Year Two: Darker and Darker

Alex Birmingham looked around his house as he walked down the stairs.  "Food!" he yelled as he walked, giving the house elves plenty of time to put something in front of him.  By the time he made it into the kitchen, a full spread was laid out for him, and for his visitor, who was sipping tea at the table.  "Father," he said dryly, filling his plate and sitting down.  "No bacon?" he asked.

"Store out," one of his house elves said, covering her eyes.  "We sorry."

"Not your fault.  As soon as you can, get more and freeze some as well."  She nodded, cleaning up the mess he had already created and dishing him up some ham, putting it in front of him.  Alex looked at her.  "Thanks, really."

"You boy, you eat," she reminded him.  She looked at the visitor.  "Professor, sir, need anything?"

"Give him some toast at least," Alex ordered.  The elf nodded and got a plate for him as well. Alex dug in, then looked at his father.  "I thought you were coming over tomorrow."

"Your letter came to me today," he said, handing it over.  "I'm not sure why it didn't come here instead."  He went back to his paper.  "When were you planning on going shopping?"

"I was going to let Harry plan that and tag along," he admitted, opening it to look inside.  "Eww, more books," he complained.

"I could wish your grades were a bit higher, Alex," he said calmly, looking over at his son again.  "You're a bright young man."

"Yeah, but I'm also a 'doer' not a theory person.  I could care less why something happens as long as I can do what I want to with the magic."  The house elf poked him so he started to eat again.  "Yes, Twirly."

"Good.  Yous boy, you eat more."  She went back to making some more toast.  "When is Harry Potter coming back?  Harry Potter is nice boy and house elves all like him."

"I'm sure he's thrilled by their adoration," Snape said dryly.  He nibbled on a piece of toast.  "Would you at least try to study this year, Alex?"

"I tried last year, father, and I did study some.  I studied the sixth and seventh year Charms books and the fifth year Transfiguration book."  He grinned and went back to eating before he could be poked again.  "Twirly, please call Harry and ask him when we're shopping."  She hurried off to do that after taking the toast off the fire.  She came back and poked him.  "I'm eating!"

"He and Misses Weasy say they go this afternoon," she told him.  She frowned and piled his plate higher.  "He come over before to get you.  He say you tag along so you not get into trouble and you buy your books."

Snape snickered, shaking his head.  "It seems Mr. Potter has realized your innate nature."  Alex stuck his tongue out.  "That's not very mature."

"Shit happens," Alex told him.  He went back to eating at the frowning his house elf was doing.  "I want to know what Harry told you to make you scowl at me.  I'm the one who protected you guys against Grams."

"Harry Potter is nice.  Harry Potter say you is needing watched for doing stupid boy stuff.  Harry Potter says Master Alexander is prone to stupid boy stuff and must be kept from doing too much stupid boy stuff, so therefore the house elves watch Master Alexander for stupid boy stuff."

Snape smiled.  "Yes, it seems he does understand you," he agreed.  He went back to his reading, holding out his cup.  It was refilled for him and he went back to sipping it and reading.

"I'll tell you what, father.  I'll try to do something about my Herbology grade and you can find me pictures of my mother when she was younger."  He sipped his juice, getting a long stare in return.  "I'm sure you have some."

"I do," he admitted.  "I found my school trunk recently so I could find some for you."  He folded up his paper and put it aside.  "You will try in there?"

"I suck in there, but sure, I'll try more.  I'll even let the little evil-witch-in-hiding pat me on the arm this year.  Last year I flinched a lot each time she came near me."

"Alex, she's a very nice woman.  There is nothing dark about Madam Sprout.  There never was and there will never be anything dark about that woman.  She's a *Hufflepuff*, Alex.  They don't go dark."

"Bet me.  Remember, I almost became one."

"If you had become one of them, I'd have protested until the hat resorted you, son.  You would have killed one of them within weeks."  Alex nodded, digging back into his breakfast at another poke.  "I'm sure he'll eat," he told the elf.

"Him no eat!" she snorted.  "Him needs to eat.  Master Alexander too skinny and school elves is obviously stupid and not feeding him enough.  He come home too skinny!"  She accepted the pat from Alex's hand.  "You eat!" she ordered, adding more to his plate.

"Fine!  I'll have to be rolled onto the train."  He cleaned his plate and looked at her when she came closer.  "I'm fine.  I'll eat in Diagon later."  She snorted, shaking her head and refilled his plate. He rolled his eyes but ate that too.  Teenage boys were known to be bottomless pits.  He was one of those and he could eat more than Ron did. They had proven it during a Sunday brunch in April.

His father shook his head and went back to his own breakfast.


Alex prowled into the bookstore, sniffing hard.  He frowned when he ran into Draco's back, walking around him, too intent to care who he had just smacked into.  He looked in Ginny's basket, pulling out the diary to sniff.   He sneezed. "Wicked dark magic," he said in awe.  "Nearly as bad as my Gram's torture diary."  He looked at the group.  "Oh, hi, Draco."  He glared at him, holding it up.  "Do you recognize this piece of dark magic?"

"Not really," he admitted, frowning a bit.  "What is that?"

"Give me that!" Lucius said, snatching it from him.  "She must have taken it from me when she ran into me."

Alex frowned at him and snatched it back.  "Afternoon, Uncle Lucius."  Lucius looked at him, then shivered, taking a step back.  "So, it was you?  If so, I believe we should take *lunch*."  He tossed the book at his father, then smiled sweetly and took Lucius' arm, walking him off into the alleyway and a bit away.  "So, was it you who killed my mother?"

"That's incredibly rude and a dangerous allegation," Lucius sneered.

Alex stopped them then turned and punched him, sneering down at him even as he stood on his wand hand.  "Really?  You think so?"  He kicked him in the side, then pulled his wand.  "Do you want to bet Grams didn't teach me *everything* she ever knew?"  Lucius shuddered and tried to get up but Alex kicked him in the groin, making him groan and grab himself.  He chuckled and smirked a bit.  "I'll see you in hell soon, Lucius Malfoy.  I'll have fun with your demise.  I'll leave your son alone, probably.  No promises of course.  If he turns out anything like you, well...."  He smirked a bit more evilly.  "I'll try to only make him a lesson on your failure as a parent."  He bowed.  "You're on my shit list.  One of the last.  Feel lucky.  You and Grams were both his highest people.  Now there's only you left."  He skipped off, literally, humming happily.  His father caught him by the arm, staring down at him.  So he smirked a bit.  "Just letting him know the lay of the land, dad. After all, even she thought a fair warning was honorable in certain situations."  He walked into the bookstore and smiled at Ginny.  "Hi.  I'm guessing you're the scary little girl that Ron swears is his sister?"

Ginny giggled and nodded.  "Unfortunately I am."

"That's fine.  Get with Granger to learn that I don't like girls.  Don't try to cuddle me or anything and I might even help you in Charms if you need it."  He tossed the diary back at his father, sneezing again.  "That's fairly dark.  Someone really should lock such things up."  He walked over to the counter, sighing a bit.  "I'm told I'm going to be forced to buy the second year books at Hogwarts or else I'm going to be living in the potion's classroom all year.  Do you have any copies that look like they've been read repeatedly so I don't have to fake it as much?"

"You don't study?" Ron's mother asked primly.

Alex looked at the older woman, backing up a few steps.  "Considering I was forced to learn repeatedly by an Unforgivable curse, woman, I doubt it.  Please, back away.  I have a thing against females."  She tutted and reached over to hug him.  He ducked away and hid behind Draco, who was still standing there stonily.  "Draco, love.  Be a dear?" he said, pointing at her.

"Mum, his Grams tortured him," Ron said quickly, stopping her.  They didn't need Alex to have one of his episodes in the middle of the bookstore.  The last one had made a lot of the Gryffindors scared.  "Don't.  He can't stand women.  He doesn't trust any of them and he thinks Professor Sprout is a Dark Lord in hiding."  She sighed and nodded, just smiling at him.  "It's all right, Alexander.  She won't hurt you.  The twins would stick up for you anyway."  Alex stepped away from Draco and someone grabbed him so he turned and kneed them in the stomach, making the man scream in pain and fall down.

"I did not give you permission to touch my person," he said coldly.  "Do not attempt such rudeness again, old fart.  I am quite skilled in defending myself."

Draco shook himself free, then tapped Alex on the arm.  "That's Greg's father," he said quietly.  He helped the other man up.  "This is Alexander Birmingham.  He just threatened my father again."  He looked at Alex, then at Potter.  "You're getting bad influences, Alex.  You should watch that."

"Draco, nibble my bum, I can still outhex you any day of the week and make you beg for mercy in front of the whole school," he said with a cool little smirk.  "Remember that.  Always."  He turned and looked at his father.  "Must I really buy those dreaded books?"

"Yes," he said patiently.  He nodded at Goyle Senior.  "He recently found out who happened to his mother," he hissed.  Goyle shivered.

Alex looked at him.  "Don't worry, Greg's a good friend.  I'd never hurt Greg," he assured him.  "Greg stood up for me, even against my Grams once.  Tried to take me away from her even.  He has nothing to fear and Draco's fear is all up to him and his behavior."  Goyle swallowed and nodded, walking the boy out.  Alex scowled.  "I won't have him turning my few friends against me.  Draco and I are going to have to chat on the train," he decided, looking at the bookseller.  "Yes, I'm incredibly fascinating and a sexual beast, but you really don't have to stare at my arse, mate.  Books?  Please?  Horribly used and all that even?"  A pile was handed over.  "Thank you.  Father, you still have my gold."  Snape sighed and handed it over.  "Thanks, dear.  It'll help me later."  He looked at Ron and Harry, who were snickering. "What?" he defended.

"You're more outrageous than Lockhart," Harry said, punching him on the arm as he walked past him.  "We're doing robes next, right Mrs. Weasley?"

"Oh, yes, dear.  Alexander, if you want, you can come with us."


"Fine," he relented.  "I'll pick up your owl food and paper."

"I've got a ream at home but I need some ink.  May I have purple?"  Snape shuddered.  "Or something equally distracting?" he suggested with a mild grin at the poor man.  "I promise I won't make another spectacle, just let people admire my natural charm, wit, and body."  Snape walked off, handing him most of the bag of gold.  "Thanks muchly.  Get something so I can draw again this year," he reminded him. "And some of those pencils too!  I sharpened mine to death!"  His father snorted but that was all.  He shrugged and grinned at Harry.  "Sorry about that.  He should have known better.  Clothes?  Madam Malkin's?"  Ron nodded, walking out with him, letting Harry and Hermione walk behind him and Ginny and the rest of them follow.  "Harry, the house elves think I'm up to bad boy mischief if they don't watch me and make me eat.  What *did* you tell them?"

"I only pointed out that you were still just twelve and that you had a running, hexing battle in the halls last year," Harry said with a grin.  "Why?"

"Mate, I got *poked* by my house elf," he said dryly, holding the door open for Ron.  He smiled at the women waiting in there.  "Madam Malkin?"  She looked at him, then nodded and came over to fit him herself.

"How do you do that?" Ron hissed in his ear once they were up on the stools.

"Because I know this one won't harm me.  She swore a vow of honor in front of Grams not to harm me," he said calmly.  Ron nodded, accepting that.  He looked at himself in the mirror, frowning. "I really hate the uniform."

"Most of the children do," Madam Malkin said lightly, smiling at him.  "It'll be fine, Alexander.  How were your grades last year?"

"Decent enough," he admitted.  "Father wishes I had higher marks but I still have that thing against studying.  I did well on the practical things."  He shrugged a bit, then winced.  "That's very tight."

"Yes, well, I was asked to make yours a bit tighter," she admitted.  "It was thought that you might hex someone."

Alex snorted. "Fix it, dear, please," he said calmly.  "I'm assuming this comes from the same person who tried to get me sorted into Hufflepuff?"  She raised an eyebrow.  "The Headmaster.  He thought it might be *good* for me," he said, his voice dripping ice.

She snorted.  "Alexander, you'd have too many problems anywhere other than Slytherin or Gryffindor, dear."  He nodded at that.  "I see from your tie you made a Gryff?"

"The hat said if I went with my friends I'd end up too dark, darker than Her."  She shivered and nodded, leaving it at that.  "Fortunately she decided to play games with her will and made Harry there my guardian."

"Is that why we heard you were made a legal adult?" she asked, looking at Harry, who blushed and nodded.  "Well!  That was most unkind!  You're much too young!"

"We'll deal, ma'am," Alex reminded her.  "After all, there's not much that can take me."  She smiled at him.  "Really.  Unfortunately I ended up knocking Greg's father down some.  He tried to grab me."  He grimaced. "I'll have to write a letter of apology later."

"You should, dear," Mrs. Weasley agreed.  "It was really unkind."

"I don't take well to being grabbed."

"With his past, it's reasonable," Harry said quietly.  Mrs. Weasley looked at him so he nodded.  "Really.  We have to remove his wand whenever we try to wake him.  He's not a morning person."

Ron nudged Alex's arm.  "What is with you and Madam Sprout?"

"No one can be that nice," he said dryly, staring at his friend.  "No one has that sort of sugar-sweetened nature without having a hidden depth to it.  Most people use personas like that to hide a darker personality underneath it.  I'm waiting for her innate dark nature to come out to challenge mine and looking out for myself against another wench of darkness."

"She's a sweetie, dear," Madam Malkin assured him, smiling at him as she fixed one of his cuffs.  "Did you want them rolled or folded under?"

"Folded under.  I hate the cuffed look," he admitted, smiling down at her.  "I still say she is.  She's much too nice. No matter what anyone says.  No one is that nice or that sweet without a reason."

"Some girls are like that," Ginny told him, smiling at him. "I'm fairly nice."

"Don't listen to her," Ron offered, grinning at him. "She's a horrible terror on the face of the family.  Steals all sorts of things, like my books."

Alex snorted, shaking his head.  "Maybe it's where I don't trust girls, but I feel the same about men who come off that sweet and innocent and nice.  Speaking of, is what I saw correct?  Are we getting that moron Lockhart as our defense teacher?"  Ron groaned and nodded.

"He's a perfectly good wizard," Mrs. Weasley told him.

He looked at her, then burst out giggling.  "I know more Defense than he does!" he told her.  "Dear Gods, woman!  Those who do know don't have to take out full page ads with their pictures so you know what they've done!"  She looked stunned.  "Really!"

"If you say so, but I still say he's a perfectly good teacher," Mrs. Weasley shot back.  She looked over as Percy drug the twins in.  "Thank you, dear.  Where did you find them this time?"

"Ingredients."  He looked at the young men on the stools, shuddering a bit.  "Alexander, I do hope you'll behave this year?"

"Sure, Percy.  I won't hex you all year.  Then again, I didn't hex you last year," he said thoughtfully, looking at Ron.  "Did I?"

"No," he said, shrugging a bit and wincing.  "I have no idea what he's going on about."

"He's a bloody terror!" Percy complained to his little brother.

"We enjoy..."

"Him immensely," the twins noted dryly.

Alex beamed.  "Thanks, guys.  Did Harry give you that scroll?"

"No, not yet," Harry admitted, smirking a bit.  "It's still in my trunk."

"Hmph.  Hiding my brilliance from the outside world, Harry?" Alex taunted.

"Only from some people," Harry retorted, smirking a bit.  The door opened and Draco walked in with Professor Snape.  "Are you repossessing Alexander?" he asked politely.

"Not yet," he said coolly.  "I believe he said he wanted to talk to Mr.  Malfoy?"

"Yes, but I said I'd corner him on the train as well," Alex called, looking over his shoulder.  He looked down at himself, then at the fitter, who nodded, letting him go.  He walked over and grabbed Draco by the arm, walking him out and to the gap between buildings.  "Listen, Draco.  I don't care if you're your daddy's boy.  I loathe your father.  It will come down to a duel and a hex between us.  Probably unforgivables."  Draco shuddered.  "So, let me state this here and now.  You are you, and unless I have one of those days like when they tried to drug me, I don't see a problem between us.  If you follow him, then we've got a problem.  If you try me, we've got a minor problem and it'll make my father proud to prove I can plan something sometime in my life."  Draco nodded at that, still looking cold.  "I could care less about Auntie Narcissa or you.  All I want is your father.  So, keep up and keep out of the way when that happens if possible.  All right?  Can we agree on that?"

Draco looked at him.  "I am my father's son.  Certain things are expected of me."

"Or what?  He'll disown you?  Auntie Narcissa can't have more kids.  You're the last of the family, Draco.  If he does that, his whole lineage, that thing he holds up as exemplary and special, dies."  Draco looked stunned at that.  "I'll even let you help me.  You plan so much better than I do."  He stepped closer, getting in his face.  "I don't care about you, Draco.  You're sometimes my friend.  You're sometimes my annoyance and boil on the bum."  Draco snorted and shook his head.  Alex tipped his face back up to look into his eyes, the storm color fading back toward blue today.  "We were friends.  All you did was prank me and I still reserve the right to get you back.  That's why I've stayed out of your thing with my guardian and Ron.  I like them.  They try to understand me the same way Greg and Vinnie did."  Draco sighed and nodded.  "Harry and I have a clear understanding of each other, Draco.  I'd ask you not to mess that up for me, but that might seem like begging and we all know that begging isn't done by me."

Draco licked his lips.  "I'll help you get him in a few years, when we're both older and have more experience," he said quietly. "I don't want to be in his shadow.  I'm so much more than he thinks."

"I know you are, mate."  Alex grinned and kissed him on the cheek.

"Eww!  Bloody ponce!" he complained, wiping it off.

"What?  Your mother told me to do that," he said with a smirk.  "What do you say?  We all right after I get you back for that haircut?"

"That depends on what you do to me," he complained, grimacing a bit as he continued to wipe his cheek off.

Alex gave him the most evil smirk he had, making the other boy shudder in horror.  "What would make your father howl at the moon the most, Draco, love?"

"Dating Potter."

"Besides that."

"Oooooh," he said, catching on, shuddering a bit.  "Please don't.  I will beg for you not to start that rumor, Alexander.  Please?  I like girls too much to have them giggle at me.  I'd have to hurt the whole lot."  He moved closer.  They used to be the best friends and able to curl up next to each other for afternoon naps, but that was going a bit too far. His reputation would be ruined if his friend spread that rumor around.

"Ehh.  At least Grams didn't ever get around to finishing the paperwork to have me bound to Pansy," he admitted dryly.

Draco gave him the most horrified look.  "I'm so sorry!" he whimpered.  "That's the worst torture she could do!"  He hugged him.  "I'm sorry, Alex.  I'll tell my mum to discourage Pansy's mum in case she's got any remaining ideas about that.  Pansy said she didn't need me because she had better waiting on her.  I'm so sorry, mate."  He pulled back, looking at him.  "We're still friends, just stay out of Potter's and my battles.  Besides, he's making you odd, Alex."  Alex scowled.  "I'm not allowed?"

"Fine.  You're allowed."  Draco relaxed and grinned.  "No more, Draco.  Harry's my guardian and I went to Gryff because otherwise I'd be darker than Grams.  Pansy said all I needed was a few months of wanting to study and I'd be the next Dark Lord."  Draco's mouth hung open.  "I don't want that.  You definitely don't want that or else you'd be overshadowed again."  Draco swallowed and nodded.  "So let's just leave it as we're friends, and they're my friends.  All right?"  Draco nodded, accepting that.  So Alex grinned.  "I won't give him anything truly evil against you.  I haven't yet but still, I won't if you'll help me find a boy of my own in a few years."

"Sure, Alex, I'll take applications," he offered dryly, smirking a bit.  "How are you carrying on the fine Snape name?"

Alex shrugged.  "Dad knows I'm gay.  He's never said anything about it.  Then again, who would care if I carried on the family name beyond Dad?  He said last year he didn't plan on having kids."  He walked Draco back inside, letting Madam Malkin fuss over him some more.  "Harry?"  He looked over from where he was being fitted.  "In the interest of harmony between my two groups of friends, I can't give you anything truly horrible to use against Draco."  Both twins moaned.  "I'm staying out of your battles with him.  I'll help you with stuff, but nothing truly horrendous and evil."

"So mildly annoying and naughty is fine?" Ron called.

Alex beamed and nodded. "Sure."  The twins both smirked at him so he shrugged.  "I like you two. You're good ways of wearing out my aggression problem until I can find a bloke of my own."  Madam Malkin looked up at him, giving him an odd look.  "It's not like I like girls after Her and what she did to me!" he complained.  "I'll never touch one willingly."

"That's fine, dear.  When you're ready to start courting a nice wizard, come back in and I'll make sure your robes are splendid and fit you properly to make someone drool," she promised, smiling and finishing him up.  "There you go, Alex. Anything for the off-hours?"

"Oh, please yes," he moaned.  "All my pants are too tight."  She smiled and went to get him some jeans and things, bringing them back so he could change into them and get fitted.  He came out and found his father and Draco talking.  "He could use a better role model," he said as he walked past his father.  "I'm not jealous or anything."

Snape looked at his son, then at Draco.  "What was said?"

"That he's staying out of it, that he won't harm me unless he's forced back on that medicine or something like it, and that I'm safe if I'm not like him.  Oh, and I promised to help him find a good wizard to date some year soon, when he's ready."

Snape sighed and nodded.  "Fine. I can only hope he stays out of your battles with Mr. Potter and his friends."

"Alex almost always keeps his word," Draco told him.  "Unless there's a good reason."

"Yes, well, I'd rather not give him any sort of reason."  Draco gave him a smug smirk.  "Fine.  Try to behave, Draco."

"I do try now and then.  Should I calm Greg down later?"

"Have Greg come over tomorrow," Alex called as a shirt was put on him and fitted.

"Fine," Draco agreed calmly.   "Should he bring cards?"

"No, I've got some and poker chips," Alex said, shooting him a wicked grin. "I'm teaching Harry how to play this year."

"Poker?" Ron asked.

"Bid whist," Alex said, looking at him.  "What's poker?  I thought it was the name of the chips."

"We'll show you this year," the twins called in unison.

"Okay.  It's got to be better than writing papers."  His father coughed.  "I said I'd try, not that I'm perfect or going to become like Granger."  Hermione gave him a long stare.  "I'm not!  I can't stand studying."

"Fine.  Should I not plan on you looking at my notes when you're confused?"

"I only get confused in Creatures and Herbology, ducks.  Oh, we'll have to pick electives this year," he said flatly.  He shuddered.  "Can I skip that?"

"No," Snape ordered.  "You could pick what you know and understand."

"I can keep going in Astronomy and have extra Charms?" he suggested.

"Runes, Alex.  Arithmancy?" he sighed.  His son was very trying at times.

"Never and no way in hell," he said firmly.  "I've had more than enough of those subjects, thank you."  He and his father locked eyes.  His father scowled and he relented some.  "Divination?  It's supposed to be easy."

"You'd loathe the teacher," Snape said firmly.  He didn't want to even imagine the rants that would come from that class.

"We met, that's why she came crying to you last year," he reminded him. Snape shuddered and he grinned.  "What did she see for me?"

"Pansy's prediction."

"At least if I ran the world it'd be a better place," Alex said calmly, staring him down.

"We'll talk about this closer to the time to sign up," Snape told him.

"Fine."  He got released and paid for his stuff, then took the package from Madam Malkin and the change.  He walked over to his father.  "Where's left?"

"You've mostly completed the list," Snape admitted. "You need a better trunk."

"And more comics, but for that I'm going to have to sneak out to muggle London," he offered with a smirk.  He walked off.  "Later, Harry and the rest of you."

"Later, Alex."

Ginny sighed. "He's so cute but he's obviously so damaged."

"His grandmother tortured him," Ron told her quietly.  "He's a nice guy who won't hurt you unless you try him.  He's the house's protector at the moment.  You have to leave him alone, Ginny.  He doesn't hang out with the girls."  She nodded, leaving it there.

"He's what?" Draco asked, walking up behind them.  "Since when?"

"Since McGonagall asked him to be," Harry said coolly.  "Butt out, Malfoy.  He may like you but that doesn't extend to the rest of us."

"Fine," Malfoy agreed dryly, smirking at him. "Not having fun as the extra special boy?"

"It's fine.  Most of the time I don't really worry about it."  He smirked a bit.  "Jealous?"

"Of you?  No," he sneered, pushing past Percy to take an empty stool to get fitted.

"Where's your father?" the fitter asked politely.

"At the Leaky getting a drink and an ice pack.  He unwisely took on Alex."  He smirked a bit.  "Alex kindly kicked his arse up the street."  She stared at him so he smirked back.

Mrs. Weasley looked at Percy and the twins.  "I want to hear more about this boy," she ordered.  They moved closer to explain things as privately as they could.


Alex looked up as he walked into defense the first day, holding in his sneer with pure self control.  The teacher smiled at him.  He sneered back and took his usual seat next to Ron, leaning closer.  "I'm going to have a problem in here," he decided.  "I'll try not to let it radiate."

Ron looked at him. "You're lucky my mum didn't come get you from the house and make you stay with us for the last few days," he hissed back.  The teacher disappeared into his office since more of the students were coming in.  He wanted to make a grand entrance and only the earliest students had already seen him.  He looked at him.  "Did you glance at the books?"

"Hell no," Alex snorted.  "You?"  Ron shook his head.  "Your mum still think he's brilliant and all that?"  Ron scowled and nodded, watching Hermione sit down and sigh in pleasure at her clear line of sight.  "Oh, make me gag," he complained, cracking Ron up.  Hermione glared at him and he smirked back.  "What? He's a poser!"

"He's not, he wouldn't be teaching if he was."

Alex held in his comments because the teacher was coming down his entryway in a moment of pure theatrics and overblown ego. He walked among them, handing out quizzes.  He looked at it, then at the teacher, then shook his head.  He pushed it aside, not even doing it. The teacher gave him a look and he calmly pulled his wand and hexed something in one of the nearby tanks, making his eyes go wide.  Alex let out a small evil smirk.  Lockhart wisely looked away.  Alex looked at Ron, who was snickering again.  "What?" he asked innocently.  "I'm being good."

