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Life Turned Upside Down

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Harry's life had been turned upside-down numerous times in his sixteen years. First, there was his first encounter with Voldemort when he was just a year old; he went from a happy home with loving, caring parents to living a life of neglect with his hateful relatives. Then, when he turned eleven his world changed again as he discovered that he was a wizard; it was the happiest day he could remember. His life remained more or less stable for another year, but then in third year things changed once again as he found out that he had a godfather who was wanted for betraying Harry’s parents and murdering thirteen people, only to later discover that his godfather had been framed and was indeed innocent. For a few precious moments he thought his life would be better, but then that traitor Wormtail got away, and his godfather had to go into hiding again. Fourth year brought even more changes with the death of Cedric Diggory and the return of Voldemort, and Fifth year, just a few months ago, he lost Sirius in the ministry. Now, a little over a month before his sixteenth birthday, his world was once again being thrown into turmoil.

Harry supposed it was his own fault, really; after all, if he hadn't picked that night to sneak downstairs and get his school books while the Dursley's were watching the telly in the other room, he never would have been in the cupboard under the stairs, which means he would not have heard the knock on the door. If he hadn't heard the knock on the door, he wouldn't have had to hide in said closet, and he never would have heard the conversation that obviously was not meant for his ears; the conversation between his relatives-and Albus Dumbledore, Harry's trusted headmaster, and once he heard the conversation he could never unhear it, no matter how much he wanted to. But when he first hid in the closet he had no idea about this, so when he heard Dumbledore's voice he sat down on his old cot and listened.

"Shh! The boy is upstairs so you'd better be quiet if you don't want him to know you're here," Aunt Petunia snapped, "I suppose you would like the usual status report?"

"Yes please, Petunia, "Dumbledore replied cheerily, "I just need to make sure Harry is being treated in a way that will best benefit everyone. I trust he's still taking care of all the chores while he's home?"

"No," Vernon spoke up, "When we picked him up at the station this year we were ambushed by a group of your kind of people, and they threatened us if we didn't leave the miserable freak alone; said they would be checking in on him and we would never even know they were here unless we mistreated him, but if we did "abuse" him," the sarcasm was very heavy here, "then the freaks would "punish" us. Evidently, regular chores count as abuse." Harry could just imagine his uncle's red face at this point, and wanted to snicker at the memory of that wonderful meeting.

"I am very disappointed to hear that," Dumbledore’s voice was grave, and Harry eagerly anticipated the headmaster telling Vernon off, "I will make sure those that would look in on young Harry are busy elsewhere so that you may resume normal treatment of the boy; we have worked too hard to mold the boy how I need him to be and any deviation from the normal conditioning you put him through every summer could disrupt everything we have done."

Harry couldn't believe his ears; Normal treatment? Mold him? Normal conditioning? He knew; all along the headmaster knew exactly what was going on and not only did he not stop them, but he encouraged it! Harry lowered his head and closed his eyes, fighting back the burning tears and disappointment in himself; there was obviously something very wrong with him if even Dumbledore felt that he deserved the treatment he received at his relative's hands. Really, it was bad enough when Ron and Hermione told him that he was making too big of a deal about the way the Dursley's treated him; he could still hear Hermione's exasperated words on the ride home this year: "Oh, stop it Harry! I'm sure it can't be that bad; your aunt and uncle are just doing what that have to in order to make sure you grow up right! They care about you, and are only trying to build character!" And then there was Ron's agreement, "Yeah, come off it Mate! You don't like your relative's; we get it! Grow up already! Some of us have more important things to worry about!" Maybe they were right, and Harry had been making a big deal out of nothing...he was drawn out of his thoughts as Petunia spoke again.

"Well, we will put the boy to work immediately," Petunia said, and Harry could hear the satisfaction in her voice, "As soon as you leave I will have him start cleaning the house from top to bottom and he won't get any food or sleep until it is completed to my satisfaction." Dumbledore let out a heavy sigh before replying.

"I'm afraid that won't do the job anymore," he said sadly, "He has had too much time to recuperate; we have worked very hard to make sure he knew his place in...our world was different than his place in the Mug-er, that is, your world. At school he is above average, special even, destined to save the world; here, he is below you, lower than even the poorest beggar on the street. These few weeks at home without you being allowed to reinforce his inferiority to you will no doubt have erased much of the insecurities we have worked hard to cultivate. No, I don't believe giving him simple chores and making him work for his food is going to work anymore."

"Then what do you want us to do?" Vernon demanded, "We can't beat him as we did when he was younger; the second he starts to feel that we have crossed some line his freakishness comes out and protects him!"

"Ah, I can take care of that for you," Dumbledore sounded cheerful again, "I always come prepared, just in case something like this were to occur. Give me just a moment...now where did I put those...?" All was silent for a few minutes, except for the soft rustle of Dumbledore searching for whatever it was he needed, "Ah! Here we go!" There was the sound of clinking glass, and harry recognized it from his time spent in the hospital wing: Dumbledore was giving the Dursley's vials of potion. "Now, each one of these has a different purpose, and they are charmed to never be empty. This one will block his magic from reacting to anything; make sure he gets two drops of it twice a day. I am aware that he has been training physically this year as well, so this potion will cause him to become disoriented, while this one will cause him to lose control of his muscles. This potion will prevent him from being able to tell anyone the full truth of what happens here. And, finally, this potion will heal physical evidence of any beatings you must give Harry, while still letting him feel the pain he needs; this is just in case you have to send him outside or if unexpected visitors stop by." There was a thoughtful pause, then the sound of another bottle being set down. "I realize that you will still need the boy useful even with the punishment he will be given, so this potion will heal anything that is life-threatening, and I believe we have everything covered; do you have any concerns about this?"

"Yes," Vernon said, "Will you be paying us extra for this? It will take a lot more work to get him beaten down properly, not to mention we have to mess with your freaky medicines."

"But of course," Dumbledore chuckled, "Let's see, I currently give you 2500 pounds a month, correct?" There were affirmative noises from the Dursley's, "Well, since this is causing you more trouble, and you have to deal with the...special medicine, I will double your payment; that will be 5000 pounds a month. In addition, if young Dudley here is willing to assist with Harry’s…physical conditioning, I will give him 500 pounds a month. I know this takes away time that you could be spending with your friends, but are you willing to help?” Harry didn’t hear a verbal response, but Dudley must have nodded, because Dumbledore exclaimed; “Excellent! Now, I only brought the normal payment with me today, so I will send the rest of the money to you tomorrow. These expenses will, of course, come out of Harry's personal account as usual, and if you find you need more funds to properly care for him just let me know; you know how to contact me Petunia. Now, have we covered everything?"

"I believe so," Petunia replied, "All of the medicines are labeled and have instructions so we won't mix anything up, the expenses are covered, and you have plans to take care of those busy-bodies from the station. Yes, we have everything necessary so that we can take...appropriate care of the boy for the rest of the summer. Once you are gone we will begin the new...conditioning treatments."

"Excellent, excellent!" Harry could just see that irritating twinkle in the old man's eyes and it made him grit his teeth in anger, "Very well, I believe it is time I took my leave; I will see myself out. I will check in again after I send someone to collect Harry for the new school year and settle any additional financial concerns at that time. Until then, have a wonderful summer!" Harry listened as Dumbledore left and then heard his aunt and uncle return to the kitchen; they appeared to be discussing the conversation they just had with Dumbledore, but Harry could no longer make out what they were saying. Harry lay down on the cot-it was awfully cramped now as he was bigger than he was at age eleven-to think over what he had just heard and ponder his next plan of action.

Well, first he had to get away from the Dursley's; that much was abundantly clear. When Harry first started listening in on the conversation he had mostly felt disgust with himself for disappointing his mentor-what kind of freak was Harry, that Dumbledore felt the only way to keep him from being evil was for the Dursley’s to beat him down? -but the longer he listened the more that self-loathing receded to be replaced with utter contempt for Albus Dumbledore. How dare he? Harry gritted his teeth to prevent an angry growl from escaping, Dumbledore was supposed to be his protector, a friend of his parents, someone he could trust to look out for him.

Instead, he found that Albus Dumbledore was a manipulative old man who not only encouraged the Dursley's to mistreat him, but paid them to mistreat him-and with Harry's own money! Twenty-five hundred pounds was a lot of money; it translated to...500 Galleons a month; 6000 a year! Not only that, but he was doubling their pay so that the Dursley's would beat him, and he had given them potions to prevent Harry from fighting back! The last thought is what made him blanche; the thought of a professor giving someone potions to drug a student was...well, it was repulsive and Harry knew he needed to leave before his aunt and uncle had a chance to use any of the potions on him. Before he got a chance to do anything, however, the cupboard door was slammed open and Vernon Dursley reached in to grab him with one meaty hand.

"So, spying on us were you?" Vernon sneered, yanking him out of the cupboard, "Did you think I wouldn’t notice you creeping down the stairs, boy? I let it go because I was hoping you’d finally decided to take your freakishness elsewhere, but since you’re still here…”

“I’ll leave; right now!” Harry said quickly, trying to loosen Vernon’s grip on his arm, “Just let me go, and I’ll never bother you again; I swear!”

“And lose out on five thousand pounds a month?” Vernon snorted, “Not a chance! Now that the old freak set things straight, I won’t be letting you out of my house until the summer is over. Come with me boy; you're about to get what you deserve." Vernon began dragging Harry towards the kitchen.

"No! Let me go!" Harry shouted, struggling against his uncles hold, "You can't do this to me; it's child abuse! Uncle Vernon!" Vernon came to a sudden stop and backhanded Harry across the face, knocking his glasses askew and causing him to see stars.

"Shut up boy!" Vernon thundered, shoving Harry so that he crashed through the kitchen door and fell to the floor, "You've had it easy until now, but all that is about to change.” He grabbed Harry’s arm and pulled him to his feet, then pushed him down into a chair, setting a hand on each shoulder and applying pressure to keep him from getting up. Vernon motioned for Petunia, who was standing by the counter, to bring the vials over, "Give him the one to stop him from telling anyone about what happens here,” Vernon instructed, “then we’ll use the one to block his freakishness." Petunia nodded and held up a vial of green potion; Harry bided his time and waited for Petunia to get closer and then he struck out, kicking the vial from her hands. Petunia screamed in shock as the vial fell to the ground and shattered into tiny pieces, green potion splattering everywhere.

"Stupid boy!" Vernon yelled, backhanding Harry again and then slamming his head forward so that it hit the edge of the kitchen table, "You will be cleaning all of this up by hand! But first;" Vernon shoved Harry's chair up to the table so that his chest was pressed against it and he wouldn't be able to kick out any more before pulling the boy's hands behind his back, securing them in one meaty fist. Vernon’s other hand came up to grip Harry’s hair harshly to force his head back, "Okay Petunia; the blue one that blocks his freak powers now; two drops, remember."

Petunia didn't reply, but merely gripped Harry's chin with one hand to force his mouth open; in a last ditch effort to avoid the potion Harry attempted to bite her, and Petunia was quick to slap him across the face several times, before pinching his nose. If he didn’t want to pass out from lack of air, Harry knew he would have to open his mouth; as soon as he did, Petunia poured two drops of the blue potion onto his tongue. There was no need for him to swallow the potion, as it dissolved almost immediately.

A few seconds later Harry cried out in pain as the potion began to work; he felt a harsh tug centered in his midsection, followed by a sharp pain that felt as if someone had taken a knife and stabbed him in the stomach, twisting the blade to deepen the wound. A burning sensation had Harry screaming as his vision went black, and then the pain was gone, leaving in its stead a large gaping hole that left Harry feel exposed. As his vison slowly returned, Harry tried to call on his magic, but he couldn’t feel it anymore-it was gone! Harry fought back a feeling of nausea, as he realized he would be completely at the mercy of his family for the rest of the summer. There was no escape…

Harry was so absorbed by the pain and hopelessness caused by having his magic blocked away, that he actually forgot about his relatives until his uncle dumped him out of the chair and Harry fell in the middle of the shards of broken glass. He cried out again as the sharp edges cut into his skin drawing blood, but quickly shut up when Vernon slapped him once again, before kicking him in the side.

"You will pick up every shard of glass by hand, and then you will clean the rest of this mess up," Vernon hissed, "You are not to make a single sound while you do this, is that understood?" Harry nodded mutely, "Good. When you are done here you will come find me in my office for your punishment." Vernon and Petunia then walked out of the kitchen without a backwards glance, leaving Harry behind to clean up the mess on the floor.

Cleaning up the mess in the kitchen took Harry the better part of an hour, and by the end his hands were covered with cuts and scrapes from the broken vial. Once the floor was spotless Harry considered locking himself in his room until the potion wore off-Dumbledore said to administer it twice a day, so that meant it should wear off after twelve hours-but he knew that Vernon would have no problems breaking down the door. He needed access to his magic so he could escape, but he knew it would be a long time before that happened. Scowling, Harry walked to his uncle's study and knocked on the door. When Vernon called for him to enter he did so hesitantly, and it was with even more trepidation that he closed the door behind him. Vernon pointed to a cup of tea in front of him.

"Drink that!" he barked, "I won't have you getting de-hydrated on me."

"Yes Uncle," Harry replied and picked up the cup with his eyes averted; he knew that the tea was spiked-did Vernon really think he was stupid? Now, the question was which potion had he put in the tea, and would Harry be able to just pretend to drink as he had with Umbridge last year. Harry decided he would just have to take a chance, so he closed his lips tightly and pretended to sip the tea. After his third pretend sip Harry let the teacup fall from his hands and spill on the floor. After a few seconds he looked up and saw Vernon glaring at him angrily. "I'm sorry Uncle," Harry said, "I didn't mean to-“Harry widened his eyes in feigned surprise before throwing an accusing look at his uncle, “You-you drugged the tea! I-I can't-" Vernon stood up to walk around the desk, and grabbed Harry by the throat, lifting him out of the chair and throwing him onto the floor.

“How stupid do you think I am?” Vernon demanded, “You can’t fool me, boy! I gave you the chance to cooperate, but now we’ll do it the hard way.” Harry scooted away from his uncle and got to his feet; he ran for the door, only to discover that it had locked behind him when he entered the room, and a key was needed to open it. Harry spun around, desperate to find another way out, only to have Vernon’s fist catch him in the stomach,

“Let me go!” Harry yelled, throwing his own punch at his uncle; he clipped Vernon on the cheek, and was thrown into a nearby book case in retaliation. Harry felt Vernon grab the back of his shirt, and he was thrown to the floor again; as he pulled himself to his knees, Vernon kicked him in the side, and continued to do so until Harry finally exhausted himself and curled up in the fetal position to protect himself as much as possible. Vernon kicked him over onto his back and knelt over him; Harry’s arms were trapped by Vernon’s knees, and the obese man pinched his nose, before pouring some potion in his mouth. Vernon’s free hand moved to Harry’s jaw, quickly closing his nephew’s mouth before he could spit the potion out. Harry, having no other choice, swallowed the mouthful, and Vernon climbed off him.

“We’ll see you try to fight me now!” Vernon crowed, pulling an unresisting Harry to his feet. Harry tried to pull away, but his body refused to obey him! He attempted to scream, but all that came out was a pathetic whimper as Vernon forced him to lean over the desk, his chest pressed to the wood and his arms hanging limply at his side. “Oh, I’ve been waiting years to do this,” Vernon said behind him, and Harry hear the clink of a belt buckle, “You’ve gone far too long without any punishment, but I’ll fix that tonight. By the time I’m through with you, you’ll never think of disobeying me again.”

Harry’s breathing increased with the fearful anticipation of what was to come, and then he heard a sharp whistle, and a scream was ripped from his throat as he was hit, not with the leather of the belt, but the hard metal belt buckle. Harry’s body jerked involuntarily, and he screamed again as the next lash fell. It seemed, Harry noted absently, in some part of his brain that was not focused on his painful beating, that he could make involuntary movements and sounds, but he couldn’t direct his muscles.

“Freak!” Vernon yelled, striking Harry repeatedly with the belt, tearing his clothes and the tender skin beneath. “This is what you deserve! Do you hear me? You are worthless! Pathetic! Freak!” Harry continued to write and scream as he lost count of the lashes. At one point Vernon paused to give Harry a few drops of a different potion, and he felt the wounds partially heal, only for his uncle to resume his beating, now tearing open scabs in addition to creating new injuries.

It seemed like an eternity that the blows came down, one after the other, ripping his clothes to shreds and leaving his back a raw, bloody mess, but eventually they slowed and then stopped, and Harry could hear his uncle's ragged breathing and his own pitiful whimpers, his throat having gone raw from screaming long ago.

“That should be enough for tonight,” Vernon announced, grabbing Harry by the back of the neck and carelessly shoving him away from the desk. Harry whimpered again as he landed in the chair he had occupied earlier, and he discovered he could move again, as he leaned forward so that his back wasn’t touching the rough fabric of the chair.

“Good; the potion is wearing off,” Vernon noted, “You have ten minutes to collect yourself, then you will find your aunt and receive your list of chores. You will not be permitted to eat or sleep until they are done, do you understand?”

“Y-yes, Uncle Vernon,” Harry stammered. He watched with wide eyes as his uncle exited the office, leaving him alone. Merlin! Harry couldn’t remember every having been beaten so badly! He wasn’t sure if he’d be able to stand, let alone do chores…but if he didn’t get up, then he’d be punished again, and he was in no shape to take another beating. Harry closed his eyes, recalling everything Snape had told him about Occlumency last year, and managed to push the pain away; he couldn’t clear his mind, but he could choose not to focus on something that would only make him weak.

Once he felt that he was sufficiently prepared, Harry got to his feet and exited the study. He searched out Petunia, and found her at her desk in the parlor.

“There you are!” she snapped when she caught sight of Harry, “About time! What have you done to your clothes? You freak! You’ve gotten blood everywhere! Well, that will be your first task; you will clean up all this blood, and then you will complete everything on this list. If you haven’t finished by morning, you will stop at six a.m. to fix Vernon his breakfast, and then return to your chore list. Well? Get started!” Harry took the list Petunia thrust at him and secured it in his pocket, before heading to the kitchen and getting out the cleaning supplies. He returned to Vernon’s office first, and began the slow task of cleaning up the blood in there, before following the trail back out to the parlor.

By the time he finished cleaning up the blood, Vernon and Petunia had gone up to bed, but only after Vernon had taken all of Harry’s belongings out of the cupboard under the stairs and moved them up to Harry’s bedroom; Vernon secured the room with locks, and then informed Harry that, when he earned the privilege of sleeping, he would do so in the cupboard. Hedwig, thankfully, was safe, Harry having lent her to Fred and George.

After the Dursley’s went to bed, Harry looked at the remaining list of chores; he was to clean and dust every room on the ground floor, clean the guest bathroom, pull out the holiday dishes and wash and dry them, polish the silver, wash all the windows, and wax the kitchen floor. Harry knew he couldn’t possibly complete all this before morning, and resolved himself to a night without sleep.

By the time Vernon left for work, Harry had finished the cleaning and dusting the ground floor, cleaning the guest bathroom, and had waxed the kitchen floor. He had also finished washing and drying the holiday dishes, and he was in the process of polishing the silver. He set it aside in the formal dining room so that he could start breakfast, and was relieved when Vernon left for work without giving him another beating, although his uncle did take a few minutes to give him the magic blocking potion again. Harry washed the dishes, then resumed polishing the silver. He was just getting ready to start on the windows, when Aunt Petunia came downstairs.

“Dudley will be getting up in an hour,” Petunia informed him, “I expect you to have his breakfast ready when he gets down here. The windows can be washed later; after Dudley eats you will weed the garden. If you are finished by noon then you will eat, if not then you will have no food until tomorrow. Once you finish the garden, I will have another list of chores for you to complete before bedtime. Now, go change out of those rags!”

“Yes, Aunt Petunia,” Harry replied. He found an outfit that had belonged to Dudley-a pair of worn jeans and an old t-shirt-in the cupboard, and he quickly changed, wincing as he pulled the scraps of fabric away from the wounds on his back.

Harry didn’t finish the garden until after two, so Petunia refused him lunch. Once he finally finished, she sent him upstairs to clean Dudley’s bedroom, and then he washed the windows, finishing them just before Vernon got home. Vernon then instructed Harry to wash the car, while the rest of the family relaxed inside.

Harry was just finishing rinsing the soap off the driveway, when he saw a group of Dudley’s friends go up to the front door. They all sneered at Harry as they passed, calling him names, and Dudley’s best friend, Piers, pushed Harry down. Harry glared at the group of bigger boys, but chose not to say anything; Harry was too busy planning his escape. Vernon had promised Harry another beating after supper that night, and the brunet was determined to get away before then. His best bet, he decided, would be to slip away while the family was eating, and hide until the magic blocking potion wore off. He would sneak back into the house after the Dursley’s were in bed and get his belongings, then escape. He’d like to take everything with him, but Harry knew that wasn’t practical, so he decided he would take everything from his parents, his wand and the Marauder’s Map, then fly his Firebolt out the window and summon the Knight Bus…he wasn’t sure where he would go after that, but at least he would be away from the Muggles.

Harry was so busy planning his escape, that he didn’t realize his Dudley and his gang had come back outside until someone grabbed his arm.

“Got him!” Piers shouted; Harry jerked his arm away and heard a satisfying grunt as he jabbed the taller boy in the stomach. Harry pulled away and ran towards the park; there was a wooded area beyond the playground where Harry could hide until the bullies grew tired of chasing him.

“Get him men!” Dudley yelled, and Harry heard the other boys chase after him. Harry cut across a couple of yards, nearly tripped over a low garden wall, and continued running. He knew Dudley wouldn’t be too far behind-the bastard had gotten in better shape over the past two years, and now had muscle instead of fat-and his only chance at escape was to hit the tree line before his cousin caught up.

When he reached the park, Harry put on a burst of speed, ignoring the stitch in his side and the ache of his wounds from the night before-he knew he was bleeding again, but it probably didn’t show through the black shirt he was wearing. Harry was almost to the tree line; he knew the woods better than any of the other boys and soon he’d be safe. Harry cried out in pain as a blur came at him from the left, tackling him to the ground.

“Got him!” Harry didn’t recognize the voice belonging to the boy sitting on his chest, but he didn’t really care who it was; he just needed to get away! With that in mind, Harry bucked and twisted; the weight on his chest lifted, allowing Harry to roll over onto his stomach, but two pairs of hands quickly grabbed his arms and pulled him to his feet. Before he could get his balance, Harry was pushed against a tree, and then he grunted as a fist connected with his stomach, even as the harsh tree bark exacerbated the injuries from Vernon’s beating the night before.

“Good job men!” Dudley sounded like he was only slightly out of breath, and he gave Harry a nasty grin as he stopped in front of his cousin. “Hold him while I give the freak the medicine his school sent home with him.” Harry kicked and yelled as he tried to get away from the hands holding him, but he couldn’t fight against so many, and soon he had taken another dose of the magic blocking potion. “Now, let’s get out of sight. Follow me.” Harry continued to struggle as the group of boys drug him into the woods; he landed a few hits, and yelled bloody-murder, but it was no use, and soon he found himself thrown to the ground in a clearing.

“What’s the matter, Big D?” Harry spat, “Can’t take me without your lackeys to hold me down?”

“Shut it, freak!” Dudley kicked him in the side, “You think you’re so special, don’t you! Well, I’m going to show you what real men do to little freaks like you! Stand up!” Harry glared up at his cousin, slowly getting to his feet; his glasses had been knocked askew, and he took a moment to fix them as he searched for a way out. If only Dudley hadn’t brought so many of his friends with him…or if only they would get distracted. Harry only needed to distract them for a moment, then he could disappear into the woods.

“You think I can’t teach you a lesson by myself?” Dudley demanded, “You think you can take me on? Then let’s do it; come on, freak! Show us what you’re made of!”

“Are you sure?” Harry asked, pretending to be concerned, “I mean, I know you’ve never taken on anyone by yourself; you sure you don’t need your lackeys help? I’d hate for you to-Oh! Um, hi Mrs. Figg.” Harry widened his eyes and smiled at something behind Dudley, causing his cousin and his friends to spin around; Harry took the chance and pushed through the distracted boys.

Harry heard angry shouts behind him, but ignored it as he ran through the trees, his experience in the woods helping him to leave the other boys quickly behind. He didn’t slow down, however, until he came to an area where four trees grew close together, their large roots protruding from the ground and several bushes growing at the base of the trees. Without hesitation, Harry ducked under one of the roots, pushed his way through the bushes, and finally came to a stop in the large hollow beneath the trees; even if Dudley did find him here, neither him nor any of his friends were small enough to get through the roots, meaning Harry was safe for now.

Harry listened intently to the shouts that sounded in the woods, holding his breath when footsteps ran right past his hiding spot. After several minutes, the voices faded and Harry was able to relax in the knowledge that he was safe, and alone. Exhausted from being up all night and running from Dudley’s gang, Harry decided to take a nap, hoping that the rest would also make his injuries stop hurting so badly. Having used this as a hiding place in the past, Harry had stocked it with some blankets and bottled water; he quickly drank half a bottle of water, then wrapped a blanket around himself and curled up facing the small path leading out of the hollow. Within moments, Harry was fast asleep.

Harry wasn’t sure how long he slept for, but the hollow was completely dark when he finally awoke. He felt more refreshed, but winced as he stretched, irritating the numerous wounds he had received from his uncle and cousin. Harry finished off the bottle of water he had opened earlier, then drank another half bottle of water, before crawling out of the hollow; he stayed hidden in the bushes as he looked around, and saw that it was full dark. The question, he thought, was whether it was late enough for the Dursley’s to be in bed yet; he didn’t want to go back to the house too early and get another beating. Then again, if he stayed away too long they might contact Dumbledore, and then Harry would really be in trouble.

With a sigh, Harry moved out of the bushes and slowly began walking towards the park; he would be able to see some houses from the edge of the woods, and if he saw a lot of lights still on then he would know to wait a while longer.

It only took Harry a few minutes to make it to the park, and the lights in the houses across the street were all off. He figured it should be safe enough to return to his relatives’ house, and so he casually walked down the street, staying in shadows when possible, but being careful to act as if he wasn’t worried about being seen.

When he turned down Privet Drive, Harry saw that Mrs. Figg had her porch light on, and so did the neighbor’s across the street at Number 5. The Dursley house was dark, except for a glowing blue light in Dudley’s room, which Harry knew would be the Telly. With any luck, Dudley would have the volume loud enough to mask any sounds Harry might make while breaking in.

Harry wasted no time in crossing the street and slipping into the backyard, where a large tree grew close to his old bedroom; Harry had used it to sneak out of the house quite a few times the previous summer, as he was chafing under Dumbledore’s restrictions. He had no trouble climbing the tree, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the window was unlocked. Harry quietly pushed the window open, then crawled through; he had just pulled his legs through the window, when the light came on to reveal a smirking Vernon standing in front of the door.

“Not so smart now, are you freak?” Harry’s eyes widened and he turned back to the window, but Vernon was faster; he kicked Harry in the side, knocking the wind out of him-and likely cracking a rib or two-then pulled the boy’s arms behind his back and bound them tightly with rope. Once Harry was bound, he gave him a few drops of healing potion (“Can’t have you being useless.”), then grabbed Harry by his hair and dragged him out into the hallway.

“Dudley!” He called, opening Dudley’s bedroom door, “The freak came back; since he cost you some of your allowance by escaping on your watch, I thought I’d let you take care of his punishment. Just don’t kill him, and make sure the neighbors don’t hear him scream. When you’re done, throw him in his cupboard; he won’t eat again until you allow it.”

“Yes, dad,” Dudley agreed, glaring at Harry, “Don’t worry; I’ll teach the freak a lesson.”

“Good man, Dudley,” Vernon said proudly, yanking Harry to his feet and then throwing him into the room, “When I get home from work tomorrow, I’ll let you borrow the car to go see that film you were talking about.” Dudley nodded his thanks, then turned his beady eyes onto Harry once the door was closed.

“I’m going to enjoy this, freak,” Dudley growled, “I got in trouble with Dad because of you!”

“Oh, did poor little Duddikins disappoint Mummy and Daddy?” Harry mocked as he maneuvered himself onto his knees, before standing up, “Poor Dudders! What, did they take away your second helping of dessert? Or-“ Harry gasped in pain as Dudley, his face red with anger, punched him in the jaw, following it up with a jab to the stomach.

“Shut it, freak!” Dudley punched him in the stomach again, “I’ll teach you to talk to me like that!” The next punch knocked Harry to the ground, and then a hit to the side of his head had him seeing stars. He barely registered as Dudley tied his feet together, muttering something the whole time, but his eyes widened as a wad of cloth was shoved into his mouth, being held in place by some duct tape.

Harry began struggling in his bonds as he heard something heavy fall to the ground, then Dudley began dragging him over to the corned. A kick to the stomach had Harry feeling too weak to fight as Dudley untied his hands only to re-bind them in front of him, before leaving his room for a moment. Dudley quickly returned, along with Vernon, and Harry soon found himself being lifted off the ground; with Vernon holding Harry, Dudley was able to attach the rope around the brunet’s wrists to something and, as soon as he was secure, Vernon let go. Harry cried out behind his gag as his arms were stretched painfully above his head, his bindings preventing him from falling to the ground. Tilting his head back, Harry saw that he was hanging from the hook that normally held Dudley’s punching bag; his bonds were short enough that he couldn’t touch the floor, and his fruitless struggles simply caused his body to sway.

“Looks like you’ll be of some use for once freak,” Vernon laughed, “I’ve been meaning to get Dudley a new punching bag, but I think you’ll be a fine substitute. He’s yours for the rest of the summer son; just make sure to store him in the cupboard when you’re done, and I’ll help you hang him back up whenever you need to practice.” Harry didn’t hear Dudley’s reply, but it didn’t really matter what his cousin said; Harry knew what was coming, and there was no way around it.

After a few moments Dudley came back to stand in front of Harry, and the evil glint in those watery blue eyes filled him with dread. He was determined not to show it however, so Harry merely glared at the boy in front of him, before turning his head to the side in an obvious dismissal. He wanted to grin when he heard Dudley growl in annoyance, but then the first blow landed on his side, followed by another on his back and three to his face. After that, Harry soon lost count of the number of times he was struck, and instead found himself praying for blessed darkness.

Sometime later, Harry awoke in his cupboard, his limbs still bound and the gag still firmly in place. He carefully moved, only to scream into his gag at the burning pain he felt; he had numerous knew bruises, and likely a few broken ribs as well, not to mention his left eye was swollen shut. At this rate, Harry knew he would be dead by the end of the week.

Harry’s thoughts were interrupted as the cupboard door was yanked open, and Aunt Petunia’s thin face appeared in the scant light.

“If you fight me, you will get a strapping you’ll never forget, understand?” Harry nodded once, and Petunia reached in to untie his gag, before pressing a vial of familiar potion against his lips. Harry swallowed it automatically, then reluctantly allowed Petunia to replace the gag. “You’re to stay in here until Vernon gets home; I have some people coming over, so don’t you dare make a sound!” Harry shook his head fearfully, and closed his eyes in relief when the door was shut; with Harry bound as he was, Petunia didn’t even bother sliding the bolt to lock him in.

A little while later, Harry heard the doorbell ring, and then the living room was full of the sound of women gossiping. Knowing that Petunia would be less likely to hear him moving around with company to distract her, Harry began to work on getting free; first he loosened the gag, and he was soon able to spit the wad of cloth out. He worked his jaw for a few minutes, then began trying to free his wrists. It took far longer than Harry was comfortable with, but he was eventually able to get enough slack to slip one hand free of the rope, and then he used his free hand and his teeth the loosen the knot around his other wrist. The rope around his ankles was quickly untied, and then Harry focused on slowly moving his limbs, both to get the blood circulating again and to get used to the pain from his numerous injuries.

Once he was free from his bindings, Harry lay down on his cot and began trying to come up with an escape plan. It would have to be before Vernon came home, he knew, and before Dudley came back to the house; he could fight off Petunia if he had to, but there was no way he would be able to fight either his uncle or cousin. If only Petunia would take her friends outside, or even to the kitchen, then Harry could sneak upstairs, grab the important stuff and climb out the window. As if reading his mind, Harry heard Petunia offer to show her friends the garden, which “I just finished getting in order yesterday”, followed by the sound of feminine voices retreating. Harry waited only a few seconds, then quickly opened the cupboard door and made his way upstairs.

Instead of going straight to the room where his stuff was, Harry first detoured into Vernon and Petunia’s bedroom, where he saw four potions vials lined up on the bedside table. Harry picked up the disorienting and muscle weakening potions and dumped them on the floor, then looked at the two remaining potions; one, he knew, would heal his injuries, while the other would simply glamour them to look healed. Unfortunately, both were the same shade of dark blue, so he was unable to tell which was the actual healing potion. Not wanting to waste any more time, Harry decided to just take a sip of each, then he pocketed the vials and left the room.

A few minutes later found Harry in his old bedroom kneeling in front of his trunk. It had only taken him seconds to open it-the key had been hidden under a loose floorboard-and he was about to start looking for his invisibility cloak, when something caught his eye. It was a pair of mismatched socks, one sock red with flying golden snitches and the other gold with red brooms; the socks had been a gift from Dobby, and Harry nearly slapped himself for not thinking about the little elf sooner.

“Dobby!” Harry whispered; seconds passed and nothing happened, so he tried again; “Dobby, I need you!” Somehow sensing the need to be quiet, Dobby suddenly appeared in front of Harry, and without the loud Crack! that usually heralded his arrival. Before Dobby could say anything, Harry covered the elf’s mouth and quickly explained.

“We have to be quiet Dobby; if anyone finds you here we’re both dead, but I need your help. Please, set up a ward so that no one can hear us or sense any magic in this house; can you do that?” Dobby quickly nodded his head, his ears flapping back and forth, and Harry removed his hand. Dobby snapped twice, and only then did he speak.

“Dobby is helping Harry Potter sir!” the elf squeaked, his green eyes wide, “Harry Potter sir is hurt! Dobby will be telling Dumble-”

“No!” Harry interrupted, “I can’t-you can’t tell Dumbledore. I’ll explain later why later, but first I need to get away from here Dobby; someone gave my relatives a potion to block my magic, and I need to go somewhere safe until the potion wears off, but I don’t want anyone to recognize me. I don’t know who I can trust, other than you, so you can’t tell anyone else yet, okay Dobby?”

"The great Harry Potter trusts...me?" Dobby whispered in disbelief, his green eyes welling up in tears, "Oh, Dobby is so happy! Dobby can help Harry Potter sir hide until he is better! Dobby just needs to get something!" Dobby popped out, leaving Harry startled and a little uneasy as he didn't know where the little house elf had gone, but Dobby returned after only a few moments, holding a black leather collar in his hands.

"What is that?" Harry asked warily, and Dobby grinned.

"It is a magic collar," he said excitedly, "The collar is letting you be your animagus form even if you is not knowing how; it is keeping you that way until you is being able to use your magic again. Dobby can take Harry Potter to a safe place once he is using the collar!"

"That's brilliant!" Harry smiled, "But what about my stuff? I won't need any of my things while I'm in animal form, but I can't leave them here."

"Dobby is being shrinking them and turning them into a charm until Harry Potter is needing them," Dobby offered, "Is Harry Potter wanting to use the collar?" Harry was silent for a moment as he thought about it. He wasn’t sure if he really wanted to transform into his animagus form as he didn't know what it was-what if he turned out to be a helpless bunny or something? -but he couldn’t think any other options, so he sighed and nodded.

"Okay," he agreed, "I'll use the collar; how does it work?"

"Harry Potter is just putting the collar on and the magic is changing him,” Dobby said, "When nasty potion is out of Harry Potter's body he is being able to change back. Dobby is to be taking Harry Potter somewhere safe, and is checking on Harry Potter in two days if he is not calling for Dobby by then."

"Sounds good," Harry nodded, "I just have to write a few letters; can you make sure they get delivered? I loaned Hedwig to the Weasley twins.” Dobby readily agreed, so Harry quickly wrote out several letters; Ron, Hermione, the twins, Neville, and Dumbledore each got a letter and, after a moment of hesitation, Harry penned a final letter. “This last letter,” Harry began, “I need you to make sure that Hedwig delivers it; you can tell the twins, just don’t let them know who the letter is for, okay?”

“Yes sir, Harry Potter sir,” Dobby agreed, accepting the handful of letters, “Dobby is making sure all of the letters is being delivered. Is Harry Potter ready?” Harry took a deep breath, then nodded.

“Okay, I’m ready,” he said, “Can you go ahead and shrink my trunk? And after I transform I want a mirror, so I can see what I look like." Dobby agreed and quickly shrunk Harry's belongings, turning them into a charm that was attached to the collar. Taking a deep breath Harry thanked Dobby for his help and then let the house elf fasten the collar around his neck. For a few seconds nothing happened, then Harry felt a tingling sensation throughout his body, followed by a painful twisting sensation that made him close his eyes and cry out in pain; the pain wasn’t quite as bad as what he had felt when his magic had been locked away, but he was still on the verge of blacking out when the pain finally began to recede before vanishing completely.

Hearing Dobby gasp Harry opened his eyes and lifted his head slowly; looking down he noticed that he was a largish-type animal, with four legs and a tail that lashed out behind him. Dobby snapped, causing a mirror to appear, and Harry stared at his appearance, very pleased with what he saw. His animagus form was a large, black jungle cat-a panther, perhaps? -and he still had the same emerald eyes and-he noticed with disgust-a small white marking in the shape of a lightning bolt on his forehead; on closer inspection Harry saw that, barely visible against his already black fur, were even darker black stripes.

"Harry Potter sir is black a tiger," Dobby said excitedly, "They is being very rare-Harry Potter is being even more powerful than Dobby thought! Dobby is proud to serve Harry Potter!" Harry tilted his head, eying the elf curiously, but as he was unable to ask the questions swimming through his mind he butted Dobby with his head and walked to the door-or attempted to anyway; it took him some time to coordinate walking on four legs, but once he realized his tail played a big part in helping him balance it got easier.

When he saw that Harry was comfortable in his animal form, Dobby placed a hand on his collar and apparated them to a forest.

"This place is being far away from the bad people who hurt Harry Potter," Dobby informed him, "Harry Potter is being careful; there is being wizards close by, but they is not looking for Harry Potter so Harry Potter is being safe." Harry butted his head against Dobby in thanks and then bound further into the forest, quickly leaving the small house elf behind.

Once he felt like he was far enough away from the spot where he and Dobby had entered the forest, Harry slowed down and began looking for a suitable place to spend the night. His feline senses were able to detect other predators in the forest so Harry figured that his best bet would be to find a tall tree with sturdy branches. As Harry stalked through the trees he noticed that the pain in his back was slowly increasing and he realized that the potion must only offer temporary relief; either that or the potion didn't work on his animagus form.

As he pondered this, Harry slowly became aware of the sound of running water and followed it to a stream; after verifying that there was no immediate danger near the stream, the black tiger crouched down to drink, keeping his senses open. Nearby Harry heard the sound of another animal, and determined that it was probably a deer; he was disturbed to realize that he was hungry, and the predatory instincts of his current form were making it hard for him to resist chasing after the animal and turning it into supper. Instead, Harry drank as much water as he could and then climbed a nearby oak tree which he decided would make a good place to sleep. He climbed up to the highest branch that was still sturdy enough to hold him, and surveyed the land below; there didn't seem to be much in the way of human habitation, but to the north of him Harry saw a large manor with what appeared to be albino turkeys in the front yard. The house was far enough away that Harry felt safe and yet close enough so that, after he rested, he would be able to see who lived there-if it was someone he knew maybe they would be able to help him.

Having satisfied himself that he would be safe for the time being, Harry lay down on a large branch and was quickly asleep.

 

Chapter Text

It was late afternoon when Harry awoke (having unknowingly slept for almost twenty-four straight hours) and he was slightly disconcerted to find himself sleeping in a tree, covered in fur. After a few seconds the events from the past two days came back to him, and Harry wondered why he was still in his animagus form-surely it had been twelve hours by now, shouldn't the potion be gone from his system? Maybe he had to do something, like call on his magic, to regain his human form.

Harry closed his eyes, concentrating on his magic and imaging his human form, and was pleased when he felt a familiar tingling going through his body, but it was quickly replaced by a fierce burning sensation that made him shriek in pain, a sound which he was vaguely aware echoed throughout the forest.

When the pain faded Harry was disappointed to note that he was still in his animagus form, the painful burning from his attempt at changing back still lingering as if in warning. Harry lay down on the branch, panting as he thought about what happened; his magic was back-he had felt that familiar rush when he tried to change back to his human form-so he shouldn't be a tiger anymore unless...he growled lowly, as he realized that Dobby must have given him a magical item that the house elf didn't have all the information on. Obviously there was something else required to cancel the spell, but Harry would have to wait for Dobby to come back and check on him, which meant he was stuck in his animagus form for the next two days.

After lying on the branch and sulking for a while Harry realized that he was hungry, and knew that-as distasteful as it was to his human mind-he would have to hunt. Mentally preparing himself for a long day, Harry scanned the area to make sure that there were no people or animals around and then descended from the tree so that he could drink from the stream again.

Once he had quenched his thirst Harry gave in to his stomach and decided to find something to eat. At least the pain he had felt before falling asleep last night was gone- he figured his magic must have helped to get rid of the lingering aches while he slept- so Harry didn't have to worry about it distracting him. He decided he would catch some of the fish he had seen in the stream-a lot of people ate sushi, and this was the same thing, right? In any case, it was more appealing than the thought of hunting down and eating a deer-but his attempts were unsuccessful and he only ended up falling in the water; luckily tigers didn't have a problem with swimming, and the stream was shallow, but it was embarrassing all the same and he could swear the fish were mocking him as they swum around him, darting away before he could catch them.

After pulling himself out of the stream a disgruntled Harry found himself a clearing where he could lay in the sun until his fur dried. He drifted in and out of sleep for a few hours, until his stomach reminded him that he still hadn't eaten. Stretching, Harry recalled the manor he saw last night, and the turkeys in the yard; he knew it would be dangerous to get that close to other humans-other wizards-but by now he was so hungry that getting caught was only a secondary concern, at most.

Harry stalked silently through the forest in the direction of the manor until he came to the edge of the tree line, where the beginning of the grounds was marked by an imposing iron gate that appeared to go all the way around the property. Harry wasted no time in scaling a tree near the gate and leaping through the branches until he found a spot where he could observe the grounds, while still being concealed from any witches or wizards who might appear.

After watching the manor for what felt like hours to his empty stomach, Harry hadn't seen anyone on the grounds and came to the conclusion that no one was home- or, if they were home, they were somewhere within the large manor and unlikely to see him. The large white birds he saw last night were gathered by a pond several yards from the gazebo, and Harry idly thought to himself that they were strange looking turkeys-they seemed to have long, flat tails instead of the fan normally seen on a turkey and they didn't have the beard either. Dismissing it as unimportant, Harry located a branch that was near the fence and allow him easy access to the grounds beyond; he crouched low on the branch and then leapt over the fence, feeling a faint tingle of magic as he crossed the boundary. He crouched behind some topiaries and remained still as he waited to make sure that the wards had not alerted whomever lived here to his presence.

Once he was sure that his arrival had gone unnoticed, Harry quietly began stalking his prey, keeping his body low to the ground and using various flowering plants and the occasional tree to stay hidden. He finally made it to a cluster of bushes near the pond without alerting the turkeys-they really did look strange up close, but Harry’s hunger caused him to once more dismiss the thought-and tensed his muscles as he prepared to spring. Harry let out a roar as he pounced-and found himself frozen in midair, unable to move anything but his eyes as the stupid turkeys ran away in a panic.

"You is a bad cat you is!" Harry heard a squeaky voice that could only belong to a house elf, even though he couldn't see the creature, "Such a bad cat, trying to attack Master's peacocks! Wispy is putting you back in the forest where you is belonging!" The house elf (Wispy?) came into view, and Harry decided that it must be a female, with big blue eyes and wearing a grey towel spotted with dirt. When Wispy was in front of him, she saw something that made her gasp and Harry rolled his eyes at the dramatics of house elves; if she wasn’t going to let him eat the turkeys-er, peacocks-then he wished she’d just put him back in the forest so he could find something else to eat.

"Where is you be getting that?" Wispy demanded, and Harry realized she was pointing at the collar he wore, "That is not belonging to you, no it is not! You is a bad wizard, stealing Master's things and trying to kill his pets! Well, Wispy is telling on you she is! Wispy is getting Master to take care of you, bad wizard!" With a pop Wispy was gone, and Harry began to panic, realizing that he was now at the mercy of an unknown wizard who could potentially be a Death Eater, or even a Dumbledore supporter. He fretted uselessly for a few long moments before he heard a familiar drawling voice;

"Calm down Wispy," the voice was saying, "Father is not here, as you well know, but I will take care of it; if need be the trespasser can rot in the dungeons until Mother gets home. Honestly, I have no idea why you didn't send him to the dungeons in the first place. Oh, stop punishing yourself; it gets tiring!" As the drawling voice got closer Harry could feel his muscles tensing; he knew that voice, and it was possibly worse than Voldemort and Dumbledore combined. "Ah!" There was a breathless exclamation, and Harry could only assume that the wizard had caught sight of him, "A black tiger; I thought those were myth-no one has ever been able to verify sightings."

At this point the wizard walked in front of Harry and he beheld the pale visage and silvery hair of Draco Malfoy, whose blue-grey eyes were full of curiosity and excitement rather than the usual disdain he showed for Harry. Then, those silvery eyes met his, and Draco froze, staring before his gaze slowly trailed up and Harry could tell the exact moment that Draco had spotted his marking by the way the blonde gaped and then slowly smirked. "Leave Wispy," Draco commanded, "I can take care of this-wait. Wispy, as Master here I order you to tell no one of this incident, do you hear me? If you breathe a word of this to anyone, you will get clothes."

"No!" Wispy wailed, "Not clothes! Wispy is telling no one of this! Wispy is a good house elf and keeps Master's secrets!"

"Good, then go," Draco snapped, and a moment later the house elf was gone, leaving Harry alone with Malfoy-and those stupid albino peacocks that got him in this situation. "Well, well Potter," Draco mused, "You always do get yourself in the strangest situations; do you know how many galleons I could get for you?" Harry felt his eyes widen at that, but Malfoy was still talking, "Black tigers are rare, very rare; I’m certain I could find a buyer who wouldn’t even care about the fact that you are an animagus, and not a true tiger.” He paused thoughtfully, before smirking again, “Then again, why should I let someone else own you, when I finally have you exactly where I want you? I’m not certain how you managed to get possession of the collar, however the fact that you put it on just proves I was right about your intelligence-or lack thereof."

Harry narrowed his eyes further and growled threateningly, but the blonde just laughed, reaching out with one long finger to touch Harry's scar in a way so reminiscent of Voldemort in the graveyard two years ago that Harry whimpered in remembered fear, causing Malfoy's eyes to widen as he dropped his hand and Harry closed his eyes in relief.

"We need to talk Potter,” Malfoy's voice was nonchalant, “but we can't do that here as I don't want anyone to know about you-not just yet anyway. So, I am going to release the body-bind, and you will come with me; if you attempt to run or attack me you will regret it, understood? If you understand blink once." Harry growled again, glaring at the blonde, but eventually blinked to signify his understanding and then promptly fell to the ground when the spell was released, just barely managing to land on his feet. He arched his back to stretch out his muscles, feeling pleased as he saw Draco watching him suspiciously, but he was well aware of the wand trained on him and so lowered his head to indicate that he would follow the blonde.

"You must think I'm stupid Potter," Draco scoffed, "No, you will precede me; just walk around the corner of the house and up to the door." Harry bobbed his head once in agreement and then walked around in front of Malfoy; as he began to pass in front of the other wizard he suddenly lashed out with his tail and Draco cried out in surprise as he was knocked off balance.

Harry didn't waste any time but began to run back towards the gate when he was suddenly hit with a pain so intense that all he could do was shriek and writhe on the ground; it was the same feeling he’d gotten when Voldemort held him under the cruciatus. The pain, thankfully, was over in seconds, and he looked up to see a pale-faced Draco Malfoy standing over him; once he saw Harry looking at him Draco schooled his face into a look of cool indifference, but Harry was almost positive he had seen a brief flash of fear in those steely grey eyes.

"I warned you Potter," Draco drawled as Harry slowly sat up, "That collar binds you to my family; if you attack one of us then it will cause you pain-now that you are here it also binds you to Malfoy lands unless I give you permission to leave or remove the collar." At that last part Harry's ears perked up, only to droop again when Malfoy laughed at him, "Oh no Potter, I have no intention of removing that collar, not yet anyway. Now, we still need to get inside so we can talk, but we definitely don't want a repeat of this little stunt, so..."

Malfoy waved his wand and with a whispered word a silver leash attached itself to the collar; as Harry got back to his feet he could feel magic vibrating through the leash and realized that it was telling him which way to go so-with a final narrow-eyed look at Malfoy-Harry headed for the front door of the manor, pulling on the leash until it sent a shock back at him, making him growl lowly, which caused Malfoy to laugh at him again. By the time they reached what were apparently Malfoy's rooms-up two staircases down numerous hallways and located at the back of the house-Harry was beginning to feel worn out. Really, he thought, it was to be expected-in the past forty-eight hours he had been beaten half-to-death twice, turned into a tiger, and put through a painful curse, not to mention he hadn't eaten in three days...

"Here we are Potter," Draco said as they entered a bedroom, "We'll talk in my room; mind, don't go shedding your fur on the furniture. Now, sit down and don't move while I go find the book I need in my father's study." Harry obediently sat down at the foot of the bed, endeavoring to look innocent as Draco gave him a suspicious glare before leaving the room. As soon as the door closed, Harry leapt up onto the bed and rolled around until he got comfortable, making sure he was facing the door so he would be able to see Draco when he returned. When the blonde didn't return immediately, Harry closed his eyes and soon found himself drifting into an uneasy sleep.

"I thought I told you not to shed on the furniture?" the drawling voice woke him up and he lazily opened one eye to look at Malfoy before closing it again and tuning his head to the side, flicking his tail once in an obvious dismissal, "Get off my bed Potter." Draco poked him in the side and Harry started to swipe a paw at him, but stopped himself as he remembered the pain from earlier and instead sat up and fixed Malfoy with an intense stare. "I know I am attractive Potter, but you don't have to stare.” Harry snorted in disbelief; Malfoy thought Harry found him attractive?! Not a chance! “Now, kindly get off of my bed and I will return you to your human form." Upon hearing that Harry leapt off the bed, landing at Draco's feet; the blonde scowled at him and reached out to place a hand on the collar, giving Harry a warning, "This collar binds you to me in human form as well, so please remember that and try not to attack me." Holding his wand in the other hand he touched it to the collar as well and closed his eyes, his lips moving in a silent spell. Harry felt that familiar tingling again and mentally braced himself for the pain that was sure to follow; he was therefore pleasantly surprised when, instead of pain, he simply found himself back in his human body, kneeling on soft carpeting with Malfoy's cool fingers touching his neck under the collar. Harry opened his eyes only to find Malfoy gazing down at him, a small smirk on his face.

"I always knew you'd learn your proper place one day," the blonde smirked, and Harry blushed as he realized he was kneeling at Malfoy's feet. He jerked his head back, feeling Malfoy's fingers reluctantly slip away, and shuffled backwards on his knees until he felt he was a safe enough distance from the blonde; grasping onto the bedpost he pulled himself to his feet, ignoring the sudden flare of pain in his back and sides, as well as the dizziness that threatened to overcome him. Now was not a good time for him to have a relapse, but thankfully the pain quickly subsided and he was able to focus on his immediate problems.

"Get this stupid collar off of me Malfoy," Harry glared at his nemesis, "Just-remove the collar and I'll leave and we'll never speak of this again." Harry tried to sound authoritative, but he had a feeling it wasn’t working, and he was proven right a few seconds later.

"I don't think so Potter," Malfoy replied calmly, "You came here on your own, as near as I can tell, and we have things to discuss. You were hungry enough to attempt eating a peacock-not that I mind necessarily, they are horrid birds, always attacking me as a child-therefore we shall sit down to lunch and talk about how you came to be here and why-as well as why you are in possession of an item that rightfully belongs to my family. Now, sit Potter." Malfoy turned his back on him and walked over to the window where there was a small table with a decent-sized lunch spread out. While the Slytherin's back was turned Harry reached up to pull his trunk off the collar-only to find out it was gone. He looked over at the blonde frantically, only to see Draco smirking and holding the charm in his hand, "You'll get this back later, if you can remain civilized," Malfoy informed him, "Now sit."

"Stupid git," Harry muttered, glaring as he sat across from the blonde, "Fine, what do you want to know?" At Malfoy's nod Harry grabbed an apple and poured a cup of tea; he was starving, but his stomach felt somewhat queasy, and his back was beginning to ache.

"Well, first off I want to know why you are here," Malfoy said, helping himself to some pasta salad, "Trying to spy on me?"

"Hardly," Harry scoffed, "I ran away from home and a...friend gave me this collar so that I could use my animagus form, then helped me hide in the woods near here; I had no idea this is where you lived."

"Well, why did you run away?" Draco persisted, "And how did your friend come across that collar? Eat Potter; I didn't poison the food."

"Can we talk about why I ran away later?" Harry asked, "And I don't think you poisoned it I just...I don't feel very hungry." He took another bit of the apple and felt a wave of nausea break over him as the welts on his back began to burn; Harry closed his eyes and grasped the edge of the table, forcing himself to breathe evenly as the pain increased.

"Potter?" he heard Malfoy's voice as if from far away and attempted to answer, but at that moment it began to feel like all the wounds on his back were ripping open and he let out a loud, pain-filled scream as he felt his ribs crack, before his world was swallowed by darkness.

////////////////////////////////////

“Potter?” Draco would deny it if asked, but he couldn’t help the concern in his voice when he watched Potter sway unsteadily. The brunet’s face was pale, and his hands were shaking severely before he grabbed the edge of the table. Potter was breathing slowly and evenly, but his eyes were closed tight against…what? Pain? Fear? Draco drew his wand, then nearly dropped it when Potter screamed.

"Fuck!" Draco cursed, jumping to his feet as Potter fainted, the brunet’s head falling onto the table, "What the hell is going on?” Draco rushed to the other side of the table, grumbling as he moved. “Why does this have to happen now, when Father is in Azkaban and I am the only one here to deal with it? Stupid Potter!" He glared at the unconscious boy in front of him before placing a hand on Potter’s back, intending to see if he could shake him awake; he frowned when he felt wetness seeping through the black shirt Potter was wearing and quickly pulled it away. Looking down at his hand, Draco saw that there was red liquid on it-Merlin; Potter was bleeding!

Cursing under his breath Draco levitated the brunette to lie face down on his bed, carefully setting his glasses on the bedside table, before murmuring a spell to vanish the shirt. Draco gasped in disbelief and horror, fighting back nausea at the sight before him; Potter's back was ripped to shreds! The boy was covered in bruises as well, with one large, nasty bruise on his left side which indicated broken ribs-and likely internal bleeding. Who would do this to Potter? Perhaps the Dark Lord, but if he'd had Harry-er, Potter-at his mercy he certainly wouldn't have let him go.

Frowning to himself Draco quickly crossed over to his bathroom and grabbed a pot of salve out of the medicine cabinet, at the same time summoning two potions from the shelves near his desk; the salve was some that he used last winter when he fell off his broom. Of course, that was Aunt Bella's fault-she had decided that Draco needed to practice evading curses and hexed him while he was out flying; he had been hit by the body-bind curse and fell into a tree-Bella had made sure he survived, but he'd had a few broken bones and a lot of scratches. The potions were a general healing potion, which should help with the internal bleeding, and a blood replenishing potion.

Draco walked back over to Harry and sat on the edge of the bed; he levitated Potter and turned him onto his back, then helped the unconscious boy to swallow the two potions by using a mild compulsion charm. Draco lightly placed his wand against Potter’s side and slowly chanting a healing spell to fix the boys broken ribs. Once he was done he carefully ran his hand down Potter’s side, and smiled in satisfaction-the ribs were no longer broken.

Next, he maneuvered Potter onto his back again before opening the salve and smelling it to make sure that it was still good. Satisfied that it wasn't spoiled, he scooped out a handful and carefully applied it to the open gashes on Potter's back, feeling relieved when the wounds began to close. Once he had applied the cream to each gash he called for Tillie, his personal house elf.

"What can Tillie be doing for Master?" Tillie squeaked, bowing low as she waited for her orders.

"Bring me a clean cloth and a bowl of warm water," Draco commanded, "And make it fast!" Tillie didn't respond, but merely bowed again and then vanished; a moment later a white cloth and a glass bowl filled with warm water appeared on the nightstand beside his bed, and Draco wet the cloth before gently wiping the blood off of Potter’s back. Severus had taught Draco that too much foreign magic on an injured wizard could cause complications, and so he decided to clean Potter’s wounds the Muggle way. He had to change the water three times, but finally Potter’s back was once more smooth and free of blood, and Draco breathed a sigh of relief as he vanished the dirty bowl and cloth. Potter’s skin was still mottled with bruises, but at least he appeared to be free from serious injuries.

"Well, that's definitely better," he murmured, walking to the bathroom to wash his hands, "Who would have ever thought I would be looking after an injured Harry Potter?" As he washed his hands, Draco thought back to his summer reading as he tried to recall the incantation to cast a diagnostic spell; he needed to see if anything else was wrong with Potter so he could finish healing the boy-the decision about what to do with Potter once he was fully healed would have to wait.

Draco’s thoughts were interrupted by another blood-curdling scream and he ran back to the bed to see his nemesis writhing in pain as the wounds on his back re-appeared, ripping open and pouring blood. "Bloody fucking hell!" Draco cursed, drawing his wand, "Now what do I-?" He began muttering spells under his breath to try and stop the bleeding, but the wounds just seemed to get worse, and this time he heard as Potter’s ribs broke. Draco finally resorted to using a stasis spell, which would keep Potter alive and stop him from losing any more blood until it was cancelled-by which time Draco planned to have help.

But who to call? Mother was in France, and she hated the sight of blood; Madame Pomfrey was out because he didn't know how to get a hold of her during the summer, and he'd sooner kiss a Weasley than call Dumbledore. Draco wasn’t sure the family healer could be trusted to keep quiet about working on Potter, which really only left one person-his godfather. Severus was a Potions Master, but he also had a Healer’s License; Draco just hoped his godfather didn’t alert the Dark Lord right away; it would be a shame to heal Potter only to have him killed immediately after.

Mind made up, Draco cast one last look at the injured boy lying on his bed and then ran from the room to access the Floo down the hall, praying that Severus would be able to help.

\LV/\LV/\LV/\LV/\LV/\LV/

In an old, battered mansion the creature formerly known as Tom Riddle, currently known as the Dark Lord Voldemort, was sitting alone in his office, mulling over plans to-once again- free his (incompetent) supporters from Azkaban when he heard the sound of tapping at the window. Looking up in irritation he almost hexed the annoying bird for interrupting him when he realized that he recognized the owl; the only person he knew with a snowy owl was Harry Potter, but why would he be writing to Lord Voldemort? Perhaps he finally decided to give up? After all, Potter had to have realized by now that there was no way to defeat him. He smirked at this thought before scowling; no, it was more likely that the brat was writing to insult him. Well, only one way to find out.

Still scowling Voldemort waved his hand and the window opened to allow the owl inside; once he took the letter Potter's bird sat on the edge of his desk, looking at him expectantly, so he opened the envelope-how dare Potter use Muggle stationary?-and proceeded to read the letter.

'Lord Voldemort, formerly known as Tom Riddle,

I'm sure you are wondering why I, Harry Potter, am writing to you, so let me assure you that I do not have a death wish, nor am I writing this to mock you-although, you really should get some more competent followers so that you don't have to spend so much time breaking them out of jail. Just saying. Please, excuse my ramblings as I am in quite some pain right now, not to mention my world has crashed down around me (again). I'm sure you don't care too much about what has actually happened, but suffice it to say I have finally been disillusioned with Albus Dumbledore, and my relatives have finally taken the abuse too far so I have decided to leave. Not only am I running away from home but, seeing as how my friends have also abandoned me and my godfather is dead, I have decided to no longer fight for "the light", as they call it. So…I guess you can technically consider this my surrender, only I don't plan on turning myself over to you; maybe it’s more of a resignation? Yes, I am resigning from being ‘The Chosen One’. I would, however, consider joining you if we can come to a mutually beneficial agreement. If that is something you would be interested in, I'm sure you'll figure out a way to contact me, otherwise I will simply stay out of your way as much as possible.

Sincerely,

Harry Potter’

"Well, that was definitely not what I expected," Voldemort mused as he re-read the letter, "I wonder what that old fool has done now to turn the Golden Boy against him…Harry Potter is no longer fighting against me, which can only be good." He was silent for a moment as he thought things over; would having Harry Potter on his side help? It would definitely be a blow to Dumbledore, but there was always the possibility that this was a trap-no that made no sense at all. Just to be safe, however, he would locate Harry Potter, lure him into a false sense of security and then imprison him until he could figure out the best way to use the former savior's defection to his advantage. Having come to a satisfactory decision Voldemort allowed a slow smirk to light up his face as he turned to address the owl.

"Your master wants me to find him," he said, "I will need one of your feathers to do so." The owl hooted softly and flew in a circle around his desk, dropping a single white feather in front of the Dark Lord. "Excellent," Voldemort smiled thinly, then scowled at the owl, "Well? Don't you have somewhere to go?" The owl hooted once again, hopped forward to nip at his fingers, and then was gone before he had a chance to fire off a hex at it. Voldemort glared after the infuriating bird, then turned his attention to the feather in his hand. Post owls had innate magic allowing them to locate their owner no matter where he or she may be; now he simply had to locate Severus get the potion which would allow him to use this feather to locate the so-called Savior. Voldemort left the room, smirking once again as he went off in search of his loyal potions master, eagerly anticipating having Harry Potter at his mercy.

*****Afternoon at Snape Manor

Severus Snape was alone in his sitting room, enjoying a cocktail and contemplating his life. For sixteen years he had been leading a double life or-in Muggle terms-playing both sides of the fence. When he had first joined the Dark Lord he had truly believed in his aims, but then Voldemort's sanity started slipping further and further each year, until he had killed Lily Potter, the only woman Snape had ever loved. The attack on his unrequited love is what had prompted Severus to switch sides, and he became a spy for Albus Dumbledore, which is the only reason he managed to avoid a long stint in Azkaban. Then, the Dark Lord had come back and expected Severus to be a loyal servant once again, while Albus expected him to spy on his former master.

Severus had doubted his decision to switch sides numerous times over the years, but never more often than in the past twenty-four hours. Last night he had been called into Albus’ office on Order business-namely to discuss Potter and reassure everyone that the brat was safe with his relatives-when the headmaster had received an owl from none other than the wonder brat himself. Upon reading the letter-which Potter had, for some reason, written on Muggle stationary-Albus had immediately ended the meeting and left the office, asking Severus to lock up once everyone had gone.

Now, it wasn't very often that Severus had a chance to be alone in Albus’ office, so after the last person left he had cast a non-verbal spell to put all the portraits to sleep and proceeded to snoop.

First, he happened upon the letter from Potter, which he duplicated without reading-best save that for the privacy of his own home-and then he walked over to the cabinet where Albus kept his pensieve and his bottles of memories. Severus wasn't too concerned with the most recent memories because the headmaster generally confided in him, but there was a shelf of memories from just before he 'joined the light' up until a few years after he sided with Albus that he had always been curious about; out of all the memories in the cabinet those were the most heavily warded and finally-after six years of trying-Severus had figured out how to get past the wards without alerting Albus, and he had found a complex spell to duplicate the memories. About ten minutes later Severus had successfully replicated the memories, and then he made sure nothing looked disturbed before cancelling the spell on the portraits and leaving Albus’ office.

Once he got home, the first thing Severus did was read Potter's letter, and he was shocked at the letters contents. Potter claimed to have discovered that Albus was paying the Dursley's to mistreat him and he said he'd finally had enough so he was running away; Severus just scoffed and threw the letter down in disgust-this was obviously more of Potter's delusions, and no doubt Albus would have him out searching for the brat before too long. Knowing that Albus would most likely call on him in the morning, Severus had placed the stolen memories in a secure place and gone to bed. Needless to say, when he had woken up that morning and still had no message from the headmaster he had been shocked but pleased, and figured that Potter had already been found and dealt with, so he enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before taking the memories into his hidden lab for viewing.

After viewing the first set of memories Severus was stunned, but he knew there was more, so he continued to view them, one vial after another. Oddly enough, one of the heavily warded vials was from a few nights ago, but Severus understood why it was there once he viewed it; the memory showed Albus betraying his students trust and giving Muggles-Muggles!-potions to use against him.

It took three and a half hours to view all of the memories, and when he reemerged for the last time he was pale and shaking with disbelief, the only thought going through his mind was Albus lied. Dumbledore-' for he lost every shred of respect he’d ever had for the man- ‘Dumbledore lied.’ The venerable headmaster had been lying to everyone for years, manipulating them and even changing their memories; Albus Dumbledore had betrayed them all in every way imaginable, and he, Severus, was the only one who knew about it.

Severus spent the next few hours trying to decide what to do, and he finally came to the conclusion that he would have to tell his lord, even if it meant feeling the wrath of his displeasure-the Dark Lord needed to know the truth. The hardest thing to come to terms with was the truth about Potter; how in Merlin's name would he ever be able to explain that to the Dark Lord? Well, he would obviously have to show him the stolen memories; Severus had found that, once he allowed the memories to sink in, he had begun remembering other things that had happened, things which had been buried deeply in his mind and locked away without his knowledge. It was highly likely that the Dark Lord would experience the same thing, and further plans could be made once His memories were restored.

Nodding to himself, Severus quickly went through the memories and placed the most important ones in a single vial, which he slipped into his pocket. He then packed the remaining vials of memories, carefully marking each on so that they could be readily accessed when the time came, and headed to his fireplace; he was one of the few who were allowed to Floo directly to the old Riddle Mansion without giving advance notice and now, if ever, was the time to take advantage of that. Severus had just grabbed a handful of Floo powder when green flames burst into life in his fireplace.

"Severus!" He was shocked to see the face of his godson, Draco Malfoy, and he was even more shocked to see the panicked look on his face, "Severus, you have to come through quickly; it's an emergency! Bring healing potions, whatever you have, and come to my room!"

"Slow down Draco," Severus said calmly, "I will be there momentarily, but first I need to know what the problem is so that I can bring the correct potions. Are you hurt? Or is it Narcissa?"

"You have to see it," Draco insisted, "All I can tell you is that there are numerous wounds; I used the healing salve you made for me when I fell off my broom and it helped and I also used some healing potions, but then the wounds re-opened and they wouldn't stop bleeding and the ribs are broken again too; I had to place him in stasis and he's unconscious, so please hurry Sev!"

"Okay," Severus said, "Go back to your room and wait for me; I will be through as soon as I collect some potions. Do not do anything until I get there."

"Okay," Draco agreed, "Just…hurry!" Just then Severus realized he had forgotten to ask an important question.

"Wait! Who is it?" but it was too late; Draco had already gone. He muttered to himself as he went back to his potions lab and filled a bottomless bag with a selection of healing potions; he supposed it didn't really matter who the injured person was-he'd find out soon enough anyway. It only took a few moments and then he was throwing a handful of Floo powder and calling "Malfoy Manor"; he stepped out of the fireplace into the second floor library and headed to Draco's room where he saw his godson sitting on the edge of his bed, next to an unconscious black-haired boy.

"Draco, is that who I think it is?" Severus demanded, slowly approaching the bed. Draco looked up at him with wide eyes that were unable to hide the fear he felt.

"Only if you think it's Harry Potter," Draco drawled, attempting to mask his worry, "I found him prowling around my property, hungry enough to attempt killing one of Father's peacocks, and brought him upstairs where I had the house elves set up lunch. We were sitting at the table and I was trying to find out why he was here when he suddenly screamed and then passed out. I levitated him to the bed, got rid of his shirt and saw…this." He waved his hand over Potter's back, which was covered in blood. "Then I used that salve you made me and it seemed to work at first, then Potter screamed again and the wounds reappeared; I think they're worse than they were before I applied the salve. You aren't going to tell the Dark Lord are you? Because if so you might as well not even heal him."

"Stop being melodramatic," Severus snapped, "I have no intention of turning him over to the Dark Lord-I will at some point have to alert him to Potter's presence, however it is not something to be worried about at the moment. First, I need to find out what potions Potter has taken. Did he have his trunk with him?"

"Yes," Draco nodded and pulled a miniature trunk out of his pocket, handing it to Severus who quickly returned it to the correct size and opened it. A quick spell showed that there would be noting in the trunk to explain what happened, so Severus cast a spell to check Potter’s jeans, and two vials of dark blue potion were discovered. After just a few minutes he had analyzed the potions, and was appalled at what he discovered.

"That stupid old coot," he growled, "How could he do this to his Golden Boy? He really expected Potter to survive the summer? Idiot; he is an imbecile. And the Muggles-well, at least they have an excuse for their ignorance!"

"Um, Sev? What are those potions?" Draco ventured uncertainly, and was startled by the anger he saw in his godfather's eyes.

"It's really Potter's place to tell you what happened," Severus began, "and I do not know everything, but I will tell you that Albus Dumbledore is behind this, and these potions…these potions are a farce. This one," he held up one of the vials, "is a healing potion, which was mixed with a power suppressing potion. The healing potion attempts to fix the injuries, but the power suppressant drains the healing properties. The healing potion will work on the wounds temporarily, but after a while they will re-open and be worse than before; it is the same with the salve you used. The other is a glamour potion, which is also mixed with the suppressant. By mixing the suppressant with the other two potions, Potter is not completely cut off from his power, but most of it is occupied with battling the potions in his system. What we have to do is get the magic suppressing potion out of his system before we can heal his injuries, but that will be difficult to do without him bleeding to death."

"Great, so what do we do?" Draco demanded, "I really don't care to have the Boy-Who-Lived bleed to death in my bed."

"I have to return to Riddle Manor to get something," Severus replied, "You just stay here and watch after him; I should be back in just a few minutes." He swept from the room without awaiting a response and quickly Floo'ed to Riddle Manor, where he stepped out into the empty sitting room. He made his way down the hall to his potions lab-and almost ran into Voldemort, who was just leaving it.

"There you are Severus," the Dark Lord said, "I have been looking for you."

"My Lord," Severus bowed-he wasn't required to kneel unless there was a meeting-, "What can I do for you?"

"I received a most interesting letter this morning," Voldemort informed him, "It was from Harry Potter-" Severus jerked at that and saw the small, cold smile on the Dark Lord's face, "Stand up Severus, so we can have a real conversation. Ah, that's better. Yes, Harry Potter sent me a letter saying that Dumbledore betrayed him and he was no longer going to work for the light-he has even offered to join me; isn't that wonderful news?"

"Yes, My Lord," Severus replied, "I found out just a little while ago that he sent Dumbledore a letter as well, severing all ties, and I happen to have a copy of it, if you wish to see it."

"Not at the moment," Voldemort replied, "So he really has abandoned the light...I had thought that perhaps it was some sort of ploy, but now that I know it isn't...I need to find him. I want to get Harry Potter here, and under my power; once I have him at my mercy then he can be punished for all the trouble he has caused me-and then I will consider allowing him to join us. Now, Severus, I have a feather from his owl and I need one of your locator potions."

"Of course, My Lord," Severus replied, "I keep some here just in case you need them, however, I know where Potter is and he won't be going anywhere. Before I take you to him, I have some very important information for you that could change everything." He reached into his robe pocket and pulled out three vials containing Dumbledore's memories. "I finally managed to get past the wards on Dumbledore's memory cabinet, and these three are the most important memories that I replicated, although I have the rest for you as well." He saw Voldemort narrow his eyes in anger and spoke more quickly, "My Lord, do you remember Elena? Elena Pruitt?" Voldemort paused for a moment, a curious look on his face.

"Elena…" He murmured, and a small smile appeared on his face for just a moment as his eyes flashed brown, "Dark hair, with red highlights and the most beautiful eyes…green eyes. I remember a sweet voice, singing, and laughter…" The Dark Lord’s eyes closed for a moment as if in pain; when he opened them again they had returned to their previous crimson and he regarded Severus coldly, "Why do you mention Elena? She betrayed me; her death was easier than she deserved."

"No," Severus shook his head, "Elena didn't betray you-and she isn't dead." He held up the vial with the combined memories and explained the contents, "This vial contains memories of your school years and immediately after leaving Hogwarts, the truth of what happened that night in Godric's Hollow, and Dumbledore's memories from two nights ago, which are important for you to understand what is happening right now, and why Potter wishes to change sides."

"Elena is alive?" Voldemort hissed, his eyes flashing once again, "She did not betray me? You had better be certain of this Severus, or your punishment shall be swift. Bring me your pensieve and wait as I view the memories."

"Of course, My Lord," Severus agreed, bringing the Dark Lord the pensieve he kept in his lab here; the Dark Lord created a stand for it, and Severus set it down gently before adding the vials of memories, "Harry Potter is currently in stasis at Malfoy Manor, having suffered from grievous injuries the past two days; with your permission I will collect the items needed to save his life while you view the memories.”

"What is wrong with Potter?" Voldemort demanded, so Severus explained his wounds as briefly as possible, shivering when he felt the cold fury of his master’s magic in the air. "Well, I would not want him dying before I can teach him a lesson,” the Dark Lord said calmly, “so you may return to Malfoy Manor to heal the boy, and I will be along once I have viewed the memories."

"Thank you, My Lord," Severus bowed before going into his lab to get the items he would need; when he came back out he bowed again, but his Lord was already in the pensieve so he left the old mansion and returned to Malfoy Manor, where he set about healing the injured child lying broken on his godsons bed.

////////////////////////

Hogwarts Castle, the Headmaster’s Office

Albus Dumbledore was furious, and had destroyed his office in a rage; how did this happen? He had always been so careful with the boy, giving Harry numerous privileges while in school and then ensuring that the Dursley's treated him appropriately during the summer; he had been working on Harry's conditioning for sixteen years, he couldn't fail now! He growled lowly as he re-read the letter he had received the previous evening.

‘Dumbledore,

I know what you've done, and I am disgusted with you; how can you stand to look at yourself in the mirror every morning? You are a teacher and it's your job to protect students; to give my uncle potions that make me helpless is the ultimate betrayal. I also know about you stealing money from my vaults, and I will be talking to the goblins at Gringott’s about it. This is the last time I will ever be in my relative’s home; I am leaving tonight with all my belongings and I withdraw my support from your efforts-I sincerely hope Voldemort Avada Kavadra's you sooner rather than later.

-Harry Potter’

He had ended the Order meeting as soon as he read the letter and apparated to the Weasley's home where he discovered Hermione and Ron had received similar letters, telling them that he was tired of being betrayed and not to expect him over the summer; the teens were justifiably angry at Harry's behavior, but Albus had convinced them to be nice to Harry if they found him and keep him in one place until someone from the Order could come fetch him.

From there, he visited the Dursley’s, but they hadn’t even noticed the boy was missing; evidently he had been thrown into the cupboard the night before, and no one had even thought about him since he was given his dose of Magic Suppressant in the morning. Albus had expressed his displeasure with a few well-placed hexes, and the threat of no more money until the boy had been found before leaving the cringing family of Muggles with the intent of contacting some of Harry’s other friends. He spoke to Longbottom and Lovegood, extracting a promise from each of them that they would let him know if they heard from Harry, and then Albus returned to his office to wait.

Unfortunately, it had been over twenty-four hours since he had received the letter and not only was Harry still missing, but he'd also been unable to get in touch with Severus. This wasn't unusual by any means, but it was rather annoying at the moment, because he knew Severus had to have a potion that would allow him to locate his wayward charge. Scowling at Fawkes, who was entirely too cheerful when Albus was worried about all of his clever plans failing, he decided that Severus would have to pay for this, now he just had to decide on an appropriate punishment and make sure it couldn't be traced back to him. It really was too bad Severus didn't have anyone that he was close to-it would be a simple matter to cause that person to fall "through the veil" as Sirius had. That was one of his cleverer tricks, and he wouldn't mind using it again…

Albus sighed and shook his head; he would just have to bide his time with Severus, and as for Harry…well, he would show up eventually, and once he did Albus would make sure his pawn could never try to escape again; it was his duty-anything for the Greater Good…

 

Chapter Text

"Finally," Severus sighed, sitting down at the desk in Draco's room and rubbing his temples, "The magic suppressant is out of Potter's system, and now we can focus on actually healing him." Draco was sitting on the bed next to Potter, his grey eyes weary.

"Two hours just to get that horrible stuff out of his system," the blond scowled shaking his head, "I can't believe Dumbledore would do this to a student-especially Potter! I always thought Potter was his precious Golden Boy…why would he do this?"

"You shall have to wait and ask Potter that question," Severus said, before pinning Draco with a sharp stare, "I have noticed that you seem to be unusually worried about him lately-is there something you would like to share with me Draco?"

"What?" Draco cried indignantly, before schooling his expression into a mask of indifference, "I have no idea what you are talking about Severus; I simply do not want Potter to die in my room because it would look bad and…" he trailed off as he looked down at the unconscious brunette lying helpless on his bed; one hand reached out towards the unruly dark locks, but Draco jerked back before he actually touched the other boy.

"I don't know what's happening Sev,” he admitted quietly, “Ever since I first realized the black tiger in my yard was Potter I just felt drawn to him…actually, I have always been drawn to him, ever since that first day in Madame Malkin’s, and the pull has grown stronger over the years. Today when I realized he was hurt, badly hurt, I realized that I wanted to protect Harry, and get revenge upon whomever did this to him. The thought of having to eventually turn him over to the Dark Lord makes my heart ache and the thought of anyone else touching him…" He let out a low growl and then looked over at Severus with wide eyes; "I don't know what's wrong with me Sev."

"I think I may know," Severus said thoughtfully, "You will be sixteen the day after tomorrow, and that is when powerful wizards come into their Inheritance, as do wizards with so-called "Creature” blood in them. I am sure you know what is in your family's genealogy…"

"Yes," Draco nodded, paling slightly, "There is Veela blood on both sides of my family; oh Merlin! You don't think that Potter is my-"

"You will not finish that sentence if you value your life and my sanity," Severus interrupted, glaring at the young blonde, "However, it does seem plausible; there is no sense in worrying about it just yet because you will not know for certain until your birthday-maybe not even until his birthday. Now, I believe it is time to wake Potter up and give him the healing potions. Afterwards we can discuss the collar he is wearing." He arched a brow at Draco who merely smirked back at him, having recovered a little of his usual attitude. Severus stood up and crossed the room until he stood by the bed looking down at the injured boy.

"Will he even be able to sit up and drink the potions?" Draco wondered, "His back is really torn up, and his ribs are still broken."

"You have some explaining to do Severus," the dangerous purr had them both turning to see Voldemort standing in the doorway; "I thought the boy would be healed by now; why is he still injured?"

"My Lord," Severus bowed, "I just finished purging his body of a magic stripping potion, and now Draco and I are going to give him the healing potions; the injuries are more serious than I had first thought."

"You said you weren't going to tell him," Draco growled, moving to stand between Potter and the Dark Lord while levelling a glare at his godfather, "You lied to me! I can't believe-" he glanced at the Dark Lord standing in his doorway and paled; swallowing nervously, he quickly apologized, "Please forgive me, My Lord; I mean no disrespect, however I have been-"

"Draco has been feeling rather protective of Mr. Potter," Severus interrupted smoothly, "We are not yet certain of the cause, but I will be looking into as soon as I get the boy healed-that is, with your permission, of course."

"You have my permission," Voldemort said carelessly, "Now, finish healing Ha-him; there is much that needs to be discussed." The Dark Lord sat at the table which still held the remnants of the lunch Draco had ordered for himself and Potter earlier, and helped himself to the fruit that had been kept fresh under a cooling charm.

"Of course, My Lord," Severus bowed before turning his attention back to his godson, "Now Draco, I am going to cast a numbing spell on Mr. Potter so that we can wake him up; he will still have control of his limbs, but he won’t be able to feel what he is doing. Because of this, you will need to keep him still so that he does not hurt himself. I will allow you to assist him with drinking the potions, as he will be less likely to cause a scene. First, however, I will fix his ribs so that no further damage is done." Severus touched Potter’s chest with the tip of his wand and chanted the same healing spell Draco had used earlier; once he was finished, he then silently cast the numbing spell and nodded at Draco, indicating for him to remove the stasis charm. A few seconds later they heard a low moan and Harry weakly lifted his head off the pillow.

"Wh-what happened?" the brunette asked, "Where am I?"

"You are in my room Potter," Draco replied, trying to make his voice low and soothing so that Potter wouldn’t panic, "We were discussing your reasons for being here when you passed out in pain; you have three broken ribs, and your back has several lacerations which were bleeding."

"Malfoy?" Harry questioned, squinting as he tried to focus on the blonde-haired boy, but all he could see was a pale blur, "Who else is here? And-I can't feel my body! What did you do to me?!" He began struggling to move, but the numbing spell made it near impossible, and Draco winced as some of the wounds on his back began bleeding again.

"Stop that," he admonished, gently grabbing one of Harry's arms in an attempt to make the other boy lie still, "Only your ribs have been healed so far, and you're making the rest of your injuries worse!" Harry ignored him and continued to struggle, so Draco grabbed a fistful of hair and forced the Gryffindor to look at him; the small pain served to calm the other boy slightly and he looked at Draco with wide green eyes; "Potter; Harry-stop moving so we can help you. If you calm down I'll explain what's going on and then we can heal you and you'll be able to move again, okay?"

"O-okay," Harry agreed quietly, "You never did say who was in here with us."

"Well, you were hurt pretty badly," Draco began, "so I called Severus to help me out and-"

"What?" Harry interrupted, turning his head to try and see his potions professor, "No! Why did you do that? Snape will tell Dumbledore and he'll make me go back; I don't want to go back! I won't go back!" Harry’s expression was mutinous, his green eyes flashing in anger.

"Calm down Potter," Snape drawled, "I have no intention of telling Dumbledore where you are, although I will expect some answers from you once you are healed. Speaking of which, Draco is going to help you sit up and turn over so that you can drink your potions." Harry had quieted down again and he nodded his agreement-or at least tried to nod.

"Um…Malfoy? Can you let go of my hair now?" He asked, "I promise I'll try not to freak out any more."

"Like I would believe that," Draco scoffed, but he released his hair anyway and helped Harry maneuver into a sitting position; once Harry was propped up against the pillows Draco reached over to grab his glasses off the bedside table, placing them carefully on the other boys face. Relieved at being able to see again Harry let his gaze wander the room; there was Snape on the other side of the bed organizing some potions vials and sitting at the table, calmly eating a piece of fruit, was-

"Voldemort!" Harry cried, "Oh Merlin! Why even bother to heal me if he's here? You might as well just let me die!"

"You really are melodramatic," the Dark Lord commented, and Harry knew he had to be losing his mind because Voldemort had just sounded amused; Amused! "I am not here to kill you Harry-I am here in reference to the letter you sent me. You do recall sending me a letter, do you not?"

"A letter? Oh, yes," Harry said weakly, "I-It slipped my mind for a bit, what with everything else that’s been going on. So are you here to negotiate-"

"We will discuss that later," Voldemort interrupted, smirking when Harry glared at him, "Now, you be a good boy and let Severus and Draco here heal you and then we shall have lunch since you passed out before eating."

"It's not my fault," Harry pouted, "I didn't ask my un-you know, never mind. I'm ready to take the potions now Professor Snape."

"Seeing as how it is summer and I am not currently your teacher you may call me Severus," the dark-haired man informed him, "Now, I have three potions for you, and you must drink them all. The first one is to heal the internal damage-how did your ribs get broken?" He handed Harry a red potion and the brunette made a face, downing it all in one go before he answered.

"It was my cousin Dudley," Harry replied, "Or, I guess my uncle could have been partially responsible. The past few days are a little hazy.”

"Yes, well you are lucky you don’t have a punctured lung, although you did have some internal bleeding. It seems your magic was able to heal the most life threatening injuries, even with the suppressant, " Severus said drily as he handed him another potion, this one silver with flecks of blue in it, "This one will heal the outer wounds…" he paused for a moment to allow Harry to drink that one before handing him the final potion, which was a deep purple, "And this one will get rid of any infection." Harry quickly drank the last potion, gagging at the aftertaste.

"Why are these things always so disgusting?" he demanded, "It would be easier to get people to take their potions if they didn't taste like dirty socks."

"There are very complex reasons as to why we are unable to alter the taste of potions," Severus began, "but I would hardly expect you to understand, so I will not waste my time explaining it to you. Now, lie still so I can run a scan and make sure you are healed. You'll need to move Draco." Draco stood up and Severus waved his wand over Harry's body; Harry was encased in a pale blue light and Severus nodded in satisfaction once it faded. "Well, you are perfectly healthy-physically at least; I can in no way vouch for your mental health."

"Yeah yeah; whatever," Harry said dismissively, "Ummm….I'm kind of hungry; do I still get lunch?" Severus rolled his eyes but summoned a house elf and soon the four of them were sitting down to lunch. Harry ate in bed, as Severus said it was best for him not to move too much while the potions settled, and the other three sat at the table by the window.

Once they were done eating Draco sat back down next to Harry on the bed, while Severus and Voldemort conjured comfortable-looking chairs so they could sit nearby.

"Now, Potter," Severus began, "I believe it is time to give us some answers; I discovered a few things last night which we also need to discuss-" he glanced at the Dark Lord who nodded for him to continue, "However first you need to tell us what happened to you-and explain why you are wearing a collar that belongs to the Malfoy family."

"Fine," Harry sighed, leaning back into the pillows and closing his eyes so he wouldn't have to look at anyone, "I guess I should start at the beginning, with my family. Okay, so my relatives have never liked me and they neglected me and called me names all throughout my childhood; they told me my parents were worthless and dies in a car accident and also that magic wasn't real, yet whenever anything happened they blamed me and locked me in the cupboard, although they stopped beating me when I was about eight and my accidental magic destroyed the living room."

"What was that about a cupboard?" Voldemort questioned, "Did they put you in there for punishment?"

"No," Harry opened his eyes and shook his head, then frowned, "Well, yes, but…until I was eleven I slept in the cupboard under the stairs; that was my bedroom. When the Hogwarts letters started arriving, my relatives moved me up to Dudley's second bedroom because they were afraid that they were being watched.” Harry’s expression became one of disgust as he added, “I should have realized something was strange even back then; my letter was actually addressed to the cupboard under the stairs, so Dumbledore-or whomever was in charge of sending out the letters-had to know what was going on.” Harry scowled at the bedsheet, then shook his head and continued, “Anyway, so my family neglected, starved and insulted me for years, but they never hit me after I turned eight, until a couple nights ago. I was sneaking down to the cupboard to get my school things out so I could do my homework when I heard the doorbell ring and then I heard Dumbledore's voice…"

He proceeded to tell them everything that had occurred that night, from being force-fed a potion to getting beat by his uncle to being used as Dudley’s personal punching bag; he explained that Dobby had given him the collar and how he awoke in a tree earlier that day. "…so that's why I ran away and how I came to be wearing a collar that obviously ties me to Malfoy here."

"I will kill them," Voldemort said calmly, but Harry looked up and noticed that his crimson eyes were flashing, "For Muggles to lay hand on a wizard in that manner is simply unacceptable-and Dumbledore! Dumbledore is a disgrace to wizards everywhere; I always knew he was unfit to be headmaster. I will personally make sure that Albus Dumbledore pays for what he did to my-"

"My Lord," Severus interrupted quickly, "Perhaps now would be the time to tell the boys what we discovered last night." The Dark Lord stared at him blankly for a moment, before nodding his agreement.

"Yes, I suppose they deserve to know," the Dark Lord said slowly, "Especially…But I am not sure they will believe it; I had a hard time coming to terms with the information, even after watching the memories."

"Will you two stop being so cryptic and tell me what's going on?" Harry demanded, earning himself a glare from Voldemort, “What? You’re obviously talking about me, or something that concerns me, and so I think I have a right to know what it is! Or, are you going to be like them and keep secrets from me too?”

"Very well," Voldemort agreed, although he was looking at Severus as he spoke, "Perhaps we should allow them to view the memories themselves; is there a pensieve here Draco?"

"Father has one in his office," Draco replied, vaguely realizing that he was suddenly comfortable in the Dark Lord’s presence-when had that happened?- "However it is warded and I am unable to break the wards." He frowned in thought, wanting to prove himself to be helpful-not only to the Dark Lord and Severus, but also to Potter; perhaps especially to Potter, although he pushed that thought away. How could he get to the pensieve without his father?

"Then we shall have to return to my manor," Voldemort said, "Unless Severus would like to go fetch his pensieve?"

"My Lord," Draco said hesitantly, "With your permission, I believe I can order my house elf to go get the pensieve out of Father’s office; it should work, as I am Head of the family whilst he is in-unavailable."

"That would be acceptable," the Dark Lord nodded, and Draco summoned Tillie; once she had her orders it took only a few moments for her to return with the pensieve, and Severus took it from her, carefully setting it on the bed in front of Harry and Draco.

"Severus and I have already viewed these memories," Voldemort informed them as Severus added several memories to the stone basin, "so we shall wait here for you; some of what you see will be very upsetting, but you must not turn away-it is important." Harry and Draco both nodded warily, and Voldemort motioned for them to enter the pensieve. "Go on." Harry glanced at Draco hesitantly and the blonde offered him a small smile before plunging into the memories with Harry following a moment later.

"Now that they are gone," Voldemort began, "We need to talk Severus. You and I both know that I am not exactly what I appear to be; it was Dumbledore who made me this way."

"Yes, My Lord," Severus nodded, "however, I believe that I may be able to help restore you to your normal self, in time."

"You do not have to call me that any longer," Voldemort said, "If you can really restore me to my true form then Voldemort will die, and I will return to being Tom Riddle. In the meantime, when we are in private you may call me Tom; we were friends once Severus and I would like to be again."

"I would like that as well," Severus said softly, "I used to look up to you as an older brother; I wondered why I felt so disappointed with your actions over the years but, now that I have broken through the memory block, I understand. Lucius needs to see the memories as well; in fact, there are many people who need to see those memories, but I do not see how we can reach them all."

"Yes, Dumbledore went to extremes this time, and he has made things extremely difficult for us," Voldemort-or rather, Tom, agreed, "We shall bring Lucius in and allow him to view the memories, and then the three of us can decide where to go from there; it would be dangerous to allow everyone access to the memories right now lest Dumbledore discovers that we have our memories back."

"I agree," Severus said slowly, "However, what about the people who were directly affected by Dumbledore's actions? Those who lost children and loved ones?"

"We will inform them of the truth in time," Tom assured him, "but we would be overwhelmed if we attempted to share the memories with everyone at one time; I already expect to have a difficult time when Harry returns." The room was silent for a moment, then Tom changed the subject, "The boys will be busy watching the memories for some time, so I shall get everyone out of Azkaban and bring Lucius back here; if anyone contacts you advise them to go to a safe house and keep a low profile on my orders."

"I will, Tom," Severus assured him as he pulled a journal out of his robes, "While I wait I will get started on plans for your restoring potion."

"Good," Tom said, "I will be back shortly." He gave Severus a brief nod before leaving the room, and a moment later Severus heard the sound of the Floo in the study being activated. Sparing a quick glance at the boys to make sure they were still okay, he opened his journal to begin the calculations for the potion that would restore Tom Riddle to his former-and hopefully sane-self.

Chapter Text

Harry closed his eyes as he was sucked into the pensieve and didn’t open them until he felt something solid beneath him. Opening his eyes, he found that he and Draco had landed in the familiar Great Hall in Hogwarts, and they were standing in front of the head table. Looking around, Harry saw a familiar mop of dark hair and realized that they had arrived just in time to witness the Sorting of Tom Riddle.

"That's Voldemort," Harry told the blond, not bothering to whisper as he knew they could not be heard by those in the memory, "He changed his name later on, but he was born Tom Marvolo Riddle.” Draco hummed absently, his grey eyes sweeping the great hall before responding.

"Dumbledore doesn't seem to like him much," he pointed out, and Harry turned his gaze to the head table, where a much younger Dumbledore was watching the Sorting, a calculating gleam in the future headmaster's eyes as Tom Riddle took his place at the end of the Slytherin table.

The image around them swirled briefly, before settling on the great hall during the Sorting Ceremony once more; a slightly older Tom-perhaps in second year-was welcoming a new Slytherin to the table.

"Lucius Malfoy," the new student held out his hand, and Tom accepted it, replying, "Tom Riddle."

"Riddle?" Lucius wrinkled his nose, "Isn't that a Muggle name?"

"Unfortunately," Tom replied, scowling, "Professor Dumbledore told me I was a Muggleborn, but I went to the library and found out my mother was a witch, so I guess my father was a Muggle. They must both dead though, as I was raised in a Muggle orphanage."

"How horrible," Lucius said, his tone completely sincere and nothing like what one would expect from Lucius Malfoy, "I can't imagine what it must have been like for you, to be raised among Muggles; tell me, are they truly as barbaric as Father says?"

"They aren't very nice," Tom admitted, "I hate living with them; they think they're so much better than me. I thought everything would be better after I started at Hogwarts, but Headmaster Dippet says I still have to go back every summer; I don’t see why I can’t just stay here." He scowled for a moment before perking up, "I have plans though; I can't do much for myself, but when I graduate from Hogwarts I will go into the ministry and fix it so that other magical children don’t have to grow up like I did."

"Good for you," Lucius said approvingly, "I'll help you; I don’t see why magical children-even Muggleborns-are left with Muggles anyway. The best way to keep magic a secret from Muggles would be to cut all ties, don’t you think?" The memory faded out on the conversation, and Draco looked over at Harry.

"The Dark Lord certainly didn't seem to be evil at that point," he commented, “He was already against Muggles, but he seemed to have good reason, and he wasn’t bent on death and destruction.” Harry nodded his agreement, before pointing out;

"Your dad didn’t seem to be evil yet either," he ignored Draco’s glare and added, "Of course, they were just kids too; I'm sure no one is born evil."

“My father is not evil,” Draco protested, “Just because you don’t agree with some of the things he has done-”

“What? You mean like giving a possessed diary to an eleven-year-old girl? Or beating a House Elf nearly to death? Or trying to attack a twelve-year-old boy because he was stupid enough to be tricked into freeing the House Elf?” Draco’s scowl grew as Harry continued, “I know, how about trying to get Hagrid fired because his son couldn’t be bothered to follow instructions? Or tormenting Muggles while wearing his Death Eater robes? OR, hell, how about becoming a Death Eater in the first place?”

“My father may not have always made the best decisions,” Draco said stiffly, “However, everything he has done has been for the good of my mother and myself; forgive me if I do not think he is evil. As for becoming a Death Eater…well, did you, or did you not, seek out the Dark Lord because the ‘Light’ betrayed you?” Harry was silent, unable to argue with that statement, and Draco smirked at him, “As I thought. Now shush.”

They stopped talking as a new memory appeared, once again of the Sorting Ceremony. Tom and Lucius sat across from one another, and they were joined by Severus Snape, who took a seat beside Lucius. Harry noticed the young Slytherin looking longingly at the Gryffindor table-at his mother, Lily Evans.

"Don't look so gloomy Severus," Lucius said, "That's the girl you told me about over the summer, isn't it?"

"Yes," Severus replied, still not looking away from the Gryffindor table, "That's Lily; I can't believe she's in Gryffindor! She's so nice, and smart, and pretty…" he trailed off blushing, then added; "and she's in the same house as that spoiled prat James Potter! Don't even get me started on Sirius Black!"

"If she's as smart as you say she won't stop being your friend just because she's in a different house," Lucius placated the younger boy, "In fact, she will probably need you more than ever. Oh, by the way Severus, this is my friend Tom Riddle; Tom, this is Severus Snape-we've been friends since we were little."

"Nice to meet you," Severus said shyly, accepting Tom's hand, "Luca told me about you in his letters."

"Hey!" Lucius protested, "I told you not to call me that anymore; if you're going to call me Luca then I'm calling you Sev!" The scene faded out again to the sight of Tom Riddle laughing at the two younger boys, and then it faded back in to show the boys (still the same age as the previous memory) sitting out by the lake joined by Lily and another girl with dark hair and the same green eyes; the new girl was wearing the blue and bronze of Ravenclaw.

"Hey Sev," Lily greeted, "Luca; Tom; this is my cousin Elena I was telling you about. She’s in fourth year with you, Tom. Her father's a Pruitt-distantly related to the Prewitt's here, but their branch of the family moved to America a few generations ago. Elena, this is Severus, Lucius and Tom."

"Hi," Elena smiled at the boys, "It's nice to meet you, although I've seen Tom before in some of my classes; we have potions together and you always beat my score." She mock-glared at him and Tom laughed.

"It’s nice to meet you, Elena," Tom replied, "Is your family still in America?"

"Oh, yes," Elena replied, "My younger brother Alec will be here next year though, and then Jasper will be here the year after. Lily said you have plans for improving the wizarding world; I'd like to hear them, if you don't mind." Tom's expression became excited, but the memory faded out before he started to speak.

"That was strange," Harry said frowning, "I never knew that my mom had a cousin in America-and she was a witch! Everyone always said Mum was a Muggleborn and didn’t know about magic until she met Snape. Why didn't Dumbledore ever tell me? Hell, why didn't he let me stay with her? She obviously liked my Mum!"

"Dumbledore is a manipulative old coot," Draco replied as if that explained everything, and in a way it did. The next memory was a couple years down the road, and Harry recognized a 16-year-old Tom Riddle sitting with Elena out by the lake. The two had books spread out around them, and appeared to have been doing their homework, although they were currently just talking.

"I discovered a secret chamber," Tom was saying, "Sev and Luca are coming with me to see it tonight, and I wondered if you would like to come too?"

"Sounds like fun," Elena smiled, "Where should we meet, and when?"

"Meet outside the girl's loo on the second floor," Tom replied, "an hour before curfew. You can invite Lily too, but only if she leaves Potter and his friends behind; Sev still doesn't feel comfortable around them after what happened last year."

"I don't blame him really," Elena said, "I still can't believe Peter sent Sev in after Remus on the night of a full moon! I swear that boy doesn't have any brains in his head; and I can't even fathom his reasons for doing so-was he trying to get Severus killed, or trying to expose Remus as a werewolf?"

"I have no idea," Tom said, "but we need to keep an eye on him; I still can't believe Dumbledore talked the headmaster out of expelling-or at least suspending-Peter. If Sirius and James hadn't gone after Sev he would probably be dead by now. I'm working on something to pay Pettigrew back though, don't worry." They were silent for a moment, and Tom cleared his throat nervously before speaking up again. "Elena? I was wondering if you would come with me next Hogsmeade weekend; on a date?" Elena's smile was dazzling when she replied;

"I'd love to Tom," she leaned over to kiss his cheek before standing up, "I'll see you tonight at half-ten."

"Tom Riddle-Voldemort-had a girlfriend," Harry said in disbelief, "He was-he was dating my mum’s cousin! And! He's still not evil!"

"It is rather hard to wraps one's mind around, isn't it?" Draco agreed, with a thoughtful frown, "I never thought of the Dark Lord as an actual person; I wonder why Father never mentioned him? Even if he didn't want to tell me that he was the Dark Lord he could have mentioned that he and Uncle Sev had a friend named Tom…" He trailed off as the next memory started; Tom and his friends Severus, Lucius, Lily and Elena, as well as James Potter, Remus Lupin, and Narcissa, Bellatrix, Regulus and Sirius Black were standing in a room that was very familiar to Harry.

"This is the Chamber of Secrets," he whispered and Draco nodded.

"This is Slytherin's hidden chamber," Tom said smugly, "I discovered it last night, and I wanted to share it with my friends."

"Why are they here?" Elena demanded, green eyes flashing as she jerked her chin at Bellatrix and Narcissa, the former of which was standing in between Lucius and Tom, but nearer to the dark-haired boy, "They've never been involved with us before."

"They are here because Lucius and Narcissa have just been notified that they will be married once they graduate Hogwarts and Luca wants to have an honest relationship with his future wife," Severus replied drily, "Bellatrix is here because Narcissa evidently can't keep a secret from her sister any more than Sirius can keep a secret from Reg.” Dark eyes narrowed as Severus sneered at the three Gryffindor boys, “I would have skipped out on this little gathering if I'd known that those three clowns were going to be here."

"Look Severus, I-that is to say, we-” James made a gesture to include Remus and Sirius- “are really sorry about what Peter did. I know you and I have never been close friends, but we were friends of a sort and I'd hate for that idiot’s actions to end that. If you'll accept our apology, Siri, Remus and I will help you prank Peter really good. And, I'll allow you to borrow my invisibility cloak one time for twenty-four hours with no questions asked." Severus scowled and looked over at the wall, but Harry could detect an excited gleam in his eyes.

"Very well," Severus replied, sounding very put-out, "I will accept your apology, with the understanding that you will help me in my revenge against Peter and allow me to borrow your cloak." James held out his hand and Severus shook it, doing the same with Sirius and, with a slight hesitation, Remus.

"Good," Tom said, with the air of someone who was not happy with being ignored for so long, "Now that that's taken care of, I want to introduce you to Salazar Slytherin's familiar. Just a warning-I have warned her not to harm any of you, but you need to avoid looking in her eyes." Tom began hissing and the shape of a large snake appeared, but the memory faded before they could see it clearly.

"What was that?" Draco demanded.

"That was the basilisk that used to live in the Chamber of Secrets," Harry replied musingly, "She wasn't as big as she was when I saw her."

"That thing got bigger?" Draco cried, "And you saw it?"

"I killed it," Harry corrected, "But it was a near-thing." He held out his arm to show Draco the scar from the basilisk's fang; "If Fawkes hadn't been there I would have died. Oh, here's more!" He drew Draco's attention to the new memory, which showed Tom-still sixteen-sitting in an empty classroom with Dumbledore.

"You are very powerful Tom," Dumbledore was saying, "But I feel you are not using your power to its full potential; you are nearly an adult now and it is time for you to start thinking of your future. How would you like to work at Hogwarts after you graduate? I'm sure you have heard that Headmaster Dippet will be retiring at the end of the year, and I have been chosen to take his place."

"That's very generous of you sir," Tom said calmly, "However I will have to decline; I plan to join the ministry so that I can work to change the laws regarding contact between wizards and Muggles, as well as work to improve living conditions for magical children being raised by Muggles."

"Oh?" Dumbledore arched his eyebrow, affecting polite interest, "And how would you improve these conditions?"

"By making sure that all magical children are raised with at least one wizarding parent," Tom replied promptly, "If the child is a Muggleborn, then they will have monthly visits with a magical tutor, and I also think we need to create a new branch in the ministry to monitor magical children living with Muggles so that we can make sure they are not being abused or neglected."

"That's a wonderful idea," Dumbledore beamed, "We already have a department in place to look after pureblood children and it is about time one was created to look after half-bloods and Muggleborns as well. What about improving relations between our two societies? If Muggles understood us better-"

"I don't think so," Tom interrupted, "I feel that contact between our world and the Muggle world should be limited as much as possible; in the past Muggles have persecuted us and at one point nearly eliminated us, and they are still exceedingly violent-I'm sure you've heard of Adolf Hitler? Muggles discriminate against anything that is different, and I don't believe we should associate with them except for when it is absolutely necessary."

"Well, I'm sorry you feel that way my boy," Dumbledore said sadly, "but if you will not work with me then you are my enemy,” Dumbledore’s voice trailed off as he began talking to himself, as if he had forgotten that Tom was still in the room, “I just have to find a way to bring out the darkness which surely lurks within you, and make certain the other teachers see the evil in your soul, but how?" Tom had gotten out of his chair and was slowly making his way to the door, only to freeze when Dumbledore’s twinkling blues eyes focused on him again.

"Ah yes; I overheard the two Black sisters talking about a dark creature that you can control-that will be perfect." He calmly pointed his wand at Tom and said, "Imperio!" Once the boy was under the spells control Dumbledore gave his orders, "You will release the creature you have found and order it to attack-but not kill-Muggleborn students. After ten students have been attacked, you will command your pet to kill…oh, let's say Myrtle, that girl who is always crying. Yes, once Myrtle is dead, you will make sure that Rubeus Hagrid catches you, and you will not harm him. You will speak of this to no one. You may go now." The memory faded once again, and the next one showed Dumbledore talking to a young Hagrid.

"Hagrid I am so sorry about this," Dumbledore said quietly, "I am not sure how he broke free of my spell, but most of the professors think that Tom is a nice young man, and they believe what he is saying."

"But what'll I do professor?" Hagrid was crying, "I ain't got nowhere ter go!"

"Don't worry my dear boy," Dumbledore said soothingly, "You will stay at my family home for now, and once I am headmaster I will give you a job at the school. Now, I managed to get the pieces of your broken wand from the minister, and I have hidden them in this so that you will still be able to perform some magic. Be careful, and don’t let anyone see you using this." Dumbledore handed the young Hagrid a pink umbrella and the scene faded out again.

"I always wondered how he made that umbrella," Harry murmured, "I didn't think he could make it himself, and now I see I was right."

"Shh!" Draco shushed him as the next memory started, showing Tom sitting in a dark room with the same students from before, all of them looking very solemn.

"I know you all heard about what happened," Tom began, "and how Hagrid was blamed for those attacks; well, I'm about to tell you the truth, but you have to swear an unbreakable vow not to tell anyone else." All of the students made the vow and then Tom continued; "It was my fault those students were attacked, and my fault that Myrtle was killed. I released Satomi and she attacked the students, but I did not do it willingly; just after the Holidays Dumbledore put me under the imperius curse because I refused to support his aims, and he told me to make Satomi attack students because he wanted everyone to see how evil I was. After Myrtle died I was supposed to let Hagrid discover me, but Myrtle's death was enough to help me break free of his spell, so I framed the stupid oaf instead."

"That's horrible!" Elena cried, "I can't believe Dumbledore would do something like that; my mom always said that Dumbledore was a great wizard and trustworthy, otherwise she never would have let me, Alec, and Jasper come here. Of course, Daddy always said he never trusted him but…" She frowned as she thought it over and then met Tom's dark brown eyes with her own emerald green, "I believe you Tom, and I will stand by you no matter what." She placed her hand in his and Tom gave a small relieved smile as he looked around at the other students.

"You know Severus and I stand by you," Lucius said, glancing at Narcissa who gave a small nod, "and so do Cissy and Bella."

"I believe you too," James said, "Dumbledore has been acting very strange, and the way he stuck up for Peter…if you need our help, the Marauder's stand behind you 100%!" Sirius and Remus nodded their agreement.

The memory faded into a new one; the same group of students was there but they were all a bit older and they were gathered outside on a sunny day. Tom was standing underneath an archway covered in flowering vines, wearing expensive looking silver dress robes and fidgeting nervously. A soft, haunting melody began to play and everyone looked behind them, standing as Elena came down the aisle on the arm of a man only slightly taller than her, with dark tanned skin, black hair and a mustache, and brown eyes; Elena was wearing pale green dress robes edged in silver and carrying a bouquet of pink and white roses. Elena was followed by what appeared to be her younger sister, a ten-year old girl with dark brown hair and hazel eyes carrying pink roses. The memory became hazy for a few seconds, and then refocused in time for the boys to hear the officiating wizard say;

"With the power vested in me by Merlin and the Ministry of Magic, I now pronounce you husband and wife, bonded for life; you may kiss the bride." There was loud applause as Tom leaned in to give Elena a sweet kiss, and when they broke away there was a faint blush on her cheeks. "I now present to you for the first time Mr. and Mrs. Tom Riddle! What Merlin has joined let no man part."

The memory faded out again, and now Tom and a pregnant Elena were standing in a bedroom along with Severus; Narcissa was lying in the bed holding a small bundle, and Lucius was sitting next to her, smiling proudly.

"I'd like you to meet my son and heir, Draco Lucius Malfoy," Lucius lifted the bundle and tilted his arms so that his friends could see the baby; Draco had a small tuft of silvery-blonde hair and when his eyes opened they could see that they were a pale blue-grey.

"I can't believe you and Cissa are parents first," Elena pouted, "but I have to admit, he is beautiful; he's going to be heartbreaker, that one."

"He's going to be a terror," Severus corrected drily, "A Malfoy for a father and a Black for a mother? Oh yes, he will definitely be a terror." He never-the-less stepped forward and gently touched the baby's cheek, stepping back in surprise as baby Draco let out a plaintive cry.

"Don't worry; he's just hungry," Narcissa laughed, reaching out her arms to take Draco back from Lucius, "You might want to get used to him Sev-after all, we are naming you his godfather." She adjusted Draco to feed him, watching Severus with amused blue eyes.

"G-godfather?" Severus stuttered, paling, "Me? But I don't know anything about raising children!"

"You're the godfather, not the father," Tom pointed out with amusement as he conjured a chair for Elena, "And at least you only have one; I don't know how I'm going to manage two babies!"

"You'll be fine honey," Elena smiled softly at him, "And we'll have Sirius and Bella to help us."

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if one of your babies was a girl?" Narcissa smiled, "Then we could get her to marry Draco-"

"My babies aren't even born yet-there is no way I am going to allow you to plan their marriage," Tom interrupted with a mock glare, "Besides, what if both of the babies are boys?"

"It could still work," Severus said, "You know I've accepted that apprenticeship with Professor Slughorn, and he's working on developing a potion to allow same-sex couples a way to have children."

"We're still not agreeing to an arranged marriage," Elena said firmly, "They will marry whomever they fall in love with, just as I did." She tilted her head back to beam at Tom and he leaned down to capture her lips in a kiss before the scene faded once again.

"You were a rather cute baby," Harry grinned at Draco, "Wonder what happened?"

"I grew up to be devastatingly handsome, of course," Draco smirked, preening a bit before frowning, "This doesn't make any sense though; according to everything we've been taught Voldemort was out killing Muggles at this point, not having babies with a beautiful American witch-and I know I've never heard of him being married!"

"It is strange," Harry agreed frowning, "But hopefully it will make sense soon; here's another memory."

This time it showed Elena lying on a bed in Saint Mungo's, face pale and sweaty as she screamed at the nervous Tom holding her hand; gathered around them were Sirius and Regulus Black, the Potter's, Lucius and Severus, along with a medi-witch and her assistant.

"You bastard!" Elena screamed, "You did this to me! Oh Merlin! I hate you!"

"I hope you aren't that angry when our little one is born," James whispered to Lily, who looked back at him laughing.

"I heard that James Potter!" Elena yelled, "Someone give me my wand so I can hex his balls off!" Draco and Harry were watching the scene with wide eyes, both of them laughing quietly.

"I don't think so, 'Laine," Lily laughed, "I'd really rather my husband keep his bits so we can have more children after this. Besides, I thought you were mad at Tom?"

"Hey!" Tom protested, "Elena is the one who wanted-" he trailed off as he noticed his wife's murderous glare, "Er, I mean, I love you honey?"

"Are you saying this is my fault?" Elena demanded, "That's it! Once these babies are born you are never touching me again! Will somebody please get his devil-spawn out of me!"

"Just relax dear, you're doing fine," the medi-witch said soothingly, and Harry recognized her as Molly Weasley, "Okay, it looks like they're ready to come out; when I give the word I need you to bear down and push, okay sweetie?"

What followed was a long, intense scene that involved a lot of screaming and cursing from Elena, laughter from the men in the room, and encouraging words from Lily and Molly. Harry had turned his head away, in no way ready to experience the mysteries of childbirth, but he looked back over quickly when he heard a loud cry, and was just in time to see the first baby born.

"It's a boy," Molly said cheerfully, severing the umbilical cord and handing the baby to Sirius, who accepted with a broad grin on his face, "Oh, and here comes the next one!" Several minutes later there was another cry, and Molly announced, "A girl! So beautiful!" The new baby was handed over to Regulus once she was cleaned off, and the two godfather's brought the babies over to their parents; an exhausted Elena held the girl, while Tom held their son.

"They are perfect," Tom said breathlessly, leaning over to give Elena a loving kiss, "You did this Elena; you gave me the two most beautiful, perfect children in the world."

"Well, I may have had a bit of help," Elena said impishly, "but they are beautiful, a boy and a girl; how perfect!" The group of friends crowded around to see the new babies; the boy had a shock of thick black hair, and his inquisitive eyes were an intense green, while the girl had blond-ish hair and bright blue eyes. They both had their mother's olive skin tone, and they both seemed oddly observant for newborns.

"What are their names?" Severus asked curiously as he gazed down at the newborn babies.

"Well, the boy will be Hadrian Thomas Riddle," Tom smiled, "and our daughter is Aracely Lorelei Riddle."

"Sirius, we would like for you and my sister Annalisa to be Hadrian's godparents," Elena announced, "Annalisa will be here this weekend; and Regulus, we'd like for you and Bella to be Aracely’s godparent's."

The scene faded, and the boys were left in darkness for a few minutes.

"Voldemort had children," Harry frowned, "He had a loving family and friends, and he was married with two children; Dumbledore always said that Voldemort turned evil because he was alone, and never had any love…"

"Well, we've already realized that Dumbledore is a liar," Draco drawled, "I just don't see how he could have changed everyone's memories…" He was silent for a moment, "Harry, those two babies-no, never mind. Let's just watch."

The next scene was in a large, comfortable-looking room, and it showed Tom and Elena, Lucius and Narcissa, Bellatrix Lestrange and her husband Rodolphus, along with Severus, Sirius, and Regulus sitting on the furniture and watching four babies crawl around on the floor. Draco was obviously one of the children, with his pale blonde hair, and the Riddle twins were also on the floor-Hadrian still had thick black hair, while Aracely’s hair had darkened slightly to have some red highlights in it- and the other child was another girl with a headful of wild black curls; Draco and Hadrian were playing with a stuffed dragon that was flying around their heads, while the girls were coloring happily. There was a noise at the door and it opened to reveal the Potter's with a baby in Lily's arms, Remus, and another young couple he recognized as Alice and Frank Longbottom, along with Augusta Longbottom, who was holding a small boy.

"Good; you're here," Tom nodded at James, Lily and Remus, "And these are the ones you told us about, the Longbottoms'?"

"I am Augusta Longbottom, and this is my son Frank, his wife Alice, and this little boy, this is my grandson Neville," Augusta smiled down at the boy before pinning Tom with a steely gaze, "We normally don't associate much with families who are known for their affinity with the Dark Arts, but Lily and James have convinced me to hear you out."

"We are glad you came," Narcissa smiled, "Why don't you set Neville down and let him play with the others? And Lily, you can put Lillian in the playpen as well."

"Lillian?" Harry frowned as Lily set down a baby with dark red hair and green eyes; "This can't be right."

"Come on Neville," Lily held out her hand to the small boy, leading him over to the children already playing, "Neville, this is Draco," the blonde boy looked up and smiled before returning his attention to the dragon, "Hadrian, Aracely, and Helena," Helena was obviously the dark-haired girl, but…

"Who are her parents?" Harry muttered.

"I think her mother is Bellatrix," Draco murmured back, "See? They both have dark, wild hair and grey eyes like most of the Black's. That would make her a Lestrange, as Aunt Bellatrix married Rodolphus."

Once the children were all settled in, Lucius raised a protective circle around them so that the adults could talk without having to worry about the children over-hearing, even though they really weren't old enough to understand.

"I'm sure there's no need to tell everyone that what's said here cannot be repeated outside of this room," Tom began, "We have put wards up to insure our privacy. We are here to set up an organization to fight Dumbledore's influence in the wizarding world. We have named our group the Order of the Black Rose, for black roses are symbols of death and rebirth-the death of an old way of life and the birth of new."

"Albus Dumbledore is a great wizard and a beacon for the light," Augusta frowned, "Why would you want to oppose him, and why should we work with you? Albus has told us your feelings on Muggleborns."

"Albus Dumbledore is a fool," Severus scoffed, "not to mention a liar. He used the imperious curse on Tom back in sixth year, and he is spreading rumors that we are out to kill all Muggles, which is not true."

"That's right," Remus spoke up, smiling softly at Severus, "Tom has made us see that it is unfair for magical children to be raised completely in the Muggle world; when they are finally brought into our world they are confused and at a disadvantage. We want to make it so that all magical children spend at least some time in the wizard world every year, starting at age five, and Muggleborn children without any wizards in their immediate family tree should start attending a summer camp at age seven or eight so that they can learn the basics and our traditions."

The memory went along the same vein for some time, with the wizards present making a compelling argument, and the Longbottoms nodded thoughtfully.

"I agree with you," Augusta said after some time, and her son and daughter-in-law nodded, "We will join your cause to improve the lives of wizarding children and support you in the ministry. Now, the real problem is dealing with Dumbledore."

The scene faded again, and then showed the Great Hall in Hogwarts, where the group (The Riddles, Malfoy’s, Potter’s, Rabastan, Rodolphus and Bellatrix, Regulus, Sirius and Remus, the Longbottom’s, minus Augusta, and Severus) was gathered at what was normally the Slytherin table, while Dumbledore and a group of other wizards-they must have been his supporters, because Harry recognized Arthur and Molly Weasley, Minerva McGonagall and a young-looking Kingsley, as well as Mad-Eye Moody-were sitting at the teachers table.

"I am very sorry it has come to this," Dumbledore said sadly, "You all have the potential to be very powerful, and we could accomplish much together, but I cannot allow you all to exist at odds with me."

"You cannot stop us," Tom said, "Not unless you plan to kill us all, women and children included."

"Yes, where are your beautiful children?" Dumbledore questioned, "I am surprised you didn't bring them."

"And expose them to you?" Lily scoffed, "We aren't stupid Dumbledore; we have someone we trust watching them."

"Of course," Dumbledore nodded, smiling, "Xenophilius and his wife Artemis must be watching them; how fortunate that the Molly sent her children over as well-along with Peter the two older boys can help keep track of Ron, Percy and the Twins, and before the day is out they will have a new baby sister."

"What are you planning?" Lucius demanded, "You leave our children out of this; they are innocent!"

"Yes, and at least some of them will stay that way," Dumbledore said pleasantly.

"My babies," Elena gasped, "Come Lily; we have to go! Cissy, Bella, Alice-hurry!" The five women ran to the door, only to have it swing open to reveal Peter Pettigrew and a man Harry and Draco recognized as Filch accompanied by the children belonging to the members of the Order of the Black Rose. When the parents tried to claim their children they were blasted back by a bright purple light; when the light vanished only the wizards on Dumbledore's side were still conscious.

"Now we can get started," Dumbledore said, "I have the potions for everyone to take so that our memories will remain the same-except concerning the children-once the children are given to their new families I want them to be safe, so those memories will be altered. Now, first we shall take little Lillian; she already has red hair and I know you and Arthur have always wanted a daughter, so she will be the newest member of the Weasley family. What would you like to name her?"

"Ginerva Molly Weasley," Arthur said promptly, "We discussed it the last time Molly was pregnant."

"Very good," Dumbledore nodded, "Molly, why don't you bring your new daughter over here so we can get started." Molly quickly complied, and soon she and Arthur were standing in front of Dumbledore, holding Lillian Potter between them.

"I don't like this," Harry muttered, and Draco had to fight against his new instinct to protect the brunette; he crossed his arms over his chest and replied, "Neither do I."

"We just need a drop of blood from each of you," Dumbledore held out a vial with a blue potion, and the Weasley's each added a drop of blood; he poured the potion into a baby bottle, and then woke up the sleeping child and used a compulsion spell to make her drink when she would have refused. Once the bottle was empty, the baby began to cry in pain.

"This is barbaric!" Draco said in disgust, "Kidnapping children; I always knew the Weasel's were dirt." Harry could only nod his agreement as he watched in horrified fascination the changes that overcame Lillian Potter-now Ginerva Weasley. Her hair lightened just a shade so that it was only slightly darker than the other Weasley children, and her bright green eyes darkened to brown.

"Oh, she's perfect!" Molly cooed, and she and Arthur walked off a few paces to fawn over their new daughter. Harry and Draco watched as a Muggle couple was brought in, and Helena suffered the same fate, being blood-adopted to Muggles who had their memories changed to believe that she was always their child.

"That's Hermione," Harry frowned, "I-I recognize her parents."

"We will let the Malfoy's keep their spawn," Dumbledore said, "We just need to alter their memories; young Neville can also stay with his parents, but we will give the Riddle boy to the Potter's so that he can be raised to despise the Dark Arts, and Elena and her daughter will be disposed of; it should offer a big enough shock so that we have an advantage over Tom." Dumbledore had his back to his unconscious enemies, so he didn't notice a number of them stirring; Tom and Elena, Narcissa and Lucius, Bellatrix, and Frank and Alice Longbottom seemed to have suffered less from the spell, and they shared a look, nodding briefly before acting.

Dumbledore had no warning before Tom, Lucius, Frank and Bellatrix jumped up and began shooting hexes at the people surrounding Dumbledore; during the distraction Narcissa grabbed Draco, Alice grabbed Neville, and Elena grabbed her two children; the jarring motions had awoken the children, and they were all crying. The women made a run for it, Narcissa in the lead, but they had forgotten about Pettigrew; he sent a stunner which hit Narcissa in the back, and she fell to the ground, losing her grip on Draco.

"Come Draco," Elena commanded, slowing down for a moment, "Come with me and we will get help for Mummy." The sobbing blonde nodded, and allowed Alice to swoop him up in her arms; they stepped out into the corridor and then halted as they came face-to-face with a portly man who immediately held his hands out to show that he was unarmed.

"Stupefy me," he said, "I can't fight Dumbledore, but if you stupefy me you can use the Floo in the teachers’ lounge; Hurry!" Alice nodded and set Draco and Neville down, telling them to follow Elena who continued towards the office, and then stunned her old professor before running after the small group and scooping the boys up again. When they reached the lounge, Alice set the boys on the floor and cast a locking jinx on the door while Elena prepared the fire.

"Take your children through first and then I will send Neville and Draco," Alice instructed, "Are you going to Potter Manor?"

"Yes," Elena nodded, "I will wait fifteen minutes and if you don't come through I will take the children to my parents in America; you and Tom both know how to contact me there." Alice nodded at this and gestured Elena to the fireplace; Alice tossed the Floo powder in for her friend, and then Elena stepped in and stated her destination, disappearing with the twins.

"Okay Draco," Alice knelt down so she was eye level with the blonde child, "Just step in and say 'Potter Manor'; Neville, hold tight to his hand." The two boys nodded at her with wide eyes, but obediently stepped into the fireplace after she threw the powder.

"Potter Manor!" Draco said, looking frightened, and then the two boys were gone; seconds later the door was blasted open, and Dumbledore cast a hex at the witch, knocking her unconscious.

"Stupid, idiotic…" he growled under his breath, "Pettigrew! Take her to the others!"

There was a brief fade out, and then Harry and Draco were back in the Great Hall, where the members of the 'Black Rose' had all been subdued; the Potter's, Severus, Remus and Regulus were awake by this time, and all were glaring at Dumbledore.

"It didn't have to be this way," Dumbledore sighed, "But you all had to work against me; you must know that what I do is always for the Greater Good. No worries though; I will get this all sorted out, I just need to get Elena and the children brought back. Would you like to tell me where they went?" He was met with silence, to which he just smiled, "No matter; I'm sure she went to Potter Manor since it is the most protected and, luckily, I have the head of the Potter line here with me." He approached the bound James and withdrew a dagger which he used to make a long gash in his forearm; he captured the drops of blood in a vial and then walked away, leaving the wound open and bleeding. "I must leave immediately; Peter-clean him up." He swept from the room and it faded into darkness again, before re-focusing on a sitting room where Elena was standing protectively in front of the four children they had rescued.

"You made me chase you my girl," Dumbledore shook his head, "Flooing to Potter Manor and then apparating here; did you really think you could throw me off?"

"Don't do this!" Elena pleaded, "You're supposed to be the paragon of the Light, how can you kill an innocent child?"

"I must in order to protect our world from a greater evil," Dumbledore said, "I have all of your co-conspirators under my power again, and you won't be able to escape, so why not hand over the children and sacrifice your life like a good mother? If we fight I can't guarantee the safety of any of the children, but if you concede to me then only you and your daughter will have to be sacrificed, and I promise it will be painless. Can you really countenance putting other children in danger?" Elena hung her head and Dumbledore smiled in victory.

"No, I can't," she lifted her head and looked at Dumbledore with burning green eyes, "but neither can I allow you to kill my daughter. However…" she paused uncertainly for a moment, looking at the children behind her before meeting Dumbledore's gaze again; "I offer a compromise; you have no intention of killing the boys, correct?" Dumbledore nodded and Elena continued, "Very well; if you promise to do everything in your power to make sure that the boys survive, then I will agree to an Obliviate-I will take my daughter with me and return to my family. I will even bring along one of those memory potions I know Slughorn created so that no one in my family remembers what happened; this way my daughter and I will be out of the way and you can concoct whatever story you wish." Dumbledore was silent in thought for a moment before nodding his agreement.

"Very well," he agreed, "I will spare your lives, if you agree to leave and have your memories altered."

"I want an Unbreakable Vow," Elena said and Dumbledore nodded once again saying; "I will have to get someone to be our binder; I am going to ward the manor behind me, so don't try flooing or apparating out."

"I understand," Elena said, "I will be upstairs collecting anything that is important to my family." She waited for Dumbledore to vanish through the Floo and then ran upstairs; she threw some items in a bag and then went over to a desk in the corner where she pulled out a number of leather-bound books that Harry assumed were journals and placed a charm on them, transfiguring them into pictures of her with three other children who were apparently her siblings. When she was done she went back downstairs and sat down amongst the children, pulling Hadrian and Aracely onto her lap and letting Neville and Draco lean up against her.

"In just a little while things are going to change," she told the children, "I don't know how different it will be, but I hope that no matter what you stick together, because I sense you will need one another. And no matter what, remember that I love you, and your parents love you; do whatever you must to stay safe." She pressed a kiss to the top of each of the children's foreheads just as the whoosh of the fireplace announced Dumbledore's return; he stepped into the room followed by a tall blonde man.

"I'm sorry about this Elena, but I have to do what I can to keep Artemis and Luna safe," the man said sadly, "I would help you if I could."

"I know," Elena replied, "and I don't hold it against you. Can we please just do this before my heart breaks?" Dumbledore nodded his assent and made an Unbreakable Vow to do everything in his power to keep Neville, Draco and Hadrian alive, and then he cast an Obliviate on Elena, giving her the command to take her daughter to America and forget about the other family she was leaving behind. He also handed her a potion and instructed her to give it to everyone in her family, and a moment later she vanished into the Floo with baby Aracely. The memory wavered, changing back to Dumbledore’s point of view.

"Okay Xenophilius, let's get these boys back to Hogwarts," Dumbledore said cheerfully and the scene became fuzzy for a moment before clarifying to reveal the Great Hall once more. Dumbledore forced a potion down Hadrian's throat and then frowned when the baby didn't go through many changes; his hair lightened a shade to become dark brown instead of black, and his lips were fuller, but there were no other visible changes.

“Well, most of you are done for tonight,” Dumbledore announced cheerfully as he faced the bound-and-gagged members of the Order of the Black Rose, several of whom were unconscious and injured, “Moody, if you would be so kind as to take the Potter’s home and see to their memories?” Moody nodded, took baby Hadrian from Dumbledore and crossed over to where the Potter’s were sitting. He grabbed Lily and James’ clasped hands, and then activated a portkey.

Harry stood there in shocked silence, unable to believe what he had just seen; James and Lily had a daughter…they didn’t have a son…James and Lily weren’t his parents.

“Harry,” the brunet jerked away when Draco placed what was supposed to be a comforting hand on his shoulder, “I-”

“Not now,” Harry shook his head, “Let’s just…” He trailed off, forcing himself to focus on the scene in front of him; there would be plenty of time later to figure out what all this meant.

Dumbledore had turned his attention to Sirius and Remus now, and was currently altering their memories, along with those of Severus; all three men were unconscious and thus unable to fight back. When he was finished, he placed a portkey on each man’s chest and watched as they disappeared. He surveyed his remaining prisoners-Tom, the Longbottom’s, Narcissa, the three Lestranges and Regulus-thoughtfully, before turning to McGonagall.

“Minerva, will you see to Frank and Alice’s memories, and then take them home to Augusta?” Dumbledore asked, “I have an extra potion for her.”

“Of course, Albus,” McGonagall nodded her head, then hesitated for a moment before accepting the proffered potions, “Albus…this…this truly is for the Greater Good? There is a larger purpose behind everything we do this night?”

“Of course, Minerva,” Dumbledore replied solemnly, “I would never do anything like this if it were not absolutely necessary for the Greater Good. You will understand in time, I assure you.” McGonagall nodded again, then pocketed the potions vials and approached the Longbottom’s. She altered their memories, then activated a portkey.

“Hmm, nearly done now,” Dumbledore said, “I have use for you Regulus, and you as well, Bellatrix, Rodolphus and Rabastan. Lucius and Narcissa, you will be free to go in just a moment.” The Malfoy’s glared at him, but Dumbledore ignored the look as he stepped forward to alter another set of memories. When he was finished, he gestured for Shacklebolt to bring Draco, who was sleeping, over, and the young Auror activated a portkey to transport the family to their home.

“Once Moody returns, we will be able to finish up for tonight,” Dumbledore announced. The memory blurred, clearing up as Moody appeared with leading a line of children with them, all grubby and looking frightened.

“Peter, if you would see to the children,” Dumbledore instructed, “Make sure they are fed, and keep them in the room until we are ready for them.”

“Y-yes, of course, Albus,” Peter simpered, before leading the children to the Gryffindor table, where they were all settled with plates of food.

“How did things go with the Potter’s, Alastor?” Dumbledore inquired.

“Exactly as planned,” Moody replied, “James and Lily are settled in with Baby Harry, and I altered all of the photographs. I wasn’t able to change to godfather bond, so I had to alter James and Lily’s memories on that as well. The house is under Fidelius with Pettigrew as Secret Keeper, and I had them read the address Pettigrew wrote. Sirius Black arrived right on schedule, and I made sure his memories line up with those of the Potter’s. Everything is ready for your final plan.”

“Excellent!” Dumbledore beamed, then turned to look at McGonagall, who had just returned.

“It’s done,” She said, not waiting for him to ask, “All memories have been changed, and I removed anything that could unlock them.”

“The Malfoy’s are settled in as well,” Shacklebolt announced as he returned, “I checked the mark again before I left, and the magical signature traces back to Riddle, so no one will be able to tie it back to you.”

“Wonderful job,” Dumbledore praised, “We will go out over the next few days and similarly mark some other witches and wizards that I have already selected. For now, however, we have other things to take care of. Alastor, I need you and Kingsley to take everyone down to the dungeons, to the rooms we already prepared; you know what to do once you are there. I shall take care of Tom and-Molly, Arthur; why don’t you take Ginny home to meet her brothers?” Dumbledore withdrew several potions vials and handed them to the Weasley patriarch, “Make sure everyone takes their potions so that there is no confusion, and we will meet up again in a few days.”

“Of course, Albus,” Molly smiled, “We can’t thank you enough for what you have done for us.”

“Quite so,” Arthur agreed, “The Weasley’s are forever indebted to you; if you have need of us, you need only ask. Molly has never cared much for portkeys; may we use the Floo?”

“Certainly,” Dumbledore agreed, “The teacher’s lounge is open.” Once the Weasley’s left, Dumbledore turned his attention to Tom.

"It’s your turn now Tom," Dumbledore smiled, "Ever heard of a Horcrux my boy? No? Well, we're going to create one for you…or six. Bring them up now, Peter." Pettigrew brought the children over to where Dumbledore and McGonagall were still standing with Tom, who was bound by conjured chains. McGonagall looked extremely unhappy, and Dumbledore was quick to soothe her concerns. "They're all orphans, living on the street Minerva; this really is kinder for them.” McGonagall nodded and set out several objects on the table, then Harry and Draco watched in disbelief as Dumbledore imperiused Tom, forcing him to murder a total of six children; as he did so a shaky McGonagall cast a spell, and each murder resulted in one of the objects on the table being enchanted.

By the time the last child was dead, Tom was no longer the handsome young man they had been watching; his skin was white as death, his eyes a burning crimson, he has slits for nostrils, and a decidedly crazy look in his eyes.

"From now on, Tom will be known as Lord Voldemort," Dumbledore announced, "Now, to adjust his memories."

The memory changed again; now Pettigrew was standing in the Headmaster’s office, trembling in front of Dumbledore.

“All the potions have been distributed, A-Albus,” Pettigrew stuttered, “We have confirmations that even the magical communities in Russia and the America’s have received the altered memories. James, Lily, Sirius and Remus don’t suspect anything either, and the-the Dark Lord has marked several more wizards.”

“In two nights,” Dumbledore replied, “On Halloween night, you shall go to Voldemort and tell him the Secret. Make sure that he goes alone. While he is gone, you will drop hints to Bellatrix that the Longbottom’s have a plan to defeat him, and then you will lure Sirius into a trap so that he is blamed for betraying the Potter’s. Once that is done, you will take your potion and hide with the Weasley’s in your Animagus form. You will not return to me unless I call you, understand?”

“Y-yes Albus,” Pettigrew nodded, “It w-will be done. F-for the Greater Good.”

“For the Greater Good,” Dumbledore agreed, “Now go.”

The next memory zeroed in on a small house, where James and Lily were enjoying a peaceful evening with Hadrian-now called Harry-whom they evidently believed was their child. Hadrian and Draco witnessed the events that everyone had been told happened October 31, 1981. James and Lily were sitting on the couch with Hadrian-Harry-and Tom (now Voldemort) blasted the door open; he killed James while Lily tried to run, and then cornered the red-haired witch who begged for Harry's life-she was hit with the killing curse, and then Voldemort aimed his wand at Harry, but a flash of blue light had the curse rebounding, and Voldemort was apparently destroyed, leaving baby Harry with the lightning bolt scar he was so famous for.

After the flash of green light, the boys found themselves in Dumbledore’s office, where the headmaster was murmuring to himself.

"Yes, I think that will do it," Dumbledore nodded in satisfaction, "Everyone’s memories have been altered, Sirius is in Azkaban for betraying the Potter’s, where he will rot along with the Lestranges, who tortured poor Alice and Frank into insanity, and poor Harry has been left with Lily's sister to be raised in safety until he is old enough to return to the wizarding world; those few who remember Elena know that she betrayed Voldemort and suffered the consequences, and Hadrian and Aracely never existed. I already had that prophecy altered, and all is in place for what must happen in the future. Now, finally, I can relax until it is time for Harry Potter to return to us."

The memory went dark and then Harry and Draco found themselves back in Draco's room.

Chapter Text

"Miss me Severus?" the potions master looked up at the drawling voice and smiled.

"Ah, Lucius, it's good to see you," Severus said, as he closed his notebook, "You’re looking rather worse for the wear.”

“It was definitely not up to my usual standards,” Lucius replied, “I will be sending in a letter of complaint as soon as I have had a shower. Now, would you care to tell me exactly why Potter is here, and what he is doing with my son?” Lucius sounded bored as he took the seat across from his old friend, then, as Tom returned, he added, "If our Lord wishes for me to be informed, that is."

"Of course I wish for you to be informed," Tom said drily, "I can't afford to have you bungling things up as usual, and things will be trying enough once the boys return from viewing the memories; no use in you upsetting Harry any further."

"Speaking of which, once the boys are done, you would also benefit from viewing the memories," Severus added, "Although you and I were affected less than some others, there are things you should know. Now, about Potter…"

Severus had just finished telling Lucius what Harry had gone through in the past two days and about his life with the Dursley's, when two loud gasps were heard from the bed and everyone looked over to see that both boys were pale, and Harry had his eyes closed; the brunet’s whole body was trembling.

"Harry," Draco said softly, motioning for Severus to take the pensieve; he did so and motioned for Lucius to enter-with a glance at his master Lucius complied. "Harry, that was…terrible," Draco placed a hand on Harry's shoulder and felt both relieved and worried when he wasn't pushed away; it was like Harry didn’t even notice Draco touching him, "Please talk to me; you can't keep this all in…"

"Can't," Harry muttered, shaking his head violently, "Can't talk; not real. Voldemort's not my father; James is my father. Can't be real; can't be real; can't be…" He began hyperventilating, unable to form anymore words.

"Calm down," Draco said soothingly, moving his arm down so that he could rub circles on the brunets back, "Just calm down and breathe. We can-"

"Calm down?" Harry exploded, jerking away from Draco; his emerald eyes were blazing with power-magic fueled by anger, hurt and betrayal, "How can I calm down? Are you fucking insane Malfoy? I just found out that my whole life was a fucking lie! Dumbledore stole me from my parents-who are alive! He forced my-he forced Tom to murder children, and murder the Potter's; he literally created Voldemort and put me in danger every day of my life! How can I calm down? Tell me Malfoy! Fucking tell me!" He was screaming by now, glowing tears streaming down his face, and the room was shaking with the force of his magic; Severus and the Dark Lord were being held back by the strong magical barrier that had surrounded the bed. Dark sparks shot out when they tried to break the barrier, knocking the older wizards against the wall, and Draco knew it was up to him to calm the other boy down, and he needed to do it fast-before Harry brought the manor Doreen around them.

"Harry!" He yelled, pushing shoving the slightly smaller boy so that he was lying down on the bed, flat on his back while Draco straddled his waist to keep him from escaping; "You need to calm the fuck down!" In his panic, Harry threw a punch which grazed Draco’s cheek, and then he bucked, trying to knock the blond off, and nearly succeeding.

“Let me go!” Harry shouted, twisting under the other boy, “Fuck you! I-I can’t!”

He broke off into a sob and his magic sent an electric shock through Draco, causing him to cry out at the sudden pain; he refused to give up however, and managed to grab both of Harry’s wrists and pin them to the bed with one hand, while he tangled the other in the brunet’s thick locks and yanked hard; Harry let out a cry of pain, but seemed to focus. "Pull you magic in before you kill us all," Draco commanded, then lowered his voice to try and make it more soothing, “Just breathe slowly; in and out...breathe in…breathe out…breathe in…” It seemed to work, as Harry began to calm his breathing. Draco continued to coach him for a few minutes, until the feeling of magic in the room began to diminish. “Good, Harry; now, just draw your magic back into yourself. Can you do that?” Harry nodded, closing his eyes in concentration as he obeyed, the barrier dropping away so that the Dark Lord and Severus could approach; the two men moved away from the wall but hesitated to come closet, seemingly content with letting Draco continue to sooth Harry. Well, Draco didn't mind; he found that he liked being able to calm the other boy.

"Good Harry,” Draco said, “Now-you need to try and remain calm so we can talk about this and figure it all out." Harry nodded again, slowly opening his eyes and focusing on Draco.

"O-okay," Harry said shakily, and Draco noticed his emerald eyes were still filled with tears, and his pale face was streaked with them, "Y-you can let me go now."

"I don't think so," Draco shook his head, loosing his grip on the brunets hair and summoning a handkerchief to wipe away the tears, "I'm not letting go until I'm sure you won't freak out again." Draco set the handkerchief aside and straightened Harry's glasses, which had been knocked sideways at some point.

"This is uncomfortable," Harry protested, tugging on his wrists to try and get free; Draco sighed and sat up, pulling the Gryffindor into a sitting position and maneuvering them until they were sitting chest to back, with Draco leaning against the head board. Harry was sitting in between Draco's legs, one of the blond’s arms wrapped around his waist, while his head was leaning back on Draco's shoulder with long, pale fingers carding through his hair. "Okay, now it's just embarrassing," Harry said, embarrassed not just by the position, but also the ease with which he had allowed Draco to move him around; he was too weak from his outburst of magic to truly fight at the moment.

"Tough," Draco retorted, "Someone needs to keep you calm and under control, so we will stay like this as long as we need to." He decided to keep the fact that he was incredibly turned on by the short Gryffindor in front of him a secret; now that Harry had a father, he would need to be careful not to anger the man. Speaking of Harry’s father-

"Are you boys settled then?" the Dark Lord asked in an amused voice and the boys nodded, Harry's face red with embarrassment; "Good; now we can talk about what you just saw. First, Harry…are you-what questions do you have?" It was almost unnerving to realize that Voldemort, the Darkest Wizard since Grindelwald, was nervous, but then Harry reminded himself that Tom never chose to be that way, and Voldemort was the creation of a meddlesome old wizard. With that in mind, Harry asked the one question that had been burning at him ever since he saw the memories.

"Are…are you really my father?" Harry whispered, and received a nod, “and…my mother?”

"Yes," Voldemort said, "I am your father, and Elena is your mother. What you saw, I-I never wanted any of that to happen.” Voldemort shook his head, his red eyes flashing with anger and…was that regret? “What Dumbledore did to me…what he made me do…it damaged me, but watching those memories has helped me begin to come back to my true self. It will still take time to heal completely, as I will need those damnable Horcruxes to restore my soul, but eventually I should be…close to normal. In the meantime, I am having those close to me call me Tom again; you-and young Draco-may do so as well."

"And…after you are…restored?" Harry ventured, leaning more firmly against Draco, relaxing in the silent support the blond was offering, "Then what?"

"Well, I hope that you and I can start to build a relationship," Tom said slowly, "I know we have a lot of issues to overcome, but you're my son, and I want us to be a family. Also, I plan to start looking for your mother and sister, although it might be better to wait until Dumbledore is out of the way." At the mention of Dumbledore’s name again, Harry tensed up and he could feel his magic surge beneath his skin.

"I hate him," Harry seethed, "He ruined my life! And not only my life, but the lives of so many others!” Harry could feel his magic struggling to escape again, but Draco’s continued embrace helped him to calm down and keep it under control; he still had more questions to ask-freaking out again could wait until he was alone and there was no one around to get hurt. “How did he change everyone's memory?"

"A mass potion," Severus was the one to answer, "He had allies in the ministry, so all the beverages in the ministry and in the restaurants on Diagon Alley were spiked with it, and he also had it distributed to as many private residences as possible. The memory potion was created so that the one brewing it could infuse it with the memories they wanted everyone to have, and the victims would lose their original memories and be unable to gain them back unless they came upon their own written recording of the memories-such as in a journal- or actually viewed the memories in a pensieve, as we have done. Many of those memories you viewed were stolen from Tom, Elena-"

"And other members of the Oder of the Black Rose," Draco interrupted, startling Harry, who had become used to the blond’s silent presence, "Yes, Sev; I believe we were able to come to that conclusion ourselves." Draco smirked at the dark-haired man, earning himself a glare in return.

"Hmmm, can you let me go now?" Harry asked, feeling as though he had to at least make a token protest, even though he was enjoying being petted; "I'm calm now."

"No," Draco said, "So stop complaining. My Lord-er, Tom-do you know where to start looking for Elena?" Harry forgot his intention to argue, as he waited for Tom’s answer.

"All I know is her family is somewhere in America," Tom replied, "Her father enjoyed moving around every couple of years, although she did mention that they have a family manor…I don't recall where it is though; we never had a chance to visit before Dumbledore interfered in our lives."

"So we need to do a lot of research," Draco mused, "Granger would come in handy for that; are you going to show her the memories, and if so will you be able to restore Aunt Bella's sanity?"

"I believe we will work on Bella first," Tom said thoughtfully, "Correcting the damage inflicted by Dumbledore will be difficult, especially not knowing exactly what was done to them.”

“I have that memory set aside-along with others-for you to review once you have more time,” Severus stated, “Ican tell you that a mind healer will be necessary.”

“I expected as much,” Tom nodded, “We will have to find a mind healer that we can trust and then, once Bella and Rodolphus have been restored, we will get Miss Granger-"

"I don't know if that's a good idea," Harry said quietly, "I mean, as far as I know she was using me too, and Dumbledore has her convinced that you're all evil; she probably thinks I'm evil now as well." He closed his eyes to hold back the tears and was surprised when he felt soft lips press against his cheek, but Severus spoke before he could comment on it.

"We will have to take the chance," He said, "If Miss Granger is even half as smart as she acts then she will realize the truth, and there are ways to keep her from speaking about this until we are ready. The real question is what to do about Miss Weasley; she was raised to be a Weasley and she is one through and through."

"I think…I think she could be brought around too," Harry said, opening his eyes and focusing his attention on Severus, "She is closer to the twins than anyone else, and I know they care about me; they tried to drop hints about Ron, but I didn't want to listen. Ginny is trying to be the daughter Molly wants her to be, but she's really not the sweet little girl she pretends to be at home. It would be easier to get to her at school though; I was going to ask for a re-sort, but maybe I should stay in Gryffindor for a while…"

"Absolutely not," Draco said, "I would much rather have you in Ravenclaw or even Hufflepuff than staying in the Lion's Den where you could be so easily betrayed."

"Don't worry; there's no way I would be a Hufflepuff," Harry assured him with a wry smile, "I already know where the Hat will place me; I should have let it do as it wanted in first year."

"Oh?" Severus arched his brow, "And where, pray-tell, did the Hat want to place you, and why did you wind up in Gryffindor instead?" Harry bit his lip, eying Tim and Severus easily; he was suddenly unsure about telling this particular group about what happened during his Sorting. Well, he decided, in for a knut…

"The Hat said I could do well in pretty much any of the Houses,” Harry began, “but it really wanted to place me in Slytherin," his voice grew quieter, dropping to almost a whisper as he closed his eyes, waiting for the explosion; when none came he cautiously opened them and let out a small giggle when he saw Severus and Tom's mouths open in astonishment. He tilted his head back to see a similar look of astonishment on Draco’s face, and laughed again before continuing with more confidence, "So yeah; it wanted to put me in Slytherin, but from the time I entered the wizarding world I was told all Slytherins were evil, so when the Hat wanted to put me there I begged it to place me somewhere, anywhere else, and it chose Gryffindor."

"Well it should have stuck with its original decision," Draco huffed, one he got over his shock, "I can't believe that a powerful enchanted object was swayed by an eleven-year-old! Powerful object indeed!"

"Well, Hadrian is my son," Tom smirked, "Outsmarting the Hat is proof of that. I'm not sure that Dumbledore will agree to a re-sort though."

"He damn well better," Draco growled, "I don't care if I have to place him under the imperious; he will not keep us separated any longer!" He narrowed his eyes; Harry was his, and there was no way he would let a barmy old man-or anyone really, including Harry’s newly-discovered father-keep them apart.

"Why do you care so much?" Harry asked curiously, turning his head a bit, this time dislodging the fingers that had still been combing through his dark locks, "We just found out we were evidently friends as children, but we spent the last six years hating each other."

"Hate is such a strong word," Draco said slowly, "I never really hated you; I was jealous and beyond pissed when you rejected my hand in first year-must have been those repressed memories trying to give me a hint-but I never hated you. Over the past few hours I have come to see that I may care for you, at least a bit; I mean, I did spend a couple of hours saving your life-with a little of help from Sev, of course."

"Oh yes; a bit of help from me indeed," Severus scowled at his godson, "If I remember correctly you floo’d me in a panic when Potter fainted and began bleeding."

"It was a lot of blood," Draco defended himself, "and I couldn't get it to stop."

"Well, thank you both," Harry said to forestall any further argument, "I'm sure you're both thrilled to have me owe you a life debt."

"Hmm, now that you mention it, I could use a personal slave," Draco mused, "House elves just don't know how to add those personal details that a wizard would…"

"My son is not going to be your slave," Tom scowled, "You will come up with a reasonable request-both of you-and then declare the debt fulfilled."

"It's okay," Harry laughed, "I've never been scared of Malfoy before, and I don't intend to start being scared of him now. As for Severus…I believe he has already done his worst and…perhaps we can call a truce?" He looked up at his potions master hopefully and Severus nodded.

"Yes, I think a truce would be good at this point," he agreed, "I know it will be some time before you trust me after our past interactions, but in the meantime shall we begin as allies?" The dour man held out his hand, and Harry didn't hesitate to accept it.

"Okay," Harry eagerly agreed; having Severus openly on his side could only be a good thing!

“Very well, we are now allies. Is it true that you killed the basilisk a few years ago?” Harry nodded. “Then, for the debt, you will allow me to harness the corpse for ingredients, and you will promise to try harder in Potions."

“Agreed,” Harry said. As they shook hands a tingle of magic briefly encircled their wrists, and Severus said, “The life debt has now been fulfilled, Harry.” Harry smiled at Severus, then looked back at Draco.

"Well Malfoy? What do you want from me?"

"I need time to think on it," Draco replied petulantly, "I don't think I much like you having a father; it will make getting my way more difficult if he interferes all the time."

"Get used to it," Tom said with slight amusement, "For I will be doing everything in my power to protect my son from now on.” He paused for a moment, as if debating whether or not to continue, “Speaking of our familial relation, Harry, would you like to have the blood adoptions cancelled? And…you can go back to using your original name, but only if you wish."

"I'd like that," Harry said softly, "What do we have to do?"

"You just take the antidote," Severus replied, "I anticipated that it may be needed, so I sent a house elf to fetch it for me. Luckily, I just finished making a small batch for St. Mungo’s.” He rummaged in his bag for a moment, then withdrew a vial full of purple potion and passed it to Harry, who knocked it back without a second thought. Moments after he swallowed the potion, his face contorted in pain and he jerked in Draco's arms biting his lip to prevent a carry of pain from escaping; thankfully the pain was nowhere near as severe as that he had felt when his magic was locked away, and it only lasted about a minute. When Harry looked up again, the other wizards noticed the minute changes to his features; his hair was longer now, curling softly at his shoulders, and it was darker-black with red highlights when the sun hit it just right. His face was a bit more angular, with an aristocratic nose, although he still had full lips, and his green eyes were the same as ever. Harry noticed that he was about an inch taller than before-sitting on the bed, his chin appeared to be about level with Draco’s shoulders-although he was still going to be shorter than most of the guys his age. When he took off his glasses, wondering why his vision was blurry, he realized he no longer needed them; the potion had fixed his eyesight.

"Hadrian," Tom breathed, and Harry looked up to see that the man’s red eyes were suspiciously shiny, "Or do you still wish to go by Harry?"

"I…don't think I want to be Harry anymore," he replied, "So Hadrian it is. Since we're all starting over, maybe you and I could try being friends?" He looked at Draco hopefully and the blond nodded.

"I knew you'd come to you senses eventually," Draco smirked, "I'm obviously a much better friend for you than the Weasel; so, Hades, you can call me Draco."

"Really? Hades? The god of the underworld?" Harry-or rather, Hadrian-pouted, "What did I ever do to you? Why not just call me 'Ri?"

"Because I'm not that lazy," Draco sniffed, “Besides, I called you Hay-ds, not Hay-dees.” Draco was careful to stress the difference in pronunciation. Hadrian-narrowed his eyes at the blond, then sighed and shook his head; having observed the other boy since they were eleven, he knew that Draco wouldn’t change his mind.

"Do you boys have any more burning questions?" Tom inquired, "Because if not I should leave; Severus has given me a stability potion that temporarily restores my sanity, but it will wear off soon and I must wait a few hours to take another dose."

"Just one more," Hadrian said, wondering how to phrase it; in the end, he decided to just be blunt; "Are you still going to kill Muggles and Muggleborns? Also, what are we going to do about Dumbles and his Order of the Phoenix?”

"It would be best to speak of this later," Tom replied, his voice colder than it had been throughout the conversation, "I still have some bloodlust in me, and I don't think you would like my answer concerning Dumbledore."

"Well, as long as it involves him feeling the same pain we had to go through and ends with his death I have no complaints," Hadrian told him, "Just as long as we don't go around killing innocent people."

"I think I can work with that," Tom smirked.

"What about the Weasley's?" Severus asked, "They helped cause a lot of your pain, and they assisted Dumbledore with kidnapping."

"I…I don't know," Hadrian frowned, "I know they deserve to be punished, but…I don't think I want them dead."

"Make them slaves once we've taken over," Draco suggested, "They can work off their crimes by serving those they have harmed. In fact, we can use that as a cover story for Har-er, I mean Hadrian; when we go back to school we can tell everyone I found him and tricked him into wearing this collar so that now he is my slave and then we will put about that this is how you plan to deal with all of your enemies rather than waste your time killing everyone." Draco loomed extremely pleased with himself, and Hadrian saw that Tom appeared to be taking the suggestion seriously.

"You can't just make everyone who disagrees with you a slave,” Hadrian frowned at Tom, then turned his attention to Draco, “And you stop giving him ideas; you just want an excuse to make me keep wearing the collar," Hadrian accused and Draco grinned.

"Maybe," he shrugged, "but that's my right, and not even your father will interfere unless I use it to harm you,” Tom’s eyes narrowed, and Draco hurried to add, “Especially since it will allow me to know where you are at all times and will bring you either back to the manor or to my side if you are ever in danger."

"That is useful," Tom mused, then decided, "Therefore I will not make you remove it, unless I feel that you are abusing your power too much."

"Too much?" Hadrian cried, "Why not interfere if he abuses his power at all?"

"Because he's a Slytherin and he won't be able to help abusing it some," Tom replied before fixing Draco with a glare; "If you cause any harm to my son, you will die.” Draco met that red gaze steadily, and gave a short nod to show his understanding; “Now, I really must retire for a short time, but I will be back later; you boys should get some rest." With that said, Tom swept from the rooms, and a moment later they heard the Floo.

"Well, that was…yeah," Hadrian said, then wondered, "Ummm…am I staying here?" If the Malfoy's wouldn't let him stay, then where could he go? He wasn't sure which of his friends he could trust-well, there was Neville, but what about his Gran? No, he couldn't risk her going to Dumbledore.

"Of course you're staying here," Draco replied before Hadrian could worry about it took much, "My bed is more than big enough for the two of us."

"Oh, well, I actually just meant am I staying in your house," Hadrian corrected, fighting a blush, "I wasn't trying to make you share your room with me."

Draco hid a smirk at Hadrian’s blush, silently vowing to make the brunet blush more often; it made him look innocent-and very attractive. Draco absently noted his new thoughts about his former rival, and quickly decided he was okay with it; Hadrian was attractive, powerful and interesting to talk to-why shouldn't Draco be interested in him? Not to mention, it was highly likely that Hadrian was his mate, so there was no point worrying about it anyway.

Draco realized he had been quiet just a little too long, and quickly responded to Hadrian’s previous comment.

"No sense in having a house elf fix up another room," Draco said nonchalantly, "Besides, I'd rather have you where I can keep an eye on you; you do tend to attract a lot of trouble. Do you think Father will be in the pensieve much longer Sev?"

"I'm not sure," Severus replied, "There is a way to speed up the memories, and if he does that he should be out soon; Did you need to speak to him?”

“Not at the moment,” Draco said, “I was just thinking that Hadrian could use a nap sheer eventing that has happened today.”

“I'm not a child and I don't need a map,” Hadrian protested.

“A map will help you recover from everything that has happened recently,” Severus told him, “You're body and mind have both been under a lot of stress, and Potions can only do so much.” He turned to Draco, “I will move your father to the study and make sure he allows you to rest until supper.”

Draco nodded, placing a hand over Hadrian’s mouth before he could protest again.

“If Hadrian doesn't want to cooperate you can force-feed him this sleeping draught. I'll see you in a few hours." He nodded at the boys and then swept out of the room, Lucius and the pensieve floating along in a bubble in front of him; once Severus was gone Draco whispered something and the door swung closed.

"Ow!" Draco took his hand away when Hadrian bit him, "What was that for?"

"You covered my mouth," Hadrian replied, "I didn't like it." He tilted his head back to scowl at the blond, receiving a glare in return.

"You can't just bite me every time I do something you don't like," Draco pouted.

"Why not?" Hadrian grinned, "If it works, it works."

"Well, maybe I'll just bite you back," Draco purred, rubbing his nose in the soft hair behind Hadrian's ear and smirking when the other boy shivered, "Then again, maybe you'd like that, hmmm?"

"D-don't," Hadrian said, pulling away until he was out of the circle of Draco’s arms and he could turn to face the blonde, "Look, I know we agreed to start over, but that doesn't mean I want you to be…flirting with me or whatever; I'm not even gay." Hadrian firmly pushed aside the voice that reminded him of his single attempt at dating-that date with Cho had been a disaster!

"Whatever you say," Draco smirked, "Why don't you go take a shower; it's right through that door there." He nodded at the ensuite, adding, "And you can borrow some of my clothes for now too; if the rags you're wearing now are any indication we need to take you out shopping sooner rather than later."

"Not my fault," Hadrian pouted, blushing, "I had to wear my cousin's old hand-me-downs; it would be nice to have my own clothes, although I don't know how it would feel to wear something that actually fits…"

"You'll get used to it," Draco said nonchalantly, propelling the brunet towards the bathroom and handing him a bundle of clothes that he had summoned, "I doubt we’ll have time to go out today, however we might be able to go shopping tomorrow. Then you can buy me a birthday present; I turn sixteen the day after tomorrow." Hadrian rolled his eyes as he accepted the clothes; he turned toward the bathroom, only to stop as a thought occurred to him.

"I'm not sure how I'll get to my money since Dumbledore is bound to be looking for me by now," Hadrian frowned, "Although I do need to talk to the goblins about Dumbledore stealing from me. Well, actually, I guess he was stealing from Ginny; still, he’s probably got the whole Order out looking for me and-Oh fuck! I can't go out in public at all! I'm sure the ministry is looking for me by now, and they'll send me back to my relative's! I can't go back; they'll kill me for sure!" Hadrian felt himself beginning to panic again, and he closed his eyes to try and control his emotions-and his magic, which still felt wild after his earlier outburst.

"Stop it Hadrian!" Draco pushed him against the wall before pressing his hands to either side of the brunette's face, "Look at me Hadrian; look at me!" Hadrian forced himself to look into those grey eyes and saw that they were burning passionately; "They will not make you go back to those criminals; Severus and your father won't let them and, more importantly, I won't let them. You're mine now Hadrian and no one takes what's mine."

"Not yours," Hadrian said breathlessly, emerald eyes wide as Draco leaned closer, "Draco-"

"Oh, but you are," Draco said softly, "As long as you wear that collar you are mine." He pressed his lips against Hadrian's in a soft kiss; he got no response, but when he pulled back he noticed that Hadrian had a flush on his cheeks, "Also, I consider all of my friends to be "mine"; no one harms my friends without having to go through me, so no need to get so defensive. Now, are you feeling better?"

"Y-yes," Hadrian said, still blushing; the pure shock of the kiss had been enough to make him forget about his panic, although he now felt the need to apologize, "I'm sorry I keep freaking out on you; I would thank you for helping me calm down, but it seems you always have to embarrass me when doing so."

"I'm glad to help," Draco smiled, "And seeing you blush is just a bonus." He laughed at Hadrian's glare and gave him a gentle shove towards the bathroom; "Now, go take your shower and then you need to rest as Severus directed." Hadrian rolled his eyes but entered the bathroom none-the-less and got under the shower.

When the hot water hit his skin Hadrian let out an involuntary moan at the way it felt; his relative's hadn't abused him much over the summer until the night Dumbledore arrived due to their fear of the Order members, but they made his life miserable in other ways-limiting the number of showers he could take being one of them. If he remembered correctly, it had been about four days since his last shower, so this was a luxurious feeling for him. He took his time washing his hair and scrubbing himself clean as he thought about what he found out.

First, Dumbledore betrayed him, as did his friends, apparently. Second, his animagus form was a black tiger, which was supposedly rare-he shrugged, not really knowing what to think about that and continued with his thoughts. He discovered that the collar basically made him Malfoy-Draco's-property, and that everything he'd ever heard about his childhood was a lie; he had parents and a sister who were alive, and his father was Voldemort-Tom Riddle! Not to mention he had started to have strange feelings around Draco, noticing the way the sunlight made his pale hair look like a halo and how warm his eyes could be…

Hadrian shook the image from his head and climbed out of the shower; he wasn't gay! He was just…stressed and…well, he didn't know exactly, but he did know he wasn't gay. He comforted himself with this thought as he dried off and got dressed in the black slacks and red button up shirt Draco loaned him. When he went back into the bedroom all thoughts left him as he saw Draco sitting on the window seat-shirtless and bathed in sunlight. He gulped as his eyes trailed over the Slytherins quidditch-toned upper body, blushing furiously when said blonde turned towards him with a smirk.

"See something you like?" he teased as he walked towards the other boy, "I must say Hadrian, you look good in my clothes, even if they are a little big on you; let me fix that." With a wave of his wand the black trousers and green shirt were re-sized to fit Hadrian, and Draco took his hand, pulling him towards the bed, "Okay; nap time."

"I'm not a bloody five-year-old," Hadrian protested, "You don't need to hold my hand, and I don't need a nap. Also, could you maybe put a shirt on?"

"I'm more comfortable like this when sleeping," Draco responded, "Also, I like holding your hand, and Sev said you need a nap, so you're at least going to lay here and relax; remember-he gave me a potion to use if you don't cooperate."

"Fine," Hadrian huffed, climbing back into the ridiculously soft bed muttering the whole while, "Can't believe everyone's telling me what to do, and I have to listen Malfoy of all people; stupid git."

"What was that?" Draco inquired, raising an eyebrow.

"Nothing," Hadrian replied sweetly, "If I have to rest I might as well get it over with." He lay down, scooting all the way to the edge when Draco made himself comfortable on the other side of the bed.

"For Merlin's sake," Draco rolled his eyes and grabbed Hadrian by his wrist, pulling him further onto the bed, "I'm not going to rape you in your sleep Hadrian; stop being so melodramatic." Hadrian's only response was to stick his tongue out and roll over on his side, facing away from Draco to hide his blush. Despite his arguments about not being tired, it only took the brunette a few minutes to fall asleep, not feeling Draco's watchful eyes on his back. Draco waited until Hadrian's breathing was slow and even, and then carefully pulled the other boy closer, arranging them so that Hadrian's head was on his chest; if Hadrian hadn't been so exhausted he definitely would have woken up, but as it was Draco was able to wrap the other boy in his arms and hold him in a secure embrace. He couldn't explain why he wanted Hadrian to be so close to him, but he just couldn't help himself, and it felt so right…with that happy thought, Draco drifted off into a light slumber, a small smile gracing his face.

Chapter Text

"What plans do you have for Dumbledore?" The sudden question had Severus looking up from his notebook, to find Lucius’ blue eyes burning with fury, "What that bastard did to everyone…He is worse than the Dark Lord he created. When do we kill him?"

After leaving Draco's room Severus had moved Lucius to sit on the couch in the same study which he had Floo’ed into earlier, and Severus himself was sitting at the desk reviewing the notes he had been making since he discovered the truth that morning; he had started out working on notes for improving the potion to restore Tom’s sanity, and then moved on to creating a list of everything they needed to accomplish, so luckily he had some answers ready for the blond.

"Well, Hadrian feels that the headmaster deserves to suffer before he is granted release in death," Severus replied, "and our master, Tom, seems to agree with him whole-heartedly. We have a long way to go before we take on Dumbledore however; reversing the damage caused when Tom was forced to create those Horcruxes should be our number one priority."

"I suppose I can understand that," Lucius said reluctantly, "But how do you plan to do that? I always thought that once the soul was separated there was no way to repair the damage."

"That has held true in the past," Severus admitted, "However I am working on a potion to separate the soul from the container without destroying either one; once we have the soul separated we should be able to return it to Tom, only I am not certain if I should use another potion for that or a spell. There are many variables, and I do not know how long it will take until we have a viable option.

"Get Cissa to help," Lucius suggested, "She was always better at this than me; the two of you working together should be able to resolve this issue in no time."

"Perhaps," Severus said non-committally, "I will discuss it with her when she returns from France this evening; perhaps we should owl her to return now instead?"

"I have missed her," Lucius smiled wistfully, "and I can only imagine how angry she would be if we don't contact her right away."

"Very well, since I am already set up, shall I?" Lucius nodded, so Severus took out a clean sheet of parchment from one of the desk drawers and penned a swift note to Narcissa, "Would you summon a house elf to get this sent off?"

"All you have to do is seal it, then place it in the tray and it will be taken care of," Lucius replied, so Severus placed the parchment in an envelope and sealed it with the sealing wax provided; he pressed the Prince family ring into the wax and the letter immediately vanished.

"Excellent," Lucius nodded, "Now, what is going on with my son and Harr-I mean, Hadrian? Draco seemed to be very worried about him when they came out of the memories."

"I believe that the Veela blood in your family is becoming dominant in Draco," Severus informed him, "He has been acting protective towards Hadrian all day, and while you were in the pensieve he was…well, he was essentially cuddling Hadrian to keep him calm." Severus curled his upper lip to show his disgust with using the word “cuddling”, receiving a smirk from Lucius in return.

"You think Draco will come into a creature inheritance on his birthday," Lucius stated and Severus nodded, "And with the way he is acting…you believe Hadrian to be his mate." Lucius made it a statement, but Severus choose to respond as if it had been a question.

"That is the conclusion I have reached," he confirmed, "However, as I informed Draco, we won't know anything for certain until after his birthday; we may even have to wait for Hadrian's birthday to know for sure if they are mates. He could simply be reacting because his Veela recognizes Hadrian as a friend who needs protection.”

"Let me see them together again, without distractions, and I will be able to tell if they are mates," Lucius said confidently, "I simply need to observe their auras when they are together; the color of their aura’s can reveal much."

"Well, the boys are napping at the moment," Severus informed him, "And I believe we should let them be for an hour or so; Hadrian especially needs to have a chance to recharge after the stress of what he has been through and all that he has learned today."

"We need to get Hadrian in touch with Gringott’s soon, so that he can block Dumbledore from accessing his funds," Lucius frowned, "Or rather, the Potter funds. Also, I believe Hadrian is currently under the legal custody of his Muggle relatives-distant though they may be; we must find a way to change that as well. Since Hadrian will not be seventeen for another year he will need to have another guardian appointed, since Tom is obviously not an option at the moment.” He paused, then asked, “I trust Hadrian is truly on our side now?"

"Yes,” Severus confirmed, “He has already taken the potion to cancel the blood adoption that was forced on him as an infant. He no longer wishes to be known as Harry Potter, although we must make plans for how to handle that when school resumes. I suppose we should speak to Tom about this and get his opinion," Severus frowned, "If only we could bring Sirius back, that would at least take care of the guardianship issue.”

"I still can't believe Dumbledore pulled that little trick off," Lucius drawled, "It was rather underhanded of him. Now that we know where Sirius is, perhaps we can devise a way to bring him back." Lucius had seen some of Dumbledore’s more recent memories that the boys had not been privy too, and one of those was Dumbledore’s memory of the battle at the ministry.

"Another item on our already-long list of things to do," Severus sighed, "The place he is being held is well secured, and no doubt covered in monitoring charms. Even getting the mutt back, we would still have to clear his name in order for Hadrian to be given over to his custody; perhaps Tom would be willing to turn Pettigrew over to the ministry now that we know he helped create this entire mess."

"That would be the best solution for now," Lucius agreed, "However, we must make sure he sees the pensieve memories as soon as he is brought back-or even before then if possible, otherwise he will waste time trying to fight us. Once the Dark-I mean, Tom, returns we can discuss how to go about retrieving Sirius. We need to make a list of our priorities."

"Already done," Severus smirked, "Number one is to restore Tom's sanity, two is to clear Sirius's name and bring him back or find another guardian for Hadrian, and Three is to restore the memories of Bellatrix and her husband; there are of course other things we need to accomplish, but those three should suffice for now."

"We also need to get Hadrian access to his vaults and make sure Dumbledore can't steal any more money from him or from Lillian Potter," Lucius said thoughtfully, "I will write a letter to Gringott’s and arrange for a representative to meet with us here so that we can at least get that taken care of as soon as possible. Do you have any idea of how to locate the Horcruxes?"

"I believe we can use Hadrian," Severus said, "I have been reviewing those memories myself, and I believe that when Dumbledore forced Tom to curse Hadrian it made him into a Horcrux as well; the potion I am developing will allow us to remove Tom's soul from Hadrian without causing the boy harm, but in the meantime there is a spell where you can use one Horcrux to locate others."

"Are you going to tell Hadrian that you believe him to be a Horcrux?" Lucius asked curiously.

"I was going to ask Tom his opinion first," he replied, "Hadrian seems to have a tendency to panic when he gets unwelcome news;" he frowned, "I can only assume that the abuse he recently received from his relatives is causing that reaction, as he has not been prone to panic attacks in the past."

"We will have to take care of these relatives of his as well," Lucius narrowed his eyes, "For Muggles to treat a Wizard in such a way…hell, for anyone to abuse a child in their care is unacceptable! They must be made to pay for their actions." Before Severus could reply they were interrupted by the "whoosh!" of the fireplace activating, and moments later Narcissa stepped out, her pale grey eyes scanning the room quickly before coming to rest on her husband.

"Lucius," she smiled softly; Lucius quickly got to his feet and opened his arms as Narcissa glided over to him, her pale grey eyes shining with happiness. They embraced for a moment before pulling away and sitting down side-by-side on the couch, Narcissa leaning against her husband slightly. "I'm so glad you're home; how did you get out?"

"Tom arranged a breakout," Lucius replied; Narcissa tilted her head to the side slightly, looking at him with a steady gaze-this was her way of demanding answers, so Lucius continued to explain, "A lot has happened recently, and Severus uncovered some lost memories which have changed many things. Severus, I am going to take Cissa through the memories; can you send a letter off to Gringott’s regarding Hadrian's accounts? You may use the Malfoy seal so that it will receive a quick response."

"Of course Luca," Severus replied, easily slipping into using the old nickname, "I will also look into guardianship options to discuss with Tom when he returns. Do you still have rooms set aside for me?"

"Always," Narcissa smiled, "But you don't have to leave; I'm sure you already know what Lucius has to tell me."

"Yes," Severus nodded, "however I feel that you will need your privacy, therefore I will go to my rooms and return in about an hour." He gave a brief nod to his friends and then left the sitting room; his rooms were just a few doors away as they had been given to him when his godson was still young.

When he arrived in his room he immediately sat down to compose a letter to Gringott’s, requesting that the goblin handling the Potter and Riddle Vaults be at Malfoy Manor at their earliest convenience, and cautioning them to keep the meeting a secret.

Once that was taken care of, Severus took out his notes on Horcruxes; there were very few written works about them, and all the information was spread out so that it was hard to gather it in one place, however Severus had an extensive book collection and owned the only book completely dedicated to the evil objects, which was part of a series dedicated to obscure and un-tried magic-oddly enough, the series was authored by Mathias Gryffindor and his wife, Lorena Ravenclaw-Gryffindor. (When Severus had first received the series as a gift from Lucius several years ago, he had discovered that Mathias was Godric Gryffindor's grandson, and Lorena was Rowena Ravenclaw's grand-niece; Mathias had been disowned by his family for his foray into the dark arts, but-as the Ravenclaw family valued knowledge above all else-they were taken in by Lorena's family until they were able to support themselves.)

The books had a lot of information not listed anywhere else; it didn't just give information on creating Horcruxes, but it gave details on many other dark rituals, some of which the authors had created themselves. The books were also the only copies in existence, and were handwritten, never-published, and had personal notes by Lorena and Mathias. One passage in book about Horcruxes held his interest; the handwriting was smooth and delicate which he had come to recognize as belonging to Lorena, and the passage read:

"Horcruxes are believed to be objects of utmost evil as they are created by ripping one’s soul apart during the act of murder and sealing it within an object holding great value to the one casting the spell. In reality, one does not have to be evil to create a Horcrux; many wizarding duels are to the death, and you can have a friend stand by ready to recite the spell on your behalf; it is not evil to desire an eternal life with those you love.

Mathias and I have both created Horcruxes during duels with those who desired to kill us-unlike witches and wizards in the past who have only created a single Horcrux, we have each created three, and we have not lost our sanity or our love for one another. We have, however, discovered that separating the soul makes it difficult to conceive, and so we have begun the process of re-uniting our souls. A couple that we are friends with, Amadeo Prince and Serilia Peverell-Prince, have been assisting us with our research and together we have developed a potion to remove the soul from a Horcrux, however we have not been able to return the soul to its original vessel. (For the potion recipe, see Mathias' Book 5). Serilia and I have theorized that a ritual will be needed to restore the soul; however, we seem to be missing a key element. In one weeks' time we will be meeting with Serilia's mother, who is a natural at creating rituals; with luck, perhaps we shall be able to come up with a solution soon."

The book listed, Mathias' Book 5, was in Severus' collection, however it was in a language he had never before read; the remainder of the book on Horcruxes was written in the same language, and so Severus was somewhat stuck as to what he should do next. Perhaps he would show the books to Tom; if Tom did not recognize the language, it would be time to pay a visit to the library, or maybe one of the shops down Knocturn Alley. Amadeo and Serilia were Severus’ ancestors on his mother’s side of the family, and they would no doubt have kept records as well, but Severus had never come across them. Of course, his mother had forfeited her inheritance by marrying a Muggle, Tobias Snape, so it was likely that the information was at the Prince ancestral home or a vault in Gringott’s. Severus had never had reason to claim his maternal inheritance before, but perhaps it was time to do so…

Severus was still musing over this when a sharp tapping at his window disturbed him; looking up, he was annoyed to see Fawkes flying outside, holding a scroll that was evidently from Dumbledore. With a scowl Severus waved the window open, and Fawkes dropped the scroll on his desk before taking up perch on the window sill. With a sigh Severus opened the scroll and quickly scanned it;

"Severus,

I have been trying to get in touch with you since early this afternoon, but you have not responded; I do hope you have not been injured. It is of utmost importance that you contact me or return to Hogwarts as soon as you are able; the note that I received last night was from Harry Potter, and I believe he may be in trouble and need our assistance. You are the only one I can fully trust with this Severus, so please respond promptly; if you are injured or in danger Fawkes can bring you to me.

Sincerely,

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore

Supreme Mugwump and Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Severus threw the scroll down with a sneer; Harry may be in trouble indeed! Hadrian had been in trouble, but that was Dumbledore's doing. The manipulative old bastard wasn't worried for Hadrian's safety-he was worried that the boy would escape his influence and stop being his pawn. Severus had no desire to see Dumbledore, but he knew he needed to pretend that he still believed in the headmaster. With a sigh he gracefully stood from his chair and turned to face the Phoenix.

"I must give Narcissa an excuse as to why I am leaving so suddenly," he announced, "However I shall return to the school as soon as I am able; it should be no more than twenty minutes." Fawkes gave him a knowing look-Severus was sure that the damn bird knew more than he was letting on-and trilled softly before taking flight and disappearing past the wards. Once the phoenix was gone, Severus closed the window and summoned a house elf.

"Wispy!" a moment later the house elf appeared, bowing and offering assistance, "I am about to return to Hogwarts; in thirty minutes if I am not back I want you to take this scroll to Lucius, and tell him where I have gone and that I will return as soon as possible. Also inform him that I sent the letter off to Gringott’s, and give him these notes." He handed the scroll from Dumbledore and his notes about the books by Mathias and Lorena to the house elf and commanded her to leave. Once he was alone once again Severus made sure his Occlumency shields were in place and made his way downstairs and out the front door until he reached the end of the anti-Apparition wards and Apparated to Hogsmeade, dreading the meeting to come.

/////////////////////

"Ah, Severus my boy! Come in!" Dumbledore called, as Severus stepped off the moving staircase and onto the landing in front of the headmaster’s door, "I'm so glad you could make it; tell me, are you alright?"

"I am indeed," Severus replied, "I apologize for being unreachable for so long, however I had an emergency to help Mr. Malfoy with. Now, what's this about Potter being in danger?" He scowled for effect, "It's barely even summer; I shouldn't have to worry about him for another few months, at least. Did he use un-authorized magic again?"

"No, nothing like that," Dumbledore assured him, "and I am sorry to interrupt your summer, however Harry has gone missing; he sent me a letter and evidently he got into an argument with his cousin Dudley-his cousin desired to hurt Harry and so told him that I paid Mr. Weasley and Ms. Granger to befriend him and also that I condoned the Dursley's un-welcoming behavior."

"Let me guess," Severus sneered, "the brat believed him? After everything that has been done for him he chooses to believe some angry words thrown at him by another child rather than his own experiences; I'm assuming he ran away?"

"Yes," Dumbledore sighed, "I spoke to his relatives, and they told me that Harry has been depressed ever since he came home, likely due to the loss of Sirius. Harry and Dudley got into an argument over something-they aren't sure what-and Harry began mocking Dudley about being overweight and the way he had passed out when they encountered Dementors last summer. Dudley retaliated by telling him those lies I just informed you of, and Harry lost his temper; he somehow knocked his relative’s unconscious and then ran away, taking his belongings with him. Before leaving he sent a letter to me as well as letters to Mr. Weasley and Ms. Granger, accusing us of betrayal and saying that he would never trust us or work with us again. Hedwig delivered the letters and then vanished; we have been unable to locate either her or Mr. Potter, and I am worried that he has fallen into danger." Severus considered his options for a moment, then decided to tell the truth; an edited version of it, at least.

"Actually, I am aware of Mr. Potter's whereabouts," Severus said, "That was the emergency I was dealing with at Malfoy Manor. After he left his relatives Mr. Potter seems to have come into some danger, and somehow wound up on the grounds of Malfoy Manor-"

"And you left him there?" Dumbledore's eyebrows shot up into his hairline.

"I had no choice," Severus replied, "I am not sure how he knew of this tradition, but when Draco came across Potter the boy requested Sanctuary, and Draco was compelled to grant it; as long as Potter does no harm to any of the Malfoy family he cannot be harmed while on their property. Draco Floo called me to tend to Potter's injuries, however when I offered to bring Mr. Potter either here or to St. Mungo's, they both flew into a panic and Draco threatened to ban me from the property; if I had attempted to remove Potter forcefully the magic called into existence when he invoked the Rite of Sanctuary would have forced me out of the house and I would not be able to return. The Rite of Sanctuary is why I did not inform you of his whereabouts immediately; I was determining whether the ritual would see me as antagonistic if I gave you that information. Ultimately, I decided that it would only view me as antagonistic if I was acting in a way that would intentionally cause him harm."

"Well, at least he is safe," Dumbledore sighed, "You did the right thing Severus; do what you can to stay on Mr. Malfoy's good side, and perhaps you can even earn Harry's trust enough to at least convince him to speak to his friends again; if we can get him out of the Manor's wards we can bring him back under our …protection."

Severus mentally rolled his eyes, knowing that Dumbledore really meant to say “bring him back under control”, but nodded his agreement.

"There is one other thing I needed to tell you," Severus said, "Just before Fawkes found me, Lucius returned to the manor; it seems the Dark Lord has freed some of his followers, although Lucius was not sure who exactly had been freed as he was sent home immediately. I did verify that Harry is still safe; even Lucius cannot break the protection spells when Sanctuary is requested and then granted; I have offered to stay at the manor, ostensibly to help Lucius, but in reality I will ensure that Potter comes to no harm."

"Very well," Dumbledore nodded, "Stay with the boys as much as possible, and report to me when you can. Since Mr. Malfoy agreed to protect Harry, perhaps we can use that to turn him to our side; try to convince him to join us, but do not alienate him. Go now, and keep me informed."

"Of course Headmaster," Severus agreed, "I will speak to you again within the week to let you know how things are going." With a final curt nod, Severus left the headmasters office and began the walk to Hogsmeade so he could Apparate back to Malfoy Manor.

//////////////////////

"I can't believe it," Narcissa said softly, sagging against her husband as they left the pensieve; silent tears were streaming down her face; "Dumbledore has caused so much pain…destroyed so many lives…poor Tom! And Harry…Hadrian…do you think he's alright? Dumbledore left potions and gave those Muggles permission to abuse him and bind his magic!"

"Hush Love," Lucius held her tightly, "Dumbledore will get his, never fear, and Severus has already begun working on a way to get Tom back. Tom himself has viewed the memories and recalled what happened, and he is fighting to hold back the insanity. As for Hadrian, he was injured by his relatives, however he is here now, and safe with Draco."

"With Draco?" Narcissa questioned, lifting one elegant brow as she quickly dried her tears, "And why would he be with our son?"

"Because Hadrian ran away from his relatives and somehow found his way here," Lucius smirked, "It seems a lot happened while our son was here by himself, but I will tell you what I know. Evidently the Muggles did give Hadrian the potion to bind his powers and beat him severely, but Hadrian managed to get a hold of the pain relief and healing potions. He called for Dobby-you will remember the elf always liked Potter-who helped him escape. Dobby gave Hadrian a collar to turn him into his animagus form, shrank Hadrian's belongings, and brought him to the woods just beyond our wards, where Hadrian spent the night in a tree.

“Earlier this afternoon he came onto our grounds in search of food, and Wispy found him; she alerted Draco who released Hadrian from his animagus form and then brought him upstairs where the boy passed out. Draco noticed he was bleeding rather heavily and summoned Severus for help, Severus had to go to Riddle Manor for some potions and provided Tom with the memories we just viewed, then returned to heal Hadrian. Tom came once he finished with the memories, and then passed some of them along for Hadrian and Draco to view. According to Severus Hadrian had a few meltdowns which Draco brought him out of, and now the boys are resting."

"The boys saw all of the memories?" Narcissa gasped, "I don't think that was a very wise idea, do you Lucius? They are too young!"

"The boys were already in the pensieve when I arrived," Lucius explained, "However I believe that it is good for them to know the truth; they are both approaching adulthood, and it would be wrong to treat them as children. Draco and Hadrian have agreed to put their past behind them and start over as friends, and Hadrian is willing to get to know Tom. Also, the collar Hadrian is wearing? I recognize it as a Black Family heirloom."

"Oh," Narcissa frowned, then shook her head with a small smile, "Let me guess; Draco activated it, and now Hadrian is under his control?"

"To a certain extent," Lucius confirmed, "Although Tom has made sure Draco knows not to abuse his power too much. I am just wondering how Hadrian came to be in possession of the collar."

"Dobby," Narcissa replied promptly, "Dobby has been very loyal to Har-Hadrian-ever since he freed him, and the elf would think nothing of taking something from us to assist the boy. In this instance, I cannot find it in myself to fault Dobby. You, however, should have altered the wards once he was no longer bound to us. Ah well, what’s done is done and, in this case, your oversight was a good thing.”

Lucius scowled, intending to correct his wife’s misconception-oversight indeed! -but at that moment their house elf Wispy appeared, holding a scroll and a notebook.

"Begging Master's pardon," Wispy squeaked as she bowed, "Master Severus told Wispy to be bringing these to Master Lucius. Master Severus is having to go speak to Dumbledore, and Master Severus also said he sent letter to goblins."

"Thank you Wispy," Lucius gave a curt nod as he accepted the scroll and the notebook, "Make sure tea is ready in about an hour. That is all."

"Yes sir!" Wispy bowed and popped out of the room as Lucius unrolled the scroll, Narcissa leaning close to read over his shoulder.

"I wonder what Severus will tell him," Narcissa mused, "He'll have to let him know that Hadrian is here, otherwise Dumbledore will never trust him when he eventually finds out, but he has to make up something to explain why he can't make Hadrian leave…"

"I'm sure he'll come up with something believable," Lucius said distractedly as he read through the notebook, "These are Sev's notes on Horcruxes; I gave him a series of books for Christmas a few years ago, and it seems they have a lot of information on things that are considered Dark Arts. Not only that, but it says here that they were written by Godric Gryffindor's grandson Mathias, and Rowena Ravenclaw's grandniece Lorena; they describe Dark Rituals and potions, but they also list ways to reverse them. It seems Mathias and Lorena both created Horcruxes and were trying to develop a way to reunite the soul with its original vessel, but Severus said the potions book and parts of the other books are written in some language he doesn't recognize…"

"When he gets back perhaps we can have a look at the books," Narcissa suggested, "You never know, we may recognize the language. Now, how long have the boys been resting?"

"About an hour or so," Lucius replied, "Probably long enough, but before you wake them there is one other thing you should know; Severus said Draco is showing signs of coming into his Veela inheritance on his birthday, and he suspects that Hadrian may be Draco's mate."

"Oh, how exciting!" Narcissa smiled, "Hadrian would be a wonderful match for Draco! Do you remember how we tried to get Elena and Tom to agree to an arranged marriage?"

"Yes," Lucius returned the smile, "but we would have chosen Aracely. it's a good thing they didn't agree to it. Of course, we won't know for sure if they are mates until after they turn sixteen." Narcissa nodded, then her smile turned wistful.

"I miss Elena," Narcissa said, "And Lily too; what are we going to do about Bella?"

"We are going to work on getting her memories back and restoring her mental health," Lucius assured her, "Severus has apparently already made a list of things to do, starting with restoring Tom's soul, finding a way to get Sirius back, and restoring Bella to her former self. Once we can ensure their safety from Dumbledore, Tom intends to locate Elena and Aracely as well."

"There's so much to do," Narcissa murmured before shaking her head softly, "I am going to wake the boys; shall we meet you on the veranda? It's a lovely day and I think Hadrian would enjoy sitting outside while we talk and have tea."

"That sound fine dear," Lucius agreed, "I will stay here for a few more minutes and wait for Severus."

"No need," Severus said as he entered the room, "The meeting with Dumbledore didn't take as long as I expected; were you planning to relocate this meeting?"

"Yes," Narcissa replied, "I am going to wake the boys so we can talk on the veranda. I shall meet you two out there in a few moments." She gave Lucius a kiss on the cheek and swept gracefully from the room.

"Before we go outside," Lucius began, "Would you be willing to get the books you have been researching out of your rooms? I would like to take a look and see if I recognize the language they are written in."

"Of course," Severus replied, "Do you want to come with me?"

"No, I think I shall take a shower first," Lucius said, "Tom cast a cleansing charm when he freed me, but it just isn't the same. I will meet you outside shortly." Severus nodded and the two men went their separate ways.

/////////////////////

It only took Narcissa a few moments to make the short walk from the sitting room down to her son’s room, and then she was quietly opening the door, hoping to catch a glimpse of the boys before they awoke; what she saw made her sigh and smile softly; Draco was sleeping on his back, his pale hair-which he had begun growing out so that it was now chin-length-spread out around his head, and Hadrian lay nearly on top of him, his head resting on Draco's shoulder. Both boys were smiling in their sleep, and Draco had his arms wrapped around Harry possessively. Narcissa closed the door again quietly and then knocked before opening it again.

"Draco darling," She called softly as she entered the room, "It's time for you and Hadrian to get up now." Hadrian grumbled a little and nuzzled into Draco's neck; Draco responded by turning his head to the side and kissing Hadrian on the top of the head. "Draco," Narcissa called again, a bit louder this time, "Wake up now." She drew her wand and opened the heavy draperies further, causing the sunlight to fall onto Draco's closed eyes. The blond frowned and fidgeted restlessly before slowly opening his eyes; when he felt the weight on his chest Draco looked down at the brunet and smiled, before raising his eyes to see Narcissa standing at the foot of the bed.

"Mother," he smiled, shifting Hadrian in his arms, "When did you get home?"

"About an hour ago," Narcissa replied, "Your father filled me in on everything, and we are all heading out to the veranda to discuss this situation; I thought you and Hadrian would want to join us."

"First he needs to wake up," Draco said drily before carding his fingers through the other boy’s hair, "Hadrian; wake up. Come on Hades." He shook the brunet lightly and Hadrian frowned as he slowly returned to consciousness; he opened his eyes and yawned- it was when he attempted to stretch that he realized the position he was in.

"Oh, sorry Draco," Hadrian mumbled as he tried to pull away, frowning when the other boy wouldn't let him go, "Draco; let me go."

"Mmm, but I'm so comfortable right now," Draco replied, his grey eyes sparkling mischievously as he squeezed him a little tighter.

"Stop teasing him Draco," Narcissa chided, smiling at Hadrian when he finally noticed her and blushed.

"Oh, hello Mrs. Malfoy," he said quietly, squirming in Draco's arms, "Umm, sorry to show up without being invited-"

"Nonsense," Narcissa interrupted, "And call me Narcissa, or Cissa. Draco Lucius Malfoy; I thought I told you to stop teasing and let him up." She turned a glare on her son, who pouted but released Hadrian none-the-less. "Good; now get dressed and meet us outside; and Draco? Don't tease Hadrian so much."

"Yes Mother," Draco pouted as he climbed out of bed, "We'll be out shortly." Narcissa smiled and left as quietly as she had come in.

"I really wish you would stop embarrassing me," Hadrian muttered as he turned to look out the window while Draco changed clothes.

"It's not my fault you get embarrassed so easily," Draco replied, "Although, you do look cute when your face is all flushed."

"And stop saying things like that!" Hadrian fought back a blush, "I already told you I'm not gay and it makes me uncomfortable when you flirt with me."

"Yet I woke up with you sleeping in my arms," Draco pointed out, neglecting to mention the fact that he had maneuvered them into that position while Hadrian slept; that was a minor detail in his opinion, and Hadrian hadn't moved away or even acted uncomfortable until he awoke, so on some level Hadrian must have liked it. "You can turn around now Hadrian, and here's a robe for you to wear."

"No way," Hadrian protested as he turned around, "I am not…" he trailed off and gulped as he looked at Draco; the blond was wearing a pair of black slacks with a silver button up shirt that clung to his abs and a dark blue robe over it all. Licking his lips Hadrian cleared his throat and tried again, after reminding himself that he wasn’t attracted to guys, "I'm not wearing a robe Draco; it's bad enough I have to wear these uncomfortable clothes instead of jeans and a t-shirt. Not all of us feel the need to prance around in expensive clothes all day." The outfit Draco had leant Hadrian was similar to his own, except Hadrian's shirt was dark green to match his eyes.

"That was rude," Draco narrowed his eyes at the brunet, "Very rude, and also uncalled for." He paused thoughtfully for a moment before smirking, "Remember that collar you're wearing? If I give you an order you have to obey it, or the collar will cause you varying degrees of discomfort or pain, depending on the order. Do you want me to have to command you to put the robe on?"

"You wouldn't," Hadrian glared and Draco's smirk widened.

"I definitely would," he replied, "Just try me." He held out a silver robe, gazing calmly at Hadrian who finally sighed and slipped it over his shoulders.

"Stupid manipulative Slytherin bastard," Hadrian muttered as he followed Draco to the door,

"I am not a bastard," Draco slapped his arm, "and if things go according to plan you'll be a Slytherin too when school starts back."

"True," Hadrian nodded, "But I won't be a stupid slimy Slytherin git; I'll just be a normal Slytherin."

"Sure, whatever you say Hades," Draco laughed, linking arms with the other boy as they walked down the hall, "Come on; if Mother has to come back up to get us it won't be pleasant. Have you decided which classes you're taking this year?"

The boys talked about innocuous subjects until they reached the veranda, where Severus and Narcissa were already sitting down, talking softly as they looked at a couple of books.

"Where is Father?" Draco asked, "And what are you looking at?" He took a seat next to Severus, motioning for Hadrian to sit next to him.

"Your father decided he needed a shower as cleansing charms are not good enough for him," Severus said drily, "He should be down soon. We are going through some books you father gave me a few years ago; they are first-hand accounts of how to perform certain rituals and also how to reverse them." He held up one of the books, which looked very old, and said, "This one deals exclusively with Horcruxes; the authors each created three Horcruxes and they recorded the details of the ritual and their experiences."

"Severus thinks that we can use this to restore Tom's soul," Narcissa added, "Only the information we need is written in a language neither of us is familiar with, and this potions book is written in that same language."

"That sounds interesting," Hadrian said, "Can I see one of the books?" Severus nodded and handed the Horcrux book over to Hadrian; he flipped it open to the table of contents and Draco stood up so he could read over his shoulder, resting his elbows on Hadrian's shoulders. The two boys read through the book together, flipping through the pages and barely even looking up when Lucius joined them.

"Look," Draco murmured, pointing to the passage Severus had read earlier, "They created three Horcruxes but didn't go insane; the only problem they came across was not being able to have children."

"Yeah," Hadrian nodded, as he turned to the next page, "but look; Serilia's mom helped them come up with a ritual to be used with the potion Mathias created so that they could restore their souls."

"What are you talking about?" Draco demanded, "I can't even read this page; this is where they start writing in that strange language Sev was talking about."

"Um, no," Hadrian said slowly, tilting his head back to look at Draco, "This is written in English, just as plain as the rest of the information." Draco gave him a look that plainly said he thought he was crazy, but then became thoughtful.

"Can you read it out loud for me?" he asked, "Not paraphrase, but actually read it."

"Okay," Hadrian shrugged and began reading;

"Thanks to Sirena Peverell we now have a ritual to restore our souls; Mathias has volunteered to try it first, however I insisted that we both try it together; if something goes wrong, I don't want to be separated from my love…"

"It's in Parsletongue!" Severus exclaimed, "No wonder I couldn't recognize the language!"

"Wait, Parsletongue?" Hadrian looked shocked, "No; I was reading in English!"

"Oh no you weren't," Draco said breathlessly, "You were speaking in Parsletongue, and it was very…I think I need to sit down before I do something to embarrass you again." Hadrian glanced at Draco as the blonde sat down and noticed the faint flush on his cheeks; without meaning to he glanced down and then quickly away, his own cheeks becoming red as he noticed the bulge in Draco's trousers.

"Hadrian, would you be willing to help me by translating this book?" Severus inquired, "I just need information on the ritual, and then the Horcrux potion translated into English so that we can restore your father's sanity; afterwards I am sure he will be willing to help translate if you don't want to."

"Yeah," Hadrian agreed, "Of course I'll help. When do you want to start?"

"Why don't we start tomorrow afternoon?" Severus suggested, "We can work on it for an hour or two a day until we have the necessary information."

"Sounds good to me," Hadrian smiled.

"Master Lucius!" they all looked up at the squeaky voice to see Wispy bowing before them, "There is being a goblin here to be speaking to Mr. Harry Potter, sir. I is telling him there is no Harry Potter, but he is not being listening; he is saying Masters must meet him inside as he is not comfortable outside."

"Very well," Lucius agreed, "See him to the downstairs parlor and serve him refreshments if he so desires." Wispy agreed and popped out. "Hadrian, as your father is not here, would you like some-or all-of us to accompany you?"

"I think I'd feel more comfortable to have someone with me," Hadrian agreed, "If everyone wants to come I don't mind, but I would like at least two people with me."

"Of course we will all go," Narcissa assured him, "There is much to straighten out, and it would benefit you to have more witnesses. Come along Hadrian dear; I'll show you to the parlor." She liked arms with Hadrian and led him back into the house, ignoring the glare from her son.

 

Chapter Text

"Is everyone present who intends to be a part of this meeting?" Griphook, the representative sent by Gringott’s eyed the people in the room with barely-disguised contempt; he had set up a desk and chair in the sitting room, and was shuffling through papers when Hadrian, Severus and the Malfoy’s entered. The wizards took their time becoming comfortable, Lucius and Narcissa sitting on a couch, Severus in a winged chair, and Hadrian and Draco sitting on the love seat at-Draco's insistence, of course.

“Everyone is present,” Lucius confirmed, “I also have a letter authorizing me to speak to you about anything concerning the Riddle vaults.” Lucius snapped his fingers, and a house elf appeared to take the letter and deliver it to Griphook, before quietly vanishing again.

“Everything seems to be in order,” Griphook confirmed, after spending several minutes testing the authenticity of the letter, “Now, why have you requested this meeting?” Lucius was, once again, the one to reply.

"We suspect that Albus Dumbledore has been making unauthorized withdrawals from the Potter and Black vaults. We wish to file lodge a formal complaint on behalf of the heirs to those two estates, and also request a full accounting of the money spent since the deaths of James and Lily Potter. In addition, we are requesting an investigation into any withdrawals from the Riddle vaults, as well as attempts to gain access to the vaults belonging to the Potter’s, Black’s, and Riddle’s. "

"It will be done," Griphook confirmed, then narrowed his eyes at Lucius, “You should be aware, however, that Albus Dumbledore is listed as Harry Potter’s Magical Guardian and, as such, he is authorized to make any withdrawals he deems necessary. The funds in the Potter vault are to be held in trust until Harry Potter comes of age, and until that time Mr. Dumbledore may use the funds as he sees fit. Also, as Harry Potter was named Sirius Blacks heir, Albus Dumbledore has authorization to access the Black vaults as well.”

“Albus Dumbledore may indeed be Harry Potter’s magical guardian," Severus began, "However this does not give him authorization to access either the Potter or Black vaults. Just today, we discovered that many things believed to be truths for the past sixteen years are in fact deceptions; the existence of Harry Potter is one such deception."

“Explain,” Grip hook’s gaze was sharp as he gave Severus his full attention, but the Potions Master was not the one to speak up.

"Harry Potter’s existence is a lie," Draco drawled, his tone bored even as he reached out to squeeze Hadrian's hand reassuringly, "Albus Dumbledore was not satisfied with the choices several of his former students were making, and so decided to remove those he viewed as threats. He created a Dark Lord for the world to fear, so that everyone would once again look to him for guidance. Dumbledore, however, did not want to destroy the new Dark Lord himself; instead, he wished to be seen as a mentor and protector of the “destined hero”. To that end, he needed a pawn, a figurehead that he could manipulate, but who would also draw the loyalty of the wizarding world, so he altered people's memories and kidnapped children, changing their identities to suit his purposes; one of the identities was that of Harry Potter.” Draco turned to look at Hadrian, “Harry Potter is not, as Dumbledore would have you believe, the son of James and Lily Potter, but is instead a boy forced to participate in a blood adoption ritual as a child; earlier this afternoon he was returned to his true self. This, is Hadrian Riddle, formerly Harry Potter."

"Very good," Griphook nodded, and Hadrian realized that the goblin sounded pleased with the situation, "We had begun to think that no one would ever discover the truth. Sixteen years ago, Albus Dumbledore attempted and failed to change our memories, as we are not susceptible to most potions. To avoid a war, however, we had to pretend to go along with his changes until such time as the truth was revealed." He turned his attention to Hadrian, "Do you acknowledge that your true name is Hadrian Riddle, and reject the name and identity of Harry Potter?"

"I do," Hadrian replied, "I acknowledge that my true name and identity is that of Hadrian Riddle, son of Elena Pruitt and Tom Riddle. I reject the name and identity of Harry Potter as a figment created by Albus Dumbledore." There was a flash of bright light as magic took his words as truth.

"Very good," Griphook said approvingly, "All of the documents in Gringott’s have now been altered to show your true identity. Now, as you have acknowledged the fact that you are not a Potter you will no longer have access to the Potter vaults; you were mentioned in the Potter’s will, however, and you shall find out what they left to you once a reading is arranged. As to the money you have previously used, we will not seek recompense from you, as you made the withdrawals in good faith. We shall handle collection of the missing funds ourselves.” Griphook paused, shifting the papers on his desk and opening a scroll. “Sirius Black has named you his heir, as already mentioned; even though Harry Potter does not exist, you are in truth Sirius Black’s godson and so the will still stands. Everything will become official after the reading of the will, which still has not been scheduled.” More shuffling, then, “In recognition of your identity as Hadrian Riddle, Gringott’s will arrange for the key to your actual school vault to be sent to you as soon as possible. In regards to the Riddle vaults, I can confirm that withdrawals have been made over the past several years; I will personally oversee an investigation and provide Mr. Thomas Riddle with the results. Any unauthorized withdrawals will be addressed. What further concerns do you have?"

"What about the Potter vaults?" Narcissa asked, "Are you still going to allow Dumbledore to have access to the funds? Even though Harry Potter does not exist, the Potter's did have a daughter, and we have plans to inform Lillian Potter-currently Ginerva Weasley-of her true lineage."

"I will take steps to begin limiting his access," Griphook assured her, "As I stated before, Gringott’s keeps very detailed records so once everything has been resolved we will be able to take action and make Albus Dumbledore return the funds that he used, although we will not completely cut off his access until Lillian Potter accepts her true identity. In order for Lillian Potter to have access to the vaults, she would first have to denounce her identity as Ginerva Weasley. If she decides to do so, please inform Gringott’s at once."

"If Ginny stops being a Weasley, who will she live with?” Hadrian questioned, and Griphook frowned thoughtfully.

"I do not recall who the Potter’s listed as Lillian’s guardian if anything should happen to them, however I do know that they had a list of people they approved of," he said, "We will look into it when the time comes.” Griphook turned his attention to Lucius. “Will you be working to restore the memories of everyone who was affected?"

"Yes," Lucius confirmed, "We will have to work slowly and carefully choose whose memories to restore first so that Dumbledore does not find out in time to stop us. We also plan to try and heal those that were damaged by him; are you aware of any of the details about what happened?"

"We just have the basic information," Griphook replied, "We know that Albus Dumbledore kidnapped children and performed illegal blood adoptions and that he changed the memories of everyone in wizarding Britain, but that is all we know." Severus pulled a vial of memories out of his robes, and levitated it over to Griphook.

"I copied some of the memories so that you and the others at Gringott’s will know the entire truth," Severus informed him, "I would simply ask that you are careful in choosing any non-goblins to show the memories to."

"Of course," Griphook agreed, taking the memories and tucking them carefully away, "In return, I have some items and information that may help you. Much of the information is Dark, and not fit for the ears of children. As young Mr. Riddle is underage, and his guardian is not here, I do require him to leave the room. I would suggest the young Mr. Malfoy leave the room as well."

"What?" Hadrian cried, outraged at Griphook’s words, "That's not fair! I've already had enough of keeping secrets from Dumbledore, and now you’re doing the same thing!"

"Hadrian dear, there are certain rules that Griphook must obey," Narcissa said gently, "There are also certain topics that are truly not meant for young wizards to hear about. We will share what information we can later, but in the meantime you and Draco should go back upstairs; you can ask Tillie to prepare a room for you to stay in if you like."

"Fine," Hadrian pouted, as he got to his feet, "But it's still not fair. I should have gone to Neville; he wouldn’t keep secrets from me."

"Stop being dramatic," Draco chided, "Come along Hadrian; we can go through my wardrobe and see if I have any clothing that will fit you without alterations. As small as you are, I may have to ask Tilly to pull out my wardrobe from Third Year. We will see you for dinner, Mother, Father; thank you for your time Griphook." He pulled Hadrian out of the room and up the stairs without giving the brunet a chance to protest.

/////////////////////////////////

"But your Mum said I could have my own room!" Hadrian protested, pulling Draco's hand down from where it had been covering his mouth, "And I think if your Mum gave me permission to call Til-mmph!" He glared as Draco slapped his other hand down to cover Hadrian's mouth again.

The boys had been in Draco’s room for the past ten minutes, with Hadrian attempting to call Tillie so that he could have a bedroom set up, and Draco preventing him from calling the house elf. Hadrian was seriously considering hexing the blond, but his wand was still in his trunk; he made a mental note to unpack it as soon as possible.

"I don't care what Mother said," Draco pouted, "I told you you're staying in here; I want you where I can keep an eye on you. Is it really that important for you to have your own room?" He took his hand away to allow Hadrian to speak. The brunet bit his lip, taking a moment to think before responding.

"Look, I really would feel more comfortable in my own bed," Hadrian explained, "Also, I have never really had my own room before-I mean, I slept in Dudley's broken toy room, but it was never mine; I want my own room!" He paused, then added, “Besides, it’s not like we would stop hanging out just because I have my own bedroom; I don’t know about you, but I tend to get bored very quickly when I’m by myself all the time.”

Draco gave him a thoughtful look, then sat down on the edge of the bed, patting the mattress next to him for Hadrian to sit as well. He didn’t speak again until they were both seated.

"Okay, so I understand why you want your own space, and I am willing to compromise,” the blond said, “We can have your bedroom set up next to mine, with a door going between the two rooms, that way you will have a place to be alone if you need it. Also, I get to help you decorate."

"Okay," Hadrian agreed, "I guess I can live with that; so, now can I call-" Tapping at the window distracted the brunet and he turned to see a familiar snowy owl carrying a letter, “Oh, it's Hedwig!” Hadrian hurried over to let the snowy owl in, "Hey girl; is that from Neville?" He took the letter from her and turned to Draco, "Do you have any owl treats?"

"In the desk," Draco replied, looking at the envelope with narrowed eyes, "Why would Longbottom be writing to you?"

"Hmm?" Hadrian looked up from where he had been feeding Hedwig and smiled, "Oh, he was one of the people I wrote to before I ran away; I didn't really give him any information though, because I didn’t want to put it in writing. Why don't you wait here in case I need to write back girl?" Hedwig hooted her agreement and settled down on the back of the desk chair while Hadrian made his way back over to the bed and opened the envelope, "Huh, it's two letters-one is from Luna." He unfolded Neville's letter first.

"Harry,

I was really worried after reading your letter; are you sure running away is your only option? You know I’d help you if you need it. I would tell you to go to Dumbledore, but I don’t think he’d do anything, since he thinks you’re safe with your relative’s. If you need anything don't hesitate to ask; Gran has been more lenient with me ever since the Ministry, so I can meet up with you anytime you are ready to talk. I could probably get her to let you stay with us too, if you want; I’m sure it’s safer than wherever you’re planning to go. Also, be careful of Ron and Hermione-I ran into them at Triple W a couple days ago and they were acting really strange-especially Ron. Oh! Hedwig just arrived, so I guess I’ll send this with her instead of using one of the family owls. Anyway, write back when you're able to, and let me know when it’s safe to meet.

~Neville

Ps-Luna added her letter with mine, but she wouldn't let me read it so it's not my fault if it's weird."

Hadrian passed the letter to Draco and opened the one from Luna.

"Hello Hadrian!

How are you? I just wanted to let you know that everything will work out just fine; Lillian will come back to the right side, and Helena will see the truth eventually. I can't wait to meet your sister! I have told Neville to be ready to go, so we shall meet you at the Manor this evening once we receive your reply. Also, the Headmaster knows where you are and he was told that you claimed Sanctuary-it is a very good idea and may help you in the future. 

See you soon!

~Luna

Ps- Don’t step on the Boppling Noryx!"

"How does she know?" Draco demanded after he read the letter, "Did you find a way to contact her while I was sleeping?"

"Yes," Hadrian rolled his eyes, "I sent her a telepathic message while we were taking a nap.” Draco scowled, and Hadrian laughed before adding, “Luna…she just knows things sometimes-I can't explain it, but she has never been wrong that I know of, and I trust her.” A pause. “So, about them coming over…?" Draco gave him a hard look before responding.

"You really trust them?" Hadrian nodded and the blond sighed, "Very well; send them a letter back and invite them to come through the Floo-I'll reset the one in the study down the hall to allow them through. They just call out Malfoy Manor-Blue Study."

"Thank you!" Hadrian threw his arms around Draco in a quick hug before rushing over to write the letter, barely registering Draco talking to a house elf. Once Hadrian was done, he gave the letter to Hedwig. "Here girl; take this to Neville for me and be safe." Hedwig gave him an affectionate nip before wheeling out the window.

"The Floo is all set up,” Draco said, "So now we can get your room fixed. Tillie!”

The boys spent the next hour arguing over Hadrian's room; Draco wanted the bedroom to be as big as his own (which was the size of the whole upper story of the Dursley's house) and Hadrian insisted that he didn't need that much space-Hadrian finally won and his bedroom was about half the size of Draco's, with a full size bed, a desk, a few bookshelves, and a couple of chairs. There was also a window seat over-looking the garden which was lined with a comfy cushion and a handful of decorative pillows. There was a small ensuite bathroom with a shower stall, but Draco had succeeded in convincing Hadrian that he could use the tub in Draco's bathroom if he ever wanted to just take a bath; at Draco's insistence Hadrian also had a walk-in closet which he promised (threatened) would be stuffed full soon enough. The biggest argument came when they were discussing color themes-Draco wanted it to echo his own room which was decorated in jewel tones of blue and green with a little silver thrown in, but Hadrian wanted his room to be decorated with cool greys and deep, rich shades of blue and purple. Finally, it was done though, and Hadrian flopped down on his bed, head in the middle and his legs hanging over the edge; Draco walked around and flopped down on the opposite side so that their heads were next to one another, and they shared a small smile.

"Master Draco!" Draco sat up with a groan as Tillie popped in, "You is having guests in the study; should Tillie be bringing them here?"

"No; we shall meet them in the study," Draco replied, "Bring some tea and light snacks, and then tell Mother that I have guests."

"Right away Master Draco!" Tillie bowed and then popped out again.

"Come on lazy," Draco walked around the bed and held out a hand to help Hadrian up, "You invited them, so now you have to get up and meet them."

"Fine," Hadrian sighed, letting Draco pull him to his feet, "This feels like the longest day ever! I'm so tired, and I don't know why…"

"Why in the world would you be tired?" Draco asked sarcastically, “It isn’t as if you spent the morning as a tiger, before being returned to your human form, fainted from blood loss and had to be healed, viewed memories that changed everything you thought you knew about yourself, met your father and reversed a blood adoption…oh wait; you did do all of that.”

"Well, when you put it that way, I should have passed out hors ago, and not wake until sometime next month," Hadrian said drily as they walked down the hallway towards the study, "By the way, what's that Sanctuary thing Luna mentioned in her letter?"

"It is an ancient tradition where a wizard who is in trouble or needs somewhere to hide can venture onto another wizard’s property and make a plea for Sanctuary," Draco explained, "The other wizard is bound by magic to grant the request for Sanctuary, which means that he will offer a safe place for the wizard who is in trouble. Even if the two wizards were previously enemies all previous differences will be set aside until Sanctuary is no longer needed. In addition, no guest in the home can harm a wizard under Sanctuary or Lad Magic herself will punish them."

"Oh,” Hadrian frowned in thought, “Since Dumbles thinks I requested Sanctuary already, should I actually do it?"

"It couldn't hurt," Draco shrugged, "All you have to do is formally request Sanctuary; the exact wording doesn't matter."

"Okay," Hadrian agreed, "Draco Malfoy; I apologize for trespassing on your land and I ask that you grant me Sanctuary because I feel that my life is in danger."

"I, Draco Malfoy, Heir of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Malfoy, grant Hadrian Riddle Sanctuary," Draco replied formally, and Hadrian clasped the outstretched hand, "For so long as you require, House Malfoy will protect you from enemies to the best of our abilities, both inside and outside these walls. In return, we ask that you do not cause harm to the members and guests of House Malfoy, unless in self- defense, and that you offer your wand if trouble arises during your stay.” There was a pause as Draco gave him a sly look before adding, “Now we seal it with a kiss." He leaned forward to kiss Hadrian but the brunet pulled away glaring.

"Nice try Malfoy," He said, "When will you give up on hitting on me?"

"Oh, never," Draco said nonchalantly as they came to a stop outside the study, "You'll come to love me eventually. Now, did you want to speak to your friends in private?"

"Yes, I do," Hadrian replied, hiding a grin as Draco’s shoulders slumped in disappointment; the other boy quickly hid the disappointment with a smile and started to turn away. 

“Just call for Tillie when you’re done then,” the blond, instructed, “She can show you the way back to your room.” Hadrian grabbed Draco’s arm to stop him from leaving. 

“Where are you going?” Hadrian demanded, “I just told you that I want to talk to my friends, didn't I? You can't abandon me now.” He linked arms with the blond, pretending not to see the shocked expression on Draco's face, or the way that expression slowly became a self-satisfied smirk, and they entered the room together. They saw that their guests had already arrived; Neville was standing nervously by the fireplace while Luna was examining something on the bookcase.

"Hi Harry, umm…Malfoy; thank you for inviting us," Neville greeted Hadrian cheerfully, glancing nervously at Draco.

"Of course," Draco nodded graciously, "Welcome to Malfoy Manor Longbottom, Lovegood. Tea?" He sat down in a chair in front of the low coffee table, where Tillie had already set up the tea tray. Hadrian took the seat next to him, while Luna and Neville sat across from them. 

"So, how have you guys been?" Hadrian asked, as he accepted a cup of tea from Draco. 

"Good," Neville replied, "Gran let me set up a greenhouse at home; it doesn't have much in it yet, but I plan to have it full by the time we graduate. She's also started to let me manage my own finances and she seems to trust me more after what happened at the ministry." He cut an uncertain look at Draco, but the blond chose to ignore the reference to the night of his father’s arrest. 

"I am helping Daddy research the Crumple-horned Snorkack," Luna said, "He said that next summer we can go an expedition to try and find one. How are you feeling? Your back is better, I hope."

"How did you-never mind," Hadrian shook his head, "Yes, I am much better now; Severus and Draco healed me right up."

"Well, what happened?" Neville asked, "What made you run away, and why did you come here?"

"It's kind of a long story," Hadrian began, "Last night I was sneaking down to the cupboard to get my school stuff out-you remember I told you my relatives lock everything up over the summer?" Neville nodded; Luna merely hummed a tune that sounded suspiciously like 'Weasley Is Our King'. "Right; well, while I was in the cupboard the doorbell rang, and I heard Dumbledore talking to my relatives…” Hadrian told Luna and Neville everything that had happened since Dumbledore's visit, ending with; “Draco and Severus saved me, and then I met my father."

"But…James is dead," Neville pointed out uncertainly, "How could you meet him?"

"That's where it gets interesting," Hadrian grinned in anticipation of Neville’s reaction, "It seems James was not my father, but actually my uncle; my mom was Elena Pruitt, Lily's American cousin, and my father was,” he paused for dramatic effect, “Tom Riddle."

"T-Tom Riddle?" Neville stuttered, "Isn't that-?"

"Yes; it's Lord Voldemort," Hadrian said, "But he wasn't anything like what we were told. Severus managed to get some memories that Dumbledore had hidden, things that happened when our parents were in school, and he let Draco and I view some of them so that we would know the truth. See, Tom Riddle never wanted to kill Muggleborns…" Hadrian told them about the memories and how Dumbledore had manipulated everyone and changed their memories; "…and then Dumbledore made my Mum leave the country and changed my identity to that of Harry Potter, so that I would fit his fake prophecy."

"Wow," Neville said, "That's just…"

"I'm so sorry for what happened to you," Luna set her tea down and crossed the room to sit on Hadrian's lap wrapping her arms around his neck and leaning her head on his shoulder, "Dumbledore took your family away…and yours as well Neville; what can we do to help Hadrian?"

"Well, for now we just need to keep this quiet," Hadrian replied, casually returning the embrace; it would feel weird with anyone else, but with Luna Hadrian was surprisingly comfortable, "We can't let Dumbledore find out that we know the truth until…well, I'm not sure exactly, but I would guess that we need to keep it a secret until Tom gets his soul back. Nev-we're looking into ways to restore Bellatrix to sanity, and I promise we will also do what we can to help your parents. Severus has a set of books written by some descendants of Godric Gryffindor and Rowena Ravenclaw which have information on Horcruxes, and there may be other useful information in them, but a lot of it is in Parsletongue so only Tom and I can read it."

"So Vold-er, Tom, isn't insane anymore?" Neville asked.

"He’s still a little insane," Draco choose that moment to speak, and Hadrian noticed that he was glaring at Luna for some reason, "However, now that he's aware of what happened he is trying to fight it. He still intends to project our works from Muggles, but his methods have changed.” 

“One thing you should know however,” Hadrian cut in, “If I have my way, Dumbledore will suffer for what he has done, and then he will die."

"Weeds must be exterminated so that the flowers can grow," Luna nodded solemnly, "So you will have to go by Harry until you are ready to reveal yourself. Will you remain in Gryffindor?"

"I hadn't thought about that," Hadrian frowned, "I guess you're right though; I'll probably have to pretend to still be Harry when we go back to school. I plan to ask for a re-sort when we go back; I don't want to share a room with Ron anymore."

"That's understandable," Neville nodded, "I'll miss you being there though.” There was a pause in conversation, and Hadrian once again noticed Draco giving Luna a death glare. Thinking back, he realized Draco had been glaring ever since Luna sat on Hadrian's lap; Neville must-have noticed the same thing, because he asked; 

“Um, Luna? Why are you clinging to Har-er-Hadrian?"

"Hmm? Oh, I'm just helping with the nargles," Luna replied dreamily, “Are you feeling better now?”

"Er, yes? " Hadrian said uncertainly, “I think the…um, nargles have gone now.” 

“Good,” Luna said serenely, as she slipped off of Hadrian’s lap and stood in front of Draco, gazing at him expectantly, “Now Draco and I can find a way to make sure they don't come back.” Draco was too stunned to protest when Luna grabbed his hand to pull him out of the chair, and Hadrian watched in bemusement as the Ravenclaw led Draco to the other side of the room. 

“Don't look at me,” Neville held his hands up when Hadrian glanced at him, “You understand her better than anyone else does, so if you don't know what she's up to then I have no chance of guessing.” The two friends watched as Draco gave a scathing reply to something Luna had said, resulting in the fey girl tossing her head back to laugh, before snuggling into Draco's side. Draco looked panicked for a moment, then he glanced over his shoulder at Hadrian; his expression slowly became a smug smirk, and he wrapped his arm around Lunas waist, then leaned down to whisper something in her ear. 

“What the hell?” Hadrian glared at the pair of blondes, “What is that prat up to?”

“Harry; sorry, Hadrian, you-do you like Luna?” Hadrian glanced at his friend in surprise, and saw that Neville looked nervous about his answer.”

"What? No!” He shook his head vehemently, “You know there's nothing between Luna and me. We're just friends, and she's one of the only girls I feel comfortable just hanging out with.” A pause, then, “Do you think Draco likes her?" Hadrian felt stupid for asking the question, but he couldn't help himself; the two blondes looked cozy and, for some reason, the thought of Draco liking Luna made Hadrian feel…well, he didn't like it, that's for sure.

“He might,” Neville said, Hadrian scowled at the reply, which made Neville ask, “If you don't like Luna, why does Draco liking her bother you?”

“Because he's been flirting with me all day,” Hadrian blurted without thinking, and Neville’s eyes widened.

“Oh! You like Draco!”

“What? No!” Hadrian protested, fighting off a blush, “I just-I don't want Luna getting hurt. And Draco shouldn't be flirting with her if he’s gay. Why would you think I’m gay? I had that crush on Cho, remember? We even went on a date!” 

"Actually, Cho is the only girl I've ever heard you mention liking," Neville said thoughtfully, “And all it took was one kiss for you to stop liking her…are there any other girls you like?"

"I haven't exactly been looking," Hadrian scowled, "I have been busy you know; I haven't had time to notice girls."

"But you had time to notice Draco,” Neville pointed out, “Now that I think about it, you've always paid attention to Draco, to the point of obsession.”

“We were enemies,” Hadrian reminded him.

“So were Malfoy and Ron,” Neville pointed out, “But Ron didn't spend every meal glaring at him.”

“That's because Ron can't focus on anything long-term unless it’s food,” Hadrian retorted, but he had a sinking feeling he was losing this argument. He didn't like Draco though, did he? He couldn't like him, because that would make him gay, and he wasn’t gay. Hadrian would know if he was gay…wouldn’t he?

“Well, I heard from Hannah that Draco is bi, so flirting doesn't mean that he is leading her on,” Neville said, “You know that it’s okay if you're gay, right?” Neville pressed on before Hadrian could respond, “Gran mentioned that a lot of Muggles don't like gay people, but it's acceptable in the Wizarding World.”

“I-well, I don't have a problem with someone being gay,” Hadrian replied hesitantly, “I know Seamus messes around with guys and that never bothered me. I guess I just never thought about it applying to me.” He thought back to his reactions to Draco's flirting with him, and his response to being kissed by the blond, and reluctantly admitted, “I guess it's something I should consider.”

“Well, you might not have too much time if that kiss is anything to go by,” Neville was looking at something behind Hadrian, and the raven-haired boy felt his heart sink as he quickly looked over his shoulder-only to see Draco and Luna playing chess. Draco caught him looking and arched his eyebrow in question, but Hadrian just shook his head before turning back around to glare at a smirking Neville. 

“Evil,” Hadrian accused, “That was evil and manipulative and-are you sure you're not a Slytherin?”

“Sometimes Slytherin tactics work,” Neville shrugged, “Besides, at least now you know you like him. “ 

“But-how could I be gay and not realize it?" Hadrian demanded.

"It's generally expected for boys to like girls, so it's understandable that you didn't notice before, " Neville replied, "It’s like I said before though-same sex relationships are accepted in our world, and there are ways that you can still have a family.” They were silent for a moment as Neville let Hadrian think it over before suggesting, “Do you want to go check on Draco and Luna? We can find out if the-er, nargles have left."

"Umm, sure," Hadrian said, feeling dazed, "I guess I can't really avoid him since I'm living here for now. But, um…can we not mention what we just discussed? I-I don't think I'm ready for anyone else to know yet; I need time to think about it."

"Of course," Neville nodded as they got to their feet, "I won't tell anyone without your permission.” Hadrian smiled his thanks, then led the way over to where Draco and Luna were still playing chess.

“Having fun?” Hadrian asked as he stood next to Draco, who was alternating between scowling at the board and glaring at Luna. 

“She's cheating,” Draco accused, “I don't know how, but she's cheating.” Draco’s scowl intensified as one of Lunas pawns destroyed his rook. “See! I don't even know where that pawn came from!”

Hadrian stifled a laugh as Luna gave a serene smile. 

“I had a lovely time, Draco,” Luna stood up, “We should be going though, before Daddy starts to worry.”

“I need to get back before dinner,” Neville added, “Gran invited some of the family over, and I will never hear the end of it if I don’t get back before they arrive. Owl me sometime so we can meet up again to talk more about…well, I guess everything. Once you start making plans, I want to help.”

“Of course,” Hadrian grinned, “I wouldn’t want to leave you out of it. You either, Luna.”

“Thank you for having us, Malfoy,” Neville said politely as they walked over to the Floo.

“It was my pleasure,” Draco returned with a small bow, “Hadrian and I will owl you soon.” He took down a pot of Floo powder, and within moments Luna and Neville were gone.

“So, what were you and Luna talking about?” Harry asked, as they wandered back over to the sitting area.

“We were discussing what will happen when we return to school,” Draco replied, “Why? Jealous?”

“Of course not,” Hadrian scoffed, “I just never thought you’d willingly have a conversation with Luna, especially after the way you were glaring at her earlier.”

“I have no problem with Lovegood,” Draco said, “You must have been imagining things.”

“Whatever,” Hadrian rolled his eyes, “What about your friends? What will you tell them when they ask why you're being nice to me?"

"I'll tell them the truth," Draco shrugged, "Or, at least the truth that Dumbles knows; you ran away because the Muggles went too far and wound up at Malfoy Manor where you asked me for Sanctuary-I granted it and we became friends. I won't tell anyone the full truth without your permission Hades; there are a few people I trust explicitly, but I can't expect you to trust them right away. I know you already know my friends from Hogwarts, but you’ll get a chance to actually meet them at my birthday party in a couple of days."

"Are you sure that's a good idea?" Hadrian frowned, "Some of them might decide to try and attack me, and then I'll have to fight back-and you know I'm fairly good at dueling-and even if they do win, I can't imagine Tom being pleased."

"No, he would be disappointed in you for losing," the sardonic comment had Draco and Hadrian looking up to see Lucius standing in the doorway, "There is no need to worry however, as I will make an announcement to everyone that you are not to be attacked in my home. Bellatrix may still pose a problem though, so I would recommend avoiding her, and make certain that you are never alone with her."

"Of course, Mr. Malfoy," Hadrian agreed, "Or, we could just tell her that I'm the Dark Lord's son and she has to obey me or…I'll let Severus use her for potions ingredients. That's believable, right?" Hadrian directed the question at Draco, who shook his head.

"That's the best way to get hexed," the blond informed him, "And it would likely cause Aunt Bella to challenge Severus to a duel as well. In case you haven't noticed, Aunt Bella is slightly insane. In fact, perhaps Tom should have a word with her before my birthday?" He looked questioningly at his father, and received a nod in return.

"I shall mention it to him," Lucius agreed, "Now, if you boys aren't busy it's time for supper;" he led the way downstairs, telling the boys, "Severus has left for the evening to speak with Tom, and they will both return sometime tomorrow. Have you decided on your sleeping arrangements?"

"Yes," Draco nodded, linking arms with Hadrian, who rolled his eyes, "Hadrian has his own room set up, but we hid it so that it can't be easily accessed; you can only get to it through my room."

"I do have a hidden door that opens out into the hallway though," Hadrian added, "It can only be opened from the inside, so that way if someone gets into Draco's room we can still get out."

"I doubt anyone will be able to sneak into the manor and all the way up to Draco's room," Lucius said, amusement evident in his voice, "however, it is always a good idea to have an escape plan. Narcissa and I have both told the house elves to obey you unless you request something that contradicts our orders, so if you do run into any trouble they will be able to help. Now, let's keep the discussion light until after dinner, okay?"

"Yes Father," Draco agreed.

"Yes Mr. Malfoy," Hadrian nodded.

"Call me Lucius, Hadrian," Lucius said, "We're practically family, after all; Tom was like a brother to me when we were in school."

"Does that mean you remember everything from your school years?" Draco asked interestedly as they stopped outside the dining room, "You never really shared any of your school memories with me before."

"Oh yes," Lucius smiled, "I definitely remember my years at Hogwarts; I'll tell you what the Marauder's did to Severus in fifth year-his fourth year-if you promise not to tell him where you heard it from."

"Promise!" Draco and Hadrian said in unison.

"Very well," Lucius led them into the dining room, pausing to pull Narcissa's seat out for her, "It was the first Hogsmeade weekend of the year, and…"

The small group spent dinner discussing Lucius and Narcissa's school days; once they viewed the memories Dumbledore had stolen, it unlocked further memories that they had previously forgotten. It seemed there were many prank wars between the Gryffindor Marauder's-Sirius, James and Remus (they chose not to mention Peter Pettigrew)-and the Slytherin Demagogue's-Lucius, Severus and Tom (Sirius named them claiming that the Slytherin's were all power-hungry tyrants); they drove most of the teachers crazy while they were in school, and once McGonagall wound up with pink hair for a week. Dinner was very light-hearted and filled with laughter, which continued as they retired to the family sitting room.

"So…can you tell us what happened with Griphook?" Hadrian asked once they had all settled into comfortable seats-he was once again sitting by Draco, while the elder Malfoy's were sharing a small divan.

"We are not able to tell you everything," Narcissa began, "It is for your safety as well as the safety of the goblins. I can, however tell you that the goblins were keeping some one-of-a-kind volumes hidden safely away in secret vaults that may help us with Bella and the Longbottom’s; the books were being held in trust until the authors descendant could take possession of them, and with and luck we will be able to get them within the next day or so."

"Oh? And who are the books written by?" Draco asked as he stretched his arms above his head, letting one fall across Hadrian's shoulders; the brunet blushed and glared at Draco, shrugging his arm off.

"Salazar Slytherin himself," Lucius replied, "It seems that Tom is his descendant, as is Hadrian, of course; that is one of the subjects Severus is discussing with our lord. Griphook indicated that the books may have counter spells to reverse the effects of long-term suffering under the Cruciatus Curse."

"I can't wait to tell Neville!" Hadrian enthused, "He'll be so excited to know that his parents can be healed; I saw them last Christmas you know-they didn't even know who he was. It was really sad." Hadrian turned his head to look at Draco; "You know, I forgot to tell him about the Order of the Black Rose; I bet he'd like to join-you are starting it up again, right?" He directed the question to Lucius, who nodded solemnly, replying;

"Yes, we are re-activating the order-however, we will not be accepting any members under the age of seventeen," he held up a hand to forestall Hadrian and Draco's protests, "You will have enough to worry about just getting through school with Dumbledore keeping his eye on you; there is no reason for you to fight this war just yet."

"Except for the fact that Dumbledore messed with our lives," Draco scowled, "Not to mention there's that prophecy you were after a few months ago-if Tom isn't the Dark Lord then Dumbles is, and that means Hadrian will have to go up against him eventually anyway. Wouldn't it be better to train us further so that we are prepared when the time comes?"

"First of all Severus believes the prophecy was a fake, created by Dumbledore like so many of our memories over the years," Lucius began, "and second, you need to focus on school; if you get involved it will just make you a bigger target to Dumbledore."

"Just-let it go Dray," Hadrian placed his hand on Draco's arm, "It won't do any good-they're adults and they obviously know what's best for us; we won't get them to change their minds, so you had better save your breath."

"We do have your best interests at heart," Narcissa said, "If this situation is still going on once you turn seventeen then we will gladly allow you to join the Order, but you should enjoy being young while you can. Now, how do you feel about going shopping tomorrow? I'm sure you would like to get some new clothing."

"That sounds fine," Hadrian agreed, "What time should we be up?"

"Oh, I shall send a house elf up to Draco's room around six so we can have breakfast before we go," Narcissa said, "Draco can wake you after he gets ready to go; you boys should head upstairs since we have an early morning."

"Of course," Draco said stiffly, still upset about being excluded from the Order, "Goodnight Mother, Father. Come along Hadrian." He grabbed Hadrian by the hand and started pulling him out of the room.

"Stop pulling Draco!" Hadrian protested, "Night Narcissa, Lucius! Draco!" He dug his heels in and pulled back hard, but Draco barely even faltered, just tightened his grip and continued to pull Hadrian up to his room, causing the brunet to stumble. "Draco; can we stop now?" Hadrian yanked his arm away once they were in Draco's room and glared at the blond, "What was that all about?"

"I just wanted to get somewhere private so we can talk," Draco replied, "We have to do something; we can't just let our parents keep us in the dark about this. Why did you just give up in there?"

"I didn't," Hadrian rolled his eyes," I just had to let them think that I was giving up; I know better than to argue with adults-if they won't let us help them, we'll just have to help ourselves. Remember the defense club last year? That taught me that sometimes we just have to take matters into our own hands."

"So you're saying we should start our own group," Draco smirked, "Of course! Who should we include?" He walked over to his bed and flopped down gracefully, beckoning Hadrian to join him.

"Luna and Neville for sure," Hadrian replied, sitting down next to Draco on the bed, "Also the twins. Ginny and Hermione, once we talk to them. We'll have to sound out our other classmates once school starts. Do you have any ideas about who we should invite?"

"I would suggest Blaise, Theo and Pansy," Draco said, "I'm not too sure about Vince and Greg-Crabbe and Goyle-but you can meet them all at my party and we can discuss everything afterwards.” Draco stood up and stretched. “I'm going to change into my pajamas; if you look in the top drawer of my dresser you can find a pair to borrow."

"Thanks, but I actually have my own," Hadrian replied, "Sirius gave them to me last Christmas; I'll just head to my room then so we can go to sleep."

"No, I'm not kicking you out," Draco protested, "I just want to get comfortable in case we fall asleep while we're talking. You can change in here; I'll be back in a moment."

A few minutes later the boys were both back in Draco's room, lounging on the bed.

"We can talk to the twins’ tomorrow," Hadrian said, "They opened their new shop in Diagon Alley and I'm sure they will be there; we just need to avoid the rest of the Weasley's. By the way, when are you going to remove this stupid collar?"

"Eventually," Draco replied nonchalantly, "As I explained earlier the collar helps to keep you safe; when we find something else that works similarly then I will consider removing the collar.” The blond quickly changed the subject before Hadrian could argue, “You know, maybe we should see if we can track down your mother's family; Dumbledore changed people's memories, but there should be a record of her family in the wizarding library off Diagon Alley."

"That sounds good," Hadrian yawned, closing his eyes, "I never knew there was a wizarding library, but I guess it makes sense…I need to talk to someone about changing houses; do I have to go through Dumbles?"

"I believe you can go through the board of governors," Draco replied, "Just tell them that you don't feel comfortable in Gryffindor any longer; there is a book somewhere that tells the requirements which need to be met in order for you to be granted a re-sorting; I'm sure our parents will take care of it though." Draco maneuvered himself so that he was lying closer to Hadrian, their arms just a hairsbreadth away from touching.

"That's right," Hadrian smiled sleepily, "Now when people talk about their parents I can be part of the conversation; I've never been able to do that before."

"Don't worry," Draco said, "Soon you'll be complaining about your parents with the rest of us. Hmmm, I'll have to teach you to use your father's status to your advantage, but I suppose it will have to wait."

"Yeah, I can barely keep my eyes open," Hadrian yawned again, "I should go lay down in my room." He didn't make any move to get up, merely snuggled into the blanket.

"Oh, just stay here for tonight," Draco said, "You're already half-asleep anyway."

"'Kay," Hadrian mumbled, "but no…no funny stuff or I'll tell Tom."

"But you're so adorable it's hard to resist messing with you," Draco teased, and was rewarded by Hadrian's blush.

"Prat," Hadrian opened one eye to glare at him, "Go to sleep." Draco chuckled softly and pulled the blanket up, covering both him and Hadrian. Within a few moments both boys were fast asleep.

 

Chapter Text

Hadrian woke early the next morning feeling safe and warm, the strong arms wrapped around him making him reluctant to get out of bed. He snuggled in closer to the warmth, giving a contented sigh; he couldn't remember the last time he felt so comfortable. The arms around him tightened slightly, and Hadrian came to full wakefulness as he realized that he was wrapped in a tight embrace; his head was resting on Draco's chest with one of Draco's arms slung across his waist and the other cupping the back of his neck.

"Damn," Harry muttered, trying to disentangle himself without waking the blond; he had no desire to get caught in that embarrassing position again-and how did he wind up snuggling with Draco anyway? He'd fallen asleep on Neville's bed in the Gryffindor common room a few times and never awoke snuggled up to the other boy, so why Draco? Because you like him, his inner voice whispered, and Hadrian scowled; if only Neville hadn't brought it up yesterday, he could still be securely in denial about his feelings for Draco.

"Morning Hades," Draco murmured, carding his fingers through Hadrian's hair, "Has the house elf come yet?" Hadrian briefly closed his eyes, enjoying the sensation, before responding.

"No," Hadrian replied, squirming uncomfortably, "Um, Draco, can you-"

"Then go back to sleep," Draco commanded, "I need my beauty rest, and so do you."

"Poncey git," Hadrian muttered, pushing at the firm chest in front of him, "Let me go Draco; even if we don't get up, I still can't sleep like this."

"I disagree," Draco replied, and Hadrian could hear the smirk in his voice, "You were sleeping like this just fine all night, not to mention you had no problem snuggling with me during your nap yesterday. Now, stop being difficult." Draco's arms tightened further, and Hadrian found his face pressed in the crook of Draco's neck.

"You stop being difficult," Hadrian retorted as he squirmed to get away, "I want to get up and take a shower. Also, your mum told you to stop teasing me."

"Ah, but that was yesterday," Draco pointed out, "and today is a whole new day. Well, since you refuse to let me sleep I suppose we may as well get up." Hadrian was relieved when Draco let him go; he practically leapt from the bed before the blond could change his mind and try to pull him back down, "I will let you borrow some of my clothes until we can get you your own."

"I have clothes!" Hadrian protested, then remembered that all of his clothes were either school uniforms, or Dudley's ill-fitting cast-offs-he would look ridiculous if he walked around in Dudley's old clothes with the Malfoy's; "Okay-fine; I'll borrow something of yours. Just-put it on my bed maybe? I'm going to take a shower."

"Very well," Draco agreed, "You are welcome to wait in my room after your shower if you wish; Mother should be downstairs by the time we are ready." Hadrian nodded to show that he understood and then headed through the hidden door-it was behind a tapestry of the Malfoy Family Tree-and into his room before heading to his private bathroom.

Twenty minutes later Hadrian settled into the window seat in Draco's room; he was wearing an old set of Draco's clothing-it looked brand new however-which consisted of a pair of black slacks, a light grey shirt and an emerald-green over-robe. Along with the clothing, Draco had also given him a wand holster that was strapped to his forearm; having never had one before Hadrian amused himself for several minutes flicking his wrist to release the wand from the holster, before looking out onto the gardens below.

It was strange, Hadrian mused, to find himself sitting in Draco Malfoy's bedroom and feeling completely safe and content; just twenty-four hours ago the boys had been rivals, and now they were fast on the way to becoming good friends. More, if Neville was right.

Then again, was he even sure he liked Draco? That trick Neville had pulled on him didn't really prove anything, did it? Just because he found Draco attractive and fun to be around did not mean he actually liked the git. Except, he did enjoy that kiss yesterday, brief though it was. It was also strange that he awoke to find himself sleeping on Draco's chest and was actually comfortable in the blond's arms, and he had felt a pang of jealousy at seeing Draco and Luna so close...

Hadrian sighed-it was just all so confusing! He had always assumed that he would fall in love with a girl-maybe even Ginny (Who wasn't an option anymore even if he was straight, since he found out they are closely related)-and get married, but he honestly hadn't had strong feelings towards any girls except for Cho, and he had been completely turned off by that kiss last year. When Draco had kissed him yesterday however, he had felt...flustered; it was such a brief kiss, but he felt more from that than he had felt with Cho, that's for sure. The lack of tears was definitely a positive improvement.

The sound of the bathroom door opening startled Hadrian from his thoughts and he looked over his shoulder to see Draco emerge with a towel draped around his waist.

"Have you no decency?" Hadrian demanded, flushing as he looked back out the window; Merlin, Draco was fit! He tried to focus on the grounds outside-Draco had an amazing view of the gardens-but found his gaze drawn back to Draco's reflection in the glass.

"It's my room," Draco pointed out, before smiling slyly, "Why? Like what you see Hades?"

"You wish," Hadrian retorted, leaning his head against the window and closing his eyes so that he couldn't watch the blond anymore, "Parading around me half-naked is not going to convince me I want you, so give it up." Well, Hadrian admitted to himself, it might work, but he wasn't about to tell Draco that!

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Draco replied, and Hadrian could hear the rustling of clothes, "I am merely getting dressed; it's not my fault you're embarrassed by the sight of my impressive physique. Besides which, you have nothing to be embarrassed about; you're quite fit yourself, you know."

"That's not why I'm embarrassed!" Hadrian protested, "It's just that normal people do not strut around others without clothing on, prat."

"Oh, stop whining," Draco said, and Hadrian could practically hear him rolling his eyes, "We go to a boarding school for Merlin's sake-surely you've seen your dorm mates-and your teammates-without clothing on, so why does this bother you?"

"I-it-just-you-" Hadrian stuttered, "You know what? Next time you embarrass me, I'm just going to hex you! My father is the Dark Lord and, as his heir, I am owed some respect!" He turned around and glared at Draco as the blond burst into laughter.

"Oh, that was hilarious Hades," Draco gasped out, "Just...hilarious!" Hadrian pouted as he waited for his friend to calm down.

"I'm glad you find me amusing," Hadrian scowled and considered hexing the other boy purely on principle as he waited for Draco to get his breathing back under control.

"Sorry Hades, but you have to admit it was amusing," Draco grinned, "You had the right idea in using your father to gain respect, however you need a bit of practice to make it sound threatening; don't worry though-we'll work on it later. Now, are you ready to go downstairs? Mother's house elf came in just before I got in the shower, so she is probably waiting for us." Draco picked up a comb and ran it through his hair, and it dried quickly, parting to the left just as he liked it.

"Yeah, fine," Hadrian readily agreed, "Let's go downstairs-wait; should I wear my glasses? Since we're going out in public people may find it strange if I don't have them on."

"You can just say that you are wearing those Muggle things I've heard about," Draco said, "Some sort of lenses that go directly on the eye?"

"Contacts," Hadrian informed him, "That's a great idea. Okay; you'll have to lead the way again-I still don't know my way around yet."

"Of course," Draco said agreeably, linking arms with Hadrian, "I'll be glad to lead you anywhere you want to go."

"Was that supposed to be a pick-up line?" Hadrian asked, "Because if so, that was lame; really lame."

"It is considered a joke," Draco scowled, then brightened as a thought occurred to him, "Why? Did you want me to be flirting with you? Because I have better pick-up lines. For example: Baby, you've got me wrapped around your finger tighter than Devil's Snare. Or: I don't need to look into the Mirror of Erised to know that you're the only thing I desire. How about: Is that a wand in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? And then there's the classic: Want a ride on my broomstick?"

"Oh Merlin; stop!" Hadrian begged, laughing so hard tears were leaking form his eyes, "Those are so horrible Draco; do wizards really use those?" He clutched at Draco's arm, leaning against the blond for balance until he got his breath back.

"Only the desperate ones," Draco conceded, "Why? What sort of pick-up lines do Muggles use?"

"I've only heard a couple in passing," Hadrian replied, "Like, did it hurt when you fell from heaven? And: I lost my number; can I have yours? I also heard my cousin tell some girl: You must be tired, because you've been running through my mind all day."

"Those are terrible," Draco wrinkled his nose, "And that one, about losing your number, what does that even mean?"

"Oh, Muggles communicate by using phones, and each phone has a number that you have to dial in order to talk to whomever the phone belongs to," Hadrian explained, "I agree though; it seems pick-up lines are pathetic in both worlds. I would think that honest compliments would work better."

"You're right-they do work better," Draco agreed, "By the way, has anyone ever told you that you have beautiful eyes? They really sparkle when you laugh." Hadrian blushed and looked away from Draco's intense gaze; "You look cute when you get embarrassed like that too." The blond smirked as Hadrian glared at him, his cheeks even redder now.

"I-just-shut it you," Hadrian said, before quickly changing the subject, "So, when we get back from Diagon Alley do you think we can go flying? Maybe we can play a Seeker's game."

The Quidditch talk carried them the rest of the way to the first floor breakfast nook, and through breakfast with Lucius and Narcissa as well; Severus and Tom still had not returned. Once they were finished with breakfast Narcissa, Hadrian and Draco retired to the drawing room so that they could Floo to Diagon Alley.

"Will we be using the Floo in the Leaky Cauldron?" Hadrian questioned innocently.

"Oh Merlin, no!" Narcissa looked scandalized, "Malfoy's are not seen in seedy places such as that; since we are purchasing clothing for you I contacted Madame Malkin and she agreed to let us use her Floo. You go first Draco, and Hadrian can follow behind you."

"Of course Mother," Draco agreed, taking a handful of Floo powder; "Madam Malkin's!" He vanished in a whirl of green flames, and Hadrian followed immediately after, stumbling as usual when he stepped out of the Floo.

"That was graceful," Draco teased, helping Hadrian brush his clothes off, "You really must learn how to exit the Floo without making such a mess." Hadrian stuck his tongue out at Draco and stepped out of the way just as Narcissa came through.

"Alright boys, Madam Malkin should be waiting for us in the main room," Narcissa informed them, "Come along." She ushered them into the main shop where they were greeted by Madam Malkin. For the next two hours Hadrian had to suffer through being measured and fitted for robes, and then he had to try on everything that caught either of the Malfoy's fancy. By the time they were done choosing his clothing, Hadrian was about ready to take a nap.

"Well, now your everyday clothes are done we need to get you some dress robes," Draco said as the clothier tallied up the purchases, "Where should we go to purchase those?"

"We could go over to Paris," Narcissa mused, "It's only nine, so this early in the day there shouldn't be much of a wait for the international Floo, and then we can lunch in Paris as well. How much is that Madam Malkin?"

"That will be twenty Galleons," the witch replied, "Should I just add it to your account?"

"No, I'll pay for it," Hadrian said as he pulled out his money pouch, which still had some coins in it from his last trip to Gringotts.

"Nonsense," Narcissa brushed the offer aside, "Think of it as a late Christmas gift. Yes, you can add it to our account, and have everything delivered to the manor once you've finished." Hadrian remained silent as Narcissa settled the account and arranged for the clothes to be delivered to the manor. The trio headed out into the street, and Narcissa said, "Now, we can go to Gringotts to get some money out of your vault Had-Harry dear, and then we can go to Paris to finish buying your clothes-"

"Do we really have to?" Hadrian asked, "I really don't like shopping for clothes; can't I just owl order whatever you think I need?"

"Why don't I go get your formal clothes in Paris and you boys can roam Diagon Alley for a couple of hours?" Narcissa suggested, taking pity on the boy, "I have your measurements from Madam Malkin's, and you really do get a better quality of clothing when you go in person; we can meet up for lunch at the Bella Notte Cafe at one."

"That would be great," Hadrian beamed, "Thank you Narcissa; I'll give you some of my money to use for my clothes-"

"No need," Narcissa interrupted gently, "Tom sent over some money early this morning to pay for anything you might need; you don't have to worry about money yourself any longer now that you have him. Now, let's go to Gringotts and then you boys can be off."

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"Ah, Mr. Riddle," Hadrian was startled when Griphook addressed him as soon as he entered the bank, and looked around quickly to see if anyone had heard the goblin; "Not to worry," Griphook assured him, "There is no one here to overhear us. Your father owled me this morning, so I have been expecting you; if you would all follow me." Without waiting for a response, Griphook went down a small side corridor, leaving the boys and Narcissa to follow. The goblin led them to a rich-looking office (the furniture was made of polished ebony with gold accents and the chairs were richly upholstered in dark blue velvet while the bookshelves held numerous expensive-looking objects made of gold and silver and sparkling with gems) and gestured for them to take seats across from him.

"The elder Mr. Riddle sent a letter early this morning requesting we take some volumes out of the Slytherin vault and give them to Mrs. Malfoy to be transferred to his home at a later time," Griphook informed them; he pulled out an ancient-looking leather-bound book, "I just need to verify your identity first Mr. Riddle, as our contract with Salazar Slytherin states that we can only release his personal effects to his heir; once we release the books to you however you are free to hand them to Mrs. Malfoy for safe-keeping."

"Oh, er, okay," Hadrian agreed, "Do I put my hand on the book?"

"Not quite," Griphook replied, producing a bright orange quill, "You will use this phoenix-feather quill to sign your name-your true name-and then I will simply require a drop of blood next to your signature." He passed the book and the quill to Hadrian, who signed his name Hadrian Thomas Riddle without any hesitation, and then pricked his finger with the tip of the quill, letting the drop of blood land next to his signature before passing the quill and the book back to Griphook. The goblin waved his hand over the book and murmured something too soft for them to hear and Hadrian's signature glowed brightly for a moment before fading.

"Very good," Griphook said, "I will go fetch the requested volumes myself while you visit your vaults; if you step outside my office Thorokav will take you to your vaults and I will meet you in the lobby when you are done."

"Thank you for your help Griphook," Narcissa smiled down at the goblin as she stood, "Come along boys."

"Thank you Griphook," Hadrian echoed as he and Draco followed Narcissa out into the hall where another goblin was waiting to take them down to the vaults. The cart ride was uneventful as Narcissa took out money for herself and Draco, while Hadrian filled his own pouch with coins from the allowance vault Tom and Elena-his parents-had set up for him when he was a baby. By the time they reached the lobby Griphook was already waiting for them; he handed them a small steel box which he informed them held the volumes requested by Tom Riddle, and Narcissa shrank it to fit in her purse before thanking Griphook once again and leading the boys back out into Diagon Alley.

"Alright Draco," Narcissa turned to face them, "I am going to head to Paris now so that I can purchase Hadrian's wardrobe; would you like me to bring you back anything special?"

"No thank you Mother," Draco replied, "What time should we meet you at the restaurant?"

"Shall we say one o'clock?" Narcissa suggested, "That gives me plenty of time to finish shopping, and you boys will be able to explore for the next few hours. Just make sure you don't wander off alone; no one knows where Hadrian is, and we should keep it that way for the time being."

"We'll be safe Narcissa," Hadrian assured her, "We're just going to walk around a bit and I want to drop in on Fred and George Weasley-as long as the rest of their family isn't there."

"Yes, don't worry Mother," Draco smirked, "I will keep him out of trouble." He kissed her on the cheek, ignoring Hadrian's pout, "Have a good trip." Narcissa smiled brightly at both boys and bid them farewell before walking down to the apparition point. "Did you want to visit the twins first?" Draco asked Hadrian, and the brunet nodded.

"Yeah; even if they're busy right now we can at least set up a better time to go talk to them," he said, "They told me their shop is next to Flourish and Blott's." He allowed Draco to link their arms and they started off down the cobblestone streets together. As they walked, Hadrian remembered that Draco's birthday was the following day and wondered what he should buy the blond; he didn't really know what to get him, and how would he shop when they needed to stay together? Maybe he could get the twins to help him…

"This is impressive," Draco said as they came to a stop outside of the twins' shop; it was a three story building with a sign reading 'Weasley's Wizarding Wheeze's' in bright magenta letter's directly above the door. Some of the windows showcased items that the twins had invented, while others had signs such as the one reading; "Why Are You Worrying About You-Know-Who? You Should Be Worrying About U-No-Poo-The Constipation Sensation That's Gripping The Nation!"*

"Of course it's amazing," Hadrian smirked as he pushed open the door, pulling Draco in after him, "Why do you think I'm their financial backer and silent partner? I've always known Fred and George were brilliant."

"Why thank you, O Chosen One," one of the twins-wearing bright magenta robes that matched the sign outside-walked in and gave Harry an exaggerated bow, "You're not so bad yourself."

"Hi Fred," Hadrian grinned, "Where's George?" He craned his neck, looking around the store which was fairly crowded for being so early in the morning; he could see Lee Jordan and Angelina Johnson, wearing robes the same color as Fred's and helping customers at the register, and waved at both of them.

"He's in the back," Fred replied, before shouting over his shoulder, "Oi! George! You have a visitor! He's quite handsome too; if you don't hurry and get out here I just might steal him from you!"

"Shut it," Hadrian scowled, "Why do you always start in on me?"

"Because you're the only one who can tell us apart," George replied as he joined them, "It gets quite annoying. Now, who perma-stuck you to Malfoy there, and why does he look like he's about to hex me?" Hadrian looked up at Draco in surprise, but the blond quickly schooled his features to show nothing but bored indifference.

"Oh;" Hadrian blushed, unlinking their arms, "I know you guys kinda know each other, but Fred and George-this is Draco; Draco-Fred and George. Look, I know there has been a lot of bad history between your families, but things have changed; can we go somewhere private to talk?" The twins shared a look and then nodded.

"Sure; let me just tell Lee and Angelina to watch the shop for us," Fred said, "George can take you upstairs to our flat."

"You live above your shop?" Draco sneered as they followed George, "How...plebian. Ow!" He winced as Hadrian jabbed him in the ribs with his elbow.

"Be nice Draco," Hadrian glared at him, "Fred and George are my friends, and you have no reason to be an ass to them; we want their help, remember?" Draco scowled but nodded, mumbling;

"Sorry I insulted you Weasley," he was embarrassed at having to apologize-and to a Weasley, no less!-, but the bright smile Hadrian flashed at him made it worth it, "You know, you really do have a beautiful smile." He was rewarded by another blush, followed by a chuckle from George.

"Here we are," George informed them as they came to the top of the stairs; "This is our living room-which is pretty much just for when family comes to visit. Can Malfoy here be trusted?"

"Yes," Hadrian replied without hesitation, "I trust him completely." He paused thoughtfully for a moment, then added, "Not entirely sure why though; did you Confound me Draco? 'Cos you know, I don't think my new-found...Tom would appreciate that."

"Unless he's in on it," Draco said completely seriously, "With Sev's help anything is possible; you know that." He rolled his eyes when Hadrian looked at him suspiciously, "Please; if I had Confounded you, would I really have let Mother take us out in public where someone could foil my plans? That wouldn't be very bright of me, now would it Hades?"

"I suppose not," Hadrian replied grudgingly, before turning back to George, "So, yeah George; I trust Draco."

"Okay then," George nodded, "Follow me." He led them through a door at the back of the living room which led to a more intimate room with work tables along the back wall and a few comfortable chairs arranged in the middle, "This is our planning room; you two are the only ones aside from Fred and I to see it, so no telling people what we have in here." He shot a look at Draco, "I'm trusting you because Harry said you're trustworthy, but if he turns out to be wrong..." He trailed off meaningfully, before grinning again, "You two want something to drink?" He gestured for Draco and Hadrian to sit down, and didn't fail to notice the way Draco took the lead, pulling the brunet to sit next to him on the small couch, if the smirk he shot the blond was anything to go by.

"If by "something to drink" you mean water or another beverage that is not part of your joke products and will not cause any side-effects, then yes," Hadrian replied with a grin, causing George to pout.

"Oh, you're no fun Harry," he said as he brought out some Butterbeers for everyone, "So, I guess you're here to tell us what happened to you? Mum is right worried; said Dumbledore came by because he was looking for you after you went missing from the Muggles house."

"Yeah, a lot happened that I need to tell you and Fred about," Hadrian said, "I don't want to go over it more often than necessary though, so I'll wait for him to get up here."

"Aw, waiting for me? How sweet," Fred teased as he joined them, shutting the door and setting up some privacy charms before taking a seat next to his brother, "Okay, so you want to tell us what's going on Harry? And why you're suddenly friends with the mini-Malfoy? And why you look different."

"I'm taller than he is," Draco scowled as Hadrian laughed at him, "I think I liked Luna and Neville better; at least they didn't mock me. And he looks different because now he actually resembles his father."

"They're just teasing you Draco," Hadrian tried to soothe him, "They don't mean anything by it. Anyway, we don't have a lot of time, but there's a lot you guys need to know." He looked at the twins, who were serious for once as they waited for him to continue, "I guess I should start with what happened to make me leave the Muggles house." He sighed, not looking forward to having to tell the whole story again.

"Would you like me to tell them?" Draco offered, "I'm sure you're tired of repeating everything by now."

"Would you?" Hadrian smiled at him, "I'll start it off, if you could just pick up from when you found me." Draco nodded, and Hadrian smiled again in thanks before telling the twins what had happened with his relatives, starting with Dumbledore's visit; "And I couldn't change out of my form, but I was hungry so I jumped over the fence to catch some-what I thought were-turkey's-they turned out to be peacock's-and a house elf stopped me..."

"And that's when Tillie told me we had a trespasser," Draco picked up the story, "Imagine my surprise when I walked into the back garden to see a black tiger getting ready to pounce on Father's pet peacocks-and then I saw his eyes and the small mark on his forehead and realized it was Hadr-Harry, so I took him in the house..." Draco finished the story, pausing to glance at Hadrian every once in a while to make sure he wanted to share certain parts of the story, and ended with describing some of the more important memories.

"Wait, so you're saying Ginny isn't really our sister?" Fred demanded, "That's just-" He broke off, shaking his head in denial.

"Look, I know Mum is slightly mad, but no way would she agree to let Dumbledore kill someone, not even for a daughter!" George protested, "Harry-this must be some sort of Death Eater plot; how can you believe this?"

"Because I saw the memories myself," Hadrian replied quietly, "How do you think I felt? I spent the last sixteen years believing my parents were James and Lily Potter, killed by Lord Voldemort, only to find out that Voldemort was created by Dumbledore and is, in fact, my father. Not only that, but both of my parents are alive, and I have a twin sister out there somewhere, plus who-knows-how-many other family members that Dumbledore never told me about. He destroyed my childhood, messed with everyone's memories, and paid Muggle's to abuse me my whole life. Fred, George-I know this is hard to believe, but it's the truth, and I need you guys now more than ever. Also, I'm not Harry anymore-it's Hadrian Riddle, at least in private with people I trust."

"I-this is a lot to take in," George replied, "We need a minute to just process everything."

"Yeah, it's not that we don't trust you Har-er, Hadrian," Fred agreed, "but you had the advantage of actually seeing the memories-we haven't."

"I could arrange for you to see them," Draco said suddenly, "At least, I think I can, unless Mother and Father gave the house elves specific orders against removing the vials. Tillie!" There was a small pop, and then the house elf appeared, bowing.

"What can Tillie be doing for Young Master?" she asked.

"I need you to bring me the vial of memories that Hadrian and I viewed yesterday," Draco commanded, before looking at the twins, "Do you have a pensieve?"

"Yeah," George nodded, "I'll get it out." He went to a cabinet at the back of the room and pulled out a plain stone pensieve.

"Good," Draco said, "Just bring the memories Tillie, and don't tell my parents, Sev or Tom unless they specifically ask about it; then you can tell them we are showing the memories to someone that Hadrian trusts explicitly."

"Yes, Master Draco!" Tillie said excitedly, "Tillie is doing as you asks!" Tillie vanished, and reappeared a few seconds later with the vial of memories, "When Young Master is done call Tillie and Tillie will return memories." She bowed once again and left.

"Okay, here," Draco pulled the cork out of the vial and poured the memories into the pensieve, "Do you want us to leave while you're in the pensieve? It can take a while."

"That's okay," Fred said, "You guys are welcome to stay here; just don't mess with our inventions, because we will not be held responsible if you wind up with pink and purple striped hair."

"Or fairy wings," George added helpfully, "Definitely won't be held responsible if you grow fairy wings." Hadrian shook his head and gestured for the twins to enter the pensive; once they were in, Hadrian turned to Draco;

"Why don't you like the twins?" he asked, and Draco blinked in surprise, before replying.

"I don't...they were flirting with you," he scowled, "And making fun of me. You don't get mad at them for flirting!"

"They're just joking around," Hadrian laughed, "I promise they don't see me like that; they're like brothers to me. Besides, how many times do I have to tell you-"

"That you're not gay?" Draco interrupted, "Oh, until I believe you, which won't be happening anytime soon, not with the way you always cuddle up to me in my bed and try to catch a glimpse of me when I get out of the shower...not to mention you're always freaking out so that I can hold you and calm you down."

"What?!" Hadrian screeched, "That isn't-I don't-grrr! I really hate you Draco Malfoy!" He tried to get up off the couch, but Draco chuckled as he grabbed his arm and pulled him back down, wrapping an arm around Hadrian's waist and pulling him flush against his side.

"Now, don't be like that Hades," Draco chided, "We both know you like me, and I like you, so why not-"

"I don't like you!" Hadrian protested futilely, struggling in Draco's grip as he glared at the blond, "I just...I don't know what I feel." Hadrian lowered his eyes and bit his bottom lip, "I-I never thought I was gay, but then you and Luna...and Neville said...and I just don't know!" He let out an exasperated sigh and leaned his head back on the couch, finally giving up on trying to escape Draco's grasp.

"It can be confusing to figure out what you feel," Draco conceded, "and I know I should probably give you some space to think, but that's just not me; I can't do that. If you want to talk about it however, I would be more than happy to listen. What happened with Luna and Neville yesterday?"

"Promise you won't laugh or make fun of me?"

"I promise," Draco said, "So tell me Hades."

"I saw how close you and Luna were standing, and the way you were talking to her and making her laugh and I started to feel...I didn't like it," Hadrian said, "Neville noticed I was upset and thought I liked Luna-which I don't; she's...I don't know, just Luna, you know? Anyway, I told him I didn't like Luna and he thought that meant I liked you, and then we talked about how the Wizarding World is accepting of people who are gay, and I realized that I might be attracted to you. Then Neville played a trick on me." Hadrian scowled in remembrance.

"What sort of trick?" Draco inquired, and Hadrian replied hesitantly.

"After I admitted that I might need to consider whether or not I was gay," Hadrian began, "Neville looked over my shoulder and said that you and Luna were kissing, and...I guess it upset me. Of course, you two were just playing chess, and Neville was being a prat, so...yeah."

"Is it so horrible to consider the fact that you might be gay, and that you are attracted to me?" Draco inquired.

"Oh, so I might be gay, but I am attracted to you?" Hadrian arched an eyebrow.

"So you admit that you are attracted to me," Draco smirked, catching Hadrian's hand when the Gryffindor tried to knock him upside the head, "Why don't we perform our own test to see if you're interested in me, hmm?" He said teasingly as he pulled the smaller boy closer, "How about a kiss?"

"I-Draco!" Hadrian turned his head to the side, embarrassed, and Draco released Hadrian's hand so that he could cup Hadrian's face and make him face him.

"It's just a kiss Hades," he said softly, pulling his face closer.

"Oi! You're not doing that on our couch!" the shout made Hadrian break away from Draco, blushing as he saw the twins grinning at them, "Why Har-er, Hadrian-look at you; snagging yourself a Malfoy." Fred let out a wolf-whistle, and Hadrian buried his face in Draco's shoulder to hide his blush, not even consciously aware of what he was doing; he just knew that he felt safe when Draco wrapped his arms around his shoulders, one hand carding through the brunet's thick locks. It hadn't taken the twins long to view the memories, as they were able to use a spell to speed through many of them, since Hadrian and Draco had already told them what they contained; they were just verifying some of the information.

"So, do you believe us now?" Draco asked, hiding his annoyance at being interrupted-he had been so close to getting a real kiss from Hadrian, and then those meddlesome twins had interrupted them! He glared at said twins, and they grinned back unabashedly for a moment before turning serious.

"Yes Malfoy," George began;

"We believe you," Fred finished, "So now what-"

"Do we do?" George replaced the memories in the vial and tossed it to Draco, who placed it in his pocket, quite forgetting to call Tillie to take it back to the manor.

"Well, you know how our parents had the Order of the Black Rose?" Draco continued after the twins nodded, "They intend to start it up again, however they refuse to allow us to be part of it, so we decided to start our own group to fight against Dumbledore."

"Why do the adults always want to keep us out of it?" Fred shook his head.

"Yeah, the Order of the Phoenix is the same way," George agreed, "So do you two have a plan for how to set up this group?"

"We have some ideas," Hadrian said as he pulled away from Draco slightly-the blond wouldn't let him go too far however, and he didn't want to cause a big scene in front of the twins, so he let Draco keep an arm around his shoulders, "You two are brilliant with your inventions, so I thought that you could help us get the information that the adults want to keep from us, and we're going to get Neville and Luna in on it, but we haven't planned much beyond that."

"We have to set up ways to communicate," Draco added, "and figure out where we can meet, and how to set up the organization itself; decide who will handle what tasks-and decide exactly what we aim to accomplish. We have some people we want to approach, but it has to wait until we can get them alone long enough to share the memories-and we also have to find a way to guarantee their silence, even if they don't want to join us. Hadrian also needs to meet my friends so that we can decide together who might be trustworthy enough to include in the group." The twins nodded thoughtfully, thinking through what Draco had just said.

"We should have some sort of oath," Fred suggested, "a binding Wizard's Promise not to betray the organization, and maybe a tongue-tying hex for anyone who doesn't want to join."

"Hermione would be helpful with designing the oath," George added, "she's supposed to be coming by here with Ron later; why don't you stick around to show her the memories then? Ron has been a wanker this summer, but we can try to talk him around while you talk to Hermione."

"Tom said we should wait to tell Hermione until they have a chance to try and heal Bellatrix," Hadrian said, "but...we could really use her help."

"I say we do it," Draco said, "What are they going to do-hex us? Tom isn't evil anymore, remember? The worst that will happen is they'll take away our brooms for a week or so."

"What time are they supposed to drop by?" Hadrian asked the twins.

"About two," George replied, and Hadrian shook his head.

"That won't work," he informed them, "We have to meet Narcissa for lunch at one, and then I'm sure we'll be going back to the manor. Is Hermione staying at the Burrow?"

"Yeah," Fred nodded, "Just got there last night after Dumbledore visited her parents; she'll be staying the summer."

"Okay, we need a way to communicate, and then we can set up a meeting with her," Hadrian said, "What about-what about Ginny? No matter how it came to happen she's still your sister, and we won't show her the memories yet unless you agree, but Tom wants me to show her after we get back to school."

"We'll have to think about it," George said, "She deserves the truth, but it's going to be difficult for her." Fred nodded his agreement.

"You can probably talk to her and Hermione at the same time, but we need to make sure they can get away from Mum for a bit first," Fred said.

"I'm sure they'll both be upset, and Mum might get the truth out of them, which wouldn't be good for anyone," George added, and Hadrian nodded.

"What about Lovegood?" Draco asked, "Doesn't she live near your parents?"

"Just on the other side of the hill," Fred confirmed.

"Have Luna invite them over for a weekend," Draco suggested, "From what I understand she pretty much does as she pleases, so they can Floo to Neville's from there, and we can meet them; we just need to convince our parents to talk to Neville's grandmother first so she won't object to the meeting."

"That's brilliant!" Hadrian beamed, spontaneously hugging the Slytherin, whose cheeks were tinged a slight pink, "Now we just need to figure out the best time-and a way to talk to each other when we're apart."

"Actually, I think we have the solution for communicating," George said slowly, "Fred and I have been working on these joke parchments; they're supposed to insult you when you write on them, but they somehow wound up linked so that if you write on one parchment the message appears on the other. We only have a handful of parchments ready at the moment and we need to figure out how to replicate the effect, but if you two share one, Fred and I can share one, and then you can give one to either Neville or Luna until we make more."

"I always knew you guys were smart," Hadrian grinned, "It's a shock you didn't get better grades in school."

"School was boring," Fred sniffed, "Too tame; not enough excitement for us mate. The parchments are in the top drawer of my desk," he told George, who went to fetch them, along with some quills and ink; "Speaking of mates-are you two dating now?"

"No!" Hadrian cried, feeling his cheeks heat once again.

"Not yet," Draco corrected, "I am in the process of convincing Hadrian that he wants me. It was starting to work too, until you decided to interrupt us." He glared at the twins again, as he recalled his earlier frustration.

"Don't blame them Dray," Hadrian said, "I told you I'm not that easy to convince. So hey; do one of you guys want to come shopping with me really quick?"

"What about me?" Draco pouted, "You can't be planning to leave me here!" Hadrian couldn't possibly be suggesting Draco remain there with one of the twins!

"I am if you want a birthday present," Hadrian retorted, and Draco perked up.

"Oh; well, that's different then," he said, "What are you getting me?"

"Like I would tell you," Hadrian laughed, "Besides-I don't know yet; you can stay here and plan some more while I shop with-who's coming with me?"

"I'll go," George offered, "You want a disguise? We have some polyjuice potion so you can be Fred."

"Um, I'll pass thanks," Hadrian said, "Not a big fan of polyjuice potion. I can wear my cloak though, if you think I should."

"Nah, it's no big deal," George waved his hand dismissively; "I mean, it's not like Voldie is still after you, right?" He turned to his brother, "You need anything while we're out?"

"Nope; I'm good," Fred replied.

"Just don't be too long," Draco told Hadrian, "I still want to wander around a bit before we have to meet Mother."

"I'll try to be fast," Hadrian replied, "I'll come back within the hour regardless, and then we'll still have an hour or so to wander around." He stood up and followed George out the door, leaving Draco and Fred alone in the twins living quarters.

 

 

Chapter Text

"So, any idea what you want to get your boyfriend?" George teased, chuckling at Hadrian's glare.

"He's not my boyfriend," Hadrian replied, "He's just a friend. And I really don't know what to get him. Not a book; I refuse to give books as birthday gifts to anyone except Hermione. Maybe something for Quidditch? Or he likes potions..." Hadrian trailed off thoughtfully as the two boys walked down Diagon Alley together, looking in shop windows but never actually going inside.

"How about jewelry?" George suggested, "Purebloods like to show off their status and wealth; many of them will wear a nice chain or even a bracelet. Let's look in that trinket store."

"Might as well," Hadrian shrugged, "I haven't had any better ideas." He followed George into the store and they looked around at the crowded shelves; there was a little bit of everything in there-jewelry, wand holsters, canes, daggers, knick-knacks. Hadrian examined a silver band with a dragon on it, but decided it would give Draco the wrong idea-he had just accepted that he may be attracted to the Slytherin, but a ring seemed to indicate commitment of a sort Hadrian was certain he wasn't ready for-and set it back down. Towards the back of the store, however, he found something he thought Draco would like.

"Hey; George!" He called, "Come look at this and tell me what you think!" A few moments later George appeared, looking over Hadrian's shoulder at the items on the shelf; "It's a whole collection of dragon figurines, and they actually move and breathe fire and everything!" Hadrian was bouncing in his excitement, making George smile, "Do you think they'd be a good gift for Draco? Or are they too childish?"

"I think you should get them," George said, "His name does mean dragon after all." He picked up the miniature Greenland Ice Dragon, which appeared to be made of blue crystal, and chuckled as it blew tiny icicles at him, before catching sight of a strange symbol on the wing. "Definitely buy these;" he told Harry, "If the price is reasonable I'd tell you to buy the whole set. If nothing else, I'm sure Draco will be amused by the dragons."

"Okay," Hadrian agreed happily, picking up a nearby basket and carefully setting all twenty dragons inside, "did you want to look at anything else in here?"

"Nah," George said, "We need to start heading back to the shop anyway. Excuse me sir;" George caught the shopkeeper's attention, "How much for these dragon trinkets?"

"Hmm, let me see," the salesperson replied, "One galleon a piece, so twenty for the set."

"He's buying all twenty; I think that deserves a discount-twelve galleons," George countered.

"I'll do it for seventeen."

"Fifteen."

"Very well," the sales person sighed, "Fifteen galleons it is." Hadrian shook his head and paid for the dragons, and they waited a moment while they were wrapped and packaged safely in a charmed container.

"Thank you!" Hadrian called out as he followed George back into the alley, "You don't think fifteen was a lot to pay for some trinkets?" He asked his friend.

"Oh, Harry; those aren't mere trinkets," George replied, a twinkle in his eyes, "I happened to see a certain symbol on the wing of the dragon I was looking at-those dragons were crafted by Isabella Slytherin, Salazar's only child; she was well known for making exquisite items that even the Muggle royalty purchased. We got those items for a steal. Don't feel bad," he continued quickly, grabbing Hadrian's arm as the younger boy started to turn back, "If he didn't know the worth of the dragons then he wasn't doing his job and has no business owning such a store. So, ready to head back now?"

"Yeah; I'm happy with Draco's present," Hadrian grinned, "I'm sure he'll love..." Hadrian trailed off as they came to the Magical Menagerie and he came to a stop; "I want to look in here really quick; come on." He walked into the dim shop, George following close behind.

"What are you looking for?" George asked, and Hadrian shrugged.

"I'm not sure, I just got this feeling as we were passing by," Hadrian replied, heading for the back of the store without really looking at the animals they passed, "It's like something was calling me...there!" He slowly approached a medium-sized cage at the back of the store, staring at the creature in awe; "Did you know-?"

"I had no idea," George replied, equally awe-struck, "A miniature French Sentinel; the full-size dragon is very protective of his-well, we call it an owner, but you can never truly own a dragon. They choose a witch or wizard to bond with though, which is why French Sentinels are the only full-size dragons that it is legal to own, for lack of a better word. Miniature dragons are a different story-it's legal to own any type of miniature dragon as long as it is purchased from a licensed pet shop or breeder-but they are also very rare. "

Hadrian nodded, and took a few steps closer so that he could get a better look. The dragon was about the size of a kitten, with pale blue opalescent scales, dark blue eyes, translucent wings the same color as the dragon's scales, and a blue gemstone on its forehead. The dragon's body was about ten inches in length, and the tail was half-again the length of its body, making it around fifteen inches long from nose to tail.

"I want it," Hadrian said, "This dragon is beautiful," he laughed as the dragon sat up, preening, "and has Draco's personality. I don't care how much it costs; I'll get some more money from Tom if I have to."

"I don't blame you," George said, "I'll go get the shop owner."

Ten minutes later they left the shop; Hadrian had decided to have the dragon delivered early the next morning so that Draco wouldn't see the dragon before-hand-it had cost him an unbelievable amount of money to purchase the miniature French Sentinel (578,942 Galleons for the dragon, plus another 2,852 for its habitat and two months' worth of food (as the dragon was still young, it currently consumed a blood-and-brandy mixture, and this would save Draco from having the House Elves' mix it up for the dragonling)-but they had waived the delivery fee), but he felt that it was well worth it; he just hoped Tom agreed when he found out. Hadrian frowned as he followed George back to the joke shop; he'd hate to get in trouble with his father so soon after finding him.

Meanwhile, back at the shop...

"So, you like Hadrian, eh Malfoy?" Fred inquired once the door had shut, "For how long?"

"I'm not sure," Draco replied thoughtfully, "I haven't hated him for a while now; I just realized I had feelings for him yesterday, but I've always been...drawn to Hadrian." He eyed the redhead warily, "Is this where you give me the 'hurt him and I'll torture you into madness' talk?"

"Well, it was," Fred mock-pouted, "Only you kinda ruined it by expecting it. Seriously though-hurt him and I will make Dumbledore look like an angel; you have no idea what some of this stuff George and I invented does."

"Duly noted," Draco said, ", perhaps you can help me out. We told you about that collar Hadrian is wearing; I want to find something that has similar protection charms on it without the whole having-to-obey me thing. There are other ways to get him to do what I want that would be much more enjoyable." He and Fred shared a knowing look, smirking, and then the red-head turned thoughtful.

"I may be able to come up with something," he said, "George and I have been working on a line of adult novelty products, and inadvertently created some collars, chokers, wrist cuffs and other accessories that can be used as defensive items; once we have a few more prototypes ready we plan to show them to Moody-he already bought a line of hex-repelling cloaks from us. I'm sure the charms on one of them should fit your requirements. Come over here with me." Draco followed him over to one of the work tables and watched as Fred pulled out a small metal box; after cancelling the locking charms he removed a black velvet bag from the box, and out of that he pulled a selection of collars, chokers and other jewelry. "Do you see anything you like?"

"You have some very high-quality items," Draco mused as he looked through the assortment, "How did you manage to acquire them?" He picked up a choker that had a small silver dragon charm hanging from it and examined it closely; it was made of dark green leather set with numerous black opals, and the dragon had moonstones set as eyes. Glancing back down, he noticed more accessories that matched the choker.

"George is very good at haggling," Fred replied, as he watched Draco turn the dragon pieces over in his hands, "I thought you might like those; the choker has charms built into it to repel minor hexes, and the opals and moonstones can actually store magic. You can set it up to release a spell with just one word; we wrote down some instructions on how to use it. Also, the dragon pendant works as a portkey-you can set it to be activated with a certain word and it will take the wearer to a pre-designated place-also, we tweaked it a bit so that if the wearer is in danger and unable to speak the word the portkey will activate automatically and take them to the closest safe place. If Har-I mean, Hadrian, doesn't like the choker design we can put the pendant on a leather cord instead, and we have a few loose gemstones we can thread with it to hold some extra spells. The cuffs just have a basic shield charm and locator spell on them, but we can add more protections if needed." Fred spent several minutes showing Draco the rest of the pieces and explaining the different protections on them, but the blond had already made up his mind.

"I want the dragon set, including the leather cord and the extra stones," Draco stated, once Fred was finished showing the other pieces, "How much?"

"Oh no;" Fred shook his head; "George and I agreed never to charge Harry-er, Hadrian for anything, since we wouldn't have this shop right now without him; take it."

"Absolutely not," Draco refused, "This may be for Hadrian, however I am giving it to him therefore I shall pay for it. So, how much?"

"Two galleons," Fred replied.

"Fifteen," Draco countered, and Fred grinned.

"Three." They bartered back and forth for a few minutes, before agreeing on a price of seven galleons.

"Now, the collar Hadrian is currently wearing allows him to assume his animagus form even though he hasn't learned how to do it himself yet," Draco said, "Is there any way you could replicate that enchantment on one of these items?"

"I'd have to examine the collar," Fred mused, "but I'm pretty sure George and I can do it; it may take us a bit of time though."

"Of course," Draco nodded, "Hopefully Hadrian will trust me more once I remove the collar."

"Why don't you remove it now?" Fred questioned.

"Because I'm afraid something bad will happen and I won't be there to protect him," Draco replied. He was silent for a moment, internally debating something, before asking, "Fred-can I trust you with a secret?" Draco wasn't sure why, but he trusted the red-haired twins; maybe it was because he could see how deeply they cared for Hadrian, as if the brunet was a younger brother. Regardless, he decided that he would divulge his secret. "I know you'll tell George, and Hadrian will find out soon any way, but I would like to keep what I am about to tell you a secret from others for the time being."

"As long as it's not something that will harm Hadrian I'd be glad to keep your secret," Fred replied.

"Well, as you know many of the older wizarding families have "creature" blood in them," Draco began, "It seems there is Veela blood in both sides of my family, although it is more diluted in the Black family, and Severus and I think that the Veela traits may become dominant in me on my sixteenth birthday-which is tomorrow."

"Veela traits," Fred repeated frowning, "Such as...?"

"Having a mate," Draco all but whispered, looking down for a moment before meeting Fred's gaze, "I-we believe that Hadrian is my mate; ever since I found him so badly beaten in our gardens I have felt like I need to protect him, and I have felt irrational surges of jealousy. I suppose I have liked Hadrian for some time now, although I only noticed it recently, but he seems to be dead-set against giving me a chance; he won't even kiss me." Draco pouted and then glared at Fred; "I almost got a kiss from him, but then you and your obnoxious brother had to ruin it."

"And embarrass Hadrian," Fred added, "Don't forget that part-and, when we embarrassed him, he turned to you for comfort, remember?"

"Hmm, that's true," Draco said slowly, before smirking, his brief moment of self-pity over, "I knew he couldn't resist me, not really. So, you think you'll have that set fixed up within a week or two?"

"Yeah; shouldn't be a problem," Fred replied just as the door opened, revealing Hadrian and George, the former of which was carrying a small package and smiling in a very self-satisfied sort of way.

"We're back," George announced needlessly, "Did you boys have fun while we were gone? Not snogging on the couch, were you?"

"Of course not," Draco scoffed, "like I would consent to snog a Weasley-your red hair and freckles would clash terribly with my own more aristocratic features."

"Right-o mate," Fred agreed, "Besides, the stick up your ass leaves very little room for a-"

"I do not want to hear about what Draco has up his ass," George interrupted, "Nor do I want to know what you would like to put up his ass."

"I agree," Hadrian said, blushing, "Besides, Draco and I should be going; we only have about an hour or so to explore and then we have to meet up with Narcissa for lunch."

"Ah, poor little Hadrian can't handle the adult talk," Fred teased as he put away the collars and chokers before Hadrian could get a good look at them, "I guess that means he won't be interested in backing our line of adult products."

"What adult products?" Hadrian asked curiously, instantly regretting it when he saw the mischievous look on the twins faces.

"We'll send you a brochure once we get it finished," George promised (threatened?), "We just need someone to print it out for us...we should ask Luna."

"Hmm, that we should," Fred agreed, "Hadrian, can I look at that collar your wearing?"

"Um, sure," Hadrian shrugged, allowing Fred to cast a couple of detection spells, "What are you doing?"

"I'm just curious about how the animagus feature on this thing works," Fred replied, "I told Draco that George and I are creating items for the Auror department, and I think something like this could be useful." He stepped away from Hadrian and handed a sheet of parchment, two quills, and some ink to Draco; "These are the two-way parchments we mentioned earlier; we'll pass one of the other sheets along to Luna or Neville, whomever we see first."

"Thank you," Draco said, moving over to stand by Hadrian, "I wanted to go look at Quality Quidditch; you ready to go Hades?"

"Yeah," Hadrian nodded, "Thanks for everything guys; we'll talk to you again in a few days." Draco nodded and George walked them out while Fred went to check on Lee and Angelina.

"Alright Draco-you take care of our littlest brother," George said, "See you guys soon." Hadrian waved as Draco linked their arms once again and they wandered off down the cobblestone lane.

The two boys wandered around Diagon Alley for the next hour, although they spent most of their time in Quality Quidditch looking at the new racing brooms; the Firebolt Company had a new broom that was set to come out for Christmas-the Firebolt Lightning.

"Named after you," Draco joked, "Since you were probably the first person not on a national Quidditch team to actually fly one."

"Shut it you," Hadrian returned, sticking his tongue out at his friend, "This thing looks awesome; I can't even imagine how much it's going to cost when it finally comes out."

"It's not like you need one," Draco pointed out, "Your Firebolt is still basically brand-new. Come on; I need to pick up some potions supplies." He pulled a protesting Hadrian out of the Quidditch shop and down to the apothecary, and from there they went to Eyelops to get some owl treats, before-at Draco's insistence-stopping by Ollivander's to get Hadrian his own customized wand holster.

By the time they finished at Ollivander's it was time to meet Narcissa for lunch; the Bella Notte Café turned out to be a small Italian restaurant down a side alley and far away from the normal hustle and bustle of Diagon Alley. After lunch Narcissa said she needed to confirm the plans for Draco's party the following day, so she went to Celeste's Event Boutique while Hadrian and Draco sat down outside Florean Fortescue's enjoying some ice cream cones. Draco was telling Hadrian what he could expect at Draco's birthday party the following day when a familiar voice made Hadrian freeze.

"Harry! What the hell are you doing with the ferret?" Hadrian looked up with wide eyes to see Ron, Ginny and Hermione standing just a few feet away, "Get away from him, Death Eater!"

"Shut it Ron," Hadrian scowled, "Draco and I are friends now, which is more than I can say about you; didn't you get my letter?"

"We got the letter," Hermione said, "and it was very hurtful; how could you say such things to us Harry? We've been your best friends since first year, and for you to just accuse us of using you...and then you turned to Malfoy for help?! And what happened to your glasses?"

"Just stop it already," Hadrian stood up, glaring at the two people he had once considered to be his best friends, "I know. I overheard Dumbledore talking to my relative's, and then the way you two have been acting-telling me I was making things up and that the Muggles only wanted what's best for me-I know you were only using me, just like I know Dumbledore has been paying the Muggles to mistreat me. I didn't go to Draco on purpose-I found him when I was trying to get somewhere safe, and he took care of me."

"How can you accuse us of using you?" Ginny demanded, looking hurt, "He's a Death Eater Harry! He's only pretending to help you so that he can turn you over to Voldemort! Even if Dumbledore was doing as you said, you still should have come to us for help; why don't you trust us Harry?" Hadrian focused on Ginny, ignoring the other two for a moment, and saw hurt in her brown eyes.

"Look, I'm sorry Ginny," he said, "It's just that with what I overheard Dumbledore saying I couldn't risk trusting your family because I know that they have always supported him. And as for Draco-I didn't go looking for him; I stumbled across his property by mistake and when he found me I asked for Sanctuary, which he granted. That's why I am staying at his manor until I figure everything out; it's the safest place for me since the Malfoy's and any of their guests-including Voldemort-are unable to hurt me. Draco didn't have to grant me Sanctuary, but he did, and he helped heal the injuries the Muggles gave me, so I decided to give him a little bit of trust."

"That's bullshit!" Ron yelled, taking a menacing step towards Draco, who had wisely decided to stay out of the argument, "He's a no-good lying piece of shit snake! How can you trust him! How can you choose him over me? After everything I've done for you Harry; everything I've had to put up with!"

"Ron," Hermione began, sounding tense, "I don't think-"

"Everything you've had to put up with?!" Hadrian cried in disbelief, "You never put up with anything! Any time I really needed you, you abandoned me unless it was something that could get you recognition! In fourth year you even accused me of cheating to get in the Tri-wizard tournament and refused to talk to me! I heard you last year complaining to Dumbledore about how insufferable I am and how you hated pretending to be friends with me-well, guess what? You don't have to worry about that anymore! Oh, and you know how you beat out McLaggen for the Keeper position? You only did better than him-"

"Harry! No!" Hermione cried, trying to stop him from saying what she knew would be coming next, but Hadrian was too worked up.

"-because Hermione confounded him!" Hadrian continued, ignoring Hermione's pleas, "You're as worthless at Quidditch as you are everything else! You are a sorry excuse for-" Hadrian's tirade was interrupted when Ron, whose face had been growing steadily redder, suddenly leapt at Hadrian, flipping his chair over and knocking him to the ground. The irate redhead then slammed his fist into the other boys face, and Hadrian retaliated with a fist to the stomach, managing to throw Ron off of him. Ron immediately attacked again however, and the two boys grappled on the cobblestones in front of Fortescue's, landing blows whenever the opportunity arose.

"Hadrian!" Draco cried jumping to his feet only to be pushed out of the way by Hermione, who stood above the two brawling boys, anxiously reprimanding them and begging them to stop. When he tried to get up again, Draco found that he had been stuck to the chair, and saw a satisfied smirk on Ginny's face before she turned her attention back to the fight; she must have used one of the twin's products, which meant he was more than likely stuck until it wore off-or until the counter was given. "Hadrian!" He cried again, straining his neck so that he could watch the brunet and red-head fight on the ground; he watched as Ron gained the upper-hand, slamming Harry’s head into the ground before straddling his chest, using his knees to pin the other boys arms at his side so he could throw punches at Hadrian's face. Draco continued to struggle to get out of the chair-he needed to help Hadrian! It was his job to protect him, and here he was, uselessly stuck to a chair. "Granger!" The bushy-haired Gryffindor looked at him with wild eyes; "He needs help; Ron is going to send him to the hospital. I know you don't like me, but I did promise Had-erm, Harry Sanctuary, and I am bound to help him. The girl Weasley stuck me to the chair; release me so I can stop this fight!"

"Do you promise not to attack Ron?" Hermione asked anxiously, "Because I can't let you attack him, not even to save Harry." Draco snarled silently at the idiotic Gryffindor, but managed to maintain control of his facial expressions so all he showed was concern.

"I just want to pull him off Harry," Draco assured her, "I won't attack him unless he attacks me first." Or, until he made sure Hadrian was safe, whichever happened first.

"Fine," Hermione nodded, "Ginny! Give me the counter to the twin's sticky potion. Now!" She glared when the younger girl hesitated, and Ginny hurried to obey, glaring at Draco the whole time. Moments later Draco was free, and he sprang up to rip the other two boys apart, only to see Hadrian finally break free, knocking Ron back and jumping on him; now it was Hadrian's turn to beat Ron. "Malfoy! I thought you were going to stop them!" Hermione pleaded, looking at Draco with wide brown eyes.

"That was when the weasel had the upper-hand," Draco replied nonchalantly, "I feel that Harry is entitled to a little revenge before I interfere. Knock his head off!" He encouraged the brunet, smirking as he saw Ron struggling to get away; the red-head was taller and had a wider build than Hadrian, but the smaller boy was somehow holding Ron down-Draco suspected that his magic had leapt up and enabled him to protect himself. When he saw Ron knock Hadrian off of him again, Draco decided it was time to interfere and he immediately pulled Hadrian to his feet and stood in front of him protectively.

"This is all your fault Malfoy!" Ron screamed, leaping to his feet; Draco noticed that redhead looked quite insane, his eyes were wild, his face was bloody, and he was shaking in anger, "You took Harry from me, and I'm going to kick your fucking ass!" He leapt forward and grabbed Draco's shirt, only to be hit by a red stunner.

"Well, hullo there Ronniekins," Fred-or was it George? Draco wasn't sure-said cheerfully, although he noticed the twin had his eyes narrowed at his younger brother, "Attacking classmates in the street now are you? Mum will not be pleased. Malfoy; is he alright?" Draco looked over his shoulder at Hadrian, whose face was also bloody and bruised; the worst injuries appeared to be a black eye, a busted lip, and possibly a broken nose, which led Draco to believe Hadrian's magic had protected him from the worst of the blows.

"I believe so," Draco replied, "Mother should be able to fix him right up; how did you know to show up?"

"Are you kidding?" Fred-Draco was almost positive that's who it was-raised his eyebrow, "Have you even noticed the crowd you've drawn?" For the first time Draco looked around and noticed that everyone in Diagon Alley had stopped to watch the fight, "Luckily for you Colin Creevey was here with his parents and he told us what was going on; George is keeping an eye on the store. You sure you're okay mate?" He looked at Hadrian, who nodded but didn't reply, "Okay, but owl me later; for now, I need to get Ronniekins up to the store so we can wait for Mum. Hermione and Ginny-you'd better come with us as well."

"Harry?" Hermione said softly, "I-I'm sorry I didn't try to stop Ron, or let Malfoy help you sooner. I was just really upset at the things you said and..." she trailed off when Hadrian turned his head away, and noticed with surprise how Draco immediately wrapped an arm around her friend's waist to comfort and support him. "I hope you can forgive me. Come on Ginny." She gave Hadrian one last saddened look before grabbing Ginny by the arm and leading her after Fred and Ron. For her part, Ginny had a confused look on her face, and she kept her head turned to watch Hadrian and Draco until she couldn't see them anymore.

"Come on Hades," Draco said softly, directing Hadrian to sit in a chair, "Sit here and rest until Mother returns. Are you truly okay?" Hadrian nodded, shook his head, and then shrugged, tilting his head to the side so that Draco could see the bruises on his neck for the first time. "He was strangling you?" Draco demanded in outrage, gently touching the bruises, "I should have knocked that little prick's head off. You can't talk?"

"Hurts," Hadrian replied in a hoarse voice, and Draco quickly shushed him, not wanting his friend to injure himself further. Draco trailed his fingers up from where they had been tracing the bruises and gently caressed Hadrian's cheek, although the last thing he wanted right now was to be gentle; what he really wanted to do was go after Weasley and hex him until he couldn't stand.

"Oh, Hades; I'm sorry I wasn't able to protect you; the Weaslette used one of the twins' products to stick me to my chair and I had to wait for Granger to release me. Don't worry though; I promise he will pay for hurting you like this. We should go find Mother so that she can heal you." Before Hadrian could stand, they were faced with another unwelcome interruption.

"Ah, Harry my boy!" both boys looked up to see Dumbledore approaching their table, wearing blinding neon-green robes with pink stars, "What happened to you? Did you and Mr. Malfoy get into another altercation? I am very disappointed in you both, and I can guarantee you will each have detention when school starts, however for now we must get you to the hospital Harry, and then return you to your relative's home where you will be safe once more. Mr. Malfoy, I suggest that you return home as well; it is dangerous to be out alone in times like these."

"That is out of the question," Draco had been prepared to offer an angry reply, but his mother's cold voice stopped him, and he turned back to comforting Hadrian, secure in the knowledge that his mother would handle everything.

"Harry came to us as a result of his relative's abuse, and we promised him sanctuary, therefore he shall be returning home with us where I can assure you he will receive the best medical care," Narcissa informed the headmaster, "Now, as for punishing the boys when school is back in session, you do not have the authority to punish students for events that occur during the summer holidays and-as I have assumed my husband's seat on the school board-I will make sure that they do not receive unjust punishment."

"Well, perhaps I was a bit hasty with the punishment," Dumbledore began, his eyes twinkling as usual, "However Harry must return to his relative's home; they are his rightful guardians and-"

"He does not feel safe there, and he has asked our family for Sanctuary, which we granted," Narcissa interrupted coolly, "The laws of Sanctuary are protected by Magic itself, and not even you can interfere. Now, if you will excuse us Headmaster, Harry needs to see a healer, and I must make sure this attack is properly reported. Come along boys-we shall use my emergency port-key to return home. Draco, hold onto Harry and make sure he doesn't lose his balance when we land." Draco nodded his consent and helped Hadrian to his feet, keeping an arm around the other boy's waist as his mother took out the port-key, which was a small pewter replica of the Malfoy crest. Once both boys were touching the crest Narcissa said the activation phrase-"Prosapia Primoris"-and they were gone, leaving an angry Dumbledore behind.

Chapter Text

While Hadrian, Draco and Narcissa were at Diagon Alley, Lucius took the Floo over to Riddle Manor where Severus was working on the potion to restore Tom's sanity. When he got there, however, Lucius discovered that Severus was busy working on a potion and  did not wish for any company, so Lucius sought out Tom instead. His former master, and newly re-discovered friend, was happy for the company and the two sat down to enjoy a game of chess with Nagini curled comfortably at the base of Tom's chair.

"How are you feeling today Tom?" Lucius inquired as he moved a pawn.

"I am doing well," Tom replied, moving his own pawn forward, "I took some more of the temporary potion with breakfast; it only lasts four hours at a time, however Severus believes he will have a longer-lasting version of the potion ready before my current dose runs out. He said that this new batch will last a full twenty-four hours, so you won't have to worry about me suddenly reverting to my old self in the middle of a conversation."

"That is good news," Lucius smiled as he studied the board, "Has he said anything about how long it will take to find a permanent cure?"

"Severus said that we first need to locate the Horcruxes so that my soul can be reunited," Tom said, "After Draco's birthday we are going to begin gathering them."

"Have you spoken yet with Bellatrix regarding Draco's celebration?"

"Yes," Tom nodded, "I advised her that "Potter" is currently under our protection because Dumbledore betrayed him and we are working to turn him to our side; I ordered her to cause him no harm, and she has agreed."

"Excellent," Lucius said, "That is one less thing to worry about." He paused for a moment, before casually asking, "So, you are feeling completely sane at the moment?"

"Yes," Tom replied, raising an eyebrow, "Why? Do you have bad news for me? Nothing happened to Hadrian, did it?" He narrowed his eyes at his old friend, only relaxing when Lucius shook his head.

"No," Lucius replied, "Everything is fine with Hadrian, however I needed to tell you something about Draco which will likely affect Hadrian. As you know, the Malfoy's have Veela blood in our family tree," he paused while Tom nodded, "however we have not had dominant Veela traits in many generations. Narcissa also has Veela ancestors, which is how we found each other; even though neither of us had a destined mate as some Veela do, our Veela blood led us to the one person that would best compliment us. Draco is a half-Veela and he has begun showing signs that he will come into his inheritance on his birthday, at midnight tonight."

"As a half-Veela your son will have a mate," Tom said, and Lucius nodded, "I assume you are telling me this because you believe that Hadrian is destined to be Draco's mate."

"Yes," Lucius nodded, "The way he has been so protective of Hadrian and is in constant contact with him shows that they have a deep connection, which likely means they are mates."

"Have you told Hadrian yet?"

"No," Lucius replied, "Narcissa and I thought we would wait until you could join us; we would like to give him time to get used to the news, so I was thinking we could talk to the boys during tea this afternoon."

"That would be fine," Tom agreed, "What will happen when Draco reaches his inheritance? Will Hadrian be in any danger? If so, I can bring him here."

"He won't be in any danger," Lucius began, "However Draco will want him close by otherwise he will be in great distress. Most Veela do not find their mate until after both have turned sixteen, however in the few cases where they find and recognize each other early, they needed to be together to prevent mental anguish for the Veela. I am not sure exactly what will happen however, as each relationship between a Veela and their mate is different. The only thing I know for certain is that Draco will require Hadrian to be near him, and he will be possessive. The need will diminish after a time, but the amount of time is also different for each couple."

"So my son is going to be the mate of a possessive Veela," Tom sighed, "and not only a possessive Veela, but a Malfoy as well." He shook his head, "Poor Hadrian. Speaking of which, I have come up with a solution to the matter of Hadrian's guardian; since Dumbledore believes he has claimed Sanctuary from your family, Narcissa will petition the ministry for custody of Hadrian." He paused, then admitted, "Actually, I wanted to torture the Muggles until they agreed to sign over custody to Narcissa before granting them a slow and painful death, however Severus said this may not be the best idea."

"Going through the ministry would be the better option," Lucius agreed, fighting back a smile at his friends petulant tone, "however I agree that the Muggles deserve to be punished; we will merely have to plan out our revenge very carefully so as to avoid attracting suspicion. As for Narcissa becoming Hadrian's guardian, I think that would be the ideal way to handle this; if Hadrian does turn out to be Draco's mate then she will have even more grounds to file for custody, as it is tradition for a Veela's mate to live with the Veela's family if their own family is unable to take care of them. We can tell Narcissa this evening, and she can go to the ministry after Draco's birthday."

"Excellent," Tom agreed, smirking as he moved a pawn forward, "Checkmate. Now, Severus left me the books that were written by Mathias Gryffindor and his wife, and I was thinking it would be more convenient for everyone involved if we were to translate it into English; are you willing to assist me?"

"Of course," Lucius agreed, before scowling at the chessboard-his men were yelling obscenities at him for losing; "I can't believe you can still beat me at chess." He shook his head, "Do you want to translate it into English verbally while I transcribe it?"

"Yes," Tom said, "I know Severus also asked Hadrian for help, so I thought we would translate the diary with the specific information on rituals, and Hadrian can work on the potions diary, perhaps with assistance from Draco. Here;" he handed Lucius a silver notebook that was embossed with a black rose; "This notebook is charmed so that only you, I, Severus and Narcissa can read it." Lucius nodded and opened the notebook, waiting for Tom to begin; the two men spent their time until lunch translating the book and then they met Severus in the parlor so that they could return to Malfoy Manor for lunch.

"Here," Severus held out a vial of green potion as they sat down to lunch, "This is the new potion I developed which you should only have to take once a day; it lasts for twenty-four hours, however there is no harm in taking one dose now and the next when you wake in the morning."

"Thank you Severus," Tom said as he drank the potion, making a face at the after-taste, "It helps that we won't have to worry about this any longer. How much do you have prepared?"

"I have two months' worth," Severus replied, "I would recommend leaving half of the bottles here so that you will always have access to the potion; I also made a copy of the instructions which I would like to leave in your potions lab Luca."

"That is acceptable," Lucius agreed, "You can leave the extra potions in my study. So, do you feel we should focus exclusively on locating the Horcruxes, or should we also start breaking the memory charms? There are some people, such as Augusta Longbottom, who I feel would be very helpful with our cause."

"We should focus mainly on the Horcruxes," Tom said, "but slowly work on showing people the memories as well; I want to have as many people on our side as possible by the time I am healed so that we can focus our attention on Dumbledore. Augusta would be an ideal person to start with, however how shall we get her to view the memories?"

"Easy; we get Lupin to speak to her," Severus said, "Remus Lupin cares deeply for Hadrian and he will be willing to view the memories if the boy asks it of him; once he sees the truth he will be very loyal to us. Lupin is a werewolf and-even though his memories are false-he long ago decided Hadrian was a member of his pack and he will do anything to protect him."

"I assume you know how to contact him," Lucius stated, and Severus nodded.

"I will tell Dumbledore that Hadrian-that is, Harry-is asking to see Lupin," Severus said, "and guarantee him safe passage to the manor. It is unfortunate that we cannot to get him here today, before Draco's inheritance comes into effect; I rather think the werewolf and Veela may have some issues with one another."

"That's true," Lucius mused, "Draco will be highly possessive of Hadrian for some time after he comes into his inheritance, which will make it difficult for Hadrian to spend time with Lupin-is there any way to find Lupin today?"

"No," Severus shook his head, "I know where he is, however the full moon is tonight so it would not be a good idea to bring him here; it shall simply have to wait until after the full moon."

"We shall chaperone the meeting to make sure that Draco behaves himself," Tom said, "Perhaps Severus can brew a potion to minimize his Veela instincts during the meeting. When will Narcissa and the boys return?"

"They were planning to return after lunch," Lucius replied, casting a quick tempus he added, "Which could be any time in the next hour or so. We got a good start on translating those books Sev; do you want to read what we have so far?"

"Actually, I think we should start planning for our Horcrux search," Severus said, "We need to have an idea of where to look before we go running off to find them."

"Good idea," Tom nodded, "Should we use your office Luca?"

"That would be fine," Lucius agreed, "We just need to make sure we have everything ready to be put away when the boys return; they are far too eager to join the cause, and I want to keep them out of danger as much as possible." Severus and Tom nodded their agreement and the three men headed to Lucius' office to begin their planning.

It was two hours later when Narcissa and the boys returned, and the three men were shocked when they saw Hadrian.

"Who did this?" Tom demanded in a low, dangerous voice; he got up from the chair he had been sitting in and walked around to the other side of the desk so that he could more clearly see the bruises on Hadrian's face.

"It was Ronald Weasley," Narcissa replied as she and Draco directed Hadrian to sit in a chair, "It seems that he, along with Hermione Granger and Ginerva Weasley, came upon Hadrian and Draco while they were waiting for me and Mr. Weasley decided to attack Hadrian."

"And why did Draco not assist him?" Tom demanded, glaring at the blond teen fussing over his son.

"Because the girl-Weasel used a potion to stick me to my chair," Draco scowled to hide the fact that Tom's flashing red eyes intimidated him, "I had to convince Granger to release me, and by the time she agreed Hadrian had gotten the upper-hand, so I decided to let him get a few swings in for revenge." Draco narrowed his eyes and used gentle hand to make Hadrian tilt his head so that everyone could see the bruises around his throat, "Of course, if I had noticed these bruises before the Weasel was taken away I would have enacted some revenge of my own; now it shall have to wait until we return to school, but Ronald Weasley will pay for what he did to my-to Hadrian." Hadrian rolled his eyes at this-Draco had been acting far too over-protective since the incident in Diagon Alley and he was finding it to be a little ridiculous. "Hadrian said that it hurts to speak."

"We need to take some pictures to document his injuries and then allow Severus to heal him," Lucius said as he summoned a camera; Hadrian scowled but sat still and allowed Lucius to take pictures of the injuries inflicted on him by Ron, turning his head occasionally when asked to. "Okay Sev," Lucius said after a moment, "He's all yours." Severus stepped forward and cast a diagnostic spell, which produced a sheet of parchment detailing his injuries. He scanned the parchment and then passed it to Lucius, so that it could be submitted as evidence along with the pictures.

"Episkey," Severus murmured, and Hadrian winced as his broken nose fixed itself. Severus reached into the small emergency potions kit he always kept with him, and pulled out a small tin of thick blue paste, which he then slathered on Hadrian's bruises. "The damage to your vocal cords was caused by magic," Severus said, "Did you hear Weasley cast a spell?" Hadrian shook his head in the negative, "Did you say something that angered him?" Hadrian nodded. "Well, it is possible his accidental magic is affecting your vocal cords," Severus pulled out a vial of green potion the bag he always kept with him, and held it out to Hadrian; "A simple healing draught should fix you vocal cords, along with the smaller injuries inflicted by Weasley. Drink this Hadrian, and stop scowling at me." Hadrian stuck his tongue out at the potions master and grudgingly accepted the potion-sure, he couldn't speak, but that didn't mean he wanted to take another vile tasting potion. He glared at the potion suspiciously for a moment before tilting his head back and downing it in one go, making a disgusted face at the bitter taste that lingered on his tongue.

"Give it a few minutes before you try to speak," Severus instructed him, "I just want to run an additional diagnostic spell to make sure there are no other injuries." Hadrian rolled his eyes and stuck his tongue out again. "Do that one more time and I will cut out your tongue to use in my potions," Severus threatened, and Hadrian immediately pulled his tongue back in his mouth and proceeded to pout.

"Don't worry Hades," Draco nudged Hadrian until he scooted over a bit, giving Draco enough room to squeeze into the chair, although just barely, "There are potions to grow your tongue back so it would only be temporary." Hadrian gave him a look that clearly said 'Oh, that's comforting!' before rolling his eyes and relaxing with Draco's arm around his shoulders. Severus performed the diagnostic spell and nodded in satisfaction.

"You are as good as new Hadrian," he said, "the bruises are gone, and your broken nose has been healed; in addition, you should be able to speak again-Merlin help us all."

"Gee, love you too Sev," Hadrian said drily, "I can't believe Hermione and Ginny just stood there and watched Ron beat the shit out of me!"

"Hadrian! Language!" Narcissa chided.

"Sorry Narcissa," Hadrian blushed, "It's just-so frustrating! I had hoped that Ginny at least would stick up for me!"

"She is obviously torn between you and her brother," Draco said calmly, "and seeing you with me did not help matters any. Not that that excuses her; I still intend to have a few words with Ginerva the next time we meet. Are you truly feeling better now Hades?" Draco turned so that he could look Hadrian in the eyes, searching for any hint of discomfort or lasting injuries.

"Yes," Hadrian replied, "I feel fine now; in fact, I'm eager to look through the bag of tricks the twins gave me and see what I can use against Ron next year. Don't worry," he assured the adults, who were all looking at him disapprovingly, "I'll make sure I don't get caught."

"You had better not," Tom warned him, narrowing his eyes; "If you do there will be serious repercussions."

"Especially as you intend to be re-sorted when school resumes," Severus added, "I will not be pleased to have one of my students in detention because he doesn't know how to avoid detection when taking revenge."

"You are all terrible!" Narcissa chided, "Stop encouraging him to break the rules! Hadrian needs to avoid attracting Dumbledore's attention, remember? It's best if you just keep your head low Hadrian dear; I'm sure someone else will deal with Mr. Weasley for you."

"Like me," Draco said, "I will-"

"Do nothing," Narcissa frowned at her son, "You need to stay out of trouble as well Draco; the two of you should focus on your studies and leave other matters to be dealt with by those who-"

"Lighten up Cissa," Lucius interrupted with a smile, "Hadrian and Draco are young, and pranking is part of being a teenage boy; you were even telling them about the pranks that went on during our days, so to forbid them from a few revenge pranks would be hypocritical." He shared a smirk with his son.

"Fine," Narcissa snapped, upset at being undermined by her husband, "but I don't want to hear about any of the pranks, and if they get caught you will have to answer to me for encouraging them." She glared at Lucius for another moment, but when he just continued to smirk unrepentantly she sighed and shook her head before turning back to Hadrian; "Now, Hadrian; would you like to take a nap before we have tea? I know today was another stressful one for you, and healing potions make most people feel tired."

"No thank you Narcissa," Hadrian replied, "I feel fine right now, and I don't feel the least bit sleepy; I was actually hoping Draco and I could go flying for a while?"

"Actually, if you aren't tired there are a few things we need to discuss," Tom said, "First, I have come up with a way to make sure that Dumbledore can't force you to go back to the Dursley's; since he believes you have asked for Sanctuary from Draco, Narcissa will go to the ministry next week and apply for custody of you until you turn seventeen."

"What will we do when the ministry checks the records and it shows that Hadrian never actually claimed Sanctuary?" Narcissa asked.

"Well, I actually did," Hadrian said, "Luna sent me a letter telling me that Severus told Dumbledore the story about me claiming Sanctuary-don't ask how she knew because she just always seems to know these things-and she said it would be a good idea if I actually did it, so...I did."

"That certainly makes things easier," Lucius nodded approvingly, "Although I am concerned with Luna-this would be Luna Lovegood? Xenophilius' daughter?" Hadrian nodded and Lucius continued, "Well, I am concerned about her having this information-I wonder how she came across it, and if we can trust her to keep it secret."

"I believe Luna is a seer," Draco replied, "She has this uncanny ability to know things before others do, and as for her passing information to our enemies...I trust her."

"So do I," Hadrian added, "She's always kept my secrets in the past and she was on my side last year when the Prophet was telling everyone that I was crazy."

"Very well-we shall trust her for now," Lucius said, "Just keep an eye on her once school starts Severus."

"Of course," Severus nodded, "I will also accompany Narcissa to the ministry so that Dumbledore does not interfere when she requests custody of Hadrian."

"I still like my original idea better," Tom glowered, "Torturing the Muggles until they sign over custody would be so much more fun."

"Torturing-?" Hadrian questioned and then shook his head, "Can't we just not think about them anymore? I really just want to forget I ever lived with them, especially now that I never have to go back."

"Good idea Hades," Draco nodded, "You move on and forget about them, and your dad can worry about the whole revenge thing. Isn't it great that you get to stay here from now on?"

"Well, it sure beats the cupboard," Hadrian replied with a dry smile, "and you aren't quite as obnoxious as Dudley. Ow!" Hadrian pouted when Draco smacked him upside the head.

"I have seen that obese whale they claim is a boy," Draco scowled, "and you will not ever compare me to him again if you value your life."

"Well, now that that has been settled we can move on," Narcissa interjected before Hadrian could reply, "Draco, have you had the chance to tell Hadrian about our family history-to be specific, our blood-lines?"

"No Mother," Draco shook his head, "Severus really only mentioned it yesterday, and I was not entirely certain if it would apply, so I did not bring it up. Plus, we have been rather busy, what with saving Hadrian's life, discovering the truth about the past and fighting off Weasel's."

"Well, it would be best to tell him now before it is too late," Lucius pointed out, focusing his attention on the brunet sitting next to his son, "Hadrian, what do you know of Veela's?"

"Umm, I know that that originally come from Bulgaria," Hadrian frowned, "I saw them at the World Cup a few years ago; they're beautiful girls who have bird-like feature's when they get angry, and they have...I think Hermione called it an Allure, which makes males become attracted to them and act stupid. Hmmm...I always did wonder why Fleur didn't affect me the way she did Ron and the other guys..." Hadrian said this softly enough that only Draco heard him, and the blond replied by smirking and tightening his arm around the smaller boys shoulders, ignoring Hadrian's attempt to shrug him off.

"That is correct, for the most part," Narcissa smiled, "What most people do not know is that Veela can actually be either male or female-full-blooded male Veela's simply prefer not to draw attention to themselves as it better enables them to take care of their mate. Many pure-blood families have magical creature blood in their past and the Malfoy's and the Black's both have Veela in their ancestry; this means that Draco is a half-Veela."

"Okay," Hadrian said slowly, beginning to get nervous, "No offense Narcissa, but what does this have to do with me?"

"As a half-Veela Draco will more than likely have a mate," Severus answered before Narcissa could reply, "He will come into his magical inheritance on his sixteenth birthday-which means midnight tonight."

"Oh," Hadrian said softly, a look of comprehension dawning on his face, followed by a sad look that the others didn't understand, "I understand; you're worried that since Draco and I have become so close since he saved me yesterday that it might interfere with him finding his mate. I-" Hadrian tried to stand up, but Draco merely tightened his grip, keeping the smaller boy from moving.

"No, moron," he shook his head in exasperation, "They are telling you this because all signs point to you being my mate."

"What?!" Hadrian cried and this time he managed to pull away from Draco and jump up out of the chair, "Me?! I'm your-no!" He shook his head in denial; "I can't be your...your mate; I just can't be! I mean, I only just started to accept the fact that I might-might-be gay: there is no way I can be your mate! Isn't...isn't there something we can do to make this...not happen?"

"Of course," Severus said silkily and Hadrian turned to look at him with hopeful eyes; "All you have to do is reject Draco once he gets his inheritance and then you won't have to worry about being his mate."

"Really?" Hadrian asked hopefully; with his attention on Severus he failed to see the pained expression on Draco's face as the blond turned his head away; "Then Draco and I can go back to just being friends?"

"Certainly," Severus replied, "Of course, it is rather difficult to be friends with a dead person, however perhaps he would be willing to come back as a ghost for you."

"D-dead?" Hadrian paled, "But...can't he just choose another mate? Why does he have to die?"

"No, Hadrian," Tom shook his head, "Veela's only have one mate, and if that mate rejects them then they will die; I know it's a lot to take in, but you said it yourself-you and Draco have become very close-would it really be so bad being his mate? Most witches and wizards dream of being a Veela's mate; it means that you will always have a companion, someone to take care of you and to take care of in return. As for you, Severus," Tom rounded on his old friend before Hadrian could reply, "There was no need for you to respond like that; Hadrian was understandably shocked by the information and you just made him feel bad and..."

Hadrian tuned out the conversation and bit his lip, thinking about what Tom had just said. He did feel close to Draco, and he was definitely attracted to him, but it was all so new...On the other hand, he had always wanted someone to love him, like his family never had, so what if this was a little earlier than he had expected? And letting Draco die just because he was scared of this mate-thing was out of the question. Hadrian nodded to himself and turned to look at Draco who was studying the wall intently, determinedly ignoring Hadrian.

"Draco," Hadrian said softly, moving to stand in front of him; Draco turned his head in the other direction and crossed his arms as he scowled; "Come on Dray-don't be mad at me," Hadrian pleaded, "I-I was just surprised when you said that; I never even thought I liked boys until yesterday, and then you tell me that I'm destined to be your mate? Can you blame me for looking for a way out?"

"Yes," Draco grumbled, continuing to look at the wall, "You're only being nice now because you'd feel guilty if I died; I don't want you to be my mate out of pity or guilt."

"It's not out of guilt," Hadrian protested, "and I definitely don't pity you! I just-I don't know what to think Dray; everything has changed so much in the past two days..." Draco didn't respond, so Hadrian decided to try another tactic, "What happened to your Slytherin cunning? I admit that I don't feel ready for a...relationship and that I wouldn't even be thinking about it if it weren't for the fact that you're a Veela-I don't want to lose my best friend after all-" Hadrian saw a small smirk on Draco's lips before the blond replaced it with a scowl, but he took this as encouragement and continued; "but shouldn't you be using it to get what you want? I seem to remember the Sorting Hat in first year saying that Slytherin's were "cunning folk" who "used any means to achieve their ends". It's not like you to give up so easily."

"And who said I'm giving up?" Draco demanded, finally turning to face Hadrian; he held out his hand and Hadrian took it, then gave a little "eep!" of surprise when Draco yanked him, causing him to fall into the blonde's lap, "Maybe I was just using your guilt to get what I want." Draco smirked as the brunet glared at him and tried to get back up, "No; after hurting my feelings I think I need a cuddle to feel better." He helped Hadrian get into a more comfortable position and then wrapped his arms snuggly around the brunet's waist, resting his chin on Hadrian's shoulder.

"All settled then?" Narcissa asked with amusement and Hadrian blushed as he realized everyone had been watching their little exchange, "Excellent; so, do you have any questions Hadrian?"

"Well...what will happen?" Hadrian asked nervously, "I mean...what am I expected to do?"

"It is different for every pair of mates," Narcissa explained, "So I cannot say for certain what will happen, however I can tell you that Draco will be possessive before and for some time after you mate."

"By mate you mean...?" Draco whispered in Hadrian's earing, making the brunet blush and saving Narcissa from having to clarify; "Oh. I see," Hadrian said, "Um...but that won't happen right away, will it?"

"It won't happen until you are ready," Severus assured him, blinking in surprise when Hadrian responded with a scowl.

"I'm not speaking to you," the boy said, "You were being a jerk." He stuck his tongue out and then turned back to Narcissa, "So when you say Draco will be possessive..."

"She means you had better not flirt with anyone else or I may just rip their head off," Draco said calmly, "And I would be protected from any legal ramifications as Veela are protected under ministry law."

"That is correct," Lucius interjected, "Veela are permitted to do anything-up to and including murder-in order to protect their mate; this also includes...punishing anyone they feel is trying to interfere in their relationship."

"Okay, so no flirting," Hadrian said, "What if someone else tries to flirt with me?"

"Then they die," Draco replied, "the same goes for anyone who tries what the Weasel did today as well; his days are already numbered."

"No," Hadrian tilted his head so he could look back at Draco, "You can't kill him for our fight today; revenge is one thing, but that is not worth murdering over."

"Fine," Draco pouted, "but you owe me Hades." Hadrian rolled his eyes and turned back to face the adults.

"Is there anything else I should know?" he asked.

"The only other thing of importance is the fact that Draco is going to need you to stay close by for some time after he gets his magical inheritance," Lucius informed him, "Most Veela do not find their mate until both are sixteen, but since Draco already recognized you as his mate he will find it difficult to be separated from you for long periods of time. This could be for just a week, or he may feel the need to keep you close by until your own birthday, when the bond is reciprocated."

"You had better not be that insane or I swear I will hex you," Hadrian threatened Draco, "There's no way I can stand to have you hovering over me day in and day out for a whole month."

"You haven't seemed to mind it too much so far," Draco replied smugly, "In fact, I seem to remember waking up this morning with you-mmph!" Hadrian quickly clapped a hand over Draco's mouth to prevent him from saying anymore.

"Well, don't get used to it," he told the blond and then addressed Narcissa again, "So, he'll be possessive and controlling, no flirting and he basically has free reign to kill anyone he perceives as a threat to me or to our…relationship; is that all the important information?"

"I have done a little reading on this since yesterday afternoon, and there is one other thing Hadrian should be aware of," Severus spoke up, "Draco is considered a dominant Veela, and as such his instincts will be to protect you-even from yourself; what this means is that if you put yourself in danger through negligence or out of a need to protect others then he may punish you. There will also be times when he may tell you to do something or not do something and if you disobey then he may punish you for that; it is part of his Veela instincts."

"What do you mean by 'punish'?" Hadrian demanded, "Not like the way my-the Muggles punished me? Because I will not put up with that."

"Of course not like that," Draco assured him, turning to glare at Severus, "I read up on it as well-I have been reading up on Veela instincts for the past two years just in case-and I was intending to speak to Hadrian about it in private before we go to bed tonight. Punishment would be something fitting the whatever you did; for example, if you ran off into the Forbidden Forest to play with giant spiders and wound up getting hurt I might tell you not to go to the next Hogsmeade weekend or something along those lines. I really don't have it all planned out-from what I have read it is mostly instinct, however I would never harm you."

"Oh, Hadrian nodded his understanding, "I get it, I guess; doesn't mean I like it though, and it doesn't mean I'm just going to let you punish me however you want whenever your instincts go crazy. I want to see some of those books later."

"Of course," Narcissa smiled, "I will have a house elf bring a few upstairs for you; in the meantime, we have covered the most important aspects of Draco's Inheritance, so you boys can go flying now if you like; a house elf will summon you for tea."

"Yes!" Hadrian cheered, then he frowned when he tried to get up and Draco didn't loosen his grip; "Dray-what are you doing? Come on; let's go fly!"

"Maybe I don't feel like flying," Draco retorted, "Did you ever think of that? You didn't even ask me Hades."

"Oh, stop it Draco," Narcissa chided, "You know you love to fly; stop teasing Hadrian and get out of the house before I make you help the house elves with dinner." Draco was up like a flash, grabbing Hadrian by the wrist and pulling him out of the room.

"Come on Hades," he said, "Let's go flying." Hadrian laughed at Draco's sudden about face and allowed the other boy to drag him outside to the Quidditch pitch behind the manor.

"I can't believe you have your own Quidditch pitch," Hadrian, "It's really not fair."

"Get over it Pot-I mean Riddle," Draco said, almost lapsing back into the familiar insults now that they were outside, brooms in hand, "Why don't we play a Seeker's game? Winner gets to claim a forfeit."

"What kind of forfeit?" Hadrian asked suspiciously.

"The forfeit is to be named at the conclusion of the game," Draco replied, "What's the matter Hades? Scared you'll lose?"

"You wish," Hadrian retorted, "Alright; I agree-the first person to catch the Snitch gets to claim a forfeit, and I hope you're ready to pay up Malfoy-I've never lost to you before and I don't intend to start now."

"Hmmm, that's true," Draco said, "but this time it's just you and me-no distractions or bludgers or anything. Enough talk-let's go." Draco reached in his back pocket and pulled out a Snitch and both boys watched as it flew away, up into the clouds and out of sight before mounting their brooms. It wasn't until they were in the air that Hadrian notice Draco wasn't flying his normal Nimbus 2001.

"Hey! When did you get a Firebolt?"

"At the end of school," Draco smirked, "Mother bought it for me to cheer me up after someone hexed me," he glared at Hadrian, who had the grace to blush at the memory.

"Yeah, sorry about that," Hadrian said, "but you were-well, I guess I don't really have an excuse, except you were being an ass and I was still upset about losing Sirius."

"Don't worry," Draco gave him a devilish grin, "I'm sure I'll come up with some way for you to make it up to me. So, are you scared now that we are evenly matched?"

"Like I would ever be scared of you," Hadrian replied; just at that moment he saw a glint of gold out of the corner of his eye; "Besides, you may have a new broom, but I'm still better than you-especially since I don't need glasses anymore." He didn't wait for Draco's reply, but shot forward towards the snitch, grinning as he heard Draco's cry of outrage behind him. "Told you I was better Malfoy!" Hadrian looked over his shoulder to taunt the blond and then frowned when he didn't see Draco behind him. He turned back towards the snitch and pulled up suddenly to avoid slamming into Draco, who had flown above Hadrian before dropping down in front of him; in that moment of distraction the snitch had vanished and Hadrian glared at his friend.

"Keep your eye on the prize Hadrian," Draco teased, "It almost seems like you want to lose to me."

"In your dreams," Hadrian replied, "I will get to the snitch first, you'll see!"

"Well, you had better hurry then," Draco smirked and shot directly towards Hadrian, forcing the smaller boy to roll over in midair; when he righted himself again Hadrian saw that Draco was chasing after the snitch and he hurried to catch up.

"Cheat!" Hadrian cried as he gained on the blond, "No fair Malfoy!" Draco didn't reply, but leaned down close to his broom until he was laying almost flat against the broomstick, hand outstretched and reaching for the snitch; Hadrian knew there was no way he would be able to catch up, but he still put on a burst of speed and now he was even with Draco's knees...

"Yes!" Draco cheered, throwing his fist in the air, a struggling snitch held tightly in his fingers, "I win Hadrian!" He grinned triumphantly at the brunet, and Hadrian felt his heart skip a beat at the picture Draco made in the light of the setting sun; Draco's face was flushed with excitement, his eyes bright with victory and his lips stretched in a wide grin as the fading sunlight cast a golden halo around his pale locks. Hadrian couldn't let Draco see how affected he was of course, so he hid it behind a scowl.

"You distracted me," Hadrian pouted, "That was an unfair tactic!"

"You're just a sore loser," Draco teased, as both boys flew back towards the ground, "And now you owe me a forfeit...that's in addition to the life debt you already owe me."

"Smug prat," Hadrian glowered at his friend, "Fine? What do I have to do?"

"Hmmm...I need to think about it," Draco said, but the mischievous gleam in his eye told Hadrian that he already had an idea and just didn't want to say it; "Let's go get cleaned up and then meet me back in my room to discuss it."

"Whatever," Hadrian rolled his eyes, "You still have to tell me what I can do to pay back the life debt too; Tom said you have to come up with something soon."

"I will," Draco assured him as they put their brooms away and headed back inside, "but it's not every day you get a chance to claim a life debt; I just want to make sure I take full advantage of the situation."

"Of course you do," Hadrian shook his head as Draco linked arms with him, "Sneaky Slytherin prat."

"You really should stop calling me that," Draco chided him, "After all, you're soon to be a Slytherin as well."

"True," Hadrian conceded, "but soon isn't now." They continued a cheerful banter all the way up to their rooms where they separated to take their showers.

Thirty minutes later Hadrian had finished drying off and dressed in a comfortable pair of jeans and a soft T-shirt that he had found in his closet; he thought he recognized the clothes from the shopping trip earlier, but he couldn't be sure. Once he was dressed Hadrian hesitated before opening the door to Draco's room, both eager and uncomfortable at the thought of seeing Draco half-dressed again.

"Hurry up Hades," Draco called through the door, "Tillie already came up to tell us it was time for Tea, so let's go." Hadrian pushed the door open and noted with relief-and slight disappointment-that Draco was already dressed.

"Okay Draco; I'm ready," he said, "Where are we having tea?"

"In the gold parlor," Draco replied, "but we don't need to leave just yet-first, I want to claim my forfeit." Draco stepped forward and took Hadrian by the hand, pulling the brunet closer: Hadrian allowed it reluctantly, watching Draco warily.

"Okay; what do you want as your forfeit?" he asked suspiciously, and Draco grinned-this did not ease Hadrian's mind.

"Nothing terrible, I promise," Draco said, "Just come here and close your eyes." Hadrian narrowed his eyes suspiciously for a moment before taking a deep breath and closing his eyes just as he felt Draco's free hand come to rest at the back of his neck, and Hadrian suddenly knew what was going to happen.

Draco felt the brunet tense in his arms and make a soft sound of distress, so he released Hadrian's hand and slid his arm around the other boy's waist to keep him from fleeing as he leaned down, closing the small distance between them and gently pressing their lips together. Hadrian remained tense in his arms for a moment until Draco slid his hand up to card through the dark locks as he nipped softly at the lips beneath his and Hadrian parted his lips with a soft gasp; Draco took advantage of the action to slip his tongue into the other boy's mouth, gently lapping at the warm cavern while Hadrian finally began to relax, melting into the embrace.

'Wow,' Hadrian thought when he felt another tongue begin to caress his, 'this is...' He let the thought fade away as he tentatively wrapped his arms around Draco's neck, hearing the blonde give a soft sound of pleasure; if he'd known kissing Draco was this...amazing was the only word he could think of to describe it-he might have tried it sooner, and those fingers trailing through his hair were just heavenly.

After a few minutes Draco pulled away and looked down at Hadrian; his cheeks were flushed and his green eyes-when he opened them-were dark and slightly unfocused.

"See? That wasn't too terrible now, was it?" Draco teased. Hadrian shook his head to clear it before answering; seeing Draco's expression he decided to wipe that self-satisfied smirk off the blonde's face.

"Maybe not for you," Hadrian shot back, a mischievous twinkle in his eye, "I was just going along with it because I had to; if you thought I actually enjoyed it...well, I must be an even better kisser than I thought." With that little remark Hadrian twisted away out of Draco's arms and headed for the door; "Come on Dray-time for tea."

"Oh, I'll get you for that remark Hades," Draco promised as he followed the brunet out the door, quickly catching up to him and linking arms, "You just wait." Hadrian simply gave him a small laugh and a cheeky grin as they headed downstairs.

"I was wondering about something, Narcissa," Hadrian ventured as they were finishing tea; they being Hadrian, Draco, Lucius, Narcissa and Severus-Tom had left to attend to his Death Eater's, "Sirius mentioned that you have two sisters, but I didn't see Andromeda in any of the memories. Were you not close to her?"

"Andromeda was four years older than Bellatrix and six years older than me," Narcissa replied, "So, no, I was not as close to her as I was to Bella. When we were younger, Andromeda spent all of her time studying, and it was a surprise to everyone when the Hat chose to Sort her Slytherin instead of Ravenclaw. By the time I started at Hogwarts, Andromeda was busy preparing for her NEWT studies, and so I rarely saw her. Of course, I now know she was also sneaking around with Edward Tonks, whom our parents would not have approved of."

"Is it because he is a Muggleborn?" Draco asked.

"Partly," Narcissa said, "However, the main reason they would have forbidden the match was because Andromeda, as the eldest child, had already been betrothed to Lucius. The eldest child is the one who will inherit the majority of the estate, and so Andromeda was expected to marry into a family that would add to our prestige, and have a husband who would be able to assist her with managing the estate. Edward Tonks fit none of those requirements.

"If I had fallen for a Muggleborn, my parents would have disapproved, but given him a chance to prove himself; as the youngest I had the least expectations to live up to. When Andromeda chose to elope with that Tonks boy, she broke the betrothal and shamed our family. Mother was able to salvage the situation by offering me as a better match for Lucius, and the Malfoy's agreed to change the betrothal contract. Aunt Walburga, however, was not placated and she forced Mother and Father to disown Andromeda, or face being removed from the family as well. Father set aside a vault for Andromeda, but she was incensed at being disowned and refused any assistance from our family.

"Within a few years of her disownment, Andromeda had thrown her support behind Dumbledore, and then tried to convince Bellatrix and I to break our own engagements. When we refused, she declared herself to have no sisters." Narcissa smiled sadly, "I never even had the chance to meet my niece, although I have heard that she is an accomplished Auror."

"She is," Hadrian confirmed, "Tonks-er, well, her name is really Nymphadora, but she hates it and tells everyone to call her Tonks-is also a Metamorphmagus. Maybe, after we take care of Dumbledore, you can meet her." Hadrian frowned, "Do you think Andromeda was spelled by Dumbledore? Maybe that's why she turned her back on everyone?"

"If so, he must have begun turning her against our family when she first started at Hogwarts, and what purpose would that serve?" Narcissa replied, "He couldn't have known then what would happen with your parents and the Potter's."

"Do not underestimate Dumbledore," Severus cautioned, "While he could not have known exactly what happened, I believe he always intended to set someone up as a Dark Lord; Tom was just an ideal candidate."

"Well, we can't know anything for certain until we return everyone's memories," Lucius said, "We will, of course, see whether Andromeda was coerced by the Headmaster and do everything in our power to reverse his influence if he is responsible for her actions." Lucius smiled at his wife, adding, "I must admit, however, that I am glad you are the one I married."

"As am I," Narcissa returned the smile, then turned her attention back to Hadrian, "Do you have any other concerns, dear?"

"Not right now," Hadrian said.

"If you think of anything else, do not hesitate to ask," Narcissa said, "Now, Draco, would you like to play a game of Chess with me?" Draco agreed, and they moved from the table over to the other side of the parlor, where a Chess table was set up. Hadrian sat next to Draco, intent on learning how to play better-Ron was an excellent player, but a terrible teacher-while Lucius and Severus sat in a pair of chairs nearby, discussing something in quiet voices.

The rest of the afternoon and evening passed fairly quickly, and it didn't seem like long at all before Hadrian and Draco were saying good night to the adults and heading back up to their rooms. Draco sat down on the window seat and motioned for Hadrian to sit beside him.

"We should go to bed," Hadrian said as he sat down, "You know we'll have to get up early tomorrow."

"Not likely," Draco replied, "Coming into my Veela inheritance is supposed to be physically draining, so I expect mother to let us sleep in for a bit; she will likely wake us a couple of hours before the party starts so that we can get ready. And yes-you will be allowed to sleep in as well; it would not be a good idea for me to wake up the day after getting my inheritance to find you not in the room." Draco changed his position so that he was leaning against the wall with one leg on the window seat and the other one on the Floor; he looked at Hadrian expectantly and the brunet shook his head and rolled his eyes before sliding back so that he was leaning against Draco, his back to the blonde's chest and both of his legs pulled up on the window seat.

"Well, since you insist on staying up maybe I should start reading the books your mom had sent up," Hadrian suggested, "I need to know what to expect so you don't go on a killing rampage or something." Hadrian frowned thoughtfully for a moment and then asked; "Is that why I felt so comfortable around you suddenly? Is your Allure doing...something to make it so that we don't fight?"

"No," Draco shook his head, "from everything I've read I won't be able to use my Allure until after I get my inheritance; perhaps it was just being here, without others to cause problems between us." He wrapped one arm around Hadrian's waist and began stroking his hair with the other.

"Hmm, I suppose," Hadrian conceded, closing his eyes to enjoy the petting, "The fact that you and Sna-Severus saved my life probably helped too."

"That reminds me," Draco began, "The life debt; I think we should settle it now and I know what I want."

"Oh? What do you want?"

"I want you to agree to do anything I say for twenty-four hours," Draco said, "and I want you to promise that you will not keep any secrets from me that could affect both of us, that you will tell me immediately if someone threatens you or if you are injured, and that you will come to me or Severus before going off on any rescue missions or adventures."

"So you basically want me to tell you everything that ever happens to me, no matter how insignificant," Hadrian said drily, "What about when there isn't enough time to find you before doing something? And what about if I stub my toe, does that count as being injured?"

"You are being difficult," Draco frowned, "You don't have to tell me every detail of everyday-unless you want to, of course. As for injuries, I don't need to know if you get a paper cut or something similar unless you have unusual side effects, but I would like you to tell me if you get knocked off your broom during Quidditch practice or cut yourself with your potions knife. I know that you wind up in a lot of dangerous situations, and you never rely on anyone other than Weasley and Granger for help; even then, you try to go off on your own. Luna told me you wanted to go to the ministry by yourself last year-I want to make sure you are safe."

"And doing whatever you say for twenty-four hours?" Hadrian questioned, "How does that keep me safe?"

"Well, I can tell you to stay with me, and prevent you from going into a dangerous situation," Draco told him, before smirking, "Mostly, however, that one is for my enjoyment; I rather think that I would like having you wait on me hand and foot for a day."

"Of course you would," Hadrian rolled his eyes, "Fine, but you can't use it to interfere with Quidditch."

"I will claim my day when it will not have any adverse effects on your schoolwork or Quidditch," Draco promised, "Do you agree to my demands?"

"I suppose I can agree to that," Hadrian agreed, "So is that it? Our life debt is settled?"

"Yes-after we seal it with a kiss," Draco smirked.

Hadrian felt his breath catch in his throat when Draco tightened his fingers in his hair and tugged gently, pulling his head back so that he could lean down and capture Hadrian's lips with his own. Draco's lips moved against his gently at first, and then more persistently as he licked at Hadrian's bottom lip, encouraging him to part his lips and allow Draco's invasion. This time the kiss was more passionate than before as their tongues battled for dominance; Draco briefly allowed Hadrian to win, and the brunet tentatively stroked Draco's mouth with his tongue before Draco took control again, thoroughly tasting the mouth below him. This position was very intimate, even more so when Draco lifted his leg off the floor and threw it across Hadrian's, effectively trapping the other boy; Hadrian raised one hand to wrap around the back of Draco's neck, pulling the blond closer and moaning into the kiss, enjoying the small gentle tugs on his hair.

When they finally broke the kiss both boys were out of breath, and Hadrian relaxed in Draco's embrace, leaning his head back on the taller boys shoulder.

"Mmm, so, no reading for me tonight," Hadrian chuckled.

"Then my distraction worked," Draco teased, "I believe you know everything of importance anyway; the rest is just small details. The only thing tomorrow is to make sure you don't get too friendly with any of the guests; my temper may be a bit explosive."

"I'll keep that in mind," Hadrian said and then they sat in silence for a few minutes as Draco resumed carding his fingers through Hadrian's hair. After a while Hadrian stirred and pulled away; "You need me to sleep in here tonight?" Draco nodded; "Okay then, I'm going to change into my pajamas," he told Draco and the blond reluctantly loosed his grip; "I'll be back in a few minutes."

"Alright," Draco agree, watching the brunet go. Once Hadrian was gone Draco got up and changed into a pair of black silk pajama bottoms and climbed into the bed. Hadrian returned a few minutes later wearing emerald green pajama bottoms and a black tank top and crawled onto the bed beside Draco, allowing the other boy to pull him close. "Just to warn you-I may get restless around midnight, so if I wake you just move out of the way a bit and wait until it's over."

"Are you going to be hurt?" Hadrian questioned.

"It's possible," Draco replied honestly, "but that is another thing that varies for everyone; some people experience pain while others simply wake up changed. Don't worry about it though;" he kissed the top of Hadrian's head; "If it causes pain it will only last for a few minutes; go to sleep now."

"Already with the bossing around," Hadrian grumbled teasingly as he nestled his head on Draco's shoulder, "Good night Dray."

"Night Hades," Draco replied, resting his chin on top of Hadrian's head. Draco listened as the other boy's breathing evened out and Hadrian fell asleep; Draco followed soon after and the room was silent.

At midnight there was a change in the room as Draco was bathed in a soft silver glow; both boys moved restlessly for a few minutes as magic swirled throughout the room surrounding them both. When the magic died down five minutes later Draco's change was complete and both boys settled back into a peaceful slumber.

 

Chapter Text

"This is ridiculous!" Molly Weasley scowled at Dumbledore; they were in the kitchen at 12 Grimmauld Place, discussing the situation with Harry. "You saw what that boy did to my poor Ronald! Harry Potter living with the Malfoy's-this is absurd! They are obviously a bad influence on him!" Sitting nearby and observing everything quietly were Remus Lupin, Arthur Weasley and Nymphadora Tonks.

"I quite agree with you my dear," Dumbledore said, "At the moment I have no way to get him away from that family, however I have Severus keeping an eye on Harry for me; the next time they leave the manor I will make sure we have people in place to rescue the boy."

"Good," Molly nodded her approval, "Once you rescue Harry he can stay with us for the remainder of the summer; we will make sure to undo all of the bad habits he has undoubtedly learned."

"Thank you, Molly, for being willing to take Harry in," Dumbledore smiled at the witch, "However, I am afraid he will need to stay at his relative's home for another few weeks first, at least until after his birthday."

"Why would you send him back there?" Remus demanded, eyes flashing to amber-a normal occurrence whenever he became emotional too close to the full moon- and a growl underlying his words, "He already ran away once; if we send him back he'll likely just run away again, and then he'll never trust any of us."

"I understand your concern," Dumbledore said soothingly, "however Harry needs to spend time with his relatives to renew the blood protection that is within him; if he doesn't go back it would be an insult to Lily's memory, her sacrifice. Don't worry Remus-I will explain everything to Harry and take full responsibility for sending him back. In addition, I will set up regular patrols to check on him so that we can be certain he is not being mistreated by his relative's."

"I'll be on Harry watch!" Tonks volunteered eagerly, her bright pink hair changing to neon green, "I can make it so that they never even realize they're being watched!"

"I will help too," Arthur volunteered, "After all, Harry is like family to us; I'm certain he and Ron will put this silly misunderstanding behind them soon."

"Excellent," Dumbledore beamed at them, "Once we have Harry back where he's safe we shall work up a schedule."

"I want to speak to Severus," Remus said, "I think-if he will help me-perhaps I can get invited into Malfoy Manor and persuade Harry to leave."

"I'm afraid it is highly unlikely that the Malfoy's would allow you on their property," Dumbledore said gently, "You know they-like most Purebloods-look down upon werewolves. However, in a few days-once the full moon has passed-we can discuss it with Severus. Now, do you have any other concerns? If not, I need to be going; I have some very important research that I am working on, something which may help us defeat Voldemort when the time comes."

After everyone assured him that their concerns had been resolved Dumbledore bid them all good-bye and Apparated to his office in Hogwarts, which had become his one true home many years ago. Sitting at his desk, the headmaster reviewed a stack of notes in front of him; these were notes concerning certain events that he had caused to happen many years ago, all of them encrypted so that he must break the code before reading them. Albus frowned and picked up a worn and faded letter that he had found three years ago and began reading over the words once again.

"Albus,

This must seem strange to you, although it is undoubtedly not the strangest thing you have ever encountered, receiving a letter from yourself; I am writing this November Fifth, approximately a week after the terrible events that transpired in Godric's Hollow. Once I write this letter I will be altering our memory, and I will charm this letter so that you will not find it until Harry Potter's thirteenth year.

There are many things I-we-have done that I am not proud of, but it has always been for the Greater Good. I have written other letters so that you can understand the actions I have taken, and the letters are under a timed charm to appear when they are needed. The actions I have taken are too much for me to live with and remember on a daily basis, and so I will be removing the memories of them once I finish writing this. I expect things will begin heating up soon after you receive this, and it will be time to finish off Tom Riddle once and for all; I caution you to move slowly, and to continue endorsing the Dursley's treatment of Harry Potter, while ensuring that he maintains trust in you.

If you feel that things are moving too fast and you need your memories back more quickly, you can view the pensieve memories from the last year of the Potter's lives, but I would recommend relying on the notes if at all possible. Receiving the information a little at a time will make it easier for you to understand the choices I had to make, and it will also give you time to properly plan your strategy. Best of luck to you!

Albus Dumbledore."

The letter was strange; what could his younger self have done that was so terrible he would lock away the memories? Even now he wasn't proud of the way he allowed the Dursley's to treat Harry, but he understood that it was necessary; Harry had to be taught his place, and it was too dangerous to do it here at school where someone might notice. If Harry was allowed to grow up worshipped and adored by his relative's as he was by the Wizarding world he would never be able to do what needs to be done, never be able to sacrifice himself for the Greater Good.

Albus frowned again as he looked at the cabinet that contained his pensieve memories; it would be so simple to just view the memories, yet his younger self must have had a good reason for telling him to rely on the notes for information. He had already learned so much, including the information about Horcruxes. Could he really afford to take that time though? Things were getting close, especially after receiving that letter from Harry...He already had a solid plan though, one that he had developed once he uncovered the note telling himself that Tom Riddle had six Horcruxes. He knew that one-the diary-had already been destroyed, and he was close to figuring out where the next one was even without additional information from his younger self. He did have to wonder how his younger self knew about the Horcruxes, but that was not relevant to his plans. No, the most important thing was getting the boy back under his control.

Albus smiled to himself; he would be able to get Harry back on the right side if he shared the information about the Horcruxes. If need be, he could alter Harry's memory as well-just enough to make him forget about what Harry had overheard the other night. Albus had spent many years cultivating the boys Gryffindor nature, even going as far as to ensure he became friends with young Ronald; he made sure Hagrid told him how evil Slytherins were, and the naïve boy had fallen for it. Once he had Harry back in his grasp it wouldn't be too hard to turn him away from the Malfoy's, and then his plan would be back on track and he, Albus Dumbledore, would once again be heralded as the savior of the Wizarding World-the defender of the Greater Good.

**********************************************

"Master Draco is be needing to get up now!" Hadrian was awoken by the squeaky voice of a house elf and sleepily opened one eye to see Tillie standing by the bed anxiously, "Mistress is saying you needs to be getting ready! The guests is be arriving soon!" Hadrian yawned and moved to get out of Draco's embrace, only to have the blond's arms tighten around him.

"Come on Dray," Hadrian said, "We need to get up." Draco grumbled incoherently and rolled over, trapping Hadrian beneath him. "Draco! Don't worry Tillie;" Hadrian told the house elf, "I'll wake him up; how long do we have until the guests arrive?"

"You is having two hours!" Tillie replied, "You is hurrying!"

"Okay," Hadrian agreed, "Tell Narcissa and Lucius we'll be down on time." Tillie bowed and vanished from the room, leaving Hadrian to deal with waking Draco. "Dray; you're crushing me," Hadrian protested, squirming to get away.

"Mmmm, stop moving and go to sleep," Draco commanded sleepily, "Not time to get up yet."

"Yes, it is," Hadrian countered, "It's your birthday-remember? Happy Birthday, by the way. We only have two hours until your party."

"Don't care," Draco said, "So tired..." Draco nuzzled Hadrian's neck, placing a soft kiss there and making the brunet shiver.

"Stop that Draco," Hadrian said, still trying to escape Draco's grasp, "If you don't get up right now you don't get your birthday present."

"I already have my birthday present," Draco murmured, kissing a trail up Hadrian's neck; he pressed a kiss to the corner of Hadrian's mouth and the other boy turned his head away.

"Come on; your guests will be here soon," Hadrian persisted, finally managing to roll out from under Draco; he quickly got out of the bed before the blond could stop him and headed for his room; "I'm going to take a shower-you should too, otherwise your mum is going to be mad."

"You're so mean Hades," Draco pouted as he rose gracefully from the bed, "You're supposed to be nice to me on my birthday." Hadrian looked over his shoulder, ready to make a joke, but was stunned by what he saw.

Draco had always been handsome, with his platinum blond hair and stormy grey eyes, but now he was...well, beautiful, but not in a girlie way. Draco's blond hair was now past his shoulders and it was even paler than before, almost silvery and his eyes...his eyes were a hypnotic silvery-blue; the blond was taller now too, approximately six inches taller than Hadrian where previously Draco had only been about three inches taller. In addition to the physical changes, Draco also had a powerful aura-Hadrian felt that he could almost see the blond's magic swirling around him.

Hadrian was so distracted by Draco's new appearance that he walked right into the door separating the two rooms.

"Careful Hades!" Draco cautioned, quickly moving to take hold of Hadrian's arm; "Are you okay? What happened?"

"I'm fine," Hadrian replied blushing as he pulled away, "I just-you look different; you're taller."

"Taller?" Draco arched a brow, "I can't imagine you walked into a door simply because I'm taller. What else is different?"

"You have a mirror!" Hadrian responded, "Go see for yourself! I'm taking my shower now." He quickly slipped into his bedroom and closed the door, leaving a smirking Draco behind.

When Hadrian got out of the shower he saw that his clothes had been picked out for him and he rolled his eyes-it appeared that he would never be able to pick out his own clothes here. His outfit of the day consisted of a pair of black slacks and a royal blue dress shirt with silver buttons; also laid out for him was a dress robe just a few shades darker than his shirt, and Hadrian sighed as he resigned himself to the fact that he would likely be wearing robes quite often while he was at Malfoy Manor. After getting dressed Hadrian took a comb to his hair, and he was pleased to note that it was more manageable than before.

When he felt that he was presentable, Hadrian walked over to his desk and saw that his purchases from the day before-minus the clothes, which were already in the closet-were sitting on top of it. Hadrian set his bag of goodies from the twins to the side and unwrapped the package that contained the dragon figurines he had gotten for Draco. Each figurine was in its own box, and Hadrian frowned as he realized that he didn't have anything to put them in.

"Tillie?" he called hesitantly, and a moment late the house elf appeared.

"How can Tillie be serving Master Hadrian?"

"I need something to put Draco's birthday gift in," Hadrian replied, "Also, I was having another gift delivered-do you know if it has arrived yet?"

"Yes, there is being a delivery downstairs," Tillie confirmed, "The wizard is saying animal is in enchanted sleep and will wake when Master Draco opens the present. Which present is Master Hadrian wanting to give at the family party? Mistress and Master has gifts for Young Master before guests is being here."

"There's a family party?" Hadrian asked with surprise, "Um, okay; I'll save these-" he gestured to the dragon figurines on his desk, "-for when the guests get here. Can you get me something to put them in?"

"Yes, Master Hadrian," Tillie snapped and a selection of gift bags and tissue paper appeared on the desk, "What is Master Hadrian wishing to be using?"

"Hmm," Hadrian looked through the gift bags and settled on one with a night-time forest scene, complete with fairies and centaurs running through the trees; he placed the figurine boxes in the bag and then-with Tillie's help-arranged dark green and silver tissue paper in it as well.

"Tillie is putting this with other gifts," Tillie announced, "Is Master Hadrian needing anything else?"

"No thanks," Hadrian replied, "You were a big help Tillie." Tillie's eyes widened at the praise, but to Hadrian's relief she popped away without making a scene as Dobby would have done. Speaking of which, he should really let Dobby know he was okay; he'd have to make sure to contact him tomorrow.

Satisfied that Draco's gifts had been taken care of Hadrian moved to the door connecting the two rooms and entered Draco's bedroom; surprisingly the blond was already dressed-wearing black slacks, a silver button up shirt and a robe the same color as Hadrian's- and he was just finishing fixing his hair.

"Don't use that stuff on it," Hadrian said, making a face at the gel in Draco's hand, "You look like a prat when you slick your hair back like that."

"Gee, don't spare my feelings or anything," Draco drawled, glaring at Hadrian; he dropped the gel though and instead pulled it back and tied it with a dark blue ribbon.

"Just being honest," Hadrian replied, "We need to head downstairs in a few minutes, don't we?"

"Mother will send a house elf when it's time," Draco told him as he turned away from the mirror; he tilted his head as he looked over Hadrian's appearance and then nodded approvingly; "You look very nice today Hades; your hair is almost long enough to be tied back-you are going to let it grow, aren't you? It is custom for the heir to grow his hair longer when he is our age."

"I hadn't really thought about it," Hadrian shrugged, walking over to sit down on Draco's bed, "I suppose I can let it grow; I know it's easier to manage now."

"You should let it grow," Draco said, sitting next to him and reaching up to run a hand through those dark locks; "It suits you." Hadrian blushed and tried to look away, but Draco's fingers tightened in his hair as the blond brought their lips together for a soft kiss; Draco continued to card his fingers through Hadrian's hair, making the other boy moan softly when he gently tugged on a lock of hair. Draco began trailing kisses down Hadrian's neck to his collar bone, smirking when the brunet unconsciously tilted his head back to give him more access. Draco had just settled in to give his Mate a hickey when a loud pop distracted them, making Hadrian push him away.

"Dobby!" Hadrian cried, "What are you doing here?"

"I is checking on Harry Potter," Dobby replied, "Dobby is too late! Draco Malfoy is attacking Harry Potter! Draco Malfoy is a bad wizard!"

"No, he isn't attacking me," Hadrian rushed to assure the house elf, "He was jus-that is-um, Draco is my friend now."

"No, I'm not," Draco glared at both Hadrian and the house elf, "I am a Veela, and he is my Mate; you had better have a good reason for interrupting us."

"Dobby is sorry!" the house elf squeaked, "Dobby is needing punished!"

"No!" Hadrian stopped him, "I forbid you to punish yourself! I'm okay Dobby; I would have let you know, but...a lot has happened over the past two days. I'm staying with the Malfoy's now."

"Harry Potter sir is being treated good?" Dobby asked, "Is needing a house elf? Dobby can be Harry Potter's house elf!"

"It's not Harry anymore," Hadrian corrected him, "Draco? Am I able to make Dobby my house elf?"

"Well, house elves have to be sworn to the head of the family," Draco replied, "because they own the house; the head of the family can then assign house elves to someone else in the family."

"I don't think Dobby would like being sworn to your family again," Hadrian mused, "You and I know that he treated Dobby like that because of Dumbledore's spell, but-"

"You is knowing?" Dobby interrupted, "You is knowing that Dumbledore is being bad wizard? He is making good wizards be doing bad things. Master Lucius was good wizard and Dumbledore is make him be bad. If bad spell is being fixed Dobby is happy to be serving House of Malfoy and Harry Potter."

"I will talk to Father about it later," Draco said, "For now you must return to Hogwarts so that Dumbledore doesn't suspect anything; I will call you in a day or so after I receive Father's answer."

"Dobby is going now," Dobby bowed, "Dobby is waiting for call from Master Draco and Master Harry!" With a final bow, the little house elf disappeared, only to be replaced by Tillie a moment later.

"Masters is needing to be in parlor," Tillie announced, "Guests is be arriving soon."

"Very well," Draco nodded, "We shall be down shortly." Hadrian moved in front of the mirror, flattening his hair out of habit, and shot a glare at Draco when he noticed a faint red mark on his neck.

"You were leaving a hickey!" he pointed an accusing finger at the blond, "You prat!"

"Of course I was leaving a hickey," Draco said nonchalantly, "I wanted to let everyone know you're taken. Come on Hades;" he crossed the room and linked arms with Hadrian, "We need to get downstairs before everyone arrives." Hadrian grumbled quietly but allowed Draco to lead him downstairs where they found Narcissa, Lucius, Severus and Tom waiting in the large parlor.

"Happy Birthday Draco," everyone chorused; Narcissa stood and crossed the room to give Draco and Hadrian each a kiss on the cheek.

"You both look very handsome," she smiled, "We'll have to get you some new clothes Draco; most of the ones you own will be too small for you now. Come sit down." She led the boys over to a love seat and Draco pulled Hadrian to sit down next to him; "The guests will be here soon, but first we have some gifts for you. This is from your father and me." She handed Draco a small envelope and a box elegantly wrapped with dark grey paper and an emerald bow on top.

The envelope held the deed to some property in France, and Draco explained to Hadrian that it was a Malfoy tradition to give the heir his own property at the age of sixteen; the other gift from Draco's parents was a new set of Quidditch gear.

"You can go examine your new property later in the summer," Lucius promised Draco, "Have you ever been to France Hadrian?"

"No sir," Hadrian replied, "I haven't been anywhere except to Hogwarts."

"Well then, we shall definitely have to go before school resumes," Narcissa said, "We should visit Italy as well, and perhaps take a trip to Germany."

"I never agreed to that," Tom said, "There is a lot we need to do this summer, so we can't go travelling all over Europe."

"No, but Narcissa and the boys can go to France at the very least," Lucius said, "We do not have to make all of our plans right this instant. Why don't you finish opening your gifts Draco?"

Draco nodded; his gift from Severus was a set of potions books and crystal phials, while Tom gave Draco a book on learning Parseltongue.

"It is difficult to learn if you are not born with the gift," Tom explained, "However I know Elena learned to speak it fairly well, so I believe you should be able to learn it as well."

"Thank you, Tom," Draco smiled, "This will come in helpful if Hadrian ever tries to speak about me behind my back in Parseltongue."

"Oh, if I have something to say about you I'll say it to your face," Hadrian promised, "But you had better be nice to me if you want your pres-"

"Cissy! Where are you Sister?" Hadrian was interrupted by Bellatrix's appearance in the family parlor, "Well, if it isn't my nephew; itty bitty Drakey all grown up. Don't you have a kiss for your Aunty Bella?"

"Hello Aunt Bella," Draco replied warily, "I'm glad you could-"

"Why are you sitting next to that filthy little half-blood?" Bella interrupted with a screech, drawing her wand as she notice Harry, "Stand aside Draco; it's time to dispose of the Chosen One for our master!"

"Bella!" Tom growled, moving to stand between her and the boys; "I warned you-Harry Potter is under my protection; lower your wand. No, better yet; hand it over. Now!" Bella whimpered and gave Tom the wand before falling to her knees.

"Please My Lord; I meant no disrespect," she simpered, "I was simply trying to assist you; you have said many times that you wanted the Potter boy out of the way-"

"And I also said that I would be the one to take care of him," Tom replied, "That has changed however; Harry Potter is under the protection of Sanctuary and he no longer follows Dumbledore which is why I offered him protection from my followers. If you had attacked him, Bella, you would have made a liar out of me; no one makes a liar out of me. Crucio!" Bella screamed as the curse hit, and Hadrian found himself watching with wide eyes; he still felt that the curse was terrible, but he had to admit that he felt a strange sense of satisfaction that Tom-his father-was using it to protect him.

While he was watching the interaction between Tom and Bella Hadrian became aware of a soft growling sound and he realized with a start that it was Draco; the blond was glaring at Bella with eyes like molten silver, his lips were pulled back in a snarl to reveal pointed canines and when Hadrian glanced down he saw that Draco had sprouted claws.

"Draco-stop it;" Hadrian hissed, "She didn't do anything to me and Tom is taking care of it."

"She threatened you," Draco growled, turning that gaze on him, "I can't let someone threaten to kill my mate and get away with it."

"She isn't right Dray," Hadrian protested, "We saw the memories-remember? It's Dumbledore's fault she's like this, so it's really his fault she wanted to hurt me; Bellatrix is your aunt-you can't kill her. Besides, she didn't hurt me. Draco-I don't want you to attack her; please." Hadrian reached a hand and cupped Draco's cheek; "Let it go, for me. Just this once?" Draco placed his hand over Hadrian's and stared intently into his eyes for a moment before giving a small nod.

"Very well," he agreed, "But just this once I will let it go." Draco placed his free hand on the back of Hadrian's neck and pulled him in for a searing kiss, being careful not to nick Hadrian with his canines.

"In the future," Draco whispered when he pulled away, "Don't interfere when I am trying to protect you; also, you owe me."

"Yeah, yeah," Hadrian said dismissively as he ducked his head to hide his flushed face, "It seems like I always owe you for something."

"My Lord-you cannot condone this!" Bella protested, "This half-blood is corrupting my family!"

"Silence!" Tom ordered, "You just had to put on that little public display didn't you Draco?" He sighed and pointed his wand at Bella again; "Obliviate!" He altered Bella's memories so that she wouldn't remember the kiss between her nephew and Hadrian.

"I am sorry My Lord," Bella said, "Please forgive me for my eagerness."

"Do not go against my orders again or next time I will not be so forgiving," Tom warned, "Now, if you have a gift for your nephew you had better give it to him."

"Of course," Bella agreed quickly, getting unsteadily to her feet; she turned towards the loveseat and scowled at Hadrian before promptly ignoring him; "Aunty Bella has a gift for you Draco." She handed over a gift wrapped in black paper with glowing green dark marks on it; "I made the wrapping paper myself."

"We can all tell," Lucius said drily; "We don't have much time left before the guests arrive; go ahead and open it Son." Draco opened the gift carefully, and pulled out a volume of books on the Dark Arts.

"Thank you, Aunt Bella," he said politely, "I'll be sure to look at these later."

"I marked the spells I thought you might be interested in," Bella said, "You may want to start reading it tomorrow, because I will be testing you."

"I want to speak with you after the party Bella," Tom said as he got to his feet, "We have much to discuss. Now go to the ballroom and wait for us." Bella bowed and left the room, and Draco started to stand up but Hadrian tugged on his arm, keeping him seated.

"Wait; I have something for you too," he said, "Narcissa, do you know what happened to the package that was delivered earlier this morning?"

"I had Wispy put it with the other gifts," Narcissa replied, "I can have her bring it for you; Wispy!"

"How can Wispy be serving Mistress?" the house elf bowed.

"Fetch the package that was delivered this morning," Narcissa commanded, "And be careful with it."

"Yes Mistress!" Wispy vanished with a pop and reappeared moments later with a small crate covered by a black velvet blanket; "Can Wispy be doing anything else?"

"No; that will be all," Lucius said and Wispy left again.

"What's this?" Draco asked curiously, getting to his feet; He walked over to the crate and slowly pulled the blanket off; when the blanket was clear everyone gasped. Lying there sleeping on a cushion of white velvet was the pale blue dragon that Hadrian had purchased the day before.

"A miniature Sentinel," Narcissa gasped, "Wherever did you-Hadrian, these are very rare; where did you find it?"

"In the pet shop in Diagon Alley," Hadrian replied, watching Draco anxiously, "Do you like it Dray?"

"Are you insane?" Draco scoffed, "Of course I like it; he's amazing." Draco lifted the lid off the crate and the dragon immediately opened its eyes; it opened its mouth in a wide yawn and then stood on its back legs so it could look around. The dragon's eyes immediately rested on Draco, and the blond held out his hand, allowing the dragon to get his scent; the dragon must have approved, because he chirped happily, and allowed Draco to lift him out of the crate. Draco cradled the small dragon in his arms as he re-joined Hadrian on the couch; the dragon stretched out its neck to sniff the dark-haired boy and gave that approving chirp again before settling in Draco's arms.

"I don't think he has a name," Hadrian said, "So what will you call him?"

"I think Arden is a good name," Draco replied, looking down at the dragon he asked, "What do you think?" The dragon looked up at him with wide blue eyes and nuzzled his hand.

"Arden it is then," Lucius said approvingly, "We should head into the ballroom before the guests start arriving." Everyone stood up, and Arden climbed up to curl around Draco's shoulders; Draco reached out and wrapped one arm around Hadrian's waist. Arden lifted his head to sniff at Hadrian's hair before settling back down around Draco's shoulders. The small group left the family parlor with Hadrian and Draco trailing behind as they headed for the ballroom.

Twenty minutes later Hadrian was standing by the refreshment table with Severus and Tom, watching as Draco and his parents greeted the party guests; Bella had vanished soon after the first guests arrived and Hadrian suspected she was up to something nasty, but when he mentioned it to Severus and Tom they both assured him that the house elves would be watching her.

"Have you had a chance to look through the books we picked up from Gringott's yesterday?" Hadrian asked Tom.

"Yes," Tom answered in a low voice, "Salazar wrote much of it in Parseltongue, however I have managed to translate one of the books; it details potions that can be used to counter the damage-both mental and physical-caused by using or being subjected to dark curses. Severus has been reading my translations and he found the description of a potion that should heal Bellatrix and the Longbottom's, but the actual instructions and ingredients for the potions are written using a combination of Parseltongue, Runes and Arithmancy."

"At the front of the book-the first page is the only one not written in Parseltongue-Slytherin states that he wrote his books in such a fashion because he did not want them to be read by anyone unworthy," Severus said drily, "So while Tom has translated the Parseltongue we are still working on the Runes and Arithmancy."

"Hermione takes both of those classes," Hadrian said, "Maybe after Draco and I talk to her she can help."

"Draco can help as well, now that you mention it," Severus mused, "He can at least help with Arithmancy. That reminds me-during this summer we will be seeing to your education to get you up to the level you should be at, and you will learn-at the very least-the basics of Arithmancy and Runes; if you were planning to take Care of Magical Creatures or Divination again you can forget it."

"You can't tell me what classes to take!" Hadrian protested, "That's up to me!"

"Actually, as your father I do get to have a say in your education," Tom interrupted, "But we can discuss this later. For now, Severus and I should go mingle among the other adults-your peers seem hesitant to approach you while we stand here."

"If you really have to," Hadrian frowned, "If someone messes with me can I hex them?"

"I would be disappointed in you if you didn't," Tom replied, "I'll be nearby if you need me Hadrian." Hadrian nodded his understanding and watched as his father and Severus melted into the crowd; once they were out of sight Hadrian turned back to the refreshment table and got a cup of punch. It wasn't long before some of Draco's friends decided to approach him.

"So, Potter, Draco's tells us that you came crawling to him, begging for Sanctuary," Pansy Parkinson sneered as she, Blaise Zabini and Theodore Nott stepped forward to confront him; "What's the matter? Did your relative's refuse to let you watch the-what's that thing Theo? With the moving pictures Muggles like?"

"The Telly," Hadrian replied, "Honestly Parkinson-if you're trying to insult someone you should at least make sure you have your facts straight. As for why I'm here, well it's really none of your business, but the Muggles do have something to do with it, and so does Dumbledore."

"I knew it," Theo said with an air of satisfaction, "You came here to spy for Albus Dumbledore; I just want to know how you convinced the Malfoy's to let you stay."

"I'm sure they know why he's really here," Blaise said, "They probably just think that they can corrupt him; so, is it working Chosen One? Has Draco corrupted you yet?"

"I'm not here as a spy," Hadrian rolled his eyes, "As for being corrupted...it hasn't happened yet, but not for lack of trying on his part. Besides, do you really think Vol-the Dark Lord would let me stay here-alive-if I was spying for Dumbledore? If you want to know the truth, I found out some things about Dumbledore that has made me rethink whose side I should be on; the Dark Lord may be evil, but at least he doesn't hide it behind twinkling blue eyes and a smile."

"So, you really have switched sides," Pansy said musingly, "Draco said as much, but I thought he was joking." She tilted her head thoughtfully before smiling and sliding closer to Hadrian. "Well Harry-can I call you Harry?" She didn't wait for a response but continued; "If you have gotten Draco's approval then that means you're practically one of us; I'm sure you don't want to spend all your time cooped up in the manor with him, he can be a very high maintenance friend. If you ever...desire company of a different sort, I would be more than happy to entertain you." She made as if to lay her hand on Hadrian's arm, so he stepped back, shaking his head.

"Sorry Parkinson, but I don't think Draco would like that too much," he said, "I'd be happy to get to know his friends though, since we'll probably be seeing more of each other."

"Ooh! That was a total rejection Pansy!" Blaise said gleefully, "Looks like even a half-blood like Potter has more sense than to mess with you!"

"How dare you Zabini?!" Pansy glared at the Italian; "I was not trying to hit on Potter; I was just being friendly, as a favor to Draco! You know that Draco is the only one for me; if I really wanted Potter I could get him though."

"Hmm, I don't know about that," Hadrian turned to look at Theo; "I have a suspicion that nothing you can do would ever get Potter for you; am I right?"

"That's...I...I'm not interested," Hadrian mumbled, looking away, "I think I should go; I'll talk to you guys later."

"Not so fast," Pansy said, reaching out and grabbing his arm; she tilted her head up to look at Hadrian and batted her eyelashes, "The music will be starting soon, and it's only polite for you to ask me to dance. You don't want to be rude, do you Harry?"

"Um, actually, my being rude might be the only thing saving your life right now," Hadrian said nervously as he saw Draco glare in their direction; the blond turned his back on the wizard who had been wishing him a happy birthday and began stalking towards Hadrian. "Really Pansy; you should let me go now." Hadrian tried to pry the Slytherin girl's fingers off his arm, but she just tightened her grip.

"Now don't be like that," Pansy purred, sliding her arms up to encircle Hadrian's neck, "Draco and I aren't together right now, so he can't get mad at us. It's just one dance Harry."

"I wouldn't bet on that," Hadrian replied, "Pansy, you need to get off me now." He put his hands on the Slytherin girls' shoulders and tried to push her away, but she simply changed her grip so that her arms were around his waist instead.

"You know Pans, I think you should listen to Potter," Blaise had noticed Draco heading towards him, and the blond looked pissed; "Come on Pansy; I'll dance with you." He took hold of Pansy's arm, but the brunette girl shook him off with a glare.

"Stop it Blaise!" she snapped, "If I didn't know better I would think that you're interested in Potter." Hadrian took advantage of the brief distraction to slip away from Pansy and head off Draco. When he was a few feet away from the blond Hadrian noticed that Draco's Veela features had made an appearance and knew that he needed to get Draco out of there before he attacked the idiotic Pansy.

"Tillie!" Hadrian called, taking hold of Draco's arm as the house elf appeared; "Bedroom; now!" Tillie apparently understood, for she quickly Apparated the boys to Draco's room. "Ward it so that no one can enter or leave until I call for you, and tell Narcissa and Lucius that I will let them know what's going on as soon as I can." Hadrian fought to stay calm even as he heard Draco's growl and felt clawed hands wrap around his upper arms; "Go! Now!" Tillie gave a frightened squeak, and Hadrian felt strong magic wash over the room as she disappeared. He didn't have time to think on it however, for Draco used his grip to spin the brunet around and push him forcefully up against the wall. Draco leaned in close and sniffed Hadrian for a moment before growling lowly and meeting wide green eyes with cold grey.

"You let her touch you," Draco said accusingly, "You smell like her."

"I didn't-" Draco slammed his hand against the wall next to Hadrian's head, making the smaller boy fall silent; "You are mine!" Hadrian swallowed nervously as Draco grabbed a fistful of his locks and pulled his head back, forcing him to meet angry steel eyes. He silently cursed Pansy, as he realized that, thanks to her actions, he now had to deal with an irate, homicidal Veela...

Chapter Text

"You are mine!" Hadrian shivered at the anger emanating from the Veela in front of him; he'd known he was in trouble when Pansy latched onto his arm, but he'd had no idea Draco would be quite so angry at him for something the Slytherin girl did. It wasn't as if he wanted Pansy to touch him! Draco's eyes were like steel at the moment, and they glowed with a sort of inner light that made him beautiful despite the anger; Hadrian reminded himself that the other boy wouldn't hurt him-well the grip on his hair was a little painful, but he decided to ignore it for now-and tried to explain.
"I'm sorry," Hadrian figured an apology was the best way to start off, "I know I wasn't supposed to let anyone touch me, and I didn't mean to; she just grabbed my arm and started telling me to dance with her, but I think she was trying to get your attention. I don't like Pansy, and-"
"Did you tell her you were mine?" Draco demanded with narrowed eyes.
"I didn't know if you wanted me to," Hadrian replied truthfully, "I thought that if you wanted your friends to know about me-about us-that you would have told them. Dray, I-"
"Go take a shower," Draco interrupted, abruptly letting go of Hadrian's hair and stepping away from the brunet, "I can't talk to you when you smell like her." He turned so that he was facing the window, purposefully not looking at Hadrian.
"Does this mean I get to pick out my own clothes after I shower?" Hadrian asked, trying to dispel the tension in the Veela's stance.
"Of course not," Draco scoffed, and Hadrian was happy to hear the tiniest note of amusement in the blonde's voice, "I will take care of choosing your outfit."
"Don't know why I even bother," Hadrian muttered as he walked past Draco towards the blonde's larger bathroom, "They treat me like I'm a bloody five-year-old who doesn't know how to dress himself."
"There's an idea," Draco said as Hadrian was closing the bathroom door, "Perhaps I should dress you from now on."
"Don't even think about it," Hadrian glared at the Veela's smirk, "If you try to physically dress me I'll…I'll…I'll hex you!" With a final glare he slammed the door to the sound of Draco's amused laughter.
Fifteen minutes later Hadrian had finished his shower and used his wand to dry off; there was a dark blue bathrobe hanging on the back of the door, and Hadrian pulled it on before exiting the bathroom, using the door that opened into his own bedroom rather than Draco's room. Hadrian was surprised to find that his bedroom was empty and there weren't any clothes laid out for him.
"What a surprise," Hadrian said drily as he moved towards his closet, "Looks like I get to pick out my own clothes after all."
"Not so fast," Hadrian spun around to see Draco leaning nonchalantly against the doorframe, watching him with silver eyes; his Veela features had begun to recede so that only the long canines and the molten silver eyes remained, but Hadrian could still sense Draco's power swirling around the room.
"I have something in my room for you to wear," Draco looked at Hadrian expectantly until Hadrian rolled his eyes and walked towards the doorway connecting the two rooms; as he passed through it, Draco stepped up behind Hadrian and wrapped his arms around the younger boy's waist, gently nuzzling his neck.
"Draco," Hadrian sighed, "Your guests will be wondering where you are."
"Let them wonder," Draco murmured, his lips brushing against Hadrian's neck, "This is much better-I don't smell that whore on you anymore." He breathed in Hadrian's scent and purred softly, sending small shivers up the brunet's spine, "Now you smell like me." He pressed his lips to the side of Hadrian's neck, lightly scraping it with his elongated canines and making the younger boy shudder.
"Well, I am wearing your robe," Hadrian said reasonably, hoping that Draco didn't notice the faint tremble in his voice, "Where…" Hadrian shook his head-having Draco nuzzling his neck and inhaling his scent was very distracting-"Where are the clothes you want me to wear."
"Hmmm? On the bed," Draco replied; he stepped back slightly, allowing Hadrian to pull away and walk towards the bed. The brunet was just leaning down to pick up the new outfit when he felt hands on his hips; he spun around and gasped in shock as Draco pushed him down onto the bed, quickly climbing on top of him and trapping Hadrian's hands on the bed beside his head.
"Draco!" Hadrian squirmed, trying to get away, "What are you doing? Let me up!"
"No," Draco spoke calmly, but then he let out a low growl as he leaned in until his face was just centimeters from Hadrian's; "You let her touch you, after I specifically warned you against letting anyone get too close. I think I need to show everyone just who you belong to."
"I'm not a possession!" Hadrian argued hotly, trying to free his wrists from Draco's grip, "Just because I'm your Mate or whatever that doesn't mean I belong to-mmph!" Hadrian's protest was cut off when Draco leaned forward and pressed their lips together harshly, his tongue invading Hadrian's mouth forcefully; Hadrian fought against it at first, still irritated at Draco's possessive statements, but then the blond softened the kiss, nipping lightly at Hadrian's bottom lip and Hadrian felt himself melting. Hadrian stopped fighting to get away and tilted his head a little, giving himself up to the sensation of Draco's soft lips moving against his own.
"Yes," Draco purred softly, pulling back to look at the flushed face below him, "Mine." He leaned in and pressed their lips together once more, but gently this time, coaxing Hadrian to reciprocate. When the brunet turned his head away to get his breath back Draco began trailing kisses down his neck; since Hadrian was no longer struggling Draco released his hold on the other boys wrists and instead smoothed his hands down across Hadrian's shoulders…his chest…down to his waist where he untied the belt on the bathrobe Hadrian was wearing.
The feeling of cool air against his skin drew a sharp hiss from Hadrian, and then Draco was trailing his lips down across his collarbone; Draco used one hand to prop himself up a little, while he trailed the other one further down his Mates' body, his fingers gently brushing against Hadrian's cock, which had begun stirring interestedly.
"Draco-no," Hadrian protested breathlessly; he reached down to pull Draco's hand away, "Don't-I'm not…I'm not ready for…to…you said no sex until I was ready."
"Hmmm," Draco agreed, allowing the brunet to pull his hand away as he pressed a gentle kiss to the corner of Hadrian's mouth, "No sex, but that doesn't mean we can't do other things. Just relax Hades."
“I’m not ready for this yet, Draco,” Hadrian insisted, “It’s only been two days since I realized I wanted to be with you.”
“You let Pansy touch you,” Draco growled, eyes flashing silver again, “but you won’t let me?” Hadrian could feel a build-up of magical energy swirling around them, encouraging him to submit. This just served to piss him off.
“I didn’t let her touch me like this!” Hadrian glared back at the blond, “I never will, either! But I’m not going to have sex with you just because you’re angry at her for touching me! You have no fucking right to use your magic against me like this!” Hadrian felt his own magic respond to his anger, and watched in satisfaction as Draco was pushed away from him. Hadrian stood up and summoned his wand, aiming it at the Veela in front of him.
“You would curse me?” Draco’s silver eyes widened, darkening to grey, “You-you are rejecting me.” The blond’s voice trembled, not in anger as Hadrian had expected, but something like hurt instead. Hadrian watched as Draco’s whole body seemed to droop, and he gave a sigh of exasperation.
“I don’t want to hex you,” Hadrian said, “But I will if you don’t listen to me. All she did was grab my arm-she wanted a dance and I told her no, but she wouldn’t listen. I was trying to get away from her when you saw us. I don’t want her, and I’m not rejecting you. I’m not ready to have sex, and I’m not going to let you fuck me just because Parkinson doesn’t understand the word “no”. I’ll wear your clothes though, and we can tell everyone about our relationship when we get back to the party.”
“And you’ll stay away from Pansy,” Draco added, but his voice was still soft and uncertain.
“I’ll stay away from her until you feel comfortable,” Hadrian agreed, “You said she is your friend, and I don’t want that to change just because of me.”
“You’re more important to me than her,” Draco said, “You’re more important than anyone else. If they can’t accept you-”
“We’ll give them a chance first,” Hadrian interrupted, “Right now, no one knows about us, and it might take time for people to get used to it.” Hadrian suddenly realized that he was standing there, having a conversation with Draco while his robe was wide open, giving the blond a good look at his front. He quickly dropped his wand on the bed and began to get dressed in the clothes Draco had picked out for him. He kept his back to the Veela until he was dressed, then turned around to find that Draco was standing right behind him, less than two feet away. “I won’t let you use your Veela-ness to take advantage of me though.”
“I know,” Draco replied, reaching up to cup his cheek with one hand, “I’m glad you stopped me, because I want our first time together to be about us; not anyone else. I’m sorry for overreacting.”
“Okay, I forgive you,” Hadrian said, leaning in to give the blond a chaste kiss, “Are you ready to go back down to your party now?”
“I suppose we should go back,” Draco conceded, “Mother and Father will be worried-I left Arden with Mother-and I cannot imagine Tom being happy with what just transpired. We will, however, be informing everyone that you are my mate so we don’t have any further incidents like this.”
“You say that like you expect an argument from me,” Hadrian laughed, taking Draco’s hand and walking towards the door, “I already told you, the only reason I didn’t tell Pansy about being mates is because I wasn’t sure if you wanted me to. Oh, I guess I should call Tillie to take down the ward. Tillie!”
A few minutes later, Hadrian and Draco arrived at the top of the staircase, where they found Severus waiting for them. The Potions Master cast a privacy ward before speaking.
"Hadrian, Draco-is everything alright?" Severus asked.
"Everything is fine now," Draco said, "Although I would recommend keeping Pansy away from us for the remainder of the evening." He scowled at the thought of the Slytherin girl, and for a moment his eyes-which had returned to normal before they came downstairs-flashed silver.
"Narcissa has already taken care of it," Severus assured him as he looked over Hadrian, checking for any signs of injury; "Are you alright Hadrian?" From the research he had done he knew that jealousy often caused Veela to be harsh with their mates, and no one wanted to see Tom try and fight the Veela for hurting his son.
"I'm fine Severus," Hadrian replied, "Just dreading all the stares I know we'll face."
"They had better not stare at you if they know what's good for them," Draco growled, wrapping a possessive arm around his mates' waist; "I can't promise that I will be able to control my instincts the next time I perceive someone as a threat. What is Mother telling the guests?"
"She is planning to tell them the truth," Severus replied, "Or part of it, at least; Hadrian claimed Sanctuary after being abused by the Muggles, and you granted it, then you discovered last night that he was your Mate and therefore no one is to approach him without your permission. Also, as it is inevitable that someone will slip up and actually call him Hadrian in front of the guests, she will tell them that "Harry Potter" agreed to adopt the name "Hadrian" so that he could better fit in with his new family and distance himself from the Muggles he grew up with."
"That should work nicely," Draco nodded, "I am ready to go back in-Hades?"
"I'm ready," Hadrian agreed, stepping out of Draco's hold and instead linking arms with his Veela; Severus gave them a brief smile before cancelling the privacy charm and leading them downstairs and back into the ballroom.
As they entered the room, Narcissa made her announcement-adding that paying too much attention to Harry-now-called-Hadrian would earn them animosity from her Veela son and that he would likely attack first and ask questions later. With the explanation-and warnings-given the boys once again mingled among the guests, but this time Draco kept his arm firmly around his Mate. Arden was also by the boy's side; the little dragon had turned down Draco's offer to pick him up and instead walked in front of the boy's as they traversed the ballroom, sitting down directly in front of them whenever they stopped.
At one point Theo and Blaise had come up and apologized for Pansy's behavior, and Draco had brusquely informed them that the only person responsible for Pansy's actions was Pansy herself. Once that was over with the four settled down to talk for a bit; now that Draco had mingled for a while he was free to actually enjoy himself and he transfigured a couple of chairs into a loveseat for him and Hadrian to share.
"So, Draco, what made you decide to grant Potter Sanctuary before you knew he was your mate?" Theo questioned, taking one of the empty chairs while Blaise took the other; "Weren't you worried that you would make the Dark Lord angry?"
"Everyone knows that Veela instincts can kick in early if the Veela's mate is seriously injured," Draco began, "and when Potter came to me seeking sanctuary he was in a lot of pain, although the stupid Gryffindor tried to hide it."
"Hey!" Hadrian protested, "I didn't know if I could trust you-I'm surprised I even thought to ask for Sanctuary, since I only heard Sirius mention it once!"
"Yes, well regardless, Hadrian here was on the verge of passing out," Draco continued, unperturbed by the interruption, "I didn't notice that at first though; I ordered us some lunch, and I was trying to convince him to eat when he suddenly screamed and toppled over, unconscious. I noticed blood seeping through his shirt and-well, the injuries were very bad; I applied a healing salve but they came back worse than before, so I called Severus for help. I started feeling very protective over him, which I now realize was caused by my Veela instincts. The Dark Lord found out what happened and decided to honor the customs of Sanctuary and see if we can't get Hadrian to switch sides."
"Which I am seriously considering, after what I've gone through the past few days," Hadrian said, leaning into Draco and smiling when Arden climbed up on the loveseat to lay across their laps, "I mean, my supposed enemies have treated me ten times better than the adults who were supposed to protect me ever have." Arden let out a soft growl and Hadrian smiled down at him, scratching behind his ears.
"I can't believe the Gryffindor Golden Boy is actually consorting with Slytherins and Dark Wizards-"
"And the Dark Lord; oh my!" Hadrian interrupted Blaise; the three pure bloods looked at him in confusion, but Snape-who happened to be passing by-couldn't help but let out a small snicker. "Um, it's kind of from a Muggle movie," Hadrian explained, "There's this girl named Dorothy who winds up in the magical land of Oz and she has to defeat an evil witch in order to go back home. Well, at one point they-that's Dorothy and her companions, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow-are walking through this forest and they start worrying about all the wild animals that could be there and they start saying; 'Lions and Tigers and Bears; Oh my!' and then they actually meet a lion, but he's the Cowardly Lion and he's scared of them more than they are scared of him and…" he trailed off at the blank looks Draco and his friends were giving him; "Never mind."
"Drakey! What's going on?" They all looked up at the screech, and Hadrian shivered at Draco's low growl as the Veela pulled him closer until he was actually sitting in Draco's lap; the dragon didn't seem upset at his displacement, but rather stood in front of them, also growling at the Slytherin girl; "Potter took off with you earlier, and then your mother told me not to speak with you; I don't understand Drakey!"
"Understand this," Draco glared at her, and the girl took a small step back at the low growl she could hear in his voice, "Hadrian is mine; you will stay away from my mate if you value your life."
"Who? Oh, you mean Potter?" Pansy sneered, "What would I want with him? I was only being nice earlier because your family offered him sanctuary, but he obviously has no manners as he turned down my gracious offer of a dance. Really; what would I want with a pathetic little Half-blood? The Dark Lord will dispose of him eventually anyway." Throughout her speech Draco's growl had been getting louder, and Hadrian could once again feel talons pressing against his skin, although they didn't actually pierce it.
"What part of 'he is my mate' don't you understand?" Draco demanded, tightening his grip on Hadrian as he fought the urge to rip Pansy's head off; Hadrian didn't fight it but leaned more solidly into the Veela, and his mate's scent helped Draco keep his hold on sanity, "Hadrian is my mate; I have no desire to be with anyone other than him, and anyone who gets between us will die a slow and painful death. Crabbe! Goyle!" The two bigger boys, Draco's body guards ever since they had been children, stepped forward and looked at Draco, waiting for his instructions. "Get her out of here before I kill the stupid bint." The two Slytherin's mumbled an agreement and took hold of Pansy's arms, but someone else intervened.
"It's alright boys," Severus said silkily, "I will take care of Miss Parkinson; it seems she needs a lesson on Veela's and their mates. Come girl, before you provoke Draco any further." Arden looked back at Draco and then followed Severus and Pansy, growling at the girl and obviously making her uncomfortable as Severus lead her away from the party.
"Calm down now Dray," Hadrian said softly, relaxing into the Slytherin's hold and laying his head back on Draco's shoulder; "Severus and Arden will take care of her; she shouldn't bother us again tonight."
"Stupid bint," Draco muttered, turning his head so that he could smell Hadrian's hair, the scent helping him to calm down, "I think she wants to die."
"She never did know how to let go gracefully," Blaise commented, watching the interaction between his best friend and the former Golden Boy; "I'll try to keep her away from you until she comes to her senses."
"Ha!" Theo scoffed, "You'll be waiting a while for that! Pansy is like a dog with a bone; she doesn't know when to stop, or how to give in. Never-the-less, I shall also endeavor to keep her away from you. Are you okay now Draco?"
"I was always okay," Draco returned with a sneer, "It was that useless Parkinson who was almost in trouble." He pressed a soft kiss to the side of Hadrian's neck, relishing in the shiver it produced. "I do, however, thank you for your offer of assistance-I really would hate to have to kill someone this early on in the relationship. Crabbe-you and Goyle may go now." The two lumbering Slytherin's left without another word-not that they had actually said anything to begin with.
"What are you going to do if the Dark Lord does decide that he needs to get rid of Potter?" Theo asked, "You know the prophesy as well as I do."
"I don't think that will happen," Hadrian replied with a smile, "The…Dark Lord and I have already spoken and, well, we've come to an agreement." He paused for a moment and then tilted his head back to look at Draco; "You can tell the rest if you want; I don't think they would betray us-it's not in their best interest."
"I agree," Draco nodded, "I will tell them-after supper. Theo, Blaise-after I open my presents Hadrian and I need to talk to you; we haven't told you the full truth yet, but I think you deserve to know exactly what we found out, and why the Dark Lord is no longer set on killing my mate." Blaise and Theo nodded their agreement as Arden came trotting back over to them, followed by a bemused Severus.
"Arden lit her robes on fire," Snape informed them, "Needless to say, Miss Parkinson was not pleased and she left for the evening. Now come; Narcissa said it is time for dinner and presents."
Dinner passed uneventfully, and then Draco opened his presents. Many of the gifts were expensive but fairly useless, meant to show the giver's status, while a few were actually useful, things Draco could use in school-even if they were a bit ostentatious, such as the ostrich-feather and gold quill and the set of potions vials made of diamond. Draco's second gift from his parents was a weeks' vacation for two at a popular wizarding resort for teens, Severus gave him a small line of credit at a prominent potions ingredient shop, and Tom gave him a gift certificate to an exclusive restaurant in Paris. When he opened the dragon figurines and saw the sigil etched into the wings, Draco was hard-pressed to hide his excitement as he looked up at Hadrian, who was standing beside his chair.
"Hades-these are-do you have any idea what these are?"
"Dragon figurines?" Hadrian replied with a cheeky smile, "And yes, I know that they were made by Isabella Slytherin-George pointed out the markings to me. So, I guess you like them?"
"They are amazing," Draco said, when Arden let out a soft growl he added, "Almost as amazing as Arden. In fact, I don't think I've appropriately expressed how much I appreciate the gifts you've given me." Without any warning, Draco pulled Hadrian into his lap and thoroughly kissed the brunet in front of everyone.
"No Tom, don't interrupt," Narcissa placed a hand on Tom's arm as he moved towards the boys, no doubt intent on separating them.
"This behavior is highly inappropriate," Tom protested, "You can't tell me you approve of this!"
"Why yes, we do approve of Draco showing appreciation to his mate," Lucius drawled, "After all, he is a Veela-it is a natural instinct."
"And, if you were to interfere Draco could very well see you as a threat," Severus pointed out, "I'd hate to hex my godson to stop him from killing you." Tom glared at them all and the guests held their collective breaths; they were all somewhat disappointed when he merely said;
"Very well; I shall leave them be-for now." About this time Draco finally broke the kiss and the party resumed-although he refused to let Hadrian retreat to his own chair. Once all the presents had been opened and the cake was served the guests broke into smaller groups and Draco, Hadrian, Theo and Blaise retired to the small parlor down the hall. Hadrian once again shared a couch with Draco, and Arden lay across their laps, his head resting on Draco's thigh.
"So, what terrible secret are you getting ready to burden us with?" Theo asked nonchalantly as he draped himself in a chair-Hadrian couldn't help but notice that he wasn't nearly as graceful as Draco, and he smirked a little as he leaned against the blond.
"First you both have to swear not to tell anyone else without our permission," Draco stated, "This is very important and very few people know; the Dark Lord is one of those people however, so you will not be able to blackmail us."
"Take all the fun out of it why don't you?" Blaise said teasingly, and then he and Theo made a wizard's promise to keep the information secret.
"I guess you want me to start it off again?" Hadrian asked with a sigh, "I'm getting really tired of having to tell the story over and over again."
"Well, after this we could make a copy of our memories and place them in a pensieve," Draco suggested, "Although I think that would take longer than just telling the story."
"You're right," Hadrian nodded, stroking Arden's scales as he-once again-told the story about what he had gone through the past few days; "The other night I overheard my aunt and uncle talking to Dumbledore about how he was paying them to neglect me and such, then he gave them permission to physically abuse me and also gave them some potions to stop me from fighting back. My uncle and cousin beat me pretty badly but I managed to escape and wound up here, where I passed out from blood loss and Draco and Severus saved me. Then Tom-the Dark Lord-showed up and said he wasn't going to kill me and they had Draco and me watch some memories where we discovered Dumbledore is the bad guy, Tom is my dad, and I have a mom and a twin sister who are still alive somewhere in America. Also, Hermione is not a Muggleborn-Bellatrix is her mom-and Dumbledore Imperiused Bellatrix and her husband, forcing them to Crucio Neville's parents into insanity. Ginny is not actually a Weasley-she is the Potter's-James and Lily's-real child and…I think that's it, right Dray?"
"Yes, that about covers the basics," Draco confirmed, "Although I can see Theo and Blaise are having trouble believing you."
"You have to admit it's farfetched," Theo arched a brow, "I mean, Dumbledore, the paragon of light , is actually evil and the Dark Lord-"
"Whose real name is Tom," Blaise supplied helpfully.
"-the Dark Lord is actually your father," Theo continued, "not to mention crazy Bella is the Mudblood Granger's mom, only Granger isn't a Mudblood, and the blood-traitor Weaslette is actually the Potter heir? Next you'll tell me the Dark Lord is all for the mingling of wizards and Muggles."
"Of course not," Hadrian scoffed, "He still thinks our worlds should be separated, he just knows that there are better ways to go about it than killing anyone who doesn't agree. Although, he does still plan to kill Dumbledore, something I agree with. I guess you'd like to see the memories before you believe me?"
"Not trying to call you a liar, but yeah; the memories would help," Blaise said, "I don't suppose you have them with you?"
"Of course I do," Draco replied, pulling the small vial of memories out of his pocket, "This holds the last bit of memories; that should be enough for you to see that we are telling the truth. We don't have a pensieve, but Fred taught me a spell to bring the memories up on a sort of viewing screen; will that be acceptable?"
"Yes," Theo agreed and Blaise nodded, "But why don't you just borrow your parents' pensieve?"
"Because we aren't supposed to be sharing the memories with anyone," Draco replied, "They don't want us involved, so we decided to take things into our own hands." Arden chirped his agreement, lightly hitting Hadrian with his tail.
"Very well," Theo said, "I'm ready to view the memories." Draco nodded, pulled the stopper out of the bottle and0 said the incantation to let them all view the memories.
"I guess Fred helped you separate the memories too?" Hadrian asked once the memories started playing on the screen; he had erected a privacy spell around Theo and Blaise so that no one outside of the room would hear the memories.
"Yes," Draco replied, "I was telling him how inconvenient it was to wait while people viewed the entire set of memories, so he made a copy of every memory we saw and then separated them so that we could choose which ones to play. You know, you really need to go through your belongings back in our room; I'm sure you have a bunch of junk in the bottom of your trunk that can be thrown away."
"You're probably right," Hadrian grinned, "I never really clean it out-I just throw the top layer of trash out at the end of each year and put my new books and such on top."
"Well, we'll go through it and get you a new trunk for this year," Draco said, "Something with different compartments so that you can find things more easily. Perhaps we can go Monday when Mother goes to the ministry to be appointed as your guardian."
"Or we can go when we get our school lists," Hadrian shrugged, "It's not like I'll need it before then. I was also thinking that tomorrow we should take a look at those books; I believe Tom and your dad were working on the journals, but we can translate the potions books."
"I'm interested to see what sort of potions are in there," Draco agreed, "Do you get the feeling that they are purposefully keeping us from the actual journals?"
"You think so too? I think they're afraid of what we might find," Hadrian said, "There's no telling what sort of spells and such Mathias and his wife recorded;" he frowned thoughtfully before adding, "We should try to get ahold of them if we can, but don't let them know what we're doing; they haven't forbidden us from reading the books, so we can't get in trouble for it."
"Very Slytherin of you Hades," Draco said approvingly, "It looks like Theo and Blaise are done." He quickly took down the silencing spell and looked at his friends; "Well?"
"We believe you," Theo said, after sharing a quick glance with Blaise, "The question is, what do you plan to do now?"
"Well, our parents had an organization called the 'Order of the Black Rose' and they are planning to start it up again," Draco began, "But, of course, they won't allow us to join-"
"Which is why we are going to start our own organization," Hadrian finished, "We already have Neville, Luna and the Weasley twins on our side, so are you two willing to join us?"
"Join you in doing what, exactly?" Blaise demanded, "You still haven't told us your plan." Draco growled lowly at Blaise's tone, only relaxing when Hadrian rested his head on the blonde's shoulder and Arden gave a soft, reassuring chirrup.
"Well, to fight against Dumbledore, of course," Hadrian's tone said that he thought it was obvious, "Not outright fighting him, like with hexes and such, but undermining his authority and uniting the school against him. In addition, we want to reach out to everyone who has been negatively affected by his meddling and show them what truly happened."
"Well, as long as you aren't planning to just run at him with swords drawn and wands blazing, I'd like to help," Blaise said, "From what I saw in that last memory…Dumbledore is far more evil than we ever thought the Dark Lor-what should we call him?"
"The Dark Lord," Draco replied promptly, "He doesn't know we've told you the truth yet, so you should still refer to him as you would have before tonight. Do you two have any other questions?"
"What do you plan to do next?" Theo asked, "It seems that there is much to be done if we are going to make Dumbledore pay for his interference; we are going to make him pay, right?"
"Eventually," Draco nodded, "but we have to move carefully-we don't want him to know that we know what he did."
"Is Hadrian really your mate then?" Blaise asked curiously, "Or was all that just for show so that you could explain him being here."
"He is my mate and no one had better interfere," Draco growled again, and Hadrian shook his head with a sigh.
"Calm down Dray," he said, "It was a legitimate question; yes, we're mates Blaise, so you should probably tell all your friends so that they don't piss Draco off. Also, I'm getting re-sorted at the beginning of the year, and I expect I'll be in Slytherin."
"Yeah right," Theo scoffed, "Why would the Hat put you in Slytherin? You're the ultimate Gryffindor-er…no offense Draco." Theo gave Arden a wary look when the dragon growled at him too.
"Long story, but the Hat originally wanted to put me in Slytherin," Hadrian replied, moving Arden out of the way so that he could sit on Draco's lap; the Veela seemed to be cranky, as he became tense any time Blaise or Theo spoke to Hadrian, and the brunet didn't want to risk Draco attacking the other boys; Draco willing wrapped his arm around Hadrian's waist and pressed a kiss to the side of his neck. Hadrian shook his head lightly before continuing; "I had already been told all Slytherin's were evil though, so I asked it to put me somewhere else, and it chose Gryffindor." Arden snorted in what appeared to be annoyance before climbing up on the back of the couch and wrapping around Draco's shoulders.
"Interesting," Blaise said thoughtfully before getting to his feet, "Well, we-at least Theo and I-should get back to the party before someone comes looking for us. We should get everyone you've converted together sometime before school begins."
"At Hadrian's birthday party, if not before," Draco replied, "If you see my parents, tell them that Hadrian and I will be out shortly-"
"I don't think so, Son," Lucius said drily, "You have hidden away in here long enough, and we can't start the dancing without you."
"Dancing?" Hadrian groaned, "I hate dancing! I'm absolute rubbish at it."
"And neither of us can dance with anyone else," Draco pointed out, "So I really don't see the point." He crossed his arms and scowled at his father, reinforcing Hadrian's belief that the Veela was in a cranky mood.
"It is tradition," Lucius replied, "However I can see that you are in a mood, so I will give you ten minutes to collect yourself; after that you will return to the ballroom and remain for at least an hour. For every minute past ten I will add ten minutes to the time you must remain at the party, and I will insure that Hadrian sleeps in his own room tonight-is that clear?"
"Yes Father," Draco scowled; Lucius nodded in satisfaction and then motioned Theo and Blaise out the door; Arden gave a peculiar chirping sound and jumped down from the couch, following Lucius out the door, and then Hadrian and Draco were alone.
"And what has you acting all grumpy?" Hadrian demanded once the door had closed, "Every time your friends spoke to me you acted like you wanted to attack them."
"They were being disrespectful," Draco pouted, "And…just having so many people around us for these past few hours has been slowly wearing away my patience." He tightened his arm around Hadrian's waist and the brunet leaned back, tilting his head so that he could see Draco's face.
"And we all know how little patience you have to begin with," he teased the blond, earning a playful growl from his Veela.
"Yes, well I think I have shown considerable restraint by not attacking you while we still had company in the room," Draco replied before twisting around until he had Hadrian laying down on the couch beneath him, "Of course, we're alone now…"
"Dray-" Hadrian's protest was cut off as Draco leaned in and pressed their lips together in a gentle kiss that had Hadrian relaxing immediately. Hadrian wrapped his arms around Draco's neck to hold him there and hesitantly nibbled at the other boy's bottom lip; Draco's lips parted readily, and Hadrian took the initiative to invade the Veela's mouth with his tongue, mapping it out in an attempt to assert some dominance-he didn't mind Draco taking the lead most of the time, he really didn't, but he also didn't want Draco to think that he was going to sit back and let the blond do whatever he wanted. The playful battle for dominance lasted a few moments, then Draco let out a soft growl and took control of the kiss, drawing a soft moan from Hadrian; Draco shifted on top of the brunet and then lowered his hips, pressing their erections together and causing Hadrian to jerk away from the kiss with a sharp gasp. Draco smirked and trailed kisses down his neck, pressing a gentle kiss against Hadrian’s pulse, causing his mate to shiver as Draco continued to press their groins together. Before he could do anything else-like begin to get Hadrian out of his clothes-there was a loud pop and-
"Master Draco! Tillie is sorry to be interrupting, but it is being ten minutes!" The house elf sounded anxious, "Master Lucius is saying you is needing to be at party now, or else!" Draco sighed in disappointment, but the few mintues alone with Hadrian had done much to soothe his irritation.
"Fine-we will be there as soon as we straighten our clothing," Draco informed the house elf, and Tillie vanished with another pop; "This has to be the worst birthday ever," Draco complained as he slid off of Hadrian and then helped the other boy to his feet, "I can't wait until everyone goes home and it is just us."
"Yes, such a horrible birthday," the sarcasm in Hadrian's voice was pronounced, "You got a party with your friends and family, a table-full of gifts, and you managed to convince some deity to make me your mate, forcing me to be with you unless I want you to die,” He shot a glance at Draco, and found that the blond was scowling at him, "What? I was just kidding!”
"Your sense of humor leaves something to be desired," Draco replied, straightening both his and Hadrian's clothing; "Now, we will return to the party, and if you don't show me proper respect-"
"I was just kidding Dray," Hadrian interrupted, "I'm still a little shocked at how things turned out, but I'm not upset about being your mate. And you had better stop threatening me; just because you're the so-called "dominant" that doesn't mean I'm going to let you push me around." He leaned up and gave Draco a quick kiss on the cheek, "Let's go; we only have an hour and then we can leave the party."
"Fine," Draco sniffed, turning away from Hadrian, "You're such an inconsiderate mate; I want to know what deity decided to punish me by forcing me to be with you-I must have done something terrible in a past life."
"Well, of course you did," Hadrian said cheerfully, taking Draco's hand as they left the room, "You're an evil Slytherin git, remember?"
"You will pay for that statement Hades," Draco promised, "Just wait until we are alone." Hadrian met his glare with a bright smile as they re-joined the party once again.
The next hour went by fairly quickly; Hadrian and Draco danced a few times and Hadrian was surprised to find out that he was actually decent at it when he let someone else lead. They spoke to Theo and Blaise a bit more-always about innocent subjects, such as the summer homework which Hadrian had yet to start, and they also spoke to a few of the other guests. There had been one incident where an older wizard bumped into Hadrian and Draco started to lose his temper, but the man apologized to Hadrian and Draco, so the Veela let it go, although Hadrian sensed that he was disappointed at not being able to punish the man.
Aside from that incident the party went smoothly, and after the hour was up Draco and Hadrian took their leave, with Narcissa warning them that they would not be permitted to sleep in the following day. The two boys headed upstairs and changed in their separate bedrooms, after which Draco joined Hadrian in the brunet's room.
Hadrian smiled at the Veela as he knelt down in front of his trunk; after their conversation earlier he became curious to see what was actually in there, and decided to go through it before going to bed.
“Come on Dray; help me go through this stuff." Hadrian opened the trunk and first set aside the box he had stolen from his uncle's study, intending to go through it later, and then he pulled out his school books from the previous year, as well as his summer assignments; Draco immediately banished the books to a bookcase and the assignments to Hadrian’s desk, then looked on in disgust as Hadrian pulled out his clothes-Dudley's old hand-me-downs.
"The only clothing half-way decent in here is your school uniform and your underwear," Draco commented, wrinkling his nose, "Do you feel any particular attachment to the clothes?"
"No," Hadrian replied, "But I sometimes use the clothes to cushion things that might break, so just make sure there aren't any objects mixed in with the clothes before you throw them out."
The boys spent the next twenty minutes or so sorting through Hadrian's trunk; the clothes were all tossed to the side with spare scraps of parchment, old school assignments, stale candy and other trash to be picked up by the house elves when they were done. All of Hadrian's old schoolbooks as well as the handful of other books he had received over the years went on his bookshelf, as did the few personal items he had-the miniature Hungarian Horntail from the Tri-wizard Tournament, the sneak-a-scope Ron gave him in third year, the photo album of his parents-rather his cousins, since Lily was his real mom's cousin-and a few other items that he had received for Christmas over the past few years. His invisibility cloak-would he have to give that to Ginny?-and the Marauder's Map (which he was not giving up, no matter what anyone said) he placed in a hidden cabinet by his bed that would only open to his magical signature. At the very bottom of the trunk Hadrian found the penknife and the mirror that Sirius had given him the previous year; the mirror was shattered from Hadrian throwing it angrily into his trunk, but Draco assured him it could be fixed. Once the trunk was empty of everything valuable Hadrian banished all the rubbish on the bottom, and Draco summoned a house elf to get rid of the clothes and such, and then Hadrian picked up the box and followed Draco to his room, where they both sat in the window seat once again.
"Where did you get that box?" Draco asked, "And why does it say 'Freak' on the lid?"
"I took it from my uncles study before I ran away," Hadrian replied with a shrug, "I don't know what's in it, but I'm guessing it's mine-either that or it belonged to James and Lily. I-I'm not sure if I want to deal with whatever is inside it tonight; maybe I should wait until tomorrow to look through it."
"Whatever you like Hades," Draco said agreeably, "We need to really get started on our summer work tomorrow as well, and we should look at that journal. I wish we could get a hold of Slytherin's books…"
"Maybe…if I talk to Tom alone he'll let me see them," Hadrian mused, "It's worth a shot, right?"
"Definitely," Draco nodded, "So, after breakfast tomorrow we can go through your box, then we will begin our homework and after lunch we can start translating that book, which will leave us with the rest of the evening to relax." Draco let out a yawn and got to his feet; "I don't know about you, but I'm ready for bed."
"Yeah, I think I am too," Hadrian replied, "Why do I feel so drained?"
"Since you were in the room with me when I reached my inheritance the magic probably affected you as well," Draco replied, "Have you felt any different today?" Harry tilted his head thoughtfully, taking Draco's offered hand and allowing the blond to pull him to his feet.
"Now that you mention it, I haven't felt as embarrassed when you kissed me and such in front of people today," Hadrian replied, "And I could also feel your magic when you got mad, and after we went back downstairs I noticed that I felt responsible for keeping you from freaking out."
"The magic from my inheritance seems to have started out bond," Draco said, "Normally we wouldn't begin to form a bond until after we both turned sixteen, but it's started early; most Veela's don't get to be around their mate until after the mate reaches the age of sixteen, so this is rather new and not very well documented."
"Of course," Hadrian rolled his eyes, "Not only do I have to be a Veela's mate, but we can't even have a normal bond.”
“Nothing about a Malfoy is ever normal,” Draco scoffed, “Malfoy’s are exceptional, and above all others. You should already know this, Hades.”
“Whatever you say, Dray,” Hadrian replied, “I’m going to bed now-and in my own room, this time.” Hadrian laughed when Draco pouted, and leaned forward to give him a chaste kiss. “It won’t kill you for us to sleep in separate rooms sometimes, prat. If it does start affecting you badly, you know where I am.”
“What if I need you nearby so my magic can finish settling?” Draco demanded, “Sometimes it doesn’t settle for several days after an Inheritance.”
“Most Veela go through that without their mate,” Hadrian pointed out, recalling previous conversations, “So I’m sure you’ll be fine. You’re just coming up with excuses to keep me in here, but sometimes I’m going to want time to myself.”
“Fine,” Draco sighed, “I suppose I can live without you for one night.” He pulled Hadrian in for another kiss, then stepped away, “If you change your mind, you are always welcome to join me.”
“I’ll remember that,” Hadrian promised, “Night, Dray.”
“Sweet Dreams, Hadrian.”
Thirty minutes later, Hadrian sat up in his bed and glared at the room around him. He had been exhausted by the time he climbed into bed, but now he couldn’t fall asleep. How could he have gotten so dependent on sleeping with Draco already? Hadrian never shared a bed with anyone before-except the few times he fell asleep talking to Neville in the boys dorm-so he should be comfortable sleeping in this room-his room. The first room that was ever really his, which he had been able to decorate.
Hadrian was just debating whether he should go to Draco’s room, when his door was pushed open and Draco’s form filled the doorway, glaring at him.
“I find that I am unable to sleep without your prescence,” Draco announced, “Shall I join you, or shall we sleep in my bed?” Hadrian thought he should be angry with Draco for assuming that Hadrian would automatically agree to share a bed, but instead found he was amused with the situation-and relieved that Draco saved him the embarrassment of admitting that he wasn’t able to fall asleep without the blond prat either.
“You’re already up,” Hadrian pointed out, “So just come on already; I was almost asleep until you came barging in here.”
“Liar,” Draco accused as he entered Hadrian’s room and shut the door behind him, “I could sense you were awake as well.” Draco climbed into the bed and lay down facing Hadrian, then immediately pulled the brunet into his arms. The blond gave a soft, happy sigh and nuzzled the back of Hadrian’s neck. “This is much better,” Draco murmured. Hadrian hummed his agreement, suddenly feeling tired again. Within moments, both boys were fast asleep.

 

Chapter Text

Hadrian awoke early the next morning wrapped in Draco's arms as usual, and snuggled in closer to the blond, smiling when he felt a soft kiss on the top of his head. Hadrian lifted his head to kiss Draco on the cheek, and then slipped out of the blond's embrace and headed to the bathroom for a shower.

Hadrian took his time in the shower, enjoying the peacefulness. When he was finished, he used his wand to dry off-Lucius had already assured him that underage magic could not be traced anywhere on the manor grounds-and then covered himself with a green dressing robe before walking back to his room. He saw Arden, who had fallen asleep in a chair the night before, had moved up to his pillow, so that he was lying beside Draco, who was still asleep.

Moving quietly so as not to wake either the Veela or the dragon, Hadrian went into the closet and got dressed-he managed to find a pair of dark jeans and a red top that looked like a t-shirt but appeared to be made of silk, that was more casual than most of the other clothing-and then walked over to his bookcase, searching for the books that Narcissa had given him. There were five or six books about Veela, and one titled "Being a Veela’s Mate" by Cassiopeia Black which looked promising.

Before he had a chance to settle down and start reading, Arden jumped off the bed and gave a loud chirrup; the dragon made his way over to Hadrian and looked up at him expectantly, but Hadrian wasn’t sure what the dragon wanted. After a moment Arden made the sound again, then moved over to the door, still looking at Hadrian.

“Do you want to go outside?” Hadrian asked, “I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to go out by yourself. We should wait for Draco to wake up; I guess he’s being lazy today.”

Hadrian looked over at the bed and saw that Draco was beginning to stir, his arms reaching out for something that wasn’t there. After a moment, the Veela sat up, looking around in confusion.

"I'm over here Draco," Hadrian called softly, moving to the foot of the bed, "I woke up a while ago, and I decided to read some of the information your mom gave me about Veela."

"Why don't you come back to bed?" Draco questioned, "It's still early, and I want to hold you."

"I'm not tired," Hadrian replied, "I am starting to get hungry though, and I think Arden wants to go out; why don't you take a shower so that we can go down to breakfast together?"

"If you refuse to come back to bed I suppose I may as well get up," Draco pouted; he got out of bed, pausing a moment to stroke Arden's neck and smiling as the little dragon let out a sound suspiciously like a purr. "You'll wait for me to go down?"

"Of course," Hadrian replied, "I'd probably still get lost without you. I'll just be in here reading; come get me when you're done getting dressed."

"Someone sure is bossy this morning," Draco mock-glared at him, "Don't I even get a kiss good morning?"

"Not until you take a shower and brush your teeth," Hadrian responded, "Until then you can consider me off-limits." Hadrian stuck his tongue out and then went back to his bookcase, ignoring Draco’s irritated huff.

"Be that way then prat!" Draco retorted as he crossed to his room, "Just see if I still let you kiss me after my shower!" Hadrian just laughed, and a few minutes later he heard the shower turn on. He went back over to the bookcase and picked up the book he had seen earlier, then sat down on his bed to read it.

The book was very interesting for Hadrian, as it was written exclusively for Veela mates; it was co-written by Cassiopeia Black and Laurent Lovegood, most likely one of Luna's ancestors. Laurent was a dominant Veela and Cassiopeia his mate, and they both gave advice on how a Veela's mate could force said Veela to accept an un-wanted decision without it leading to a fight. It detailed some of the steps that occurred while the bond was forming, and the hazards of inciting the wrath of a Veela. Parkinson was really lucky that Hadrian had been able to distract Draco, otherwise the Slytherin girl would likely be dead.

Hadrian was lucky as well, because Laurent wrote that some Veela will use their Allure to complete a mate bond when they feel threatened; Draco had started to do that last night, Hadrian was sure, but he managed to snap the blond out of it. Hadrian was glad, because he would have been pissed if Draco used magic to make him complete the bond. By the time Draco finished getting ready for breakfast, Hadrian knew more about what he could expect to happen between now and the time when they completed the bond.

“Hadrian?” Draco pushed the door open, “Are you ready to come down for breakfast?”

“Yeah,” Hadrian set the book down and stood up, “Oh, you might want to send Arden to the kitchen so he can get his breakfast from the House Elves. I ordered a two-month supply of his breakfast mixture so that the elves just have to pour it in a bowl for him.”

“I hadn’t thought about what he would eat,” Draco confessed, bending down to pick up the dragonling, “Although I suppose he is still too young to hunt for his food. Do you know what is in his food mixture?”

“Animal blood and brandy,” Hadrian replied, “He should be fed twice a day for now and, in a few months, you’ll want to have the elves replace one of his meals with some raw meat. I’ll give you all the information later.”

As they walked down to breakfast, the boys continued to discuss Arden and dragons in general. When they arrived in the sunroom, both Malfoy's were already at the table and, after everyone had finished eating, they discussed what the boys could expect for the rest of the summer.

"Monday, I will be going to the ministry to make our fosterage of Hadrian legal," Narcissa informed them, "Technically, no one-not even the minister-can force Hadrian to leave us, but it is always better to have the correct paperwork filled out so as to avoid future problems. Hadrian will have to come with me to sign the paperwork, which means you will be coming as well, right Draco?"

"Of course," Draco nodded.

"Wonderful," Narcissa smiled, "Afterwards we will apply to get Hadrian re-sorted at the beginning of the year, and we can apply to make changes to your classes if needed as well. The story we put around last night about "Harry" wanting to go by a new name will also make it possible for him to actually go by his true name at school as well, and Dumbledore should not suspect anything."

"Once you get back from the ministry you will both need to complete your summer work," Lucius continued, "We expect you to have it finished within the next two weeks so that Severus and I can check it; this will give you plenty of time to make any corrections necessary. You will have from the time breakfast ends until lunch to do your schoolwork every day. After lunch you will have a few hours to yourself until tea time, after which you will have lessons with one of us; Severus will work with you further on potions, Occlumency and Legilimency, as well as performing non-verbal spells. Tom will go over Dark Arts-both defensive and offensive magic- and I will go over fencing and dueling. Narcissa will work with you on wizarding history, transfiguration and charms, and Tom and I both will help you with practical matters, such as learning how to manage your family accounts. Any questions?"

"Is this every day?" Draco demanded, "Or will we at least get the weekends off?"

"If you do well during the week then you will have your weekends free," Lucius replied, "and you will have more time to yourselves once you complete your schoolwork."

"Draco gets very irritable when we are around other people too much," Hadrian spoke up, "I know we have a lot to learn, but it might be a good idea if we have more than a few hours a day to ourselves; I swear he was about to hex Blaise and Theo last night while we were talking."

"I didn't like the way they were looking at you," Draco said sullenly.

"We will try the schedule our way first," Narcissa said, "and if need be we can always change it. Now, what are you boys planning to do today?"

"I was going to start on my schoolwork," Hadrian replied, "Then probably go through my trunk and maybe send Neville and Luna a letter. Draco was going to get some books on dragons so that we can learn more about Arden."

"We were also considering starting on that potions journal translation," Draco added, "We'll probably stay in our rooms today."

"I would rather you did not stay cooped up inside all day," Narcissa frowned, "You should go flying after lunch."

"Perhaps we shall," Draco said noncommittally, "What do you think Hades? We didn't go outside at all yesterday."

"Mmm, maybe," Hadrian replied, "If nothing else we can always have lunch outside. Is Tom coming by today? I was hoping we could talk; we haven't had much of a chance since I got here."

"I believe he will be here for dinner," Lucius told him, "He is spending the day meeting with various Death Eater's; he cannot make radical changes overnight, so he is working on slowly changing the way things work, and shifting the Death Eater's focus away from you onto Dumbledore. I will send him an owl to let him know you want to talk to him."

"It doesn't have to be today," Hadrian said quickly, not wanting to seem immature or needy, "I know making changes with the Death Eater's is important, so just whenever he has the time."

"Of course," Lucius gave him a warm smile, "I will let him know. I must be off now; Severus and I are going to work on the rune translations. Severus and I will return in time for dinner; I will have my family mirror on hand if you need to contact me Cissa."

"Very well," Narcissa smiled, tilting her head to accept the brush of lips against her cheek, "I will walk you to the Floo. If you boys need me just ask one of the house elves; I should be around the manor all day. Try not to work too hard." The boys stood as Narcissa and Lucius left the dining room, and then Draco turned to the brunet.

"I am going to the library to look for those books," Draco announced, picking Arden (the little dragon had been taken to the kitchen to eat, and then returned by Tillie near the end of breakfast) up and settling the dragon around his shoulders, "Do you want to join me, or will you meet me back upstairs?"

"I’m going to just head up to my room," Hadrian replied, "I want to at least look at our summer assignments, so I can see how hard they’ll be to complete. I’ll wait for you to get back before I open the box I took from the Muggles; I’m a little afraid of what I’ll find in there.”

“I shouldn’t be too long,” Draco assured him, “Do you think you can find your way back to our rooms?”

“I’ll call a House Elf if I get lost,” Hadrian said, as they parted ways at the door to the sunroom, “I’ll see you in a bit.” Hadrian accepted a brief kiss, and then headed for the stairs, while Draco made his way to the library.

Once Hadrian left the dining room he immediately headed for his and Draco's rooms, and was surprised when he found them easily without having to call Tillie for help. Hadrian pulled out his schoolbooks with a sigh, but he was determined to do something productive; he was really curios to see what was in the box he had taken from Vernon's study, but he didn’t want to go through the box by himself. He supposed he could have started on the Parseltongue translation, but it would be easier if Draco was there to copy everything down, so that left his homework. He decided to read through each of the assignments first and sort them according to difficulty and how long he thought it would take to complete them; he would save potions for when Draco was able to help him.

The homework definitely looked more difficult than it had been in previous years, but Herbology and History of Magic looked like they would be fairly easy. Defense would be a little time consuming, but still easy, and the same with Charms. Hadrian was dropping Divination and Care of Magical Creatures, so the two most difficult assignments would be Transfiguration and Potions. Hadrian set his Herbology assignment on top of the pile and was thoroughly engrossed in the reading when he heard a faint tapping sound coming from Draco's room. Getting up from his desk Hadrian crossed into the other bedroom and grinned when he saw the twins’ owl, which they had named Loki; the owl dropped the package on Draco's bed and then flew over to the desk, looking at Hadrian expectantly.

"Yes, yes, I know," Hadrian shook his head as he walked over to the desk and opened the top drawer, where he knew Draco kept some owl treats; "There you are Loki." Loki hooted in appreciation as he ate the treats and then flew out the window, using the downdraft from his wings to scatter Draco's papers all over the floor. Hadrian glared after the owl before sighing and kneeling down to pick up the papers; Draco would be pissed if he came back to such a mess, and Hadrian didn't want to have an argument when the blond returned.

Once the mess was cleaned up Hadrian picked the package up off the bed and frowned when he saw that it was addressed to Draco-perhaps it was a late birthday present? With a shrug he dropped the package again and walked back to his room, but when he sat down to his homework again he found himself unable to concentrate. With a sigh, he set his books aside and made his way back to Draco’s room, debating whether he should go find the blond. A quick Tempus showed that he had been working on his summer assignments for two hours, and he was surprised Draco wasn’t back yet. With a frown, he started towards the bedroom door, only for it to swing open as Draco returned; Arden was resting around the blond’s neck, and a stack of books was floating behind him.

“Did you find what you were looking for?” Hadrian asked, watching as the books settled gently on top of Draco’s desk.

“I found several promising books,” Draco confirmed, “How far did you get with your summer assignments?”

“I finished the reading and essay for Herbology,” Hadrian replied, “And I got through some of the reading for History. I got distracted by an owl,” Hadrian nodded towards the bed, where the package was still sitting, “You seem to have a delivery from the twins.”

“Really?” Draco lifted Arden off his shoulders and set him on the bed, then picked up the package and examined it curiously, “Do you think it’s safe to open?”

“Well, Fred and George seem to like you, so I’m sure it won’t hurt you,” Hadrian said, “That said, there may still be a prank attached to the package; it’s just the way the twins operate.”

Draco hummed and cast a few spells to verify the safety of the package, and when they came back clean he shrugged and ripped the paper off. Once opened, the box inside expanded, and he opened the lid to find a large selection of pranks and spells from the twins’ shop, along with a smaller, shiny black box. There was a note attached to the black box, so Draco read that first.

The note was from the twins, informing him that the pranks were a birthday present, and that the black box contained the choker and other accessories for Hadrian. The twins said that they finished the Animagus feature sooner than anticipated; they had spoken to Mad-Eye Moody about the products they wanted to make to sell to the Aurors, and he had sent them a book with many useful spells, one of which was the Animagus spell.

Draco opened the box with a smile, and examined the pieces inside, noticing that the gemstones on the choker were already glowing with a faint light. The instructions that had been included explained that the decorative gems were able to store spells which would not use up any of Hadrian’s power in a duel, and Fred and George had already imbued some of the stones with magic. All Hadrian would have to do is touch the dragon pendant and say a single word and the spell would activate-the twins had set them up to activate with simple words such as “stun”, “fire”, “ice” and “home”-the last would bring Hadrian safely back to the manor. The instructions detailed how to add more spells to the remaining gems, and how to recharge the gems. The instructions also said that to access his animagus form Hadrian would simply have to think of its name while touching the pendant-which meant Hadrian would have to come up with a name for his animagus form. To change back, Hadrian simply had to want to become human again. The choker was an impressive piece of work, and Draco decided he would speak with the twins to see if they were interested in having another investor in their shop; he could provide the funds that would allow them more leeway to experiment with the line of protective items they were trying to develop. Their work was superb, and he could easily see himself making a profit from investing in the twins.

When he finished examining the choker, he closed the box and then held it out to Hadrian, who had been watching him curiously ever since he opened the package.

“This is for you,” he told the brunet, “I commissioned it from the twins while you were out finding my birthday present.” Hadrian accepted the box and opened it, the raised his eyebrows when he saw what was inside.

“Another collar?” he asked drily, “Gee, how thoughtful.”

“Not a collar, prat,” Draco swatted his head, “This is to replace the collar; it’s a choker. It still has the same protections as the collar, but it doesn’t actually bind you to me or the Malfoy Estates. In addition, the cuffs and other pieces have similar protections, so that you can wear them with the choker. You can also choose to string the dragon pendant and some of the extra gems on the leather thong instead of wearing the choker. All of the jewelry is spelled so that you are the only one who can remove it. In short, I will be secure in the knowledge that you are protected without you having to worry about all the strings that came with the collar-even though you have to give me points for not using it to make you do things.” Draco gave Hadrian a meaningful look, causing the brunet to blush.

“Slytherins are very strange,” Hadrian shook his head, “You expect a reward for doing the right thing?”

“Well, when you put it that way it sounds silly,” Draco said petulantly before smiling at him; “Here; let’s switch those out now.” Hadrian tilted his head forward a little to let Draco remove the collar and place the new choker around his neck, settling the dragon in the hollow of his throat. “Better?”

“Well, I suppose if you have to mark me, this is better than the other one,” Hadrian admitted grudgingly, giving Draco a quick peck on the lips.

“This one also has more protections on it,” Draco informed him, handing over the instructions the twins had provided.

“Wow, they really put a lot of work into this,” Hadrian said, clearly impressed, “I’ll have to spend some time trying to figure out what my Animagus name should be, but everything else is amazing. This could definitely be helpful, since I now have Dumbledore after me.” Hadrian paused and tilted his head as a thought occurred to him, “Funny, how I was in danger from “Voldemort” for my whole life and no one ever thought to give me protection like this, isn’t it? Thank you, Dray.” He gave Draco another brief kiss before turning and taking a few steps away; “So…now what? I was working on my homework earlier, but I really don’t feel like messing with it anymore today; I’ll have enough of that next week.”

“We can start on that translation,” Draco suggested, “Or-there is that box you wanted to look through.”

“Right; the box,” Hadrian glanced over at the window seat where the box was still sitting, looking innocent in the late morning light, “Well, I guess…I do want to see what’s in there. Of course, the stuff inside might not even be for me, since Petunia isn’t really my aunt. It’s still really strange to think that I’m not a Potter…”

“No, now you are a Riddle,” Draco said, “and soon you will be a Malfoy.”

“Not too soon,” Hadrian looked alarmed, “I don’t plan on getting married until at least after we finish school.” Draco looked like he wanted to argue, but simply shook his head.

“We can talk about it later,” he said mildly, “Sometime after you have your own birthday. Now, ready to see what is in that box?” Hadrian nodded his agreement and picked the box up off the window seat before going to join Draco who was now sitting on the bed, gently stroking Arden’s scales as the dragon lay sleeping in the middle of the bed. Hadrian sat down near Draco, and placed the box down on the comforter. With Draco looking on in curiosity Hadrian removed the lid and looked inside; the first thing he found was a letter, which he read out loud.

“Petunia,

I am terribly sorry to inform you that your sister and her husband were killed tonight at the hands of a madman. I know you and Lily have not been close these last few years, but she had always hoped you would have a chance to reconcile, which is why I am contacting you now. The baby I am leaving on your doorstep is the son of your cousin, Elena Pruitt; Lily and her husband died protecting him, and his own parents are unable to look after him, and so I leave him to you. Please look after Harry and keep him safe; as long as he lives with you no harm shall come to you or your family.

I understand that you will not be able to love Harry as you do your own son, and I do not expect you to try; Harry will have much to face as he gets older, and I leave it up to you to ensure that he is properly prepared to carry any burdens that get place upon his shoulders without complaint. When the time comes-although it is many years in the future-he must be willing to make any sacrifices necessary without hesitation. As I am certain this places an enormous burden on your family, I am willing to offer you compensation in the amount of 500 pounds a month, to be adjusted when necessary as Harry gets older. When he turns eleven Harry will be expected to attend Hogwarts, but until then you have free rein to do as you wish-do not fear that your actions will have any consequences.

I have included a vial of potion that you and your husband should take-it will offer you more protection as well as draw luck to your family. Take the potion and then hide this letter-as well as the other items I have left-in a box to be given to Harry when he leaves your home for the last time.

Guard him well,

Albus Dumbledore.”

“Well, if we ever need it now we have proof that Dumbledore left you there without any protection,” Draco commented as Hadrian set the letter aside, “I’ll bet that potion he gave them was the same memory potion he gave to everyone else.”

“Probably,” Hadrian agreed, picking up the next letter; it was addressed to him and had never been opened.

“Harry,

If you are reading this then you are now of age and have left your relative’s house for the last time; in an ideal world we will have already discussed my reasons for allowing you to be raised in such a manner, but in case the worst has happened, and I die before you are old enough to hear the truth, I will set it forth in writing.

Voldemort was your father. He raped an American witch by the name of Elena Pruitt, a cousin of Lily Evans. Elena was pregnant with twins, and she gave birth to you and a little girl; Elena wanted to take both you and your sister to America where her family lived, but Voldemort would not easily give you up as you were his heir. Due to a spell he cast on you, you were unable to be taken out of the country unless in his presence. Although it broke her heart, Elena knew that she needed to get your sister to safety, and that Voldemort would not kill you, because you were his heir. I agreed to find a family to take you in and protect you, and then I assisted Elena in escaping the country with her daughter.

Once your mother was safe, I began searching for a new family for you, and Lily and James eagerly volunteered take you in and raise you as their own; Lily had suffered from a miscarriage, but only Madame Pomfrey knew about it so it was simple to do the blood adoption spell, and then we let Voldemort believe that you had died when Elena tried to take you to America. In a rage Voldemort killed numerous people, and it was at this point that he learned of the prophecy-which you will have been told of by now, even if I was not the one to tell you-and went after the Potter’s, yourself included. You are aware of how the night ended, and I decided that the safest place for you was with Lily’s relatives. I left you on the doorstep with a note and a potion which would convince Petunia that you were her nephew.

As for the letter I left-which you have undoubtedly read-I did what I had to for the Greater Good. I knew that when you returned to the Wizarding World you would be hailed as a hero, and if you were given the same treatment at home then you would become spoiled and lazy, and would not be able to fulfill your destiny upon Voldemort’s return. Hopefully by this point Voldemort has been defeated, but in case he has not brace yourself-Voldemort has created horcruxes, items that allow him to be immortal by splitting his soul into several pieces. As near as I can tell there are six pieces and they must all be destroyed before he can be defeated for good. To destroy a horcrux you must use Fiendfyre or basilisk venom. Included with this letter is a list of possible horcruxes.

I hope you forgive me for my actions over the years, and I know that you will understand the Greater Good must come before personal happiness.

Albus Dumbledore.”

Also inside the envelope was a list of possible horcruxes, which Hadrian didn’t even look at as he had seen the actual horcruxes in the pensieve memory.

“That manipulative-” Hadrian broke off, shaking his head, “How dare he act like this was all for my benefit? And to accuse Tom-to accuse my father of raping my mother!”

“Are you really surprised at this point?” Draco asked, “After everything else Dumbledore has done, lying about your conception is rather mild, don’t you think?”

“It doesn’t mean I have to like it,” Hadrian glared at the letter.

“Of course not,” Draco agreed, “It’s another thing to be added to his list of crimes; he will pay for everything he has done.”

“True; Hopefully sooner, rather than later,” Hadrian agreed, temporarily setting aside his anger and peering back into the box. This time he pulled out two silver spheres, slightly bigger than a snitch. A closer examination showed that the spheres were actually pendants, and two black leather cords were also in the box.  He held one in his hand and it showed himself as he was now with Draco at his side; setting it down he looked at the other one and was surprised to see a girl near his age with dark red hair and sapphire eyes. The girl was frowning at something-or someone-and Hadrian wondered who she was and why she was upset.

“It’s a twin orb,” Draco told him, “It is a Black Family tradition to give them to any twins born into the family; since Sirius was your godfather he must have had those made. Each orb is infused with the magic of one twin, and is then given to the opposite twin; it is one of the reasons twins are so in-tune with one another even when far apart. This particular magic only works for twins-it doesn’t work for regular siblings.”

“Then this must be Aracely,” Hadrian said, “I wonder what has her upset.”

“Say her full name and it will enlarge the picture, and possibly give you sound as well.”

“Aracely Lorelei Riddle.” Hadrian frowned when nothing happened.

“Perhaps she goes by your mother’s maiden name,” Draco suggested, “She can’t very well go by the name Riddle since your mother took a potion to forget him.”

“Right,” Hadrian nodded, “Makes sense. Aracely Lorelei Pruitt.” The image in the orb expanded and appeared in front of them, similar to how Draco had shown Theo and Blaise the pensieve memories last night, and Hadrian was able to see his sister in greater detail. Aracely was standing in what appeared to be a small sitting room, glaring at a golden haired, blue-eyed boy who was standing in front of her, also scowling. “I wish I could hear what was going on,” Hadrian said-and then they could hear the conversation.

“I said leave me alone Matt!” Aracely glared at the blond boy, “Look, it’s over! How many times do I have to tell you that?”

“It’s not over,” Matt argued, “I don’t even know why you’re so upset! I didn’t do anything!”

“Lying asshole!” Aracely shouted, “I know, okay? Adam-you know, your best friend?-told me everything, and I mean everything!”

“You can’t believe Adam!” Matt protested, “Come on Baby, you know he’s mad at me for telling him that I think Shelly is a whore!”

“Right; Shelly is a whore,” Aracely gave a wild laugh, “You’re the whore Matt, but because you have a penis you think it’s okay; well I am not going to put up with it! I know all about Nikki and Madison! Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that you tried to hit on my best friend!”

“Now you’re going to listen to Liana over me?” Matt said incredulously, “Liana is nothing but a slut; I told you I don’t like you hanging out with her-I don’t like that other bitch you’re friends with either-Althea.”

“Yeah; she was the first person to tell me you were scum,” Aracely sneered at him, “I should have listened to her.”

“She’s just jealous-her and Liana,” Matt insisted.

“Jealous?” Aracely scoffed, “Of what-you? Don’t make me laugh! Neither of them would touch you with a ten-foot pole! I’m done Matt; you constantly accuse me of cheating when you’re the one chasing after anything with breasts, and I’ve just had enough. Leave; now.” Aracely’s blue eyes were blazing, and Matt actually took a step back, but just then they were joined by four adults; two of the adults were obviously Matt’s parents as they both had the same golden hair and blue eyes while the other two adults were brunet’s-the man had dark brown hair and blue eyes slightly paler than Aracely’s, while the woman had black hair and bright green eyes.

“That must be…my mother,” Hadrian whispered, speaking for the first time since they had started watching the scene, “I wonder who the man with her is?” Draco shook his head silently as the woman-Elena-spoke.

“Aracely Lorelei Pruitt!” Elena glared at her daughter, “We could hear you yelling all the way outside-what is going on?”

“Nothing,” Aracely gave her mom wide eyes, “I was just telling Matt that it’s over; I found out he’s been seeing other girls and I won’t be with someone who is unfaithful to me. I know you were hoping we would get married but-”

“But nothing,” the dark-haired man interrupted, “We have already negotiated the terms of an engagement with the Stuart’s, and you will abide by it; the paperwork is ready for you to sign on your sixteenth birthday.”

“What?!” Aracely cried out in disbelief, “You can’t be serious Brandon! Even though he’s been cheating on me?”

“He’s young,” Matt’s father spoke up, “I’ll admit I made a few mistakes when I was his age, didn’t I Annie?”

“Just a few, Martin,” Annie said dryly before looking at Aracely, “All boys go through this phase, but when it counts I assure you that Matt will be faithful to you; we can even write it in the vows if you like.”

“I shouldn’t have to write it in the vows,” Aracely protested, “He should respect me enough to be faithful without being forced into it. Besides; I don’t want him to be faithful to me-not anymore.”

“It’s too late for that now,” Brandon said, “Your mother and I have already discussed it, and you and Matt will get married after you finish school; as Annie said we can fix the wording in the engagement contract, but you will be signing it at the end of next month.”

“No, I won’t, and you can’t make me!” Aracely glared at Brandon, “You’re not my real dad-you’re my stepfather and you can’t tell me what to do! You didn’t even adopt me, so you have no right!”

“I have every right,” Brandon yelled back, his face red as he stepped forward and grabbed Aracely by the arm, “When we got married your mother agreed that I could choose your husband for you, now sit down and behave or so help me-”

“Enough!” Elena intervened, pulling Brandon away from her daughter, “Let me handle this Brandon.” She gave her husband a stern look before turning to face Aracely, “Look Aracely, I know this isn’t ideal, but everything will work out. I did agree to let Brandon choose your husband, and he knows what he’s doing; Matt is young now-as are you-but by the time you actually get married things will be better, you’ll see.”

“I can’t believe you agree with this,” Aracely whispered, a tear running down her cheek, “I always thought-you were the one person I could always count on.” She turned away from her mom and glared at Matt; “Fine-since it seems I have no choice we will be getting married in two years. If you want to sleep around you’d better get it out of your system now, because I will not tolerate it once we get married; you’d better be discrete about it as well, because I will not be the laughing stock of the school. Also, Papa is naming me his heir, so I will not be taking your name.”

“Actually, Allyn is going to be his heir,” Brandon spoke up, sounding extremely smug, “Therefore you will be taking Matt’s name, isn’t that right Elena?”

“Mama?” Aracely looked at her mom, betrayal in her eyes, “It’s not-Papa always said I would be his heir; I’ve spent most of every summer with Granny and Papa learning everything I need to know, and I remember Uncle Al was mad about it because he couldn’t convince Papa to name Allyn his heir before, so why now?”

“Because I told him that he can’t name you as his heir,” Elena said softly, “I told him that if he named you his heir without my permission I would never let him see the rest of his grandchildren again. I’m sorry Aracely, but it’s for the best; you know it would have been hard to find a husband who-”

“I would have managed,” Aracely interrupted, “I hate you-I hate you all!” With one last tear-filled look at her mother Aracely ran from the room; she only got a little way down the hall, however, when someone grabbed her arm and forced her to stop.

“Not so fast,” Matt said as he turned her to face him, “You didn’t give me a kiss before you left; that’s just not right, now that we’re engaged and all.”

“We’re not engaged yet,” Aracely hissed at him, “and I will not kiss you, so get your filthy hands off me before I hex your balls off. Ah!” She cried out in pain as he pushed her against the wall, but quickly retaliated with a knee to his groin; when he let her go Aracely took off running again and this time managed to make it safely to a bedroom where she locked the door, before pressing her hand against it and activating a ward as well. Once she was sure she was safe, Aracely threw herself on the bed and began to cry.

The orb returned to its previous silver color as the image of Aracely faded, and Hadrian looked at Draco with wide eyes.

“What-that was horrible!” he said, “I can’t believe-that bastard is forcing her to marry someone who cheated on her? And the way he grabbed her-he’s abusive too!”

“It’s actually quite common in pure blood families,” Draco said apologetically, “Most betrothal contracts are signed when the children are still quite young, with an engagement contract then signed and negotiated between the ages of fifteen and seventeen, and the marriage taking place between seventeen and twenty-one. Most of the time indiscretions are expected before the engagement contract is signed, with some families not requiring faithfulness until after the wedding as long as no children are born out of wedlock.”

“Just because it’s normal doesn’t mean it’s right,” Hadrian frowned, “Besides-Elena refused to agree to an arranged marriage when we were babies, so what changed?”

“Her memories,” Draco replied, “and I would expect her new husband has something to do with it as well.” He paused thoughtfully for a moment; “I wouldn’t tell Tom about the new husband yet-he might overreact.”

“But…what about Aracely?” Hadrian demanded, “She needs help!”

“There is still plenty of time,” Draco soothed him, “Even if she is forced to sign the engagement contract, nothing is set in stone until they are actually married; if your sister is anything like you, she will find her own way out of the engagement. Then, there is your father; you can keep an eye on Aracely through the orb and, if things get worse, you can tell Tom; as Aracely’s true father, he can overrule the engagement.” Hadrian bit his lip uncertainly but finally nodded.

“Okay,” he agreed, “I’ll check on her occasionally, and if things get worse we’ll tell someone who can help-if not Tom, then Severus or even the twins.”

“Agreed,” Draco said, “Now, is there anything else in the box?” Hadrian looked back in the box, but it was empty.

“No-that’s everything,” he said, slipping the orb that had shown him his sister onto one of the leather cords, and then tying it around his neck, “Well…at least Aracely was sticking up for herself.”

“Yes-I almost felt bad for Matt when she kneed him,” Draco said, “Your sister seems to have a bit of a temper; I’m almost scared to meet her.” Hadrian laughed and shook his head.

“Don’t worry Dray-I’ll protect you from her,” he teased, “I’m the only one allowed to abuse you.”

“And you do it quite frequently,” Draco said, grabbing his hand and pulling him closer, “Sometimes I wonder why I put up with you, and then I remember that I really have no choice.” Hadrian frowned and looked down at the bedspread, pulling away from Draco.

“That’s right,” Hadrian said softly, “You didn’t have a choice in this, did you? If you did, I know you wouldn’t have picked me.” He gasped when Draco pushed him down on the bed and leaned over him, catching his gaze with his mesmerizing silver-blue eyes.

“I would always choose you,” Draco said firmly, “Even before I knew who you were, when we first met at Madam Malkin’s, I wanted to impress you; you were just so…different from everyone I’d ever met, innocent and nice…Of course, I completely bolloxed it up, but they say it’s the thought the counts right?” Hadrian laughed softly and Draco smiled down at him, “Don’t ever think that I only want you because I am a Veela; I was attracted to you long before my instincts started to kick in-do you know I desperately wanted to steal a dance with you at the Yule Ball?”

“Really?”

“Really,” Draco affirmed, “I know we joke about fate choosing us for one another, but if I ever find out which deity gave you to me I will build a thousand temples in their honor.”

“And empty out both our vaults to do so,” Hadrian laughed.

“I didn’t say they would be large temples,” Draco said defensively, “Hadrian-I am glad you are my mate.” Draco lowered his head and pressed their lips together in a chaste kiss which slowly turned passionate as Hadrian buried his fingers in long silver locks to keep Draco from pulling away. Draco responded by maneuvering until he was laying on top of the brunet, and slowly pressed their groins together, causing Hadrian to gasp and shudder beneath him.

“No Draco,” Hadrian panted, breaking the kiss, “Don’t want-not ready for this yet.”

“Don’t worry,” Draco whispered as he pressed kisses down Hadrian’s neck, “I won’t even take our clothes off, okay?” He ground their erections together and smirked as Hadrian threw his head back, gasping with pleasure; “If you really want me to stop, just say so and I will.” He pressed a kiss against Hadrian’s pulse, before sucking on it harshly, determined to leave a mark. Draco continued to grind their erections together, thriving on the gasps and moans coming from the smaller boy.

“Draco,” Hadrian moaned, “So-so close!” He tightened his grip in the silver locks and pulled Draco back up for another kiss, willingly allowing the blond to devour his mouth as their bodies pressed together more urgently.

“Yes,” Draco said, pulling back from the kiss, “So close…come for me Hadrian...with me…” He captured Hadrian’s lips in another brief kiss before the brunet threw his head back again, arching and crying out his pleasure as he came. Draco wasn’t far behind him, the sight of his mate writhing under him more than enough to bring him over the edge. Both boys lay there panting for a few moments before Hadrian began pushing at Draco’s shoulders.

“Ugh,” he said, “sticky; move Dray so we can clean up!”

“Don’t want to,” Draco protested, “Haven’t you learned how to do a wandless cleaning spell?”

“No, and neither have you!” Hadrian said, then, “Arden?” Hadrian was surprised when the dragon’s face entered his line of vision; the dragon looked back and forth at Draco and Hadrian for a moment before issuing a series of chirping sounds, which resulted in two clean teenagers.

“I never knew dragons could do that,” Draco looked at Arden curiously, “That’s a useful little trick.”

“You can still get off me now,” Hadrian said, and this time he succeeded in pushing Draco away so that he could sit up, “What time is it?” Draco lazily reached out his hand to summon his wand and then cast a Tempus.

“Eleven-thirty,” he announced, “Feel like taking an early lunch? We could go out to the gardens, and maybe do a bit of flying after.”

“Sure,” Hadrian agreed, “I’d like to see the gardens.” He stood up and held out his arms to Arden, who looked at him in contemplation before leaping up gracefully; he climbed so that he was arranged around the brunet’s shoulders, and then they both looked expectantly at Draco.

“Fine,” Draco sighed, reluctantly getting off the bed, “There won’t be any relaxing with the two of you around, I see.”

“Yes, because having a picnic in the gardens is such hard work,” Hadrian laughed as he walked towards the door, “Come on prat; let’s go.”

“So demanding,” Draco huffed, linking arms with Hadrian and leading him out of the room, “What did I ever do to deserve such a mate?”

“Must have been something really good to make them give you me,” Hadrian teased, laughing again as Arden blew a puff of smoke at Draco, causing the blond to glare at the small dragon.

“I must keep you two apart,” Draco scowled, “Already ganging up on me; it just isn’t right.” Arden let out a chirrup Draco couldn’t help but smile as the dragon leaned over to nuzzle his cheek briefly before settling back down around Hadrian’s neck. Hadrian smiled as well and pulled his arm away only to link hands with Draco instead, smiling up at the Veela. Hadrian was still worried about Aracely, but Draco had reassured him enough that he was able to push the thoughts aside-for now. He would still use the twin orb to check up on his sister though, and would not hesitate to tell Severus or Tom if the situation became worse. 

 

Chapter Text

After breakfast Narcissa went to her private study and warded the door against visitors; only her personal house elf would be able to get in. Once the door was warded she looked around the room and smiled in contentment; this was the only room in the entire manor that she had decorated purely for her own satisfaction, and she always enjoyed coming in here. When decorating the rest of the manor she always tried to take in to account what the other people using the room might like, but this room was all hers. Instead of the dark, rich colors found in most of the manor Narcissa decorated her study in icy blues and lilacs, with the walls a soft neutral grey to tie it together.

The furniture was made of white ash with delicate scrollwork on the edges of the desk and bookcases, the desk chair had a soft blue cushion, and the two armchairs and the loveseat were a silvery grey with ice blue and lilac pillows. The desk was in front of a window looking down upon her favorite garden, with a mirror-spell woven into the glass so that-even with her back to the room-she could see anyone who entered. On top of the desk was a collage-style photo frame with pictures of her wedding to Lucius, a picture of a two-year-old Draco, another of Narcissa and her two sisters at Andromeda's Hogwarts Graduation-Andromeda was seventeen, Bellatrix thirteen, and Narcissa was eleven. There were other photographs decorating the shelves, and on the wall she had a portrait of her mother, which was currently empty, another of Rowena Ravenclaw-a relative on her mother's side of the family-and a set of silver curtains firmly drawn with a locking spell on them. The closed curtains were on the wall next to her desk, and she cancelled the locking spell as she sat down in the chair; it was with disappointment that Narcissa saw the decorative silver frame was empty, but she knew that the inhabitants would come back eventually-there couldn't be too many other portraits of them around.

With a soft sigh Narcissa turned her attention to one of the bookcases, and a quick summoning spell brought down a small box wrapped in protective spells. The box was made of ebony and rowan fused together by magic and set with carnelian and tiger's eyes-stones known to have protective properties. Narcissa stroked the lid gently with her fingertips and felt the soft hum of protective magic; it wouldn't hurt her, of course, as she was the one who had woven the spells. After simply looking at the box for several moments Narcissa cancelled the protections on it and slowly lifted the lid.

Like many other items in the wizarding world, the inside of the box was bigger than it appeared. The box contained many items from her past and Draco's childhood-a memory book she made before going to Hogwarts, a lock of hair from Draco's first haircut and the first tooth he lost, letters from when Lucius was courting her and-way down at the bottom of the box-there was another, smaller box. She lifted it out and carefully set the silver box in front of her, hesitating a moment before opening it.

This box was an item she had forgotten about until a couple of days ago-until Hadrian had come into their lives and Severus had given them all back their true memories. A few months before they had been caught in Dumbledore's devastating trap, Narcissa, Lily, Elena, Alice, Bella and Artemis-Artemis Lovegood neé Lefae-had met here, in this very room, to hold a secret conference. The six women all feared that the headmaster was up to something terrible, and they felt that they should safeguard their memories and secrets in preparation for the worst. The box contained memories and heirlooms from all six families, as well as letters from each of the women to their offspring. Narcissa had been selected to keep everything safe, and so she had placed it in the warded box and hidden it in her study; upon her death, the box would have been sent to Gringott’s, and the Goblins would have been tasked with distributing the contents to the appropriate persons. After that horrible night in the Great Hall she had completely forgotten about the box, and never paid it any attention even when she opened the ebony chest.

Now, Narcissa opened the box and carefully sifted through the contents, smiling wistfully as she set aside photographs of the children playing together, until she came to the stack of letters at the bottom. There was one she had written to Draco-thankfully unnecessary-Artemis’s letter for Luna, Elena's letter for Hadrian and Aracely (which she was undecided about giving to Hadrian, as Elena was not yet lost to them), Lily's letter which she would have the boys pass on to Ginny/Lillian, Bella's letter to give to her daughter Helena, and two letters from Alice-one for Neville and the other for Augusta. Narcissa's smile turned triumphant as she located the letter addressed to Augusta; Lucius and Tom would likely be upset at her for not consulting them, but she was not about to ask their permission for every little thing she did, and this could best be settled between her and Augusta. Narcissa placed the letter on top of a silver tray on the corner of her desk and nodded in satisfaction when the letter vanished, before turning back to the silver box.

"The years we missed," she said softly, looking at a picture of the children. The photograph showed Hadrian, Aracely and Draco taking turns throwing toys at the protective bubble around the play area, trying to find a weakness, while Helena-a few months older than the other children-frowned at them, and Neville smiled happily, eagerly passing the three trouble-makers new toys to throw. Off to the side a bit Lillian and Luna slept soundly, not in the least disturbed by all the commotion. The picture ended with the children managing to make a hole in the ward; Hadrian and Draco raced for it and reached it at the same time, smiling triumphantly before the hole sealed and they were magically-and gently-transported back to where Neville sat laughing at them.

Narcissa set the picture down with a scowl; if only Dumbledore hadn't appeared their children could have grown up together happily. Instead, all the children grew up with false memories, Hadrian grew up with abusive Muggles who kept him ignorant of his true place in life, and Helena-Hermione-and Lillian-Ginny- were taken from their rightful families. All of their lives were disrupted by that meddlesome fool, and Narcissa made a promise to herself-

"He will pay for what he has done," Narcissa was startled to hear her own thoughts spoken out loud and raised startled eyes to the portrait beside her desk, which was no longer empty.

"Lilly! James!" Narcissa smiled, "I feel terrible that you have been isolated all this time-"

"It isn't your fault Cissa," Lily interrupted firmly, "We both know who's to blame, don't we James?"

"Of course," James agreed with a scowl, "It's that idiot Dumbledore; he manipulated all of us, and destroyed so many lives…Did you know the manipulative bastard had our portrait painted and hung in his office? He thought that he could get us to spy on our friends and family."

"Not very bright, not matter what his opinion of himself is," Lily snorted, "Like we would do anything to help the man who organized our death."

"To be fair, he probably thought that the memory charms he cast before your deaths would still be in place," Narcissa said calmly, "Dumbledore never did spend much time studying subjects that had to do with death; he always felt himself above such nonsense. I must say I am glad to finally have my memories back, and young Hadrian is finally safe with us."

"Yes," Lily scowled, "Once he realized he couldn't manipulate us Dumbledore taunted us with information about what he did to the children; about a year after our deaths he couldn't take the guilt anymore, so he removed his memories and promptly forgot about us. Tell us, Cissa; how is our daughter? Is she being treated well?"

"She is being raised by the Weasley's," Narcissa replied, "They spoil her, as she is their only daughter, but Hadrian said she does not truly fit in with the family; she is a bit more wild than Molly would like."

"Of course she is," James smirked, "She is a Potter after all." The three old friends shared a smile, and then James became more solemn; "Cissa-can you tell us what your plans are now that you have your memories back?"

"Lucius, Severus and Tom are planning most of it," Narcissa began, "However I will be glad to tell you what I know and get your input. When Lucius and Severus return this evening, you can speak to them as well." Narcissa settled more comfortably in her seat and prepared to bring her friends up to date on current events, glad that she was able to speak to them again, even if they were technically just memories.

 “…so, it hasn’t been too boring,” Lily concluded a few hours later, “Only we could never get any information about what was going on here.”

“I understand,” Narcissa nodded, “So that is where James went? To visit your other portrait?”

“Yes,” Lily confirmed, “We promised that we would let him know as soon as anything changed over here, so James went to speak to him. Not everything is going well, and so you will likely have at least one new guest arrive in the next couple of weeks. You have a letter Cissa.” Narcissa looked down at her desk and saw that there was indeed a letter resting on the silver tray; when she picked it up she saw that it was from Augusta Longbottom.

“It’s from Augusta,” she told Lily, “I sent her Alice’s letter. Please, excuse me a moment while I read it.”

“Lady Malfoy,

Thank you for sending me Alice’s letter; I did various tests and I am certain of its authenticity, which is the only reason I am replying to you. In her letter Alice said many things that I find hard to believe and, as I know he visited Harry at your home two nights ago, I spoke with my grandson. Neville has confirmed much of the information in Alice’s letter, but he is merely going by what Harry told him. If indeed you have memories to prove the truth of what happened I would like to see them. If you are unable to produce the memories within two days I shall show this letter to Dumbledore. I await your invitation to view the memories.

Madame Longbottom.”

“Augusta wants to view the memories,” Narcissa smiled at Lily, “I believe I shall invite her over for tea; after she views the memories would you like to speak with her?” She pulled out a sheet of parchment and wrote a short note, sealing it and then placing it in the silver tray for the house elves to deliver.

“I would like that,” Lily replied, “Now, in all of this you have yet to mention Sirius; since James is not here will you tell me what happened?”

“Well, I am certain Dumbledore already told you that Sirius had been arrested on suspicion of betraying you to Voldemort?” Lily nodded so Narcissa continued, “In Hadrian’s third year at Hogwarts Sirius managed to escape; Severus said that Sirius was innocent, and Pettigrew was the one who truly betrayed you, which is true enough. After he escaped Dumbledore helped hide him from the ministry, but last year there was a battle over the prophecy and Sirius fell through the veil.”

“You can’t mean-?” Lily looked horrified when Narcissa nodded, “The veil in the Death Chamber? Oh, poor Sirius!”

“Actually, there may still be hope for him,” Narcissa said, “Lucius told me that one of Dumbledore’s memories showed him casting a spell just as Sirius fell; Lucius believes-and Severus agrees-that it is likely Sirius was banished somewhere and is still alive. I think that they may even have an idea of where he is being kept, but they have not shared that information with me.”

“And that’s another thing you have to try and correct,” Lily shook her head, “So much of Dumbledore’s actions need to be undone…I don’t see how you’ll ever be able to right all of his wrongs.”

“We won’t be able to fix everything,” Narcissa agreed, “The lives he took…those we will never be able to get back. As for the rest…Severus has a list.” She shared a mischievous smile with Lily before the red-head started giggling.

“Severus and his lists!” Lily said, “I remember those from school…James thought I was bad when it came down to finals-until he saw Sev’s study schedule. You have to send him in so we can catch up! Is he seeing anyone right now?”

“Not that I am aware of,” Narcissa replied, “He hasn’t shown much interest in dating not since…” she trailed off and Lily nodded her understanding; “I will send him in here when he and Lucius return; they are working on the translation for the horcrux ritual today.”

“Poor Hadrian,” Lily said sadly, “Draco hasn’t reacted to that yet?”

“They have not been told yet,” Narcissa admitted, “The Veela bond is too new and we did not want to put too much strain on it this early on.”

“You should tell them soon,” Lily urged, “With Hadrian’s birthday coming up soon you will need to prepare.”

“I know,” Narcissa sighed, “I will speak with Lucius and Tom about it tonight. For now, I should go check on the boys and get everything ready for Augusta’s visit. I will be back to visit you again soon.”

“I will be here,” Lily laughed, “I wouldn’t dream of going anywhere else now that things are beginning to get interesting.” Narcissa laughed softly and shook her head before bidding Lily good-bye and going in search of her son.

****Riddle Manor

“I believe I know how we can get to Black,” Lucius announced, looking up from the spell book he had been reading, “I was studying my memories of the Battle at the Ministry, and the spell Dumbledore used as Black was falling towards the veil looks familiar…”

“Have you identified the spell?” Severus inquired, not bothering to look up from the potion he was brewing; Tom had translated the potion for removing a horcrux and Severus had immediately begun working on it.

“It was a transporting spell,” Lucius said, “We just have to figure out where Dumbledore sent him.”

“Perhaps a locating potion would work,” both men looked up as Tom entered the drawing room at Riddle Manor, “Dumbledore may have most locator spells blocked, however a potion that relies upon a blood relation should work; you keep some on hand, do you not Severus?”

“I do,” Severus confirmed, “I have several stored in my cabinet against the far wall. It should work with a drop of blood from either Narcissa or Draco, however then we shall have to devise a way to prevent Dumbledore from realizing we rescued him.”

“Fake his death,” Lucius suggested, “Severus should go spend more time with the headmaster to make sure he still has Dumbledore’s trust, and when we locate Sirius we can have a house elf slip him some Draught of the Living Dead. Once Sirius is declared dead we will remove his body and Severus can revive him.”

“It has to all be done within 48 hours,” Severus cautioned, “Once he takes the draught we have 48 hours to give him the antidote or he will never awaken, so it must all be planned very carefully.”

“We also need to make sure his true memories are returned as soon as possible,” Tom added, “Otherwise he will attempt to fight us.”

“We will make sure Hadrian is there when the mutt wakes up,” Severus said, “We can possibly have the wolf there as well. Which reminds me, I am planning to have Hadrian send the wolf an invitation to the manor; when should he ask Remus to come by?”

“Narcissa is taking the boys to the ministry on Monday,” Lucius mused, “and I have a meeting with the Board of Governors on Tuesday, so set it for either Wednesday or Thursday. We should also tell the boys that Hadrian is a horcrux; it will not be much longer before Draco can scent the contamination and he will be less violent if he is prepared for it. We can sit the boys down after dinner tonight.”

“Very well,” Tom nodded as he got back to his feet, “I merely came in here to see what the two of you are up to; I have been meeting with small groups of Death Eater’s all day and I suppose I have let the latest group’s anticipation build up long enough. Will you still be here in a few hours?”

“I was planning to speak to Narcissa about her plans,” Lucius said, “I know she had ideas on what we should do next, and I realized I should speak to her so that we do not wind up working against one another by accident. I will actually be leaving in a few minutes.”

“I have another half hour left on this potion,” Severus announced, “Once it is done I will check back in with Dumbledore; I have a potion that will mimic the after-effects of the Cruciatus which should be enough to convince him that you are still evil, and I am still on his side.”

“Then I shall see you both at dinner,” Tom said and turned to leave, but he was halted by Lucius.

“I almost forgot, Hadrian wishes to speak with you Tom; he did not say what it was about, although he did say it was not urgent.”

“I will go to see him after I speak with this group,” Tom said, “I know I am an evil dark lord, but it occurs to me that I should spend some time with my son if I don’t want him to kill me at an early age in order to take over my position.”

“Don’t worry about that yet,” Severus smirked, “Draco has enough common sense to make Po-I mean Hadrian-wait until after you defeat Dumbledore to kill you; less work for them.” Lucius laughed, and Tom glared at his two friends as he swept from the room; he was starting to think that things had been better when Lucius and Severus had feared him.

 

 

Chapter Text

“You okay Hades?” Draco asked, eyeing Hadrian carefully; the brunet had been quieter than usual during their picnic, and was now lying back on the blanket with a frown on his face.

“I’m fine,” Hadrian replied, “It’s just…do you really think Aracely is okay? I didn’t like that Matt guy, and Brandon seemed like a real asshole.”

“I agree, but I still think she did a good job of taking care of herself,” Draco said, “She did not let that idiot harm her, and she stood up to Brandon. I believe the hardest thing for Aracely was when her mother did not take her side; she looked extremely shocked by this.”

“Yeah,” Hadrian frowned, “She looked really…betrayed.”

“As I said before, a betrothal contract is not set in stone,” Draco reminded his mate, “The bonding cannot legally take place until she turns seventeen; we will just check in on her from time to time and if need be we shall find a way to remove her from that situation. Hopefully we can resolve this issue with Dumbledore before next summer and then Tom can declare the contract null and void.”

“They can’t force her to get married sooner?” Hadrian questioned sitting up to look over at the blond who met his gaze steadily, “In the Muggle world you can be married before you turn of age if your parents agree to it; I’ve heard of girls as young as thirteen being forced into an unwanted marriage.”

“Underage marriages were made illegal in the magical world a long time ago,” Draco informed him, “The only time underage weddings are allowed are if the couple involved agree to the bonding, and the parents sign off on it. We become magically of age at seventeen, but most of the older families have a clause stating that the children fall under their parents’ guardianship until they are married or reach a certain age-usually either twenty-five or thirty-five, which is why parents can still force their children into a marriage after they turn seventeen. If things here are not resolved before your seventeenth birthday, we will find a way to get Aracely out of that situation.” A soft chirp had both boys looking near Draco’s feet, where they saw Arden sitting with his front claws on the twin sphere.

“Hey!” Hadrian exclaimed, “How did you get that? It was in my pocket!” Arden made an irritated noise and a tiny puff of steam came out of his nostrils before he pushed the sphere towards Hadrian.

“I believe he wants you to activate it again,” Draco said drily, “I’ve read that dragons have the gift of prophecy, so you should probably do as he wants.”

“I hope she isn’t in trouble again,” Hadrian frowned as he picked up the sphere, “Aracely Lorelei Pruitt.”

The sphere activated, and the boys saw that Aracely enter a large bedroom containing two sets of bunk beds, an entertainment are with a television and a gaming system, and shelves of books and videos. Two younger children, a brown-haired boy who looked to be around seven, and a blonde girl of about ten years, were fighting over the control for the game, but they both looked up as Aracely entered the room. As soon as Aracely closed the door, the sound on the orb activated, and the little girl was running over to Aracely.

“Aracely! Bryce hit me!”

“She started it!”

“Did not!”

“Did too!”

“Okay, okay,” Aracely laughed, looking down at the two children, “Come on guys; it’s late-no more fighting. Are you hurt Alyssa?”

“No,” Alyssa shook her head, glaring at Bryce.

“Are you hurt Bryce?”

“No,” Bryce shook his head, “It’s my turn to play the game!” Aracely shook her head in exasperated amusement.

“I think it’s time to turn the game off and put a movie on,” Aracely countered, “Come on; get changed for bed.” Alyssa and Bryce grumbled, but obediently ran to two small door which led to separate walk-in closets. The two children disappeared into their closets, and returned a few moments later in pajamas. The two headed straight for the shelf of movies, but Aracely stopped them.

“I’m choosing tonight,” she announced, and considered the movie selection in silence for a minute while Alyssa and Bryce watched her with narrowed eyes. “We’re going to watch Aladdin.” The two children seemed happy with that, and they each climbed up onto a top bunk as Aracely put the movie in.

“I’m leaving to see Papa soon,” Aracely told them, talking over the previews, “So try not to give Mama a hard time while I’m gone, okay?”

“I want to go to Granny and Papa’s too!” Alyssa protested, “I want to see Darren!”

“You’ll get to go soon,” Aracely promised, “I just have to take care of some grown up stuff, which is why I have to go earlier. Let’s watch the movie now, okay?” Alyssa pouted, but was quickly distracted when the movie began.

After about fifteen minutes, Alyssa and Bryce fell asleep. Aracely turned the movie off, and put some music on instead, then quietly left the bedroom.

Once in the hallway, Aracely walked a few doors down and entered a den, where Elena was sitting by the window.

“Mama?” Aracely called softly, and Elena looked up at her with a small smile.

“I knew you would be up,” Elena said, “Come sit down.” Aracely made her way across the room and took a seat next to her mom on the couch. Elena summoned a house elf to get them each a glass of sweet tea before speaking.

“I know you’re not happy about what happened tonight,” Elena began, “but…you remember when Brandon and I separated for a year?” Aracely nodded, “I never told you this before, but he almost got custody of Alyssa and Bryce.”

“Is that why you didn’t divorce him?” Aracely questioned, “I remember you were happy when we stayed with Granny and Papa; you and Annalise went out on the weekends a lot and we got to spend time with Allyn. I always wondered why you decided to go back.”

“I couldn’t lose Alyssa and Bryce, especially with them being so young,” Elena confirmed, “I had to agree that I would not try to divorce him again, and I had to agree to let him choose spouses for you and Daren or he wouldn’t let you stay with us. Daren found out and-”

“That’s why he stayed with Granny and Papa!” Aracely exclaimed, “He tried to get me to stay too, but I didn’t want to leave you and Alyssa and Bryce. But…can’t Papa overrule him? Brandon never adopted me, so he isn’t the head of my family, right?”

“You are technically right,” Elena nodded, “but since he is caring for you then you do owe him respect. I know you don’t want to be with Matt, but I really think things will work out. Like I said before, he’s young; he won’t be unfaithful to you once you have signed the betrothal papers.”

“So, I have until my birthday,” Aracely sighed, “Wait; if I go see Papa before then-”

“Brandon said to tell you that you are grounded,” Elena interrupted, “You aren’t allowed to visit Granny and Papa until after your birthday. Your portkey has been deactivated, and so has the Floo in your room. You are not allowed to use the mirrors either.” Aracely opened her mouth to protest, but Elena continued, “You can, however, contact Liana and Althea; they both have an arranged marriage as well so maybe they can help you cope.”

“I don’t need help coping,” Aracely glared at her mom, “I won’t marry Matt, and you can’t make me! I’ll let you disown me before that happens!”

“Calm down,” Elena said, “You still have a couple years, and who know what can happen in that time? I’ll talk to Brandon for you; you should go to bed.”

“I’m not tired,” Aracely pouted. Elena just gave her a rueful smile before standing and kissing the top of her head.

“Don’t stay out here too late,” she cautioned, “You know Brandon gets up early for work, and he doesn’t like for you to be up too late.”

“I’ll be out of here long before he gets up,” Aracely promised, “G’nite Mom; I love you.”

“I love you too,” Elena replied, “and don’t worry about the future so much, okay?” Aracely nodded and watched as her mom left the room. After a few minutes, Aracely stood up and crossed over to a curio cabinet on the other side of the room; she opened the door and knelt down, moving aside items on the bottom shelf until she found a slim silver box. She put the box in her pocket and then put the rest of the items back on the shelf before closing the cabinet and returning to her bedroom.

Aracely locked her bedroom door, and then pulled a large trunk out of her closet. She spent the next several minutes packing the trunk, emptying her room of almost everything except the furniture. Once everything else was packed, Aracely went over to her desk and cleaned it out, setting school books and papers to the side, and then removing the false bottom. In the secret compartment, were several notebooks and what appeared to be love-letters and journals. All these items went into her trunk, along with a black box with a silver lock.

Aracely closed the trunk and then took the silver box out of her pocket. She examined the box for a few seconds, then set it down on her desk and opened it, drawing out a black wand and silver wrist holster. She put the holster on and slipped the wand into it, then walked over to the full-length mirror standing in the corner. She placed her hand over the crest engraved in the wooden frame, and whispered, “Liana.” The mirror was obscured by mist for a moment, and then a different room appeared in the reflection. Sitting on the bed in the reflected room was a girl with long black hair, who was facing the opposite direction.

“Liana!” Aracely called again, and the other girl quickly spun around, the surprise on her face morphing into a bright smile.

“Ari!” Liana cried “I didn’t think I’d hear from you tonight! Brandon-”

Hadrian frowned and turned to Draco as the picture from the orb went black and the sound cut out.

“Wait a few minutes,” Draco said, “The orb is still active, so it’s possible that this is a private conversation you do not need to hear. The orb will protect both twins’ privacy when necessary. Are you feeling better yet? It appears that Aracely has a plan to get herself out of the arranged marriage.”

“Yeah, I’m feeling a little better about it,” Hadrian said, “I just wonder how she’s going to get away when her mom said they took away her portkey and all.” Hadrian was quiet for a few minutes, and then said, “Those kids, Alyssa and Bryce…do you think?”

“Yes, they are your siblings,” Draco told him, “I could see that they have a resemblance to both you and Aracely. Although, Aracely and your siblings seem to take after your mother more, while you take after your father.” Hadrian nodded, lost in thought.

“What will happen when-if-Elena gets her memories back?” he asked, “I mean, she’s still married to Tom, but she’s also married to Brandon. Not to mention, what would happen to the kids?”

“I don’t know,” Draco said, “But that, at least, is something we have no control over. Elena and Tom will have to figure that out.” Hadrian wanted to push more, unsatisfied with the answer, but then the picture from the orb re-appeared.

Aracely knelt in front of her trunk and pressed her palm on what appeared to be a random spot, and the trunk shrank to fit in the palm of her hand. She placed the trunk in her pocket, then picked up a small dagger that had been sitting on top of her desk. Aracely crossed back over to the mirror and stared at her reflection for a few seconds, before holding her empty hand palm up and drawing the dagger across it quickly, making a shallow cut across the palm.

“Aperto il via,” she said, and the glass began to shimmer, “Mostrare me il sentiero alla…Pruitt Estate.” As she spoke the last word, the mirror glowed brightly for several seconds, and when the light faded the glass of the mirror had vanished. Instead, there was a dark path, with a warm light at the end. Aracely smiled brightly and then stepped through the now empty mirror frame, showing no hesitation as she started walking down the dark path.

Hadrian and Draco watched as Aracely turned a corner and faded from sight; since she was no longer visible, the glass returned to the mirror, reflecting an empty room and the orb went dark once again.

“Well, Aracely found her own way out,” Draco said once the images faded, “From what she said earlier, I would gather she has gone to your grandfather for assistance. I have never seen mirrors used in that manner before; I had no idea mirrors could be used for travel!”

“Did you understand what she was saying?” Hadrian asked, “I didn’t recognize the language.”

“It was Italian,” Draco replied, “She was basically calling on magic to open the path, and show her the way to the Pruitt Estate, which must be where your grandparent’s live. She must have been using family magic to open the mirror; some families have spells that are unique to them, and they guard the magic jealously.”

“I wonder how far you can travel using the mirror,” Hadrian mused, then shrugged, “Well, at least she got away from Brandon; I just hope that her-I mean our-grandfather will really help her.”

“I am certain he will,” Draco said reassuringly, “It sounds as if he did not agree with the arranged marriage. You can check on her again in a few days; at least we know she is out of immediate danger.”

“Yeah,” Hadrian agreed, “I guess I don’t need to worry as much anymore. Ready to go inside?”

“Alright,” Draco said, standing and then helping Hadrian to his feet, “Do you want to work on our summer assignments? Or, we could start working on the translation.”

“Let’s start the translation,” Hadrian said, “We also need to figure out when we should invite Hermione and Ginny over.”

“I was thinking about that earlier,” Draco said, “and perhaps we should see if we can meet them at Longbottom’s house instead; Mother and Father won’t be pleased if we tell Granger and Weasley the truth without their permission, and they wanted to wait until Severus figures out a way to heal Aunt Bella.”

“Right, Hadrian frowned, “I’ll owl Neville later then. So…back inside?” The two boys made their way back to the house, Arden perched on Draco’s shoulder as was becoming his norm.

“Hello boys,” Narcissa called out to them as they passed the library, “I am glad to see you were out enjoying the weather. How is Arden today?” Arden gave a happy sound almost like a purr, causing Narcissa to laugh delightedly, “He really is amazing Hadrian; I still can’t believe you just stumbled across him in Diagon Alley.

“Me neither,” Hadrian agreed, “But it was almost as if he was calling to me…”

“He may have been,” Draco said, “Dragons like Arden choose their companions, and he was most likely sending out a call that only you were able to hear. Regardless, I am very happy to have him. Did you have a pleasant morning Mother?”

“Yes; I was in the study speaking with the portrait of Lily and James,” Hadrian looked up sharply at this; he knew that the Potter’s weren’t truly his family, but sometimes it was hard to remember that; “You and Hadrian can come speak to them sometime as well; Lily is requesting to speak with Tom and Severus today though, so it will have to be another day.”

“Perhaps tomorrow,” Draco said, taking Hadrian’s hand in his own, “Hades and I were planning to start on the translation today anyway.”

“What about your summer work?”

“We have already done some of it,” Hadrian replied, “We planned on working on it a little every morning-well at least until our new training schedule begins next week.”

“It is good that you are getting started on it early,” Narcissa smiled approvingly as they entered the house, “I am off to contact Lucius, so I will see you both at supper tonight.” The boys told her goodbye and headed up the stairs back to their room to begin working on the Parseltongue translation.

 

*********************************************************************************

“He made copies for me,” Hadrian announced as he walked into the sitting room where Draco was reading the book on Parseltongue that Tom had given him for his birthday; “Look, Dray!” Hadrian thrust a stack of books at Draco, and the blond saw that they were the books written by Salazar Slytherin; “Tom said that he thinks we are old enough to help more, but that if we tell Narcissa he gave us these he’ll deny it and drop us into a colony of Cornish Pixies.” Both boys shuddered at the thought; Draco hadn’t been in that memorable DADA class, but Hadrian had and the brunet could still remember poor Neville hanging from a chandelier.

It was just before dinner, and a couple hours ago Tom had shown up to take Hadrian to Riddle Manor so that they could talk; Hadrian and Tom had spent two hours getting to know each other and when Hadrian had mentioned an interest in the Slytherin books Tom had been only too happy to make copies. The two had also discussed Hadrian’s inheritance, which he would be receiving in a few weeks on his sixteenth birthday, and Hadrian discovered that he would be able to hear Sirius’ will at that time as well. Tom had told Harry a little bit about Elena and had promised to find pictures of her; Tom said he was certain there had to be some in the family vault. Hadrian, of course, had already seen Elena through the twin orb, but he couldn’t tell Tom that.

At the end of two hours Hadrian had reluctantly left Riddle Manor; he had promised Draco to return in two hours so that the blond wouldn’t worry. Now he followed Draco over to the love seat and sat down next to the blond, expecting that Draco would want to look at the books.  He was surprised when, instead, Draco took the stack from him, set it carefully to the side, and then promptly twisted so that he was straddling Hadrian.

“Wha-?” Draco leant in and pressed their lips together in a passionate kiss, nibbling and licking as he sought entrance to Hadrian’s mouth. When Hadrian parted his lips Draco eagerly lapped at the warm cavern, teasing Hadrian’s tongue with his own. He kept one hand tangled in the other boys dark locks, and trailed the other one down so that he could caress Hadrian’s chest beneath his shirt. Hadrian moaned into the kiss, involuntarily thrusting upwards when Draco flicked his nipple. When Hadrian felt Draco’s erection through their combined layers of clothing he thought about stopping, but instead found his hands clutching tightly to Draco’s waist as he rutted against the Veela.

“Oh Merlin!” Hadrian gasped, turning his head away to take a few breaths of desperately needed air. Draco let out a soft chuckle and trailed kisses down his neck, licking and nipping at his collar bone before setting in to mark Hadrian’s neck. Hadrian felt the brush of teeth against his skin and realized Draco was making a hickey, but it only added to the sensation; just when he thought it couldn’t get any better, Draco maneuvered them so that Hadrian was lying down on the loveseat and Draco was better able to thrust against him.

“Draco-I’m-” the warning came too late; Hadrian’s back arched and he cried out his pleasure, only vaguely noticing as Draco did the same. They lay there panting for several minutes, and then Draco reached for his wand-which was coincidentally sitting on the end table next to the loveseat-and cast a cleansing charm.

“So that was a planned ambush, I take it?” Hadrian asked, for some reason finding it highly amusing that Draco had planned the whole thing.

“You were gone for several hours,” came the haughty reply, “I just wanted to ensure that you had not forgotten about me while you were away. Not, of course, that one could forget a Malfoy, but still…better safe than sorry. Now, did you enjoy spending time with Tom?”

“I did,” Hadrian confirmed, pushing at Draco’s chest until the blond sat up, allowing him to do the same, “It’s still strange to think that I have a father, but it’s a good kind of strange. We talked a lot, and he told me some of the things he remembered about my mom. I keep wondering if we should tell him that we are able to see Aracely…”

“I think we should wait,” Draco replied, “He is bound to get angry when he discovers that Elena is remarried and forcing Aracely into an arranged marriage; he’s gotten better, but you know he still isn’t completely sane. Remember, you can check on her whenever you want, and if things get worse then we can get others involved.”

“I suppose,” Hadrian agreed, albeit reluctantly, “What did you do while I was gone?”

“Just a bit of reading,” Draco shrugged, “Mother also came by and said that Neville and Madame Longbottom will be coming over for tea tomorrow; I sent an owl asking Blaise and Theo to come over as well.”

“It would be a good idea to see how they act together,” Hadrian said, “Luna will probably be here too, if Neville is coming; I noticed she tends to spend a lot of time with Neville lately.”

“Perhaps they are dating,” Draco suggested, “Come on; let’s get ready for dinner; Severus is coming over tonight, I believe.”

The boys quickly dressed for dinner in a pair of casual robes and then headed downstairs, only to be notified by a house elf that they would be dining alone; Severus was with Dumbledore, Lucius was meeting with Tom again, and Narcissa was having dinner with some other Death Eater wives in order to keep up appearances. It was odd to Hadrian, sitting at the dining room table with just himself and Draco, but he just shrugged and sat next to his boyfriend. They ate supper at a leisurely rate, and then went back upstairs where they began looking through the books Tom had given Hadrian. Arden-who had been exploring the manor on his own that day-reappeared when they sat down in the sitting room and immediately climbed on the back of the couch to wrap himself around Draco’s shoulders.

“I’m not much help, I’m afraid,” Draco said as he flipped through one of the books, “I can’t understand any of this.” Arden nuzzled his neck, and Draco reached up to pet him absentmindedly.

 “Well, I can read the Parseltongue, of course, but all these symbols…” Hadrian trailed off thoughtfully, “Tom mentioned that Runes and Arithmancy were used to write the books as well; didn’t you take both of those classes?”

“I did,” Draco confirmed, “and I do recognize a few symbols here, but the runes will only make sense once everything else is translated, for they can have different interpretations depending on the context.” He paused as he looked over the page again, “Now that you mention it, I do recognize some Arithmancy formula’s as well; I should be able to decipher them eventually; however, it will take a while as they are very complex.”

“Hmm, then maybe we should set these aside until we have finished all our summer work,” Hadrian suggested, “We can work on translating Mathias Gryffindor’s potions journals instead.”

“Tom didn’t give you the other journals?” Draco questioned, and Hadrian shook his head, frowning.

“No,” he replied, “Tom said that some of the rituals in the journals are very dark, and he doesn’t want to let us see them until he has had a chance to go through everything.”

“Very well,” Draco sighed, “We can spend an hour or so translating the potions journal.” He summoned a quill and some parchment, before reluctantly setting it aside to accept the pen and notebook Hadrian handed to him.

“This will be a lot more convenient,” Hadrian reasoned, “Even your father is using it to help Tom translate the journals.” Arden stretched out his neck to sniff at the notebook, and then gave an approving chirp, causing Draco to roll his eyes and Hadrian to grin.

“Carry on then,” Draco said, looking at Hadrian expectantly as he opened the notebook to the first blank page.

The boys spent the next hour translating the potions journal, and then Draco insisted Hadrian begin his potions assignment; Draco had, of course, already finished his. Draco set to work on his essay for History of Magic, occasionally setting it aside to help Hadrian with something he didn’t understand, and by bedtime both Hadrian’s potions assignment and Draco’s history essay were complete.

 

Chapter Text

“I am not changing my clothes again,” Hadrian scowled at Draco, who was headed back to the closet, “This is the third outfit you made me try on; it’s just Mrs. Longbottom-she already knows me, and my clothes aren’t going to impress her. Not to mention, they should be here in ten minutes.”

“Fine,” Draco huffed, “I’m only trying to help; I can’t help it if you have no fashion sense.”

“Whatever,” Hadrian rolled his eyes; he chose not to argue-or point out the fact that his sense of fashion had nothing to do with it, as Draco had been the one to pick out and reject the first two outfits, “What robes should I wear? The dark red ones?” Hadrian was wearing black slacks, black shoes, and a red shirt.

“No,” Draco vanished into the closet and re-emerged a few moments later with an emerald green shirt and a robe a few shades darker, “The shirt you have on clashes with what I’m wearing; if you change into the green shirt, I promise I won’t make you change again today.”

Hadrian glared at Draco for a moment, and silently acknowledged that Draco’s silver shirt and dark blue robes would clash with his own outfit, before sighing and snatching the clothes from his clothing-obsessed Veela. He quickly changed shirts, and then pulled the robe on over it all before crossing his arms and pinning Draco with a hard stare.

“Much better,” Draco approved, “Although, now your hair needs to be seen to again.”

“I can brush my own hair, thank you very much,” Hadrian picked up the brush before Draco had a chance, and quickly ran it through his dark locks, “Ready to go? Where’s Arden?” A soft chirrup had Hadrian looking behind him, and he located Arden on top of the bookshelf, the platinum collar Draco had put around his neck earlier held between his teeth. When he saw that he had their attention, Arden dropped the collar onto the floor and blew a puff of smoke towards Draco, who scowled up at the miniature dragon.

“You ungrateful lizard,” he said, “Do you know how much that collar cost?” Arden responded with a derisive snort that made it plain he didn’t care, and then leapt off the bookshelf, gliding over to Hadrian who easily caught the dragon.

“You knew he probably wouldn’t like it,” Hadrian reminded the pouting blond as Arden climbed up to wrap around his shoulders, “Dragon’s don’t like to be marked; you told me that, so stop pouting. Come on; we should go downstairs before your mother sends a house elf up.” Draco’s pout lessened some when Hadrian took his hand, and he dropped the pout completely when the brunet leaned up to give him a kiss on the cheek, followed by Arden nuzzling his neck.

“I suppose I forgive you, Arden,” Draco said, “Speaking of house elf’s, I spoke to Father yesterday and he said that he is willing to bind Dobby to the Manor and assign him to you until you take possession of one of your own properties, or you can ask Tom to bind him to Riddle Manor as your house elf.”

“I didn’t even think of asking Tom,” Hadrian admitted, “I’ll contact Dobby after we get back from the Ministry on Monday and see which he would prefer. Is your father supposed to be here today?”

“I believe Mother and Madame Longbottom will be the only adults,” Draco replied, “Mother is slightly annoyed because Father, Severus and Tom continuously forget to tell her about their plans, and so she has “forgotten” to tell them about tea with Madame Longbottom.” Hadrian laughed at that, shaking his head as he allowed Draco to lead the way downstairs, where they found Narcissa waiting for them.

“Right on time,” Narcissa smiled, “Our guests should be arriving in a few minutes. Madame Longbottom and I will be talking about subjects that we need to keep away from your friends for now, so she and I will have tea in the garden and leave you to amuse your friends. Also, I have been advised that Luna Lovegood will be coming along as well.” Hadrian and Draco simply nodded; they had expected Luna would be joining them. Before more could be said, a house elf appeared to announce the arrival of their guests, and Narcissa led the way to the receiving room.

“Madame Longbottom,” Narcissa greeted the stately woman with a smile and a respectful nod, “I am happy to welcome you and your son to my home. This is my son, Draco, and his mate Hadrian.”

“Hadrian?” Augusta Longbottom frowned, “Looks like Harry Potter to me. What are you playing at?”

“I have asked the house elves to set up tea in the garden,” Narcissa replied, “Once we sit down I will be happy to explain everything, as well as provide you with proof to back up my words.” She turned her attention to the four teenage guests and smiled, “It is good to see you again, Blaise and Theodore. Luna and Neville-please be welcome in my home.”

“Thank you for inviting us,” Theo replied, giving Narcissa a small book with a dark blue cover as a hostess gift.

“Mother sends her greetings, as well as this,” Blaise added, presenting a bottle of wine.

“Thank you for inviting Luna and I to your home,” Neville concluded the polite greetings, and gave their hostess a crystal vase, which instantaneously filled with flowers when Narcissa took it.

“Thank you all for the lovely gifts,” Narcissa beamed, “Draco? Why don’t you and Hadrian take your friends upstairs? I will send a house elf when Madame Longbottom is ready to go.”

“Yes, Mother,” Draco agreed, before bowing politely to Augusta.

“It’s nice to see you again, Mrs. Longbottom,” Hadrian added, then turned to address their friends, “Come on; we can go eat out on the balcony, right Dray?”

“Well, it would be rude of me to say no now, wouldn’t it?” Draco drawled as he released Hadrian’s hand to link arms with his mate, “Very well; this way.”

Narcissa waited until the teens had left before turning her attention back to Augusta.

“This way please, Madame Longbottom,” she led the way out to a side garden, where tea had been set up and placed under a warming charm. “Milk?” She asked, as she served the tea.

“No thank you,” Augusta said primly, “Just a bit of honey, if you please.” She accepted the cup of tea with a nod of thanks, and took a sip before asking her fist question. “Wherever did your son acquire a miniature dragon?”

“Hadrian gifted it to him for his birthday,” Narcissa replied, “He found it in a shop in Diagon Alley.”

“Why do you refer to Harry Potter as Hadrian?”

“It has to do with the letter I forwarded to you,” Narcissa told her, “I can place the tea back under a stasis charm if you would rather view the memories I have for you first.”

“I believe that would be best,” Augusta replied, “Where are these memories?”

“Wispy,” Narcissa called, and the house elf appeared with the pensieve, having been given her orders prior to Augusta’s arrival. Narcissa accepted the pensieve and placed it in front of her guest, not even noticing the disappearance of her house elf. “The memories will take some time for you to view; I would offer to join you, however I cannot bear to watch them again.” Augusta nodded her understanding and pushed her teacup away, and then entered the pensieve without any hesitation. Narcissa pulled the book Theo gave her-it was a rare book on creating flower hybrids-out of the folds of her robe and settled in to read until Augusta was finished with the memories.

It was two hours later when Augusta emerged from the pensieve, her face pale but determined.

“What are your plans, Narcissa?” she demanded, “How do you expect to best Dumbledore when he has fooled the entire wizarding world?”

“We have no plans to confront Dumbledore yet,” Narcissa replied calmly, as she snapped her fingers; Wispy appeared with a bow and then vanished with the pensieve; “We know that it would be reckless to do so. First, we are focusing on healing the damage done to Tom, as well as researching a way to heal the mind-damage Dumbledore caused to others.”

“If you mean my Frank and Alice, then you are wasting your time,” Augusta said matter-of-factly, “The best healers of our age have been able to do nothing for them.”

“But the best healers of our age do not have access to Salazar Slytherins’ personal journals,” Narcissa replied with a sly smile, “We do. Tom, Lucius and Severus are working on translating them right now; in his writing Slytherin suggests that he did develop a way to heal mind damage caused by being subjected to the Cruciatus. Of course, it will take some time for them to translate the mixture of Parseltongue, Arithmancy and Runes that the book was written in.”

“Then I shall not yet get my hopes up,” Augusta said, “What else do you plan?”

“We intend to give people back their memories,” Narcissa informed her, “We are going to move slowly though, and choose carefully who to reveal the truth to first; we don’t want anyone learning the truth and then inadvertently alerting Dumbledore. As we do this, we plan to slowly undermine his authority.”

“You are keeping the children out of this?” Narcissa nodded, and Augusta shook her head in disappointment, “Well, I can’t tell you what to do with Draco, however it would be better to keep them informed; the boys are nearly adults, and they won’t appreciate being excluded. However, I will abide by your wishes and keep your plans secret from Neville as well; at least for the time being.”

“We have explained to Hadrian and Draco how dangerous this is,” Narcissa replied with a frown, “They don’t like it, but they do understand why we don’t want them involved.” Augusta gave Narcissa a look that said she doubted the younger woman’s sanity, but chose not to say anything else on the matter.

“Very well,” she bowed her head briefly, “Shall we finish our tea while you go over the rest of your plans?” Narcissa happily agreed, inwardly smirking at the look she imagined would be on Lucius’ face when he realized she had accomplished what he thought would be a difficult task, as she filled Augusta in on what she knew of their plans; after tea, she would allow Augusta to meet with James and Lily’s portrait.

***********

“Well, that was interesting,” Draco said, “I never thought Luna and Blaise would be the ones to get into an argument.” It was later that night, after supper, and he and Hadrian were lounging in the window seat before going to bed.

“Luna gets very…emotional about her creatures,” Hadrian replied, leaning into Draco’s embrace and sighing happily, “She gave Hermione the cold shoulder for a week once because Hermione told her that cinnadoms were “silly creatures thought up by the overactive imagination of a child”. I also think Luna was responsible for Hermione’s hair turning purple, but no one could ever prove it, and Luna just insists that is was the cinnadoms because they don’t like disbelievers.” He paused for a moment and then added; “Still, that hex of hers was really creative.”

“Turning Blaise’s eyes into leaves and the eyebrows into caterpillars was brilliant,” Draco agreed, “Although I suppose it is a good thing that Longbottom reversed the spell before Blaise’s eyebrows could eat his eyes. I’m sure Sev could have brewed a potion to restore them, but Blaise would probably never get over it.”

“Hmm,” Hadrian hummed in agreement, “Theo has new respect for Luna now; I saw the shock on his face. And after that everyone got along alright.” Draco nodded his agreement, and then noticed that Hadrian was yawning.

“Ready for bed?” he asked, and the brunet nodded. They each changed into their pajamas, but when they made it over to the bed they saw that someone had already beat them to it.

“Arden!” Draco cried, scowling as Harry doubled over in laughter, “What do you think you’re doing?” Arden, who had been sleeping peacefully, cracked open one eye and hissed at Draco before burrowing under a pillow. “Don’t you hiss at me!” Harry sat on the floor, holding his sides as he continued laughing at the sight of Draco chastising his dragon…who had made a nest on the bed.

Sometime in the evening, Arden had climbed into the bed and piled all the pillows into the middle. He had then untucked the comforter and sheets and pushed them into a mound around the pillows. Somehow, he had gotten a hold of Draco’s Quidditch robes and a Slytherin scarf, and he was using those to cover up with.

“If you want your own bed I’ll get you one,” Draco said, “but you cannot commandeer mine!” He reached into the nest of blankets and picked Arden up, yelping when the dragon bit him. “You bit me!” Draco cried, glaring at the dragon that he had dropped back on the bed; “You ungrateful little-”

“Dray, calm down,” Hadrian said, having finally gotten his laughter under control, “I’m sure Arden didn’t mean to hurt you; you probably startled him when you grabbed him so suddenly. If you stop yelling he might be willing to listen to you.” Draco scowled, but then nodded his understanding and looked back at the little dragon, who was now hiding under a pillow with only his nose and his blue eyes visible.

“I’m not mad at you, Arden,” Draco sighed, sitting down on the bed, “Irritated maybe, but not mad, and I know you didn’t mean to hurt me. Will you come out now?” Arden made a soft chirrup and slowly crawled out from under the pillow, warily watching Draco. The blond moved his hand slowly, so as not to startle the dragon, and gently stoked the smooth scales. Arden turned his head and licked the tiny teeth marks where he had bitten Draco, and they healed over.

“Okay, now pick him up and I’ll fix the bed,” Hadrian said; Draco carefully picked Arden up and smiled when the miniature dragon curled up in his arms. A few spells later and Hadrian had the bed fixed; he then summoned the bedding from his room and piled it at the foot of the bed. “This way we can have our bed, and Arden can have his nest,” he explained to Draco.

“Good idea,” Draco praised; he set Arden down, and the dragon immediately set about fixing the bedding to his liking, letting out a pleased chirp when he discovered Draco’s robe and scarf to be among the pile. Draco scowled at Hadrian, but the other boy just smiled unapologetically.

“He likes it,” Hadrian shrugged as he got into bed.

“He’s ruining them,” Draco grumbled, sliding in beside Harry, “He’s lucky I have to get new ones this year anyway.”

“If you’re getting new robes anyway then stop complaining,” Hadrian said, yawning, “Go to sleep.” He turned over onto his side and snuggled down into the blanket. Draco grumbled softly a bit more before laying down behind Hadrian; he spooned his boyfriend, wrapping an arm around Hadrian’s waist and smiling when the brunet turned his head for a brief kiss before settling down to sleep.

 

Chapter Text

"I wonder what your dad wants," Hadrian mused as he and Draco walked towards Lucius study on the first floor, "and why didn't he say anything at supper?" It was a few days after Augusta Longbottom had been informed of the truth (Lucius and Tom had been surprised to find that Narcissa had won her over so quickly) and Hadrian and Draco had been in their rooms studying-Hadrian studying Mathias' journal and Draco the Parseltongue book Tom had given him for his birthday-when Tippy had appeared to say that Lucius had requested their presence.

"No idea," Draco shrugged elegantly, "We shall find out soon enough. Arden! Do not flame the decorations!" The small dragon turned away from the statue he had been about to flame-the statue was of a wizard slaying a dragon-and hissed at Draco. "Don't give me that;" Draco glared right back, "That is a priceless work of art, and Mother would skin you alive if you destroyed it. Besides, you aren't supposed to use your flame too much just yet, and you know it." Arden's' glare became sullen as he hissed again, then turned to continue down the hall.

"You may want to talk to Narcissa about removing any artwork that Arden could find offensive," Hadrian suggested, smiling at the bi-play between his boyfriend and the young dragon, "Otherwise he will probably just wait and destroy the art when no one is around to stop him."

"The house elves will stop him," Draco said nonchalantly, "This is simply art, and he shouldn't get offended anyway. Did you know that Parseltongue is similar to Dragontongue? The book Tom gave me said that it is possible, with some practice, for a Parselmouth to learn Dragontongue as well."

"Really?" Hadrian's eyes shone with excitement, "That could be really cool. You know, I never even recognize when I'm speaking or reading Parseltongue; maybe I should study the book with you."

"It couldn't hurt," Draco agreed, "I'm sure it would be useful for you to be able to speak Parseltongue when you want to, instead of it happening unintentionally. Hello Father," Draco gave Lucius a nod as they entered the study, "Mother, Severus, Tom." He nodded to everyone before taking a seat, Hadrian willingly sitting next to him with Arden settling on the floor in front of the fireplace.

"There you are, boys," Lucius greeted them, "We have some important information to discuss with you. Do you recall in the memories when Dumbledore forced Tom to create Horcruxes?" Harry and Draco both nodded. "Well, there was a final Horcrux created that no one that night-aside from possibly Dumbledore-was aware of."

"I thought that you were handling the horcruxes," Hadrian frowned, "You said you didn't want us going near them because they were such dark magic."

"We are handling them, for the most part," Tom said, "Severus already collected two of them yesterday and Lucius and I have almost finished translating the ritual to restore those two pieces of my soul. The last horcrux that was created, however, affects the two of you specifically. That night in Godric’s Hollow, when Dumbledore forced me to cast the Killing Curse, part of me rebelled against it; the love of Lily and James, and my own love, shielded you from most of the curse, and then caused it to rebound upon me, destroying my body and fragmenting my soul once more."

"The larger part of Tom's soul fled," Severus took up the explanation, "but a portion of it remained behind, seeking a safe haven." Hadrian swallowed nervously when Severus' black eyes rested on him; no, on his scar. "His soul recognized you, Hadrian, despite the potion Dumbledore forced you to drink."

"Hadrian is a Horcrux," Draco said calmly, although his eyes flashed silver, "I want Tom's soul removed from my mate now." Draco's voice trembled with barely suppressed fury, and Hadrian looked down to see that Draco had balled his hands into fists, sharp talons piercing the palms. Hadrian frowned and took one of Draco's hands in his own, uncurling it and clasping their hands together; this calmed the Veela slightly, and his talons retracted before he could hurt Hadrian.

"It will be done as soon as possible," Lucius told his son, "We still have to finish translating the ritual first, and we need the translation for the potion."

"We can have that finished tomorrow; we already have all the ingredients translated," Draco said, then sighed, "However, the potion takes six weeks to brew, and it has to be timed so that it is finished brewing on the night of a full moon."

"The ritual will take a few more days to finish translating," Tom pulled out the notebook with the translation in it, "and it has to be started on the night of a new moon. Severus has said it will be best to remove the piece of soul from Hadrian and return it to me all in the same day."

"That is correct," Narcissa spoke up, looking down at her own notes; "We cannot remove the soul from Hadrian until we are ready to return it to you, otherwise the piece of soul may become lost. Draco, if you finish the potions translation tomorrow we can go shopping for any necessary ingredients while we are out. I have set up an appointment to get custody of Hadrian for one o'clock tomorrow, so we can leave early and get the potions ingredients before-hand."

"If we put a halt to our other plans, perhaps Tom and I could have the other translation finished tomorrow as well," Lucius mused, "Then we can perform the ritual on the new moon in August."

"I suppose that is the best we can do," Draco frowned, clearly not happy.

"It will be alright," Hadrian said, "At least now I know why I always had such a strong connection to Tom; I've had part of his soul in me since I was a baby. And, since Tom isn't crazy anymore, my scar hasn't been hurting me either. What time are we leaving tomorrow?" Hadrian turned his attention to Narcissa, "I'd like to visit the twins again if I can."

"I'm sure we can manage that," Narcissa smiled, "We will leave at ten; this will give us time to buy the potions ingredients and then stop by the joke shop. Is there anything else we need to do tomorrow?"

"I would like to go to the library," Draco said, "Perhaps after the ministry, if it isn't too late?"

"If you intend to be gone all day then I shall accompany you," Severus volunteered, "We cannot be too careful, now that Dumbledore knows Hadrian is with you."

"Okay; did you need to talk to us about anything else?" Hadrian asked, "If we work on it, I think we can finish translating the potion before we go to bed."

"That is all for tonight," Tom said, "Just remember, we will start your new schedules this week as well."

"I will send a house elf to wake you boys in the morning," Narcissa added, "Good night, boys." Hadrian and Draco bid the adults good night, and then returned to Draco's room so that they could work on the translation.

**

"Hey Fred!" Hadrian called out as he entered the twins joke shop with Draco at his side, "Is George here?"

"He's upstairs," Fred replied, "Ginny and Hermione are with him. Luckily, Ron had to go get fitted for new robes, so he isn't here yet, although he will probably be here later this afternoon. What's going on?"

"Nothing," Hadrian shrugged, "We came with Narcissa and Severus; they're getting some stuff and we're supposed to meet them for lunch before we all go to the ministry later. Can we go up? It might be a good time to talk to Hermione and Ginny."

"I'm not too sure that is a good idea," Draco argued, "If the Weasel is supposed to be here soon, we won't have the time to show them all of the memories they need to see. Also, I thought we agreed that they shouldn't be shown until they can be away from Mr. and Mrs. Weasley for a few days, so that they have time to process the information to avoid giving anything away by accident."

"Well, we won't tell them everything today," Hadrian said reasonably, "We can just tell them the basics-like that your dad isn't evil, and Tom was forced to become Voldemort." Draco was silent for a moment, then he nodded and turned to Fred.

"We will tell them the basic information, enough to get them interested," Draco said, "With your permission, of course; you have grown up as Ginerva's older brother, and if you wish us to delay this conversation then we will, but only until school begins. Hush, Hadrian;" Draco turned to glance quickly at his mate, who was opening his mouth to argue, "Fred and George are our allies, at the very least, and your friends. They also consider Ginerva to be their younger sister, and we will respect their wishes in this, at least for now; there is no reason to rush revealing the information, not when there is so much that still needs to be done."

"And this conversation is better held elsewhere," Fred spoke up, "We don't have any customers at the moment, but that could quickly change. Come on." He led them to the back of the store, where Lee Jordan was going through some boxes. "Oi! Lee! Watch the store for a bit? I'll be upstairs if you need anything."

"Sure Fred," Lee agreed readily, "I've got this new stock priced, so I'll just put it out on the shelf, yeah? 'Lo Harry; did you know you have a Mini Malfoy following you?"

"I'm taller than you are," Draco shot back, but the Gryffindor ignored him to focus on Hadrian.

"Yeah, he's always there," Hadrian took Draco's hand and replied to Lee, "Just ran into him one day, and he hasn't left me alone since. Can't seem to get rid of him no matter what I do."

"Ah well, could be worse," Lee grinned, "Could be stuck with the likes of Crabbe or Goyle."

"Thanks for that image," Hadrian shuddered, "When you put it that way, Draco really is the lesser evil." He sighed and then turned his head to look at the blond, "Guess that means I'll have to keep him."

Hadrian noticed with a start that Draco's eyes had started to glow silver and a quick glance down revealed that his fingers were tipped with talons. Hadrian frowned; why were Draco's Veela traits coming out? All he'd been doing was joking with Lee-oh! Draco's instincts must be acting up, making him think Hadrian was serious about not really wanting him; he gave an internal sigh-hopefully Draco’s possessiveness would die down soon.

"Dray," Hadrian said softly, leaning closer so that Lee and Fred wouldn't be able to hear him, "I was just joking. I-I like having you with me; it makes me feel safe. There isn't anyone else I want." Silver eyes gazed at him searchingly for a moment, then Draco gave the barest of nods before swooping down to press their lips together in a swift, hard kiss.

"I'll make you pay for that little joke later, Hades," Draco whispered as he pulled back, "I don't like feeling jealous." Draco's eyes were now back to their regular grey, and Hadrian smiled up at him before turning back to Lee, only to find that he had gone.

"The slacker went back to work," Fred said cheerfully, "Come on." Hadrian and Draco followed him up the stairs, "You can tell Ginny and Hermione a little bit about what is going on, but I think you should wait until we can get them away from Mum and Dad for a few days before you tell them the details." Hadrian nodded his agreement, then stopped behind Fred as the red-head opened the door to his and George's living quarters. Right away his gaze was drawn to a couch where Hermione and Ginny were sitting, looking through a catalogue. George was sitting at a nearby desk, and was the first to notice them.

Harry! Draco!" He called out cheerfully, "Fancy seeing you here! So, did you try out any of the new items we sent to you?"

"Not yet," Draco replied, "Although Hadrian is at least slightly happier with the new collar you made for him."

"The spells on it are useful," Hadrian agreed, then glared at Draco, "Although I still don't see why it has to be a collar; couldn't you have done the same thing with a ring?"

"Why, Hadrian," Fred smirked, "Is that your way of hinting that you want Draco to propose to you?"

"What?" Hadrian gasped and shook his head, "No! Of course not!" A soft growl had him remembering that ne needed to be mindful of the Veela beside him, and he hastened to add, "We're still young, and it's too early to be worrying about things like that…" Hadrian frowned as he remembered that Veela mate for life, "…I'm not in any hurry for something like that, not when Draco and I are still getting to know each other."

"I agree," Draco said, "There is no need to rush things." He paused, then added, "Besides, it will take at least a year for any jeweler to create a ring to my specifications, and then I will have to make sure that it has all the appropriate protection spells, so Hadrian will have to wait at least a year before I can propose to him." Hermione and Ginny had been listening to the exchange silently, too shocked by the subject of the conversation to say anything, but now that had worn off, and Hermione jumped to her feet, shoving the catalogue at Ginny.

"Harry James Potter!" she cried, rushing across the room, only to come to a sudden stop when Draco moved to stand between her and Hadrian. "What has gotten into you? First you accuse us of betraying you, then you seek safety with the Malfoy's and beat up Ron, and now you're dating Malfoy?! Have you lost your mind?"

"No," Hadrian replied calmly, oddly pleased that Draco had leapt in front of him like that, "I have very good reasons for everything I've done this summer, and I'll tell you as much as I can while we have time. Draco won't calm down until you move away from us, so you should probably go sit next to Ginny."

"Why is he acting like that?" Hermione frowned, trying to look around Draco so that she could see Hadrian, "He acts like he thinks I'm going to hurt you, like he would care if I hurt you." She sniffed at the idea, "Obviously he's just being a prat and trying to keep you away from me."

"Actually, Hermione, Draco here is trying to protect Harry from you," George said quite cheerfully, "The way you rushed over shouting a moment ago made it look like you were about to attack Harry, and Draco promised him Sanctuary, which means he will do his best to protect Harry from any threat."

"That's not why Malfoy is acting like that," Ginny spoke up from where she was still sitting on the couch, catalogue forgotten at her feet, "He just turned sixteen, didn't he?" She didn't wait for an answer, but pressed on, "Yes, and he came into an Inheritance over the summer, I can tell by the way his eyes are all glowing and silvery. Come sit down 'Mione; Malfoy really is protecting Harry, and he won't relax until you move away."

Hermione frowned, but moved to rejoin Ginny on the couch; once she was seated, the younger girl continued her explanation, "You see, Draco Malfoy is a Veela…" she paused, obviously bracing herself to say the rest, "…and Harry is his mate." Solemn brown eyes met intense silver, and she watched as they faded to Draco's normal eye color.

"Very good, Ginerva," Draco said with a small smirk, "Hadrian is my mate, and I don't take any threats lightly. Which reminds me; tell the Weasel that he is going to pay for the injuries he inflicted on my mate. At the time I was more worried about Hadrian's safety, but Ronald will be held accountable for his actions." He paused thoughtfully before adding, "I'm still trying to decide whether I should punish the two of you for standing back and letting it happen. Of course, that is a concern for another time." Draco drew his wand and conjured a wide armchair; he led Hadrian over to it and sat down before pulling the brunet to sit in his lap.

"Draco," Hadrian sighed, "I can sit in my own chair; no one here is going to attack me."

"I don't know that," Draco replied, tightening an arm around Hadrian's waist, "You can either sit with me, or we can leave."

"Harry! Are you really going to let him talk to you like that?" Hermione demanded, "He's acting like-"

"A dominant Veela worried about the safety of his mate," Fred interrupted as George joined him by the door, "Really, Hermione, didn't you ever read up on Veela? Draco is going to keep Harry close to him as long as he feels that there are potential threats in the room."

"I can protect myself, you know," Hadrian turned his head to look at Draco, "I've been doing it for years."

"That was before you had me," Draco replied, "Now you have me to look after you. I'm not saying that I'll hold you back and prevent you from fighting your own battles, but if I can protect you then why shouldn't I? You forget, Hadrian, if you die then I die as well. I'd rather keep you safe, if it's all the same."

"You can't protect me from everything," Hadrian grumbled, but the fact that he leaned into Draco's embrace and relaxed stopped the blond from arguing.

"So, you were going to explain what's going on?" Ginny prompted, and Hadrian nodded.

"I can't tell you everything yet," he said, "because there really isn't enough time, and most of the stuff you won't believe without seeing the memories, which we didn't bring with us today. I'll tell you what I can though, but only if you promise not to talk about it with anyone outside of this room, except Neville and Luna." Ginny agreed immediately, but it took a few minutes to gain Hermione's reluctant agreement.

Once they had it, Hadrian launched into his story, giving the twins a nod when they slipped out of the room. He started his explanations with the night that he had run away from the Dursley's, and the conversation he had overheard. When it came time to tell about what happened at Malfoy Manor, he began editing the information, simply saying that Draco and Snape had healed him. He left out all mentions of Tom, because that would be too difficult to explain without telling them about what Dumbledore did to their parents, and there wasn't enough time for that.

"…so, you see, Draco saved my life and agreed to grant me sanctuary even when he knew it could get him in trouble," Hadrian concluded, "Severus-he's been helping to look after me-arranged for me to get some information about…my parents wills." Hadrian hesitated over the wording, but it wasn't time yet to let Ginny know the truth about her heritage. "I can't share everything with you, but I can tell you that my parents never wanted me to stay with the Dursley's, and we've been told a lot of other lies over the years."

"I-I just can't believe any of this," Hermione was the first to respond, face pale, "Your aunt and uncle really abused you, Harry?"

"They did, and his name is not Harry," Draco was the one to reply, "He has chosen to go by Hadrian now, to separate himself from the pawn he has been in the past; you would do well to remember that-both his new name, and the fact that Hadrian will no longer allow people to manipulate him. If they try, they will have to deal with me." He flashed a sharp smile, and Hermione visibly blanched.

"I hate to know you went through all of that," Ginny said, "but why couldn't you trust us? Mum and Dad would have helped you, you have to know that."

"They might have helped me," Hadrian conceded, "but they also would have gone straight to Dumbledore, and he would have sent me back to the Dursley's. I couldn't risk being sent back there; next time I might not survive."

"No," Hermione shook her head, "Whatever the Dursley's did to you, I'm certain Professor Dumbledore didn't know about it, and he would never knowingly leave you in an abusive home. I think you must have just imagined that conversation because you still blame the headmaster for Sirius' death, even though you were the one who chose to go to the ministry. You have to take responsibility for your own actions, Harry-and I am not calling you by that ridiculous new name-you can't place the blame with other people." A soft growling sound filled the room, and Hermione's eyes widened when she saw that Draco's eyes had gone silver again, and Hadrian was struggling to hold him back from attacking. "And that's another thing!" She continued bravely-or foolishly, depending on how you looked at it; "How can you be friends with someone who spent the last five years tormenting us, and who wants to attack me even now!"

"I'm not friends with him," Hadrian said simply, his arms tightly wrapped around Draco's neck even as the Veela attempted to push him away, "I'm his mate…boyfriend, if you need a simpler way to understand it, and he already apologized to me for everything he's done in the past. He-" Hadrian's words were cut off by a gasp as Draco forcefully pressed their lips together for a moment, before nipping Hadrian's bottom lip and pulling away.

"That's the first time you've told someone that you're my mate," Draco explained to the breathless boy still sitting in his lap, "For you, I will hold off on punishing Granger, just so long as she doesn't lay hands on you."

"Thank you," Hadrian said quietly, turning around and relaxing in Draco's arms. He glared at Hermione for a minute, then sighed. "Look, 'Mione, I can't prove anything today, but I do have proof about what happened. In a few days, or maybe a week, Luna is going to invite you and Ginny to spend the weekend with her; I'll be able to show you proof and tell you the rest of it then, okay?"

"I'm game," Ginny said, "And…I'm sorry for the other day, with Ron. Even though I was hurt that you chose Malfoy-Draco-over us, I still shouldn't have stopped him from helping you. Can you forgive me?"

"Of course I can, Ginny," Hadrian replied, "You didn't understand what was going on; I promise you'll understand better later. Just, I guess I should tell you that not all the information we've discovered will be good news."

"I'd be surprised if it was all good news," Ginny laughed, "I'm interested to hear the rest, but knowing that Malfoy is a Veela and you're his mate explains a lot. I know that he won't ever hurt you, and you will never find someone more loyal…although I can see you having some spectacular fights over what is and isn't considered safe for you to do. You guys want to go get some ice cream?"

"Some other time," Draco declined the offer, nudging Hadrian until the brunet stood up, "We have to meet Mother and Severus soon."

"I still don't see how everything you said can be true," Hermione frowned, "However, I am willing to view the memories when you can get them to us. I do just want to know, why aren't you telling any of the adults?"

"Draco's parents and Severus will do that," Hadrian shrugged, "We're telling our friends. Just remember not to tell anyone else about this stuff, not even Ron."

"Especially not him," Draco mumbled, leading Hadrian out of the room. Hadrian called out a hasty good-bye to the girls, rolling his eyes at Draco. The store downstairs was busy, so they waved at the twins, and then went out in search of Severus and Narcissa.

**

"Well, that went much quicker than I had thought it would," Narcissa smiled as she led the boys out into the ministry atrium, "Rufus was very helpful, and now we have plenty of time to go visit the library." Their meeting at the ministry had only taken an hour, even though Draco had told Hadrian that custody situations sometimes took nearly five or six hours, depending on the people involved. The fact that Draco was a Veela and Hadrian his mate helped speed matters along, but the new minister-Rufus Scrimgeour-had also helped by being present to witness the necessary papers being signed.

Hadrian had told Scrimgeour that Lucius was innocent and had actually been trying to help him that night at the ministry; Hadrian said he had tried to tell Dumbledore, but the headmaster refused to listen. The new minister was very happy to have dirt against Dumbledore, who spent a lot of time interfering in the ministry for someone who claimed he didn't like politics, and so Scrimgeour agreed to change the paper work to show that Lucius had been granted a ministry pardon. All-in-all, it was a very pleased group that left the ministry that afternoon.

"Since the matter of Hadrian's custody has been settled, I shall take my leave," Severus said, "I can begin preparations for brewing the potion, while we locate the Horcruxes."

"Yes, we will be fine without you," Narcissa agreed, "The library is safe enough, and we all have emergency port keys."

"Actually, Mother, why don't you go home as well?" Draco suggested, "I have been to the library before, and it should be safe enough for Hadrian and me to Floo over. When we are done, I can summon a house elf to bring us home." Narcissa thought for a moment, then slowly shook her head.

"If we had discussed this with Tom first I would agree," She said, "However Tom expects me to remain with you boys at the library, and I can always find some interesting books to read."

"Don't pout, Dray," Hadrian laughed, "It won't kill you if your mum comes with us. I think-hey!"

Draco saw a wizard in ministry robes with a hat pulled down over his face grab Hadrian by the arm; he reached out to pull his mate to safety, but too late-within seconds Hadrian was gone. Draco, stared blankly at the spot Hadrian had disappeared from, then he let out a loud, screeching cry that caused everyone nearby to cower. As well they should, Draco thought, for everyone who had played a part in the abduction of his mate would suffer until Hadrian was safe in his arms once more. That was Draco's last coherent thought before the rage over-took him, and he began his attack.

 

Chapter Text

Severus stared in shock at his godson. Draco had transformed into a full Veela, his silver hair flowed down to his waist, his pale skin seemed to glow, and his fingers ended in talons. Draco’s eyes shone like liquid metal, and snow-white wings, eight feet in length, had sprouted on his back. Draco was standing so that Severus and Narcissa were shielded from view, which meant he at least still recognized them as family. Severus had only an instant to feel grateful for that, before Draco screeched again, and blue flames shot out towards the witches and wizards nearby, causing then to scream and run for cover. Narcissa whispered an unfamiliar spell, and a barrier appeared to absorb the flames, then wrapped around Draco. Draco screamed out his frustration and let loose several blue and silver bolts of light that hit the shield and then dissipated, serving to further enrage the Veela. Draco's rage showed itself as a storm of blue and silver bolts of magic that swirled around him, striking Narcissa's barrier in an attempt to seek out and destroy his enemies.  Narcissa let him rage for several minutes before Severus felt her magic reach out to touch Draco's.

“Draco Lucius Malfoy!” Narcissa’s voice was stern, “You will stop this useless tantrum at once!" She lowered her voice and continued, "This is not helping your mate; you need to calm yourself so that we can find Hadrian.” The magical storm around Draco slowly died down, and the blond turned around to screech at his mother, but he didn’t try to attack. He closed his eyes and vanished in a flash of silver light, only to reappear seconds later, pale and shaking. Draco blinked out again, and this time fell to his knees when he returned.  “You can’t locate him?” Narcissa’s voice was full of worry, and Severus spared her a quick glance before his attention was snapped back to his godson; he watched in fascination as the sharp beak that had appeared when Draco transformed slowly faded until he had a normal mouth, although the rest of his Veela features remained.

“I can’t,” Draco whispered, “I can’t sense him. It-someone blocked it so I can’t find him! Mother-I have to find him!” His silver eyes flashed as climbed to his feet; “I’ll kill whoever took him from me! I’ll kill everyone responsible for this!” He pressed his hands against the barrier, not even flinching as the magic sparked on his skin.

“First we have to get him back,” Narcissa said softly, holding out her hand and vanishing the shield, “We need to return to the Manor so that we can tell your father and Tom what happened. When we find out who took Hadrian you can take your revenge, but until then you need to reign in your temper, okay Darling?” Draco nodded shakily as he reached out to take Narcissa’s hand in his own.

"The tracking spell on his choker isn't working either," Draco told her, "If they disabled that then Hadrian won't be able to use any of the protections on the choker. The twins are very good at what they do, so someone powerful had to have altered it."

“I will go to Hogwarts,” Severus announced, “If Dumbledore is behind this, I will find out. I’ll meet you back at the Manor as soon as I can.” Narcissa and Draco nodded, then stepped into the Floo to return home. Severus waited until they were gone, then headed back into the ministry; he would be going to Hogwarts later, but first he wanted to see who was missing from the ministry. The new minister would likely be able to confirm whether certain employees were still at work, or if they had left early, it was just a matter of persuading him to help.

///////////

When they arrived at the manor, Draco stayed close to his mother, finding a small sense of calm in her soothing magic. They found Tom and Lucius in the study, and the two men quickly banished the documents they had been looking at. Lucius took one look at his wife and son and quickly got to his feet, his hand gripping the snake-topped came that hid his wand.

"What happened, Narcissa?" He asked calmly, "and where is Hadrian?"

"Someone took him as we were leaving the ministry," Narcissa replied, "Draco was unable to locate him. Severus has gone to Hogwarts to see if Dumbledore had anything to do with it."

"I’ll kill him," Draco's voice was soft and threatening, "When I find out who is responsible for this-"

"What will you do?" Tom interrupted, sneering at him, "So far you have done nothing to protect Hadrian and keep him safe. First, you let the Weasley boy attack him, and now you've let him get kidnapped. If anyone is going to save Hadrian, it's going to be me; you are not worthy to have him as a mate." Tom gave the collective Malfoy's a scathing look and then swept from the room.

Lucius looked over at his son and saw that Draco was shaking, hands clenched into fists and blood dripping from where his talons had punctured his skin. Lucius quickly considered their options, and decided the best route would be to get Draco focused on finding Hadrian.

"If Dumbledore was behind this, where would he take Hadrian?" Lucius looked at his son expectantly.

"The Muggles," Draco scowled, "How can we find them?"

"Perhaps the one who helped Hadrian escape in the first place can show us where they live," Narcissa suggested, and Draco's eyes lit up as he called, "Dobby!" The house elf appeared immediately and bowed to Draco.

"How can Dobby be helping Master Draco?"

"Take me to the Muggle house that you saved Hadrian from," Draco commanded, "I need to find him."

"Master Hadrian is being in trouble?" Dobby pulled his ears agitatedly, "Dobby is taking Master Draco to where the nasty Muggles be living."

"You go with him, Cissa," Lucius have his wife a kiss on the cheek and rested a comforting hand on Draco's shoulder, "I am going to find Tom and make sure he doesn't do anything reckless."

"Of course, darling," Narcissa agreed, "I have my mirror with me. We're ready, Dobby." Narcissa and Draco each grabbed one of Dobby's hands and the house elf apparated them away as Lucius left the room in search of Tom.

/////////////

Dobby apparated them into the kitchen of a Muggle house; Draco stood still for a moment, but he couldn’t sense anyone in the house.

“I still can’t sense him,” he told his mother, “What if he’s not here?”

“Then we will look elsewhere,” Narcissa said calmly, “Dobby, you stay here until we are ready to go.”

“Yes, Mistress,” Dobby bowed, “Dobby is waiting.”

“Come, Draco; we will search the house, just to be certain that he is not here,” Narcissa swept out of the kitchen and into the living room with Draco close behind. There was a door just off the living room, which opened into an office; Draco stiffened once they were in the room, and let out an angry hiss, his eyes glowing with rage.

“This is where they did it,” Draco informed Narcissa, “This is where my mate was injured; I can still smell his blood.”

“Is he here now?” Narcissa inquired, looking around the empty room. Draco shook his head, and she turned back to the doorway, “Then let us continue; we can worry about the Muggles later.” Draco swept in front of his mother, leading the way to the stair case. His foot was on the bottom step when he paused and turned to look at the door set in the wall beneath the staircase; the cupboard under the stairs. Slowly, as if compelled, he walked over to the door and pulled it open; Narcissa looked over his shoulder and saw that the small closet contained a cot to one side, and floor-to-ceiling shelves of cleaning supplies on the other. On the back wall, a small picture was taped, showing a family of three smiling happily while a dark-haired boy stood to the side, tears running down his face. At the bottom of the picture were two headstones, with the names James and Lily written on them. The picture was depressing and gave great insight to Hadrian’s treatment at the hands of these Muggles. By the date written in the bottom right corner, Hadrian was only seven when he drew this.

“They will pay,” Draco growled softly, pulling the drawing off the wall and folding it before carefully placing it in his pocket, “Once I have Hadrian safe with me again, I will return to make them pay for everything they have ever done.” Narcissa said nothing as she stepped back and allowed her son to close the cupboard door; she merely waited until he was ready, and then followed him upstairs. They checked the first three bedrooms they came across, and then they came to a door with locks on the outside, and a strange hole cut in the bottom of the door. Upon entering the room, it became apparent that this was where Hadrian spent his summers. There were owl feathers on the floor, a pair of broken glasses lay next to the tiny bed, and a quill lay forgotten on the desk. Still, Hadrian was nowhere to be found.

“He’s not here,” Draco said, his shoulders slumping, “Tom was right; I am a bad mate; I couldn’t even stop Hadrian from getting abducted! I don’t deserve him!”

“Stop it Draco!” Narcissa commanded, grabbing her son by the arm and forcing him to look at her, “You are not a bad mate! Sometimes things happen that are beyond your control; you do not whine about it, you fix it and then do everything in your power to make sure that it does not happen again. Tom said those things because he was worried about his son. We will find him; we know that it was someone on Dumbledore’s side who took him, and Dumbledore needs Hadrian alive. Any injuries Hadrian sustains while in their hands will be repaid threefold once we have him safe again. Now come; where else might he be? Perhaps Dumbledore has placed him with the Weasley’s; Have Dobby take us there, and if we do not find him you can contact your friends and have them assist us.”

“Yes, Mother,” Draco agreed, following his mother back to the kitchen where Dobby was waiting. He wasn’t going to give up on finding Hadrian-he would never give up on his mate-but he still felt like he didn’t deserve Hadrian. After the way he had treated the boy over the years, then he was powerless to stop the Weasel from hurting him, and now he let Hadrian be kidnapped; how could he possibly deserve to have Hadrian as his mate?

///////////////////

“Where are you going, Tom?” Tom looked up from the Floo with a dark glare as Lucius entered the room.

“I am going to find my son,” Tom replied, “And once I have him back, I will keep him safe. Your son does not deserve to have Hadrian as his mate if he can’t even protect him-”

“From Dumbledore?” Lucius interrupted, “You mean the way you protected your wife and children from the manipulative old bastard? Dumbledore has gotten the best of us all, and we are still trying to pick up the pieces; do you really expect a sixteen-year-old to fare better against him?”

“Why not?” Tom demanded, “After all, the entire wizarding world expected a boy to defeat me. Year after year Dumbledore arranged it so that Hadrian would have to fight me; if they can expect a fourteen-year-old-even an eleven year old-to defeat me then why shouldn’t I expect your sixteen-year-old Veela son to protect my son from Dumbledore?”

“Well, for starters because I thought you had actually regained your sanity,” Lucius drawled, “Obviously I was mistaken, and I shall have to speak to Severus about improving your potion. Now, where were you headed, Tom? Do you have an idea of where Hadrian might be?”

“I am going to Hogwarts,” Tom admitted, “I will force Dumbledore to tell me where he took my son, and then I’ll kill the bastard. If I kill Dumbledore, all our problems are solved.”

“You are not going to the school,” Lucius countered, “That would be the epitome of foolish Gryffindor behavior and, last time I checked, you were neither foolish nor a Gryffindor. The moment you step inside the school, Dumbledore will have the aurors down on you; even if you manage to escape, Dumbledore will realize you have your memories back, and he might decide Hadrian is no longer useful to him. You, my friend, cannot go out searching for him; you must leave that to Cissa, Draco and Severus.”

“And what do you expect me to do in the meantime? Sit around and wait patiently for someone to find my son, when he could be getting abused again as we speak?” Tom’s voice was frustrated, but some of the blind rage had drained away; Severus’ potion really did restore his sanity, and sometimes forced him to see sense even when he would rather act than plot.

“Of course not,” Lucius sneered, “You and I shall go on our own mission; I believe it is time to reclaim any Horcruxes that we can. The diary is gone, unfortunately, but the others should be easy to gather. Nagini is at Riddle Manor?” Tom nodded. “Bellatrix has the cup, the locket is in the cave-wait, no; the locket should be in…Sirius Black’s house. Severus shall have to get that one. The ring?”

“It is in the old Gaunt house,” Tom replied, then shook his head, “There is no point in gathering the Horcruxes yet, Lucius; not until we are ready for the ritual to restore my soul. Have you had any further luck with locating Black?”

“I have,” Lucius beckoned Tom away from the fireplace and they sat down in two comfortable chairs, “Severus has provided me with both the Draught of Living Death and its antidote; now all we need is a way to reach Black without alerting Dumbledore. Here;” He summoned a rolled up  parchment and a quick spell had it unrolled in the air between them, showing a hand-drawn map; “I have been working on this whenever I get the chance; as you can see, this is the Department of Mystery, where Black disappeared…” Lucius began to explain the map and the spells he thought they might encounter when trying to rescue Black, providing a sufficient distraction for Tom. Hopefully Draco would return with Hadrian soon.

//////////////

“Ah, Severus my boy!” Dumbledore smiled as he met Severus at the Entrance Hall, “What brings you here today?” Severus had already spoken to the minister, and Scrimgeour had promised to get him a copy of the arrival and departure times for all ministry employees that day; it was likely to take a few hours to compile, so Severus had arranged to have them sent to Malfoy Manor and then apparated to Hogsmeade so that he could talk to Dumbledore.

“I have important news,” Severus said lowly, “I do not want to discuss it in the open; not all of the portraits and ghosts are trustworthy.”

“Severus,” Dumbledore shook his head with an indulgent smile as he led the potions master up to the Headmaster’s Office, “How many times have I told you that the portraits in Hogwarts are completely loyal to me? Sometimes I worry about you, my boy; all this paranoia is not healthy.”

“My paranoia saves my life,” Severus countered, “That is what happens when you live your life as I do. There are few I trust, Albus; after…that day…you are the only one I trust completely.” Dumbledore shot him a look out of the corner of his eye, and Severus allowed himself a smirk; “Very well; I do not trust you completely either, because I know you have secrets that I am not privy to which could affect me. However, I trust you more than anyone else; at least I know you want what is best for everyone, rather than simply what is best for yourself.” Dumbledore’s smile turned grandfatherly and he patted Severus on the shoulder as they reached the office. Of course, none of what Severus had just said was true, but it had been once; before he had unlocked his memories. Then again, the fact that he had to search out the memories in the first place showed that he really didn’t trust Dumbledore; Severus was glad he had listened to his intuition.

“One day this subterfuge will not be necessary,” Dumbledore said, sitting behind the large desk, “I wish I did not need you to risk yourself so much, but you are the only reliable spy I have. Speaking of which, what is the news you wanted to share?”

“I was accompanying Narcissa, Potter and Draco to the ministry,” Severus began, “Narcissa had an appointment, and Lucius had asked me to go along with them; since Draco offered Potter sanctuary, there are some Death Eater families who are not too happy with the Malfoy’s at this moment although, as far as I know, the Dark Lord remains unaware of Potter’s presence at the manor.” Dumbledore nodded, and Severus continued; “As we were leaving the ministry, someone abducted Potter. None of us saw who took him; I offered to search the ministry while Narcissa took Draco home, but I came straight here as soon as I could.”

“Harry is gone?” Dumbledore frowned in concern, “Are you certain he didn’t just wander off? Perhaps, now that he is feeling better, he decided that he no longer wishes to stay with the Malfoy’s.” Liar. Severus kept his face blank, but he knew without a doubt Dumbledore was lying; the old fool was behind Hadrian’s disappearance, and he obviously didn’t trust Severus any longer as he had not been advised of the plan.

“He left all of his belongings at the manor,” Severus shook his head, “As you know, there are certain items he would not leave behind even if it meant the difference between life and death. If you like, I can gather those items and bring them here-perhaps that would convince the Malfoy’s that Potter left willingly and they would not be in the Order’s way while we search for the boy.”

“That will not be necessary,” Dumbledore said after spending a moment studying Severus, “I already know where Harry is, as I was the one who arranged for him to be taken. Ronald Weasley found out from his sister that Harry was going to the ministry and told his father; Arthur informed me, and I had him use a portkey to get Harry away from the Malfoy’s. I did not inform you of the plan because I was unsure of your loyalty, but the fact that you came straight to me shows that you have not returned to your former master. I hope you can forgive me, my boy.”

“After everything I have done-everything I have sacrificed-still you do not trust me,” Severus scowled, “I have done everything you asked of me, including belittling the son of the only woman I have ever loved, and you still think that I will betray you. What must I do to earn your trust?” Severus glared at the headmaster, and received a sad smile in return.

“I was wrong not to trust you,” Dumbledore told him, “I will not make that mistake again. Will you still help me? I need your assistance in brewing several potions, if you will not be missed by the Malfoy’s.”

“I will need to return to the manor so that I can gather my belongings,” Severus said slowly, “I will make my excuses, tell the Malfoy’s that I am trying to get information about Potter and that I will not be available for several days; unless the Dark Lord calls, I should not be missed for at least a week. I will just go get my belongings now.” Severus nodded to Dumbledore and stood; he left the office and headed back towards the Entrance Hall, trying to come up with a plan so that he could continue to talk to Tom and the Malfoy’s as he worked on Dumbledore’s potions. Hopefully he would be able to discover Hadrian’s location soon, and he would need to be able to pass on the information to Lucius and Tom so they could rescue Hadrian without Severus leaving the castle. After all, Dumbledore couldn’t suspect Severus of being a traitor if he was under the meddling fool’s watchful eyes the whole time.

 

Chapter Text

“…I don’t think it will kill you if your mum comes with us,” Hadrian laughed at Draco’s pout, the blond evidently not appreciating the fact that they were being baby sat, “In fact-hey!” Hadrian tried to pull away from the hand that had suddenly wrapped around his upper arm, but the grip was too strong. The last thing Hadrian saw was Draco’s silver eyes widened in shock, then there was the all-too-familiar tug behind his navel, and Hadrian felt the world fall away from him. When the world stopped spinning, Hadrian would have fallen if not for the hand still grasping his arm. Hadrian shoved the person holding him and managed to break free; he reached for his wand and levelled it at his abductor.

“Who are you, and where have you taken me?” Hadrian demanded, “No, you know what? I don’t care!” Hadrian grabbed the dragon charm hanging from his choker and said; “Home!” He felt the tug again, but it quickly turned to pain, and he fell to his knees, his hands curled into fists as he bit his lips to stifle his screams of pain. After a few minutes the pain faded away, and Hadrian was left with just a slightly nauseous feeling.

“You can’t use your magic right now, Harry; we can’t risk them finding you. I’m sorry for the pain, but if you don’t fight it, then you won’t be hurt.” The familiar voice had Hadrian looking up at the man standing in front of him, his emerald eyes widening in shock as the man lowered his hood.

“Mr. Weasley?” Hadrian pushed to his feet and took a few steps back, keeping his wand pointed at Ron’s father, “What-why did you kidnap me?” Hadrian looked around as much as he could, while still making sure to keep Arthur in his line of sight; it appeared he was in the shed where Arthur kept all of his Muggle things. The door was straight ahead, behind where Arthur was standing.

“Kidnap?!” Arthur Weasley shook his head, his eyes wide with shock and worry, “No, no, Harry; I didn’t kidnap you! The Malfoy’s are a Dark family Harry; I had to save you from them. I don’t know how they managed to take you from your aunt and uncle’s house-”

“I ran away because Vernon was abusing me,” Hadrian interrupted, “I ran into Draco, and asked him for Sanctuary, and he granted it. And my name is Hadrian; not Harry. I don’t know what Dumbledore told you, and I don’t care; I’m going home.”

“I can’t let you leave, Harry,” Arthur said solemnly, and Hadrian was surprised to find that the elder Weasley had drawn his own wand, “You have to stay here until Albus arrives. The fact that you want to go back to the Malfoy’s…I’m very worried about you, son.”

“Don’t call me that!” Hadrian snapped, “I’m not your son, and I can’t believe I ever considered you family! Let me go now, and I’ll ask Draco not to kill you; if he has to come find me, I can’t promise that I’ll be able to talk him out of it.”

“You’re confused, Harry,” Arthur’s voice was low, and probably meant to be soothing, but Hadrian found it to be condescending instead, “You’ve been exposed to Dark magic due to your time in Malfoy Manor, and I can’t even begin to guess what spells and potions have been used on you. Don’t worry though; Albus will sort this all out. Wait here, and we’ll be back for you soon.”

Hadrian watched as Arthur turned around and headed for the door; he slowly followed, walking softly in the hopes that Arthur wouldn’t notice him. Arthur used his wand to unlock the door and, as he pushed it open, Hadrian ran towards him, pushing his former friend’s father out of the way; as he crossed the doorway, Harry’s body was suddenly wracked with pain; his muscles seized, and he couldn’t stop the screams that were torn from his throat. It was worse than the time Voldemort had held him under the Cruciatus Curse, and even worse than last year, when Voldemort had possessed him the ministry. Hadrian felt hands pulling him out of the doorway, and he collapsed onto the floor of the shed, his limbs still twitching from the after-effects of the spell that had been on the doorway.

“Why did you do that?” Arthur’s voice sounded mournful, “I told you to stay here; come on then.” Hadrian remained silent even as Arthur cast a levitating charm and moved him to the back of the shed, “All the windows and doors are warded, so please don’t try that again. I’m afraid the pain will last for a while; I don’t have any pain relief potions that will help. Try to rest, Harry; If you get hungry, there is food and water on the table. The pitcher will automatically refill. And don’t worry, Harry; Albus will fix everything when he gets here.” Hadrian didn’t respond, but instead listened as Arthur left the shed.

Once he was alone, Hadrian slowly sat up, gritting his teeth against the lingering pain; how could Arthur claim to be a light wizard when he had such a ward set up? From those memories Severus found, Hadrian knew the Weasley’s weren’t exactly as they portrayed themselves, but he still couldn’t believe that they were willing to cause him so much pain. The kidnapping he could understand, if they thought it was for his own good, but to keep him prisoner…to lock him up and cause him pain…really, they were acting no better than the Dursley’s.

After a few more minutes, Hadrian was able to push the pain away enough to stand up; he was a little unsteady, but it was nothing he couldn’t handle, and he needed to find an alternative way to get out of there. He still hoped that Draco would come for him but, after his portkey failed to activate, he had a feeling that the Veela wouldn’t be able to use the choker to track him. No, Hadrian would have to find his own way home; he knew that the Lovegood’s lived nearby, so if he could just get out of the shed, he would be able to find help.

With that in mind, Hadrian slowly made his way through the shed, digging into boxes full of wires and dead batteries as he searched for something that might help him escape. He came upon a box of matches, likely left over from the Quidditch World Cup the summer before Fourth Year and pocketed them. Would batteries explode if thrown into a fire? Probably, but the noise would attract everyone…then again, maybe not; no one had come running when he was busy screaming in pain, so the whole shed was likely under a silencing ward. Still…he’d better keep looking.

By the time he had gone through the whole shed, Hadrian had found the matches, a box of Muggle liquor, a handsaw, several cans of aerosol hairspray, and some gasoline. Hadrian considered making an explosion but thought he should try something a little less dangerous first. Looking around the shed again, Hadrian’s eyes landed on a shovel, and he decided to try digging under the wards. He gave this up after a few minutes, realizing that it would take far too long to dig a tunnel under the wards. Instead, Hadrian decided that he had wasted enough time, and he needed to get serious.

First, he cleared off a table, throwing all of Arthur’s Muggle junk onto the floor. Then, he used a small hand axe to chop up some of the wooden furniture in the shed and piled it in the hole he had started digging near the back wall. He poured some gasoline on the wood, then used one of the matches to light a rolled-up magazine on fire. He used the magazine to ignite the wood, then stood back and watched until he was certain the fire wouldn’t go out. Finally, Hadrian gathered the aerosol cans and the batteries and placed them in a cloth bag, then threw them on the fire, before quickly ducking behind the table, which he had stood up on its side. He drew a thick quilt over his head just as he heard the first can explode.

Hadrian knelt behind the table for several minutes, feeling the wood in front of him shake when items from the shed hit it, thrown by the explosion. When the noise died down, Hadrian cautiously looked around the edge of the table, keeping low to the ground, and saw that a sizable hole had been blown in the back wall of the shed, with a fire burning in front of it. The floor between Hadrian and the new exit was littered with debris, some of it on fire. Hadrian quickly assessed his options, and decided he needed to clear a path; he would then run and jump through the opening, hopefully bypassing the wards if they were still active.

Hadrian picked up the shovel, which had been wrapped in another blanket, along with the axe-Hadrian had thought that this would lessen the chances of him being injured by the two tools if they got thrown during the explosion-and used it to move some of the debris out of the way. For the first time in his life, he thanked the fact that he was used to hard work from the Dursley’s; he was much stronger than he looked and was able to clear a path in a matter of minutes.

Once that was done, Hadrian took the pitcher of water and dumped it on the quilt; he had to wait a few seconds for it to refill, and then he dumped it again. He continued until the entire quilt was soaked, then wrapped it around his upper body, leaving his legs free so that he could run. Without giving himself a chance to re-think his plan, Hadrian ran towards the opening in the wall. A small table had been altered to make a low ramp, and Hadrian jumped when he reached the end of the ramp, pulling the blanket over his head and tucking his legs in. He felt his shoulder hit the wall as he passed through the opening, and then a pain so intense that he couldn’t stop himself from screaming. The pain only lasted a few seconds, however, and then he had the wind knocked out of him as he landed on the ground.

Hadrian remained unmoving for a handful of seconds as he fought to get his breath back, but the sound of shouting had him forcing himself to his feet. Hadrian didn’t chance a look behind him, but immediately began running away from the Burrow, and towards a wooded area beyond the Weasley property.

“Mum! Dad!” Hadrian heard Ron’s voice behind him, “He’s getting away!”

“Do something, Ronald!” Molly Weasley screamed, “He’ll go straight back to the Malfoy’s!” Hadrian heard footsteps behind him and knew that Ron was chasing him. Hadrian was only a little worried; he knew he was faster than his former friend. Then, he heard Molly yell again.

“Ronald Weasley! Are you a wizard or not? Use your wand!” Hadrian quickly ducked, and a bolt of red light flew over his head. He had finally reached the tree line, however, and now he began weaving between the trees. Ron was continuing to cast spells at him, but Hadrian managed to dodge each one, and Ron’s voice kept getting quieter, meaning Hadrian was close to escape.

Finally, however, Ron got lucky, and a spell hit Hadrian, making him stumble. Hadrian grabbed onto a tree for support, and then looked around in confusion. Where was he again? And what was he supposed to be doing? He thought he was supposed to be looking for someone, but he couldn’t remember who.

The sound of a twig snapping jolted Hadrian out of his thoughts, and he took off again; now he remembered! He was supposed to be running! From whom, or where to he wasn’t sure, but Hadrian knew without a doubt that he had to keep running, and so he did.

Hadrian ran for what felt like hours, until the woods around him had begun to grow dark, and he slowed down as he began looking for a place to spend the night. Now that the urge to flee had faded some, Hadrian found his confusion returning, and he frowned, rubbing his forehead; why did this seem so familiar? Hadn’t he already run away from the Dursley’s? But wait; he wasn’t running from the Dursley’s now, was he? No, he was running from…he couldn’t remember who he was running from, or where he was running to.

Hadrian walked through the woods until he came to a large tree that had branches reaching to the ground; he easily slipped through the branches and sat down at the base of the tree. The branches would hide him from sight, so this should be a good, safe place to spend the night. He pulled out his wand, then halted; he had almost forgotten about the restriction on underaged magic! The Ministry would have been down on him in seconds if he had cast a spell! Shaking his head at his own foolishness, Hadrian became aware of something around his neck.

Hadrian reached up and found a collar or something around his neck; he could feel a charm dangling from the collar, and stones studded around it. Frowning, Hadrian found the clasp on the collar, but found that it wouldn’t come loose; what was this? Had someone marked him like some sort of dog? Why couldn’t he remember anything?

“Okay, Harry,” he whispered to himself, “What’s the last thing you remember?” He closed his eyes and tried to remember what he was doing before he found himself running through the forest. He remembered Dobby helping him escape from the Dursley’s by turning him into a tiger and being dropped into an unfamiliar forest. Oh! That explained the collar; it must be the one Dobby gave him, which let him transform! Okay, so after Dobby left him, Harry had wandered the forest until he got tired and fell asleep in a tree. He remembered waking up hungry and jumping over a fence in order to get at some strange turkeys…no wait; not turkeys-albino peacocks. Right, he had been about to pounce, when a House Elf caught him and then went to get its master. The next thing Harry knew, he was running through a forest. But how had he turned back into a human?

Harry shook his head and leaned back against the tree. Whomever had lived at the manor must have cancelled the transformation somehow, and…maybe they had done something to Harry’s memory? He had obviously escaped somehow, so maybe he had been tortured or something, and the wizard-if it was a wizard who found him-had wiped his memory as he was escaping? Or, since he wasn’t in as much pain as before-just a headache and some sore muscles-maybe the wizard had helped him, but then erased his memory so Harry couldn’t reveal him? That was a possibility.

Now, though, Harry had to decide what to do; would it be safe for him to call Dobby? If he did call the House Elf, where would he go? Harry had the uneasy feeling that he was still forgetting something important, but he couldn’t think what it was, even as grey eyes flashed through his mind again.

“Malfoy?” he whispered, then bit back a cry as a sharp pain shot through his head. Images flashed through his mind; grey eyes, soft white wings, a seductive smile and passionate kisses. With each image the pain in Harry’s head increased, until he fell into blessed darkness.

When Harry came to, it was full dark; he must have been out for an hour or so. He remembered blacking out, but he couldn’t remember what caused it; the lingering headache was enough to convince him that he didn’t want to remember. Wiping his face, Harry grimaced when his hand came away with blood. He lifted his shirt and wiped at his face, discovering that the blood came from his nose. Then, Harry suddenly noticed the clothes he was wearing; he had on a dark red button up shirt with black slacks and a black cloak. He was wearing what appeared to be dragon-hide boots, and, he realized with a start, he wasn’t wearing his glasses, but he could still see perfectly.

“What the hell is going on?” Harry demanded, ignoring the fact that there was no one around to answer his questions.

Too many things just didn’t make sense, and Harry was tired of feeling like he had forgotten something. He really wanted to call Dobby, but something was holding him back. Shouldn’t Dobby have checked on him already? Maybe he couldn’t trust the House Elf. Who could he trust, though? He had already written Ron and Hermione off, and Dumbledore wasn’t an option since he was one of the people Harry was hiding from. He trusted Neville, but Mrs. Longbottom would probably contact Dumbledore. Luna, maybe? If he could summon the Knight Bus, he could take it to Ottery St. Catchpole…but Dumbledore might be monitoring the Knight Bus.

Harry sighed, deciding he was just too tired to think about this anymore; he would try to get some sleep, and then decide what to do in the morning.