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"Welcome my most loyal," Lord Voldemort is sitting on his thrown in Slytherin Manor overlooking his death eaters. Today this meeting held only his inner circle people he deems his closest friends, allowing him to drop his glamor. The hideous snake-like skin melts away to reveal a handsome Tom Riddle, roughly the age of 45 thanks to a ritual Severus Snape and Lucius Malfoy found to rejuvenate not just his body but his mind as well.

"It is so good to see you, my friends. I feared I would be trapped within the confines of my own mind for eternity."

"It's very good to have to back, my Lord," a very sane Bellatrix acknowledged. Now that her master had him mind restored she didn't need to keep up her own maniacal act of insanity.

Just as Lucius was about to express his own joy of having one of his greatest friends back there's the sound of distant yelling and various curses being thrown.

Voldemort quickly makes an appearance as does the Death Eaters' masks just as the main double doors burst open to reveal a cloaked figure, one guard dragging the small body to the feet of his leader.

"This was found on the edge of the wards, my Lord." The word this was punctured by a sharp kick to the person's side enticing a whimper. "He was looking for a way in to try to get to you. I thought it better to bring his him to you, my Lord." After receiving an absentminded nod the soldier turns and heads back to his post.

"Reveal yoursssself," Voldemort's hissy voice talks down on the person who dares try to cross his wards. Observing the poorly hidden shiver of fear the figure raises his head to reveal vibrant green eyes. The color of the killing curse.

"Harry Potter. To what do I owe the pleasssssure of thisss unsssscheduled visssit?"

"I wanna make a deal," Harry doesn't meet anyone's eye. He doesn't even both to raise from Voldemort's feet. "I have a bag in my cloak whos items may be of interest to you." His voice is calm, even, and slightly slow, as if trying to prevent it from quivering from nerves. Slowly, as to not startle any of the others into pulling out their wands, he reaches into the inside pocket of his robe and pulls out a small leather pouch.

"And why would that pouch interesssst me?" raising a nonexistent eyebrow Voldemort tries to rack his brain of everything important enough for Harry Potter to come and deliver. The only thing that would be of any significance is...

"These are your Horcruxes." He finally looks up, confessing what he's brought directly to Voldemort's blood red eyes. "And you can have all 5 under one condition."


"Yes, your diary, the locket, the ring, the cup, and the crown. I know Nagini is one as well but you already have her..." the Gryffindor trails off looking at the floor once more.

"Crown? You mean Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem but nevermind the technicalities. What isss sssstoping me from killing you and taking what isss rightfully mine," the low hissing sounds are meant to install fear.

"Nothing." It's a fact. Voldemort is much stronger and has years of experience in the art of dueling. He also has the advantage of his supporters to back him up if needed. "B-but where's the honor in that?" Harry rushes out the last sentence in case Voldemort decides to strike him down where he stands.

"I sssuppossse you're correct. What isss it you sssseek chossssen one?"

Instead of answering right away Harry rolls up the sleeves of his cloak to reveal a think white cuff on each arm almost like a cast going from his wrist all the way down both of his forearms. "I need you to take them off."

"Can the great Albus Dumbledore not perform a ssssimple charm to remove your cuffssss himself? He had to ssssend you all the way to your enemy to recccceive help?" Inside Tom is both curious and suspicious. Is this another one of his elaborate schemes to rid the world of the supposed Dark Lord.

"I never said that Dumbledore sent me," raising to his feet he thrust his arms out. "Do you want your Horcruxes or am I wasting my time?"

Voldemort lazily takes out his wand and runs a scan of magic down the boy, the subsequent flinch and full body shiver is something Voldemort takes note of and logs for later. Finding no curses or jinx upon the boy another flick of his wrist has the cuffs melting off Harry's skin.

Almost instantly Harry's appearance starts to change. His tan, sun-kissed skin fades into a sickly pale gray along with bruises materializing all along his face and now clear arms. Only now do the people of the room notice how bloody and disheveled the preteen's robes are, which is now incredibly baggy due to the boy's new smaller size.

There are a few seconds of stunned silence where the child only stares at his battered, bruised hands before whispering a single word and turning to apparate away.


Chapter Text

It took a full week for Tom to find where Potter had been sent to after the death of his parents. Apparently, Dumbledore found it fitting to send the savior of the Wizarding World to his only living relatives. A couple of ghastly muggles and their pig of a child. Tom knew that something was wrong the moment Harry had approached him several days ago but to see the vast quantities of fat and flesh hanging off his cousin's frame when he barely had skin on his own bones only set his worries in stone.

Taking Lucius and Severus with him, the Dark Lord apparates to number 4 Privet Drive. Upon arrival, the three note that lack of wards. Quietly making their way into the house, they separate. Severus goes up the stairs to search the bedrooms for Potter while Lucius and Voldemort, with his glamor up, go scope out the noises coming from what appears to be the living room.

Before entering the room the pair placed a disillusionment charm on themselves making sure to stay in the dark corners. What they see inside is both extremely confusing and infuriating. Albus Dumbledore sat with Molly Weasley, her youngest son, Ronald, and the Granger girl all of whom Severus had told them were Harry's best friends. The boy himself is knelt down on the floor in the middle of the room, shivering in what can only be fear. He's wearing nothing but pants that can only belong to his grotesquely overweight cousin showing his heavily scarred back and stomach and a deep blush covering his face, ears, and chest. As if the child has anything to be embarrassed about. Voldemort's hatred of the man is only strengthened when he here's what they're saying.

"He's such a useless waste of space, Headmaster. I don't see how he can save anyone," Molly states matter a factly.

"I agree, sir," Ron continues throwing a disgusted look at Harry. "All he does is whine about being in pain."

"I see," Dumbledore has a thoughtful look. "Has that little habit been rectified?"

Of course, headmaster," Granger speaks this time barely looking up from the book her nose is buried in.

"Flagellum!" Long deep lashes appear on Harry's back, blood pouring out of the new wounds. The smallest most heartbreaking whimper leaves the child's mouth but other than that he doesn't even flinch. This doesn't seem to appease Dumbledore as he then sends a violent cutting hex towards the boy.

"Yet he's still making these pathetic noises," he lets out an aggravated breath. "Anything else you must report?"

"Just that he chooses to cry himself to sleep every night. Nothing I do makes him stop," the youngest male Weasley sneers down at his supposed best mate.

"It's not your fault Ronnie that he's so pathetic," Molly consoles her child. It's sickening to watch but just as Tom and Lucius decided to storm in and stop their abuse they feel wards around the room reeking of Dumbledore's magical signature.

The Slytherin duo is forced to watch the scene unravel, neither wanting to leave the child in the event that the wards fall as soon as the old man leaves. Instead, they watch as Harry is made to bleed through various hexes, curses, and even a few jinxes that are considered dark magic until the boy passes out from either fear or blood loss.

"I think he looks thirsty, Headmaster." The Weasley boy rises and picks up a glass of water sitting on the coffee table before approaching Harry. Once directly over the boy, he proceeds to slowly pour the juice onto him until he stirs.

Quickly, almost as if he was never unconscious, Harry sits on his hunched allowing the liquid the flow into his mouth as he hangs upon the redhead's pants leg. After only a few sips Ron dumps the rest onto his friend and makes a hasty retreat back to his seat, snickering as Harry gags and gasp for breath.

"Now everyone," he looks at each person before continuing, letting his eye fall on Harry's shaking form. "I believe that Harry's had enough punishment and should get a reward before being sent to bed." Said boy looks up at his mentor in disbelieve and awe. Both Voldemort and Lucius are disgusted by his reaction. How long do you have to beat someone that the thought of reward gets a look as if he's being crowned king?

Quickly getting to his feet Harry stumbles over to Dumbledore before being swooped on his lap. The aged wizard reaches into his robes and pulls out a small loaf of bread and hands it to the boy. Harry looks at his gift as if Albus took the moon and placed it in his hands.

"I get to eat today?" the implication that concludes he hasn't eaten in a few days twist the heartstrings of the hidden men and causes anger to quickly bloom as the Weasel saunters over to the boy and takes the treat.

"No, please--"

"Shut up!" he barks inciting a flinch. "You're not that desperate. You can stand to share. Don't be so selfish all the time." Ronald then proceeds to tear the bread in half giving himself the bigger piece and tossing the rest at Harry who quickly shoved it all in his mouth before the bigger boy decides to take more.

"Well, Albus I believe it's time I take my leave. Come along children." Without sparing Harry a glance Molly apparates with Ron and Hermione

A sick, twisted smile blossoms onto the headmaster's face, making Lucius's insides crawl and Tom turn away to gather Severus. He doesn't think he can stand to watch whatever else the sadistic old man has planned for the boy.

"Harry, why don't we play a little game?"

"A game?" the innocence locked into those impossibly make Lucius wonder how can someone treat something as precious as a child with so much hatred.

"Yes, I need you to--" He turns Harry around so that they're chest to chest with Harry's legs on either side of Dumbledore-- "stay just like that and relax. Maybe you could rest your eyes for a while," the headmaster croons before snaking his hand between their bodies once he sees Harry's eyes flutter shut.

Harry's eyes fly open as soon as he feels the bush of a hand on his private parts. "No! Icky!" He tries to get away but Dumbledore only cuffs him on the ear, stopping all movement.

"You will never tell me no again. Do you understand?"

"Y-yes s-s-sir."

"Good. I can make you hurt Harry, but I can also make you feel good." Lucius had seen enough. He storms away from the two and quickly makes his way to the front of the house, intending to gather the other. Whatever they can do you break those wards before this escalates into something dangerous will be well worth any problem that may arise later.

He barely makes it halfway to the stairs before a shriek and the sound of glass smashing reverberates throughout the house. Tom and Severus come flying down the stairs and rush with Lucius to the noise.

There, in the room they had just left, Harry lays surrounded by broken glass sobbing his eyes out, pleading not to be hurt. It appears that Dumbledore threw Harry into the coffee table causing it to break and embed itself into the boy's milky skin.

"You disgusting, Freak!" he roars wiping at his robes. It's only then that the three men's attention is directed to the fairly large wet stain on the bright purple garment. Looking at the child they see a similar stain on the boy's pants. Oh

"To wet yourself and the bed is bad enough, but now you've micturated on my person for the first and final time. CRUCIO!" The three Slytherins stand in complete and utter shock from the entryway as the so-called Leader of the Light side tortures his Golden-Boy with the darkest curse known to man.

"AHH--" If thinking that hearing the boy finally make a noise that's above 5 decibels would be a relief they thought wrong. Harry screams loud enough to rattle the windows in the small ugly house for just a second before he's silent once more.

3 minutes. Much too long for anyone even thoroughly trained to keep their sanity let alone a malnourished, heavily abused child. Even if he is the Savior of the Wizarding world. Dumbledore finally loses interest after 3 minutes. This is long enough for Severus, Lucius and Tom to search the wards for any weak spots, and around the house for another way into the room, and gather Harry's meager belongings (an old baby blanket and midnight blue Teddy bear oozing calming and reassurance charms, not unlike the ones typically given to magical children only far stronger) for he was not staying here a second longer than what is absolutely necessary. 3 minutes pass in deafening silence except for Dumbledore's ragged breathing before he finally turns and disapparates, not once looking to make sure Harry isn't damaged beyond repair.

The wards fall instantly with the man's departure and Severus doesn't waste a second in going to Harry and checking him over with various spells.

"He needs multiple potions, bedrest, careful monitoring, and a real meal. Heaven knows when's the last time the child ate something sustainable," Severus speaks out loud but seems to be making a mental note instead of actually referring to the people there.

"He can stay in the guest room in the family wing so we can all keep a close eye on him." Without waiting for a reply Lucius apparates away shortly followed by Severus, Tom, and an unconscious Harry Potter.

They already know it's going to be a long day tomorrow.

Chapter Text

At first only confusion registers in Harry's mind. He hasn't felt this warm and safe since the morning after he won the house cup for Gryffindor. There can only be one explanation. Jumping to attention Harry finds that he's woken up in a bed for the first time in months.

Even at Hogwarts Harry wasn't always good enough to sleep in a bed. Instead, the Headmaster had been kind enough to glamor his small pallet so that his roommates wouldn't find out about his punishments caused by his shameful displays of weakness and sometimes utter disobedience.

The room Harry finds himself in is very decent considering whoever ought to know how poorly he was behaving just the previous night. At least he thinks it was the previous night. Sometime they would go overboard with his punishments and he wouldn't wake up until days later when he would recieve yet another punishment for laziness. No matter how weary he feels at the time.

Shifting in bed, the slight boy decides that he'll be much more useful doing something rather than sitting around. Making a move to get off the bed Harry freezes, cheeks flaming with embarrassment and shame. Feeling the sheets around him, Harry finds them soaked along with his pants and the bottom half of his shirt. All clothes he knows he doesn't own and clearly doesn't deserve judging by the way they are now ruined.

The young Gryffindor is no stranger to wet sheets as he's woken up in them more often than not but to relieve himself on a bed that doesn't belong to him when he doesn't even know where he is or who he's with is beyond mortifying. Not to mention the punishment he will have to endure at the hands of Dumbledore when he catches word of his newest mistake.

Hobbling into the attached bathroom on legs that seem much too thin to support his body, Harry finds various cleaning products under the sink. He strips down the bed and throws the covers and his ruined trousers into the hamper in the bathroom leaving his pants so that he's not walking around half naked.

Spraying the mattress with cleaner, Harry gets to work scrubbing out the yellow stain. He's not sure how long he does this for before he hears footsteps coming from down the hall heading in his direction. Quickly putting everything away the frightened child goes to kneel by the door with his head bowed just as he's been taught to do. Although he doesn't know who will come through the door there is no way he will be seen out of position in case that person decides to tell Dumbledore who will ensure that his punishment is 10 times worse.

The sight was not something Severus thought he'd walk into when he enters to check on Potter and administer his potions. He knew the boy was wake due to the wards set up around the room, but to find the child on the floor and the bed unmade is a shock. It isn't until he notices the slightly faded stain that everything clicks.

"Potter?" said boy flinches at being suddenly addressed as Severus realizes that he isn't going to move without prompt.

"P-professor?" the child glances up before quickly averting his eyes back to the teacher's polished black dress shoes. "Ss-sorry about the m-mess." Severus really hopes that the stuttering is a side effect from the crucio he had been subjected to the previous night and not an overwhelming fear of the man. While he does enjoy installing fear in his students in order to maintain order in the classroom, never should a child be too afraid to even make eye contact with an adult.

"It's quite alright. Accidents happen," pulling out his wand, Harry flinches again trying to stutter out another apology but seemingly unable to, fear gripping onto his vocal cords.

"It's alright. Calm down. Harry. I only wish to set the bed right and then we can have a little chat. Alright?" After the bed is made with new, clean sheets and the child is redressed, it takes a few more minutes to coax Harry to come and sit on the bed. In the end, the boy chooses to sit at the very edge, farthest away from the potion master, nervously playing with his fingers.

"Harry, do you remember much of last night?" Severus needs to know how much damage that unforgivable caused the boy before he can administer the proper potions in order to best help.

"G-got punished," he thinks for a second. "S-so you were r-really there?"

"Yes, I was present when the ghastly events took place. How did you know?"

"I f-felt your mm-magic. You and t-two o-other," a violent shiver racks the poor boy's body followed by his stomach growling.

"How about we finish our discussion at a later date. You must be famished," at the boy's nod he calls a house elf and orders it to bring down the tray he prepared in the kitchen.

"Harry, do you think you can stomach some breakfast?" Severus asks reaching for the small bowl of fruit.

"N-no thank you, sir. I'm not hungry," Harry states even as he stares longingly at the meal.