"I doubt it," Harry muttered from his seat.  "Quit, Alex.  Behave or I'll ground you over the holidays.  You'll have to spend it in Herbology."

"Fine.  Mean bastard," he hissed back.

"Please do not speak," Lockhart said, staring him down.

"He's my guardian, I'm allowed to answer back meaningless threats from him."

"He's your guardian?" he asked, looking confused.

Alex smiled. "Sir, with all due respect, I believe you should talk to Professor McGonagall before you have us for a second class.  There's much that apparently was never shared that could become quite pertinent in here."

"Really?  Why?"

Harry looked at him, then at Alex.  Then back at the teacher.  "Because he's right. I am his guardian."  He went back to his quiz.  Even he had to give the teacher funny looks at some questions.  Why was it important that they knew his favorite color?


McGonagall caught Alex on his way into lunch, walking him off.  "Did you threaten him?" she asked quietly.

"No, I simply suggested it was prudent to ask you about some of us since he clearly wasn't filled in beforehand," he said dryly, smiling up at her.  She had earned his respect and she never really punished too unfairly. Just harshly when she had to.  "His supposed quiz asked what his favorite color was, Professor.  I don't play petty mind games and his theatrical tricks and taunts don't work on me.  For that matter, they're only working on the girls.  Even Granger, which is a bit disturbing when you think about it.  Apparently hormones can override brains."  McGonagall snickered and nodded, smiling at him.  "I'm sorry if I came off as overly dangerous.  I simply pushed the test aside and when silently questioned, appropriately froze one of the creatures he had on hand.  Is there *any* way I don't have to have him?"

"No, but he has requested that you be moved to the Slytherin sections," she offered.

"Then I'd have to rearrange my whole schedule.  Besides, do we really want me, Vinnie, and Greg together?  We used to play horrible pranks on the parents at any social gathering."  She looked stunned.  "I was still young."

"You are still young," she corrected, giving him a gentle squeeze around the shoulders.  "I'll talk with him, tell him a bit.  Just try to relax.  He won't harm you."

"He can't harm me, he's stupid, moronic, and harmless!  I doubt he could hex any of us, even Longbottom!" he complained.  "I'd teach Defense better."

"Yes, but then you'd have to study," she reminded him.

He looked at her.  "I'll study if you let me teach."

She smiled at him.  "We'll see about your last year, Alex.  If there's not one suitable then, I wouldn't mind to put you forward."  She kissed him on the cheek, smiling when he wiped it off, only making a slightly gross face.  "Just try to tone it down in there.  Professor Flitwick said you were wonderful in his class."

"Fine.  I'll make due.  Did you like the purple ink?"

"I prefer it to the pink or the green or even the mauve," she offered, smiling at him.  "Are you planning on drawing again this year?"

"It's either that or I'm going to have to find something to take my mind off things.  Think I could try for animagus?"

"I think you'd be very good at it," she assured him, pointing at the door to the Great Hall. "Go eat.  We'll discuss that later this weekend.  He wanted to punish you but I told him it was futile and would make you show off more."  She looked at him.  "Alex, did you want me to tell him everything?"

"No, just let on that I'm the evilest bastard in this school and I could easily outdo him any day," he offered with a grin.  "You can also mention I dress better."  She laughed and he left on that note, heading in to eat.  He sat down next to Harry.  "He wanted me moved to the Slytherin class for both sections.  I promised to go back to drawing in there."  Harry snickered.  "She liked the purple ink."

"I like the purple ink," Ron assured him, grinning at him.  "You do dress better."

"I do," Alex agreed happily. He watched as McGonagall came in and walked up there to pull Lockhart aside with Snape.  He got a few funny looks from the group but Lockhart looked shaken when they were done.  Apparently the point had been gotten across.

"Mr. Birmingham," Snape hissed.  "Come here please."

"Sure."  He walked up there, smiling at him.  "What?" he asked quietly.  Snape frowned at him.  "Sorry."

"Fine.  Try to behave.  It does look bad on the rest of us.  Even if he is the biggest dolt and incompetent on this island and possibly in this hemisphere, you cannot openly act against him."

He leaned closer.  "I need something to keep my mind occupied.  Would you mind if I turned furry?"

Snape raised an eyebrow, then shook his head.  "That's a serious undertaking, I can see you doing that research."  Alex shuddered. "There is a bit of reading involved."


He gave his son a look, telling him that he'd have to study this time, no matter what he liked.  "Should you undertake it, I will want to know the outcome," he said quietly.  Alex nodded.  "The rest would be up to you."

"Agreed," he said happily.  "I'm going to start drawing again.  By the time I graduate, I should nearly be a Master."  Snape smirked a bit at that.  "I should.  Can you get me an advanced Charms book?  I went through the seventh year one last year."

"You may ask Professor Flitwick to help you choose one," he told him.  Alex nodded, heading down there.

Professor Flitwick smiled at the young man.  "You did very well today as a helper, Alexander.  I'm quite pleased."

"Thank you.  I'm also bored.  I went through the seventh year book last year.  Do you have one I might borrow?"

"I'd like to test you on those first," he noted.  "We'll go over what you've missed first."  Alex nodded, smiling at him.  "Good boy.  Now go eat. Try to behave."  He glanced at Lockhart, then at the boy again.  "You can come to me for extra lessons as long as you behave in your other classes."

"Yes, sir," he sighed, heading back to his seat. He stopped beside Percy.  "Can I bum your Charms books for the last two years?"  Percy looked startled.  "I needed to go back over them again, just in case.  We're trying to see what I can and can't do and what I still need to learn out of the standard textbooks."

"Fine, as long as you try to do some homework.  Remember, your grades are a reflection on your house," he said primly.

Alex grinned. "Percy, a few years ago I took a NEWT practice test and passed it in Charms," he said quietly.  "The enforced learning I did made sure of it.  I'm bored.  That's going to cause more problems than my roving anger issues."  He smiled sweetly.  "I've already promised to try to study now and then.  I can't do more than that."

"Fine," Percy agreed.  "I'll let you borrow the ones I have and I'll try to get the twins' copy  as well."

Alex looked at them.  "Oy, boys.  I need Charms books."

"Why?  Going to try for a bloke now?" one teased, grinning at him.

"No, I'm dreadfully bored."  Everyone around them stared at him so he beamed.  "I'm good in Charms."

"We'll give you what we have later," the other one promised.  Alex patted them on the back and went to his seat.  He looked at Percy, who nodded he would help.  The family and the house last year had decided that trying to keep Alex from being bored or angry was great fun.  Many of them had helped.  They had even tried to figure out why he couldn't fly.  It hadn't helped, but they had tried.


Alex walked into the Headmaster's office, pasting an interested look on his face.  "Yes, Headmaster?  You summoned me?"

"I wanted to know what you took from Lucius," he said calmly, hands clenched on the desk.

"Some sort of dark magic book," he admitted. "I didn't look in it but I could smell the dark magic flowing off it.  It stunk to high hell really."  He sat down, considering it.  "I gave it to Professor Snape."

"I know.  He gave it to me for safe keeping."  He pulled it out of his desk.  "This one?"

Alex sniffed, then shook his head, pointing at a bookcase.  "No, the one I gave him is over there.  The book smells like Gram's journal."  Dumbledore raised an eyebrow.  "I was exposed to a great deal of dark magic, headmaster," he reminded him pleasantly.  "I'm quite good at not only defeating it but also practicing it.  Which I don't usually but I have found a use for some things.  Did you know too many 'enervates' can mess up fertility?"  He shook his head slowly.  "It can.  Grams found that out."  He grimaced a bit.  "Fortunately not on me.  Anyway, that smells like her older journals."

"Fine.  It appears to be a blank journal of some sort."

Alex got up and got it, sitting down with it.  He suddenly picked up a pen and wrote in it, then handed it over as an answer appeared.  "Someone higher up needs to hear about this.  It needs to be destroyed, not hidden."

Dumbledore looked at the journal, the answer to the question of 'who did you belong to' making him shiver.  "I believe you're right."  He called the Ministry, getting an auror who smiled and patted Alex on the head.  "He found someone trying to give this to Ginny Weasley," he said, passing it over, open to the page.  "He asked it who it belonged to."

The auror looked at it, then blanched.  "Bloody hell," she muttered, staring at Alex.  "How did you figure it out?"

"I smelled it.  It smells like Gram's older journals."

"Can we get them?  It could answer some questions some people had."

"Sure.  I don't want 'em," he pointed out with a grin. "Professor Snape helped me box them up.  Then he put them somewhere safely away from all his old friends."  She shivered again but nodded.  "The rest of the dark arts type stuff is in the family's new vault in Gringotts."

"Understood.  It's a safe place for it, Alexander.  Thank you."  The boy grinned.  "Now, don't be flirting," she teased.

"Dear, I loathe women," he said, still grinning.  "I'm as gay as some chap sucking out a balloon in the midday sun.  Unless you can change equipment, you're not my type."

She giggled and hugged him, letting go fairly quickly.  "Fine.  I understand.  If I were you, I'd hate women too, Alexander."  She patted him again.  "Good find. Who was doing it?"

He frowned a bit.  Then he sighed.  "If I tell you I can't torture him later."  She stared him down.  "He's the last on my shit list."

"Oh.  The one who got your mum?" she asked gently.  He nodded.  "Malfoy?"

"I'd rather not say.  I'll leave that to Professor Snape to confirm or deny that rumor. Otherwise I won't get to torture him for what his thoughtful actions put me through."

She nodded. "I understand.  May I talk with Professor Snape, headmaster?"  He nodded.  "Thank you.  Alexander, lead me down there?  I'm sure he understands."

"He does.  Thank you for understanding."

"Eehh, we've all got people we'd rather torture than to see publically executed."  She walked him down to the Potions classroom, nodding the teacher outside.  She held up the journal, watching as he faintly shuddered.  "He said he won't confirm or deny who was slipping this to Ginny Weasley," she said quietly. "He referred me to you."

"I know why he did."

"So do I."  She looked at him.  "What do you think his chances are?"

He pulled her away from the doorway.  "Considering he kicked his arse in the alley?" he asked quietly.  She giggled and he nodded.  "He and Draco have an uneasy peace and he's promised not to touch Draco if he can help it."  She nodded, smiling at that.  He looked inside the classroom, catching Goyle's eye and nodding at Draco.  Draco got nudged and motioned out.  He closed the door once they were together.  "She was called about a journal, Mr. Malfoy.  Alexander refused to tell her who gave it to Miss Weasley."  Draco grimaced and nodded, looking down.  "It is up to myself or you to tell her who it was."

"We pretty muchly know," the auror offered, tipping Draco's face up.  "He's under watch, Mr. Malfoy.  We know he's one of them."

"What happens if he's caught?" Draco asked quietly, staring at her.  "We'll lose everything."

She sighed then shrugged. "Possibly.  I can't say one way or another.  I don't have the Sight."  He nodded, accepting that.  "I can say that I'd be bringing him in for questioning later since a shopkeeper at the store told us who was there when Alex found the book and announced it held dark magic.  We were waiting on someone here to call us to get it."  Draco's face tightened and he nodded again.  "It is up to one of you to confirm or deny it since Alexander wouldn't.  Either of you or Miss Weasley could.  It's possible we might get a magical trace off it but your father's known to wear gloves."   Draco groaned, rubbing his forehead.  "I don't want to put pressure on you, Mr. Malfoy," she said, tipping his chin up.  "I really don't.  Alexander didn't, that's why he wouldn't tell me either.  He said you and he were at least at peace."  He nodded, swallowing.  "Let me know by this weekend, all right?  It's a minor bit of evidence but it could be important."  She looked at the professor.  "If one of you doesn't confirm it then I may have to ask Miss Weasley or her mother since she was reportedly there."

Snape nodded.  "Thank you for being so honest."

"Not a problem," she assured him, shaking their hands.  "Thank you for helping Alexander.  He could be one of the best aurors some day."

"He hates to study," Draco told her.  "His Grams used to Imperio him to make him learn."

She nodded.  "I heard.  It's a pity.  He's a smart boy."  She patted Draco's cheek.  "Think about it, Mr. Malfoy.  We can't demand but some people will ask why he didn't turn whoever it was in."  She walked off, leaving them to talk.

"Come to my office tonight," Snape said quietly.  "He was trying to spare you."

"I know.  I'm feeling trapped," he admitted, looking at his head of house.  "I don't know what to do."

"We'll call your mother tonight, Draco.  Go back to your potion."  Draco nodded, going back to his seat and pretending to go back to work.  Mentally he was cursing his son for saying anything, and the Headmaster for calling them.  He stopped his son later, during a long break between classes.  "Why were they called?" he asked quietly.

"Because I wrote in the journal and it answered.  I asked who it belonged to.  It said Tom Marvello Riddle," he replied in a near whisper.  Snape shuddered and he nodded.  "That's why I told Dumbledore to call them.  I'm all for protecting Draco and Aunty Narcissa. That's why I refused to say who gave it to her and referred her to you, Professor.  I'm sorry if I caused him harm."

"No.  It is a situation that was bound to come up."  He looked at the boy.  "Why else didn't you tell?"

"If I told, I wouldn't get to torture him later.  That's why I told her I wouldn't."  He grinned.  "She said she understood.  She has people she'd rather beat than execute too."

"We all do," Snape said, watching Harry Potter walk down the hall.  "If something should happen, I wish to know," he ordered.  "It's imperative," he said, looking down at him.

Alex nodded.  "I will.  I'm not a hero and I don't want to be one."  He hurried off, the first bell had already rung.  He walked into defense, sitting down in his usual spot.  He leaned closer to Ron.  "Dumbledore sent off that journal today," he whispered.  "People are asking questions."

"I'll warn her," he agreed, looking at him.  "Are you all right?"

Alex nodded, looking over at Draco, who was scowling.  "Yeah, we'll be fine.  Give me ten to talk to him."

"Sure."  They both straightened up as the teacher walked in, smiling and beaming at them all, arms open wide to welcome them.  He caught sight of their group and frowned.  "Mr. Birmingham, I've been told you know a bit about this subject.  I'm going to put you with a few of the Slytherins if you don't mind.  They've already done this lesson and that way you can draw or whatever."  Alex nodded, getting up and moving over there.  He smiled at that simple solution.  "Thank you, young man."

"This way I get to watch the forest for invaders," he noted dryly, sitting down at Draco's table, giving him a sideways look and a small shrug.  "Sorry.  Do I smell bad?"

Draco snorted and shook his head.  "Not in the least.  Wearing the cologne I got you last year?"  Alex grinned and nodded.  "At least it's a gift that's in use then," he said pragmatically.  He watched as the teacher got on with the lesson, glancing at him.  "Why?" he asked quietly.

"Because I don't want to apply pressure," he whispered back.  He shifted closer, getting out some paper and a few pens and inks.  Draco watched as a drawing was started, the words formed in it.  He relaxed.  Alex was trying to keep his word and the owner of the journal made him frown.  He knew that name from somewhere.  Alex was covering it up when the teacher announced he was opening the pixie cage.

Alex suddenly looked up and pulled his wand.  "Impedimentia!" he called as the first one came out, hexing the whole cage.

"Mr. Birmingham," he complained. "You are interrupting the lesson."

"Yes, sir, but I heard one sneeze and you know they carry some diseases, don't you?"

"I hadn't.  How did you know this?"

"It's common knowledge, sir," Draco put in, looking a bit smug.  "A sneezing pixie can give a disease that's worse than the flu and a cold put together.  Half the class could be infected by morning from just a single bite."  Well, this lie certainly livened up the class. He could follow Alex's feet on this one.

"And they do so love to bite," Alex finished drolly.  "Therefore I was acting in the public good.  We can always separate out two or three if they're not sneezing yet."

Lockhart nodded, letting out ten of the cageful.  Then Alex swished and the Cornish Pixies came back to life.  They flew around, trying to get everyone.  Lockhart ran off when they tried to gang up on him, then went back to tormenting the students.

"Impedimentia," Granger yelled, freezing most of them.  Harry had to get two or three of them himself.  She looked at Alex.  "I read nothing about sneezing pixies."

"Really? I thought it was fairly well known," he offered with a grin.  "They really should have a bigger cage.  Draco, do you know the expanding charm?  I can't get it off the tip of my tongue."

Draco waved his wand.  "You owe me, Birmingham."

Alex blew a kiss.  "I'll help you pick out an outfit later, dear."  The others laughed and Pansy looked at him. "You knew I was gay.  It should go to help the prettiest of you lot."

Draco looked at him, frowning a bit.  "You're a sick, sad bastard, Alex.  I'm not like you.  I don't like you that way.  I also have impeccable taste in my attire."

Alex pointed his wand at the cage.  "Engorgio."  It enlarged until he moved his wand.  "There you go. Stuff 'em back inside while we have a lover's spat."  He grinned at Draco.  "You wound me, baby.  I thought we were forever."

"This is payback for shaving you bald," he complained.

Alex just smirked.  "Am I like that?"

"Yes," the Slytherins who knew him said.  A few even nodded.

Alex let out a wicked chuckle.  "Awww, that's so sweet!" he cooed.

"Alex, I'm going to barf," Ron complained. "Be gay later and help someone with their hair.  For now, come help with the stupid pixies."

Alex got up and came over to help put the pixies back, even giving them some food he found in the corner.  Then he looked at everyone and the clock on the wall.  "This isn't a double period, right?"  They all shook their heads.  "Wow.  There's nearly thirty minutes left."  He looked around again.  "All right, who actually read anything about Pixies?"  No one raised their hands. "Pity."  He found an older textbook and broke it open, then went to get some of his scratch paper.  He copied the pertinent parts onto it then put the book back and handed the paper to Granger.  "Copy that, hand it out to everyone."  She gave him an odd look. "It's not like I know how.  I don't deal in that area, remember?"

"Yeah, he'd be too dark if he did," Pansy joked.

Draco reached forward and slapped her across the back of the head.  "He's not that way.  He'll never be an evil bastard.  We all know who'd get it first if he took over the world."  They all nodded and settled down.  He took his copy delicately between two fingers.  "Thank you, Miss Granger.  Delightful of you, really."

She smirked.  "At least you're getting something out of the lesson.  Alex, your brown ink runs terribly."

"I was shading, Granger.  It's an art technique."  He sat down again, getting back to his artwork.

Draco looked over.  "Your perspective is off.  If the sun's over here, the shadows are on the opposite side," he noted patiently.

"We need an art class here," Alex complained, balling up that one and starting on a new one.  McGonagall stuck her head in.  "They're already safely up, Professor," he noted, smirking just a bit.  "We're talking about art in this corner.  May we have the rest of this period free?"

"Everyone but you," she said dryly.  He shrugged and finished his latest sketch while everyone went to play in the sun.  She walked over.  "What did you do to him?"

"I kept him from torturing the rest of the students, like a good boy," he said, grinning at her.  "He was going to open the cage without his wand out."  She frowned. "Sorry, but he was.  Besides, didn't you know pixies carry diseases?"

She pinched him on the cheek.  "You're a very bad boy, Alexander.  You did save the students some harm however.  That was very nice of you."

"I'd have to bloody well clean up after them if they all got loose," he complained. "Not many of us knew a thing about them.  Besides, we had to enlarge the cage.  The cage was an owl cage.  A small owl cage."  She looked at the cage, then back at him, frowning a bit.  "That's cruel."

"It is," she agreed. "I'll have a word with him about his caging and restraints.  Very nice work.  Five points to you for fixing the problem before it got out of hand."  She pinched his cheek again.  "Now, go play in the sunshine."

"I hate daylight," he complained, but he did pack up and went to go lurk in the courtyard's shadows.

Greg cornered him and frowned at him.  "My dad said he didn't realize it was you or he wouldn't have grabbed you, Alex.  He said he's sorry."

"Not an issue, Greg.  That's why I wrote the letter."  Greg smiled at him.  "Well, at least today wasn't totally boring.  Our other section of defense is with the Ravenclaws.  A lot of very smart girls and Granger with their brains slowly being rotted away by gold lamme."

Greg snickered, shaking his head.  "You're so bad," he offered with a grin.  "I wish you were with us."

"Yeah, but I didn't want the dark, Greg.  We all know I don't want it."  He patted him on the arm.  "I tell ya what.  You and Draco can help me find a nice bloke some day soon, all right?"  Greg burst out laughing, covering his mouth because he was giggling.  Alex winked and strolled off, going to bug Ron, who was mocking Lochart, his favorite activity.

"Ron, enough!  He's a very good teacher," Hermione complained.

"If he had a clue, he'd have pulled his wand before he started to open the cage and cast a slowing charm on them so they wouldn't have run rampant.  Think about what would've happened if they had all come out, Granger."  She looked stunned.  Alex grinned at her.  "Truth.  I didn't want to clean up that mess in the least."

"Thanks for helping them," Ron said, grinning at him.  "Seen Neville?"

"He probably headed for the greenhouses," he suggested.  He beamed at them.  "I'm doing my own private studying again this year."

"Dark hexes?" Granger asked dryly.

He snorted.  "Sorry, dear, already been through numerous books on that.  No, animagus."  Everyone stared at him and he smirked a bit. "I said I was bored."

Harry nodded.  "If you manage it, we'll copy off you and do our own trials."

Alex nodded.  "Sure, Harry."  He put an arm around Ron's shoulders. "Ron, think you could help Greg and Draco find me a bloke some year soon?  That way I have someone to draw as well?  Otherwise I'll have to practice on other people and they might think I'm drawing them to do an influence charm."

Ron looked at him.  "Sure, Alex.  If it comes up in polite conversation, I'll offer them my help to find you a nice boyfriend."  Alex beamed.  "Just as long as you never share a single detail with me."

Alex snickered and nodded.  "Not a problem.  Though I feel the same way about you guys and your future girls.  All right?"  They all nodded.  "Good deal then.  What's next?  I haven't memorized anything yet."

"Herbology," Granger said, looking at him.  "You're really gay?"  He nodded.  "I mean, it's not a function of the torture?"

He shook his head.  "Not totally.  I might have liked girls more if she hadn't tortured me but I've always found males more pleasing than females.  After all, girls are just so...odd."  He walked off, heading over to Herbology.  He knew he could use some work in here.  He found Neville checking on some plantings he had helped with a few days back.  "Did we trod them down like the poor yet?" he asked quietly.  Neville jumped and looked at him.

Madam Sprout came out, frowning at them.  "Who let you out early?"

"Lockhart managed to free some of his pixies and run away in fear," he told her. "McGonagall let us out early when he went to complain."

"Ah.  Fine. Alex."  She stepped closer.  "I'm really not mean," she said when he stepped back.

"You're female, that's part of the definition," he said firmly.  She sighed and nodded.  "Please.  Don't."

"Fine.  I won't try to soothe you at all.  Do you at least talk to Professor McGonagall?"

"All the time.  After all, I protect the house," he said dryly, smirking a bit.  She nodded, leaving it at that. "Can you help Neville?  I think he was looking at uses for bogroot last night and I don't have a clue about those things."

Madam Sprout smiled at Neville and patted him on the arm.  "Of course I can!  You're very good in here, Neville.  Come along, let's chat about that inside.  What were you reading?  That's in the fourth year book."  She led him off and Alex smiled at his good deed for the week.  Neville needed someone more understanding.  If she was as nice as everyone said, Neville would be fine.  If not, he'd know immediately and get to save the poor guy.  He turned and found Draco behind him smirking. "He's excellent in here and I ask him what I'm doing."  He smiled.  "Getting dirty early today?"

"Hell no," Draco snorted.  He smirked a bit more evilly.  "You thought I couldn't handle it alone?"

"Well, I think you'd find someone who would keep my mind occupied, but Greg would insist that they'd be someone who'd try to play with me now and then.  Ron would make sure they knew I was odd and why, but he'd do it more gently and reinforce the desire for them to tease and play with me so I don't have to pick a new target this year."

Draco burst out laughing.  "Fine, git, I'll find you a playmate."  He rolled his eyes.  "This year?"

"No, not necessary.  This year and probably next I'll use Harry and Ron as my playmates when I can't pick on you two and Vinnie."  Greg smiled at that.  "Fourth year, I'll need one. That's when we usually get balls and things."

"Fine," Draco said, rolling his eyes.  "You really are terrible."

"I'm bored."

Draco raised an eyebrow.  "How can you be bored? I was up until three this morning writing a paper."

"We had a paper due?"

Draco groaned and shook his head.  "Yes, moron, we had a paper due in Potions."

"Oh."  Alex shrugged.  "I'm doing good to understand potions."

"Fine," he sneered. "Disappoint your father."

"No, he pretty well knows I suck in there," he noted dryly. "What was the paper on?"

"The uses of that potion we did last week when we all messed it up," Greg offered.

Alex thought back.  "Was that the vile green one?"  Draco nodded, looking impatient. "Well, the non-working one seemed to polish metal quite well.  The actual one I guess doesn't?"

"No.  Write it on the non-working ones, Alex.  Give him a chance to laugh," Draco ordered, walking inside the greenhouse shaking his head.

Alex went inside and got to work on that, then looked up when the teacher came over.  "Forgot I had a paper due later."

"In what class?"


"Ah.  What are you writing on?"

"Last week's mistake," he said grimly, finishing it up.  He reread it, then looked at Greg, handing it over.  Greg read it, bursting out laughing and taking the pen to correct a really bad grammar mistake.  "I thought that sounded okay."

"Putting it that way sounded like you could clean out bums, Alex."

"Sorry.  I guess it would."

"It was corrosive, but I suppose that's one way to fit a bloke back there," Draco said dryly from his reading.

"It stretches, love.  Didn't you ever notice that?"

