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A Vampire, On Top of Everything Else

Chapter Text

“Hey, Harry, wake up,” someone called, gently shaking his shoulder.

Harry slowly opened his eyes, blinking at the whiteness surrounding him. His head felt fuzzy, and his body was numb. He was lying on something fluffy; a cloud, perhaps? Was this heaven? Had he succeeded?

“How are you feeling?“ a voice softly asked. The person leaned over him, pale face and silver hair shimmering in the moonlight.

“Are you an angel?” Harry muttered. “Am I dead?“

The voice chuckled quietly. “An angel, huh? Not quite, Potter. And no, you're not dead, though not for lack of trying.”

“Wait... Malfoy…?” Harry was puzzled. How had Malfoy, of all people, found him here? And when? It was awfully bright out for night time, but it surely couldn't be morning yet, could it?

“Yes, that is my name.”

“But how?” Harry, somewhat more cognizant now, tried to sit up. “Ugh!” A sudden dizziness had come over him; he tightly clutched his pounding head.

“Here, drink this, it'll help.” Malfoy thrust a vial of red liquid at him.

“What is it. ..? Aahh…” A wave of nausea flew through him. He could barely think straight again. The vial shook in his hand.

“Just drink it, you git.” Malfoy grabbed his hand, lacing the other around Harry's back, steadying him while he gulped down the warm liquid.

The effect was nearly instantaneous. As Harry’s vision cleared, and the headache and nausea vanished, he could finally take in his surroundings. He was next to the lake, sitting in snow that glittered like glass, a nearly full moon high in the sky. He could see everything clear as day in the light from it.

Remembering why he'd been by the lake, Harry turned his wrists over. They each had a long, thin scar, both mostly faded. “How?” he whispered.

“I saved you,” Malfoy replied, voice flat. “I was taking a stroll, when I smelled quite a bit of blood. I followed the scent, and found you floating in the lake, so I pulled you out.”

“You saw me? But it was pitch black out... “ Harry mused. Something was definitely strange with this entire situation. It was beginning to annoy him quite a bit, especially as another thought occurred to him: “Why would you even want to save me, anyway? You hate me!”

“Hate is a bit too strong a word, Potter. Hate is what the Dark Lord and that pink bitch deserve. You're more like a rival, or at least you were, before you returned this year with major anger issues.”

“What? I don't have anger issues!” Harry raged, jumping to his feet. “If you're referring to earlier, you were totally asking for it, insulting our families like that! And now I'm even banned from quidditch over it!” Harry growled, fists clenched and fangs bared.

Wait, fangs? Harry froze, all anger vanishing, mind blanking as he tried to process things, a strange, seemingly impossible, suspicion crossing his mind. How bright it was, despite it clearly being night, if the moon and stars were any indication; the deep gashes in his arms already healed; feeling comfortable despite lying in snow; the red liquid that make him feel so much better… “Malfoy… how exactly did you heal me...?”

“Ah, so you finally figured it out, huh, Potter? Took you long enough.”

“Malfoy! Answer me!”

“I think you know the answer already.” Malfoy sneered, mouth wide as he showed off a pair of fangs, eyes slightly glowing as his pupils narrowed to thin predatorial slits.

At this, Harry visibly began to panic, frantically looking around before making a dash towards the forest. Malfoy, anticipating this, merely leapt forwards with an inhuman grace and tightly grasped Harry's wrist.

“Let me go, Malfoy!”

“So you can what, run off to who knows where and try to off yourself again? ...although, it's not like you can do it now, anyway,” he chuckled.

“This isn't funny!”

“Hmph. Fine. Now, sit down; I'll answer your questions. Go on, ask away,” Malfoy replied, voice flat once again, as he sat in the snow, Harry following.

Harry was quiet for a few moments, counting in his head in an attempt to calm down. “Alright…” he began. “So, you’re a vampire, correct? And now I am too?”

“Oh good, you actually read your first year defense textbook,” Malfoy drawled. “Yes, I am quite clearly a vampire, and now so are you.”

“But how? When? You seemed perfectly normal a few hours ago! It was a few hours ago right?”

“Yes, it's only been a few hours since quidditch. As to my appearance… well, it's a wonder what a few well-placed glamours can do. I was turned at the start of the summer, punishment for my father ‘abandoning’ the Dark Lord, regardless of the fact everyone thought him dead.”

Harry ignored the part about Voldemort; he was highly curious of course, but there was something more important he needed to know. “Why did you turn me? I know you said you don't hate me, so pulled me out, but why did you turn me rather than go to the hospital wing?”

“I thought that would be obvious, Potter.”

“Enlighten me.”

“Your wrists were slashed and lungs filled with water. You had barely enough blood for me to even safely take a small bite; it's a miracle you were still alive. Clearly you had some fight left in you after all, despite your claims otherwise… Right, so the hospital wing was too far. I have no medical training beyond some basic first aid spells. The only way to save you was to turn you.”

“...Right, ‘save’ me. Okay. Next question I guess. .. you said you use glamours to hide?”

“Yes. “

“But the glamours aren't on now, right? So why aren't you pale? Well, paler than usual. And I'm not either.”

Malfoy chuckled. “That, my friend, is one of the many misconceptions about vampires.”

“We're not friends!” Harry spat.

“Touchy, touchy. It's just an expression. Although, I suppose we probably will need to at least tolerate each other now, being the only two vampires at school.”

“Yeah, whatever. What are the other misconceptions?”

“Well, firstly, aging is one. Whereas it will stop, it doesn't stop right away, rather gradually slows down over a few years before stopping completely. So you and I hopefully won't be stuck as teens forever.”

“Hopefully?”

“It varies, anywhere from one to five years generally, though the younger you are the higher it usually is; we should be fine.”

“Okay… so what else should I know?”

“Well, sunlight isn't as dangerous as the books portray. Just burns right away rather than tans, and makes you feel kinda tired and warm. Which, might I add, also happens to many pale-skinned humans when in the sun anyway. Another thing the book gets wrong is eating. We do only require blood to survive, but that doesn't mean we can't still eat and drink human food; we just don't get hungry for it, and it all tastes pretty bland despite being able to smell it much better. That's why they think garlic is toxic to us by the way; it's not, but it just smells so horribly potent, so we prefer to stay away. No nutrition is derived from food and drink-- rather, we just excrete it all. Well, except for things that get absorbed by blood, like alcohol. That affects us. Er, not that I've tried it or anything… oh, don't look at me like that, Potter. Fine, I have, happy? Let's see, what else… oh, the feeling cold to the touch thing. That only happens when we're low on blood; which, consequently, is the only time most humans interact with vampires, so it's easy to see how that misconception arose. That should be it. ..everything else is what you already know.”

“Everything else? So we can be easily killed by wood stakes and silver? And change people with a mere bite? But wait, why am I still breathing and have a heartbeat?”

“...I'm starting to think you didn't actually read the textbook, did you?”

“Er…”

Malfoy scoffed. “Go read the book. Tomorrow after potions we'll talk to Snape about the situation.”

“What? Why him??”

“He brews the blood potion for me, and now for you. It's a substitute for blood, keeps the hunger at bay. It's what I gave you before. He's the only one at school who knows about me by the way; do try to keep it that way. I'd recommend doing the same. People don't tend to react well to vampires attending school with their kids. Not even Dumbledore knows. I'd recommend not telling him either; Merlin knows what he'll do if he learns that his ‘golden boy’ is now a bloodsucker.”

Now it was Harry's turn to scoff. “Fine with me. Pretty sure Dumbledore hates me now anyway. Don't ask what I did; I have no clue.”

The two headed back to the castle in relative silence. Before going their separate ways, they paused for Malfoy to refresh Harry on the glamour charm to hide “flaws”. They learned it in second year, but of course Harry had forgotten all about it. “And you might want to hide those scars on your wrists, too,” Malfoy said dismissively, as he walked off towards the dungeons.

 

*******

 

Harry collapsed on his four-poster bed, fully expecting to fall right asleep. That was such a trying night he had had, after all! However, he simply couldn't fall asleep… ‘Oh, right, vampires don't do that,’ he remembered, turning onto his side, quietly studying the thin scars on his wrists. Hard to believe they were only from a few hours prior… Harry licked his lips, tongue sliding languidly over his sharp fangs.

Suddenly, the full weight of the situation struck him. “Holy fuck, I'm a vampire!” he loudly proclaimed, forgetting the hour, sitting straight up. 

Someone stirred the next bed over. “Hey, you okay?” the person mumbled sleepily.

“Yeah, just another nightmare, Ron, I'll be fine,” Harry easily lied, getting a snore in response.  When had lying become so easy, so natural?

“Okay,  Harry, calm down, you can handle this,” he muttered quietly to himself. He closed the curtains, habitually casting a silencing charm, as he did every night. Not that he'd need it now… “Oh. Hmm. Guess there is a slight upside to this vampire thing after all; no more nightmares.”

“Mrrrrow!” came the loud reply.

“Whoa!” Harry leapt six feet in the air, quite literally, ending up sitting on one of the bedposts. Wait, sitting on a bedpost..? Holy crap, he had just jumped onto the bedpost.

“Mrow!” Crookshanks said again, jumping onto the bed.

Harry carefully climbed back down.  “Well, this is a rarity. I thought you didn't like me much?” he asked the cat-- or, rather, half-kneazle, but cat was easier to say.

“Mew?” The cat tilted his head, as if to say “Why would you think that?” He leapt off the bed, diving into Harry's trunk, and began pushing things out.

“Hey, what the hell are you doing?!” Harry exclaimed, rushing over to pull Crookshanks away. When he did, the cat had a book in his mouth. His defense against the dark arts book, in fact.

“How did you… nevermind,” Harry sighed, taking the book from the cat. Might as well read about what he apparently is now, since he can't sleep anyway. Or maybe it was a dream, and he'd wake up in the morning, happily human… he brought his hand to his mouth, and gently bit down. “Ouch! Okay, not a dream,” he proclaimed, rubbing his hand, only to realize the wound was already healed, the only indication of it being a tiny drop of blood.

With that, Harry leaned against the headboard, letting the book fall open on his lap and turning to the page on vampires…

“There's surprisingly little in here on them, compared to other creatures,” Harry muttered to Crookshanks,  who was curled up next to him, sound asleep.

What was in there, other than the misinformation Malfoy had debunked, was much different from the muggle perceptions on them. In fact, there was even a whole page dedicated to correcting the muggle beliefs! The things about stakes and silver and whatever else they deemed to be instant death to vampires was all utter baloney. Same for them being invincible; vampires, though extremely quick healers, generally could succumb to most things that would normally kill a wizard, with the exception of non-magical and non-blood diseases. You just had to do a really thorough job of it, because they could heal from most wounds, even seemingly fatal ones, given time and access to enough blood. According to the book, the best thing to do was destroy the heart, because without it the blood cannot flow, rendering healing impossible, and once all the blood flows out, that's it. A vampire who runs out of blood is a dead vampire. Drinking blood was an absolute necessity, since a vampire cannot produce their own blood and their body consumes it for energy; if a vampire doesn't drink, they die once all their blood is used up.

As to the pulse, they did always have one, but, similar to their temperature,  it was proportional to how much blood was in them and how fresh it was. If they were very low on blood, it could be nearly impossible for a human to feel without a stethoscope, which is why the muggles thought they didn't have one. As to breathing, it actually wasn't necessary, but most vampires did it by habit since they had been so used to it as a human, plus it was necessary to talk. If a vampire needed to be silent though, there was no need for breath. Huh. No wonder it was so easy for vampires like Malfoy… and himself... to hide amongst humans.

There were good points too, of course. Vampires were physically powerful-- at full strength, some had been known to leap onto roofs from the ground with ease. Well, that explained the bedpost. Excellent night vision, too, via the same type of eye mechanic cats have. Seemed that was the only enhancement to eyes though;  he would still need his glasses to properly focus. Hearing and smell were also enhanced, but very attuned to blood. If someone was bleeding, and a vampire was getting hungry, all but the blood would be tuned out. Hmm. Was that why Harry seemed to be faintly hearing the heartbeats of his roommates? Ah, but there were some tradeoffs for those enhancements. Taste for everything but blood becomes dulled, yes, that's what Malfoy had told him too… did this mean he couldn't enjoy treacle tarts anymore? And what about butterbeer?

Harry kept reading. Vampires were immune to some magic, but not all. The extent of which spells were effective and which were not was not fully known, but the killing curse definitely didn't work. Well, that was good to know, seeing that that seemed to be Voldemort’s favorite curse, next to the cruciatus curse.  Speaking of which, that had a reduced effect on vampires, since vampires had much higher pain thresholds than humans, at least when it came to physical pain. They were generally immune to temperature, too; that was good to know, seeing as he would have to wear long sleeves in the summer when it was sunny. Or did he? Would sunscreen or spells work?  He'd have to ask Malfoy.


Speaking of sun, it seemed morning was here already, as it was peeking through the window. Harry sighed as his roommates began to stir. Time to see what anguishes today had in store...

Chapter Text

Harry stood in front of the mirror, examining his new appearance. Everything really did look normal at first glance, except for the eyes, which had vertical slits for pupils. With the bathroom light off, they had a faint glow to them, green like his irises; they really did remind him of a cat's eye. He parted his mouth, staring at the two pointed canine teeth. They really weren't that much longer than his regular teeth at all, and still aligned with the rest of them. Harry wondered if they replaced his old canines or if they'd simply morphed; it was most likely the latter, he decided, since he would have probably noticed if any teeth fell out. Hmm. Could they still get cavities? He'd read vampires were immune to many diseases, and of course they could heal wounds, but did those things include teeth damage? Better brush them, just in case.

As he opened the tube of toothpaste, Harry was assaulted with an absolutely horrid smell. “Oh god,” he coughed out, tossing the tube away. He had not been prepared for that; mint must be a bit too strong for a vampire's acute sense of smell. No way was he using that!

“You okay in there, Harry?” he heard Neville call whilst knocking on the door. “You've been in there a while, and I heard coughing.”

“Yeah, I'm fine, be out in a minute!” He quickly rinsed his mouth with water, making a note to ask Malfoy later about what he does for teeth care, and then went towards the door. Right as he was about to open it, Harry remembered the glamour. ‘Crap,’ he thought, ‘not even out of the dorm yet already had a close call.’

“Good morning, Neville!” Harry said, smiling, as he walked by, Neville none the wiser to the hidden fangs and eyes.

As he entered the common room, Crookshanks joined him once again, weaving around his feet.

“Hey Harry!” Hermione greeted him. “Guess what? Hagrid is finally back! Ron and I talked to him last night; Apparently, Dumbledore sent him to look for giants!”

“You went to see Hagrid without me?”

“Well…” she frowned. “I mean, we couldn't find you anywhere, so we figured you just needed time alone or something, after the whole quidditch thing.”

“Ah, right, yeah. Yeah, I guess I did. You could have waited though,” Harry said accusingly.

“Oh, come off it. You would have run to him right away too, if we weren't there,” Ron pointed out, joining them. “Right, let's get breakfast, I'm starving!”

“You're always starving,” Hermione quipped. “Oh! Sorry Crookshanks, you know you can't follow us to breakfast,” she told the cat, nudging him back into the room as they closed the portrait.

*******

Potions class began as expected. Snape sauntered in, immediately sending the class into silence, and somehow managed to take points from Gryffindor within the first five minutes, as usual. All a Gryffindor had to do was breathe around the man, and points would lost, it seemed. Potion instructions appeared on the board, and the class got to work.

They were brewing some sort of fragrance potion that could cause a nasty smell to smell like whatever scent the person smelling it liked most; generally, it was used at places like garbage dumps, where a simple charm can't control odors that strong. In households, odor-eliminating charms were generally used, as they were simpler and didn't cost money.

Harry’s and Ron’s potion wasn't going so well, partly because Harry was nervous about meeting Snape after. Snape didn't seem to act any different to Harry, so he assumed Malfoy hadn't told him, which would make that meeting tougher. Harry hoped Ron wouldn't notice how distracted he was; although, it could be assumed that any potion made when they worked together would fail, so there was a good chance he wouldn't.

“Hey, Harry, you know Malfoy keeps glancing over here; think he's gonna try to sabotage our potion?”

“Er, Ron, I think our potion is already a lost cause,” Harry pointed out, staring at their bright orange potion, which was supposed to be pale blue.

“He looks a bit nervous,” Ron commented. Harry blinked at him. Since when had Ron been so perceptive? “Yeah, he's definitely up to something, better watch your back, Harry.” Oh. It was just Ron’s usual suspicion towards Malfoy’s plots. A suspicion Harry probably would have too, come to think of it, if he didn't know already that he was just nervous over meeting Snape, or so he assumed.

Harry didn't respond. He had suddenly become aware of a faint smell in the room, which seemed to be getting stronger. Looking over at Malfoy, he saw the boy's eyes were now closed, and fists clenched tightly. Harry then closed his eyes too, suddenly feeling a little dizzy.

“Harry?” Ron asked. “You okay, mate? You look a little peaky there.”

“Y- yeah, I'm fine, just felt a little nauseous there.”

“Well, you hardly ate any breakfast,” Hermione piped up. “Maybe you're just hungry.”

Hungry. Crap. That was probably it, Harry realized. It felt similar to last night, and that smell… wait a second. That was blood, wasn’t it? That's why he felt this way, and why Malfoy seemed disturbed too! But where was it coming from? No one seemed to be injured, even though it kept getting stronger.

He was craving it now. Harry wanted blood. He was breathing fast, heart feeling like it would beat right out of his chest. Where was it? He needed it!!

A hand tightly clenched his arm, pulling him away... Someone, probably Ron, called out something about Malfoy... Harry hardly registered this; all he could think about what that delightful smell… his mouth watered at the thought of tasting it…

The classroom door closed, leaving him in the hallway. The smell wasn't here, and Harry began to calm down. Slowly he registered where he was, and who he was with.

“Malfoy? What's going on? Why are we out here? And why was there so much blood in there?”

“So demanding, Potter.” Malfoy rolled his eyes. “You remember what potion we were brewing today, right? What it does?”

“Well, yeah, it makes you smell… oh.”

“There you go.”

“But… if that was just from a potion…” Harry's heart began to race again, but not from blood cravings this time. “Oh god, if that was just from a potion, what's gonna happen around real blood?” His mind was racing, and he began to shake, hugging his arms around his chest. “I- I wanted it. N- needed it. I was ready to bite someone to get it!” He felt dizzy again, on the verge of collapse, as his speech began to slur. “I can't do this! I really can't! I'm gonna kill someone! Oh god, I really will, I really will, I can't control this, this can't be happening…”

“Whoa! Potter, calm down! Seriously!”

Harry just kept muttering, repeating himself, eyes darting every which way, rocking back and forth slightly, still shaking.

“And just what, pray tell, is going on here?” came a cold drawl.

“Professor! I don't know, Potter just started panicking, he just won't stop-- Whoa!” Malfoy grabbed Harry as he nearly fell over, keeping him upright. It looked like he was about to pass out.

“Potter,” Snape said calmly, recognizing what was happening. “Potter, look at me.” He bent down and grabbed Harry's head, forcing him to look him in the eyes. “Calm. Down. You're safe here. There's no need to panic. You're safe. Nothing is going to happen to you…” he repeated this over and over, and Harry's heartbeat and breathing began to slow, the shaking vanishing.

Snape let go, standing up straight. “Malfoy, please escort Harry to the hospital wing, he needs a calming draught. Tell Madam Pomfrey he's had a panic attack.”

“That was a panic attack? Since when do vampires get panic attacks?”

Snape froze for a brief second, then quickly collected himself. “What did you say?”

“Er. Well, you see, sir, we were going to talk to you about that after class… but then that potion…”

“I see. Bring him to my office, class is done for today. I'll be there in a minute,” Snape said, heading back into the classroom.

Malfoy blinked. Well, this certainly wasn't going as planned. He led Harry, who was clinging to him with a glazed look in his eyes, quiet and looking rather flighty, to the office. The office was rather cozy looking, with one side having a generic office desk with two hard chairs in front but the other side adorned with a coffee table, two armchairs, and a small sofa. Malfoy attempted to untangle Harry from him to place him in an armchair, but as that was proving unsuccessful, he settled on using the sofa instead.

Snape joined them after a few minutes, locking the door and raising an eyebrow at the pair.

Malfoy pouted. “He won't let go. Please get him off me.”

Snape glided over to a cabinet. “I'm sure if he knew who he were clinging to, he would let go,” Snape extracted a vial from the cabinet, handing it to Malfoy. “It's a calming draught. Have him drink it, and he should return to normal.”

After a bit of coaxing, Harry drank the potion. The effect was near immediate; the glazed look left his eyes, and he visibly relaxed. Harry looked around, assessing where he was… then realized who he was clinging to, and quickly let go to scoot to the other end of the sofa.

“You okay now, Potter?” Malfoy asked, with a rather curious yet apprehensive look.

“Y- yes, I think so… I, er, had another panic attack, didn't I?”

“This has happened before?” Snape enquired. “When? For how long? ”

“Er, well, since a kid technically, but it used to be rare. Once every few months or so. Ever since the end of last year though it's been happening much more often. A few times a week maybe? When I start to think about things that happened, mostly.”

“And how do you usually deal with them? Who else knows? ” Snape was speaking to him very gently, not at all like he usually did. It was rather disconcerting to Harry. Would Snape use this against him? No, not even Snape would do that; he wasn't Umbridge. He was mean, but still a professor, as well as a member of the Order. Reluctant though he was to do so, Harry could trust him.

“No one at Hogwarts, not anymore... Cedric knew, but only because he witnessed one, before the dragon task. He did what you did. Usually I can tell when one is coming on, and rush to a bathroom to ride it out. It's rarely as bad as this one just was.”

“And who outside of school knows?”

Harry shifted uneasily. “Er. Well, Professor Lupin does. He realized it in third year, by the strength of my reaction to the dementors. Apparently, the reason I was fainting was due to having small anxiety attacks after seeing the flashbacks the dementors brought on.”

“And your relatives? Surely they must know, if you've had them since a child.”

Harry stayed quiet for a moment, looking down at the floor.

“Potter?” Snape prompted.

“Yeah, they know.”

“And how did they help you with them? Did you see a muggle healer? Muggle medicine does have things to help with this, if I recall correctly.”

“I didn't see any healers...theyjustlockedmeinmycupborduntilthenextmorning.” Harry spoke that last part so quickly and quietly he didn't think anyone could properly hear.

“What was that last part, Potter?”

“Er, nevermind, it's nothing.”

“That most certainly is not ‘nothing’!” Malfoy proclaimed. Harry had forgotten he was there; it seemed that, with his vampire hearing, Malfoy caught it all. “What kind of a person locks a child overnight in a cupboard, for any reason, let alone one who just had a panic attack?!”

Harry just looked away sheepishly.

“Potter… No, Harry,” Snape began quietly, things clicking into place. The way he always looked malnourished after the summer holidays. How he jumped more than most would at loud noises and flinched when shouted at. How he never went home during breaks, including Christmas. The faint bruise on his neck that summer, shortly after being brought to Grimmauld Place, which looked suspiciously like finger marks. “That wasn't all they did, was it?”

Harry sighed. No, it wasn't, but did he really have to say anything? Not even Ron and Hermione knew much about it. Well, they probably suspected, he supposed, since they had seen the bars on his window, among a few other select incidents, but they never really said much. Never pushed for info, never asked him much, not like this.

“...I'd rather not talk about it. It's fine, it's nothing I can't deal with. No worse than dealing with everything else.”

Snape raised an eyebrow. “Everything else?”

“You know,” Harry replied dejectedly. “The press attacking me at every corner. People calling me a liar, sending hate mail, or jeering at me in the corridors because of it. Voldemort attacking me every year, and all his death eaters now too. Nonstop detentions with Umbridge for every little thing. Flashbacks to the graveyard. All the nightmares. I had been Floo calling and writing to Sirius, which helped, but then Umbridge shut off the Floo and began reading my letters so that's out too now. The only respite was quidditch, which I'm now banned from for life.”

Malfoy’s eyes widened. “Was that why last night you tried to…?”

Harry was quiet for a moment before answering. “... yeah, I guess so. Don't quite remember too well actually. I guess I was just so upset, and in the heat of the moment I … well, you know. Everything just seemed so hopeless, like whatever I do I'm always screwed.”

“Would you two care to enlighten me upon this situation?” Snape requested, raising an eyebrow at them again. Judging by that last statement, and the fact that Harry was now a vampire-- the glamour had faded quite some time ago, due to all the emotion-- he had a pretty good idea of what had happened, but he'd rather have the full facts. He hoped it wasn't as bad as he feared, though he knew that was a false hope. Malfoy wouldn't do such a thing unless it were the last resort, particularly when it came to Potter. “In as much detail as possible, please.”

Harry bit his lip, then began to speak. “Well…”

“No, I got this, Potter,” Malfoy interrupted. He explained it all to Snape.

When Malfoy finished, Snape was quiet for a moment,contemplating. He again went over to his cabinet, this time taking out a large jug of red liquid. He filled two glasses with it, handing one each to Harry and Malfoy. “I apologize, Potter. If I had known, I wouldn't have assigned that potion today. Now, drink.”

“Is this...blood?” Harry asked tepidly.

Malfoy scoffed. “Seriously? You think Professor Snape would have a large jug of human blood lying around? No, this is the potion I told you about, the entire reason we planned to tell Snape about your condition in the first place.”

“Oh. Right. Er, guess I must still be out of it a bit.” He cautiously took a sip, then, realizing just how hungry he was, downed the potion rapidly, taking big gulps. Snape refilled the glass, which he gulped down too.

Malfoy chuckled. “Satisfied, Potter?”

“Shut up, Malfoy. You seemed quite eager to drink yours too.”

“Well, yes, someone did unexpectedly drink my last vial last night.”

“If you two are finished,” Snape drawled, “You do have more classes today, one, if I recall, being Defense. I do not think the. ..professor. ..of that class would be very conductive to you not showing up, especially without an excuse to tell her, regardless that you were with another professor.” It seemed Snape hated Umbridge just as much as everyone else.

 

*******

 

Harry slipped into Defense class with under a minute to spare. Ron and Hermione looked at him quizzically, obviously wondering where he had been and what he had done to get potions canceled. “I'll tell you later,” he wordlessly mouthed. He'd figure out some lie by then. He was careful to pull his book out without letting anyone see inside his bag; there would be questions if they saw the vials of potions he now carried. Snape had given him enough blood potions to last until next potions class, since he couldn't stop by the dungeons multiple times a day without rousing suspicions, in addition to a few calming draughts in case of another panic attack.

“Hem, hem. Wands away now, children.”

Umbridge was staring at him with a predatory smile, clearly waiting for him to do something else to warrant detention. Harry suspected that at this point the sadistic toad only wanted an excuse to use that damn blood quill.

Chapter Text

The first class of the day Tuesday was Care of Magical Creatures, with the Slytherins. Many of the students moaned when they realized Hagrid had returned; even Harry had to admit that, though he loved Hagrid, Grubby-Plank was a much better teacher objectively, having a more reasonable curriculum that didn't include things which could easily kill them. Harry prayed that Umbridge would not be joining them; Hermione had explained to Harry Hagrid’s story about the giants, and how Umbridge had interrupted them. Luckily the two had borrowed the invisibility cloak, though the pink-clad woman had noted there had been footprints only going one way. That woman was much too shrewd.

“Oy, Harry, been a while!” Hagrid called, gesturing him over.

“Hi, Hagrid.” Those bruises really were brutal. Hermione had warned him about them, but they were much worse than he had imagined. Students were whispering about them, some afraid they were from whatever dangerous creature he would show them today. “Hermione and Ron told me the story.”

“Right, figured the two of ‘em would,” Hagrid replied. “Missed ya teh o’her nigh’. Yeh weren’ in any trouble, were yeh?”

“What? No, of course not! I was just upset from the quidditch ban,” Harry quickly answered. Well, at least part of that was true. “Just needed some alone time.”

“Righ’. Hermione and Ron said yeh nee’ lots o’ that lately. Wha’ abou’ yeh visit me later an’ yeh can tell me wha’ yeh been up ta, huh? Well, looks like e’ryone’s here now, le’s get to it…”

“Alright, class, follow me!” Hagrid bellowed, sauntering into the shadowy forest. Of course, Hagrid would decide to hold his first class back in there. Of course. Why would Harry even expect anything different? Luckily, there was no sign of Umbridge-- yet.

“Watch your eyes,” came a whisper beside him. “Don't get too emotional, or the glamour may fail like it did yesterday. Slits usually don't get noticed before you can put it back, but glowing eyes in darkness will be.”

“Why do you care, Malfoy?”

“Because if you're discovered, I'll soon be too.”

“Ah, of course, caring only about yourself, as usual, why would I even ask?” Harry snapped.

“Shut it, git.”

“Prat.” Harry stomped over to Hermione and Ron. He noted Malfoy seemed oddly calm. Ever since the incident with Buckbeak, he'd always been pretty wary about Hagrid’s dangerous creatures, especially when Hagrid decided to make them a surprise, like today. Guess becoming a dangerous creature himself eliminated that fear.

“What'd Malfoy want?” Ron asked. “You seem a bit annoyed.”

“Eh, just the usual crap,” Harry muttered. He was a little on edge after that, Harry realized. Why was that? The exchange wasn't much different than usual.

The class actually started off pretty well, to Harry's surprise. Hagrid introduced them to thestrals, which only those who had seen-- and processed-- death could see. It appeared as though only Harry, Neville, some scrawny Slytherin whose name escaped him, and, surprisingly, Malfoy could see them. Harry wondered who they had seen die. Harry's ability to see them obviously had been triggered by Cedric. Although he had seen his mother die, an infant couldn't understand such, so it was only after Cedric's death he could. Cedric… the graveyard… Harry's heart began to race… crap, he couldn't have a flashback now, not in the middle of class!

“Hem, hem.” Harry never thought he'd be relieved to see the pink toad, but her appearance had been enough of a distraction to prevent the attack. Unfortunately, that relief was short lived, as Umbridge began to “inspect the lesson”. It went horribly; no matter what Hagrid-- or anyone else-- said or did, she spun it negatively. The Slytherins, particularly Malfoy and Parkinson, we're having a field day with it. Well, mostly. Malfoy seemed to become a bit distracted by the end, periodically glancing at Harry for some unknown reason. By the end of it, Hermione was livid, Neville and Ron seemed to be in an upset confusion, and Harry had his eyes closed, trying to control his rage so he could put the glamour back on-- luckily when it fell he happened to be glaring at Malfoy, whose eyes widened in panic and quickly signaled to Harry to cover his eyes. This happened in under a second, so no one else noticed, to Harry's immense relief. Had Malfoy been glancing over because he anticipated that?

An hour later, they were trudging through the snow, heading back to the castle, Hermione in a long rant about Umbridge.

“Potter, a word?” Malfoy practically demanded, stepping in front of him, looking quite pissed.

“What do you want, Malfoy?” Harry sighed, though he already knew. He did not want to deal with this now…

“In private would be best.”

“Anything you say to Harry can be said to us!” Ron proclaimed.

“No, Ron, it's fine,” Harry told him. “Go on ahead, I'll catch up.”

“If you're sure…” Ron and Hermione walked ahead as Harry fell back.

“So,” Harry began. “I'm assuming this is about my slip-up earlier?”

“You need to learn how to control your emotions! You're extremely lucky I was the only one to notice!” Malfoy appeared to be slightly shaking with anger.

“You're one to talk,” Harry pointed out, with a huff.

“Alright, fine,” Malfoy conceded, his demeanor becoming notably calmer. “But notice how MY glamour is still up. It's controllable. Promise me you'll work on it.”

“Yeah, okay, whatever.”

“I'm serious here, Potter! What do you think will happen if this gets out? The press already hound you enough, but this will be the scoop of the century-- the-boy-who-lived, the one they trust to defeat the Dark Lord, a dark creature himself. You'll be expelled from Hogwarts, with that incorrigible woman in charge. What then? You certainly can't go back to your relatives. You'll be unable to get the potion, forced to drink actual blood from humans-- yes, humans, because animal blood can only sustain you for a short while.”

“Oh, so you suddenly care about me?”

“Not suddenly…” Malfoy said, voice a bit lower. “I told you, I don't hate you.”

“Well, you certainly have a poor way of showing it.”

Malfoy signed. “Okay, fine, here's the deal then: I'll try acting a bit nicer, and you'll work harder on controlling your emotions enough that the glamour stays up.”

Harry thought about that for a moment. He didn't hate Malfoy either, he supposed. Perhaps it would be good to act a little more civil to each other, especially since their arguments often left Harry rather pissed, which was the opposite of emotional control; he really should be trying to work on his emotions anyway, he thought guiltily, since he was sure his anger outbursts were exasperating his friendships. Ron and Hermione tried to be supportive, but lately it seemed like it had been taking a toll on them.

“Okay, deal,” Harry decided. “...and I'll try to be a bit nicer to you too. I don't hate you either.”

Malfoy looked rather surprised at that. “Well then. Good to know the feeling is mutual.”

“Oh, and Malfoy, I have a question I've been meaning to ask. Well, two, actually, after that lesson…”

“Yeah? Well, spit out out, then… I mean, er, what's up?”

“‘What's up?’ Did you just say ‘what's up’?” Harry laughed. “I've never heard you use slang like that! So, being nicer means being more casual, too, then?”

“S-shut up, Potter.” Malfoy blushed. “Contrary to what you seem to believe, purebloods are not always stuffy prats. We can speak quite casually to our friends when we want to.”

“Oh? We're friends now?” Harry raised an eyebrow. They had stopped outside the castle door.

“Whatever,” Malfoy quickly dismissed. “Just ask your damn question.”

“Alright. First one might be a little personal; you don’t have to answer. I’m just curious. Obviously I can see the thestrals because of Cedric. But, why can you? Last year I overheard you wondering how the horseless carriages work. So obviously it was something that happened over the summer… I know you were around Voldemort, maybe even working for him, though I doubt you’d tell me if you were. Did you witness him killing someone? Or, can vampires maybe just see them naturally?”

Malfoy rolled his eyes. “Firstly, do you honestly think I’d be working for the Dark Lord after he forced me to become this? I mean, he apparently somehow thought I would, but clearly he misjudged that one. He threw a muggle in front of me and told me to drink. I turned and ran as far away as I could get-- thank Merlin for vampire speed; the Dark Lord tried to use a killing curse, but that doesn’t work on vampires. If you’re wondering why he didn’t send the one who turned me to chase me, it’s because he had that one imprisoned; despite his best efforts, the Dark Lord has been unable to convince any of the few vampire communities left to side with him, nor individual ones either. They simply don't want anything to do with wizard politics.”

“Well, that’s good to know, I suppose,” Harry commented. “But what about your father? You said turning you was a punishment for him. But surely he can’t still be working for Voldemort after that?”

“Oh, he is. Still thinks I’ll ‘come around’ too; he sends letters trying to convince me, even. I cannot fathom what goes on his his head anymore; I made it quite clear I want nothing to do with it. I’m never going back there. That’s why Snape is helping me-- I was worried at first that he planned to hurt me, or turn me over to the Dark Lord, when he discovered where I was hiding, but then instead he helped hide me, and even confided in me that he actually is a spy working for the Order.”

Harry looked at Malfoy, developing a new respect for him. It seemed he was much more than the obnoxious spoiled brat Harry had taken him for. He always expected Malfoy would follow in his father’s footprints like a good little pureblood boy, not rebel against it all and disconnect himself from the family.

“Anyway,” Malfoy continued. “As to your question about how I can see thestrals. That’s actually quite interesting, and very much connected to you.”

“To me?”

“Yes. You see, even being around the Dark Lord, I didn’t see anyone die. At the start of this year, I still thought the carriages were pulled by magic. The only incident between then and now that’s even remotely related to death had been when I saved you.”

“But, why? I obviously am still alive. Well, sort of. Was it seeing me turn?”

“I doubt it. If that were true, I’d be able to see them already, since I myself turned, and I would think something like that happening to yourself would qualify just as much as seeing it. And vampires aren’t actually dead, like some muggles seem to think they are-- that was in the textbook, wasn’t it? Didn’t you read it?”

“Yes, I read it. It’s just a little difficult to shake some of those muggle myths, as I grew up around them. So if that’s not it, why can you see them, and why because of me?”

“Honestly? I think it was how close you were to death. When I turned you, there was less than a minute left until you died, upon which it wouldn’t have worked. I could tell; I guess vampires can do that. I was in a panic. There was a moment I thought you had died, that I had failed to save you, before I could sense your heart beating again. Hagrid said it’s both witnessing death and processing it; but, perhaps the part about witnessing it isn’t quite as literal as people think. Perhaps it’s experiencing the emotions involved upon seeing someone on death’s door, which extends to thinking they’re dead. They’re rare creatures, after all, meaning not many people see them; it’s possible others can see them who haven’t directly witnessed a death, rather merely found someone right after, or found them in critical condition near death thus thought them dead, and such.”

“I guess that makes sense… er, I haven’t thanked you for that, actually. For saving me. So, thank you, really. It truly was a heat of the moment, unplanned thing, though I had been thinking about dying for a while-- still do a bit, honestly-- but, I really couldn’t do it consciously, since I do have people who care about me, no matter how few. I can’t do that to them.”

“Harry…” Malfoy quietly replied. “I-- you’re welcome. You’re right, people do care. You are worth something, please believe that.”

Harry blushed a bit, unused to Malfoy acting so… kind. “Y-yeah. Moving on… I do have one more question, although it may seem a bit silly.”

“Oh? Ask away, then.”

“Er. Well, what do you do about teeth brushing? Toothpaste smells so awful; I can't even bring myself to open the tube,” Harry admitted.

Malfoy laughed. “Don't worry about that. The venom on our teeth protect from that.”

“Hold on. Venom?! I never read anything about venom!”

“Well, it's not really a venom per se, more of an antiseptic. Prevents stuff from getting in and tainting the blood of whatever we bite, or our own blood when we turn a person since we need to bite ourselves to feed them our blood. That's why it protects our teeth from infections as well.”

“Got it, thanks. Oh yeah, that reminds me of something else I want to ask: the book said that when you're changed the initial bite leaves a scar that doesn't heal. But I didn't see any mark on my neck. Is that a misconception too?”

Malfoy’s face became red at that, to Harry's utter bafflement. “No. That one is true. You have a mark. I do too-- on my neck, of course, they wanted it as obvious as possible-- but I use a glamour for that, like we do with the fangs and eyes.”

Harry was extremely confused now. If not on his neck, where did Malfoy bite him?

Anticipating Harry’s question, Malfoy answered in an uncharacteristically sheepish manner. “Well, I wanted it in a place no one would easily see, so, er…”

No one would see? Harry began to feel very uneasy about that, and somewhat annoyed at Malfoy’s unwillingness to say. “Malfoy, just tell me already.”

“Er, right,” Malfoy sighed and closed his eyes. “It’s, well, on your… er… on your arse.”

“My WHAT?”

“Your arse. The thing that is behind you at the end of your spine.”

“You bit my arse?!”

“Hey, shhh, quiet, Potter, someone will hear!”

Harry blushed. “Right, sorry. Er, so, why exactly did you choose there?”

Malfoy sneered. “I told you, it’ll be easier for you since it’s somewhere no one is likely to see. Would you have rather I bit your inner thigh? Or your c--”

“Okay, okay, I get it!” Harry quickly interrupted. He did not need that image in his mind! “Let’s go now, we’re missing lunch!”

“Aww, did I strike a nerve?”

Harry just huffed and stomped through the door. Malfoy followed him in before striding over to the dungeons, looking quite pleased at the outcome of that conversation, while Harry proceeded to the entrance of the Great Hall, where Ron and Hermione were waiting for him, both looking at him with very curious expressions.

“So, what did Malfoy want?” Ron enquired.

“Er, nothing much,” Harry lied. “Just had some questions about class.”

Hermione raised an eyebrow. “Questions about class? Really, Harry? For that long? And in private?”

“Ah, I guess we kinda got into a bit of an argument too, same as always happens when talking to that spoiled prat.” Harry of course did not consider Malfoy a spoiled prat anymore, not after that conversation, but he didn’t want his friends becoming even more suspicious. “Anyway, I’ll meet you in the common room, Ron. So glad for a free period after that class; Umbridge was a bitch, as always, wasn’t she. Hermione, enjoy Arithmancy.”

“Oh no you don’t, Harry!” Hermione scolded, grabbing his wrist and pulling him into the Great Hall for lunch. “You are not skipping another meal! I haven’t seen you eat one bite all day.”

 

*******

 

Harry had not been too thrilled at lunch. Hermione kept forcing bland tasting food on him, and Ron insisted on pressing more about his conversation with Malfoy. Could he not get it through his thick head that Harry doesn’t always want to share every moment of his life with him, best friend or not? Harry was relieved when lunch was over; all he wanted to do was head to the common room and relax a bit. Oh, and drink his potion. All that food had only exasperated his desire for it, his body angry that he was giving it worthless things rather than the blood he needed.

Of course, arriving at the common room, things were not as relaxing as Harry had anticipated. Fred and George were testing even more products on the first years, some of whom were floating like balloons up on the ceiling, reminding Harry of what he’d done to his Aunt Marge. Seamus, Dean, and Ginny were playing a very loud game of Exploding Snap, in which Seamus’s cards seemed to be exploding at a much higher rate than usual.

Harry was curled up on a couch, Crookshanks in his lap-- the cat had not left him alone since he entered the room-- attempting to read some of his potions book. They had to write twelve inches on the magical uses of chimaera dung, which there were surprisingly many of, by the next day. Harry had decided to make more of an effort in potions class now; Snape provided him with the blood potion, so he did not want to get on that man’s bad side, at least not anymore than he already was.

“Hermione!” Ron called, as the portrait hole opened and she strolled in. “You’re back early!”

“Yes, I had a quiz, and it didn’t last the whole class… are you two actually doing work, without my prompting?” Hermione asked, a surprised yet proud expression on her face. “I’m impressed you’re finally-- WHAT IN MERLIN’S NAME ARE YOU TWO DOING?!”

Fred and George froze. “Er, well, you see--” they stammered, looked at each other, and then made a dash towards their dorms.

“Oh, no you don’t, get back here!” She stormed after them. “You will put those first years back to normal right this instance or--”

“You know, she really sounds like Mum when she acts that way,” Ron commented, eyes wide. “No wonder Fred and George are afraid. Crap, you don’t think she’ll come after me next, do you? Since I’m a prefect and all, yet ignored it… that’s what she did last time…”

Harry chuckled, scratching Crookshanks behind the ear, who was purring. Harry wondered why he had become so friendly towards him. Did it have to do with what Harry was? He would have to go find a book about Kneazles, see if that said anything.

Hermione returned; however, she did not go after Ron as anticipated. Instead, she stood there, staring in a confused manner at Crookshanks, who meowed happily at her, and Harry.

“Er, Hermione, something wrong?” Harry asked. Had his glamour come off again? No, he could still faintly feel it there…

“No, not wrong, just… why is Crookshanks on your lap, purring at that? He never seemed to show any interest before. I’ve only ever seen him get along that well with me and Sirius.”

“You know, I’ve been wondering about that too,” Ron added. “He was very friendly with you yesterday as well. Hey, think he’ll also let me pet him?” Ron strolled over to them, reaching out to pet the cat. He received a sharp hiss and attempted scratch as a result.

“Ron!” Hermione scolded. “You can’t just go up to a cat and pet it unexpectedly like that! You need to go slowly, and let it know your intention, or it’ll think you’re trying to attack.”

“Er, right, got it.”

Hermione sighed, shaking her head. “Seriously, Ron, I must have told you this a hundred time already; do you ever listen? It seems that Harry has, judging by Crookshanks’ attitude.”

“Mrrow!” Came the happy reply from Harry’s lap.

Chapter Text

“Potter. Weasley. Is there a reason you are not paying attention?” Harry and Ron jumped in surprise. Snape stood in front of their table; the two had been so busy chatting that they hadn’t noticed class had started.

“Sorry, sir,” Harry meekly replied. He swore to himself; it had not even been a full day after he had decided to try to do better in potions, yet he was already in trouble with Snape.

“It has come to my realization that the reason for your dismal performance in my class may be due more towards your inability to pay attention when working together as opposed to actual ignorance of the subject. In Potter’s case, at least, since his essays are usually somewhat satisfactory as opposed to blatantly copied from Granger’s.”

“What! I don’t--”

“Weasley. Ten points for interrupting me. Now, because of this, you two will no longer be working together.”

Ron snorted. “Fine then. I’ll take Neville again, Harry can have Hermione, does that work?”

“Granger and Longbottom are already working together, at my request, in an attempt to prevent unnecessary potion explosions,” Snape explained. “If you recall, Weasley, that was decided at the start of term, after you and Longbottom managed to turn half the students in the class bright pink for nearly a full week. No, I will be assigning your partners. Malfoy, Zabini, come here,” he signaled.

 

“What! No! You can’t do this!” Ron complained. Harry, however, was silent. Snape didn’t care about their grades-- or, maybe he did, being a teacher, but that wasn’t the true reason for the partner change. No, the real reason was because of what Harry and Malfoy were, and the situation that arose from it only a few days prior. Had it really only be a few days? It felt like so much longer.

Malfoy and Zabini strolled over, Snape explaining that Malfoy was to work with Harry from now on and Zabini to work with Ron. Malfoy had a bored expression on his face, like he’d expected this, but Zabini looked quite annoyed. “We’ve been working together since first year!” He complained. “Can’t you choose someone else?”

“No, Zabini, I cannot,” Snape replied coldly. “You are two of the best students in the class, and these two definitely need someone monitoring them.”

“But he’ll surely pull my grade down! And he’s so annoying! Can’t I at least get Potter? He’s at least mildly competent.” Harry was surprised at this; he didn’t think anyone would want to choose him over Ron, regardless of the reason.

“Continue to contest this, and I will be forced to take points,” Snape warned. “Now, collect your things; you and Weasley will use this table. Potter, you will move to Malfoy’s table. Please do hurry.” Snape strode to the front of the room, making today’s potion’s instructions appear on the blackboard with a wave of his wand, and instructed the class to begin.

Malfoy, surprisingly, helped Harry carry his things back to the table. Ron did not offer the same to Zabini, who muttered something about rude Gryffindors knowing nothing about proper courtesy as Slytherins did.

Harry and Malfoy initially worked on the potion in silence, but after a while began to make small talk. Harry was surprised to learn that Malfoy was taking Muggle Studies this year. Apparently, he had always been fairly curious about the subject, but never signed up for it out of fear of repercussion from his father; since he was no longer under his father’s control, it no longer mattered which classes he chose. His class was consequently a mix of years from 4th to 7th; a fair amount of students switched their electives each year, it seemed. So that’s how Harry ended up chatting with Malfoy,of all people, about muggle technology.

“Wait… so you’re telling me that muggles have found a way to stick all the information a library has into a little box they can put on a desk? And they have another box that shows moving pictures like ours, but with scenes lasting for hours, or even things happening right that moment? And boxes that connect to that box that allow you to control the pictures in the box? And they have this thing on the wall they can use to talk to each other instantly, with no need to uncomfortably stick your head in a fireplace and shout for them?” Malfoy stared at Harry in utter disbelief. “You’re pulling my leg, right?”

“Nope. Muggles really do have all that. I was really surprised, when I got here, to find that wizards are rather behind on a few fronts, despite having magic.”

“Wow. Just, wow. Maybe wizards should study muggle things a bit more, then-- if we apply magic to those things, who knows what we could make! Telephones that also show your face with your voice, or a computer thing that fits in your pocket! Or even just combine them all into one thing!” Malfoy’s eyes seemed to sparkle.

Harry laughed. “I don’t know about sticking them all together, but I definitely agree with you on the rest! Wow. I never expected to be talking about muggle things with you, of all people, Malfoy.”

“I am quite surprised myself. Also, call me Draco.”

“Draco.” Harry tried the name out. Hmm. He quite liked how that rolled off his tongue. “Okay. Call me Harry, then.”

“Will do, Po- Harry.” Draco smiled. He held out his hand, as he had in first year. “Friends?”

“Friends,” Harry agreed, taking his hand, smiling as well. He wondered how different things would have been if he’d accepted it first year; Draco had turned out to be quite a bit different than Harry initially thought, it seemed.

Harry glanced over at their potion. “Er, Mal- Draco?”

“Yes, Harry?”

“Is the potion supposed to be neon green and rumbling?”

“Crap.” The two dove to the floor as the potion exploded, covering half the class with a flubber-like goop.

 

*******

 

Harry, Ron, and Hermione visited Hagrid that evening, and as usual ended up heading back after curfew. Instead of using the cloak, though they did have it with them just in case, they monitored the hallways via the Marauder's map. Now that they were older, trying to all squeeze under the cloak and walk at the same time was a recipe for disaster.

“Hold up a sec,” Harry whispered, referring to the map. “Under the cloak, now, it’s Mrs Norris!”

Harry threw the cloak over them-- well, tried, anyway. Unfortunately, in his eagerness to do so, he ended up losing his balance. The cloak covered Ron and Hermione, but Harry was left sprawling on the floor.

“Mew?” Came a sound from behind him.

Harry swore silently, remaining as still as possible. Maybe if he didn’t move, she wouldn’t notice? Cats were more attuned to movement, after all…

“Mew!” Nope. Now she was right next to him… rubbing his head? What? Harry sat up and double-checked the map. Yes, this was definitely Mrs Norris-- not that he really needed to check the map, seeing how many run-ins they’d had with her. He absentmindedly began to pet her head, and she began purring.

“Er, Harry? You do know you’re petting Mrs Norris, right, mate?” Ron pulled the cloak off the two.

“I mean, she’s being nice, and hasn’t called Filch yet, so why not?”

Mrs Norris then noticed Ron and Hermione, hissed, and ran off, presumably to Filch.

“So much for that,” Harry sighed. “Thought for once we’d get away easily.” The three dashed off, somehow making it back to the tower without further incident.

 

*******

 

The next week passed largely without incident. A few close calls with the glamour, but Harry had been mostly able to focus enough to keep it up even when emotional-- the problem, however, was when Voldemort got emotional. If he felt an especially strong pain in his scar, the glamour would fall without fail. Luckily though, he always closed his eyes in pain when this happened, so there was no chance anyone could see it before he got the glamour back up.

Draco had managed to teach him how to do the glamour wandlessly. That made it the first wandless spell he’d ever learned-- and probably the only one he would, Harry told himself dejectedly. He honestly believed he wasn’t that good, even though many people said he was, assuming they were probably just deluded from the whole boy-who-lived stuff, glorifying what he could actually do. The tournament last year was more a fluke than anything, mostly a bunch of dumb luck, in Harry’s opinion.

Harry and Draco were becoming fast friends. They talked eagerly in potions class, which, to Snape’s chagrin, caused a number of mishaps-- somehow, they never lost any points for those though, despite Ron and Blaise losing many for Gryffindor and a few for Slytherin for similar issues. They even worked together some in Hagrid’s class, when partners were needed, to Hagrid’s, Ron’s, and Hermione’s complete bafflement. They still didn’t meet up outside of class though, not yet.

Miraculously, Harry had managed to avoid detention with Umbridge entirely the whole two weeks since turning. He hoped he wouldn’t get it again, but he knew well enough he wasn’t that lucky. It would be a huge issue though-- she always checked if the cut was deep enough, but with vampire healing, it would most likely never be, assuming the quill wasn’t charmed to counteract such. He knew non-magical cuts always instantly healed on him now, sometimes before any blood could even slip out-- he had tried that quite a bit, seeing as he had previously used it sometimes to cope, but now what had been nice sharp pain that persisted was barely a sting that lasted under a second before the skin returned to normal. He had to cut really deep to see any blood at all and feel the comforting pulse of the wound, but even that healed within a minute. However, he did find a bit of comfort licking up any blood that seeped out. It was tasty. Not quite the same as a human’s, but better than the potion. Although, he didn’t know what human blood actually tasted like, of course-- but the smell was delightful. Someone had cut themselves in potions yesterday, and Draco had had to hold him back.

Now, Harry found himself walking into Hogsmeade with Ron, Hermione, Neville, Ginny, and Luna. The day was nice and cloudy; the others were complaining, since it had been sunny earlier that week, warm enough to melt a large portion of the snow, despite it still being November. Harry, however, was pleased with the weather. Although they were all dressed for the cold more or less, Harry didn’t want to take unnecessary risks. However, it did end up being a bit nippier out than anticipated; the cold didn’t bother Harry, but he did have on a much lighter coat than the others. Hopefully no one would notice.

“Harry, aren’t you cold?” Hermione asked, concerned. Well, so much for that.

“Don’t worry, it’s fine, I’m not cold,” Harry assured her.

“But you’re not even wearing a scarf… you’re not catching a fever, are you?” Hermione moved to feel his head, but Harry squirmed away. Chances are he’d be a bit colder, not warmer, but that would probably concern her just as much.

“Oh, don’t worry, Hermione,” Luna piped up. “If Harry had a fever, he’d be surrounded by fiddlyfraks. Right now, there’s only wrackspurts, though there are quite a few more of those than usual.”

“Er, Luna, remind me what those are again?” Harry requested, attempting to steer the conversation to a different direction.

“Wrackspurts make your brain all fuzzy. You have a lot right now. Probably because you’re confused about your sexuality; that often leads to large wrackspurt infestations.”

Everyone stopped walking to stare at Luna and Harry, the former which was now quietly humming a lullaby and the latter who had frozen in place, mind racing. “Er, Luna, what are you talking about? I like girls, always have, always will.” He informed her, collecting himself.

“You do?” Luna replied dreamily. “Are you sure about that?”

“Of course! I even went to the Yule Ball with one!”

“Yes, but you didn’t seem to like her very much.”

“That doesn’t mean I dislike girls in general, Luna.” Harry told her. Phew. So that’s where the misconception had been.

Luna just looked confused. “But then why did you keep watching Cedric during it?”

“Er…” Harry blanked. He hadn’t been watching Cedric that much, had he? No way. Besides, he had been wearing a good looking outfit, anyone would notice that. That’s all it was. Not Cedric himself.

“Oh!” Ron jumped in, laughing. “It was probably Cho he was looking at, Luna. Remember? She was Cedric’s date.”

“Cho? Are you sure?” Luna seemed quite skeptical.

“Yes! Yes, that’s it, Cho,” Harry proclaimed. “I was looking at her.”

“He fancies her,” Ron clarified. “Tried asking her to the ball himself.”

Luna didn’t seem convinced. “No, I’m pretty sure--”

Ginny laughed. “Guys, calm down. Luna says these odd things about everyone.”

“They’re not odd!” Luna complained.

“It’s okay, Luna,” Neville told her quietly, putting an arm around her shoulders. “Some people just take a while to accept things. He’ll figure it out someday.”

Now everyone was looking at Neville oddly.

Neville blushed, realizing this. “Anyway, let’s keep walking, it’s getting cold and I’d like a butterbeer before they run out.”

At the Three Broomsticks, Harry discovered that Butterbeer was still fairly pleasurable though apparently had to be limited now since he had begun to feel it after only two-- Draco had been right about alcohol still affecting him, but he never mentioned it would give him the tolerance of a house elf! Or, maybe that was just because he hadn’t eaten anything that day; he heard that could affect tolerance greatly.

After that, they stopped by Honeyduke’s, as usual, before splitting up. Luna, Ginny, and Neville first went to get some new quills, and then look at magical plants as per Neville’s request. Harry, Ron, and Hermione meandered about, no particular destination in mind, so naturally ended up in front of the Shrieking Shack.

“Seriously?” Ron whined. “Why this place? We seem to end up here every time!”

“It’s not so bad,” Harry mused, distractedly.

“Not so bad? Harry, are you daft?”

“Well, I mean, this is where I learned about Sirius and stuff, so yeah, not so bad.”

“You know, he is right, Ron,” Hermione told him. “We’ve been in it before, and came out fine.”

“I seriously question your definition of fine at times,” Ron muttered. “Harry, could you please stop with the blood pops? That’s your fourth one! How can you even eat those things?”

Harry wasn’t paying much attention as he continued unwrapping the candy.

“Hey, mate, you there?” Ron waved his hand in front of Harry.

“Er. Sorry. They’re just so good…”

“Good? Those? I seriously question your taste…”

Hermione merely watched the exchange with a somewhat shrewd expression. “Hey, it’s getting late, let’s head back before we miss dinner,” she decided.

Harry was grateful for that. He had forgotten to bring a blood potion with him, and was getting quite hungry. The lollipops didn’t really do much-- there wasn’t real blood in them, just the flavor mixed with the typical tangy sweetness of any lollipop. Certainly tasty, just not something to hold him over, as Harry had hoped.

“Harry? You okay?” Hermione asked. “You look a bit pale; you sure you don’t have a fever?” Harry froze; she had managed to get her hand on his forehead in his distraction. “Oh my! You’re freezing! You really should have worn a thicker coat,” she scolded.

Harry shrugged her off, then froze. Blood. He smelled blood. Harry glanced around, trying to ascertain where the mouthwatering smell was coming from. Wait, no. No, he needed to get back to the castle, get a potion; he couldn’t attack a human! There. There it was, just a bit further ahead. A young girl had tripped, skinning her knee pretty badly. The blood smelled so sweet, so inviting; he had to have it. He had to have it… a part of him was still trying to fight, but the rest of him wanted it so, so, so badly… just one bite wouldn’t hurt, would it?

“Harry!” Someone called out, but he ignored it. He was so close, just a little further, the human child didn’t even notice he was there...

Someone grabbed him, pulling him into a nearby alley, snapping him out of the trance-like state he’d been in. Harry tried to struggle, but the person had wrapped their arms around him from behind, rendering that useless. Wait, what? He was a vampire, escaping should be easy… oh. That wasn’t a human; that was Draco, he’d know that scent anywhere. “Harry, what the hell do you think you’re doing?!”

“I, er, I really don’t know,” Harry admitted. “I smelled the blood, and then I was there… oh, crap; where’s Ron and Hermione? Did they see what I was doing? Do they suspect anything? Crap, the glamour is gone now, too, do you think they saw? And that smell, god, that smell is still here, it’s so close by…”

Draco pulled Harry deeper into the alley. “Relax, they saw nothing. The Weasley Twins showed up when you began to wander, with some stupid pack of first years who were chirping like birds; Granger set off towards them with an angry look. Harry? Hey, are you paying attention?”

“Huh? What were you saying? It’s hard to concentrate with that smell still so strong...”

“Smell? What-- Harry, you’re freezing cold! When was the last time you drank?”

“I had a butterbeer around noon…”

“No, not butterbeer! Blood! When did you last have the potion?”

“The potion…?”

“Yes, the potion.”

“Oh, right, the potion. Sometime this morning? Or was it last night? Then I forgot to bring some along for lunch… I didn’t think it’d be such a big deal though…”

“Okay… well, I doubt it was this morning; you’re too cold for that. Plus, you have been outside all day doing things, which uses more energy, and your blood is your energy... You need more, as soon as possible. And not from that girl, from the potion. Let’s go.” Draco headed back towards the alley’s exit.

Harry just stood there, in a daze, barely processing what Draco had said. The smell was still everywhere. Why wouldn’t Draco just let him have it? Just a sip, the girl would be fine...

“Harry? Hey, Harry, did you hear me? Let’s go.” Draco prompted.

“Huh? Oh, right, yeah, I’m coming,” Harry mumbled. He stumbled forwards, taking two steps before slipping on a stray bit of snow that hadn’t quite finished melting-- the snow had melted from the places sun can reach, but there was still quite a bit of it in shady areas, like the alley.

“Harry!” Draco called out, catching Harry before he hit the ground… and then promptly slipping on the same patch of snow, dragging them both down. He sighed; instead of standing up, he scooted over to sit against the wall of the building next to them, pulling Harry over with him, who still was in a daze. “Harry.” Draco spoke quietly. “You okay? What’s wrong?”

“I feel a little lightheaded… so hungry… can still smell that girl’s blood… Draco, I don’t know if I can make it to the castle without attacking someone…”

“Then have some of mine; it’ll hold you over until we can get back. Just a little though! Take too much, and I’ll be in the same situation as you, since I haven’t had anything for a while as well.”

Harry’s eyes widened considerably. “Yours? Are you sure…?”

Draco rolled his eyes. “Yes, I’m sure, or I wouldn’t have offered. Here, get on with it,” he said, holding out his wrist.

Harry didn’t go for the wrist. Instead, he tackled Draco, fangs digging deep into his neck. “Ah! Harry…” Draco moaned, as Harry drank eagerly. Draco let him for a bit longer than necessary before reminding him to control himself. “Hey… er, although this feels surprisingly nice... it might be a good time to stop now... unless you want me having to drink some of your blood, too…” Harry took a few more gulps before finally letting go.

“Thanks,” Harry smiled broadly. “I feel a lot better now; let’s head back, and we’ll get that potion. ...Draco? Draco, you okay? Crap.”

Now Draco was the one in the daze. Harry began to panic. What had he done?! Harry barely remembered what had happened, but somehow he had ended up biting Draco, taking his blood, and now Draco was--

“Harry,” Draco said, putting his hand on Harry’s shoulder. Please, calm down. It’s okay. I’ll be okay. Just… okay, I don’t think I can really stand right now, so I’ll need to take some of that blood back, is that okay? Wrist is fine.”

“Yeah, of course, here,” Harry was now the one holding out his wrist for Draco.

Draco smiled mischievously. “On second thought…” Draco pounced. Harry let out a gasp as he felt the fangs dig into the soft flesh of his neck. Why did that feel so good? Draco only had a few sips before stopping; Harry found himself a bit disappointed. Draco, still on top of Harry, noticed this. “Enjoy that, Harry?”

Harry blushed. “I-If you’re satisfied, we should probably head back now; any later, and they might send people to search. It’s already well into dinner.”

“True,” Draco laughed. “Plus, now we both really need that potion; how did you even manage to get that low on blood?” Draco stood up, holding out his hand.

Harry took the hand, letting himself be helped up. “I didn’t know I needed it that frequently, honestly! The book said feeding was needed every few days, not multiple times a day.”

Draco rolled his eyes as they began walking. “I thought we established the book isn’t always fully correct? Fully draining a human will last a mature vampire for days, yes. However, for the first few weeks after turning, a vampire needs roughly twice as much. Surviving on the potion is different, though. To hold off the hunger, a vampire using the potion requires it at least daily, preferably twice, more when they’re new like you are.”

Harry snorted. “It’d have been nice to know this earlier.”

“You were told to take the potion to replace every meal-- that’s thrice per day. You should have felt hungry if you skipped, so I didn’t think you’d actually do so!”

“Well, I guess I was a bit hungry…”

“You guess?” Draco looked utterly baffled. “How can you not know?”

“Er, well, I’m kinda used to hunger, so I don’t really notice,” Harry replied sheepishly.

“Used to it? How are you used to hunger? You can have all you want at the Great Hall everyday. Unless…” Draco narrowed his eyes. “Does this have to do with your muggle relatives?”

Harry turned away. “Just, forget about it, okay, Draco? I’ll remember to drink more often, I promise.”

Draco didn’t say anything, but he would not forget about it-- Harry could not return to those muggles! Dumbledore must know, right? How could he not? But Harry seemed to avoid any discussion on Dumbledore so far, so Draco decided it’d be best not to bring it up. He’ll talk to Snape about it later.

As they reached the castle, about to open the door, Harry realized they were still holding hands. He blushed, and let go, mumbling “sorry” as he opened them. Draco chuckled a little at that.

“Mew,” came a sound as they headed into the dungeons, towards Snape’s office. Mrs Norris.

“Okay, what the heck is going on?” Harry wondered aloud, as she began weaving around the boys’ legs. “Why do cats suddenly seem to love me?”

“You too?” Draco asked. “Huh, weird. Same happened to me.”

“Another thing the books don’t mention?” Harry mused. “Hermione’s cat suddenly loves me too. Well, half-kneazle. Do you think Mrs Norris is too?”

“No, pretty sure she’s just a normal cat.”

Upon reaching Snape's door, knocking, and getting no answer, the two realized he was probably at dinner.

“Do you think you can wait, Harry, or do you need it now? I’ll be fine, but you’re looking like you need some asap, again.”

“I don’t know. I am feeling a bit woozy. Is this what it’s like to feel drunk?” Harry wondered.

Draco laughed loudly at that. “Not quite… although, if you want to see, I do have some firewhisky in the dorm…” He grabbed Harry’s hand again and began walking towards the Slytherin dorm.

Harry’s eyes widened. “I-- er-- yeah-- er-- I mean-- I don’t know-- er-- shouldn’t we get the potion first?”

Draco smiled mischievously. “First? So you do want to try some, then?” He took Harry’s blushing silence as a yes as he led him through the hidden door into the common room, down some steps, and through another door into a dorm room that looked similar to the Gryffindor one with the exception that it was square, decked in green and silver, and the window looked into the lake.

Harry, feeling somewhat dazed again, finally realized where they were. “Er, Draco? Why are we in your room?” He asked.

“Because I have both blood potion and firewhisky here,” Draco informed, as he poured two glasses from a pre-mixed jug. He handed one to Harry. “Here. Call it my version of a Bloody Mary.”

“Bloody Mary?” Harry asked, sitting next to Draco on his bed,sipping the drink. He felt a rush of euphoria unlike he’d felt before. The blood potion invigorated him, but he also felt a nice warmth running through him-- that must have been the firewhisky part. “Whoa…”

“Good, right? Bloody Mary is a drink that’s typically tomato juice and alcohol, but I substituted the juice with the potion.” He had already finished his own glass, Harry noted. Actually, it seemed he had, too. “Here, there’s plenty to go around,” Draco told him, refilling their glasses.

After a bit, the two were laughing mirthfully, hyped up on the potion and firewhisky combination. Somehow, Harry had ended up leaning against Draco, who now had his arms wrapped around Harry. They looked at each other, faces inches apart, staring into each other's eyes. Harry’s heart beat faster. Draco smiled, and Harry’s gaze travelled to those lips, wondering what it’d be like to feel them against his…

Harry froze? What was he thinking? That was wrong! Draco would hate him if he did that. Harry didn’t want to lose the fragile friendship they had just started building. He thought back to what Luna had said earlier… no! No, there was no way… he couldn’t… Harry thought about all the nasty things his aunt and uncle had said about that kind of thing, the beating they had given when he was ten and let slip he thought a boy in his class was cute. It was wrong, they said it was wrong… but, did wizards think that too…? He thought of Ron’s reaction to Luna, laughing it off and assuming he’d just been looking at Cho. Yes, wizards must think the same. This wasn’t natural, wanting to kiss the boy in front of him…

“Harry? What are you thinking?” Draco asked, putting his hand under Harry’s chin and tilting it up so their eyes locked once again. His expression was one of playfulness. Did Draco actually want this too? No, it must be the firewhisky talking...

“Draco, I--”

“Whoa. What is going on here?” Came a voice from the doorway.

“Blaise!” Draco proclaimed in surprise, face turning nearly as red as the potion. Harry was sure his was too, as he jumped away from Draco and dashed out the door, despite Draco’s efforts to call him back.

Chapter Text

A week or so passed, moving them into December, with nothing changed. Blaise hadn’t said a word about finding Harry and Draco in the Slytherin dorms together-- Harry had a sneaking suspicion blackmail had been involved-- and luckily no one else had yet returned from dinner, leaving the common room empty as Harry dashed out. Draco didn’t mention that night, other than an off-hand comment about Blaise not being a problem, which Harry was grateful for, although he did seem a bit more flirty than usual. Or was Harry imagining that? He must be imagining that. Even if Draco swung that way, there was no reason he’d like Harry, of all people, right? Harry wondered if anyone could ever like him like that. Probably not; he hadn’t even been able to get a proper date for the Yule Ball last year-- the Patil twins had only said yes as a last resort, Harry thought. He saw Draco in classes as usual, nothing changing about their friendship.

However, though he tried not to think about it, Harry was still very much confused about his feelings for Draco after what had transpired that night. He had initially attributed them to the firewhisky and euphoria from satiating the hunger, but they had persisted beyond that. Laying awake in bed at night-- there wasn’t much to do when everyone was asleep, other than homework and reading; Hermione had been very delighted to see he was actually doing work-- his thoughts would drift to Draco. Sometimes, his face would even appear while beating one off! Harry was so confused. He had a crush on Cho, right? He was supposed to be thinking of her in that context, not Draco! Even when Harry bit himself-- which he had found was a fair alternative to what he used to do to distract himself from negative thoughts, although still not quite the same-- his thoughts would drift to Draco, to those vague memories of drinking each other’s blood. The euphoria from that had felt almost erotic… but, no, that couldn’t be right. He was just hungry, that was it. It was just relief from finally getting blood, nothing to do with who it was, right?

Harry found himself wandering around the lake. It was sunny out, but that was fine since Harry had on winter clothes-- not that he really needed them, but people would be suspicious if he wandered around in below-zero temperatures without a coat. Like Draco said, it was merely the same as how some humans burned quicker than others; it wasn’t fatal at all, simply uncomfortable, and a little tiring. Besides, sunscreen spells worked, so he’d be fine even without a coat. Only annoying thing was that it was a little difficult to see in the brightness, but Harry had long ago learned a neat charm to give a sunglass effect to his glasses, as it had been needed for sunny quidditch days. Quidditch… Harry’s mood damped further.

“Hello, Harry,” a dreamy voice called to him, from under a nearby tree. “What brings you here?”

“Hi, Luna. Just wandering, thinking about things; there’s a lot on my mind lately.”

“Yes, I can tell. Your wrackspurt collection has grown significantly.”

Harry sighed. “Yes, it has, I suppose.” He sat down next to Luna. Maybe she could help him sort things out. “You’re not too busy, are you? Mind if I talk to you a bit?”

“Is it about Draco?”

“Er. What? How did you…”

“Well, it is quite obvious he fancies you, and from your blush, I’d say you fancy him as well. It’s nice.”

“Ah, well, yeah, I guess I might like him, a little bit… b-but, just as friends! I mean, we’re both boys; it’s not right.”

“Whyever would you say that, Harry? Why would that matter?” Luna looked at Harry curiously.

“Er, well…”

“Is it those muggles you grew up with? The ones who are mean to you?”

“What! How do you know about that?!”

Luna smiled. “I’ve seen them drop you off at the station before. Their heads are filled with gerumities, which only appear in bad people, and you always leave them as soon as possible without a goodbye.” Luna was much more perceptive than people gave her credit for, Harry noted.

“Ah, right. Well, yeah, they always said it was wrong, and if I ever said anything even suggesting I might like boys, they punished me almost as badly as they would if I had mentioned magic. A lot of muggles think it is wrong, not just them. Wizards do too, don’t they?”

“No, Harry, that’s incorrect; wizards do not care about whom you love… well, when it comes to gender,” Luna said sadly. “Blood status, as you know, is more the problem. I was teased for a while because I kissed a girl who was part veela. She was in town on holiday two summers ago.”

Harry was surprised at this information. “Don’t let that bother you, Luna,” he consoled her. “You can kiss whom you want. I won’t judge you, at least.”

“Thank you, Harry… but isn’t that what I was just explaining to you?” She smiled.

Harry was quiet for a while. Was it really true? Wizards were completely fine with two boys liking each other? Harry had thought wizards were behind the times when it came to many things, but apparently this was not the case for this. In the muggle UK, the law had only just the previous year lowered the age of consent for homosexual acts-- from 21 to 18. Big change there. Harry assumed it’d be even worse in the wizarding world, but from how Luna spoke of it, no one even cared. “So… it’s really okay? The press won’t slander me? I won’t be arrested?”

“What? Of course not, Harry! Is that what the muggles do?”

“Er. Sometimes.”

“Oh wow. The muggles really are behind on things, aren’t they?” Luna mused. “But it’s okay. You are the same species, after all.”

Harry felt so relieved. “Thanks, Luna,” he told her. This meeting had been very enlightening. His feelings were fine, all that mattered was… wait. Why had Luna said they were the same species, not humans? Did she know? No, she couldn’t, could she? It was just Luna’s odd phrasing of things.

“You are Draco would be very cute together…” Luna told him dreamily.

Harry blushed. “Er, thanks… I gotta head back now, but thank you so much, Luna, for this conversation.” He quickly hugged her before standing up. “I really, really do appreciate it.”

“Any time, Harry,” Luna smiled.

 

*******

 

Before Harry knew it, it was time for the last DA meeting before the holidays. He had invited Draco to them a few weeks ago, but sadly the blonde had declined, stating that he probably would not be very welcomed at all by the other attendees. Harry reluctantly acknowledged this; though his close friends had realized he and Draco had become friendlier-- especially as they had been hanging out outside of class on occasion, mostly at the library-- they barely approved of it, Ron often going on about how Draco must have some nefarious purpose in mind and that Harry should keep his guard up.

Harry was conflicted about the holidays. He had been invited to The Burrow, and agreed to it, but that left both Sirius-- whom he hadn’t spoken to in a while, due to Umbridge’s watchful eye-- and Draco alone for the holidays, the former stuck at Grimmauld Place and latter stuck at Hogwarts, both for their protection. The Burrow was safe too, so maybe he could convince them to let Sirius come, but he didn’t dare ask them about Draco.

Luna entered the Room of Requirement just as Harry had finished taking down Dobby’s special decorations donned with his face. “Hello, Harry. Did you make a move on Draco yet?” She asked bluntly.

“I- Er- what?”

“Draco. You two have become quite close. I saw you leaving the dungeons together the other day. Well, you were under the cloak, but your wrackspurts give it away.”

Harry wondered if Luna’s wrackspurts were more than just a myth. It was true-- in the time since he had talked to Luna by the lake, Harry had been to the Slytherin dorm a few times, drinking firewhisky and overall just having a good time. Some of the other Slytherins had even joined them, to Harry’s surprise. Namely, Blaise Zabini and Daphne Greengrass of their year, and Adrian Pucey, who was a seventh-year, chaser of the quidditch team-- one of the few Slytherin players whom had never made a foul that he had seen, if Harry could recall correctly-- and Daphne’s boyfriend. The three were surprisingly nice-- although, come to think of it, Harry had never interacted with them much before, so his assumption that they weren’t nice was probably just house prejudices slipping in. Only those three knew about Harry visiting here; they promised not to tell anyone, and Slytherins were good at keeping promises. Harry had asked Draco about why he no longer hung with Crabbe, Goyle, and Parkinson, as he had in past years-- Draco informed him that he had intentionally distanced himself, since the first two essentially had been instructed by their parents to friend him due to his father, and Pansy was now constantly attempting to get into his pants, which Draco did not want at all. Daphne’s cat, Shadow, often hung out there too, on either Harry or Draco’s lap when possible. Harry wondered what it would have been like if the hat had sorted him there. He loved Gryffindor, but it often got too rowdy around their common room and dorm, whereas the Slytherins seemed more subdued. Harry liked having this kind of quiet sometimes.

“Harry?”

“Oh, right. No, I haven’t yet. It’s quite nerve-wracking…”

“That’s such a shame... you two are so adorable...”

At that, the rest of the DA began to file in. Harry got in a very slight row with Angelina, who had finally replaced his, Fred’s, and George’s quidditch positions-- she still was pretty angry about them getting banned, and apparently the new beaters weren’t very good, although Ginny was seeker, so there was some hope there. Harry felt he had contained his anger quite well during that, slipping out just enough to show he was annoyed with her for suggesting he hadn’t cared about the team but not enough to exasperate her own anger. His emotional control was getting much better, almost like a Slytherin’s. Harry again wondered if the hat had had the right idea initially.

The meeting overall went extremely well; they practiced what they had learned thus far, Harry happy to note there was significant improvement. Afterwards, he informed them that they’d work on Patronuses after the holidays, which they all cheered at. Harry stayed to clean up as everyone filed out, and soon it was only him and Cho left in the room.

“Er, Cho, it’s time to leave…”

Cho burst into tears. Harry attempted to comfort her, letting her cry but only half-listening as she talked… about Cedric. The boy whom he, Harry had finally admitted, had had a crush on, and whom had also been her boyfriend. He understood her feelings more than she knew… but of course he couldn’t tell her that. It was all he could do to control his anxiety over it, but somehow he managed. That was good; perhaps he was making progress on that front.

Finally, she stopped crying. Cho complimented him on his teaching skills, which Harry was grateful for, but he had a sneaking suspicion that she wasn’t hanging back just for that. This suspicion was confirmed once she pointed out that he was standing under the mistletoe. Harry froze, not quite sure how to handle this situation. Obviously, she expected a kiss. Would on the cheek work? Harry didn’t want to kiss Cho; he had said he’d liked her in the past, but now he knew that she had just been an excuse for him to hide the fact that he liked boys, which according to Luna he no longer needed to do.

Before he knew it, Cho was on him, lips pressing up against his. She was crying again. Harry pushed her off, tempted to make a face of disgust but resisting. “I’m sorry,” he muttered, looking down, and then dashed out the door, leaving behind a very confused and upset Cho.

 

*******

 

“What’s wrong, Harry?” Hermione asked, closing her book, when he collapsed on the sofa next to her and Ron. “Did something happen with Cho? I noticed she stayed behind…”

“Yeah,” Harry admitted, his voice was flat. Crookshanks had already settled into his lap, as usual. “First, she broke down crying, wanting to talk about Cedric. Then… then she kissed me.”

“Finally!” Ron proclaimed. “So, how was it? It was your first kiss, right?”

Harry glared at Ron. Did he have to remind him of that?

“Er, Harry? You okay? That’s not exactly the reaction I expected…”

“It’s because he didn’t want to,” Hermione told him. “Right, Harry?”

Harry nodded his head. He wasn’t surprised she had realized that; Hermione was very perceptive.

Ron, however, seemed shocked at Hermione’s words. “What? But you’ve liked her for a while, right? You even asked her to the Yule Ball.”

“Well, I thought I liked her, but… well...” Harry looked away.

“Well, what? Come on, mate, don’t leave us hanging!”

Harry blushed. “Er-- well-- I-- Er-- Luna was right.”

Hermione beamed. “Oh, Harry, I was wondering when you’d finally realize!” She hugged him.

Harry blinked. “You knew?”

“Yes, well, I didn’t exactly know, but I strongly suspected. What Luna said basically confirmed it though; she’s never wrong about these things, you know.”

“Wait. Never wrong about what?” Ron asked.

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Honestly, Ron, you can be so dense at times.”

“I don’t like girls, Ron.” Harry told him bluntly.

Ron blinked. “Seriously? I would have never guessed! When did you figure that out?”

“After Luna said something, I would assume,” Hermione answered for Harry.

“Yes,” Harry confirmed. “I didn’t want to believe it at first-- the muggle world, well, it doesn’t approve very much of boys liking boys. But Luna explained to me that the wizarding world isn’t like that, and helped me to accept it.”

“Well then, that’s great, Harry!” Ron proclaimed. “Er, but wait… then it really sucks that Cho was your first kiss.”

“Ron!” Hermione scolded, as Harry just gave him another glare.

“Er, right, shouldn’t mention that, got it.”

Harry sighed, standing up and moving Crookshanks to Hermione’s lap instead. “I’m gonna head to bed, night,” he said, heading towards the dorm room.

“Wait,” Hermione called. “You didn’t just leave Cho standing there, did you?”

Harry froze. “Er…”

She sighed, rolling her eyes. “Boys. Honestly…”

Chapter Text

“Thestrals,” Harry whispered to the blank dungeon wall. It slid open, revealing the Slytherin common room. Harry, of course, hadn’t gone to bed as he had told Ron and Hermione; instead, he grabbed his invisibility cloak, and went off to find Draco. Luna was right; Harry had to tell him. He was in Gryffindor, house of the brave; time to prove it.

Draco sat at a table with some other Slytherins, playing a card game with what looked like typical muggle playing cards. “Straight flush,” Draco proclaimed smugly, slamming down his cards. The rest grumbled as he swept a pile of galleons off the table.

“Psst, Draco,” Harry said, too low for a human to hear, tapping him slightly on the shoulder.

Draco smiled slightly and stood up. “Well, I’m out for tonight,” he told the others, heading over to his dorm room. “Thanks for the galleons, once again.”

“Let’s take a walk,” Harry muttered, when they entered the dorm. “Here, under the cloak.”

The two headed outside; the cloak barely covered them, so they had to press close together as they walked, making Harry’s heart race. The fact that Draco had decided to wrap his arm around Harry’s waist and nuzzle his neck while doing so didn’t help one bit. Harry barely managed to get them outside without throwing Draco against a wall and snogging him silly.

Once outside, and far enough away from the castle, they took the cloak off; Harry breathed a sigh of relief, and Draco smiled at him knowingly. As the two walked around the edge of the forest, Harry told Draco all about what had transpired with Luna, the DA, and Cho. Draco listened patiently, frowning once Harry finished.

“That was really rude of her,” Draco commented, “Crying to you about Cedric like that. It’s lucky you didn’t end up having an attack!”

“Well, she doesn’t exactly know about those,” Harry pointed out. “Or the crush I had on him.”

Draco sighed. “Right, sorry. Still, cornering you like that? Kissing you when you clearly didn’t want it?”

“Well, I didn’t really say or do anything, either,” Harry reasoned. “Just kinda stood there.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “That doesn’t really imply anything,” Draco argued. “I mean, no reaction doesn’t mean ‘do what you want.’ She took advantage.”

“If you say so…” Harry looked away. “I just wish it hadn’t been my first kiss.”

“That was your first kiss?”

“Yeah…” Harry looked at Draco, their eyes meeting. They were at the lake now. “I really wish Blaise hadn’t returned when he did, that night we had the Bloody Marys.”

Draco smiled. “Want to continue where we left off, then?” He asked playfully, moving closer to Harry.

Harry smiled back. “I would like that… you know, this is the place you turned me.” He wrapped his arms around Draco’s waist.

“So it is,” Draco’s arms snaked around Harry’s neck. “Want to replace that with a happier memory?” Draco whispered in his ear.

They were close enough to feel each other’s breaths, both hearts beating nearly in sync and twice as rapid as Harry had ever thought possible. Draco’s eyes were aglow, pupils dilated as large as they could go. Both their glamours had long ago been dropped.

“Is this okay?” Draco asked quietly, lips a centimeter from Harry’s.

“Yes,” Harry breathed, closing his eyes. Draco’s lips were soft against his, and it felt like fire had woven through him. It was so much better than Cho’s had been, could ever have been. This is what he had wanted his first kiss to be like.

Their lips simultaneously parted. Harry slid his tongue against Draco’s fangs. His hands fell lower, holding Draco’s ass, pulling him as close as possible. Draco let out a tiny moan, audible only because of Harry’s vampire hearing. Harry squeezed lightly, and Draco moaned louder. Draco had one hand tangled in Harry’s hair, moving the other to rest just above the hip bones.

Harry broke the kiss, opening his eyes. Draco stared at him questioningly. “May I bite you?” Harry asked, moving his eyes to Draco’s neck.

“Whenever you want,” Draco whispered breathlessly, tilting his head to the side.

Harry bit down eagerly, sucking gently, eliciting yet another moan from Draco, whose hands slid down Harry’s neck and under his robes, resting on Harry’s bare shoulders. Harry was the one who moaned this time, and Draco slid his hands further, parting Harry’s robes slightly to begin moving them down his chest.

“Gah!” Harry yelled, letting go, clutching his head.

“Harry!” Draco called, worriedly. “What’s wrong? Did I go too far?”

“No… not… you…” Harry panted, falling to his knees. “Scar…”

Harry faded in and out of consciousness. A snake… he was a snake… sliding across a cold stone floor… no, he was outside, someone was carrying him, running swiftly… swift as a snake… a person up ahead… no, a castle… a cloak thrown off, wand pointed at him… knocking on a door, yelling… he had to bite the person… he bared his fangs, dripping with venom… were they a vampires or a snake’s?... didn’t matter, they were his, he had to bite… someone was calling to him… he bit into the man, over and over, teeth sinking in deeply… blood, so much blood... the blood looked so good, he wanted to drink it... what was he saying? Snakes don't drink blood... wait, he knew this man…

Harry sat up, gasping. He was on a sofa in a dim room. A wave of nausea came over him, and he turned to the side, coughing up blood. Was that from biting the man? No, no, he hadn’t bit it, the snake had. He had bitten Draco… where was Draco? How had he gotten here?

“Harry!” Draco called, jumping onto the couch and putting an arm around him. “What’s wrong? What happened? Did you have another one of those visions?”

“A snake… there was a snake… I was seeing through its eyes… it bit… it bit Mr. Weasley… he needs help…” Harry grabbed Draco’s hand, holding on tightly. The snake… had he been the snake? No, impossible... he had been snogging Draco...

“You are certain of this, Potter?” Snape was also here, it seemed... He must be in Snape’s quarters.

“Yes, positive... My scar was burning, I saw it as it was happening... It was Voldemort’s snake, sir, and it attacked Mr. Weasley, who was in some sort of stone corridor. I’m positive. He needs help.”

“Can you stand? We must report this to the headmaster. Don’t forget your glamour. And clean yourself up, Draco,” When Draco looked at him puzzled, Snape clarified: “Your neck is covered in blood.”

Draco blushed as he helped pull Harry up. When Snape’s back was turned, Harry quickly licked the blood off Draco’s neck, slyly smiling at him as they followed Snape to the Headmaster’s office, hand-in-hand. Snape raised his eyebrow at that, but didn’t say anything; in fact, had there been a flash of a slight smile? They only let go after they stopped by McGonagall’s quarters, which was on the way; since she was Harry’s head of house, it was important for her to know what was going on. Mrs. Norris joined them happily at some point too.

If Dumbledore was surprised when the unlikely quartet of Draco, Snape, McGonagall, and Harry walked into his office, followed by Mrs. Norris, he hid it well. Harry and Draco explained what had happened-- leaving out the vampire parts and what exactly they had been doing by the lake, of course. Dumbledore, seemingly trying his best to avoid looking at Harry, believed his vision instantly, instructed his phoenix and some paintings to do various things, and then fiddled with an odd apparatus that showed smoke snakes. After a bit, paintings returned, and reported on what had occurred. Mr. Weasley had been found and brought to St. Mungo’s; upon learning this, McGonagall left to retrieve the Weasley children. Dumbledore sent off another portrait to speak to Sirius; apparently they would all be going to Grimmauld Place.

“Draco,” Snape said after a bit. “Perhaps it would be wise to leave before the Weasleys get here? I do not think they would react well to us being here.”

“No. I’m not leaving Harry,” Draco insisted, grabbing his hand again. Harry blushed. Snape rolled his eyes, and Dumbledore stared at the pair curiously, though still not meeting Harry’s eyes.

It was too late, anyway; McGonagall had already returned with Ron, Ginny, Fred, and George.

“Harry! What’s going on?” Ron asked loudly. “First, you’re not in bed, and then McGonagall comes and tells us you saw Dad injured-- Why in Merlin’s name are you holding that git’s hand?!”

Harry blushed, letting go. “I- Er-”

“Is that’s really the most important issue here now, Ron?” Ginny scolded him.

“You owe me five galleons, Minerva,” Snape informed McGonagall.

“Severus! As Miss Weasley just said, is this really the time?”

Dumbledore informed the Weasleys that their father had been injured and that they and Harry were going to Sirius’s place. He prepared a portkey. As the portkey was about to activate, Harry grabbed Draco’s hand, bringing him with them.

Sirius was waiting for them when they appeared at Grimmauld Place, and so was, surprisingly, Lupin. They both smelled vaguely of alcohol; Harry asked them if they’d been drinking. Lupin informed him that it’d been hours ago, peering at him oddly, whereas Sirius had been inspired to simply bring out more, happily declaring everyone needed a drink-- Lupin put most of it away, leaving only the butterbeer, scolding Sirius for trying to give hard liquor to minors.

At the same time, the Weasleys were hounding Harry about what had happened; Draco stood away from them, hoping not to be noticed. Harry explained it all as everyone but Draco sat around the table with their butterbeer. When he had finished, the siblings all leapt from the table, insisting that they had to go see their dad right away, while Lupin and Sirius tried to explain that they had to wait until someone notified them so as not to seem suspicious-- after all, how would they explain knowing of the attack before the hospital notified anyone? For a moment Harry, who was now standing off to the side with Draco, was certain that Sirius, Fred, and George would start exchanging blows, but luckily that did not occur, as they were interrupted by a letter that had arrived from Mrs. Weasley telling them that their dad was alive and instructing them to wait there until they knew more.

As they all settled down to wait-- there was no way anyone was sleeping until they knew more information-- Lupin pulled Harry aside. “May I talk to you a moment, Harry?” he asked in a whisper.

“Er. Sure,” Harry replied. “Something wrong?”

“Not here,” Lupin muttered, leading him towards the door, “somewhere private… yes, you better come too,” Lupin signaled to Draco, who had begun to follow as well.

He led them upstairs, to the tapestry room. “This should be good,” he muttered. Turning to Harry, he asked bluntly, “How did you know we had been drinking, earlier? I could barely smell it anymore, even with my werewolf senses-- yes, I do retain some of them, even when not transformed,” he told Harry, who had looked at him curiously.

“Er-- I-- well-- I dunno,” Harry meekly replied.

Lupin narrowed his eyes. “I’m pretty sure you do. Like I said, I still do have some werewolf senses, albeit muted. I can tell there’s something… irregular about you. Both of you.”

Harry and Draco looked at each other worriedly. Lupin definitely knew they were at least no longer human, if not specifically vampires.

“I would assume you’re wearing glamour, too. Take it off.”

Harry just stared at Lupin, a defiant expression in his eyes.

Draco sighed. “Harry, I think it’d be best to do as he says.”

“But--”

Lupin began speaking again. “Look, fine, don’t tell me what it is. But your heartbeats are quite irregular, you heard me very clearly earlier despite the volume I whispered-- yes, Harry, I was whispering-- and, most importantly, you smell distinctly not human, and I’m pretty sure there’s a slight scent of blood on you as well. As soon as Sirius transforms into a dog he’ll be able to recognize it much easier that I did, due to the smell. I only really noticed after becoming suspicious when you easily identified the scent of the alcohol, but he is going to notice immediately. You’ll need to say something to him before that-- how do you think he is going to react, once realizing you tried to hide whatever this is from him, if you don’t tell him first?”

Harry gulped. He couldn’t even begin to imagine it. He did plan to tell Sirius-- how could he not?-- but there just hadn’t been a way. “Fine, we’ll remove the glamour…”

Lupin’s eyes widened in shock upon seeing the predatorial eyes and sharp fangs the boys donned. “Vampires…” he whispered. “Who else knows?” He asked louder.

“Very few people,” Harry responded. “Only Snape knows about me-- he brews the blood potion for us-- but Draco was turned as a punishment for his father not looking for Voldemort, who wants vampires on his side but can’t get them willingly. We don’t know how many death-eaters know, though I suspect not many-- after all, he doesn’t exactly like people knowing when his plans fail. He had assumed Draco would stick with them because his father did, but instead Draco ran away.”

“He didn’t realize that my father and I don’t really see eye-to-eye on most things,” Draco added. “I had planned to leave anyway, though naturally I did not expect it to be in such a manner…”

“I see,” Lupin mused. “So, Harry, how did you end up…?”

Harry’s voice was quiet as he replied. “Er. Well. I kinda got into a pretty bad situation, and by the time Draco found me, it was the only way to save me... Please don’t make me explain further,” Harry begged.

Lupin glanced at the very faint scars remaining on Harry’s wrists-- apparently, bad enough wounds could still leave scars, despite the vampire healing. “Alright, I won’t press… but please, promise me you won’t get into such a situation again.”

“Er. Not sure I can-- vampire healing abilities are much more impressive than people realize, it seems.”

“Just promise me, Harry.”

Harry sighed. “Okay. I promise.”

“What do you promise?” Sirius asked suspiciously, standing at the doorway. “What’s with the private conversation? You’re not keeping secrets from me, are you?”

Harry looked away, hiding his eyes. “I wanted to tell you,” he muttered. “But I just wasn’t sure how to, plus I couldn’t even contact you with Umbridge monitoring the calls and mail… please don’t be mad…”

Sirius’s eyes softened. “I won’t be mad at you, Harry,” he told him gently. “No matter what it is.”

Harry turned to face him, mouth parted to show his fangs, slitted eyes glassy with tears yet unshed.

“Harry…” Sirius whispered, eyes widening. “You-- you’re--”

“I-I’m sorry,” Harry choked, tears beginning to fall. He was shaking now. No, this wasn’t how it was supposed to go…

“Harry, it’s okay,” Sirius whispered, pulling him into a hug.

“N-no, it’s not, I-I was s-stupid, and you, you had w-warned me n-not to do anything s-stupid…” All the unshed emotions from the past couple months were spilling out, he was embarrassing himself, he was supposed to be strong, the one meant to win the war, not to be this weak, messed up kid... “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…”

“Harry. Shh, you’re okay, it’ll be okay…” Sirius rubbed his back, letting Harry cry all he needed. He was conflicted of course-- Harry, James’s son, a vampire of all things-- Sirius had promised to protect Harry, keep him safe, which he had clearly failed to do if this had happened-- but he was Harry’s godfather, so goddammit, he was gonna act like it for once; he’d support Harry, no matter what he was, be a shoulder for his godson to cry on, do whatever Harry needed him to do.

Draco bit his lip, watching the scene unfold. He was, admittedly, a little jealous-- he no longer had someone to support him like this, and before he only had had his mother. Harry, however, seemed to have so many people who cared dearly for him-- Draco included, of course. He also wished he could be the one holding Harry, but Harry needed his godfather right now. Harry hadn’t said much about it, but Draco knew Harry had been extremely worried about Sirius finding out, worried that he’d lose him-- an illogical worry, of course-- anyone could see that Sirius would never abandon Harry-- but Harry’s worries were often quite illogical. Luckily he had Draco there now to set him straight.

Harry had finally calmed down somewhat. “You really don’t hate me because of this?” he asked quiety, pulling out of the hug.

“I could never hate you, Harry,” Sirius told him firmly. “No matter what you are, above all, you’re my godson.”

“No matter what I am?” Harry asked, smiling now.

“No matter what you are.”

“Even if…” Harry gave his best attempt at a teasing grin that he could do when tear-covered. “Even if I’m Draco’s boyfriend?” He reached over and grabbed the other vampire’s hand. Draco raised an eyebrow. They had not discussed this; though Draco had planned on asking anyway, so he wouldn’t make a big deal of it.

Both Sirius and Lupin stared at Harry, speechless. “Y-yeah,” Sirius stammered out after a while. “E-even then.”

Harry grinned wider, pulling the two into a hug. “Thank you. Thank you so much.”

“Not to say that I approve very much,” Sirius told him, giving Draco a glare. “What with his family being, well, you know.”

Draco just gave him a wan smile, expecting this. “You don’t have to worry about that, sir.” He then explained his situation.

“Oh. Well, then that’s different!” Sirius proclaimed happily. “Welcome to the league of rebellious Blacks! Should I blast you off the tapestry, then?” he smiled playfully.

“Er. The what?”

Harry laughed at that. He felt much better now. “The tapestry.” He gestured to it. “See those blast marks? They’re all the ones who ‘betrayed’ the family.”

“Yep! See? That’s me!” Sirius excitedly pointed to a burn mark. “Being a Gryffindor and not hating anyone who wasn’t ‘pure’ was too much for my dear old mother; running away was the last straw. And that’s your Aunt Andromeda, who dared marry a muggle, and my Uncle Alphard for having the gall to leave me an inheritance after she disowned me, and that’s--”

“Sirius, I think he gets the idea,” Lupin told him, rolling his eyes. “Anyway, we probably should be getting back downstairs.” He was more serious now. “We don’t want anyone else coming up here. Sirius, no one else knows about Harry other than those in this room and Snape; not even Ron and Hermione know-- Harry simply isn’t ready to tell them yet.”

“What? That slimy snake knew before me!?”

“Well, yes,” Harry told Sirius patiently. “There wasn’t really a choice; he makes a special potion for us, so we don’t have to go out attacking people for their, well, you know.”

“Er, right. Guess that makes sense,” Sirius replied sheepishly, slightly embarrassed at his angry outburst.

“Meow!” The quartet turned towards the doorway, startled at the sound.

Lupin was the first to collect himself. “...Is that Mrs. Norris?”

Chapter Text

"Harry!” Ron called. “Where’ve you been? We were just going to go looking for you! Mum’s here, with news about Dad!”

“Er,” Harry replied, Lupin, Sirius, and Draco filing in behind him. “We were, uh--”

“Harry!” He was suddenly tackled by a very large mass. “Oh, thank you so much, it’s because of you he’s alive, another minute and it could have been too late…” Mrs. Weasley was nearly in tears, Harry noted.

“Er. You’re welcome,” Harry mumbled, glad he didn’t need to actually breathe; if he were human, he might have suffocated by now.

Mrs. Weasley let go, frowning. “Harry, you’re freezing cold!”

Harry blinked, trying to think of an explanation. He shouldn’t be that cold, should he? When had he last drank anything? Oh. Lunch. That was nearly eighteen hours ago; he had planned to take a potion after the DA meeting, but then there was that whole daisy chain of events. No wonder he was cold. Harry no longer got hungry as rapidly as he did when first turned, thank Merlin, so it wasn’t as though he’d feel a need to attack someone soon, but he probably should have some soon. He noticed Draco squinting at him, most likely realizing he hadn’t had anything; Draco was awfully perceptive.

“Oh, we were just all outside, don’t worry, Molly!” Sirius covered for him. “Harry needed a bit of fresh air. The coats haven’t arrived from the castle yet.”

“You were out without a coat? But you’re only wearing a t-shirt! Harry, you must be more careful-- you’ll catch a cold. And Sirius, you should know better than to let your godson be outside in the middle of winter with no coat!” Mrs. Weasley scolded.

“Er, right. So, how’s Mr. Weasley? He’s okay, right?” Harry asked, shifting the subject away from himself.

Mrs. Weasley explained that her husband was going to be fine and that they’d all visit him later.

Then, all eyes turned to Draco, who for the third time that night had to explain how he had run away from his family, not wanting to be part of Voldemort’s crew-- minus the vampire parts, of course. People seemed to accept that, especially since Sirius seemed surprisingly supportive of it. He did not, however, tell them he and Harry were an item; Harry had shrugged it off when questioned about the hand holding, telling the others they were just friends. Draco was fine with that; there was no need to throw them that many curve balls all at once, plus he knew Harry would be overwhelmed from the attention of everyone learning all at once, preferring to start with telling a few friends at a time first rather than making some grand announcement. Sirius and Lupin had sworn themselves to secrecy until the two were ready to share more openly.

Mrs. Weasley and Sirius made them all breakfast, Mrs. Weasley of course trying to get Harry to eat as much as possible because, in her mind, he was still way too thin. Not that it would help any, but she didn’t know that. Harry neglected most the foods, instead going for lots of bacon, since that actually had a bit of a good taste to it. Meats-- particularly red ones-- were one of the few foods that tasted good to vampires; after all, they had blood in them, albeit not nearly enough to satisfy the hunger. The rarer, the better; what the Great Hall served was generally overcooked, but sometimes he could get the house-elves in the kitchens to make him steak tartare or blue-rare hamburgers. Those were delicious. Animal blood actually tasted a bit better than the potion, Harry had discovered; unfortunately though, for the sake of secrecy, they weren’t able to go out to hunt, as some vampires did-- although even if they did, they’d still need either the potion or human blood on occasion to survive.

Harry had asked Snape why more vampires didn’t use the potion, and he explained that the main reasons were that ingredients were very expensive, it was difficult to brew, and-- he reluctantly admitted-- allegedly human blood caused a euphoria in vampires that the potion simply could not reproduce, which could become addicting. Harry could understand that; if drinking Draco’s vampire blood was so intoxicating, and human blood was allegedly better, it was no wonder the ones who cared less about humans would choose that over a potion. Harry wondered what it would taste like. Wait, what? Harry nearly vomited at that thought. Why would he think that? He definitely did not want to drink human blood!

“Harry, are you okay?” Ginny, sitting next to him, asked worriedly.

“Yeah, just ate too fast,” Harry assured her. “This is, er, really good bacon.”

Ron rolled his eyes. “Apparently so, since that is literally the only part of breakfast you’ve been eating.”

Harry playfully smiled. “Like I said, it’s reaaaally good bacon.”

Draco, sitting on Harry’s other side, laughed melodiously, knowing the real reason for Harry’s desire to stay away from the other foods-- if Mrs. Weasley was going to make him eat anyway, might as well have the thing he can taste.

“Whoa, did Malfoy just laugh?” Fred wondered.
“In a normal, non-sneering way?” George added.

Draco blushed, as Harry tried defending him around a mouthful of bacon.

“And he blushes too!” Fred exclaimed.
“Harry, what did you do?” George asked.
“Yeah, you got the git on a leash!”
“Reigned in the beast!”
“No, on second thought, I don’t believe it.”
“Yeah, it surely must be some trick.”
“He most definitely is still bad.”
“Oh look, now he’s mad.”

Draco seemed to be getting visibly annoyed. Harry placed his hand on Draco’s arm. “Hey, it’s all right, they’re only joking around. In poor taste,” He glared at the pair, “but joking. They’re always like this.”

Draco sighed. “Right, sorry. Guess I’m just not used to this type of setting.”

Ron snorted. “What, not fancy enough for an inbred pureblood brat such as you?”

Draco blinked, not expecting such venomosity from Ron. “No, that’s not what I--”

“Seriously, I don’t understand why Harry wants to hang around an obnoxious git like you. All you do is cause problems.”

“Ron!” Ginny scolded. “You’re the one being the problem right now! Draco’s been civil this whole time. Has been for a couple months, actually.”

“Oh, so now you’re calling him Draco, too? Seriously, this is all probably some ploy, I know it is. He’s just like any other Slytherin; he’ll stab you in the back the second you turn around. I don’t trust him for a minute,” Ron declared vehemently.

Harry had been biting his lip-- hard enough to draw blood, though fangs made that relatively easy-- in an attempt to reign in his feelings, but he couldn’t just sit there and watch his boyfriend be slandered like that. “Slytherins aren’t all like that, Ron! Especially not Draco…” He declared, his voice a mix of anger and hurt. When had his friend become this hateful? “I would trust him with my life.” Harry stated confidently; ‘and already have,’ he added, to himself.

“Then you’re mental!” Ron retorted. “He’s a Slytherin! You can’t trust any of them!”

“Yeah? Well I guess you can’t trust me either, then,” Harry spat. “The only reason I’m not one is because I begged that stupid hat not to sort me there after you spent half the train ride convincing me that every damn Slytherin turns dark!” Harry winced. Everyone was staring at him now. Crap. That was not something he wanted to reveal.

“Harry,” Draco whispered, tugging at his arm, trying to get him to sit down. “Please, calm down, it’s okay,”

“No, it bloody well isn’t okay!” Harry was not going to calm down anytime soon, it seemed; if this kept up, his glamour would surely drop-- in front of most the Weasley family. Draco glanced over towards Lupin and Sirius, mouthing the word ‘glamour’ trying to get them to realize the problem.

Ron was glaring at Harry. “Oh, so is that why you’re hanging around them so much, now? What, Gryffindor too good for you now? Wishing the hat put you in the snake pit?”

“You know what? Sometimes, maybe I do, especially when my so-called best friend is being an obnoxious git who can’t get over the fact that houses aren’t the only thing that defines people! You’re treating Draco worse right now than any of the Slytherins ever have to us!” Harry clenched his fists tightly, unaware that Draco had already frantically re-applied Harry’s glamour more than once as he continued to try getting Sirius’s and Lupin’s attention.

“Harry, please, calm down,” Draco tried begging again.

Ron was standing up too now. “Don’t you dare compare me to those slimy prats!” He raised his fist.

Lupin and Sirius, finally realizing what Draco had been indicating, leapt into action before the two could exchange blows, grabbing Harry tightly and pulling him straight out of the kitchen, Harry struggling against them. Vampire or not, he was still scrawny for his age, thus no match against two grown men, one who also happened to have some enhanced strength due to his werewolf nature. Ron tried to charge at Harry at the same time, but was held back by Fred and George. Draco fled after the three, worried that Ron might turn on him next.

They had dragged Harry into the sitting room, pinning him to the couch, attempting to stop him from struggling. “Let. Me. Go.” Harry hissed threateningly, teeth bared. The glamour was completely down now. Draco could sense his heartbeat, going so fast that a human would be suffering cardiac arrest, or whatever it was called-- Draco wasn’t too familiar with such terms.

“Harry,” Draco called gently, moving to kneel in front of him, staring into his eyes, of which were set into a violent glare. “Harry, please, you need to calm down,” he pleaded. “Please, for me. Remember what we talked about? How you promised to try to control your anger?” Harry stopped struggling, still glaring at Draco, who tepidly placed a hand on his knee. “Harry, please. It’s okay. You’re okay. I’m okay. There’s no need for anger now.” Harry closed his eyes, pulse calming down.

“I’m sorry,” Harry muttered faintly, eyes still closed, after a few minutes of silence. Sirius and Lupin released Harry, while Draco slid onto the couch next to him, putting his arm around Harry’s shoulders and rubbing his knee with the other. Lupin stayed with them, while Sirius went to check on the others.

“Are you feeling better now?” Draco asked gently.

Harry nodded his head slightly, opening his eyes and looking at Draco guiltily. “Yeah, I think so. Sorry…”

“Don’t apologize,” Draco told him. “It wasn’t your fault. I saw that you had been trying to hold things in, trying to control your anger. It’s not your fault that he kept going on like he did.”

“But I didn’t control it. The glamour fell; you were putting it back up for me, weren’t you?”

“Yes, I was. But, Harry, remember, I have much more experience with it than you do, and you also just experienced the stress of that horrible vision and whatnot. It isn’t your fault, please believe that.”

“I know, Draco… but… there’s something else, too…” There was a hint of fear in Harry’s voice now, and he was slightly shaking.

“It’s okay, you can tell me.”

“I… I wanted to attack him... I don’t mean just a punch, either, I mean with, well, you know. Not from hunger; just out of rage, to tear his throat out like some kind of monster.” Harry’s eyes gleamed with the beginnings of tears.

“You’re not a monster,” Lupin chimed in. “Trust me. I have those urges too sometimes, when really angry; do you see me as a monster?”

“No, not at all,” Harry answered, not even having to think about it.

“Exactly. If I’m not, you’re certainly not either.”

Sirius returned then, shooting a worried glance at Harry, and explained what had happened after they had left. Mrs. Weasley had laid it on thick, sending Ron straight to his room and taking away his broom for the next few days. Everyone else agreed to try to get some sleep too, before visiting Mr. Weasley; they all had been tired, which had obviously contributed to that rising tension.

“Okay, let’s get you two up to bed, too. And no, you’re not sharing one.” Sirius said playfully.

“That’s okay, Sirius. We don’t need a bed,” Harry replied, smiling a little. “Vampires don’t sleep.”

“Seriously? Lucky! Wish I didn’t need to sleep.”

Draco laughed. “It certainly is one of the perks!”

“Hey, Draco?” Harry’s voice was quiet again.

“Yes? Something wrong?”

“Er. I think I might be a little hungry.”

“Hungry? But you just ate all that bacon, Harry!” Sirius sounded surprised.

“Sirius,” Lupin rolled his eyes. “I don’t think he means that kind of food…”

“What do you… oh. right.”

“Did Snape send over any potions yet? He didn’t forget, did he?” Harry asked Draco.

“Not that I know of. I don’t think any of our things were sent over yet. When did you last have one?”

“...I don’t remember.” Harry blushed. “Er. Maybe lunch?”

Draco blinked at him. “Seriously?! Don’t you remember last time you forgot them?!”

“Well, I was going to have one after the DA meeting, but then all that stuff happened!” Harry defended. “Look, it’ll be fine, okay? I can wait. Promise.”

“...Okay. But you’re having one as soon as they’re sent over!”

Except, they didn’t get sent over. Their trunks were, and Harry had thought there would at least be some left there, but apparently there weren’t. Not even any calming draughts were left, even though Harry could have sworn he hadn’t used all of them yet. Unfortunately, Harry hadn’t had time to contact Snape before they left for the hospital; he could wait until after, though, Harry decided-- the hunger wasn’t that bad yet.

 

*******

 

Upon entering the hospital, Harry-- and Draco too, he noted-- nearly collapsed from the smell. So much disinfectant! Along with a mix of other distinctively hospital smells; it took them a few moments to get used to it. Mad-eye glanced suspiciously at the boys; his magical eye had frequently been focusing on the two. Harry disconcertingly wondered if that eye could see through the glamour. Oh, who was Harry kidding-- of course it could; Harry could only pray that Mad-eye wouldn’t mention anything. He and Tonks had accompanied them; Sirius had of course reluctantly stayed home-- his idea of going as a dog being quickly vetoed-- and Lupin elected to stay with him. All of the Weasley clan that had been at the house were there too of course, including Ron, who was pointedly ignoring Harry.

Harry looked around the waiting room in wonder as Mrs. Weasley asked where Mr. Weasley had been moved to. There was a little girl flying around with huge bird wings; a woman whistling like a teapot, steam and all; a man dancing around in what were clearly cursed ballet slippers; someone looking like Hermione had after the polyjuice potion incident; and various people sprouting extra appendages. Of course, many there seemed perfectly normal, as well, sitting around calmly reading magazines; Harry wondered what they were there for.

“There’s a lot more people waiting around than in most muggle hospitals,” Harry commented. “Although, the hospital itself is much larger too, with six floors. Is this the only wizarding hospital around?”

Draco narrowed his eyes. “How do you know--”

“No, it isn’t the only one,” Mrs. Weasley answered, as an orderly led them to Mr. Weasley’s room, “but it is the largest. There’s a lot of things they treat here that other ones aren’t equipped for. The others are closer to the hospital wing at your school, only meant for non-magical wounds and simpler magical ones; anything more serious or unusual is brought here.”

In the interest of not throwing too many visitors at Mr. Weasley all at once, only the Weasleys went in-- and Harry, whom Mrs. Weasley insisted on coming in too, as apparently Mr. Weasley wanted to thank him. Tonks, Mad-eye, and a very uncomfortable-looking Draco stayed behind.

Mr. Weasley was awake and cheerful. As he chatted with them all, artfully dodging his children’s questions relating to what Order business he had been on, Harry was only half paying attention. The other two patients in the room-- and Mr. Weasley himself, of course-- had also been victims of very nasty bites, one from a werewolf and the other from of what she clearly knew yet wouldn’t say; all their wounds were still healing, needing frequent bandage changing because they had not yet stopped bleeding.

“Harry, are you okay?” Ginny asked. Was it that obvious? Harry, of course, was not okay; all that blood around, combined with the fact that he hadn’t had the potion in nearly a full day now, was making his hunger-- which he had been managing fine before, he thought-- very noticeable. He couldn’t tell Ginny that though.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” he said quickly. “I just need some air, I think.” He dashed out of the room, making sure the door was closed behind him.

“Harry!” Tonks said, surprised. “What’s going on? Is everything okay in there?” Tonks appeared mildly confused, but Mad-eye had a very calculating expression.

“Er. Yeah. I just, er, I have to use the bathroom, be right back! Draco, come with me,” Harry raced down the hallway, pulling Draco along too. Instead of going to the bathroom, however, Harry pulled Draco into a conveniently placed janitorial closet.

“Harry? What’s wrong? Did something happen?” Draco looked frightened.

“No, no, it’s just… well… there were other people in there, also with bites, and none of the wounds had healed yet, so there was a strong smell of blood, and then I remembered I hadn’t drank in a while, which made me feel very hungry, and if I didn’t get out of there soon, I was afraid I’d attack someone,” Harry spewed out in a rush. “I don’t think hospitals are a very good place for vampires,” he concluded bluntly.

A knock sounded on the door, and the two froze.

The knock came again. “I know you two are in there,” Mad-eye’s voice called.

Harry sighed, and opened the door.

“Here,” Mad-eye told him, thrusting a vial into Harry’s hand. “Drink it.”

Harry eyed Mad-eye suspiciously. “What is it?”

“Blood-replenishing potion. Nicked it off a cart passing by. It ain’t the same, but it should hold you over at least a little bit. Yes, Potter, Malfoy, I know what you two are,” Mad-eye told them, noticing them exchanging worried expressions. “Did you really expect those pathetic glamours to get past my eye?”

Harry looked down sheepishly. “You’re not going to tell anyone, are you? Right now, only Snape, Lupin, and Sirius know.”

Mad-eye scowled. “I’m not that stupid, boy. If this gets out publicly, it’ll be a mess we don’t want. But I do expect you’ll tell the others sooner or later, before they find out on their own. That includes Dumbledore.”

Harry’s eyes widened as he looked at Mad-eye. “What!? I can’t tell Dumbledore!”

“He won’t react well to it,” Draco added unhelpfully.

“Now why in hell do you think that? He was content enough to let a werewolf be a student and even teach there, in secret; I doubt he’ll have a problem with you two. He can protect you, lads.”

“Right, I’ll think about it,” Harry muttered, having no intention to actually do so. Dumbledore already hated him; this would only make it worse.

“Don’t think too long; if anyone can figure it out, he can. Hell, I wouldn’t put it past him to already know. Now, drink up your potion, and let’s head back.”

“Yes, sir,” Harry complied.

They returned to find that all the children had been kicked out of the room so the adults could talk about Order business; Mad-eye firmly told them all “don’t eavesdrop” as he entered the room, with a pointed glance towards Harry and Draco. So of course, they all did. Harry and Draco pretended to share one of the extendable ears, though they could hear clearly enough without it. It seemed they were talking about Harry, wondering about his connection to Voldemort. They seemed to conclude that it could quite possibly be some form of possession. Harry initially became worried at that, but Draco whispered in his ear that it couldn’t possibly be, since vampires could not be possessed in that manner. Harry did recall reading that, in a very old tome he had found within the restricted section-- he had taken to lifting books from there to read at night-- which had outlined various experiments pertaining to possession, including some done on so-called “dark” creatures, of natures which left no doubt as to why it was restricted. But despite the grotesque nature of them, their results were not as questionable as the textbook’s information, so Harry felt confident agreeing with Draco. No, this was something else, something more unique.

The others, however, were staring at Harry quite fearfully… crap, if this was how they were reacting to the mere possibility of possession, what would happen when they discovered he was actually a “dark” creature himself?

Chapter Text

Draco gasped lightly as Harry, behind him, unexpectedly snaked his arms around his waist. It was late, Grimmauld Place silent as the others slept; Harry said he wanted to show Draco the library, but it seemed he had other plans...

“May I?” Harry breathed against the nape of Draco’s neck, fangs close enough to gently tickle the skin as he spoke.

Draco’s heart raced, and he leaned into Harry as he replied. “Like I said before, whenever you want…”

Harry’s fangs sunk deep into Draco, beautiful red liquid flowing out; Harry only let a little bit dribble away as he eagerly lapped it up. A sense of bliss bubbled throughout him. Draco’s blood was absolutely intoxicating…

“Mmm… Harry…” Draco softly moaned, eyes closed, sinking further back into him as his head tilted further aside to expose more skin for Harry to nip at. Harry was essentially holding him up now, with one arm, the other arm moving to Draco’s shoulder to slide his robe down slightly as he speckled Draco’s skin with smaller nibbles, blood still slightly trickling from the larger one. That one would leave a vivid mark for days-- bites such as that took a while to fully heal, even with a vampire’s healing; Harry had intended that.

Draco spun Harry around, pressing their lips together; Harry was now the one to let out a gasp, allowing Draco to craftily slip his tongue in. Harry pressed his tongue against Draco’s fangs, letting the blonde taste some of his blood, too. Draco’s wrapped his hands around Harry’s waist, pulling him as close as possible. Harry could feel their erections pressing against each other through the robes; Harry slid Draco’s robes down slightly more, breaking the kiss to once again pepper Draco’s body with tiny bites, this time moving along the collarbone, eliciting another moan from Draco, who had his eyes closed and head tilted back to expose as much of his neck as possible. Harry trailed back up his neck, pulling him back down into another kiss.

“Boys,” came a steady voice from the library’s entrance. Harry and Draco leapt back from each other, both their faces cherry red. “Is this really the place for that?”

“P-professor Snape!” Draco stuttered out. Harry was unable to find his voice.

Snape continued as though he hadn’t just caught the two immersed in each other.

“I apologize for returning here so late. I have the potions you need; it was rather… difficult… to bring them here, with the so-called ‘High Inquisitor’”-- He spit out the title with a look of disgust-- “Interfering. She tried locking down the school, and then announced that all teachers must get her approval before leaving or be sacked. Obviously, I could not tell her where I would go or what I would be doing, so I had to wait until Dumbledore convinced her to lift that order, and then wait a bit more so as not to seem too suspicious.”

Harry and Draco had managed to collect themselves by then, Draco pulling his robe up high enough to hopefully hide the marks if anyone else unexpected came in; Harry had done a quick “scourgify” to remove the blood, slightly disappointed at not being able to lick it up.

“Do you know what happened to the calming draughts and spare blood potions in my trunk?” Harry asked.

“Ah, yes, I apologize for that as well; that insufferable woman insisted on inspecting all the trunks beforehand, so I preemptively removed them. Have you managed to hold up okay?”

“Not really,” Draco said bluntly. “Harry forgot to take his potion, again.” He explained about what had happened at the hospital.

“Sirius went and caught me a rabbit after we returned,” Harry told him. “So I could drink the blood from that.”

“Ah, I see… so, you told the dog?” Snape asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Yeah,” Harry ignored the jab at Sirius. “Lupin, too.” He detailed how that had happened. The only thing Snape seemed surprised about was Sirius’s reaction to Draco, which, to be fair, anyone would be.

“Oh, also, Filch is extremely upset that his cat is missing. Would you two happen to know anything about this?”

“Meow!” Had Mrs. Norris been watching voyeuristically the entire time?

 

*******

 

After spending the following day cleaning and decorating for Christmas-- Sirius had not expected anyone, so naturally they had to start from scratch-- mostly everyone was relaxing before dinner. Harry and Draco were leaning against each other on a sofa-- they had been reading a book together, and still appeared to be, though they were secretly eavesdropping on the argument taking place on the floor above them between Snape and Sirius. Lupin was there, attempting to mediate, yet failing. Snape had been trying to impress upon Sirius how vital it was that he watch Harry, to be sure he took the potion, as well as implored him to try discouraging Harry to use animals as a substitute because that was “a slippery slope towards going towards larger prey.” Sirius was angry that Snape had been implying he wasn’t responsible, as well as that Harry couldn’t control himself-- Sirius apparently had a lot more faith in Harry’s ability to control his urges than Harry himself did.

The doorbell rang; it must be Hermione, Harry figured, since the train had been today. Harry had mixed feelings-- he was of course happy she had arrived, but it also meant everything needed to be explained once again. Maybe they should write a bulletin to hand out to people. After greeting Mrs. Weasley, who had answered the door, Hermione went to see them as they were easiest to find, being in the first sitting room off the entrance hall.

“Harry!” Hermione called, running over and hopping on the sofa, hugging him. “And... Malfoy?” She looked at the blonde with a slightly confused expression. Crookshanks jumped next to Draco, purring, which made Hermione even more confused.

“Cats like me,” Draco responded, with a shrug. “By the way, call me Draco.”

“Um, okay. Where’s Ron?”

Harry snorted. “Don’t know, don’t care.”

“They had a row the other night,” Draco explained. “I think Ron’s upstairs somewhere. He just ignores it when either of us try to say anything to him.”

“I see… well, I can talk to him later. Tell me everything!” So, they did, minus the vampire and dating parts.

Hermione nodded, absorbing it all. “So… there’s just one thing I’m not so clear on. When you had the vision, you were outside together… what exactly were you two doing?” She had a sly look on her face.

“Nothing!” The two responded, beet red.

Hermione raised an eyebrow. “Riiiiight, totally believable response there. Anyway, what were you reading?” She picked up the book from where it had fallen when she had hugged Harry. “‘The Complete Compendium of Magical Cats and Cat-like Creatures’? Whyever are you reading this?”

“Er, well,” Harry began, “Initially we were just gonna read the bit about kneazles, to see if we might be able to find out why Crookshanks and other cats suddenly like us, but there’s just so many other interesting ones in here too! China has shishi, which are guardian lions that pose as stone statues; Japan has nekomata, which are two-tailed cats that allegedly have necromantic powers; The Philippines has merlions, which are the cat version of mermaids; North America has splintercats, which destroy trees by ramming them at impossibly high speeds; Thailand has the cha kla, which are ghost-like cats--”

“Okay, Harry, I think she gets it,” Draco mirthfully laughed.

“Well, who knew you were such a cat-person, Harry?” Hermione chuckled.

“Eh, maybe I just spent too much time at Mrs. Figg’s place,” he said jokingly, then at their puzzled stares explained: “She was my babysitter as a kid, a squib who breeds half-kneazles. I didn’t learn that until last summer; as a kid I just thought she was just a crazy old lady with lots of cats who liked baking cookies. Man, if my Aunt and Uncle knew she had anything to do with magic…”

“Oh!” Hermione’s eyes lit up. “Maybe you could talk to her if the book doesn’t help.”

“He is not going anywhere remotely near those muggle relatives ever again,” declared Draco. “Even if it’s just to visit a kind old lady.”

“Draco, we talked about this,” Harry muttered. “Dumbledore would never let--”

“Screw Dumbledore. He knew how they treated you, yet did nothing! That’s just as bad as if he joined in!”

“Okay, fine, just drop it, please,” Harry begged. “I don’t want to talk about this right now.”

Hermione appeared very confused at the exchange. Harry had told her very little about the Dursleys; all she knew was that he had to do many chores and they didn’t want anything to do with magic-- neither of which would warrant this kind of reaction. Had more going on that he didn’t tell them? But why would he tell Draco then?

“Oh, yes we bloody well are,” Draco continued. “You always try to shrug it off, or not talk about it, but the fact is you absolutely cannot go back, no matter what Dumbledore says about it. So what if there’s some funky blood magic protection thing because she’s your mother’s sister? That did jack last summer, when your uncle nearly strangled you!”

“Draco, please, not now,” Harry pleaded. “We can talk later when we’re alone, I promise, but please don’t do this where Hermione and everyone can hear…” He closed his eyes tightly, trying to focus on not panicking, not here of all places, with so many people around...

Draco noticed the quickening of Harry’s heartbeat, and then realized Harry had actually begun to shake a bit. “Okay, not now. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have pressed on like that.” He put his arm around Harry’s shoulders, holding his hand with the other. Harry managed to calm down a little. “Better?” Draco asked.

“Y-yeah. Sorry about that, I didn’t mean--”

“What have I said about apologizing for things you’re not responsible for?”

Harry smiled sheepishly. “Sorry.”

It seemed they had forgotten Hermione was in the room. She cleared her throat to grab their attention… then winced, realizing that it sounded scarily like Umbridge’s “hem, hem”. Harry jumped in panic, before realizing it had just been her. “Mind telling me what’s going on? Particularly that part about strangling? Was that why you had that bruise last summer, that you wouldn’t talk about?”

Harry winced. How did she manage to remember things like that?

“Yes, it was.”

“Draco!” Harry exclaimed.

“What? You can’t keep hiding this. She’s your best friend; you can at least tell her…” Draco argued, then added, “maybe not the weasel though, he’d probably blab.”

“...I told you not to call him that.”

“He still calls me ferret. As long as he does that, I will call him weasel.”

Hermione seemed a bit amused at that. “You know, he probably does that because you call him that; if you stop, he should eventually too.”

Draco thought about this for a moment. “You do have a point…”

“Of course I do… and Harry, if you don’t want to talk about it, I understand, you can when you’re ready.”

“Thank you, Hermione.”

“Oh, and one more thing…” Hermione had a sly look. “Draco, whatever is with that mark on your neck?”

Draco’s face turned beet red. “It’s nothing! I just, er, fell.”

Hermione laughed. “If you say so. Now, let’s go, Harry, Draco-- time to make up with Ron…”

 

*******

 

The next two days went by very quickly, as there had still been much to do in preparation for Christmas. Hermione had been quite miffed that the humongous tree had been decorated with live fairies in little orbs--- “they’re living creatures, too!”-- whereas Crookshanks and Mrs. Norris absolutely loved it. Everyone agreed to release the fairies after the cats knocked the huge tree down and destroyed half their decorating efforts while chasing the fairies whose orbs had broken. It was also discovered that tinsel and cats don’t mix well at all, nor do garlands-- and anything else hanging, for that matter. Hermione had found a solution though, in the form of a spray with a very light scent that animals disliked, though humans couldn’t smell; if the cats got too close to the decorations, they would smell it and think twice about attacking. Technically it was marketed as a means to prevent them from peeing on carpets, but hey, whatever works, right? Too bad vampires and werewolves could also smell it; Harry, Lupin, and Draco stayed well away from the tree, which had the largest concentration of spray, to most the others’ confusion. Sirius actually cried after approaching it in dog form. Having to avoid the smells was only a minor annoyance though, as most the decorations were on the ceilings, walls, and chandeliers, reducing their chances of running into them.

Sirius had found his old records over the fall, so was playing them the entire time they decorated-- well, most of the time, since Mrs. Weasley insisted on interrupting it for “Witching Hour’s Two-Hour Christmas Special Featuring Celestina Warbeck” on the WWN, to everyone else’s dismay. Harry found himself singing along to some of the songs after a while. He lamented over the fact that Hogwarts didn’t have such; the limited programming on the WWN paled in comparison to the wide range of music muggle musicians offered, and it was nice to be able to choose which albums were played.

Harry and Ron managed to make up, thanks to Hermione’s help-- she was quite good at mediating between them now. It took a few tries though, Ron making it clear that he would only tolerate Draco for now, only because Harry was their mutual friend, and still called him by last name. Draco had found a new friend in Sirius, of all people, who had been extremely excited by the fact that Draco had asked about some of the muggle things he had around the house. He also questioned Harry quite a bit about modern muggle technology, since there had been a surprising amount of advancement in the 14 years since he left for Azkaban and he couldn’t look into it much while being in hiding.

They went Christmas shopping at one point; most decided to shop at Diagon Alley, but Lupin and Sirius went to Muggle London instead. It had taken a bit of convincing, but it was finally agreed upon that Sirius could go there with Lupin provided the two were well-disguised, since it was unlikely a wizard would find them there. When they got back, there was a note from Snape letting them know that he had stopped by to collect Mrs. Norris, as it would be cruel to keep her away from Filch-- who had apparently been crying for days over her vanishing-- on Christmas.

Christmas morning finally came, along with many presents. Mrs. Weasley had somehow found the time in the past few days to knit a sweater for Draco, an icy blue that matched his eyes with a teal D on front. Harry’s was dark chartreuse green with a periwinkle H, a very odd color combination which made Harry certain that the sweater colors were chosen randomly. Hagrid had given him a biting wallet, which Harry couldn’t figure out how to open without it biting himself; not that any cuts from it mattered much, being a vampire and all, but he’d still rather not get blood all over his money. Dobby had painted a godawful picture for Harry, which, oddly enough, Draco had recognized was from the elf without even being told-- apparently Dobby had always loved painting, although practice had not made perfect in his case.

Draco was fascinated by the pile of muggle comic books Sirius had given him, from his teenage years. Draco had been looking at one the other day, but never fathomed Sirius would give him all of them! “I’ve read them already and you need stuff to do when everyone else is asleep, so why not?” Sirius had told him.

Harry’s favorite gift of all was from Sirius-- a walkman with a huge box of cassette tapes. Sirius explained that the walkman had been enchanted to run on magic instead of batteries, meaning it would work at Hogwarts. The process to do that was, according to Hermione, immensely expensive, involving some extremely rare magical minerals, hence why few bothered to do it. Sirius had just shrugged when Harry asked him about that, explaining that he had a huge fortune he didn’t know what to do with. The cassettes were mostly music from the 70s, since that was the music Sirius was most familiar with. However, there were some more recent things too; Sirius had asked the sales clerk at the muggle music store which albums had been popular in the most recent decade, and gotten some of those as well, though he had never heard any of it due to his stint in Azkaban and subsequently being in hiding. Harry promised to play some of it for Sirius before he left, although he had no clue what to expect either, seeing as the Dursleys had never let him listen to much. He got a second pair of headphones and a splitter too, so Harry and Draco could listen together during the night.

Draco and Harry had exchanged gifts as well. Harry had found Draco what appeared to be a rare book on potions in a muggle thrift store, of all places; the ingredients and whatnot all looked like wizard things to him, anyway. Draco confirmed they were, but would run it by Snape first just in case; regardless, he was immensely delighted with it. Draco had made Harry a friendship bracelet, with a matching one for himself, enchanted so that if one got into trouble the other would know. They were matching, entwined beaded wire strands of green, red, gold, and silver. He apologized on the simplicity of it, embarrassed at having to make something by hand-- he had naturally been cut off from the family money, and although he had a small allowance courtesy of Snape, it of course wasn’t enough for anything extravagant; Harry, however, thought it was one of the sweetest gifts he had ever received, and pulled Draco into his arms in thanks.

Lupin approached Harry and Draco after breakfast, before everyone left for the hospital, leading them into a private room to speak with them. Apparently, he, Sirius, Mad-eye and Snape had had a discussion regarding the boys’ glamours, upon which it was decided that a better solution would be needed. Not just because Harry had trouble keeping it up, but also because Mad-eye had seen through things so easily; and if he could, others could, particularly Dumbledore-- they had been lucky he’d been preoccupied the other night, or else he might have noticed they were using it. Plus, as Mad-eye had pointed out, a simple “finite encantatem” would easily expose them-- they were used all the time in classes, and if one was too close by it might accidentally target the glamour instead, a risk they hadn’t even thought about. They simply couldn’t count on such illusionary spells as glamour to hide things well. So, they came up with a somewhat better solution, inspired by wizarding theatre: costume props and makeup. First was a small enchanted retainer that covered the front half of their top row of teeth and would mould to them to look like normal teeth; It was a variation of what actors would use to mimic creature teeth. For the eyes, they had special clear contact lenses enchanted to make their pupils appear round-- again, something generally used to do the opposite. Harry asked if they came in a prescription version, so he didn’t need to use his glasses anymore, but apparently they did not. The biggest drawback was that both these had to be removed for at least a few hours each night. As for Draco’s bite scar and Harry’s wrist scars-- the latter which only Lupin knew about, though hadn’t asked for details-- they were to use cover-up. There were magical ones that matched skintone perfectly, were immune to water, and lasted a precise amount of time without wearing off-- Lupin had gotten them the 18-hour version, which was the longest. Glamour was to be used only in the event that they were caught without the other things; the greatest chance of that would of course be at night, since the retainer and contacts would be out at that time. Draco and Harry had grumbled about all this-- glamour was so much simpler-- but they understood why it was a necessity.

“What was Lupin talking to you about?” Hermione asked them curiously, as they headed out the door. Harry ignored her,pretending to have been listening instead to Fred and George telling Ron all about some new product. Everyone but Sirius was heading back to the hospital to see Mr. Weasley, including Bill, who had arrived earlier that morning. Mad-eye had returned to escort them, but Tonks couldn’t be there so Lupin was replacing her as the second escort. Harry felt bad that Sirius had to be left alone; he and Draco had offered to stay behind-- not just for Sirius, but to avoid the hospital in general, though they didn’t say so-- but Mrs. Weasley absolutely insisted they go and they weren’t about to try to argue with her.

Mundungus had showed up, quickly grabbing some food and leaving them with a car he had “found” so they didn’t need to take the underground as they had last time. It had been magically extended to fit all 11 people; Harry, Draco, Ron, and Hermione had their own row. Harry brought his new Walkman to play, sharing the headphones with them-- the album he had chosen had just come out that year: “Made in Heaven” by a British band called “Queen”, whom had been around since Sirius was a teen. Harry kept feeling his teeth with his tongue. The retainer didn’t feel uncomfortable or anything; in fact it felt completely like real teeth-- and that’s why it was so strange. He had been so used to feeling his fangs that sliding over perfectly flat “teeth” seemed very bizarre. He’d get used to it though.

The hospital, which was decked out in Christmas fashion, didn’t bother Harry as it had the other day since he had made extra sure to have a potion beforehand… or rather, Draco had, although Harry insisted he hadn’t forgotten despite it having been ten minutes prior to leaving. They only saw Mr. Weasley briefly before Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Draco fled the room in anticipation of Mrs. Weasley’s rage when learning what the muggle remedy called “stitches” were; Mr. Weasley and a trainee healer had tried, and failed, to seal the wound with them. They wandered upstairs to the tearoom, but accidentally stopped a floor early, running into Lockhart of all people-- he still had serious memory problems, and reminded them of a little kid. They stopped and stayed for a bit, feeling a little sad that he had no one to visit him on Christmas despite him having been a really poor excuse for a person before his accident.

“Shit,” Harry muttered, hearing voices from behind a partition further in the room-- too muffled for a human to hear clearly but rang like crystal to him; he recognized the one voice.

Draco had of course heard too. “Is that Long--”

“Shh!” Harry quieted him, then muttered so the others couldn’t hear, “Don’t say anything. I assume you know who he’s visiting?”

“Well, yes…” Of course he did; it was his own Aunt who had done that to Neville’s parents.

“Well, the others don’t.”

Draco nodded in understanding. If such had happened to his parents-- well, his mom at least-- he wouldn’t want people knowing, either, so he’d respect Neville’s desire to hide it too.

Unfortunately, as Neville and his grandmother were quietly leaving, the orderly called to them, moving the others’ attention that way too. His grandmother was excited to meet Neville’s friends, but Neville looked less than pleased, especially as she began to talk about his parents’ condition. He also kept looking at Draco, Harry noticed, seemingly nervously. Did he think Draco would do something?

Apparently so, as Neville had worked up some courage by the end, as his grandmother went to speak to the orderly about something. “Y-you b-better not tell a-anyone this, M-Malfoy!” he managed to stutter out. “O-or, or, I-I’ll”

Draco withheld an instinct to sneer and say ‘Or what’-- this wasn’t the time, place, nor subject for a snarky remark, no matter if the setup had been perfect. Instead, he replied kindly, “Don’t worry; I haven’t told anyone yet, so why would I now?”

Neville seemed highly confused at that response, neither expecting Draco to answer nicely nor to have already known.

“Neville, it’s okay, you can trust Draco,” Harry told him. “He’s turned over a new leaf, so to say. He’s not the bully he used to be, promise.”

Neville was still fairly confused though. “When did you two become so close as to use first names? A couple months ago you looked ready to kill him after that quidditch match, Harry.”

“You know, I’ve been wondering about that a bit too…” Ginny said. “It was really right after that when you two seemed to start getting along a little better. That isn’t what usually happens after a brutal fight.”

“Er.” Harry’s face was blank. That was something he seriously did not want to get into with them right now-- or ever, in fact. “It’s, uh, hard to explain.” Draco was eyeing Harry cautiously, very worried about where this might lead. He was quite glad there was no longer glamour to fall if Harry got upset.

“Well, give it a try,” Hermione reasoned. I’m fairy curious about that too.”

“Er. Uh. That’s, well, uh, actually, I just don’t want to talk about it; you won’t understand anyway.” he said meekly.

“Try us,” Ron challenged. “I too would love to know how you somehow managed to become buddy-buddy with this git.”

Harry seemed to be getting excessively nervous now, Draco noted. Time to intervene; the last thing Harry would want was to have an attack here, of all places. “He said he didn’t want to talk about it.”

“Oh? Then how about you tell us,” Ron indignantly pushed. “How did you and Harry manage to become so friendly?”

Harry glanced at Draco imploringly, silently pleading that he not say anything, not that Draco would have anyway. “Harry already said he doesn’t want to talk about it, so I won’t either. Please drop it,” Draco replied in a finite manner.

“But--”

But Draco had already grabbed Harry’s wrist and pulled him out the door; he was not going to let this escalate like it had the other night, especially since it looked like Harry’s emotions this time were verging less towards anger and more towards panic.

Chapter Text

The week following the holiday, before returning to Hogwarts, left Harry pretty dismal. It wasn’t due to anything that happened at the house-- it was actually the thought of returning to Hogwarts, something Harry would have never thought possible before. Yet with Umbridge’s tyranny, no quidditch, Dumbledore still hating him, the papers bound to start acting up again soon… he just didn’t want to return. It had been nice here with everyone... with Sirius. Speaking of Sirius, he also had been looking pretty down. Everyone being here really had been good for him, but now they were all leaving-- well, except for Lupin. Apparently Lupin was actually living there now; he had been fired from another job due to his werewolf status leaking out, and then had to move from his flat because he couldn’t make rent. Sirius had happily offered for Lupin to stay there rent-free. They hadn’t told anyone this until after Christmas, in an effort to not bring the mood down.

Snape had visited to inform Harry that he’d be taking Occlumency lessons from him henceforth, under the guise of remedial potions. This led to a very heated row between Snape and Sirius, the latter who still did not trust Snape at all, even suggesting Dumbledore himself teaching would be better. Harry ended the argument by pointing out that although Snape wasn’t his favorite person either, he did feel like he could trust him; after all, he was the one helping Harry with the whole vampire business and had actively hidden Draco from Voldemort. Plus, Dumbledore did not know about the whole vampire thing nor Draco and his relationship, and Harry wanted to keep it that way. Sirius had reluctantly acquiesced at that. Later on though, he slipped Harry a package, telling him it could be used to contact him if things went bad with Snape. Harry wasn’t sure if he’d use whatever it was or not-- it could cause him to get reckless and try to go “save” Harry or something. Then again, if Lupin was living here now, perhaps he could keep the other in line…

They returned to Hogwarts on the Night Bus rather than train-- in the name of safety-- to Harry’s disappointment. He had been hoping to see his Slytherin friends before class tomorrow; maybe he’d go after dinner if he could get away from the other Gryffindors. If he was lucky, they’d pull out some firewhiskey…

Instead, he was constantly bombarded with the DA members, asking for when the next meeting would be, all hoping it’d be sometime within the next few days, it seemed-- such an impatient lot. Over the break Draco had tepidly wondered if maybe he could join the DA too; Harry had discussed it with Ron and Hermione. The latter had been completely fine with it, but the former became outraged… which, Harry gloomily admitted, would probably be the reaction of many of the members. He rolled the idea to Draco of starting a separate group with Slytherins who wanted to learn, but Draco had shot that down immediately, asserting that Harry already had too many things to deal with and making another group would only add to that; he did not want a repeat of the situation he had had to save Harry from.

 

*********

 

The following day, Harry was approached by Cho Chang after potions class, as he chatted in the corridor with Draco, Blaise, and Daphne, all catching up on how their holidays went-- Ron and Hermione had left with Neville, a bit annoyed at Harry scoffing them off, but they’d get over it; they had been with him all of break, after all.

“Hello, Harry,” Cho greeted him, glancing at the Slytherins with a bit of apprehension.

“Er, hey, what’s up? Sorry for running out on you before break.” It was quite obviously a half-hearted apology, but Cho apparently did not catch that. Draco looked annoyed-- if he had his way, Harry would never speak with Cho again, let alone attempt to apologize, no matter how half-hearted it was.

“Oh, no, it’s okay-- I was the one crying everywhere; anyone would feel awkward about that, I’m sure.”

“Ah, well, that’s not quite--”

“Anyway, so,” Cho interrupted, her nervousness obviously enhanced by the three Slytherins watching. “Um, did you look at the notice board? There’s a Hogsmeade visit next month…”

“Okay. And?” Harry didn’t like where this was going, and apparently neither did Draco, whose deathglare reminded him of a basilisk.

She seemed a touch surprised by his blunt reply. “Well, it’s on Valentine’s day, so I was wondering--”

“He’s going with someone else.” Draco interrupted coldly. “So if you wouldn’t mind leaving now…”

“Draco!” Harry scolded. “Be nice!”

Cho looked nearly in tears now. “...I’m sorry. I didn’t know… I’ll see you around then, I guess.” She scurried off quickly.

Harry rounded on Draco. “What the hell was that?”

“You know very well what! She had no right to ask that!”

Harry sighed. “Okay, fine, can we not get into this in the middle of the hallway? People are staring…”

“...I take it something happened over break?” Blaise asked.

“Yeah, a lot did; I’ll tell you about it later. Somehow, I have a free night, if you want to all hang out…?” His first Occlumency lesson had been scheduled for that night, but Snape had apparently decided to postpone it, saying Harry should have the first night back to relax instead. Harry was surprised at this; Snape seemed to care more about Harry than he used to, especially in regards to his mental wellbeing.

“Of course! You’re always welcome with us!” Daphne beamed.

“And there’s plenty of firewhiskey to go around.” Blaise winked. “And I might have gotten my hands on something else fun over the break…”

Draco raised his eyebrow. “And what, pray tell, might that be?”

Blaise chuckled lightly. “That, my friend, is a surprise… but don’t worry, you’ll find out later.”

 

*******

 

“Well, I’m off to Occlumency!” Harry told Ron and Hermione that evening. Which, of course, he wasn’t, but they didn’t know that; he hadn’t told them it had been cancelled, in anticipation of meeting the Slytherins instead, whom they didn’t know about yet.

“A little cheerful for seeing Snape, aren’t you?” Ron asked with a snort.

“Er. Sooner I get there the sooner I can return?”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “It’s also a little earlier than he said to be there; let me guess,” she smirked, “meeting Draco beforehand?”

Harry blushed, “Er---”

“What? You’re calling him Draco now too?!” Ron burst out.

“Ron, he’s Harry’s friend, so--”

“Yeah but that doesn’t mean he has to be our friend too.”

Harry slipped out while they were bickering, heading down to the dungeons. He was meeting Draco, yes, but not only Draco-- Adrian, Blaise, and Daphne would be there too. He approached the Slytherin common room, where they were waiting for him.

“Harry! Over here!” Adrian waved, the other hand holding Daphne’s. “How have you been?”

“Well, I spent Christmas with Draco,” Harry grinned.

“Oooh! Draco, you didn’t tell me that!” Daphne squealed, as Draco blushed.

“Er, well, I never had a chance; weren’t we waiting until tonight to all talk anyway?”

“Well, let’s get to it then! Let’s go!” Blaise began walking away from the common room.

“Blaise? Where are you going?” asked Harry.

“Oh, right now Nott is camped in the room with Crabbe and Goyle,” Daphne told him, as they all followed Blaise. “But Adrian here had a wonderful idea…” He led them down a corridor he had never seen before, neither in person or on the map, although truthfullly he hadn’t really studied the dungeon part of the map; there had been no reason too. Harry thought about last year-- if anyone had told him he’d be actively seeking out Slytherins and going to some mysterious place with them merely for enjoyment, he’d have written them off as crazy.

The wonderful idea had been to take an unused room deep in the dungeons and turn it into a lounge of sorts. The room appeared to have been an office before; the door was windowless, and the room itself was about half the size of a classroom, with a desk on one side and unused bookshelves around the walls. Adrian, who was studying NEWT-level transfiguration, transfigured all of this into a couch, a loveseat, three armchairs, and a coffee table, all in shades of brown-- the things had all been made of wood thus took on those colors-- making a little lounge of sorts.

“This is brilliant!” Harry declared.

“Why thank you,” Adrian said, bowing theatrically. He was a bit of a jokester, like Lee Jordan was. Ron didn’t know what he was missing by dismissing all Slytherins as cold, dark, nefarious people; Harry felt like Ron and Adrian could have gotten along well if Ron would give him a chance, but the probability of that was slim.

Adrian sat on an armchair with Daphne in his lap, Blaise sprawled out on the couch, and Harry and Draco sat together on the loveseat.

“So,” Blaise turned to the pair, grinning. “Let me guess. Finally did something about all that sexual tension?”

Draco and Harry turned deep red at that implication.

“Oooh, so you did?” Daphne asked excitedly.

“J-just made out some,” Draco told her. “Nothing further.”

“Yeah, but only because we kept getting interrupted,” Harry teased him, though still blushing excessively.

“Details, I need details!” You could feel delight radiating from her. “Oh, and firewhiskey would be nice too.”

So, they pulled out the firewhiskey, and Draco and Harry explained what had happened with all of that, followed by the holiday events, minus the vampire parts, as always, and minus some things relating to the order. The three had already been told all about Sirius weeks ago, but the thing about Harry’s scar was new to them. Their faces were a mix of awe, worry, and apprehension.

“You don’t think he can see what you see, can he?” Blaise asked.

“Well, no-- I don’t think he’s aware about the connection yet. But the snake thing had been the largest incident, and the only one that has actually affected him; he’ll probably be looking into how Mr. Weasley was found so quickly. That’s why Snape is going to teach me Occlumency, in order to try to prevent that.”

“That seems like a good idea.” Adrian said. “Though I do wonder why that isn’t a normal part of the curriculum here. Occlumency is a really great skill to have; the mind is just as important as the body, after all, and should be defended as such. It really should be taught in defense class.”

“Agreed.” Draco confirmed. “Now, Blaise, I believe you mentioned some sort of surprise earlier? I am curious as to what it is.”

Blaise grinned mischievously. “Yes, I believe I did…”

Adrian chuckled. “Blaise, you do realize there are two prefects here, right?”

“Oh, like you or Draco would honestly do anything about it.”

“Do about what?” asked Draco.

“Exactly.”

“Actually Blaise, I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about…”

Daphne giggled. “Really, Draco? You have no idea? What would Blaise tout as more fun than firewhiskey? Though I haven’t tried anything like that yet either, so you’re not alone there…” She had her arms snaked around Adrian’s neck, face flushed, head practically buried in his chest as she curled up in his lap.

“Oh, that stuff. Really, Blaise? You snuck that stuff into the castle? Do you know what would happen if Umbitch discovered that? And for your information, Daphne, I have tried things, courtesy of Blaise’s holiday party last year, which you missed.”

“Er. Could someone fill me in on what the hell you’re talking about?” Harry asked. He was pressed up against Draco, both arms wrapped around one of Draco’s and his head leaning on his shoulder. Draco noted that Harry was a little more out of it than the rest of them were, except for maybe Daphne-- they were really doing a number on that firewhiskey.

Blaise laughed. “Oh, you’re in for some fun…” he pulled out a tiny purple silk bag. “This, in here, is called Nyx. It’s a powdered potion; all you need to do is mix a pinch of it with a little liquid-- firewhiskey is a good choice-- and you’ll feel the most wonderful you ever have felt.”

Harry’s eyes widened as he sat up a bit straighter. He’d heard about this type of thing before, and was extremely curious. The logical part of his brain said it probably wasn’t a good idea, but the firewhiskey said otherwise.

Adrian raised an eyebrow. “Nyx? Seriously? Where’d you manage to find that? I assumed you’d bring Aphrodite or Dionysus.”

Draco blinked. “Isn’t that stuff highly illegal?”

Blaise laughed. “Does that matter? So is the Aphrodite you gleefully took last year. With beautiful results, might I remind you.”

Draco blushed. “Shut up. Fine, let’s do this.”

Daphne giggled. “Yessss, I finally get to try some! Adrian, have you had it before?”

“Once. And yes, it was pretty bloody amazing. I agree, let’s do this.”

“Even though you’re prefects?” Blaise teased.

“Hey, we’re currently smashed via firewhiskey; you think that isn’t against school rules already?”

“Point. Okay, give me your glasses…” Blaise refilled them with firewhiskey and then sprinkled a pinch of the purple and silver powder into each glass, turning the firewhiskey into what looked like a galaxy in a glass: dark blacks, purples, and blues swirled around each other, with flecks of silver throughout. No wonder it was called Nyx.

“Bottoms up!” Blaise said, making a toast, and everyone downed their glasses.

It felt to Harry as though a cool liquid metal slid down his throat, snaking through his veins, merging with his body and mind. He was floating on the edge of the galaxy, yet in the room at the same time. Everything around him looked different, all in bright hues that he had never seen before, colours out of space itself. “This is amazing…” he whispered, leaning back to drape over Draco’s knees, stretching his arms above his head.

“Mhm, it sure is…” Draco pet Harry’s head absentmindedly, and Harry moaned slightly.

“Get a room, you two,” Daphne giggled, although the situation with her and Adrian wasn’t much different, especially since she seemed to now lack a shirt.

Harry felt a sight weight on the couch. “Hello, boys,” cooed Blaise, who had come from behind, draping himself over the back of it, arms around Draco. He also had lost his shirt.

“Hey, he’s mine,” complained Harry.

“Aww, can’t you share him?”

“Nope. He’s all mine…”

“Boo, you’re no fun.”

BAM. The door flung open. “What are you snakes doing to Harry?!” Ron yelled, barging in, as they all froze.

“I’m sorry, Harry, I couldn’t stop him,” Hermione apologized rapidly, “You weren’t back yet so he went to Snape’s but then saw the map showed you here with the Slytherins and he snapped…”

“Er…” Harry didn’t know what to say to that-- or, more like, he could barely even process what the heck had just happened in order to respond.

Hermione had actually processed the scene by that point: Daphne and Adrian almost fused into one person, the boys in a pile on the couch, a deep scent of alcohol through the room as some of the firewhiskey bottles had now fallen over, a little purple bag on the table… She was at a loss for words.

“See? They are doing something to him!” Ron proclaimed. “I knew that ferret was up to no good!”

“Ron, I don’t think that’s what’s going on here…”

“Ah, I can explain!” Harry slurred, attempting to stand, and utterly failing. Blaise tried to catch him, but there was a couch in the way, so he just rolled over the couch right on top of Harry. Draco pushed Blaise off and tried to help Harry up, only for him to fall down too.

“I guess I won’t bother to get up then, if all that happens is tumbling into the pool of flowers…” Daphne mused.

“The what?” Ron asked, very puzzled.

“Draco! Adrian!” Hermione scolded. “You two are prefects, are you not?”

“Er, I think so? I am, right?” Adrian asked. “A disciple of Hastur, those who wear the mask...”

“No, Adrian, a prefect is, uh...” Draco slurred slightly. “It’s like, people who fly to the moon and do stuff with points.” He pulled himself back onto the couch, dragging Harry with him.

“Are you all drunk?” Ron asked, a look of shock on his face.

“Drunk? Nah, we’re better than drunk,” Blaise proclaimed, somehow staying on his feet as he lept up. “You want some? Plenty for all!!”

“No we most certainly don’t want some!” Hermione huffed.

“But Hermione, don’t you want to see the space colours?” Harry asked her.

“Space...colours?” Ron asked. “What the bloody hell are you going on about, mate?”

“I have half a mind to go report this, you know.” Hermione told them.
“What?!” They all exclaimed, beginning to protest, though only managed strings of incomprehensibility.

“I won’t, because Harry’s my best friend, but seriously?! If anyone else had caught you, you’d be on your way to expulsion, possibly Azkaban, if that bag contains what I think it does!”

“But… space colors.”

“No, Harry, we are at Hogwarts, not in space. I’m taking you back. The rest of you better get this cleaned up asap, and I better not find Harry in a state like this again!” She grabbed Harry by the wrist.

“No!” Harry yelled. “I’m staying with Draco!” He pulled away and then tightly wrapped his arms around Draco.

“And don’t forget me!” Blaised cheered, joining them to make a Harry sandwich.

“Blaise sod off, I said he’s mine,” Harry pouted.

“Ah, but you’re up for grabs!”

“No, no one is up for grabs!” Hermione yelled. “Now, Harry, let’s go!” She pulled him away from the two, quite easy to do in the state he was in. “And I better not catch one hint of that stuff”-- she pointed at the purple bag-- “around you ever again! Honestly!”

“Er, Hermione?” Ron had realized something. “How are we going to get him back to the tower like that?”

“You won’t!” Harry smugly stated. “Now join us or go away. There’s plenty for all, as Blaise says!”

But they did, somehow, get Harry back to the tower, with the help of the map and a silencing charm.

“Phew, finally,” Ron wheezed, upon getting Harry into the portrait hole, at the precise moment the silencing charm wore off. Neville, Fred, and George were the only ones still up, the former doing homework and the latter fiddling with some contraption.

“Whoa, what happened to him?” Neville asked. Harry was still mumbling something about space colours, as well as something called “Azathoth”, swaying back and forth, seeming totally unaware of where he was.

“Apparently, he got drunk with Draco and some other snakes,” Ron replied.

“Drunk?” Fred asked. “George, does he look drunk to you?”

“Nah, he is definitely more than just drunk.” They were about a foot in front of Harry, examining him.

“More? I mean, I guess there was a lot of firewhiskey bottles there…”

“Ron,” Fred said, putting an arm around his shoulders. “Ron, Ron, Ron… you are still so naïve…”

“So, Harry, whatcha on?” George asked, trying to get Harry’s attention.

“Huh?” Harry muttered something about metallic galaxies and then said “Iä... Cthulhu fhtagn.”

“Aw, man...” Fred seemed quite awed. “That had got to be Nyx.”

“Seriously?” George replied. “Where the hell did you get that, Harry, and, more importantly, where can we?”

“Mmm, the dark, dark, dungeon abyss…”

“...Well that’s useful.”

“Er. What’s Nyx?” asked Ron.

“Isn’t that highly illegal?” Neville asked. “Like, at the top of controlled substances?”

“Hmph. You’re no fun.” Fred pouted.

“Fred? George? Do I smell hard alcohol on you as well?” Hermione asked, frowning.

The two quickly denied that, grabbed their contraption, and dashed to their rooms.

“Er. I still don’t know what Nyx is.” Ron mused.

With sudden clarity, eyes sharp, Harry told him: “Nyx is the tears of the Hyades as they connect Carcosa and Rl’yeh via the cloudy depths of Demhe so we can all fly to Celephaïs.”

 

*******

 

Harry woke up in his bed, feeling very lightheaded. Wait, woke up? He was sleeping? No, it wasn’t really sleep, vampires don’t sleep, but they could still be knocked into an unconscious state similar to it if injured, he recalled Draco saying. But then what had injured him? His memories of the past night were foggy at best. Something about being in a galaxy…

“He’s awake!” Neville called.

“Meow!” called Crookshanks, next to him.

“Thank Merlin.” Ron came running in, toothbrush still in mouth.

“Ron, finish brushing your teeth,” Hermione scolded, and he sheepishly complied. “Harry, we have class soon, are you okay to go?”

“Er, yeah, maybe? What happened?” He sat up, slightly dizzy again.

Ron returned, and he and Hermione recounted how they had found him. “Seriously, mate, what was it you were on? Fred and George said they thought it was some potion called Nyx?”

“Oh, yes, Nyx!” Harry remembered.

“Why would you even consider taking that stuff, Harry?” Neville asked.

“Er, well… I dunno, I was very drunk already and pretty much everything seems like a good idea when you’re drunk.”

“Well, hopefully that experience taught you a lesson, then.” Hermione concluded, assuming his experience had been as bad as theirs had been dealing with him.

“Lesson?”

Hermione stared at him. “Yes, lesson, as in you were really messed up, so won’t try it again; it must have been horrible, being in that state! You sure you’re okay?”

“Just a touch hungover. But not so bad; I’d expected worse in exchange for such a rush.” Harry considered it might be so light due to him being a vampire; he hoped that wasn’t the case, and the others were fine too.

“A rush?” Hermione appeared confused. “Surely you don’t mean…?”

“That it’s the best thing in the whole universe?”

Ron blinked. “Surely that’s an exaggeration.”

“Er. Maybe. But, it does make you feel like you’re one with the universe.”

Hermione sighed. “I think you may still be a touch out of it… let’s head to breakfast, get some food in you; that’ll help get you in a better state.”

Breakfast, however, did not get him in a better state. Harry was relieved to see Draco and the others appeared to be fine, but that joy was soon quashed: Breakfast had brought with it the Daily Profit, whose front page story featured, as it often did, Harry; however, it was in a slightly different vein this time:

The Boy-Who-Lived: The Next Dark Wizard?
Sources tell us that Harry Potter, once considered a hero for defeating You-Know-Who yet now thought crazy by many as he touts the defeated dark wizard’s return, may in fact be going dark himself. He has been spotted actively seeing out and collaborating with Slytherin students, including some from families known to dabble in the Dark Arts.
“We’ve suspected it for a while,” our anonymous source reveals. “Initially it was thought he was merely doing homework since it was just one, who he’s been assigned partners with in a class, but then we began getting suspicious that it was something more after starting to see them with no schoolwork in sight, sometimes even laughing together.”
These suspicions proved true after class Monday morning, when Potter left the room amicably chatting with a group of three Slytherin students and then went on to torment another. “They were acting like old friends,” our source tells us. “Then, when one of our friends, a Ravenclaw, went to talk to Harry, they absolutely ridiculed her, sneering and glaring the entire time. I don’t know what was said, but she ran away in tears, and after she left they were back to talking and laughing, like nothing had happened.”
Could Potter have actively bullied another student? Why is he consorting with Slytherins when he is a Gryffindor? How long has this been going on behind our backs? The evidence is in front of us: Potter is no longer, or perhaps never was, the pure-hearted savior that he had previously been thought to be.

Chapter Text

Harry became fairly reclusive the next few days, weary as all the students he passed by either asked him curiously about the article, expressed their severe distaste at his choice of friends, or moved away from in in fear. Harry wasn’t new to this, considering how often the press badmouthed him, but it didn’t make things any easier. He had scheduled a DA meeting for Friday evening, but was considering moving that, because Umbridge seemed to be paying him extra attention after that article. Harry was not looking forwards to the DA meeting this time; he had no clue who would show up-- he highly doubted Cho and her friends would be there, at least-- and if any one them held stock in the article. Things could be a little tense, to put it lightly, and he’d have much explaining to do. Luna would also ask about him and Draco of course, which was fine-- both he and Draco had agreed telling her would be okay-- but he hoped she had the tact to ask in secret rather than blurt it out with the others there, like she had back in Hogsmeade months ago with his sexuality.

But before that, Harry had to get through his first Occlumency lesson with Snape on Thursday evening, which he was not looking forwards to at all. True, Snape had been nicer to him-- “You are less like your father than I thought,” he had said in passing one day, confusing Harry; had his father and Snape not gotten along? He and Sirius sure didn’t, the latter who had been best friends with his father…

“Come in,” said Snape, and Harry knocked on the door.

Upon opening it, a blonde blur tackled him. “Harry!” Draco called, hugging in tightly. “I missed you!”

“Er. Hi, Draco. You just saw me earlier in potions though?”

“Yes, but that was just in class. We actually haven’t been alone since… er… well, you know.” He snuggled into Harry.

“But we’re not alone,” Harry pointed out.

“No, you aren’t,” Snape acknowledged. “Now, boys, if you don’t mind untangling yourselves, I’d like to get to the lesson. If you interrupt like that again, Draco, I will have to ask you to leave.”

“Yes, sir,” the blonde said sheepishly.

“Why are you here, Draco?” Harry asked him. “Will you be learning it too?”

“No.” Snape told him. “He already knows the basics. He’s here merely because he insisted on staying, and his reasoning why seemed fair, so I am letting him.”

“I thought it would be best if I were here with you, in case something happens, like another panic attack.” Draco explained. “Part of it will involve Professor Snape delving into your mind via legilimency, at first so you can recognize what it feels like and then as practice as you try to learn the techniques. Sometimes bad memories may resurface. At least, that’s what he did when he taught me.”

Snape explained to Harry specifically what legilimency and occlumency were, and why precisely Dumbledore thought Harry should learn it. After he placed some memories in a pensieve, he told Harry to stand, pointing his wand at him and instructing Harry to try to defend himself.

“Legilimens!” Snape called. Flashes of memories spun through Harry’s mind… as it began to show what he and the Slytherins had done the other night, Harry recoiled and managed to push Snape out. He was in Draco’s arms now; apparently he had started to fall.

Snape chided him about losing control of his magic-- Harry had not intended to use a stinging hex to thrown him out. Harry asked if Snape had seen it all, to which Snape told him it had only been flashes; not as much as Harry had experienced. Harry winced, though, as Snape asked about a memory of a dog chasing him; Harry answered, though, telling him it was his Aunt Marge’s.

“What? Your aunt let a dog chase you? Wait, that’s not the same one you said you lived with...” Draco seemed worried.

“Er, yeah, she’s my uncle’s sister, actually. She always brought her dogs when she visited, and had them, well…”

“And the ones laughing were the ones you lived with, correct?” Snape queried, upon which Harry nodded.

Draco seemed disturbed at this. “Harry, you are definitely never going back there again; I don’t care what Dumbledore says. Please promise me you won’t go back.”

“I can’t promise that, Draco. Dumbledore--”

“I will speak with Dumbledore about it again,” Snape told him. He had tried once before, only to be met with that same excuse Dumbledore always used, that he needed the blood magic. “Now, let us continue. Try clearing your mind beforehand, think about something other than memories. Control your emotions.”

Harry tried, as Snape attacked his mind a few more times. A couple breaks were needed for Draco to help Harry calm down a little bit, when some bad memories came up, like the graveyard, but nothing progressed to a full attack; Harry thought he was doing okay overall, as he had been already working on emotional control for a while, and Snape seemed fairly satisfied.

However, this didn’t last as a certain slew of memories began to bubble forth-- all related to something he had never wanted anyone to know. Harry was 9, and had accidently scraped his arm on a loose nail in the cupboard, though didn’t attempt to heal it as he was fascinated by the blood, and had felt a jolt of feeling through it; he hadn’t felt much lately and the experience was exciting. Harry was 10, scraping himself with a shard of glass; his aunt had seen, and told him it was unseemly to do around others, sending him to his cupboard. Right after second year, using a piece of a china; he had broken a cup, which had resulted in being sent to his room with no dinner. Last year, tracing patterns over his skin with the knife Sirius had given him. A few days prior, the night of the newspaper article, digging the knife so deep into the skin that blood would trickle out before mostly healing, though the scar would be there for days…

Snape ended it, a horrified expression on his face. Harry was in tears now, Draco holding him, wondering what had been seen. Snape rushed over, pulling Harry’s sleeve up and using a spell to remove the cover-up.

Draco gasped. He stared wide-eyed at the scars for a few moments, then whispered a single word: “Why?”

Harry was shaking now, seemingly trying to hold the tears back. “I-I-” he choked. “I-It’s- I-I- I don’t know! I just- it- I don’t know.”

“Shh, Harry, you can cry, it’s okay,” Draco whispered, holding him tightly now, rubbing a hand through Harry’s hair soothingly. “It’s okay. Don’t try to speak, just let it all out…” Harry grabbed the front of Draco’s robes and curled into him. They stayed in this position for five minutes, at least, Harry crying more tears than he ever knew he had, Draco holding him close and whispering consoling words in his ears.

“I-I’m sorry,” Harry mumbled, once the tears had stopped, though his heart had sped up a little. “Please, don’t hate me, please, I’m sorry, I know it’s bad, I really do, but it helps, so I keep doing it, even now, even though now it heals fast and the pain is reduced making me need to drive it so deep in, please don’t hate me please.” His heart was definitely racing now, eyes darting all over, shaking again… panicking.

“Harry, why would we hate you for this?” Draco asked quietly, holding his face to stare into his eyes.

“I- well- I- because-”

“There’s no answer to that, is there? We could never hate you. I could never hate you. I love you, Harry, understand? I love you.”

Harry quieted a little. “You do?”

“Yes, I do. But you need to stop doing this. It hurts me to see you in pain. Please, come to me next time you want to do that, okay? Doesn’t matter where I am or what I am doing-- You are more important to me than anything else. Please, believe that. You are important. You are loved. Don’t do this to yourself.”

Snape, who had apparently left the room, returned with a calming draught for Harry, who drank it down rapidly.

“Thank you.” Harry said, once fully calm. “I’m sorry.”

Draco sighed. “Harry. How many times must I tell you that it isn’t your fault? Don’t be sorry about this.” He turned to Snape. “Is it okay if we leave now, Professor? I’ll watch Harry tonight.”

“Draco, I cannot simply ignore this. Harry, you need to start seeing a mind healer.”

“And tell that what?” Harry retorted. “That I became vampire after trying to kill myself? That I see and feel things Voldemort does hundreds of miles away, including seeing my friend’s dad be attacked through his snake’s eyes? That I witnessed my friend be murdered before being tied to a gravestone and tortured? That I’m forced to return to my aunt and uncle’s every summer by the supposedly greatest wizard in the world despite them being abusive assholes that actively wish me dead, call me ‘freak’ instead of my actual name, lock me in a room and starve me, yet that’s somehow better than any other form of protection? That I am ridiculed everywhere I go because they all think I’m a liar who is on the path to becoming the next Voldemort, all because of a few friends I made? That I nearly died from basilisk poison while some memory thing tried to kill my friend to resurrect itself? That sometimes I feel so empty and broken inside that my only solace since a child has been slicing my arm open because at least it makes me feel something, and my aunt’s reaction was ‘go do it in private’? That I’m constantly worried about my godfather, who is also extremely depressed as he is locked up in hiding due to being an escaped prisoner from Azkaban? They wouldn’t believe half of that, and lock me up for it, thinking I’m just another crazy person spewing nonsense! And once I’m there they’ll find out what I am, and the Ministry will probably get involved, and then when the press gets wind of that...”

Snape was quiet for a moment, then closed his eyes. “I can see your point… please, though, do try to be careful, Harry. You are not alone; you can even talk to me if needed. Draco, I expect you to be looking out for him.” Snape told him firmly. “You are to check his arms every night, understand?”

“Yes, sir,” Draco told him.

The two left Snape's office, heading to the lounge they had made the other night. It had been fully cleaned up, not a hint of the other night’s shenanigans in sight.

In the doorway, however, Harry collapsed, clutching his scar. “Harry!” Draco called, as Harry began laughing maniacally. Once it calmed down, Draco helped him up, asking, “Was it another vision? Is someone else hurt?”

“No, no, sorry… no, it’s just, he’s excessively happy about something, though I’m not sure what…”

Draco was quiet for a moment. Should they tell the order? Maybe, but not now; it could probably wait until tomorrow regardless. “Well, it’s no use worrying about it now, right? Hey, do you have the Walkman with you? Music will help.”

They snuggled together on an armchair, Harry in Draco’s lap like Daphne had done with Adrian the other night. They put the headphones in, quietly listening to the music, singing along softly to ones they knew.

“Carry on my wayward son, there'll be peace when you are done, lay your weary head to rest, don’t you cry no more…”

Chapter Text

“Harry, you need to eat more food. You can’t just have a piece of sausage for breakfast.” Hermione scolded.

Harry looked at her, fiddling with the sausage a bit. “I’ll eat more, there’s time.” He told her, sticking the sausage in his mouth. He already had eaten-- well, drank-- something more, of course, before breakfast, but he couldn’t tell them that.

“Seriously though,” Ron piped up. “You’ve been barely eating anything lately, for months now! I mean, you’ve always eaten very little, but this is ridiculous.”

“Fine, whatever, I’ll eat something else,” Harry snapped, grabbing a roll and taking a huge bite out of it. “Happy?” He said around it.

At that moment, the post arrived, creating a distraction, to Harry’s relief. Relief that lasted all of five seconds before seeing the front page spread: “Mass Breakout From Azkaban: Ministry Fears Black is ‘Rallying Point’ For Old Death Eaters.” Well, there’s why Voldemort had been so happy. Great. Harry supposed he’d have to be even more careful going around anywhere... Plus, the news had shifted from Harry to Sirius; though Harry was relieved the heat was off him, he didn’t want it to be back on Sirius either!

Neville moved to the seat next to them, a dejected look painting his face. “Well, guess everyone knows now.” He gestured towards the paper, specifically at Bellatrix’s picture. “Though I suppose Gram will be happy…”

“I’m sorry, Neville,” Hermione consoled him, hand on his shoulder.

“It’s okay… people have been asking questions already though; it isn’t going to end, is it, Harry?”

“Don’t worry,” Harry told him. “The press gets on about something new all the time, and then people get bored about the last thing in it.”

“But this type of thing? People will be talking about it for a long time! How do you deal with it, Harry?”

‘I don’t’, Harry wanted to say, but instead he told Neville, “It can be annoying, but hey, at least it’s positive things they’re saying, right?”

“Ah, yeah, that is true. How my parents were heroes and stuff, and how they’re sorry, and whatnot. It’s just a subject I don't like talking about, and now it’s all over, you know?”

“Yeah, I understand.” …’a little too well,’ he added to himself.

 

*******

 

Their first class of the day was Care of Magical Creatures. After breakfast they had learned that Hagrid was on probation, though that sadly hadn’t been surprising; many had actually been happy over that, Harry noted sadly.

“Hey, Harry?” Ron said on the way, catching him alone. He had a curious look on his face.

“What is it, Ron?”

“Well, it’s about last night; you didn’t return to the tower.”

“Oh, er, I-”

“I know where you were. I checked the map.”

Harry didn’t respond. He vowed to start taking that map with him everywhere, whether sneaking around or not.

“Don’t worry, I didn’t tell Hermione!” Ron assured him. “Just… were you doing that stuff again?”

“What?” Harry laughed. “Oh, no, nothing like that. Draco and I were just listening to music, and fell asleep.”

‘“Oh, okay.” Ron seemed satisfied with that answer.

They arrived at class. Hagrid taught them about some boring creature that Harry forgot the name of. Honestly it just looked like a normal leech, albeit slightly larger; apparently it had magical properties though, used in potions... He hadn’t been paying much attention though, since their task was feeding it chicken blood out of bottles. It smelled good; he remembered the rabbit Sirius had caught for him, how tasty that was.

“Hey, you okay, Harry?” Draco asked quiety, strolling over to him. “You took your potion, right?”

“Of course I did!” Harry was a little offended; he wasn’t that forgetful about it, was he? People looked over; he had said it fairly loudly. Harry lowered his voice so only Draco could hear. “It’s just, well, all this blood… you know, the rabbit really did taste wonderful, compared to the potion…”

Draco raised an eyebrow. “Seriously, Harry?”

Harry blushed. “I know, I know, I shouldn’t be thinking that, I just can’t help wondering, okay?”

Draco chuckled. “No, I understand. It is a bit better than the potion.”

“You’ve had animal blood too? When?”

“After I ran, before Snape found me,” Draco informed him. “He didn’t find me immediately; there were some weeks in between. It’s really true that you can’t fully survive on it though; by the time he found me, I was so starved for human blood that I very nearly took his.”

Harry’s eyes widened. “Wow. Why didn’t you say anything before?”

Draco shrugged. “The topic never came up… hey,” he said slyly, “If you want to try hunting, it’s quite fun… we could go tonight, see what’s in the forest…”

Harry raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”

“Yes. Won’t be as much out in winter, but I’m sure we can find something.”

“Sounds great, but I do have the DA tonight, and I should stay in the dorm-- Ron noticed I wasn’t there last night, but he accepted that we fell asleep while listening to music.” Truth be told, they actually did a little bit of making out and biting too, though nothing further-- Harry had been more in a cuddling mood, and Draco respected that. “Some other time though, definitely!”

 

*******

 

Harry, Ron, and Hermione were on their way to lunch together when Ron announced they needed to take a slight detour towards the hospital wing, claiming he needed some ointment for a skin reaction to a plant he had brushed up against in Herbology.

When they entered the hospital wing, Harry immediately realized that they were not there for ointment. Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall were both waiting, both looking at him pointedly. Harry tried to back up and leave out the door, but Hermione and Ron were in the way. Damn. Harry began to feel a little panicky, trapped like this, but he did his best to hold that down.

“I’m sorry, we had to,” Hermione told him sadly.

“What is this?” asked Harry. “Why did you bring me here?”

“You know why,” Ron told him.

“A-actually, I don’t.” Harry’s mind raced. Had they figured out what he was? Did they decide to report the drugs? Had his potions from Snape been discovered? Did they know about the cuts? Did they know about the panic attacks? Well, they might learn about the last one soon if they didn’t.

“Come with us. Mr. Potter,” Madam Pomfrey directed him to her office, followed by McGonagall; she requested Ron and Hermione to leave, which they did.

Once they’d all found seats, Professor McGonagall began speaking. “It’s been brought to our attention that you don’t seem to be eating properly.”

Harry relaxed a little. His eating. That’s all it was about. He could deal with that. “I eat fine.”

Madam Pomfrey frowned. “From what I’ve heard, you’ve been skipping meals and eating barely anything when you do. Your friends say they’ve practically had to force you to eat at times.”

“Well, er,” Harry began, “I mean, maybe I don’t always eat in the Great Hall, but I do eat! I just don’t always get hungry at those times. I go to the kitchens often; just ask the house elves. Oh, and sometimes I eat with Snape, during my extra classes with him.” He didn’t, but Snape would cover for him, he knew.

“And what exactly do you eat at those places?” Madam Pomfrey asked.

“All sorts of things.”

“Such as?”

“The elves make me steak and hamburgers cooked to my liking. The stuff served normally is cooked too much for me. The elves enjoy my company, or so they’ve said, and it’s nice to get away from the crowd sometimes.”

“So then why have you not told your friends this? They seem to think you aren’t eating at all.”

“Er. Well. It just never came up I guess.”

“I see. Well, regardless, I would like you to start reporting here to have your lunch each day.” Madam Pomfrey instructed.

“What! But--”

McGonagall interrupted. “No buts, Potter. This is non-negotiable.”

McGonagall left, and Madam Pomfrey brought Harry over to a table in the corner of the room, where a complete lunch had been portioned out for Harry. She monitored him while he reluctantly consumed it, trying to pretend he was happy to.

 

*******

 

Harry avoided Ron and Hermione the rest of the day, going as far as to sit with his Slytherin friends at dinner, to everyone’s shock.

“Er. You okay, Harry?” Adrian asked. “I’m not complaining, but I thought you didn’t like to draw attention to being with our group?”

“Just a bit miffed at Ron and Hermione. Wanted to sit with my boyfriend.” He slung his arm around Draco.

Draco blushed. “Er. Harry. Whereas I’m happy with the affection, people are staring…”

Harry laughed and removed his arm.

“Hey, Harry?” Someone tapped his shoulder. Harry turned to see Neville. “Do you mind if I sit here too…?”

Harry blinked in surprise. “If the others don’t mind…” Adrian did a thumbs-up and the other three smiled and nodded. “You sure, though? I thought you hated Slytherins, especially...”

“Not necessarily.” Neville said, sitting down. “There’s bad and good in all houses; look how much Luna gets bullied in her own house. If they’re your friends, they’re mine; If you like them, I know they must be good people.” He smiled.

Harry glanced at Draco. “Really? Draco too? I know your history hasn’t been stellar…”

Draco blushed. “Yeah, I wouldn’t blame you for hating me. I was really horrible to you in the past.”

Neville shook his head. “Water under the bridge; you’ve been much nicer lately. Well, except to Ron, but you have a right to be since he always seems to start things lately.” He smiled wryly. “Anyway, like I said, if Harry’s good with you, I’m good with you.”

Draco seemed to be at a loss of words.

Harry smiled brightly. “Brilliant!” He formally introduced Neville to Adrian and Daphne, since although he knew their names he had never interracted with them; he already knew Blaise since he worked with him in potions-- turned out they worked well together, actually, once they got over the initial annoyance. Glancing around, Harry noticed half the hall staring at the group.

“So, Neville,” Blaise began, “If it’s okay to ask, why did you decide to sit here?”

Neville sighed. “It’s just that so many people keep asking me about my parents, since the Prophet came this morning. I’m tired of it… but you won’t ask, will you?”

“Why would we need to?” Daphne asked. “We saw what happened in the paper; that’s plenty info.”

“Thank you,” Neville told her gratefully.

 

*******

 

Neville and Harry walked to the DA together, joined by Luna and Ginny, who were curious as to why they had sat with the Slytherins.

“Luna, don’t you sit with the Gryffindors more than your own house?” Neville pointed out. “It’s because your friends are there. Same thing; Harry’s friends were there, so he sat with them. I followed. They really aren’t that bad, actually.”

“Well, of course they aren’t,” Luna told them. “I don’t know why people dislike them so much… the Slytherins don’t call me Loony nearly as much as the others do.”

Ginny looked a bit guilty; she had called Luna that a lot before befriending her. She shifted the conversation to what Neville had been saying. “Even Draco?”

“Yeah, it seems he’s been trying to reinvent himself or something I guess… or maybe he’s always been this way, and was just trying to hide? I dunno why though. Did you know he’s in muggle studies now?”

“His father had him under pressure before to keep up the appearance of a ‘distinguished pureblood’ or something.” Harry answered.

“And he doesn’t now?”

“Er. Draco kinda… ran away. It isn’t my place to give more details as to why, but it seems he was always like this, just trying to hide, as you said. For example, he had always been curious about muggle things, but never took the class before because of his father’s disproval.”

“Draco is nice,” Luna mused. “A good choice for you, Harry. You did ask him, right? You have less wrackspurts now.”

Harry groaned. “Luna, that’s supposed to be a secret,” he told her, as the others looked at him curiously, pondering Luna’s meaning. “But, yes. It’s official.” He smiled.

“Oh, that is wonderful Harry!” Luna hugged him.

“But don’t go blurting it out!!” Harry reminded her. “We don’t want everyone to know. Not yet.”

“Whyever not? Love is a beautiful thing.”

Neville blinked, realizing what they meant. He did not expect that. “Well, then. Congrats, Harry.”

“I knew something was up!” Ginny said victoriously.

“Wait, what?” Now Harry was the one surprised. “How…?”

“Well, over break, you two seemed quite close in general, but it was the love bite that was the most suspicious.” She smiled, viciously yet teasingly. “Those do not come out of nowhere, and I’m pretty sure no one else in the house would have given it.”

Harry blushed. “Oh. Er. Well, we’re here, let’s get to it then. And please, don’t tell anyone else, especially not Ron; Ginny, you saw how he was at the house...”

Inside the Room of Requirement, Ron and Hermione were waiting for Harry.

“What the hell was that?!” Ron roared. “The Slytherin table? Really? And Neville, you too!”

“Th-they’re not as bad as you think!” Neville nervously retorted.

“Not as bad?! They’re bloody snakes! Especially Malfoy! Harry, he's playing you, definitely up to something!” Harry had expected Ron to be angry, but this was ridiculous…

“Playing…” Luna mused. “Perhaps that is a good word… Harry, do you and Draco--” Ginny slammed her head over Luna’s mouth.

“What did Harry just tell you?” Ginny hissed in Luna’s ear.

“Ron, please stop this,” Hermione begged.

“Oh? Don’t tell me you think they’re good people now, too!?”

“Well, actually, Ron--” She was interrupted by more people coming through the door.

There was a good amount of people at the DA meeting that night, more than Harry had expected. Actually, everyone was there, other than Cho and her friend Marietta. Harry wondered if Cho had actually been interested in learning defense, or if she merely had joined because she liked him. Many of them did express dislike at his new Slytherin friendships, but they all had decided that, whether or not they approved of Harry’s friend choices, he was a good instructor and they needed to learn, especially with all the escaped Death Eaters. Harry supposed that was the best he could have asked for.

 

*******

 

“Not another one!” Hermione angrily cried the next morning.

Harry and Ron-- whom Hermione had worked her magic on to somehow get them to make up-- had just descended the stairs, and ran over to her. “What’s wrong, Hermione?” Ron asked worriedly.

“Another educational decree. ‘Teachers are hereby banned from giving students any information that is not strictly related to the subjects they are paid to teach.’ She’s trying to control the flow of information, censor things, make us all good little sheep that follow every work that she-- no, that the Ministry-- says.”

“Wait, there’s one below it, too,” Ron pointed out. “‘All students must sit with their own house during mealtimes.’ Huh. Why would she make that one?”

“Because of me,” Harry replied glumly. “I disrupted her precious order, and she wants me to suffer for it.”

Chapter Text

“Hey, Harry,” Draco cooed, draping his arm around Harry and sliding in next to him-- at the Gryffindor table.

Harry’s face turned beet red, and he moved his boyfriend’s arm away. “D-draco! What are you doing here! Didn’t you read the decree?”

“Oh, I read it,” he said smartly. “I just don’t agree with it.”

“Does that matter? If she catches you, you’ll get detention!”

“So? I think I can handle one detention.”

“You’ve never had it with her though…”

“Hem, hem.” Umbridge had wasted no time strolling over; it was practically as though she had predicted this. “Mister Malfoy, I believe the new decree clearly states that you must sit at your own table.”

“There’s another decree?” Draco asked innocently. “I didn’t check the board this morning.”

“Ignorance of the law does not make disobeying it okay. Now, I think one hour of detention tonight would be appropriate, yes? Eight p.m. sharp, please. You too, Mister Potter.”

“What! But I didn’t do anything!”

“Tsk tsk. That will be two hours now. Mister Potter, whenever will you learn not to talk back?”

“You have no right--!”

“Another hour for you as well, Mister Malfoy. Please return to your own table now.”

 

*******

 

“That incorrigible bitch,” Draco muttered, on their way to Umbridge’s office. “Two hours detention, and you didn’t even do anything! I’m sorry, Harry; if I had known she would--”

“No, it’s not your fault,” Harry interrupted. “She’s been itching to give me another detention for months. I could have merely breathed in her direction and gotten one, at this point.”

When the two entered Umbridge’s office, she was sitting at her desk with a wide toad-like smile smeared across her face. “Hello, boys. Please, sit down.” She gestured to a couple of desks, each with a roll of parchment and a quill Harry recognized well. “You will be doing lines tonight. Mister Potter, as usual you will write ‘I must not tell lies.’ Mister Malfoy, you will write ‘I must not defy authority.’”

“Lines aren’t too bad,” Draco muttered, audible only to Harry’s ears.

“They’re not normal lines,” Harry told him grimly.

“You may begin, now,” Umbridge stated.

The two began to write. Harry winced; it was real pain. These quills were enchanted to prevent magical healing, to Harry’s dismay.

“Ow!” called Draco. “What the hell?!”

“Quiet, Mister Malfoy,” Umbridge chided, “Or you’ll require more detentions.”

The two wrote in silence, Umbridge occasionally ‘reminding’ them to write faster whenever they slowed down intentionally or, later on, because of the pain. Finally, it was time to leave; the two stumbled out the door, somewhat tired.

“I feel a bit dizzy,” Harry commented, leaning into Draco as they walked. “But I had the potion, before you ask!”

“I know you did. I’m feeling it too. I’m assuming because it was draining our blood, although I didn’t think it took that much…? We should see Snape. Oh, hello, Mrs. Norris.”

“Meow!” she greeted them, lacing around their ankles as they walked.

The two arrived at Snape’s chambers and explained what had happened. By the end, his eyes were narrowed and face looked like it was carved out of ice. “That bitch,” he hissed. Snape retrieved a bowl of essence of murtlap, and the boys immersed their hands in it, sighing in relief. Harry smiled as Draco interlocked their fingers.

“Professor? Why do we feel so tired after that?” Harry asked. “We both took our potions beforehand, and it didn't seem to take that much blood.”

“It would not have,” Snape confirmed. “I am not entirely sure why it is affecting you so much; I suspect it is a negative reaction to the enchantment on the quill that counteracts magical healing. Vampire bodies use a type of innate magic to increase their healing capabilities, thus blocking such would cause the body to strain itself in its attempts to counteract that. Similar potions tend to have that effect on magical beings as well.”

“So, what do we do about it?” Draco asked. “I swear, if I were human, I’d have passed out halfway through that.”

“And you probably would have, even as a vampire, had this continued,” Snape told him bluntly. “Please refrain from getting any more detentions with her.”

Harry huffed. “It’s not like I wanted to! Literally all I did was talk to Draco when he sat at the ‘wrong’ table. She’s been looking for any excuse she can to give me detention.”

“Aren’t those blood quills illegal, anyway?” Draco asked. “Or at the very least, against the rules to use on students?”

“You are correct; they are not permitted to be used on children.”

“Then why has she been allowed to get away with it?” Harry asked.

“Harry, you know why,” Draco sighed. “Because it’s her. She’s in the minister’s pocket; a blood quill can easily be overlooked when it comes to her. Even if people protest, she can just make another decree allowing use of torture or something.”

“Right… so what do we do about the strain?”

“Once it heals naturally, your body will stop fighting it, if it is anything like similar spells and potions,” Snape told him. “In the meantime, here’s a strength potion so you don’t pass out.”

 

*******

 

The next Hogsmeade weekend-- i.e., Valentine’s Day-- had arrived. It had been a few weeks since the detention, which, to Harry’s amazement, had passed very quickly and without incident-- well, other than the fact Umbridge had been monitoring every Divination and Care of Magical Creatures class. Oh, and the usual chatter about him being friends with the Slytherins-- Umbridge couldn’t prevent them speaking in class, at the very least, and she knew that preventing inter-house friendships entirely would result in too much unrest to contain easily. Plus, his scar was prickling a lot more lately, but not to an unmanageable amount. Otherwise, yeah, things were as best as he could expect, Harry told himself. Snape’s conjecture about the healing had been correct. The worst of it had been the first night, with the next couple days being a light throbbing until the scabs came off. Harry could still see a faint scar remaining, if it hit the light right; but that would fade away entirely, providing he didn’t get anymore detentions.

Occlumency lessons, DA meetings, increased homework now that OWLs were so close, and trying to divide his attention between his two friend groups-- the Gryffindors and Slytherins, the latter whom Neville and Luna had begun occasionally meeting with, and sometimes even drinking with, too-- had kept him busy. Nights were relaxing though, when Draco and Harry had time alone, upon whence they’d take walks, listen to music, fool around, or just sit by each other reading; they usually headed back to their respective dorms by midnight, but sometimes they’d spend the entire night together. Harry always brought the map, though he didn’t really need to use it to sneak around anymore, with both vampire senses and Mrs. Norris on his side-- it was more to prevent Ron from looking for him. Ron was a good friend, but for the life of him still couldn’t get over that stupid hate of all things Slytherin, though he didn’t usually fight with Harry about it anymore-- now, the hate had focused to Snape, whom Ron had decided must still be a Death Eater, intentionally weakening his mind instead of helping, since his scar was hurting more. But what could Harry say to argue with that? “Don’t worry, I trust him, because he helps me both with being a vampire and my mental problems?” Luckily he had Hermione to argue with Ron about that, her opinion being that if Dumbledore trusted him enough to allow him in the Order, that was good enough for her; if Harry said the same, Ron would be suspicious, since he knew Harry still disliked Dumbledore-- why shouldn’t he, when Dumbledore clearly disliked him?

“Hello, Harry,” came a voice that sounded as if it was lost in a dreamworld. Harry had been waiting at the front of the castle for Draco-- it was a nice cloudy day, with a hint of rain. Great for Harry, but Ron had been grumbling about it earlier, since he had quidditch practice.

“Hey, Luna,” Harry greeted her. “What’s up?”

Luna got right to the point. “Hermione wants to meet at the Three Broomsticks later. I will be there too. It’s a very important matter.”

“Oh, well, I kinda promised to spend the day with someone else already, Luna.”

“Oh, it’s okay, Draco can come too. He won’t mind.”

“How’d you know it was Draco?” Harry asked her, amusedly.

“Who else would it be? You have amourrikas following you, and they only appear when someone is waiting for a lover.”

Once again, Harry wondered if there just might actually be some truth in the odd creatures Luna always mentioned. Then again, Hermione had once told him that some people could read others’ auras… perhaps Luna was one of those people, and her mind merely interpreted the auric images as creatures.

“Loony Lovegood? THAT’S who you rejected me for?” Cho had been walking past with her date, Roger Davies.

“What?” Harry blinked. “Oh. Oh, no, that’s--”

Cho huffed in distaste. “Well, at least it’s not a Slytherin.” She strutted off with her date.

Draco approached at the same moment. “What did you do to make Cho so angry? Not that I’m opposed.”

“Apparently, she thinks Luna is my date today.”

Draco laughed. “That was her reaction to Luna? Merlin, imagine how she’d react to learning it’s actually me!”

“Well, I’ll see you lovebirds later, then,” Luna told them, as she strolled away. “Watch out for the Umgubular Slashkilter; Minister Fudge lets his out to hunt every third Saturday.”

“Wait, Luna!” Harry called. “You never told us what time to meet.”

“Time? Oh, I forgot,” she told him nonchalantly, wandering off.

Harry explained to Draco what was going on as they set off towards Hogsmeade. The two had been looking forwards to actually getting a full day together to do whatever they wanted, but it’d be fine to take a quick break to meet the others; an hour wasn’t really that long when you had both the entire day and night otherwise free. Daphne had informed them that she and Adrian would be going to Madam Puddifoot's, suggesting they join them for a double-date, but Draco had nearly vomited at the mere thought of being in that perfume-filled steambath of a cafe.

“Hey, Harry, let’s go this way.” Draco had a sly look on his face as he directed Harry towards a street he hadn’t seen before. Hogsmeade really was a lot larger than he had realized; the students generally stuck to the main downtown section, where all the popular places like Honeydukes and the Three Broomsticks were, so Harry hadn’t really ventured beyond that before, other than to go to the Hog’s Head. Draco clearly knew where he was going though. Finally, they stopped.

“A clothing store?” Harry asked, confused. “Why’d we walk so far for this?”

“No, not that one,” Draco gestured to a staircase leading downwards; there appeared to be a little pub called “Mindy’s” under the store. “Take your retainer and contacts out.”

“What? Why?”

“It’s a specialty pub, creatures only. I discovered it over the summer; Snape had me hiding in an inn nearby, and I got curious when I noticed so many non-humans entering. I went there quite a bit last summer.”

“Really? Never thought of you as the type of person to go anywhere near a dive like this.”

“Neither did I,” Draco laughed. “But there wasn’t much else to do, so I figured, what the hell, I’m basically disowned anyway, and a vampire at that, so no need to keep up any air of dignity. I met a bunch of nice people here, who helped me learn and understand things about what I was and how to live with it.”

“Sounds like a good place, then. But, Draco… won’t they know who I am?”

“Don’t worry about that; there’s basically an unspoken code among creatures not to out anyone, regardless of who they are. Our secret is entirely safe here, trust me; no one said anything about me after all, did they? I’m not as famous as you, but I am a Malfoy, so the papers would have surely said something.”

Draco and Harry entered the pub, flashing their fangs at the doorman. It was early, so very few were there. Harry noticed a tired-looking couple at a table in the corner had what seemed to be bird wings extending from their arms; there were long loose robes tossed over the chair next to them, which is how they must hide them elsewhere. A woman with bright red hair and small horns nursed a drink at one end of the bar; she glanced briefly at the two as they entered, upon which Harry noticed her eyes were pure red. Sleeping on a couch in the corner was a dark-furred man with long pointed ears wearing what appeared to be egyptian robes.

Harry and Draco chose to sit at the bar, on the other end of the woman. “Hey, Draco, nice to see you again!” The bartender smiled brightly as she walked over to him. The older woman had small goat horns sticking out of her short black hair, and wore a short skirt that showed off fur-covered deer-like legs, the same light brown as her skin, which ended in hooves.

“Hey, Mindy. This is my boyfriend, Harry!”

“It’s very nice to meet you, Harry.” Her eyes glanced up at the scar as she shook his hand, but she didn’t say a word about it. “What’ll you two be having?”

“Well, Harry’s never been to this sort of place before, so how about a menu?”

She handed them the menus, telling them to order whatever they liked, then went over to check on the harpy couple before talking to the red-haired woman. Harry asked Draco about that, and was surprised to learn that there was no true age limit enforced here, unlike at the wizarding pubs they usually went to. Apparently, Draco explained, the Ministry often avoided inspecting such places, due to the nature of the clientele. The drinks were… interesting, to say the least. There were your typical ones that Harry recognized, but there were also some unusual ones like “pine-sap daiquiri,” “maggot mai-tai,” “eel-egg cola,” and “bat-blood tea.” The food items offered were equally as varietated.

“Er.” Harry looked at Draco, completely unsure of what to get, and he explained what some of it was. Finally, they told Mindy their selection.

“So, what do you think?” Draco asked eagerly.

“It’s interesting,” Harry told him. “The menu is certainly something to behold.”

Draco chuckled at that. “Well, they cater to all sorts here. Fae, demon, therian, avian, insectoid, aquatic…”

“Aquatic? But I don’t see any water here...”

“Well not all aquatic creatures need to stay in the water; Selkies, for example. Which, again, we covered in first year.”

“Er, right,” Harry blushed. “I forgot.”

“Two bat-blood teas,” Mindy placed two glasses filled with a murky red liquid in front of them. “And pig-skin chips with blood-cheese dip!”

Harry wondered what his other friends would say if they saw him now, happily sipping what was essentially a long-island tea that substituted bat’s blood for the cola, and munching on what looked like fried leather dipped in a stringy burgundy sauce served out of a cow’s heart-- the center of which had been used for the dip.

They spent over an hour there, eating and chatting. At one point Mindy came over to them, along with the red-haired woman, whom was introduced to them as Shiki, Mindy’s girlfriend. She hailed from Japan, and told them many stories about the creatures there; despite being such a small area, apparently it had an excessive amount of magical creatures compared to most places. Eventually they remembered Hermione wanted to meet them, so finished their last round of drinks, said their farewells, and left for the Three Broomsticks, promising to stop by on the next Hogsmeade weekend.

“Hey, Draco?” Harry remembered something once they had left. “A few weeks ago, when feeding those leech things, you said we could go hunting sometime.”

“Yes, I did. You still want to?”

“Of course!

“Then how about we could go today, after the meeting?”

“Yes, I would like that.” Harry grinned, grabbing Draco’s hand as they walked.

They could hear the noise emanating from the Three Broomsticks half a block away, and it only got worse when they entered. The crowded pub seemed even more boisterous than usual, if possible; Harry lamented the quietness of the one they’d come from. They found Hermione and Luna at a round table in the corner, sitting with, of all people, Rita Skeeter.

“Harry!” Hermione called. “Where have you been? I told you to be here twenty minutes ago!”

“Well, that would have been fine,” Harry told her, as he and Draco sat down, “if we had been told what time to be here.”

“Didn’t Luna tell you to meet us at noon?”

“Oh, I forgot,” Luna mused, nibbling on the scallion she’d been stirring her drink with. “But that’s okay. Did you enjoy your date, Harry?”

“Oh? What was that?” Rita enquired, eyeing Harry. “And who might the lucky girl be?”

Harry ignored her, turning to Hermione to ask what was going on. Apparently, Rita would be interviewing him for a Quibbler article about Voldemort’s return.

Draco, sensing Harry’s apprehension, reached over and squeezed his hand. “I’ll be okay. You can do this.”

“Oh ho ho? Could this be? Is it not a girl? Could Draco Malfoy be the one dating Harry Potter?” Rita proclaimed. “I was wondering why he was here too… So, is it official? Have you kissed yet? Was this your first date? Where did you go?”

“It’s none of your business if they are or where he went,” Hermione told her, “And if any rumor about that gets out because of you, well, so will your little secret.”

 

*******

 

“I think Hermione knows,” Harry told Draco, once they were on their way out of the village. “That we’re boyfriends,” he clarified. “I mean, she didn’t confirm or deny it when Rita proclaimed such, nor did she seem surprised at all or asked who it was with when Luna asked how my date went.”

“Harry, she’s Hermione; I bet she’s known since the holidays.”

“I guess you have a point… so, where are we going, now?”

“I told you. Hunting.”

“Yes, but where?”

“The forest, of course. There’s an entrance just up ahead.”

“But if we’re caught in there…”

Draco laughed. “Harry. If we’re caught hunting, it’s not going to matter if it’s in the forbidden forest or a normal one.”

They began walking into the forest, and then Draco grabbed Harry’s hand and suddenly started running. They picked up speed, running faster and faster, beyond human constraints-- though not that much more-- yet never tiring, dodging trees and crashing through branches, until they were deep enough into the forest to be certain no one would find them.

The two took out their retainer and contacts, as well as their shirts and coats-- most students wore muggle-style clothing to Hogsmeade rather than robes-- so as not to get blood on them. They put these in a pile with their wands to retrieve later, since they wouldn’t need them and didn’t want to lose them while hunting.

“So, er, what do we do now?” Harry asked.

Draco shrugged. “Give into the vampire instincts. Here, hold my hand and close your eyes.” Harry did so. “Now, stand still. Don’t speak. Feel the life around us; the smells, the sounds…”

Harry did so. It was astounding, the amount he could sense, despite having his eyes closed.

The faint scent of soon-to-be rain hung in the air, but he could also distinguish the scent of soft moss on the ground, the bark of the trees, the different types of flowers and shrubs. There was a wild currant bush about ten meters from them; a deer had recently urinated there.

The sounds were multi-dimensional as well. A slight wind rustled both the leaves nearby and the feathers of a bird resting many meters above them. A beehive buzzed in a tree somewhere to his right. Water bubbled over rocks; there was a tiny stream nearby. Something trotted off in the distance, hooves on wet leaves, a heartbeat… the deer.

Harry opened his eyes. “I found something,” he told Draco. “A deer.”

“Oh? A deer, for your first hunt? Not something smaller? How very Gryffindor of you,” Draco teased.

“Do I just go run after it?”

Draco scoffed. “We’re fast, but not that fast. It’ll hear us, and then run beyond our senses before we catch up. No, we get closer first... here.” He jumped lithely onto a tree branch above them, Harry following.

Quickly yet carefully they darted through the trees, hopping from branch to branch, reminding Harry of a squirrel. After a bit, Draco held his arm out. “Wait. You see it there, walking?”

“Yes.” Harry could sense its heartbeat, too. He was aching to pounce on it, dig into it, taste the blood of the animal. “Attack now?”

“No, follow it a bit first, wait until it stops; if it’s already moving when it notices us, it’ll be easier for it to run.”

They followed the deer from the trees for a while, until it finally stopped. Harry tightened his muscles, getting ready to spring…

“Wait.” Draco whispered, grabbing Harry’s wrist. “Not this one, we’ll find something else.”

“What? Why? It’s right there,” Harry hissed.

“Look. It’s at a den. It has children. We can find something else.”

Harry acquiesced, and the two strolled through the forest, looking for something else.

“Hey, there’s a rabbit,” Draco told Harry. “Do you want to try for it first?”

“No… I want that,” Harry told him, pointing towards a hawk in a tree above them.

Draco raised his eyebrow at that. “A hawk? Really? There’s no way you can catch a hawk.”

“Watch me.” Harry slowly crawled up the tree they were in, all the way to the top, making no sound, remembering not to breathe. He was behind the hawk now, on the tree next to it. Up this high, Harry could see for kilometers. The castle was far off in the distance, and there was even another lake aways back; the forest was huge. There was an odd rock-like formation not that far ahead too. But Harry’s focus was on the hawk; it tucked its head down, opening the beak to preen its feathers…

Harry pounced, flying through the gap between the trees; he was at least fifty meters above the ground. The hawk squawked loudly as Harry clenched his hands around it, hearing the crunch of the delicate bones cracking. He landed lithely on a branch on the tree beyond it. After fighting with the large bird a little, Harry managed to get his teeth around its neck, biting down hard as it flailed, blood spurting everywhere, not bothering to actually kill it before beginning to drain the blood.

“Brutal,” Draco commented from next to him, a very amused expression upon his face. “At least I bothered to kill mine first.” Draco bit into the rabbit he had caught, blood dribbling down his chin.

Harry licked his lips. “Yeah, well, getting a hawk is much more impressive than a rabbit, at least.” He returned to his prey.

“You’re such a showoff.”

“You love it though,” Harry teased, grinning around the hawk in his mouth.

“That I do…”

An ear-splitting-- well, for a vampire-- rumble sounded from nearby, and birds began to flee the nearby trees.

“What was that?” Draco asked, rather fearfully.

“No idea… there aren’t giants or anything here, are there…?”

“No, those are in the mountains…”

The tree they were on began to move; something was pulling it out of the ground. They leapt to the following tree, but that tree was being pulled away too, so instead of landing lightly they tumbled down, down, down onto the forest floor, landing hard on their backs.

“Now, Grawp, don’t do that!” a nearby voice sounded.

“Er. What?” Harry said in confusion, slowly starting to stand up, though he ached all over.

“Harry, watch out!” Draco called.

Too late. A large hand gripped Harry around the leg, pulling him upwards, dangling him upside down. Harry was face-to-face with a very large human-like creature… a giant.

“Grawp? What d’ yeh got there…?” Yep, that was Hagrid. This is where he was getting all those bruises.

“Hagrid! Help!” Harry called, struggling against the beast.

“‘Arry? ‘Arry, what are you doing here? Grawp, you put him down this instant!”

Grawp didn’t seem to want to listen though. Finally, Harry bit Grawp’s finger, causing him to cry out in pain and drop Harry.

“Harry!” Draco called, stumbling as he caught him. They were both pretty bruised up after that fall; might take some time to heal. “You okay?”

“Y-yeah. Er. What do we do about this?” Harry whispered as Hagrid tried to console a very unhappy Grawp with a bleeding finger.

“Well, I don’t think he noticed what we are yet, maybe we can just slip away…?”

“And then have him panic at where we went, and call the whole school to search for us? Plus, I bit his pet, he’s going to--”

“What’s with ‘ese ‘ere teeth marks?” Hagrid muttered, as he applied some type of salve to them. “They ain’t like any ‘uman teeth I’ve seen…” He turned towards Harry and Draco.

“Er. Well… About that…”

“‘Arry, is tha’ blood on yeh?! Were yeh attacked? An’ Malfoy, too! What’ve yeh gotten yerselves into now? Wai’ a sec…” His eyes widened as he noticed the bloody hawk still clenched in Harry’s hand. Somehow, he had managed to hold onto it the entire time; Harry dropped it.

Harry looked at Hagrid with cat-like eyes, and winced at the look of horror that had come over the half-giant’s face. “...Surprise?”

“Y-yer- wha’- when- ‘ow- both o’ yeh- Merlin…”

“It’s, ah, kinda a long story,” Harry shifted his feet, and winced in slight pain; Draco helped steady him.

“Ah, yer’re hurt!” Hagrid started. “Wha’ ‘appened? Grawp, did you do this?” He turned to the giant.

“No, Hagrid, he-- well, I guess technically he did, but he didn’t know we were in the tree when he pulled it up.”

“Yeh fell ou’ o’ a tree?!”

“Er, well, kinda… er, Hagrid, don’t you care about what we are…?”

Hagrid laughed. “Vampire o’ not, yeh still are ‘Arry to me. ‘Sides, I’m ‘alf giant, an’ yeh don’ judge me fer it, righ’?” He continued once Harry nodded. “Righ’. Then le’s get yeh back ta my ‘ouse an’ clean yeh up, I’ll carry yeh.” Hagrid moved to pick him up.

Instead, Harry hissed, jumped backwards, tripped over the fallen tree, and fell on his arse.

“‘Arry?”

“Sorry. That was… instinctual, I guess. It’s fine, I can walk,” Harry told Hagrid as he stood up. “Ah!” Draco caught him as his ankle gave out.

Hagrid insisted on carrying both Harry and Draco back to his hut. On the way, he told them all about Grawp, and they told him about how they became vampires, with some edits. Hagrid was extremely interested in that, and kept asking them questions-- by the time they reached Hagrid’s hut, Harry knew what it felt like to be one of the creatures Hagrid studied.

When they got there, Harry found he could walk again.

Hagrid tossed a chicken at each of them, snapping the necks beforehand. “Blood ‘elps yeh heal, righ’? So drink. Where’re yeh wands an’ shirts an’ stuff?”

“Er. They’re in the forest,” Harry told him. “We didn’t think we’d need the wands while hunting, and didn’t want blood on the shirts.” He bit into the chicken; somehow, this didn’t disturb Hagrid at all-- well, he did work with dangerous creatures all day, so it wasn’t actually that surprising.

“Well, ‘o else knows?”

“Other than the Death Eaters?” Draco replied. “Sirius, Lupin, and Professor Snape.”

“Well, then, I’ll ge’ Snape, ‘e can help yeh get yer stuff.”

Harry and Draco looked at each other in horror. “No!” They called at the same time.

Hagrid blinked. “No?”

“Er, we’ll be healed soon, then we can go get our stuff,” Harry quickly replied.

“Yeah, no need to bother him,” Draco added.

Hagrid eyed them suspiciously. “An’ why not?”

Harry sighed. “He’ll get mad. He makes a blood substitution potion for us, and wants us to stay to that, not animals. Please, please don’t tell him we did this.”

“Okay, I won’; jus’ promise me yeh two’ll bring yeh wands nex’ time, ‘kay?”

“Promise.” They chimed together. Maybe Hagrid knowing this wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Chapter Text

“Harry, is it true?”

“No.”

“Congrats, Harry!”

“I’m not--”

“You’re good for each other.”

“I told you, we’re only--”

“Why, of all people, would you choose...?”

“I didn’t!”

“Seriously, Harry?”

“No!”

“Details, details!”

“There are none.”

“Setting your bar low, huh?”

“I didn’t set it there at all! And that’s not low anyway!”

“When did that happen?”

“It didn’t.”

Harry sighed. It was the morning after the Hogsmeade visit. Everyone seemed to be thinking he was dating Luna, after Cho had-- allegedly-- cried to her friends about how he had “rejected her for Loony Lovegood.” All morning he and Luna had been getting people asking about their so-called relationship.

“Potter, you still have most a plate of food there, why are you not eating it?” Madam Pomfrey pressed.

Harry rolled his eyes as he picked up a carrot stick. “It’s been a month already. Do I really need to keep eating lunch in here?”

“Yes, until I am convinced you are properly eating.”

“I told you, I do eat, just not this crap.”

“It is not crap, Mister Potter. It is nutrients your body needs! You cannot survive on only meat; you must eat your fruits, vegetables, and grains as well.”

“Shows what you know,” Harry muttered under his breath.

The questions, and debunking them, kept coming all day long. Harry was getting so sick of it. What’s more was that half of them decided that him saying they were “just friends” was some sort of code for “we actually are dating but want to hide it.”

“Harry! Congrats!”

“Nothing to congratulate.”

“You two make a nice couple.”

“We aren’t a couple.”

“You and Luna are perfect together.”

“No, we’re really not.”

“Nice catch… snag some pussy yet?”

“No, no, no! I’M GAY, goddammit!” Harry loudly yelled. “… shit.” Everyone in his general vicinity at the Gryffindor table-- and some of the Hufflepuff table next to them-- heard, and was now staring. Harry huffed as he got up to leave, whispers already spreading this new development. No doubt next they’ll be saying he was using Luna to hide his sexuality or something. A group of first-years about to sit down were looking at him wide-eyed as he stormed by. “What are you staring at?” Harry hissed, and they recoiled in fright.

 

*******

 

Harry and Draco missed breakfast the day the Quibbler arrived. They had spent the night together, and ended up losing track of time-- quite a bit of time, actually, as they were now late for potions class, as well. But, Snape wouldn’t punish them that badly, Harry was sure-- definitely not as bad as Umbridge would.

Of course, speak of the devil, and she shall appear; Harry entered the classroom to find Umbridge there, clearly waiting for him.

“Tut tut, Mister Potter. Late to class. I believe this warrants a punishment.”

“Excuse me, but I believe,” Snape interjected, “this is my class, therefore I decide the punishment.”

“Ah, but that isn’t what the punishment is for. No, Mister Potter, this is for telling lies, once again.”

“Lies, Professor? What lies?” Harry quipped. He knew what this was about now.

“Yes, lies. That little ‘interview’ you gave in Hogsmeade last weekend. I think another week of detentions is in order, and no more Hogsmeade for you.”

“What! That’s completely unfair!” Draco defended Harry.

“Mister Malfoy. Well, I doubt you’ll be so cozy with Mister Potter after today; it names your very own father as a Death Eater!” She smiled smugly.

“I am aware. It is of no concern to me; I’ve been disowned.”

Umbridge blinked in confusion, her girlish voice wavering. “You’ve what?”

“Disowned. I fled after he attempted to force me to join the Dark Lord last summer. Neither of them were very pleased with that.”

Umbridge frowned grotesquely. “Well, then. It seems we have two liars in our midsts. You will be serving detention along with Mister Potter this week.”

“Excuse me,” Snape again interjected. “I must ask that you change that. Both boys have evening lessons with me.”

“Oh? How often are those? And what might you be teaching them?”

“For Potter, it is remedial potions, and for Draco, an independent study, part of which involves helping Potter. This week, it is all five days.”

“All five days? Why, I do imagine that is quite excessive. How necessary are these lessons?”

“Considering Potter’s dismal work in potions lately, I would say they are quite necessary. Though I may be able to spare them one or two days, I certainly can’t all five. Unless you are saying their education is less important.”

Umbridge's eye ticked, clearly extremely annoyed about having to compromise. “You can have them tomorrow and friday, then, I’ll take them the rest.”

“I must insist at least three days.”

“Fine! We’ll rotate every other day for the next two weeks, how’s that?”

“Oh? Now it’s two weeks? You plan to interrupt their lessons even more for some petty revenge?”

“Fine.” Umbridge hissed, bright purple with rage. “You get them tomorrow and friday, I get them tonight, wednesday, thursday, saturday, and sunday. That is how it will be. You can have them five days next week if you so desire.” She stomped out the door.

 

*******

 

“Hi, Draco!” Harry greeted, when they met up to head to detention, running over and giving him a huge kiss.

“Whoa. What’s got you in such a good mood? We’re not exactly going off to have a good time…”

“I know, but I’m happy! Everyone seems to actually believe me now!” Despite it being banned, every student seemed to have read the interview in the Quibbler.

Unfortunately, the pair did not leave detention in such a great mood. They stumbled down the corridor in a daze; she had kept them for three hours because the words-- both were now writing “I must not tell lies”-- hadn’t “sunk in enough” until then. It seems she was going to be making up the time Snape had saved them by keeping them longer.

“Hey, Draco? I think I’m gonna pass out…”

“Don’t exaggerate. Come on, let’s get to Snape’s, he said he’ll help us after these, he’ll have a potion ready.” They couldn’t take a potion with them because she searched the bags of anyone who entered her room.

“No, I’m serious, it’s not just from the quill; I forgot tonight’s potion too…”

“You what? ...Harry? Harry!”

Harry was talking to a man kneeling on the ground before him, whom was begging to forgive him… but Harry didn’t blame him… they were talking about removing something from some department… The man told him they couldn’t have done something… Harry told him he had done well, they would start again… the man left… Harry looked in the mirror….

“Aaah!” Harry woke up, shaking. He blinked a few times, taking in his bearings; it seems he was on Snape’s couch again.

“Harry! Harry, are you okay?” Draco was kneeling beside him, holding his hand. “You had passed out, and then started shaking… Harry? You’re crying! What’s wrong? Did something happen again?”

“No, well yes, but not like before; no one was hurt, but I was seeing through his eyes again. I thought that was done. I thought I was doing well with occlumency. But then this. Was it useless?”

“No, it was not useless,” Snape told Harry. “It was by no fault of your own this happened.”

“But, I didn’t have my potion before detention! If I had…”

“You did not know she would keep you there that long. If anyone needs to apologize, it is I; because of me, you have less detentions, so she is making you stay longer to compensate. I should have predicted that.”

“What? But you couldn’t have--”

“Exactly. Now, if you don’t mind me asking, what did you see?”

“Ah, well, he was talking to someone named Rookwood about some attempt to retrieve something that had failed. He said Avery told him it would work if they sent Bode to get it, but Rookwood told him Bode never could have, which is why he’d fought so hard against the imperius spell.” He turned to Draco. “Your father cast the spell.”

“And that’s a surprise?” Draco asked. “We know my father’s a Death Eater, beyond all doubts.”

“That’s all that was said?” Snape pressed.

“Yeah… wait, no. He said they had wasted time with fruitless schemes, but now they’ll start over, and he asked for more information to be gathered.”

“This is disconcerting,” Snape said. “I must let Dumbledore know.”

“Sir? What is it they were trying to get?” Harry asked. “You know, don’t you?”

“Yes, but it is not my place to say. Please do not press further. The murtlap is on the desk; strength, calming, and blood potions are in the cabinet if needed. I’ll be back soon.” Snape glided from the room.

Once he was sure Snape was gone, Draco turned to Harry. “I think I might actually know what it is. Last summer they were talking about some prophecy they needed, something about not having it in full last time which was bad; the Dark Lord seemed really obsessed with knowing it.”

“Thank you, Draco!” Harry practically fell off the sofa trying to hug him. “I’ve been trying to find that out all year! That must be what the Order is guarding!”

“Okay… so, what’s this have to do with you? Why have you been trying to figure that out?”

“Er. Well. They seemed really keen on keeping that information away from me…”

“So you were curious, basically.”

“Well, when you put it that way… yeah.”

 

*******

 

Harry had told Hermione and Ron, who had been up waiting for him, about the vision upon returning to the tower. Hermione was worried about him still seeing these visions, suggesting maybe he needed to try harder, and Ron again ranted on how Snape had probably been making it worse. Harry pointed out that he hadn’t been seeing things like the door when sleeping anymore-- technically true seeing as he didn’t sleep, though they didn’t know that-- and it had only been large things like this when he was already in an emotionally weakened state. Also, Snape knew about the vision, and hadn’t blamed him at all, insisting he had been improving and this wasn’t his fault-- they had initially been confused as to why he went to Snape over Dumbledore or McGonagall, whose quarters were closer, but Harry made up a story about Snape coincidentally having been walking the halls at the time, which satisfied them. He told them what Draco had said about it being some prophecy.

“That must be why he attacked you as a baby then!” Ron concluded. “You know, I’ve always wondered why he would go off on a baby…”

“Oh yeah. And my parents knew he’d come after him, going as far as to use that charm! They must have known it! So it’s related to me… now I have to hear it!”

“Well, maybe Dumbledore knows it too?” Hermione suggested.

“I am not asking Dumbledore about it,” Harry insisted. “I’m not even supposed to know about it, remember?”

“I don’t see why you can’t just trust him! So, he’s been a little cold towards you; but you have been towards him too! Don’t you think it might go both ways? If Dumbledore can’t be trusted, no one can.” Hermione insisted. Harry didn’t reply.

 

*******

 

The rest of the week went similarly, with the two fleeing to Snape after every detention-- Harry remembering to take his potion beforehand. Classes were going okay though, or at least as well as could be expected. He had improved significantly in potions, even achieving two Es’ that week-- a huge feat for him. Perhaps he’d be able to make it into the NEWT level class after all. Hagrid and Trelawney’s classes were still watched by Umbridge, yet somehow Hagrid had managed to slip them a container of chicken blood one day, stating how he knew it tasted better than the potion-- Hagrid seemed excessively on board with the whole vampire thing, going as far as to say they could leave their things at his place when they wanted to go, and then tell him a time they’d be back so if there were problems he could help, which they agreed to. They hadn’t gone hunting since that first time; there hadn’t been much time to sneak away, and they didn’t want to go at night in order to let Hagrid sleep-- it really was a good idea to have someone ready to help when they went, in case of other incidents like Grawp.

The next Monday, occlumency lessons were interrupted by screaming. Trelawney had been sacked, and Umbridge had been trying to get her to leave the castle-- Dumbledore, however, told the bitch that she had no right to leave Trelawny homeless, and sent her back to her quarters while further enraging Umbridge by already having a new Divination teacher lined up-- a centaur.

Thus, Harry found himself in a classroom resembling a forest, being taught Divination by a palomino centaur with blue eyes as clear as water and blonde hair that nearly glowed, named Firenze, whom Harry had met in the forest a few years prior.

Harry’s heart jolted when he shook hands and locked eyes with the centaur, as there was a brief flash of shock, followed by curiosity, in Firenze’s eyes. He knew what Harry was.

Firenze talked about how centaurs could read the heavens, telling them it was different from the “human nonsense” of astrology. When asked about this by some girls who revered Trelawney, the centaur simply told them that most humans were limited in their understanding of the universe, yet magical beings-- did he glance at Harry at this?-- were not so blind. He would attempt to impart upon them this knowledge, share with them the world magical beings knew. Humans could learn how to properly see things, he insisted, providing they did their best to open their minds. Harry vaguely wondered if there were substances that could help with this, so asked.

Firenze looked at him knowingly. “Yes, there are. Herbs, incense-- as I have in this room-- and other such things help. Although, I have a feeling you are not asking about such, am I correct?”

Harry blushed. “Er…”

“I am not permitted to speak the specifics of the substances you wonder about, for many of such are banned in this country,” Firenze told him, with what appeared to be a slightly sad note in his voice. “Many of those, however, are potent enough to open the mind, though one must be extremely careful of how they are used as well as be able to distinguish which of what they see while using such is the truth and which are lies created by the mind.” Harry noticed that Firenze had not actually expressly said anything about not using them, other than commenting on the legality… in fact, it seemed almost like advice on what to do if he did so.

Firenze continued with the lesson, mentioning that often signs seen could be quite vague or open to many interpretations. He had them attempt to see signs of things within burning herbs; none of the humans could, but Harry did see some of what Firenze had described-- the centaur looked at Harry knowingly.

As everyone left, Firenze told Harry to stay back. Ron attempted to, as well-- Firenze said that was fine. Harry cringed. Hopefully Firenze wouldn’t say anything about what he was, hopefully this was about something else…

“I have a message for you to tell Hagrid.” Firenze told them. Relief glided over Harry. That’s all this was. He told them the warning he had for Hagrid. Ron was confused, asking why, which Firenze refused to answer. Harry knew what it was about though-- Grawp-- and had to agree that Hagrid should stop.

“Right. We’ll make sure to tell him... We’ll, er, be going now,” Harry told the centaur, making for the door.

“Wait, Harry, there is something else.”

Harry looked at Firenze pleadingly, subtly nodding towards Ron--he didn’t know. Firenze caught this, and instructed Ron to leave this time, not submitting to Ron’s protests. Finally Ron acquiesced, and Harry was left alone with Firenze.

“You are no longer human,” The centaur said with certainty. Harry simply nodded. “Your friends do not know?”

“No, they don’t. Well, except for--”

“The other vampire, the blonde boy. I had him in class already, though did not speak to him. There have been rumors floating around the forest about seeing a pair of vampires hunting, though I had no idea it would be you, Harry. You are not attempting to rely solely on animal blood, are you? You are aware of the dangers? It is not natural.”

“Yes, I am aware-- I usually drink a potion Snape makes for me; I have only drunk animal blood a handful of times, since he is strongly opposed to me having it. Hagrid, however, has slipped me a few chickens, and Sirius caught me a rabbit once. The only others who knows are a few at a creature pub and Lupin.”

“Ah, the werewolf. Yes, he would be able to tell. They have all found out unintentionally?” He asked knowingly.

“Yes, other than Snape, those at the pub, and Draco of course.”

“I would implore you to continue keeping it secret, then. It is not pleasant being a non-human amongst wizarding society.”

“Yes, I am aware,” Harry said, a slightly sad look upon his face.

“However, do not try to subdue it, either. Your newfound abilities will prove very useful in the coming war.”

“I am aware of that too.”

“I merely wish to confirm it,” Firenze replied. “You are aware that, as a magical being, particular one whom I assume has used what you mentioned earlier--” Harry nodded at that-- “your mind is very aware of the heavens, of the flow of life in this world?”

“I wasn’t aware before,” Harry admitted, “but now that you mention it...” He recalled the hunting expedition, when he turned over to his vampire nature, the feeling of being connected to everything, sensing the forest itself, every nuance… he hadn’t thought much about it then, but it had felt nothing like when he had been human. He had been seeing a wider picture. He also recalled the nyx, the feeling that he was on the edge of the universe… perhaps he should try that again, see if he could, as Firenze had put it, distinguish the truth from the lies.

“I look forwards to seeing your progress in this class. I have a feeling that you will do very well, and that learning more about the nuances of the universe may help in your coming endeavors.”

Harry wasn’t quite so sure about that, but he had to admit, this all was very fascinating-- he’d make sure to pay more attention in this class than he had in Trelawney’s.

 

*******

 

Friday night, Harry walked up to a seemingly solid stone wall deep in the dungeons. “Space Colours,” he told the wall-- his group's own private joke. The wall slid open, revealing the secret lounge, with Draco, Luna, Neville, Blaise, Adrian, and Daphne already inside. Adrian had worked out the spell that the Slytherin dorms used, and applied it to their room too. No one could enter it except those with the password.

They had something special planned for that night. After a week with Firenze’s classes, talking about opening their mind, and the conversation about certain substances helping, they had all become extremely curious as to the validity of this, recalling their prior experience(s) with such. Firenze had also admitted casually that yes, being drunk could help too, when a student asked. He seemed unaware of what was appropriate to talk to a class of fifteen-year-olds about, as he had then went on to speak about how any activity that could induce an altered mind state had the potential to help open one’s mind to the secrets of the universe, including “forced sensory deprivation, near-death experiences, severe starvation, extended intense pain such as that caused by cruciatus, the aroused state induced via foreplay, fornification, and orgasm.”

Daphne had caused everyone-- particularly Adrian-- to turn beet red upon announcing that the couple had tried the last three after Firenze had suggested it, and it seemed to have worked a little.

But tonight, they were going to attempt to use a substance to induce that state. The substance? Nyx, of course. Blaise had somehow procured more, and with the door now hidden, there was no chance of anyone interrupting. Plus, no class tomorrow meant they could just let loose with no worry.

Luna and Neville had never tried it before; the latter was very nervous, but Luna was merely staring dreamily off into the distance. Harry had to admit that he was quite eager to see what would happen with her upon taking the drug, especially since Firenze had allegedly been quite stunned at how, despite being fully human as far as anyone, including she, knew, Luna had been reading the fire and stars perfectly.

After some debate on whether they should get drunk first or not, they decided to try it without-- well, except for the firewhiskey they mixed it with, as that was the only liquid they had with them.

“To open minds,” Blaise cheered, as they toasted the swirling liquid that resembled the galaxy itself, all downing it at once.

As before, the effect was instantaneous. Liquid metal flowed through Harry’s veins. He found himself perched on the edge of a dark abyss staring into the eye of the universe itself. He blinked, and was back in the room, surrounded by the same strange colours he had witnessed the previous time. He tried to focus, to determine what was real and what wasn’t… it was certainly different now that there was no alcohol distorting things. He faded in and out, sometimes flying through the ocean of the sky, sometimes feet firmly in the room… soon, this blended with reality, and he felt his awareness spread beyond that of the room, similar to how it had when he hunted, but with a strange sense of finality as well, as though this was how things were and always should be, that things were all in place, destiny laid out before him, knowledge that he was no more than a drop of water in an endless sea, yet was oddly okay with that.

Slowly, Harry noticed there were shapes floating about around everyone, including him-- had they been there last time, or could he not see such in his drunken daze? It seemed the others had noticed too, and were all gazing around in awe. Except Luna.

“Does everyone see this?” Harry asked. “How we all have things around us?” The images varied, all different colors and shapes. “Luna, what about you?”

“Hmmm? You always have things around you.”

“We do?” Suddenly, something dawned on Harry. “You mean, like wrackspurts?”

“Of course. You have very few now, though. The nyx seems to have reduced them significantly; perhaps it’s a proper repellant for them. I’ll have to let father know; I’m sure the Quibbler’s readers will be delighted.” She said matter-of-factly.

“Wait a second,” Draco mused. “Luna, what exactly do wrackspurts look like?”

“Why, they look like little fuzzy balls in a glowing grey color.”

Harry blinked as he watched a fuzzy grey ball float past him. “I think… I think the nyx lets us see them.” Or, more likely, auras. The suspicions that Luna could see such had been correct, although she had been misinterpreting them as creatures.

“Oh, that’s wonderful, Harry!” Luna ran up and hugged him. “Can you all see them now, too?” She asked the others. They nodded, staring at her in awe. She had not been, as everyone assumed, hallucinating these things.

“Luna,” Harry asked, as his vision once again faded in and out between the room and the galaxy. He was finding it quite difficult to concentrate between that and the heightened awareness of his senses. “Do you see anything else, as the result of the nyx? Has it given you more awareness, are you seeing odd colours, anything?”

“Hmm. Well, I do see the colours that come when I’m sleeping,” she mused. “When the White Ship takes me on journeys through the universe.”

“The White Ship?” Neville asked. “Isn’t that the thing that takes you to Carcosa, Xura, Demhe, R'lyeh, Zar, and all the other illustrious lands of yonder?” Neville blinked. “How do I know that?”

“And Sona-Nyl, land of bliss…” Blase mumbled. “Have you been?”

“Why, yes!” Luna chimed. “To all of those but Carcosa. The White Ship tells me it is forbidden. I don’t know why; my mother was born there, you know. But the White Ship tells me that humans cannot go there.”

Harry began to feel somewhat apprehensive. Carcosa… he vaguely remembered the universe telling him of it the last time he had been high on nyx… he asked the universe again what it was, but the universe was not telling him…

“I would like to go to Celephaïs,” Blaise mused. “See the Valley of Ooth-Nargai, the Tanarian Hills…”

“I would love to meet Ooth-Nargai…” Daphne lamented.

“The White Ship will take you there, if you so desire,” Luna informed them. “But one who meets Ooth-Nargai may never leave, the White Ship tells me.”

“I’m okay with that… Adrian, let us receive his blessing, become his disciples…”

“Do you not want to follow Hastur instead, my love?”

Hastur. That caused Harry quite a bit of malcontent as well. “We must not meet Hastur,” he told them with certainty.

“But the Yellow Sign shows us the way, calls us to him, do you not feel it?”

“The Yellow Sign is a lie, or so Azathoth, in his noiseless infinity, hath told me,” Harry countered.

“One must not argue with the will of Azathoth,” Draco agreed. “For he is the aggregate sentence of the universe itself.”

“You have spoken to Azathoth?” Neville asked in awe. “He who deigns not to speak to humans has graced you with his knowledge?”

“He speaks to me regularly in my dreams, when the White Ship doesn’t take me,” Luna told them, in the same dreamy voice she usually had. “I quite enjoy this experience. It is nice to feel the universe when not asleep.”

Everyone agreed with that. Harry noticed in disappointment that the wrackspurts and colours from space were beginning to fade, and his awareness shrunk; no longer was he perched on the abyss at the end of the universe, no longer did the liquid metal fill him.

Now everyone just seemed disappointed, and began to debate if they should have more.

“We must not have more tonight,” Luna told them matter-of-factly. “Nor for a while.”

“Then when can we?” asked Blaise. “And why must we wait?”

“The Old Gods will send us a sign. It is by their will.”

“Aww, that’s no fun,” Daphne huffed. “Fine. Who wants to get drunk instead?”

Chapter Text

“Ugh…” Harry woke up slung over the arm of the couch, Draco on top of him. He could recall barely anything that happened from the point the nyx wore off, when they had begun to drink. He vaguely remembered them playing some sort of drinking game that had resulted in them all wearing each other’s clothing. From the feel of things, that included underwear; it seemed like one of the girls was fond of thongs, presumably Daphne. Harry glanced around: Luna was naked except for Harry’s boxers; Blaise was in briefs and a bra; the rest thankfully had robes on, although Daphne’s were nearly to her arse, as she was upside-down on an armchair.

The others were waking up too now. “Why am I in a thong?” Neville wondered, as he sat up on the floor. Ah. It seemed both girls wore those.

“Draco, get off of me, I want to get my clothes back, these female-cut robes are somewhat uncomfortable…”

“No, five more minutes…” Draco mumbled, holding Harry tightly around his waist.

Eventually, they all got sorted out, into the right clothing, cleaned up the room-- magic was such a wonderful thing-- and headed out.

It was past noon, and both Harry and Draco, as well as Adrian, had reason to be concerned. Harry had missed lunch with Madam Pomfrey, and Draco and Adrian were severely late for a quidditch practice they had both forgotten about; there was a match the next day. Harry was a little jealous that they still got to play, but not as much as usual-- he seemed pretty mellow in fact, almost okay with things, like everything was at peace; this was how things were meant to be.

Harry apologized to Madam Pomfrey for being late, and then calmly ate the prepared meal; his mind was elsewhere, thinking about last night’s events. She seemed quite pleased that he had no complaints that time.

“Hello, Harry,” Firenze greeted, as he traversed the entrance hall on his way to the common room. “I see your mind has been opened, perhaps?”

“Hmm, maybe. Some of my friends and I took something to help last night. We talked about far-off lands and things that we did not know of before, and Azathoth contacted me. Luna was there too. She told us the things it let us see were what she saw often in her dreams, when she had gone to such lands via the White Ship.”

Firenze’s eyes widened. “She has transversed the heavens via the White Ship? No wonder she can read the signs so well.”

“We also saw the creatures Luna always talks about… they are people's auras though, right?”

“Oh? Yes, I have suspected she could see such… they are indeed auric images formed from people’s emotions, whether conscious or subconscious. Few can see it without aids like the one you were using.”

“Can you see them?”

“Not as naturally as Luna can, but in the right mindset, if one relaxes the mind and focuses on seeing such, anyone can. It is astounding that her mind is so receptive to the universe.”

“Her mother came from Carcosa.” Harry didn’t know why, but he knew this was the reason Luna was how she was.

Firenze gasped. “Carcosa… that does explain things…”

Harry thought about this as he meandered into the Gryffindor common room, finding Ron and Hermione doing homework. Luna really was quite the anomaly; truly a daughter of the universe. Harry did not know where the phrase came from, but it felt right.

“Harry!” Hermione called him over. “Where have you been? You disappeared after dinner, and we couldn’t find you anywhere the entire morning!” Harry thought he saw a fuzzy grey ball pass by her, out of the corner of his eye.

“Yeah, and you took the map with you, too,” Ron said disgruntledly.

“Well, I didn’t want you being nosy,” Harry admitted. “I was just hanging out with the others.”

“You mean the snakes.”

“Luna and Neville too.”

Neville, as if on cue, came stumbling into the common room. “Hey, Harry…” He yawned. “Some night, huh? I’m gonna go sleep more; turns out floors are not very comfortable. ‘Night…” he trudged up the stairs to the dorm.

Hermione glared at Harry. “‘Some night’? Just what exactly were you up to?”

Harry smiled sheepishly. “Er… card games?”

 

*******

 

Harry watched Draco’s quidditch match the next day, against Ravenclaw. He was highly amused that Luna had shown up in a large top hat with a huge plush snake affixed to the top which hissed whenever Slytherin scored a goal; Luna always had rooted for Gryffindor even when Ravenclaw had played against them, but to see her rooting for Slytherin over it… she must really dislike her house-- although, all her friends were in other houses, now that Harry thought about it. He didn’t have the heart to tell her that the hiss, in parseltongue, meant “shit.” Draco caught the snitch, as expected; Harry wondered if it was a little unfair, since he could hear well enough to pinpoint it from quite the distance, but Draco informed him that he used earplugs to muffle the sound back to that of a human’s, at Snape request.

After the match, Harry and Draco headed to Hagrid’s-- he hadn’t delivered the warning yet, since Umbridge had been observing every single class. Plus, they wanted to go hunting again, in celebration of Slytherin’s win.

“Firenze don’ know wha’ ‘e’s talkin’ abou’,” Hagrid insisted. “Things are workin’ jus’ fine.”

“Hagrid, you have a giant in the forest. It’s disrupting things,” Harry told him. “It isn’t right for Grawp, either; he needs to be with his own kind.”

“But ‘e’s my brother!” Hagrid pressed. “I can’ jus’ abandon ‘im!”

“You’re not abandoning him,” Draco said calmly. “He is still your family, yes. But he needs to be with the other giants.”

Hagrid was not having it though, so Harry and Draco resigned their attempts to convince him. The two hid their things in a cabinet, and told Hagrid they’d be back in an hour.

Harry ran his tongue over his fangs, as they reached a clearing. “It feels so good having that retainer off…”

“Yes, definitely. And being out in the forest… things just seem so right in here, don’t they?”

“Yes, definitely… nature is a wonderful thing. Now,” Harry sneered playfully. “Let’s see who can catch something first.”

Draco was the one to catch something first, a rabbit, but Harry caught a deer-- a young stag, so there was no chance of any fawns being abandoned-- thus they decided it was more of a draw. They sat on a patch of moss-covered forest floor; Draco made quick work of the rabbit, and Harry insisted he help him with the deer. It was a bloody mess; Harry had struggled with it quite a bit, tearing the flesh and breaking bones multiple times before the deer finally fell. Blood smeared their faces and chests as they drank.

It was invigorating, gorging on so much blood. Harry felt such an intense bliss fall over him. He felt powerful. Alive. Again, he wondered what, if this is what animal blood was like, human blood would be like. Harry didn’t shake this thought off as he had before; he was a vampire, that was in his nature. Vaguely Harry wondered when that strange acceptance had come about him. Was it just because he was high on blood right now?

Harry let out a gasp as Draco tackled him, straddling him. Draco held Harry’s wrists above his head, pressing them into the soft mossy ground. “Let’s have a bit of fun,” he told him. “Would you like that?”

“Do whatever you want,” Harry whispered, lifting his head to brush Draco’s blood-covered lips with his. The blonde responded by pressing his lips down hard, Harry’s parting immediately to allow Draco’s tongue to slide down, over his fangs.

They wrestled tongues for a bit, and then Draco pressed his hips down, causing Harry to let out a deep moan as their erections pushed against each other through their jeans. Harry wiggled a little, causing Draco to moan as well, pressing harder into him. Draco released Harry’s wrists, but Harry didn’t move them. Draco broke the kiss as he slid his hands down Harry’s arms, causing Harry to whine a little, which turned into a murmur of pleasure as Draco continued down his sides and rested at his hips, teasing Harry’s waistband. “Is this okay?” He whispered, and Harry nodded, closing his eyes. Draco undid the flies of their jeans and quickly pulled them down, so the two were in just their boxers, erections prominent, little beads of precum soaking through the fabric. Draco brushed them lightly together, causing Harry to murmur and arch his hips up.

“Patience, my love,” Draco cooed, as he began to nibble Harry’s neck a little, moving down his chest, licking up the deer blood still strewn all over him, taking care to move extra slowly over Harry’s nipple, tongue circling it teasingly. Harry gasped as Draco trailed a hand along his side as well, playing with the hem of his boxers…

Hooves sounded in the distance, many of them, rapidly getting closer. The boys froze, staring at each other with horror in their eyes, suddenly not quite so aroused. Those were not deer hooves…

Draco rolled off of Harry, and the two quickly pulled their jeans back on, barely managing to zip them up before the herd of centaurs arrived at the clearing.

“Harry Potter,” the one in front called. Harry recognized him as Bane, the leader of the herd. “It is unexpected, finding you here in such a state.”

“Being a vampire, you mean?” Harry asked, in as confident a voice as he could muster. Draco appeared slightly scared.

“Correct. The stars did not foretell this, although the fire did indicate unexpected change. Perhaps this is it, though perhaps not.”

Draco seemed calm now. “But it does not cause the final path to waiver,” he said with finality, unsure why he said this.

“That is correct,” Bane replied. He tilted his head, pondering something for a moment. “You have seen the will of the universe.”

“We have. Azathoth himself deigned to speak with us.”

“I see. Had the traitor Firenze been the one to lead you there?”

“He provided some assistance, correct.” Harry felt no reason to deny this.

“If that is the case, then we send him praise. It is always desired to help a fellow magical being see the truth.”

“Does this mean you’ll let him return to the herd?”

Bane’s eyes darkened. “No. It is still wrong for him to impart the knowledge of our ways onto humans. He will never be permitted to return.” With that, Bane turned and galloped away, the herd following.

Harry and Draco headed back to Hagrid’s; it had gotten late, and they didn’t want him getting worried. They took turns dragging the deer behind them as they ran; Hagrid had asked them to bring back any remains to feed his pets.

 

*******

 

The aftereffects of the nyx wore off after a few days. Harry no longer felt a serene peace and rightness towards everything that happened; instead the heaviness that often surrounded him returned, seemingly with a vengeance.

“Hey, you okay?” Draco asked Harry a couple weeks later, upon finding him late one night lying on his side on the couch in their lounge, simply staring into space.

“No.”

“What’s wrong?”

“I want to sleep,” Harry told him. “But I can’t.”

“Is that all?” Draco knew it wasn’t.

“Can I have my knife back?” Draco had taken it a week prior, after catching Harry using it on himself, cutting only deep enough for it to heal before Draco could check.

“Why do you want your knife back?”

“I want to dig it deep into my arm.”

“Then you can’t have it back.” Draco moved to the couch, helping Harry up so he could sit down, and pulled Harry into a tight hug. “Tell me, did something happen?”

“Not really… it’s just, it all seems so hopeless… Hagrid’s going to be sacked, I just know it... Umbridge gave me more detentions for I can’t even remember what-- I nearly passed out again the other day after a four-hour one, as you remember-- so I’m pretty sure ‘I must not tell lies’ will be on my hand forever at this point… everyone keeps talking about quidditch with this next game coming up, only reminding me I can never play again… I don’t even know who I’m going to root for, being Gryffindor versus Slytherin… Ron’s been frustrated at me again for spending too much time with Slytherins, and so are some of the other Gryffindors too now… we have way too much homework with the OWLs coming up too, even with the extra time at night it’s horrible, I’ve never been good at writing essays and I probably wouldn’t even finish half of them if it weren’t for me not sleeping… Dumbledore still won’t look at me… my scar has been hurting more and more, it’s like it never stops some days… I miss Sirius, and it hurts me thinking how he’s probably hurting too, cut off from everyone… Pomfrey still doesn’t believe I’m eating right, probably because I’m still so skinny and probably always will be…” Tears were forming in Harry’s eyes. “It’s just so unfair! Why can’t I just have a normal life? Why do I have to be the freak that everything happens to?”

“Shh, it’ll be okay, I’m here for you, Harry,” Draco whispered, rubbing Harry’s back as he cried into Draco’s chest. “You’re not a freak, I promise. Not to me, not to any of your other friends, which you have many of. You’ll be fine. I’m here for you no matter what, okay? As long as I’m here, you’ll be okay.”

“...Promise?” Harry sniffled.

“Promise. Hey, want to listen to some music? That tends to help, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah, I guess… Hey, Draco?”

“Yes, my love?”

“I think it’d be okay if you and the other Slytherins joined the DA now, if they want.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah. A few people might not like it, but I think most will be fine, or even happy about it in Neville and Luna’s case.”

“That’s true.”

“Please? I really want you there with me. You’ll go, right?”

“Of course.” Draco kissed Harry lightly on the forehead. “I’ll go anywhere you want me to.”

 

*******

 

Harry shuffled nervously from foot to foot, heart racing. He was with Draco, Daphne, Blaise, Adrian, Neville, and Luna in the Room of Requirement, waiting for the rest of the DA. He had told everyone there would be a few new members, but not precisely who, though people probably suspected. Draco grabbed his hand, squeezing it. “It’ll be okay,” he muttered in Harry’s ear.

Ginny was the first to arrive, and smiled at them. She was perfectly fine with things, Harry already knew. She wasn’t who he was worried about.

Slowly but surely, everyone filed in. Fred, George, and Lee immediately asked Harry which one he procured the nyx from, and dragged Blaise away. The Ravenclaws looked curiously at them, saying nothing. They got some raised eyebrows from a couple of the Hufflepuffs. The Gryffindors expressed the most disapproval, as expected, particularly the quidditch team members, who sneered at Draco and Adrian, members of their rival team. Neither Cho nor her friend showed up, as usual; Harry doubted they’d ever return, though they still had the coins in case they wanted to.

Last to arrive were Hermione and Ron, by design. Hermione had suggested it: by arriving last, with all the other members there already, the odds of Ron expressing his discord with the situation would be mitigated. This tactic proved true, as upon entering the room and seeing the Slytherins, Ron, face distorted in anger, opened his mouth, only to close it quickly as he realized he had a huge audience. Instead, he glowered in the corner, Hermione attempting to calm him down.

“Welcome,” Harry began. All attention turned to him-- well, other than the four making a drug deal in the back corner, which Harry ignored for now. “As you have heard, we have a few new members tonight. After careful consideration, I have decided that there is no reason to deny them membership. The only thing holding them back from joining until now has been a fear of unwelcomeness due to the house they are in-- which is wholly out of their control, I might add. Yes, they are in Slytherin. But this is no reason to deny those who wish to learn proper defense from doing so; they are some of the most trustworthy people I know, and I expect you to treat them as well as you’d treat any other DA member.” Harry glanced pointedly at Ron, who scoffed. “As I introduce each, they will sign the parchment, swearing them to secrecy and loyalty towards Dumbledore’s Army.”

Harry began the introductions: “Draco Malfoy...” Draco walked over and signed the parchment, bowing his head towards the group. “Daphne Greengrass…” She smiled brightly at them. “Adrian Pucey…” He dramatically bowed, getting a laugh out of a few. “Blaise Zabini. Blaise? Blaise, get over here!”

Blaise had still been chatting with Fred, George, and Lee. “Er, sorry, what’s going on?”

“We’re in the middle of introductions. Stop making… deals, and get over here to sign the paper.”

“Right, sorry,” he trotted over, saluted everyone, and signed.

Harry sighed. “Okay, now that that’s done, I’d like you to pair up, and practice the things you’re weak on. I’ll come around and check up on you, helping where needed. You four,” he gestured towards the Slytherins, “come over here, I want to assess where you are.”

“I like bossy Harry,” Draco purred in Harry’s ear, grinning slyly.

“Not now, Draco,” Harry replied, smiling. “But maybe later,” he winked.

Blaise whistled at the little display, causing the two to blush. Harry quickly glanced around, but luckily everyone else was already immersed in their practice.

“Oh, by the way, Blaise,” Harry called, the boy turning to him. “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t make drug deals here.”

Blaise grinned playfully. “If you say so, Professor.”

Chapter Text

Harry’s patronus had inexplicably changed. He’d heard sometimes patronii could change in relation to large emotional triggers, with the animal’s shape significant to such-- yet Harry didn’t know how a cat was at all significant to anything remotely related to his life, other than the fact that cats suddenly loved him. Did it have to do with being a vampire? He hadn’t used his patronus since then, had he? Even so, why was it a cat, of all things?

The DA members were watching in slightly confused curiosity as the cat patronus circled him. “Er. I have no idea why it changed, either,” Harry informed the group. “Anyway, I’ll demonstrate how to perform the spell; it’s quite difficult, so we’ll be spending a few weeks on it…”

By the third class of patronii practice, quite a bit of progress had been made. Hermione, naturally, had produced a very nice otter patronus; the only others whom had been able to create corporal patronii so far had been Adrian-- which Harry had somewhat expected, as he was nearly as brilliant as Hermione with spellwork-- and Daphne, whom proudly and loudly announced that her happy memory was “making love to Adrian,” causing the entire room to turn bright red. Well, whatever worked, Harry supposed. Much of the group had at least managed to produce mist though, which was still great progress, he assured them multiple times.

Harry strolled around the room, helping people out-- the main problem for most, it seemed, had been the choice of memory, just as it had been when he had first learned.

“I just can’t seem to get it,” Draco lamented. “I can barely make the misty version!”

“Well, what memory did you choose?”

“First time riding a broom…”

“That’s why, then; such a memory isn’t nearly strong enough. I actually chose that too, the first time trying, and didn’t get much further than you are now. You know the one that actually works though? Picturing my friends. It’s not even a specific memory, really; perhaps you can try something like that?”

“Hmm, okay…” Draco thought for a moment. “Oh! I think I have something.” He smiled at Harry mischievously. “Expecto patronum!”

Draco’s patronus took form… a cat. A fluffy longhair one, unlike Harry’s shorthair, but a cat nonetheless. Interesting.

“What memory did you picture?” Harry inquired. “If you don’t mind me asking.”

Draco smiled seductively. “You... Biting my neck.”

Harry turned as red as a tomato. “I-I, uh, g-guess that works,” he stuttered.

“You can do it later tonight, if you want,” he teased.

“What can he do later tonight?” Crap. When did Ron get over here?

“Er… homework!” Harry

Ron eyed Harry suspiciously. “I thought you said you finished your homework earlier?”

“I, er, forgot about some of it. The potions essay.”

“We did the potions essay together earlier though?”

“Er… huh? Dobby? What are you doing here?” Harry was glad for the distraction.

That gladness lasted only but an instant, as Dobby was there to warn them that Umbridge was on her way there; someone had snitched, and there were only two people it could have been. Harry shouldn’t have let them keep those coins.

