The Secondary Task – 2/2 – ProfFrankly

Title: The Secondary Task
Author: ProfFrankly
Fandom: Harry Potter
Genre: Mystery, Romance
Relationship(s): Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy
Content Rating: R
Warnings: Major Character Death, Violence – Graphic, Violence-Canon typical. Frank discussions of teen sex (no actual teen sex).
Author Notes: This work is inspired by my favorite Harry/Draco authors, Keira Marcos and Vorabiza. Thanks to Keira for talking me out of giving up on this piece, and to Gypsysue for the fantastic beta and Brit-pick. Any mistakes left are mine. Thanks, also, to Coco, who did the amazing art. Finally, thanks to my fellow Cheetahs on the JustWrite Discord server. Sprints with you made this work possible.
Beta: Gypsysue
Word Count: 51,000
Summary: When Harry Potter’s name comes out of the Goblet of Fire, Draco Malfoy decides the Boy-Who-LIved needs a friend, whether he wants one, or not. With his mother’s backing, Draco sets out to make sure Harry knows he has someone in his corner, for now, and if Draco has his way, for always.
Artist: CoCo



Chapter 7

Mother,

I hardly know what to think at the moment. I’m sitting in Charms, so you know that I am breaking our rule about no contact while I’m in class. But this.

Mother, Dumbledore did not know he was not Harry’s magical guardian, and he did, indeed, attempt to set up a betrothal contract between Harry and Ginny Weasley. While we were hashing that out, it became apparent that Harry’s background and childhood were more horrific than we imagined. Dumbledore placed Harry with his aunt and uncle, who neglected and abused him. Dumbledore didn’t know this, however, because although he’d appointed himself Harry’s magical guardian, he failed to supervise the entire situation. Professor Snape, of all people, is livid.

Did you know that he and Harry’s mum were good childhood friends? Apparently, despite Snape’s hatred of James Potter, he loved Lily enough to Vow to protect Harry.

And with this, reliance on Dumbledore’s assurances, he may be foresworn.

Mother, Harry admitted they locked him up, kept him in a cupboard, and neglected to feed him. He refused to say whether they physically abused him, so we may safely assume that they did.

I do not know whether Sirius knows any of this, but if his temper is anything like yours—and mine—you might wish to tell him yourself after you’ve cooled down. Possibly in a warded space. And, oddly enough, I think, perhaps, Professor Snape might be a good ally in seeking revenge on Harry’s behalf.

We’ve just left that meeting, and we’re in Charms, and I might be violating any number of unspoken rules in writing you now. Please don’t mention any of this to Father until I speak of it to Harry, until I hear what he wants me to do, if anything. But if you have any insight to offer, I’ll take it.

Dumbledore still does not know that Harry and I are contracted. It’s none of his business. But he did Vow to dismantle the wards at Harry’s relatives’ home, and to do his best to reunite Sirius and Harry legally.

I’m now beginning to wonder if Dumbledore isn’t evil, or manipulative, but just dumb as a post about some things.

I must go—I will write again later.

Draco

In the light of the meeting in Dumbledore’s office, Draco felt no compunction at all about remaining at Harry’s side for the rest of the day.

While they’d been keeping their public interaction relatively lowkey, to avoid awkward questions and interactions with the faculty, the rest of the student body was well aware of their relationship, if not its full extent. Given the subject matter of the very public discussion in the Great Hall this morning, and the numerous eavesdroppers, Draco thought none would be surprised to see him sticking to Harry like glue.

So, he set himself next to Harry and held his hand between classes, walking him out to Care of Magical Creatures while also idly wondering why the Slytherins and Gryffindors had so many classes together. Harry was quiet, but he held on to Draco’s hand as if it were some sort of lifeline. Given the way his day had started, perhaps it was.

That was fine with Draco. His hand was there for Harry to use.

The class was set to work with salamanders that day, and Draco used the cover of the cheery fire in which the animals were scampering to pull Harry just that bit closer.

“Alright?” Draco asked quietly.

Harry shrugged. “Better with you here.”

Draco tugged him closer and put an arm around his waist, guiding him to tuck under Draco’s chin. He didn’t know how long he’d have the height advantage on Harry, but he planned to use it as long as he could.

Their classmates gave them a wide berth, except for Ron, who came over toward the end of the lesson and cleared his throat. “Er, Harry. Alright?”

Harry just looked at him, incredulously. “No, Ron, I am not alright.”

“Right, right.” Ron looked away, then looked back at Harry with anxious blue eyes. “I had no idea Mum and Dad would do something like that, Harry.”

Harry sighed. “I didn’t think you would, Ron. You’d have at least let me know about it, anyway.”

“I would have, yeah. And if they’d asked me, I’d’ve told ‘em to wait,” Ron explained earnestly. “I know you two are together right now, and it’s just not on to try and break you up that way.”

“Right now, and if I have my way, always, Ron,” Harry said firmly. “That’s not going to change.”

Ron stared, then shook himself. “Right, if that’s the case, then…” He drew a breath and let it out. “Right. Malfoy, you’ll want to fill him in on some things.”

Draco raised one fine eyebrow. “Things?”

“Er, contracts, and stuff. Look, I’m the sixth of seven and I have no prospects, even if we are members of the Sacred 28. No one bothers me about any of the protocols, and probably never will,” Ron said without inflexion. “But if you and Harry are serious, you need to fill him in on what he needs to know to make it permanent. If that’s still what you want. What both of you want.” He smirked suddenly. “Though I can’t see the appeal, myself, Harry.”

“Shut it,” Harry said, without heat. “He’s hot.”

Draco laughed a little and squeezed Harry. “Look who’s talking.”

Ron shook his head. “Nutters, the both of you. I’ll write Mum. And you might want to watch out for Ginny. None of the rest of us knew she’d go so far as to lie to Mum to get a contract, but I guess that must have been what happened.”

“Weasley, to be clear, and for your ears only, Harry and I are already in a contract,” Draco said bluntly, as Harry started next to him. “We’re quite serious. My parents and his godfather approve. Anyone else will have a difficult time getting between us at this stage. You might consider that, and keep a closer eye on your little sister.”

Ron tilted his head. “I’ll do that.”

Lunch could have been a morose affair, except for the fact that the Weasley twins decided to make it interesting. Watching half the people in the hall change colours—Draco thought the sapphire blue shade particularly fetching—after they drank the pumpkin juice made the other half laugh boisterously. The Weasleys clearly got what they were after in taking the attention off Harry and the scene at breakfast.

Viktor Krum’s presence next to Harry and Draco, who’d elected to sit with the Slytherins, also helped. Viktor had turned a shade of purple that Draco thought privately looked quite nice on him.

Hermione, who had not drunk the pumpkin juice, and thus retained her English Rose complexion (which Draco knew was the envy of half the girls in their year), sat next to Viktor, and the four had a quiet but amiable chat about classes in a bid to further help Harry not think about his odious relatives. Draco noted the absence of both Snape and Dumbledore from the head table and wondered.

Harry didn’t eat much. Draco let him get away with it, but privately decided he’d bring up seeing a Healer at the earliest opportunity that he spotted where Harry might listen.

There was utterly no point throwing himself at that Gryffindor granite stubbornness until he was sure the message might be received in the positive spirit it was meant.

The promised call to Sirius, done hastily in the vestibule off the Great Hall in order to save time, led to Sirius offering assurances to Harry that he’d be firmly in his corner, always, and no matter what. They didn’t discuss the abusive relatives over the mirror, as they were all a little leery of eavesdroppers, but Harry made a vague promise to discuss “matters” with Sirius privately at an early opportunity. Draco was satisfied enough with that, and with the gleam of retribution, he could see in his cousin’s unglamoured grey eyes.

After lunch, Draco and Harry had to split up for separate classes. Draco had Ancient Runes, and Harry had a free period.

“I’m just going up to the dorm for privacy,” Harry said quietly as they paused at the base of the stairs. “See if I can call Sirius back before he hears everything and goes ballistic.”

“Mother hasn’t written back yet,” Draco said, “but I did coach her to get Sirius somewhere safe to blow.”

Harry snorted. “He will, too. Merlin, but I didn’t want anyone to know about this.”

“That’s not healthy, Harry,” Draco said softly. “You don’t have to talk about it with me or anyone else, but it’s important that the few adults you do have in your life are on your side—Mum and Sirius included—and that they have the knowledge they need to help you. I get why you’ve gone off on your own so much, now, you know. You haven’t had anyone to have your back.” He kissed Harry’s forehead gently. “You’ve got me, now, though, and I’m going to make sure you have what you need.”

Harry tipped his chin up so that he could catch Draco’s lips with his own. “I’m not used to that, but I’m trying.”

“That’s all anyone can ask of you at this stage,” Draco said. “And the adults who failed you can fuck right off.”

Harry burst out laughing. “Right, got it.” He snorted a giggle. “Still heading to the dorm. See you at dinner?”

“I’ll sit with the Gryffs if you want,” Draco offered.

“Oh, that’ll be fun,” Harry said, and his eyes sparkled at the thought. “Off you go, then.”

Draco headed down the corridor with a wave, and Harry headed up the stairs.

Sitting with the Gryffs was fun, Draco decided, if only because it was entertaining to watch certain faces. Many Gryffindors had no clue how to conceal their emotions, and it was clear that many had feelings about a Slytherin at the lion’s table.

Including the youngest Weasley.

“What is he doing here?” he heard her hiss to her brother, Ron.

“Sitting with his boyfriend,” Ron said coldly. He raised his voice a bit. “Malfoy, pass the potatoes, please?”

“Here, Weasley,” Draco responded politely, handing Ron the platter of roasted jacket potatoes that had appeared in front of him the moment before.

“He’s not still seeing Harry,” Ginny continued to hiss quietly. “He can’t be. Dumbledore said so.”

Draco raised an eyebrow at Ron, who clearly got the message that his sister’s comments could be heard and were not appreciated. Harry had shrunk down a little in his seat in response to the general conversation but had yet to say anything. Draco reached under the table to lay a hand on Harry’s thigh in support but said nothing as he loaded his plate one-handed and ensured Harry’s plate was full, too.

Ron gritted his teeth, caught Fred’s eye, and said, “Ginny, that’s enough. Harry and Draco are with each other, and that’s the end of it.”

Ginny turned an alarming shade of red as Fred brought George along to flank their siblings. “I can’t believe you!” She shrieked it under her breath, clearly attempting not to call attention to herself but equally unable to keep her outrage to herself. “I’m supposed to marry Harry!”

“You’ll find that difficult,” Draco drawled, tightening the hand he had on Harry’s knee in warning, “as he’s contracted to me.”

The ripple of whispers and gossip exploded from the Gryffindor’s as if by magic, spreading over the entire hall within seconds. Harry looked up from where he’d trained eyes on his plate, and said, quietly but firmly, “And we intend to honour that.”

Fred managed to silence Ginny’s scream of outrage before it could disturb the Hall further, and together with George, the pair managed to hustle their sister out of the room. George tossed Harry a wink and smile on the way out, to show there were no hard feelings.

Ron shook his head, helped himself to the potatoes, and set himself to eating.

Harry laid a hand over Draco’s to squeeze his back, they fell silent, listening to the din and holding onto each other.

Draco,

You were quite right to warn me. Beyond our own anger, keeping Sirius calm was quite the feat. We will need new warding for the primary ritual room.

Professor Snape came over for luncheon with an explicit purpose: to tell your father the address of Harry’s odious relatives. Sirius joined us, of course, and it was quite something to see the pair of them—Sirius and Severus, I mean—join forces to begin a campaign of terror. I did tell them, of course, that anything they tried to do ought to be cleared with Harry first, as he was the wronged party. I’m not sure I was successful, so you might want to prepare Harry for that.

If things were as bad as all that, he might not want the attention called to his situation. And I’m sure he has complicated feelings about his aunt and uncle. I will set myself to researching how to talk to and understand children who have been abused so that I can better advise you. Meanwhile, I think the best path toward healing is the love I know you have for each other now. It’s all over you.

Lucius is livid, of course. This information about Harry’s circumstances supports his position, you know, about separating wizards from Muggles. His position, and I can’t say I disagree, is that no magical child should face the abuse and neglect that can come from being different. I believe he stands ready to fund the efforts of S & S, though I also think I can see more legislation coming from your father and his voting block about monitoring of magical children in the nonmagical world. I am sure he would appreciate a conversation with Harry about his point of view.

I look forward to seeing you both on Saturday as we take our trip to the Hall of Prophecies. You will find Sirius in the usual spot. Given the clandestine nature of the trip—we do not know what Dumbledore is playing at, but there is something still off with his reactions—we suggest quietly leaving the school as you did the last time, rather than coming to Hogsmeade officially.

With love,

Mother

Harry seemed much better when he met up with Draco by the one-eyed witch statue Saturday morning after breakfast. The pair looked out for each other as they went into the passageway, then held hands as they walked into the basement of Honeydukes.

They met Sirius in his spot by the chocolate, walked back to the alley behind the shop, and apparated to London to meet Narcissa, who stood next to the Ministry’s public entrance.

She gave them each a hug, and said quietly, “We’re keeping this visit quiet. Officially, Draco, you and I are here with our second cousin to discuss a property transfer. Harry, you will remain under the cloak. We will all make our way to the Department of Mysteries, where we will be met by the Head Unspeakable, Croaker, who is very interested in this visit and has agreed to keep it, and whatever we find, quiet.”

“Did he take an oath?” Sirius asked.

“He did, to maintain our privacy on the matter,” Narcissa nodded. “This can be negotiated should a prophecy be found and its contents are relevant to national security.”

Harry, under the cloak, squeezed Draco’s hand. Draco, who had popped out from under the cloak when he saw his mother, squeezed back. “Harry’s fine with that,” Draco said.

Sirius nodded, too, looking resigned.

The four of them, one invisible, stepped into the red box and dialled the Ministry number.

“Names and Purpose of visit?”

“Draco Malfoy, Narcissa Malfoy, and Atticus Finch. Property matters,” Narcissa said primly, and three visitor badges were issued with names and ‘Property matters’ written clearly on them. The visible three received their badges, and Sirius smirked as he attached the badge labelled “Atticus Finch” to his cloak.

“I loved that book, too,” he murmured. “Did Lily share it with you? She insisted that we all needed to read it sometime in third year.”

“She did,” Narcissa said. “It helped me understand the nature of injustice.”

“Which book is this?” Draco asked.

“Oh, dear. It’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I’ll send it along to you. It’s quite good.” Narcissa stepped out into the Ministry atrium, closely followed by the men. Draco had let go of Harry’s hand, but he could feel that Harry was grasping his robe. Narcissa approached the guard for the wand-weighing, which took very little time, and the trio plus one headed for the lifts.

They travelled in silence all the way down to Level 10, then walked the rest of the way into the Department of Mysteries. They were met at the door by a man in a cloak with a hood that obscured his face. Narcissa raised a single eyebrow, and the man drew his hood back, revealing a handsome face that featured deep brown eyes and a crooked smile. “Narcissa.”

“Giles.” Narcissa held out both hands. “It’s good to see you.”

They air-kissed each other’s cheeks, then Narcissa turned to introduce Draco. “My son, Draco Malfoy. My cousin, Atticus Finch. And another whom you are aware of, but who will remain concealed until we are well within the Hall of Prophecies.”

