. It requires a lot of initial magical input and has a massive backlash of power."
Strom, having caught the bunny, handed it to Hadrian who massaged its ears and cooed at it. "you seem set in believing it's true."
Running a frustrated hand through his hair, Amador's rushed out in an explosion of anger. "Because it fits – the power surge, the magical requirements, the shutdown of Atra!"
"Atra shut down?" questioned Hadrian as he let the small creature bound around in his hair.
Tapping the wolf, it shifted into a sheep which baah'd loudly, snuffling around the table peacefully. It seemed to retain its carnivorous nature however, if the way it ignored the grass and sniffed around for the bunny and head towards Hadrian was any indication. "They finished creating the portals between the realms and closed themselves off from everyone else. Demons, Drackens and Vampires that attend institutions in other realms are tight lipped and refuse to say anything at all about what is happening in Atra. Even our friends cannot speak a word."
Hadrian furrowed a brow. "Are they being forced?"
Exhaling noisily Amador shook his head. "There is no sign that they are, but Drackens are notoriously loyal, especially to their monarchy." He pushed back his chair, clearly indicating the conversation was coming to a close. "If whatever they're hiding gets out and harms one of their own…they would never forgive themselves. They would never forgive the one who hurt their own either."
Amador vanished from the room, the only sign he had been there his quickly cooling tea.
Strom smiled calmly at Hadrian.
"One of Amador's closest friends was a demon. He vanished after the Atra incident without a word." Strom pat Hadrian's head gently. "I never realised how much it was affecting him. I'll go check on him."
Nodding, Hadrian turned back to the piece of parchment, secure in knowing Strom would help Amador feel better.
Huffing quietly as he knew he shouldn't circle what he wanted on Severus' letter, he trot off to the drawing room, parchment rolled up in his hand.
Sliding the door shut with his foot, he made his way to the large desk and sat himself down on the chair.
Glancing back down at the parchment, he felt the shift in the air behind him, like a distortion in his surroundings. He looked up and turned around at the chipper "Master Hadrian!"
"Fitch," he smiled warmly at the house elf.
"Master Strom be saying you might want to read this."
Raising a brow at the large tome pushed into his hands, Hadrian thanked the small elf before staring distractedly at the weatherworn book.
It didn't look old per say, merely very well used. The binding on it looked fragile but intricately sewn together, and on the front cover had the words Subject Analysis embossed in silver across the middle.
Settling himself down comfortably in the large armchair, the young Halfling flicked the book open.
It had been two days since he had made his decision on which subjects interested him the most. He had debated with Amador about them, and felt relatively confident they were what he wanted. He could always drop and pick up new subjects if they weren't, anyhow.
Currently Amador was scanning down his finalised list of subjects. Hadrian ignored his tuneless hum and continued reading.
"For these last three would you like to have tutors for them too? Or would books be fine?"
Hadrian looked up from his book on Gobbledegook. "Would it be alright if I tried just reading books, and I have any trouble then try a tutor?"
The older, inky haired male rolled his eyes at his son. "Of course it's fine, Hadrian. All of ours is yours."
Flipping his page, Hadrian paused. "And what about Xavier Veres? I asked Sev, apparently he's infamous for being hard to get hold of and hates people other than the prospective student contacting him. Said something about the man thinking the student was useless right off the bat."
"You're right," smiled Amador brightly. "You should write to the other tutors too for practice, yeah?"
Grinning at the forlorn look on his son's face, Amador slumped into the arms of the loveseat Hadrian was curled up on.
He stared at Hadrian upside down, waving his hand lazily. "What are you waiting for?"
Sticking his tongue out at Amador, Hadrian slapped the book into the other man's lap (who flinched, much to the younger's delight) and stretched his legs.
"What on earth am I supposed to write for Veres?" murmured Hadrian as he grabbed his writing kit. "Do I sing his praises to hell and back, or do I question his intelligence and bait him into accepting me?"
Amador quirked a brow. "You require lessons in the art of tact, don't you. Should I perhaps look into a tutor for etiquette?"
Hadrian groaned. "I guess that's a no to both?"
"Sorry kiddo," snickered Amador, "I think there's a more likely chance of him coming here to fry you than teach you." At the look of frustration on his son's face he rubbed his face into the crook of his arm, ready for a nap. "Just be yourself."
