Harry landed back at the house, the other two behind him slightly.  Harry looked around, seeing some shimmer of an extra wing to the house.  He walked in and to the portrait gallery.  "Aunt?" he called.  The other paintings woke up and stared at him.  "Aunt Eleanor told me to come back down to fetch something for the school's distress fund."

Cordelia showed up.  "Slytherin was all but destroyed thanks to a broken window," she said.  The whole family shuddered.  "Harry and the boys did very good getting the others out of there, and then Harry kindly got the paintings out of the way when the Head of House reminded him."  Harry grinned at her for telling them that.  "He is very heroic."

"We're trying to break that streak," Draco assured her.  "Before it gets us all dead.  Did he tell you about his first year's battle against the ghoul of Voldemort?"

Cordelia stared at him.  "Excuse me?  There was a ghoul of him?"

"He had parts of his soul stored around so he didn't die," Eleanor said as she reappeared.  "He was living on the back of the defense teacher's head that year."  The others stared at her for a moment, then at the boys, who all nodded.  "The Headmaster charmingly told the boys not to worry about his curse scar being set off."

"Then the git came for the stone the Headmaster had hidden so Harry, Hermione, and I went to stop him," Ron said with a grin.

Draco looked at Ron.  "I will chain you two up if you should attempt to do something that dumb again.  Before we all die."  He looked at the aunts.

"I have some wonderful chains that can't be magicked off, Draco.  Of course you may borrow them," Cordelia said with a smile.

Harry snorted.  "Fat chance he won't end up in them," Harry said dryly.  "Not like he can fight all that well," he said when the family stared at him.  "If it needs done....."

"There's teachers for that," Eleanor told him.  "Someone clearly missed pointing that out to you."

"Which is why last year it took us, while we were in the infirmary, to figure out it was a basilisk roaming around the school petrifying people," Draco told them.  "It took them over a month to figure it out when we told them."

Eleanor stared at him.  "Why was there such a creature anywhere *near* the school, boys?"

"The Chamber of Secrets," Ron said with a happy grin.  "The Dark Lord was trying to take over Ginny with this journal that had part of his soul in it so he could be brought back.  When they finally found it, Bill had it destroyed."

She stared at him then at Harry, who nodded.  "What happened?"

"I made them tell Snape," Draco said simply.  "That way we were not in that much more danger.  We were second years.  We didn't know enough magic and Potter can't use a sword if it had needed beheading."

Aunt Eleanor squeezed the bridge of her nose.  "I had no idea I could still have migraines in this state.  We'll talk to someone about that later," she decided.  The others nodded they would be *talking* to someone later.  She looked back at the founder of the family line.  "I need to let Harry into the vault so we can transfer something to Hogwarts for the rebuilding of the house."

"He is our only heir," he decided.  "Even if he isn't like some of us."

"He's definitely the white cat of the family," Ron agreed.

"Usually it's sheep," Eleanor told him with a smirk.

"Harry and I can't always follow orders when they're dumb or counter-productive.  So we're lap cats."  He beamed back.

She looked at the others, who were snickering.  "I can tell.  How did you end up following our nephew into a tournament of challenges?"

"The git can't do it on his own," Ron told her dryly.

"Draco, were you there?"

"No, we were cheering when the Gryffindor hero ended up in the infirmary for a few days."  He smirked evilly at her.  "Before this bond, we were not friends.  Weasley and I were enemies and Potter joined the wrong side."

Harry sighed, looking at him.  "Why would I want to be friends with the snot you were our first year, Draco?  You were an annoying little craphead with delusions of being a better wizard than anyone else in the school, even the upper years.  You were a parrot for your father's viewpoints on purebloods, which is really annoying to hear when they're your friends, and you decided to dismiss the only friend I'd made so far at that point."

"Him?" Draco snorted, pointing at Ron.

"Hagrid."  Draco opened his mouth but shook his head.  "You've become much more tolerable now that you don't spout off things that annoy the hell out of us.  Especially about Hermione."

"She really doesn't deserve to be in the same school most of the purebloods belong in," he defended, looking pissed as hell.

"That's why she's got better grades than most of you?" Ron asked dryly.  "Why she was doing fifth year potions last year?"  Draco gaped.  "Every family started out unblooded.  It's their ability to breed true that made them purebloods.  Plenty of our class will end up having squibs.  It probably won't be her though.  Even if she marries a muggle."

"Fine, whatever, I do not feel like arguing this point with you.  Though the blood had to start somewhere."

"Probably from a magical creature or one of the older lines of magic," Harry told him.  "The old rites that used earth magic instead of wands.  By the way, according to one of the history books, Merlin was an unblooded wizard too."  Draco went pale, shaking his head.  Harry went to get the book and brought it back to hand over.

Draco found the section and looked at it, mouth falling open and squeaky noises coming out.  "How in the hell!"

"Exactly," Harry said simply.  "Every generation has people who are different.  Everyone should be judged on what you do with the power you have, not the way it got into you.  Like Neville has fairly weak magic for some areas but he's wonderful in herbology and could probably grow nearly anything."

Draco stared at him.  "You're serious?"  Harry nodded.  "What about your family's connections?"  He closed the book.

"Why should it matter what your father did?" Harry asked.  "That's just enforcing the whole 'ministry is full of idiots' problem because they get hired by relatives already in the Ministry who're dumb.  If we got judged on what we do, and how much power we have, and what we do with that power, it'd be a more honest place to live.  It might take some of your father's fun away but maybe, just maybe, we'd have less idiots in charge."

"My father is fairly powerful, Potter," Draco said dryly.

"Harry's stronger than I was," Eleanor said.  "He's right, it should be that way if the world were perfect."

"Unfortunately the world is run by idiots who brag more about what their ancestors did than what they've done," Harry finished.  "It's also that viewpoint that lets people like my uncle into positions of power."

Draco nodded once.  "Well, until you remake society, Potter, the system's going to stay broken."

"Then see what you can do to find the strongest, more able wizards in each field," Ron said.  "Half the Slytherins aren't as powerful as Hermione is."

Harry nodded.  "Dean's more powerful than a good third of them."

Draco looked confused.  "No they're not."

"Yeah, they are," Ron said dryly.  "Hermione's more powerful than I am."  Draco gaped, staring at him.  Both other boys nodded.

"Interbreeding is bad for people, the same way it is for sheep," one of the cousins called.  "That's why all the pureblood with the most power should be made to marry muggle-born ones who're strong.  Adds new life to the magic in the blood."  Draco looked at him.  "Don't worry, boy, you already have by being bonded with our nephew."

Harry nodded.  "My mum wasn't blooded.  My father...."  He waved a hand at the wall of paintings.

Draco considered that.  "Why did your parents marry?  Was it arranged?"

"No.  It was a love match," Harry said.

"We wouldn't have fought James that much as long as his girl was good to him," Eleanor admitted.  "We have married some extraordinary half-bloods over the centuries, Draco.  It's what keeps us so strong."

Harry looked at her.  "Mum was muggle-born, thank you."

She nodded.  "And you're one of the strongest of your generation, Harry.  Also the most stubborn from what Remus told us."

Draco considered that, looking at Weasley.  "You're not that unpowerful."

"I'm about midway for the House," he admitted.  "In my areas I'm better than more than that.  Same as Neville is in his."

"Half of Ravenclaw can't use a wand with any accuracy," Harry offered.  "Neither can some of Slytherin's first year."

Draco considered that, examining it. The whole house had complained that the first years would be a weak year.  Then he looked at them.  "They're all pure."

"Riddle wasn't and he was one of the strongest in his year," Harry said.  "Half and three-quarters are a lot stronger than the simple pureblood.  How many of the kids in the school are related to you, Draco?"

He grimaced.  "Too many for my comfort."  He shuddered.  "We'll shelve this topic until you can argue blood rights with my father, Potter.  He's better at that sort of thought and logic is more my Mother's area than mine."

Harry shrugged.  "Sure."  He looked at the paintings.  "Now that we're done with this fight."  Eleanor gave him an odd look.  "What?"

"Just like that?"

"He's going to think, talk to his parents, argue the points we gave him, and then Lucius will ground him for thinking," Ron said with a shrug.

"My father does want me to question and learn," Draco said dryly.  "He won't be upset that I bring a logical argument in front of him to work out my own thoughts.  He may not like the subject matter but he'll argue the point with me so I learn."  He shifted the book in his arms.  "Shall we so we can eat?  I'm hungry and I don't know why."

Ron shrugged.  "Sorry, mine I think."

Eleanor sighed but got Harry inducted into the wards. They all saw the door at the end of the hallway appear and Harry went to look.  Eleanor switched paintings to keep up with the trio.  She ended up in the portrait on her crypt.  The boys stared at her.  "This way we're reminded of our mortality."

"I know I can die," Harry assured her quietly.  "I've nearly been there a few times in the last few years."

She looked at him.  "Don't tell me that.  I'll destroy that old man."  He grinned.  "This way, boys."  She led them to a sealed room, opening it for them.  "You can't get into this room until you're older."  If they decided to let him into the rest of the wards.  Harry breathed as he looked around.  Ancient paintings and artwork.  A few nice pieces of jewelry laying on the tables.  A few on small stone pillars.  She pointed.  "Get the red one."

Harry walked over to it and picked it up, looking it over.  "Are you sure we want to give this to the school, Aunt Eleanor?  I doubt anyone could buy it from them."

She sighed, moving as close as she could.  "It's large but it can be useful for spells, Harry."

He looked at her.  Ron answered.  "Jobs are in the crapper right now," he told her.  "Even Draco's father works."

Draco nodded.  "Mostly to hold our social position secure but he does.  The Ministry has been complained about because the jobs available to graduates are less each year unless they go muggle."

She stared at them.  "Honestly?"  They all nodded.  "Why?"

"Because they're insistent that we stay stuck in the old ways," Ron said simply.  "My father's job was the last innovation or updating they did at the ministry and that was when he was just starting out, over twenty years ago."  She shuddered.  "We still use quill pens and the muggles have went far past that according to him.  Including solid tipped fountain pens.  My father uses those at work instead of quills.  They can even hold ink so you don't have to keep dipping them."

Harry looked at him, shaking his head.  "They have whole realms of pens outside of those, Ron.  Ball pens, with little rollers at the tip, gel ink ones that write smoothly, all sorts of pens."  Ron gave him an odd look.  "We'll see sometime soon I'm sure."  He grinned.  "After all, I need to go clothes shopping this holiday.  Cheaper to do it muggle."  He looked at his aunt, who had just sighed.  "It is."

"Cheap isn't always best, Harry."

"No, but if I'm going to outgrow it in a few months, then it makes no sense to get good clothes," he countered.

"True," she admitted.

"Most wizarding clothes, outside of robes, are like muggle clothes, only muggle clothes go on sale now and then so even the really good stuff is cheaper."

"Oh, I didn't realize that."  She shrugged.  "We'll talk about that later."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Thank you."  She pointed.  "Try that blue box."  He put the gemstone down and picked up the box to open it, gasping in pleasure.  She smiled.  "That should fetch a pretty penny.  It was a diplomatic gift back when I was the Minister."  She smirked evilly.  "Doing so would make very clear who it came from."

"If you're sure," Harry said.  "Will anyone get mad?"

"No.  If they do, you let me talk to them, dear."

"Yes, Aunt Eleanor."  He smiled and looked around.  "Are those journals?"

She looked then shrugged.  "It never interested me."  He went over to look.  "Are they?"

"From F. I. Potter mostly."

"That would be the grandson of the first Potter, Harry."  He looked at her.  "Back in the very old days, you were a first name from a town, not a last name."  He nodded he knew that.  "Then you became known for what you did for a living.  The line's founder made capturing boxes and pots."  He grinned.  "That was his grandson's but I remember being told he was whiny."

Harry found the first one.  "May I?"

"Of course.  It'll give you some more family history."  She smiled because it might make him like the rest of the family more, or try to fit in better.  She did despair that Harry would never fit in around the house.

Ron looked at something, then held it up.  "What's this for?"

She looked.  "That's a chastity belt.  They were started in the nineteenth century for paranoid men who believed everyone would want what they had.  Usually because they knew they weren't pleasing their wives so they'd look elsewhere."  Draco coughed, shaking his head to keep from laughing.  "It's the truth.  That one is actually for a male, Ron.  To keep a son from siring multiple children on the village girls."

"Eww."  He put it down carefully, making her laugh.  "Should've had my mum.  She'd just beat us to death."  Eleanor cackled and nodded.

Harry smiled.  "Nothing I'll have to worry about for a long time."  He looked at his aunt.  "Can we explore the rest of this wing tomorrow?  Ron's about to eat one of us."

"Of course.  Go eat, boys."  They went to scrounge in the kitchen.  The family watched from the hallway - no paintings in the kitchen - and wondered why Harry knew how to cook like a house elf.  They had a conference later that night once the boys were in bed to try to figure that out.  How had Harry learned to cook?  The one aunt who had used Draco to do a memory review grimaced when she butted in and told them how he knew.  She told them it explained the boy's temper too.  They considered all the facts and decided someone had to torture Harry's maternal aunt and her family.  They did have minions again....  Eleanor went to talk to Narcissa about them.  She was a mother, she'd understand their concerns.


Harry walked into the Headmaster's office, looking at him.  "We're back."

"What did she have you fetch?" the Headmaster asked, ignoring the Minister for a minute.  Harry pulled out the box and handed it over.  He opened it and sighed, smiling.  "That's a beautiful donation, Mr. Potter.  Thank her for me?"

"Of course."

"What is that for?" the Minister for Magic demanded.

"To fix all the damage that was done to Slytherin when the window broke and half the lake ended up inside it," Harry told him.

"How did you get it?" he sneered.

"My aunt."

"She's...."  He snatched it to look over.  "This is Ministry property!" he said firmly.

"It's not.  Aunt Eleanor said it was hers.  She got it when she was a Minister."  Fudge sneered harder at that.  Harry, tired from the trip and a bit portkey sick, decided he'd go with Draco's plan for staying out of conflicts.  "Aunt Eleanor?" he called, looking at the paintings.  Cordelia showed up.  "Cousin, he wants to talk to Eleanor about how she got that.  He thinks it's Ministry property."

"It was given as a diplomatic gift," he huffed.

Eleanor sighed as she showed up.  "I know he did.  He gifted it to me on my birthday, right before he and his wife joined me in a wonderful birthday celebration in my suite," she said with a smirk.  Fudge spluttered.  She stared at him.  "It was a personal gift, not a gift to the Ministry.  I checked to make sure and he would not mind in the least if it was sold to help the House since he was part of the House himself.  He used to sneak his wife in through the inter-house library as a matter of fact.  We had all sorts of fun in there.  Nephew, you really do have to take that into consideration.  Some day the family will want heirs."

"After all this stuff is done and after I've graduated," he said firmly.  "If I ever figure out what use girls are."

She smiled.  "That is sensible and we adore that.  Perhaps the adaptation from the bonding spell?"

He shrugged.  "That's up to him.  I have less idea about that than I do girls."

"We'll teach you, dear," she promised with a smile.

"There are not supposed to be any assignations in the school," the Headmaster warned.

She stared at him.  "In your day, that was how half the witches got married, Dumbledore.  The same as it was in mine."

"We've moved into a more modern time now," he said firmly.

"Yeah, because the muggle world has birth control," Harry told him.   "That's reliable too."  He looked at her.  "I'll let you two argue about that.  I need to sleep.  It's a long portkey, so may I please be excused, Headmaster."  Fudge opened his mouth and Harry stared at him.  "You're not the Headmaster, Minister Fudge.  This isn't your school or your office.  I don't have to ask your permission."

"Go," the Headmaster agreed, smiling at him.  "Mrs. Mercator, his temper has been showing more recently.  What did you teach him?"

"That's mostly his mates.  We really do want to talk to the one who did that to them, and some others."  She smiled sweetly and Fudge whimpered.  "Give it back," she ordered.  He handed it back and fled.  "Thank you for not making my paint stink," she called after him.  "I must get the new minions to deal with him."

"Mr. Potter is not your minion," he pointed out.

"Of course he's not.  Lucius is lending us a few of his."  She smirked.   "The gifter of that one would probably buy it back for his daughter, who is in Brazil going to school."  The headmaster nodded at that information.  "Especially if you tell him why.  He'd probably give you a very good deal for it."  She smirked.  "That should outfit at least two dorms and the common room."

"It should, yes.  I did want to talk to you about your plans for Mr. Potter."

She stared at him.  "Yes, we wanted to talk to you about the same thing, Dumbledore."  He looked stunned.  "Why did a trio of first years take on a dark lord's ghoul?"

"I wasn't here."

"Why would you hide something like that here?  In a school full of children?"

"Gringotts got broken into," he explained.

"Afterward.  We asked and read the accounts."  He nodded at that.  "I'm supposing you heard?"  He nodded.  "Then why guard it with tests a first year could get through?"

"The teachers chose their own defenses."

She stared at him.  "Then we clearly need to hire better teachers who want to push the students farther ahead.  Three first years should not be able to get into any hidden area of that school.  We couldn't.  Your class probably couldn't."

"No, we were more restrictive in my years."

"Hmm.  You're plenty restrictive, Dumbledore, but your teachers aren't as qualified as they used to be.  The old bat in Transfiguration, Flitwick - the midget, and a few others like Snape.  The rest... we're not sure if they graduated."

"Teaching is not considered the noble art it used to be.  Those sort don't apply."

She stared at him.  "Then recruit, Dumbledore."  She walked off shaking her head.  "We'll be working on why no one has any jobs waiting when they graduate as well.  That way our nephew's spouses will have jobs waiting."

He huffed.  He hated that woman and most of the Potter family.  Damn the boy for bringing them back into consciousness.


Draco met his father in the front hall the next mid-morning.  "Father."  Lucius looked at his son, nodding slightly.  The other members of the Board walked in.  "May I borrow him to look over something for a moment?" he asked politely.  He walked Lucius off, handing over the book, bookmark in place.  "That information is making my head hurt."

Lucius read the section, frowning.  "What?" he muttered.  Draco nodded.  "Where did you find this?"

"The Potter family library, Father.  I need to argue with someone logically to work my mind around it.  Potter and Weasley are off on a non-real world where people are looked at for their personal accomplishments instead of their family with their accomplishments and it's giving me a headache to think of such thoughts," he said quietly.

He stared at his son.  "If this information is correct it could change some things."

Draco led him father off to tell him about that conversation.  He knew the other two knew he was telling his father but they knew Lucius would fight back this disease of thought they had put in his head.

Lucius considered it.  "I believe that there may be some point to some of it, that exceptional individuals to appear randomly every few years.  I do believe that they have discounted some who were not in their specific viewpoint."

"Father, the last one was Riddle," he said quietly, glancing around.  "He wasn't one of us."

Lucius nodded.  "That is true, but a great many of us are powerful.  We're simply less open about it because we learned discretion and that showing that point got us attention."

Draco shook his head.  "No, Harry's stronger than Weasley and I together," he hissed, glancing at the person coming their way.   "Even Eleanor has said that."

Lucius sighed.  "He is?  She's sure?"

"After he lost that impressive temper of his down there over the arguing going on, which admittedly I set off slightly," he said.  "He destroyed a good portion of the gardens in three simple blasts."

Lucius grimaced.  "There's ways to find out how powerful one is.  I'll talk to Severus about that.  If he's *that* strong, then he'll need extra lessons."

"They had a point that some people are stronger in a single area?"

"Of course.  No one can be great at everything.  Look at Longbottom.  His whole family is good in herbology, Draco."

"That was the example they used as well.  May we discuss this when you have time?"

"I can," he decided.  He patted him on the shoulder.  "It is very mature to bring these things to me so we can discuss what is really logical and what is not.  Using inferior logic will stunt your mental growth and I would hate that."  He walked off, taking the book with him.  It got put into his pocket for later reading.  That was an interesting look at history but he had no idea if it was correct or not.

Draco went back to his study period, still thinking.  Ron slid down a piece of peppermint candy, earning a nod of thanks.  "Can't think heavy things without something to chew on," Ron said quietly.  "Plus it helps the stomach."  He went back to his potions essay.

Draco put the candy into his mouth and got back to his own homework.  His head was still full of things that he had no idea about.  It was quite strange.


Severus Snape stopped the trio before dinner, staring at them.  "There are rumors that one of you is abnormally strong as well as stubborn."  Ron and Draco both pointed at Harry.  "I knew that."  They quit pointing.  "There is a way to tell."

"But if it gets out, people will start rumors again," Harry pointed out quietly, glancing at the students walking past them.

"Also true," Snape agreed.  "Thank you for using logic.  There are ways to tell that no one can eavesdrop on."  He handed Draco a small book.  "That way you can do so in private so no one need find out."

Draco nodded, putting it into his pocket.  "Thank you, Professor.  I had been wondering about that information myself."

Snape looked at him.  "You look like a mush-minded newling, Draco.  Why?"

"Some thoughts and possible facts came to me during an argument in front of the family this weekend.  Including that Merlin was unblooded?"

Snape stared at him.  "I don't think the pureblood families were more than starting out back then," he admitted, considering it.

"We know Riddle was a half-blood," Draco continued.  "So's Potter."

"He was tainted by the Dark Lord through that curse scar," Ron said.  "That one I'll argue there might be a reason."

Snape shook his head.  "Contagion does not work that way, Mr. Weasley."

"But the Headmaster said that's why I can speak to snakes," Harry said quietly.

Snape stared at him.  "No."  He scowled.  "That is not why."  He looked inside then at the boy.  "You will do that in my presence so that we may see.  It will factor into things like occulmencary lessons."  They all nodded.  "I do not have detentions tonight."  He walked in and went to his seat.

Draco looked at Potter.  "It shouldn't be hard."  He went to his own seat to eat.  Weasley was starving again.  So they all ate too much.   He checked the book a few times but it was still in his pocket.  Pansy gave him an odd look.  "He's teaching us some healing potions later," he said quietly.  "In case we need them for some strange, Potterish reason."  She snorted, shaking her head.

Goyle leaned closer.  "Is this year's threat already done with?"

"I hope so," Draco admitted quietly.  "Before I get an ulcer."  They all smiled at him.   "All his family have now agreed that Potter is the white cat of the family."  They all cackled at that image.  "Weasley nailed that description."  He got seconds, frowning at his plate.  He glared at Weasley, mentally nagging him about how they were all going to get fat from him wanting too much food.  Harry snapped back to put up his shields if he didn't want to deal with it.  Draco did and it was better.  Though he knew not to waste food.  So he had seconds, Potter had seconds, and Weasley had fourths.  They met up down in the dungeons afterward.  Draco stared at Ron.  "How do you eat that much?"

"I only got a sandwich for lunch," he defended.  "I'm also growing again."

"You're going to need to be as big as Hagrid for all that food."

"I get plenty of exercise," he defended.

"Chasing after Potter?" Draco shot back sarcastically.

Harry stared at him.  Then he rolled his eyes and walked off, heading toward the back sections of the dungeon.  "Let me go find a vise to put my head in so I don't have to listen to you two," he muttered as he walked off.

"Down three more doors, take a right, then three left hallways later, take that one," Draco called helpfully.  Harry just waved a finger salute back at him.

Ron looked at him.  "There's torture equipment down there?"

"He wanted a vise.  There's one for some bigger, harder potion ingredients in that storage area."

"You're certifiable," Ron decided.  "Harry?" he called, following.  "Please don't squish your head.  You'll mess up the princess' hair."

Snape coughed.  "This does no good if the boy is elsewhere."

Draco thought at him.  "He's coming back this way with Weasley."

"How charming," Snape sneered.  They waited on the boys to get back there.  "If you don't like what's in his mind that much, build better shields, Potter."

"Tell him that," he said, pointing at Draco.  "He was the one nagging Ron about being in a growth spurt and being hungry.  Apparently it'll ruin his figure."

"Enough," Snape ordered.  They stopped.  "Build your shields higher.  It'll save all of our sanity.  Because you three are enough to drive all of us there."  He pointed in the classroom, making them go that way.  He got them into the storage area and let Draco set the spell while he worked on papers at his desk.  He saw the glow snap into being and glanced in there.  Draco was glowing silverish gold.  Fairly powerful but not enormous personal power yet.  He'd have to teach him how to build his stamina in that area.  Weasley read about the same level.  Potter, he was glowing white.  Painfully bright white light.  "Cancel it," he ordered quietly.  They canceled the spell.  He looked at Potter.  "What did you do to gain more power, Mr. Potter?"

Harry looked at him.  "As far as I know, nothing.  Unless the Headmaster was right about it coming from when I nearly beat Voldemort as an infant."

Snape stared at him, then shook his head.  "Contagion, even if you had absorbed some of his power during that disastrous spell, would not account for that."

"Living in a cupboard do it?" he asked dryly.  "Being treated like a house elf?"

"No, not as far as I know."  He found another spell in the book and cast it at the boy, reading things from his muted aura.  There was not much of anything except a few runes.  He wrote them down and switched the spell, which brought back the white light, but muted because he didn't need blinded.  He stared at him then cast it at Draco.  The same things without the runes.  Snape canceled the spell and grabbed a runes textbook to look them up.

"The spell his parents did?" Ron guessed.

"Perhaps."  He read them, then stared at the boy.  "Did no one see that you were marked when Weasley brought down the cursebreaker?"

"No, he said he removed all the spells," Harry said.  "Am I?"

"Indeed."  He moved to the floo to call the bank.  That was what one did when they needed a cursebreaker.  The head cursebreaker came on and he held up the runes he had copied down.  "I found those in a student's aura after one of your teachers had spell cleaned him."

"When did they get there?"

"The boy has no knowledge of it and I believe it's been pushing his temper to explode."

"Let me come through, Professor."  He stepped through and came to check the boy over.  He found most of the runes but Snape showed him what he had seen.  He stared then got that same teacher.  If anyone knew that stuff, he did.  He showed up and looked then groaned and stripped that off.  "Is it recent?" he asked.

"Within months," he said grimly.  He looked at the Professor, seeing the notes he held.  "That's only half that."  He finished removing the spell.  Harry looked less angry, less powerful by a little bit, and a whole lot more tired.  "Fucking morons."  He walked off to make notes.  "I'll owl Bill Weasley, boys."

"Thank you, sir," Harry called.  "You as well," he told the other one.  "Any idea who put that on?"

"We'll investigate it, kids."  He left to get that information.  They were required by law to hand over such incidences.

"Well," Draco said, looking at him.

"Could it have been when the Dark Lord came back?" Harry asked quietly.  "Or why?"

"Why, definitely," Snape admitted.  He called Narcissa.  She was the brains in that family.  He held up the runes.  "The curse breaker who cleaned the spells off the boys found those on Mr. Potter a minute ago."

She took them to look over, then at him.  "Are they reporting it?"  He nodded.  "Good.  If I find out who did it this time I'm going to be quite peeved."  She disappeared.  Her poor boy was probably shuddering in a corner but she wasn't upset with him.  This time.

"I have seen my mother take a whip to someone in that humor," Draco admitted, curled up around his knees.  "I never want to see such again."

"Me either from the flashes of memory I'm seeing," Ron said, shuddering.  "My mum just gets loud."

"Mother can't indulge in her temper that way.  It's unseemly for a woman of her station," Draco said.  He looked at Potter.  "Who wants to kill you now?"

"Take a guess beyond the obvious?" he said with a small shrug then a yawn.   "We should tell Remus."

"Go to bed, Mr. Potter.  I'll inform your Godmutt of that information."  Harry glared but knew they had to go before Snape got meaner.  Snape went to the Defense classroom, finding Remus reading at his desk.  He picked up some chalk and wrote the runes out on the board.

Remus came to look.  "Which one?  I would expect Ron."

"Potter."  He handed him the chalk.  "Narcissa knows.  We had them removed by the same one William used."

"That's fine then," he said a bit too calmly.  "Perhaps I'll help her tie someone to the center quidditch hoop and flay them from our brooms."  He erased them and went to write her an owl.  Snape walked off shaking his head.  Really, people should know better than to mess with Narcissa's boy.  She got peeved and people bled a lot for it.


Narcissa got the owl and wrote back a simple 'I won't need help, thank you for the kind offer and the charming idea I'll use on the next one' response before leaving the house that day.  She went to the bank first.  The curse breaker was in his office.  "Have we found out who endangered my son through his unfortunate marriage?" she asked.

He looked at her.  "I couldn't tell a signature, Mrs. Malfoy.  I've turned over the investigation to the aurors."

"Thank you.  Let me know if you should find more."  She walked off, going to the aurors.  She hadn't been there before but they all knew her at the Ministry thanks to Lucius' position.  She walked in and smiled.  "A curse on a young, male student who happens to be mated to my son against both their wills was turned over.  I would like to see the evidence so I can talk to someone about it.  Hopefully to prevent another occurrence."

The desk auror pointed.  "It was given to her, Mrs. Malfoy," he said.

She nodded her thanks and went to talk to that one.  Tonks had gotten it and while Narcissa didn't like her sister's daughter by a muggle she decided this time she was usefully placed.  "Nymphadora," she said quietly.  Her niece flinched, staring at her.  "You have the case on that curse that was applied to my son's bondmate?"

"I haven't been able to do much on it yet," she hesitated, glancing around.

Narciassa smiled.  "I wish to know what it was so I can hopefully prevent it happening again."

"The boys could use some better shields between them," she admitted.  "I talked to the Professor this morning and he said so.  The curse breaker didn't get more than a male put it on.  Could've been a few dozen that he has access to."

"Hmm."  She took the file to read the full account and report, nodding at the end and handing it back.  "Thank you, Nymphadora.  It will definitely be prevented in the future."  She walked off.  She knew who had done that.  She'd seen him doing it to others.   Peter Pettigrew had better hope he had already been kissed.  If not.... he'd wish he was.


Lucius came up to the aurors' department to gather his wife.  "Is she under arrest?" he asked calmly.

"No, sir," the desk auror said.  "Saved us some energy by making him confess to other cases that we had open."  He swallowed at the Malfoy Look of Doom.  "He did admit to cursing Potter, sir."

Narcissa looked up from finishing off her new nail polish.  "He was most problematic, Lucius my dear.  Cursing Potter did curse our son and one of these days that energy would come out to hurt our boy."  She stood up, magically drying her nails and putting her polish back in her purse.  She closed it with a snap and looked at her husband again.  "I dare say no one will ever put a curse near our son again.  Shall we go home?  I had the house elves make roast tonight."  She took his arm and walked him off.  "I had them make those baby carrots you adore as well."  She smiled at him.

He smiled back.   "That sounds wonderful, dear."  Even though he hated carrots.  The pot roast was good and would keep his mouth occupied for hours of chewing so he couldn't complain or make her go shopping to destress.  "Was he any trouble, dear?"

"No, not in the least."  She smirked at him once they were in the elevator.  "He simply gave in very quickly.  Most unsatisfying really.  But it shall not happen again."  Lucius smiled at her for that help.  "We must test Mr. Potter as well.  The cursebreaker said that the aura exploring showed that he was very strong.  We should see how strong and if we want to make our heir carry the next one for him instead of having a surrogate mistress."

"We can do that during the holidays.  I doubt the boys want to stay at the castle."  She beamed at him.  "They'll need to do a bit of shopping too.  Draco's letter this morning complained that Mr. Weasley was growing and eating enormous amounts of food that were going to make him fat."

"I'm sure our son will work it off somehow, dear."  They went back to the house through the floo.  She did enjoy the pot roast so much when the house elves were ordered to make it.


Dumbledore was sent the notice for Mr. Potter.  He carried it to him during dinner, handing it over.  "From the Aurors, Harry."

Harry opened the letter, looking at the information.  He sighed.  "Draco, letter from the aurors," he said.  Draco came over to get it and walked back reading it.  He suddenly shuddered.  "Thank you, Headmaster."  He got back to dinner.  "I'm sure it won't be happening again now that he's gone."

"Quite."  He went to his chair and looked at Severus.  "It's official, Mr. Pettigrew is no longer an issue in the boy's life," he said quietly.

"With the curse we found that he had placed, I'm not surprised," he admitted.  "Malfoy?"  Draco brought him the letter, letting him read it.  He knew the subtle hints that Narcissa had lost her temper.  Clearly a mess.  "Better for society anyway," he said, handing it back.

"Thank you, Professor."  He went back to his seat.  The letter got put into his bag and he drafted a letter to his mother while he ate.  He almost wished the house elves here made their pot roast the same way they did at home but some people would probably complain it wasn't soft enough.  He'd put up with mushy meat for the rest of the year then go home to real meat done the way he wanted it to be done.  His mother would make sure his first night back would have steak.  She always did.


Draco looked at Harry that night, then at their bed.  "Can someone maybe beg the castle so I don't have to sleep with you two?"

"Slytherin should be fixed in a few days," Harry said, half asleep.  "Unless you want to find that other dormitory tower and see if it's any better."

Draco stared at him.  "Is it easily gotten to?"

Harry shrugged.  "Ron?"  Ron got the map and looked at it, finding the entrance.  Draco stared over his shoulder.  Harry could hear the question.  "The twins had it but my father's group made it," he said quietly.

Draco smiled at that.  "It's nearly brilliant."  He got their things and they put on the invisibility cloak to check that out.  Harry only grumbled a bit about needing to sleep.  Draco tested the first few beds and nodded, sending a Slytherin-style message to the head Prefect.  He snuck in and checked.  "There's another upstairs for the girls," he said, letting him see the doorway.

He checked a few beds and nodded.  "It'll work.  I'll gather.  You three sleep."

"They can share a bed if they must," Draco offered.  He didn't like to sleep with them, they kicked him and had nightmares.  It was bad enough he got bleedover from them without the kicking and fighting they both did - clearly that was a hero's reward for doing great things, one he didn't want to ever achieve.

The head Prefect counted.  "There's enough."  Draco beamed and picked out his bed.  "First years on that side, Malfoy."  Draco counted and found a bed.  Harry and Ron got across from him.  That worked.  He got the others found because there was a Slytherin prefect in each house to make sure their charges were behaving.  The rest came in and the top female prefect put up wards on the girls' door for now.  It'd work.  He got his own bed that didn't smell like Hufflepuff perfume and sighed in pleasure.  A few lumps he could put up with but the perfume some of those boys wore was turning his stomach.  He threw a light sleep hex at Potter when he started to have a nightmare.  That was better for all of them and he'd tell Snape in the morning so he could dose Potter before bed, as was needed.


Dumbledore walked into the Great Hall the next morning, looking at Severus.  "All the Slytherins are missing?"

"I believe they went to that spare dormitory," he said.  "They are also apparently sleeping in this morning."

Dumbledore sent a house elf to wake them up and sat down to eat.  "If that's what they chose to do, that's fine, Severus.  As long as the females are protected from the boys."

"There was a separate dorm for them," Remus reminded him.  A few of the Slytherins walked in looking well rested for the first time since their house had flooded.  "They look better."

Snape looked them over, pointing at the head one that had shown up to come up to him.  He looked her over.  "Is that more suitable?" he asked quietly.

"It's quiet, it's calm.  We opened the Prefect's bathroom for the kiddies since we don't have one, Professor."  He nodded at that.  "The toilets are up the hall a bit but that's fine and we can share."  He nodded again.  "I did feel a sleep hex so I think someone was having nightmares perhaps.  You might want to talk to the boys, sir."

"I shall.  Are the girls suitably protected?"

"Yes, sir.  I warded that doorway myself.  If any of the boys get in, everyone in the castle will know."

"Good work.  Five points," he said quietly.  She nodded and smiled, going back to her seat.  He had checked into that dorm.  It had been used for visiting schools during the old Triwizard Tournament and when they had a mass case of chicken pox one year.  It would do until Slytherin was redone.  "How long before the water is gone, Headmaster?"

"Probably tomorrow, Severus."

"Thank you."

"Donations are coming in quite well to rebuild your house and refunish it."  He smiled.  "Including one that got Minister Fudge quite peeved from the trio's aunt.  Apparently it had been a personal gift from a House friend while she was at the Ministry."

"Hmm.  Fudge tried to claim someone's wedding ring was one because he coveted it if you believe the papers," McGonagall said quietly.  She sipped her tea.  Most of her house was down and looked sleepy still.  Slytherins were trailing in slowly in clumps.  "Is there a bathroom in those rooms?"

"I believe it was broken, that's why we didn't send them up there when it was found," Dumbledore admitted.

"They're using the Prefect's bathroom," Severus said.

"That's suitable," he agreed.  The rest of the students came in but a few.  He frowned when his favorite students didn't show up.  "Severus?"

The head Slytherin Prefect came in and right up to Severus a minute later.  "Sir, I think I need to intervene in a student," he said quietly once he was in front of him.  "I had to sleep hex him last night due to nightmares."

"One of ours?" Snape hissed.

"No, sir."

"I see."

"Malfoy is bruised, Professor.  I saw that when I went to try to wake them.  I'm letting them sleep in because they're clearly exhausted."

"Bruised why?" Remus asked.  He was in the next seat over.

"I believe he's complained about kicking and nightmares, Professor."  He looked at Snape.  "I believe someone should ...perhaps intervene further, sir.  If it was anyone else, I'd have called upstairs already.  I know one's father would hex me to death and have fun doing so however."

"I will talk to them.  Are they still under the spell?"

"No, sir.  It was a very light one.  Just enough to nudge them out of the nightmares."

"I'll check on them before classes."  The student nodded and walked over to his usual seat so he could have breakfast.  Severus finished up and went to check on them.  It wasn't that hard to get into the doorway.  The painting cooed at him and thanked him for 'letting her house the poor Slytherins during this trying time'.  He walked up the stairs, finding the trio in separate beds.  Draco was sprawled out, uncovered.  That was not usual for him.  He checked but he could clearly see the bruises.  Weasley didn't have any when he checked.  Potter had a few light ones but not in the same areas.  He woke Draco, staring at him.

Draco yawned, blinking at him.  "It's the middle of the night and it's nicer up here, Professor, plus it's just our house so we can't be polluted by the others' ideals."

"I agree with the reason and ten points for deciding to lead the House, Mr. Malfoy."  He pointed at a bruise.  "How did that happen?"

Draco looked and grimaced, shrugging.  "They're fresh.  They still hurt."  He gently tested one.  "I didn't get kicked last night."  He frowned, looking at the others.  "Thank Merlin someone stopped his nightmares," he sighed.  He looked at the Professor.  "I may have done it to myself last night.  Usually I'm a fairly still sleeper."

"I know that."  He checked him over, frowning.  Then he checked the other two with the same spell.  That woke up Harry, who blinked at him like he was fuzzy.  Since he wasn't wearing his glasses he might be.  "Mr. Potter, are you bruised anywhere?"

Harry looked and shook his head.  "Should I be?"

"I am," Draco admitted quietly.

Ron yawned, pointing at his leg.  "I can feel one there," he said through a yawn.

"His nightmare last night started off with something about a ball and a gym class," Draco said, staring at Harry, who slumped some, shaking his head.  He looked then at Harry.  "That's an interesting side-effect of the bond."

Ron looked then shrugged.  "It might be.  I don't know.  We'd have to see if it was that or being kicked.  You did plenty the last few nights, Malfoy."

"I remember."  They both looked at Harry, who moaned and put his head back down, covering it with the sheet.  "We'll figure that out.  I know it's not something I ...."  He watched as another came up.  "Professor."  He came over to watch the same thing.  He checked the other boys.  Nothing.  He looked at Draco again, knocking him out, which automatically set off his beacon.  He got the nurse in.

She looked at the forming bruise.  "What is that?"

"It formed while he was sitting there," he said quietly.

"Let's get them all upstairs."  She looked.  "The shields are up?"  Ron nodded, getting up and throwing on clothes.  Harry did the same.  They got Draco upstairs to check over.  She noticed Ron had a few as well so she checked him.  "Mr. Weasley, how thick is your mental shield?"

"Not as thick as Harry's or Draco's.  I can barely form one some days," he admitted.  "Why?"

"Because I believe someone is attacking you and having it bleed over."

"Who'd want to attack me?" he demanded.

"Anyone who decided they didn't want Mr. Potter around," Narcissa said as she walked in.  "You're apparently thought to be the weaker link in the chain, Mr. Weasley."  She checked her son, grimacing.  "Bruises do not look good on his skin."  She tested Ron's mind.  "Your method of diversion instead of shielding works for some things but for others you need to shield better."

"I've been doing the exercises."

"Not everyone has that sort of gift," Snape admitted.  "Very few have minds strong enough to cast the legimens spell or guard against it."  Narcissa nodded that was true.  She strengthened the shield on his necklace and it eased it a lot.  Draco quit looking so sick.  Ron started to look sick.  She blocked it more firmly from her son and it was easier to treat him.  Ron's present curse... she'd have to find them and deal with them for making her poor boy bruised.

"Let us," Snape ordered calmly when he saw the look on her face change.  "You can talk to them over break."

"We were going to request a day to go to London to do a bit of clothes shopping in the muggle world since we're all growing," Harry told them.

Narcissa stared at him.  "Why?"

"Because we're growing and will outgrow them in a few months probably.  Plus they'll have some sales for the holidays.  Cheaper and easier to hit a department store to get everything at once."

She considered it.  "We'll see, Mr. Potter.  I do not like the idea of my son around muggles.  They're usually filthy and grubby."

"Not all of them are, Mrs. Malfoy, just some.  There's many who have more money than even your family does.  I also saw some ads last year when I was taking out the built-up trash that showed some fantastic glass ornaments for the holidays at Harrods."

"We have many that are beautiful, plus some very old family heirlooms."

"I'm not sure if my family does or not but this will be my first holiday season with my new family and I'd like to get some of our own for the dorms."

She considered it then nodded.  "It will be chaperoned somehow."

"We'd welcome Bill or whoever helping us pick out jeans and shirts," he said with a smile.  She smiled back.  "I'm sure he's ventured into muggle Cairo a few times."

"Probably."  She looked at Severus again.  "Would that be suitable?"

"Children who stay over the holidays can apply for such trips," he agreed.  "Remus would probably go as well."

"Hmm.  We'll see if they stay or not."  She helped remove the curse from Ron, making someone very sorry somewhere.  She got the boy laying down again and knocked him out.  Harry yawned and she smiled, putting him to sleep as well.  "They clearly need it."

"Potter apparently has nightmares."

The mediwitch looked up.  "I allow Mr. Potter six doses of dreamless sleep a month, Severus.  Otherwise he's taking too much and it's dangerous for him."

He stared at her.  "How many nights does he have nightmares?"

She shrugged.  "I have not asked.  He had them when he came in and his dorm mates made him come see me about them.  That is the top dosage so a being can't be hooked on it."

He considered it.  "I'll see if there's something more suitable that can be made."

She shook her head.  "Anything less than dreamless sleep either traps him or doesn't help any at all.  I've tried all the ones you've made for me over the years."

He grimaced.  "Do we know the cause?"  She stared at him.  "That battle?"

"His aunt," she said firmly.

"That too shall be taken care of," Narcissa said lightly with a smile.  "His Aunt Eleanor was most upset with her."  She looked at Severus.  "I know we have a few potions journals and private journals in the family library.  I'll have Lucius look."  She checked her son then smiled at him again.  "Let me see who I just made miserable by having their head explode."  She breezed out, going to check on that.  The aurors were ever so nice to take the account of the spell and check for her.  That way she could gloat over the mess their brains had made without messing up her nails again.  She did so hate having to repaint them every few days.

Snape shuddered.  "She's not pleased."

"She reminds me of what used to be said about Mr. Potter's aunt."

Severus nodded.  "Quite."  He left, going to report the boys were in the infirmary, the curse trying to kill Weasley had been removed, and it was better now.  He dreaded to think what would happen when Molly heard but he could hide since he had only helped discover it.  He hoped.


Bill walked up to the man holding his head while trying to get something at the apothecary.  "Headache?" he asked.

"Hmm.  Backlash."  Narcissa looked over and pointed, nodding some as she got her own potions for Malfoy headaches.  Bill walked around the guy to stare at him.  The man stared at him.  He swallowed, you could see it.  "Um....  You're a Weasley, aren't you?"

"Yeah, I am."

"Are you Charlie?"

"Nah.  He's still in Romania."  He smirked his most evil smirk.  Ginny said it was a good one.

"Oh, good, I heard he had a temper."

Bill snickered.  "Not even close, mate."  He punched the guy, knocking him back out of the building and following to kick his ass.  "You wanted my brother for what?"

"To power Potter stronger!" he begged, holding up his hands.  "Please!  You have to know that they need him to be stronger!"

Bill stared at him.  "Potter's already strong.  My brother follows him to help him and said that Harry's got an even worse temper than I do."

"I thought you weren't Charlie!"

"I'm not, I'm Bill, the oldest."  He smirked.

"Oh, shite," he muttered, trying to get away.

"Oh, no you don't," Bill growled, picking him up to hit him again.

"William!" Arthur shouted.  "We do not fight in the Alley!  You know that and your mother is going to tan your hide."

"He was trying to sacrifice Ron to make Harry stronger, Dad."  He smirked at the man.  "Clearly someone doesn't follow the papers since they're *bound* and you nearly killed him too."  The man burst out crying.  He handed him to the aurors with his father.  "He's not fun anymore."  He stared the man down.  "Harry's going to hear about this.  He's going to be hellishly pissed and we know Harry has a worse temper than mine."

Someone coughed from behind Arthur, walking around him.  "Bill, is there a problem?"

"No, Sirius.  This man tried to sacrifice my baby brother to hype Harry's powers."

"Hmm.  Interesting."  He looked at the man, watching him start to pray to any God that could hear him.  "I'd suggest he have a time out somewhere before he messes himself."  The aurors nodded quickly and walked off.  He looked at Bill.  "You should probably ice your knuckles."

Bill looked then shrugged.  "Gotten into worse fights with the Gringotts trolls."  He shrugged again and put his hands in his pocket.  "Sorry, Dad.  Had to happen though."  He grinned.  "I'll be home for dinner."

"If you're not under arrest," he sighed.

"Oh, no, he's not," Narcissa said with a smile.  "It was most dreadful to have to take that curse off your youngest son because mine was bruised."  She stared at the auror that had remained behind.  "It was ever so gallant of Mr. Weasley to spare my manicure and clothes."  She smiled.  He nodded and walked off.  "Now, we must have a meeting about the holidays.  Mr. Potter has asked for a trip to Harrods to find some nice ornaments for their new family plus some cheap muggle clothes they can grow out of by this summer.  Where are the boys going this holiday season?"

Arthur shrugged.  "I haven't given it a thought yet, Narcissa.  I'll talk to Molly tonight?"

"Please do, Arthur," she agreed with a smile as her husband joined them.  "Lucius."  He kissed her on the cheek.  "William was just very gallant to spare my manicure and clothes from the mess I'd make with the one who tried to sacrifice Ronald earlier to hype Mr. Potter's power apparently."

"Interesting.  I wondered why they dragged him through the Ministry crying and threatening him with a worse beating from Mr. Black."  He nodded at Sirius.  Then at Arthur.  "Are we discussing the holidays already?"

"The boys wanted to travel to muggle London to do some inferior clothes shopping since they're growing and to find some new ornaments for their family.  I informed them it would be chaperoned."

He nodded.  "Draco would have to learn to cover his emotions better by then," he said, considering it.  "I can see that happening though.  Might do him good."  He looked at Arthur.  "Are they coming to your house for the holiday dinner or ours?"

"I'm not sure yet.  Molly hasn't made any concrete plans yet."

"Whichever's fine with me as long as neither family's slighted," Bill assured them with a grin.

"That's most reasonable of you, son," Arthur agreed.  "Doesn't get you out of trouble for brawling in the Alley like a student."

"It had started off some very bad bruising and was going to end his life by this evening," Narcissa told Arthur.  "Thankfully they knocked my poor boy out because he was getting most of the bruising.  Your son's shielding isn't as strong as theirs because he doesn't have that gift.  He has a wonderful diversion shield but not that sort."

"Interesting.  We'll see if we can help him with that," Arthur said with a smile for her.  Since they were being polite today, he could as well.  "Anything else we should hear?"  He waved and his wife came over with a smile.  "Molly, the boys are starting to make holiday plans."

She looked at Narcissa.  "Which meal do you usually do for the holiday meal?"

"We have a traditional one on Christmas Eve," she admitted.  "Christmas is usually spent sleeping in and letting Draco play with his new toys."

"We usually do a late lunch/early dinner on the day itself.   Would you like them until that point and then they can all come to our place for the rest of the holidays?"

Narcissa nodded.  "That would be most acceptable.   Did you want go with the boys when they went shopping in muggle London?  Harry did suggest that Bill has probably been shopping in Cairo's muggle section."

She considered it, looking at her son.  "I think he can handle them.  Bill?"  He nodded, still smiling.  "What did you do?"

"Beat the crap outta the bloke that tried to kill Ron to make Harry stronger, mum."

She pinched him on the cheek.  "Next time, don't brawl like a student, Bill.  You're more sneaky than that.  You could've gotten him at home or something."  She smiled at Narcissa.  "Thank you for letting him handle this one."

"He was ever so nice to spare my manicure this time," Narcissa assured her.

"Wonderful."  Molly smirked back, they had an understanding on how to protect the boys.  "Has Harry's aunt been telling others about his maternal aunt?"

"Quite and she even kindly sent me the address," Narcissa said happily.  Molly shuddered.  "I'm sure they're going to rue treating the boy like a house elf."  She took her husband's arm and walked off.  "I'll see you before they leave for the holidays to make concrete plans for the boys, Molly.  Early December?"

"That's fine.  I'm only knitting until they come home."  She smiled at her husband and son.  "You'll be beaten later," she assured Bill.

He slouched some.  "Could've let Harry do it, mum."

"No you may not.   Not until someone teaches him how to properly fight."  She walked off with her husband.  "Come along, Bill."

"Yes, mam."  He followed, mentally wincing.  His mother would be nagging for weeks.  "You know, the guy thought Charlie had the worse temper."

She looked back at him.  "I still haven't told Charlie about all this mess because of his, Bill.  You have fun with that, dear."

"Sure, Mum.  It's nearly on the way home."  So maybe she'd let Charlie nag instead.  He could do it nearly as well as she did sometimes.  And everyone thought he was the poof in the family, him and Ginny!  Charlie was *so* much worse!


Draco finished his letter to Bill and then sent it, going up to the temporary Slytherin dorm.  The others were up there, he had been in the hallway for a few minutes.  He handed over the one Molly had sent to Ron and he had caught.  It was nice his hyper little owl would come to him now.  Ron opened it with a grin, reading it.  "Harrods?" he asked quietly.

Harry looked at him.  "It's a very nice department store.  Has a lot of very nice things, including some wonderful cakes if you wanted to get one for your parents."

"I'll think on that.  Do we need ornaments?"

"Isn't that what families do?  We're technically our own family and should settle those things before things get too hectic and we have problems like wanting to go the same place at once."

Draco considered that.  "Perhaps but you can afford to get normal clothes."

"Muggle clothes and wizarding clothes are about the same, Draco.  Only some of ours have patterns that move and they're not mass produced.  Plus they're less expensive so I can get more."

"I'll think on it."  He went to his bed to do his homework and think about that.  He had never been to a department store.  "Is that like Madam Malkin's?"

"No, it's like Javier's," Ron told him, glancing up then back at his current pre-test studying.  "Harry, Transfiguration test," he reminded him.

"I know that.  I've been studying, even without Hermione pushing us."  He looked at Ron.  "Where's that?"

"By their house," Draco admitted.  "So it sells all sorts of things and clothes?"  Harry nodded.  "Hmm.  Interesting."  He thought about it some more.  "I wouldn't want someone like my mother going.  She might faint at the muggle items."

"Bill's been in the marketplaces in Cairo plenty of times," Ron said, smirking at him.  "He can go with us."

"That'd be fine.  As long as my parents agreed.  Perhaps I'll find something to amuse my Mother for the holidays.  She usually spends the next day reading and watching her knitting needles knit for her."

"Yours does it with magic?" Ron asked.  "My mum does her knitting by hand with the needles."

"Mother finds it calming to watch."

"Oh."  He nodded and got back to his studying.  "Why do we have to keep dealing with these sort of things?"

Harry looked at him.  "Because at the higher levels it's worse?" he guessed.  "Harder and maybe human to human transformations?"

"That's in the advanced, post Hogwarts, classes," Draco told them.  "We'll only learn up to inanimate to animate and human to inanimate transfigurations by their book."  Both boys nodded and shrugged a bit.  "We have a test tomorrow?"

"Hermione said so," Ron admitted.  "Ask Crabbe."  The boy looked up.  "Test in Transfiguration?"

"I thought it was next week," he admitted.  He got up and went to knock on the girls' door.  "Pansy?" he called once it opened a bit.  She came jogging down the stairs.  "Transfiguration test this week or next?"

"Next.  Granger was panicking because she knows they've got that defense paper due on the same day."  She looked at the trio, who had just sighed in displeasure.  "She nags you two to study?"

"She makes them schedules, used to check their papers for errors," Draco said dryly.  "Nags them to start revising now for the OWLs."  She moaned, shaking her head as she went back up to their dorm.  "Defense paper?"

"Done,"Harry muttered.  "Did it earlier while you and Ron napped."

Ron grimaced.  "I hate papers."  He found that set of notes to see what it was on.  He groaned and stood up.  "We need the library for this."  Draco stared at him.  "She'll keep nagging."

"It's only a foot and you can probably find a bit in the book," he suggested.  "Or maybe some of the upper years' books."  He pointed at one.  "He's doing his senior defense paper on mythical swamp monsters so some of his books might have something."  Ron looked then shook his head.  "Brads."  He looked up from his note taking on his bed.  "Can we borrow something for a defense paper on something blood sucking and water based?"

"Of course.  I think I have most of them actually.  I'll have to check with Professor Lupin to make sure he knows I have most of them with me."  He looked and tossed Harry a book, letting him hand it over.   "Have fun, kids."  He got back to work.

Ron gaped.  "Our upper years wouldn't do that," he said quietly.

"Slytherin is a tighter house," Draco said dryly.  "Yours are yappy and mostly isolated from the lower years."  He let Ron have it first.  He had half his paper written already.  He had done it during History.  He looked at Harry.   "Don't have one?"

"Have it done and the special topic one," he sighed.  Draco smirked at that.  "He wants to see you two for the extra defense practice too this week."

"That's fine," Draco said.  "It'll get me out of Runes for a test."  He pulled out his paper to read over and finish what he had been thinking of putting down.  He could edit it later.  Ron was reading and mumbling.  Draco came over with a huff to teach him how to cite sources.  "That way you don't copy.  Did no one show you that?"

"No," Ron said.  "Where did you learn it?"

"My mother used to assign summer research papers."  He went back to his own.  He could probably do it from memory but teachers liked citations.  "Don't copy the whole thing, only useful passages."  Harry gave him a funny look.  "Teachers like them.  That shows we read the material."

"Oh.  I didn't know that."

"You went to primary school, correct?" Draco asked.

"Yeah.  They didn't have us doing papers."

Draco stared at him.  "Why not?"

"Because they didn't.  We had a lot of other stuff to learn."

"No papers at all?"

"A few short paragraphs here and there.  Tests.  Lectures.  Sometimes film strips, which we usually had to write a short report on, or book reports.  Worksheets."

Draco shook his head quickly.  "Your future offspring will be going somewhere better, even if I have to get pushy.  That way they can't warp mine."  The upper years around them laughed.  "Honestly!"

"As long as no one sends the kids somewhere to a school that will make them want to be mean or cold," Harry ordered with a sigh.  He looked at Ron.  "If I have one," he agreed at Ron's thought it might not happen.

"There's no more Potter line if don't," Draco pointed out carefully.  He could hear something from the back of Harry's mind.  "Surely your mother and father wouldn't want that."

"Mum and Dad might not have but I think Dad might agree that it's not time to think about that until well after all this crap is done with."  He looked up.  "It's not something I'm looking forward to, Draco.  You have to have an heir for the family.  I might have to have an heir for the family.  I don't know if that's something I want or not."

Draco nodded once.  "Well, none of us are ready for that thought yet."

"Harry, Dad said something about muggles having things to help with that stuff?" Ron asked.

Harry looked at him.  "You mean like doctors who can put seed into a woman because for some reason she hasn't gotten pregnant yet and wants to, or doesn't have a husband?"

"How would you not have a husband and want a family?" Draco asked.

Harry stared at him.  "They're not exclusive.  Even in the wizarding world there's unmarried mothers, Draco."

"True, though it's usually considered shameful."

"The muggle world lives on different values.  It's mostly acceptable for women to have a child because they want one.  They can either go pick up someone, which gets them looked at oddly and badly sometimes, or they can get some seed from a doctor.  They have whole banks of places where men sell their seed and have it stored."

"They do?" he demanded.  Harry smirked but nodded.  "Why?"

"In case they need some and can't have any more," Harry offered.  "Due to injury or medical problems.  Some sell theirs for money.  Some women sell their eggs for the same reason."  Draco's mouth fell open.  "That way women who might be widowed and want a child, or women who're together and want one, can go to a doctor, who helps them select some based on the profile the father gave, and inserts it."

Draco let out a small whimper, looking at the upper years.  "We've never heard of such things," one said in awe.

"Hermione's father had to bank some last year," Harry told him.  "In case a medical problem he had got worse.  Plus they're all over the news.  Or parents can adopt.  Some adopt from overseas."

"Get Granger to explain that to us," one of the upper years called at the doorway.

"Explain what?" one of the girls demanded.  "Why Granger?"

"There's banks in the muggle world to store man's seed so the wife can have a baby later or even without a husband."  She laughed, shaking her head.  Harry nodded.  "Someone?"

"She's coming," one of the ones guarding outside said.  He had no idea why, he hadn't heard anything yet.  He let her in when she got there.  "They called for you."

"Thank you," she said, walking up the stairs.  "Is there a problem, Harry?"

"They've never heard of sperm banks or egg donation or any of that.  I was trying to explain it and bollixing it up."

She beamed at them.  "It's a wonderful place for those who need the services.  Of course, some men donate for the money but otherwise many families wouldn't have children without them."  The upper years stared at her.  "Wizards don't have something like that?"

"NO!" one of the girls said, starting to get huffy.  "We have husbands for that."

"What if your husband can't get you pregnant?" Hermione asked.  "Or your eggs aren't fertile for some medical problem?"  The witch gaped in horror.  "That's what those things are for.  There's even surrogates for when a mother can't carry a child but wants one desperately.  Or there's adoption."

"Surrogate?  Like having another woman carry for her?" the witch clarified.  Hermione smiled and nodded.   "Then it'd be her child with the husband, like a mistress?"

"No, if both parents are fertile but the wife can't carry they can take her eggs, his sperm, combine them to make sure the baby is started, and implant them in the surrogate.  So it's their child, simply carried by someone else."  She pulled a chair over to sit down and went over how those things worked as far as she knew.  She had read the literature her father had picked up before his hernia surgery.  Snape came in during it and she smiled at him.  "I'm explaining something, Professor."

"They have whole banks to store a man's seed," one of them told him.  "In case he's hurt or has a medical problem that means he can't shoot.  Did you know that?"

"There are?" he demanded, glaring at the girl.

"Quite.  My father has some stored in case his hernia surgery went wrong and he couldn't function."

Snape's mouth fell open.  "Why?"

"In case my mother wanted another child," she said with a small shrug.  "I'd love to be a big sister, Professor.  I've got plenty of practice helping Ron and them with things.  There's ones for women who want to store their eggs as well.  That way they don't age and die off too soon.  There's a program in Israel that helps women who are post-menopause have children as well.  That way they can have one last one.  I think their oldest one was seventy or late sixties."

He blinked a few times.  "That does not seem medically possible, Miss Granger."

"We have hormone pills and shots to make the hormones come again or to stop them completely," she told him.  "That's how female birth control pills work, Professor."

"There's....  what?" he demanded.

"A pill to make sure girls don't get preggers until they want to," Harry said.  "They's a few different types and brands.  They're on the tele now and then."  He went back to his studying for defense.

Snape stared at him then at her.  "Why would they need such?"

"Because in our world, it's not that shameful if a girl chooses to climb on top of a bloke before they're married," she said bluntly.  "Some couples even live together before marriage."  He shuddered and walked off.  She shrugged.  "It's much nicer.  Women are looked at better than they do in our world too."  She got up.  "I can get my mum to send me those brochures if you want."

"And on that birth control stuff?" one asked hopefully.

"Of course.  It's about time I start thinking on that subject myself."  She smiled and walked off.  She had a thought and went up to talk to the nurse.  "Madam Pomfrey?"  She looked up from her note writing.  "I had a slightly personal question.  Do you have a moment?"

"Of course, dear.  What's wrong?"

"Will me taking a birth control pill affect my magic any?"

"A what?" she demanded, then snorted.  "Those are myths, Miss Granger."

"There's over ten brands and different methods in the muggle world," she corrected.  "From hormonal to non-hormonal."  The nurse gave her a horrified look.  "So it won't interact?  A hormonal one I mean?"  She pushed her hair back.  "I'm about at the age where I should start thinking about it.  Some can even decrease your cycles to a few a year instead of monthly and that would be wonderful."

The nurse stared.  "You can't do that to a body.  It's bad for it."

She sighed.  "I'll get the information from my mother and let you read it, then you can figure out if it affects magic.  Also, where do we go in Hogsmeade to get tampons?"


"For monthly cycles?  To plug up the bleeding and catch it?"

"We have pads."

"Those are bulky and tampons are *so* much more comfortable according to my mother."

"I've never heard of them."

"That's fine.  I'll have mum send me some then."  She smiled and walked out.  "I'll get that information in a few days," she decided, going to the owlry to use Pig.  Ron wouldn't mind.  He never did.

The nurse went to talk to the headmaster.  She had never heard of such things.  She ran into McGonagall and hissed the problems at her instead.  She was a woman and might know since she saw more muggle borns every year than she did.  McGonagall knew something about the subject.  She explained it better and Madam Pomfrey decided she'd look into those things.  Just in case they were more handy.  Or harmful.


Hermione accepted the package from Pig, smiling at the tiny, hyper owl.  It was always better behaved for her and the package was clearly heavier than the owl wanted to deal with for an extended fluttering around their heads to tease them.  "Thank you, dear."  She fed him some sausage.  He flew over to Ron to get some more then back to the owlry.  "Thank you for letting me borrow her for a message home, Ron."

"Not a problem, Hermione.  What did you get?"

She looked inside.  "The information the upper years wanted and things for girl issues."  She smiled when she found the letter.  "My mother's pleased that I'm thinking about that subject but she's a bit sad that I'm growing up again."  She settled in to read the long letter.   When she was done she walked over to the Slytherin table, handing that witch the information she had promised.  "Mum said she wants that back if possible."

"Did you get it on the other stuff?" she hissed.

"Of course.  I was going to check with the nurse to make sure it wouldn't do anything strange to my magic like decrease it.  Hormones are so unpredictable with magic and mine goes oddly each month," she admitted.

"Most witches do," she admitted.  Hermione let her have the other information too.  She read it over, letting the boys who wanted the sperm bank information have that for now.  That birth control stuff sounded very helpful.  So did those tampon things.  "How bad can this illness be?"

"Mum told me it's happened when you keep them in over ten hours.  Most women wouldn't anyway."

"Ah!"  She nodded and got back to it.  "Four a year?  That'd be nice."  The nurse came over.  "Madam Pomfrey."

"Is that the information, Miss Granger?"

"Yes, I had explained that topic earlier and she wanted to know more."

"That's fine."  She took it to look over, glancing at the other information.  "They can do what?" she demanded, taking it to look at more closely.  "You can store those?"  She looked at the young girl.  Who nodded.  "Why?"

"Depends on the person."

"Oh, I see."  She took that too to look over.  Snape took that part of the information to look over while she and McGonagall got the rest.   She really had to get in touch with the mediwitches who worked in London with older patients.  They might have more information on this and if it was useful to witches.  Those tampon things did sound very handy.  You could even bathe in them apparently.  McGonagall made an interested noise and took something to read more closely.

Madam Sprout looked over.  "I've had a few students with those.  I always suggest that they keep them out of sight of the other students," she said quietly.  "That way they are not confused.  The mediwitch showed her the one on tampons.  "Oh, really?"  She read it over again.  "Interesting.  How bad would this risk be?"

"Over ten hours," Hermione called.  "Overnight is fine, more than that is bad.  My mother wanted that other information back, Professor."  She gathered her books and left for the library for now.  Then to class.  She was feeling very good today.  Margaret Sanger would be proud of her, as would all the foremothers in the women's liberation movement.

The Headmaster looked down.  "What is that on?"  The nurse let him see, earning an odd look.  "Why are we reading this?"

"Questions have been asked about any conflicts with being a witch.  I thought it best to look at the literature myself before answering it."  She took it back.  "It seems harmless enough but I'll be talking with a colleague in London about such matters."  She got the other information to look over.  "Oh, in case of medical problems," she said.  "That's not a bad idea.  I wonder if we can do the same."  She walked off with it.  The headmaster could be a bit...old fashioned about some things.  Then again, he was a century and a half old.

The headmaster grimaced.  "I do not think that is appropriate for the students to learn of."

"That would be up to their parents," McGonagall said firmly.  "I certainly would've felt better at their age if I had known about such things."  She finished up and went up to the infirmary to look through the other information.  It looked very thought provoking but related.

The Headmaster considered it but he didn't like this idea at all.  It would change things among the students.


Harry was let into the Headmaster's office.  "You wanted to see me, sir?"

"Harry, it was brought to my attention that you started off the discussion on the topic of birth control last night?"

"No, I mentioned a sperm bank for those who wanted to store some for later use.  It devolved into birth control talk because I wasn't explaining it very well but Hermione knew because her father had put some up before a surgery he had.  She told them about birth control.  She was fully horrified that you don't let witches use tampons to control their girlish times and that the wizarding world couldn't deal with those matters on their own.  So are most of the muggle-borns that were talking about it in the courtyard earlier."

"We do have potions for those who have those sort of problems."

"This is so a wife can get pregnant and the muggle world doesn't have potions, Headmaster.   Cordelia, is Aunt Bethany around?" he called.  Aunt Bethany had been a healer before she died.  She appeared in Cordelia's painting with her.  He grinned.  "Hermione was explaining the needed services of a sperm and egg bank, and then they talked about birth control.  The headmaster has no idea why.  Frankly, neither do I since guys only use condoms for that.  Can you...."  He waved a hand.

"As long as you listen, nephew."  She smirked.  "It'll be necessary some day."

"Only if I suddenly understand women and I really don't think it's necessary yet.  I got the standard lectures the year before I came in health class."

"Wonderful of them."  She beamed and looked at the headmaster, explaining birth control and it's methods to him.  He was bright red but shuddering at the thought.  "Were there other topics being discussed?"

"Hermione wanted to know if tampons or birth control pills that might stop her cycle for a few months would hurt her magic," Harry asked.

"No, dear.  It's not that linked.  Usually hormones make magic go a bit more wild so it might settle those down for months on end.  Though, if she uses that shot, the commercials say you can not have a cycle for up to a year.  I'm not sure how that would do her."

"It's every three months, I doubt the nurse could," Harry pointed out.

"True."  She beamed.  "What other topics were discussed?"

"I mentioned sperm and egg banks but Hermione had to explain because I was crap at it."

"That's not a bad idea for you, nephew.  If there's a magical one you should perhaps bank some."  He shrugged but nodded.  "Good boy."  She looked at the headmaster and explained those to him too.  He was clearly horrified but oh well!

"We have potions for that."

"That's for when you can't get erect, Dumbledore, not when your sperm isn't able to impregnate anything.  Or when a woman's eggs aren't fertile for some medical reason."

"Both can be caused by the pain curse, right?" Harry asked.  "Draco wondered about something he had heard gossiped about at a party."

"Indeed, nephew."  She beamed at him.  "It has been the cause of much infertility.  That's why a lot of families only had one child during the last war."

Dumbledore cleared his throat.  "It did?"

"Yes."  She stared at him.  "Some cancers are also a cause of that.  Most of types of cancer's treatments are also a good cause for infertility.  There's other medicines that can do the same sort of harm."  He stared at her.  "It's wise of a witch to think on her options for the future.  They say a woman's eggs aren't as fertile after thirty-five.  She should store some when she's younger so they're more likely to work if she needs to.  Or has to use a surrogate to carry due to health reasons."  Harry nodded.  "Plus girls who are school age should all be taught about birth control, that way they use it and don't end up trapped with some wizard who really needs a good hexing every few days to be straightened out."  She stared at him.  "It takes the pressure off her.  Lets her think about a career and the like.  Many older witches are on it once they get out of this repressive institution.  Harry, did you find that pen set on the desk?"

"I did but it was much too fancy to bring here and the teachers only let us use quills, Aunt Beth."

"Nonsense.  There are more efficient pens so you can take better notes."

He shrugged.  "They won't let us."

She stared at the headmaster.  "Quills are the standard instrument for writing in the world."

"No, not even fountain pens are," Harry said.  He pulled out his for notes and held it up.  "Ball points are more common in the muggle world.  Cheaper too than a good quill or fountain pen.  Some are refillable, some aren't."  He put it back into his pocket.  "No dipping and dripping ink on everything."

"It can't be that much cheaper," Dumbledore complained.

"For under 10 sickles I can buy a 12-pack of the cheap, non-refillable pens, Headmaster.  They come with the ink already in them.  It'll last me about four months or so, depending on how much I have to write."  He got stared at.  "That's less expensive than my bottle of ink and the nineteen quills I usually go through a year.  It's cheaper than the ink alone actually."

"Quills are a fine tradition," Dumbledore said.

"Of course they are.  Then again, how many of us grew up in the muggle world?  I'm doubting Hermione doesn't miss her computer every now and then for papers.  Much easier to type and then print instead of hand-write thirty pages.  Even a typewriter would be faster probably once you learned how to type.  I took it in school and I could type six pages of written notes into one page of typed notes in about five minutes but I'm out of practice."


"Yes, there's purely mechanical versions.  Arthur Weasley has one in his office I believe.  I think I saw it in the corner.  Probably needs a new ribbon."

The headmaster called him.  "Arthur, what is a typewriter?"

He beamed and went to get his from the storage building, bringing it back.  "This one's a few years old.  I'm told muggles have updated them quite a lot."

"Usually to computers," Harry agreed.  "Same keyboard but it's virtual and then you print it when you're done instead of having to go back and type or correct."

"Brilliant of them."  He beamed, letting the headmaster see it.  "You push the buttons and it stamps them on the paper."  He showed him how it went.  Harry came over to load the paper correctly for him with a smile and showed him. The headmaster gave him a horrified look.  Harry beamed at Arthur.  "It's much faster.  Molly figured out she can do about twenty words a minute if she needs to.  We use it for invitations these days."  He put it down behind him and they could hear Molly complaining it was dusty.  "Albus wanted to know, Molly."  He looked at the headmaster.  "Are you thinking of getting some for reports?"

"Hermione had to explain a few things last night," Harry told him.  "Somehow we went from birth control to pens then to computers and typewriters."

"Birth control?" Arthur asked.

"So Molly could've spaced them out more," Harry said delicately.  "If she had wanted to."

"Oh!  They can?"  Harry nodded with a grin.  "That's amazing.  I'll have to tell Bill and Charlie that so they know for when they *finally* find someone nice."  He beamed.  "Thank you, Harry."

"Not a problem.  Hermione's looking over the various options.  For guys, there's condoms.  Though I have heard that someone's trying to make a daily pill for guys to take instead."


"Latex instead of rubber, and there's some called sheepskin that're pretty thin and the teacher I had for health before I got here said they were nicer to use."  He shrugged.  "Whole aisle in the pharm these days."

"Not behind the counter?"

"No, muggles are pretty open about condoms with the diseases you can catch and the like for no kids.  You can walk in, buy them, walk out without having to do more than nod at the cashier."

"That is amazing.  I'll have to see if that's something that we'd have on the permissive list for Diagon's apothecary."  He beamed.  "Pens?"  Harry held up his.  "You dip those?"

"No, ink's inside," he said, using his teeth to get the cap off so he could see.  "Ink inside.  You write with it."  He put it back together and grabbed some blank paper off the desk to show him.  "It's thinner lines unless you get a really thick tip and I like thin ones."  He let him see.  "These are the cheap kind."

"That's very interesting."  He took it to look over, then handed it back.  "Expensive?"

"Under ten sickles for a pack of twelve.  They last me about four months for this brand.  Depends on how much you write though."

"Huh."  He nodded.  "Thank you, lad."

"Welcome, Mr. Weasley."  He grimaced when a thought hit him.  "Ron said Ginny stole all the cookies again.  The twins helped."

He rolled his eyes.  "I'll tell Molly that, Harry."  Harry grinned.  "Draco have a sweet tooth?"

"Yes, but he won't share his cookies when his mother gets the house elf to make them."

He gave him a smug look.  "I'll see what she can do about it."  He looked at the headmaster.  "Any other things we're thinking about, Albus?  I'll gladly check the lists and see if anything can be approved quickly if it's not on there."

"I'll think on that and the machine," he said.  "Thank you, Arthur."

"Not a problem, Albus."  He cut the connection.

Harry grinned at his aunt.  "I'm trying to get a trip to Harrods for the holidays.  That way I can pick up some new jeans and some ornaments.  I figure that's what new families do."

"Something like that to make their own holiday traditions," she agreed with a  smile.  "Harrods is a nice, picky store.  Draco should enjoy it."  She looked at the headmaster.  "Any other questions, Headmaster?"

"No, I don't believe so.  Thank you both for clarifying things.  Though I do believe that students do not need to know such things, Mr. Potter."

"Headmaster, there's eleven-year-old mothers in the muggle world."  The headmaster shuddered.  "Mostly because they weren't taught the right things soon enough and fooled around.  Muggle girls mature faster than the purebloods do.  Some of the seventh years are barely finishing puberty and we're mostly through it by fifteen.  You've probably got half the upper years of muggle born girls on birth control already if their parents are smart.  It can help with the female issues that make them cranky and steal chocolate from us guys and it can stop them all together in some cases from the ads.  We love it as guys because it means we don't have to fear for our lives any longer some months."  He left, going back to his room, where Ron and Draco were cackling.

"The pill has been around since the sixties, but some of the older methods have been around since the turn of the twentieth century.  Diaphragms and condoms have been around since the middle ages, now they're safer and easier to use.  They're wonderful inventions that have led to women being much more liberated and able to make their own life choices instead of being forced to marry if they find themselves fancying someone."  She stared at him.  "We know the wizarding community in England has been behind the times for most of your life, but it is time to get with the modern century a bit more, Headmaster.  Or at least the last one."

"It's not proper."

"It's not your choice," she reminded him.  "It's a woman's choice because it's her body."  He glared.  She stared back.  "I've seen toddlers with that same look.  It didn't bother me much then, Dumbledore."  She walked off happier.  She hated that man.  The whole family hated that man.


Hermione, like all the other women, got handed the folded, sealed notice the next morning at breakfast by her head of house.  She read it then snorted.  "It's none of his business what I and my mother decide for my health and well being," she said firmly.  "He does not have the right to decide that for me."  She got up and walked off, going to floo her mother.  They had a floo connection, very basic but she could call.  She let her mother read the notice, seeing her very pissed off morning.  "Mother, I'm not sure how you can get into the Ministry but call Mrs. Weasley, she'd know who to talk to."  She smiled.  "She might also be told more for her daughter.  I know Ginny doesn't want seven children like her mother did."

"Gladly, Hermione.  Persevere.  We'll talk soon, dear."  She hung up and called the very nice Mrs. Weasley, staring at her when she answered.  "That headmaster is trying to take my daughter's health decisions away from her.  Who do I talk to and where would I go to find a lawyer to sue him?"

"Surely it can't be that bad."

"He's just banned the girls from discussing or using birth control, Molly."

"What's that?"

"Medicines that can make sure that you only get pregnant when you want to, no matter how much you and whoever have relations."

"There is?" she demanded.

"Yes.  Some since the middle ages.  The hormonal methods that work best came about in the nineteen-sixties."

"Interesting.  I've never heard of such."

"Most girls go on it when they're about to date, that way if they do make the mature decision and decide to knock a boy down and take him for a test drive, they don't get caught."  The other woman blinked.  "Where do I go to find a decent lawyer?"

"Is it safe for witches?  Albus usually wouldn't ban anything that wasn't dangerous."

"The mediwitch I talked to at your hospital said it was perfectly fine.  I made sure before I sent my daughter the information."

"Oh, dear.  Hmm.  I'll come gather you in an hour, then we'll go to Diagon.  There's a few there or ...  Let me call someone to see if she'd know someone who is tough enough to stand against the headmaster.  I'll be there in an hour."  She hung up and called Narcissa.  They were being tolerably polite these days.  It was early but not that early, even for a Malfoy.  She got Lucius.  "I suppose you'd probably know as well.  Mrs. Granger wants to hire an attorney to fight against the headmaster decreeing that girls can't use birth control.  Is there better than the ones in Diagon?"

He considered it.  If that was what it sounded like....  He would've killed to have had it available in his school years.  "Whiplen.  He's in Wales though.  Birth control?"

"Yes.  She said it's perfectly safe but the headmaster apparently outlawed it."

He stared at her.  "I want information on it, the decree banning it, and I'll bring it to the Board.  Half of the students there I hope never breed."  She smirked at that statement then hung up and went to get a copy of that from her daughter.  Lucius called a few board members so they could be aware there was another problem from the headmaster.  Plus St. Mungoes to get expert testimony to make sure it was an appropriate ban.  If not, well, the Board did not really like Dumbledore's methods recently.  It almost made him giddy.


The board filed in for their monthly meeting and Lucius held up a formal notice for a rule challenge.  The head of the board sighed.  "What now?" he asked.

"Dumbledore has taken it upon himself to decide what sort of medicines the girls can be on and how they handle their womanly moments."

"Why?" he demanded.

"Birth control and tampons.  It's not the way it was when he was a lad apparently."  The lone female member, Mrs. Longbottom gasped.  He gave her a bland look.  "Apparently there's a few different methods.  I have a healer's name so we can ask for expert testimony if need-be."

"What are tampons?" she asked.

"Blood controlling devices.  She gave me a sample pack so we can look at them."  She nodded once and sat down.  His son strode in and sat beside him, handing him information.  "What is this on?"

"From Granger, about the other subjects she had informed people about - and she wants it back sometime for her mother.  The headmaster went on a 'muggles can't do that because we can't' rant.  Unfortunately he's mistaken this time."  Lucius looked it over, giving his son a horrified look.  He stared back.  "My unfortunate mate's Aunt Bethany suggested that he take part of that information and use it.  Just in case something were to happen."  He stared at his father.  "I'm not sure he could even if he wanted to.  Something was mentioned about potions?" he asked very quietly.  "We haven't seen them."

"Have you talked to Severus?"

"He seemed not to have any idea what I was talking about, Father."

"I'll ask him myself then."  Draco nodded.  "Where do you stand on this issue?"

He stared at his father.  "If I were eligible to be playing the field, as you did in your day, I would be ecstatic not to have to worry about a wand-point wedding," he said dryly, leaving them alone.

"What is that about?" the head of the board asked, looking resigned.

Lucius looked it over.  "The muggles have a way of storing seed in case of medical mishap.  Also eggs."  He handed it down.  "He wanted my opinion on the fact that his spouse's aunt wants him to use such services in case something happens."

He read it over.  "I would've loved this before I became infertile," he admitted quietly.  A few other members took it to look over.  He looked at the agenda, adding Lucius' petition to it.  "Get your expert, Lucius.  It's a short meeting."  He called her and she showed up a few minutes later with a folder of information for them.  That would make this a very long meeting but it had to be done for the good of the students.


The head of the Board looked at the headmaster a few hours later when the old man walked into his office.  "Unfortunately we feel you have overstepped yourself this time, Dumbledore."  He smirked, handing over the official note.  "There is no legitimate reason to ban birth control or tampons from the students.  Frankly, most of us would not want our children to be burdened with a forced marriage for being needy some night."  He stood up.  "The ban was repealed on a unanimous vote, based on healer testimony.  We were less unanimous about letting the head nurse stock such items, but most of us felt she needed to learn about them first.  Once she's fully qualified to administer them, she is hereby allowed."  He walked off looking smug.  His daughter was going to be put on that over the holidays.  Before she could get into trouble and have to marry someone he'd have to kill.

Dumbledore glared at the doorway and the notice.  This was not how his school should be!  He took the notice with him to the Ministry.  The Minister would back him up on this.  Surely it wasn't good for the wizarding world at large.


Hermione read the paper the next morning, grimacing.  She got up and walked it to over to Draco, handing it to him then huffed back to her seat.

"It's good I don't have to take an account with the paper," Draco said sarcastically, reading the headlines.  He got up and went to call his parents.  His father had been very happy that he could screw any girl he desired and not get her pregnant until he chose a suitable one to bear his heir.  He held up the paper when his mother answered.  She grimaced but took it and walked off, closing the connection.  He smiled as he walked back to his breakfast.  His father might have a good day getting people around to his point of view in the Ministry.  It was a pity Fudge didn't see the benefit of birth control, but then again no one would sleep with him.

Harry looked up from his mashing of breakfast to give him an odd look for that thought.  He sent one back, making Ron choke.  Draco snickered, shaking his head and corrected it.  Harry snickered too and Ron moaned.  "Cheer up, it means Ginny can have as many as she wants and can stop when she's done," he said quietly.  "Maybe with just three kids."

Ron looked at him for a minute.  "Harry, if she crawls on top of a bloke, I'm going to kill them both," he said bluntly.  "The twins'll help."

Harry beamed at him.  "I'll cheer."  Draco sent over a picture of Harry in Draco's favorite quidditch team's cheerleader costumes, making them both shudder.  "Never mind then."  Ron nodded quickly then went to tell the twins.

Ginny looked at him.  "That means I don't have to have one every year when I finally marry," she reminded them.  "I can have two.  One of each.  Then stop forever."  They beamed at that idea.   "Even if it would mean that I'd have to find someone to see so I could get married and give Mum the grandkids she wants so she quits nagging you older boys."

"That's not...."

"A bad plan...." the twins said.

"But I'll still kick their arses," Ron assured her happily.  "Harry can cheer."  That mental picture came back and he glared at Draco for a moment then at her.  "Got it?"

"Sure, I'll pick randomly," she quipped, waving her fork around.

"We'll pick for you," George said.

"We do have very good taste," Fred assured her.

"He won't be ugly..."



"Vain....," the twins said.

"He'll have a job," Ron agreed.  They nodded that was important.  She huffed but oh well, they were her big brothers for a reason.  He went back to his breakfast, looking at Harry.  "Eat."

"Not hungry," he muttered but he did eat a forkful of the mash he had created.

Ron stared at him.  "Nightmares?  I didn't hear any."

"I worked on my shields before bed."

"Wonderful, thank you."  Harry shrugged and ate another listless bite.

Draco finished up and walked up to Professor Snape.  "May I have five minutes sometime today?" he asked politely.

"You may.  Let me finish and we'll discuss whatever, Mr. Malfoy."  He nodded and went to wait down by the office.  They could get this far now.  It was good for their classwork.  Severus came down and let him in, shutting the door again.  "What is this important?"

"This summer, and last year, nutritional potions were mentioned."

Severus frowned.  "They were?"

"They were.  Father said he'd talk to you last night about them."

"I don't remember....."  Draco stared at him.  Severus growled and checked something, ending that dratted spell.  He composed himself again.  "Do we think it's still necessary?  This last summer should have been better for him."

"All of the boys in our year have had at least one salacious moment with themselves in the showers.  Potter can't even figure out what that means."

"I see."  He considered it, nodding.  "I'll talk with him tonight."

"Professor Lupin has him before dinner for his extra teaching time."

"That's fine.  Have him come down before detentions."

"Why would someone make people forget that topic?" he asked quietly.  "Especially with how they want him to handle it if the Dark Lord should come back?"

"I do not know," Severus admitted.  "It's troubling but I will figure that out as well."

"Thank you.  I gave Mum the morning paper Granger gave me."

"What paper?"

"The Prophet had a decree from the Minister banning birth control."

"That's ridiculous."

"Personally I believe he can't see the uses of it because no one would sleep with him."  Snape snorted, shaking his head.  "Has someone?"

"I believe he drugged a few female students in his day," he said dryly.  "Compulsions and blackmail."

"Eww.  Thankfully I'm more worthy than that and won't have to."

"Your mates will know."

"They said they don't care and it may help with Weasley's fascination with breasts on broomsticks," he said dryly.  "Or with Potter's continued nightmares."

"He is?"

"Madam Pomfrey told you that I believe."

Severus sighed.  "I believe I have to start making notes of things about Potter.  Thank you for bringing this problem to my attention, Mr. Malfoy."

"Uncle, I would not want to see what would happen to any of us if Potter had to face him down again with as tired as he's been," he said quietly.  He left him alone.

Severus got his journal to look back.  He always made notes about important conversations because memory charms were so prevalent.  He found the ones he wanted and grimaced.  He felt the thought slip away, making him realize it was coded into the wards.  He would get that old man if he had to.  Snape knew he was bad to the students but not that horrible!


Ron watched Harry nap in Transfiguration, shrugging when the teacher caught him.  She glared at Harry but it didn't wake him.  She checked Draco, who was giving him worried looks as well.  The rest of the class got to work on their practice examples while she came to check him over.

"We spend too much time in the infirmary thanks to him," Draco muttered when she started to call the nurse.  "There's no nightmares yet.  I know he had some last night."

Ron nodded.  "He didn't want to eat breakfast either."  They shared a look and Draco cast the checking charm they had learned from the mediwitch.

The teacher gasped and went to floo someone at the hospital from her office.  She came out a moment later.  "Mr. Malfoy and Weasley, please help your sleeping mate into my office for now so I can wake him and yell."  They nodded, doing that.  She shut the door, knowing the other students would think she was chewing him a new one.  One of the emergency department came through the floo to check the boy over.

Draco put a hand on his wand.  "Nutritional potions have been mentioned a few times but for some reason everyone who talks about it seems to forget."

He looked at the boy under a different charm, nodding.  "He's delayed, it might help.  It's part of what's making him tired."  He cast something different and nodded.  "He needs to be out of here."

"Then we have to go too," Ron told him.  The healer gave him an odd look.  "We're the ones Lockhart bound."

"Oh, dear.  I read about that."  Draco nodded, grimacing.  "Very well, come along."  They all went through the floo together.  "Would that make you legitimate adults or should we have someone called?"

"My father's at work, so's his.  Potter's guardian is Bill Weasley and he's probably in Egypt at the moment."

"Sirius," Ron said.

"That's true, Sirius Black is his godfather and healing here."

"I can have him sent for.  He's been given monthly passes I know."  He had the witch at the desk send up that note and got another healer in to help him.  It wasn't the worst draining they had seen but nearly so.  Plus his other health issues.


Dumbledore looked around at dinner.  "Where is the trio?" he asked quietly.

McGonagall put down her knife and fork.  "When he passed out during classes, Mr. Malfoy cast a checking charm that read he was under a fairly bad curse.  I had him evaluated by a healer and they took them to the hospital.  I dare say he's in a bed."  She sipped her water, then looked at him.  "Before he died this time," she finished quietly.  Remus looked at her.  "I have gotten a floo call from Mr. Weasley.  Harry is fine, he's resting, they do have him on a potion now for his nightmares, and have Sirius waiting with them.   The boys called their fathers already so they wouldn't hear it through gossip.  The healer said he'll be sending him back in about a week, with the proper medicines to help him."  The mediwitch smiled.  "He called?"

"He needed Mr. Potter's folder.  He asked about the bond and I explained what I knew of it so he took all three's in case it carried over.  If he was that poorly it would have been why Mr. Weasley hasn't been quite as loud recently."

"It could be," she agreed.  "And why they haven't been fighting."  She ate another bite of dinner.  "Is he complaining like he gives you?"

"Quite but Sirius growled."  She beamed.  "He's behaving at the moment."  McGonagall smiled back.

"That is against protocol," Dumbledore said mildly.  "He should have went to the infirmary."

"According to the healer, he should have been on nutritional potions last year," she shot back, staring at him.  "But for some reason, even though it's in his file, he wasn't put on any."

"Indeed," Snape said quietly, sipping his own water.  "Because something in the wards is preventing us from remembering he needs them.  Or anything about his nightmares."  He looked down at them.  "Is Mr. Malfoy all right?"

"He's just fine at the moment.  They have Harry in a single room because some unkind reporter tried to break in.  Thankfully Sirius alerted the staff so she could be tossed out a window in front of the emergency entrance.  Much quicker getting her help."  He smirked at that news.  She went back to eating.  The head of the Board walked in and up to them.  "Is there a new problem?"

"The trio?" he asked.  "Lucius was not amused and said to take down the wards if we must."

"He'll be fine.  They're finding out what was draining him and fixing it."

"Excellent.  This problem with the wards?"

"I'm sure it's just a glitch," the headmaster sighed.

The head fo the Board stared at him.  "I would hope so since so much rides on that boy's shoulders."  He walked off.  The boys would have to get used to Lucius being pushy.  Everyone else around him was.


Harry woke up in the school infirmary, blinking around.  "They moved me without waking me up?"

Ron looked at him.  "Yup."  He went back to his reading.  "They knocked you out good to fix that curse and the block and all the other stuff.  Plus start pouring nutritional potions down your throat, Harry."

"I hate being in here."  He sat up, looking around.  "How long?"

"Few more hours.  Another dosage of potion.  Then another fifteen days of them," Draco said from his seat.  "Mother said if we end up in here one more time this year, she's going to show her displeasure on whoever it was that time and then on us."

"It's not my fault," Harry complained.

"No, but it's getting to the point of horrible."  Draco looked at him.  "The healers said that your file was thicker than some critically ill patients' files, Potter.  Also, I cannot save you if Mother decides to fuss over you.  You're on your own."  Ron snickered.  "Your mother has nothing on mine in that area, Weasley.  Mine's quieter but more forceful."

"Any idea who did what this time?" Harry asked.  Since he couldn't hear them in his head.

"It's a potion," Draco said, looking at him.  "It'll last for a few more days so we can be sure to get some sleep as well."  He put his book down, staring at him.  "As for who did it?  Yes, they're saying the wards were miscalibrated and you weren't the only one.  Other than that, no one's admitting anything other than Granger's mother in a mood makes mine look gentle.  Mother helped her find a lawyer and slipped her the renewal potion so when Granger marries her husband won't be disappointed."

"Most muggles don't care about that on the wedding night," Harry said.

"My mother pointed out she had a chance of marrying inside the wizarding world and they would," Draco countered.  He smirked evilly.  "In Mother's day, some girls went to the altar virgins but had 'miraculously conceived due to a potions accident'.  It wasn't uncommon, that way the boy wouldn't have to worry any longer since she had already caught."

"Also, Dad said the Ministry is throwing a fit," Ron said, putting down his book and putting his feet up on the end of Harry's bed.  "Apparently the new diplomat from one of the African countries has a daughter young enough to be in school but she's got children and is married.  They don't want to admit her or her older husband."

"That's probably cultural for them," Draco said.  "Father told me a few of those tribes have multiple wives."  He looked at Potter.  "What?  You're frowning."

"When I went home that first summer, one of the girls I had been in class with was pregnant from fooling around with her boyfriend."

"She was held back?" Draco guessed.

"No.  Same age we are.  I wonder if she kept the baby."

"We would never allow that," Lucius said as he walked in.  "Or her in polite society ever again."  He looked at the boys.  "The one from diplomat is going to be here next year.  She'll be taking classes but living off campus."  They nodded at that.  "Though we do think she's a bit young to be a mother.  Apparently their society has arranged marriages and they start when the girl has settled into womanhood, which they do sooner over there than we do here."

"Harry said one of his former classmates, our age, was pregnant when he went home," Ron told him.

"I heard.  All of twelve and her life is now over with."

"No, not necessarily.  The school has a daycare program for her if she wants to continue to go, or she can get a GED and have her mother sign her up for training so she can work when she's old enough.  It's possible her parents are raising it or she adopted it out.  I didn't get a chance to see her again before coming back."

"You act like this happens all the time," Draco said.

"Sometimes.  It's not fully common but it's not the first time it's happened.  Usually to older girls in their last few years.  The school district runs the daycare and uses it to teach those who want to work in one or run their own someday how to do so.  Plus there's special counselors for them so they can talk to someone who understands having kids and the stresses this puts on them for things like homework."

"It would be hard to study if the baby needed things," Ron admitted, looking at Draco.  "Did you have a governess?"

Draco nodded.  "She transitioned to my first teacher.  That way I was protected if something was going on."

Lucius nodded.  "She was quite good at it.  I hear she has a daughter now who is doing the same thing.  So perhaps when you have an heir, she can come for them."  He looked at the boys.  "It was stopped.  Your appropriate medicines, including for the nightmares, have been sent over and made for you.  This way no more visits up here will be necessary."

"I hope not," Harry sighed.  "I hate being up here."

Lucius smirked.  "The lot of a hero."

"Not like I volunteered, Mr. Malfoy.  Someone had to and that someone ended up being me because I was affected.  He started this whole battle, not me."

"True, but you could let others handle it."

Harry snorted.  "When?  No one wanted to handle him trying for the philosopher's stone in our first year.  The teachers weren't doing more than locking us in our houses after hours when the basilisk was here.  Though it was nice the greenhouse was growing exactly what was needed and it was being taught to our year."  Lucius' mouth fell open.  Draco nodded.  "I have no idea what this year's problem would have been but I had no intention of going to solve things unless I had to and it was affecting us."

"It probably would've been Sirius," Ron pointed out.  "Everyone was in a fit about it.  They were trying to control you thanks to it.  Dumbledore hired Remus due to it."  Harry nodded that was true.  "Any idea what next year's is yet, Mr. Malfoy?"

"I have heard rumors of an old tradition being brought back but nothing concrete."

Ron grimaced.  "Does it require blood sacrifices?"

"No, not that I'm aware of," he said dryly.

"Soul contracts?" Draco asked.

"I'd certainly hope not since this is a school," he said casually.

"A new defense teacher since I doubt the Board would let Remus stay?  Though we'd like it.  It's nice that he's teaching us things we should've learned last year."

Lucius looked at him.  "Don't push your luck."

"Damn.  I was hoping.  It'd be nice to have a defense teacher that taught us things.  Especially since the OWLs are only two years away as Hermione keeps reminding us."

Lucius nodded.  "I'll make sure next year's is suitable.  How about that?"

"Sure," Harry agreed with a grin.  "Thanks.  Think you can make it one that won't try to kill me?  Unlike the first two?  Or maybe one that handles the problem of the year himself?" he asked hopefully.

"I'll see if I can find any shiny knights," he said dryly, shaking his head.  "Or an auror with a hero complex."

Ron grinned.  "Please?  That we don't have to follow Harry into whatever happens."  Draco stared at him.  "If we're going, you'd have to, huh?"

"Don't remind me," he complained.  "I will learn tying hexes and use them."

Lucius patted his poor son on the shoulder.  "We will see if we can make it a safe school year next year."  He walked off shaking his head but he did tell Narcissa she could go fuss.  It would make their minds go back to normal, boyish, student things.  Plus Ron's broomstick fetish that he was broadcasting.  Clearly someone needed to have a talk with the boy.  Women weren't built that way, men weren't built that way, and broomsticks did not have perky breasts that bounced when you flew or rolled.


Lucius was looking into what the next year's 'old tradition' would be.  He had a bad feeling and he had never even taken Divinations.  When he found out what it was, he nearly complained to Merlin.  He'd have to stop that because otherwise someone would somehow put Potter's name in the cup.  Which meant that all three of them would be legally bound to participate in the Tournament.  Which would mean his precious heir would end up dead.  Potter had been right, the defense teachers were horrible and they hadn't learned a thing in years.  So, perhaps an auror with a hero complex would be a good idea.


Dumbledore got the notice from Minister Fudge that he wanted to talk to him about the Triwizard Tournament he had planned for the next year.  That earned a sigh and a trip to the Ministry.  He was let in as soon as he made it to the Minister's office.  "You have a problem with the plan for that event?" he asked calmly.

"I did.  It was felt there were not enough safeguards for younger students to put their names in the cup, Albus."

He looked at him.  "You must be at least seventeen."

"Or a legal adult," he said dryly.  "Arthur Weasley thinks that someone will take Potter's name and put it in there.  That is a loophole, anyone can put someone else's name in even if they aren't seventeen."  Albus winced at that.  "Which would mean all three boys had to compete if what the binding's information book says is true."  He looked smug.  "Also, there's been a complaint issued about your defense teacher this year."

"Remus Lupin is an excellent teacher."

"Yes, we've heard from numerous students that they're finally learning something this year.  Madam Bones has suggested perhaps an auror next year if Lupin can't return?"

"I'll consider that option," he agreed.  "The other schools have agreed to participate."

"Then I'd warp the cup so you can't put someone else's name in and you have to go by the age limit, not adulthood, Dumbledore."  He smirked evilly.  "Or else there's going to be another problem that would end with Potter in the infirmary.  Which will make the papers.  Again."

"He's determined not to get into any more trouble."

"As far as the aurors who investigated the last few incidents could tell, it's not been the boys' fault."

"Not fully," he said.

"The wards?  The boys can't do anything with them, can they?  They couldn't in my years."

Dumbledore bit back the retort that he hadn't been much more than a squib then and still wasn't.   So of course he hadn't been touched by the wards.  "It was a glitch and it's now fixed."  He nodded.  "If you'll excuse me, I'll work on those stipulations and we're reopening Slytherin this weekend."  He left, going to brood in his office.  Why were things going so horribly wrong?  Everyone was looking forward to the tournament.  It'd be morale building.

Though, an auror he could hire if they wanted.  He had just the role model for the boys.


Harry looked around the slytherin dorm.  They were bac k in it, had been for a few months now, and it was the holidays so most everyone had went home.  Which suited him just fine; now he could relax more.  He had some plans of course, and Narcissa had helped him plot out a few things plus get permission.  He sat up and counted his allowance pouch.  It had a lot because he never bought more than sweets in town when they were allowed to go.  He had a lot more than he thought.  He stared at the small stacks and sighed.  Seventeen hundred.  Draco supplied the exchange rate currently based on what the paper said.  So about eighty-five-hundred Pounds.  Yeah, he could make a happy first christmas with that.  He got up and changed, then put the galleons back into the sack.  He grabbed his jacket and went to find the other two.  Ron had gotten Draco to play chess with him in the common area.  Only Crabbe had stayed and he was staring at them like they had four heads each.

Draco looked at him.  "Are you sure we have to go to muggle London?"

"Yes, I wanted to look at the decorations."

"Ours are more interesting," Draco pointed out.

"There's nowhere in Diagon to get holiday things."

"Good point.  Does this mean I have to get dressed?" Ron asked.

"Decent clothes.  They won't let you in Harrod's in jeans and a t-shirt."  Ron sighed but nodded, going to get dressed in better clothes.  Draco was still impeccably dressed.  As usual.   "No cloak, Draco.  It's not exactly the usual thing for muggles to wear."  He huffed but put it away.  They left, going to the bank first.  The headmaster had their permission forms and Snape was accompanying them that far.  Draco had asked nicely and bribed him with a book from the manor's potions library.   Lucius handed it over when he met them in the bank with an evil smirk.  Harry smiled.  "Thank you for escorting us, Mr. Malfoy."

"I wanted to see what they could get up to without magic anyway.  It will of course prove their inferiority but sometimes it's...amusing to see."

Harry smiled.  "Wait until you see the moving ornaments and things."  He bounced over to a desk.  "I need to change this to muggle money."

"Euros or pounds?" the goblin asked as he took the bag.

"Pounds.  We're going to Harrods."

The goblin nodded at that information.  "I'm told the display this year is typically fantastic."  He changed it out, handing over the envelope.  "There."  Harry signed the paper for the small fee for the exchange and they left.

Lucius took the envelope from him and put it into his own jacket pocket.  "That way it won't get stolen."  The boys walked out of the Diagon entrance together, him following.  They walked through the Leaky and Harry got them a cab easily enough.  It came and Lucius paid once they were at their destination.  It wasn't immense but bigger than most stores in the wizarding world.  "Why here?" he asked.

Harry smiled, pointing at a window.  "Those sort of displays.  It's our first holiday together, Mr. Malfoy."

"Good point.  I understand the need for family rituals."  He looked, frowning.  "They're moving.  Magic?"

"Electronics and robotics," Harry said happily.  He walked them inside, taking them to look at the other displays.  Harry picked up a few blown glass ornaments.  A few candle holders as well, plus some pretty candles to put in them.  Draco frowned so he let him smell them.  "They can scent them."

"I can smell the pine."  He turned his head and sneezed.  "Anything less...loud smelling?"

Harry looked.  "Berry, pumpkin...."  Draco sniffed them, selecting what he wanted.  Ron got one thick one of the evergreen and Harry had to pick out a holder for it.  They checked out for those and went up to the clothing floor.  Lucius was staring around but Harry knew where they needed to go.  He had looked at the map.  "Over here, guys."  They followed him and Lucius followed the boys.  Sure enough, teenage boy clothes.  Jeans, dress pants, shirts, t-shirts, underwear.  Shoes.  Draco grimaced but Harry and Ron stocked up.  "Do we have enough left?" Harry asked.

Lucius looked in the envelope, shrugging.  "It appears to be quite a lot."  Harry took it to look over and nodded, handing it back.  He got a pair of sneakers too and they checked out.  "What else is here?"

"Women's clothes, household things," Harry said.  "We can look there if you wanted.  Jewelry for Mrs. Malfoy's present."

"She has already picked out what she wanted," he assured him.  He took the boys that way anyway.  They had to learn how to deal with family jewelry.  He was sure the Potters had some somewhere.  Draco certainly had some waiting on him to reach majority and then when his mother died.  He studied the pieces, nodding.  "That is very pretty.  Blue diamonds are rare among our shops," he said quietly.  "How much is that?" he asked the confused looking saleswoman.

She looked then smirked.  "Eleven thousand Pounds, sir."

"Hmm.  Less than it would be at the shop my wife usually frequents to spoil herself."  He walked off, taking the boys to the Leaky Cauldron.  They did pause by the holiday showpieces again.  Harry got another ornament and paid for it then they left.  Lucius let them have the money back because his head was throbbing thanks to that noise they called music.

Ron grinned.  "Holiday music hurts your ears," he agreed.  "The rest of the time it's probably more quiet and less crowded."

"Definitely," Harry agreed.  "But the holidays are special."  He smiled at the bags.  "We should've gotten some treats.  They have cakes and things."

"We can get them in our own shopping area," Draco ordered.  Mentally he was begging not to have to go back.  He was tired just from that hour and a half and his head hurt a lot.  Harry nodded, giving him a sheepish look.  "I'll show you some of the other shops that aren't in Diagon.  Are we spending the night at the Leaky, Father?"

"No.  You can go back to the school to set all that up," he ordered.  The boys nodded.  "We'll go to the other places after the holiday madness has lessened."  They all smiled and nodded.  "Do we have enough to suit ourselves?"  The boys nodded.  "Draco, you're getting new clothes in one present."

"I figured I was since I usually do," he agreed, smiling at his father.  The boys got out ahead of them.  "Thank you for humoring them.  It does mean a lot to Potter to make his own family rituals."

"I understand that urge.  As did your mother and Mr. Weasley's mother."  He walked them back and charmed the delicate glass pieces so they wouldn't break in the floo.  He sent the boys back home and was relieved to be free.  He got a drink and went to find himself some chocolate.  He swore that ungodly musical noise was worse than a dementor at sucking him dry.


Harry handed Ron the bags of clothes.  Crabbe looked up from reading so he grinned.  "We're decorating.  Want to help?  Draco has a headache."

"Sure, Potter."  He got up to help him put up a wreathe and the candles around it.  The ornaments were pretty.  "Where did you get those?"

"Harrods."  He smiled.  "They had some fantastic ones again this year."  Draco came in with his bottle of headache potion.  "What do you think?"

He looked then pointed.  "Move the large one to the center and the others varying outward to mimic the wreathe."  He downed the potion as they did that.  Draco lit a few of them and Crabble grinned.  "Some were strongly scented but I made him get more subtle ones."  They finished with the ornaments and it was pretty.  Harry beamed at him for that mental comment.  "Where's Weasley?"

"Dealing with the new clothes."

"That's fine."  He waved a hand.  "I doubt he gets too much that's brand new with the way they hand down clothes."  He settled in to look at the display.  The others hadn't decorated at all before they left.  It was only them and Crabbe in the dorms.  Snape walked in and stared at the decorations.  "They even managed to have some that moved for the display," Draco told him quietly.

Snape looked at him.  "Scented candles?"  Draco nodded.  "Interesting."  He looked.  "Are they delicate?"

"They're glass but not that thin," Harry offered, letting him touch one to test it.  "The house elves should leave it alone.  Right?"

"They should, yes," he agreed.  He put it back and looked over it.  "Nicely arranged, Mr. Malfoy."  Draco smirked at him.  "I know he decorates and I doubt either of you are that artistic."  He looked around.  "Mr. Weasley?"  He came down from their room in new jeans and a new shirt.  He stared at him.  "Clearly muggle."

"That's an undershirt," Harry told him.

"I can tell.  Put on a real shirt, Mr. Weasley.  Miss Bulstrode is coming back early."  He nodded, going to find one and put it on as he came back down.  "Better," he decided.  "What other plots do you three have?"

"Mother's for Christmas Eve, then the Burrow for Christmas," Draco said.

"That's what I forgot, to pick up presents for the parents," Harry sighed.

"I'm not going back out there with those millions of muggles and that ghastly music," Draco said firmly.  "We can shop in town."  That got a nod from Harry.   Who, exactly, was Rudolph anyway?"

"One of the reindeer that pull Santa's sleigh, but he was still young and a bit different due to his nose so the others didn't like him as much," Harry said with a small shrug.

Draco blinked at him.  "Excuse me?  Talking reindeer?"

Harry smiled.  "It's a children's story, Draco."

"Fine.  Whatever.  Still migraine inducing."  Harry sighed but left it at that.  He looked at his head of house.  "Mother should appreciate a good book."

"Probably.  She does like to read," he agreed.  "There's that fabric and yarn shop for Mrs. Weasley," he added to save Draco's sanity.  Harry beamed and nodded.  He left them to their giddy minded stupidity before it ruined his mind as well.  He did not want sucked into their holiday glee.

Harry settled down to stare at the decorations.  He'd have to carefully pack them when the holiday was over with.  As long as no one bothered them.  He looked at the aunt in the painting.  "Aunt Beth, did we have any usual holiday rituals?"

"Beyond a dinner?" she asked.  "Not really, Harry."

"Any decorations for the tree?"

She blinked a few times.  "Well.....  There's some older ones but they're mostly in tatters.  Grandmother Henrietta bought all new ones a few decades before she died and they're probably tattered now too.  I do like those glass balls.  They're very pretty and capture the light very well."  Harry beamed at her for that.  She smiled back.  "I'll ask the others if they left any in the family vault."

Draco considered things in his private mind, behind his shields.  Why was this so important to Potter?  He looked at the boy.  Maybe it was time to probe some memories.  "What was the last present you got from your family?" he asked quietly.

"A few tissues."

"Tissues?  Like you blow your nose on?" he asked to make sure.

Ron nodded.  "His aunt sent them.  How many presents do you think your cousin got this year, Harry?"

"Probably a good ten or twelve like usual."  He shrugged.

Draco thought on what he knew of those relations of Potter's.  "My mum usually read me something on Christmas Eve while we were waiting on dinner.  It kept me calm and made me wait longer for presents," he offered.  Harry smiled at him.  "I... maybe I can get her to do it this year?"

"If she'd like," Harry agreed quietly, still smiling.  "Holiday stories or other things?"

"Last year it was about the lineage of the Hapsburg family in Austria."

"Interesting?" Ron asked.

"Some.  They were the ruling family that underlined the monarchies in most of Europe at their height."  Ron nodded once at that, mentally shaking his head.

Harry smiled.  "I guess we're too old for holiday stories anyway, Draco.  It's wonderful that she keeps that tradition."

He smiled back.  "I'll ask, see if she'll do it even though you two will be there."  He felt the happiness that offer brought and decided maybe starting some family rituals weren't so bad of an idea.  After all, they were officially married to each other.  "Any in your family, Weasley?"

"Picking on the others mostly while Mum cooks and Dad gives us all tolerant looks.  Most of the time we don't visit the cousins or anything like that.  Some may pop around for a drink and a chat but nothing like an extended dinner."  He shrugged.  "I spent last year picking on the twins."

"I suppose that's what you do with siblings," he decided.  He got back to his book.  Harry was curled up at the other end of the couch, staring at the ornaments.  Draco ... well he was feeling mushy and he wasn't sure why.  Fortunately Millicent walked into the house in a snit.  "Family having a fight?"

"Of course.  What else would they do over the holidays," she snorted.  She stared at the display.  "Who put that up?"

"Me," Harry said.  "Vincent helped."

She stared at him.  "Why did you decorate down here?"

"So I could stare at it," he told her.  "Why else do you decorate for the holidays?"

She huffed.  "That's such a *girl* thing to do, Harry.  It's clear that the bonding is good for you."  She stomped off.

Draco looked at him.  "It's her temper," he said quietly.

"He's right, most of the time Mothers are more into decorating but my father likes to do the tree," Ron told them to calm Harry down.  Harry shrugged, slumping down some more.  Millicent came down and stomped out again.  "She's in a foul mood."

"Her parents fight all the time," Vincent said from his seat.  "I think it's brilliant, Harry."  Harry gave him a weak smile.  "Fortunately mine are in Paris right now or I'd be at home being bored and listening to them complain about my aunt's fruitcake."  Draco shuddered.  "I take it you got some?"

"Yes and since she was there to hand it over in person we had to each eat a slice.  Father had a sudden call-in to work for an emergency," he said dryly.  "I swear I got drunk off it."

Vincent nodded.  "I usually do."  Millicent stomped back in and he sighed.  "Let me...."  He followed her to calm her down.  She was throwing things around her room so he got in her way, staring at her.  "Potter's trying to start some family holiday rituals," he said quietly.  "Because his didn't celebrate it."  She slumped onto her bed.   He sat beside her.  "What were they fighting about this time?"

"My future spouse.  Mum wanted me to marry Draco or you but now he's off the market thanks to Lockhart and I like you, Vinnie, but not that way."

He grinned.  "Thanks for that.  My mother suggested I give her a list so she could figure out which one she'd hate the least.  She suggested I choose someone I could talk to because we live a long time and friends are better than spouses who don't speak."

Millicent looked at him.  "Perhaps."  She slumped back against her headboard.  "Why did he decorate?  Don't they have a tree in Gryffindor?"

"They haven't been very polite when they've hung out with their friends," Vincent sighed.  "I don't know what's crawled up their bums.  Did you complain?  Snape might make him take it down and Harry's not real ...settled right now by what I saw."

"I said it was dumb but otherwise no.  Didn't his family do a tree?  I'm sure his aunt did something.  Most of them do."

"Harry said he got tissues last year."

She gave him an odd look.  "Excuse me?"

He nodded.  "Apparently his cousin's getting about a dozen things."

"But.... he's Potter.  We all know that he's got to have a family that supports him and cheers him on."

Draco walked in and shut the door.  "No he doesn't.  They loathe the very thought of magic."  She stared, looking horrified.  "Just... don't start on that topic in front of him please.  Jenara, last year's little butterfly we thought should've been a Ravenclaw?  She'd probably understand very well.  This is important to him, Millie."

"I'm fine with it.  I won't touch it," she said, waving a hand.  "Have your parents met his?"

"No, my father said that killing them and dark marking their house would get him the wrong sort of attention."  She swallowed.  He nodded.  "We're heading home for the holiday meals.  Want to come?  Either of you?  Mother said to invite whoever was stuck here."

"I might," Millicent said quietly.  "Weasley?"

"We're going to his house for the holiday dinner on the day.  Mother's having ours on the eve as usual."

"That's fine, Draco.   Tell her I'll gladly accept," Vincent said with a grin.

"I can do that.  Millicent?"

"Sure, why not.  What are you getting this year?"

Draco shrugged.  "I don't know yet."  He walked off, finding Harry still staring at the ornaments.  "They're coming to dinner with us," he said quietly.

"That's fine.  Millicent and Vincent have been very decent to us," Ron assured him with a smile.

Beth reappeared with a cleared throat.  "There's not many ornaments left but we do have the tree out back at the manor house that we usually decorate.  It's getting a bit huge to fully decorate but it's still there.  So next year, you can come decorate that with us, Harry."  He smiled at her.  Beth heard Eleanor complaining and went to stop her.  "Be right back, boys."  She went to nag the loudmouths of the family.  Clearly they weren't helping their nephew in the ways he needed.  Eleanor especially.  She finally had enough and lost her temper, hexing the rest of them into stillness so she could rant at them.

Ron looked at the painting.  "Beth is yelling at Eleanor, Harry."

He looked at him.  "I think they do that a lot but I have no idea how to make them stop, Ron."  He shrugged.

"Good point."  He tapped the edge of the painting.  "Aunt Beth, we can hear you," he called.  The yelling got quieter.  He grinned.  It had been yelling about being better to Harry and them.  That was nice to hear.  "Are there other family homes, Harry?"

"Beyond my parents' house?" he guessed.  "I'm told that was snatched for a public memorial."  He snorted.  "I have no idea how they legally did that with me alive."  He settled in to think.  "I'm told there's an old ruins of a house somewhere."  He shrugged.  "I don't know.  Ask them when they're done fussing at each other over whatever it is this time."

"I can do that."

Draco considered it.  "The Ministry can confiscate things if it is in the interest of national security but not for a memorial.  How did they do that?"  He went to look that up in the library.  That made no sense.  He brought the book to his head of house.  "Is that legal?" he asked dryly.

Snape read the account of the stealing then shook his head.  "No.  Someone had to sign off on it."

"He had no legal wizarding guardian though," Draco pointed out.

"Tell your father, Mr. Malfoy.  That is his sort of job."

"Good point."  He wrote out a message and sent it to his father.  That way he could look into it.  He went back to the common room, handing Harry the book.  Which disappeared as soon as he touched it.  "Interesting."

Harry smirked.  "I've had a few others that mentioned my parents that did that.  I don't know why someone doesn't want me to know about my family."

"That's not reasonable," Draco agreed.  Ron nodded.  "Have you asked the librarian?"

"She said it was done as a kindness so I didn't have to mope, her words, over losing them so tragically young."

"Ah.  I see."  He nodded once.  "Huh."  He sent that to his father as well.  His mother was busy or he'd have told her.  Perhaps they'd be having a long chat after the holiday dinner.


Lucius read the note a second time.  "How on earth?"  The other owl landed and hooted at him.  "You must be Potter's beast," he said dryly, taking the note.  "Thank you, Hedwig."  She hooted and left again.  She was flashy and large, Potter must love her for it.  He read that note.  That was insane.  He went to the ministry archive to look up that event.  Those sort of events had to be legally registered.  The snatching and the spell were both in there.  Interesting.  He brought it to a few others on the judicial council.  Clearly someone did not follow Ministry regulations or protocol.


Harry was summoned up to the office, walking in to find Lucius waiting on him.  "Mr. Malfoy, is there a problem?"

"Yes, but not of your doing, Mr. Potter."  He handed him a book and it disappeared.  Lucius summoned it back.  "That is illegal," he told the headmaster firmly.

"It was done as a kindness," he countered.  "So he wouldn't read anything that might upset him."

"I'd rather know since I don't remember them," Harry said firmly.  Dumbledore flinched.  "How did they take my parents' house, Mr. Malfoy?"

"The deed still belongs to you, Mr. Potter.  They simply appointed a caretaker you pay and put up a monument you pay to upkeep."

Harry nodded.  "What makes my parents sacrificing themselves for me any different than any other parent that tried to do the same?"

"What?" Lucius asked.

"I'm told that why I survived the killing curse was something my mother did to protect me by sacrificing her life."

Lucius shook his head.  "No, that's not how magic works, Potter."

"How would I know?  I can only go on what we're told and that sort of thing probably won't ever be covered.  What did my mother do?  That way we can tell other parents?"

He considered it.  "I do not know.  The curse breaker that removed your link the third time and the fourth said that there was a spell from something they had run into in the past in a tomb.   Not specifically what it was."

Harry nodded.  "So, the Ministry took my inheritance without anyone's authority?"

"Basically," he agreed.  "Though you do still have the vaults."  Harry pulled out a letter to hold it up.  He snatched it to read, grimacing.  "That is not legal either."

Harry stared at him.  "I hope like hell some auror was born on my birthday.  I really do."  Lucius stared at him.  "I..."  He walked off.  "We'll be there at eight for dinner, Mr. Malfoy?"

"Six," he ordered.  "Give his mother time to fuss over him, Potter."  The boy nodded before closing the door.  It wasn't a slam.  No, this time the temper was hotter than that.  He looked at Dumbledore.  "You've just lost your warrior I do believe."

"He cannot leave."

"He can.  There's other schools."  He left, going to stop the current stupidity of the Ministry.  Even if Fudge was pressing things, there was the International Courts.  This would make some fine headlines as well.

Harry walked in and looked at the small display then picked it up and blew out the candles.  He called down a packing box and packed it all away.  Millicent was the only one in the common room but he didn't pay her any attention.  She was presently trying to pretend to be invisible on the arm of the couch.  Harry carefully carried the box up to the dorms and packed things.  Then he shrank them and walked off.

Ron and Draco had been napping but they came running after him.  Ron had his things already packed.  Draco was casting the packing charm and looking strangled again.  So apparently Potter had left the school.  They had to follow or they might die from the strain on the bond.

Millicent got up and walked out, going to her head of house.  "Professor?" she said quietly.  He looked up from his writing a new test.  "I believe Mr. Potter has decided to visit for the holidays a bit earlier than planned," she said quietly.

"Indeed?  Why do you think that?"  He put down his quill.

"Because of the cloud that was around him when he was packing his things and stomping out.  The other two followed at a run but by the time Draco made it down the stairs he looked like he was about to die from being choked."  She came in.  "I don't know what happened.  He was annoyed and pissed off earlier.  Then a house elf said that Mr. Malfoy was waiting on him in the office?"

Snape considered it.  "I'll talk to Mr. Malfoy myself.  Do not let on."

"Of course not, sir.  Vincent's going to be heartbroken he won't get to go eat dinner with them."

"I'm sure they'll show up there.  Mr. Malfoy knows not to piss his mother off."  She grinned and nodded, leaving it with him.  He considered all he knew and then called the Slytherin house elf.  "Why did Mr. Malfoy summon Mr. Potter to the office?"

She shrugged.  "Was not Moppy that got him, Professor."

"Thank you.  Send me Dobby please."  If anyone in this castle knew anything, Dobby would.  He doted on Potter.  That house elf and his socks on his ears popped in.  "What happened to Mr. Potter this time?"

Dobby looked around then at him.  "Harry Potter was gotten letter that said the Ministry was thinking his inheritance was theirs since they had captured his house, Professor Snape. Then Dobby was getting Harry Potter for Lucius Malfoy for talk that upset him because Harry Potter asked about that letter."

Snape mentally sighed.  "What else happened in that meeting?"

"Lucius Malfoy is not looking pleased.  Harry Potter is not with family yet either."  Snape stared at him.  "Dobby does not know where Harry Potter goes."

"Make sure they make it to the house later on and tell me if they do not," he ordered.  Dobby nodded.  "Dismissed."  He called Lucius.  "What did you do and you might want to provide a portkey for them wherever they're hiding."

"They're ...hiding?"

"Yes.  Apparently Mr. Potter is in a snit of epic proportions and left the school with his things."

"Interesting.  He was wondering how the Ministry had the balls to steal his parents' home and now trying to take his inheritance vault."

"As Dobby told me.  Anything else I should be aware of?"

"Not that I know of.  Of course the other two took off with him?"

"Miss Bulstrode said that Mr. Potter walked off and they had to catch up.  Described a cloud around him."

"I see."  He nodded.  "Then we'll see what comes of this move.  Thank you for letting us know that Draco may be late to dinner.  Tell the other two that they can still show up."  His head disappeared and he went to swear in his office for a few minutes.  What on earth did that boy have in mind?

TBC in part 4

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