“Of course. It’s a pleasure to meet you all.” Giles looked around at all of them. “Follow me.”

Draco internally noted that Giles had given no last name, nor rank, though the man was clearly an Unspeakable. Therefore, this Giles must hold his mother in high esteem. For the first time, Draco considered that they might be walking into a trap of some sort. He decided, however, to trust his mother.

They walked into a round room surrounded by doors. Giles raised a wand and said something indistinct; then the doors whirled around them before one came to rest directly in front of the group, outlined in a faint gold light. Giles gestured to the rest to follow him, and Draco felt Harry take hold of Draco’s belt as they passed through the door into a room that held a series of what looked like old-fashioned Muggle file cabinets.

“This is the index room,” Giles said. “I will speak each of your names in turn, and any prophecies related to you will be made known to us. A file card will pop up with the location of the prophecy in the hall. They’ll refile themselves once we find it. So! Let’s start with our adults, shall we?”

“Atticus” raised a sardonic eyebrow. “To what purpose?”

“You’re all here, and we might as well see? Not many bother to see if there’s a prophecy about that might direct their actions.” Giles smiled as he said it. “Atticus” nodded, conceding the point.

Giles cleared his throat. “Indexico: Narcissa Penelope Malfoy, nee Black.”

A flat sound echoed through the chamber.

“No prophecies for you, dear friend.” Giles looked at “Atticus.” “Will you come forward as yourself, then? I assure you there are no surveillance devices here.”

“Atticus” glanced at Narcissa, who nodded. He shrugged. “Sirius Orion Black.”

Giles raised both eyebrows, but intoned, “Indexico: Sirius Orion Black.”

A chime sounded, a drawer glowed and opened, and a card flew out, directly to Sirius’ hand.

“Huh.” Sirius looked at the card. “Row 67, shelf A, item 3.”

“You’ll need to hold on to the card until we get there, Lord Black,” Giles said. “Next, our visible youth. Indexico: Draco Lucien Malfoy.”

Another chime sounded, and its drawer popped open so its card could reach Draco, who reached out and snatched it. “Row 91, shelf E, item 9.”

Narcissa paled. “Truly? A prophecy relating to my son?” She looked around at Giles. “Did you know about this?”

“No, Narcissa,” Giles said gently. “Many prophecies are spoken that are never heard by any. As I said, very few come here. Only true prophecies get recorded down here, and the person to which they refer, if any, is referenced magically. No one would know unless he came to check personally.”

Narcissa visibly calmed herself. “Right.”

Draco kept quiet but held the card tightly.

Harry then chose to pull the cloak over his head. “Giles.”

“Ah, Mr Potter. A pleasure to meet you.” Giles cleared his throat. “Your full name?”

“According to my paperwork? Harry James Potter.”

Giles intoned, “Indexico: Harry James Potter.”

Four chimes sounded, four drawers lit up, and four cards floated gently over to Harry, who caught them all, bemused.

“Well, that was unexpected,” Giles said quietly. “What locations for you, Lord Potter?”

“Row 91, shelf E, item 9,” Harry said, glancing at Draco to be sure that meant what he thought it meant. Draco nodded. They had a prophecy in common. “Row 97, shelf M, item 4. Row 94, shelf G, item 6. Row 90, shelf A, item 1.”

Giles pursed his lips. “Well, then. We’re off. We’ll start with Lord Black’s. Follow me.”

The quartet followed Giles silently through another door, to be faced with shelves upon shelves of orbs. Some glowed brightly, some were dulled out grey, and others gave a faint glow.

“The dull ones have been fulfilled or negated,” Giles explained as he led the way to row 67. “The ones that glow faintly have yet to begin. The ones that glow brightly are in process.”

Draco nodded, as did his mother and Sirius, to show understanding. Harry did nothing, clutching his cards and looking as stoic as Draco had ever seen him. They reached row 67, and Giles glanced at shelf A. “Item 3.” Giles gestured. “Lord Black, only those to whom a prophecy refers can take the orbs down.”

Sirius stepped slowly forward and picked up the orb, which glowed brightly, indicating it was in process. A deep man’s voice echoed through the hall:

The Black Heir will be betrayed by one friend, and forsaken by the rest. But he will rise from his exile stronger than ever he was, and with new purpose, prove to be the key to evil’s undoing.

Sirius carefully placed the orb back on the shelf.

“Are you all right, Siri?” Harry asked quietly.

“Quite, pup.” Sirius rubbed a hand over Harry’s messy hair. “Quite.”

Giles beckoned the group. “Let’s move on, shall we?”

They plodded down to Row 90, shelf A, item one. It gave a faint glow. “Not yet in play, I see,” Giles said. “Go ahead and pick it up, Lord Potter.”

Harry did, and a light but somehow also deep voice said:

Shall he not be bound, the Heir to Avalon will rise. Beware the false, for they shall twist thy purpose. Beware the ignorant, for they shall divert the Heir from his path. Shall he not be bound, the Heir to Avalon will rise.

“Well, that’s terribly clear,” Harry snarked quietly as he put it back.

“And not yet in play, but still giving a faint glow,” Giles mused. “So it seems rather timely to me. Perhaps an indicator of great things to come, if you’re allowed to grow into your role? I’d heed the warnings, though, Lord Potter. Let’s head off to the next.”

They moved down to Row 91, where the joint prophecy glowed brightly from its position on the shelf.

“Together?” Draco asked.

Harry nodded, and the pair took the orb down together. Another of those deep voices sounded:

Serpent and Hawk shall find love and power together. Their binding shall confound evil’s true purpose and help to bring about its end. Serpent and Hawk shall find love and power together.

“Interesting,” Giles said. “Mean anything to you?”

Draco held Harry’s gaze for a moment, before saying, “Yes.” He guided Harry as they carefully set the shining orb back. “Next?”

Giles said no more but led them to row 94.

The same light, but deep voice as his earlier prophecy spoke from an orb of grey:

The Heir of Avalon shall take up the Sword and kill the Beast. Thus shall he end a reign of terror and gain his greatest weapon in the fights to come.

“Slain any great beasts lately, Lord Potter?” Giles joked.

“Does a basilisk count?” Harry responded calmly as he put the orb back.

“Er. I would think so, yes.” Giles looked taken aback.

“Then you should count this one as fulfilled, rather than negated,” Harry said. “Row 97?”

Giles kept silent as he wound their way to Row 97. The prophecy there glowed brightly, and Harry picked it up.

The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches. Born to those who have thrice defied him. Born as the seventh month dies. And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not. And either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives. The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies.

Harry set it back, taking note of the label as he did so. “What does the label mean?”

“It’s the recording of who spoke the prophecy and to whom, if any,” Giles explained. “Your other prophecies weren’t labelled because no one heard them. Though we’re fairly certain the speaker of the Avalon prophecies was a witch named Pandora Lovegood. There are a few others that do not directly refer to the Heir of Avalon, which I will see you get transcripts of, Lord Potter.”

“Thank you,” Harry said. “So this label?”

“Sybill Trelawney to Albus Dumbledore,” Giles said quietly.

Several things fell into place for Draco with a crystalizing crash.

“That miserable old goat,” Draco murmured. “He’s been trying to control you because he knows this prophecy. He thinks you’re the only one who can defeat Voldemort.”

“And that I’ll likely die trying,” Harry said. “No wonder …” He glanced at Giles. “Let’s discuss this later.”

“Yes, let’s,” Sirius said briskly. “Narcissa, if we’re quite finished, we should be going.”

“Yes, of course,” Narcissa said. “Giles, our thanks. If you could escort us out?”

“My pleasure,” Giles said and raised his hood to escort them to the lower entrance. His modified voice then could be heard from its depths. “You might want to cloak Lord Black instead of Lord Potter on your way out. If anyone heard his name or had any taboos on it, you’re likely to find Aurors on the other side of the door.”

“Giles, you assured me this was safe,” Narcissa said icily, drawing herself up.

“Precaution only, Narcissa,” Giles said calmly.

Harry handed Sirius the cloak, and Sirius drew it over his shoulders before holding one hand out to Harry. “You, too, pup.” Harry took the hand, and they both disappeared under the cloak.

Draco assumed Sirius transformed into his animagus form to make them both fit, but said nothing.

There were, indeed, Aurors in the atrium when they emerged, but they failed to detect Harry or Sirius under the cloak. Draco and Narcissa walked calmly past them toward the lifts, then up and out to the Ministry fireplaces.

“Shall we go home for a bit, Mother?” Draco asked, loudly enough to be overheard “I’d like to have tea with you and Father before I go back to Hogwarts today.”

“Of course, Draco,” Narcissa said. “I’ll go ahead and alert the elves. Do not dawdle, son.”

“Yes, Mother,” Draco said, and watched as she Flooed out, calling, “Malfoy Manor.”

He felt Harry grasp his belt, and hoped Sirius had a good grip as Draco stepped into the flames and called out, “Malfoy Manor.”

The whir and pop of spitting out in the Malfoy Manor grate settled Draco, as he could still feel Harry attached to his hip. He stepped out into his family home’s foyer and watched as Harry pulled the cloak of himself and a canine Sirius, who emerged quickly into human form.

“Well, that was exciting,” Draco said with a smirk.

Harry rolled his eyes but grasped Draco’s hand. “Right. Are you the serpent or the hawk?”

Chapter 8

Serpent or hawk?

Well, that was the question, wasn’t it?

The group sat down to tea in the Malfoy Manor sunroom, without Lucius, who rightfully pointed out that what he didn’t know couldn’t be taken from him. He seemed content to know that his son had an integral role in the future of magical Britain, one, they hoped, that would not be tainted by the Dark Lord.

“Tell me nothing else,” Lucius said, firmly. “I will leave you to your discussions.”

Draco watched his father leave, then turned to his mother. “Will this be a problem?”

“Yes,” Narcissa said, also watching as her husband left. “It will, unless we can prevent Moldyshorts from returning.”

Draco snort-laughed in an ugly way. “Mother!” he cried out, scandalised.

“Well, I rather like it,” she said. “Tea, everyone?”

The rather lush display of late morning nibbles—miniature quiches, cucumber sandwiches, fresh black currant scones with cream and jam—took over conversation momentarily as they all filled their plates, doctored their tea, and tucked in.

“So,” Sirius said, “I am to be evil’s undoing? I shall certainly enjoy that.”

“Well, I thought, perhaps, that part might have to do with helping me,” Harry said, hesitantly. “It sounds as though I’ve got to kill or be killed, and I know I’d like help with that. I don’t know that I could actually kill anyway.”

“Well, it actually said vanquish,” Draco pointed out. “That ‘either must die at the hand of the other’ bit makes it sound like you have to kill or be killed, but it said you have the power to vanquish the Dark Lord. And that even he doesn’t know what that power is. Astonishingly enough, that could mean just about anything.”

“I’ve done a bit of research,” Narcissa said, “about Horcruxes. And Siri, I think this is where you could come into play. Because if Moldyshorts made more than one of those things—and, I think, Harry, the fact that you had a piece of his soul lodged in your scar suggests he was a bit careless about their creation—then I think, perhaps, we should track those down and destroy them.”

“That would mean the key to his ultimate death would come from you, Harry,” Sirius said, “as you’re claiming your lordship when you did alerted us to the presence of those nasty things.”

“Which do appear to anchor a soul to this plane of existence by severing bits of it off.” Narcissa shook her head. “It’s the blackest of magic and a true crime. They’re trapped in containers that can only be destroyed through the use of things such as Fiendfyre, or basilisk venom.”

“I used the Sword of Gryffindor to kill the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets,” Harry said calmly. “It’s goblin made, so it probably absorbed some of the venom.”

“Was that what that one prophecy was about?” Draco asked. “I thought you were pulling Giles’ leg when you said it had been fulfilled.”

“No, I pulled the Sword of Gryffindor from the Sorting Hat and killed the basilisk in the Chamber with it.” Harry shrugged as he pulled the plate of scones toward himself again. “It bit me as it died, but Fawkes came along and cried in the wounds, so I lived.”

The other three wizards at the table stared at him, dumbfounded.

“Right, so this I hadn’t heard,” Sirius said. “So you got an immunity bite from a basilisk?”

“Sorry?” Harry asked.

“It’s not commonly known, but it is in the Black family lore, that a Parselmouth is immune to most poisons, depending on the strength of the first snake to bite the Parselmouth,” Sirius explained. “So if the first snake to bite you was a basilisk …”

“He’ll be immune to most anything else,” Draco realized. “Well, well, Harry.”

“So the weapon to defeat Moldyshorts could be this immunity?” Narcissa asked.

“That, or the Sword,” Harry said, then took a bite of freshly buttered scone.

“Or, perhaps the phoenix tears?” Draco pondered. “What properties do they impart to someone who has been imbued with them?”

“More research, I think,” Narcissa said. “I will begin this afternoon. I will also look up the Heir of Avalon business. Now, to more important matters: which of you is the serpent, and which is the hawk?”

Draco and Harry looked at each other, and Draco said, “We’re not sure. I mean, I’m a Slytherin, so it could mean that I’m the serpent, but Harry’s a Parselmouth, so it’s more likely to be him.”

“Have either of you meditated on your animagus forms?” Sirius asked suddenly.

Another glance.

“No-o-o,” Draco said, drawing the word out. “We don’t even begin learning about the process until fifth year Transfiguration.”

The tips of Harry’s ears had turned pink, but he mumbled, “Maybe.”

“What?” Draco asked. “When?”

Harry cleared his throat. “Well, it’s something my father could do, and there’s something of a family gift for it, so I thought I might as well … try.”

Sirius looked proud. “Of course. How far have you gotten?”

“Not very,” Harry said. “I have a hard time with the meditation part.”

“Right,” Sirius said. “That’s not unusual. I would say, though, that you might find yourself to be the serpent in this equation. Most Parselmouths, if they’re Animagi, end up being some kind of snake.”

Harry looked disappointed. “I was hoping for a stag.”

Sirius closed his eyes briefly, then set his hand on Harry’s shoulder. “Pup, you may look like your father, but you are not him. You are your own person. And James would be proud of you, no matter what.”

Harry looked away.

Draco swallowed around the lump in his own throat, but said, briskly, “I’m not sure where to begin. Could you help, cousin?”

Sirius cleared his throat. “Of course.”

“Well, that’s settled, then,” Narcissa said brightly. “What else can we take away from what we’ve learned this morning?”

“Beware the false, and beware the ignorant,” Draco said, thinking. “Which is which?”

“Well, I’d say Dumbledore falls somewhere in there.” Harry took another sip of his tea. “Ignorant, rather than false, maybe? He certainly seems to think he knows more than it appears he actually does.”

“True,” Draco said. “What about the Weasleys?”

“I’d count Ron and the twins as true,” Harry said slowly, thinking out loud. “But Ginny? Mrs Weasley? I’m not sure they are who I thought.”

“‘Shall he be not bound’ sounds as though you need to be free of something,” Sirius speculated. “As if you will rise as Heir only if you’re free to do so.”

“And the Serpent and Hawk bit makes it sound as though we will be powerful together,” Draco said. “Love and power, together.”

“How’s the love bit coming along?” Sirius asked, half-joking. “Ready to say ‘I do’ yet?”

“Siri, we were waiting on betrothal until we’re fifteen,” Harry said. “Which has been hard, because I find Draco incredibly hot.”