Hadrian stared beseechingly at the man who dozed off next to him. His hand clenched the cushion next to him tightly, fighting back the urge to whack the other over the head.
Sticking his tongue out at the slumbering male he set his quill to parchment and sat there.
For ages, unsure of what to write.
Finally, he decided on:
To Xavier Veres
Dear Xavier Veres
Upon discovering the magical world, I have become intrigued in many different areas of study and have found that there are many things that books cannot cover despite ones hunger to learn. I came across your name in a letter from one of my mentors who recommends your tutelage in Ancient Runes, and would like to make good on his recommendation.
Ancient Runes intrigues me for many reasons. How a single rune can hold so much power – meaning, enthrals me; the way they can be combined even more so. I hope that by learning through you I will be able to combine them with my other chosen subjects, mainly Blood Rites, Summoning, Spell Crafting and Warding. The aspect of Ancient Runes that allows it to be so flexible and useable is tantalising. The creation of new spells, rituals and so on using runes is a dream I hope to make reality.
I do hope you consider tutoring me.
Folding the letter he slipped it into an envelope, licking it shut.
Calling out for their family messenger, a peregrine falcon by the name of 'Zeus', he preened the dark brown feathers of it tenderly.
"Fitch," he called.
"Yes master Hadrian?"
"Could I have some bacon for Zeus, please?"
Two floppy ears made contact with the ground as the elf bobbed its head furiously, vanishing from existence one second and appearing again with bacon.
Thanking the elf, Hadrian fed the falcon absentmindedly, his fingers idly circling in the empty space.
It had been a day since he had sent of letters to all his prospective tutors.
Though his wand had arrived in a parcel, Strom had advised him not to use it around home at all. For him to use magic around the house was not a no, however for him to use a wand as a conduit to cast magic was.
Like a child, Strom had explained, acquires language like a sponge before they hit the age of three and become set in their then 'native' tongue, a wizard is much like that with their magic. Should a wizard before the age of eleven attend to magic using a wand, their body becomes dependant on their focus. The foci, or wand, in this case, minimises the amount of magic required for a spell to be cast. It enabled easier casting for all.
Should the child in question train using a wand, their magical core begins to see small bursts of magic as the normality – as the limit, and hence the core of the child will not be able to expand as it should.
However a child who grows up without a foci and channels magic through themselves magnifies the use of magic required, often depleting their magical cores to very low levels (of about five percent). Any lower and the chances of the child becoming a squib heightens. The lower they go without draining themselves completely, the more extensive their magical core becomes. Until they are able to control the bursts of magic required for a single spell, they will continue to always use the maximum amount.
Like a battery, Hadrian remembered pointing out. Batteries when first bought were to be run flat, charged fully, then run flat once more to ensure that the total capacity for battery life was enabled.
Strom had nodded at that.
Thus, as Hadrian was still considered to be in his 'infantile' stage in terms of magical growth, whose core was still expanding day by day until he was eleven years of age where most of his growth went into his physical stature rather than his core until he was sixteen, he should, ultimately, not use a wand.
"Hadrian." Amador's parental tone came muffled through a pillow. "Stop thinking, please. I can feel the agitation of your brain waves over here."
This time Hadrian couldn't resist grabbing the nearest pillow and making Amador eat it.
Laughing, Amador ruffled Hadrian's hair, even as the kid stared up at him sulkily. He was saved from caving into that sweet face by a barn-yard owl flying in.
The tawny coloured owl hopped in front of Hadrian, one of its legs airborne and pushed out towards Hadrian's face.
Tentatively the small boy reached forward. "That was quick," he said, hand closing around the sealed letter.
Hooting, the owl rubbed itself against Hadrian's chin, vanishing out the window before Hadrian could get a treat for it.
"Open it, Hadrian! Don't leave me in suspense – hey Strom! Hadrian got his first letter!"
Hadrian rolled his eyes as Strom all but materialised into the room, forcing his way between his son and his husband. The snowy-haired male ignored the indignant cry of "I was here first, get your own seat!"
Hadrian steadfastly unsealed the envelope even as Strom snubbed the other – "I have got my own seat, you twat."
"Hadrian, don't you love me? Don't you think your Papa is treating me coldly? Don't you—"
Unfolding the letter calmly, Amador's son tuned the man out, much to the man's sadness.