"I don't tend to think about such things, Alex.  I'm not some poofy little gay boy."

"Fine.  Bastard.  Don't let me play with you then.  I'll have to pout because my favorite toy was taken away from me."  Draco looked over at him, making Alex smirk.

"This is too evil for me shaving you bald," he said firmly.

"But you used to like to let me play with you, Draco!" he whined.

Greg snickered, shaking his head and handing back the report before heading outside.  He stopped the other Slytherins from walking in.  "No, they're playing."

"I'm much too pretty to ever be a plaything.  I'll be someone's secret lover, but not yours.  I do not like boys."

"Does that mean you led me on?" Alex asked, looking really pitiful.

Draco snorted, shaking his head.  "I told you many times I'm straight, Alex."   Harry and Ron walked in.  He sneered at them.  "Leash your boy, Potter.  He's under the delusion I'm going to let him make me his toy."

"You'd make a very pretty toy," Alex offered.  "I'm very good to my toys.  I protect them and play with them and even hide them from bad people."

Draco looked at him.  "No, Alex.  I can protect myself.  We can mock spar and play like this, but no other way."  Alex pouted even more, adding in the dreaded puppy eyes.  Draco sighed.  "If I suddenly start to like boys, I'll let you know."  Alex beamed. "Until then, I'm firmly straight so play with Weasel there.  Maybe he'd like to be a pampered playmate.  It can only improve his circumstances and you'd probably take over feeding and clothing his family so they weren't such an embarrassment to the wizarding world."

"Ron and Harry said I play too rough," he said dryly.  Ron nodded at that, taking his usual spot.  Neville was in the corner snickering into the wall and the plants. Alex grinned at them.  Then back at Draco.  "Just now and then? Please?  Even in Defense if you want since we're both fully ahead in there."

"No," Draco said, shaking his head.  "My father will torture me if my grades slip."  He smirked a bit.  "Besides, it's an easy class if you've read his shite."

"Why would I want to pollute myself with that?  I'd almost rather read romance novels."

"Eww," Draco noted.

"Exactly."  They shared a smirk.  "Just let me play with you now and then?  I'll even try to draw you sometime soon."

"You need more practice before I'll let you attempt to draw me."

"Oooh!  Statues?" he offered with a grin.

"Fine," Draco agreed, shaking his head.  He liked Alex, he was always fun to be around.  "Now behave, it's classtime.  Goyle, you can let them in.  He's over it again."  The others were let in.

Neville came out of the corner and patted Alex on the back.  "We adore you, mate, but try for Dean.  He might like blokes."  He giggled and went back to his spot.

"I already asked.  He thinks he's straight."  Dean blushed.  "You said so."

"I did," he agreed, shaking his head.  "Later, Alex.   We'll all pounce you later."

Alex sighed and nodded. "Fine."  Madam Sprout looked at him, then smiled and put a plant in front of him.  "What's this?"

"It only works with females and those who like boys.  Therefore you'll get that side if you don't mind?  There's a dreadful lack of females in this group."

"Fine," he agreed, staring at the plant in case it decided to bite him or something.  Neville moved closer and whispered in his ear, getting a nod.  "Okay."  He checked the soil, finding the little teeth.  "I think it's hungry."

"We'll be showing you how to care for it today, Alexander."  She smiled at the class.  "Welcome back, children.  As I told him, we'll be learning how to care for these new plants today...."


Ron looked around before sitting in front of the twins, leaning forward to get closer to them.

"Too many onions with the liver," one said, pushing him away.

"I need advice."  They both looked at him so he leaned closer again.  "Alex really does like blokes," he said quietly.  They both nodded, giving him 'so what' looks.  "He wants me to help him find someone to play with.  How?"

The twins looked at each other, then shook their heads.  Sending him to Percy would be too mean and they tried to never be that mean on purpose.  At least to Ron.  "What makes you..."

"Think we have an idea how to start?" the other finished.

Ron snorted.  "At least you two know how to date."

"Point," they agreed in unison.  They looked at each other again.

"We'll find..."

"You the book."

Ron nodded.  "Thanks, guys.  I have no idea how to find him someone."  He got up and went back to his seat next to Harry and Hermione.  "Alex, you stupid plonker, get down here!" he yelled.

"Fine."  He came down the stairs, already grimacing.  "Why?"

"Your plant," he said, pointing at the plant they were all staring at.

Alex looked at it, then fed it more of the plant food they had been given earlier.  It sucked it up and grew a few more inches.  "Do you need water too?"  He went to get some then poured it in too.  The plant relaxed and quit gnashing its teeth.  "There you go.  All better?"  It growled but settled in for a nap.  He grinned at his good work.  "I'm doing okay with it, aren't I?"

Neville came over, looking at the plant.  "It's grown," he said in awe.  "How?"

"That plant food she gave me."  He held up the bottle.  Neville looked at it, then at him.  Then he squeaked and ran off. "What?" he called after him.  A few minutes later Madam Sprout walked in.  "Am I doing something really wrong? You gave me this bottle."

She looked at the bottle, then at the plant.  "Oh, no, dear, I gave you the wrong bottle.  That's Super Grow."  She took the plant carefully back.  "I'll go plant this.  Its going to be out of this pot soon and dangerous if it bites."

"I've fed it about seven times today," he offered, following her out to the greenhouse.  "Did I mess it up really badly?  I don't want to hurt something."

"No, you didn't. You just gave it a growth spurt."  She smiled and planted the pot in the corner of her office, watering it a bit more.  "So far, you've done a wonderful job, Alexander."  She smiled and patted him on the cheek.  "Check on it tomorrow before classes.  I'll have some new food made up for it."  He handed off the bottle then left.  She looked at the poor plant.  Then she went to floo Professor Snape.  They'd have to be careful to feed it but not give the Super Grow too much fuel for extra growth.  "I accidentally gave Alexander some Super Grow and he used it on my newest darling," she sighed.  "Seven times tonight."  He shifted, raising an eyebrow.  "It's grown nearly six times its original size, Severus. I need some new food made up.  Something that won't encourage further growth but will support what it already has."

"I'll make some," he agreed.  "When?"

"By tomorrow?"

"Fine."  He hung up and got to work on that project for her.  He mentally shook his head.  His son didn't get on well with plants.  It was clear now he'd have to accept whatever grade the boy got in Herbology.  As long as he tried.


Draco came in from his detention a few weeks later, shaking his head.  "Birmingham!" he yelled near the Transfiguration room.  He was either there or Charms tonight for his roving detentions for being such a dick in Potions last class - Snape hadn't wanted to see him ever again after he had turned the whole classroom bright fuschia when his botched potion exploded.  "Madam Sprout said she needs you right now!"  He came out of the classroom next to him, wand already in hand.  Draco slapped him.  "That stupid plant of yours tried to eat me."  He stomped off.

"Bloody hell, I tried to be good to it," he called after him.  "Sorry, Draco!"

"You owe me a new outfit.  This one has plant spit on it!"

"Fine.  Sorry!"  He looked at the teacher, who waved a hand.  So he headed out there.  He peeked inside, watching his plant smack its lips.  "Where's Madam Sprout?" he asked it.


"Fuck me," he complained.  He used his wand to check for lifeforms, finding hers inside the plant.  Then he sighed and looked at it.  "Sorry, dear.  I love you dearly but you can't eat the teacher."  He waved his wand.  "Scapulous."  The top of the plant came off, leaving the food chamber open.  He walked over there and helped her out, looking at her.  "Are you all right?"  She burst out crying.  "Here, let's get you upstairs.  I didn't kill it, just cut off the top part."  He walked her inside, past the Headmaster hurrying down.  "Um, my plant seems to like eating people," he called.  "We're going to the infirmary."  He walked her up there, patting and tutting the whole way.  The nurse hurried over.  "The plant I was taking care of became a people eater earlier," he said, shrugging a bit and wilting under her harsh stare.  "All I did was feed and water it!" he defended.  "It ate her and it tried to eat Draco Malfoy."

"I'll have him called up for an examination," she said, leading the poor dear away.  She also called Professor Snape.  He could easily kill a plant.  Alex gave him a sheepish look.  "Severus, your son's plant decided to eat Madam Sprout," she said, lips pressed together.

"All I did was water and feed it," he defended. "It tried to eat Draco too."

"He told me."  He sighed and looked at the boy.  "Lead me back to it, Alex.  We'll go kill it."

"Must we? I cut off the bloom!"

"Yes, we must."

"Take a cutting," Madam Sprout said weakly. He gave her an incredulous look.  "It was the Super Grow.  I mixed it myself, Severus.  I must have put too much charm into it."

"Fine."  He walked out, taking his son out to the greenhouse but letting him lead the way to the plant.  He found the headmaster standing there looking at the bloom as well.  Then he looked at his son.  "Well, you certainly managed to keep it alive and healthy," he decided.  "Five points to you for that."  Alex blushed and whimpered a bit, wilting more.  "I should take points off for allowing it to eat Mr. Malfoy and the teacher."  Alex gave him his most pitiful look, making his father turn away and stare at the plant.  "She wanted a cutting before we destroyed it."

The Headmaster looked at him, looking confused. "Who did?"

"Madam Sprout."


"I have no earthly idea," he said grimly.  "Shall we?  Alex, please take a cutting from the leaf."  Alex came forward and tried really hard not to mangle it.  He sighed.  "Longbottom!" he snapped, catching sight of him.  "Gather a cutting. This plant is dangerous."  He came over and helped Alex, taking him off to the side to work on planting both cuttings with him while they shot the roots of the plant.  "Where is this Super Grow she made?" he demanded.  Alex came over to get it, handing it over with a small wince. Snape tested it, then shook his head.  "It's fifty times more potent than it should be."  He looked at Longbottom, who was blushing.  "Did you help her brew this?"  He shook his head quickly.  "I doubt that.  Detention with me tomorrow night and ten points from Gryffindor for helping a teacher botch this so badly."  He walked out, robes swirling behind him.

Alex nudged Neville.  "He gave me five for not letting it die."

"Thanks," he offered weakly.  "I hate him."

"We survive, that's what's important," he offered gently.  Neville nodded at that.  "Are we done?"

"Mr. Birmingham," the headmaster said calmly.  "What did you do to this plant?"

"I fed and watered it, sir."

"That's all?  No extra charms?  Nothing like that?"

"I do have *some* sanctity for life," he sneered.  "Plants are innocent beings who mean no harm, all they're trying to do is survive.  I rate harming them on purpose like harming children."  The headmaster nodded, leaving them alone.  Alex glared at the doorway.  "Ooooh, you've just crossed a line you shouldn't have," he muttered.

"Alex, don't.  He's powerful," Neville said quietly.


Neville sighed.  "I'm sure he didn't mean it that way."

"The man sent the mental health people down to put me on medicine that blatantly made me lose control last time, Neville.  Even though they knew what it'd do to me and that last time I tortured someone under its influence."  The other boy went pale.  "He specifically asked to have me put on that medicine again.  He also tried to have me missorted.  He wanted me to become a Hufflepuff."  Neville whimpered at that.  "You tell me what he's doing."  He knew he was working himself up, but he didn't care!  How dare that man accuse him of that!

"Sorry.  Just don't get into trouble here in school," he begged. "It'll look really bad on the house if they take you away because you went after him."

Alex groaned, holding his head.  "I'm going to talk to my father.  I'll see you later."  He walked off, heading into the castle.  He found McGonagall and the headmaster in the entryway, pulling her away.  "May I finish mine with you tomorrow?"  She nodded, looking at him.  He glared back at the headmaster, then at her.  "He just accused me of harming the plant on purpose.  I find that like harming children.  I'm going to calm down with my father's guidance."  She nodded, patting him on the arm.  He walked that way, silently venting the whole way.  He noticed some paintings fled from him but that was fine.  He was too pissed to care.  He knew they wouldn't be permanently hurt but he didn't want to deal with this.  He found Lockhart down there.  "Do you mind? I need to discuss a grave matter with Professor Snape," he noted calmly.

"It is rude to interrupt."

"Yes, well, it's also rude to pretend to knowledge you don't have.  I need him more I believe.  Otherwise I'm going to hurt someone."  The teacher looked stunned.  "He's the only one keeping me calm and centered.  Now, if you wouldn't mind?  Your bothersome demands can be discussed at breakfast just as easily I dare say.  That would leave the girls in detention to go back to work instead of staring at you.  That way they're not punished more for being blinded by your coat."

"Enough," Snape warned. He stared the boy down.  "My office, Alexander."  The boy nodded, stomping that way. "We can restart the dueling club," he agreed.  "I'll leave the details to you to arrange."

Lockhart grimaced.  "Is he dangerous?"

"Only if you upset him," a third year Gryff cleaning cauldrons noted.  "He protects the rest of us."

"Work, do not speak."

"Fine.  Sorry, Professors."  She got back to work, putting another sparkling cauldron aside to be rinsed.

He stared the teacher down.  "Alexander has perfect control until someone unwisely threatens him or someone near to him.  What you saw was a venting of rage.  I will punish him for it."  Lockhart nodded and left.  He looked at his students.  "Finish up."  He headed into the office, closing the door.  "That was unwise."

"The Headmaster accused me of doing it to the plant on purpose!  That's like harming a child!  Plants are innocent beings who have nothing more than survival in mind and I certainly wouldn't want it eat a teacher!  I'm not that unsubtle!"  His father stared at him.  "Longbottom heard him say it.   He asked if I had done anything to the plant, then asked if I had done any extra charms or anything!  He's got to know he's pushing me!"

"I understand," he said calmly, sitting down.  "I'm sure he didn't mean it that way."

"Bullshit."  Alex started to pace.  "He probably thought I had something to do with that journal as well.  He tried to present a fake one at first, until I found it again.  He's always watching me. I might have a reputation and I might be a bit dark, but I'm not dangerous to the average person. Oh, didn't you know, he specifically asked them to put me on that specific medicine again," he spat.  He stared at his father.  "He's trying something."

"I'm sure he's trying to get you calmed down and no longer dangerous for anyone."

"Bullshit!" he complained.  "He's not. We both know he's not.  For that matter, I'm not sure he's not in league with the stupid dark lord.  How could he not known something was off about Quirrell if he's this supposedly powerful wizard for the light?"

Snape inclined his head.  "I understand your thoughts...."

"If Harry fucking Potter could figure out who it was and Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, then he should have.  After all, two of them hadn't heard of magic before starting here."  Snape nodded, letting him continue.  "That means he's not as pure as you thought, father.  I won't have him coming near me and accusing me of things. That is the fastest way to end up on the wrong side of my wand.  Yes, he's powerful, but so am I."

"You are. You're also very young."

"You noticed it yourself when he tried to screw with our adulthood papers."

"I did," he agreed calmly.  "I do not know why he is doing this, Alex.  It could have something to do with that blasted prophecy."

"Then we need to hear it."  He stopped pacing to look at his father.  "I admire you greatly, dad, but he just accused me of something that would have gotten someone like Draco sent to the hospital.  Grams did it *once*."  Snape raised an eyebrow.  "I waited since I didn't have my own wand.  I was about ten if you remember her sudden trip to the Ministry."

"Not the hospital?"

"Not with what I did to her.  That's why they tried me on that potion."  He sneered a bit.  "I can't allow that."

"I agree.  You can't.  He had no right to accuse you of causing intentional harm.  With as bad as you are in there, I'm surprised the plant lived."  Alex grimaced.  "Sit, Alex."  He shook his head.  "Sit," he repeated.

"I'll blow something up if I can't pace."  He went back to it.  "I'm too worked up.  Neville had to stop me from harming him then and there.  No one accuses me like that!" he yelled.

"Fine. Calm yourself. You can not think logically if you are not calm."

"Fuck calm!"

"Sit!" he snapped.  "I cannot think while you pace back and forth, son."  Alex sighed and sat, for a moment, then he got up and started to pace again.  "Fine.  Would you like a way to wear it out?"

"Please.  I can't go to bed like this, I'll have nightmares about that potion."

"Fine."  He summoned a house elf.  "Bring me Mr. Malfoy."  It nodded and disappeared.  Draco appeared about five minutes later, and he silently pointed at his son.  "Take him and make him wear out this anger.  I have no idea how."

"I haven't seen him this mad since after the potion," he said, closing the door.  "What happened?"

"Dumbledore accused me of doing that to the plant on purpose," Alex sneered, staring him down.

"Bloody hell. You're not the one he has to worry about with that. You'd never hurt an innocent on purpose.  He should know better."  He walked inside and stopped Alex from fidgeting.  "Want to go for a walk?"

"No, I want to hex someone until they scream and lose their cutesy little hat."

"Just don't do it to me," he said dryly, smirking a bit.  Alex sighed and nodded.  "Come on.  We'll go find something.  Besides, I hear there's a missing Chamber around here.  My father was ranting about it needing to be opened again."  Snape snorted.  "He did."

"Your father is less than intelligent some days," he noted calmly.

"Yeah, but we all have days like that, dad," Alex said dryly, regaining a bit of humor.  "Sorry."

"No, I agree that you venting to me was a better alternative than you harming someone on purpose.  Take him outside, Mr. Malfoy.  Create some harder charms or something on the pitch.  I'll excuse you to go blow the grass up."  Draco nodded and pulled Alex with him.  Snape got up and walked out into the classroom.  "Leave."  The students finished up and ran out.  He locked the door and flooed to the office, heading to talk to the Headmaster.  "It was most unwise of you to accuse him of harming innocents.  He nearly lost control of his magic.  Are you more pleased now?"

"I simply asked him if he had cast any additional charms," he told him, sounding bitter.  "He's a dangerous boy, Severus."

"Yes, because the Ministry turned a blind eye to his treatment."  He walked in front of the desk, staring down his boss.  "I will tell you this once.  Alexander has no desire to harm people.  That's why he's in Gryffindor.  The hat offered him a chance for Slytherin but warned him the darkness would come for him.  He didn't want that. That's why it put him there instead of under me.  The boy is in no danger and is no danger to others.  Especially not a child or an innocent.  You nearly made him lose control of his magic earlier.  He was upset enough that I'm sure even the ghosts felt it."  The headmaster nodded.  "For that matter, leave the boy alone."

"He is a student here and it is my job...."

"It is your job to run the school. It is Minerva's job to punish all but the most serious infractions of the school's rules.  The boy did nothing wrong and you accused him.  The same as you intentionally called someone to put him on a potion we all knew caused him to do great harm the last time he was on it.  It was noted in the inquest's notes that you asked for that potion specifically.  Even though you had heard what it had done to him the last time."  Dumbledore looked stunned.  "I do not want you near my son, Albus.  He doesn't trust you and he's about to add you to his list of people he would rather torture than deal with."  He crossed his arms.  "Now then, with that said, he wishes to see a copy of that prophecy.  The one about him, Potter, and Longbottom."

"That boy is...."

"That boy has a name.  He is still no danger to others unless they force him to be.  Even Miss Parkinson has realized that.  You nearly forced him to be.  You might thank Longbottom for trying to calm him down, Albus.  He does know enough to harm someone older."  He quirked an eyebrow up.  "The prophecy?"

"If he's that dangerous to a simple question...."

"You accused him of harming an innocent for shits and giggles," he said blandly.  "He doesn't take well to being compared to his grandmother."  Dumbledore flinched.  "Let Minerva and I handle him.  We do have a good feel for the boy.  We've actually gotten him to do some homework already this year."  Dumbledore sighed and nodded.  "As for what happened, Madam Sprout mixed that potion about fifty times stronger than it should have been.  My son is no genius at herbology or plants.  He overfed it.  Then the food we mixed up helped fuel more growth.  It already had teeth. It just grew larger teeth.  She knew it could do that.  It was her fault in this case.  She could have contained it sooner but I suppose she was studying it for the effects it was giving off."  Dumbledore nodded at that.  "Now then, you've harmed my son irreparably.  He's so mad I had to have Mr. Malfoy help him wear it out.  Leave the boy to mine and Minerva's care.  We do admirably well with him.  We understand him."  The door opened and he looked at Minerva as she walked in.  "I gave Alex and Mr. Malfoy permission to go blow up the pitch."

"I saw.  He was fuming when I saw him earlier.  Thank you for calming him down.  His nightmares have woken his dormmates in the past," she noted.  "Should I get Poppy to give him a bit of dreamless sleep potion?"

"No," he said, shaking his head.  "It might not work on him.  I have no idea if he's been over-exposed to that already."

"Fine," she agreed lightly.  "How is he?"

"Calmer. I did chastise him for sniping at Lockhart again, though he was correct.  He did distract my students in punishment. He is unknowledgeable and he is a moron."  He looked at Albus.  "Where can we find a copy of that prophecy?"

"At the Ministry.  In the Mysteries department," he said calmly.  "Minerva, did you feel my question to him about any extra charms he might have cast on that plant to be unfair?"

"Did you mean to harm the boy?" she demanded.  "You know he's sensitive!  He'd never hurt someone who wasn't hurting him or who didn't mean another innocent harm!  Hell, if he became the next Dark Lord, then we'd see a sudden drop in child abuse, child molestion, and  assholes around the globe!"  He nodded.  "Mr. Birmingham is no more the next dark lord if he isn't forced into it than I am!"

"Fine.  I'll leave the boy in yours and Severus' care.  Any punishments would best come from you."

"And all the praise I bet," she said, staring at Severus.

"I gave him five points for not letting the plant die off.  He's no genius in herbology."

"I noticed."  She smiled at him.  "He's fine now?"

"Once he wears that out.  He knows he's not to attack anyone here in the school who pushes him like that.  I find it a bit comforting that he came to me before doing it."

"As do I," she agreed.  "He stopped me and told me he was that upset and that he was going for you.  I'll let him finish his detention with me tomorrow night."  He nodded at that.  "What did he say to Lockhart this time?"

"The truth, his coat was distracting my students in detention and I could easily punish them more for being so distracted and not doing their chores.  I got him into the office before he could say anything too damaging to the man's fragile ego."  She snorted and rolled her eyes, sitting down.  "It's sad when a student has to help in the class to keep the others safe from such stupidity."

"Did you hear about the pixies?"  He shook his head.  "What incident were you speaking of?"

"He had a small demon in there and Alex had to banish it since he couldn't.  An imp."  She cackled and he nodded.  "Indeed, the harmless things that like to scare people.  He had to banish it because the teacher was terrified of it."

She shook her head.  "When he was doing Cornish Pixies Alex had to step in to keep him from releasing a full cage of them.  He had thirty of them in a small owl cage."  He shuddered.  "Alex told him about how pixies carried diseases and he heard some of them sneezing.  He let out ten instead and they still attacked the students."

"Why do I not hear of these things?" Dumbledore asked calmly.

"Because you don't do anything about them, Headmaster," Snape said dryly.

"You hired him," Minerva agreed.  She looked at Professor Snape.  "He and Mr. Malfoy worked on that disease together."

"That's fine.  They're a good foil to each other," he agreed quietly, smirking a bit.  "They're also old friends and Alexander is staying out of his and Potter's thing in the halls."

"Good!  Can't you control that boy?"

"He needs an outlet. Otherwise I'd have to hear whining from other students about him practicing on them.  It seems he prefers Potter."

"Fine," she snorted.  "Remember, Harry can go to Alex for dueling lessons."

"That was why Lockhart was in my office bothering me. He wanted to restart the dueling club."

"Indeed?" she asked, quirking an eyebrow up.  "After he's gone, you and I could run it."  He nodded. He knew she knew how to duel, she had a championship trophy in her office.

"If it is restarted can we keep Mr. Birmingham from joining?" he asked them.

"I dare say he could monitor it," she said dryly. "I'm sure he was taught those forms as well."  Snape nodded. "You've seen him?"

"Practicing in a mirror.  He's also practicing his dancing and has asked Misters Goyle, Malfoy, and Weasley to find him a boyfriend by the fourth year since that's when balls usually start."  She snickered and nodded.  "Mr. Goyle asked me how one would choose for another."

"You need to make sure his arranged marriage to Miss Parkinson never went through," she advised.

He shuddered and shook his head. "I would not support such an action.  No wonder my son was turned off women."  She giggled and he gave her a long look.  "I'm going back to my office.  I'll excuse those two from curfew if we must."  She nodded, agreeing with that.  "Thank you."  He left, heading back to his office through the floo.

She looked at her boss.  "Leave the boy to us, Albus.  The same as you do Harry and Ron."  She stood up and left him alone to moan in private. She knew what Alex was seeing but she wasn't sure if it was just bad luck or intentional yet.  She sent a note to Severus to ask him if any other incidences had happened that she need to know about.  He sent back the inquest's transcripts.  So she had some light reading that night before bed.


Draco walked out of his house the next morning, frowning greatly.  Not only was he sleepy but he had bad news for his head of house.  He found him in the Great Hall and hopped up onto the dias to speak to him.  "You were correct.  She still thinks it's a done deal," he hissed.  Severus nodded.  "She said she did a blood binding.  She thinks he did."

"I'll make sure of it," he said quietly.  "Thank you."  He nodded and headed down to talk to Alex, pulling on his collar until the boy joined him by the windows.  He watched as his son choked on his usual bacon, then glanced at his table.  Pansy was looking very interested.  "Miss Parkinson," he called.  She walked up to face him, looking confused.  "In case you had not heard, Mr. Birmingham is my son," he said quietly making her lean forward to hear him.  "I do not encourage you in mating with him.  There is no marriage.  You can tell your parents I said so.  If there was a contract, it will be broken upon his request."  She glared at him.  "You are not suitable for one who likes the male form," he said dryly. "As my son does.  I believe you know some of his history and I know you know why I will protest this.  Therefore, do not get your hopes up."  She stomped off.  He sneered at her back then at Draco, who was helping his son out of the hall so he could be sick in private.  Poppy was hurrying after the boys, going to help him. He calmed himself, finishing his breakfast before going to write the Ministry's Records office for information on that bonding.


Alex was gagging when the nurse came out, casting an anti-nausea charm.  It didn't help any but it did make him quit gagging and get on with the vomiting.  "Sorry," he gasped.

Draco patted his back, safely out of range.  "Miss Parkinson is still trying to force her suit of Alex.  His grandmother wanted them bound."

She clucked her tongue.  "No, I don't believe that would suit you at all.  She's too much like your grandmother if what I hear is true."  She called up a stretcher and helped him onto it.  "Are you coming up, Mr. Malfoy?  You look a bit green and peaked yourself."

"It's lack of sleep," he admitted, following her.  Behind them the house elves were already cleaning up the mess.  "I was helping him wear out some energy last night and then had to talk to Pansy for a few hours, listening to her ideas of their marriage and how she'd be the wife of the next dark lord."  Alex started to gag again.  Draco got out of the way, shifting sides so he was on the other side of the nurse, getting a small smile for that. "Sorry, can't stand that."

"Not an issue, Mr. Malfoy.  You go ahead and nap. I'll excuse you until lunch for your help."  He nodded, choosing a bed and lying down.   She got a potion for Alex, settling him in a bed.  "I know it's a great shock, but you can have it broken," she promised.  "Did you bind blood to the contract?"  He shook his head.  "Are you sure?  She could have taken some and done it without your consent."

"She wanted a full binding," he said miserably.  "I'd have to consent.  She was torturing me to consent when her Mark started to hurt."  She nodded, tucking him in.  "Not my feet."  She smiled and untucked his feet.  "Thank you, Madam Pomfrey."

"It's all right, Alexander.  This is what I do.  I'll talk with your father."

"He knows," Draco said from his bed.  "He didn't support it either.  He called Pansy up to talk to her."  He flipped over to look at Alex.  "That's why he had me talk to her."

Alex nodded, groaning a bit as he flipped onto his side.  "As long as I don't have to.  If I have to, I'll render myself infertile for the next twenty years."  Draco grinned at that.  "Grams found out too many ennervates does it to you."

"Wonderful.  I'll have to remember that when it's my turn to breed for the family name," Draco said sarcastically.

"Hey, you could become my boyfriend.  That solves both our problems."

"I still like girls, Alex. You don't have the necessary appendages."  Alex grinned weakly.

"Sleep, both of you," she ordered, heading back to her desk to fill out the forms for the Headmaster and send them on.  That really was horrible.  Usually she saw headaches when the children found out they were promised to someone.


Severus walked into the infirmary after lunch, looking at his son.  "Still ill?"

"She came up to try to cheer me up," he said bitterly.  "I ended up puking on her."  Snape smirked a bit.  "Unintentionally of course."

"Of course."  He held out the paperwork.  "You were never bound to the contract.  She was.  I've got the forms to contest it so you can fill them out tonight."  He nodded.  "I did tell her I did not want this match."

"Thanks, dad.  Means a lot to me," he groaned, sitting up some.  "Ow."  He rubbed his stomach. "I hate being sick."

"I know.  Would you like a book?"  Alex made a grossed out face.  "Sorry, I had to try."

"You do it very well," he noted dryly, smirking a bit.  "I'll be fine."  He looked at the paperwork. He frowned and pointed at one part.  "Does that mean what I think it does?"

Snape looked, then nodded. "Indeed. If you do break it, there's a clause stating you'll give her a suitable child.  I'll include that in the forms so you only have to sign it."  Alex gave him a hug and he felt an uncomfortable mushy feeling starting.  Alex pulled back, looking embarrassed.  "I talked with the Headmaster.  He said he didn't mean to accuse you."

"And I so believe that," Alex said sarcastically.  "What's that Draco was talking about? The Chamber?"

"It's a myth."

"Are we sure?"  Snape shook his head.  "Are we connecting dark things together like polka dots?"

"I was trying not to," he admitted.  "Why?"

"The journal?  Suddenly he gives it to *Ginny*?"

He considered it. "It was unusual.  Perhaps he needed to find it."

Alex gave him a 'get real' look.  "Draco said he's seen it at the house. So why pick on her?"

"Because she's open to the influence?"

"Hmm, or it's darker than we thought. Instead of just answering, could it possess her somehow?"

"It answered?"

"I wrote in it and it answered my question of who it belonged to.  The name Tom Riddle meant a lot to me."

"As it did to me," he admitted.  "Fine, I'll check on the girl.  She's an annoying twit but in detention at least once a month."

"You know, if you treated us Gryffs like you did the other houses, you wouldn't have to see us that often," he teased.

"Then you might think I liked you," he replied, smirking a bit.  "Get better. I'll see you after dinner?"

"Detention with McGonagall then Flitwick tomorrow night.  Saturday?"  Snape nodded. "Thanks, dad."

"You're welcome, Alex."  He walked out, heading down to his classroom.

"Can I try that soup thing again?" Alex called behind him.  "I promise to try to not puke again."


Draco caught Alex on his way to classes a few weeks later.  "We need to talk."

"Why?  Defense?"

"He's still watching you too hard.  He's also restarted the dueling club."  He gave him a long stare.

Alex grinned.  "I don't need to learn how to, Draco.  I already know.  Do you want me to sit out and help Harry and Ron behind the scenes?"  He nodded.  "That's fine.  It's something you'll probably do very well."  He flicked him on the arm.  "Come on, we've got to get to classes.  Do you want to join me on my vigil this Halloween in case She comes back this time?"

"No!  I don't want to miss out on the feast," he said, smirking at his friend.  "Is that why you missed last year?"  Alex nodded.  "Did she show?"  He nodded.  "Where?"

"In the tower.  Went after Neville since he likes his Gram.  I went to check on Harry and Ron since they went after the troll."  Draco rolled his eyes.  "Anyway.  I'll be doing that again this year, just in case she tries again."

"You could put a protection on the house."

"It would catch Sir Nicholas."

"Not if you specified her," he said dryly.  "Meet me in the library tonight.  I'll find the book I saw recently."  Alex nodded and grinned again.  "Go to class, you bloody poof."

"I'm not bleeding today," he complained, heading that way.   He had Creatures.  He winced as he walked outside, wishing he had some sunglasses.  He walked up to Harry.  "Remind me to find some glasses over the Hols," he complained.

"Did you need your eyes checked?"

"No, sunglasses.  I have good eyesight."

"You should still get them checked," Hermione said.  "Every few years, just to catch any problems before they start."

"I'd look like a dork," he noted dryly.  "I doubt it'll happen."  He looked at the creature in the pen, then at her.  "What's that?"

"Just pay attention," she sighed, turning back around as the teacher came out of his hut.

Alex tried, he really did, but creatures weren't his thing either.  Any more than plants.  They were interesting and nice to pet, but nothing out here was pettable.  Croonshanks wouldn't let him pet her either, but he understood that.  He didn't understand why the teacher kept the most deadly things in existence.  After all, what good were animals if you couldn't pet them now and then?


Alex finished his research and found the spell he wanted. He had even copied it legibly.  He also presented it to his housemistress.  "For Halloween."

"Do you think she'll come back this year?" she asked dryly.

"I doubt I managed to destroy her spirit last year," he admitted.  "That means she could and she seems to like Neville since he likes his Grams."

"Good point."  She looked over the spell.  "I'll consider it, Alexander."

He sighed.  "If not, I'll have to sit on the roof again and it sounds like it'll rain that week."

"You could chant from the common room."

"I'll get distracted."

"Hmm, good point.  I've noticed that about you.  I'll consider it.  I need to make sure it won't harm any of the native ghosts."

"It shouldn't.  Draco helped me find it."

"Well, at least you researched.  Good work."  She smiled at him.  "How are your animagus preparations going?"

He shrugged a bit.  "All right I guess.  I couldn't identify the animal I saw and I'm not sure if it's dangerous or not.  I don't want to go forward if I might eat Neville or someone."

"I'm sure he'd appreciate that," she agreed with a small smile.  "Did you draw it out?"

"No, but I clearly remember it."  She nodded.  "It looked like a wolf, I think.  I don't always see too well inside my head."

"That does bring up another point.  Electives?"

"If you try to stick me in Runes or Arithmancy, I will have to protest and throw a fit."

"They're challenging."

He snorted.  "Not really.  Then again, I've already been through all three books."  She looked like she understood.  "I like Astronomy.  I'm very much a night person. I'd prefer easier classes.  Ron and Harry are talking about Divination."

"It's an interesting class but there is homework.  Things like birth star charts and predictions.  No matter what you pick, you'll have to take on extra homework."

"Can I drop history in favor of it?"  She shook her head. "Crap."

She laughed.  "Thank you for modulating that outburst.  Unfortunately the core classes will stay.  You won't have flying."

"That's a damn blessing," he agreed, frowning a bit as he sat down.  He crossed his feet in front of him and his hands on his stomach.  "What are my options?"

"Well, there's a few really.  There's divinations, runes, artihmancy, muggle studies.  That's usually fairly easy and interesting."  He nodded.  "Astronomy can be taken but it's usually taken by those serious in Divination."

"I'd rather take Astronomy and Muggle Studies.  They sound easy and fun."

"That's fine. I'll see if Astronomy is being taught to the third years."  She smiled at him. "If not, do you have a choice?"

"I guess I'll go bug her in Divination.  She thinks I'm the next dark lord, but oh well."  He sighed as he stood up.  "Let me know please?  I've got to gather some ingredients before then.  That means bribing one of the upper years."

"You could ask Professor Snape."

"He thinks it's foolish."

"He would," she admitted.  "It's not.  I agree, I don't want her in our house either, Alexander."  He smiled and left.  She went back to reading the scroll, smiling at the better than usual handwriting.  "Sir Nicholas?" she called. "May I have a moment of your time?"  The ghost appeared and she laid out the scroll so he could read it.  "One of our house has a spirit who showed up last Halloween.  He'd like to do this on the whole house so he doesn't have to miss the feast."

"I heard his banishing last year.  He was quite thoughtful to not include me."  He read it.  "It doesn't look like it'd hurt.  Can we try it on a single room first?  Make sure it won't hurt me or any of the rest of us?"

"Of course," she agreed happily.  "I'd do about anything to keep his grandmother from coming here this year.  Especially keeping her from bothering Mr. Longbottom."  He nodded, smiling at her.  "Thank you. I'll have him do it later this week and call you down.  Do you think it'd keep Peeves out of my office?"

"I doubt it," he offered with a grin.  He winked.  "Thank you, my most charming housemistress."  He flew off, going to tell the other ghosts about this.

Upstairs, Alex found Harry huddled in his bed.  "What happened?" he asked dryly.

"Harry talks to snakes," Ron said from the bathroom.  "Everyone's scared of him."

"Well, it's often considered a dark arts skill, but he's not.  I can tell them you're not, Harry."

"No, I don't need everyone to know."

Ron came out of the bathroom.  "By tomorrow everyone will know anyway, Harry.  Let him tell them.  It'll ease some of the funny looks."

"Draco must be shitting," Alex noted, sitting on the end of his bed.

"And then some," Ron agreed dryly.  "So, what's up with Halloween this year?"

"Draco helped me find a banishing spell on the house for that night and her.  I gave it to McGonagall to look over. That way I can attend the feast and won't go hungry this year."  Ron grinned at him.  "I don't know why she likes Neville but it's wrong and no one should be exposed to her if they can help it."  Someone tapped on the door.  "We're still decent."

Hermione walked in.  "Harry, I found a reference on Parseltongue."

Alex and Ron both snickered.  "We expected you to do that sooner," Alex teased.

She snorted, looking away from them.  "I might have but I was caught in the jam in the halls when they all bunched up trying to flee.  Can you note to others that he's not a dark wizard?"

"Sure."  He got up and headed downstairs.  "People. A moment please?"  Everyone stared at him.  "I was asked to sniff Mr. Potter for dark magic.  He doesn't have any.  Talking to snakes is rare, but it's a useful thing depending on where you live and all."  Everyone continued to stare at him.  "After all, who would know more than I about dark magic?  Except Professor Snape."  That got a nod and everyone went back to their work and gossiping.

"Alex!" Harry whined from behind him.

Alex grinned at him.  "It's true.  I sniff dark magic very well.  It makes me sneeze."

"Then let's hope you don't catch a cold this year," Harry said dryly.  Alex grinned and nodded, heading back upstairs.  Harry sat next to Seamus and Neville.  "He's found a way to join us at the feast this year instead of doing a banishing all night."

"Good," Neville agreed.  "Will it keep his Grams out?"  Harry nodded. "Is it approved?"

"He said McGonagall's got it right now."

"That's fine," Seamus agreed.  He looked at Harry.  "So, you talk to snakes often?"

"No," he snorted.  "Except that one time in the zoo...."  He frowned a bit.  "That was before I got my letter."

"Ah, accidental magic," Seamus said fondly.  "I remember my first one.  I made a few new toys when I was grounded."

"I bounced," Neville told him.

"I guess mine was when I was trying to get away from my cousin's friends and bounced up to a roof," Harry admitted, thinking back.  "I got yelled at for weeks for that."

Neville patted him on the back.  "Did you talk to your aunt and uncle?"

"Hell no," he snorted.  "I sent them a copy of my paperwork and wished them a happy life."  He looked at him.  "Good riddance and all that."

"How is your godfather?" Neville asked gently.

"He's a nice guy.  Really funny.  He and Remus Lupin are great pranksters."  He saw the twin's look their way and winked at them.  "They kept going on and on about all the stuff they used to do."

"You know Remus Lupin?" one of the twins asked as he strolled over.

Harry grinned, nodding a bit.  "He lives with my godfather, Sirius Black."  That twin's eyes went wide.  "You want introduced?"

"Please," the other called.  "We'll beg prettily."

"You usually do," Alex noted as he came down the stairs.  "I'm starving.  Anyone else?"  That got a few snickers.  "I am!"  He sat down in front of the fireplace with his tin of floo powder, calling home.  "Birmingham Hall."  His house elf Twirly showed up.  "I'm starving."

"I knew those house elfs at school is stupid and not doing their jobs," she said firmly.  "Yous at school?"  He nodded, looking miserable.  "Twirly bring food. You is eating or else."  She disappeared.  He grinned, getting out of the way.  A few minutes later she came out of the floo and floated a large tray to where he was sitting.  "Master Alexander not sit on floor like dog.  You is eating at table."

"They're doing homework."  He patted her and took the tray.  "I'm fine right here.  Thank you, Twirly."

She snorted.  "House elfs at school is being stupid and is not feeding you right.  Even Harry Potter says so."  Alex pointed at Harry, watching as she squealed and took some of the food for him too.  "You is be eating too!" she said firmly.  "You is not be eating enough! Twirly says so!"

Harry grinned.  "Thanks, Twirly.  I was a bit hungry."  She left, going back to the house.  "Thanks, Alexander."

"Welcome.  I told you I was starved."  He dug in, eating his second dinner of the night.  McGonagall came in a few minutes later so he offered her a croissant.  "Twirly made me a snack."

"That looks like more than a snack," she said, taking it to nibble on.  "She's a good cook."

"She gets bacon just how I like it too," he said happily, digging in again.  "She fed Harry too."

"Fine.  Try to keep the intrusions down.  That floo is only for calling purposes except in an emergency."

"With the way Twirly says the house elfs here don't feed me, I thought it better to not let her insult them to their faces."

"Probably true," she agreed, finishing up her snack.  "Send them back through the floo in my office.  You may use that one to call her the next time, or learn how to find the kitchen and sneak down for a snack."

"You can do that?"  She nodded.

"We'll show him," one of the older females said.  "His house elf was cute though.  She said she knew they didn't feed us enough, he and Harry had lost weight."

Professor McGonagall smiled.  "They're in that awkward growth spurt.  They're supposed to be bottomless pits.  It's the first four years who eat more food than the rest of us combined."  She stood up.  "Try to behave, Alexander."

"Yes, Professor.  I try really hard, usually."

"Well, try harder.  Suck up to the house elves here.  They'll feed you until you burst."  He finished off his food and handed her the tray.  "Want me to send it back?"

"If you wouldn't mind," he offered cutely.  She rolled her eyes but gathered up the other plates and took them back to her office, sending them back so she could talk to this house elf and point out the boys only had to find the kitchen to get fed.  All the house elfs there would feed them until they burst if they wanted.  She knew the house elf wasn't convinced, but she agreed the house elves there could send weekly shipments of treats through her office.  It made the poor dear so happy she nearly danced and cried.


Alex watched Harry stare at a nearby wall.  "Transligua," he cast at the wall, then looked at Harry, as did everyone else near them.  "So that's what you've been hearing!" he said dryly.  "No wonder you're twitchy and odd this week."

Harry looked at him.  "What is that?"

"It's some sort of snake in the wall."

"Oh."  He nodded.  "Okay.  I guess."  He shrugged and looked at the Defense teacher, who looked horrified.  "Cancel it," he hissed.  Alex canceled the spell and the people slowly quit staring at Harry.

"Mr. Birmingham, how did you know he was in distress?"

"I was drawing him so I was paying attention to him, professor."

"Really?  Are you any good?"

Alex held up his sketch.  "I started out with stick figures.  I'm having a retro moment."  Ron snickered.  "I am!"

"He usually does much better work," Goyle volunteered.  Draco hit him on the arm, so he shrugged and slunk down a bit.  "Sorry, sir.  Didn't mean to interrupt."

"Fine.  I would welcome seeing some of your work."

"Is that a polite way of saying I've got detention?" Alex asked.  Lockhart nodded.  "Fine.  I'll gather some and bring them down.  They're quite therapeutic."  He went back to work on his stick figures playing quidditch, then charmed them, making Harry smile when it was given to him.  He started on another one, this time a real sketch, working one of Ron.  He was easy to draw, he was nearly asleep again.  All the while, his mind was whirling about what sort of snakes lived in a school.  Especially in Scotland.  He glanced up at the teacher, finding him staring at him.  "What?  Did I say something?" he asked.

"No, wondering why you're staring at Mr. Weasley."

"Because I have to draw something when I'm bored.  Or else my mind goes to odd places. Like wondering what sort of snake lives in the school."  Lockhart shuddered and went back to lecturing.  He finished up his drawing of Ron and left it on the teacher's desk at the end of class, since he was so interested and all.   It only took two periods for McGonagall to jump on him about what he had done.  "Harry was clearly listening to something else and I'm nosy!  I only cast the translingua charm on the walls.  Some other kids heard it too."

"Yes, so I was told by Miss Granger."  She stared down at him.  "Very well. You were helping your guardian.  I accept that.  Were you rude after that?"

"Not especially.  He's the one who stopped class to see why I was staring at Ron."

"Did you leave him that drawing?"  He nodded, grinning at her.  "Why?"

"He said he wanted to see some of my work."

She snorted.  "Fine.  Try to stay out of trouble.  It was a very good rendering of a sleeping Weasley."

"It's the only time he's sitting still."

"True," she agreed dryly.  "Fine.  Have fun at detention and see me tomorrow night about the spell."  He nodded, beaming at her.  "Now, go to your next lesson."

"Must I?"

"Yes, Alexander.  Go to Herbology," she sighed.  He walked off, heading in that general direction.  "I mean it.  Otherwise I'll make you spend a detention in the library looking up creatures."

"Yes, ma'am."  He headed out that way, unable to duck out of it now.  Her classroom was too close to the doorway.  He got out there, finding the students milling around the doorway.  "Is it locked?" he called.  Hermione turned and nodded at him.  "Are we hoping for a minor emergency?"

"That's not nice," Neville complained.

"I said a minor one," he reminded him.  "Nothing life threatening or anything."  He walked up and tapped on the door.  "Madam Sprout?" he called.  "We've come to be tortured."  No answer.  He considered it, then looked at the other students.  "Neville, you're her favorite boy.  Go peek in a window."  He walked around to peek inside, coming running back. "Problems?"

"She's either asleep or she's in trouble."


"Alohamora," Granger cast.

"Nice work, unfortunately there's a bigger lock."  He cast his delocking one quietly and snuck inside, going to check on her.  She woke up when he was checking on her pulse, making him yelp.  "You wouldn't wake up," he said at her unhappy look.  "Can we have a study hall?  That way you can nap?"  She nodded and waved him away.  "Thanks, love."  He hurried out, closing and locking the door behind him.  "Study hall!  She's napping!"  The students smiled and walked off.  Granger gave him an odd look.  "I saw you in the doorway.  You saw her."

"You yelped."

"I do that now and then."  He walked off, going to work on a drawing of what he had seen in his head.

Draco walked behind him to snoop, then stopped to stare.  "That's misshapen."

"That's how I saw it.  Maybe my mind's eye needs glasses," he joked.  He looked at him. "You brewed the potion for me, you know it was right."

"I know."  He frowned at the picture again.  "I wish I knew a telepathy spell."


"I don't have one of those handy, Alex.  Do you?" He grimaced and shook his head.  "We'll try it again. That way maybe you can see it better."  He walked off, shaking his head.

"Maybe I'm not meant to be a furry," he mused, getting back to work.  He saw Professor Snape walking out and looked at him, grinning a bit. "Madam Sprout is napping on her desk."

"Fine.  What is that?"

"My furry thing dream."  He handed it over.  "I'm working on the fur."

"I can tell."  He considered it, then looked at the boy.  "It's probably a wolf."

"It could be," he agreed dryly.  "I couldn't tell, it was warped. It's like it changed for some reason."

"You only get one form, Alex," he noted dryly.

"I know.  Draco said we could try it again?" he offered hopefully.

"Fine.  I'll watch him brew it this time to make sure it is done correctly.  About that spell?"

"To keep Grams out of the tower this year."

"It's unnecessary."

"You said that last year and she came after Neville."


"Because he loves his grandmother."

"Oh."  He nodded. "Very well.  We will be trying that spell tonight."

"Tomorrow.  I've got detention with the glittery one for being smart enough to figure out what Harry was listening to.  What sort of snake lives in the walls?"

Snape looked confused.  "What?"  He sat down next to him. "Explain that?"

"Harry was listening really hard at a wall.  I cast the translingua charm so I could hear it, along with a few others.  We heard something hissing in snake.  Then it was charmed into English.  It said it was happy to be free and out, that it could hunt now."  He nodded once then stood up.  "So what sort of snake lives in the walls?"

"I'm not sure yet," he admitted. He looked around. "I'll see you tomorrow night."  He went back to his classroom to think.  He hadn't checked Ginny Weasley yet.  He had her tomorrow morning and he could do it then.  He needed a potion though.  He got to work on it, making sure he wouldn't poison the little *dear* creature.


"Mr. Birmingham," Professor Lockhart said when Alex walked into his classroom.  "Have you ever fought anything?"

"A few things around the house and my grandmother.  Why?"


"Yeah, she was a torturing bitch in case you didn't hear.  Unfortunately she used to Imperious me and sit me in front of her old textbooks."  He grinned sweetly.  "That's why I don't like doing homework now."

"I see.  The drawing?"

"I'm bored."

"You could do your school work.  I'm sure she would be easier on you if your grades were better," he said dryly.

He held in his temper before he started to scream at him.  "I doubt that since she's dead," he said sarcastically.  "Though, I did have a question about the old seventh year coursebook.  Did the Nymph lesson actually happen?"

"In my year it didn't but I heard other years had it," he admitted.  He stared at the young man.

"Like what you see?" Alex asked eventually, staring back.  Lockhart shuddered.  "Thank you.  I like blokes, but not you."  He sat down, patting his folder. "Did you actually want to see some of my work?"

"Your drawing earlier was very decent," he admitted.  Alex handed it over, welcoming the praise.  "In order?"  That got a nod.  "Well."  He got to work looking through them, then looked up at him a few times.  "Your grandmother?"

"The person who killed my mother minutes after she had me."

"Oh."  He went back to looking through them, then handed them back.  "I have been told you have enough dark arts knowledge to probably teach this class."

"That's why I'm bored and I sit in my seat and draw."

"Fine.  I understand that desire.  You're getting very good at it I must say."  He looked at the boy, considering him.  "You could probably test out this year."

"Yes, but I'm also in here to protect my guardian, Harry."

"I doubt he needs it."

"That depends on what sort of snake is living in the walls."

"Good point," he admitted, frowning a bit.

"You'll get wrinkles."  The frown cleared and he smiled instead.  "Just thought you should know you're already starting one.  Teaching doesn't agree with everyone, as shown by your forehead wrinkle."  Lockhart rubbed at it.  "I'm perfectly harmless most of the time."

"Yes, so I've heard. I've also heard you know what you're about in most of the classes.  Including this one.  I wouldn't be immune to the suggestion of you going to do an intense dark arts study session during my class."

"Which defeat two purposes.  One, I loathe books.  Two, that would leave Harry mostly unprotected."

"I'm sure Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger could cover for you for a single class.  As a matter of fact, there's more than one of you who needs it.  You'd have to do a paper of course."  Alex looked horrified at that.  "Ah.  She made you study?"

"For weeks on end."

"Oh, dear."  He nodded.  "I see.  Still, it is really in your best interests to do this sort of studying.  That way you're not as bored.  Also, Professor McGonagall suggested you might like to teach this class some day.  At which time you'll need more varied knowledge of the subject."  He licked his lips.  "Yes, I believe it would suit you better, even though you do hate such work.  I can see a real paper a term?  Perhaps ten feet?  A real research paper?"

"Four," Draco said from the doorway.  "There's almost nothing we could do ten feet on in this library.  We'd have to get into the restricted section or owl the Ministry."  He smirked a bit.  "You summoned me as well?"

"Well, yes, you see you're both in the same circumstances.  Actually, Miss Granger is as well, as is Mr. Potter really.  I can't really teach you anything.  You already know more than the scope of your year's lessons."  Draco nodded, coming in to lean against a desk.  "You should see his drawings of you.  Quite good."

"Thank you, Professor."  Alex looked at Draco.  "Four feet?  It's nearly Halloween."

