Harry was staring at the snakes in the zoo. It was Dudley's birthday, his 7th, and Dudley demanded a trip to the zoo. Ms. Figg wasn't available to babysit so Harry got dragged along. He had originally planned to use the day to escape his relatives' house. ~How am I going to get away now?~
The snake slithered closer to the glass pane. ~You make glass disappear and I will help.~
Harry looked around. No one was in the reptile house but him. He looked at the snake. ~You understand me?~
~Of course. You are speaking snake language.~
~I am? How? What do you mean make the glass disappear?~
The snake moved its head so that it was now eye level. ~Magic. Focus on all of the glass, make it all disappear. We wait until humans run around screaming, make our escape then.~
~We help.~ Numerous other voices added.
~I want to bite that one that throws things at us.~
~Me too.~ Was voiced by numerous snakes.
~If you see a huge whale of a man, he is my uncle so bit him too.~ Harry placed his hands on the glass. ~What do I do?~
~Focus on making all the glass disappear, banish it someplace, like your uncle's house.~ The snake instructed.
Harry followed the snake's instructions and he could hear them hissing their encouragement. Soon all the snakes and other reptiles were hissing in pleasure as they made their escape. The snake, who he first spoke too, stayed with him. ~Come, we leave now.~
Harry followed the large, green and black snake out of the reptile house. They made their way around different enclosures. People were screaming and running as the zookeepers were running toward the reptile house. ~What is your name?~ Harry asked the snake once they were out of the zoo.
~Nagini. Now, pick me up. I'm going to show you a place in my mind. Focus on that, focus very hard on it, picturing us there. Your magic will do the rest.~
~Is it safe?~
Nagini paused for a few seconds. ~No, I think it is better if you picked me up, and we take the bus.~ Nagini instructed Harry how to get to Slytherin Castle.
Harry officially dubbed the bus as the bus ride from Hell. The bus driver wasn't going to let them on until Nagini threatened the man by snapping her fangs at him. The rest of the passengers moved far away from him. Nagini, at first, suffered from a bit of motion sickness but once she was able to look outside she recovered. She gave Harry the basics of what being a wizard means. She also said they needed to find someone who would be able to teach him. She ran down the list of people who she thought was good. They didn't make a decision as the bus driver was now screaming at them about their hissing. Nagini bit the bus driver, no poison was used because the driver was threatening to call the police on them and she is a boa constrictor. ~Nagini, now he will.~
~He has a reason, now.~ Nagini smacked the bus driver with her tail as he was whimpering on the floor. The passengers escaped out the back door.
~How far away are we?~
Nagini looked around. ~Not sure. You might be able to call an elf here.~
~Why didn't we do that sooner?~
Nagini looked sheepish for a few seconds. ~I forgot about them.~
Harry looked down at the bus driver. Nagini slithered over to the man. ~What do we do?~
~Move away from him. When we in a clear area we call elf and go home.~
The following weeks were spent with the elf getting Harry new clothes. Nagini and the house elves teaching Harry wandless and parsel magic. One of the elves found a wand for Harry to use. It wasn't a great match but it worked. Nagini and Harry also discussed who would be better to assist them. They were trying to decide between Severus Snape and Lucius Malfoy. Nagini knew both men didn't care for James Potter but she remembered how much Severus loved Lily. ~So Snape?~
~Both.~ Nagini decided.
Harry wasn't sure. ~You think they will return me to my relatives?~
~No, but we will have the elves hide and if we think they will be trouble we will have the elves handle getting rid of their memories.~
~They can do that?~ Harry realized it's magic so of course it could be done.
~Yes, all the time.~ Nagini circled in front of the fireplace. ~Since no school, both of them will be available.~
~Send an elf?~
~Yes, summon one. Tell them to make sure they are alone and then bring them here.~
Harry was sitting in the deep red leather high back chair with Nagini curled at his feet when Severus Snape and Lucius Malfoy were dumped by Tilly the house-elf in front of them. They were sitting in what Nagini called the little study. Both men took one look at Nagini who hissed at them as she knocked them to their knees when they tried to get up. They looked up at the boy sitting there. "Potter?" Severus was a bit confused. He was going to kill the brat.
Dumbledore had been secretly looking for the brat for over almost a month. His relatives were under investigation for child abuse and neglect and were currently residing in Azkaban. Dumbledore had already been brought before the Wizengamot to explain what happened. The Ministry didn't want to panic anyone and kept it hushed up. Which in reality meant everyone knew about it. ~He knows me?~
~I am wondering how also. Change of plans. We can't pretend you my Tommy. Try the honest route but you are in charge. Don't let them think otherwise. Remember all we practiced.~ Nagini and Harry didn't miss the spark of fear that showed up in in the two men before them.
"I am Harry Potter. I had you brought here for a few reasons. I need you, Lucius-"
"It's Lord Malfoy to you, boy." Lucius started to stand up. This was Potter and he wasn't about to take orders from a child.
Harry didn't hesitate. He sent a stinging hex to Lucius as Nagini used her tail to send Lucius crashing to the floor. "Consider it a warning." He watched Lucius get slowly back up while Severus had stiffened. They were a bit confused by what just happened. It wasn't what expected. "Lucius, as I was saying, I need to go to Gringotts and get my status established. Severus, I want you to write up a lesson schedule. Covering everything from math to potions."
"Yes, my Lord." They responded.
"Don't call me that. I'm just Harry Potter. So call me Harry, just remember I am in charge." Harry warned them. Nagini also hissed out her own warning by showing them her fangs. ~We don't need them petrified.~
~Better scare them now than have an issue later.~ Nagini curled back down by Harry's feet.
"You will also be taking a Vow. It will include not revealing, in any form, where I am residing, that you have had any form of contact with me, and it will include any future contact. You will not disclose anything we discuss or what you have seen." Severus was a bit impressed. It was a solid Vow. Many missed key aspects in Vows. "It will be bound to your marks."
Severus and Lucius paled. They understood what that meant. Since Harry was a Parseltongue, he would be able to find out from their marks if they even hinted at what they learned. It would also enable Harry to punish them if it was bound to their marks.
"Lucius, you first." Harry held out his hand. Lucius unrolled his sleeve. Harry laid his hand over the mark. ~Is he loyal? Can he assist me?~
~You aren't the original speaker but you are connected to him.~
~Yes, Nagini said the same thing. Tell me about this one.~
"Very loyal, little master. Sneaky, good at politics, good at creating back up plans, hates any change, hates muggles, and really protective of his family.~ The snake was slithering around Lucius' arm. ~He wanted to get custody of you. You are related.~
"You tried to gain custody of me?"
"Yes, Harry. Your grandmother was Dorea Black. My wife, Narcissa, was her niece." Lucius kept his eyes on Nagini. He didn't want the snake to think he was going to disrespect the boy or her. He was a bit surprised that the boy could learn that information from his mark. He didn't like that information.
"Good. Now your Vow."
"I, Lucius Xavier Malfoy, vow that I will not reveal, in any form where Harry James Potter is residing. I will not reveal that I have had any form of contact with Harry James Potter including any future contact. I will not disclose anything discussed or what I have seen when I meet with Harry James Potter. I will keep all his secrets unless otherwise released from this vow." Magic swirled around them and the snake settled back into the mark giving it now a greenish tint.
Harry released Lucius and held out his hand to Severus who had already rolled up his sleeve. Harry put his hand over the snake and flinched. ~He has other bindings.~
~He does? Ask him, if unsatisfied, I will eat him.~
"You have other bindings. What are they? Remember I can ask the snake."
"I am a spy so my mark isn't the same as the other Death Eaters. The Dark Lord is aware of this."
~No, he lies. He has one to protect you but he doesn't want to say. He also has one to reveal the meetings to Dumbledore. He doesn't fully reveal only what was needed and the one time to save your mother. Dumbledore added two he doesn't know about. One is for him to be loyal to Dumbledore, another is for him to demean non-snake children to keep the snake separated from the rest of houses.~
Harry arched a brow. "I should punish you for lying but there are three binds. One, you are aware of and I won't share that. The other two Dumbledore put on you without your knowledge."
"He did what?" Severus growled but hissing from Nagini reminded him of where he was.
"One is to make you loyal to him, the other to demean children in the other houses to keep the houses separated." Harry tilted his head. "I can remove the two if you wish. The other is up to you."
"Remove the two. May we speak about the first one, privately?"
Harry started hissing. Severus felt like his arm was on fire as the two binds were removed. He was sweating and tired from the pain and the force of magic that he was feeling. When it was over he felt a fresh wave of magic, his pain went away and he felt like he just had a pepper-up potion. ~Tell me about him.~
~True snake. Hides a lot of what he truly feels. He loved your mother like a sister. When he hates someone he hates them, same with love. There is no middle ground. He is strong, creative, a true Slytherin.~
"We can speak later. Your vow."
"I, Severus Sebastian Snape, vow that I will not reveal, in any form where Harry James Potter is residing. I will not reveal that I have had any form of contact with Harry James Potter, including any future contact. I will not disclose anything discussed or what I have seen when I meet with Harry James Potter. I will keep all his secrets unless otherwise released from this vow." Severus didn't feel any pain as the magic washed over his mark, it also had the same tint of green in his mark that Lucius had in his.
"There is a lot to do in the next few years. I am aware of how behind I am in my magical education and training. I wish the two of you to assist me in improving. I know you have other duties but this is also vital. I need to go to Gringotts. When can we handle that?" Harry indicated the couch behind them. "Sit. No more kneeling. No my Lord or Sir. I do expect respect. I will also treat you with respect."
"I can take you tomorrow afternoon." Lucius was now seated on the couch next to Severus. He wasn't really sure what to make of Harry Potter. He certainly wasn't acting as he expected and certainly wasn't crazy like the Dark Lord was toward the end.
"Good, Severus do you wish to join us?"
"I believe it would be advisable."
"Lucius, thank you for your time. I will expect you here tomorrow around 1?" Dismissing Lucius. Harry was thankful for Nagini's lessons as he didn't believe Lucius or Severus would have been helpful without her training.
"Yes, Harry. May I apparate into here?"
"Yes, just touch your mark with your wand and think of Slytherin Castle."
Nothing was spoken until Lucius was gone. Severus was a bit nervous, not that he would admit it. The boy was like a sane Dark Lord. He was a Slytherin but also he felt the boy wasn't like his father. Potter, Sr., would have kept them on their knees and would have used a spell stronger than a stinging hex. Potter, Sr., also would have enjoyed humiliating them. "The protection Vow and Dumbledore adding those binds. Is there a reason?"
"I made the Vow when your mother was alive. She asked me to protect you. I didn't make the Vow for several days. I agreed a few days before their deaths. As for the binds, I am not sure what Dumbledore's game is. He has been looking for you for a while. He was summoned to explain your placement with your relatives. They are currently in Azkaban for child abuse and neglect."
"How did he find out I was gone?"
"Your Aunt tried to hide it but the disappearing glass at the zoo made the Muggle papers along with all the snakes. The newspapers had some muggles quoting how your uncle was acting and how your cousin was pushing you around. How your cousin was beating on the glass, shortly before the snakes were released. They believe your cousin caused the release by weakening the glass. Your relatives almost got arrested for the destruction of the zoo. Mrs. Figg, an Order member, who lives near your relatives, sent a message to Dumbledore about them not returning from the zoo with you. Dumbledore has been trying to locate you since that day."
"Interesting. Who placed me there?"
"Dumbledore. I am not sure why. As Lucius explained, you do have magical family members who would have taken you in. However, they are all against Dumbledore."
"Explain to me what happened that night."
Severus swallowed. He began to explain about hearing the prophecy, what lead up to it. "Wait, you said Dumbledore and the Dark Lord fought before the prophecy was heard and how the man became fixated on it."
"Yes, we were all a bit concerned as he seemed to be going out of his mind."
~What he is saying is true. I told you he wasn't normal before he attacked you. That old fool might have added a compulsion spell.~
"Nagini thought Tom might have been under compulsion or something from Dumbledore. She said ever since that duel that he wasn't the same."
"Do you have a pensive?"
"It's a magical device that we can review selected memories in. I am going to pull my memory of the duel and see if we can figure it out." Severus never reviewed the battles of others in his mind. He reviewed his own as a way to improve his own skills.
~Look in the hidden room.~
"Give me a second." Harry got up and exited the room. He headed toward the Dark Lord's office, opened the hidden room and found what he assumed was the pensive device Severus mentioned. "Tilly?"
"I need this in the sitting room. Severus needs to review a memory, is it possible to move?"
"Yes, Master Harry. Tilly can do. It will be there by the time you arrive back."
"Thank you, Tilly."
Harry and Severus were in Diagon Alley. There were people in brown trench coat fighting people in black robes and white masks. Witches and Wizards were dodging and running around the streets, hiding behind whatever they could find until they could escape. Severus looked around. "We need to head toward Ollivanders."
"Lead the way."
Severus guided Harry to where they found the Dark Lord and Dumbledore engaging in their duel. Spells were being cast in every direction from Death Eaters and Aurors. "Is that all you got, old man?"
"Tom, you are making a mistake."
"No, I am trying to stop you." A red spell shot out of his wand.
"Stunner." Severus could see himself facing Dumbledore closer to the intersection of Knockturn and Diagon Alley.
Dumbledore shielded himself from the spell. They continued watching as Severus explained what the name of each spell was. Suddenly a yellow spell shot out after a blue spell. "Those are two compulsion spells." Severus classified each spell. The yellow compulsions were used by mind healers while blue was usually used to prevent the recipient of compulsion from realizing it if they were to review their own memories.
_____________out of the memory______________
"So he was hit." Harry watched the spells land on the Dark Lord. The Dark Lord was already trying to block three spells from different Aurors as well as Dumbledore. The Dark Lord paused for a second then apparated out.
"Severus, what do you think he did to him?" Harry asked once they were out of the memory.
"He made him crazy. Dumbledore was losing up to that point. It makes me wonder about the prophecy too."
"Can we find out about the prophecy?"
"Yes, Lucius can assist with that aspect. Tomorrow after Gringotts, we might have time to visit the Ministry. Dumbledore has been telling people you look exactly like your father with Lily's eyes. I believe if we do a minor glamour no one will notice."
~If he hurt my Tommy, I get to eat him.~
~I am sure you won't be the only one with that view.~ Harry looked closely at Severus. "I know you hate my father. I can hear it in your voice and see it in your demeanor. Will you be able to see past that and aid me?"
Severus leaned back in his chair. He thought for a few minutes. "Yes, I do believe I will." He wanted to find out the truth. He was already angry at Dumbledore for the binds, for placing Lily's son with Petunia and now he wondered what else the man had done.
Lucius and Severus were inspecting Harry. "Mad-Eye shouldn't think he was under glamours." Lucius handed Harry a cloak. "It will help hide Nagini."
"Who is Mad-Eye?" Harry put on the cloak, covering Nagini.
"A crazy ex-Auror who works with Dumbledore. He is out looking for you along with a few others." Severus tried to adjust the cloak to cover Nagini. "Nagini is just too big." Severus had wondered how the boy was even able to carry the huge snake.
~Nagini, you want to stay here?~
Nagini peeked her head out from under the cloak. She looked at the two Death Eaters. ~I will stay but if anything happens to you, if I smell even a hint of blood, I will punish them.~
"She is going to stay but-" Harry looked at the hissing snake who was issuing dire warnings to the two Death Eaters and snapping her jaw as she did.
"I believe we understand, Harry. You don't need to translate." Severus had backed away from Nagini. He knew how deadly she was as did Lucius.
"We will make sure he is returned safely." Lucius informed the snake who slithered off of Harry.
"Leave the cloak on and use it to cover your head. No reason for them to wonder who you are since you are wearing the Malfoy crest on your cloak. They will think you are Draco." Severus adjusted the hood.
"I will apparate us to Diagon Alley. Severus will follow and meet us in Gringotts. We will be speaking to my account manager as I didn't want Dumbledore to be made aware of your arrival."
"What is apparate?"
"It's apparition and it's a form of magical transportation."
~It's what I said you do when you think of a spot and want to go there.~
"Nagini explained it but she didn't tell me what it was called. I didn't want to do it at first and she agreed so we called Tilly to get us after the bus."
"That was the correct thing to do." Severus was a bit relieved at that. After all, relying on a magical snake for transportation wasn't the best idea.
"Hold onto my arm." Lucius pulled Harry close when Harry grabbed his arm.
Lucius and Harry were waiting inside Gringotts when Severus arrived. "I do apologize for the delay. Lupin and Mad-Eye are patrolling outside and stopped me."
"How can they get away with that? They aren't Aurors. How do they get to patrol?" Harry had wondered about this Order.
"They aren't legally patrolling. They are more or less pretending to be shopping to see who is coming and going and determine if you are around." Lucius knew the next trip was going to be the bookstore as he didn't believe the Dark Lord's library would have much in the way of beginners' books.
"Are you ready?" A goblin appeared next to them.
"Yes. Sorry for the delay." Lucius was one of the purebloods who recognized that you should treat those who handled your money with respect.
"Hi, what is your name?" Harry held out his hand.
The goblin was a bit surprised but shook hands. "Griphook."
"They know who you are. It's goblin magic." Lucius informed Harry before Harry gave his name to Griphook. He quietly added, "I don't want anyone to overhear you saying your name."
Ironclaw was a bit surprised to see Harry Potter arrive with Lucius Malfoy and Severus Snape. He indicated for them to sit down. "How can I assist you today?"
"We need a complete review of Mr. Potter's accounts. We also require an Inheritance Test and a way to keep Mr. Potter away from Albus Dumbledore." Lucius knew to keep Harry away from Dumbledore was going to be key.
"I will need to get paperwork before I do that. I am going to suggest a complete medical exam before we do the Inheritance Test. I will also get to access the Potters' Wills."
"Why do I need a medical exam?"
"So we can have a record of no abuse while you have been in the custody of Lord Malfoy and Lord Prince."
"I prefer Professor Snape, most don't know I have taken the title." Severus didn't want Dumbledore to know he controlled those seats. Dumbledore believed that one of his cousins held the title.
"As you wish. Let's get started."
Harry didn't want to get a medical exam. Nagini wanted him to get one and knew she was going to ask if he received one. He didn't want to listen to her nag him so he went along with it. After his exam, he could tell that Severus wasn't very happy as he read the report. The healer gave Severus a set schedule for his new potion regime. The good news was that he would be growing a few inches. They were now sitting again in Ironclaw's office. Harry was looking down at a blank parchment sitting on Ironclaw's desk. "What do I do?"
"I'm going to need three drops of your blood. I will mix it with this potion and pour it onto the parchment to reveal what you are entitled to."
"Blood is magic right?"
"Yes, Harry. It is why Ironclaw said three drops, nothing will remain to be used afterward." Severus was a bit surprised but happy that Harry asked. It showed he was a snake and also had a brain, confirming, again, he wasn't like his father.
They watched the results appear.
Jaden Harrison James Sirius Potter Black
B- 0001 AM 1 August 1980
Father: James Charlus Potter
Father: Sirius Orion Black
Mother: Lillian Rose Potter nee Evans
Gryffindor (Lord at 16)
Potter (Lord at 16)
Black (Lord at 16)
"I believe I now know why Dumbledore removed Harry from our world even before Sirius was arrested."
"He had to know, Lucius. I can't see them not informing him."
"I agree. Now, about the date of birth."
"Let me pull his original birth certificate. As you know one is created by magic, the other is created by the healer who delivered the babies." Ironclaw left to go and pull the magical copy.
"I'm confused. What is the big deal about my birthday? I didn't even know it."
"Harry, everyone's believes your birthday is on the 31st of July. This means a great deal to our world. However, it also affects a specific problem concerning a certain prophecy." Lucius hoped Dumbledore didn't do what he was thinking. He glanced at Severus and knew he was thinking the same thing.
"The one we need to check on?"
"Yes, we will be doing it after we are finished here. I won't be able to go into the Ministry but I will remain outside." Severus had already explained what they learned and showed Lucius the memory. They agreed that Dumbledore was up to something.
Ironclaw returned and he was not happy with what he learned. "I found three birth certificates for Mr. Potter. Someone tried to hide the original magic one by creating another one. I have already removed the illegal magical birth certificate and will refile the correct one. I will make sure it's included in the daily filings on Friday night so by Monday there will be a massive amount of filings and no one will look through them."
"Good. The Potter vaults and Wills?"
"The vaults haven't had any withdrawals beyond a cloak being removed a month ago. Everything, including investments, has remained the same but that is due to Lord Potter, not James Potter. Lord Potter froze James out of accessing the family vaults after James gave a whole vault to Mr. Dumbledore. The account manager has followed the former Lord Potter's regulations in regards to the vaults. Since he died after James, his Will overrode James."
"Wait, he died afterward but he didn't get custody of Harry?" Severus was now wondering what was going on.
"No, he died later that week."
Lucius and Severus exchanged a quick glance and saw Ironclaw nodded his head slightly. They understood that Lord Potter didn't die from natural causes. "Since Harry is a Black, may Narcissa and I gain custody of Harry?"
"Yes, I feel that is why he was removed from our world, along with a few other reasons." The three adults looked a bit concerned but they knew Harry wasn't ready to hear the truth.
"You're telling me that Dumbledore arranged for a fake birth certificate, killed my grandfather, stashed me with my rotten relatives so that he could claim I was born to fulfill some fake prophecy?"
No one spoke for several seconds realizing that Harry was a bit more aware of the whole situation than they had expected. "I'm afraid so." Lucius made some mental adjustments regarding how to handle Harry and Dumbledore.
"He is also the one looking for me? He left me there for a reason. The reason is he wants to control me and my money, use me to fight someone he made crazy." Harry hated how his relatives had treated him and to know it could have been prevented made him furious.
"Yes, but I think it's a bit more too. He wants to remain in control. For the last fifty years, he has basically decided how the magical world works, which direction it is heading, even what magic we can use." Severus glanced at Lucius. They would need to make some plans and make sure to keep Harry safe.
"Bastard." Harry muttered.
"Language." Severus and Lucius rebuked at the same time.
"Like you weren't thinking it. How do we do this so that I remain with Lucius? While making sure Dumbledore can't try to remove me."
"Well, I believe a blood adoption would cover it. Create a cousin from France who needed a home."
"I don't speak French and I don't think I will acquire enough language skills to pull being from France."
"Magic." Severus gave him a smirk.
"Let's do it."
Lucius and Severus escorted Harry back to Slytherin Castle after a few stops around Diagon Alley. Mostly it was getting things that Harry would need. Lucius was getting ready to head back to his own home. "I will get you tonight. I don't want Draco to see you as Harry Potter. We will tell him tonight that we are going to retrieve an orphaned cousin who will be arriving from France." He wasn't worried about Narcissa. He was willing to be as soon as he said a family member needed a home she would agree.
"How will you explain Nagini?"
"She will be your pet snake. Draco isn't a Parseltongue and has never met Nagini. Lucius needs to head home and arrange everything. I am going to remain and we will create the ring and pack up anything you might want to take with you." Severus wasn't sure how much Harry would want to remove from Slytherin Castle but as the heir, Harry would have free access.
"Will this really change my looks?" Harry was a bit worried. He didn't want to have Dumbledore find him and return him to his relatives. He didn't want to also deal with any other issues that Dumbledore might create.
"Why don't you let Severus explain while I go and inform Narcissa. She is going to be ecstatic." Lucius thought he was making an understatement. Narcissa had wanted a lot of children. However, after a few miscarriages before and after Draco's birth, she mentally couldn't handle any more miscarriages.
"She is going to get a shock? I thought that only worked when you rubbed your socks across a rug?"
"It's ecstatic, not static." Lucius laughed.
Harry gave them a puzzled look. "Happy." Severus and Lucius answered at the same time. Severus was a bit surprised at how easy going Harry was. Granted he wasn't a lion or like Potter but the boy had experienced a lot of different things in his short life.
"Nagini, guess what?" Harry saw the snake slithering into the castle's foyer to greet them. He hugged the snake.
~What?~ Nagini laid her head on Harry's shoulder.
~I'm going to be adopted and we are going to live at Malfoy Manor.~ Harry wanted to dance. He had the best month of his life and now this. ~He has a son my age, too.~
Nagini looked at Lucius. ~He better make sure I have a warm place.~ Nagini didn't mind another child. She figured she had two already, her Tommy and Harry, what was one more. She would never admit how much she loved her human children.
"She said you better make sure she has a warm place." Harry beamed a smile at them.
"I believe that can be arranged. There are plenty of fireplaces and we have a sunroom that we can add a resting stone for her." Lucius set down the packages that he had been unshrinking. "I will have an elf get the packages later after I tell Narcissa. Be warned she will want to take you shopping for more clothes and books."
"Understatement." Severus muttered as Harry gave them another smile. "Lucius, I need to be back at Hogwarts for dinner but I will leave the potion on my desk in the lab. It won't take long to make and Harry can assist. I will be able to get away tomorrow and stay for a few days. I will tell him I am staying with you. He will ask a ton of noisy questions when I return but I can deal with him."
"Wonderful. I will have Narcissa make sure your room is ready. Draco will be thrilled to see you too."
"You cut it evenly for a better potion." Severus showed Harry how to cut the root. Severus showed him how important the different aspect of potions was as well as how to measure it to get it close.
"Not like cooking where you can toss in a pinch of salt but it's never the same amount twice?" Harry's relatives never seemed to mind how the food tasted if they even managed to taste it the way his uncle and cousin inhaled food. His aunt was just happy not to have to do anything.
"Exactly. Potions can be fixed if you know how but potions is an exact science. Too much of one thing can cause an explosion or melt a cauldron." Severus spent his time answering the numerous but good questions Harry asked him. He found Harry was very smart and learned quickly. He reminded him of Lily with his openness. He also knew that Harry could be tough. He already experienced that. He also had a feeling that Nagini would make sure no one would hurt Harry.
Severus started to make a mental list of things that Lucius and Severus would have to get Harry up to the same level as those of his age. Things that Dumbledore would notice if a pure-blood didn't do them. Draco wouldn't notice as he was too young but Dumbledore would be looking for things when the boys entered Hogwarts. Things Dumbledore would try to exploit as a way to convert a snake.
Narcissa was standing eagerly at the fireplace, waiting for Lucius to return with Harry Potter. She was so thankful that Nagini had found Harry. She didn't even want to think of what he might have been like had Dumbledore had his way. She had wanted custody of Harry when the Potters died but Dumbledore had stolen him away and refused to inform anyone where he lived. Lucius had been able to escape Azkaban and neither of them wanted Dumbledore to focus on them.
The floo flared to live and Lucius stepped out followed by a small boy who landed on the floor face first and a snake who wasn't happy about landing on the floor. Lucius picked Harry up as Severus' stepped out. "I believe we have to teach him how to floo."
"That is the worst." Harry looked down at Nagini who was now laughing at him. Nagini curled up by the fireplace. "She will want a fire."
"I would have thought you wouldn't like apparition. A fire will be started for her." Lucius chuckled. "Narcissa, I present Harry Potter. Harry, my lovely wife, Narcissa." Lucius escorted Narcissa to a Chesterfield.
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Harry." She cleaned Harry with her wand. "I have a room ready for you and Nagini. I believe she won't want to leave you." She sat down indicating for Harry to sit next to her. Narcissa had been very worried about Nagini but Lucius was able to calm her down by explaining how protective she was of Harry and would be of Draco.
~Yes, I sleep with my hatchling.~ Nagini curled by the fireplace as Lucius used his wand to start the fire before he took his chair. Severus went to his normal chair.
"She says she will sleep with me." Harry was a bit relieved that Severus had remained and traveled with him to Malfoy Manor.
"Do you have any questions you want to ask me?" Narcissa asked.
"Why don't you have a mark like them?" Harry was looking around the room as he asked the question. While it wasn't as grand as Slytherin Castle, it was still very grand. His relatives would do anything for a house like this. His aunt was very jealous and petty about anything she saw her neighbors brought into their houses.
"No, I support the Dark Lord but I wasn't marked. How did you know?" Narcissa had been informed by Lucius about Harry speaking to snakes and the Vow. Harry had allowed Lucius to inform her of everything that Lucius felt she needed to know.
"No hissing like I get from their snakes."
"Are the snakes always speaking?" Severus wasn't sure what to make of this information. He was wondering what else Harry was learning.
"No, but they do make comments. Lucius' likes to crack jokes while Severus' has a drier sense of humor. He also has a bit of a smart mouth."
"I see." Lucius wasn't sure what else the snakes were telling the boy but Harry didn't seem distressed by it. He saw Narcissa cover a smirk as only Severus, Draco, and she knew about his love of cracking jokes. Severus had his own dry sense of humor. Most wouldn't get Severus' sense of humor.
"When are we going to do the blood adoption?"
"At any time. The potion just needs to be given after Narcissa adds her three drops of blood. The ring is ready." Severus removed his potion pouch, pulled out the blood adoption potion and set it on the table to his left. He put the pouch away. He next held out the ring after he removed it from his robe inside pocket. "I made it to self-adjust." He laid the ring down on the table. "Narcissa, when you're ready."
"Any other questions?" Narcissa rose. She added her three drops of blood after a small knick she made with her wand.
"No, Nagini has told me about all of you. The snakes told me about them." Harry glanced at Narcissa. "You have questions?"
"No, I am just thankful you are away from those nasty relatives Dumbledore gave you too. I'm thankful that Nagini found you. I do expect some bumps in the road but I believe it will work out."
Harry knew things weren't going to be perfect but he wasn't going to be abused. His money was safe and Nagini would protect him as well as Lucius and Severus. He wasn't sure about Draco but Severus promised that Draco wouldn't beat him up. "Can I drink it now?"
"It's may and certainly. Lucius wouldn't tell me your new name."
"Well, we decided Darius Oberon Malfoy as the common name. Officially, it's a long name that I don't fully remember." Harry had enjoyed listening to Severus and Lucius explain about how different families had different traditions for naming their children. He found it very interesting.
"Darius Oberon Harrison Potter Black Malfoy." Lucius informed Narcissa. "He is heir Potter and Black." He wasn't going to mention the other titles or the fact that Harry would be Lord Black.
Harry took the potion. Narcissa held Harry as he went through the changes the Blood Adoption potion did. They watched for thirty minutes as the major changes appeared. They knew the minor changes would take about a week. Changes that unless you were looking closely would never be noticed. Harry grew a few inches, his hair now had blond streaks, his eyes turned a silvery green, his skin paled a bit, and his face took the shape of Lucius'. His frame started to take on Lucius' shape too. Those who didn't know them would assume that Harry had Lucius' frame but Narcissa's features. He was the exact opposite of Draco. While Draco looked like Lucius in features, his frame was like Narcissa's. "Are we sure we want to go with a cousin? He looks like he could be yours." Severus made Harry drink a pain potion.
"He does but I believe the blood adoption takes care of any questions." Narcissa smirked. "Now, let's get him to bed."
Nagini followed as Lucius carried his new son to his new room. Severus followed them and made sure Harry was going to be able to sleep through the night. He headed to his own bedroom after issuing his own goodnight. He would deal with Dumbledore in the morning. The old fool was going to throw a fit that he wasn't there for dinner but he had wanted to be with Harry for the adoption.
Severus arrived the following weekend. Dumbledore had been furious with his failure to attend the meal but since Dumbledore's focus was on finding Harry Potter. Severus escaped listening to the disappointed lecture from Dumbledore and stares all week long.
"Uncle Severus!" Draco ran down the long driveway to greet Severus. Draco felt at 7 he was a bit old to be picked up but not a hug. He wrapped his arms around his godfather's legs.
"Dragon, I would have thought you would be flying or riding." Severus looked around wondering where Harry was.
"I'm waiting for Darius to finish his riding lesson so we can fly."
"I take it you like having a new brother?" Severus was wearing black trousers, a crisp white silk shirt, a Slytherin green vest, with a black leather frock coat.
"Yes, but Mother keeps making me practice French now." Draco wasn't a fan of being in the school room if he could be outside.
"Draco, I believe your mother and brother are waiting for you out on the pitch. Remember to obey the rules." Lucius stepped around the corner of the Manor. He was wearing tan breeches, plain black calf without the normal brown tops, black hunt coat, a white shirt, with Tattersall vest, the Malfoy Crest stock pin, and tie.
"Hunting?" Severus knew that since it was the first Saturday of the month, Lucius had attended the monthly fox hunt that local area squire hosted.
"Yes, the man believes I should start hosting them next year as he wants to retire. He keeps insisting on using real foxes. I had to transform a rock into today's fox."
Draco giggled. "We named him Bandit. He ate all the food we feed him before Red dragged him off to go to their den." Red was the oldest fox they had on the property and Draco usually allowed Red into his room. Draco had adopted Red when Red first arrived three years ago.
Severus hid his smirk. The Malfoy Estate already had over thirty foxes due to Lucius keeping transforming items into foxes in order to keep the real foxes alive. When the population grew too big, Narcissa would have a cousin come and collect them for a preserve in France. "Off you go." Lucius ruffled Draco's hair. "Severus, I believe will be here for tea. Now, hurry before your mother decides you might need a lesson in keeping her waiting." Draco laughed but headed toward the pitch.
Severus and Lucius were sitting in Lucius' office. "If we take control of the Potter seats, Dumbledore might believe I have Harry Potter hiding somewhere." Lucius had been researching all the seat assignments all week. He didn't want to do anything that would alert Dumbledore that he had Harry Potter.
"He would. He would find ways to raid the manor and have all his little minions at the Ministry dig into every area of your life. Which might lead to the discovery of the fixed birth certificate." Severus never realized how controlling Dumbledore truly was until he started looking into Dumbledore's life and his policy making. Severus had spent a lot of time digging into the archives at Hogwarts.
"We wait until it would be time for Harry Potter to appear at Hogwarts before using the seats. We have Ironclaw get a death certificate issued, in a few months, perhaps one of the nameless muggle children gets a name."
"After a year or so, an heir becomes known, a rumor." Severus smirked. "He loves his rumors. The muggles?"
"He has been trying to get them released but no one is agreeing with him. He has even tried to get them released to a muggle prison. He spent an hour in Wizengamot explaining how they took a poor orphan in, how this news would encourage muggle-baiting. I believe he pushed it too far when it stated it would encourage muggle-baiting. He had some of the members up to that point."
"Is that why it hasn't made the news?"
"No, he got his group of idiots to believe that it would lower the morale of everyone. Claimed many would saying want to seek vengeance and feed the fury of muggles and muggle-born for killing their savior while encouraging the Dark Lord's supporters." Lucius was a bit surprised at how easy everyone believed Dumbledore.
"When the body is discovered-"
"I'm going to make sure the news of withholding the information will be released. Inform the grieving public that perhaps if they had known sooner, Mr. Potter might still be alive, after all the muggles are in Azkaban for child abuse, not murder."
"You will need to make sure Mad-Eye or someone doesn't arrange for some light following fool to cover it up." Severus knew Dumbledore had encouraged a lot of the lions to go into the Auror Department. He used them a lot during the last war and would when the Dark Lord returned. The Aurors were usually the first department called for anything in their world. Dumbledore relied on them informing him of everything.
"Dumbledore has no friends in the Unspeakable Department." Lucius thought of the few Death Eaters who worked in the Ministry. They would prove to be useful.
"Any idea how to locate the Dark Lord? Fix his sanity issue before he returns. I have been researching purging potions and rituals but all of them after designed for someone with a body." Severus had used potion work to keep himself away from Dumbledore as much as he could during the past week.
"I might. Something Bella mentioned combined with something I was entrusted with. I'm researching it but so far I have not had any luck." Lucius explained about the diary and the cup Bella has been entrusted with and what he was hoping they could use them for.
"Perhaps have Narcissa retrieve the cup from Bella's vault. It might give us answers."
"Darius mentioned hearing hissing when he was in my office but not from my mark earlier. So it might be prudent to retrieve the cup."
"Have you spoken to Nagini? That snake might know more than we think. She was with him every day."
"A conversation we will have to have tomorrow before you head back to Hogwarts."
"Horcruxes?" Severus looked at the book and cup.
"Yes, the book answered my questions and explained how to get his body back." Lucius handed Severus the books he had used to gather the rituals they would need. "It wouldn't explain what else was needed until you were here. It also spoke to Darius and Nagini."
Severus wasn't surprised by that. The Dark Lord was very paranoid about his protection. He knew the man would trust Nagini. "So we have to gather the others?" Severus read some of the highlighted portions of the books as Lucius wrote the question in the book. He didn't know a lot about soul magic but he didn't really want to know either.
No, you need to locate my wraith form. It's the oldest so I will be able to have all my memories and over fifty percent of my soul.
"Any idea where we can find your wraith form?" Lucius
Lucius went to the library to get a book of maps while Severus continued reading. He noticed the potions were simple to make for the ritual but some of the ingredients were a bit rare. He was making a list when Lucius returned with his atlas. "Lucius, I need to get some of the leaves, roots, bark, and fungi from the area where the Dark Lord is at. Also, I need to make a trip to Knockturn Alley, some of these ingredients are very rare."
"I already arranged to purchase them. Most are arriving over the course of the next week."
Severus continued making his list as Lucius located where the Dark Lord was. They had already discussed how to fix the man and the book agreed with them after they explained what they learned.
"Lucius, I do apologize for interrupting but I was wondering if you would be joining the boys and me for tea, you are, of course, invited Severus." Narcissa saw the map. "How soon? Darius and Nagini seem a bit anxious for our Lord to return." She read a bit of the written notes.
"End of the month when the moon is full." Severus showed her the ritual, pointing out the area that reflected the best time to do the complete ritual.
"Excellent news. I'm sure Darius and Nagini will be happy." Narcissa smiled. "Tea will be soon. Do not be too late." She turned and exited the room.
Lucius and Severus with Nagini port-keyed to the coordinates that the book Horcrux gave them. Nagini slithered around and started hissing, moving back and forth between where she wanted to them to go and where they were standing. "Let's go and find him." Severus had informed Dumbledore he needed some rare ingredients for a potion that Dumbledore was hoping would locate Harry Potter. Dumbledore was kind enough to arrange for the port-key to Albania for them. Severus already had the ingredients for Dumbledore's potion but what the man didn't know wouldn't hurt them.
"I can't believe you got that old fart to get the port-key." Lucius watched as Severus gathered ingredients as they followed Nagini.
"He is so desperate to find Harry. He was willing to do anything. I hinted that the potion was a bit dark and he held up his hand and asked what he needed to do." Severus had believed it would have been harder to get Dumbledore to agree but he forgot to factor in the desperation of Dumbledore.
They found what looked like a wraith. Nagini was hissing up a storm and they were a bit surprised when the wraith started hissing back. "My Lord?"
The wraith turned and they could see the clear features of the Dark Lord. "Severus, Lucius. Nagini has informed me what has happened. Including the compulsion spells by Dumbledore. She told me how she came to join you and your new son, Lucius. I trust you have been taking care of him?"
"Yes, my Lord. Nagini and Darius have been key in us finding you."
"I'm aware. Severus, she mentioned you have been gathering ingredients for the potion part of the ritual."
"Yes, my Lord. We will be able to do it on the next full moon."
"Good, I need something to possess in order to leave here." The Dark Lord knew there weren't many animals left in the area he had been forced to remain at.
"We have brought another snake, my Lord. We figured it would enable you to leave and still be able to converse with Nagini and Darius." Severus pulled out a pouch out of his robe. He opened the expandable pouch. "He isn't as big as Nagini but I needed some ingredients from him." Severus produced a plastic container with an albino python in it.
Nagini and the Dark Lord had a conversation with the python who seemed willing. "He agrees. I need you to let him out and step away."
Severus obeyed. Lucius and Severus moved several yards away. They watched as the Dark Lord entered the snake's body. It looked painless. "I will take Nagini, you take our Lord?"
"Yes, but after I finish gathering what I need. I just need a few more needles from a Silver Fir."
________________The next morning__________________________________________
~You're here.~ Darius started petting the Dark Lord's head. ~I'm Darius now, I was Harry. Did they tell you everything? How soon do you get your body? Nagini has told me so much about you.~
~Hatchling, let my Tommy settle before you ask your all your endless questions.~ Nagini slithered over to the stone in the sunroom. ~Come, Tommy, we chat on the stones.~
~Nagini, I can speak for myself. Now, Darius, it's a pleasure to meet you. Nagini has told me all about you.~ The Dark Lord has spent the night talking to Nagini about what had occurred during the last few years. He knew, however, if he wanted more answers, he would need to have Darius translate for him.
~She did? She is great, isn't she? She saved me from my nasty relatives, taught me how to get in touch with Severus and Lucius.~
~Hatchling, Tommy knows. I told him. Soon he will have his body back. Now, how about some rats?~
Darius laughed. ~You and rats.~
~She has never met a rat she didn't want to eat.~ The Dark Lord joined Nagini on his own rock and soon was answering all different kinds of questions about magic from Darius.
______________________Morning after the ritual____________________________________
Darius and Nagin were staring at the form on the bed. ~Is it him?~ It was early in the morning after the night of the ritual. The ritual was simple. At the height of the full moon, the Dark Lord left the snake. His wraith from settled in the middle of the runic pentagram. Severus and Lucius had three sage candles burning to keep the air cleansed as Severus used a golem that they had crafted to begin the ritual.
The potion that Severus created was poured over the golem as Lucius chanted the incantation. After several rounds, Narcissa began to coat the golem with summoning runes. As she was finished, Severus and Lucius joined her in chanting the summon portion of the ritual. The wraith form merged with the golem, taking on the looks of Tom Marvolo Riddle in his forties.
~Yes, it's my Tommy.~ Nagini slithered up and onto the bed.
~Nagini, you will wake him.~
~I'm already awake.~ The Dark Lord opened his eyes. The room was a bit dark so he knew it was early. The Dark Lord lift his head. "What you are two doing up?
~Oops.~ Darius joined Nagini on the bed. ~It really worked. We were worried. No one else is up yet.~ Darius yawned a bit and moved a bit closer to the Dark Lord. ~You know English, right? I can speak French if you wish."
"Yes, I do. I think English would be nice to hear."
~See told you. Tommy is very smart.~ Nagini curled up at the bottom of the bed. ~Now, we go back to sleep.~
Darius yawned again as he laid down on the bed. "Darius, go and sleep in your room. I'm fine." The Dark Lord knew that was wrong when Nagini raised her head but before she could hiss at him he continued "if you wish to sleep on the bed with us, come up here and get under the blankets.
The Dark Lord woke a few hours later. Darius was still sleeping as was Nagini. "Darius, time to get up."
~Let him sleep, he didn't get much last night. He was up all night worrying about you. That is why I brought him to you earlier so he would sleep.~
The Dark Lord hid his smirk. He knew Nagini had been worried too but she wasn't going to admit it. He climbed out of bed and began his day.
"We don't know where he is." Narcissa was frantic. "I checked everywhere."
The Dark Lord arrived downstairs to find Lucius and Narcissa speaking to Severus via the floo. "What is going on?"
"Darius is missing." Lucius was trying to think if they missed anything. "He wasn't in his room or Draco's. He wasn't in the library or potion lab."
"He is in my bed. He showed up early this morning with Nagini. Nagini said he hadn't slept since he was worried about the ritual. I left him sleeping in my room." The three adults let out a sigh of relief. Severus knew it wasn't just because they found Darius, it was also because they had a sane, rational Dark Lord back.
Darius was the Dark Lord and Severus' shadow. Nagini usually slept. If anyone wanted to find Darius they just had to find Severus or the Dark Lord. Draco usually only spent time with Severus when they had a potion lesson. It wasn't that he didn't like Severus but Draco preferred his friends and flying. Lucius and Narcissa were a bit surprised at how easy Draco and Darius got along but they quickly saw that while the boys loved attention from their parents, Darius was a bit on the quieter more studious side, Draco was very outgoing and enjoyed spending time with his friends.
Dumbledore, however, wasn't having it easy. He had lost his position as Chief Warlock and barely escaped being sent to Azkaban for the death of Harry Potter, failure for reporting Harry missing, and the Dursleys were in jail for murder now. Since Dumbledore actually didn't kill Harry but never checked on him, he was charged with negligence.
Lucius had tried to get him removed as the headmaster but he was placed on a warning notice when Lucius was able to provide the stats on how many abused adults had attended Hogwarts and had gone to the Headmaster for help. All of them were returned to their abusive homes. All of them citing that Dumbledore used the standard lines of I'm sure it's a slight misunderstanding, how much their families must love them, and to give their families the love they deserve, not the accusation of abuse.
Severus had enjoyed watching Dumbledore sweat the month out. Dumbledore had been shocked when a deceased Harry Potter was discovered. Dumbledore had all the Order members out looking for the missing Harry Potter. He knew that Dumbledore had been to the bank to see if he could learn anything but Ironclaw wouldn't release any information. Every time Severus was sent out on a lead, he apparated around to a few spots then headed to Malfoy Manor. Severus found himself enjoying having a sane Dark Lord around. The man didn't curse them. He actually had discussions with them and was teaching the boys some of the magic that Dumbledore had banned and he had learned during his travels.
They decided not to alert anyone that he was back. The Dark Lord was researching a new identity while getting his finances in order. The Dark Lord also found a way to keep the marks from changing to keep anyone from knowing. He had done the simple ritual with Darius since it required two parseltongue to speak the chant. The marks would remain as they were before the Dark Lord was returned to his body.
"Tom?" Darius peeked into the library.
"Darius?" The Dark Lord glanced at the clock. He knew that normally Darius and Draco would be in bed.
Darius entered the library. He had Nagini following him. "My head hurts."
"I'm sorry. I was reviewing some things." They had learned that because of the Horcrux in Darius, Darius could feel the extreme moods of the Dark Lord. The Dark Lord had just learned that Dumbledore had tried to claim the Slytherin title and he wasn't happy to learn about that. "Did you practice your mediation?"
"Yes, but you felt really angry."
"I was." The Dark Lord was a bit surprised at himself. He wasn't known for liking kids yet Darius and Draco had wormed their way into his heart. Darius had a knack for being able to bring him out of a bad mood. Draco and Darius could get him to actually play games with them. "Shouldn't you head back to bed now that you know I'm not upset any longer."
*We were sleeping.* Nagini lifted her head up. *We sleep with you.*
The Dark Lord was about to deny it when Darius snuggled into his side, yawned, and a blanket appeared. He knew he lost the battle, he looked at Nagini, she wasn't going anyplace. His snake was in her mother hen mode again and he was going to make sure her two favorites were together. *Pushy snake.*
Nagini snorted. *If I wasn't, you would still be in that forest.*
The Dark Lord wisely said nothing but made sure the blanket was tucked around Darius
The Dark Lord made his way down to the breakfast table, today the house seemed filled with mixed emotions. Excitement, happiness, eagerness with a mix of dread, a bit of unease, and doubt. Everyone was excited about the boys getting their Hogwarts letters. The years had flown by. The Dark Lord felt more like an older brother to the two boys, at times an uncle, but he certainly wasn't feared by the boys.
The dread and unease that came from the fact that Dumbledore was still at Hogwarts. He certainly wasn't Chief Warlock. Dumbledore had been removed from the ICW but nothing short of killing the man seemed to be able to get him out of the Headmaster position. They weren't worried about Dumbledore thinking Darius was Harry Potter because Darius and Draco had visited Severus over the years at Hogwarts. The man was always polite and gave his lemon drop kind old man act.
The Dark Lord, Severus, Lucius worked to keep Darius and Draco prepared for Hogwarts. If tested the boys most likely would be able to do the required fourth-year lessons combined with what Severus, Lucius, and the Dark Lord taught them that wasn't taught at Hogwarts. *They shouldn't go.* Nagini was a bit grumpy since she learned that the Hogwarts' letters were due to arrive.
*They need to go.* The Dark Lord looked down at his sulking familiar. *You also have two of your children going with them. Severus has four more at Hogwarts already. I believe they will be well protected by your children.*
Nagini seemed to think about that for a few seconds. *Why don't you come? Severus said opened position.*
The Dark Lord didn't reply as he entered the dining room. Darius was already down and waiting. The Dark Lord wasn't surprised as the boy seemed to take after him. Usually, they had breakfast together while everyone else would wake up and have breakfast about two hours later. "I would have thought Draco would have been awake by now."
"You are forgetting the effects that Draco's pillow seems to have."
"True. Is it just us?"
"Severus is here. He said something about talking to you and Father." Darius poured himself a glass of orange juice. "I think it has to do with the old idiot."
"Darius, you can't call him that at Hogwarts. Good morning, Tom." Severus took his seat. "However, you are correct it does." He poured himself a cup of coffee.
"I knew it. I told Draco the -" Darius looked at Severus who had raised an eyebrow while the Dark Lord failed to hide his smirk. "-Headmaster was going to try something since Longbottom was now going to attend Hogwarts."
Since the death of Harry Potter, Dumbledore believed that Neville Longbottom was the one that would have to face the Dark Lord when he returned. Lady Longbottom had tried to prevent it but her brother and grandson fell for the sweet tongue of Dumbledore. Neville had spent the last few years being trained by Dumbledore. However, the problem was that Neville wasn't magically strong except when it came to plants. He wasn't weak, stuttering fool he was before Dumbledore got his claws, err hands, into him. However, he would never be above an average wizard with his magic. So unless Dumbledore found a way for the Dark Lord to be killed by Neville wielding a plant, Neville wasn't the Savior Dumbledore was hoping for.
"Yes, I have had the displeasure of having Longbottom at the Castle this summer. We were to prepare him for his first year. He has destroyed three classrooms, two of my potion labs, four different walls, and I am still not sure exactly how but the main staircase." Severus wasn't the only one wondering how Longbottom did that. Dumbledore just brushed all the incidents away.
"We saw him with Ron Weasley in Diagon Alley. They were talking about pranks and how to teach us Slytherins our places." Darius rolled his eyes. "The two of them are idiots."
"Yes, Weasley has been at the castle for the last two weeks. The two of them are strutting around like your Father's peacocks on display."
"Dumbledore has been promoting the Longbottom and Weasley family as two of his biggest supporters. Lady Longbottom has been firmly against him. He had tried to get her to sign a marriage contract but she refused. I heard her telling Lady Marchbanks that Dumbledore thought that youngest Weasley girl and her grandson would make an ideal couple to help unite the light factions." The Dark Lord had taken his seats in the Wizenagamot after Dumbledore had been removed as Chief Warlock by using an older minor title.
"I have heard. He has been gushing to Longbottom about the youngest Weasley. However, Longbottom seems to find someone named Lovegood more interesting. She lives near the Barrow and I guess is friends with the Weasley chit." Severus had heard enough about it while listening to Longbottom and Weasley discussing everything that popped into their small minds.
"That is Luna Lovegood. She's a bit strange but nice. I have no idea why she is friends with Ginny Weasley except they are the only two girls out in that area." Darius thought that once the girls got to Hogwarts, Luna was going to find out how self-centered Ginny Weasley truly was. He only talked to Luna a few times but she was always nice to him when he saw her in Diagon Alley.
"Interesting." The Dark Lord glanced at Severus. "Has he mentioned hiring a new professor?"
"Indeed. Professor Quirrell is to return in two weeks. He wanted the man to move from muggle studies to DADA but Quirrell refused. The DADA position is now open."
Darius grinned. He knew the Dark Lord was going to apply. "We can practice our parseltongue glamours, crafting a ring, and making a sealing potion?"
"Yes, you brat." The Dark Lord and Severus replied.
These will be fast years until it can get interesting.
Darius and Draco were listening to Weasley brag to Neville about how they would rule Gryffindor. Neville didn't reply but the other first years were not happy with Weasley. Neville kept trying to move away from Weasley without looking like was doing so. No one really spoke after that except for a bushy-haired girl. She was quoting Hogwarts: A History and going on about Dumbledore. Darius, Draco, and the rest of their friends felt that something was off with the girl's quoting things about Dumbledore, how great the man was. They wondered how a muggle-born would know so much about Dumbledore.
They were standing, waiting for Professor McGonagall to start the sorting. They waited toward the back of the group. They could see Severus who was sitting next to the new DADA professor, Dridle. Professor Dridle looked like a dark-hair version of Lucius. Since Tom was the only one to apply, Dumbledore had no choice but to hire him. Tom removed the curse the first night. Draco and Theo were betting on who went to what house.
"Granger, Hermione." Minerva read the name and watched the girl sit on the stool.
Everyone started paying attention when it became clear the girl was arguing with the hat. Finally, they heard "yes, fine, I am agreeing, you can stop arguing with me. Let it be Gryffindor."
The girl ran to the Gryffindor table. The next few students weren't a surprise to anyone. "Longbottom, Neville."
Neville calmly walked up to the stool. He didn't stride like a peacock like Weasley usually did when he was with Neville. Neville sat down and as soon as he did the Sorting Hat yelled out "Hufflepuff."
Neville had a smile on his face as he headed to the Hufflepuff table. Weasley, however, wasn't so happy. "What? He is a Gryffindor!"
"Mr. Weasley, settle down." Minerva rebuked the boy.
Draco and Darius went to Slytherin while Weasley went to Gryffindor complaining the whole time about Neville being in Hufflepuff.
Severus and Tom sat through another boring staff meeting. Dumbledore seemed to be bothered that Neville went to Hufflepuff but not worried about it. It was almost Halloween and they endured Dumbledore's planning for the Halloween Feast. Dumbledore was only halfway down his list of desserts and candies.
"Albus, that is too much sugar. They do need to sleep that night. I'm sure none of us want to be up all night dealing with hyperactive children." Minerva had been trying for years to get the candy and other sweets cut back for years.
Severus wasn't worried about his snakes. The house-elves knew not to put that much junk on the table for his snakes during any feast. Severus knew his snakes wouldn't care. He always allowed the house-elves to bring fresh fruit and healthy snacks to any of his snakes. Pomona and Filius also cut back the amount of sugar but not as much as he did. Severus believed in teaching his snakes the importance of eating healthy.
"Everyone will be fine. They are each year." Dumbledore ignored the protests and reminders of the yearly sugar high results.
Severus knew Dumbledore was happy because he honestly believed he has his savior at Hogwarts. Yes, Neville wasn't in Gryffindor but Dumbledore believed his lost power would be returning to him as soon as Neville defeated the Dark Lord. Severus hoped he would be present when Dumbledore's world fully crashed.
"I can't wait to go home for Yule." Darius sat down next to Draco in their dorm room.
"Neither can I. I can't take any more of Weasley and Granger. Longbottom is getting annoyed with their attempts at being his friends. I saw him and his new friends in the library. Bones and Boot seem to be making him realize what true friends are."
"I think Lovegood also helped in that endeavor. I saw them together over the summer a few times." Darius could see Amber slither into the room from the bathroom. She hid under the bed. "Amber is here, check the hall." Draco's bed was closest to the door.
Draco got up, opened the door. He peeked out. Draco closed the door. "It's clear. Do it."
Darius added parselwards up. ~Amber?~
The small ball python slithered out from under the bed and waited to be picked up. ~The old one was talking to the annoying ones. He wants them to be friends with the plant lover.~
"Dumbledore wants Granger and Weasley to be Neville's friend." Darius watched Draco think about the news. They were friends with Susan Bones, due to her aunt and their parents.
~Old one was told them to try harder, and not fail.~ Amber was Darius' snake. She usually stayed with him but she was also a great little spy since she was slightly over a meter in length. She could go places her older brother and mother couldn't.
~Go and let Tom know. I'm sure your mother is around.~ Darius waited until Amber was gone. "What idea do you have?"
"I say we keep just showing Neville what true friends are about. Weasley and Granger are burying themselves. Lady Longbottom will add to it during Yule. She isn't a fan of Dumbledore." Draco smiled. "Neville isn't an idiot like those two like to think he is."
"True, very true." Darius thought the only reason why Neville had anything to do with Weasley was because of Dumbledore and his uncle. Now that Neville was at Hogwarts, he had heard Neville speak of his grandmother in a positive light.
____________________Malfoy Manor (Yule holiday)___________________________________________
Darius looked in the library. "Found you."
"I wasn't aware I was missing." Tom put down the book he was reading. "Why aren't you out playing, nevermind."
Darius was the bookworm. Draco was the one who wanted to be outside. "I wanted to see if you wanted to join Severus and me down in the lab. I want to make some potions for Yule. Severus suggested you might want to aid us with some of the stuff. Mother and Father are going to get the Yule log tonight."
"I would love to assist." Tom set his book on the table. He could read it later. "Let's go and see what we can brew up for Yule."
_____________________End of first year_____________________________
~Darius, Darius, get Severus. The old guy is trying to hide that the two idiots got hurt. Big doggy got them.~ Amber slithered into the room. ~Mother went for Tom.~
~Will do.~ Darius looked at the clock. He knew where to find Severus. He went to Severus' office. He knocked and when he heard enter Severus' office. "Amber said Granger and Weasley got hurt and Dumbledore is trying to cover it up. That dog got them."
"I will head up to the Infirmary." Severus knew the two snakes had been watching the third floor, keeping an eye out for Dumbledore and the two idiots.
Severus was sitting with Lucius and Tom in Lucius' study. "So he actually tried to say it was an accident?"
"Yes, claimed that they were warned and they would face detention when they return next year." Lucius had tried to get them suspended but Dumbledore did his senile grandfather act. Since it was after dinner, they each had their favorite drinks. "Did you ever figure out what he was hiding?"
"Yes, Flamel's Sorcerers Stone. I already wrote to them about the lack the protection for their stone." Tom had listened to Weasley and Granger speaking to many times not to figure what was going on. "The course he set up was pathic. Anyone could have navigated the course. Nagini was able to keep Fluffy from being distracted." Nagini had actually spent the year doing obedience training with the three-headed dog.
"He informed the Heads of House that everything was handled. He never informed them of what we were protecting or how the two idiots got hurt." Severus had endured the meeting but wanted to kill Dumbledore for endangering two students. Fluffy could have killed them if it wasn't for Nagini.
"He wanted me to make way for a new DADA professor, too. He wanted to hire that idiot Lockhart." Tom had been dragged up to Dumbledore's office on the last day of classes. "I already signed the contract from the Board for DADA. I did it as soon as I returned to my quarters."
"He has been hinting at the curse." Severus knew the curse was gone.
"The contract was received and approved. Lockhart is pushing a new book which Dumbledore mentioned using for lessons. He submitted all the books for every class to be approved by us. All of them were rejected. He tried to inform us that the staff was fine with the books." Lucius pulled out the list of books.
Severus and Tom went down the list. "I wouldn't use any of these books. The potions in them are meant for making candy, household items, even minor pranks."
"These books are all written by Lockhart. They are pure fiction."
"That is the problem everyone had with the entire list." Lucius had to cover his smirk when Lady Longbottom and Ted Tonks rejected all the books on the list even before those that Dumbledore considered dark added their objections.
"You three have the whole summer to make plans for next year." Narcissa stood in the doorway. "Come and join the rest of us. The boys have some games out."
~Yes, family time.~ Nagini slithered into the room. ~I want to play Monopoly.~
"She wants to play Monopoly, doesn't she?" Severus wasn't sure how a snake could get addicted to a boardgame but Nagini was.
"Yes." Tom patted Nagini's head. ~Darius too?~
~Yes, my hatchlings like that game too, including you. You just don't want to admit it.~
~You promised to keep that a secret.~ Tom knew Nagini had kept his secrets and would continue to do so.
~I do. Just like I do for all my hatchlings."
"It's Monopoly time." Draco and Darius bounced into the room.
"We have the board all set up." Draco handed out everyone's favorite piece. Everyone knew they lost. They were going to be playing Monopoly.
Draco and Darius were watching the scene unfolding on the train platform with interest. Longbottom had arrived with Terry Boots, Susan Bones, and Luna Lovegood. Lady Longbottom and Madam Bones following behind them. The Weasleys were actually early for the train this year. Usually, everyone got treated to the mad dash for the train by the Weasley clan.
Molly Weasley was pushing her daughter toward Neville as she was asking Lady Longbottom about their summer. While it was a normal conversation, it was the actions that were very telling. Actions being witnessed by all of the wizarding world society, many of whom were pure-bloods. Molly was making sure her daughter was being seen with Neville Longbottom while having what was she believed was a polite conversation. Molly kept maneuvering her daughter to Longbottom's side when the boy moved a bit away.
Ginny Weasley was too afraid to speak that she couldn't stop staring at Longbottom. Her face was turning red as her older brother, Ron, was trying to get Longbottom to join them in their compartment on the train. Ron kept trying to stand between Longbottom and anyone else but his sister. Lady Longbottom was remaining polite as she kept trying to break away from the Weasley clan. Madam Bones was also trying to move away but Molly wouldn't stop talking about things from asking about recipes to where they got their cloaks.
"Boys, get on the train." Lucius was watching this new development with interest.
"Remember to write." Narcissa gave them each a kiss on the cheek.
"Yes, Mother, we will." They smirked as they answered together. They headed for the train, took a seat in their compartment, and looked out the window to see Lady Longbottom's vulture hat bouncing as she was trying to get away from Molly Weasley without being considered too rude.
"This is going to be an interesting year." Draco commented as the train started to roll. Darius didn't think it would be. Dumbledore was going to keep trying to get Longbottom to be the Savior but since Voldemort was around Darius wasn't sure how Dumbledore was going to pull it off.
The Weasleys were loyal followers of Dumbledore and Dumbledore was using the youngest two as a way to gain access to Neville Longbottom. Neville was finally breaking away from them due in part to Luna Lovegood. Luna had been spending a lot of time with Neville over the summer as well as Susan and Terry. Neville was learning what true friends were about.
Severus ignored Dumbledore. The man had been trying to figure out what was going on or rather why nothing was happening. When nothing happened last year and now it was past Halloween and again nothing happened, Dumbledore was puzzled. Nothing to show that the Dark Lord was returning or emerged from wherever he was at. Dumbledore was a bit more confused. He was denying he was confused but Dumbledore was. The man had been pacing his office for the last thirty minutes spouting off theories.
Severus was running down his list of what potion he had to make and what he needed to restock in his inventory after he finished the potions for Poppy. He made a mental note to check the school supplies. He glanced at Minerva who looked like she was falling asleep. They had been sitting in Dumbledore's office for the last hour. Dumbledore wanted to get some ideas of what Severus and Minerva had thought of the situation.
"I'm sure he has to be planning something. It has been over ten years and we have to get Neville ready." Dumbledore finally sat down in his chair behind his desk. Severus was a bit thankful for the color of the robe kept distracting him every time the man passed in front of him as it kept him awake.
"Ready for someone who you aren't even sure has returned or is trying to return?" Minerva's tone reflecting her annoyance. "Someone who is actually deceased and won't be returning."
Severus looked at the woman wondering how long she had been fighting with Dumbledore about Longbottom. He had been listening to Dumbledore for the last few days. Dumbledore had been trying to get Severus, Minerva, and Filius to provide extra lessons for Longbottom. None of them wanted to provide those lessons especially for free for several hours a week.
"He must be. The prophesy." Dumbledore ran his hands down his beard. He had just popped a lemon drop into his mouth. "The prophecy hasn't been fulfilled. Since Harry isn't with us any longer, it must be Neville Longbottom."
"Yes, it has. Vanquished doesn't equal death. It just means defeated which Harry Potter did." Minerva rolled her eyes. "You forget that when a prophecy is completed it's able to be picked up in the Hall of Prophecies."
Severus was now very interested. Dumbledore looked a bit shocked. "You know it?" Dumbledore's eyes went round in surprise. He really hadn't expected anyone to know the prophecy, much less his Deputy Headmistress.
"Yes, after Sybill told me about it last year while she was drunk. I went to the Hall of Prophecies over the summer and heard it." Minerva pulled out a piece of parchment and read it. "Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies ... And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not ... And either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives." She laid the parchment on Dumbledore's desk.
Severus knew the first part and inwardly smiled. They did fulfill the prophecy just not in the way that Dumbledore expected. Harry became Darius while the Dark Lord was still a wraith and due to the Horcruxes, the Dark Lord was able to live now that Harry Potter was deceased. Harry Potter was declared deceased while the Dark Lord was barely surviving in Albania. Harry Potter and Voldemort were dead, officially. The prophecy fulfillment had help from Lucius, Nagini, and him. The Dark Lord had indeed marked Harry Potter that night. The Horcrux scar was the mark. Harry Potter and Voldemort were dead yet also alive.
Darius had the power to bring the Dark Lord back. Granted it wasn't magical power but with the aid of Nagini, Severus, Lucius, and Narcissa, they were able to bring the Dark Lord back to England as well as return the man to his sane former self. Severus knew no one would ever believe the memory of Dumbledore using compulsions on the Dark Lord. Eventually, they would be able to make Dumbledore pay for all he had done.
"If she remembers it, Albus, it must be fulfilled." Severus had actually wondered if the woman had given a true prophecy. Dumbledore could have provided Sybill with the prophecy while making sure that Severus heard it. After all, in a pub without privacy wards during a job interview was a bit much. Dumbledore put into a play a self-fulfilling prophecy. He was going to mention this idea to Lucius and Tom.
Dumbledore seemed even more troubled now that Minerva knew the prophecy and Sybill was speaking about it. This wasn't a good thing in Dumbledore's eyes. Dumbledore had been using the secret of the prophecy to keep people believing in his agenda. Severus noticed that Dumbledore had his hands folded on top of his desk. Dumbledore was looking at his chessboard but there weren't any pieces on it. Yes, Dumbledore was trying to revamp his plans without revealing the truth.
"What do you want to do now? There is no You-Know-Who, Sybill has been very free in speaking about the prophecy, and no Harry Potter. While Mr. Longbottom is gifted with plants. He is not able to handle all this training you seem he needs but doesn't." Minerva was glaring at Dumbledore. "There is no more You-Know-Who."
"I have been telling him the same things for years." Severus rolled up his left sleeve. "See, no mark, but Albus selected not to believe me." Severus was thankful that Narcissa had suggested moving the marks and covering them with a parselward. They had done it after it was announced Harry Potter was deceased. The Dark Lord placed the parselward on all his marks by using Lucius' mark.
"How long?" Minerva looked at the bare arm.
Severus pulled down his sleeve. "After Potter's death, it disappeared." Severus saw Dumbledore process the information. Dumbledore's face confirmed Severus' belief that Dumbledore knew Harry was a Horcrux.
"That is excellent news. We can now focus on making our students the best they can be." Minerva faced Dumbledore. "I know we can't announce this news but we can certainly inform certain members of the Old Crowd."
"Yes, yes, I do agree." Dumbledore finally muttered. He was still looking at his chessboard. "We will have to now focus on preventing Lucius and those of his ilk from promoting a dark agenda."
"I'm sure you can handle the political front." Minerva rose. "I have a class in an hour."
"I have a potion brewing." Severus wanted to escape Dumbledore's office. He knew Dumbledore was going to ponder what he just learned and Severus was expecting he would be called back into Dumbledore's office soon.
Severus was sitting in Tom's quarters. Tom was making tea for them to have while they had their discussion. Severus had left Dumbledore's office with the knowledge that Dumbledore was moving away from using Longbottom as a Savior but still was going to use him as a political pawn.
Tom set the tea tray down and threw a few biscuits on to Nagini and Samson, her son. Samson was actually Severus' snake. Samson had followed Severus here. ~No more.~ Tom warned. He knew Nagini was hooked on biscuits due to Darius and Draco feeding them to the snakes. Nagini may mother them but she was addicted to sugar. Nagini looked at where Tom kept the cookie jar. She nodded at her son. She was going to get more biscuits. The cookie jar was easy to break. ~No, I added protection so you can't open it.~ Tom had found the jar empty or broken too many times. He had tried tins, putting them in the cabinets, only to find the tins destroyed as well as the doors were torn off of the cabinet after Nagini had come back from the Gryffindor dorms stoned out of her mind because of some Gryffindors and a certain plant. Darius had mentioned smelling something strange on some of the older students. Nagini gave Tom the snake version of a raspberry. "Dumbledore?"
"Yes. I'm not sure what Dumbledore is planning. Minerva surprised him by throwing the prophecy on his desk tonight. She was kind enough to inform him that Sybill has been very generous in the spreading of her one prophecy. She also went to the Ministry and heard it. Dumbledore hid his anger at the discovery but there wasn't much he could do. Minerva was very smug at making him angry. I believe she has known for a while."
"Perhaps it is time for the prophecy orb to disappear." The Dark Lord knew the prophecy had been fulfilled the night he had killed the Potters. "The question is would Dumbledore replace it with a fake orb?"
"He might. He has been using the prophecy for years. I know Lady Longbottom and many others would breath easier if it was exposed." Severus made a mental note to speak to Minerva. He wanted to see what else the old tabby might know.
The Dark Lord thought about what Severus told him. "Is Rita still using her skills to get stories?"
"Yes. Dumbledore has been trying to find out who the source is." Severus knew that Dumbledore had told many of the Old Crowd different tales to see who the leak was. Dumbledore just never realized the Headmasters, the house-elves, and the snakes were all excellent spies. Hogwarts had two heirs in residence. She responded to the Dark Lord and Darius before the Headmaster. They hadn't changed the main wards but they had fixed numerous issues that Dumbledore had been neglecting. The former Headmasters, as well as the ghosts, responded to Hogwarts.
"Leave me the memory. I will pass it onto Lucius during the next Wizengamot session." Lucius would be able to work with Rita on what to write and how to use it against Dumbledore.
Severus knew that would drive Dumbledore crazy. Severus and Minerva rarely left Hogwarts when the students were at the school. Dumbledore never realized that Severus wasn't on his team. "How was the Wizengamot session?"
"It went well. Dumbledore wasn't very happy when he left. Lucius was able to get more classes returned. Christmas will now be called Yule, no more Christmas Feast. A Yule Log will be cut down and used. He was able to get some of the other rituals returned. Dumbledore tried to say it would alienate the muggle-born but he has never been able to answer the question of why we cater to the muggle-born when we go out into the muggle world we must act like them." Lucius and numerous people from both factions wanted to know why they had to cater to the muggle-born. It wasn't about stopping the muggle-born from entering as Dumbledore tried to claim since there were no new laws restricting the entrance to the magical world.
They did create new laws enforcing the Statute of Secrecy as well as a department that would monitor the muggle-born. The department was designed to aid families in handling a magical child. Any sign of abuse or neglect the child was removed. Many pure-blood families found new members in their families as testing at Gringotts showed that the children were the descendants of Squibs.
Dumbledore had lost a lot of power and respect since the death of Harry Potter. People were questioning his every move now. Many were even questioning his age and ability to guide Hogwarts and the students. Dumbledore was being questioned about his goals especially before the new laws were presented as bills and Dumbledore tried to stop them from becoming laws.
"Perhaps it is time to focus on removing Dumbledore as the Headmaster?" Severus suggested.
"We won't have to do much to achieve that goal. After Rita's article, we might not have to do anything. I know we can get you hired as the Headmaster, however, I fear that Dumbledore might run to the ICW claiming corruption."
"He does have a lot of connections. Perhaps work on his creating doubt about his sanity. I have been brewing some minor health potions for Poppy to use in treating Dumbledore. She inquired about me brewing something into a lemon drop. I have been researching it. I'm not sure what potion she requires but I will speak to her."
"Excellent. I want you to attend the next duel club meeting. I want to show the first-year students a true duel." The Dark Lord had two dueling clubs. One for all the students and one where only those who followed the dark side learned all the spells Dumbledore wouldn't allow. "The first year Gryffindors have been causing issues in the halls with their fighting."
"Yes, I have caught Mr. Weasley with two of his friends Mr. Finnigan and Mr. Thomas, picking on anyone he can find by themselves. He has also been very vocal about Slytherins." Severus had been warning Dumbledore for years about keeping the house rivalries alive. Ron Weasley was just like his mouth. His opened his mouth and inserted his huge feet in them all the time. He picked on Hermione Granger and other loners.
"Yes, the three of them have been picking on a lot of the students. I will say it has caused Mr. Longbottom to distance himself even further from Mr. Weasley. I have seen him with Mr. Boot and Ms. Bones."
"Yes, Darius and Draco have also befriended him. They have a study group in the library. Mr. Weasley and his two cohorts have an allergy to books."
The Dark Lord laughed. "Yes, I have seen it in his work. I would suggest you watch his work. I heard him talking to his two friends during the last practical about getting Ms. Granger to assist them."
They discussed what the students needed for their practical lesson during the next dueling club session.
Draco nudged Darius as Weasley walked into the library with Granger. Neville looked up, groaned. "He is going to be a putz."
"Yes." Darius didn't care for Weasley. He thought he was a bully. He had endured the boy's attitude in Diagon Alley.
"Neville, what are you doing? They are snakes!" Weasley bellowed across the library. "They are going to corrupt you." His face was as red as his hair. "You don't sit with Death Eaters."
"Shh!" Ms. Pince put her finger up to her lip. She was glaring at Weasley and Granger.
"Ron." Granger warned.
Weasley stormed over to their table. He started closing all the books on the table. "Get your books and come with us. You can't remain here." He wasn't looking at what he was doing as he pushed books around.
"Ron, I need Darius help on my potion assignment. We were almost done until you ruined my essay." Neville's essay was now covered with ink from when Weasley slammed the books closed. Neville picked up a book. The table was covered with ink from the inkwell the three boys had been using to write their essays. "You are going to explain to Ms. Pince about the books."
"Oh, no, Ron. You ruined the books." Granger looked horrified. Books were precious. They were to be treasured, cared for, protected, and kept out of danger from anything like ink.
"What? What did you do to my books." Ms. Pince was standing behind Weasley. "What did you do?"
"Nothing, I was just trying to get Neville away from the nasty snakes." Weasley's hands were now black with ink as he had tried to clean up the mess using parchment.
"Is that ink?" Ms. Pince looked ready to faint.
"Yes, ma'am." Granger quietly answered. "Ron was closing the books and didn't realize an inkwell was on the table."
"Come with me, Mr. Weasley, after I clean this mess up." Ms. Pince used her wand to gather the ruined books into a pile and put them in a bag. She then cleaned the table. She put her wand away and took the bag. "To the Headmaster, Mr. Weasley." She looked at the remaining students in the library. "The library is closed due to Mr. Weasley."
"Neville, Granger, come with us to the Slytherin dorm to work on our essay there. We can use the Slytherin library and ask the upper years questions." Darius offered.
"We won't get into trouble?" Granger was a bit nervous.
"No, we are inviting you." Draco wasn't sure what Darius was doing until he remembered that Granger was a muggle-born. What better way to show that Slytherins weren't what Weasley said than to invite a Gryffindor muggle-born into their common room.
"Thank you, I would love to." Granger smiled. She didn't have any friends. She knew Weasley only wanted to study with her today so that she would do all the work. She wasn't going to but she wasn't stupid.
"Anything to escape Ron having a fit in the common room after seeing the Headmaster." Neville would still have to listen to a rant about Death Eaters and Slytherins from Weasley later but he did feel bad for those in Gryffindor who had to listen to Weasley's rants. He was thankful he wasn't in the same house as Weasley.
The group passed the Dark Lord and Severus as they walked to the common room. "Darius' idea." Severus and the Dark Lord said at the same time.
Darius and Draco were almost done with their breakfast when it happened. Granger stood up, her hands on her hips. "It isn't like that at all. Everyone in Slytherin has been a great help to Neville and me. The only ones who I have never seen in their common room are other Gryffindors. For the past week, every one of the Slytherins has made me feel welcomed and answered any question I had. They have even lent me books."
Weasley stood up. "THEY'RE SNAKES! You can't trust them. They are trying to con you."
"Honestly, Ron, they are our own age. They aren't Death Eaters. They are just teenagers like us."
Draco looked at Darius. "I will never question your ideas again."
Darius smiled as Neville and several other Puffs joined Granger. "It's true. Unlike when I am in your common room, they actually help each other. The upper years actually assist the younger years in their studies."
"It's something the other houses due but not Gryffindor." The Patil Twins stood together. "It's why I enjoy visiting Ravenclaw."
Weasley looked ready to explode. He had never been able to handle anyone saying anything negative about Gryffindor. Weasley pointed to the Slytherin table. "They are conning you. They are trying to lure you into trusting them. They want to recruit you for You-Know-Who."
Neville groaned. "Not that rant again." Many felt the same way and soon everyone was telling Weasley he was wrong. Darius and Draco, as well as most of Slytherin, watched and knew this was a game changer, especially when most of the other Gryffindors started asking questions. The Gryffindors were asking questions about what Slytherin house was like. After about thirty minutes, Dumbledore returned to the Great hall with several staff members. None of the students had realized the first session had started. Dumbledore didn't look happy seeing all the students talking to the Slytherins. Weasley was sitting a the Gryffindor table by himself, stuffing his face as he glared at anyone he could.
Dumbledore sent a firecracker into the air. Weasley jumped up. "Thank Merlin. Look those snakes have turned the whole school into future Death Eaters." Food was flying out of Weasley's mouth, so many didn't completely understand what he said exactly but they got the idea.
"That isn't true." Was shouted by numerous students.
Dumbledore sent up another firecracker. "I'm sure we can discuss this later. However, you are all late for your first session."
The students all went to their classes. As Darius was passing Severus and the Dark Lord, he arched a brow and smirked. Severus and the Dark Lord realized Darius' plan worked. They each owed the boy some books. Severus glanced at the Dark Lord who was shaking his head in disbelief. The Dark Lord would have never expected that by inviting one Gryffindor into the Slytherin dorms for a few weeks would change so many opinions. The Dark Lord waited until they were walking back to their classes before speaking. "One muggle-born."
"I agree. I didn't think it would cause that display."
Severus was ready to kill Dumbledore. The man was driving him and Minerva crazy with his obsession with how the students were reacting to Slytherins. Dumbledore hadn't given up his ideas about Neville and the return of the Dark Lord. So almost three times a week, Severus and Minerva were pulled into some type of meeting regarding what Dumbledore called the dire crises of this year. Severus was ready to find something to poison Dumbledore with. Especially if he heard Dumbledore mention Voldemort, Neville, and students in one more meeting. Minerva looked ready to aid him in research or even creating a new poison.
Dumbledore didn't listen to a word either one said to him. Over the Yule holiday, Dumbledore had called an Order meeting. Sadly, for Dumbledore, only Molly believed him. Arthur and several others took the same stance that Minerva and Severus did. Dumbledore had tried to convince everyone that the prophecy was still valid but Minerva was able to stop it by stating she was able to pick up the prophecy orb and she read the full prophecy.
That was the last Order meeting as everyone but Dumbledore and Molly agreed to disband. Dumbledore didn't want to vote on it but Minerva pushed for the vote. Everyone seemed extremely happy to realize they didn't have to worry about the Dark Lord's return. Molly kept trying to get everyone to listen to Dumbledore but after Minerva's prophecy busting reveal, no one seemed to care.
Severus was leaving another meeting with Dumbledore. Minerva was muttering about lemon drops. Severus was going to see if Poppy could start to medicate the lemon drops. Minerva sighed. "He won't let it go."
"I know." Severus knew Dumbledore had a lot of plans that were dashed by the death of Harry Potter. Dumbledore also had to revamp his plans when he realized how magically weak Neville was. Neville was gifted with plants. The boy could grow anything. Plants responded to him. Severus had many interesting discussions with Neville over Yule at Malfoy Manor. If Dumbledore ever discovered that the man might just have a heart attack. Maybe he should let it slip out?
"He is going to drive himself out of a job." Minerva was thinking about retiring. She wanted to spend more time with her family. Spend time with her grandchildren. She wanted to travel. Perhaps it was time.
"Yes, many of the parents will listen to their children. I know some of my snakes had a lot of visitors from other houses over Yule." Severus was liking the idea more and more of letting the information leaking out. He knew the parents were becoming more welcoming to each other, regardless of houses. Rita would certainly hear the information, if she hadn't already, and spread the news.
"Yes, I heard. I have been having to keep the youngest Weasley boy away from a lot of the students. He has been fighting with anyone who even mentions the word Slytherin. His sister seems quiet but has voiced a lot of Molly's ideas." Minerva was thankful the girl didn't have Molly's volume as of yet.
"I have heard. I believe Pomona has caught her trying to sneak into the Hufflepuff common room." Severus had caught her a few times. Pomona and Severus had been discussing some winter plants for potion ingredients when Pomona frowned. She had to go and discover what was causing her wards to go off. Severus followed her. They discovered Neville trying to push the youngest Weasley off of his lap.
"Yes, she gave her a few days detention. She spoke to me about the issue last week. I have a meeting with Arthur and Molly regarding the ongoing issues tomorrow." Minerva wasn't sure how she was going to get Molly to listen to her. Arthur would listen but Molly was the one who ran the family. She wasn't sure if Arthur would be able to take charge enough to make changes.
"I will send you a bottle of scotch and a headache potion." Severus wanted a drink and his own headache potion. Molly always gave him a headache. The woman's voice could hit pitches he swore only dogs should be able to hear.
"Poppy has given me a supply since we have been meeting so much with Albus. Honestly, that man doesn't know how to listen to anyone." Minerva had been dragged into almost daily meetings with Dumbledore. The man was so focused on trying to figure out how the Dark Lord was going to return than school business. He had gotten worse over the years since Harry's demise.
They parted at the stairs and Severus headed down to the dungeons. Severus wasn't surprised to find the Dark Lord, Darius, and Draco waiting for him in his office. The Dark Lord and Darius were having an intense debate with the snakes. Nagini kept blowing raspberries at them. Draco was laughing. Severus went and poured himself a drink.
"That bad?" Darius questioned.
"Yes, the man doesn't listen to anyone. Minerva and I spent another wasted hour with him. He covered everything."
"It's only a few more months before our summer holiday." The Dark Lord watched Samson slither up Severus. Samson draped himself around Severus's neck, rubbing the top of his head under Severus' chin.
"That snake has spent to much time with Mrs. Norris." Draco never saw a snake doing the rubbing as cats do.
Severus had Samson since he was about three weeks old. So Samson spent a lot of time with the cats at Hogwarts. "I am sure that Nagini, Samson, and Amber are voicing their displeasure over that remark." The three snakes spent a lot of time with cats because of Samson introducing them when they arrived with Darius and the Dark Lord.
*We are.* Nagini used her tail to lightly smack Draco's legs.
Darius laughed at his brother. "You should know better by now."
Amber looked at Draco. *He needs his own snake.*
*I agree.* Nagini eyed him. *Perhaps my little Nico would work.*
"Draco, how do you feel about Nico becoming your familiar?"
"Nico? You mean that little snake that Nagini adopted?"
Severus leaned back to just listen to them discuss the different snakes that would work with Draco. Severus closed his eyes as he relaxed. Ten years ago, he would have never had relaxed with the Dark Lord around. He would have never expected to have family and a snake familiar. Said familiar was now curling up in his lap. Severus pulled the light blanket off of the chair he was sitting in and laid it over Samson.
Severus wasn't really listening to Dumbledore as he was thinking about adjusting some potions. He made the correct grunts of agreements at times. It was the same speech that Dumbledore had been giving since the failure of the Dark Lord's return. The man was going crazy trying to think of what might have happened and ignored Severus and Minerva's comments that the Dark Lord was dead.
"There must be a way."
Severus had no idea what Dumbledore was referencing. "A way?" He was going to have to start paying attention a bit more to Dumbledore and his ramblings.
"Yes, there must be a way to get Neville magically stronger. He can't win against Voldemort using his abilities with plants." Dumbledore whirled around and looked at Severus. "We must find someone he can bond too. Someone who can grant him access to their magic."
"Albus, I hate to keep repeating myself but my mark is gone. He is dead. He died when Potter died." Severus closed his eyes as he thought of the next four years of listening to the man about Voldemort and Longbottom having to battle to the death. "Longbottom wasn't even attacked by Voldemort." He did enjoy watching the well-covered surprise Dumbledore had when Severus used the name Voldemort. "Even if the prophecy wasn't fulfilled, they have never had any type of interaction."
"They will. It's just a matter of time. It's not like Neville will kill Voldemort the first time they meet. Voldemort will want to test him."
Severus could see that Dumbledore was searching for some type of reaction to him saying Voldemort. Severus resisted the urge to roll his eyes at the old fool. He was going to make it easy for them to get him out of Hogwarts when the time was right. "Albus, the man is dead." Severus didn't bother to listen any longer but glanced at the empty chessboard. He was going to have to review his memories and see what pieces were where last time he was in the office. He was also going to speak to Lucius about the Wizenagamot. He had a feeling Dumbledore might try and get Longbottom bonded to someone without anyone being aware of it. "Albus, I have potions brewing. You know my opinion and even Minerva's."
Darius and Draco were watching the unfolding scene at the Gryffindor table. Granger and Weasely and his sister were fighting about Slytherin and any student who spent any time with a Slytherin. Darius leaned a bit closer to Draco. "You know he and his sister are going to be impossible until we leave for our summer holiday."
"So nothing new, you mean?" Draco and most of the Slytherins were tired of being called Death Eaters by Weasley. His sister wasn't as bad but she was just as biased as her brother. The Weasley Twins pranked everyone and Percy removed the same points for the same infraction no matter what house the student was in. "Wish they were more like their older siblings. It would be so much easier."
Darius recognized that Draco was correct. The snakes kept them appeased of all the gossip and many of the staff and students weren't impressed with the youngest two members of the Weasley family. Darius looked up at Severus. He wondered if the youngest two were unknowingly trained to be against Slytherins as part of Dumbledore's plan for him as Harry. He would mention it to Severus after classes were finished for the day.
"I wonder when Hermione will ask for a resort." Pansy didn't ask quietly. She knew that many heard her.
"The Sorting Hat mentioned Ravenclaw. I think it would be a better fit." Blaise got up as the bell sounded for the start of the first class. "I believe we should discuss Hogwarts: A History with her."
"Agreed." Pansy weaved her way toward Granger and latched onto her. "Hermione, I heard you have read Hogwarts: A History."
"I believe Hermione will be in Ravenclaw by the end of the week with Pansy's assistance." Theo looked over his shoulder to where Weasley and his sister were now arguing and Percy was attempting to get them to head to class. "I do feel bad for Percy and the twins being related to those two."
"I believe everyone feels that way." Draco was going to suggest to Severus that they might need to brew headache potions for the staff since Dumbledore would have an issue when Granger asked for a resort and would call a few staff meetings.
"We are going to have to make sure all the first years walk in groups." Darius warned once they were away from the mass of students. "Weasley will be looking for targets." Darius would see if the snakes could assist.
Severus was thankful he took a headache potion before he entered the staff room for the staff meeting. He had already given the Dark Lord one. Granger had asked for a resort two days ago and Dumbledore had attempted to deny it. Minerva already approved it before Dumbledore had a fit about the girl wanting a resort. This meeting was Dumbledore's attempt to prevent any resortings from happening as long as he remained Headmaster. Severus had a feeling it had more to do with the fact that numerous students were interested in seeing happens when Granger gets resorted. There were a lot of younger students who didn't remain in the Gryffindor dorms and only did so when they were forced.
Minerva sighed deeply from behind him. "I might need a headache potion after this meeting."
Severus reached into his robe pocket and pulled out a pouch filled with headache potions. "I brought enough for everyone." Dumbledore wasn't at his own meeting so Severus gave everyone one of the potion bottles. He sat down next to the Dark Lord. Severus and the Dark Lord had been keeping track of everything for the past year and a half. They reviewed each other's memories and then would forward the memory phials to Lucius to keep stored and prevent Dumbledore from being able to use any memory charms on either of them.
"Minerva, do you know why he called this meeting?" Poppy poured some tea into her favorite mug. It was a basic white mug but had the a black caduceus on it.
"I'm afraid it has to do with Hermione Granger's request to be resorted as well as other students."
"Other students?" Aurora asked. "We never have anyone asking normally."
"I'm afraid many of the first and second year Gryffindors have come forward requesting to be resorted." Minerva pointed to a scroll she placed on the table after she sat down.
"Is there a common reason?" The Dark Lord wondered if Minerva would admit it. He knew she was an honorable person but also knew the type of power and control Dumbledore liked to have over those he considered his.
Minerva didn't get to answer as Dumbledore arrived. Everything was repeated until Dumbledore answered the Dark Lord's question by saying he wasn't sure why so many were asking to be resorted and he wanted to stop all students from visiting other houses. Get each student to spend more time in their common rooms getting to know their housemates.
"Albus, that isn't going to solve the issue." Minerva rebuked. "Many students are saying that they are unhappy with being in Gryffindor but when we probed a bit it was because of Ronald Weasley's bullying any student who visits the Slytherin house. We need a solution to the bullying not forcing students to remain in their common room. The Charter also allows unhappy students to be resorted if they are being bullied, feel they don't fit the house after a reasonable amount of time, or if the Sorting Hat gave them two options."
"How many students?" Filius, as well as the other Head of Houses, had warned Dumbledore about the students' complaints of bullying by Ron Weasley. He had spent a lot of time helping the students with their charms assignment as well as other subjects.
Dumbledore smiled. "It doesn't matter. No one will be resorted. Everyone will just have to remain where they are."
"Minerva, it's for the greater good." Dumbledore smiled. "I actually am thinking we should see about having students study in their own houses too. No more visiting other houses, no more studying with other houses."
Severus and Minerva looked at each other. They knew everything would be back to normal next week. The students would write to their parents who, in turn, would send howlers to Dumbledore. Severus watched the rest of the staff. Poppy huffed. "I won't be giving you a headache potion due to howlers, Albus. I'm warning you now."
"I'm out of them." Severus added. He noticed the staff had hidden the ones he gave them. The meeting went a lot smoother than he thought but he wasn't looking to the miserable Gryffindor students and the fighting that would be happening. "I won't be brewing them for another two weeks due to a backlog of other potions that are needed."
The meeting broke up as Minerva and Dumbledore started to debate the new rules. At the door, the Dark Lord looked over his shoulder at Dumbledore. "We need to get this memory to Lucius."
"I agree. It might be enough to get some of those who have been wavering."
The students were not happy when Dumbledore announced his changed and refused to follow the new rules. After the students left the Great Hall, Dumbledore smiled. "It will all work out. It's for the greater good."
The staff didn't comment but they also didn't remove any of the students from their house that night when they saw students from other houses in their house. They didn't separate the students during the classes and they didn't stop them from studying together. Mrs. Pince even added some barriers so that no one could see any student studying with others from different houses. The next meal all of the students but Ron and Ginny Weasley were sitting at other tables and no matter what Dumbledore attempted to do, they would leave the hall as soon as he proclaimed they had to return to their house table.
Weasley spent days driving the prefects crazy with a list of students who were breaking the new rules. Percy Weasley wasn't even removing points. Percy got a howler from his mother because of Ron writing to her. The twins gave Percy their support. Severus was sure it was a combination of the Weasley twins, Darius, and Granger that encouraged the students to write to their parents but instead of having their parents send howlers to Dumbledore, the students suggested the Board of Education, instead. While they had to put up with Dumbledore's gloating that he hadn't received any howlers and his removing points from all the houses except for Gryffindor, Severus was looking forward to the next Board meeting.
Lucius had already written to Severus and the Dark Lord regarding the number of students who had written to their parents. Lady Longbottom and Ted Tonks were ready to eliminate the house system altogether but realized they needed something in place to house the students. The Board was in agreement to allow the students to visit and study with other houses. Lucius was looking forward to the meeting in two weeks. Severus and the Dark Lord figured they could handle Dumbledore's antics for two weeks.
Severus was ready to curse Dumbledore. He glanced at the Dark Lord. The Dark Lord looked ready to curse Dumbledore has the man was going down the list of detentions all of them were assigned by him, none of them were assigned by a prefect or a member of the staff. "We need to be united in getting the students to remain in their own houses, sitting at their house tables, and studying within their own houses."
Minerva glared as did the rest of the staff. "No, Albus. The students were getting along. They were helping each other. Yes, things weren't perfect but they were better than they had been in decades. I'm not removing points or giving detentions for finally having the division of the houses ending."
"I have to agree, Albus. The students are getting along better than they had in decades." Filius was never one to remove points unless it for breaking the rules. "Grades have been up, there haven't been any pure-bloods verses muggle-borns fights, and students are sharing their views of their worlds. Muggle-borns have been showing pure-bloods some of the inventions and customs that they have and so haven't the pure-bloods."
"I have seen the pure-bloods requesting books regarding muggle history and their inventions." Mrs. Pince had been spending a lot of money on new books for the library and was enjoying doing so.
"The students have been helping each other and we should keep encouraging it." Pomona glanced at Poppy and Minerva. Yes, it was time to have a check-up on Dumbledore. The houses being united was something they had been hoping to obtain for decades.
"I have to agree. The only ones who are objecting are Ron Weasley and his sister." Minerva had tried to get them to change their attitude but Dumbledore kept encouraging it. She had tried to remove points but Dumbledore just gave them back.
"We must be ready for when Voldemort returns." Dumbledore looked at the staff, all of whom just looked at him as if he was nuts. No one spoke. They had heard the same reasoning and didn't believe it any longer. Minerva was rolling her eyes. "I need to have some people volunteer to tutor Neville." No one spoke again. "He needs to be trained." After several minutes of silence, Dumbledore dismissed everyone.
Poppy summoned Minerva and Severus. Severus was leaving his own office to answer the summons when Draco came running down to him. "It's Darius. Ron cornered him. I wasn't with him but I saw Ron being dragged to Dumbledore's office by Professor Flitwick."
"I'm on my way to the infirmary now. Floo call your parents in my quarters." Severus stopped by the door to his quarters. "Draco, get them here. Dumbledore won't tell them otherwise."
"I will." Draco headed into Severus' quarters.
Severus entered the infirmary to Poppy working on Darius. He could see blood. "What do you need Poppy?"
Poppy looked up. "Blood-Replenishing Potion, Lung Clearing Potion, as well as some Skele-Gro. I am going to have to remove a few rib bones, his left Ulna, and left Patella."
Minerva was leaning over Darius, holding some cloth against his left side. Poppy started casting some healing spells. No one spoke except Poppy when she needed something. They didn't notice when Lucius and Narcissa arrived. Narcissa started to assist without being asked. Poppy was grateful since she was aware that Narcissa was a healer and not just a mediwitch like she was.
Once Darius was out of danger and settled to recover, Minerva looked at Lucius and Narcissa before facing Darius. "What happened?"
"I'm not sure. I was leaving Charms and suddenly was pushed. I turned and Ron Weasley was glaring at me. He started saying I ruined Neville, something about turning him into a Death Eather. When Neville went to defend himself, Ron pulled a wand out. He pointed it at Neville and Slugulus Eructo. Nothing happened but some sparks that emitted out of his wand. We noticed his wand was held together with Sellotape. We walked away and suddenly I was hit with something from behind, I fell, and I was hit again. I heard some screaming and I got hit again. Neville was standing over me, yelling at Ron. Professor Flitwick stopped whatever Ron was doing."
As Darius finished speaking, Dumbledore entered the infirmary. He didn't look happy to see Lucius and Narcissa already present. "I was checking on the condition of Darius."
"He is stable. He will be here for a few days as the bones need to regrow." Poppy had been writing up her report. "The wounds on his back are the ones that will need a few extra days since I can't give him anything until he finishes regrowing the bones in his left arm and left knee."
Dumbledore settled down on the bed next to Darius. "Why don't you tell me what happened?"
Darius looked at the man like he was crazy. He was sure Professor Flitwick informed him already. "I was leaving Charms and suddenly was pushed. I turned and Ron Weasley was glaring at me. He started saying I ruined Neville, something about turning him into a Death Eather. When Neville went to defend himself, Ron pulled a wand out. He pointed it at Neville and Slugulus Eructo. Nothing happened but some sparks that emitted out of his wand. We noticed his wand was held together with Sellotape. We walked away and suddenly I was hit with something from behind, I fell, and I was hit again. I heard some screaming and I got hit again. Neville was standing over me, yelling at Ron. Professor Flitwick stopped whatever Ron was doing."
"Ron informed me that you attacked him first. You cast Diffindo on him but he was able to dodge."
Darius tried to sit up but Poppy and Narcissa stopped him. "I'm sure Neville and Professor Flitwick will back my statement that I didn't cast a single spell. Actually, you can check my wand." Darius tilted his head to his belongings that were piled up next to Lucius.
"I'm sure it's a slight misunderstanding. It might be an excellent idea for you, Neville, and Ron to spend some time with each other."
"No. I don't want to spend any time with a bully and bigot. He gives Gryffindors a bad name." Darius wasn't about to spend any time with the bully.
"No, Albus. You will do something about this attack on my son or I will bring it up with the Board in three days when we meet." Lucius was going to bring it up anyways but not in the way Dumbledore was expecting. He was also going to see about getting a mental health exam being performed on Dumbledore.
Poppy looked at the adults in the room. "Perhaps you might discuss this away from my patients who need their rest."
Dumbledore stood up. "Yes, of course, Poppy, you are correct. Perhaps some tea in my office, Lucius?"
"There is nothing to discuss. We will remain with our son for a bit longer before heading home." Lucius wasn't going to debate it any longer. It was time to get the old goat out and he was going to do whatever he could do see it done.
Dumbledore looked as if he was going to debate it but Poppy escorted Dumbledore out of the infirmary by reminding him that he had a student he needed to speak to. Severus watched all the snakes disappear. He knew what they were going to be doing. He also realized he better go and speak to the Dark Lord before the Dark Lord decided to kill Dumbledore because Darius being injured.