What Happened to Harry Potter Book 5

Title: Book Five
Series: What Happened To Harry Potter?
Year: 1995-1996
Category: AU, Drama, Angst,
Ratings: NC-17
Pairings: Harry/Draco, Ron/Hermione, Sirius/Remus, Molly/Arthur, mentions of Severus/Lily, Lily/James,
Spoilers: Up through book five
Summary: The Fifth year of schools is planning to be the worst yet. Dumbledore now knows who raised him but will the devious old man keep the secret. A teacher at Hogwarts has it out for him and is open about it but there is nothing he can do. Voldemort is getting stronger. Can Harry take it all on?
Words: 66,552
Notes: Unless stated in the story, please think that it happened the same way it did in the book. Of course, I wouldn’t want to get into plagiarism and I really didn’t want to change everything about the story so I assume that you can all fill in the blanks.
Warnings: I am twisting things. Also there may be some lines from the movies but that is mainly because I found them absolutely hilarious. Graphic Depictions of Violence & Major Character Death

Chapter Fifty One-Attack
It happened in Diagon Alley. He was shopping with the Weasley’s for his potions school items when he felt it. He shouldn’t have been surprised and wasn’t. He was the number one man that the Ministry had on their watch that wasn’t actually being considered to be thrown in jail. At least not yet he wasn’t. Ever since he had first arrived at the Burrow, he had been followed by Ministry officials. He had never seen them set foot on the property but he knew that they were there. They were hoping to catch him in the act of trying to talk with his father. They had other means of doing so and were never caught. Not even by the Weasleys.

Dementors showing up in Diagon Alley should have been expected. He was standing beside Arthur when they first appeared. He pulled his wand out but didn’t cast a spell. He let the grown-ups handle the spells. Moments after the last Dementor was drove away, a letter arrived by owl for him.

Dear Mr. Potter,
We have received intelligence that you performed the Patronus Charm at twenty-three minutes past nine this morning. The severity of this breach of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery has resulted in your expulsion from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Ministry representatives will be calling at your place of residence shortly to destroy your wand. Under section 13 of the International Confederation of Wizards’ Statute of Secrecy, we regret to inform you that your presence is required at a disciplinary hearing at the Ministry of Magic at 9 a.m. on August 12th.

Hoping you are well,
Yours sincerely,
Mafalda Hopkirk
improper use of magic office
Ministry of Magic

Harry stared at the letter in his hand and then looked at Arthur. He handed the letter to him to let him read it.

“I have done no magic. I had it out in case but I preformed none. I am willing to give you my wand for inspection but I will not let them destroy it. I need to contact my solicitor as soon as I can. He is across town. Should we head there now?”

“Yes.” Arthur took Harry’s wand from him and put it in a secure pocket in his robe. He motioned for Harry to lead the way. He shot off a Patronus to tell Molly what was happening and then they set off. Once outside of Diagon Alley, Harry hailed a cab and they set off. It was a twenty minute ride across town with the early morning traffic. The cab driver was leery about letting them where he did. It was in front of a closed down Muggle solicitor’s office.

“Where we need to go is behind the office. Thanks. Keep the change.” Harry handed over a few bills and they exited the cab. Harry waited until the cabbie was long gone and they stepped inside the office. Harry was greeted at the door by a secretary.

“Mr. Potter. Mr. Bromley will be with you in three minutes. He is fire calling someone in Japan.”

“That is fine. This is a surprise visit. I am willing to wait, Sherry.” Harry motioned for Arthur to sit in one of the chairs while Harry moved to a side of the room. He picked up a piece of paper and a pen and scratched something on the paper before handing it to Sherry.

“Thank you.” Sherry took the paper and attached it to the foot of a waiting owl before it took off.

“My father has been notified that I arrived here?”

“Yes. He regrets he cannot come in person but stands by whatever you and Mr. Weasley decide to do.”

“Good.” Harry was walking back to the sitting area when a door opened on the other side of the office, behind where Sherry was sitting. “Mr. Bromley. May I introduce Arthur Weasley, from the Ministry of Magic.”

“Yes. Hello. Would you like to step into my office?” He stepped aside and waved into his office. Harry changed his course and Arthur stood up to follow. The second that Bromley sat down, Harry handed him the letter he had received. Bromley stared at it hard. “I see and your wand?”

“In Arthur’s possession. It has been since I received the letter.”

“Tell me what happened.”

Harry spent a half an hour describing the events that led up to and past the attacking of the Dementors. He only stopped when he got to the part about arriving at the office.

“So you casted no spells?”

“No. I casted none. I merely brought it out so that I could protect myself if a Dementor got past the adults. There were many at the scene but not a lot could cast a strong enough Patronus to fight them off.”

“Your Patronus is that of a wolf, yes?”

“Yes, it is.”

“I will send some out to start taking witness statements. I am sure that people can comment that they did not see a wolf. As to your wand, please leave it with Arthur and go straight to the Ministry so that they can inspect the wand and see the last spell cast. What was it?”

“A shrinking charm on my trunk for school.”

“Good. I will be in contact.” Bromley stood and walked them out of the office and then started to order his people about. Harry nodded and motioned for Arthur to follow. The short trip from the office to that of the Ministry was done in silence. Arthur took Harry in through the visitors’ entrance and asked to see the head Auror. Rufus Scrimgeour met them in the atrium and then led them to his office.

“What do I owe this pleasure?”

“I need you to inspect this wand. Find out the last spell cast and to take my statement on the attack that happened this morning in Diagon Alley.”

“Yes, I was made aware that someone was being sent out to snap Mr. Potter’s wand. If you don’t mind. I will inspect it and then keep it here in my office for the time being until your court hearing. If that is fine with you? I will keep it as evidence and then they will not be able to snap it. We are in contact with Azkaban. It was from there that the Dementors came from.”

“Thank you, Auror Scrimgeour. I will be glad to leave my wand with you. I am sure that you will want to conduct the interview alone with Mr. Weasley, is there any way that I could Floo to the Burrow?”

“Yes, I will have someone escort you to the Floo. It will be safer for you then.”

Harry was escorted to the Floo by Nymphadora Tonks. Harry tried to engage her in conversation but it was all for naught. He sighed as he stepped into the Floo. Fudge was there in the background, staring at him.

“Harry! We were so worried!” Molly yelled as Harry stepped out of the Floo at the Burrow. Ron, Hermione, Molly, the Twins, and Ginny were all standing there looking at him. “What happened? Arthur sent the Patronus but didn’t give much details.”

“We were attacked by four Dementors near Ollivanders…” Harry told the rest of the story while standing just in the living room, while the others crowded around, not letting him sit down and rest. He was used to that by now. The Weasley’s loved excitement as long as it didn’t’ directly involve them.

“Where’s Arthur?”

“He stayed at the Ministry to give an interview on what he saw. I decided to come back here.”

“What your father must think, getting you into trouble.”

“I am sure it would have found me where ever I was at. At least I had other adults around to protect me.”

“Yes. Come you must be hungry. You missed lunch. I saved you plenty.” Molly ushered him into the kitchen. A few minutes after he sat down and started to eat, Charlie came in. He had a letter in his hand.

“Dumbledore sent a letter. He wants Harry back at school. It seems that he feels that Harry will be safer there until his court date.” Charlie set the letter down on the table and then sat down beside Harry.

“He wants me close because he thinks that he can control Father.” Harry sighed as he glanced at the letter.

“Yes, I think so as well. I have copied the letter over and sent it to your father. I have the original with me. Now is the time where Fudge and Dumbledore will start to pull you farther and farther to each side.”

“They won’t get me. Bridges have been burned and they won’t be fixed. They don’t truly take me seriously yet but they will.” Harry finished his lunch and looked out one of the kitchen windows. It was a perfect summer day outside and Harry wanted to go outside. It wasn’t safe though. He knew that. He probably wouldn’t be allowed outside until his father said it was safe.

Harry didn’t react to anything said to him and slowly, everyone but Charlie disappeared from the kitchen. Charlie just sat beside him while Harry looked out the window, watching everything and taking in nothing.

Several hours later, an owl arrived with a letter for Harry. He didn’t really move just pulled the letter off the owl’s foot and handed it to Charlie. Charlie opened it and read it aloud to Harry.

Dear Mr. Potter,
Further to our letter of approximately seven hours ago, the Ministry of Magic has revised its decision to destroy your wand forthwith. You may retain your wand until your disciplinary hearing on 12th August, at which time an official decision will be taken. Your wand will be returned to you in the morning. Following discussions with the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the Ministry has agreed that the question of your expulsion will also be decided at that time. You should therefore consider yourself suspended from school pending further inquiries.
With best wishes,
Yours sincerely,
Mafalda Hopkirk
improper use of magic office
Ministry of Magic

“Seems Dumbledore is trying to not have your wand destroyed. He is fighting Fudge on your behalf.”

“Only because he thinks that I will think he actually cares about me that he can protect me. I will write him a letter thanking him for his interference.”

“Just be careful,” Charlie said as stood up and left the kitchen. Harry could do with a few minutes alone to think. The house was safe for him.

xXxXxXx

Severus looked up at the house that sat on the hill. He knew it from Harry’s memories and had decided it was the best place to start his search. Dumbledore wanted to send Harry, Ron, and Hermione on the Horcrux search but Severus wanted to destroy them before they even became an issue.

First was the Gaunt house. Severus was unsure what it would hold anything but he had to look. When he opened the door to the house, he could feel it. It was in everything in the building, every nail, board, and item in the house. Severus let his magic take him to the item.

He found it on the floor. Almost like it had been forgotten but he knew it hadn’t. It was there on purpose. His quest was starting off good. One of the four had been found. It wasn’t destroyed yet but those means lied at the castle. Severus picked up the ring using a stick and placed it in a bag he had made for this purpose. It was the size of a tennis ball and had a concealed enlargement charm on it. It had plenty of others spells on it as well.

Months of research paid off. He was pretty sure he knew where the locket was. That cave needed more thought before trying to get inside of it. He was sure he knew what the Ravenclaw item was but he didn’t know where it was. Hufflepuff’s Cup was in the Lestrange Vault at Gringotts and that was going to take a lot of planning to get into.

Chapter Fifty Two-Reinforcements
The next morning, Arthur had finally come back late in the night. He had brought Harry’s wand with him. Harry was the first awake other than him.

“What are your plans?”

“I think that I should keep those to myself for the time being. I don’t want to put you in a position, Arthur. I have to make sure we are all safe. With Father away on errands for Dumbledore, I have to make those decisions.”

“You are still a child. You shouldn’t have to but I understand that you need to. I am here and so is Molly if you need us.”

“I am glad you decided to shop for the essentials for school before the rush. If we hadn’t the Dementors would have found me here. That wouldn’t have been good. The Ministry could have made up whatever story they wanted.”

“Yes. Molly is just waiting for the letters to get the rest of the items. I know that we are proud and that we don’t have much money but with Ron growing like he is, Severus giving us the room and board for you is a help.”

“He knows how much I eat. Rook our main House Elf used to shop once a week when I was home. Now it’s twice. We never want me to be a burden with your family, Arthur. That is the only reason that he demands that he pays you room and board for me. He knows you would do it for free but his moral obligation and mine makes us want to pay. They are closing down our house. We have been there too long and he feels it not safe. Once the House Elves are done with that, they will be going to one of the Potter houses and taking up staff there. Except for Zook. Zook will be coming here. Father wants me with an out if needed. Dumbledore and Fudge both know where I am right now.”

“Molly might now like it but she will have to live with it.”

“Zook is a rather odd elf. He is Rook’s cousin from another Wizarding Family. He can’t clean with a spit. The family had no children and Zook loved children. Father took him in when Rook asked if he could. The family turned him loose so that they wouldn’t have to look at him look at children. Father trained him in defense and such and had him learn what herbs to pick. To keep him busy.”

“So are Rook and Zook Potter House Elves?”

“No, Rook was a gift from Lucius several years after the first down fall of Voldemort. He took in Zook two years before he took in me. When Severus came home with me, he sent the House Elves away. Severus was scared that someone would find out about me. One time when Severus was visiting the Manor and checking on the elves, Zook felt my magical signature on him and went home. Severus was mad when he found out but there wasn’t much he could do. Zook had bonded with me. That was when he found out that Lucius was no longer allied with Voldemort. I didn’t know it then but the old man in the village that would sometimes watch me was him, under Polyjuice.”

“I see. There really is no separating you, is there?”

“No. When I leave Father’s home, Zook will be going with me. He will probably clean my room and the rest of the families. He got very good at picking up things but cleaning spells…it’s best to not let him.”

Arthur laughed and looked up as Charlie entered the room.

“Charlie, just who I was waiting on. Do you think that I could talk to your son in private, Arthur?”

Arthur nodded and motioned for Charlie to sit in his seat at the table. Harry looked at the wall and saw it was still a while before the others got up. Charlie poured himself a cup of tea and one for Harry before he sat down.

“What do you need?”

“I need to go to France and talk to Sirius and Remus. I have already cleared it with Father and I have also got us the International Portkey. We leave in five minutes and our return is five hours after that. Sirius and Remus are expecting us.”

Charlie didn’t answer at first. Instead he just stared out a window, sipping his tea. After a few minutes he turned back to Harry.

“And if I had said no?”

Harry laughed and took a drink of his tea. “Then I would have gone alone and you would have had to face my father’s wrath.”

Charlie laughed and set his tea down, empty. He patted his pockets down and then looked at Harry. “I am ready. Your father sent me a letter. He figured you would spring it on me. Write a letter to Mom and Dad, I don’t want them thinking we were taken away from here.”

Harry nodded and pulled a letter out of his pocket, and then he reached in and pulled out a second and walked it over to the fire. He tossed it inside.

“The one if I didn’t go?”

Harry just nodded and pulled a spoon out of his pocket. Charlie stood up and walked over and took the other end of the spoon. It was under and minute and they were on their way to France. They arrived in a small room in the Wizarding English Consulate.

“We can Apparate directly from here. The return Port Key will take us back to the Burrow.”

“Whom did you clear this with?” Charlie asked before he grabbed Harry’s hand to Apparate them away. They appeared on the front porch of Sirius and Remus’s house.

“The French Minister. He loved the ground I walk on after the Triwizard Tournament. Because of me two French citizens were saved in that Tournament. Or at least he thinks that. He also is happy that he knows of the return of Voldemort.” Harry reached up to knock and instead the door was pulled open.

“I told you they were here, Padfoot. Come inside quick.” Remus held the door open and ushered them in. Harry hugged him tight. Remus looked at Charlie who just shrugged.

“What was so important pup that you had to drag me out of bed so early and risk being caught yourself?” Sirius asked. He was standing in the doorway to the kitchen. Harry ran over and hugged him.

“I need both of your help with a situation. Father spotted several Aurors in the surrounding villages where we live. Father is having the house closed down and he is going to stay at Hogwarts for the rest of the summer, or at least Dumbledore thinks.”

“What about you?” Remus asked.

“I am staying at the Burrow.”

“Severus sent us a letter about what happened yesterday. Dementors?” Sirius stepped out of the doorway and ushered them all into the kitchen. Remus had breakfast ready and already plated up for all four of them. Harry sat down and smiled his thanks to him. Charlie thanked him verbally and tucked in.

“That is why I need your help. We can’t stay at any of the Potter properties. Father had none that would be safe form Dumbledore or Voldemort.”

“You want to use Grimmauld Place?” Sirius asked around a mouth full of food.

Harry nodded and he took a drink of tea to wash down the food in his mouth. “Father thinks it will be safest. He also wants to use the Fidelius Charm on it.”

“Who would be the secret keeper?”

“Remus.”

“But I am here in France.”

“We want you both to come back. The situation has changed with the resurrection of Voldemort. There are now technically four active sides in this war. Voldemort is keeping a low profile. Even with four wizards giving testament to his return, Fudge has kept it all out of the press. Only the other students even know and most of them don’t believe it, not truly.”

“Why should we come back?” Sirius asked sitting back in his chair, his food forgot about.

“As helpers. I know that you won’t be able to sit idly by, Sirius but Remus would be safer in the house. We want him to be secret keeper and only under very rare instances leave. We need a place to house all those who help us. Malfoy Manor would be best but Lucius still needs to appear a Death Eater for the time being. Father had talked with the French Minister of Magic and he would provide a Wizard detail to make it seem you are still here. Including a few who would use Polyjuice to act as you coming and going. Just to fool Dumbledore should he get nosy.”

“And what would I do all day?” Sirius asked.

“Help Severus look for Voldemort’s Horcruxes. He wants to destroy them long before Voldemort is back at full strength. He wants Remus to help with doing the book research and you to help with the leg work.”

“I see.” Sirius said as he looked at Remus who just smiled back at him.

“We are already packed and ready to go. We figured you would need us back there instead of here with the return of Voldemort. We can leave in half and hour”

xXxXxXx

The entire Weasley family was sitting in the Burrow’s living room, except for Percy. He had already shown that he would never side with Harry in anything.

“Thank you all for coming to talk to me. I want to talk to you about your sides in the upcoming war. When I start back at Hogwarts, the first battle will start to be waged. I already have an Inner Circle at school. Those I can count on to protect me and help me. I need to know that I have such a group out here.”

“Harry of course we support you.” Molly said looking at her family.

“I know that but I have to know that you also don’t support Dumbledore. I know where your allegiance lied in the last war. If I am to go ahead with my plans then I need to know you support me above all else.”

“What about protection?” Bill asked from the back of the room.

“That is being put in place as we speak, a location that no one can find and that will be under the Fidelius Charm and its secret keeper inside its walls. By the time we finish here it will be ready for you all to move into. You will not be prisoners. Instead you will all help us defeat Voldemort the only way that we know how.”

“We have to…” Arthur started but was interrupted by Bill and Charlie standing up and moving to stand beside Harry. Ron and Ginny were next and then the twins. Arthur looked at Molly who then looked at Harry.

“I can’t promise that they won’t be hurt, but I can promise that I will do all I can to make sure they live through this war.”

Molly stood up and hugged Harry.

“Of course we will go.

xXxXxXx

“You will have my eternal thanks, Libby.” Severus said to the House Elf was lying on the rocky ground of the seaside cave. He was holding her hand as she took her last few breaths.

“To die to save Masters is all I need.”

“Masters?”

“Master Draco and Master Harry. They is such nice boys. So in love. Master Lucius explained it all to me. You need to get this to destroy the evil man. Libby is glad to have died for such a noble cause and not waste away on a bed. If only all House Elves could die this way.”

“Are you in pain?” Severus asked as he wiped a few tears away from his eyes. Libby smiled at him and wiped away another.

“Libby is beyond pain now. I have not been pain free for years. You love him much.”

“I love him more than I ever thought I could.”

“That love will save you, Master Severus.”

“I am not your Master, Libby.”

“I call you Master because you deserve it,” Libby gasped as she closed her eyes. Severus waited as she took her last breath and then he closed her eyes and folded her arms across her chest. He laid her in the boat and set across the water once again. He pulled the locket out of his jacket pocket and looked at it. There was no evil presence around it. It was a fake. Severus pried it open and out felt a piece of paper. Severus picked it up and read, a smile forming over his face.

“You didn’t die in vain Libby. I know where it is. I will find it and destroy it. Regulus was smart. Smarter than all of us gave him credit.”

Chapter Fifty Three-Grimmauld Place
Harry entered Grimmauld Place with all of his things from his house. He could hear yelling in the kitchen. It was Sirius and Remus but he didn’t hear anybody else.

“I don’t care.”

“If you want me to live here with you then you will be nice.”

“I will treat him how I want. He is my House Elf.”

“And all he needs is you to give him things to do and he will be better. Give him a reason to like you. You are the only family that he has left. You can change him.”

“What if I don’t want to?”

“He is your responsibly. When your mother and the rest of your family died, he became your responsibility. If you can’t take care of him then you should make sure he finds another home.”

“I…” Sirius stopped and didn’t say anything else. Harry opened the door again and shut it, making sure they could hear it. Seconds later, Sirius and Remus exited the kitchen and hugged Harry.

“Got all your things?”

“Yes. Zook will be by in an hour.”

“And he is going to stay here?” Remus asked.

“Yes. He will only take care of what you ask. He’s not good at doing much cleaning. Only really good doing bedroom cleaning. I am afraid he is not a normal House Elf.”

“He takes care of you though.”

“Yes, he does.”

“We’ve got all the rooms picked out. You are going to get a room to yourself but the Weasley boys will have to share a large room. Remus widened it for them. The five of them should be comfortable. Molly and Arthur will be in mother’s room. Of course Remus and I are sharing my room. Hermione and Ginny are sharing Regulus’s room. There are still two rooms left for others if they come.”

“What about father?” Harry asked. He picked up his backpack and hiked it onto his shoulder.

“If there is no other room, there will be room with you but I don’t see him staying the night.” Sirius grabbed the rest of Harry’s things and motioned for Harry to follow him. Harry wondered at the state of the house. He had seen pictures that his own House Elves has sent from the Potter houses. None of them looked like this. Harry was surprised when he got to his room and it was in the same condition.

“What’s wrong with the house?” Harry asked Remus who was just behind him in the hallway.

“Kreacher, the only House Elf here. He has been alone these many years and without a purpose. I hope that Sirius gives him a purpose. When Zook arrives, we will set the Charm on the house. As of know no one knows we are here. I want to keep it that way, in order to hide better. Dumbledore will not think to search for us in such a short time. Your father has set many other wards on the house. He will be stopping by tonight when he gets done with Dumbledore. We will have a note set for him at a pre-approved spot so that he can gain access to the house.”

“Sounds like you guys got it all planned. What about the Weasley’s?”

“I will be going with you to get them. I will tell them where the house is and then leave so that I am at risk for a very short time. They will bring you back. Everyone who is in the house will know where it is at but not be able to tell anyone. If I were to die, then you and Sirius would become secret keepers, based on the version of the Charm we are using.”

“I see. I will have Zook work on my room as soon as he gets here. You are sure that he came come in?”

“House Elves are able to pass through the Charms if their Master is inside of them. He will be safe, don’t worry. While we are waiting on him, I want to go down and discuss the plans for the trial. We have to make sure that you are safe. Your father has left notes on what he thinks will go on.”

Harry set down his bag and followed Remus out of the room. Sirius was in the hall. He was talking to Kreacher.

“We need this house cleaned up. We are going to have a lot of people moving in over the next while. Please clean as much as you can daily. I will have Zook, my Godson’s House Elf do the shopping if you make lists. Can you do that Kreacher?”

“Yes, Master. I can. Did you see what Master Snape gave me?” Kreacher held up a locket and Sirius smiled at him. Judging by the smile on Sirius’s face, Harry figured that Sirius knew what it was. Harry didn’t. Kreacher walked off and Sirius looked up at Remus and Harry.

“I got a letter from Snape. I found out that Kreacher has been wearing a Horcrux since Regulus died. Since he swapped it out with him last night, Kreacher has been acting better. I will try to act nice to him as long as he acts nice to me.”

A pop in the kitchen has Sirius turn around swiftly and drawing his wand at the same time.

“Master Harry!” Zook yelled from the kitchen. Harry sighed in relief and Sirius put up his wand.

“He’s early. I am sorry I reacted like that. I will be happy when we get this Charm done. I don’t like being here in England. I want to just run away. Dumbledore makes my skin crawl.”

“Now that Zook is here we can do the Charm.” Remus smiled as he patted Sirius on the back. He passed Sirius and started down the steps so that they could all go to the kitchen and start the Charm.

xXxXxXx

Harry sat in the kitchen and watched as Remus and Sirius cleaned up after the Charm. They were putting the kitchen back to rights. The magic in the room had been so strong that everything had been blown back away from them as they had cast the spell. Once they had gotten the room clean they were going to discuss what they were going to do as far as the trial went.

“Who is going to take me?”

“We figured that Arthur would take you. He is the logical choice. Severus is going to stay at Hogwarts. He doesn’t want Dumbledore to try and out him as your father.” Sirius sat down as he answered. He propped his feet up on the table just long enough for Remus to smack them off again. Sirius made a hurt sound but kept his feet down. Harry smiled. It was easy being around them.

“I had hoped that as well.”

“He is going to take you and then bring you back to the Burrow where you will Floo to another place and then Portkey here. I have already set it all up. The French Minister gave me the Portkey.”

“What about the proof we need to prove that I didn’t cast a spell. The Ministry will never allow me to state that there is no watch on me and no way to tell who casts spells inside of a house.” Remus sat down beside Harry on the opposite side of where Sirius was. That way he had an adult on either side of him.

“Most of the country knows that you have no trace on you but it depends on what they would actually try and charge you with. I guess most everything will depend on that.”

“Yes, it would depend greatly. I don’t understand where there have been no other formal charges. Usually there is paperwork and the like. I wonder if this is on Fudge trying to trap you into something. I’ve been looking at your case and they have nothing against you.”

“Why hasn’t Dumbledore tried to contact me more? I was sure that he would have by now. I wonder what his game is.”

“I don’t know. He might be trying to find a place for his Order. Years ago he wanted to us Grimmauld Place if I ever got control of it. With me getting out of Azkaban and being free and clear, he can’t access it.”

“So where is he going to go?”

“I think the only safe place he can go is Hogwarts. It’s safe and secure.”

Harry nodded and leaned back in a little. He wasn’t scared. He was going to come out in the trial and be in a good spot or he wasn’t. If he wasn’t then he would go to France.

“I am going to leave my wand here when I leave. I don’t want to run the chance of them taking it away from me if it goes south.”

“Understandable,” Remus smiled as he stood up. “It’s about time to go and get the Weasley’s.”

xXxXxXx

Severus entered his lab at Hogwarts. He was brewing a set of pain potions for the Hospital Wing. The stores were almost full but were lacking the pain potions.

He needed a plan to get into and out of the Lestrange Vault without anyone seeing him. He is sure that there is a Horcrux in the Vault. He is pretty sure that it is the Cup of Hufflepuff.

“Severus, I wanted to talk to you about Mr. Potter’s upcoming trial.”

“His solicitor is who you need to be talking to. He is bringing up the defense as we speak.”

“I see and you won’t talk to me about it?”

“No, Albus I won’t.”

“I could put your job on the line.”

“And then you would have to explain to Fudge why you let your little Death Eater go. I know about the deal that you did back then. I was to be hired on here so that I could be watched for signs of going back to my Death Eater ways.”

“And when did you figure that out, my boy?”

“Lucius Malfoy told me about it. I decided that it was better than being in Azkaban so I never mentioned it or questioned it. Now I have to go and get a few ingredients for my sixth years. They are being held for me in Diagon Alley.” Severus tapped the cauldron in front of him and the contents disappeared. “Tell Poppy that is the strong version. She needs to give the students half as much as normal.”

Severus walked out of the room and rushed to the exit of the castle. He wanted to be gone before Albus could think to follow him, the second he was off the school property, he Apparated away. He went straight to Diagon Alley and did go into the local Apothecary. There was a good chance that someone was following him. He went to the back room where the wet ingredients were stored and slipped out.

It took him only a few seconds to change his robe to a green robe and set off for Gringotts. When he entered he went to the side room where the special cases were handled. For transactions that could never be heard spoken in the general public. There was a goblin waiting for him

“Yes, Mr. Snape?”

“I am here for my check of the Lestrange Vault.”

“Yes. I was told by the Head that I should be expecting your arrival in the past two to future six months. You take your care of the Lestrange Vault with the utmost care. I am sure that you want to make sure that no one sees you?”

“The Ministry seems touchy about those who take care of the Vaults of the Death Eaters that are in jail.”

“We will go at once. I just need to collect the paperwork that you need to sign upon leaving the vault.”

Severus waited for the Goblin to come back and when he did the Goblin opened the door at the back of the room and entered the cart. The trip was done in silence and Severus was glad for it. He touched an inner pocket of his robes and sighed.

“I am still allowed to go in by myself, correct?” Severus asked as he exited the cart when it stopped.

“Mrs. Lestrange was very explicit. You are to have run of the Vault and are allowed to take up to two hundred and fifty galleons a year for expenses of which you have never done.”

“I don’t mind helping a friend.”

Severus smiled at the Goblin as the door opened. He entered and the door was pulled shut behind him. He looked around the Vault and found the Cup. Since was on the list of people able to access the Vault he was able to touch things. He picked up the Cup and set it down on the floor. He reached into his robe and pulled out a Basilisk fang. He raised it and stuck the cup with it. A scream started to erupt from the Cup and then blood started to pour out of it. Within seconds the screaming stopped and the cup was left a mangled heap on the floor.

Smiling, Severus stood up and stepped up to the door. It opened immediately and he walked out. The Goblin was waiting for him and motioned for him to get into the cart.

Once back in the main area, Severus left and never looked back. It would be a long time before anyone noticed it.

Chapter Fifty Four-Safe and Protected
“Harry!” Molly practically yelled as Harry and Remus entered the Burrow. She rushed over to hug Harry. “We are all ready and were just waiting for you to arrive.”

“Where is everyone?”

“In the living room waiting. Better for making sure no ears are around.”

“Are we sure about Percy?” Harry asked as they moved to the living room.

“He stands with Fudge. He is scared as well. I wish that I had raised a brave son but he cares for more his life than that of others. He thinks that you are crazy. I don’t know what Fudge has him believing. I am being watched at the Ministry as well.” Arthur said as he stepped forward to shake Remus’s hand.

“I welcome you all to my home at Number 12 Grimmauld Place.” Remus smiled as he spoke and once he had uttered the last syllable, he Apparated away. Harry laughed at his antics.

“They really don’t like being back in England. Sirius is so scared that he is going to be taken and forced to make me give in to either Fudge or Dumbledore. Sirius will leave the house if he is in his dog form but Remus doesn’t want to leave at all.”

“They both love you so much,” Charlie said. He motioned for Harry to come over to him. Ginny moved over to stand with Molly while Ron went over to Bill. “Harry, we are going to go last. Just to be safe. If for some reason that it is unsafe, Father is going to come back.”

“Be safe.” Arthur Apparated away and then Molly and Ginny followed. The twins went next and then Bill and Ron. When no one came back, Charlie grabbed Harry’s shoulder. The crash from the kitchen made Charlie stop. It was a few seconds and an Auror entered the living room, before the Auror could react, Bill Apparated away. The only thing the Auror saw was Harry waving at him before they were gone.

Harry was breathing hard when they landed in Grimmauld Place.

“Aurors, Dad. They crashed through the kitchen. One saw us before we got away.”

“Then they know that we are all some place safe. I will have to be careful at work. I will start to use the Apparition site a block away than the Floo. It will be safer.”

“We will all have to be safer.”

“What about you two and your jobs?” Remus asked looking at Charlie and Bill.

“I’ve been stationed back here at Gringotts,” Bill said as he sat down at the kitchen table. Charlie stayed with his hand on Harry’s shoulder.

“I’ve taken a sabbatical from work. I’ve been approved for it. My boss has decided that if there is a war to come in England then I need to be here. He is working a minimum crew there for that reason.”

“What are you going to do in the mean time?”

“I have a job that starts on September 1st. Security for Hogsmeade. Severus got me the job. My boss was very happy that I would be able to protect the school.”

“He’s understanding.” Molly sighed as she spoke.

“He’s one of Severus’s friends. Severus has many in a lot of places and they will be protecting those who need protecting. In this case, my boss found that I would be watching Harry and very much wanted me gone, in a way.”

“Snape has friends?” Ron asked looking at Charlie in shock, then he looked at Harry.

“Of course, he has a lot of friends. Some powerful some not but in war both are important.”

“Harry, how can anybody stand to be around him, he’s so mean?” Ginny asked. Once the words left his mouth, Harry and Charlie started to laugh.

“Because he has put on an act for years, Dumbledore could not suspect anything. He was and will always be a master spy. How else can he go to Voldemort and live through it.”

“You mean he went back there. He’s prostrating himself in front of that monster?” Ron asked. Harry didn’t give a verbal answer; he just nodded his head and looked in the direction of the front door. Ron seeing that the talk was upsetting Harry changed his questions. “When is Hermione coming over?”

“In about three hours. Her parents are going to drop her off. I’ve got a letter for her. I’ll met her outside.”

“Is that safe?” Molly asked.

“Yes, for now it is safe. In a few days it won’t be. I am sure that when we can’t be found, Fudge or Dumbledore or both will start to check out Grimmauld Place,” Sirius said as he moved around the kitchen preparing a light meal for everyone. It was just sandwiches but it would be enough for everyone.

xXxXxXx

Harry woke up the next morning feeling good. He had slept well even though he wasn’t at home. He could hear Zook’s snores on the other side of the room. Hedwig was on his bedpost. He couldn’t tell what noise had woken him up but there was something. Then he heard it; Hedwig was making the noise she did when she had a letter for him. Harry reached out and pulled on his glasses. A quiet Lumos had his wand lighting up. Harry turned on the lamp on the bedside and extinguished his wand. He cast a few spells and found nothing dark on the letter.

“It is safe, Master Harry. I is just checking it.”

Harry jumped a little. He hadn’t even noticed that Zook was no longer snoring. Harry nodded at him and then opened the letter.

Harry,

I must state again that you will be safer with me. I have been to your solicitor and he will not discuss your case with me at all. If I don’t know everything about your defense how can I help you in this?

I know that your father has poisoned you against me but you must see that only I can help you. You are a very good person and are very competent but even you cannot be strong all the time. You must protect yourself and only I can do that. The school is the only safe place for you. Harry, I would hate to see your mother’s sacrifice be thrown in her face by you dying before you do what you need to do. You are too important to trust those who cannot protect you.

Your father may love you but he cannot protect you. I implore you to head my advice. Only if you abandon your father can I protect you from the coming trial.

You must make the best decision. Think hard

Your Protector Always,
Albus Dumbledore.

Harry sighed as he finished the letter. Dumbledore was becoming a pest and a thorn in his side. Harry crumpled the letter and threw it down on the floor. He stared at the offending lettered for a few seconds before it went up in flames. Zook squeaked but stayed on his little bed on the other side of the room.

“Master upset?” Zook asked.

“It’s Dumbledore. I just really wished he would look beyond his nose. He really thinks that he can protect me better than Severus. Every single year under his nose I am attacked.” Harry stopped and smiled before getting up out of the bed. He quickly dressed. He was out the door before Zook could do anything.

“Good morning,” a voice said behind him. Harry grinned as he turned around. Sitting at the kitchen table was Severus. Harry waved at him before sitting down at the table himself. He set down the pen and paper he had grabbed from his room and started to write. “What are you writing?”

“A letter to Dumbledore.”

“Harry.”

“He wrote me first, Father. I will write back as I see fit. I won’t be mean and I won’t make him too mad.”

“I have a letter for you.” Severus pulled a letter from his coat pocket and set it on the table but he didn’t take his hand off of it. Harry reached for it but Severus pulled it back. “This letter is to be seen by nobody. I know part of what is in it. You cannot let wind of how far your friendship has gone. While they accept him now, they may not with those tidbits tossed in.”

“I would hope that they accept it as what it is.”

“Do you want to test that, Harry? With them all living here under this roof, being around them all the time.”

“Yes.”

“Then just hold off until I say. I promise that I will come back soon. Between the Dark Lord and Dumbledore, my time to sneak off is small.”

“I know. I just want you to be safe.”

“And I will be if I know that you are not doing something decidedly Gryffindor.”

Harry glared at Severus before he bent down to his letter.

Dear Headmaster,

I fail to see how you can keep me safe. I have been attacked at your school every single year that I have gone there but in my father’s care at home I have never been attacked. While I understand your wanting to protect me you need to look past your own arrogance and see that I am safe where I am. The less who know where I am, the better.

Sincerely,
Harry Potter

xXxXxXx

Severus arrived back Hogwarts after talking to Harry in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place. He was still having mixed feelings about how the Weasley’s will take Harry and Draco as a couple. It was one thing to be friends with a Slytherin but to have a relationship with one.

“Severus, how are you doing?” Flitwick asked as he passed Severus in the hall.

“Fine Filius, how are you doing?”

“Very good. Is Harry settling in well?”

“Good. He is quite happy where he is.”

Flitwick didn’t answer just kept walking. Severus smiled to himself. He kept walking until he was on the lower levels of the school. There he found a very old ghost that most had never run across. All that could be seen were red eyes in the dark.

“Have you found it?”

“No,” came the hoarse whispered reply from the black. “But I know who knows where it is.”

Severus waited but no more was given.

“Who?”

“Helena.” The eyes closed and reopened before disappearing.

Severus stood up and looked around, hoping those eyes would come back.

“Helena? Hel…Ravenclaw.”

Severus turned and started to run. Since there were no students in the school, Severus could get away with running to get to where he wanted to be. He found the Gray Lady floating at the base of Ravenclaw tower.

“Professor Snape, how may I help you?” she asked kindly.

“I have come to ask you a few questions.”

“Then please go ahead.”

“I need knowledge of where something is and I think that you can help me.”

“If I can, I will.”

“I am sure that you know who Tom Riddle became. Riddle wanted to live forever and when he found a way to do that he wanted something from each of the Founders and used to create Horcruxes.”

“He turned my mother’s diadem into a Horcrux?”

“I am not sure but did he know where it was?”

The Gray Lady didn’t verbally answer instead she just nodded her head. Then she faded away. Severus let his shoulders slump. The Dark Lord could have hidden it anywhere in the world. He had placed others all over. Severus started to walk back to his labs. Halfway there a thought hit him. Riddle had come back to the school. He could have hidden the diadem anywhere. He wanted it to be safe, in a school full of kids, what place would be safe.

“The Room of Requirement.” Severus looked around after he spoke to make sure no one was about when he was sure no one was, he turned and started to climb the stairs.

It took two hours of going through the room to find the diadem. Touching it made his skin crawl. He exited the room and set the diadem on the floor. He pulled out his wand and cast Fiend Fyre on the diadem. Once the Horcrux was destroyed, he put out the Fyre.

“You are not helping him by fighting his battles for him,” Dumbledore said from behind Severus. Severus didn’t turn around.

“I am not fighting his battles for him. I am doing what should have been done the second that you figured out that he was creating Horcruxes. These could have been destroyed at any time by you or by the Aurors. I don’t know why you saved them for a child to find.”

“It is his destiny and was the only way I knew to stop him from becoming like Tom.”

“There were other ways. Better way but you are an old fool. Harry is mine to protect and I will protect him until I die.”

“And who will protect him after you do die?”

Severus didn’t answer just walked away from where Dumbledore stood with the blackened diadem on the ground where it had been in the Fiend Fyre.

Chapter Fifty Five-Trial
Harry closed up his letter to Dumbledore and then smiled at the letter that was in his pant pocket. He had put it there once Severus has left. He set the mail into the stack of other mail that Arthur would drop off at the post office when he went to work that morning. He set about getting himself some breakfast and then with plate in hand went back to his room.

He sat down on his bed and opened the letter.

Harry,

I am writing to you as I hear Father and Mother are discussing what we are to do this year. Father is hiding his duplicity with the Dark Lord for now but he will not be able to for the long run. Severus has trained him much but there is the chance of a mistake.

I know that your trial is coming up. I know that you are prepared for it but please keep your mouth in check. I want to keep that mouth where it is of most use to me and in Azkaban is not the place.

If you end up there or with your wand snapped, I will be very displeased with you. I would hate to have to be the only one able to get a job when we are older.

Forever Yours,
Draco Malfoy

Harry laughed at the letter. It was what he needed to get through what was coming up. Harry looked around his room and found a small box that he had been given by his father for a birthday years before, once something was inside only he could remove it. It was where he kept all things precious to him. Once the letter was secure he set about picking up his clothes from the night before. He set them in the basket so that Zook could wash them at his leisure.

xXxXxXx

The morning of the trial dawned quickly for Harry. He was dressed and ready to go an hour before they were set to leave. Severus had been at the house the morning before and had told them that they may want to arrive two hours early just on the off chance they tried something. When he went downstairs to eat breakfast, Arthur was waiting on him in the kitchen.

Molly put a plate of food in front of him and he quietly ate it. He wasn’t nervous, just ready to get the hearing over with. Taking a cue that Harry didn’t want to talk, both adults kept quiet. When Harry was done eating he stayed at the table. Sirius and Remus joined them just before they were getting ready to leave.

“Keep cool, Harry, don’t let Fudge get to you.” Remus gave him a hug and then he sat down at the table.

“Just don’t let then throw you in jail. Do whatever you have to do to not get thrown in jail.”

“Father has already given me a way out of the court room if it gets that bad. He thinks that France will be a nice place to live.”

“He always has plans.”

Harry and Arthur left the kitchen and made their way to the front door. They exited and started to walk to the underground station. The trains were empty of the normal commuters as it was too early for most. It wasn’t long before they were at the visitor’s entrance for the Ministry.

It was only because of Arthur that Harry was able to make it to the room where the trial was taking place. They were many hours early but there were still a lot of people running around the Ministry. One lady stopped to stare at them.

“Weasley? Potter’s hearing has been changed to Courtroom 10 and it starts in a half an hour. You best hurry.”

A flurry of action from Arthur had Harry practically running after him as they went back to the lifts. It was several minutes before the lift stopped and they exited. The area they were now in, Harry knew was the place where the Death Eater trials had taken place.

“The entire Wizengamot? I am being tried in front of the entire Wizengamot.” Running steps stopped Harry from saying anymore. He turned to find Mr. Bromley running up to him.

“I am sorry Harry; I tried to contact you via Floo just after you have left. We weren’t able to find you. I am glad you found out about the changes. I am lodging a formal complaint on your behalf before the Solicitors board. This is highly unheard for a case of underage magic where it has never been broken before. Especially since it was in a Wizarding location.”

The doors opened and Percy stepped out.

“Since all parties are here we might as well start. Please come in.”

“Our witnesses were not made aware of the time change in the manner in which they should have. We are still waiting on them. They will be here for the new time, I assure you. Since the Ministry is the one who changed the time, you have to give our people up until the old time for them to arrive.”

“I will let the Wizengamot know this.” Percy stepped back into the room, pulling the doors shut. Harry looked at Bromley.

“Is that wise?”

“Actually, yes. This is the code of the law. They have to stand by the law just as we do. These laws were put into place so that the Ministry couldn’t strong arm people into positions where they got less than the best hearing possible.”

“I see. I just want this done with.”

Bromley sat down with Harry in a set of chairs that he conjured for them.

“Harry, I need to get to my job. Please send word with how the trial is. I mean the second you are done.”

“I will.”

After twenty minutes, the twenty people who were witnesses finally arrived and the doors opened once again. Harry entered the room and looked at the people who he had to convince of his innocence.

“You are late.”

“That is the courts fault. You are supposed to give notice of change of time twelve hours in advance and you did not. Mr. Potter was in route when the notice was sent to his home.”

“Let us get this started,” Fudge cleared his throat and looked at those on either side of him. “Disciplinary hearing of the twelfth of August into offenses committed under the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery by Harry James Potter, residence unknown. Interrogators: Cornelius Oswald Fudge, Minister of Magic; Amelia Susan Bones, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement; Dolores Jane Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister. Court Scribe, Percy Ignatius Weasley. Solicitor Donald Bromley and witnesses for the defense to be named as they are called. Is counsel ready to render their stance?”

“Harry James Potter holds that he is innocent of the crimes for which he is being accused of.”

“Do you have sufficient evidence to prove this?”

“Yes.”

“Then let’s start this hearing.”

Harry listened as witness after witness was called. Back and forth it went with the Wizengamot and Bromley calling them to show their own points of view.

“The Defense calls Rufus Scrimgeour.” Rufus stood up from stands behind Harry and walked next to him. Harry turned and smiled at him.

“Scrimgeour was not present at the time of the incident, what evidence can he give?”

“I did the post incident examination of Mr. Potter’s wand. I found what the last spell cast was. I examined all of the witness statements and found that none saw a wolf, which is what Mr. Potter’s Patronus is and none saw any shapeless Patronus’ at the scene. The last spell cast by Mr. Potter’s wand was a shirking charm. I found evidence to support this.”

“Very well. You are dismissed. We still have found no reason for those Dementors to be in Diagon Alley at that time.”

“That is not ours to confirm,” Bromley moved back to where he was standing beside Harry. “Ours is to bring evidence supporting Mr. Potter’s innocence.”

“It has been brought to the attention of the Wizengamot that Mr. Potter might have summoned them to Diagon Alley to prove that his claim about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is true.”

“Where is your evidence to prove that?”

“There are no Dementors that are outside of Ministry control, and to have several attack a specific place stand to reason that someone sent them there.”

“Who gave you this?”

“What do you mean?”

“To accuse Mr. Potter of this and not have it in his pretrial information means that it is new and since anything from the Wizengamot itself has to be released to me, that means that someone else told you and today.”

“This information was given to us by Headmaster Dumbledore of the Hogwarts School.”

“And where is his proof?”

“He has given us documentation of some things that has happened at the school.”

Bromley and Harry sat and listened to everything that had happened to Harry at school. Harry was frowning but Bromley was smiling. Harry wondered what was going on.

“This to me seems that the Headmaster is having troubles with his teachers and choosing the right ones. Mr. Potter was saving his own life when the adults around him failed. From what has been told us there was several times that Mr. Potter went to those in charge and were sent away.”

Murmurs rose in the stands behind Fudge. He looked at those around him that he could see.

“I guess the Wizengamot and the Governors have some things to go over in the time to come. There is another claim which I am sure you are wondering why we have not started.”

“Yes, you wish to declare Mr. Potter legally insane. I wish to know the basis of these claims.”

“Who else would declare a man alive when there is no proof that he is alive?”

“There has been ample memory evidence given for this.”

“Yes, we received copies of these memories from Cedric Diggory, Fleur Delacour, and Viktor Krum. Their home governments have been submitting weekly requests that we look into this. I still don’t see how they can think that he has come back.”

“That is not my question to answer. I on the other hand have to submit that more information and better cause is needed. You have no Healer giving statement that they consider him insane. If you have no basis then, I think that the Wizengamot should vote. We stand by what we have said.”

Madame Bones cleared her throat and looked at the people around her. “Those in favor of clearing the accused of all charges?” Harry watched as over three fourths of the people in the stands raised their hands. Harry smiled. “And those in favor of conviction?” The few who were left raised their hands.

“Very well, cleared of all charges.”

Harry smiled and shook Bromley’s out stretched hand. Harry jumped out of the chair and tried to hurry out of the room as fast as he could but not be at a full run. Mr. Weasley was waiting outside the Courtroom.

“Harry, you have been in there for four hours. How did it go?”

“Mr. Potter has been cleared of all charges. You are going to take him home correct?”

“Yes, my sons are waiting outside to take him home. I assume you are going to let his father know?”

“Yes, I must go.” Bromley shook Harry’s hand one more time and then Arthur and then hurried off.

“Come, Harry. I will walk you to the exit.”

Harry walked in silence with Arthur. When they stopped by the fountain in the main area, Harry rushed over to it and dumped fifty galleons into it. Arthur looked at him.

“I promised myself if I won I would put twenty in. I decided to up it to fifty.”

“You are a good person. Let’s go. Molly is sure to be worried. Hurry home.” Arthur watched as Harry went out through the same way he came in. Bill and Charlie were both there waiting on him.

When Harry got outside he breathed a giant sigh of relief.

Chapter Fifty Six-Defense Training
Harry entered Grimmauld Place and was greeted with cheers from everyone who was in the hall. Bill and Charlie were behind him and were the only reason he actually entered the house instead of fleeing.

“Come in, come in. We have plenty of food.” Molly ushered them in and gave Harry a giant hug as he passed her. “Your father had some of the elves bring a feast. He seemed quite happy with the outcome. I don’t know how he knew. There is a letter for you in your room. He left it.”

“He didn’t stay?”

“No. He grumbled about the Headmaster before he left.”

“Dumbledore tried several things to get me pulled from school it seems. Most of which backfired. It seems that the Wizengamot and the Governors are going to look into the school and see if he needs replaced.”

“The Wizengamot won’t have a say, just the Governors,” Remus stated from the back of the kitchen. “Still they will push to make sure an inquiry is done.” Draco’s father is still a Governor is he not?”

“As far as I know. I’ve not heard Draco speak of him being canned.”

“Come let’s not talk of such things.” Molly ushered Harry father into the kitchen so that he could sit at the table that was ladened with food. Harry ate and talked where it seemed they wanted him to talk. All he wanted to do was read his father’s letter and then write one to Draco to tell him that he wasn’t in jail.

“Harry, how did it go really? What was the vote?” Fred asked from somewhere behind Harry.

“It was over a three fourths vote. I don’t think that some of them liked that I was being brought up on charges where there was no proof and no reason to believe that I had done anything. Of course Bromley brought up that even if I had cast a spell there would be no reason to charge me. I was only protecting myself. There was also insanity brought up but with no Healer to comment or proof of actual things that I have done that were insane, they couldn’t do anything. Voldemort was brought up but since there were three others who saw things and their respective governments are backing two of them.”

“What about Dumbledore did he show up?” George asked from in front of Harry.

“He wasn’t there although that didn’t mean he wasn’t trying to sabotage me. There was another woman there, Umbridge; she was trying her hardest to make the Wizengamot do something to me.”

“It’s not like you are going to see her again,” Hermione said as she smiled at Harry.

“When did you get here?”

“Just an hour before you got back. Sirius visited my parents and said that it would be good for me because there was going to be lessons held here. I almost didn’t believe him until Professor Lupin showed me the lesson plans.”

“Hermione, it is Remus for the last time please,” Remus almost yelled from somewhere behind Harry. Harry turned to look at him and smiled.

“Lesson plans?”

“Oh, yes and the good part is they are for you. Your father wants you to train the others in some defense and offence spells and charms. I just wanted to help and jotted down the spells he wants all your friends to know. He is also going to see about starting a club in school, monitored by the Heads of Houses that will help students with spells that they don’t quite get.”

“He wants to do that?”

“Yes, but he wants it to be the students who do it.”

Harry barely listened for the rest of the meal; he excused himself from the room when he thought he could get away with it and went to his room. He found his father’s letter and lay on his bed to read it.

Dear Harry,

I am very happy to hear that Bromley held up his end and was able to pull you through. I would not be surprised to find that you will be pulled in again at a later time for another hearing regarding your ‘insanity.’

The time has come Harry for you to teach the spell to the others. It could mean their life like it did yours.

Love,
Severus

xXxXxXx

Harry watched as Ginny and Hermione dueled while Ron and Fred did. George was on the other side of the room dueling with Bill. It was the fourth day of training and it was going very well. There was one spell that Harry wanted to teach them. He had discussed it with his father earlier in the summer and Severus agreed that the spell could mean life or death.

Sitting at the back of the room were three dummies that were very life like underneath their cloth exterior. It was the same type of dummy that he had learned the spell on.

“That’s good. I want you all to try another spell. I want you guys to bring the dummies up front and then Fred, George, Bill; I want you to stand about ten feet back from them.” Ron, Ginny, and Hermione looked at Harry with expressions full of questions. “This spell is best done wordless. I’ll whisper it in your ear and then when I give the cue, perform it.”

“Harry?” Ginny asked. Harry shook his head. He went to the door and opened it. Everyone else in the house was standing there.

“This spell is not widely known given that Severus created it. He has never really wanted it known by others but he agreed that in this time of war any spell that could help us should be known.”

“Harry, is this…?” Hermione trailed off as she looked between Harry and the dummies. Harry moved over to whisper in each of the three’s ears. When he was done he looked at Hermione.

“Yes.”

“Viktor and Fleur nearly threw up when they talked about that spell.”

Harry didn’t say anything to her. Instead he turned to Charlie and Remus.

“Would you two please move to stand on the far sides of the dummies? I don’t want you caught in the backlash but I want you to try and heal one of the dummies.”

“How?” Remus asked as he did what Harry asked.

“These are life like dummies. Father finished creating them a few years ago. Magic replicates the internal bodies but I wanted cloth exteriors for our training today.”

“Harry, what is going on?” Molly asked.

“You’ll see. I want everyone else far behind the three casting.”

Everyone moved to stand as far back as they could inside the room. Harry stood level with the three casting the spells. He waited a few and then nodded at them. They all three slashed their wands and then Harry turned to look at the rest of the people. He watched as horror washed over their faces at what happened to the dummies. He heard Remus and Charlie trying to cast spells. Three minutes into it Harry heard Charlie sigh and move.

“Why are you stopping?” Arthur asked.

“Blood loss. The heart has stopped.”

“There are only a few ways to save someone hit with this spell. You have to give them plenty of blood replenishing potions. The skin won’t want to heal at all and has to be forced to but most of the time before that, the person bleeds out.”

“This spell is…barbaric.” Molly sighed as she moved closer to the dummies.

“Yes, but it is also the only reason I was able to escape from Voldemort. This spell is not one of the Unforgivables but you can guarantee that you get away from whoever is after you.”

“I…this is as far I go with this. Bill, Charlie, Fred, George can you teach everyone else?”

“Yes, Harry.”

“Make sure that no one is near when the spell is cast. Wand movement has to be sure.”

Harry watched them for a few minutes and then he left. He didn’t see Remus follow him out. Harry wandered through the house looking at everything. It was the first chance that he had to actually look around without someone following him.

“Master Harry?” Zook called from down the hall. Harry turned and standing there with Severus.

“Father.”

“Come, Harry. Remus and I need to talk to you. Come into the smaller library.” Severus stepped back and motioned for Harry to walk in front of him. Harry entered the small library that Remus spent most of him time inside. Once Harry entered, Remus shut the door and Harry watched as Remus warded the room heavily.

“Harry, we need to discuss some things and it’s better done where no one else can hear you.”

“Hear me?”

“You aren’t going to like what is being said.”

Harry looked at his father and uncle. He narrowed his eyes.

“I have to think about the future. I am in the crossfire of whom of the most powerful wizards in the world. The Dark Lord would kill me if he knew that I was no loyal to him and Dumbledore would sacrifice me if he thought I would stop him from touching your life.”

“Don’t.”

“Harry you can get made as much as you want. I have to make sure that you are prepared for whatever future actually happens.”

“Severus, don’t. I…”

“No, you will listen. I have put this off for longer than I would have wanted.”

“I…”

Severus waved his hand and Harry’s voice cut off.

“YOU WILL LISTEN.” Severus’s voice was full of power and Harry nodded.

“My family did not have much and the Dark Lord took what we wanted of his followers’ things but I have been able to save a great deal of money and make a great deal with potions that I have altered or created. I have funneled this money into an account over the years in a Muggle bank. Gringotts handles the account for me. I have taken care of making sure that you are the beneficiary for the account when I die. If I am taken captive by either side in this battle, you will also gain access to my accounts as well until a time that I am free.

“There is also an account set up for you in the Muggle world at the same bank. Every month, I will put 400 pounds in the account. If for any reason you have to hide out, do it in the Muggle world like I have taught you. There should be enough for you and plenty of your friends to live off of if need be. You have one hundred thousand pounds in the account already.” Severus pulled a vial out of his robes and set it on the table. He took the cap off and held it out to Harry. “It’s a locked memory. Once I die, or are captured, or you have to flee to the Muggle world, this memory will unlock and you will know how to access the accounts as you need. My account has one lock and yours has another. If mine is unlocked, then both are but if mine is not and yours is, mine stays locked until I die or become captured.”

“Sirius and I have also set up similar accounts for you as well. That same account of yours will have 300 pounds from us every single month. Both of our estates will pass to you if the event of our death. There is also a house set up for you and your friends if the time arises when you do need to flee into the Muggle world. Sirius bought it years before just before you were born. It was in Lily’s name and has stayed that way since then. Sirius set up many wards around the house and both of us has updated the wards and security. The memories of how to get to the house and everything are also in that vial. Again once you decide to leave the Wizarding world to get ready to fight Voldemort, the memories will unlock.”

“You do not get to question us on this. We have to make sure that you and your friends are protected.”

Harry nodded and picked up the vial. He used his wand to put the memories inside his head. Severus waved him away and when Harry had set foot outside the door, the spell stopping him from speaking was released from him and he turned back to talk when the door shut in his face. Harry sighed.

He hated thinking of a time when his friends and family could be dead because of the war.

Chapter Fifty Seven-Plans for Teaching
When Harry found Mrs. Weasley in the sitting room one night, alone. Harry almost walked back out then he heard the sobs. He finally saw what looked like Arthur lying on the side, dead. Harry started to draw his wand and then he heard the whispered “Riddikulus” from Molly. Harry pointed his wand at the Boggart and said the spell loud enough so that Molly could hear but not so loud others could.
Molly looked up at his and her face was full of grief. “Harry, you didn’t…I would have…”

“I know, Molly.” Harry sat down beside her on the couch and hugged her. “I was saving you the trouble. Remus said the got all the Boggarts out of here that had moved in while they were gone.”

“I found this one in the back of the desk drawer. It surprised me. It was Ginny. A werewolf ripped her body to shreds. Every time I tried to banish it, it turned into another child. You, Hermione, Ron, Fred, George, Bill, Charlie, Per…Percy and finally Arthur. I just lost it. I hate that you saw me like that.”

“Every night for two weeks after Voldemort came back, I had nightmares about coming home and finding Severus dead in the house and Voldemort standing there. I know how you feel. I don’t think you weak.”

“I know that Harry, but I am the adult. I should protect you, not you protect me.”

“I was never a child, Molly. I was raised to do the work that my aunt should have done and then when Severus rescued me, I had fun and I played but Severus had to weigh waiting to teach me and me dying against starting to teach me right away and hoping I didn’t die. I don’t hate him for that. I could never hate him. I got over any hatred of what he had done with his life long ago.”

“What do you mean?”

“Did you know it was him who told Voldemort of the Prophecy that sent him after me? He didn’t know that it was going to be me but he still passed that on.”

“I didn’t know.”

“Severus was young, foolish, hurt, and ignorant years ago. That all fled the night he found out that Voldemort would never keep his word. Molly, I can’t promise that your family will make it out of this whole but they are strong and will help make a huge difference in this war. I would not want to go into this war without them behind me. I will protect them and so won’t my father. You have chosen a side in this war and I think that we will be the ones to come out on top. Dumbledore is losing people left and right, Molly.”

“I know, Harry.”

“I will do everything in my power to bring as many home to you as possible and as whole as possible. That is all I can promise.”

“And your promise is all I need.”

xXxXxXx

“Master Harry, I got all the books for this year.” Zook entered Harry’s room where Ron, Hermione, and he were talking about classes. Their letters had not arrived yet but Severus had told Molly which books were on the list for that year so that they could be bought. Harry looked at the stack and saw that it was books for all three of them. The stack was floating behind Harry.

“Zook, you didn’t have to get mine.”

“Mistress Weasley and I wents to get them today. Didn’t see sense in making Mistress ‘Mione go on her own to get books.”

“Thank you, Zook.” Hermione stood up and took all the books from him.

“Master wishes you three to look at the new defence book he says that you will find it enlightening.” Zook didn’t wait for an answer but instead popped out of the room, shutting the door behind him. Harry looked at Ron and Hermione before pulling out three of the books from the stack. Hermione set the rest of the books down on Harry’s desk and joined them again on the bed. Harry looked at the cover of his book after he handed the other two off.

Defensive Magical Theory, by Wilbert Slinkhard, this can’t be good.”

“What do you mean?” Ron asked looked at the cover.

“Theory. This book is just telling us what the spells are and how they are performed but don’t actually give us the knowledge for practicals.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I read it a few years back. I considered it a waste of my time. Harry opened his book and looked at it.”

“Yea, I can tell you didn’t like it. Wanna trade me?” Ron asked handing a book over to Harry, who frowned at him but did as he asked. Harry looked at the book in his hand and opened the cover. It was his notes. This was the copy he had bought a few years back. “The Professor must have decided against you buying another copy.”

“Yea, he probably had Zook pop to the house and get it. I have notes all in my book. I wonder who is teaching the class?”

“I don’t know. Surely Dumbledore would not hire someone who has the same mindset as Slinkhard here, right?” Ron asked looking first at Harry and then at Hermione.

“I think I remember Father saying that Dumbledore was having trouble finding a teacher willing to take over Defence classes. I don’t know what happens when Dumbledore can’t get one.”

“That I can answer,” Severus said from the door. Harry turned to smile at him while Ron and Hermione were already facing him and both nodded. “The Ministry passed a law called Educational Decree Number Twenty-Two. It states that basically in the event that the Headmaster of Hogwarts is unable to procure a teacher by a set time before the school year, the Ministry can step in an appoint someone that position.”

“But that’s…the Ministry has never had that kind of control due to needing Hogwarts to be apart from the government.”

“Yes, it was a very quiet law to be passed. The Minister wants to control the students inside of Hogwarts and this is his way of doing it.”

“And this book?” Harry asked holding up the Defence text with two fingers barely touching it. Severus smiled at him. “Think about it, Harry.”

Harry nodded and looked away from his father. He started ticking through thoughts in his mind. One flashed and he almost disregarded it because it was stupid. There was no way that the Minister of Magic would want…”He wants use to be stupid. He doesn’t want either Dumbledore or I to create a force of people who could oppose him because that’s what he thinks that we would do. He’s scared of us because he thinks that we are stronger than he and we want to control the British Wizarding world.”

“As always, Harry, your mind to think like those you are against frightens me.”

“I know. Fudge is a coward. This means that some of my plans for the year have been derailed haven’t they?”

“Yes. Your entire school this year will not be learning anything as far as Defence Against the Dark Arts goes. Dumbledore can do nothing about it. The teacher’s course work and entire years’ curriculum has been approved by the Ministry.”

“So the Ministry knows about how this person plans to not teach us anything, right?”

“Yes.”

“Then I consider the entire Ministry that has a part of this fair game.”

“As you should, Fudge has stated his reasons for doing what he is doing is that the standards at Hogwarts are failing and this teacher will stop that decline.”

“Are you going to tell us who, Professor?” Hermione asked in a voice that Harry knew well. Hermione’s brain was working overtime.

“That I am leaving for the feast. I want to give you some things to figure out on your own. Harry stay inside as much as possible until you go to school. I don’t want to take any chances. Have Molly do your school shopping. Your owls should arrive soon.” Severus turned quickly and a rustle of robes was the only noise heard as he walked down the hall.

“What did you mean by your plans for the year?”

“Those of our circle that were left were going to ask Dumbledore for the permission to form a study group that would help with the upcoming OWLs and NEWTs. We would of course use it to learn and study but also to go over defensive spells and the such.”

“And with this new teacher being a direct line to Fudge, you don’t want to?” Ron asked. Hermione snorted and both boys looked at her. She was flipping through the book and was stopped on a chapter in the book.

“Of course, he won’t want to, Ronald. Anything he does would be reported back to the Minister and then he would be even more into Harry’s life. We will just have to think of a different way to do things. We have a little while before school and I know that Harry and I have our homework done.”

“I am almost done. I just have Potions left.”

“Good. I am glad that you have been working on it.”

“I had to. Mom and Dad didn’t let any of us out unless Bill and Charlie would go outside with us and Fred and George had Mom and Dad so worked up over the summer that it was crazy.”

“What are they doing?”

“A joke shop. I’ve seen the order forms and its just jokes. Mom thinks that they need to shape up and make sure the get plenty of NEWTs.”

“She doesn’t see the shop going anywhere?”

“No, she doesn’t.”

“What I have seen of the things, I think the joke shop will go over well, especially with the war.”

“They even have these things called Extendable Ears. You can use them to spy and listen in on things. Mother was worried about us over hearing things in the Order, if we had any contact with them but Dad has said that Dumbledore won’t go near us right now with things about the Order.”

“I can understand that.” Harry thought back to seeing Mrs. Weasley crying the other day about losing her family to the war that was coming. “She has a huge family, Ron. She has a lot to lose in the war coming up.”

“I know. She just goes mental. You’ll see. Wait until she rounds on you. Might want to see about getting and Extendable Ear from the twins. Might help you in the year to come.”

“I’ll take to them about it. How’s the book, Hermione?”

“Dreadful. We aren’t going to learn a thing from it. Knowing the theory and being able to cast it when faced with a dark creature are two different things.”

“I know. Casting a Patronus against a Boggart was really hard. If I have never picked up a wand before to cast it and came across one. I would be dead or severely injured. When faced with a creature and not having the skills. Think about those going into Auror training. How much extra training they are going to need to do what they need to do to even be able to pass that. Fudge is becoming a danger to British Wizarding Society. I hope he does not have much more time to mess up the world.”

“I don’t think he is going to admit anything and feel sorry until the world around him is in flames and by then it will be too late because his nation will be dead.”

xXxXxXx

Harry received his letter in the morning from Hogwarts. Harry opened it and set the supplies list aside. The letter itself was normal and the books were as well. Harry looked at the stack that was still on the desk where Hermione had put them.

There was no badge inside, Harry wished that there had been but hadn’t let himself get too down. Dumbledore wouldn’t reward him for anything.

A peck at the window had Harry looking out, quickly. It was Draco’s owl. Harry used his wand to unlatch the window and he flew inside. He dropped the letter from Draco on his lap and then flew out again. Harry knew that meant Draco wasn’t going to wait for an answer. He set aside his Hogwarts letter and opened Draco’s. There was one sentence on the paper and if Harry weren’t dating him, Harry would have taken it as a threat.

What are you going to do to keep the male Slytherin Prefect happy this year, Potter.

Chapter Fifty Eight-Jokes are Serious, Deadly Serious
Harry was underneath his cloak and he knew it was the only reason he was able to sneak up on Fred and George. He listened as they talked. They were in the library of Grimmauld Place and had set up charms to alert them to others getting near the room. It had been easy to bypass them but leave them up. He wanted to listen in on them talking without them knowing he was there.

“We have much to do this year. I still think that we should just not go to school.”

“It would be better for us if we sit our NEWTs. Especially our Potions one. Still though that donation does make it worth getting out of school a year really and getting an actual shop opened up for people to buy from instead of doing it all by owl.”

“I know. I still want to know who sent us those thousand galleons.”

“Who would want us to create usable items for war?”

“Me.” Harry laughed as the twins both jumped and started to look around. Finally, Fred followed the sound and started to look right at him. Harry pulled his cloak off and waved at the two just to keep them on their feet. George whipped his head around so that he could look at Harry.

“And why would Snape want these things created?”

“He sees some genius in your things. I’ve told him about some of the jokes and whatnot that you have created. I want to know more about your Extendable Ears. I find the idea fascinating and would love to maybe buy some.”

“Buy some? BUY some? My dear Mr. Potter you will never have to buy any as long as you live. Mum found several and binned them but we still have plenty. The room we are staying in has many hiding places; we have all of our stuff hidden now. Mum won’t be able to find it.”

Fred moved over to the wall as his brother was talking and opened one of the hiding places and pulled out several strings. When he got back to Harry, Fred handed them over to Harry. Harry smiled at him and nodded his head in thanks.

“There are three here. Don’t let Mum see them. I don’t want to get yelled at.”

“Yea. I can do that. What else do you have that you have finished other than your Skiving Snackboxes?”

“I am guessing you mean defense products?”

“Yes.”

“We have some Decoy Detonators. Throw them and they run away and explode giving someone enough time to run away.”

“We are also working on some defense products. We took that letter sent to us very literally. I can understand the reason behind wanting a few good defense products that even a Muggle could use in the upcoming war.”

“Muggle-borns will be the main target. Having things for them to protect their families will be a great boon for us. Do you remember the stipulations in the letter?” Harry stood up and moved over to look at a few books. He pulled a few out and sat back down bringing the books with him. He started to flip through the top one.

“You know…”

“…we feel stupid. Should have…”

“…known that it was you by the wording in the letter.”

Harry smiled at the Twins. He waved for them to go on. He was thinking hard enough on their faces in his mind and trying to think of the minute differences in speech and mannerisms to tell which was speaking. It didn’t really matter. He thought they shared a brainwave anyway. There was no other way that they could finish each other’s sentences like they did. Harry shoved the first book away from him and opened the second.

“You want cheap good products that allow…”

“…underage witches and wizards as well as Muggle-borns to use…”

“…defense products to protect their families. As long as we…”

“…come up with some of those you will give us one thousand galleons a month to offset fees.”

“Yes. There is also something else that I want you to consider. I have been asked to put forth this by my father. He will allow you to use his Potions lab to do what you need to do and will find you a dungeon room and have it blocked off for your use.”

“Seriously?” Both asked at the same time. Harry nodded and the Twins looked at each other.

“What kind of products do you want?”

“We’ve been looking at something. It might take a while to import.”

“My lawyer Mr. Bromley will gladly set aside some time to help you on my money. He can help cut through some of the red tape involved with importing. You can correspond by letter if you wish. He can advise you.”

“What about Mum?”

“He won’t say anything if you don’t.”

“Harry, I think that we are going to like being in business with you.”

“There are another few stipulations that I have added.”

“Go…”

“…ahead.”

“I want to make these as cheap as possible so I want you to price them so that you are making just enough to cover costs of running the store but not charge any of the money you would to cover the cost of experimenting with them to make them. I will cover that with the thousand galleons a month, if it needs to be more let me know. Once the war is over you can charge as much as you want. The school will have a list of those students who get the scholarships and those who have very little money. If they come in, I want there to be a way for them to get the items and I will make sure you get paid for them.”

“That will…”

“…cost a lot of money in the long run.”

“And my father and I have plenty. I don’t want someone dying in this war because they don’t have the money to get what they need to protect themselves. This war can’t be only about those who have the money. I’ve been talking with friends and there is going to be a fund set up for those families who are of little money. We will be taking subtle donations. I am going to talk to McGonagall into letting me know which families would need the help and do something from that end.”

“Are you going to let them know…”

“…who is donating this money?”

“No. I don’t want them to follow me because I am giving away money to protect them. I want them follow me because they like what I am doing and they like the way I am doing it.”

“You know that Fudge won’t do it that way once he jumps on the train.”

“You know that he won’t pull punches.”

“I know.” Harry sighed and shoved the second book away. The books held nothing that he wanted. He picked up the third and then looked up both boys were looking at him. “Yes?”

“So tell us all that you know about this new teacher?”

“Not much other than he or she wants to suppress up learning anything that could save our lives, even if there wasn’t a Dark Lord on the rise. I want this person’s life to be a living hell. I want students to miss class. Your Skiving Snackboxes, they are the trick. I want each student at Hogwarts to be able to get their hands on one. I want the teacher to hate all the students. I want to smile as this teacher comes into class and finds that several students are not there.”

“Lofty plans. Think it will run them out?”

“No, but it will make the Ministry crack down on students and then the students will be able to go to the press and the Governors and complain. I want the world to figure out what Fudge is doing. I want everyone to know that our way of life could end because the Ministry doesn’t want us to learn. We could come out of this the most inept generation of witches and wizards in memory.”

“Wow, you really don’t like this person, do you?”

Harry looked up at Fred and gave him a cold calculation stare. He shook his head no and then smiled again. This time a softer smile.

“Everyone wants me to take care of their problems. Instead of going out and solving things for themselves, they are sitting back and thinking that I will take care of everything. Once Voldemort is dead, the next wizard or witch to cause a problem will have everyone looking at me and thinking ‘Why aren’t you taking care of this?’ I don’t want that. I want our generation of witches and wizards to take care of themselves. I want our generation to go beyond what is expected and live up to what they want. I want our generation to not look at the birth of the person and instead look at the person to judge whether to like the person or not.”

“You know, I think you would be a wonderful politician.” George ruffled Harry’s hair with a hand as he spoke.

“Wash your mouth out with soap.”

“What are you going to do after all of this?” Fred asked with a small voice. Harry looked over at him and saw the slight fear on his face. It was a look Harry had never really seen either of the Twins’ faces. He was glad to know that they could feel it.

“I don’t know. I think that everyone wants me to be an Auror but after all of this…I don’t know if I could do it. Be around that darkness day in and day out. Be in the public eye like that.”

“What else do you think you would like to do?” George picked up one of the books that Harry had shoved away from himself.

“I do well in potions but I don’t know if I would want to do something like that. I do well in everything but I have no clue what I want to do?”

“What about teaching? I am sure that any school in the world would take you in.”

“I am sure that they would but are they taking me in because I am Harry Potter or because I am better than the other teacher applying for the job?”

“That’s a good question,” both twins said at the same time. They both looked around the room for a few seconds.

“I think that I may have to start my own business. Do what I want. Or marry well. If I married well then I would never have to work a say in my life.”

“And promptly go nuts in about a month.” Fred laughed at the thought of Harry going nuts because he had nothing to do. “Don’t get me wrong you would probably love it at first but after time you would get bored. I’ve seen you around school. You hate having nothing to do.”

“Yea, I know. I also don’t have to marry well to have enough to do nothing with my life.”

Fred and George both started to laugh and Harry assumed it was from the look on his face. He looked at the Twins and just watched them. They liked him for who he was and not what he was. They were the most level headed of the Weasley’s and had to have gotten that from their father and not their mother. He knew that he could trust them.

“So I wanted to talk you about something.”

“Yes?”

Harry laughed at how they both answered with the same tone of voice.

“So how would do you think that knowledge will be taken that I am dating?”

“Depends…”

“…on who.”

“Draco Malfoy.”

Harry watched at the words sunk in on their face. He laughed at how red their faces got.

“Ginny and Mum will not like this.”

“Why?” Harry asked, worried. Why wouldn’t they? Those specific two.

“Both see you marrying Ginny when you get older.”

“WHAT?”

Chapter Fifty Nine-Harry and that Malfoy are WHAT?
The owl at his window at the school was odd, especially at two in the morning. He didn’t know the owl but he knew the seal and the script. The script was hurried, very unlike what Lucius usually wrote. Still, Severus cast the proper spells to check the letter. It was safe. He opened the letter and read.

Friend,

I have need to talk to you. Meet me where you get this. Hogsmeade, you know where.

Ever Loyal

Severus gathered his things from his desk and then put them in his safe in the wall that hid behind a picture. He quickly crossed his room and was gone from it. The trip through the castle and its grounds were quick and he was out before he crossed the path of any of the ghosts, people, or animals that resided on the grounds or in the castle.

Severus entered the Hog’s Head and found that Lucius was already there and had a seat at the back. It was odd that Aberforth was open and he was sure that Lucius had paid him a great deal of money. Severus stopped when he saw the state that Lucius was in. Lucius was always calm and collected in public. He was not this time. Lucius’s hair was out of place, put into a ponytail in an unkempt fashion. His clothes were disheveled. This was a Lucius who was frantic.

“Lucius.”

“Severus. I have made sure that no one knows I am here and Aberforth was kind enough to open his bar up for us. I have a few things to discuss and I have to do them tonight. I have been commanded by the Dark Lord to turn the Manor over to him. He is going to use it to put forth efforts against Harry and Albus. I cannot seem to disagree with him now. There is too much at stake. He is still too unknown for the time I need his protection from those who would see me as fair game if I disobeyed.”

“I have the cottage.”

“I had a better idea. I do not mind turning the Manor over. He would not be able to access most of it as he and the rest of the Death Eaters are not blood. He knows this and knows there is no way around it. Thankful my ancestors were cautious of people trying to take the house.”

“Draco and Narcissa would not be safe in those parts.”

“No but they would be safe wherever you have Harry stashed. I want to have them ‘turn’ against me. It is the only way to see them safe. The Dark Lord would not see it coming yet, he would know that it was possible.”

“It would paint a target on Draco’s back at school.”

“There are few who would do anything to him unless the Dark Lord was out and would be able to back them. The Slytherins and Ravenclaws all know the dueler he is.”

“Harry wants to come out to everyone. If they did it at school it would give each of them another layer of protection. The Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors would not touch Draco and the Slytherins and Ravenclaws wouldn’t touch Harry.”

“Narcissa has an idea where you are all staying. She mentioned the place once before and since then it has been elusive.”

“I am sure that she is thinking correct and the secret keeper would have to allow you entrance. He is a stubborn man but would give Harry what he wants.”

“There are many that give Harry all he wants but with his childhood, who can deny him anything.”

Severus smirked at his friend. “I will broach the subject in a few hours when I am sure that the keeper is awake.”

“Good. Time is of the essence.” Lucius stood and quickly left the bar. Severus was sure that Aberforth wouldn’t tell his brother a thing.

xXxXxXx

Severus Apparated directly into Grimmauld Place. It was magic consuming to do so and would alert Remus that he was trying to get in. He had his eyes closed so that he could concentrate on the wards and pass them. When he opened his eyes, he found a wand in his face.

“What is your Patronus?”

“A doe for Lily.” Severus looked into Remus’s hard eyes.

“That was dangerous.”

“I had to. You and I, alone, have some things to discuss. Kitchen” Severus started off before Remus could say anything. He sat at the table, facing the door and the second Remus entered he cast several spells to give them privacy. Remus sat in the seat beside him.

“Severus?”

“The Dark Lord wants Lucius to give over Malfoy Manor for his use.”

“And?”

Severus didn’t answer. Instead he stared at the door. Seconds later, the door opened. In stepped Harry with his wand resting at his side.

“I had those up for a reason.”

“And I took them down for a reason. Feel free to put them back up.” Harry sat down in a chair that was once seat down from Severus and on the other side of the table from Remus.

“You spend too much time around your boyfriend.” Severus smiled as Harry’s gaze flicked to Remus before he shrugged. Remus looked back and forth between them a few times. “As I said. He is demanding the use of the Manor. There are parts of the Manor that only blood can get into. This includes marriage bonded people. These areas though do not include the kitchens or sleeping areas. Narcissa and Draco cannot stay.”

“What help could we be?” Remus asked he really didn’t understand why Severus was coming to him with this. Severus turned to look at Harry. Remus’s gaze followed.

Harry had his head lowered and they couldn’t see his eyes. “I want them brought here for safety.”

“That’s what Lucius wants. He wants to tell the Dark Lord that they have switched sides. He wants them safe.”

“Harry,” Remus said trying to reach across the table and touch his hand.

“Remus, Draco has been my friend for years. Lucius and Narcissa have protected me. Lucius is serving the Dark Lord just like father does. He is serving him knowing that if he found out, Lucius’s life is forfeit.”

“Are you sure they are loyal?”

Harry looked at Severus who nodded.

“I love Draco, Remus. I have spent too much time around him.”

Remus gasped in understanding and stared into Harry’s eyes. Remus smiled.

“Sirius won’t like it.”

“Which part?” Severus asked with a smile on his face. Remus and Harry both chuckled. “Invite them without his knowing.”

“We are not the only ones that live here. We have to ask everyone.”

“I know, but only the adults.”

“Father, it will be fine. They will understand.”

Remus watched them talk with their eyebrows for a few seconds.

“Fine. Invite the children. One hour. We have to move fast.”

One hour later, all the Weasley’s Sirius, Remus, Severus, and Harry were seated in the library. Severus had already gone over what he wanted.

“Why should we trust Death Eaters?” Sirius asked. He wasn’t prepared for the Twins, Ron, Hermione, Charlie, and Harry to turn and glare at him. “What? I am sure that this is a way to kill Harry.”

“Draco could have killed Harry several times last year,” Hermione stated with an air.

“What?”

“Krum and he were dating for a while, so Draco came to the meetings with him. He never once acted out of line.”

“Draco and Viktor are no longer dating,” Harry said with a small smile to his lips. “Sirius, they need protection. Lucius will stay in the manor and take up the role of a man whose family left him. My boyfriend and his mother will come to live here until such a time it is okay for Lucius to cast himself from Voldemort.”

“Boyfriend?” Ginny, Molly, and Sirius asked at the same time. Ginny and Molly turned to look at each other before looking back at Harry.

“Harry?” Sirius asked.

“It’s newer. I’ve known him for years. We met at a Wizard playground. Severus didn’t know I had been sneaking there. Lucius used to watch me when Severus would need him to. This is the first summer I haven’t spent some time with at least one of the Malfoy’s. They have my best interests at heart.”

Severus raised his hand and called the discussion to a vote. Everyone agreed to let them come and live.

“They are outside. Narcissa made a few leaps in logic.”

xXxXxXx

Harry was in his room alone reading his Potions text at his desk when a light knock came at his door. It had been an emotional day. After Narcissa and Draco had been let into the house, they had left again with most of the adults to bring their things. Draco and he had not got a chance to do anything but smile at each other.

“Come in.” Harry yelled. The door opened and Zook came in with several suitcases floating above him and Draco behind him.

“Master Draco, it not take Zook long to makes room bigger and get bed and dresser for yous.”

Harry stood quickly and moved to stand closer to Draco. “They are letting you stay in here?”

“Yes, Uncle Severus doesn’t trust the Twins and Ron around me for long, even if they do like me. Mother and he are sharing the guest room. There is a catch though. If the door is shut then Zook has to be here, if we are both in here. If the door is open we can be alone.”

“Do they think we won’t snog with the door open?” Harry asked as he touched Draco’s cheek. “Missed you.”

“I know. I have missed you more this summer than I have since you left that day on the playground. I missed you so much then.” Draco leaned in and kissed Harry on the mouth. Harry didn’t let him pull back. The two were not alone and they knew it but they acted like they were. Tongues dueled while hands groped. It was minutes before the sound of Zook clearing his throat had the boys jumping apart. Draco smiled while Harry looked a little bashful. Harry looked at his new room, it was indeed bigger and Draco’s bed was practically on the other side of the room. Zook was looking at both of them.

“This looks wonderful, Zook.” Draco gave the House Elf a great smile and then moved over to his side of the room to sit on his bed. He looked up at Harry with a mischievous grin. Harry started over towards his boyfriend when someone cleared their throat. Harry looked up and over towards the door, Severus was standing there along with Narcissa.

“Settling in fine, Draco?” Narcissa asked as she stepped into the room.

“Yes, Mother. Have you heard from father?” Draco stood up as he talked and walked towards his mother.

“I received a Patronus from his just a few minutes ago.” Narcissa turned and looked Severus, who in turn turned around and shut the door.

“What’s wrong?”

“Lucius is on a house arrest of sorts. The Dark Lord has Crabbe and Goyle watching the stairs and is blocking him from getting to the family sections. There are rewards for our heads. Lucius has to pay those rewards from Malfoy money. He is no worse for the wear and the injuries that he has sustained are very little compared to what he could have got. Severus will be returning to the Manor this evening. We have something to discuss with you both.”

“If one is found out the other will become suspect. When either Father or Severus comes out of the dark so to speak, the other will have to as well.” Draco looked at Severus as he spoke.

“Yes.”

“Then you must both play your parts well, hadn’t you?” Harry asked with a small smile on his face. Severus nodded. “I doubt we can keep this all quiet for long. Do you think you can last till the end of the year?”

“Harry?”

“We will come out as a family at the close of the school year. I don’t think that the Dark Lord can keep quiet for long, no matter what. Right now we have to keep Draco safe during school. I don’t think that the children will go after him. It will just be Hogsmeade that will be the problem. I plan though to make sure that no one will go after him.”

Chapter Sixty-Leaving a New Home
“What is this meeting about?” Ron groaned as he looked around the kitchen. It was packed. Hermione, Fred, George, Ginny, Harry, Draco, Luna, and Neville were all sitting there waiting for whoever called the meeting to arrive. Luna and Neville had arrived a few hours before. Remus had been expecting them. That had been a shock to everyone. The entire room looked over at Harry and Draco who were sitting side by side on one of the counters. Neville had been shocked about the relationship but Luna hadn’t.
Draco had one hand on Harry’s thigh while the other was gesturing wildly in the air. Harry was smiling at Draco’s softly whispered story. The others could see the light in Harry’s eyes as he listened to Draco. There was happiness in his eyes. His Gryffindor friends had not seen looks like that in his eyes in the entire time that they had known him.

“Do you think that we want to see your PDA?” Fred asked from across the room. Neither Harry nor Draco looked up at the Twins, they just continued talking. Draco smirked a little though before answering.

“You can live with it!” Draco answered back with a smile on his face.

“I’m still reeling,” Neville said with a blush on his face. He had gotten an eye full when he had arrived. He walked in on Draco and Harry kissing in the kitchen before anyone else had entered the area for the meeting.

Before Fred or George could say anything back, the kitchen door slammed open. Every face turned to see Snape standing in the doorway. In place was the usual sneer that adorned his face at the school. He looked around at each of the kids and then when he was done, he focused on Harry and Draco. The sneer fell away and there was a small smile on his face.

“Good, you can keep your mouths shut.”

“Professor?” Hermione asked with a frown upon her face.

“Once we go to the school, you can’t be familiar with me. Outside of this room there are none at the school that know that I am Harry’s guardian. I saw the shock and fear on your faces and know that you can all at least act like you really are scared of me. This year is going to be your hardest to date.”

“Even after the Triwizard Tournament?” Harry asked.

“Now there is going to be a witch from the Ministry breathing down everyone’s back at the school. She is your new Dark Arts teacher and I have a feeling no one is going to like her. I am sure that she is going to be reporting back to Fudge on every move made inside the castle. There will be many changes on how I expect all of you to act. I am taking responsibility for all of you at the school this year. I have to give the parents weekly reports on how all of you are faring in all of your classes and outside of those classes.”

“Taking on a bunch more kids, Uncle?” Draco asked with a small dangerous smile on his face. Harry slapped his leg in a playful manner.

“Your parents are worried and if any of you step out of line, I will be giving your punishments out instead of your parents. I don’t think that any of you will like that. I have discussed much with the other adults and they feel that since I no longer need to act as I always have towards you all. Slytherins will not get special treatment any more than you all will. Fairness and responsibility will be my new motto. The Twins will be helping me with many things over the course of the year and punishment for all houses will be cleaning up our messes by hand.”

“Sounds harsh,” George said with a giant grin on his face. Harry could tell he was thinking of ways to make a bigger mess to clean up.

“It is. My house will be reigned in and made to heel to what needs to be done. I have let it go as it has to see what the Headmaster will do and as you saw it was nothing. The Governors will be keeping an eye on the school more this year. They want to see the effects of having the Ministry witch on the grounds. They want to be able to prove that the Ministry shouldn’t get involved in schooling like that. Fudge and Dumbledore don’t know what they have wrought themselves.”

“What about the rest of the Slytherins?” Draco asked. Severus turned to look at him while Harry grabbed his hand to hold it.

“What do you mean?”

“What about the Slytherins who are not from families who support the Dark Lord?”

“That is up to you all. I can’t make anyone like them.”

“I have an idea.” Luna’s voice was an oddity for most of them, who were not used to hearing her. “If Harry and Draco come out to the school, while Harry still has all of us be his friends, there are few who would have the wherewithal to stand up and proclaim that Draco was turning him. Especially with his very public leaving from his father’s house along with his mother. If the Malfoy heir can do it, why not the rest and then of course others would be seen in different lights. Also the word about Pettigrew has been spreading over the past year. The world knows that not all Dark wizards are from Slytherin.”

“You have a very good point, Ms. Lovegood. Harry, Draco?”

“I guess we could,” Harry said looking at Draco’s face. There was a giant play of emotions on his face. “It might make Draco a bigger target though. He would be seen as a way to get to me.”

“I would take that risk. The more that we show that we don’t bow to evil the more that other students will not do it. We would have to be a united front. There can be no one who shows an ounce of hesitance in my acceptance into the group. Last year I skirted the group and no one thought it odd. This year there will be anger over me being part of your little group.”

“It’s not so little anymore, Draco.” Harry waved his hand to encompass the kitchen. “There are eight where there used to be three. Add in others who will be skirting the group and there will be many more. I would love to have a chance to invite Pansy and Blaise. You speak of them much and both would be very nice additions. Ten is such a nice number.”

“You are forgetting Astoria and Cho, Harry. What about them?” Hermione asked.

“I count them as the ones skirting the group. They are not as tight as the rest of us. I trust them with my life but I won’t trust them with Draco’s.  Astoria didn’t take me not liking her that way well at the beginning of summer. Cho was more into Cedric than she was our group but she knows why we are doing what we are doing and agrees with us.”

“You have a knack for making friends when you need them most and keeping them close, son.” Harry looked over at Severus and smiled. “I also will need you all to give me anything you would like to get into the school but not run the risk of it being found in the event of a search. I will not ask questions and the items will be returned to you in your dorms upon the arrival of your trunks to your rooms. I will be taking Harry’s cloak with my along with Harry, Draco, and the Twin’s Marauder’s map. Anything else needs to be given to me by two days before the first day of school.”

“Won’t the House Elves find it odd that new things are put into our things?” Hermione asked.

“I will make sure that the items are put into your rooms long after the House Elves leave the room. I know how to sneak things around the castle without the Headmaster getting wind of it.”

“What are we to do with the new teacher?” Draco asked bringing everyone attention away from Severus for a second.

“What do you mean?”

“She won’t stand of any of us being friends especially not Harry and I. She cannot influence me outside of school, not as much as I am sure she can with the rest of the students. Even with my mother and I’s change of hearts I am sure that she…”

“…Will not care two figs? Your teacher will think that you are doing what I am sure most of the rest of the world will be thinking that Harry is gullible and that you are playing Harry to hand him over to the Dark Lord. You Draco and the other Slytherins will be the low man on the totem pole because she won’t see you as a threat. My snakes have a way of keeping quiet and out of the way and not getting into fights that are not theirs. She won’t see you coming when you defend Harry. That will be her mistake.”

“Will she be all that bad?” Neville asked.

“I don’t know.” Severus looked at a clock on the wall. “Everyone else will be wanting lunch and I need to get out of here. I expect you all to behave on the train. I want no word of any acting up. Those who do will be severely punished.”

xXxXxXx

“Does he have what it takes to survive this?”

“Yes, he does. Just knowing Harry has given him the backbone you didn’t grow until you have Draco.”

“Does this put him in more danger than he should be in while being at school?”

“Not this year. This year will be the testing year. Everyone will be deciding if he truly is on Harry’s side or not.”

“Has he told you of his plans?”

“That he wants the Prophecy? Yes. I know. He will find it hard to get on his own and near impossible to get Harry out of the school much less into the Ministry to retrieve it.”

“He will still try. I know that I won’t be seeing you much after school starts but I will try and keep an ear out for his plans.”

“As I will as well to what is to happen to you.”

“It will be odd not having Cissa around. The Manor is bleak already without her and having Draco gone so soon is a reminder of what will be coming soon.”

“He won’t be content to sit around forever. He will be prone to action soon. Then the world will see that he is back.”

“How go the foreign efforts?”

“Many countries are preparing for sending aid but are doing so without Fudge getting wind. They believe the memories the older children have given. Unlike last time they see that once the Dark Lord is done with us, he will go after the world. America has already promised safety routes to all of our children that can make it into France if it comes to it. France has already set up the area for the International Floos and Portkeys. Fudge is burying his head and when the rest of our fair nations figure it out they will cry for blood.”

“I think that the Dark Lord will not find a meek nation as he did before.”

“Oh no. Most of the nation is weak but he underestimates our friends this time.”

xXxXxXx

Grimmauld Place was a flurry of activity as the adults and children get ready for school. Clothes had to be found and packed into the proper trunk. Animals caught and placed in cages so that they wouldn’t need to be in the morning.

Even though everyone was in an upbeat mood, Harry couldn’t shake the fear that he shouldn’t be going to school this year.

e Dar�ar.��� �o and the other Slytherins will be the low man on the totem pole because she won’t see you as a threat. My snakes have a way of keeping quiet and out of the way and not getting into fights that are not theirs. She won’t see you coming when you defend Harry. That will be her mistake.”

“Will she be all that bad?” Neville asked.

“I don’t know.” Severus looked at a clock on the wall. “Everyone else will be wanting lunch and I need to get out of here. I expect you all to behave on the train. I want no word of any acting up. Those who do will be severely punished.”

xXxXxXx

“Does he have what it takes to survive this?”

“Yes, he does. Just knowing Harry has given him the backbone you didn’t grow until you have Draco.”

“Does this put him in more danger than he should be in while being at school?”

“Not this year. This year will be the testing year. Everyone will be deciding if he truly is on Harry’s side or not.”

“Has he told you of his plans?”

“That he wants the Prophecy? Yes. I know. He will find it hard to get on his own and near impossible to get Harry out of the school much less into the Ministry to retrieve it.”

“He will still try. I know that I won’t be seeing you much after school starts but I will try and keep an ear out for his plans.”

“As I will as well to what is to happen to you.”

“It will be odd not having Cissa around. The Manor is bleak already without her and having Draco gone so soon is a reminder of what will be coming soon.”

“He won’t be content to sit around forever. He will be prone to action soon. Then the world will see that he is back.”

“How goes the foreign efforts?”

“Many countries are preparing for sending aid but are doing so without Fudge getting wind. They believe the memories the older children have given. Unlike last time they see that once the Dark Lord is done with us, he will go after the world. America has already promised safety routes to all of our children that can make it into France if it comes to it. France has already set up the area for the International Floos and Portkeys. Fudge is burying his head and when the rest of our fair nations figure it out they will cry for blood.”

“I think that the Dark Lord will not find a meek nation as he did before.”

“Oh no. Most of the nation is weak but he underestimates our friends this time.”

xXxXxXx

Grimmauld Place was a flurry of activity as the adults and children get ready for school. Clothes had to be found and packed into the proper trunk. Animals caught and placed in cages so that they wouldn’t need to be in the morning.

Even though everyone was in an upbeat mood, Harry couldn’t shake the fear that he shouldn’t be going to school this year.

Chapter Sixty One-Lover’s Revealed
The train ride was unremarkable except for the faces that stared at Draco and Harry walking together. None of Draco’s Slytherin friends even acted like they wanted to approach him on the train which Harry thought was good. It was best to save that for when they were all inside the school and adults were nearby. The carriage ride was dreary and dull. Everyone was too excited to be back to try and really talk. Many of what they would have normally talked about had already been talked about while at Grimmauld Place.

Harry hated to say goodbye to Draco as they had to split to separate tables for the feast. The couple had stopped holding hands when they had left the carriage and hadn’t started it back up. That was for later. As he sat down his attention was drawn up to the teacher’s table and the woman sitting there. Harry knew her from the trial. She had been very upset that he hadn’t been thrown in jail. He decided to track his eyes down the table and see the rest of the teachers. Hagrid wasn’t there in place of him was the same woman who always subbed for the class. He looked at Severus and then looked at Hagrid’s spot but all Severus did was shrug his shoulders.

The Sorting Hat sang a song of a united school and Harry looked at his friends he sat with and those at other tables and smiled at them. Harry didn’t listen as Dumbledore went over the same old school rules his attention was caught when he started on the two new teachers.

“We are very pleased to welcome back Professor Grubbly-Plank, who will be taking Care of Magical Creatures lessons; we are also delighted to introduce Professor Umbridge, our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.” The applause was small for Umbridge. She looked like a toad and Harry didn’t like the look of her one bit. Harry watched her as she looked around the room at her new charges. Harry almost missed her interrupting Dumbledore so that she could talk. Harry didn’t listen with his whole mind as she talked about getting to know and become friends with the students. Instead he watched her face, it was hiding a lot, he could tell.

Listening to her every word after that was very easy; she slipped meaningful words in with her honey like voice. It was as they all feared; the Ministry was stepping into the school and changing what they wanted, no matter what happened to the students and their education. Harry watched her throughout the rest of Dumbledore’s speech and then when they were released, Harry stood up and met Draco where he was gathering his First Years along with Pansy Parkinson.

Pansy’s eyes grew wide as Harry stepped closer. Draco had his back to where Harry was coming from.

“Draco?” Pansy asked as she pointed. Draco spun around and smiled at Harry.

“Pansy meet Harry. Harry meet Pansy.” Draco leaned in close to Pansy and gave Harry a smirk before he whispered in her ear. “My boyfriend.”

“Your boy…my, my haven’t we been busy over the summer.” Pansy grabbed Harry’s arm and linked it with hers. “Want to help us with our herd?”

“Herd? Really Pansy! First Years!” Draco called as he looked at the other students who were rushing out of the hall. Draco waited until all the higher years of Slytherin students and all of the other Houses were out of the Great Hall before he started his trek with the students. Pansy and Harry brought up the rear.

“We do this in case students try and get themselves lost the first night. Makes much less work for us in the long run.” Pansy hadn’t let go of his arm so he had no choice but to follow her down into dungeons were the Slytherin common room was. “So Potter, are you the reason that Draco has fled from his father and taken his mother with him?”

“No.” Harry leaned close so that only she could hear him. They were going to be honest with everyone about their relationship. “This started long before Draco fled from the Manor taking his mother with him.”

Pansy looked at him, scandalized. She recovered quickly. “And why are you telling me these things?”

“Because Draco trusts you and he need friends he can trust in the snake pit that is your Houses common room. I want him to remain alive so that we can stay in a relationship.”

“And you are going to flaunt it to the school?”

“Oh, yes we are. We are going to make the school tolerate us as a couple and then we are going to make them tolerate your House as a whole.”

“Sounds diabolical. I want in.” Pansy released his arm as the final students started to trickle into the common room. Draco was standing at the entrance watching the students while keeping an eye on Pansy and Harry.

“Draco figured that you might. Now, I have enjoyed our talk but I must get going to my own house before they send a search party.”

“Without kissing Draco goodnight? You are a horrible boyfriend.”

“No, Pans. He is just waiting until the First Years are gone.” Draco leaned in and gave Harry a kiss on the mouth before following the students into the common room.

xXxXxXx

Harry was surprised to find the Dumbledore was at breakfast the next morning in the Great Hall. In fact most of the teachers were. Harry heard the voices in the room rise as he walked down the tables to try and find Hermione so that he could sit with her. Everyone was staring at him. He looked to the Slytherin table but found that Draco was not there. He looked back up at the teacher’s tables and saw that both Draco and Pansy were there talking to Dumbledore. Harry almost walked up to join them but stopped and just sat down at an empty spot at the table. It was really early and it was mainly the older students in the Great Hall.

Up at the table, Draco’s hands were flying everywhere. He was talking empathetically, Harry could tell. He wondered what it was about. After another minute or two, Pansy looked back and found Harry’s sitting. She smiled at him and crooked her finger, telling him to join them. Harry quickly stood and started walking up to the table. When he was halfway there, he noticed that Umbridge was also making her way to the small group that was talking. They both arrived at the same time.

“What have we here?”

“This is a Headmaster duty, Professor and therefore does not include you.” Dumbledore looked at her and gave her a giant smile.

Harry watched as Umbridge turned a nice shade of purple before she stomped off and out of the Great Hall.

Draco speaking drew Harry out of watching Umbridge fleeing the room. No doubt to send a letter to Fudge.

“So there is nothing to stop us?”

“No, my boy. There is not. I don’t know if you will be safe through.”

“I am sure that Pansy, Blaise, and I will be quite safe. I am sure the lions will not kill a few visiting snakes or vice versa.”

“I see. And you know this how?” Dumbledore asked as he looked at Harry.

“Because the rest of the Gryffindors will not bother him at all and if they do decide to, I am sure that either the Ravenclaws or the Hufflepuffs will allow us refuge.”

“So you are willing to sit with the Slytherin?” Dumbledore asked Harry point blank.

Harry looked over at Draco who just nodded. Harry reached out his hand and Draco clasped it.

“Why would I shun the house of my boyfriend?”

Dumbledore looked down at the hands and looked shocked. He looked back and forth between the hands and Harry’s face. “My boy, are you sure?”

“I am quite sure.”

“Then I say have fun. I’ll make the announcement about the seating arrangements at dinner but feel free to sit as you like from now on.”

Harry started to open his mouth but Draco starting to back up and pull Harry with him had Harry just smiling at Dumbledore. It was too easy. Dumbledore should have put up much more of a fight. Harry was sure that this was going to come back and bite him.

“So Mr. Potter. Dare we sit together?” Pansy asked as she linked arms with Harry again.

Even after last night, Harry was not ready for it and jumped a little.

“Don’t worry she does it to everyone that she likes,” Draco said as he let go of Harry’s hand and sat down where Harry and his friends would normally sit at breakfast. Hermione was on the other side of the table with a book out. Harry didn’t know when she had come in but he was happy that she had.

“Good morning, Hermione.” Pansy practically chirped. Hermione looked up and was a little surprised but still smiled at Pansy and then looked at Draco and Harry.

“Good morning. Are you allowed…?” Hermione trailed off and waved at the table.

“Yes. I was just asking the Headmaster about it and there are no rules that stop us. It just another little step in our plan to get the rest of the houses to like Slytherin. You don’t mind do you?”

“I’ll never mind anything that brings another girl into the group.” Hermione smiled and shut her book as more and more people were coming into the Great Hall. More bodies were sitting down beside them all at the Gryffindor table. Neville and Ron were the first with Fred and George following. A few minutes after them were Luna and Blaise. Introductions were made around the table. It was over a half an hour of discussions before the schedules were passed out.

Draco started to look around to find Snape when a schedule was put in front of his face.

“Your Head of House figured that you would be here so he handed me all of your schedules. Miss Lovegood, I have yours as well. Next year, please let your Head know where you are. This will make it all much easier.”

Four heads bobbed up and down before McGonagall moved away from them. Draco looked Harry in the eye before starting to laugh.

“I figured that she would be nicer to her students outside of class.”

“No, she is like that all the time,” Fred answered reaching across Draco for a rasher of bacon. Draco looked at him a little in shock but it wasn’t a bad shock.

“All the Weasley’s are rather blasé about reaching.” Hermione gave Ron a look and Draco looked at his plate which was full of food. “They know that if they don’t’ get what they want right off then they won’t have a chance to get more. Not that they don’t…”

“I understand. There are a lot of them and the good stuff goes first. I know that their mother feeds them properly. Still I am used to the Slytherins at school. Reaching like that could get your hand chopped off.”

“Wow. I am glad you are here then.” Harry smiled at Draco and started to look at his schedule. His schedule wasn’t going to be too hard for the year. He liked all of his classes and even with DADA it was going to be a good year.

Many students stopped at the table to talk to either Harry or Draco and Harry knew it was because they wanted to see if for themselves. Even when people weren’t stopping, Harry would touch Draco more than he normally would have allowed himself. He wanted everyone to see the relationship. He wanted everyone to see that not all of Slytherin was going to turn into Dark Wizards.

As the day continued, Harry noticed that the house lines were being blurred. By lunch, everyone was sitting where they wanted. The Patil twins were seated at the Gryffindor table at lunch and the Ravenclaw at dinner. Harry was happy. He looked up at Umbridge many times throughout all the meals and saw that she was not happy. Harry snorted. He was not going to be an easy teacher to please and he didn’t care if she was ever pleased.

That night at dinner, Draco leaned over and whispered into Harry’s ear.

“I think we are the most talked about couple in the school. I think it’s hot.”

Chapter Sixty Two-Toady Teacher
Harry entered Potions and smiled. History of Magic had been horrible but he had been antsy the entire time due to wanting to go to Potions. He stopped through when he saw that there were name on the backs of chairs. Other students were already in the class and just standing in the back. Severus was not in the room. Harry looked at the other students and saw that they were looking at the front desk. A raven was sitting on the edge of the cauldron that Severus used. Harry smiled and started to look for his seat.

As he looked at the names on the backs of the chairs he noticed a trend, there was a Slytherin and a Gryffindor at each table. He found that Ron was with Blaise while Hermione was with Pansy. He was sitting with Draco of course. It wasn’t until Draco, Hermione, Ron, Blaise, and Pansy all came into the room and sat down that the rest of the students did so.

There was no talking in the class everyone was silent, no one understood the seating and were all a little weirded out by it and the raven at the front of the class. Five minutes into when class was supposed to begin, the raven cawed and jumped off the cauldron to shift into Severus’s form. The class gasped.

“Welcome back to another year at Hogwarts. I know that many of you are dreading having me so early on Mondays. You have a right to dread. This year will be a little different. I have not given you assigned seating on a whim to torture you. Slytherins and Gryffindors have been at each other throats more and more over the years and I find that I don’t like it. I know that my past actions have given you other ideas. No more. After today you can pick where you want to sit but you have to sit with someone from another House. Pairings that cannot get over their hatred will be deducted points for any outright sabotage or cruelty. Not doing your best just to get at your partner will earn you detention. Mr. Longbottom. I see that you have noticed that you are alone. During the theory and lecture you can stay at your current table but when the actual potions work begins you have two options, you may pair with me or you may pair with Mr. Potter and Mr. Malfoy.”

“Th- thank you, Professor.” Neville stuttered a little. “I will…think about it before deciding.”

Harry knew why Severus was doing that with him. Neville would not be able to work and learn as much from the others and on some potions it would be best that he works with Severus.

“As for the rest of you, I have three potions listed on the board. I do not care what order you do them in but I want all three done before the end of class. Both partners have to work on the same potion. You cannot work on one alone. Mr. Longbottom, today it would be best if you worked with Misters Potter and Malfoy, I will be moving around the room looking for issues. Begin.”

Harry looked up at the board that flipped around. It was three very easy potions for Draco and himself, Neville would need some help but he was sure that with their help the group could get the potions done in well under the class time limit.

“Wow,” was all that Neville said when he set his bag down beside their table and pulled out his Potions text.

“He told me that he was going to be changing the class a little, I wasn’t expecting this.”

“He’s your…you know what. I would have thought he would have told you everything,” Draco said as he stood up and moved to start grabbing items from the stores at the back of the room.

It was just under an hour and the trio was done with their potions. All three samples had their names on them and were sitting on Severus’s desk. Severus looked at them from the back of the room where he was helping a duo on the proper cutting of potato root.

“You three may go. There is no homework tonight.”

The trio smiled at each other and then scrambled to gather their things and get out. They could get an early start on the homework they had already been given from their first class.

xXxXxXx

Harry was looking forward to his first class with Umbridge, he had just come from Ancient Runes with Hermione, who had gone back to the Common Room for something. He wanted to know the exact measure of her and how to deal with her. He was one of the first to arrive and found that Draco had beaten him. Pansy and Blaise were at the table behind him.

“I assume that this seat is for me?” Harry asked setting his bag down on the table. Draco turned his head to look at Harry and cocked one of his eyebrows.

“Actually, I am saving that for Granger. I thought it was time that I got to know her better.”

Harry watched his face as he spoke. Draco betrayed no emotion at all. Harry continued to stare at his face until a not so quiet ‘hem’ came from the front of the class. Harry jerked his eyes to Umbridge.

“Please, sit down in a seat, Mr. Potter.”

“Yes, Professor.” Harry sat down and stared at her for a few seconds more before turning back to Draco.

“Miss Parkinson, Mr. Zabini. I am afraid that you will have to separate. I will allow no boy-girl seating in my classroom.”

Blaise nodded and stood up, moving to the desk beside Harry and Draco. Draco snorted and Harry was pretty sure that he knew why. She would not allow boy-girl seating but she was allowing Harry and Draco to sit beside one another, and they were boyfriends.

“She must not know,” Pansy said low enough so that Harry and Draco could hear but not Umbridge.

Footsteps alerted them to the fact they were not alone but it was only Ron and Hermione.

“Hermione, come sit with me. Ronald, you can sit with Blaise.”

Ron looked shocked up looked at Harry who just smiled, it was the same seating as Potions. Ron smiled and sat down. That seemed to be the catalyst because everyone seemed to flood into the room then and no one had a chance to talk before class started.

“Well, good afternoon!” she said when finally the whole class had sat down. A few people mumbled “Good afternoon,” in reply.

“Tut, tut,” said Professor Umbridge. “That won’t do, now, will it? I should like you, please, to reply ‘Good afternoon, Professor Umbridge.’ One more time, please. Good afternoon, class!”

“Good afternoon, Professor Umbridge,” they chanted back at her. Harry chuckled a little at the end and Draco snorted. Umbridge didn’t hear them.

“There, now,” said Professor Umbridge sweetly. “That wasn’t too difficult, was it? Wands away and quills out, please.”

Harry hadn’t expected that at all. He knew that she wouldn’t be teaching them a lot but not even wand movement for spells and such. That was even worse than what he thought. He looked at Draco whose eyes were wide as well.

Umbridge walked over and tapped her wand against the board and words appeared on it

Defense Against the Dark Arts
A Return to Basic Principles

Course aims:
1. Understanding the principles underlying defensive magic.
2. Learning to recognize situations in which defensive magic
can legally be used.
3. Placing the use of defensive magic in a context for
practical use.

“Well now, your teaching in this subject has been rather disrupted and fragmented, hasn’t it? The constant changing of teachers, many of whom do not seem to have followed any Ministry-approved curriculum, has unfortunately resulted in your being far below the standard we would expect to see in your O.W.L. year. You will be pleased to know, however, that these problems are now to be rectified. We will be following a carefully structured, theory centered, Ministry-approved course of defensive magic this year. Copy down the following, please.”

There was the scratching of quills for a few minutes and then silence as Umbridge looked around the room.’

“Good. Please take out your books and open to page five and start reading chapter one.”

The flipping of pages and then silence greeted Harry. He opened his book but found it hard to concentrate since he had already read the book. He discreetly looked around the room and found a shock, Hermione’s book was closed and her hand was in the air.

“Do you have a question about the chapter, Miss…?”

“Hermione Granger and no. I have a question about the course aims.”

“I think that they are perfectly clear if you read them carefully.”

“There is nothing about teaching us to use defensive spells on the board.”

“Are you expecting to be attacked in class? Why ever would you need to use defensive spells in my classroom?”

“We’re not going to use magic?” Ron ejaculated loudly.

“Students raise their hands when they wish to speak in my class, Mr. …?”

“Weasley,” said Ron, thrusting his hand into the air. Umbridge turned her back on him and Harry immediately raised his hand, Draco and Hermione followed. Umbridge looked at them all and then focused on Draco.

“Mr…?”

“Draco Malfoy. Surely the class of Defense Against the Dark Arts is meant to teach us how to deal and defend ourselves against the Dark Arts.”

“Are you a fully trained Ministry educational expert, Mr. Malfoy?”

“No, I am not but I have been studying the subject of teaching as I wish to be a teacher when I graduate from Hogwarts. Everything I have read about subjects is that classes that pertain to the use of wands should have the lesson taught in a practical, safe setting so that the student can learn the spells in an environment that is safe so that when the time comes to use them in the real world, the student can be confident.”

“I see. I would love to know the books you have read this from because all of the research done by the Ministry of Magic show that a theoretical teaching of spells is all a student needs. Students need not be attacked by a teacher or another student to learn what they need to pass their exams. That is the point of school is it not?” Umbridge looked around the class and settled on a student that was almost directly behind Harry. “And your name is?”

“Parvati Patil, and isn’t there a practical bit in our Defense Against the Dark Arts O.W.L.? Aren’t we supposed to show that we can actually do the countercurses and things?”

“If one has studied the theoretical hard enough that will be enough to get you through the practical parts of your exams.”

Harry raised his hand up again and many in the room put their down. Umbridge looked around the room and seemingly grimaced when she saw that Harry had his up but she nodded at him.

“So the first time that we will ever be casting the spells will be under a very stressful test where we have no clue if we are even doing the wand movement exactly as they should be?”

“As I have stated, studying the theory will be enough.”

Harry raised his hand again and Umbridge nodded again.

“School is meant to prepare a Witch or Wizard for life. So what happens when we graduate Hogwarts and we want a job that we need Defense training for? Will we have to pay for tutors to teach us so that we can enter the job field?”

“Your training you get should be adequate for any job you would find.”

“So we will never go up against or even see some of these creatures we are to defend ourselves against?”

“Learning the theories will be enough to get you any job that you wish.”

He noticed that she hadn’t actually answered his question. In fact, everyone in the class had noticed that Umbridge had sidestepped the questions put to her. Harry nodded at sat down. He wasn’t giving up. He was just giving himself space to work things out. Harry raised his hand again.

“Yes, Mr. Potter” Umbridge’s voice was hard enough while still honeyed that Harry was sure she didn’t really want to hear what he had to ask.

“I just have one comment to make. I thank you, Professor Umbridge for not taking on Transfiguration or Charms as your class to teach. Hogwarts students wouldn’t even be able to lift a feather with their spells or door a mouse into a matchbox with your method of teaching.”

The entire class gasped and Draco swatted him on the arm, hard.

“Mr. Potter thank you for your childish speech. It has earned you a week in detention with me and Mr. Malfoy; you have earned three days for hitting another student. Now please read chapter one and there will be no more talking for the rest of the class.”

Umbridge sat down and stared out at the class while they read. Harry sat and looked as if he was reading but he wasn’t. Instead he was thinking. He was making plans on making sure that the parents of the students at Hogwarts knew the education they were paying for that the children here were not getting.

Chapter Sixty Three-Evil Incarnate
At dinner that night, Harry found himself cornered by Angelina Johnson. He looked back at his friends asking for help but they just stayed where they were at, even Draco who just shrugged.

“You landed yourself in detention?” Angelina asked.

“Yea, I…”

“Stood up against that witch?”

Harry looked up in shock at her.

“Yeah.”

“Good. Tryouts for keeper were that night but I talked to McGonagall. I was able to ask her to move them to early Saturday morning. Slytherin also had to reschedule theirs. They are going to be following us on Saturday morning. Professor Snape came and asked me himself when he should schedule his. He was very…nice for him.”

“I am sorry about it. I just…”

“I know. Hermione told me all about it a little bit ago. Just try not to get too many more.”

Harry nodded at her and smiled. She clapped him on the shoulder and then walked off. Harry looked back at his friends who were just smiling. Draco patted the seat beside him and Harry sat down.

“I need to speak to Professor Snape before I head to detention. Just don’t do anything stupid before I get there.” Draco stood and his hand lingered on Harry’s shoulder for a second before he went off, heading towards the dungeons. Harry waved at his retreating back and piled his plate full for food to eat quickly before he headed off to detention. The table was silent as the meal went on. No one knew what to say. Finally, after half an hour, Harry stood up and left himself. He waved at his friends and made his way to the DADA room.

He knocked and was greeted with a jovial “Come in, Mr. Potter.” Harry pushed open the door and found Draco already there. He was seated at a desk and there was another just opposite Draco’s. He was sure that was for him. He set down his bag and didn’t take out his wand. He just left it poking out of his bag, within reach if need be. He was very sure that he would not be doing anything with it all during the detention. Harry looked at Draco and saw that his was also within reach. Draco smiled at Harry before Umbridge could catch him.

“Good evening. Please put away your wands. You won’t need them. Now, you are both going to be doing lines.”

Harry and Draco both leaned down to pull out their quills.

“No, not with your own quill.” She stood up from her seat and moved around her desk to hand each of them a quill. “This is a very special quill. You will both write ‘I must not tell lies.’ So that you will stop telling dirty, nasty lies about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.”

“How many times?” Harry asked as he looked from the quill to Umbridge.

“As many time as it takes for the message to sink in.” Umbridge moved back around the desk and sat down. Harry looked to Draco who looked scared. That cemented it in Harry’s mind. It was a Blood Quill. Harry started to scratch away the sentences. In seconds, his hand started to hurt. He looked up and saw that Draco’s hand was the same. He watched as Draco passed a hand over the skin of his hand, knowing that it wouldn’t take away the pain.

The detention was long and brutal. Harry knew that his hand had never hurt so badly in his life. Finally, though, it was over. Both boys pick up their bags and left the room without saying a word to Umbridge after she told them to have a good night. Blood dripped in the hallway as the boys walked but they didn’t care. Without a word, both headed to the dungeons and to Severus’s rooms. Harry almost knock on his father’s room with his bleeding hand but stopped and used his other. Severus opened the door and looked at them for a few seconds before ushering them inside. He didn’t ask any questions at all as he shut the door.

“What happened?” Severus asked when the door was shut. He looked back and forth between the two boys.

“I would like to meet with the Governors tonight.” Draco draped himself in a chair and pulled his wand out of the bag he set at his feet. “Please have McGonagall come with us as well.”

“What happened? I would like to know before waking the Governors and dragging them into London for a meeting with two fifteen-year-olds and two professors.”

“Professor Umbridge is using a detention too that was banned from the English Wizarding world over a hundred years ago.” Draco’s voice was snotty as he transfigured a set of bandages out of blank parchment he pulled off Severus’s end table. He wrapped his own hand before waving Harry over and wrapping his as well. “Send a Patronus to my father. Tell him I was injured.”

Severus just stared at him for a few seconds before looking at Harry, and then he went to bedroom to send the Patronus alone. Harry knew that Draco was only acting like that because he was upset. Severus returned to the room a few minutes later. When he returned and looked at Harry’s hand, which was when the teens noticed that they were still holding hands. Draco just shrugged and pulled on Harry’s hand a little until they were both seated in the chair, he never let go of Harry’s hand. It was just a little while until they received word from Lucius that the Governors would be waiting at the London house by the time that the four of them arrived.

Severus made the both of them wait in his room while he went to get McGonagall. He didn’t want Umbridge seeing them with him and her at all until they were leaving. They the two professors arrived back in the room, McGonagall was holding Harry’s invisibility cloak. Harry looked at her face and saw that she was thoroughly miffed. She wasn’t speaking and her lips were so thin that Harry couldn’t see them.

“You two staying under the cloak will be safer. It would not do to have Umbridge catch us on the way out and think something is up. Lucius is telling the Dark Lord nothing about who this emergency meeting of the Governors is about.”

Draco took the cloak from McGonagall and flung it around himself. He was slightly taller than Harry so it made sense to have him be the one to put it on first.

xXxXxXx

Harry and Draco were still under the cloak when they arrived by Apparition at a house in central London. A house elf led them to a dining room that held a very large table. Seated on the opposite side of where they were led in were eleven men and women. Lucius was standing just inside the doorway into the room. He held out his hand to Harry, who immediately gave is injured hand over. Lucius unwrapped the hand with care and touched the skin around the writing on the back of his hand.

“Please show the rest, Mr. Potter. I will attend to Draco’s wounds. When you are done I will attend yours as well. How many more days of detention so you both possess?”

“Draco was given three days and I a week,” Harry said as he rounded the table to show the first Governor.

“What brought this on?” The first Governor asked as Harry proffered his hand up for inspection. The Governor grunted and waved Harry on.

Harry started the story, glad that Draco piped in bits where his own memory failed. Harry finished up when he had shown the last Governor. He could tell that as the story went, they were getting madder and madder, more so when they saw his hand.

“So she is not teaching the techniques needed to protect oneself?” The last Governor, a woman, asked as she poked at Harry’s hand with her wand, but did not hurt it. Harry shook his head. When she released his hand, Harry rounded the table and went straight back to Lucius. Lucius held his hand, lightly, and cast a few spells on it. The wounds started to close up and the pain went away.

“The Blood Quill is meant to maim. The scars wills stay but fade over time. This will heal it completely though. Professor McGonagall, why was she allowed to use this? Was she not instructed on what was to be used on a student and what was not?”

“The Headmaster made her aware. I was there as was all the staff of Hogwarts. We were not aware that she was going to go to these extremes. I will make sure that the Headmaster is aware, when I return.”

“There will be no need. The Headmaster’s hand will be tied. The Ministry is taking too much control. Putting a teacher in when the Headmaster can’t find one, that Decree we agree with but we will be making stipulations. Only we will be able to do anything about her. No child should be scarred from being at school, nor should they be sent into the world with an incomplete education. Tomorrow Mr. Potter and Mr. Malfoy you will go to your respective Heads of House to serve your remaining detentions. All students shall serve their detentions with their Heads of House from now until we say otherwise. If the Headmaster can’t or won’t protect his students, we may need to look into finding a replacement for next year.”

“The Minister thinks he can control what is not his to control. He will find that he cannot. Hold your tongue children. The grievances will be aired and justice sought but we must bide out time. Return to school and know that you will be safe.”

Harry and Draco both bowed to the Governors and turned around. McGonagall took his arm while Severus took Draco’s. They were silent as they walked back down the hall. When they stopped at the door, Severus placed the cloak over both of them and they stepped outside. Once all four were outside, Severus reached under the cloak and grasped both teens hands and they Apparated into Hogsmeade.

“Mr. Potter, please heed their warning. I would hate to have Umbridge step into the matters even more.”

“I know how to hold my tongue, Professor. You need not worry. Professor Umbridge will not like having detentions taken out of her hands, though.”

“That is for us to deal with, Harry.” Severus said as he stepped up and pulled the cloak off of both of them. He grabbed Harry’s hand and pulled it up to look at it. “Professor McGonagall will take you both to your dorms. I have matters to attend to. Your cloak will be in your room in the morning, Harry. I wouldn’t want Umbridge to see you with it.”

Draco linked his arms with Harry’s and pulled in in the direction of the school. McGonagall walked behind them.

“As least is happened to us.”

Draco stopped and looked at him sharply. McGonagall who was not ready for the sudden stop almost hit them.

“What if it had been some first years?”

“I shudder at the thought,” McGonagall said her voice full of venom. She gave them both a little shove on their backs to get them moving again.

“I am working on something, Professor that I want to speak to the rest of the Prefects and the Head Boy and Girls about. I was hoping I could get permission from you to have a small meeting in your office, one morning before breakfast.”

“When?”

“Wednesday. It shouldn’t take long at all and no one will be late for class.”

“Be my guest. I will sure that Professor Umbridge doesn’t get wind and if she does, I will make sure she stays away. Just don’t’ do anything rash.”

“Malfoy’s are never rash, Professor. I thought you would have known that by now.”

“Come along, you both need sleep.”

Chapter Sixty Four
At breakfast on Tuesday morning, Dumbledore stood up when most of the students and teachers had arrived and cleared his throat. It was so rare that he made any announcements at breakfast that everyone quickly stopped whatever they were doing and looked to him.

“Good morning students and professors. I just have a quick announcement to make. It seems that the Governors for Hogwarts are going to be visiting over the next few weeks and want to see about reviewing policies here at the school. In that end they have made one change. They have decided to make a change. Educational Decree Number Twenty Three states that all detentions will be over seen by the offenders Head of House. They stated that the reasoning is because of a few parents and their complaints over the summer. They also wish to state that they are very sorry that they were unable to pass this Decree before the start of term.”

Harry smiled over at Draco and ran a hand over the back of his scared hand. Lucius had been right and it had healed up nicely. He got no pain from it and it didn’t hurt to move. Still it ached when he thought of it. He knew it was phantom pain. He looked up at Umbridge and saw her staring at Dumbledore with barely concealed anger. He was sure that she thought it was him that had forced the hand of the Governors. He had to look away quickly when she started to turn her head to look at them. He did watch her out of the corner of his eye.

“I think you and I should not be in the halls alone,” Draco said quietly, flicking his eyes up to where Umbridge was. Harry nodded back at him.

“What brought this on?” Hermione asked.

“What makes you think that I know?” Harry asked.

“Because Harry, I know that Professor McGonagall dropped you off very late last night and your hand has a new scar on the back of it that matches the one that Draco has and it has something to do with lies.

“We’ll tell you later.”

xXxXxXx

Wednesday morning dawned early for Harry. His watch alarm beeped to let him know the meeting was in a half an hour, even though he had been up for about an hour. He wasn’t sleeping well most days but he wasn’t worried about. Harry quickly showered and dressed for the day. He wanted to arrive early so that hopefully he and Draco could get a few minutes to themselves.

Upon entering the Transfiguration classroom, his hopes were dashed as he saw that Draco and Hermione had their heads over sheets of paper and were talking in low tones. He watched them for a few seconds then cleared his throat. He was happy to see that at least these two were getting along. Ron was still a little distant but he had stopped calling Malfoy names when they spoke of him.

“Good, you’re here.” Hermione smiled and looked behind him. “And there’s the rest.”

Harry turned around to look and saw that there was a group behind him. There were twenty four in total, all the 5th year Prefects, minus Draco and Hermione, as well as the 6th and 7th year Prefects and the Head Boy and Girl. Harry barely looked at anyone that wasn’t in his year. He just wondered what Draco’s plan was.

“We got word from Professor McGonagall that this was a meeting to do with a study group?” Ernie MacMillan asked as he sat down at a desk. The others all paired off and sat down as well. Since Hermione and Draco were in the front, Pansy and Ron sat with each other. Harry decided to stay standing.

“Yes. I am sure that most of you have had a class with our new Defense teacher.” Draco paused while most of them nodded their faces grim. “Her methods will not do.”

“What can we do?” the 6th year female Slytherin asked.

“Hermione and I have been discussing this over the past day. We think that we have a solution. I know that most of you don’t believe that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is not back but regardless of that, our generation of witches and wizards can’t be taught sub-standard Defense Against the Dark Arts. If she won’t teach us what we need to know, then we must do it ourselves. To that effect, I have had Hermione speak with the Headmaster; he has agreed to let us use the Great Hall and several classrooms near the Great Hall for a study hall of sorts. Students can work on homework there or come to the study hall if they have questions. The First Years especially need help.”

“How can we help?” Padma asked.

“Easy, Hermione has created a rotation of sorts that will work to where there are twenty four older year students, who are the in the top of their classes will be the leaders of the study hall, while they work on their own homework or studying, they can help whoever needs help. Basically there will be two students from each of the years from 5th and up from each House. I know it sounds confusing but Hermione has found a way to make it work. We were hoping to have you be the first to sign up hoping it will make others want to help.”

“What would be in it for us?”

“OWLs and NEWTs are around the corner for all of us. This will help us review things from all years and if we help others learn new things, we can learn them better as well. I am sure that others of our same years will be having issues and maybe as a group we can work through them and help others at the same time. One night a week is all we are asking for. I have charmed a sheet of parchment to take Quidditch schedules into play, as well as games and other things and any clubs. We hope to get enough to where it is less than once a week for most.” Hermione stopped talking and looked out into the faces, most looked like they liked the idea. “The Headmaster will assign one teacher to cover watching the study hall. The classrooms will be used for actual spell work; we have four rooms we can use.”

“What about detentions?”

“I have a set of Galleons here, one for all who decide to do this. The Galleons have a Protean Charm on them. On a normal Galleon, on the side there are numerals, these refer to the Goblin who cast the coin. On these, it shows the next time you have a study hall to cover. I will also have a spell set on here that you can use to tell me and Draco of either a health emergency or a detention. Once we know we can consult the master list and find someone to cover, or just leave your spot blank for the night.”

“What about Umbridge when she covers the lessons?” Harry asked.

“All a teacher is there for is to make sure that no fights happen and that no one is injured seriously. She can’t stop the study hall because then that would make is seem that she doesn’t care at all about the students and their education. Having a generation of witches and wizards that don’t know all they should would destroy our part of the Wizarding World.”

“What is Professor Umbridge scared of?”

“I don’t know.”

“Is he really back? Headmaster Dumbledore spoke about all of the champions seeing him resurrected but is he really? The Minister doesn’t seem to think that he is.” the Head Boy asked. Hermione and Draco didn’t answer. Instead they just looked at Harry. Harry stood up and looked out into the students.

“I watched as he was resurrected using my own blood to do it. If any student wishes to see it, I have the memory and I am sure that the Headmaster would let us use his Pensieve to see it.” All the students shook their heads to say no. Harry nodded at them. “If any of you change your minds, then just let me know.”

“When are we going to start this?”

“Next week, starting Monday. We hope to have enough students signed up by then. Why don’t you all come up and sign the sheet. Please write your house, year, and any clubs you are in. I’ll charm your Galleons over the next few days and have them for you on Sunday; you can pick them up at lunch.”

Harry stood up and was the first to sign his name. This was perfect. He knew that this would help a lot and it seemed like it was going to be fun.

xXxXxXx

That night, Harry watched as Ron snuck off after dinner. He decided to follow him. He saw Ron head towards the Quidditch Pitch and start to fly around. Ron flew around the pitch a few times before he spotted Harry.

“Harry! How long have you been there?”

“Since you started. I wanted to watch you before I headed to McGonagall for my detention. You look really good. I am glad your parents got you a broom for a present for becoming a Prefect.”

“Yea, if I didn’t have my own broom I wouldn’t be able to try out. I hope I get Keeper.”

“Keep up like you are and you will. We both have a break before and after lunch on Friday, how about we hit the pitch between History of Magic and DADA?”

“Sounds great!” Ron smiled at Harry, with a giant smiled before he turned around on his broom and headed back up to practice.

Harry made his way quickly up to the castle so that he wouldn’t be late for his detention with McGonagall. He hoped that Ron kept up with the training. It would be nice to have Ron on the team as keeper.

xXxXxXx

Saturday didn’t come quite quick enough for Harry who was sure that he would fly well but between his detentions and not sleeping well, he was having a rough time of it. He put it all down to stress and was sure that when the tryouts were done and detention over with, his nights would get better.

“Ready, Harry?” Angelina asked when he was all kitted up for the try outs. Harry nodded at her and the team took the pitch to try for a new keeper.

It was a tough tryout and it brought plenty of people down to watch. Halfway through the Slytherin team came and sat to watch and wait for the Gryffindors to finish. Draco popped up on his broom to talk to Harry when it looked like the tryouts were dying down.

“How’s it going?”

“Long.”

“You don’t look well.”

“Didn’t sleep much last night.”

“Lucky Angelina’s not looking to replace you as well.”

“Ha.” Harry smiled at Draco and laughed when one of players nearly fell off their broom dodging a Bludger.

Finally, the tryouts were over and Angelina called them down. Draco stayed up and the rest of the Slytherin’s took to the pitch. Once it was announced that Ron was taking over as Keeper, the rest of the hopefuls left and Harry stayed behind to watch the Slytherins. In truth he just wanted some privacy and to watch Draco.

The Captain Montague flew over to where Harry was sitting and hovered.

“We got a few second years vying for the reserve Seeker. Malfoy wanted to know if you wanted to help us pick a member. He swears you won’t mess us up and will pick a good one.”

Harry smiled at him. “Sure. Want me to keep my Gryffindor kit on?”

“That’s fine. We are going to be releasing seven Snitches. We want to see who can catch the most but have nice form and such. Just come up when you are ready.”

It didn’t take long for Harry to get up into the air. He stayed on one end of the pitch while Malfoy took the other. He knew why Malfoy and Montague were doing this. It was showing unity between the Houses and setting an example to the Slytherin’s. It took over an hour for Draco and himself to decide on a reserve Seeker.

When it was all over and the Hufflepuffs took the pitch to practice, that was when Harry noticed that Umbridge was in the stands watching them.

Chapter Sixty Five-The Inquisitor of Hogwarts
“How do you do it Hermione?” Ron asked as he slid his parchment, quill, and book away from him. He sighed dramatically and laid his head on the desk. Hermione giggled at him a little while laying a hand on his back and rubbing. Harry chuckled as well. Ron had started to join them for their nightly study sessions when neither of them had practice and Harry no longer had detentions.

Looking up, Harry saw that the Great Hall was just as packed as it had been an hour before. It wasn’t a night for any of them to be on duty in the study hall but they liked to come in and watch. He also noticed that they were not the only ones. Many of those who were part of the leaders of the study group were in the hall. Harry looked over at the Slytherin table and saw that Draco, Pansy, and Blaise were over there helping a small group of Slytherin’s and Hufflepuff’s with something.

“Harry and I are used to it, Ron. You will as well. I am very proud of you for at least trying. You will find that it comes easier in time.”

A screech of an owl stopped all talking in the hall. Everyone looked up. It was rare to have an owl come at night.

“It’s Hermes!” Ginny said from her spot a little farther down the table. Hermes swooped around the room once before dropping a letter in Ron’s lap. In seconds, Fred, George, and Ginny were now crowded around the threesome. “Is it Percy?”

Ron picked up the letter and read the writing on the envelope. “Yea, it’s from him. I wonder what he wants.” Ron started to open the letter. He held it so that everyone could read it; he didn’t want to read it aloud.

Dear Ron, 
I have only just heard (from no less a person than the Minister of Magic himself, who has it from your new teacher, Professor Umbridge) that you have become a Hogwarts prefect. This is a wonderful coup for you. It will help you go places after Hogwarts.

I was most pleasantly surprised when I heard this news and must firstly offer my congratulations. I must admit that I have always been afraid that you would take what we might call the “Fred and George” route, rather than following in my footsteps, so you can imagine my feelings on hearing you have stopped flouting authority and have decided to shoulder some real responsibility.

But I want to give you more than congratulations, Ron; I want to give you some advice, which is why I am sending this at night rather than by the usual morning post. Hopefully you will be able to read this away from certain prying eyes and avoid awkward questions.

From something the Minister let slip when telling me you are now a prefect, I gather that you are still seeing a lot of Harry Potter. I must tell you, Ron, that nothing could put you in danger of losing your badge more than continued fraternization with that boy. Especially now that he is running around with the Malfoy boy. This will bring you nothing but trouble for the rest of your life. Malfoy’s cannot be trusted and especially ones that switch sides. Yes, I am sure you are surprised to hear this but I feel bound to tell you that Dumbledore may not be in charge at Hogwarts much longer and the people who count have a very different — and probably more accurate — view of Potters behavior. I shall say no more here, but if you look at the Daily Prophet tomorrow you will get a good idea of the way the wind is blowing — and see if you can spot yours truly!

Seriously, Ron, you do not want to be tarred with the same brush as Potter and Malfoy, it could be very damaging to your future prospects, and I am talking here about life after school too. As you must be aware, given that our father escorted him to court, Potter had a disciplinary hearing this summer in front of the whole Wizengamot and he did not come out of it looking too good. He got off on a mere technicality if you ask me and many of the people I’ve spoken to remain convinced of his guilt. Potter is continuing to deny the Minister the right to protect him because he thinks that he knows more of Dark Wizards and what they can do than the Minister himself. Potter is skirting a line that could destroy the world. He will not listen to reason and the Minister fears that he means to turn dark.

Ron if you have any information about who Potter is being raised by, please let me know so that I can let the Minister know. Or if you are afraid of Potter and him catching you sending a letter to me, please tell Professor Umbridge, she can help you. It is vital to the security of the entire Wizarding World that Potter not be in the hands of anyone who is disloyal to the survival of the Wizarding World.

This leads me to my other bit of advice. As I have hinted above, Dumbledore’s regime at Hogwarts may soon be over. Your loyalty, Ron, should be not to him, but to the school and the Ministry. I am very sorry to hear that so far Professor Umbridge is encountering very little cooperation from staff as she strives to make those necessary changes within Hogwarts that the Ministry so ardently desires (although she should find this easier from next week — again, see the Prophet tomorrow!). I shall say only this — a student who shows himself willing to help Professor Umbridge now may be very well placed for Head Boyship in a couple of years!

I am sorry that I was unable to see more of you over the summer. It pains me to criticize our parents, but I am afraid I can no longer live under their roof while they remain mixed up with the dangerous crowd around Dumbledore (if you are writing to Mother at any point, you might tell her that a certain Sturgis Podmore, who is a great friend of Dumbledore’s, has recently been sent to Azkaban for trespass at the Ministry. Perhaps that will open their eyes to the kind of petty criminals with whom they are currently rubbing shoulders). I count myself very lucky to have escaped the stigma of association with such people — the Minister really could not be more gracious to me — and I do hope, Ron, that you will not allow family ties to blind you to the misguided nature of our parents’ beliefs and actions either. I sincerely hope that, in time, they will realize how mistaken they were and I shall, of course, be ready to accept a full apology when that day comes.

Please think over what I have said most carefully, particularly the bit about Harry Potter, and congratulations again on becoming prefect.

Your brother, 
Percy

“I wonder what all that means?” Ginny asked as she sat down beside Ron. Fred and George leaned against the table and Hermione took the letter from Ron to read again. Harry looked out over the crowd and found that Draco was looking at him. Harry ticked his head a little, enough that Draco knew to come over to him.

It was silence at the table while Hermione finished reading and Draco made his way over. Hermione set the letter down and sighed. Draco picked it up to read, looking at Ron and asking a question with his eyes. Ron nodded and Draco started to read.

“I guess we should have known it. They have no way to pressure me into giving the name away but now that Percy is so high and mighty inside the Ministry, Fudge is using him to get Ron away from Harry.”

“I find it funny that now Weasley is trying to separate you and Harry by bringing me into it. Of course, Fudge still doesn’t trust me. Father still has enough influence to have things pushed away from him but when a wife and child leave the home, we are the ones cast in a bad light. Fudge is still so stupid.”

“I’m not gonna reply at all, Harry. I don’t want to give him or Fudge the satisfaction.”

Harry nodded. “Draco, what was Podmore caught doing in the Ministry?”

Draco laughed a little. “Trespass and attempted robbery. He got six months. He was trying to get into the Department of Mysteries, I’ve been informed. On that note, I need to get back to my group and us four needs to talk. Hermione please let us know when we can all meet for a little tête-à-tête.”

Draco leaned down and kissed Harry on the cheek before he sauntered off back to the Slytherin table.

“Wonder what he knows?” Ron asked.

xXxXxXx

The Gryffindor’s didn’t have to wait too long for an answer. Hermione opened her Daily Prophet and gasped, nearly dropping the fork that had been on her way to her mouth, full of eggs.

MINISTRY SEEKS EDUCATIONAL REFORM

DOLORES UMBRIDGE APPOINTED FIRST-EVER “HIGH INQUISITOR”

“Oh…” Harry said trailing off as he read the paper. As he read he heard the rest of the Great Hall got very quiet, he was sure that the rest of the school was reading the exact same thing. Harry’s blood started to boil as he read. This was exactly what the Governors were supposed to be stopping. Had they lied to Draco and himself, and Severus and McGonagall?

A small squawk of another owl pulled Harry from his reading. It was Narcissa’s owl with two small packages. Harry petted the owl and it dropped one before flying off to the other side of the room and dropping the other off to Draco. Inside was a small box of sweets and a letter tucked inside the box and under the sweets. Opening the letter, Harry saw that it was from Lucius

Dear Harry,

Please do not rise to an occasion where Umbridge would be able to punish you in any way. The Educational Decree Twenty Three still stands but don’t push things, if you do Fudge may well try and overturn it. The Governors are taking their time and going slow so that no mistakes are made. They will be acting within the fortnight but had to pass this as to not raise suspicion. Not passing it without a really good reason would have made Fudge look too close at some things. I have sent a matching letter to Draco in the same manner.

Don’t give the Ministry a reason to step in at Hogwarts more than it already has.

Lord Lucius Malfoy

Harry looked up at Draco, who looked like he had just finished reading his own letter. Draco gave him a very wicked smile. He knew that the other boy was thinking of how things would be once the Governors stepped in.

“Doesn’t seem that too many students in the school really like this new Decree.”

Harry look up at Hermione’s words and saw that most of the students were talking in hushed whispers while pointing and/or looking up at Umbridge with frowns on their faces. Umbridge sat at the table with a giant smile on her face. It was as if she thought that the whole school should be happy with her for messing up their education.

xXxXxXx

“She’s nutters. She truly thinks that she is making us better by all this crap.” Ron was fuming as he talked and stalked around his and Harry’s rooms. Neville and Ginny were guarding to make sure that no one else tried to come up. Hermione and Draco were sitting on Ron’s bed while Harry was on his own.

“She believes that she is teaching superiorly to all others who have come before. She is Fudge’s lackey through and through. He is so scared of what is coming that he thinks that controlling all of us will make him safer.”

“I just think he is stupid, Draco. I am sure that there is someone close to him that is a Death Eater and that someone is controlling him, and he is too stupid to see it.” Harry flopped backwards on his bed. He heard Draco chuckle for a few seconds before he peeked at the blonde.

“It’s almost time to go to our separate dorms. We all need to take Mr. Malfoy’s words to heart and keep our noses clean,” Hermione stated as she stood up. “We also need to keep an eye on Nott. His parents support Umbridge.”

“I’ve always kept an eye on Nott. Ever since first year. He and his family could never be trusted to be anything but supports of Voldemort.”

Chapter Sixty Six-Watched Lessons
The Day after Educational Decree Number 24 went into effect was not all that different when one just looked at the school as a whole. To see the difference in Hogwarts one had to look at the packs of students. The groups of students that wandered the halls between classes were not as they were before. It was normal to find groups of Gryffindors on their own, as well as Hufflepuffs, Ravenclaws, and Slytherins. Sometimes there would be a person or duo from another House mixed in with the others but it was rare, outside of family and lifelong friends. Now though there are groups that if one stopped and talked to, there would probably be four different colors of ties and four different crests on the robes. The school was banding together.

The difference was most striking in the Great Hall at lunchtime. When one entered before there would be a mass of black robes but if one looked carefully there would be a table of green, red, yellow, and blue. Now there were groups of colors. The table that had the most of any color was the Slytherin table, most of them stayed at their table but it was only a matter of time until they made friends with other people.

Umbridge sat at her seat at the high table at breakfast and at lunch and frowned at all the students who were mingling. The other professors at Hogwarts were happy that the students were mingling and getting along well. So far there had been no fights at all over the new order of things.

In fact no fights were broken up in the first week after Umbridge was made High Inquisitor. No student wanted to incur Umbridge’s wrath at all. Umbridge’s classes were the worst of all. She still taught nothing of import to any of the years.

The first real excitement came during Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s Transfiguration class that Umbridge was inspecting. All three arrived early just so that they could make sure they were there for the entire spectacle. Even Draco, Pansy, and Blaise arrived early. They took all three of the front row seats, the Gryffindors on one side and the Slytherins on the other with Draco and Harry sharing a table.

McGonagall arrived in her normal way, calling for order and setting about getting two students to pass out the mice and homework. Umbridge interrupted McGonagall, which made Draco snicker at the look on McGonagall’s face.

“Yes?”

“I was just wondering, Professor, whether you received my note telling you of the date and time of your…”

““Obviously I received it, or I would have asked you what you are doing in my classroom. As I was saying, today we shall be practicing the altogether more difficult vanishment of mice. Now, the Vanishing Spell —”

“Hem, hem.”

McGonagall turned on Umbridge, giving her a look that no student had ever seen before. Or if they had they never lived to tell anyone of it. It was so full of fury that the students were sure that if Umbridge had been a normal person she would have fled in fear. “I wonder how you expect to gain an idea of my usual teaching methods if you continue to interrupt me? You see, I do not generally permit people to talk when I am talking.”

Draco turned and gave Harry a quick look of triumph. Harry smiled back. Draco started to write down on a piece of paper he had out for notes. Harry thought it was just notes until the feathered tip of Draco’s quill brushed his hand. Harry looked down at it and smiled at the writing.

I can’t wait for her inspection of our class with Professor Snape.

Harry almost laughed out loud but didn’t, not wanting to draw attention to the note. The next time that Harry looked down at the note, the writing was gone. Harry gave Draco a look, who then started to write again.

Ink from the Twins. They want me to test it. Disappears after the intended reads it. Watch.

Harry watched the start of the writing start to disappear just seconds after he had read it. Harry smiled and gave him a thumbs up. Just after that both of them received their mice to use for the day on their Vanishing Spells. The class after that was a rush of nothing. Umbridge did nothing to make McGonagall any madder and the six students were disappointed. They had expected a show of fireworks but all they got was a taste.

Several days after Educational Decree Number 24, Harry got the feeling that Umbridge was following him about just to try to give him detention. Everywhere he looked and went there she was. Harry shared his feelings with everyone and only Draco took him serious, but he was sure that was just because he thought that if he didn’t Harry wouldn’t make out with him anymore. It was in the same small gathering on Friday that Harry brought up an issue with the inspected lessons.

“Remember in Transfiguration, at the start, Umbridge kept on interrupting Professor McGonagall?” Harry asked the others. The four of them were all seated at the end of the used to be Slytherin table. There were no other students around, most of them were gone after supper but before the lessons start. “She acted like McGonagall didn’t know about the inspection just because McGonagall was having us use our wands.”

“I think that she truly thinks that all magic can be taught by reading about it. We always go over the theory before we pick up a wand and look how long it takes us. We are the best in the class and still it takes us usually at least an entire lesson before we can even half say we are doing it right.” Hermione finished her small speech with the slamming closed of her Defense Against the Dark Arts book. She then propped her head up on her hand and stared out across the Great Hall into nothingness. Ron tried poking her with his quill but all she did was wave her free hand to try and make him go away.

Draco caught his eye and jerked his head, signaling that he wanted Harry to follow him. Harry packed up his bag and stood to follow Draco.

“You can stay with her Ron?” Harry asked as he passed him.

“Yea. When she comes out of her thinking trance, I’ll make sure she makes it back. You two have fun.” Ron gave Harry a giant smile and Harry had the fight the urge to blush. With all the schoolwork and issues that had popped up during the short time since school started, Harry and Draco hadn’t really been able to spend quality time alone.

Draco lead him throughout the school, heading up to the fifth floor before popping down to the third and then back up the sixth, before heading down into the dungeon.

“What?” Harry asked as they exited onto the sixth floor and heading across it to another set of stairs.

“Trust me,” Draco asked his voice soft. Harry would have brushed off a comment like that from Ron or Hermione but Harry stopped walking. Draco finally noticed that he was the only one making noise and looked behind him. Harry was still about ten feet back. Draco stopped walking and Harry caught up to him, taking quick, long steps.

“Draco, you know that I do.”

“I…I will explain when I get to where we are going. I was thinking our little hideaway but I thought that somewhere else might be best. Just follow me please.”

“Anywhere,” Harry said before he could stop himself. Draco gave him a rare full smile and Harry smiled back.

It was several more minutes of travel before they made it into the dungeons and to the Slytherin common room. No one said a word as Draco led Harry into his dorm room. Draco plopped his bag down on the floor between his bed and the wall. He grabbed Harry’s bag and put it down in the same place.

“We will be safe. No one will come in here. No one will bother us. Severus places sound charms on the rooms when we hit third year. He tells us that he doesn’t want to hear us wank and neither do the others. Our bunkmates will just have to listen to us, make us put up a sound charm, or place one up themselves.”

“McGonagall doesn’t mention any of it at all. I am sure that the Gryffindor parents just tell their kids not to do it…especially sex. I…Severus gave me one but it was mainly, don’t get a girl pregnant and don’t get caught doing it in school.”

“Severus gave me one that was basically; don’t go farther than you are comfortable with.”

Harry laughed a little and felt the blush creep over his face. Stepping to the end of the bed Draco laid down on the bed, propping himself up on his elbows. Harry stayed standing but leaned against the wall that faced the end of the bed.

“What did you want to talk about?”

“This war is going to get worse, Harry. Already the word of our relationship has breached these walls. Mother sent me clippings of the stories being written about you and me and the influence I will have over you in the coming times. No one has outright said it because they are a little afraid of my mother but they hint at the fact that I am a Death Eater and have seduced you.”

“But the break from your father?”

“A giant ruse. A means to twist you into a relationship where I can control you and use you. That you will be used for sex and then served up on a silver platter to those who want to end you”

“So it all revolves around sex?”

Draco didn’t answer instead he just gave Harry that look that he had come to know well. Draco was calling him a prat without actually doing it. Harry just ignored him and decided to tell him of a plan he had.

“So with Fudge acting like the prat that he is, I’ve decided to find out some information from our friends abroad. I’m going to write letters to Fleur and Viktor and ask them how much their government actually sticks its hands in as far as the day-to-day running of the schools.”

“Sounds good. I have a few friends in some other places. I’ll write them as well.” Draco sat up on the bed and crooked a finger at Harry. Harry stepped closer to the bed but was just out of arm reach. He gave Draco a sly smile. “What are you doing over there?”

“Looking.”

“Come closer so you can touch.”

“Who says I want to?”

Draco smiled, slyly at Harry before he quickly stood up, moving quickly to shove Harry backwards so that he was against the wall again. He settled his hands to either side of Harry’s head and used his feet to trap Harry’s between him.

“Because we’ve not been able to do this, yet this year.” Draco leaned forward and captured Harry’s mouth with his own. Harry quickly opened his own lips and let Draco take control of the kiss. It was easy to do so. Draco was controlling when they kissed but he liked it. It was a time he could let go without consequences.

Harry used his free hands to grabbed Draco’s trousers and pull Draco against him. Draco huffed when he was pulled bodily against Harry but he didn’t break the kiss. Instead he deepened it by caressing Harry’s tongue with his own. Moving his hands from the wall to Harry’s mouth allowed Draco to control the kiss even more. Just as he framed Harry’s face, Harry’s hand untucked Draco’s shirt and pressed his own hands against the skin of Draco’s stomach.

Pulling back, Draco tried to look into Harry’s eyes, which slowly opened when the other teen didn’t feel Draco come back to him. What Draco saw in Harry’s eyes nearly stopped his heart. He had never seen that look of feeling safe in Harry’s eyes, even when he was with Severus.

“Harry?”

“Draco?”

“Boys?”

Draco jumped backwards from Harry and hit the bed falling into it. Harry hadn’t moved so much but had drawn his wand and it was pointed at Severus. Draco quickly stood back up, trying to tuck his shirt back into his pants and failing at it.

“Seems I arrived just in time. A first year told me that you both came up here. She would not leave until I came down. Next time you want some alone time, Harry use your cloak.”

“Yes, Father.” Harry wasn’t blushing at being caught. Draco wondered what kind of talk Severus had with the dark-haired boy but he would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during it.

“Or use the room I have set aside for you both in the dungeons. If I have to interrupt another make out session because of a first years prudish freak out, I think I will use spells or potions, on both of you.” Severus glared at them for a few seconds before he left the room.

“Yes, Sir!” Both boys answered as Severus left the room. They didn’t hear him chuckling.

Chapter Sixty Seven-Denied
Severus was walking the halls of Hogwarts late at night. Part of it was trying to find children that were out of bed and the other part keeping an eye on things. All of the professors were keeping an eye on the students. Especially those of his own students that were not taking well to the changes in the hierarchy of the houses. Severus knew that those students in Slytherin would gladly give over Harry or even Draco to the Dark Lord and not even bat an eye. They were the ones who gave the bad name to the rest of the Slytherins.

Never deluding himself, he knew that there were other children in the other houses that would do the same, out of either some crazy idea that doing so would save the world and the others because they were dark themselves. Those were the children that were more dangerous. Those children could be the downfall of the entire school. The ones who seemed to walk in light but lived in shadow. There was also no way of finding them. Their parents are hidden just as well.

Albus had refused him the right to look at the parents of students more. He wanted to find them before they found the weakness in Harry’s defenses. There were not many but there was a big one that the whole school knew. Harry would do anything for those he calls friends. Draco at this point was the biggest chink in Harry’s defenses. Draco was the person that Harry would walk into the Dark Lord’s lair to find and save.

As much as he tried, his son was entirely too Gryffindor for his own liking. He knew that risk though when he had asked Harry to make sure he was placed there. It had been easier than to protect him. Harry could do what he wanted without having to worry about his house mates. Now though, when Severus wasn’t sure who was safe to be around Harry, Slytherin would be the best bet. Granger and the Weasley’s protected him well but none of them had ever been able to stop Harry when he had an idea in his head.

Harry was entirely too much like his mother in that regard.

A noise in the hall he had just passed had Severus turning around and dousing his wand before entering the hall. He had performed a charm on his eyes that gave him perfect night vision but he still used his wand, not giving away his upper hand to all those he came across. He kept his wand in a relaxed but ready position and walked down the hall. He could see no one but someone had been there.

A paper rustling as he passed made Severus turn back to look at it. When he had been through this hall not ten minutes before it hadn’t been there. Placing a finger on the corner to stop it from moving, Severus started to read.

— By order of —

The High Inquisitor of Hogwarts

All Student Organizations, Societies, Teams, Groups, Study Groups, and Clubs are henceforth disbanded.

An Organization, Society, Team, Group, Study Groups, or Club is hereby defined as a regular meeting of three or more students.

Permission to re-form may be sought from the High Inquisitor (Professor Umbridge).

No Student Organization, Society, Team, Group, Study Groups, or Club may exist without the knowledge and approval of the High Inquisitor.

Any student found to have formed, or to belong to, an Organization, Society, Team, Group, Study Groups, or Club that has not been approved by the High Inquisitor will be expelled.

The above is in accordance with Educational Decree Number Twenty-four.

Signed:

Dolores Jane Umbridge

High Inquisitor

Severus felt ice flow through his veins. The Governors had lied to him. They had lied to Lucius. They had lied to Harry and Draco. The groups the Head Boy and Girl and the Prefects were using to make sure that the rest of the students knew the subject matter would be not allowed and he was sure that Dolores was not going to reinstate the study group.

Ripping the poster down, Severus started back to the more patrolled areas of the castle, placing his wand back in his robes. Minerva would be there. If Albus knew about this and hadn’t warned him or any of the professors, there would be a mutiny. If he was just as in the dark, he wouldn’t want to be Fudge when Albus got his hands on him.

Hearing the screaming before he got too close was never a good thing. Minerva’s voice carried in the castle but never this bad. She must be in a big tit and he was sure that he knew why. Following the voice, he found Albus and Minerva standing in the middle of the Great Hall with other professors scattered out around them. She was brandishing a piece of paper at his face while Albus looked shocked.

“What are you going to do about this, Albus?” Minerva demanded finally letting Albus take the paper and read it. Some of the professors had the same look that he was sure was on his own face, on theirs. While there were others who looked on with a fascination of not knowing what was going on. When Severus reached the group he handed his own copy off and watched as professors read it and passed it around while Albus took his time reading, thinking while he did so.

The rest of the professors were so focused on Albus and Minerva that they didn’t notice when someone else entered the room. Severus did and pulled his wand out. He didn’t know if it was Dolores or a student. If it was a student, they were in for a world of trouble with all the professors present. When he turned, he found Lucius and three other Governors standing there. Severus cleared his throat and the other professors looked at him and then at the new arrivals.

“What is the meaning of this?” Albus asked, brandishing the paper like a weapon.

“That is a testament to Fudge and Umbridge’s vanity and ego,” Lucius drawled, stepped forward and handing Albus another sheet of paper. “Please read it aloud.”

“‘By Decree of the Governors of Hogwarts. After careful consideration and talks with other schools worldwide, the Governors have found that political control of schools is not in the best interests of the children with which they are supposed to be preparing to live the world at large upon graduation from said school. Educational Decrees Twenty-Two and Twenty-Four have been redacted from the school’s bylaws. Their numbers will remain as a reminder to put the children above all. Educational Decree Number Twenty-Five will remove all Ministry control from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

“‘Educational Decree Number Twenty Six will go into full effect at the end of the current school year. All professors appointed by the Headmaster of the school will be subjected to an interview to keep their continued employment in the school. The interview will happen on month before new term start. Professors hired after that mark will be subjected to the interview as soon as possible following their hiring.'”

“The Governors have deemed the school a Ministry free zone,” one of the Governors said. He looked at Lucius, who nodded.

“I have one last message, Albus before we leave. We mainly came to let you know the truth of it all and to show you that we did not approve Fudge’s Educational Decree. He just thought that we were and Umbridge jumped the gun. Filch is taking all the signs he put up down. He is rather put out. I am sure that he ran to Umbridge, I would expect her at any moment. The last message is that you had best find a new history professor. Professor Binns will not be approved next year.”

“Thank you, Mr. Malfoy for bringing this. It is I am sure a boon to all of our professors. They will be rather overjoyed once the shock has worn off. You are welcome to stay the night, all of you are.”

“We have more duties to do this night. The Daily Prophet is at current running a story on the wrong Educational Decree. We need to make sure that they are briefed.”

“Does Fudge know of this?” Severus looked at Lucius’s face as he asked the question.

“The rest of the Governors are currently delivering the same missive to him. We thought it best that I was not there for that particular message. I would be best suited to deliver this one. Though I was told to leave before Umbridge arrived and I think that this is my time. I think I hear her now.” Lucius spun around and the other Governors followed him back out of the Great Hall.

“I would ask that the rest of you go off to bed. I will discuss things with my heads of House and we will have a meeting in the morning.”

Grumbling was heard but Severus knew that all of them would leave. As the last of the professors left the Great Hall, Severus saw Mrs. Norris slink through the door. That meant that Filch was not far behind and with him probably Umbridge. Severus caught Albus’s eye and used his head to motion at the door, giving him warning that they were soon to be not alone. Albus’s ushered the heads of house to come with him up to the daïs at the back of the room, where the professors ate their meals. Albus wanted them to be above her. Laughing internally, Severus watched her enter the room.

“Headmaster, why is Mr. Filch being made to take down the newest Educational Decree from where I had him place them?” Umbridge asked in a voice so dripping with sweetness that Severus almost gagged.

“Because the Governors did not approve that particular Educational Decree.”

“Why ever not? It’s for the best?”

“Most of the Governors have children or grandchildren here at the school. I am sure that they have heard about the study group that has been put in place and they wished to not disturb that.”

“My Educational Decree would not stop the studying of materials by students who actually need the study. It was meant for rogue elements who would have decided to take things into their own hand.”

“I have heard of no such ‘rogue element’ and this is my school, Dolores. I would do you well to remember that. I fear that you will not like Educational Decrees Twenty-Five and Twenty-Six. They rather limit the power that you seem to love. In fact, it demolished your place as High Inquisitor and adds that all professors must do an inspection once a year.”

“What does that have to do with me? Are you going to replace me as a professor at the school?”

“No, you will finish out the year but come next year I am sure that they will no rehire you.”

“You are letting the Governors tell you what to do inside your own school?”

“They could replace me if they wanted, Dolores. I find it refreshing that they are taking an interest in the school again. It makes for a nice check and balance.”

Umbridge glared at them for a few seconds before she left the room, Filch following her. Severus let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding.

“At least the Governors did something to remove the Ministry control that they put into place.” Minerva gave Albus a look that could have killed him, if looks could kill before she left the room. Poppy and Filius followed. Albus turned to Severus as soon as the others were clear from the room.

“What made the Governors step in as they did?”

“Umbridge was using a Blood Quill on the student’s. Minerva and I decided that it was best to take that directly to the Governors. You seemed to not have the power to stop anything that was happening in your own school. We took Potter and Malfoy to the Governors before healing them. To say the least they were all appalled.”

“You did not even try to bring this to me?” Albus asked a hurt look on his face.

Severus didn’t trust that look. The older man was more cunning than most would ever know.

“My God son and my son were tortured within these halls, Albus. By someone that by all rights they should have been able to trust. Harry’s trust in professors has been so damaged that he was surprised by what she did. My fifteen year old son was not surprised to be tortured at school. What does that tell you? I told him to keep his head down and not provoke her at all. Otherwise I am sure he would have refused to complete the detention.”

“That is why the Governors stepped in with their decree about Heads of Houses doing detention.”

“Maybe you should think about ways to stop others from stepping in and doing your job. I have rounds left to finish and then I am going to bed. Good night, Headmaster.” Severus started walking at a clipped pace, not wanting for Albus to call him back. Harry was safe from the professors, at least it seemed like he was. Now all he had to was protect him from himself and the students.

Chapter Sixty Eight-Practice for the Circle
Harry was just finishing a study session outside when he heard a screech. Everyone else who was outside turned to look as well. Hedwig was flying but very badly.

“Harry, I think she’s hurt!” Hermione yelled from where she was just joining them. Harry nodded and moved quickly to try and catch her. He was almost underneath where he thought she was going to land when she stopped in midair and floated down into his arms in a controlled manner. Harry looked and saw Draco standing behind Hermione with his wand out. He looked at Harry with a smirk on his face.

Before even thinking about it, Harry took off to the teacher’s lounge. Hermione and Draco were on his heels. He knocked on the door and when it opened burst into it. He looked around and found Severus there in a chair.

“Professor, do you know where Professor Grubbly-Plank is?”

“And why do you need her? What is that in your hands?” Severus stood and pulled Harry’s hands away from his chest. He gasped at the sight of the normal pristine white Hedwig covered in blood. He carefully took the bird from Harry and cradled her in a fold of his robe, protecting her. “I will take her to the Professor. Please meet me outside the Headmaster’s office in ten minutes. Go.”

Draco grabbed Harry’s arm and pulled him away, all the way out into the hallway. Severus followed them out but instead of going with them to the communal areas, he went to towards the main doors. Harry made to follow him but Draco pulled him along with him, back to where they had left the others.

When they arrived back at the others, Professor McGonagall was waiting on them.

“Mr. Potter, Mr. Malfoy, good. I was hoping you would come straight here. Professor Snape sent me a missive telling me of what happened to your owl. I am sure you are aware that the school is being watched carefully now. I am sorry to inform you that all forms of communication are being watched as they leave the school. The Headmaster will explain more when you both are inside of his office.” She stepped forward and handed him a letter. “Your bird was carrying this. It seems to be unopened but I felt that you should have it as soon as possible.”

“Thank you, Professor.”

McGonagall nodded before she walked away from the group. When they were sure that she was clear, Harry opened the letter and Hermione, Ron, and Draco huddled around to listen to him read it.

Dearest Harry,

I write to give you some advice and to let you know that all is well for us. Sirius hates being confined to the house but he understands that it is for the best. The Prime Minister of France is making sure that we have everything that we need or want. We hope that the issues with Fudge can be resolved quickly and cleaning so that we can come help you but as it stands we are afraid for your life if we leave France.

You are being watched carefully, Harry. Nothing that you do is not noted and sent back to Fudge and the others. You can be assured that if Fudge knows it then He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named knows it as well. Those who serve him will gladly tell him all that they know about you.

News of yours and Draco’s relationship has reached even as far as here. I saw a tabloid with a picture of the two of you at school. I could tell by the photo that it was from last year during the Tournament. Be careful of those around you and the photos they may snap. Some tabloids would pay well for a well-timed photo of the two of you in a compromising position.

I will not tell you not to pursue this relationship because I am sure that others have told you all the reservations that they have. I hope you find happiness with him. I am writing this letter because I could not trust Sirius to do the same and be as tactful. The only thing that I will say is to be wary of the company of his fellow Slytherins. While many might seem to be willing to accept you and him…there are those who are doing so just to get closer to you both.

With Love,

Remus

Harry read the letter again this time silently. He was sure that at least Hermione was doing the same. There was not much in the way of hidden words in the letter but he knew that the less the letter said the better. The ruse about them not knowing about Draco and himself was a good way of purporting that they are not in England at the moment and that Draco was not living with both of them.

“At least they are doing well,” Hermione said as she relaxed into a sitting position beside Harry. Ron sat down on the other side of her while Draco sat beside Harry.

To Harry it had been so easy to drop into thinking of the trio as a quartet now. Draco fit well with them. When they talked about classes and studying, Ron felt left out but he was getting better at doing his homework and it was coming easier to him. Hermione felt left out when Quidditch was brought up. Draco had even offered to help Ron train some nights if Harry couldn’t. Ron had a bad habit of if he missed on quaffle; he missed many more after that. Harry and Hermione felt a little left out when the other two of them talked about certain Wizarding things. Things from their childhood that had predated Severus taking him in.

Seeing movement out of the corner of his eye, Harry looked up and saw that Umbridge was watching them from an alcove on the other side of the small courtyard. Harry locked eyes with her until she finally stormed off. He made a mental note to tell the others that she was following at least one of them. He wasn’t so egotistical to think that it was him. Draco had his hand in pissing her off as well.

The Governors made sure that she had no bite anymore but she still had her bark. She could make up things to put them into detention, even if she was no longer able to enforce her own she still sent a great many kids to the Heads for detention. He would make sure though that he kept an eye out for her.

xXxXxXx

It was a study hall night for all four of them they were just finishing up and had another hour before curfew. Hermione had been reserved all night. Harry could tell by the lines on her face that she was thinking about something and that might not be a good thing for them all.

“Can we meet somewhere private?” Hermione asked, just before everyone was set to go their own ways.

“I think I know a place. Give me a few minute head start and then have Harry bring you to the Slytherin dorms. I can guarantee the privacy there.”

Hermione looked at Harry, who just nodded.

“Sounds good. See you in a few.” Hermione shouldered her backpack and then turned to Harry and Ron. “I have something to discuss that I don’t want certain teachers to overhear. Umbridge because she might not agree and it will make our lives a living hell. McGonagall because she wouldn’t understand.”

“What about Professor Snape?” Harry asked. He wanted to know if it was all right to talk about it with him.

“He I think would understand preparing yourself of any eventuality. It’s a very Slytherin trait.”

“That means I might not like this then, doesn’t it?” Ron asked as he led the group out of the Great Hall. When they passed the doors, Harry took the lead. Not because the others didn’t know where the entrance was but because Draco had made the mention of having Harry lead them. It kept up pretenses.

When the trio turned the corner and Harry gained sight of the entrance he was surprised to see both Pansy and Blaise waiting.

“Draco’s inside. He was wondering if this was a meeting for all of us or just you four?” Pansy asked when the trio stepped into talking range. Harry looked at Hermione who just smiled. She waved for them enter before the trio. Blaise smiled and when he entered he turned back to offer his hand to Hermione to help her inside. Ron flushed at the sight but didn’t say anything. Harry looked up when he started to enter to that Blaise was also offering for him as well. Harry smacked his hand away but laughed all the same when he saw the amusement in Blaise’s eyes.

“You’re a prat Blaise.” Harry passed him quickly, knowing that the two Slytherins would protect his friends. Draco was waiting outside his room.

“I found it funny,” Draco said as Harry got closer to him.

Harry blushed and he knew it. Draco leaned forward and kissed him squarely on the lips. Startled, Harry almost separated from him but he stopped himself. It was allowed. At least here it was. No Slytherin would ever say anything about Draco where Severus could hear. They were smart enough about that.

When the door was shut and the room warded against anyone trying to listen in, every sat down. Draco and Harry sat on Draco’s bed. Ron sat down at the foot of that bed while the other three moved to Blaise’s bed. Blaise gave Ron a look that spoke that he was brave.

“What?”

“I wouldn’t sit there. I don’t know if the elves have cleaned the sheets recently.”

“Blaise!” Harry yelled as he threw a pillow at the boy. Blaise just smirked and kept the pillow.

“I want to have a training session with just a small group of people.”

“Why?” Harry and Ron both asked Hermione at the same time.

“There are spells that we will need to learn that we can’t learn around the others or risk getting caught trying to learn. A small group. Very small.”

“You are worried about Umbridge aren’t you?” Pansy asked as she relaxed back on the bed. Hermione just shrugged.

“What were you thinking exactly?” Draco asked.

“I want us to learn defenses to spells that Death Eaters would cast on us. I want to learn how to fight for real. Where I don’t know what spell is coming at me.”

“I am sure that Draco knows of a load of spells like that. He could even teach us to cast them.” Ron shifted so that he was facing the entire group from his spot on the bed.

“Many of the spells that I know are not for polite duels. In fact many could get you thrown in Azkaban.”

“And so won’t the Death Eaters,” Pansy said. She looked at Draco who just shrugged. “There are many dark spells that we are taught as children as ways to protect ourselves in the event of someone trying to take us. Us being girls that is. I can do them wandlessly. It’s a very old family tradition. Draco was taught many of them as well. The Malfoy’s have always been a hair bred line.”

“What kind of spells?” Hermione asked as she pulled a piece of parchment from her bag and a quill.

“Impotence, severe pain of the groin. Mother delighted in teaching me one that would cut off a man’s dick. It’s better than a severing charm because that is all it does. You don’t need to point just cast. I’ve tried it on one man. He tried to kidnap me for ransom when I was five. It was chalked up to a case of accidental magic. Nothing ever came of it.”

“Sounds gruesome.” Harry looked at Hermione. “Who do you want to be there besides all of us?”

“I was thinking the twins and Luna and Neville. I had been thinking of Ginny but she’s turned a little funny since you and Draco came out fully. I don’t know if she is acting or she really hates that you and he are public.”

“What do you guys think?” Harry asked the rest of the small group. All nodded. Harry smiled. “Good. I am sure that Room of Requirement will work. I know that we can all get there. Hermione, I am sure you will take care of times. I think that once a week is a good ratio. If you can’t make it that’s fine. I know that we all have a lot of things and if we all were off on the same night for the study hall, all the time, people would talk.”

“You are taking this well,” Ron said.

“I’ve been thinking of something like it for a few days. The study halls are nice and I know that we are helping the whole of the school but I feel like something is coming. It’s been too quiet on the Voldemort front. I know that the Order is looking for him and trying to uncover what he is doing but from what Severus has told me. They have nothing other than the room in the Ministry that they think he will try and take something from. A weapon of some sorts.”

“Still Harry, you are usually harder to convince of things like this.”

“Severus once told me something. It stuck with me through my whole life. ‘Those without swords can still die upon them.’ I feel like we are the ones without swords and the rest of the world has them. Draco and I do well at practicing so we will be using each other for the showing. I figure you guys will pair off as you always have. Neville and Luna will work well together and the twins are a no brainer.”

“Sounds like we have a plan for this all. I think we should all head to bed. Don’t want to arouse suspicion in the rest of the house nor in the professors.” Draco stood and practically shoved them out of his room, saving Harry for last, giving him a quick kiss on the mouth. “Shove off.”

Chapter Sixty Nine-Dreams
Waking up and knowing that he had day off was a great feeling. It was a Sunday and he had no Quidditch, no study hall, no secret training and he had rushed to finish all of his homework the day before. The only downside was that when Harry had talked to Draco the day before, the Slytherin had said that he already had plans and could only see Harry late in the day. It was disappointing but Harry was not going to let it ruin his day at all.

Knowing what some of the Slytherins were saying about the couple was at the back of his mind. He had overheard it one day while coming from a Potions class. He had stayed behind to help Neville clean up his cauldron. It was a group of Slytherins that Harry knew by sight and had never met. They were the ones that Severus was actually scared would go over to Voldemort. They were the ones that Harry was told to never be alone with. The ones that would kill him if they ever got the chance. Just stupid enough to think that doing that would make Voldemort happy.

Hearing them talk about himself like they did had been a surprise. Harry had almost stopped walking and even now days later, Neville couldn’t look him in the eye.

“There is no way that Malfoy has him under the Imperius. Even Malfoy isn’t that stupid. Dumbledore keeps a close eye on Potter.”

“Then why does Potter stay with him?” A younger boy had asked. The entire group wasn’t paying attention and hadn’t noticed that anyone was following them much less two Gryffindors and one of them being Harry himself. Harry and Neville stayed silent, not wanting to let them know that they were there. Harry had wanted to hear it all and he was sure that Neville had just wanted to escape. “I mean Potter has shown that he fits all that is dark and there doesn’t come a person darker than the Malfoy’s.”

“I assume and my father thinks the same…sex. You’ve seen Potter. He stays so far away from the others. That Weasley was nearly throwing herself at him and he never noticed. Potter’s ‘father’ must have kept him so locked up growing up that he is taking any sort of affection for love. One of these days, Potter’s going to go to bed with Malfoy and wake up with the Dark Lord in bed with him.”

“Are you sure? Malfoy looks at him the same.”

“Malfoy’s can’t love. My father said so,” the first boy said. The surety in his voice surprised Harry. He was way too sure of himself but that’s what boys like him were like. They believed every single thing that their father said and never ever had a single thought for himself. Hearing enough of the Slytherins, Harry started to move forward at a quicker pace than them. Neville sped up to match and in under a minute, they were both blasting past them.

Harry heard them stop talking and walking at the same time. Fighting the urge to look back at them, Harry had just kept on going. He knew what most the school thought about them. He didn’t care. Those who were important knew the truth of it all and they were the only ones that mattered.

Listening to room around him, Harry noticed there was no other noise, which was odd considering how many boys lived in it. Harry sat up and saw that he was alone in the room. He knew that he had slept in but sleeping this late? He knew why. His dreams were getting worse. Every step he took in the dreams the dread got worse and worse. On the other side of that door was something horrible.

The sounds it the room changed and Harry looked around the room as he pulled his wand from under his pillow. He could see nothing but when it came to magic and the twins, which meant nothing. Harry quieted his own breathing for a few seconds to see if he could hear anyone else’s breathing. If there was someone in the room, they were being very quiet. Harry couldn’t hear their breathing.

The foot of his bed drew his eye. The lid of his trunk was open. It had been closed when he had gone to bed the night before. Someone had got past his wards. Harry quickly scrambled off the bed, making sure to keep his face looking out into the room. It was a sure bet that whoever was in the room was using his own cloak to hide.

Harry was sure that he could find the person in the room but he wasn’t sure what damage would be done to himself or the room. Dressed in only a pair of boxers, Harry moved from behind the bed to start to move into the rest of the room. He had only taken a few steps when he felt a hand on his bum.

Moving quickly, Harry grabbed the hand and threw whoever had grabbed his ass on the bed. The cloak flew open Draco was looking up at Harry with wide, scared eyes. Harry quickly let him go but didn’t move away from him.

“Sorry,” Harry muttered as he watched Draco relax.

“No, Don’t. I was just trying to surprise you. You looked so at peace. I didn’t want to wake you. I had been playing with the cloak while waiting for you to wake.”

“What time is it?” Harry asked looking out his window in the bright light of the day.

“Nearly twelve. Ron told me that you weren’t sleeping well when I came in here a few hours ago.”

“Hours?” Harry looked at Draco in shock. Draco had been watching him for that long?

“Yea. I didn’t mind I was working on homework.”

“I thought that you said you had plans?” Harry asked. He moved to get dressed, noticing that he was still just in his boxers. He was sure that Draco didn’t mind but he was still reticent about things.

“Yes, I said that I had plans, not that I didn’t want to not spend time with you. I told you I would be busy until the evening. I talked with the House Elves in the kitchen and we have lunch waiting for us in a secluded area of the grounds. Dobby is setting it up as we speak.”

Harry felt himself blush but he just nodded at Draco. Draco sat up on the bed, moving with a grace that even Harry didn’t have. Severus had said the Malfoy grace came from a long line of dangerous men who seduced those around them. Harry hadn’t believed him when he was younger but being around Draco and watching him when he thought no one else was had opened his eyes.

“Why aren’t you sleeping well? Ron didn’t know.”

“It’s some dreams I’ve been having since summer. I thought they were going away but I think I just wanted remembering them. Now they are back with a vengeance.” Harry rubbed at the scar on his head. It had started to hurt in the last week, ever since nights had started to get cooler and cooler. “Sometimes I feel flashes of anger and I don’t know where it comes from. It’s getting worse. I’ve been thinking about going to Severus for a sleeping draught.”

“It won’t help.” Draco’s face was stone but Harry could see fear in his eyes. Harry’s heart lifted a little. Draco knew what was wrong with him. Draco could help him. “I know that your Occlumency is high but somehow Voldemort is slipping through. You are seeing what he is seeing and wanting and feeling his anger. I heard Severus and my father talking about the link between the scar and why Severus wanted you trained in Occlumency. My father at first years ago, I remember was ranting about why a man would want to train a nine-year old in Occlumency in the first place. I never guessed it was you until a very long time later.”

“There is no way, Draco.” Harry shook his head at his boyfriend. There was no way that Voldemort was getting into his head. He was trained enough to stop that. The slips were only happening when he was sleeping or was really tired. Severus had told him that those times were when Harry was at the most danger.

“Harry, you have to tell him. He may be able to help.”

“I’ll tell him, Draco. Can we just please have some fun today?” Harry asked as he smiled. He was going to have a good day with little worries if it killed him. He watched Draco watch him for a few seconds before Draco nodded and smiled back at him.

xXxXxXx

Draco wasn’t sure if what he was going was the right thing to do but he had to do it. Harry was scaring him. Ron was giving him updates on Harry’s sleeping patterns and every night it got worse. Harry was now sporting bags under his eyes and he was jumpy.

Severus was sitting at his desk looking at papers. Classes were over for the day but Draco knew that Severus stayed in his classroom until dinner to give students the chance to talk to him about class. Not many ever took him up on it.

“Mr. Malfoy?” Severus asked as he waved his hand and the door behind Draco slammed shut. Draco knew that Severus was good at wordless and wandless magic but it was rare for him to use it in the school.

“I’m worried about Harry. I am…”

“He’s not been sleeping well.”

“He’s been dreaming about a door in a corridor and behind that door is something awful. He dreads opening the door but his dreams pushes him to do so. He never opens it though. When he attempts to he wakes. His scar is also hurting and he had been having bouts of anger. I know that you told me what to look for and I think that Voldemort is accessing his mind and doesn’t know it.”

Severus sat up in the chair and stood. He moved around the desk. Draco looked down at his feet. Now that the words were out of his mouth, Draco felt horrible for what he was doing.

“Why didn’t he tell me?”

“I don’t know. This was weeks ago that we talked about it. He was supposed to tell you. He said that he would.”

“And you feel horrible about it don’t you?” Severus asked.

Draco shook his head. He was never going to feel horrible about anything that he did to help Harry, whether Harry wanted it or not. Draco looked Severus in the eye and dared him to say another word about it.

“I’ve feared this for a while now. The Dark Lord is out and trying to take us down. He’s trying to find out who has been raising Harry as well as finding out how Harry survived the fire. The Death Eater in question that did it saw no one enter and no one exit the house until it was burnt to the ground. That Death Eater gave his life to the Dark Lord to give the entire memory to him and for the Dark Lord to make sure that it wasn’t modified.”

Draco swallowed a lump that formed in his mouth. He knew that he never wanted to be face to face with that monster alone. He never wanted to fight him alone. He wanted to have all his old and new friends at his back and he would do what he must to make sure that they all survived. Survival was a trait that Malfoys and Slytherins excelled in.

“I’ll talk to him. He won’t be happy. He’s rather stubborn.” Severus patted Draco’s shoulder and smiled at him. Severus was the closest to his father he could get at the moment.

“All Gryffindors are.”

xXxXxXx

Harry was fuming when he left the study hall that night. It had been Severus’s turn to watch the group of students and when Harry had got ready to leave he had handed him a dreamless sleep draught, enough for a week.

Severus had leaned over and only said a few words to him as he passed. “Don’t be too mad at him. He cares about you and that is a good thing.”

Too stunned to say anything, Severus was out of the room before Harry even thought to question him.

Draco had went behind his back and told Severus about what they had talked about a few weeks before. Draco had not given him the chance. Harry had almost worked up the courage to admit to Severus that he wasn’t able to control it.

This would be good for one thing. The Quidditch match in a few days would be an interesting one.

Chapter Seventy-A Friend Comes Home
Draco dodged another Bludger as he tried to look for the Snitch. He knew that the twins knew that he and Harry were in a snit, so they were showing their support for Harry by making Draco’s part of the game a living hell. The Bludger weren’t meant to hurt, just distract. They were doing a good job at doing it but Draco was able to keep one on Harry and one eye on at least one of the twins. It made playing the game hard but it was what he had to work with.

A gasp in the crowd had Draco spinning to look. Ron had fallen from the goal post; a Bludger had hit him in the back of the head. Harry had already dived to catch his friend. Draco on the other hand watched the Bludger which was now on its way towards Harry. Draco pulled his wand from his robes and aimed it at the Bludger. When the Bludger made a pass at Harry, whom the other teen dodged, and then started back towards him again, Draco cast the Reductor Curse at the Bludger. The Bludger blew up just feet from Harry’s head.

Harry whipped his head around to look at Draco and smiled at him. A whistle being blown had Draco turned away from Harry and looking down at Madame Hooch. She was waving her arms and motioning for all the players to go down.

By the time that Draco, Harry, and Ron made it to where the other players were, Hooch, Umbridge, and Dumbledore were standing there.

“He should be given detention for destroying school property,” Umbridge was saying.

Draco knew that she was walking about him.

“Now, now Professor, Mr. Malfoy saw the Bludger as a threat and Professor Snape agreed that it had been magicked. Mr. Malfoy was the closest and had the best line of sight, given the angle that the Bludger was heading, it could have done serious damage to Mr. Potter. I will not punish him for taking the life of another student over the cost of a new Bludger. In fact I believe that a hundred house points are in order for Mr. Malfoy.”

Draco eyes Dumbledore for the tone of voice he was using, was the old man trying to get on his good side? There was only one reason that Dumbledore would have to try and made nice with Draco was to get to Harry. Harry had discussed the possibility with him about that but Draco had never believed that it would happen. Yet, here it was happening.

“Mr. Potter, Mr. Malfoy, why don’t you escort Mr. Weasley to the infirmary, that was quite a hit to the head I believe that Madame Pomfrey will want to see him. Go along.”

Draco ambled up to the side of Ron that Harry was not on and helped keep Ron steady as they walked. He wanted to stay and hear what the adults were going to talk about. Still, Ron was not looking too well in the face. The way that he stumbled, there was no way that Harry would have been able to help him up the stairs to the infirmary.

xXxXxXx

Harry was surprised when Draco’s eye kept wandering down to the edge of the forest while they were studying one afternoon. Harry had forgiven the other boy within hours of the disastrous Quidditch match that had been rescheduled for the following day. Gryffindor had won even with Ron as keeper. Draco hadn’t even got the chance to spot the Snitch before Harry was grabbing it from the air and giving them the lead by two hundred points.

“Draco?”

“I think that Hagrid is back but I am unsure,” Draco said not turning his face from the window.

Harry quickly jumped up and ran to the window to look out. Sure enough within seconds of Harry going to the window, the door to the cottage opened and Fang ran out with Hagrid on his heels.

“I need to go see him. Do you mind, Draco?” Harry asked as he started to pack up his things.

“No, that’s why I didn’t want to mention it unless he was there. I know that you miss him and want to see him. Go along, I’ll wait for you in the Great Hall to eat dinner.”

Harry smiled at Draco and quickly left the room. He had been tempted to run and find Ron and Hermione but he didn’t want to run the chance of Hagrid going into the Forbidden Forest before he could get there.

Getting to the side of the castle that Hagrid’s hut was on was easy; Harry even did it without running into anyone. When he cleared the castle proper he found that Hagrid was indeed heading into the forest.

“Hagrid!” Harry yelled at the top of his lungs. Fang was the only one to hear and he turned and started for Harry, tongue hanging out. When Hagrid heard Fang barking from behind him, he turned, a smile gracing his face when he saw Harry.

“‘Arry! I’m glad yer came to see me!” Hagrid threw his arms open and Harry gave the man a hug. “Yer caught me heading into the Forest.”

Harry looked at the giant of a man with a closer eye and saw the bruises on his face; some were fresh and others older. “Hagrid, what happened to you?”

“I fell.”

The look on Hagrid’s face and the way that he spoke and carried himself told Harry that it wasn’t the truth but also that Hagrid didn’t want to talk about it. Harry decided that in time Hagrid would tell him and he would wait for that, so he decided to switch topics. “Where have you been? You’ve missed a lot of what happened at the school.”

“Really?” Hagrid sat down on the steps to his cottage and Harry pulled a chair from the side to sit on himself. Harry launched into the stories of things that had happened here at the school and of Hedwig being attacked. Hagrid had hated that but was intrigued by this Umbridge. Harry knew that she would try to throw her weight around with Hagrid but Harry wanted to make sure that his friend knew that she had no power here at the school anymore.

“And what about you?” Hagrid asked when Harry finished talking.

“What about me?”

“I want to know how you ar’ doin'”

Harry paused and took a few minutes to decide how to tell Hagrid about him and Draco.

“Did you know that over the summer Draco Malfoy and his mother left the Malfoy residence and renounces Mr. Malfoy?”

“No!” Hagrid said in a tone that was tinged with disbelief.

“And they moved into the old Black residence at Grimmauld Place.” Harry knew that Hagrid had to know about the residence and that he would hopefully not mention anything about whom else might be there at that time. Harry had told him about the letters he received from Sirius and Remus and hoped that Hagrid took that to mean not to talk about it in the open like they were. “Mr. Malfoy has done nothing that I know of as far as trying to get them back. I think that he is too afraid to draw attention to himself now that Voldemort is back.”

Hagrid winced at the name but Harry really didn’t care. Voldemort was lucky that Harry wasn’t calling him Riddle. Harry was surprised that Hagrid wasn’t calling him out for saying the name.

“And ‘ow do you kno’ so much about Malfoy’s comings and goings?” Hagrid asked.

Knowing that what he was about to tell Hagrid would shock him, Harry paused to think of the best way to put it forth. The last that Hagrid knew Harry and Draco were barely tolerating being around each other and not hexing each other.

“Can we go inside?” Harry asked. He didn’t want to talk about this out in the open. Once he was inside Hagrid’s cottage, he could put up wards that would let him know if others were listening. Hagrid stood up and opened the door, entering and holding the door open for Harry. Hagrid settled at his normal table spot while Harry stayed standing. Harry set about warding the place. He knew that Hagrid wouldn’t stop him. Hagrid wanted him to feel safe.

“Ready when yer ar’”

“I guess you haven’t seen a paper about that either?” Harry asked. Hagrid shook his head ‘no.’ “Draco and I started dating this past summer. We’ve been friends for several years but it was best to hide that. For Draco’s safety. Mr. Malfoy wanted his wife and son safe and sending them away was the best for them. Then the darkness and evil wouldn’t have to touch them again.”

“I’ve heard somemat about Death Eaters not likin’ Malfoy right now. Never thought it would be over that. So Malfoy is going good?”

“Mr. Malfoy lost his interest in the fight years ago. He saw his side for what it was. Draco has always wanted another way to live. He saw no way to save himself. When things started changing because of my father, Draco and his father saw the way out of their lives. Mr. Malfoy stays as a help in the fight against Voldemort. He spies for me in Voldemort’s group.”

“Ye change everyone you touch, ‘Arry.”

Harry smiled at Hagrid and Hagrid smiled back. His face was a happy face; even Harry could tell that around the bruising.

“I knew there was something happier about yer. I just never though’. Does he make you happy?” Hagrid’s voice turned serious and Harry knew that Hagrid would not take kindly to Draco breaking Harry’s heart, if he ever did one day.

“Yes.” Harry said with a giant smile on his face.

“Then ye’ll have to bring him around.”
“I will, I promise.” Harry stopped and looked around, someone was approaching the cottage and it wasn’t someone his wards would allow in. Harry dropped the wards quickly and kept his wand out as a knock came at the door. Hagrid stood to answer it.

“And who are you?” Hagrid asked his voice sharp.

“Delores Jane Umbridge. I work for the Minister of Magic and I teach Defense Against the Dark Arts here at Hogwarts. I was just coming by to welcome you back, Mr. Hagrid.”

Harry was happy that since Draco had used the cloak to his in his room, which he had started to carry it on himself. It was hidden in a pocket in his bag. It was another pocket that had been added to his bag for him to hide things in. He quickly grabbed the cloak and threw it around himself, going to a corner to hide. Hagrid stepped back and let Umbridge into his cottage.

Eyes wandering around the room, Hagrid didn’t let it on that he was looking for Harry. Umbridge stood just a few feet inside from the door. She glanced around the room and Harry could tell that she was disgusted.

“You have a very lovely…house, Mr. Hagrid.”

Hagrid said nothing, just looked at Umbridge as she looked around the cottage with a closer eye. Harry wanted to jump out there and throw her out. Harry knew that Hagrid loved his cottage.

“Well, I just came to see you but you are looking a little worse for the wear. Why are you injured?”

“I was on a trip in the mountains. I fell. I was away for my health.”

“Yes, that was the same reasons that Headmaster Dumbledore gave for you not being here at the start of the term.”

“Do ye think that Dumbledore lied to you?” Hagrid’s voice turned icy in a way that Harry had rarely ever heard. Harry knew that Hagrid wouldn’t take Umbridge talking bad about Dumbledore for long.

Umbridge hummed and moved towards the door.

“We will talk later.” Umbridge opened the door and left, not even shutting the door behind her. Hagrid watched her outside the window.

“She’s gone.” Hagrid turned from the window and looked around the room waiting for Harry to take the cloak off. When Harry did, Hagrid zeroed in on Harry and waited.

“She will keep digging. She wants to know why you went away. You can’t let her know that you were sent by Dumbledore to treat with the Giants.”

“Wha’?” Hagrid looked at Harry in shock.

“I figured it out not long after I got word from Fleur that you and Madame Maxine were gone for the summer. You took longer to come back so I figure that something happened. I’ll be here when you are ready to tell me, I’ll be here. I’ve got to go now and meet Draco for dinner.”

“Okay,” Hagrid opened the door to let Harry out. Harry made his way quickly across the grounds. The other students that were outside were making their way in for dinner as well. Harry slipped into the crowd and let them take him to the Great Hall. Draco was waiting for him with Hermione and Ron at the Ravenclaw table. Luna was just sitting down. Harry waved when Luna waved at him.

Chapter Seventy One-Cold Winter Winds
Harry, Draco, Ron, Hermione, the twins, and Ginny were waiting in Hogsmeade for the Mr. and Mrs. Weasley to come and get them. It was winter break and Harry was happy to be going to Grimmauld Place, where he could relax. Draco was shifting slowly side to side beside him. Most would see it as boredom but Harry knew that he was nervous. Harry knew why too. The dreams were getting worse and the night before the door had opened in his dream and Harry had taken a step inside the room before a scream from the dream woke him up.
Draco was worried about what it meant. Harry hadn’t had a dream in over two weeks. He had been sleeping the entire night through without the Dreamless Sleep Potion. Harry hadn’t been able to talk to Severus that morning and would have to wait until Severus came to stay at Grimmauld Place.

“Where are Blaise and Pansy going for the holiday?” Hermione asked.

Draco jumped at her voice which caused Harry to snort at the look on his face.

“Home. Blaise can never get out of it. His half siblings are a rather rowdy bunch and they don’t like each other much but his step mother insists that he comes home every year. Pansy goes home and then to France or Spain. Wherever she wants to go.”

“Sounds wonderful,” Harry said as he saw Narcissa, Arthur, and Molly appear at the edge of the city. Harry waved, letting the others know that the parents were here for them.

The twins went to Arthur while Ginny, Ron, and Hermione walked over to Molly. Harry and Draco pushed in beside Narcissa, each grabbing one of her arms.

“We will be along later, Molly. We have a few things to do,” Narcissa said.

Harry turned to look at Narcissa at the same time that he dropped her arm. Draco also dropped her arm. Narcissa looked down at them with a smile on her face. Harry fought back the small amount of fear that start to creep up his throat. There was no way that Molly and Arthur had been taken in by anyone.

“What is going on, Mother?” Draco asked as he eyed his mother.

Narcissa gave them another smile and Harry felt a hand on his back. He almost spun around but the scents of Severus hit him, the potion ingredients were hard to miss. Obviously Severus was hiding under the cloak.

“We have some things to do in Diagon Alley today.” Narcissa held her arm out to Draco who took it quickly. Harry reached out to take her other one but Severus’s hand on him stopped him.

“They are going one place and we are going another,” Severus whispered. Severus grabbed Harry’s upper arm and then he felt himself being pulled along in slide along Apparition. The last thing that he saw was Draco being pulled along as well.

Harry appeared on the steps of a grand looking house. He took a few seconds to look at it before he looked around for Severus. Severus appeared as he took off his disillusionment. He was dressed in Muggle clothes, which was very odd for Harry to see him in.

“Where are we?”

“A very remote area in the Devon countryside. We are actually not far from where the Weasley’s live.”

“What is this place?”

“This is the newest of the Potter residences. It was bought and put into your mother’s name not long after your parents married. It was where they were going to come after the war was over. Neither of your parents ever lived here. The Goblins were going over your accounts in preparation of you taking over as Lord Potter this coming summer. It seems that this property was put under a Fidelus charm much like other except that this one was times. It showed up as a listing just three days ago.”

Severus placed his hand on the door and Harry saw a red shield appear under his hand. It was some kind of ward. Severus pulled back and motioned for Harry to step up.

“No one has set foot inside here since your father warded it. I don’t know what state the place is in but I thought that you might like to see it. From the records, many of their things were taken here when they went into hiding.”

Harry stepped up and placed his hand where Severus had. The red appeared for a few seconds and then disappeared.

“Your mother thought of many things. It was warded to only allow Potter’s by blood inside of the place. If you had died before now, it would have never opened again.”

“Is it safe for you to go in?”

“As long as you enter before me, yes.” Severus motioned at the door.

Harry placed his hand on the knob and twisted. He was expecting something, anything as he pushed the door open. A rush of stale air or even a face full of dusty air. The air though was cool and clean smelling. Lights flared to life someone in the main room and Harry looked to see that it was electricity or something very much like it. He took a few hesitant steps inside and waited for Severus before going farther.

“Hello, Harry,” a male voice said from inside the main room. Harry stopped and pulled his wand out, hearing Severus do the same. The lights were getting brighter in the main room but Harry could not hear who was speaking. “There is no need to afraid, son.”

Harry nearly fainted. Severus called him son occasionally but only in rare times when Harry needed calmed down. There was only one other man who would even attempt to call him that. Harry stepped farther into the room and there hanging on the wall between two staircases was a painting of James Potter.

“Dad?” Harry asked.

The man in the painting smiled at Harry. “It is I, son. I am happy that you have finally come to see me. I…”

“Harry?” Another voice called from farther in the house.

“That’s your mother.”

“Lily?” Severus called from behind him.

Harry watched as his father’s eyes tried to focus as see the man behind him.

“Who came in with you, son?”

“It’s the man who has raised me since the Dursley’s were killed.”

“You were given to them?” James asked his voice full of shock.

“I want to know why my son was given to them!” Lily called from where she was at the other part of the house.

“In the library there is a painting of both of us. Why don’t we all go there and talk like civilized people. You both can sit and not have to crane your neck to see. The library is on the third floor last door on the left hall.”

It took Harry no time to race through the halls to find the room, Severus was much slower but Harry expected that. When Severus entered the room and James got a good look at him, Harry was sure that if looks could kill Severus would be dead.

“I don’t want to hear it!” Harry started before his parents could. “He saved me from a fire and has protected me since that day. He has stood by and protected me from Dumbledore and Voldemort alike. He trained me to be able to save myself and because of him when Voldemort was resurrected at the end of my last school year, I was able to save the lives of three other students and make it back alive from his horde of Death Eaters. You will respect him or I will leave.”

“You are very much your mother’s son. Thank you, Snape for protecting my son when I could not.” James gave Severus a small bow.

“Thank you, Severus. Now I want to hear all about your life.” Lily gave Severus a smile and then looked at Harry.

xXxXxXx

Harry settled down in his bed in Grimmauld Place well after midnight, Draco was asleep in the other bed. He wanted to wake the other boy but he was afraid that if he did, he would never get to sleep and he was tired. Bone dead tired. He wanted to lie down and sleep. He would tell Draco of the trip in the morning.

As his eyes closed, Harry sent up a silent prayer to his parents that he didn’t have any dreams.

xXxXxXx

The sound of crying pulled Draco of out of a deep sleep. It wasn’t a sound that he heard often. Sitting up he grabbed his wand and quickly lit a spell to light up the room only slightly. He looked around the room and that’s when he noticed that Harry was asleep in his bed. Dobby and Zook were both at his side trying to calm him down.

“Shush,” both House Elves were speaking softly.

Draco threw the covers off and stood up, catching the eye of Zook who turned to look at him.

“He won’t stop and he won’t wake up,” Zook pleaded as he turned back to Harry.

“I’ll take care of him, you two go get Severus.”

The two House Elves quickly left the room and Draco sat down on the edge of Harry’s bed. He placed his hand on Harry’s shoulder. Harry was facing the wall, curled into a ball. Harry had never told him about dreams like this, neither had Ron. It had to be related to what happened to him when he and Severus left earlier that day to go on their own.

The sound of a robe was the only indication that Severus had entered the room.

“What’s wrong?” Severus asked as he moved to the bed.

“I don’t know. I was waked by his crying. Zook and Dobby were both in here trying to calm him down or wake him up.”

“He’s had a trying day.”

“What did you do to him?” Draco demanded in a whisper. Severus looked at him in shock but Draco ignored him, instead looking at Harry.

“I did nothing. Does everyone know about the dead Order member that was found in the Department of Mysteries?” Severus spoke softly and moved around the room to sit at a chair at the foot of Harry’s bed.

“Yes, Arthur told us at dinner. If it hadn’t been for Harry that could have been him. Arthur was white as a sheet when he told us about it. I think that it cemented in Molly’s head that they chose the right path. What is in that place that Voldemort wants so bad?”

Draco looked at Severus but let the change of subject slide for then. “He’s not told either Lucius or I. Only those that are placed in the Ministry knows. It’s not even known where he wants to get his weapon from.”

“It’s a weapon then?”

“The Dark Lord calls it so.” Severus sighed as he finished speaking. “A Potter property was recently discovered. I knew that only Harry could access it. I figured it would make a nice place to hide if it came to that. It’s a rather large Manor at the edge of Devon. The wards on the manor are very nice and have held up well. With the help of Charlie I will be able to shore them up nicely for it to be a proper spot if this place ever comes to the light of the press.”

“And?” Draco asked sharply. Harry jerked in his sleep and Draco started to rub his back. Harry had stopped crying.

“I was told by the Goblins that no one had set foot in it since just before the Potters went into hiding. The contents of the house were never listed. If so I would have never taken him there until the fight was done and the Dark Lord was in the grave for the last time, never to come back.” The last sentence had such vehemence in it that Draco would have pitied Voldemort if he had appeared there that instant.

“Why?”

“Because the Potters did something before they went into hiding that no one knew they did. They prepared for their death in a way that no one anticipated. The manor was dispelled a few days ago, in anticipation that Harry would be ready to move into it along with his guardians.”

“Guardians?”

“Black and Lupin. They didn’t even know of the manor. Then over the holiday, Harry would enter the manor and be greeted with the painting of his father.”

Draco gasped aloud at those words. His father had spoken long on the stupidity of the Potters for not creating paintings there before they went into hiding. No record had ever been found. If they had done it that meant that there was a lot about the war then that Harry could find out without going through Dumbledore. It also meant that Harry had a connection to his parents outside of pictures that didn’t talk and nightmares about his mother’s screams.

“And what of…” Draco trailed off. He called her ‘your mother’ when around Harry and Mrs. Potter when he was talking to his father but for Severus…what name was right. “…Lily.”

“She was there as well, on a side wall. There hadn’t been time to expand the area where Potter was to make room for her. The paintings were finished being spelled the day they went into hiding.”

“How did Harry take it?”

“Like his mother but I know his body and facial cues, he was in distress for the last hour we were talking to his parents. I think that Lily was catching on. We are to go back the last day of the holiday. To give us all the time to accept the changes.”

“How did the Potters take you being the one to raise Harry?”

“Potter was a little standoffish but Harry jumped down his throat and by the end, Potter accepted it and once Harry was done telling him about his life, Potter was downright thankful. They do not like Dumbledore and his manipulations when it comes to Harry.”

“When will it stop?” Draco leaned over as he spoke and brushed the hair away from Harry’s eyes. Harry smiled in his sleep and shuffled back to lean against Draco.

“I don’t know. Will you stay with him? I am afraid that as much as I love him, we were never very affectionate when it came to things like this.”

Draco nodded and moved so that he could lay down with Harry and hold him as the dreams and nightmares ran through his mind. He was sure that the night fourteen years ago was a main feature of the night. He didn’t hear Severus leave but the light was put out and a blanket thrown over the both of them.

Draco stayed awake most of the night, protecting Harry from the things that he could but most were in his mind and Draco had no control of those things.

xXxXxXx

The gifts were all open and the meal of the day was sitting heavy on the stomachs of all the guests inside of Grimmauld Place. Harry had in front of him texts on Aurors and high level defense practices from everyone.

Sirius and Remus were on the far side of the room with Molly, talking to her about the returned jumper from Percy. She had been devastated but the two men were doing well at calming her down. Harry looked over at the far side of the room where Severus was. Tomorrow as the day that Severus was to take Sirius and Remus to the manor to see his parents. First though, they had to tell everyone about it.

“Excuse me,” Harry said as he stood up and moved over to sit with Severus instead of Draco as he had been most of the day.

“I’ll tell them Harry. Why don’t you go get the letter for Black and Lupin?”

Harry nodded and stepped out of the room to go and get the letter. He took his time getting it and only rushed back in when he heard Sirius scream.

“What? They didn’t tell us?”

Entering the room, Harry saw that Remus had kept Sirius sitting and that Sirius wasn’t looking angry at Severus just angry, probably at his parents.

Harry could understand that feeling.

Chapter Seventy Two-Escapees
The door was so far away but Harry knew that he could do it. He could get to it and get it open. He had to. He had to get to it and open it. If he didn’t then it was all over. He would lose everything. Voldemort would win and he would lose. Another step brought him closer to the door but dread was filling him. He didn’t want to go to that door.

Shaking his head, Harry took another step and this one carried him right up to the door. He touched the door knob and found that the door opened quickly under his hand. What was on the other side was nothing that he had expected. It was a large circular room. Harry looked around and found that the floor was like water. As he stepped farther into the room, the door he entered through shut and the room spun.

Finally stopping, Harry noticed that there were twelve doors. Twelve doors that all looked the same. Before Harry could make a decision as to which door he wanted to try, a door opened to his left. As he stepped towards the door though, his legs started to feel heavy and he was having trouble lifting them.

Harry nearly cried out as he saw the door shutting, all he could see of the room was a giant arch. Just as the door was shutting, Harry saw someone fall through the arch. As the door closed, Harry’s legs felt light again but before he could get to the door, the room spun again. He expected to feel angry that the door disappeared from under his fingers but instead he was happy. He was so very happy about something. The happiness dulled for a few seconds and Harry felt a pull on his mind and then it was gone. Excitement rose and he nearly cracked.

The excitement and happiness was more than he could handle, Harry felt himself being pulled to wakefulness. Harry felt that he was shaking, from laughing silently. He didn’t know why he was so happy until he felt the scar. The pain in his scar was so great but he could barely feel it, his happiness was pushing it away. Slapping himself on the cheek, Harry snapped himself out of it but not before doubling over in his bed from the pain.

Keeping quiet so that he didn’t wake his dorm mates, Harry buried his face in his blankets. He knew what was up now. Voldemort was extremely happy about something. Harry had never felt so wrong about anything. If Voldemort was this happy then something bed for the rest of them had to have happened.

Grabbing his wand and cloak, Harry quickly but quietly left his dorm room. He put the cloak on before he even got to the bottom of the stairs and then he was out the door in seconds, with the Fat Lady not even really waking up when she let him out. The halls were silent and Harry hadn’t even seen a teacher patrolling at all. That in and of itself was off. Harry wondered where the on-duty teachers were.

A noise from a side passage had Harry stopping and quickly moving to press himself against the wall. Mrs. Norris trotted out of the passage and went on her way down another. Harry waited a few minutes before he started off again. Making sure that Filch was not right behind her. He wasn’t. He was at the corridor that led to the dungeons where Harry wanted to go into.

Harry only had to wait for a few minutes for Filch to wander off and then he could get where he needed to go. It was only a few seconds of travel and Harry was at the door he wanted. Speaking the password that Severus had given him and he was in the room.

Stopping cold, Harry took in the room. There was no fire in the fireplace. All the doors to the other rooms were shut. No book was sitting on the stand where Severus placed it when he was done reading for the night. There was no sound in the room at all. Opening the door to the bedroom, the bed was empty.

Dread crept over Harry. Could that be what Voldemort was so happy about? Had Severus been caught, did Voldemort know who had been protecting him? Was Severus dead? Was Severus being tortured? If Severus had been found out then Malfoy had been as well. That meant that Draco was in danger.

Looking at the time on his watch it was after three in the morning. Severus had not been to his rooms at all. Harry wondered who he should go to. Dumbledore would be no help and even McGonagall would punish him for being out of bed. If anyone had a way to check on Severus, it would be Draco. Harry would always be able to warn him.

Turning the other direction, Harry starts towards the Slytherin dorms. When he arrived at the door, he said the password that Draco had told him days before. The door quickly opened and let him in. The common room was empty and Harry was thankful for that. He didn’t want another student wondering why the door was opening on its own. The doors to all the dorm rooms were open and that gave pause. He wasn’t sure why they were open until he felt the coldness of the room. The only heat was coming from the fireplace.

“A sixth year decided to play with a spell to protect his room and it backfired. The heating charms to the entire area are shot,” Draco said from behind Harry. Harry spun around and saw Draco stepping from the shadows near the fireplace.

“How?” Harry whispered in case anyone else was up.

“I put a charm on the doorway. It was to let me know when Professor Snape came to fix the heating. All the dorms have their fireplaces going and that’s why all the doors are open. Our Prefects spelled the doors to where they can’t be shut.” Draco took a few steps closer to Harry and reached out blindly once before reaching again and snagging the hood and pulling it off Harry’s head. Draco smiled before leaning closer and kissing him.

Letting him have the touching gesture, Harry waited a few seconds before pulling back.

“So Severus has not been here?” Harry asked, getting worried again.

“No.” Draco stared at him for a few seconds before pulling him over to the couch closest to the fire. “What’s wrong?”

“He’s not in his rooms and he hasn’t been all night. There are no signs that he went there after supper. I…had another dream. Voldemort is very happy about something. I got worried when I found out that he wasn’t here. What if Voldemort got him?”

Draco didn’t answer right away; instead he looked at the fire. Harry gave him the time to answer. Draco knew what it would mean if Severus was found out. What it would mean for both of their families. “The Dark Lord would kill him and my father. It’s well known that they are very close. To have my mother and I defect from him and then find out that Severus is a spy for the light…Voldemort would blame my father as well. But you can’t jump to conclusions. It’s after three. We have only a few hours before we can head to the Great Hall. Dumbledore would know if something happened to him and if not then what really happened to make it so that he is that happy.”

“I’ll not ask him.”

“We may not have to. It would make front page if Voldemort made a move.”

Draco leaned back on the couch and motioned for Harry to lean over him. In a few seconds, they were cuddling on the couch and Draco pulled the hood back over his head.

“Let’s try and at least get a little bit of sleep. No one will question me sleeping out there. Crabbe and Goyle tend to snore and I sleep out here often.”

Harry didn’t say anything just let his eyes close and tried to forget about all that was worrying him.

xXxXxXx

The next morning dawned with a fog that surrounded the castle and made it impossible to even see much past one’s nose. Harry and Draco were the first students in the Great Hall. Before heading there though, Draco made Harry go back to his dorm to put up the cloak and to change. That only took Harry a few minutes and then he was back in the Gryffindor common room and joining Draco who waited there.

It wasn’t long before a few other students entered the Great Hall and sat down at the same table that Harry and Draco were sitting at, just a good distance down. Breakfast was the meal that no one ever really sat in the same place during. A lot of it depended on who was first in the room.

Happy that this was a Saturday morning and that classes were not a worry, Harry slowly picked at a piece of toast. Draco kept trying to get him to eat more but it was futile. Harry’s stomach was bunched up in so many knots that Harry was unsure that what he was eating was even making it to his stomach.

It was near eight when Hermione finally came running into the hall and zeroed in on Harry and Draco.

“You’re father sent this!” Hermione said as she stopped on the opposite side of the table. In her hand was the Daily Prophet. If Severus had sent it then he was fine. Harry handed the paper to Draco, not trusting his hands to be steady enough to read it. Draco read is silently and then started to pale.

“There was a breakout from Azkaban last night. That’s why he was so happy about…Antonin Dolohov, Bellatrix Lestrange, Rabastan Lestrange, Rodolphus Lestrange, Mulcibur, Augustus Rookwood, Travers, and three others were broken out last night. The paper says that the Ministry has no leads. There is an astounding reward for those who have information about this.”

“We’re in your dorm, Harry and the twins are getting breakfast for us all. If you’d rather be there.” Hermione waited and when Harry nodded she smiled at the both of them. Draco tucked the paper under an arm and stood up.

Just as they were leaving the Great Hall, McGonagall was entering, Harry motioned at her and she stopped.

“A sixth year was playing around last night and the heating charms on the Slytherin dungeon are not working.” Draco held up the paper and shook it. “I figured that you might want to let Flitwick know. They slept with the fireplaces on high last night and with all the doors open. The kitchen will probably want to have hot drinks ready for the rest of the students.”

“Thank you, Potter, Malfoy. I’ll take care of it. I understand why this wasn’t brought to attention last night. I’ll make sure it’s fixed for tonight or the Slytherins will sleep in here. It’s too cold out for them to sleep in freezing dungeons. I assume the student was dealt with?”

“Yes, Professor. She had points taken by the Head Girl and she was alone in her dorm room last night, the other girls doubled up in another. It happened around midnight so it was unsure whether Professor Snape just hadn’t gotten the message or was ignoring us. I am sure the Head Girl went to the Headmaster this morning.”

“Headmaster Dumbledore is not in today, he’s at the Ministry along with Professor Snape but Professor Flitwick and I will handle this.”

“Thank you, Professor,” Harry and Draco said at the same time before they started off to the Gryffindor Tower.

By the time that the duo arrived at Harry’s room, everyone was gathered. Even Blaise and Pansy. Fred and George were just arriving with breakfast and Luna had just arrived with Blaise and Pansy. Ron and Neville were sitting on Ron’s bed. Fred and George passed out the food and hot chocolate and then sat down on the end of Ron’s bed. Hermione sat down beside her boyfriend and Blaise, Pansy, Luna, Harry, and Draco sat down on Harry’s bed.

“There was another note with the paper. Hedwig delivered it first thing this morning. It was after Ron remembers you coming back to the room and changing though.” Hermione handed over the note and gave Harry a smile.

“Thanks.” Harry handed Draco his drink and opened the note.

Harry,

I have grave news that cannot be shared in a letter. I will be by to pick you up at the tunnel entrance that Draco knows about tonight at nine. Dress warmly and bring your cloak. Cover both of you up with it. I am sure that the closeness will not be a burden

Your Father

Harry stared at the letter and then handed it to Draco, taking back his hot chocolate.

“I am surprised that the kitchen had so much hot chocolate on hand, ready,” Fred stated as he sipped his.

“Well that’s a funny story.”

Harry, Draco, Blaise, and Pansy all talked about the night spent for the Slytherins, trying to take their mind off of what was happening.

“What’s going to happen with the prisoners out?”

“I figure that the Dark Lord will get braver. He’s always favored those who were willing to die or go to prison for him and those that escaped were of the most loyal,” Blaise said not looking up from his food. “My family stayed out it last time but if came to my safety, who knows what my mother will do. She would never make me take the mark but she may pull me from school and move abroad.”

“My father is talking of the same,” Pansy whispered. She scooted closer to Draco and he looped an arm around her shoulder. “I don’t want to. It’s the coward thing to do. The Parkinson’s have been in England for hundreds of years and I don’t want to be run off by a nutter with a god complex.”

“Hear, Hear!” Fred and George yelled. The rest of the group chimed in. Harry smiled at Draco who smiled back. Voldemort wasn’t ready for Harry and his friends.

Chapter Seventy Three-A List of Names
Harry and Draco arrived at the tunnel at the time that Severus had indicated. Neither boy knew what to expect but to find Lucius standing there waiting, was not it. Lucius was in his Death Eater robes but his mask was no on this face.

Lucius was looking around, barely taking in his surroundings but still being vigilant. The boys had been quiet walking up but Lucius had to have heard the door opening.

“I now that you are there but points for trying.” Lucius’s eyes focused on where the boys should have been. They had been slower, trying to be quiet so they were several feet back from where Lucius’s eyes were.

Draco pulled the hood off and Lucius’s eyes trained to where they were.

“Well, even I can be surprised.”

“Where are we going?”

“A wonderful question,” Lucius drawled. He looked behind him, drawing Draco and Harry’s gaze as well. There was no one there. “Your father has not shared that with me. I fear that the Headmaster is keeping him longer than he thought he would be. Nevertheless, I am to take you to a secret location and we are to wait. I hope it is not long, the Dark Lord will notice our absence if we are too long.”

Lucius turned and started to walk. Draco looked at Harry for a few seconds before putting the hood of the cloak up. The boys followed Lucius silently across the grounds of the school. Harry knew where they were going the second that Lucius turned to the far side of the school. There was only one thing on that side that held any interest in a hiding spot and that was the Whomping Willow which led to the Shrieking Shack. He didn’t say anything though, just waited for Lucius to poke the spot on the tree and then follow him down into it.

Once they were safely inside, Harry pulled the cloak off and folded it up to place in his pocket. He had spelled this pair of pants to have a large pocket made for the cloak. Draco had given him the idea earlier in the day. It had been tricky but in the end worth it. Lucius watched with a keen eye as he did so. The smirk on his face was the same one that Draco gave him all the time. It was a ‘You might be smart enough to live’ smirk. Sometimes it infuriated Harry.

“Are we ready?” Severus asked as he entered the doorway just behind Harry. The pressure on Harry’s mind was normal. It was a quick way for Harry and him to recognize each other. He was sure that the man was Severus. He just wondered how Lucius and Draco were going to check.

“Yes, we are. I would like to know where we are going though, Severus?” Lucius asked as he kept his eye on the other older man.

“Nowhere. I wasn’t sure if anyone would intercept the letter and I had to be sure that they would be expecting us to leave Hogwarts fully.”

Lucius said nothing just stared but he did conjure four chairs for them. Harry and Draco were the first to sit but Lucius didn’t. He stared at Severus for a few seconds. Severus’s hand twitched but the man didn’t move other than that. Lucius seemed okay with the gesture and sat down.

“Why are we meeting?” Harry asked, relaxing but keeping a hand on his wand in his lap.

“With the breakout from Azkaban, there are those who are starting to see that maybe you are correct Harry. I mean from the rest of our population of the Wizarding World. The Ministry of Magic is still denying it full tilt. This is not uncommon. Many feel that there is no other reason for them to escape than to go back to their master. Some think that is the only way they could have escaped was with his help. Right now we are in a unique position to push this forward.”

“How?” Draco asked as he shifted to a more sitting up position. Harry stayed slouched but prepared for anything.

“There are six Death Eaters that have gone back to him that are not in the public eye as followers. Some of them are suspected but others…are not,” Lucius said as he flicked a wand, a table with hot tea appeared in the center of them.

Looking at Draco, Harry saw that the other boy was thinking hard on something. Just before Harry was going to ask who, Draco’s eyes widened.

“No.”

“Yes, Draco. If I am not named by him then…things could get very bad for me. The Dark Lord would want to know why, especially since the two of you are close. You would know that I am one. There is no way that you haven’t told him. Even to curry false favor with him. The Dark Lord will not be expecting this. It would throw him and his plans for a loop. Right now it’s our best move. I can deal with the fallout. I can live with what will happen. You and your mother are safe and separate from me. If it turns for the worse, there are plans in place.”

“Draco, it’s the best plan.” Severus leaned forward in his seat and patted Draco’s hand. “It’s the best for it all. It would put the next move in the Dark Lord’s court. While many won’t believe it, enough will to where this would hamper the Dark Lord’s plans. He would have to change so much. He would have to start to reach out for new Death Eaters. Your father and I would be in a position to protect some and give others over the Ministry.”

“At your own risk!” Harry forcefully stated. He leaned forward in his chair and stared at Severus. “What is going to happen to Draco and me if you are caught? We are two years from being adults. Where would we go? Fudge would place both of us with Ministry officials, not with the Weasleys.”

“We have that taken care of. Emancipation. It’s chosen by different courts. The paperwork has already gone through; it’s part of our wills. If I die, Harry you will be identified as an adult to the courts.” Severus looked over at Lucius.

“And if I die, you will be made Lord Malfoy and be in charge of the estate and your mother, as well as be seen as an adult by the courts. Fudge and Dumbledore can’t touch it.”

“How?” Harry and Draco asked at the same time.

“I went under a guise, and the courts accepted that I was protecting you. They felt that I was acting in your best interests and that being allowed to make your own decisions given my death was the best way to protect you in the future. I was going to give custody over to Sirius or Molly but I felt that it would make them a target. Those who want you want you alive, Harry. They will stop at nothing to get their hands on you. Just as before, I do this all to protect you.”

Harry nodded but looked away from Severus. It was a lot to take in. Everything was changing too much and getting so much more dangerous.

“There is one flaw with your plan,” Draco said as he leaned back in his chair. He tipped his head back and looked up at ceiling. He looked up there for a few seconds before looking over at Harry.

Thinking for a few minutes the flaw in the plan became evident. If Draco told Harry about his father then he would tell him of another Death Eater that was much closer to home. If Harry didn’t name his father as one, the target would be painted on his back.

“We wanted you both to come to that on your own. If we had suggested it, Harry would have balked at it on principle.”

“I know what I have to do. What paper do you want me to go to?”

“The Quibbler. Lovegood has treated us good in the past and this will up his subscriptions again.” Lucius waved his wand and banished the untouched refreshments and the table. “It’s nearly ten. It’s you boys get back to the castle. Once the article hits, never be alone, ever. It would be best if both of you were around each other as much as possible but the rest of your circle would be good.”

“We know how to keep ourselves safe and I know that this will paint a very large target on our backs but it will on yours as well. You both need to be safe as well.

Lucius nodded and gave them both a very grim smile. Severus just nodded and looked away.

xXxXxXx

A Terror in Names

Harry Potter once again sat down with The Quibbler and gave an interview. This time he has decided that the world needs to know of some names.

“The world knows the names of the Death Eaters that have escaped from prison. Everyone will be looking for them but there are more. There are other Death Eaters that walk among us and no one knows it.

Lucius Malfoy, Stephen Avery, Solomon Nott, Alfred Crabbed, Eric Jugson, Walden MacNair, and Severus Snape. Potter named these names with his boyfriend Draco Malfoy sitting beside him. The world knows by now that Narcissa Malfoy and her son Draco have left the Malfoy Manor and are now living in parts unknown, with Potter’s friends.

These names are a list of Death Eaters that Potter saw when he saw He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named come back from the dead last summer and list from Draco Malfoy himself.

Severus Snape was a spy for the light side during the last war but now his actual side is being called into question. Is young Malfoy wrong or is Dumbledore. What is the board of Governor’s doing about this?

Hermione finished reading the rest of the article aloud but Harry was looking at the other students who had arrived for breakfast. There were only around a hundred so far but many had already read the article or were reading it then. Harry could tell that because they kept looking up at the head table.

Picking up the Daily Prophet Draco started to flip through it before an article caught his eye.

“Seems that Lovegood alerted Fudge. There is an article on the cover about Fudge’s reaction to it.” Draco laid the paper down and started to read it aloud.

More Terror from the Lord of Terror, Potter

After getting wind of an article being put out by another smaller news source, the Daily Prophet decided to talk to Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge about Harry Potter’s accusations of Death Eater running around in plain sight.

“I don’t know where Potter has received his information and whatever Young Malfoy has stated is to be viewed with suspect. Every single one of the names that he has named, are not under investigation by the Ministry at this time. Their involvement has been cleared.”

“It goes from there to talk more about the escape from Azkaban and what is being done about that.”

Ron snorted while eating a piece of bacon. He set it down and looked around the room. Now everyone was split between looking at Harry and up at the table. Harry just laughed a little.

“He never once tried to call you nutters this time.” Ron pointed out, picking up his bacon again and going back to eating.

“It was a good article, Luna,” Pansy said.

Luna just nodded and gave a little mock bow.

“Daddy printed an extra five hundred articles. Over two hundred were requested before he sent me these copies last night for the school. The hundred he sent to the school were a donation.”

“I am sure that many of those will be taken by Umbridge.”

“I am sure.”

XXxXxXx

“Next Hogsmeade is weekend after next yes?” Draco asked as he reclined on a couch in Gryffindor with Harry, Ron, and Hermione surrounding him. His head was in Harry’s lap.

“Yes. Why?” Ron asked, setting his Potions book down. Harry and Draco had finished their homework an hour before and had just been relaxing. Hermione still had a book in her lap but she was only reading.

“Might as well have a date. Something public. I am sure that the papers will love it.”

Harry laughed as he ruffled Draco’s hair. The common room was mostly empty, a few older students were scattered around, reading as well. Most of the others were either wandering around or in the Great Hall for the study sessions.

The school was still abuzz with the articles from The Quibbler and Daily Prophet that had come out that morning. None of the group had Umbridge that day but had heard from the other students that she was in a tiff the entire day.

The door to the tower opened and in walked McGonagall and Dumbledore. Draco sat up quickly and then shifted so that he wasn’t touching Harry at all. Hermione put away her book and Ron set his book down on a table.

“Mr. Potter, we are waiting on Professor Umbridge.”

The scuffling of books and chairs alerted the small group to the fact that the other students were leaving. They exited the tower before the Fat Lady shut the doorway off. They were now alone in the tower.

“You know that you put Professor Snape in danger?”

“Who do you think told me to do it, Headmaster?” Harry asked. He stood up and made sure to place his wand in his pocket so that it was visible. He saw Draco move his own wand to his hand. “I would have never done it without his permission. The world needs to know and I had to protect him. If I hadn’t named him after Draco told me about him…”

The door opening made Harry shut his mouth. He watched as Umbridge walked through the opening. She had in her hand a piece of parchment.

“Headmaster, I was surprised that you wanted to talk to me here. I figured that punishment would be worked out and then meted out.”

“What punishment?” McGonagall asked. She glared at Umbridge.

“For spreading lies?” Umbridge asked in her sickly sweet voice.

“If I punished Mr. Potter for that, I would have to put the entire school in detention, Professor Umbridge.”

“The Minister would like to see Mr. Potter expelled from school.”

“And the Governors want nothing to happen to him. I have been told by the owner of The Quibbler that Mr. Potter gave his interview on a weekend day and while Mr. Potter was at school, the weekends are theirs and he should not be punished for it.”

“The Minister will hear of this.”

“Good.” McGonagall motioned for Umbridge to exit in front of her outside the tower. Umbridge looked at Harry for a few seconds before leaving. Expecting Dumbledore to follow, Harry nearly sat back down but when the old man didn’t move, Harry stopped his movement.

“So…” Draco said as he looked at Dumbledore.

“Your article has made your fathers’ lives difficult, Harry, Draco.”

“And? My father deserved it.”

Dumbledore just gave Draco a look and then turned to leave himself.

“We are so going to pay for this.” Ron looked at the others before he picked his book back up.

“Unlikely. It wouldn’t do well for something the Headmaster of the school does to reflect against a student. It would be career suicide.” Draco sniffed and pulled Harry back down on the couch to lay his head in the dark haired boys lap again.

Chapter Seventy Four-Hogsmeade Weekend
The school was abuzz that one of the unused classrooms on the ground floor was being remodeled. Fred and George had seen that it was now covered in grass. Harry hadn’t been able to look and see as he was busy all day with classes and Draco. Half of the Slytherins were giving Draco the cold shoulder or downright being mean to him. The other half had no problem with his at all. Still Draco spent most of his time with Harry, Blaise, and Pansy. It was safer that way.

A detention for Harry and Draco that came from nowhere that Severus was overseeing brought whispers from the other students. There wasn’t any outcry from it; Harry didn’t figure there would be. No one messed with Severus, even now after the article.

“Potter, I am sure you are wondering about why your detention is being served with Professor Snape.” McGonagall’s words stopped Harry as he left her class.

“I wasn’t going to question, Professor.” Harry turned to look at the older professor before stepping back close to her.

“I am overseeing a few things about the OWLs and NEWTs over the next few weeks so all of my detentions will be overseen by other Heads of House. Professor Snape was already overseeing a detention for Mr. Malfoy so he volunteered to take over yours as well.”

“May I ask, Professor, what did I do to get the detention?” Harry watched her face as he asked. She gave him a small tight smile before nodding.

“You and Mr. Malfoy were caught by myself in the halls, in a position most…inappropriate.”

“And when…needs to talk to me or Draco this will be used?”

“Yes. Professors Flitwick, Snape or I will be the ones catching you. If it is a detention from another teacher or for another offense then it’s a real detention. You will need to attend them, no matter what but you will at least be able know what to expect.”

“Thank you, Professor. I will endeavor to not get caught again,” Harry said with a bit of smugness in his voice. He gave her a smirk before leaving the room. Thankfully he didn’t have another class for a while; he wasn’t going to be late.

The day flew by for Harry who made sure that he was never alone. Draco was with Blaise or Pansy every single time that Harry saw him. Harry stayed with Hermione, Ron, and Neville as much as possible. There was very little where he had to be alone.

That night, Harry went to the Potions lab at the appointed time. Draco was already there and Harry had crossed Blaise walking back to the Slytherin dungeons. Harry waved Ron and Hermione off and they smiled and went back the way they came.

Harry shut the door behind him as he entered the room. Draco was sitting at one of the tables, looking at a paper of some kind. Severus was standing at his desk.

“Come in, Harry. We are just waiting on you. I know that you were never interested in taking Trelawney’s class but that could have to do with my upbringing more than not wanting to learn the material. There is an opportunity for students to take a class that will be an elective for students of fifth year and above. Starting next year, those fifth, sixth, and seventh year students that wish can take a Divination class with Firenze.”

“What happened?” Harry asked, sitting down beside Harry.

“He is not allowed back into the forest at all. I’ll not go into details. It’s his story to tell.”

“What will the class be like?”

“His classes will go into the stars and phases and portents. It will cover very little that Trelawney will be covering. His classes will only be at a high level, given the sudden addition to the school, Firenze is spending the rest of this year getting his classes together. Students in fifth year this year will be given the chance to add his class next year and will be able to pass any NEWT exam on the subject. It will be a hard class but I think that you both could take it.”

“I think it would be nice,” Draco said. Harry nodded his agreement.

“I thought that you might. There are other things that I want to talk about. I wanted to let you both know that there are students in this school that have taken the Dark Mark. The Dark Lord revealed this to Lucius and me just a few days ago. I don’t know the names but I know that they are not just in Slytherin house. I would stick to people you know and never be alone. Even under your cloak.”

“I haven’t. Even when McGonagall stopped me, Ron waited for me outside while I talked to her.”

“Good. I will be leaving when this is over for a meeting. I will pass along that you are well to your father, Draco. The Dark Lord is upset that so many of his Death Eaters were named but he was sure it was only a matter of time. There is a kill on sight order for you Draco with the adult Death Eaters. Voldemort told the ones in school that he was not being served if they came under scrutiny. Even now many still don’t believe that he is back and he wants to keep it that way.”

“How angry did he get?” Draco asked as he set down the paper and looked up at Severus.

“He was very angry and still is. He lets emotions cloud his judgment too much. I think it will be his downfall.”

“There is a lot that he does that will lead to his downfall.” Draco sniffed as he stood up and moved up to the table. Harry followed.

“I do want you both to keep your heads down and noses clean. Umbridge is still a wild card in this all. She will be livid with Firenze in the castle. Fudge is still a very real enemy and she is his spy in this all.”

“I know.” Harry patted Severus’s hand.

“Why don’t we spend the rest of this detention going over some spells? I’ve prepared some dummies to use.”

XXxXxXx

Saturday came much too fast and much to slow to Harry. The whole school was looking forward to the Hogsmeade trip. The upper class that was allowed to go wanted the freedom while the underclass wanted the run of the castle. Those upper classmen that was staying would be in one of three places, their own common room, the library, or the Great Hall, all studying.

Draco was meeting Harry down there. He had received permission to leave early. Harry knew that he was meeting with his mother about something. It would be one of the few times that Narcissa was out in public since the holidays. It had to be something important.

“Are you ready, Harry?” Neville asked stepping up behind the dark haired boy. Harry tipped his head back. He was outside the castle, waiting with Fred and George for the rest of the group. Hermione, Ron, Blaise, Pansy, and Neville were now all behind him.

“Yes, has the rest of the school gone down?”

“Mostly. There will be stragglers.” Hermione waited for Harry to stand before she linked arms with him. Pansy grabbed the other arm.

“Be a gentleman and help us down to the town, Potter,” Pansy said with a smirk on her face. Hermione pulled on his arm and the trio started down, the rest of the boys flanked themselves on either side of the trio and that was the way they walked down.

By the time the group got down to the town, most the other students were already in the various stores. Draco was waiting for Harry at the closest edge of the town to Hogwarts. Draco smirked when his eyes landed on Harry. Pansy though never let go of his arm, Hermione had at the edge of the town. She walked Harry right up to Draco and kissed them both on the cheek before she linked Harry and Draco’s hands. She patted their hands before walking away. The rest of the group headed away from the couple.

“She’s weird,” Harry said as he released Draco’s hand.

“And vengeful. I don’t know who she would kill if we broke up. She’s taken a shine to you. She’s also gotten rather brave. So what do you want to do?”

“I don’t know. I am not going to Madam Puddifoot’s though.”

“Wouldn’t catch me dead there. There’s a nice bookshop at the edge of town, right up our alley. Their defense texts are wonderful. It’s a little shop, rather new but good reviews so far.”

“Sure. I think that would be great. I don’t want to spend all day here. I do want to head back to the castle early. I’ve some homework to do. The Transfiguration homework is kind of kicking my butt.”

“I’ll help you. The Potions one is my issue. I know you know that.”

The entire afternoon was spent discussing books and other things at shops. Harry enjoyed the day and it was a good day of relaxation. The other students kept their distance whether from politeness or fear, Harry wasn’t sure.

If that was what all dates were like, Harry wanted more but he knew that for him and Draco not all dates would be like that. Draco was snotty and liked the finer things that Harry really didn’t care for. Staying with Draco, Harry knew would be a challenge but a challenge that he could deal with.

“Do you want to eat?” Draco asked as they left the sweet store. Harry had a small bag while Draco had a bigger bag. Harry knew that part of that was for Pansy. She raided his sweets a good bit and what Narcissa sent rarely lasted long. There were several sweets in the bag that was just for the female Slytherin and a few for Harry as well. Harry had of course got a few things for Draco as well. A good bit of their time was spent in Gryffindor Tower but Harry was sure that he would be spending a fair amount of time in the Slytherin dungeon as well.

“Three Broomsticks?” Harry asked. Draco nodded and started off in that direction. They didn’t hold hands. Pansy had caught them a few times and had made them. They usually dropped each other’s hands when she was out of sight.

A table was found easy and Rosemerta took their order. Draco had ordered just chips while Harry had ordered a sandwich and chips. Harry was sure that Draco would eat half of the sandwich, so he ordered it the way Draco liked.

Both of them were silent as they waited for the food to arrive. Rosemerta dropped off some warm butterbeer. Harry grabbed the tankard and took a drink. It helped warm him up. Draco smirked before taking a drink of his own tankard. For a Hogsmeade weekend the Three Broomsticks was rather empty.

Even after the food arrived, Harry and Draco stayed silent. It was a comfortable silence. Harry was correct, Draco snatched half the sandwich when Harry wasn’t looking. Harry smiled when he looked down and saw that half of it was gone.

No one inside the Three Broomsticks looked at them or bothered them. It was a silent lunch and in Harry’s eyes a perfect one.

Word had to have spread out because by the time that Harry and Draco had grabbed a meal at Rosemerta’s and were ready to leave; a small crowd of reporters wanted pictures. Harry grabbed Draco’s hand and they both started back to the castle. The boys just ignored them and when they found the rest of the group, Pansy and Hermione buffered them on either side while Fred and George covered the back. Ron, Neville, and Blaise pushed through the reporters.

Harry was surprised that it had taken them as long as it did for the reporters to get to Hogsmeade. It was a surprise that no one had got a hold of them the instant that Harry and Draco entered Hogsmeade.

“When are we doing another session?” Pansy asked.

“OWLs are getting closer. Do we want to do more or less?” Harry turned to face Pansy as he walked. She linked her arm with his as Draco linked his with Hermione.

“I think the same amount will be the safe. We are doing well and with the study hall, I think it will be more than enough.”

Chapter Seventy Five-Revealed
Harry looked at the group that had gathered in the Room of Requirement. It was one of the final meetings before their OWLs. The stress was evident on all of the fifth year students. Several were being treated in the hospital wing, having already cracked under the pressure.

Everyone was paired off, Hermione and Pansy, Ron and Blaise, Fred and Neville, Luna and George. Draco was helping to watch everyone, to make sure nothing went wrong.

The first tremor was nothing that alerted Harry. The magic that swirled around the room was so much that the walls shook sometimes when everyone cast at the same time.

The second tremor had everyone stopping and looking around the room. This wasn’t just the walls shaking; this was the floor and ceiling as well.

“What’s going on?” Draco asked. His gaze was centered on Harry.

“I don’t know.”

The door blowing inward and Umbridge standing there with Filch behind her. In her hand was her wand.

Instead of scattering to try and get away, the other teens just moved to stand behind Harry and Draco. The room quickly changed to be a blank nondescript room. Umbridge didn’t have too much time to see what was in there.

“You are all to come with me,” Umbridge said in a sickly sweet voice.

Harry turned to face to the others, whispering, “Say nothing. I’ll handle this. If they separate us, still say nothing.”

“Now, Mr. Potter.”

Turning back to face Umbridge, Harry pocketed his wand and waved for Umbridge to lead the way. The teens formed a line, everyone staying in their pairs. Filch brought up the rear with Mrs. Norris behind him.

Harry was surprised when Umbridge led them not to the Headmaster’s office but her own. Umbridge conjured chairs for them all but none of them sat down.

“Please sit,” Umbridge said in a soft voice. She turned to Filch, “Please fetch Professor Snape and have him bring a rather large supply of Veritaserum.”

“Yes, Professor Umbridge.” Filch turned and left the room.

Umbridge turned to look at the teens. She smiled as she sat down in her chair and set about conjuring a tea set and enough cups for them all.

“What have we done wrong, Professor?” Draco asked as Umbridge finished pouring the tea.

“You are seeking to undermine the edicts of the school and to undermine the authority of this school.”

“How?” Harry asked. He quickly set shifted himself to relax in the chair. Draco and the rest of the teens followed quickly. Umbridge gave a small glare but just as fast as Harry saw it, it disappeared and she was smiling at them again.

“You are holding secret meetings.”

“Our Heads of House know where we are and Professor Snape and McGonagall gave us permission to meet in the Room of Requirement.”

“Did they now?” Umbridge’s small faltered some.

“Yes.”

“So if I call them here, they will corroborate the story?”

“It’s not a story, Professor. It’s the truth and I am sure that when Professor Snape arrives, he will tell you.”

“Hrm. We will just have to wait and see, won’t we?”

Harry said nothing, just relaxed fully again and waited. It wasn’t long before the door was opening and Severus entered. He took a look at the teens and then settled on Harry. Harry nodded and smiled before turning to look back at Umbridge.

“What have these students done?”

“I would like to know myself. They were having a secret meeting in the Room of Requirement, as they call it. I want to know what for.”

“I gave these students permission to meet there and have a defense study group. They are trying spells out on dummies that are too dangerous to try out on other people and where the younger students of the study hall can’t interfere. If that is what they were doing, then you have no reason to keep them.”

“Why can they not meet in an empty classroom?” Umbridge smirked as she talked. Severus just turned to glare at her. She squirmed some but her smile never left her face. Harry knew that she thought that she had caught him.

“Usually Professor McGonagall and I oversee the sessions but given that the Headmaster is gone from the castle, I was helping Minerva keep an eye on the school. I told them to practice without me. The spells are dangerous if someone was to open the doors on the rooms and the Room gives them what they need. The Headmaster knew of these meetings, Professor. When he returns you can take it up with him.”

“I believe that Potter has deceived you, Professor.”

“Excuse me?” Severus asked. He turned the full force of his gaze back onto her. “Are you saying that I have been fooled by a child?”

“I am saying exactly that. Mr. Potter is a very well versed in deception. He had the entire school fooled.”

“What do you mean?”

“He has knowledge that is not known by adults much older and wiser than him. He knows spells that are rather dark in origin. I think that Mr. Potter is being raised by a Death Eater to take his place as the new Dark Lord.”

No one in the room knew how to respond to that. Harry and Draco tried not to laugh out loud. Harry was sure that the others were stunned. Severus was just staring at Umbridge with a look of incredulity on his face. Harry wasn’t sure if he was going to explode in anger or laughter at the crazy woman.

“I see. I will make sure that the Headmaster knows what you think on the matter. On another note, the Veritaserum you requested, I am unable to comply. The doses I have already given you were the last of my supply and it will be at least a month before the latest batch is ready.”

“You mean that you are unable to do as I wish? You want me to tell the Minister that you are not helping me? Your friend Lucius will be so upset to hear that. He has pushed so hard for you in the Ministry.”

“And both the Minister and Mr. Malfoy know that a potion cannot be given to a subject unless it is brewed correctly. To do otherwise is the kill the intended and that will go over even worse. Why not just ask him?” Severus waived his hand as he spoke, letting the motion flick towards Harry.

Umbridge turned to Harry at Severus’s wave of his hand. She stared at him and he just stared back. He was still trying not to laugh out loud at the accusation against him.

“Tell me Potter. What were the ten of you doing in that room?”

“Have a study hall, Professor.”

“I know that can’t be correct, Mr. Potter. I know it.” Umbridge stood up and moved around the desk to come to rest in front of him. Her eyes never left his face. “I know you, Mr. Potter. I know what people like you are like. You want anarchy and discord. That is the only reason you are spreading those nasty lies about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Tell me what you were doing?”

Leaning forward, Harry smirked at her as he got closer. “You want to know, Professor. You really want to know…” Waiting for her eyes to dilate, Harry paused. He continued when her eyes widened. “We were getting ready to have an orgy. Ron and Hermione, Pansy and Neville, Luna and George, and Blaise and Fred. Of course Draco and I. We were going to have sex until we passed out.”

“POTTER!” Severus yelled. He grabbed Harry by the nape of his neck and shoved him out of the room. The other teens started to laugh. “All of you, with me.”

The teens stood up, laughing and clutching their sides. Umbridge was still standing there, gaping. She hadn’t recovered by the time that the door was closed.

xXxXxXx

Severus walked the students down the corridor and opened a random door and shoved Harry in. The rest of the students followed. None of them has stopped laughing.

“Please refrain from making Umbridge anymore mad than she already is. I understand that she would not take the truth but really, Harry?”

“I am sorry, Professor.” Harry straightened himself and looked at Severus. Severus could still see the laughter in his eyes but it was contained for now. “I racked my brain for an answer but she wasn’t taking the truth. It just came to me. I couldn’t help myself.”

“I understand. Please just go down and join everyone else in the Great Hall. Do not let Umbridge catch you alone for the next few days.”

“Why are you out of Veritaserum, Professor?” Hermione asked as Fred and George opened the door.

“Because Professor Umbridge has used all of it on Harry in his meals. She does not believe that Harry is immune.”

The teens all filed out, Draco grabbing Harry’s hand as they exited. Severus let himself relax slightly. He was sure that between Harry and Draco’s snark and mouth, he would die an early death. Straightening his robes, Severus walked back to Umbridge’s office.

Entering without knocking, Severus found Umbridge writing away on a letter of some kind.

“I think that the Headmaster needs to know what is going on.” The vile woman didn’t even look up. Severus sneered at her.

“Potter is playing you. When students tell the truth and you don’t believe them, they tend to go for the most outlandish lie they can think of. Malfoy is prudish enough that sex in even a small public setting like that would never happen. I know that this is your first year teaching but if Potter’s answer shocked you that much, I think that this should be your last.”

That got Umbridge’s attention. She looked up at Severus, saying nothing, just staring at him. She narrowed her eyes before looking back at her paper.

“Be warned that interfering in a student’s education outside of your own class room is not allowed. You teach your class the way you want to but going against the ways of the school and the Headmaster is a way to get on the student’s bad sides. Because Professor, the students are not people that you want to cross. They band together is odd ways as you have seen.”

Waiting and getting no response, Severus turned from Umbridge and left the room. Hoping that Harry and his friends had done what he asked Severus went back to his office. He was not hungry anymore and a letter needed to be written to Sirius and Remus, giving an update on Harry. He would also write a coded letter to Lucius. This had bearing on what his plans for his son were.

xXxXxXx

Harry sat down at the only empty place at the Ravenclaw table. It was the table being used for the people actually studying. The other tables were shoved against the wall, out of the way for practical lessons. The room was pretty full of the upper class, all studying for exams whether it was regular end of term or OWLs or NEWTs.

Harry’s private study group had stopped meeting a few weeks before. The exams were just a week away and Harry was as prepared as he could be but he still worried. He wanted to do well. How many OWLs he got, would tell the world how well he was doing.

“How are you doing?” Draco asked, leaning across the table so that he wouldn’t have to talk very loud.

“I think well. I am more worried about the younger students. The ones not sitting the big exams. I worry that we have not been able to do enough. I just worry.”

“Between you and Hermione, they stand a better chance than if they had Umbridge alone teaching them. You need to worry about you.”

“I know.” Harry sighed and closed the book he had just opened. He was too antsy to study. He needed to be doing something. He looked at the students doing actual spells and stood up. He shoved his book and his bag over to Draco, who picked them up and placed them with his own. Harry smiled at him before crossing the room.

Finding a group of third years, Harry helped them for hours, until the group was ushered out of the Great Hall and to bed. The younger students that were left went along willingly but the older students begged for just a little more time.

It wasn’t given and when all four Heads of House told the students to go to bed they did.

As Harry drifted off to sleep he thought about the fact that Dumbledore was not spending a lot of time outside the castle. The Heads of House were the main caretakers of the castle and the students. He wondered what was going on that needed his attention so much out of the castle, where it really should.

xXxXxXx

Harry sat down in the common room, resting. His OWLs were done. He had sat exams for ten classes: History of Magic, Charms, Potions, Transfiguration, Ancient Runes, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Herbology, Care of Magical Creatures, Astronomy, and Divination. Even though he had only been in Divination for one year, he still had to take the test. He was sure that he would pass it. The same with Ancient Runes. The chatter of the rest of the fifth year students coming back from dinner lulled him into a light sleep.

A light shaking on his arm pulled him from the light doze. He looked up to see Hermione standing above him.

“I’ll be up in a little. How’d today go?”

“Fine. Dobby left you some vegetables in your room.”

“Thanks. I’ll be up when I’m done thinking.”

Hermione smiled at him and Harry went back to looking at the fire. He stared at the fire and watched as the flames danced in front of his vision.

Harry wasn’t sure when he fell asleep but when he found himself opening the door in the Department of Mysteries. He found himself staring at a giant arch.

Chapter Seventy Six-Vision
The arch filled Harry’s vision. It was all he saw until movement jerked his vision to a body that fell through the arch. Sirius was on the ground on the far side of the arch. More movement drew his eyes to the side of the arch, where Voldemort was standing. Harry watched as Voldemort cast Avada Kedavra at Sirius. Harry watched his godfather die. His vision switched and he was in a room that Harry had only ever seen in a picture from Severus. It was the Hall of Prophecy.

“Come to me to save him,” Voldemort’s voice whispered.

Harry started to run forward but he jerked awake in the chair. The fire was low in the grate. He didn’t know the time but it was late, he could tell that by the fire. He jumped from his seat and ran up the stairs, grabbing his things as he moved. He put his bag on his bed and donned his cloak. He had to see Severus right then. There was something going down in the Department of Mysteries. Severus would know if Sirius had been taken. There was no way that Remus would let him be taken and not warn Harry about it.

The weapon that Voldemort was trying to get his hands on. It was the prophecy. They were the only two who could get it. He wondered how many were hurt before he figured that out. How many Death Eaters and Imperioused bystanders were harmed because Voldemort was a chicken and wouldn’t go after something that he wanted that bad.

Harry raced through the halls of the school as quick as he dared. He nearly ran into Filch rounding a corner on the main floor. Filch reached out his hand and tried to grab, but Harry using his quick reflexes, dodged the grasping hand and ran around the corner to the stairs that would take him out near Severus’s rooms.

When he touched the door he found it was warded heavily and wouldn’t admit him. So he used the secret passage. The wards would not have been put up to stop him but others. He entered the bedroom and quickly moved to the main room, where he found Severus and Roger Davies sitting and talking. He looked at the clock above the fireplace and saw that it was nearly three in the morning.

“Harry,” Roger said as he stood up to shake Harry’s hand. “I come with news from France. It seems that the Prime Minister has some dire news that he did not trust in a letter at all. He told Fleur to get it to you as quick as she could. She’s at my house now. I thought it better for me to come to the castle.”

“What news?”

“Fudge has figured out that Sirius and Remus are not in France. He doesn’t know if Fudge knows where exactly they are but he is looking for them hard in England and her surrounding areas.”

“It’s best to keep there where they are,” Severus said coming up beside Harry. Harry nodded.

“I had a vision. I think that with the stress of exams and everything, Voldemort was able to get into my mind. I’m sorry.” Harry looked at Severus with pleading eyes.

“You are not at fault. You’ve been under enormous stress. What was the vision?”

“Sirius in the Hall of Prophecy and in some room with an arch. He fell through and Voldemort used the killing curse on him. He told me to come to him to save him. There is no way that Voldemort has Sirius and we not know it.”

Severus walked across the room and crouched at the fire. He grabbed some powder and flung it in. “Grimmauld Place.” Severus waited while the face of Kreacher appeared. “Kreacher, I need either Remus or Sirius.”

“Masters are busy.”

“They are both there?”

“Yes, ward on their France house was tripped. They are warding this place more. Kreacher’s job are is watch floo. You need them?”

“Yes.”

Kreacher nodded and said nothing, his face disappeared from the fire and Severus turned to look at Harry. Harry sighed in relief. Sirius was safe. That meant that Voldemort was springing a trap.

“He wants the prophecy.”

“Prophecy?” Roger asked. Harry had forgotten about him. Harry looked at him with a sharp eye. Before Harry could say anything, Severus cried out and pulled Harry behind him, covering him with the cloak at the same time. Seconds later, the door burst open with a cloud of smoke. Harry drew his wand, ready for whatever was there.

Not knowing what to expect, Harry stepped from behind Severus, not wanting to be in the way. When Draco stepped through the smoke, waving it away from his face, Harry nearly cried out in relief. “That was harder than I expected.”

“Draco Malfoy! What is the meaning of this?” Severus demanded, taking a step towards the young man but stopping when he saw who was behind him. Crowded in the hallway behind was the rest of Harry’s inner circle. Ron, Hermione, Luna, Neville, Fred, George, Blaise, and Pansy were there with their own wands in their hands.

“I saw Harry run at full tilt to your room. I was afraid that you would leave me behind. I found the Gryffindors running the halls looking for him on the map and I sent Pansy to go get Luna while we all met up. We thought it best to storm the castle as it were instead of wait.”

“Always impetuous.” Severus’s voice was hard but Draco didn’t react. He just looked around the room.

“Where is my boyfriend?”

“Here.” Harry pulled the cloak off his head. Draco smiled at him.

“What is going on?” Draco asked, stepping farther in the room so that they others could crowd in. Blaise was the last in and he shut the door, throwing up a few wards on it. Severus reinforced it as well.

“We have a conundrum. The Dark Lord is trying to make Harry believe that he has his godfather in his grasp but we know that he is not. There is something going down but do we react to it?”

“Severus,” Remus’s voice said from the fire. Everyone turned to see both Remus and Sirius’s faces in the fire. “What is going on?”

“The Dark Lord wants Harry to think that he has Sirius in the Ministry and is threatening to kill him. Given that he is there in front of me…”

“Kreacher let us know that Bellatrix had contacted him. To say that Sirius was gone. We were preparing for an assault on the house here.”

“Yes, the French Minister let us know that you were no longer believed to be in France. He knew that you would know the ward was tripped at the house.”

“What do we need to do?”

“Prepare to come to the school. We can meet and discuss what to do.”

The heads disappeared and the fire turned back to its normal red orange glow. Severus turned back to others.

“Voldemort has to know that I would be sure that he is not there. If he is really there, what does he need me for? The prophecy can be got by both of us. It’s his weapon. He thinks he can take me down by hearing all of it.”

“Yes,” Severus stated simply.

“I can’t not go. But knowing that it’s a trap is the first step in evading it.” Draco snorted behind him but Harry paid him no mind. “I will go if you help me or not, father.”

“I know.” Severus moved to his desk and transfigured an eleven stranded rope. He picked it up and handed it to Harry. “This will activate in two minutes. Once you get there it will break apart. Each of you will have a strand. Place it in a pocket where you won’t lose it or touch it accidentally. Touching it again will send you to the infirmary here at the school. I trust you are all ready for this?”

Harry nodded and everyone including Roger stepped up and grabbed a strand of the rope. The time passed slow but soon enough, the pull at his naval started and Harry was being taken to the Ministry of Magic.

xXxXxXx

Severus watched as the kids left. Dumbledore had let it slip years before that they were was ten foot square area of the Ministry of Magic that one was able to portkey into if one knew about it. It was on the same floor as the Department of Mysteries and right where Harry and his friends needed to go. Severus quickly gathered some potions into his robe and then left his rooms. Remus and Sirius would be arriving as soon as possible. Dumbledore would hate that he had sent the kids but Harry would have gone no matter what. There were ways that Harry could have gone on his own, Thestrals among them. They would have been safe enough but given Umbridge, she could have attacked them trying to leave. At least the kids had a way away to safety.

This war that was coming was coming for Harry. He would have loved to keep Harry on the sidelines but Harry’s personality would not let that happen. He had perfected how to aim Harry where he could do the most damage. He trusted the young man he had raised.

Dumbledore was waiting at the entrance into the castle. Sirius and Remus were walking up the path. If Dumbledore didn’t know about the kids’ departure from the school, he would as soon as they got near the Department of Mysteries.

“What is going on?”

“The Dark Lord has moved up his time table. He fears someone in his group is a spy. He attacks the Ministry tonight. Harry and his friends are there now.”

“How did they get there?”

“Portkey.” Severus looked Dumbledore in the eye as he spoke. Dumbledore’s face fell a little but it came right back up.

“We must hurry. The Order must be assembled. Sirius, Remus. I trust that you can do that?”

The two men nodded and immediately turned away and raced back down the lawn. Dumbledore turned to Severus, who held up his hand to stop him from talking.

“I’ll be along. I have some potions to assemble. It could be life or death.”

Dumbledore raced down the hall to the inner area of the castle. To probably gather some allies. Severus watched him before he moved back to his rooms. He had something that he had to do. Moving to a window that faced the Forbidden Forest and sent an illusion spell that showed Harry, Ron, and Hermione moving towards the Forest. He waited for Delores to leave her room. She had some way of spying on people and he was right. She headed right towards the Forest. Snape waited several minutes and then followed her. It was his only chance. He waited until he felt the wards on the grounds change, to signal that Dumbledore had left and then entered the Forest. It wasn’t that hard to track her. Staying nearly twenty feet away from her smiled when she crossed paths with centaurs. He listened as she spouted her views on beings like them. He waited hoping that they would take care of her for him. He disillusioned himself and waited as she tried to talk her way out of where she was.

It was nearly ten minutes when they finally left her, alone in the middle of the Forest and scared out of her life. When he entered the clearing where she was, she nearly screamed out and tried to run in fear.

“Severus, thank god. Those beasts….”

“They are not beasts. They are noble, wonderful beings and how you treat them is how they treat you. Too bad that they didn’t finish you off. It’s the difference between them and you. You would gladly see them dead. They left you alive.”

Delores tried to stutter out something.

“I think that you will find yourself never leaving this forest.”

“Are you going to leave me here?” Delores asked. Severus didn’t answer her at all. He stepped closer to her and drew his wand out.

“If I wasn’t pressed for time, I would torture you like you deserve.”

“You are supposed to be good.”

“You are a poison and you can’t be left to spread it all over the entire Ministry. I am stopping a worse future by doing what other can’t or won’t. I am not as light as Dumbledore thinks. I will do what I think is necessary to protect my son.”

“Son? You have a child?”

“I’ve been blessed with the ability to raise a couple’s child when they are not able to. I will protect Harry Potter with my life.”

“You are…no.”

“Yes. You tortured him and my godson, Draco and for that, you will die.”

Severus pocketed his wand and just started into her eyes as he cast the spell, wandlessly and wordlessly. No one would be able to track the spell to him. It would be chalked up to either the Centaurs or a Death Eater trying to get into the castle. He turned as she fell. He hated doing it but Harry was a little safer now. That was all that mattered.

Chapter Seventy Seven-Fight
Harry landed on feet in a place inside the Ministry that if it wasn’t for his dreams, he wouldn’t have ever known where he was. The others were right behind him; Draco took a space right to his left while he pocketed the strand of rope. Harry stuck his own in his back pocket. He looked at the others with him. Fred, George, and Roger were at the back of the groups, protecting the rear. As he pulled his hand out of his pocket, a Patronus appeared in front of him, it was a doe. In its mouth as a small note. Harry pulled it from it and read it. Orange Sparks. That was all it read. Harry knew Severus’s writing.

“Where are we going?” Hermione asked, as she started to look around.

“Voldemort wants us in the Room of Prophecy.” Harry started in that direction, placing his cloak in his pocket where it would be safe. At that moment, it was the only thing in the pocket.

The trip took longer than Harry would have liked but Hermione was being too vigilant and spending too much time checking for traps. Voldemort didn’t want Harry stopped from getting to the Room of Prophecy. This entire venture rested on him getting there.

Finally, Harry was standing there, at the spot he had seen just the once. He looked around and saw the black shapes starting to appear at the edge of the combined light from all of the wands. Harry grabbed the glass ball down and waited.

“Very good, Potter. Now turn around, nice and slow. Give it to me!” Lucius drawled from behind them. Harry heard the swish of clothes as the others spun around. “Draco?”

“Hello, father. I don’t think that Harry will be giving you anything at all. Where is Sirius?”

The Death Eaters all started to laugh. Harry wouldn’t let the laugh do what they wanted it to do.

“You cost me my wife and child, Potter. For that you must pay and you will pay in blood.” Lucius’s voice was tinged in ice but it was no worse than Harry had ever heard. He wasn’t scared. There was very little that Lucius would actually do to him. He would maim but not do it in a way that it would be permanent. He had to maintain cover. Severus was there somewhere. He had to be.

“You are the reason we left, Father. It was never Potter.” Draco’s voice was strong and sure. It helped Harry calm down.

“I hear rumors that you and he are in a relationship. I demand that you stop it, Draco.”

“Mother has no issues with it and I care not what you think.” Draco stared his father down. “Where is Sirius?”

Where is Sirius?” a woman mimicked as she stepped up to be visible. Harry knew that voice. Bellatrix Lestrange. Draco shifted closer to Harry, touching his wand arm with his own empty hand. Draco shoved it to the side. That was the way that the needed to go.

“Such a young man, trying to be an adult. It’s time you learned the difference between reality and dreams, Potter,” he drawled. He looked over at Bellatrix and smiled. She started laughing.

“I actually think that I have, Malfoy.” Harry raised his wand and sent bright orange sparks into the air. Who appeared around Harry were the least people that the Death Eaters were expecting. Sirius Black, Nymphadora Tonks, Remus Lupin, Arthur, Bill, and Charlie Weasley. Each Death Eater’s eyes widen in shock before they held their wands in a fighting pose. Harry, Draco, Ron, Hermione, Neville, Luna, Roger, Blaise, Pansy, Fred and George all stepped closer to the adults. Behind them appeared Alastor Moody and Kingsley Shacklebolt to support the rear of the group. Many of them were people that Harry wouldn’t trust under normal circumstances. He looked around hooded men, looking for a sign of which one was Severus. “With me!”

Draco was the first to start running. Harry was the last to go; he wanted to protect the rear.

Protego!” Harry yelled as they got near the door. He stopped and looked behind before he spun around. There was three Death Eaters running at him and the group. A hand clasped his shoulder and he was pulled into the circular room and the door was shut. Hermione was standing by a door with it open and the others were passing through it. Draco pulled him along.

“We need to get where they can’t get behind us. Hermione found a room. Hurry!”

Harry took off at a run as he heard the door open. He hoped that when their door shut, the room would spin. Harry stood staring at the door for seconds after it was shut, he was waiting. Draco pulled him back away from the door. Harry spun and his blood ran cold. There in the center of the room was a giant arch. The same arch from the dream. He could hear the sound of voices now that he wasn’t focused on the door.

It wasn’t until Draco screamed that Harry turned. Bellatrix, Dolohov, Avery, Mulciber, and Lucius were standing there. The ten of them formed a semi-circle with Harry and Draco at the center. Lucius was at the front. His wand was leveled at his son. Harry’s eye was drawn to movement behind the Death Eaters. Sirius, Remus, and Dumbledore entered the room. Lucius spun around as if knowing that they were there. Bellatrix advanced on them though and Harry pulled Draco behind him.

“You can’t protect my nephew forever, Potter. I will have his blood.”

“I’d like to see you try.” Harry launched a nonverbal stunner at her. He wanted her taken and wanted to see the soul sucked from her. He wanted to see her fear as her life as she knew it was sucked from her. More Death Eaters flooded into the room and Harry’s group separated. Harry and Draco were the only ones who stayed with each other. There were ten Death Eaters that Harry knew of and now there were eight of them in the room. They were outnumbered but given that they were trying to kill and the others were trying to subdue, they still had the upper hand.

Dolohov dropped as a combined stunner from Harry and Draco dropped him. Draco moved forward to bind him up as Harry looked around. He spotted all the others except Sirius. Dread filled Harry’s heart as he turned to the arch.

Harry watched as Sirius fell back into the Veil. He raced forward trying to stop it but a hand reached out and grabbed him. Harry didn’t know who it was but they were stopping him from getting to Sirius. He couldn’t remember who was closest to him. It was an adult he knew that, their size told him that.

“I killed Sirius Black!” Bellatrix yelled from very far away, at least that is the way that it sounded to Harry. Harry whipped around the arms that held him and looked at her. She was taking off out of the room as quick as she could. The person who was holding Harry was not ready for him to take off in that direction and Harry escaped. Harry heard the yell over his shoulder. From where he had just been.

“He’s going after her,” the voice drawled. Harry didn’t even think about whom that voice belonged to until he got out of the room. Lucius had just given himself up. He had stopped Harry from killing himself to go after Sirius. Under any other circumstance, he would have cared about the fact that Lucius had given himself up. All he wanted was to get to her.

“Harry!” Severus called from the door of the room but Harry was already gone. He thought for a second that he hoped that no one had heard Severus say his name. He stopped only long enough to pour out enough magic to feel the way that she went. The door blew open and he was after her again. The lifts were the slowest. Harry had to wait for one to come down to him but when he reached the top he barely waited for the doors to open fully. There she stood waiting for him near the main exit. There was no running for either of them now. She looked ready for a fight and he was ready to give her one. His days of hiding were gone. He didn’t care about anything but killing her.

Crucio!” Harry yelled pointing his wand at her. The spell barely took her off her feet. She laughed when she stood up. His mind was ready. He needed to clear it.

“You have to mean them, Baby Potter. Righteous anger won’t last long. You have to want to inflict the pain. You have to want it with all you have.” Bellatrix waved her wand and Harry was thrown to the ground. He picked himself up as he cast a spell at her. He watched as he leg split open. He didn’t give her a chance to Portkey away.

“How about this?” Harry asked he looked at her cast his empty hand out as he said two words. “Avada Kedavra!”

Bellatrix’s eyes grew wide as a green jet shot at her and sound of something came rushing at her. Harry watched as she fell down and he looked around. There was someone else in the room. His magic was yelling that at him.

“I think that I have underestimated you, Potter,” a high, cold voice said from behind Harry. He turned quickly to look Voldemort. He raised his wand into the ready position, killing her had been too quick. He had expected a better fight. Behind Voldemort were several of the light wizards. Before the fight could happen the Floos started activating. Standing there was Fudge, looking at the body of Bellatrix in horror and then he looked up at Voldemort before Voldemort Disapparated. The Aurors that had appeared around Fudge all converged on him to protect him.

“Dumbledore?” Fudge’s whisper carried through the quiet room. Fudge was staring at Bellatrix’s body. Harry felt numb all over. He’d killed. Fudge threw off the hands of the Aurors and stepped closer to Dumbledore.

“There are several Death Eaters in the Department of Mysteries. If you Aurors would retrieve them.”

Fudge turned to look at Dumbledore and then at Harry. “Seize them!” Fudge’s voice carried around the room and Harry heard it echo through several of the halls. Harry had been relaxed but he quickly moved back to his fighting stance. Before any of the Aurors could step to him, Harry felt two hands on his shoulder. He turned slightly, keeping the Aurors in sight and found Severus on his left. He was sure that it was Lucius on his right.

“We are not your enemy,” Lucius stated with a clear voice. Harry saw that neither of them had a wand in hand.

“Seize that boy, the two Death Eaters, and Dumbledore!”

“You will not touch this boy!” Severus nearly yelled. The Aurors stopped in their tracks.

“Potter, you can step away from them. They won’t be able to take you to their master,” Fudge’s voice was soft in a way that Harry had heard adults down to small children. The sound of running feet had everyone’s eyes turned to where the noise was coming from. Harry quickly used the distraction to cast a small lumos and then nox spell with his wand. “Stop where you are!”

Draco stopped in his tracks at the Minister’s words. Draco looked at his father who nodded and Draco moved to them. Harry held out his hand and Draco tucked himself into Harry’s side. Harry transferred his wand to the hand Draco was holding. He stuck his now free hand into his pocket and wrapped his hand around the cloak in it.

“What is going on?” Fudge said looking from the foursome to Dumbledore.

Chapter Seventy Eight-Facing the Truth
When neither group started to speak, Fudge took a few steps closer and stopped, he was closer to Dumbledore than Harry and his group but he wasn’t that far away. “What is going on?”

“That is something best discussed in a smaller setting, Minister,” Lucius spoke as he squeezed Harry’s shoulder. Harry tensed. Severus was shifting his wand to the hand that was behind Harry. Draco stepped away from Harry just enough so that Severus could cast between them. “It’s best for all to do it.”

Fudge looked at Lucius, his gaze landed on where Lucius hand was on Harry’s shoulder and then down to Harry and Draco’s linked hands. Harry got to see Fudge’s eyes widen even farther when he took in Severus’s hand on his shoulder. “Yes, why don’t we. Shacklebolt, why don’t you escort all five of them to my office while I over see this for a few minutes.”

Shacklebolt nodded and waited while Harry led his small group into the lifts and Dumbledore filed behind them. Shacklebolt led them to an office. Severus conjured chairs for the boys while he and Lucius stood behind the chairs. Shacklebolt and Dumbledore sat in the other two chairs in the room. Harry felt Severus try to check his mind but he kept his shields up. Draco hadn’t dropped his hand yet. It was his only lifeline. He could barely process the past few hours.

Finally, nearly twenty minutes later, the door opened and Fudge entered with Madame Bones. She immediately sat on the edge of Fudge’s desk while he sat down, heavily, in his own chair behind the desk.

“What happened?”

“The Death Eaters tried to gain control of a Prophecy made about Harry Potter and Voldemort.”

Fudge flinched at the name but he didn’t say anything. Dumbledore paused and Harry looked at him. He was looking at Severus. He then looked at Harry.

“Severus came to me with news that a raid was going to happen tonight that the Death Eaters were going to attack the Ministry. They had hoped to be able to take the Prophecy from the room, even though it was not about them.”

“How did you come across this information?”

“I’ve been a spy for Dumbledore in the ranks of the Dark Lord.”

“Albus…see here…that…” Fudge stopped and looked back at Severus. “Why?”

“Why?” Severus asked Harry heard the crinkle of his robes as he shifted.

“Why would you risk that?”

Severus’s hand touched the back of Harry’s neck. Harry closed his eyes and relaxed. Draco’s hand shifted to where he was touching the top of Harry’s hand instead of the palm. Harry kept his eyes closed.

“You will find that there are things that have been kept from you, up until now…you need not know them but given that the Dark Lord now knows what is going on…we can no longer hide.”

“Hide?” Fudge repeated.

“I was raised by Severus Snape.” Harry stated opening his eyes and looking at Fudge. “He had his reasons and they are his own but he came to my Aunt and Uncle’s house and saved me when one of the Death Eaters set fire to their house to kill me. He’s kept me safe since then.”

“Albus…” Shacklebolt’s voice was strained but Harry didn’t look at him. He couldn’t handle much without snapping.

“How did the Lestrange woman die?” Fudge asked.

“I watched as the Dark Lord killed her for trying to kill Potter.” Lucius’s voice was calm but Harry heard the lie in it. He knew, did Severus?

“Why were Potter and his friends, why were they here?”

“That I am unaware of. I was informed of their departure from the school and came after them with help. That is when I sent the message to you.” Dumbledore shifted in his seat, propping one of his legs on the other. Harry watched him from the corner of his eye. “What are you going to do about the return of Voldemort?”

“We will discuss that later,” Fudge looked at Severus and Lucius as he spoke. “First we need to discuss Potter’s security.”

“Potter’s security is taken care of,” Lucius stated as he stared down the Minister. Draco snickered. “The only person gunning for Potter will be the Dark Lord. The rest of the Death Eaters will be going after Severus and me. We have protections in place for us. Having others around will disrupt those. You don’t want Potter becoming vulnerable just because of your inept Aurors do you?”

“See here, Malfoy. I will throw you in Azkaban.”

“And I would break him out,” Harry stated. He stood up and moved to the edge of the desk so he could Fudge in the eye. Fudge stood up and Harry just smirked. “I can fight this war on two sides instead of just one. We should be united against Voldemort instead of split. How this war goes is up to you, Minister. I’ve had a horrible day, I watched my godfather die I would like to go back to the school.”

Harry turned to look at Severus, who just nodded and held out his arm, Harry walked over to link their arms as Draco and Lucius did the same. Seconds later, Harry was back in Severus’s rooms at the school. He quickly dropped Severus’s arm and tried to get away but Draco grabbed him and held on.

“How many were lost?” Harry asked. He was sure that Severus would know what he meant.

“Only Davies. Blaise and Pansy were stunned and one of the Lestrange brothers stepped up to kill them. Roger stepped in and stopped him but the other brother killed him with a Killing Curse.” Draco pulled Harry close and held him.

“Draco step away from him for a few minutes, I need to check him over.” Harry could hear it in Severus’s voice. Harry knew that he knew.

“Why?”

“Draco.” Lucius’s voice was soft but firm. Draco stepped away and Harry felt the magic brush over him.

“What is he doing?”

Harry closed his eyes. He didn’t want to look at Draco as he was told. Lucius and Severus would not keep it from him. He wanted to be the one.

“Voldemort didn’t kill Bellatrix.”

“Avada Kedavra killed her, Harry but she would have died from you first spell. You sliced her artery on her leg. She was seconds from bleeding out,” Severus’s voice was soft as Harry felt the magic leave him. “You are safe. There is no taint, no more than what the Horcrux is doing. I think that if there had been a taint, the Horcrux grabbed it.”

The second that Severus stepped back from Harry, Draco as at his side again. Harry let himself fall into his boyfriend’s embrace and he closed his eyes. He hadn’t been worried about a taint. He hadn’t cared about that. He had only cared about losing Draco because of it. He knew that he shouldn’t have worried about that. Draco would have stuck by him for doing just about anything.

“What should we do?”

“Let them rest. I’ll let them take my bed. We have a lot of work to do. I’ll call the professors to meet. Will you stay with them?”

“Yes. Don’t worry.”

Draco helped Harry stand up and led him to the bedroom. Harry quickly lay down, only kicking off his shoes as a last thought. He was so tired. As his eyes closed and he let his mind wander, he thought about what he had stopped himself of thinking of. Sirius.

XxXxXxX

Severus looked around those gathered. Albus was not present. He had already left the school to go to the Ministry to meet with Fudge. Minerva was presiding over the meeting. He could feel all eyes on him. Albus had alerted all the professors as to who exactly he was and what he had been doing over the years. Filius was on his left while Minerva was on his right.

Lucius was down in the dungeon watching over the boys.

“Minerva, what is up?” Poppy asked.

“He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named made a move tonight at the Ministry,” Severus said as he looked around the table. “There is also…Sirius Black and Bellatrix Lestrange are dead. Lestrange killed Black and then the Dark Lord killed her.”

“Lucius Malfoy is in Severus’s rooms watching over Harry Potter. He will be staying here at the castle until the end of term.”

“Why?” Filius asked.

“Both he and Severus have betrayed You-Know-Who.”

“The Dark Lord will not stand for losing neither the Malfoy money nor my potions. He will be gunning for us but if we are here where Dumbledore is, we can protect the school more. The Dark Lord will not come here. It’s the only safe place.”

“Any professor who wishes to stay here at the school over the summer may. There will also be a provision for those students who are most vulnerable to stay as well. I have discussed this with the Headmaster and the Governors, they all agree. We will be shoring up the castle as much as possible. Malfoy and Severus will be helping with that.”

“What about Potter?” Poppy asked.

“He has alternate plans for the summer, as do Malfoy and I. We will not be discussing those plans. Where we had been staying is no longer safe, given that Sirius Black is dead. We do not know where the deeds are going. Since Narcissa married Lucius, we don’t know if the ownership would revert to Bellatrix or not. Since she died, it could to her husband.”

“Would it not go to Remus Lupin?” Yolanda asked. Severus turned to her.

“We are unsure. Still, Bellatrix could have told him about the place. Even those places could be found. Where we are going is safer than anywhere except the school.”

“What are the plans for the rest of the year?” Filius asked.

“We will go as normal. There is not many days left. The Headmaster will be making an announcement at breakfast, before classes. We will weather this storm.”

“Yes,” All the professors chorused. Severus nodded as he stood up. Harry would be waking soon. He still had someone to get fetch. Harry needed him but there was on person that Harry needed at the moment.

XxXxXxX

Harry opened his eyes and saw someone sitting on the bed beside him. He quickly tried to turn and reach for his wand under his pillow but found it wasn’t there. Shoving his feet out, he tried to knock the person from the bed.

“Harry, it’s me.” Remus’s voice came through and Harry stopped. He reached out to try and find his glasses. His hand was grabbed and they were shoved into his hand. He put them on and saw Remus and Severus standing at the side of the bed. Draco was sitting beside him in the bed.

Launching himself at Remus, he let himself find comfort in the older man’s arms. Remus’s body started to shake and Harry felt tears fall on his neck. He could feel his own tears track down his face. It was the first time he had cried for his godfather.

“I’m sorry,” Harry cried.

“Shush, you didn’t do it. We went in and the trap was sprung anyway. We tried so hard. Your price in this war has been too high. I am so sorry that I couldn’t protect you more. You have a few more days of school and Severus has a new place to go. Molly, Arthur, and Tonks are cleaning out Grimmauld Place.”

“Where are we going?” Harry asked, never un-tucking his head from Remus’s neck.

“Devon,” Severus said from just a few feet away. “Classes start in an hour. The Headmaster has asked you go to them but he is not making you. I have breakfast for the both of you in the other room. Dobby has retrieved clothing for you both. I suggest a shower first. We will worry about the future later.”

Harry pulled back to look at Severus. He could see sadness there in his eyes. Harry nodded and started to stand up. Draco was at his side as soon as he stepped away from the bed. Draco linked his hand with his own before they stepped out into the other room. Harry ate quickly before he went to shower. He would be quick, Severus only had one shower and Draco needed to shower.

He wanted the school year to be over. He had planning to do.

Chapter Seventy Nine-Moving Day
Harry turned to look back at the school. He wouldn’t be back for several months. The rest of the students were already at the train boarding it but Harry and his friends that were going to Grimmauld Place had stayed behind. They were going straight there. They were going to spend the next few days packing up Grimmauld Place to move to the house in Devon. He wanted to go and live there like he and Severus had planned, up until just a few days before.

When Sirius died, all will for him to see his parents died as well. He didn’t want to tell his parents that Sirius was dead. He didn’t want Sirius to be dead. If he had just stayed at Hogwarts, nothing would have happened. Severus had told him that the world wouldn’t have known been made fully away of Voldemort being back either.

xXxXxXx

Harry hated being around Remus, who was a seething ball of anger. Harry had hoped briefly that Remus would be mad at him. No, Remus was mad at the world. Harry punished himself by being around Remus as much as the adult would let him.

Today, Remus was packing up his bedroom. It was their last day at Grimmauld Place. That night, everyone would be going to Devon. Severus had already picked out rooms for everyone. The master bedroom had been the one that Harry had picked out for Sirius and Remus. Harry didn’t figure that Remus would want to stay there alone now. There were plenty of other rooms for Remus to pick to stay in.

The house was huge. Before the Department of Mysteries, Harry wanted to spend the summer with Draco, Ron, and Hermione looking over the entire house and then the grounds. There were over fifty bedrooms in the house. Not to mention all of the other rooms. A library in each wing and a single ballroom. The house was magnificent.

“Harry, Severus wants you and I to go to the house first. Once I finish in here,” Remus said as he waved his hand to encompass the room. Everything was in boxes. There were only the clothes left. Even Sirius’ things were being packed up.”

“You are nearly done.”

“Yes, I told him I would be ready in the hour. Your room has been taken care of. Severus has already packed you a bag. It’s just an overnight one. He talked to Molly and Arthur a little bit ago. Everyone else is going to head over in the morning.”

“Except for Draco,” Severus said as he entered the room. Draco was behind him with two bags in his hand. Harry recognized one as his own. Draco raised them up with a smile. Harry smiled back at him. “I want Draco to go as well.”

“Why are we going early and alone?”

“It will just be the four of us.” Severus moved to the side of the room where Remus was. They started speaking in hushed tones. Harry moved over to where Draco was and took his bag from him. A few more minutes of speaking and then Severus left the room. Harry nodded at Draco to leave and he did, shutting the door behind him. Remus looked at harry with a shocked looked on his face.

“Harry?”

“I know that you weren’t there for the end. When Voldemort came into the Ministry and I doubt that Severus told you anything.” Harry closed his eyes. He hadn’t felt sorry for what he did and he didn’t feel sorry now. He would never feel sorry for taking Bellatrix’s life. Severus had taught him how to kill to protect himself. Leaving Bellatrix alive was not something he could have done. If she would kill her own blood, she would kill anyone. Harry only needed to remember what she had done to Neville’s parents.

“Sit down,” Remus said as he sat on the bed and patted the spot beside him. Harry sat down as Remus asked but he shrugged off the hand that landed on his shoulder. Harry knew that Remus had to be worried about him.

“I killed her,” Harry blurted out. He had been holding that inside for days.

“Harry, it wasn’t your fault that your mother died,” Remus said not understanding what Harry was saying.

Harry sighed and turned to Remus. “No. That is Voldemort’s fault. No. She had to die for what she had done to people for so many years. Closure that was never going to happen for as long as she was alive.”

“Bellatrix?” Remus questioned. He gasped when Harry nodded. Remus moved around to crouch in front of Harry. He made Harry look at him. “How?”

“The Killing Curse. No one heard or saw me except for Voldemort. I would do it again.” Harry kept his eyes locked with Remus’s. He wanted Remus to know what he truly felt. He had felt sick for a little while after it had sunk in on what he had done. He hoped he would always feel sick about killing anyone but this was a war, whether the paper or the ministry called it that. Harry had to look out for himself and those he called family. Losing Sirius had crushed him. It had crushed Remus too. He could see that. “I won’t ever be sorry for killing her.”

“I know and I don’t want you to be ever sorry for that. Please tell me it wasn’t done with malice.”

Harry knew where Remus was going. Severus had gone there as well. “No. Severus doesn’t think that a Horcrux was created.”

Severus entered the room without even knocking. He handed Harry a piece of paper. “Dumbledore had Fawkes bring this.”

Harry looked at it and read the Headmaster’s handwriting.

Dear Harry,

I have received word from the Ministry that you and Remus Lupin were left everything of Sirius’s. He made a change to his will just days before. There is no reason given. Grimmauld Place was left to you. You will have to ask Lupin why he was not left it. I hope that your move to your new place is done with little issues.

                                                                                                         Dumbledore

Harry looked up at Remus.

“Sirius wanted you to have this place because I do not want it. I know the things that happened to him here as a child. It will always be a place you can go to. When the ownership of the house changed magically, the Fidelius Charm breaks. We have not been safe here for days but given that Bellatrix was killed as well…we wanted to see what was going on. Whether anyone would show up.” Remus looked at Severus for a few seconds before continuing. “There are Portkeys all over the place. The adults know where there are as well as the House Elves.”

“What is going to happen to Kreacher?” Harry asked.

“That is up to you.”

“I have too many House Elves. I think that you would do well with a House Elf, Remus. Zook and Dobby are enough for me.”

Remus nodded.

“Are we ready to go?” Severus asked as he motioned for Draco to enter where he had stayed in the hall. Draco entered and stepped up to Severus. Remus took Harry’s hand. Harry readied himself for Apparition. The feeling came and Harry closed his eyes. He hated the feeling of Apparition but he was getting more and more used to it. Severus hadn’t used it as a mode of travel when he was younger. He was worried about Harry getting used to and not being able to hide a reaction to it when he started school.

Arriving at the house, Remus whistled when they got their feet under them. He forgot for a few seconds that Remus had never seen the property before. Harry gave him a few seconds before he stepped through the wards. Remus stepped through cautiously. Harry was sure that he and Severus had been added to the wards. After Harry had opened the house, his parents had told him that anyone allowed in the wards was allowed though. Since Harry had brought Severus through the wards, he had been added instantly.

“Time is of the essence,” Severus said as he followed Remus through. Harry held his hand out and Draco took a hold of it and they walked through.

“This is a wonderful house, Harry,” Draco whispered as they walked towards the house, never dropping each other’s hands. Harry smiled at him.

“The last thing that my parents created for a life where we were all going to be happy together.” Harry put his hand on the door of the house before he moved it to the knob and opened the door. He pulled Draco to the front hall where his father’s portrait was waiting for them.

“Draco Malfoy, it is an honor to meet my son’s boyfriend.”

“Lord Potter,” Draco said as he bowed.

“Wasn’t what I told him,” a voice rang up from the top of the stairs. Harry looked up sharply expecting to see a portrait of Sirius waiting there. “I used barely veiled threats.”

“I knew that you couldn’t do it right. Trust a Gryffindor to cock it all up,” Severus said stepping from behind the two teens. Harry turned to look at Remus. Remus was staring at the stairs as well. Where the full body sight of Sirius Black was standing. He was dressed in a pair of tan slacks and dark colored sweater. He started down the stairs, taking one step at a time. Remus started forward and stopped when he got just a few steps past Harry. “It was supposed to be done with tact, something that Black lacks, even to this day.”

“You knew!” Harry grabbed Severus’s arm at the same time he dropped Draco’s hand. He spun Severus around to face him. “You knew he was alive?”

“From the second that Bellatrix entered the room, it was a trick. A visual trick that we employed to save his life. Bellatrix wanted to kill him to get her hands on the black fortune, never knowing that it would all go to Harry and Remus.”

Harry dropped Severus’s arm and stormed from the room. Draco followed him. Harry almost told him to go as well but he didn’t want to be alone and being with Draco was the best thing at the moment for him.

Harry went straight to what he had picked out as his bedroom. It was near the master bedroom that Remus and Sirius would be taking it seemed. If Remus forgave Sirius enough.

“Harry, I don’t even know what to do for you,” Draco said as soon as he shut and locked the door. Draco cast a few charms and wards on the door. He could feel the wards of the house pressing on him as he did but the wards didn’t stop his.

Harry waved his hand at the wall and the switch flicked the light off that had turned on as soon as he entered the room. Draco moved towards to the bed where Harry laid down on top of the covers. Draco lay down with him, holding him close. Harry wasn’t crying. He was just shocked. A few minutes later, a knock came at the door. Harry cast a wordless, wandless silencing charm on the door. No one tried to get through the door.

Harry rolled over in the bed and cupped Draco’s face, pulling him in for a kiss. Draco snaked his hands around Harry’s chest, pulling him even closer. Harry rolled to where he was on top of Draco, settled between the blonde’s legs. Draco thrust upward. Harry smiled in the dark.

xXxXxXx

“So you did this to protect Harry and yourself?” Remus asked as he stared at his husband on the foot of the stairs.

“Bellatrix was gunning for me. Fudge wanted me and you under his control. The best thing was to fake my death. I can give Harry more support hidden than I can out in the spot light where I can be used against him.”

“I overheard Bellatrix’s plan to kill him at the last meeting before the attack on the Ministry. I went to him. I warned him and this plan was formed. He wanted to keep everyone in the dark to keep the reaction real. If Harry and you hadn’t been distraught about his death, someone would question it. You not leaving the house now would be easily covered by the mourning you are doing for your husband.”

Remus looked from Severus to his husband for a few seconds before he stepped up to Sirius. He leaned forward and kissed him on the mouth before pulling back and slapping him as hard has he could.

He was sure, as he walked away, that there would be a hand sized red mark on his husband’s cheek for a while.

xXxXxXx

Draco rolled over in bed, letting his hand rest on Harry’s bare stomach. Harry moved his hand to rest over it as well. Draco scooted closer to share the little bit of warmth they could under the sheet. Draco knew that at some point his parents were going to arrive in a few hours and he was worried about that but by then both of them would be cleaned up and dressed.

“I have to face him at some point. I have to go and look him in the eye and be happy that he lived. I have to tell him what I did to avenge him.”

“You did more than avenge him. Do you know what she would have done to every person on our side that she came across?” Draco shifted to prop himself up to look Harry in the eyes. There was a little bit of light coming through the window where the curtains were pulled. Harry nodded and turned to face Draco. He smiled and caressed Draco’s face. Just as Draco was about to talk again, Harry sat up fully. He looked around and quickly grabbed his wand. He cast offhanded cleaning charms at himself and then at Draco, dressing as he did. Draco moved to sit on the end of the bed. He watched as Harry tried to make his hair flatten on his head. “What’s wrong?”

“A group of people just crossed the wards. Get dressed. Something is wrong.”

Draco watched Harry flee the room quickly as he himself started to get dressed. His own clothes took longer to put on because they were a better fit for him than Harry’s clothes were. Harry cared not for the clothes that Draco liked to wear, at least not for himself. Draco knew that Harry liked him in the clothes. When he was sure that he was presentable enough, he left the room as well. He entered the receiving room off the side of the front hall. There was chaos all around. There were bags, boxes, and all manner of things lying around. Everyone from Grimmauld Place was there, except his mother. He was sure that she was getting the last of their things from the manor. His mother and father were going to arrive in the morning when the manor was locked up tight. Draco knew that he was unlikely to see it again before the end of the war.

“Grimmauld Place has been revealed. I don’t know who did it. I don’t know how. I saw at least three Death Eaters in the crowd of reporters and looky loo’s outside,” Arthur Weasley spoke where his family was standing. Hermione and her parents were there as well. Draco hadn’t known that they had even been invited to Grimmauld Place. Draco looked and saw Harry standing with Severus but Lupin was nowhere to be seen.

“We had to move up the moving, I am sorry,” Molly spoke.

“It’s fine!” Sirius called from where he entered the room. Draco watched Severus put his head in his hand. Everyone looked at the man who was supposed to be dead in shock. This was going to be a long night.

Chapter Eighty-Removed from Office
Severus looked over the group of Governors. All of the staff of Hogwarts except for the House Elves was piled into the Great Hall. Instead of being at the Head Table, they were all gathered at the Ravenclaw table. Albus was seated on the same side of the table as the twelve Governors. Minerva and himself were seated in the middle of the professors with Filius and Pomona were on either side of them.

“We are here to discuss a few things that have come to our attention,” Serena Commons said. She had been voted to the lead of the Governors for the school term. Severus had been happy about that. It would serve the school well to have her calm head in charge. She turned to look at him. “We have been informed that you have been keeping secrets from the Headmaster and the entire school, including ourselves.”

“I can explain,” Severus said, leaning forward. Serena raised her hand to stop his speech.

“I am sure that we can figure out your reasons. That being said, Lucius has explained to us all what has really been happening at the school over the past five years. We are not happy about any of it. For a Professor to be instilled in the school that had the essence of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named inside of him.”

“Please,” Albus said, raising his hand. Serena gave him a stern look and he sat back in his chair and closed his mouth.

“I hear that the only thing that stopped him was the thinking and near death of an eleven year old boy. Professor Snape’s watching of the teacher in question stopped him from getting to the artifact he wanted for his master. Is this true Headmaster?” Serena leaned forward to look at him. Albus nodded his head and when she sat back, he kept his mouth closed.

“The boy in question was placed in a home that he was not supposed to go to where he was kept as no better than slave. He was kept in a cupboard under stairs and had no proper care at all. He had no guard.”

“He was left there alone where a Death Eater was able to find him and set fire to the house.” Lucius’s voice was stone cold.

Albus cleared his throat. None of the Governors paid any attention to him. Severus wondered what had really happened to cause this. The Governors had for the most part, looked at Albus like the sun shined out of his ass.

Severus had spent the past few days telling Lucius everything that Harry had told him about his childhood and every single thing the boy had gone through at the school. He hadn’t thought that Lucius would tell the Governors. He must have a plan. There was something that Lucius was gunning for. Severus just wasn’t sure what it was. He hoped that he would be able to figure it out soon.

“The boy hated his home life; he hated it so much that for a brief moment in time, he didn’t consider it home. That allowed the Death Eater to find him. It also allowed Severus Snape to find him,” Lucius paused in his speaking and looked at Albus before looking back at Severus. “Snape was unable to save the family that slept in the upper floor but he was able to save the child that was in the cupboard under the stairs. He let the world believe the child was dead.”

“Why?” Serena asked. She looked at Severus and nodded for him to speak.

“I knew that whoever had placed the child there thought he was doing him a favor. He would grow up no knowing of his status as the Boy Who Lived. He would grow up a normal childhood. He would also grow up with no knowledge of the Wizarding World. He would be grateful to the world that would save him from his relatives. He would be the perfect sacrifice to end the war with the Dark Lord.”

“Sacrifice?” another Governor asked. Severus didn’t see who he was nor really cared. He kept his eyes locked with Lucius’s. He had to control his anger. It would not do to lose it around the Governors.

“When the Dark Lord went to Godric’s Hollow he meant to create another Horcrux. When the night was done, Harry Potter had been turned into a living Horcrux for the Dark Lord.”

“I see,” Serena said. She made a few notes on the paper in front of her. The room was silent. The rest of the staff of the castle was quiet as well. The knowledge of the events was shocking he was sure.

“Then there is the teacher Gilderoy Lockhart. He nearly obviated two students and luckily he was unable to harm them and only harmed himself. Another student came under the spell of a notebook. She nearly killed herself and due to our own blindness we helped in that.”

“Third year had a felon escaping from Azkaban,” Lucius started. He looked briefly at Albus before he turned back to look at Severus. “He gained entry to the school and while he was innocent of all wrong doing, he showed a glaring error in the way the school was run. It allowed a man who had betrayed nearly his closest friends to live at the school not just once but twice. He slept beside Harry Potter for two years and would have gladly killed him had he found out earlier that his master was back.”

“Then there is last year,” Serena spat as she looked at Albus.

Severus got it in that instant. Lucius was riling up the board to remove Albus from the position of Headmaster and place someone else in there. Severus listened with a half ear as Serena and Lucius talked about the cock up that was the Triwizard Tournament. From there they moved to the recent past year. Lucius was playing with fire that could burn him bad. The Governors could vote in a Headmaster that wasn’t at the school at the present. Severus would rather deal with the devil he knew than the devil he didn’t. Harry was still his first thought. He couldn’t imagine anyone who had a child and didn’t love them. The Dursley’s were going to always be a conundrum to him.

“Headmaster, Professor McGonagall, please stay. Everyone else. This was mainly for you all to hear what we were talking about.”

“Even us Heads of House need to leave?” Filius asked. Serena nodded and the small man nodded back at her. Severus was the last to get up and leave. He understood why Minerva had been the one allowed to stay. She was the natural choice to take the position.

xXxXxXx

Lucius looked at McGonagall as she shifted around to put her back slightly to Dumbledore as he moved to the side opposite the Governors. He was sure that Dumbledore could hopefully see the writing on the wall. His eyes no longer held the twinkle that they used to. McGonagall sat up straight as a rod in her chair.

Serena cleared her throat and the other Governors stopped the small conversations they had started up when the others had left the room.

“We voted on this before we ever entered this room today. While you have been an admirable Headmaster over the years, Albus. We feel you are no longer fit to take of the school. We feel that You-Know-Who no longer fears you as he did. Look what he has been able to get accomplished while you were here, at this school. We feel it is time for a change of Headmaster. You have until noon tomorrow to clear all of your things from the school. You are more than welcome to back as a teacher, if the new Headmaster or Headmistress will allow it.”

Dumbledore nodded as he stood up. He said nothing as he left the room. McGonagall turned back to face the Governors full on.

“I assume you want my ideas for a new Headmaster or Mistress?” McGonagall pulled a quill from her robes and then parchment.

“Actually,” Serena hesitantly said, “We were hoping to offer it to you.”

“I admire that but There was many who, when finding out the whole truth, will not like me taking over. I have been one of Albus’s staunchest supporters for years. You need someone new, preferably young.”

“Young?” Lucius asked.

“This is a young person’s war. While there are many who were around for the first war, it was the youngest, the fresh from school that were the most influential in that war. Their generation will be the best for the Headmaster or Mistress. They know the sacrifices needed to make this war happen. We need a wartime leader to run this school. When the war is over, we can go to someone like me.”

“You sound like you have an idea.” Serena put down her own quill and gave McGonagall her full attention.

“I do. We are facing a war where we know not who to trust. Who to turn to for help. Darkness will rule the coming years and only someone who understands the dark can truly help us.”

Lucius knew that there were two who fit that bill. He himself wanted no part of running the school. He needed to be freer than that but the other…

“You are speaking of Professor Snape?” Lucius asked.

“Severus loves Harry Potter as if the boy was his own child. He left the ranks of Voldemort’s Death Eaters when the woman he cared for was aimed for. He even tried to do the right thing but it backfired on him. As long as Harry Potter is alive, you can guarantee that he will live to protect him. If young Potter were to die, I don’t know what he would do. He may very well take on Voldemort on his own.”

“What of his prejudice to the other Houses?” Serena asked.

“I think that the past year has proved that he can put those aside. We all play parts in this school. I don’t think that you will be disappointed in choosing him.”

“I think that coming from you would be better,” Lucius spoke with a laugh. McGonagall laughed and nodded.

“Then we have our decision,” Serena spoke as she stood up. “Please notify the other staff.

xXxXxXx

Severus was inside of the Headmaster’s office. Albus had cleared out in just under an hour and Minerva had called for them all to meet there. All of the staff was early. Minerva was the only one missing. A House Elf had made sure that all of them had tea and snacks. Severus himself had a cup of strong black tea and he had been surprised when he had taken a sip to find a splash of Firewhiskey in it.

The Daily Prophet was being passed around the room. There was a giant headline about Fudge being booted from office and Kingsley Shacklebolt being put in as an interim until someone could be elected. The election was to take place a month from then.

Minerva finally entered just a minute before the time they were supposed to meet. The papers were put away and all of them looked at her.

“Was a decision made?” Poppy asked.

“The Governors have made a decision about who they want to take Albus’s place,” Minerva said to the group. The office looked blank as Minerva looked around it.

“Of course, it is you?” Filius asked looking around the room for agreement from the others.

“They wanted me but I turned them down. I am happy where I am. I suggested someone younger. They were skeptical but with what is going to be going on, I think that I have made the right choice and they agree.” Minerva took the Sorting Hat off of the shelf that it sat on. “We have dark times coming and only someone who has touched the dark and left it for good can lead us well.”

“No.”

“You are the best choice.”

“No, I am not.”

“Yes, Severus. You are.”

Minerva set the Hat down in his open hands. Severus looked down at it. This was going to change things. He wasn’t sure about any of it but the fact that he was going to be Headmaster was really going to change things. Harry would be at the same time safer while still not nearly as safe. He was going to be more in the spotlight which suited him just fine. He was ready to un-cast his lot with the Dark Lord. Lucius was already out.

Harry’s last two years at Hogwarts were going to be trying, he knew that but he hadn’t thought they were going to be that bad. This was going to make his summer very busy. He had two teachers to replace and a new Head of Slytherin to find. First, he had to break the news to Harry.
To Be Continued in Book Six

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