Title: Things Will Be All Right in Knocturne Alley
Category: Books » Harry Potter
Author: strangeseraph
Language: English, Rating: Rated: M
Genre: Suspense
Published: 08-09-05, Updated: 07-07-08
Chapters: 41, Words: 80,577


Chapter 1: No Place to Go But Home


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: None in this chapter, possible slash

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

No Place to Go But Home

Harry couldn't quite explain what had happened. He was sleeping, and in an instant he saw Voldemort clear in his mind plain as day. The next minute, though, he was laying in a pile of the burning charred remains of the Dursley's house, their burning bones laying around him, and men with wands pointing at him, saying to each other, "Stand back! He's dangerous!"

This wasn't happening. It couldn't be. Harry turned to stare at the smouldering bones of his Aunt Petunia, and shuddered slightly.

"Stand back, careful! He might not be back to his senses yet!"

What was going on? He stood up, and heard shouts of 'Don't move!' follow his every movement. He looked about the room; Uncle Vernon's skeleton, he noted, was in the area of the couch.

Had Voldemort done this? Had he left Harry in the middle of it to take the blame? The question was soon answered.

"How can you be sure it was him Shacklebolt?"

"Look, see the mark on his cheek? That's the sign of a powerful Dark wizard!"

Harry's hand had immediately leapt to his scar…only to find it gone. He didn't feel anything on his cheek though. What were they talking about? He wandered about the remains of the house, the Aurors weren't coming anywhere NEAR him, and picked up a cracked mirror from under the old spring bed that had creaked far more times than he could remember under his Aunt and Uncle's combined weight. He looked into the mirror, and stared.

There was a purple glowing shape on his face; a sigil, in the shape of an eye, with the iris being a four point star. He stared at it, feeling alarmed, and touched it again, horrified.

What was this?

Am…Am I a Dark wizard? Thought Harry.

"Harry Potter," said a voice entirely TOO close to him. "Harry Potter. Harry, are you all right Harry?"

Harry jumped at the sound of a voice, and turned to stare stunned at Kingsley Shacklebolt.

"I…"

The man was afraid of him. Absolutely terrified.

"What's going on?" asked Harry, voice breaking. "What is this thing on my face?"

Kingsley looked at Harry closely for a moment. The terror lessened slightly, to be replaced with sympathy.

"It's a sigil Harry, a sign that shows up on a person who has acquired the natural ability to perform Dark Magic. No practice or incantations required for most of it. You did something I've never seen a Dark wizard do though…Harry, are you all right? We have to take you to the Ministry, Harry…"

Suddenly, being here with Kingsley, and the prospect of going to the Ministry, was terrifying. He didn't feel safe. Eyes were watching him. A cold terror and panic gripped him, and he took a step back from Kingsley.

"No…what do you mean, the Ministry? No! I don't…I can't!"

There was suddenly a sucking sound in his ears, his chest felt tight, like being sucked tightly through a tube with no air. Harry was under the distinct impression for a fraction of a second that he was aparating, and just as suddenly as it had happened, his feet had landed, and he fell forward, glasses cracking on the pavement.

"Shit," Harry swore deeply, and lifted his glasses, peering foggily at them. On the run from the law, and you don't even know whether they were arresting you or not. Nice going Harry!

He pulled out his wand, and assuming that since he was of age about an hour ago so would not be penalized for ANYMORE magic, he tapped his glasses.

"Occulus reparo!" he said. Glad Hermione taught me that one, thought Harry, who put on his glasses looked around. "What the fuck am I doing in Knockturne Alley?"

The dusty etched windows of 'Borgin and Burkes' were off to his left, down the way he could see the street was deserted, as most shops were closed. But he could hear the pounding of some strange music nearby, and hear laughter ahead of him, further down the alley.

And why, Harry thought to himself restlessly. Does this place suddenly feel like home?

Warmth had spilled over his cheeks as tears, and his chest warmed with every intake of breath. He breathed more deeply, still feeling pretty safe, but not much safer than before he had woken up surrounded by rubble. He took a tentative step forward, then another, and felt some unconscious force pulling him towards the music, the lighted windows of a pub called the 'Serpents Tongue Lounge,' and the voices therein. He stopped at the threshold, and gulped.

What if they recognize me? What if they see me for who I am?

This didn't seem to scare him though. A voice in his head kept telling them it'd be cool, go in, its safer in there. Yes, safer in the bar, near the people. He pushed the door open.

The loud music wasn't really that loud after all, just echoed around the dark empty streets of Knockturn a little too easily. But the music wasn't so bad in here, loud yes, but not as bad as the echoing had made it out to be. The music was coming from an old muggle jukebox in the corner that was playing magically, for not being attached to any wall socket. The bar itself was light and airy, the lamps over head were of green translucent etched glass, and there were tables and booths in a horseshoe around the dance floor and bar. Off to towards the back was a stage surrounded by round tables with chairs that were all empty. There was no band playing tonight, and most of the people visiting the lounge were sitting as close to the bar as was convenient, which meant sitting at the bar, or in one of the booths near the windows. Harry headed towards the bar, the barman was eyeing him suspiciously, and sat down. Two wizards in dirty grey robes in a booth were leering at him. A witch in bright neon green hat and high heels walked passed him, and Harry got the distinct impression that she was a 'he' and that 'he' was on a different sort of business tonight besides getting a late night drink.

"What can I do for ye lad?" asked the bartender. He had a cautious, yet curious voice.

"I dunno, a drink? Anything? I don't have any money, so water I guess…" Harry was stunned at just how shaky his voice was.

The bartender peered at his cheek, and the dried blood on his forehead, then at his muggle style clothing that was sooty and ripped. He pulled a glass from under the bar, and a big tumbler of something amber in color.

"Have a firewhiskey on the house, kid," said the man, shaking his head in pity. "Just don't tell nobody I've been giving drinks to youngin's..."

Harry blinked.

"I'm seventeen, actually," said Harry, and looked at the amber liquid the bartender was pouring in trepidation.

"A belated birthday drink then? Seventeen year old wizard's gotta try some firewhiskey on his birthday here, it's a rule," he pointed to a sign over the bar that did have that rule, amongst various other rules that seemed to be meant as tongue in cheek jokes. Rules like 'All Pretty Witches must Kiss the Bartender', and 'The Jukebox is not a Sex Toy'. That last one caused Harry to blush, and look down at the whiskey.

"All right…" said Harry, and got up with his drink to go to a booth and sit by himself.

Harry felt safe. This bar was filled with some of the strangest and dodgiest characters he had ever seen, yet still he felt warm and comfortable. There was no immediate threat. They all seemed to be a part of some strange network of people, Dark wizards, who simply wanted to get in out of the night and get a drink or a bite to eat.

Dark wizards. Was he, Harry, one too?

That's ridiculous. Dark wizards are people who WANT to do evil. I don't. I'm not a Death Eater!

Were these people in the bar Death Eaters? They didn't seem very interested in doing anything evil at this moment. He swallowed quickly, and took a sip of his drink, forgetting it was firewhiskey.

Harry gasped for breath, and coughed. It was hot! It burned! It…was kind of…warming. Harry shook his head, still coughing, and ignored the grey robed wizards who were now snickering at him. Ah, he was already feeling his nerves relax, his senses go slightly soft. The whiskey was so warm. It left a strange amber flavour in his mouth, and a smokey feeling in his throat. There was music, and his brain felt foggy the more he drank.

You're drunk Harry Potter! That's what you are! After only half a glass too! His own inner voice was laughing at him! It was right, but it was laughing at him!

Sucks to be me, thought Harry, taking another thorough drink. Glugluglug. He was safe. The firewiskey was warm. A voice was in his ear, and hands were shaking him. Huh? No, he was fine thanks. Have a whiskey with him? The voice was urgent, and he was lifted carefully into warm arms, carried carefully up stairs, voices muffled behind doors, face buried in a robed shoulder that smelled like Chai tea and essence of murtlap. He was being lowered into a soft bed, a voice still talking quietly to him, then a blanket was thrown over him, all was soft and quiet, and a dreamless world of sleep overtook him completely.


Chapter 2: The Breakfast The Ravens Heard Laughter


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: None in this chapter, possible slash

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, swearing, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

The Breakfast the Ravens Heard Laughter

When Harry awoke the next morning, he had a feeling of fuzziness, yes fuzziness, in his mouth as if his tongue had grown fur. His throat seemed to be permanently glued shut, lips dry, cracked, and covered with a mysteriously salty goo. His eyes were likewise glued shut, and he groaned when he pulled them apart, feeling his eyelashes scream in complaint at being tugged on. The softness of the sheets he was laying in felt abrasive on his skin, and he could distinctly feel a wet slimy drooly substance on his face and the pillow, that smelled like alcohol and phlegm.

Charming, Harry thought sarcastically.

He rolled over and opened his eyes again, which he really, really wished he hadn't. The light coming from the room was blinding, through it was, granted, only the tiny morning sunlit rays peeking through a nearby window. And his poor head was POUNDING. Pounding, pounding, pounding! It hurt even to breath!

He waited a few bated breaths before opening his eyes again, and trying to sit up into a more comfortable position. Big mistake. His stomach churned, his head throbbed, and his vision swam with a gooey liquid. Feeling himself reeling, and close to retching, he steadied himself on the bed as best possible, and reached for his glasses.

Ugh. Is this what they call a 'hangover'? I need water…my brain feels like somebody pulled it out through my left ear and stuck it back in my right! I need to pee. I'm hungry, and god what the hell is this goo in my eyes? Where's the bloody bathroom?

With glasses on, Harry was able to see the room better through his foggy morning eyed vision.

It seemed like the usual musty room to be found at any wizarding inn. The room was packed to near bursting with boxes, cartons and suitcases of luggage, big woolly sacks of clothing, and many cartons of potions equipment and supplies. A desk stood off to the side underneath the window, and it was covered in stacks of envelopes and clean folders, papers and parchments, quills and ink bottles, all looking new and unused. There was an open door, which must have lead to a parlour of some sort, signalling that this wasn't the only bedroom in this suite. Or if it was, the suite itself was quite nice to start with, if not a bit dusty and ill used. There was no sign of a bathroom, but somebody had kindly left an empty pail next to his bed.

Also next to the big brass bed was a side table and a wooden table on nimbly folding legs that had a spread of a light breakfast fare for him: bagel, toast with jam in a tin, juice, water, and a potion in a corked tube sitting on top of an envelope that Harry pulled open with some reluctance to read.

Potter: This is a hangover potion. Use it. Have some breakfast, then meet me in the parlour.

S.S.

The note confused Harry for a moment, then things started to click in his mind, the handwriting became a little more focused in his vision, definitely more familiar, and he dropped the card in revulsion to stare at the food spread in horror.

"Does he think I'm an idiot?" yelled Harry, standing, up, and instantly regretted it.

Harry yelped in pain as the aftermath of one drunken night coiled its clutches around his stomach and brain. He slump to the ground on his knees, and wretched into the empty pail until there was nothing left in his stomach to wretch.

"You IDIOT!" countered a voice in the doorway, and the vomit instantly vanished from the pail. "Take the god damned potion before you wake everybody in the whole building with your yelling!"

"Oh right!" Harry yelled back, once again regretting it, as his voice was raspy and vomit coloured spit flew from his lips, "Like I'm going to just drink some potion from YOU of all people! Its probably poisoned or something!"

Severus Snape scowled at him ominously from the door, which he entered slowly, like a spider moving slowly towards its pre-silk wrapped prey with much relish and anticipation.

"You," the words were slow, and deliberate. "Have been out like a light for eighteen hours. I," Snape put a hand to his chest reverently, "Could have had ample opportunities in the last eighteen hours to kill you, if that was really what I wanted to do…" he moved forward another step. "You, young man, are on the run from the law, hung over and at the mercy of your most hated ex-Potions Professor from school. You have no friends to aid you. You would be advised," the man continued, softly, voice dropping to a whisper. "Not to be so resistant. I have given you a hangover potion, brought up a tray of breakfast for you, and let you sleep in my bed…" again, another step, and Harry felt his frustration mounting with every inch Snape moved forward. "If you choose to accept my hospitality, help and advice, then very well. If not…?" Snape paused for a moment, as if to savour the words he was about to speak. "Then fuck you! Get out of my rooms! And don't come crying to me when the denizens of Knocturn chew you up, spit you out and turn you over to the authorities! Because I'm not going to play fancy to any of your notions of grandeur, or listen to any long poetic speeches of how 'awful' I am for having killed that old fart! Not when you now have twelve dead muggles and one dead Dark Lord under your own belt!" A pause and then a long suffering sigh. "I can give you help that nobody else here can, and explain what has happened in the last eighteen hours since I've found you. If you won't except that help, then I won't waste my time. Because I will not be your scratching post. Not today, not again, not ever. Life is too short and it's pointless to argue."

The silence after the speech was deafening, and Harry swallowed.

"Twelve did you say?"

Snape simply nodded, and waited quietly.

"Uh…" Harry looked over at the tray, and the potion. "What type of jam is this again? Strawberry? I like Strawberry. You know, I've never had a bagel before, it looks like a doughnut with no icing and a thick skin. Do you know how hungry I am? I feel like I've had glue poured down my nose…Do you have a tissue by the way? I could really use that potion now I think…"

Harry would have continued, but something strange and miraculous occurred in that tiny little room above the Serpents Tongue Lounge in Knockturn Alley.

Severus Snape laughed. Not a snide laugh. Nor a sneering dominating laugh. But a laugh, pure, whole hearted and rich, and it rang its peeling tones for many bated breaths before the man finally nodded, and disappeared once more into the adjoining parlour.

The guests of the Serpent's Tongue Lounge would later wonder just exactly whose laughter it had been that had pulled them out of their dreams into the pleasant morning hours of dawn; for in the darkness of their existence, and under the labouring of their daily machinations, never had any of them ever heard anything quite so peaceful in Knockturn Alley, not in many long and aching years.

Nor, even, had Harry Potter.


Chapter 3: The Bacon Just Isn't Bacon Anymore


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: None in this chapter, possible slash

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

No Animals Were Harmed in the Making of This Chapter

"For the life of me, Potter, I had no idea you were capable of such destruction…Even for a Dark One."

Harry had been pre-occupied with eating for a time, and resting a bit more, but finally had joined Snape in the outer parlour to hear what the man had to say. Snape hadn't said a word before this and merely motioned for Harry to sit down.

"But I don't understand, how can I be a...Dark One?" Harry piped up, impatient, and wanting to figure out what had happened. "How did I kill all those people?" said with a slight tremble of guilt to his voice.

Snape had left a copy of the daily prophet in the bedroom for Harry, which the youth had read from cover to cover while munching on some weirdly flavoured bacon, that he was amazed to discover probably wasn't bacon at all, but some sort of protein strips: Snape was a vegetarian. Or at least, Harry suspected Snape of such, he had yet to prove it. But still, it made sense that he would be.

I'd probably be one too if I had to spend every day of my life for years on end watching kids cut up animals and stew their innards for cough potions!

At any rate, the prophet had detailed what had happened. Voldemort had attacked Harry in his sleep, and Harry had retaliated in such force that he blew a crater the width of eight houses side to side where Pivet Drive had been. The resulting 'hole', filled with bodies and house debris, was half a block wide.

"My guess is that you drew energy through your bond to the Dark Lord when you lashed out at him, but you drew so much energy it created a riptide effect, opening your Dark Talent in a violent way. You completely lost control. You not only destroyed the Dark Lord, and all of his Horcruxes, but the entire block as well."

It made a lot more sense when Snape put it that way, but still it was terrifying.

"I barely knew who I was while it was happening," the boy admitted. "I just wanted the pain to stop."

Snape nodded sympathetically, and crossed his legs.

"As to your earlier question, Dark Ones are born, not made. Usually Dark Talent awakens earlier, but your bond to the Dark Lord must have kept it constrained…"

Harry felt a little antsy, and was trying hard not to look Severus Snape, Dumbledore's killer, in the eye. He needed to hear what Snape had to say, regardless.

"So why the….?" Harry put his fingers up to his cheek, not even being able to say it.

"You can thank the Ministry for that one Potter," said Snape silkily. "Around Grindlewald's rise to power, the Ministry of Magic started charming babies with a Protean Charm, I trust you know what that is?" there was a nod from Harry, and Snape surged on. "Any child whose Dark Talent awakens causes the Protean Charm to take effect. A mark automatically becomes branded on his face, and registered with the Ministry. It is so that they can keep an 'eye out' for troublemakers…Not that it's kept any wannabe's from causing trouble. Lucius Malfoy, for example, is an example of a 'wannabe' Dark wizard. Evil behaviour and owning malicious magical items does not equal Dark Talent, by any means."

This was so confusing.

"Dark Talent...You mean, the Dark Arts?"

"No, Potter," said Snape with an annoyed sneer. "Most of the so called 'Dark Arts' have nothing to do with real Dark Talent. Anything seen to be 'Evil' or 'Malicious' is automatically labelled as the Dark Arts, but the terms are NOT synonymous with each other. Dark Talent not always evil or malicious, and there are many Dark Spells that aren't even considered to be one of the Dark Arts by the Ministry."

This was going way over Harry's head.

"So, if the Dark Arts aren't the same as Dark Talent, then what IS Dark Talent?"

Severus Snape took a deep breath.

"It's very hard to explain without explaining our entire history, our heritage, but I can give you a small summary at least. Dark Talent is magic that is practiced naturally by the Dark Ones…Us. The wannabe's have to expend soul energy in order to use their Dark Arts. We, however, can use Dark Magic without much practice at all, and at no expense to ourselves. Example; whenever regular wizards use curses that kill, their souls are damaged, and they become less and less human. WE however, remain quite intact."

"And...how do you become a Dark One?" Harry asked, vaguely overwhelmed.

"Dark Magic is born as a part of us," said Snape, crossing the room to look out the window. "It doesn't cost us anything to use it. It's a recessive gene that comes up sometimes in pureblood and half-blood lines. THAT is why there is such a ruckus by so many wizards about pureblood and lineage and all that. Muggleborns have never been born with this gene. At least, none that history has recorded. It's a really well kept secret; regular wizards don't hear the histories or about lineages and the like. This has always been seen as racial bigotry, but wannabes mostly are just trying to breed this gene into their family lines. It's silly really, because the gene doesn't always turn on even if it IS passed down."

"Turn on?"

"Initiate," said Snape. "Be made use of. Though that's rare, not to use ones Dark Talent. I think you are one of few whose Talent had shown up late. To initiate the gene, one must WANT to use the magic, though it can be an involuntary want," Snape added quickly, seeing the look on Harry's face turn defensive.

"So, in order to protect myself from Voldemort, I WANTED to use magic that would defend me, and in doing so destroyed a whole street…" Harry shook his head. "And in the process initiated this 'Dark Talent', which has branded me forever as a…Dark One?"

Snape simply nodded, folding his lap in his hands and watching Harry for his reaction.

"Um, I think I need a drink…" Harry mumbled, and Snape was more than willing to oblige him with a cup of tea, and a basket of biscuits.

This was turning out to be a very LOONG day.

"So," Harry said when the tea had finally been poured out. "Are you a vegetarian?"


Chapter 4: Of Forest Dwellers who Cut Peoples Hair


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: None in this chapter, possible slash

Warnings: Death, violence, Dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

NOTE: A lot of grammar and spelling changes have been made to the chapters before this one so if you are continuing from the previous chapter I would suggest starting from the beginning to pick up threads I added that you would otherwise miss. Thank you!

Of Forest Dwellers who Cut Peoples Hair

Two hours of living with Snape had been nightmarish, with Snape mostly ignoring him, or sneering at him, as he went about his regular activities. Harry weren't quite sure what the various bubbling cauldrons of potions around him were for, but he assumed they were important as Snape, who had received some owl mail, had to make an emergency trip of some kind upon, and had left him implicit instructions not to touch the potions or he would pay. Snape hadn't come back yet by the time lunch had rolled around, and Harry was getting livid. And hungry.

"Damn that Snape!" Harry shouted at once. "Said he'd be gone for one hour, and I've been stuck here, waiting for him, like some dependent little child!"

"You are a dependent little child, Potter, and stop bellowing, I could hear you in the hall!"

Harry whirled, and there was Snape as if on cue at the door, laden down with boxes and bags.

"Help me with this, and I may just make us some lunch," sneered the man, and Harry hesitantly complied.

"What is all this shit, anyway?" said Harry, feeling sulky.

"This is what we'll be using to change our appearances, Potter, so we can go about as normal wizards," said Snape with a sneer. "Which you will no doubt be thankful for. Hair coloring formula, clean gently used robes, potions to change the color of your eyes, to hide the 'Mark' from your face, change the shape of your nose, give you fake scars, that sort of thing," Snape began sorting through the boxes of elixirs and robes. "I've also brought you some books you'll want to read, mostly books about lineages and Dark Ancestry," said Snape curtly. "The Blacks were in quite a possession of them, and Kreacher the house-elf managed to get some to me during Sirius Black's purge of the house. These old books are more than sanctimonious pure blooded rubbish Potter," said Snape at once, upon seeing Harry's look turn to disgust at the books. "These are History books, which describe the History of the Dark Ones, our magic, and various family trees as well of course. The Blacks, you see, were not only a part of the pure blooded wannabe cult, but also produced very powerful Dark Ones every third generation or so almost consistently. If your godfather had produced spawn, there is no doubt in my mind that they would have been Dark Ones."

Harry picked up one book with a look of a person picking up a dead rat by the tail.

"I suggest you go through the materials, and then after lunch I will assist you in changing your appearance...I..." said Snape, rubbing his arms. "Am going to stoke up the fireplace, and start the soup."

Snape had decided that buying food down at the bar would be too expensive for them both together; since Harry couldn't access his Gringott's account, and Snape couldn't afford much more than what he was paying for rent for the room. Therefore, Snape had decidedly brought several bags of vegetables and canned goods up with him, as well as some loaves of bread and a couple quarts of milk.

"By the way, how are you paying for all of this?" said Harry, pulling out a big book about The Forest Dwellers. He didn't quite understand how that tied in with being a Dark One, and decided to read that one first.

"Um, well," said Snape, sounding slightly guilty. "Since I'm a free radical now, not under Dumbledore's thumb, every Dark One for miles around will undoubtedly be able benefit now from my Potions abilities, and I have a few small 'jobs' in this degree already. Potions Masters are rare as you may know," said Snape grandly. "Four years of Apprenticeship to get the Mastery," said Snape proudly.

"Lovely," said Harry, and flipped open the book while Snape cut up some potatoes with the same precision that Harry had once seen him cutting up thick venomous tentacula roots. "Is that going to be a vegetarian soup?" he asked with a teasing sound to his voice.

"Go to hell Potter," said Snape viciously. "And yes. I hope you like carrots, because they were a bushel a pound at the muggle supermarket."

Harry nearly choked at the idea of Snape going to a muggle supermarket. The idea of the sour Potions Master strolling down the aisles with a cart full of carrots, cumquat's and tofu was an entirely amusing though. Since discovering that Snape was a vegetarian, he had been careful not to poke too much fun at Snape's eating habits; he was a good cook, and Harry felt his stomach rumble as the smell of stewing potatoes soon met his nostrils.

"Smells good," Harry admitted, grinning when Snape gave him a sour look and began to chop up some carrots.

"Read the books Potter," he said, pointing at Harry with his cutting knife, "And the stew will be done by the time you are, I'm sure."

The Forest Dwellers turned out to be an informative read. It was a book about European mythology and history, from the wizarding perspective. Wizards from pre-Hogwarts, pre-Jesus times had lived in the wilderness in huts, working their magic within the natural environment, and worshiping magical deity figures, many of the same Celtic and Nordic gods that muggles of the period also worshiped. The introduction of Christianity to the British Isles brought a split to wizarding culture. One group of wizards became more 'civilized', adopting to living in towns and castles, like Hogwarts, and taking on many facets of the Christian faith. This movement was spearheaded by Merlin, who was one of the most well documented Historical figures in wizarding History. The other half of society were the remnants of the wizards who had lived in the forest huts. They called themselves the Children of Mab, a powerful Witch who they worshiped as a Queen. The Children of Mab tried with much desperation to kept the old ways intact; they built stone circles, drew upon magical lay lines, and kept the old cult magic of ancient times from dying out completely.

The Dark Ones emerged only after a long period of time when the cult of the Children of Mab seemingly dissappeared, and Civilized wizards started to breed together with muggles. The Dark Ones were those whose magical abilities seemed the surest. They could perform the same wild magic as the Children of Mab; wandless, natural magic that most of wizard kind considered uncivilized because this magic was practiced without the use of a wand. As a consequence, the Dark Ones, or the Forest Dwellers as they soon called themselves, were often driven out of wizard towns away from civilized magical society. The magical practices of old became more illegal and more ostracized with the formation of governments, and soon came the emergence of the Magical Standards; Latin and Greek magical notation used for the creation of new spells, and anything else soon became taboo. Forest Dwellers were often called evil, uncivilized, and their magic was slowly labeled as Dark Magic, and rolled up with all illegal groups of magic considered to be 'Dark Arts'.

No modern day Dark Ones had ever made any attempts to change the description; wizards of old practiced their magic in the darkness of night when they would be least likely of being detected, and the term 'Dark' was a proper synonym for magic performed in the cover of darkness. Most mainstream wizards considered 'Dark' to be synonymous with 'Evil', rather than 'Night', however, and even Harry had become confused by the many terms for the different kinds of magic.

"Wow..." said Harry, rubbing his eyes. "My brain is fuzzy from all this reading."

"Good," said Snape. "Take a break, have some carrot soup, and then afterward I'll cut your hair."

Harry looked up sharply, but Snape had turned his back to him in order to fill a bowl with soup. There was something Harry detected in the way Snape had used the phrase 'cut your hair' as if it had some other alternative meaning that Harry couldn't quite fathom yet. But for now, the soup was calling, and the mystery of the comment disappeared into the mediocre bubble that was Harry's memory as he tasted the culinary expertise of the man called Severus Snape.


Chapter 5: Yes, Blonds do Have More Fun!


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: None in this chapter, possible slash

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

Yes, Blonds do Have More Fun!

"Question, before you do this," said Harry, looking at the ominous pair of elaborate hair cutting shears that Snape had pulled from one of his packs. "Is there anything else I should...know...?"

The shears looked more ceremonial than functional, and that confused Harry, who assumed that Snape would prefer functionality over adornment. Snape seemed to realize what Harry meant by this; he stared at Harry for a long bated pause, and nodded, a resigned look taking over his face.

"I suppose I do have to tell you what is happening here. You have such a dismal understanding of wizarding culture and rituals that it often doesn't cross my mind you haven't any clue what is going on around you."

"Hey hey hey!" said Harry, standing up from the chair. "What do you mean, no understanding of wizarding culture? I freaking play Quidditch, and and, I was in the Tri-Wizard tournament!"

"Sit down Potter, you misunderstand my meaning!" said Snape, exasperated. "Quidditch, and sports are enough cultural exchange for the average wizard, perhaps, but I speak of traditions; family and wizarding traditions that they don't teach in the school. Things that are passed down from family member to family member. Some wizards pass down heirlooms, others pass down fortunes, the Dark families pass down their traditions. And the cutting of hair is one of them."

Harry waited, as Snape took a breath before he explained.

"These shears have been passed down my Mother's side of the family for generations. The cutting of hair is...almost sacred to us Dark Ones, you see," said Snape, sounding as if every word had to be forced from him with a bated breath. "There is no person on this globe, Potter, who is capable of cutting your hair, save for another Dark One. There's a magical symbiosis between Dark wizards and their magic, and that symbiosis is present in every inch of our skin, even present in our very hair. A regular wizard can injure you, but cannot dismember you permanently, or leave any permanent scars that aren't magical in nature. Even the hair will grow back to how it was after a cutting by a regular wizard or a muggle. Only another Dark One can alter your body permanently, or for great lengths of time. It is traditional for a Dark Master to cut a youngsters hair, symbolizing his intentions to take the child on as an Apprentice."

Harry stared at Snape in shock, and the man continued with a sigh.

"I am probably not worthy of this honor," said Snape, sitting down in a chair across from Harry. "My own Master died, and I had to ask another Dark One to help me complete my training you see, but I'm the only one here, and you cannot go about without Control. Until you learn the Control, you are vulnerable. An Apprentice bond would allow me to keep you from losing Control again; I doubt very much you want to lose Control as you did when the Dark Lord attacked you."

Harry nodded, thinking about this for a long glum period of time, before something suddenly occurred to him.

"Wait a minute, if I can't be permanently altered by anybody but a Dark One, what about all those times I've been injured before?"

"You are thinking about the accident with Lockhart vanishing the bones in your arms I'm assuming?" said Snape, smirking at Harry's dumbfounded expression. "No doubt that was a fluke; Madam Pomfrey administered Skelegrow to you. Skelegrow, you see, is a Dark Potion to begin with. Bones cannot simple grow back with regular magic. Since your Talent wasn't awakened, you would have been disabled without the aid of external Dark Magic. Of course, loss of bones can sometimes initiate the Dark Talent..."

Harry starred at Snape for a moment, stunned beyond recognition.

"What would being your Apprentice entail?" asked Harry, scratching his head.

"Well," said Snape, still waiting pensively for Harry to sit down again. "You'd be learning from me all that there is to know about Dark Magic, and you would travel with me as, acting as my Apprentice in all things. There would be no need for you to call me Master, I never did with my own Master, actually, and after your training is completed you'd be free of all obligations."

"Obligations?" said Harry suspiciously.

"A Master and Apprentice guard one another," Snape explained with a worried expression, as if hoping that Harry would take his words seriously to heart. "They look after each other's safety, and take responsibility for each other's health and well being. It is much like, if you'll excuse the expression, being in a relationship," Snape sneered at this. "A relationship where one of the partners is the teacher, and the other is the student."

Harry did not like the sound of being in any sort of 'relationship' with Snape. It sounded almost too intimate for his comfort. But then what was the alternative? Search for another Master to teach him what he needed to know? Possibly losing himself again and killing more people? Could he take that risk? Did he trust Snape, knowing all that he did about the man's ability to deceive and manipulate?

Snape was smiling in a smug way for some reason, and Harry soon realize it was because he, Harry, had started to sit down resignedly on the bed.

"All right," said Harry, standing up again. "I'll be your Apprentice on one condition..."

"And what might that be?" asked Snape, annoyed that Harry was once again standing.

"We won't use our magic, yours and mine, in any way shape or form to harm an innocent. I will not condone the killing of anymore innocent people."

"Except," Snape said thickly. "In the gravest of circumstances, then I shall accept your condition. However, the Master Apprentice bond can only be broken by the Master initiating an Apprentice into their full Mastery, or if either of them dies. So do not take these conditions as binding, they cannot act as a severance of any kind..."

"Only a severing of trust," said Harry thickly, and smirked when Snape looked momentarily startled.

"Irritating whelp," said Snape with a sneer. "Sit down then, and I shall cut your hair!"

Harry did so, and Snape lifted the shears to began to snip carefully at Harry's wild and seemingly unmoving locks of thick messy black hair. As if Harry's hair had been waiting for this moment, the hair cut took shape quickly, and Harry noted that Snape seemed to revel in his workmanship, pulling his fingers across the shortly clipped remainder in appreciation. Harry stiffened in panic, and Snape bent down to stare deeply into Harry's eyes.

"And now I make you my Apprentice. Your training will begin at dawn."

A spark of magic crackled between them, momentarily stunning Harry, and suddenly, vaguely, he actually felt that bonded to Snape, in some invisible way in the back of his mind, like he had been bonded with Voldemort. Snape then stood, strode across the room to pick up one of his bags, and head into the bedroom to change his clothes as if nothing amiss had even occurred.

Harry stood dazedly, feeling some sort of tingling from his hair down to the tips of his fingers, and went over to a mirror to inspect Snape's handiwork. His hair was sheered nearly down to the scalp, and was actually quite a pleasant cut, the best, in fact, that Harry had ever had.

"You like it?" said Snape, coming out from the bedroom wearing what looked like dowdy green robes.

Harry nodded vaguely.

"Good," Snape sneered amusedly. "Because your hair will now grow out from that cut as slowly as a muggle's hair would. You should change into your Apprentice robes so we can start altering your appearance. I asked Borgy, my contact, to file paperwork at the ministry identifying us as an old Italian Potions Master by the name of Arcturus Benedini, and his Apprentice, Nathan Greenbow, a student from Australia. I'll give you a potions to alter your accent to sound more Australian in dialect. I suggest blond," said Snape, pulling a vial of hair coloring potion from one of the boxes. "Take the potion, and then shower; the application of water will activate the potion. We can alter your eye color afterwards. Tomorrow, when we start your training, we'll begin with a simple spell that after many applications will permanently correct your eyesight. Now then, I'm going to work on supper, since you've taken up so much of my time today as it is..."

"What about the mark on my cheek?" said Harry, vaguely.

"It'll be gone by dawn," said Snape simply. "I removed the Protean Charm that was placed in your skin. The eye mark will dissipate overnight."

Then Snape went about the motions of making dinner, and Harry found himself moving as if by rote towards the bathroom.

"Well," said Harry decidedly. "I guess blond it is," he added this grumpily, having not been given much of a choice in the matter, and downed the vial of potion he had been handed. With a heavy sigh he took a deep breath, and climbed into the shower.


Chapter 6: In Building a Relationship's Backbone


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: Light pre-slash, SS/HP

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

In Building a Relationship's Backbone

Harry stared at himself in the bathroom mirror.

"I don't think I'll ever get used to being blond, well, dirty blond, the potion didn't quite lighten my hair, certainly not as blond as Draco Malfoy's is," he decided quietly, while rubbing his hand over the sheared ends of his hair. "I can't imagine what being Snape's Apprentice is going to be like either..."

"Who are you yapping to in there?" a voice demanded from outside the bathroom.

Guess I CAN imagine it, Harry thought wryly, and wrapped himself in a towel.

"Got some clean clothes waiting for me?" he asked, peeking out the door.

"Oh don't be shy," Snape said scowling. "Come out here, really, there's your clothes, change. And that color looks great on you; we change your eye color and get rid of the glasses and you'll be practically a stranger."

Harry snorted at that, then lifted the robes that Snape had selected for him. They had the appearance of robes that had been worn by a young penniless person, and were cut in a rather old fashioned pageboy style.

"Thats the traditional garment of an Apprentice, both amongst the Dark Ones AND Potions Masters, and you will eat, sleep, and do magic in those robes until you are free of your Apprenticeship," said Snape blandly. "I had similar when I was your age, and they were not pleasant to wear, but those are the rules governing Mastery. The threadbare robes we wear symbolize our dedication to our Art," he added seeing Harry give the robes a soft glare. "There's some socks, don't worry about shoes now, you'll be sleeping at any rate. And we'll be sharing my bed this time," said Snape with a wry sneer. "That is a situation you'll need to get used to if we're going to continue sharing quarters."

Harry stared at Snape as if he had grown three heads, and Snape doled him out some supper; fresh bread, veggies and rice.

"Well, hurry up and dress! Come on then!" snapped Snape, and Harry rushed to comply.

It was strange that night, laying on his side on the bed, in full robes, with the sleeping Snape curled up next to him in his own Masters robes, so that Harry could feel the man's bony back poking against his own through the thin layers of cotton between them.

"Do me a favor," said Harry groggily as Snape got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. "Make the bed a bit larger? You take up a lot of room for such a skinny guy."

"Thats because I have a crooked spine potter," admitted Snape. "I have to use strong charms to walk upright during the day...And there's not enough room in here to enlarge the bed any more than I already have, so don't complain!"

Harry stared at Snape in curiosity for a moment. Snape rolled his eyes and then pulled off his robe and pulled up his undershirt so that Harry could see the horrible misalignment of his back.

"How...When?" Harry sputtered in shock.

Snapes body had the appearance of a u-bend pipe, with his skinny form squished and stretched sideways to accommodate the weird shape of his spine.

"It happened when I was a child," answered Snape simply, with no emotion in his voice. "My back was broken, and it never quite healed correctly because it was a Dark One, my father, who broke it. My spine simply grew more crooked as I got older. There are some things that even Dark Magic can't fix permanently..."

Harry stared horrified at Snape as he shuffled into the bathroom, looking like somebody had stuck a large spike in his belly so that he had to shuffle stooped over to push the bathroom door open.

He must take the charms off at night so he can sleep laying down without discomfort, thought Harry guiltily. And Here I've been complaining about not being able to roll onto my back, he can't even sleep on his!

There were no more complaints after that. When Snape shuffled back to bed his spine looked a little straighter. Had he replaced the Charms?

"Eh, shove over Potter," said Snape, and he crawled under the sheets at last. "And I'll sleep facing you, if it'll make you more comfortable."

Harry wasn't sure that it would. All the previous days talk of Masters, Apprentices, and relationships had made him nervous and edgy for some reason. Snape was his Master now, his teacher. Harry had gone into it willingly, almost by instinct, and had come out of it blond, and in bed with Snape.

"Oh relax, Potter, I'm not going to try and seduce you or anything, I'm your Master not your affianced!"

Harry blushed, not that Snape would be able to see him blushing in the dark, and rolled over so that he was also likewise looking at Snape.

"Does it hurt, having to use those Charms on your back?"

"Sometimes," Snape admitted. "But I think my back is starting to correct itself naturally. It's only a guess, but over time Dark Magic can start to form a symbiont relationship with regular magic that is applied on a daily basis. Dark Magic can change and adapt, as I taught you in your sixth year in Defence Against the Dark Arts," Snape's voice took on a sneering tone at this. "That is how we will be correcting your poor vision, Potter. And well, my spine, I've discovered, has the automatic habit of straightening itself without charms between certain periods of the night, and especially full moons when the Dark Talent is its strongest, which suggests that a pattern is taking hold. Eventually I may not have to apply charms at all, the Dark Magic will support me. It usually happens around this time when I get up to use the loo."

"You speak of Dark Magic as if it were a creature, or thinking being?" said Harry humorously, feeling his nose prickle with the formation of an itch. He dare not scratch it

"Well, you read The Forest Dwellers correct?" Snape said, and Harry nodded. "Well, Ancient wizards believed their magical power came from their deities. To break contact with the deities was to become weak; that excuse was often used in older times as the 'reason' why squibs were born, and muggles gave birth to magical children; it was punishment upon the wizarding world for abandoning the old gods. Thats mostly baloney in my brain, but..." Snape straightened slightly in bed, and grinned. "Sometimes, the Dark Magic seems eerily intelligent..."

Harry shivered, and scratched his nose at last. It seemed like it was difficult for either Snape or Harry to rest easy tonight, under the tingling presence of their new bond.

"Well," said Snape gently, as if he had read Harry's mind. "Night is usually the most magical time of day for us Dark Ones. There is something...spiritual about it. Something cosmic."

Harry nodded vaguely, and felt Snape's whisperingly silky voice soothing him down slowly into sleep.

I am sleeping in the bed of my Enemy. I have given myself over to him, and made him my Master. I have made him my Teacher, Provider, Mentor, and perhaps one day he will be my Friend. He is my only link now, the only bastion upon which I can support my magical future. What have I gotten myself into?


Chapter 7: Bitterly the Taste of Slavery Remains


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: Light pre-slash, SS/HP

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

When Bitterly the Taste of Slavery Remains

The next morning, Harry woke to find himself alone in the bed. The smell of Snape still clung to the bed however; Chai tea and murtlap, with just the hint of potato peel. Harry sat up dazedly, rubbing his face with his hands, and then reached for his glasses, only to find them gone.

"Huh?"

"You sleep for entirely too long, my young Apprentice," came Snape's voice from the area of the doorway. "You've slept right through breakfast, so we'll just start with your lessons...Up, on your feet. I'm going to charm your vision, so you can see, then teach you how to clean your body with magic."

"I like taking baths," said Harry, standing up, and wandering vaguely in the direction of Snape's voice.

"Yes, but in future, being on the go, we may just not have a bathtub or even a bathroom at our disposal, Dark Ones often travel from place to place. Permanent residences are risky for our kind. Unless of course you happen to be Albus Dumbledore, with the Ministry of Magic on your side..."

Harry blinked, and suddenly found Snape's fingers touching his face.

"Dumbledore was a...Dark One?" asked Harry, feeling his voice break at the thought.

"How many times have I told you; Dark does not equal evil. Oh, Dumbledore had a great little set-up. He was a Dark One, but his great works for the wizarding world, and his strong position as Headmaster kept him from coming under Ministry fire, until of course your fifth year, where Cornelius Fudge started to see that Dumbledore was harder to control then most other wizards, his magic was stronger than most other wizards. He started to become suspicious and suspect Dumbledore. You know what happened then..."

Harry nodded his head, and Snape's fingers hadn't moved from his face. There was a faint tingle of magic in Snape's fingertips, and his eyesight was slowly becoming clearer.

"Wait...wait!" Harry jumped back from Snape, almost in horror, as he was able to put two and two together. "Albus Dumbledore was your Master wasn't he?"

"Yessss," said Snape thickly. "He was. Hold still while I'm casting this spell on you, or your eyesight could be ruined permanently."

"You...you killed him...Why?" Harry was shaking, and Snape's fingers were back on his face.

"Its complicated," Snape said, sounding almost unwilling to talk about the issue. "There are so many facets to everything that led up to that event. I didn't want to kill him; I had to. He forced me in every capacity. He ordered me to do anything I could to get information about the Dark Lord, including taking Unbreakable Vows, which I have taken many of. Thankfully, I am free from almost all of those Vows now, which is a breath of fresh air to be sure."

Snape was massaging Harry's face now, and Harry said nothing in response, so Snape continued.

"Albus...was not kind to me in privacy. He," Snape swallowed hard. "Kept me practically as a slave under him. I was Apprenticed for many years more than I should have been. He never taught me any Dark Magic, he never showed me how to use my power, he simply wooed me into being his Apprentice with promises of power and friendship, and then took Control of me. I had no say in it; he could cut off my magical abilities at any time if he liked, neuter me magically so that I could barely function without his consent."

"So how were you able to kill him, if he could cut off your magic at will?" Harry asked tensely, not darting to move away from Snape's fingers.

"Well, he had started to become weak, and lost his Control of me. Really, thats basically it," said Snape, pulling his fingers away from Harry at last.

Harry blinked as he looked around him, clearly, for the first time without any fog.

"I still don't understand," said Harry in frustration. "You were his Apprentice, he trusted you!"

"He trusted me cause he could Control of me," said Snape acidly. "Or he thought he could. But he kept me bonded to him longer than most Masters do. Eighteen years! Apprenticeships end at four years or less! He controlled everything; my occupation, my magic, even my freedom! He just barely kept me a hairs breadth out of Azkaban, yet it was he who had made me take the Dark Mark to spy on the Dark Lord in the first place! I was stuck, practically a slave to his whims! Do you think that I could trust him after that? Stay loyal, like an obedient slobbering mutt?"

Snape stomped over to a bag, and pulled out something, that Harry slowly recognized to be a polished gray stone of some kind, painted with runes. He put it between his hands, which he then rubbed together. Harry got the feeling that Snape was very stressed out now, and about to go on a roll of humongous proportions.

"So," said Harry neutrally, putting on a curious and non-threatening tone in hopes of quelling and controlling the emotional dam of Snape's emotions before it broke completely. "If he Controlled you, how did you manage to kill him?"