"How about we try some fruit and toast, then see how you feel," Severus ignores his words. The malnourished Griffindore only manages three slices of watermelon and half a slice of toast before he deems himself full.

"Can you eat a little more? No?" at the shake of his head Severus banishes the food before he starts taking potion vials out of his pockets, placing them on the now empty tray.

Harry carefully picks up one of the vials as if afraid Severus will suddenly strike out and attack him. That's probably what the boy is used to. Shaking his head slightly he quickly places it back on the tray.

"Thank you for r-r-reminding m-m-m-me. I don't d-d-deserve to b-b-be he-lped nor your k-kindness," he struggles to get out the words perhaps too terrified.

"No Harry. These are for you. You have to take it and several others each day." Severus tries to catch the child's eye but they're firmly planted to the ground. "Do you understand?"

The pair sits in silence for five minutes before Harry works up the courage to speak again.

"Is it going to hurt? I don't wanna hurt anym-m-more." The potion master isn't as shocked at the boy's words as he would have been not two days before. Although a lot has happened in the past few hours.

"No, I can guarantee this will not harm you in any way. Now that's not to say it'll be the worst taste you'll ever have in your mouth but it definitely won't hurt. These are strictly for your benefit." Severus decides that he'll repeat the phrase as many times as the boy needs to hear it.

Even more cautious than the first time Harry picks up the same vial from earlier and brings it to his mouth. Pouring a quarter into his mouth Harry immediately gags and ends up spitting up the navy liquid all over himself before starting to panic, crying silently.

"I'm s-s-s-s-sorry. I'm sorry. Do b-better. I'll--" Harry tries to rush out with stuttered breaths.

"Hush little one. Everything is fine. You are alright. A lot of children find it hard to take potions. I only fear that you won't like the alternative."

"A- al-alternative?"

"Yes. Gabby?" Severus calls. Almost instantly a pop sounds throughout the room startling Harry and causing him to flinch.

"Hush, it's alright Potter," Severus attempts to consoles the frightened child. "Thank you, Gabby you may go back to the kitchen." Harry doesn't see what the professor takes from what he now realizes is a house elf.

"As I said, Potter, many children have a tough time taking these kinds of potions especially when it's this numerous." Harry squeaks when he's suddenly lifted into Snape's lap and forced to make eye contact with the man. "You are most likely going to hate what I have to do but I swear that this is strictly for your benefit."

Harry soon finds out that it's a baby bottle that's in his most hated professor's hand and instantly starts to struggle again his arms.

"No... please... I don't want that. I - I'll take the p-potions like a b-big boy. No baba! No." the boy's speech starts regressing the more he seems to panic. Severus tries to calm the child but whispered encouragements and promises of safety fall on deaf ear as he only continues to cry and struggle all the more.

Through the chaos neither one notices Bellatrix fluttering into the room until she takes Harry into her arms despite his flinch and struggles and starts bouncing him.

"What's the problem? Why is the baby so fussy?"

"Not a baby!" Harry exclaims but it's muffled due to the position of his head firmly in her neck as she continues to bounce and sway in hopes of quieting the boy's sobs.

It proves to work when after 5 minutes Harry goes completely quiet only the occasional sniffle coming through.

"There we are, deary. Now I think it's time for someone to get something in their tummy before anything else exciting occurs." Before he could process Bella has him reclined in her lap as she sits in the desk chair. Severus helpfully hands her the bottle with the special potion concoction. Harry, much too tired to resist anymore, accepts it and starts suckling the teat. As soon as he properly latches on Harry can't remember why he was so dead set on refusing the infantile contraption anymore. This is the most soothing thing he's had in a long time. Not only is the milk the perfect temperature and fills his belly in a way that isn't too heavy but he can also feel all the aches and pains he's put to the back of his mind completely disappear.

Before he knows it, Harry is once again fast asleep still suckling on the bottle in Bellatrix's lap.

"Isn't that precious?" she looks up from her inquiry of the black haired child to Severus. "Tom requires an audience with you," at the man's confused look she continues. "Although the sight of little baby Potter in my lap has warmed my heart that's the reason I came to see you. Now off you go. No need to keep the man waiting longer than absolutely necessary. I'll watch the baby while you see what needs to be done to make Dumbledore pay for all his misgivings and manipulations on the good people."

Chapter Text

Harry has never had such a good sleep in his entire life. No nightmares clouded his mind. No unknown foe had him tossing and turning. Nothing could ruin the semi milk coma he placed himself in. 

Not Severus's departure from the room to see what Tom needs of him.

Not Bella's movement as she made herself comfortable on the bed rather than the desk chair.

Nothing can wake him.

That's why Bella doesn't bat an eye when she suddenly feels a warm wetness seep into her dress. She only waves her wand to get rid of the mess while transfiguring the boy's underwear into something a tad bit more padded. 

Harry wakes up to the most unusual feeling of comfort and warmth while once again hearing the soothing melody of soft humming. He had almost convinced himself that the first time he awoke was all apart of a strange dream or delusion. He was sure that he would awake this time cold, hungry and alone in his cupboard. Now, wrapped up in Bellatrix Lestrange's arms (he knows by the pictures Dumbledore use to show him) he realizes that this is really happening.

Snape was nice to him and didn't sneer once.

He was able to eat to his heart's content (no matter how small that was).

And finally rocked to sleep with a baby bottle in his mouth.

Although Harry is slightly embarrassed by that last one never had he experienced such calm contentment.

"And what has you thinking so hard on, sweetheart?" Bella runs a soothing hand down the boy's back before getting up. Harry lets out a frightened squeak at the feel of being lifted and clutches onto the black-haired woman for dear life.

"Please don't drop me. I be good. Please!" Harry cries, tears springing to his eyes. Just the thought of how much the fall would hurt his already bruised body is enough for the small Gryffindor's breathing and heart rate to speed up.

"Be calm, little one. No one will hurt you as long as I'm here." Bella shifts Harry so that his face is in the crook of her neck as she walks around the room in order to calm him down, giving his butt a few pats. Immediately Harry notices the extra padding between him and the pats and a bright red blush blossoms on his checks.

"N-no," he whines trying to tug the unwanted garment off and not wanting to be in her hold anymore.

"What's wrong, Lovebug? Does someone need to go potty?"

"No! S-stop," he whines again. I can't believe she's making fun of me. I don't know why I let myself hope she'd be different. "Off! Let m-me g-o!" Harry renews his effort in getting out of the witch's hold.

"None of that," she adjusted him in her arms before walking towards the door. "We must be going. Tom will be expecting you about now."

"Tom?! You m-mean V-v-Voldemort?" Harry's breathing speed up once again at the idea of facing his worst enemy in his weakened state. "Please, I'm sorry for y-yelling earlier. I can d-do b-better. Please don't give me to him. I'll do w-whatever you w-want. Anything!"

Harry continues to beg and plead his case as Bella takes both of them down numerous hallways all the while whispering soft reassurances to the little boy. The words wash over Harry, none of it getting registered within his mind as he dives deeper into his panic attack. By the time the pair makes it too large oak double doors, Harry is completely silent, huddling close to Bella and shaking violently. His breathing comes out harshly against her ivory skin as she adjusts him one last time to be able to open the door wide enough to enter.

"Please," he tries one last time. She either doesn't hear him or chooses not to listen because the next thing he know's he being placed down in front of Voldemort's throne. Harry doesn't dare look up at him, instead choosing to take a quick glance around the room before settling back on the ground in front of him. This proves to be a mistake when he spots not only the entire Malfoy family and the Lestrange twins but also his most hated Potion's professor who is talking with Bellatrix in a hushed tone. Harry tries not to show any of the crippling anxiety threatening to cause him to either throw up or dissolve into tears. 

"I'm sorry," Harry winces when his voice seems to echo off the walls and all attention focuses on him. "F-f- for... um... tricking you into... what I... I didn't mean to... there was..." the baby Griffin seems to be unable to finish any sentence or focus on one thought. He's not sure what he's trying to say or do just anything that he feels would cause any earned punishments to be weakened.

"Mr. Potter," Severus drawls out the same way he would in the classroom when he knows the boy isn't paying attention. Although it doesn't have the same attention-grabbing effect rather causing black dots to appear in Harry's vision.

Pivoting on 1 foot, Harry decides that he can not stay in a house with all his worst enemies. What he isn't prepared for though is the intense magical backlash that follows shortly after he fails to apparate away.

The sickly black-haired boy is thrown back against the far wall with a sickening crack before he starts convulsing. It's almost like having a seizure the way his jaw clamps and body jerks on the floor.

The adults are shocked at the scene that couldn'tve taken more than a few seconds. Draco firmly grasp onto his mother in fear. Never did he think that someone in his class could be treated this terrible. As a Slytherin he is no stranger to abuse cases but to see someone such as the Hero of the Wizarding World reduced to little more than skin and bone is quite upsetting.

Tom is the first to recover, snapping at Severus to help the child who immediately follows the order.

"Harry can you hear me?" he calls not touching him yet. Heaven knows if that would make this better or worse.

Just as quick as the convulsions started they stop leaving Harry still and ridged as a statue.

"Ow," the young Griffindore's barely audible confussion is what gets the Potion Master to properly approach. Carefully placing a hand on his back, Severus pulls back just as quick by Harry's violent flinch.

"Fine!" he practically shouts attempting to get up but his arms seem to be unable to suppose him. Instead they twitch uselessly at his sides. "'m f-f-fine. F-fine. I swear."

The sight brings a tear to the room's eye. Never would any of the occupants have believed that Dumbledore's Golden Boy would be damaged. They all make a silent vow that they would do whatever it takes to ensure the little boy's safety.

"Harry it's alright," Bella aproaches with more confidence than she actually feels. "Do you remember what I told you?"

"N-no h-h-urt," he struggles to say at the same time trying to get up again to no avail.

"That's right we won't hurt you. Now lets get you taken care of." Before he could protest Harry is once again in Lady Lestrange's hold.

"Now I'm going to put you in Severus's hold to he can treat your injuries. Can you tell me what those are?"

Lucius helpfully conjures up a chair for the man to sit before Harry is carefully placed on his lap.

"My ribs."

Noting that this is the first time he's heard the boy speak clearly, albeit quietly, Severus takes out the proper potion from his robe a heal the fracture along with a mild pain potion mixed with calming draught and something extra. This only happened because they had frightened Harry enough to want to trigger his fight or flight response. Calming him will ensure this meeting goes nice and smooth.

Harry is shocked when he's not only picked up and placed in his most hated Professor's arms, but also treated for his injuries. His ribs aren't killing him and his heart doesn't feel like it will beat out of his chest at any moment. Now that he's much calmer and can breath he notices that he now in a chair alone with all the other occupant in their own seats around the room. There far enough away that he doesn't feel crowded and trapped but also close enough that he doesn't feel isolated either. By the time Voldemort addresses him again Harry knows that he'll be able to answer any questions the man may ask and any spell he may throw.

"If you are feeling much better then I'd like to continue," he doesn't talk unkindly. If fact if Hardy didn't know better he'd think that was a real question. Harry nods anyway.

"Good. Now would you like to explain last night's events?"

Shocked by the question he isn't sure what the man wants to hear. He opts for the truth. "My aunt invited Headmaster Dumbledore over for a dinner party."

"Does your aunt have the Headmaster over often?" Lady Malfoy interjected. She had seen the child's state last night when she helped Severus administer numerous potions just to keep him alive.

"Yes, ma'am. Every since I started Hogwarts he's been coming over a lot to help my aunt and uncle," then much more quietly. "They say I'm a handful and need to be reminded of my place."

"That doesn't quite explain the reasoning behind why they were beating you." Tom drawls back the attention

Harry hunches into himself, his cheeks heating up in shame. "I deserved it. I didn't tell them that I came here or how I removed my cuffs. They were angry that I disobeyed a direct order, so I had to be punished."

"Do you get punished like that often?"

"No." That brings relief to everyone. "Ron is squamous around blood so I didn't get my full punishment." The relief is gone and once again replaced by utter sadness for the child.

"Let's go back to the cuffs. Why do you have to wear them?"

"It has a minor tracker spell and it keeps my glamor in place without draining my magic," he hesitates for a moment. "They're also to stop me from getting to my wrist."

"Why would you need to be kept away from yourself?"

The adults aren't prepared for his answer. "I'll try to kill myself," Harry hesitates for a moment twisting his fingers nervously, "again."

"Why would you try to hurt yourself?!?"

"And after this occurrence, they decided to bind you?" Draco and Tom speak at the same time, but Harry chooses to ignore his classmate.

"No, sir the first time I got 45 lashes with my uncle's belt."

"So it was the second time?"

"No, the second time I got 50 lashes with the whip and locked in my cupboard for 3 days with no food.

"Potter are you telling me that you've attempted suicide on multiple occasions ruselting in punishedment rather than help? Do tell how many times did you make an attempt on your life?"

"5 times, sir if you count purposely freeing Dobby, the three times I slit my wrist and when I tried to throw myself off the Astronomy tower in my first year."

"You had an ulterior motive for freeing that wretched little creature?" Lucius interrogates.

" didn't seem all that useful and a bit crazy but y-you got so mad that I thought if I freed him you would take it out on me or I would be forced to be a slave. I figured that it couldn't possibly be any worst than living with my relatives. I'm really sorry," Harry rushes out throwing up him hands when he think the older blond is about to rise.

"You would rather be a slave to the Malfoy family than go back to your loving relatives?"

A shudder passes through the length of Harry's body so violently Severus fears that he might start convulsing again.

"Please don't call them that. They hated me and everything that had to do with magic."

"Dumbledore swore to everyone that you were given to your last living relatives and they treated you like a prince," Severus states.

"The best thing they did for me was lock me in my cupboard under the--," Harry hunches over suddenly covering his mouth.

"Mr. Potter did you say your cupboard?" Narcissa asks gently only to receive a violent shake of his head.

Harry looks towards Severus with hurt filled eyes making the man feel guilty.

"Y-you gave m-m-me t-t-truth s-ser-rum?" the child looks away sniffling.

"Harry I'm-- Are you alright?" the residential Potion Master cuts himself off when he sees the sickly child go unusually pale.

Harry doesn't answer. Everyone watches in horror as the green eyed Gryffindor's eyes sudden roll into his head before he starts convulsing all over again.

Both Narcissa and Severus begin to rush over but it's the Lagrange twins that catch him before his head smashes onto the unforgiving floor.

Severus starts pulling out a multitude of potions from the fold of his robe all the while Narcissa explains to the room.

"This is a side effect of the nerve damage done to him due to being under the crucitus curse for a long period of time coupled with his abuse. It's a miracle he's even alive. You said he was under for 3 minutes correct?" she directs her question to Severus once Harry is stable.

"That's correct, Cissa. Although the stress from the questioning could also play a factor."

"Then we are finished for today," Tom rises making sure to stay a safe distance as to not further upset Harry. "Lunch will be served soon and he doesn't need to miss a meal. Afterwards we can build a case from the memory of this meeting."

"Let me see him," Bella once again scoops an barely conscious Harry into her arms while ushering Draco, who had slight tears in his eyes, out the door and down the hall to the dinning room. Everyone else following closely behind hoping this meal goes far better than the meeting.

Chapter Text

Once everyone reaches the dining room they automatically start taking their seats.

Tom takes the heads with Lucius and Severus to his right and left respectively. Narcissa takes her place next to her husband with Draco on her other side and Bella sitting next to Severus across from her sister. The twins skip a seat and sit at the end of the table facing each other.

During the walk, Bella had managed to bring Harry back to the land of the living although his eyes still seems a bit unfocused. She attempts to place him in between herself and Rodolfus only for him to tighten his hold on her, mumbling nonsense. The Lagrange matriarch catches bits and pieces of his babbling.