“It’s a burden to be this beautiful,” Draco said airily, making his mother laugh into her tea.

“Yet somehow, you manage,” Harry said seriously, but with a bit of a grin.

“So, love? Check,” Sirius said with the air of one making a list. “Now, what kind of power can that bring to you as a couple?”

“It said binding together,” Draco remembered. “So does being bound to me negate the Heir of Avalon prophecy? And if so, does being bound to me, in order to defeat evil, sound like it’s more important that rising as Heir of Avalon?”

“‘Shall he not be bound’…” Harry trailed off. “Giles did say they had other prophecies about Avalon, right?”

Narcissa nodded. “He did.”

“Then we should see what they hold,” Harry decided. “We’re not bound, officially, yet. And the Heir prophecy was not yet glowing. And anyway, have I already been identified as the Heir in the other prophecy about slaying the beast? Have I not already risen?”

“There’s got to be more to it,” Sirius said. “I think you should continue to put off your betrothal until we have a bit more clarity on the subject. And I definitely think you two should pursue your Animagus forms. I’ll contact Professor McGonagall so that she can supervise if necessary. Narcissa, do you have a copy of Becoming One with the Beast?”

“I’m sure we do,” Narcissa said, rising. “I’ll go and check the library.”

“Bound,” Harry said. “Bound by what and to whom?”

“Those seem like excellent questions,” Draco allowed. “But we do know that binding to me will enable us to defeat evil, which seems an excellent goal. And in the end, does it matter? Whatever will be, will be, love. Perhaps we should step back and make our decisions as if we had never heard the prophecies.”

Harry drummed his fingers against the glass-topped table. “Perhaps.”

“The implication is that if he’s not bound by false and ignorant ‘friends,’ he can rise as Heir of Avalon,” Sirius said. “You’re neither false nor ignorant, so it wouldn’t include you, Draco.”

Harry rose. “No, Draco’s neither. Show me around, Dragon?”

Draco rose, too. “Of course, Harry. Make yourself at home, cousin. I’m going to give Harry the tour.”

Sirius chuckled. “Of all the broom closets, I suppose.”

“No, of course not,” Draco said, pompously. “I’ll just take him to my room.”

The rolling laugh that followed them out into the hall made Draco grin as he tugged Harry toward the stairs.

“So we’re headed to your room, then?” Harry asked, smiling a little.

“Absolutely. I need a snog,” Draco said briskly.

“Just the one?” Harry asked, speeding up a bit.

“Well. We can start there.”

Ten minutes later, the boys were panting into each other’s mouths, face-to-face and heart-to-heart on Draco’s four-poster bed.

“Aren’t we supposed to have a chaperone?” Harry gasped out between kisses.

“House-elves,” Draco muttered back briefly. “They’ll have the room monitored.”

“Good,” Harry said, diving back in with his tongue.

They carefully kept their hips away from each other as they snogged, not wanting to go too far, but too heated to realise they were headed that way anyway. A house-elf popped into the room and dumped a bucket of cold water on the pair, who sputtered apart.

“Mopsy is being sorry, Master Draco, but you tripped the chaperone spell,” the little elf said. “You knows the rules at home.”

“Thank you, Mopsy,” Draco gasped out, and jumped out of bed, holding out a hand to Harry. “Come on, love, let’s get dried off before we head back to Hogwarts.”

They took turns drying each other with a spell, then headed back downstairs, hand-in-hand, to face Sirius and Narcissa, whom they found in the library.

“Ah, there you are,” Sirius said, looking up from his book with a twinkle in his eye. “Have a nice tour?”

“More like a wet one,” Harry muttered. “Mopsy got us with a bucket of ice water.”

“Boys, boys, boys,” Narcissa said softly, shaking her head. She had a twinkle in her own eye. “You are too young to be needing a bucket of ice water. It’s better to make a decision to be betrothed, after all, rather than let magic decide it for you.”

“Right, Mum, thanks,” Draco said dryly. “I think we need to head back to Hogwarts.”

“Likely,” Sirius said, rising. “Narcissa and I plan to seek out and destroy the Horcruxes. Leave them to us. We saw a promising spell…”

“Well, yes,” Narcissa said. “If we can find one Horcrux, we can use it to track the others and destroy them all at once.”

“Since we know you were a Horcrux, Harry, albeit an unplanned one, we might be able to use you, but I’m reluctant to do so if we could find an object,” Sirius said. “The spell doesn’t specify what happens to the focus object.”

“Yeah, rather not be an experiment, me,” Harry said. “Again. But we do know where another Horcrux object is.”

Sirius looked up from the book. “Where?”

“Dumbledore’s office. He’s got the diary.” Harry nonchalantly picked up another book. “I mentioned that to Draco.”

“But not to me.” Sirius stroked his goatee with two fingers. “Why don’t I have a chat with Dumbledore about Horcruxes, pup? He’ll be expecting me, anyway. I’ll have to tell him we know about yours, and that it’s gone.”

“I’m starting to think it’s wiser to work with him at this point,” Draco said, tiredly. “He’s becoming an obstacle because of his inability to share information or keep Harry informed about his own life. If he knew the prophecy this whole time, that explains why he wanted to keep control of Harry, and also why he did such a piss-poor job of it. Wouldn’t want Harry to be too attached to living, now would he?”

“Draco, that’s unkind,” Narcissa admonished but sighed. “I’m afraid you’re right, however.”

“Take back-up,” Harry said abruptly. “I don’t want you falling into a memory charm.”

Sirius regarded Harry warmly. “Of course. Perhaps Severus wants to play? He’s rightly livid.”

“A good choice,” Narcissa nodded. “The Headmaster will never quite understand how it is the pair of you are working together.”

“Which reminds me,” Draco said, “that you had plans for Harry’s relatives. Care to share?”

Harry looked up from the book, green eyes focusing on Sirius’ face. “I don’t really want them dead, you know,” he said softly. “Petunia is still my mother’s sister, and Dudley is a waste of space who happens to be my closest remaining blood relative aside from her.”

“Not dead, pup, no, though that would be perfectly legal,” Sirius assured him. “Just a minor karma curse here and there. Though Lucius did buy Grunnings. Not sure what the fat bastard Dursley will do without a job, but we’re about to find out.”

“And the Headmaster did, in fact, dismantle the wards,” Narcissa said. “Severus was quite put out to find that they were barely working. And I believe Dumbledore was even more so, as he’d based them on your mother’s love and sacrifice, assuming Petunia would also love you. He was quite wrong, and he’s of an age and status where being wrong is difficult for him to swallow.”

Harry went quiet, then extended a hand to Draco. “Let’s go, please.”

“Pup,” Sirius began, but fell silent at a look from Draco. He then cleared his throat. “I’ll apparate you to the alley behind Honeydukes.”

“That’d be great,” Draco agreed readily. “Got everything you need, Lord Potter?”

Harry gave him a small grin. “Right here.” He held up Draco’s hand, firmly ensconced in his own.

Draco melted. He was fairly sure he heard his mother coo, too.

Sirius just winked at Draco and led the pair out with a wave back at Narcissa.

The trip back to Hogsmeade went smoothly. Sirius used his glamour necklace, and as they all got to the alley, Draco and Harry checked each other over, then said goodbye to Sirius in order to blend in with the crowd of students still in Hogsmeade.

They picked up some good chocolate from Honeydukes, browsed through Zonko’s, and then headed for the Three Broomsticks for a butterbeer and a plate of fish and chips, not eager, yet, to return to Hogwarts.

Draco crunched his fish happily for a moment, then reached over to squeeze Harry’s knee. “It’s all right, you know.”

Harry looked up from where he was idly drawing on his plate with a chip. “What’s all right?”

“Your family will be fine, in the end,” Draco said. “We know you’re not interested in actively harming them. But we can’t let their treatment of you stand, Harry. We love you. I love you. I only wish we had known earlier so that you wouldn’t have had to return there.”

“I wish I hadn’t been placed there at all,” Harry said quietly. “Petunia and Vernon, they really hate magic. I mean loathe it. And I know they wanted another kid and they wanted a bigger house, and they were stuck there. Now I know it’s because of the wards and whatever magic Dumbledore worked to get them to take me in. I think we’re all just going to be happier at a distance.”

Draco let that sink in, then sighed. “Fucking Dumbledore.”

Harry nodded.

“Right, eat those chips, please,” Draco said in as haughty a tone as he could, just to see Harry roll his eyes and grin. But Harry finished the chips.

Draco got an owl delivery from his mother the next morning that included the Manor’s library copy of Becoming One with the Beast. He held it up so Harry would see it from his place next to Hermione at the Gryffindor table, and Harry grinned before beckoning him over.

He finished his last bite of eggs, then took himself over the Gryffs and sat himself across from Harry with a flourish. “As requested.”

Harry took the book. “Excellent.” Hermione leaned over to see, and he showed her the title. “So we can start the…” He looked around. “Well, I’d guess you’ll put it together.”

“Oh, Harry, that looks like a brilliant idea!” Hermione said. “Can I read it?”

“Draco and I are going to work on this together,” he told her, then glanced up at his intended. “Can she join us?”

Draco shrugged. “I don’t mind. All knowledge is useful, anyway.”

“With that attitude, how did you not become a Ravenclaw?” Hermione wondered out loud.

“I was indulged,” Draco said with a smirk.

“Same way I became a Gryffindor, I reckon,” Harry commented absently, paging through the first chapter. “Though it took me a while longer to convince the hat not to put me in Slytherin.”

“You were supposed to go into Slytherin?” Draco asked, amused.

“Well, the hat wanted to put me there, but I met this snarky bastard on the train and thought, ‘anywhere but there,’ please,” Harry said, looking up to smirk at his intended.

“Hidden depths, Potter,” Draco drawled. “Hidden depths.”

Hermione giggled.

A sleepy Ron came up to the table and took the seat on Harry’s other side, drawing a platter of fried eggs to him. “Alright?” he muttered, in a general kind of way, as he speared a few eggs onto his plate.

“Fine,” Harry said.

“Still, it’s exciting, isn’t it?” Hermione asked. “Getting started?”

“I think it will be, yeah,” Draco admitted. “Shall we find a classroom after breakfast? Unless you have plans on this fine Sunday.”

“No, no, no plans.” Hermione tried to look over Harry’s shoulder. “I’d love to get started straight away.”

“What are you lot up to?” Ron asked, looking less sleepy. He shovelled some beans on to his plate and reached for the toast.

Harry eyed him. “Animagus transformation. Interested?”

Ron, thankfully, swallowed before answering. “Eh. S’posed to be hard, isn’t it?”

“As are most things worth doing,” Draco said crisply.

“Eh,” Ron said. “I’ll pass. I wanted to hang out with the twins today.”

“Bold of you to assume we want you along,” George said as he settled on Ron’s other side. “But as it happens, we’ve got some things we need help with today, so we’ll endure, Ronniekins.”

The tips of Ron’s ears got red, but he said nothing.

Harry crammed the last of his toast into his mouth, chewed, and swallowed it down. “Ready, then?”

Hermione and Draco followed him out of the hall to start their lessons.

Mum,

Meditating for the animagus form is challenging, to say the least. We’ve roped Hermione into helping us. Well, she roped herself, but we knew that would happen. I’ve managed to get as far as seeing a close representation of the environment my animal would be in, and frankly, it’s the sky, so I think we have our answer about who is the hawk.

Harry says he finds it easier to do this meditation bit now that he’s not got a Horcrux in his head, and I can absolutely see why. He’s finding himself in a cave in his meditations.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if Harry became a basilisk?

Oh, but I’m speculating. How is the Horcrux hunting going? Did cousin Sirius manage to get the old diary from Dumbledore? The Headmaster has been leaving us strictly alone.

Very much looking forward to Easter hols, Mum. I can bring Harry, right?

With love,

Draco

Dearest Draco,

Of course, you can bring Harry for the holiday. Make sure to let him know he’s invited because I’ll expect to see him.

Dumbledore accepted our invitation for lunch and discussion, and he was, as you suspected, flummoxed to hear that we knew about the Horcruxes. With that bit of information shared, he was very willing to hand over the diary and everything he knew about Tom Riddle, a.k.a. Voldemort. He had begun to believe that the Horcrux in Harry’s head meant he had to die to defeat Voldemort (which rather explains why he was attempting to take steps to secure the Potter line and money), and he was clearly relieved to be wrong. When told Harry was no longer a Horcrux, Dumbledore seemed to age before our very eyes. It had never occurred to him that some sort of family magic could work to expel the soul fragment.

The old and learned often get tunnel vision, or convinced they know the only way something can go, and it seems as though the Headmaster fell victim to that.

The Headmaster is working with Sirius, now, and he has arranged a formal hearing for Sirius next week. Because Sirius was held without trial, and because of the lack of evidence, Dumbledore expects that testimony under Veritaserum will be enough to clear him. We are planning for all possibilities.

Vernon Dursley has been fired for embezzlement. Petunia Dursley is furious, because she had no idea, and is now horribly embarrassed. We didn’t even have to magic the situation. Dursley really is that stupid.

My best to Harry,

Mum

As the party most directly affected by the events of Oct. 31, 1981, Harry was invited to the hearing of Sirius Black. He requested permission to bring Draco along, as moral support, and it was readily granted. Headmaster Dumbledore met the pair in the atrium after breakfast the Friday before the Easter holidays and walked with them down to the gate, saying very little. Draco thought he looked older than he’d ever seen him, as if the weight of his mistakes in the last fifteen years had finally settled on his shoulders.

Still, the twinkle was familiar as the elder held out his arm for Draco and Harry to take before apparating to the Ministry visitor entrance.

They made their way quietly through the phone booth, received badges that said “Moral Support,” and past the wand-weighing desk to the lift.

As they got in, Harry said quietly to Draco, “Is that ‘moral support’ for each other or ‘moral support’ for Sirius?”

“No idea,” Draco replied with a slight grin.

Dumbledore, who’d overheard, smiled slightly. “Best not to ask,” he said delicately. “I knew the witch who programmed the booth. She had an interesting way of approaching life.”

Draco looked at Harry, who seemed to be holding back a giggle. Draco wondered just how “interesting” a person had to be to get that description from the Headmaster as they exited the lift at the Courtroom level and were escorted to Courtroom 10.

“I don’t know that I was expecting to be in the largest courtroom we have,” Draco murmured. “I would have thought the Minister would like this hearing to be private.”

“Well, no,” Dumbledore admitted. “The Minister firmly believes in himself and his own biases. He wants to publicly exonerate himself with this hearing, and therefore, he wants a large audience. As that plays into what we need in getting the truth out, I allowed it to stand.” He escorted the boys to a seat on the defendant’s side, just behind the table set up for the defendant and counsel. “I am giving evidence, so I cannot preside over the hearing, but I have secured Madam Amelia Bones, who is, as I can attest, the fairest of witches.”

Draco looked around at the growing audience. “I don’t see …”

“Ah, yes, well,” Dumbledore smiled slightly. “He’s present. Madam Bones alerted me that Sirius had surrendered himself to her directly this morning. He’s in safe hands.”

Harry merely looked up, then looked away.

Dumbledore’s smile faded out at the lack of acknowledgement, and he took his seat on Harry’s other side.

A tall, stately looking woman in rich, formal robes of purple came in through a side door to take a place at the dais at the front of the room. Cornelius Fudge and a vaguely toad-shaped woman in pink arrived through the main door and took a seat in the front row behind the prosecutor’s table. A wizard whom Draco did not know sat at what was presumably a secretary’s desk, to record the proceedings.

The woman, whom Draco presumed was Madam Bones, banged a magical gavel, which boomed, and the low buzz of conversation that Draco hadn’t really registered beforehand quieted.

“I call this hearing to order,” Madam Bones said. “I am Madam Amelia Bones, head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and as our Chief Warlock has recused himself from these proceedings I am the presiding judge for the hearing into the events of October 31, 1981, and the guilt or innocence of Sirius Orion Black.”

The low buzz came back with a slightly higher tone, but Madam Bones banged her gavel again, and it diminished.

The Minister rose. “Amelia, I believe this is all unnecessary. Sirius Black was found guilty thirteen years ago. If he’s turned in now, he’ll get this Kiss by my order. And that’s the end of it.”

“Your objection is noted, Minister, but your facts are in error,” Madam Bones said calmly. “The first item we must enter into the record is the acknowledgement of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement that Sirius Orion Black did not have a trial. Since alerted to the possibility, my department has gone through every possible record of that period and found no trial on file for Sirius Black. This means, of course, that we held the Lord Presumptive of the House of Black without hearing or trial, in Azkaban, until he took it upon himself to leave almost two years ago.”

Bedlam broke out behind them, but Madam Bones merely waved her gavel, and silencing wards fell. “In our investigation, we also found three others who were sent to Azkaban without trial, and we will conducting hearings in those cases as well.”

“Preposterous!” Fudge sputtered.

“Apparently not,” Bones responded, and adjusted her glasses. “We currently are searching for my predecessor in this position, Bartemius Crouch, Senior, who has been absent from his Ministry position since the Second Task of the Triwizard Tournament. His assistant, Percival Weasley, has been taking on Mr Crouch’s tasks in his absence. That investigation is ongoing.”

The news that Crouch was apparently missing made Draco’s eyebrows rise, and if not for the silencing wards, Draco was sure he would be able to hear the slurs and shouts he could see being mouthed around him. He looked up and to the right—the space where his father habitually sat while in session, and caught Lucius’ eye. Lucius gave a slow nod, and Draco pressed his lips together. Well, then.

“The second item we need to confirm is that the investigation into the events of October 31, 1981, apparently did not happen or was left incomplete,” Bones continued. “At this time, I would like to call Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore to the dock to give testimony.”

Dumbledore stood, and moved toward the throne-like chair in the centre of the room. The chains on it rattled, but he smiled at them faintly as he stood in front of the chair, and they relaxed.

“Please take the oath,” Bones said.

“I, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, swear on my magic that the testimony that I am about to give in this hearing is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so far as I know it to be.” Dumbledore’s wand tip glowed, and he sat down.

Interesting, Draco said. No real loopholes in that, aside from truth only for the duration of the hearing, which made sense. He laced his fingers through Harry’s as Madam Bones asked her first question.

“Mr Dumbledore, what was your role in the events of October 21, 1981?”

Dumbledore pressed his lips together. “I was deeply involved in those events.”

“How so?”

Dumbledore drew a deep breath. “In the summer of 1980, I became aware that the wizard formerly known as Tom Marvolo Riddle, also known as Lord Voldemort, planned to target the Potters for death.”

Draco admired the cheek. That “became aware” was a stroke of genius, really; it left out his spy network and his knowledge of the prophecy. He squeezed Harry’s hand a Iittle as they listened.

“I suggested the couple, who were expecting a baby at the time, retire to their cottage in Godric’s Hollow, where I helped set wards and offered to cast the Fidelius Charm on their behalf in order to hide them. The charm requires the use of a Secretkeeper, and I offered to be that person. But James had a different idea. He thought it best that Sirius Black be their Secretkeeper, and Lily told me she would cast the charm.

“I had no reason to believe anything about that plan had changed. By the time everything was in place, Harry James Potter had been born. James allowed me to place personal wards on all three of the Potters, tied to orbs in my personal study at Hogwarts. On October 31, 1981, I was in my study when James’ orb shattered.”

Draco squeezed Harry’s hand even harder, and Harry squeezed back.

“As I did not know the Secret, and thus, only vaguely knew they were in Godric’s Hollow, I could only alert their friends and attempt to head that way myself. My Floo was shut down, of course, because Hogwarts was on a war footing, and I scooped up Lily’s and Harry’s orbs as I ran toward the front doors, sending messages to anyone I could think of. Lily’s orb then shattered in my hands, and I hastened out the door to the front gate, running into our groundskeeper, Rubeus Hagrid along the way.

“I told Hagrid what was happening and pulled him along with me, apparating to Godric’s Hollow. We arrived to find half the house gone. I could see smoke rising from the wreckage, and I could hear Harry screaming. But curiously, I could not sense Voldemort. I cast the Revelio charm, and found only Harry. I urged Hagrid to go up and get Harry, and get him to safety at Hogwarts before coming to the Ministry to alert Bartemius Crouch, Senior, of the tragedy.

“I was detained. Bartemius refused to listen to reason, and by the time I managed to convince him that we were needed at Godric’s Hollow, Hagrid had taken Harry to Hogwarts, and much of the magical evidence we would normally have needed for a complete investigation had been trampled on by onlookers. I helped secure the bodies of Lily and James, then started looking for Sirius. Remember, as far as I knew, he had been the Secretkeeper, and thus responsible for these events.

“I confess I was angry,” Dumbledore said quietly. He paused. Draco looked around and saw that many of the faces in the packed courtroom, silent under the wards, were rapt. “I told Bartemius that Sirius was responsible and went back to Hogwarts to check on Harry.”

“You said you had no reason, then, to believe that the original plan had changed,” Bones said. “Do you now have reason to believe that something changed?”

“Yes, I do,” Dumbledore said. “At the end of last year, it was proven to me beyond any shred of doubt that Sirius Orion Black was not the Potters’ Secretkeeper, and thus, not responsible for the deaths of the Potters.”

“Do you have evidence?”

“Memories only, Madam Bones,” Dumbledore said. “Of a magical artefact that recognised the current living existence of Peter Pettigrew.”

“Peter Pettigrew?” Bones asked.

“Peter was a friend to the Potters, as well,” Dumbledore said. “It is he whom Sirius confronted on a London street, and he whom I believe caused the explosion that killed the thirteen muggles on that street. We believed him dead. We awarded his mother the Order of Merlin on his behalf. But this magical artefact said he was alive, and it cannot be fooled.

“It seemed to me that this cast doubt on the entire story.”

Madam Bones nodded, and shuffled her papers. “Thank you. I reserve the right to ask additional questions for the duration of this hearing, and I hold you to your oath.”

A light flashed, and Daco presumed that meant Dumbledore was still under oath as he made his way back to his seat.

“As we cannot find Bartemius Crouch, Senior, we cannot know what he was thinking when he sent Sirius Black to Azkaban without a trial or even an interview. But I think, based on Mr Dumbledore’s testimony, we can assume that Mr Crouch took Mr Dumbledore’s word that Sirius Black had to be guilty and sent him straight on to Azkaban. However, doubt has now been raised, and we need to discover if, in fact, the Ministry sent an innocent man to prison without trial.”

“Even if he is innocent of the original charges, he is not innocent of breaking out of Azkaban!” The Minister shouted.

“Believe it or not, Minister, it is not a crime to leave a prison you are visiting,” Bones said coolly. “And as Lord Black was not legally held in that prison, he was well within his rights to leave.”

Draco watched as the Minister paled. “Lord Black?”

“Yes,” Bones said. “Lord Black claimed his title several weeks ago and has been petitioning the ICW and the Ministry for a hearing or trial ever since.”

“But magic wouldn’t have allowed a guilty man to claim the title,” Fudge said stupidly.

“And thus more doubt is cast,” Bones said. “Additionally, it has been found magic still recognizes Lord Black as Harry Potter’s godfather and magical guardian.”

Again, Draco was grateful for the silencing wards.

“We can’t just declare his innocence,” Fudge said desperately. “This is all circumstantial.”

“It is,” Bones acknowledged. “Which is why Lord Black is waiting, under guard, to present his testimony under Veritaserum.”

“Hem, hem,” the toad-like creature next to Fudge said, clearing her throat in preparation to speak. “With the Kiss on sight order from the Minister in place, how is it that Mr Black has not been rendered incapable of testifying?”

Bones pursed her lips. “Madam Umbridge. Lord Black turned himself in to the International Confederation of Wizards, who have sent him to us under the protection of their Hit Wizards. As you know, the ICW has banned the use of dementors in most cases, and they are quite vocal in their opposition to our use of dementors as guards and soul executioners. We are not legally allowed to enforce the Minister’s order.”

Fudge had turned grey, which satisfied Draco’s very soul.

“As it happens, we are ready for Lord Black at this time.” She rapped her gavel twice, and the side door through which Bones had entered opened, and Lord Sirius Black, in all his shiny, polished glory, walked through, unaided, but flanked by two extremely good-looking men in gold Hit Wizard robes.

Draco heard Harry snort, and he turned to his intended. “What?” he asked softly.

“I think I’m looking at Sirius’ independence celebration right there,” Harry said quietly, trying not to laugh. That made Draco snort, too.

Sirius winked at the couple as he stood in front of the chair, his escorts arranging themselves on either side of it.

“Speak your oath, Lord Black,” Madam Bones said.

“I, Lord Sirius Orion Black of the House of Black, swear on my magic that the testimony that I am about to give in this hearing is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so far as I know it to be.” Having no wand, Sirius calmly manifested a ball of light in his hand, then extinguished it by closing his fist. He sat down in the chair, glared at the chains, and crossed his feet at the ankle. He remained unencumbered.

“The first question I must ask, Lord Black, is this: Will you be willing to give testimony under Veritaserum should it be required at a formal trial?”

Sirius nodded, and said, clearly, “Yes, of course.”

“At this time, your oath is sufficient. Should this be challenged, Veritaserum will be used,” Bones said, then continued. “Were you the Potters’ Secretkeeper?”

“No, I was not.”

Draco marvelled at the silent bedlam.

“Do you know who the Secretkeeper was?”

“Yes, Madam.”

“Please explain to us what happened in your own words.”

“James came to me with the word that Dumbledore believed he, Lily, and the sprog to be in grave danger. He wanted our opinion about whether he should follow through with the decision to use the Fidelius Charm. At the time, Potter Manor had been burned to the ground by Death Eaters, and they’d settled down in a house at Godric’s Hollow. We went round and round about it for some time, but we finally agreed that with the wards Dumbledore helped set, and the Fidelius, the house was as well secured as we could make it.

“For operational security, we decided to leave Dumbledore out of the actual casting of the charm. Lily was gifted in charms and more than talented enough to do it herself. That left only the choice of Secretkeeper. In those initial discussions, which included Dumbledore’s input, we discussed me being the Secretkeeper. But in the end, I talked James into using Peter.”

“Why Peter Pettigrew?” Bones asked.

Sirius looked a little ashamed. “Peter was, I thought, not a very talented or charismatic wizard. I thought he’d be the last person anyone would think of when they thought of a Secretkeeper. James agreed and Peter was gracious about it. Lily cast the charm, Peter told me the secret, and I stayed in public, making a big splash of myself, drawing attention away, I thought.”

“What happened the night of October 31, 1981?” Bones asked.

“I felt the wards ping, and knew something had happened,” Sirius said. “I got to Godric’s Hollow as soon as I could, to see Hagrid picking Harry up out of his crib. James and Lily were dead, the house was on fire, and all I could think about was finding Peter. I thought the Death Eaters had gotten to him, and I needed to get him help. I gave Hagrid my motorcycle so that he had a way to get Harry to Hogwarts safely, and apparated to Peter’s flat.”

“And then?”

Sirius looked a little choked up. “It was perfect. No sign of a struggle at all. I turned around in his little space, and I realized that the secret hadn’t been tortured out of him at all. He’d given it away.”

Draco held on to Harry again, letting his intended squeeze as hard as he needed to.

“I decided to track him down,” Sirius went on, as if in a daze. “I shifted into my Animagus form, and found a scent trail.”

“You have an Animagus form?” Bones interrupted.

“Yes, I’m a Grim,” Sirius said. “I hadn’t registered the form in Britain, but it was registered with the ICW.”

“Hmmm.” Bones raised an eyebrow. “Continue.”

“I followed the scent trail to the street, and down to a local park, where I found Peter in the company of two masked and cloaked Death Eaters. They had him at wand point, and for a moment, I thought perhaps I’d gotten it wrong. But then I heard Peter say, ‘It’s not my fault it didn’t work! I told the Dark Lord where they lived. I didn’t know he would find trouble there!’”

Sirius looked down at his palms. “I snapped.”

Draco winced, and the crowd around him did, too. The Black temper was legendary.

“I don’t actually recall what happened next,” Sirius said quietly. “I came out of it when Peter cast ‘Bombarda’ at the gas line. We were blocks away from the park at that point. I saw him cut off his finger and transform—he has a rat for an animagus form—and head down into the sewer with the other rats. I just sat there, right there, on the ground, hysterical.

“Everything went black then, and I woke up in Azkaban.”

“We found your wand in evidence,” Bones said. “For the record, the last three casts were ‘Stupefy’ or ‘Expelliarmus.’ As far as we could determine, you were not the one to cast ‘Bombarda,’ nor anything else that could be construed as illegal in your pursuit of Peter Pettigrew.”

Sirius looked visibly relieved by that.

“You may be excused, Lord Black. Please be seated at the defendant’s table.”

Sirius nodded, then, the Hit Wizards flanked him as he moved to the defendant’s table, in front of Harry, and sat down.

“We have another relevant witness,” Madame Bones said. “I call Mr Remus Lupin.”

Draco craned his neck looking for his former defence professor, who materialised from the back of the courtroom and made his way down to the chair.

“I object!” Fudge shouted, to rolls of eyes around the Wizengamot. “Lupin is a known werewolf!”

“Which means he struggles with a common health condition,” Bones said coolly. “We would also need to take precautions should we wish to arrest him, as he is likely physically stronger. However, Mr Lupin is a wizard as well, and more than capable of taking the oath.” She cleared her throat and looked up. “Mr Lupin, your oath?”

“I, Remus John Lupin, swear on my magic that the testimony that I am about to give in this hearing is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so far as I know it to be.” He lit the tip of his wand, then extinguished it and sat down.

“Mr Lupin, what do you know of the events surrounding the night of October 31, 1981?”

“At the time, I knew James and Lily Potter were in hiding. I believed their Secretkeeper to be Sirius Black. It was the only thing that could fit the facts that I knew at the time,” Remus said quietly. “I did not believe they would choose Peter, who was, in fact, a rat animagus. I thought it to be Sirius. When Lily and James died, I felt it. Their deaths snapped the pack bonds I had with them. I knew Harry lived, and I tried to get to Godric’s Hollow, but was held back by the werewolves in the pack I had been visiting.”

“Why did they hold you back?”

“The Ministry had a habit then of killing werewolves first, and never asking any questions about it,” Remus said frankly. “The pack was concerned that I would be killed if I rushed forward at that time.”

“And later?”

“I was devastated when I believed Sirius to be the one who betrayed James and Lily. I went to Dumbledore, who told me to lay low. He said Harry was safe, and that the Ministry would strongly object to a werewolf being anywhere near the Boy-Who-Lived. He wasn’t wrong.”

Madame Bones looked through her papers. “Is it true that you bore witness to the fact that Peter Pettigrew is alive?”

“Yes, ma’am. At the end of Harry’s third year, with Sirius on the run, I saw Peter’s name on a magical artefact that I know to be accurate beyond doubt. It placed him on the Hogwarts grounds, and I rushed to the Shrieking Shack to find him cornered by Sirius, Harry, Hermione Granger, and Ronald Weasley, in rat form. We forced his transformation to human and received a confession. Our intent, with Harry’s input, was to turn Peter in so that Sirius could get a hearing like this one and the true betrayer of the Potters could be put on trial.”

“Why did you not?”

Remus looked ashamed. “It was the night of the full moon, and I’d forgotten to take my Wolfsbane potion.”

Draco saw silent gasps of horror erupt throughout the warded hall and turned to see his father’s eyes glittering at him through the crowd. They held each other’s gaze for a long moment, but Draco turned back when Remus started to speak again.

“I started to transform, and Sirius dropped his guard against Peter to engage me and protect the children. Peter escaped.”

Draco had wondered about that.

Madame Bones asked, “Would you be willing to testify under Veritaserum if required?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Remus said. “I can also provide memories.”

“Thank you, Mr Lupin. You may be excused.”

Remus left his seat and headed back to his spot in the back row, near the top entrance to the courtroom.

Madame Bones looked through her paperwork, then shuffled it together and stacked it before looking out at Sirius.

“Lord Black, it seems there are numerous things that counteract the common narrative that suggests you were the one who betrayed the Potters. Certainly, there’s enough evidence here to cast doubt on the story that was told at the time of your illegal incarceration. As this is a formal public hearing and not a trial, there is no need for a sentencing or determination of guilt or innocence; there is only a need to decide if a trial should be held.”

She looked sternly over the room. “Please remember that gossip is not evidence. Please remember that family reputation does not supersede individual actions. Please remember that long-held prejudice does not supersede truth.”

Draco saw members of the Wizengamot shake their heads, presumably grumbling under the silencing wards.

“Due to lack of evidence and the abundance of doubt, I am unable to bind Sirius Black over for trial. The Kiss-on-sight order is hereby lifted. Lord Black is free to go. Lord Black, I suggest you keep your escorts until your safety from this body can be guaranteed.”

Sirius looked relieved and composed. “I believe that might take some time, Madame Bones.”

She smiled slightly, then banged her gavel. “This concludes the hearing.” She lifted the silencing wards.

Bedlam.

Chapter 9

The following weeks to the spring holidays seemed to fly. Draco, busily studied for exams, wrote cheeky messages to Harry in their twinned journals and met up with his intended whenever possible in the Room of Requirement.

Outside of Hogwarts, Draco knew that Sirius continued working with Dumbledore to find and eliminate the Horcruxes and his mother did the background research that would allow them to do so. The tracking charm they were able to use on the diary led them into several places, including Hogwarts and Gringotts.

“The problem,” Sirius told the boys over the mirror one night while they were meeting in the room, “is that Gringotts and Hogwarts are both large places, so we’re looking to see what’s a logical place within those spaces in which to look for those.”

“Makes sense,” Draco said. “I mean, it’s likely the Horcrux in Gringotts is in someone’s vault, so you’ll have to identify who among Moldy’s followers is wealthy enough to have a vault and stupid enough to store something like that in it.”

“I can’t imagine they’re all that happy to have something like a Horcrux in the bank,” Harry observed. “Have you tried asking?”

“The best I could get, given the object itself, is that if we could narrow it down, curse breakers could be assigned to go through the vault in question and confiscate the Horcrux, as having it in a vault is a violation of the bank’s terms,” Sirius said. “Which is helpful, but we still need to do a bit of detective work. We did find one Horcrux at my mother’s old house, of all places, and another apparently sits in the house Riddle’s mother was raised in. We’re going for that one next.”

Harry leaned in to look at Sirius. “What about Hogwarts? Does Dumbledore have any ideas?”

“Well, he suggested the chamber of secrets,” Sirius allowed. “And don’t think you’re going to get out of explaining that whole fiasco. We’d need you, Harry, to help us access the chamber. But we’d like you to wait to investigate until an adult wizard can go with you. And otherwise, he’s stumped. The wards should have alerted him to such a dark object.”

“Unless it’s hidden from the wards,” Draco murmured.

Harry looked thoughtful for a moment, then called out, “Room, can you produce Voldemort’s Horcrux?”

A table in front of them shimmered, and a tarnished tiara that looked entirely innocent fell on top of it with a clunk.

“Huh,” Harry said, and turned the mirror around to show Sirius. “Found it.”

Sirius looked gobsmacked. “Well, hell.”

“Is that Ravenclaw’s diadem?” Draco asked, peering at it closely.

“What’s a diadem?” Harry asked.

“Well, it’s a kind of tiara. If this one is Ravenclaw’s—and I think it must be, because it’s got her motto on it, see?” Draco gestured to the print that read, “Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure.” “It’s spelled to impart wisdom to the wearer.”

“We destroyed Slytherin’s locket at Grimmauld Place,” Sirius said quietly. “If that’s Ravenclaw’s diadem, then it suggests Riddle was looking to make Horcruxes from the founder’s objects.”

“What’s still around that belonged to them?” Harry asked, conjuring up a silk bag in which to gingerly place the diadem.

“That’s the question, isn’t it?” Sirius said. “I’ll get in touch with Narcissa. And Dumbledore, I guess. Actually, you two should bring that to Dumbledore and let him destroy it. We’ve been using the Sword of Gryffindor, since it’s imbued with basilisk venom. Works a treat.”

Draco nodded, and Harry picked up the bag carefully. “Right, we’ll head to his office now.”

“Sounds good,” Sirius said. “Take care of yourselves, please.”

Harry waved casually as he ended the call. “Shall we, then?”

“Yes, let’s.”

Dumbledore looked gobsmacked to see the tarnished tiara and hurried over to them from behind his big desk in the Headmaster’s office.

“It’s Ravenclaw’s diadem,” Draco told the Headmaster. “Pity it has to be destroyed.”

Dumbledore halted his examination of it. “Whatever for? Think of all the knowledge we could gain from using it!”

Harry and Draco exchanged a nervous look, and Draco regretted not finding another witness for the Horcrux’s destruction.

“It’s a Horcrux, Headmaster,” Harry said gently. “We need to destroy them all, remember?”

Dumbledore blinked, and Draco’s worry increased. “But if I just put it on my head, like it tells me to, we might find another way!”

“Headmaster, don’t you think it’s a better idea to get someone to help you?” Draco asked. “You need a witness to this moment, surely? An adult wizard, perhaps? Shall we call Professor Snape?”

“He’ll want it for himself,” Dumbledore said rapidly. “He’ll want it and I won’t get to know everything.” The ageing Headmaster reached for the diadem, and Harry stunned him.

“Nice work, love,” Draco said. He regarded the Headmaster. “He obviously felt some sort of compulsion that we didn’t.”

“It’s a little weird,” Harry agreed. “Why this one?”

“Maybe because it’s been in Hogwarts this whole time?” Draco speculated. “Hard to tell. Why don’t you call Sirius and let him know what happened, and I’ll look around for something to destroy that thing with.”

He started exploring the Headmaster’s office while Harry spoke with Sirius. Numerous focus objects for personal wards, tracking devices, and other magical objects dotted the shelves, and the Sorting Hat took pride of place. He spotted nothing that could be used to destroy the Horcrux.

“Right,” he heard Harry say. “Draco, Sirius said they used the Sword of Gryffindor to destroy the locket.”

“I see no sword of any kind over here,” Draco said, turning to face his intended. “Just a bunch of magical devices and the Sorting Hat.”

“Can you get the Sorting Hat, then? I think I can call it to me through the Hat,” Harry said.

“Really?” Draco asked, reaching up to get the Hat.

“Well, yeah.” Harry kept an eye on the Headmaster as he placed the diadem on the smooth stone floor of his office. “That’s how I got the Sword to kill the basilisk with second year.”

“You know, I start to think I know everything about you, and then out pop out with something like that.” Draco handed Harry the Hat. “Do your thing, then.”

Harry reached into the Hat and pulled out the Sword of Gryffindor. “See?”

“Well, and I was so worried, too,” Draco said dryly. “Do the honours?”

Harry swung. The sword fell on the diadem, slicing it cleanly down the middle. A black spirit appeared, screamed, and dissipated.

“Done and dusted,” Harry said. “Think I’ll keep the sword. We should send for Madam Pomfrey. The Headmaster is not a young man.”

“And he’s a confused man, as well,” Draco agreed. “Dobby!”

The elf appeared. “Master calls Dobby?”

“Please let Madam Pomfrey know that the Headmaster has been stunned and is currently incapacitated in his office. We’ll wait with him.” Draco eyed Harry’s sword. “Also, can you please conceal this sword at Grimmauld Place? We’ll need it to destroy the others, and I’m afraid the Headmaster may be uniquely susceptible to the magics on the Horcrux.”

“Dobby can do that.” The elf took the hilt of the sword gingerly. “I’ll hand it to Master Padfoot directly, first.”

“Thanks, Dobby.”

Dobby popped out, and Draco looked at the man on the floor. “Guess we just wait for Madam Pomfrey then.”

The couple had been keeping vigil for just five minutes when the Matron bustled in. “What’s this about Dumbledore being stunned in his office?”

Harry spoke up. “He was being irrational, Madam Pomfrey. That object there—” He nodded toward the broken halves of the diadem— “seemed to be calling to him. It needed to be destroyed, and it appeared to be doing some kind of mind magic on him. I had to stun him for his own safety. We destroyed the object, but we wanted to make sure he was safe in your hands before we left.”

“Quite right, too,” the Medwitch said, kneeling next to the Headmaster and doing a scan. “Oh, dear.”

“What?” Draco asked.

“Oh, well, I can’t really say, as you’re not him or his next of kin,” Madam Pomfrey said. “But he needs St. Mungo’s, certainly. If you could go inform Minerva about what’s happened and that she’s in charge at the moment? I will take him through the Floo.”

“Certainly, Madam,” Draco said. “May we help in any other way?”

“If you could place those pieces into a silk bag—I have one here in my kit—and place them in my kit, that would be helpful,” Pomfrey said. “Staff will need to know what they’re working with to remove the damage here.”

Draco and Harry looked at each other. “The thing is, Madam, is that the object may still be dangerous,” Harry said slowly.

“The staff at St. Mungo’s are best equipped to deal with such things,” the Matron said tartly. “Please do as I say. I will bear your warning in mind.”

Draco shrugged when Harry looked at him again. “She’s not wrong.”

Harry retrieved two silk bags from the medical kit and used one to pick up the diadem pieces before placing them in the other. “Here you go, then,” he said, tucking the bags back into the kit. “We’ll head off to see the Professor.” They watched as she disappeared through the Headmaster’s Floo to St. Mungo’s, then made their way over to the Tower to Professor McGonagall’s office.

The Professor was not pleased to hear that the Headmaster had been taken to St. Mungo’s but gave them each ten points for their clear thinking and Harry’s good reflexes.

“I cannot fathom what that man was thinking,” she muttered before waving them off. “Head back to your houses now, gentlemen. Curfew’s nearly upon us.”

“Yes, Professor,” the pair chimed, before turning away to head to the landing, from which they would part ways.

With a little detective work, Sirius and Narcissa had determined that the vault in Gringotts that most likely contained the Horcrux had to belong to one of Voldemort’s old, loyal followers. That narrowed things down a bit. The pair had decided to focus on those followers in Azkaban, first. With the bank’s help, the vaults that still belonged to those followers were targeted first, and curse breakers found the Horcrux in Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault.

It was encased in Helga Hufflepuff’s golden cup.

“Destroying these objects is practically a crime against magic,” Draco grumbled to Harry one evening in the Room. “Moldyshorts ought to be held accountable for them.”

“Who says he’s not?” Harry asked calmly. “I’m sure whatever awaits him in the afterlife won’t be pretty.”

They were cuddled up on the softa, occasionally sharing a kiss. “So what’s left?” Draco asked drowsily.

“They think, arithmantically, that he was attempting to make six Horcruxes,” Harry said. “Sirius said that’s what the spell pointed to, and they found one under the floorboards of an old shack. It had a compulsion spell on it, too, but your mum dealt with it pretty easily, I guess.”

“So, we’ve destroyed yours, Slytherin’s, Hufflepuff’s, Ravenclaw’s, the diary, and the mysterious object under the floorboards.” Draco ticked them off on his fingers. “That’s six. Moldy himself makes seven. So all that’s left is whatever bit of him is still floating around?”

“Yeah,” Harry confirmed.

“Do they know how Dumbledore is doing?” Draco asked.

“They haven’t heard anything,” Harry said. “He’s just stuck in St. Mungo’s, as far as I know.”

“You didn’t stun him that hard,” Draco said, a bit miffed.

“No, so that means there’s something else going on,” Harry said. “I mean, they wouldn’t be keeping him otherwise.”

“Guess it’s none of our business.” Draco stretched like a cat and relished the feeling of his body rubbing against Harry’s. “How are you preparing for the third task?”

“Eh, it’s a maze,” Harry said. “Some creatures, some evasive tactics. Mostly I’m just studying new defensive spells like mad. It’s like a comprehensive exam for DADA.”

Draco snorted. “Well, then. Want some practice?”

“Not right now.” Harry clung to Draco a bit. “Want cuddles.”

“Fine,” Draco said indulgently, “but I’ll give you a run for your money tomorrow night.”

“Deal.”

Over the following weeks, Draco joined Ron, Hermione, and a host of their friends from all houses in training Harry to manage whatever came at him through the maze that had taken over the Quidditch pitch. They used an empty classroom donated to the cause by Professor McGonagall, who thought it best to keep an eye on the goings-on.

Professor Dumbledore had yet to come back to school. Apparently, St. Mungo’s staff had found a long-term, steadily worsening curse that appeared to hamper the brain’s cognitive abilities.

“Sirius says Dumbledore’s brother told him about the curse,” Harry confided one night. “It’s been acting on him for a long time. They think either Moldyshorts did it or ordered it done back when he was first rising.”

“I suppose that would make sense,” Draco allowed. “A truly Slytherin move. Take a strong wizard out of the game by allowing his mental faculties to deteriorate. Sort of smacks of revenge, too. Taking away that which made the man truly great.”

“Making it difficult for him to process information correctly, unable to analyze it right. Poor decision-making was the least of it, I guess,” Harry said. “He won’t be coming back to school this year. And even with the curse lifted, he’ll have a lot to process.”

“Well, at least the Horcruxes are gone,” Draco said. “Merlin knows that would make everything more difficult.”

“We still don’t know who entered me in the tournament,” Harry added quietly. “Or for what purpose.”

Draco took Harry’s hand. “So we’d best prepare you for the last task with as many spells as we can think of, Hermione can find, and Ron can stand being hit with.”

Harry laughed, but nodded.

They took time off from training at the beginning of June to celebrate Draco’s fifteenth birthday. Dobby brought Draco’s favourite chocolate cake, and Harry presented him with another piece of manly heirloom jewellery that made him squeal. The enchanted gold chain could be worn as a necklace or with a pocket watch, but it was meant to protect the wearer from most mind magics, making it quite useful. Harry got a thorough snog for his thoughtfulness.

A few days later, Draco beckoned Harry into a private alcove near the classroom they were using to train in.

“I have something for you,” he said, holding out a platinum bracelet that matched the one Harry had given him before the second task. “It’s got the same tracking spells on it as the one you gave me. If something should happen in the third task and you disappear…”

“You can find me.” Harry put it on without question. “Thank you, Draco.”

“I’m going to sit with my father,” Draco admitted. “If you’re taken, we’ll be right behind you.”

Harry kissed Draco’s cheek, then leaned back to look into Draco’s worried grey eyes. “That’s wise, love. Smart of you to think of it.”

“I just want you to be safe,” Draco said softly. “Safe, and loved. That’s all.”

“That’s all I want for you, too,” Harry whispered.

A voice from near them said, rudely, “And all I want is for the nauseating romance in the halls to stop.” The couple looked up to see Fred and George Weasley grinning at them.

“Right. Might be catching,” one twin said, looking at them with a wicked grin.

Harry rolled his eyes, but let Draco go, and led the way into the training room.

Chapter 10

The morning of the third task saw Draco up and out to the Great Hall early. His parents were bringing Sirius along with them to meet Harry after breakfast in what was being billed as a chance for the champions to spend the day with their families before the event commenced that evening.

We who are about to die salute you, Draco thought snarkily as he reached for the porridge and fruit.

He ate calmly as he waited for Harry to make his appearance at breakfast. His intended did not know about his visitors, and Draco planned to make the most of the surprise.

He watched as the Gryffindors started filtering in, Harry embedded between Hermione and Ron as they approached the table and started loading up breakfast. Draco finished his own meal and sauntered over to pester them while making sure Harry ate.

“Good morning, love,” he greeted Harry as he sat across from him at the Gryffindor table and nudged the bowl of porridge toward him. “This is really good today. Oh, and look, fresh strawberries.”

Harry looked at Draco with fond exasperation. “I can fill my own plate, Draco.”

“Yes, but it’s just so yummy!” Draco said, making exaggerated high-pitched noises and making their section of the table crack up.

Harry rolled his eyes but loaded some porridge and strawberries on his plate. He also said nothing when Draco added a peeled, hard-boiled egg, and poured him a cup of tea with milk and sugar. He did, however, give Draco a look that told him he knew exactly what he was doing, and wasn’t sure if he appreciated it or not.

Draco’s return look essentially told him to suck it up.

Harry picked up his spoon and started in on the porridge. “You’re right,” he said, surprised. “This is good.”

“As if I’d let you eat something that wasn’t,” Draco mocked. “The elves here really know how to make porridge taste scrummy.”

Draco kept up the light patter, adding bits of interesting foods and fruits to Harry’s plate seemingly through sleight-of-hand. The Gryffs didn’t know quite what to do with him, but that was fine. He only needed to distract them, and Harry, from the nerves that Draco could see were beginning to take him over.

If something were going to happen, it would happen tonight.

Still, Draco did his best to keep Harry focused so that when Professor McGonagall approached with the news that the champion’s families were waiting for them, Draco himself was a bit startled.

“You don’t mean the Dursleys, do you, Professor?” Harry asked politely, and a bit desperately.

“No, of course not.” Professor McGonagall looked as if she’d eaten something sour. “I believe you’ll find a marauder or two waiting for you.”

Harry looked elated, bolted the rest of his tea, and started up from the table before pausing to hold a hand out to Draco. “Come on,” he said, and his smile went all the way up to his eyes.

Draco hopped up and jumped over the table to grab Harry’s hand and lace their fingers together.

“Mr Malfoy! A little decorum, please!” the professor tutted. Notably, she didn’t take points. Draco didn’t bat an eyelash as he called out, “Yes, professor!” while walking away at high speed toward the salon off the atrium of the Great Hall.

Harry’s brightly amused face made the effort more than worthwhile.

They approached the salon, and Harry poked his head in. “Sirius!” he exclaimed and dragged Draco in after him. “Narcissa, Lucius.” Harry nodded to Draco’s parents in turn, and Draco waved with his free hand.

“I didn’t know you’d be here.”

“It’s customary for the champions’ families to spend the day with them prior to the third task of the Triwizard Tournament,” Narcissa explained calmly. She looked amused.

“Right, just in case they die,” Sirius agreed, earnestly.

Narcissa slapped the back of his head, and Harry burst out laughing.

Draco noted that his father appeared nonplussed by the byplay, but not put out over it. Draco grinned at him. “Have they been acting like miscreant siblings in your presence for long, Father?”

Lucius cocked his head to the side. “No, actually, though I’m not surprised. How are you, son?”

“I’m well,” Draco said, swinging the hand that held Harry’s. “Very well, indeed.”

“Good,” Lucius said, and Draco could see that he meant it.

“Darlings, the Headmistress has given us permission to take you both around the grounds a bit,” Narcissa said. “We’ll have a stroll. It’s a beautiful day. Maybe we could have a picnic by the lake later.”

“I’d really, really like that,” Harry said, and Draco nodded, grin still firmly in place.

They strolled off around the grounds and found a nice clearing just inside the forest. Lucius cast privacy charms, and Sirius transfigured some stumps into nice, squashy armchairs they all curled up in. “So, I’ve news,” Lucius said. “It appears that the man claiming to be Mad-Eye Moody may not be who he says he is.”

Harry looked up, startled. “Then who is he?”

“I think, though I have no proof, that the man in question might be Bartemius Crouch, Junior,” Lucius said. “You know that a focus of the investigation here has been on who might have entered your name in the tournament, Harry?”

“Yes, of course,” Harry said. “Though with one thing and another, I’d kind of forgot.”

“Well, we didn’t,” Lucius said, gesturing to Narcissa and Sirius. “While they set out on their task, which I still know nothing about, I set myself to looking toward that angle. It had to be someone with access to the Goblet and to you, in order to be effective, but all of those closest to you would normally be untouchable.” He fell silent for a moment. “Of them all, the most suspicious was your Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. I have difficulty believing that Moody would not take every opportunity he could to make my life miserable while I am visiting Hogwarts. He detests me. And yet every time I have appeared on Hogwarts grounds this year, the man has made himself scarce. This makes me think that Moody is an imposter of some sort, or under the control of someone else.”

Lucius conjured up a cup of tea and sipped from it. “So I began to look into the remaining Death Eaters, and I think Moody might be somehow under the influence of Bartemius Crouch, Junior.”

“Barty?” Sirius asked. “I thought he died in Azkaban. I ought to know. I was there.”

“Yes. However, I discovered that Crouch Senior took his wife to visit Junior in Azkaban and that Junior died very shortly thereafter. When I thought about who might have had the motive to kill Harry, Junior was one of the first Death Eaters I thought of,” Lucius countered. “He had an unhealthy relationship with the Dark Lord, as did many of his followers who ended up in Azkaban. But he was the only one not accounted for if one discounts his death.”

“And why did you?” Draco wanted to know.

“I merely decided to confirm that he was, in fact, dead, and had his remains exhumed. Crouch Senior disappeared some time ago, no idea where he ended up, which is suspicious in and of itself for those of us who are paying attention,” Lucius explained. “And the remains in the grave at Azkaban showed traces of Polyjuice.”

“So the person buried at Azkaban is not Junior?” Harry asked.

“No, and I suspect they are of his mother, who was ill when she visited, and was also said to have died shortly after,” Lucius said. “Coupled with the fact that Senior sacked his house-elf after the World Cup for failing in her duty, a disturbing scenario comes into play. I suspect that Senior freed Junior and was keeping him under control with his house-elf in attendance.”

“And he lost control of Junior at the world cup,” Sirius concluded.

“Yes.” Lucius sipped again.

“You think Junior pulled a swap with Polyjuice so that he could get into Hogwarts and have access to Harry,” Sirius said flatly.

“I do, yes,” Lucius said. “But as I said, no proof.”

They all pondered this silently for a long moment.

“Well,” Harry said, breaking the silence. “What does that mean for the Third Task?”

Lucius pursed his lips. “I think we must assume that it is somehow rigged. It would not at all surprise me to see you trapped at the end of it.”

“For what purpose?” Draco asked.

Sirius’ eyes glittered. “To either kill my pup or use him to resurrect Moldyshorts.”

“How would they do that?” Harry asked.

Narcissa swept an elegant hand out in front of her. “There are several rituals to do so, but the most logical and easiest is the one that requires blood of the enemy, bones of the father, and flesh of the servant.”

“Ick,” Draco said, involuntarily, and the adults chuckled.

“So in order to do that,” Harry said slowly, “he would find my blood, his enemy’s blood, attractive.”

“I think so, yes,” Narcissa said.

“So, rigged,” Draco said, thinking ahead. “He needs your blood in ritual, so he’ll want to transport you somewhere.”

“The task is to get to the centre of the maze.” Harry swallowed. “Something there, then?”

“Probably the Triwizard Cup,” Sirius said. “He’ll have turned it into a portkey or something that will trigger a transport spell when you touch it.”

“Lovely.” Harry looked down at his hands.

“Well, so.” Draco lifted Harry’s chin. “We beat him at his own game.”

Harry lifted a brow, imitating Sirius. “How?”

“Make sure you get to the cup first, for one,” Draco said, “let it take you, and we’ll follow. With any luck, we can prevent the ritual altogether. If we can’t, well, we know he’s just as a man at this point, and he can be killed or taken into custody.”

Sirius pulled out his mirror. “Shall I tell Amelia?”

“You can tell your shag that we suspect foul play tonight, certainly,” Narcissa said bluntly. “But I think it unwise to interfere until events play out. We still don’t know where the Dark Lord is, and we can’t be sure we’re right until it happens. We know the Ministry won’t interfere with the tournament.”

Lucius tightened his jaw. “I can’t hear anymore of this. Apparently.” He lifted his left sleeve, and the mark was pulsating. “It’s disloyal.”

The discussion ended abruptly, and Sirius went off by himself for a quick walk in the woods. Draco squeezed Harry’s hand and tapped Harry’s bracelet. Harry got the message.

They spent a pleasant day roaming about the grounds, and after a dinner that saw Draco again adding delectable tidbits to Harry’s plate in a mysterious fashion, the group wandered down to the Quidditch pitch together. Draco waved his parents and Sirius off for a moment at the start of the maze, to give him a chance to be alone with Harry.

“Not subtle, that,” Harry observed as Draco made a shooing motion with his hands at the adults.

“Not meant to be, at all,” Draco retorted. “I just want a moment alone with you.”

“There are still a lot of people, Dragon,” Harry warned him. He looked around, where a crowd was milling about and looking for seats. “Best be cautious about what you say.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “Slytherin. No problem.” He caught Harry’s hands with his own and looked into the laughing green eyes. “Just. Be careful.”

Harry squeezed Draco’s hands. “Of course I will.”

“Let me rephrase.” Draco drew a deep breath, held it, and released it as he tipped forward to press his forehead to Harry’s. “Be brave like a Gryffindor, but think like a Slytherin.”

“I’ll do my best, love,” Harry said softly.

“And try to take the Cup by yourself if you can,” Draco cautioned. “Beat the others quickly and go. We’ll be right behind you.”

“Let’s hope we’re wrong,” Harry muttered, “but I hear you. We don’t need anyone else in the crossfire.”

Draco kissed him briefly, then stood back. “Go. Win. I know you can do this.”

Harry rolled his shoulders. “Right. I’ve got this.”

“You do.” Draco squeezed Harry’s hands again, then let go. “We’ll be watching.” He walked backward for a few paces as Harry waved at him, and then turned to jog up the stadium steps to find his parents.

They were seated, high up, with Sirius and Remus next to them. “Professor Lupin,” Draco said politely. “Pleasure to see you.”

“Mr Malfoy,” Lupin acknowledged.

Draco glanced at Sirius and raised an eyebrow, and his cousin shrugged. Not in on the plan, then, Draco thought. Interesting.

He turned his attention to the field, where Ludo Bagman had just begun the commentary. “Glory, yada, yada,” Draco muttered, mocking the man to amuse his father. Lucius remained blank-faced, but Draco could see the twinkle and slight creases at the corners of his eyes that meant he found the mocking funny.

He watched as the champions were introduced, and a horn blew to let Harry into the maze. From their vantage point, they could just see the top of the maze, and Draco could follow Harry as he made missteps, backtracked, and ultimately made his way closer to the centre. While it was hard to tell just who was who and what was what, particularly in the darkened stadium, Draco could vaguely see that Harry had made his way close to the centre. He watched as red sparks went up from a location near him, and then another set of red sparks closer to the centre. Neither marked Harry’s location, however, so Draco played with his bracelet for a moment.

Near the centre, he watched as the clearing there, which contained a pedestal that held the Triwizard Cup, began to glow with light. He could see that it was going to come down to a footrace between Harry and Cedric Diggory, a race Diggory would have run if not for the timely intervention of an acromantula. Harry rescued Cedric. “He’s such a Gryffindor,” Draco muttered, not noticing his mother’s faint smile or his cousin’s broad grin at that statement, intent on viewing his intended’s next move.

Harry helped Cedric sit down, then ran for the cup. He grabbed it and disappeared in a whirling flash of Portkey magic.

“Potter is first to the cup, and he will now appear right here on the dais!” Bagman bellowed.

A beat followed, then two.

“Right here, right now!” Bagman shouted again.

But Harry failed to appear, and Draco’s bracelet lit up.

“That’s our cue, Father,” Draco said, and held the hand with the bracelet out. Lucius grasped it, Sirius grabbed Draco, and Lucius spun on his heel.

Something felt wrong.

Draco landed with a crash on a piece of hard rock that at best, left a bruise on his tailbone. He quickly took stock of his body to be sure he had all his parts. His father had never, once, splinched anyone he’d side apparated. He’d been prepared for two passengers. This shouldn’t have happened.

“Draco!” He heard Sirius call for him.

“Here,” Draco said hoarsely, and his cousin, who also was intact, found him. “What happened?”

“Bounced off wards,” Sirius said. “Look.”

Draco turned around.

They were in a graveyard. A glimmering dome had been cast over a section of it, and Draco could see that Harry was bound to a grave marker inside it.

“Where’s Father?” Draco asked, immediately.

“He didn’t bounce.” Sirius pointed to a figure at Harry’s back. “He’s got a Dark Mark. I think Moldyshorts cast a ward to keep out any but those marked by him.”

Draco let out a string of profanity that Sirius looked oddly proud of.

“Impressive vocabulary,” Sirius observed. “Now, let’s get a little closer.”

The pair snuck up on the dome, keeping to the shadows, until they could hear what was being said inside it.

Harry looked unconscious, to Draco’s dismay.

“He’s been knocked out,” Draco whispered to Sirius, who hastily cast a Muffliato charm to mask their sounds. “What’s Father doing?”

“He’s…well, it appears that he’s helping Peter Pettigrew get a large cauldron set up. Is he under a compulsion, or just waiting for the right moment?” Sirius asked aloud.

“He knows we’re out here, but he also knows we can’t get in there,” Draco reasoned. “He’s playing along until he can find a way to get them both out of there.”

“Preferably before Moldy gets resurrected,” Sirius muttered.

“Unless he’s being compelled to help.” Draco said it flatly and looked at his hands.

“Hey, none of that,” Sirius cautioned. “Your father made a huge mistake, and old Lucy and I have gone round about it, but never doubt he is doing his best here.”

They watched in silence as Pettigrew raised a bone from the grave Harry was standing on, then dropped it in the cauldron. The rat then took blood from Harry’s already bleeding forehead and flung the few drops into the mix. Finally, the rat cut off his hand, and it fell into the cauldron.

“That is disgusting.” Draco shook his head. “C’mon, Father.”

As if he heard his son, Lucius looked straight up and into Draco’s eyes. He mouthed, “Stay there,” and withdrew his wand from the cane it normally hid in.

Harry’s eyes had slitted open, taking in his surroundings as he came awake under a silently cast “Rennervate,” and regained the use of his hands with the silent spell to remove his bindings. While Pettigrew was distracted, Lucius also managed to summon Harry’s wand and pass it to him.

“Robe me,” a high-pitched, rough voice said, and Draco’s attention snapped to the cauldron, from which a monstrous-looking pale creature had emerged. “Robe me, and hand me my wand.”

Draco swallowed back vomit as the hideous snake-like wraith accepted the black robes Pettigrew drew over him and took back his wand. “Now we will see who remembers,” it hissed. “Give me your arm.”

“My Lord,” Lucius said quietly. “It might be better to wait until we can ascertain what the boy knows. It would not do, of course, to reveal your hand too early.”

“Ah,” the creature paused. “My wily friend. Of course. That might be better. I know you’re awake, Mr Potter.”

The last two words were spat out. Harry slitted his eyes open a bit further. “Wow,” he said. “You look like a nightmare. Not at all like your teen self.”

“I have a body,” the creature—Draco refused to think of it as anything else—hissed. “And so I have my magic. That is all I need. And now, I need to know what you know about me. Crucio.”

A shield shimmered into view in front of Harry at the last moment, and the curse was diverted until Voldemort stopped it. “What is this?” he hissed again. “Wormtail, what have you done?”

“I’ve done nothing, My Lord,” Wormtail said. “I’ve done only as you asked.”

“Where is this boy’s wand?”

Draco saw the “Oh, shite” look cross Wormtail’s face and didn’t care.

“Ah, I disarmed him when I stunned him,” the rat hedged.

“And where is his wand now?” Voldemort demanded.

“Right here,” Harry said, flashing his wand, and snapped out, “Stupefy!”

The flash of red light was countered. “You’re armed, and you’re no longer bound. My, my. You do have hidden talents.”

“One or two,” Harry said coolly. “Perhaps.”

Draco could tell that Harry was doing his best to divert attention from Lucius, to claim he’d had the skill to do a wordless shield cast. And he could tell, too, the instant that Voldemort realised that Lucius had betrayed him. The next Crucio flew directly at his father, who took it and fell.

Harry yelled, “No!” and sent an “Expelliarmus!” right at Voldemort, who wasn’t quick enough to deflect. The wand went sailing, but the creature recovered quickly, summoning the wand back to hand wandlessly.

“Protecting each other, how quaint,” Voldemort hissed. “Why would my most faithful help you? Why would anyone help such a weak, useless boy?”

“Stopped you in your tracks, though, didn’t I?” Harry noted, wand up and ready. “When I was only a baby. Oh, and when I was 11. And 12. Oh, wait; that’s three times I’ve defeated you, arsehole.”

Several things happened at once. Voldemort hissed out “Avada Kedavra,” and green light flashed from his wand. Draco heard a pop, and his father suddenly appeared right in front of Harry.

Lucius fell, the green light having taken him right in the chest.

And Draco screamed with rage, his magic shredding the ward that kept Sirius and him out of the protected area. He barreled into the space in between Harry and Voldemort, to get to his father. Sirius followed, quickly, and Harry jumped out of Sirius’ way as both snapped off “Reducto!” curses.

Voldemort’s head exploded.

The pieces spattered everywhere, but Draco paid no attention as he rushed to his father. Lucius had fallen in a slump, face down in the dirt, and Draco gently turned him over, not registering the murmured “Stupefy!” behind him that knocked Pettigrew out, or the low “Amelia Bones” that signalled someone making a mirror call. He held his father’s hand, deaf to the world that moved around him, until he registered Harry’s presence at his side. He didn’t set his father’s hand down; no, he wasn’t ready for that. But he leaned into Harry, his head tucked into Harry’s shoulder.

“Draco, love,” Harry said. “Your mum is here. Do you think you can let go?”

Draco shook his head negatively and burrowed further into Harry’s shoulder. Harry hugged him with the arm that had somehow tucked itself around Draco without his noticing. Vaguely, he registered his mother’s presence at his other side.

“Draco Lucius Malfoy,” he heard his mother say, sharply, in a tone that brooked no disagreement. “You will sit up, and you will act as befits a Malfoy and a Black before the Aurors get here.”

Draco moved to sit, slowly, trying to obey as Harry helped him up. “He’s dead, Mum,” Draco croaked.

“I know, darling, I know. But we must protect our position,” Narcissa said, calmly, though tears glimmered in her eyes. “With Sirius and Harry as our witnesses, you must take your father’s ring.”

Draco realised that the hand he held bore the Malfoy lordship ring, and he choked.

“And if it rejects me?” he asked hoarsely. “I couldn’t save him.”

“You did your best.” Sirius took a seat on the ground across from him. “You took those wards down when you saw him fall. It was quite a feat of magic.”

Draco dimly remembered that. In fact, he realised he was feeling quite tired.

“Best take the ring before the magical exhaustion truly sets in, love,” Narcissa said. “Please.”

Draco slowly let go of his father’s hand so that he could take it in both of his own, and gently work the ring off Lucius’ finger.

He sniffled a bit as he realised tears were dripping down his face, but as he set the ring on his own finger, Draco said, “I claim my father’s ring, that I might honour the Malfoy legacy.”

Time seemed to slow down to a trickle as Draco fell under the ring’s spell. A warm presence sunk through him, looking through every crevice in his psyche, healing his body, mind, and spirit as it tapped gently on his magical core.

Yes, of course, he whispered to it. All I am is tied up with you, now.

The presence sang, and the world came back into sharp relief. He noted that the graveyard now held several people, including the Aurors and the Minister.

Amelia Bones cut off Cornelius Fudge before he could approach the couple—no, the family—still seated around the body of Lucius Malfoy. “Lord Malfoy,” she acknowledged his new title as she addressed him. “Can you please tell us what you witnessed here?”

Draco looked at his ring, then straightened his shoulders. Beside him, Harry followed suit. “That man,” he pointed to Peter Pettigrew, “attempted to bring back Lord Voldemort from beyond the grave. He planned to use Harry’s blood to do it. When my father and I realised Harry had been taken somewhere other than the tournament stage, we used my bracelet to track him. Sirius came along.

“When we got here, Sirius and I bounced off the wards, but my father was able to get inside. Harry was bound, there.” Draco gestured to the grave marker. “While that man conducted whatever ritual he was after doing, my father managed to revive, free, and arm Harry. When the creature that emerged from the cauldron tried to kill Harry, my father stepped between them and took the curse. He died. I’m afraid I’m not sure what happened then.”

Harry took up the tale. “Draco shredded the wards to get to his father. Sirius and I each sent a Reductor curse at the creature. Its head exploded. Sirius stunned Pettigrew, and I came over to support my boyfriend.”

“Betrothed,” Draco corrected him, lacing their fingers together. “Please.”

Harry cocked his head to the side, then nodded. “Betrothed.”

“Terrible business,” Fudge said from behind Madam Bones. “Just terrible.”

“Minister,” Draco said icily. “If you would leave us to our grief, I’d appreciate it. Perhaps issue a statement to the Prophet about the incident when you announce Harry as the winner of the Triwizard Tournament?”

“Ah, a good idea,” Fudge said. “Of course, Lord Malfoy. I’ll look forward to meeting with you at your earliest convenience.”

Which will be approximately when hell freezes over, Draco thought uncharitably, but outwardly nodded. “Of course.”

“I’ll leave you to it, then, Amelia,” the Minister said cheerfully and turned a heel to apparate away.

Harry rolled his eyes, making Sirius choke back an inappropriate chuckle. They were, after all, seated around the late Lord Malfoy.

Draco ignored them both, then focused on Madam Bones. “I’m happy to provide a copy of a memory if that would help,” he offered. “But I’d really like to get my father back to Malfoy Manor for our funeral rites.”

“I would appreciate that, Lord Malfoy,” Madam Bones said. She sighed. “May I cast on him to determine cause of death?”

“Yes,” Draco said.

A whispered spell had the words “Avada Kedavra” appearing in green over the top of Lucius’ chest.

“Thank you,” Madam Bones said briskly. “You may take him now.”

Draco stood, and levitated his father. “If you would all meet me there?”

Narcissa held her hands out to Sirius and Harry. “I’ll guide you.”

“Oh, and Madam Bones?” Draco said, as if an afterthought. “You might want to check Alastor Moody for Polyjuice potion or something similar. He was the one who charmed the Triwizard cup, I think.”

“Directly leading Lord Potter into harm’s way,” Madam Bones said thoughtfully. “Yes, I think I’ll do that personally.”

Draco nodded, and using his ring as a portkey, he took his father home.

Chapter 11

Draco woke.

The first thing he noticed was how warm he was. The second thing he noticed was that Harry James Potter was wrapped around him like a blanket.

Interesting.

The third thing he noticed was that he was in his bedroom at Malfoy Manor, and memory rushed in like an unwanted guest bolting for the buffet table.

His father was dead.

The ring had helped him process and function last night as he conducted the rites that would lay his father to rest, and cremated the body. They would hold a memorial service later.

He’d led the rites, then broken down again, and Harry had taken charge, hustling Draco into his room to clean up, change into silk pyjamas and slid into bed. After Harry himself had showered and gotten into borrowed pyjamas, he’d crawled into Draco’s bed with him. “Betrothed” rather than intended opened doors, after all, even if the pair of them agreed to wait until they were a bit older to walk through all of them.

Falling asleep holding Harry felt amazing. Waking up with him felt even better. Draco buried his face in the curve between Harry’s neck and shoulder and decided he’d prefer never to leave that spot.

Unfortunately, his movement must have awakened Harry, because his betrothed raised a hand to stroke through his hair.

“Good morning,” he heard Harry say.

“Morning,” Draco mumbled. He moved his head down so that it rested on Harry’s chest, and he listened to his heartbeat for several long moments, content to let his hair be played with.

“If you want to talk, I’m here,” Harry said, hesitantly.

Draco sort of wiggled around a bit, then muttered, “Nothing to say, really. My father’s dead. Voldemort’s dead. Well and truly gone. We should be celebrating that, but I…”

“Can’t.” Harry finished the sentence for him, nodding. “I understand.” Harry took a deep breath. “I killed someone last night.”

Draco slowly sat up so that he could look Harry in the eye. “You defended us. You defended the wizarding world. You fulfilled the prophecy, and I think you did so without all the strings Dumbledore was attempting to attach to you.”

“‘Shall he not be bound,’” Harry said softly, thinking.

“He will rise as the Heir of Avalon,” Draco said, nodding.

“But not today, I think,” Harry said, rolling them so that he could press Draco into the sheets. They both groaned a little and adjusted their hips so that they weren’t in any danger of rubbing off on each other. “Today I’m just your betrothed.”

“The Lord’s ring gave me a sense memory, one of being my animagus form,” Draco confessed. “I’m pretty sure I’m your Hawk.”

Harry backed off. “Show me.”

Draco drew a deep breath, focused, and felt the magic rising up in him as he morphed into a relatively small, slim bird with silver, white, and black markings.

“Oh, you’re gorgeous,” Harry breathed, holding out an arm so that Draco could delicately perch on it. “Some sort of harrier I think? Not a smaller goshawk.” He ran a hand over Draco’s feathers, and Draco obligingly ruffled them.

A knock at the door startled them both, and Draco abruptly changed back into himself, tumbling both boys off the bed and to the floor. “Boys!” Sirius called. “I’m coming in.” He suited action to words and opened the door to find the pair trying to detangle themselves from each other. “What’s this, then?”

Harry blew hair out of his eyes and said, “Draco was just showing me his animagus form when you knocked. Startled him, I think because he changed back fast and we fell off the bed.”

“Really?” Sirius cocked his head to the side. “Can you show me?”

“Yeah, alright,” Draco said and detached himself from Harry to stand up, straighten his spine, and take a deep breath. He felt the change take him more quickly that time and Sirius took a quick breath.

“Well, well, well,” he said. “Montagu’s harrier. Beautiful predator, that.”

“We’ll have to look him up,” Harry said. “Can you change back on purpose?”

Draco cocked his head, then with a whoosh of magic, was himself again.

“That is an odd feeling,” he murmured, looking at his hands. “But I suppose I’ll get used to it.”

“That must make you the Serpent,” Sirius said, looking at Harry.

“We thought so, right?” Harry said. “I can still speak Parseltongue, after all, and it makes sense. In meditation, I managed to figure out that I’m ground-based, so there you go. Still haven’t tried to transform yet.”

“Want to give it a go?” Sirius asked, curiously. “I’m here to help you if it goes wrong.”

Draco nodded encouragingly.

Harry thought about it, then stood up himself, took a deep breath, and Draco watched as the magic drew up and around him. Within seconds, a black adder with grey markings took shape on the floor at their feet.

“Oh, Harry,” Draco said. “You thought I was gorgeous? Look at you.”

Draco felt sure that if snakes could roll their eyes, that’s what he’d be seeing Harry do. Sirius laughed as he got down on the floor and took a good look.

“You’ll be a nice size, pup,” Sirius said, looking him over. “You’ve got some growing to do, yet.”

Draco watched Harry let the magic shift him back to Harry-shape. “That was fun, actually,” Harry admitted.

“So, the Serpent and the Hawk.” Sirius stood and swept his arms out grandly. “Ready to tackle the wizarding world yet?”

“Ready for breakfast, actually,” Harry said but looked Draco over. “Do we do breakfast in pyjamas at Malfoy Manor?”

“We do today,” the new Lord Malfoy said, and he led the way to the dining room.

Draco spent the day going over his father’s accounts, familiarising himself with the ward schemes, comforting his mother, and generally letting himself grieve. Sirius took Harry off somewhere to do something similar. After all, the pair of them had, in fact, killed a vaguely person-shaped creature last night, one that had put them both through untold amounts of grief, and the whole ordeal deserved a bit more processing.

Late in the afternoon, Dumbledore’s phoenix, Fawkes, arrived with a flash of fire and a note inviting Draco and Harry back to Hogwarts that evening for a Feast that would conclude the tournament. He offered the Floo in the Headmaster’s office. Draco, who had Harry’s mirror since he was off with Sirius, called Sirius on it to ask about Harry’s willingness to attend.

His betrothed scrunched up his nose when asked if he wanted to go.

“Do I have to?” Harry asked. “Only I’m not interested in being on display tonight.”

Draco shrugged. “It’s likely a good idea. They’ll want to close out the tournament somehow, of course. And it will be our last chance to see Viktor for some time, I’d guess.”

Harry shook his head. “Right. And I’d kind of like to know what happened with Professor Moody.”

Right. Draco had forgotten that bit.

“We should go,” Draco said, trying not to seem reluctant. “We’ll slip in as quietly as we can, gather some intel, say our goodbyes. Have a chance to look stunning and be admired by many.”

Harry laughed but didn’t disagree. “Fine, then.” He turned and talked off screen with Sirius for a moment, then came back. “Sirius will take us. We’ll Floo over and get you first. What time is the thing starting?”

Draco reviewed the invitation again. “Looks like 7, with a reception to follow.”

“Lord’s robes, then,” Harry said, decisively. “Might as well make a statement if I’m intending to be there.”

“Isn’t wardrobe usually my area?” Draco asked, amused.

“Well, I’ve had to learn a thing or two, haven’t I?” Harry pretended to brush lint from the front of his ageing red jumper, and Draco laughed out loud.

“There you go.” Harry smiled at him. “See you around 6:30 then? Sirius will apparate us to the gates if you’d rather not use the Floo.”

“No, I’d rather not,” Draco confirmed. “For one, it’d be like heading into an ambush. At least if we walk in on our own, we can have the illusion of control.”

Harry nodded. “Right. See you then, love.” Harry blew him a tiny kiss and said, “Harry out.”

The mirror went dark, and Draco set it down to seek out his mother and inform her of his plans.

Draco felt the weight of his Lord’s ring on his finger as he and Harry walked up the drive to Hogwarts. Sirius had apparated them to the front gate, then retreated to Malfoy Manor to stay with the grieving Narcissa.

Draco took Harry’s hand in his as they approached the front doors. “Ready for this?” he asked quietly. “The Feast is about to start.”

“We can slip in sort of quietly, I hope,” Harry said. “Maybe hideout at the Slytherin table?”

“And avoid the nosy Gryffindors, I assume?” Draco gave Harry a half-smile but nodded. “Fine with me.”

He didn’t notice the glow the archway gave off as the couple passed through it to enter the front door.

The first thing Draco noticed was that the Great Hall was packed. He and Harry found it easy to slide behind the Durmstrang contingent to make their way to Draco’s usual spot at the Slytherin table, and they quietly sat down.

Theo nudged a platter of roasted, stuffed chicken toward them, and each filled a plate. Sensing their mood, the rest of the Slytherins sort of clustered together all the more tightly, keeping Lord Potter, Triwizard Champion, and the new Lord Malfoy, generally out of view.

When plates were cleared, however, Draco realised that their efforts to remain incognito had been allowed, but in vain. At the front of the hall, the judges for the Triwizard Tournament sat, including the Minister, Percy Weasley, and a peaceful-looking Albus Dumbledore, who stood up to the podium. Ludo Bagman, he noted, was nowhere to be seen.

“Good evening,” the former Headmaster said politely. “Now that we have all eaten, and our Triwizard winner has arrived, we can get on with the final ceremony of the Triwizard Tournament.”

Harry sunk a little lower in his seat, but Draco just sighed and nudged him up.

“As you may have heard, our winner, Lord Harry Potter, was transported not to the stand upon which we planned to award him his prize money, but to a site where he was intended to be a sacrifice in order to raise Lord Voldemort from the dead. When his intended realised he was missing, he and his father, Lord Lucius Malfoy, along with Lord Potter’s godfather, traced him, and Lord Malfoy was able to intervene. Unfortunately, in doing so, Lord Malfoy lost his own life.” Dumbledore paused.

Draco retained his stoic face with difficulty.

Harry looked down at his hands.

“The conspiracy to return Lord Voldemort to a body failed,” Dumbledore continued. “One of the conspirators, in this very school, impersonated Professor Alastor Moody, who has been found, alive, and is currently in Madam Pomfrey’s care. His impersonator fled, but the DMLE knows who he is, and is on the lookout.”

A low murmur broke out at this but subsided when Dumbledore smiled kindly at them all and said, “I know it’s frightening, but you are all safe here, and the DMLE has the matter well in hand. The conspirators were not successful. Lord Voldemort is most sincerely dead.”

A ripple of general approval moved through the room, but it was quiet enough that Dumbledore didn’t need to say anything more.

“Thus, it comes to this: Lord Harry James Potter was the first to reach the Triwizard Cup, and thus has won the Triwizard Tournament. If you could come up, Lord Potter?” Dumbledore gestured to his left, where the Minister stood with a bag of Galleons.

Harry stood in place, but he failed to move, and Draco just knew his betrothed was going to do something brash.

“Sir,” he called out, “I was placed in this tournament against my will, and performed in it only because of the binding contract placed on me by the Goblet of Fire. It does not seem right to me to profit by this accident.” Harry firmed his jaw. “Therefore, I will be donating this entire sum to St. Mungo’s researchers, who are working to find a way to counter the Cruciatus curse. I do so in the late Lord Malfoy’s name, and on behalf of myself and my betrothed, the current Lord Malfoy.”

Cheers broke out, and the Minister, who was left literally holding the bag, looked nonplussed. Draco privately wondered whether it was the gesture, the quiet announcement of their betrothal, or lack of photo opportunity that made him appear so stupid, but decided he didn’t care.

Dumbledore twinkled at him. “I will ensure it gets into the right hands, then, Lord Potter. You may be seated.”

Harry sat down, and defiantly took Draco’s hand in his own.

Dumbledore let the cheers die down a bit, then drew a deep breath. “I am also here to make another announcement. As you know, I have spent a great deal of time in St. Mungo’s myself this spring due to a particularly insidious curse that left me unable to reason or process properly. While the curse has been broken, it has left numerous scars, and I am afraid I will not be able to return as Headmaster.”

Draco gaped, and he looked at Harry as the rest of the room sort of exploded again. “Did you know about this?” he whispered.

Harry shook his head no but looked to the podium as the whispers died down.

“Frankly,” Dumbledore said with a bit of a wry grin, “I think it’s past time I retired. Therefore, the Hogwarts Board has offered the position of Headmistress to Professor McGonagall on a permanent basis. She has filled in admirably over the last weeks, and I would like us all to offer her our heartfelt congratulations.”

This time, the cheers nearly lifted the roof as the Headmistress stood and gave a slight bow before sitting down.

“With that,” Dumbledore clapped once, and the hall shone with banners in all the Champions’ colours. “Let us enjoy each other’s company once more before our guests take their leave. Thank you all.”

As students left the big tables, they collapsed into the floor, and several smaller, round tables appeared in corners. Soft music began to play from somewhere, and a drinks table appeared near the front of the room.

“Interesting,” Draco said. “Looks like a party. Care to dance, Lord Potter?”

“I do, Lord Malfoy,” Harry said, cheekily holding his hand out. Draco took it, then spun him onto the floor to hold him close.

“This is what I wanted at the Yule Ball,” Draco whispered into Harry’s ear. “You, in my arms, in front of absolutely everybody.”

“Good thing for you that I wanted the same thing,” Harry said, just as soft. He grinned wickedly and dipped Draco, who burst out laughing as he was hauled back up and let go of Harry’s hands to cup his face.

“I love you,” Draco said.

Harry put his hands over Draco’s. “I love you, too.”

Epilogue

Ten years later

Draco woke up slowly, registering his husband’s presence at his side, curled up and still. The dawn was just breaking outside of their window, and he wondered, briefly, what had woken him before he heard it again.

A soft whimper.

Ah.

Draco eased himself out of the bed and padded over to the crib where their newborn son lay.

“Needing a feed and a change, love?” he crooned as he picked his little one up. Solemn, deep blue eyes, just edging into green, regarded him. “Did daddy get your 2 a.m. feed? I thought I’d slept a bit too long.”

Baby Bryan James Potter-Malfoy, Heir to two Houses, looked unimpressed. He whimpered again, and Draco deftly moved him to the changing table to take care of the nappy, then reached for one of the bottles they kept in stasis on the shelf next to it. He shook it up and sat with Bryan in the rocking chair. He let his son latch on, and rocked him gently while he talked softly to him.

“Your father is a menace, you know.” Draco smiled down at Bryan. “Working all day to make this world a better place for you, coming home and taking care of your 2 a.m. feed as if he’s not due to spend the day presiding over the Wizengamot and making more decisions for Avalon.”

Bryan blinked, and Draco took that for encouragement. “Well, and he’s been doing a fine job, hasn’t he? Revising the creatures laws, setting aside magical sanctuaries, setting up local wizarding primary schools. He wants this world to be a home for you, my love, as much as I do, and there’s been a lot of work to be done to whip it into shape.”

He’d drunk half the bottle, so Draco lifted it from his lips and put the baby up on his shoulder to pat his back until he was rewarded with a large burp. He settled Bryan back down in the crook of his arm to give him the other half of the bottle. Bryan latched on, and Draco continued talking.

“I’m so happy we found a way to make you, Bryan,” Draco said. “So happy we found that ritual, and that our friend Luna was happy to carry you. You are flesh of our flesh, blood of our blood, and we are so much better for having you here, in our lives.”

Bryan blinked again. Draco gently kissed his forehead as the little eyes, so open and solemn, began to close. He lifted the bottle from the baby’s lips and burped him again before he fell all the way under, his limited experience having taught him to do so. Bryan would sleep, again, for three hours if he did; for less than twenty minutes, if he didn’t.

A cuddle, another kiss to the forehead, and Bryan was laid back down in his crib with an “I love you” whispered into the dark. Draco made his way back to the bed and slipped in beside Harry, who had rolled over and cuddled Draco’s pillow while he was away.

He tucked himself around his husband and slept.


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Proffrankly

I’m an old nonfiction writer trying to learn how to write fiction. I enjoy many different fandoms, but was drawn back to writing fan fiction by BBC's Sherlock. I'm a total Holmesian.

43 Comments:

  1. Interesting take on the Malfoy family. I love the Sirius/Narcissa dynamic especially… And what an interesting twist on the Dumbledore thing.

  2. Thank you for a delightful and very interesting story. I enjoyed it immensely especially as it was all from Draco’s POV.

  3. Fantastic read.
    Loved from start to finish.
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful work.

  4. Aww, what a great ending! This was lovely all the way through.

  5. Awesome. This story was entirely awesome.

  6. I can see the influences, but there’s also a tone here that is uniquely yours. I really loved all the letters between Draco and Narcissa as well as Draco and Harry because it gives an extra layer of personality to see their written words. I appreciate what you did with Dumbledore here because it felt new and was unexpected. And I adore seeing Harry and Draco slowly become real partners with a solid future.

  7. Great Story. Thank you for sharing

  8. This is lovely! A really sweet romance, full of snark and fun. I also liked your adults adulting – it is one of my favourite things to see and the HP fandom needs them badly. Thanks for the fic.

  9. Awesome story

  10. This is a really great story. I especially liked how Lucius was shown, he was stuck but loved his family and wasn’t this horrible person.

  11. I very much enjoyed this story and will probably read it again in the near future.

    I love the relationship that Narcissa and Sirius have forged. I sort of hope Severus is included in their shenanigans.

  12. Delightful! Thank you for a wonderfully fun day.

  13. Oh, that was lovely! I really enjoyed it!

  14. Fearlesssisters

    This was great! Thanks for sharing it!

  15. Jill M Knowles

    This is wonderful!! Thanks for sharing!!!!

  16. What a great read — a lovely, “old-school” romance full of snark and fluff (in the best possible way)!

    Don’t get me wrong, I love me a good, intense angst-fest, but it was quite … refreshing to find a truly new story in the HP canon-verse -without- excessive drama and/or character bashing. (Totally agree with Prettygirlbpd, btw, that your take on Dumbledore was fresh and original!)

    Well done; Exceeds Expectations (at least)! 😉

  17. Awwww, that epilogue was lovely! The whole story was fab. I have made myself very behind for the day, as I couldn’t stop reading.

    I totally agree with everyone who likes your way of handling Dumbledore and Lucius. I actually felt sad for both of them!

    Very happy that you were persuaded to continue writing this. Thank you!

  18. Simply beautiful. Thank you for sharing. A lovely read.

    • notalwayshiding

      Great story. I loved all the positive relationships between the characters. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Really enjoyable read. Totally had me rolling on the floor laughing several times. Especially retrieving the diadem. Brilliant!

    Thank you for sharing

  20. Lovely! The dynamic between Draco and Harry was wonderful and seemed to flow so well. The changes in the Malfoy family as well as Sirius and Dumbledore were different but worked together beautifully. I loved seeing Sirius and Narcissa together like playful siblings. Thanks so much for sharing this lovely fic with us.

  21. Terrific, Prof. Thank you very much

  22. Terrific, Prof. I thoroughly enjoyed it
    Thank you very much

  23. Wonderful! Thank you.

  24. This was an utter DELIGHT!!! Thank you for creating and sharing a most magnificent read!!!

  25. This was so lovely! There was so much about this that just made my heart happy… all the things that you fixed, but especially the adults adulting. THAT was amazing, really. Oh, and Narcissa calling Riddle ‘Moldyshorts’. I straight-up laughed out loud at that. Best. Thing. Ever. Thanks for sharing!

  26. This was a delightful read! I enjoyed Narcissa’s character very much.

  27. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

  28. Lovely story! I absolutely love how you’ve worked Lucious here. And I’m in love with Narcissa and Lucious’ dynamic.

  29. Good story, thanks for sharing it with us.

  30. wonderful, I truly enjoyed it – thank you for sharing such an amazing story with us!

  31. I really enjoyed this, and laughed out loud at the subtle demise of Rita Skeeter.

  32. I really enjoyed this. Harry really did need some support in GoF. Well every year, but especially then. I too love To Kill a Mockingbird. I named Tony’s spirit animal after Atticus in one of my TS fusion fics. I enjoyed seeing how they analyzed all goings-on and tried to figure out what was really happening and what the motives were. I loved Narcissa’s ‘taking Lucius’ in hand’.

    Very well done.

  33. The boys are so adorable in this. So much fluff in part 1 and then it suddenly started getting serious in part 2 but you kept the boys relationship so sweet. Loved the portrayal of Malfoy family dynamics and Sirius and Narcissa working together to keep the boys safe. Thank you

  34. This was lovely! And I truly enjoyed the natural feel of the sum up in the epilogue. Thank you for sharing something so delightful.

  35. A lovely story, thank you.

  36. Such a fun story. You thought up a great explanation for Dumbledore’s actions, had adults act as such, and made it a great read overall. I even felt sad for a character I normally don’t feel empathy for. How the Dursley’s were handled was brilliant.

  37. Really wonderful story! Loved the Sirius, Narcissa interactions. Dobby not an owl!

  38. Adorable Drarry! I really liked where you got them together, it was a great jumping off point and made for a wonderful cascade of events and fixes. Thanks a bunch for sharing.

  39. I really enjoyed that, and the ending was adorable! Thank you!

  40. This was a lovely story. I enjoyed all the time I spent reading it. I like the Malfoys. I like Sirius and Narcissa’s relationship. I generally prefer evil Dumbledore stories (no idea why) but I loved that your Dumbledore was just human and had a reason to not be 100% on it. What a great take. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  41. Great story with some unique character development, thanks! (P.S. I too found Rita’s quiet demise rather amusing.)

  42. Greywolf the Wanderer

    nice!! I adore Narcissa, she is perfect!

    much fun was had, for which many thanks must be given! 🙂

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