"Well," said Snape, calming down fractionally, "He tripped himself up in the end. I had started to rebel against him, and had started learning as much as I could about the Dark Ones. Mostly from the same Dark Lord I had been instructed to help Dumbledore thwart. The Dark Lord had an apprentice, Bellatrix Lestrange, but he was willing to let me use his resources and learn from him, since Bellatrix was in prison. Trying to keep me under forced Control, twenty four hours a day, for eighteen years, well, that's just too much for one man. Albus started to lose his grip, his reactions started to become much slower. In the end he couldn't even stop me from performing the Killing Curse, barely even tried. As to why I killed him? I felt," Snape said thickly. "That freedom was preferable to death."

Harry frowned.

"That just doesn't sound like Albus Dumbledore," he said, feeling tears starting to burn in his eyes.

"He knew about the Unbreakable Vow, Potter...Harry," Snape gently corrected himself. "He knew it had to be him or me in the end, thats why he gave me the Defense Against the Dark Arts position, in hopes that perhaps I would leave Hogwarts under the Dark Lord's curse before that could happen," Snape sat on the bed, and breathed deeply. "Albus Dumbledore didn't make me his Apprentice out of understanding, or a commitment to teaching me about our heritage, he took me as an Apprentice to further his cause. I was just a tool. And he wasn't about to sacrifice his own life for any tool, no matter how much that tool cared for him."

Harry stared at Snape now, seeing him in an entirely different light. The man's look had become sad and grievous, and Harry felt that the only thing keeping the man from crying was his own pride. Harry felt something hot building in his chest...something painful. He was mourning inside. Mourning Albus Dumbledore, and mourning Dumbledore's mistakes; his humanity. And he mourned the fact that Severus Snape had killed his own Master, had been forced to free himself from an Apprenticeship which had become too horrible to bear any longer. Harry felt something else stir inside him; panic.

"And what would keep you from doing that to me?" said Harry. All the fight had gone out of him, and his voice became hoarse, and frightened. "How do I know that you aren't keeping me trapped under your Control the same way?"

"Because, Harry, I cut your hair," said Snape simply. "Because I followed the tradition. And will continue to follow the traditions of the Dark Ones for as long as I am your Master. I have no intent to enslave another person. I want allies, not slaves, and you'll be a good ally indeed," Snape started to walk forward hesitantly, "If you need me to take an Unbreakable Vow swearing that I will release you after the usual four years, I will. But, believe me," his voice was thick and crushing. "I will never, ever do to another human being what Albus Dumbledore did to me. Using the Killing Curse on him is merciful in comparison."

Snape then turned ninety degrees and stalked out to the parlor, leaving Harry alone. The pleasurable aroma of biscuits filled Harry's nostrils, and he laughed when he realized that Snape had made him a late breakfast regardless of his rule about being out of bed in time for breakfast. Something soft, gentle, and forgiving, deep inside of Harry had started to grow, and there was no going back.

Harry Potter was an Apprentice, and Severus Snape was his Master.


Chapter 8: When Italians Grumble over Sickles


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: Light pre-slash, SS/HP

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

When Italians Grumbles over Sickles

"So Voldemort completed your training in Dark Magic, but that didn't make him your Master?" said Harry conversationally.

They had finished the biscuits, and Snape was now having Harry help him bottle up some potions for a customer of Snape's, which were due to be delivered before lunchtime.

"Thats right, Harry," said Snape carefully. "He taught me, but as I already had a bond with Dumbledore at the time, he couldn't take me as an Apprentice, nor could he take another Apprentice after having taken Bellatrix as one. There's a magical barrier between Dark Ones when one is bound in Apprenticeship, a bond that even Albus Dumbledore understood. Sad that he didn't give our bond as much consideration and respect that the Dark Lord did."

The dam of hostile emotions between them having been tentatively repaired, they were nonetheless on very fragile ground. Harry was hoping by being familiar and non-hostile he could talk more with the man without upsetting him.

"We're going to be late," Snape hissed suddenly, checking his watch. "Not good."

"I'm sorry," said Harry. "You were going to teach me how to clean myself, and you ended up doing it for me..."

"Potter, don't," said Snape. "Here, take these vials. Its my own fault, not yours," said Snape, reprovingly. "I let myself get distracted from my work, usually I have my orders done and ready before breakfast the day they're due..."

Harry stared at Snape, and simply kept quiet, following him around and doing as told.

"We can work on your apprenticeship training later, but first," Snape packed up all the potions, and dragged Harry back towards the bedroom. "We should change your eye color; my customer knows me well, but she might not be happy about seeing you, and it would be better if you remained Nathan Greenbow to my customers from here on in."

"All right, um, who's your customer?" said Harry, as Snape went through the vials of eye color changing potion, and then handed one to Harry to drink.

"Well," Snape bit his fingernail. "Narcissa Malfoy."

Harry sputtered on the potion.

"What?" said Harry, and his eyes turned silvery gray.

"Yes," said Snape "And I promise you she won't recognize you, have a look in the mirror," and Snape was smiling amusedly.

Harry looked into the mirror, and stared. A blond boy with gray eyes stared out of him, a boy that wasn't Harry Potter. A boy who was confident, well cut and looked very professional in his Apprentice robes.

"Yes, I think we'll fool her," Harry agreed grinning.

"Well then, I suppose its my turn to make some changes," said Snape. "Narcissa knows me, but if we are going to be seen out in public together, we should go all the way, and go straight to Diagon Alley. What do you say, a bit of gray in my hair?"

"Sounds good to me. And green eyes," said Harry, teasingly. "You might want to change your nose, its got a distinctive hook to it..."

When Snape was finished he had graying black hair, green eyes, and a straight nose.

"Perhaps I should cut your hair," said Harry teasingly.

"If you'd like," said Snape. "Some older aged Apprentices do do that, symbolize their intent to be supportive of their master..."

Snape handed Harry his ritual shears, and Harry very carefully trimmed the man's hair, smiling at the result. Short, at the nape, with some flyaway strands and roguish bangs.

"Lordy, I look like a celebrity," said Snape with a chuckle as he looked in the mirror.

"If you're a celebrity then I'm your groupie," said Harry amusedly. "With the robes you'll look so much different."

"And a hat," said Snape decidedly, pulling a short green pointed top hat out of one of the bags of clothing. "I suppose Narcissa will have a shock upon seeing us," he smirked.

"I bet she will," Harry agreed nervously.

"Well, shall we head out, then, Nathan Greenbow, of Australia?" said Snape warmly. "Oh! I forgot, one more thing. We need to take potions, to change the sound of our voices. That we cannot forget."

Soon Arcturus Benedini, fashionably dowdy Italian Potions Master, gray haired and green eyed, walked confidently down Diagon Alley, with his handsome blond haired Apprentice Nathan Greenbow following close behind him, laden down with an order of potions for their wealthy and influential customer. Faces turned appreciatively to the pair, nobody ever suspecting that the handsome and respectful looking duo had anything to do with the two highly dangerous wizards, Severus Snape and Harry Potter, whose faces were plastered on shop windows all the way down the street.

The rows of shops that were open to customers seemed a lot more vibrant and active than the last time Harry had visited Diagon Alley, and he felt suddenly worried that he'd see somebody he knew, that someone would stop them to talk.

But Snape continued walking at a brisk pace, only stopping to reinforce to Harry not to shake the cartons of finished potions too vigorously or the potions would be ruined. They came at last to a building that Harry didn't recognize; it was a travel junction of some sort, and Harry suddenly realized that it was a Ministry sponsored portkey and floo station.

"Now relax," said Snape, his thick Italian accent rolling off his tongue casually. "This will be our first test of our disguises," he whispered, and they got in line to request a portkey.

"May I help you?"

"We need to portkey to number Old Bellriver Drive, Eddington," said Snape elegantly..

"All right, number of passengers?" the clerk snipped, not impressed by the seemingly pompous and dowdy foreigner he had been presented with.

"Two with baggage," said Snape casually.

"Names and occupations?"

"Arcturus Benedict, Potions Master," said Snape, with a cool appreciative pause at the sound of his own pseudonym. "And Nathan Greenbow, my Apprentice," he added with a vague flick of his hand.

Harry smiled when the portkey clerk turned to look at him carefully.

"Very well," said he with a snippy sound. "Four galleons and sixteen sickles that will be, thank you."

Harry stared in awe as Snape carefully counted out the fare, grumbling about how expensive it was to travel now that Rufus Scrimgour was Minister of Magic, then accepted the portkey with an extravagant wiggle of his hand.

The portkey trip was quick, and when they landed, Harry laughed loudly, bending over snorting and hiccuping.

"Oh god, that was so much fun!"

"Wasn't it though?" said Snape, smirking in amusement himself.

"What was that about, though, about having to pay for the portkey?" Harry said, standing up and wiping his eyes.

"Oh," said Snape. "You've never had to travel by traditional portkey, every portkey you've probably taken would have been paid for in advance. But portkeys used to be a little less expensive; four sickles a person to be exact. Times are changing," Snape sighed regrettably, and spent a few moments checking the packs to make sure the potions were still intact.

Soon, Harry had the packs on his back again, as an Apprentice should, and they were headed primly down the road.

"Suppose you tell me what sort of manners and behavior I should have around Mrs. Malfoy?" Harry said, feeling that his Australian accent was rather unfamiliar even to him.

He would probably fool Mrs. Weasley with this getup, if he ever came across her.

"Total obedience to me," Snape said, thickly. "Good manners. No sarcasm, no speaking out of turn and definitely laugh at her jokes, but not too hard, and not in an annoying way. Light laughter. Don't get angry if she says something that is anti-muggle or the like either, basically treat her as you would your own Mother."

Harry nodded, and then stopped in his tracks, stunned, as he finally set eyes on Malfoy Manor. It was larger than he imagined, but less ominous. He had to admit; he had imagined a dark crumbling castle to be the home of Death Eaters. He did not, however, imagine a sprawling and beautiful country estate, with elegantly arching gates and tall plants of ivy trickling down from the eaves and balconies. Nor did he envision beautiful sculpture; fountains that trickled into sparkling lily ponds, statuesque angels with their arms outstretched, and horns in their hands filled with beautiful showers of rainbow flower blossoms. Pretty hedge lined stone pathways led to white wooden gazebos and the shaded cove picnic area near a sparkling lake, where a long ebony and white boat with blue sails was docked at a tiny sparkling white painted marina.

"This is...beautiful..." said Harry, staring blankly.

"Like it?" said Snape amusedly. "If you impress Narcissa with your good behavior she may just invite us both to stay here for a week or two."

Harry gulped, and then stiffened when Snape walked quickly towards the arching gates, which parted before him.

"Well, what are you waiting for? A written invitation? Come along, she's waiting!"

Harry hiccuped nervously, and then with a deep breath, followed quickly at Snape's heels across the well manicured lawn of Malfoy Manor. Snape pulled on the bell chain, causing the jingling of chimes to ring within, and Harry was starting to feel, vaguely, that he was getting in way over his head.


Chapter 9: The Green Green Grass of Home


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: Light pre-slash, SS/HP

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

The Green Green Grass of Home

Harry had expected a butler or a house-elf to answer the door; he was surprised then when Narcissa Malfoy herself appeared behind it, looking a little dreadful under the many layers of her black lace gown. Harry wondered if she were mourning.

"Yes, can I help you?"

"Cissy, darling," said Snape warmly, arms open. "Have you forgotten already your favorite Potions Master? Its me Arcturus Benedini!

Harry had to admit, Snape's Italian accent was very amusing. Narcissa Malfoy turned her head in thought, as if trying to recognize him, then she smiled fully, and laughed.

"Ah!" she said joyously. "Wonderful! I barely recognized you, my dear friend! You're getting so old and gray!" she winked. "Come in, come in, of course, and who is this young man?" she turned to look at Harry with a slightly suspicious but amused look.

"Nathan Greenwood, my Apprentice," Snape said, stressing the word Apprentice.

"Well, its a pleasure to meet you," said Mrs. Malfoy, somewhat startled, and she pushed back the door so they could enter.

"Likewise, Mrs. Malfoy," said Harry respectfully, and he followed her and Snape through the house.

"Come to the parlor loves," said Mrs. Malfoy warmly. "The Aurors have been in and out of my house all day, and I've been frantic, but having you here," she turned to smile at Snape, and take his hands tearfully. "Its such a joy."

They settled into the parlor and she closed the door behind her. Harry was happy when Snape immediately removed the pack from his shoulders, and he could straighten his back with a stretch.

"The potions may be a little shaken, the portkey ride was bumpier than I expected," said Snape sadly. "The Ministry portkeys are of such low quality these days..."

"No worries, dear," said Mrs. Malfoy grandly. "I'm sure I can expect great quality from the potions that you have brought me, of that I can always be sure with you. A little shaking is no bother."

Harry stood back respectfully while Mrs. Malfoy and Snape went over the various potions and their uses. It seemed like such a comfortable environment; he never would have expected as such from Malfoy Manor, but that was how it felt, by and large.

"Yes, yes, they're all good. But sit, relax, warm yourselves dears, there's no rush," Mrs. Malfoy motioned them to chairs around an elegant tea table near the parlor window.

The table was covered with a white lace tablecloth and laid out with a fine array of splendid silver tea accouterments such as dainty cookies on a wooden serving plate and tiny silver stirring sticks. Mrs. Malfoy seemed to enjoyed the creature comforts of life. They sat, and Mrs. Malfoy poured them all some tea. Harry wasn't sure he should drink the tea; what if there was veritiserum in it?

"I'm so glad for the potions Severus," said Mrs. Malfoy to Snape presently, as they sipped their tea carefully. "I've been out of everything but my favorite mint flavored headache cure. Its been a rough week, rough several weeks in fact."

That answered that question.

"Its been a rough year for all of us, dear Cissy," said Snape sympathetically. "They're certainly keeping a hard hold upon you though."

"Well," Mrs. Malfoy said briskly. "I haven't been a Death Eaters widow for more than a week, but suddenly its in fashion to stop by the Manor at random times to search for anything that could be held against me now that Lucius is gone. I'm lucky I've steered free of anything too risque with this order..."

"Lucky indeed," Snape snorted. "If Aurors have been into your house all week long!"

Mrs. Malfoy sniffled and dabbed at her eyes gently.

"Well, enough about my poor fortune, tell me, Severus, where did you find this beautiful young man? Do I know him?" she peered curiously at Harry.

"I would prefer for him to remain anonymous for the time being," Snape said gently. "I came across him at the Serpents Tongue, and have taken him on as a student."

"Oh!" Narcissa hiccuped nervously, and Snape laughed.

"No no no, its not that. He's a Dark One, like us dear. Nathan," Snape turned to look firmly at Harry. "Tell Narcissa what you've been learning with me thus far..."

Harry mentally eeped, then thought carefully about that. Snape had told her just enough of the truth that Harry wouldn't have to lie to greatly in response to Mrs. Malfoy's question.

"Well, Ma'am, its been a lot of history," Harry said, honestly. "Book reading. Rather interesting. I've been reading the Forest Dwellers. Its a really neat book."

Mrs. Malfoy nodded in agreement to that, laughing amusedly.

"Severus is certainly fond of History texts. There are so few like us left who appreciate the Old Ways, though. I like you though, Child, you're blunt, but honest. Good for you!"

There was a lot of conversation, and Harry found that the answers to her varied questions about him came easily. Then he realized that Snape was planting the answers into his mind with Legilimency, through their bond.

"Such a charming young man," said Mrs. Malfoy dotingly. "Is he pureblooded?" she asked suddenly, catching Harry off guard.

Snape quickly moved in for the answer.

"No, half-blooded," he admitted, putting a sorrowful tone to his voice. "But is from a very long wizarding line on the other side."

"Dear me," said Mrs. Malfoy, gracing Harry with a sympathetic look. "We'll have to bring you up properly then won't we?" she said primly.

"We?" Snape said amusedly, waggling his eyebrows at Mrs. Malfoy from over his teacup.

"Yes, of course!" she said at once. "You two must come visit again! Er, when the situation isn't so dangerous," she added cautiously, and then after a few warm hugs with Snape, she escorted them from the parlor to the entryway.

"It was a pleasure visiting to you, Narcissa, and don't feel disheartened here," said Snape. "Lucius died fighting honorably for what he believed, dearest, and that is not an thing to be ashamed of."

"Thank you," she replied, joyfully, eyes brimming. "You are the dearest friend, but my darling Draco will be back from Bulgeria soon enough, so it won't be so dreadfully lonely here once he's around."

"Has he been pardoned by the Ministry then?" Snape asked briskly, as she searched a cupboard by the fireplace for some floo powder.

"Oh not yet," said Mrs. Malfoy softly. "But...soon. He'll be back next week from his visit, and we'll be in the Courts the day after I'm sure. Here we are then, you dears hurry along now, before another Auror decides to drop by. And please, come back again soon, it was such a pleasure!

She motioned towards the fireplace and they flooed back to the Serpents Tongue bar, Harry breathing a sigh of relief when they finally came up to their rooms at last, and Harry could relax, and just be himself.

"Hard work, being proper and polite," he said, rubbing his hair. "I feel dirty from all the sweating I did. It was nerve wracking!"

"It must have been," said Snape gently. "Perhaps over time, when she grows more accustomed to you, we may be able to reveal you. Or..." he sighed. "At least to Draco."

"I thought you said Lucius Malfoy wasn't a Dark One?" said Harry presently, pulling off his shoes. "And when did he die? How? I didn't hear anything about it."

"Lucius wasn't a Dark One, but Narcissa and young Draco are," said Snape, sitting in the wing backed chair by the fire. "Lucius's death hasn't been announced to the papers yet, but it was last week," said Snape. "That was where I went before grocery shopping, to visit Narcissa and comfort her."

Harry nodded, and stared at the fireplace, which Snape quickly lit with a spell.

"You're good friends with her family aren't you?" said Harry thoughtfully.

"Very good friends," admitted Snape softly. "We trust each other implicitly, but not with everything. She was disappointed, obviously, that I wouldn't confide in her right away your identity. She knows I like to keep my secrets. So, did you enjoy her company?"

"It was very, I don't know," Harry scratched his head. "Fancy and elaborate, with all the 'my pleasure' talk, and 'your welcome' and 'certainly'...a lot of fluff."

"Propriety," said Snape grandly. "Is rule of thumb when dealing with pureblooded families. They like the pomp and circumstance. They like long poetic conversation rather than base blunt facts. They like to extrapolate, where I would just simply tell you to get off your duff and start helping me peel some potatoes for dinner!"

Harry snorted, then complied with a chuckle.

"Potatoes for lunch, potatoes for dinner..." sang Harry. "Carrots and celery, its vegetable paradise."

Snape snorted, and smirked at Harry knowingly.

"And be thankful you aren't downing one of Narcissa's favored mint flavored headache potions," said he wryly. "One of the main ingredients is a lizard's brain."

Harry stared at Snape, horrified and disgusted, and then laughed so hard at the thought that he nearly cut himself with his potato peeler. And he decided, vaguely, that maybe there was something to vegetarianism after all.


Chapter 10: Of Boys who Hide Behind Drapery


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: none in this chapter.

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

"I just don't understand it," said Narcissa Malfoy, stirring her tea gently with the silver stirring stick. "I just don't comprehend it. Not with you having yet been taken."

"Well, Mother," said Draco Malfoy amiably, walking over toward his mother with a leisurely stride. "You can't say he didn't anticipate the possibility that someone else might Apprentice me..."

"But taking on a new Apprentice, without consulting us?" Narcissa stood, throwing her hands up into the air. "I mean, the boy is well mannered, certainly a charming youth, but, why the mystery around his identity? Why? Unless he were someone that I wouldn't approve of..."

Narcissa paced the floor irritably, and Draco Malfoy chuckled, leaning against the back of a chair patiently, waiting for his mother to calm down from her stormy mood. At least he now knew for sure; his mother would soon be his Dark Mistress, and he would be able to make use of his Dark Talent at last.

"That young man was in my house for nearly an hour, and I know no more about his past now than I did before he walked through the door," Narcissa Malfoy sat and put her face in in her hands. "Who is he? Why is Severus hiding this from me?"

"Well, Mother, you lied about something too," said Draco gently to her. "You told Severus I was away until next week, and I've been here all this month already."

Narcissa snorted in an unladylike fashion.

"Thats a minor point," said Narcissa. "I was hoping for Severus to be well established in his new identity before taking any Apprentice, you especially, but now...this..."

"Well, Severus has always done as he wished. If he decided he wanted this person as his apprentice, I doubt anything we could say would have stopped him."

"I just wish I knew who he was," said Narcissa, sitting up more primly, and lifting her teacup to her lips. "Where he came from? The tiniest detail of his past would have been most welcome."

"If his new Apprentice was wearing a disguise, then he could be practically anybody," Draco said, amused. "Even that goody two-shoes Harry Potter."

Narcissa Malfoy snorted again, and took another sip of her tea. Then her eyes caught sight of the calender on the desk, and the big red date of her husband's death circled there, and she lifted her head. Days later Severus had visited her, and had taken her grateful orders for potions to replace the ones the Aurors had confiscated. He had said nothing about the Apprentice, meaning he couldn't have had an Apprentice then; Severus wouldn't have been able to hide an Apprenticeship that easily from her. But, he had only been staying at the Serpents Tail bar since the fall of the Dark Lord...Her eyes counted days vaguely, and then something stuck in her mind suddenly like a sharp knife, and her teacup fell to the ground, cracking on the wooden floor and rolling to rest against the fringe of the expensive oriental rug.

"Draco!" said Narcissa in horror, looking at him, skin turning pale, eyes wide. "Oh oh, he wouldn't! He couldn't have, could he?" she jumped, and went over to the calender, and held it in trembling hands, counting the days over and over again in fright.

"Mother!" said Draco in fright, jumping up to take her in his arms, also trembling. "What is it Mother? What is wrong?"

"Severus's Apprentice!" said she. "He, IS Harry Potter!"

Draco stopped trembling and stared at his mother in horror.

"Mother, have you been overdosing on your headache cures again?" he said slowly, and gently. "Perhaps you should lay down?"

"Draco," said Narcissa Malfoy blandly. "You observed the boy from your hiding place! Tell me, what did you see? Tell me I'm not crazy! It was the day of the Dark Lord's fall that Severus moved out of his house to stay at the Serpent's Tail bar! The very next day he came to take my order for potions I'd need for the week, and a Master must always be in the company of his Apprentice when out of doors, thats the Law Draco! Then the very next day he was here, with his Apprentice!"

"Well," said Draco gently. "He said he'd discovered his Apprentice in the Serpents Tail Bar, and it has been a little less than three days since Harry Potter was discovered to be a Dark One. If Potter had found his way to Knockturne when he escaped arrest..." Draco Malfoy looked at his Mother for a moment. "I did notice that Nathan Greenbow seemed to be almost too polite, as if he were afraid of tripping up, and I saw that he was taking subtle clues from Severus on how to act, and when to speak."

"Half-blood, long wizarding family line," said Narcissa. "And he allowed the child to study the Forest Dwellers first, rather teaching him about the Ancestry Tree. It all fits!"

"Potter would have been unwilling to learn about Pureblooded family lineages," said Draco with an amused sneer. "Or perhaps Severus was unsure of how to go about teaching him about that facet of our culture..."

Narcissa looked at Draco, and Draco suddenly thought of something.

"If...If I had lost all Control...And had been thrown into Severus's hands, he would have taken me as an Apprentice simply to Control me. Right? So. Perhaps..."

"Perhaps..." said Narcissa, calming down tremendously. "Our laws state that all the Uncontrolled, all the youngest of Talents must be taught. Our Laws forbid us from leaving any Dark One untrained. Disaster could strike us if we did."

"Great Disaster, Mother. We know what has happened in the past to those who lost Control. The Destruction of the past. The crater Potter left of that muggle street, the papers were full of horrible descriptions of it, the bodies, the debris..."

Narcissa nodded, and vaguely went to pick up her cracked tea-cup, to tap with her finger and repair soundlessly.

"Yes, Severus would have had no choice if it was Harry Potter, of that we can be sure. And, I think this is something we should accept," said Narcissa. "The boy...is one of us now."

"Yes, indeed," Draco agreed, a little sourly, and sat down to pour his mother a fresh cup of tea. "We shall trust Severus's judgment on this matter; he has always been the strongest of us."

Narcissa Malfoy nodded, then lifted her steaming teacup to her lips.

If Harry Potter is Severus Snape's Apprentice than may Queen Mab protect and guide them, thought she gently. The Prophecy, the Laws, they've always been very clear on this matter. I would certainly hate to lose my dearest friend, yes indeed.


Chapter 11: The Sacrifices of Motherhood


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: none in this chapter.

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

The Sacrifices of Motherhood

"Its so weird," said Harry, peering in the mirror. "Being able to see without glasses."

"Still talking to yourself in there Harry?"

Harry poked his head out of the bathroom, and seeing that Snape had his back turned, quickly ran to the bedroom of the suite to change into his clothing.

"When you finish up, I have a potion I want you to help me with," Snape said irritably from the outer room. "Then we'll have some fun with wax!"

Harry moaned, and quickly pulled on his Apprentice robes. Ever since their visit to Malfoy Manner, the routine had been repeated each day. He would breakfast, then shower, and Snape would get him to assist with brewing some potions. Then Snape would demonstrate Dark Magic for Harry, which Harry would then have to try to repeat, and he wouldn't be allowed to have breakfast or dinner until he succeeded. Harry had been surprised to learn that he only had to do a Dark Spell once, just once, and he'd never forget it, so learning became much easier after that. After lunch, Snape would teach him some regular generic bit of magic, then would have Harry try to imitate the spell without a wand or words. Dark Magic could imitate regular magic over time, and take the place of more mundane, but more complicated, magical spells. After practical lessons, Harry would be set to reading and studying the books that Snape assigned to him, and Snape could continue work on Potion orders. Snape would only fill one or two orders per week, and each order usually had several potions within it that he had to brew, so it took up a good deal of his time. Every Monday he and Harry, in disguise, would deliver them. Snape revealed himself to very few of these customers, and he never revealed to anybody but Narcissa Malfoy that 'Nathan Greenbow' was a Dark One; they simply weren't trustworthy enough with the information.

"What's this potion?" asked Harry, confused by the strange conglomeration of ingredients that Snape was having him help chop.

"Narcissa's favourite mint headache cure. I only owl them to her now, by the by, as she has an Auror stationed at her House for the duration. Thankfully the Auror will be gone once Draco has had his hearing."

"Why is Mal...Draco being pardoned?" said Harry, more out of confusion than upset. "I thought he'd be put in Azkaban the minute he stepped foot back in Britain?"

Snape quickly handed Harry some mint leaves to dice while he carefully, with a grimace, sliced open a lizards brain.

"Simply put, the Dark Lord threatened to kill Narcissa if Draco didn't comply with his wishes. The Ministry of Magic considers this a form of Magical Blackmail, and worthy of a pardon. Mother witches have a strong bond with their children, a sort of emotional conduit, that is binding until the child reaches adulthood. Mother witches are bound to protect their children, and the children are protective of their mother. This is how Narcissa managed to get free of Azkaban as well. A Mother's love is very powerful magic, you should very well know since your bond to your mother was still active even after her death."

"Was my Mum a...Dark One?" Harry asked meekly, having been thinking about that possibility for a very long time. "I thought Muggleborns couldn't be?"

"She wasn't, and they can't," said Snape admittedly. "You see, the Wild Magic that your Mother used to protect you cost her life. A Dark One expends nothing of himself in using his abilities, whereas a regular wizard strips away pieces of their soul in attempting Dark or Wild Magic."

"Wild Magic?"

The term confused Harry. He'd only read the term mentioned in the Forrest Dwellers, and there had been no explanation of it.

"Magic that does what it wants to, once it is cast. Your Mother took a calculated risk; she offered her life as sacrifice, and used Wild Magic put a protective shield around you. The Magic itself then chose to protect you. It stripped her down to the last drop of magic, and left her own soul bare, like a muggle's, with no magical defences. Not that there are any against the Killing Curse, but then again, you survived it, so that must have been one of them."

"How do you know this?" Harry suddenly asked, feeling suspicion creep through his burning chest.

"The Dark Lord told me," said Snape darkly. "He, being a Dark One, recognized Wild Magic when he saw it. But he was fooled into thinking that being a Muggleborn, her spell wouldn't have any real effect. Wild Magic is so volatile, so uncontrolled that nobody, not even a Dark Master, knows what it can do."

Harry then asked the first question that sprang to mind.

"Was what I did...to those muggles...Wild Magic?"

Snape's eyes turned to Harry seriously, and he nodded, face blank.

"Wild Magic is so very difficult to control that its rarely ever attempted. What your Mother did is so unbelievably astounding that most Dark Ones, most of the Wizarding World even, just ignores her entire part in your salvation. You see," he lowered his voice apologetically. "Its easier to call Harry Potter the Chosen One, then admit that a muggleborn woman with no Dark Talent used Wild Magic. It proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that wizards and muggles do have a common ancestor."

"I guess some people wouldn't like that," Harry thought ironically, and frowned. "Mom did all the work, and I get all the credit. That sucks."

"Certainly it must. But never forget how wonderful her gift was. Throughout recorded history, only Merlin and Mab have ever successfully commanded Wild Magic at that level of power before, and their quest to destroy one another was entirely too successful. Wild Magic is used a last resort Harry, only as a last resort. Thats the Law."

"Law?" Harry got the inflection of that last word only too clearly.

Snape laughed.

"We'll get to that later today. By your questions, I think that perhaps you are ready to learn the formal Laws of the Dark Ones."

"Laws..." Harry said grumpily. "Great. Even Dark Magic has rules."

"We have laws in order to protect ourselves, and to protect others," Snape informed him firmly. "Our Laws have kept our people alive for over a thousand years, and most of our kind understand that the Laws are meant to help, not hinder us. Queen Mab created the Laws, however, and they were eventually revised and put to text Salazar Slytherin hundreds of years later. You may not feel comfortable with reading the text, let alone obeying the laws, and I understand. But I would be remiss in my duties if I didn't set you to reading it. However, that can wait until after lunch. For now," Snape's hand was shaking as he lowered the heat under the Potion to allow it to bubble for awhile. "I'll show you how to give life to wax."


Chapter 12: Unicorns and Dragons


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: none in this chapter.

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

Unicorns and Dragons

Harry stared at the wax in frustration.

"I've given it form, why won't it start moving?"

Frustration welled, and Harry's face melted in despair as the wax unicorn also likewise started to melt.

"You are distracted," said Snape simply. "Frustration won't help. Start from scratch and concentrate! Life cannot be given to an object if you are thinking about your stomach, or whatever else keeps rolling around your head!"

Harry glared at Snape, then bent down to the bowl of molten wax again and screwed up his face in concentration. The Unicorn took shape again quickly this time, and so Harry was able to focus on giving it life.

You have the shape of a unicorn, Harry protected to the wax, as Snape had instructed him. You have four legs, a head and hair, and a tail. All of these are capable of moving. So move! Lift your forelegs!

To Harry's complete surprise, the unicorn did, and before his concentration could waver he set the unicorn to walking around its pool of wax, then trotting.

"Very good Harry!" said Snape enthusiastically, as he began to bottle up the mint flavoured potions he had brewed. "Now, have it move beyond the bowl of wax."

Harry moaned, and then concentrated at the unicorn. It took some time, and Harry realized that since he had given ALL the wax life, not just the unicorn, it couldn't separate itself. He quickly moved all the magic into just the unicorn shape, and the small wax figure leaped over the bowl, leaving four little hoof prints behind in the wax.

"Fantastic! And just in time!" Snape grinned. "It is almost the lunch hour, and the soup won't cook itself. Start peeling the potatoes and carrots please."

Harry moaned grumpily at being set to his next chore, and quickly captured the galloping wax unicorn to return it the bowl. Giving life to various materials, without a wand or spells, was strange.

"Its a lot different then giving legs to a teacup," Harry admitted. "The legs would only be a transfiguration, and wouldn't move of their own free will. The wax takes the exact shape of whatever I want it to, rather than just vaguely extending its own form."

"Exactly," Snape said, carefully packing the potions away. "A regular Charm or Spell is simply a specific set of instructions an object is to fulfill within a set limit of time. A life spell, however, is put right into the object, has as much free will as you are willing to give it, and can move without specific variations in steps or direction. Here, use my paring knife, its sharper," Harry had cut his hand. "And cut away from yourself, not towards."

"'Kay," Harry sucked on the cut, then peered over the edge of the bowl of potatoes in surprise.

His unicorn had jumped out of the wax bowl, and was now prancing around the room, much to Snape's amusement.

"You have to remove the spell from an object if you don't intend to keep it that way," he said carefully. "And I'll be needing that wax back for another lesson I have planned for you, so you'd better get to it."

Harry frowned in discomfort as he turned the unicorn back into lifeless wax. It seemed almost as if he were removing another beings soul.

"Ah, I saw that thought," said Snape, looking at Harry. "Magical energy and soul energy are two separate things, Harry. One can power the other, and vice versa, but objects don't receive a soul simply by having magic placed upon is something that is strangely unique to biological lifeforms. Its often funny how people sometimes forget that moving portraits do not have souls, they are merely imitating the behaviours person they are set to mimic."

"Do muggles have souls?" said Harry, thinking painfully of all the muggles he had killed.

"Yes," Snape said immediately. "But muggles cannot become ghosts. Ghosts are, in a similar way to your unicorn, simply a soul willed by its own magic to take a visible shape and form on this planet. Otherwise they'd 'go on', or whatever the term is. Muggles do not become ghosts because they have no magic to bind themselves to the Earth with."

Harry sighed, and went back to peeling potatoes. A quiet moment passed as Harry thought this over, then there was an urgent tapping on the door. Snape rose hesitantly to his feet, and then looked at Harry pointedly.

"Severus!" the voice behind the door was Narcissa Malfoy's voice, and she sounded quite urgent.

"Oh!" Harry got the message, and barely had time to take his accent potion and change the color of his eyes before Snape flung open the door.

"Cissy!" Snape said in a hiss. "What in the world are you doing here? Is that a body?"

"Dear Mab, not yet! The Wards! Quickly, we're being searched for!"

Narcissa quickly crossed the room towards the sitting couch, carrying horrifyingly what looked to Harry to be a dead body wrapped up in a bloody blanket. Snape quickly shut the door, then began a infinitesimally complicated set of protection spells that Harry couldn't identify. As soon as that was finished Snape turned to follow her over to the couch.

"Narcissa, what in the world is going...oh shit," Snape stopped dead in his tracks

Narcissa had unwrapped the 'body', which turned out to be her son Draco, bleeding quite horrifically from various wounds and lash marks that trailed a path down his face and neck. He was breathing, so he was still alive. Harry didn't know if he could have taken seeing a body after all their talk on mortality and death. Snape immediately put his hand over Draco and started to 'read' him magically. Snape's face took on a confused masked, and he began setting some complicated magic on Draco's body, possibly a healing spell, but to no effect.

"It was, we were just going to Court for him to be pardoned," Narcissa was trembling now. "We arrived at the court and...and the Order of the Phoenix swarmed us."

"What in the world happened?" Snape jerked his head at her, and saw that she was crying now, looking highly lost and confused. "I can't get any sort of feel for what is wrong with him, Narcissa! Dark Magic of some kind seems to be keeping his wounds from healing. I should be able to heal it, but its being forced open, like a raw wound."

"The...the trial...the pardoning...it was only a trap Severus," Narcissa covered her face with her hands. There seemed to be no sanity to her litany, the words just came out of her. "You were the target; they planned to force Draco to spill your true location, then planned to put Draco in permanent custody..."

"Meaning Azkaban with no trial, so they wouldn't have to give him a pardon," Snape said acidly.

"We defended ourselves of course, then Draco cast a silver illusion spell, you know, the one that turns the air to silver powder, to blind our enemies. The...one called Bill Weasley...he went mad, started slashing at Draco with his bare hands, biting him, it was horrifying, even the rest of the order Order tried their best to stop him!"

"Oh!" said Harry understood immediately. "Bill Weasley is part werewolf!"

Snape and Narcissa both snapped their heads towards Harry at once, and Harry paled. Narcissa did too.

"You mean, its the werewolf curse?" she looked absolutely horrified. "No wonder he reacted in such a way to the silver powder! He must have been in horrific pain!"

"He isn't fully a werewolf," said Harry, stomach twisting. "Bill was...bit...by a werewolf, but not during a full moon."

Narcissa nodded, looking Harry quite intensely now. All the color had drained from Snape's face; he looked as if all hell was about to break loose.

"Come here," she said gently to Harry, who stepped forward hesitantly.

Snape's breath hitched when Narcissa put her hand on Harry's face. Harry could almost feel her magic flow through him, and he blinked. She had, to be blunt, removed all his disguises.

"Aha!" said Narcissa in triumph. "You are Harry Potter! Just as I thought!"


Chapter 13: In Which Snape Decides to Play Merlin


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: none in this chapter.

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

In Which Snape Decides to Play Merlin

Harry was stunned. Here he was, standing in their flat above the Serpents Tail Lounge, with Narcissa Malfoy standing before him, a bleeding Malfoy on the couch. Snape moved to stand stiffly, almost protectively, between Narcissa and Harry.

"Bad form!" said Snape. "You had no right to invade in his privacy in such a manner!"

"Relax," said Narcissa, flicking a hand sideways. "I had guessed his identity to begin with, just needed to confirm it for myself. Draco owes me ten galleons and a butterbeer!"

She suddenly paled, and lowered herself to the ground.

"So...is Draco c-cursed now?" Narcissa asked, ignoring Harry altogether now and shuffling forward to cradle her son's head protectively.

Snape returned reluctantly to scanning Draco's body, still grumbling about Narcissa's invading of their personal space.

"Hmmm," he concentrated quite severely. "Its feels like the werewolf curse, but its so diluted there's almost no power to it. I could heel the wounds so easily right now..."

"But?" said Narcissa impatiently.

"But, if I simply heal the wounds now, then the contamination would be permanent. There's a chance I could cure him completely. Its such a small amount of magic, much less difficult to read than true lycanthropy..."

"This is no time to experiment with Wild Magic, Severus!"

Harry was doubly confused now. Hadn't Snape told him, only recently, that Wild Magic was a last resort, only? Snape snapped his head towards Narcissa and snarled.

"Do you want him to live in pain for the rest of his life? To never be able to touch silver? To be unable to bear the sight of the blessed Full Moon, shunning it possibly forever?"

Narcissa stiffened completely, as if that possibility was much to horrify to bear. Harry said down on a chair, he was shaking so badly he didn't feel comfortable enough to stand. He remembered that to Dark Ones, the Moon was sacred, holy even, and the thought of Draco Malfoy being unable to gaze upon the Full Moon even caused Harry to shake with panic. He slumped to the ground in confusion.

"But I thought there was no cure for lycanthropy?" said Harry, finally recovering from the shock of all that was happening.

"Not for full lycanthropy..." said Snape. "But I have been, admittedly, experimenting with using tiny amounts of Wild Magic in the wolfsbane I brew for werewolf customers. Sometimes the result is quite good, the werewolf recovers much more quickly from a transformation, or doesn't feel as much lust for human blood during full transformations thereafter. Sometimes the result is nothing, or worse, that the potion has no effect whatsoever and the werewolf gets injured during transformation. I've had to be very careful to use my experiments one those persons who live alone, and are fully aware of what I am doing. Remus Lupin is one of them."

"Remus lets you experiment on him?" Harry was horrified. "Wait, isn't he with the Order? Wouldn't he turn you in?"

"Not anymore," said Narcissa softly. "He's disappeared somewhere and the Order is looking everywhere for him. Nobody knows where he's gone too, or who he's allies with anymore. Well, perhaps except you Severus?"

"I never share the addresses of my customers," Snape lifted his head. "Harry, to answer your question is simply to ask yourself; can you imagine the existence of a werewolf? Trapped in their mangled and disfigured bodies every full moon, with no control over their actions or motions? Werewolves risk everything to be normal, they take the wolfsbane potion, which is one of the most powerful, legal Dark Potions in the world. Wolfsbane has a drastic effect on their immune systems, can cause permanent liver damage and sterility, but is considered to be highly preferable to full blown transformation. Yes, Remus Lupin let me experiment on him...and gladly."

Harry stopped talking, feeling pain burn in his chest at the thought of Remus Lupin suffering out there somewhere because of the wolfsbane's effects, and willing allow himself to suffer just to stay sane.

"I will not do this without your consent, of course Narcissa, but perhaps we should let him decide for himself?" said Snape.

"What if it hurts him?" she said, in such a softly resigned voice that Harry barely heard her. "I don't want anything else to happen to Draco."

"I don't believe there will be any risk," said Snape, sounding confident. "Blood can act as a very strong conduit for Wild Magic, I find, and your son is certainly covered in it," he covered his eyes for a moment, then nodded. "Yes, the worst I feel that would happen is that the scars would become permanent, though the contamination would be mostly gone, perhaps all of it. Healthy blood or handsome face? Which is it to be?"

"B...b... ..." said a voice, and all three heads turned to observe Draco Malfoy. "P...l..ea..se...Mum. Let...him try...I don't...I feel...the Moon...anymore...scared..."

Narcissa squeaked, wide eyed, and nodded to her son, and Snape bend down to hold his hand.

"Are you sure?" said Snape seriously. "You know the risks."

"Yes...I know," said Draco. "Please..."

Snape nodded.

"Harry, fetch the kit from the bathroom with the disinfectant and clean washcloths, purify some water, you know how, oh, and bring me the box labelled 'muggle'. Well? step too it!"

Harry rushed to comply and as soon as he was back with the required items, Snape started his work. Draco now lay fully awake on the couch, looking pale, but hopeful. Narcissa helped Snape wipe the wounds clean with a towel, then stared when Snape opened the box to sort through bottles and bottles of muggle medications and the like.

"Severus?" she looked perplexed. "What on Earth are those?"

"Anti-coagulants, antibiotics, and the like. Tylenol, etc. The muggle medicines will heal without interfering with any magical work that I do. But they take longer to work, much longer. Ah, here it is..."

He pulled out a simple kit with a needle and sutures, some muggle surgical instruments, and gauze.

"I'm going to stop the bleeding, without healing the wound entirely, by simply stitching it up," explained Snape simply.

Narcissa looked exceedingly horrified.

"Have you lost your MIND?" she bellowed. "What on Earth has come over you!"

"The Healers at St. Mungo's stopped Arthur Weasley from bleeding to death from a snake bite with stitches once," Harry piped up, before he could stop himself. "So they could work on finding a cure for the snake venom in the bite that was causing the wound to stay open."

Harry blushed. So it was a little bit of a white lie, at least Narcissa seemed calmer, no longer looking at Snape as if he had bats in the belfry.

"Exactly," said Snape, and Narcissa helped him stitch up her son. "Now, after I wrap these wounds we'll give him an antibiotic to prevent infection, and take him into the bedroom..." he looked up at Narcissa. "I should warn you that it will take a few days, possibly more, I want to go as slow as I can."

"I understand," she said. "Should I look after young Harry's training while you are working?"

"Certainly," said Snape, carefully reading each bottle of muggle pills, and grumblingly vanishing the ones that were passed the expiration date. "There's no need for him to be bereft while I'm gone."

"What do you mean?" Harry looked between them in curiosity. "Where are you going?"

