Year One: The Beginning.

Halfrek, ancient friend to Anya in the demon circles they ran in, appeared in the middle of Buffy's living room, startling them all.  "I hate to say this, folks, but you've got bad stuff coming and I'm here with an offer."  Anya glared at her as Xander stopped the movie and Buffy sighed.

"What bad stuff?" Buffy asked.  "Another world ending?  Major demon?  World-wide breakout of back and breast zits?"

Halfrek looked at her.  "No, sweetie, worse.  Do you think you can kill a Goddess and then the very First Evil?"  Buffy's mouth opened and Halfrek nodded, making Anya moan.  "It's been put around that it'll happen but my boss, and Anya's former boss, hates that it could.  He likes the bad guys, but not enough to share power if you lose."  Everyone frowned at her for that. "Trust me, it's very possible.  But, there is a way out.  We can change one thing and make a sacrifice of someone and it'll be okay.  They won't happen ever again.  Things will be the normal bad around here.  No Gods."  Buffy nodded slowly at that.  "It'll also help in another place and their problems so he doesn't have to share with their psycho bad guy."  She looked at the current group of Slayerettes.  "But the problem is, one of you has to make the sacrifice and give it up."

Buffy looked at her friends.  "I should."

"No, Buffy, you're more important than we are," Willow said firmly. "I should go.  Tara's a good witch and I know you'll look out for her."

"Yeah, but I've been dead before and it wasn't any big deal," she reminded her.

Anya leaned over to get into their fight.  "Ladies, being dead before doesn't matter.  In this sort of case, it's got to be a heartfelt sacrifice.  That means you've got to want to go on the line for the good of everyone."

"Then it's clearly my job.  That's in the slayer's handbook somewhere.  I'm sure Giles would back me up if he was here."

Willow frowned at her.  "No it's not!  You're already in danger and who would we get if you died?  The world needs you, Buffy, they've got more witches.  You've got Anya and Tara and I *know* you'll guard my witch for me."

Xander got up and walked over to Halfrek.  "Will it hurt?" he asked quietly.

"No, Xander, it won't hurt," she assured him.  "Not for more than a second."

"Will I remember them?"

She stroked his cheek.  "They'll remember you.  You, if you go, will be going to a new life.  You won't remember this at all."

He considered it, then looked at her. "You're sure it won't hurt?"

"As painless as I can make it," she promised, smiling at him.

"Can I say goodbye?"  She nodded so he walked over to kiss Willow on the cheek.  "Let's talk about this rationally," he offered.  "Debate the various points on which one should go."

Buffy pointed at Xander.  "See, he knows we need you here, not me.  There's always another Slayer coming, we don't get witches as powerful as you all the time and you've got a great future.  I can barely pass a class in my native language."  She let Xander hug her too, figuring he was being mushy.

Xander walked over and kissed Anya, making her smile.  "It'll be fine.  Help them make a decision."  She nodded, moving closer to get more involved.  He walked back to the vengeance demon's side.  "Can I take a picture with me?"

"You won't remember them, Xander. You'll have a whole new life with a lot of new friends, and a few twists and turns of your own."  She took his hand.  "Wish granted," she announced, fading out with Xander.

"Hey!  No, not him!" Buffy called.  "Take me!"  She hopped up but it was too late, he was gone.  She glared at Anya.  "Did you know he was going to do that?"  She sniffled and shook her head, starting to cry.

"Shh," Willow soothed, moving to hold her.  "We'll take care of you, Anya.   He did it for the good of everybody, even if he was being a sneaky pete."



The woman on the table groaned and pushed, letting out a scream of pain as the baby finally came.  "Hellfires!" she shouted.  "Make it stop!"

"Push!" the doctor ordered.  "Just one more, Miss Birmingham, he's nearly here!"  She pushed and screamed as the baby finally came free, and his screams echoed hers.  "Ooh, a beautiful baby boy," he congratulated, cutting the cord and handing him over.  "Hold him for just a moment while I get this afterbirth."  He picked up his wand and cast the charm to speed that delivery up, then came over to check the baby, doing his birth certificate.  "Let's see, what's today?" he asked, checking his calendar.  "July 27th.  Good."  He glanced at her.  "Do you have a name picked out?"

"Alexander Ozwitch Birmingham."

"Not after his father?" he asked, looking at her.  She shook her head.  "I really should put his name on here."

"If you do, he's as good as dead," she panted, pushing a bit to make the afterbirth come faster.

"Oh."  He looked at the baby, then at her.  "He's wanted by You-Know-Who?"  She nodded, biting her lip.  "It won't be more than a few moments, Miss Birmingham."  He looked at the baby, then at her.  "Are you sure?"

"He's got a signed death warrant," she promised.  "If He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named finds out Alex there lived, he'll be dead within a week, as well as me and his father.  Please, I'm begging."

"Fine, it's unusual and an extraordinary circumstance.  I won't put his name on the certificate."   He went back to filling in the pertinent details when the door slammed open and his patient screamed, making him look.  "Who are you and why are you in here?  This is a sterile area!   Get out! Right now!"

The blond man sneered at him.  "I doubt you'll need to worry about germs, doctor."  He pointed his wand at him.  "Crucio."  The doctor fell down screaming.  Lucius picked up the baby and held it out at arm's length, staring at it.  "Well, you're small and already annoying the Dark Lord," he sneered.  "Best get on with this.  After all, you're his."

"Like hell!" she shouted, taking her son back.  "Help!  Intruder!  He cursed the doctor!"

"Oh, do shut up," he sneered, pointing his wand at her.  "Crucio!"  She screamed and fought, holding onto her baby through the thrashing.  The only thing saving her was the pregnancy.  The bleeding she was doing and the last of her hormone, and therefore magic, swings were still coming.  She did the stupidest and bravest thing she had ever done, she repelled the spell and sent it back on the caster.  She tried to get up but she couldn't move.  "Help!" she screamed.  A nurse came running in.  "He cursed the doctor," she panted, pointing at the certificate.  "Give!  Now!"  The nurse looked confused but handed it over, being stopped from checking on the patients on the floor by the new mother.  She filled in something, then found her wand, casting a spell from the baby to the certificate to the nurse.  "Give him to my mother!" she ordered, tossing over her wallet.  "Her business card is in there!"

"I...I can't!"

"You must or we'll all die!" she shouted.  "Take my son and go!  He's a Death Eater!  The father's under a death curse!  The Dark Lord wants my son!  Take him to my mother now!"   She nodded, leaving with the baby but sending in help.

Lucius finally got free and glared at her.  "You'll pay," he warned.  "Avada...."



Alex looked at the pile of mail that had come.  "Is my letter in there?" he demanded.

His grandmother glared at him.  "What makes you think you're getting one, Alexander?"

"Because I can do magic and it's tradition?" he suggested snidely.  He hated his grandmother.  She hated him.  She had told him repeatedly she hated him and why she hated him and in how many ways she hated him.  And now the feeling was mutual.  "It's also only two days until my birthday and I'm told they usually come about then."

"You won't be getting one. Your magic is weak and barely able to do anything."

Alex stole her wand and pointed it at her.  "Engorgio!"  She shrieked as she inflated and floated up, making him sneer at her.  "Are you sure it wasn't subtlety and not weakness, Grams?"   He heard a new owl flying and let her go, running for the front door.  He grinned and took the letter addressed to him.  "Finally!  Did you get lost?"  The owl hooted and then flew off.  He danced and held it against his chest.  "I'm finally going!  I'm finally going!  I'm going to Hogwarts!"

"Only if you survive that long," his grandmother sneered, making a grab for him.  He glared back and she flinched.  "We'll see if you go."

"You can't refuse to send me, Grams.  It's against the law to refuse to send a witch or a wizard of proper age who has a letter to Hogwarts.  It's in the green lawbook I was forced to read last summer."  He walked off, going up to his room.  "When are we going shopping?"

"You can take the elf and go tomorrow," she said, watching him walk away.  "Too much like your mother, boy," she hissed.  "You'll pay for that some day.  I'll have to make sure of it."  She went back to her writings, pulling out a new piece of parchment to start a letter.  Being a barrister was a good hobby for her.  She felt a twinge in her left forearm and rubbed the spot.  "Yes, he'll be back someday soon and you'll definitely pay for not going as planned to the altar to give him more power."


Alex looked around the Great Hall a few weeks later, watching everything while awaiting his turn with the hat.  It was a creepy old thing but he knew what it was for.  His Grams had told him about it a few times.  Especially how it hated his mother.  When his name was called he walked up and parked his butt on the stool, waiting patiently for the hat to come down on his head.  "Hi."

"Ah, hello, young man.  Very interesting in here. Yes, quite interesting.  Very powerful but very angry.  Very strong willed, but a streak of cruelty."  The hat made a humming noise.  "Where should we put you?  You're not in the least bit bookish.  All the knowledge you have was forced upon you."

"Mostly literally," he agreed sarcastically.

"Yes, I can see that.  Well, not Ravenclaw definitely.  You would do well in Slytherin I believe but there would be many conflicts for you.  Power, yes, great power could come to you but also great darkness.  Or I could put you in Gryffindor.  You're nothing if not brave and mouthy.  They appreciate that over there.  Or I could put you in Hufflepuff."

Alex snorted.  "Are you daft?"

"Well, no, but I was asked to put you there, you see.  I don't want to disappoint that person."

"Who asked you to missort me?  Because that would truly be a missorting for the record books."

"The Headmaster thought it would be kinder and easier on you over there."

"I don't know the meaning of the world loyalty.  It was never taught to me."

"True.  All very true.  And still a very impressive pool of anger."

"Do you blame me much?"

"No, not in the least.  I remember your mother and father, boy.  He was always so quiet.  You're a lot like her.  She was a Slytherin you know."

"No, I hadn't.  Do you know who my father is?"

"Indeed I remember him well.  He's in this very school watching you as we speak," he promised.  "Did she not tell you his name?"

"Um, no, rather not.  Unfortunately the bastard with the wand who killed her rather precluded that talk."

"Ah.  I'm sorry then.  No wonder you were raised by *her*.  She alone of all the Death Eaters is still feared and not talked about."

"So I gathered as she tortured me.  So, which side then?"

"That depends.  Do you want to chance the darkness *she* touches?  The one that your mother walked away from?  The one she kept you safe from so far? Or would you rather be safe, mostly unhappy, and find ways to use your skills to the benefit of others?"

"Both sound rather boring and a lot like working with people."

The hat laughed.  "Indeed.  Do you have a choice?"

"Would Slytherin help me more?"

"No.  Neither house will help you over the other.  You would have conflicts either way.  You may heal in Gryffindor.  They're very firm on the theories of healing.  Plus you can find new ways to use your temper, anger, and cruel streak to amuse and entertain your housemates.  The Weasley twins could use your help with some things I believe."

"That's wicked, but agreeable.  If it suits you, I'd rather not turn into Grams."

"Then, Alexander Birmingham, join the ranks of Gryffindor!" he called out.

Alex handed over the hat and walked over there, looking calm and at peace.  "Hi."  He shook hands with the new people over there, watching as the others were sorted.  He looked on as Harry Potter joined him.  "Well, you're not a big shock, mate," he offered, shaking his hand when he came over.  "Alexander Birmingham."

"Harry Potter.  Do I know you?"

"No.  I'm just taking a friendly mood.  They're rare, savor them," he offered with a mean grin.  Harry looked confused.  "Don't worry, you'll understand."

"So, you're a full-blooded wizard?" Ron asked.  "Or are you half?"

"No, full blooded as far as I know.  I have no idea who my father is yet, but the hat just gave me a clue.  See, some unkind and unthinking prat has earned my ever-living ire by killing my mum just minutes after she had me."  Harry flinched at that.  "I'm sure it wasn't you or your father. My Grams complained much too often about both of you for that."  Harry swallowed and nodded.  "Don't worry, I don't side with my Grams.  She made me her enemy long ago.  All her rants about pure bloods and powers telling and all that went right past me and out the window to taint her garden of ugly flowers, especially after I asked her why some inbred people with delusions of torture were worth more than people who worked hard, lived life fully and happily, and who expected happiness to be their reward.  She didn't like that question."

"Wow," Ron said, blinking at him.  "Who was your Grams?"

"Issadora Marianna Birmingham.  Barrister and all around cranky bitch.  A friend of hers once asked if she got enough fun from torturing people for the Ministry and she said no."

Percy, Ron's older brother, looked at him.  "I know of your family."

"Really?  Do I have more than her?"

Percy stared him down.  "You know what I meant, Alexander."

Alex smirked.  "Of course I did.  The hat put me here because I'm a smart ass."  Percy flushed at that.  He clapped politely as the sorting was finished and looked at the food appearing on the tables.  "Well, that's impressive."  Harry just goggled at him.  "It takes a lot to really impress me to babbling, Harry.  Don't worry, I don't pick on people I like."  He looked at the only set of twins at the table.  "Would you be the Weasley twins then?"  They stared and nodded in unison.  "The hat said to come to you to get some of my mean and cruel streak out so I don't torture anyone this week.  Did you need any ideas?"

"Mr. Birmingham," Professor McGonagall called.  "I have a letter sent for you.  Please come here."

He got up and walked up there, taking the letter.  "Who's it from?"

She cleared her throat.  "Your grandmother, boy."  He pursed his lips and looked at her oddly.  "She sent it earlier in the day, said to give it to you after your sorting.  I do have another in my office, your mother left it in my care when she ran off while carrying you," she said more quietly.  "I will see you tomorrow after classes to get that one."

"Can't I have it now?"

"Tonight, read that one and consider it.  Tomorrow is soon enough for emotional outpourings."  Alexander nodded and headed back to his seat. She looked at the Headmaster.  "He is very strong."