"Not 'llowed... not 'llowed... Freak... on the floor... go to the floor... no go in a chair... no go..."

"Shhhhh," she bounces him a second as everyone tries to pretend they aren't listening in. "You're perfectly fine here. Don't you want some lunch? We eat everything on our plate to grow big and strong."

Harry hangs onto her words like a life force. The only thing keeping him from dissolving into either a panic attack or tears. While he's focused more on what the black-haired witch is saying rather than doing she is able to place him down in the seat and start serving the both of them.

Instead of reaching for his silverware when she finishes Harry takes his glass of water and slips his feet into the chair, attempting to make himself as small and unnoticeable as possible while taking small sips of the cool crisp liquid. The adults all give sad looks at the display but chose to say nothing. Draco feels incredibly awkward at seeing his former nemesis is such a sorry state.

"You should try the fruit, Po-Harry," he changes his mind at what to call the boy. Potter might bring back bad memories and the last thing he wants is to be the cause of one of the smaller boy's freakouts. "Uncle Sev and I grow most of it in the gardens here along with a lot of his potion ingredients."

"Ok." Harry glances around the table seeming to ensure that everyone has been severed before hesitantly reaching for his fork. The clearly frightened child cast quick glances to the men at the head of the table as if expecting one of them to snap at him for some unknown reason.

At the first bite of a strawberry, Harry decides that these are even better than the fruit at Hogwarts before quickly devouring his entire bowl.

"Let us not filled up on only fruit, Harry," Severus calls out trying not immediately take back his words when Harry scrambled to put his fork down and push the half-empty bowl away, gazing longingly at it. "Why don't you try the soup?"

Harry complies even if the vegetables in the steamy broth looks completely unappealing. He takes two bites before declaring himself done with that and moves onto his bread roll.

In order to make it easier to eat Harry starts ripping it into smaller pieces. Due to the bread being made to pair with the soup it was a bit tougher than he's used to causing him to stain a bit in order to break apart the fairly large loaf.

"Here allow me?" Rodo tries to help the slight boy with his meal only for said child to stuff the entire thing in his mouth.

Harry wasn't paying much attention to the conversations around him all he saw was a male hand reaching for his food. The only way he can guarantee that it isn't taken away is to stuff everything into his mouth. Which he does only to start chocking slightly.

"Harry, no," Rodolphus picks up the child, feeling completely terrible for causing this, and places him on his lap as the conversations stop. "Spit it out."

Harry refuses to give them the satisfaction of his hunger so he continues to hork down the bread clumps despite a cloth being placed under his mouth for him to spit. Once he's successful in swallowing his food Harry takes a moment to catch his breath, refusing to look at anybody. With slight reluctance, Rodo sets his back into his chair where he resumes his scrunched up position.

No one knows quite what to say. Even Bella, who had been dealing with Harry's panic attacks until this point, is rendered speechless. Thankfully the familiar pop signifying the arrival of a house elf breaks the awkward atmosphere with its news.

"It's being time for Master Harry Potter's bottle."

"Thank you, Kipper," the elf places the glass bottle in between Severus and Lucius, the later getting to it first, before disapparating.

Lucius looks triumphant at his victory. With bottle in hand, he tries to capture Harry's glaze to no avail. The boy remains with his feet pulling into the chair, knees firmly folded to rest under his chin if not for the glass of water still pressed against his body. 

"Harry," he tentatively calls out only for said boy to flinch and curl more into himself. "Can you come over here for a minute."

Slowly, painfully slow, the small boy sets his glass down and makes his way around the large table to stand in front of the Malfoy Patriarch. Only to let out a loud squeak when he's picked up and places on his lap, slightly reclined.

Lucius decided to take a different approach with the Potter heir. Under normal circumstances, no one Harry's age would even humor the thought of suckling out of a bottle, but with how timid the boy has been acting he could possibly pull this off. All the while starting up a conversation with Bellatrix, the elder blonde guides the nipple of the bottle into Harry's mouth. To everyone's astonishment, Harry takes three gulps before the struggling starts. Soft whines and whimpers draw the attention of the entire table which in turn makes Harry want out of the hold even more. Lucius knew that he was 5 seconds from a meltdown right before Narcissa's voice.

"Remember when Draco was this tiny?" No one dared mention that the boys are merely months apart. "He would refuse his bottles all the time."

"Yet you insisted he was too young to go without," Severus adds as Lucius chuckles.

"He was. He wasn't even teething before he decided that bottles were beneath him."

"Mum!" Draco had the good grace to blush as his parents rattle on about his baby days.

"Oh hush Dragon, we're only teasing," Harry observed the small family with jealousy. Never had he experienced this type of affection and before being taken by the dark side rarely had he known a friendly touch.

Attention was quickly brought back to the newest member of their group the moment he let out a heart-breaking sob.

"What's wrong little one," Lucius tries to sooth only to make Harry cry harder.

"Why am I still h-here? Why don't you j-just k-kill me already? I-I-I'll do anything, please. Just get i-it o-over w-ith"

"Harry, no one here is ever going to hurt you. You may not believe this just yet, but you'll never be hurt again." Lucius tries again to guide the bottle into the starving child's mouth but he only turns his head once more.

"You're not holding the baby right." Bella raises and approaches the pair. Before Harry could object to being called a baby Bellatrix maneuvers him in Lucius's arms. Never in a million years did Harry believe he'd find himself not only being held by Lucius Malfoy and drinking out of a bottle but enjoy every minute of it. Bella didn't even make it back to her seat before he gladly excepts the bottle once again. Something about the new position eases all tension out of his tiny, frail body. For the first time in his life, Harry is able to properly relax. Placing his hand lightly over Lucius's Harry allows himself to enjoy the warm creaminess of the milk as it goes down his throat.

He can't remember feeling this relaxed and cared for. Aunt Petunia only let Harry use Dudley's old bottles after he chewed through the nipple, resulting in the boy choking more often than not. He didn't mind though as she usually forgot him in his cupboard and he would be starving by the time she decided to take care of him in any way.

"Father, after lunch may Harry and I retire to my room?" Draco questions politely when Harry is about halfway done.

"Certainly, Draco. If you are finished you may be excused now to straighten up a bit and I will bring him shortly."

Harry whimpers again when Draco leaves the room, leaving him with the adults.

"Hush. It is alright little one," Lucius soothes while moving him once more, electing more whines and whimpers.

Once Harry is moderately comfortable over Lucius's shoulder, the blonde starts firmly patting the little boy's back. Harry, for his part, has not stopped his squirming for a moment since being moved. He wants nothing more than to be back in the hold where he could truly relax or inside his cupboard where every sound inside his relative's house is amplified so that nothing can catch him by supr--

Harry's internal conflict is put to an abrupt halt when the pressure residing on his chest lifts with a loud burp. With a sigh, he settles down in the man's arms closing his eyes as Lucius continues his rhythmic patting.

"If you all will excuse me," he stands after a few seconds with Harry still in his arms.

"Do you need my assistance?" Bella goes to stand but stops at her brother-in-law's hand.

"That won't be necessary dear."

"Come out with me, Bella. We can go out and get a whole new wardrobe for the little one," Narcissa tries to entice her sister.

"I wouldn't say that around him," Severus buts in. "It might not end well."

Harry only sniffles lightly before snuggling deeper into Lucius's warmth. The blonde walks out of the room before the noise wakes him, heading into the child's room. Once he lays Harry down and starts removing the boy's trousers his reaction is instant.

"No!" the exclamation is sudden and takes Lucius by surprise. "No no no no." Harry is withering and kicking and repeating no over and over again.

"Harry calm down, I only wish to change you. You must've been wet for some time before somebody noticed," Lucius tries to wrangle the squirming child back into position only to get a kick to the knee.

"Please! No no no. Don't want a fucking!" the last word has Lucius freezing long enough for Harry to get out of his hold and scramble to the top of the bed, curling into himself. Lucius can't help but take in the sorry sight. Red, puffy eyes, trousers down by his ankles revealing his used diaper and looking so scared of Lucius that his heart has nothing to do, but shatter all over again for the abused little boy that's now in his care. This child may not be his by blood but his protective instincts are roaring for him to protect and shield the child from anything and everything that could possibly cause him harm.

"Harry do you truly understand what a fucking is?" he can't help but ask. Lucius can't even fathom the idea of Draco or any of his friend understanding what that word means never mind engaging in such an activity. He didn't think this possible, but his hatred for Dumbledore climbed even higher.

"It hurts!" the boy cries almost immediately. "It hurts and it's nasty and dirty and I Hate it! I Hate it! I hate it," Harry's voice trails off by the end of his mini-speech until he finally whispers, "Please don't."

Sighing, Lucius knows that there is only one thing to do. Steeling himself for the inevitable he scops the child up and deposits him on his lap. Harry, for his part, screams once he's touched unexpectedly but stops when Lucius only tucks him under his chin and begins rocking.

"Nobody here will ever touch you in such a disgraceful way. I'm just going to get you cleaned up and then you can go play with Draco. Does that sound ok?"

Reluctantly Harry nods his head. He knows that he doesn't really have a say in the matter nor does he truly believe that Lucius will keep his hands to himself so there's no point in fighting. See the reluctance Lucius comes up with a different approach.

"You trust Bella, correct?" he asks while sliding his family ring off. At Harry's nod, he presents it to him. "If I do anything you dislike all you have to do is touch the center stone and think of Bella. She will come and help you instantly."


"T-thank you, s-sir,"

Once Harry allows Lucius to lay him down another thought occurs.

"Accio Harry's bear," the object races from the closet and into the blonde's outstretched hand before he deposits it into Harry's arms. "This should help calm you as well."

Harry can't describe the relief he feels at seeing one of his most prized possessions and it's not being dangled in front of him. His relatives loved waving the bear and his blanket in front of him when they felt he wasn't behaving as well as they wanted. Dudley enjoyed stealing both and tearing them to shreds or throwing them into the fire resulting in immediate panic attacks from Harry even though they always end up back inside his cupboard completely unharmed.

"When did you acquire your bear?" Lucius questions when Harry tenses after he unsnaps one side of the diaper.

"Aunty gave it to me," he doesn't bother elaborating that she only let him have it after it was given to Dudley by someone in her book club. He decided he didn't want it and Harry asked to keep it. Petunia was unable to deny the child in front of so many people without raising suspicion.

"So your aunt is nice to you?" Lucius inquires trying to subtly get more information on the boy's home life. Perhaps it was only Dumbledore that treated the child poorly or he could be blackmailing the muggles, who have no power over a fully grown wizard.

"Yeah," Harry supposes that she's nice considering she doesn't even look at him and very rarely hits him. "When do I go back?"

"We'll have to talk about that later. For now, you're all done," he does up the last button before bending down to blow a raspberry into his stomach, something he used to do every time he changed Draco's diapers. 

"Ahahaha--," Harry quickly falls into a fit of giggles before clamping a hand over his mouth, looking at Lucius with wide and fearful eyes before tears make an appearance in them.

"No, no, no. It's okay, sweetheart. I shouldn't have done that. It's just something that I used to do when Draco was young. I'm very sorry."

"It's okay," Harry sniffles, wiping his tears away. "S-sorry for b-being a b-baby about it."

"It's fine. How about we go see Draco now?" Lucius holds his hand out without much thought. He's about to take it back when he realizes what he's doing only for Harry to latch on and the pair leave the room.

Chapter Text

The only way to describe how Harry feels at the moment is completely confused. He is so very confused. The most confused he's ever been in his entire life.

Not only was Lord Malfoy leading him to his son's bedroom to play, but he had been fed and not once did anybody hurt him in any way. The older blonde had even kept his word and didn't make Harry feel icky at all while he was being changed. On the contrary, both Lucius and Bella had held, comforted and fed him while Severus healed all his injuries. Even one of the Lestrange twins had tried to stop him from chocking, even if it was partially his fault. They still hadn't directly hurt him.

Harry doesn't blame the other for the little mishap in the throne room. That had to have been entirely his fault. If he wasn't such a coward then he wouldn't have been hurt and Professor Snape wouldn't have had felt the need to waste precious potions on him.

"Is everything alright, Harry?" Mr. Malfoy's voice breaks Harry out of his self-loathing long enough to realize that they've stopped in the middle the corridor, only a hallway away from the room they just exited.

"I'm sorry about earlier," Harry lowers his eyes in shame. They all must think he's incredibly weak now and they're only waiting for the perfect moment to start his torture.

"What do you mean? If you're talking about the incident when I was changing you that was completely my fault. You have nothing to--"

"It's not that, sir," Harry brings the hand not occupied by Malfoy's to his mouth to chew on his bear's ear due to a nervous habit. "'m sorry for before... in the throne room."

"No no no, sweetheart. That wasn't your fault," Lucius kneels down in front of the boy causing him to flinch back a bit, but not let go of his hand. He feels like they all will be apologizing much more than normal around Harry. "If anything I'm sorry you got hurt. That was and will never be our intention in this house. Do you understand?" As Harry nods Lucius can't help but feel like they all will be apologizing much more than normal around Harry.

It only takes a couple more minutes to reach Draco's bedroom. Once there Harry stands awkwardly in the center of the room looking around at the lavish decor and all the toys scattered around while the two Malfoys talk privately on the other side of the room.

"I need you to watch Harry for an hour or so while I speak with everyone downstairs. I don't think I have to warn you of the consequences if Harry is hurt in any way when I come back, do I?"

"No, father," Draco answers immediately, a little shock and appalled that his father would think he still holds some petty school-boy rivalry against the mini Gryffindor. "We will be fine. I know to call a house elf if there's a problem."

"And see if you can get him to eat something," he states almost like an afterthought. "He's much too thin. Harry?"

At the sound of his name being called, Harry jerks back from the model of Hogwarts he was about to touch. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have... I didn't mean to," he's quick to start apologizing.

"You can touch it if you want," Draco interrupts before his father could. "I have all the teachers and a few students. We could reenact a few classes with them if you want."

"I'll be back in a few hours. Play nicely you two for I will have a house elf checking in periodically and she will inform me of any disturbances," and with a swish of dark green Harry is left alone with his school bully.

"You never answered my question." Harry startles at suddenly being address after a few minutes of tense silence. "Do you wanna play Hogwarts with me?"

"No thank you," Harry answers as his eyes drift over to the opposite corner of the room where a bookcase and a mountain of blankets and pillows are situated creating a nest-like structure. It looks like the best place to be at the moment.

"You can go into my cozy corner if you want," the older boy offering seeing where his classmate's eyes are wandering to.

"Cozy corner?" Harry tears his eyes away from the structure to look at Draco.

"Yeah," gently taking the small child's hand he leads him over to the blankets. "When I was younger, father, mother, Uncle Sev, even aunt Bellatrix would read all sorts of stories to me here."

Thinking Harry would join him when he's ready, Draco goes over to his replica of the Hogwarts Express and starts putting figures on it. Roughly 10 minutes later Draco glances over to check on Harry only to find him fast asleep. Awe, how cute.

At some point, while Draco wasn't watching, Harry had curled himself into a tight ball on top of the blanket nest with his bear tucked completely underneath him, ear firmly in the boy's mouth. After a few seconds of watching the small boy sleep, he shuffles around, his face contorting in distress. It's only after Draco puts down his toys and joins Harry that he starts relaxing as the blonde rubs his back and starts talking. 

"You're perfectly safe here, Harry. I promise you that as long as you're staying here with me I'll protect you as best I can. You seem like you could use a big brother and I've always wanted a younger sibling, any sibling really, but mother was never able to have more children after she had me."

Not wanting Harry to wake up from his much-needed nap Draco chooses a book from his large selection and continues his petting of the smaller child as he reads quietly to himself. Not much time past, maybe an hour or so, before Harry once again becomes distressed. This time Draco heaves the much too light child into his arms before making his way to his bed to lay him down.