"I am going to put myself and Draco into a healing trance," Snape said to Harry. "I will give and take energies with him, and track down the magical source of the contamination. It will probably take days, because it is very complicated work. This is much different then the Dark Magic I've been teaching you, as it is a slow, well contained process, with the Wild Magic occurring only at the end when I try to attempt to remove the contamination."

"We will be stuck together in this flat," Narcissa added sighing. "So I shall help you with your lessons."

"Do you mind terribly if I give her permission to do so?" Snape asked Harry grievously, then looked relieved when Harry shrugged. "Good. Narcissa isn't particularly adept at Wild Magic or Healing Magic, so I'm the only one who could do this."

"Hmph!" Narcissa pouted, and then laughed "So what haven't you covered that I can occupy him with?"

"We just started on the Life spell," said Snape. "I was going to teach him the Laws, and the Line as well. You have a better understanding of the Heritage Tree than I do, so maybe this is a fortuitous opportunity for me to shamelessly push off the most difficult bookwork onto another!"

"So you are!" Narcissa said with a laugh, seemingly to have forgiven him for his previous slight on her. "Very well then. When do we start?"

"As soon as possible. There's a good chance I could lose the wards during this process, and the Ministry could find us here..."

"I'll place my own wards," said Narcissa. "Even better, I'll teach Young Harry how to maintain wards, so we can keep yours intact. An Apprentice is very much in tune with his Master's magic."

"Momma..." Draco was suddenly restless. "If...something bad happens, thank you for...everything..."

"Oh sweetie," Narcissa dabbed at her eyes, and kissed her son's pale forehead. "You are so brave. As brave nearly as any Gryffindor."

"Braver," said Harry, feeling his voice catch. "I don't think I could ever have done anything like this."

Draco looked at Harry for the first time since coming into the suite, and smiled.

"I...guess I owe mum...ten...galleons..." he mumbled with a smile, and drifted gently off to sleep.


Chapter 14: A Law Unto Himself


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: none in this chapter.

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

A Law Unto Himself

Harry Potter lifted his hand to his chin and sighed. The stuffiness of the suite and the general heat of the rooms was starting to drive him nuts. But better to have the warmth and the heat then to let the fire die out. The risk of being seen going out back too the wood pile was too great to allow that.

"She'd better come back, or I'm gonna go mad in here..."

Three hours previous Harry and Narcissa had helped Severus carefully remove every last piece of furniture, decoration and wallpaper from the sole bedroom in the suite. The furniture had all been moved, with everything else, out to the main sitting room of the suite, crowding the little flat out, but giving Severus room to ritually purify the space. The walls, ceiling and floor were turned black, which Severus had told Harry was the color of creation, and a simple purple blanket had been laid on the floor for Draco to lie upon. Purple was the color of spirituality and spiritual protection. Eight blue crystals had been placed in a circle around the boy by Severus, blue being the color of wisdom. Now Severus sat serenely on the blanket, hands on the sides of Draco's head, with the head on his lap, and hadn't moved from that position since. Harry knew that because he had been given the charge of going into the room at regular intervals making sure the four white candles surrounding the circle remained lit, or replaced if they burnt down. White was the color of purity and healing.

I should probably go check again. Narcissa said that the magic being used would burn down the candles faster than normal.

It was strange for Harry to think of the two adults by their first names. Draco was easier, since they were the same age and they were both Apprentices. But there was something strangely uncomfortable about calling his Master by his name. But Narcissa had demanded that he call her by her given name, which meant really that he should consider Severus in the same light. Anything less seemed disrespectful, and he needed to feel comfortable with both adults since he would be in their company for some time.

But where is she? thought Harry angrily.

He crossed his legs, and flipped the page of the heavy book sitting on his lap. Narcissa had left the apartment as soon as Severus was in trance, giving Harry few instructions; keep the candles lit, and study the Law. She had then gone out. Narcissa was no cook, nor did she know the difference between Severus's potions ingredients and the strange vegetables he favored for meals, such as bok choy and nori seaweed. She was now trying to sneak into Malfoy Manor to gather some of her and Draco's things, and to try and make contact with her personal House Elf Idgy. Harry had suggested tentatively that he summon his own House elf Kreacher, or the free elf, Dobby. But she had flat out refused.

"Kreacher is no longer to be trusted," she had flat out insisted. "He's never been a trustworthy elf, and he's mad. We don't need an insane House Elf living in close quarters with us. As for Dobby, well, he is not slave-bound to either of us, and could readily give our hiding place to those who are untrustworthy."

Harry had agreed, but was surprised at how worried he was for her well being, and fervently hoped that she would return safely to the suite. Already he was feeling a kinship with the hard faced woman that he never thought he could ever feel for any Malfoy, and they had barely communicated with one another. He lifted his head to the clock on the wall, and groaned.

It doesn't help that this book is as dry as old used tissues, Harry thought wryly. Where are you?

Harry tried very hard to concentrate on the Law, but was stuck firmly in trying to digest the large quantities of History associated with the Law that had to be understood before the Laws could be learned. By the time he did hear the rattle of the door knob, his nerves were so high strung that he leapt to his feet and reached for his wand.

"Put that thing away!" said Narcissa Malfoy as she poked her head in. "Mab and Merlin! It's just me!"

She came in, laden with bags, and was followed by a round bodied, small nosed House Elf, also similarly laden. It looked like a beach ball with floppy ears and watery eyes. The House Elf was wearing a strange patchwork outfit of two very colorful hand towels, with pockets stitched on the front.

"Harry, this is Idgy, my personal House Elf. She's tied to me and my offspring, not to my House, so we can trust her with our lives. Plus we've been friends since I was a little girl, so our relationship is much more than that of a Mistress and House Elf."

"Hello Idgy," said Harry nervously, giving the round elf a nervous smile.

Idgy squeaked, and bowed. She was so round that Harry was afraid she'd roll right over. But Narcissa gave her instructions to start rearranging and de-cluttering the main room, with specific instructions to store things in the bathtub in the bathroom if necessary.

"We can clean our bodies with a spell," said Narcissa plainly to Harry.

She then sat down primly on the only other free chair in the room; the one that Severus usually sat upon while he was preparing meals or waiting for potions to brew.

"So then, how goes the Law?" she asked him, bending forward to pick up the fallen text book and hand it to him.

"Boring," said Harry honestly. "Dry, sandy, dull, boring!"

"Well certainly!" said Narcissa with a laugh. "Law always seems boring when accompanied by so much history! But the history behind each Law is important! You wouldn't understand or fathom anything if I had just started reading it to you, obviously! So tell me, what do you -know- so far?"

Harry flushed, and lifted the book.

"Well," Harry swallowed. "The Law was composed by Queen Mab, then reiterated later by Salazar Slytherin and Moira Glorysinger, his wife. The Laws are composed of, oh, a lot of small coven created rules, and larger magical bindings that are meant to protect and..."

"Ya ya ya, you haven't gotten to the actual 'laws' yet have you?" she gave Harry a smirk, and he nodded guiltily.

"I'm a slow reader," he admitted, and crouched down in the chair. "Which is probably why I failed History classes in Hogwarts."

"Well, I suppose I could go over each of the most important Laws in detail, and leave the rest for you to study on your own," she composed herself neatly in her chair, and then plucked the textbook out of his hand to flip through pointedly. "So we'll start with the Primary Law, that which governs all others. All Shall Be Taught."

Harry blinked at her, and she smiled.

"All Shall Be Taught," she repeated. "All the Untrained, the Young, the Lesser of Talents. None shall be left Uncontrolled. Even non-Talented wizards understand this," she gave Harry a pointed smirk. "Your father even knew this. The big secret amongst Half-blooded and mixed families is that there are usually always Dark Ones in the family line, and those Dark Ones would Train the lower generation, but behind closed doors so that nobody would know they existed. Your grandfather, had he not passed away, would have trained you if and once you showed the signs of Talent. If not, another Dark Master would have. Any questions so far?"

Harry stared at her, and nodded his head.

"I have tons of question, I have to admit," he smiled, and rubbed his head. "The first question I have is, why? I mean, I figure the Half-Blooded families would be fully opposed to passing this stuff down. Even some Pure-Blooded families, you know, like the Weasleys."

Narcissa nodded, and tucked her skirt under his legs.

"Because, Law or no Law young one, any Dark One who looses control is like a lit match being thrown into a pile of dry tinder," she sighed. "History shows of great Disasters," she pointed to the text book. "Calamities that resulted from Dark Ones being left without learning true control. Once a Dark One is taught, once they really Master their powers, they will never lose control. Dark Magic starts out as Wild Magic, Magic with a free will and body. But once you Master the magic, it becomes your tool, that you control. Without training, it would control you. Even generic Wizards understand this, which is why they are so reluctant to breed amongst only Magical families; they want us to die out. It is their wish that Dark Magic be erased from the world forever. Ah, folly...For what would happen without us? No wolfsbane potions to help werewolves? No Skele-gro, no Dark Magic of any kind? Dark Potions? Even we have a place child, and that brings us to the next Law: Share Magic With Others."

"Wait," Harry interrupted. "Aren't those the same thing?"

"Nope," Narcissa grinned. "Sound the same don't they? But the second law is entirely different from the first law. Here the term 'share' indicates reproduction. All Dark Magic is to be passed down from line to line. Or, all Dark Ones shall produce children who will continue our traditions. Very complicated, but in short it means that Dark Ones shall produce children, which ties into the whole tradition of marrying only into other magical families."

"I don't like that," Harry admitted. "The pure blood thing. I don't see why its even necessary. I'm a Half-Blood, and I still have this...Dark Talent.

Narcissa seemed to think about this for a long period of time.

"You probably have a very negative understanding of pure blooded families and Dark Magic, even being who you are," she replied with a wry smile. "I'm not surprised. But the answer to your problem lies in understanding our History. In ancient times it was very easy for Dark Ones to just share their Talent with any wizard who wished to learn from them. Dark Ones were made. But over thousands of years Dark Talent has become hereditary, so nowadays Dark Ones are born. In ancient times even muggleborns would have been able to become Dark Ones, magic was passed from person to person ritually, not genetically parent to child. But something over the vast space of time interfered with this and now only those born into Dark lines have Talent. And its not always every child, it has directly to do with certain genes within a family line that are dormant. Talent is a recessive gene, not always carried over, and not always turned on at birth."

"So, it's in my family genes?" Harry asked in curiosity. "Was my Dad a...Dark One?"

"No," she replied. "In the Potter family it is passed down to every second generation of males. Your grandfather was a Dark One, but not your father. Its a different gene and gender for each family as well. In my family, for example, only females have ever shown the Dark Talent, and that has always been a random occurrence in each generation. Me and my sister Bellatrix both have the talent, but Andromeda did not. My mother did, but my Aunt did not. Draco is one of the first males in over two hundred years of our family's History to show the Dark Talent. It could be he received it from the Malfoy family line, though they haven't shown Dark Talent for generations."

"What about...Severus?" Harry asked, in curiosity. "He has a Muggle dad."

"Severus is unique in that he skipped a generation of half and mixed squib families to become a Dark One," said Narcissa fondly. "His mother was the only magical child of two squibs. His father, of course, was a muggle, born to a muggle woman. Which shows that the possibility of muggleborns surfacing with the Dark Talent may not be entirely out of the question. We may never know which side he got his Talent from, but it has never showed up in his Mother's family until it came to him. Most peculiar. Since its more to do with genes then magic, you can understand how in a pure-blooded family like the Weasley's the Talent rarely ever shows. The Weasley's regularly have crossed lines with muggle families since the Founding, but they can still trace their ancestors back for many generations. Some Dark Ones don't have family lines nearly as long as theirs. I surmise if any of Molly Weasley's children have children of their own, a Dark One will eventually appear. She is one of my cousins, you know, so it would come from her."

Narcissa continued without pause or pity on her lecture of the second Law, and Harry felt a growing tenseness at her words. As much as he disliked the pure blooded stuff, there was a sense, a sort of sensibility, to what she was saying.

"So, unless 'love' pulls us in a different direction, we marry witches or wizards," she concluded. "Simply for the sake of following the Second Law. Many choose to remain celibate, or unmarried, but still have children. We're so scattered now that every child with the Talent it protected and adored. Because of this, the second Law is now reinterpreted to mean simply 'have some children', and mostly its pinpointed to females. Many Dark families come from matriarchal lines. Hence the second Law's more modern interpretation; Marry, And Raise All Dark Children into the Law."

She laughed when Harry wrinkled his nose in dislike.

"I know, its a very contrite interpretation, and I prefer the original meaning of the Law. Also, some generic wizards CAN use Dark Magic, though it costs them soul energy to do so, so 'Share Magic' could also refer to sharing Dark Magic with them, in the way I often did with my husband. I believe Severus shared that with you?"

Harry nodded vaguely, and Narcissa smiled.

"Good. Now, to the third Law, as it ties into the first two in an important way; Keep Thy Nature to Thyself. And yes, Thy, because Salazar Slytherin DID transcribe the law in his own language," She laughed and extrapolated. "When you meet with a non-Dark One, you must not discuss your Dark Nature with them. Even if they KNOW you are a Dark One. How we conduct our business is open to interpretation, but anything you say can be used against you and your future offspring. This may seem, well, a little paranoid..."

"Yeah..." Harry smirked, and she sighed.

"Keep in mind, in Queen Mab's time, Dark Ones were ridiculed and often executed or banished, their children burned or sacrificed, etc etc..." she waved a hand dismissively. "And in Slytherin's time various cruel, inhumane punishments were the norm amongst muggles and becoming vogue with wizards too. Children of Dark Ones were often executed for fear that the magic would passed down. Being thrown into prison is the modern evolution of persecution against us. Azkaban Prison is a relic of ancient times that persists to this day simply to torment us. Only suspected Dark Wizards and Death Eaters ever 'stay' in Azkaban, if you hadn't noticed, those who are just petty criminals are released back into society quickly enough if they can post bail. Some wizards are only put into jail upon a suspicion of being a Dark One, without any trial. Like my cousin, your Godfather, Sirius Black, who knew about as much Dark Magic as a teacup."

Harry hissed, and she nodded pointedly.

"Now do you understand why Salazar Slytherin wanted only wizarding families to go to Hogwarts?" she said. "It was to keep out the sort of barbaric non-magical philosophies and religions that to this day persist to shape our modern culture. For example, during the rise of Christianity when Mab was still in rule, wizards began to take on the New Religion, as it was called, as a sort of Magical Doctrine. It was often interpreted from a magical perspective, and you can still see signs of that to this day; Unicorns, Dragons, heck, the modern Bible is full of magical themes, that all herald from those times. The Bible, by the by, is one of your study texts."

Harry stared at her, and she smiled.

"Understanding ancient religions is important to understanding how our people, Dark or not, have evolved over the years. Now," she stood up. "There are still many Major and Minor Laws to go over, plus the Line, which is the lineage History of our people, and the Life, which is our Spiritual beliefs. But we have things to do before Idgy starts supper, so I'll leave you to continue reading from where you left off, and I shall go into the bedroom to freshen the candles and renew the inner wards. After supper I'll teach you how to create wards, and how to manage all the wards of your Master."

She then disappeared into the bedroom, leaving Harry to stare down at the textbook in contemplation.

She uses the word 'we' as if there is no room for argument, Harry thought morosely. Merlin, what am I supposed to believe? Her, or what I've always known to be true?

But the answer to that question wasn't going to be coming anytime soon, and so he opened the textbook obediently to the last page he could remember reading and dutifully bored his brain into it once more.


Chapter 15: Nightwatch


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: none in this chapter.

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

Nightwatch

"Narcissa," Harry spoke up as soon as Narcissa had sat down with him to eat the meal Idgy had cooked for them. "What is the Rule of Three? I keep reading that term, but it's nowhere in the list of actual Laws."

"Oh," Narcissa laughed, and poked her fork into a potato. "It's Rule as in govern, not Rule as in law. The Rule Of Three, simply put, is the three governing standards which 'rule' us. 'Us' being all Dark Ones."

"Including me?" Harry asked glumly.

"Yes, including you," Narcissa said firmly, but with a smile. "They are as follows; the Line, the Life and the Law. The Line being the History of Dark Ones from the time of Mab when it began to be written and passed down. The Life being the magical spirituality of Dark Ones, and the Law being the rules that we abide by."

Harry swallowed a bit, but Narcissa smiled.

"It does seem confining, and you wouldn't be the first person to think so. But think about the radicals, the rebels who don't follow the Rule of Three; Lord Voldemort, Albus Dumbledore, Herr Grindelwald. Those three have caused the most damage to wizarding society in the last one hundred years from ignoring the laws than any of us ever cause by following them."

"I see," said Harry, suddenly feeling his throat go dry.

"Severus is a bit of a rebel too," said Narcissa plainly. "No Covens or moonlit group rituals for him. History is the only thing he really has a passion for. But he generally follows most of the Laws, so he hasn't caused too much trouble, but really he's a law unto himself."

"Oh," Harry smiled a bit over his plate of roasted vegetables, thinking of his Master in the next room. "Will they be all right, do you think? Will it take long, what he's doing? He said a few days..."

"It could take as long week," Narcissa admitted morosely. "But he has told me I am not to allow him to stay in trance past three days. It's just too much of danger, because neither of them can eat or drink while in a trance..."

Harry was quite stunned by this, but didn't know what to say, and so they simply shared a moment of silence together. He had decided that Narcissa's harsh bitterness was simply due to agitation at her current situation and widowhood more than anything. She did have a humor much like his Master; sarcasm that could strip the paint off of walls and a wit that carried many flavours and undertones that could speak volumes about a subject. Humor like that was wasted on Harry.

"So shall we continue with the Laws?" said Narcissa brusquely. "What have we done so far?"

"All Shall be Taught, Share Magic With Others, and Keep Thy Magic To Thyself," said Harry.

"Very well then, the fourth Law; Honor All Dark Ones," Narcissa seemed to sigh a little at this. "And so we come to the a Law which is the most trouble to follow. With the first Law, All Shall Be Taught, there is are simple sets of Minor rules that go with it, which are easy enough to follow and which your Master will be teaching you himself. But this Law, Honor All Dark Ones, comes with many many Minor Laws that are not all important to follow, too numerous to ever remember, and far more to do with social games then I care for."

"Oh boy," said Harry, grumbling. "Do I have to follow all the little rules?"

"No," Narcissa said firmly. "Though others may contradict me on that. The rules about Honor often contradict themselves. For example; Severus's current attempt to heal Draco honors Draco, but dishonors me, if we go by the Honor Laws," Narcissa smirked. "Here we have several rules that contradict one another, most importantly is that only a Master or Mistress should be permitted to touch their Apprentice; where touch has to do with intimacy and blood. Another rule, when a Master and Apprentice are at odds, the Master's word outranks the Apprentice. These rules were once part of the Mastery Laws, but were re-delegated by Salazar Slytherin, along with other social nonsense of that type, to where they belong, with the volumes and volumes of Minor Laws. Consequently, all rules that are not vital to the following of Major Laws are often grouped together this way under specific headings."

"Gaaaah!" Harry covered his ears. "Too complicated."

"Yeah," Narcissa snickered. "Don't bother too much about the Minor Laws, especially those ones that govern Honor. If you follow the Major Laws, then you'll pretty much find you'll still mostly be Honoring others, without fussing over the details. There are a few good laws mixed up in the offal, and I'll give you my favourite such texts later for you to digest, which is a much more interesting read than the etiquette books that my own Mistress forced down my throat growing up."

She crossed her legs, and was going to continue, when Idgy came over to her and bowed.

"Mistress Malfoy, Idgy is finished with the cleaning and cooking, and Idgy is sleepy. But Idgy wonders where Idgy will sleep?"

"Oh! I hadn't even thought about sleeping arrangements, to be perfectly honest," Narcissa looked around the room. "Why don't you bundle up some blankets and sleep in that little corner nook near the fireplace? That'll be quite warm. Unless you'll like to see what sort of arrangements the House Elves here at the inn have...?"

"Idgy will stay with Mistress, and sleep in the nook," said Idgy with a bow. "Mistress will be needing me to turn down her blankets?"

"No, you can go sleep now Idgy. I suspect I'll be awake for some time," Narcissa turned her head. "Harry, would you like to continue with the Law or get some rest? I plan on keeping watch tonight on Severus and the candles, so the bed is yours."

Harry stared at her, and blinked, turning to look at the bed. Something was telling him that he might not end up sleeping on the bed tonight, but he wasn't sure where that was coming from. It was an idea, and it was mostly just his wanting the best for Narcissa. After all, it was her son who currently laid injured in the next room.

"I don't know," he said. "I mean, you should have a place to sleep, and I can fit on the couch easily..."

"I won't be able to sleep until I know my son is well," she admitted in distress, watching Idgy roll up comfortably in the corner. "I disliked moving my pregnant House Elf from her own comfortable nest at home, but I'm afraid the ministry would take her away from me and I need her. I'm too stressed to do anything more than teach you the texts, and too stressed to sleep."

"She's pregnant?" Harry jerked his head to look at the round House Elf, who was now rubbing her belly and crooning softly.

"I don't know who the father is," Narcissa softly whispered. "But House Elves have a different method for mating than humans, not as devoted to their mates as they are to their children. At any rate, she'll probably need more rest then us."

"I can try my hand at cooking breakfast tomorrow," Harry hinted tentatively, then jumped when Idgy make a horribly offended sound from the corner.

"She'll be all right," Narcissa chuckled. "But she'd be offended if you tried to take her chores from her, especially cooking. She loves to play with food. Unlike me. Well this truly does bring us to the next Law, if you'd like to continue," Narcissa laughed ironically. "Respect All Magical Beings. Now, unlike the Law governing Honoring Other Dark Ones, this law is open to personal interpretation. My interpretation of this Law in regards to House Elves is simply to respect how they prefer to live, and not put them out of their comfort zone out of any sense of external understanding of what respect should be. Simply put, if a House Elf doesn't want to be free, I won't free them, and that is more respectful to them then trying to force freedom on them they don't want or understand. If they want to work, I find them a job. If they want to be left alone, I leave them alone. Dobby was not my House Elf or he would have been better cared for, certainly. I could do nothing to help him, sadly, as he obeyed only Lucius."

Harry was getting used to the idea of House Elves preferring servitude to freedom, and decided he had more in common with Narcissa then Hermione when it came to the subject of House Elf rights. For some reason though, this made him grumpy, and he got up to refill an empty soup bowl with some more of the quickly cooling roasted vegetables, if only to hide his agitation from Narcissa. He missed his friends, and it was painful to think that he would never be able to share any of this with them.

"Keep in mind," Narcissa coughed, as if sensing his distress. "Some magical creatures are impossible to show respect for, such as Dementors. Their only mission and purpose is to hurt people and steal souls, and that goes against several of our Laws. Now," Narcissa got up restlessly. "I'm going to freshen the candles. You should rest, or read up on all the Minor Laws if you like. We can go over the last two Major Laws tomorrow, then start you on the Line, which to warn you, is more history."

Harry groaned.

"We can also do some ward magic tomorrow," she added pointedly. "But for now, I'll be in the bedroom freshening the candles, restrengthening the wards, that sort of thing. Don't expect me out for a little while, as I'll likely want to keep a watch over my son for awhile when I'm done."

Harry nodded, and watched her somberly go to the bedroom with a dark premonition. But before she could turn the handle the door opened, and there stood Severus Snape.

"Severus! Oh my goodness!"

For a moment, Harry was scared. Severus wasn't moving or speaking, and Narcissa was backing away from him almost in fear. But as soon as Narcissa had moved away, Harry could see that he was smiling.

"I did it," said Severus. "And now that I've done it once, I can do it again."

But then he sagged, leaning against the door jamb for support. Harry rushed forward instinctively to take his arm and lead him to the bed.

"Guess I will be sleeping on the couch," Harry said.

"Oh no you don't, Potter, the couch is mine!" said a voice from the bedroom. "You'll sleep beside your Master in his bed, because thats the Law! Right Mother?"

"Draco!" Narcissa went to take the boy in her arms to hug. "Oh sweetheart! Are you all right?"

"Perfectly well Mother. Once Severus was out of my head all he had to do was heal me up. He's the one who'll need attention soon. Did more than he should have, really..."

Harry turned to look Severus in the eyes, but his face was an unreadable, fathomless mask of indifference. It was quite clear that he did not want to share the bed with Harry, but that he would be having no choice in the matter any longer. He was hurt and distressed, and Harry wasn't sure why, but he knew one thing; this was going to be a long night.


Chapter 16: Like, Like, Hello?


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: none in this chapter.

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

Like, Like, Hello?

"Narcissa," said Severus Snape, coming out of the bathroom with a towel around his neck. "I hate to ask you, but can you continue teaching Harry the rest of the Law today, and possibly the Line?"

Harry jerked his head up at the sound of his Master's voice, a habit he was starting to become annoyed with. He shook his head firmly, and turned back to eating the boiled eggs, bacon and toast that Idgy had made him for breakfast. Severus had declined the eggs and bacon, and Idgy was now begrudgingly making him up a fruit bowl for breakfast, a task she seemed more insulted by then delighted.

"You need but to ask," said Narcissa. "You know how I adore you, and the boy is such a gem to teach."

I am? thought Harry amusedly.

"I know you have your own Apprentice to be teaching, but I'm just so...so..."

"Tired?"

Narcissa looked up from where she was cutting Draco's hair. Draco looked very unhappy by all this; he'd been studying Dark Magic without the Apprenticeship for months already in preparation, and all this ritual was just an obligation. Harry had noted that her ritual scissors were cleaner and more well cared for than Severus's, and hers were made of solid gold. Nice for ritual use, but not good for function. She was making raw work of his haircut, however, and Harry hoped that the haircut wouldn't be too brutal by the time she was finished. She had none of Severus's artistry, that was for certain.

"Yes, tired," Severus accepted the word, but not graciously. "I hope this isn't much trouble...Perhaps the two of them could learn together?"

"I've been doing the Law with Harry," Narcissa admitted. "And Draco knows the Laws now..."

"...like the back of my hand," completed the blond boy sourly. "But I heard...Harry... that you've already read the Forrest Dwellers? I've yet to read that through, so perhaps we could...exchange?"

"I'm not finished with it," Harry admitted in protest. "I take forever to read books."

"You'll be working on the Law for most of the day," Narcissa added with a 'tsk', "Really, you won't need it for awhile, and Draco will need something to read while I'm working with you."

"Exactly!" said Draco enthusiastically. "Mother, you are the Mistress of my heart, but a hairdresser you are not. I can finish the cut myself with regular shears, I'm sure..." he hinted firmly.

Harry stifled his overwhelming urge to strangle something as the two of them quibbled over the new do. The Forrest Dwellers was his favourite book! No it was not all right for them to just take it from him! He wanted to yell, to scream! Suddenly, something dropped in front of Harry with a thump. The Forrest Dwellers. Harry looked up, and there was his Master, giving him a very very displeased look.

"I have two," said Severus thickly. "Nobody is going to take the book from you if it bothers you that much, but remember that they are my books to begin with. You would do well to remember your place."

Harry cringed at his pitilessly correct words, and then jumped when Narcissa spoke up in a shrill voice.

"How do you have two, Severus? I don't even own one!"

"Well now you do," said Severus primly. "You can take the Black family copies of all the important texts, which I salvaged from your cousin's purge of his house. I have doubles, and in some cases triples. One can never have too many textbooks."

"Excellent," said Draco, reaching for the second copy, which was carefully passed to him. "I've been meaning to get my hands on this for some time."

Severus retreated to the bedroom with a firm stomping of his feet and the door shut smartly behind him. Harry felt his stomach twist into a knot and rose to likewise plod into the bathroom on the opposite end of the suite, locking the door behind him and sliding down the wall to sit on the ground in a momentary fit of despair.

It hurt. He willed it not to, but the pain found its way around all Harry's mental barricades and leeched its way into his heart.

Why? Why, all of a sudden, is he looking at me like a liability? We were almost friends!

Harry pushed away the corner of his mind that told him Severus was just grumpy because of his injuries. He couldn't see where he had gone wrong! He hadn't done anything wrong, that he knew of anyway. Nothing horrifically bad certainly. It hurt, it all hurt, and he just wanted things to be back to the way they were before Narcissa and Draco had ever arrived on their doorstep. Harry's thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a knocking at the door.

"Are you going to be in there forever, Potter?" called Draco. "I need to fix my hair!"

Harry stood up angrily and defiantly to go turn on the shower, which Idgy had cleaned out of all boxes that morning. He hated how Draco kept switching back and forth between his first name and his last name, as if not sure yet which to use. Harry hadn't done that, not even in his mind. He hated how Draco seemed to be the center of attention now for the adults, and defiantly pulled off all his clothes and put himself directly under the shower head, even though he was quite clean.

"Hurry up all right?" shouted the voice behind the door.

When Harry came out of the bathroom, he was treated to an ugly glare by Draco Malfoy. The haircut the blond boy sported was none too flattering, and Harry plopped down next to the fireplace with a vengeful smirk on his face.

"Tea?" Idgy put a cup in his hands. "Biscuits?"

Everyone else may be grumpy about me, but Idgy's being nice at least...

After all, she was only obligated to care for Narcissa and Draco, not Harry. The affection seemed genuine. Narcissa accepted a cup of tea from her as well though and, without asking Harry, she immediately launched into their next lesson.

"The sixth Major Law is similar to the fourth Major Law. Honor All Sacred Places. Spaces, houses, etc. Its basically interpreted to mean when you come to a place of magic, ritual, worship or spirituality, you honor the purpose of that place. The Minor Laws are a little more clear on this, however. Simply put, follow the rules ordaining the space you are standing in, and do not break the rules until you leave that space. Graveyards, crypts, schools, houses and the like are also governed by this law, but it is mostly concerned with places where magic is actively being practiced in a spiritual manner, or places which are magical from a natural, not external, source. Hogwarts is one of them, by the by."

Harry nodded, but didn't feel all that up to discussing the Law. Narcissa, on the other hand, went into a long lecture about Sacred Places and their uses, and Harry found his concentration quickly wavered. He lifted his head when Draco came out of the bathroom, silently appreciating the boys now more skillfully crafted haircut, before turning to look at Narcissa for a moment, stunned. She had clearly asked him a question, and he clearly hadn't heard it.

"Hrm?" he blinked, and she shook her head, the smile on her face slightly chastening.

"I know this is boring, but do try to pay attention, its important," she smiled. "Now I asked, would you like to hear more about Sacred Places, and how they relate to us? Or would you like to go onto the last Law and study the other stuff on your own time."

"Well," Harry swallowed. "I tend to take a long time reading a book, but I learn more from reading the book then from a lecture of it because I take so long. So we can move on to the last Law. I mean, if thats what you'd like to do?"

"You and Severus have a different way of learning together," she said simply. "Each Master and Apprentice does. Its always different. Me, well, I prefer to hear things and see them in action then to reading them. Draco is the same. Severus can bother himself for hours on text without speaking a word to anyone. Apprentices generally take on some of their Master's study habits whilst under them, and I'm assuming you are no different."

Harry nodded, feeling a yawn come to his throat.

"Very well then," Narcissa said. "We'll move onto the last of the Main Laws, which is not the last of all the Laws entirely, but the last of the original group of seven that were practiced in the time of Queen Mab. Many others have been added since," she waved her hand dryly then sat up. "The last law. Respect Thy Magic and Thyself. The original text was 'As' Thyself, and is more description of the actual function of this Law..."

Harry jerked his head, and she smiled, in that way that predicted to him she was going to hit him with something of vital importance.

"Your magic is a part of you Harry, and is affected by how you behave and how you feel. When you abuse the body, the body abuses you. Likewise with magic, which is why your Master is being such an infernally nasty ogre right now, holing himself up in the bedroom sleeping when he should be asking you to help heal him. Many Dark Ones have lost control of their magic simply by not caring for themselves physically and mentally. They concern themselves with others, but don't take care of themselves..." she smiled almost knowingly at this, then pointed to the bedroom door. "Now why don't you take the Law book I've given you to study into the bedroom, and sit and read by your Master's bedside? It could help him to heal more quickly."

"Does this have to do with the 'Honor Laws?'," Harry guessed, smiling when Narcissa nodded amusedly. "So by sitting with him, I honor his need for healing. But by sitting with him, and doing my own thing at the same time, I can still honor his need for emotional space?"

"Ah! Honor Laws!" Draco threw up his hands. "It's all too much for me!"

Harry grinned, then picked up the Law book and tiptoed quietly into the bedroom. Sure enough, Severus was soundly sleeping. It wouldn't bother him to have Harry watch over him, and yet read at the same time. Harry slowly crept onto the foot of the bed, laying sideways down at Severus's feet, then flipped the textbook open to begin reading. He could almost feel the energy slowly moving from his own body to his Master's, in some sort of a healing conduit that was opened simply by his being present.

"Harry?"

Harry stiffened.

"Could you lay beside me instead? I like to stretch my feet when I can."

Harry's breath came out in a rush, and he immediately complied, feeling the tears of relief springing to his eyes. It would be all right, everything was going to be just fine.


Chapter 17: Spinal Tap


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: hint of SS/HP

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

Spinal Tap

"Are you in a lot of pain? Its taking so long for you to heal, and well...I just wondered..."

Severus looked up at Harry with a soft somber nod, which sent a dagger bolt of worry right into Harry's stomach. Harry had stayed by Severus' bedside every day for the past week, reading the Law textbooks that Narcissa assigned him, or digging more deeply into the Forrest Dwellers, leaving only to get trays of food for the both of them from Idgy, or to use the bathroom. Severus would talk to him about the Mastery Laws and how they applied to their Master Apprentice bond, since Harry couldn't start the 'Line' until he had memorized the Laws completely. There would be a test, which Severus was hesitant to give him until he himself was well enough to do it himself.

"Is it because of the Wild Magic," Harry asked. "Or something else?"

"A little of both," Severus rolled sideways, and pain spasmed over his face. "I had to tear down all of the pain blocking spells and straightening charms that were on my spine in order to work the Wild Magic. Replacing them all is not an easy task, and some of them were cast by Healers at St. Mungos, so they can't be replaced..." he winced, then looked up at Harry with pained eyes that spoke volumes as to his mental state. "I have no right to ask you, as there are proprietary Laws between a Master and Apprentice that usually forbid it but would...you...touch me?"

"Come again?" Harry stared at Severus.

"Can you, touch my spine," the man slowly started to pull of his shirt. "Usually its highly inappropriate for a Master and Apprentice to touch skin to skin, anywhere below the head. Healing can be done without touching the skin, and a levitation spell can be used to carry somebody. But I despise those Honor Laws with every fibre of my being!"

"I know," said Harry, and then laughed at his look. "I mean, Narcissa doesn't like them either, and she said you were a bit of a rebel."

"Oh really, she did?" he smirked. "Well, let me just...get on my stomach, and we can break the Law together."

Easier said than done, since the man's spine was crooked beyond comprehension. Harry had a light bulb moment, and pulled some spare blankets from one of the storage closets to prop the man up.

"You can be rather clever at times, my young Apprentice," said Severus smoothly. "On the small of my back if thats more comfortable, but both hands should touch the spinal column at some place. This creates a magical conduit for the power to go in and come out again."

Harry nodded, then straddled his Master's behind to place his hands on the man's poor crooked back. It was a very intimate moment, and Harry truly felt at peace with Severus for the first time since he had set eyes on him. A rush of power was drawn from Harry suddenly, as Severus worked some subtle spell to borrow Harry's energy to heal what he was touching. Harry didn't fight the energy line, just allowed the power to flow in from him, through his Master, and out again in a cycle which was more physically intimate than Harry had ever been with anyone else.

But suddenly the bedroom door opened, and there was a startled cough. Harry jerked his head up, and Draco gave him an uncomfortable look.

"Oh, I'm sorry, didn't mean to interrupt anything...Just, Mum's back, so I'll leave," Draco stammered and took an awkward step back.

Harry could understand his panic. Harry and Severus were clearly in a position that could be mistaken for something of a sexual nature. Harry blushed.

"No, its all right Draco," Severus said quickly, as if guessing the boy's distress. "Harry and I were in a Healing meld together. Could you, in fact, tell Narcissa to come here so I can speak with her when she's finished with the wards? You can stop now Harry, I've borrowed about as much power from you as I can take without falling asleep from exhaustion."

Draco slipped out of the room quickly and Harry pulled himself free of his Master awkwardly. Draco had been occupying himself today with helping Idgy pack. Narcissa had decided that the space was too small for their 'Coven', and had left the suite today, as she often did, under disguise, to find a new home for the five of them. Only the bare necessities were to be taken, she had informed Harry with a pang, and the flotsam would be sold for coin. She regretted not having Malfoy Manor any longer, pining for her husband's ancestral home with a ferociousness that frightened Harry. That is, until she remembered that she could send Idgy into her house any time to get things for her without the Ministry knowing about it, and had done so with great gusto. Books, arcane objects, clothes of all sizes of description, and now the suite was packed fit to burst. For Narcissa, that was simply glorious.

"What's a Healing meld?" Harry asked. "I've heard that term used a lot by you and Narcissa this week, but I don't understand it."

"Ow," Severus swore as he sat up. "Pain. A meld is one person borrowing energy from another person to combine it to his own for the purposes of doing something which otherwise he would not have been able to. In this case, I used your magic to realign two bones in my spine which had been misaligned when I went into a Healing trance with Draco."

"Healing meld, Healing trance...is there a difference?"

"Ah, well, yes, quite a bit of a difference," said Severus delicately. "A Healing trance is a more powerful form of magic, but it's all entirely my own magical energy being used. And it's invasive, I sent my spirit into Draco's mind to see where the problem was in order to be able to treat it. In that case it was werewolf contamination. Now that I've done it once, I could do so again without having to use Wild Magic, because that is now under my Control. I could even do it with a meld if I wanted to."

"Say what?" Harry scratched his head, totally lost.

"Well," Severus was panting now, under the strain of trying to dress again. "When you learn a Dark Magical skill it becomes a part of your energy and you can use it effortlessly without having to tap into Wild Magic. That's called Control. Once you learn something, you never forget how to do it. Wild Magic is only used if you aren't SURE how to do something, and nobody else can teach it to you. Wild Magic can give you a path, and do the work for you, teach you, but it expends something of yourself in the process, and had a mind of its own. Often it will steal your powers or cripple you, if you don't offer it some sort of compensation, like Draco's blood for example."

Everything Narcissa had been telling Harry for the past two days suddenly clicked together, and Harry laughed.

"I get it!" he said, jumping to his feet. "Its like learning how to ride a bike! Once you have it, you never lose it, but the first time you get on you can fall off and get hurt..."

"Unless you have somebody showing you how to do it, like a Master..." Severus completely, grinning.

"Severus," Harry said, getting used to using the man's name. "I have a question for you that's been bugging me for a long while now, and it ties into this whole thing with your spine."

"Oh?" Severus curled up on the bed; he was clearly waiting for Narcissa to come and speak with him on whatever subject was troubling him, and this conversation would never have taken place otherwise.

"Well, you said your father did that to your spine," Harry said gently. "You said your father was a Dark One, so the injury couldn't be healed normally."

"Yes," Severus raised his eyebrows, clearly nervous about the subject matter at hand. "And?"

"And, well, I thought your father was a muggle!" Harry felt sweat beading on his forehead. This had been bugging him for days, but with Severus having been ill he hadn't wanted to broach the subject.

"It's," Severus stopped as his voice caught in his throat, and Harry guessed correctly that he had been right to wait. "Very painful. Tobias Snape, the muggle who raised me, was my step-father and the only true father I've ever known," Severus rubbed his face, but was close to crying. "My biological father was a...monster. I was very proud of my Half-blooded lineage, because having Tobias Snape as a father, even as drunk as he often was, was better than my true father. Tobias was kind in his own way, but my real father, he would...experiment on my mother and me. He experimented with Wild Magic, and the potions he brewed. We were lab rats. If anybody ever wondered why my mother ended up marrying a muggle, well, you can imagine that she wouldn't let any wizard within ten leagues of her body. He did blood magic, sex magic, anything on her that struck his fancy. That's how I was conceived..."

The weight of his words laid on Harry's stomach, and the man sat up, shaking his head.

"Even after mother married Tobias, he followed us, tormenting us. He messed up my spine the day my mother rejected him once and for all, fighting to get him to leave the house before Tobias came home. She was afraid he would kill my step-father you see, and Tobias didn't know about him. He'd have his fun, but would leave warning her not to run away again. Finally, when I was about seven, he came back to try and take me away from him, after all he was my biological father right? Magical law permitted him partial custody of me. Mum...she did something akin to what your own mother did; she used Wild Magic to try and destroy him."

Severus started shaking, but he lifted his head and Harry could see the tears spilling over.

"She did it, but she was left with no mind, just a drooling, whining thing...When father came home he found her, and my dead father's body and went nearly mad."

Harry swallowed, but the man sighed, and shook his head.

"He reported the whole thing to the authorities, and was given custody of me. By then I was nearly Hogwarts age. After a long time in St. Mungo's my mother was fit enough to go live with my father again. But she hasn't spoken a word since. It's as if her soul is gone."

Harry nodded and put a hand to touch his Master's wrist. Severus looked at him uncomfortably, but nodded, and accepted the small token of affection.

"Don't tell Narcissa this story," Severus said gently. "She doesn't know that the man who did this to me was my biological father. Oh she'd have a cat if she ever found out. Her husband Lucius and I...We were half brothers. I'm losing my family Harry, everywhere I turn a new loved one is dead. Narcissa and Draco are all I have, all I have left. If I'm possessive and loving of them, overprotective, can you blame me? Can you really blame me?"

Harry could just stare and nod, not sure what else to say. It was all so horrible. What kind of life had his Master known? What horrors had he endured? It was no wonder he had been able to kill Albus Dumbledore so ruthlessly! And all those years of biting and hissing at his students...But there was a knock on the door, and Narcissa poked her head in pointedly.

"If you want to talk with me now Severus, I'm available. I think I've found a place where we can stay, but Harry, you aren't going to like it."

"I'm not?" Harry turned to look at his Master, then back to Narcissa with a blank expression.

"Number Twelve Grimmauld Place," said Severus Snape simply. "Glorious."


Chapter 18: Harry's Keeping Secrets Again


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: hint of SS/HP

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

Harry's Keeping Secrets Again

"Grimmauld Place?" Harry jerked. "But isn't that the Order of the Pheonix Headquarters?"

Harry suddenly covered his mouth in shock.

"Not anymore, they've had to move quarters," said Narcissa smoothly. "Only the three of us know of its existence now. Severus because he was in the Order, me because I am a Black by birth, and Harry of course owns the property. The rest of the Order of the Phoenix knows of the place as well of course, but since Harry is the owner of the house nobody can enter it without his permission being renewed. Harry, it seems, has inherited the position of Secret Keeper from Dumbledore."

"What good would it be to us though, if the Order knows where we are?" asked Severus, though he seemed delighted by the prospect of making new quarters of Sirius Black's house.

"Well, they can't enter Grimmauld Place again until Harry tells them of its location again, though they know where it is already," she sighed delightfully. "In fact, that's already where the Order of the Phoenix thinks Harry is hiding, and since they can't enter the House, they can't confirm it! Its really pathetic, they sit around Grimmauld street on watch, looking for any glimpse that the House is in use, but they can't actually go inside! It's wonderful!"

"They do?" Harry scratched his head. "But couldn't we just, I don't know, use a Secret Keeper spell on Malfoy Manor or someplace else?"

Both adults stared at him, then Severus Snape laughed.

"Secret Keeper is such a wildly complex and infuriating spell that only a man such Albus Dumbledore would ever have had the time or patience to set it. It's tied directly to the House and the caster, and since you seem to have inherited the spell it is now tied to you. You wouldn't have to call our secret location the 'Order of the Phoenix Headquarters.' But you are certainly better off with having inherited the spell, rather than having to cast it yourself. Plus, you can remove any person from the spell, which would be to our advantage."

"Yes," Narcissa said grandly. "There are hundreds of tiny magical spells worked into the network of the Secret Keeper. Every time you add somebody to the spell a new line is created that ties into the spell. You can remove people's lines from the spell and focus your energies to protecting certain members more strongly then others. It is still Dark Magic, and given time and energy a powerful Dark One could break it down from the outside, but..." she smiled brilliantly. "They would have to learn about the location from you first!"

Harry stared, and laughed.

"Number Twelve Grimmauld place it is. So what should I call our new order?"

"I don't know," Severus said plainly. "That you'll have to decide, but the decision is unconscious and once you create an identity for the spell in your head the changes will be automatic."

Harry nodded, and thought about it. His eyes wandered passed Narcissa to the door, where he knew that Draco was waiting for them, possibly eating, or possibly reading. Reading...

"I have it," Harry grinned. "Number Twelve Grimmauld Place will now be home to the Coven of the Forrest Dwellers!"

Both adults jerked there heads up to look at Harry, then both of them looked at each other and laughed.

"We should tell Draco and Idgy," Harry said. "Um, speaking of which, what about Kreacher?"

"He's tied into the spell as well," said Narcissa thoughtfully. "But until you tell him where the Coven is located, he won't know of us. Nor can he enter the house until you summon him."

"Good," Harry grinned, and got up. "So then, shall I go tell your son and House Elf?"

"I think I should be present for this, but yes," Narcissa immediately went with him. "Severus?"

"Cissa, when you two have finished with Draco, will you come back so we can talk privately?"

Severus looked desperately anxious now, trying to find a comfortably position on the bed to sleep. It was obvious that he had no plans to leave the bed anytime soon. Narcissa nodded curiously, before following Harry out the door. She waited until she was sure that he was resting before closing the door, and pulling Harry off to the side.

"Is he all right?" Narcissa asked Harry. "Draco said you were in a Healing meld, and that would give him energy in spades!"

"He's in a lot of pain," Harry admitted, feeling morose, chest aching. "We did a Healing meld, but its his spine and that can't really be Healed. He's trying to mask it, but the pain is worse than he's letting on, I know it!"

She nodded gravely in response, giving him a sympathetic pat on the shoulder. She then went pointedly over to sit with Draco.

"So?" said the blond boy anxiously. "What's going on?"

Idgy was summoned over, and Harry told them both quickly about the new Coven, Narcissa interjecting her comments here and there. Draco seemed even more giddy and anxious after being told.

"A secret Coven!" he said breathlessly. "Just like in the Forrest Dwellers! Oh I'm so excited!"

"Don't get too excited now," she said smirking. "You'll still be studying and doing the usual routine, and I expect you to study with Harry for your test. Now that Severus has been teaching Harry the Mastery Laws, I'm sure it won't be all that long until Harry can be tested."

"I should be tested now," Draco sulked. "I've studied ALL three, Law, Line and Life!" he seemed very anxious.

"True, but Harry's going to need help with his studies, and I'm going to need your help for everything else, so it's easier for you two to be tested together."

She immediately set him to helping Idgy finish the packing, which sent the blond boy into a sulking fit that only made Narcissa laugh pointedly. Then the woman sat sharply in front of Harry and plucked one of the textbooks Draco had been studying from off of the ground.

"Since you've covered most of the Law, I can assume its safe for us to discuss the Line. I'll set you to studying, then go speak with Severus as he requested."

"I..." Harry swallowed. "I mean, you are a great teacher, Narcissa, but I...I really wish it was Severus teaching me."

She nodded, understandingly.

"I can only teach you the book work, my boy. Only your Master can teach you how to use Dark Talent. Well, I could, but of the few Laws of Honor that I respect, that is the one that I respect the most; the Master has a right to teach his Apprentice as he wills. Severus has only asked me to teach you the Law, the Line and the Life. I won't teach you anything more. So," she flipped through the book and smiled. "The Line. Every culture and race throughout recorded time has a history of its own, myths and legends. The Line is our History, which is the recorded historical lineages of Dark Ones from the time of Mab to present. Every Family Tree carries with it a history that tells us of the sufferings and great deeds of our people. Each Family represents a portion of our past that binds us together. We teach the Line as the Law instructs, so that we may never forget what our people have sacrificed, or our origins, and we of course start with the Children of Mab; Merlin, Mordred and Morgan LeFaye."


Chapter 19: Patering Over Papers


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: hint of SS/HP

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

Pattering over Papers

Harry seemed suddenly entranced by Narcissa's voice. History had always seemed dull and tedious before, but the story of of Mab and her children was one that seemed to draw him like a moth to a flame. Narcissa spoke, reading for a time, and reciting poetry, verses, all the ballads and songs that told of the great history of Queen Mab's people from the time of her birth, to the time of her death, a climax of being murdered by her oldest and most beloved son. The imagery and fantasy captivated him, calling up scenes of billowing waves and rocky shorelines, rolling English hills with armoured knights on horseback rushing into glorious battle, swords raised, banners furled. Each word she spoke seemed to lull him deeply, and he was totally entranced.

Until of course, his Master came limping out of the bedroom, and laughed his brilliantly sparkling laugh, shattering the mood so completely that Harry sunk back into his chair downcast.

"Oh! Severus!" Narcissa said nervously. "You're awake!"

"Couldn't keep his attention otherwise could you?" said Severus in an almost accusatory tone, though he was smiling. "You used a magnetism spell on my Apprentice didn't you?"

"What?" Harry felt like bawling, and turned to look at Narcissa in offense.

"Not so strong a spell as that," she said hesitantly. "Just a little something to keep him captivated. Really, thousands of years of historical text is downright boring otherwise."

Harry stared at her, almost grief stricken, but his Master patted him on the head.

"You do remember everything she said and did, do you not?"

Harry blinked, and then smiled. He COULD almost remember it all, the battles, the magic, the old shame of Morgan LaFeye's treachery, and all the old tricks.

"Exactly," said Severus, reading his mind. "Its a good trick, but Narcissa I would be well advised to let him know when you are going to use magic on him from now on."

She nodded meekly, and Severus poured himself a cup of tea.

"Did you want to speak with me now?" Narcissa asked gently, and Severus shook his head.

"It doesn't matter now," said Severus. "I was going to ask you to brew a potion, but it doesn't matter now. I've discovered the trick of how to block the pain, thanks to Harry's melding with me. I can do it now without any help."

Narcissa stared.

"More Wild Magic?"

"No," Severus grinned. "Harry taught me. He probably doesn't even know what it was he did, but..." he smiled and looked Harry full on, beaming, with a look of full blown pride. "Harry has Wild Talent, just as I suspected."

"What?" Harry looked between the two adults with a jerk of his head, and Draco stopped in his packing to stare at Harry in outright jealously.

"Wild Talent?" Narcissa said in a panic. "Are you sure?"

"As sure as I am sober," said Severus with an almost magical smile. "Harry has Wild Talent. My spine hasn't felt this good in weeks! I went to sleep, and wake up and I can walk properly again! It's fantastic!"

"Wait, what, what do you mean?" Harry was delighted, but so confused.

"What I mean is, you can use Wild Magic just the same way that you use Dark Magic, without having to make some sort of sacrifice, as I did with my energy for Draco's healing. In short, there is nothing you can't do, you merely have to get it right once, and it's yours. You've put all the Healing charms back that were removed during my Healing trance, and numbed the pain completely."

"Like Merlin..." Draco Malfoy breathed, and then whined. "Lucky!"

"Well no matter, the pain is gone," Severus said beaming. "So once we've finished up our packing and sorting, I see no reason why we can't leave. I'm done with this horrible stuffy little suite, and I want to start teaching Harry again!"

He took his tea and returned to the bedroom, leaving Harry gaping in his wake.

"He's starting to remind me of Merlin a little himself," Narcissa said with a pout. "Coming into the room to partake of his vast knowledge, then vanishing in a puff, while I do all the work!" she laughed girlishly, and then jumped to her feet. "All right Harry, you enjoyed hearing about Mab? Now you can read it until its time to leave. I'm too excited to read to you anymore, and this book is basically just a history text, very straight forward, like the Forrest Dwellers."

She went to the bathroom, and Draco sat down in the chair she had vacated to stare at Harry.

"It all went over your head, didn't it?" Draco said wryly, and poured himself some tea much in the same manner that Severus.

"Yeah," Harry said. "I really need a glossary of some kind for all these Dark Magical terms. Dark Talent, Wild Talent, Law, Line, Life, Rule of Three. Blah."

"Well, take notes then, like I do," said Draco. "Suffice it to say, you've got a power thats rare enough to be enviable. I'm rather jealous you know," he winked at Harry. "But even though I'm jealous, I'll lend you my notes."

Harry blinked as Draco rose bodily to fiddle through his packs in search of a stack of neatly written parchments.

"My notes," he said, presenting them to Harry. "You mentioned you needed a glossary, well I wrote one. I'm writing a book you see, every Apprentice is supposed to."

"We are?" Harry took the pages to flip through them.

"Yep, every Dark One must add a written work to the history of our people. It makes sense if you think about it. "

"Well, how much of your book do you have written?" said Harry in fascination.

"Not a lot, but some," he grinned. "I've been learning Dark Magic for a long time without having a Master. My Dark Talent is Controlled, so I don't really need Mother to actually be my Mistress, its merely a formality. I started my book before I really should have. You have to be pass the Rule of Three Test, or RTT, and enter Senior Apprenticeship before you are allowed to add to the formal written works. We're both Junior Apprentices, by the by."

"Well," Harry sighed, and stared at the book on his lap. "By the time I finish reading all the books I've been assigned, you'll probably be done writing that book!"

Draco laughed, and reached for the book.

"I'll read it to you," said he. "Believe me, history is much more interesting when it's told as a fairytale, and I've been told I'm the best at storytelling."

So he started again where Narcissa left off, and even though Narcissa returned from the bathroom, she didn't interrupt their pointed study. It seemed to Harry that she was tired, and she simply moved into the bedroom, possibly to speak with Severus, or possibly to make use of the second bed that now occupied that space. Whatever the case, when she didn't come out for a while, Draco grinned mischievously.

"Want to do something...naughty?" Draco hinted. "Break the rules, and go get a butterbeer downstairs? C'mon!"

Harry blinked at him, and watched the blond boy pick up a box with the disguise potions and clothes.

"Oh, I don't know," Harry said, nervously. "I'm not supposed to go anywhere without my Master, and I'm sure its the same for you..."

"Oh Hogwash! We're almost at Senior level! Really! C'mon, a butterbeer, a bit of space, they're both sleeping in there, so why not? We'll be quick!"

Harry was losing his excuses. Severus and Narcissa were sleeping.

"I guess it couldn't hurt, if we're in disguise and all..."

Draco made himself up with red hair and blue eyes, like a Weasley, with ragged clothes and worn shoes. His accent was Irish, and he called himself Jeffrey McAllister. Harry put on his usual disguise as the blond Australian apprentice called Nathan Greenbow. The voice potions were easy to find, they were pointedly labelled, and Harry had assisted Severus with brewing them so often that he would have known which ones they were even if they weren't so labelled.

"Let's go!"

The common room of the Serpent's Tail was very quiet. Night was the time for business for the bar, so daytime meant empty barstools and only a snaggle-toothed barmaid to serve drinks. The two of them took their butterbeers to a booth, away from windows, and sat simply enjoying their momentary freedom.

"When we go to the new place we won't have this freedom," Draco admitted to Harry. "We'll be trapped inside, at least until we can find a better place, or reach Journeyman rank, in which we can come and go without permission. It sucks."

Harry nodded, thinking fondly of the large expanse of Draco's ancestral home. Severus had said they could stay there one day, and now he knew that they wouldn't. He would be stuck in his Godfather's house, the house Sirius had hated, but without Sirius in it there would be no joy in it. Only pain, and that blasted portrait of Sirius's Mother. Hurt laced through him, and he took a heavy drink of his butterbeer to stifle the spasms of memories that now leeched up through his tightly woven defenses.

"You all right, Nathan?" asked Draco gently, using Harry's false name, with a pretty Irish lilt that Harry decided suited the boy way to much.

"Not really," Harry admitted. "I think I'm finally feeling all the trauma from the last little while that I haven't really come to grips with yet."

"Yeah," Draco nodded, and took a sip of his butterbeer, then swore. "Uh-oh...looks like the jig is up."

Harry felt himself stiffen, thinking perhaps that there were Aurors, or Order members behind him, certainly he felt a presence was familiar, and it didn't help that he had been thinking of members of the Order while they had been talking. But Harry turned and found himself looking up into the darkly disappointed eyes of his Master, in disguise of course. Draco's Mother stood next to him, a red haired wraith with an icy glare.

"You two," said Severus, not bothering with pleasantries. "Upstairs. Now."

Harry felt his heart sink, and his stomach twist.

Boy are we in for it!


Chapter 20: Insert Something Romantic Here


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: definite SS/HP

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

Insert Something Romantic Here

Narcissa hadn't said a word since they arrived back in the suite, but Severus had plenty to say, and let forth with his angry commotion the minute the door closed behind them.

"How could-a you two be so-a stupid-o?" came his angry refrain, voice still disguised with the thick Italian accent.

Narcissa had to stifle her giggles.

"We just wanted to get out and breath!" Draco argued flatly in his own hot Irish accent. "We're going to be trapped in the new place for who knows how long, and when was the last time Harry got to leave this place? He's been holed up here like a hermit! We're people! We need sunshine! And preferably something to drink other than tea and honey!"

It was like the war off the corny accents. Severus let off another litany of foul curses, in both English and Italian, which made her giggle out right.

"Severus, calm down," she snickered. "You want the whole inn to hear us?"

Harry hadn't said a word since coming in, and Narcissa noted his slumped shoulders. He was bracing for blows that never came; the words from Severus's mouth were mostly hot air, nothing more than expelled steam, but Harry looked as if he expected to be rejected and thrown into the gutter. Ah, if only he knew how silly that idea was, nothing could be farther from the truth.

"So then," Severus straightened his dowdy robes, and looked at Narcissa pointedly. "What sort of punishment should we bequeath upon our little lawbreakers, hmm?"

"Punishment!" Draco protested, jumping to his feet, and Harry slumped even farther down in shame.

Narcissa sighed. If it had just been Draco, there would be no punishment, obviously she doted on her son and could forgive him anything. But Harry was so new to the Laws, new to everything, that really, he needed to learn to truly respect the Laws and his Master's place over him. Later, when he had more Control and was in a safer ways, he could break whatever rules he wanted, but for now it was important he learn to obey his Master. If Severus was planning on some form of discipline for the lad, well, it would be unfair for Narcissa not to follow suit with her own Apprentice. She didn't have to make it extremely painful though, Severus knew very well what her feelings were on the matter.

"Since the two of them are so bent on leaving without permission, perhaps we could have them run some of my more unpleasant errands? Say, selling off the extra supplies that we won't be needing at the Coven house, getting some last minute supplies from Diagon that we won't be able to simply go out and get once we're at the Coven house..." she rolled off her long list of chores and Draco's face turned more and more outraged, in contract to Harry's slumped and pouting displeasure. "What about your potion deliveries, Severus? You have been rather neglecting your customers."

"I could also assign them to replenishing our neglected potions supply once we've gotten to the Coven house," added Severus smoothly. "Along with their studies and their homework they'll have their hands full this week, certainly."

Draco whined, as Narcissa knew he would, complained, pointed fingers, then resignedly put on his disguise again to go with the still moping Harry to the pawn shop with the old blankets and junk furniture, levitating it behind them with their wands. Narcissa watched them heading off from the window, and turned to look at Severus with a pointed eyebrow raised.

"I was planning to have them do some of these things anyway," said Narcissa pointedly, "But putting it as a punishment will keep Draco from throwing any more of a temper tantrum."

"You've been lax with him lately," Severus stated keenly, and sent Idgy to the new Coven house with all the remaining boxes and parcels; she'd done the furniture while they had been downstairs locating their errant pupils.

"Well, can you blame me?" Narcissa said, feeling her ire rise. "He's all I have left of my husband! He's all I have left, Severus!"

It wasn't her imagination, but Severus recoiled pointedly and turned away from her.

"Severus I, I didn't mean to hurt you. You're my best friend, of course, like the brother I never had," she went over to him, and put her arms around him. "I'm sorry. I know you're trying to protect the boy, but you needn't have such a stranglehold on his actions."

"Narcissa," Severus took a deep breath, as if steeling himself. "There's...something...I have to tell you. Something I've told no one else. I think you need to know, I think, I need to tell you, why I'm so desperate to keep him safe."

Narcissa felt her breath intake when he turned to her with a look of pure misery and despair.

"Narcissa, if...if anything happened to Harry, I would die. I would die and my heart would be torn to pieces," he swallowed. "Narcissa...Harry...he's my soul mate."

Narcissa felt her heart beating rapidly.

"Are you sure? But the Prophecy, the Commandment! Are you sure?"

"Yes," Severus slumped down onto the window sill, the empty suite causing his voice to echo ominously. "I confirmed it when we did the Healing meld, and Harry used his Wild Talent to heal my hurts. The meld was as perfect and pure as any I've ever been in, more so, it was purely involuntary, purely instinctive. He knew exactly how to do it, without ever having done so before. He knew how to heal me, because he knows me. Narcissa, he didn't just heal my pain," Severus stood, eyes damp with unshed tears, hair falling in his. "He's healed my spine! Every hour I'm able to walk a little straighter! My spin is shifting back into place!"

"Oh Severus, you, and if he is the Chosen One as the Prophesy foretold...Severus!"

"I...I'm not ready for this, Narcissa! I'm not ready!"

She nodded, and went over to take his arm to hug him.

"It will be some time. He has to obtain his Journeyman rank before he can take a lover, you know."

"I know," Severus scratched his head. "I just can't get over that strange idea that I am the soul mate of the Chosen One! All I can think about is just how happy I am to be in love again."

She held him to her tightly, feeling her heart race and pound in sympathy and joy for him.

So I was right! May Mab Bless and Protect them both.


Chapter 21: High Ho! And Away!


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: definite SS/HP

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

High Ho! And Away!

A tremor of trepidation spread through Harry's body as they approached Number Twelve Grimmauld Place. A House Elf could apparate into Grimmauld place, but Harry would have to enter the house and take control of the wards before he himself could apparate into the building, or use the floo. And since the floo system needed to be activated from inside the building, they would have to enter through the front door first. Harry vaguely wondered if Hedwig were already there, as she wouldn't have been able to find him at the Serpent's Tail. He was just grateful his owl hadn't been at his house that summer when he'd blown up the street. He didn't know what he would think if he'd been responsible for the death of his dear feathered friend.

Severus suddenly stopped with a hiss.

"Cissa, Nymphadora!"

Harry's eyes spun in the direction he was pointing. Tonks, for it was tonks, stood outside the house, her whole disguise that of an woman with a flower in her hat. Down the road Harry could see Mad-Eyed moody disguised as a baseball player.

None of them have any idea how much they stand out. Totally ignorant as to muggle disguises.

"Moody will see us, even with the charms," Harry whispered.

"Lets hurry then, we don't want to be jumped again..."

Indeed, Harry could feel Draco trembling next to them. Even under the disillusionment charms, they still made noise, and still had a shape, and so they moved as quickly as was safe. But secrecy was not to be had, a yell sounded, and suddenly there were footsteps around them; Tonks had pulled off her hat with a jerk, Moody was clopping towards them at a good clip, and several more footsteps could be heard coming from behind.

"Run!" said Severus fiercely, and Harry didn't argue, flying towards the front door.

He bowled passed Tonks, and ran up the front path, vaguely aware that Draco was right at his heels. Severus and Narcissa had started flinging spells behind them, he could here the shattering sounds of sizzling magic flying through the air. Shouts, yells and clattering footsteps. Harry grabbed the door, and hissed when it burnt his hands. Energy arched through his body, causing his hair to stand on ends, and then the door recognized him and the knob turned. Harry could hear Mrs. Black screaming from the hallway. Harry hissed and dragged Draco into the House with him. Narcissa and Severus were still throwing spells.

"Shut up!" Harry yelled at the portrait, and pushed Draco right in front of her. "We're dark ones! This is Draco Malfoy! So hush!"

Surprisingly, she did, looking very pleased. Harry pulled the curtains back in front of her, and ran back to the front door.

"What do I do?" he said in panic, looking outside the door in misery at the chaos there.

"Let Mother and Severus do their thing. If they can't get to the front door they'll apparate away and we can bring them in later..."

"But..."

"Close the door Harry," said Draco. "Where's Idgy? We should start putting up our own wards!"

"Somebodies been tampering," said Harry immediately. "Even with never having been a Secret Keeper before I know. Somehow somebody has been trying to fiddle with the spell."

"Probably the Order trying to break in," said Draco, sagging against the wall. "Too tired. Idgy!"

The House elf popped in front of him, and Draco gave her orders to start making lunch. Harry didn't know what to do, just standing in the hallway as the sounds of a battle raged behind him.

"But should do more than just stand here!"

"We aren't Masters Harry," said Draco tiredly. "What would happen if you tried to participate in an arcane duel? Use Wild Talent again? Maybe loose control and rip up half the street in the process? They'll be all right, they will..." he seemed to be saying this more to reassure himself, then to reassure Harry.

Harry couldn't just sit. He went over to the front door, and peeked out the side window. Severus and Narcissa were down the row away, several members of the order pushing them away from the Order Headquarters feverishly. Harry felt his stomach twist.

"They won't be able to get here," Harry said glumly. "If they apparate, how will they get back? The Order will just bring in more support!"

Draco suddenly stood up, grinning.

"Hey, Harry, you have the life spell mastered right?"

"The one that makes objects move?" Harry blinked. "Yeah, I do? But..."

"I have an idea!" Draco grinned. "And Mother wanted us to move some of the old furniture out of this place anyway."

Harry likewise grinned,and the two boys ran upstairs.

The Order of the Phoenix was quite shocked indeed when chairs and tables started running down the street, intercepting t heir spells and jumping between them and their two opponents. Two large beds galloped down the street, knocking over members of the Order, and heading for Severus and Narcissa.

"Get on!" yelled Severus, jumping onto one with a grand leap.

Narcissa climbed more decorously onto her own bed, and the two beds galloped down the street to the next corner. Harry watched them galloping out of sight, while the order was still distracted by the furniture now herding them away from the house towards a small parking lot.

"Perfect!" Harry cackled, clapping his hands. "Oh, too rich!"

"Of course the spells won't last forever. Hurry, the back door!"

Harry and Draco ran to the back of the house, and sure enough came Severus and Narcissa on their beds, which leapt the back fence and screeched to a halt before them. Narcissa laughed!

"Brilliant boys! Good thinking!"

"Well done!" Severus agreed. "Better call the furniture in, before a Misuse of Muggle Artifacts squad is summoned."

Harry quickly went to the door, summoning his chairs back to him. Draco took control of his own and soon the furniture was marching back through the door, the Order members trailing dazedly after them along the street. Tonks was giving Harry a strange look; his disillusionment charm had worn off, and she was looking so lost, so angry, that Harry didn't know what to think.

"They can't come to the door, but you'd better close it," said Severus gently, pushing the door shut.

Harry nodded, feeling his whole body go numb, and turned around. The two Malfoy's were standing the hallway looking at him expectantly.

"You want me to remove them from the spell," Harry said weekly.

"Everybody but us," said Severus purposefully. "Of course there's your owl..."

Harry nodded, and mentally went over the spell.

"There's been tampering, but very light. Mostly they were trying to transfer the Secret Keeper spell to somebody else, but failed of course. Kreacher has tried to get into the house, but has failed as well. I can remove his thread, and I can remove the people I know easily. I don't know a good number of the Order members, so they'll take longer."

Harry turned to look at Severus expectantly, but saw that he Narcissa and Draco were looking at him in a strangely subdued sort of awe.

"You just figured it out that quickly, never having been in control of such a spell before," Severus sighed softly. "Harry you amaze me. I can give you the names of any Order members you may now know, but more may have been added in the duration."

Harry nodded, and started to remove threads from the spell.

Kreacher the House Elf. Kingsley Shacklebolt, Nymphadora Tonks, Allister Moody, and Minerva McGonagall...the names just flew through his mind. Mundungus Fletcher, Annabella Figg, Arthur and Molly Weasley...Fred and George Weasley, Bill Weasley, Charlie Weasley, Ginny Weasley...

Harry swallowed, and felt the tears coming to his eyes. He removed more names, but he couldn't yet bring himself to remove Ron and Hermione. He couldn't do it. He was torn between duty and his feelings, and he looked up at Severus with a feeling of panic. Severus understood immediately, and knelt down to look him in the eyes.

"You can keep them for now," he said gently, ignoring Narcissa's huff of disapproval. "This is your house Harry, regardless of what we may feel, if you trust Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, then you trust them. You don't have to remove people you trust. Only you can add more. Understand?"

Harry nodded, and put his arms around Severus's neck sobbing. He was hurting, hurting in a way that he had been trying to ignore for weeks now. He wanted his friends back! He wanted his friends! He misssed Ron and Hermione, and all the others he had been close to. Harry was aching inside, a wound in him rubbed raw, and he didn't know if it would ever heal.

"Idgy is done making lunch!" said an insistently voice suddenly. "Idgy must now go to clean, Idgy is now happy with dust and grime! Idgy will dust and mop and clean!"

The round House Elf huffed proudly, and left with a pop. Harry laughed.

"Well, at least I know this place will be taken care of," said Harry. "I'm hungry, and just a little tired."

Severus coughed uncomfortably, and they all shuffled to the kitchen, everybody too bother with unpacking just yet.


Chapter 22: Compounded Troubles


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: definite SS/HP

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

In Which Draco Continues to Compound His Troubles

"So you've finished the main Laws, and have begun going through the Line. I can trust you to go through the whole business of reading the History books and minor Laws on your own," said Severus Snape, pacing around the classroom in a bit of agitation.

This wasn't a literal classroom, it was actually one of three Study rooms in Grimmauld Place. But Severus had removed all the unnecessary furniture and now this place was set up like a lecture room, with two comfortable cushioned stools for Harry and Draco to sit on, two desks, and a stool for himself and Narcissa to sit upon while teaching. A blackboard at the front of the room brought Harry a feeling of curiosity. What would Severus be using that for?

Of the three Study rooms only one was still a study. The second study had been turned into a library for all of the books in the house, which had been scattered throughout the entire house in various rooms. No formal library had actually existed until then. Now there was a classroom, a full library, and a study whose function had yet to be decided, but was acting as a mail room. A bedroom had been cleaned out for each of them, and all the old battered furniture had disappeared somewhere, to be replaced with new posh furniture from Malfoy Manor. Most of the other free bedrooms had been set up as work rooms for various purposes, and two last bedrooms had been kept spare in the case that their Coven expanded.

Idgy the House Elf was a more pampered and adored servant than Kreacher had been, so she now had the entire sewing room to herself, with her basket bed in one corner and piles of blankets to keep her warm. There she did her sewing, knitting, and rested between chores. As for the basement Kreacher had once occupied, well, Severus had put his potion laboratory down there, and the parlours had been left as is for entertaining guests. One large sitting room had been emptied of all furniture and trappings, and was being converted into a sparring room, where Draco and Harry could learn duelling magic together. It had been chosen simply for the fact that there were no windows and the doors were solid wood, and not glass, so it could be very easily warded against mishaps. The only room that Harry was really curious about was the one that Narcissa and Severus wouldn't let them in to; it now mimicked the room back at the inn suite, with black walls, candles, crystals and incense. Harry guessed it help some sort of religious or ceremonial purpose.

Now he and Draco sat here, with Severus pacing in front of them restlessly. Narcissa had given her permission for Severus to supervise Draco while he studied for his testing, while she went to Knockturne Alley. Harry had opened a floo chimney for them, so now they could floo discreetly to locations which only they would know of, such as the old suite at the Serpent's Tail inn, or Malfoy Manor, but mostly Narcissa was just going to Knockturne for whatever purpose. She was blatantly ignoring the law about going out of House with her Apprentice, simply because Draco needed to study, and she needed to leave. She did not say why, and Draco did not share, so Harry's curiosity would have to be left unfulfilled.

"Today we will study the last of the Rule of Three, Life," Severus began, and sat down on his own stool at last. "Which is the easiest facet of the Rule of Three. Life, if you can believe it, is simply just that; Life. Our Magic, our Religious beliefs and our Culture. Life is living as a Dark One. But our traditions have a strong place in the ruling of our of lives, and so we study them intently when we consider the rule of Life. When your hair was cut, you were following a tradition which is considered to be an Oral tradition. It really isn't written down in very many places, and it's passed down from person to person. Today you'll be studying some of the traditions passed down. But understand that every piece of magic you do, every person you teach magic to, is a part of Life. The only way NOT to follow the Rule of Life is to die, or become a paralyzed emotional eunuch. So I'll simply allow you to work on your studies today as you will," he came over to Harry. "This afternoon I'll ask you to do a few things, and we'll go over some of the spells we've already done, but basically I want you to consider the Rule of Life as you go about your studies today."

Severus then assigned Harry yet another history text, and then went to see how far Draco was getting in his own bookwork, which was to study as much of the Rule of Three in preparation for his RTT as he could before Narcissa returned, as he could be continuing with his practical lessons this afternoon. Harry was anxious to catch up with Draco, so he poured into his studies on the Rule of Three, regardless of how boring it was.

"Harry," said Draco, looking up from his study as soon as Severus had left. "Will you help me prepare? It's all the same stuff you're learning, but I need to study, and you need to learn, and we can both do that if we go over the same texts together."

"Sounds like an idea," said Harry. "I do have to do this one today though..."

"So we'll start with that," said Draco. "I wouldn't want to get you into any trouble, but I just can't concentrate. I need to hear a voice to learn, and you need to read. So you read, and I'll listen."

Harry laughed, and soon they were deep within the Laws, mostly the Honor Laws, which bored them both, but which brought a few momentary humorous breaks.

"'Honor the Cat, for it has sharp claws?'" Harry laughed out loud when he read the law.

"Oh bother," said Draco. "I HATE honor laws! Forget them, most of those laws were invented and added to by Dark Ones over the ages. Lets do the Heritage Tree, that'll give us an excuse to fall asleep."

"Sleep?"

Draco smirked pointedly.

"The Heritage Tree is basically lists of families. A lexicon of Family Trees and how they tie together. You'll be able to look up the Potter Family Tree and all that if you like. On second thought, lets start with you, since I haven't actually seen your family line yet, and you probably haven't either."

Harry gulped, then went over to the door separating the classroom from the library. The Heritage Tree was a huge book that Harry threw onto his desk with a whump.

"Yeah," said Draco acridly. "Ugh, big books aren't fun to study."

"I've never seen so much boring text, it's just names!" Harry frowned.

"That's right," said Draco with an amused huff. "Each name will be color coded, black for dead people, big golden script for Dark Ones, tiny script for muggles, and such..."

"But how does the book get updated?"

"Protean charm," said Draco with a yawn. "When a Dark One is born, they're added, plus everybody related directly to them; parents sisters, brothers and first cousins. There aren't very many of these books around the world though, so we have to be careful with it. It's covered in protective charms! But isn't this exciting! I've never been able to actually read one!"

He was so excited, that Harry didn't think to protest that they hadn't actually been assigned the book yet, so shouldn't be touching it. But he found the Potter Family Tree quite interesting. Just like Narcissa had said, Dark Ones were born mostly amongst males amongst the Potters, a few females in earlier branches of the tree, but lately just males. Seeing the names of the lineage of his family brought a pang to his stomach. Dark Ones were labelled in gold text, and Harry found his own name with a pang. His parents were in black, both being dead, and neither of them were in swirly script, meaning that they weren't Dark Ones. Now why did that make him unhappy? It was interesting that muggleborns had smaller print for their names where they were mentioned at all, and they made up a huge bulk of Harry's cousins. But regardless of all those muggleborns, a firm line of pure blooded wizards could be seen going up Harry's fathers line. Harry followed that line up to his grandfather's family, and stared.

"Tom Riddle?" said Harry with a squeak, reading down the names of close relatives of his great grandfather with revulsion. "I'm related to Lord Voldemort?"

"I guess," said Draco with a hiss at the name. "A lot of families are co-related."

But Harry swallowed. Being related to Tom Riddle meant that he was also an heir of Salazar Slytherin, maybe the only one left.

Somehow, someway, without ever realizing it, we fulfill our destiny whether we want to or not.

"I want to see the Malfoy family tree!" said Draco brightly, and it was his turn to command the book.

But when he approached his own family line, his face paled, and he took a step back.

"No, it's...no..." he squawked, and fell on his butt on the ground.

Harry blinked, and bent down to see what Draco had seen. The Malfoy line was quite firmly wizard, with only a few muggleborn and squib cousins here and there. But it was Lucius Malfoy's name that caught his attention, in thick black text with the death sheen, and next to it...his brother...

"What do you think you're doing with that?"

Harry jumped back two feet, and then looked at Draco on the floor, who was trembling.

"I...wanted to study the Heritage Tree...I've never seen...all my family tree before," said Draco, explaining. "S..sorry!"

"You shouldn't have touched that!" shouted Severus. "It's a thousand years old! The damn preservation charms are on there for a reason! It could fall apart otherwise! You have your own book about the Malfoy Family Tree, that's all you should be studying!"

"But I don't!" Harry protested suddenly, wanting to defend the trembling boy. "I have no Potter Family Tree to study!"

Severus whirled angrily at Harry, then frowned, and Harry gave him a fierce look.

"If I hadn't seen this I probably wouldn't have known what I do," said Harry. "Tom Riddle was related to me. I AM Salazar Slytherin's heir, right?"

Severus breathed deeply, then picked up the book, closing it with a gentle motion.

"Yes, one of them," said Severus. "Now what that means exactly is nothing. Tom Riddle is dead, and that's the end of it," he returned the book to the library, and by the time he had come back, Harry had helped Draco onto a chair.

"Now, since you can't study with my Apprentice for an hour unsupervised without getting him into trouble, I'll ask you to study downstairs," Severus said to Draco, pointing to the door.

Draco gathered his books together, keeping his frightened ice blue eyes on Severus until he had at last skittered out of the door. He turned back to look at them then shot one parting remark.

"You can trust me," he said softly. "I won't get him into any more trouble...Uncle Sev..."

He fled, before Severus could so much as sputter a protest.


Chapter 23: Banana Nana!


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: definite SS/HP

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

Banana Nana!

Lunch was a subdued affair. Idgy had made them some very lovely vegetable stew, now getting used to the fact that she was cooking for a vegetarian as well. Bread and juice was plentiful, and so Harry sat chewing on a crusty piece of bread, his textbook propped up in front of him. Severus gave the book a surreptitious glance, but said nothing, focusing his attention on Draco, who was slumped slightly, stirring his stew with his spoon, and poking his own textbook away from him with a blearly look.

"I'm sorry," said Severus at once, breaking the silence. "For yelling at you boys. I..." he sighed, and rubbed his face with his hands. "I should probably tell you both the truth. Our library is more important than you can imagine. You see, ours may be the only library of texts dedicated to Dark Magic in all of Britain, maybe all the world."

Harry and Draco watched him as he walked around the table miserably.

"Around the world there's been this recent push to get rid of such libraries. Books have been burnt for having any mention of Dark Magic of any kind. The Heritage Tree that we have in the library, well, I stole that from Albus Dumbledore. It's the only copy in all of Europe, so you can imagine the true reason that the Ministry wants to get me behind bars. Rufus Scrimgour cares very little about bringing Dumbledore's killer to justice, he just wants to get his hands on the Heritage Tree, amongst other books I own that the Ministry of Magic doesn't want in the hands of Dark Ones."

Harry nodded softly, and Draco pointedly lifted his textbook off of the table with some care.

"Ah, I wouldn't let you have books at the table that were precious," said Severus with a tut. "I made study copies for the both of you of all the basic texts just for that purpose."

"Made?" Harry blinked.

"Created, with a spell. But it's only a spell, so they'll only last for a few months at most, so try and get as much study out of them as you can."

Harry nodded, then decidedly put his nose into his book, pushing a piece of bread around the bottom of his soup bowl to soak up the juices. It was around this time that Narcissa came in, and she looked like hell. Her hair was frizzy, she was covered in smoke and soot, and she has a distasteful look on her face.

"I just have to say, I hate the Ministry of Magic," said Narcissa with a huff. "I'll be upstairs bathing."

"Eat something first," said Severus pointedly, pointing to the chair next to him. "Better eat now, while the soup is still hot."

"Mmmm," she sat, and let him serve her some food.

"Did you take care of what you...left...to do?" asked Harry, not sure what it she had left for, but curious nonetheless.

"Yes and no," said Narcissa. "The Ministry of Magic decided that the only way to keep me from sneaking in and out of Malfoy Manor was to burn it down..." Draco stiffened in shock next to her, and she nodded grimly. "I just went crawling through ashes and soot looking for the remains of everything we hadn't yet brought over."

"Oh Cissa," said Severus, exhaling with an unhappy puff. "I assume you didn't find everything you were looking for?"

"None of the books survived," she said glumly. "I managed to bribe a Goblin into letting me into my Family vault and I had my gold converted to muggle pounds, since paper money is easier to carry around. I'll be opening a muggle bank account tomorrow. But I'm too drained for anything else today, and I miss my husband like hell."

Harry gave her a sympathetic look, then frowned.

"I think there's still some lemon cake in the pantry," he said gently. "We could have some..."

"Oh, I couldn't have anything sweet right now," said Narcissa. "But thank you for the offer. I'll be all right."

Draco got up to hug her, putting his arms around her neck, and Harry suddenly felt an overwhelming influx of disgust at what the Ministry of Magic had done. It may have been a big home, a rich home full of fancy things, but it was their home. His stomach burned with indignation. After dinner Narcissa went upstairs to bath and rest, leaving Draco to work on his own some more. But being filled with unease and frustration, Draco chose to spar with Severus in the duelling room instead, while Harry attempted some more Dark Magic. Harry was adept at using wards now, and had been moved on to some more complicated spells, which required keeping his mind focused on the task at hand. Severus deliberately brought him into the duel room with himself and Draco so that Harry would learn how to cast spells in the midst of other chaos.

"I am not getting this..." said Harry, staring at the circle of wax candles around him, and the crystal which he was trying to focus his energy on in order to train it to light candles upon touch.

It was daunting, a wand or his fingers, even wandless magic was easier then focusing a spell into a stone, with the understanding that the stone would do what it was trained to do once the spell was cast.

"Harry, don't think of impossibilities," said Severus impatiently, deflecting a hex back at Draco with a lazy flick; Draco was meant to break the very low level shields that Severus had placed around himself for protection. "You already know the way of it, you've done it with the wax unicorn, giving the unicorn the commands. This is just a little more complicated."

Harry sighed, and looked down at the crystal in his hands.

"I just don't see what the point is of having a crystal that lights candles. I can do that myself!"

"An arcane object can't be tracked," said Severus patiently. "The Ministry of Magic can track when you cast a spell, but an object that uses a set-spell isn't tracked. Very basic understanding, which is why arcane objects are considered illegal. The Ministry of Magic likes to control the populous."

Harry smiled ironically. Now that he knew the purpose, it was a lot more easier to concentrate on the stone. He focused his set of instructions upon the stone, and smiled when the stone started to glow.

"Good!" said Severus, as Draco flung another desperate spell at his shields. "Now see if it works."

"Okay," said Harry nervously, and touched the stone nervously to the first candle, which flickered to life. "Hooray!" Harry beamed, and lit all the candles with a touch of the stone.

"Excellent!" said Severus, then swore with a laugh as Draco finally penetrated his shields. "Good work both of you. Now Harry, that stone will retain the spell for a week maybe at best. When you are a little bit stronger, I'll teach you how to augment set spells, that is, add magic to an arcane object on a regular basis in order to extend its life."

Harry nodded, and lifted his head as the door to the duelling room opened, and Narcissa stepped in.

"So you did get your duel in?" she chuckled and went over to kiss Draco on the head. "I'm exhausted, but I can't hold it any longer. I have to let you see what else I did while I was away. Severus, if it would be all right, Harry can come with me downstairs to the parlour?"

"I'll be coming too!" said Draco with a pout. "Right?"

"Yes, I want to see this too, as we're done with practice for now."

Harry was highly curious, and pocketed the purple candle lighting crystal with a soft nod. He made sure to snuff the candles and put them away before following the others downstairs. It was important to clean up after a magical exercises, he discovered that after the unicorn exercise.

The parlour was lowly lit, and covered in various boxes and bags. Harry was momentarily confused, as most of the objects of the boxes looked very feminine, and Narcissa, though extravagant, held out right disdain for bright pastel colors and frilly laces. But then Harry suddenly realized what he was looking with, and fell to the ground in a slump.

"Oh," he said, squeaking.

"I wanted to get your Family Tree," said Narcissa gently, settling down onto her knees next to him. "But I discovered that Godric's Hollow has been abandoned for years after it was destroyed. All those old burnt timbers, the leaky roof, and nobody had ever gone into the house to collect what was left to store away for you one day! I felt rather angry, and knew I couldn't leave these things there anymore. I cleaned them up, and they're yours now so you should be able to have them."

Harry nodded, but tears were welling in his eyes. He was surrounded by baby furniture; a crib filled with stuffed animals and toys, a high chair and a playpen. Boxes of old photo albums, books and heirlooms were stacked up amongst them. One box had a collection of dolls in it, plainly his mothers, with chipped porcelain faces and faded silk and lace gowns. Some of his father's things were here; Quidditch trophies, an old Gryffindor pennant hanging over the edge of the box, more photo albums and books, a faded broomstick labelled simply as 'Nimbus 77'. Harry was going to touch the broomstick first, but something was drawing him to the dolls, and he lifted one, carefully arranging the lace dress around the doll's legs, and curling a rosy strand of hair between his fingers.

"I..."

Harry swallowed, thinking of how all his family heirlooms and belongings had just been left to weather in the rain and snow in an old abandoned house for years. He hurt, his chest heaved and he slumped over to a chair, holding the doll to his cheek in agony.

"Are...you glad I brought these here?" said Narcissa hesitantly. "I didn't want to hurt you, I thought, to make you happy...I..."

"No, I'm, thank you," Harry stuttered, and laughed. "I, thank you. I'm glad these things aren't just sitting around out in the old house anymore. I didn't know! I thought, I thought Godric's Hollow was still intact, just a house sitting empty the way Grimmauld Place had. I didn't realize it was...thank you. Thank you," he rose, and went over to hug her. "It was very nice of you."

She patted his head uncomfortably, and Harry went to go through the boxes, pulling out treasures with his fingers, and holding them to his face as if to breath in his family history. Draco sat with him, interjecting a bit of humor and happiness into the pained atmosphere. Severus laid a hand on Harry's shoulder, and he jumped.

"Do you want some privacy?" said Severus. "Some of these books are Dark texts, and I'd like to have them up under the protection spells in the library, if you'll let me."

"Of course, you're my Master, so you know best," Harry sniffed, as he lifted a teddy bear out of his childhood crib and pressed it against his chest. "...Nana...I remember!"

Severus was startled, and Draco's head snapped up from the photo album he was looking through.

"I remember, his name is Nana, like Banana," Harry choked down a chuckle. "Mum would sing this song, about a funny bear who slips on a banana peel, and I would say 'Nana'. I remember!"

Harry felt emotions overwhelming him as more childhood memories came back to him. His dad lifting him up into his arms, kissing his head, and dancing around the room with him. His Godfather, Sirius, coming by with Remus Lupin, the three of them all trying to make Harry laugh with goofy faces, but only making him cry because he just wanted to be fed. His mother singing to him, and putting his teddy bear in the crib with him.

"Harry!" said Severus suddenly, sounding concerned. "Are you all right?"

"Y-yeah," Harry sobbed. "I-I'm h-hap-py!" he bawled, and cuddled the bear to his chest.

"I think I'll go get some tea for us," said Draco uncomfortably. "Mum, where'd you go?"

Once they were alone together, Severus pushed the hair away from Harry's eyes.

"Are you sure you're all right?" said he, quirking his head sideways with a frown. "I don't want to leave you alone in this state."

"I'm fine," said Harry, bringing himself back to a sane frame of mind. "I've never had so many memories of my parents before. Ii...it must be true...that objects retain memories."

"More that they trigger memories," Severus gently corrected. "Especially if memories were being magically suppressed the way yours were, through your link to Voldemort, all the good memories were subdued. Now you're free."

"Yeah," said Harry. "I remember so much now. I'm not sure what to do with all these memories."

"Rest with them, I suppose," said Severus. "Just rest with them. I'll leave you alone then."

Harry nodded, and Severus slipped out of the parlour, leaving Harry to gently sing the banana bear song to his teddy bear.


Chapter 24: Billions Of Pretty Colors


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: definite SS/HP

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

Billions of Pretty Colors

Ron Weasley had been sick for many days, and nobody had been able to understand it. Furniture flew around the rooms, plates smashed, books ripped themselves to shreds, until finally they had moved him to St. Mungo's where Healers had been unable to make hide nor hair of his illness.

Now his Mother was leaning over his bed, wiping his head with a cool cloth, and shook her own head back and forth in concern over this strange fever that wasn't going away. Ron could see his Mother's eyes, crinkled in false tones of happiness. She was trying to smile and be loving for him, but she was quaking inside; St Mungo's didn't know what was wrong.

Guess I'm going to kick the bucket, thought Ron, feeling his insides reverberate.

Ron's mother left his bedside at last, and he was able to rest, deeply drawing in painful rattling breaths, his chest rising and falling in tune with his throbbing head. The fever quaked through his body again, causing him to pale; his freckles looked like measles on his skin. All the curtains pulled loose from around his bed and flapped around the room like batwings. His bedside table flew across the room and banged against the glass windows, charms that were barely keeping them from shattering shuddered under the weight. Objects were now flying around overhead, and Ron could hear the sound of frantic footsteps as green robed healers rushed into his room.

"Get him contained!"

"We're trying! I've never seen magic like this before!"

"Oh my dear heavenly God! Everyone get out of here now, RUN!"

That was the last thing Ron felt before his world shattered into a billion explosive colors. Silence. Sleep, and then, after a time, sensations. His skin tingled, and he opened his eyes.

Bloody hell!

Ron was lying in a ruin, the hospital room was blackened to a crisp, and all the furniture was fried into piles of hot gray ashes. He could feel the wards around him, the shiver of strong magical barriers keeping him in here, keeping him from escaping. His brain strained against the devastation around him, and he rose to his feet.

The fever complained, and his head pounded. He felt a chill, and rubbed his arms. No warming charms were being used in this room now; they weren't risking any magical interruption with the wards. He wasn't here to be healed anymore, they were simply keeping him contained.

What's wrong with me? he thought deliriously. My head hurts!

He slumped onto the floor, put his head between his knees, and cried. Pain shook through him, but he couldn't lie down, they hadn't even given him a blanket or a pillow.

"Mum..." he squeaked, wondering where she was. "Mum come back. I'm scared. Mum..."

Ron's mother was no where near. He could hear the hum of several voices outside the room. Cautiously Ron stood again and moved to the door. He could recognize the hospital staff outside his door beyond the window, bustling about in their green robes with clipboards in hand, but was that Kingsley Shacklebolt? Two other Aurors were there, and members of the Order of the Phoenix.

Bloody hell! What in blazes in going on?

Ron couldn't make hide nor hair of it. All he knew was that his mother was not with those outside the room.

She didn't get...hurt...when I did this...did she?

Ron remembered what the newspapers said about Harry, how he'd made a crater of his family's house. The bodies that were everywhere, and the total devastation.

But, nobody died here, they can't have! It's just a little crispy, is all! I didn't kill anybody! I didn't! Did I?

There was only one way to find out. He tapped on the glass, swaying and dizzy. Those behind the glass gave him a skittish glance, and took a step back. Kingsley took a pointed step forward to frown at Ron, but didn't open the door. It was sound proof glass; Ron couldn't hear anything beyond the door.

"Let me out!"

Nothing. No response. Ron shivered, and moved back to the center of the room, the fever causing him to tremble again. He was well aware that this fever was killing him, destroying his ability to control anything; his magic or his mind. Even the glass, dented but not shattered, was an accusation.

I have to get out of here! thought Ron, feeling his mind pounding against the wards involuntarily. Have to find mum...no! I have to find Harry!

Ron flung himself at the window, banged against it, and fell back into the ground sobbing.

N-no...no. I need to get OUT!

He tried again, and again, banging against the wall in maniacal terror. He was well aware that he was being watched through the glass, and he didn't care. He flung himself at the windows, and landed sobbing on the ground.

Fever wracked through his body. He knew he was going to lose it again, and who knows how much damage he would cause if he did. He had to leave! He decided to concentrate his efforts elsewhere, and closed his eyes to try and feel the magical wards containing him.

Fragile at best. Physical attack wouldn't work, but a magical assault might work. But his magic was unstable, he knew he couldn't direct it, not even to cast a simple alohamora. If he tried he could destroy himself at best, and half the hospital and its occupants at worse.

Nothing for it. Even now the terror was gripping him, leeching through his brain in violent spasms, threatening to shatter his sanity.

If I don't get out of here I COULD destroy this hospital! And Mum's here somewhere! I gotta get out!

Rom turned, and instead of throwing himself at the window he threw himself at the door instead. Everyone on the other side of the door backed away in fright, and Ron poured all his mind onto breaking the door, breaking the barrier.

Gotta...get...free!

The wards shattered, like glass, and the door blew outwards with a simple spasm of his brain. He screamed and people fled; well the Healers and patients did anyway. The Aurors pointed their wands at him, trying to contain him.

"Gotta get outta here...don't want to hurt...gotta leave...people here...too many...could kill...leave me alone..." he pushed at them with his mind, pushed their wands out of their hands and saw with satisfaction their wands fly away from them. He then took advantage of them retrieving their wands, breaking through the crowd and running down the hallways.

Janet Thickey Ward! I know where this is! Merlin, the emergency escape! I gotta get there!

Ron ran for the door, aware that people were getting in his way, and that he was throwing them out of his way with his mind, He burst through the metal doorway and practically flew down the metal steps and out onto the muggle street, where people were giving him strange looks.

Fever wracked through his body again, a delirium like nothing he had ever felt, and an automobile nearby flew across the street and straight through the window of a store. People screamed.

Gotta find help! thought Ron.

A sucking sound, a pop in his ears, and he apparated, falling forward into somebodies arms.

"I...what...who?"

He looked up into the bony face of Bellatrix Lestrange.

This is not what I would call help!

"What's this?" she said, laughing. "Have I caught a rabbit? But," she touched him on the cheek, and he shuddered. "Is that the Dark Sigil?"

"I dunno what you mean. Gotta go away..." Ron slurred his words, and tried to push away from her.

"Oh no no, little one, this will not due! Look at you, all a mess! Are those hospital robes? You look like you've just broken out of St. Mungos!"

"Did," said Ron with a laugh. "Gotta get help, gonna blow up...gotta..."

Fever wracked through him, and a street lamp nearby pulled out of the ground and flew down the street, only to hit a parked truck. Ron was suddenly afraid that somebody would get hurt if he didn't get help soon.

"I am help boy," said the woman boastfully. "Stand there," she said.

Ron stood, teetering, on the street. She looked him over, and sighed.

"No as much power as I would like in a Child, but you'll be easy enough to Control," and she put a cool fingertip to his forehead. "I'm your Mistress now boy, and you'll hearken to me if you ever want to have that Control for yourself."

At once Ron felt his powers being clamped under an arch of great power. Dizziness overcame him and he swayed sideways. She caught him with laughing ease.

"Ah child, now where to take you. Oh, well, I suppose I could try to impeach upon my Sister, but now that I think about it, isn't the Grimmauld Place near here?"

"Grimmauld Place?" said Ron with a squeak. "Harry, my friend. My friend there. Snape's got my friend there. I know Harry's innocent, good friend, Harry."

"You're feverish and delirious. But ah, you could be right! Snape might just be there! All right, I've made up my mind, lets go then, Child. We haven't got all day, and I'm about as good as healing a fever as a House Elf is good at leaving a spot of dirt on the floor. Well come along!"

Ron leaned on her shoulder, and dazedly walked beside her.

Safe for the moment, he decided. Damn rotten luck that it was Bellatrix Lestrange that found me. Damn rotten luck.

Dizziness overwhelmed him again and he clutched desperately at her arm. She just snorted, and strolled along the street at an unrepentant pace, as warm and as loving as a carved stone statue.

Fuck, Ron thought, as light refracted around his cornea and turned his vision rainbow. Just fuck!


Chapter 25: A Stormy Pot of Tea Brewing


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: definite SS/HP

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

A Stormy Pot of Tea Brewing

Harry was happily drinking his tea, and turning the pages of his family photo album, when the doorbell buzzed loudly, causing Mrs. Black's portrait to start screaming, and Severus to jerk awake in the chair in which he'd been napping.

"What in the bloody hell?" said Severus, jumping to his feet.

Draco and Narcissa were soon in the hallway with them, wands at the ready. Severus flung the door open, and there stood Bellatrix Lestrange. She was staring at them both, as impervious as a chipped stone sculpture, her hair tied back from her pale neck, her body wrapped in a soft woolly cloak.

"Well, invite me in!" she said to Severus in a snarl. "I haven't got all day!"

"I don't think I shall," said Severus grandly. "Certainly it is not my house to do so, nor am I Secret Keeper, a fact of which I am highly thankful."

"Bella?" Narcissa ignored Severus and pushed passed him. "What are you doing here? I thought you were staying with the Goyle's?"

"Bad company that," said Bellatrix Lestrange with a yawn. "I was just wandering around London deciding my options, and thought this would be a good place to go!"

"And who says I'll let you in?" Harry demanded, pushing passed Narcissa abruptly. "This is my house now! Just because Severus is my Master and Narcissa is his friend doesn't mean I have to let every rotten ex-Death Eater for miles around tromp through my door!"

"You can invite her in without adding her to the Secret Keeper spell," Narcissa said thickly. "Since she already knows of our location anyway, being a Black."

But Bellatrix was laughing, her head thrown back, and her voice shrill.

"Yes yes child! You tell me! You tell me off good! Yes, you ask me what reason I should let you in? I'll do better than telling you, I'll show you," she moved aside pointedly until she was no longer in his line of sight.

Harry blanched at seeing a tall lanky redhead that was standing behind her on the walk, barefoot and shivering in his pale blue hospital robes. His hair was scorched to black cinders, his skin was burnt in places, and he was shaking with the cold. Harry could plainly see the Dark Sigil, glowing like a demon's eye on his cheek, and squawked.

"Ron!" he rushed to his side, and the boy swayed. "Ron! What happened? Are you all right?"

"He's in no right condition to do any explaining," said Bellatrix Lestrange grandly. "Simply put, he is my Apprentice now, and if you bring him in, you'll have to let me in too."

Harry scowled at her, and lead his shivering friend to the doorway.

"Fine," he said thickly. "Fine!"

Bellatrix glided into the hallway smoothly, depositing her cloak with the rest on the coat rack by the door. Harry was soon joined by Draco, who took Ron's other arm and helped Harry lead him upstairs.

"Harry," Ron said in a pained slur. "You a Dark wizard now?"

"Something like that," said Harry.

"'m I one too?" he asked, as he tried not to trip over the steps he was being helped up.

"Yes," said Draco thickly, rolling his eyes. "Merlin Weasley! How the hell did you end up like this?"

Ron blinked at Draco, and Harry pushed open one of the guest bedroom doors with a grunt.

"Sorta blew up part of St. Mungo's," said the boy, choking as Draco help stripped him out of the hospital gown and into some pyjamas. "Just m'room, but lotsa black stuff, Aurors, and all..."

"Sounds like you've really been through something," said Harry, feeling his chest panging at seeing the fevered boy lying on the bed.

It wasn't long before Ron was sleeping, and Harry left his side with poignant reluctance. He had to find out what had happened, and that meant talking to Bellatrix Lestrange.

She was sitting in the parlour having tea with Narcissa, Severus giving her a scowl of distaste as the two women pattered on about every sort of nonsense. Harry got the direct feeling that Severus didn't like Bellatrix either, and felt almost grateful about it.

"So," said Harry, coming in, hands on hips. "I'm not going to bother about pleasantries. What happened?"

Bellatrix, rather than being offended, cast Harry with a becoming smile.

"Oh, it was really quite humorous. I came to London looking for an opportunity, and this boy just apparated right in front of me. Made a mess of the street, and I could feel that he was not Controlled. I put him under my Control, as our Law dictates, and brought him here. What happened before that? Well, you probably know more than I. He escaped from St. Mungo's I assume, when they put him in there for being one of us, or perhaps for causing the damage that resulted because of his being one of us? Whatever the case, he has a fever that I wasn't able to read very clearly from him on the street. Severus, you are a better Healer than I, perhaps you might be willing to have a look at him?"

Bellatrix was being very polite, and Harry vaguely felt suspicious.

"Bella," said Severus smoothly, gliding over to her with a frown. "I don't believe that you are here on a pleasure jaunt. Why did you come to London?"

Bellatrix stiffened, and her eyes turned a dark color.

"To find your Coven of course," said Bellatrix at last. "Very few of us meet any longer, and I needed to be with my sister. I have an unfortunate predicament you see," she leant back, chin held up, and Harry could suddenly see that she too, like Idgy the House Elf, was pregnant, though not as far along as the round House Elf, as her belly was just a little bit round.

"Oh heavens!" said Narcissa. "Rudolphus...?"

"No," said Bellatrix thickly. "He couldn't have gotten even a muggle woman with child. No, no it was Fenrir Greyback. Nasty whelp grabbed me when I was out drinking, randy as any mutt in the heat he was, and heck, a man doesn't come after this woman's body very often, so how could I say no? He even threatened to bite me if I didn't! The scamp! Skillful scamp, but scamp nonetheless!"

Harry wrinkled his nose in disgust at the description of her seduction. Bellatrix Lestrange wasn't exactly a charmer; she had a chunk of her nose missing and had a body that was all but wasted to naught from her time in Azkaban. Granted, Fenrir Greyback was a nasty character himself, it rather didn't surprise him in the least that the two had spawned.

"But, the lycanthropy!" said Narcissa frightened.

"I'm not infected," said Bellatrix keenly. "I thought Severus might find it useful in his research to learn that a woman is protected from such magical diseases entering her womb. Being that I need a Healer, I thought we could have an exchange...?"

Severus blinked.

"You want me to abort the child," said Severus, plainly disgusted.

Bellatrix scowled, and didn't say nothing. Harry was appalled.

"But Bella, you mustn't!" said Narcissa. "You've always wanted sons!"

"Not half-breeds," said she acridly. "Certainly not a part-human bastard with no more regal genes in his blood than..."

"I could cure him," Severus interrupted her spiel before it could get any foothold. "Or her, whatever gender your baby is. I could cure him. Quite easily since it is in the womb. I've already done it once with Draco, when he was infected."

She looked at him in shock, then at Draco, and back at Severus again. Then her eyes came together questioningly.

"And what would you...want in return?" she asked suspiciously. "For giving me a healthy baby, for I'm too old now to just abort any fetus without due consideration..."

"What I would want," said Severus formally, sitting primly in the chair across from her. "Would be simple," Severus turned to look at Harry. "Equal exchange. You would, simply put, become a part of the Coven, which means you would protect, yes protect, my Apprentice," he lifted his hand, and Harry came smoothly to his side. "And all the members of this coven as well. You are a strong duellist, and we'll come up against much opposition in future I'm sure. You and your Apprentice can stay here, be a part of our group, and aye, make use of our resources and my Healing abilities. But in exchange you must make a similar exchange of resources. Any arcane books you have that can be had for adding to our library would also be most welcome. Well? What do you say? Full exchange?"

Bellatrix was shocked. She looked at Harry for a moment, then smiled a smile that reminded Harry vaguely of Mrs. Black's portrait on the wall.

"Very well," she said. "Full exchange."

She and Severus shook hands. Then she took Narcissa's hand, then Draco's. Harry scowled at her, but she bent down before he could say anything, and kissed him on the forehead.

"Now then," she said sweetly. "Some tea, and Draco and Harry can go help Severus take care of my youngling so that we can talk in privacy Cissa."

Severus left the room, and motioned for Harry and Draco to follow. Harry didn't like it. He didn't like it at all. But he didn't have any choice, and for Ron's sake he wouldn't disobey. He had a feeling that disobeying his Master at this point would end up with his hide being blasted through a wall. The look on his face face was that completely unpleasant, and when he barked for Harry to get his healing supplies from the bathroom, Harry rushed to comply.


Chapter 26: Follow The Butterflies


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: definite SS/HP

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

Follow the Butterflies

Severus bent over Ron's waxen face with a look of concern.

"S-Snape?" Ron squeaked, and mewled and tried to shuffle off the bed.

"Don't move," said Severus gently. "You have a fever, and I'm going to heal you."

"N-no, not S-Snape," said Ron meekly, trying to pull away.

After a few attempts to get the boy to comply, Severus threw his hands up in exasperation. Harry couldn't blame him for being in a temper, but he felt too scared for Ron to say anything.

"It's no use trying to heal this boy if he doesn't trust me, I can't get in his head if he's blocking me, and I won't force his barricades down."

"D-do you want me to fetch his Mistress?" Draco asked in a scared voice.

"Not on your life," Severus sneered. "She'd just bully him into obeying me, and that's not how I want to establish trust..." Severus paused, scratching his chin. "Harry, you stay here and speak with Ron, I'm going to brew some potions I'm going to need. Maybe you can convince him that it'll be all right. Draco, come with me."

Draco jumped to comply, and Harry was left alone with Ron.

"Harry," Ron looked glum. "We're in the House of Snakes..."

Oh boy, he's delirious!

"Ron, you have to trust Severus," Harry coughed. "He's my Master, and he's been treating me kindly."

"He killed Dumbledore Harry."

"I know," Harry swallowed. "We've come to an understanding about that, and I'm no longer holding it against him. He's protected me, and he's kept me in Control. I..." Harry bent his head. "Ron, what happened to you today, was just what happened to me. I lost Control, and my Dark Magic awakened," Harry looked at the boy on the bed. His eyes were sunken and glazed over; was he listening to even a word Harry said? "Severus found me, and he kept me from doing anymore destruction. Just like you. Now I'm learning how to Control that power, and use it properly, for good. My good and for other people's good."

It stretched the truth a little, but if this was how Ron would come to grips with his own power, Harry would use it.

"I don't understand," said Ron glumly. "I don't want to be a dark wizard!"

Harry decided to tell Ron from the very beginning what had happened to him, about the Dark Talent and what it truly was, not evil, just Arcane.

I vow when I write my book I'll replace the word Dark for Arcane. Maybe we'll be able to get respect if we drop that danged word!

"I don't know Harry," said Ron, slurring his words.

"Just trust me enough to know that Severus isn't going to hurt you," Harry soothed Ron quietly. "He's going to heal you. He promised your Mistress."

"Don't like Bellatrix Lestrange," said Ron sleepily. "Nope."

Harry sighed, and rubbed his face. How could he tell Ron that he would be stuck with Bellatrix Lestrange for a good long time? Ron was just too ill, shaking and shivering, giving Harry helpless looks.

"Ron, I won't let Bellatrix hurt you, if I have to teach you myself so that you'll learn proper Control I will, though I'm only a Junior Apprentice. 'Course I'll be taking my tests soon. Draco, the lucky devil, gets his tests tomorrow!"

Ron was looking at Harry as if he had three heads, and Harry could understand why; Harry was jealous of Draco having to take a test. This did not compute with Rom.

"It's the test an Apprentice takes to move up in ranks," said Harry. "Draco will be a Senior Apprentice when he passes. After Senior Apprenticeship is the Journeyman level, then the Mastery."

At least Ron was listening with some interest now, and when Severus returned he took the potion offered to him with only minor reluctance, asking what it was directly before swallowing it.

"Good," said Severus. "Now then, Ron, your Mistress has agreed to turn Control of you over to since she would not be able to properly teach you in her, ah, condition," Severus stood. "In return for allowing me to take you as a second Apprentice, I have agreed to running some errands for her which would be quite tricky for her to accomplish. Which means I'll be away from the house for a few days."

"You're taking Ron as an Apprentice? But I thought that wasn't allowed!" Harry stated with shock.

Draco looked murderous for some reason, but Severus simply nodded.

"Not usually, and I wouldn't dare in any other circumstance," said Severus. "But there are a few Mastery Laws that allow it in extreme circumstances, and this is one of them. Bellatrix cannot teach magic and have Control over another at the same time as maintaining her pregnancy. It is too taxing. She would be expending too much of herself, and putting her baby at risk. Quite put, Ron is not magically powerful enough to cause trouble to our bond, and you'll be out of your Junior Apprenticeship quite soon I'm sure," Severus smirked at Harry pointedly. "I won't do it if you disagree, however. I wouldn't want to imposition you, or spread myself thin between you at your own expense. Between you, Narcissa and Draco to help I'm sure that won't be a problem. And if the opportunity arrives for him to have a different Master, then I shall transfer him willingly. Bellatrix and I are well aware of the laws involving the switching and transferring of Apprentices, being that this is similar to what happened to me."

Harry turned to look at Ron, once again asleep on the bed, his face pale with his sickness.

"All right," said Harry, feeling relieved. "Anything to help Ron. I'd rather that his Master was you then her anyway."

"Technically I won't take control of him until he's well again. He's too sick right now to risk the shock that the transfer would bring. You'll be out of your Junior level by then I'm sure, and you'll be able to help him with his studies."

"I'll help too," said Draco sulking. "I just, I don't like it, you taking a second one!"

Severus turned to look at Draco's misty eyes with some understanding.

"Because it isn't you?" Severus smiled. "You have a Mistress who loves you already, so don't feel so sad. Worse would be that Ron would end up with a Master or Mistress like I had," Severus shivered softly, eyes misting briefly, before he retained his composure. "Now, Harry needs a lot more study of the Mastery Laws then he's letting on, and you have your test tomorrow, so you'd better go study together and let Ron rest."

Draco jumped to comply, and Harry patted Ron gently on his hand before rising. Severus turned to look at the sleeping boy, then back at Harry, before walking with Harry out of the bedroom and closing the door softly behind him.

"Severus...," Harry frowned. "Where are you going? Where is she sending you?"

"Out to the werewolf Colonies on Juneau Island," Severus said wryly. "I have to deliver message of Bellatrix's pregnancy to Fenrir Greyback, as he'll have partial Control over the child at it's birth unless he's willing to release custody."

"But why?" Harry squeaked. "Couldn't you send an owl instead?"

Severus sighed.

"Not exactly. And well," Severus grimaced. "I might be able to do a lot more good on Juneau than you can imagine. I might just try my new wolfsbane serum while I'm there, perhaps cure those poor people. And..." he took a deep breath. "I'm going to try and find Remus Lupin, is what I'm going to try and do. He's somewhere on Juneau, and this may be my only chance to find him, and maybe save him from becoming as much of an animal as Fenrir Grayback. He's a Dark One like us, Harry, and if I can bring him back here, he might do for a Master for Ron. I'm sure Ron would be more willing to have Remus Lupin as his Master then I, but our laws forbid werewolves from taken an Apprentice who isn't also a Dark One...Remus's own Master was Fenrir Greyback. Now you understand why he left the Order?"

Harry nodded, but he felt his eyes blur, and grasped Severus around the waist.

"You'll come back, won't you?" Harry said, breathing harshly, not understanding why his chest was hurting.

"I will," said Severus tenderly. "You have my word."

Severus bent down suddenly with a quick motion and kissed him. A soft press of their lips together, like a butterfly landing on a flower. It was over in less than a heartbeat, leaving Harry with a fluttery feeling in his chest and astonishment in his eyes.

"Narcissa will be helping you study while I'm gone, and you'll be tested when I return," said Severus pointedly. "Look after Draco and Ron, Harry, and be careful."

Severus then went down to his laboratory to pack, and Harry leaned against the wallpaper with a shiver, feeling both a stirring warmth and a numb pain filling him in a single breath.


Chapter 27: Even Werewolves Share Their Fleas


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: definite SS/HP

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6, on Harry's birthday.

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

Even Werewolves Share Their Fleas

Remus Lupin rolled over with a smile, the itchy scent of pine needles and grass meeting his nose. Above him the tree he had slept under that night seemed to be laughing with strange understanding at his predicament. For predicament it was indeed; the blanket was now littered with pine needles, which made rolling over a touchy business. But he couldn't stand up to shake out the blanket until Fenrir Grayback moved. Which would require waking him up from his snoring slumber, and Remus wasn't ready to do that.

Grayback lay on his side, thick pink tongue lolling out of his mouth in a canine gesture that was so endearing that Remus forgot, just for a moment, what a ruthless and merciless killer the man was. Grayback's eyes were closed, his chin speckled with gray stubble and his hair was a wild tangled mess. Pine needles clung to his damp sweaty skin and he had the beginnings of a nosebleed starting to peek its way out of one nostril.

He gets those bleeds sometimes, from the alfalfa allergy, and he likes to roll in the stuff, Remus chuckled softly, and bent forward to push a lock of thick dirty gray hair from the man's face. So innocent in his sleep. No different then when Sirius used to...

Remus swallowed a pang of regret then sat up and shielded his eyes from the morning sun. Here on Juneau Island there were no buildings or real shelters, just these soft cosy dugouts beneath the pine trees, and some were no more than a blanket thrown into the best available space for sleep. Werewolves could live here in peace, hunt the wild game and transform into their werewolf body, without fearing they would accidentally kill a human being in the process. It had once been a Ministry facility, meaning that werewolves living on the Island usually had to subject themselves to Ministry control.

Buy when Fenrir Grayback had come to Juneau Island he had changed everything, taking control of the entire colony and exercising his particular form of authority over the locals. Now nothing short of the fear of death would convince any Ministry employee to so much as step foot on the island. It now belonged to Grayback, his own personal stomping ground.

"Remus, you look thoughtful," Grayback had woken while Remus had been brooding. "A knut for your thoughts my prodigal child?"

Remus swallowed an ache in his chest as the naked man rose up and grasped the branch overhead to stretch, his belly going firm and taught momentarily, then sinking into more baby soft roundness as the man found his foothold on the soft ground again. If Grayback hadn't been a homicidal maniac with cannibalistic tendencies Remus might have found him attractive. He was actually clean of all bloodstains today, and somehow Remus had convinced him to clip his yellow nails, though he couldn't remember when that might have been. In short Grayback was looking more human than he had in years.

"Why do I always end up with you after a full moon?" Remus chirped, raising his dirty blond eyebrows in question. "I'm sure there must be a trick to it."

"Certainly," Grayback's thick tongue rolled out as he laughed. "I'm your Master, well, I was your Master. Our werewolf halves trust one another enough to sleep together."

"Yes, I suppose," Remus turned his head pointedly and watched as other werewolf pairs started to rise beneath the cover of trees, most of them in the nude as Remus and Grayback were.

"You want to know why else we always end up together?" Grayback said, his voice suddenly becoming low and husky.

"Well..." Remus stiffened when two bare arms suddenly wrapped around his wait to cup his belly.

"It's getting close to Mating Season," Grayback purred, a soft sound that could have melted all the snow off the trees if it had been winter. "You can't argue that we're undeniably attracted to one another."

"Fuck off," Remus said casually, pulling the hands up to his chest, if only to keep them from touching his private parts. "You know I have no interest in anybody who bites little children for fun."

"Hmmm?" Grayback seemed to stiffened the slightest bit at that. "I'd rather 'fuck on'," he pressed his bare groin against Remus' backside pointedly. "Wouldn't you?"

"I..." Remus felt all the wind leave his chest in a gasp. Lips were now on his neck, teasing, teaching, finding pressure points. "No...Grayback stop!"

"You call me Fenrir and then we'll talk," the werewolf gave a dopey half-chuckle and his hands snaked back down to Remus' belly again. "A werewolf can't stay alone forever, Remus. Half the colony has permanent mates now save you. You, who would rather dress up in clothes and go teach humans how to get rid of boggarts."

"Don't remind me," Remus muttered, trying unsuccessfully to pull away; he ended up face to face with the other werewolf instead. "I never want to see that damned school and its damned students ever again. I've hurt enough."

"You lost your first love," Grayback continued slowly. "Tragic. But you'll never have to go back to that place again. You'll never be rejected again, Remus. I'll protect you. I'll care for you. It is your nature to want to mate with another werewolf, and Sirius Black was the closest thing to another werewolf in the human world that you could find. You want completion and I can give it to you."

Remus was finding it very hard to argue with that cold logic. Now Grayback's hands were doing a tap dance on his spinal cord that would have turned even the hardest of men to pure jelly. It was a lost cause to begin with, and he found himself being pulled towards the blanket again, while lips were doing interesting and provocative things to his Adam's apple. It had been nearly an age since anybody had kissed his throat that way.

NO...I can't! He's a cannibal! He's evil! He's...oh god, kissing me THERE!

All the wildly protesting voices in his head were muffled under the sounds of his own panting, mixed with the warm and articulate chuckles of his counterpart.

Finding completion couldn't be any sweeter.


Chapter 28: Rumours of A Full Moon Rite


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: definite SS/HP, FG/RL, possible DM/RW

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

-Rumours of A Full Moon Rite-

Severus Snape was quite nervous. He had left two days after the full moon. He had brought as little as possible; werewolves frowned on technology. He observed all the customs required for entering Juneau, meeting with the mainland informants of Fenrir Grayback and waiting for their return before boarding the ferry to Juneau. He had waited at the port of Juneau for one of Grayback's aids to make contact with him, and allowed them to lead him to the location of Grayback's colony blindfolded.

For all I know they could be leading me like a pig to a roast...

Now he waited in a little dugout shelter under the ancient boughs of a great conifer, werewolf sentries all around them, their bare bodies and flesh giving Severus a clue as to just how much they preferred to live as werewolves. Some were truly naked, others wore garments, still others had glasses and shoes, but most did not.

It is the ones with shoes and glasses who will be the first. I'm sure they'll want humanity back they'd be willing to submit to anything. Not all of them are Dark Ones, but the Werewolf curse makes them our Kin. Like in power and like in heart. I must approach this cautiously.

At last Fenrir Grayback himself came, tall and naked and as proud as a male buck holding himself up high as if he had a rack of antlers on his head that none other could match in size and stature. Something had to be said for the purely physical ranking system of werewolves; Fenrir Grayback was hung like a horse.

I should not have kissed Harry before leaving, I should not have kissed Harry before leaving, I should not have kissed Harry before leaving...

Grayback did not speak, but there was no need to speak, for the crowd parted a second time and another person stepped through, to stand at Grayback's side.

Remus Lupin. Who had a look in his eyes of pure torment. Severus took a quick second to examine in every detail of the man's appearance. He was bare save for pants, but no shoes or socks, no shirt, no other token of modesty on his body. His chest was covered in scars, long stripes that indicated a fight or some entanglement. But what astonished Severus most was the marking on his left hipbone, the same marking that Grayback proudly boasted upon his right; they were mated, permanently, in the manner of werewolves.

"Ah, Severus Snape, little wizardling alchemist, tell me my friend, what would be so important as to bring a non-wolf out into our part of the woods?"

Fenrir Grayback's voice was droll, but cautioning; clearly he didn't like that Severus was here, but he was also highly curious.

"I have many reasons for which I have come, foremost to fulfil an oath I made to Bellatrix Lestrange..."

"Lestrange?" Grayback sneered. "Whatever would that flea ridden bitch want with me?"

"She is with child," Severus stated simply. "And requests Control, in the manner of all Dark Ones whose children are under questionable parentage. Her unborn child is not of the werewolf gene and will be born human. I have already ascertained this personally."

No need to tell him of the child's original gene defect, he might take offence to my genetic meddling...

"Ah, I see," Grayback's voice was nervous and hesitant, and it was no wonder for his new mate was frowning pensively; clearly he had not known his mate had been with a woman. "She shall have her Control. Have her bring the born child to me after a Full Moon and I will release them both from me. Now you said you have other news?"

"I do," Severus swallowed. He had to put this very carefully, start from the very bottom of the cup and work his way up, or he could do offence to the man. "Another Wild Talent has arisen again at last."

"A...Wild Talent?"

Now Grayback looked intrigued. He folded himself down on the grass casually, which was the signal for the rest of his tribe to gather around in a circle with him. Remus settled down next to him, pressing his head against the man's shoulder.

"Yes, my soul mate, and Apprentice, Harry Potter," Severus let the name sink in, watching as Remus visibly flinched.

"Harry Potter," Grayback sneered. "He has caused more trouble to the Dark Ones than he's worth one way or another."

"It has changed," Severus stated grandly. "The world is not always so black and white. Harry Potter is now a Dark One and one of us. Harry Potter and myself, Narcissa Malfoy and her son Draco, Bellatrix Lestrange and her child, and a young newly woken Dark One named Ron Weasley, have formed a Coven in London. But the fact of the matter is, Harry is a Wild Talent. He cured me of a severe spinal disfiguring without even knowing he was doing it. He could very well be the next Chosen One and if that is so then the Dark Ones must be ready to gather at Stone Henge. He is nearing Senior Apprentice rank as we speak."

A murmuring hush of awe fell over the crowd. It was no secret that the succession of the Chosen Ones was a point of much controversy amongst all Dark Ones. Now a new Chosen One could be ascending, and if that was so an era of either peace or war was about to begin.

"But we of the werewolf kind cannot meet at Stone Henge at the full moon as our kind once did," Grayback said reluctantly. "How could we take part in the ceremony?"

"I might have...found the answer to that..." Severus said gently.

"Not another potion," Grayback hissed. "Our people..."

"No, not a potion," Severus interrupted quickly. "I am relieved to say that there would be no need of a potion. What I propose to offer you, or to those who are willing to try, is complete Control over the transformation, through Wild Magic."

"What?" it was Remus Lupin's turn to sit up. "How do you mean to do this?"

"To start at the beginning," Severus sat up, choosing his words carefully, "Draco Malfoy was bitten by Bill Weasley during an attack on him and his mother by the Order of the Phoenix. Bill Weasley was only partly a werewolf, so the contamination was not as severe for Draco. I used Wild Magic, with his permission, to attempt to remove the light magical contamination."

"And you were successful?" Grayback looked surprised, and suspicious.

Severus nodded. "Simply put, I can externally take Control another werewolf's lycanthropy now, and I can give full Control over of it to them. It is not something that can be removed," he added this cautiously. "It is a Talent, like all others, so it is something that can be put under control. You would be able to transform with the full awareness of who you are, at the very least, and perhaps even able to transform on nights other than full moons, under your own will. Whether there would be more benefits of this would take some research."

"What do you propose then," said Grayback softly, looking as if he was outright disgusted by all of this, and Severus knew why.

"I propose to stay for a few days, no more than that," Severus stood. "Any who wish to allow me to use my newly Controlled ability to give them Mastery of their lycanthropy can come to me. It would give those who wish to return to the mainland for the Ascension of the Moon Ceremony to do so..."

"If Harry Potter really IS the Chosen One..." Grayback sneered.

"Well lets look at the fact, Fenrir," Remus said, raising a gentle hand. "Our first Dark Lord, Albus Dumbledore, is risen to rank. Although he rejected his followers, he did name the next False One, the one who others would be deceived into believing is the Chosen One..."

"Lord Voldemort," Severus cut in carefully. "And Harry Potter was Chosen by Voldemort, in point, as his equal, not realizing that he was naming a potential Chosen One as well..."

"Albus Dumbledore, the Lord who rejected his people, was killed by the lover of the next Chosen One..."

"And Harry Potter has Defeated the False One, making him the only Dark One with Wild Talent currently in existence on the continent, much less the entire globe."

"It has been happening," piped in another younger werewolf, looking highly excited. "Dark Ones have been coming into their magic explosively across the world! A Turning of an Age is coming! It was in the newspapers, one boy blasted his way out of St. Mungos.!"

"That boy is now a part of our Coven," Severus ended formally. "But regardless of which the werewolves must be ready!"

"We will not be deceived by another False One," Grayback said acridly, cutting through the noise like a knife and bringing silence. "The werewolves only serve the Chosen One, and no other. We will not all give ourselves over to Potter. Not until we see it for ourselves."

"What then will you have us do?" Remus stood suddenly. "Wait until the Moon Ascension Ceremony has passed, wait until our time to regain our Honour has all but faded?"

"No love," Grayback put a hand up to take Remus by the wrist gently. "We will have to see for ourselves this Chosen one. Severus Snape, you may stay here and perform your experiment on those who are willing to undergo it, and we will see whether your claims are true. If they are true, and only if they are true, we will make a decision. More so, you will return to us in a fortnight after the moon has again so that we will be able to make the judgement, if your magic helped us or hurt us. If it hurt us, you will have to respect our judgment as to how to proceed..."

"You wouldn't hurt him..." Remus said looking over at Severus in despair.

"No love..." Grayback soothed. "He had caused us too much pain and trouble with his experiments. If this does not work, if his experiment fails, I will personally make him one of us. And end to his machinations."

Severus shivered, feeling his blood racing in his veins. Nothing had ever caused him more fear growing up as a child than werewolves. As an adult his only purpose in studying werewolves was to be rid of that fear once and for all. Now he swallowed.

"I accept your terms. I will performs my experiments on those who are willing, and return in a fortnight to see the results of the experiment."

"Very well," Grayback nodded his head. "I shall retire for the evening, you may make your camp here under this tree, these woods are safe and none will disturb you. When rain falls we seek shelter of the caves to the west. I wish you a pleasant night."

As one the werewolves all rose to their feet unsteadily. Severus watched the less clad ones filter away from the trees, but those in clothes lingered, just as Severus had predicted would happened. Remus lingered for a moment, giving Severus a soft nod of understanding, before turning and following his mate away from the tree. In his place a woman strode forward, wearing full robes, her hair tied up under a pointed witches hat, glasses on her head and shoes on her feet.

"I will be willing to undergo your experiment," said the woman fiercely. "I am not afraid."

"You don't have to be," Severus chuckled bemusedly. "But you will have to undress, I'm afraid."

A nervous twittering spread through the group, and several of the nearest werewolves started to strip, the woman reluctantly removing her hat and outer robes.

Hmmmm, this could be easier than I thought...


Chapter 29: Whine, Complain, Grumble


Rating: M just in case

Pairing: definite SS/HP, FG/RL, possible DM/RW

Warnings: Death, violence, dark magical stuff, and HALF-BLOOD PRINCE SPOILERS. Takes place right after book 6

Summary: Harry wakes one day surrounded by a pile of rubble and the bodies of the Dursleys, and a strange mark on his cheek. Now he's running from the law and rubbing elbows with Dark wizards. But what is Severus Snape following him for?

Disclaimer: All chars belong to JKR not me. See my personal bio page for this stories summary.

-Whine, Complain, Grumble-

Harry lifted his head from his studying with an absent sort of nod as Narcissa briefly came into the study room to grab a book and left. Currently she was in the study downstairs with Draco, who was undergoing his testing. Harry was alarmed at how long the test was taking, and how many times Narcissa had come in to find some book. He was finding his own studies starting to pall under the itchy nervousness of waiting to learn Draco's exam results.

Next to him, head slumped slightly and a book open in his hands, was Ron. Although he was looking better today, Narcissa had still warned Harry not to let the boy out of his sight. She had instructed him to keep him bundled in blankets and warm. Bellatrix had given Narcissa permission to tutor Ron, which brought the realization to Harry that permissions of another Master teaching an Apprentice had to be given magically as well as verbally, otherwise it wouldn't have mattered, he was sure. Ron, however, didn't seem to care one bit about the text in front of him, which was the History of Law. He yawned miserably from time to time, slumping tiredly and shaking his head.

"You know mate," Ron started, eyes looking bleary. "I guess I understand a little now why I have to learn this stuff, but it's a sight bit less boring than History of Magic. I hate studying."

"Get used to it, Ron," Harry chuckled, glad to see a spark of understanding starting to light a little flame in Ron's eyes. "A LOT of the Junior Apprenticeship is just studying."

Ron groaned miserably.

"You're like me," cut in a rather lofty voice from the doorway. "You would rather go out and cast magic spells or get knee deep into action than study books for hours on end. Very suitable apprentice for me..."

Bellatrix Lestrange laughed at the look of disgust Ron gave her, and she sat down next to him uninvited.

"You are suitable, but I cannot continue to Control you for very long. My child must come before you, you understand. A shame really..."

"A shame for you, maybe," Ron grumbled. "I'm not studying these books cause I believe in all this Dark Magic nonsense, or out of any sense of loyalty to you people," he ground this out acridly, and shifted the boy into a more comfortable spot on his lap. "I'm doing it because I don't want go off again and maybe hurt or kill somebody. Mum had a saying, if you don't learn how to cook you could burn the house down. It's true."

Bellatrix grinned fully, eyes dancing with mirth.

"Blunt, but true. You, my child, are a lit match, and if either myself or Severus dropped Control of you you'd set anything you touched to flame. Now," she turned to Harry. "As Narcissa is not here, and I am too drained from my pregnancy, perhaps you could assist me in teaching the Life spell to him?"

Both boys gave her a look of incredulous astonishment, and she snorted.

"Well? What did you expect?" she looked at Ron firmly. "That I would just let you off the hook? I'm still your Mistress, if only for a short time, and our Laws clearly state that I must teach you, never to stop in your training until you are under your own Control. I shall follow the Laws, for this is all I have left to lay my energies upon."

"All right," Harry said thickly. "I'll help you teach Ron. Anything else?"

"Yes," Bellatrix said with a touch of honeyed venom to her voice. "I would prefer not to have to sleep with the boy in my room. Perhaps he could sleep with you until your Master returns?"

Harry stiffened. This did go against the Laws, but he was more than all glad to keep Ron away from her.

"Very well, on the condition that you discuss any further sleeping arrangement with Severus when he returns."

"Done, now, how about we start with something simple," she gave Harry a look that reminded him very pointedly of Severus before he was about to say something interesting. "Might you, by chance, have any wax?"

Harry was about to respond when Narcissa came in, a look of happy exhaustion in her face.

"How goes the testing, my sister?" Bellatrix asked with a warm chuckle.

"Very well," said the woman. "He'll soon be finishing the first half of the test and ready for the lunch break."

"How long exactly is the test?" Harry asked, miserably.

"It depends on each Apprentice and their Master, really," Narcissa said honestly. "Of course a portion of the test is standardized, but each Master has their own way of administering it."

"Bloody hell, just what I don't need," Ron suddenly said, slumping his head sideways.

"At least it isn't NEWTS," Bellatrix said acridly. "Much more difficult, those are, shame you won't be able to Graduate from Hogwarts..."

Ron gave her an acidic glare but she just smiled and rose to follow her sister out of the room, in search of some wax.

"Bloody woman," Ron said hotly. "Just can't keep her nose out of peoples business, gotta say something nasty and stuff all the time..."

"Yeah," Harry agreed. "Don't worry about it Ron. We should try to just get along, at least until Severus comes back."

"Why should I?" Ron asked, sulkily. "You know I meant it, I'm only doing this so I don't hurt people..."

"Because," Harry said, rubbing his eyes tiredly. "We're all stuck in this house together. It's less stressful and less pressure to just do our best with people. Fighting will make it unpleasant, and as Junior Apprentices we can't just leave the house and go for a walk, not with the Ministry searching for us night and day."

Ron gave a sock choking sound of complaint, which turned into coughing, and Harry spent the next few minutes making sure he was bundled up warmly, and not needing to go back to bed.

"I'm fine mate," Ron mumbled.

"Well," Harry swallowed. "Bellatrix doesn't seem to be coming back. How about...I know..."

Harry went to the shelf to get his, Severus's, copy of the Forrest Dwellers to hand to Ron.

"This book is much more interesting, and it was the first one I read...I'll go downstairs and get us some tea..."

"No," Ron said, taking the book. "Mrs. Malfoy said you have to stay with me..." he then started coughing again.

"Well, I'll get Idgy to bring us up some..." Harry inisisted.

"Don't worry about it, I've already brought some," came a voice in the door, and Harry jumped, and turned to give Draco a firm glare.

"Don't do that!" Harry said. "You're the third person whose come in here today and scared the bejeebies out of me."

"Grow up Harry," Draco said, setting a tray of tea and cakes on one of the desks. "Mother said to bring up a Snack. Idgy has gone into labour and Mother needs Aunt Bella to assist with the delivery."

"Come again?" Ron looked up, eyes wet from having coughed so much.

"Idgy's pregnant," Harry explained, then poured some tea for Ron. "So we get some time to ourselves..."

"Yes, and let me tell you," Draco huffed. "I'm glad for the break. Just the written portion of the test and I'm drained. Really, I need a break!"

"Sounds brutal," Ron said conversationally, dipping a chunk of cake unceremoniously into his tea and causing Draco to wrinkle his nose in dismay. "Don't be such a dandy," Ron added, seeing the look.

"You, Weasley, have all the manners of a troglydite!" Draco huffed.

"Would you like some cheese with that whine?" Ron quipped drolly.

Harry was then subjected two twenty minutes of the other two boys trying to out insult each other between bites of cake and sips of tea. He rolled his eyes heavenward, just as Bellatrix came in, a look of delight on her face.

"Ah, helping House Elves give birth is such a bloody brutal business!" she said, and the three boys gave her a look of acute disgust.

"So the baby elf, what gender is it, does it have a name?" Harry asked, getting a rather ominous feeling from the woman's delighted presence.

"A male, and the creature's mother decided on the name Quiggly, if it lasts the night..."

Harry gulped and Draco gave a soft sound of dismay.

"Is Idgy all right?"

"Oh she's well enough, but we had to do a cesarean birth, poor thing. Well forget about elves," she hefted, for them to see, a bowl of gleaming blue wax. "Narcissa said this might suit our purpose. So lets get started! I have so much energy now I could really teach you myself..."

At this point in time the doorbell rang and Harry had to leave the room to go get it, so there was no choice but for Harry to leave Ron in her company.

Draco's with him, Harry thought firmly, taking the steps two at a time. He'll be all right...

But when he got down to the door Narcissa was already there, with the door held open and Severus standing in the doorway, shaking the rain from his cloak. Harry stood on the stairs, watching his Master for a moment with disbelief. Had it been nearly half a week since the man had left? Harry had lost track of all time in waiting for Severus' return, as if the man had barelty just left. But now that Severus was back a strange ache entered his chest and he took a single step down hesitantly, unsure as how to greet the man.

"Harry," Severus said softly upon seeing him. "There's a woman outside I'd like you to invite in..."

Harry took a few steps down, and put a hand on his Master's shoulder for the barest moment, as if touching him to see if he was really there.

"Yes, I'm here, Harry," Severus nodded towards the door. "I don't want to keep her waiting in the rain, old as she is."

Harry turned to look out the door and could have choked. He had seen this woman before, for the briefest moment in Snape's mind during Occulamency. Granted she had been younger then, but she could be no other than Severus Snape's mother. She was huddled under the stoop in dark robes, looking forlorn and just a little rain soaked. But she was looking forward as if trying to figure out what to do and where to go. Harry suddenly realized that she couldn't even see the door. She didn't know where she was, or that Grimmauld place existed.

"Yes, she can come in," Harry found himself saying, adding her to the Secret Keeper spell without a second tought.

"Eileen..."

Narcissa reached for the woman's hands and the old woman tottered into the House, eyes suddenly lighting up. Her mouth broke into a wide smile and she reached for Severus, putting a hand up to his cheek.

"I'm here mother," Severus said calmly. "We have one room spare still, I hope, so lets get you upstairs and warmed."

"I'll make some tea," Narcissa said softly.

Severus was then very much preoccupied with helping his mother up the steps, being very careful that she didn't trip over the loose top step that he had repeatedly told Harry that he meant to repair. Harry was left standing in the hallway feeling confused and just a little bereft.

Why did he bring his mother here? Harry thought anxiously. And why do I feel...unhappy about it?


Chapter 30: Accio Explanations!


Will be uploading chapters in bulk format from now on, rather than itty bitty individual sections. Nothing else has changed. o.o enjoy.

-Accio Explanations!-

Harry sat patiently in the parlor on one of the long couches, with Ron and Draco in heavy attendance with him. Bellatrix sat by the window, contented with the little bit of magic she had been able to show Ron before Severus had asked them all to join him here.

Narcissa sat in a chair, reading softly and quietly to Ron from the Forrest Dwellers. Ron was practically asleep, and taking in very little, but that might have been part of Narcissa's intent in this gesture. The sound of her soft droning voice speaking of ancient magic was rather soothing.

Finally Severus came down from the second floor, and leaned upon the doorjamb, his eyes going over each individual in detail before resting upon Harry.

"We have..." he started softly. "Some problems..."

"I'll say," Bellatrix piped up hotly. "Isn't that your Mother that you brought here, Snape? We do not have the capacity here to care for an invalid..."

"I have the answer for that," Severus said thickly. "Harry and Draco will soon have their Journeyman status."

"You mean for them to be your Mother's caretakers for the duration of their Journey rank?" Bellatrix hissed. "Thats..."

"No," Severus said acidly, levelling a brief glare at her before turning to Draco. "What I mean, is that Mother's difficulties are a result of Wild magic. Harry, as a Wild Talent, will have some need to practice his talents, and Draco, as a Journeyman, will need to start studying Healing and mental Magics."

"No two Journeyman study the same field," Draco explained to Harry, upon seeing his puzzled look. "We specialize. I've already expressed my interest in the Healing arts..."

"And Wild Talents," Narcissa put in gently, "By law must learn to understand and correct magical damages caused by wild Magic, where they occur..."

"...As practice for the possibility of becoming the Chosen One...?" Bellatrix finished numbly, looking at Harry now with shocked and calculating eyes. "I didn't know..."

"Well now you do," Narcissa said hotly.

"Chosen One," Harry felt his heart pounding in his chest. "I've read that term in the Daily Prophet about me, I'm supposed to destroy the Dark Lord, or something..."

"Ignore the Daily Prophet, "Draco said immediately. "Utter nonsense."

"Exactly..." Severus said. "It is exactly the opposite of what they said. You were not Chosen in order to destroy Dark Lord, you were Chosen to succeed him."

"Of course, that would depend on whether the last true Dark Lord was Lord Voldemort, or Albus Dumbledore..." Bellatrix said primly, straightening her skirt. "Dumbledore never did care for the Old Ways. But the Dark Lord..."

"He wasn't so interested in fullfilling the Prophecies..." Narcissa said sadly.

"Prophecies?" it was Ron's turn to talk, looking sleepy eyed but curious. "Like in the Department of Mysteries?"

"No, a single Prophecy, spoken by Queen Mab," Draco sat up straight. "Lets see if I remember...'You leader shall be Chosen, a Wild One shall he be, honest and true, to rule with mercy, and...and..."

"Unite our peoples, as in days of Old..."

"But but..." Harry stood up. "I don't understand. What does that have to do with me, and your Mother?"

"Well it is confusing," Severus said, rubbing his face. "A new Chosen one is supposed to come every one hundred years and rule our people. In Mab's time that was an easier thing to do than it is now. We have insurmountable amount of trouble figuring out which Dark Lords are the true Lords, and which ones are False," he looked over at Narcissa. "Regardless of whether you are meant to rule us or not, Harry, you must be trained for the possibility."

"But I don't -want- to rule anybody," Harry said thickly.

"There you go," Bellatrix said. "If you don't have the urge to rule by the time you finish your Journeyman Rank, you'll be free of all obligation."

"It's not that easy," Severus said. "You see, I have been half across this entire continent, to Jeuneau and back, and as far as I can see Harry is the only Wild Talent left in the world. The ministry has been summarily euthanizing any Dark Ones they manage to capture, and claiming to the public that it is a disease..."

"What?" everyone looked at him in horror.

"Since when?" Narcissa stood, eyes wide.

"Since long before Ron Weasley broke loose from St. Mungo's," Severus said, looking at the wild eyed Ron sympathetically. "You're lucky to be alive young man. You would have been euthanized for certain, and your poor Mother would have been given some sob story about an incurable disease."

Ron paled completely, his freckles standing out on his face like polkadots. Draco put a hand on his shoulder comfortingly.

"Then, we have no choice," Bellatrix said softly, looking at Ron with a strange new light in her eyes. "We must bring all young ones to us..."

"Yes," Severus said gently. "But if you are still not willing to train your Child, I must confess that there is little I can do but assist you in the matter," Severus swallowed hard. "Remus Lupin will not be coming to the mainland after the next full moon. He refused to try my cure for the werewolf contagion..."

Harry gave a sad sigh and Severus sat down on the carpet cross legged, causing Bellatrix to huff.

"Which brings me to the next problem. Whether or not the werewolf cure worked on those I tested it on at Juenueax. I am Honor Bound to return to the werewolf colonies after the next full moon to see the results of my work."

"You are the last person on this planet who succumbs to the laws of Honor," Narcissa said hotly, rising and putting her hands on her hips. "Why in the world would you Bind yourself to such a promise?"

Severus shrugged.

"I hope to make an alliance with the werewolves, who once were allied with us in times of old. If my cure works, then they will be able to join us for the Full Moon Right. If the Rite occurs."

A silence followed this, and Severus turned his eyes to look at Harry.

"Regardless of the vow I made to Fenrir Grayback, you WILL be coming with me next time. I have a feeling that Remus Lupin might change his mind about staying on the Island if he saw you again..."

Harry nodded, but he felt an acid feeling creeping up into his throat.

What about me? Don't you want my company? Don't you care about me?

"And with that," Bellatrix said. "I think my Child is going to collapse on the carpet. No, Harry, I'll take him up to bed," Bellatrix said primly. "If we are going to get an influx of Children, or a severe lack of them, then I want to be in charge of my Child..."

"We cannot transfer guardianship of him to me until you have given birth and he is free of the fever anyway," Severus said. Then his eyes went wide. "Wait, its been three days, and he's still ill?"

Severus strode over to where Bellatrix and Draco were helping Ron to his feet, and put a hand on the boy's forehead.

"His fever should have burnt out by now," Severus said thickly, and closed his eyes. Harry could tell that Severus was feeling Ron magically, examining him psychically as well as physically.

Suddenly, Severus jerked his hand back, recoiling in horror.

"What is it Severus?" Narcissa asked.

"Bellatrix, don't teach him anymore magic," Severus said, looking at Ron as if he were a Lethifold in human clothing. "Don't give him any potions, and keep him in bed..."

"Severus...?" Narcissa squeaked in fright, coming to his side. "What?"

"It's no wonder the Ministry of Magic was keeping him and every other patient in the Hospital in quarantine..." Severus hissed, looking for all the world haunted and revolted. "Ronald has has the Black Fever."

Bellatrix made a sound like a hissing snake and jumped backwards about eight feet. Draco said nothing, just holding onto Ron to keep him held up.

"Black Fever, are you sure?" Narcissa said, her voice nothing but a whine.

"'m I gonna bite it?" Ron said, coughing.

"No," said Severus. "Not if we work quickly. Bellatrix, stop acting like a cat in a bathtub, as a pregnant women you are least susceptible to the disease."

"What is this Black Fever?" Harry asked, coming over to help Draco, taking Ron's other arm where Bellatrix had let go.

"Nasty stuff," Draco said, smirking in his Aunt's direction before assisting Harry in dragging Ron towards the stairs. "Any magic he casts will double his fever, cause vomiting, paranoia, other stuff. The 'Black Fever' comes from the color of the vomit he spews. Nasty...But the fevered patient has periods where they cause magical catastrophe. If Ron weren't being controlled by Aunt Bella and Severus he'd be turning this house inside out."

"Which explained why the Ministry is killing off Dark Ones," said Narcissa heavily, lowering herself to a chair. "To keep it from spreading...we're the most susceptible to it..."

"And I brought my mother here," Severus said heavily. "I wanted to keep the Ministry from euthanizing her and I may have introduced her to an illness she doesn't have the magical strength to fight off...What have I done?"

"Rest easy," Bellatrix said. "Harry should be completely immune, he'll take care of her..."

I wish people could stop volunteering my services, Harry thought hotly as they finally made the stairs, Ron stumbled over the first step and Harry bent down to take better hold of him. Hold on Ron...I'll take care of you, fuck everybody else.

-Lucious Pickle-

"So," said Draco finally, once they had gotten Ron into bed and covered with a blanket. "What do you think?"

"I just wanna know one thing," Ron mumbled miserably from where he lay. "Why does everything always happen to me?"

"Hush Weasley," said Draco quietly. "You need to sleep."

"Can't, you two are talking..."

Harry wanted to point out that he hadn't said anything yet, but Draco and Ron were soon embroiled in a long argument.

"Just kiss and make up already!" Harry in frustration. "Really, you two fight like a married couple!"

Both of them started to protest loudly, and Harry chuckled.

"So back to the original question," Harry said, rolling his eyes. "I think we have a dilly of a pickle here. Sick Ron, the Ministry, Werewolves, and the whole business."

"I think you should be the next Chosen One," Draco said, cutting to the chase. "You'd make a good leader. You're fair minded."

"I don't think so..." Harry muttered, rubbing the back of his neck. "Well, I dunno..."

"Yeah, you'd be great Harry," Ron said. "I wouldn't mind being a...D-Dark One...if you were the leader of us, yah know? You're not evil..."

Harry wanted to point out that none of the Dark Ones were really evil, but being that Ron's Mistress was Bellatrix Lestrange, that point was moot.

"And...what about your...Master?" Draco said, looking down at his hands.

"I don't know," Harry said, feeling disgusted. "He brings his Mother here, barely says to words to me, then out of the blue -tells- me I'm coming with him to Juneau, he -tells- me what I'm going to be studying for my Journeyman training, without letting me get a word in. I'd like to know when I get a say in something!"

At Draco and Ron's uncomfortable silence, and a sudden breeze at his neck, Harry suddenly got the impression that they were not alone...

"Harry," a cold voice, like steel, brushing across his ears like steel knives. "Might I have a word with you?"

Draco winced visible, Ron's eyes went up to his hairline, and the redhead mouthed 'nice knowing yuh' as Harry rose to his feet and turned to face his Master. The look was deadly cold. Harry followed him from the room, and down the hall, well aware that he was in big trouble..."

But as the door to their shared bedroom closed, Harry suddenly found himself engulfed in two strong arms, with his back to the door and a pair of insistent lips devouring his own.

"Harry Harry Harry..." Severus murmured, in a voice like velvet. "Harry..."

Harry moaned at hearing his name spoken so. His spine seemed to into liquid and he melted into his Master's embrace.

"Severus..." Harry managed to choke out, before those lips were once again pressing against his, a tongue searching insistently against his closed teeth.

Harry parted his mouth dutifully to led the warm wet organ slide against his palate. Hands reached under his shirt to grasp his shoulders tightly. Harry wrapped his arms around Severus' neck, keeping that mouth firmly against his. Ah, paradise.

Severus suddenly pulled back panting, and laughing.

"Ah, um, yeah...need to breath," he said, and then coughed appologetically. "Harry...I missed you...I'm sorry I was so rushed with bringing Mother here...and not giving you a proper hello..."

"No...this was...perfect..." Harry murmured. "I'm sorry I was so...whiny...but I missed you too."

"You were waiting for me to take you in my arms?" Severus said teasingly, and bent down to press a few of those soft butterfly kisses against his mouth and cheeks. "I adore you..."

"I...heaven..." Harry shook his head. "I'm...not sure..."

"We can't make love, Harry," Severus murmured, echoing Harry's thoughts. "You aren't a Journeyman yet...but I promise you, tomorrow I will test you...and we shall see what comes afterwards."

Harry moaned longingly, all ready to say the hell with rules and strip Seveurs naked, but a timid tap on the door broke both their reveries and brought them to their senses. Harry pulled away from and Severus pulled it open.

Eileen stood there, eyes bright and wide, smiling like a baby bird and moving from side to side, foot to foot, like an impatient child waiting to talk to a grownup. She was rubbing her stomach and her eyes crosses momentarily.

"All right Mother," Severus said, chuckling. "I'm sure Narcissa, or Idgy, would be happy to make dinner for you..."

"Idgy had the baby," Harry interrupted. "I could make some dinner."

Eileen grinned and made a sound that was very close to laughing, before looking at her son expectantly.

Dear god, Harry suddenly thought with a choke. They're speaking to each other with Occulamency!

"You go on downstairs Mother," Severus said gently. "Harry will be down with you in a minute..."

She nodded, then turned to go tottering along the hallway, humming softly to herself.

"You..." Harry watched her go with something akin to shock. "You can talk to her, with your mind?"

"Yes," Severus nodded. "I'm the only one who can. The Ministry of Magic deemed her brain dead ten years ago, but I've been the only thing keeping them from euthanizing her. Recently she's made some breakthroughs in communication with people, specifically her newfound ability to walk. The Ministry of Magic knew that if I had learned she could walk again that I'd come for her, which of course I did. They planned to euthanize her as bait to lead me into a trap..."

Harry was horrified.

"Of course they'd be in their right. I was a criminal, she was legally declared brain dead, nothing to stop her from being killed. But, I happened to learn their plan from the werewolf on Juneau who formerly worked with the Ministry. I was able to get her out of St. Mungo's before they could put their plan into motion..."

"Oh Severus..."

"Go downstairs and help her Harry," Severus said gently. "If anything, as a Wild Talent, you might just be able to help her in a way I can't. Interact with her. Wild Magic is sympathetic, and can be used involuntarily..."

Harry nodded, and obligingly lifted his head to accept another warm kiss from his Master before leaving the room.

Well I feel like a fool, Harry thought softly, rubbing his lips where his Master had kissed him. A fool in love...


Chapter 31: Strangers In The Night


Hooray! An update! Expect this story to get very fast paced, I may skip through unecessary quiet time in the lives of the little coven, and stuff like that. Don't take this update as a promise that regular updates may come, I find I'm writing more in energy spurts than at a more methodical pace.

-Strangers In The Night, Exchanging Glances-

It had been six months since Ron Weasley has dissappeared. Almost over a year since Harry Potter had. And Hermione Granger was feeling quite unsatisfied with what knowledge she had.

After Ron had dissappeared, the Order had become convinced that Harry was now being controlled by Snape and that they had somehow managed to bewitch Ron.

But Hermione was not convinced. She needed evidence, solid fact, and this had lead her on her quest. She had started with books. As she always did. Books usually held the answers to so many puzzles. People used to scoff at her when she read so many books, but they didn't scoff when they saw her marks, or saw how cleverly and deftly she could handle herself.

Books were the key. And so she had travelled, quite a bit in six months, now a full grown witch, no longer needing to be in school. So she had packed up her things and gone from wizarding village to wizarding village in search of books about Dark Wizards. Her studies had proved intriguing, and it made her wonder just how much control the ministry did have over what information people were allowed to access for some of the books she had been searching for had proven very difficult to find.

She started experimenting with Dark Magic. Small things at first. Using regular spells without a wand. The concept had seemed to simple enough in the books she had found. Any magical spell could, and should, be possible without the need of using a wand. But when she had returned to her hotel room in France one time she had found a letter from the Ministry warning her that wandless magic was prohibited in certain areas, and if her wand was damaged she should take it to a repair shop right away to prevent any misunderstandings.

Interesting.

She began visiting bookshops in very risque places of the world; Knockturne Alley to start. Then she had encroached upon the new headmaster of Durmstrang, Victor Krum, to let her visit for a week and study their text books.

Durmstrang was the only school that allowed independant study of the Dark Arts, and which taught some of the principal theories in classes. She had sat in on one class and was astounded to note how hard the magic had been for the seventh years in the class, magic that she had found came to her so easily and naturally.

Sometimes Hermione's chest would burn. Her head would ache, and when she woke things would be different. Some memories she had forgotten would return to her. Dates would change, places wouldn't seem right. Sometimes she'd miss a day, or sometimes it seemed like the world had stopped.

One night, in the ancient city of Alexandria, Hermione had her first near fatal brush with Dark Magic. When she rose to go the bathroom she encountered herself coming from the bathroom down the hallway, on her way in. It occurred to her that somehow, using Dark Magic, she had travelled back in time during her sleep. Having encountered herself once before a long time ago back when she had used the time turner to get extra classes, she, and her future self, were prepared, and immediately knew what was happening. They both sidled around each other awkwardly, fearing that touch of any kind could mess up both their futures and cause a paradox too complicated to fathom. She had encountered herself again on the way back from the bathroom and repeated the ritual.

The next day she had left that hotel, that city and the Dark Magic that resided there which she never wanted to ever touch again with every fiber of her being. Some things were best left unknown.

But she still wanted to know what happened to Ron. And what was going on with Harry. And many of her answers could not be found in books. All right, so she could do Dark Magic with some relative ease, and she had learned all the ancient rules about the Dark Ones. But how did this tie in to what happened with Ron and Harry?

Hermione knew that there was only one way to find out. Which was why she found herself standing on the sidewalk in London, across the street staring at the front door of Number 12 Grimmauld place.

It was the one thing she and Ron had kept secret from the Order: that they were still a part of the Secret Keeper spell, and once invited in they could re-enter the house. But Hermione found herself a little bit afraid. Many of the books she had read had given her rather gruesome descriptions of the things that had happened to some wizards and witches who had 'touched' the wards of a Secret Keeper Spell. Touching the wards, in other words, tampering, was the equivilant of an unwanted knock at the door to whoever held those wards. If somehow Snape was controlling Harry, there could be any number of unpleasant consequences of her going anywhere near Grimmauld Place, let alone the wards.

But she had to know.

I won't be happy until I know where Ron is, that Harry is okay, that this is all a mistake. I won't be able to sleep, or feel peace of any kind.

In many of the cities she had visited, Hermione had encountered ghosts, much older than the Hogwarts ghosts, much more knowledgable than them, and yet the same theme seemed to exist with every ghost she encountered; they had not gone onto the next world because they were cowards.

Well not me, its time to put a little bit of my Gryffindor bravery to proper use!

She wandlessly extended her magical 'fingers' to gently brush across the front door wards. Her whole body tingled upom encountering the complex threads and spells set into the building. She found 'her' thread, the one point in the spell that was vulnerable to her, and pulled.

Suddenly, as if a fire were engulfing her, Hermione felt her entire body temperature rise to frightening levels. Her vision exploded with bright white light and her eyes rolled back into her head. As the magic washed through her she encountered thoughts, strange feelings that she had never felt before. Like a drunken euphoria.

Suddenly, she felt hands tugging on her body, her damaged nerve endings screamed in protest, and she collapsed, world fading to black.


Chapter 32: Blood Is To Blood Bonds


-Blood Is To Blood Bonds-

Since Ron Weasley was too sick to study, and couldn't do magic due to the Black Fever, Bellatrix had decided to spend more time than usual reading up upon the things that she had been negligent in studying herself when she had been an Apprentice.

Well, her own Master had been assumed to be dead for many years, and she had been a Late Talent so she had taught most of this stuff to herself, as had Severus, both of them using Lord Voldemort's control and knowledge when it was finally made available. Severus more so than her, really; old Dumbledore had neglected him to the point where he was Lawless to to a fault simply because he hadn't had the importance of the Laws browbeaten into his head.

But not being able to help her Apprentice study was an annoyance, so she was going to remind herself of exactly what it is she needed to teach him.

After all, Narcissa, Severus, Draco and Harry were doing most of her work for her. It was a matter of pride!

Once I'm well again, and this baby is born, I'll have energy in spades. Narcissa knows now how to keep the blood for me. I wouldn't have rejected the Apprenticeship from the boy to begin with if I hadn't been so blood starved. Ah, but thanks to the House Elf I have energy again.

Bellatrix had a secret shame. And that secret was that she was part vampire. She had been bitten by a full vampire, but being a Dark One she could not fully become what vampires were. So she only had an energy tie in her blood that forced her to consume blood once a month.

Fresh, willingly given blood. No death incurred. Which made it difficult to get blood to begin with. She covered her weaknesses well though. Hid them within her mind as if she were hiding a key within the folds of her dress.

So I learn the Law the Life and the Line all over again, and by the time the Fever has passed, by the time my pregnancy ends, I'll have access to enough blood to be capable of teaching my Apprentice for a month at least. Hmm, and having an Apprentice to supply me with willing blood would be nice. If I could get the red head to trust me. It cannot come from a direct relation either...House Elves and other animals aren't strong enough, but there was so much of it from the pregnancy that I was able to stock pile it for the future weeks. But from a human being...Now that would be energy enough for many months.

She was so distracted in thinking about blood and studying the Law that she didn't feel the touch on the wards until the sounds of voices in the hallway screaming woke her from her stupor.

"Get Severus! He's got the healing power Mastered!" came Narcissa's voice in a cry.

"Mother, what is it? What's...egads!" came her son's voice after.

"It's Hermione, Merlin! Hermione speak to me!" finally from Harry Potter.

Bellatrix threw down her book incensed and stomped out of the library, down the stairs, to go see what the fuss was about.

"Great Mab, you foolish girl! You nearly fried yourself!" said Severus snidely.

"I'm...better..." someone was saying from the parlor, no doubt the person Hermione they were all yelling about. "No stop fussing Harry, I'm better..."

"You look like you've been dropped onto an open flame. Give Severus a second to heal your burns..."

"Oh are you on a first name basis then?" Hermione replied, thickly.

That voice, Bellatrix thought, slowing her descent down the stairs and approaching the parlor in dread. Could it be? Have I found her again at last?

She entered the parlor and stared.

A young woman sat on the couch that she was painfully familiar with. Hermione Granger. This was one of the children that had stopped her from obtaining the Prophecy in the Department of Mysteries. But she was grown up now, and familiar in a different way. It was such a painfully memory that it took long moments of thinking for Bellatrix to put two and two together, the name and the place.

Harmony! Alexandria!

"Now then," said Severus angrily. "Just what were you doing tampering with our wards? When any Owl letter from you would have come through just as well?"

"I..." Hermione stopped talking mid-sentence to stare at Bellatrix from where she was sitting.

All the heads turned to Bellatrix pointedly.

"Well well well," Bellatrix said, mentally hitting herself for the derision that had slipped into her voice. "Now you're a sight I never thought I'd see again in a hundred years."

Hermione said nothing and Severus blinked.

"You...know one another? You've met before?"

"I certainly have met her," said Bellatrix, sauntering slowly along the carpet. "She's one of the Children of Saturn. A Time Traveler, and I met her in Alexandria almost twenty five years ago."

"But, how could you recognize me?" said the young woman in response. "I've never met you before!"

"Oh but we did," said Bellatrix cautiously. "Over twenty five years ago, when I was a young thing just like you. My Master and I took you in for a week, remember? Showed you the King's Library. You disappeared from Alexandria the very next day. Went back to your own time, the ghosts told us. Never saw you ever again."

"Oh gods!" said the woman in response, covering her mouth in horror. "You! Your Master...the librarian...he was..."

"Lord Voldemort," said Harry sympathetically.

"I read about Time Travelers in The Forest Dwellers," said Draco with his eyes wide. "Never thought I'd actually meet one."

"A Time Traveler has the natural ability to travel through time, without a Time Turner," said Severus carefully, taking care not to raise his voice, angry though he still was. "And does not suffer the same consequences of time travel that everyone else does. Daughter of Saturn indeed. Only Dark Ones, with particularly well controlled and Mastered Dark Talent, could even be capable of that. Its a very rare gift, much like Wild Talent."

"But she's not Mastered the Time Travel aspect of her Talent, I suspect, though she's in Control of everything else," said Bellatrix loftily. "Am I right?"

"It only ever happened when I slept, the time travel..." Hermione agreed.

"A muggleborn who is a Dark One?" Draco said. "I don't believe it...I just...I don't..."

"Hermione..." Harry took her shaking hand.

"Well this tells us, doesn't it?" Narcissa said boldly, standing to her feet. "It is a Turning of an Age. The Prophecy tells us that even Muggleborns shall show the Talent when the Chosen One rises."

Hermione didn't look the least confused. She had obviously been studying these things for a very long time, and now looked stricken to the core. Bellatrix had to force down the urge to go and hold her.

"So what exactly do we do now?" Narcissa said with a frown. "She needs a Master..."

"No, I wouldn't be bothered about it," said Bellatrix pointedly. "She's been looking after her own teaching, I suspect. She's under Control and well read. Why not put her through the RTT and see how she makes out?"

"You mean, without a full Master?" Severus complained, standing to his feet.

"Why not? You did it, did you not? And Harry has passed his test, so that only leaves her and young Ron to do the test."

"Would make sense, Hermione always was ahead of us in everything," Ron muttered from behind Bellatrix, which startled her; she had not felt him come into the room.

"Ron," Hermione smiled. "Glad to see you aren't dead."

"Same to you," he muttered, then sneezed up a fit.

"All right, back to bed," Draco said pointedly, rising to go to him. "At least you're in the sneezing stage of the Fever. Maybe Granger can help me look after you throughout the vomiting stage."

Bellatrix could barely pay attention as her Apprentice and nephew left, however. Both her eyes were for the girl Hermione, who she now knew was a Muggleborn.

Well...this is a fine kettle of fish. Damn my pride, if I had asked her about her heritage twenty five years ago I could have avoided this messy situation now!

But the dawn of understanding was finally filling Hermione's eyes and for a moment they just looked at each other. The bitter suddenness of their parting that had forced Bellatrix into a life of evil and torment had been slowly melting away under the stern look from those eyes.

Old love dies hard...but this love will have to die one way or another. I cannot be with a muggleborn, soul bond or not, nor anyone so young, and a Time Traveler too! I couldn't risk that she could vanish one day and...where would that leave me?

Alone...as always. Helplessly and bitterly alone.

-Ha ha ha. Beware the femslash. Because I have never written it before. Beware!


Chapter 33: An Unfortunate Test Of Time


-An Unfortunate Test Of Time-

"She has a rare, but odd power," said Severus, leaning down to observe the books on the bottom with a sight before placing the book in his hand onto it. "She certainly provided us with enough book materials to really round out the collection."

"Are you jealous?" Narcissa asked, striding knowingly into the library.

"Extremely," Severus admitted. "The ability to see the past, and go forward into the future..."

"But you couldn't change the past, or alter your future," Narcissa said sadly. "Only a traveling historian, really."

"For somebody who certainly loves history and books, it certainly suits her character."

"I was...surprised how Bella reacted to her. With familiarity..." Narcissa shook her head. "Like she was an old friend...until Draco mentioned her muggle heritage."

"Old prejudices die hard," Severus decided, putting yet a third copy of The Forest Dwellers onto the shelf. "Goodness, Granger, the books you own! Where did she get these all?"

Narcissa chuckled and helped him with the books.

"Will you be testing Harry tomorrow then?"

"Yes, I shall. I'll put him to the test. And I suppose we'll test Miss Granger. Though I dare say she doesn't need much testing on the Rule of Three. She practically has already written an entire Thesis project on the subject. I'm just glad Harry will be a bit more on the practical side for his testing. He'll need hands on skills more than book knowledge..."

"Just don't make the marking requirements for Harry's test too strict, or you'll never be able to sleep with him."

Severus choked, and Narcissa gave a flighty laugh as she left the parlor.

Romantic twit, Severus thought, gagging mentally. Need to find her another husband once she's passed her mourning...

But he had trouble envisioning her with anyone other than Lucius Malfoy, his brother.

Oh brother, how to tell her...Rest Eagle of the Night. Rest, for the Moon approaches, and so shall the Order and Balance you were so desperately craving.

-seperator-

Harry entered the RTT test with a cautious and nervous mind. By Mab's bright smile he had every right to be nervous about this test. Severus sat at the front of the room reading, as Harry filled out the parchment in front of him, trying to remember everything about the Life spell he had been taught and putting it into words.

Hermione sat scratching next to him, seemingly oblivious to anything around her, and Harry had a stiff feeling that she would pass with flying colors.

Hell, she can't fail at anything...not sure if that makes me feel good or bad.

Time passed literally as sand through the hourglass, as they continue writing their tests. Harry struggled to get the right incantation down for creating a red gemstone firelighting tool and sneezed. And sneeze. Severus turned to look at him pointedly, and Harry reached for a hanky.

"I hope you aren't coming down with that fever..." he said pointedly.

"If I have, well, the Wild Talent must be taking care of it," Harry said, blowing his nose. "But these sneezes could be from the dust. When I finish this I'll be so happy to put on the Nathan Greenbow disguise and leave this stuffy house for a walk!"

"Then you had better get back to writing your test," Severus said thickly. "You have practical this afternoon, remember."

Harry scowled and pondered over his pronounciation guide. He was going to make another mark when the door to the library opened and Hermione walked in.

"Oh my!" said she, flabberghasted.

"Oh dear!" said, Hermione in her desk.

The two Hermiones stared at one another. Harry and Severus both stared at the new intruder. Here it was; the proof that Hermione could travel through time. Then the Future Hermione gave a squeak and turned.

"Sorry, I was just...sorry..."

"No come back," said Severus, pointedly. "Don't be afraid. You can't affect your past, or our present."

The Future Hermione side stepped awkwardly into the room, and Present Hermione still stood perfectly still with her quill in hand, like a deer in headlights.

"I was just...getting a book," said Future Hermione. "I was napping..."

"Sleep seems to trigger time travel for you," said Severus pointedly. "When you leave, try going back to sleep, but not in that same chair, you may shift back again to the right time."

"All right..." she was clearly nervous.

Present Hermione had finally put her quill down, and was chewing on her hair.

"If you want to be able to control shifting through time at will, then you'll have to encounter yourself this way regularly. Its the only way to strengthen your ability to understand where and when you are, and Master it."

"Actually, I was hoping you might have a book on that," Future Hermione admitted.

"Second shelf, near the bottom," Severus said with a pointed smirk. "You two back to writing then. Distractions like this shouldn't keep you from achieving results."

Harry struggled to pay attention to his test, until Future Hermione finally left the room.

"Am I going to do this every time I sleep?" Hermione asked from her desk. "I mean, its kind of..."

"Intimidating?" Severus sighed. "Just until you can control it the way you can control a time turner. You can go back and forward. I'm sure when you, in the future, have the book in your hands, you'll be reading the same thing that I'm telling you now."

"Very confusing," said Harry. "I think I prefer my Wild Talent."

Hermione stuck a tongue out at him and he returned it, and Severus barked at them to pay attention to their papers.

This was going to be a looong day.


Chapter 34: To And Fro, Stop And Go


-To And Fro, Stop And Go-

"I don't see how you two can lay about doing nothing when Ron needs our help to study for his test!"

Hermione glared at Draco and Harry pointedly, putting her hands on her hips. The two Senior Apprentices were sitting on a couch, nibbling on lemon cakes and sipping tea, enjoying their well earned respite from having to study the scads and scads of text required for the RTT. Now they had books nearby for the purposes of their Senior Apprentice studies, but not a single book was cracked open.

Lazy oafs!

Hermione was close to a conniption though. Not one day after the test and Harry was acting as if he already owned the world.

"We've been studying enough already, and its time for us to take a break," Harry said pointedly. "Ron can wait."

"He's too sick to do the test anyway," said Draco. "No point in bothering him about him, or rushing him into it."

"But he could still be reading books and learning! He sits around in bed reading the Forest Dwellers all day..."

"You see?" Draco said, beaming. "He's studying. Leave him alone!"

They were right, of course, But Hermione felt helpless. She wanted Ron to be a Senior Apprentice too. The Journeyman rank was going to be very easy to get to, and she didn't want Ron left out. In fact Senior Apprenticeship was being seen as a formality for Draco and Harry really, and Hermione had been told her spell levels were already at Journeyman rank. It was just a matter of protocol that they went over everything in sequence.

But she wanted all her friends to be together, and Ron was ever so far behind.

"I think I'm going to go back upstairs and get some sleep..." she said stuffily.

"Just don't go through time again," Harry warned sarcastically. "Wouldn't want to bump into yourself again."

"Yeah, then we'd have to listen to two of her."

"Or three, or four, or five..."

Hermione glared and pointedly stuck her nose up as she left the parlor.

Huh! Boys!

But she couldn't sleep in her room. She felt itchy and tense. When she went to get a book from her own personal collection by the bed, she couldn't find anything to read that she hadn't read twice already.

"Maybe I should go sit with Ron after all."

She found him in the study room in a soft chair, bundled up in heavy blankets and half-sleeping as Bellatrix Lestrange read to him from a history book. It was very obvious to Hermione that he was being spelled to intake everything she was reading without needing to be conscious.

"Did you get permission from him to magically enhance his studies?" Hermione quipped, not bothering to greet the woman.

"It is the right of the Dark Master or Mistress to teach their Apprentice as they see fit," Bellatrix countered, pausing the spell momentarily without a thought and turning to look at Hermione with firm eyes. "You would do well to remember that."

"Yes, I suppose, but I don't know if Ron would appreciate you meddling in his head."

"He doesn't have to know. He'll wake up with the text I've been reading to him mostly memorized, and thinking it was simply his own studies that stuck it into his brain."

"I see."

Hermione settled herself in the green chair by the fireplace, watching Bellatrix as she went back to reading text to Ron, this time rather more quickly. Hermione found herself watching the woman, the little lines around her eye that weren't there when she had first met the woman.

Bellatrix Lestrange was old. She was nothing like Bella, the young girl she had befriended and fallen in love with in Alexandria. She was not that warm ambitious girl with dreams of magic and the Ascension of the Full Moon Ceremony. She was now hard and cold. Bitter from years of her Death Eater life, and the Master who had raised her in his image, rather than training her to be her own person.

Hermione wept inside for the young girl that was lost. Beneath the hard cold visage of Bellatrix Lestrange, Bella must still live, deep down somewhere dark that never saw the light of day. The young girl that was warm and alive must still long to touch the moon with her fingertips, surely.

If only I could bring about change...bring about the warmth again that I've missed. I never did find Bella again in Alexandria. Now I know why.

Presently Bellatrix ended in her teaching, then reached out to wrap the quilt around her pupil, almost the way a mother would.

"How is his fever? Will it keep him from being tested?"

Bellatrix turned her head and her dark eyes softened momentarily.

"He's healing...if slowly. Nobody else seems to have been affected by the fever. Severus is keeping his mother mostly in the kitchen and her bedroom, away from the rest of us. He's rather over protective, that one."

"How do you plan to test Ron?" Hermione continued, ignoring the pointed change in conversation.

"I'm going to wait for the practical until he's well enough to learn the magic first. But there's no need for him not to take the written. He'll never been the steller historian that you are and I don't expect it. His skills are purely magical. He seems rather good with problem solving as well. Severus thinks he should specialize in Alchemy."

"You're kidding?" Hermione stared. "Ron?"

"No, I'm not. He'd be a dab hand at it, if he could commit to the written aspects of it. But its up to him of course," she put a hand out to touch his fevered forehead. "A Master can only guide their Apprentice on a specialty, but if they specialize they choose it on their own. You've chosen to focus on your Time Travel skills have you not?"

Hermione nodded, trying to ignore the way those dark eyes stabbed into her chest like daggers to poke at her heart.

"I'm still vaguely thinking of how exactly to specialize my skills besides that. But if I'm going to keep jumping around in time I'll be no use in any other field. At least not until I Master this."

"You have a good round set of skills," Bellatrix agreed. "You could be better at dueling though..."

"You could help me, Bella," Hermione said tentatively. "Like you did before."

"You'd better stick with calling me Bellatrix," was the reply. "I'm not that moonstruck lovesick girl you used to know."

"Shame..." Hermione retorted immediately. "I guess this is something I'll have to deal with from Time Travel. The people who I loved in the past only a few days or weeks ago may not love me many years down the road when I encounter them again."

"Now I didn't say that," Bellatrix laughed, throwing back her hair. "But you'll have to learn that there is more to Bellatrix Lestrange now than just the moon."

She rose from where she sat and wandered over to Hermione to settle near to her in a half crouch.

"I am old," she said quietly. "I am hard. Time has weathered and worn me. Azkaban destroyed my sanity and it has only barely returned to me. My baby is what is giving me a stable place to center myself. A child, possibly a Dark One, what I've been wanting since I was forced into marriage with my dreadful husband. If I could break from Rudolphus, if I could tear that unwanted thread, I could possibly think of taking a lover. Someone to help raise my child who is not hard and cold. But I'm on the run from the law, so filing a divorce with the ministry would be ..."

"...Impossible?" Hermione guessed nervously. "Well I'm not on the run from the law."

"I was hoping you'd say something like that," Bellatrix agreed. "So you get the papers, I'll sign my half, Rudolphus signs the other, and I'll be free. It wouldn't be difficult to track him down after that."

"All right..."

If Hermione was panicked by the rather adult kiss she was then subjected to, she didn't show it. She had a feeling that Bellatrix had been waiting for far too long, with too much untouched pain under her breastbone, to kiss somebody like this again.

-seperator-

It must have been quite a sight for Ron to wake to; Hermione Granger and Bellatrix Lestrange kissing. But then again, he had already stopped arguing with everything that was going around him, and was just ready to let things happen now as they would.

But the fever was not going to let him get away with peeking at the two snoggers. He sneezed, and sneezed, and sneezed, until he coughed up a black ball of phlegm that was the namesake of his illness. Interrupted, and a little perturbed, Bellatrix approached him and vaguely waved her hand to clean up the mess.

"You, young scamp, sleep like a log," said the woman. "But I never know when you are asleep or just bored into a stupor."

"I'd say the latter," Ron quipped. "This stuff is so dry. Queen Mab was obviously insane, I don't understand why anybody followed her over Merlin."

"Definitely Alchemy," Bellatrix said suddenly, out of the blue. "Merlin and Alchemy go hand and hand."

"Say what?"

She then spent a time pattering around him, helping him find what books to study, and suggesting that they go back to their shared room, where it was warmer. She was getting used to the idea of being his Mistress it seemed, but he still didn't trust her, and was upset that they had to share a room, let alone a bed.

But when he turned his head to ask Hermione advice, she was gone, though the door to the parlor had not been opened. Ron gave a soft shake of his head and begrudgingly helped his mistress pick up the rest of the books to relocate to their room.

"She keeps popping in and out every time she dozes off and this place will be filled with Hermiones," Ron quipped with a huff. "She'll pop herself right out of history."

"If that's what it takes for her to master her Talent," Bellatrix said, though for the briefest of moments he saw the worry in her eyes.

Not a good sign if Bellatrix Lestrange is worried about something.

-seperator-

Hermione woke with a dull sigh, to find herself alone in the parlor. Ron and Bellatrix were both gone somewhere, probably to their room. The fireplace crackled. It was an hour before noon. How long had she been sleeping? She stretched her legs and then looked around the parlor for a book to read, but found none. Feeling dazed, and vaguely disoriented, she rose to her feet and found herself walking down the hall to the library as if on automatic pilot.

Library...books...maybe I'll find something about Wizarding divorce...or something about this darn Time Travel bit...Time Travel?

This thought was processed at the exact moment she stepped into the library to see herself sitting in the desk next to Harry, writing the RTT, the one she had already done the day before!

Oh no not that again! she mentally whined as she went through the motions of repeating actions she had seen herself do when she had been sitting in that desk. I swear I am going to Master this somehow!

She took Severus Snape's advice on the book to borrow, and what to do about her Time Travel problem, and left the Library. The hallway was empty, so it wasn't hard finding her room and closing the door. She was going to go to sleep and wake up in the right time for a change! After she read the book about Time Travel of course. She wasn't going to be so unprepared again!

"Time displacement occurs in particular moments of restfulness and meditation," Hermione read, going through this in her mind. "In order to control this power, it is suggested that the Traveller use meditation, and interact with other people in other times, in order to strengthen the ability to Travel at will, and to recognize the time one is in quickly and efficiently. Keeping a compass, a watch, and a map of key locations in time will help prevent possible interactions with unpleasant parts of history. One rule always remains; you must time travel to and from the exact, or nearly exact, spot you began, ideally the same room, or you could end up in a time you hadn't intended to be in."

"So I have to go back to the room where I saw sleeping, and go back in time to the exact place that I left time..." Hermione decided. "Shouldn't be too hard..."

But it would be a day almost until the time when she traveled to the future. She didn't know the exact hour. What if she messed up?

No need to complicate this thing. This is your first test of this power. Better to just give it a go. What could possibly happen?

The parlor was thankfully quite empty when she entered it. Where was everybody anyway? At this point in time, Severus was in testing Harry and herself. Draco was probably with Ron, or his Mother. Bellatrix tended to head down to the laboratory at odd hours. Or maybe she was with Ron. Narcissa would likely be tending Idgy and Quiggly. Eileen would be in the kitchen taking tea, or her bedroom sleeping.

So Hermione carefully gathered the things that the book recommended she have with her, including the book itself, and sat upon the chair she had been sitting in before, careful to recall exactly when she had awoken. Almost noon. So she wanted a different time. After noon. On the day she left.

She closed her eyes and tried to meditate. Nobody would be able to show her how to do this. She had to teach herself. She had to get used to this warping through time like a jumping bean. She had to control it. She had to Master it!

But meditation was not easy. The beating of her heart was like a death knell as she tried to relax, concentrating on the time and day she wanted to be.

With a feeling almost akin to apparition, she felt her whole body start sucking through space and time like being sucked into a vacuum. She didn't dare open her eyes as her body whirled and she plummeted through the chaotic void of history like H.G. Well's Time Machine. Finally vertigo hit and she opened her eyes, blinking as she took in her surroundings with horror.

She was staring straight into the eyes of Remus Lupin.

Not good...not good at all!


Chapter 35: A Rather Fortunate Opportunity


-A Rather Fortunate Opportunity-

This isn't happening!

Hermione stared at Remus Lupin, feeling the vertigo and panic often associated with time travel hit her like a brick.

"Hermione? What are you doing here, I thought you were staying with the Weasleys?"

"I..." she tried to speak and felt nausea wash over her in violent waves.

"You look different, pale...are you feeling well?"

"R-Remus," she said, feeling the sob in her voice. "What year is this?"

"What...year...1998 of course. Hermione are you all right?"

"Four months...only four months back...thank God," she said, and broke out into tearful sobs.

An hour later they sat at the table drinking tea, whilst Hermione explained about her Time Travel ability. She knew that Remus Lupin was a Dark One, thanks to Harry, and felt confident in being able to share this with him and not altering the time line. Dark Ones did not talk about the identities of other to anyone unless it is absolutely necessary.

"Do you have a Master yet?" he queried.

She was feeling rather dizzy and hot now. Snape had said she wouldn't be negatively effected by time travel, so she didn't understand why she felt so ill. Had he been wrong? Had there been something in the book she hadn't read yet?

"No, its only my Time Travel that really needs work. I've been self-studying. But its harder to Time Travel than I thought it would be..."

Remus looked at her squarely, turning his head sideways, then reached out to take her hand. At once the vertigo ceased and the fever fled from her brows.

"You can consider me as a Master then," he smiled, and squeezed her fingers. "In what capacity I can give you. I'm sure you're doing very well on your own, but it is important that you learn to Master this Time Travel, or everything else you have achieved will become Uncontrolled. Time Travel starts out as mostly Wild, and unless you have Wild Talent to begin with you'll be expending parts of yourself to use it until you've Mastered it."

Neither Snape nor the book had told her that. Harry was a Wild Talent, but he hadn't known about Time Travel. She just assumed it was another Talent like Healing. But Remus was nodding now and looking at her with fondness.

"I won't tell the Order you're here. They only have meetings on Fridays and I'm alone for the most part otherwise. We can practice your Time Travel in small steps. As long as you are under my Control you won't be able to Time Travel farther in time than I allow."

"But...when will I be able to go back to my own time?"

Remus seemed to be thinking about this and scratched his head.

"You've come from only four months in the future. I don't see why you will have to travel back forward in time at all. You have been reading Mayar's book?"

"Yes..." she had the book with her.

"Well you know that you should, as a beginner, only travel to and from the same spot in time?"

She nodded, understanding this quit clearly.

"Once you've Mastered that, you can bend those rules completely," he smiled fondly at her. "My Master only taught me how to manage the Werewolf curse and some of the basics, but like you I learned everything else on my own, and I have a feeling that you are very much the same. We'll start simple and try to manage to loose threads as best as we can, but for now..."

He stood up and went to one of the cupboards by the sink.

"We'll get you a notebook, and start writing a timeline of every place you've gone back in time, and who you've met in those times. Always keep ample notes of where you've already been."

"Mayar said that too," Hermione agreed, and soon she found herself in her element again; reading, writing and studying books.

Thank god for books.

Lucius Malfoy fumbled over the debris of the street, face red and eyes mystified. He felt his heart beating in his chest, pounding down like fate, rumbling like thunder.

Pulling of his mask he surveyed what was left of his street, and his master, with a feeling of twisted irony.

Lord Voldemort was not the Chosen One. He was not the Lord of the Dark Ones, merely a Dark Lord only. A...False One.

An itchy feeling of disappointment filled him and he leaned down on the stone street, the rubble around him and the burnt charred smell of bodies surrounding him. Battle had been joined with Aurors at some point as they tried to get to the house where Harry Potter was, and then the second wave of destruction had followed the first. Two shockwaves which tore the street apart.

But he had managed to slip away. Now he was wandering the street, wondering where to go.

Narcissa...I must get to Narcissa...Draco...my family...but...first...

Fumbling, he scrambled over the broken paving stones into the garden of what was once a house. The muggles who owned this house had fared better than the others on this street; they had not been present during the disaster, being on some vacation, or elsewhere. Lucius started going through the debris looking for supplies; food, clean clothes, first aid supplies.

Unfortunately he didn't have a wand. When his Dark Mark had disappeared, his wand has snapped. A present from the Dark Lord for failing to stop his death. Even in Death the Dark Lord had to have the last word. Lucius managed to get some bread, tomato and cheese for a sandwich, and the muggles, ever prepared for anything that they were, had left a first aid kit of sorts in the remains of the bathroom.

"I have been reduced to scraping through a muggle house to save myself," Lucius muttered, rolling his eyes heavenward.

"Kind of ironic isn't it Mister Malfoy?"

Lucius whirled around and stared.

There was a girl standing there. Oh, he recognize this young woman. She was that mudblood girl...that one who was friends with the Potter brat. She had her wand and she was standing there looking at him sharply.

"Just what exactly are you planning to do with that wand, Miss Granger?" he asked, remembering her name. "I'm sure the aurors will find me soon enough without your help."

"Not for an hour yet," she said. "It'll take them some time to get here, but I'd say an hour, yes."

"And how do you know this for a fact?"

"Time Travel," Granger said. "I came here to record these events for the purposes of The Time Council."

"Time Council?" Lucius Malfoy stared. "You're an Unspeakable?"

"I beg your pardon," she climbed over the debris of the house and approached him. "I'm a Time Traveler. I have been studying Time Talent for some months now and being the only Time Traveler alive in this time period I have a responsibility to record History. The Time Council only exists because I do. It is my burden."

"I find it entirely unlikely that a Mudblood has Dark Talent," he said snidely, though the air was slowly deflating from his sails.

"Well, a half-blood just ripped up half the street with Wild Talent," said Hermione Granger snidely. "Thanks to the Wild Talent his Muggleborn Mother used to save his life, which she passed onto him. I think in this day and age, when it is coming so close to the next Blue Moon, that anything is possible."

A silence stood between them at the understanding that Hermione Granger, a muggleborn, was a Dark Talent and Lucius Malfoy, a pureblood, was not.

"So then...what are you planning to do now?"

"Merely document your presence here. Though in my capacity as Time Traveler I can also give you advice. There are moments in the time spectrum when time can be changed by a Time Traveler, though its through this very limited capacity as advisor and transportation to a Time Bandit. Those with the Talent of Time Alteration.

"Time Bandit?" he stared at her. "Are you saying I am one? That I have Talent?"

She nodded. If so, then he did have some Dark Talent, though in latent passive talent he couldn't really control. He had the ability to alter Time and travel through it, but it had to be with somebody else who had the time travel Talent at their disposal. It was a passive activity. Still, he felt like jumping for joy.

"Basically," Hermione said. "You have two choices. You can keep going on as you are, ignore my presence completely, and let time take its course. Or you can come with me to the Future and we can train together in the use of your Talent. I'm sure your wife would be quite happy to see you either way. But either choice you make now will change Time permanently. I cannot tell you the exact details of what will happen if you do not come with me, but it would be rather severe."

"So what is your plan if I go with you?"

"To take you to the future, to the point in Time where it will be most convenient for me to take you. You would have to make contact with your wife and son and go from there. Or, if you'd rather not Time Travel, I will leave and you will be responsible for your own fate."

"How did you discover I was a Time Bandit?" he asked, feeling the need to have more information before making any decisions.

"Just the fact that I can interfere with your fate in time at all proves it. But there are other ways I can tell. Remus Lupin is also a Time Bandit, and my Dark Master, so I have been practicing identifying this Talent through him. But that will keep until another time and place. Will you come with me to the Future? It is not very far, you know."

What could he say? He scratched his head. He was itching to try out this Talent of his, even if it was something he could only use with the help of another. It may help awaken other Talents if he used it often enough. Being a friend to this girl might work to his advantage.

"Very well, I will go with you."

"All right then. The Aurors will most likely assume you were destroyed along with the others, so expect there to be some shock upon your return to the future."

Lucius found himself liking this girl more and more each moment. She was rather clever. He went at once to her side and she took his hand, closing her eyes to concentrate. It only took a moment before vertigo hit him and he found himself falling through the vast starry expanse of space and time.

When they landed it was with an undignified crash upon a damp stone street in London. He stood to his feet, wiping the mud from his jacket. The girl pointed to the alley way between two houses in front of her, but Lucius could see nothing there and wondered where they were going.

"Oh goodness, the Secret Keeper spell, I forgot. One moment..."

She popped out if existence again and for a moment Lucius stood by himself upon the stone street, wondering vaguely where he was going to go. Until she popped into existence again and he knew. Somehow he knew that there was a house here, but he just couldn't see it yet.

"Here you are, he added you, and he was rather flustered by the whole bit. Take this, read it, memorize it, then destroy it."

It was a piece of paper, and on it was scrawled an address in neat little pen strokes.

The Coven Of The Forest Dwellers resides at Number Twelve Grimmauld Place.

At once he lifted his head up and surely there stood the ancestral home of The Family Black. Hermione Granger disappeared again once he had destroyed the slip of paper, and when she didn't appear again there was nothing more for him to do than to approach the house cautiously and hit the doorbell.

Wasn't it a surprise to him when the door opened and there stood none other than Harry Potter himself.

"She...she tricked me!" Lucius said hotly. "That girl tricked me!"

"Come inside Mister Malfoy," said the youth, and his voice was not the least bit hostile. "Narcissa and Draco are in the library upstairs and we haven't told them yet. Hermione is off to go get them now. I'm sure she'll be more than happy to see you again."

"Since when are you on first term basis with my wife and son?" Lucius demanded, not the least bit hiding his own hostility.

"Since Severus Snape is my Dark Master, and the leader of our Coven."

Lucius felt his eyebrows move to his hairline as Severus Snape leaned around the doorjamb to look out of the door at him with a smirk.

"Lucius," said the man amusedly, though his eyes were misted in a way Lucius had never seen them before. "Brother...It's good to see you are well."

But before he had barely had a chance to enter the house and take off his jacket the sounds of sobbing suddenly filled his ears and he found himself wrapped within the comforting arms of his wife Narcissa.

"You are a sight for sore eyes beloved," Lucius commented, pushing a blond strand of hair from her cheek.

"Don't you ever ever ever scare me like that again!" she said, hotly. "I thought you were really dead!"

Lucius turned to look squarely at Hermione Granger, who stood in the back of the crowd that now surrounded him looking smugly satisfied.

"I suddenly have the feeling that until this moment in Time, I really was."

-Okay, the freakiest thing happened when I wrote this chapter. I was reading the timeline of when the events of book place took place. June 1998 is when Albus Dumbledore died in Half-Blood Prince. My story takes place in the months after that. June, July (when Voldemort dies in my story) August, September, October. In January 1999, real life, there were two blue moons in one year (a blue moon only happens once every three years or so, and two blue moons in one year happens only every 35 years.)

The first Blue moon in 1999 took place on June 31st, and the Full Moon that happened in that month happened on January 2nd. So in trying to decide when the Ascencsion of the Full Moon Ceremony would take place I thought, well, one blue moon happens within a few months of the current timeline of my story so that lines up with the history of my story. A second blue moon happens later within the year. Lots of great Full and Blue Moon related events could happen then.

Really really cool. :)


Chapter 36: Dark Side Of The Moon


-Dark Side Of The Moon-

"Do you remember why we Dark Ones do ritual work in dark spaces?"

Harry kept his eyes facing forward, even though his Master's voice was right behind his head. A warm breath was on his neck distracting him, but the orange ball of light he was trying to control was hovering two inches from his fingers. His hands hesitated nervously, willing the light to fly up, but finding his instructions being cut off with every distraction his Master brought upon him.

"Black is a color of concentration. It is a color which absorbs light and energy."

"A very base suggestion...but we're in the Shrine now, and when we're in this room, we keep the spiritual aspect of our Talents in mind."

"Oh, I see," Harry said, and suddenly he did, as his orange ball starting to glow a paler softer color. "Darkness was once the only way we could practice. It gives us safety. For only in the deep of darkness can the light of the moon shine. In the darkness the lights of thousands of suns can sparkle brightly. In sunlight one sun blinds us, distracts us with its arrogance in the sky."

"Speak to me about our abilities in Darkness," Severus continued, not moving a hair from where he sat. "And don't let the energy light go out."

Harry refocused his concentration on the light and swallowed. Here in the black painted room with its crystals and colors, his Senior studies had begun. Now he was having to learn by rote everything for which there were no books to learn from. Spells beyond simple expansions of his brain. He was learning how to maintain his energy for long periods of time. He was learning to work with pure magic in a dead space where only the purest energy could flow. He was learning how to feel the Moon.

"Our abilities are enhanced by the moonlight, which is the source of our energy. We absorb the Moon's pure magic. Our sight grows stronger at night, our senses keener. Our hearing is stronger and our bodies flow with pure magic. Healing is stronger at night, for there is no stray magic to interfere with a magical working. Pure darkness creates a pure space for energy to flow."

"Very good," Severus said, with a slight hint of amusement. "Now close your eyes."

Harry did, and was stunned that he could still see the glowing ball of white light between his fingers. Surprised and rather delighted.

"Now, my Apprentice, you are holding the purest magic between your hands. You are seeing energy the way a true Dark One sees energy. Not with the eyes. You are using your soul energy to see magical energy. Such in the way that I could see inside of Draco to cure him. This is how our magic works. In Darkness this magic is more easily seen and manipulated. In light it is much harder."

"Now I know why we have a black room in our Coven House," Harry said softly. "We can't go out to a forest at midnight to manipulate this magic."

"Correct," Severus said. "We must try to create spaces where pure magic is capable of flowing. We call these Shrines. It is more difficult as our space grows smaller and smaller."

"You don't have to worry about that," Harry said with a chuckle. "When Draco and Ron are Journeyman, I'm sure they'll be moving in together. Lucius and Narcissa shall room together. Bellatrix won't be able to hoard her own room and will eventually yield to sharing with Hermione, if she can get over her blood prejudice. Eileen is already hovering around Idgy's sewing room on a daily basis, I'm sure Idgy wouldn't mind sharing with her..."

Severus was quite clearly surprised by all of this.

"How do you know so much?"

"I see a lot," Harry said with a grin. "Everybody around me is becoming easier and easier to read."

"Well well well, your Wild Talent is certainly gifting you with some interesting minor abilities," Severus chuckled. "Thought sensing, healing and now sympathetic energies. You're a gift of an Apprentice."

"Glad you think so," Harry said, finally dispelling the magic between his hands with dismay. "Because now I have to figure out a way to convince Ron that he isn't going to die from taking this test, and figure out how to convince Draco that he's not too good to court a Weasley."

"Matchmaker too? You have so many impressive gifts," Severus teased, then curled his head around to kiss Harry's cheek. "You had better get back to it then. Close the purification circle and dispel the candles."

Harry sighed and took a few more moments to stay curled up in his Master's arms.

"I feel like I could never leave this place..."

Unfortunately fate had never been kind and fate was about to throw them another loop. Severus and Harry both jerked their heads and eyes wide open as they heard a howl, a loud piercing wail that burned through their eardrums and sizzled their senses.

"What in the world?"

"Its not sound Harry, is a magical cry you're hearing," Severus said, jerking him back into sitting. "You're still connected to the purity of this space, as am I. Only we will have heard it."

"What are we hearing?" Harry whimpered, feeling the pain of this howling in his head like a burning agony.

"Listen to it," Severus said softly, pulling Harry close to him and bonding him gently into an energy meld so he could see from Severus' viewpoint. "Listen to the energy...its coming from outside the house.

"Its...its..."

"Remus Lupin. And a werewolf I'm not able to identify yet. Possibly Greyback"

"But its the full moon tomorrow night!" Harry said, unable to concentrate.

"It would have to have been a serious force indeed to pull Remus off Juneau Island for a full moon. I wonder what could have possibly driven him here...?"

"He's in pain..." Harry whimpered, closing his eyes and begging for the pain to end.

"His companion..." Severus said, suddenly frightened. "How is...oh bloody hell! Harry!"

Severus jumped to his feet and Harry followed, both of them remembering to snuff the candles with a wave of their hands before flying down the hallway towards the stairs.

"Severus, what in the world...?" Lucius said, as the two of them passed him in the hall on his way back from the bathroom.

"Remus Lupin and another werewolf are outside our doorstep, one of them is in wolf form," Severus told him. "Get everyone out of bed. Something isn't right here. I'm not going to let them in yet until I know what's wrong."

"Salazar," Lucius muttered and went banging down the hallway to wake his wife. "Cissa!"

Both Harry and Severus made the bottom of the stairs at once, then Harry stopped him at the door.

"Are they here to...get revenge?"

"No..." Severus closed his eyes, testing with his magic and reaching beyond their wards to sense the two werewolves. "One of them is injured. They're here for help."

"Damn, it is Grayback," Harry shook his head as he stared outside the door of the house. "What do we do? We can't let them into the house while Grayback is still in werewolf form..."

"Wait until sunrise...I suppose. Or try to treat them outside..."

"Or," Bellatrix said, coming up behind the two of them. "You could knock Fenrir out, since he's the one in wolf form."

"Ah, that's a proper idea," Severus said. "But where can we fit them?"

"Attic?" Harry quipped.

"Perhaps...all right. Harry, Bellatrix, I'm guessing you're both coming out with me?"

"Definitely," Harry huffed. "I'm not letting you go out alone."

"I'm carrying Fenrir's child, so he may become more peaceful upon smelling me."

"Maybe...or maybe not. He may see the child as a threat to him and want to destroy it."

"You three are not going out there in the freezing cold with a werewolf on the loose," Narcissa said, coming down the stairwell with Lucius in tow. "At least not without me."

"And me," Lucius muttered. "Werewolves have the strength of multiple men."

Severus growled in a way that suggested he was not pleased with this discussion, until Bellatrix strode forward to open the door, revealing the haggard naked form of Remus Lupin.

"I was wondering when you lot would stop arguing and open the door," Remus chuckled gently as he took a step back from the door. "I can see the house, but I couldn't find the door, so I used my..."

"Nose?" Severus said wryly. "Harry?"

Harry pulled him into the house, putting him into the Secret Keeper spell. He immediately started brushing the snow off his hair and shoulders.

"How could you see the House?"

"I'm not sure," Remus said. "I just knew where to go. It may be an effect of my being able to transform at will. I'm seeing with a werewolf's eyes even in human form."

"Oh Remus..." Severus said, putting his hands to his mouth. "Did I do this?"

"No, no your Talent worked exactly as planned for everyone. A little too well," Remus leaned on the door heavily. "Werewolves were able to transform on days other than the full moon, and even keep from transforming during the moon if they wished. But then they decided they wanted to take over Juneau. Especially those still loyal to the ministry. Since they had the werewolf Talent mastered they could use it on others...which led to them forcing it upon us. I don't know why he can't change back though. His injuries are very bad..."

"I'm a Healer," said Severus firmly. "I'll come out and look over him. Harry will come because he has a Wild Talent, and Remus because he is Greyback's mate. Everyone else stay here and wait until you are needed."

Since Severus was the ipso facto leader of their Coven, they couldn't really argue with his direct orders. Technically he liked to give everyone their fair say. But today was not one of them.

Severus set out onto the icy stoop in search of Fenrir Grayback, nervousness causing a sweat to break out on his brow regardless of the cold temperature. He knew this werewolf would be angry with him in particular.

My fault...I must go to face Grayback with a clean heart. It is about honor...

For a moment Severus was absolutely stunned with himself, considering the honor laws.

But how honorable was it for me to give this to werewolves, changing their very nature?

Severus wasn't sure. Eventually they did find Fenrir, curled up on a snowy sidewalk whimpering, the blood from his wounds staining the snow. It was only then that Severus noticed both men were quite bloody, covered in scratches and wounds.

"We fought with them, to try and regain control of the island," Remus explained softly, coming closer to Fenrir. "Stay back a moment. He's stirring..."

Remus bent down to touch Fenrir on the scar mark on his hip, the mark that bound them both together. Fenrir eventually stirred, his shaggy coat encrusted with blood and moving stifly around his body as if he were wearing a fur coat. He recognized Remus immediately and lapped at his face with a droll tongue.

"I think he's unable to change back because of the broken bones...its too painful..."

"I can fix that," Severus said. "But you need to keep him in control."

Upon hearing the voice Fenrir started to growl. This was closer to a waking angry werewolf than Severus ever wanted to be.

"Hush," Remus said. "He's going to heal you. Hush now."

"What should I do Severus?" Harry asked, getting down on his haunches.

"Be ready to escape if he tries to attack."

Harry shivered. But then they both jerked their heads as Remus shot upright and twisted his body as if in agony.

"What in the world...?"

"He's transforming!" Harry said.

It was gruesome to watch Remus twist and flex and finally form into the shape of a werewolf. He gave the two humans a sedate look, and then stepped calmly overtop of Fenrir Grayback, keeping him in place.

"Ah, good idea," Severus said, more nervous than he had thought he would be. "I have a confession to make Harry..."

"Confession?" Harry asked.

Severus slunk down next to Fenrir's left flank, sweat beading on his brow.

"I'm absolutely terrified of werewolves, or dogs of any kind," he said, swallowing. "Have been since I was a boy. I wanted you here to keep me from passing out."

"Merlin," Harry breathed. "I suppose then this is your chance to face your fear."

"Definitely..."

Fenrir gave a lopsided jerk as Severus put his hand on his haunch, closing his eyes and feeling the magical energy of the two werewolves.

Ah...Grayback struggled too much during their attempt to put him under Control. The decontamination wasn't fully completed for him...

Severus had no other choice but to put his mind firmly into Fenrir's temporarily, causing the werewolf to twitch violently.

Now this shouldn't take more than a few moments...Grayback isn't exactly an Occlumens...

The werewolf seemed to realize he had no choice, and collapsed placidly under the warm body of his mate. Severus could feel Harry's hand slipping into his, lending him some courage, if not a little magical strength. Severus decided that this was a perfect opportunity to show Harry what he meant by the lesson today and pulled Harry gently with him into his meld with the werewolf.

Harry was stunned, certainly. Soul energy and magical energy mingled and flexed around their magical forms as they went in search of the 'wolf' flavored threads of magic. Severus showed Harry how to untangle the threads and repair the magical energy there, to encourage the quick healing of Fenrir's physical injuries. Harry went a few steps further by following the threads down to the source of some of Fenrir's past injuries, those which were magical in nature, and applying some cooling energy to this area. Severus gently allowed Harry to heal some of the worst magical hurts in this werewolf's soul before pulling them gently out of his mind with a soft sucking sound.

Harry fell backwards exhausted onto the pavement and Severus took several steps back as both werewolves began to stir.

"Harry, Harry!" Severus said in panic.

Fenrir rose up onto his now fully healed hind legs and howled, a high keening howl that was rather happy. Or crazy. Severus couldn't be sure. He was feeling his anxiety creep back over him as he continued to take steps backwards. Remus came forward at once towards Harry and Severus felt his heart dying in his chest.

Gods!

Remus touched his nose to Harry's like an oversized Labrador retriever and licked at his face gratefully.

"You're welcome Remus," Harry nervously chuckled. "You're scaring my Master though, so maybe...?"

Remus slowly transformed back into his human self, breathing hard as he came out of the werewolf form, shivering with pain. Harry reached out to take his hand.

"It shouldn't be hurting you to transform," Severus said. "Harry, you should do for him what you did for Grayback."

"Later...Remus...He should change too...Before the dangerous creatures squad invades the street looking for him."

"Right..."

Remus stumbled towards his mate and nuzzled his sandy blond hair against Fenrir's face.

"Come one now lover, change. We can't bring you into the house in werewolf form."

Fenrir gave a dopey sort of canine bark, which reminded Severus strangely for a moment of Sirius Black in dog form, then slowly twisted his body as he transformed into a human being. He took far less time than Remus took and that confirmed to Severus that Remus still had problems.

"They aren't passing the control off properly when they share the Talent," Severus said. "Control should never be forced upon anyone who doesn't want it. It would do far more damage than good."

"But it has been," Fenrir said, suddenly turning to point a finger at Severus, sweating and staggering. "You brought this upon us!"

"But...are you really all that upset about it, Fen?" said Remus, putting an arm around his mate. "You love being a werewolf, you love transforming, and now you can whenever you want to, and keep your mind intact on top of it. You should be delighted."

"This is true," Fenrir said, calming down fractionally. "I'm much more powerful now. I can return to Juneau and try to release our people from those Ministry brigands."

"And we can regain our Honor at last when the next Chosen One rises. We have a chance to redeem ourselves."

Fenrir immediately turned to look at Harry.

"I don't know what you did in there," Fenrir said, advancing a step towards Harry. "But I feel the moon more brightly now than I ever did. I look forward to eating with silverware...instead of claws. I..."

Fenrir gave a sort of jerk, as if he were afraid speaking would cause something to occur that he didn't want to. Remus reached out to take him by the arm.

"We should go into the house," Fenrir said suddenly, scanning up and down the street with panic. "Ministry spies could be anywhere."

"Right..." Harry said. "Well, not spies...just Tonks."

-Dun dun dun. More coming very soon. Bum bum.


Chapter 37: The Little Old Lady From Grimmauld Place


-The Little Old Lady From Grimmauld Place-

All three adults jerked to see where Harry was pointing. Sure enough it was Tonks, moving up and down the street morosely.

"I don't think she's here to investigate a werewolf sighting," Severus said gently. "Harry, I'm going to show you how to block apparition, to keep her from escaping upon seeing us. You two go to the house, we'll approach her and find out what is amiss."

"She may be looking for me," Remus said. "I did break off our relationship rather abruptly, from her point of view."

"No, she's looking for me," Harry said. "As a relative of Sirius she'd still know about the house, even if she doesn't know about the Coven."

Tonks finally gave up in her searching for their invisible house to sit on the street corner, face downcast.

"Nymphadora," said Severus smoothly as they approached her. "You are a stubborn woman. Its November. In the middle of a snow storm. At four am. Why in the world are you here?"

"Snape!" Tonks jumped up and went searching for her wand in order to duel.

Severus already had his wand out and twirled it leisurely in his fingers, as if thinking her hexes would be no match against his own. But then Harry jumped between them with his hands out.

"Don't! Both of you. Severus put your wand away. She's alone..."

Both of them stared at one another hotly for a moment and Harry shook his head.

"Tonks, would you like to come inside out of the cold?"

"You're going to put her into the secret keeper spell?" Severus said, highly offended.

"For the time being," Harry cut in acidly. "Unless you want her to sit out here in the snow freezing?"

Severus put his hand to his chin in consideration and Harry smacked his shoulder.

"Come inside Tonks...Please?"

"I don't know if I should," said she. "They all say you're being possessed by You-Know-Who."

"Like I haven't heard that one before," Harry said, rolling his eyes. "Voldemort is dead. But me? I'm still around. So you can come in and tell me why you've come here in the middle of November, or you can leave. I'm going inside anyways, I don't have a jacket on."

"No...wait! I can't leave yet...all right..."

Severus scowled, but she followed them both obediently to the house. Remus and Greyback were still waiting for him on the stoop with the others staring out a them.

"Its a regular party at this house," Lucius Malfoy said from the doorway, nibbling on a piece of toast. "Idgy has made an early breakfast for us all."

"Everyone can come to the parlor and we can talk," Severus said. "Remus?"

"I'll come with you," he said. "Oh, hi there Tonks. I didn't...er...see you."

"Liar," she responded hotly, then turned to look at her cousins. "Narcissa. Bellatrix."

"Tonks," they both said, then Narcissa turned to look at Harry. "Explanation?"

"She's in the spell temporarily only. Same as Grayback and Remus, since I don't expect they plan to join our Coven. We can have visitors, can't we?"

"Sure," said Bellatrix wryly. "Though I'd say there's a reason she's here that has nothing to do with an informal visit to a friend."

Harry turned to look at Tonks, who nodded firmly and followed him to the parlor.

"I have a lot to tell you. I'm just not sure I can trust you."

"Well, you're just going to have to try," said Harry. "Because I trusted you enough to show you into my house, and see who is living here with me."

"Yeah, I saw," said Tonk, glaring at Bellatrix Lestrange as she passed her.

Harry nodded and declined the cup of tea Idgy was offering to him. Fenrir and Remus had gotten some clothes on and were now sitting together by the fireplace. Remus looked rather embarrassed around his mate now that his ex girlfriend was here.

Three new people in the house all at once. What happens when we start taking in more apprentices? We may have to magically expand the place somehow, if thats possible...

"You'll have to try and respect that these people are now my allies. We're learning to trust each other," Harry continued, giving Bellatrix a soft warning glare. "I hadn't much choice bringing Bellatrix here, because she had Ron with her and he was sick. Now I'm starting to relax with her around. I feel better about Ron's safety knowing he has somebody strong looking after him and training him in self-defense."

Bellatrix looked rather surprised by this comment. Lucius was just smiling at all this and nibbling on his toast. Harry had a feeling that the man hadn't eaten very much in Azkaban, and was now compensating in order to gain back the weight he lost.

"I will try," Tonks said, shaking her head. "Its so important...I have to put aside everything I know and just try..."

Draco suddenly stumbled into the room looking bleary eyed and confused, followed by a yawning Ron. Both of them had clearly just woken up.

"Wassa matter mother?" Draco mumbled, scratching his head. "Its four am."

"Nothing that concerns you dear," said Narcissa primly. "Back to bed with you."

"Actually, it does have to do with them both," Tonks said firmly. "You see, the Ministry of Magic is now tracking down werewolves to try and tag and control them. Dolores Umbridge finally passed her werewolf restrictions bill that she's been pushing forward for years now."

Harry jerked his head up and Tonks swallowed, looking briefly over to Remus and Fenrir, who both growled.

"Since the Juneau Island werewolves have been learning how to control their ability to transform at will," she continued. "The Ministry has been putting all Aurors on guard to capture or kill as many as they can, even those who aren't full werewolves. Bill Weasley is being kept locked in a room in St. Mungos the same way Ron Weasley was, in preparation for euthanization."

"Over my bloody dead body!" Ron said hotly. "They aren't going to kill my brother if I have a say about it!"

"Which is why I came here," said Tonks. "I thought if anybody was willing to help Bill, it would be Ron and Harry. The Ministry isn't telling the other Weasleys about Bill, and the Order never meets anymore since Hermione disappeared. Everyone has been on a frantic hunt to try and find her, and I'm not sure why. I tried to find Molly and Arthur, but they've gone into hiding with Ginny ever since Ron disappeared. Mourning."

"But I'm not dead..." Ron said. Then his eyes widened. "They think we're both dead already," he concluded.

"Right," said Tonks. "The Ministry also has given Aurors orders to capture Draco Malfoy...Since he's been bitten by a werewolf, no matter how small the contamination, he's considered one of them."

"Really?" Draco widened his eyes. "Well there goes all chance of pardon for me."

Despite the seriousness of the situation, Draco had managed a joke which caused them all to smile.

"What about us?" said Fenrir firmly. "What is the Ministry saying about us?"

"Nothing so far," Tonks said sadly. "Other than Bill Weasly and Draco Malfoy, no other werewolves have been specifically named. Not even Remus. But the Order is still looking for him. They think you've kidnapped him."

"Morgan and Mordred, not this," Remus cursed, rolling his eyes. "Hermione..."

"I know, I know..." Hermione sighed. "I didn't have a choice. It would have inreparibly altered history if I hadn't taken you back to Juneau."

"Come again?"

Not it was Harry's turn to be surprised.

"Remus is my Master," said Hermione. "He helped me control my Time Talent. I wasn't able to tell you about him because of some of the Dark Laws that concern specifically with Time Travellers. I didn't tell him I was going to be taking him back to a particular time in history and leaving him there, but as a Time Bandit he could have changed history if he hadn't gone to Juneau. He had already altered history by taking me as an Apprentice."

"I see," Severus said, laughing. "So that's why you wouldn't come back with me and be Ron Weasley's Master. You already had an Apprentice."

"I couldn't tell anybody, because I knew Hermione wasn't there with you yet," Remus admitted. "But I forgive you Hermione. I've never been more happier than I have been from my year in Juneau. Going back in time, being with Fenrir. Its been a blessing."

"Which is all I was hoping for," Hermione said. "So then. We need a plan to save Bill Weasley. I'm sure he'd join our Coven if we did."

"Hm?" Severus jerked up his head. "Pardon?"

"He's a Dark Talent, obviously," she said. "Outside of being a werewolf. Controlled of Course. Because of his cursebreaking he's been able to learn and control his magic without realizing it."

"Ah yes," Severus said laughing. "Curse breakers often use Dark Magic in their field of work. No wonder Bill Weasley gained such notoriety; he didn't have to expend soul energy to perform the more difficult spells."

Fenrir suddenly stood and looked around the group, a strange light dancing in his eyes.

"I caused Bill Weasley's injury. It is my duty to go and heal him."

"You can't remove the contamination," Severus said at once. "Its not the same as Draco's injuries were."

"Its true Fen," said Remus. "Bill was even able to run with me during a full moon, though he didn't transform. I knew that the full moon was causing him such pain, but he came with me anyway."

"I...didn't know that," Ron said, slumping to the ground.

"I can't remove the werewolf inside him," said Fenrir. "But I can make him one of us...if he consents. And then he'll be able to control it fully."

Everyone was so shocked by this, that nobody could speak.

"My Remus is now a Master and has an Apprentice. Now that my Apprentice is full grown and able to teach others, the Law permits me to take a new one. I think Bill Weasley is a perfect candidate."

"Who knows," Remus said, giving Severus an amused look. "We may just be willing to stay with your Coven after all."

Severus just rolled his eyes and put his fists in the air.

"Ah ah, we're going to be so crowded in here there'll be no room for furniture!"

But he laughed and laughed, pulling Harry against himself.

"Well, my pretty Apprentice. Shall we help your friend Ron and Fenrir rescue Bill Weasley from the clutches of death?"

"Sure," said Harry, as everybody stared at them. "And I know just how we're going to do it."

On cue, both of them turned to look directly at Bellatrix Lestrange.

"No..." said she, putting a hand up to her face. "No...anything but that! I refuse! Absolutely...positively..."

Mornings in St. Mungo's were generally quite boring for secretary Doris Bradon. Usually. Until of course a long blond haired pregnant women in rags came stumbling up to her desk, with her husband, a shaggy haired fellow in a threadbare suit, prowling around her protectively.

"Hallo Mum," said the woman, in a thick cockney accent. "'ave an appointment to check the baby, I does, where's I be going to?"

"Upstairs on second floor, Romney Saunders ward, to the right," said the secretary, eyes not missing a beat. "Next."

Another couple came up to them. This time there was a red haired woman with ice blue eyes, and her red headed son, both of them Irish, and speaking in a thick brogue. The boy was covered in thick red spots.

"Would you be tellin' me where I can get me son checked in for his dragon pox?"

The secretary lifted her head and looked at the teenager directly, who smiled.

"Ain't you a big old for dragon pox?"

"He never had it when he was little," said the mother tragically. "Now all me babes have taken it at once."

"Fourth floor, magical maladies," said Doris. "...Next!"

The next two who came to her desk caught her eye only due to the extravagance of their appearance, and the blood of course.

"Ciao, bella," said the Italian man, his gray hair flopping in his face. "My apprentice Nathan has had himself an accident in the laboratory, while we were brewing a love potion."

And he lifted for her to inspect a rather mangled and infected looking hand. At the other end of the hand was attached a youth of about seventeen or eighteen years of age. Blond haired, blue eyed and beautiful, and he was clearly giving his Potion's master the most adoring looks of love.

"Arcturus Benedini, the champion of my heart," he cooed softly in his soft Australian accent. "Bright Master of my soul. Surely you could brew a formula worthy of healing such a cut?"

"I see," said Doris, taking a few inches back in her chair.

It was a sin that somebody so attractive, and young, and Australian, should be enamoured by somebody who...had manicured blue fingernails?

"Sixth floor, potion mishaps and maladies!" said Doris with a squeak. "Next! Next!"

She was quite relieved when the two of them left, the youth cooing over the old man with soft tones as he walked. Next up to the desk was a teen couple. The young man was black haired with brown eyes and was tall and lanky. His girlfriend had twisted bushy hair. Both of them looked rather nervous as they approached the desk.

"Yes, the problem?"

"We...the potion didn't work. I've missed my period...my family," the girl burst into tears.

"There there Mione," said the lad. "We didn't know..."

"Hm," said the nurse, wide eyed. "Second floor, Rauney Saunders ward. Next!"

The next group to the desk was a trio consisting of two tall dark haired men, and a short dark gray haired old lady.

"I'm afraid our mother hasn't been well," said the one man to the secretary. "She took a double dose of her potion by mistake..."

"Oh, sixth floor, potion mishaps and maladies..."

She couldn't help it. As she watched the trio moving down the hallway, she mentally couldn't help but put the old woman as being familiar somehow.

She must have been in the hospital once before, thought Doris to herself. "Oh well...Next!"

The next we an elderly man with a nose that looked like a pig's snout, which he pointedly to silently.

"Magical maladies, sixth floor, next!"

It was going to be a long day.

As soon as they were away from the secretary, they gathered together in a quiet hallway, the proctology ward from the looks of if. Harry ran a finger through his blond hair and chuckled.

"It was amusing to see her reaction," he said. "Is everyone here?"

The woman in blond with the pregnant belly was obviously Bellatrix, and she was being held protectively by Fenrir. They really looked like a married couple. Tonks decided to keep her pig's snout. Narcissa and Draco were the perfect Irish mother and son pair. And it amused Harry to no end that Remus and Lucius were pretending to be brothers for the day.

"All right," said Severus, counting heads. "Mother, you know what you're going to do?"

Eileen nodded, making little buzzing noises. Remus took her hand in his and Lucius took her other hand.

"It should be easy getting the hospital security staff involved in trying to find her..." Lucius chuckled.

"All right, the rest of us will search for the werewolves. They should be in the incurable ailments ward, unless things have changed since I was here last."

"All right lets go!"

At once they broke away and spread out through the hospital. Lucius and Remus gave Eileen a good head start in wandering off before they went looking for her...in the wrong direction of course. Eileen had Harry's invisibility cloak in hand in case she needed to dissappear quickly.

Each of them was carrying a protean coin, so that they would know where to go when they found where the werewolves were being held prisoner.

"We'll set them all free," Bellatrix said to Fenrir as they were walking down the hallways, followed by Harry and Severus. "Just as soon as we..."

She suddenly stopped and jerked her head sideways, then put a hand on her belly.

"What is it?" said Harry and Fenrir took a jump as she squeezed his hand in her fist.

"A contraction," she said. "Oh great Mab, not now! I can't be having contractions now!"

"But this is great!" said Severus. "You two can distract the hospital staff! Fenrir, you stir up a big fuss and we'll slip into the Janice Thickey ward."

"Good idea my arse," said Bellatrix. "They'll run a diagnostic test on me and discover who I am!"

"Wait, I have an idea," said Fenrir, baring his teeth in a cheeky canine grin, and he took out his charmed coin and winked.

Presently the two security guards came forward down the hall to see what the trouble was. In their view a man had fainted on the floor near the secretary's desk and the pregnant woman with him had just laughed.

"'ello luvs," Bellatrix said as the guards approached. "My man 'as fainted, bit stressin' to 'im and all, findin' out we'll be havin' twins...so stressed 'e took up to the wrong floor 'e did, 'stead of to the floo."

"Twins!" Fenrir said, twitching on the floor.

"Oh look, 'e's awake! Steady on there luv..."

"Now take it easy," said the security guard. "Want some help?"

"Just get 'im into a chair then guv. We'll find our way...oh!" she stopped and grabbed her belly. "'ere goes another kick!"

"Are you in labor?"

"No, they's just kicking up a storm they are," said Bellatrix, grinning and revealing the black gaps in her teeth. "'Ad lots of false starts this month, I 'ad..."

It was purely easy for Harry and Severus to slip into the ward and start searching.

Lets hope we find them quickly, before its too late!

As the guards were helping Fenrir and Bellatrix, making sure they were both healthy, Eileen came tottering down the hallway right on cue, thanks to Fenrir's little protean coin. Immediately around the corner came a pair of men, Lucius and Remus.

"Catch her!" said Remus. "Mum come back!"

Eileen immediately high tailed it down another hallway, running fast for a rather old woman. The guards immediately followed Remus and Lucius, and Bellatrix chuckled.

"That was easy," she smirked, looking at Fenrir with a sloppy grin. "Soon as Harry and Severus have checked the ward, we'll know to leave or join them."

"I make a good nervous papa," Fenrir said. "Wish I could have some proper cubs."

"I'm sure you'll have some eventually," Bellatrix crooned. "If you can find a willing woman to carry them for you. And not me this time."

As if on cue their coins started to burn, telling them that the Janice Thickey ward was the correct place to be. Bellatrix got up laughing, though her belly was hurting from yet another contraction.

"Well luv," said she as they approached the Nurse's station. "Since we're 'ere 'n all, shall we go see yer cousin Gilderoy?"

"Oh bloody hell, not him," Fenrir said, meaning it with every fibre of his being.

"'Ush, 'e'll want to know about the twins, 'e would!"

The secretaries chuckled together and sent the two of them into the ward, and soon they were joined by Harry and Severus.

"They're here. The euthanization has already begun. We must get in to those who are still left."

Eileen was now, on cue, leading the guards she had managed to have tailing her away from the Janice Thickey ward. A voice over the air was now telling the guards on each ward to keep their eyes peeled for an elderly woman who had escaped from her guardians. Even now the others were on their way to the Janice Thickey ward to lend a hand.

"All right," said Severus, as their group huddled. "We'll go in, me and Fenrir and Harry, to give there werewolves their Control back. They're using silver cells to keep them in place, but once they have Control they should be able to escape with relative ease."

"Good luck you three," said Bellatrix. "Ouch...hurry please! I'd rather not fancy having my baby here."

Immediately they spread through the ward, pulling out their wands and warning away the hospital staff that tried to stop them.

"This isn't any terrorist mission we're on," said Harry as two doctors approached them with wands outstretched. "Its a mercy mission. You have a hippocratic oath to protect the weak, and yet you're killing the innocent even as we speak!"

"The Ministry gave us no choice! Please leave!"

"Oh believe me, you have a choice!" said Fenrir.

And then, horror of all horrors, Fenrir transformed into a werewolf before them at will, the sunlight streaming through the window showing them the true horror. That werewolves could now transform at will.

"Two choices actually," said Harry. "Free the werewolves, or become werewolves yourselves. He's more than ready to bite."

Immediately they all ran for it. Nobody wanted to tangle with Fenrir Grayback.

"We wouldn't have had to bully them like that," Severus chuckled. "Our Dark Talent is more than a match for them."

"No time for a duel," Harry commented. "Lets go!"

-This was so much fun to write. So much fun.


Chapter 38: Waltz Of The Constellations


-Waltz Of The Constellations-

Bill Weasley pulled himself back against the cell wall, as far away from the hurting burning silver cell door as he could go, and leaned his head back against it with a sigh.

Once couldn't call this a hospital room anymore, with the silver door and silver barred windows. There was a time when he would have loved to be able to come to St. Mungos during a full moon, to wait for the agony of it all to pass him by in the comfort of white washed walls and starch pressed blankets.

But that agony was reaching an unbearable climax, and now he just wanted to get it over with, for his death to be done, for the final curtain to be pulled across the stage of his life and to exit the theater of humanity with some relative ease.

Instead, he was finding himself staring at the window of the silver cell door, into the moonlit amber eyes of a werewolf.

Is that my reflection?

It couldn't be. It wasn't a full moon tonight.

But then. But then how can there be...

The handle to his door jerked and Bill twitched. He was going mad. Mad now. This had to be the doctors coming to visit him now, to end him. No, the face in the door was just his imagination, just his imagination...a werewolf couldn't transform outside of the full moon, could they?

At once the door burst open, and there they were, two shaggy haired werewolves, looking at him without any pretense of fury in their eyes. One was lithe and dark furred and he recognized Remus Lupin at once.

The other...had an uncanny familiarity about him as he stalked towards Bill, shaggy mane flopping over stiff lupine eyebrows.

Fenrir Grayback. Thats right. The werewolf that had bitten him. He remembered now. But why were they here?

Bill scuttled backwards from the two werewolves approached him. Then he gave a horrified gurgle as he watched them transform back into human beings, both of them looking highly confused.

"How...how can you change during the daytime?" Bill demanded, eyes crossing. "How?"

"We can now," said Fenrir Grayback solidly. "Severus Snape found a cure for the full moon contamination, so now we are as we should be, able to transform at will, with no pain from the touch of silver, and no fear of the full moon."

"Oh..." Bill squeaked, and looked at Remus. "Why are you here?"

"To rescue you," said Remus. Who then paused, looking sorrowful. "And to heal you."

"Heal me," said Bill, not pulling his eyes away from Grayback for even a second. "You mean transform me."

"It is the only way to heal you," said Grayback firmly. "You are stuck in a state of limbo. We cannot send you back to humanity, but we can bring you fully to us. To be a Dark One and be my Apprentice. Will you allow it?"

Bill kept his eyes squarely at Grayback as the werewolf sat down on his haunches, glowering as if he had been hoping for an instantaneous response. Instead Bill paused.

"What would I get if I joined you? Besides my health and sanity back."

"You would be a member of Severus Snape's coven, of which your brother Ronald is a member..."

"Ron's alive?" Bill said, sitting up, then regretting it as his head started pounding.

"Yes," said Remus. "More so we have discovered that Harry Potter is a Wild Talent, possibly our Chosen One, and a Blue Moon is coming. Which means that we must be ready for Stonehenge..."

"Stonehenge..."

Now this was something Bill new about. Long had the Cursebreakers studied and pondered over the mysterious magic of Stonehenge and how it connected to the full moon and the werewolves. Yet here were two beings who could possibly answer this riddle for him in an instant.

"Do not fear the future Bill," said Remus, settling in next to Grayback. "The future is ours now. And yours too if you will take it."

"If the future really belongs to the werewolves," said Bill boldly. "Then I'm ready for it."

At once the pained air of the room changed and Grayback slowly transformed back into the wolf form. Remus reached out to take Bill's hand, and Grayback bent down with his jaws to grasp Bill by the thigh, gently, carefully, almost like a mother wolf would grasp the scruff of her cub to lift him.

"Be ready then," said Remus. "For this is going to hurt."

And then his world spun with pain. Silver like gossamer webs suddenly filled his vision, the stars whirling in their galaxy and floating down to embrace him, dancing around him, carressing and comforting every hurting place until finally he was able to reach up himself and touch the constellations, Sirius the Dog nipping playfully at his heels, Draco the Dragon shooting flames of fire at him, Ursa the Bear gamboling across the skies and leading him through the milky way to finally be embraced by Diana, the Moon Goddess, who pulled him into her arms to kiss gently with her silver lips.

Under the shattered light of the flickering silver candles, William Arthur Weasley ascended to the heavens to dance with the silver moon.

By the next morning the Daily Prophet was filled with the account of the escape of the werewolves from St. Mungos. It made front page news and the headline read, "Werewolves On The Loose!" In small print in the tiniest corner of the page was a little note about how an little old lady had managed to escape from her two sons during the chaos and disappeared.

"See mother, they've mentioned you," Severus chuckled, showing Eileen the newspaper. "Right here."

Eileen made a soft happy sound of joy and reached for the paper herself, neatly knocking over her tea. Harry cleaned it up with a wave of his hands and Severus raised an eyebrow at him.

"Getting used to just using magic with barely a thought, are we?" he asked Harry pointedly.

"Well, I was closer than you," Harry pointed out, and chuckled as Eileen passed him the paper to show him her article.

"Yes, that was quite an adventure," said Lucius primly, as he buttered his biscuit. "By the time Remus and I managed to get to the Janice Thickey ward to assist she had managed to trap every single security guard on the hospital roof."

"You must tell me how you did that Mother," Severus said, looking at the old woman sternly. "You never share your secrets with me."

The woman just buzzed her delight, then passed the paper on to Tonks, who shared it between herself and Hermione.

"How's Bellatrix doing this morning?" Lucius asked vaguely in Narcissa's direction.

"Still in pain," she said, wringing her wrists. "Draco's looking after her right now. But when the baby will come, who knows."

"I've heard of long births, but this is something else," said Remus, shaking his head. "Almost twenty hours now."

"It can go on for days," Severus commented idly, and passed the juice pitcher towards Fenrir, who was trying to reach for it over the table.

"Horrible," commented the werewolf sourly, and grasped the pitcher at last. "Just terrible."

"Well," said Hermione, wiping her mouth with a napkin. "I think I'll go up and check on her, and give Draco a break from his healing duties to get something to eat."

"Good idea," said Ron, around a mouthful of pancakes. "He may be majoring in Healing but he doesn't have to be up there every minute of the day."

"You just want to snog with him," Harry accused, and was summarily cuffed by Severus.

"Lets hope that Bellatrix is doing better than...Mister Weasley," said Lucius pointedly, as if he was expressly trying to remind them of their current situation.

Everyone went quiet quickly, and Fenrir gave an uncomfortable cough as he sipped on his juice.

Since returning to Grimmauld Place Bill Weasley had become rather silent and distant. He wasn't joining them for meals and Idgy had been restless by the fact that he wasn't eating as much as the others.

It wasn't just the silence that bothered them. It was the illness. The wound on Bill's leg where Fenrir had bit him wasn't healing right. There was a contamination there that had nothing to do with lycanthropy. Severus had been working with him every day, trying to match his bodies resonances, but for some reason Severus couldn't get fully into a meld with him.

"Its not the Black Plague," Ron said around another mouthful of pancakes. "I was loads hungry and talkative when I was sick."

"Yes definitely," said Harry with a snort, as he began to help Idgy clear off their empty plates. "Maybe I should give it a try, Severus? Draco hasn't been able to do anything, and you haven't, but I'm a Wild Talent so maybe I could learn what it is and fix it without all the complicated mish mash that you've been having to do."

"I was going to suggest it to you this morning, actually," Severus commented. "I was afraid you might not be ready to work within somebody else without me in there to guide you. I can't mesh with him I'm afraid. It may just be the lycanthropy. After all, Bill was made a werewolf by someone who didn't have the moon contamination. Its a different sort of beast, if you'll forgive the expression," he added, looking to Fenrir and Remus with a nod.

"Possibly," said Harry, biting hit finger. "But he is married to Fleur...I wonder if there's a bond with them we're not aware of that is conflicting with our efforts to heal him..."

"Of course! Why didn't I think of that!" said Severus, laughing. "If Fleur Weasley is pregnant with a baby with Dark Talent then they could both be draining Bill for the child's growth!"

"Well, she has been rather ill lately," said Tonks, poking at her uneaten pancake with a fork. "We all thought it was due to Bill being...you know..."

"Another babe?" said Narcissa, and wrung her hands. "And here I was thinking we wouldn't be able to fulfill all the Laws with so many gay men in the house!"

Everyone shared a laugh at that. Severus snorted and Harry smiled at Tonks.

"You could bring her here to the house Tonks," he said pointedly. "I think she'd be safer here, in light of the circumstances with the Ministry. They might go after her baby next if they discover she were pregnant."

"I'm on it," said Tonks pointedly. "And I'll keep this Coven of yours a secret Snape. I can see you guys aren't trying to rule the world or anything like that."

She winked at him, but Snape just snorted.

"Hurry up about it, we'll need Mister Weasley well if the werewolves are to return to Juneau."

"Come again?" said Remus, jerking his head up, as well as Fenrir.

"Fenrir, though snarlish and rough tempered, is undoubtably a proper leader, and the werewolves will need some leadership and organization amongst their ranks."

"Not to mention healing all the werewolves whose lycanthropy is still not completely healed," said Lucius pointedly, reaching for the syrup.

Remus nodded glumly, and looked at them all sadly.

"I know you've been wanting to stay here Remus," said Harry. "But it might be better if you didn't. This place is getting crowded...we'll be looking for new quarters eventually."

"Well, lets start at the beginning," said Tonks brightly, suddenly rousing the group as she stood to her feet. "I'll get Fleur and bring her here. She'll be so happy to see Bill again."

Harry went with her to show her out the door, just as Draco was coming down the stairs. He went into the kitchen, flopped down into the chair that Tonks has just evicted and moaned.

"Its starting soon," Draco said, with a whine of exhaustion. "Auntie Bella is grousy as heck, and demanded blood, so Granger volunteered some. So she's up there making sure Auntie is all comfy, and I need an hour's sleep at least. But it should go nicely."

"You're doing so well," said Narcissa proudly, kissing Draco upon his head.

"Yes well..." Draco shrugged. "Seeing Auntie Bella naked is more naked female then I ever want to see."

He shuddered and Lucius gave a great guffawing laugh that brightened the mood of the room considerably.

"Thinks are looking up," said Lucius pointedly, and stood to his feet. "Severus, its about time you and I go see what mess has been made of the Malfoy estate, and see as to whether we can set up our new quarters there in the future."

"I fully agree with you. Even if we're in some magical tents, they would be a sight better than this dark, cramped stuffy house."

"Speak for yourself," said Remus dully. "For Sirius and I, this was home."

Fenrir reached out to touch him gently on his hip scar and Remus smiled back at him. Harry had come back in with a wry look on his face and grinned.

"Well, why not bring the Juneau werewolves here?" said Harry, grinning. "At least it has a little more in the way of protections for them. I can even extend my powers of invitation to Remus so that he can invite the werewolves to enter without my having to be here."

"But what about Juneau?" said Fenrir pointedly. "Its mine."

"There is little in the way of magical protections there," said Severus. "More to the point, once Lucius has managed to take control of the Malfoy estate, and proper protections are in place, there'll be plenty of room for werewolves to roam free."

"Correct," said Lucius, though he looked a bit uncomfortable at the thought of werewolves on his property. "Moreso, having multiple places to congregate, and multiple Covens, will help us spread out more. So we want to keep Grimmauld Place under our control and if we leave it it'll be open to external tampering. We'll be less confined to one place this way...less in hiding and more in the open, but safely in the open."

"Yes, safe and still in the open," said Severus, pondering the idea and loving it with every fiber of his being. "We'll just have to see what happens."

-I could make every single fun character from the books into Dark Ones, but I won't, so Fleur will probably stay non-Dark. We'll have some fan favourites come along though, this story isn't going to be done for awhile. ;) I'll give you a broad hint as to who we might be seeing next, besides Fleur of course. I've referenced her several times in Bill's section of the chapter. You'll have to figure out who she is from the clues provided there. ;)


Chapter 39: In Which Luna Lives Up To Her Nickname


-Its been awhile since I've written this story. I'm still remembering some things so I'm sorry if I've made errors in this chapter, feel free to correct me on them.

-In Which Loony Luna Lives Up To Her Nickname-

"Explosive."

"What?"

Luna Lovegood lifted her head to stare across the table at Blaise Zabini.

"Thats what the headline is, 'Explosive'. The battle at the old Malfoy place was explosive."

Blaise snatched the newspaper from her hands, and she watched him in happy passiveness as he thoroughly scanned every inch of the paper.

She would never have imagined Blaise Zabini as a study partner or confidante. But Ravenclaws and Slytherins tended to get on pretty well whenever Quidditch rivalries weren't in the way. And without Harry or his friends at Hogwarts Luna was alone. As alone as any sixteen year old could be.

Poor Blaise was in the same fix. He had failed his sixth year of school and had to repeat, which had resulted in him losing rooming with the half a dozen Slytherins that he had been friends with before, which had not been a comfortable situation for him. His family line was actually in the black with most pureblooded families, due to his mother's habit of marrying and then becoming a widow.

Blaise had sworn to Luna that his mother wasn't murdering them, honestly! It just had been a string of unfortunate ill luck.

"After husband number ten she stopped dating for a while in order to get a Cursebreaker to examine her for potential curses."

She had married the Cursebreaker, and he had summarily died.

"We're bad luck, the Zabinis," he'd told her haughtily, when she had softly asked him to be her study partner for the first time. "You don't want to tangle with us."

But she had noticed something else. She had noticed that Zabini was particularly gifted with wandless magic, even if his study skills were lacking. And she had enjoyed the idea of having a study partner as strong as Harry and wowing her entire class with her abilities.

"You know," said Blaise, dropping the newspaper idly onto the table in front of him. "I'm starting to think that all these incidents are all related..."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, the werewolf breakout at St. Mungos, the wizards who have been blowing things up."

"Another Death Eater wannabe type cult maybe?" Luna said, thoroughly puzzling the other boy when she started slapping on the table to get rid of the invisible stingbibbles that may have been fallen out of the newspaper. Everyone knew they caused pimples.

"Heavens no," said Blaise, giving her a look of disdain. "I meant, related to...Harry Potter."

"Oh!"

Harry had gone missing. He had become a Dark wizard and was now living in a Coven of Dark Wizards somewhere in London. It was in the newspaper, he and his cult tried to takeover Malfoy Manor, and were highly successful at shutting the Ministry out of the place. He had even been implicated as part of the werewolf breakout.

"Maybe..."

"Maybe you need to get your head on straight. We have Charms next."

Hogwarts had been losing students, fast. Everyone was frightened of this strange illness, this thing that was making people's powers go out of control. So they were taking their kids out of school, getting them away from potential contamination.

Blaise had disdain for all that too. It was pure potential in general, is what he said.

"Its Dark Talent. Without us practicing the Old Ways, people aren't ready for coming into their power. But sixteen is usually around the age it shows up, sometimes older, as old as eighteen even. Thats why we have all these silly rules about what spells we cannot use and all the new restrictions in our timetable. Thats why we have to practice wandless magic on our own without the teachers knowing, because they don't want us learning Dark Magic. Its a shame we have so few places left to practice. McGonagall discovered that old classroom last week. How long we can keep using the Shrieking Shack before the Ministry finds out I don't know..."

Luna hadn't like the sound of that. So she'd broken the No Slytherins rule and showed him the Room of Requirement, a place where they could practice on their own without teacher interference. He had immediately loved the place and set about weaning her from her wand.

Luna didn't want to forget the DA, or all the work they had done to keep it going. Voldemort may indeed be dead...Neville may have been pulled out of school by his Gran...half the DA may have been gone...but she was still going to keep herself learning defense.

It was a good thing Blaise Zabini was pretty good in that area, for in most everything else he barely did any work. He sat bored through History, and through Charms, and had even suggested that Charms class was rubbish, right to Professor Flitwicks face.

Which had cost him house points, but had given the boy a look of pleasure that Luna didn't understand.

"Now Charms," said Blaise, once their class started filing in the hallway outside the classroom door. "Its just a clever way of doing little complicated magic tricks that are much easier without a wand, much simpler when you use Dark Magic..."

"Yeah Zabini we know already," said Ginny Weasley, causing both of them to jump. "You Slytherins love Dark Magic. So take a hike, go join your dark magic buddies outside Hogwarts causing all this trouble for everyone."

"Oh," said Blaise ever so softly, turning to look her fully in the eye. "You mean like your brother Ron and his friend Harry? They were spotted recently, at Malfoy Manor, and at a certain St. Mungos incident I could name..."

The Gryffindors, those who were in Ginny's year, immediately went on the defensive.

"Say one bad word about Harry or Ron and I'll hex you," said Ginny, glaring at the Slytherin boy pointedly. "So bad it will hurt. Harry's a prisoner of Snape. He's being forced to do what Snape wants him to, same with Ron. They'll be freed soon you just wait!"

"Actually," said Luna, hiccuping pointedly as a yarn ball of strange fuzzy notions made its way through her head. "Snape and Harry are going to get married, have three children, and have a cottage in Wiltshire near Stonehenge."

It happened so fast that Luna wasn't really sure what happened. One moment Ginny Weasley had flicked her wand at Luna, as if to hex her, and she felt an impact in her stomach, knocking to her to the ground.

The next minute the hallway was filled with screams of chaos as every sunlit window shattered around them filling the air with flying whirling slivers of deadly sharp glass. The stones of the walls were shivering and threatening to come loose, dust was coming down from the ceiling, and the glass was attacking Ginny, who flung a hasty protection spell around herself to deflect their sharp unkind blades from piercing her skin.

Power. It was flowing from Luna in a great fount and she couldn't stop it! She felt weak, helplessness. The feeling of not being able to stop or control what was happening to her. The fuzzy ball of yarn in her brain was unraveling now and images that weren't her own were filling her brain, crackling like static electricity and gushing out of her mouth in the form of words. Words that were not her own.

"And behold!
They shall gather at the Gate
Beneath the Full Moon,
And the Wolves shall cry!
And the Wild One shall step forward!
For the Mother shall return that night!
Our lost Queen, the Mother of Magic
Who shall Crown her son King!
All hail her Son!
Galahad in flesh reborn anew!
And Blessed be his lover!
For their tribe shall be greatly renewed
And their children shall be numbered as the stars!"

She fell backwards at once and Blaise quickly caught her. At once the magical power ceased; the glass shards fell down to the ground landing on the stone with a tinkling of musical sound and the cacophony that had surrounded her had stilled into ominous silence.

Everyone was staring at her. She couldn't blame them. She couldn't believe the words she had spoken! Even she thought they were strange, and she had said some pretty strange things before!

"Come on Luna," Blaise said to her. "We have to get you out of here before they cart you off to St Mungo's like the rest of those poor sods they killed...come on!"

"What?" Luna felt herself fizzling with unspent magic, and the Gryffindors were looking at her with murder in their eyes.

"Come on!" Blaise said, and his voice was very frightened.

Well he should be. A whole host of teachers were heading down the corridor towards them both with their wands at the ready. Luna watched them coming, felt Blaise's insistent tugging...

And snapped. She jumped up, and the two of them in a panic flew down the hallway in a flurry of violent footfalls. She could hear the sounds of shouting and pursuit behind her, and Blaise sending spell after spell after them with his wand.

Actually, without it. Wandlessly, so fast she hadn't seen the lack of wand!

"Wha...what are you doing?"

"Blocking spells!" said Blaise, hands raised as he cast magic at the corridor. "To delay them! I told mother that if I went back to Hogwarts I'd need some protection spells so she taught me some! Bugger this hurts though!"

His hands were practically aflame with magic. The teachers had a superior wand skill, but they hadn't expected that Blaise Zabini would be capable of this sort of magic, what with his failing a grade and all.

Where do we go now? Luna thought.

But in an instant she knew. An image of a broom filled her head and she pulled out her wand.

"Accio broom!"

Blaise followed her to the nearest outdoor location, a balcony, with the morning light burning in their eyes and the sharp shape of the broom flying towards them.

"Hope you know how to fly duet," Blaise told her, and they climbed aboard.

"We'll go get a Thestral," Luna said pointedly. "It'll know where to find Harry Potter...they're clever like that."

"I...trust you..." said Blaise, sounding surprised with himself. "You know I can't see them though, right?"

"No problem," said Luna. "We'll fly together."

She took his hand once they had landed on the grounds, and Luna could see over her shoulder now that other teachers had gotten her idea and were flying towards them on brooms.

"How will we find them!?" Blaise said in horror. "We'll be caught!"

"You're covered in blood from the glass, Thestrals like that, look there they come!"

"What? Where? I can't see them!"

"Easy, there's one licking your shirt!"

Blaise was panicking so bad that she took him physically by the hand and twined it in the Thestral's mane so that he knew where to go.

"Oh!"

"Jump on, I'll steer us!"

The teachers were landing now...Luna was mounting...the Thestral bridled at being mounted by two teenagers, but eventually stilled.

"Stop!" said McGonagall commandingly once she dismounted. "That Thestral is Hogwarts property!"

"Well now its Luna property," said Luna smugly. "Come on, lets go!"

The Thestral made a whinying shriek and immediately launched into the air.

And Blaise screamed. It was for this reason that he had never joined the Slytherin Quidditch team; pure fear of heights. But Luna didn't have time to worry. Magic was buzzing inside her now and the need to find Harry Potter was above everything else in her head.

"We have to find Harry Potter! Harry Potter! Can you find Harry Potter?"

The Thestral gave a whinny and they took off like a rocket, with Blaise holding onto Luna for dear life.

It was just like on the night of the Ministry attack. Just like in the DA. She was flying off to help Harry!

With a host of full grown witches and wizards following fast behind her.

"We're being followed!" she called to Blaise over the chaos of wind.

"This just isn't my day," said Blaise with a whine, and he rose his hands up to start a complicated magical gesture that left them, to all intents and purposes, as invisible as their mounts, and left his hands raw and red.

"Wow how did you do that?"

"Dark Magic," said Zabini smugly, then winced as he wrapped his arms around her waist again. "I'm a Dark One. I've only been staying at Hogwarts to try to find and intercept Dark Ones before the Ministry could snatch them up and lock them in St. Mungos, or euthanize them like they would those werewolves. You proved to have Dark Talent, but I didn't know you were a Seer as well. This is very interesting indeed!"

"I'm a what?" said Luna, gasping.

"A Seer, with Dark Talent as well. Darn sight better than Trelawney I bet. Its a shame I couldn't have stayed behind to help others...There were others besides you, you see..."

Luna thought about it for a moment, and immediately the image of Hermione Granger filled her head and she grinned.

"Maybe there will be a way to help them...in the past!"

"Hm?"

Blaise was giving her a look now, that same haughty disbelieving look he always gave her strange notions.

"Come on, lets find Harry," Luna said. "I'll explain it on the way!"

-Yay Luna! With all the moon references I put in the last chapter I had hoped people would figure it out, but they hadn't! So yay for Luna. :) I never really liked how Seers were portrayed in the book, how this sphere of magic was almost seen as foolish. I like things like cartomancy and crystal balls. Anyways, I hope you liked the chapter! Oh, randomly, Malfoy Manor is located in Wiltshire, same as Stonehenge.


Chapter 40: The Assemblage


- The Assemblage -
It was rather crowded now in the Coven House, despite the fact that said Coven House was now located on the Malfoy family Estates. Narcissa had been horrified to learn that there was a whole network of underground suites that her husband had been hiding from her knowledge.

"You Blacks have your secrets, well I have mine," said Lucius primly as he opened the door that lead down to the secret rooms. "My ancestors fire protected the place ages ago, because these levels were designed for ritual magic."

Harry decided that it was far too creepy to live in these dark black painted dungeon levels. And Severus had agreed.

"It would be a trap, with us in it. The Ministry could drive us underground, and we'd have nowhere to go."

"They're too clever these days," Narcissa grumbled, as they trekked back up to the grounds where their magical tents were waiting. "Putting anti-apparition wards up on the property to keep us from being able to snap in and out."

"The elves can though, so thats an advantage," said Harry. "Even if they can only do two people at a time, its still an out."

"Bellatrix and baby Thadius first, if it comes to that," said Severus immediately, and everyone's heads snapped to look at him. "Mothers, the infirm, and children are priority."

"That includes your mother too dear," said Narcissa, putting a hand on his shoulder. "You are thinking more and more about honor these days aren't you?"

"Well," Severus snorted and ran his fingers through his hair. "That book you gave Harry convinced me that there is a place for honor in this world, and there's nothing more honorable than a man or woman sacrificing their life for a child. Love is a very powerful force and honor has a very strong part to play in it."

Harry jerked and looked down at his fingers. He wondered if that was in reference to his own father. But having watched the way Hermione preened over the new baby she could understand the power of love. Hermione had convinced the sour faced Bellatrix to wash her hair out and put on some clean muggle pants and a sweater...the hard faced woman had smoothly taken to the trousers with a begrudging lightness to her step.

"I told you they were more comfortable!" Hermione had said in her own Hermione way.

The older woman had just huffed, then had been distracted for many more days after that by Ron's coming Apprentice level tests.

And that was the present situation. Camped out in tents on Malfoy Manor, the werewolves in charge of Grimmauld Place under the leadership of Fenrir and Remus, and Dark Talents filtering onto the property in a steady trickle in hopes of getting protection from the Ministry by 'Harry Potter, the Prince of Darkness'.

Oh hell that had a ring to it. He hated it, but it really did have a ring to it. In fact, he was starting to get used to people calling him 'Prince' this and 'Chosen One' that. The titles seemed to blur under the aura of respect people were giving him and Severus.

So when Luna and Blaise Zabini finally stumbled onto the Manor property, with stories of their flight and escape from Hogwarts, and their plans to use Time Travel to bring more Dark Ones to safety from Hogwarts, Harry got a great idea. A clever idea. A magnificent idea! If he could convince the others of it.

"I have the most perfect idea," said Harry, as he sat down in the meeting tent with Severus and the rest of his 'circle' of important people. "But first what...wait, Severus what is your mother doing here?"

Eileen was now standing, as opposed to sitting like the rest of them, scratching her nose and looking rather decent now that she wasn't wrapped up in hospital clothes.

"I'm not sure," said Severus. "It may have to do with the fact that the moment Miss Lovegood stepped onto the property she hasn't stopped following her."

"Well of course she hasn't," said Luna. "We're friends now."

Severus jerked, and then looked at her closely.

"Ah. You can talk to Mother too! Your Talent is Sight isn't it?" and at Luna's nod he laughed. "Well that settles it then. Mother is now your Mistress."

"Oh how nice," said Luna, and Eileen sat next to her. "You're keeping me under Control then aren't you?"

The woman just jerked and put an arm on Luna's shoulder protectively.

"What?" said Narcissa, heart thumping. "But she doesn't have Dark Talent!"

"I was thinking this might happen," said Severus, looking around the group. "And it explains why so many Dark Ones are coming to the fore. As the Night of the Moon Ceremony gets closer, the whole Wizarding World will be undergoing a testing of sorts. Like in days of old, Dark Talent will come down to those who posses some rather unique gifts. My mother was a Seer in her youth, and has three prophecies in the ministry. So now she's been blessed with some Dark abilities in order to pass down that Talent to another. That is the main function of Dark Talent, being able to pass along the magic to an Apprentice through teaching."

"Oh," said Narcissa. "So then as a Seer, she would take a Seer Apprentice, Dark Talent or not..."

Harry looked over at Luna and Eileen, who looked a rather odd pair with their heads bent together as if talking to one another, but not making so much as a sound.

"She says its more that she's keeping me under Control," said Luna, startling them all. "And she says not to worry about my training or Apprenticeship, Sight develops on its own in stages. I've already passed a few of them, and I've had my first Prophecy...thats what Blaise said anyways."

"So there we have it," said Severus. "Some people may not have full Dark Talent, just specific gifts of Talent, like Hermione's Time travel ability, and the Werewolves being able to transform into wolves. Its something not everybody will have, and only they will be able to pass it on."

What followed was a long conversation about how they would deal with finding Masters for all the Apprentices that they now had to contend with. And what to do about their followers, since a good number of Non-Talents were living amongst them, such as Bill's wife Fleur.

"I think the Non-Talents and small children could live with the House elves," said Harry, and before anybody could object to this arrangement he added, "If anything happened they'd be the closest to the elves and the first to apparate to safety."

"Ah, that does make sense," Bellatrix agreed, voicing her first opinion on the subject since the conversation started. "I would like to make another suggestion."

"Yes?" Severus said, raising an eyebrow.

"Since all our activities are dependant upon Stonehenge, why not take control of it?" she suggested quietly, and moved the baby she was nursing from her chest to her shoulder to pat his back.

A whiny hiccup from the baby filled the room and several of the women giggled.

"We don't want to disrupt the muggle world, or let them onto our presense," said Harry. "Last thing we need are a billion muggles coming to Stonehenge to photograph the 'wizard magic' when we just need Stonehenge for one night."

Bellatrix shrugged, and then switched her baby to the other shoulder as the members of their council dished out the next order of business.

"What we can do, once Hermione and Lucius are finished saving the Dark Talents from St Mungos, is to set up a record of everyone's name and their level of ability, and then pair people up based on that. Luna and Eileen could probably help with that, being able to see forward in certain ways, and Severus could look into people the way he did with Ron and Draco and find out what their natural skills are."

"Well, thats something any Dark Talent could do," Severus admitted. "Once I Taught them it of course."

"We could have a nice little list of who functions how," said Harry. "And be able to deploy the best people for the best job needed."

"Job?"

"Of course," said Harry, finally coming at last to his Big Idea. "You see, I've got a mind that we have more Apprentices now then Hogwarts has students. I thought..."

"...you're going to set up a school of Dark Talents!" Draco interrupted with a laugh, clapping his hands. "And have Dark Masters take ALL the students as Apprentices."

Everyone started to complain. A good number of people were quibbling about the Laws.

"It doesn't disobey a single one of the Major Laws," said Harry immediately. "All Shall Be Taught; All young people who show signs of Dark Talent can be taught without having to worry about there being a certain number of Apprentices and Masters. Share Magic With Others; non-Talent Students could share the school with Dark Talents and thereby we can share and exchange our ideas and spells..."

"And what would happen to the next law, Keep Thy Nature to Thyself?" Narcissa asked, but smiling in a way that suggested she knew Harry had this in hand.

"Hogwarts is very well protected against magical and muggle interference," said Harry. "We would be able to practice magic there without anyone knowing what we were doing."

"Hm..." said Severus. "And with some magical aids the Dark Talents and Non-Talents would have seperate places to work so there would be little conflict there."

"And as for Honoring Dark Ones," Harry stuck his tongue out. "Well how best to teach one another to Honor our ways then having classes...based upon your most excellent book Narcissa."

"Dark Talent etiquette school!" said Lucius with a roguish laugh. "Oh, I volunteer fully to teach that class!"

"Hah!" said Harry, pointing at him. "You said it, I'm gonna hold you to it!"

The blond haired man bristled a bit, but said nothing, biting his bottom lip and looking as if he was already planning lessons. Narcissa just grinned knowingly.

"So then, what about the next Law?"

"Respect all Magical Beings," said Harry. "We'd have that nice big forest for the Werewolves to use. A big huge castle for our House Elves to live in and take care of. And plenty of dark places for vampire students to rest at night..." he turned briefly to look at Bellatrix. "I'm sure there's going to be plenty of part-human students coming to the school and they'll need to be as welcomed into the school as the fully human students too."

A quiet pause followed this and Bellatrix swallowed.

"We were wrong...weren't we? To discredit Muggleborns, but at the same time embracing dark creatures like vampires and werewolves..."

"More like they were serving our needs," Severus countered quietly, and crossed his legs. "Harry, I think I like this idea greatly."

"And Hogwarts is a Sacred Space, so we Honor it by using it for its proper function; teaching," Harry finished, and smiled. "All this would take place after Stonehenge of course."

"Excellent Harry," said Narcissa. "I like this idea too."

A few more agreeing nods, then Luna clapped her hands together.

"So how are we going to get into Hogwarts?"

"Oh," said Harry, and he sighed. "Hadn't thought of that. They'll be protecting the entrances into the castle..."

"Maybe..." said Ron suddenly. "We could bribe the Merfolk into ferrying us across the lake?"

"No protection from overhead assault," Severus said immediately.

"Wait," said Harry, and he bit his lips a moment, and looked around here. "What if...No...I don't think...but maybe..."

"What?" said Severus, looking intense. "What?"

"Well, what if I turned into an animal, like an Animagus, with Wild Magic? Which would take time for me to do properly, but I could then teach everyone else directly the way I mended Severus' back and the werewolves, I could just go in, show them how, and get out again. And then we could get in through the forest as animals."

"Ah!" said Draco in delight. "The Forest Dwellers again!"

"What?" said Bellatrix. "What is that all about?"

"'Into the forrest they fled,'" Severus quoted to book. "'As the fowl flying, upon their creeping legs, through the darkness with skittering claw and under the leaves amongst the animals most humble, into the safety of trees.'"

"You've never read it Aunt?" Draco asked with interest. "The Forrest Dwellers describes how the First Coven escaped capture by turning into animals and hiding in the forest, only turning back into humans at night when they performed their spells under the moon and stars. Thats how that muggle nonsense of witches turning into cats and bats and stuff started, some of them really did!"

"Oh, I see," said Bellatrix with a grin. "So in reverse, we'll come out of hiding by doing the same. Turning into animals and creeping back to Hogwarts..."

"Just enough of us to make an offensive and take over the school," said Harry. "If we can control the protective wards over Hogwarts we can then just bring everyone in through the front gate."

"Its risky, but its an idea."

"So are we agreed then?" said Severus. "Harry?"

"Lets put it to a vote!"

It was unanimous.

"So now we have just one thing left to do..." Harry said, taking a deep breath and preparing himself for his next words. The Full Moon Rite. I need to know what I have to do for it...and hope I'll remember what to do by the time the Moon gets here."

"We...can help you with that Harry," said Severus, biting his lip. "Are you...sure?"

"I am sure."
Nothing else could be said. Harry had just willingly declared his intention to take leadership of the Dark Ones, all Dark Ones, with only those few short words.

But one look at Severus and Harry knew he had made the right decision. His lover's eyes were glowing brightly.

Now lets hope the Ceremony goes off without a hitch. Big plans, and only a few days until the next Full Moon. But I'm ready. I've been preparing for this all of my life.

-Yay, another chappy. And I plan to go back and proof read everything before this for spelling and stuff so maybe I'll take all these tiny chapters and lump them together. We'll see. I don't need to change anything but it would make it more convenient to have the chapters joined up like Lockharts writing! :P We'll see what happens.


Chapter 41: Moonlight


-I can't believe its over! D: Its been so long in coming, but here is the final tiny finale for the story. I may rename the whole thing to Wild Magic, since they only stayed in Knockturn for part of the story. But regardless of renaming, I think I'm happy with the way the story ended, it may need proof reading, but this is basically what I wanted to write. :) I know its a short ending, but don't worry, I have other stories to work on too so I'll be updating those shortly. Right now I'm a bit distracted by my new Wii console. :D When the urge to write comes over me I'll make sure things get posted. Maybe some new things will be posted soon. ;)

Moonlight

Stonehenge. A place of ancient mysteries, large stone columns and moonlight, which bathed their party in its loving glow, a proud mother gazing down upon her children as they creeped up to the stone monument in hooded cloaks with offerings of gold; emeralds and diamonds as big as their closed fists, tiaras and rubies and sapphires that glittered as bright as the silver moon overhead. These offerings were layed at the foot of the sarsen stones, then assembled themselves within as tightly as they could, with Harry in the center, raising their hands above them. The werewolves surrounded them on the outside, transformed, and gave off their wolfish howls of worship to the moon, as the Coven of the Forest Dwellers began reciting the ancient prayer, in Latin, but as familiar as their native English.

"Oh Mab, Queen of Magic,
Bless us with your mysteries,
For we are yours,
Your children,
Who honor you this night.
Grant us your wisdom,
And give us your strength,
Come before us now,
And grant us your blessings."

Harry could feel an inswelling of magic around them, as the latin recitation reverberated around the circle. The moon seemed to wink at them, glowing the last notes of the dying prayer as the magic swelled above them, and called unto them the spiritual visage of a woman, shrouded in starlight, with the light of the moon braided in her hair.

Mab, Queen of the Night, Goddess of the Moon, had arrived before them.

"Blessed are you who have remembered me, and the ancient ways," said she, her voice sparkling and clear. "Blessed my assemblage who comes before me tonight, to remember what many before you have forgotten. That all life stems from the magic, and there can be no magic without life."

They all bowed before her, Severus's eyes even swelled over with tears at the sight of the Goddess, as did many others. Harry's chest hurt; he could barely breath.

"Harry Potter, arise and come before me," said Mab, her voice warm.

Harry approached and she floated down to his level, standing almost directly in front of him. There were planets of rainbow color dancing within her eyes.

"I cannot tell you, in human words and voice, the delight that I feel for you, my Chosen One. You have far exceeded any who have come before you. You have freed the werewolves, united my people, and helped them to overcome their various differences to remember what is important; the unity of all magic. And for this, I will grant you with powers that have not been held by your kind since before the founders. You were blessed by your Father with Dark Magic, and by your Mother with Wild Magic, and now comes the final power, that you yourself hath named; Arcane Magic, the power to give magic to others. To bless Magic, Dark and Wild, down to others as you so have been blessed. And take magic from those who do not deserve the power. Muggle or wizard, squib, werewolf, shapeshifter, or animal, beasts and merfolk, all beings, you may bless with it."

She reached out to touch Harry's chest, and a heat, like an intense fire, burned there for many moments as the blessings were laid upon him. He wept, and knelt before her, and kissed her hand and the robe of her garment.

"Yea, Severus Snape, approach."

Severus seemed startled, and he went to stand beside Harry with a shiver of anticipation and awe.

"I am delighted by you, companion of Harry, for you have helped him in all of this, given and sacrificed of yourself to help bring all this about. So you to will I grant a gift; for as you love to teach, so then will you teach others. Hogwarts is yours, and all the students that will come to you and Harry to learn magic will learn from you. I give you now the power to command and control the magic of Hogwarts, and the ley lines below, so that you can create communities from which magic can grow."

She touched him, as she touched Harry, and he wept as Harry had wept, and bowed before her.

"All of you have been blessed with gifts," she said to them all. "I strengthen your gifts, and fill you with courage, for these days to come will be difficult for all. But by the powers of this Full Moon night, by the powers of the stars and these stones so ancient, I tell you that you can succeed in all that you wish to accomplish. Remember me; I am the source of your magic, who took upon herself to walk amongst her Children. Forget me, and you will forget magic. Remember me and the magic is yours for the asking. Love one another as you love me. And forgive each other what debts you owe. Friendship, courage, joy and love will guide you in these days to come. When I look down upon you each night, remember me, and you will be blessed, and your children and their children. For when next I come again, I will remember you as well."

She then exploded with a shower of sparkling light, which touched them all, filling them with hope for the future, and joy for this momentary contact with a being more powerful and beautiful than them all combined. They wept, and laughed, and hugged one another. Couples embraced under the moonlight; Bella and Hermione, Draco and Ron, Narcissa and Lucius, Bill and Fleur, and there was Remus and Fenrir. Luna Blaise and Eileen danced in circles. The werewolves campered around the stone circle in canine mirth.

Severus took Harry passionately into his arms to kiss, under the light, and a tiny female voice whispered within Harry's ear,

And one last secret blessing I give to you my Chosen One, the secret powers of childbirth which only women would know. After all, you will want children one day.

Harry blushed three shades of crimson, as Severus continued to kiss him unknowing as to the gift that Mab had just given them, and then put his arms around Severus neck and kissed him back.

Under the moonlight, beneath the stars, a new life was being made for them. And beyond the stones, outside of their sight, were thousands and millions of lives that they would soon touch with magic.

The Circle was now complete.

The End