Everyone fled out the door, into the halls, heading towards wherever they could find shelter-- dorms, owlry, library… Harry was the last out, making sure everyone else had escaped first. Someone hit him with what he swore was a stunning spell, directly, yet it had no effect, causing confused yelling from what he thought sounded like Parkinson-- had Umbridge recruited help?

“Uaugh!” Came a scream, followed by a thud, behind Harry. He recognized that voice.

“Draco!” Harry yelled, turning around; someone had hit Draco with a leg-locking curse.

“Run, you git!” Draco called to him.

Too late. Harry tumbled to the floor; another stunning spell had bounced off him, but immediately after he was also hit by a leg-locking curse.

“I got two of them!” Called Nott, while Parkinson stood next too him, a confused look upon her face, no doubt wondering where her stunning spells had gone wrong; they hadn’t, but she didn’t know that the reason they had had no effect was because Harry wasn’t human.

Umbridge scuttled around the corner, a grotesque masque of delight upon her toad-like face. “Perfect! Oh, and it’s HIM! Fifty points each to Slytherin, and fifty points from Gryffindor and… oh,” she blinked in slight confusion, then collected herself. “Well, you associate with Gryffindors anyway, so another fifty points from there. Anyway,” she grabbed their arms and began dragging them away, “you two are coming with me to the Headmaster’s!”

Harry looked at Draco desperately. What should they do? They technically could escape her grasp… Draco slightly shook his head. Harry nodded in agreement; better being punished than the world knowing their secret.

They entered Dumbledore’s office, to find the Minister of Magic himself-- Cornelius Fudge-- waiting for them, along with Kingsley, some auror Harry didn’t know, Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Percy-- the Minister’s assistant, presumably there to take notes.

“Well well, Potter, should have known you’d be behind this,” said Fudge, “and… Malfoy’s boy? Why is he here? Was he the one who caught him?”

“No, he was a collaborator, of all things!” Umbridge declared, with a satisfied smirk; she was enjoying this way too much.

“A collaborator? Oh my. Boy, your father will not be pleased at all…”

“Doesn’t matter,” Draco smirked. “He already disowned me.”

“He what?” Fudge blinked.

“Disowned. Pretty sure I said that quite clearly.”

“But… but why? You’re his pride and joy, his heir.”

“Was. I refused to join the Death Eaters.”

Umbridge scoffed. “Don’t mind him, Minister. He’s a liar, just like Potter. I’ve had to give him multiple detentions for it.”

Fudge seemed to accept that. He asked the boys if they knew why they were there-- they said no, at Dumbledore’s subtle head shake. The continued answering questions based upon Dumbledore’s suggestions, until Umbridge retried her “witness”-- Cho’s friend, Marietta. Luckily, the huge word “sneak” across her face-- a clever spell attached to the parchment by Hermione-- written in purple pimples had caused her to remain silent in fear. Dumbledore managed to deflect the accusations against the boys, as Kingsley had, apparently, imperiused Marietta to nod and shake her head in the way they wanted her to answer questions. Eventually, it was sorted that that tonight had been the first meeting, and this group was not the one discussed in the Hog’s Head, which had not happened due to the decree a few days later. The membership parchment said “Dumbledore’s Army,” so Dumbledore decided to take all the blame for things, claiming that it was his group, the first meeting, formed because he was plotting against the ministry, and that the students were not at fault.

Somehow, through this, Harry was fairly calm outwardly, despite a racing heart; Draco’s hand in his helped, though no one seemed to notice this in all the chaos. Probably because he had been aware Dumbledore would sort it all out, in his favor; whether Dumbledore liked him or not, he still needed Harry for whatever plot he had.

Then, the Minister made the mistake of trying to arrest Dumbledore, who knocked them all out briefly-- except for the students and McGonagall-- and fled via his phoenix, reminding Harry to listen to Snape and study occlumency before he left, for some reason-- he had attempted to grab Harry before saying such, but Harry dodged away. Harry was unsure why Dumbledore had felt the need to remind him of this, but perhaps Dumbledore didn’t realize that Harry no longer entirely despised Snape and had been making an effort in occlumency, even if he still was poor at it, in Harry’s opinion.

Once everyone awoke, the aurors ran downstairs, assuming Dumbledore had gone that way, and Fudge sent the students away, not punishing them since he had gotten a bigger fish to fry.

It was once he and Draco were walking down to their dungeon hangout-- Harry was not going back to the tower that night, he just couldn’t handle dealing with everyone-- that the reality of the situation began to sink in, and Harry began to shake. The DA was no more, Dumbledore was gone…

“Shh, it’s okay,” whispered Draco, his arm around Harry, lightly rubbing his shoulder, other hand reaching around to grasp Harry’s, pulling him close as they walked.

Once they entered the lounge, Harry broke town in tears, Draco doing his best to comfort him; luckily the others had gone to the dorms rather than here-- Draco knew Harry didn’t want anyone else knowing of this, even though they’d all be willing to help him as well.

 

*******

 

Harry sighed. Today was a quidditch match between Slytherin and Gryffindor. He didn’t find himself looking forwards to it much, for the first time ever. He was just too tired. The past few days, since the DA had been discovered, had been utter crap. Umbridge had been appointed Headmistress. She had invited him to her office to have a veritaserum-laced drink-- he could smell it in there, but drank anyway, since veritaserum had no effect on vampires-- in order to ask him about Dumbledore and Sirius. There was this new “Inquisitorial Squad” that Umbridge created for no reason other than creating misery, Harry was sure-- though his group had a laugh at her inviting Adrian to it, which he accepted, and then was promptly kicked off of due to using his newfound power to take a hundred points from all other members of the Squad for “being upstart little brats whose only skills are kissing up to people.” Although a little bit of cheer had come in the form of Fred and George releasing a ton of magical fireworks that spun around the castle and multiplied every time a spell was used on them, overall things seemed quite dismal to Harry.

Harry hadn’t spoken to Ron in days. Ron had been quite miffed that Harry had stayed with Draco instead of returning to the tower the night the DA was found out; he declared that since Harry had “chosen Draco over them,” Harry must have become corrupted by “the dirty snakes.” Harry tried to calmly explain again that Slytherins weren’t all bad people, but as usual Ron refused to believe that. Harry then lost his temper and shouted at Ron, something about how Draco understood him in ways Ron never could, which did not go over well with Ron at all. Harry had been trying to apologize to Ron over the past few days, but Ron would always just ignore him.

Harry now found himself in the quidditch stands with Fred, George, Blaise, Daphne, Hermione, Neville, and Luna. He and the latter two found themselves unsure of which side they wanted to win; they had friends playing on both sides-- in Harry’s case, a boyfriend. Luna had put both a snake and a lion on her hat as a compromise, both which made sounds; it was extremely distracting, however, since she had attempted to make them look like they were hugging yet the snake’s hiss meant “rough sex”. Harry wasn’t quite sure why parseltongue had a word specifically for this. He was sure, however, that Fred, George, and Blaise were high on something. The three of them had become fairly close in the past few weeks, and Blaise was now helping them with some of their products-- Harry hoped that this did not involve anything illegal, but with those three, he couldn’t quite be sure. Daphne and Hermione were getting along quite well, surprisingly, Harry was glad to note. He wistfully imagined the possibility of his friend groups fully blending, but knew that unless he could bring Ron around-- of which the chances were slim-- that could never happen.

Harry recalled the last Gryffindor-Slytherin match. If someone had told him then that this time he would actually be hoping Draco would catch the snitch, he’d have sent them straight to St. Mungo’s mental ward. Yet now he found that he did. True, Ginny was a great friend and Gryffindor was his house, but Harry couldn’t be blamed for wanting his boyfriend to win, even though he was playing the opposite side. Maybe they’d be lucky and it’d result in a draw…

“Hey, Harry?” Hermione smiled at him slyly. “You’ve been watching a certain blonde boy pretty intently…”

Harry froze. “Er. Am I?”

“Yes… anything you want to tell me?” She had a twinkle in her eye.

Harry sighed. “You know, don’t you?” He didn’t need to ask though; it was clear she definitely already knew, had so for a while. Well, so did everyone else here, other than Fred and George, who were in their own world, so Harry supposed it was fine to say something. “Just, please don’t tell Ron, okay?”

Hermione laughed gently. “Of course not. I’m not stupid, you know; if he hears about this…” she shook her head. “Well, we all know how that’ll end.” She finished with a sad note.

Somehow, the game miraculously did result in a draw. Ron, somehow, managed to be completely focused this time, managing to block every shot, whereas Slytherin’s keeper was completely off-point. Yet, in the end, Draco caught the snitch, ending the game at a draw.

Harry intercepted Draco before he entered the locker room, pulling him under the bleachers where no one could see and into a deep kiss.

Draco blushed. “What was that for?”

“For getting the snitch, silly.”

“Okay, but aren’t you supposed to be rooting for your own house…?” Draco smiled playfully.

“Yeah but you're my boyfriend.” Harry pulled Draco down into another kiss.

“Hey, lover boy, we’d like our seeker back, if you don’t mind.” Harry and Draco broke apart quickly, faces red, then sighed as they realized it was only Adrian. “You two can play around aaaall you want, later,” he teased the blushing boys.

 

*******

 

Harry felt dizzy, lightheaded. He was shaking, too. A bloody shard of glass lay nearby on the forest floor. He hadn’t meant to drive the shard of glass so far into his thigh, so many times, honestly. He had just been feeling so helpless, so out of it; he had needed some relief. His body would heal, he knew, eventually, but he was so low on blood already-- having forgotten to have a potion all day, again-- that it would be a while, leaning against a tree, until he could even move. Blood still seeped out of the deep wounds, creating a little pool of next to him. Drip, drip, drip… would it ever stop? Vampires could bleed out, but it took wounds much worse than this, right? That’s what Draco had told him… Draco… ‘someone, please help me,’ Harry thought, as the world went black.

Draco dropped his book. The friendship bracelet seared his wrist. Something was wrong; Harry was in trouble. Draco began to panic. Where was Harry? The common room? It was well past midnight, after all. Wait, no, the bracelet would tell him. Draco closed his eyes, focusing… a flash of woods; he was in the forbidden forest. Draco dashed out of the room, out of the castle, towards the forest, not caring if anyone noticed-- not that they could, at the speed he was running. Where in the forest would Harry be, though? Draco stood at the edge of the forest, closing his eyes, using his other senses. Blood; there was blood nearby, he could smell it. Draco dashed towards it, heart falling towards his knees as he saw Harry slumped against a tree, a pool of blood collected under him, huge gashes in his thighs… no, no, no, this couldn’t be happening, not again… tears filled Draco’s eyes, memories flashing of when he had first turned Harry as he kneeled beside him, pushing his wrist against Harry’s fangs, once again coaxing his blood down Harry’s throat… Harry would be okay, he had to be, Draco couldn’t lose him… logically he knew Harry would heal, but still, seeing him in this state… how had it come to this? He used the little healing spells he knew, slightly closing the wounds; it was helping, coupled with the blood he was forcing Harry to drink, but it didn’t stop the bleeding completely...

Harry’s eyes fluttered open. “Draco…?” he muttered quietly.

“Oh, Harry!” Draco hugged him, tears flowing down his cheeks. “Harry? Hey, stay with me!”

Harry drifted in and out of consciousness. Draco was here… he was being carried swiftly away somewhere… they were in the castle now… there was loud banging… shouting… something being wrapped around his legs… something forced down his throat… Harry coughed as things became clearer.

“Harry? Harry, are you with me? Please, say something!” A panicked voice called. Harry’s vision became clearer; he could make out blonde hair, icy blue eyes…

“...Draco…? Where am I…?” He blinked.

“Snape’s quarters… thank goodness you’re all right… I was so worried… why? Why would you do that?”

Memories from earlier flashed in Harry’s mind. “I didn’t mean to… I didn’t mean to go that deep, honestly… it was supposed to be just a little, enough to heal easily…”

Draco seemed angry now. “Just a little? That was more than ‘just a little’! It wasn’t even healing properly; we had to bandage it up! What would possess you to do that? I told you, you can always come to me when you feel that way. Why didn’t you? Do you not trust me?”

“It’s not that…” Harry muttered weakly, tears forming in his eyes, too. “I just… didn’t want to worry you…”

“Didn’t want to worry me? This does not bloody look like not worrying me!”

“I told you, I didn’t mean it to go that far…”

“Draco.” A hand appeared on his shoulder. Snape. “Anger does not help this situation.”

Draco closed his eyes. “I know…” he whispered. “I’m sorry, Harry.” He pulled Harry into a tearful hug. “I just… I was just so worried… it reminded me of the night I found you, the night I had to turn you… I thought I was going to lose you…”

“I would have healed,” Harry pointed out.

“Yeah, but who would be thinking logically like that when finding the one they love sitting in a pool of blood, large gashes all over them!”

“I know… I’m sorry… I’m so sorry...”

“We need to go to Madam Pomfrey,” Snape told them, clear in his voice that this was non-negotiable.

“What? No! No, we can’t do that!” Harry protested.

Draco chimed in too. “Yeah, if she finds out about this--”

“Then she will find out. Harry, you need more treatment, that I cannot provide. Yes, you will heal on your own, but it’ll take days, and leave scars; she can help you heal better, faster, hopefully without such.”

“But--” Harry tried to stand up, only to stumble down, Snape catching him.

Draco sighed, standing up. “Harry, you can’t even walk… I think, I think we might have no choice…”

“But…” Harry was beginning to panic. “But if she finds out, so will others, they’ll be wondering why I'm there…”

“We can make up a suitable lie,” Snape told him. “Madam Pomfrey won’t give out information about her patients without consent. I will make sure she knows the importance of the situation and why it must remain hidden.”

And thus, a very disgruntled Harry found himself being carried to the hospital wing by Draco-- in his underwear, for his robes had to be removed to properly attend to the wounds-- continuing to beg them not to take him there, though he knew it was to no avail.

Madam Pomfrey gasped as Harry was carried in, seeing the bloody bandages, instructing them to place him on a bed. “What has happened? Has he been attacked? If something has attacked him, we must notify the proper people!”

“No, we cannot notify anyone,” Snape told her. “This situation is not the result of an attack, and due to the nature of what he is, no one else can know exactly what has occurred.”

“Of what he is… oh my.” Madam Pomfrey had just noticed Harry’s fangs-- Draco had had to remove the retainer in order for Harry to bite him. “When did this happen…?”

“October,” Draco told her. “After a similar incident. He allegedly did not intend things to go that far this time-- and he will heal naturally, being what he is-- but last time, when he was human, there had been no other way to save him.” He turned over a reluctant Harry’s wrist.

“Oh my,” Madam Pomfrey said again. “And he was not brought here afterwards why?” She looked pointedly at Snape, then began tending to Harry’s wounds.

“The boys did not tell me until after the fact,” Snape informed her. “And we wanted as few people to know as possible, for if this gets out…”

“Yes, I understand,” Madam Pomfrey conceded. “That would be a problem. But don’t fear, I won’t tell anyone, healer-patient confidentiality… although, I strongly do recommend a mind-healer,” she said firmly, turning to Harry. “They do have ones that specialize in creatures, and again, there’s healer-patient confidentiality.”

“I know…” Harry told her, “but I don’t want to tell any wizard I don’t know. Only a handful know, no one else in the school, nor Dumbledore, and I want to keep it that way. Please.”

“I understand,” Madam Pomfrey told him. “But I must insist you report to me for an examination once per day, at lunch, which now I assume you weren’t eating due to, well, not needing it... I am assuming you take a potion for it, correct?”

“Yeah… but do I really have to report here?”

“Yes. And if you don’t, I will personally go find you myself. This is non-negotiable. You can continue to tell people it is to eat lunch, and have the potion here if so desired, or the meats the house-elves make you.”

“I understand,” Harry told her, in a dejected manner.

Madam Pomfrey had finished attending to the wounds. “Now, get some rest. In a few days, this should all be fully healed, not even a scar left.”

“Er. I can’t exactly sleep, though, remember? Vampire.”

“Resting does not require sleep. I do, however… Draco, would you mind staying with him through the night? I wish for him to remain under watch, and you do not require sleep either.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” Draco told her. “But, may I go get some reading material first? Harry and I both like reading at night.”

“I can stay here until he returns,” Snape told her.

While Harry awaited Draco’s return, he thought about what he would tell his other friends, for he certainly couldn’t tell them the truth of what had occurred…

Draco returned, and the adults left. He sat down next to Harry and pulled out the music player. “I love you, you know that, right?” Draco whispered to Harry. “If anything happened to you… please, promise me, you’ll come to me if you feel like this again? Don’t worry about worrying me. I want to help you, Harry. I really do love you.”

“I know, Draco. I promise. I love you, too.”

Crookshanks and Mrs. Norris had both managed to sneak into the room, and curled up on the bed with them as they listened to the music.

“...And I’m gonna keep on lovin’ you… ‘Cause it’s the only thing I want to do…”

Chapter Text

“Harry! What happened?!” Hermione yelled, as she and Ron came running into the hospital wing during breakfast the next morning. Harry was glad Draco had run to Snape for some of their potions; Ron would have flipped if he had seen Harry and Draco cuddling, as they’d been doing not ten minutes before.

“It was a, er, potions accident,” Harry lied.

“Potions?” Ron asked, confused. “You were doing potions that late at night?”

“Yeah, there was one in a book Draco and I found, and it, er, backfired.”

“What did it do?” Hermione wondered. “I don’t see any damage…”

“It’s, er, not where you can see it.”

“You were with Malfoy doing that, huh?” Ron seemed on edge, as he was whenever Harry mentioned his friendship with Draco. “You sure he didn’t make it backfire intentionally? I don’t see him in here.”

The door opened just then, Draco entering. “Hey, Harry, I brought the-- oh, hey Hermione, Weasley. Didn’t expect you visiting so early.”

“What are you doing, casually walking in here, using her first name?” Ron huffed.

“Oh, get off it,” Hermione told him. “Draco is Harry’s friend; if Harry trusts him, then we can too, and use first names.”

Ron scoffed. “Only because Malfoy’s done something to him. Mark my words, that’s the only reason for it.”

Draco ignored Ron, and handed Harry a blood potion, which Harry eagerly drank.

“What’s that?” Ron asked suspiciously. “Is that how you’ve been conning him?”

“No, it’s the antidote Snape brewed. He needs to take it thrice daily over the next few days.”

“Honestly, Ron,” Hermione huffed. “This isn’t the time nor place. Harry is in the hospital wing; he does not need added stress!”

“It’s fine,” Harry brushed it off. “I’m used to this… and,” he mumbled quietly, “at least he’s not ignoring me now.”

“Heh, hem.” Oh no. Oh no, no, no. When did she sneak in? “I would very much like to know how you ended up in here, Mister Potter,” Umbridge told him. The four were silent. “Refusing to tell me, are you? Did it involve rule-breaking, perhaps?”

“Honestly!” Madam Pomfrey came running over. “Why do you feel the need to torment my patient? He does not need more stress! Last time, your visit to someone required the administration of a calming draught; I will not allow that again!”

“Well, then, perhaps you can explain the affliction which causes Mister Potter to currently be lying in a hospital bed?”

“No, I cannot. Healer-patient confidentiality.”

“Oh? Must I remind you, I am the Headmistress…”

“Yet the Hippocratic Oath I took as a healer still stands above such. I will not divulge what a patient wishes to deem private, or so have I forsaken the Oath and will no longer be able to in good conscious call myself a healer.”

“...Very well. I will, however, find out, mark my words, Potter.”

“No need.” Harry didn’t need her snooping around more than she usually did. “It was just a potions accident, during remedial potions; Snape can attest to that. But what the potion did I’ll leave up to your imagination; it is highly awkward, and I won’t even tell my friends such.”

“...I see. Very well, then.” Umbridge seemed to accept his story, and began to leave. “Oh, and fifty points from Gryffindor for kidnapping Filch’s cat.”

Mrs. Norris hissed indignantly at Umbridge.

 

*******

 

A few days passed in the Hospital Wing, upon which all of Harry’s friends had managed to stop by to visit-- all highly curious about what the potions incident had done, of course, with Harry refusing to say. It was actually a bit fun making his friends imagine what possibly could be so embarrassing. He was released on day four, upon which his wounds had managed to completely heal, not even a scar left, to Harry’s relief. He had missed his classes that day because Madam Pomfrey wanted to keep an eye on him a bit longer, but now was on his way to occlumency lessons, Draco escorting him; he had been with Harry as often as he could those past few days, leaving only for classes and to retrieve potions.

Harry sighed. “I really don’t want to do this tonight…”

“You’re already missed two lessons,” Daco pointed out, “It isn’t a good idea to skip more.”

“I know… but it feels like I’ve been making no progress lately, like things are at a standstill. Is this as far as I’ll ever get?”

“No, you’ll improve, I’m sure of it. Your scar has been pricking a little less, correct?”

“Well, that’s true, I suppose… Still, if we didn’t have this lesson, we could get around to investigating that book...” The book in question was a very old tome that had turned up in their lounge the day prior. The others wanted to wait until Harry was out of the hospital wing so they could all investigate it further together.

The occlumency lesson went pretty well that night, Harry thought, despite his reluctance to attend. Snape only got into Harry’s mind a handful of times the first half hour-- much less than usual. It was interrupted after a while, though, as Montague-- whom had been stuffed in a vanishing cabinet weeks prior by Fred and George-- had turned up lodged in a toilet, and Snape’s presence, being his head-of-house, was requested to aid in unsticking him. Thus, Harry and Draco were left alone in Snape’s office.

“What’s this?” Draco asked, approaching something on the desk-- a basin filled with a swirling silvery liquid. Harry recalled it was called a pensieve-- Dumbledore had one-- thus would be filled with Snape’s memories.

“Draco, don’t--” Harry lunged forwards. “...touch that…” Too late. Draco had prodded it with his finger and been sucked into the memory. Harry sighed. Should he follow? Yeah, he better follow. Harry touched the liquid too…

The two were in the middle of the Great Hall, during what appeared to be an exam. No one paid them any attention.

“Why are we in the Great Hall? Why don’t they react? What’s going on?”

“Relax, Draco; what you touched was called a Pensieve. It’s used to store memories-- ones Snape probably did not want me to see if I entered his mind accidentally.”

“So we’re in his memory? How do we get out?”

“I don’t know how to get out; I think we need to let it play out. Come on, let’s find Snape, so we can follow him. I don’t know what will happen if we lose him.”

“Right… ah, I see him, over here! ...Harry? Where are you going?” Harry was halfway across the hall, staring at someone; Draco glided over to him-- it seemed, in a memory, they weren’t solid.

“It’s my dad,” Harry whispered.

“I can tell… he looks just like you, minus the brilliant eye color and scar; look, the back of his hair even sticks up like yours does.” Draco peered at the parchment in front of him. “It’s the OWLs. They’re the same age as us… hey, look, there’s Sirius! Wow, he looks good...”

“Hey!” Harry said, punching Draco playfully.

“Oh, but not as good as you, of course.” Draco grabbed Harry’s hand, lifting it to his lips while Harry blushed furiously.

Suddenly, the room started moving-- the exams were over. James and Sirius were joined by Lupin and Wormtail, joking about the werewolf question. Draco began to follow them, but Harry pulled him back, reminding him to follow Snape. Luckily, though, they were all headed in the same direction: outside and towards the lake. Most the students had come outside; it was a beautiful spring day, after all. Harry instinctively winced as he walked into the sun, preparing for uncomfortable warmth, then realized there was no effect-- of course, it was a memory, so there wouldn’t be…

Snape sat near the quartet, so Harry and Draco were able to watch his father and friends. Harry noted that his dad was quite cocky, playing with a snitch he had apparently stolen and reveling in the attention Wormtail was giving him, only putting it away at Sirius's request. Sirius was now complaining he was bored, and Harry’s father seemed to have an idea to cure that.

An idea that Harry was absolutely appalled at. James started teasing Snape-- no, outright bullying him-- with Sirius eagerly watching and laughing. It was disturbingly similar to what Dudley and his gang would do to him when he was a kid. The crowd around them watched the display, laughing as his father slung hexes at Snape, called him names. Harry’s heart fell. This was his father… his own father was doing this… no wonder Snape got upset whenever Harry mentioned him, and disliked Sirius so much.

Harry turned to Draco, burying his head in his chest. “I can’t watch this,” Harry muttered. Draco stroked his hair absentmindedly; he, too, was absolutely stunned at the scene. This… this was horrible. Snape was defenseless, yet James kept doing things to him, over and over, merely for the sake of entertainment!

“Hey, Harry, I think your mother just showed up; she’s yelling at your dad, trying to make him stop.”

Harry looked up. He watched the argument unfold, still holding onto Draco. In his father’s distraction, Snape got his wand and let off a curse; his father responded by making Snape hang upside down in the air, causing everyone to laugh as his robes flew up and his underwear was displayed. Lily got James to drop him, and they got into another argument, Snape saying some nasty things too, resulting in Lily storming off.

Harry hid his head again as his father got right back to tormenting Snape. He was shaking-- how could his own father, of all people, do something so cruel? And how were the others okay with it? Harry barely noticed that the real Snape had shown up and lifted them out until he was back on the floor of the office.

Snape was utterly furious, white with rage. He opened his mouth to yell... then blinked and closed it as he saw Harry’s reaction. Harry was still curled up against Draco. Were those tears? That was… not the reaction he had expected. He peered at the boys, not quite sure how to approach this. “What possessed you two to go exploring my private memories?” Snape questioned, as calmly as he could, though the clenched teeth and cold voice betrayed him.

“It was my fault, sir,” Draco immediately responded. “I didn’t know what it was, so poked it, and ended up inside. Harry followed me.”

“You went and poked a strange liquid without knowing what is was? I would have thought five years of potions would have taught you not to do so.”

Draco blushed. “Sorry, sir. I swear, it was an accident, we had no intent to intrude! But, please, do you have a calming potion or something? Harry didn’t take seeing that well at all-- I mean, neither did I, it was horrible-- and had his head hidden like this for most of it, I think it brought back memories or something...”

Snape retrieved the potion, willing himself to calm down further. This boy… he was nothing like his father at all, no matter how much he looked the part. That reaction… could he know what it was like to be in Snape’s place? Considering all the other things he'd experienced in childhood, courtesy of his relatives… had he been ridiculed like this in addition?

Harry drank the potion, with Draco’s assistance. “I’m sorry!” He blurted out, once it had taken effect-- though apparently less than usual. “I had no idea! All those times you said he was arrogant, yet I still defended him-- I knew nothing what he was really like! I- I can’t believe-- my own father-- how could he…”

“Harry, it’s okay,” Snape told him. “You can’t control how your father acted twenty years ago, and you didn’t know he had been like that.”

“Harry, why did you act so strongly to that?” Draco answered, moving back a little-- he was still holding him-- so he could look in Harry’s eyes.

Harry looked down. He didn’t say anything.

“Harry?”

“...I know what it feels like,” Harry whispered. “To be humiliated like that, in front of a crowd… Dudley would do that to me, in the schoolyard, when we were kids, all the time, every chance he got…well, minus the magic of course; he just used his fists and whatnot. It’s why I had no friends, either, because he’d beat up anyone who tried to friend me.”

Draco and Snape looked at each other, both horrified.

“You had no friends… because your cousin would beat them up?” Draco asked in confirmation. Harry nodded.

Snape closed his eyes. And he had thought he had had it bad when he was younger… well, he did, but it was nothing compared to Harry. He knew that, though, knew that Harry had been abused-- why did he think that Harry would have laughed at that memory, sided with his father?

“Sir?” Draco asked, “Do we need to continue the lesson tonight, or may we leave? I don’t think Harry is in any sorts to do much more… and, I’m sorry, but it appears as you might not be, either.”

Snape nodded. “Yes, that seems like a good idea.”

 

*******

 

“So, that’s the book?” Harry asked, gesturing to the thing sitting on the table of their lounge. “It looks half rotten.”

“It appears to be very old,” Daphne confirmed. “It was just lying here yesterday. We weren’t even sure whether or not to touch it; it has some sort of ominous feeling, don’t you think?”

“Yeah, definitely,” Draco replied. “What’s it’s name?”

“It’s half worn off. Something starting with an “ne” and ending in an “icon”; the rest is rotten off.” Blaise shrugged. “Does it really matter though?”

“Well, let’s get to it, then,” Harry concluded. “Who wants to open it?” Everyone was silent, looking around at each other.

“I will,” Neville finally replied, stepping towards it. He gently pulled it open, to a page in the center; some more of the leather cover flaked off, but the pages themselves seemed pretty intact. The group all gathered around, peering at it.

“That’s not English,” Adrian stated the obvious.

“What are those large diagrams?” Harry asked. “Ritual patterns? Looks like there’s formulas there too, instructions or something.”

“Yes.” Luna told them. Everyone turned to look at her now.

“Want to tell us what you mean by that, Luna?” Draco asked. “Can you read this?”

“Of course. It is Latin.” How Luna knew Latin was anyone’s guess, but it was awfully convenient.

“Well, what does it say, then?” Blaise asked. “Don’t keep us in the dark!”

“I cannot do both. Do you want me to tell you, or stay out of the dark?”

Everyone tried to process what she was saying, until Neville finally seemed to understand. “It’s a dark ritual?”

“Well, yes. This is a dark book. Can you not feel it?”

“Er, right. So, what does it say?” Harry was extremely curious about it, dark or not.

“It opens a gateway of sorts. We can travel spiritually to see a place… the words are faded there though; I don’t know what the place is. But it says it is brilliant.”

The group decided to think about that. Did they dare try? They left the book open on the table for a few days, pondering it. It was clearly quite the nefarious book--of that they had no doubt. It was probably a horrible idea to try the ritual. But they all found that they simply couldn’t stop thinking about it. Something drew them to this book; every day, the pull got stronger. By the third day, it was all they could think about through all their classes-- they simply could not pay attention to anything else. That night, they decided to try the ritual, see where it would lead.

Five concentric circles of fire were drawn on the floor in a nearby unused classroom-- their lounge was too small for it-- and the group of seven stood grasping hands in the centermost one, chanting a litany that felt as though it hailed from the deepest bowels of Tartarus itself.

A black wind blew through the classroom as everything around them save themselves and the fire seemed to melt away. The group floated through mysterious grey mists, over jagged mountains, down black abysses, across strange constellations…

Eventually, after an indiscernible amount of time-- it felt both like seconds and years had passed at once-- they found themselves floating high above an endless green plain. Far ahead, there was a great grotesque city of pointed, twisted spires made from strange materials, a city the likes of which none of them had ever seen before.

Floating closer yet still high above, they noticed a great stone building-- a temple?-- sitting directly in the center of the clearly abandoned city, a vast space cleared around it, covered in dead foliage. Darkness seemed to seep from the heart of it.

As the septet began to float downwards, towards that temple, a monstrous fear gripped them all. They knew that if they entered that place, they would never return. They all began to struggle against the pull of the ritual, begging whatever forces were at work to let them return to their own world.

Everything went blank, and the seven students found themselves sprawled across the floor, collapsed across the circles, which were now reduced to a quiet glow.

The book was burning; Snape was standing in the doorway, wand out, a look of abject horror upon his face. He seemed at an utter loss for words. So was the group, as they gathered their bearings and stood up shakily, looks of horror upon their faces as well.

Finally, Snape found his voice, tense with fear and anger. “What ever possessed you all to attempt such a dark ritual?”

Harry, Draco, and Luna looked at each other in slight confusion, still full of an unknown fear, not exactly sure why they had decided to try it. It had just appeared there, and then drawn them in once opened, caused them to think about it incessantly until they did the ritual. They explained this.

“So a book appeared, from unknown sources, obviously steeped in the darkest of magic, yet you decide to open it.”

The three looked down sheepishly. “We were, er, curious…” Harry meekly explained.

Snape blinked at them. “Curious. You do realize what that book was, correct? The name of it? I’m fairly certain such a tome was covered in your Defense Against the Dark Arts classes.”

“Actually, no-- the cover was half-rotted.” Draco told Snape. “We could only make out the start-- ‘ne’-- and end-- ‘icon’.”

“And what magical dark tome starts and ends with those letters?”

Harry paled in recognition. “The Necronomicon…” he whispered. He briefly shook in horror; even muggles had heard of that one. How had they not realized this? They had just done a ritual from the darkest book in existence, which was rumored to only have five copies left… well, four, now. What would have become of them had Snape not interjected?

Snape then realized that Draco, Luna, and Harry were the only ones that seemed cognizant; the other half the group were all still shaking in fear, eyes unfocused and staring off into space. Snape vaguely wondered if that had to do with the fact that the two boys were vampires… yet that didn’t explain why Luna seemed perfectly content now too.

Snape, Draco, Harry, and Luna helped Daphne, Adrian, Blaise, and Neville to Snape’s office, where calming draughts were administered. These seemed to have no effect, to Snape’s horror, so they then travelled to the hospital wing.

“Oh my!” Madam Pomfrey exclaimed. “What has caused these four to shake so horribly in fear? I’ll get the calming draughts--”

“It’s no use,” Snape said bluntly. “I tried that already; they were in an abandoned classroom in the dungeons when it happened, so my office was closer.”

“A dungeon classroom? What were they doing there?”

“Performing a necronomic ritual, it seems. I got there just in time; luckily, it produced a black fog, leading me to investigate. I found them in circles of fire, eyes closed, and unresponsive, until they began shaking. I then noticed the book, thus burned it, releasing them.”

“And it’s a good thing you did, too,” Luna noted. “The temple it was leading us to contained an Old One, though I’m not sure how I know that.”

Snape froze. “An Old One? How do you know of this? They are only spoken of in the darkest of tomes, none of which are permitted at Hogwarts. They are not even confirmed to exist, only described in vague passages; none of the rituals to supposedly summon them have ever succeeded…”

“Except perhaps this one,” Madam Pomfrey pointed out. “By ‘necronomic’, do you merely mean a dark ritual, or actually…”

“They actually had the Necronomicon itself, I am positive.”

“What do we do, then? We cannot let word of this reach Umbridge, but they may need treatment elsewhere…”

“Elsewhere?” Harry’s heart sank. “You mean, St. Mungo’s?” Would Neville really have to be sent to where his parents were?

“I’m afraid so. I’ll do some more tests, but it looks like it.”

“I get McGonagall, then,” Snape decided, swiftly exiting the room.

Madam Pomfrey looked at the three cognizant ones. “What exactly happened during this ritual?”

“Well,” Luna began, “Our spirits went on a journey over mysterious lands, into dark abysses, and towards a strange city with a terrifying stone temple in the center. We moved towards the temple, were overcome with a terrible fear, and then we were back.”

“I assume that happened when Snape burned the book,” Draco told her. “We tried to struggle, to force ourselves to return, but I’m not sure if that would have worked.”

“I see,” Madam Pomfrey mused. “And once you returned, the fear subsided for you three, but not the others?” The trio nodded in confirmation.

“I think that’s because my mother hails from Carcosa,” Luna told her, “which is not of this world. And Harry and Draco are not human, of course.”

Harry and Draco paled. “Luna? How do you know that?” Harry asked, shakily. He hoped that the others were too far out of it to hear what she said.

“Your death rings are gold.”

“Our… what?” Draco asked.

“Death rings. They become visible and get darker the closer to natural death someone is, from grey to black. But yours are gold. That means you don’t die naturally.”

Harry blinked. Luna’s… abilities… were honestly beginning to scare him a bit. What exactly had her mother been? “So, if you know we’re not human, do you know specifically what we are?”

“No, but it would be nice if you told me… but that is not necessary. I understand if you want it to be secret.”

Draco sighed. “Well, if you already know we’re not human, I guess we can tell you. Is that okay with you, Harry?”

“Yeah, I guess… we’re vampires, Luna.”

“Oh, is that all? Hmm, I was hoping you were something more interesting… oh, well.”

Harry blinked. Not the reaction he had expected. “Luna, please don’t tell anyone else. Only a few know; at Hogwarts, it’s just Madam Pomfrey and Snape. And you now.”

“I understand. I will keep your secret.” She said earnesty, looking directly at Harry. Harry blinked. Such a serious expression on Luna was disconcertingly strange.

Snape and McGonagall walked in; McGonagall had been briefed on the way. She looked at the four students with a highly concerned expression as Madam Pomfrey explained to her the findings-- she had been examining them while the other three spoke. They would need to go to St. Mungo's.

“What’s the cover story, then?” Snape asked. “Another potions incident?”

“No, she would find that too suspicious,” McGonagall told him. “Let’s see, what else could cause something like this…”

“I believe dark magic, dark creatures, and potions are the only options,” Madam Pomfrey said. “You can say they were brewing a fright potion, for extra credit, but accidently messed up in such a way that it became a mist which was absorbed into them, with not a trace remaining in the cauldron, which left them in this fearful state. They would have to go to St. Mungo's for that, because there is no potion remaining to derive an antidote from, and they cannot explain what they did.”

“Yes, that works,” McGonagall mused. “You three,” she gestured at Luna, Harry, and Draco, “ought to leave now; there is no reason to say that you were involved. You will have detention this Saturday for being caught in the kitchens after dark-- a common occurrence. I believe Hagrid could use some help mucking out the thestral pen.”

Chapter Text

“Let me get this straight,” Hermione said, as she, Harry, and Ron were sitting in the common room after Harry had returned from the Hospital Wing. “The Necronomicon appeared mysteriously in your lounge, and you decided to try a ritual from it that has landed four of our friends in St. Mungo’s?”

“I’m not the one who opened it! Neville did!” Harry tried clarifying.

“Doesn’t matter who opened it-- you all decided to look at it together!”

“Please, Hermione, I’ve been scolded by people enough already for it…”

“But how come only half of you were affected?” wondered Ron.

“Beats me,” Harry lied, shrugging.

“Hello, Harry.” A dreamy voice called from next to him. How did Luna do that? He was supposed to have vampire hearing!

“Er. What’s up, Luna? And how’d you get into the common room?”

“Oh, the portrait let me in.”

“You know the password?”

“No. She just let me in.”

Ron scoffed. “Some security we have, huh?”

“So, why are you here, Luna?” Hermione questioned.

“Oh, right. Harry, the Old Gods contacted me. They said Ulthar’s cats are in trouble again, so we must help them.”

“Ulthar?” Hermione asked. “I’ve heard that name before…”

“Yes. The White Ship will take us there. Only me, Draco, and Harry, though.”

“Luna, what are you going on about?” Ron raised an eyebrow.

“Oh! I remember!” burst Hermione. “‘The Cats of Ulthar’ is a story I read within compilation of short stories by various wizard authors. It was about a town with a creepy old couple who killed any cat that passed into their yard. The villagers were scared of them though so they didn’t do anything, just kept their cats away. But one day a travelling caravan from a far-off land visited, which included a young boy and his small kitten. One day, the kitten vanished; the villagers told him about the old couple, assuming they took the cat. The boy then prayed to some sort of unknown gods before he left, causing the sky to turn strange colours and the clouds to look like nefarious beings. The next day, all the village cats vanished, and when they returned the next, they were not hungry. There was no sign of the old couple for weeks after; finally, the town head mustered up the courage to go into their house, only to find two human skeletons picked completely clean.”

“That’s really morbid,” Ron commented.

“Do you think the boy called the Old Gods?” Harry mused. “But if they resolved it before, why would they send us to go this time?”

“It is peculiar,” Luna agreed.

“Harry, you’re not actually holding any stock in this, are you?” Hermione laughed. “It’s just a story! Ulthar isn’t even a real place.”

“But if the Old Gods said to go there, it must be…”

“Yes,” Luna agreed. “The White Ship has shown me it before, though we never stopped there.”

“Harry? Are you okay, mate?” Ron asked. “Luna I can understand thinking these things, but you? What are the ‘Old Gods’, even?”

Harry looked at Ron peculiarly. “The Old Gods are the ones who call to us, of course.”

“Yes.” Luna agreed. “We must heed them.”

“Harry, are you high on nyx again?” Hermione asked bluntly “You’re speaking extremely similarly to how you were that night… If you went near that stuff again...”

“We cannot until the Old Gods give permission,” Luna told them.

Ron had a very concerned look on his face. “I think you two should go see Madam Pomfrey-- maybe you actually were affected by that ritual thing.”

“No,” Luna told him. “Such a ritual will not affect us as it did the others, because--” Harry flung his hand over her mouth, and glared at her in warning.

Luna removed his hand and looked at Harry. “I was going to say because we have been graced by the Old Ones.”

“Ah, right,” Harry blushed. “Hold on. The Old Ones? Don’t you mean the Old Gods? The Old Ones are…”

“You have spoken to Azathoth. So have Draco and I. He is the master of the Old Ones.” Luna tilted her head. “Did you forget?”

“Er. No, just didn’t draw the connection, I guess,” Harry muttered.

“I must inform Draco of our task now,” Luna told Harry, wandering off.

“Wait, Luna! When will the White Ship take us?”

“Hmm. Not for a while, I think. Time moves differently there…” she stated dreamily, as she left though the portrait hole.

Hermione stood up. “Harry. You need to go back to see Madam Pomfrey now,” she insisted.

“What? Why?”

“Mate, you’ve been talking with Luna about things that don’t exist,” Ron told him, a sad note in his voice. “Hermione’s right. You need to go back.” He grabbed Harry’s wrist as if to lead him there.

Harry hissed violently and pulled back, glaring at Ron and Hermione before dashing out the door to find Draco. Maybe they could go hunting to take their mind off all the crap going on.

 

*******

 

Harry snuck Mrs. Norris a scrap of meat. He was at Madam Pomfrey’s for his daily check-in, drinking a blood potion with some delicious steak tartare while she asked him random questions about his feelings and past-- it seemed she was trying to turn these lunches into therapy sessions now-- when Ron and Hermione entered.

“Harry? What are you doing here?” Ron asked.

“Er. I always eat lunch here, remember? After your little ‘intervention’?”

“Right,” Ron blushed. “Er. So, Madam Pomfrey, could we talk to you for a minute?” He glanced quickly at Harry. “In private?”

“Of course, dear,” Madam Pomfrey walked them to her office, shutting the door… not that it helped, considering he could hear them all anyway. It seemed Ron and Hermione were, again, trying to butt into Harry’s business, saying he was acting weird and whatnot. He wasn’t acting weird. Not at all.

From the sound of it, Madam Pomfrey didn’t think so, either. “I’m sorry, but I just don’t see a problem,” she told them. “Like I said, I see Harry daily, as you know, and haven’t seen any odd behavior.”

“But you didn’t see him with Luna!” Ron seemed to be getting agitated now. “They were going on about some Old Gods and weird places, in a strange dreamlike manner…”

“Plus his eating habits still seem to consist of solely meat, which from the looks of it, isn’t being corrected,” Hermione insisted.

“Must I remind you, Miss Granger, that I am the healer here? He is drinking a potion catered to his nutritional needs. You do not need to worry about his eating behaviors.”

“He’s not really sleeping, either, come to think of it,” mentioned Ron. “He’s not even in the dorm a lot of nights, or comes back really late.And when he is in bed it seems like he’s just doing work or reading or basically anything other than sleep!”

Harry winced. It seemed he wasn’t hiding that as well as he’d thought.

Draco walked in at that moment, to collect Harry from his check-up/therapy-session; he still refused to leave Harry alone for any long length of time, and it was a Saturday, after all. “Something going on?” he asked, seeing Harry’s expression.

“Ron and Hermione are talking with Madam Pomfrey; apparently they’re worried about me again.”

“Really? Why’s that?”

“Luna told me about Ulthar while they were there; apparently, agreeing with the ‘insane’ things she says is grounds for thinking I’ve had some sort of mental break.” Harry rolled his eyes.

“What? Why is he here?!” Ron shouted, leaving the office.

Draco and Harry sighed simultaneously. “Here we go again…” Harry muttered, under his breath.

“Meow!” Mrs. Norris agreed.

 

*******

 

Monday came, and with it the day he was scheduled for his “career advice” session with Professor McGonagall; all fifth years had to have a meeting with their head of house to help decide which NEWT courses to take, if so desiring to continue their education-- which was highly advised considering most wizarding professions required such. Harry was completely undecided what he wanted to do… he also found he was running late, as he had forgotten about it, with Ron reminding him while they were in class that he should be there instead.

“Sorry I’m late, Professor!” Harry noticed that in addition to McGonagall being there, Umbridge was sitting in the corner, no doubt attempting to be discreet.

“It’s fine, Potter. Here, have a biscuit.”

“Thanks, Professor,” Harry took one, nibbling on it yet finding the sweet confection had no taste-- of course it wouldn’t, why had he expected otherwise?

“So, Potter, let’s get right to it, then. Have you thought about what you plan to do after Hogwarts? Weasley suggested you wanted to be aurors together.”

“Did he?” Harry said dejectedly. “I dunno. I haven’t given it much though. I doubt I’d make a good auror.”

“Well, at least he gets something right,” Umbridge piped up. “Even on the slim chance he got the grades, the Ministry would never hire him. Especially with his dismal Defense grades, which is a core requirement.”

“Yet he has done brilliantly in every Defense class taught by a competent teacher,” McGonagall said indignantly. Unbridge tried protesting, yet was ignored. “Now, getting back to business. Potter. Why do you doubt you’d make a good auror?”

“Personal reasons,” Harry muttered.

“Personal reasons? Why, what personal reasons could you have for doubting you’d be a good auror? The marks in all your classes have been brilliant this year, even in Potions, which I know you never liked much. I’m sure you’ll get the OWLs you need to continue to NEWT level of any class you desire, at the very least.”

Harry smiled at that. Not sleeping did have some benefits, one being that he had plenty of extra time to study and read beyond basic levels of things. It was all really interesting when you didn’t need to simply know it for tests and essays; he understood how Hermione found reading so fun, now. “It’s not my studies. I just don’t think I could handle the stress of the job well.” Understatement of the year. “What are the other options?”

Harry left McGonagall’s office with a stackful of pamphlets on all different careers. Did he have to choose one now? Couldn’t he just take a bunch of NEWT classes in random subjects and decide later? Plus there was the little problem of him being nonhuman. Were there options for him outside the wizarding world? He could ask Mindy, but there wasn’t a chance to see her, since he was banned from Hogsmeade weekends. Perhaps if he could talk to Lupin and Sirius… Harry cringed as he recalled Snape’s memory. He really wanted to talk to them about that, as well. But how could he?

Harry expressed this puzzle to Draco later that day.

“Didn’t Sirius give you something to talk to him over the holidays?” Draco responded.

Harry’s eyes widened. He had completely forgotten! “How did you even know about that? Did Sirius say something to you?”

“Nope.” Draco laughed and pointed at his ear. “Vampire hearing, remember? I overheard when he gave it to you. You mean you haven’t used it?”

Harry blushed. “Well, no… I kinda forgot about it…”

Draco shook his head. “You’re hopeless. Whatever would you do without me?” he teased.

“Nothing. I’d be dead.”

Draco was not amused. “Don’t joke about that. Ever.”

“It’s the truth though.”

“Harry, please. No. Come on, let’s go talk to them; we have some time now. Is that okay?”

“Yeah, I suppose…”

 

*******

 

“It’s a mirror. What do I do with a mirror?” Harry asked, upon opening the package.

“Well, is there a note? Or maybe instructions on the back?” Draco suggested. As it turned out, there were. Sirius had an identical one, and all Harry had to do was say Sirius’s name into it to talk; apparently, his father and Sirius had used the mirrors when in separate detentions.

“You want to do it now?” Draco asked.

“Er. No, better leave the Gryffindor dorms. If certain people… well, person... see you in here, it won’t be pretty.”

“Good point.”

Thus, the duo moved to their lounge. A grim melancholy fell over them, as the realization came that the others wouldn’t be visiting them there anytime soon, from the sound of things-- the healers were not very familiar with damage from such dark rituals.

Settling on the loveseat, Harry spoke into the little square mirror. “Sirius.”

After a minute, the mirror glowed, and Sirius’s face appeared. The two huddled together so he could see them both. “what’s wrong?” Sirius called. “Snape didn’t hurt you, did he?”

“Er. No, Sirius, that isn’t why we called, although the other day he--”

“What? What did he do? If he did anything--”

“No, that’s not was I was saying!” Harry interrupted. “Just listen! I was about to say he saved our lives.”

“Saved your lives?” Sirius appeared to be very confused. “Snape?”

“Yes,” Draco confirmed. “There was an, er, incident-- we were fooling around with something we shouldn’t have been, with a bunch of our friends. Snape found and saved us before it got really bad, but it landed half the group in St. Mungo’s. Just Luna, Draco, and I were unaffected, most likely because we’re vampires and Luna is... well no one’s really sure, she just has weird abilities-- we don’t question it.”

Sirius had a look of shock on his face, and turned to someone off-screen. “Remus, did you hear that?”

“Yes, I did.” Lupin grabbed the mirror. “What exactly were you all ‘fooling around with’?”

Harry looked down. “We, er, well, this old book appeared, so we opened it, and it was kinda dark I guess, because it kinda compelled us to do a ritual…”

“What was the name of the book?”

“Well, we didn’t know at first, the letters were mostly faded off, but it did feel powerful, Snape knew what it was though, the letters that were there and how powerful it felt should have clued us in, but we were stupid I guess, and curious…”

“Harry, don’t avoid the subject,” Sirius told him. “Tell us the name.”

“Er, the uh… Necronomicon,” Harry mumbled sheepishly.

“What? Speak up,” Lupin requested. “And please don’t tell me you said what I think you did…”

“The Necronomicon.” Draco confirmed. “And yes, the ritual actually seemed to be succeeding, until Snape thankfully interrupted.”

Both adults’ faces turned white. “Succeeding in what?” Lupin asked quietly.

Harry answered, sighing. “It was taking us, in spirit form, to meet an Old One, though we’re not sure which… but, that’s not what I want to talk to you about!” Harry attempted to change the subject.

The door to the lounge slid open; Harry and Draco froze, then relaxed as they saw who had entered.

“Hello,” Luna greeted them. “I brought you some chickens. Hagrid gave me them when I went to visit the thestrals.” She walked over and handed them each a live chicken.

“Er. Thanks, Luna?” Harry responded.

“Oh, hello, Professor Lupin,” Luna said, glimpsing the mirror. “That’s a nice dog you have too.” Sirius had changed into his animagus form. “Although dogs don’t usually have so many wrackspurts. Is that a real dog?”

“Hey, Luna,” Draco called, attempting to distract her from Sirius. “We were talking about something important with them. Do you mind?”

“Oh, go ahead.” Luna sat in an armchair, humming a strange tune.

“Er. It’s kinda private,” Harry told her. “Did you need something from us?”

“Oh, yes! The White Ship is ready to take us to Ulthar now. We must go soon.”

“White Ship? Ulthar? What’s that?” Lupin asked curiously.

“Oh, nothing,” Harry brushed off. “Just Luna being Luna. Anyway, can we talk more later?”

“Perhaps it would be best if we spoke in person,” Lupin mused. “Your friends are in St. Mungo’s, correct? You can visit them this weekend, stopping by here on the way.”

“I don’t know if Umbridge would approve of us leaving, though.”

“Well, we’ll figure something out.” Lupin promised. “Talk to you then, Harry, Draco.”

“Woof!” Sirius agreed.

The mirror now reflected their own faces. Harry wished he had been able to ask Sirius about the incident with Snape, and ask Lupin about careers, but he supposed that could wait, even though the former had been gnawing at him ever since seeing that memory. Snape never mentioned it to the boys, so they didn’t either.

 

*******

 

The trio decided to journey on the White Ship after dinner. However, when emerging from the dungeons into the entrance hall, they found themselves on the outskirts of a large crowd of students. Pushing to the front, they discovered Fred and George, cornered by Umbridge and the inquisitorial squad, Filch running down the stairs with some sort of form yelling about whipping. However, that punishment would never be fulfilled-- Fred and George put on quite the show. Apparently, they had unleashed an entire swamp in one of the corridors; after accio-ing their brooms, one which still had a chain attached, they announced that you could get one at their new joke shop in Diagon Alley, “Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes.” Then, after commanding Peeves-- whom actually listened-- to give Umbridge hell, the twins flew out into the night to great applause. It was quite the show!

“Hey, Luna?” Harry whispered. “We might have trouble getting to the ship, now; Umbridge will surely be monitoring the doors.”

Draco agreed. “Perhaps we ought to postpone the journey.”

“Oh no, we can’t do that!” Luna insisted. “It is very urgent that we go now, the Old Gods say. It is a full moon, after all.” She began to wander out the door.

Draco and Harry urged her to stop, but Luna ignored them. Soon they found themselves outside-- had no one seen the three in the commotion? No one had stopped them, at least. They made their way to the lake, where the White Ship would appear, according to Luna.

And appear it did. Moonlight glittered within a thick mist covering the lake, out of which smoothly said a shining ship of pure white. The trio stepped out onto the water, walking on moonbeams until they reached the ship and ascended the gangplank which extended down towards them as they arrived. Then, as silently as it arrived, the White Ship glided away. Hogwarts had vanished, and they were sailing on a sea of calm waters, unknown constellations sparking in a night sky bearing two moons, one of silver and one of gold.

The captain-- who was really just a manifestation of the consciousness of the ship itself-- spoke to the trio in a strange tongue that they found they knew well. They sailed both extremely swiftly yet also drifted lazily across the waters at the same time. The ship told them of the many places they passed by as the night melted into a rosy dawn: the meadows of Zar, where lie the forgotten thoughts of fantasies unfulfilled, upon which descending upon man cannot return; the great city of Thalarion, wherein lies daemons and mad creatures, the likes of which man cannot fathom; Xura, a land steeped in decay, known also as the Land of Pleasures Unattained; Sona-nyl, a place where there is neither time nor space, and one can dwell for time immemorial if one so wishes, for death does not exist there. The ship told them of a time it sailed with a man beyond Sona-nyl, in an attempt to find Cathuria, land of hope, but man may not go there; the man, however, insisted, so the White Ship agreed to try, yet as expected the stormy seas surrounding Cathuria were too rough and thrust the man back to whence he came, as well as injured the ship for daring to take the man there-- the ship gestured to a broken spar as it spoke of this. Betrayed by the man, the White Ship had vowed to never again ferry a normal human.

The captain then vanished, and they sailed the seas in silence. The trio stood at the bow, peering over the calm waters into a translucent ocean teeming with fish and creatures the likes of which they had never seen.

“You two should kiss,” Luna told Harry and Draco, as the rose sun sunk and the twin moons began to rise. The two simply looked at her, nonplussed. Luna peered at them, perplexed at their confusion. “You do wish to, correct? You should if you do. Love is a beautiful thing.”

The boys gazed at each other. They did wish to, it was true; this wondrous journey surely warranted such. So the two became immersed in each other as the silver-gold moonlight washed over them, with Luna looking very pleased as she watched the two pressed up against each other, sliding their tongues over each other’s fangs, Harry even nipping a little at Draco’s lip to taste his blood...

Soon, they came upon the river Skai, sailing upon it until they reached the quaint town of Ulthar, silent in the darkness of the night.

Chapter Text

The return from Ulthar, wherein Luna, Draco, and Harry had ventured for three weeks, took only a single night despite the initial journey there taking many more. When they descended the gangway and walked across the lake, it was midday on Friday, only four days after the trio had initially left.

It was if they had never been gone. No one seemed to have noticed that the three had been away for four days, other than the cats, who greeted them joyously upon their return.

“Hey, Harry,” Ron said to him, as he entered the common room. “Haven’t seen you around much this week; everything okay?”

“Sure. Just took a month long journey to Ulthar via the White Ship. It really was as delightful as Luna says. A bit odd being back though.”

Ron blinked at Harry. “Are you high again?”

“Harry!” Hermione called as she emerged from the portrait hole. “I’ve been looking for you. Hagrid showed me and Ron something… interesting, yesterday, during our free period. We couldn’t find you around, though.” She told Harry about Grawp.

“He wants us to… teach a giant... English,” Harry confirmed, once she had finished.

“Apparently so.”

“He’s mad.”

“That’s what I told him too,” Ron said. “He just laughed. Seems to think it’s a reasonable request.”

“It’s only if he’s forced to leave, though,” Hermione told Harry. “So unless that happens, we won’t have to.”

“Which means we definitely will have to. Hermione, she’s going to sack him. We all know it. She’ll find an excuse; she hates half-breeds and non-humans.” Harry glowered. If she knew he was a vampire, he’d be expelled too, Harry was sure.

A first-year walked up to the trio. “H-harry Potter?” The young girl spoke nervously, as all first years seemed to when speaking to the older students. “P-professor McGonagall w-wants to see you in her o-office.”

Harry thanked the student, and took his leave from Ron and Hermione to head over to McGonagall’s office.

Mrs. Weasley and Snape were both in the office, too, along with an older witch Harry didn’t recognize.

“Er. What’s going on?” Harry asked.

“Potter, this is Mrs. Wilson, from the Commission for the Protection of Wizarding Children.”

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Potter,” the woman held out her hand, which Harry shook.

“Er. What’s the… whatever commission? And why are you all here?” Harry peered around the room, somewhat nervous. He wasn’t liking this situation at all.

“The Commission for the Protection of Wizarding Children-- CPWC for short-- is designed to ensure all wizarding children have a home life conducive to their needs. It has been brought to our attention that the place you have been living in since an infant may not be the best environment for a wizarding child.”

Harry blinked, processing this. “Er. A little late to realize this now, don’t you think?”

“Yes, and we apologize for that. We had been assured that the situation was fine by certain other parties, but recent evidence has shown that was not the case. From what I’ve heard, it was quite lucky you did not develop an obscurus! We are of course only in preliminary investigations, and have not yet spoken to the muggles you were raised by, but until the investigation has been completed temporary guardianship has been granted to Mrs. Weasley here, who we’ve been told already has been taking care of you during parts of the summers and holidays.”

Harry looked at Snape. “You told them about this,” Harry stated flatly. “Why?” Had it been in retaliation for seeing Snape’s memory?

“Yes, Harry,” Snape replied. “I reported this because there was simply too much going on there to ignore further, despite your requests to do so. It is simply too dangerous for you to return there. Seeing your reaction the other night further confirmed this.” So it was related to the memory… but not retaliation? From how he spoke, did Snape actually care about him?

Harry frowned. It wasn’t as though he was unhappy with this-- in fact, he was quite enamoured with the prospect of never returning there-- but Dumbledore had kept insisting he needed to be there for some sort of blood protection or something. Though would such a spell even still work anyway, since the blood he had in him was no longer his, rather that of all the animals he drained and imitations of such from the potion? “I understand, I guess. Dumbledore kept saying I needed to return though…”

“Yes, well, clearly Dumbledore was mistaken about that,” McGonagall huffed. Harry was surprised; he had never heard her express any negativity about the old wizard before. “What magical protection it provides is meaningless if you are strangled or starved to death.”

“That’s what I told him too, but he didn’t listen.”

“Well,” Mrs. Wilson said, “We will be the ones listening now. Please, if it is okay, I would like to interview you about it. I know it can be tough, but the more evidence we have, the greater the chance we can permanently remove you from the home.”

“I guess… is it okay if a friend is with me, though? For comfort? And will everyone here be listening?”

“Yes, you may invite your friend, and no one else needs to be there if you don’t want them to.”

“I will get Draco,” Snape told them, walking out the door.

 

*******

 

Umbridge had been extremely disgruntled about Harry and Draco leaving for the weekend. At first she tried to argue that they needed permission from their legal guardians, Lucius Malfoy and the Dursleys; to counteract this, Snape handed her two CPWC forms: the first showing that Harry was in temporary custody of Mrs. Weasley, and the second showing that Draco had been in Snape’s full custody for the past six months. She was not at all happy, but even she could not argue with the decisions of the CPWC. Snape and Mrs. Weasley had both requested to take them off premises for the weekend, and being their legal guardians, she had to allow it.

Only Harry and Draco would be going through; Hermione’s parents couldn’t be reached at such short notice, and Ron had a quidditch match that he wasn’t looking forwards to at all yet was obliged to attend.

So now, Harry, Draco, and Luna found themselves at the door to Grimmauld Place along with Snape and Mrs. Weasley. Luna had not gotten permission to go, rather merely followed them there, which no one questioned.

“Harry!” Sirius pulled him into a tight hug the moment they walked into the door. “I’m so glad you’re okay!” He turned to Snape, a sheepish expression on his face. “I hear you saved his life. Thank you. Maybe--” Sirius took a deep breath. “Maybe I misjudged you. Maybe you have changed, and I was holding on to the past too much. Remus has been trying to tell me that all year, but I guess I just didn’t want to believe it.”

Snape looked at Sirius in mild surprise. “You’re… apologizing? To me?”

“Don’t make me regret it.” Sirius mumbled the thinly veiled threat.

“Anyway,” Draco interrupted the exchange, preferring it to end at that rather than potentially turning into a not as nice conversation, “It’s great to see you, Sirius! It’s been too long.”

“That it has.” Sirius smiled brightly. “Here, let’s all move to the kitchen; Remus and I made dinner, since it’s fairly late. We can visit your friends in the morning.”

“We didn’t expect an extra guest, though; hopefully we’ll have enough,” Remus mused. “Luna’s your name, right?”

“Yes,” Luna acknowledged. “I am sure you will have enough food though. I don’t eat much. Neither do they.” She gestured to Harry and Draco.”

“It is fine. I will be leaving,” Snape told them. “Someone needs to contact Dumbledore, update him on the school.” With that, he headed out the door.

“And you surely will be eating much!” Mrs. Weasley proclaimed, as they proceeded to the kitchen and sat at the large table. “Harry, Luna, you both are much too thin. And Harry, Draco, you both look pale as well. Let’s get some food in you.”

Harry and Draco looked at each other, worried. How long had it been since their last potion? They hadn’t brought any potions; eating had not been required during their visit to Ulthar, so they had forgotten it was needed now that they were back.

Harry took the opportunity to ask Sirius and Lupin about the memory of Snape’s they had seen. Yes, Mrs. Weasley and Luna were there, but they wouldn’t say anything. Harry was more relaxed talking about it as he had been before, since for him it had been a long while since seeing it. Sirius explained that that memory was the worst it had gotten, and that Snape often cursed them when he could as well-- not that he deserved what had happened that day, of course, he acknowledged. Sirius seemed honestly ashamed at how they had acted at that age, and Lupin ashamed at how he never did much to stop them. They explained that, although his mother seemed to dislike him then, James’s ego had deflated somewhat by seventh year, and he had stopped hexing people for fun, though Snape was a special case because he often cursed James as well; he never caused such a horrid scene like in Snape’s memory after that, though. They had been kids during that scene, and maturity had done wonders; after all, if he had remained that way, Harry’s mother would have never married James. Harry supposed he could accept this; people do change through the years, after all-- he and Draco certainly had. So it was very possible that, despite being an “arrogant little berk”-- Sirius's words-- when he was younger, by the time his dad had become an auror he had been a much better person.

After dinner was finished, Harry pulled Lupin aside. “May we talk to you for a minute?” Harry asked him. “Alone?”

“Of course.” The three headed to a private study-- Sirius, who usually would insist on going, was in a conversation with Luna and Mrs. Weasley. The two adults were trying to explain to the girl that he was not some dead singer, rather actually the Azkaban escapee.

Once they settled upon some barely-comfortable chairs, Harry explained what had been on his mind. Well, both he and Draco’s minds, actually. “We’re bound to be outed as vampires one day,” Harry said sadly. “Especially if I use the abilities in the inevitable fight against Voldemort-- he isn’t going to leave me alone, you know that.” there was a morbid silence.

“Anyway,” Draco continued, “We need to decide what NEWT level classes to take in relation to our future desired careers, but are unsure which direction to head; as you are painfully aware, the options for non-humans in the wizarding world are dismal. So, we’re wondering if you have any advice on that.”

Lupin sighed. “My best advice would be to simply not divulge what you are to employers, and hope they don’t find out. However, this will most likely be impossible for you to do, in light of the press coverage that will occur upon discovery… although, your fame may play out to your advantage, lessening the chances of not being hired due to your creature status. I’m sorry, but there’s not much more I can say, other than try not to let people find out, and stay away from professions that are likely to out you, like Auror or Healer. Your best bet would be to find a small place to work where the people don’t mind what you are, or perhaps, in your case, since you have the money, invest in creating your own business, like the Weasley twins have-- they hired me to work part-time at their shop, you know. I also just got hired at a bar in Hogsmeade that actually prefers that I am what I am.”

Harry piped up at that. “A bar? What’s the name?”

“It’s a small private one, exclusive to those of us shunned by society. You wouldn’t have heard of it-- it’s called Mindy’s.”

“Oh! We know Mindy’s!” Draco announced. “The people there helped me a lot last summer, to understand about being a vampire.”

“Draco took me there last Hogsmeade visit,” Harry told Lupin. “We met Mindy and her girlfriend. Will you still be living here, or getting a place in Hogsmeade?”

“Well, that’s great, then! They really are nice people. And for now, I’ll still be here-- Sirius is quite insistent on that. He gets pretty lonely, you know, so it’s not just for my benefit. One of my jobs is in this area besides, so it makes sense. I can apparate to the other.”

“Maybe we can do something like that, too,” Harry mused. “Find a job at a place catering to creatures, that is. But that still doesn’t help in deciding which NEWT classes to take, or what career I’ll tell McGonagall I want. Snape was fine with Draco being unsure, but McGonagall will want a definite choice, and she does not know what we are.”

“Well, what subjects do you feel you're most comfortable with? Staying in a related field is a good choice.”

“Er. I don’t know.”

“You’re really great at Defense,” Draco mentioned. “You taught the DA, after all. I’d dare to even say teaching in general could be a good profession for you; you’re certainly good at it.”

“Yeah, but nowhere would hire a vampire as a teacher,” Harry said sadly.

“Actually,” Lupin piped up, “you could be a private instructor. A lot of creatures have trouble finding one, as most pure-human wizards don’t want to teach them.”

“Or,” Draco’s eyes lit up, “You could start your own school specifically for creatures!”

“Er. I guess, maybe,” Harry told them. Would he actually do well as a teacher? He did really love teaching the DA, come to think of it. “I can tell McGonagall that, at least. Well, about the teaching part, not the school for creatures.”

 

*******

 

Harry, Draco, Luna, Lupin, and Mrs. Weasley entered St. Mungo’s. Lupin had come along to investigate, as he had taught DADA before, thus knew a lot about dark magic. Most likely he wouldn’t find anything the healers hadn’t, but a pair of fresh eyes was always good. The receptionist directed the group to a private ward on the fourth floor-- the four had been separated from the other patients since their affliction was still unknown, and the result of a highly dark ritual.

“They’ve been doing better, actually,” the Healer in charge told the quintet before entering. “They’ll talk to you fine, but mention anything about their experience and they close up for hours. Also, they’ll frequently stare off into space as if in some sort of dreamworld, and mutter about strange things or speak in tongues. Be careful what you say.”

“Harry! Draco!” Blaise called, running up to Harry and Draco once they entered, giving them a big hug. “I missed you! It feels like it’s been over a month, though they tell us it’s been just a week,” He looked slightly confused.

“Well, that is understandable,” Luna told him. “It feels like it has been that long for us, too, as we travelled to--”

Harry slammed his hand over her mouth. “Remember what the Healer just said? be careful what you say!”

“You went to Ulthar,” Daphne told them. “We know.”

Harry and Draco stared at her blankly. How did they know?

“The Old Gods whispered it to us,” Adrian answered the unspoken question.

“Yes,” Neville told them. “They also informed us not to do the ritual again, since apparently only you three are permitted, though they would not tell us why.”

“Oh, that’s because we have the blessing of the Old Ones,” Luna told them matter-of-factly. “Since we have spoken to Azathoth.”

“So, will you try the ritual again, then?” Blaise asked curiously.

“Actually, the book was burned; Snape did so. That’s what pulled us all out.” Harry vaguely realized that he had spoken in the same strange language they had spoken on the White Ship. In fact, everyone had been, since Ulthar had been mentioned.

Draco had noticed too. “Hey, maybe we should curb this discussion…” he suggested. “The adults are getting suspicious.”

All seven of them turned to Lupin, Mrs. Weasley, and the Healer, who were staring at them with looks of shock.

“You… you know what they are saying? It’s an actual language you are speaking?” The Healer asked, looking faint. “But, none of our language identification devices knew of it… we assumed it was merely glossolalia-- making up their own words on-the-spot, with no real meaning.”

“That is because it is the language of the far lands.” Luna told them, switching back to English. “Only those who have been to them may speak it.”

Lupin stared peculiarly at Luna. “And what are these ‘far lands’?”

“The ones the White Ship takes one to, of course,” Luna said, as though it should be obvious.

“And apparently, the ritual must have brought us all there too, if they can speak it,” Draco concluded.

“If they can…” Mrs. Weasley had gathered herself; she had been momentarily stunned by the display. “That implies you could already, doesn’t it? Have you performed such horrific rituals before?!”

“No, god no!” Harry assured her. “We didn’t even know we could speak it right after that one, rather learned of it a fews days later, while on the White Ship.”

Lupin closed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose while he spoke. “Luna mentioned the White Ship and Ulthar on Monday, while talking to us with the mirror, yet you brushed it off when I asked about it. Now you are talking about it as though it is more than merely Luna’s dreams… might I ask again what those are?”

Harry and Draco looked at each other briefly. “It’s, er, kinda hard to explain,” Harry told them.

Luckily, Neville’s grandmother walked in at that point, preventing the conversation from continuing.

Chapter Text

Neville, Blaise, Daphne, and Adrian were released from St. Mungo’s the next day, thus returned to Hogwarts with Luna, Draco, and Harry. The healers were baffled, but somehow the four seemed perfectly fine after the three had visited them. Luna claimed she had spoken to Azathoth that night, whom had spoken to whichever Old One had been in that temple, making it release the curse of fear the others had been under; yes, it had been a mere curse, a punishment for disturbing the Old One’s rest.

“Guess what?” Ron called to Harry, as he entered the common room. “We won! Gryffindor won the match! Aww, man, you should have been there, we-- Neville, you’re back!”

Neville blushed as he entered the room to a round of applause, everyone happy that he had returned. Then, the questions began… everyone had heard what supposedly had happened, but as usual, they needed to hear it from the source itself. Harry had no doubt that the Slytherin common room was in a similar state.

“Harry, you do know the OWLs begin next week, right? You’ve lost a whole weekend of study! And Neville,” as Hermione called his name the boy looked over. “You missed over a week of study!”

“Actually, Hermione, our schoolwork was brought there. We got better throughout the week, so could work on some after a few days; it was just broken up on occasion by mental breaks due to the cur-- potion. Overall, we probably got as much done as we would have here.”

“I see… well, be sure to keep it up, then. But Harry, you need to catch up!”

“It’s two days’ worth of study, Hermione…”

“Exactly! You can’t miss so much study time with the OWLs so close!” Hermione dragged Harry to the library; he didn’t protest. It was no use, when Hermione was in her “study mode.”

 

*******

 

“You ready?” Blaise asked the group. They all nodded eagerly. Luna had happily informed them not an hour before that the Old Gods had given them permission to use Nyx again. Harry wondered how it would be this time; the last two times had been fairly different from each other, albeit drunkenness had undoubtedly contributed to that. They had decided being on it while drunk had been much more fun, thus they were drunk this time, too.

“Yessssss, now get on with it!” Harry whined, clinging onto Draco; he was unable to sit up on his own, it seemed.

“What he said,” Draco slurred.

“Daph, Nev, gerroff me,” Adrian complained. He was lying facedown on the couch, and they were sitting on top of him as though he were a couch cushion.

Luna spun in the corner, humming what sounded disturbingly like “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival… Harry didn’t know how she knew it, but that couldn’t bode well. He hoped it wasn’t… oh, nope, it was. “Don’t go ‘round tonight, It’s bound to take your life, There’s a bad moon on the rise…” she sung dreamily. She did know what she was singing, right?

“Hey, people, I’m trying to give you drugs here!” Blaise shouted loudly. “Can we stop fooling around?”

Everyone jumped up, clamoring over to grab the glasses of swirling galactic darkness, some falling on the way. Well, except Luna.

“Hey, Luna? Luna!”

“I hear the voice of raze and ruin-- Oh! Yes, I would like some too.” Luna trotted over.

The seven downed their glasses eagerly.

The result was quicker than it had been before. Harry’s veins were immediately white-hot, the room melting away as he was thrust onto the edge of the abyss of the universe… except this time, there was a humongous red moon right above him in place of the swirling stars and nebulae he had seen the past couple times. There was a sense of foreboding; something wasn’t right. Strange figures seemed to glide around him, of which he could not make out. They fled as a giant shadow formed across the moon, what appeared to be a mix of bat wings and tentacles…

Then, it was gone. Harry was filled with a calmness, and again was floating in and out between a star-filled galaxy and the lounge, surrounded by the strange space colours. He could see the wrackspurts and other figures again… Harry felt like he was in a dream, yet reality was too sharp, too clear, at the same time. The lights had been dim, but now they were both too bright and too dark at once.

Harry was floating blissfully as he lay against Draco, feeling the boy’s heartbeat next to him. “I want to bite you…” he muttered.

“Mmm… right now?” Draco asked.

“Right now…” Harry lightly nibbled upon Draco’s ear.

“But the others…”

“Aren’t paying attention.” It was true. Luna was dancing with Blaise and Neville, their eyes closed, singing in the language of the far worlds, whilst Daphne and Adrian seemed to be having sex in the corner.

Draco pulled Harry over into a deep kiss, flipping them over behind the couch, out of view of the others. Their robes were off, it seemed, though neither recalled removing them… so were the retainers…

Harry, stradling Draco, nuzzled into the bared neck, biting down hard and pressing his hips down at the same moment, eliciting a deep moan from the other vampire…

Harry woke up to someone gently shaking him. “Huh? What’s going on?” He mumbled, head spinning. He was on top of someone.

“You lost these,” Luna said, handing him and Draco the retainers. “Your robes, too, but I don’t know where those are.”

Harry rolled off of Draco, and they both sat up. “Shit.” That was the first time Harry had heard Draco swear like that. “What happened last night… I’m sore all over, and my neck is throbbing…”

“You might want to put those on, before the others wake too,” Luna, also robeless, insisted, pointing to the retainers, which the boys quickly shoved on. “And there’s a lot of blood on you both.”

Harry and Draco looked at each other. They both had huge marks on their necks, smaller ones spattering their chests… vaguely Harry recalled doing a lot of biting, but couldn’t remember how far they’d actually gone…

“Hey, Luna,” Draco asked, as Harry started licking the blood off of Harry’s neck and chest, Luna watching happily. Apparently that’s how it was going to be cleaned up. “Would you happen to know what we were doing last night?”

“Well, you were moaning and gasping an awful lot, I think, but so were Daphne and Adrian, so I’m not sure whose sounds were whose... I don’t think you did what they did, though… and we were pretty loud too of course…”

“You were loud?” Harry asked. Draco was now cleaning up his blood. “What were you three doing?”

“Well, Neville seems to be very ticklish, so Blaise and I were trying to find out exactly how much… oh, you two look much better, now.”

The two studied each other. The bite marks were healed to the point you couldn’t tell specifically that they vere vampire bites, appearing to just be deep bruises on the necks and lighter ones on their chests. They could use the cover-up to hide them later. They stood up, noticing that the rest of them, strewn all over various couches and chairs, had started to stir, as well. They were all in their undergarments, too.

“Good morning…” Neville muttered, with a large yawn. “Hey, where’s my robes?” he asked, bushing.

“It looks like none of us have them…” Daphne peered around. “I don’t see them anywhere, either… Hmm. I need to wear nicer undergarments; Luna’s way outclass mine.”

“Hey, Draco, Harry!” Blaise was grinning. “You two had fun last night, I see!” The two boys blushed. Of course that would be the first thing he noticed.

“Our wands are gone, too…” Everyone turned worriedly towards Adrian. “Just joking! Hey, don’t look at me like that!” They all glared.

Adrian transfigured a couch cushion into a simple poncho-like robe-- clothing was very difficult to transfigure-- and then hurried to his common room to retrieve the others’ robes. When he returned, he turned the robe back into a cushion, they put the robes on-- all donning Slytherin crests on the breasts, with the non-Slytherins’ way too long, having borrowed Adrian’s-- and they left for their common rooms.

“Harry! Neville!” Hermione called, as they entered the common room. “Where have you two been? Exams start tomorrow!”

“And why the hell are you in oversized Slytherin robes? Wait a second...” Ron sniffed. “You reek of alcohol, too! What the heck were you doing last night?!”

“Er, we, uh…” Harry stammered.

“W-we were just…” Neville trailed.

The two glanced at each other, then made a mad dash for the dorm.

 

*******

 

The first week of exams went exceedingly well, in Harry’s opinion. He and Draco were very confident of getting high marks, as they’d been able to study-- well, mostly study-- together for the entire night rather than sleeping, feeling none of the ill effects other students who had also done so did, and as a result were not confused by a single question on the written exams. Practical ones were a bit tougher though: in the charms exam, Harry mixed up color-change and growth charms, though luckily was able to somewhat correct it, ending up with a dog-sized purple rat; in the transfiguration exam, Draco’s Chinchilla that he had to vanish septupled in size, sprouted tentacles, and grew gigantic gruesome fangs, before hopefully vanishing rather than apparating away, as it had made a loud cracking sound; and Harry was bitten by a fanged geranium in herbology, though it healed quickly enough that he hoped the examiner hadn’t noticed.

As the defense exam finished, which Harry was confident he got an ‘O’ in beyond a doubt, a cool wind blew a strange fog into the castle. They all ran into the entrance hall to find out what was going on; the castle doors flew open, spilling rough rain falling from a sky black with clouds despite it having been sunny just an hour before. A flash of lightning revealed a huge silhouette; Harry’s heart stopped briefly as he recognized the huge tentacles and bat wings… a figure stepped into the castle, what appeared to be a tall Egyptian man wearing long-sleeved pharaoh robes, out of which Harry swore he saw a tentacle briefly swish.

“And just who are you?” Umbridge huffed, pushing through the crowd to stand before him.

“I am Nyarlathotep. I found myself passing through when the rain became unbearable… would you mind giving me shelter?” He calmly asked the angry woman.

“Why you--” Umbridge blinked. “Yes, you may. We have plenty of spare quarters, follow me.” Had Harry seen the pharaoh's eyes flash pure black for an instant?

Nyarlathotep stayed well past the end of the rain. He felt dark, that much was obvious to everyone, yet there was something that drew everyone to him anyway. He told them tales of distant lands and worlds, everyone listening staring rapt with attention. The only ones who did not seem affected by this were Harry, Draco, and Luna, though he seemed very amicable to them as well.

Once the weekend ended, Nyarlathotep retreated to the quarters Umbridge had granted him, only appearing for meals-- he was permitted to eat at the staff table. Harry had a disconcerting feeling that he was watching the vampires and Luna very closely. She had not complained of his presence, nor had any of the other adults in the castle.

The second week of exams started up, potions being the first one, which Harry was dreading. However, to his surprise, it seemed to pose no problem for him after all. Perhaps partnering with Draco had made more of a difference than Harry had expected. Care of magical creatures went very well too, until the end, when the chinchilla creation popped in and ate all the krups, but that wasn’t Harry’s problem. Wednesday brought both astronomy and divination, the former split between morning and night. The astronomy written exam went okay, though Harry couldn’t help but think he had listed some moons on there that humans had not yet discovered. Divination, however, went quite horribly-- Harry might have been doing well with the centaur’s teachings, but most of the exam was on the things they had learned with Trelawney. There was no fire-reading or meditative states, rather tea-leaf reading, crystal-ball gazing, astrology, and the like. Turned out, reading the cosmos and elements was not part of the general curriculum.

Nyarlathotep was there when they exited the exam hall, and summoned Harry and Draco over to him. “Be careful, tonight. My children have foretold that something unfortunate may unfold, which puts your guise in danger. You must remain calm, and only watch.”

Harry blinked. Yes, Nyarlathotep was definitely some cosmic entity, of that he was sure. “You know what we are?” he asked.

“Obviously,” Draco told him. “More importantly, what will happen, and what do we do about it?”

“I do not know what, only that something will. Nothing can be done to prevent the event, but you must try to remain calm during it, and not let your masquers slip. Do not run, merely watch…” He glided away.

Harry and Draco looked at each other, very concerned.

During the Astronomy exam, Harry discovered what the event was. He watched in horror from the parapet as Umbridge and a group of aurors stormed Hagrid’s cottage well past midnight. Hagrid and them were yelling loud enough that the castle lights began turning back on one by one, people observing the event unfolding. They all began fighting, shooting spells, Hagrid attacking with his fists and the stunning spells bounced off-- giant blood did that.

Harry wanted to leap down to go help, stop them taking Hagrid… he knew he could easily jump down via the little roofs of towers below and using window ledges to scale down… wait. He had been warned of this. Normal humans couldn’t do that, not on this castle; if he went to help, his secret would be outed. He had to watch, only watch. Harry clenched his teeth in anger. This was so unfair! If only being a creature wasn’t such a big deal!

McGonagall came running out to help; everyone gasped as she was hit by none other than four stunning spells simultaneously. Harry growled a bit in anger, causing some around him to look curiously around, thinking an animal was there with them. Hagrid knocked out the rest of the aurors and dashed out of the castle gates, Umbridge still trying to hex him.

Once the exam had ended, they all dashed to the common room to find everyone else awake and chattering about what had just occurred. Harry slipped away, hoping to find Draco, whom he discovered had been on his way to find him, too.

Draco ran to him, hugging him. “I’m so glad you’re okay! I know you were watching from outside; I was so scared you’d try to jump down and help, after Nyarlathotep’s warning…”

“I was a bit tempted,” Harry admitted. “But I remembered the warning, and managed to stay calm, stop myself from doing that… but it’s just so unfair, you know? I couldn’t do a damn thing to help despite being well able to! Just because humans are stupid and hate anything different than them!” Harry’s voice rose as he became visibly upset.

Draco began rubbing Harry’s back as he held him.”Shh… I know, it’s unfair… but, this is how it is, you need to stay calm…”

Harry closed his eyes, forcing himself calmer. “I know. I know that. I just wish it were different.”

“Maybe someday, it will be.” Draco told him.

“I hope so… I probably should return to the common room now though, before someone starts looking for me.” Harry smiled.

“You did well,” came a voice from behind the boys, who froze. They slowly turned, calming down when they realized it was only Nyarlathotep.

“Thank you,” Harry told him. “I was extremely tempted to jump down to help, but then I remembered your warning…”

Nyarlathotep smiled kindly, though it came off as very creepy at the same time. “I am glad. I have another warning, however…”

Draco gulped. “Another one?”

“Yes. The Old Gods of Earth that you also communicate with cannot always be trusted. You must be cautious as to what they ask.”

“I thought you and them got along, though?” Harry asked.

“They follow us at times, and we often have like goals, but we have been at odds at times too. They once sealed many of my kin away, some which still are. Most importantly, in relation to you, they are tied to humans first and foremost, of which you are not. They will sacrifice your needs in an instant if they feel it will benefit humans.”

“What about Luna, then?” Draco asked. “She said her mother is from a place called Carcosa. That’s in the Dreamlands, right? Which your kind rule? Yet the Old Gods seem to like her quite a lot.”

“Yes. This is uneasing to me. Luna is the great-great-granddaughter of one of my protectees, Karakal, whom is a goddess of the Dreamlands. Her mother, Pandora, became enamoured with a visitor to Carcosa; as you know, no man who goes there may return, yet she defied this and helped him back, in turn becoming barred herself from re-entering. That visitor was Xenophilius Lovegood-- Luna’s father.”

“So, if her mother was banned,” Harry began, “does that mean Karakal disliked her or something?”

“Not at all. That is merely one of the rules of Carcosa; Karakal does not control such. Karakal loved Pandora very much, and hated to see her leave the Dreamlands. Karakal wishes to meet Luna someday, you know. However, she can only watch from Kadath as Luna traverses the Dreamlands; Luna must find Karakal herself.”

“Have you told her this?” Draco asked.

“No. I have told her about her heritage, but not that she needs to find Karakal on her own. I implore you not to tell her that either; I am afraid she may become obsessed, when this is something that should not be forced.”

“I understand,” Harry told him. Draco nodded in agreement.

“Now, I must leave,” Nyarlathotep told them. “Please, be cautious, young ones.”

“Will we see you again?” Draco asked.

“I expect we will meet again, though I am unsure how long it will be until then,” Nyarlathotep told them. “You will live for aeons, if all goes well, so it is inevitable. In addition, my father has taken quite a liking to you, it seems-- he does not speak to simply anyone, after all.” Nyarlathotep walked away, vanishing into the darkness.

Chapter Text

The next day hailed their final OWL exam, history of magic, yet that was not until the afternoon. Harry, Ron, and Hermione decided to go visit Grawp that morning. As they entered the forest, however, they were joined by Draco and Luna…

“You two, you’re not involved in this, get out of here,” Ron told them.

“I’m not leaving Harry,” Draco said finitely.

“I want to meet the giant too,” Luna said hopefully.

Hermione stared at them. “Wait, you know about… Harry!” She turned towards him, scowling. “Who else did you tell? This was supposed to be a secret!”

“Hey, I don’t know how Luna knows, okay? And Draco and I met Grawp weeks before you did, actually, accidentally, so that’s how he knows.”

“Accidentally?” Ron looked at him questioningly. “How the hell did you meet him accidentally? You’d have to be really deep in the forest for that!”

“Well, I assume they were here h--” Luna fell quiet as Harry slammed his hand over her mouth.

“Having a stroll!” Harry smiled. “It’s quite a nice place here, isn’t it?”

“You and Draco were taking a stroll through the forest?” Hermione raised her eyebrow. “That deep in?”

“Well, yeah; it was after the Hogsmeade visit, and we needed to clear our heads a bit and stuff.” Harry could tell they were not buying that…

Harry froze. He heard hooves.

“Harry? What is it?” asked Hermione, concerned.

“We need to get out of here,” he replied. The centaurs had generally been been amicable towards Harry and Draco-- they had seen them a few other times while hunting-- but they hated humans, and now there were three humans with them... well, two humans, and one mostly-human with a speck of god in her.

“Why?” Ron asked.

“Ah, nevermind, too late,” Draco sighed.

The herd of centaurs stopped in front of the group. “Why have you brought humans here?” Magorian asked them indignantly. “Turn back at once.”

“But I want to see the giant,” Luna said sadly.

“Wait, Magorian,” said a centaur whose name Harry didn’t know. “That girl… she appears to be the descendent of a Great One.”

“So it seems. Which Great One is your ancestor?” Magorian demanded of Luna.

“Great One?” Luna asked. “Do you mean Karakal?”

“Yes, she would be a Great One.”

“Then yes! She’s my great-great-grandmother.”

“Very well. You may do as you will. However, please be cautious to not disrupt the forest any more than it already has been.” The herd galloped off.

Everyone stared at Luna as she wandered off; finally, she turned, realizing they weren’t following. “Well? We are seeing the giant, are we not?” she asked.

The five of them walked in silence the rest of the way, with Ron appearing to watch Draco closely, always suspicious. Draco rolled his eyes upon noticing, and Ron shot him a glare. Harry sighed upon seeing that display; this was getting a bit ridiculous. Couldn’t Ron just give Draco a chance?

“HERMY! RAH!” Grawp bellowed, seeing them reach the clearing. Even more trees were down than before.

“He remembered our names!” Hermione looked pleased.

Grawp then noticed Draco and Harry, a strange thoughtful look on his face. He turned, walked a few step away, grabbed something in the tree, and walked back. “HAVE GIFT.” He appeared to have caught a hawk, which he handed to Harry.

Harry paled. The giant remembered that? “Er, thanks, Grawp,” he tepidly thanked, taking the crushed bird, careful not to get blood on him. Harry looked at the others, who looked as baffled as he did.

Well, actually, Luna did not seem baffled. “Oh, that is a nice gift for you isn’t it?” she said happily.

“Uh. Yeah, sure, Luna.”

“WHERE HAGGER?” Grawp roared, suddenly realizing his half-brother was not there.

“Ahh, well, he couldn’t make it,” Hermione told him, sadly. “He’ll be back soon though, promise!”

The giant thought for a moment. “SOON?”

“Soon.”

Grawp seemed content with that. They chatted with Grawp for a while longer before leaving. His English seemed better than expected; perhaps he was a tad smarter than they had given him credit for.

“Er, Harry, why are you still carrying that thing,” Ron asked him, halfway back to the castle.

“Well, it was a gift, wasn’t it?” Luna replied for him.

Harry dropped the hawk, which, to his horror, he had been thinking of drinking, forgetting they were there. “Er. Forgot I was holding it.”

Draco laughed. “Didn’t that happen last time?”

Harry blushed. “Yeah, I guess it did.”

“He gave you one last time too?” Ron looked horrified.

“...something like that.”

 

*******

 

The History of Magic exam went fairly well that afternoon, though near the end, as Harry was beginning to daydream-- about that hawk of all things-- his scar began burning somewhat fierce. Was it another vision? Harry concentrated on his occlumency skills; to his delight, the scar actually started to hurt less! However, that didn’t last long, for the pain soon doubled, as he was leaving the exam.

“Harry! What’s wrong?” Draco, who had been waiting for him, asked as he helped steady Harry.

“A vision, I think… I’m trying to fight it, but it’s tough…” He began seeing flashes of something. “I think… he discovered… the connection… flashes are getting through… it looks like… ugh… I think… I think he has Sirius… department of mysteries…” The pain subsided somewhat.

“What happened?” Ron, Hermione, and Neville, who had just left the exam, ran up to them.

“Another vision,” Draco told them, “Though he was able to fight it a bit. He said the Dark Lord seemed to know of the connection; it seemed he saw Sirius in the department of mysteries with him… but, it may not be true, if the connection has been discovered. We need to check.”

“But, how?” Ron asked. “There’s no way to contact him!”

“McGonagall!” Neville proclaimed. “She’ll know.”

“No... she was taken... to St. Mungo’s… this morning…” Harry managed to get out, despite still seeming weak from the vision. “We can use… the mirror…”

“Oh, right!” Draco proclaimed. “I think we left it in the lounge; let’s go!”

“Mirror?” Hermione asked.

“Yeah,” Harry seemed to be feeling a little better as they hurried to the secret room. “Sirius gave it to me. He has a matching one; they can be used to talk to each other.”

The group reached the blank wall, and Harry said the password-- still “Space Colours,” upon which hearing Ron rolled his eyes. Hermione marvelled at the fact that they’d managed to create a hidden door like that.

“Well, let’s get to it, then,” Harry said, grabbing a bottle of firewhiskey and taking a swig before grabbing the mirror. He passed it to Neville, who did the same, and then handed it to Ron.

“Seriously?” Hermione marvelled, as she snatched the bottle away before he could take a sip too. “Where did you even get this? It is completely against the rules, and the law, in fact, being underage!”

“Is this really the time?” Draco asked, annoyed.

“Sirius.” Harry said into the mirror, then waited a minute. “Sirius!” Did Voldemort actually have him? Then he recalled someone else was there too. “Lupin!” Lupin actually did answer.

“Harry!” Lupin proclaimed. “What’s wrong?”

“Is Sirius there? This is urgent! I had another vision, saw him with Voldemort…”

Lupin paled. “He’s here, Harry, just in the shower… Merlin. You know what this means, right?”

“Yeah. He knows about the connection,” Harry told him grimly. “Wha… ugh…” Harry suddenly felt dizzy, closing his eyes. Voices were in his head.

“Harry!” Draco called. “What’s wrong? Is he trying to show you something, again?”

“No… not him… it’s…” Harry opened his eyes as the dizziness faded, his head becoming fully clear. “The Old Gods. They’re saying we must go anyway. Something we must find...”

“Yes,” Luna replied. “We must go.” When did she get here?”

“Are you sure?” Draco asked. “You remember Nyarlathotep’s warning, right?”

“Harry?” Lupin called. “What’s going on? You’re not planning anything stupid, are you?”

“Sorry, gotta go,” Harry told him, ending the call.

“Harry, what is going on?” Hermione asked, horrified. “You’re talking nonsense again; you can’t actually be planning on going!”

“If the Old Gods say we must, then we must,” Neville told her grimly.

“We’re going,” Harry told her, in a non-negotiable tone, dash !ing out the door with Draco, Luna, and Neville, leaving the other two behind.

“How will we get there, though?” Harry wondered, as they exited the castle.

“Perhaps something in the forest will help us,” Luna mused.

“The-the forest?” Neville stammered. “Why would we go in there?”

“There’s a lot of friendly creatures as well as not as nice ones, of course,” Luna told him. “One might help us.”

They wandered the forest for a bit.

“Harry!” Someone called, after a while. It appeared as if Daphne, Adrian, and Blaise had followed him out. The Old Gods had contacted them too, they explained. They wandered a bit more.

A huge roar was heard nearby-- Grawp. But this wasn’t his part of the forest; did he escape his ropes? Lots of hooves sounded-- centaurs-- then, the crackling of sticks; human footsteps. Harry smelled blood, and three people came stumbling out of the brush towards them.

“There you are!” Hermione panted. Ginny and Ron were there, too.

“Are you here to stop us?” Draco asked, as the group took fighting stances.

“No, no…” Ginny said, still catching her breath. Her blood smelled good… Harry shook his head, disgusted at what he had just thought. “We want to help. We’re glad we found you… Umbridge’s Inquisitorial Squad caught us, but luckily Hermione’s quick thinking saved us…”

The three explained how they had escaped: Hermione had convinced Umbridge that there was a weapon in the forest, which they would lead her to, ensuring it was only Umbridge by convincing her the Squad might use the weapon against her too. The centaurs had found them, whom Umbridge severely insulted, leading them to carry her off. They’d debated taking them too, but then Grawp ran in, scattering the herd. He had pointed towards where the others were, before chasing the centaurs. Harry hoped he ate Umbridge; if he didn’t, Harry was debating doing so himself.

Harry was reluctant to allow three more to join them, but eventually realized they were not taking no for an answer. Now was the issue of how they were getting there…

“That is how we will get there,” Luna said, pointing towards something on the edge of the clearing they were in.

“I don’t see anything,” Ron squinted.

“Of course!” Draco proclaimed.

Harry was over there petting something.

“Is that those weird horse things?” Blaise asked.

“Yeah,” Neville told him. “Hagrid said they can travel where needed or something, right?”

“Yes,” Luna confirmed. “They can take us there.”

“We’re supposed to travel on invisible flying horses?” Daphne asked incredulously.

More and more came, attempting to lick the blood off Ginny, Hermione, and Ron-- of course, that’s what they’d been attracted too. Thestrals could smell it, just as Harry could. They knew enough though that they weren’t food to eat, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t enjoy the blood.

‘Blood is a beautiful thing,’ one of the thestrals mused, looking at Harry. Harry blinked. He could understand her? She wasn’t speaking English though; it was more like images in his mind. ‘You are like us,’ she told him, answering Harry’s question. ‘Caught in-between, one with life yet also with death.’

‘Do you and your mate not want to partake in this delicious snack with us?’ another asked. Harry looked at him, letting the thestral know that his other friends did not, nor must not, know.

‘Sad,’ the first thestral lamented. ‘Humans simply do not understand us…’

“Yes…” Luna mused sadly, “Humans do not understand much…” Had Luna heard them too? She did visit them a lot, she had told him once.

The thestrals agreed to take all ten of them to the Ministry of Magic. Those that could see them helped those that could not to mount the horse-like creatures, and they took off. Harry wondered how those that couldn’t see the thestrals felt, flying high above the ground with no visible means of doing so.

“Thank you,” Harry told the thestrals, as they landed in front of the phone booth that led to the Ministry.

‘It is our pleasure, to serve someone such as yourself.’ the thestral told him. ‘Please be careful; it would be our honor if you would visit us again, young vampire.’

The group squeezed into the phone booth; luckily, it was larger on the inside. Harry vaguely recalled seeing a muggle television program with something similar, once when at Mrs. Figg’s.

“So, how does this work?” Draco asked.

“Dial 62442,” Harry told him.

A voice welcomed them, and requested that they state their business at the Ministry of Magic.

Harry blinked. What should he say? Well, might as well say the truth. He stated their names, then told the voice, “We are here at the request of the Old Gods to find something unspecified.”

Badges appeared, with their names and “Treasure Hunt” written on them. The box instructed that wizards take their wands to the security desk for registration, and any that are non-humans to report to a separate desk.

“I wonder what that was about,” Ron mused, as the box descended. “They didn’t say anything about non-humans last time.”

“Maybe they mean Luna,” Hermione reasoned. “The centaurs said something about her being a descendant of something, right?”

“Yeah, that must be it,” Harry added quickly, heart beating quickly. More likely, non-humans meant him and Draco… Harry began to have a bad feeling about this.

Chapter Text

The Ministry of Magic atrium was completely empty, and the lights were dim; it was after-hours, after all. Though shouldn’t there still be someone at the security desk, regardless? Harry’s unease grew. Well, they knew this was a trap; it was highly likely Voldemort wouldn’t even be there, rather merely have a horde of Death Eaters waiting. They weren’t here to fight him, though, but to retrieve the prophecy, or so Harry assumed, although the Old Gods had not said anything about that specifically being the thing to retrieve.

The journey to the elevator and down to the Department of Mysteries was likewise quiet. In front of them was a plain black door, no indication as to what it was. It swung open automatically; Harry was pretty sure that was not supposed to happen, but they entered anyway-- all of them, as Harry’s suggestion that some stay to keep lookout had been shot down.

Everything in the circular room was completely black-- walls, doors, ceiling, floor, everything. Luna began humming “Paint it Black” by the Rolling Stones. Harry groaned. Now he was feeling even more apprehensive about it all.

Someone closed the door, causing the room to spin. After some debate on whether to split up or not, they decided to try each room in turn instead, since staying together would be safer.

The first room caused Harry and Draco to double-over upon entering; it contained a tank filled with what appeared to be brains, which absolutely reeked. The two dashed back to the black room, the others following. Before it began to spin again, clever Hermione marked the door with a firey X.

The next room looked to be a courtroom, except in the center there stood an old, cracked archway covered by a veil… it felt enchanting to Harry, as though there was something behind it. Suddenly, Adrian, Daphne, Neville, and Blaise shouted in fear and dashed out immediately. Harry jumped out of his stupor and realized why-- the feeling was very similar to the temple they had seen during the ritual. Harry, Draco, and Luna quickly grabbed Ginny, Hermione, and Ron, pulling them back to the black room.

“What was that about?” Ginny asked.

Harry’s heart was beating quickly. “The ritual. It was like the ritual.” What the heck were they studying there?

The third door didn’t open. They tried both alohomora and Sirius’s knife that could supposedly open anything… which melted at the attempt. Harry violently twisted the doorknob in a last-ditched effort, which tore it off. “Well, guess it’s not there,” he said, and they tried the next door.

Clocks. So many clocks… Harry noticed a shelf of time-turners, and a large hourglass contained a hummingbird that changed from an egg to adult and back again as it drifted through it. Time. They must be studying time here. Harry had a feeling the unspeakables working here would love to visit the Dreamlands, where time flowed strangely. But, this was not the right place, either…

In the next room, Harry and Draco froze. It was extremely large, the walls lined with cages full of a few dozen creatures, some magical, some strange mixes of multiple creatures-- artificial chimaeras. There vere various tables, odd machines, and tools around, no doubt meant to aide in the sick experiments. They released them all; Luna talked to them, and it was agreed that she, Adrian, and Daphne would lead the creatures out into freedom. They also blew up all the odd machines.

The next door led back to the entrance, perfect for the three leading the creatures out. Hermione marked that door with a O instead of the X.

Next, they entered a room full of what appeared to be miniature versions of planets, with stars adorning the walls. Harry gaped at it; it reminded him a bit like being on nyx… but this wasn’t the right room either; they would know when it was, Harry was certain. He wondered if maybe they should start trying the doors opposite the rooms rather than returning to the entrance, but they still had two doors there to go.

The second-to-last door contained… yes! This was what they were here for. All the tiny room contained was a pedestal with what appeared to be a small glowing stone on top. Draco attempted to pick it up, then retreated with a hiss, holding his hand. “I’m not sure about this, Harry,” he told him. “Something feels off… you sure we can trust the Old Gods? Not to mention we can’t even pick it up.”

“Yeah, you’re right… maybe there’s some stock in what Nyarlathotep had said about not trusting them…”

“Let’s just take it anyway,” Neville suggested, picking it up with ease. “We should leave, before we’re found; something tells me we’re not alone in this place.”

“Right,” Harry agreed, as Neville handed him the stone. “I’m sure there’s Death Eaters somewhere… ouch!” The stone had shocked him, as it had with Draco. Neville placed it in his own pocket, shrugging.

Unfortunately, when the group entered the black room, all of the marks had faded.

Blaise sighed. “Random doors again?”

The next one they tried happened to be the final one, a room filled with towering shelves covered with nothing but rows and rows of little glass orbs. They turned to go back through the door, only to discover it was locked… The group began to wander around, trying to find another exit.

At the end of row 97, Harry and Draco froze. There were others nearby, he could hear their heartbeats. Blaise, Ron, Hermione, and Neville stopped too.

“Hey, Harry, look at this.” Ron pointed to a little orb.

“Oooh, it has your name on it!” Blaise proclaimed. “Along with the Dark Lord’s.”

“These must be the prophecy things,” Draco whispered.

“Harry, this is why he wanted to lure you here, I bet!” Hermione proclaimed. “If the others couldn’t get it, maybe that means only the one who it's about can…”

“What do we do, then?” Harry asked. “Take it with us? If we leave it, we risk him getting it a different way…”

“Smash it?” Neville suggested. “No, wait… I think the Old Gods are saying to take it; do you hear them?”

Harry and Draco turned to Neville. “No.” They said together, forcefully, turning towards Neville, causing him to step back in surprise-- knocking over a portion of the orbs on the shelf. Harry reacted automatically, grabbing the orb with his name before it could hit the ground.

“Well, that was a close one,” a cold voice drawled from behind them. “Now, hand it here…” Everyone turned to face the voice.

“Father…” Draco whispered.

“Draco.” Lucius Malfoy’s voice was frigid. “I suppose it is true then, the rumors I hear; you have indeed defected fully, and befriended Potter… no matter. We will bring you to the Dark Lord; he shall set you back in order. You will not escape again.” Dark shapes began to emerge around them; there were at least a dozen death eaters...

“I will never side with him,” Draco hissed. “No matter how much I am tortured. Which you will not be getting around to doing anyway.”

“Oooh, you plan to fight?” A dark-haired with mocked. “How adorable.”

“We don’t need to, do we?” Harry told her calmly. “You want this, right? Fighting will smash it. If you attack any of them, I’ll jump in front, which will destroy it.”

Another Death Eater laughed. “You’re not fast enough to block us all.”

“This is stupid,” Blaise muttered. “Bombarda!” The orbs on the shelves began raining down onto the Death Eaters, and the group made a mad dash for the door. Harry prayed it would be open again…

The door was locked still. The group ran the other direction; they could see a door over that way. They shot spells behind them; Harry thought he heard one or two people fall. “Stupefy!” One yelled, but the spell bounced off Harry, and he heard Malfoy yelling at that one about protecting the prophecy. They reached the door in the distance, running through it; Hermione sealed it, but some of the Death Eaters got through before that.

The septet attempted to all get through the door on one side of the room, but only some made it through before the Death Eaters slammed it shut… Hermione, Neville, and Harry were left fighting the Death Eaters in the room, curses flinging left and right.

“Avada…”

“Stupefy!” Harry shouted, stunning the Death Eater before he could utter the killing curse at Neville. The man fell through the hummingbird jar, emerging with the head of a baby.

The three dashed through a door into what appeared to be an office, filled with books.

Hermione attempted to seal the door, but the other two Death Eaters burst in before then.

“Aaah!” Hermione screamed, as a curse of purple fire hit her, flinging her into a bookshelf, books tumbling on top of her.

“Hermione!” Harry shouted, as he and Neville quickly stunned the two.

Neville ran over to her.

“Don’t worry, she’s alive, I hear her pulse! Let’s go,” Harry called, to a confused Neville, as he dashed away, looking for the others. Neville grabbed Hermione, carrying her as they entered the black room. Ginny, Draco, Blaise, and Ron ran in at the same time from a different room.

“Harry!” Draco called, dashing over and pulling him into a hug.

“Not the time for that, Draco! Are you okay? How are the others?” He looked towards them, Ginny sitting against a wall breathing heavily, and Ron muttering actual nonsense while Blaise tried to help.

“Yes, Blaise and I are fine, but Ginny seems to have a broken ankle, and Ron was hit by some sort of befuddlement charm… What happened to her?” He gestured at Hermione.

“Not sure, some strange purple spell, but she’s breathing all right…”

Suddenly, more Death Eaters burst through the door opposite-- the group quickly dashed into another room, as fast as they could carry three injured people, sealing the door. They were in the brain room… Draco and Harry nearly collapsed from the smell.

“Harry! Draco! What’s wrong?!” Neville yelled, as he and Blaise began rapidly sealing the doors around the room.

They stood up. “Nothing, we’re fine,” Harry told him.

“Aaaah!” Called Blaise, flying across the room; Death Eaters had gotten into through an unsealed door. He slammed into the wall, motionless, yet still alive, Harry could tell.

Ron, in his stupor, decided it would be a brilliant idea to summon a brain. This worked well-- if by well you mean it attacked him as he tried to grab it, wrapping its tendrils around him. Ginny began desperately trying to get the strands off.

More Death Eaters poured in, and it was only Harry, Draco, and Neville fighting now…

“I’ll distract them, you get to safety!” Harry called, dashing out of the room, most of the Death Eaters following him instead…

He was in the room with the archway. Ten Death Eaters surrounded him…

“You are surrounded,” Lucius Malfoy told him. “Now, give me the prophecy…”

“Never.”

“Do you really want to play this game? It’s ten to one. You have no chance.”

“Ten to two,” a voice whispered behind Malfoy, a wand point-blank at his temple.

“Draco. And just how do you plan to fight us, then? You would need to use more than just spells to fight this many, wouldn’t you? Do you really want Potter finding out what you are?” He smirked, thinking he had won.

“Oh, he already knows,” Draco informed him. “Stupefy!” Lucius Malfoy went flying to the side, hitting the wall with a loud thud.

“You dare attack your own father?” A high-pitched voice called-- that was Bellatrix Lestrange, Harry remembered from the poster. “Get him!” Harry’s heart jumped as nine different spells struck Draco, of varying colors…

Draco doubled over, a brief grimace of pain, then shakily stood up, still holding his stomach. He raised an eyebrow at Bellatrix. “Really? Don’t you know what I am? It takes more than that,” he mocked, as Bellatrix’s face distorted into one of rage.

Suddenly, doors burst open above them, and in ran Sirius, Lupin, Kingsley, Mad-eye, and Tonks. Spells flung everywhere as the fighting broke out. Kingsley was the first in the Order to fall, but he took a few Death Eaters with him.

Harry hit one square in the chest with another stunning spell, but suddenly was grabbed from behind, a tight arm around his neck as his wand fell. “Give us the prophecy,” a gruff voice told him. Harry hissed as he struggled. Screw fighting like a human; he bit down, hard, although the retainer was still on. The man screamed and let go; seconds later, the man was hit by a spell flung by Neville.

Bellatrix had knocked Tonks out, and was now running for Harry. Sirius jumped in front. “Harry, Neville, go find the others and run! Let us finish up!” He began dueling Bellatrix.

A stunning spell hit Harry; it bounced off, but succeeding in causing him to stumble, dropping the prophecy. Well, they had said a solution was to smash it.

“Harry!” Draco had joined them. “Come on, let’s go, you heard what he said…”

“Dumbledore…” Neville whispered. “Dumbledore’s here!” he shouted.

Dumbledore, face white and furious, swept into the room. Death Eaters began to flee while he shot spells at them, attempting to round them up...

Everyone had stopped deuling except for Sirius and Bellatrix, who were mocking each other as they battled-- as a result, both seemed to be becoming reckless with their shots… Sirius dodged a red one, beginning to laugh, not seeing the second one heading straight towards him…

Harry dashed forwards without thinking, attaining an inhuman speed as he shoved Sirius away before the spell could hit-- causing the spell to barrel straight into Harry instead, flinging him backwards-- straight into the veil.

Harry floated in a strange space. It reminded him a little of the Dreamlands, with his sense of time completely gone… he was completely surrounded by the strange space colours, which did not exist in the human world… his feet hit ground; now he was in a desert, the sky pure black.

“YOUR KIND DOES NOT BELONG HERE.” A strange power washed over Harry, removing his contacts and retainer. “WHY HAVE YOU COME TO K’GIL’MNON, HIDING YOUR FACE? IS THIS A TRICK? I ASKED FOR HUMANS!” Four humongous red eyes appeared in the darkness, followed by a house-sized larvae-like mass covered in tentacles. Smaller mantis-like creatures surrounded it, with large pincers at the end of more tentacles, though only smaller compared to the beast-- they were still nearly twice the height of Harry.

“Who are you?” Asked Harry. Somehow, he felt calm.

“YOU DEIGN TO SPEAK TO ME, KAALUT, AS AN EQUAL?” the beast boomed. “YOU ARE BUT A GNAT IN MY FACE. I WOULD EAT YOU RIGHT HERE IF YOU HAD NOT MY LORD’S PROTECTION. PERHAPS I WILL REGARDLESS, AS THEY HAVE NOT GIVEN ME THE HUMANS THEY HAD PROMISED IN SO LONG...”

“Your Lord?” Something clicked in Harry’s mind, remembering the ritual; this area felt similar. “You’re an Old One, are you not? Under Azathoth’s rule.”

“I AM. WHAT OF IT?”

“I have spoken to him many times. He would surely be angry if you ate me.”

“HE IS AN IDIOT, PROTECTING THE LIKES OF YOU. YOUR KIND ARE NO DIFFERENT THAN THE HUMANS I DEVOUR.”

“I don’t think he would like that very much, calling him an idiot. Is that why you’re trapped here? Did you offend him?”

“NO. I WAS TRAPPED HERE BY THOSE THAT OPPOSE US.”

“Then why doesn’t he save you? He certainly is strong enough to break such a weak seal. Perhaps he is as disgusted with you as you are with the creatures he protects.”

“THE SEALS HAVE ALREADY BEEN BROKEN. I HAVE STAYED BECAUSE THERE HAS BEEN NO REASON TO LEAVE. I AM WELL-FED.”

“Well-fed? Wait… they used to put criminals in here to feed you?” he realized.

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY USED TO? IS THIS WHY I HAVE NOT BEEN SENT ANY HUMANS IN SO LONG? HAVE THEY FORSAKEN ME?” Kaalut flailed around in outrage.

Harry’s eyes widened, realizing his mistake. “Well, er, I don’t know exactly, I’m not really familiar with those things, maybe they will feed you soon…” he meekly tried to console the beast.

“LIES. THEY SHALL PAY FOR THIS. BEGONE, WRETCHED CREATURE.”

Suddenly, Harry was flying backwards, through the space-colours, towards a small pinprick of light…

 

*******

 

“Harry!!” Draco wailed, as he saw his boyfriend fly into the veil. He tried to run towards him, into it too… he was being held back by someone... no, two people, Lupin and Neville. “Let me go! I need to save Harry!”

“It’s too late,” Lupin whispered. “That’s the door to the underworld... It was used for executions before the dementors. No one ever returns from there…”

“I don’t care! I’m going anyway! No, no, this can’t be happening! Please!”

Bellatrix was laughing gleefully. Draco wanted to tear her limb from limb.

The veil glowed a strange colour. A figure flew out of it, slamming into Bellatrix; her head cracked loudly against the wall, and she fell still.

Draco broke away, running to Harry, in tears. “Harry! You’re alive! They told me… they told me you were gone, that no one returns from there… that it’s the underworld…” Lupin, Sirius, and Neville joined them.

“That isn’t… the underworld…” Harry panted.

“Then what is it?” Lupin asked, confused.

“K’gil’mnon… Kaalut’s lair… she’s mad that she hasn’t been sent a human sacrifice in so long; that was the deal for her remaining in there… ”

“What do you mean?” Sirius asked.

Harry pointed shakily to the veil. Tentacles were spilling out, as something way too large to fit through the door began to squeeze through… People began to shoot spells at it, to no avail...

“Is that… an Old One?” Draco whispered, in awe.

Kaalut was partway through the veil, reaching around, grabbing whomever was nearby… those conscious could scatter, but the ones unconscious could not… bones crunched as a few Death Eaters were tossed into her round, gaping, saw-like maw, lined with five rows of razor teeth... blood splurted out like a fountain… shredded pieces of them fell to the ground below her… Draco gasped as Lucius Malfoy was pulled in too… She had Tonks in one of her tentacles…

Harry dashed forwards, latching onto the tentacle. Kaalut flailed, trying to shake him off; Harry knew that she wouldn’t eat him, that she would get in trouble... He bit down harder; the ooze she was filled with was disgusting... Harry felt like he was going to pass out, but he had to hold on, get her to release Tonks… Harry drove his teeth in further…

“YOU MENACE,” the Old One roared. “FINE. SO BE IT. I WILL ENDURE HIS WRATH IF IT MEANS GETTING RID OF A FLY LIKE YOU.” Kaalut dangled Harry above her mouth...

“NO!!” Draco and Neville simultaneously shouted, the former dashing towards the beast, fangs bared, the latter throwing the glowing stone he had picked up earlier at the Old One, right into her mouth.

The Old One bellowed, flailing her tentacles, Harry flying off. Draco caught him as Kaalut glowed, rapidly receding back through the archway, her tentacle still wrapped around Tonks.

Once she was through, the archway exploded, shards of stone flying everywhere, peppering everyone in the room with small cuts.

Harry coughed as Draco held him, sitting on the floor. He spit out a weird mucus-green ooze mixed with red. “I don’t feel so well,” he muttered, before retching, vomiting more ooze. “Tonks,” he croaked,through violent stomach spasms. “What... happened to… Tonks?” He retched again, nearly all blood coming out this time.

Draco was silent as he gazed around the room; it looked like the only ones left fully conscious were Neville, Mad-eye, Lupin, Sirius, and Dumbledore, with a few Death Eaters in a daze…

Dumbledore spoke up. “Sirius, Remus, Alastor, please clean up in here and attend to the children and Kingsley. I will go check on the others.” He left out a side door.

“Aaaah!” Harry yelled, clutching his scar, as an intense pain shot through him.

“Harry! What’s wrong?” Draco asked.

“It’s… he’s here… he’s in the Ministry…”

Bellatrix was awake now. “My Lord…” she whispered, staring at the top of the stairs, a look of both fear and awe on her face.

“What is going on here?” a high, frigid voice asked, from above. “Bella, where is the prophecy?” Voldemort himself was standing in the entranceway to the stone courtroom.

“I- well- I- I’m not sure...”

“You are not sure?” Voldemort gazed around the room, at the unconscious Death Eaters, Order member who were staring at him, the mess of broken-off limbs, blood, stone, and bone fragments where the archway had stood… his eyes narrowed as they rested on Harry and Draco.

“Yes, My Lord… I was knocked unconscious, and only just awoke… There was an archway here, Potter fell through, but then he flew out, into me… when I awoke, this was the scene...”

“I saw what happened,” a Death Eater in the corner said. “It knocked me out briefly, but I saw much of it.”

“Show me,” Voldemort, now in front of him, ordered, looking into the man’s eyes. “...I see. That is unfortunate. Now, where is the prophecy?”

“I smashed it,” Harry told him, standing shakily. “It’s gone.”

Voldemort’s cold red eyes stared at him. “I see, you are truthful... and I also see you are no longer human. Well, no matter. You will be a thorn in my side no longer.” He raised his wand. “Avada kedavra.”

The spell bounced off, and Harry raised an eyebrow. “Seriously? You do realize it takes more than that to kill a vampire?” He really hoped Dumbledore would return soon, for he still felt extremely queasy.

Voldemort snarled. “You dare mock me?”

“Arrogance has always been a fault of yours, Tom,” Dumbledore told Voldemort, descending the stairs. “The aurors are here now; you have lost.”

Voldemort glared at Dumbledore, who had reached Harry and Draco by then; he turned and flew towards Bellatrix as people spilled into the room, grabbing her and disapparating.

Harry weakly clutched Draco. “I still don’t feel so well,” he muttered, before the world went black.

Chapter Text

“Uagh… What’s going on…” Harry was being shaken lightly by someone. He opened his eyes, blinking in the bright light.

“Harry. Hey, how are you doing?” Someone asked. He was lying on their lap, on the floor, while they wove their hands through his hair.

“Draco?” His eyes finally adjusted to the light. “Where am I? What happened?”

“We’re in Dumbledore’s office. He said he’d return in a little bit, just has to clear things up with the Minister.”

“You’re wrist…” Harry muttered, noticing Draco was bleeding slightly from it.

“Yes, I gave you a little of my blood, since you lost so much while vomiting that goo-- probably why you passed out. How’s your stomach feel?”

“Still a bit queasy, but not as bad as before…” Harry began to recall the events that had transpired just a short while before. “What happened when I passed out? Did people see us, see what we are?”

“Just Dumbledore and me, I think,” a voice sounded from the corner. Harry jumped a little, then realized it was just Neville. “Well, and Sirius, Lupin, and Mad-Eye, but they seemed to already know. Dumbledore did some sort of glamour spell on you as the others ran in, before sending us here with a portkey… oh, and You-Know-Who knows too, though I’m not sure if the Death Eaters saw…”

Harry groaned. “Whether or not they saw, I’m sure he’ll tell them… hopefully they won’t let those outside their group know…”

“Actually, he might not,” Draco mused. “He didn’t tell them about me, and swore those who saw to secrecy, as I was a ‘failed experiment.’ By extension, that ultimately caused you to be turned as well, making you objectively more powerful-- revealing what you are would lead others to investigate, potentially discovering that he inadvertently caused this, which would bruise his huge ego.”

Suddenly, Harry’s heart dropped as he remembered something… “What happened to Tonks?”

Draco and Neville were quiet, glancing away.

Harry began to shake. “She- she didn’t make it, did she?” He looked at Draco, tears forming in his eyes.

“No,” Draco whispered.

“And your father, too… Draco, I’m so sorry…”

Draco shrugged that off. “My father was already dead to me. Besides, it wasn’t your fault, Harry. You couldn’t control what--”

“Yes, it was!” Harry insisted. “I pissed Kaalut off! If it weren’t for me, she would have stayed in that damn place!”

Draco and Neville started as bright green flames erupted from the fireplace-- Harry didn’t seem to notice. Dumbledore entered the room, eyes locking onto the quietly sobbing Harry in Draco’s arms.

“Harry,” he said softly. “How are you feeling?” Harry’s sobbing only grew louder.

“He blames himself for what happened,” Neville told Dumbledore bluntly.

“I see… Harry, it isn’t your fault. You couldn’t have prevented such an unexpected event.”

“But it is! It is my fault! So many died, including Tonks, and most my friends are all injured, all because I’m a bloody idiot and failed to heed that stupid warning! I knew it felt wrong the instant we entered, I knew it, yet still went in!”

“Harry, we all agreed to follow their wishes,” Neville pointed out. “We all went looking for it.”

Harry was becoming angry now. “Yeah, but I’m the one who caused that monster to appear! If I weren’t such a bloody idiot… I should have been the one to die!”

“Harry,” Dumbledore said calmly. “Please, try to calm down. I do know how you are feeling, and…”

“You don’t know jack about what I’m feeling!” Harry raged.

“Look,” Dumbledore remained calm. “Harry, this pain you are feeling, it’s natural. It only means you are human…”

Harry glared at Dumbledore. “Human? If you haven’t noticed, I’m not exactly human anymore!” he snarled fiercely, trying to jump up, only for Draco to pull him back down.

“Harry,” Draco called, in a soothing voice. “Please, calm down. Can you do that?” He pulled Harry, whose fangs were still bared, into a tight hug. “For me?”

Harry closed his eyes; Draco had gotten through to him. “I am calm,” he muttered through clenched teeth.

“Really? Come on, you’ll be okay, promise,” Draco rubbed small circles on Harry’s back, which seemed to calm him further. “Good, very good. Feeling better?”

Harry nodded, tears still trickling down his cheeks.

Dumbledore walked to his desk and sat down. He waved his wand and the two hardbacked chairs in front of his desk turned into three soft armchairs, which he gestured to. “Harry, Draco, come sit off the floor. Neville, take a seat too.”

Draco helped Harry up, who was clutching his stomach again, and they sat together in one of the cushy chairs, Harry on Draco’s lap with Draco’s arms laced around his waist. Neville sat on the chair next to them, as Dumbledore, with a twinkle in his eye, vanished the remaining armchair.

Harry leaned back onto Draco. “I don’t feel so well again…” he muttered.

“Do you think you’re going to vomit again?” Draco asked, a worried expression painting his face.

“No, I don’t think it’s that bad…”

“Do you need to see Madam Pomfrey, Harry?” Dumbledore asked. “We can speak later, although it is pertinent we do speak.”

“No, it’s fine,” Harry told him. “I don’t think there’s much she can do; I should be fine once all that strange goo passes through. It’s feels basically like food poisoning.”

“If that’s all it is, she does have potions for it,” Neville pointed out.

“I have a feeling that a potion won’t help very much with this. Can we just get to the point? You want an explanation, right?”

“That would be nice,” Dumbledore said, “But only if you are up to it.”

“I think I am, more or less,” Harry told him, using the sleeve of his robe to wipe the remaining tears off his face.

“We were all there too,” Draco reminded him. “You don’t need to speak much if you don't want to, Harry.”

“Should we include everything?” Neville wondered, receiving an odd glance from Dumbledore.

“We kinda have to, don’t we?” Harry mumbled. “He knows we knew of Sirius being okay.” He looked at Dumbledore. “He’s the one who notified you, right?”

“Actually, Snape did. Sirius and Lupin contacted him, and he looked through the castle for you. Upon realizing you were gone, he contacted me, then Sirius and Lupin, whereas I gathered the few Order members who were nearby. If I had known there would be so many there, I would have called in more. I apologize for that. I also apologize for not telling you that they might try to call you there in order to retrieve the prophecy; I should have told you of its existence. I assume that is why you still decided to go, to see why they wanted you there?”

“Actually, we already knew about the prophecy’s existence,” Harry told him. “We went there for, er, something else…” He looked towards Draco and Neville. “Could you explain...? I feel a little queasy again…”

They explained why they had gone there, how, and what they ended up retrieving.

“But the stone was used to seal the Old One,” Neville said sadly. “I don’t think that’s what it was meant for…”

“What do you mean by ‘Old One’?” Dumbledore asked. “I have only heard of such a term in ancient legends…”

“Well, they exist,” Harry told him bluntly. “And when I entered her domain, I talked to her-- well, mocked, would be a better word, I suppose-- and accidentally mentioned that the veil hadn’t been used in a while, which pissed her off. That’s why she threw me back out and tried to escape herself. She was hungry; apparently she only agreed to stay in there as long as she received regular human sacrifices.”

“Interesting,” Dumbledore mused. “Such is not written in any records; it was believed that was a door to the underworld, or death itself.”

“Well, it certainly was a door to death,” Harry muttered, “for humans at least, since that’s what she generally eats.”

“Maybe the original purpose was lost to time, then?” Neville suggested. “Maybe they originally used it to execute criminals in order to satisfy her, but as the years went on, it was forgotten that she was the reason people didn’t return, leading to the underworld theory.”

“Yes, that does seem likely,” Dumbledore agreed. “But, Neville, what was it you did to send her back?”

“I used that stone we had to retrieve. I don’t know why, but I just had a feeling I should throw it at her, so I did.”

“What do you mean by ‘had to’?”

“Er…” Harry blanked. How did they even begin to explain about the Old Gods, Old Ones, Azathoth, and Nyarlathotep? Did they even dare?

“The Old Gods say it’s okay,” Neville told them confidently.

Draco blinked. “You heard them just now?”

“How?” Harry asked. “Why just you?”

“Wait a second…” Draco realized. “You heard them before when we didn’t, too!”

“Ever since we touched that stone…” Harry looked at Neville. “You were the only one who could hold it, remember? Neither Draco and I could touch it!”

Neville cocked his head slightly, as if listening to something they couldn’t hear. “It’s because… you’re too close to them. To Azathoth. The stone is-- was-- poison to the Old Ones, and you have their protection, so you got hurt too.”

“Yeah, some protection; Kaalut attacked Harry!” Draco proclaimed.

“Yeah, but she was reluctant to,” Harry pointed out. “Said Azathoth wouldn’t be very happy if she ate me. She only decided to because I pissed her off so much.”

Neville shook his head. “I still can’t believe you were able to speak with her like that. I would have fainted in fear.”

Dumbledore interrupted. “As interesting as your discussion is, would you be kind enough to explain to me what these entities you speak about actually are?”

The trio explained, though omitted and changed a few details: they merely said they were contacted by the entities, not that they were drunk and high while doing so; left out the Dreamlands, Nyarlathotep having been an Old One, and the White Ship, as well as what Luna was; and of course said nothing about the Necronomicon.

“And the ritual to summon one?” Dumbledore asked. The three froze. “Come, now, did you think I wouldn’t hear of such?”

“We honestly didn’t know what it would do,” Harry explained. “Luna left that part out when she translated.”

“Yes, I suppose I must speak with her again,” Dumbledore quietly mused. “She seems to often inadvertently leave important information out… that potion fiasco apparently didn't teach her enough about watching for that… but I digress,” he continued louder, “You are aware how dangerous it is to just follow the orders of strange entities without fully understanding what they are?”

“Now we are, yeah,” Draco told him. “We’ll be more careful.”

“I wish that you would not have any further contact with these creatures at all.”

“Don’t worry; we won’t,” Harry lied.

“Very good. Now, Harry, Draco, would you mind explaining exactly how you became vampires, of all the things that could happen?”

Draco quickly began. “Well, I told you how I defected, but not the full version…” He explained.

“And Harry?”

“Er… I’d rather not say…”

Dumbledore frowned. “And why is that? You know you can trust me, Harry.”

Harry scoffed. “Yeah? You’ve been avoiding me all year.”

“Which I apologize for; just know there was good reason. I will explain in time. Now, please, how did this happen?”

Harry was silent, looking down. Draco too looked away, well aware that Dumbledore was a legilimens-- he wasn’t quite sure if he actually would look into their minds, but better safe than sorry. He could feel Harry’s heartbeat was speeding up. Neville was just looking at them in confusion.

Dumbledore waited patiently for a while before saying something. “Harry? Would you prefer to speak alone?”

“No!” Harry said hurriedly. “I… I need Draco here… I’d really prefer not to talk at all.”

“I’m afraid that is not an option, Harry.”

“I-- it’s-- I--” Harry began shaking again.

“Harry? Do you want me to say instead?” Draco asked, squeezing Harry tighter to him.

“I can leave if you want me to.” Neville stood up.

Harry shook his head. “That’s okay, Neville,” he said quietly; the other boy sat back down. “Please, promise you won’t say anything to anyone though…”

“Don’t worry, Harry, I promise.”

Harry nodded, scratching at his arm as he began to speak. “Well, I-- I-- I can’t say it.” He turned into Draco, burying his head in his boyfriend’s chest and wrapping his arms around him.

Dumbledore peered at the scene carefully; he had a growing apprehension about all this… he hoped his suspicious were untrue.

“Do you want me to?” Draco asked quietly.

Harry nodded into Draco’s chest.

Draco closed his eyes. This was tough for him to say, too; his voice fell to a whisper. “Harry-- he was-- I-- I found him in the lake with his wrists slashed. I had no choice but to turn him-- he had mere minutes left until he… well, you know.” Harry squeezed Draco tighter, and Draco returned the gesture.

Neville gasped. He stared at Harry, a look of disbelief spread across his face, unsure of what to say.

Dumbledore had a grim look upon his face. His suspicions had been confirmed, but there was just one question. “Why?” he whispered.

Draco looked away. “From what I gather, he was overwhelmed by everything. It was October, right after being banned from quidditch; that was the trigger, wasn’t it, Harry?” Harry nodded, face still in Draco’s chest. “It wasn’t the only reason though, just the pinnacle,” Draco explained to Dumbledore. “There were many other things that contributed to his mindstate then: frequent flashbacks and nightmares of the graveyard, all the slander by the press, Umbridge harassing him over every little thing, being unable to talk to Sirius and Hagrid still not being back… he was also having a huge struggle with realizing he likes boys-- Cedric, specifically-- since his relatives apparently hated that more than magic, beating him severely when he even hinted at possibly being gay; he assumed the wizarding world would have similar sentiments to the muggles, correct?” Harry again nodded into Draco’s chest. “Also, apparently he’s been struggling with panic attacks and depression for years, did you know that? His aunt caught him cutting once, and just sent him to the cupboard-- which was his bedroom-- telling him to do it in private. Their solution during the attacks was also to lock him in there!” Draco was angry now. “And they’d starve him-- did you ever wonder why he’d return from summers ten pounds lighter? Did you ever wonder why he refused to return there for breaks, and apparently tried to run away a number of times?”

“Draco, that’s enough, please,” Harry muttered, lifting his head from Draco’s chest, tears in his eyes.

“Right… I’m sorry, Harry, I got carried away…”

“It’s fine; he’d see that stuff in the CPWC papers, anyway; they told me the headmaster will see it after the investigation finishes, if they decide I can’t return there, which they seemed to strongly think after they had me put some of my memories of it in the pensieve…”

“CPWC?” Dumbledore asked, seeming surprised.

Draco glared at him. “Yes. Snape went to them after seeing a bunch of stuff during occlumency lessons, though throughout the year we noticed a lot of other signs, offhand comments and whatnot. Did you know his Uncle tried to strangle him last summer? Whatever magical protection he gets there is absolutely moot if it means he has to experience such a hellhole!”

Dumbledore paled. “I never realized it was quite that bad…” he whispered. “I’m sorry, Harry.”

“I told you multiple times,” Harry mumbled. “You dismissed it, said I was exaggerating, that it couldn’t be that bad.”

“And that, I regret very much… I should have listened better. I fear I was too focused on the protection spell, telling myself a little pain on your part would be worth it in the end, but I see now I was blinded by that belief, blind to how it had become so much worse than imagined. Blind to how your mental wellbeing was taking such a drastic hit... Regardless, you don’t have to return anyway, since the protection spell won’t work anymore.”

“Because I’m a vampire?”

“Yes. The Order will find an appropriate place for you to stay.”

“I want to go to Grimmauld Place. Or the Burrow; Mrs. Weasley has temporary custody right now. But preferably at Grimmauld Place, with Sirius.”

“Harry,” Dumbledore said somberly. “Sirius is a great man, of that I do not doubt, but I am not quite sure he’s responsible enough to raise a teenager.”

Harry expected this; Mrs. Weasley had said the same when he mentioned it to her. “Lupin is responsible though, right?”

“Well, yes, he is, but what’s--”

“He’s living with Sirius.”

“Ah yes, I had forgotten… I will take it into consideration. However, it is getting late, and there is still something I need to show you, Harry.”

“What?” Harry asked curiously.

“The prophecy.”

Harry looked at Dumbledore in confusion. “But… I smashed that.”

“That was merely a record…” Dumbledore explained everything. All about the prophecy existing, about why specifically he had insisted Harry stay at the Dursleys, why he hadn’t been looking at Harry all year… Then, he finally showed them the memory of the actual prophecy, explaining exactly what it meant. Neville let out a gasp when informed that he could have qualified as well, had an equal chance of Voldemort choosing him. Harry was not surprised when informed the prophecy meant he or Voldemort had to kill the other; he kinda had figured that already.

Harry, becoming overwhelmed with the large influx of information, on top of all the other experiences of the night, leaned into Draco, nuzzling into his neck.

“Sir, I have a question,” Neville told Dumbledore. “About the killing each other part… Harry can’t die now, right? Not like that; I saw Voldemort hit him with the killing curse tonight. It bounced off.”

“Also, do prophecies even apply to vampires?” Draco wondered.

“I am not sure, Draco. And Neville, there are other ways to kill a vampire.”

“The prophecy is irrelevant now,” Harry told them suddenly, sitting up straight.

Dumbledore stared at him curiously. “What do you mean, Harry?”

“We have Azathoth’s protection. He says he will not allow a mere human to harm us in such a manner.”

Everyone stared at Harry. Finally, Neville spoke up. “But what if You-Know-Who learns about that, and finds a way to counter it? He saw what happened tonight via reading that Death Eater’s mind. If he learns you’re protected by one, and knows the stone thing damages them, couldn’t he use that?”

“He would have to find such a stone first,” Harry pointed out, “and that was the only one there.”

“Don’t underestimate Voldemort,” Dumbledore warned. “He very well may be able to find a way to counter it, once he finds out.”

“Well, I guess we just have to hope the Dark Lord doesn’t find out about the Old Ones, then,” Draco decided. “And if he does, well, we’ll deal with that then, right, Harry? Together.”

Harry smiled, turning to Draco. “Right. Together.” He gave Draco a quick peck on the lips, eliciting a knowing smile from both Dumbledore and Neville.

Chapter Text

Immediately after their not-so-little chat with Dumbledore, Harry, Draco, and Neville went to the hospital wing, at Dumbledore’s insistence-- he wanted to be sure they were okay, particularly Harry. They had planned to go anyway though, as it was now early morning and they wanted to see how their friends were faring.

“I’m a bit jealous that you two don’t need sleep right now,” Neville muttered blearily.

“It’s not as good as it sounds,” Draco told him earnestly. “When everyone else is asleep, it can get fairly boring.”

“I would love to be able to dream…” Harry muttered, still clutching his stomach, Draco helping to steady him. “Although it is nice to not have nightmares.”

“Oh yeah, I’d been wondering why you hadn’t woken up screaming like you used to…” Neville mused.

Harry blushed. “Was it really that bad?”

They reached the hospital wing; Harry removed himself from Draco and headed in.

“Oh! Harry!” Hermione called, waving to him from a nearby bed. It looked like she had been reading the Daily Prophet. Ginny was sitting on the end of her bed.

Harry grinned, albeit a little weakly. “Hey! Glad you’re awake, Hermione. How are you? And the others?” He looked around; only a few were there.

“Well, my chest still hurts quite a bit; there’s a bunch of potions I’ll be needing to take, but Madam Pomfrey says I’ll heal.”

“Mostly everyone else fared pretty well,” Ginny informed them. “Daphne, Adrian, and Luna got out fine with the creatures-- the Ministry just assumed the battle had caused that, so none of us will be in trouble. Blaise only had a concussion, but the potion for it knocked him out,” she gestured to a nearby bed. “Of course, mine was only a broken ankle, a quick fix…”

“And Ron?” Harry asked quiety. The redhead was passed out the next bed over, arms heavily bandaged.

“He’ll be fine, too,” Hermione told him. “It’ll just take some time to heal, like me. He was awake earlier, and is cognantly fine; it’s just physical damage, which is correctable.”

“The only thing that seemed to work on the brains was fire,” Ginny explained. “So he has some pretty bad burns. Where they grabbed him seems to have left marks too, but we won’t know how bad they are until the burns heal. Madam Pomfrey says thoughts can cause deeper wounds than most other things.”

Harry nodded; he could understand that. “Glad you’re all okay…” He coughed.

“What about you?” Hermione asked, frowning. “You’re clutching your stomach; were you hit by something?”

“Er. No, I think it’s just food poisoning…”

“I’ll get Madam Pomfrey; she’ll have something for it.” Ginny hopped away.

“No, that’s--” Harry put his hand over his mouth as his stomach gave a lurch. He felt dizzy now, too, and clutched Draco’s arm with his other one. Draco steered Harry to a nearby trash can, where he coughed up more blood than Old One ooze.

“Oh dear!” Madam Pomfrey came running over. “Here, let’s get you a potion for that…”

“I’m not sure that will work,” Draco whispered to her. “It’s not exactly food poisoning.” He rubbed Harry’s back, who was still hunched over the can.

“Here, I’ll explain,” Neville told her. “Er. Can we go over there to talk?” He walked with her to a corner where the others couldn’t hear.

Harry’s stomach seemed to settle a little, so he and Draco returned to the others, wiping some blood from his lips. “So, what’s the Prophet say?”

 

*******

 

Madam Pomfrey had decided that the best course for Harry was to ride it out while consuming lots of blood potions, in hopes that when all the old blood had cycled out so would the ooze. It seemed to work, and after a few days in the hospital wing, he was free to go. Hermione was also happy that her cat returned to her instead of snuggling with Harry.

“Well, I’m off to visit Hagrid, then,” Harry told Ron and Hermione. The half-giant had just returned the night before. “He’ll probably want a first-hand account of the events though; that’ll be annoying…” More than annoying-- Harry had really been trying not to think about what had happened. He dragged Draco along in hopes that might deter any attacks.

“Come to think about it, what happened to Umbridge?” Harry mused, on their way to Hagrid’s hut.

“It seems no one has heard from her since she was carried away by the centaurs,” Draco told him. “Does it matter, though?”

“Well, it would be nice if she never returned from there, don’t you think?” Harry said casually. “It’d be nice if something killed her, ‘cause I was thinking of maybe doing it myself...”

“...I’m not sure if you’re serious or joking...”

As expected, Hagrid wanted to know everything that had happened. They told him an edited version, sucking the blood out of some chickens as they took turns talking. He was extremely curious about the creature that emerged from the portal-- Harry had left out that they knew what it was, or that Harry talked to it, letting him think it was just a normal beast that went berserk-- and wondered a little too excitedly if the Ministry was hiding more creatures like that. Harry and Draco really really really hoped they weren’t.

The two vampires went on a brief hunt after that-- they weren’t hungry after the chickens, but Harry needed to clear his head after explaining it all again. No doubt he would have to do so a few more times too… he focused on hunting, feeling the heart of the forest around him, connecting with the world…

“Someone’s there!” Draco whispered; the two hopped up a tree and peered below them; who would be this deep in the forest? They were much too small to be Hagrid…

“Bloody hell.” Harry stared at the figure. “I don't believe it.”

“What should we do...?” Draco asked.

“Well, I don’t suppose taking her down is an option, is it?” Harry asked hopefully.

Draco sighed. “Unfortunately, no. Besides, human or not, do you really want her blood in you?” he teased.

Harry scrunched up his nose. “Ugh. Good point.”

Eventually, the two decided to shepherd Umbridge out of the forest, having quite fun with rustling bushes to make her flee terrified in the direction needed. When she was out of the forest, she stood there in a daze, staring at the castle in disbelief. They left her there; someone would probably see her eventually.

“You sure we should have done that?” Harry asked, heading back to the castle after gathering their things at Hagrid’s. “We could have easily left her in there, let her get eaten by the acromantulas or something…”

Draco laughed. “And you’re supposed to be the good guy-- wait up a second, there are acromantulas in there?!”

 

*******

 

“Hey, Blaise, you wouldn't happen to have any nyx we could use tonight, would you?” Harry whispered to him, in the corner of the lounge.

Blaise pouted teasingly. “So that’s all I’m good for, huh?”

“Of course not,” Harry said, voice serious. “You get us firewhiskey too.”

Blaise laughed. “Ah yes, that too. But as to your question, sadly, no, I am all out. I’ll have more after break though, promise.” He winked. “Although,” he frowned. “I don’t think it’d be a good idea to do that now anyway, with the three extra additions here.”

Ron, Hermione, and Ginny had joined them in the lounge for what was both an end-of-year party and a farewell party for Adrian, who was graduating Hogwarts and had landed a well-paying job as a transfigurationist for a company specialising in “entertainment products,” though he did not specify what that exactly meant. Everyone had a bottle butterbeer in their hand. Hermione was chatting happily with Daphne and Adrian-- Ron did not look very happy with that as he stood with Luna, Ginny, and Neville, nor was he happy with Harry staying around Draco and Blaise.

“Hey, I think I know what’ll loosen Ron up,” Draco whispered to Harry.

Harry raised an eyebrow. “Oh? And what might that be?”

“Oh, you know, the usual…”

Harry chuckled. “True, that probably would, but I’m not sure if Hermione would approve…”

“Well, then, we’ll just have to convince little miss perfect to try a little bit too, won’t we?”

A mischievous smile stretched across Blaise's face. “Hey, Neville!” he got the boy’s attention. “About time to bring that out, don’t you think?”

Neville looked confused. “What do you mean?”

Blaise rolled his eyes. “The cabinet’s on your side of the room, so you’re in charge of it!”

“Oh!” Luna’s eyes lit up. “I’ll go get it!” She ran over to the cabinet.

Ron, Ginny, and Hermione looked rather confused at first, then their eyes widened as Luna emerged from the closet with no less than seven bottles of firewhiskey in her arms.

Blaised blinked. “When did we get that many…? Well, whatever. Hey, Luna, we only need one to start, you know!” He ran over to take some from her before she could drop any, sticking them back into the closet.

Ginny and Ron eyed the bottles in anticipation. Harry wondered if they’d ever had anything stronger than butterbeer before. Hermione, however, had an utterly scandalized look upon her visage, and she seemed frozen; Daphne and Adrian looked slyly at each other.

Soon, there were ten shot glasses lined up on the table, while in the corner flailed a flabbergasted Hermione muttering about how they were mostly underage, and prefects, and such, as Adrian and Daphne held her arms, preventing her from getting closer.

“Here, Luna, hand me the bottle,” Blaise commanded, turning to her. “Hey! You’re supposed to wait until it’s poured!”

Luna unlatched her lips from the bottle. “But we usually just pass it…?”

Harry laughed. “She has a point there.”

“But there are other people here…” Blaise muttered. “Eh, whatever. Luna, fine, you keep that one. Neville, grab me another bottle.”

Soon, they were each holding a full shotglass of Firewhiskey-- well, except for Hermione, who was pouting in the corner, resigned to the fact that she couldn’t stop them but still not happy with it, as well as Luna, who already had downed half a bottle. Everyone was mighty curious as to how Ron and Ginny would react… “Bottoms up!”

The six regular drinkers and Ginny downed their glasses quickly and easily, a tiny puff of fire emerging from each of their mouths after. Ron took a small sip and coughed. “How the heck do you all drink that stuff so easily… wait a second. Ginny, how…?”

“Oh, Fred and George let me have it sometimes,” Ginny told him nonchalantly.

“What? They’ve never offered it to me before!”

“Hey, Ron,” Harry interrupted. “It’s not a sipping drink; you have to swallow it quickly. It’s really bad at first, but it gets easier the more you have.”

“Right, okay, here I go…” He closed his eyes and gulped it down, coughing and making a horrible face. “Ugh, that’s awful!”

“Right then, round two!” Daphne announced; their glasses had already been refilled. Luna was heading towards the cabinet for another bottle, but Neville stopped her.

“Er, yeah, not for me,” Ron coughed again. “I think I’m going to stick with butterbeer too…” he wandered over to Hermione. Luna picked up his glass, but Neville grabbed it away from her.

They began playing Kings, with Hermione, Ron, and a disgruntled Luna using butterbeer instead of firewhiskey like the others. After a while, they’d given up on using the shot glasses and were all just passing the bottle now-- Ron included-- on their third one.

“Oh, guess I’m drinking again,” Daphne giggled, as she lost yet another game of never-have-I-ever. “Hermione, you’re just too good at this.” Of course she was-- she was completely innocent, always following the rules, unlike most the others… including Ginny, apparently, which Ron seemed a little mortified about.

“Hey, you said her name!” Adrian called. “Switch shirts, or drink twice!”

Hermione huffed, sipping her butterbeer as she drew a card. “King! Finally! I rescind that silly shirt rule… but,” She smiled slyly. “you can’t get your shirts back until the game is over.”

“What! Noooo, that’s not fair!” Harry complained, stuck in Daphne’s tube top. Hermione stuck her tongue out at him. She actually seemed to be enjoying this quite a bit; maybe, in time, they could also wean her onto firewhiskey…

“Hey, look, I got a King too!” Luna proclaimed. Everyone stared at her, wondering what unpredictable rule she would create now. “This time… let’s do pants! Say someone’s name unintentionally, and switch pants with them.”

“Really, Luna?” Neville sighed. She had been the one to make the shirt rule, too. “Could you for once make a rule not involving clothing?”

“But it would be lovely to see Harry in a skirt again...”

“Uh huh… So, how many shots this time?”

“Hmm,” Luna thought for a few seconds. “How about… eight!”

Everyone stared at her. “Let, uh, cut that in half, okay?” Draco suggested.

“Oh, fine,” Luna pouted.

Blaise drew next. “Queen… hmm, what’s a good question… ooh, this will be fun: ‘Which base have you reached?’”

Everyone else blushed, except for Ron. “What’s a base?” he asked, upon which the rest of them-- including Hermione-- facepalmed.

 

*******

 

“Hey, everyone, come on, wake up!” Hermione urged the pile of people on the couch. “The train is in an hour, and none of you are packed! Oh, I knew letting you all drink more than butterbeer was a bad idea…”

They barely made it to the train in time; Harry and Draco pretended to be out of breath, too, as all the humans were, so as not to seem suspicious. Luna, however, did not, rendering odd stares from both the humans and the vampires. “Well, let’s find a compartment, then…” Harry suggested.

Alas, there were no large compartments free that could fit the entire group, so they had to split up between smaller ones. Ron still refused to sit with any Slytherin, despite seemingly having warmed up to them the previous night-- most likely due to the firewhiskey, though Harry was now certain that there actually was a chance they could bring him around, in time. Thus, Harry and Draco ended up sitting with Blaise and Luna. Ron was annoyed that Harry chose not to sit with him of course, but Harry pointed out that he’d be living with Ron the entire summer, so the least he could do was let him sit with Draco on the train.

“Do you think we’ll all get to meet over the summer?” Blaise asked.

Harry frowned. “I’m not sure, though I doubt it; I’m still going to be under strict protection. Really wish we could though…”

“But Draco gets to visit…” he whined teasingly.

“Well, I am his boyfriend,” Draco stated. “And under the same strict protection by the same people. But unfortunately, Dumbledore doesn’t want anyone that isn’t strictly ‘necessary’ to know where we’ll be.”

“Fine… but you better write me twice weekly, both of you!”

“Harry, what’s that?” Luna asked, pointing to the music player he had just removed from his bag.

“This? It’s a muggle device that plays music. Here, there’s two sets of earphones, so we can each have one…”

“Just a small town girl... living in a lonely world… she took the midnight train, goin’ anywhere...”