Chapter 1: Chapter 1
“Sirius?” Remus’ confused voice sounded from the doorway. “What are you doing?”
“What does it look like I’m doing?” Sirius responded, carefully placing a knife and fork on either side of one of the plates on the table. “I’m setting the table for breakfast.”
“Yes, but why?” Remus’ tone was longsuffering and it reminded Sirius of all the times Remus had asked him and James that question when they had been at school.
Sirius grinned. “Harry will be down soon. I want everything to be perfect!”
“It’s just breakfast.” Remus pointed out.
“I know,” Sirius agreed. “But it’s his first breakfast living with us. I wanted to make him breakfast myself, but the elves were horrified at the idea. So we compromised.”
Remus frowned. “The elves didn’t want you to cook breakfast? You’re not that bad of a cook, are you?”
“Well it has been twelve years.” Sirius told him. “But I think they’d be horrified if anyone wanted to cook. It’s their job, you know?”
“Not really.” Remus shook his head. “I’ve never really had anything to do with house elves.”
“Oh,” Sirius stepped away from the table and studied it critically. Then he moved toward it again and straightened a knife. “House elves are very attached to their work and don’t like to feel as though they’ve failed in anyway. Me cooking, would have made them feel as though they had failed.”
“But they don’t mind you setting the table?” Remus asked.
Sirius winced. “I think they’d rather I didn’t, but I talked them around.”
“Because you wanted everything to be perfect for Harry.” Remus said blankly.
Sirius gave his friend a wry grin. “Well, maybe not perfect. If I had wanted to perfect I would have let the house elves do it. I just wanted to do something to welcome him.”
Remus smiled warmly. “Fair enough. I think that fork’s crooked.”
Sirius’s gaze swung to where Remus was pointing and he quickly straightened the fork in question. “Thanks.”
“Harry’s coming.” Remus told him, moving out of the doorway.
“Oh,” Sirius’s stomach clenched nervously. “What should I do?”
“Act normally.” Remus answered.
Sirius wasn’t sure he could. Harry was here, living with him, finally! It was the most exciting thing that had happened since he’d been released from Azkaban, and the most terrifying. What if he screwed it up? What if Harry hated him? What if the discriminating attitudes that Sirius had been working so hard to get rid of came back and alienated Harry?
Harry appeared at the doorway and Sirius took a moment to take the sight of his godson. Harry was so tall! He was only twelve and was only about five inches shorter than Sirius. He had James’ hair, though it looked more ordered than James’ ever had, and Lily’s eyes, but he looked more like a Black than anything. Not entirely surprising, given that his grandmother had been a Black.
“Merry meet, Sirius, Remus.” Harry greeted them formally, as he bowed to Sirius.
Sirius wanted to tell him not to do that – even if he hadn’t hated traditionalism since he was eleven, he would have hated the idea of Harry treating him so formally – but he didn’t want Harry to think that he was discriminating against traditional culture. He wanted his godson to trust him and if that meant allowing some traditional behaviour, then so be it. The whole traditional versus non-traditional argument was seeming less and less important every day anyway.
“Merry meet, Harry.” Sirius nodded in acknowledgement.
“Merry meet.” Remus parroted.
“Come have a seat.” Sirius commanded his godson.
“Yes, sir.” Harry moved quickly to obey.
Sirius frowned. The bowing he could put up with, but ‘sir’? “Don’t call me sir, I’m just Sirius.”
Harry’s eyes widened slightly. “Yes, si-Sirius. Sorry.”
“Breakfast?” Remus suggested gently as he sat opposite Harry.
“Right.” Sirius sat at the head of the table. “Lindy?”
Lindy, a young female house elf that Narcissa had acquired for Grimmauld Place, immediately appeared beside him. “Master Black be calling Lindy, sir?”
“We would like some breakfast.” Sirius told her. “I’ll have my usual. Remus?”
“I’ll have my usual too.” Remus answered.
“Harry?” Sirius prompted.
Harry was smiling at the elf. “I’ll have some cereal and milk please, Lindy.”
Lindy’s ears drooped slightly. “Master’s Heir is just wanting cereal and milk?”
“Well,” Harry answered slowly. “Normally I just have cereal and milk because it’s healthy. Do you have any other ideas of a healthy food I could have?”
Lindy tilted her head to the side. “Lindy could be getting Master’s Heir a fruit smoothie?”
Harry smiled. “That sounds wonderful, Lindy, thank you.”
Lindy’s eyes grew wet. “Master’s Heir is too kind. Lindy be getting Masters’ food.”
Sirius waited until the elf had popped away before turning to his godson. “Very smooth. Do you have a lot of experience with house elves?”
“A little.” Harry answered. “I visit with the Hogwarts’ elves about once a week and I’ve gotten to know one of them really well.”
“You’ve found the kitchens?” Sirius asked in surprise.
Harry smiled. “Yes. The Weasley twins introduced them to me when I was a first year.”
“The Weasley twins?” Sirius asked, he inwardly winced at the relief he was feeling to hear Harry mention friends from a non-traditional, light house. He forcibly squashed down the relief – there was nothing wrong with traditionalism or dark magic.
“Fred and George Weasley.” Harry explained. “I don’t their parents’ names, sorry.”
“Arthur and Molly.” Remus supplied for him. “He was a seventh year when we were first years.”
Sirius frowned. “They were in the Order weren’t they?”
Remus winced and glanced pointedly towards Harry who, now that Sirius thought about it, probably wasn’t supposed to know anything about the Order of the Phoenix. “Yes, they were. Molly was a Prewett before she married Arthur.”
“A Prewett?” Harry asked in surprise before looking uncomfortable when Sirius and Remus both turned their attention back to him. “Sorry.”
“No need to apologise.” Sirius told him. “Do you know the Prewetts?”
“They’ve died out, haven’t they?” Harry asked. “Their House is unclaimed.”
Sirius’s stomach dropped horribly at the reminder that Fabian and Gideon were dead. He’d forgotten.
Their breakfast appeared suddenly on the table in front of them but, despite how delicious it looked, Sirius didn’t feel so hungry anymore.
“So you know Arthur and Molly’s sons then?” Remus asked Harry gently.
“Some of them.” Harry answered, his tone cautious. “They have seven children. I only really know Fred and George, they were both fourth years this year.”
“Are they the oldest?” Remus asked.
“No, sir.” Harry shook his head. “First there is Bill, then Charlie, then Percy, and then the twins.”
“And the other two?”
“Ron is in my year.” Harry sighed. “He’s really annoying, and Ginny is a year younger than me.”
“You said the house was unclaimed?” Sirius asked suddenly. “Why hasn’t Bill claimed it?”
“I don’t know, sorry, sir.” Harry winced. “Sorry.”
“It’s fine.” Sirius forced a smile. “How is your smoothie?”
Harry looked down at the large orange smoothie in front of him, before sucking some through the straw. “It’s very nice, thank you.”
“And probably even healthier than cereal.” Sirius pointed out. “I can’t remember ever caring about the healthiness of food when I was your age.”
Remus snorted in amusement. “I can’t remember you ever caring the healthiness of food, full stop.”
Harry gave Remus a shy, but amused smile, before turning back to Sirius. “Normally I run in the morning, before breakfast, so I don’t really feel like eating anything too fatty.”
“You run?” Sirius asked, he couldn’t remember anyone running at Hogwarts when he was there. “Is that something a lot of students do?”
“Just three of us, sir.” Harry answered.
“You, Draco and Luna?” Sirius guessed.
“No, sir.” Harry shook his head. “I run with Takashi Nado, he’s a fifth year, and Neville Longbottom, Heir of the Ancient and Noble House of Longbottom.”
“I don’t think you mentioned them in your letters.” Sirius commented, ignoring the relief that had resurfaced at the sound of the name Longbottom
“Sorry.” Harry said apologetically before drinking from his smoothie again.
“I don’t think I know the name Nado.” Sirius commented. “Is he a muggleborn?”
“No, he’s from Japan.” Harry answered. “I think his family is a noble house over there, but I’m not sure. They’re definitely traditional and I think they’re very rich.”
“Who else do you spend time with at school?” Sirius asked curiously.
“Well, there’s Neville and Takashi,” Harry said. “And Draco, Luna, Theo Nott, Daphne Greengrass, Blaise Zabini, and sometimes the other Slytherins, Tracey Davis, Greg Goyle and Vincent Crabbe, and Pansy Parkinson.”
Sirius nodded as he remembered having read most of those names in the letter Harry had sent him to report Pansy’s inappropriate behaviour.
“Are any of them in Ravenclaw with you?” Remus asked.
“Takashi is,” Harry said. “And so is Luna, she’s a first year.”
Sirius frowned in sudden thought. “What about the kids in your year? Didn’t you hang out with them? I remember you writing to me about them.”
Harry expression barely changed, but Sirius, who had grown up around people who could hide their emotions far better than Harry could, noticed that his godson looked upset.
“I used to.” Harry answered flatly. “But not anymore.”
Sirius opened his mouth to question him further, but quickly closed it again when Remus kicked him in the leg. He turned to glare at his friend, but Remus just shook his head sharply. Okay, so, no questioning Harry about why he didn’t hang out with his friends anymore. What else could he ask him?
“So you said you usually run in the morning, Harry?” Remus asked. “Do you like to run during the summer as well, or do you take a break?”
Harry looked surprised. “I’d like to run during the summer,” He said, before flicking his eyes towards Sirius and quickly adding. “If that’s alright with you, sir, I mean, Sirius. It’s alright if you don’t want me to.”
Sirius frowned, unsure why Harry thought he would mind. “It’s fine, go for it.”
“Would you mind if I joined you, Harry?” Remus asked cautiously. “I like to run in the morning too.”
Sirius looked at in friend incredulously. Since when did Remus run?
“Of course, sir.” Harry said quickly.
“Just Remus, Harry.” Remus reminded his gently.
Harry ducked his head. “Sorry.”
“So, Harry,” Sirius started with a bit of forced cheer. “What are you plans for the day?”
Harry glancing towards him nervously. “I don’t know. Is there anything you would like me to do for you, Sirius?”
Sirius shook his head. “Well, it would be great to spend some time with you. Get to know you a bit better.”
“I’d like that.” Harry’s smile was shy.
“And Narcissa has invited the three of us over for dinner.” Sirius added before frowning in sudden thought. “Do you need any new robes?”
Harry nodded. “Yes, sir. I’ve completely outgrown most of my old ones.”
“I need some too.” Sirius admitted, deciding to ignore the honorific. “How would you feel about a shopping trip after breakfast?”
“Yes, sir-Sirius.” Harry agreed obediently.
Sirius sighed quietly, he wished Harry felt comfortable enough to drop the formality around him.
Waking up in his own bed, in his own room, in his godfather’s house was a wonderful experience. Harry could only remember sleeping in three places, his cupboard, Dudley’s second bedroom, and his dorm room at Hogwarts and none of them had been as comfortable as his new room. There was also something amazing about being about to claim a room as his. Sirius had even told him that he could redecorate it however he liked. Harry didn’t think he would, he liked the grey walls.
The first thing he did after waking up, was test his Occlumency city. It still felt very fragile, as would be expected after the way it had been attacked the night before, but it seemed to have recovered some overnight. He spent the next hour strengthening the most damaged parts. Then he got out of bed to go for his run, before remembering that he wasn’t sure whether or not Sirius would let him. So he climbed back onto his bed and spent another hour strengthening his city, before getting dressed and heading down to breakfast.
Breakfast was great. Sirius and Remus were incredibly nice and, while there were some awkward silences, Harry couldn’t help but be delighted that this was his life now. He was cautious as well though. As nice as Sirius was, Harry had no idea how he would react if Harry upset him. Harry doubted Sirius would be like Uncle Vernon, if only because wizards didn’t seem to like to get their hands dirty, but there were plenty of spells that Sirius could cast on him in punishment – spells that Harry wanted to avoid.
So he was as polite as he could be, inwardly wincing whenever he would slip up and accidently call either of the men ‘sir’. They always looked disgruntled when he did that.
After breakfast, Sirius sent him back upstairs to get ready for their shopping trip and Harry spent a few minutes staring at the robes hanging in his closet. Which one should he wear? Because he’d grown so much, there were only two to choose from: the dark green one or the purple one that Cousin Narcissa had insisted he buy (since purple was the colour of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Potter). The green one was his favourite, but he knew that most people regarded it as the colour of Slytherin (understandably, since it was the colour of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Slytherin) and he didn’t want to upset Sirius who hated all things Slytherin. He wished that he hadn’t grown out of his wine coloured robes that represented the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black.
Harry pulled down the purple robes and laid them out on his bed. He just had to keep reminding himself the purple wasn’t a girly colour in the wizarding world – well, not among traditionalists anyway, which Sirius wasn’t. Harry groaned, he just couldn’t win. Still, Sirius was still more likely to get upset over the green robes than the purples ones, so Harry would just have to go with the girly option.
Once dressed, Harry turned his attention to his hair and quickly arranged it the way Cousin Narcissa had taught him to. Then, wand securely in its holster, and his sleeves carefully rolled up since he couldn’t spell them that way, he descended the stairs to meet Sirius and Remus.
“Very nice.” Sirius nodded approvingly, though he looked slightly amused as well. “Narcissa’s influence I presume?”
“Yes.” Harry acknowledged, stopping just out of arms reach from his godfather and bowing.
“Are you ready?” Sirius asked.
Harry nodded in agreement and then followed Sirius through to the room with the floo.
“We’re going to Diagon Alley.” Sirius told him. “Remus will go first, then you, then I’ll follow.”
Robe shopping with Sirius and Remus was an interesting experience. Sirius had led Harry to the same robe makers that Cousin Narcissa had taken him to the year before and then had grimaced when the seamstresses all curtsied to him.
“Merry meet, Lord Black.” Madame Krail greeted him almost reverently.
“Merry meet.” Sirius nodded briskly. “Have you met my heir?”
Madame Krail’s attention shifted from Sirius to Harry and she bowed again, though this time not as deeply. “Merry meet, Mr. Potter.”
“Merry meet.” Harry nodded in acknowledgement.
“And this is my good friend Remus Lupin.” Sirius went on. “We all need new wardrobes.”
Remus frowned at Sirius disapprovingly. “I don’t.”
“Yes, you do.” Sirius returned.
“Sirius!” Remus glared at his friend.
Sirius sighed and turned back to Madame Krail. “Why don’t you get started on Harry’s robes? Remus and I will just be a minute.”
“Of course, my lord.” Madame Krail agreed as Sirius all but pulled Remus out of the shop.
Harry’s measurements had already been taken by the time Sirius and Remus returned, so while the two men had their measurements taken, he looked through the catalogue he had been given and chose different styles of robes. Apparently a wardrobe meant fifteen different robes, in addition to everything else that came with it, which meant that he had to choose different styles.
Harry frowned at the book in frustration. There hardly seemed to be any difference between some of the robes. He knew he wanted some open robes, for wearing clothes underneath, as well as some closed robes, but there were so many of each option to choose from.
“How’s it going?” Sirius asked, sitting in the seat next to him.
Harry flinched, how had he not heard his godfather coming? “They all look the same, sir.”
Sirius chuckled. “Yeah, that’s what I used to say. Let me see.”
Harry handed him the book and watched in amusement as Sirius looked down at the book and grimaced.
“It’s like looking at four of the same robe.” Sirius agreed, before leaning closer and lowering his voice. “You know that closed robes are supposed to be worn with nothing underneath, right?”
“Yes, sir.” Harry glanced nervously at him. “Would you rather I only wore open robes?”
Sirius shook his head. “No, it’s fine, so long as you know. And it’s Sirius, remember?”
Harry closed his eyes in frustration as he nodded. Why couldn’t he get this right? Why did he keep breaking one of the only rules Sirius had given him so far. “Sorry, Sirius.”
“It’s fine.” Sirius smiled. “So, what robes were you thinking of getting?”
In the end, Harry chose eight open robes and seven closed ones – each of them different in some way. He made sure to get some more purple and wine coloured ones, before buying the rest in different shades of grey. There was no point in buying green robes if he would be too worried about upsetting Sirius to wear them.
Sirius’ robes were all open, except for two: one for Wizengamot meetings and one for very formal occasions. Remus had apparently managed to talk Sirius down from a whole wardrobe since he only ordered three robes, all of which were open.
After having finished ordering their robes, Sirius took them to a small teashop for morning tea.
After they had ordered, Remus spoke up. “Harry, do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“Not at all.” Harry answered quickly, he was fast coming to like the older man.
“Why did you decide to be traditional?” Remus asked.
Harry glanced towards Sirius worriedly, but his godfather just smiled and nodded encouragingly.
“I grew up mostly in the muggle world, you see.” Remus explained. “My dad was a wizard, but my mum was a muggle and, since dad was untraditional, I’d never even heard of traditionalism until I went to Hogwarts. I met Sirius and your dad there, we were dorm mates, and they were traditional, until they weren’t, but I just thought they were a bit odd…”
“And snobbish.” Sirius put in. “You thought we were snobby elitist toffs.”
“And I can’t ever remember wanting to learn how to be traditional too.” Remus continued as though Sirius hadn’t spoken. “But obviously it was different for you?”
“Yes.” Harry admitted as calmly as he could. He paused, trying to decide what to say.
“When did you first decide you were interested in being traditional?” Remus asked.
Harry thought about it. “On my eleventh birthday, I think. I was on my way back to the Dursleys after Hagrid had taken me to Diagon Alley for the first time and I was reading one of the books that Baknog had recommended to me on the train.”
“Hold up.” Sirius interrupted with frown. “Who is Baknog?”
“He’s the goblin who manages the Potter Accounts.” Harry explained.
“And he recommended some books to you?”
Harry smiled. “Yes. I think he must have figured out that I knew absolutely nothing about the magical world, so he gave me list of books that would be helpful.”
“So what book were you reading?” Remus asked curiously.
Harry frowned. “I think it must have been ‘History and Customs of the British Wizarding Community’ by Ophelia Macmillan. It was really interesting. It talked about the magical royal family, but it didn’t explain why they had been overthrown. I never ended up asking anyone about that.”
“Were you taught about the French Revolution in elementary school?” Remus asked.
“It was connected to that.” Remus told him. “When the French muggles overthrew their monarchy, magical France decided to do the same. A dark French wizard cursed the Maison Ancienne et Royal Carolingienne, the House of the French Royalty, and, unfortunately, the British Royal Family, the Ancient and Royal House of Wendex was so connected to them that the majority of them were affected by the curse as well. The few remaining members of the Magical English Royal family were later killed by assassins.”
“You can do that?” Harry asked in horror. “Curse entire Houses?”
“Only if you’re willing to sacrifice your life and the lives of your entire House to do so.” Sirius answered seriously.
That sounded awful to Harry. He couldn’t think why anyone would be willing to sacrifice their family just to kill off another family.
“So you were reading this book…” Remus prompted him.
“And it mentioned that the magical world had different customs.” Harry answered. “Which made a lot of sense to me and I decided I wanted to learn them to make sure that I fit in.”
“But you must have realised pretty quickly that most people don’t actually follow the customs.” Sirius pointed out.
Harry didn’t actually agree with that. From what he had seen, around half of the magical world were traditional, but he wasn’t going to argue with Sirius.
“It just seemed respectful to learn them.” Harry explained. “And I liked the idea of the magical world being different to the muggle one.”
“And you don’t find them stifling?” Sirius asked.
“No,” Harry denied quickly. “They make sense to me. I like them.”
Remus looked considering. “And what do you think about people like me and Sirius who aren’t traditional.”
Harry glanced nervously at Sirius again.
“It’s alright.” Sirius told him with a small smile. “I won’t get upset.”
“It doesn’t make a difference to me.” Harry said carefully. “I think everyone should get a choice and should be respected for the choice that they make. I really like Draco, and he’s my best friend, but sometimes he can be a bit…snobby about things. I don’t mind if people aren’t traditional, but I guess I don’t really understand why people wouldn’t be. There’s this girl in my year, Granger. She’s a muggleborn and when I hear her talking it’s as though she thinks that everything in the magical world should be the same as the muggle world.”
“But you don’t agree?” Remus asked curiously.
“No.” Harry answered. “I think that every country is different. Takashi is from Japan and they do things really different there, and it would be completely unreasonable for me to go to Japan and expect everything there to be the same as it is here.”
“That’s a good point.” Remus nodded slowly. “But, let’s say, that hypothetically, Japan was to have less effective medicine than we do. Wouldn’t it make sense for them to start using some of our medicine?”
Harry nodded. “It would, but you’re presuming that the muggle world is better than our world. I think they’re just different.”
Sirius frowned. “So you don’t think the muggle world has anything to offer the magical world?”
Harry’s stomach clenched nervously. It had been a lot easier when Remus was the one asking questions. The last thing Harry wanted to do was disagree with his godfather.
“I think they do, sir.” Harry answered carefully. “But that doesn’t mean that our culture has to be exactly like theirs. Take ballpoint pens for example. Writing assignments would be a lot easier if we could use them, but just because they’re better than quills doesn’t mean that we should do everything the ways the muggles do.”
“And yet it is traditional people who refuse to even consider using ballpoint pens.” Sirius retorted.
Harry winced inwardly at Sirius’ tone. Whenever Uncle Vernon had sounded like that pain had quickly followed. Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound.
“I think it’s because they are scared, sir.” Harry answered as politely as he could. “They’re scared that if they agree to some muggle things untraditional people will change everything.”
“That makes sense.” Remus said slowly. “You seem to have really thought about this.”
“I’ve done a lot of research.” Harry explained. “Last year Draco and I were having a lot of arguments about muggles and I did a lot of research so that I would be able to convince him that they weren’t all that bad.”
“And did you?” Sirius asked.
“Yes.” Harry grinned. “Cousin Narcissa agreed to take Draco and me to the muggle world three times to show him around. I took him to the movies and then we got to ride in a race car. He hasn’t really insulted muggles since.”
“Impressive.” Sirius grinned back.
Judging his godfather to be in a good mood, Harry spoke again. “We were hoping to take Luna to see a movie this summer, sir. If that is alright with you of course.”
“That sounds like a great idea!” Sirius beamed. “Doesn’t it, Moony?”
“Definitely.” Remus nodded in agreement.
“Just let me know when, pup.” Sirius said enthusiastically. “And I’ll make it happen.”
Harry smiled shyly at his godfather, inwardly astonished at how easy that had been. Uncle Vernon would never have agreed to let him go to the movies. But then Uncle Vernon wouldn’t have taken Harry robes shopping, let alone out for morning tea.
He wasn’t sure why Sirius had called him ‘pup’ though. He’d never heard of anyone use that term for anyone. He wondered what it meant.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
“Merry meet, Lord Black.” Lucius Malfoy bowed gracefully. “Welcome to Malfoy Manor.”
“Merry meet, Lord Malfoy.” Sirius nodded in acknowledgement. He couldn’t deny that there was something wonderful about having Lucius bloody Malfoy bowing to him, even if that fact made him a terrible hypocrite.
“Merry meet, Lord Malfoy.” Harry’s bow was almost as flawless and graceful as Lucius’ and Sirius couldn’t help but be impressed.
“Merry meet, Mr. Potter.” Lucius nodded.
“Merry meet, Lord Malfoy.” Remus bowed awkwardly and Sirius tried not to stare at him incredulously because, really? Since when had Remus ever cared about traditional customs?
“Merry meet, Mr. Lupin.” Lucius’ corresponding nod was just as polite as when he had nodded to Harry and Sirius couldn’t help but respect the man a little more for that. The Malfoys might have been elitist snobs, but at least they were polite.
Lucius lead them through the house into a small sitting room where Narcissa and Draco were waiting which, of course, set off a whole new set of bowing. Once that was done, Draco pulled Harry away to practise Quidditch with him, leaving Sirius and Remus alone with the adult Malfoys.
“Would you like a seat, my lord?” Narcissa asked and, yes, Sirius was definitely a hypocrite because it was a lot easier putting up with traditional customs when you were at the top of the hierarchy.
“Thank you.” Sirius sat in the nearest chair, a surprisingly comfortable wooden armchair.
“Mr. Lupin?” Narcissa prompted and Remus quickly sat in the chair next to Sirius.
The first few minutes of conversation were awkward, but eventually the subject changed to the subject of Harry.
“How has your first day with Harry been?” Narcissa asked.
“Good.” Sirius nodded. “We went robe shopping this morning, he said he had outgrown most of the ones that he bought last summer.”
“He has grown a lot since then.” Narcissa acknowledged. “He’s going to be tall.”
“Yes,” Sirius agreed. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he was taller than me by the time he has finished growing.”
Remus snorted in amusement. “He’s going to be taller than you by the end of the summer.”
Sirius groaned at the thought. “He’d better not.”
Lucius and Narcissa both looked amused.
“Has Harry approached you regarding the British Under Seventeen Quidditch League?” Lucius asked after a few seconds of silence.
Sirius shook his head. “No, why?”
“Draconus asked us about it yesterday evening.” Narcissa answered. “He told us that both he and Harry were hoping to attend the try-outs.”
“With our permission, of course.” Lucius added. “Permission which I have not granted.”
Sirius exchanged a look with Remus. “Why not?”
“Draconus is only just thirteen.” Narcissa said. “The majority of the players will be at least fifteen years of age, if not sixteen.”
Sirius nodded slowly. “That makes sense.”
“Draconus is rather disappointed.” Narcissa continued. “With the World Cup next summer, he will not have another opportunity to join until the summer before his fifth year.”
“We have, however, agreed to hire Draco a Quidditch Coach for the summer.” Lucius said. “Draco asked whether Mr. Potter could join him for lessons.”
“Don’t they play different positions?” Sirius asked.
“They do.” Narcissa agreed. “Draconus is a chaser.”
“Perhaps I could hire Harry his own coach.” Sirius considered.
“You would be welcome to make use of our Quidditch Pitch in order to do so.” Narcissa offered. “Perhaps the boys could have their lessons as the same time.”
“Thank you.” Sirius inclined his head gratefully. “That is very generous of you.”
“On the subject of lessons,” Narcissa started, her tone almost cautious. “Were you planning to take over Harry’s tutoring this summer? Or would you rather I continued to take care of it?”
It was cleverly put – after all, Sirius could hardly tell her that he didn’t want Harry tutored. Not that he would do that, even if he wasn’t sure about the traditional customs (though he had to admit that almost all his ire against them had disappeared) he wouldn’t deprive Harry of the opportunity to learn about them.
“Perhaps we could share the task?” Sirius suggested.
“Certainly, my lord.” Narcissa agreed.
“What was it that you were planning on tutoring him in this summer?” Sirius asked curiously.
“French, of course,” Narcissa started. “And perhaps adding another language. His education in regards to social customs is still lacking and he needs to continue learning how to manage the Potter Accounts.”
“Draco will be attending several Wizengamot meetings with me over the summer.” Lucius added. “It is perhaps even more important for Mr. Potter to learn such things as he will become Head of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Potter in just over two years.”
“Severus believes that it is important that Harry’s Occlumency lessons continue over the summer.” Narcissa went on.
Sirius tried to not grimace at the name of his childhood rival/victim.
“And of course it is traditional for young heirs to begin fencing lessons during the summer before their third year.” Narcissa continued.
“Fencing lessons?” Remus muttered incredulously.
“All of that in one summer?” Sirius asked just as incredulously, though for a different reason.
“There are ten weeks in the summer.” Narcissa reminded him.
“Still!” Sirius returned. “Isn’t the summer supposed to be their opportunity for rest?”
“It is your decision of course, my lord.” Narcissa answered. “I would not consider teaching Harry anything that you did not approve of.”
Sirius doubted that very much. “How many hours each day would you expect him to be studying?”
“Draconus will be studying for eight hours, two out of every three days.” Narcissa answered. “Though that will include his Quidditch lessons.”
“And will he be studying with you?” Sirius asked.
“Yes.” Narcissa agreed. “He had a tutor last summer, but this year Lucius and I plan to teach him ourselves.”
“And would Harry be able to join those lessons without holding Draco back?” Sirius asked in concern. “I am aware that he has only had one summers worth of tutoring.”
“Certainly.” Narcissa assured him.
Sirius considered that. “Well, so long as Harry is amendable to the idea, I see no reason why we cannot share the responsibility of tutoring him. I can teach him the languages and fencing, though perhaps the rest is best left to your care? It has been a long time since I have considered anything business related.
“Will you be taking up your seat in the Wizengamot?” Lucius asked.
Sirius nodded slowly. “I will.”
Harry and Draco returned soon after for dinner and Sirius tried to ignore his jealousy over how comfortable Harry was with the Malfoys. Harry, who had spent the entire day trying to avoid coming within arm’s reach of Sirius, had no trouble accepting Narcissa’s hand on his shoulder.
Sirius wasn’t sure whether Harry knew what he was doing. He hoped not, because if Harry was consciously trying to keep his distance from Sirius then it meant that he probably expected Sirius to hit him, like Narcissa believed his relatives had. Still, it hurt to think that his godson was so used to being knocked around that he subconsciously avoiding standing close to adults.
Dinner was wonderful and Sirius enjoyed the opportunity to get to know Draco a little. It was nice to see Harry so relaxed as well and even Remus seemed to having a good time.
After dinner, Lucius pulled Sirius and Remus aside and led them to his office.
“Narcissa told me that she explained to you the truth about my connection to the Dark Lord.” Lucius started when they had all taken a seat.
“Yes.” Sirius nodded, unsure about where Lucius was planning on taking the conversation.
“The Dark Lord returned last night.” Lucius said frankly.
Sirius felt as though his heart had dropped into his stomach. “What?”
“Peter Pettigrew assisted him with a ritual to restore his body.” Lucius went on. “The Dark Lord’s appearance has changed significantly, but he is still as cruel and genocidal as he ever was.”
Sirius could hardly breathe. He couldn’t believe it. You-Know-Who couldn’t be back. He just couldn’t! The war had been so terrible, he couldn’t go through that again.
“I am telling you this for two reasons.” Lucius went on, as though he was completely oblivious to the horror that Sirius and Remus were feeling. “Firstly, because when he called his followers together last night he spoke extensively on the subject of Mr. Potter. The Dark Lord is determined to kill your heir.”
Sirius looked towards Remus helplessly. This couldn’t be happening. Why would You-Know-Who care about Harry? Surely he had better things to do than chase after ‘the one that got away’.
“And secondly, because his return forces my House into a difficult situation.” Lucius continued. “I must be seen to be supporting the Dark Lord. Narcissa and I will be explaining the situation to Draco in the next few days and Narcissa believes that Mr. Potter ought to be told also.”
Sirius’s mouth was dry as he cleared his throat. “Aren’t you afraid that they will be vulnerable to Legilimency?”
“Severus tells me that Harry’s Occlumency shields are well on their way to being formidable.” Lucius explained. “But, beyond that, I plan to invoke ‘Familia Celamentum’ with Draco. If we were to tell Mr. Potter the truth, I would request you do the same.”
“What’s ‘Familia Celamentum’?” Remus asked quietly.
“It’s similar to the ‘Familia Iuramento Veritatis’ that Narcissa used earlier in the year.” Sirius answered. “Except, instead of revealing truth, it hides House secrets. Anything under ‘Familia Celamentum’ cannot be shared, not even using Legilimency.”
“Helpful.” Remus commented.
“Would you be willing to invoke the spell?” Lucius asked.
Sirius frowned in thought. On the one hand, it was a dark spell and very illegal; on the other hand, there was no real harm in it so long as you weren’t caught.
“Yes.” He agreed eventually. “When did you want to tell him?”
“I am not yet sure.” Lucius admitted. “That will depend on how Draco takes the news.”
Harry sat across from Sirius and forced down the nervous urge to juggle his leg. He wasn’t sure what his godfather wanted to talk him about, but he doubted it would be good news. Sirius had been particularly solemn since they had left the Malfoys the night before. Harry just hoped that his godfather didn’t forbid him from seeing the Malfoys anymore.
“So, Harry,” Sirius cleared his throat. “I was talking Narcissa last night about how she tutored you last year.”
Harry nodded silently. He had been hoping, against all hope really, that Sirius would let Cousin Narcissa tutor him again this year. Though he didn’t even know whether she would be willing to do it again.
“She has offered to tutor you again this summer.” Sirius continued. “Would you like that?”
Harry stared at him in surprise. “Yes, sir.”
Sirius nodded slowly. “Alright then. How much time would you like to spend studying? I know it’s your holiday, so you’re going to want to spend some time relaxing as well.”
Harry considered that. He’d never really gotten the opportunity to relax over the summer before. The summer before he had spent every third day being tutored by Cousin Narcissa and the other two days working for the Dursleys.
“Would I be able to study for six days and then take one day off?” He asked cautiously.
Sirius raised his eyebrows. “Seriously? You want to study for six out of seven days during your summer holiday?”
Harry winced inwardly. That had obviously been the wrong answer. He wondered what Sirius had wanted him to say.
“Narcissa suggested that you could study with Draco,” Sirius told him. “You would study for two days and then have the third day off.”
Harry nodded quickly. “That sounds brilliant.”
“Did you have anything in particular you wanted to study?” Sirius asked.
Harry was coming to hate Sirius’ open ended questions. It was so hard to figure out what answer his godfather wanted to hear.
“I was hoping to learn more about managing the Potter Accounts.” Harry answered cautiously.
“Okay,” Sirius nodded. “Anything else?”
“Cousin Narcissa said that she would teach me more French.” Harry replied. “And I was hoping to start learning some other languages.”
“Any languages in particular?”
“Gobbledegook.” Harry answered quickly. “Latin, German, and any other language that might be helpful.”
Sirius looked surprised. “Gobbledegook?”
“Yes, sir.” Harry nodded. “I’ve wanted to learn it since before I started Hogwarts.”
“Well, I can teach you Latin and German.” Sirius offered. “But we could hire a tutor to teach you Gobbledegook.”
“Really?” Harry asked before he could stop himself.
“Of course.” Sirius smiled happily. “What else did you want to learn this summer?”
Harry considered lying, but in the end decided to just grit his teeth bear the consequences. “I’d like to learn more about traditional customs, sir.”
Sirius just nodded. “Okay, anything else? Lucius is planning on taking Draco to some Wizengamot meetings. Are you interested in learning a bit about politics?”
Harry nodded quickly. “Yes, sir. Definitely.”
“It’s just Sirius.” Sirius reminded him gently.
“On top of all those things,” Sirius said. “It is traditional for the Head of House to begin teaching his heir how to fence at your age. Would you be interest in me teach you that?”
Harry’s brain had frozen slightly at the word traditional. Didn’t Sirius hate traditional things? “Yes, definitely. Thank you!”
Sirius smiled warmly. “It’ll be fun. Now, last, but certainly not least, how would you feel about me hiring you a Quidditch Seeker Coach?”
Harry stared at him, lost for words. Really? Sirius would consider hiring him a coach? Wouldn’t that be expensive? He could imagine what Anthony’s response would be if the other boy ever heard about it.
“Draco asked his parents about joining the Under Seventeen Quidditch League.” Sirius went on. “They have said no, but have agreed to hire a coach to train Draco over the summer. The Malfoys have offered for the two of you to have lessons at the same time, if you are interested.”
“Yes, please.” Harry said quickly, his excitement over receiving coaching overriding any disappointment that he wouldn’t be allowed to try out for the Quidditch League. “That sounds smashing!”
Sirius looked amused. “Alright then. And you’re not worried about there being too much work?”
Harry shook his head. Sure, it sounded like a lot of work, but he couldn’t think of anything he would rather do with his time.
“I’ll talk to Narcissa and set it up then.” Sirius promised.
“Thank you!” Harry told him seriously. “This is going to be the best summer I’ve ever had.”
“You’re welcome, pup.” Sirius told him with a smile.
It was just after lunch when Harry heard the floo chime, signalling that someone was trying to floo call them. He put down his book and made his way towards the floo room, stopping the doorway when he saw that Remus was already there.
“…everyone together.” Headmaster Dumbledore’s voice sounded from the fireplace.
Harry frowned. Why would Dumbledore be calling Remus?
“I’ll let Sirius know.” Remus promised and Harry thought that the man sounded a lot more stressed than he usually did. “What time and where?”
“I was hoping that we could use Grimmauld Place.” Dumbledore commented.
“I doubt Sirius will like that idea.” Remus said. “Especially after you tried to stop him taking custody of Harry.”
“I was only trying to do what I thought was right, dear boy.” Dumbledore sounded sad.
“I know, Headmaster.” Remus’ tone made it sound as though he agreed with Dumbledore, but Harry thought that his body language looked pretty angry.
“Perhaps it would be best if we were to meet at Arthur and Molly’s.” Dumbledore said, as though he was talking to himself. “Yes, we’ll meet there in an hour. If you could bring Harry, it would give him a chance to get to know some of the Weasley children.”
“That will be up to Sirius.” Remus told the headmaster just before the floo call ended. “Can I help you, Harry?”
Harry stepped back in surprise. How had Remus known he was there? “No, sir. Sorry. I just heard the floo chime.”
“That’s fine.” Remus’ smile was kind. “Though it would best if you didn’t listen in on other peoples’ conversations in the future.”
Harry nodded quickly. “Yes, sir. I won’t.”
“Thank you.” Remus’s smile widened. “Do you know where Sirius is?”
“No, sorry.” Harry shook his head. “Would you like me to find him for you?”
“It’s fine.” Remus assured him. “I’ll find him.”
Harry wandered back to the sitting room where he had been reading and picked up his book again. It was one of the books that he had found in the Come and Go Room and contained a lot of different essays about potion making techniques.
It had barely been ten minutes since the floo call, when Sirius and Remus walked into the room and sat down opposite him – both of them looking unusually serious.
“Can we have a word with you, Harry?” Sirius asked sombrely.
Harry put his book down on the table beside him and gave Sirius all of his attention. “Yes, sir.”
Sirius was silent for a few seconds and then he cleared his throat. “What we’re about to tell you is a secret. You can’t tell anyone else that you know. Can you do that?”
Harry nodded. “Yes.”
“You-Know-Who isn’t dead like everyone thinks he is.” Sirius told him gently. “He’s been wandering around in ghost form and, two nights ago, he performed a ritual to get a new body. He’s back.”
Harry stared at Sirius in horror. This had to be a joke. “But he’s dead.
“That’s what everyone thought.” Sirius agreed. “But they were wrong. I’m sorry, Harry. He’s really back.”
Harry felt as though he was dreaming. This couldn’t be real, could it?
“Which brings us to the next point.” Sirius said. “There is a large possibility that You-Know-Who will try and come after you, since you were the one who almost killed him. We need you to be careful.”
“Okay.” Harry agreed immediately. There was no way he wanted to risk being attacked by Voldemort.
“That means not going anywhere without one of us, or Lucius and Narcissa.” Sirius explained. “There will probably be more people on that list later, but for now, those are the people that we trust.”
“Finally,” Sirius exchanged a look with Remus. “During the first war there was group of people who got together to fight the Death Eaters. They were called the Order of the Pheonix. Remus and I were both part of that group, as were your parents. Dumbledore is the one who ran the Order and he is calling us all back together.”
“That makes sense.” Harry felt as though he was in a daze.
“Remus and I aren’t too happy with Dumbledore right now.” Sirius went on. “But fighting You-Know-Who is more important.”
Harry wasn’t sure what to say.
“Dumbledore has asked us to meet him at the Weasleys’ house in about forty five minutes, to talk about all this.” Sirius told him. “Which means that you need to come with us. You won’t be able to stay for the meeting, but the Weasley kids should be there so you can hang out with them.”
“Okay.” Harry agreed blankly. This couldn’t be true. Voldemort couldn’t be back!
Harry stepped out of the floo gracefully and moved away from the fireplace before looking around the room. He seemed to be in the Weasleys’ dining room. There was a table in the middle of the room with eight chairs around it. It was big enough to take up almost the entire room, though it wasn’t as big as the one at Sirius’ house.
Sirius was standing a few feet away with a short red headed man, who Harry recognised as being the wizard who had brawled with Lord Malfoy the summer before.
“Welcome, welcome!” The man smiled widely at Harry. “You must be Harry Potter.”
“Yes, sir.” Harry confirmed with a polite smile.
“I’m Arthur Weasley,” The man introduced himself. “I believe you know some of my sons.”
“Yes, sir.” Harry agreed. “Fred and George are great.”
The floo flared behind him and Harry turned around to see Remus step out of it.
Mr. Weasley moved forward and reached out a hand. “Good to see you, Remus.”
“You too, Arthur.” Remus shook his hand. “We’re the first to arrive, are we?”
“Seems so.” Mr. Weasley agreed.
“Do you know who else is coming?” Sirius asked, moving to stand next to Harry.
Harry tried not to feel too uncomfortable about the close proximity.
“Mad-Eye, will be coming, and bringing his protégé, I imagine.” Mr. Weasley answered. “She’s your cousin, isn’t she, Sirius? Andromeda’s daughter?”
Sirius looked surprised. “Nymphadora?”
Harry looked up in interest, Auror Tonks had been the best DADA professor he’d ever had. He hadn’t realised she was related to Sirius.
Arthur nodded. “I’m sure Diggle will be here, and Podmore.”
The floo flared again and Harry was surprised to see Professor Snape step into the room.
Professor Snape glanced at them, before his gaze paused on Sirius. Then he bowed, first to Sirius and then to Harry, with a sour expression. “Lord Black, Mr. Potter.”
“Snape.” Sirius nodded, his tone brusque.
“Merry meet, Professor.” Harry smiled politely, trying to not to remember all the stories that Sirius had written to him involving the Marauders’ playing pranks on Snape.
“Where are Molly and the kids?” Remus asked Mr. Weasley after the silence had begun to get awkward.
“Molly should be here any minute.” Mr. Weasley answered. “She went to get some milk. We were almost out. The kids are outside.”
“You alright joining them, Harry?” Sirius asked.
“Of course.” Harry nodded. “Do I just go through the door, Mr. Weasley?”
Mr. Weasley nodded and moved ahead of Harry to open the door. Then he looked out. “PERCY?! FRED?! GEORGE?! RON?! GINNY?!”
Harry winced at the loud noise, but it was effective because fifteen seconds later Ron could be seen jogging towards them.
“Harry’s going to hang out with you guys for a while.” Mr. Weasley explained. “Can you show him around? Just make sure you stay outside.”
Ron’s eyes focussed on Harry. “Sure, dad.”
“Great, thanks.” Mr. Weasley said, before returning to the house and shutting the door behind him.
Harry put his hands in the pockets of his robes. “Merry meet.”
“Yeah, uh, hi.” Ron nodded and began walking back the way he’d come “How’s your summer going?”
Harry considered it. On the positive side, he was living with Sirius now and had seen the Malfoys the day before; on the negative side, Voldemort was back.
“Good. How is your summer going?”
“Brilliant!” Ron grinned. “I love being able to sleep in until lunch.”
Harry couldn’t really relate. “Oh, cool.”
“So, what’ve you been doing?” Ron asked.
“I went robe shopping yesterday…” Harry started.
“Oh, is that why you’re wearing that poncy robe?” Ron asked. “You don’t have to wear it here, you know. I mean, you look like a bloody toff.”
Harry looked down at his robe – he had chosen to wear an open robe because he didn’t know what they would be doing – what was wrong with it? And who was Ron to judge him on his clothing? Ron who had tomato seeds dried to the front of his t-shirt.
“What else have you been doing?” Ron questioned.
Harry took a deep breath and decided to let it go. “Well, last night we had dinner with the Malfoys which was great. Otherwise I’ve just been reading.”
Ron scowled. “You went to the Malfoys?”
“Yes.” Harry confirmed. “It was brilliant.”
“Why you choose to hang out with the slimy git is beyond me.” Ron sneered. “He’s a Death Eater!”
“No, he’s not.” Harry snapped. “He’s my cousin!”
“Yeah, well, you’ve got bloody awful relatives then.” Ron told him.
Harry could feel himself getting angry. “I beg your pardon?”
“But then that’s hardly new, is it?” Ron continued with a sneer. “After all, your godfather murdered thirteen muggles.”
Harry gritted his teeth. “He was found innocent.”
“Only because he bought off the Wizengamot.” Ron accused. “That’s the problem with you toffs, you get away with everything. Prancing around here with your poncy robes…”
“Okay…” One of the twins spoke suddenly from Harry’s left.
“…on the note…” The twin added as they walked towards them.
“…We’ll take over from here.” The first twin finished firmly. “Run along, Ronnie.”
Ron snarled at them, before stomping away.
“Sorry about that.” The second twin said and Harry decided that, for today, he would call that twin George.
“Ron’s got some bad influences in his life at the moment.” Fred added.
“You alright, Harry?” George asked.
“I’m fine.” Harry smiled. “Thanks for the save.”
“It wasn’t you we were worried about.” George grinned.
“We just didn’t want to have to pick up the pieces after you were done with him.” Fred wiggled his eyebrows.
Harry grinned back. “So, how is your summer going?”
“Great!” George answered.
“Brilliant!” Fred nodded.
“Smashing!” They chorused together.
“We’ve already managed to play three pranks on mum.” George explained.
“How’s your summer going?” Fred asked as they began walking again. “Is it nice to be living with your godfather?”
“Yes.” Harry answered. “He and Remus are great. He’s going to get a tutor to teach me Gobbledegook.”
The twins blinked. “Gobbledegook?”
“I’ve wanted to learn it for two years.” Harry explained. “I told Sirius and he said he’d get me a tutor – just like that.”
“We’re happy for you?” George said questioningly.
“Though it’s hard to see that sort of thing as fun.” Fred admitted. “I’d much rather a pranking tutor.”
“Yeah, or a Quidditch tutor.” George agreed.
Harry decided not to tell them that he’d be getting one of those as well.
“So, Harry,” George started. “How was your second year?”
“We hardly saw you.” Fred told him.
“Except at Quidditch.” George added.
“…by the way…”
“…you are way too good at for our liking.” Fred finished with a grin.
They rounded a corner and Harry grinned in delight at the sight of the Quidditch Pitch. It wasn’t as big as the Malfoys’ one, but it was decent size and Harry hoped that they’d be allowed to fly around it.
“Tate told us about your feint…” George told him.
Harry winced when he remembered how he had distracted the Gryffindor Seeker from the snitch. It had been a bit too underhanded for his liking.
“…And we’d be mad at you for it…” Fred grinned.
“…but we can’t really talk…”
“…since we spent half the game trying to knock you out of the sky.”
Harry grimaced. “Yes, that was not fun.”
“Oliver was mad though.” George grinned.
Fred nodded in agreement. “I don’t think he’s been so embarrassed in his life.”
“Coming third overall!”
“We were pretty excited to come second.” Harry admitted. “Though it would have been nice to come first.”
“Your chasers are a problem.” Fred told him.
“In fact your whole team is a bit mediocre.” George said apologetically.
“Except you, of course.” Fred added quickly. “You’re bloody great!”
Harry couldn’t help but feel a little insulted on behalf of his teammates. “Yes, and your seeker is terrible.”
“We don’t disagree.” They chorused.
“You keen to do some flying?” Fred asked.
“Our brooms aren’t as flash as yours…” George admitted with a wince.
“…they’re a bit embarrassing actually...” Fred put in.
“…but they do the job.”
“Sounds good.” Harry grinned as he shrugged of his robes and laid them out on the grass.
Fred passed Harry a broom and Harry took a minute to look it over. It was a Cleansweep Five, which was at least six years out of date, but it had obviously been well looked after.
Flying on the broom was interesting. It seemed heavier than his Nimbus and it was a lot harder to turn with. Harry couldn’t believe that the twins managed to be the best beaters at Hogwarts on brooms like it. They were obviously incredibly good.
“Have you guys ever considered trying out for the Under Seventeen Quidditch League?” Harry asked after he’d spent a few minutes trying out the broom.
The twins exchanged looks. “We’ve considered it…”
“…but it costs fifteen galleons.” Fred finished.
“Unless you’re good enough that they want to pay you.” Harry pointed out.
“Yeah, but we’re not that good.” George told him.
Harry disagreed. “Listen, no offence, but this broom isn’t nearly as good as most of the other brooms people at Hogwarts are playing with.”
“We know.” Fred said glumly.
“And yet, despite that, you’re the best beaters at Hogwarts.” Harry reminded them.
“So?” George asked.
“So if I lend you my two Nimbus 2001 brooms you could try out on them.” Harry said. “I’m sure you’d get in!”
“You have two Nimbus 2001s?” They chorused asked incredulously.
“Yes,” Harry winced. “The Malfoys gave me one for my birthday and then Sirius gave me one for Christmas.”
“And you’d lend them to us?” Fred asked.
“Seriously?” George added.
“Seriously.” Harry told them sombrely. “Sirius says I’m not allowed to try out for the League because I’m too young, but you guys are fifteen this year. You’re definitely old enough. Do you think your parents would agree?”
“Dad would.” George said immediately.
Fred nodded. “Mum would be a bit harder to convince.”
“But you’ll try?” Harry asked.
They both nodded determinedly. “We will.”
It was almost two hours later when Sirius eventually came to tell Harry that they were leaving, by which time Ron and Ginny had joined them in the air. Harry much preferred the twins company. Ron was prick and Ginny kept staring at him.
Sirius, Harry and Remus all flooed back to Grimmauld Place where Lord Malfoys’ Eagle Owl was waiting for them. Apparently Lord Malfoy had something he wanted to talk to him and Sirius about. It seemed strange to Harry, given that they had been at Malfoy Manor the night before.
Draco greeted them when they stepped through the floo and Harry frowned when he saw how pale and tired his friend looked. What could have happened in the last twenty four hours to make Draco look like that? Well, other than Voldemort returning, but why would Draco know about that?
Draco led them to a small sitting room where Lord Malfoy and Cousin Narcissa were waiting for them. It took a minute to get the pleasantries over, but once they were done everyone sat down and then Lord Malfoy began to explain that he worked for Voldemort.
Well, that wasn’t exactly what he said, but Harry wasn’t really taking it all in. He felt as though his head was spinning. First Voldemort was back and now this? Draco’s father really was a Death Eater, just like Terry, Ron and the other kids always accused him of being.
Except, that wasn’t fair. Lord Malfoy was just pretending to be a Death Eater so that the Ministry would know what Voldemort was doing. He was a spy. Harry thought that sounded really scary.
“…rry? Harry?” Sirius’ voice brought his attention back to the situation at hand.
Harry looked up and saw that everyone in the room was watching with concern, even Draco looked worried. “Sorry.”
“It’s fine.” Sirius told him gently. “Are you alright?”
Harry nodded, he was fine. He was just feeling a bit…spacey. Like the world had slowed down or something.
“It’s really important that you don’t tell anyone, Harry.” Sirius’ tone was serious. “If You-Know-Who finds out that Lucius isn’t loyal to him…” He paused. “The Malfoys will get hurt.”
Harry felt like rolling his eyes. Sirius didn’t need to treat him like a child. He knew what would happen if Voldemort found out, well, he didn’t exactly know, but he had a few ideas.
“So we’re going to use an old spell.” Sirius continued. “It will make sure that you can’t tell anyone, even if they try and force you. Even if they use Legilimency or Veritaserum.”
“Okay.” Harry agreed, it made sense that they would want to protect the information.
After Sirius had invoked the spell, which had been very different from the spells that Harry had been learning at Hogwarts (Harry definitely wanted to research those sorts of spells), the adults let Harry and Draco leave the room.
Harry silently followed Draco down the hall and into another small sitting area.
“Are you alright?” Harry asked in concern.
Draco was still looking pale and drawn. “I don’t know. I can’t believe that father is a Death Eater.”
“He’s not really though, is he?” Harry pointed out. “He’s just pretending to be.”
“But nobody else knows that.” Draco responded. “All those times that Weasley accused father of being a Death Eater, he was right.”
“No, he wasn’t.” Harry told him firmly. “Weasley is a prick! Besides, it doesn’t matter what other people think. Your father is a hero!”
Draco’s lips curled in distaste. “You make it sound like he’s a Gryffindor.”
“No,” Harry shook his head. “A Gryffindor wouldn’t be able to do what your father is doing. He’s being sly and clever…”
“…by putting himself in danger?” Draco interrupted. “You heard Lord Black. If the Dark Lord finds out about this, he’ll kill father!”
“So he won’t find out.” Harry said. “Who’s going to tell him? Your father managed to hide it from the Dark Lord for years last time. He can do it again.”
Draco’s shoulders slumped and Harry watched in concern. He’d never seen his cousin so undone.
“You’re taking this well.” Draco commented after a while. “Aren’t you upset to hear about the Dark Lord being back?”
“Yes.” Harry answered quickly. “But I already knew. Sirius and Remus told me this morning. They’re worried about me. Apparently Voldemort’s been talking about me. He’s upset that I didn’t die the first time he tried to kill me.”
Draco flinched. “Don’t say his name! And you didn’t just not die, Harry. You defeated him.”
“Obviously not.” Harry said glumly. “If I’d defeated him, he wouldn’t be back.”
Unsurprisingly, the news of Voldemort’s return put a damper on Harry’s mood for the remainder of June. It wasn’t that there weren’t exciting things happening, because there definitely were, but the knowledge that Voldemort was out there somewhere, probably planning how to murder him, made it hard to really enjoy things.
Sirius and Remus had both been great and any apprehension that Harry had felt during his first few days living with them soon disappeared. Sirius had started helping him with his French and had even instigated ‘French days’ when he and Harry were only allowed to talk in French (Remus tended to make himself scarce on those days since he didn’t actually speak the language), and he’d also started teaching Harry German and Latin.
Harry was also, finally, learning Gobbledegook since Sirius had been true to his word and had found Harry a tutor. The tutor, Ginstock, was a female goblin whose disposition was a lot gentler than the other goblins Harry had met – mainly Baknog and Healer Axeure. Ginstock taught him for three hours every third day and Harry was enjoying the lessons immensely. Though he found it difficult, and sometimes painful, to pronounce the more throaty sounds. Still, learning Gobbledegook was definitely worth the resulting sore throat in Harry’s opinion.
All of Harry’s other tutoring had started as well. Sirius had started teaching him fencing, which was exhausting and made Harry wish he’d considered learning exercises for his arms (who knew a small sword could get so heavy), Professor Snape taught him Occlumency once a week, and Cousin Narcissa was tutoring both him and Draco on traditional customs, comportment, as well as finance and business. It kept them busy (though only for two out of every three days) but it was also a lot of fun. Harry loved learning new things, particularly things that he could see a use for – and all the things Cousin Narcissa taught them were very practical and useful. She’d even started teaching him and Draco how to dance. Unfortunately, since there were two of them, she made them take turns at being the girl.
Lord Malfoy and Sirius had also hired him and Draco each a Quidditch Coach. Harry’s coach was Aiden Kiely and Draco’s coach was Avery Hawksworth, both of them usually played for the Kenmare Kestrels and both had apparently been shortlisted for the World Cup team the following year. Harry hadn’t recognise their names, but Draco had and he’d looked a little star struck until Lord Malfoy cleared his throat disapprovingly.
Both Aiden and Avery were traditional and, more importantly, amazing coaches. Harry felt as though he was learning stack loads every day. It was enough to remove any jealousy he’d been feeling about that fact that Fred and George had indeed gotten one of the few paid positions in the Under Seventeen Quidditch League. He was happy for them of course, but he wished that Sirius and Lord Malfoy had let him and Draco try out as well. Still, Harry knew that he wasn’t as good of a seeker as the twins were beaters yet and he was glad for the opportunity to improve. At least this way, when he and Draco were allowed to join the league, they would be the best.
It was the first Sunday of July, and incidentally one of Harry’s rest days, when Sirius announced at breakfast that they would be having visitors over for dinner. Harry’s first thought was that it was probably someone from the Order of Pheonix, but then Sirius told him that it was his cousin.
It wasn’t the first time Harry had heard about Sirius having cousins. He knew that Cousin Narcissa was Sirius’ cousin, which meant that Cousin Narcissa’s sister Bellatrix was his cousin too. It obviously wasn’t Bellatrix, but Harry doubted that it was Cousin Narcissa either – otherwise Sirius would have just said that the Malfoys were coming over.
The only other option that Harry knew about was Auror Tonks who Mr. Weasley had said was Sirius’ cousin. Harry had no idea how exactly Auror Tonks was Sirius’ cousin, but Sirius’ hadn’t denied the relation.
“What do you know about what happens when a witch or wizard is disowned from their House, Harry?” Sirius asked suddenly.
“Well, they can only be disowned by the Head of House.” Harry started. “Unless it is the witch or wizard disowning their house.”
“Right.” Sirius agreed.
“And there are different severities of disownment.” Harry continued. “Someone can be disowned from their House and still be friends with their family, but if they are excommunicated then no one in the House that they were excommunicated from is allowed to acknowledge their existence. That is very rare though.”
“It is.” Sirius agreed. “But it still happens. When I was still in Hogwarts, my Grandfather, Lord Arcturus, excommunicated one of my first cousins.”
Harry’s eyes widened. “Really? Why?”
“She had been contracted to marry the Heir of a Most Ancient and Noble House, but she disowned our House and married a muggleborn wizard instead.” Sirius answered. “Grandfather was furious and immediately excommunicated her.”
Harry considered that. “Is she the one coming over for dinner?”
“Yes.” Sirius nodded. “Her name is Andromeda Tonks, her husband is Ted and their daughter’s name is Nymphadora.”
“Is she an auror?” Harry asked.
“A trainee.” Sirius corrected.
“Right. She was one of the aurors who taught me this year.” Harry explained. “She was the best teacher we have ever had for DADA.”
“Really?” Sirius grinned. “That’s hard to believe. She seems a bit...clumsy.”
Harry couldn’t disagree. She had tripped over something in every lesson, sometimes it seemed as though she was tripping over air.
“Are all three of them coming for dinner?” Harry asked.
“They are.” Sirius nodded. “I met with Andromeda earlier this week and offered to accept her back into the family.”
“Can you do that?” Harry frowned in thought. “What about the marriage contract.”
“It was fulfilled by her younger sister – Narcissa.” Sirius answered.
Harry raised an eyebrow in surprise. “I didn’t know Cousin Narcissa had another sister.”
“No, you wouldn’t.” Sirius frowned. “Andromeda was excommunicated, remember? Narcissa won’t have spoken to, or about, her sister in decades.”
Harry frowned in thought. “Last year, when Cousin Narcissa was taking me and Draco to the muggle world, she said that she had asked advice from someone she knew who had married a muggleborn. Do you think she was talking about Andromeda?”
Now it was Sirius’ turn to look surprised. “Cissy said that? It might have been Andromeda that she was referring to, but it is unlikely.”
Harry grinned in amusement at Sirius’ name for Cousin Narcissa. It was just so informal. He couldn’t imagine anyone actually calling her that to her face.
“Anyway,” Sirius said. “Andromeda and her family have all agreed to be brought back into the House of Black so we will be taking care of the formalities tonight.”
“Is there anything I need to do?” Harry asked.
“Not during the formalities.” Sirius replied. “But they are traditional, so it would probably be a good idea for you to put everything Narcissa had been teaching about hosting to good use.”
Harry looked at Sirius cautiously. Sirius didn’t seem to hate traditionalism anymore, but he certainly wasn’t traditional by any means. Why would Sirius care if his guests were traditional?
“Are you sure?”
Sirius nodded. “I am. Remus won’t be there, he’s still not feeling very well, which means that everyone present, other than me, will be traditional. Majority rules.”
It was six in the evening when the doorbell rang, signalling the arrival of their guests. Harry and Sirius, both who were dressed in wine coloured robes that represented the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black, waited in the formal sitting room for one of the elves to answer the door and bring the guests to them.
“Nervous?” Sirius asked quietly.
“No.” Harry denied. “Are you?”
“A bit.” Sirius admitted with a grimace. “I never was good at this traditional crap and Andromeda can be a bit terrifying all on her own.”
As Sirius finished speaking the door swung open and three people walked into the room – all of whom were wearing formal closed robes, Harry was impressed.
“Merry meet, Lord Black, Heir Black.” The older woman greeted with a curtsie.
“Merry meet.” Sirius nodded in acknowledgement.
Harry nodded as well and looked their three guests over. He recognised Auror Tonks of course, though he had never seen her dressed so formally, or her hair, which was the same shade as her mother’s light brown hair, such a normal colour.
“My lord,” Andromeda started. “May I introduce my husband, Theodore Tonks,”
“Merry meet, Lord Black, Heir Black.” Ted bowed.
“Merry meet.” Sirius returned with a nod.
“And my daughter, Nymphadora.” Andromeda continued.
Auror Tonks grimaced when her mother said her name, but then she curtsied politely. “Merry meet.”
Sirius placed a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “This is my godson and heir, Harry Potter, Heir to the Most Ancient and Noble Houses of Black and Potter.”
“Merry meet.” Harry nodded politely.
“I thought that we would get the formalities out of the way first.” Sirius told Andromeda.
“As you wish, my lord.” Andromeda replied as she gracefully lowered herself to her knees in front of Sirius.
Harry watched as Sirius offered his hands, palms up, for her to place her own hands in.
“I, Sirius Orion Black, Lord of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black, revoke the disownment of Andromeda Druella Tonks, nee Black, from the House of Black, as spoken by my ancestor, Lord Arcturus.” Sirius intoned. “Furthermore, with the authority granted to me as the Lord of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black, I welcome her back into the House of Black. So mote it be.”
“So mote it be.” Andromeda echoed. “I, Andromeda Druella Tonks, of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black, do so swear obedience and fealty to the House of Black, its Lord and his Heir. I will be to Lord Black faithful and true. I will love all that he loves, and shun all that he shuns, according to the law of magic, and according to the world's principles, and never, by will nor by force, by word nor by work, do ought of what is loathful to him. So mote it be.”
Harry raised an eyebrow in surprise. He had been expecting a basic loyalty oath, not a fealty oath. Maybe the fealty oath was required when revoking a disownment.
“So mote it be.” Sirius repeated. “I, Sirius Orion Black, Lord of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black, accept the oath of fealty sworn to me by Andromeda Druella Tonks, nee Black, of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black. As liege lord, I will be to Andromeda, and her family, fair and honourable, according to the law of magic, and according the world’s principles, and never, by will nor by force, by word nor by work, do ought of what is permanently harmful or injurious to her, nor to her family. So mote it be.”
“So mote it be.” Andromeda agreed. “Lord Black, as a member of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black, I humbly ask for your blessing for my marriage to Edward Theodore Tonks.”
“As Lord of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black, I, Sirius Orion, hereby give my blessing for the marriage of Edward Theodore Tonks and Andromeda Druella Tonks, of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black. As Edward Theodore was begotten from a lesser House, I, with the authority granted to me as the Lord of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black, do so receive him into the House of Black.”
Harry watched in shock as Edward knelt beside his wife, albeit much less gracefully than Andromeda had, and repeated the same fealty oath that his wife had. Cousin Narcissa had taught him about ceremonies like this, but they were very rare and normally took place during a wedding.
Sirius’s response was similar to the response he had given Andromeda, except that it included the right for Edward to claim the name Black as his surname.
“My lord,” Edward spoke again. “My wife and I humbly ask for your blessing for our daughter Nymphadora Cassiopeia.”
And then it was all repeated again, only this time between Sirius and Auror Tonks. Harry wondered whether he should maybe start calling her Nymphadora.
“…So mote it be.” Sirius eventually finished.
“So mote it be.” Andromeda, Edward and Nymphadora all repeated.
“Excellent!” Sirius grinned rubbing his hands together excitedly. “Welcome to the family.”
“Thank you, my lord.” Edward answered, climbing to his feet and then offering his hand to help his wife up,
“Call me Sirius.” Sirius instructed them, gesturing towards the seats. “And have a seat. Your knees must be feeling a bit achy.”
“A little.” Andromeda admitted, as she and Edward sat on the two person couch.
Harry stepped forward. “Can I offer you a drink, Sirius? Cousins?”
“I’ll have an elderberry wine, thank you, Harry.” Sirius replied.
“Likewise.” Andromeda agreed with a gentle smile.
“I’ll have a butterbeer please, Heir Black.” Edward agreed.
“Please, call me Harry.” Harry smiled.
“Then you ought to call me Ted.” Edward agreed.
Harry nodded and turned to Nymphadora. “Cousin Nymphadora?”
“I’ll have a wine too, thanks, Harry.” Nymphadora grinned. “And while we’re on the subject of names, please don’t call me Nymphadora.”
Andromeda frowned disapprovingly and Harry couldn’t help but be amused at how similar it was to Cousin Narcissa’s disproving expressing.
“What would you rather we called you?” Sirius asked her.
Nymphadora gave him a cautious look, as though she was scared that she had upset him. Harry understood that. He’d given Sirius similar looks when he’d first moved in with him.
“Normally I go by Tonks, my lord.” Nymphadora answered, as her mother’s frown deepened.
“Really?” Sirius tilted his head to the side. “Not Dora? Or Cassie? Nymph? Nymphie?”
Nymphadora grimaced. “Nymphie?”
Sirius grinned. “Not to your liking then?”
Harry sat beside Sirius, before muttering his own preference for butterbeer under his breath. Less than a minute later, the appropriate drinks appeared on the small tables beside each of the seats.
Harry loved house elves.
The Tonks, or Blacks as they had decided to be known as, were great. Nymphadora, or Tonks, was brilliant. Harry had always thought that she was fun, but it turned out that she was even cooler when she wasn’t his professor.
Andromeda was a more laidback version of Cousin Narcissa, but her husband was nothing like Lord Malfoy. It was weird to remember that Andromeda had been supposed to marry Lord Malfoy, Harry was glad that she hadn’t – both witches seemed very happy with the husbands that they had.
The next day, Harry informed Cousin Narcissa and Draco about the dinner and, most importantly, the fact that Sirius had accepted Andromeda back into the family. Cousin Narcissa stared at him for a few seconds, before swiftly leaving the room. Harry watched her leave feeling disconcerted, he had never seen her lose her composure before.
Draco was excited to hear that he had another cousin and claimed that he had suspected it all along. Which wasn’t too farfetched since Tonks was a Metamorphmagus and the House of Black was the only remaining House that claimed that blood trait.
Later that week, Harry received a letter from Healer Axecure requesting his presence at Gringotts. She instructed him to bring Sirius which Harry didn’t exactly mind, except that it meant he would have to tell his godfather about the fact that he sometimes had visions of torturing someone. It wasn’t as though Harry was scared of Sirius anymore, but he had no idea how his godfather would take the news.
Sirius took the news weirdly well, before admitting that Cousin Narcissa had already told him, but he seemed a bit perturbed to find out that Harry’s healer was a Goblin. Still, he agreed to accompany Harry to the bank anyway. In fact, he seemed almost delighted to have been invited.
Bakrog met Harry and Sirius in Gringotts’ Entrance Hall, before leading them through the bank towards Healer Axecure’s rooms.
It was strange being back in the healing rooms, particularly when he considered that it was the first time he had been there without any bruises and welts. It was amazing to consider just how much his life had changed since the previous summer.
Harry greeted Healer Axecure in slightly stuttered Gobbledegook, before grinning inwardly when she rewarded him with a toothy smile.
“Up on the bed, Mr. Potter.” Healer Axecure told him briskly.
“Yes, Healer.” Harry agreed. “First though, may I introduce my Magical Guardian, Lord Sirius Black, of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black.”
Healer Axecure nodded. “Yes, that was who I presumed he was.”
“Sirius,” Harry started. “This is Healer Axecure. She has been my healer since the summer before my first year.”
Sirius didn’t seem to know how to react. “Merry meet.”
Healer Axecure nodded sharply and turned back to Harry. “Why aren’t you on the bed?”
She started, as she always had in the past, with a full body scan, and Harry enjoyed knowing that she wouldn’t find any bruises. Well, except the one on his leg from falling off his broomstick the day before. His Quidditch tutor had been teaching him a new kind of dive, which was amazing, but it had taken a Harry a few crashes to get it right.
After the scan, Healer Axecure led Harry and Sirius through a door and into a small room with four chairs, two of which were human sized. Already sitting on one of the smaller chairs was a goblin that Harry recognised as the healer that had helped Axecure study his scar the year before.
“Merry meet, Healer Benthog.” Harry greeted him politely.
Healer Benthog nodded abruptly.
Harry sat down, before introducing Sirius to the new goblin.
“Right.” Healer Axecure said, the moment the introductions were done. “We have discovered what is in your scar.”
“Oh,” Harry looked towards Sirius, he hadn’t been expecting that. “What is it?”
“A horcrux.” Healer Benthog said with a disgusted sneer.
Harry frowned. “Sorry?”
“A horcrux is a fragment of a soul,” Healer Axecure started to explain.
Harry frowned, what did that even mean?
Axecure continued. “When a person dies, their soul leaves this plane of existence. However, if that soul has been split into pieces, it is unable to go until all the pieces have been destroyed. Some wizards deliberately split their soul in order to become immortal.”
“And Harry has a part of someone’s soul in his head?” Sirius asked with audible horror.
Harry felt sick. How was the possible?
“Yes,” Healer Benthog said. “All the tests have been conclusive.”
“Whose soul is it?” Harry asked, trying to ignore his increasingly nausea.
Healer Axecure sneered. “We believe the soul fragment to belong to the wizard who is now known as Voldemort.”
Harry placed an arm across his stomach and tried not to retch. He had Voldemort’s soul in his head? He couldn’t imagine anything more horrifying.
“Here.” Healer Axecure pressed a potion vial into his hand.
Harry tilted his head back and quickly swallowed the potion, sighing in relief when his nausea immediately began to lessen.
“How can you be sure?” Sirius asked, reaching out a hand and placing it on Harry’s shoulder.
“We believe the fragment to have been deposited into Mr. Potter’s scar the same night that it was created.” Healer Axecure explained. “Additionally, we believe that Mr. Potter’s visions of Voldemort’s activities are a direct result of the connection granted to them by the horcrux.”
Harry was sure that, without the potion, he would definitely have vomited at that news. His visions had been of Voldemort? He supposed that it made sense, but he had never really considered it.
“Can you get it out?” Sirius asked the goblins. “Without hurting Harry?”
“We can get it out, but it will hurt.” Healer Benthog answered.
“But he’ll recover?” Sirius asked.
“Yes.” Healer Axecure promised. “We have practised the technique on two of Voldemort’s other, non-living, horcruxes, and we are certain that it will work on Mr. Potter as well.”
“Two other horcruxes?” Sirius exclaimed. “How many does the bastard have?”
“Six.” Healer Benthog answered flatly.
Harry grimaced, the whole idea was just too horrible. “How did you know where to find them?”
“We didn’t.” Healer Axecure told him. “But horcruxes are a repugnant form of magic that we will not allow in our territory. Our King has commissioned teams to destroy them.”
“So you’ve gotten half of them, then?” Harry asked. “If you include me?”
“We have.” Healer Axecure nodded.
“Can we help?” Sirius asked.
“You have already helped, Lord Black.” Healer Axecure told him. “The second horcrux was found in your home.”
Sirius started in horror. “What?”
“I believe that it was discovered when one of our ward-breaking teams were commissioned to move a portrait in your home.” Healer Axecure told him, not sounding even slightly apologetic.
Sirius looked shaken, something that Harry could understand. What had the horcrux been doing at 12 Grimmauld Place?
“So can you get it out today?” Harry asked.
“That is what we summoned you for.” Healer Axecure stood. “Follow me.”
It was a relieved and shaky Harry that left Gringotts several hours later, and Sirius wasn’t much better. Removing the horcrux had hurt in ways Harry hadn’t thought was possible, and the pain had just seemed to go on for hours. But, eventually, the pain had stopped and the Healers had informed him that the horcrux was dead and gone.
Harry thought that it made the pain completely worth it.
He didn’t actually feel any different, well except for feeling weak and achy from all the pain, but it was wonderful to know that his scar was completely normal now. The scar even looked less bold and Healer Axecure had promised that it would become even fainter over time.
Once they got home, Sirius and Harry told Remus everything that had happened. Remus had been just as horrified as they had been, obviously, and his eyes had actually started to glow slightly which was weird.
Then they discussed what to do with the information. Sirius and Remus considered telling Dumbledore, but neither of them particularly wanted to. They were going to tell Lord Malfoy though, maybe as a spy he would have some ideas on where other horcruxes were.
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
When Harry had first received the invitation to Pansy Parkinson’s Pool Party, he hadn’t been particularly interested in attending. He’d been expecting the invite, Draco had told him to expect a lot of them since everyone knew he wasn’t living with the Dursleys anymore, but of all the Slytherins, Pansy was his least favourite. Not only that, but he couldn’t swim.
He’d explained his reasons to Sirius who had immediately added swimming lessons to Harry’s timetable, and to Draco, who had promised him that he could just sit and watch (or stay down the shallow end) before begging Harry not to abandon him – though Draco would deny that, of course.
So Harry had agreed and accompanied Draco to the tailors to get a swimsuit (which reminded Harry a lot of pictures they had been shown at elementary school about people swimming in the 1800s).
Still, as Harry stepped out of the Parkinson’s floo, he couldn’t help but feel nervous about the whole idea.
“Merry meet, Harry.” Pansy curtsied in welcome.
“Merry meet.” Harry nodded abruptly as he moved away from the fireplace.
“You are the first to arrive.” Pansy told him with a simpering smile.
Harry grimaced inwardly. “I see.”
“How has your summer been so far?” Pansy asked, stepping closer to him.
Harry watched her in confusion. “It has been excellent thank you. How about yours?”
“Oh great.” Pansy placed a hand on his arm and looked up at him. “My summer has been wonderful! Mother took me to France last week, have you ever been to France? It’s just wonderful. We should go together sometime.”
Harry watched in horror as she fluttered her eyelashes at him, and quickly extracted his arm. “No, I haven’t been to France, but Sirius has mentioned that he may take me next month.”
“Oh, how lovely.” Pansy stepped closer again, until her body was all but pressed against his side. “Maybe I should talk to mother and see if we might meet you there.”
Harry stepped away and sneered at her. “I don’t think so.”
Pansy pouted. “Oh, but Harry, we could have such a good time together.”
The floo chimed as Theo Nott stepped out of it.
“Merry meet, Theo.” Pansy greeted him with a small curtsy.
“Merry meet, Pansy.” Theo nodded, before turning to Harry and bowing deeply. “Merry meet, Heir Black.”
“Merry meet.” Harry agreed with a relieved smile, he had never been so glad to see Theo in his life. “How are you?”
“Great.” Theo grinned. “I’ve been staying with my brother Bartholomew. He’s much more fun that father. He took me to see the Bulgaria versus France game last week.”
“I read about that game.” Harry replied. “Bulgaria won, right?”
“Bulgaria whipped them!” Theo exclaimed. “Which isn’t surprising really, given that they’re one of the top teams in the world and France pretty much sucks.”
Pansy stepped forward, until she was standing close to Harry again. “I was just telling Harry that I went to France last week.”
“That sounds nice.” Theo told her, while glancing from her to Harry with a questioning look.
“It was!” Pansy agreed. “Harry and I are going to go together one day.”
“No, we’re not.” Harry denied firmly, trying to ignore the way Theo was staring at them.
Pansy pouted coyly and put her hand on Harry’s arm again. “Don’t be unkind, Harry.”
Harry stepped back, there was no way he was going to put up with her acting like this all year like Draco had. “I am not being unkind, Miss Parkinson. You are being overly forward. Now pull yourself together before I take my leave.”
Pansy’s eyes widened. “What?”
“I have not given you leave to treat me so informally.” Harry told her sternly. “I will not allow you behave so improperly in my presence. Now, either behave appropriately or I will return home.”
“But, Harry…” Pansy started, her eyes growing wet.
“No.” Harry denied her. “I have watch you behave in a disgustingly forward fashion towards Draco for two years, I will not be your next victim.”
The floo chimed again and Pansy’s eyes darted towards it with obvious relief before pasting a smile on her face and curtsying. “Merry meet, Daphne.”
“Merry meet, Pansy.” Daphne nodded, before curtseying to Harry. “Merry meet, Harry.”
“Merry meet.” Harry acknowledged somewhat briskly.
“Merry meet.” Theo added with a smile. “Pansy, is there somewhere else we can wait?”
“Of course.” Pansy nodded. “You can go sit around the pool, I’ll wait here to greet the others.”
“I’ll stay with you.” Daphne told her with a smile. “Astoria will be arriving any minute.”
Harry followed Theo through the house since the other boy had been there before. The house was clearly very big – bigger than Grimmauld place, though not as large as Malfoy Manor – but it seemed to have been decorated rather garishly. Everything seemed to be there to show how rich, and well connected, the Parkinsons were, and much of it clashed.
“I swear, Harry,” Theo started as he pushed open a door and held it for Harry. “You get more and more like Lord Malfoy every time I see you.”
Harry smirked, as he looked around. There was a large pool in the middle of a paved area, as well as a lot of lounging chairs arranged around it.
“Well, I wasn’t going to let her get away with it like Draco did. She made his life miserable last year.”
“I know.” Theo fell onto one of the chairs. “It was hilarious to watch.”
“I thought so too,” Harry admitted, lowering himself onto one of the chairs beside Theo’s one. It was really comfortable. “Though, it’s a lot less funny now that she’s moved her attention to me.”
“It makes more sense for her to be chasing you.” Theo pointed out. “Draco’s betrothed to Astoria.”
“Does everyone know that?” Harry asked, raising a hand to block out the sun. He wished wizards used sunglasses.
“Of course.” Theo told him. “Just like everyone knows that I’m betrothed to Nastasja Lestrange.”
“Lestrange?” Harry asked curiously. The only Lestranges he knew of were the three in Azkaban.
“Her father was Lord Lestrange’s uncle.” Theo explained.
“Was?” Harry questioned.
“He died a few years ago.” Theo answered. “Hunting accident.”
“Merry meet, Harry, Theo.” Draco’s cheerful voice interrupted their conversation.
“Merry meet.” Harry greeted him.
Draco laid himself out on the lounging chair beside Harry. “What were you talking about?”
“Nastasja.” Theo told him. “Harry didn’t know I was betrothed.”
“We’re all betrothed.” Draco said. “Well, other than Harry, Daphne and Pansy of course.”
“Why isn’t Pansy betrothed?” Harry asked curiously.
Draco looked amused. “I don’t know. Probably because her parents didn’t think any of the offers were good enough for her.”
“That seems silly.” Harry pointed out. “Won’t she have to settle for someone even worse now that everybody else is betrothed?”
“You’re not.” Theo reminded him with a laugh.
Harry scowled. “Yeah, well, there’s no way I’m settling for her.”
“At least she seems to be over me.” Draco said in audible relief. “She barely looked at me twice when I arrived.”
Theo laughed again. “That’s because she’s moved on to Harry.”
“Really?” Draco smirked. “Serves you right for laughing at me last year.”
“You should have seen him put her in her place.” Theo told him. “It was a beautiful thing.”
“What did he say?” Draco asked, apparently forgetting that Harry was right there.
“He accused her of behaving inappropriately towards him and told her to pull herself together or he would leave.” Theo told him gleefully. “Then, when she tried to protest, he said had seen her be ‘disgustingly forward’ with you and that he refused to be her next victim.”
“Ouch.” Draco grinned. “Then what happened.”
“Daphne arrived.” Theo said disappointedly.
“You two are such gossips.” Daphne said as she arrived, her younger sister beside her.
Theo laughed. “Like you’re one to talk, Daphne.”
Harry raised a hand to shade his eyes again so that he could see Daphne and Astoria.
“Merry meet, Heir Black, Draco.” Astoria curtsied prettily.
“Merry meet.” Harry nodded in acknowledgement.
Draco stood up and kissed the back of Astoria’s hand. “Merry meet.”
Harry watched in amusement. Part of their lessons with Cousin Narcissa so far had involved how to court witches. It was more relevant to Draco than to Harry, since Draco already had someone that he needed to court, but Harry knew that he’d have to start courting a girl sooner rather than later.
“Would you like a chair, Astoria?” Draco offered politely as he released her hand.
“Yes, please, Draco.” Astoria blushed.
Draco moved to pull one of the nearby chair over to where they were sitting. Harry watched for a few seconds, before standing up and moving to pull a second chair over for Daphne.
Once the chairs were arranged, both facing Harry, Draco, and Theo’s chairs, Daphne and Astoria gracefully lowered themselves onto them.
“Thank you, Draco.” Astoria said with a shy smile.
“Yes, thank you, Harry.” Daphne agreed, her smile much more confident than her sister’s. “I hope you are taking notes, Theo.”
Theo grimaced. “Nastasja is only ten, Daphne. It will be a long while before I need to start wooing her.”
Harry flushed and barely managed to stop himself from stammering out a denial that ‘he hadn’t been trying to woo Daphne’. It wasn’t as though the idea of courting Daphne hadn’t crossed his mind. She was very pretty and, most importantly, wasn’t already betrothed to someone else.
“Are you enjoying living with Lord Black, Harry?” Theo asked after Draco and Harry had retaken their seats.
“Definitely.” Harry grinned. “He’s brilliant and Remus is great too.”
“Who is Remus?” Daphne questioned.
“He was one of Sirius and my dad’s school friends.” Harry explained. “He’s living with us.”
“Another Gryffindor then?” Theo grinned. “You’re outnumbered, Harry.”
Harry laughed. “Yes, it’s not too bad though. Sirius is Gryffindor through and through, but half the time Remus seems to be more of a Ravenclaw than anything. He’s particularly knowledgeable about Magical Creatures.”
“Is he traditional?” Daphne asked curiously.
“No,” Harry sighed. “But he’s not anti-traditional either. We run together every morning and he’s been asking me a lot of questions about traditionalism.”
“It’s summer!” Theo protested. “Why would you want to spend your holiday running?”
“I like running.” Harry reminded him.
Draco groaned dramatically. “You’re mad! Our holiday has been corrupted enough as it is without adding running on.”
“Corrupted?” Astoria asked quietly.
“Mother has us studying almost as much as we do at school.” Draco complained.
Harry snorted. “Don’t be melodramatic, Draco. We only study two out of every three days.”
“I’m with Draco,” Theo commented. “That sounds awful. Holidays are for resting and having fun.”
“Holidays give you the opportunity learn things you don’t have time to learn at school.” Harry countered. “I’m learning Gobbledegook.”
Theo, Daphne and Astoria all stared at him. “Why?”
“Because Goblins are integral to all finance and business dealings.” Harry pointed out. “Cousin Narcissa has been teaching me French because one day I’ll have business dealings in France, so I thought I should learn Gobbledegook too.”
“That sounds logical.” Daphne agreed. “Can you say something in Gobbledegook?”
“Sure.” Harry grinned, before reciting one of the Gobbledegook greetings he had learnt.
Draco rolled his eyes. “It sounds weird.”
“I think it’s impressive.” Daphne told Harry. “Does it hurt your throat?”
“Yes.” Harry grimaced. “I always have a sore throat after my lessons. My tutor says I’ll get used to it though.”
“So what else are you learning?” Daphne asked curiously.
“Father and Lord Black are taking us to the Wizengamot meeting next week.” Draco started. “So we’ve been learning about how that works.”
“And Cousin Narcissa has been teaching us how to manage our Houses’ Business Portfolios.” Harry added.
“And we have Quidditch lessons.” Draco boasted. “Avery Hawksworth and Aiden Kiely are coaching us.”
“I wouldn’t mind those lessons!” Theo grinned. “The other stuff sounds horrible though. I’m glad I don’t have to start learning it until next year.”
Harry tilted his head to the side. “Isn’t your brother the heir though?”
“He is,” Theo agreed. “But Nastasja is the only Lestrange alive who isn’t in Azkaban, so when I marry her I will become the Lord Regent of the House of Lestrange. I’m not looking forward to it. It’s been bad enough watching Bartholomew learn it all.”
“How is he?” Daphne asked with interest. “Is he looking forward to the wedding?”
Theo grimaced. “I guess. Mostly he just seems to agree with everything Drusilla says. It makes me glad that Nastasja is so young. I won’t have to marry her for another seven years.”
Harry looked over at Draco and wondered what he thought about the fact that he would be getting married in five years. Harry couldn’t imagine getting married at all and, not for the first time, silently thanked his parents for not having signed a betrothal contract for him.
Sirius couldn’t help but be nervous as he stepped out of the Ministry floo in his formal Wizengamot robes. The last time he had attended a Wizengamot session it had been to fight Dumbledore for custody of Harry, the time before that had been to prove his innocence, and the time before that had been as a teenager accompanying Lord Potter.
He paused beside the floo and waited for Harry to come through, proudly watching as his godson stepped out of the floo without the slightest stumble. Flooing could be a difficult skill to learn and it was rare to see anyone managing it with same poise that Harry did.
They made their way to the Wizengamot Hall in silence and Sirius tried not to let the fact that he wasn’t wearing anything under his robes (since he had decided, in a fit of insanity, to wear the robes traditionally) make him feel too self-conscious. After all, everyone else would be naked under their robes too.
The Wizengamot Hall was bustling when they walked in and Sirius quickly led Harry through the Hall and then up the stairs to the top most row.
There were twenty seats along the back row, two for each Most Ancient and Noble House – one for the Lord and one for his Heir. The Lords’ Chairs were much more elaborate than any other chair in the room, while the heir chairs, which sat to their left, were much like the chairs representing the Ancient and Noble Houses. Above each of the Lords’ Chairs hung that House’s Shield, the animals on which were enchanted to be animated. It was amazing to think that he was now going to sit in the Black Lord Chair, and surprising to discover how much he actually cared.
Since there were only five Most Ancient and Noble Houses that were currently extant, one of which being the House of Potter, the majority of the chairs were empty, but Sirius recognised five of the six people sitting in the row. Lucius and Draco were obvious, as was Snape who was sitting in the Prince Heir Chair, Snape’s Grandfather, Lord Septimius Prince, was also there. He had been friends with Sirius’ father and was, to Sirius’ recollection, a piece of work. Lord Tiberius Odgen was there too, he had been a contemporary of Sirius’ grandfather and looked even older than Dumbledore. Tiberius’ heir was unfamiliar to Sirius, probably because he looked to be in his mid-twenties. Sirius wondered what had happened to the generations between the two men.
Sirius sat regally in the Black Lord Seat, nodding in acknowledgement as all six of them bowed to him and then watched as Harry bowed to the three lords before taking his own seat.
It was hard to see the Potter Seat empty. It was stark reminder of the loss of his friend. James should have been sitting there, with Harry to his left. Sirius wondered whether the empty chair was a kick to the stomach for Harry as well.
“We’re so far up.” Harry murmured quietly.
Sirius nodded in agreement. “Do you remember what the different rows are for?”
“The row below us is for the Ancient and Noble Lords,” Harry started. “Then the next row is for Order of Merlin recipients, then comes the row for the elected members, and the bottom row is for the Ministry officials.”
“Exactly.” Sirius agreed. “How many elected members are there?”
“Ten, not including the Youth Representative.” Harry answered. “There are currently fifteen Order of Merlin seats filled. Which is more than usual, because of the war. And there are nine different ministry officials who are allowed a vote, the Minister of Magic and the Heads of eight of the Ministry Departments.”
“Which departments?” Sirius asked.
“Department of Magical Law Enforcement,” Harry started. “Department of Mysteries, Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes, Department of the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, Department of International Magical Cooperation, Department of Magical Transportation, Department of Magical Games and Sports, and the Department of Magical Education.”
“And who are the non-voting members?” Sirius prompted.
“The Senior Undersecretary, an assistant whose job it is to record everything that happens, and any ambassadors who might wish to attend.” Harry answered.
Sirius nodded. “And the role of the Chief Warlock?”
“He presides over the Wizengamot.” Harry’s eyes moved towards where Dumbledore was sitting in the Chief Warlock’s seat. “He’s supposed to be impartial and if any of the lords think that he isn’t being impartial they can protest.”
Sirius thought that Harry’s answer said an awful lot about his opinion of Dumbledore. Clearly his godson had some trust issues when it came to his Headmaster which, to be fair, Sirius could completely relate to. He hadn’t believed Narcissa at first when she had pointed out that Dumbledore had left him to rot in Azkaban, but the more he had thought about it the more it had made sense. Dumbledore might not have been able to free him, but he could have at least called for a trial.
The large clock on the wall opposite them suddenly chimed, announcing that it was ten o’clock, and the room quietened down.
Dumbledore stood from his seat, which sat directly across from the other seats, and called for their attention. “Greetings, and welcome to the six thousand and twenty second Wizengamot meeting.”
As Sirius listened to his old headmaster’s speech of introduction he couldn’t help but feel slightly miffed about Dumbledore’s complete disregard for any sort of traditionalism. It felt wrong almost, that Dumbledore should be presiding over one of the oldest, and most traditional, institutions in Magical Britain and be completely ignoring all tradition.
Which wasn’t to say that Dumbledore ought to be following all the traditions, he quickly reassured himself. After all, traditionalism was outdated and elitist, but still would it have hurt Dumbledore to have at least started with a ‘merry meet’? Sirius was surprised that the traditional faction hadn’t ousted Dumbledore from the position years ago.
“Before we get started,” Dumbledore continued. “I would like to welcome Sirius Black to our number. Sirius will be filling the Black Seat.”
The response was immediate. Every single lord, and heir, in the room, along with a third of the other members, stood and bowed to Sirius.
Sirius nodded in acknowledgement and tried not to enjoy Dumbledore’s sour expression too much. If the old bastard had wanted a non-traditional ally he shouldn’t have left Sirius to rot in jail, let alone left Harry with abusive relatives and then tried to deny Sirius custody.
The first hour of the Wizengamot was as boring as hell as somehow they managed to spend the entire time arguing about the thickness of cauldron bottoms. Still, Sirius was interested to note that the two people he knew actually used cauldrons reguarly, Snape and Lord Odgen, were both arguing for the same thickness. Sirius still hated Snape, he thought, probably, (either that or he felt terribly guilty and hated himself for having bullied the other man so badly), but he figured that the Potions Master probably knew more about what made a good cauldron than most other people in the room. So, when it came time to vote, he voted for the same thickness that Snape had been arguing for. Harry chose the same option for the Potter votes, though Sirius actually cast the votes of course – Harry wouldn’t be able to do that until he was fifteen.
The next order of business was introduced by a short pudgy woman in pink who was apparently the Senior Undersecretary, Madame Umbridge. There was something grating about the woman’s voice, like fingernails on a blackboard, and Sirius was tempted to cast a spell that would muffle her voice.
“…werewolves!” Umbridge finished.
Sirius stiffened and turned his attention towards her. What had she said?
“Of course,” She continued sweetly. “We are all aware of the great risk the existence of half-breeds bring to our society. They are a risk, not only to ourselves, but also to our children and grandchildren…”
Sirius stiffened angrily. Remus wasn’t a risk to society and he certainly wasn’t a ‘half-breed’. He glanced towards Dumbledore, expecting the Chief Warlock to be as horrified as he was, only to find that the older wizard was watching the proceedings calmly.
Umbridge went on, and on, and on, and each new sentence brought new insults and seemingly unfounded claims of how werewolves were a danger to their society.
Ten minutes into her speech, Sirius was so angry he was shaking. He lit the tip of his wand a raised it in the air, before waiting for Dumbledore to call on him.
It took a few minutes, but eventually, Dumbledore called Umbridge’s tirade to a halt and called on Sirius.
Sirius stood to his feet. “Madame Umbridge, we can all see that you feel strongly about this subject, but I’m afraid I have yet to hear any form of proof of your claims regarding the dangerous nature of werewolves.”
Umbridge looked vaguely startled. “Proof, Mr. Black?”
Sirius straightened his shoulders. “It’s Lord Black, Madame Umbridge. Lord Black of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black, I believe that I have the right to expect the appropriate address while in this court?
Umbridge gave a small giggle. “Of course, Lord Black, my apologies.”
Sirius nodded abruptly. “As I was saying, Madame, while you have certainly expressed your own opinion on the matter, you have yet to introduce any actual evidence for your claims.”
“I hardly see any need for evidence, Lord Black.” Umbridge’s voice was syrupy. “The fact that werewolves are a danger to our society is just that – fact. It is hardly necessary to bring in experts to speak on a subject that we are all familiar with.”
“You may not see any need for evidence, Madame, but I do.” Sirius told her icily, before looking around the room. “Is it usually the custom of this body to vote on laws based entirely on one person’s vitriol?”
Umbridge cleared her throat. “If I may, Lord Black, perhaps you are simply unware of the risks that werewolves bring because of your recent stay in Azkaban.”
Sirius raised an eyebrow. “I am unsure as to what relevance my unlawful imprisonment has to this matter, Madame Umbridge.”
Umbridge let out another giggle. “Simply that extended exposure to Dementors has been known to cause mental deterioration and memory loss.”
Sirius snorted disparagingly. “I thank you for your concern, Madame, but I am perfectly well. In fact, it is interesting that you should speak of my memories. I remember many lessons that I learnt at my father’s knee about the place of werewolves in our society and not one of them involved them being ‘dangerous’ or ‘halfbreeds’.”
“I hardly think your father has any relevance to this conversation, Sirius.” Dumbledore put in.
Sirius almost snarled. “I beg to differ, Chief Warlock, my father, the former Lord of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black, spent many years apprenticing under Newton Artemis Fido Scamander, the author of ‘Fantastical Beasts and Where to Find Them’. In fact, if you read Scamander’s book, a book I would like you remind you, Headmaster, is used as a textbook for the Care of Magical Creatures class at Hogwarts, his opinion on the subject of werewolves is that they are like any other magical being: some are gentle, some are violent, but all are individuals worthy of respect.”
One of the wizards in the row containing Ministry Officials raised his wand.
“Mr. Fancourt.” Dumbledore acknowledged.
Sirius took his seat. He recognised that name, Fancourt was the Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.
“Lord Black,” Fancourt stood and turned so he was facing Sirius. “I do not argue your point on the content of Scamander’s book, however, I would like to remind you that Newton Scamander was the wizard responsible for introducing the Werewolf Registration Act in 1947. Surely this shows that Scamander believed that werewolves were dangerous enough to be kept track of.”
Sirius stood, not waiting for Dumbledore to acknowledge him. “If werewolves were the only being in Britain who the Ministry kept a record of, this could certainly be argued to be the case. But are you claiming, Mr. Fancourt, that the Wizard Registration Act of 1812 was created for similar reasons?”
Fancourt frowned. “Not at all, Lord Black. I concede your point.”
Sirius nodded in satisfaction, before turning his attention to Dumbledore. “Chief Warlock, I move that this discussion be tabled until such time as an expert on the subject may be brought to share the facts. Perhaps, Mr. Scamander might be convinced to share his expert opinion with us.”
Umbridge shot to her feet. “I hardly think that is necessary.”
Lord Odgen stood slowly and Sirius was half surprised that he couldn’t hear the old man’s joints creaking from where he sat. “I second that motion.”
“As do I.” Fancourt stood as well.
“Very well,” Dumbledore nodded slowly. “The motion is accepted. All in favour?”
Sirius tapped his wand on his right armrest, before reaching over Harry to tap the Potter one as well.
“Very well,” Dumbledore sounded strangely reluctant. “The motion is carried. Sirius, would you be willing to issue Mr. Scamander an invitation to our next meeting?”
Sirius gritted his teeth, irrationally irritated by Dumbledore’s lack of traditionalism. “Of course.”
About a week before his birthday, Sirius asked Harry what he wanted to do for it. Harry stared uncomprehendingly at his godfather, before excusing himself to his room. Despite having spent a month and half with Sirius, there was something about knowing that he wouldn’t have to spend his birthday being bullied by his relatives that helped everything sink in. He would never again have to live with the Dursleys! Never again would he need to fear his uncle’s belt, his aunt’s frying pan, or Dudley’s fists.
Harry’s thirteenth birthday was on one of his and Draco’s prearranged days off from tutoring. Harry was glad of that fact since it meant he didn’t have to choose between celebrating his birthday and learning new things; Draco was less impressed since it didn’t give him an excuse to skip tutoring. It took Harry a few hours to decide what he wanted to do, and then another hour trying to choose between the different ideas before eventually deciding that he would just try and fit everything in.
Which was why, after Sirius, Remus, and Harry had eaten a special breakfast, they flooed to Malfoy Manor where they were meeting Draco, Cousin Narcissa, and Luna to go and see Star Wars: Episode Four – ‘A New Hope’.
Luna was already there when they arrived and she greeted them with a polite curtsey, before throwing her arms around Harry and hugging him.
“Happy birthday, Harry!” She murmured into his muggle jumper and Harry winced when he considered how awkward he must look. In all honesty, this was the second hug he could ever remember receiving (the first also having been from Luna) and he had no idea what he was doing.
“Merry meet, Luna.” Harry told her, awkwardly placing his hands on her back.
“At least I’m not the only one she attacks.” Draco grumbled. “It’s uncivilised!”
“Hugs aren’t uncivilised!” Luna protested, finally releasing Harry and stepping away. “They create Heilopes and Heilopes are very important!”
Harry grinned fondly at his friend, ignoring, for now at least, the questioning looks that Sirius and Remus were giving him. “Are we ready to go?”
“We are.” Luna smiled back. “Daddy even said I could stay with Draco for the night.”
“Not with me!” Draco protested quickly. “With our family, in a spare bedroom.”
“Of course.” Luna gave him a quizzical look. “That’s what I said.”
“Luna, is it alright with you if you side-along apparate with Remus?” Harry asked. “He’s really nice.”
Luna turned her wide eyes towards Remus and stared silently for a few seconds. “He’s a lupin.”
Harry’s forehead wrinkled in his confusion. “Yes, that’s his surname.”
“He’s a lupin who’s name is Lupin.” Luna giggled.
Harry glanced towards Sirius and Remus, wondering what they were making of Luna, and was surprised to see that they both looked tense.
“So you’re alright apparating with Remus then?” Harry checked with Luna.
“Of course.” Luna nodded quickly. “Does he know where we are going?”
“Yes,” Harry assured her. “I took him and Sirius there last week to book the tickets.”
“Lovely.” Luna decided before skipping over to Remus and slipping her hand into his larger one. “Hello, Mr. Lupin-who-is-a-lupin.”
Remus looked taken aback. “Hello.”
“You can just call him Remus, Luna.” Harry told her.
“Oh, okay.” Luna smiled up at Remus.
“Merry meet, Sirius, Harry, Remus.” Cousin Narcissa greeted them as she entered the room.
“Merry meet.” Harry returned with Sirius and Remus as Cousin Narcissa stopped beside Draco and curtsied to Sirius.
“Are we ready to leave?” Cousin Narcissa asked.
“Of course.” Sirius grinned. “We were just waiting for you, Cissy.”
Cousin Narcissa’s expression tightened for a moment. “Excellent. Shall we?”
Harry stepped closer to Sirius, wrapping his arms around his godfather’s waist. Sirius wrapped an arm around him, before apparating them both to the small alley near the movie theatre that Cousin Narcissa had used in the past.
Harry held onto Sirius for a few seconds, until his head had stopped spinning, before stepping away just as the other four members of their party appeared in the alley.
Luna was giggling. “That’s so much fun.”
“Fun?” Draco frowned as he stepped away from his mother. “Sure, if you enjoy being squished through something very small.”
“Can we do it again?” Luna asked Remus.
Remus looked completely nonplussed. “Uh, well…”
“We’re going to see a movie, Luna.” Harry quickly rescued him. “We’ll apparate home again afterwards though.”
“Oh goody!” Luna’s eyes sparkled in excitement.
“This way.” Cousin Narcissa instructed them, beginning to walk towards the alley’s exit. “We do not wish to be late.”
Harry began to follow her, but they had only just exited the alley when he realised that Sirius and Remus were lagging behind. He stopped, waving Draco and Luna to go ahead, and waited for the two wizards to catch up.
“Is everything alright?” He asked Remus in concern “Sorry about Luna, she can be rather intense.”
Sirius raised an eyebrow. “That’s one word for it, pup.”
“She’s a Conspicuum Seer.” Harry explained as they began trailing after the others.
“Seriously?” Sirius asked incredulously.
“Yes.” Harry nodded firmly. “So she comes across a bit…”
“Bonkers?” Sirius offered.
“I guess.” Harry agreed. “You get used to it after a while.”
“What’s a Conspicuum Seer?” Remus asked Sirius curiously.
Sirius looked to Harry. “Harry would probably explain it better than I would.”
“She’s a seer, but she doesn’t see the future,” Harry explained. “She sees things as they really are – no pretences.”
“And you didn’t think to warn us?” Sirius asked, sounding a tad exasperated.
“Sorry,” Harry told him. “As I said, you just get used to it. I forgot that it would be weird for you.”
“It’s fine.” Remus assured him kindly, as he held the door of the theatre open for them. “She seems lovely.”
“There you are.” Draco greeted them. “Are we going in?”
Harry looked around for the concessions stand. “Don’t we want popcorn?”
“The movie starts in five minutes.” Draco told him. “What if we miss some of it?”
“You’ve seen it before.” Harry reminded him.
“Yes, but Luna hasn’t.” Draco pointed out.
“Tell you what,” Sirius started. “How about you guys go in and get us seats and Remus and I will buy us all some popcorn.”
Harry shot his godfather a grateful look. “Thanks, Sirius.”
“No problem, kiddo.” Sirius grinned.
Harry and Draco led Luna into the theatre, with Cousin Narcissa accompanying them, and then towards the clump of empty seats in the middle.
“That’s the screen.” Draco pointed out to Luna as they sat down. “The movie will appear on that.”
Luna grinned widely. “I’m so excited.”
“You should be.” Draco agreed. “It’s going to be smashing!”
The movie was just as good as it had been the first time Harry, Draco, and Cousin Narcissa had seen it, and it was fun watching Luna, Sirius, and Remus experience it for the first time. Especially Luna who had never seen a muggle movie before.
After the movie they went out for lunch and Harry thoroughly enjoyed watching the five most important people in his life getting along. Sirius and Remus seemed to take Luna’s oddities in their stride, well aside from when Luna called Remus a ‘lupin’ – then they would both look worried. It was confusing for Harry who wondered what exactly Luna had recognised about Remus that worried them.
Cousin Narcissa’s reaction had only added fuel to Harry’s curiosity. The first time she had heard Luna refer to Remus as ‘lupin’, she had tilted her head to side curiously; but the second time her eyes had widened and she had looked utterly shocked for a moment before expression evened out. Harry was definitely going to research the word ‘lupin’.
After lunch, they apparated back to Malfoy Manor to finish setting up for Harry’s birthday party. It had been Draco’s suggestion to hold the party at the Manor since it had both a Swimming Pool and a Quidditch Pitch. The only negative side of having the party there was that it meant that he couldn’t invite Neville, but Harry had spent the previous evening with Neville celebrating the other boy’s birthday and Neville had assured him that he understood. Harry suspected that Neville was more relieved than anything, he doubted his friend would have been interested in attending a party filled with the Slytherins anyway.
The guests weren’t due to arrive for another hour, so Cousin Narcissa suggested that Harry open some presents in the parlour while they waited.
“You should open my one first.” Draco declared firmly as Cousin Narcissa arranged for one of the house elves to bring the presents.
“Alright.” Harry agreed easily as he sat down in one of the armchairs.
“Then mine!” Luna added quickly.
“Sure.” Harry smiled.
A large pile of presents appeared on the small table, prompting Draco to stand up and pass Harry a medium sized box wrapped in metallic silver paper and tied up with a green ribbon.
Harry eyed the box in amusement. “We know you’re in Slytherin, Draco, you don’t need remind us at every opportunity.”
“I happen to like silver and green.” Draco told him snootily.
“I can tell.” Harry smirked, before turning his attention back the parcel that was resting on his knees. He carefully untied the ribbon, before pulling the paper away from the box to reveal a polished wooden box with writing on top – Соколов куидич доставки.
“I have no idea what this says.” Harry admitted as he stared at the weird looking letters.
“That’s because you don’t read Bulgarian.” Draco told him smugly. “It says, ‘Sokolov Quidditch Supplies’.”
Harry stared at the box in new wonder – Sokolov Quidditch Supplies were the best in the world. He opened the box and then removed the topmost item – a pair of Dragonskin Quidditch gloves.
“These are amazing.” He told Draco. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” Draco still sounded smug. “I got myself a set too, of course. There are gloves, shin guards, arm guards, knee guards, and, because you’re the seeker, they are all made out of Australasian Opaleye Skin.”
Harry returned the gloves to the box, before shutting it and putting it down by his feet. “Thank you so much.”
“My turn!” Luna bounced up from where she was sitting beside Draco. She picked up a bright yellow box from the table and passed it to Harry, before bending down and hugging him briefly. “Happy birthday, Harry!”
“Thanks, Luna.” Harry said, thankful that the hug hadn’t lasted long enough to warrant a response from him. He unwrapped the box, before opening it and then staring in confusion at the necklace inside. It was silver, and the pendant was shaped like a triangle with a circle and a line inside it.
“Daddy couldn’t believe that you didn’t already have one.” Luna told him seriously. “Especially since you’re already a third of the way there. So he helped me buy it for you.”
“Thanks, Luna, it’s great.” Harry told her with a smile, feeling no less confused than he had before her explanation – a third of the way to what?
“Put it on.” Luna instructed him. “You should wear it under your robes all the time.”
Harry hid a grimace as he slipped the necklace over his head, at least Luna wasn’t insisting he wore it over his robes.
Sirius looked amused. “It looks great, pup. Very you.”
“Of course it is.” Luna agreed. “That’s why I bought it for him.
Cousin Narcissa drew her wand and then used it to levitate a small present over to Harry. “This is from Lucius and I, Harry.”
“Thank you.” Harry told her gratefully, before carefully opening the present to reveal an ornate silver pocket watch with the coat of arms of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black engraved on it. He picked up the watch and looked it over, taking in the coat of arms of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Potter that was engraved on the back of the watch.
“Traditionally your parents would have given you a pocket watch two years before you came of age.” Cousin Narcissa told him. “However, as your parents are not able to do so, Sirius gave us permission to fill in for them.”
Harry blinked the moisture that had gathered in his eyes. “It’s brilliant, thank you!”
“You are most welcome.” Cousin Narcissa told him with a smile.
Harry couldn’t believe that Sirius had agreed to let the Malfoy’s give him the pocket watch. Admittedly, they had been the most important adults in his life before he started living with Sirius, but for Sirius to let them fill in for his parents – that was amazing.
Harry looked towards Sirius and was relieved to see that his godfather was smiling, albeit sadly.
“Me next, I think.” Remus said after a long pause. “Though mine isn’t anything that you can unwrap.”
Harry slipped the pocket watch into his robe pocket as he turned his attention towards the older man.
Remus looked nervous. “It’s more of a promise than anything. I’m promising you one tutoring session each week for the school year. Sirius thought you might be interested in learning how to duel.”
Harry wrinkled his forehead in confusion. “How…”
“Remus is your new DADA professor.” Sirius interrupted with sudden exuberance.
Harry’s eyes widened. “Really? That’s great!”
Remus shrugged uncomfortably.
“And you’re going to teach me to duel?” Harry asked, suddenly remembering Remus’ promise. “That’s amazing. Thank you!”
Remus smiled gently. “You’re welcome. It was Sirius’ idea. I’m not as good a dueller as Professor Flitwick, but I can get you started on the basics.”
“Now me!” Sirius said, standing up. He picked up the final present from the table and handed it to the Harry, before leaning down and pulling him into a hug.
Harry froze at the unexpected action, before awkwardly attempting to place a hand on Sirius’ back as he did when Luna hugged him.
“Happy birthday, pup.” Sirius told him, his voice filled with emotion. “Your parents would be so proud of you.”
“Thanks, Sirius.” Harry responded with equal emotion.
Sirius cleared his throat as he released Harry and then returned to his seat beside Remus.
Harry unwrapped the present that Sirius had given him and found himself staring into a mirror.
“It’s a communication mirror.” Sirius told him. “It was your dad’s. I have the matching one, so can contact me whenever you need to when you’re at Hogwarts.”
Harry studied the mirror in front of him. He’d read about communication mirrors, they were very rare. “Thanks, Sirius.”
“You’re welcome, pup.” Sirius smiled. “Now, I actually have two more presents for you, neither of which are wrapped.”
Harry carefully placed the mirror on top of the box of Quidditch gear at his feet, before giving Sirius his full attention.
“First,” Sirius started. “Tomorrow we are leaving for a week long holiday.”
Harry’s eyes widened. “But what about my studying?”
“A break will do you good.” Sirius told him. “You won’t be missing anything, Cissy is giving Draco a week off as well. Besides, you can still read as many books as you like and we’ll spend most of our time in France and Germany so you’ll be able to practise those languages you’ve been learning.”
Draco chortled. “You probably shouldn’t tell Pansy that you’re going to France, Harry. Who knows what she will do.”
Harry grimaced at the thought. “It’s not funny.”
“You thought it was funny when it was happening to me.” Draco pointed out.
“What’s this about?” Sirius asked.
“Pansy Parkinson has decided to try and court Harry.” Draco explained with a smirk. “Every time she sees him she tried to flirt with him.”
Sirius turned to Harry with a frown. “Harry?”
“It’s alright though.” Draco added quickly. “Harry’s just channels my father and puts her in her place.”
“It doesn’t stop her from trying again though.” Harry grimaced.
“You should have told me, Harry.” Sirius said seriously. “I can write to Perseus and request that his daughter stop.”
Harry studied his godfather, he was always surprised when Sirius offered to do something traditional. It was such a contrast to the anti-traditionalism rants that Sirius had included in his letters in the past.
“Unless you like her.” Sirius added with a smirk. “In which case I could always write and ask about a betrothal contract.”
Harry blanched in horror. “No way! Not in a million years.”
Draco and Luna both started laughing.
“So would you like me to write to Perseus?” Sirius asked with an amused grin.
“Yes, please.” Harry decided, anything to get Pansy off his back.
“You really ought to start considering a betrothal contract with somebody though, Harry.” Draco put in with a smirk.
“Draconus!” Cousin Narcissa reprimanded him.
“Sorry, mother.” Draco allowed, though he was still smirking.
“Back to the presents.” Sirius decided, his eyes twinkling. “Secondly, is a promise to buy you a Firebolt when they are released on the sixteenth of August. I have already placed the order.”
“A Firebolt?” Harry repeated in excitement. “They’re supposed to be incredible!”
“That’s what I’ve heard.” Sirius agreed. “And since you’ve all but promised the Weasley twins that they can keep your Nimbus 2001s, I figured you needed a new broom.”
“Thanks, Sirius.” Harry beamed. “I can’t wait to try it.”
“You gave the Weasleys’ your brooms?” Draco protested. “But they were already better than all the other beaters at Hogwarts, now they’ll be unbeatable.”
Sirius chuckled. “Nice pun.”
Draco’s forehead crinkled before his eyes widened in understanding. “Completely unintended.”
“Harry, your guests will be arriving in fifteen minutes.” Cousin Narcissa announced. “Are you ready?”
“I should put these somewhere.” Harry gestured at the presents on the floor in front of him.
“If you put the mirror in the box, then we can put it somewhere safe until we leave.” Sirius suggested. “You’re wearing the other two presents.”
Harry pulled his new pocket watch out and opened it, admiring the ornate decorations. He watched as the second hand ticked along, until it was twelve to three, before closing the watch and returning it to his pocket.
“I should probably get changed.”
Draco grimaced. “Oh, I completely forgot.”
“Be quick.” Cousin Narcissa frowned disapprovingly.
“Yes, Cousin Narcissa.” Harry assured her, looking down at his presents.
“I’ll do it, pup.” Sirius told him. “You kids go get ready.”
Pansy was the first of Harry’s party guests to arrive and, despite Draco and Luna’s presence, she greeted Harry with far too much familiarity – obviously the many snubs Harry had given her hadn’t discouraged her in the least. Thankfully, Sirius joined them in the Malfoys’ Floo Room within a minute of Pansy’s arrival – Pansy might have been brazen, but at least she had enough good sense not to act inappropriately around Harry’s godfather.
It didn’t take too long for the rest of the guests to arrive and then Harry and Draco led them out to the pool area so that they could swim. The Malfoy’s pool was great and, most importantly for Harry, was shallow enough for him to stand. Harry’s swimming lessons were going well, but he still preferred to be able to touch the ground.
They swam for at least an hour, before drying off and making themselves comfortable on the deck chairs that were near the pool. Draco took the opportunity to call for afternoon tea and, within a minute, they were all happily sipping butterbeer and eating pastries.
“So, Harry,” Theo started. “What have you received for your birthday so far?”
“Lots of things.” Harry grinned. “Remus has promised to teach me to duel, Lord Malfoy and Cousin Narcissa gave a pocket watch, Sirius is going to buy me a Firebolt as well as taking me on holiday next week.”
“Where are you going?” Daphne asked with interest.
“France and Germany mostly.” Harry answered. “French and German are two of the languages I’m learning at the moment, so it will give me the opportunity to practise them.”
“France is wonderful.” Pansy told him with a coy smile. “I’m sure that you remember that I went there last month. Maybe I could meet you there and show you around?”
Harry swallowed his grimace and tried to be as polite as possible. “No, thank you, Pansy. I think that Sirius would rather that it just be the two of us.”
“Very well,” Pansy looked disappointed. “Well, let me just say, you definitely shouldn’t go to the muggle beaches. The muggles prance around practically naked – it’s so uncivilized! Father says that it’s just further proof that they are filthy barbarians.”
Harry raised an eyebrow challengingly. “I beg your pardon?” He could tell the exact moment when Pansy remembered that Harry didn’t like hearing people insulting muggles, her eyes widened and then she adopted a painfully fake apologetic expression.
“Oh, I am sorry, Harry.” Pansy simpered. “I didn’t mean…”
“Yes, you did.” Harry interrupted her flatly. “They are a different culture, Pansy, and we have no more right to judge them, than they have to judge us.”
Pansy’s apologetic expression wavered towards a scowl. “They’re just so uncouth. I don’t know how you stand them!”
“Look who’s talking.” Draco muttered quietly, so only Harry, and Theo were was sitting on his other side, could hear him.
Harry grinned inwardly, but kept his eyes focussed on Pansy. “They are different!”
There was no trace of Pansy’s apologetic expression remaining as she sneered at Harry. “Maybe you should go live with them if you like them so much? Isn’t that what blood traitors do?”
Harry narrowed his eyes icily. “I beg your pardon, Parkinson?”
Pansy eyes widened and her expression became apologetic again. “My apologies, Harry. I didn’t mean it. You know I didn’t.”
Harry sneered as she tried to bat her eyelashes at him. “If I were you, Parkinson, I would take my leave before I decide to respond to your insult.”
Pansy looked horrified. “You don’t mean that, Harry.”
“I do.” Harry assured her. “And you should tell your father to expect a missive for Lord Black.”
Pansy’s eyes filled with tears as she looked around at the rest of their friends, as though hoping someone would defend her, before she grabbed her bag and fled.
There was a heavy silence and Harry began to worry that he had offended his other friends, but then Theo began chuckling.
“Merlin, Harry, you the most terrifying teenager I have ever come across.”
“And he only became a teenager today.” Draco added.
“I wish someone had done that to her years ago.” Theo commented. “Maybe then she wouldn’t be so awful to spend time with.”
“We can only hope that she will learn from this experience.” Daphne agreed with a small nod.
There was another moment of silence, though this time it felt a lot lighter, before Theo spoke again. “And speaking of terrifying wizards, Harry, Draco, were you both at the last Wizengamot meeting? Father said that Lord Black spoke and that he was very impressive.”
“Yes,” Draco answered as Harry nodded. “It was smashing. There was this horrid witch who started ranting about how evil and terrible werewolves are, but then Lord Black stood up and put her in her place.”
“I heard about it as well.” Daphne said. “Thomas was very impressed.”
Luna nodded vaguely. “Of course. Humdingers are always very impressive.”
It was only a few minutes past midnight when Lucius was woken by a burning sensation from the Dark Mark on his forearm. His first response was, as always, to rub the mark as though he could soothe away the pain; his second response was to get out of bed as carefully as possible so as to not wake Narcissa.
“Lucius?” Narcissa’s sleepy voice murmured worriedly. “Is it him?”
“Yes,” Lucius admitted. “Go back to sleep.”
Narcissa’s hand reached for her wand before spelling all their lamps on, filling the room with light. “You know I don’t sleep well without you beside me. I’ll walk you to the Floo Room.”
Lucius knew better than to protest. Narcissa worried about his meetings with the Dark Lord more than he did. A sentiment that Lucius knew he would share if Narcissa was the one attending the meetings and he was forced to sit at home and wait.
He summoned the black robes that he always wore when the Dark Lord called for him, and quickly donned them. A few more spells tidied his hair and ensured that his breath would be fresh – Death Eater or not, he was still the Lord of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Malfoy and he refused to embarrass his House in anyway.
That done, he walked down to the Floo Room, the only room in the house exempt from the anti-apparation wards that spanned the grounds, kissed Narcissa farewell, and apparated away – allowing the Dark Mark to guide his destination.
When he opened his eyes again, he was in the Entrance Hall of the muggle manor that the Dark Lord had, for some unknown reason, made his home.
“Cutting it a bit close aren’t you, Lucius?” Julian Nott greeted him with a smirk from where he was lounging against one of the columns.
Lucius raised an eyebrow disdainfully, Nott was a slimy, loutish, blood-traitor disguised as a traditionalist – as were many of the Dark Lord’s followers. It was one of the many reasons that Lucius found himself opposed to the Dark Lord’s agenda – the wizard seemed to encourage his followers to ignore the traditional customs of their world.
“Are you accompanying me to see the Dark Lord, Nott?”
Nott chuckled. “No, no, I’m just leaving.” He pushed himself away from the wall, before twisting away in apparition.
Lucius sneered at the spot where Nott had been standing, before making his way through the manor towards the room that the Dark Lord used as his throne room. He paused outside the door to try and prepare himself for whatever torture he would receive (because one never left the Dark Lord’s presence without having felt the cruciatus curse at least once), before pushing the door open and making his way inside.
The room was dark, as it always was, and disgustingly grimy. It made Lucius shudder inwardly to think that he would soon have to kneel on the filthy floor. It was a large room that had, apparently, once been the dining room, and the Dark Lord’s throne was set against the far wall.
“Welcome, Lucius.” The Dark Lord hissed dangerously from his throne.
“Merry meet, my lord.” Lucius returned, bowing deeply.
The Dark Lord left him in a deep bow for at least a minute before commanding Lucius closer.
Lucius made his way forward, before gracefully kneeling a few feet away from the disfigured wizard’s feet.
“Do you know what I heard today, Lucius?” The Dark Lord asked after another minute had passed.
“No, my lord.” Lucius admitted, wincing inwardly.
The Dark Lord’s expression was hard. “Julian has informed me that you threw Harry Potter a BIRTHDAY PARTY!”
Lucius forced himself not to flinch as the Dark Lord’s voice rose to a shout.
Lucius clenched his teeth together as the pain hit him. No matter how many times he was on the receiving end of the curse, or how much he tried to prepare himself for the pain, it never made it any easier. He swallowed down a scream. Then, as quickly as the pain had come, it left again, leaving Lucius’ body trembling.
“I had heard rumours of your connection to him.” The Dark Lord told him. “But I had never believed that you would betray me; that you were a traitor.”
“I am loyal only to you, my lord.” Lucius protested weakly. “I only entertain the boy in order than I might be able to serve you better.”
The Dark Lord chuckled darkly. “Crucio!”
The pain was worse this time, as it always was the second time the curse was cast, and it was all Lucius could do to prevent himself from toppling over.
“In what imagined way do you believe you are serving me?” The Dark Lord asked him when the pain eventually stopped. “In what way does throwing a party for the boy whom I have already declared my intentions of killing serve me?”
Lucius gasped for air, trying to stop his limbs from trembling violently. “He is not all he seems, my lord. His magic is dark and he prefers our traditions over the muggle ones. His closest friends are scions of your followers. I wanted simply to study the boy so that I might bring a detailed report to you, my lord.”
The Dark Lord was silent for a minute before he eventually spoke again. “You believe that he might come to believe in our cause?”
“I do, my lord.” Lucius agreed, lifting his eyes to allow the Dark Lord to use legilimency to read his sincerity.
“I will give you two years.” The Dark Lord declared after having rifled through the thoughts that Lucius had made available to him. “Two years to convince the boy, and his guardian, to join our cause.”
Lucius’ heart leapt in excitement. That was far more than he had dared to hope for. “Thank you, my lord.”
“But, Lucius,” The Dark Lord hissed dangerously. “If you should fail, the lives of your entire House will be forfeit.”
France was absolutely smashing, as was Germany, and Harry honestly couldn’t decide which of the two countries he preferred. Not only were the countries amazing, but Harry found that, despite his original doubts, holidaying was actually really fun. It was nice to have the opportunity to relax, to wake up and know that there was nothing he had to do and learn for another week.
It didn’t stop him from learning things of course. At Harry’s request, Sirius had taken him to a bunch of magical museums and monuments, and Harry had brought a few books on magical theory to read.
Harry also enjoyed having the opportunity to make use of the languages he had been learning. By the end of their trip, his French was all but fluent and his German was passable. Harry still hadn’t decided on the languages he would learn next – there were just so many to choose from.
The best thing about the trip was the time he got spend with Sirius. Harry had never in his life had an adult pay him as much attention as Sirius paid him. Sirius seemed to be interested to hear all of Harry’s thoughts and ideas and actually wanted to spend time with Harry. It was everything Harry had ever wanted.
The most serious conversation they had during the holiday was about Remus’ lycanthropy. After Luna’s comments during his birthday, Harry had done some research on the word ‘lupine’ and had come to the conclusion that Remus was either a werewolf or a tall flowering plant (or that it was one of those times when Luna’s words were uninterpretable). Harry hadn’t really believed it, until he did the calculations and realised that Remus had been sick for the week of the full moon. Still, Harry hadn’t been sure until he had cautiously brought the subject up with Sirius.
Sirius seemed surprised, and a little worried, to hear that Harry had figured it out, and was audibly relieved when Harry assured him that it didn’t change anything. Werewolves were just magical creatures, they certainly weren’t evil. Remus’ lycanthropy definitely explained why Sirius had gotten so upset over Umbridge’s Werewolf Legislation and, now that Harry could put a face to the condition, he couldn’t help but feel more passionate about the subject too.
Harry and Sirius returned from their trip on the 9th of August, just in time for Harry to start attending his tutoring lessons again on the 10th. It was nice to see Draco again, Harry hadn’t realised how much he had missed his cousin until he saw him again. It had been weird to go an entire week without speaking to Draco, when they were in school they saw each other every day and they had been spending two out of every three days together since the summer started.
It was nice to see Remus as well. The older man had chosen not to accompany them, declaring that Harry and Sirius needed to spend some time together without him hanging around and, when both Sirius and Harry had protested that point, claiming that he had a lot of preparation work he needed to do before Hogwarts started.
As nice as the holiday had been though, it was great to have his tutoring lessons again. Not only did he enjoy learning, but there was just so much to learn and not much time to learn it in – he only had one and half summers until he would become Lord Potter.
Harry was surprised at how easy he found it to get back into the routine he’d had before the holiday and, before he knew it, it was the day of the six thousand and twenty third Wizengamot Session. A day he had very much been looking forward to – mostly because he wanted to see Sirius be awesome again.
Both Sirius and Remus seemed nervous at breakfast, something Harry could definitely understand. Remus’ nerves were especially understandable. After all, if Umbridge’s legislation was passed that day, Remus’ life would probably never be the same.
Harry and Sirius flooed to the Ministry of Magic again and, despite having seen it before, Harry was astonished at the change in his godfather. Sirius was normally so untraditional (though he didn’t seem anti-traditional anymore) and it was weird to see him acting more like Lord Malfoy than his usual self. Sirius was still a little less haughty and a little more charming than Lord Malfoy though. It was amazing to watch him interact with the women they came across, Sirius had most of them blushing and fluttering their eyelashes in just a few sentences.
Harry followed Sirius into the Wizengamot Hall and then up the stairs to their seats, while trying not to stare at the empty Potter seat. He wondered what it would have been like to have attended the Wizengamot with his father. Would James Potter have been as accepting of Harry’s decision to be traditional as Sirius had been? Though, maybe if he had grown up with untraditional parents, he wouldn’t have turned out traditional.
It was scary to think that in two years he would be the one sitting in that seat – the youngest Wizengamot member in fifty eight years. It seemed like a lot of responsibility to put on a fifteen year old. How would he know what to do? He doubted he would ever be able to get a whole room of people to listen to him like Sirius had the month before. Still, it was worth working towards at least because, regardless of how prepared he was, he was still going to become a member of the Wizengamot when he turned fifteen.
It took another ten minutes for the rest of the Wizengamot to arrive and Harry couldn’t help but think that it wasn’t so different from Hogwarts classes. There were more people, and they were all older, but there were a lot of similarities. The clock across the room began its series of chimes to announce that it was ten o’clock and Harry watched as another dozen or so people quickly rushed through door. He dubbed them the Ron Weasley, Dean Thomas, and Seamus Finnegan of the Wizengamot.
When the clock had finished chiming, Dumbledore stood up and began to the proceedings. Harry wasn’t sure why Dumbledore was the Chief Warlock. In the muggle world, the position of Speaker of the House of Lords (and the position of Speaker of the House of Commons, for that matter) was a fulltime position – as was running a school.
Dumbledore talked for a while, before turning the floor over to the Head of the Department of Magical Transportation who proceeded to give the most boring speech Harry had heard in his life. He hadn’t thought that anything could be more boring that the discussion about the thickness of cauldron bottoms during the last Wizengamot meeting, but apparently he had been wrong. Because Allister Shafiq spent forty minutes talking about the positives of flying carpets as a means of transport. Apparently the carpets had been outlawed forty seven years before and Shafiq thought that should be made legal again. Unfortunately, other people disagreed and spent another forty minutes listing all the negatives. Harry just wanted it to stop.
Eventually, Dumbledore called the matter to a vote and the Wizengamot decided not to legalise them. A decision that Harry thought was not only ridiculous (carpets were no more dangerous than muggle cars), but also meant that the last hour and a half of his life had been a complete waste of time.
Next came a, thankfully shorter, discussion regarding Gringotts. Apparently one of the elected members, who was clearly muggleborn, thought that Magical Britain ought to run its bank like the muggle world did and had come up with a strategy on how to make the Goblins comply. The Goblin Liason then quickly, and sharply, rebuked the man, because ‘really? Did he want to start another Goblin Rebellion? They voted on it of course, but barely a fifth of Wizengamot voted in favour of the proposal. It seemed that while wizards didn’t hold much respect for goblins, they weren’t stupid enough to try and start something with them.
After that the Wizengamot broke for a forty minute lunch, during which Sirius and Lord Malfoy took Harry and Draco to a fancy restaurant that Harry had never been to before.
“I don’t understand why people don’t like Goblins.” Harry commented, once they had ordered their meals.
Draco grimaced. “Haven’t you heard enough about that for one day? I thought I was going to fall asleep.”
Lord Malfoy gave Draco a sharp look. “I should hope your mother and I have raised you better than that.”
“Yes, father.” Draco promised sincerely. “It was so boring though.”
“The Wizengamot can hardly spent their entire time discussing Quidditch and other topics that may interest you.” Lord Malfoy told him disapprovingly.
“I know, father.” Draco assured him. “But must they spent an hour and a half discussing flying carpets?”
“That was rather boring.” Harry agreed. “And then they went and refused to legalise them. I thought they sounded brilliant.”
Lord Malfoy raised an eyebrow. “You were in favour of the proposal then, Mr. Potter?”
“Yes, my lord.” Harry answered.
Sirius looked surprised. “Didn’t you hear Lady Longbottom’s exposition of the dangers?”
“Of course.” Harry told him. “But everything is dangerous and it didn’t sound anymore more dangerous than side-along apparating or children flooing. Mr. Shafiq said that children get lost in the floo system all the time. At least with Magic Carpets, their parents could be there to look after them.”
“How would you stop the carpets from colliding though?” Sirius asked. “That’s why they were banned originally, you know. With the population increasing, there were more and more carpets in the sky and people kept crashing into each other.”
“The muggles have done it.” Harry pointed out. “I should think that anything they can do, we can learn to do too.”
Lord Malfoy’s eyes narrowed. “Is that so?”
“Yes, my lord.” Harry tried not to let the older wizard’s gaze intimidate him. “And it was harder for the muggles as well, they can only have cars drive on the ground. We could have multiple lanes in the air.”
Lord Malfoy considered him for a moment, before nodding. “Excellently argued, Mr. Potter. Though, a little subtly wouldn’t go astray. There is no need to be quite so direct when targeting your opponent’s bias.”
“Thank you, my lord.” Harry fought off a pleased blush. “I will try.”
After lunch, they made their way back into the Wizengamot Hall and Harry couldn’t help but feel excited – this was what he had been waiting for.
Dumbledore welcomed them back and then turned the floor over to Sirius who, stood and then stalked his way down the stairs so that he was standing in front of the Wizengamot.
“Thank you, Chief Warlock.” Sirius nodded towards Dumbledore, before turning his attention to other members of the Wizengamot. “Merry meet, Members of the Wizengamot.”
As had happened the month beforehand, the lords, heirs, and a third of the other members of the Wizengamot stood and bowed to him. “Merry meet, Lord Black.”
“Last month we heard from Madame Umbridge, who serves as the Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic, on the subject of werewolves.” Sirius started. “However, despite Madame Umbridges obvious passion for the subject, and her presumed knowledge of the protocols of this body, she failed to provide an expert witness. Because of this, I have, with permission from this respected body, provided a witness for her.”
Harry looked towards where Umbridge was sitting and swallowed down an amused smirk when he saw her scowling at Sirius and practically vibrating with rage. Which was understandable really, Sirius had just insulted her.
“Before I introduce Mr. Scamander, however, I ask that I may have a few minutes of your time.” Sirius continued. “While, I am in no way a lauded expert in the same way that Mr. Scamander is, I have spent a lot of time in the company of a werewolf. I did not meet this werewolf in Azkaban, as I am sure many of you are thinking, rather, I met this werewolf at Hogwarts.”
There were a few surprised gasps around the room and Harry looked around to try and figure out who had made the noises. It hadn’t been anyone in his row, nor in the row below him – he thought that one of the gasps had probably come from Umbridge.
“I tell you this story because I understand how easy it can be to judge entire group of people by their most notable member.” Sirius continued. “I myself have been guilty of this. I have spent years doing this. I have considered all wizards with dark magic to be like You-Know-Who, just as I am sure that many of you judge werewolves as being similar to Fenrir Greyback. Fenrir Greyback is a monster and he ought to be brought to justice, I will not argue with that, however, that doesn’t not make all werewolves monsters.”
Harry felt as though his heart would burst with pride as he watched members of the Wizengamot nod in agreement. Sirius was smashing!
“Now,” Sirius turned to Dumbledore. “Chief Warlock, I ask for the admittance of Mr. Newton Scamander, Order of Merlin Second Class recipient, famed Magizoologist, former Head of the Department of Magical Creatures, since renamed the Department of the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, and author of ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’.”
After that it got boring again. Mr. Scamander looked almost as old as Dumbledore and was just as odd. Despite that though, he certainly knew his subject and managed to talk for over an hour on why Umbridge’s Werewolf Act was a terrible idea. Mr. Scamander was pretty scathing about the whole thing actually, which was pretty funny.
After Mr. Scamander had finished speaking, Dumbledore allowed Umbridge to have a final say and, thankfully, after hearing Mr Scamander ’s side of things, her speech sounded much stupider than it had the month before. Especially since she kept saying things that contradicted Mr. Scamander’s expert opinion. The one interesting part of her speech was her claim that the number of werewolf attacks had been increasing and had tripled in the past year. Harry wasn’t sure whether or not it was true, especially since nothing else in her speech seemed to be.
Eventually, she stopped talking and Dumbledore called on the Wizengamot to vote. It was closer than Harry thought it would be, and he could hardly believe his eyes when he saw Lord Malfoy voting for the proposal (though the more he thought about it, the surer he was that Lord Malfoy would have only done that because Voldemort had asked him to – though Harry had no idea why Voldemort would care), but eventually, Dumbledore announced that the proposal had not been passed.
Harry tried not to feel too gleeful at the sight of Madame Umbridge’s furious expression.
The final week before Hogwarts was very busy for Harry and Draco, as they organised themselves for Hogwarts. Their school letters had finally arrived the day after the Wizengamot meeting, but they hadn’t included their grades again – so Sirius and Lord Malfoy sent off letters requesting them. It felt wonderful to have someone there to do that sort of thing for him. Sirius had even agreed to sign Harry’s Hogsmeade permission slip (something Harry couldn’t imagine Uncle Vernon ever having agreed to do), on the condition that Harry promise to stay within the township the whole time. When Harry had expressed his disappointment at not being able to see the Shrieking Shack (a rite of passage at Hogwarts), Sirius and Remus had taken him there for a picnic lunch.
The Thursday before school started, they spent the entire day at Diagon Alley, buying their books, potion supplies, and new Firebolt brooms. They had to go robe shopping again as well since Harry had grown three inches over the summer. He stood at five feet and five inches now, which made him three whole inches taller than Draco (much to his cousin’s disgust) and two inches shorter than Sirius. He was still nine inches shorter than Remus, though you couldn’t usually tell that Remus was that tall since he had terrible posture.
Harry’s grades didn’t arrive until the thirty first of August and, when Harry went to open the letter immediately, Sirius insisted that he wait until lunch so that Remus could be there too. Which, it turned out, was a sure-fire way to ensure that Harry’s morning went as slowly as possible.
When lunchtime finally arrived, it took every bit of Harry’s willpower to politely wait until Sirius brought the subject up. Thankfully though, Sirius didn’t leave him waiting too long, and after they had each served their lunch, he suggested that Harry could open the envelope if he wished.
Harry looked around for a letter knife and, when he couldn’t find one, decided to make do with his butter knife just this once. After all, Cousin Narcissa would never know.
He unfolded the letter and quickly skimmed over Flitwick’s comments, before getting to the grades. Eight seven percent in Astronomy. Damn! That was much lower than the year before. Harry blamed the stupid planet mobile they’d had to make.
“Come on, pup.” Sirius interrupted. “Read it out to us.”
Harry nodded obediently and pulled his eyes back to the top of the letter.
“Dear Mr. Potter,” Harry read. “Well done! I hope you are as proud of these marks and I am to have you in Ravenclaw House. You are a credit to our house! I am excited to witness what you will accomplish this year.
“A credit to your house.” Sirius was beaming. “That’s our Harry!”
“Well done, Harry.” Remus agreed. “What are your grades?”
Harry sighed and looked down at his plate. “I only got eighty seven percent in Astronomy. That’s five percent less than last year.”
“Eighty seven percent?” Sirius asked. “That’s amazing!”
Harry studied his godfather’s expression to judge his seriousness. “Really? I think I would have gotten a higher mark, except some of our grade came from those annoying mobiles we made. I’m not very good at craft.”
“That’s okay.” Remus reassured him. “You can’t be good at everything. And it makes the eighty seven percent even more impressive.”
Harry gave the man a half smile. “Thanks.”
“What else?” Sirius asked excitedly.
Harry looked back at the letter and couldn’t help but smile. “Ninety eight percent in Charms, one hundred percent in DADA, ninety one percent in Herbology, one hundred percent in History and Magical Theory, ninety six percent in Potions, ninety eight percent in Transfiguration, and ninety four percent in Ancient Runes.”
“Holy cow!” Sirius exclaimed, before plucking the letter out of Harry’s hand and studying it. “That’s incredible! You’re a genius!”
“That’s amazing, Harry.” Remus agreed gently.
“Three subjects with full marks!” Sirius commented in amazement. “Everything in the ninety percent range, except Astronomy, but even then I bet your theory was spot on.”
Harry tried to force down his smile, he didn’t want to look smug, but he was too excited to succeed.
“Maybe you should consider asking being put up a year in some of your subjects.” Sirius added.
Harry wrinkled his nose. “I’d rather not. I’m already ahead a year in Ancient Runes.”
“Besides,” Remus put in. “He’s picking up an extra subject this year.”
“That’s true.” Sirius admitted. “You chose Ancient Studies, right?”
“Yes.” Harry nodded. “And I’m continuing Runes and Magical Theory.”
“So you’ll already be taking one subject more than most people.” Remus said.
Sirius pulled a face. “I have no idea why anyone would choose to take three electives – two is hard enough!”
A.N. I have received a few questions regarding my update schedule – I update every Tuesday, but as I live in New Zealand the chapter may arrive late Monday night for some of you.
Sirius accompanied Harry and Remus to Platform Nine and Three Quarters to see them off. Harry thought it was a bit strange that Remus would be taking the Hogwarts Express with them, but when he mentioned that to Remus, the new professor explained that apparently there was always at least one professor on board – Harry had just never seen them.
It was weird having someone there to see him off, but definitely in a good way, and Harry tried not to look too awkward when Sirius pulled him into a farewell hug. Sirius had been hugging Harry a lot recently and Harry still wasn’t sure how he was supposed to respond.
The Malfoys arrived a few minutes later which meant that Harry got to say farewell to Cousin Narcissa and Lord Malfoy as well. When Draco had finished farewelling his parents, he and Harry made their way onto the train and found Draco’s usual compartment.
“I presume you aren’t planning on abandoning me for the trip again this year?” Draco asked haughtily, as they pushed their trunks under their seats.
Harry frowned at the reminder of how much his friendship circle had changed in the last year. This time last year he had left Draco to sit with the Ravenclaws, but they still weren’t talking to Harry and Harry was well past caring. Anyone who thought it was okay to ignore their friend for six months wasn’t anyone that Harry wanted to be friends with anyway.
Admittedly it would make sharing a dorm with them more awkward, but Harry could always spend his spare time with the Slytherins or at Hoth.
“I think I’ll go find Neville in a little while.” Harry answered his cousin. “I haven’t seen him in a few weeks.”
Draco grimaced. “I suppose I should be thankful that Longbottom is at least traditional, but his family is so light!”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Draco, your prejudice is showing.”
“I’m not prejudiced.” Draco denied heatedly. “I just don’t like the way that they are prejudiced against us.”
“Neville isn’t so bad.” Harry defended his friend. “He knows that my magic is dark and he’ still friends with me.”
“He still hates me.” Draco pointed out sulkily.
Harry sighed. “Because your aunt tortured his parents. You just remind him of it, that’s all.”
“But that’s not fair!” Draco scowled.
Harry rolled his eyes again. “And now your five year old self is showing. Pull yourself together, Draco.”
Draco glared at him, but then straightened his shoulders and cleared his expression. “My apologies.”
Harry waved a hand dismissively. “Neville will get over it.”
“Of course he will.” Luna said suddenly from the doorway. “He just needs to learn that you’re not a Korrigail like she is.”
Harry smiled happily in greeting. “Merry meet, Luna.”
“Merry meet.” Luna agreed, before skipping forward and hugging first Harry and then Draco.
“How was your last few weeks?” Harry asked, once Luna had settled down on a seat beside him. “I haven’t seen you since my birthday.”
“It was lovely.” Luna beamed at him. “Daddy and I went exploring in Croatia.”
“Did you find anything interesting?” Draco asked her.
“Lots of things!” Luna nodded quickly. “Daddy even found a Wioprine.”
“What’s a Wioprine?”
“Oh, you know.” Luna told them airily. “They’re about this big, and bright blue, and they have five horns. I had never seen a blue creature before. Daddy says they’re very rare.”
Harry had never heard of blue animals before, well except for some fish and whales, and some birds, and lizards, and frogs, and wow, there were a lot more blue animals than he had thought.
“Are you excited about this year?” Draco asked her. “You’re a second year now, there will actually be people smaller than you. Hard though that may be to believe.”
Harry grinned – at four feet and ten inches, Luna was very short.
Luna rolled her eyes. “I’d watch out if I were you, Draco. What if you were to stop growing now? You’d be short then too.”
Draco stared at her in horror. “What? No! I can’t stay this short. I would be the shortest Malfoy in history! Tell me that’s not one of your seeing things, Luna. Tell me you just made it up!”
Luna’s grin was wicked. “Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. We’ll just have to wait and see if you grow.”
Draco stared at her for a few more seconds, before pulling himself together. “I don’t believe you.” He told Luna snootily. “You’re just trying to upset me.”
“That’s not how I’d describe what just happened.” Harry grinned. “I’d say that she successfully upset you.”
Draco lip curled into a small sneer. “Oh, harhar, very funny, make fun of Draco, just because I’m three inches shorter than you! Just you wait, Harry, I’m going to grow so tall…”
“Not according to Luna.” Harry smirked.
“Besides,” Luna put in, her grin still wicked. “You started it, Draco. You made fun of me first.”
“Yes, but you actually are short!” Draco argued. “It’s not making fun of someone if you’re telling the truth. I’m not short. Mother says that I’m the perfect height for a Malfoy.”
“I don’t disagree.” Harry nodded. “But then your father is short too.”
Draco’s eyes widened in shock. “He is not!”
“He is!” Harry’s smirk grew. “He’s five inches shorter than Remus.”
“At least he’s taller than Sirius!” Draco returned.
“Maybe that’s why you’re going to be so short, Draco.” Luna’s eyes sparkled. “It comes from both sides of the family.”
“I am not going be short!” Draco denied loudly, just as the compartment door slid open to reveal Theo and Blaise.
“I’m not sure how to respond to that.” Theo said in obvious amusement. “Except to point out, that you’re shorter than both me and Blaise. Aren’t you shorter than Pansy too?”
Draco was on his feet, his wand pointed at Theo, in seconds. “You take that back.”
Theo raised his hands defensively. “Woah.”
“Alright.” Harry stood up. “Come on, Draco. You know we were just teasing you. You’re not that short.”
Draco glared at him. “I’m not short at all!”
“Alright,” Harry agreed amiably. “You’re the perfect height, to match your perfect face, your perfect hair, and your perfect personality.”
Draco returned his wand to its holder and sat down again with a smug nod. “Exactly. Thank you.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Merry meet, Theo, Blaise.”
“Merry meet.” Both Theo and Blaise bowed. “May we join you?”
“Of course.” Harry nodded in acknowledgment. “Come in. Have you seen the girls?”
“I saw Pansy on the platform.” Theo grimaced as he shoved his trunk beside Harry’s and sat down beside Draco. “She was making a fuss about something.”
“Isn’t she always?” Draco asked, before smirking with Harry. “Good luck with her this year, Harry.”
Harry’s lip curled unconsciously. “I do not have the patience for her drama. I don’t know how you put up with it for two whole years, Draco.”
“It was longer than two years.” Theo grinned. “She’s been mooning after him since we were seven.”
“Well, she won’t be mooning after me for that long!” Harry declared. “Either she will behave appropriately, or there will be consequences. I refuse to allow her to hang off me all year. It’s unseemly.”
“What are you going to do?” Blaise asked curiously, from where was sitting on Draco’s other side.
Theo leaned forward gleefully. “You should see him, Blaise, it’s a beautiful thing. He actually sent her home halfway through his birthday party. This is why you shouldn’t go away for an entire summer.”
Harry looked away uncomfortable, he still felt a bit bad about it. “She just wouldn’t stop. She knows that I don’t like it when people insult muggles around me.”
“Wait,” Blaise looked confused. “Why would she insult muggles around you if she’s trying to court you?”
“Nobody’s ever accused Pansy of being the brightest wand in the shop.” Theo pointed out.
Blaise sighed. “I can’t believe I missed it. I’ve been wanting to do something like that since first year. She’s insufferable.”
“Why didn’t you?” Harry asked. “Maybe if someone had called her on her behaviour earlier, she wouldn’t be so horrible now.”
Blaise looked toward Draco uncomfortably. “It wasn’t really my place.”
Harry admitted that it was a good point. If anyone should have set Pansy down, it should have been Draco or, at the very least, Theo.
“It wasn’t my place either.” Theo agreed. “You know how it goes, since Draco was alright with it, we had to be as well.”
“I wasn’t alright with it!” Draco protested. “I just didn’t want to make her cry.”
“Luckily for us, we have Harry now.” Theo grinned. “And Harry has no problems making girls cry.”
Harry grimaced. “You make me sound so horrible. I don’t like making Pansy cry. I still feel bad about what happened at my birthday.”
“Don’t!” Theo said quickly. “Seriously, she obviously got over it – she was trying to cosy up to you at Daphne’s house two weeks later. Besides, if we don’t hold people accountable for their behaviour then we’re no different than the blood traitors.”
“You are a bit different.” Luna put in from behind the book she had started reading. “You’re just hypocrites.”
“Thank you, Luna.” Draco said dryly. “I’m sure that makes us all feel better.”
Luna’s twinkling eyes peeked over the top of the book. “Oh, sorry, Draco, I must have said it wrong. I wasn’t trying to make you feel better.”
Draco’s mouth fell open in surprised outrage. “Since when have you been this cheeky?”
“I’m a second year now.” Luna answered seriously before disappearing behind her book again.
The girls joined the soon after, something that Harry had mixed feeling about. On the one hand, Daphne was always fun to hang out with (not to mention very pretty), and Millicent and Tracey were nice too. On the other hand, Pansy.
Harry was just glad that Daphne had been the first of the girls to enter the compartment and had chosen to sit next to him. Otherwise he was sure that Pansy would have tried something and Harry would have had to choose between putting up with her inappropriateness or making her cry again. He didn’t like Pansy, but he didn’t want to make her cry either. Unfortunately he was pretty sure that when it came down to it, his desire to stop her behaviour would be greater than his desire to not make her cry. He just wished that she would learn.
It was unbelievable how stubborn she was being. Sirius had written to her father over the summer and had received an apologetic letter, but Pansy’s behaviour hadn’t changed at all. It put Harry in a difficult situation. If he told Sirius what was happening his godfather would have to act on it and follow through on his threats to Mr. Parkinson, something Harry was sure would make Sirius uncomfortable.
Of course that only really left two options, putting up with Pansy’s behaviour or putting a stop to it himself. But he’d already been trying to put a stop to it and all it had done was make Pansy cry. So if he really wanted to make her stop he’d probably have to be even tougher, which would probably make her cry even more.
Harry sighed, it was times like this that made him wonder whether the non-traditional people had it easier. He wondered what the Weasley twins would do to someone who was treating them like Pansy was treating him. They would probably prank her mercilessly, which would probably still make her cry. So really, no matter what he was going to have to make her cry if he didn’t want to end up being married to her.
Why were girls so annoying?
When Greg and Vincent joined them a few minutes later, Harry decided that it would be a good time to go find Neville. He didn’t want to end up squished between two people, something that would be inevitable if he stayed. The compartments had not been made to fit eleven people. Luna apparently felt similarly, because she decided to come too.
It took them ten minutes of poking their heads into different compartments to find Neville, but eventually they found him in a compartment with Weasley, Finnegan and Thomas of all people.
Weasley, Finnegan and Thomas all scowled when they saw Harry.
“What do you want, Potter?” Weasley spat.
“Merry meet, Neville.” Harry greeted his friend, pointedly ignoring the other boys.
“Merry meet.” Neville stood and bowed gracefully.
Harry couldn’t help but be impressed as he nodded in acknowledgement, Neville was much less awkward than he had been in first year. But then, so was Harry.
Weasley, Finnegan, and Thomas’ scowls darkened.
Luna curtsied from beside Harry. “Merry meet, Heir Longbottom.”
Neville looked surprised, but nodded in acknowledgement. “Merry meet. You’re Luna Lovegood, right? I don’t think we’ve met.”
Weasley’s face was turning red. “Get out, Potter, and take Loony with you.”
Harry’s expression hardened. “Watch your mouth, Weasley.”
Neville cleared his throat uncomfortably. “Maybe we should go find another compartment, Harry.”
“You’re going with him?” Finnegan asked in outraged disbelief. “He’s practically a Slytherin!”
Harry eyed him quizzically. “How do you figure that?”
“You hang out with them, don’t you?” Thomas spat.
“Yeah!” Finnegan agreed. “And you hate muggles, just like they do!”
“I beg your pardon?” Harry asked in confusion. “You do know that I grew up with muggles, don’t you?”
“Don’t play dumb.” Weasley snarled. “We heard you last year! Talking about how much better you liked the wizarding world and how you were never going to talk to your relatives again because they’re muggles.”
Harry groaned inwardly, he’d known that his conversation with Lisa Turpin would come back to bite him in the arse.
“I don’t hate muggles.” He tried to reassure them. “I think they’re great.”
Thomas snorted. “Sure you do. That’s why your friends all the mini-Death Eaters.”
Harry wasn’t sure when this conversation had gotten so far out of his control. “They’re not Death Eaters!”
Which to be fair, wasn’t strictly true. Draco’s father definitely was (even if he was a spy), and, according to Sirius and Remus, Theo, Greg, Vincent and Pansy’s fathers were too. But Daphne’s parents weren’t, and neither were Millicent, Tracey or Blaise’s.
“Of course they bloody are!” Weasley sneered.
Neville cleared his throat uncomfortably. “Maybe we should go.”
“And you know this how?” Harry asked Weasley.
“Everybody knows that they’re Death Eaters!” Weasley spat.
Harry sneered at him. “And yet, they’re not in Azkaban, are they?”
“Only because they bought their way out.” Finnegan snapped. “That’s the problem with you bloody toffs.”
“We could find another compartment.” Neville suggested quietly.
“No wonder you’re in Gryffindor.” Harry told Finnegan disparagingly. “You’d never make it in Ravenclaw. We actually depend on the facts to back up our opinions.”
Which, to be completely honest, wasn’t true either. In fact, all the Ravenclaw third years, aside from Harry, believe that the Slytherins were mini Death Eaters too.
Luna spoke up from his side. “Let’s go find another compartment, Harry.”
“Good idea.” Neville sounded relieved. “I’ll come too.”
All three other boys turn to him in disbelief. “You’re going with him?”
“You’re choosing him over us?” Weasley’s face was completely red now.
“He’s my friend.” Neville defended.
“You’re a bloody traitor!” Thomas snarled.
Harry drew himself up, and opened his mouth to defend Neville, but found himself being pulled away by Luna. Neville quickly followed them.
“Boys,” Luna sounded exasperated as she led them to and empty compartment. “You’re so silly.”
“I wasn’t being silly!” Harry retorted heatedly.
“It’s not worth arguing with them.” Neville told him with a shrug. “They’re not really listening to you.”
Harry could feel himself calming down and he looked at Neville in concern. “They won’t do anything to you, will they? You didn’t have to come with us, you know. We could have met up at school.”
Neville looked away. “They’re jerks, it’s not as though we’re really friends anyway.”
Harry deflated. “Sorry if I’ve made things more difficult for you.”
“They’ll get over it.” Neville promised. “They already knew that we were friends. I sit next to you in all our shared classes.”
“Do people really think I hate muggles?” Harry asked in concern. “Or is it just them?”
“Well, not everyone.” Neville answered. “But, a lot of people do. You don’t have any friends who are muggleborn, you spend most of your time with Malfoy, and you’re traditional.”
“You’re traditional.” Haryr pointed out. “Do they think you hate muggles too?”
“I’m a Gryffindor.” Neville said, as though that explained everything. “Besides I don’t spend time with Malfoy, and I actually talk to muggleborns.”
“I talk to muggleborns!” Harry retorted.
“Only when you have to.” Neville pointed out. “Of course, your conversation with Turpin last year didn’t exactly help.”
“It’s not that I don’t want to talk to muggleborns.” Harry defended. “It’s just that, I don’t really have anything in common with them.”
“Except being raised in the muggle world.” Neville pointed out dryly.
Harry ran a hand through his hair in frustration. “But I wasn’t raised like they were. They had happy homes, with parents who loved them. My relatives were horrible and they wouldn’t let me doing anything.”
“I know that,” Neville said gently. “But they don’t.”
“I shouldn’t have to have a muggleborn friend.” Harry said in frustration. “That’s like saying that everyone ought to have a black friend so people will know that they’re not racist.”
Neville’s forehead crinkled. “What’s ‘racist’?”
Harry stared at him, sure he’d never come across racism in the magical world, but how could Neville not know what it meant.
“Racism is when you think that one race is better than another race.” He explained. “You know how Thomas’ skin is brown?”
“Yes.” Neville said slowly.
“Well, some muggles would think he wasn’t as good as they are because of that.” Harry explained.
Neville looked even more confused. “But that’s ridiculous.”
“Yes,” Harry agreed. “But then, so is the blood supremacy debate.”
Neville was silent for a minute, before eventually speaking again. “So you don’t really think that purebloods are better than muggleborns?”
Harry’s stomach clenched in hurt. “What? Of course not! How could you think that?”
“Well, you do hang out with Malfoy a lot.” Neville said weakly.
“Draco doesn’t think purebloods are better either.” Luna put in. “He just thinks he does.”
Neville stared at her uncomprehendingly. “That makes no sense.”
“Draco’s been into the muggle world with me.” Harry told him. “He rode in a muggle car, and has been to see muggle movies. He thinks they are great. He just doesn’t want our world to be like the muggle world.”
“Really?” Neville asked in obvious disbelief. “You’re telling me that Draco Malfoy doesn’t hate muggles?”
Harry winced inwardly, he probably shouldn’t have said that. If it got back to Voldemort…
“Yes,” He agreed. “But you can’t tell anyone. He sort of has to pretend that he does, otherwise he and his family will get into trouble.”
Neville shook his head. “I can’t believe this.”
“It’s true.” Luna assured him, though Harry doubted that would mean much to Neville who didn’t know that she was a seer.
“It’s unbelievable.” Neville muttered. “The Malfoys hate muggles. They always have.”
“The Malfoys like our world the way it is.” Harry countered. “They don’t like the way muggleborns want to change everything.”
“I can’t…” Neville shook his head again. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
When I wrote this chapter (a few months ago) I really really struggled. In fact, it took me over a month to write this and the next chapter. I just had no inspiration for Harry's third year and, while there were a few plot points I wanted to cover, I didn't know how to stretch them out into an entire story.
After about a month, I decided that you would probably rather I skimmed through Harry's third year than throw my hands in the air and say 'screw this story, I can't do it anymore'. Especially given the awesome things that are in the fourth story in this series.
So, what this means is that this chapter (and the one following it) span Harry's entire third year very briefly. It covers all the important plot points (which really shows you how little of a story I had for this one) but does so quickly. Sorry.
On the bright side, this means you can expect to see the first part of the fourth book (which I really ought to come up with a name for) in about two weeks. Yay!
The Welcome Feast was as wonderful as ever, though Harry couldn’t help but be frustrated at having to sit so far away from most of his friends. It wasn’t so bad, he did get to sit next to Luna, but he would much rather have been able to sit with Luna and all his friends – or at least at the Gryffindor table with Neville who was sitting by himself.
After dinner they made their way up to the Ravenclaw Tower to hear Professor Flitwick’s annual introductory speech. It was weird to see Terry, Michael, Rodney and Anthony again, and while Harry mostly just felt neutral towards them now, he didn’t look forward to another year of sharing a dorm with them. Still, at least they weren’t rude to him like Luna’s dorm mates were to her sometimes – they mostly just ignored him.
Harry didn’t get a chance to talk to Takashi until they met for their morning run the next morning, but it was good to see the older boy. Takashi had gone back to Japan to visit his relatives over the summer and regaled Harry and Neville with some stories about things that had happened. Harry thought that he would like to visit Japan one day, it sounded very interesting.
Unlike the previous year, Harry was thrilled to have not lost any of his fitness over the summer. His morning runs with Remus had definitely paid off and, since Neville had also kept up his fitness, they had all made it around the lake with ease. Then, since they still had a few minutes before they needed to go to breakfast, they took the opportunity to do some of the stomach exercises Takashi had taught them the year before and then some of the arm exercises that were important for fencing. Harry was fascinated to discover that the arm exercises that Takashi knew were different from the ones that Sirius had taught him. Neville didn’t know any of the exercises and admitted that his Great Uncle Algie hadn’t bothered starting to teach him to fence.
Upon hearing this, Harry and Takashi both offered to teach Neville the basics and so it was decided that they would get up half an hour earlier every morning to ensure that there was time. It did mean an early start, particularly since it meant Harry would have to wake up at five in order to get an hour of wandless magic practise in as well, but Neville’s grateful smile was definitely worth it.
They were given their timetables at breakfast and Harry grinned when he saw that he had Ancient Runes with the fourth years first and then Magical Theory. Magical Theory was one of the classes that he was looking forward to the most. While the class had been compulsory for his first and second year, it was now an elective and Harry thought that it sounded fascinating. He had already read the textbook, as he had done for all of his classes, and while the first part of the book was much of the same, the second part was about the basic theory around inventing your own spell.
He was also a bit nervous about the class since it would be the first time he would share a class with both Draco and Neville. Since Magical Theory was usually so small, all the houses were lumped together, which put Harry in a difficult situation. Did he sit with Neville or Draco? Or should he try and convince Neville to sit with him and Draco in one of the three desk groupings?
Ancient Runes went well, though it was a bit awkward when the rest of the class realised that Harry had placed first in the class rankings. It wasn’t too bad, but there definitely a few dark looks thrown in his direction. It was a sentiment Harry couldn’t definitely understand, he wouldn’t want a second year beating him in any of his classes either.
After Professor Babbling dismissed the class, Harry made his way to the Magical Theory classroom. Neither Draco nor Neville were there when he arrived, so Harry decided to sit in the middle seat of one of the three desk groupings and hope that everything would work out.
Neville arrived less than a minute later and approached Harry with a frown. “Why did you choose that seat? Is Malfoy taking this class?”
Harry winced inwardly at Neville’s accusatory tone. “Yes.”
Neville scowled, but sat on Harry’s left anyway. “This doesn’t mean I’m willing to talk to him.”
“Alright.” Harry answered in relief. “How was Care of Magical Creatures?”
Neville grinned. “We got to pet a Hippogriff.”
“Really?” Harry’s eyes widened in surprise. “Aren’t they supposed to be really dangerous?”
“Only if you’re disrespectful to them.” Neville explained. “But nobody got hurt so that’s good.”
Draco arrived soon after and, other than glancing quizzically at Neville, seemed to take the situation in his stride.
“Merry meet, Harry, Longbottom.”
“Merry meet.” Harry agreed.
Neville stood up and bowed to Draco politely. “Merry meet.”
Draco nodded in acknowledgement, before looking around the room. “Small class.”
“The bell won’t ring for another few minutes.” Harry pointed out, surely there would be more than eight people in the class. It was Magical Theory! Who wouldn’t want to learn how to invent spells?
In the end there was a total of ten people in the class and Professor Kilsby actually seemed excited to “have such a big class”. The mystery of the small class was solved within ten minutes of the class starting though, as it was the most fast-paced, complicated class Harry had ever been in. Kilsby jumped from subject to subject, ridiculously quickly and, if Harry hadn’t read the entire textbook, he would have been completely lost. It was definitely not a class for people who weren’t willing to work hard.
Harry had Transfiguration next and then after lunch, which he spent in Hoth with Luna and Draco, he had Potions and Defence Against the Dark Arts.
DADA was particularly notable since Remus, or Professor Lupin as Harry had to try and remember to call him now, gave them the opportunity to face off against a Boggart. The spell was easy enough, but facing their fears was not. Harry had the class with the Hufflepuff’s, more than one of which had burst into tears by the end of the lesson. Harry couldn’t blame them – he hadn’t exactly enjoyed seeing Sirius’s face twisted into a scowl as he accused Harry of being a ‘freak’.
By the end of classes, Harry was delighted to have discovered that he was the top student in his year, with Granger second and Draco third. Neville was seventh, which was a huge improvement than the year before – a fact that Harry put down to the fact that Neville was now using a wand that had actually chosen him.
Since it was a Thursday, Harry met up with Neville and Takashi under the big tree by the lake to practise their wandless magic. Both Harry and Neville were now at the point where they could levitate a twig without having meditated first, so they had moved onto trying to cast ‘lumos’ wandlessly. It was frustrating, because it meant that they had to start from the beginning again. According to Harry’s book on wandless magic, they would have to relearn each spell using meditation before being able to use them more freely. Still it was progress, and having practised over the summer, both of them could now create light within twenty seconds of meditating.
Takashi was now able to levitate a twig after having meditated for ten minutes. Harry wasn’t sure where the older boy found the motivation to continue trying despite his limited success. Particularly since Takashi had told them that he would probably never be able to do much more than levitate light objects.
Harry found it easy to fall into a comfortable, though busy, routine over the next few weeks. There was a lot more homework to do than there had been the year before, which made sense since they were taking extra subjects. The extra homework, on top of Harry’s morning runs and fencing practices, Quidditch practise, wandless magic practise, Occlumency practice (and lessons with Professor Snape), and private duelling lessons with Remus, meant that Harry was very busy.
Their second week back started with a bang as the ‘Wizarding Wheezes’, who Harry, Draco and Luna were still sure was the Weasley twins, somehow charmed everyone’s teeth to flash neon colours. It was fun, and harmless, and inspired Harry, Draco, and Luna to come up with a new prank as well. After all, they couldn’t let the Weasleys win.
So, two week after the Wizarding Wheezes’ prank, the entire school found itself speaking with bizarre accents courtesy of the Marauders’ Apprentices. It felt a little weird signing their pranks as the ‘Marauders’ Apprentices’ with one of the original Marauders there, but Remus seemed delighted by the prank and even gave Harry some ideas of what they could do next.
One of the most exciting things about being a third year, aside from being able to take elective classes, was the Hogsmeade trips. The first trip was on the 25th of September, and Harry couldn’t help but feel old and mature as he accompanied the rest of the third to seventh years to the small magical village.
Because of Sirius’ rules, Harry wasn’t allowed to leave the village, but that was alright because there was so much to do there. There was a pranking shop, which Harry visited to see if it gave him any inspiration, a sweets shop, and even a pub that they were allowed to go to. The only awkward part about it, was that he was having to choose between his friends again.
Neville had been ostracised by the Gryffindor boys in his year for his association with Harry, but he still refused to socialise with Draco. It was infuriating! Harry couldn’t exactly leave Neville on his own, but that meant that he didn’t get to enjoy Hogsmeade with his other friends. It wasn’t that Harry didn’t understand where Neville was coming from, but still it wasn’t Draco’s fault that his aunt was horrible. That was silly as Pansy calling him a blood traitor because his father had married a muggleborn – it wasn’t as though he had been the one to decide that they should get married. A fact that Harry told Neville, often.
Meeting Remus for duelling practise was one of Harry’s favourite parts of his week. Not only was it wonderful to get to know him better, especially since Sirius had assured him that Remuswould have been his second godfather (if there was such a thing), but Remus was teaching him a lot!
When Remus had first offered the duelling lessons as Harry’s birthday present, Harry had presumed that he would be mostly just learning new spells. That wasn’t the case. Sure Remus taught him some new spells, but most of what they practised was the strategy around when to cast and when to shield and, possibly the most useful in Harry’s opinion, when to duck.
During their first lesson, Remus had wiped the floor with Harry – not just because he knew more spells, but because not one of Harry’s spells had hit him. Harry had never seen anything like it – somehow, Remus had managed to avoid Harry’s spells while simultaneously attacking Harry with his own. It had been very humbling for Harry, he hadn’t expected to beat Remus – but he’d thought he would at least get one hit in.
From then on, Remus had him practising how to duck, dodge, weave, and roll away from spells and, when Harry had started managing to successfully avoid the spells, he had Harry practise returning fire while in motion. It was incredibly hard and took Harry weeks to begin to consistently hit a stationary target – which, if his opponent was anything like Remus, wouldn’t be very useful.
Harry had never before felt so challenged by what he was learning. Sure his classes always contained new information, or at least information he had only read in the textbook, but it normally only took him a few minutes to perfect the spell and then he would have to wait while the rest of his class tried to get it. But with Remus, Harry would set a goal that would take him over a week of practise to complete and, the minute Harry had managed to start to consistently meeting the goal, Remus would give him a new one. It was exhausting, but Harry loved it.
There was one Hogsmeade trip a month and, by the time the December one arrived, Harry was thoroughly sick of Neville’s refusal to spend any time with Draco. The other Gryffindor third years were still refusing to speak to Neville, accusing him of being dark – which was ludicrous, but Ron Weasley and his gang of prejudiced idiots had never been the brightest minds in their year – which meant that Harry was officially Neville’s only friend, though Luna had been spending some time with him recently as well.
It wouldn’t have been a problem, if it wasn’t for Neville’s stubborn refusal to be within fifty feet of Draco unless classes or mealtimes forced the issue. Harry was determined not to choose sides. Partly because he knew what it felt like to have friends choose the other guys, and partly because it was stupid and there shouldn’t have even been sides to choose.
He had argued the issue so many times with Neville throughout their three months at Hogwarts and, apart from it completely pissing Neville off, it hadn’t seemed to make any difference. But, when Harry saw the notice for their fourth Hogsmeade weekend, he decided that he’d had enough.
The next morning, after he, Neville and Takashi had finished their morning run and fencing practise, Harry waved Takashi ahead and led Neville down to the lake.
Once there, and well out range of any person who might have tried to overhear, Harry spun around to face his friend. “Alright, enough!”
Neville looked confused. “What?”
“There’s a Hogsmeade trip this weekend.” Harry told him. “And I want to go with you, and with Draco!”
Neville’s jaw tightened. “Harry…”
“No,” Harry held up a hand. “Don’t say anything. I know that you think that you have a right to hold this stupid grudge against Draco because his mother had the misfortune of having a serial killing psycho as an older sister. I get it. Well, okay, no, I don’t. As I’m sure you’ve picked up, I think it’s stupid. I think it’s just as stupid as my relatives hating me because I’m a wizard. And just as stupid as Fudge’s Senior Undersecretary wanting to make it illegal for people to hire werewolves, just because they had the misfortune to be bitten. And I think it’s just as stupid as Voldemort wanting to wipe out all the muggles and muggleborns because they’re not purebloods.
“So, no, I don’t get it, but I don’t see why your stupidity should have mean that I don’t get to go to Hogsmeade with two of my best friends!” Harry exclaimed. “You don’t have to like him, you don’t even have to talk to him, but you will come to Hogsmeade with us and you will put up with it because I’m your friend and I’m asking you to!”
Neville stared at him silently. “Alright, fine.”
“Good.” Harry nodded in satisfaction. “Thank you.”
“But if he makes one comment…” Neville started.
“He won’t.” Harry promised. “He’ll be perfectly polite and so will you.”
Surprisingly, the Hogsmeade trip wasn’t a complete disaster. Sure it was probably the most formal event Harry had attended since the Wizengamot, but thankfully between Harry, Theo, Blaise, and Daphne it didn’t get too awkward. Pansy of course was no help, though her continued attempts to woo Harry did provide some common ground between Harry’s two friends – even if that ground was just their joint amusement at Harry’s pain.
But, regardless of how formal the trip had been, when the Hogwarts’ Express left for London two days later Neville voluntarily joined Harry in the Slytherins’ carriage. Harry was flabbergasted and, couldn’t for the life of him, figure out what had happened on the trip that would have sparked such a change in Neville, but he certainly wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass by. Neville’s presence did make the train ride more formal than it would have been without him, especially since he seemed to go to every length possible to avoid interacting with Draco in anyway, but Luna’s presence certainly soothed everything over.
Besides, Harry was too excited to be going home over Christmas to care about the formality. It was the first time he had ever had a home to go to over Christmas and, not only that, but Sirius and Remus had agreed to attend the Malfoy’s Yule Party with him. It was such an amazing contrast to how his life had been a year ago, Harry could scarcely believe it.
Sirius met him on the platform and pulled Harry into a tight hug. “Good to see you, Harry.”
“Good to see you too.” Harry replied, once Sirius had eventually released him. “How have you been?”
“You know how I’ve been.” Sirius pointed out. “We talked using the mirrors last night.”
“True.” Harry acknowledged. “But I know you’ve been holding some things back. Cousin Narcissa told Draco, that you have all but taken over the Wizengamot.”
Sirius looked uncomfortable and, after gripping tightly onto Harry again, apparated them both back to Grimmauld Place. “I wouldn’t go that far.”
“She says that you’re just like your grandfather.” Harry told him. “And that Lord Malfoy has been using a pensieve to show her his memories of Dumbledore’s put out expressions.”
“Would you like something to drink?” Sirius asked, before calling a house elf to take Harry’s trunk up to his room.
“Butterbeer.” Harry decided. “We don’t get them at school, except for on Hogsmeade trips.”
“I remember.” Sirius grimaced as he led Harry into their usual sitting room. “I don’t know of a single person who went to Hogwarts who can stand Pumpkin Juice anymore. Seven years of it is enough to turn anyone off it.”
Harry sat in his usual chair, before picking up the Butterbeer that immediately appeared on the small table beside him. “So, the Wizengamot?”
Sirius ran a hand through his hair. “Yeah, at first it was just the Werewolf thing,”
“I remember.” Harry nodded.
“But then there was this stupid bill about banning Aurors from using lethal spells, even in emergencies.” Sirius continued. “At the moment, they’re allowed to use a lethal spell, but then they have to defend their use of it. Then, Nott gets up and suggests that they shouldn’t even be allowed to do that, and suddenly the Wizengamot thinks it’s a great idea. It was You-Know-Who’s idea, obviously. He doesn’t want the Aurors to be able to fight back, but Lady Bones and I managed to put a stop to it.”
Harry leaned forward seriously. “What is Voldemort doing? I haven’t seen anything in the Prophet.”
“Not much.” Sirius told him. “He’s got his werewolf followers going around attacking people every fullmoon – probably with the hope that once they’re discriminated against by the Ministry they’ll join his side. Fortunately we managed to stop Umbridge’s law from going through, so it’s not as bad as it could be.”
Harry nodded in understanding as he finally got his answer as to why Voldemort would have wanted Lord Malfoy to vote for the law.
“Other than that, he seems to be laying low and trying to pass stupid laws through his followers.” Sirius continued. “Poor Lucius has had to champion three separate bills, each as awful as the next.”
“Have any of them gotten through.” Harry asked worriedly, trying to remember what he had read in the Prophet.
“Just one,” Sirius sighed. “I couldn’t do anything about it. It’s not too bad anyway, just a bill to make it harder for the Minister to declare a state of emergency. Not that Fudge would, anyway. The man’s a blundering idiot! Lady Bones and Dumbledore have both tried to tell him the You-Know-Who’s back, but he wouldn’t believe them. They had to drop it or risk losing their positions. At least with them where they are, we have a fighting chance.”
Harry grimaced inwardly. He wasn’t exactly Dumbledore’s biggest fan and the man hadn’t exactly done anything to try and stop the Werewolf Act from passing – he’d just sat there and let Umbridge talk until Sirius had spoken up.
“Not that Dumbledore has been much help.” Sirius continued to Harry’s surprise. “I know the Chief Warlock is supposed to be impartial, but they’re still supposed to uphold the rules of the Wizengamot. Dumbledore just sits there and ignores all kind of faux pas. It’s as though he thinks that all traditional rules ought to be ignored, even the ones that are there for good reason.”
“Which is why Lord Malfoy hates him.” Harry pointed out. “He’s trying to destroy our culture.”
Sirius looked uncomfortable for a moment, before eventually nodded. “Which isn’t to say that there are aspects of our culture that don’t need to change.”
“No,” Harry agreed. “But so long as wizards like Dumbledore are trying to change everything, people are going to hate any kind of change.”
“People always hate change.” Sirius told him. “But I don’t disagree with your point.”
Harry stared at him. “Who are you and what have you done with my anti-traditional godfather?”
Sirius winced. “Well, I hope I haven’t been anti-traditional for about nine months, but let’s just say that your influence has challenged my views on things.”
“Really.” Sirius smiled warmly. “I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself traditional, but I’m definitely getting closer to the traditional way of thinking than to Dumbledore’s way of thinking.”
Harry was silent for a minute as he tried to process it all. It was incredible to think that Sirius cared enough about him that he had actually listened to Harry’s perspectives, let alone that he had changed his mind because of Harry.
“You know,” Harry said eventually. “This time last year, I was at Hogwarts for the holidays, and I honestly didn’t think you would ever let me go to the Malfoy’s Yule Party. I thought I was going to have to wait until I was fifteen.”
Sirius frowned. “I’m sorry that I was such an arse.”
“It’s fine.” Harry assured him. “The Dursleys were always arses, and they probably always will be. At least you got over it.”
Remus arrived home in time for dinner that night as they ate he raved to Sirius about how good at duelling Harry was getting. Apparently, Harry was exceeding all of Remus’ expectations and was well on his way to becoming a first-class dueller.
Harry spent the meal trying not to grin like an idiot – he felt as though he might burst with pleasure and pride. He’d never received so many compliments from an adult he respected in his life.
After dinner, they returned to the sitting room and Sirius and Remus’s expressions both became unusually serious.
“There’s something we need to tell you.” Sirius started.
Harry forced his expression clear and tried not to allow himself to jump to conclusions.
“Before you returned to Hogwarts, You-Know-Who spoke to Lucius about his involvement with you.” Sirius continued. “Lucius informed him that he thought that you might be convinced to become a Death Eater.”
“What?” Harry exclaimed before he could stop himself.
“He didn’t mean it.” Sirius added quickly. “It was part of a plan that he had pre-arranged with Lady Bones. You-Know-Who gave him two years to convince you to join them.”
Harry’s eyebrows rose in surprise. “That’s a long time.”
“Your loyalty would be great publicity for him.” Sirius pointed out. “Anyway, You-Know-Who told Lucius that, if you refuse to become a Death Eater after the two years, he will kill all the Malfoys.”
Harry’s stomach dropped in horror. “But I’ll never become a Death Eater! Why would Lord Malfoy risk his entire family for me?”
“We know that, pup.” Sirius reassured him. “And so does Lucius. It was either that, or the Malfoys completely cut off any communication they might have with you. You wouldn’t even be able to talk to Draco at school.”
“But what happens in two years?” Harry asked anxiously.
“Hopefully we’ve defeated him in two years.” Sirius said seriously. “But if not, then the Malfoy’s will go into protective custody until we do.”
Harry considered that, his stomach churning at the very idea. Sure he would have hated to be cut off from Draco, but surely that was better than Voldemort being after his cousin?
“Is that why people have been giving me odd looks?” He asked curiously.
“Who has been giving you odd looks?” Sirius said with interest.
“Some of the older students.” Harry told him. “Draco says that most of their parents are Death Eaters. Does Draco know about this?”
“No,” Sirius shook his head. “Lucius and Narcissa are planning on telling him this week. And yes, I imagine that this is the reason that you are receiving odd looks. You-Know-Who has likely asked some of his younger followers to keep an eye on you.”
Harry’s eyes widened. “They’re Death Eaters? But some of them aren’t even seventeen yet!”
Sirius and Remus both looked upset. “You-Know-Who doesn’t tend to care how old people are, just as long as they’re useful to him.”
It was easy to see why the Malfoys’ Yule Party was considered the event of the year. Not only were the decorations beyond anything Harry had ever seen before, but the guest list was practically a who’s who of the Magical World. Sure Minister Fudge was there, but so were the French, German, Italian, Greek, and Bulgarian Ministers.
Dumbledore wasn’t there, but that was hardly surprising. Draco had told Harry that they sent the older wizard at invite every year, but had never had a response. It was a win, win situation for the Malfoys, not only did they not have to host Dumbledore, but they also got to blame Dumbledore for his absence.
It was a fascinating evening on all accounts. Harry had never had so many adults eager to talk to him. They either wanted to discuss his miraculous defeat of Voldemort as a child or what his plans were once he turned fifteen and became Lord Potter. The most bizarre conversation he had was with Minister Fudge who had seemed to be trying to convince himself that he was still more important that Harry. He reminded Harry of Lockhart and it took all of Harry’s self-control not to prank him in some way.
All in all, Harry spent the majority of the evening thoroughly grateful for all of Cousin Narcissa’s tutoring. There was no way he would have known how to respond to the various adults he talked to without her. His and Draco’s dancing lessons paid off as well and, when Harry wasn’t being drawn into conversations with adults, or talking to his friends, he was dancing with every girl under seventeen, and more than a few older than that. It was surprisingly fun, and definitely better than dancing with Draco as his partner.
Christmas break was over before Harry knew it and then it was back to the busy routine of Hogwarts. Harry, Takashi and Neville were still practising their fencing every morning, as well as running around the lake, and Neville was definitely making good progress. He still wasn’t as good as Harry, but Harry was sure that was only because he had been learning the art for three months longer.
Their wandless practise was going well too. Learning a second wandless spell seemed much easier than their first one had been. Harry hoped that the trend continued – maybe by the time he’d learnt enough spells, learning a new one would only take a few days. Both Harry and Neville had mastered casting the lumos spell wandlessly and had moved onto learning a spell they had learnt in Defence called the Stupefying Charm. It was a lot harder than levitating a twig or creating light, but would be infinitely more useful. Takashi was making progress as well, albeit a lot slower, and was now able to levitate a twig within twenty seconds of meditating.
Professor Snape was still tutoring Harry in Occlumency, though they only met once a fortnight now since Harry’s shielding had become advanced enough to keep even the professor out. Harry was still working on strengthening it, and building more traps in his mind, but Snape was also teaching him how to invent false memories so that he could lie to people casting legilimency on him. At first Harry couldn’t imagine what use that would have, wasn’t the point of Occlumency to keep people out? But then he remembered the way that Lord Malfoy had someone convinced Voldemort that Harry might switch sides. Harry doubted he would ever have to do anything like that, but it would be useful just in case.
Quidditch was going well too and, while Harry very much doubted that Ravenclaw would win the Quidditch Cup, he was definitely still the best seeker in the school – though, Cedric Diggory wasn’t too bad either. The Gryffindor seeker, Ginny Weasley, wasn’t terrible, but she certainly wasn’t living up to the legend of her older brother Charlie.
This was exhibited clearly when Gryffindor played Hufflepuff in February. Gryffindor won, of course, their chasers, beaters, and keeper were well above Hufflepuff’s league, but Cedric was the one who caught the snitch. It was hardly a surprising outcome, though what was surprising (astonishing even) was that Neville decided to sit with Harry, Luna, Draco and their Slytherin friends during the match. Harry wasn’t sure how it had happened, or when it had happened, but Neville seemed to have actually forgiven Draco for being related to Bellatrix. They weren’t friends by any means, but they were able to hold a civilised conversation.
And, when Harry arrived at their Magical Theory Class two days later, he saw the two of them actually sitting next to each other and talking – a vast contrast the usual sight of them sitting with silently with an empty chair, reserved for Harry, between them. As though that wasn’t unbelievable enough, a week later Theo reported that Neville and Draco had actually paired up together in Care of Magical Creatures. Harry wasn’t sure what to think.
After that, Neville started spending more and more time with Harry, Draco, Luna and the Slytherins – even on the weekends. It was a bit awkward for the first week, but as time went on Neville became more and comfortable with the Slytherins.
It probably helped that Pansy wasn’t around much. She had stopped hanging out with them, something that Harry put down to his habit of reprimanding her inappropriate. Well, that, and the fact that Harry had given up and asked Sirius to step in and help. Apparently Sirius had practically threatened Pansy’s father with financial ruin unless he made her stop.
The seventh of April’s edition of the Daily Prophet brought the horrifying news of an Azkaban breakout. Harry didn’t know who was more horrified to see the Lestranges’ names on the list of escapees – Neville or Draco.
Harry looked up from the headline and tried to find Neville’s face amongst the crowd of students sitting at the Gryffindor table. When he eventually found his friend he was glad to see that Neville hadn’t gotten his hands on a paper yet.
Standing up, Harry began to move towards the Gryffindor table before remembering that Draco would probably be upset as well. He stopped and looked towards where his cousin was sitting at the Slytherin table, staring at the Daily Prophet.
“I’ve got him.” Luna told him seriously, standing from her seat. “You go after Neville.”
Harry shot her a grateful smile, before quickly making his way across the hall towards where Neville was sitting.
Then noise in the hall was starting to increase, as people began exclaiming over the headline, and Harry sped up – hoping to get to Neville before he heard the news.
He was too late.
Harry winced as he approached the Gryffindor table and saw Neville staring at someone’s copy of the Daily Prophet, his face ashen.
“Neville?” Harry asked softly, placing his hand on Neville’s shoulder. “Do you want to go for a walk?”
Neville startled under his hand. “Have you seen this?”
Harry looked down at the paper and grimaced at the sight of Bellatrix Lestrange struggling against chains that held her and snarling at the camera. After a few minutes, Bellatrix seemed to lunge towards them and Harry and Neville both flinched out of the way.
“Come on, Neville.” Harry tugged at his shoulder. “Let’s take a walk.”
Neville let the Daily Prophet drop onto the table, before standing up. “Okay.”
They made their way towards the nearest exit, ignoring the confused glances that the Gryffindors who had been sitting near Neville were giving them.
Harry’s first thought had been to lead Neville out of the castle, but then he remembered the rain that had pelted them during their earlier run, and instead led Neville aimlessly through the corridors. He honestly had no idea what to say, what could he say to make Neville feel better?
“How is it possible?” Neville asked weakly after a few minutes. “How could they have escaped? Azkaban’s supposed to be inescapable!”
Harry looked away, unsure what to say. He had no doubt that Voldemort had broken his followers out, but he could hardly tell Neville that. Nobody knew that Voldemort was back, nobody except the Death Eaters, the Order of the Phoenix, and Madame Bones, and maybe that was a good thing.
Harry hated knowing that Voldemort was out there, it made the world a scary place, and part of him wished that he didn’t know. There was nothing he could do – him knowing didn’t make anything better, it just made him more scared. And he didn’t want Neville to be scared too.
“I don’t know.” Harry answered eventually, his stomach squirming uncomfortably at the lie.
“It’s just not fair!” Neville exclaimed suddenly. “I don’t understand why they didn’t get the kiss! They killed people! They tortured my parents! They followed You-Know-Who and Gran says that they weren’t even sorry about it! She says Bellatrix laughed at her trial – laughed!”
Harry opened his mouth to say something – he wasn’t sure what yet – but Neville didn’t wait for a response.
“It’s probably because they were Lestranges!” Neville sneered. “After all, you could hardly kill the Lord, Lady and Heir of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Lestrange. Never mind that they tortured the Heir of the Ancient and Noble House of Longbottom. Ron, Seamus, and Dean are right, traditionalism is stupid!”
“They’re not the only ones who didn’t get the kiss though.” Harry defended. “Did you read the list of names of the other Death Eaters who escaped? Doholov, Mulciber, Rookwood, Travers, Rowle, none of them are from important Houses and they didn’t get the kiss either.”
Neville looked betrayed. “Are you defending them?!”
“Of course not!” Harry snapped, hurt that Neville would even consider that. “I’m not saying that they didn’t deserve the kiss, I’m just saying that you can’t blame traditionalism for the fact that they weren’t.”
Neville looked unimpressed. “I bet Malfoy’s thrilled.”
Harry stopped and grabbed Neville’s arm pulling him around to face him. “Don’t you dare say that to him! Draco’s probably just as upset about this as you are.”
Neville snorted. “I highly doubt that.”
“Get off your high horse, Neville.” Harry snapped. “Yes, it’s awful that they’ve escaped, and yes, you’re allowed to be upset and angry about it. But be angry at them, be angry at Azkaban, be angry at the Minister, but you don’t get to be angry at Draco.”
Neville yanked his arm out of Harry’s grip. “You’re always defending him!”
“Because you’re an arse when it comes to him.” Harry pointed out, trying to calm himself down. “Yes, the people who hurt your parents just broke out of the prison, but so did Draco’s aunt who he absolutely hates. Think about it. Bellatrix isn’t going to come after you, why would she? But there’s good chance that she’ll try and visit her sister – what if she hurts Draco’s mother?”
Neville looked away. “Why would she do that?”
“Because she’s insane.” Harry answered flatly. “And cruel and sadistic. Why would she do anything that she’s done?”
Neville turned and started walking again, Harry quickly fell instep beside him and waited for his friend to speak.
“I hate that he’s related to her.” Neville admitted quietly after a few minutes.
“So does he.” Harry replied softly.
Magical Theory was awkward, with Neville and Draco apparently back to not talking to each other. Harry sat between them and tried to ignore the unsure glances that his friends kept shooting each other when they thought the other person wasn’t looking.
After Magical Theory came lunch, which thankfully meant that Harry had the chance to talk to Draco in Hoth.
“He blames me, doesn’t he?” Draco asked angrily. “As though it’s my fault that she’s escaped!”
“He doesn’t know who to blame.” Harry pointed out.
“So I’m the closest target?” Draco asked, pacing across the room. “No matter that I hate her too. No matter that she’s a bloody pyscho who I don’t remember ever meeting! I’m related to her, so obviously I must be just as bad as she is. Did you see him last class? He wouldn’t even look at me!”
Harry sighed, obviously Draco’s emotions were running just as high as Neville’s. “You just need to give him some time.”
“I shouldn’t have to.” Draco pointed out, falling into a chair.
“No.” Harry honestly had no idea what to say.
“Mother must be upset too.” Draco said after a minute. “She doesn’t talk about Bellatrix much, but I think that she was really awful when they were young too.”
“It would make sense.” Harry shuddered at the idea of growing up with someone like Bellatrix Lestrange. Growing up with the Dursleys had been bad enough.
The awkward silences in Magical Theory continued for the rest of the week and, according to Theo, Draco and Neville weren’t pairing up in Magical Creatures anymore either.
It was unsettling, being in the middle of two fighting friends again, and in a way it actually seemed worse this time since he knew how much better it could be. Thankfully, the ranting had stopped though and, while Neville and Draco still weren’t talking to each other, they weren’t complaining to Harry about it either.
The weekend came and went and Harry was glad for the reprieve from the awkwardness that Magical Theory class had become. The weekend wasn’t much different from normal, except that Neville didn’t come and hang out with him, Draco, and the Slytherins.
Then Monday arrived and Harry prepared himself for the awkwardness again. He spent the walk between Ancient Studies and Magical Theory trying to come up with some kind of strategy to get his friends talking again, only to walk into the classroom to the sight of Draco and Neville laughing together.
“What?” Harry muttered to himself, stopping in his tracks.
“Are you moving or not, Potter?” Granger’s frustrated voice moved him into action and he strode towards the desk that he shared with his friends.
“Merry meet.” Harry greeted them as casually as he could.
“Merry meet.” They both agreed easily.
Harry carefully took his seat and looked between them in confusion. Should he say something? Ask why they were talking to each other again, maybe? Or just be glad that they were and leave it at that?
“Draco has some great ideas about things we could do to the Lestranges.” Neville commented with a dark grin.
“So does, Neville.” Draco added. “Did you know there are plants that eat human skin? Apparently if you give a human to one of them they will keep them alive and conscious while they peel off their skin piece by piece.”
Harry grimaced at the image. “Gross.”
“But deserved.” Neville said darkly, sharing a glance with Draco. “Draco was just telling me about a spell that summons Dementors. Maybe that way we could ensure that they get the kiss when they’re caught.”
Harry stared at his friend. “What?”
“We won’t actually do any of these things.” Neville assured him, looking a bit unsure. “It’s just nice to dream.”
“About torturing people?” Harry whispered incredulously.
Draco rolled his eyes. “Don’t be so dramatic, Harry.”
Harry opened his mouth to reply, but the last student had apparently arrived because Professor Kilsby stood up and immediately began teaching – not even bothering to take the roll.
As he took notes, Harry couldn’t help but feel relieved that his friends were talking again – even if it was about ways to torture people. Which admittedly, was a bit worrying, but it wasn’t as though Harry hadn’t spent some time dreaming about Voldemort finally being defeated. Besides, Neville was one of the nicest people that Harry knew – so he didn’t really have any concern that they might actually try and enact their plans.
Harry used the mirror to call Sirius that night and told him about Draco and Neville’s reconciliation. Sirius seemed to think it was more amusing that anything else, but he did take the time to point out that a life focussed on revenge wasn’t all that healthy.
After that, Sirius told him a bit about what had been happening at the Wizengamot and Ministry since the Azkaban Escape. Apparently, despite the fact that Voldemort had clearly broken his followers out, Fudge was still refusing to acknowledge that he was back.
Sirius said that it was probably because Fudge was more worried about looking good than protecting the country. Apparently, Fudge had told Madame Bones, who had told Lord Malfoy, who had told Sirius, that he didn’t want to be the Minister responsible for letting Voldemort come back.
Harry didn’t think he had ever heard such a stupid argument in his life. What did it matter whose fault it was the Voldemort was back? Denying his return wasn’t going to stop people from dying! Harry decided, not for that first time, that once he had taken his seat in the Wizengamot he would do everything he could to help Sirius and Lord Malfoy get rid of Fudge.
The final Quidditch game of the season was between Gryffindor and Slytherin and, while Ravenclaw was currently in second place for the Quidditch Cup, he doubted they would be by the end of the game. Harry might be better than both their seekers, but the Slytherin and Gryffindor chasers, beaters, and keeper were all better than the Ravenclaw ones. Chances were the game would go on for a long time, points would be accumulated, and Ravenclaw would come third again.
Harry watched the game with envy – he wished that the Ravenclaw team’s chasers were that good. Maybe then, Ravenclaw might actually have a chance at winning the cup. The game went on for three hours, mostly because neither seeker was particularly good (Harry had seen the snitch twice before Ginny Weasley spotted it), and in the end Gryffindor won the game. It was inevitable really, if only because the Weasley twins were way out of the Slytherin beaters’ league.
Harry took no joy in being right, but the long game, and good chasers, meant that both teams scored enough points easily take first and second place in the Quidditch Cup. Jeremy looked devastated when he worked that out, but Harry wasn’t sure how the older boy hadn’t predicted that outcome.
The end of year exams approached quickly, and Harry found it difficult to have so many exams to study for. How was he supposed to remember facts about ten different subjects? It was enough to consider dropping Ancient Studies the next year. Sure the subject was interesting, but Harry had yet to learn anything that seemed even vaguely applicable. It was more like history than anything, though the professor was definitely more interesting that Professor Binns.
Though, according to Remus, they might not have to put up with Binns for much longer. Apparently, Sirius had managed to get himself a seat on the Hogwarts Board of Governors (a fact that Harry already knew) and had made replacing Binns his first priority. Harry thought that Remus was probably hoping that Sirius would succeed, if only so that he could apply for position. After all, everyone knew there was a curse on the Defence Position – so Remus would be leaving at the end of the year one way or another.
Harry’s first exam was Magical Theory, then he had Charms, and then Potions and before he knew it, he had taken his final exam (Fourth Year Ancient Runes) and it was almost time to go home.
It was weird to feel so excited about the idea of leaving Hogwarts for the summer. It was wasn’t that he didn’t love Hogwarts, because he did, but now he knew that he had Sirius waiting at Grimmauld Place for him. No longer did summer mean three months as the Dursleys’ House Elf, and he wasn’t filled with the same apprehension he had felt the year before about living with Sirius. Instead, he couldn’t help but feel excited at the idea of spending another three months with his godfather, and Remus, both of whom he knew loved him.
This the end of ‘Harry Potter and the Interlude’, but the first chapter of the next story in this series ‘Harry Potter with the Power The Dark Lord Knows Not’ has already been posted – so go check it out on the series page.