Harry will be much more comfortable here, he thinks to himself.

Deciding that it would be much too difficult to remove Harry's fingers, which have tightly wounded themselves into his robes, and risk waking him. Therefore he opts to simply lay down with Harry snuggled into his chest.

That's how Lucius and Severus find the pair an hour later after finishing up talking with everyone.

"Well isn't that just precious, Sev?" Luci can't help but coo softly.

"Adorable," the dour Potion's Professor drawls out but the smallest hint of a smile gracing his lips tells others of his real emotions.

"Stay here and make sure they don't move," the older blonde whisper-shouts as he rushes out the door. "I'm going to go grab the camera."

He returns a few minutes later, quickly snapping a few photos as the pair find a more comfortable position with Draco on his side and Harry curled up under his chin. The child still fisting the other's robes.

The move doesn't seem the help with the younger's sleeping though as he starts becoming antsy in his sleep. What starts off as small whines and whimpers soon escalated into cries and thrashing, the child basically convulsing on the bed. Draco paying no mind at first, mostly still asleep himself, and tries rubbing and patting Harry's back as a way to calm him, but soon jumps awake when he starts thrashing and tries to wake Harry up.

"Come on, Harry. You're fine. Everything is okay. It's only just a dream. Wake up. Come on. Wake up." Draco tries shaking him as Severus goes to grab a calming draught and some water, but that only seems to make it worse as Harry fights against his arms even harder. Words soon start falling out of his mouth causing the situation to escalate to new heights. Begs of not being hurt and incomprehensive whimpers leave the sleeping child's mouth.

Draco has never felt greater relief until the moment his father snaps out of whatever frozen state he's been in since the departure of his uncle's and immediately rushes to their aide. At seeing the distressed child Lucius only hesitates for a moment before taking Harry into his arms and starts bouncing him, something you used to do to Draco when he had a nightmare at a young age. It seems Lucius had fallen back into his parenting role and has taken to treating Harry like a small child instead of his true age. The boy just seems so fragile and innocent that he- along with the other members of the household- can't help but sympathize but sympathy doesn't help anybody.

Harry continues to cry and beg for mercy for 10 more minutes until the blonde suddenly feels his arm, where he's supporting the boys bottom, get warm just before jumping awake startling the both of them with his next choice of words.

"Mummy! No!" It's a few seconds of tense silence while the boy catches his breath and remembers where he is before he realizes who's arms he's in and the tears start up again.

"Sorry! I'm sorry. I didn't mean to. I'll be quiet. I'll stop. Please! No more hurts. Don't hurt! Please!"

"Harry, all is well. Can you tell me what your dream was about? What happened?"

"No! I didn't mean-- There was just-- And she's gone-- forever," Harry starts screaming and whithering in Lucius's hold only to get quieter the longer he spoke. By the time he utters his last word, it's barely higher than the softest whisper and Harry is completely curled into himself.

Severus chooses this moment to return with his items, only to find that they are mostly unneeded.

"How is he?" he asks once he notices to tense atmosphere that seems to suffocate everyone within the room.

"'m fine. Always fine."

"Not too good." Lucius and Harry answer at the same time only one is must more believable with the accompanied flinch.

"I believe this was some sort of flashback rather than a typical nightmare."

"Harry come you please share the events in your nightmare with us? No one here is going to judge you in any way. What Dumbledore did wasn't your fault."

Harry doesn't quite know what caused his to reveal his secrete. Maybe it was the fact that they automatically blamed Dumbledore for his suffering. Or perhaps it could be caused by how emotionally drained he now feels. But the biggest has to be Harry's deep-seated need to be physically hurt. By somebody. Anybody.  Too long has gone by without so much as a smack to the back of his head and the boy just isn't used to this type of nonviolent treatment. The dark haired boy knows that they will be furriest with him once he says it out loud. So instead of his fearful silence, the boy typically falls into after being questioned about one of his nightmares he starts sobbing in earnest, completely captivated by fear.

"Mummy!" he cries. "S-she's gone! She was-- and the screaming-- she always screams-- and-- and-- there was--the man-- bad light! Bad green light!" Harry manages to gasp out something tangible if the looks of horror on each of their faces is anything to go by.

"Harry?" Severus calls getting the child's attention. "I believe it's time that you speak with Tom about the night your parents were murdered."

Chapter Text

Harry always thought that nothing could be more nerve-racking than walking down to the Headmaster's office after being called down personally. Or waiting for his uncle to return home to punish him for his latest misdeed, but walking down to the Dark Lord's study had to take the cake.

Harry didn't fight Lucius when he left Draco's room following closely behind Severus. Or the quick pit stop at his room to get changed.

He didn't whine when he heard that they're heading to Voldemort's personal study.

He didn't even flinch when Lucius starts rubbing his back, trying to reassure him that this will benefit everyone in the end.

The only noise Harry makes is a choked sob when Lucius tries to place him on the chair in front of Tom's desk.

"I'll do anything. Please don't leave. Please," Harry pleads quietly with a bit of hesitance.

Lucius shocks him by getting down on one knee and removing his family ring.

"Remember what I said about this ring," he gently sets it in the young child's hand before rising and exiting the room behind Severus. 

"G-good afternoon, L-lord..." Harry nervously twiddles his fingers, regretting leaving his bear in Draco's room.

"There's no need for such formalities," Tom interrupts the clearly nervous child before he could work himself into a panic. "You can call me Tom during your stay here as I would greatly appreciate it if I may refer to you as Harry."

"Harry is fine, Lo-Tom" he pulls his feet into the chair and curls more into himself. In this position, he feels a little more secure. "We don't really have to talk if you don't want."

"I should be the one telling you that," the older Slytherin chuckles a bit. "No, Harry. You deserve a proper explanation and I'm going to give it to you. I just ask that you save your questions until I'm finished. Alright?"

"Alright," Harry sits up a little straighter, prepared to give his full attention to Tom's story.

"I was always an outcast of some form all throughout my life," Tom starts. "Other children never wanted anything to do with me at the orphanage I grew up in. And the other students avoided me because I was sorted into Slytherin. By that time I barely knew how to be around others my age. Dumbledore soon took an interest in me and I was so desperate for anyone to talk to that I readily agreed to my Defence teacher's meetings.

"I don't know how it happened but it seems that time went quickly from then on. Before I knew it people were looking up to me, especially those in my house, wanting to follow my every command. They believed I would do something great for the wizarding world with my vast knowledge of both muggle and magical politics and history. One day, I made the biggest mistake of my life." Tom starts to get a faraway look in his eyes. "I excepted a book on Horcruxes. It's supposed to be a ritual that lengthens a wizard's natural lifespan, depending on the person's core," Harry perks up a bit. He hadn't heard anyone mention the specifics on Horocrux making.

"At first I was of course highly considering lengthening my life so that I have more time to better not only our world but also possibly the muggles' as well. But I discovered that the ritual must be completed differently depending on the casters magical core."

"I didn't know people have different cores, si- Tom," Harry interrupts softly.

"Despite which side you may be on in this war everyone has an either light, dark or gray magical core. It's not commonly taught in school due to not much being different on the more common spells, charms, and even potions," Tom happily explains. He's glad the child isn't so scared of him that he's able to ask questions.

"Few potions ingredients react negatively based on your core. But all advanced masters know to never use centipede legs to reverse the effect of too much slug slime in hair growth potions instead they use millipede. I soon found out that I have a dark core which naturally gives me a slightly longer lifespan than someone with a light core. To lengthen that further a great sacrifice must be made."


"A sacrifice that I simply could not bring myself to do."

"W-what? B-but she... I saw... t-there was," Harry goes back to his stutter as he tries and fails to understand the story.

"I know it doesn't make sense but all I remember is trying to confront Dumbledore about an alternate solution as he was the closest thing to a mentor I had at the time. The next thing I know I'm standing next to Myrtle's lifeless corpse holding my diary. I knew that I had to have killed her and made my first Horocrux but I still have no recollection of that day. Years later after I got my body back I went to the goblins to get a full cleanse and we found a number of compulsion and memory charms dating all the way back to before my Hogwarts days."

"H-he made y-you do all that bad stuff?" the raven hair child questions with slight tears in his eyes. "J-just like h-he m-ade me..." Harry trails off with a broken sob making Tom kneel down in front of him.

"What did the horrid old man make you do, little one?" Tom attempts to rub soothing circles on the boy's back and becomes very pleased when, for the first time, he doesn't flinch away from the gentle touch.

"I didn't wanna go fight the troll," he confesses. "Or... or go into the chamber. He knew Ginny was in trouble and he made me fix it. He always makes me fix it. I can't fix it," Harry continues to cry out his frustration.

"And you shouldn't have been forced to. Neither one of us should have been subjected to the old coot's insane delusions for becoming rich and powerful. But you know what?"

"W-w-what," the little Gryffindor inquires, looking up at Tom with his impossibly huge green eyes.

"You're not alone anymore," Tom gestures to the Malfoy family ring still clutched tightly between Harry's small fingers. "And when you defeated me all those years ago it gave me the strength to fight off Dumbles charms. The strength I am now going to use to help you."

Now Harry's eyes turn fearful as he quickly scoots away from the man. It takes Tom a second to understand the reason behind Harry's sudden fear but when he does he's quick to correct himself.

"Of course not in the same way you helped me. I swear to you while under this roof no harm shall befall you, youngling. And I will continue to tell you that for as long as you need to hear it." Harry allows himself a small giggle at his posh tone of voice.

"Now if you will allow me, I would like to give you a hug before you run off to go play," Tom hesitantly opens his arms. He's not usually a very affectionate person but he can make a small exception for the two youngest members of what he now considers his family.

"Ok," Harry answers as he slides into Tom's hold, finding nothing but warmth.

Chapter Text

Harry learned from an early age that all good things never last. When he was 5 new neighbors came over the house. It was one of the very few occasions his aunt let him mingle with who she calls normal people.

They had a little girl, named Clementine who was the same age as Harry and Dudley. She was sweet and really gentle when she saw how much smaller Harry was compared to his cousin. As the adults talked she played with Harry in the backyard and completely ignored Dudley. For the first time in his short little life, Harry felt like he had someone to himself. Usually, Dudley gets everyone; his aunt and uncle, a large group of friends, and distant relatives on Vernon's side of the family. This time Harry had someone just for himself.

That is until a few months later when he tried going over her house and she wasn't there. Apparently, she had been in some sort of car accident. When Harry tried to ask when she would be back her parents explained that she wouldn't be home again. They soon moved away and Harry was once again alone.

It's because of this reason that Harry doesn't know why he let himself believe that this wonderful day with who he is now considering his new companions (Harry doesn't dare think the words friends or family) would continue to be amazing.

After the brief hug with Tom Harry is lead back to Draco's room where he once again tucks himself in the cozy corner for a much-needed rest. That talk, while driving away most of Harry's anxiety and fear, had taken a huge mental toll on the boy.

Only a few minutes go by before Harry suddenly feels a sharp pain in his chest. Almost like someone was reaching in and gripping his heart in a vice. The young Gryffindor has to hold his breath for a moment to quell the panic that immediately overwhelms his tiny body. 

Dumbledore is calling him.


"Father! Uncle Sev! Come quick!" Draco's prepubescent voice screams out throughout the manor.

"Draco, what is it?"
"Did something happen?"
"Are you hurt?"
"Is Harry ok?" the three remaining adults stop all conversation in favor of rushing to the smaller blonde.

"I don't think so. He was laying down in my cozy corner when he got really still like he was in pain but didn't want anybody to notice. Then he got up and bolted to the bathroom. I think he was about to throw up or something but it got quiet and he won't open the door," Draco explains all in one breath as the group makes their way back to his room. "I'm really sorry. I know I was supposed to be watching him but he didn't seem like he was having a nightmare or--"

"Dragon, none of us blame you for what's happenning. This isn't your fault," Lucius places an arm around his heir in comfort.

"Harry?" Severus calls when they reach Draco's bathroom only to receive silence as an answer. "We only wish to see if you are alright. Can you open the door?" Still nothing.

"We're coming in," Lucius performs the proper unlocking charms and opens the door to nothing. Nobody is in the room. The only thing that seems to be out of place is the partially open window which is not a good sign.

"You don't think he climbed out and left do you?" Draco questions the men. "We're on the third story what if he got hurt?"

"We can only hope that he hasn't gone too far," Tom speaks. "How were his injuries?"

"I healed what only his most urgent needs first but I wanted to give his body more rest before subjecting him to a full body scan."

"We will find him before too long. I will take Severus and we will scope the gardens and forest. Lucius, you will go check the front gate. And Draco I need you to stay here incase he left while you were gathering us and hide somewhere around here. The more ground we cover in the least amount of time is better than each of us checking the manor only for him to get further away. I just hope we haven't scared him away and he comes back with us willingly.


Harry ran as fast as he could through the woods near Malfoy Manor. It wouldn't do to keep his magical guardian waiting for too long after being gone for almost a full day.

Dumbledore has to know exactly where he is. He knows everything that goes on. With his lungs burning and legs aching a million thoughts run through Harry's mind.

He's in for such a beating.

How many chores did he get assigned to?

Would his uncle be at the house today?

Before Harry could come up with an answer or throw himself into an anxiety attack he reaches the tree line of a small clearing. It's only now that Harry can feel the Malfoy ring still clutched tightly in his hand which gets shoved in his pocket to be felt with later. Not wanting a repeat of the meeting room he feels for any possible wards and apparates once he feels their weakened state.

Landing in his aunt's backyard  Harry is greeted by an overwhelming pain in his side. It appears Dumbledore is once again paying the little raven head one of his special visits.

"How could you be so stupid as to leave," the headmaster delivers a swift kick to the child's hunched form. "Or worse, get yourself captured. What if they had killed you then what would the good people of the light do without their savior!"

"'m sorry Headmaster. I didn't mean to--"

"You never mean to you idiotic boy. Disgusting freak!" Crucio! "You are utterly worthless at following simple directions. You can't seem to do anything correctly. How can innocent people rely on you to defeat the most evil wizard alive if I can't rely on you to be where you're suppose to be!" The Headmaster continues to rant and insult the boy for a few more minutes before cancelling the Unforgivable.

"Thank you," Harry utters out when he's able to get his voice to work once more.

"You are lucky I'm feeling gracious today. You better head into the house, your relatives should be home soon and I guaranteed them your return."


"What is it now, boy?"

"Hug?" Struggling to his feet and holding out his hands in the universal sign of wanting to be held the Headmaster takes pity on the malnourished Gryffindor.

"I don't want to hurt you but you must learn what is and isn't acceptable," he explains right before he turns and apparates away.

Harry only just enters the house through the back door, silently thanking whoever left it unlocked, when he hears the front door being thrown open.


"Y-yes uncle-- ah," pain once again blossoms across the child's face where Vernon's fist connected.

"Where were you? This place was a mess and my sweet Pet shouldn't be forced to clean up after you and those other freaks," he picked Harry up by the scruff of his shirt and roars in his face. "Where did these clothes come from? Becoming a thief now are you? I work hard to put clothing on your back and food in your stomach. I take care of you and you go out to steal from other hardworking normal people, you ungrateful freak."

As if Dudley's hand-me downs and the scraps off their plates can be counted as the Dursleys taking care of him. Harry would laugh if his entire body didn't feel like it was on fire.

"Let's just eat now, my Duddie-kins is growing hungry and I don't want him waiting," Petunia directs her husband's attention to the kitchen. Harry stays in the hallway, slowly inching towards his cupboard. He just knows that they'll be furious that dinner is not made nor will they care that he's been gone since the previous night so there's no way he could've made it.

"Go upstairs to your room and wait for me." A shiver of utter terror racks through the boy's body when he hears his uncle's voice, much too calm for comfort. "Pet why don't you and Dudley go out and pick something up while i stay here and deal with him," he says him with so much scorn and contemptment That Harry quickly races up the stairs as fast as his damaged body can go.

Not too long after the sound of the family car disappears down the street heavey footsteps sound throughout the otherwise silent house.

"Get into position," he orders before even stepping fully into the room.

"Yes unc--"

"And no talking."

Harry swiftly and quietly gets into his regular punishment position as his uncle slowly removes his belt, allowing the preteen to hear the metal clank against itself. He stands with both palms flat against the wall and feet planted shoulder width apart. Ready. The Gryffindor is also shirtless, his scared and boney back showing off the years of abuse and neglect he has been subjected to. The belt comes down a moment before he's ready starling a tiny yelp out of the child. Despite the low volume that's all it takes for is uncle to start the beating with vigor. He brings the belt down in erratic intervals barely giving Harry a chance to breathe before the next strike.

After roughly 15 minutes of this painful minstration Harry knows he can't take much more. Breaking form, he slides down, curling onto the floor unwillingly giving the belt more access to his front and the right side of his body. It is even longer before Harry can mentally dull the pain in order to somehow try and think his way out of here before his uncle ends up killing him.

Almost as if his prayers have been answered the belt snaps lower and bounces off and object in his pocket. The ring! Quickly fishing it out he pays no mind to his uncle as the man finishes off his punishment with heavey labored breaths.

Bella Bella Bella

He mentally screams her name.

Bella Bella Bella

Allowing the need, despiration and overall want seep into his pleads.

Bella Bella Bella

The first person to show him true kindness, if a little babying, upon their first meeting.

Bella I need you. Mr. Malfoy said that you'd come. Please come!

Harry mentally screams for Lady Lastrange, failing to notice the end of his beating. Nor does he hear an urgent knock coming from the front door. All his pain-adled mind registers is a great bang of a door being blasted off its hinges before sweet darkness overtakes him.

When Harry next wakes up it's with a cry of pain, much different than the comforting warmth of this moring.

"Sorry! I'm sorry," Harry tries to wiggle away from the hands who only seem to make the pain in his back worse. "Stop! Hurts! Please stop."

"Shhhhh," the familiar sound of the Slytherin head of house washes over the struggling child, inadvertently calming some of his panic. It's only now that Harry realize that he hasn't opened his eyes yet. "I have to clean these out before we can start healing." Forcing himself to stay still Harry's unable to hide the soft cries and pained whimpers every so often pleading with the man to stop.

"Ahhh!" Harry blindly crawls away from Severus when he hits a particular deep cut resulting in blinding agony. He would've fallen off the bed if not for the familiar arms circling around him.

"I have you, little one," Bellatrix sits with Harry in her lap, his legs on either side of her and head resting on her chest. "Is Severus being mean hurting you so much?"

"Uh hu," Harry nods sleepily. He just wants to sleep to that this nightmare evening can finally end. "'m sorry for leavin. Won't do it 'gain. 'm sorry."

"Thank you for your apology," she motions for the potion master to continue his cleaning while she has him distracted. "You did so well calling for me. I'm so proud. We will go over rules in depth in the morning so that you have a clear understanding of what is and isn't allowed."


"I'm done. We just have to watch out to make sure no infections have set in already but he should be fine if a few more scars."

"That's good because I wanna know how the bloody hell he was able to run right out this house without much interference." Bellatrix stands with her precious bundle in her arms and heads to the throne room where everyone is waiting.

"It was my fault Aunty Bella," Draco immediately confesses. "I was in charge of watching over Harry and I--"

 "It's not your f-fault. I'm r-really sorry I-I-I-- "

"We don't blame either of you," Tom says calmly drawing the attention of the room. "I'm sure that there is a perfectly reasonable explanation on why you left, correct?"

Harry nods but doesn't say anything. Suddenly feeling embarrassed about being in Bella's hold he squirms to get down, bit Bella misinterpretes his movement.

"What's wrong? Do you need a change?" she attempts to check him but Harry struggles harder.

"No! Down! I can't say. He'll be mad," Harry insists. "He'll know. He'll hurt me again. Can't say."

"Are you talking about Dumbledore? Did he do something else to you?" Tom questions gently.

"Can't say!"

"Harry I know it's hard to open up and trust others when you've been hurt so many times but it's alright to come clean. Confide in us and I swear to you Dumbledore won't hurt you again. I just need you to grant me a little faith and trust. Can you do that?"

Harry stares down at his feet having finally been put down sometime during Tom's speech. He just thinks. These people have clearly showed him more kindness in the past day then he's recieved in his entire life by those who were suppose to care for him. They were supposed to look after him. He stares at his feet not saying a word until, "He called me."


Instead of giving a direct answer Harry pulls a little toy soldier out of his pocket before walking up to the most feared wizard in all of Great Britain.

"It hurts," he places the figure in Tom's hand knowingly showing the up most trust in Tom's ability to not only protect him but also soothe away his fears. "It hurts a lot when he calls. I-I used t-to imagine th-th-that's what it f-feels like to be called by y-you," the child's nervousness comes out in his stuttering.

"I assure you a simple floo call or letter when I need one of my friends is quite painless," Tom chuckles a bit trying to lighten the mood only for Harry to cringe backwards as if he would suddenly strike out against the defensless child.

"I just have one question," Lucius interrupts the awkward incounter. "Where was your aunt while your uncle was beating you? Bella said she wasn't at the house."

"She took Dudley out to dinner while uncle dealt with me. I should've just made dinner." The last part is mumbled as Harry goes back to looking at his shoes.

"You were with us all day. There was no way for you to get back to that house in enough time to make dinner the muggle way. It's not your fault."

"But it is!" Harry explodes tugging at his hair. "I know my place. I know what is and isn't allowed. I know what chores I should be doing at what time everyday. It's always my fault that I get hurt! It's my fault that I get beaten! It's my fault that nobody cared about me before I started hurting myself!" Harry doesn't realize he's dropped to the floor viciously tugging at his hair and ears until Bella scoops him back into her arms and starts shushing.

"I'm sorry for upsetting you. That wasn't my intention. Please forgive me but I was just confused. I just thought... You said," Lucius staggers to a chair before sitting with his head in his hands. "This morning Harry told me that his aunt treats him well."

"N-no, I didn't," Harry jumps to defend himself, "You asked me i-if s-she was n-nice. S-she doesn't even l-look at me. She doesn't e-even t-t-touch me." Harry's face crumbles at the memory of his lonely childhood. A small dusty cupboard where he spent most of his time.

"We're sorry that you've had  to suffer so much in your short life but things will get better from now on. I swear to you."

Chapter Text

Harry is sitting in what is now his usual eating position after having given Lucius back his ring; feet pulled up to his chest with a glass of water tucked in between himself and his legs. Everyone else is in their seats around the table. All except Draco who ran back to his room claiming that he forgot something.

"I got it!" the excitable blonde come racing in shouting. The noise startles Harry enough that he drops his glass right onto the wood flooring.

"Sorry!" the small child exclaims when all eyes quickly dart to him. He doesn't realize that they're all looking for possible injuries, instead he takes their piercing gazes as anger towards him. "M'sorry!" To everyone's complete horror Harry crambles to the floor to pick up the broken peices.

"No it was my fault. I'll get it." Draco races over to the little black haired boy from where he froze intending to help.

Both children cry out, startled as Bellatrix and Severus are the first to recover scooping them up and moving away from the mess. With a wave of Severus's wand the glass is fixed and sent back to the kitchen to be cleaned and used later before he turns to lecture both boys.

"It is never, under any circumstances, alright to tounch broken glass. None of us want to see either of you hurt. If you accidently brake something you tell an adult and we'll take care of it."

"I'm sorry, Uncle Sev."

"Neither of you will be punished this time but don't let it happen again," Lucius feels the need to interject when he catches Harry's fearful look. "Now what do you have their, Dragon?"

"Oh I almost forgot. I got Harry's bear. I thought it might make him feel better," Draco presents the toy to Harry who's instantly cuddles it close, still in Bella's hold.

"Come on, you still must eat." She sets him down but he just stares at his plate.

"M'not hungry. May I go to bed?"

"Thank you for the manners but no you may not. You have to eat something." Harry take one bite of everything on his plate before his stomach starts churning dangerously. Instead of looking towards Bellatrix, already knowing her answer, he gets up with his bear and walks around the table to Lucius's chair.

"Sleep now?"

"Not quite, little one," he hoists the much too light child into his lap while flashing the table a smug grin. Out of everyone there Harry chose to go to him, even over his favorite person, Bella who isn't glaring daggers at her brother-in-law. Absolutely not. Lucius manages to feed him 3 small bits of chicken before Harry desides he completely done with eating, shifting uncomfortably at his stuffed belly.

"S'eep p'ease? Pretty p'ease?" Harry lisps around his bear which he doesn't remember putting into his mouth. "I know I was bad but go to s'eep now."

"You were good today and you ate as much as you could, so yes Harry you can sleep right after your bottle."

"Hawwy no want--" his sentence is cut off by a loud yawn before he's moved into position to take his potions.

"You'll feel better in the morning, after you take your potions and get some rest. That's when we'll go over rules."

Little did the family know that morning would come a lot soon for their youngest than anyone would've guessed.

At Around 3 in the morning Harry wakes up falling head first out of bed screaming! Shill, high pitch noises of utter terror leave the child's mouth before he dissolves into frightened sobs. The Griffindor quickly stumps to the door on his hands and knees his nightmare still gripping to his mind fueling his actions.

"H-he's c-c-coming. Gotta go. Gotta get 'way." Opening the door Harry runs straight into a person who scoops him up.

"What's wrong sweetie?" a strangly feminine voice asks while trying to wrangle the squirming tot into a comfortable position.

"No! D-down! H-he's c-coming. Gotta g-go. Gotta g-go n-now!"

"Harry everything is fine. Calm down for me. Whose coming?"

"Cissa what's going on," a new voice interrupts the pair.

"I'm not sure, Luci. I heard Harry fall out of bed then screaming. Now he's trying to leave. Claiming someone is coming for him."

"HE's coming! He's mad! Let go! Let me go!"

"Harry--" the Malfoy matriarch sits down on the bed with her wiggling bundle, "--you're safe now. We won't let Dumbledore come for you. It was only a nightmare."

Lucius joins the two on the bed after gathering the beloved bear and placing it in Harry's hands before he starts running his fingers through the child's hair, hoping to aid in pacifying the boy. Soon enough Harry stops struggling against the comfort, his breathing evens out and before long he's back asleep in Narcissa's comforting embrace.

"Let's get back to bed, sweetheart."

"I can't leave him. You didn't see the look of absolute terror he had on his face when I came in. I can't leave him. Probably not ever."

"It is alright. I was just about to propose to extend the bed so that we all can be comfortable. I don't think I can be away from either of you. " With a flick of his wand the bed resizes to fit at least 4 adults comfortably.

"Goodnight, Luci. I love you."

"Goodnight, Cissa. I love you much more."

Chapter Text

The next morning brought about a nervous Harry, who apologized profusely for disturbing the Malfoy's sleep. The couple, still mostly asleep, forgave the child immediately, stating how they didn't mind the interruption.

"I'm only glad that you fell back to sleep. I know that couldn't have been easy with how frightening your dream must have been," Narcissa moves up to the headboard before placing the small boy on her lap. "Do you think you could tell us what your dream was about, little one?"

"D-Dumbledore took me a-away and h-hurt all of y-you," Harry stutters out in a small voice while looking with his pajama pants. "I don't want a-anyone hurt 'c-cause of me. I s-should just go."

Lucius hooks a finger underneath Harry's chin, promting him to look up. "You aren't going anywhere. If you haven't noticed already this family has adopted you as one of our own. That means we will protect you with the very last breath in each of our bodies. I can't speak for everyone but I already love and care for you as if you belonged to Narcissa and I all along."

"B-b-but there's nothing t-to l-love," Harry has silent tears running down his face. "I'm just a b-burden that intrudes on n-normal f-families. I don't deserve--"

"I'm going to stop you right there, Narcissa cuts him off. "You are not a burden. You are not a freak. Your relatives should be ashamed of themselves for how they raised you. No one deserves such treatment."

"Even me?"

"Especially you, little one. Now let's get you changed and ready for breakfast."

After a quick bath, which Harry remains quiet and compliant in as he leans into the caring, gentle hands, and allowing the child to pick his own clothes out of the new wardrobe Narcissa and Bellatrix picked out the small group is ready to face the rest of the family.

"Good morning everyone," Lucius greets as he takes his seat.

Pleasantries are exchanged just before everyone digs into their meal, or pick at it in Harry's case.

"What do you want to do today, Harry?" Draco tries to engage the younger boy in conversation only to recieve a shrug.


"We could go out to play in the garden. Or maybe back to my room? What do you think?"

"Dunno." The Malfoy family owl comes swooping in to drop a letter onto Lucius's lap.

"We have peacocks that we can play with, but we have to be really gentle with them."

"I can be gentle," Harry takes one last bite before getting up and approaching Severus. "Bot- Potions now?"

Severus immediately cradles Harry before summoning a house elf to bring him the bottle, what Harry really wanted to ask for.

"Tom, Severus I need to speak with the both of you in my office," Lucius states in an offhanded manor, but the two men can easily pick out the consern laced in his voice. Something in that letter put the Malfoy Lord on edge. The women noticed his change as well but Narcissa was too busy distracting Draco with other fun ideas.

"We can start off in in the gardens then do different things throughout the day," the young Slytherin ultimately desides. Once Harry is done with his drink the pair accend the stairs without any idea of the private conversation going on a floor below them.

Lucius makes sure the door to his office is properly warded against any and all passing ears before sitting at his desk.

"The letter was from Augusta," he addresses the two men across from him.

"Why would Lady Longbottom require your services?"

"Last I heard she locked herself in Longbottom Manor and has been refusing visitors for quite some time."

"Well it would appear that she was under some sort of cunfundo charm mixed with regular dosages of complacent potions," Lucius pauses a moment to let that imformation sink in before continuing. "It was infact young Mr. Longbottom that cleansed her system of the foreign magic. She has asked that we meet, but omits why."

"Probably in fear of having the letter intercepted. Whatever she must discuss with you is probably for your ears only. Augusta must still be feeling a tad unwell if she chose to even revel that much."

"I'll be leaving to meet with her in one hour. I wish to ask Tom to join me as we all know of Nevil's fear of Severus." The potion professor looks away slightly ashamed.

"That's a great idea. Lady Longbottom is a very respectable woman but we have no idea what she wants with you."

"I'll go prepare myself for our departure," Tom exits the room, thinking of the advantages of having not only the last Potter but also the Longbottoms. Dumbledore has seriously messed up, basically handing the dark side victory.

"While you two are away I shall give Harry a full body scan. He is a lot stronger than when he first got here, but we have no idea of any underlying problems he may have."

Severus departs with Lucius following shortly after to explain his absence to his son. Draco doesn't need to know everything as the boy would only worry about his dad. Lucius hated when his own father left without warning and sometimes came back days later without offering an explaination. The moment Lucius held his son he vowed to never allow him to feel the same bitter loneliness growing up as he did.

"Draco I need to speak with you," he calls noticing Harry's absence from the room. Severus must have already taken him.

"Everything alright?" Draco immediately thinks the worst at hearing the seriousness in his dad's voice. "Is it Harry? Uncle Sev just took him. Is he alright?"

"Everything is fine, Dragon. I just have to leave to go to a meeting in a little while. I should be back a little after lunch. Harry is off getting a full body scan most likely done in his room," Lucius soothes his nerves. "Be good for your mother, aunt and uncle and watch out for Harry. I'm counting on you to make sure he doesn't get himself into any trouble."

"I can do that. We'll both be perfect and have a brilliant time together."

"I don't doubt that. Now run up to Harry's room. I'm sure he could use the support. I'll see you later," with a quick hug abd kiss to the temple Lucius heads to his room to dress. Afterwards he goes back to his study where his Lord is waiting before they both floo away.

"Harry I need you to stay very still while I administer the full body scan. This will show me every injury and illness that you've ever had," Severus explains.

"E-every injury?" Harry looks around the room nervously. "Is it g-gonna hurt?"

"The most you'd feel is slight tingling which is only my magic washing over you."

Harry hops onto his bed and lies down, trying to force himself to relax. Although Professor Snape said it wouldn't hurt being tense and stiff surely wouldn't help him.

"Just relax and breath. This shouldn't take too long." How wrong Severus had been. What is normally a 2 minute procedure for even his most abused Slytherin takes over double the time.

Once the scan starts Severus is happy to note the lack of any injury other than the typical bumps a rambunctious 1 year old gets. It all comes to head when the 2 year mark hits and malnutrition and broken fingers are revealed. The injuries only get worse with the addition of serious illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis, most likely caused by a number of untreated cold. The injuries only become more frequent and severe as the years go by.

Burns on the hands and arms at age 5.
A broken knee at age 6.
A case of pneumonia at age 7.

As the seconds tick by Severus feels his horror and hatred for the muggles grow stronger and strong. They didn't just abuse Harry, they tortured and tormented him. As the Slytherin head of house he's seen the affects of half the amount of abuse Harry was subjected to. It's no wonder the child tried to off himself so many times. Merlin knows the amount of psychological and emotional abuse tied in.

"P-please don't b-be mad. I-I-I sorry." Severus doesn't realise that he's let his emotions show until Harry's voice brakes him out of his destructive thoughts.

"I'm not angry with you, little one. I'm angry with your relatives. You should have never had to go in their care. For that I am truly sorry." Before Harry can come up with a reply there's a tentive knock on the door.

"Come in," Severus calls.

"I'm here to make sure Harry is ok," Draco states as he walks into the room before sitting on the edge of the bed.

"He can't move too much while the scan is going through but you may hold his hand." Immediately Draco grabs the smaller boy's hand to wait out the rest of test before they're free to go play.

Lucius floos directly to Lady Longbottom's library with Tom following closely behind. The woman herself is seated in a leather loveseat before she rises to greet them.

"Mr. Malfoy I am so glad that you were able to make it on such short notice. We have much to discuss."

"Indeed we do. May I introduce Tom Riddle?" he gestures to the man behind him. They can see the exact moment she recognizes the name but Agusta only offers her hand.

"A pleasure I'm sure," her tone holds a tight edge. "Let us sit. Can I offer either of you a cup of tea?" They both accept the fine china and settle in before Augusta starts her explanation.

"I know it was not Lord and Lady Lastrange that tortured Frank and Alice," is how she starts off gaining identical shocked faces before both men school their features. "They wouldn't have even made it to the gate with such ill intentions. The wards are too strong. No. My dears were hurt by someone that was invited in. An Order member most likely but I have yet to identify which one. As I said in my letter I couldn't even tell you where I was not 2 days ago."

"How did exactly did young Longbottom manage to cleanse your system of the foreign magic, if you don't mind me asking," Tom interjects.

"My Neville has always had a gift with plants and a love for herbology," Ms. Longbottom adapts a small smile. "He loves going out and naming all the plants that grow around here. Both muggle and magic. I'm not exactly sure what he gave me but something was put in my afternoon tea two days ago and my wit has never been sharper. I'm just grateful that my memory has stayed intact. The first thing I did was throw that no good uncle of his out of this house."

"What happened with the uncle?"

"Horrors that you can only imagine. It isn't really my place to be asking this of you but the real reason I've invited you is due to another gift Neville seems to have.

"It's not quite seer vision but he has these dreams that come to him randomly. Sometimes they're utter nonsense while other times they can be quiet useful. He saw Harry Potter in your manor speaking with the Dark Lord," she nods her head towards Tom. "Suprisingly he didn't curse the child nor harm him in any way."

"I assure you Lady Longbottom that my actions were not that of my own. I apologize dearly for the loss of your loved ones--"

"Nonsense," she waves whatever he was about to say off causing Lucius to have a new found respect for her. Not many people have the courage to interrupt the most feared wizard of this century. Although the Longbottoms are a long line of Gryffindors. "If I blamed you I wouldn't be asking you for such a favor."

"And what is this favor you keep dancing around?" Lucius wishes to get to the point so that he can return home to his family.

"I wish for you to take in Neville Longbottom as a ward of the Malfoy Family."

"Slow down boys. Be careful." Narcissa calls out to the children as Harry and Draco rush around the garden chasing one another.

"Yes Mum."
"Yes ma'am."

Once Harry's scan was through Severus discovered that the multiple illnesses has caused the child's lungs and heart to weaken making him more susceptible to other diseases. A multitude of wrongly healed bones were also found but the potion master felt that it would be best to fix those closer to bedtime as he can sleep through most of the pain the rebreaking will cause.

"Come inside boys lunch is just about ready" and then a nap is soon in order. Narcissa adds the last part in her hand once she spots Harry rubbing at his eyes for the third time is the last ten minutes.

"Just a few more minutes? Please mum?" Draco tries to plead. "Papa isn't even back yet. Shouldn't we wait for him?" he doesn't want to explain his nervousness of not having his father around at the moment.

"No, Dragon, you have to eat before the food grows cold. I'm not sure when your father will be home, but he won't like that you're talking back to me. Now go get washed up."

"Yes ma'am."

Harry quietly follows Draco inside the house before vearing off to his own room. They've been so kind as to invite him to many of their family meals but Harry's sure that they would like to eat alone this time. With Lucius not here it seems that Draco needs a little reassurance from his mother. When Uncle Vernon had to leave for his business trips Dudley always attached himself to his mother to keep from missing his dad too much. During these times Harry was let out of his cupboard even less than usual so that his aunt could devote all her attention to her son rather than make sure the Freak wasn't causing any trouble.

After taking off and putting away his shoes, Harry settles himself against the headboard of the bed with his knees pulled up to his chest. Thinking back on those unpleasant moments he realizes that he may be taking up too much of Draco's family time. Not only has Mr. Malfoy feed and changed him on more than one occasion but both him and his wife had spent the night in bed with the little boy. What if Draco had had a bad dream too and needed his parents there for him. Harry knows he would hate it if a new child came in and started stealing all his parents' attention, especially if he use to hate that kid with a fiery passion. Harry sat there a short while, starting to doze off slightly when a sudden knock jolted him to full conscienceness.

"Po-Harry are you in here?" the voice of a well known potion master calls out into the room.

"Y-yes pro-professor." Harry wants to kick himself for once again stumbling over his words.

"Why are you not at lunch. Are you hurt? Are you in any pain? It is time for another dose of your potions," Severus talks more to himself than Harry towards the end but he responds nonetheless.

"Draco would like to spent time with his mom-mother," he quickly corrects himself while mentally patting his own back for not stuttering.

"Did he tell you that?" The older man takes a seat on the edge of the bed; not too far but also not too close.

"W-well not ex-exactly-" Harry looks sheepishly down at the blanks. "-b-but I've been t-taking a lot of at-attention."

"Is that how you feel or what you've been told?"

"A little of b-both? I just don't want to g-get in between them and have D-Draco h-hate me again," Harry speaks down, nervously twiddling his fingers. Suddenly the skiddish child finds himself picked up and placed in strong arms

"We will tell you as many times as you need to hear this, but you are safe and wanted here. I don't give my word very often so don't take this lightly when I say that you have my word that no one here will go back to the abominable way we treated you.

"B-but what if I--"

"I don't wish to hear any of your self doubts," Severus runs a soothing hand down Harry's face which he leans into immediate, after a tiny flinch. "Now you must eat in order to properly take your potions." Without getting a response he gets up hoisting the too light child onto his hip before making their way down to the dinning hall.

"What took you so long Harry?" Draco asks once the younger boy is sitting in his place beside Bellatrix.

Instead of answering he just shugs and starts eating. The talk with Professor Snape had really helped him relax more into his new environment. He's now not seeing the Slytherins around him as enemies that feel pity for him but as people who truly want him around and help him get better.

"D-Dray can we p-play in your room a-after lunch?" Harry asks while hunching over his plate, half expecting the other child to come up with some excuse as to why that would be a terrible idea.

"Yeah! You can choose whatever game you wanna play. Or maybe you'd like to lay down for a bit. We can even--"

"Dragon, breathe," his aunt reminds him. "You both can choose after you finish your lunch. Harry, darling, can you stomach a few more bites?"

To answer her question Harry picks up his fork and goes back to eating. The meal continues on in silence with the exception of the sound of forks scaping along the bottom of plates. Until suddenly it's interrupted by the distinct sound of aperration.

"Master Harry's bottle is being ready," the small house elf informs the room while setting down the item before apperating away with a pop.

"Alright baby who do you want to feed you this time?" Bella asks.

"Not a baby," Harry mumbles in response but gets up and walks to Severus once again.

Once situated on the man's lap and suckling away at his bottle, Severus goes back to his conversation with Narcissa. Only a moment passes before Severus cuts himself off with a choked gasp. Harry, in his relaxed state of mind, had reached up and tangled his little fingers into the man's hair, stroking softly. Not many people are close enough to the dour potion professor to touch him and even fewer has been daring enough to mess with his hair. Severus doesn't consider himself a vain person, or even beautiful in the slightest, especially not his hair which everyone thinks is greasy and dirty. The shock of the tender touch draws his eyes downward to the child that ssomehow wiggled his way right into the center of his heart.

Harry can't believe the utter softness of the locks running through his fingers. To everyone that called his professor's hair greasy is dead wrong. His hair feels of fine silk, soft and wavy. At first Harry didn't even realize that his hand was creeping upwards until he buried it deeply into the man's hair. He was about to retract but the way the potion master unconsciously leaned into the touch made up Harry's mind.

He loves being here. Here is where he wants to stay.

Chapter Text

More big brother Draco :)

After lunch, just as they had discussed, Harry and Draco headed up to the former's bedroom.

"I like being here," Harry confesses after a few minutes of setting up the Hogwarts set, as if its some kind of secrets that he's revealing. Draco beams at the smaller boy before pulling him into his arms and speaking.

"That's great Harry. We all love having you here despite our earlier feelings. You are now part of the family and we will all protect you from now on, especially Grandpa Tom."

"Grandpa?" the raven-haired boy questions.

"Yeah I guess, " the blonde shugs. "He's not my real grandfather but I still see him that way. Maybe you can call him that one day," Draco explains while slowly releasing Harry.

"Maybe," Harry and Draco go back to the figures. They're both in their own little worlds until Draco tunes into Harry's conversation once he sees that the smaller boy had set up the  potion classroom.

"Detention, Mr. Potter!" the child makes Snape exclaim at one of the students. "Because you're just like your father and he was stupid just like you are. I hate you both." To Draco's suprise the younger boy rears back the teacher and makes him smack the student.

"Uncle Sev will he ever hit you nor doesn't think that." Harry jumps having not paid much attention to what he was saying until the blonde chastises him. "At least not anymore he doesn't. He really likes you and I think you like him back." Harry blushes, knowing he's right.

"B-but he u-use to. He could again." Sudden tears spring to his eyes at the thought of the Potion Professor hating him like he did before.

Draco once again pulls the baby Griffin into his arms and rocks them slightly to get Harry to calm down some. "He'll never hate you like that again. He only didn't like you because he thought you were spoiled and just like your father." It's Draco's turn to blush at Harry's inquisitive look. "I overheard him and my dad talking one night. Here, I can prove to you that he won't hate you again." Without further explanation he pulls the both of them to their feet and starts heading to the door.

"W-w-wait! W-w-where go-ing, " Harry's stutter comes back with a vengeance due to his spiked anxiety.

"To prove that you're wanted here, " is the only answer he receives before they're out the door and walking down the hallway. Harry's hand securely, albeit a little tight, in Draco's as he leads the way.

The pair is just coming down the stairs when they hear the screams of another child coming from down the hall. Harry immediately grows frightened suddenly remembering that he is in the house of a known deatheater and the Dark Lord. Dragging his feet, he tries to slow down Draco who continues on towards the sounds.

"N-no! N-no! L-let go! Off!" Harry cries almost as loud as the mystery child, who sounds slightly familiar. This has to be it. This is when they're finally going to start his torture and all because he couldn't keep his mouth shut while playing. Draco either doesn't hear or chooses to ignore him before opening the door to reveal a struggling Neville Longbottom in Lucius's arms. The older man sitting to prevent him from falling and hurting himself further.

"Let go! Go back! Send me back! I'm sorry!"

"Neville!" Harry stops his own struggling in favor of running towards the older--by only a few minutes--boy and pulling him into a hug. "Thought I'd never see you again."

"Harry? I have to go back and tell Gran I'm sorry. She gave me away! I didn't mean to be naughty but Uncle was hurting her," he sobs into Harry's shoulder.

Harry turns hurt eyes to Lucius, who has never felt such guilt in his entire existence. "Why?"

"Neville's grandmother feels that it would be best if Neville stays with us for his own protection," Lucius answers before looking at Neville. "Augusta Longbottom cares deeply for you and she never wanted to see you hurt. Here, with us, we can protect you from Dumbledore and his men like we're protecting Harry. He likes it here, don't you Little One?" Harry shyly nods his head with a small blush brushing his cheeks.

"I-I get to eat everyday and t-they never get made w-when I stutter. And they got rid of all my hurts."

"When can I see gran?" Neville pleads not as neverous as before with Harry's confession.

"Not for a little while, but how about we send a letter when you get settled more?" the Slytherin rushes out when he sees Neville's face crumble.

"O-ok," he stutters out. "W-what happens now though?"

"Now we can all go play in my room," Draco butts in. "I'm sure father would want to set up Neville's room. We'll be in there until they call us for dinner." Neville looks shocked at Draco's words especially when the blonde doesn't put a fight when he finds out that he'll be staying with his family for an undetermined amount of time. He's even went so far as to invite him to play.

"T-thank you."

"My pleasure Neville," taking Harry's hand has become almost second nature now but Draco realises that the other Gryffindor might feel left out. Therefore, he grabs both of their hands and leads them up to his room.

"You can play with anything you want in here we just have to make sure to clean up afterwards," the blonde explains.

"Ok," both boys answer at the same time. Draco tries not to feel left out when they pick up a few action figures and start talking among themselves. That is until he hears what they're saying.

"Dumbledore hurt me again."

"I know I told Gran and she really listened this time."

"It has to be because of that tea you gave her. You saved her."

"But now I can't see her. I think I'd rather be hurt everyday by Uncle than be away from her." Neville whispers his confession. "Maybe I should just..."

"D-don't run away!" Harry exclaims quickly. "He'll hurt you more. Mr. Malfoy is really nice and even the professor doesn't sneer like in the classroom. P-please stay," Harry begs while tugging on one of his few true friend's arm

"I'll stay. Are you sure Professor Snape is okay with me being here?"

"Well not really..." he trails off only to snap back to attention when Draco speaks up.

"Uncle Severus definitely knows that you're here and he won't mind. He secretly likes children he just has to act mean in class so no one gets hurt."

"Ok. Can we get back to play--" he's cut off by a wide yawn, quickly followed by one of Harry's.

"Actually, I think it's time for a nap," Draco voices before guiding the two youngest to the bed and helping them undress to their underclothing.

"Why I gotta nap?" Harry whines even as he settles down in the comforter and snuggles into Neville.

"Because you've both have had a long and rough. Go to sleep now and then we can play when you wake up." He goes to move away from the bed but stops when Harry's hand reaches out and grabs him.

"Nap too?" Barely 10 minutes later 3 boys are all snuggled up and fast asleep.

Chapter Text

"They are the cutest sight ever," Lucius exclaims as he settles back into his spot in a plush armchair in the lavish sitting room. The blonde aristocrat stares down adoringly at the photo he took of the three boys snuggled in Draco's bed, all fast asleep.

"And people think that it's Narcissa that's overbearing and emotional," Severus snorts at his friend.

"I am neither of those things," he huffs. "I'll have you know that it was, in fact, Narcissa that practically had a camera glued to her hands during Draco's baby days."

"Dear, you are the one who took most of those pictures. I was merely trying to go one good photo of the two of you but you always were photographing him or the both of us," Narcissa clarifies.

"You guys are all bullies," Lucius pouts as the room laughs.

"In other news, are the Wards set back up so we know if there's a disturbance?"

"Yes, I reinstated them right before I took the picture. If Harry so much as sneezes we will be notified."

"I can't believe how long it's been since we've had those wards taken down," Narcissa states wistfully. "It feels like just yesterday Draco was running around in only training pants and a shirt. I'm so happy Harry is here. I need someone to baby that'll actually accept it."

"I know how you feel, Cissa." Bellatrix places a hand on her sister's arm in sympathy. "While I was holding Harry the first time my mothering instincts just flared up. Now I fear we've both been one-uped by a certain potion master," both of the women's eyes drift to said man.

"Me? You both are sorely mistaken," Severus shakes his head in disbelief. "Potter would never choose his evil Potions Professor over two caring mother figures."

"You are ever so right, Severus," Narcissa starts, her voice dripping in sarcasm.

"It's not like he specifically went to you to get his bottles at both meals today," Bella continues.

"Or allow you to comfort him when he was feeling like a burden."

"Harry Potter certainly hates Professor Snaps so much," the Lestrange matriarch finishes up.

"That is only a few instances that just so happened today."

"A day is all it takes to establish a bond," Lucius adds his input.

Before Severus can come up with a witty remark the wards that alert the adults of any distress coming from Draco's room sounds off.

"I'll go," both women say at the same time before scurrying up the stairs and down the hall.

Upon entering they realize that while Harry is shifting a bit in his sleep, it's, in fact, Neville that set off the wards. The poor boy had managed to move himself to the very edge of the bed, in danger of falling off. His face is scrunched in a mix of terror and discomfort. Bellatrix quickly moves to the child and sweeps him into her arms, quickly finding the source of his discomfort. After spelling the Gryffindor's pants and the bed clean she goes about bouncing around the room in order to stop the stream of whimpers coming from him.

While Bella takes care of Neville, Narcissa handles the calming down of Harry. Both women don't realize the noise they're making until Draco slowly sits up, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.

"What 'appening?" he questions blearily. His mother is quick to settle on the edge of the bed with Harry in her lap before rubbing a soothing hand down her child's back.

"Nothing, Draco. Neville just had a bit of a bad dream that started to impact Harry. I'm sorry we woke you."

"S'alright," the eldest child gently pushes his mother's hand off while sitting up properly. "Are they ok?"

"They'll both be perfectly fine. You're such a wonderful big brother," Bella comments much to the embarrassment of her nephew.

"They aren't really my brothers," he points out. "and they probably don't want me to be. I've been a bully to them since our first meeting." Draco looks away in shame. He's never felt like this. Everyone has always put the two children on such a high pedestal, although Harry more than Neville. Draco saw nothing wrong with taking them each down a peg. Now that he sees the truth he feels such remorse and protective over both the boys.

"They're your brothers in every way that matter. Family doesn't end with blood."

Chapter Text

Dumbledore has never been more furious in his entire life.

Not only is Lady Longbottom now aware of her surroundings, Lord Longbottom is banned from the manor, but his weapon also managed to escape twice with his summoner.

Now everything is falling apart with The Order asking too many questions and doubting their leader. That is until Dumbledore finds a new angle to solve his situation. The only thing that will restore order and bring all the power back onto himself is to get the boy back. That's how the leader of the Light finds himself knocking on the door of number 12 Grimmauld Place.

"What are you doing here? Go away. What do you want?" the insane ramblings of the ex-convict fills the kitchen as he twitches around the room in clear agitation. He had let in the old man because of the lack of visitors since his escape. Since much before his escape if the man actually allowed himself to think about it.

"I just came to check up on one of my favorite students," Dumbledore lies easily. In reality, he'd rather be anywhere than in this house reeking of dark magic.

"I'm not going back. You can't send me back. I won't go back. Not ever. Not going..." the deranged man continues to mumble to himself as he paces around, one hand firmly tugging at his hair.

"I wouldn't dream of you going back to that god awful place."

"Really?" Sirius stands still for the first time the headmaster has entered the house.

"Never," the perfect fib just to get exactly what he wants. "I just need a little favor that I'm sure you wouldn't mind helping with."

"If this is about The Order--"

"It's about young Harry."

"My cub? What happened? Where is he?"

"I fear he has been taken from his lovely relatives. A simple act of young rebellion, but I fear what could happen to such a young child in the big world."

"Say no more Headmaster, I was just about to go after him once I got a little rest."

"Very good, my boy. Contact me as soon as you have him and we'll all meet at Hogwarts where everyone can see that he's safe and sound."

"Of course, Headmaster," the animagus nods eagerly before departing from the dreary house, glad to have something that'll keep his mind off the bitter cold of Azkaban.


"Black escaped Azkaban earlier this week," Severus informs the group once he's made sure that tiny ears aren't in hearing distance.

"Did he now? What is the Order doing about it?" the Dark Lord questions his spy.

"Last that I heard Dumbledore was going to his house to see if he took up residence there."

"The ancient Black House?" Bella asks as she leads her younger sister to the opposite couch the men are sitting on.

"That would be the one. It's also The Order's Headquarters," Severus provides. "Although, I've heard that they've been locked out for quite some time."

"And they can only get access with the permission of the current Lord Black. That responsibility must have been fallen onto Harry while Sirius was imprisoned but now that he's out Lady Magic must recognize him as the true Lord," Lucius supplies the group.

"We need to keep Harry away from Sirius until we can determine what he wants and who's side is he on." A chorus of agreement rings out before everyone disperses to do their own thing.



Sirius travels tirelessly for 4 days coming across Harry's scent again and again only for it to lead to dead ends. Until the fourth day when he stumbles upon a manor with a backyard that's drenched in his cub's scent. It isn't until he sees the beautiful, black-haired child that he allows himself to rest under a large shady tree.


"Guys there's a doggy over there!" Harry exclaims before running over to the animal.

"Harry wait!" Draco rushes over before the smaller boy can actually touch the possibly diseased creature. "We don't know who it belongs to or whether it has rabies or not."

"It could be dangerous," Nevillraisee follows the other two boys cautiously, not being an animal person himself. "We should go get an adult."

"No! They'll never let us keep it. I never get to keep any animal I find," Harry starts tearing up as memories of Dudley snapping the necks of baby birds Harry had found and tried to raise. "P-please don't tell."

"It's ok, Harry. Calm down. We won't tell. This can be our secret until we can convince my parents to let us keep it." Although Draco can think of a million scenarios that this turns out to be a bad idea he knows how much worse it will get if Harry has a panic attack in the middle of the gardens while he's supposed to be watching them.

"Yay! Thank you so much. We need to get some water for him and food," not waiting for an answer, the Gryffindor is off running towards the table where Mrs. Malfoy placed snacks for them. Harry empties one bowl of fruits on the tray and dumps a glass of water inside before making his way over with a second bowl. He places both down by the dog and, after internally debating with himself, gently strokes his fur. The animal, that Harry only now realizes is much too big to be a normal dog, ruses himself. Blinking slowly, Sirius has to wait a moment until his tired mind catches up to the fact that his god-pup is kneeling right in front of him. Regardless of his state of health, the animagus jumps up and yips happily.

Harry flinches at the sudden movement causing Sirius to let out a whimper and crouch down, in an attempt to make himself smaller and less threatening. That is until he spots the blonde hair that defines the Malfoy family. Growling low and deep, the Grim slowly rises only to stop when Harry lets out a shocked cry and runs over to the boy. The blonde stands his ground as Harry and another boy Sirius can't identify at the moment cower behind him. A new level of respect grows for the Malfoys as he witnesses the young blonde standing up for his clearly frighten cub.

"Draco, d-do so-some-thing," Harry says close to tears. "I don't w-want the d-doggy anymore."

Sirius immediately stops and resumes his submissive position at hearing Harry say he didn't want him around.

"It's okay Harry. Uncle Sev always says that animals are more afraid of us than we are of them. Just stay back with Neville and I'll handle this."

As if he's had years of experience, Draco approaches the crouched dog cautiously with his hand held out. He moves slowly and deliberately until he's close enough to place a gentle hand on top of the animal's head.

Sirius isn't sure what the child, Draco, sees in his eyes but he gently smiles before speaking, "Let's keep him."

Chapter Text

"B-but he might-- I-I mean--" Harry worries his bottom lip, unable to finish his sentence in fear that Draco might snap at him.

"It's alright, Harry. Would I ever put you in danger?" the blonde questions.


"Then you gotta trust me on this."

"Yeah Harry," Neville pipes up from a few paces back, "I may not be too much of an animal person but I have a good feeling about him."

The next few days are filled with trying to train the newly dubbed Paddy, as Harry had named him. When they were first brainstorming names for the dog Harry suddenly remembered something from his childhood. He was adamant that they call the animal Paddy after a long-forgotten memory.

Once the newest addition to their group had a name it became much easier to train him. Paddy responded to all of them well enough but always rushed to follow command as soon as Harry ordered. In fact, the two quickly became the best of friends with Paddy quicking becoming another protector of the malnourished boy as well.

"That's why you should let us keep Paddy. It will not only show we have great responsibility but Harry will be devastated if we had to get rid of Paddy." Draco knows that it's a bit of a low blow to have Harry purposely lay with the animal on the couch all throughout his speech, but there is a reason why he was sorted into Slytherin after all.

"I don't know, Dragon," Lucius contemplates. "Is an animal what we really need right now. I'm not sure you all could handle it."

"We can so handle it," Neville says only to cower slightly when all attention transfers to him. "We've been taking really good care of Paddy and even taught him some tricks. Paddy, come." The dog immediately bounds over to Neville after gently extracting himself from under Harry. To show the adults how well behaved he can be, Sirius sits, lays and rolls over when told to do so. He knows that to get close to his godcub he needs to keep up the obedient pet act. Even if the only thing he wants to do is sink his teeth into Snivellous and he's every single Deatheater in the house.

"Well we can't dispute how well the boys have taken care of the beast and it doesn't seem to be too vicious," Bellatrix observes. "Do you really want to keep him?"

"Please, Aunt Bella," Harry gazes at the black-haired woman with large puppy dog eyes. With Paddy sitting near Draco, Harry had put his feet into the chair curling into an upright fetal position. Paddy notices the defensive position and quickly makes his way over to him only to get ferociously cuddled. Bella doesn't have the heart to deny what could be Harry's first wish.

"If it's ok with the others it's alright with me." Narcissa and Lucius both agree soon after but Severus can't be less excited.

"Are we certain that this beast is safe to have in the house? Around the children?" he asks the room.

"Please, Uncle Severus. We'll do anything to keep him." Draco begs. He knows that just as easily everyone agreed with Bella they could agree with the Potions Professor.

"Alright," he relinquishes after getting three puppy dog eyes. "But if he steps a single toe out of line he goes back to where he came from. Am I understood?"

Three little "Yes, Sir's" ring out before the boys rush off to go play.

Over the next few days, Paddy becomes even more protective of Harry. Everywhere that the little raven-haired boy went Paddy could be seen a step behind. He even went as far as to growl at anyone that Harry flinched at.

"I swear that dog has grown much too close to Harry in such a short amount of time," Severus complains as he storms into the family sitting room.

"Sounds to me like someone is a tad bit jealous of an animal," Bellatrix giggles.

"I am not jealous of that mutt. I'm just waiting for you all to come to your senses and realize that that thing you've allowed in this house is dangerous."

"Paddy is not dangerous," Cissa argues. "He's just protective of Harry. Animals are very sensitive to emotions. He probably felt Harry's fear and nervousness and is trying to make him feel better."

"There's something about that mutt that I don't like," Severus stalks away. "And I'm going to get to the bottom of it."

No one realizes just how right Severus is until 3 days later when Harry doesn't come down for his morning bottle.


The sounds of someone apperating reverberates throughout the room Harry and Paddy appear in.

"W-what's g-going on." Harry looks around the dark, dusty room from his spot on the floor. Everything is completely unfamiliar. Paddy's pained yelp has Harry snapping his head towards him, only to recoil in horror. Before his eyes Paddy's fur retracts into his body, his bones rearrange, and even his muzzle grows smaller until a large man with shaggy brown hair is standing before him.

"Hi-" the man is cut off by Harry's terrified scream before he burst into tears. The frightened Gryffindor attempts to stumble to his feet but ends up falling several times before he huddles into a corner.

"Hey, there's no need for that. You can trust me. I'm Sirius Black," the man tries and fails to soothes Harry.

"No, no, no! G-get away f-from m-e," he flairs his legs.

"Cub you have to listen to me. They can't take you away from me ever again. No one will come between us. Just you and me forever." The statement doesn't get the reaction Sirius hopes for, instead, the child just sobs louder into his bear. The animagus is so glad that he had the piece of mind to bring it along with Harry's blanket with them when they left.

"W-wanna go b-back! Go b-back!" Harry curls more into himself. He doesn't know this man or what's going on. One minute he and his dog are playing in the woods by the Manor when all of a sudden the animal grabs Harry but the shirt and the pair apparates away.

"I can't take you back, Harry. I'm the one that's supposed to be taking care of you. I'm your godfather," Sirius tries to explain. He internally cheers when his cub's crying lessens dramatically and looks at him in confusion.

"My w-what?" he sniffles.

"Your parents wanted me to take care of you in the event that something ever happened to them. They told everyone, especially when they heard about the prophecy," he looks away ashamed, eyes a bit unfocused, before continuing. "It's my fault that you grew up in that awful house with those horrid muggles. My fault. My fault. my fault." Subconsciously Sirius had started rocking back and forth from his place on the floor in front of Harry, scaring the child more as he spoke.


"But I was selfish and went after that damn rat! I still need to find him but you are my number one priority right now. I'm never letting you out of my sight again." Harry immediately starts sobbing again once Sirius is done with his speech.

"I want Sev'rus! You're scary," the Griffindore exclaims while backing up further away from the man.

"Wait, wait, wait. How about we do something else? I could show you some pictures," he tries to calm the child. The loud noises of his sobbing are beginning to become almost too much to bear.

"I have pictures," Harry says in a small voice, his cries tampering down.

"That's great. Where are they?"

"With my..." he trails off before his face falls once more. "My school things." he finishes as silent tears track their way down his rosy cheeks. "I don't h-have my s-school things. I-I left th-them."

"Hey, hey. Don't cry. I have them. Your trunk is in your new room. I can take you to it. I'll give you a tour of the whole house," Sirius rushes out in hopes to save off a meltdown. Quickly he makes his way up the stairs into Harry's new bedroom to fetch his trunk and bring it down. "Here you are, Cub."

"W-why do y-you call m-me Cub?" he stares questioningly at the man then at his things. He doesn't trust this person at all to just give him his items. This has to be some kind of trick.

"Because that's what I use to call you when you were little. Don't you remember? We all had our little nicknames in school growing up. Your dad was Prongs, there's Wormtail, that damned rat, and of course... Moony," Sirius starts off his sentence excited but trails off just as he did previously. Harry wants to ask if he's ok but the vacant almost dark look Sirius adopts has him stopping himself. Quickly shaking himself Sirius focus is back on Harry, much to his displeasure. "You'll meet him a bit later. When you're settled in."

"W-what do I c-call y-you?"

"My nickname was Padfoot but you can keep calling me Paddy. Do you remember me? Is that why you picked that name?" Sirius inches closer without much thought. It isn't until Harry chokes on another sob that he realizes how close he's gotten to the boy.

"H-how about you go through your trunk to make sure everything is there while I make us some lunch?"

"'m not hungry," Harry pulls his legs even closer to himself. He's not lying. Whenever he gets really stressed or nervous the first thing to go is his appetite.

"You should try to eat something anyway," Sirius frowns trying to think of the last thing he's seen the boy eat. "You threw away half your bowl of cereal this morning. You need to eat."

Harry doesn't say anything, but he knows for sure that he's not eating whatever this man puts in front of him. Roughly 20 minutes later, Harry had gone through his belongings twice and ensured that everything is where it should be including his photo album and wand. Sirius calls Harry into the kitchen where he puts two large pieces of chicken on a plate for each of them.

"Please sit and eat," he tells the child gesturing to the table. Once he sits, Sirius quickly digs into his food. No one could imagine how much he's missed having hot meat when he was locked away, especially when he spent most of his time in his animagus form. "Go on, Harry. Dig in. I can get some more later," he explains when he notices the young Gryffindor just looking at his plate.

"Not hungry," he states.

"You haven't eaten in a while and I know you haven't been feeling well. Please just take a few bites."

Touched and confused by the man's concern, Harry rips a piece of meat off the bird and shoves it into his mouth. Upon tasting how good it is he continues to eat and kick his legs slightly. The fear and anxiety slowly melt so the pair enjoy their meal together.

Chapter Text

Sirius slowly rubs his temple in hopes that the impending headache will lessen in severity as he sits heavily on an armchair. This is not what he imagined when he pictured how he and his godson would be reunited. 

The morning had started in the early hours before any normal creature was supposed to be awake. Harry had screamed himself into consciousness before throwing up onto himself. Like any sensible adult, Sirius ran into the room to assess the damage, after calming himself from his fright. The sight of Harry covered in his own sick and sobbing his eyes out makes Sirius wonder if he'd be able to do this by himself. He's barely taken care of his own needs over the years. How is he supposed to be responsible for another human? 

The animagus dismisses the thought almost as soon as it enters his mind. This is his godson he's talking about. James and Lily entrusted him to be able to care for their precious bundle and damn it if it's the last thing he'll ever do. With a flick of his wand, Siri has the sick cleaned but Harry only seems to grow more distressed with the wave of unfamiliar magic again his skin.

Remembering how terribly their the previous day had gone instead of approaching the child to comfort him Paddy quickly makes an appearance. The now turned dog bounds into the room and hops up on the bed to snuggle against Harry's side.

Harry instantly clings to the animal and for a moment he forgets what occurred the day before and lets Paddy take away his fear and ground him to the present.

"W-want Bella," he stutters into the soft fur. Paddy whines in despair as Harry takes his first good look of the room since waking up. "Oh," is all he can manage to get out while choking back tears. He always seems to get himself in these types of situations. Going to Lord-- Tom turned out to work in the end but if he's learned anything throughout his life than it's nothing good comes out of these type of events.


Lucius paces back and forth in his office. His posture shows clearly aggravated he is. If only he was paying more attention. If only he hadn't been so concerned with his own child and ward he would have been there for the person that needed him most. 

"You can't keep blaming yourself," a voice from the doorway interrupts his thoughts. Glancing up Lucius sees his oldest friend.

"If I had--" he's quickly cut off.

"There are a lot of what if's but none of them will bring Harry back. At this moment that's the only thing we need to focus on."

"You are right. Are the others back at the moment. I should be heading out soon to join the search." Lucius is already walking out of the door and heading for the main staircase before he allows Severus to answer.

"Indeed everyone is in the meet room waiting to discuss their findings. I'm afraid it isn't much but any start is better than none." The pair make their way down in silence each blaming themselves despite earlier words. No one can quite believe that they did everything in their power to ensure Harry's continued safety. If anything were to happen to the boy before they are able to locate him the group would surely be consumed by their guilt.

Once the pair arrives outside the designated meeting room they both take a moment to compose themselves and school their emotions. Now is not the time to think or focus on themselves or how this could have been prevented. Instead they inhale a deep breath, enter and take their seats.

The room has a large table not unlike the one in the dinning room only able to sit more people. They arrange themselves similarly to how they sit at meals. Tom takes the head with his immediate right and left empty. Severus and Lucius sit in the next chairs before another space is left where Narcissa and Bellatrix sit across from each other.

"Now that everyone is here," Tom says as soon as all attnetion is directed towards him, "we can begin with basic background and what was found in the immediate search of the property."

"Harry was playing outside with Paddy after asking me permission," Narssia picks up the conversation. I was not out there long as I wanted to check on Draco and Neville upstairs. As soon as i left them I felt the shift in the wards that signified someone had apperrated out. I quickly made my way outside where I met up with Severus and Bella."

"We then all split up and searched the grounds," Bella picks up where her sister had left off. Her next sentence is cut off by the doors being violently thrown open.

"Harry was taken by Sirius Black!" Neville screams before he and Draco are fully in the room. "I'm really sorry. I should've seen this coming. This is all my--" he tries to rush out but Lucius quickly takes his hands and forces the child to look at him despite his initial flinch.

"Calm down Neville. Take deep breathe for me. How do you know he was taken by Sirius Black?"

Neville only shugs whilst glacing at Draco. "I don't know how I know. I just know Sirius Black has him, but I don't think he's hurting him. It's kind of like how I knew he was here and you weren't hurting him," he tries to explain.

Without a word Bella and Narcissa both rise from their seats and head for the door.

"Where are you two going?" Tom asks incredulously.

"We're going to get our baby back from Little Siri," Bella states as if it's the most obvious answer. "We all know that my cousin did not help in the murder of the Potters. He is an innocent man."

"Be that as it may, Black has still been sitting in Azkaban for almost 12 years," Severs reasons. "We don't know his thought process or his state of mind. That prison is a place where all good thoughts die and bad ones fester.

"I know Siri. Even though we weren't close inside of Hogwarts we all grew up together. What he needs more than anything is his family right now. That's probably the reason why he took Harry."

"He has to be still staying in the Black's ancestral Manor. We need a plan to infiltrate it and bring Harry home."

"Why don't we just ask?" questions Draco who quickly becomes embarrassed when all attention is directed as himself.

"What do you mean Dragon?"

"If Mr. Black is family and he's been away for so long won't he want to see us?"

The adults are speechless as they have to think for a moment. Draco makes a very good point.

"I don't know. Siri hasn't gotten along with the family all that well since his sorting into Gryffindor," Narcissa fidgets uncomfortably.

"But he's always been about family. Even when he wasn't around us he treated his close friend like family."

"Draco makes a great point. Narcissa or Bella can send a letter hoping to reconcile and get invited over," Tom schemes out loud.

"At least it wouldn't be an outright lie. I do miss little Siri and it would be amazing if we could convert him to our side. The true light side."


"What are you doing?" Harry asks from the doorway.

Sirius is crouched down on his hands and knees in the middle of the sitting room while frantically scrubbing at the floors.

"A few relatives are coming over later today and the house isn't clean enough," the older man answers while not pausing.

"House is contaminated by filthy halfbloods," Kreacher calls from a safe place in the hallway.

The first time the house elf had insulted Harry he had almost cried resulting in Sirius throwing the nearest thing (an antique candleholder) at him. By now the elf had learned to be far away when he had something smart to say.

"Wh-who?" Harry ask nervously.

"Just our cousins, Bellatrix and Narcissa. They might bring Draco along for you to play with also."

Harry's entire demeanor brightens up in a way that Sirius has yet to see. He can't believe that after the last few days that he's been gone the Malfoys and Lady Lestrange wish to visit him. But what if they don't

"Am I going back?" Harry can't help but ask with a stab of guilt. It's not like living with Siri has been bad or anything and he's been given food and new toys but he misses going outside and playing with Draco and Neville.

"What?" Sirius finally looks up and pauses in his scrubbing. "Why would you go back? Do you not like it here? Do you want more toys? Am i doing something wrong?" Sirius unconsciously grows closer and closer to the small boy as Harry huddles more and more into himself. "Do you not like it here? I can change it. I can add more color to the house or get rid of the blasted elf? What do you want Harry?" He contiues his questions not allowing Harry to answer before rattling off the next one.

"I want Bella!" Harry finally breaks down into big, fat, ugly sobs. "I want Bella," he continues to sob and shout knowing that his godfather won't hit him for his outburst.

The animagus has never felt so powerless and overwhelmed. Not for the first time he wonders what was he thinking bringing this child into his home without permission. Of course he feels sad and lost. In an attempt to try and calm Harry down he quickly transforms into Paddy and goes to cuddle to boy. To him shock and amazement, Harry throws his arms around him and continues to cry and mumble into his fur.

Sirius makes a silent vow that he'll do anything to make Harry happy again even if it means that this is the last time he'll get to hold him. All of a sudden Harry's magic reacts to his cries and Sirius's unspoken promise in the form of  blinding white light surrounding the pair.

As it clears and they are able to see once more Paddy is shocked by the tiniest black cub he's ever seen. A quick sniff confirms that Harry's unlocked his metaphoragus. Siri can't deny the mix of pride and sadness he feels. Harry must have been extremely emotionally drianed to have transformed without much thought not to mention without training.

With Harry in this new form Siri makes up his mind about his next steps. He quickly makes his way up the stairs and -thanking Merlin that the door is open- enters Harry's room and snatches the child's blanket and bear into his mouth before heading back down. Grabbing the cub by the scruff of his neck he sets him ontop of the bear in the center of his blanket. It's easy to take the four corners and walk to the back of the house where a secrete tunnel is located. It was used whenever Siri was young and needed space from his family. It was also the easiest way to leave without transforming back.

Once he was outside Paddy lays the cub, who was whimpering lightly, in a small patch of tall grass. He sniffs around the house and is about to go back for his cub -- deaming the area safe -- when his fur suddenly rises. In the next moment a flash of light hits the black dog in his side.

Siri is blasted a few feet back but quickly shakes it off and gets into a defensive position. His eyes scan the yard while his nose twitches. Suddenly several Aurors come out of the bushes and start firing spells and curses. He knows that he's outmatched and needs to get Harry out of there quickly.

Jumping into action --quite literally-- Siri carefully gathers Harry into his mouth and makes a run for the forest line. He gets hit with a few curses but pays no mind to the pain. All that goes through his head is the need to get Harry out of there.

By the time they get to the tree line Sirius knows that he's loosing a serious amount of blood from various gashes. He can only hope that the Malfoys, Snape or Riddle won't be too mad and kill him on the spot for taking Harry.

He needs Harry.

Chapter Text

"You look perfect, my Dear," Lucius says adoringly to his wife as she rushes back to their shared closet for the 4th time this morning. She only huffs in frustration before gracefully sitting down on the bed as Purebloods do not plop.

"This needs to go perfectly."

"We'll get him back," the blond tries to soothe, but Cissa just shakes her head.

"We've never had a very good relationship even before Little Siri was taken away to that awful place. I suppose before Hogwarts we always played together but then he was sorted into Gryffindor. In our family, we were conditioned to see Griffindores as beneath us. I suppose Siri just feel out of our favor without us really realizing what we were doing until it was too late."

"Now is a time where you can make it up to him," Lucius tries to comfort. "Nothing will be the same after today." As if the universe wished to prove that statement true itself, the adults of the manor felt a drastic shift of the wards. Almost like they were being violently ripped open so that someone can be forcefully shoved in.

Tom was in his study scheming new ways to punish Black when he felt the wards. His first thought was the children in the rooms above him and their safety before he rushes outside to join Lucius and Narcissa.

Out in the distance is the unmistakable figure of Paddy running towards them.

"How dare?" Lucius speaks with all the venom he can muster as he raises his wand, presumably to hex the mutt into next week.

"Wait, that's Harry's blanket in his mouth!"

The adults stand protectively in front of their home as they watch the hound get closer with his bundle.

Slowly, watching everyone's movement, Sirius sets the blanket down. It remains slightly folded so that the others aren't able to see what's in the center. Just as Bellatrix was about to snatch up the blanket and demand where Harry is the thing moved.

The small shift captures everyone's attention. All eyes fall to the blanket as Harry's bear rolls out of the open side. To everyone's utter confusion the movement doesn't stop. Instead, the shaking grows stronger until Paddy huffs and takes a step toward. The men adjust their stance to train their wands back on the convict.

He pays them no mind as he carefully nudges the other side of the blanket open to reveal the smallest puppy the group has ever seen. The little thing was clearly trying to escape the his blanket hammock that the animagus used to carry him in. Now that he can feel the fresh air breeze he starts whimpering and tries to stand.

It's at this moment that everything clicks and Paddy transforms into the man they know best as Sirius Black. He slumps to the ground before starting to speak.

"He's not mine," the group remains silent as they let him try to explain himself. "He was supposed to be mine when they left but I was selfish. I went after that damn rat and forgot all about my cub until it was too late. They let me rot in that hell hole for years and when I came out he was no longer mine." Sirius had unknowingly started petting the transformed Harry but stops abruptly to look up at Severus, "He's yours now," and Bellatrix, "and yours too. He was never mine. Not since before everything and even then he belonged to Lily and James."

"Did you teach him to transform, Siri?" Narcissa can't help but ask. This brings a slight smile to Sirius's face before he answers.

"No, I think I scared him. He was crying for Bellatrix and just transformed before we left. He was so scared of me but seemed to love Paddy."

"That does seem to happen when you take children away from the people that are taking care of them," Bella states is slightly mocking tone before scooping puppy Harry into her arms. He seems to immediately melt into her arms, going as far as to snuggle up and close his eyes in bliss.

Sirius's face falls as he watches how comfortable Harry is in someone else's embrace.  

"I should be going," he takes a step back. 

"Wait! The meeting wasn't only about getting Harry back," Narcissa confesses. "We use to be so close when we were little. I shouldn't have shut you out just because you were in a different house during school."

"That doesn't matter now," Sirius tries to deflect but Bella only continues where her sister left off.

"No matter what was going on we were raised to value family. Family was always supposed to come first but I let silly school rivalries get in the way of that. Can you ever forgive me Siri?"

"What? Of course! It was my fault. I made new friends and wanted nothing to do with my family afterwards. I just know that Harry needs you all. I can't give him the same protection you can. I can barely protect myself." The last sentence is said as he raises his shirt to reveal deep gashes, shugishly bleeding.

"What happened?" Tim speaks for the first time.

"I was just leaving to bring Harry here. I had to search the property first to make sure it was safe. Let's just say it wasn't," Sirius leaves it at that. "I have to go I know Dumbledore will want a report and I still have a rat to catch."

"Siri please stay. We can protect you. You should know by the amount of time you've spent around us that we wouldn't have sent those people after you. That leaves only one other person who knows your location." Bella tries to talk sense into her cousin, but Sirius omly gives a sad smile.

"I know that's why I have to go. I'll talk to you all in a few days when I get everything sorted." Without further ado the man turns back into Paddy and sprints into the wood knowing that he now has a lot more than his cub to fight for.

Although maybe, he doesn't have to do it alone.