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❝LET THE BUYER BEWARE❞

Chapter Text

CHAPTER I
❝when all is blood❞
➺ ➻ ➺

TWELVE YEARS AGO

When Sybill told of a prophecy concerning a child born with enough power to rival that of an upcoming Dark Lord, it was only fitting that Albus Dumbledore would know. Born in the end of October, she said. A child who will become the Dark Lord's heir, she said. A great and terrible beauty, she warned.

Her words had a large ripple effect on the rest of Wizarding Society, no one wanted their child to grow into such a monster─or to be equal to one. Not willing to risk it, parents with children born in the tenth month did the unthinkable. They killed them. Thus creating the horrid event known as The Great Slaughtering. Pregnant women with children due in October terminated them.

It was a dark time, the world feeling the darkness that was creeping up on them. An upcoming Dark Lord, they muttered. Who's the heir, they wondered. The collective sin of their child slaughter weighing heavily on them. Instead, they blamed it all on the entity known as the Duke of Lies, claiming he'd manipulated them into committing such horrible crimes.

So when James Potter's son was born on the 31st of October, everyone knew what the child was destined to become as all other October-children were no more. And when Voldemort came, James Potter was ready.

Except he wasn't. As green flashed across the living room, bathing the house in eerie sickly light─Lily didn't bother pulling her wand. Red eyes peered out from a deep hood and met with her vibrant green ones, questioning, probing. The red headed woman simply pointed towards the staircase─the one leading to baby Hadrian's room. After all, this was not her fight. She had no love for the Potter heir.

But when Voldemort got there, the child gone leaving both him and Lily confused. No one found young Hadrian Potter again.

✥ ✥ ✥

TWELVE YEARS AFTER

Hadrian hated the darkness. It was all he knew─the dark, the cold and being hungry─but twelve years of experiencing one sensation to the next hadn't made him anymore favourable of it. His room was a small cupboard under a stair with no windows, no bed (simply a pile of rumpled clothing he had gotten from his cousin Dudley to curl up on when it was bedtime) and a swinging lightbulb that flickered more often than it liked to actually work. The poor lighting always made his bruises look worst, estranged from himself and deviously livid.

Tonight his uncle had forgotten to turn the light on. Or maybe he'd left it off as a punishment─he'd gotten into another fight with Dudley and the pack of bullies he liked to call his friends. Aunt Petunia wasn't pleased at the fresh bruise on Dudley's cheekbone and Uncle Vernon's large face had purpled with rage. He'd smacked him around a bit before shoving him into his room without dinner. Again.

His stomach growled in commentary. Hadrian sighed. Boredom was better than fear, but at the moment he was too afraid to be bored. It was so easy to imagine monsters lurking in the darkness. He was supposed to be asleep, but he was too terrified to do so. He couldn't even find his make-shift bed in the darkness, if he wanted to sleep it'd be on the cold hard floor while hoping he didn't hit any of the cleaning supplies locked up in there with him.

He wasn't sure how much time had past, time was irrelevant in the dark─but he figured he had a few hours to go before they let him out again. He desperately needed to pee but he'd used up all his bathroom breaks for the day and he couldn't risk sleeping least he pissed himself in his sleep─his family hated when he did that, the beatings were always so much worse then, but Hadrian never did it on purpose! He was just so afraid sometimes! He couldn't control it...

He whimpered and pulled his feet closer to his chest, wincing slightly at the pain in his bruised muscles. The sun will come up soon, the sun will come up soon,  Hadrian mentally repeated to himself. Soon they'll let him out again and everything will be fine. Everything will be fine...

✥ ✥ ✥

When Hadrian's father met his mother, the sun set rays directly upon them─signaling them out from their peers, and all the surrounding trees turned to autumn. They thought it a sign. A blessing.

✥ ✥ ✥

He was sprawled on the floor, curling up against himself as a form of protection while Aunt Petunia stood over him, her palm still raised from after the first strike.

"What did I tell you about your freakishness?" the skinny woman hissed, "Do you think this is funny? Must have felt like the only genius in the house didn't you, Hadrian?"

"No, Aunt Petunia, I'm sorry," Hadrian sobbed, "I don't know how it happened. I didn't mean to grow any of it back."

Yesterday Aunt Petunia had noticed that his hair was growing too long, curling just under his chin. She had forced him to sit still while she got rid of it─the haircut uneven enough to leaving him balding or bloody in certain spots. Oddly enough, the next morning he had a full head of soft hair again. Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon weren't pleased, though Dudley had found it particularly funny.

"Get up, boy." Petunia snapped, "You have dishes to do, don't you?"

Hadrian nodded.

"Well you can't exactly do dishes from the floor now can you?"

That made sense. Hesitating slightly to see if she'll give him another smack, Hadrian got up from the floor but before he could make it past her, Petunia grabbed his arm and looked down at him.

She looked at her handprint marking his face and sighed, "I don't like having to be so hard on you, you know? Sometimes it's too easy to forget you're just a child. Promise me no more freakishness."

"I don't do it on purpose─"

She snorted, "My sister used to say the same thing. But even she got rid of you in the end, didn't she? Lily was always wiser than me, that one."

Hadrian looked up in wonder, he'd never heard Petunia say anything about his mother more than a few barbed words and insults, but never enough that he could ever actually get a sense of what she was like.

"When will she come back to get me?" He inquired.

Petunia froze, her eyes scanning his face before she threw her head back in an obnoxious laugh, "She won't. Like I said, she had enough sense to be rid of you and she won't be coming back. Be glad that I'm nice enough to take you in, boy."

Hadrian shot her a glare, "Liar. My mother has to love me as much as you love Dudley! You'll see! You'll all see! She'll come get me!"

He bolted off just as Petunia mouthed 'mother' in confusion.

✥ ✥ ✥

There were weeks when things went on so peacefully in the Dursley household that Hadrian could almost believe that maybe his family was starting to love him. Eventually something horrid would occur to dispel him of the thought and shatter the illusion of potentially empathetic family members.

This time was the worst however, Hadrian woke up in a hospital room sore and aching and confused. There was a nurse fluttering around his room, opening the windows and letting fresh breeze flap the white curtains. She turned and gasped at the sight of his confused peering gaze before breaking out into a bright smile.

"You're awake," her tone was so gentle and genuine Hadrian felt his eyes prickling at the kindness in them─at the sight of the tears the nurse's smile tinged with sadness, "It's alright dear. You've had an accident, a bad one. You've been asleep for two weeks─"

"Where's Uncle Vernon?"

Her face darkened, "That brutish pig is─listen Hadrian-love, I'm a friend of your mother's. You need to listen very carefully to what I'm about to say, can you do that or do you need me to wait until later?"

"No, now. Tell me now," he gripped her hand, "please."

She nodded, her tan hand tightening around his, "She wants you to know that she didn't know you were alive. She thought you dead and so she hadn't bothered to find you─she said a very wicked man took you and now she wants to keep you safe. She said that since the wicked man put you here, it would be best for her to take you away."

Hadrian nodded, tearing up.

"She...she set aside a manor in your name. It's isolated and she's packed it with servants and staff that will form your own household─it'll be the perfect environment for you to grow in peace before you rejoin society─"

"I don't understand," Hadrian cut in, "Manor? Servants? You're talking as if my mother is some kind of─"

"I can't say much about your mother, Hadrian. I'm sorry."

"You said you were her friend." He accused.

"I am." She looked him in the eye, "But you need to understand a few things before I can even begin telling you where you came from. That's for your tutors to explain. I'm just here to let you know that in a few days a woman will come to collect you─she'll say her name is Madeline Rouge, you are to go with her."

She told him about the Wizarding World, about his father who was Head Auror, about his wife Lily who was teaching at Hogwarts─a school he might be interested in going to someday. The more she spoke, the more everything made sense. The more he learned, the less he trusted reality.

✥ ✥ ✥

Bugwood Manor was a large building on a cliffside that overlooked a raging grey sea and sprawled on healthy roilling lawn with mini hills and spring flowers. There was some tall forestry surrounding part of the manor. It felt too large for a little twelve year old. A long line of servants were standing outside the manor looking at him patiently.

"Welcome home, Hadrian." Madeline─a pretty dark haired woman with bright red lips─said, "I will be your steward and you shall want for nothing."

✥ ✥ ✥

Hadrian's parents were once just children in love. As most romances do, it started with a small kindling flame cupped between hands as they dutifully breathed life into it and watched it grow.

✥ ✥ ✥

Some nights, Hadrian had nightmares. He hated being in the dark, you see and so lovely Miss Madeline gave him the oddest looking nightlight. It looked like a snow globe if a snow globe was tall and the glass was elongated in a cylindrical manner instead of a sphere. There was a large lightbulb inside that was covered in twisting golden cogs and gears. Whenever Hadrian peeked past the gears, he could see little zaps of lightning running along the coils of the bulb.

He loved it for how it painted shadowed gears and cogs that danced around the deep blues and golds of his room. Some nights, he stared into that bulb more than he did sleep.

Some nights, Hadrian needed to pee. He hated them because he always felt fear scratching it's talons along the nape of his neck─just a whisper─too afraid to leave his bedroom to do so. What if he had used up his quota of bathroom breaks? What if Madeline would get mad? He couldn't risk it.

That changed however, when he'd peed his bed the seventh time and Madeline found out what he was doing. She always found ways to simplify things that felt too complicated.

✥ ✥ ✥

"When will I see my mother?" Hadrian asked one day, he was sitting in the sun room with Madeline munching on his favourite sandwiches while the woman was knitting him a new scarf.

You could always just buy me one, Hadrian had told her (now starting to comprehend the level of finances his mother had availed to him.)

Yes, I could. And Madeline cut him a smile, But sometimes it's nice to remind you that you're loved, and it costs me nothing to make you an enchanted scarf.

Madeline hadn't looked up from her knitting so he made to repeat, "When will─"

"I heard you the first time, Hadrian dearest." Her tone was crisp, "And a young Lord shouldn't have to repeat himself. How many times have I told you?"

Hadrian put down the cucumber sandwich on the tray filled with others, "....Many."

Madeline sighed and looked up at him, the stained glass window painted her face with diamonds of red and yellow and green, almost like glorified fish scales, "Don't look so forlorn Little Lord, you will see your mother when you are ready."

"And when will I be ready?" He snapped, "Other children get to live with their mothers. Why can't I even meet mine? Why does she have me locked up in here? Is it because I'm not as mentally developed as other children?"

She eyed him sharply, her hands tightening on her needles in offense, "Who told you that?"

"I heard it from one of the servants talking to the chef. Is it true?"

She side stepped, "You're not locked up."

"It feels like it."

Madeline sighed again before giving him a small smile, "I'll talk to her for you, yes? See what she says?"

Hadrian sat up straighter in his seat, cutting her a smile, "That would be wonderful, thank you."

Madeline gave him a proud smile, "Well said, Hadrian. Well said."

"I learned from the best."

✥ ✥ ✥

Her laugh was like music notes to his favourite song and his smirk set hummingbirds in her chest. She knew now, that if there was one thing that could kill her; brutally, totally and without forgiveness─it would be love.

✥ ✥ ✥

Madeline came into his bedroom with a soft knock before he told her to come in. The thirteen year old was seated on a lush rug with the Semargl he had found in the woods last year when it had been a pup. The winged wolf loved to snuggle up near the fireplace and Hadrian took the time to pet him heavily while the wolf was in between snoozing.

"Little Lord?"

"Mm?"

"I have... a letter. From your mother."

The room fell into a tense silence.

He broke it. "Is...you're not pulling a prank on me are you?"

"I would never."

He stretched his hand out and she gave it to him. Hurriedly, he broke the wax seal and scanned the pages─his eyes tearing up as he did so.

"She has a very nice handwriting." He bit his lower lip, blinking tears out of his eyes, "She says she's sorry she can't see me─that she's been dying to. She would have asked for pictures but she didn't think it fair..."

"Hadrian..."

"She asked me to be patient with her because she only just told her husband of my existence─he's not taken the news well. She still has to tell the rest of her family─Madeline...I thought my parents were married? Did Lily marry someone else?"

Madeline looked down at the watery eyed boy and raised her hand to her lips.

It pained her, but she had to do it, "Hadrian, Lily Evans is not your mother."

Hadrian furrowed, "But James Potter─my father married Lily Evans..."

Madeline's face marred with disgust, "Lily Evans is not your mother. And you should be grateful she isn't. She led Riddle right to you not knowing Dumbledore had taken you already─"

"Who's my mother then?" Hadrian lost patience at her silence, "Who?"

"Narcissa Malfoy." Madeline muttered softly, "Your mother...is Narcissa Malfoy."

✥ ✥ ✥

His mother was a Politiker in-training at Hogwarts while his father was training to be a Blade. They'd make an excellent team in the Wizarding Tournament; but houses have never merged during the event.

✥ ✥ ✥

"I'm...a bastard?"

"You were made completely out of love. That's rare in our society, my darling."

✥ ✥ ✥

And she sent him letters and letters and letters and sent tons of tons of pretty expensive things.

"But I don't need all of these." He told Madeline and his steward smiled.

"No. But she wants to show her affection somehow, Little Lord. Let her."

✥ ✥ ✥

Hadrian and Tutor Josephine were seated in one of the Bugwood Manor's many sitting rooms. The entire manor was decorated in warm colours that made the place feel cozy despite it's size─too big for one child yet modest when compared to the ancestral Potter Manor.

Tutor Josephine had him reading a book about the Potter family. Madeline showed him a Black family tapestry secluded inside a room with numerous mirrors that showed reflections different from his own, and true to form, he found his face on a new branch connected to Narcissa's. If he had paid attention he would have noticed─

He had been begging to learn about the Potter family since then. As he flipped through the book he saw the Potter crest; a golden powerful stag up on its hind legs behind a crimson background with a golden spiky sun beaming brightly behind its head and antlers.

"The Potters were known for their dueling-prowess. Never met a Potter that didn't know their way around a wand." Tutor Josephine commented, "But your father lad, your father was something else. Best Auror the Wizarding World had ever seen."

"I want to be like him then." Hadrian said idly, "Everyone speaks so highly of Aurors."

"That's because it's a job of very high prestige, little Hadrian. The only position above an Auror is the Minister and his Undersecretary."

She started talking about the Great Slaughtering (everyone seemed to like bringing that up) and how the Wizards were mass-manipulated by an entity called the Duke of Lies but he ignored her. He flipped the page, staring at a glossy picture of his father in his Auror uniform. Apparently after training in England's #1 Auror school; Hogwarts, he had joined one of the best Auror teams, Albus Dumbledore's The Order of The Pheonix. The only Auror team better than the Order was the Knights of Walpurgis founded by Undersecretary Riddle. His father looked invincible in the illustration with the Order's flag splashed behind him. Gold and red and red and Gold. He looked like a Conqueror of Old. A second coming of Alexander the Great. Hadrian wanted to be like that. Strong, brave and never helpless ever again.

He would join Hogwarts then.

✥ ✥ ✥

Madeline found Hadrian in the library, the young man had taken to reading whenever he wasn't being tutored by his professors or dueling with one of the servant boys for practice. He looked up at her, blue-grey eyes piercing under his dark bangs. He had an intense look about him that would have made her uneasy if she hadn't grown the boy up herself, seen the tender care he took for the large winged wolf he raised himself, felt his love directed at her in small actions that wouldn't mean much to others.

He was handsome, had all the fine bones of his pure blood and the poise she had nurtured into him. She had never mothered a child into the world, but Hadrian was hers.

"Is something wrong, Madeline. Your face is all funny," He quipped with a curl of his lips.

"Tutor Lundist said you had a panic attack earlier." Madeline stated, "But since you're sitting here drawling at me, I can see you're fine."

The fifteen year old scowled.

"I've known you for years Hadrian and still you refuse to open up about what happened at the Dursley Household."

Hadrian turned his eyes back to his book. Dismissive.

She broke a small grin before walking over to the boy and moved his legs to take a seat before she placed them in her lap, "PTSD doesn't just go away. You refused mind healers, you never want to talk about─"

"They used to lock me in this box," Hadrian stated indifferently and she furrowed, "It was hot and dark and I could hear my own breathing. It was...it was my room. And I─they─but sometimes─what's the point of this?"

He looked down, disappointed at himself and lowered the book that showed Madeline a moving diagram of the human body dissecting itself and sewing itself back up before turning into the Wound Man illustration.

"House Malfoy." Madeline told him.

The boy frowned, "What?"

"Their motto. Tell me. House Malfoy."

Not getting the point, he played along, "Until there be no more."

"Greengrass."

He sat up in his seat, curling his legs under him, "The sun will rise once more."

She smiled, "Crouch."

"When all is blood, blood is all."

"Longbottom."

"I am human, so nothing human is strange to me."

"Very good. House Flint."

Hadrian grinned, "Forged of steel."

"House Potter."

Hadrian froze, looking up at her before a devious looked flashed across his face, "Blood begets blood begets blood." and death begets death.

And just like that, she succeeded in distracting him.

✥ ✥ ✥

His mother was fierce, his father was deadly. A perfect pair. Both from highly respectable families─but she became promised to another. And so they stole silent glances, silent moments in the moonlight, secret kisses and eventually much much more.

✥ ✥ ✥

PRESENT DAY

Hadrian was sixteen when his life drastically changed. He sat on his lush bed watching his reflection in the mirror as it made rude gestures back at him. He couldn't help but crack a small grin. His servants were rushing back and forth hurriedly packing away his possessions that he would take to his new penthouse in the city before heading off to collect the necessary items to start his school year.

Annaiese, his Semargl, was prowling around the room watch-maning the entire process and setting some of the servants on edge. She had grown into a beautiful white-grey wolf that stood taller than his waist and had developed black stripes on her feathered wings.

"Down, girl. You're frightening friends." Hadrian told her softly, his amusement obvious.

Annaiese growled before sauntering over to him and dropping her heavy and warm head on his lap. Making comforting noises, he rubbed her fur and dropped a kiss on her nose. Her pleased rumbling vibrated through his legs. He recalled when he had found her by complete accident back when he was younger on a trip through the Bugwood's woods. Her pack had been killed in their den, their bodies strewn around the thick roots of an ancient tree in a mess of exposed bone and bloody fur. He'd never found out what had killed them. Tutor Lundist said it wasn't by chance that she had survived. That fate had a funny way of interfering with things.

A servant girl with golden blonde hair made him stand while she set about fixing his clothing, folding the blue sleeves of his jacket just under his elbows, "You'll be staying in the apartments the months before school begins, m'lord and some of your servants will go with you. While you're at Hogwarts we'll get the Potter manor at Godric' ready, your father left house elves, though most of them went to his wife. You can pick which of us stay with you there or─"

"I give that right to Madeline. She knows best, after all." Hadrian told her.

She cut him a smile, "Of course, Mr. Hadrian."

Madeline knocked before entering the busy room, his Semargl's ear twitching as she did so.

"If you're ready," Madeline offered her arm which he took, "It's about time we get you your official wand."

 

They apparated directly in the city square of Huddlesworth. Hadrian pulled his hood up over his head. Madeline had demanded they wear outfits with hoods in case of Ashfall. True to form, black flakes of ash were lazily drifting down through the air around them, in the distance the Great Forge's churning mechanisms were hissing, raising and dropping with the pumping of advanced levers and shifting gears─the steel structure had a tall yet somewhat thin peak that glowed red hot with a never ending internal fire, smoke drifting into the air above.

It painted a eerie yet calming picture; the Wizarding statues decorating the cobblestoned roads and paths with Ash floating down on them in a twisted parody of rain. Wizards of high society, walking around in their fashionable hoods and shining jewelry, careless of the staining ash around them. The Ministry building was a large black marble structure shaped like two large cuboids and several pillars. There were various statues made out of the same black marble decorating the building─some even accented with gold, but the largest statue by far was a depiction of Atlas straining under the weight of the world.

What stood out however were the two vibrant red banners trailing down the front of the looming black Ministry building. In the midst of the red banners was the image of the Minister, Cornelius Fudge and his crest of a blooming lotus. Ever so often the top of the Ministry building flashed a running string of words telling news, weather updates or messages from the Ministry itself such as 'We don't take what we already have' or 'We lead the world so that you don't have to.'

Hadrian shoved his hands in his deep blue coat's pockets while he followed Madeline through a thick of crowds and around a corner building before she stepped into an alleyway which turned out to be a murky portal straight into the heart of Diagon Alley. Unlike Huddlesworth, the minute the dark haired boy stepped into Diagon Alley he was met with a symphony of noises from vendors shouting bargains to mothers scolding their children and the general noise produced from too many humans in one space.

He hadn't gotten the chance to stare in Huddlesworth to his heart's content as this was his first visit out into the Wizarding World but he did his best not to gawp at the oddities and weird practices going down in Diagon. As he followed Madeline to Ollivander's a woman tried to sell him enchanted jewelry─the dragon earrings breathed actual fire, the snakes flicked their tongues─a man tried to sell him what he claimed was a liquid panacea and an old hag was selling what looked like deformed babies in a crystal jars filled with discoloured liquids.

Ollivander's was a brick store with a glass front, the name printed on a rosewood sign with golden lettering. The door bell jingled as they entered and Hadrian admired the interior of the store. There was a glass showcase that had Ollivander's handmade wands on display along with decorative accessories he was willing to add onto the wands for extra purchase. Most of the store was made out of cubical shelves of fine dark wood, the boxes arranged by colour and the Ollivander's logo sparkled in the warm yellow lighting of the glittering chandelier. The best part of the luxurious store however, was the spiced woodsy scent that fragranced it.

Ollivander came out from an aisle of the continued shelves to greet them behind the glass showcase. He was old, old enough for Hadrian to do a double-take. He had a long white beard and probing beady eyes. Madeline looked as at ease as ever.

"First official wand, yes?" He inquired and Hadrian thought it was rhetoric so he didn't deign to answer, "Can I have a name perhaps?"

"Hadrian Joven Potter. Pleased to meet your acquaintance." Hadrian gave the man a somewhat firm shake─no need to have a pissing contest with the man who was going to sell him his wand.

Ollivander's busy eyebrows rose, "Ah. Excellent. Excellent. I always wondered whether I'd get to sell you your wand. You have creature blood, Lord Potter."

Madeline shifted, "Distant. How can you tell?"

Ollivander shot her a aghast look, "It's part of my trade, Ms. Rouge."

It was Madeline's turn to look aghast, though she wore it beautifully as always under the yellow soft lighting, "You remember me?"

"I remember every wand I ever sold, as well as every face."

Hadrian was impressed. Madeline, not so much.

"Can we please begin?" Ollivander asked.

Hadrian shrugged goodnaturedly, "As it please you."

The man asked him questions like what his favourite food was (cheesecake), Ollivander said that didn't count because it wasn't a food (Hadrian told him that was an ableist thing to say), what his favourite colour was (pink), Ollivander told him to be honest (Madeline nodded exasperatedly that it was truly pink), which was his dominant wand hand (ambidextrous but mostly right), Ollivander fact-checked that with Madeline again and that was when he gave up and measured Hadrian's body in silence.

When he was done he scanned his walls filled with England's finest wands before pulling out four boxes. The first was Holly with Dragon heartstring, 11", Non-Bendy. It started to smoke in Hadrian's grip and Ollivander smacked it out of his hand (Madeline scowled at him for that.)

The second was a Rosewood with Unicorn Hair, 13", Springy and an embellishment of pearls. The minute Hadrian reached for the wand it slid away. He blinked, tried again and was frustrated to find the wand escaped his grip again. When it rolled off the glass display case, he finally gave up.

The third was an Aspen (a dueler's wood, Ollivander commented pointedly) with Basilisks Venom, 9", Flexible. The wand vibrated in his hand and burned white hot before it turned to literal dust. Hadrian tensed and looked up at the old man sheepishly, just in time to see the man's eye twitch ("I'll pay you back for that one.")

He was rejected by the fourth wand as well (Willow, Siren's Hair, 15", Bendy) and the fifth, and the sixth. And the seventh. Ollivander's eyes came to life the more wand's he failed to bond with as if Hadrian was a puzzle created just for him to solve.

After much deliberation Ollivander stroked his beard, "There's a wand I have, very expensive─one of my most prized possessions─but no costumer has ever wanted it. They called it The Cursed Wand. I wonder if it'll fit."

The man disappeared down the unending aisle again before returning with a jet black box with the gold engraved Ollivander's logo. It stood out among the various white, red, blue, green, pink and yellow boxes that had piled as the minutes drew on.

"I don't think Hadrian would want a cursed wand, Mr. Ollivander." Madeline commented from where she was leaning against one of the large windows.

The man waved off her concern, "The wand's not cursed at all, Ms. Rouge."

"Here it is, Mr. Potter," He opened the box and presented the light grey and black wand to Hadrian, "Whomping Willow with Suicide Tree secondary woodwork, the core is a Banshee's Vocal Cords, 9 ¾", Tough."

Hadrian grinned down at the wand, feeling a heat bloom in his gut at the sight of it─his breath came quicker. Without hesitating, he snatched the beautiful wand out of Ollivander's hand. Almost instantly he felt a sharp burst of warmth before the wand sent out a froth of cold calm up his arm, centering him like an anchor. It felt like a final piece of himself clicked into place.

A slow grin spread across his lips as he twirled the wand this way and that. Surprising both himself and Madeline─the wand cooed softly at him. He blinked down at the piece of wood in bamboozlement.

Ollivander let out a laugh, "That's your wand, Mr. Potter. A very difficult wand to bond with as it sometimes contradicts itself. Drawn to the dark arts, but capable of light magic too. The Willow is drawn to people with insecurities, but have a large capacity for greatness. It's also somewhat healing. But as its crafted from a whomping Willow tree, it's drawn to people prone to wildness. However be warned, it will feed on your memories and emotions erratically to strengthen your bond. It thrives on your insecurities, Mr. Potter─not a wand I'd expect from a dueler.

"The Suicide Tree is very rare and means you have a potential for cruelty, the Banshee's vocal cords are also rare for a wand─it gives it a form of sentience. It will croon and hum and whimper. Slightly resistant to casting non-verbal spells. It makes wizards uncomfortable, but it's a very loyal companion that will aid you greatly in your future adventures, Mr. Hadrian. I expect you'll do great things. Please treat it well."

"I'll care for this wand as well as I care for myself, Mr. Ollivander. It's a part of me now."

Chapter Text

CHAPTER II

❝the friends you make along the way❞
➺ ➻ ➺

The man sat in front of his fireplace in the darkness. The writhing flames painted paranormal shadows across his worried face. There were no sounds to be heard in his den besides the unpredictable pops and crackles of the firewood. He took another sip of his whiskey, wanting to savour it but too troubled to do so. His eyes fell to his letter again, taking note of certain sentences and briefly considered rephrasing them.

Ah but it's too late now, he thought, It was too late the moment I shook hands with the Crouches.

He wished he had been better to his wife. Doria was dutiful, always. She'd given him the best son a man could ask for and she'd hardly ever made her displeasure with him known but he always saw it; in the indifferent eyes and strained smiles, the dispassionate kisses. But he'd done that to himself hadn't he? Yet again he'd ruined everything.

For a second, fear struck at him and his gaze dropped to the letter again─somehow fearing that they'd just know what he was doing but he'd checked his study for charms (which was ridiculous considering they'd only been here once, all the while within his eye sight.) Maybe he should burn the letter, his family would know who to avoid wouldn't they?

But a part of him shuddered at the thought of leaving them without a warning. He was about to instigate what could potentially be the start of political warfare. He couldn't leave them blind. Sighing he downed the last of his whiskey and took off the ring that marked him as the head of their family, a simple silver band with blue vines of sapphire. He placed it on top of the letter before standing─his shadow pitching forward onto the walls, long enough to belong to that of a giant.

Gathering his resolve he transfigured his tie to a long spiel of rough rope. His fingers shook. He would have been too afraid to die if he wasn't so scared of living continuously looking over his shoulders. He liked the easy way. He stood on top of the expensive coffee table, attaching the rope a little distance away to one of the newly placed hooks in the ceiling before wrapping it around his neck.

He thought of his son, how much this was going to hurt him and how different his life was going to be here on now─he could no longer be a boy, he had to become a man. And in such little time too. It wasn't enough for him to hesitate, as he was always a self-centered man.

The rope was pulling him sideways and digging into his neck, so he stepped off the table without thought (though he briefly wondered if the distance wouldn't be great enough). Then he was gagging, dancing; his body twitching and flailing on the noose─his hands very much wanting to grab at his neck. If his wife had slept in their shared bedroom like they used to when they had just gotten married, she might have heard the noise, but for once he was grateful for their strained distance.

He jerked one, two, three more times before the scent of urine filled the air─soon to be followed by something much worse after. His body twitched sporadically as it twirled slowly in the air like a morbid musical box, a figurine dancing to a haunting tune. And then he was dead.

Let it be said, that he was a man of consistency for he died as he lived: a selfish, selfish man.

✥ ✥ ✥

One of the walls was made completely out of glass windows, allowing Hadrian to overlook the other buildings of Huddlesworth. Hadrian found the motorvehicles curious as he remembered Uncle Vernon having a car more advanced than these, it was almost as though the Wizarding World didn't want to let carriages go─instead sticking to more rustic and humped vehicles. To his delight, he spied a horse-pulled carriage trotting down the cobblestone path of Brumstone Avenue.

From all the way up there, Hadrian could see the Great Forge better, as well as the Ministry building (could see it from anywhere in the city as it was built in the center of it all.) His Semargl let out a deep howl that raised the hair on his arms. She was supposed to stay at the Bugwood but considering he wouldn't see her during his entire school term, he opted to bring her with him until he left for school. However, she was a bit restless being cooped up in here all day instead of running off into the woods whenever she pleased.

Speaking of, he glanced at the large grandfather clock in the corner of the room. It's huge face filled with water as time flowed on before magically emptying itself. Madeline had disappeared over two hours ago without word. A servant entered his room with a knock before politely placing down a tray with an assortment of pastries and a pot of tea.

"Where's Madeline?"

"She's just returned, m'lord." The servant shot him a smile, she had a French accent and had taught him the language when he was younger just for fun, "She ordered me to bring this to y─"

"And thank you for doing so, Camille." Madeline said as she entered with a large box-shaped item under a silk covering.

Hadrian quirked a brow and Madeline excused the servant out of the room before placing the item (which turned out to be a little cage) onto the table.

"I was summoned...by your mother, little lord."

"Not so little anymore," Hadrian teased instead of focusing on why it made him somewhat angry that his mother was more willing to summon his steward than him.

"She sent a gift. Since you can't take Annaiese with you." Madeline removed the white cloth to reveal a silver cage.

Within it was a cat so black, Hadrian felt like he was looking into the void─or the complete absence of colour. It's eyes were grey like his own in certain lights when it didn't look partially blue. He opened the cage to let the creature out, but instead of running straight at him it sat there tilting it's head curiously.

His wand─which he'd named Trinket─hummed thoughtfully before going silent. He had had her for more than a month but it still took him off guard when it did that. Madeline shifted uneasily but remained silent. Hadrian reached for the cat and it licked his index finger before pushing its nose in his hand. He scooped the cat up and looked at it this way and that.

"Mr. Shadow Man," Hadrian said with a grin, "That's what I'll name him."

"As it pleases you, Hadrian." Madeline said with a grimace, "Don't get too distracted by him that you forsake your studies."

Hadrian's head shot up, "I'm perfectly responsible! Annaiese has been here this entire time and I've been diligent!"

Said wolf snarled from somewhere in the room.

He turned to see that Annaiese was chewing up the clothing Zachary had laid out for him.

Madeline sighed.

✥ ✥ ✥

Madam Malkin's was a quirky shop that sold numerous robes to numerous wizards and was known for its high standards. The madam herself liked to come out and greet her guests, measuring them herself and making polite gossip as her assistants aided her in tailoring said robes to fit.

The woman was fitting a black Hogwarts robe on another boy as Hadrian entered. Madeline gave her a respectful nod as the woman perked up at their entry. Her assistants took over easily as the woman made her way down the platform near the mirrors to approach the pair.

She eyed Hadrian curiously and he acknowledged her gaze briefly before returning his attention to the boy, "Hadrian Potter, a pleasure to meet you."

Madeline shook the woman's hand by proxy.

"Potter?" The woman's eyes widened, "Well I never. Never thought I'd see the day, you need Hogwarts robes I'm guessing? Or maybe Durmstrang? I hear they're making some highly seasoned warriors now─"

"That won't be necessary, Madam Malkin," Madeline interrupted gently, "Hogwarts, if you please."

The dark haired boy, currently being outfitted gave Hadrian a curious look. While Madeline and Malkin were conversing Hadrian quirked a brow at the boy who quickly looked away. He looked the same age as Hadrian yet there was something distinctly baby-ish about him, as though he'd only just lost the fat of his childhood and didn't know how to operate in the flesh suit he presently made.

Madeline helped him shrug out of his jacket and folded it over her arms as the woman guided him up on a platform next to the other boy's─talking to Madeline the whole while she did so.

"Hadrian Potter. Pleased to meet your acquaintance," Hadrian said to break the ice, his quick smile felt awkward.

He hated initiating conversation because he didn't know what the other would say in return and then he'd have to form new plans to swing the conversation in his favour─then keep it there. Maybe he overcomplicated things, but he didn't like the idea of someone leaving a conversation and walking away not liking him. Hadrian liked people who liked him. Everything was easier that way.

"I heard." The boy said, his voice was slightly husky but it didn't suit his shy demeanor, "Neville Longbottom. Nice to meet you too, I guess."

Hadrian broke into a more genuine smile this time, "You're an October-child, like me."

Neville winced (and Hadrian was only 75% sure it wasn't due to the assistants poking him with needles).

Hadrian laughed, "It sucks, doesn't it? Never thought I'd get the chance to be on the other end of that."

Almost as if in retaliation, Neville asked, "Never thought I'd see a living Potter, either. Everyone says your line died out years ago."

Neville flinched then, as if shocked by his own rudeness, "I'm sorry I had no right─"

"No," Hadrian said carefully, watching the boy in the large mirror, "you didn't. But it's alright, people are more fun when they have spirit."

Neville snorted self-loathingly, "You're not gonna find much of that here, sadly. My Gran likes to joke that when the Lord of All Creation made me, he had sent me off half-empty."

"That's a whole half filled though," Hadrian pointed out, playing along, "we'll just have to find something else to fill you up with. Which is nice because unlike everybody else, you'll get to choose what you're filled with."

Neville looked up at him then, his eyebrows furrowing as if he didn't understand what circle of hell Hadrian crawled out from before breaking out into a weak but pure smile then looked away. Hadrian gave him the courtesy of pretending he didn't notice the way the boy's dark blue eyes watered slightly.

The silence was broken a few minutes after when the boy hesitantly asked, "What do mean by 'we'? Earlier. When you said─"

He trailed off.

Hadrian gave a thoughtful look, "Well. We're both going to Hogwarts, aren't we? I could use a friend. And I think October-children should stick together, our lives suck enough already as is."

Tutor Josephine had told him how the Longbottoms had managed to keep Neville's birth a secret and was only relieved when the prophecy child turned out to be Hadrian. Though people question the truth of the prophecy since no dark lord had revealed itself and Lily refused to talk about what had occurred the night of James' death.

The dark haired boy gave Hadrian a dimpled smile, "I'd like that."

"Are you going to the Ministry ball tonight?" The Potter Lord asked him casually.

Neville shook his head, "I don't like them, everyone's so pretentious and playing underhanded politics just to mess with your head. My parents would be there though I haven't seen them in a while."

Hadrian furrowed at that, "Weird."

Neville laughed, "Yeah, weird. I'm guessing you're going?"

Hadrian gave Madeline a look over his shoulder, causing the assistants to pause their many fixings. The woman shot him a thumbs up and a small reassuring wink.

"Yeah. People need to know that House Potter isn't dead, it lives as long as I do."

Neville nodded in understanding, "Well, good luck tonight, Hadrian. Last night there was a suicide─"

"Don't scare the young lad off, Longbottom." Madam Malkin said testily before cupping Hadrian's face, "You'll do fine, sweetie. The Ministry will just eat you right up."

Hadrian and Neville shared a terrified glance with each other before breaking out into laughter.

✥ ✥ ✥

The Ministry ball was held in a large castle turned venue location decorated quite extensively with frosty whites and glittering glass, a palace fit for all the high blooded folk of the Wizarding world decked out in all their dazzling jewels and dripping veins of gold. A flash of pale skin here, a fluttering laugh down the hall there, an expensive tie matching the shine of a luxurious pair of shoes.

That was only the main hall that led to the ball itself. The ball was an opportunity for the Ministry to celebrate the new year of Hogwarts students that would hopefully be joining the high ranks of the Ministry's society. Lords would be currying favour with certain Politikers and Aurors to ensure a position for their sons and daughters even if they fail to leave a mark at the Auror school. Ladies will be pawning their sons and daughters to other Houses to strengthen the influence of their own.

Hadrian slowly made his way down the glamorous hall, listening to the sounds of music, laughter, hushed conversation, and the two girls gossiping with each other in their mint and peach dresses. He watched these people, born with so much privilege they walked as if they owned this castle and everyone within. They belonged there. Draped in necklaces filled with so many precious gems they could by lesser men an entire house, scented by perfumes and fragrances so sweet they felt like a love potion in their own right, in dresses and suits made out of such fine material they seemed otherworldly─Hadrian didn't understand how he was born one of them.

For a second he felt out of place, despite all the finery he was clothed in, despite the money his household spent on the daily to keep it fully functioning, despite how many languages he spoke or how many texts he'd read─he still felt like that little abused boy starving in the Dursley household. He felt his mood plummet, vaguely aware it was the wand in his pocket, bringing these emotions to light and feeding off them.

What was he thinking, thinking that he could rub shoulders with men and women such as these? That he could be one of them? Accepted by them? Pureblood or no, it seemed impossible─

A girl was arguing with the doorman who stood at entrance to the main ball, Hadrian's feet had taken him closer without his knowledge. The red haired girl was dressed in a pale coral dress that hugged her form perfectly and almost blended in with her delicate skin, she was accompanied by a taller red headed boy who's arm she clutched.

"What do you mean I'm not on the list? I'm a Weasley." The girl snapped.

The man nodded, "I'm aware of that, Ms. Weasley but the Weasley's aren't on the list."

The girl scoffed, "Oh hunkypunk, all nobles of noble households are allowed entry to Ministry balls─the Ministry wrote that itself!"

"Yes, but your family has to be considered a noble household to gain entry─that is, the House must be written in the books."

"The Weasley's are written in the books, my good sir." The ginger man spoke this time, "We've been attending these balls for centuries."

"And as if said previously, you're not allowed in anymore." The man said softly, "The Weasley family has been struck out from the books."

"By whom?" the girl snapped.

"By, one Mr. Lucius Malfoy, Ms. Weasley."

"That slithering snake!" The girl exclaimed, earning a few looks.

The boy squeezed her arm, "Take it easy, Ginevra."

She shook his arm off, "Why would he even─"

The doorman cut in, "Mr. Malfoy claims that the Weasley household has not been a true House in centuries as you do not meet the land requirements, the financial requirement or the educational background. As such, he saw it fit to strike your name from the book. It was not a personal decision."

The girl nodded, "Oh yeah, I'm sure it isn't. Let's go Charlie."

Hadrian watched as the girl stormed off with her companion in tow. He wondered if Lucius took the Potters off the noble Houses list before gathering his courage and wearing it like an aristocratic mask of indifference before straightening and walking towards the doorman.

"And you are...?" The man asked irritably, eyeing Hadrian's fine clothes but remaining doubtful.

"Hadrian Joven Potter." Hadrian will admit it stroked his ego just a bit to see the man's eyes widened comically before blinking a few times as if to clear it from an illusion.

The man hesitantly stepped aside before opening the double doors and Hadrian took a small step inside. The door led way to a grand staircase that he would have to descend before entering the swarm of nobles that populated the vast opulent ballroom. Casting the Sonorous charm the man announced his full name as Hadrian took a step down the staircase.

The sudden silence in the room was deafening. He felt the burn of all the curious eyes on him, taking in the colours of his expensive clothing; the deep crimson and gold of House Potter. He wore his father's colours true and he wore them proud. He took his time descending the stairs, his eyes locking on one Narcissa Malfoy who stood next to her husband in a form fitting yet elegant silver and black gown. Her grey eyes were slightly widened with poorly veiled shock and she rose a hand to her mouth.

If Lucius was confused by her actions, he didn't show it. After all, Narcissa had never given him the name of the bastard son she had sired behind his back all those years ago. Hadrian took her in with intense detail before looking away. He had finally met her and she had finally seen him. The last time Narcissa had seen her baby boy was when she held him against her breast while James readied everything to take him away.

The crowd slowly continued their festivities as Hadrian walked among them, though he gained a few passing glances and muttered whispers as he did so. A servant passed with a tray of champagne and he took one as his eyes scanned the grand room. The music was back in full swing before long. The first person to approach him was a blonde girl with deep green eyes.

She flashed him a devious grin before holding out her hand for a quick kiss, "Astoria Greengrass. The pleasure's all yours, of course."

Hadrian smirked, "Charming. I love a girl who's desperate enough to compliment herself."

She gaped in shock before breaking out in fluttering laughter, "I've yet to meet a man who could compliment me better than I do myself, Lord Potter."

"And I've yet to meet a girl as feisty as you portray yourself to be, Lady Greengrass." He took a sip from his glass before shooting her a wink.

She squeezed his arm playfully, "You should meet my sister then, Daphne's an absolute nightmare. But I guess it has an endearing quality, Barty seems to just adore her. A match made in Hell I'd say."

"I can't tell if you love her or if you hate her." Hadrian said, titling his head slightly.

"Can't it be a bit of both?" Astoria asked with faux whimsy, "Life is not so black and white, Hadrian dear. You can hate someone as fiercely as you love them, it's what makes us human."

Hadrian wondered at that, "Is that how you see humanity then, Ms. Greengrass? Love and hate intertwined?"

The blonde leaned in as if to share a secret, her diamonds sparkling on her breasts and her fragrance like the cooling touch of a long time lover, "I deem humanity as a candle stick of intense passions burning out at both ends. I see humanity as something to be loved and something to be thoroughly hated. It's what makes us humans, it's what makes us monsters."

Hadrian noted the intelligent gleam in her eyes, he wondered if she was talking about something entirely different now.

Seeing his probing look she chuckled, a light melodious thing that couldn't even be plucked from a harp or a well seasoned lute, "I kid. I get too passionate about things sometimes, I just want to experience everything life has to offer is all─we're all so sheltered in our guided cages. Wouldn't you do anything to get a chance to fly away? Don't answer, that's rhetorical."

Hadrian grinned and she smiled at him, "You're like a breath of fresh air, Astoria."

Her eyes widened and he continued, "And now that you have me invested in your life journey, I'd be honored to see where it takes you. You'll do such amazing things and I'll both love you and hate you fiercely for it."

She caught on, her eyes crinkling in laughter─a blush forming on her cheeks, "Alright, you win. I'm yours to compliment as you please."

"Such a noble sacrifice, my lady." Hadrian teased and she squeezed his arm playfully again before fixing her deep green dress.

"I know. Sister says I'm too kind to the less fortunate." She joked along, "Say...are you planning on attending Hogwarts? Us Slytherins should stick together, is all."

And just like that, reality shifted back into place. Here he was, in a den of wolves dressed up like fancy sheep. Fangs hidden, venom unspoken. Astoria was a beautiful girl, her joy and fire were genuine, but so was the iconic green and bronze of her clothes─colours of House Greengrass─her eyes that twinkled with such spirit were also calculating. A Slytherin through and through; well bred, beautiful, educated and ambitious before all else. Manipulation and cunning were written in the very marrows of her bones.

Hadrian was no Slytherin, he preferred to be blunt than subtle. He didn't think he was cut out for the patience and the intense calculation it took to fight your enemies with nothing but your mind and a few allies. He had heard tales of Astoria's mother, how she had once killed a man with her poison seven years before he actually died. The Sun Will Rise Once More, their motto said─but the Greengrasses had no intention of letting it set in the first place.

Potters were Gryffindors. Still, his mother was a Malfoy and a Black, both families entirely Slytherin. He had inherited it by birthright and if he wanted to be the best Auror to grace the halls of Hogwarts, it wouldn't hurt to surround himself with the right type of friends─friends who strove to the best in all things. Astoria had approached him, and opted to be entirely genuine when she could have acted as though he was simply another noble from their high society. She could make a good friend. And was also a Slytherin─she could make a deadly enemy.

Giving her a charming smile he replied, "I agree, as I'm new it would be nice to have some friends."

She smiled, pleased, "Oh don't you worry, Hadrian-dear. I'll introduce you to my inner circle and my best friend. He'll love you. The rest will work itself out."

Hadrian nodded to her in thanks. He took a passing glass of champagne and handed the bubbly drink to the blonde.

The short girl trailed her hand down his bicep, but Hadrian didn't think she was flirting with him─she seemed the cuddling type, "Don't look, but Undersecretary Riddle is looking this way. He's been staring at us this entire time."

Hadrian smirked. The Wizarding World was already so much fun.

Chapter Text

➺ ➻ ➺
CHAPTER III
❝ladders of chaos❞
➺ ➻ ➺

Before Hadrian could consider looking towards the man, the small live orchestra ended their symphony and the guests of the Ministry Ball paused all conversation to slide into polite applause. Astoria was pulled away by a dark skinned boy who gave Hadrian a respectable nod before drifting away with the girl in the crowd. It wasn't too long before the music started again─a well-known refrain from an overused symphony before transforming into a waltz.

A cool hand tucked a lock of his silky hair behind his ear and it took everything in Hadrian not to flinch. Narcissa Malfoy stood next to him before coming directly in his eyesight. Her grey eyes met his and Hadrian absently noted that she was slightly taller than him. He silently cursed his slight stature.

Her eyes traced his face as intently as he traced hers and Hadrian remembered that this was the first time she was seeing him. Was she disappointed with how he turned out? Pleased? Did she see traces of herself in him or did she see only his deceased father?

"Joven." Was her first official words to him and a small splintered part of Hadrian ached deeply at the two syllables.

He didn't know how much he wanted this moment until he was here, standing in front of his mother and speechless.

"Narcissa." He replied curtly, because a part of him wanted her to hurt.

The same bitter part of him that was still that small child living and sleeping and pissing in a cupboard with nothing but hand-me-down clothes for a bed and fear for company. The same part of him that longed for a mother's hug and a goodnight kiss even though he knew it was childish and would probably even now, never receive it.

Her slight flinch,p hurt him more as she tried to hide it. This was the woman who did her best to rescue him from his own personal hell as soon as she found out he was alive. This was the woman who removed him from a cupboard and made a manor his home. Who bought him his clothes and knew his shoe size. Who transferred money diligently from her husbands accounts into his own even though he didn't need it because she couldn't stand the thought of him lacking anything. Who surrounded him with a household who grew to be his personal family. Who denied herself pictures of him to even the playing field.

This was the woman who wrote to him tirelessly and endlessly, who never forgot his birthday and had spoiled him ceaselessly with things he had no need of. He owed her better than a cold detached greeting as if she had done him some personal wrong.

"I'm sorry, Mother." But the word felt too formal for what they shared after years of writing to her as 'Mommy'.

Still, she got his sentiment as her cold countenance softened and a small smile tugged at her lips as she reached out hesitantly to touch his soft warm cheek before touching his dark hair again. Hair so differently from her white-blonde locks.

"Your hair is long." She murmured softly.

A sheepish grin tugged at his lips, "I usually keep it in bangs but my hair is straight so last year I decided to grow it out. Just to try something different."

His hair was just a little past his chin now, curling slightly beneath his ear where she had tucked the stray lock.

"It's lovely." She commented gently before memorizing his face again, "I imagined your voice to be a little deeper, truth be told. But you're lovely. More perfect than I thought you'd be."

"Mom..." Hadrian murmured, because how was he supposed to reply to that?

He had wanted her approval so badly, but found that he didn't know how to operate in the face of it. Their first meeting wasn't going according to script.

"Forgive me, that was too much." She blinked to clear her eyes of her unshed tears, "It's just that─"

"It's alright. I understand," Hadrian noted she smelt like grapefruits and caramel, "I've been waiting so long to meet you too."

She furrowed as though that statement particularly bothered her, "My love─"

But she was interrupted.

"I was wondering where you'd gone off too." Lucius Malfoy stated as he sidled up to his wife, his arm automatically finding her waist, "Can't be too careful with you after all."

His mother rolled her eyes at his teasing before looking back at Hadrian, her expression pinched. After all, Lucius had no idea that his wife's bastard was James Potter's heir. Hadrian imagined he wouldn't like that at all.

"Lucius, this is Hadrian Potter. I've only just gotten my paws on him," Narcissa told her husband, "He's simply charming."

The blonde man offered him a nod, eyeing his features with particular interest, "It's a shame what happened to your father."

Hadrian had enough. He wasn't going to stand here and play along with this oblivious charade.

"I didn't know him." Hadrian said callously (ignoring his mother's frown and Lucius' raised brow in confusion) before turning and heading straight for the exit.

He'd rubbed shoulders with these people far longer than he had planned to in the first place. Right now, he just wanted to curl up in his bed at home.

"Hadrian!" She called out to him, reaching out as if to physically stop him from leaving her side again.

He didn't turn back. It hurt too much to.

On his way to the staircase Lily Evans moved out of his way, her green eyes meekly looking away from him─almost as if she couldn't bare to do otherwise.

✥ ✥ ✥

Madeline stood with him in the Wizarding train station. The train routes on the huge boards were constantly switching and flickering, almost as though it was mirroring the hustle and bustle of the wizards that were swarming about. Madeline had already purchased his ticket to board the Hogwarts Express and she was verbally running through a list to spot if he'd forgotten anything, promising to owl it to him if he did.

Other teenagers just like him were frantically pulling trolleys and carts filled with luggage while parents were giving their children extra hugs and kisses to last the school term. He spotted three pale blonde heads in the distance almost as if he was looking for them.

There stood Narcissa and Lucius with a blonde teenaged boy. Hadrian didn't know why it surprised him, of course his mother would have birthed a child with her husband. Lord Malfoy was talking to his son who was looking back at him dispassionately. Narcissa's face was softer towards the boy than Lucius but still somewhat serious, yet still she pulled him into a gentle hug.

"Hadrian are you listening?" Madeline inquired, her lipstick red lips pinched.

"Oui." He smirked, "I'll miss you."

"Of course you will, you're not used to being anywhere other than home." Madeline frowned and set about straightening his clothes to keep her hands busy, "But I will miss you dearly as well. It won't be the same without you hiding in the library."

He rolled his eyes at her just as they were told to board. Gathering his strength, he headed over to the boarding ramp before spearing her one last look. She had a bittersweet smile on her lips as she mouthed 'I love you' to him, which filled his chest with a warm ache that made him want to clutch the feeling close. He mouthed the affection back before shrinking all his trunks and chest (on which he'd cast a weightless spell) and shoving them in his pockets before boarding.

The train smelled of leather and polished wood and the dark hallways were illuminated by warm light while the compartments were illuminated by the windows. He found an empty compartment relatively easy and was immensely grateful for it as he had been receiving curious stares the minute he boarded the train. Apparently the news of his return to the Wizarding World had spread from the Ministry Ball.

He placed Mr. Shadow Man's cage onto the seat next to his while he removed the shrinking spells from his luggage and placed them over head. Alone with the sound of an empty compartment and muffled conversation from the compartments next door where childhood friends chattered and giggled, Hadrian suddenly felt out of place. Muggleborns and foreign wizards aside, everyone else were already acquainted with each other. It would make it somewhat difficult to form new friendships and bonds.

And what exactly was he going to say to them? He had nothing interesting to talk about! Abruptly he stopped, finally realizing that it was just his wand, Trinket that was leeching off his insecurities again. Needing a distraction, he remembered he had packed a novel on Cthulhu for whenever the train ride got too boring.

He had just removed the novel from his messenger bag when the door to his compartment opened.

A red haired boy with lots of freckles poked his head in, "Willing to share a compartment, mate?"

Hadrian did what he did best. He slipped his mask back on. Giving a languid shrug and mysterious curl of his lips he looked the boy directly in the eye long enough to make him uncomfortable before looking down at his book, dismissive.

The ginger shuffled around on his feet awkwardly before deciding to take the seat anyway.

"The name's Ron. Ronald Weasley." His new companion said as he unceremoniously dropped his sole trunk by his feet.

"Hadrian Potter." Hadrian said almost as an after thought as now that he was in someone else's company he remembered he wasn't a big fan of small talk.

Or people.

Maybe it was just him but this compartment was kind of small?

"Potter? Potter you said?" Ron clarified, "Well isn't that all fancy. I heard all the potters were dead."

Hadrian used a lot of self restraint not to roll his eyes, "I must be a ghost then."

Ron laughed, the sound so obnoxious and unexpected (especially when paired with a horror cult novel) that Hadrian almost jumped. Instead, his fingers tightened around the book, his knuckles turning a bit more white.

Just as he managed to refocus on his book, the sound of ripping candy wrappers filled the compartment. Then the sound of smacking lips. Hadrian's left eye twitched.

"Blimey!" Ron exclaimed, "You must be a good luck charm, I got a limited edition James Potter card. I was trying to get this one all summer last year."

As Hadrian looked up the boy helpfully thrusted the card in his face. No matter how many times he'd seen posters or pictures with his father, the budding bloom of hero worship never faded.

Seeing the longing expression Ron shoved the card closer to him, "You can keep it, mate."

The Potter heir shook his head, "It's limited edition and you clearly want it more than me."

Ron shrugged, "So? I'll get another one eventually. More excuse to eat more chocolate."

Hadrian gently moved his hand away, "No really it's okay."

Ron placed it near him anyway, "Fine then. You're just borrowing it permanently. Like the bank. You'll be my humanoid vault, keep him safe."

Hadrian gave up in defeat, feeling somewhat more fond of the boy and not knowing how that had managed to happen, "I'll buy you all the chocolate you could dream of until you get another one of those cards. I promise."

The ginger blushed, suddenly flustered, "I uh─it's not that serious, mate. You don't owe me anything, I swear. No need to waste your money on me─that's─that's a lot of chocolate."

"And I have a lot of money so what's the problem?" Hadrian's tone left no room for argument.

The Weasley boy suddenly took in Hadrian's crossed legs, his posture, the mannerisms Madeline had instructed into him for years, the easy aloofness of nobility that was in fact very hard to master. He only just realized the expensive material of Hadrian's clothing and the stitching of his jacket. He rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. Hadrian felt like he made a misstep somewhere but he couldn't figure out where. He refused to look down at his clothes self-consciously even though he suddenly wanted to. He placed his arm over the back of the seat connected to his and tilted his head at the boy in lazy inquiry.

Ron drifted his gaze to the passing outside scenery through the window. The greenery would only get richer as they got closer to Scotland. It didn't take long for either of them to note the awkward silence, Hadrian returned his attention to H.P. Lovecraft's mythos and Ron fiddled awkwardly with his rat that he was carrying around.

A trembling coo melted into the air and Hadrian sighed, maybe he shouldn't have decided to read horror stories on his way to the Auror school.

Meanwhile Ron startled, "What the blood hell was that?"

Hadrian shot him a look over his book, "My wand."

"Your....wand."

"That's what I said, yes."

Ron shifted in his seat nervously, "That noise came from your wand."

"Yes, as I just said."

"Never heard a wand that can make noise like that─"

Just then the door to their compartment opened and a girl with curly hair stood before them looking somewhat frazzled, "Sorry to bother, but Neville lost his toad. Any chance you've seen one?"

Ron shook his head but Hadrian inquired, "Neville? Neville Longbottom?"

Her eyes widened as she looked at him, her cheeks blooming into a blush as she awkwardly patted her hair down before stepping in and shutting the door again.

Before she could reply however, the door opened again and Hadrian felt a small amount of irritation begin frothing in his stomach, the compartment suddenly felt claustrophobic─his mood froze however when he saw who their unwanted visitor was.

Draco fucking Malfoy.

This wasn't a confrontation he was ready for, as of yet. The boy─his older brother─was unaware of their blood relation, had grown up with both his parents, had been raised and fully integrated into the Wizarding world and wore his privilege like an expensive coat.

The white haired boy cast his cool gaze around the compartment, obviously unimpressed, before focusing on Hadrian, "I heard Potter was on the train and I refused to miss you twice. You didn't give me a chance to even mutter hello at the Ball, Hadrian. One could say you did it on purpose."

Hadrian was trained for Pureblood peacocking and found himself slipping into his role easily, "While Malfoy may be a prominent name, I wasn't aware of your existence then to even think about avoiding you. I did greet your parents however."

Draco smirked, "So I heard. Father said you were most intriguing."

"I'll take it as a compliment." Hadrian drawled.

"Indeed. Father is never easily impressed."

"We'll I'm glad to have made such a good impression."

(Ron and the girl were watching between the two of them like some odd form of high society ping pong match.)

"In such little time too, might I add. With you fleeing from the Ball as you did." Draco tilted his head curiously, "So which is it then? Are you easily overwhelmed or are you our modern age Cinderella?"

To admit to either would be a thinly veiled insult.

Hadrian leaned back in his seat casually (his book long discarded), his arm extended over the back of his seat and his expression one of lightly patronizing amusement, "Perhaps such monotonous galas bore me. Five minutes in and I'd already seen all of it─though I am impressed at your muggle fictional knowledge. That's unexpected. For a Malfoy."

Taken aback, his older sibling blinked a few times before furrowing, "I meant no disrespect."

(He did.)

Draco folded his arms, "And besides, we all know only a fool would go carelessly picking fights with a Potter. I came to introduce myself, a friend of mine spoke highly of you."

Hadrian nodded in acknowledgment to Draco's attempted apology before speaking, "Astoria?"

Draco's countenance lightened, "You remember. Good, she'll be pleased to know she made an impression."

"Likewise, since she's been talking about me." Hadrian commented.

The girl shifted and took a seat next to Ron, grabbing the Malfoy heir's attention.

"And who are you then, love?" He asked as he eyed her suspiciously, "I can't place your face anywhere."

"Hermione. Granger. I'm new─to all this." She piped up eagerly.

Hadrian watched as his half-brother's face went carefully blank, he blinked once, twice, "So you're a muggleborn then."

She nodded, "I'm so excited to le─"

He looked away from her dismissively before focusing on Ron (who had apparently been glaring at him this entire time) and his smug lips pulled into a smug grin, "And you could only be one specific breed, can't you? No other house repeatedly pushes out kin quite so ugly as you Weasleys do. Your mother practically has it down to an art form at this point."

Ron and Hermione both scowled at the boy, though Hadrian was simply intrigued. It wasn't like he expected Lucius' son to be anything other than a douchebag.

"If I'm so ugly why does your mother call me your daddy then." Ron snapped.

"Watch it." Hadrian and Draco said in unison, though in varying degrees of offensive.

Draco gave Hadrian a contemplative look before focusing on Ron again, "Y─"

"I'm sorry," Ron said, not sounding sorry at all, "are you offended? People usually get offended over false insults, it's true."

"Then you have no grounds to be offended either," Draco laughed, "after all, all I said was the truth. Your mother is like one of those muggle contraptions when it comes to giving birth. What's it's called again, Hadrian? Oh that's right, she's a cheap photo copier. Always smears the ink."

("Don't bring me into this." Hadrian told him lazily.)

"Don't talk about my mother like that, Malfoy. I'm warning you."

"Oh?" Draco was enjoying this too much, "So you can make innuendos about my mother but I can't tell you the truth about yours? Funny how that works."

"Don't be such a child!" Hermione quipped, but was inevitably ignored.

"What's good for you, is good for me, Weasley." The blonde drawled.

"That's ironic, considering your father shares a different philosophy." Ron snarked, "He's gone and striked us from the books. What makes you more noble than my family?"

Draco grinned, "Are you really asking that? Look at your life. You're sitting there in low quality clothes, clutching a mangy rat for a familiar, with a muggleborn at your shoulder. It can't get lower than that─actually, it can. You could be surrounded by a bunch of superior people who refuse to acknowledge you as their peers. My father did your household a favour, you're an embarrassment to yourself and you're shaming the rest of us."

"Shut up!" Ron snarled, his face becoming red.

"Are you trying to intimidate me?" Draco laughed lightly, "That's rather cute."

"You are intimidated. That's why your father did it. He's intimidated by the glory of House Weasley." The ginger snapped.

Draco snorted, "What glory? How deluded can one be?"

"We might not be rich, Malfoy, but we're happy and we have morals─"

"Good for you." Draco said as he raised a hand to his chest, his voice filled with such sincerity that Hadrian would have believed him if he didn't know otherwise.

He wondered if he should step in for Ron's honour but he was too entertained. He'd do anything for quality entertainment if he was bored enough.

"Your family is nothing but corrupt, bitter people who have no idea what honour really is." He finished his spiel.

"Well," Draco said with great satisfaction, "at least I'm not a ginger."

Ron jumped to his feet and Hadrian's eyes widened, "You act so dignified even when your family has its own shame too, Malfoy─did you forget your mother was prone to spreading her legs and bearing other quim you slimed snake of an ass, maybe I'll have her nex─"

Draco had his wand pointed at Weasley's throat, "Choose your next words very carefully, bitch. Because the next time you spread lies about my mother again, I'll get thrown in Azkban for sending some vicious Unforgiveables your way. Maybe I'll use the Imperius and make you my personal bitch if I don't end you with the first hex."

Ron's wand was pointed at Draco's chest, "Do. Not. Touch. Me."

"Boys. That's enough." Hadrian finally cut in at Hermione's look, "Come on children, let's all get along."

Draco looked at him from the corner of his eyes before fixing Ron with another scathing look. It took a few seconds but Ron looked away first and Draco removed his wand before taking a step back and nonchalantly fixing his expensive grey jacket with as much dignity as he could muster before looking over at Hadrian again.

"You're a Potter, Hadrian. You could do better than this in the friends department." He said calmly, as if he wasn't about to hex Ron to death, "I can help you there."

"I quite like Ron actually." Hadrian said casually, "I don't know Hermione, but she seems cool. You're how your father would say─intriguing, but I don't appreciate the insults and discord you bring to my friends. It seems like more trouble than it's worth."

"Are you rejecting me?" Draco said, as if he couldn't understand the concept.

"Of course not." Hadrian continued, "But I expect some level of self-restraint with your tongue when you're around them. Keep your opinions to yourself, if you could."

"I can play along." Draco offered his hand.

Hadrian didn't buy it one second.

A smirk tugged at his lips before he shook his brother's hand, "It was a pleasure meeting you, Draco Malfoy."

The Malfoy heir nodded before dropping the handshake and turning to open the compartment door. Before he could touch it however, it slid open. Neville came in holding a toad.

Draco scowled again, "What is this? The Losers Compartment?"

Neville blushed, "Draco."

"It's Malfoy to you, Tallbottom." The blonde snipped.

"I-its Longbottom." Neville corrected.

"I know, I just don't care." Draco brushed past him and slammed the door.

As soon as he was gone Ron exploded, "Why'd you shake his hand? He's an asshole!"

"I know." Hadrian shrugged, "I can be an ass too. He seems like good fun."

"Good fun? Good fun?" Ron scoffed, "Well I'm glad my family was able to give you such wonderful entertainment."

Hadrian frowned, "Ron, you know it's not like that. It just wasn't my place to step in."

"Sure." The ginger folded his arms, "I would have done it for you."

"You're a Gryffindor."

"Potters are Gryffindors."

"Touché."

"Umm." Neville cut in, "Hi. I just came to tell Hermione I found my toad."

Hadrian focused on his old acquaintance, "Neville! Are you still half-empty or are you half-filled today?"

Neville looked surprised at the acknowledgment but gave him a pleased smile, "Half-filled, if you don't mind. Thank you."

Hadrian laughed before patting the seat next to him. When the boy was seated he looked down at the toad.

"You know," Hadrian started, "I don't believe toads actually exist."

Hermione furrowed, "What on earth do you mean?"

"I just think there's only frogs." Hadrian shrugged, "Maybe one day I'll research it."

Neville and Hermione snorted, the mood in the cramped compartment suddenly lightening.