"How about two before the holidays, four this spring?" he offered.  The boys looked at each other.  "I've already cleared it with the heads of house.  It'll be you two, Mr. Potter, Miss Granger, a few Ravenclaws, and one Hufflepuff spread over the years.  There's two other borderline Slytherins."

"If we don't?" Draco asked calmly.

"Well, you're really disrupting things you see.  The others see you children slacking off and think they can.  It's getting so you're getting more attention than I ... I mean their lessons are.  It's disruptive and I find it difficult to teach you children."  They both nodded at that.  "Would you please humor me?"

"Sure," Alex agreed.  "In return, I want access to your Charms books.  I saw them in your office and I'm coveting them.  It's my best area," he said with a smug grin.

"Fine," he agreed.  "Go ahead and take whatever you need from my office.  As long as I get them back by the holidays."  They nodded.  He handed over letters to each of them.  "Mr. Birmingham, yours also has Mr. Potter's and Miss Granger's permission slips in there.  As well as the details of what I want."  They both nodded.  "Thank you for understanding."

"It's not a problem," Draco agreed.  "We could probably do that within a few weeks.  It gives us more time to make plans for the holidays."

"True," Alex agreed, looking at him.  "Having the ball this year?"

"Yes, and Mother wanted to know if you *really* wanted to come."  Alex shrugged.  "She didn't want to force you or to attend if you didn't want to."

"We could have a party for our age group at my house," Alex offered as he gathered his folder and walked out with him.  "That way none of us have to go."  Draco smirked at that.  "Would that suit her? If so, I'll let her help me with the plans.  I suck at planning anything but Auntie Narcissa is quite good at it."

"I'll let her know," he offered.  Once they were farther away he burst out laughing.  "Oh, bloody hell, Alex.  Thank you."  Alex just grinned.  "I can do that this weekend. It'll let me sleep in one day a week."

"It'll give me a chance to help train Harry better," Alex admitted.  Draco looked at him.  "If he's trying to come back again, I want my guardian protected.  Merlin knows who I'd get put with otherwise."

"Your father?" he suggested dryly.

"Has his own life.  We agreed on that a while back."  He sneezed.  "Sorry, getting a cold."  He headed up to the house, whistling to get attention. "I have a cold.  I'm sorry if I scare anyone by sneezing next to Harry or Granger."  He looked at Harry and Granger, both of who were grinning.  "We've all been officially kicked out of Defense," he offered with a grin.  "We have two feet of research paper due by break, then four this spring before term ends."  Hermione looked stunned. "He said he can't teach us a blasted thing.  We're *distracting* the other students."  He handed her the letter then grinned at Harry.  "That means you and I get real lessons, mate."

"Of what?"

"Defense."  He snorted. "I'll get Grams old books for you."  Harry nodded, accepting that.  Hermione let out a cackle.  "I know.  Unrestricted access to the restricted section."

"No, he wants the first paper on a rogue, magically hyped bear," she told him.  He raised an eyebrow.  "Apparently someone approached him about killing it since it's now bulletproof."

Alex snorted.  "Finite Incantantum?"  She nodded.  He rolled his eyes. "How do we bullshit that into two feet?  By the way, it's also Draco Malfoy and a few others.  Including one Hufflepuff."  She smirked at that.  "What's on for Spring?"

"It says here to be named, but a creature or a dark curse of your choice possibly.  Four feet?"  He nodded.  "There's plenty to do that on."

"Draco got us down to two feet this semester by noting how little time we had left."  She snickered.  "He gets to sleep in one day a week."

"So do we," Ron said happily.

"Sorry, Ron, couldn't get you sprung."


"Eh, stare at him and I'll give you notes ahead too," Alex assured him.  "Maybe by the hols we'll have you out of there too."  He clapped him on the back.  "For that, I'm off to take a bath.  I'll write Gibbons in the morning to send up the books.  That way we can meet next class in the library."  He headed up to the room, going to hog the bathtub.  It had been nice that the professor had liked his artwork too.  It had even seemed honest.  That carefully went back into his trunk and he grabbed his favorite bubbles, going in to soak.

Downstairs, Ron was looking at Dean.  "Train the savior and then train the masses," he said dryly.  Dean nodded, accepting that idea.


Alex accepted the package from his owl, putting out a good pile of treats for her since there were so many books in the stack.  Hermione squealed and took them to look over.  "At least you left my fingers on."  He petted his owl, getting tired hoots in response.  "That's all right, Perchy.  Go up to the owlry and rest."  She hooted and headed off after taking the last of her treats.

"You named your owl Perchy?" Ron asked, giggling a bit.

"He was a gift when I was nine," he defended.  "I was being a bit cutesy I admit, but she's a good owl."  He looked at the stack of books, noticing two were separated out.  "What're those?"

"For you. A photo album and another book with your name on it."  She handed them over, then a third book, another photo album.  She smiled at him.  "I'll give you the rest in a few days."

"Sure.  Happy reading.  I already went through them once."  He looked at the one book, frowning a bit at it.  "Interesting."  That got put aside and he turned to the photo albums.  He smiled as he flipped through them.  Then he brought them up to his father.  "My house elves found these somewhere, probably hidden, and sent them for you."

"What are they?" he asked as he took them.

"My baby pictures."  Snape's hand paused in the act of opening them.  Alex grinned and waved a hand, going back to his seat.  He watched his father look through them, smiling a bit.

"That was really thoughtful of them," Ginny said as she sat across from him.  "Are you okay, Alexander?"

"I'm fine, Ginny.  Much better now that I don't have defense.  If only I could do that in history and Creatures."  She giggled, grinning at him and Harry.  "I only like creatures I can pet."  He shrugged.  "I'm shallow that way."

"I think you're a very deep person," she assured him. "You and Harry both."  She filled her plate and dug in, eating daintily.

Ron looked at her. "Eat like you do normally," he complained. "They've seen you belch and slurp before."  He added more eggs to his plate, handing Alex the bacon.  "Here.  You need to eat before your house elves go off on the ones here."  Alex grinned and dug in, happy to be eating.  He looked at Alex's arms.  "You need refitted.  The cuffs are too short."

"I noticed.  I'm getting chimp arms."  He grimaced, then shrugged.  "I'm a growing boy.  I must accept that fact and keep eating to encourage more growth so I'm not stunted or anything.  I'd hate to be five-foot-six forever with how tall my father is."  He ate another bite, grinning up at his father since he had gone through both books.  He nodded at him when he caught his eye, mouthing 'keep those safe for me'.  Then he ate another bite.  He looked at Harry, who was staring at the other book.  "Go ahead.  Auntie Narcissa got it for me."

"Why did you need to know about party planning?"

"Because Auntie Narcissa generally throws *THE* social event of the holiday season with her ball.   I suggested someone else do one for people our age.  So it's being held at the house."  He ate another bite.  "It's so I don't have to go to the other one."

"Sure," Harry agreed, nodding a bit.  "Do I have to go?"  Alex nodded, beaming at him.  "Damn it."

"Bring your guardians, Harry.  They seemed fairly pleasant and nice.  We'll need chaperones anyway."  He ate another bite then sipped his juice before wiping his mouth.  "I figure first through third years?  Fourth years usually get forced to go to Auntie Narcissa's ball to be shown off for prospective spouses."

"Sure," Harry sighed.  "I doubt we'd know what to do at a ball."

"It'll be a party, that way we don't get so bored and don't have to be sat by the house elves.  Some games, some food, some punch, some music."  Harry grinned at that.  "It'll be like a birthday party, only cooler and in December."

"When is your birthday?" Ron asked.

"July twenty-seventh."

"Wow, that's really close to Harry's," Ginny offered.  Alex nodded.  "Are you two going to hold a joint party this summer?"

"I don't know.  I haven't had one since I was eight."  He looked at Harry, who was blushing.  "We could if you wanted."

"I don't know yet.  Let's leave that off until at least Easter."

"Sure," he agreed.  "Plenty of time for Auntie Narcissa to plan it."  Harry frowned at him.  "What? She's a genius at it.  Besides, let her owls get worn out."

"Fine.  If we have one, Alexander."  Alex grinned at him.  "Any other dreadful plans?"

"Not yet.  But like I said, you can ask your guardians to come to ours as a chaperone.  That way they're even more scared for your safety with me."  Harry laughed and nodded.

"My mum would insist too," Ron reminded him.  "She's pushy like that."  Ginny nodded.

"Will you have to invite Malfoy and all them?" Ginny asked.  "They're so icky."

"Draco and I are best friends," he told her.  "The same as Vinnie and Greg and I are.  They'll probably have to go to the Malfoy event, but Auntie Narcissa might make an exception this year.  Last year, Draco got to hide in his room with Greg and Vinnie."

"Did you go last year?" Ginny asked.  He nodded.  "How was it?"

"I wish I had been upstairs in Draco's room. I loathe dancing with the rich old dames of society."  He looked over at the Slytherin table.  "Oh, shite, Parkinson's staring at me again."  He ducked his head and hurriedly ate.  "Don't wanna get sick," he told them.  "I'll be by the next classroom.  Listen for her screams if she follows."  He ducked out of the hall, heading to safety; far, far away from her.

Harry looked at Ron.  "I think that is a fate nearly as bad as death, him being forced to marry her."

"He is?"

"She's trying awfully hard," Ron told her.  "His grandmum wanted them to marry.  She's bound to the certificate but he wasn't.  He's trying to break it."  She shuddered.  "Exactly.  That's why he got so sick last month."  He watched as an owl landed at Alex's place, hooting at them. "He ran for cover, girl.  Can we take it?"  Professor Snape came down to take it before he could, heading back to his seat.  Ron gave her a few pets and she hooted before flying off.  "I wonder what that was."  He looked up at the head table.  "Should I tell Alexander to come find you, Professor Snape?"

"Please."  He looked at him. "Hopefully less loudly next time."

"Fine."  He grinned and finished up, going to hunt Alex down.  He found him watching Madam Hooch fly.  "Some day we'll figure out why you can't," he offered.  Alex looked back at him, grinning a bit.  "You got an owl after you left.  Your father has it."

"Thanks.  He still in there?"  Ron nodded.  "I'll get it before class."  He looked outside again.  "I just had the scariest thought.  If I end up teaching Defense some year I might end up in line for the Headmaster's job."

"That is a bad thought," Ron agreed.  "You can't run a thing," he promised, patting him on the back.

"I know.  Scary isn't it?"  He grimaced.  "We have Potions first?" Ron nodded.  "I'm heading down there.  See you soon."  He walked that way, his bag over one shoulder and banging against his hip.  He tapped on the door, smiling as his father let him in.  "What owl?"

"Lupin and Black have invited you for the holidays."

"Really?  I was planning on throwing a party for the first through third or fourth years at my place so the parents can go to Auntie Narcissa's party."  He grimaced.  "Hmm.  Well, I wouldn't mind them coming to stay at the manor."  Snape raised an eyebrow.  "Harry says they're nice enough.  That way you can have some of the holiday to yourself as well."

"I think I can manage to find enough time alone while you're goofing off."

"Yeah, but you've got a life and I don't want to intrude on it."  He put his bag down and faced his old man.  "I don't want to be a weight around your neck or the anchor that's holding you from taking a real vacation.  After teaching so many of us, I doubt you ever want to see a child again."  Snape snorted and nodded.  "Therefore you should get a holiday too.  Not that I don't want you, because it'll be pretty cool to have you there," he offered with a bright grin, "but you deserve some time off too.  Consider them babysitters."

"I wouldn't let either of them babysit a kneazle, much less my only child," he said dryly.

"You don't like them?"  Snape shook his head.  "Are they bad people?"  He looked at him. "Or is this the same reason you don't like Harry?"

"The latter," he admitted patiently.  "Nothing you should concern yourself about."  He looked at his son. "I won't protest you allowing them a week over, especially around the party.  I'll be back for Solstice, for the party as well.  We'll spend the rest of the holidays together.  That gives you a few days of overlap from what you were saying but nothing too great or stressful."  Alex nodded.  "Would that be acceptable?"

"It'd be fine, father.  Thank you."

"You should be allowed to get to know them since they do guard your guardian, even though I do loathe them all," he noted sarcastically.  "Sit down.  What happened in defense?"

"He decided he had nothing to teach me and a few others so we've got research time instead.  A two foot paper due by the hols and then a four foot this spring.  He wanted it sone on some magically hyped bulletproof bear someone called him about."

"Indeed?"  He got a nod and a grimace.  "I'll want to look at your paper myself.  Since you haven't written any real papers yet, I can give you some guidance on how to do so."  Alex sighed and nodded.  "Thank you.  Now, onto your last paper.  I did expect you to write it on the potion as it was supposed to be done, not what actually happened when everyone botched it," he said, handing it over.  "Very amusing."

"Thanks, I like to amuse and entertain.  I had the most horrible thought today."  Snape raised an eyebrow.  "If I end up teaching defense and stay, I might be headmaster some day."

Snape groaned and rubbed his stomach.  "Son, I just ate.  Don't say such things."  He sat down again.  "Next time, write the papers on what I really meant, not what I said."

"Does that mean there's a spell to become telepathic?"  Snape quirked an eyebrow.  "Draco couldn't figure out what the creature was either but he wanted to see it."

"There is occulmencary," he admitted.  "That would do that."

"Can I learn that?"

"It's like Divination.  If you have a gift for it, indeed.  If not, no."

"Do I?"  Snape gave him a long stare.  "Oh.  I guess we'll find that out too."  Snape nodded, looking amused.  "See, I told you I like to amuse and entertain."

"You do it very well," he said dryly, getting up to let the others in.  He watched his son start to make plans for his party during his lesson, only smacking him once for not paying attention and not going to get his ingredients.  Alex shrugged and got up.  This was another area he did not do well in, but tolerably enough when he put his mind to it. Another failing he would have to accept from his son.


Alex looked at the plans Draco handed over.  "That's a lot," he complained, looking it over.

"You said the entire first through fourth years," he reminded him. "That's a great many students.  Mother was even nice enough to agree to let me go instead of boring me at ours."

"You were bored?" Alex snorted, giving him a look.  "It had nothing on me."  He looked at the attached guest list, marking off a few names.  "I'm not inviting Pansy.  I don't care."  Draco snickered.  "I'm also not inviting Merklie."

"He's probably a fun drunk."

"We'll have chaperones."

"Who?" he demanded.

"Potter's guardians and father."  He looked at him and sighed.  "What is their fight about?"

"My father said Black and Lupin used to prank Professor Snape all the time in school."

"Oh, wonderful.  So someday yours and Ron's kids will go through this?"  Draco nodded, smirking even more evilly.  "Fine.  Whatever.  How are we doing the invitations?"

"Mother said she could send them out once she got the list back. Did you want to add anything?"  Alex went back to the list, adding some food he knew the kids would like more, crossing off some others.  He also added a note to put out some board games and other non- kiddy games.  He went back over the guest list, then the list after that.  He made a few notes and handed it back.  "There.  Send it back.  Remind her I'd like to never see Pansy ever again."

"Sure."  He grinned and tucked it into his bag.  "How is teaching the gutterrats going?"

"Harry's learning pretty quickly.  I go over each one, lead him to practice it.  He does it and then we move on."  He shrugged, then leaned forward.  "Do we think Lockhart will be here next year?"

"I doubt it," Draco assured him.  He looked behind them.  "Shit."  He pulled his book over.  "Okay, what are we doing?"

"Um, more for defense, or are we working on the private research?"  He felt a small, cold hand touch his ear and batted at it, turning, intending fully to punch that person out.  He saw it was Pansy.  "Don't do that.  I don't want to be touched."

"You never used to mind," she cooed.

"Yeah, and I used to like you before you quit protesting the stupid arranged marriage.  It's not happening.  I hate girls.  I have hated girls. I will probably always hate girls.  Unfortunately you're a girl."  She giggled and nodded.  "By the way, did you know your mum wrote in a clause saying you'd be my broodmare when I broke the arrangement?"

"No."  He nodded.  "For what?"

"At least one child."

She rolled her eyes.  "Mummy always thinks about the future," she reminded him.  "So what's this I hear about a party?"

"Just a few friends," Draco told her. "Nothing's concrete yet.  Mother's helping him plan it."

"Fine.  I'll expect my invitation soon then.  That way I have time to shop."  She walked off.  Alex leaned over to take the list back, fully blacking out her name and writing at the top 'casual, non-uniform clothes'.  Then he handed it back and shuddered.

"She'll be disappointed."

"I don't care," Alex mouthed.  He got to work on his files.  Draco saw something and took it, looking in his folder.  "Asking is nice."

"I haven't seen any since that first class," he defended.  "Besides, I hear you got me as well as Weasley.  Why I don't know."  He found his last one and looked at it, then at Alex.  "Where was I?" he asked.  Alex just grinned and didn't say anything.  "Alex!"

"Nope.  You can guess."

"Was I in the common room?"  Alex shook his head.  "Then where was I sleeping like that?"  Alex pointed across the library.  "When was I sleeping over there?"

"Two nights ago."  Alex went back to his book. "Why am I doing all this studying again?"

"Because otherwise your father will get quite upset and we'd have to listen to it."

"Point."  Alex sighed and closed his books.  "I'm bored, Draco."  Draco looked over top of the pictures to look at him.  "What?"

"How can you be bored?"

"I am."  He took his folder back, tucking everything back inside.  "Lockhart said they were decent."

"They are.  You still need some teaching in the formal art skills," he noted patiently at the happy grin.  "You've still got a problem of perspective and shading.  We really should have an art class here.  With as many paintings as we have, someone's got to do it."

"Maybe as a higher elective," he sighed.

"I'd hope so.  What are you taking?"

"Astronomy and muggle studies if they're offering them.  If not, probably divination."


"Sorry, but they're easy and I've already had enough of the other two."

"Still, Alex, you could be so much more," Draco noted.  Alex gave him a long look.  "What?"

"You sounded like your mum complaining about your grades."

"My grades were fantastic last year," Draco said smugly. "You're the one who nearly flunked herbology.  If you remember, she was complaining about *your* grades."  Alex snorted and shook his head.  "What will your father say?"

"Draco, I didn't have him for eleven years.  It's too late for him to really become Super Daddy over my grades," he told him.  He sighed and slumped a bit, looking at his friend. "I respect my father and I like him a lot.  I want to get to know him a lot better.  I don't want to impinge on his free time.  I don't want to obligate him just because I suddenly found out.  Hell, I told him earlier to take a vacation over the first part of the holiday, that way he doesn't have to worry about me."

"I worry about you," Draco said quietly. "You're rattling in that dratted manor house and who knows what you'll do if you're suddenly *bored* again."

"Harry made the house elves poke me," he said grimly, smirk just hinted at.  "He told them I might get into 'stupid boy stuff'.   Twirly pokes me if I don't eat.  Gibbons pokes me if I stay outside too long.  Marsette pokes me if I nap too long."  Draco snickered, leaning back in his chair.  "It's not funny!  Twirly thinks the house elves here don't feed me!  She kept going on about how they don't feed me enough and I'm too skinny!"  The librarian gave him a look.  "He's worried about me being home alone."

"I'd worry about you as well," she assured him.  "Please be more quiet, boys."

"Yes, Madam Pince," Alex sighed, shaking his head.  He looked at his friend.  "Seriously.  I called Twirly up one night because I wanted a snack.  She came over with a full meal and fed Harry too.  She kept going on about how the house elves here don't feed me enough."

Draco shook his head, smirking at his buddy.  "You're insane, Alex.  You don't have to let them boss you around."

"It makes them happy and they deserve it with how long they served Grams.  So what if I get poked to get woken up.  I'm fine with it most of the time.  And the rest I growl.  They come back in half an hour.  It's like a snooze button."

Draco cackled, putting his head down, shaking it on his arms on top of the table.

Harry walked over, looking at them.  "Told him about the meal?"

"About being poked."  He poked Harry.  "I don't get into stupid boy trouble.  I get into smart boy trouble.  You'll have to correct that this summer."

Harry smirked a bit.  "I'm sure I will," he said smugly, slapping Draco across the back of the head before walking off.

"Did he just touch me!" he said, sneering at Potter's back.  "I'll have to get him for messing up my hair."

"Draco, love, your hair?  It could use some messing up.  It looks really stiff tonight.  It didn't shift when he hit you.  Did you use glue?"  Draco glared at him.  "Seriously!  It looks like it."  Draco pulled out a mirror to check his hair.  "And they say I'm gay," he said dryly.

Draco snorted but put back his mirror.  "A Malfoy must always be conscious of how he appears to others.  Does it really look that bad?"  Alex nodded.  "Bloody hell.  I should go fix that."

"Wash it.  Leave it down.  Does it still curl around your ears?"

"Why do you think I put it up?" he asked grimly.  "I look like a girl."

"Soon, none of us will be confused with girls," Alex sighed, looking at his arms. "I don't want to be bigger than Vince and Greg."

"I doubt you will be.  Your father is fairly thin.  The only portrait I've seen of your mother showed her being fairly slim as well.  Neither of us will ever be the biggest boys in the class, just the strongest mentally."  Alex nodded, accepting that.  "Now, back to work before I figure out how to turn you into a troll."

"Ewww, drool."

"Yes, and remember, one drooled quite well on Granger."

"Harry's wand got stuck up his nose," Alex offered with a grin.

"Eww.  How long did it take him to clean it?"

"He was doing that by the time they got back to the tower."  He grinned at his other friends, then at Draco.  "I need to know that you won't cause shit when they come over.  Harry and his guardians are going to be watching me for about a week if my plans are followed."

Draco looked at him.  "Fine. For that night, we'll have a truce."  Alex grinned, a gentle, loving grin.  Draco knew why the girls sighed over him now.  "I'll behave and so will the others."

"Thanks, Draco.  It means a lot to me."  He patted him on the hand.  "When am I going to try the fuzzy thing dream again?"

"Next week good for you?"

"Not on Halloween."

"No, not after the feast.  You'll become some odd piece of candy as a nightmare."  He grabbed the folder and looked at that picture again, frowning a bit.  "I'd say it was a wolf, but that stretched out body isn't."  Alex sighed and nodded.  "You need mental glasses."

"Granger said I should get my eyes checked when I complained about the sunlight."

"You needed to be born a vampire, Alex," Draco said, rolling his eyes.  "I'll brew it for that Sunday.  All right?"  Alex nodded.  "Good.  Now let's get back to work."  They got back to their individual research for defense.  That way they could goof off during that period.


Harry looked up from reading his morning mail, smiling at Alex.  "Sirius wasn't too thrilled about your idea but he said it was true, your house is bigger.  He also said it'd be fine and he'd be writing Snape in a few days to assure him they'd take good care of you."

"Sure."  Alex sat down and the plate of bacon was pushed down.  He grimaced.  "I'm not in the mood for bacon."  Harry felt his head so he ducked away. "I'm fine!"

"Are you possessed?  You've eaten bacon every single morning, even the ones you were sick."  Harry stared at him.  "You really are sick, aren't you?"  He nodded.  "What's wrong? Your stomach?"

"Headaches.  Strange dreams all night.  A small redheaded bird in farmer clothes."  He shuddered.  "I don't know what's going on."  He sipped some juice but it wasn't helping. "I'd ask to miss this morning but it's my two weakest subjects."

"Go," Harry ordered.  "Or else I'll tell your father."


"Professor Snape?" Harry called. The man in question looked down.  "Alex can't eat.  He said he won't go to the infirmary."

"Alexander," he called, motioning the boy up to him.  Alex trudged and he leaned over to test his forehead.  "You're not warm.  What happened last night?"

"Odd dreams. Some redheaded little bint in farmer's clothes.  A dark haired boy.  I'm not sure what."

Severus looked at him.  "I'll tell Poppy to knock you out.  Head up there."

"It's Herbology and Creatures today."

"I don't care.  Your health is more important," he said quietly.  "Go now, before I have to get mean and assign you another paper."  Alex sighed and grabbed his bag on the way past.  He watched his son trudge, not something he usually did.  "Mr. Potter?"  He looked over. "Come here."  He came over, handing over the letter he had gotten from Sirius and Remus.  He read it, then nodded.  "That's fine.  Tell the teachers he's in the infirmary until we find out what these dreams are about."  Harry nodded, taking the letter back and heading back to his seat.  Severus considered it, then sighed and made a decision.  He went to call Poppy from his office and tell her what his son had said, then went to floo call the annoying duo who watched over Potter.  He knew they were somehow involved, even if he wasn't sure why he knew. "Remus Lupin," he ground out.  His head popped up and he got an irritating grin. "Don't.  Why is my son having dreams about another life?"

"I don't know.  Why would he?"

"His grandmother pressed him about a hellmouth.  He's had a few of these.  He couldn't even eat this morning."

Sirius' head popped into the fireplace.  "I know why, Severus.  I'll try to contact someone about it and help him."

He knew it!  They had somehow managed to harm his son like they had him.  "What is going on?  I can make such calls about my own son."

Sirius looked at Remus, then around the office.  "Shut the door and do a silencing charm.  He's not allowed to hear."  Severus waved his wand and both were accomplished.  "Alexander used to live on the Hellmouth," he said quietly.  "He gave up his life in a sacrifice to come over here and change things.  I... I made a wish to save what little was left of Harry's childhood," he admitted quietly.  "Halfrek came to me in Azkaban.  She said he used to be part of the team over on the Hellmouth, the power behind them.  It saved both their childhoods to be put together."  Snape's face tightened at that.  "That's his last life, which she let slip might be running currently with this one.  If you want, I'll try to get her again."

Halfrek appeared, fluffing out her hair.  "Not an issue, sweetie. I'm here."  She smiled at him.  Then at Severus.  "You can't tell him.  If you do, the wish unravels and he'll end up going back there.  They've accepted him as dead when he gives himself up in the sacrifice."

"To what rite?" Severus asked, his knuckles white where he was squeezing his hands together.

"No rite.  I asked.  He volunteered to save his friends there."

"He keeps seeing a redhead and a young brunette male."

"His former best friends."  She leaned over and gifted him with the knowledge he wanted.  "He cannot know unless you want to lose him to the Hellmouth to fight their battles.  Which would mean that the Hellgoddess coming would show up.  This way, she can't.  Nor can the First Evil.  He sacrificed himself to save humanity, Severus."

"Then you need to reinforce the memory charm."

"Perhaps," she said with a smile.  "I can check. It could be leakage since they're running at the same time.  If so, they'll stop when he's twenty-one."  He bowed his head, nodding.  "It was his choice, Severus.  He pushed his redheaded witch friend out of the way.  He pushed his friend, the slayer, out of the way.  He pushed his former girlfriend, who was one of us, out of the way, to do this for everyone.  He was a generous and caring soul who had a bad rap back there in his childhood.  Here it wasn't any better, but you managed to save what was left of it, and he managed to save Potter's.  Together they're getting to be normal boys again."  He looked up and nodded, lips pressed together.  "You cannot tell him either.  If you do, you will lose him in the fight against either Gloriificus or the First Evil.  He's not as he was then.  He's more skilled now, but more knowledgeable about the horrors of combat then.  The two mentalities won't meet. They can't meet or time will warp and all the bad will come back into your world as well."

"He's not coming back?" he asked quietly.

"He'll try, but your son guards Mr. Potter.  Xander was never as happy as when he was staking vampires or having someone to protect and guard.  At first, it was Willow and Jesse.  They protected each other.  He had true friends but a miserable life.  This time he had a miserable life for a bit, but it's been fixed and he's happier now.  He's got real friends who will stand beside him."  Severus looked at him.  "Now, what might be harming this? I can hear something?"

"He's trying for animagus," he said quietly.  "He started to become a wolf but something was warping it."

"Xander was possessed by a hyena," she said thoughtfully.  "I'll make sure when I enforce the mental shields between the two.  Remember, he cannot know or else all the bad comes back and he'll be back there helping.  Two Xanders the world can't stand.  Time will warp and the bad will happen."

"You let him be tortured."

"Only in theory," she offered with a smile.  "I muted it when I could, Severus.  I protect that boy.  Yeah, he had it bad until she died.  You've got seven years to help him be a happy, normal boy."  She reached over to caress his cheek.  "Even after all that's happened, he's happier now than he ever was there.  It's up to you to make sure of it.  The same way those two make sure Harry's now happier than he had been.  A lot of similarities.  Xander and Harry had the same sort of upbringing, though Xander never got stuck in a cupboard under the stairs.  Otherwise, very similar."  Severus shuddered.  She smiled.  "He'll be fine.  He's resilient.  He was the better choice, Severus.  They'll protect each other."

"They'll end up together?"

She chuckled and shook her head.  "No, Alexander needs someone more tolerant than Harry can ever be.  Someone who has a stable home and wants to stay home more often.  Harry's got a bright future in the big leagues.  Alex needs someone more comfortable with the richness that's his.  By the way, did you know his paternal grandmother?"  She winked and faded out, heading up to the infirmary.  She found the nurse watching her patient.  "Move," she said calmly.  The nurse stared at her, reaching for her wand.  "Don't.  There's a reason for the dreams.  I'm here to stop them.  They're radiating from another life of his.  I interfered in that one.  I can fix this one."  Alex opened his eyes and blinked at her.  "I cannot tell your or many bad things could happen."

"To me?"

"To everyone, Alexander.  Know that your choice was made to spare everyone pain. That's why you were granted this second chance."  She moved closer, laying a hand on his head.  She firmed the barriers, then added some new restrictions on them.  She smiled down at him.  "There, now not even the changing magics that surround you can harm you.  That's what started this bleeding through of the memories.  You're fine to do it now."

"Who are you?" he asked.

"I'm Halfrek, Vengeance Demon over Lost Childhoods."  He nodded, but he caught her hand.  "I cannot tell you about it.  No one may or else others will suffer a worse fate.  Humanity hangs in the balance," she said quietly.

"Then I won't ask.  What else could trigger it and how do I call you if they happen again?"

She smiled.  "I'll be watching.  I've been wandering around here now and then anyway to watch you and a few others."  She smiled more gently, motherly almost.  "You are the most special little boy, Alexander Birmingham.  I just wish she had named you a different name."

"Grams said something about a hellmouth."

She laid a finger over his lips.  "If you try to find out, humanity itself is lost, Alexander."  He nodded, swallowing.  "You must never wonder, not even for a day."

"I'll try."

She smiled, nodding.  "I know you will.  For now, rest.  This will be as a dream when you wake up.  Those who know what's going on, like your father, can't tell you either."  He nodded, flipping onto his side.  "Good boy.  You rest.  The headache will leave soon.  It's all over with, my special little boy."  She crooned him back to sleep, moving the blankets to tuck him back in further.  She looked at the nurse, and the headmaster behind her, and the other person walking in.  She created a card and handed it to the nurse.  "Should they start coming back, call upon me by name, under the moon.  I like to work at night."  The nurse nodded, tucking it into the file.  "The rest of you may not wonder either.  I wasn't kidding. Humanity will wither and die if he remembers.  He is the key and the protector of the savior.  Leave him be.  Permanently."  The Ministry person nodded quickly, bowing to her.  "For your information, Headmaster, just because you're thinking it, I've been here many times.  I'm the Patron Saint of Lost Childhoods.  Someone called on me about his."  He nodded, looking very grave and serious.  "I'm not kidding.  If he knows, you'll lose him and therefore lose to the darkness he can defeat.  He protects the protector.  He alone keeps the darkness at bay.  His last life was a sacrifice and this one was better once he got his letter.  Therefore you'll leave him alone. He's perfectly safe.  He could never go dark.  His soul may radiate darkness but not evil.  I cried over his last life and this one.  I won't let others cry."

"Then we're to keep him and Harry Potter together?" the nurse asked.

Halfrek smiled.  "Not just him, but yes.  When the time comes, don't stop him from saving Harry.  He's already got a good hand at that. Until that year, all the rest are practice runs."  They all nodded.  "So let's let the poor baby sleep, people.  He needs it.  By the way, tell whoever is guiding his transformation that he'll be fine.  I shored the barrier between his last life and this one so it wouldn't matter.  He's a go and he'll be a very cute wolf."  She winked and left.

Dumbeldore looked back at the Ministry person.  "Did you take that down?"

"No, but I remember it well enough," she offered.  "I'll go spread that around the office."  She disappeared through the floo in the infirmary.

Dumbledore looked at the nurse.  "You trust her?"

Madam Pomfrey nodded, hands clenched together.  "I've seen her before, Albus.  She does protect children.  If she's protecting this one, there's a reason.  A good one.  You won't have to worry about him ever again."  Draco walked in.  "Ill?"

"Checking on Alex.  I felt Halfrek."  He walked over and smoothed a hand over Alex's cheek.  "Greg called on her once about Alex's life," he said quietly.  "She told him it would be fixed when he got his special letter.  Then the world would be his and he could bask in the light."  He looked at Dumbledore.  "If you fuck this up for him I will have my father torture you until even your bones scream."  He looked at the nurse.  "What about his animagus stuff?"

"She said she firmed the barrier. It was his last life leaking through?"  Draco nodded.  "You know of this?"

"Yeah, his Grams got the book with the prophecy from our library.  I kindly threw it in the fire once I read that he couldn't know."  He looked at Alex again, then at her.  "If it happens again, Greg can reach her or I can I'm sure.  You won't have to if you feel odd about it.  We like Alex for who he is, evil bastard tendencies and all."  He pulled a stool over.  "I'm going to watch his sleep."

"Fine," she agreed, pulling the curtains.  She looked at the Headmaster.

"How did you know, Mr. Malfoy?"

"I felt her."  He sealed the curtains, locking them out for now.  He patted Alex's hand. "I'm here. You rest safe."

Dumbledore went back to his office to make note of this and send it on.  He also asked Madam Pince to send him any information she had on this demon.  He needed to know that she hadn't been spreading lies. If so that meant that Alexander was still dangerous to others, something he couldn't allow in the school.


Draco looked over as Alex joined him on the walkway, smiling at him. "Should I work on that potion anyway?"

"I'm a wolf."  He frowned a bit, blinking a few times.  "What happened earlier?"

"We had to block off some former memories.  You had a past life bleeding over because of the animagus stuff.  That's why you had the headaches.  Now they're sealed off and you're safe to continue."

"It's not that simple.  I remember a woman."  He leaned on the same railing.  "I remember her saying I couldn't ask because it would endanger everyone.  Something about me protecting someone.  That's the part I want back."

Draco looked at him.  "It's a natural function of who you are, Alex.  You already protect him and others.  It'll just be a moment for you to prove you protect him."  He nudged him with his shoulder. "It could be a lot worse."  Alex nodded, sighing a bit.  "I was there for most of it," he said gently.  "Do you trust me?"

"Usually," Alex agreed.

"Then trust me this time. You already protect him.  It'll be natural when the time comes for you to protect him once again.  Just be yourself, that's all we expect."

"Yeah, all but Dumbledore."

"He's an old wanker who can't see the real you."  He turned to look at his friend.  "Trust me.  She told him off too, told him you weren't dangerous.  By now, if he's as smart as some think, he's researched your visitor and seen that she wasn't lying."

"Who was she?"


"Over Childhood?"

"Lost Childhoods, Alex," he said gently.  He grinned suddenly.  "Maybe you'll get her part some day."

"No thanks."  He shook his head quickly.  "Too much responsibility."  He leaned again.  "I had a thought the other day.  If I end up teaching defense here, I might end up in line for the top seat."

Draco laughed.  "You as Headmaster?"  He cackled, shaking with laughter as he leaned against the wall.  "Oh, Dear Merlin and his balls!  You'd make a *horrible* headmaster, Alex!  You'd be responsible for teaching and running the students, plus punishing them!"  He laughed some more.  "You'd be a rotten creature!"

"At least I'd be pettable," he said dryly.

"True, you would be," he agreed, giving him a hug.  Then a slap on the back as he backed off.  "Okay, now what were we doing?"

"I wanted to try the spell."

"You don't want to wait?"

"No.  If it's that firm, it should hold.  If not, she's got to be hanging around."  Draco nodded at that.  "Should we go bug McGonagall?"

"We can," he admitted.  He checked his watch. "It's nearly curfew."

"It shouldn't take that long."  They walked down there together, him smiling at her. "I want to try the spell."

"That's getting a bit ahead of yourself, don't you think?"  He shook his head and sat down on a table, pulling his wand.  He started to chant the spell, closing his eyes.  She sucked on her top lip, watching him.  At first, nothing happened.  Longer than she remembered her first one taking.  Then he sighed and opened his eyes, and suddenly he was a wolf.

"I told you to lose the self control when you tried it," Draco said dryly, leaning on another desk.  He walked over, letting Alex sniff him before petting him.  "You're very soft.  You got your wish, mate."  He smiled at the teacher.  "He's very, very soft."

"I can see that."  She came over to stroke over his head, getting a lolling tongue and a wolfy grin.  "Change back, Alexander.  Let's make sure you can do it again."  He changed back, her hand still scratching behind his ear.  "Now down and back please."  He grinned and did it again, tipping his head to get more ear pets.  She chuckled and indulged him, then he changed back when the curfew bell rang.  "Good job," she said proudly.  "Ten points to Gryffindor and Slytherin for mastering this spell so young.  Even younger than Sirius Black and his group did."  Xander beamed shyly.  "Now, back to your dorms.  I'll excuse you both."  They left, heading back to their dorms. She smiled, Alex was such a good student at times!  Even if Draco Malfoy was a boil on the ass of magic, he appeared to care about Alex a lot.  Hopefully Alex could transform Draco as much as they had helped Alex transform.  She went back to her desk, making a note for her personal files.  She had known each and every animagus in this school, even the hidden ones.  She was very proud of this one.  The youngest ever.  She'd have to remind him to register himself.


Ron was woken up by a big tongue licking him.  "Eugggh!  Get off!"  He shoved at the beast, sitting up to stare at the gray wolf.  "How in the bloody hell did you get in here?"  He picked up his wand slowly and shot at Harry, waking him up with a yelp.  "Harry!  There's a wolf in here."

"Ron, you're not a pig," Neville complained sleepily.  "He can't blow your house down."  He sat up, rubbing his eyes.  "You weren't kidding!  Harry!"

Harry put on his glasses, looking at the wolf.  "Well, you said you wanted to be pettable," he noted calmly.

"Huh?" Neville asked.

"That's Alexander."  The wolf barked and scratched behind his ears, then tipped his head so Ron could pet him.  Ron reached carefully over and scratched his ear, getting happy growls and a wagging tail.  "Told you so."

"That's insane," Ron said, withdrawing his hand.  Alex growled.  "Hey!"  Alex changed back, grinning at him.  "You did it when?"

"Tonight," he said happily.  "I'm a furry!" he said happily.

"We'll pet you when you've been good," Harry teased, grinning at him.  "Congrats, Alex.  Now, can we sleep?  Before we're all grumpy tomorrow?"

"Sure!"  Alex got off Ron's bed and grinned at Neville.  "It wasn't really that hard."

"I'll take your notes tomorrow," Ron assured him, grinning at him.  "I'll even pet you during breaks if you're good and don't lose us a ton of points."  He laid back down, putting his wand beside him.  "Night, Alexander."

"Night," he called, closing his curtains and stripping off in there.  Within minutes there was snoring.

Neville grinned at them.  "He's stronger than we are."

"Much," Harry agreed with a grin.  "But I'm happy for him.  He's a cute wolf."  He laid back down, closing his curtains.  "Night, guys."

"Night, Harry," they chorused.  They shared a smile and went back to bed as well. It was really late.  Alex must have been getting petted by someone downstairs.

Up the hall, the twins were going over their notes for the transformation spell.  They wanted it so bad and it wasn't fair that Alex had done it when they hadn't.


Ron walked into breakfast the next morning, pointing behind him and looking at the head table.  "There's a petrified student out there?" he called.  "Finite didn't work."  McGonagall and the headmaster hurried out to check on her.  He went to the table, shaking his head.  "Really weird.  Totally stiff, like a statue."

"Hopefully they can deal with it," Alex said thoughtfully, eating a piece of bacon.  "Hey, Ron, did I have a funny patch of fur on my back?"

"A bit.  You needed brushed. You shed on my blanket."

"Sorry."  He grabbed a few more pieces then handed the plate down to him.  He shrugged it off.  "I'll figure it out later.  Something's knocking on the back of my head."

"Could that be the Herbology paper?" Ron suggested.  Alex shook his head.  "Did you actually do the herbology paper?"

"Sorta."  He grimaced a bit, then grinned at him.  "I wrote down what my tutor told me."

"Uh-huh.  How do you know he was doing it right?"

"He was writing his own paper at the time."  He beamed at his ingenious way of doing papers.  Then he dug into his breakfast. His father walked behind him, clapping him on the back.  "Hi."   He grinned at him.  "Am I in trouble?"

"No. Your last potions paper was on the subject it was supposed to be on. Why would you be?"

"Not real sure.  You don't usually give a 'good game' pat on the back."

"That was for last night, Alex."  Alex beamed at him.  "It was well done.  Congratulations.  I have those forms in my study as well as the ones about the marriage contract being broken."

"They were?"  He nodded.  "Thank you, Goddess!" he called, looking up.  He grinned at his father.  "Thanks."

"You're most welcome.  Sign them later."  He walked off, heading to help with the stunned student.  It was odd congratulating a Gryffindor, but he was his son.  He could do it for just that single one he supposed.

Alex had a smiling, happy day the rest of the day.  As a matter of fact, during their morning break, he pounced Draco outside, hugging him as he rode around on his back.  "It got broken!" he yelled happily.  "No more marriage contract!"

"Get off me!" Draco yelled, shoving him off and onto the ground, only getting laughs for it.  "Fine.  Congratulations and you probably wrinkled me all to hell and back," he complained, dusting himself off.  "Nasty bugger."

Alex flicked his wand.  Suddenly Draco's robes were very stiff with starch.  He couldn't really move they were so stiff.  He grinned.  "There, all pressed and neatly clean," he offered, getting up and running inside.

"I'll get you!" he yelled after him.  "Goyle, help me move my arm," he complained, trying to move it.  They helped him out of his robe, watching as it stood up on its own. "He'll pay for that."  He carried it inside, taking it to the Charms classroom since that was his next one anyway.  "How do I get the starch out?" he demanded.  "Birmingham was happy."

Flitwick smiled and shook his head. "It'll have to be washed first.  Once it's washed, it'll slowly lessen until it's fully unstarched.  It should be wearable after two washes."

"Thank you."   He sat down, sitting his robe next to him. The professor laughed and shook his head.  "His contract was broken," he said dryly.  "He pounced me and everything.

"At least you know when he's a happy young man."  He heard a whoop and a holler from outside, going to check on it.  "Who did that!" he yelled, getting out of the horse's way.  "Get off him!  He could be dangerous!"

"I'm trying to calm him down!  He's my boyfriend!" the girl on the back of the horse yelled.  "Help!  Rory, stop it!  Someone please change him back!  I can't get down!"

Professor McGonagall came rushing up to help Professor Flitwick clear the obstruction and change the poor boy back.  He came back to himself with his girlfriend on his back, clinging hard.  He was slowly turning purple with the way she was squeezing him.  "What is going on here?" she demanded.

"I don't know!  One minute I'm a boy and then I'm a horse and she's jumped on my back like it's some hunt event, and then I'm back as a boy," he gasped.

"Get off him!" Flitwick ordered, coming over to help her down.  He frowned at the blushing young woman once he had broken the charm on her to ride him.  "What happened?"

"Like he said!  There wasn't anyone nearby but he's suddenly a horse!"

"I'll never ride again," Rory complained, rubbing his lower back.  "That hurt!" he told his girlfriend.

"I was trying to calm you down!"

"Well, you didn't!"  He looked at the Transfiguration mistress.  "What caused it?"

"I'm not sure. I didn't take the time to examine the spell," she admitted.  "I'll call in the usual suspects and question them later.  That's a very hard charm and could have backfired horribly."  She walked him off, taking him to his next class so she could check him over on the way, his girlfriend following behind them.

Draco was snickering when the teacher came back, shaking his head.  "Alex has Potions if that helps. He wasn't anywhere near this hallway.  I did see those grubby, vile twins on the way in."

"That's a seventh year spell," he complained.  "I doubt either of the Weasley twins could do such a thing."  He frowned at him. "Five points off Slytherin for casting such aspersions on your fellow students, Mr. Malfoy."

"Fine," he said, going back to his chuckling in glee.

"Get settled in.  We have a lot to do today," Flitwick ordered.


McGonagall stared at the four students in front of her.  "Boys," she said, shaking her head.  "I can't prove it was one of you.  I do know it was one of you."  She looked them over again.  One Ravenclaw who wanted to be a prankster, but his usually backfired.  Alex Birmingham.  The Weasley twins.  "So why don't one of you do the mature thing and step forward?  Hmm?"  She looked at them all again.  "I know Mr. Chelsea and both of the twins had History of Magic, which was just down the hall from Charms.  Mr. Birmingham?"

"I had Potions. I only heard about it from the student who got caught behind it so therefore got counted as tardy," he defended.  "It was pretty cool.  Jumping on his back was the absolute most stupid thing to do."

"I'm not sure that wasn't part of the charm used," she said patiently.  "Boys?"  She stared down the twins.

"It wasn't us...."

"But it did give us a stupendous idea," the other twin finished

"Just what you needed," Mr. Chelsea said bitterly.  "Can I have you help me as well?"  They nodded, beaming at him.  "Where do you get your ideas?"  They both pointed at Alex. "Oh.  Really?"  Alex beamed and nodded.  "Can you help me?  My girl just dumped me."  Alex leaned over to whisper in his ear.  McGonagall cleared her throat.  He smiled. "Thank you, Mr. Birmingham.  I'll enjoy that immensely."  He looked at the twins.  "It was a frightfully hard charm.  Seventh year at least."  They both nodded.  They all looked at her.  "None of us are that good, Professor."

"Bull," she snorted, staring them down.  "I know very well Mr. Birmingham can and has done seventh year charms and transfiguration this year.  The same as I know the twins do."  She looked at him.  "You I might excuse since yours seem to go toes over tits."  He blushed and nodded.  "I'm not mad, boys, but that could have hurt him greatly."

"It still wasn't us," Alex pointed out. "Sorry, Professor.  Maybe he's got an enemy?  Is he maybe cheating on his girl or something?  I heard some girls saying stuff about her trying to ride him that way, being quite vulgar about it."

"No," she sighed, shaking her head.  "I'm sure it wasn't anyone other than someone in this room."

"Then did you do it, ma'am?" Alex asked with a grin.  "It was bloody genius if you did."  She stared him down.  "Well, you *were* a Gryff, therefore you've got to have a sense of humor sometimes."

"I have a very good one, Alexander," she assured him.  "I know it wasn't my doing.  The same as I know that it was most likely a male because of the imagery of the stallion."  She stared them down again.  "I had better not see another incidence like that while any of you are here," she said firmly.  "If I catch one of you doing something so harmful, I will harm you."  They all nodded.  "Dismissed."  She caught Alex, looking at him.  "Did you?" she asked once they were alone.

He shook his head.  "I was down hiding in the dungeons long before that happened.  But I really did hear some quite vulgar suggestions about her riding him that way."  He grinned.  "I'm off to get brushed.  Ron said I shed on his blankets last night."  He got free and headed up to the tower, catching up with the twins.  "Can I help?" he asked cheerfully. "I'm having a good day. The marriage contract got broken and everything!"

One of them turned and captured him, looking at him.  "Did you?" he asked.  Alex shook his head.  "You're sure?"

"Because we know it had to be someone pretty powerful.  Rory's no slouch at dueling in the halls," the other noted.

"Guys, I was in the dungeons long before that.  I starched Malfoy's robes to stiffness then ran."  That got a small grin.  "I promise, it wasn't me.  I swear it wasn't me."  They sighed and nodded.  "It was the seventh year boy in Hufflepuff who wanted to date her however."

They gaped.  "How did you know?"

"He was casting it as I ran past him.  I had to cast a shield against him accidentally hitting me.  You guys were only seven back from him in the halls.  I bumped around you two just in case Draco decided to blame you."

The twins both smiled.  "Good job," they assured him.  They walked him back into the tower.  Everyone stared.  "It wasn't us!" they said together.

"Or me," Alex assured them, grinning a bit.  "I know who but I don't nark."  That got a clap on the back.  "Ooh, guys, I need help being brushed.  Ron said I shed when I showed off."

"Ask Ronniekins," one said.

"He's in trouble anyway," the other said with a wink.

"Don't get Ron in trouble," Alex sighed. "Then I'll have to get involved."

"He's the one who's in detention for dueling outside of Defense," Harry said dryly.  "Mind if Ginny does it?"  Alex opened his mouth then shook his head.  "I promise she'll be nice.  Won't you?" he asked her.  She beamed and nodded.  "She wanted something to pet."

"I don't like girls.  Girls are bad."  He hurried up the stairs and locked himself in the bathroom before anyone could suggest another girl to help him.

"What I want to know is why he calls me Granger and her Ginny," Hermione complained.

"Easy, if he calls her Weasley, it'll get everyone's attention," Harry told her.  She sighed and rolled her eyes.  "Sorry, Ginny, I tried."

"That's okay.  Mum said it'd take time for him to like girls again."

"He's gay," Hermione told her.  "He'll be dating a nice wizard some year soon."

"He asked Ron, Malfoy, and Goyle to help him find one," Harry gossiped.  She shuddered.  "Well, the other two have been his friends for years."

"Yes, but that's still an odd combination."  She looked back at the twins.  "What did you get in punishment?"

"Nothing.  She can't prove it's us."  Percy glared at them so they grinned at him.

"She couldn't," the other twin assured him.  "Alex told us who it was."  They sat down at their usual spot to work on their new idea. It was a really good idea.


Alex stepped off the train, waving at Draco and Greg as they headed for their parents. He didn't go over there since Lucius was with Narcissa.  She smiled and came over anyway, hugging and kissing him on the cheek.  "Is it all ready?"

"It's perfectly done and all the invitations went out nearly a month ago," she promised.  "Did your friends get theirs?"  He nodded, grinning at her.  "Then don't worry so much.  It was really a grand idea to do them together so the parents wouldn't have to worry and some who weren't high enough could come to yours and chaperone."  He nodded.  "You behave.  I'll pop around tomorrow to check on the preparations the elves are doing."  She kissed him on the cheek again and headed off.

Alex smiled as Ron and Harry came off with Hermione right behind them.  "Everything's set for the party.  You guys are coming, right?"

"I'd better since I'm staying with you for a few days," Harry told him.  "Hermione?"

"Of course I'm going," she said, smiling at Alex.  She didn't want to be hexed again and if she was nice, maybe he'd fix the last one.  "Casual clothes?  Not a dress?"

"No, just regular off-hours stuff.  I know some of the kids will be dressed up by their parents but don't worry about it."

"Oh, Alex," Mrs. Parkinson called.

"Oh, fucking kill me now," he muttered.  He turned a totally fake smile on her.  "Yes, Mrs. Parkinson?"

"Oh, dear, call me mum."

"No, thank you.  I like boys.  I'm not marrying Pansy.  That's why I had the marriage contract broken."  Her smile slipped.  "I'm sorry, but it's not happening.  I'm not changing my mind.  I'd rather shag Hagrid than her.  At least he's got the right sort of equipment for my likes.  Unless you want to change your daughter into a boy?"  She shook her head and stomped off. "I'm sorry, but at least I'm honest," he called.  He let out a small sigh.  "I hate giving bad news."  He looked around.  "Harry, where are my guardian-in-laws?"

Harry laughed and pointed at someone.  "There's Sirius.  Ron, see you in a few days?"  Ron beamed and nodded, hurrying after his brothers.  Hermione kissed him on the cheek then left them alone as well.  He rolled his eyes.  "They think we'll get into so much trouble alone."

"We did pretty good last summer," he pointed out, following Harry over.  He grinned and shook Sirius' hand.  "Hi, I hear you're my guardian-in-laws."  That got a chuckle.  "We should head home before the house elves go nuts with the decorating.  Are we portkeying or what?"

"I thought a car."

"That's going to take hours," he noted.  Sirius shrugged.  "Sure.  We can do that."  He followed Harry out, smiling at the driver.  "Hello, mate.  Birmingham Hall is in Suffolk."  The driver nodded.  "Have a map already?"  That got another nod.  "You're really efficient.  Thank you."  He put his bag into the trunk and got in.  Harry and Sirius got in after him, Harry sitting next to him and Sirius on the other side.  Alex turned so he could look at them, leaning against the other door.  "Is Mr. Lupin already there?"

Sirius smiled.  "He's the one making sure the elves don't go nuts with the decorations."  Alex grinned at that.  "You're sure we're not an imposition?"

"No!  Not in the least.  After all, everyone thinks Harry and I get into trouble alone."

"We did good the two weeks they forgot about us last summer," Harry said with a wink at Sirius.  "Alexander here is the muse for the Weasley twins, who said they desperately wanted to meet you and Uncle Remus."

Sirius smiled.  "It's good when our plans and traits are carried on."

"Is he muggle?" Alex hissed.  Sirius shook his head. "Really?"

"Really.  What happened?"

"One of the seventh years turned the girl he wanted's boyfriend into a stallion and charmed her to jump onto his back and ride him," he said with a grin. Sirius howled with laughter.  "It blocked the halls for a good while.  We all got called down but she knew it wasn't us.  She couldn't prove it and wanted one of us to take the credit for it.  The next morning McGonagall said either someone took credit for it or she'd have to start taking off points from all the houses until someone did.  He finally stood up and admitted it.  She was quite shocked and he pleaded at the girl's feet until she walked off in a huff."

"It was cute," Harry agreed happily, nudging him.  "You forgot, she got him back later."

"Oh, yeah, made him lighter than air and left him in the main entryway, clinging to the ceiling and howling.  He was a bit scared of heights."  Sirius laughed, patting them both on the head.  "I can't say as I blame her."

"Some day you'll be like that over a girl," Sirius promised him, wiping his cheeks off.

"I like blokes, sorry, sir."

"It's Sirius, Alexander.  Can I call you Alex?"  He saw the hesitation.  "Ah, I heard you had a thing about your name.  I understand."  He patted the boy on the head, smiling.  "There's nothing wrong with liking boys.  Remus might get a bit upset if it's our Harry here, but he'd come around eventually."

"No, not Harry.  I'm sure he'll have a few quidditch groupies some year soon."  Harry blushed bright red and Alex snickered.  "If you flew like I did, you wouldn't have to worry about that."

"I can't fly upside down, I'd get dizzy," he complained.

"Upside down?" Sirius asked.  Alex sighed and nodded.  "Poor thing.  Bad ears?"

"No, just bad on a broom.  I suck at flying and planning.  That's why I let Auntie Narcissa plan the party for me.  She thought it'd be great so none of the younger kids would have to be entertained or be sulking in the corners.  She thinks we should do this until our fifth year."

"Wonderful," Sirius agreed.  "Let's see how this year goes first."

"Oh, there'll be problems.  Parkinson wanted to know why I didn't invite her daughter."

"Because you don't want her to try to cling to you again?" Harry suggested.

"You heard me, I was honest.  I gave her the minor reason I had the stupid contract Grams did broken.  If she's upset that I was honest, that's her problem.  Even if I liked girls I couldn't stand Pansy.  She wants to be the next wife of the Dark Lord.  More power to her in my opinion but it won't be me playing Dark Lord for her."

"You couldn't anyway," Sirius said.  Harry nodded.  "He can?"  Harry and Alex both nodded.  "Why?"

"Because Grams was like that," Alex said simply.  "Good thing she's dead, huh?"  Sirius nodded quickly.  "Old bitch used to torture me by making me read books for weeks on end under the Imperious.  Then Fudge said she's a nice and gentle woman after she died."  Harry snorted, shaking his head.  "Anyway, she thought Pansy was like her, so therefore I should get saddled with her clone when I finally got hitched."

"It's a good thing you never got forced to do the blood binding," Harry told him.

"You can't do it under control. It has to be voluntary and she knew nothing in the world would make me do that.  She even tried threatening the house elves and that didn't work.  She gave up after that and filed it, hoping I wouldn't realize it could be broken.  Pity, but she's the one who made me read the law books."

"You seem like a very interesting young man, Alexander."  Sirius smiled at him.  "I look forward to getting to know my godson's given child."  Alex grinned at that.  "Doesn't that make you feel odd?"

"Yeah, but his Grams decided it'd give the other former Death Eaters more access to us," Harry told him.  "Boy was she wrong."  Sirius ruffled his hair.  "Sirius, we need to get Alex's eyes checked.  Hermione made me promise to get him to an eye doctor."  Alex sighed and flopped backward. "Lock the door, Alex.  We don't need to scrape you off the road."  Alex locked the door, giving him a 'there, happy' look. "Thanks."  He looked at his godfather again.  "She said she caught him squinting."

"It was itty, bitty type," he complained.

"Still, it's a good thing to have done," Sirius offered.  "We can go when we get you shirts that fit."  Alex looked at his shirt and jacket, then nodded quickly.  "I remember those growth spurts.  I had to have stuff fitted six different times in a year."  Both boys gaped at him.  "Really.  I used to be really short and skinny.  Mum hated that I shot up like that."

"I'll try to avoid that," Alex promised.

"Don't.  It's a normal part of growing up.  Like the balance issues you'll have."

"No, not me.  Harry.  Either that or it was where he fell off his broom the last time and Lockhart took out the bones in his arm."

"He did what?"

"He was trying to help," Harry said dryly, looking at him.  "That man is the most ineffectual teacher."

"He's a poser.  He's got a gift for theatrics and only some girls are still stunned by it.  Hell, Harry and I are in a special research class so he doesn't have to deal with our snorts of disbelief.  I mean, seriously.  His first quiz, the first class, had a question that asked his favorite color."  Sirius groaned, shaking his head.  "So I've taken the duty of teaching Defense to Harry, Hermione, and Ron."

"You're what?" Sirius demanded.  "You're...."

"Well trained," Harry told him.  "She made him read her old textbooks and she was the top person in Voldemort's reign of terror."

"She was?" he asked.  Alex nodded.  "So you learned...."

"By it being used on me," he admitted dryly, smirking a bit.  "You have nothing to fear from me unless you make me your enemy, Sirius Black.  You never have."  Sirius swallowed and nodded.  "With that said, Dumbledore keeps trying my patience.  Earlier this year he accused me of charming a plant to intentionally cause harm."

"At least Neville stopped you before you challenged him," Harry said, patting him on the knee.

"Yeah, and then Dad had Draco take me to vent on the pitch. Otherwise there'd be a big smoking hole in the tower by now."  Harry nodded at that.

"Why doesn't he like you?" Sirius asked cautiously.

"Something about a prophecy and our birthdays," Harry told him.  "We can't find out what.  Even writing the Ministry directly didn't get us any help.  He's blocked information and access to it.  He's been trying since day one.  He tried to have Alexander put in Hufflepuff so we'd never meet and get on."

"Bloody hell," Sirius muttered.

"Exactly.  Then again, I told my dad time and again about what was going on so he knows. He knows everything about what's going on."  Harry nodded at that too.  "Did he corner you about something?"

"No.  He cornered Draco the day you had the last really bad headache."

"Draco told me."

"You and Malfoy are...."

"Friends," Alex supplied.  "We've been friends now for years.  Auntie Narcissa helped me many times to heal, and even tried to get Grams to give me to her.  Didn't work, but she tried awfully hard.  I love those two.  Lucius and I are going to have a duel some day and I'll make sure he suffers a lot for all the people he's killed, including my mum."

"You're sure it's him?" Harry asked.  Alex nodded. "How?"

"A few random facts that got fed back to me by Gringotts and the like," he admitted.  "Speaking of, remind me.  Draco said something about my paternal grandmother?"

"Delores Markham," Sirius told him.  "It's a small pureblood world in the UK."

"It is," Alex agreed.  "Did she die?"  He nodded.  "Pity.  I never met the woman."

"Your dad was her only child and you're the only child left in the line."

"Ah.  No wonder.  I'll call them tomorrow or the next day," he decided.  "Remind me, Harry?"

"Sure, Alexander."  He grinned at him.  "What are we doing for fun at the party?"

"Some board games.  Some muggle, some not.  Food, punch, some music.  The usual party stuff."  Harry raised a brow.  "Don't worry, you and Ron can hang all night. It'll be cool."

"Thanks," he said quietly.

"What about your birthday this year, Harry?  Did you want a party?" Sirius asked.  "Remus wanted to know."

"I...."  Harry shrugged finally.  "I have no idea.  Being the center of attention annoys and frustrates me, Uncle Sirius.  I don't like to be stared at."

"Hermione or someone suggested we do a joint one.  I told them I'd decide on that about Easter," Alex promised him. Harry beamed at him.  "That way we don't *have* to.  Besides, my last birthday party was ages ago.  It was more one of her get-togethers than my birthday party.  Fortunately for her since Auntie Narcissa stayed over that night."  Harry squeezed his hand.  "Sorry.  Draco got royally sick all over me at the party," he told them.  "He had gotten into the whiskey stash and had guzzled a good bit.  Auntie Narcissa was even less pleased than my Grams."  Harry snickered.  "Remember, we have a truce, Harry."

"I remember.  I won't hex Malfoy or his crew unless he tries something."

"Thank you."

"Ehh, I can't understand how you're friends with Malfoy," he said dryly.  "I can't see how anyone can be friends with him.  You, I like differently.  You're neat when you're calm and bouncing."  Alex grinned at that.  "Just promise to duck Ginny.  She's got a wicked crush on me and you now too."

"Ginny wants to see you two together?" Sirius asked.

Alex nodded.  "Definitely.  She's of the opnion I'll start to like girls if I'm healed and touched tenderly and softly," he sighed, putting a hand over his heart.  "All bullshit of course," he finished dryly, smirking at him.  "I have a better chance of bedding Draco than I do her and he's been sworn to have an heir some year."

"To some people, bloodlines are important," Sirius said patiently.

"Yeah, but I doubt Lucius really wants Draco to have a son.  That means he gets pushed out of the limelight."

"Knowing Lucius, it'd take a few before one stayed alive," he said bitterly.

"Then you were in school with my mum and Professor Snape?"

"Yeah, we used to torture him all the time."

"I heard that," he admitted.  "Do you remember my mum?"

"Somewhat.  She was a year behind us," he admitted.  "She was a pretty girl.  Fairly smart and quiet until you upset her."  He looked at the boy.  "You look a lot like her, more than you do your father really."  He considered it.  "Remus might remember more about her.  He tutored her in Charms I think."  Alex beamed at that.  "You can ask him when we get home."  He hugged Harry hard. "I missed you, Harry."

"I missed you too, but I'd like to not be squished," he complained jokingly.  Sirius let him go with a chuckle and another fond pat.  "Why can't we turn the car into a portkey?"

"I suppose we could," he admitted.  "I thought I'd give you two time to calm down after the train ride.  We'd catch dinner about halfway there."  Alex nodded.  "Done that before?"

"Last year Dad took me home.  We flooed."

"That is usually faster," he agreed.  "I hope you don't mind, Remus was in the library and he found a few of her books, and sat down to read them.  Remus is excellent in Defense."

"Not a problem.  I learned from them too," he promised with a grin.  "Harry, remember, we've got to do the electives after the hols."

"I remember," he complained.  He looked at Sirius.  "I don't want to take more classes."

"It'll be fine," he promised him.  "What are you thinking about?"

"Divination is supposed to be pretty easy."

"It is. You're only going to take one?"

"I don't need that much more homework."

"Hey!  McGonagall didn't say we could only take one," he complained.

"You can, but it's a loophole in the rules," Sirius told him.  "What were you planning, Alexander?"

"I was thinking Astronomy if they offer it as a continued course and muggle studies."  Sirius looked shocked.  "It's easy and not a lot of homework.  Just what I want.  I hate books."

Sirius smiled.  "You'll get over that some day."

"No I won't."  He shook his head.  "I can't stand books."

"Most of the teachers don't expect him to do homework.  Most of them know he's a practical application person and he's told them all he could care less about his grades.  As long as he can do the work, they figure it's enough until OWLs."

"Not really," Sirius complained.  "Doesn't your father complain about your grades?"

"Some.  He'd like it if I could get past that problem with books too.  Then again, he understands."  He nudged Harry.  "Did you notice he never used to make it specific on the papers?"

"I did, until about our third one.  Why would that be?" Harry asked, smirking at him.

"Because I was writing up what happened not what it was supposed to be.  He was amused."

"I'd be amused too," Harry assured him.  "You're not right in the head, Alex.  You're a very funny little boy."  He patted him on the knee again.  "When I have kids, I'll make sure they're all good and right in the head and if you find out they're not, I'll correct it before they get as far as you are."  Alex burst out laughing, snickering against his shoulder.  He reached over to pat him on the head.  "It's all right.  We all know you're odd.  Let's hope your elves have a lot of bacon handy."

"They kept asking us if we wanted bacon," Sirius offered.  "Why?"

"It's one of the few things he'll almost always eat," Harry told him.  "When he walks in, it's what's passed to him first every morning.  We worry when he's not had bacon, he's obviously ill."

Sirius smiled and nodded.  "Some boys are like that. I've got to say, your elves are very good cooks."

"Who poke me because of Harry," Alex said, grinning over at him.  "He said I'd get into stupid boy stuff so they poke me if I nap too long or if I'm outside too long or if I don't eat enough.  Twirly is the food demon in the house.  She will refill my plate until I'm sick if I don't stop her."

"All I told her was you needed to eat, that you only nibbled the day before," Harry said, holding up a hand.  "I'm a good boy.  I did not get her to poke you or go off on the school's elves because she thought you had lost weight."

"She thinks he lost weight at the school?" Sirius asked.  Harry nodded.  "Why?"

"Part of the growth spurt probably.  His pants were a bit loose but too short when he came home for the summer.  All his gut went down his legs to make his feet grow too."  Alex snorted, rolling his eyes.  "She goes off on the school's elves.  Calls them stupid and lazy.  He even brought her over to feed him a snack earlier this term.  She went off in the common room about the elves.  She fed me too."

"She still feeds me all the time," Alex told him.  "That's where that black forest cake came from."  Harry grinned at him.  "It's a shame Ron ate it all."  Harry nodded, sighing.  "We'll have to tell her that Ron's being starved too."

"She might go to the Burrow and cook for him. Mrs. Weasley wouldn't be very impressed."

"True," Alex agreed, thinking about it.  "Well, we can always make sure that she knows his mum cooks well enough, just not the school's elves."

"Don't you sneak down to get food from the kitchen?"

"We're growing boys.  The last time Alex did that he ate about a dozen hard boiled eggs," Harry complained.  "Farted all night."

"Sorry," Alex said, totally unrepentant. "The sad thing was I was still hungry after that."  Harry gaped at him.  "Sorry!"

"You must spend most of your trust in food," Harry said, shaking his head.

"All boys go through that," Sirius assured him, patting him on the shoulder.  "Your father and I used to decimate the kitchen about once a week during our growth spurts.  The others just stared in horror as we ate."  He smiled.  "Lily used to get on him all the time about how much he ate.  It was the running argument of their lives together."  Harry looked up at him.  Alex suddenly hugged him. "It's all right, Alexander."

"I like hearing about those things," Harry assured him, patting him a bit.  "Thanks though."

"Welcome.  I still think Granger's hex isn't funny."

"Hermione cursed him to be a hugger whenever someone gets mushy."

"I got her back through.  She didn't really like the neon, flashing hair that stood straight up."

"I wondered why she was wearing a hat at the station," Sirius admitted.

"It'll only work for ten minutes and then her hair'll pop it off and start to flash even brighter," Harry assured him with a grin.  "Ron and I hide while those two fight.  She's another who's bound and determined to prove to him not all women are evil."

"She's wrong and she's one of the most evil," Alex said firmly.  "She's an evil wench of torture just like Grams was.  Some day you'll see, Harry.  She'll be forcing knowledge on her kids too."

"Hopefully not the same way," Harry joked. "I'd hate to have to visit her in jail for an unforgivable."

"You and me both," Alex agreed. "But she'll be the same sort of torturing woman.  Just wait.  Ginny may be all sweetness and fluffy filling from a stuffed animal, but I doubt it'll last either.  Grams said puberty changed her into the torturing bitch she was."

"Puberty is where you start to become an adult, boys," Sirius said delicately.  They both looked confused.  "You know, things start to work?  That stuff?"  They both still looked clueless.  "We'll talk about it when we get home."  They all nodded, accepting that. He mentally moaned.  He didn't want to describe puberty to the boys.  Maybe Remus would.  He was a good teacher.


Remus smiled as the boys were led inside by Sirius, hugging Harry, then looking at Alex before hugging him.  "I'm glad you invited us over, Alexander.  Thank you so much."

"You're welcome.  This way you can see what a bad influence I am on Harry."  He beamed.  Twirly came out of the kitchen, already scowling at him.  "What?  We drove."

"You is being taking off the jackets," she ordered, tapping a foot on the floor.  Both boys took off their jackets.  "I knew it!  Twirly is knowing that those lazy elves is not be feeding  you properly!"  She drug them off by the hand, taking them to the dining room.

"We just ate an hour ago," Harry assured her.

She snorted. "Twirly is making you a dinner. You is sitting down and eating it or else she'll poke you like Twirly should those stupid, lazy elves at the school!"  She stomped into the kitchen and came back with sandwiches, fries, vegetable spears, and drinks for both of them.

"May I have some of the vegetable sticks?" Remus asked politely.  "If it's no trouble."

"Of course you is eating with the boys!" she said.  She went back to get them a snack too.  She poked her master and then Harry when they weren't eating.  "Twirly is saying you be eating or else."  She went back to the preparations.

"Auntie Narcissa is coming over either tomorrow or the next day to check on things," Alex called before digging in. Harry laughed.  "What?  I'm still hungry. Maybe if you'd eat you could grow some too."

"I'll grow when it's time," Harry assured him, but he did dig in, letting Sirius and Remus steal part of his extra dinner.  Twirly came back to check on them, poking him for letting Remus steal off his plate.  "Really, I just ate.  I'm not like Ron and Alexander.  Fortunately Ron went to his mum's so she can cook for him too."

"Lazy, stupid elves need beaten, Twirly will complain to McGonagall!  Fierce protector of the house, she'll beat stupid and lazy elves so her boys is being fed."  She poked Alex, even though his mouth was full.  "Master Alexander's room smells funny.  Do you want Marsette to air it out or Master Alexander sleep in guest room?"

"Go ahead and air it out," he offered, smiling at her. "Did I leave old food?"

"No, hidden socks.  Marsette is finding hiding socks and stinky stuff.  She is not happy and it is not making Gibbons or Twirly happy either."  She poked him again then went to give that message.

"I see what you meant in the car," Sirius offered, eating a bite of vegetable.   Remus looked at him. "Long and interesting talk.  Somehow Harry convinced her that Alexander would get into stupid boy stuff if they didn't watch him."

"You is better be eating!" Twirly called. "Twirly is making ice cream for dessert."

Alex finished off his plate and half of Harry's, then cleared his throat.  She came out with the ice cream, handing him the biggest one.  "Thanks, Twirly.  If you want to, you can talk to McGonagall about our diets.  I'm sure she'll be happy to help."

"Good!  She is being fierce protector and mother-like person.  She protect my stupid boys."  She patted them both and headed back into the kitchen.

A male house elf walked in and bowed, kissing Alex's hand.  "Master Alexander, Gibbons is finding all your old games and some is being missing stuff."

"Go ahead and buy new ones if it won't break the budget for the party," he said, patting him on the head.  He was an ancient house elf.  "Thank you for helping with this."

"Gibbons is proud to serve Master Alexander.  He is nicer and smarter than last Mistress."  He disappeared.

Alex popped his neck.  "I like praise," he said happily.  "Hey, Harry, can I get brushed again tonight?  My fur's still messy thanks to Draco."

"Sure," he said, grinning at him.

"You're... you're an animagus already?" Remus asked politely.

"A wolf. I figured out how to do it a few months back," he said happily. "I got bored."

"Keeping him entertained is a chore but most of us enjoy watching him go insane when he's bored," Harry told him.  "He gives the Weasley twins wonderful ideas when he's bored."

"What can I say, I make a good muse," Alex offered smugly.

"You are," Harry agreed.  "What're you doing your paper on for Defense?"

"Um, something harmless, but making it sound like a huge threat, so when he goes looking, people laugh at him like he deserves," Alex said before taking another bite of his ice cream.

"Who's teaching Defense?" Remus asked.

"Lockhart," the boys groaned in unison.

"Thankfully Alexander annoyed him enough that we've now got research time," Harry offered. "He's been teaching me from the real defense books in the library. He's pretty good.  He goes over each one with me until I get it, then we move on."

"Sorry I'm not such a theory person," Alex offered him.

"I didn't know you had such an interest in the field," Remus said happily.  "I'd have thought Potions with your father and mother."

"Do you remember her?  Sirius said you might."

"I do," he agreed.  "She was a wonderful young woman.  Always fairly shy but very smart.  She hid it behind her shyness but when you provoked her, the world might as well end until she got done with you.  She got us a few times for picking on your father, Alexander."  He grinned at him.  "I can share what I remember with you tomorrow if you want."

"Please.  Dad told me some, like how she used to always bake when she was thinking.  That's why Slytherin gained ten pounds her fifth year."  Both older boys chuckled and nodded.  "I'd appreciate that, thank you, Mr. Lupin."

"Call me Remus," he suggested, smiling at him.  "We can go over what you've been teaching Harry as well.   Perhaps teach him together over the holidays?"  Alex beamed and nodded, sitting up a bit straighter.  "Eat.  Before it melts."  Alex dug back in as only a young teenage boy could.

"He said we're his guardian-in-laws," Sirius said with a grin.

"It makes sense to us," Harry agreed between bites.  "Alex, where am I staying?"

"Probably the usual room.  Marsette?"  She appeared with a quiet 'pop'.  "Is Harry in the same room?"

"Marsette is putting Harry Potter in the blue room this time.  The other room sprung a leak last week.  Gibbons fixed it."  Alex nodded, smiling at her. "Marsette is airing out your room, Master Alexander.  Much stinkiness.  She is being cleaning it tomorrow.  Other two is being in the purple room."

"That's fine, thank you, Marseette. Did you get our stuff from the trunk?"  She nodded.  "All mine is too small again."

"Marsette is going with you to shop," she said with a frown.  "You boys is not being good about shopping alone.  Marsette is going with you tomorrow!"  She popped out to tell the other elves.

"They really are forceful," Remus offered.

"They are," Sirius agreed. "Harry convinced them he'd do stupid boy stuff."

"As did we at their age," Remus agreed with a smile for him. He grinned at the boys.  "Why don't you two finish up and head to bed?  We'll get you up at a respectable hour tomorrow."

"Not before ten," Alex moaned, finishing his ice cream.  "I'm done, thank you!" he called.  "Going to bed now!"  By the time he got up there, his windows were closed, his bed was warmed, and his pajamas were laid out for him.  He looked at the old things.  "They haven't fit since last year," he called.  He stripped down to his boxers and climbed into bed, putting his wand under his pillow.  The house elves came in to put up the pajamas, making notes about what he'd need to get.  They'd have to call the bank for him too.


Harry walked up behind his godparents the next morning, watching them watch him sleep.  "Take his wand," he advised.  They both stared at him. "Seriously.  It's a reflex now."  He looked around.  "Twirly?" he called quietly.  She popped in.  "Can you grab Alexander's wand so we can get him up?"

"Twirly is a house elf.  House elfs is not touching wands," she said firmly.  She looked at him.  "Master Alexander is being so peaceful for once.  No nightmares.  Oh, well."  She snapped her fingers and a loud noise went off beside the bed.  Alex just rolled over and pulled the covers back over his head.  "This is not being a good sign."

Remus smiled.  "Accio Alexander's wand," he called softly.  It landed in his hand. "Go for it, Harry.  Let's see a pro."

Harry snorted.  "Make sure I'm not too banged up later."  He ran in and pounced him, making the house elf scream in fear.  He grinned back at her then started to rudely shake Alex.  "Come on!  Time to get up!" he called loudly.  Alex pushed his face away.  Harry laughed and threw the blankets back, staring to bounce on the bed.

"Really, Potter, there's easier ways," Draco said from the other doorway.   "Mother brought me," he said smugly.  He shot a beam of heat at Alex's legs, making him shriek and flail, which knocked Harry onto the floor.  Alex glared and muttered, then pulled the covers over his head.  "Ah, one of those mornings."  He walked in and leaned down, whispering in his ear.  Alex whimpered so he continued until he got a grumbling, complaining, walking zombie headed for the bathroom.  "Twirly, Master Alexander is awake and headed for a bath, keep him up," he ordered.  She nodded, heading that way.  He smirked at Potter.  "How do you manage it most mornings?"

"We jump on him and make him wake up to knock us off," he said, sitting up.  "What did you say to him?"

Draco just smirked.  "He'd have to tell you that."  He looked at the other guests.  "Morning," he said politely.  "Twirly, is breakfast ready?"

"Misses Narcissa is having tea," she reported.  "Twirly is cooking bacon right now."

"Ah, yes, his drug of choice in the mornings," Draco said, heading that way.  "You might as well dress and join us.  We're going over the final plans for the party."  He walked into the dining room a few minutes later.  "Alex is in the bath."  He kissed her on the cheek before sitting down.  "He did shoot down Mrs.  Parkinson gently."


"By pointing out he liked boy wizards and not witches," he said delicately.

"Ah.  The honest approach."

"In part. In truth, Pansy reminds him of his grandmother.  She does me as well.  A manipulative little girl who likes to harm others."  He accepted his plate with a nod to his mother's.

"I only need toast, Draco.  Quit encouraging them to fatten us all up."

"Twirly is telling Mistress McGonagall that the school's elves are all stupid and lazy.  Master Alexander is being losing weight again.  They not feed him enough!" she said firmly, adding more toast to her plate.  She went back into the kitchen, coming out with plates for the rest.  Harry smiled as he came in.  He got the biggest plate and the other two seats from last night were plated as well.  Then she went to finish her master's food.  He was good to her and she would make sure he ate enough.  She brought out a plate when she heard him stumbling down the stairs, waiting for him to flop down before sticking the food in front of him, bacon and ham facing him.  He grunted and nodded so she got him some tea as well, patting him on the hand before leaving.

Alex slurped some tea, hissing a bit.  "Hot," he moaned.  He looked at his aunt.  "Hi, Auntie.  How is everything looking?"

"Just fine, dear.  Should I make sure Pansy comes to my event?"

"Please, Merlin, yes," he pleaded.  "She keeps telling everyone I'm going to be the next Dark Lord and that she'll be my wife."

"Have you told her no?"

"Repeatedly.  So has my father.  She refuses to listen.  That's why I'm snubbing her."

"Very well.  The World Cup is in two years.  Would you like to come with Draco and I, Alexander?"

"That depends, can you leave the blond appendage at home?"

"Which one?" Draco asked dryly.

"The other one with the penis, Draco.  You know who I'm talking about."

"Dear, eat more food and have more tea," Narcissa ordered gently.  He nodded and complied.  "Thank you, Alexander."  She smiled at him.  "I'll try but I can't promise.  Should we get you separate tickets?"

"Please," he agreed between bites.  Twirly came out and poked him.  "I'm eating!"

"Not fast enough.  More bacon is being in the kitchen when you need some."  He nodded, letting her refill his tea.  Then she bowed to Narcissa.  "Is Misess Narcissa needing anything?"

"No, Twirly, thank you anyway."  The house elf nodded and went back into the kitchen.  "They've gotten quite fierce since your grandmother died."

"Yeah, that's all Harry's fault," he said, grinning at Harry, who pinched him.  "Ow!"

"Be nicer or he'll have the twins prank you," Sirius teased.

"He already does," Harry complained, frowning at his friend.

"Fortunately not me yet," Draco said smugly.  "Otherwise we'd have to duel."

"And I'd still win, Draco.  Love, you know all I'd have to do is mess up your hair."  He grinned at him.

Narcissa coughed, hiding her smile.  "You're a very strong wizard, Alexander.  I'm sure you could find less tragic things to do to my baby boy."

Alex smirked. "Why?  That's not hard to put up with unless it's Granger's hair."

"I saw her hair.  Very amusing," she assured him with a smile.  "You?"  He nodded.  "Why?"

"She made me want to hug people when they get mushy."

"Ah.  A fate worse than death for a boy your age."

"Any boy of any age I'd say," Sirius joked, making her smile.  "Narcissa, how have you been?"

"Well enough," she admitted.  "Yourself?"

"Much better than I had been," he admitted, smiling at her.  "Where might your husband be?"

"Nope, sorry, he's mine," Alex said firmly.  "Even the aurors know he's mine for killing my mum." Narcissa looked shocked. He stared her down.  "He knows it too, Auntie.  I love you and Draco dearly and Draco is probably safe from me as long as he's like you."  She nodded, relaxing some.  "Unless someone tries to put me on that medicine again."  She nodded at that and he was sure no one would ever try it again if she had her way.

"Mother, Alexander has also asked me to help him find a boyfriend by fourth year.  Greg, myself, and for some odd reason Ron Weasley as well.  Do you know anyone suitable?"

"Only in Slytherin, my son," she promised, smoothing over his hair.  "I wish you would leave it down for a while."

"I like it pushed back, mum," he complained, frowning at her.  She sighed.

"It curls around his ears like a girl's."  Alex popped another piece of bacon into his mouth.  More appeared on his plate.  "I've got to eat the rest too," he complained.

"Dig in," Harry joked.  "She's determined you're going to gain weight."

"She's more than determined, she's stubborn," he complained, eating the fulling breakfast.  "What did I need to do today?"

"Talk to Gringotts about your paternal grandmother, get new clothes, make sure everything's set for the party," Harry replied.

"You make an admirable secretary," Draco joked.  His mother pinched him, frowning a bit.  "Sorry, mother, Alex."

"It's fine," Harry assured her.  "I'm used to him trying to pick on me. You really should get him some new material though.  It's getting repetitive.  My friends and I were looking forward to new insults this year."

"Harry," Alex complained.

"Don't worry, Potter, I've got some wonderful new insults for you. I'm sure it'll be quite fun when we get back."

"There is a truce on this house," Alex said firmly.  "The only person who gets to throw fits and beat people is me and Twirly.  Got it?"  Draco and Harry both nodded, leaving it there.  "Thank you!"  He looked at Narcissa, who was chuckling lightly.  He finished his breakfast, putting down his fork.  His house elf appeared.  "I'm stuffed," he said before she could suggest more food.  "Feed Remus, he looks hungry."  She handed the new bacon to Remus, who smiled and took it, sharing it between him and Sirius.  "Thank you, Twirly."

"Twirly or Marsette going with Master Alexander to visit bank and clothiers."

"I think I can handle it," he complained.  She poked him. He glared and she shrank a bit.  "I can do it.  I'm sure Harry wants the time to catch up and there's a lot to do for the party."  She nodded, heading back into the kitchen.  He shook his head.

"I have to go anyway," Draco assured him. "Mother?"

"I'll go with you boys so Lucius can hide in the study."  She smiled at Alex.  "You have grown."

"I'm trying hard not to get too big too fast," he offered with a cute grin.  "Sirius said he shot up six times in one year."

"I remember," she assured him, smiling at him then at Sirius.  "You should head to Gringotts then call us when you're done, Alexander."

"Sure, Auntie."

"Want me, Alex?  I know you hate paperwork."

"If your mum doesn't mind."  Narcisssa shook her head, handing over a vault key to him.  "Thanks, Auntie.  Harry, spend some time and wander.  There's a great spot out near the gazebo.  It overlooks some of the minor hills we have around here. If the neighbor's cows are in the right field you can see them too."  He smiled and nodded.  "We'll be back probably right after lunch," he announced.  Draco finished up and followed him out.  He had to stop in the study to get a vault key but then headed off through the floo to Diagon.  The boys wandered up the alley, seeing what was new.

Draco pointed at the new brooms and Alex shuddered.  "Some day you'll have to learn how to fly."

"I do it perfectly well upside down right now," he complained.  "I hate flying."  He walked him up to the bank, smiling at the goblin who came out to meet them.  They both had personal vault managers.  "I was told to come in to talk to someone about my paternal grandparents?"  The goblin lead them to its office, pointing at some chairs.  "Also, we need money out to go shopping.  We're growing again."

The goblin looked at them.  "I can see that."  He looked at the boy.  "You're Alexander Birmingham, correct?"

"Yes.  Sirius Black said something about a Markham?  A Delores Markham?" he offered.  Draco looked sideways at him.  "My paternal grandparents, Draco."

"Oh.  I thought they'd be McNair's since he was their cousin."

"No, other side of the family if I remember right," Alex offered, then shrugged.  "I was told repeatedly to ask."

The goblin got up and went to look in a file cabinet, coming back with the family tree.  It was specially marked when someone died and their vaults were unclaimed.  He spread it out on the table, looking at him.  "It appears there's many relatives who you're tied to."

"Man, I thought the Black Family Tree was bad," Draco complained, looking it over. "At least you're only tied into it a few times.  My mum's one and my cousins and then about four generations back again."

"Three," the Goblin said, pointing at that crossover.  He looked at the boys.  "Give me a few moments to check for other heirs, gentlemen.  Would you like to go down to your vaults while I do this?"

"If you wouldn't mind," Alex said politely.  "Thank you for your help."

"It's what I do."  He called in a cart goblin.  "Griphook, bring them to their vaults.  Check their keys as well.  I'm handling an inheritance."  It checked the keys, then led them to his cart, taking them down there to get money.  When he came back, he nodded at them. "Thank you, Griphook."  He looked at Alex's large bag.  "Needed a lot of clothes?"

"We're throwing a party," he admitted with a grin. "I was going to escape and get some more comics as well. My friend Ron really likes them."

"I'm not going into muggle London with you," Draco said firmly.

"That's fine.  I can sneak down the street and back while you bask in the sun at the ice cream shop."  Draco nodded, accepting that.  They both looked at the goblin.  "Was there something else I have to fill out paperwork on?"

"The marriage contract...."

"Was broken, thankfully," Alex assured him.  The goblin nodded at that.  "What about my paternal grandparents?"

"You have one cousin.  Nadalia?"

"She died last year," Draco told him.  "She got hurt in a duel and died of the injuries.  St.  Mumgoes had her."  The goblin went to send someone to check on that, getting a folded up message a few minutes later.  Draco smirked at Alex.  "You're treating me to ice cream if I'm going to wait on you."

"Sure," he agreed, grinning at him.  He looked at the goblin as he came back.  "More bad news?"

"I'm afraid so," he admitted.  "Mr. Malfoy was correct, she is dead."  He tapped his finger on that one, marking her on that and all the other family charts they had in the bank.  "We need to update these."  He looked at the boys.  "There's been a few unclaimed vaults on each side.  We'll have to pull the wills to make sure there's no clauses."

"That's fine.  I'm at the house, you can send it out there to me," Alex promised, smiling and shaking his hand.  "Draco will be out for the solstice party but Narcissa is throwing her usual one.  She's at the house right now if you wanted to talk with her."

"I probably should."  He looked at the forms in front of him, then at Alex.  "I do see your emancipation paperwork listed."  Alex nodded.  "That's fine.  Where is Mr. Potter?"

"At my house.  His godparents are staying with me until after the party."

"Very well then.  Thank you, Mr. Birmingham."  He tipped his head.  "Probably within the day."

"That's fine.  We've got a bit of shopping to do."  He stood up.  "Come on, Draco."

"Fine, Alex."  He nodded politely at the goblin then headed out after him.  "Did you see what I did?" he hissed as they walked over to the money change desk.  He sighed and groaned.  "Alex!"

"I did see it, Draco, give me ten more seconds."  He handed over the second bag he had carried up.  "I need that in muggle money."

"British Pounds?" the goblin asked.  Alex nodded.  "All that?"

"I need to pick up some more comic books before my party," he said with a grin.  The goblin sighed but did it for him.  Alex tucked that into his pocket then they were off to Madam Malkin's.  "Hello, Mistress of the Cloth," he said cheerfully. "I've grown, yet again."

"That keeps happening," she agreed, smiling at him. "You as well, Mr. Malfoy?"  He nodded.  "That's fine then.  Just uniforms?"

"No, the complete kit," he sighed.  "My arms and legs both grew," Alex complained.  "Nearly a month ago."  She clucked her tongue and got to work finding him clothes.  Draco's usual fitter came over to get him outfitted.  "I need something nice for the party," Alex told her.  "I'm hosting and I said casual clothes."

"I saw the invitation you sent me," she promised, smiling at him.  "I always like to get notices of such things.  We've seen a few kids in here getting clothes for them.  Most of the parents were satisfied by the notice that it was casual clothes but some did get some nicer dress robes."  She got him spiffed up, then let him look at himself.

"Good, some length," he said happily.  "How about something soft and warm for that night?"

"I have a very nice cashmere sweater," she assured him, going to get the baby blue sweater for him.  Along with a pair of black dress pants.  She fitted everything and let him kiss her on the cheek before paying her, then she watched as the boys sent the clothes home.  Then they headed up the alley way.  She smiled at their backs.  Those two were so cute!


Lucius walked up to where his son was lounging, staring him down.  "What are you doing here?"

"Waiting for Alex to get done getting his muggle comics," he admitted, eating another bite of his sundae.  "We're here with Mum's permission."  He sat up when he saw Alex, smiling at him.  "Have fun?"

"More or less.  I'm going to have to go to a speciality shop for some I missed," he admitted, sitting down next to his buddy.  "Ah, Lucius."

"That is not how you address an adult, Alexander.  Your grandmother taught you better manners than that I'm sure.  Or at least she tried to beat them into you."

"You never heard?  I was emancipated last year," he offered smugly.  Draco nodded to back him up.  "My poor Draco here is so jealous, but this just means I can spoil him more."

"I told you I'm not dating you," he reminded him, giving him a little shove.  "Behave, Alex."


"Because I asked?"

"Hmm.  I'll try a bit more then," he offered with a grin.  He turned it on Lucius. "How has your day been so far, Lucius?"

He sneered.  "Why is my wife at your house, Mr. Birmingham?"

"The party I'm throwing so you guys don't get all the kids in my age group."

"Oh."  He shuddered.  "Better you than us.  Draco, come along.  I'm sure your mother meant for you to return hours ago."

"She said I'm to escort him back, Father."  He finished his sundae and the waitress came by to take the empty dish.  He nodded politely at her.  Alex grinned at her.  "Go get your other comics, Alex."  Alex grinned and hugged him then headed off.  "You could sit and chat with me, father.  It shouldn't take him much longer.  Either that or call Mother.  The bank found a few ancestors who had unclaimed things and they said they'd be calling her today since it was on her side of the family."

"When were you at the bank?"

"This morning. We've both outgrown all our clothes.  She sent us to get fitted and find something for the party."

"You are attending the family one."

"Mother said I wasn't," he said calmly.  "I'll let you two decide that and tell me if you don't mind."  Lucius sneered down at him. He put up his feet.  "I'm sure it'll only be a few more minutes.  She doesn't expect us until after lunch."

"You'd only get into trouble and get unsuitable ideas," he hissed.  "Head back there now, son.  Unless you wish to be disinherited?"

"Gee, father, and then who would be the family's heir since mum can't have more kids."  Lucius looked stunned.  "Alex pointed that out.  I'm the last of the Malfoy line.  Unless you've been out spreading yourself around?"  Lucius glared and he swallowed. "I'm just saying that harming me isn't in your best interests unless you plan on having another child and raising it alone since Mum can't and most of the other purebred witches are married.  Unless *you* wanted Pansy Parkinson?  Alex cut her free because he likes wizards."

Lucius glared at his son.  "Home, now.  Before I make your fondest wish of a sibling come true.  I'm sure I can find one somewhere."

"Yes, but will the bank honor it?" Narcissa asked from behind him.  She looked at her son.  "Alexander?"

"Getting muggle comics. I refused to go into the muggle world with him.  He said he had to visit a speciality shop for some of them."

"Fine," she agreed.  "Come home for lunch, Draco."

"Yes, mother."  He stood up and smoothed out his clothes. "Alex already paid."  He smiled at her.  "Was I mistaken in getting clothes for Alex's party instead of ours?"

"No, I want you at his.  That way you won't have to hide this year."  She took his arm, smiling at him.  "Do be careful," she hissed in his ear.  He patted her hand and smiled at her, walking off.  "Lucius, are you coming back with us to Birmingham Hall?"

"No," he ground out.  "I still have business to do today."

"Very well.  We'll be home for dinner, dear."  She smiled gently at him.  "I'm sure I can leave Sirius and Mr. Potter in charge of Alexander for the afternoon."  He shuddered, his face tightening up.  She took him back to the manor, patting him on the back. "That is a very dangerous game, my son."

"He started it and Alex is right.  Unless he can suddenly pull another child out of his arse that's suitable by the will, I'm the last Malfoy heir ever.  If he loses me, the precious bloodline he's worried and ranted so much about is gone."  She nodded, looking complacent. "Therefore he won't ever hex me again without realizing there's a drastic consequence.  After all, I could turn gay like Alex."  Then he smiled sweetly. "He's very tempting."

"He is," she agreed.  "He's also very beautiful, my son.  Just be a bit more careful in the future.  That was too blunt and he'll be in a rage later."

"Yes, but he still can't produce a child out of thin air that would fit the bloodline's requirements," he said quietly.  "It's good for him to think that I have plans ahead of him.  After all, you won't get a grandchild until he's long dead."

She laughed.  "I realized long ago that you would one day rival your father and surpass him.  Make sure I don't make a grieving mother instead of a widow, Draco.  It would not be as pretty for me to be a grieving mother."  He nodded, taking that advice.  "Now, I've got it all set up for Alex.  All he has to do is look pretty and show up.  Which of you got the light blue sweater?"

"Him, mother.  It looks wonderful on him."

"Good."  She smiled at Twirly.  "The light blue sweater belongs to Alexander," she told her.  "Put his things up."  She nodded, taking that package to put away.  She smiled at her son.  "Did you get uniforms?"  He nodded, helping her into her seat.  "Such a good boy, Draco.  Try to stay that way a bit longer, all right?"  He nodded, sitting next to her.

Alex came in an hour later, smiling and carrying a huge stack of comics.  "I'm back," he called.  Marsette came out and took the stack from him.  "Shelve those.  They're new.  I haven't gotten a chance to read them yet."  She nodded, taking them to his study to shelve them.  "Have the goblins called, Auntie?"

"To speak to me. I had no idea I had a cousin who had an unclaimed vault."

"I asked them about my paternal grandparents," he offered as he sat across from her.  "Can I have a snack?  Just something light, Twirly?"  A plate of food appeared in front of him.  "Thank you. This is more than enough."  He handed Draco some of the sandwiches.  "The goblin over our vaults pulled out the family charts."  She hissed and he nodded.  "There were a great many marks on it.  They asked about Harry and Sirius too."

"They headed there a few moments before I left to get you two," she assured him.  "Who were your maternal grandparents?"

"Markham?  Delores Markham was my other grandmother."

Her face lit up.  "I remember her!  She was a very kind woman to me when I married Lucius.  Gave me a wonderful quilt she had made by hand."  She smiled and patted him on the hand.  "I'm guessing that's where your mother's gentler nature came from, Alexander.  She was a wonderful woman."

"I wish I'd known her," he admitted before taking a bite of his sandwich.  "I just wish I'd known mum."  He ate another bite, shaking his head.  "So, it's all finalized?  Everything's good?"

"Just fine.  Did you want to give out party favors?  Or prizes for some of the games?"  He tossed the half-full bag of coins on the table, making her smile.  "That's very generous of you."

"I'm figuring if we keep points, I'll award twenty to the top two, ten for the next two, and five each for the next four."  She smiled and nodded. "I need to count it to make sure I've got enough left."

"There's got to be at least a hundred there," Draco noted, finishing his sandwich.  He dusted off his hands.  Twirly brought him a soda and he opened it, taking a long drink.  He made a face, looking at the label. "How can you drink this?" he asked.  Alex took it and gulped it, then grinned.  "Fine. You're used to bubbling, fizzing, acidic tasting things to drink."

"I like my soda, Draco. It's who I am."  He finished up his lunch and put that and the can aside so the elves could take them.  Then he leaned on his elbows on the table, supporting his face.  "Auntie, I'm sorry if we upset your husband.  Feel free to stay tonight if you need it."

"I won't need that sort of protection, Alexander," she offered gently.  "He wouldn't dare harm me ever again.  If so, he knows I can divorce him and tell everyone everything."  Draco snickered.  "He did make plain that you pointed out that he was the last heir of the family as well."

"Good. It's good for him to be scared.  Draco, watch out for Pansy and Millicent.  He'll try to marry you to one of them."

"Millicent was promised to Flint," he said grimly.  "He's not thrilled with that."  Alex nodded, understanding that.  "Pansy knows she won't get me after pushing me aside for the fantasy you represented."  Sirius and Harry walked in.  "Long lines?"

"No, long family tree," Sirius complained, sitting down.  "Alexander, they said they were ready for you whenever you were."

"Sure.  Draco?"

"Not again," he moaned.

"Oh, come on.  We didn't even visit the sweets shop."

"True."  He looked at his mother, who smoothed a piece of hair with a smile.  "Fine, we'll be back after those two stops."  He got up and headed after Alex, heading back to the bank.  They walked in and walked around Lucius, heading right to their manager. "You said we were done?"

"You are," the goblin agreed, pointing at the chairs.  They both sat down.  "There are only two contentious entries.  Both of them say you must reach the *age* of consent."  Both boys nodded and Lucius walked in.  "This is not for you to hear," he said.

"Surely Alexander won't mind...."

"Yes I do."  He looked at the goblin.  "Remove him or remove the blood stains."  The goblin nodded and removed him with security's help.  Then he came back.  "Sorry, I have been told he's the one who killed my mother."

"Indeed?"  He nodded.  "Interesting.  We had heard the same," he admitted, looking at Draco.

"He's my best friend.  He's in no danger, nor is his mother," he said calmly.  The goblin nodded, getting back down to business.  "Is either of them my grandparent's?"

"No, theirs mentions heirs and a suitable person to govern it if they have not reached their majority, as is usually stated. As you are emancipated, that does qualify.  It has in the past by the legal codes."  Alex nodded at that.  "So we can release those to you.  You do have one more cousin we have found, and it appears to be Mr. Potter himself."

"It's a good thing he's my guardian then, huh?" he asked with a grin.  The goblin nodded, smiling a bit as well.  "So, what do I have to sign?"

"Many, many forms," he admitted, pointing at the stack beside his desk.  "Mr. Malfoy has a few of his own in there.  As does his father."

"I wanted to ask.  Am I the only heir registered in the family?" Draco asked quietly.  The goblin nodded.  "Good.  My father's losing brain cells every day.  I'd hate to see him have to be put into a home or something and then us have problems with the bank."

"No, you are the official and only heir on the paperwork."  He heard the commotion and growled.  "He's back."

"He can come in for this part of it.  I do not want him to know what assets I have."

"It is not his right."

"That doesn't mean he's not nosy and a dead man if he tries anything."  The goblin smiled and nodded.  "Then let him quit bothering the others once you've told us the scope of what we're signing."

"Vaults 115, 128, 445, 668, 1547, 11659, and 55772."

"Anything in the five digits is a complex," Draco said, frowning a bit.  The goblin nodded.  "Alex, I expect a *lavish* birthday and holiday gift this year," he said, looking at him.  Alex just grinned and nodded. "You've already picked it out?"

"Of course."  He grinned at the goblin.  "Hand me a quill so I can get started.  How about Draco's?"

"His mother's family has access to three additional vaults and the children of one of them have their own specifically for their needs in Hogsmeade," he offered, handing those forms to Draco.

"I'll need a vault up there for my use too," Alex sighed.  "I hate being a second year.  I had to go over a month without properly fitting uniforms because I'm only a second year."  The goblin nodded, leaving it at that complaint.

"I don't see why you two can't go," Draco admitted. "You're both adults.  You could both quit school if you wanted."  He signed his name and handed that one over, going further down the stack.  "I hate paperwork."

"You and me both.  That's why I bring you to these things, so you can read questionable things," he said, holding one up.  "This says I have to marry within six years?"  The goblin nodded.  "I'm gay."  The goblin stared at him.  He shrugged.  "She turned me off women for life.  I might marry but it'll be a male."

"Very well then," he said, taking a few other pieces of paper.  "That was only one vault and we'll have to see about the regulations on that with that admission," he admitted.  Alex shrugged and nodded, going back to signing things.

"How old was that one?" Draco asked as he finished up.  He handed the last one over but kept the quill just in case.  The goblin found one spot where he had to initial.  He did so and handed back the quill.

"Nearly six hundred years.  They've been waiting for a very long time.  We may be able to claim it in the name of the rest of the family and then shift it over."

"Mum never married.  She was running for her life so she couldn't," Alex reminded him.  He handed over another paper.  "Fatherhood clause?"  The goblin nodded, putting that aside.  "Which was that one?"


"Ah."  He sighed and went back to it, Draco helping by skimming things.  "What happens if I sign one and can't do it?"

"The key will disappear," he promised.  "Most of those are quite outdated clauses and wills.  I will get our legal department onto them to make sure.  Such unclaimed wealth does us no good. It's only costing us money."  Alex smiled at him for that.  "We could use those vaults for others."

"I'm sure you could."  He finished his last one and let the goblin have the quill too.  Both were handed back to him and he got to initial a few more places.  Finally he was done.  Alex sighed.  "All right, what about the Hogsmeade vault?"

"I can have one set up and divert a thousand galleons each year?"  Alex nodded.  "Diverting back when you graduate or leave the school?"

"That would be more than acceptable," Alex agreed with a kind smile.  "Thank you."

"You are quite welcome.  I will get these to legal and bring you the keys tonight."  They nodded.  "Along with an accounting of the contents."

"Good, because I need to shift some stuff around.  I don't like the dark arts stuff being in the same place as the gold," he noted.  "It might infect it and harm one of you."

"We put all such dangerous things into a side vault in your complex, Alexander."  Alex nodded, smiling at that.  "Does anything else need to be discussed?"

"No, I think that should do it," he admitted, standing up and shaking his hand.  "Thank you for your help and prompt attention to this matter."

"It is what I do."  He shook Draco's hand, watching as they walked out to be ambushed by the boy's father.  He made the notes for Legal and sent everything down there, then made another note about what he had witnessed to send to the management team.  Mr. Malfoy was quite correct to warn them of possible troubles coming from his father.


To part two: