I couldn't resist putting this up tonight and finishing the first book! YAAAAY This project was like a three year project I'll have you know...At any rate, on to book two, I might...just might put up the first installment to the next book tomorrow but probably not, I will probably have to wait simply because I will be completely busy because it's a Monday and Monday's eat your soul and spit you back up on Tuesday before dragging you around and playing with you on Wednesday before tiring of you on Thursday so that at last, by Friday you are free, and so battered and weary you run to the local bar and drink to forget...lol I hate Mondays, can you tell? At any rate sometime this week book two will begin, I already have a cover image for it and the book it's self is written- a really long book in which our story deepens and our characters become men who must face reality and the cold hard truth. At the same time an old thorn rises up to twist into the dark lord's side as love and loyalty is tested, faith and friendship tried and the beginning of an even greater end approaches- have I teased you enough yet? Keep your eyes out for it!

Mistress Slytherin

Chapter 23

"And sooo…" Draco said pointing his spoon warily at the enormous tiger. "…my father bought you a tiger." He said nodding his head slowly. Harry took another bite of ice cream and absently pat the tiger who purred under his hand.

"Is it weird that she likes me?" Harry said rubbing her fur gently. Draco stared at him his mouth half open.

"Harry, you have a pet tiger and your worry is that it isn't normal that she likes you." Draco said dryly. Harry smirked slightly.

"You know that's not what I mean." Harry said shaking his head.

"Well…you've always had an affinity for creatures, father's horse used to follow you around when we were kids remember? That horse hated everyone; she nearly kicked me in the face once." Draco said with a nod.

"Yeah but…isn't it weird? A tiger?" Harry said trying to get his point across.

"Yeah, it's a bit weird that you have a tiger, a bit terrifying too, but then I'm friends with you and you aren't exactly safe either are you?" Draco said smirking slightly. Harry snorted.

"No I guess I'm not." Harry said taking another bite of ice cream. Draco snorted and for a moment there was a spoon war as they both tried to get the cherry from the bowl. Harry won of course.

"I'm going to miss you like hell." Draco admitted as he mournfully watched Harry eat.

"Work hard, harder than you ever have in your life." Harry encouraged. "This is a wonderful opportunity."

"Urgh! That's all my brain has been saying ever since I decided to go!" Draco said burying his face in his arms. Harry snorted.

"He's proud of you Draco." Harry said dropping the spoon back into the bowl. "Your father." Harry added when Draco turned a questioning gaze towards him. Harry watched as Draco's cheeks turned pink.

"Yes well, I suppose his useless son is finally amounting to something." Draco said shaking his head.

"He doesn't see you like that Draco stop being melodramatic. You're father loves you! Sure he was worried for you for a while not that he'd ever admit to it, but you've worked hard and it shows." Harry said frowning slightly. Did Draco really think that way about his father?

"Harry, I'll never be as good as you are in anything I do, I can try as hard as I want but I'll always be second or third place and to my father I should be first place always. When I'm not I'm just…well second best." Draco said with a shrug. Harry scowled.

"Draco I just realized." Harry said frowning. "It's your last day and you're spending it with me instead of your father." Harry said softly. "Has something happened?" Harry said suspiciously. Draco looked away and shrugged.

"You don't want to know." Draco said with a sigh. Harry frowned.

"I think I do, is he pulling away again? He could just be-"

"We had a row." Draco said throwing his spoon into the empty bowl. "My father…Merlin I hate being the one to tell you but I know you're stubborn Harry and you'll find out either way. My father has been…well, he's been seeing women!" Draco said his nostrils flaring.

Harry's spoon slipped from his fingers and fell to the floor with a clatter.

"Oh." He said softly. Quickly and carefully he shut away all that those words made him feel before bending down and picking up his soon placing it carefully on the counter. "Well he's a grown man." Harry said dropping his eyes to the counter.

"Harry don't do that, for once just let go and tell me what you feel let me help!" Draco pleaded. Harry stood abruptly his chair squeaking across the tiles.

"I made that mistake with your father, now I have a tiger for my efforts." Harry snapped making Draco flinch. Harry sighed heavily and shook his head smiling despairingly. "It doesn't matter, I should have bloody known, I'm just a child in his eyes, no matter how adult I might seem he can only see a boy." He took a deep breath.

"I'm sorry Harry." Draco said sullenly. Harry shook his head.

"Don't leave things like this Draco, he's a grown man with needs and longings, he- I couldn't bear the thought of me becoming the reason the two of you fight-"

"NO!" Draco stormed suddenly slamming his fist on the counter. "I refuse to accept any of those gold stealing bimbos! None of them could match up to you Harry! They aren't you and they don't hold a candle to what my mother was-!"