"Yes, but very injured emotionally," he said quietly.  "I wish he had other relatives."

Alex sat down and popped open the seal, reading it.  "Oh, bloody wonderful!  Cryptic shite!  Just like Grams."  He looked at Harry, then at Ron.  Then he shook his head and put it down, adding food to his plate and eating properly, not at all like how Ron was doing.  Though he looked like he was having more fun.  He glanced around as he picked up his chicken leg, taking a large bite and chewing. No grandmother suddenly appearing to beat him for lack of table manners.  He took another one and took another look around.  Still no grandmother.  He picked up the letter, reading it more carefully this time.  He looked at Harry.  "Read the cryptic shite and tell me if that doesn't sound like she's taking a long vacation."

Harry read it, then nodded.  "It does.  Either that or she's dying."  He handed it back.  "You really don't like your grandmother?"

"She loathes me.  She made sure I knew she never wanted to have a child.  She was forced into marriage and killed her husband weeks after my mother attained the ability to walk, reason, and feed herself so she didn't have to take care of her any longer.  She made it quite clear that she didn't want my mother, or me, and that we were all doomed since I had been born alive."  Neville flinched.  "Live with yours too?"  He nodded quickly, looking down at his plate. "Hopefully she's better than mine was.  I hope that for any child really."  He looked at the letter again, then at the head table.  His father had been watching his sorting.  "Do we know who any of the people up there are?" he asked, pointing at the head table.

Harry nodded, pointing at the man in a turban.  "That's Professor Quirrel, he's the Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher.  I met him in the Leaky Cauldron while I was shopping.  Hagrid introduced us.  He's the big man there on the end."

Alex looked, then nodded.  "Hmm.  Who're the others?"

Percy cleared his throat.  "The woman who gave you the letter is Professor McGonagall.  She teaches Transfiguration, heads our house, and is the Deputy Headmistress.  Next to her is Madam Sprout, who teaches Herbology."

"The males, mate," Alex said coolly.  "One of them knows who my father is.  That hat said so."  Percy looked stunned so he stared him down.  "The thing said it remembered both my parents.  That my mum was a Slytherin and that my father was usually quiet."

"Well, just the males," Percy said, swallowing hard under that chocolate brown gaze.  "The man with the beard is of course the Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore.  The one on the other end of the table, next to Professor Quirrel, is Professor Snape.  He teaches Potions and is over Slytherin.  He favors his house above all others so I would advise you watch your language around him."  Alex just looked at him and quirked a small smirk.  "The other male up there presently is Professor Vector.  He teaches Arithmancy.  Professor Flitwick was up there a moment ago but he appears to have disappeared."

"Was he the short one?" Ron asked.  Percy scowled at him and nodded.  "What's he teach?"


"Well, I am quite charming," Alex said with a grin at Ron, "but I doubt that he's my mother's sort if I'm a lot like her like the hat and everyone says."  He looked at the other men.  "Very interesting.  Who would know about the Slytherins in my mother's year?"

"Professor Snape might.  He's probably about the same age and might remember her," Percy offered.  "What did the letter say, Alexander?"

"It's full of cryptic shite," he said, handing it over.  "Either she's gonna commit suicide finally and leave me alone or she's taking a long vacation, has changed the lock spells on the doors, and I'm booted out of the family."

Percy looked at him.  "Please modify your language, young man.  It is not respectful of others to speak thusly.  I'd hate to have to take points off the first night."

Alex beamed at him.  "The only loyalty I know is to myself, Percy Weasley.  That's all she ever taught me." Percy swallowed again.   "That's what talked the hat out of putting me in Hufflepuff."

Ron giggled.  "Why're you over here if your mum was a Slytherin?"

"Because the hat gave me a choice about going to the dark my mother avoided and Gram lived in," Alex said simply.  "I'd rather not become like my Grams.  I'd hate to have to hex myself repeatedly to get my head on straight."  Neville and Harry both laughed at that and he grinned at them.  "I would.  So, Percy, what do you take from that cryptic shite she sent?"

"I warned you," he said firmly.  "Five points from Gryffindor for swearing."

"Boo hoo," Alex said sarcastically. "Should we make it a nice, even number?"

"Mr. Birmingham, I agree with him, please lower your voice," McGonagall called. "I can quite plainly hear you."

He took back the letter and walked it up there, showing it to her.  "You tell me that's not cryptic shite," he said dryly.  "The woman lived in it, it's part of being a barrister and an official torturer for the Ministry."

McGonagall's lips pressed together.  "Still, you may not speak so.  Swearing is not permitted on the school's premises."

He shrugged.  "Yay.  She taught me that too!"  He nodded at the letter.  "Was I kicked out or is she dying?"

McGonagall looked at it, then at him.  "I can't tell by this.  Either may be possible, but I would say the latter was probable."

"Hmm.  Good riddance then.  Thank you, Professor."  He walked back to his seat.  "Good news, guys, she might be dying!"  They all stared at him.  "Hey, no more torture, no more spells being forced onto me so I have to learn them and their counters, and no more shite from the old hag.  I might even get to invite friends over to trash her ugly flower garden.   Hideous things, really.  Pointy, thorny, attacking little nasty buggers who like my ankles."

Ron burst out in giggles. "You're a fun guy, Alex, but you're hell to be around."

"Ronald Weasley!" Percy complained.  "Do not use that language!"

"Sorry, Percy."  He grinned at Alex and dug back into his food.  "Eat like a normal boy since she won't be coming around to beat you for bad manners."

"Yes, I think I rather will," he agreed, picking up more food to eat and enjoy.  Hogwarts was turning out great!  They accepted him!  They humored him!  They even let him do mean and uncouth stuff!  It was great!


Alex lagged behind after his first potions class, staring at the teacher.  "May I have a few moments of your time later, sir?" he asked politely.

"Why?" he said, looking the boy over.  "Your tie is crooked."

"Yes, but my grandmother, the wrinkly old cunt, isn't here to correct it so I'm having fun having a crooked tie and not brushing my teeth today."  He grinned.

"Twenty points from Gryffindor for swearing," he sneered.

Alex shrugged.  "Yay.  Wanna go again, make it an even thirty this week?"  He put down his books and looked at the older man.  "The hat said that my mum was a Slytherin.  You're about the same age as she would be, I guess.  There's some unanswered questions I have about her and my father and I think you may be able to point me in the right direction.  Would you consent to speaking with me for a few moments later tonight?"  He watched the man's eyes, noticing when they twitched.  "Ah, you knew her then?"

"Very well.  We were housemates. I tutored her in Arithmancy," he said quietly.  "If your behavior would improve, I might consider speaking to you about her sometime."

Alex nodded.  "That's fine then.  Do you know who my father is?"  Snape visibly flinched at that one.  "I take that as a yes.  Thank you, sir.  I'm off to bother another teacher now.  Do have a better day.  Tonight?  During detentions?"

"This weekend, Mr. Birmingham."  He looked at the boy.  "Why aren't you in Slytherin?"

The boy looked over at him as he gathered his books.  "The hat said I could avoid the darkness mother ran away from by being a Gryffindor when it gave me a choice.  Of course, someone wanted me in Hufflepuff for some reason.  Apparently they didn't know the old hag or her broomstick method of teaching young men."

"That's just granted your wish, another five points from Gryffindor."

Alex smirked.  "Like I told the blokes last night, I never got taught loyalty to anyone beyond myself.  This house stuff will take some getting used to.  I'll see you this weekend, Professor.  I thank you."  He walked out, heading for his next class. Charms.  He was stopped by the teacher.  "I had to ask the last professor a very detailed question," he said quietly.  The professor nodded and pointed at his seat.  So he sat down.  And was promptly bored by the things he had learned when he was eight.  He looked at Ron, who was concentrating very hard.  Then at the new witch, the Granger girl.  She was an uptight brat.  He watched her trying to take the teacher's place and rolled his eyes, taking his time pulling his wand.  He noticed the teacher noticed him and floated the feather over to him, then made it explode just past him with a small smirk.  He winked and took Harry's feather, winking at him and showing him.  Harry tried it and got it, smiling back.  "Can we move on if we've got it already?" he called.

"No, Mr. Birmingham. Please stay with the rest of the class."

"Fine."  He practiced, picking up Ron's chair and floating it a few inches, then letting it drop, rattling his teeth and making him groan.  He grinned and did it to Seamus, who was a lot of fun to be around.

"Mr. Birmingham, please stick with the feathers."

Alex took Harry's feather from him and did something to it, handing it to the professor. "I'm sorry, I'm easily bored," he noted, smiling sweetly and innocently at him.

The small Charms professor looked at the feather and hastily canceled all the spells on it, giving him a look.  "You can always doodle.  Maybe you'll become an artist some day with the amount of practice you'll be getting this year."  Alex grinned and took out a quill and some parchment to draw on, leaving everyone else alone.

Across the room, some of the students looked at him, then at the professor, who only smiled.  Ron leaned over to see what he was drawing.  "She's not that skinny," he hissed, making Alex chuckle and add some chins to her face.  "How did you know that?"

"Grams said I had to learn all that stuff a while back," he said quietly.  "She said it's what real wizarding pure bloods did for their children so they weren't stuck in mediocrity."  He looked at Ron. "She also told me I was no better than a squib until I bloated and floated her."  Ron snickered and nodded, getting that.  "She was not amused," he said in his most high class accent - mimicking her basically.  The professor cleared his throat and they moved onto the next Charm, which used the same movements.  Alex knew this one too so he helped Ron and Harry now and then and drew a bit.  His picture tormenting the person who killed his mother was taking wonderful shape, even if it was in stick figures.

At the end of class Professor Flitwick took the balled up picture out of the trash and looked at it, smoothing it out.  "Oh, dear."  He went to tell his fellow teacher.  She had to know the boy was going to cause problems.  They all knew who had killed his mother and it was only a matter of time before someone let it slip.


Alex walked out of McGonagall's office with his mother's letter, still unopened.  The professor had tried to get him to read it in her presence but he had assured her he wouldn't be destroying the castle if he was alone.  She left it there and watched him play with it for a moment before walking out. He went up to a small walkway where he could look out on the stars and read, enjoying the night.  He always had enjoyed nights more than days.  He reminded himself to tell the other boys not to wake him unless they had his wand already out of reach, then flipped the letter over to read it.  He slowly read it, it confirmed a lot of what his grandmother had pushed back at him over the years.  It also gave him more clues to who his father was, saying that he'd have heard if she had to send him to his grandmother's by her vigorous complaining.  He heard movement behind him and drew his wand as he turned.  "Parkinson," he sneered.  "You're not usually one to stargaze.  Why are you searching me out?"

"Malfoy and the others wanted to know why you weren't sorted with us," she said, sounding quiet but firm, but not very interested. "You could put that away, Alex."

"Eehh, I think not."  He folded the letter up and looked at her.  "Why can't Draco ask me himself?  After all, he managed to puke on me during my last birthday party."

Pansy blushed and shook her head.  'He's jockeying for position."

"Good for him," he said sarcastically.  "I have little need of petty politics and pleasing games."  She frowned.  "If you must know, the hat said I'd turn out like my Grams if I went with you lot.  I consider that a fate worse than everything bad happening at once and my soul being eaten by something with decidedly dull teeth."  She shivered. "Sorry, did I scare you?" he asked dryly, staring her down.  "We all know who was taught more, Pansy.  It doesn't matter to me at the moment, but I'm not going to follow in Grams's footsteps.  She was a bitchy old hag who wanted me sacrificed and beat me nearly to death when the former Dark Lord died before he could do it for her."  She shivered and took a step back, and a new person joined their group.  He looked at Professor Snape.  "She wanted to know why I didn't join my former playmates."

"Many will wonder that, Alexander," Snape noted.  "You've read your mother's letter?"

He nodded.  "Indeed.  And now I'm thinking about it.  When would be a good time to come talk to you about it and her, sir?"

"Saturday afternoon would be fine."  Alex nodded at that.  "Is there anything you need right now?  Professor McGonagall thought perhaps you should be made to speak your feelings."

Alex handed over the letter.  "She apologized for having to send me to the bitch."  Snape read it, then looked at him.

"That's another five points from Gryffindor," Snape said firmly.  "You must behave.  Your behavior does not speak well of your family."

Alex stepped closer.  "Why would I care what the old bitch likes and doesn't like or how bad my behavior looks on her, sir?" he asked coolly.  "The more upset I can make her, the better chance she has a heart attack and dies sooner."  Snape stared the boy down and he stared back.  "You should ask Mr. Malfoy, Mr. Crabbe, and Miss Parkinson here why that's a perfectly *nice* sentiment about the old hag.  My behavior will probably improve greatly after she's dead."

Pansy looked at Alex, then at her head of house, nodding quickly.  "It should, Professor.  After his last birthday party, Gregory said that Alex was more than welcome to come live with him but he would never step foot in that house again."

"I'm aware of her reputation and her ...problems," Snape assured them.

"Hmm, aware I was her practice toy?" Alex asked him.  Snape shuddered, but you could see he was trying to control it.  "I see. It says something when *everyone* she works with knows she's got the Mark, but they're too scared of her to turn her in," he said quietly.  Snape nodded at that.  "I still want to know why the Headmaster wanted me missorted into Hufflepuff."

"The Headmaster?" Pansy asked.

Alex nodded.  "The hat said he asked that I be sorted there, but found me *totally* unsuitable."  He grinned at her and she giggled a bit.  "It also said that since I take such a dim view of learning that it'd never put me near a Ravenclaw."

"It'd be horrible what you'd do if you actually wanted to learn stuff," Pansy assured him, making him grin.  "You'd be the next Dark Lord within months if you *wanted* to study."  Alex punched her on the arm and took his letter back.  "Should I tell Draco what you said?"

"If it pleases you or you can tell him to try me himself for a change, that you're not the bloody tellyphone company or a messenger."  She smiled and kissed him on the cheek before leaving.  He waited until she was gone to wipe his cheek off and make a grossed out face.  "My Grams wanted me to marry her," he said, shuddering a bit.  "Not my preference in the least."  He looked at the person who he felt he might possibly trust and look up to.  "So, I think your other knowledge was now confirmed.  Would you like to tell me who Lucius is?"

"No," he assured him.  "It's late, you should go back to your dorm."

"I should do many things, including study, but I can't find myself liking books after having it forced onto me for so long," he assured him.  "Then again, I believe I scared some of the poor darlings earlier."  He stepped closer. "Why is Potter bruised?"


"Why is Potter bruised," he repeated simply.  "His back, all down it.  I did a quick healing on him last night because he kept moaning each time he rolled to the right and hit his shoulder, but he's definitely bruised.  Badly bruised.  I saw him in the shower this morning."

"I'll tell Professor McGonagall to check on him," he assured him.  "Go to your dorm, Alexander."

"You could call me Alex."  He walked off after having given that bit of permission.  The other kids came by it naturally and he hated that they took the liberty with his name, but this man, something was different about him.  He could feel it and he knew that somehow this man was one he could look up to.  One who didn't like to torture others, just retain and enjoy his power over them, like he did.  He walked back into his tower, watching everyone watch him.  "What?  Did you hear an explosion?"

"No, that was us," one of the twins offered from his seat.  "You should probably do your homework before it builds."

Alexander looked at them, then snorted.  "I hate books, I hate learning, and I hate school.  Besides, I'm already ahead in everything but Potions and Creatures."  He sat down next to him, looking at what he was doing.  "Do you need any ideas?  I'm feeling a bit of cruelty at the moment."

The twin in question looked over at him.  "Are you sure you're not mental?"

"No one's ever checked," he said honestly, then grinned.  "Would it make a difference?"

"They lock up people like you."

"No they don't. They let my grandmother run free for decades."   He stared him down.  Then he suddenly grinned.  "I won't hurt my own house, but I did unfortunately learn at her ankles since I was usually tied to the floor, mate.  It's not to be helped at this late date.  So now I'm sublimating.  The hat suggested you two."

The twin nodded.  "Sure.  Write down some ideas and we'll see if we can make 'em happen."

"That's fine," he agreed, grinning and hugging him around the arm.  "Thank you.  I need that outlet.  I'm off for a bath."  He got up and headed up to his room, finding Harry and Ron in there talking on their beds.  "Don't mind me."

"We ignored you all day since you decided to pet the beast in Magical Creatures," Ron assured him with a grin.  "Was it good news? You seem happy."

"My mother apologized for sending me to Grams, said she thought my father would hear from her complaining about me and steal me back.  It's definitely not his fault at least.  That relieves something I was worried about."  He stopped, then looked at his wand and put it on the table.   "I'm going to pass on a warning.  I'm not a morning person."

"We figured that this morning when we had to shake your bed to get you up," Harry said with a small grin.

Alex looked at him. "You're very lucky I didn't grab my wand," he assured him.  Both boys gaped.  "If you must *ever* wake me up, take my wand first.  That way I can't grab it.  It's instinctive."  They both nodded at that.  He looked at Harry.  "By the way, I healed some of the bruises that were making you moan last night.  What happened to your right shoulder?"  He took off his shirt, showing the mostly unblemished skin on his back and chest.  There were a few scars, mostly longer ones.

"Wizards don't scar," Ron said, staring at him.  "Unless it was a really bad injury.  How?  Um, not to be rude."

Alex grinned.  "Mate, you'll probably hear more than enough about how I got them all some day.  Don't be that impatient.  The only one who ever *asked* about them got sick on me at my birthday party."  He smirked a bit.  "Even if I did get blamed, it was pretty funny.  Malfoy pukes orange and purple."  He headed into the bathroom for his nightly shower.

"When are you doing your homework?" Ron called.

"When the old bitch comes back and forces me to," he called back.  "Just like the rest of my education so far."

Ron and Harry shared a look. "Well, he certainly livens things up sometimes," he noted.  Harry nodded, grinning at him.  "What bruises?"

"It's nothing.  I...fell."

"Uh-huh.  How did you bruise that badly from a fall?"  He moved and Harry shifted away.  "I just wanna check.  I'm fairly good at bruise charms.  Had to learn thanks to the older brothers."  He gave him a wry look.  "The twins are hell, mate."

Harry shook his head.  "I'm fine."

"If you're sure. I could probably heal them a bit more, Harry."

"No, I'm fine. They don't hurt.  Whatever Alex did last night cured the last of the pain."  He shrugged.  "What did you think of McGonagall today?"

"I don't know.  She seemed pretty tough and cruel.  She's obviously never had kids of her own," he offered, making Harry laugh.  Alex came back out.  "Is there anything you don't do well?  You're already ahead in Charms, Transfiguration, and Defense.  Anything you're really bad at?"

"Flying."  He sat down on the edge of his bed, looking at them.  "I suck totally at flying."  Both boys grinned at him.

"I'm not great, but Bill said I had pretty good balance when he taught me a bit the last time he was home," Ron offered.  "We can help you there if we're any better than you."

Alex nodded. "That could be fun.  I could take fun learning, but that Granger witch has got to go!"  They giggled and nodded at that.  "Levi*os*a," he mocked, making them giggle more and him grin.  He shook his head.  "I don't know how people like that stand themselves.  Then again, I guess Grams was like that a bit.  A barrister is hard when you're a woman and she was tops at the Ministry.  Had 'em all scared too."

"Mate, did someone need to take you away from her?" Ron asked finally.  "I could talk to my mum and dad.  He's at the Ministry.  He's in Muggle Affairs."

"I met your dad and he tried once," he admitted.  "I think Grams tortured the person who came and then sent them off."  He turned to face him.  "With the cryptic shite letter I got that first night, there's a very good chance I won't have to worry about it.  At that time, I'll be free to be myself and I might even quit being so angry after I kill the person who killed my mum.  Anyone know who Lucius is?"

"Malfoy?" Ron suggested.  "But you know him."

"No, I know Malfoy's mother," he said dryly.  "Grams always thought it was *amusing* that Narcissa never brought her husband over to the dinners she held.  She always chuckled about him not coming.  Well, that explains so much."  He shifted and stretched.  "I'll have to have a talk with Mr. Malfoy soon."  Someone tapped on the door.  "We're all decently attired."

Professor McGonagall walked in, looking at him.  "I had hopes you weren't a nudist or otherwise odd, Mr. Birmingham."  She looked at the other two boys.  "I need to see you both in a few moments once I talk to Alexander."

"Sure," Ron agreed, getting up and hauling Harry after him.

She waited until the door was closed and watched as he cast the anti-listening charm.  "You're well tutored."

"Not my fault," he reminded her dryly, stretching out on his back.  "What?  More problems with my behavior?  Warning me to try to study?  To not scare the kiddies in the upper years like I obviously do Percy?"

She pursed her lips for a moment then nodded.  "All those would be quite nice," she agreed.  "Please try not to harm Mr. Weasley too much.  His parents were good and gentle.  Even though he is a bit uptight."

"Professor, he's got the broomstick shoved sideways."  She blushed and spluttered.  "Calling it like I see it."

"I can see that."  She sat on the end of Harry's bed, looking at him.  "I'm aware, now, that your grandmother abused you."

"Tortured," he corrected.  "Abused implied a reason beyond having fun."

She nodded.  "I understand."

"Do you?"  She nodded.  "Been there perhaps?"

"No," she admitted, "but I've seen others who have."  She stood up and came to sit on his bed.  "Alexander, you're in a very unique position in this house.  You're one of better taught wizards in this school.  Professor Flitwick said you were doing fifth year charms to show off and prove you knew what you were doing in his class the other day."  He nodded, agreeing with that.  "I also know that you've seen some...irregularities with some of the other students.  Ones who come from nicer, but still abusive homes."  He nodded at that as well.  "What I'd like for you to do is to protect those children.  Mr. Potter is here and there are people who still want him dead," she said quietly.

"Like my Grams."

She nodded.  "Exactly.  Even should she die, as you believe she will be, there are others.  You can help us protect the other students should someone come for him."

"I can protect him and them."

"He's got his own protectors and protections."

He sat up.  "No, he's got people who want to use him," he said calmly.  "We both know it, love, there's nothing that can stop some of them.  So I will make you a deal.  I will protect this house and Mr. Potter.  You keep the political machinations and matchmaking down to a minimum for the poor git.  There's no way he fell and got those bruises like he said he did."  Her face tightened and she nodded at that.  "In return, I won't torture the kids.  I may pick on a few of them and I will be getting back at the person who killed my mum.  Is the Lucius my mother's letter mentioned Malfoy?"

"I don't know," she admitted.  "It's not a popular name but he's not the only one who graduated with that name over the years."  He nodded, accepting that.  "It could well be, but we, meaning Professor Snape, myself, and the Headmaster, would appreciate you not taking it out on his son."

Alex looked at her.  "We'll have to see about that.  I can't promise that. I do take those moments you know."  She nodded, understanding that.  "As such, I'll try to give warning."

"Thank you.  I would appreciate warning about those moments of yours. Professor Snape asked Mr. Goyle and he burst out crying."

"He saw one of my last ones," he admitted gently.  "I did apologize for scaring him."  She nodded at that.  "Is that all you wanted?"

"No," she admitted, standing up.  "I do not want you to spread around the dark knowledge you were forced into learning, Alexander.  It's not healthy for the other students."

"I'd never do that, professor.  Not unless they needed to know."  She acknowledged that with a tip of her head.  "I will be the knight in slightly tarnished armor however for the others."  She smiled and nodded.  "Were you serious about reading the book?"

"I would prefer if you at least glanced over it before tests.  I do test on the theory as well as the practical, Mr. Birmingham."

"Shite, woman, I hate books.  Being forced to sit and read for weeks on end without stopping made me displeased with the little leafy things."

She pursed her lips again.  "Then I'll expect you to do as much as you can stand and slowly start to get over that.  There is much you do not know that could help you with her and the estate which will someday be yours."

"Can't I burn it?"

"No."  She smiled at him.  "Remember, you will outlive her by many years.  Plan for that future you'll have and hide it from her.  Though, do try to regulate your language if possible.  She's not here to see or hear you rebel and sending her a letter about your swearing wouldn't do anyone any good."

He grinned.  "It's innate now. Sorta like how I reach for my wand first."  She nodded at that. "I did tell Harry and Ron to confiscate my wand if they were trying to wake me up.  It's damn lucky I was too tired to reach for it this morning."

"I heard.  I'm very appreciative of you for it.  Twenty points for not killing your roommates that first morning, Mr. Birmingham."  He grinned at that.  "Do you feel comfortable confiding in me about what she did?"

"No," he said honestly.  "I have a real problem with women.  Especially the supposedly nice ones.  Madam Sprout is obviously hiding a dark secret in her past with how nice she is."

McGonagall chuckled.  "The only secrets she's hiding is that now and then she takes an extra biscuit or cookie at tea, Alexander."  He gave her a long stare.  "Really.  I've known her longer than you've been alive."  He nodded once.  "Believe me.  She's perfectly gentle.  Some people are like that."

"None that I know."

"True.  You'll learn that she's not that bad. I'm usually considered the scary female teacher, outside of the Divinations teacher that is."

"No, she's a loony bat," he said dryly.  "We already met.  She looked at me and burst out crying, then hugged me and stunk me up horribly before running away and going to find Professor Snape to talk to me."  He sat up.  "Is he an acceptable person to speak to when I need to?"

She smiled. "He might not think so but I do encourage it.  He comes from a similar background and we were all sure you were going over there."

"The hat said I'd turn dark if I did," he said honestly.  "I'd never stand that."

"I understand and so will he."

"He said he did," he assured her.

She smiled.  "Then keep going to him by all means, Alexander.  Or do you prefer Alex?"

"No, I prefer Alexander to any but those I give permission to.  Unfortunately Malfoy and his crew started out when I was younger.  That's probably why I hate it."

"Agreeable," she assured him.  "Should I talk with the Headmaster?"

"Only if you ask him why he wanted me in Hufflepuff."

"He what?"

"The hat said he wanted me put into Hufflepuff."

"That wouldn't suit you," she said sarcastically.

"No, really?" he retorted in kind, grinning at her.  "Are there any other scary female people I should watch out for?"

"Poppy, the school nurse, can be when you're under her care."  He shuddered.  "If you follow orders she's usually quite pleasant to you."  She smiled at him.  "The only other one you'll be seeing will be Madam Hooch."

"I suck at flying."

She shrugged.  "We can't be great at everything.  Even You-Know-Who had his bad subjects when he was here."

He grimaced. "Pansy said if I actually wanted to study I could be the next Dark Lord."

"There's no way I'd let that happen," she said firmly.  "Should you try you'll soon find out why I'm considered the most scary woman in this school."  They shared a look and he smiled and nodded, reassured by that.  "Now, what was wrong with Mr. Potter's back?"

"It was one big bruise.  I cured his right shoulder because he kept waking me up whenever he flipped over.  The guy's got nightmares like mine."

"Very well.  If Mr. Weasley hasn't cured them, I'll look them over.  Is he one you'll have to protect?"

"He understood better than most what I didn't say," he told her. She nodded at that.  "If they're going to rely on him when the Dark Lord comes back, I'd fix that.  Otherwise he'll only be a pawn to be used and then put away until the next use."

She sighed. "I had hopes no one was going to do that."

"Too late."

She nodded, accepting he knew that from his grandmother.  "If I hear anything about her, I'll tell you immediately."

"Sure, but if she does die, can I hold a massive party?"

She smiled. "We'll see, Alexander."  He nodded and grinned again.  "You are quite handsome when you do that.  Try to smile more often."

"Usually when I try, I'm told I look evil, conniving, and like I'm going to hex you.  Or so Malfoy said when I scared him by doing it the last time."

She snorted. "He's not the best judge of character either."  She walked out, letting him cancel the spells.  "Boys?"  They looked up from the couch.  "My office for that short chat please."  She smiled at them. "You're not in trouble yet so don't worry about it."

One of the twins caught her by the sleeve, looking up at her. "What do we do about that one?" he asked quietly.

She patted him on the hand. "He's agreed to help protect the house and the children like him," she assured him quietly.  "He will calm down.  Especially if he's right and she's planning on dying soon.  Once she does, you'll be seeing a radical shift in his nature."  He nodded, looking less concerned.  "We're aware, now, of what he went through.  We know  and we're helping him calm down.  He has promised not to hurt anyone in the tower."

"As long as we take his wand whenever we're trying to wake him up," Ron told them.

"He reached for it this mornin', but it was under his bed," Seamus Finnigan, another first year, offered from his seat.

Harry looked at him.  "He said grab it first and then try to wake him."  That got some nods from their dormmates.

"Sometimes violent reactions are trained into people, boys.  He can't help his reactions.  It's how he's learned to survive."  She led the other two off after another pat to the twin's hand to make him let her go.

That twin looked at Percy. "Did you owl Mum and Dad?"

"Dad.  He said he's talked to others about her.  He's right, they're scared of her."

"That boy will end up in trouble."

Percy shook his head.  "We can all help him calm down and relax.  He knows we won't be hurting him," he noted calmly.  The other twin gave him a long look.  "He'll be protecting those like him," he said quietly.  "It won't happen to another one of us."  That got some nods and the twins went back to their homework.  "Just think, Ginny will be here next year."

"Mum'll throw a party," one of the twins said, grinning at the other.

"We should help her plan it, give her stuff to celebrate with."

"Please don't.  You know she'll scream at you for the pranks," Percy said tiredly.  "Try to behave, boys."

"Why?" they asked in unison.

"It's not...." the first said.

"Like it's fun," the other finished.

Percy shook his head.  He hated dealing with his twin brothers, he never understood them.


Alex walked into the Potions classroom, sitting down behind one of the desks since the teacher was working on something.  "Am I fascinating?" Snape asked finally.

"I didn't want to be rude, sir."

Snape put down his pen.  "These essays are below their usual standard.  Besides, you're known for being rude and mouthy."

"That depends on who you ask."

"Not really," he noted, looking at the boy.  "You wore your uniform?"

"Grams only packed uniforms."

Snape sighed and shook his head. "Fine.  We'll make sure you get some shopping done soon.  Should I send one of my older boys to do it?"

"They might botch it on purpose, sir.  After all, they're now trying to taunt me for being a Gryffindor."  Snape groaned, rubbing his forehead.  "Needless to say, Mr. Goyle and Mr. Crabbe are not among their numbers, and neither are Miss Parkinson, Bullstrode, Mr. Malfoy, or Mr. Flint."  He smiled and nodded.  "The others I assume are fair game?"

"Should they upset you that horribly, tell me.  I will have them stopped."

"That's no fun," he complained. "Can I tell you after I stop them?"

He looked at the boy.  "As long as they come to no real or lasting harm."

He nodded. "Sure, I can play by that rule."  Then he grinned.  "So, tell me something about my mother?"

"She was a kind woman.  Much like her father was I assume," he said gently.

"It surely didn't come from Great-Grandmother, she was where Grams got her cranky streak from."  He pulled out the two letters, letting him have them both.  "So, is she dead?"

He looked at the first one.  "That's cryptic."

"That's why I keep calling it cryptic shite."

"It is," he agreed. "Though you should not swear.  You are lowering yourself to a lesser being's standard."

"No, it's about all I know anymore.  Used to piss her off to no end."  He shrugged a bit then grinned.  "I'm just kinda like that, sir."

"I see.  Could you perhaps try during your class hours?"  Alex shook his head.  "Why not?"

"Because I'm bored."

"Ah.  I'd heard a report from Professor McGonagall that you were a bit ahead."

"The old bitch used to tie me to a chair and force me to read things with the Imperius.   I'd be reading for days straight without a break when I finally collapsed."  Snape shivered at that.  "The only things I'm not up on are flying, Creatures, and Herbology, and I still say Madam Sprout is hiding some deep, dark secret and that's why she's so nice."

Snape snickered, shaking his head.  "No, she's not.  She's just pleasant.  Some women are like that, boy."

Alex looked at him.  "I also got some other advice from other sources, sir.  Is that Lucius a Malfoy?"

He shrugged. "Possibly.  He was not the only Lucius who was a death eater."

"Were you?"

Snape considered it, then nodded.  "I was."

"Ah.  You defected?"  Snape looked alarmed. "Between us, sir.  Most of them say 'I am' not 'I was'.  Especially since the old cunt said he's coming back.  She's been feeling twinges now and then in her mark.  Had me get the heating stones a few times to put on it."  Snape sat up straighter at that.  He grinned.  "So, are you my father then?"

Snape blinked. "That's an abrupt change of subject."

"I find it throws people off balance and makes them give more truthful answers."

Professor Snape looked at the boy, looking at him carefully.  "Your mother and I were in a relationship," he admitted quietly.  "If you are not mine, it was not by her choice."

Alex nodded slowly, understanding what he was saying.  "We should make sure."

"We should," he agreed.  "Do you usually do well in Potions, when you're not goofing off and drawing pictures of torture and pain-giving?"

"Professor Flitwick told me to draw if I was bored and the other teachers agreed, I didn't think you'd mind overly much."

"That didn't answer the first part of the question."

"No," he offered with a grin.  "But that was the answer.  No."  Snape snorted and shook his head.  "Was my mother?"

"She had a fair hand at it," he admitted.  "Nothing great but she could follow a recipe.  She was also an exceptional baker."  Alex looked interested.  "She often was the source of cookies in the house."  Alex grinned and relaxed some. "It will take me approximately a week to make the potion to test for parentage."

"I didn't figure you'd have some already on you," he assured him.  "You don't seem like the sort that women accuse of having fathered their child and then left."  Snape let out another amused snort at that.  "Professor McGonagall said she would welcome me coming to you as a mentor, especially when I was having one of my blacker days.  She said she understood but that you may understand better since you're from a similar background."

Snape nodded.  "It would not upset me.  How would you feel if I do turn out to be your father?"

"Since the hat said my father was watching me be sorted, I was rather hoping it wasn't Dumbledore or Flitwick actually.  Especially since Dumbledore tried to missort me."

"I asked him why, he said he thought being there would help you heal."


"Language," Snape ordered calmly.

"Sorry, but true."

"You have a large enough vocabulary to find another word."

"I do?"

"I'm sure you do."  He stared the boy down, getting a wicked grin in return.  "Try to modulate your language, at least around myself and Professor McGonagall.  She will take points off her own house readily if you mess up too much."

"Oh, I learned that my second class with her.  I was muttering about the practice being boring.  She's another who told me to draw.  She didn't like my drawings but said they were probably therapeutic."

"Are they helping?"

"Only in helping me plan which order I'm doing the curses to whichever Lucius it was."

"Can you wait until you're legal?"

"I don't know," Alex admitted quietly.  "I can try."

"Yes, do try.  Doing it underaged won't help you escape Azkaban and they will be watching for magic from an underaged source. Doing it when you're older means that they may not catch you."

"Doing it to a death eater means I may get rewarded."

"Not likely.  Minister Fudge is very touchy on that subject."

"No wonder my Grams loved him so," he said dryly, considering it.  "If I do hold off, and you turn out to be someone I can trust that way, would you help me find someone who can help me plan these things?"

Snape considered it.  "If you need such assistance, I know of people who could do it for you."

"Oh, no, his ass is mine," he assured him with an evil smirk.  "I want to be the one who hurts him for all the pain I've been through."  He licked his lips. "But I do realize I'm not the best planner in existence."

"Indeed?  There's things you don't do well?" he taunted dryly, staring the boy down.

"Flying and planning."

Snape let out a small laugh at that.  "That's all?"

"Well, I don't understand women all that well.  Not shocking really, but then again I don't like women either.  It will be a sad day when the line dies out because I refuse to stick myself into any orifice of any woman in existence today."  Snape burst out laughing at that.  "Hey!"

"You sound so pompous," he said dryly, staring at his son.

"Yes, well, another thing she taught me," he said with a wave of his hand and a grimace.  "What else did you expect really?"

"I find doing the unexpected now and then leads to many reactions I find amusing."

"Hmm, I'll have to try that sometime.  As long as it doesn't include a broom."  He shuddered. "Madam Hooch, who's a strange, strange woman, said that I should be banned from her class."

"Why?" he asked tolerantly.

"Because somehow I managed to end up hovering upside down for nearly ten minutes before she figured out how to help me land without cracking my head or my neck."

He nodded. "I heard of that. I thought it would be Longbottom."

"No, he broke his wrist.  Unfortunately I suck on a broom worse than Granger or him."

"Granger can't fly?"

"No.  Hates it already."  He grinned.  "She's got to be put to rights. "

"She'll learn her place, Alex," he said quietly.

"Um, probably.  She was trying to help me the other day in Charms."  Snape let out another soft chuckle at that.  "I kindly used her and Mr. Finnegan as test subjects of that particular charm.  She was not amused, but Professor Flitwick tuts very well.  Oh, and I got to meet Madam Pomfrey already.  Someone, someone deep in the Ministry as it happens, had her approach me about my mental insecurities.  We had a nice chat over tea and cakes and then she went to floo them and tell them that they should have taken me away from my Grams sooner and then I'd be more normal.  As it was, I had a chance of healing if I wasn't forced back.  The Ministry person said that may not be a problem.  So, is she dead?"

"Would you like me to call and check?"


"Fine."  Snape got up and went into his office, going to use the floo in there.  He tried the house, getting one of the house elves.  "Master Alexander wanted to check on his grandmother and see if she had committed suicide like her note stated.  Has she?"

The house elf burst out crying.

Alex came in, looking at it.  "Twirly, what happened?"

"Mistress," he sobbed.  "Hexed herself.  Left note!"

"Did you call someone?"   The house elf nodded.  "Hmm.  I hadn't been told yet," he said, shaking his head.  "What happened?"

"She hexed her breathing, then turned on gas oven and turned off flame," it wailed.  "She dead!"

"Wonderful," Alex said happily, grinning at the Professor.  "I believe I need to call someone."  He grinned at the house elf.  "Once her body is gone, clean the house.  I'll be back this summer."  It nodded and disappeared.  "Who do we call?  The aurors?"

"Law Enforcement probably," he admitted.  "The Headmaster should."

"Yay.  Do I want to trust him?"

"You could.  He is very skilled and powerful."

"So?  He tried to have me sorted into Hufflepuff!"

"Good point," he admitted, considering it.  "Be cautious.  Be very cautious."  Alex nodded.  "We should go to the Headmaster anyway.  He can usually get answers faster.  Is there any other good news?"

"Well, some.  Professor McGonagall wanted me to protect the house."

"That would be worthy of your skills," Snape agreed.

"Should I call you father if you are?"

"We'll come to that bridge when we cross it," he pointed out.  "I hadn't considered it yet."

"Mum's letter said you'd probably have heard about me from Grams ranting and taken me."

"I wish she had let on that she was pregnant," he noted dryly.  "Though I did try to see if you were mine.  Your grandmother refused me entry and spelled the house to kill the both of us if I were ever to come back."

"Ah. No wonder."  He nodded.  "Then I forgive you for not coming for me."

"Thank you.  I wish I could have."

"Me too. Just think what I'd be like as a normal kid."  Snape shuddered so he grinned.  "Fine.  Don't then.  Let's go talk to He-With-The-Atrocious-Wardrobe."

Snape snickered, shaking his head.  "I've seen worse on him.  Believe me."  He walked the boy out, taking him up to the office.  "Headmaster, some news just came to me when I tried to let Alexander call home to see if he could get any of his non-uniform attire.  Apparently there was an accident with a gas stove?"

Dumbledore looked at them and nodded.  "I got word this morning, I was going to tell Alexander tonight.  They're trying to decide if it was an accident or not.  I believe the letter you got indicated not?"

"She had some divination skills," Alexander lied skillfully, just as he had been taught.

"I see."  He sighed and nodded.  "I will tell them that. Would you like to go home to the funeral? From what I've heard you weren't...close."

"I'll need to go back anyway.  All she sent with me were my uniforms."

"That would be wise then," he admitted. "Should I tell your head of house?"

"No, I'll announce it at dinner, sir.  Can I floo home for a few moments?"

"If Professor Snape or McGonagall will go with you," the Headmaster allowed.  "I'll have the officer over the accident sent over as well."  Alex nodded and looked at Snape, who also nodded.  "Thank you, Professor."

"It's not a problem, Headmaster.  He should have been one of mine."

Alexander looked at him, then at Snape, then back at the Headmaster.  "Why did you ask the hat to put me in Hufflepuff knowing that I would never fit in and could never fit in?"

"I thought it would help you heal, Alexander."

Alex stared at him, then nodded.  He knew a lie when he heard it.  "Thank you but I'll be fine now.  I only have one last thing I have to do while being cruel.  Was it Lucius Malfoy?"

"No one can be sure."

"You mean only the nurse who Grams obliviated knows?" he asked dryly.

"What?" Snape demanded.

"Ah, you didn't hear that part.  A few years back when Grams was deep, deep in her cups, I asked her about Mum, hoping for something non-snide.  She said that mum managed to repel the cruciatus back onto her attacker, then she charmed me, the nurse, and my birth certificate with the Fiddelus charm."   They both looked stunned.  "She's the only one who knows what my birth certificate says.  Mum sent her to Grams, as the letter apologized for, and Grams obliviated the nurse."

"Ah, no wonder we never got proof of who it was," Dumbledore said gently.  "I wish I had known.  We could have broken that then."

"Yeah, well, I caused the dark no end of trouble by being born alive.  Mum was supposed to be given as a sacrifice of power while carrying me to give the Dark Lord much more power for something.  But she escaped, I was born, and he didn't quite get around to killing me later as a sacrifice of innocence thanks to Harry."  He looked at the Headmaster. "Interesting, huh?"  He looked up at Snape. "Shall we?"

"We shall," he agreed, following him through the floo.  "That was unwise," he said once they were alone and the connection cut.

"He lied to me.  I won't trust that man," he said seriously.  Snape nodded.  "I can't, I'm sorry."

"We all have our reasons," he noted calmly.  He looked around.  "Open a window," he told the house elf waiting on them.  It did so, quickly even.  He sat down.  "I'll be here.  Go pack whatever you'll need that won't set off any dark arts alarms and wards."

"Oooh, shoot."  He headed up the stairs, finding someone in the entryway.  "Who're you?"  He sneered at the other man. "Oh, Minister Fudge.  How ...pleasant to see you."  He looked at the officer as Professor Snape came out. "Did you know my Grams had a touch of divination?"

"No, we hadn't," the officer admitted.  "Did you know it was going to happen?"

"She sent a note the day I left saying she'd not see me again and to try to be better to the Dark than my mother."  He shrugged.  "She was a bit warped as we all knew."

"You shouldn't speak ill of the dead," Fudge said with a glare.

"Why not?  The old bitch tortured me for years and you let her."  Fudge stepped back and he glared at him.  He looked at the officer.  "She never packed me anything but uniforms.  May I pack some of my things?"

"There's nothing holding you back, son.  A guardian will have to be appointed for the summer holidays."

"Yay," he said dryly as he headed up the stairs.  "What did her will say?"

"We're not sure yet.  It won't be read for two days.  You will have to be in attendance."

"Tell the professor that."

The officer looked at Snape, keeping his face neutral.  "The will states he must be in attendance."

"Give me a letter with the date and I'll get him cleared," he promised.  "The Headmaster has already agreed."  The officer handed one over.  "When is the funeral?"

"She wanted to be cremated.  The burning will be that day."

"Very well.  I'll accompany him."  The officer nodded.  "Was it a suicide or an accident?"

"With him telling us she had some divination it adds enough doubt to make us rule it an accident even if it wasn't."  He looked around, then back at the professor.  "There were many rumors about her, Professor."  He licked his lips.  "Perhaps someone should come and relieve the house of any dark arts materials."

"As I'm sure we'll be doing this summer.  After all, the boy was raised here and tortured here quite often by the old woman. Though you are correct, she was one of the top people in His army."  The officer nodded and wrote that down.  "It was also reported at least twice that she was mistreating the boy.  Yet nothing was ever done."

"What would she do?" Fudge sneered.  "She was a perfectly nice woman."  Something came floating down the stairs and the officer caught it, then handed it back and turned to get ill.  "What is this!" he demanded.

"My picture from after my last birthday party. Ask Narcissa Malfoy if you don't believe me, she had to help Grams heal me that time."  Alex came down the stairs with a real trunk, dragging it with him.  "Sorry, anti-floating charm."  He looked at the officer.  "Did you need anything else?  I'll be clearing her library later this year.  Probably during the holidays.  Did anyone need into her work files?"

"No, those she kept at the office," he noted calmly.  He looked at the boy.  "Are you all right?"

"As the hat put it, I'm a big pool of rage at the people who left me here, those who killed my mum, and those who kept my father from me," he noted calmly.  "One of those is already dead.  You have nothing to fear unless you were in one of those categories."  He looked at Fudge.  "Gibbon!"  Another house elf came running.  "This is the only person outside of myself, Professor Snape here, or Mr. Ronald Weasley who is allowed in this house while I'm not here," he said firmly.  "Make sure of it.  No one else, especially not any of Gram's friends."

"Yes, we shield," she agreed, bowing to him.  "We protect.  You want *those* things?"

He looked down at her and smiled. "I'll pack them over the holidays or this summer.  We'll deal with them with Professor Snape's help.  That's why he's allowed.  That and I trust my fellow student, Ronald Weasley.  He's the youngest son of the family and my age."  She nodded, accepting that.  "This officer seems decent so if he needs something from her office, he can do so."  She nodded again.  "Everyone else, shock the hell out of and make them cry."   The officer raised an eyebrow but he looked amused. "Sorry.  I didn't quite get a lot of sleep last night.  Nightmares you know."  He looked at the Minister for Magic.  "Did you need anything else?"

"Your grandmother was a kind and loving woman."

"Not to me she wasn't.  If she was to you, perhaps she was looking for a new toy. You should ask Mr. McNair about her habits.  He once said his cousin committed suicide by marrying her."  He looked at the officer.  "Yes, the rumors were true."

"That's fine," he agreed calmly.  "Are you in control of it?"

"He has his moments but we are helping him at the school," Snape assured him, putting a hand on the boy's shoulders. "I'm watching over him myself since I came from a similar background."

"Is he a Slytherin as well, Professor?" the officer asked.

"No, the hat said if I went there, I'd go darker than Grams," Alex said dryly.  "Therefore I'm a Gryff."  He shrugged.  "It's suiting me well enough so far."  He headed back to the living room, then went into the library and came out with three books, handing two over and pocketing the other one. "Is that all you needed?"  The officer nodded.  "Thank you.  I'll see you at the reading?"  The officer nodded, giving him a faint smile.  "Then good day."  The officer and Fudge walked out, the officer having to pull him out.  He looked at Snape.  "Why was he elected?"

"A gift for self-aggrandizing."

"Ah."   He pointed at the fireplace.  "Can we leave before this puts me into a giddy mood?"

"If you wish.  No other supplies needed?"

"Well...."  He looked at the house elves.  "I'll be back at the Hols.  For now, can you please send me stuff for a party tonight?"  They all nodded and ran for the kitchen.  "Don't forget the shield, Gibbons."  He went back to the school, dragging his new trunk with him.  Everyone in the tower gave him odd looks.  "She didn't pack me real clothes," he complained as he trudged.  Ron got up and grabbed the other end. "Thanks, mate.  There's an anti-floating charm on here and I never figured out how I had done it."  They carried it up and Alex put it onto his bed, opening it and showing what was inside.  He tossed over a magazine.  "Here, for some reason I get it monthly."  Ron gaped and then stared at him.  He grinned.  "She's dead!  There's stuff coming for a party tonight!"

Ron hugged him.  "It's okay.  Now you can be normal until you can get that one person."

"Hmm, true," he agreed, smirking a bit.  He held up his comic books.  "That's why I brought these.  That's why the stupid trunk was so heavy too."  Someone pounded on the door.  "I haven't jumped him yet, so we're still dressed!"  The door opened and McGonagall got out of the way of the house elves bringing in the other box.  "Thank you, loves.  Now, go clean the house and await for my return."  They nodded and kissed his hand before leaving, just like she had taught them.  He waited until they were gone to grin at McGonagall, giving her a little wink.  "She's dead.  She blew out the pilot on a gas stove but left the gas running."  She stared and he opened the box, pulling out the brandy.  "Well, they obviously thought some older folk would be celebrating as well."  He handed it over.  "Share that with Professor Snape please, ma'am."

"Fine.  Are you celebrating?"  He nodded, pulling out the cold cake and handing it to Ron, who ran it downstairs.  A cheer went up.  "Are you all right?"

"One less stone around my neck.  I've only got one person left on my shit list and we're trying to see if it was Malfoy or not.  Though, Professor Snape wanted me to wait until I was an adult to deal with him."

"That would be for the best," she noted dryly, taking the brandy with her.  "There's more upstairs," she noted as she walked through the common room.  "He's holding a wake for his grandmother."  Someone tried to take the bottle by floating it off and she grabbed it again, scowling around.  "That is not for you."  She left, slamming the portrait behind her.

"Pity, but there's another one in there," Alex called down.  The older kids all went rushing up to grab the box, two of them stuffing Percy in a closet until the party was done with.


Alex came down to breakfast Sunday morning, smiling and happy with the world.  He sat down and nodded at Harry, who grinned back.  Then he nodded at Granger, who just gave him an odd look and said, "I didn't know they had wizarding drugs to affect emotions."

He calmly pulled his wand and hexed her then smiled sweetly.  "Why would I need any, ducks?  Now be a good little girl and go bother someone else."  He sent her off, then unhexed her at the glaring he could feel from the head table.  "What?" he asked.  "She earned it."  He grinned at Ron as he jogged in.  "Granger just went for a run."


"She made a joke about medicines affecting moods."

"Ah."  Ron nodded, grinning at him.  "No, I don't think it'd do you any good. You're an evil and cold bastard, we all know that already, Alex."  Alex beamed at him for that.  "So, can you help us prank the Slytherins maybe?"

"I grew up with a great many of them.  Goyle has always been nice to me so he's safe from me.  Parkinson I may allow you to hex since someone tried to arrange a marriage between us.  Turned me off women totally."  He shuddered.  "But Crabbe and Goyle have always been very nice to me."

"That's fine," Harry agreed with a grin of his own.  "If they attack us, we won't let you hurt them.  But how about Malfoy?"  Alex appeared to be considering it, then sighed and nodded.  "Great.  Can I get some ideas?"  Alex handed over the extra book he had carried with him, beaming brightly.  "Whoa."  He flipped through the first few pages.  "This is right neat!"

One of the twins came down to steal it, then went back to his seat.  "Thanks, Alexander."

"We needed that," the other one called.

Alex grinned at Harry.  "Get it from them, mate."

"Sure."  Harry beamed at the twins. "Can I have that after you're done?"

"Sure," they called, waving him off.

Greg Goyle walked over and ignored everyone but Alex, leaning down next to his ear.  "I'm sorry for your loss.  So are Draco and Vincent," he whispered.  "Is there anything we can do?"

Alex grinned at him.  "We had a party last night," he promised.  "Thank you."  Greg nodded.  "By the way, you might tell your father I had a shield put up around the house so *no one* could get into her things.  Just in case they try."  He nodded and rushed back, going to use Draco's owl for that message.  Someone would be trying and they both knew it.  He looked at Harry, then at Dumbledore, then at Harry again.  "We should talk later."


"We should just talk.  Before the funeral."  Harry nodded, accepting that.  "You too, Ron.  You're an exception I laid on the house's new shields in case something happened to me from one of her friends."  Ron's face looked like he had just been hit with a frying pan.  "It'll be fine, but that's just in case something happens.  You and Professor Snape can both get in there.  Him because he knows what some of those things are, you because I think I can trust you not to use them."  Ron nodded hard, swallowing quickly.  "Do not tell your folks.  Someone in the Ministry heard me giving that order.  There's an officer allowed as well."

"Fine.  Thank you for the trust," Ron said, smiling again.  "Does that mean you won't hex me this week?"

Alex grinned.  "I'll try not to. I might even leave you alone in Charms when I'm bored."

"Why are you so bored in there?" one of their roommates, Dean, asked.

"Because I learned all those years ago.  One of my Gram's favorite punishments was a curse that forced me to sit and read for days and weeks on end without a break. I went through quite a lot of her old school books and law books."

"How?" Neville asked quietly.

"It's called the Imperius," he offered quietly in return.  "It's an Unforgivable."  Neville shivered and nodded at that.  "That's why I'm not particularly fond of books and studying now unless something interests me.  Professor Flitwick and a few others already know and they're letting me do a lot more practical things when they can.  After all, I already know most of what we're going over this year in Charms.  Transfiguration.  Potions, though I don't understand them.  And some things in Runes and Arithmancy.  The only subject you'll find me actively studying is Astronomy because I'm very much a night person and I like nights and stars.  It's a wise teacher who doesn't force stupid shit on a bored student."  That got some giggles.  "Was there any cake left?"  They all shook their heads.  "Shoot."  Hermione Granger stomped back in, looking quite peeved at him.  He just grinned and looked at the boys again.  "Anyone wanna take bets on who's going to be my guardian until I'm legal?"

"Fudge?" Ron asked.

"He actually protested multiple times that my grandmother was a nice and pleasant woman," Alex said dryly, smirking at him.  Ron stared, then burst out laughing.  "Yeah.  So I wouldn't put it past her, but she's more into torture than that.  She knows I could get past him.  Any other bets?"

"Maybe she named Snape or McGonagall," Neville offered gently.  "A teacher is usually a good choice and they're usually a safe choice."

"Perhaps," he agreed, considering it.  "That wouldn't be so bad."

"What about your father?" Harry asked gently.

"Another possibility," he agreed.  "I'm not sure if she knows though.  There was a Fiddelus charm on my birth certificate."  He considered it, looking around the hall.  "As long as it's not Malfoy.  I might not care as long as it's not him."

"You don't like him either?" Harry asked.

"Well, Draco and I have an on-going argument at the moment," he admitted.  "Nothing too tragic.  I could easily hex him and end it."  That got some laughs so he shrugged.  "He knows some, I know more."  He looked around the hall again.  "I guess I'll find out Tuesday."

"Hopefully it'll be someone nicer," Harry told him, handing him the bacon.  Alex had always eaten bacon each morning.  Alex grinned.  "Do you go by Alexander or Alex?  I heard Pansy call you Alex during a class."

"Pansy and the rest of them don't have my permission to call me that, and I loathe that they do," he admitted.  "Only those with permission call me Alex. Greg and Vinnie have it.  Draco used to," he admitted.  "Professor Snape does now as well."  He looked at them.  "Let's see how this year goes, Harry, then I might give you permission."  Harry nodded, grinning at him.  "How's your shoulder?"

"Just fine.  Whatever you did worked well," he admitted, giving him a long look, then glancing at Ron.  Alex shrugged slightly.  "Did you?" he hissed.  Alex nodded.  "Why?"

Alex pulled out his wallet and handed over a picture, making Harry go pale.  "That was me when I was eight, Harry.  I can't allow anyone else to be that way."  He took it back and put it away.  "I'm sorry if you feel I breached some ethical or moral or even friendship boundary, but tough."

Harry nodded.  "Thank you. wasn't unwelcome, but I don't think it'll do any good."

"You're more than welcome to come stay with me, no matter who my guardian is," he promised.  "I doubt that even the Dark Lord would be able to get through our shields."  Harry relaxed and nodded.  "And of course, Ron's mum and dad might invite you over too, that way you can calm Ron down and make him a normal child."  Ron spit at him, then went back to his breakfast, but he was grinning.  Harry and Alex shared a look of understanding.  Then Alex dug in like the eleven-year-old boy he was.  It was time to eat, he was hungry.


Alex came back from his will reading and took his tie off, flopping down on the couch.  He looked around, finding Ron.  "Where's Harry?"  Ron gave him a long look.  Then a shrug.  "I ask because my Grams made him my guardian."   Ron slowly built up until he was howling in laughter, rolling around on the floor.

"I want to know...."

"What curse you used," the twins yelled across the room.

He looked back at them.  "Harry was named my guardian," he called back.  They looked stunned, then burst out laughing as well, leaning on each other and their friend Lee. He looked over as McGonagall came in, grinning at her.  "Did you get the good news?"

She nodded.  "I had.  Have you told Mr. Potter yet?"

"No," he said with a grin, pointing at Ron, who was still giggling madly.  "Just them."

She rolled her eyes.  "We will have to decide about your holidays."

He patted her on the hand. "Harry can come home with me.  I'm very responsible as you well know."  She looked stunned so he grinned.  "Really.  I can't go live with his and I've got shields on the house.  We'll be fine, even if her thoughts on the returning of some people is true."

"Fine.  I'll tell the Headmaster you said so."  He pulled her down and whispered in her ear, getting a shocked look.  "Really?"  He nodded.  "Would that matter?"

"He asked, the will was written too firmly.  He can sue him for custody of me.  Oh, and Fudge was there for some reason.  He wanted to protest me not being in a hospital for mental maladies."

"Hmm.  Something will have to be done about him," she noted, heading back to tell the Headmaster that new interesting news.  She found Severus already up there.  "Are you all right with this?"

"Those two will get into no end of trouble," he said dryly.  She gave him a long look. "He told you?" he asked, taking a sip of his tea.  She nodded.  "It is not to become common knowledge.  It would prejudice others against him, especially if his grandmother's thoughts were true."

"Very well then.  He has offered Harry the right to go home with him over the holidays, Headmaster."

"There are shields...." he started.

She slapped her hand on the desk.  "I had to heal six weeks worth of bruises on that boy's back," she hissed, glaring at him.  "If you *ever* send him back to that house with those *muggles* I will charge you as well as them."  He looked taken aback and she continued to glare.  "I mean it."  He nodded swiftly.  "Mr. Birmingham assures me there are shields on his house and I'm sure Severus and I can make sure they're safe enough and pop around on occasion."

"More often than not.  Otherwise two Gryffindors alone will get into trouble," Snape noted.

She smirked at him. "It galls you that he's in my house, doesn't it?"

He nodded.  "Indeed," he said calmly, then smirked a bit in return.  "But it's better you who must deal with his changing nature than I most of the time.  After all, he doesn't much swear in front of me any longer."  He took another sip of his tea, staring her down.

She snorted.  "Fine.  Just keep the poor dear calm."  She looked at the Headmaster.  "Did anything come of that mental health exam Poppy was forced to do?"

"Not yet," he admitted.  "Should it, I'll inform you first and then him."  He looked at Severus.  "You as well," he assured him.

"Thank you.  Since the boy has chosen me to mentor him into more proper behavior."  He finished his tea and put his cup down.  "Was there anything else?"

"Who was she trying to torture this time?" McGonagall asked.

"Her friends.  That way they have easier access to the boys, or so she thought.  Alex isn't as dumb as she thought or tried to make him."  Someone knocked on the door.

"Come," the Headmaster called.  Percy Weasley walked in and handed over a book.  He flipped through it.  "Whose is this?"

"Alexander Birmingham's.  He gave it to the twins and Mr. Potter," he reported. "I didn't think it safe and Professor McGonagall wasn't in her office."  He smiled at her.  "That boy is horrible."

"He's safe, Percy."  She took the book to look through, smiling at it.  "Pranks?"

"Dangerous and deadly," he replied.

She handed them to Severus.  "You're his mentor."

He looked through them, then at her.  "He has a definite hand for charms and transfiguration."

"So it seems.  I'm worried about his grades however."

"It's not like he'll have to work for a living," Percy said dryly.  "By that time he'll probably have killed someone!"

"Only the person who killed his mother is left for him to hate," Snape said coldly.  "You would do better to learn the boy's nature before impinging it."

"Fine," he agreed.  "Then you talk to him.  He taught Mr. Potter the 'reflectus' charm just a bit ago."  He walked out, leaving it in their hands.

"They're both quite strong and it would be unexpected," McGonagall noted.

"It would make the Malfoy/Potter battles that have already started more fun as well," Severus agreed.  "It's not a harmful one."

"True, it's not.  Let us have another talk with Mr. Birmingham, Severus, please."  He nodded, getting up and going to do that.  He looked at McGonagall.  "If you're right and they're going to do something with the information they have, will you stand by the boy?"  She nodded.  "Very well then, I'll trust you two to handle that most delicate situation."  She smiled and left, leaving him to groan in peace.  Why hadn't the hat put him in Hufflepuff?  Far away from Harry and the Weasleys.


Alexander sent off the letter, then skipped down to his first period class, smiling at the teacher.  Who looked a bit scared.  He winked.  "Sharing some information."  He sat down in his usual spot, grinning at Ron.  "That was a good idea."

"Thanks," he offered.  "Can I have some help if I get stuck?"

"Sure.  Not a problem."

"I believe we'll be doing something you're not familiar with," Professor Flitwick noted calmly.  "You said you learned from her books and this was not in them."

"Cool," Alex said with a grin.  "Still, I'm pretty good at charms."  He shrugged. "If not, we'll help each other."  He smiled as Harry came in rubbing his forehead.  "Another one?"

"Harry," Ron sighed. "You've got to get that looked at."

"I'm fine."

"You're not fine," Alex assured him, moving his hand to look at it.  He muttered and blew on it, then touched his wand to it.  "That should ease a bit of the pain today but Ron's right, Harry, you need to get that looked at.  It could be something really dangerous, like a flobberworm crawled into your ear and got stuck in that empty, hollow spot inside your head."

Harry grimaced, but he didn't look upset. "I'll be fine," he promised.  "It's just a twinge."

"Harry, anything that makes you grab your head and bend over moaning in pain isn't just a twinge," Ron said firmly.  He glanced around, then leaned closer.  "Talk to someone about it or I'm gonna find a way to make Granger go off on you about it," he hissed.  Harry shuddered and even Alex moaned at that cruelty.  Harry nodded, agreeing to it.  "Thanks."  He grinned and pinched Alex on the arm.  "What did you send?"

"A report on that meeting where he said repeatedly she was a nice and kind woman."  Flitwick looked at him, looking really disturbed now.  "Fudge said that about my Grams," he said with a bright grin.  He shuddered and shook his head, turning away and going to start putting the charm on the board.


Halloween came, as it usually did, and found Alex in meditation on the roof right outside their room.  Ron stuck his head out. "It's a feast tonight," he called.

"If I don't keep up a banishing, she'll come back," he called back.  "Sneak me some."

"Fine."  Alex flipped him something.  "What's that for?"

"In case my Grams decides to come bother Neville or someone.  It'll lead back to my wand, which is in my lap, so I know to start a new banishing, one for a spirit that's closer."

"Okay."  He nodded, going down to the Great Hall with Harry.  He shook his head at Seamus' odd look.  "He's doing a constant banishing to make sure she doesn't appear."

"Oh."  Neville frowned.  "She can't, can she?"  Ron shrugged and flipped the little button at him.  "What's this for?"

"Alex said to set it off if she comes to bother you.  That way he can do a different sort of banishing."

"Oh, okay."  He put it in his shirt pocket and left it at that.  He still didn't understand Alex, but his grandmother wasn't *that* bad either.  The food appeared and they all dug in, enjoying the holiday quite a lot.  At least until Professor Quirrell came in shouting about that troll.  Then they were herded back up the stairs like little children.  Neville looked around, but no Harry and Ron.  He ran up the stairs, bursting into their room. "Alex!" he panted.  "There's a troll in the school."

"She did come?"

"No!  A real troll!  Quirrell found it!  Ron and Harry are gone!"

"Fine, I'll go," he agreed, climbing back in with his wand between his teeth.  "Use the button if she shows up, okay?"  He patted him on the arm and headed downstairs, looking at Percy, who was standing guard.  "Has it occurred to you yet that your baby brother is missing along with Mr. Potter?"  Percy's mouth opened and he used the opportunity to get past him and out the portrait.  He headed down the hall, casting a 'creature be found' charm he had found in the advanced books someone so foolishly left lying around their common room.  He did like charms enough to study a bit in there.  He ran into the group of teachers and Harry and Ron coming back. "Shoot, I missed it," he sighed, shaking his head.  "You two scared Neville all to hell!"

"Wasn't our fault!" Harry complained, but he was grinning.  "So, did she show?"

Alex looked at his wand.  "It's not lit yet, but you never know."

"Why weren't you at the feast?" McGonagall demanded, staring him down.

"I was keeping up a banishing to keep the old bitch away from the poor, helpless students and me."  She rolled her eyes and his wand lit.  He held it up.  "See?"  He rushed back with Harry, Ron, and Hermione behind him, bursting back in.  There she was.  "Oh, yay," he proclaimed.  "Sir Nicholas, did you want this troublesome quim of a ghost?" he called.  "If not, I'm doing a banishing so be careful!"  He started his chant, wand going into his back pocket, moving forward to banish the stupid woman.  She screamed and he chanted louder, making her fade out.  She came back and he pulled his wand, casting something, making her shriek in misery and break apart.

"Well, at least she was entertaining this time," Ron told him, clapping him on the back before wiggling a finger in his ear.  "You're loud."

"That was even louder than you snore," Harry agreed.

Alex grinned at them.  "Next time I'll let her possess one of you."

"Twenty points to Gryffindor for sheer stubbornness and dumb luck," McGonagall muttered as she walked out.  She ran into the headmaster.   "Alexander banished her."

"The troll was female?"

"No, his grandmother.  Should we send up the rest of feast to the houses, Headmaster?"

He stared after her, mouth open, not sure what to say to that.


Snape groaned as he read his morning paper, looking down at his troublesome son.  "Alexander!" he called.  The boy just grinned at him.  "Come here please."  He walked over, nibbling on a piece of bacon.  "What was the intention behind that?"

"To cast doubt on some of her friends."

"I see. What good will that do?"

Alex hopped up beside him, leaning next to his ear.  "Because Harry Potter keeps holding his head each time Professor Quirrell turns his head around," he whispered.  "It's fairly obvious to some of us what's going on and I was charged with protecting the house.  Besides, we deserve better than that slug."  He grinned as he straightened up again.  "It wasn't much of a plan, but we all know I suck at them."  He grinned at Professor Quirrell.  "Hi.  Did I have one of those icky papers due in your class on something?  I can't remember."

"One on boggarts," he said quietly.  "Did..did you need some..some help?"

"No," he assured him with a grin.  "What do I have left to fear?"  He went back to his seat.  He watched as an owl flew in and gracefully landed in front of the Headmaster, raising an eyebrow when he was looked at.  "What did I do this time?" he called, sounding amused.

"It's a summons from the Ministry," he offered, waving him back up there.  It was handed over.  "I don't know why."

"Eh, who cares.  There's only about twenty decent people there anyway and Ron's dad is one."  He went back to the table, reading the message.  "Eww, it'll take me out of charms."

"It's not like you need the work," Hermione said.  She cleared her throat.   "Alexander, may we start over?"

He looked at her. "Maybe.  I still don't trust females."

"Fine," she agreed quickly.  "I can understand that.  I can stick to sociably polite if you can."  He nodded.  "Thank you.  Do you, um, need any help with your defense paper?"

"Hermione, what do I have to fear?" he asked dryly.  "Disappointing someone?  I never cared what others thought anyway. Creatures?  I can probably kill nearly anything one way or another.  My Grams coming back?  I banished her the last time."

"What about what she was inferring about the Dark Lord?" Malfoy said from behind him.

Alex looked back at him and shrugged. "I'm not the one he'd try.  He might eventually get to me because of some of the artifacts in the house, but by the time he returns, they'll be long gone."  Malfoy looked amused at that.  "As in safely stored in Gringotts.  It's not like I need the money enough to sell them."  He smirked a bit.  "What about you?  What do you fear, Draco?"

"My father."

"Hmm.  I don't.  Even if he hates me once he gets to know me better, I'm good by myself most of the time."  He grabbed another piece of bacon and stood up, grabbing his bag.  "I'm off to the infirmary.  Tell Flitwick?"  They all nodded and he headed off.  He was whistling when he got up there, smiling at the nurse, who was scarier than McGonagall in his opinion.  "Someone wanted us to meet with some twerp at the Ministry?"

"They're in my office, Alexander," she said quietly.  He shrugged.  She pulled him aside.  "They want to put you on medicine for your anger."

He nodded and grinned.  "I thought so."  He walked in and shut the door behind him, locking her out of her office.  "If you had my medical records, you would see my grandmother tried that once before."  The woman sat up, glaring at him.  "You would also find that it sent me into a blind rage and actually got me praise from the old, torturing bitch because I tortured someone else."  She opened her mouth. "Until you talk with my doctor and ask about that incident and him having to detox me for two days straight, you do not have my permission, nor my guardian's permission, to do this to me."

"You have a guardian?"

"Yes, my grandmother named Mr. Harry Potter over my custody."

"He's a minor," she noted.

"I also have a father.  You can ask him."

"His name?"

"Ask the Headmaster."

"He's the one who called us."

He turned and unlocked the door, smiling kindly at the nurse.  "Get Professor Snape up here, now," he ordered calmly.  "The Headmaster called them in."  Then he upped the wattage of his grin.

She shivered and went to make that summons from the main floo, getting him immediately.  "Severus, apparently the Headmaster sent for them to try an experimental treatment on Mr. Birmingham? He said he wanted to see you first."

"I am his father," he said quietly, walking into the office and slamming the door.  "You're not touching him."  The woman stood up and backed away from him.  "I was just told what you're trying to do."

"Gee, did you hear about the last time someone tried this one me?" Alex asked dryly.

"Unfortunately I have," he admitted.

"If you do not have custody of the boy, then his treatment is to be decided by the Ministry since his guardian is a minor as well."

Alex froze her, staring her down.  "Sweetheart," he said finally, stepping closer. "Do you want to know *why* there's a reason for my anger?"  He unfroze her head.  "I'm perfectly in control until *someone* extremely *stupid* tries something like this."  He took off his robe and shirt, letting her see the scars, watching her eyes as she looked.  "How do you think I got these?"

"It doesn't matter! You're a danger!"

"I'm not a danger," he said, smirking at her.  "I've never been a danger.  I won't ever be a danger unless you force me to be."  She shook her head. "Now, unless you've got a court order in your hands you have no right to force a treatment on me without parental consent."  She licked her lips.  "And if this came from that moron Fudge, I will go off on him some day soon, probably while someone has me drugged."

"Enough," Snape ordered.  "Release her."

"Fat chance."

"Now."   They stared at each other and Snape glared a bit more.  "Now," he repeated.  Alex sighed and undid her.  "Do you have a court order?"  She shook her head, rubbing her hands.  "Then leave.  Now.  There is ample proof that such drugs cause him to actually lose control as some fear he would normally.  So far we've managed to keep him calm and centered.  You're destroying that for the day."

"Oh, let me, please, let me?" Alex pleaded.  "I wanna go back with her, dad."  Snape glared at her again. "Please?"  He grinned.  "I've got to check on something."

"Fine," he decided.  "We'll all go.  Poppy, please inform the Headmaster we're heading to the Ministry."

"Yes, Professor Snape."  She watched them go, relaxing a bit since the danger was over with.  "Please, let neither of them kill someone," she begged and prayed.


Alex came out of the Headmaster's floo, straightening himself out.  "I'm back and I'm more magnificent than Gildroy Lockhart," he announced, smiling and waving a letter.  "For Professor McGonagall.  Professor Snape has a letter on my behalf as well for Mr.  Potter."  He walked out, heading down to her classroom.  He tapped politely and smiled. "You missed it. They tried to have me dosed with something that last time made me kill someone."  He handed her the letter.  "From the Wizengomet."

She unfolded it and looked at it, then at him, smiling and kissing him on the cheek. "Thank you, Alex.  I'm sure he'll appreciate that greatly."  She looked behind him.  "Where is Professor Snape?"

"At Gringotts, filing the paperwork there for both of us.  As long as Harry signs my form," he admitted with a grin.  He waved.  "What period is it?"

"First after lunch.  You missed lunch."

"No, I had lunch.  I ate with the delightful aurors who wanted to know allll about Gram's friends."  He grinned sweetly.  "They were more than happy to make me sandwiches until  I burst."  She chuckled and patted him on the cheek.  "It's Creatures?"  She nodded.  "Thank you, dear."  He headed that way, whistling happily.  He ran into the group and grinned at Hagrid.  "Can I steal my guardian for a moment?  Then we'll both be right back."

"Fine," the teacher agreed, grinning at them.

Alex led Harry a bit off.  "I meddled and you're going to scream at me."  Harry frowned.  "They tried to have me dosed with a calming potion that last time made me kill someone."  Harry groaned and shuddered, hugging himself.  "The only way past that was to have an adult as a legal guardian."

"So I'm signing you over to your father?"

"No, the judges decided that wasn't right since he's not of 'stellar quality and personality' as they put it.  They decided you'd be better for me, even being our age.  And since Professor Snape noted that you did have means of support and livelihood, not that you need it, you now have papers in McGonagall's office that note you as an adult."  Harry passed out so he leaned down to pat him on the face until he woke up.  "Would you kindly sign my papers too?"

Harry nodded, whimpering a bit.  "I should scream."

"Yeah, yeah, do it later," he said with a grin, pulling him up. "So, how does it feel to be officially an adult, Harry Potter?"

"What!" Ron shrieked.  "He's what?"

"She named him my guardian.  A guardian cannot be a minor.  They thought my father would not be the supportive and stellar influence Harry would, so the only right thing they could do by the law was make him an adult.  They also gave him forms for me," he offered with a grin. He turned it on Harry.  "That means you're legal to do whatever you want.  Including move."

Harry sniffled then hit Alex on the shoulder.  "McGonagall has them?"  Alex nodded.  "We'll see about yours, depending on what the Professors tell me."  He grinned at the teacher.  "May I?"

"Go," he said fondly, waving him off.  Harry grabbed his things and ran inside.  "Your idea?"

Alex smirked a bit.  "The old bitch used to force me to read her law books.  What did she expect when she tried something illegal?  Oh, and the aurors were very pleased with me today.  I told them alllll about some of the dinner parties she threw."  He looked at the creature.  "What's that?"

Hermione handed over her notes.  "Here, for today."  He just grinned at her. "He'll be on you about your grades now."

"I'm more a doer than a studier.  I can prove technical mastery.  It should be good enough."  He looked at the current notes.  "How do you write so neatly?"

"Practice.  Perhaps you should take notes?"

He snorted. "Why?  So I had stuff to burn?"

The teacher coughed, bringing them back to the lesson at hand.


Harry sat on Alex's bed late that night, waking him up.  Alex groaned and flipped over so he shoved him again, getting one glaring eye.  "We need to talk, son," he joked.  He held out the papers he had signed.  "They're yours if you really want them.  Your father wanted to talk to you first, make sure you understand what's going on and all that.  He doesn't think you're ready yet."  Alex raised an eyebrow.  "He's downstairs."

"Fine.  Thanks."  He took the papers. "You forgot to date it."  Harry dated it and handed it back, still grinning.  "Thanks, Harry."

"Not an issue."  He watched as Alex pulled on a t-shirt over his boxers and headed downstairs, getting back into his bed once the door had closed.

Alex walked down the stairs, grinning at his father. "You don't think I understand?"

"I think you have a good grasp but possibly not a full one.  There's also things you probably didn't stop to consider.  Things like taxes."

"Eww."  Alex flopped down in a chair, pointing at the couch.  "You might as well sit."  Snape sat across from him and he yawned.  "It's late.  I'm going to be grumpy tomorrow."

"Claim a headache and sleep in the infirmary."

"Sure.  Thanks."  He looked at him.  "That means I'd be missing your class."

"You'll learn more this summer when I work on your skills."

"You mean I can't have fun?"

"No, you may have fun," he sighed, shaking his head.  "This is why I think you're not ready yet, Alexander.  You have a means of support with your trust and the family funds.  You will also be expected to take on adult roles and methods.  You will have to pay taxes at the adult rate.  You will have to deal with financial matters.  You will also have to deal with some political consequences of your actions earlier with the aurors."

"No I won't."

"Yes, you will.  Others heard you saying you had lunch with them."

"And what're they gonna do?  They knew before I didn't support Voldemort coming back."  He hissed and shivered.  "Surely you're not afraid of his name?"

"No, but I am afraid of the man.  He could come back."

"Yeah, and now you've got two wizards with hellish skills and a destiny to combat it.  Ones who can actually learn what we need to before it's too late."  Severus looked at him so he went back upstairs and got a book, bringing it back to him.  He sat down while his father looked through it.  "I'm not a normal eleven-year-old, dad.  I never have been.  I have this feeling that I'm much beyond eleven, like I passed my majority a few years ago."  Snape looked at him.  "Plus, someone let slip about a prophecy."  He looked over as someone came down the stairs.  "Arguing about my paperwork to make me legally an adult."

"You're only eleven," Percy complained.

"And?"  He looked at him.  "Can you honestly say I'm a normal eleven-year-old boy?"  Percy shook his head.  "Do you think I'm going to let the power go to my head?  I've been doing harder spells and charms than you do, Percy Weasley.  I've already had three years of intense, forced education in most of the studies.  I took a sample NEWT test and passed in Charms and Transfiguration."  Percy and Snape both looked stunned.  "I'm not a genius, I'm not a book nerd, but I was forced to learn it.  I learned how to throw off the Imperius after too many times of having it used on me.  And yes, father, the aurors know."  He looked at him again.  "I told them everything.  I let them do a pensieve on me.  One of them cried when he watched it.  They all made sure I'm not going dark and I pointed out that I didn't need to go darker, I'm pretty enough as is."  He flipped back some of his dark brown hair, grinning a bit.  "They thought I should dye it green."

Snape shook his head, letting out a small moan.  "That joke was horrible, son."

"Yes, but it proved to them that I'm not going to permanently go dark either. They also realized that I didn't mention everyone because I did slip once.  That's why I talked with Greg earlier.  I excused it by pointing out that Malfoy's father had him under his thumb because Malfoy owned the deed to his house and lands."  Snape nodded at that.  "They said that might be an extenuating circumstance. Greg wrote his father already to tell him I said that."  Snape nodded at that.  "I'm not a little boy.  I'm thinking ages beyond my current age.  I'm thinking ages beyond most everyone in this school.  I'm sure I can get some help from someone with the tax and business stuff.  After all, Grams didn't want to handle hers.  Percy, we're really not going to trash the common room."

"Sorry. Caught in my thoughts."  He hurried up the stairs before the professor could take points off.

Alex looked at Snape.  "Grams once said I had a great destiny and then I tossed it aside to come here," he said quietly.  Snape shook his head.  He nodded.  "Yeah, she did.  She mentioned someplace called a Hellmouth, asked me repeatedly if I knew anything about it.  I told her no. She probably didn't believe me, but I don't.  I don't know what her source was, but she said I had a past life there not too far in the past.  Then she mentioned something about a prophecy as well.  The same something about birthdays and prophecies that the judge mentioned.  We need to have a talk with Dumbledore."

"Do you think that would help?"

"He can't refuse me access to a prophecy about me," he pointed out.  "Besides, if Grams was right, then I'm here to help Harry.  If she was wrong, then she made me into a powerful force for the light for no reason."  He and his father shared a look.

Snape could see the intelligence in the eyes, the knowledge behind them.  He could also see the pain that lived in the boy and the anger as well.  "I trust you, Alex, I just don't want you to make a hasty decision."

"If Quirrell is holding part of the Dark Lord, it's already too late to make more than a timely one, Father."

"He is," he said quietly.  "I believe those two twerps you hang about with know why as well."

"If not, Granger does.  Will I ever quit finding women scary and repulsive?"

"Probably not with your upbringing," he admitted.  He shook his head.  "I wish this were not necessary."

"Yeah, me too.  I'd like to be a little kid.  Hiding behind parents when I do stupid shit.  Making it up as I go along.  But I can't."

"You still can, son.  Nothing says you have to send in that paperwork."

"True," he agreed. "Then again, nothing says Harry didn't put next year on it either."  He grinned at him. "Score one for sleepy people plans."  Snape snorted and shook his head.  Alex yawned again.  "Sorry."

"No, it is late."  He stood up.  "You may do that if you wish," he decided.  "I wish you would not.  I wish it were not necessary."

"If wishes were horses we'd all be neck-deep in shit," Alex reminded him.

"I was not making that sort of wish, son."  He smiled at him.  "I am proud."

"Thanks, dad."  He stood up and punched him on the arm, getting a hug instead.  "Awww."  He pulled back and grinned. "You know you're always welcome at the house."  Snape nodded.  "Good.  Then I'm going to go back to bed.  I'll send that in tomorrow since it's got the wrong date on it.  Hey, maybe I can teach defense some year soon."

"No, son, that would get many students upset. You would be a horrible teacher."  He patted him on the cheek.  "Come down this weekend and we'll discuss your plans since you claim you can't plan or fly."  He walked off, leaving him there.

"Wow. That's a headrush," a voice said from behind him.

Alex grinned and nodded, smirking at Hermione.  "So, what was that creature today?"

"I'll tell you if you tell me about the philosopher's stone."

"Not my area of expertise," he assured her.  "But you can tell Harry his forehead problem is Quirrell for sure."  He headed back to bed, snuggling into his semi-warm spot and getting comfortable.


Ron looked at the sleeping guy.  "Accio Alex's wand," he called, summoning it to him.  Everyone looked at him.  "My mum used to do it to the twins."  He shrugged. "Okay, let's wake him."

Harry grinned and jumped on Alex, bouncing on his bed. "Get up!"   Alex took a swing at him, making him laugh and move in to tickle him, which got him shoved off the bed by a foot but he was still laughing.

"Fuckers," Alex muttered, heading into the bathroom.  He came back and got his wand from Ron, then found some clothes and got dressed.  "Gonna go nap infirmary," he yawned, heading that way.  He trudged into the Great Hall, making some food, and noticing Madam Pomfrey was sitting up there. He walked up to her.  "I need a nap," he whined.  "I ache."

She leaned over to touch his forehead.  "You're not warm."

"Which is surprising with how cold your hands are."  He moved it so it was on his cheek, making her smile at him. "Please?  It's not like I'm not ahead."

"Fine," she agreed.  "Go up and wait on me. I'll check you over."  He nodded, trudging that way with his bacon sandwich.  "Too much celebrating?" she asked McGonagall, who was next to her.

"No, his father wished to have a word with him late last night," she admitted.

"Ah.  Hopefully good ones?"  She shrugged.  "That's fine then.  Anything I should know?"

"Remove his wand before you try to wake him," she said seriously. Snape looked down at them.  "He warned me himself and he warned his dormmates.  Move the wand out of his reach."  They both nodded at that and the headmaster cleared his throat.  "I would expect such reflexes from someone who had seen what he had," she pointed out.

"Headmaster, there was something said yesterday that I'm not sure the meaning of.  Would you have a moment before classes?" Snape asked.

"Of course, Severus," he agreed with a gentle smile.  "What was said?"

"I doubt I want it aired in the Great Hall," he said quieter.  Dumbledore nodded at that and let it drop until they were in his office a few minutes later.  Snape looked at the man once he was seated.  "It was said that there's a prophecy about my son and the Potter brat?"  Dumbledore went pale.  "His grandmother also mentioned it.  Neither of us have any idea and we thought it might have some bearing on the children being allowed adult status."

"It could," he admitted.  He looked out his window, then at his professor again.  "There is a prophecy about the end of Voldemort's reign of terror and how a child born during the right time can end it.  It suits him and Mr.  Potter?"

"My son was born on July 27th, Albus."

"I see.  Then yes, it does apply.  To Mr. Longbottom as well," he admitted quietly.

"That boy will never do anything great," he sneered.

"He is a gentle and nice boy, Severus.  There's always a place for children like he is," he chastised.

This new information caused a sudden and painful revelation.  "That's why you wanted my son in Hufflepuff.  So he and Mr. Potter would not meet and not work together."  Dumbledore frowned at him.  "Wasn't it?"

"No.  He needed the healing...."

"Albus, he would have shut those little hugging and happy creatures out within a day," he interrupted.  "You know as well as I do that any child as harmed as my son is would not do well there.  With the way Alex was trained and treated as a youngster, there was every possibility that he'd be in Azkaban by now."  Dumbledore sighed again.  Snape glared at him.  "Leave my son be, Albus.  He's not a tool.  Nor will he allow Mr. Potter to become a tool.  If it must be that they will defeat the Dark Lord, don't push my son into becoming the next one."  The older man looked hurt at that.  "I read it already.  Leave them be, Albus.  As for my son, his papers are already on their way to the Ministry."  An envelope was pulled out of a drawer and handed over.  "I see."  He took them back and walked off.  He found Potter waiting on his first class and drug him off as well, taking him to his office.  He handed him the paperwork.  "Go to the Wizengomet.  Ask them for a new copy of these or to be allowed to change the date," he said firmly.  "Or else you and Alex are both in grave danger."

"Instead of just Voldemort danger?"

Snape nodded.  "Consider this, Potter.  The Headmaster wanted my son in Hufflepuff.  Knowing him as you do, do you think he would have survived sanely to this point?"

"I think it's possible one of the kids might have been accidentally killed," Harry offered.

"My feelings exactly.  Now go. I'm excusing you until my class."  He nodded and took the floo powder tin, heading off through the fireplace. Snape started to relax and then someone tapped on his door.  "Go away."

Malfoy walked in and shut the door.  "I think not."  He leaned against the door.  "Alex turned my father in?"

"Alex turned a great many people in to make sure of his safety.  After all, the Dark Lord wanted him as a sacrifice."  Draco swallowed.  "You must be especially careful, Draco.  Your father killed his mother."  That got a nod.  "I wouldn't put it past him to snap some day and take you instead of him."

"I'd only use him as a lesson," Alex called, walking in.  "Ministry idiots are living in the infirmary.  They're trying again.  Where is Harry?"

"At the Ministry.  Get Professor McGonagall...."

"I already did.   Fudge sent them personally with the Headmaster's blessings."  He looked at Draco.  "Sorry and all that, but your father is my enemy.  It's up to you about us.  Though I do still owe you for that *splendid* haircut."  Draco shivered and shook his head.  He looked at his father.  "I'm heading to the house."

"I sent the floo powder with Potter."

Alex rolled his eyes and summoned something with his wand, grabbing the soft-sided bag he had packed.  He pulled out the tin of floo powder.  "Laters.  Birmingham Hall," he announced, flooing off.

Snape took a deep breath and looked at Draco.  "The future as it was thought to be is changed. You have the chance to make your own decision about the Dark Lord should he come back.  Figure it out."

"I am," he assured him.  "I like the power."

"Yes, but Alex has just as much power as he did.  With more darkness and still no desire to maim and kill except when you wake him up wrong."  Draco snickered at that. "I take it you knew this already?"

"We learned it a few summers back. Crabbe still can't get the colored spot off his back where Alex hit him with the curse."  They shared a look.  "Am I in danger?"

"Not yet.  You're too young to have a Mark."

"Fine.  Thank you for the suggestion and tell your son I'm truly sorry.  That I don't support my father's actions about his mother.  He can have my father for all I care."  He left, going out to his first class.

Snape sat down to consider this new information.  This could get quite messy very quickly.  Besides, what would his son have done on a Hellmouth?


Harry and Alex reappeared together on the lawn, dropping the portkey.  They headed up to the office together, handing over the letters from the judges. It was his formal emancipation, Alex's formal emancipation, and Alex's release from the mental health warrant.  That had taken the most time.  Harry looked at the Headmaster.  "We saw the prophecy.   It was self-fulfilling?"  Dumbledore nodded, looking grave.  "That's what the people thought."

Alex coughed.  "Also, there was another bit of news.  Did you know a wizard named Peter Petigrew?"  Dumbledore nodded at that.  "We were told to tell you he was captured last night at Malfoy Manor.  Something about a Godfather to Harry?"

"Harry's Godfather was erroneously imprisoned for his parent's murder," Dumbledore told them.  "Is he free?"

"Getting there."  Harry licked his lips and looked at Alex.  "I left a letter with them to give to him, hoping I could at least get to know them since my parents obviously did."  Alex gave him a hug.  "Thanks."  He looked at him.  "They also said they're coming to talk to Quirrell tonight and nothing and no one had better step in their way.  They're a bit peeved you hadn't figured it out."

"I'm only mortal."

"Which is a really good defense," Alex agreed with a bright grin.  "So, Harry, what're you gonna do when you get bigger?"

"I thought about playing quidditch professionally."

"Figures," Alex teased, punching him on the arm.

"Ow!  You?"  He rubbed his sore arm.

"I was thinking about teaching Defense."

"Then you'd better study, mate.  It takes a lot of knowledge to do that."  Harry hit him back then grinned at him.  "Come on, let's head down to dinner.  I'm starved.  Those sandwiches the aurors gave us didn't last very long."

"They made me more last time," he admitted, following him down.  He grinned at McGonagall since she came out to stop them in the halls, kissing her on the cheek.  "Hello, love.  We're back, it's all set, the Ministry found a few astounding, supposedly-dead people, and everything may be all right by tomorrow.  Is it still class time?  We're starved."

"It's nearly the end, head that way," she ordered, watching their backs.  "Alex, are you all right?"

"Wickedly wonderful, as always," he called, turning to grin and wink at her.  Then he turned to face forward.  "So, Harry.  What should we do over the Hols?  I told my elves I'd be home and start cleaning up the dark arts stuff Grams left."

"If I don't go with them, maybe I'll join you.  Can we bring Ron?"

"Sure, and Granger.  I'm sure she can tell us what something is if we don't know.  Just keep her out of my suite, 'kay?"

"Fine," Harry agreed, grinning at him.  "Some day you'll like girls, I promise."

"Harry, I'm as gay as a float in a parade. I realized this last year when Greg very thoughtfully gave me his father's Playboy."

"Really?  Fancy Ron then?"

Alex looked at him.  "I think he's got a thing for bushy girls. I might be wrong but he was staring at her funny the other day."  They walked into the Great Hall and he grinned at the house elves.  "Feed us?" he pleaded.  "We're starving.  We spent the day at the Ministry without any money and only aurors around us."

The house elves brought a great spread for them, letting them have firsts on everything.


Halfrek canceled the viewing portal, looking down at her most unusual call.  She was the Vengeance demon for Lost Childhoods and this adult had called her about his godson's childhood being stolen.  "Are you satisfied?"

He sniffled and looked up at her.  "Thank you," he said hoarsely.  "Whoever that boy is, it's a miracle."

"He was the Power behind the Slayer.  Now he's happy as well."  She reached down and moved some of the dirty hair out of his face.  "Remember this but do not tell him, Sirius Black.  He cannot go back to them.  They believe him dead and gone."  He nodded, it was a small price to pay.  Besides that boy was better now too, even if Snape was his father.  "Be prepared, they'll be coming for you by tomorrow.  Tell them the truth, do not get hysterical.  Do not soften anything.  Tell them what they want to know.  Then arrange for an old friend to help you and the boys."

"Are they, um...."

She smiled and shook her head.  "No, Harry is not for him.  He has some groupie in a few years."  She winked.  "Wait until you see him play."  She touched his forehead again.  "Wish granted, Sirius Black.  A very unselfish wish granted.  Thank you."  She faded out.

Sirius put his head down on his knees, praying in thanks for her.  It had taken him years to be able to summon her but he had finally managed it.  He looked up as his cage opened, staring at the woman standing there. "Cousin?" he breathed.  She nodded.  He stood up, smoothing down his rags.  "Is it time?"

"It is," she said, nodding at the hallway.  "You'll still have to be in chains."  He smiled and nodded.  "I didn't realize."

"It doesn't matter.  Well, it does, but I'll be bitter about my family later," he decided.

"I understand."  She led him out, putting the chains on him herself.  Then she led him off and portkeyed him to the trial room.  "I have the other prisoner," she reported.   The judge looked up, staring at him, then at the newly captured one.  "Do we need veritasium?"

"No," he said simply.  "I doubt Mr. Black would ever lie after what he's went through."  Sirius shook his head.  "Then speak.  What happened before the Potters were killed."

"I'm glad someone finally asked," he replied, standing up a bit straighter.


Alex walked out of the train station with Harry beside him and his father behind him.  He looked around, noticing the crowded mess of people.  "Ah, traveling," he sighed, shaking his head.  "I hate traveling."  Harry laughed.  "I don't mind going places, it's the getting there."  He shrugged and looked at his father.  "We should head home."

"We should," he agreed.  "Mr. Potter?"

"I was told to meet my ride out here, sir."  He looked around.  "Do you know who it is?"

"I believe I do," he said dryly, turning the boy in the proper direction.  "Him.  Mr.  Lupin."

"Mr. Snape," he said with a faint smile.  "Thank you for watching out for him for us."  He shook his hand and Alex's hand.  "Sirius said to thank you, young man.  You protected our Harry as well."

"Gee, a threesome?" Alex asked.  "Can I get tape?"

"Alex!" Draco shouted.  "That's disgusting!"

Alex smirked back at him.  "Whine. You'd beg for a copy too, Malfoy."  He tugged on his father's sleeve.  "Harry, Christmas afternoon?"  Harry nodded, grinning at him as they left.

"You could go for more than one afternoon if you wanted," Lupin assured him, steering him off to the side.  "We're going to portkey.  Have you ever done that?"  He shook his head.  "That's fine," he promised with a small smile.  "It's fun, but a bit disconcerting your first time."  He pulled out a newspaper and created the portkey.  "Grab your bag and then this.  Once you touch it, we're gone."  Harry did so and then touched the paper, and they were off.



Alex came out of the sweetshop in Hogsmeade, smiling at his bag of treats.  At least until he was rudely grabbed by a cold hand and pulled into an alleyway.  "Who the bloody hell are you?" he demanded.

"Whelp?" the blond man asked.  "I just saw you in Sunnydale.  What are you doing here and British?"

"Who the fucking hell are you, pillock, and why did you grab me?"  He got free and glared at him.  "I'll have you know I've been British my whole life, you dancing nancy!"  He dusted himself off and checked his bag of sweets.  "Whoever you think I am, you've just made a near-fatal mistake, boy.  I am Alexander Birmingham.  I am one of the evilist bastards on the face of the wizarding world.  So whoever you think I am, I bloody well doubt it."  He stormed off.

The vampire stared at him.  There was a mystery here and something was not right.

The End. (And yes, I mean that - at least until my list begged so prettily for more)

To Year Two: