They nodded and sent the boys off. They landed in a heap a bit later and Harry hopped up, looking around. "Let's rest," Draco said. "We have time to explore."
"This is my family's home, Draco. Maybe they left pictures or something." Ron sighed but got up. Harry gave them pitiful looks. "I just want to see what's here."
"Dobby?" Draco called. He popped in, giving him a cautious look. "Did Harry's relatives leave anything like pictures?"
"Yes, whole wall of pictures, Draco sir," he said, looking at Harry. "Harry Potter wants to meet paintings?"
"Please," he said quietly. The other two followed. Harry found them all staring at him. "Um, hi."
"Young man," one woman said. "You clearly look like my grandson."
"I'm James' son, ma'am." He stepped closer. "Did you know my Dad?"
She smirked. "Quite well for a few years of his youth. I'm his great-grandmother."
Harry smiled. "Nice to meet you."
She stared at him. "Something is around you."
"The bonding someone did to us or some other spell?" Ron complained.
"Not a bonding, though you are young," she chided.
"Not our doing," all three said together.
An older man gasped. "I've seen that sort of bond!" He moved closer to the front of his painting. "Those bracelets?"
"A teacher did it," Ron said with a small shrug. "We're second-years."
"Clearly. Though our relative needs to eat more."
"Blame his muggle aunt," Ron snorted.
"Muggle?" Harry's great-great-grandmother demanded.
"Lily, my mum, was muggle born," Harry said quietly. "They died thanks to Voldemort. So I lived with her sister's family."
They all stared at him. "If I see that boy, I'm going to paddle him," another painting sniffed. "We do not...."
Harry growled. "Do not insult my mother." They backed off at that.
"Well, he has the Potter temper," the great-great-grandmother said dryly, smiling at him. "Good." She smirked. "Introduce us to your husbands, boy."
"Please use my name," Harry said quietly. He nodded them closer. "This is Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy."
They all stared at Draco. "Is your family in agreement?"
"Is there a way to break it?" he asked back.
"Well, no," the grande dame of the wall said. "There's no way to break this bond in the least. Only lengthen it." She looked at Ron. "I know of your family, young man." Ron nodded. "Good bloodlines and easy breeders. When the adaptations hit, it'll be easier."
"Draco got the adaptations, not me," Ron said with a grin. "I got added in last and a bit later."
They all stared at Draco again. "We have agreed I can have the Malfoy heir when I'm of age," he assured them. "My...spouses won't mind in the least." They all smirked at him, shaking their heads.
"No," the old man said. "That would not work for this family's heir."
"Potter may do the same thing," Draco assured him. "Mine would be for the Malfoy heir. My father and mother agreed it was the only workable solution since I don't fancy blokes rubbing on me and things."
Harry blushed. "Draco!" he hissed.
"Or being pregnant."
The grande dame sighed. "There is much you need to know about these bonds, boys. We will tell you what we know." She looked at Harry. "You are the most unusual heir. Which school are you attending?"
"Hogwarts. Like my parents."
"Are you a Slytherin like the last few who went there?" she asked.
"No, I'm a Gryff like my father and mother," Harry said. "We're Slytherins?"
"We have been traditionally," his great-great-grandmother said dryly. "I was, most of the ones before me were. They tend to sort us there due to the power we hold."
"Well, the hat thought about it but I was split and I went to Gryff because I begged to be with my friend," Harry said, nodding at Ron. They all stared at him. "What?" he asked, starting to feel panic. Apparently his family hated him.
"They do not hate you!" Draco said firmly. "Quit that!"
Ron patted Harry on the back. "They're getting used to you, Harry." He looked at the paintings. "That thing floating around him, could it be where Draco's father had the link severed that came from He-Who-Shouldn't-Be-Named trying to kill him and failing?"
"Riddle did *what* to my family?" a shrill woman up the hallway demanded. She stormed up, you could see the other paintings moving out of the way. "Which one are you?" she demanded.
"Harry, James' son with Lily."
"Did he have more?"
"It seems most of you didn't know my mum," he said quietly.
"I met her a few times, though she wouldn't know I was one of us." She stared at him. "You look like your father but you have your mother's eyes." She grimaced. "He did what?"
"Killed my parents and tried to kill me but somehow it rebounded," Harry said quietly, feeling uncomfortable again. "Then the Headmaster sent me to live with Aunt Petunia."
"What about your godparents? That's what they're there for," she demanded.
"I just found out after we got bonded I *have* godparents, ma'am. Which one are you?"
"I'm your Great-Aunt, Harry. I'm James's father's sister Eleanor." He nodded at that. She grimaced. "What link?" Harry lifted his hair to show the scar. "Why was that not removed when you were younger?"
"Aunt Petunia and her husband loathe magic and told me my parents died in a car crash. I found out about all this stuff when I got my school letter."
She 'humph'ed. "When I see that Headmaster...."
"He does not know where we are, ma'am," Draco said quickly. "Because he keeps blaming this being done on us. Told his aunt that we chose to do this."
She looked at him. "I don't think your family is usually that stupid. It's politics, boy."
"We're well aware of that, ma'am, but it's now the Headmaster against our parents," Ron told her. He gave Harry's shoulder a squeeze. "Apparently this messed up more than Draco's future spouse plans."
She smirked. "You think he has *plans*?" Harry nodded. "We're sure?" They all nodded. "Why would you be sure?"
"Because in hind-sight some things seem a bit fishy," Ron said. "Like letting three first years fight the Dark Lord when he showed up at the school and telling us that the splitting headache in his curse scar was nothing."
She gasped. "It was linked?" she demanded.
"My father had it broken," Draco told her. "First thing after the bonding."
"Good!" She stared at the boy. "If I was alive, I'd have fixed all that thestral manure within days, boy."
"Please use my name?" he begged, staring at her.
She stared at him. "Why?"
"Because I hate being called 'boy' like I'm a house elf," he snarled.
"Hmm. Petunia and I need to have a discussion. Very well, Harry." He relaxed again. "There is much you have to learn about the family, boys and Harry." Harry relaxed further. "It is not all pleasant."
"Nothing ever is. I'm told my father was a blighter of pranking," Harry said grimly.
"Probably. A few of us were," she said dryly. "Come, we'll go to the library."
"Harry Potter and his boys must eat," Dobby interrupted. "Just out of school and off train. Princess must wait." She gave him an amused look. "Harry Potter is great wizard, that is why Dobby protects his Harry Potter. Harry Potter is so great he freed Dobby to protect him more."
She looked at the boy. "Interesting."
"My father had been plotting a bit," Draco admitted, looking at Dobby. "We'll eat in a few minutes, Dobby."
Dobby looked at him. "Dobby is a free elf."
"I know," he agreed. "I was there when you got freed. My father had never been beaten that way before." He looked at the painting. "Highness, we are just off the train and portkey here. Potter is hungry now that we've got his eating straightened out again."
She stared at him. "Why wasn't it?"
"You'd have to ask his aunt that," Ron said, walking Harry off. "We'll see you in the morning, ma'am, and the rest of you of course. Let him rest and think for now." He glared back at her. She smirked and nodded her head. He grinned at Harry. "Family can be overwhelming sometimes. The last family reunion I nearly lost track of who I was much less anyone else." Draco opened his mouth. "I'll take the bruising from thumping you," he warned. Draco wisely shut his mouth and let Dobby lead them into the dining room. "Wow, the house elf made *tons*. This is more than the greeting feast, Harry."
"It is," he agreed. He sat down and two house elves appeared beside Dobby. "Hi," he said quietly. "I'm Harry, this is Ron, and that's Draco."
"Dipsy knows her Draco master," she said, curtseying to him. He nodded back with a smile. "Is food to liking?"
"It's more than we could hope for," Draco assured her. "Thank you, Dipsy." She beamed. "Terra, did you have any orders for tonight?"
"Boys are to rest. Harry Potter looks tired. Terra will have Dobby run boys a bath." Dobby nodded and left quickly. "Then boys will rest tonight. Can explore the house tomorrow once the relatives release the rest of it."
"There's hidden areas?" Ron asked. "Brilliant!"
"Is there a huge basilisk in this one too?" Harry asked her. Draco cackled at that, shaking his head.
"No, only snakes in house are two poisonous ones in the gardens, Harry Potter." Terra smiled. "You will rest."
"Terra, are there more spells on Harry?" Ron asked, serving himself some food. Draco took the other stuff to do that and they switched off, then Ron put stuff on Harry's plate.
"Ron, beets?" he complained.
"Yes, they're good for boys," Terra said firmly. "Terra will check for magic later on, while asleep. Will be easier then." She and Dipsy left them alone.
Dobby popped back in. "Boys have a good bath waiting in your rooms. Harry Potter or his Weasy call for Dobby and Dobby will lead them to baths and rooms. All clothes put up and owls in owlry." He disappeared too.
"They're efficient," Draco said. He nibbled a bite. "Dipsy did a wonderful job, like always when she cooks. She's our baking elf." Ron grinned at that. Harry ate, but he was clearly thinking. They kept hearing a few words but nothing concrete. Well, it had been a few shocks so who knew. He'd have to tell his father Potters had been Slytherins before James. That might shock them into dealing with things like the Headmaster a bit faster.
Harry woke up from a nightmare with a gasp, holding his chest. His heart was racing. He felt like he was being watched but there were no paintings or house elves in his room at the moment. Then he noticed the box on his dresser. He got up to look at it, then put it carefully into the closet. "I didn't need to relive that," he complained before he shut the door. "I lived through it once, it was enough." He went back to bed. He heard Draco thrashing around and went to check on him. For some reason he was trapped in his dream. Harry moved closer and gave him a light shove on the shoulder, waking him. He stared at him. "You too?"
Draco swallowed, nodding quickly then pushing back his sweaty hair. "I think they're being nosy but I never heard of paintings being able to do magic." He found his glass of water and swallowed. "Weasley?"
Harry thought at him. "Dancing, boobed, broomsticks again." Draco shook his head while he took another sip. "You better?"
"Much." He looked at the boy. "How in the hell did you survive them?" he asked quietly.
"What choice did I have? It could've been another seven years."
Draco shook his head. "They could've killed you."
"Then I guess the Headmaster would be shit outta luck, huh?" Draco grimaced at that. "Then again, who knows what may happen, Draco. Next year's defense teacher might try to kill us again, like the first one." He smirked. "It seems to be their job around the school." He went back to his own room.
Draco laid down, looking up at the painting above his bed. "That was truly evil." The painting smirked at him. "I knew he was a stubborn bastard, he puts up with Weasley and his mudlood."
"His father had the right idea to fight against that weak supposed dark lord, but he should've shown him that his aunt was so much better at it." He went to tell the others what he had found. Clearly someone had forgotten to explain to James anything of the family's history and no one had written it down for the offspring he left behind either.
Draco shook his head. "Ancient Potters are worse than my own father," he muttered. "It's almost amusing. Father will have a good cackle at this." He got up to wash his face again then went back to bed, casting a charm to make sure nothing else invaded his mind for the night.
Dumbledore looked at the wizard in charge of watching over children. "How can Bill Weasley be a good guardian if he's always in another country?" he asked genially. "They're somewhere in South America with who knows who watching over them while he's working in Egypt."
The protection officer looked at him. "That was done so that neither of the parents could protest the other warping the other boys," he said bluntly. "Bill Weasley is an admirable wizard, Headmaster. The boys' summer plans were approved with us before anything was done."
"There's no telling what sort of trouble they're getting into down there," he protested.
"Firstly, the boys are technically emancipated minors. Secondly, Headmaster, this was the best plan for their safety and security. Thirdly, it is keeping the boys neutral on the shoving the families are doing."
"The boys can get out of that if they wanted," he snorted.
"Unfortunately, you seem to have not read anything on those bracelets. The only way to remove the bond is death, and if one is harmed, so are the others. Even strong wizards would die from that." He looked smug. "Also, why did Mr. Potter not know he had godparents until he saw his parents' will?"
"I'd assume his aunt thought them unfit," he said coolly.
"Hmm. We have an entire memory download from Mr. Potter thanks to the healer. I'll check for that." Dumbledore gave him a dirty look. "You put him there against his parents' wishes, Headmaster. The last time I knew you did not have my job." Dumbledore huffed but left. He wrote a note on the encounter and sent it to all three of the guardians. That way they all knew. It was only fair the Malfoys and Weasleys knew that the headmaster wanted their sons killed so his precious boy wasn't supported. Maybe he was thinking maliciously but he wasn't sure he wasn't right.
Bill walked up to someone's house, knocking politely. The tired looking man opened the door to stare at him. "Remus."
"Bill?" He let him in. "What's wrong?" He shut the door and looked at him. "You don't look pleased to be here, is it bad news?"
"Odd news." He sat down and waited while his friend did the same. "You know Harry Potter, right?"
"Of course. I'm one of his godparents. Is he in trouble?"
"Well, long story." He told him about Lockhart, the bracelets, the headmaster, all of it except where the boys were. Remus was livid by the end. "He didn't know he had godparents, Remus. Never heard of you thanks to his aunt."
"Is he all right?"
"The house elf we have reporting on the boys says they're fine. Harry's first thing was to go looking for pictures and he talked to them. Apparently, according to Draco's letter to Lucius, some of them are a bit...dark. Draco said one of the ancestors told him that James should've beaten Voldemort and reminded him his aunt was so much worse than him. Otherwise, they're helping the boys study this summer. They refuse to let the boys slack too much. Even Draco called it excessive and Ron's whining." Remus smiled at that. "Ron's letter threatened to sneak off to the local village later this week for some fun."
"Where are they? Who has custody of them if a house elf is watching them?"
"Well, the boys are now legal," Bill told him, getting a gasp. He shrugged. "The bond did that automatically. Being married does." Remus nodded he knew that. It was an ancient, outdated law. "But Harry did ask me to stand in as his guardian. Even Lucius Malfoy isn't sure what game the headmaster's playing at right now but he doesn't like it and he doesn't want to lose his son so he's been really supportive. The only agreement we could get between him and mum was the house elf."
Remus got a letter and held it out. "I'm apparently being added in as a pawn."
Bill read over the invitation to the Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching position. "Well, you'll be better than the last two," he said dryly, handing it back. "I thought it was about time to introduce you to your godson, that's why I came today. That and I got told that the Headmaster put in a challenge against my guardianship because I work in another country."
"They'd never accept me because of my condition."
"Ah," Bill said with a smug grin. "Lucius himself came up with that solution. No, not guardianship, but I can name you my local guardianship watcher basically. You'd be my stand-in guardian when I wasn't around. Since my letters weren't getting to the boys last year, including the book I copied by the creator of those bracelets... Or his allowance payments."
"Albus," Remus growled. "Will I run into problems from your mother or Lucius Malfoy?"
"No. Or the wizard over his protection case. I came right here after the meeting this morning. Mum got so huffy about whatever plan is going on the protection wizard threatened to take all of us from her if she didn't quit screaming." Remus laughed at that. "Narcissa agreed that mum was loud but she had to protect her son the only way she could since mum's not a strong witch. Which started them snapping at each other until Lucius sighed and got Dobby, a house elf Harry freed for helping him when Lucius had started plotting against him, up to tell them what the boys were doing that second. Then he and Dad worked it out. Lucius said you're a defense teacher, his son needs to be able to deal with normal people better, he apparently hasn't learned how to talk people around to his point of view yet, and the boy could use it since Dobby said Harry was pouty about his family being pureblood snobs in the past."
"James said a few times that some of his ancestors made the Malfoy family look like squibs."
"Basically, yeah." He smirked. "So?"
"I'd love to meet the boy, Bill. I tried before but someone put a compulsion on me to keep me away from him."
"I'm going to kill the old man," Bill decided, getting a laugh back. "Are you going to tell him about...him?"
"Yes." Bill nodded, searching him for magic. He found more than he could handle so he got a senior curse breaking in to help him. One of the ones that taught the young pups in the field. That guy got him cleared. Bill looked at him once Remus was out of the room. "Can I ask you for another favor?"
"Why? Someone else cursed?"
"Well, Malfoy had Potter's link to the Dark Lord cut," he said dryly. "We're not sure of other spells or not." He handed over Ron's letter to him. The older curse breaker read it then grimaced. "They're in Belize. I can have them recalled or bring you down there. It's under hiding for their safety." Remus came back. "I was going to bring Remus down anyway."
"I'd love to meet Mr. Potter and thank him for whatever his parents cast that let him survive," he said with a smile, handing back the letter. "Shall we?"
"Let me get three things," Remus said, casting a packing charm on his office area, his bedroom, and then grabbing his old, beaten up broom. Bill grinned at him. "Where are those allowance owls anyway?" he asked as Bill made the portkey.
"Somewhere in the school. No one's really sure. The goblins are going later to find them since the owls got misguided." He smirked and Remus shuddered. The higher curse breaker shuddered too. "Harry is family now," he quipped and they were off. Bill got them inside the wards and into the house. "Boys?" he called. Dobby popped in. "Where's the trio?"
"In with pictures, Bill Weasy sir." He pointed. "That way. They are being mad."
"That'll stop," Bill sighed, heading that way. "Oi, shut up you lot," he ordered. Harry gave him a startled look. "You've got visitors." He smiled. "Including one of your godparents." Harry gaped in awe. "C'mon." He led them out to the sitting room. "This is the curse breaker that teaches us how to destroy things the easy way," he introduced. "And this is Remus Lupin, Harry. He's your godfather."
Harry sat down, staring at him. "I saw your name on their wills."
"Someone laid a compulsion so I couldn't introduce myself, Harry, or I would've been there years ago," he said quietly, holding out a hand. Harry shook it and he smiled. "We'll get to know each other."
"You can tell me about my parents?"
"Of course!" He smiled. "I even brought a few pictures. Plus, I can tell the paintings being snobs to stop it because James said they annoyed the crap out of him a few times."
Harry grinned. "They thought Ron had Hermione as a slave. We were pointing out it wasn't legal anymore."
"Hmm. To some people it's always a legal thing," he said dryly. "Especially if that was their time of life." He shifted. "Also, you should know that the Headmaster hired me for the Defense position this year."
"Are you going to kill him too?" Ron quipped. Bill swatted him. "They've both tried!"
"I know, still not polite. Mum'll wash your mouth out when I tell her." He gave his brother a dirty look. The senior curse breaker laughed. "He got warped by the twins." He gave him and Draco a shove closer. "Check them first."
He started with Draco. "A few things. Nice beacon." He smiled at the boy. "Very well laid by your parent." He looked at the others. "A few protections, the heir's spells, and ... I see.... were you meant to be a sacrifice?"
"No, but someone did take me when I was about four to do so. My father killed him most messily for me."
"Good on Lucius then, boy." He nodded and removed that. "There, that's better." Draco smiled. "Weasley, let's do you. God only knows what one of you get into with what your brother does." He checked him. "Hmm. Some gifts for the job, Bill."
"He'd have to bring them with him," Bill pointed out. "If they want to, I'll sponsor them into the program."
"Wonderful. We need some in the future." He spotted something. "Your family would've yelled if they had seen that thing on your side."
Ron looked down then at him. "First year's problem Defense teacher had He-Who-Can't-Be-Named on his head. He wanted a philosopher's stone so Harry, Hermione, and I went after him."
The curse breaker looked at him. "Clearly you're insane like one of us too," he said dryly.
"Not like Harry could do it on his own," he said with a shrug. "Bloke got a headache each time the teacher looked at him sideways."
"My father had that link broken," Draco said.
"Wonderful of him." He fixed the curse on Ron's side and looked at the last boy. "Mr. Potter, I wanted to see what your parents cast to save you for a while now." Harry swallowed and shrugged. "Let's start with the curse scar, make sure it was fully cleaned up." He ran a wand over it. "Hmm, one of us but not the best. Lower level curse breaker training." He looked at Bill. "I need a sealing vial." Remus pulled one out of his bag and handed it over.
"Thank you, Mr. Lupin." He smirked. "I'm sure you'll have a lot of fun with the boys." He stood up, moving closer to break the complete link. The other two sighed in pleasure when the constant leak of magic stopped. "Work on some shielding now. It should work better," he said quietly. He caught the other curses and sighed, removing them too. He made a list too. Someone was going to have their heads on a platter for his dinner.
He finally got done about lunch and it was better. The boy looked happier. He looked more free too. Just like any other boy. He patted him on the head. "Good boy. Go eat with your mates and Godfather." He nodded, taking them to the dining room. He looked at Bill. "Who did the initial?" he asked quietly.
"Quiven. He worked with the healer."
"Healer found a lot?"
"Healer found he needed some nutritional help," he admitted. "He was supposed to get that during school."
"Nope." He used his wand to list all the diagnostic charm results for him. He handed over the paper. "Make 'em sorry, Weasley. I taught you better'n that and your mam did too." He smirked and walked out, heading back to his office. He was exhausted but it was a good job done.
Bill read it over, putting it into his sealing shirt pocket. It was spelled to keep all magic out of it. He went in there to check on Harry. "Snape was supposed to give you special potions to help with your past growth issues," he said quietly.
"The only potions I got was the compulsion potion," Harry sighed. "Did the Headmaster stop that too?"
"I don't know." He patted him on the head with a wink and a grin. "I'll leave you guys to get to know Remus. Call me if you need more, Harry. Mum complained so long this morning the protection wizard threatened to take us all from her if she didn't calm down." He looked at his brother. "Strike a balance between learning and fun." He nodded at Remus and left.
Remus smiled and refilled Harry's plate, going back to talking about his parents. The boy was soaking up stories like a sponge. Suddenly he really wanted to beat Petunia to death.
Bill walked into the hearing room. "Good, Professor, you're here." He handed over the diagnostic charm sheet. Snape read it over, giving him a horrified look. "Mr. Malfoy was supposed to ask you to make Harry some nutritional potions. Somehow that got forgotten."
"I can do so but I have to calibrate them to him so they can't leach across to harm the other two." He looked down then up at him. "How on earth?"
"I already want to kill 'em," Bill said bluntly. "Don't make my temper worse at 'em." He looked at the protection wizard, smiling. "Had the senior teacher over the program help."
He snatched the paper to read over. "Dear Merlin," he said quietly. He looked at Bill. "Removed?"
"Every last bit. Including that little bit of soul left from the transference." He looked at Snape. "You might ask Mr. Malfoy where he hid the rest. I know he took it to safely destroy it. The head guy wanted to make sure it all got destroyed properly."
"I can tell him such," he promised.
"Good." He looked at the protection wizard again. "I talked with Remus Lupin. He's talking with the boy. I also reminded his family that times had changed and if they rag on the boy some more they were going to lose the last of the line for being blood snobs."
"Potters?" Snape asked, looking confused.
"Anastasia Mercator was a Potter daughter, Professor. As was her niece Eleanor before she married a Mercator as well," Bill said with an evil smirk. Snape looked stunned. "James was the first in the line not to be a Slytherin and they all think they did something odd to the boy."
"They were?" he demanded.
"Yes. One further back in history too. Draco said one of them thought James should've trounced the last dark lord and told him how his aunt was worse than he could ever be." Snape shuddered. "We had to remind them that slaves aren't legal anymore too. They thought Hermione was Ron's slave."
"Then I suppose his homework would be better," Snape said sarcastically, regaining his composure. "Since Mr. Malfoy no longer checks it over for him, it's gotten dreadful again."
"Remus is staying the summer," Bill said with a grin.
"The headmaster knows they're in the Americas."
"They are. Remus is with them," Bill agreed. "The house is protected as much as I could make it." Snape smirked at him for that. Bill smirked back.
The protection wizard cleared his throat. "We don't mind his godfather and Lucius Malfoy said he would stand it for this instance." He looked at the professor. "You can make what he needs?"
"They're not complicated. Once I can calibrate them so they don't pass across the bond, the boy can probably have his bond-mate make them for him. It is within Draco's skill set."
"Good." He smiled. "Thank you, Professor. One last thing, have you noticed Mr. Malfoy not getting some of his owls?"
"Some packages from his mother have taken longer than he expected. He complained a few times. Why?"
"Potter's from me and the bank weren't getting to him at all," Bill said quietly.
"Oh, dear." He sighed. "Have someone look in the east dungeon. That's where the Headmaster stores all unpleasant mail he receives from angry parents." He stood up. "Let me go hide from the search team. There may be howlers in there from Mrs. Weasley."
"Sure," Bill agreed. "Thanks, Professor." He left and Bill looked at the protection wizard. "So?"
"You're doing good, Bill. It's a good job." Bill beamed and left to get back to the bank. He made notes and sealed the casefile again. That way no nosy person or their house elf could snoop in it.
The two goblin guards appeared in front of the school and walked up to the door, walking in.
"Hey, now," Hagrid complained. "Headmaster's in a meeting."
The goblins smirked in unison but the one on the left spoke. "That is fine. We are searching for misplaced bank assets and legal correspondence." They walked on.
Hagrid went to tell the headmaster but there wasn't much he could do about it. The bank had the legal right to do it and the proper paperwork on them for the search. By the warrant, if they so chose, they could take the school apart brick by brick as long as they put it back together in the same shape and with the same wards. With how many little hidden spots the school did, that might be an option and the goblin architects would be *so* pleased to do it for them.
Remus looked at the paintings then put another up on the wall. "There, talk to her about how the world has changed. She's the present transfiguration teacher. She kindly leant Harry the portrait for a few weeks." He smiled at the grande dame of the wall. "That way you can ask about the current curriculum as well." He walked off. He hated blood purists. Some of Harry and James' family were worse than the Malfoys. It amused Draco to no end but it was going to end up hurting Harry. He needed more supportive family, not harridans of the dark.
McGonagall nearly quailed but she had met tough students in the past and Remus had told her about these people and why she was being sent to teach them. She did like Harry so she'd help him out this time.
Harry's great-great-grandmother found the boys in the library doing some boring looking papers. She looked over that Ron child's shoulder, smirking. "Potions. Not something most of us are good at."
Harry grinned. "Me either."
She smirked back. "Defense?"
"Goblin wars? No, I get confused."
"There's more to history than the Goblin Wars, children."
"Not according to Professor Binns," Ron sighed, looking at her.
"He's still alive?"
"Not exactly," Draco said dryly. "Most of us use it as a study period or nap time," he said with a point at Ron.
She gave them an odd look then went to ask that teacher. "Binns is still teaching?"
"Yes, he's still teaching the goblin wars, as he did in your year probably."
"He's a ghost and he's teaching?" She nodded. "Does he realize the classes change and there's more to history?"
McGonagall smiled. "Did he in your year?"
"Well, slightly." She frowned. "That really should not happen."
"That is between him and the Headmaster. As long as the students can pass the OWLs and the NEWTs no one will say a word about any teaching choices."
She walked off shaking her head, going back to the library. She found the section she wanted. "Draco." He came over and she pointed. "The purple and red book are both comprehensive history tomes." He smiled and got them for her. "That should help you a bit."
"The OWLs have a lot of goblin wars on it," Ron told her.
"Did the Ministry fall?"
"No, idiots are in charge," Draco said. "Fudge is a very good minion without realizing it."
"Ah." She felt faint, which she shouldn't be able to do as a painting. "I wonder if any of our family is at the school." She went to check. It turned out one was so she went there to 'check up on things'. She ran into a disagreeable being in black cotton. "Which do you teach?" she asked politely.
Snape turned to look at the painting. "Excuse me?"
"Which subject do you teach, Professor?"
Eleanor shoved her way in, pushing her grandmother out of the way. "You're Draco's head of house then." He nodded once, crossing his arms so his hands went up his sleeves. "Is there any way we might check on a few things? Like why the minion in charge is so pathetic that the children no longer learn anything?"
"There has been a movement to preserve our heritage and unique history even though the rest of the world has moved on."
"Hmm. In other words that pathetic dark lord took out all the talented people?"
"In quite a few cases," he admitted, starting to like this woman. "Not all though."
"Interesting." She moved closer. "You really should change which lord you serve, child. That one is weak and pathetic. If a being can't use their own name and be scary, then they're nothing more than a puppet to be laughed at."
He sneered. "He has his way of engendering respect and fear."
"Yes, but I did it *so* much better," she said with an evil smirk. "Without weakening the world or the bloodlines."
He snorted. "Yes, but times have changed since then."
"Beyond that, no one would serve you these days. They think witches are weaker beings and you'd have to rule by fear."
She patted the frame of the painting. "I may be in here but I am still much more scary than he ever was."
"He does get attention."
"Yes, which makes him a target."
"Not according to the aurors."
She gave him an odd look. "Really?" He nodded. "Who's supposed to fix it if he does come back?"
"We don't think he can."
"They pulled a piece of his soul out of my great-great-grandson's head, Professor. If that part was alive, he can be brought back." Snape swallowed. "As I said, you should switch to someone better. After all, I can't curse you but I was a much more rewarding Lord to work for." She smirked. "Now, I need to know what the boys should know for their OWLs. We realize things should have changed."
"They're third years."
"Yes but Draco is wisely ahead and from what we've heard from that nice, uptight Professor McGonagall, things are worse. We need our heir and his spouses to be much better than that."
"People are already worried that he'll take over when he kills the Dark Lord should he come back."
She chuckled. "If so, I'll give him pointers in how to do it better than anyone but I ever did." She patted the frame again. "Is there a study guide?"
"The librarian should have one she can send to him."
"Only certain owls can get to them due to the wards. That way no tracking charms can be sent." She considered it. "Can you get that nice young Weasley cub to send one?"
"I can write him a note saying you wanted one."
"Thank you, child." She smirked. "Now, I want to talk to you about a few other things since you are the head of my house and you should know how to tell which players are going to make me want to try a risky resurrection to get hold of them."
He coughed. "There are many but this is not a safe location for such a discussion. The goblins are searching for their lost assets and are promising to rebuild the school."
"Yes, pissing goblins off is never wise." She nodded at the goblin watching them. "Master Goblin."
"Mrs. Mercator," he said, staring at her. "You are revived?"
"No, our heir is learning and I wanted to know where the current education was failing him and who, exactly, was going to annoy me by trying to play games around him. Harry's a bit sweet but doesn't really understand such matters. It was brilliant of that teacher to link him to someone who understood such things."
"We thought we had sealed your house."
She smirked. "It was unsealed so the trio could spend a safe summer with us. Harry is a very ...*nice* boy, unlike most of the family. Clearly someone somewhere did something strange with his father and then his aunt nearly ruined him. Is there a way I might speak with her?"
"Only if we take the painting that way," Severus said. "I can bring you to Malfoy manor so you can talk to Draco's father. He's in the Ministry."
"Yes, Draco said such nice things about how his father has a few favored minions to do his dirty work." She smiled. "Would the usual owner of this painting mind?" she asked her cousin.
"No, dear, you have us both moved there. I miss my chats with Lucius since his mother had us moved out of the House and up here."
Severus nodded. "I can do so." He took the painting down and walked off. It was a quick aparation and a longer walk up to the front door.
"Hmm, nice landscaping," the cousin said.
"It was so nice your evil herbology bent could've been passed on to Harry," Mrs. Mercator said with a smile.
"I do hope so. The boy could do such *great* things with our tutoring. I've seen him in the past you know, a smallish waif with loud friends who need sense and manners. They nearly abandoned him as a friend due to some *notice*."
She smirked at her cousin. "They can't do so now." Severus knocked on the door. Lucius himself answered it. "My, your son does look quite like you. That spell I designed worked well then. That is charming to know."
Lucius looked at the painting. Then at Severus. "I know one of them."
"They're both relations of Potter's. They want to talk about the current state of education, the Ministry, and any political plots around the boy." He handed it over. "The search goblins were concerned that the boys are at their house."
"Hmm, they'll learn I'm sure." He took the painting. "I do miss our talks, Madam Cordelia." He walked off to put them in his study in a place of honor. Narcissa came in looking at him oddly. He smiled and pointed. "Madam Cordelia. I'm sure you remember her from the house."
"I do," she said, curtseying to them. They both smiled at her.
"This is Draco's mother, madam. And your cousin?"
"Eleanor Mercator." Lucius' eyes went wide.
Narcissa smiled. "Proof that the current thought on witches being lesser is wrong. It is most wonderful to meet you, madam."
"Such nice manners," she said happily. "The boys are being boys but good. They're doing their homework and we found some things odd. Do you have the time to talk about the current education problems?"
"Of course. I don't have a meeting tonight," he said, getting some brandy and pulling a chair over. "What did you want to know?"
"Are things so weak minded at the Ministry that we let ghosts teach?" she asked.
Narcissa laughed. "Dumbledore favors him. Draco knows he is to use the time wisely to study more important things, including correct history."
"Wonderful." She beamed. "You know, Cordelia was quite excellent at using herbology to create her own needs and desires."
"I did learn quite a lot from her during my schooling," Lucius promised. "I should have learned more really." Cordelia smiled at them as well. They settled in to talk about what was necessary for the boys' education. Lucius understood her desires for her heir perfectly. He'd make a wonderful minion for the family.
Ron snapped his book shut and looked around then hissed at Harry, nodding his head. Harry nodded quickly and even Draco was tired of studying so he followed. The local village was less than a mile away. Draco had on sunscreen, grudgingly admitting the muggle stuff worked better after a morning in the garden, so they were good to go. They found the town. It had a few shops, an open-air market that was loud, and a few houses too.
One man stopped to stare at the strangers, realizing one wasn't so much a stranger. "Excuse me," he said respectfully, not looking in his face. "Are you a Potter by chance?"
Harry nodded. "I am. I'm Harry." The man stared, gaping in awe. He smiled. "I just found the family home this summer."
The man nodded quickly, backing up a step. "I'm sure they've left you things to learn about their ways."
"I'm not like Eleanor," he said quietly, glancing around. "I'm still a student, would love for everyone to ignore me forever more, and I don't want to rule anyone."
The man smiled. "Then you are not like the rest of your family for generations. Your first time in town?"
"It is," Harry said with a smile. "These are my mates, Ron and Draco." The man nodded at them too, not looking them in the face either. "Is it okay if we browse around?" The man nodded, waving a hand. "Can we change our usual money to local money?" he asked quietly, glancing around.
"Ask the bartender at the inn. He can do such." Harry clapped him on the arm and walked off with the other boys. The man sighed in relief. Truly, he was much different than the usual member of the family.
Harry walked into the inn. "Hello," he told the bartender.
The man stared, mouth slightly open. "You're a Potter."
"I am, I'm Harry," he said, starting to get the feeling this was a bad idea.
"The Harry Potter?"
Harry nodded. "Yup, 'fraid so."
"Ah," the man said, sounding nervous.