"And what about your father hmm?" Harry said sharply. "Doesn't he deserve to be happy? Draco he's tormented by your mother's death! He is strong, very brilliantly strong but he is human. If he is happy…if there is someone who he can love…" Harry's heart squeezed at the very thought. "Then he deserves that happiness." He ended his voice tight.

"And you don't?" Draco hissed. Harry let out a choked laugh.

"I'm just a child Draco, to anyone else he would be a complete pervert for even looking at me, I was stupid and I rushed in and did something utterly stupid. I'm nothing Draco, I'm his son's friend and someone the dark lord requires him to work with but to him I am nothing." Harry said his voice raw. He stared into Draco's eyes and watched as tears filled grey eyes and spilled over.

"It's not fair." Draco said quietly. Harry sighed and opened his arms unsurprised when Draco fit snugly against him and cried. "I won't accept anyone else, none of those women lifted a finger for me when mother died, none of them made my father talk to me or took me in or manipulated people and sacrificed what you've sacrificed for me."

"Draco I'm your friend of course-"

"No!" Draco snapped. "You are more than just a friend, if I was just your friend you wouldn't have gone half as far as you have for me. You look out for me and my father without even thinking about it. No one else does that, they all want him for his money or his name or his connections, you don't! You make your own connections, you fight for the right to hold your head high every day and he doesn't give a damn and it makes me sick!" Draco hissed holding Harry close. Harry stared down at Draco in shock. He was…touched…truly touched, he'd never considered that Draco felt for him more than the usual closeness they shared.

"Draco…I…thank you." He said flushing slightly. Draco let out a watery chuckle.

"You never even thought about it, about sacrificing yourself for me, to you it was something you just did but it's something you don't do for anyone else. Well maybe for the dark lord, but it's something that you do for the people you care about Harry. I'm just- I hate him right now because he's hurting you." Draco said holding him closer. Harry smiled slightly and felt something warm in his chest.

"I'll be fine Draco; I have all summer to get over him." Harry said softly.

"More than just the summer Bella's child." Draco gasped and pulled away wiping his eyes furiously to hide the fact that he'd been crying. Harry turned to the dark lord and frowned at the folder the man was holding.

"What is that supposed to mean?" Harry said cautiously.

"The man who attacked you in Hogwarts- his name was Rubius Hagrid, he was once the keeper of keys and grounds man at Hogwarts, a half giant that the late headmaster hired out of pity. Unfortunately this Hagrid fellow was keyed into the wards as staff which was why he was able to enter without setting off the wards. I've assigned a team to look at the wards at Hogwarts and what they've learned so far already is that the wards are filled with holes and made quite useless over the years. Yet I am told that the wards are stubborn and filled with booby traps left by Dumbledore, it will take a majority of the next year just to take them down completely and then there will be the issue of replacing them. I don't feel comfortable as a father sending you back to Hogwarts in its current state." Harry narrowed his eyes slightly as the dark lord handed him the folder. Harry cracked it open curiously.

"Durmstrang!" He said in shock. The dark lord nodded crisply.

"Draco will also be transferred for the year. As your friend he will be a target, however Durmstrang is handled by one of my death eaters Igor Karkaroff and a few of the professors are also my supporters, I've already visited the school and the wards are satisfactory." The dark lord said easily. Harry nodded slowly.

"What about my apprenticeship?" Harry asked with a frown.

"I have allowed Severus the use of a time turner, you and Severus will finish by the end of this summer- that is what I want you to focus on. I will allow you unlimited use of the time turner however understand that I am trusting you not to push yourself into maturing too early." The dark lord said his voice booking no argument. Harry nodded slowly.

"And my training with Rabastan?" Harry asked slowly.

"Rabastan will be focusing his entire efforts on finding and detaining Sirius Black, he has also reported to me that you are quite capable of protecting yourself and that it was tactic that you needed, he's written a list of books that he suggested you read I have already ordered the ones we don't have in the library." The dark lord said handing him a roll of parchment. Harry stared down at it for a long moment. "What?" The dark lord said frowning at his expression. Harry shrugged slightly.

"I don't know, something feels…off." He said frowning. "Logically all of what you've told me makes sense, but I have this feeling that I want to rebel." Harry said shaking his head.

"You aren't the only one." Draco sulked. Harry glanced at him and frowned.

"What?" He asked curiously.

"They didn't even ask what we wanted Harry they just told us what to do!" Draco said crossing his arms.

"Ah…the ever fearsome teenage sulk." The dark lord said with a slight sneer.

"Is that what this feeling is?" Harry asked wrinkling his nose.

"I suspect that for you it's quite hard, Bella and Rudolphus were never people to order you around, there was always a great amount of freedom in the choices you made, but then they raised you to be an adult, whereas Draco was coddled a bit more. A part of you doesn't like that I'm making a decision for you." The dark lord said sounding amused. Harry nodded slowly.

"Oh, yes…yes that sounds about right." Harry said nodding slowly. "Did you just psychoanalyze me? Have you been reading those books again?" He said narrowing his eyes.

"Your safety is my priority and you will be safer in Durmstrang." The dark lord said ignoring the question. Harry nodded annoyed.

"I know that, I just told you, logically it makes sense, but it doesn't mean I have to like it." He said with a slight sneer. Voldemort smirked.

"I am ever so sorry." He said lightly. Harry snorted.

"The hell you are." Harry said shaking his head. "Fine, I'll need new robes though Durmstrang is cold all year round." Harry said frowning.

"I have already alerted the Elite tailor however I would like to wait until summer is over to have you fitted, I have no doubt that both of you will grow as young people often do at this age." The dark lord said sounding amused.

"Rub it in my face why don't you?" Harry grumbled.

"Don't sulk Harry it's unbecoming." The dark lord said with a smirk. "Now I must return to the ministry, Draco your father suggested that it would be best for you to stay the night since he won't be home this evening." The dark lord said his lips tight. Harry felt his throat close up. It was foolish, Lucius could be on a mission or simply working late- but he wasn't an idiot and ignorance was not bliss, Lucius would be with some woman. Red eyes caught his and there was a look of apology on the dark lord's face.

"That's fine; I could do with the company, besides Draco leaves tomorrow." He said tightly. The dark lord nodded sharply and turned ready to walk away only to pause.

"This is one of those blasted moments isn't it?" He said turning back to Harry. Harry smiled slightly and nodded. The dark lord huffed and opened his arms. "Come on then let it out." He said dryly. Harry snorted and stood from his stool burying himself into the man's arms and letting himself have a moment of comfort. "I don't suppose you'd let me crucio him?" the dark lord said after a few moments. Harry let out a strangled laugh and relished being held.

"I might actually." Harry said softly. The dark lord gave him a firm squeeze before pulling away. Red eyes looked him over and the man sighed before leaning forward and pressing a kiss to his forehead. Harry felt as though he was kneeling in the snow in front of Lestrange manor all over again. The dark lord pulled away completely then and Harry realized that he felt ten times better. "Thank you." He said feeling oddly drained.

"I'm your father child you don't have to thank me for these things." The man said lightly. "I'll be home late don't expect me for dinner." The dark lord said with a nod before he turned and began to stride away. Harry's eyes caught sight of the cane in the man's hand and for a moment he felt that it represented safety an instrument that had caused him immeasurable amounts of pain now felt like safety. He marveled at the thought.

"Durmstrang." Draco said partly horrified partly excited but mostly still sulky.

"This would be a good opportunity to make allies Draco, from what I know of the school there are some incredibly important people whose children go there." Harry said flipping open the folder.

"And potential enemies." Draco said with a frown. Harry smiled slightly.

"Yes, but people in power always have enemies Draco." Harry said mildly.

"It's going to be a long summer." Draco said with a nod. Harry smiled thinly.

"Probably." He said distractedly.

"You're going to enjoy this aren't you?" Draco said dryly. Harry grinned.

"Oh yes." He said his eyes glittering brightly.

#$% #$% #$% #$%

"Lucius." Voldemort said glancing up from his reports.

"My lord?" Lucius said scribbling something down in his notes.

"Crucio." Voldemort said his eyes cold. He listened to Lucius scream for several moments before lifting the curse and watching as Lucius scrabbled up onto his seat nose bleeding and hair in disarray. "There are benefits to being the dark lord as well as a father." Voldemort said a warning in his voice. Lucius stared at him in shock.

"U-Understood my lord." Lucius stammered. Voldemort hummed.

"Perhaps, however you won't truly understand until you realize what you could have had and the opportunity you passed up." Voldemort said mildly. "You may leave." He said mildly. Lucius blinked at him in shock.

"My lord?" Lucius said softly.

"I don't need fools hovering about me Lucius, return to your own office." Voldemort said coolly. Lucius paled his expression hardening in fury as he gathered his things and strode from the office.

"To think, I nearly called you friend." Voldemort said causing Lucius to stiffen and turn to him in shock. "Good bye Lucius." Voldemort said in finality. Lucius' expression became blank and he turned closing the door quietly. Voldemort stared at the door briefly and sighed. "Torn down from his throne in the most shaming way and he still has the presence of mind to close the door quietly. Bella's child would have found that admirable." He said to the silence in the room.

He shook his head and returned to his paperwork.

He had an empire to run after all.