Your letter has come as a surprise; I would be delighted to tutor you in duelling, the dark arts and defence. I am relieved to find you have asked Superbi to tutor you also. As the man is ignorant in the skill of putting ink to parchment, I find myself writing his acceptance on his behalf.
A portkey is attached to the letter. The opening hour for activation is two solar days from now at dawn; the activation code is 'Cysegr'. Your guardians are welcome to join us. You will return home in the afternoon.
A light breakfast is recommended.
Here, the ink around recommended was heavily imprinted, as though the writer were expressing her thoughts on what should happen to him should he not follow what was recommended.
-Anne M. Cheng
The last line was hastily written in messy handwriting, blots of ink splattered around it. It lacked the precise, small handwriting before it.
A brilliant grin lit his face, remaining there even as Amador leaned over Strom and tugged his cheeks. "What a chipmunk you are." He continued stretching his son's cheeks. "Perhaps one day you'll be able to duel me. I'll always win, though."
Strom rolled his eyes at his husband. "Amador," he muttered warningly. "Hadrian, would you like us to attend with you tomorrow?"
Teetering on the edge of saying yes, Hadrian bit his cheek and shook his head. "I can't hang onto your coattails forever," he said at the dejected look that crossed Amador's face. He regretted admitting why as soon as he found himself with a face-full of father, who squarked:
"Did you hear that, Strom! He's learning to be independent! Our little baby's all grown up."
Hadrian stalked out of the room to Strom's splutter and Amador's joyous laughter.
Hadrian had slept on his reply letter both figuratively and literally. Beneath his pillow he could hear the sound of crinkling paper, and his eyes blinked open blearily.
Stumbling out of bed he slipped a jumper on, absentmindedly scratching his head as he ambled to the dining room.
As he had expected, both his Papa and Father were already seated.
His Papa with hair like snow smiled at him, welcoming him to his seat. His Father on the other hand remained steadily engrossed in the papers, reaching out only after Hadrian was seated and running his fingers through his son's hair.
Humming, Hadrian shuffled some eggs on to his plate, followed by some bacon and two hash browns. Standing on the tip of his toes he gripped the handle of the pitcher of pineapple juice which had been set for him, as his Papa enjoyed tea with packets of sugar and his Father strong black coffee, and poured himself a glass. Settling himself into his chair he scoot forward and began eating.
His fork was halfway to his mouth when a loud screech split the air, and he found his bacon being ripped off his fork and into the creature's mouth.
He wasn't entirely sure what it was.
It looked like a crow to him, except its talons were sharper – beak more deadly.
Blinking, he sat there for a minute longer, fork poised mid-air, stomach desperately empty.
Next to him, his Father was laughing into his coffee, clearing finding humour in a moment that lacked it. Sparing a second to send his Father a withering glare, Hadrian nervously raised his hand, the hair on the back of his neck tingling as the creature swooped in suddenly, beak snapping dearly close to his hand.
It inhaled deeply while Hadrian stared curiously at it. Pleased, the black creature picked at the string tying the rolled up parchment to its leg, sending it sprawling into the young boy's lap.
Cooing, or snarling – Hadrian wasn't sure which – the creature began to beat its wings, breakfast salvaged only by a thin barrier Strom was able to erect.
With a loud caw, the black feathered mass took off upwards, and Hadrian was terrified for a second it was going to spear itself on the chandelier, when a large black hole appeared out of nowhere and the bird vanished in a spiralling mass of darkness.
Confounded, Hadrian sat there, a dark black feather slowly drifting down from above.
"And that, my dear son, was a shadow phoenix. You are extremely lucky to have seen one first hand, even more so to receive one of its feathers."
Croaking, Hadrian replied half-heartedly. "Why do I not feel very lucky, then?"
He ignored the cheerful answer Amador was sure to give him, instead sliding his finger beneath the seal and flicking the envelope open. The scent of the salt of the ocean rushed over him, and he couldn't contain the feeling of nostalgia that washed over him, even as he met steady, violet eyes.
It would be a pleasure to tutor you. I am unable to begin until a week, however. As such, I require you to be acquainted with most basic runes. I recommend Runology by Goan Sveriges. We will discuss any questions that you may have when we meet, as well as what you wish to achieve from my tutoring and my expectations for you.
I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.