"I was told we could change some of our allowance here?"
"Yes!" he said quickly, going to get his box for that. He used the conversion chart in there and changed out money for all three. "There you go. That should allow you to pick up some fresh supplies, but I would watch the melon seller. She isn't one of you."
Harry beamed. "Thank you for that information. We were told the town was mixed. Is there anywhere else we shouldn't go?"
"Usually this inn is very rowdy at night. Too much for boys your age."
Harry nodded. "I understand. Thank you, sir." They walked off, going to check out the market first. Draco walked off to look in a shop's window. The other two had to follow. He grinned at that bit of showing off. "Look, books."
"We have plenty of books," Ron complained. "Unless there's comics?"
"They'll rot your mind," Draco said.
"So?" Ron retorted. "They're *fun*. It's our vacation, Draco. Have some fun."
"Fine," he muttered, letting them go in to look for comics. Why he wasn't sure. They were dumb and childish.
Harry looked at him. "We're twelve; yes, comics are meant for guys our age." He found the section and made a happy noise.
Ron stared. "These aren't the ones I usually get," he said, tipping his head some. "I have no idea what any of these are about."
"They're in Portugese," Draco said. Ron and Harry both stared at him so he butted out. They could waste their money if they wanted. He went to look at the other books. Ron pulled him back and handed him one. He grimaced at the character on the front but he was supposedly a sorcerer. That was like a wizard. He cast the translation charm for himself and glanced through it. He paused, rereading a section. "It doesn't work that way."
Ron looked at him. "We don't know everything yet as you told Hermione." He got back to it, ignoring the weak swat Draco gave him. He really had to teach the guy how to punch.
"I do just fine in that field," Draco muttered.
Harry looked at them then shook his head. "Aliens?" he suggested, handing over one even *he* had heard of. Draco put that first one back and looked at that one. Ron decided what he wanted. Harry picked out two.
"Why doesn't he just use a broom?" Draco muttered, staring at it in confusion.
"Get it and see," Ron said, handing him another one in that series that was hidden behind some other comics. Draco bought them and they went to the market. Harry got a few pairs of socks. Ron found the candy seller and they stared at the choices. None of them had eaten muggle candy. They got what they wanted and walked off. "Odd, it doesn't move," Ron said.
"Hmm, honey," Draco said, taking his piece out to kill some of the honey taste. Then he went back to it a minute later. "Interesting." They got a few more things and went to look around the rest of the village. It was tiny, nothing really interesting was going on. A fight that everyone was watching. Harry felt someone's hand on his pocket and broke their hand. Draco looked. "Hmm, interesting."
Harry looked back and the man gasped, backing away nearly crying as he ran for the officer to babble at him. "I'm not *that* mean," he complained. "Usually."
"Unless you wake him up in the middle of the night," Ron agreed.
"Yes, Mistress Eleanor was the same way," the officer said. "He said he's very sorry, Mr. Potter."
"That's fine. I'm sure he won't try to rob anyone again," he said dryly. The officer beamed at him and told the thief that. The thief nodded and ran for the church to thank God for his life. Harry shook his head. "My father and I weren't like Eleanor," he told the officer, walking over there. "I'm not mean. I'm not evil. I'm a nice kid most of the time unless you attack me."
"Yes, but there is the fear that your family may rejoin you to train you and they will not be."
"You can do that?" Harry asked.
"We suppose they can. Mistress Eleanor has said in the past that if we upset her too much she would do such."
Harry shook his head. "I'm still a student."
"Then we will see where you fall in the family's light." Harry nodded, walking off with the other two. He followed to make sure nothing happened and to see if he was right and the boy was the nice one because he liked boys. That was something they didn't really like around the town but if he was a Potter, he was a law unto himself. He saw them to their gate then hurried back to the town. His boss looked at him so he pulled him aside to tell him who that had been, what he had said, and what he thought about the boy. He wasn't sure if being gay would make him more or less evil. The priest would hate it but he knew not to speak against the Potter family too.
Harry looked at his aunt that night. She had called for him to come in there when he had gotten done with dinner. "Yes, Aunt?"
"Harry, would you like to change schools?" she asked. "It appears the British system is irreparably broken."
Harry snickered. "Just a bit, yeah. I don't know. We can talk about it."
"Good boy. The local one is very academically strong. It would give you the skills you need to do whatever. Especially since Lucius said that there is a prophecy about you and that Lord Voldemort weakling."
"Yes, a prophecy."
"Do we know it? Guys?" he called. They came in from the next room. "Draco, your dad found a prophecy about me?"
"Um, yes. Father told me there's one a few years back. Does he have a copy? I know he heard it."
"Yes," Eleanor said. "He told me." She repeated it and they all stared at Harry.
"Why me?" he asked. "I didn't ask the arse to come after my family! Why did he even come after me?"
"That birthday code at the front. He made it happen," Draco realized.
"Yes, if he had left it alone, it would not have happened."
"Am I the only wizard born at the end of July?" Harry asked Ron.
"Probably not. Neville and you share the same birthday." Draco looked at him oddly then burst out laughing. "Neville could if anyone taught him anything."
"We'd love to meet more of your friends, children," Eleanor said.
Harry looked at her. "His parents were put into a bad state by torture from Death Eaters," he told her. "She's paranoid about his safety."
"How would the child protect himself?" Eleanore asked.
"Neville's killer in herbology so maybe he'd get something to help him," Ron said.
"Hmm. Cordelia was excellent at that. I'll have to introduce them." She smiled at Harry. "So we'll get you able to defend yourself and others, dear."
"It's vacation, can we have a few fun days?" he begged.
"Well, yes. Of course or you won't remember anything." She smiled. "What did you get today?"
She blinked a few times. "Comics?"
"Yes, comics. Fun reading," Ron told her. "We're young guys."
"True. That's fine. Do you learn anything from them?"
"No. That's the point," Ron assured her.
"Hmm. That's fine. It's mind clearing. As you said, you are on vacation, but we do now have a portrait at the school so we can help when you need it." She smiled. Harry gave her a pointed look. "What, dear?"
"Are they going to be scared of me too?"
"It's respect," she corrected.
"Someone tried to pickpocket me and nearly hugged me when he figured out I was me and I was letting him go. He ran to a church to pray, Aunt Eleanor."
He sighed. "I'd like to have real respect. People who want to listen to me because I know what I'm talking about, not because they're scared of my name or what I did to Voldemort, or anything like that."
"I don't understand," she admitted. Harry sighed and walked off, making the boys go with him. She watched them walk off, then went to talk to the teacher. She had no idea why the boy would want that. It would take out all the benefits of the family. McGonagall told her how the boy was treated his first year and the start of his second, until the binding. That made her think. Well, she could do something about that through her newest minion. He might be stubborn but it'd be fine. They'd be able to help and support him.
Bill read the newest newspaper clipping his mother had sent him. It wasn't something that made him happy. He sent it on to the boys. He was sure Harry wasn't really turning into a dark lord. No matter how much his family was pushing. But it might help him in his studies at the least. He hoped. It sounded like things were going to get bad at home again.
Remus got an emergency owl and frowned at the contents. That wasn't good news. He went to hand it to Harry. On his way to yell at Eleanor. It was very stress relieving really.
Harry read it and groaned.
Ron looked over at him. "At least you'd be a humane one." Harry thumped him with a book.
"Ow!" Draco complained, rubbing his new sore spot. "Some of us are more delicate than that, Potter."
"Whine," he said dryly, handing over the clipping. "From your father."
Draco read it over, shaking his head. "You're about to be a third year. There's no way you can take over for him for at least a few years." He put it aside. "Then we'd have to see." Harry glared at him too. "You may if you wish."
"I don't wish," Harry ground out.
"That's fine," Draco agreed calmly. Harry was glaring harder. "That's up to you. I won't push. You can do whatever you want with your future as long as it doesn't get me dead."
"Whatever," Ron said. "Calm down, Harry, before you leak magic and make things explode." Harry stomped off, leaking magic. Fortunately whenever Harry leaked magic the bond weakened. They felt him stomp outside and then winced at the explosion. Then the second and third ones. Ron looked at Draco. "Please don't piss him off? We'll have a headache later."
"I didn't mean to insinuate he was going to become one!" They felt the pull starting and headed out after Harry. "I did a lot of work to fix that," Draco complained. Harry moaned, holding his head. "Sorry. I'll fix it again." He pulled his wand to start casting repair spells.
Ron looked at the family staring from the portrait. He shrugged. "Draco pissed him off." He moved closer. "C'mon, let's get a nap." Harry nodded, walking off holding his head.
Draco sighed. "It's not my fault I don't understand the way you two are," he complained as he followed them. "You're more confusing than girls!"
"I don't believe you were that strong, Eleanor," one of the older aunts said patiently.
"Not at his age. Which is probably a bad sign of what's happened to him in the past." They shared a look and had the house elves finish fixing the damage. Dobby loved doing things to help Harry.
Molly Weasley stormed up to Narcissa Malfoy waving the paper. "Have you seen this trash?" she demanded.
"His family is trying to teach him from their own experiences," she said calmly. "Some people are taking it the wrong way. You know that rag is nothing more than gossip most of the time."
"They're saying he's turning dark! Harry Potter turning dark!"
Narcissa sighed. "My son would never take an assistant's place to anyone. Draco has said they're teaching them real history, some defense work, and some transfiguration." Molly calmed a bit at that. "That your son has had them sneak off a few times for some relaxation time. Harry's godfather has been helping and making sure that the family's influence is lessened."
She relaxed fully at that. "Thank you, Narcissa."
"It is no problem, Molly, but calm yourself before your temper causes your heart problems and your children have to miss you."
Molly snorted. "I doubt it would happen. It makes me stronger not to keep it in." She smiled. "They're coming back the week before?" Narcissa nodded. "Are they staying at the Leaky?"
"That is the plan as I know them."
"Wonderful." She smiled. "I'll be inviting them over for a few lunches."
"That would be fine. We'll have dinner a few times." Molly beamed at her and walked off. Narcissa noticed some people staring but that was fine. She was a Malfoy spouse, she was used to it. Ron Weasley and Harry Potter would have to get used to it and she could guide them there. She went back to her shopping. She had to wear out her own temper and she was not able to indulge herself the same way the Weasley matriarch could. Especially not in public.
Harry reappeared first, then Ron and Draco piled into him as the portkey landed them in the same spot. He groaned. Ron got up with a moan of his own. Draco hopped up and checked himself in a nearby window. He helped Harry up. "Are we all here?" Harry asked.
"Dobby's bringing all the gear and the owls," Ron said.
"So, Leaky Cauldron," Harry suggested. "Check in, get our school supplies?"
"A good idea," a male voice said from behind them. "For a change."
"Professor Snape," all three boys said, Draco smiling at him. He pointed and they walked toward the Leaky. Harry got them signed in and up in their shared room. The professor already had his from earlier. He met them coming back down. "There are a few things you should hear," he said calmly. "Where is your godmut?"
Harry glared. "Leave my godfather alone please, Professor. He's been fighting off the family wanting me to take over for months."
Snape raised an eyebrow. "Why would they think you could?"
"His great-aunt, Eleanor, decided so," Draco said with a small shrug. "What's happened now? More moves by the Headmaster? My parents are in trouble? Weasley's parents are in trouble?"
"What would my parents do to get in trouble?" Ron asked, looking confused.
"There is an escaped convict who we believe will be coming for Mr. Potter," Snape said.
Remus coughed. "I've already told him about Sirius," he said when the professor stared at him. "If Sirius should show up, Harry and the boys will be very well protected." Snape sneered at him. They both heard the growl and looked at Harry. "You need a nap?"
"Or a dog biscuit?" Snape sneered.
"We're a bit tired from traveling," Draco said smoothly, mentally ranting at Potter to contain himself. Ron was doing the same thing and joking he was the one with the temper.
"Finally," Narcissa said as she walked up to the group. "Draco."
"Mother." He let her kiss him on the cheek. "Are you all right? You look tired."
"I was worried how the sun would affect you, my son." She looked him over. "Your hair bleached lighter. You've grown as well. No sunburns?"
"No. My mates' friend dared me to try this muggle concoction and it seemed to work to keep me from burning at all. I'm amazed but it seems to be worth something."
"Hmm. I'll have to look into that."
"It comes with an anti-grease formula as well," he said with a smile. He took her arm. "We should take this discussion out of the open."
"If the boys were ready, I was going to take them to get their supplies," Narcissa said with a smile. "Remus." Lucius said he was an ally even if he was a werewolf so she could be socially polite. Today.
"Narcissa." He nodded with a smile. "The boys were good the whole time I was there. Even when they snuck off."
"Wonderful." She looked at them. "Are you tired, boys?"
"We can rest before dinner," Harry said.
She checked the clock then him. "We'll go later then. It will probably take longer than an hour." The boys smiled and ran back up to their room. She looked at Remus. "That ...convict?"
"If he shows up, I'll handle it." She beamed at him. "Do you have their lists?"
"They were sent to us." She handed them over. "Then I'm going to fix that tragic mistake known as Mr. Potter's wardrobe." She walked off happier.
Snape and Remus shook their heads. Then they glared at each other. "I'll be teaching defense," Remus said.
"Then you should be prepared for the meeting tomorrow morning. Including that the headmaster does not want him going to town."
"Well, that's tough. I doubt there's any problems coming." He stared at him. "If so, I'll handle it for them."
"If you're sure." He walked off. "The meeting is at ten. I'm here to help protect them."
"That's fine." Remus went to get his own room and lay down for an hour. The boys were driving him nuts. They weren't being bad but... They were being twelve-year-old boys.
Narcissa smiled at them. "Finally." She waved a hand. "Food?" They fell on it like they were starved. She snickered quietly. "Every young man goes through that stage, boys. Try to show some manners though." They slowed down and ate with more manners before she swatted them. Draco had warned she would. Lucius showed up, grimacing at a chair before sitting carefully on it.
Draco and Ron both looked at Harry. "You needed to sleep longer," Draco said dryly. "That was a bad thought." Remus came down and Draco had to shift down because Remus made him and his mother shot him a look to be polite.
"Good evening, boys." He sat down, getting his own sandwich. "Thank you for ordering, Narcissa."
"It's no trouble," she promised. "Anything for my son."
Lucius looked at them. "The reports I got from Eleanor were mostly good, though she did say Mr. Potter confused her a few times."
"That's because she wanted people to fear and look at her in awe. I'd rather be left alone and respected," Harry said before eating another bite of sandwich.
"No, someone like her would not understand such urges," Narcissa agreed. "Though, if you should develop a public shield it may help some of that, Mr. Potter. They would ignore you more often, or at least leave you alone."
"Can't I just hide?" he asked, looking at her.
"No, then they'll search you out. If you ignore it, they'll think you're doing uninteresting things instead," Lucius said. "Draco can help you both with that this upcoming year." He looked at his son. "I see you grew."
"I did, Father. Three inches," Draco said happily.
"Wonderful. I'm sure your mother can take care of those needs."
"I'll be making sure the other two look like Malfoy spouses as well," she said happily. "Plus getting their school supplies. Then, when Remus has that meeting, Ronald's mother has asked for them to come for lunch." Ron beamed at her. "You can take your older things home to store them in the attic or whatever you do with them." She smiled at the boys. "We'll be having a formal dinner somewhere of better food quality the next night so you can look over things I may have forgotten to get you between the two."
"Yes, mum," Draco said. He mentally sent at the others to not piss his mother off. Shopping was her way of ranting at the unfairness of things and she would take it out on them if they didn't agree to go with her.
"Yes, ma'am," the other two said.
"Good boys. Finish up. The stores will be closing in a mere three hours."
"The bank closes in an hour so Mr. Potter can run down soon," Lucius said.
Narcissa looked at him. "They are Malfoy spouses."
"We haven't decided on the last name issue," Harry told her. "None of us really want to lose our last names. We'll figure that out when we graduate."
She smiled. "You're still Malfoy spouses. He is the higher ranking spouse." The boys finished up and left with her.
"At least the boy tried to save our vault," Lucius sighed.
Remus smiled. "He is a thoughtful boy most of the time." Lucius got a drink and settled in to hear how much this shopping trip was going to cost him.
Harry walked up to Lucius later on that evening, glancing around. "Save us?" he begged quietly. "Please?"
Lucius hesitantly patted him on the back. "Pray to Merlin that Draco does not pick that up from his mother."
"If so, I'm locking the vaults." He looked around again. "She bought you something to tease you. She said to tell you that. It was the same place she got us these really uncomfortable silk boxers." He walked off trying not to pull at them.
Lucius got another drink before going home. It was probably another gold leaf covered skimpy outfit. She did adore them, no matter how bad they looked on her. The boys were on their own about the silk boxers. He had learned to deal with them long ago, or conveniently just forgot to wear any.
Harry walked into the bank, the others behind him. He presented his key. The goblin looked at him. "Mr. Potter. Mr. Malfoy and Weasley. We have found the missing allowance pouches." He smiled. "The manager has those for you." He sent a messenger to get them.
"Thank you," Harry said with a smile. "How is Bill?"
"Curse breaker Weasley is doing just fine, Mr. Potter. He'll be in tomorrow night."
"That's wonderful. We're avoiding doing some shopping," he said quietly.
"We saw Mrs. Malfoy out last night." Draco smirked at him for that. The manager came out. "Mr. Potter is looking to avoid being seen for a bit."
"My office will do such a task," he agreed dryly, leading them there. "I have already gotten Mrs. Malfoys charge slips," he assured them once the door was closed. "We understand." He grabbed a bag and poured the contents on the desk. "I believe those are yours."
Harry beamed and gathered them together. "Will I have problems this year?"
Harry looked inside, blinking. "That's a lot of allowance."
"We can reduce it," the goblin assured him. "One hundred?"
Draco looked at Harry. "I didn't think your vault was that big."
"His trust one was meant to only last during his school years," the goblin said. "It was divided equally."
"How about twenty?" Harry asked. "There's nothing in Hogsmede that should cost more than that. Anything left can move back to the main vault?" The goblin nodded. "Thank you."
He wrote out the order and let Harry sign it. "It will be started tonight. Are you going to put some of that back?"
"We need to buy some normal boxers," Ron said. "I don't know how Draco's father does it." He tugged at his.
The goblin smirked, making the boys shiver. "I believe half the time he simply forgets to put any on." The boys all gaped at that. "Many wizards do so." He gave Harry the accounting paperwork. "Your vaults. The money was found and returned."
"Thank you." Harry read it over, signing it at the end to say he had seen it. "Wonderful of you. Your help has been wonderful."
"You're welcome, Mr. Potter. If you could help us keep your aunt somewhere else?"
"She's promised to show up and help us with our defense work but I think there's only one painting outside the house," Harry offered.
"Yes, it's at Malfoy manor, to talk him into retraining his minions to be more useable."
"Well, if he can make Fudge a better being," Harry said dryly, cracking Draco up, making him shake his head.
The goblin looked at him. "It'd be a miracle that no being has ever performed," he said sarcastically. "He should start over. It'd be easier."
"Maybe," Ron agreed. "My father thinks so too." The goblin smiled and shook his head. "Thank you." They left, going to Olivander's. Ron gave Harry an odd look.
"We agree, you have to get one fitted to you, Ron," Harry said. "Before that one causes more problems." He pushed him inside.
"Harry, I can...."
"Shut up or I'm not buying any chocolate frogs for the next month?" Harry joked. "Yes, you can."
Ron huffed. "I can't...."
Draco covered his mouth. "Shut up, Weasley. Before you end up damaging us and yourself."
"Fine," he huffed.
"Thank you," Draco said dryly. "It's always best to say 'thank you' to any present, even ones you don't want. Otherwise you seem like an ungrateful spouse who's a whinger."
Olivander laughed. "Yes, some day he may...." He stared at them. "How did they do that?"
"Lockhart," Ron said dryly.
"I heard about that. I take it someone's wand isn't correct?"
"Ron's is broken," Harry said. "I think mine fits."
"We can check. This is a life and magic changing event." He pulled down some for Ron's new wand. It took about six and a few storms, plus a fire, but he had a new wand that worked. The other two worked well enough so Olivander let them keep them. The boys paid and left to go to the bookstore for comics. Ron was leading the way, he insisted.
Then they went to lunch to let Molly fuss over them.
The trio finally got to escape onto the train, hiding in their compartment. They had some people try to get close to Harry on the platform. Ginny walked on with Ron's pet rat in a cage and her trunk. "Finally," she complained.
He shrugged. "They wanted to mob Harry."
Hermione walked in with Neville. "I see you spent some time fooling around outside," she said with a smile.
"We escaped to town, where everyone thought Harry was scary and a poofter," Ron said with a grin. "No matter how much we corrected it."
Hermione sat down, staring at them. "So, how was it otherwise?"
"His family is slightly insane," Draco admitted, pulling out a book. "Most of them are quite firm in the belief that Harry can do whatever he wants, including following a few of the older relatives into public service as a dark lord, albeit a nice one."
"Excuse me?" Hermione demanded.
"My great-aunt was Eleanor Mercator," Harry started.
"OH!" Neville said, his eyes going wide. "She never took out anyone that wasn't threatening the wizarding world but she was a scary woman. One of the few women to ever make it to Minister for Magic."
"So I'm told," Harry agreed. "She's going to be helping us in defense and another relative will be helping us with herbology if you wanted to listen in," he offered.
"I might not mind," Neville said with a smile. "It's said she pioneered some things we still use today, Harry."
"Cool. Oh!" He dug into his carry-on bag, handing over a small box. "All in stasis. I found the box at the market down there. Some herbs, some flowers. There's one in there with Hermione's name on it that's a tropical flower."
Neville beamed. "Thank you!" Hermione beamed too, helping him look over the plants.
Ginny looked at Ron. "Did I get anything?"
"You can steal all the silk boxers Draco's mum made us buy." Neville gave him an odd look. "She insisted."
Draco nodded behind his book. "Mother likes them, thinks they're good for men." He turned the page. "You get used to them but they're comfortable to sleep in."
"Aren't comfortable to wear under things, but sleeping was okay," Ron agreed.
"I was thinking about going the way your Dad did now and then, just not wear them," Harry admitted. Hermione and Ginny both blushed. "Gotta feel better than it crawling up my bum."
"Probably," Hermione said, coughing to clear her throat. The trolley witch showed up and Ron pouted until Harry bought him the promised chocolate frogs. Draco held up a hand and got one too but Harry was giving him an odd look.
"Thank you, Potter. Since you stole all my covered pretzels."
"They were good," Ron said.
"That's why I buy them," Draco agreed dryly. He opened it and nibbled while turned the page and going on with his reading.
"Did you tour the local school?" Hermione asked.
"No. Not after some thief tried Harry and went to pray that Harry let him go after just breaking his hand," Ron said before biting the head off his chocolate frog.
The other three stared at him. "Why?" Hermione asked.
"Aunt Eleanor," Harry told her.
"Oh," she said, sounding flat and dismayed. "I see."
Harry smirked. "I told her I wanted to be respected, not feared."
"I can fully understand that," she agreed. Luna opened the cabin door. "Good afternoon, Luna."
"Happy Friday," she said cheerfully. "Harry, the Slytherins are wondering if Draco is still one of them or not. They're a bit scared that you're starting a new movement of some sort and he's now your second-in-command." Harry's mouth was full so he pointed at Ron. "I'll tell them."
"You can tell my friends they can visit," Draco said dryly. "I'm right here, Lovegood." He looked up at her. "The bond is more vast now. I can probably get a whole car away if any of them had found me."
"I can do that." She skipped off. She ran into Pansy Parkinson. "Draco said the link is more vast and he could get a whole car away if his friends actually wanted to find him." Luna beamed. "Harry said Ron's still his second-in-command."
Pansy gave her an odd look. "What?"
"Some of you were wondering. I told him so he'd know." She went back to her compartment.
Pansy shook her head quickly. "That girl is *strange*," she complained to one of the older Slytherins.
"Yes, she is. So is Malfoy still a Slytherin?"
"I can go check." She walked up to Gryff territory, finding the crowded compartment. "Draco." He closed his book and put it away, walking off with her. "You could've said you needed saved."
"I didn't need saved," he said dryly. "They're always very polite around me." He smirked. "I do believe Potter laid down the law."
"Possibly." She noticed him swallowing so stopped. "Not as much as you thought."
He held up a hand and concentrated then they were able to make it to the next car. "I can lengthen it for a while but it's not permanent," he told her. She ran to get Crabbe and Goyle, plus a few others. They kicked a few of the older Slytherins out, all of who gave Draco a long stare.
"Is it true Potter's grandmother was a dark lord?" Goyle asked as he walked in.
"Great-aunt actually. Eleanor Mercator." They all gaped and he smirked. "She was quite firm all summer long. We had to sneak off from her lectures and teachings."
"Wow," Pansy said. Harry walked in and sat down, Ron with him. "Excuse us," she said.
"We got a death threat," Harry said, handing it to Draco.
Draco looked at the stationary. "Hmm." He put it into his bag. "Did you want to take it to Professor Lupin?"
"I heard he's a *werewolf*," Pansy said with a grimace of distaste.
"And Potter's godfather," Draco agreed. They all stared at Harry.
Harry nodded. "Yeah, Dumbledore set it up when he was a student. One of the pranking guys my father hung about with. He said they became animagus to hang out with him when he was changed."
Crabbe blinked. "Think he'd tell anyone else? I always wanted to try."
"Ask him," Ron said with a shrug. "He's a nice guy. He brought down a portrait of McGonagall to help ease Harry's aunt off his bum." Pansy snickered at that. "They had a long talk about the current teachings. Apparently she hated Binns when she was one of us."
"I think that's mutual," Goyle agreed. "Was he alive then?" Harry nodded. "Huh. That was a long time ago."
"She made us study royal and war histories this summer," Draco told him. They all moaned. "Plus defense, transfiguration, and some charms."
"We had to sneak away every few days," Ron told them, getting a grin back from Draco's friends. "Nice small town but they're all scared of Harry's family."
"I don't know why they'd be scared of me since I'm so young," Harry complained. He got comfortable. "What are we doing about that?"
"I'm giving it to Professor Snape," Draco said simply. "Then letting my father know he has it."
Ron looked over. "Your mum's scarier."
"Yes, but I save my mother for the *big* threats. Father is for the general threats." They all smirked at that. "Any other teachers beyond Lupin on with us?"
"Just him I think," Harry admitted. He looked at the Slytherins. "We don't mind if you guys show up to hang out with Draco if they put us in the same room. It sucked that our friends came down and you didn't. We almost felt sorry for him." They got up and left, going to find Remus. Halfway there, the train stopped and Harry shivered. "Cold," he muttered. His breath was fogging in the air. "Ron?"
Draco came rushing out. "Potter, dementors!" Harry shuddered, letting Draco handle it. Remus came rushing out to handle it for them. Once they were gone and the train was going on, he handed out chocolate.
Remus looked at Harry. "Are you all right?"
Harry shook his head. "I heard that night," he said quietly.
Remus stared at him then hugged him. "They would be proud of you," he whispered. "I know I am. We'll work on that." Harry nodded quickly, letting Remus pull back.
"What're dementors doing bothering the train?" Draco demanded.
Remus looked at him. "They're looking for Sirius Black."
"So they'll be at the school?" Ron demanded.
"Hell no!" Draco shouted.
"Seconded," Harry said weakly. He ate the chocolate, thinking about it. "What does Sirius want?"
"I have no idea," he admitted quietly. "If I could find the bastard, I'd ask him as I beat the hell out of him."
"Hell, I'm Harry Potter, he'll show up around us sometime," Harry said dryly. He walked off.
Ron looked at Draco, who shuddered. "He's probably right."
"No probably about it, he's right," Draco said dryly. "I really must learn more defense."
"You two can both join Harry's extra lessons with me," Remus said with a smirk. They groaned but walked off. Remus went to check on the students. There was no reason for Sirius to have been anywhere near the train, even if he was tracking Harry.
Harry walked up to McGonagall that night, handing over the shrunken portrait. "Thank you, ma'am."
"It was not a problem and I'm sure I helped her quite a lot, Mr. Potter." She stared at him. "How strong is your link?"
"We can get about a train car apart most of the time."
"So probably a few floors but not from say the dorms?"
Ron nodded. "Mostly. Usually we're good about three-quarters of that and have to push it further. That'll work for a bit but not more than a few hours."
"I'll take that into account with your schedules." They smiled. "And the rooming situation."
The headmaster looked over. "I thought that would be solved."
"It is mostly, sir. To the level of separate classes but the books all said that was about as far as they'd allow normally." He sighed in displeasure. "We're still working on it. We finally have fully functioning shields between us."
"That is good to hear," McGonagall said with a smile. "Go eat, boys." They nodded and left.
Ron came back. "Draco has the death threat we got earlier to give to Professor Snape later."
"I'll have a look at that myself," she said firmly. He beamed and went to sit down. She looked at Draco, who sighed and brought it up. She read it and grimaced. "Severus." He came over to get it and grimaced as well.
"I was going to be subtle and give it to you tonight," he said. "They're paranoid thanks to a few members of the family wanting to do spells to make Harry stronger." He went back to his seat.
The headmaster looked. "Is it a threat?"
"Quite," Severus said, handing it to him.
The headmaster grimaced in distaste. McGonagall left to get the first years. He handed it back. "Let me know if we have to do anything about that."
"I shall." He sat down to think on that problem. He looked at Remus Lupin. "He does not want him able to go to town."
"Harry is very careful and would simply find a way around that," he said dryly. "As we once did."
"I don't like to think on those things," Snape said stiffly.
Remus looked at him. "I was not aware of his plan that night," he said quietly. "When I find him, you can kick him around a bit as well." Snape nodded slightly, starting to look smug. "Then we can calm his aunt down."
"I had a few talks with her. She wanted me to be stronger on the students academically. I did inform her what dunderheads we presently have as students. She was not amused and wanted to start at the top and work her way back down straightening things out."
"I wish her much luck," Remus said dryly. "Please start with Fudge."
Flitwick looked down. "I'm not sure if anyone has that strong of a stomach."
"We talked a bit when she was here."
"She is quite firm in her desire to see the educational standards raised again," Snape told him.
Flitwick smiled. "I heard." He smiled as the first years came in. "A good sized class."
"A bit small," Snape countered. "We usually get a few more yearly." They waited through the sorting ceremony then dinner was served.
After dinner, Severus followed his students down to the dorm, looking them over. "Mr. Malfoy, I believe you live upstairs."
"According to the note on my plate I don't," he said, looking like he was having a migraine and an asthma attack at the same time. He swallowed and looked up. "Beyond that, we need to be here for the first night's lecture."
Severus nodded and made it quick this time. The first years were exhausted, like usual. Draco walked off looking less than concerned but the other two were clearly getting closer as well. Severus followed, finding McGonagall doing the same. Severus summoned the house listing since she had hers. "I see I have two other inhabitants this year," he said.
"I was wondering why our room only had enough beds for the others," Ron said tiredly. He was rubbing his throat and upper chest. Harry gave him a nudge closer to Draco and they both relaxed further once their arms made contact. Harry touched Draco's arm and it was better for all of them.
"Are we done soothing each other?" Snape demanded.
Harry looked at him. "Too long and he could die," he said quietly.
"I knew that. Did you not get the book your guardian sent?"
"This summer finally."
Snape sighed. "No wonder the goblins were looking for things."
"His allowance and all of Bill's letters too," Ron told him. "It's nice someone cleaned so well during the summer too. Things look spiffier this year."
He looked at McGonagall, who looked pissed. "We have a room they can take up. Then next year they can have your house?"
Draco looked at him. "Some of the upper years will kill them," he pointed out.
Snape looked at him. "I can make sure they do not even think of such thoughts." He looked at McGonagall. "Or are you going to talk to him?"
"I've already talked to him. He said it was for the best to keep them in a house. He did say that they could stay on their teams."
"Charming," Snape sighed. He looked at the boys. He summoned the house elf for Slytherin. "Is that Prefect's room populated with three beds and their things?"
"One bed, three dressers, Professor," she reported with a squeak at the end. She stared at them. "Potters have not been one of our children for years."
McGonagall shuddered. "They're still Gryffindors, Moppy." She nodded at that. "Severus?"
"We shall try it but the first time there's a fight, I'll be correcting things." The boys gave him a pointed look. "On either side." They nodded and followed him.
Draco walked in first. "Seventh years please?" he called. They came back down the stairs in time to see their head of house walk in with the other two. "The headmaster," he said at the horrified looks.
Ron shrugged. "No clue, just got the note at dinner."
"Well, I suppose we can replace Malfoy with Potter on the team," one of them said dryly.
"No, the headmaster has said that they're on their own team," Draco said dryly.
"That was what he told Professor McGonagall," Snape agreed. He stared at them. "There is a prefect's room that they'll be taking up. They shall not have any problems."
"Could be worse," one sighed. "Could be Granger. Or Longbottom. At least most Weasleys are slightly temperamental."
"If it helps, most of my family were Slytherin," Harry offered. He pulled out the picture he had grabbed from his trunk before getting off the train and put it on an empty wall.
Cordelia sighed. "This is *wonderful*! They redecorated since the last time I was here." She beamed at the seventh years. "Now, who am I tutoring in herbology and who is my cousin Eleanor tutoring in other things?"
"Bloody hell, you're Cordelia Bankman," one said in awe.
"Why, yes, child, I am." She beamed back.
"How did you get her painting?" one of the Slytherins asked Harry.
"She's a cousin." He grinned. "As I said, most of us who went here were Slytherin."
Draco nodded. "Eleanor especially."
"Yes, your father has been found to be a wonderful family minion, Draco love." She beamed at him. "He'll do quite well helping Eleanor making changes that she desires in the modern world." Draco gave her an odd look. "Well, he's not as strong as her. You know that rule."
"Quite," he admitted quietly. "I'll let him figure that one out himself. I hate to make him mad enough to yell." He looked at the professor. "Which prefect's room?"
"The one with the pretty view," Cordelia said with a smile. "The headmaster was most displeased that you three had to share another room but we did switch things with a former headmaster's help to get you a window. Otherwise you'd be in that small room behind the entry wall." Draco shuddered. "Exactly."
"Thank you, ma'am," Harry said.
"You're welcome, Harry, and I told you to call me by my name."
"Yes, Cousin Cordelia."
"Good boy. Now, go rest. You need it before things tomorrow." They went to their room.
Eleanor pushed her way in. She looked over the staring seniors. "Well, not much time to mold you so you can make positive changes for the wizarding world but we can try, shall we?"
"Who're you?" one of the girls asked.
"Eleanor Potter-Mercator, dear. You?"
"Ah! I knew your grandmother. Such a charming young woman. Very Hufflepuff but very nice and polite. Very strong willed when you upset her."
"Yes, ma'am, I have had the pleasure of meeting that strong will a few times as a child."
"Of course, that's why you're so good now." Sybil nodded quickly. "Have a good night, dears, if Severus doesn't need you." They fled back to their rooms. Eleanor sighed, looking at her cousin. "My year were stronger willed," she said quietly. "We'll have to help tutor them. Their education has been lacking and the current society isn't strong anymore."
"We will, dear cousin. You know we will."
She smiled. "I know. It will be fine by the time our Harry graduates."
Snape walked into the room, looking around. He touched the wall. "They are not married in that manner and are too young to share a bed as a marriage should." Three beds appeared instead. "Thank you." He let the wall go. "Try to rest. We'll see if we can fix this in the morning." They nodded, going to the attached bathroom to get ready for bed. Severus went back down there, staring at the ladies. "Do not warp my students. I have been subtly showing them what they need to learn but some have not gotten the point yet and probably won't until they're on their own."
"We'll simply tutor in classes and help with research," Eleanor said with a smile.
Severus glared at her. "I do not believe that."
"Well, we may help...strengthen a few backbones. They're fairly limp these days."
"The whole world is." He left them to their plotting. If it got that bad, he'd put them back in the entryway.
Cordelia looked around. "I don't see the House potions box."
"I got told they removed it after some students misused it."
"That's their fault. How else are you supposed to get calming potions for the first years when they panicked?" Cordelia complained.
"They go to the infirmary," the Bloody Baron noted as he faded in. "Lady Cordelia. Lady Eleanor." They both smiled at him. "Do not warp the students or I shall have them remove you from our house, children." He stared at them.
Eleanor smiled at him "It's nice to see you still haunting and trying to terrorize the students, Baron."
"I'd bounce and try to hug you but I know I can't as a painting," Cordelia told him.
He stared at them. "Do heed my warning." He left to tell Severus they had *plans* for their students.
The next morning, Harry and Ron walked over to their table for breakfast, getting dirty looks. "Not like we changed houses," Ron said dryly. "The stupid link won't let us live in our own dorms." He flipped his tie. "See, no green in it."
Harry looked at them. "Next year he's coming up to live in our dorms." The upper years all gave him horrified looks. Harry smirked back. "The headmaster arranged it."
"We'll start a petition to get you guys your old room back," Justin said. "Porridge?"
Harry and Ron got their breakfasts once they were sitting. Ron looked at them. "Fair warning, his great-aunt's in a portrait in Slytherin. She's already decided half the upper years need worked on and made stronger. Plus she wants classes to get tougher." They all moaned, shaking their heads.
"They have said they're willing to tutor anyone who wants it," Harry offered. "Cousin Cordelia was tops in herbology."
Madam Sprout choked and stared at them. "Mr. Potter, did you say the painting of your cousin was back in Slytherin?"
"Yes, Professor, and she's willing to tutor."
"I'd like to chat with her."
"It's on the wall above the spare candles," Ron told her. "With his great-aunt Eleanor hanging about to tutor in other things."
"I see." She looked at Severus.
"I believe it would be better if they were more centrally located, and could take the painting with them," he told her.
Harry walked up there. "She wanted to know if that mini-tower was still useable, Professor. The one with the window in the lake and the small one above ground?"
He stared at him. "Why would she want that room?"
"Because we're down by it?" he said with a shrug. "She didn't tell me why. She did praise the Baron for trying to scare them, but said it was about the same as when Cousin Cordelia used to pounce him."
Snape shook his head quickly. "I heard stories of her using intangibility potions as a second-year to pounce him to hug him. I believe he's still traumatized. I shall look into that room, see if it is fitting for them to tutor from."
Harry beamed. "Thank you, Professor. It might make some people calmer," he said quietly.
"Indeed. Including my own nerves. Go eat, Potter." He went back to his food. He took the potion that appeared beside his plate. He knew what it was and it was nice Draco had sent it to him. He looked at Madam Sprout, who gave him a pitied look. He went back to his food. Not that he was hungry anymore but he knew he had to eat something.
Remus walked into his classroom Monday and looked around, rearranging the desks. He found a painting and shook his head. "Out of my room, ladies. This is defense but they do not need to defend against you teaching."
"We can help," Cordelia said with a pout.
"Perhaps but they've had dreadful teachers the last two years. They're nowhere ready for higher help. I have to get the fifth years through the rest of the second-year curriculum." She whined. He stared her down. "They can find you and ask you for your help with research topics and papers." She nodded and he covered all the paintings in the room. He didn't need the interference and someone had left one of Lockhart. That one he unstuck and walked it out to the entryway, putting it up in a blank spot. The headmaster gave him an odd look so he uncovered it.
"I see. That is most decent of you, Remus."
"I didn't need him trying to bollox up the students any farther. He's done enough harm to their educations." He went back to his room.
The headmaster got tired of the pouting so he recovered it and went to his office.
Draco followed the paintings's directions, finding a hidden area at the end of the stairs. "Interesting." He couldn't get it open so he went back to the painting. "I can't get it open but I think I found it." He took the painting down and carried it that way.
Cordelia looked. "That's not quite what I was talking about; the opening leads somewhere different." She pointed. "Look there." He did and found it, and she taught him the opening charm. It slid open with a shower of dust and dirt, making him splutter and choke.
"What are you doing?" the head prefect of the house demanded.
"She wanted me to find this room," Draco said.
"We have hidden rooms?" he demanded.
"There's one there too," Draco said with a point. "I don't know where it goes." He put the painting down and glanced into the new room. No light. "Potter!" he bellowed. Harry came jogging down the stairs to join him. "Go search this room your relatives wanted us to find."
Harry sighed but did it. Starting with the lights.
The prefect gave Draco an odd look. "Why send him?"
"He's used to exploring and danger. If there's something dangerous in there, he's better at killing it," he said with a shrug and a smirk. "He knows that. It's wisdom that lets each of us use our strengths. I'm letting him be his Gryffindor self."
"Uh-huh," the prefect sighed, following Potter in. Unlike Malfoy, he wasn't scared. Even when he ran into a huge snakehead. "Huh." He backed out.
Harry looked at him then at the head. "Please open for me," he said in parseltongue.
"Say your name, boy," Cordelia called.
"Call me boy again, watch me burn the painting," Harry called back. "I'm Harry James Potter, please open for me." The mouth opened. He lit his wand and waved it around. Some cobwebs but nothing dangerous looking. He carefully walked in, finding a whole, huge area. As promised it had a window that showed the inside of the lake. It had a few places with overhead lights from outside. "Draco, come here," he called.
Draco walked in, checking around before going through the mouth. "Interesting," he said as he walked though. "It's almost a mini tower." He walked up the spiral stairs to the left of the snake mouth, finding a section of bookshelves. A long table too. He came back down, finding Harry looking around the other areas. "Bedroom?"
"No. Not that I've found yet." They walked back out of the mouth, then Harry came back and pointed. "That's another opening." He went to examine it, finding a house crest. He smiled. "There's a link to Hufflepuff."
Draco came to look around. "Here's one to Ravenclaw." They found the one to Gryffindor and went back to the main room. "Here's another opening," he said. Ron was staring at it. "Bedroom?"
"Yup. Huge bedroom but a single bed." They walked in to look around. An old tub made of what looked like copper was in there as well. There was a toilet in a closet and a sink in there too.
"What is this?" Snape asked from the doorway.
"Cordelia wanted us to find it," Draco told him with a small frown. He came out but the snakehead was gone. "Potter." Harry came out, looking at the spot. Draco moved forward and it appeared, making Snape hiss and step back. "I am Draco Malfoy." The head opened and he stepped through. He waved the teacher in. "There's links to other towers."
Harry walked in and to the Gryffindor tower. "I am Harry Potter, please open for me." It hesitated but the Gryffin head appeared and opened its beak for him. He smiled and patted it, looking around. "They've got another entry room like ours," he called back, coming out. "I couldn't find a bedroom though."
Snape stared at the room then at the boys. "Why did they want you to find this?"
Draco shrugged. "We have no idea." He went to talk to the painting. "No bedroom on the Gryff side?"
"No. Not that I could find." He shrugged and they walked out together. Ron was leaning in the doorway. "There's a link back to our tower."
"She just told Snape this was created for inter-house projects plotting purposes." He smirked. "Our bedroom is sealed beyond what we usually do."
Draco and Harry sighed, going to check it. Locked. Snape walked up behind them and tried to open it. No luck. Cordelia shouted a few spells too so they tried them and nothing. Snape was glaring at the doorway now.
"Should I go find Flitwick?" Ron asked.
"No, we can handle it," Snape assured him. "Twenty points from Gryffindor for that smart question."
Harry looked. "Draco, help me knock these hinges out," he said quietly. Draco gave him an odd look. "I've had to do it to get out of a locked room before," he said bluntly. They knocked the hinges out and the door listed, then finally the locking spell broke.
"Now, how do you fix that?" Snape asked.
"You put them back, hopefully without the spell being on it," he shot back with a shrug. It made sense to him. Snape glared but did try to cancel the spell. He supposed he did and the boys put the door back up then checked their things. Ron came in to check his own. Snape left and as soon as he walked out, the door slammed shut and locked itself again.
Draco looked and sighed. Harry shrugged. "I'm pretty sure we can at least get dinner," Harry said.
"Hopefully. I'm not starving tonight."
Harry looked at him. "This isn't starving, Draco. With starving, you lose weight and it's like your stomach is eating itself." Draco shuddered at his calm, quiet, reasonable tone. "We can get a house elf, right?"
"Moppy?" Draco called. Nothing for a minute then a house elf popped in, Dobby. "Dobby," he sighed, smiling at him.
"Harry Potter family called?" he asked, looking at Harry.
"We're locked in here, Dobby. Can you make sure we get something for dinner? Whatever we're having tonight at the tables? And tell Snape we're locked in here now?"
"Dobby will do." He disappeared.
"I'll see if he'll quit ignoring you," Harry said quietly.
"Thank you. I was never mean to Dobby." He sat on his bed with a sigh. "Any idea who did this?"
"One of the sixth years," Ron said. "He's been watching us awfully hard."
"Can we prove it?" Harry asked.
"No," Ron admitted. He grimaced. "Who do you think will miss us first?"
"No, she and Neville asked Madam Sprout for help with the cuttings we gave them."
"I'm not due to study with anyone tonight," Draco admitted. "Potter, extra lessons?"
"Not tonight. Remus is changing tonight." They all sighed because that meant it'd be breakfast before anyone probably got them undone if Snape didn't listen to Dobby. At least they could get food and Dobby could be talked to about ignoring Draco.
Two days later, Snape looked around his classroom. "Where is the ungodly trio?" he sneered. "Are they cutting classes?"
Hermione looked at him. "No one's seen them today, Professor, and I don't remember them being at dinner last night."
"Or lunch," Neville said quietly, looking at her.
He glared, going to check their room. The door was invisible this time. "How very charming of them to do," he sneered, casting the charms to open it. The boys looked up from their studying on the floor. "What did you three do?"
"Wasn't us," Ron complained. "We told Dobby to tell you that first night."
Draco nodded. "We did, sir."
"I'll beat that house elf myself. It's time for Potions." They got up and grabbed their robes and ties, heading out. He followed. The door shut and went invisible again so he broke that spell once and for all. The caster probably had a good migraine so he'd have to see which one it was. His Slytherins knew the rules about attacking people in the house. The boys were in their seats when he got there, working on the ingredients for the potion on the board. He looked then at them. "That is last class's and I doubt you three have that much skill," he sneered, changing it. Most of the things they had already done could be used for that but Draco did tightly seal the others for him. He nodded his thanks and sat down to watch them all stumble.
"How did a seventh year Ravenclaw get into my house to lock and seal a doorway?" he asked during the staff meeting that evening. Madam Pomfrey had told him who had shown up with the headache.
Professor Flitwick gave him an odd look. "Are you certain?"
"He is the only one that showed up with a migraine from the backlash of me breaking the charm."
"Interesting. I have no idea but I will be finding out why he chose to prank them."
"It was no prank."
"Is it the reason no one's seen Mr. Potter or Weasley for a few days?" McGonagall asked.
She politely muttered something under her breath. He smirked at her for it. "Are they all right?"
"Dobby apparently kept them fed. He did appear that first night but didn't tell me more than 'the door is locked and hidden' before leaving."
"Have the boys talk to him about being more specific," Flitwick suggested. "He appears to adore Mr. Potter."
"He's still ignoring Draco," Snape admitted. Someone knocked then walked in to whisper in his ear. "I'll be back." He followed her back to the house. That was probably not a good thing. He found the seventh years glaring at the trio trying to stop the water leak. "What happened?" he demanded, casting the repair charm. It wouldn't hold. He created a barrier in front of the window to hold off the water so it could be resealed. When it was whole, the three boys relaxed. "What happened?" he repeated.
One of the seventh years stepped forward. "They were having a fight and it cracked, sir."
Snape looked at him then at the boys. Draco shook his head. "What happened?"
"We were studying," he said with a point at their soggy books. He cast the drying charm on them. "Our wands were in our bags until the water started then we tried to hold it back. I have no idea who cracked it, Professor. I was paying attention to Transfiguration for our upcoming test."
Snape looked at the papers then at the water. "The crack should have sprayed outward."
Harry pointed. "We fixed one there first, sir. Then it radiated over. We were working on that one when you came in."
Snape checked that one, nodding. "The repair went well. Ten points for not flooding Slytherin." He glared at the massed other students. "Who cast it?" No one said anything. "I will know or you will all be suffering."
"Is it possible it's a natural crack?" Ron asked. "We heard some thumping earlier of something running into it, Professor."
He turned to look at him. "What?"
"The mermaids were fighting again," Draco told him. "One did thump into the glass earlier but it was nearer to the center." He pointed. "About there."
"That doesn't mean one didn't thump it earlier in the other spot," Ron offered.
Snape checked the rest of the glass, nodding. "It has been weakened in that area as well." He cast the charm to put the barrier over all the glass. He found a few more minute cracks. "It appears it was natural. There's multiple little fissures." He nodded and left.
Draco dried the rest of their stuff and they went to their room. The upper years could get vicious when they wanted to be and it was best to get out of the way. He told his spouses that as he walked off. They followed. Harry had to summon his book but that was fine.
Snape walked into the meeting. "The merpeople were fighting next to the window again, Headmaster. It cracked this time." Dumbledore shuddered. "The trio managed to solve some of it but the window is fully cracked in a few other places and will be breaking soon if not replaced."
"I'll call someone before dinner," he promised, making that note. "Is the flooding bad?"
"They solved one leak and were working on the bigger one. I've got a temporary barrier up." That got another nod. "I'll check any others tonight."
"Good. Let me know if it's more than that one. We wouldn't want to have to rename your dorms for the lake." Snape grimaced but sat down again. "How are the boys doing?"
"Better now that they were released." The headmaster looked at him. "One of the seventh year Ravenclaws decided to lock them in their room for three days."
"Oh, dear. Are they fine?"
"They got Dobby to feed them but I did not understand the message he gave me." That got a nod and another note made.
"We'll look into punishment for that one. It is wrong to lock any student who is not mentally unstable into a room," the headmaster said. "Any other topics we need to hear about?" No one said anything. "Then have a good evening." The professors left. He went to call the glass company. That was going to be very bad.
Harry woke up to the insistent calls of his aunts. "What?" he said, sitting up to open his curtains and look at them. "What's going on?"
"The common room is flooded and the water is rising," Cordelia said.
"Draco!" Harry shouted. "Ron!" They got up. "Pack. Now. Aunts, go tell the other years to get up and pack." They fled to do that. "Ron, get that room open." He ran to do that. If they couldn't get through the main doorway they had to use the emergency exit they had. "Draco?"
"I've got our stuff and the youngers," he sighed. "I don't like being a hero."
"Get used to it," Harry quipped. He headed for the room. For some reason the Gryff door wouldn't open. "Open please, it's an emergency with Slytherin. I'm Harry James Potter." The beak opened. "I don't know," he told Ron. "Maybe because we're coming from Slytherin. Get the prefects up to help." He rushed back out. "Kids, this way," he called. "We found an evacuation point that'll take you to Gryffindor, and we can come down from there." They ran that way with their trunks. The seniors were herding. "Anyone not accounted for?" he called the prefect at the bottom of the stairs.
"Two kids finding their cats. One finding his toad."
"Have someone summon them." He nodded, doing that with the kids. Then he summoned the very damp pets. Harry got them moving in the right direction. "Check the other rooms."
"Why does it go to Gryff?" he demanded.
"It goes to all the other houses but Ron couldn't get it to open to Gryff and I could."
"Oh." He went to check the dorms, getting those who slept potioned. They fled the house and ran into the prefects.
Harry came up front. "Thank you. We're half flooded," he told the prefects, getting a nod. "Can we bum the common room?"
"Gladly," the head prefect said. "I've already sent for McGonagall and Snape." He pointed. "Fire's lit, kids. Go get warm." They went that way. He looked at the doorway. "That's neat."
Draco went to seal the other side. "That way it won't flood too." He came back through. "Why wouldn't it open for Weasley?"
"I'm guessing because we came in from Slytherin," Harry admitted. He walked back into the study area. He looked at the Ravenclaw one. "Open for me please?" Nothing. He shrugged at Draco. "It won't so I'm guessing it's reading us that way but I'm speaking in Parseltongue. It looks like Slytherin built it maybe."
"Okay," he decided. He looked around. "The aunts are going to be hellishly pissed."
Harry winced, going to the other doorway for Slytherin and summoning their painting. "Sorry," he said at the scowls. "Living people first." He reclosed the door and let it dry in there. "We'll come get you from Gryff later. That way you don't scare anyone." He left them there, going back to Gryffindor. He shut the doorway when Snape stared at him. "Aunts. They're drying out there because they're scowling."
"Get the other portraits as well, Potter."
He nodded, going to do that. They all got stacked around the study area then he went back to Gryff. He ran into Ron and Draco. "Do we have temporary beds?"
"We're all bumming spares in the towers. We're here," Ron told him. Harry beamed and they went up to their rightful dorm. The bed was nice, clean, cool. Perfect to rest on. Unfortunately only one but they could handle that. Pajamas solved any issue of impropriety.
Hermione walked down to the common room the next morning, staring at the sleepy Slytherins. "How did you lot get in here?" she demanded.
"Our tower flooded," one told her. "We're all bumming spare spaces."
"Oh, I'm sorry. Did you lose much?"
"No, Potter's relatives told us to pack quickly and taught us the packing charm very quickly."
"Wonderful of them." She went up to the boys' side, knocking before opening the door.
Neville waved. "They're asleep, Hermione," he said quietly. "How did they get up here?"
"Slytherin flooded grandly apparently. They're bumming spare beds."
"Wonderful." He went to the bathroom to get dressed.
Hermione walked over, nudging Ron to wake him up. "You're going to miss breakfast and I'm sure Draco has a beauty routine." He smirked at her so she left. He nudged Draco, which got him moving, and then Harry, who grunted and went to bathe as well. Ron waited because Draco could take forever in the bathroom. He'd get Harry's shower after he was done.
The Headmaster looked at the students across breakfast. "There is someone coming in to fix Slytherin's window today," he announced. "It may take us a few days. Please be kind to the students who were displaced by the lake." They all nodded at that. "I'm also awarding fifty points to the prefects who acted so well to get the students out of harm's way." They smiled at him for that. "Very good work." He sat down again. "Severus, he'll be here at ten."
"That's fine." He looked around. "Potions will be canceled today. I will expect my students to have a study hall."
"Any of you guys who need to learn how to dry books and things, we can help with that," Hermione promised. "I have a very good drying charm." A few nodded.
"The house elves are going to be gathering clothes that need washed and doing them," the Headmaster added. "We'll figure things out later." They all nodded and got back to eating. He looked at Severus. "Was your office affected?"
"No, not in the least. There's only three lake windows in Slytherin. Plus one in that study center that they evacuated through since they couldn't use the main door."
"It's multi-House, each one has an entry point and then there's a study area with a small, empty library," Harry said as he walked up. "Sir, the twins noted that there's spare dormitories in the west tower," he offered.
"That's a storage area for spare beds," the Headmaster corrected.
Harry held up the map. "This area, sir."
He looked. "That area has been sealed for years, Mr. Potter. I have no idea how to get up there."
One of the twins came up to manipulate the map but Remus looked and pointed. "The entry's in that room, Headmaster. It's only got about sixty beds but there's a second floor with about thirty." He looked at Severus. "Would that suit your students for a bit if it takes too long?"
"If their beds are ruined we may have to take from there," Severus pointed out. "For temporary quarters that may work for most of the students if it goes overly long."
Harry smiled. "There's rooms like we used last year too."
"Also true. Yours had room for another two beds." Harry nodded. "We'll consider that if this goes on, Mr. Potter. Good thinking for once."
"Thank you, sir." He smiled at the twin and went back to the table to eat.
Remus smiled. "Very good thinking, George. Five points for that," he said quietly. George smiled and went back to his plate. "Did anyone get hurt, Severus?"
"One child's familiar drowned but otherwise they were only damp and scared. Thankfully the Gryffindor prefects weren't mean and coddled them until we could get there." McGonagall smiled at that.
"I would like to see this study center," the headmaster said.
"For obvious reasons you'd have to Professor McGonagall take you," Severus said.
"I can ask the boys."
"Mr. Malfoy does need his education, Headmaster."
"I'll have them in extra defense lessons," Remus said. That got an odd look. He smiled. "Harry does need to know such things, especially with how behind the last few teachers were."
"I understand that. Perhaps after dinner?"
"They'd only have homework tonight," Snape agreed.
"That's fine then." He went back to eating. The day was going to be a long one.
The Bloody Baron floated in and up to the head table. "The merpeople are using the children's beds," he said grimly. "They're trying to figure out what they're for."
"Well, they wouldn't have the same things," Flitwick admitted. "I'd suppose they'd be curious."
Snape nodded. "We will banish them as soon as possible, Baron."
"Thank the Potter boy for getting all the paintings, Severus. He left a few statues but they won't be harmed. Calling for artwork also got all the wall hangings rolled up and sent there." He bowed and left.
"Mr. Potter, the Bloody Baron wishes you to have five points for following orders."
"Thank you, Baron," he called.
"Houses are supposed to be separate," one boy said a bit loudly. "I don't care about emergencies, but to have them stay? There's a reason we were sorted."
"In the real world there are no houses," McGonagall said, staring the idiot down. "You'll be working beside people of various houses and even other schools. You were sorted here because it would give you the support you needed to succeed from people like yourself. The Founders never meant for students to be as divided as they are now." The boy shrank down. "Headmaster, we really should find more projects that can be done inter-house."
"That is up to the individual teachers," he reminded her.
Hermione looked at Ron after he said something about some pureblood snobs that Slytherin was hiding in the upper years. "But they're not all purebloods," Hermione said. Draco gave her the strangest look. "Tom Riddle was not a pureblood; he's a half-blood and he was a prefect and head boy in his year." Harry choked. "Are you all right?"
"Tom Riddle? Voldemort?"
She gaped. "He is?" she shrieked.
"He is?" Draco echoed. "Bloody hell, my father's going to throw a fit." He went to owl him. His father could look the guy up, make sure it was the same one and if he was indeed a half-blood. If she was right, then his mother was going to be gloating for years. She hadn't liked the pureblood movement. Thought it was beneath the family. If she was right, there'd be shopping in celebration.
"As long as we don't have to go," Harry muttered, cracking Ron up. Hermione looked confused. "Draco was thinking about his mother going shopping in celebration of being right about him. As long as she doesn't bring us. I'm too tired to shop right now." He heard Draco add that into his letter and looked at Ron. "Manure pile?"
"Yup. It's good Ginny really likes those silk boxers though."
"All of mine disappeared," Harry sighed. "All but them."
Ron patted him on the back. "I don't know who did it, but let them steal the rest, Harry. We can get more next Hogsmede weekend."
"If Harry's allowed to go," Hermione put in. "The headmaster might want him to stay up here."
"Bill and Remus both signed my slips," Harry said with a smile. "If not, we'll find a damn way." She blushed. "I'm not a bloody prisoner." He walked off, heading toward herbology since they had that next. Ron stayed behind to wait a bit. If they spread out this way it gave them extra links in the chain that bound them together.
Draco came out and headed for the greenhouses as well. Harry cast a shoving charm, getting him into the manure. "Hey!" he complained, getting out spluttering. "Potter, that was evil!"
"So was telling your mother I'd shop with her some other time!" He gave him a dirty look. "Got some in your hair," he said with a grin, going inside the greenhouse.
Ron moved around him. "Remember, Harry only had hand-me-downs from his cousin before," he said quietly. "He never got to learn to shop like you did." He let Draco clean himself up. They may be married but he wasn't touching manure for Draco Malfoy.
Draco cast the cleaning charms as he went to shower and change. There was no way a cleaning charm was going to handle this mess. The professor ran into him on his trudge. "My spouses are evil to me," he sniffed. "Just because my mother wanted to take them shopping."
"I'll give them detentions for you, Mr. Malfoy. Go shower and change." He nodded, going to do that. She walked in there. "You two must learn how to put up with his family as well," she said. "Two nights of detention for misusing the fertilizer pile." She went to the front of the class. "Today we're going to be working with the second year's dragonflies. They did dreadful with them." They all got the plants and the things they'd need to help them get better. She watched those two. She hadn't considered Mr. Potter mean before but apparently his family was having an adverse effect on his temperament. She'd have to tell the Headmaster that.
Harry walked into the Headmaster's office. He really didn't want to be there today but he supposed it was necessary to something again. He was really starting to hate being called up here for things. "Yes, sir, you wanted to see me?"
The headmaster looked at him. "You don't like our chats?"
"I don't like that the other students see it as favoritism," he covered. He also strengthened his shield. The headmaster grimaced at him. "They do."
"I'm sure it'll work out fine soon enough. I believe we have to talk about how your family is influencing you."
Harry stared at him. "I would've shoved him in the manure pile before this summer, Headmaster." He gaped. "It's not like we can duel in the hall like before. He and Ron can't fight any longer. It's not like we get along that well. We're at the stage where we can tolerate each other most of the time but all marriages have conflict and fighting according to Remus."
"Here he is your professor."
"Only in class. Outside he said I could call him by his name. He is my godfather. The same as Draco gets to call his godfather by name outside of classes and the house." He heard the sigh. "Other than that, Draco deserved it. He signed me up to take another whirlwind shopping binge with his mother. I'm not in good enough shape for that. Quidditch shape isn't the same thing."
"I see." He stared at him. "About your permission slips...."
"Bill is my legal guardian, sir."
"Had her custody severed," Harry overrode. "She nearly ended up in jail, Headmaster." He opened his mouth. Harry held up a hand. "I saw the letter you sent her."
"I've since read some more materials on that ...bond of yours."
"I still didn't choose to do it and sending that letter nearly got me killed by her. Thank you ever so much," he said dryly. "I'm sure you would've been most happy with that outcome." He walked off. "I am emancipated, Headmaster. I can sign my own papers if I want. Bill's signature is only a formality. The bond does legally make us emancipated minors." He closed the door behind himself without slamming it. He heard Ron and Draco congratulating him for holding in his temper. He was really not in a good mood now so he told them he was going to the pitch. They came out to fly with him.
Severus Snape came out a half hour later. "That is not an allowed activity," he called. "Get down here."
Harry floated near him. "I just had to talk to the Headmaster, who thinks my family is making me mean and evil, and he didn't look too pissed that his letter to my family explaining the bond would've gotten me killed, Professor. I don't rightly care about house points." He flew off again. His temper was calmer in the air.
Draco felt it rising and moved away. Ron too. They knew not to be in close contact. When the seething turned more violent, Draco waved the professor away too. Snape glared but even he felt the rise in magic so he moved. Quickly. In case it was focused his way. He had no idea what the headmaster had said but it was clearly bad. "Potter," he called. Harry glared at him. "Let me read what he did this time." He cast the legimens spell, wincing at the magic tinging the edges of his mind. Potter was in a true snit this time and the meeting wasn't as bad as it could have been but the others he read in the same area... those were bad. He disengaged. "Get down here, meditate that out before you have to repair this set of grass too."
"I can't do that," Harry growled. "It doesn't ease it any."
Draco frowned, casting a diagnostic charm at him. Harry turned to look at him. "Turn back. Let me read what they dosed you with this year." Harry slumped and let him. "I'm not seeing a potion."
"I'm seeing something," Ron admitted. He moved closer. "Harry, your scar's glowing."
"Fat bloody chance he's getting back in my damn head!" Harry shouted.
"Land! All three of you!" Snape ordered. They landed and he checked the boy. There was indeed an attempt to invade his mind from a more powerful source. "Someone is."
"Father," Draco muttered, touching his beacon. He and Ron touched Harry's shoulders, letting the shields between them fall. Draco's stronger, more orderly mind was able to grab onto some of the invading presence. Ron's more chaotic, booby-related thoughts got the rest and Harry slumped unconscious between them. They both had their own ways of dealing with things. Draco looked at the professor. "The Dark Lord is not pleased that it was severed in the first place and he's not pleased that Potter's not very open."
"I see. How in touch are you, Mr. Malfoy?"
"More than I feel comfortable with." He set up a diverging thought pattern to distract the searching mind. Ron was mentally humming and thinking about broomsticks with breasts again. That's all that was in Weasley's mind. "I think you're making him disgusted, Ron."
"Good. Gets him outta my head," he quipped with a smirk. Lucius and Narcissa both appeared this time. "Parents."
"Father, the Dark Lord bastard tried to reestablish the link again," he called. "He's not pleased that I'm doing so well in Potions in the least. Or about Ron's interest in putting large breasts on broomsticks." Harry moaned. "No, you stay down," he ordered, keeping him asleep with a hex. His mother gave him a pointed look. "We were flying because Harry's temper came back thanks to the Headmaster."
"I see." She brushed a hand over his head, then quietly cast the legimens charm herself to get in there. "Very nice shields for your age, my son." She shoved that bad link out. Draco moaned and went limp in relief. Lucius got the other boy. Then she got Potter. "I believe we'll be severing that link more permanently."
"How did it come back?" Severus asked her.
"I do not know. It would have to come from someone that had one."
"I was reading his mind about the meeting with the headmaster before then."
"He can't travel through the marks that way," Lucius said simply. "He tried once and it killed them." He looked up. "If this was the other's doing I'm going to kill. Pleasurably." He heard a growl and looked around.
Snape knew that sound and sent a summoning at Remus Lupin. Dealing with that right now would only complicate matters too much. Remus came jogging out. He pointed. "Growling sound familiar?"
"Yes. What happened to Harry, Lucius?"
"The Dark Lord is trying to reestablish the link we had cut."
"Bill got one of the senior curse breaker teachers to finish severing the link. Whoever you had do it only removed part."
"I heard." He let Harry's mind go. "He'll be fine. It's blocked. Very good ways to divert them, boys, but dangerous to take it from him."
Ron looked at him. "You didn't see him our first year when his head split open a few times thanks to that stupid curse scar or the headaches or even him having a few seizures he wouldn't let us report," he said quietly. "There's no way I'd want him to go through that again."
"I agree," Lucius said. Because his son would go through the same thing. "We can teach you better ways of doing that." He looked at his son. "Yours was very advanced for your age."
"The aunts gave Ron and I some work on it this summer while Potter was sleeping," he admitted quietly. He looked around. "Who is that growling?"
"Sirius," Remus said. He walked that way. "Don't you dare run." The dog gave him a horrified look so he caught him and pulled him into the forest so they weren't seen. "What the hell are you doing?" he demanded. Sirius changed back. Remus glared. "Leave the boys alone! I'm not going to let you hurt Harry!"
"I'm not going to hurt him! Peter's here." He looked that way. "He's in tight with the Malfoys? Have we lost him?"
"No. Lockhart married those three." He shrugged. "Lucius is very protective of his son and therefor our godson. How can you be sure he's here? You killed him!"
"I did not!" he shouted.
Harry stormed over, glaring at him. "Prove it."
"Get your friend's rat down here."
Ron looked at him as he walked up behind Harry. "My Scabbers?"
"Yes, your rat. He is a rat." He looked at Harry. "I'm trying to protect you, Harry."
Harry held up a hand. "I'm confused, tired, and I have a headache. Ron, get Scabbers so he can prove what he said." Ron jogged off to do that with Snape behind him. Lucius made him go instead of going after Sirius. Harry looked back then at him. "Why didn't you have me when they found me?"
"Dumbledore took you from me, gave you to Hagrid. I went after Peter."
"You killed twelve muggles," Remus said.
"No, I didn't. That was Peter." Ron came back with his pet rat. The thing saw him and started to struggle.
Remus looked. "That is his animagus form," he admitted. "Change, bastard, so we can settle this now." Severus came out with the headmaster. "Shit. This we do not need. Lucius!" He pointed. "Please. Ten minutes?" He nodded, going to distract them. Narcissa came over. "We don't...."
"Do shut up now, Remus Lupin," she said blandly. She looked at the rat, casting something at him to make him want to change back. It only affected rats. He changed and glared at them. "Ah, he was right."
"Thank you, Narcissa. I think I have it from here," Sirius said, lunging at Peter.
Harry was tired. He was cranky. He cast stopping charms on both sides. "I've had enough," he snarled. He looked at the cranky potions professor and Headmaster, both of whom were looking horrified. "I don't rightly give a damn and it's a family matter. One of them killed my parents. That goes beyond whatever Snape has the desire to kill him for."
"The dementors are coming," Dumbledore soothed.
"They'd better not," Harry said. "Because I'm not real fond of hearing my parents death over and over with them around!" he finished in a shout.
"Having his mind invaded by the Dark Lord makes him a bit cranky," Ron said, patting Harry on the shoulder. "For right now, this is a family matter, Headmaster. Don't you agree, Mr. Malfoy?"
"I'd like all three of them to be away from my son but I will accept Lupin being there for now," he admitted. Remus glared at him.
"ENOUGH!" Harry snarled. His magic shook some of the trees around them. "I've had fucking enough for the night!" He looked at Peter. "Someone cast an unbreakable truth charm or something. I want some answers please."
"Harry," the headmaster started. Narcissa cast it. "You shouldn't...."
"Do shut up now, thank you," Lucius ordered. "Before I have you removed again. Ask, Mr. Potter. My beloved wife put it on both of them."
Harry unfroze them. "Which one of you was the secret keeper?"
"Peter was," Sirius said. Remus gasped. "We changed it because I was too obvious as the choice."
Peter tried not to say anything. Finally he had to mumble he was. Remus took a swing at him.
"Me first," Harry ordered firmly. "They were my parents and your friends. I have eleven years of hell to pay him back for." He stared at Pettigrew. "Why did you turn on them?"
"I'd be spared. For power," he was forced to admit. "I...." Harry took a swing and hit him.
"I need to teach you to hit better, Harry," Sirius said.
Harry looked at him. "Were you totally blinded by everything that went on?" Sirius looked hurt. "Where were you, Remus?"
"Not anywhere near there, unfortunately. I did try to get custody of you but my condition means that I'm not allowed to have custody of any child, even one I fathered, Harry." He moved closer. "I wanted to be there. If it hadn't been for that damn spell making sure I couldn't get near you, I would've been there all those years, done what I could to protect you."
Harry swallowed and nodded. He looked at Sirius. "My temper got the best of me and I went to avenge them. It was stupid of me," Sirius said before he could be asked. "I know that now. I've had a long time to think, Harry."
"Not near long enough for all your other sins," Snape sneered.
Harry glared at him. "Butt out. That's a later matter to go over. Right now it's my turn." He ignored the spluttering and taking of points. He didn't care, he was going to take this opportunity to get answers before anyone else tried to *help* them. He looked at Pettigrew, who was trying to change back but it still hurt. "Oh, no. No way in hell."
"He has Lily's temper," Sirius told Remus.
"You two sound like the twins," Ron said dryly.
Harry snorted. "They were doing it first." He shot a hex at Pettigrew that his Aunt Eleanor had taught him, making him scream in pain. "Aunt Eleanor said your Dark Lord is a bratling compared to her." Pettigrew gave him a horrified look once he quit twitching. "Absolutely pathetic, the both of you." He stared. "Ron, can you get Susan Bones to call her mum?"
"Already asked," he promised. "Told her we found a major problem that was coming for you."
"She'll come with dementors," Remus said.
Harry looked at him. "I'm sure my godmut can hide for another few hours." Remus nodded that was true. He looked at Snape. "Then you two can kiss and go over whatever happened. Remember, Lockhart's out now too. They gave him parole for being so pouty in prison." He smirked at the shudder. "I'm sure he'd love to see more happiness in the wizarding world. He said us being bound would cause more happiness and therefore peace." Lucius was trying not to laugh, he really was. Harry stared at him. "I got it from your son's mind. Ron, broomsticks again?" he demanded. Ron blushed and cleared it. "Thank you." He put back up his shields again with a sigh. He stared at Pettigrew. "I'm not evil. I haven't been evil a day in my life. Right now, I'm about to forget that. I want to forget that."
"Halt!" the auror shouted. "Sirius Black."
"He wasn't the one responsible," Harry said. He stunned her, looking at her boss. "Do you know who this is?" he asked with a point at Pettigrew.
She looked. "Peter Pettigrew?" Harry nodded. "But Sirius Black killed him."
"He set the explosion, not me," Sirius told her. "I had to break out to protect Harry from him!"
She looked at him. "Why didn't you say so at your trial then?" she demanded.
"I didn't get one," he sneered.
Harry looked at Narcissa. "Are you two related?"
"He's unfortunately my scrungy brother." She grimaced. "I have much better breeding than that one."
"Ah." He nodded. "I need to build stamina before you take me shopping, Mrs. Malfoy. Quidditch shape isn't good enough for shopping. Give me a few months?" She beamed and nodded. "Did you get Draco's letter earlier?"
"I have and whoever was quite correct."
"Hmm. That ...unblooded witch?" He nodded with a smirk. "Interesting. Now and then an unblooded one shows up with a lot of skills. They're usually acceptable because of that."
"All families started out as unblooded," Ron pointed out. "If they breed true then they become the next wave of purebloods in a few generations."
"That is a point." She looked at the two men. "Sirius, you really need a bath and a shave."
"You don't get that when you're hiding in the forest," he shot back. "Do they have to be here, Harry?"
"They're Draco's parents. I'm married to Draco, and he's in my head, so yes. Because Lucius has helped us a lot more than most people. Ron's family was good to us. Lucius helped us solve a few problems at the beginning and he's helped us since then, like when I was being fed a compulsion potion."
Sirius backed down some. He remembered Lily's temper all too well and didn't need abused tonight. "Oh. I suppose that's fine. As long as they're not drawing you to the dark."
"My Aunt Eleanor can't, I doubt they can," Harry said dryly. "Though I'm not sure where I got my temper from."
"Lily," Remus and Sirius said dryly.
"His aunt said his father had a great one," Draco added.
"Lily's was worse and burned hotter, then she felt bad," Remus said. "He has his mother's temper."
"Indeed," Narcissa said dryly. "She said about the same thing about not wanting to be dark but she was willing to step across the line to hex your father," she told Harry.
Remus laughed. "I remember that day. We had to bodybind her and carry her off to save James' life."
"I still have scars from that weekend," Sirius admitted. He looked at the head auror. "I would never betray Lily and James, Madam Bones. If you give me a fair trial I can prove my innocence under truth serum."
She stared at him. "I can arrange that for both of you." She looked at her person. "Undo her." She was unbound by Ron. "Thank you. In the future, just yell at them, do not bind them, Mr. Potter."
Harry looked at her. "I was going to get to the bottom of who had my family killed even if you were here."
"There's others who'd like that same gift."
"Agreed. That's why I only bound her."
"Good job with that." She waved. "Get Pettigrew and Black in my office, untouched by anything or anyone, within minutes." They moved to do that. "We'll have the trials tomorrow."
"I'll be there," Harry agreed.
"I don't think that's going to be good for you, Harry," Dumbledore said.
Harry gave him a cold glare. "I want to know what happened to my parents."
"You don't want that in your memories."
"I already hear it whenever a dementor gets near me," he sneered. "Can it really be worse?" He walked off. "Draco, Ron, what do you think about switching down there?"
"It's a good school academically," Draco offered, not following. He looked at his father, who smirked and patted him on the head. "Thank you, Father. May we go?"
"I have no problem and I'll be going with them."
"Who is going to cover your classes?" Dumbledore demanded.
"I shall," Snape said. "The irritating toad was correct, it is about his family and he must settle it so he can do whatever that prophecy you hoard like a secret said."
Harry stopped walking to look at them. "I find it interesting that I'm the only wizard besides Neville who was born at the end of July. I'm sure there were other ones." Dumbledore looked stunned. "I didn't hear a year code in the date code. Did you, Draco?"
"No, I didn't. That means it could be anyone with your birthday, Potter. Or even for another dark lord." He mentally smirked at that brilliant point. "Aren't some of the aurors born about then?"
Dumbledore looked at him. "Perhaps. I'll look into that. You've heard it?"
"Eleanor asked me so I told her what I had heard," Lucius said smoothly with a smirk. "Best to have the boys prepared so I don't go without my son and heir." He walked off with his wife on his arm. "Son?"
"Thank you, Father. Can it come back?"
"During the hearing I'll have you and Weasley blocked off again then get Mr. Potter later that afternoon." Draco beamed at that. "Learn more on that subject from Severus, my son. You're taking to that area of study very well." They disappeared.
Draco and Ron looked at Snape, who huffed. "I can test that next week, after all this drama is done with."
"Thank you, Professor," Ron said with a grin. "I doubt he liked what he saw in mine but it's odd having that creepy feeling inside my head." He and Draco walked off together to try to help Harry calm down again.
Remus coughed. "Let me help Harry."
Dumbledore looked at him. "You have to be a professor, Remus."
"I am, Albus. I'm also his godfather and local guardian." He walked off. "I don't find that a conflict at all. If there's something disciplinary, then I can handle that as well. The same as I would for other students."
Snape snorted. "He's more objective than others have been." He left the headmaster to seethe in peace for another plot being broken. There was no way Sirius Black got the Prophet in his cell. Someone had to have sent it to him. There were only a few people who would've sent it to him.
Harry nearly cheered when Peter was sentenced to be Kissed by the judges. The sentence for Sirius was coming up. He waited, hoping that it was going to be okay. They had heard about some of his more dangerous stunts in school from Snape and others. He had served twelve years though. Surely more than enough and the others hadn't had a criminal complaint made.
"Sirius Black, we find you not guilty of the crime that you were imprisoned for," the judge told him. He stared at him. "However we do not feel that you are totally fit to rejoin society. That incarceration has done things to your mind and temper that need to be fixed before we can let you loose. Therefore we are going to send you to St. Mungoes until you are ready to rejoin society as a sane member."
"In truth, sir, I was wild before," Sirius said.
"Yes, but now your wildness is more dangerous," the judge said. "Before it was dangerous enough. The changes the dementors caused can make you act in ways that would get you back before us. Therefore you will serve six months there for healing time. At that time, if the healers think you're ready to regain society, you shall be freed. If not, a plan will be worked out for home confinement and continued treatments."
"So I'd be free but not free?" he demanded.
"The outside world is not structured like prison is," he said more kindly. "You'll need time to reacclimate to making your own schedule, not having to live in a tiny space, and having to do things for yourself again. This will give you that time and by the time it is done, you'll be more capable of helping your godson finish growing up into a good, honest man like his parents were."
"Good." He smiled. "I think it'll help you greatly, Mr. Black. Especially to get over some of the anger issues you apparently have. Which I find totally reasonable for what you went through." He banged his gavel. "Report there by tonight." He got up and walked off. Peter Pettigrew was led off spitting and howling that the Dark Lord would save him for being so loyal.
"If he does, I'm sure people will be there to stop him," Harry said with a wave. "Have fun with that kiss. I'm told snogging is supposed to be nice." The aurors shuddered. He looked at his godparents, staring at them. "At least they'd get you a haircut," he offered weakly. He wasn't sure what to say.
Sirius smiled. "True, and a shave. Plus real food." He moved closer. "Are you better?"
"Probably." He stared at him. "We'll see." Sirius nodded.
"Want dinner before you go in?" Remus asked quietly.
"No, I think he may have had a point. I need time to get used to things and time to think. "You'll visit?"
"Each weekend," Remus said. "As often as I can get away and spring Harry." Sirius smiled. "The other two can read nearby."
"Yeah, the bond," Harry admitted. He shrugged a bit. "You get used to it."
"I'm sure you do. Your mother would've killed Lockhart for that."
"I nearly killed Lockhart for it," Harry quipped sarcastically. Sirius gave him a hug. Harry slowly hugged him back. "Have a good haircut, Sirius."
"I will, sprout. Maybe I can get sprung for the next game."
"It's against Slytherin. They're debating if that's fair with Draco and I playing against each other." He smiled and left with Remus once Sirius had walked over to the hospital staff. They walked out and found a reporter waiting. "What are you doing?" he demanded.
"You came to the trial of your parents' betrayer?"
"Yes, Pettigrew was sentenced to be kissed." The woman gave him a horrified look. "Sirius was found not guilty." She sat down hard on the floor. "Do try to print the truth this time. It's really annoying when the Prophet lies about things. I end up hearing about it for months on end." He walked off, leaning against Remus' side. "Ice cream before we go back?"
Remus smiled because that was a Draco response from Harry. It was terrifying that they were starting to merge that way. He might get hexed if he didn't act normal. "That'd be fine. The boys are in Arthur's office." They went up to gather them. Arthur was teaching Draco about some machines that did the same thing some harder homemaker spells did.
"Did you know there's machines to help house elves cook?" Draco asked when they walked in.
"You mean like microwaves and things? Yeah, muggles use them. I wasn't allowed to touch it but we had one for defrosting meats."
"That black box with the buttons?" Ron asked. Harry nodded. "Dad's picture has a knob that turns."
"Some do." He sat down, looking at Draco then at Arthur. "Have you shown him hair dryers? Or curling irons and the like?"
"I hadn't." He found that section of the catalog he was working on, letting him see them. "The irons are self heating. Hair dryers blow hot air out so you can dry your hair faster."
"Interesting. Would it harm it?"
"Dries it out some but that can be countered according to the magazines women read." He smiled. "Much faster than having to use curlers that you heat on the stove or the radiator."
"Next summer we need to see if we can find an air conditioner," Harry told them. "It blows cold air." Draco gave him a stunned look. They had all gotten sick from the heat during the height of summer. "We'd need a few for the house but it'd be very handy."
"It would," Draco agreed. "The fans only blew warmed air." Arthur found that and let him see the description. "That's bloody brilliant!" he said happily. "We need some of those this summer."
Ron nodded. "Definitely. It got too hot to even think about napping in the heat." His father smiled at him. "You couldn't go near some of the windows it was so hot. Hotter than the days we end up in the pond because it's too hot to do anything else, Dad."
"That close to the equator would be hotter," he agreed with a smile for Remus.
"I agree with the boys. It was too hot to swim." Arthur chuckled. "We'll look into those before we go back this coming summer, boys." They nodded. "I was requested to stop at the ice cream shop." They smiled at him and followed. "Thank you, Arthur."
"You're welcome, Remus. I'm glad it worked out fine." Remus nodded and they left. Arthur straightened up a bit. Draco hadn't known how complicated the muggle world was. Now he had a better idea. Maybe he'd find a way to take some of those innovations for the wizarding world. He had some brains if he'd ever get talked into using them.
The Headmaster met them at the entryway. "Ice cream?" he asked dryly.
"I needed some. I was good and kept my temper," Harry said. "Plus I missed lunch." He finished his up. He had the last bit. "It only took an extra five minutes and we paid for our own, Headmaster, plus bought his."
"That's fine. It's the last class period, boys." They nodded and went to theirs. "Remus."
"Sirius was found not-guilty." Dumbledore smiled and nodded. "The judge wanted him to acclimate to normal life again so he's spending some time in the hospital to get straightened out and back to normal. Peter's to be Kissed."
"Wonderful news. Thank you. Now, we should discuss things." Remus nodded, following him to his office. Remus knew he didn't have a problem being both a godfather and a teacher. The headmaster apparently thought so but Remus countered each point, including that the students were actually learning something this year. It was rare in Defense.
Harry came down to dinner, finding Remus not in his seat. He sat down, looking at the gossip hogs in his House. "Was Remus fired?" he asked quietly.
"No! Why would he be?" she hissed back.
"Someone had a problem with him going with me to the trial today, said he was too much my godfather and not enough a teacher."
"No, he's just running late," she promised with a smile. "Did Sirius Black get kissed?"
"No, he didn't do anything. Pettigrew did it. He's getting Kissed."
"But Sirius Black killed him," she said.
"Not hardly," Ron said as he sat down. "He was hiding as my pet rat. That's why Hermione's orange beast kept attacking him." She gave him the most horrified look she'd given anyone. He nodded. "That's why he broke out, to protect Harry. Sirius is spending some time getting used to being free in the hospital so they can repair the damage the dementors did."
"Oh." She blinked a few times, looking at Harry. "Then... all those other deaths?"
"Pettigrew trying to get away," Harry told her.
"Oh, dear. Well, I suppose it's good they found out. Why didn't he say so at his trial?"
Harry snorted. "Fudge forbid him from having one."
"Oh, my." She stared. "Really?" He nodded. "Oh, dear. Do you mind if I tell my father that? You know he's a reporter, right?"
"Go ahead," he agreed with a smile. "You might also talk to Hermione about what she found out recently about the last Dark Lord. Kinda stunning and it blows some of the stereotypes of Slytherins out."
"Really?" She looked at Hermione.
"He was a half-blood. Muggle father." The girl looked stunned and rushed off to the nearest floo to tell him that. Hermione smiled and handed Harry the meatloaf. "Eat more than the ice cream you probably had for lunch." Ron looked confused. "You're both young men, of course you had ice cream for lunch."
"After the trial," Harry corrected but he did take some. "I missed lunch."
"That's fine." She handed it on to Ron and Neville, who just sat down. "We took notes for you today."
"Thank you, 'Mione," Ron said with a smile. "Knew we could count on you. What did we do in defense?"
"Hmm." Harry stuffed his mouth before he said anything. She smiled at him for that. Remus walked in and smiled at him, giving him a wink before sitting down in his seat and telling Snape something quietly, getting a nod.
"When does Slytherin get their tower back?" Neville asked.
"Within the next two weeks. They'll have to find new furniture to replace everything that was destroyed. Apparently the merpeople trashed the furniture for not working for them." Ron shrugged. "I know someone yelled at them for fighting next to the windows and cracking it."
"Is that what did it?" Hermione asked. They both nodded. "Just suddenly?"
"No, it had cracked earlier in the day but it got repaired," Harry said. "Then it cracked again while we were asleep. We woke up to flooding from a few minor cracks that were spreading." He ate a bite and chewed. "I have no idea how they're going to get all the plants and animals, plus the water, out of there."
"I'm having bad thoughts about detentions with Filch and buckets," Ron said with a shudder.
"You can't open the door," Harry pointed out. "It's dripping out of the seams there. One of the seventh years did a bubble headed charm and got back in there through the study area's entrance using a blocking charm. He said it's full all the way to the ceiling all through the dorms. Even if they get the window fixed, they're going to have to push the water back somehow."
"I hadn't thought about that. They can't simply suck it up," Hermione said, considering the problem. "Or banish it back at the lake." They both nodded. "If they could find a way to push it back and then seal it back in it might work but I don't think there's a way to push water that way. If you sealed it first you'd have to do it underwater and then drain the rooms," she realized. She looked up at the professors. She was daring enough to talk to Snape. "Professor, we just wondered about how you're getting all the water out of your dorms. Are they going to seal it underwater and then push it out or push the water out and then do the windows?"
He stared at her. "I do not know. You'd have to ask the headmaster, Miss Granger. He was handling that."
"Thank you, sir." She moved to him. "Headmaster?"
"I have not decided which would be easier, Miss Granger. Why?"
"As Harry said Draco pointed out, you can't open the doors. It's full to the ceilings."
He blinked a few times. "I thought it was less than that."
"Half the lake is in there by the level it was at during Care of Magical Creatures earlier," she said.
"I'll have to check on that. If I need to, I'll ask some of the students to help me research methods." She beamed and left again. That was an interesting question. How to get the lake out of Slytherin?
Severus looked at the map of Slytherin. "We're doing what?" he asked.
"We are going to put up some barrier walls so no new water can get in. We'll push all the water out of a room," the engineer said. "That'll leave it sealed until we can get the rest cleared."
"The creatures and plants?" Snape asked.
"We're going to use something sonic, sound waves, to drive them off. Plus a good feeding on the other side of the lake." He smiled. "We'll start with the highest rooms then work our way down but I doubt you'll be able to save any of the furniture. It'll be rotten probably."
"I'm told the merpeople damaged some anyway," Snape admitted.
"Probably so. They can be arses about things." He smiled. "It should take us about three days to drain everything, then we'd set up both a super strong window that's reinforced magically and a barrier in front of it for the next time they're fighting over who gets what mate." Snape nodded once at that. "Once that's done, we'll reinforce the other windows as well."
"Will they have a view? Most barriers aren't clear."
"We're going to go with a muggle product. It's harmless, see-through, but nearly indestructible. We've used it before for the large aquarium at the University."
"I've seen that. It was a bit blurry but suitable."
"Did you want clear glass or colored glass?" he asked the headmaster. "It'll be only a few knuts more per foot for the colored glass as long as it's all one color."
"Clear would be fine," he said. "I'm told it's restful staring at the water."
"That's fine." He made that note. "If we do smaller panes of windows it's easier to reinforce them instead of one longer piece. It'd also be easier to repair in the future."
Snape considered it. "Can we do four equal panes?"
"Yes, easy enough to do. Four side-by-side or two upper and two lower?"
"Is either option cheaper?" Dumbledore asked.
"About the same. It's the same price basically as doing one large one but that one's going to stretch out the charms too far probably. This way we'll be able to do each pane and then the whole overtop of it."
"That makes good sense. Severus?"
"Side-by-side," he decided. "It'll be easier for those who want to move furniture to do so. Less fussing at us later."
The engineer smiled. "Every house has a few, Professor." He looked at his figures and handed that over to the headmaster. "That's the estimate. I've added how much it would be if the draining ran long or we ran into other problems. That would also leave the issue of new furniture out."
"We can replace most of it with what we have in storage," Dumbledore said, looking it over. He was not happy with how expensive this was going to be. "I'm wondering if mermaid steaks would taste good."
"Probably not," Severus said dryly. "It might also be considered cannibalism since they are half-human." The headmaster grimaced. He took it to look at, wincing. "I did try to shore them up as soon as I heard."
"Sometimes you can't stop water," the engineer said. "Frankly, that window was over a hundred years old, Professors. It was long past due for a change-out." They nodded at that. "Are there any other lake entrances or windows we should look at?"
"I know of one," Severus admitted. "We'll see if we can find any others." The engineer smiled at him for that. "Before we have to repeat this exercise." That got a nod and he went to tell his workers what they needed to get for the job. He looked at the Headmaster. "Perhaps we should check the rest of the windows as well. I know there's some broken in Hufflepuff."
"This summer. When we have the budget for it," he said blandly.
Severus left him to his thoughts of the budget and what the Board was going to say.
Lucius got the paperwork for the estimate at the Board meeting that night. "This meeting of the School Board for Hogwarts is now called to order," the chairman said. "This is an impromptu meeting about a necessary repair. Lucius, I believe you got handed the paperwork?"
"The estimate. Apparently we're changing the main window in Slytherin for some reason." He handed it over. "It seems excessive and I have no idea why we'd need more than one temporary wall."
"We should see why this is such a massive fix," one of the others said. "My boy hasn't said anything recently that would tell me there was a problem."
"Then let us adjourn until we can see the evidence of need ourselves," the chairman decided. "All in favor." Everyone nodded and they went to Hogwarts. The headmaster was only too happy to let them in. They had no idea why he had cast a charm around the doorway. It looked a bit damp to their eyes. So apparently there was a small leak. That was a safety issue and they would be fixing it. Lucius knew the current password thanks to Draco so he used it.
They got a face full of water and a mermaid landed in one's lap. They spluttered but the door shut automatically. The one with the mermaid was still spluttering and she was complaining too. The headmaster smiled as he banished her back to the lake. The headmaster looked at them. "The students are presently in borrowed quarters in the other three houses."
"The cost is approved," the chairman said simply, casting a drying charm. He was still wet but not sopping or dripping. "How long has that been going on, Dumbledore?"
"We've been trying to get it resealed for three days now," he admitted. "Thankfully we got all the students and all but one familiar out of there in time, plus Severus had Mr. Potter save all the paintings and wall hangings. We have some replacement and spare beds." House elves appeared with mops and buckets for the spilled water.
Lucius gave him a look. "Why did my son not tell me this recently?"
"I believe he was stressed by other matters. Those three are in Gryffindor. They're non-carnally sharing a bed."
"We'll approve new beds as well," Lucius said. "Even if we do have to ask the alumni for donations for new furniture." They all squished as they walked off. He found his son in the entryway waiting on him. Draco gave him a long stare. "Why did none of the children write us about the main window breaking?"
"I did and I know Crabbe did," Draco said with a shrug. "I sent it to Mother."
"I'll check with her then. We've approved the repairs to start as soon as possible. That way you don't have to live in Gryffindor."
"Since all three of us are in Slytherin this year, we'll be up there next year," Draco said dryly. "Longbottom snores like a woodcutter's saw."
Lucius shuddered. "I'll see if the separate room is still available, that way you don't have to share a bed." He squished off to the aparation point, going home to change. "Narcissa, did you get a letter from our son about a flood in Slytherin?" he asked casually as he walked in.
She stared at him. "Why are you wet?"
"We went to see why Slytherin needed repairs. Draco said he sent you a letter?"
"I did not get a letter from our son in the last week and a half."
"Look into that for me please. Also, see if we have any spare furniture we can donate since they'll need to replace everything." He squished all the way up the stairs to his nice, warm shower that his wife was calling a house elf to start for him. Then dry clothes, a brandy or two, and he'd be back to his normal self.
Narcissa went to her room to giggle madly at Lucius and what must have happened, but she did gather the household inventory. Then she'd see why the letter hadn't gotten to her.
Narcissa met Lucius at the breakfast table the next morning. "We don't have many things in storage that are suitable for a school. Most of them are more delicate antiques." She sat down and accepted her tea and plate from the house elf. "I was thinking about taking some of the other alumni wives shopping."
"We may be one of the richest families in this country but we are not wealthy enough to redecorate Slytherin."
"That's why I was going to take the other wives."
He looked at her. "I don't believe so. You'd still spend the greatest majority of it. We will donate some, much less than a quarter of what is needed. After all, our son will be out in a few years. Leave it to the families that have multiple children in the school."
"If I must."
"Yes, you must. Perhaps the new study areas? Some nice candelabra."
"Perhaps," she decided. "The beds?"
"The headmaster thinks they have most of them covered from the spares in storage."
"Then the next larger class will have problems."
"True," he admitted. "But then we'll have a budget that can buy more beds. This year's is shot with the repairs."
"Is it really that bad?" He gave her a dirty look. "What broke?"
The main window." She shivered. "Nott didn't like the mermaid that landed in his lap when we opened the door." She shuddered. He opened his paper and read the headlines. "It took three days for the Prophet to report on it as well. Dumbledore must have spies somewhere stopping information." He kept reading, sipping his morning tea gradually.
Aunt Bresbis, who was a cranky, elderly aunt - even at twenty she looked horrendously old and cranky - cleared her throat since everyone was yelling. "Shut the bloody hell up!" she shouted making everyone flinch. "Thank you, *children*." She stared at them. "There are alumni I'm sure," she said dryly to stop the board members from fighting over the costs of replacing all the furnishings. "Can we not ask them?"
"We have. They're not inclined to donate here without stipulation," Malfoy said dryly. "I cannot, for the good of my family, let my wife do all the shopping alone either."
Eleanor pushed Bresbis out of the way. "Thank you for doing the menial watching for me, Aunt Bresbis." She looked at Lucius. "Fine, we'll figure out what to hand over to help with that as a donation and you can use it to goad and guilt the others, including the ones around you presently, into helping, Lucius." He smirked. "But to do so, we need our heir. We haven't decided if we're settling him into the wards or not. He seems a bit...nice for most of the family. Probably because of that stupid aunt of his. Either that or James' mother wasn't very good at her job. Clearly falling down on the family image."
"Who are you?" Mrs. Longbottom demanded.
"That's one's of Potter's aunts," Lucius said. "Eleanor Potter-Mercator."
She blinked a few times. "You're related to *the* Harry Potter?"
"Yes, I'm his great-aunt," she said with a happy smile. "Harry is a charming young man. Bit confused but well, he *was* raised muggle." She glared at Dumbledore. "We still wanted to talk to you about that, Headmaster." He nodded once at that. She smiled at her family's new minion. He was very helpful. "Would that be enough to encourage others?"
"Possibly," he agreed.
"Grand. Let us have our nephew for the weekend. It's a long trip you know."
"Yes, I do know. I've made it once to make sure it was appropriate for my son." She smirked at him and winked. He smirked back. "I believe we can arrange that in a few hours. It's Thursday."
"He has a test in Potions tomorrow," the headmaster said.
"I am not holding off my test for that trivial of a matter."
"He has you early in the day?"
"For my nerves, yes."
"Send him down after that. With Remus if you can, if not, tell me and I'll go with them."
"Them?" the headmaster demanded.
"If they can barely get a floor and a half from each other, I doubt one can leave the country," Severus said dryly.
"What happened?" Mrs. Longbottom asked.
"Lockhart," he said grimly. "He was given a restraining order so I can't harm him. It's most unfair."
"He didn't get one for us," Harry said as they walked in together. "Aunt Cordelia told the Baron she wanted to see us up here?"
"We are cheerfully donating something to help restore my former house, nephew."
"That's fine, Aunt. Is it somewhere I didn't discover?"
"Quite. We'll have to key you into the family wards, Harry. We were going to wait until you were older." He gave her a pointed look. "Even if you are the white sheep of the family."
Ron looked at her. "Harry never follows orders. He can't be a sheep, Aunt Eleanor." She chuckled. "Maybe the white cat of the family?" She cackled at that, nodding. He smirked at Harry, who was glaring. "You don't."
"It's sad that I'm the voice of reason," Draco complained, looking at his father. "Though Potter was correct, there is no restraining order from one of us dueling him and killing him in a grand, open, messy manner."
"Not sleeping well?" his father guessed.
"They snore too," he complained dryly. "And the bed's very lumpy. Plus tiny. I keep waking up whenever anyone bumps into me. Since Potter has nightmares, Weasley hunts garden gnomes hoarding chocolate frogs, and those oh-so-entertaining broomsticks with boobs let him take them for a fly now and then, no I'm not."
"That's why a lot of those beds were put into storage," the headmaster admitted. "Mattresses that are unsuitable to sleep on, frames with cracks." He looked at the board for the school. "We are all making due and he is not the only one that has decided to sleep in the infirmary instead."
Draco looked at him. "It was that or the stables and they stink, so therefore I would stink," he said bluntly. "Though the rest of the Gryffindor mattresses aren't much better. Longbottom of all people took pity on me and let me borrow his bed. It was just as lumpy but there was less kicking. Even if I did have to sleep in some odd cat-like position."
Lucius shook his head. "Next year, son. Unless the donations are *very* generous."
"Yes, father. If so, can we also up the food farm? We've had stringy chicken again."
Ron rolled his eyes. "The house elves did a good job stewing them so they'd be less tough."
"Personally I liked the poisoned juice the other morning," Harry said. Everyone stared at him. "It wasn't rotten," he told them. "The potion detection spell Draco hit it with went off."
Draco nodded. "It was beautiful of them to give us arsenic. Which house elf hates us now?" he asked the Headmaster.
"I have not heard anything about this." He looked at Snape, who shook his head.
"Dobby?" Harry called. He appeared. "Which house elf tried to poison us the other morning?"
"Martingale, Harry Potter." He beamed at him, bobbing his head about and bouncing some. "Dobby did beat Martingale for trying to poison Harry Potter, who is a great wizard and needs his food. Thankfully his snuggle mate is paranoid and found the poison before Harry Potter or his Weasy could drink it." Harry motioned Dobby closer. "You want to tell Dobby a secret? Harry Potter is *great* to his Dobby." Harry whispered in his ear, getting a horrified look. Harry nodded. Dobby looked at Draco then at him. "Dobby will be nicer since Master Draco sir is given to Harry Potter and his Weasy as bride." He left, looking a bit upset for Harry. Poor him, having to make Malfoy bear Potter babies.
Harry looked at Draco and shrugged. "At least it probably stopped him from ignoring me," Draco sighed. He shook his head quickly. "Eww." He rubbed his forehead so his father handed over the vial of headache potion he carried for board meetings. "Thank you, Father."
"Thanks, Dad," Ron said with a grin.
"Yeah, Da, thanks," Harry agreed with his own smile.
Lucius stared at them. "My son can take a hex for a few hours," he promised.
"If we call Narcissa Mum think she'd send us cookies too?" Ron asked him. Draco stared at Ron like he was suddenly transfigured into something weird.
"I believe if you did, she might hex you as well. My name is most appropriate, Mr. Weasley. Father-in-law if you *must*. Anything less and I will be proving that your mother failed in one of her children's manners lessons and how to fix it. You as well, Mr. Potter, even though your aunt never tried any home training for you." He looked at his son, who handed back the empty vial. "I won't tell her you told them to do that."
"Not me. I had no idea what took over their minds. They've been like this all day since Hermione was nagging them and Pansy tried valiantly to save myself and herself from being caught."
Lucius shook his head. "You three all need a rest. Or medicine."
Snape cast a diagnostic charm. "It seems Miss Granger was trying to cheer them up. I know Mr. Weasley gets a bit...demented on cheering potions."
"Clearly it's spread," Lucius told him. The two were pouting but he could ignore that. He could ignore his son's much more powerful pout, he could ignore those two. And the house elf that popped up behind them to help. It wasn't even Dobby.
Eleanor sighed. "Really, Lucius, they're being playful boys again. Boys, enough or *I'm* spanking."
"How?" Draco asked.
She stared at him. "I will come out of this painting if I must, boy."
"I was just wondering if you had a preset resurrection already set up or not, Aunt Eleanor."
"No but I'm sure I can find a few. Harry could use a more corporeal relative. Don't you think, Lucius?"
"I believe it would frighten a great many people if you should, Eleanor."
"Then the idiots who think I'm going to be the next dark lord can be worried about someone else," Harry quipped sarcastically.
Draco shrugged. "People think the stupidest things," he said blandly.
"Usually because you tell them those things," Ron told him.
Harry patted him on the arm. "It's all right, Ron, I forgive you for thinking the same thing." He walked off shaking his head. "Let me know when we have to go."
"He was my enemy," Draco told the staring adults. "It was rather a brilliant plan since we were only second years." He smirked.
Ron walked off shaking his head. "Let me calm Harry down before he decides we're all running away to join the circus this year," he muttered. He knew Draco had just rolled his eyes but his father could swat him for showing off in public. Must be the new girl parts prompting him to act like a girl.
"I am not!" Draco shouted at him. "Take that back, Weasley!" He stomped after him to kick his ass, even if he'd be bruised too.
"Is there truly no way to unlink them?" the headmaster asked Lucius.
"Do you think if there were a way, I would hesitate to use it before they finish driving my only heir insane?" he asked back.
"Good point." He sighed, looking at Eleanor. "I will allow them down for the weekend to retrieve that donation. They are to be back by Sunday night."
"Of course. They need what little education they're getting in their classes. I really must find a way for Cordelia to talk to Professor Binns again." She walked off thinking.
"I cannot believe Harry is related to someone like that," Mrs. Longbottom said with a grimace.
"It proves where his father got his pranking from," Nott said dryly, getting a nod from Severus. "Are any still alive?" Lucius shook his head. "Pity, it'd keep Potter from his muggle relatives."
"As the three can't be separated that far, they spent the summer at the family home," Lucius told him. "Draco was most verbose about the education they received this summer.
"It was nice that their summer homework was suitably done for once," Snape said dryly. "They even managed to impress on Ms. Granger that there is such a thing as too long of an essay."
"Perhaps that family can do miracles then," Lucius said dryly. He walked off shaking his head. They'd talk about the donations again on Monday. That way his poor son could quit living in Gryffindor.
TBC in part 3
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